Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The First New Liv Dolls of 2012

I am a big fan of Liv dolls in general, (you can read my introductory review of them here) even though I really don't care for the gimmicky "Twist and Dance" line.  Late in 2011, after the "Twist and Dance" line, Spin Master put out a "Spa" wave that included Daniela, Sophie and Alexis.  These dolls are advertised as having make up and hair that changes color under the influence of cold water, allowing the dolls to have different looks.  Sounds pretty neat, actually.  I never got around to buying one of these dolls, although I have been curious about how well this color change technology works in real life.  In any case, I think the Spa line came out in the summer and I haven't seen any new dolls from Liv since then...or hadn't until yesterday.

Yesterday, as I was hunting down the Friends LEGO at Target, I saw three new waves of Liv doll on the shelves!  I was very excited.  Let me get this out of the way right at the beginning: the "Sleepover" line of dolls, designed with eyes that close when they lie down (good idea!) and special "pillow fight" action in their arms were...bad.  I couldn't find a single doll in the store that had eyes that would open all of the way, making the dolls look sedated or sick...or worse, sultry.  Their faces are shiny--like they have a fever.  The lips are painted strangely.  I looked at every single doll, trying hard to like one of them, and had no luck.  I also think the pillow fight action is silly, but I could have overlooked that for a pretty face.  It was super-easy for me to dismiss these dolls at $19.99.

From a distance, however, I could already see that the colors on the two other sets are fabulous.  The first to catch my eye were the Liv "Brites," which are a Target exclusive:

Liv-Brites-Review
Sophie



Liv-Brites-Review
Alexis
Notice their wonderful extra-long wigs!  I am crazy about the orange one:
Liv-Brites-Review
You can also get Katie in purple 
These are gorgeous.  They each come in a brightly-colored retro mini dress with a coordinating wig and some matching pieces of chunky plastic jewelry for you, too.  My camera is making Alexis look funny, but the color combinations on these dolls are really striking.  The orange up against Alexis' darker skin and her vivid green eyes is great:

Liv-Brites-Review

Sophie's pink and yellow combo with her bright blue eyes also works well:

Liv-Brites-Review

The face paint is beautiful:

Liv-Brites-Review

Liv-Brites-Review

I thought these two were the most fun to look at, although Katie is pretty groovy, too.  

The other new additions are the "Liv for Color" line of very basic dolls.  These come in much smaller plastic and cardboard boxes and don't have any accessories (they do have shoes):

Liv-Brites-Color-Review
Katie
Liv-Brites-Color-Review

Sophie

You can get all five girls in this line, each in a different color dress with a matching wig.  They look really nice as a full set...although Alexis and Katie are both pink.  Katie should be green!  Since when does Katie wear pink?

 

They remind me of Barbie Basics with their sheath dresses of differing styles and their unmovable arms. That's right.  You heard me--unmovable arms.  Wha--?  Why would Spin Master remove the articulation from the arms?  To make them more affordable, maybe?  This realization caused me to panic a bit and so I inspected the boxes a bit more carefully.  Uh, oh:


They removed the articulation from the knees.  Do you remember what I said was the very best thing about Liv dolls?  The articulation in the knees!  The knees!  Like this:


Even worse, when I went back to inspect the gorgeous "Brites" dolls I had eagerly grabbed off the shelves, I saw that they, too have no lower arm articulation and boring knee articulation.  And they certainly aren't less expensive!  Look:

Scrap the earrings and give me back the knees!!!!
I try to be fair in my evaluations.  I do have strong opinions, but I am not a ten-year-old girl, so I have to at least consider the possibility that there was something about the more articulated Liv dolls that the majority of the target audience didn't like.  I decided to keep an open mind, take a close look at the doll and see what she's really like.  So (deep breath) here we go.  I opened Katie.

The packaging is ok.  There's a lot of cardboard inside, but you have to rip the plastic window off the cardboard on the outer box so that you can recycle that: 


She's got that horrid plastic thing sewn into her hair, but I am getting better at removing those.  Hey--look!  She's standing all on her own:


This is what happens when she tries to kneel, though:

Thunk.
 This is great--under the pink wig, she has a pink pixie cut!  Love it.


She can wave, kinda, and the dress is really simple and fun and well-made.  It does have a crease from the plastic tie that held her in the box, but I think that will become less noticeable over time.


"Domo arigato, mister roboto!"

Predictably, she's also missing that cool waist joint (and the tastefully painted-on panties...although the texture of the panties is still there):


Here's what happens when she sits:


Thunk.    
Sigh.  She has a nice face, though, and I do like the colors, especially when you mix and match within this wave:



Remember, the other great thing about Liv dolls is that they are super-versatile and can change their looks really easily, so if you love this face:

Not sure how versatile that lip color is...
...and can't stand the new body, then you can take an older Katie (probably on clearance) and put her in a pink wig and get a similar (maybe better?) look!

That looks like Katie to me!
And this one can kneel (and wave)!  Hurrah! 


I also found a Spa Daniela on big clearance yesterday, and had to buy her because I was feeling depressed about the new girls.  To end the review, I'll take a look at that fascinating color change technology for you and we can reminisce about how great the old Liv bodies are.


The packaging is bad--almost all plastic, with an extra plastic flap that lifts up in the front.  I don't think that flap is necessary since in this case the doll is cuter than the photoshopped cover doll who has kinda creepy arms (are those real human arms?).


She comes with a robe, a brush and a little container for holding the cold water that will be needed to change her look.  Here's all of the information from the back of the box.  I have to admit, I was getting pretty excited to give this a try:



Except--whoa.  There's another strange-looking photoshopped doll...smiling.  

"Change my wig or I will haunt your nightmares!"
 Here she is with a lot of the plastic removed:


She has a wig that sheds a lot.  Those hairs were getting everywhere for the rest of the photo shoot.  


She has a pretty face with slightly wonky eyes:


Her dress is a bit more adult than a lot of the other Liv clothing, and I am not crazy about this trend, but it is a nice dress with some cute details:


I love the ruching and the little fake drawstrings in the skirt!


She has cute little skull earrings (she must be a Monster High fan!):


Her monogrammed robe looks ok, but there's something white stuck to one of the sleeves (glue?), so I left it alone for now.  It's going to need some clean-up work.


Here she is with all of her stuff, ready for a makeover.  Look how nicely she sits in the chair!


 Here's the little water applicator bottle up close:


The bottle is very cute, but I decided to go for a container that could hold some ice...just to make sure the water was really cold.  I also stuck a mug of water in the microwave to see what would happen with really hot water.


Here we go!  Cold water:


In between:


Hot water:

The nails really did change...I'm just not fast enough with the camera!
Here's what changes:  the pink parts of her hair, the blue around her eyes, her nails and her lips.  It changes back super-fast, especially with the hot water, so it was hard to get a good picture.  The hair held its darker pink pretty well and I didn't try to change that back with hot water.  It was cool, I have to say, but because the effects didn't last too long, I can't really imagine it being a regular part of playing with these dolls.

Daniela is a great doll, though, and her highly-articulated body makes her so fun to pose! She had a little pose-off with the new Katie:








Bottom line?  Even after playing with the new Katie for a while, I can't think of a single reason why Spin Master would change the brilliant and ground-breaking articulation of their dolls.  I love the old dolls, I find the new ones stiff and robotic and they feel like cheap imitations.  

The "Sleepover" line of dolls with closing eyes looked so bad in their boxes, I couldn't bring myself to spend money on one.  Maybe I was just unlucky with the selection?  They also have the newer bodies.  
I do love the color scheme in two of the new lines, though.  The "Brites" dolls, in particular, might be worth buying because their face paint is really nice and they have those long colorful wigs and great clothes (body swap!).  

Summary ("Liv for Color" Katie):

Age Level
5 and up
Value
Older Liv dolls on clearance are a better value.
Quality
Clothing is colorful and well-made, but quality of body has decreased.
Packaging
Good.  Lots of cardboard compared to some of the other lines.
Collectable?
No.
Versatility
Can change clothes and wigs on this doll for lots of different looks, but the limited articulation makes it less versatile than older Liv dolls.
Overall
Not recommended.*

* This isn't a summary for a "Brites" doll, but again, I do think that because the accessories on these dolls are a step above, and they have beautiful face paint, it might tip the balance to make them "recommended," despite the new body.

Liv-Brites-Color-Review

27 comments:

  1. I would recommend the Liv for Color dolls since they are really cheap at $11 each. That isn't a bad price for a new wig and outfit for one of the older dolls. The body however would likely end up heading straight to the thrift store.

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    1. Great blog, I ran into this on google. Trying to find out if the Live sleep over dolls have all the articulation, guess not.:/

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  2. It isn't a bad price for the wig and outfit--you're right.
    Aren't the wigs about $5 on their own? I just don't like the waste with that scenario. I'd be a lot happier to buy the cute dress, shoes and matching wig for $10 in a small package without an extra body. You still have a good point, though.

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    1. Emily you are soooo snobby who cares what you think of dolls cuz I don't. Ur just actin like a ten yr old

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    2. I'm definitely picky, that's for sure! But I don't expect (or even want) everyone to agree with me. These are just my opinions--take 'em or leave 'em. Just keep your comments civil, please.


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  3. That's why I suggested the thrift store. Some small kid that isn't as fussed about articulation would be able to appreciate her. They sell doll clothes at the dollar store and her head doesn't look too bad without the wig.

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  4. Thank you so much for the detailed review and photos, you're entertaining and educational. :) I'm not happy about the new body, I hope it isn't a permanent change to the Liv line. The new colorful wigs are great though!

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    1. Thank you, Kristi! Isn't it a shame about the bodies? The more I think about it, the more I don't like it. I bet they'll put articulation back, at least in some of the dolls (fingers crossed!). I totally agree about the wigs--that is definitely something new and fun and I have been enjoying my orange one!

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  5. I just found your blog, having only recently discovered the Liv doll world. Thanks for the great review. I was at Target tonight and saw the Liv for Color and Color Brites dolls, and I didn't even notice the lack of articulation which, as you mention, is a real loss. I have had such fun getting to pose the Liv gals and learn their abilities. I wonder what Toy Fair will bring....

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    1. Oh, Toy Fair!! How I wish I could go. That will give us some interesting new information, you're right! Glad you found the blog--welcome! :)

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  6. I, too, have just discovered your blog, and although I have not read your initial review of Liv dolls, I will now. I was particularly interested to read your opinion of the new Liv for Color line, as I have not seen a lot of positive comments about it. My second oldest daughter purchased Katie yesterday afternoon, so when she had gotten her out of the box, I took a closer look at the doll. Your review of Katie was spot on! I too am extremely disappointed with the move to less articulation. I have already written to Spin Master to let them know how concerned I am with that move, and I would suggest that the more of us they hear from, the better chance there will be that the original bodies will remain. They can be reached directly at customercare@spinmaster.com. By the way, we have discovered that cold air (like outdoors right now or air conditioned air or a refrigerator) will have the same effect on the Spa dolls as the cold water does. In fact my girls (all four) have just as much fun exposing the dolls to cold air as they do using cold water (and less mess for me). Thank you for the informative and entertaining review!

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    1. Thank you for the nice note! I think I might write to Spin Master, too. That's a good idea.

      I am wondering if the look of the spa dolls post-refrigerator is even better than with the cold water--more evenly colored, maybe? Longer lasting? Probably depends on how long you leave the doll in the deep freeze. ;) I need to try that now! I was a bit frustrated with how quickly the cold from the water wore off.

      Thanks again for the great tips and welcome to the blog! :)

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    2. I don't know about how long the effects from the fridge will last, mostly because the girls then like to put their warm hands/fingers/breath on the colour change parts so that they can do it again. I will have to experiment the next time I am at home (because, of course, I have my own set). By the way, I should mention that when my daughter got the Liv for Color! Katie, I broke down and got the Sleepover Party Alexis, mostly because she was the only one on the shelf, and at 40% off, I wasn't going to deny myself a new doll! I didn't notice the "feverish" look, so when you mentioned it, I thought I'd make the time to catalogue her and get her out of the package. Yes, she has a shiny face, but it's also PLASTIC (not vinyl) and not so shiny in the back, so my guess is that the sealant they used has added that "glow". You have to use her left arm to hold down the right throwing arm, because, even though you can (gently) push it down (it will click) it doesn't really stay down. Straightened out, her arm will not hang parallel to her body. AND her legs will not go back at the hips, only forward (and at that, only 90 degrees). That said, at least there is articulation at the elbows and the wrists. I don't miss the waist joint (yet), but I certainly wish she had the double knee and ankle joints. Sorry for rambling!

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    3. I love hearing your thoughts! It's so funny because I had Sleepover Alexis in my basket at Target today for a while (not 50% off...), but ended up putting her back. Now I'm glad I put her back because your description is excellent and I can picture how she moves.

      I think Alexis' shiny face looks better than Sophie's shiny face, for some reason, but I still don't love it. The plastic face explains why these dolls look different. Sophie's mouth, in particular, doesn't look like Sophie to me! Must be that the harder plastic takes the mold differently than the vinyl. Reminds me of those McDonald's Happy Meal heads (they were plastic). Did you see those? They were ok for a Happy Meal toy, but I wouldn't have wanted the whole doll in that material.

      It is also fascinating to read about the limbs. Why, oh why do they monkey with these strange "pillow fight" joints instead of just leaving the normal (lovely) joints as they are? Sigh.

      Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to describe Alexis. I find that incredibly helpful. If you feel cheated out of your new doll experience, remember that I am always trying to give away extra dolls here, so send me an email! I think I have a "It's My Nature" Alexis (she's absolutely lovely) and a "Moonlight Dance" Daniela. And then the "Making Waves" Hayden who is listed here on the blog.
      :)

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    4. I CONTACTED SPIN MASTER AND THEY ARE DISCOUNTING ALL LIV DOLLS!!! X(

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  7. Great review! I'm not a fan of liv dolls as I find their eyes to be a bit wide and staring and their heads seem kind of big for their bodies. However, I know a lot of people really like them so I was sad to hear that apparently they're being discontinued. That WOULD explain the newer, less-articulated bodies. Spin-Master is going to bring out a new fashion doll line, 'La Dee Da' dolls, this August. Would be interested to know your thoughts on them (if any) from the toy fair previews. It seems that their arms will also be stiff and robotic. Youtube url is: /watch?v=oaqEA-m2JHE if you want to take a look. See ya! :)

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    1. Hi Frankie! Dana (http://phillycollector.blogspot.com/) shared a great Flickr album of the La De Da dolls on her blog (here's the album link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulnomad/sets/72157629345644957/with/6887065975/) and I have to say that I am not crazy about what I see. A lot of my reaction could just be that I am still thinking of them as "the dolls that made Liv go away," so there's a certain amount of bitterness. Still, I will probably buy one when they come out (maybe the one with rainbow hair?) and try to give them an open-minded review. It is hard to see the amazing articulation of the Liv dolls disappear so soon. :( It's a good excuse to buy a few more, though. ;)

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  8. OH DEAR LORD, EVERYONE! I CONTACTED SPIN MASTER AND THEY SAID THEY ARE COMPLETELY DISCONTINUING THE LIV DOLLS!!!! X(

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    1. i for one think it is completely unfair to discontinue the liv dolls line. i am almost 13 and i am getting too old for them but i have like 7 or maybe 10 of them, i have all of the spa ones and i also the katie with the skate baord thing. as well as the nature hayden and jake. possibly some others. i havnt been playing with them in the past week where school started and im bussy with homework, therefore i havnt been to the mall or store or anything to see the new ones. i also am very disapointed of the non-movable arms and legs. i seen the comershal (spelling) of the la dee da dolls and they are kinda creepy, but not as much as my lil sisters la la loopsy which kinda sounds the same. i saw the movie coraline and had to stay away from that doll for a while... lol

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  9. Oh my God you are kidding!

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    1. No! So stock up and buy multiples! Ebay's are very expensive! I'm Libberdeez! Stock UP NOW! X(

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  10. Hello,I know I am very late on this blog itself,but your blog has helped me make the decision to buy the liv brites doll.I feel like reading your review helped me because its like see the same flaws in each doll as well,so this helped me,thank you.

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  11. That arms that don't bend look like the arms on the victorious dolls , those dI'll are Alsome made by spin master

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  12. I think it would be good to buy them in the box and keep them for a while to see if they go up in value. I often wish I had a time machine to do just that. I actually prefer less articulated fashion dolls. The arms and legs look nicer. Joints bother me, but that is because I grew up in the 70s. If I am only using the doll to wear outfits and take photos of that doll, I don't need the doll to be able to sit at all. They are not bad looking dolls over all. I wish the wig was more barbie sized, so I could use it on barbie sized dolls. I won't have any use for a wig for my scene sized dolls like this one. I just assume the wig is a my scene sized doll wig, but I don't really know that.

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  13. Spin Master's cheaping out on articulation, just like Mattel cheaped out on their incl. accessories for Barbie. A total bummer if you ask me; I'm so glad you popped up this review. LIV are getting scarce in my area and I was debating snagging one of the Brites if I could ever find one, but that lacking articulation defeats the purpose of a Liv, dangit! Thanks for the review info, you saved me $20 :)

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  14. Thanks for the review! Seeing as now Liv Dolls have been discontinued and I'm reduced to buying them from the internet, it's very helpful to which Liv Dolls have the great articulation and which to avoid. Sometimes it's very hard to see all the joints in those seller pics. What a shame Spin Master decided to take such a dip in quality.

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  15. I have the color Daniella, and her movement is horrible!!! The old Liv dolls are way better!

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I value and welcome all opinions, but comments with abusive or offensive language will be deleted.