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:
|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:
Sophie's pink and yellow combo with her bright blue eyes also works well:
The face paint is beautiful:
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):
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:
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:
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!"|
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:
|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):
5 and up
Older Liv dolls on clearance are a better value.
Clothing is colorful and well-made, but quality of body has decreased.
Good. Lots of cardboard compared to some of the other lines.
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.