I have been especially interested in Angelic Dreamz lately because of a line of exclusive 16" resin ball-jointed fashion dolls that they have been designing and producing since 2009. These lovely dolls are called JAMIEshow dolls, named after the designer of the original collection. Since the debut "Blossom" collection in 2009, I have seen nothing but continual and noticeable improvement in these dolls. The latest collection, Winter 2012, is rich and dramatic and had me tripping over myself to pre-order "Grace," despite all of the fur she's wearing. The newer collections, each better than the last, also make me more interested in the older dolls. To me, these older dolls are snapshots in the fascinating history of a doll line on its way to greatness.
Before I get any further, let me show you one of the dolls from the older St. Tropez collection so you know what I'm talking about. This is "Sasha:"
Sasha's lips are too orange and she can strike poses in which that open mouth looks vacant, but overall, she is a wonderful doll. She out-poses the Sybarites without even trying. As resin dolls go, she's a steal at $295, especially given her tiny edition size of 100. I'll talk more about the female JAMIEshow dolls in a bit when Grace arrives, but for now, let me get back to my story. It's a long story, I know, but I want to share it with you in case you ever go to Canandaigua. Consider it part of my birthday indulgence.Fidget" by Joanne Callander was one of these surprise treasures. I was doubly excited to visit this particular doll store because they carry so many dolls. Angelic Dreamz is an Integrity dealer, a Madame Alexander dealer, a Tonner dealer, a Mattel dealer, and they also have dolls from Ashton Drake and Franklin Mint that I have never seen before. I was triply excited about this particular store because I wanted to hold and pose a new JAMIEshow doll and I wanted to meet George Gonzalez, the co-owner of Angelic Dreamz and the visionary for the JAMIEshow line. I was quadruply excited to visit this doll store because my sister and her family bought me a gift card. Wheee! I hope you can picture how much excitement was in the air. It was a lot. I think my excitement helped power our car for the last 60 miles.
We arrived in Canandaigua at around 11:00am and found the store very quickly. It is a beautiful shop located inside a renovated nineteenth century firehouse. I practically skipped inside, dragging my reluctant teenage sons and my ever-patient husband behind me. The store was filled with eye-catching trinkets and collectibles, all meticulously arranged...but there were no dolls. Ok, ok, I am being dramatic. There were a ton of Barbies and a dozen Monster High dolls and one JAMIEshow doll behind glass, but that was it. That was it! I felt flustered and confused and most of all horribly guilty for dragging my crew two hours out of the way to see Barbies. Where were the Tonner dolls? Where were the Fashion Royalty? Where was Jamie? Was this even the right place? We left in a muddle and drove away empty-handed. Crushing.
Safely back in our car, my brain started to work again. It must be the right store. Of course it is. They must have all of those dolls somewhere, or else how could they sell them online? When we got to my parents' house, I emailed to ask where I had gone wrong. George emailed back almost immediately and said that all of the dolls are, indeed, in the store, I just have to ask to see them. He said I should definitely come back and they will show me anything I want to see. Well. Can you imagine how much fun I had that night, sipping a glass of wine and putting together a list of all of the dolls I wanted to see? It was like being a kid again and making a list for Santa.
The second visit was everything I had hoped for and more. I got to see all of the JAMIEshow dolls I wanted (including a prototype of Grace, who is a-ma-zing), and I got a peek at Tonner's new Cami doll, "Just Right" (she has a lovely face, but I don't care for the brown velour outfit). I got to meet George and Tim and talk about dolls for two hours. In the end, it was the JAMIEshow dolls that captivated me. They are all much more beautiful in person than in their pictures, and they are quite beautiful in their pictures. The new "Sun" doll is stunning in her spectacular yellow silk dress and shoes. The "Studio J" Jamie dolls are lovely, one with a light pastel face-up similar to Sasha's, the other with a smoky eye and wine-colored lips. I was ready to walk out of there with the special edition Jamie when George started talking about ethnic dolls. This reminded me that I wanted to see Lena, and so he brought her out. She is incredible and unique. I was stuck in my tracks, unable to decide between her and Jamie. Then, George asked if I had seen "Lee," one of the male dolls. I said that I hadn't. I don't usually look at male dolls. I have no idea why, I guess I don't find their clothes and accessories that much fun. Anyway, George brought Lee out and it was love at first sight. No joke. I think it took me about thirty seconds from opening the box to the point where I was sure that this was the doll I wanted. You've been so patient with all of this talk and no pictures--now you can see what I mean:
He's beautiful. And handsome. His body is exquisitely sculpted (and anatomically correct) and he is heavy and substantial when you pick him up. His eyes are dreamy. The resin is a wonderful, realistic, almost translucent color. He is hand-painted.
I have so much to say about this doll, I won't waste a lot of time on the packaging. It is mostly cardboard, with a nicely cut foam insert that keeps the doll very well-protected. The packaging is appealing and minimal:
He has 17 points of articulation, but he can't strike as many poses as the female JAMIEshow dolls. It's not quite as much fun to pose him as it is to pose Sasha. He can, however, kneel on his own and his feet can be locked into a pointed position:
He has an awesome back:
The boots are amazing. They look like the real thing. They're made of leather and every last detail is perfect:
Look at how nicely the pants drape:
I think he looks better bald. Even with the wig, he gives other 17" guys a run for their money. Robert Tonner has the largest variety of male characters in this size...actually, Tonner makes the only other 17" male dolls I can think of right now. Tonner's leading man, Matt O'Neill, has a big-jawed, caricatured face that I am not crazy about:
One of the best looking male Tonner dolls that I've ever owned is Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries:
Damon has better hair, but Lee has a much more realistic face:
The face is still shiny, too, which is a kicker. Moving on, I decided to give Lee's wig a trim. This might seem like another colossally bad idea, but in the end, I didn't really care if I ruined the original wig because I really like Lee's bald look and I can always buy another wig. George mentioned that they are currently thinking about new ways to improve the hair on the boy dolls, so I am sure there will be a good solution in the future. The newest male doll, Cameron, has painted hair.
The arms come with a resin ball attached at the wrist like this:
I am not exactly sure why he comes like this. These "hands" make it much easier to dress the doll, and also allow the actual hands to be protected during shipping. As intimidating as it looks to have a doll with balls for hands, it is simple to take them off and put on the actual hands. You just have to pull the ball out until you see white elastic, hook the hand on the elastic and then unhook the ball. It might take a few tries, but it's not too bad and the resin and elastic are tough.
Lee is a basic doll and so he comes with a very simple outfit and no stand. His edition size is limited to 40 pieces. This is an extremely small edition size, especially for a basic doll. He has a black tank top and black briefs:
|Look at the sculpting in his arms!|
The black tank top sheds tiny black particles all over the place. Every time I put the tank on or take it off I have to Swiffer Lee's resin or it looks like he has stubble all over his body. That's a pain, but the tank looks very nice on him.
I love his face. His eyes are glossy and almost look like glass (I think they actually look better than glass eyes). The older Studio J Jamie doll I was looking at didn't have these glossy eyes, so it might be a newer feature. The eyes look very real. They are a light brown shade, but as with real eyes, it is difficult to put an exact color label on them. He has wonderful thick eyebrows and a subtle five o' clock shadow on his chin and upper lip.
|The back of his head is removable...to re-string him?|
|His thighs and calves are beautifully sculpted and very realistic.|
Lee is advertised as being able to stand on his own, and he does, but getting this doll to stand on his own was much more frustrating than posing the newer JAMIEshow dolls that I held at the store. Lee's knees buckle really easily, and so it takes many tries to get him to stand independently. When I do get him to stand, he'll often crumple if I try to change the position of his head or arms.
|Weak in the knees.|
His elbows have an extra joint so that he can touch his face:
The torso and waist joints don't do very much. I tried to bend them in many different ways, but they don't really hold any poses without looking dramatically unrealistic:
|That's about as far as the waist joint moves.|
He's just really nice to look at. It's distracting. I am trying to be honest and critical, but he's so freakin' attractive. Everything is sculpted perfectly. Look at the detail in his neck:
As nice as the body sculpting is, I did buy this man some clothes. The clothes seemed of very high quality and there were a ton of different styles to choose from. I settled on a fairly casual outfit of khaki pants, a white button-down shirt and some boots that remind me of LL Bean.
Everything looks and feels great out of the box. The materials are of excellent quality. The buttons on the shirt are too big to be exactly in scale, but they look fine.
The pants are a nice color and they feel like soft cotton. The material has a fine weave and so all of the creases look proportional.
The seams are all beautifully and accurately done.
The boots are amazing. They look like the real thing. They're made of leather and every last detail is perfect:
The clothes are not perfect when they're on the doll. Actually, the shirt is good and the boots are great, but the fit of the pants is a disappointment. The fly doesn't stay snapped shut. I can stretch the waist band and get the snap to close, but it just pops right back open. The waist band might relax a bit over time, but forget about ever sitting down in these pants. The fly has a real zipper closure, which is nice, but the zipper pull is big and can't be hidden. The belt looks great at first, but after only two or three times of carefully fastening and unfastening it, it looks ragged and is falling apart.
The thing is, with the nicely-sculpted body, a person's eye is not often drawn to the pants.
|I could easily glue that belt back together.|
Sitting is awkward. I promise I'm not trying for a "come hither" sexy shot. His fly just doesn't stay closed.
It's a shame to cover this guy's chest, but the shirt looks good, especially if it isn't buttoned up all of the way:
Look at the nice cuff of the shirt and the gorgeous sculpting with veined detail in his hand.
The shirt can't snap closed past the big belt. I'll have to try and tuck it in.
Gratuitous head shot:
For this picture, I got the shirt tucked in and the pants snapped closed! It didn't last, but I honestly assumed it wasn't possible. I was wrong:
Maybe you've noticed that Lee is bald in all of the pictures. He actually comes with a nice, soft brunette wig, but the cut is very thick and long and I think it detracts from his features:
|That's a lot of hair.|
|His upper lip looks shiny, doesn't it?|
|Matt as Billy Flynn from Chicago.|
|Dude, I am in a tuxedo and you still look better than me. That's not fair!|
|He is handsome, but has that huge jaw.|
|Next to Lee without hair...|
|...and with hair.|
|Look at the warm, realistic tone of Lee's resin.|
Part of Damon's appeal is his black leather jacket. I decided to test whether Lee can share clothes with the Tonner men. He can! This expands his wardrobe considerably.
|Rocking Damon's jacket.|
I compared the khaki pants to a pair of Tonner khakis I own:
|Tonner pants on the right.|
The fabric quality and color are much better on the JAMIEshow pants, but the Tonner pants have a nice small zipper pull. Neither stays fastened for very long, although I had slightly better luck getting the Tonner pants to close.
|Everything about the JAMIEshow pants is better except the fly.|
|Lee modeling the Toner pants. They don't drape as well.|
|But they close.|
Here's a comparison of the JAMIEshow boots and some Tonner shoes from a long time ago. Both are great shoes, but the JAMIEshow boots do everything just a little bit better:
I think Tonner shoes have taken a hit in quality over the last few years. There's no contest between the quality of Damon's boots and the JAMIEshow boots. JAMIEshow wins hands down:
|Toy boot vs. real boot that was magically shrunken.|
In Matt O'Neill's pajama pants:
The pajama pants are loose enough to let Lee show off a few more poses.
|Morning karate practice?|
|Not sure what this pose is. Fighting off some crows? |
Cowering beneath the wrath of a Sybarite? Hmm.
The shiny lips were starting to bother me at this point. George was telling me about how you can just wash these dolls to get rid of the shiny oil residue that builds up as you handle them. I decided to give it a try, and I used Dawn dish soap, because I was thinking that Dawn cuts grease. There's a commercial about it. This was an incredibly stupid idea. The dish soap washed away a part of Lee's lip paint. Not good. I can at least pass along some advice: if you want to wash the oil off these dolls, don't use a high-powered dish soap. I should have thought that one through a bit more carefully. Here's poor Lee with his rubbed-off lip paint. It's not too bad...
|Do you see the missing paint there on the bottom lip?|
The haircut turned out ok, considering my complete lack of skill in this department:
At least you can get a sense for what he'd look like with a shorter wig.
Now, Lee is ready to meet some ladies. Tonner's "Far East Stella" looks a bit cartoonish next to him, but she seems to like him a lot:
|Stella is wearing a dress by the late great Joe Tai.|
|Bald works for her, too.|
Here's Lee with Raja, a Sybarite. Her skin tone looks especially orange next to his lovely shade:
After playing with Lee for quite a while, I have three complaints about his articulation. First, as I already mentioned, his knees buckle easily and this makes it difficult for him to stand alone. Perhaps this is just a stringing issue with my doll because the new Cameron doll that George had out at the store stood like a champ. He stood on the counter in several different poses the whole time I was there. He even supported Grace. It was pretty amazing.
My second and third complaints are about the positions that Lee's body gravitates toward naturally. Specifically, he sits with his knees very close together and his head always points down:
|Chin up, Charlie!|
It's definitely possible to make his body look relaxed into a more natural sitting position, but I feel like I am fighting the doll when I try this:
|He can't quite cross his legs like the JAMIEshow ladies can.|
|Ah. Relaxed and looking good.|
To get him to look straight at the camera like this took several attempts. His head snaps back down unless the position is just right.
|Egads, look at his abs, though.|
Bottom line? Lee's articulation isn't perfect. I wish he could strike more poses. Better yet, I wish he could hold those poses on his own like the newest JAMIEshow dolls. I wish his pants fit better. I wish his wig had a more masculine cut. I wish I hadn't washed his face with dish soap! Duh.
Despite these flaws, this is a beautifully sculpted and gorgeously hand-painted doll made out of very high quality, luminescent resin. He simply glows with warmth and realism. A male fashion doll with the right balance of handsome and beautiful is extremely rare. I am not sure there has been a 17" doll that hits this balance as gracefully as Lee. I am guessing that a lot of thought went into his features. The emphasis on quality and the constant effort towards improvement in the JAMIEshow line make me feel confident about the continued rise in success of these dolls. Although there are imperfections in the dolls, I know that George and the design team are well aware of these flaws and, even as I type, probably thinking about ways to fix them. I have become a big fan of JAMIEshow. I'd love to go back to the store and buy Lena and Jamie. I can't wait for Grace to arrive. I am excited that, out of the blue, because of a special birthday trip, I have a male doll in my collection who I feel is just as special and beautiful as so many of my favorite female dolls. Those ladies have finally met their match.
15 and up
Extremely high quality materials. Smooth, substantial resin and hand-painted details in the dolls. Beautiful fabrics and sewn accents in the clothing. Some small design flaws in the fit of the clothing.
Excellent. Elegant cardboard box with custom-cut foam protection.
Yes. Highly collectible because of the quality and small edition sizes.
Highly versatile. The doll has a pleasant, neutral face. The line includes a variety of wigs and clothes and he can also share outfits with all Tonner Matt O’Neill bodied dolls.
With hair or without? Let me know what you think in the poll at the top of the page...
Update: the majority (62%) voted that Lee looks best without hair!