Stardoll is a Swedish-based company with a virtual paper doll website. The company was started in 2004 and has since rocketed to significant popularity. Stardoll boasts over 100 million unique users on their site to date. Back in 2004, Stardoll was called Paperdoll Heaven. PaperdollHeaven.com is still a functioning website that is separate from the main Stardoll site. It is pretty fun, although I can't personally say how it compares to the original 2004 site. On this website, you can dress a huge number of dolls (including celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Justin Bieber and Milla Jovovich) or even brush and dress an animated virtual horse (my personal favorite). There's a page where you can design your own birthday cake...and this is awesome, too, but it makes me hungry.
The Stardoll website has some of the same dressing games as Paperdoll Heaven, but also has many additional features, including social clubs, shops and games that allow you to design your own clothing for the virtual dolls. I'll talk a little more about the Stardoll site in a bit.
Late last year, Mattel and Stardoll joined forces and Mattel released a line of Barbie-sized dolls modeled after the Stardoll concept. These dolls come with virtual money that can be spent on the Stardoll website. Here's the "Fallen Angel" Mattel doll:
On the back of the box, you can see the virtual versions of the other available dolls:
The dolls come with a gold card that has a code redeemable for 50 Stardoll dollars, exclusive online content, and a one-week Superstar Stardoll membership. Of course I had no idea what these things meant when I plunked down the $21 necessary to purchase one of the dolls.
I'll show you the doll first, and then tell you a bit about my online experience at Stardoll.com. The packaging is about half plastic on the outside with a cardboard insert on the inside:
|It's very shiny and hard to photograph.|
So, wait, I need to explain why I have this doll and not the Bonjour Bizou doll that first grabbed my attention. Bizou was my clear favorite after looking at promotional pictures, but I found the doll somewhat off-putting in real life. There were some issues with bad face paint and smudges on many of the dolls, so this certainly played a role in my choice, but it was also simply that I didn't care for Bizou's face. I think it looks quite different from the promos. In contrast, I didn't look twice at the Fallen Angel doll's promo pictures, but was very impressed by her in real life. By the way, the names of the different dolls are from the names of the fashion collection they are wearing.
I found my doll at Target. She comes with a clear stand and a small heart-shaped plastic black purse.
She's held onto the cardboard with just a few of those clear rubber bands. It's very easy to stretch and snip those. She has the inevitable plastic ties in her head. Grr. There a small plastic shell attached to the cardboard that helps keep her posed in the box. Here's the cardboard with the doll removed so you can see the design better:
|I like the Stardoll graphics.|
I was drawn to this particular doll because I have always enjoyed the contrast between black and red or black and burgundy-type colors. I think it looks fantastic. The fact that the color of her dress is mirrored in her lipstick and her hair highlights makes it even better.
It gets a little too repetitive with the black belt, black gloves and black purse, but I do like the shoes and I love the slightly opaque leopard pattern of the tights...except that the seam in the back is gigantic:
|Is that a style statement?|
The doll does not stand on her own very easily, but she can balance for a few seconds with a little persistence:
Her hair is rooted and is very soft and manageable. She has gorgeous grey-ish eyes and a subtle smile. She has eyelashes!
This particular doll has perfect face paint:
|That black speck in her eye is just dust or something.|
It looks like it should open, but that's only because it is coming apart at the middle seam. Furthermore, there's some funny whitish gunge on the back side:
|Purse? Meet garbage can.|
The white looks out of place and the lace is way too big for the doll and the glove. Maybe the gloves without the lace trim would have been ok? I could just clip off the lace, I guess, but they're not that well made and so it doesn't seem worth it.
There's just a little cut in the fabric to accommodate her thumb:
One of the reasons the doll doesn't stand very well on her own is that one of the feet seems to be in an odd position:
Look at the foot on the left hand side of the picture above--doesn't it look like it is bent out incorrectly? I mean, if she were just pointing her toe out as part of her pose, the sole of her shoe would still be on the ground, right?
I don't know. Maybe it was meant to be like that. Maybe my particular doll's ankle is just bent slightly too far out? It doesn't actually look that bad, it's only that I wish she could stand on her own better.
The little black boots are nothing particularly special, but they go on and off easily and fit nicely with the style of the outfit.
One of the reasons I really wish the doll could stand on her own is that she can't do much else. She has practically no articulation. She has less articulation than a Barbie Basic doll. She can bend at the neck and at the shoulders. Three points of articulation. Three.
Posing options are extremely limited. Very few arm positions look natural:
But, as critical as this sounds, I do understand that the dolls are meant to be three dimensional paper dolls. This is the whole concept behind Stardoll. A paper doll is not articulated in any way. From this perspective, the three points of articulation are three more points of articulation than we should expect.
The other thing that is essential for a paper doll is that she should have gobs and gobs of awesome outfits that can be easily tried on and taken off. So, let's look at the clothing. This doll comes with a very nice-looking wine colored dress with an interesting design. Here is the dress with the black plastic belt removed so you can see the construction:
|It's stiff and crispy, but looks great and is well-made.|
It is made out of a burgundy satin material. The bubble skirt has a tulle overlay that drapes up and over one shoulder.
It opens down the back with black velcro:
Underneath the dress, the doll has very nicely painted pink underwear:
The out-turned foot looks fine without the shoes. The toes are definitely still touching the ground. I guess the shoe just makes that foot look a bit odd.
So, the dress is nice, but of course the first thing I want to know is if this doll can share clothes with Barbie. That would open up a very exciting and extensive wardrobe. Here she is modeling a few of the Barbie dresses I own:
|Loose in the bodice--her bra is showing.|
|Nice fit--flower ornament and ribbon halter are a bit big for her fine features.|
|Again--this one doesn't quite work along the neckline.|
The dresses I have that are made of stretch knit fabrics fit pretty well. The more tailored dresses are too loose in the chest. It's frustrating that she can't reliably share clothes with Barbie. I mean, it says "Barbie" on this doll's box for goodness sake.
Barbie shoes don't fit at all. They're much too small:
Here's a foot comparison so that you can see how much smaller Barbie's feet are:
Stardoll clothes don't quite fit Barbie. Barbie is wider across the chest and so at least with this dress, it is impossible to get it fully closed in back:
|Looks great from the front!|
The fit might be slightly better with the Barbie Basic dolls...or maybe I was just more determined to get the back closed:
Here are the bodies side-by-side:
|The Stardoll body is really nicely sculpted, I think.|
It almost fits her perfectly:
But a Liv outfit on the Stardoll doesn't work as well. With this dress, the bodice hangs open a bit and the patterned trim is out of scale:
I also tried the Stardoll dress on my Pullip Eternia:
It's a little bit too big for her, but close enough that I'd display her in it.
The Stardoll definitely wears it best:
Bottom line? This is a very nice-looking doll. Her overall appearance is wonderful, from her flirty burgundy bubble dress to the subtle matching highlights in her hair. Her face is beautiful. However, this doll has virtually no poseability. It would be very difficult to play with her in a conventional way--she won't fit in Ken's car, she can't ride a horse, she can't sit down to dinner, she can't put her arms around someone...she can only strike about two unique poses.
Presumably, the doll was designed to resemble a paper doll, and in this case it isn't necessary for her to be super-poseable. We
have had the Liv dolls for that. What she should be is an easy-to-dress doll with an expansive wardrobe. She is not. She's pretty easy to dress--her stiff limbs make putting on pants and skirts a breeze, but putting her rigid arms through long sleeves is harder. She can share clothes with Barbie to some extent, but it isn't reliable. The doll itself only comes with one outfit. There are Stardoll outfit packs on Amazon for $15, but I see a lot of accessories in these packs and only one new piece of clothing. I'm not likely to spend $15 for one new dress and a few bags. Some quick math tells me that a wardrobe containing a different outfit for each day of the week would cost a hundred bucks. Gulp.
While I find this particular doll very nice to look at and photograph, she's not a collector quality doll and so it isn't enough to just look at her. I expect her to have some value as a play doll. She is basically an expensive mannequin...but, I have to say, it's hard to diss that pretty face:
I may not buy any more Stardoll dolls, but I am nowhere near ready to quit my Stardoll online membership. The website is a total blast.
You can create a free account even if you don't have a doll. The first thing you get to do is customize the look of your character--your personal "paper" doll. This is so much fun! It reminds me of the customization in the newer Sims games. Here's my character:
|She looks absolutely nothing like me.|
I love that there are also some goofy choices that can be made with the doll's features, not just the classic looks. Here's what my character could have looked like:
So, you have a character and some basic clothes to start with:
The character comes in a two-room apartment that you can also change to suit your taste. The apartment has unlimited storage space for all of the things that you buy for your doll. To purchase things for your doll like new clothes, furniture, makeup and other accessories, you can visit the Stardoll shops. Some of the items in the shops cost Stardoll dollars. I got 50 of these when I purchased my doll. You can also buy Stardoll dollars directly from the website (for real dollars--at an exchange rate of 1200/$5.95). Some items can be purchased with Stardoll coins. These can be earned by visiting the site and they can also be changed into Stardoll dollars. It's all a bit confusing, but for me there was plenty of currency to do what I wanted.
Although it is certainly tempting to pour some cash into the site so that you can go on shopping sprees, it is nice that there's quite a bit of fun to be had for free.
Here's what one of the clothing shops looks like:
|You can pull things off the mannequins to try on your character.|
At this particular store, you can buy fantasy outfits. You can see the prices in the upper right hand corner. Pieces can be purchased separately for unbounded mixing and matching.
Here are some items form another shop with a very different design theme. Prices in purple are Stardoll coins, the yellow things are Stardoll dollars.
|Mrs. Claus goes to the Big Apple.|
So, I took my character shopping...
|Princess Leia meets Lady Gaga.|
|Hot air balloon ride, anyone?|
I tried my hand at designing an outfit...with truly hideous results:
|The shoes! The shoes! I am blinded by the shoes!|
And I made a huge mess in the apartment until I figured out how to open the closet and hang things up:
After a few days, I got my act together and my character now has some cute outfits and a newly-painted apartment.
|And see? Now she's smiling.|
Best of all, I discovered the pet shop, and filled my apartment with adorable pets.
|I got a pony!|
The pets come in these amazing big boxes. It's like a birthday party!
|Look at the laughing kitten--he cracks me up.|
And because a lot is never enough, my apartment is now overrun. Much like my house in real life.
|And you know I got that white poodle, too, he's just in the other room.|
I might do a body swap to try and salvage the head on this doll, but I am not sure what else I'll do with her. Perhaps if I was a seamstress, this doll would be a perfect mannequin to display my work. I can see her being a wonderful muse for a creative young clothing designer.
If the dolls had more in common with the fun elements of the website, they could be a big hit. To me, the best part of the website (aside from the pets) is the huge variety of fashion, the freedom to create unique looks by mixing separates, and the fashion designing software. So, maybe if the dolls were very basic and cost less and then there was a huge variety of mix and match fashion for sale (with the pieces sold individually or in very small, inexpensive sets), that would be tempting. Or, Mattel could have gone a more Harumika route and developed a doll that served as a mannequin for fashion design play. I don't know. There's a lot of potential here, but to me the doll falls short of being anything particularly special or unique. I have to say it--she's just another pretty face.
6 and up
Overpriced at $21
There were some issues with face paint smudging and ill-set eyes in the dolls at the store, but the doll I bought has nice face paint, soft hair and a well-constructed outfit. Purse is a throw away.
Visually pleasing and fairly compact, with graphics from the Stardoll website, but mostly plastic with a lot of garbage.
No. This is a play doll.
Her lack of articulation dramatically limits her uses. She makes a beautiful mannequin for displaying outfits, and can share some clothes with Barbie, but the Stardoll wardrobe is limited at this point.
Not recommended...unless you're looking for a beautiful mannequin.
For the Comments discussion: here are some shoe observations. Thanks to all of the suggestions about what might fit whom!
|Stardoll shoes on MH feet...look fine from the side if a bit loose.|
|Heels sticking out the back a teeny bit.|
|Stardoll trying to wear Ghoulia's shoe. Fail.|
|Stardoll wearing MH boot. It's just a bit open in the back, but otherwise good.|
|Looks great from the front.|
Now you can guess who I am reviewing next, I bet. ;)