Monday, May 21, 2012

Lalaloopsy Cloth Dolls and Lalaloopsy Littles

You might remember that when I reviewed the Lalaloopsy Marina Anchors doll, my biggest complaints about her were her price tag, her packaging and her unruly top-heavy body.  I was also conflicted about the notion of a plastic rag doll.  I appreciate the superior durability of a plastic doll, and I also admire how MGA gave the Lalaloopsy dolls floppy articulation to mimic a cloth doll, but it seems to me that a magical doll who, "comes to life when her last stitch is placed," should probably have some actual stitches in her.

In what seemed like an instantaneous response to my complaints (but could have been coincidence) cloth Lalaloopsy dolls showed up in Toys R Us right after I wrote that review.  These newer dolls are about 10" tall and made completely out of fabric.   They come in simple cardboard boxes, and they cost under $20.  I found mine at Target for  $14.99.  They are more expensive on Amazon.  I chose Mittens for my review because she has blue hair and black eyes, just like Marina:

Lalaloopsy-Cloth-Mittens
Lalaloopsy cloth Mittens Fluff 'N' Stuff

Mittens is made out of an old Eskimo's scarf, which gives her a warm and cuddly personality.  While I'm sure that the Inuit can cuddle with the best of them, this personality trait is a bit unoriginal for my taste.  Why can't she be imbued with some awesome skill like riding a polar bear or kayaking?


She comes with a, um...what is that?  Is it a polar bear?  I think it's a polar bear.  It's like a Weebles version of a polar bear.  

X_X
The Lalaloopsy pets don't seem to have names, but they should.  This polar bear looks like she was made out of a knitted scarf or hat or something, and is unraveling at the eye a bit, so I am going to call her Hattie Tatters.

The box has all of the colorful decorations that the regular Lalaloopsy boxes have, but it is 100% cardboard.  No plastic window or anything. 


Look how thin the box is!  


Mittens comes out of that box in thirty seconds or less.  I had to snip two twine strings to get the doll out and one thread to get Hattie Tatters out.  Best. Package. Ever.

All recycling.
Mittens' head is made out of a mid-grade canvas material.  This fabric reminds me of the Classic Terrible Nasty Scaries dog toys we have at my house.  If Mittens holds up as well as those toys, she's a pretty tough doll.  Mittens and Hattie's bodies are both made of a lighter weight material that feels like cotton or a cotton blend.  Most of the details on the doll are printed on the fabric:


Mittens' face is clearly recognizable as a Lalaloopsy face, but her head is rectangular and much more two dimensional than the plastic dolls' heads:

Lalaloopsy-Cloth-Mittens-Doll

She has stitched and printed details in her hair and her two bows are printed on the back, but are actual attached bows on the front.


Her cheeks are printed on her face, but there are pink stitches encircling them to give the appearance of a sewn on patch.  It is a good effect.  Her mouth is stitched, not printed.  Her eyes are plastic, but they're not real buttons:

I like the stitched details in her hair.
Here's a close-up of the eye:


She's wearing a simple outfit that consists of a filmy blue polka dot skirt and a fuzzy white vest.



The clothes are stitched onto the doll's body in a few locations, so I wasn't sure if they were meant to come off.  I imagine if you were giving this doll to a very small child, you might want to leave those stitches in place for a while.  I snipped them.


With the stitches removed, the vest hangs open, exposing the printed-on striped shirt underneath:


The design of the vest is very simple.  It is an oval piece of material with blue piping around the outer edge.  The arm holes are not hemmed or finished in any way and so some of the fur comes off every time you change her clothes.


The skirt was a bit hard to get off.  It is even harder to get back on.  The skirt has a white waist band (that I wish was elastic) and two cute white stitched buttons:


The tag inside the skirt is ridiculously big and has to be cut out:


This outfit has the same design as the outfit on the plastic version of Mittens, but the plastic Mittens' outfit has several more removable pieces of clothing.  With the plastic doll, the skirt has much brighter, textured polka dots.  The transparency of the skirt works a bit better on the plastic doll because she has cute, removable white bloomers on underneath.  The plastic doll also has a removable knitted pink shirt and matching leg warmers.  In contrast, the cloth doll has these outfit details printed on the fabric of her body:
Notice how lopsided her body silhouette is.
She's got the pink shirt, the leg warmers, the lace-up shoes and the bloomers, but they seem a little cramped on the small body--it's hard to distinguish one area from another.  The bloomers go all of the way up to her armpits, and they're striped, which makes them look less like bloomers and more like long underwear.
You could write your name in the heart on her back.
The shoe pattern is especially confusing to me, but I like that the shoes are labeled "L" and R"even though they don't come off.


If I was re-designing this doll, I'd give the bloomers a lower waistline (exposing more of the striped shirt) and make the shoes shorter, showing more of the striped stockings. 

The body is densely stuffed, but the stuffing is doesn't have much weight, so the doll is pretty light.  The stitching looks sturdy for the most part, although I worry about this area on the side of the body:


Mittens can't really be posed much at all.  Most of her weight is in her oversized head, and her body offers no support for this.  If her lower body had some heft to it, maybe with a bean bag torso or something, she'd be able to sit up.  I'd love to add some beads to her torso and to her hands and feet.  I think the extra weight and movement would be very appealing.

As it is, she needs to be propped up against a wall if she's going to sit or stand.

Lalaloopsy-Cloth-Mittens-Doll

She fits nicely into my hand and would be easy for a small child to carry around.  She's soft and would make a comfy bedtime friend.


So...is she an improvement on the plastic Lalaloopsy doll?  Well, in many ways, yes.  But I think some of the cuteness factor has been lost.  The difference in head shape really stands out to me as an important contributor to this.  Look at the two heads:


The plastic doll's round head is great.  The cloth doll's head looks like it has a dent on top.  I know that this is partly an effect of the two ponytails sticking up on either side of the head, but the baseline head shape looks rectangular, not spherical.

In the picture below, I used some cheesy editing to try and round out the head.  I think she looks better:


Anyway, let me break down the comparison for you:

Appearance:  Both dolls have the distinct Lalaloopsy look.  Overall, I think that the plastic Lalaloopsy dolls are more visually appealing.  The bright colors and nice proportions are pretty irresistible.  In comparison, the cloth doll is very two-dimensional and has a funny shaped head.  Also, the cloth body is covered with printed clothing items (which limits the doll's ability to wear different outfits) and is slightly lopsided.

Outfit: The outfits on the plastic Lalaloopsy dolls are more intricate.  The cloth doll's outfit is extremely simple and un-hemmed fabric edges could cause trouble over time.

Packaging: Cloth Lalaloopsy wins by a landslide.  Her simple and completely hassle-free box is a stark contrast to the huge plastic nightmare of the plastic Lalaloopsy box.

Manageability:  The cloth doll is much easier to hold and handle.  She's lightweight and small enough for young children's hands.

Cuddle factor: Cloth doll wins--the plastic dolls are not cuddly at all.

Durability: The plastic dolls are undoubtedly more durable.

Pet: I like Marina's whale more than Mittens' polar bear.  The polar bear is cute, but she's very simple and the "x" eyes make her look sick.

Posing:  Neither doll can pose, per se.  This is sad because with some strategically added beads, the cloth doll could probably sit really nicely.  What's strange is that the plastic doll actually "flops" more like a rag doll than the cloth doll, which doesn't move around much in your hands.

Price: Both dolls are overpriced.  Well, I should qualify that by saying that the Toys R Us price for the cloth doll is way too high ($16.99) but the Target price is closer to fair ($14.99).  For their size and quality, these should be about $10 dolls.

Overall: I'd rather buy the cloth doll, but it seems to have lost a little something in translation.  With some added weight to the body, a rounder head and body shape, and a fully removable outfit, I think the cloth doll would be my easy favorite.  As a parent, I'd certainly rather have a dozen of the cloth dolls lying around the house than a dozen of the large, heavy plastic dolls.

Lalaloopsy-Cloth-Comparison

I decided to take a quick look at a Lalaloopsy Littles doll, too, just to see what those tykes have to offer. I chose Matey Anchors because he is Marina's little brother...and he's too cute for words:


Like his sister, Matey is made out of an old sailor's uniform.  Which makes him "nautical."  Really?  An old sailor's uniform gives him a nautical personality?  What does that even mean?  I don't know anyone with a nautical personality.  Someone in Creative dropped the ball here.

I am the very model of a nautical young gentleman...
The box is essentially a mini version of the larger plastic doll's boxes.  That is to say it's colorful, fun to look at...and a huge plastic hassle to get into.  The hassle of the box seems to scale with size, though, so this box is slightly less irritating than Marina's box.


Matey is about 8 inches tall--quite a bit shorter than the regular Lalaloopsy dolls.  He comes with a cute little sailor's hat that you can perch on top of his head:

Lalaloopsy-Littles-Matey-Anchors
The little blue curl that comes down over his left eye is very sweet.  
Look at the slits up the backs of those shoes!
They go on and off really easily, though.
The little blips of hair at the top of Matey's head were tied into the box with one of many plastic bands.  Unfortunately, the plastic band stuck to the hair and took away some of the paint when I removed it. 
I am not sure why these dolls don't have the same colored plastic hair as the larger dolls.  Painted hair is much less durable. 

He's too young to be balding.
That defect is bad enough, but coupled with some scratches on the back of the doll's head (from just rubbing up against the back of the box?), there's some serious evidence against the long term durability of the paint on these dolls.  


Matey's pet is a winking orange crab.  I LOVE the little crab.  He totally needs a name!  

Winky Buttons?
Matey's outfit is great.  He has a one-piece romper that looks like a striped shirt with white nautical shorts.  He's also wearing a unraveling blue scarf around his neck which is pretty poorly done:


The shorts have gold fake buttons.  It's a nice detail, but they're glued on and pull off pretty easily.



He has bright blue sneakers with attached white ankle-high socks.  There are little hearts at the center of each bow:


I am not crazy about the poorly made scarf, but otherwise I think this outfit is super-cute:


Matey has 5 points of articulation, but his legs have a traditional attachment to the body, not the hinged dangling legs of the larger dolls.  The only element of his articulation that is reminiscent of a rag doll is his neck.  This joint has some wobble to it, so Matey's head lolls around when I pick him up.  



The sturdy legs allow Matey to sit really nicely:


 He has a molded diaper with a painted silver safety pin and the same kind of cute cross stitch belly button that Marina has.


He was born (in China) on July 1st:


With his sneakers on, Matey can stand on his own in several positions.  The curl over his eye makes him look a bit angry in this picture, but I can assure you that he's never angry:




Here he is with big sis, Marina.  He's trying to show her how to sit up straight:

Lalaloopsy-Littles-Matey-Anchors

Without a doubt, I prefer Matey to Marina.  Here's a breakdown of why:

Appearance:  Matey is absolutely adorable and totally steals the show.  His wide-eyed toddler innocence is hard to beat.  

Outfit: Both outfits have a great mix of bright colors and a fun sailor theme, but Matey's outfit looks and feels like cotton and makes Marina's shiny dress look cheap by comparison.  Matey's scarf is poorly made.

Packaging: These dolls have the same style of packaging in two different sizes.  Matey's packaging is better simply because there is less of it.

Manageability:  Because of his size and weight, Matey would be much easier for a small child to carry around and play with.  Marina is heavy and significantly top weighted, making her difficult to manage.

Durability: I would have thought that both dolls were quite durable, but Matey's missing hair paint makes me worry.  Marina's hair is blue plastic and so there is no concern about it losing its vibrant color over time.  

Pet: I prefer Matey's scamp of a crab.  He's got some serious personality.

Posing:  Matey out poses his sister.  He can sit and stand on his own if he is wearing shoes.  He can even hold a walking position without support.  In addition, he looks amazingly cute when he's standing.   His compact toddler body and short legs are so sweet.  Matey keeps a bit of the rag doll floppiness in his neck joint.  

Price: The Littles cost just over $16 at Target, and $19.99 at Toys R Us.  Compare this to a similarly sized and popular Snap Doll ($12.99) and it seems high.  Again, I think with simpler packaging, this could be a less expensive doll.  Still, the Littles are easier on the bank than the full-sized dolls, which are creeping towards $30.

Overall: Matey is a nice mix of the qualities that make Lalaloopsy dolls appealing.  He has all of the unique personality and cheery brightness of a regular Lalaloopsy doll, but he falls into the popular  under $20 price category.  I have concerns about how the hair paint will hold up over time, and the careless sewing in the scarf is an irritation.  He is missing most of the rag doll qualities in his articulation, but instead has a compact, posable and manageable body that is a nice size for small hands.  I can picture kids actually playing with this doll.  Besides, he's ridiculously cute.  Look at him:

Lalaloopsy-Littles-Matey-Anchors

So, of the three Lalaloopsy dolls I have reviewed here, I like Matey best, Mittens second best, and Marina last.  My only concerns about Matey and the other Littles are in the quality of the painted hair and in the quality of some of the sewn clothing.

Lalaloopsy-Littles-Matey-Anchors

My favorite Lalaloopsy dolls of all, though, are the minis.  I'll look at these over on facebook.  Here's a teaser:


9 comments:

  1. My favorites are also the little ones, I find the big ones too heavy, I've got two of the big ones, but I prefer the small ones - have four and still wish to have many more, they are easy to hide and they are perfect as little dolls for BJD's or Pullips.

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    1. Yes--I totally agree! My Liv girls like to hold them. I find the minis addictive. So many cute theme ideas, and they are small enough and inexpensive enough that you can have lots! :)

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  2. This is what the plush Lalaoopsy dolls should have looked like.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/71575905@N03/6947487150/

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    1. Oh--look at ALL of them!! Ghoulia is especially cool, I think.
      You're right, I definitely dropped the ball because these would have been the perfect comparison doll to the cloth Lalas! I already like the yarn hair on the MH dolls better. Maybe I will investigate further in another review..?
      Thanks for the picture :)

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  3. Hello from Spain: I prefer the plastic doll fabric. Although the two are very original ..In Spain is also fashionable and available at all toy stores. Keep in touch.

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  4. I love your blog!

    I, too, enjoy the mini ones for my BJDs. I have so many lying around the house and in their arms. :D

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  5. OMG, this material Lalaloopsy is amazing! :)

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  6. How big are Matey feets? Can you make a photo comparison with pullip or tangkou doll?

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  7. Oh! I can picture a little girl playing a game and it's someone's (a dolls) birthday! And a present is one of the mini's! I have no idea why I just said that! ;)

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