I had a few much-appreciated tips about a new doll line that has hit the shelves at some of the big chain stores. The dolls are called "Cutie Pops" and they are made by a toy company called Jada that I had honestly never heard of before. It's nice to see another competitor enter the ring with MGA Entertainment, Mattel and Spin Master. Jada Toys, Inc. is a California-based company that, since their establishment in 1999, has produced mostly die-cast cars, radio control toys and model kits. While Jada has a line of Hello Kitty toys, Cutie Pops seem to be their first foray into the doll world.
At first glance, the Cutie Pops look a lot like La Dee Da dolls. They have tiny bodies and huge heads with wide, elaborate eyes. Their outfits are bursting with colors and glitter and decoration. In person, these dolls have the proportions of a Pullip doll with some traits that remind me of the Lalaloopsy line. I might have ignored them completely if it weren't for Jessica telling me that they have interchangeable eyes and hair. This was more than enough to get my attention. I have long thought that it would be wonderful to bring the customizing potential of Pullips and Blythes to young children. Everyone likes to be able to change a doll to suit their own personality.
At the moment, there are three different Cutie Pops dolls to choose from (Cookie, Chiffon and Candi). My Target had Cookie and Chiffon for $19.99 each when I went last week. Don't pay the crazy online prices. There's also a fourth doll named Carmel who isn't in stores yet, and an exclusive doll named Starr who has made some appearances on eBay. My choice was mercifully easy because the Chiffon at my Target had a lip paint defect...so I got Cookie:
|Cutie Pops "Cookie" doll.|
|Dark cookies would have looked a bit better.|
On the back of the box, there are some pictures that give you a sense for how the customization feature will work. The doll has lots of cookie-shaped buttons that can be snapped ("popped") into different places on her outfit, and she has eyes and hair that pop on and off.
|That a lot of popping.|
My Target has all of the dolls in stock this week, so I've seen Chiffon, Cookie and Candi in person. I think Candi is by far the best doll. I love her bright rainbow theme. My husband bought her for me last night...with a few other goodies that you might see soon:
|He's a keeper, that man.|
All of the girls have pet dogs that can be purchased separately for $9.99. Cookie's dog S'mores is my favorite, but I wasn't quite ready to spend $10 to bring her home:
|What is this breed? A pit bull with long ears? A basset hound?|
The dogs have interchangeable ears and tails, along with tons of frilly clothing that can be decorated. I am not a huge fan of all of the clothing on the dogs, but I think the dogs themselves are adorable. They're pretty big--you can see a picture of a dog next to Chiffon here.
The packaging on these dolls is awful. A review gets off to a bad start when I have to spend fifteen minutes digging my way into a huge plastic box. This box broke my trusty pair of Fiskars, too. Humph. The whole box is a strange asymmetrical heart shape. It has a cardboard back with a plastic bubble in front. I had to cut the plastic part all of the way around to get it off. This was a pain:
The cardboard is covered with smaller plastic supports and attachments to a degree that makes me wonder why they bothered having any cardboard on this box whatsoever.
The doll comes with an extra pair of (closed) eyes, extra hair, four extra cookie decorations (called "pops") and a brush:
Actually, the doll extraction started pretty easily because, true to their name, the little cookie ornaments pop right out of their plastic holder. The extra hair pieces are tied down with twine that's easy to snip (even with broken scissors).
The doll herself is much harder to get out because she has these plastic handcuffs that hold her arms in place and little bits of twine everywhere.
The hat attachment is fascinating--the hat isn't on her head, but rather folded in half and attached by tiny plastic ties to a cardboard strip that wraps across her head to make it look like she's wearing the hat. Strange.
Here's the wreckage:
The doll comes with a lot of goodies!
All of the Cutie Pop dolls come wearing regular hair ponytails and have an extra pair of ponytails made out of yarn. Cookie's bright yarn ponytails are what caught my attention first:
These are so fun and remind me of the Pullip doll Amarri with her yarn hair. There's a great mix of colors and textures, including thick purple yarn, lilac chenille strands, tiny pink ric-rac and violet ribbons. They're very soft to the touch.
Each ponytail has a pink plastic cap on the end with a heart shaped hole on one side and a heart-shaped peg on the tip. The hair bows have a smaller heart shape that fits inside of the heart on the side of the ponytail cap:
The bow attaches easily to the ponytail, and then it has a small circular hole that can accomodate the cookie decorations:
So, the ponytails alone have several different variations--they can be undecorated, have just the pink and white striped bow, or have the bow adorned with the cookie pop of your choice:
There are only two different cookie pops included in this set--the pink frosted glittery ones and the purple striped ones. I don't think the purple donut cookies are anywhere near as interesting or pretty as the hearts.
|Are little kids going to be eating these, though? Hope not.|
Cookie also has some pink and white striped sleeping eyes with glittery heart-shaped lashes (I'll show you how those work in a bit...):
She has a purple brush with really short bristles:
|It has that same trademark asymmetrical heart shape.|
And she has the hat. The hat has a small decoration on the rim that can accomodate one of the cookie pops:
Here's Cookie right out of the box:
She has a cute purple dress, lace tights and plastic shoes. Her hair is molded, painted plastic except for the detachable ponytails.
The ponytails are a wonderfully soft and manageable fiber. I don't know what it is, but it feels really nice--silky and smooth. Considering the amount of hair this doll has, and the fact that she costs the same as a Bratzillaz doll, I think MGA should be ashamed.
The ponytails pull out of the head, revealing a heart shaped hole that matches the peg on the pink ponytail holders. It's actually a two-part peg, as you can see, with a larger heart-shaped portion, and then a smaller peg in the middle. This construction seems pretty brilliant to me because while the ponytails are really easy to pull out (and I mean really easy--almost too easy), they don't seem to fall out. I've turned the doll upside-down and shaken her and re-dressed her and everything, and the hair stays put. It's almost too good to be true. I hope the connection doesn't loosen over time.
You can see she has a small area of rubbed off paint on her bangs. If you select one of these dolls in a store, watch for face and hair paint flaws.
The area where the hair fiber meets the pink plastic is a bit sloppy. You can see the clear rubber band that they used to secure the hair:
The pink striped bows work with these ponytails, too:
This doll has crazy eyes. They have glittery heart-shaped eyelashes, huge black pupils, tiny blue iris rings and then purple heart and cookie-shaped reflection decorations. Whew. That's a lot going on in one eye.
|I guess a cookie in the eye is better than a stick in the eye....|
It's actually too much going on in one eye for my taste. I have visions of painting over the eyes, or maybe cutting out some white sticker paper and covering over these eye with a different, simpler design.
The eyes pull out, leaving behind nice, simply-painted eyes with heart-shaped holes in the middle:
|The eyes are the windows...to the inside of the head.|
The doll looks a little bit creepy like this, but not as bad as I had imagined. It's important that they took the time to paint the eyes and make them look decent, because if the eye attachments go missing someday, this is the doll you're left with:
|You could plug that hole with something if you had to.|
She has a cute spray of freckles on her face and faint heart-shaped rosy cheeks.
Here is the extra pair of sleeping eyes, and you can see heart-shaped peg that inserts into the doll's head:
The enclosed directions are a bit simple: "press eye pops into heart shaped eye holes to create new and different looks!"
|Or, "you can poke your doll in the eye like this!"|
I really like the candy-striped closed eyes. They're super cute. It's fun to make her wink:
I think the winking face would look more convincing if her open eye was just slightly more realistic. She looks adorable with both sleeping eyes:
Here she is with the yarn hair:
|Channeling a Cabbage Patch Kid.|
I thought it might bother me that the brown painted hair on the top of her head doesn't match this purple yarn hair, but I actually don't notice it too much. I think she looks really sweet and the hair goes perfectly with her outfit:
I thought I discovered why they went to such elaborate lengths with the hat packaging--it looked like Cookie couldn't actually wear the hat with her ponytails in place:
I thought maybe the hat was just something to cover her head when she didn't feel like wearing her hair.
After I played with Cookie for a while, though, I figured out that you can, in fact, get the hat over those ponytail holders. It makes the yarn hair look funny for some reason, though:
Cookie is wearing a purple dress made out of a stiff fabric that can support the weight of her decorative cookies. The shape of the skirt holds up very well to these heavy ornaments.
It turns out that part of the reason the skirt holds up so well is this cardboard petticoat that secured with plastic ties to the inside of her skirt:
The plastic ties left a few holes in her dress, which is irritating. Another thing I noticed as I was removing the cardboard under her skirt is that her legs seem a bit warped. Her toes turn in quite a lot:
This might actually be on purpose. I have noticed from looking at pictures online that many of these dolls have their toes turned in. It's kind of endearing, I guess, and it allows her to cross her legs in a cute way:
The sleeveless purple polka dot dress seems nicely made and has a fancy ruffled hem. It also has a pink striped collar with a heart button (this button doesn't come off) and a black and white tiger print ribbon sash. It can hold six of the little cookie decorations:
The decorations attach to little pink plastic hearts with holes in the middle:
If you remove all of the cookies, the dress still looks cute.
The dress closes in back with a long velcro strip.
The tights are pretty and are easy to get on and off.
The purple shoes have painted pink bows with what might be a chocolate cookie in the middle. They're nothing special, but they slide on easily and stay on, unlike the La Dee Da shoes.
Cookie's body has 7 points of articulation, very similar to the La Dee Da dolls:
She has some detail sculpted into her body, including a pair of molded (unpainted) underpants, a prominent collar bone and a visible edge to her rib cage:
She has an athletic frame with broad shoulders and narrow hips:
|She looks trim and muscular.|
She has simple hinged knees and no ankle articulation. You can see how pigeon toed she is:
Her arms are only articulated at the shoulder, but they can swing back and forth and also hinge out to the sides:
Her hips joints do not have much side-to-side movement, but she can do a front-back split:
She can also do this, for whatever that's worth:
|Y.M.C.A. gone horribly wrong...|
And this, although I'd rather she didn't:
|Hokey Pokey accident.|
Her neck joint has a ball on the end that allows her to move her head in all directions. She can look up and down in addition to looking from side to side. I love this kind of neck articulation. The ball pops out of the neck hole a bit too easily, but there's something else in there that keeps the head from coming all of the way off. Thank goodness.
|That circular seam along the bottom of the head is distracting.|
In this lineup, you can see that she doesn't really look too much like any of the other play dolls that I have. Also, if you thought that Liv and Bratz have big heads...think again:
|Winx Club, Bratzillaz, Monster High, Planet Head, Liv, Disney, Barbie.|
...it doesn't close completely in back and it's a bit too short.
The closest fit was on Clawdeen, but the dress is too loose and, uh, not exactly Clawdeen's style.
|Do NOT photograph me in this!!|
|Pullip (Shinku Rozen Maiden), La Dee Da (Dee), Cutie Pop (Cookie), Blythe (Phoebe Maybe).|
|That's right. Quite a bit bigger. And don't forget it, copy cat.|
Cookie's head is most proportionally similar to Pullip, but Pullip is taller and way more articulated.
|Maybe we can be friends?|
Here are the three dolls naked. They have very different body styles and clothes sharing doesn't look likely. Pullip and Cookie look like they might be making friends, but Blythe is not amused:
|Go ahead. Make friends. I'll deal with you later.|
Despite the physical similarities, Cutie Pops are not in the same market as Pullip and Blythe and so making comparisons between the two isn't really fair. Pullip and Blythe are collector dolls and cost at least five times as much as a Cuite Pop. Cutie Pops are a neat play version of these more expensive dolls, though, with some child-friendly interpretations of the customization fun that Pullip and Blythe collectors enjoy.
I would say that the Cutie Pops' main competitor is the La Dee Da line. To me, the La Dee Da dolls look better overall, but I still wonder what you can do with a La Dee Da doll. They have limited posing potential and aren't very versatile. Cutie Pops, on the other hand, are pretty entertaining. Given enough pieces, I can see kids playing with these dolls all day, trying out different combinations of hair, eyes and clothes.
|Dee wins the beauty contest, Cookie is more fun.|
I only bought a doll, but there are several hair and eye packs that you can buy for $7.99, some "Pop Packs" with extra decorations, and also some very cute-looking outfit sets. Add in the dogs with all of their decorations and you'd have a really fun mix of toys.
Here's Cookie showing off some of her variations:
Cookie seems to enjoy these little cat naps quite a lot. I think she's showing off the better of her two eye sets. She should be careful, though...
|Still pretty cute.|
Back to how she came in the box:
Bottom line? The appearance of this doll did not impress me at first. When I found her at the store, I groaned at all of the glitter and frills and the crazy, overdone design of her eyes. All I could see was yet another big-headed doll in a busy box. As I was opening the box, I felt pretty sure that I was going to write a negative review. The packaging is a pain. There's no innovation--no effort to reduce waste or to reduce the time and struggle necessary to get the doll out of her box. Sigh.
Once I had this doll free from her box, though, she began to charm me out of my bad mood with lots of pleasant little surprises. Expecting cheap hair, I found instead two lovely, long, smooth, tangle-free ponytails. In addition, her extra ponytails are made of a delightful and unique mix of yarn and trim. Expecting that her plastic parts would fall off too easily, I found instead a clever system of heart pegs that securely hold the hair and eyes in place, but are designed so that even a small child could remove them. Fresh from my Bratzillaz review, I expected cheaply made clothing. Instead, I found her dress to be solidly and thoughtfully made. Expecting a ton of gimmicky small parts that I don't need, I found instead that I was having a great time playing with the different eyes, cookie decorations and bows. I want to go out and buy more!
I have criticisms, of course. I sound like a broken record, but I wish this doll was more articulated. She'd be adorable if she could put her hand to her face the way Pullip dolls can. I also think that if her eyes were slightly simpler and more realistic, she'd have a more relatable personality. I worry a bit about the small parts, too. If the hair or the eyes go missing on this doll, you're left with an empty-looking shell of a doll that might not be very appealing to a child. As long as extra eye and hair packs are available, I guess that this is a fixable problem. I imagine most kids will be scrambling to get several of the accessory packs anyway, because for under $10, these packs have a lot of potential for greatly expanding the fun of the dolls.
Cookie's appearance seems a bit like Lalaloopsy, a bit like La Dee Da, and a bit like her more expensive Blythe and Pullip cousins. While this appearance might not be anything particularly new or special, the timeless, Mr Potato Head style of fun that the Cutie Pops offer sets them apart from other play dolls. Color me shocked, but this is a doll I really enjoy.
4 and up. Small parts--not for really young kids.
Good value at $20. You get more for your money with this doll than with many of the current competitors.
Good play doll quality. The hair is nice, the clothing well constructed. Elements of the plastic body seem a bit cheap and there are paint defects to watch for. Hair and eye attachment system is great--as long as it holds up over time.
Ugh. Typical plastic shell with an overkill of attachments and supports. Takes way too long to get the doll out.
No. This is a play doll.
The creative part-swapping element of this doll makes her very versatile. She has a funny exaggerated appearance, but the crafty element to how you interact with her greatly expands her play potential.
I recommend this doll. I think kids will like her trendy but innocent appearance and will have a good time mixing and matching the different accessories. It's also easy and fun for parents to get involved.