Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Some Friends for Barbie's Sister Chelsea

I was so charmed by the cuteness of Chelsea, that I decided to buy a few of her friends.  I was especially interested in the chameleon and hamster pets, because those seem a bit more exotic than the bunny, dog and cat.  I am also one of those people who loves a surprise.  I get insanely curious when I can't see something about a toy until I open it up.  The hamster and chameleon pets can't be seen very well through the boxes, so they were kind-of irresistible to me.  By the way, I also like cereal boxes with toys in them and toy capsule vending machines.  Those kinds of things.

So, I bought Viveca with her chameleon pet:


 And Tamika with her hamster:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Liv in Wonderland

The Liv in Wonderland series is an exclusive set of Liv dolls that was made for Target starting in summer 2011.  The dolls are dressed in their costumes for the school play, Alice in Wonderland.  They all seem to have gotten leading roles.  Although the title of this release obviously refers to the Alice play, the "wonderland" part just makes me think of The Wonder Years TV show and in the back of my head I am thinking that this was how good Liv dolls were back in their wonder years.  That's silly of me, since we don't even know if Spin Master has completely abandoned the old articulated bodies, but it's just how I feel.  I miss the old days.

The good news is, these Liv in Wonderland dolls are still on the shelves at Target for $15.99 (cheaper than the Brites exclusives which are $19.99).  The Wonderland dolls went on clearance for about $10 right before Christmas, and so I assumed they were on their way out, but apparently not.  I've had mine stashed away since then and today I decided to get them out of their boxes.  I don't have all of the dolls because I never really wanted Katie.  Here are the ones I have, still in their boxes:

Sophie as Alice:
Liv-Wonderland-Sophie

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Review of JAMIEshow Studio J Collection "Lee" from Angelic Dreamz

I have been missing in action for a little while because I traveled to the place of my birth (New York) for the weekend to celebrate my birthday.  It was one of those Big Birthdays.  On big birthdays, it feels right to do something special and perhaps something a bit indulgent.  As it happens, Canandaigua New York is a beautiful little town right near where I grew up.  Canandaigua also happens to be the home of Angelic Dreamz, a doll store that carries everything from Monster High to Tonner dolls.  I love Angelic Dreamz...at least in the virtual world.  I have spent many dollars and many online minutes at this store, pouring over the eclectic array of available dolls.  I had never actually been to the store in person until last weekend.

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:"

Jamieshow-Sasha-Tropez

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Review of MiM Dolls from Make it Mine, LLC

I heard about the brand-new Make it Mine ("MiM") company and their debut doll line back in December on Terri's blog.  The first thing I noticed about these dolls was that they have a centaur body option.  That's not something you see every day.  As a person who likes dolls and horses quite a lot, a centaur doll has always been near the top of my list of things to add to my collection.  There aren't a ton of centaur dolls out there, though.  SOOM of Korea made an exquisite unicorn centaur doll a while ago (gasp!), but if you pile all of the different options and extras for him into your shopping cart (because I would want everything in those pictures!) it gets really pricey.  And he's sold out.  SOOM also had some smaller wood centaur dolls that were less expensive, but also less impressive.  Domadoll has a cute centaur, too, but I am not sure if it is still available for order.  Jpop Dolls has a relatively inexpensive centaur BJD named Elise who has especially nice horse parts.  I think there was one other very well-done BJD centaur on my radar, but I've forgotten where I saw it.  The MiM doll with a centaur body can be yours for about $134, making it the least expensive articulated centaur doll I have seen to date.

After glimpsing those first pictures, I took a look at the MiM website to learn more.   MiM dolls are advertised as 16" plastic ball-jointed dolls.  I guess the term "ball-jointed doll" applies to any doll with ball-and-socket joints.  I agree with Wikipedia, though, when they say that "BJD" usually means a resin doll strung with elastic and made in Asia, which MiM is not.  Oh, well.  The MiM doll has several customizable parts, which definitely fits with my idea of what a BJD should be.  Not only is there a centaur body, but MiM dolls can be mermaids, too.  Cool!  The Make it Mine website is very fun.  I've visited there many times since December, recreationally filling and un-filling my cart.  You can choose between different skin colors, faces, wigs, eye colors and outfit options and the site will show you a picture of approximately what your doll will look like.  It reminds me a lot of the Hasbro Lorifina dolls and their website.  Here what the MiM face looks like:

MiM-Doll-Review

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Monster High Review: Create-a-Monster Werewolf and Dragon Starter Pack and Skeleton Add-on

I think that the best thing about Monster High dolls is the creativity behind their design.  Each new doll has a fascinating and unique character with a wardrobe and accessories intricately matched to a theme.  When the "Create-a-Monster" line of Monster High doll kits was announced, it seemed like another in a series of innovative ideas from Mattel.  Why not let the buyer have a part in the design of these fun dolls?  Sell the raw materials and let everyone share in the excitement of creating a new monster.  I was definitely looking forward to getting my hands on one of these toys.  When I saw that there was a starter pack that included parts for a dragon doll, I was giddy.  I love dragons.  Once I got a peek at the scaled limbs and green wings that are included in this set, it became an absolute must-have for me.

There are two starter sets for the Create-a-Monster line, the Dragon and Werewolf set and a Vampire and Sea Monster duo.  They retail for $26.99.  These starter sets include all of the parts to make two complete dolls with the irritating exception of there being only one torso.  I was disappointed to learn that the dolls have to share a torso, but I assumed I could use the torsos from other Monster High dolls, like my wonky-eyed Lagoona, and that in the end there'd be plenty of body parts to go around.

I bought both of the starter sets when they came in stock at my Toys R Us, figuring that more parts would equal more fun.  Here's Dragon and Werewolf:
Monster-High-Create-Dragon

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Quick Review of Barbie's Sister Chelsea and Her Pet Fish

I've mentioned that I am not a Barbie expert, but when I saw this doll, I got pretty excited.  I got a little confused, too, because I always thought Barbie's younger sister was "Kelly."  I like the name Kelly and I think it goes really well with the name Barbie, but never mind that. What's really great about this doll (aside from her $6 price tag) is that she has a pet fish.  A fish.  In a plastic bag.

Let's face it, Barbie dolls usually come with impressive, out-of-reach accessories.  Barbie sometimes comes with a pure-bred dog (or a pure-bred dog with puppies), a new custom pink convertible car, a "dream townhouse," a new kitchen, a vacation jet plane, a pool...heck, even Barbie's shoes are so cute they're probably Manolo Blahniks.  But a fish?  That's an awesome accessory.  Virtually anyone who wants to can have a fish.  And as a parent, it's easy to say "yes!" to a fish.  If your little girl buys a Chelsea doll and wants to emulate her by having a pet fish--that's a slam dunk moment.  Buy a pet fish in a plastic bag and be Mom of the Year.  Seriously, though, maybe buy the fish a nice tank, too.  Actually, did you know that at certain chain pet stores they won't let you buy a goldfish (even a $0.25 "feeder" goldfish that is sold as food for other animals...) if you don't also buy a tank and a filter?  Yep.  My son wanted to "rescue" a feeder goldfish and they wouldn't let us buy it because we didn't want to buy a filtered tank.  Needless to say, we went to another store, rescued our fish, and put it in a nice big (unfiltered) tank.  That was six years ago and the fish is still alive and happy.  True story.  That's a huge tangent, though.  Sorry.

Look how thrilled Chelsea is with her fish:

Barbie-Chelsea-Fish
In a plastic bag.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pullip Dolls by Cheonsang Cheonha for Groove, Inc.

"Pullip" is the name of the main character in a line of large-headed 12" fashion dolls created by Korean artist Cheonsang Cheonha.  I think the name Pullip means "young leaf."  The history of these dolls is a little confusing for someone like myself who became interested in the dolls only recently.  Pullip dolls were first made in 2003 by the Japanese company Jun Planning.  In 2009, Jun Planning of Japan filed for bankruptcy, but left their American branch, Jun Planning USA, open and operational through 2010.  Jun Planning USA shifted the handling of their Pullip doll releases to Korean-based Groove, Inc and now the Jun Planning USA website seems out of date and all of the new Pullip dolls have "Groove, Inc" on their boxes.  Despite this switch, you will still occasionally see Pullips referred to as "Jun Planning dolls."

The details of the Pullip dolls themselves are also somewhat confusing to a newcomer.  The Pullip character has a personality profile (she goes to a private school in Italy and enjoys scuba diving...) and she has a boyfriend (Taeyang), and any doll released with her face is called "Pullip."  However, each individual Pullip doll also has its own unique name and personality, making it seem like a completely different character.  For instance, the doll I will de-box in this review is named "Elisabeth" and she's a vampire dressed in medieval clothes.  I don't think she spends much time scuba diving.  So, I prefer to think of "Pullip" as just a face sculpt, and then each of the different dolls with this face is a personality all her own.

In this post, I will discuss some of the general features of Pullip dolls while de-boxing and doing an in-depth review of Elisabeth the vampire from 2010.  I will talk about Pullip's companions (Dal, Byul, Taeyang and Isul) another time.  Here's Elisabeth:

Pullip-Elisabeth-Vampire
She's creepy-awesome.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nu Mood "Jess" by Tonner Doll: Cinderella Reincarnated

Robert Tonner's Basic Cinderella is probably my favorite doll of all time.  I have a huge emotional attachment to this doll and have collected almost every single Tonner doll that shares her face, including all of the newer "Cami" dolls that have a slightly re-sized version of the Cinderella face sculpt.  You might remember from my earlier post that I haven't been too happy with the more recent changes in these dolls. The introduction of "Wigged Cami Too" marked the first time since the debut of the Cinderella face that I decided not to spend my money.  I still have no interest in buying that doll.

Right before IDEX, Tonner premiered his "Nu Mood" line of basic dolls.  These dolls each have one of three body types (Curvy, Dance or Fashion) and they share interchangeable hands and feet and a mix-and-match wardrobe.  This is a cool idea, especially since one of the options for the switchable feet is ballet feet.  I really liked the New York City Ballet line of Tonner dolls, and seeing the re-introduction of the en pointe feet was good news for me.

Better news for me was that one of the Nu Mood characters has the Cinderella face.  Her name is Jess, and she comes with the Dance body.  Perfect.  These dolls retail for $59.99, but mine was less expensive because of a pre-order special.  I haven't paid this little or been this excited about a new Cinderella-faced doll for a while.  The thing that had me the most excited is that in the promo pictures, Jess looks like Cinderella, not Cami.  Don't get me wrong, I love Cami--I adore her, but seeing a new Cinderella after all of these years was like seeing a beloved old friend.  She arrived on Thursday and I have been patiently waiting for the weekend to get her out:

Nu-Mood-Jess-Tonner
Tonner's Nu Mood Jess

Friday, February 3, 2012

Quick Lorifina Update: BFC Ink. Outfits Show Promise

One of the problems with a discontinued doll like Lorifina is that it is difficult to find a wardrobe for her.  Occasionally, there are single items of Lorifina's original wardrobe on eBay, but it gets tiresome to seek out pieces of clothing one at a time, and the shipping costs can really add up.  So, I have been searching for a current line of dolls that can share clothes with this tall beauty.  I've scoured the doll aisles of several stores looking at all of the dolls in the 20" range and, of all the dolls I've seen, the BFC, Ink. girls are the closest match.  Although their heads are larger than Lorifina's, the BFCs have bodies that are slim and tall like hers.  BFC Ink dolls are 18" articulated dolls made by MGA Entertainment.  They remind me a bit of American Girl dolls, but are slightly shorter and have slimmer bodies.  BFC stands for "Best Friends Club," but I have no idea why they spell "Ink" that way, assuming it is short for "incorporated."

Anyway, I've come close to buying a BFC outfit pack several times, feeling pretty sure at least some of the pieces would fit, but haven't really loved any of the clothes enough to spend $14.99.   Today I found a nice outfit that looked like it would coordinate well with my Lorifina's other clothes, and so I decided it was time to put this idea to the test.  Here's the outfit, it's called "Icy Cute:"

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Review of Barbie Fashionista "In the Spotlight" Artsy Doll by Mattel

I don't collect Barbie dolls, so I don't know a whole lot about them.  In fact, I never had a single Barbie doll when I was growing up.  I think this was because my mom didn't approve of them, skinny waists and all.  One other possible explanation for my lack of Barbies is that whenever I was given a doll with rooted hair, I would gradually cut off all the hair until it was just a wreckage of uneven spikes (and then I would poke the spikey ends into the head with a pencil).  So, yeah.  That could be it, too.

For one reason or another, I have mostly avoided the Barbie aisle for my entire life.  However, when Mattel released the "Fashionista" line and I learned that the dolls have exchangeable heads, I was interested.  Actually, on these dolls the whole head and shoulder unit comes off, and you can buy extra head attachments to change the look of your doll.  This means that stores have extra heads for sale on the shelves.  Picture it: rows and rows of disembodied Barbie heads smiling out at you from shiny plastic boxes.  It's a little weird.  I had to get one and try it out.  The trouble is, I know so little about Barbies that I bought the wrong thing.  I bought a doll that said "Fashionista" on the box, and I bought a head that matched her skin tone and also said "Fashionista," but when I got everything home and tried to get the doll's head off, it simply would not come off.  So, the first thing I learned about the Fashionista line is that not all of the dolls have interchangeable heads.  Watch out for that.

About a week ago, I got an email asking me if I had ever considered reviewing the Barbie Fashionistas.  Well, I have to admit that I had been waiting for an excuse to give the head-swapping adventure another try.  I mean, I still have the head I bought sitting here in its box with no body to put it on.  Armed with new determination, I headed out to Toys R Us and bought this:

Barbie-Fashionista-Artsy
Fashionista Artsy