Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Limited Edition Merida Doll from the Disney Store

I posted these pictures of the 18" limited edition Merida doll from Brave over on facebook and on my Flickr photostream, but some of you asked me to show them here, too.  I'm leaving this doll in her box for now, so I can't really do a full review yet, but I did snap a few quick pictures of her.  The pictures aren't that great, since the box casts some weird shadows, but just in case you are interested, here she is:

18" Limited Edition Merida.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Classic Merida Doll from the Disney Store

You might remember how excited I've been to see the Pixar movie, Brave.  My excitement stemmed mostly from my enthusiasm for Disney's last masterpiece, Tangled.  I haven't enjoyed a Disney movie that much since I was a kid.  I had high hopes for Brave, and for the the Disney Store doll line that would inevitably accompany it.  The Brave dolls have actually been out for way longer than the movie, which just opened last week.  Not only are the Disney Store shelves packed with Brave dolls right now (including the limited edition 18" Merida), but brand new versions of all of the other princess are available for $14.50 (or 2 for $22 with the current sale).  These new dolls are worth a look because they have different articulation and, it looks like at least Rapunzel has a new face mold.  I'll have to check that out.

I saw Brave on the day it was released.  I'm no movie expert, but I really enjoyed this movie.  It's not Tangled caliber in my eyes, but it's very, very good.  The Scottish accents and music are wonderful, there are numerous laugh-out-loud moments, and I almost cried a few times.  The animation of Merida's hair is incredible, as is the fur animation on all of the creatures.  Merida's horse Angus is amazing and realistic, though he doesn't have a personality like the Tangled steed, Maximus.  My kids and I agree that the plot could have been developed for another 15 minutes or so.  Also, I found myself wishing the movie would slow its frantic pace and let me look at the beautifully rendered characters and scenery a bit more.  I wish Disney movies weren't so frenetic--it's as though they assume kids have no attention span and the visual frame rate of a hawk.   In any case, I liked the movie well enough to be delighted that I have the doll.  She's a charmer:

Classic 12" Brave Merida from the Disney Store.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Monster High Skultimate Roller Maze Lagoona

Many of you voted on which Monster High Roller Maze doll I should de-box next, and Lagoona won with a whopping 48% of the votes!  I'm so glad you picked her because she is my favorite Monster High character.  Ghoulia was the second most popular pick with 18% of the vote, and poor Frankie came in last--but just by a hair (16% of you wanted me to open her).

Here's the lovely Lagoona!

Skultimate Roller Maze Lagoona.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

La Dee Da Dolls by Spin Master

Well, I got my hands on a few of the newest dolls from Spin Master.  These girls have been causing a stir since they were displayed at the Toy Fair in New York last February.  They are called "La Dee Da" dolls, named after Dee, who is the fashion-forward leader of the pack.  The name of the line confuses me, though, because although it's catchy, don't people usually say, "well, la dee da" when they're being mocking and dismissive?  Sometimes even "la dee frickin' da?"  Are these dolls dissing me from inside the box?  Presumably not.  Perhaps it's just meant to be an upbeat, sing-songy name in keeping with the cheery appearance of the dolls.

Spin Master has a knack for manufacturing trendy products.  Bakugan toys, Tech Deck mini skate boards, the adorable Zoobles--these have all been highly sought after and impossible to find at times.  Spin Master is also, of course, the company that introduced us to the innovative and highly articulated Liv dolls in 2009, and then recently announced the discontinuation of that beloved line.  Given the company's track record,  I feel pretty sure that the La Dee Da dolls will be trendy, at least for a little while.

Because it seems like the La Dee Da line is being rolled out to take the place of the faltering Liv dolls, it is hard for me to evaluate these new dolls without directly comparing them to Liv...and Liv dolls are the sole reason I became interested in play dolls as an adult.  So.  I will try very hard to step away from my disappointment about Liv's discontinuation and cast a fair eye on these new kids, but you should keep in mind that I probably have a pretty big chip on my shoulder.  Anyway, meet Cyanne from the "Runway Vacay" line, who I bought for $19.99 online at Toys R Us:

La Dee Da "Runway Vacay Cyanne."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Monster High Skultimate Roller Maze Dolls Arrive!

It's been a while since I've seen a new Monster High doll--there hasn't really been anything new since the great granite Rochelle Goyle, who I reviewed back in April.  I guess April wasn't actually that long ago, but given the typically furious release pace of the Monster High dolls, it felt like a long gap in the action.  Today made up for that gap, though, because all of the roller skating Monster High dolls arrived at my doorstep.  I tried something new this time and pre-ordered an entire case of dolls from Entertainment Earth.  If you're not familiar with it yet, Entertainment Earth is a fun store with a huge variety of merchandise including Monster High dolls, Pullip dolls, Living Dead dolls, Tonner dollsLittlest Pet Shop toys, a huge diversity of action figures and lots more.  My transactions with this store have always been reliable and professional.  They have excellent communication, which is especially nice with pre-orders.  I've also had a lot of fun just recreationally browsing their site.  Anyway, a case of Monster High dolls sounds impressive, like it should be a hundred dolls or something.  It's actually six dolls--the four dolls in the release and two duplicates.  I paid $80, or about $13 per doll, which isn't too bad.  Here they are:
Monster High Skultimate Roller Maze from left: Ghoulia, Lagoona, Frankie and Operetta.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Sylvanian Families Water Mill Bakery--a Quick Look.

One of the very first toys I reviewed was the Li'l Woodzeez Tickle Your Taste Buds Bakery.  Ever since I found that delightful and inexpensive diorama playset at Target, I have had a heightened interest in the Li'l Woodzeez and their more expensive counterparts, the Calico Critters.  After I wrote the comparison review of the two different brands of toy animals, it occurred to me that the Calico Critters might have their own bakery playset...and it might be awesome.  While there doesn't seem to be a Calico Critters bakery set sold in North America, there is a Sylvanian Families bakery set available in Europe, and I found a used one on eBay.  It looks like you can also buy a version of the set at the Sylvanian Families website for 40 pounds (about $60 dollars).  It's called the Water Mill Bakery and it does, in fact, look awesome:

Sylvanian Families "Water Mill Bakery."

Friday, June 8, 2012

The William and Catherine Royal Wedding Barbie set by Mattel

The only dolls that followed me home from Manhattan last weekend are the William and Catherine Barbie dolls that I found at the massive Toys R Us in Times Square. I had seen this set in pictures online and been slightly interested, but never interested enough to shell out the currency necessary to buy them. I don't know if it was seeing them in person that won me over, or that I was caught up in the excitement of the big city, but they seemed like the perfect set to buy at the time--certainly the most special of the numerous Barbie sets that were on display. The problem with getting caught up in a moment is that you loose track of things like the little fact that while I paid $127, this set actually only costs $109 if you buy it online...and I mean if you buy it online at Toys R Us.  So I paid a premium for the experience of buying it at the flagship store, but I guess I am okay with that.  It's a really fun store.

Incidentally, the other Barbie set that kept catching my eye on this trip was the Pillow Talk set with Rock Hudson and Doris Day.  You can get these dolls on Amazon for 40 bucks right now.  If I could remember anything about that movie, I would definitely have purchased this set.  I can only remember Doris Day from the Hitchcock movie, The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Anyway--the dolls look great in real life.

I chose William and Kate because I love the British royal family, I am a sucker for wedding dresses, and because the William doll was grinning at me and I found it kinda irresistible:

William and Catherine Barbie Gold Label set

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Toys "R" Us and FAO Schwarz in Manhattan

I am back from a short trip to Manhattan and I'd love to share a few pictures with you while I get unpacked and organized for the next review.  My mom lives in New York City and so we visit every now and then--although nowhere near as often as I wish we did.  When my kids were little, trips to FAO Schwarz and the massive Toys R Us in Times Square were nice rest stops in between more educational outings.  Now that they are older, my boys are more interested in the Apple Store and the jazz scene, but I am still drawn to these two behemoths of toy retail.

I think Times Square is impressive no matter how many times you've seen it or how old you are.  Between the massive screens and billboards, the throngs of fascinating people, and the sidewalk sideshow-like attractions, there's always something unexpected.  On this visit, the scene that had me stopped in my tracks was this: