Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Adopt a Friend" Dolls by My Twinn


If you’d asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said that the chances of my doing a My Twinn review were next to zero.  I’ve never been very interested in the My Twinn dolls.  My Twinn is known for selling 23" play dolls that are custom made to resemble a specific child.  I guess it has always seemed like such a hassle and a gamble to have a doll custom made. The catalogue pictures of girls with their matching dolls are pretty amazing, but the faces of My Twinn dolls are dangerously hit or miss—some are wonderful, some are not.  The bodies also look funny to me in some pictures, but I always assumed these shots were the result of a tall doll in a bad camera angle.  In the end, the price has simply been too high to take a chance that I might not like the end product.  


So why am I writing a My Twinn review now?  It’s a bit of a convoluted story.  It all started because I have been getting serious about the purchase of an American Girl.  It would be very helpful to have one for comparisons to dolls like Karito Kids and Carpatina.  Last week, I was debating which American Girl I should choose.  Saige, the Girl of the Year for 2013, seems perfect.  She loves horses (just like me) and has red hair (like I wish I had).  I stumbled across this amazingly helpful post on Never Grow Up, though, and it convinced me that I actually prefer Josephina’s face mold and might want her (or Rebecca) instead.  Hmm.  So, I was looking at Saige’s horse and being massively indecisive, and then I remembered that My Twinn horses are better than American Girl horses and that got me wondering if My Twinn was still in business.  Last time I checked (in 2009) there were rumors of bankruptcy.  So…I headed over to the My Twinn website to scope things out.

That was the last my family saw of me all weekend.

My Twinn takes over the house.
I became temporarily but completely obsessed by the My Twinn website.  Not only are these dolls still in production, there have been some fascinating changes in the last four years.  For an interesting and thorough summary of the My Twinn history, I highly recommend this post on Logan's Ladies.

Ordering a custom portrait doll is a still a major component of the My Twinn concept (custom dolls are $149 and take three or four weeks to make), but it is no longer the only way you can purchase a doll.  There are three simpler doll-buying choices.  The option that roped me into exploring the website was the “My BFF" doll designing feature.  This interactive tool allows you to customize a doll by picking and choosing between six head molds, nine eye colors, four skin tones, five hair colors and twelve hairstyles.  You can also add freckles and choose from three different makeup palettes.  At the end of the activity, you can pick one of ten outfits to put on your doll (that's 1,166,400 unique BFFs, if you really want to know).  The online project can be done for free as many times as you want, but if you're going to purchase the doll you design, it will cost $129.00.  Here's a screenshot from the doll builder site:

http://www.mybffdoll.com
I tried the doll builder more times than I care to admit.  This was my favorite creation:


As fun as the My BFF doll builder is, this isn’t what took all of my time and money.  One of the other doll buying options on the site is called “Adopt a Friend.”  This was my downfall.  Adopt a Friend dolls are one of a kind, full-sized My Twinn dolls that have been assembled from “left over components.” They might have some minor defects and imperfections.  These dolls can be purchased on the spot with no waiting.  Also, with these Friends, you see a photo of exactly which doll you’re getting.  The My Twinn site further explains that the Adopt a Friends “may contain components from dolls we were unable to complete or components that we were unable to use on a custom doll” (and may contain peanuts).  

Basically, these are abandoned, unwanted (maybe slightly defective) orphans. Sigh. They're probably put together from scraps and leftovers.  Ooof.  And, these little abandoned scrap orphans were on sale for $49 last weekend.  Help me.

It's a hard knock life.
There were 52 pages filled with over 400 little My Twinn scrap orphans when my quest began. Each doll was identified by a single, tiny (sometimes grainy) thumbnail photograph.  I went around half blind and with a splitting headache after having spent my entire weekend pouring over these photographs…again and again.  Why did it take me so long?  Besides the fact that I’m crazy, 400 faces is a lot, and there were so many variables for me to consider.  What eye color did I want?  What outfit?  What hairstyle?  What skin tone? Are there any visible defects?  

Mind boggling.
What surprised me is that the doll I bought is nothing like any of the girls I made in the My BFF doll builder.  She doesn’t have red hair, green eyes, or freckles. My doll, who I like to imagine is Greek (and loves horses) stood out to me because of her olive complexion, her cute smile and her dark eyebrows.  I think she looks wonderful.  I named her Kalliope (kal-eye-oh-pee):

Kalli, for short.
I could have made a doll very similar to Kalliope in the My BFF section, but I don't think I ever would have bought her.  Look at the difference between the doll builder picture (L) and Kalli's actual photo (R):


Besides, the custom My BFF dolls were $109 (on sale) and the Adopt a Friend orphans were $50 (on sale).  So, no contest.  

I felt pretty good about this purchase, but I was still slightly uneasy about what Kalliope would look like in real life.  I didn't have to wait very long to find out.  I ordered her on Saturday and she arrived on Wednesday.  She arrived in a very large pink cardboard doll box with the My BFF logo on the front:


The top of the box is a bit flimsy, and it arrived with several dents and creases in it.  The bottom of the box is more solid, and has an extra cardboard support piece that covers the lower half of the doll's body and contains the separately packaged outfit.

Look at little Kalliope's happy face smiling out from her box:


The website warned me that my orphan might not come with any underwear or shoes.  In fact, Kalli has a full two-piece underwear set and shoes.  My first impression was that she is adorable, and her face looks very realistic.  She photographs well:


That neck seam is a little distracting.
The underwear set consists of a white rib knit tank top and a matching pair of shorts.  Both pieces have peach colored lace accents around the edges and a small pink satin bow in front.  It's hard to see in the pictures, but "my twinn" is embroidered in pink on both the top and the shorts.



The tank top does not have an opening in the back, and so it is a little hard to get off.  It would have been nice if there was snap or some velcro to make this process a bit easier.  It brings back memories of getting dressed in turtlenecks when I was younger.  Oh, the 70s. 


The torso of the My Twinn body is stuffed and has an internal armature.  Without doing exploratory surgery, my best guess is that she has a plastic beaded armature similar to the one shown here.  The doll has a vinyl head, vinyl lower arms, and vinyl legs below the knees.


A couple of things bother me about this body.  First of all, the arms are too long.  This can look fine from some angles, but if you look at this child anatomy reference, you'll see that a child's hands should hang at about mid-thigh.  Kalliope's hands stretch down to knee level:


The mistake is in her upper arm.  If they had just shortened that cloth section by about an inch, it would make a huge difference.  I wonder, with all of the changes in the company over the last decade, why has no one ever fixed the body?  

Anyway, I tried to bend her armature so that she had wider shoulders and shorter arms, and while this certainly makes her arms appear to be a more natural length, her shoulders don't look very realistic:


Macaroni shoulder.
The armature allows all of the cloth parts of the body to be quite flexible.  In contrast, the vinyl arms are completely unarticulated.  What makes this really awkward is that the seam between the cloth and the vinyl falls above the elbow joint.  So, the doll has no elbow or wrist movement, but she can bend her upper arm (what would be her humerus bone) in six different ways.   This, of course, is completely incorrect anatomically, and it makes for some very bizarre, unnatural posing.


Here's a close-up of the arm seam.  It would make such a nice, natural elbow joint.  What a wasted opportunity:


In the lower limbs, there are two things that help the body pose more naturally.  First of all, the seam between the cloth body and the vinyl falls almost exactly at the knee.  This can be counted as a knee joint.  Also, the vinyl ankles are articulated.  This allows the feet to rotate and accomodate a wide variety of poses:



The feet can rotate and also flex back and forth a little bit:




It's a mystery to me why they would design the lower limbs so carefully and leave the upper limbs (which contribute a lot more to the expressiveness of the doll) so clunky and inaccurate.

The cloth portion of the body is made out of a beige knit that resembles thick pantyhose fabric.  My doll is a little overstuffed in the chest.  This doesn't bother me, though, because if this doll were played with and carried around, her stuffing would probably flatten over time.


She doesn't have much of a bottom, either, but this should make her easier to dress.


My doll has some shiny rubs on the vinyl parts of her arms.  Perhaps this is the defect that sentenced her to the orphan page?  I don't find the marks bothersome.


Here is Kalliope showing off her flexibility:










Kalliope's neck can rotate around, and the armature allows her to bend her head from side to side and up and down a little, although these motions take some effort.  


Overall, while the lower half of this doll poses nicely, the upper half is a disappointment.  The arms can move, but they move in an unnatural way.  I find the length of the arms incredibly distracting.  

Kalliope came with an adorable casual outfit complete with shoes and socks.  The My Twinn outfits cost around $29 on their own.  This particular outfit (called Happy Hearts) is on sale for $21.75 right now.  To get the full outfit and the doll for $49 was a fantastic deal.


The shirt is made out of a chocolate brown cotton knit with a light blue and red heart print.  The shirt has an empire waist accented by red ric-rac.  Below the waist, the shirt is gathered and falls in loose pleats.



The shirt opens all of the way down the back and has a white velcro closure.  It is elasticized at the cuffs and is very easy to get on and off.  The construction looks solid.


The outfit includes some soft brown corduroy boot cut pants.  I'd wear these if they fit.  They are complete with several sewn details, including working belt loops (no belt) and real pockets.



The pants have a metal snap closure at the top with a velcro fly.



I was delighted to see that I also got a pair of brown suede boots.  These are very nicely made:


The boots have sturdy side zippers for easy dressing, and they are decorated with lovely pink embroidered flowers.



The downside to the boots is that they leave some heavy grease stains on porous surfaces.  This is really gross to me for some reason.  I think it's the result of adding oil to plastic to make it flexible.  Some of the oil leaks out over time.  I assume it's not dangerous or anything, but still.  Yuck.


Here's Kalli all dressed in her outfit:


With her coloring, I think Kalli looks great in brown:


She has carefully painted dark eyebrows and applied upper and lower lashes.  The My Twinn eyes are made out of plastic, but they have realistic details.  These eyes are hard to photograph because they are so dark and reflective, but they are a natural deep brown color with a subtle black rim.  They are set evenly.  Several of the Adopt a Friend dolls had obviously wonky eyes, so it's a good idea to peer at those pictures pretty carefully before you buy.

The size of the irises might be slightly big for this face:



While I love this doll's charming smile and realistic features, I have a few issues with the head sculpture.  It's not apparent from all angles, and the doll photographs well, but notice the size of her chin and the depth of her jawline:


Her chin is very prominent.  Younger kids, in particular, tend to have less imposing chins.  Also, the region between the tip of her chin and the front of her neck is too shallow. Here's a generic child profile picture for comparison.  I shouldn't even comment on this, because back when I used to sculpt dolls, I was terrible at getting the depth of the neck correct.  It's hard.  

The face seems odd when I am looking down on it, too.  The problem here is harder for me to pinpoint.  I don't know exactly what is wrong.  Maybe it's the size of the eyes?  Maybe it's still the chin?


She looks lovely in a half-profile, though:


Kalli's hair is wigged.  It has a center part and falls in loose ringlets.


Along the center part, individual strands of hair are rooted into a pale plastic strip.  This looks incredibly realistic--like skin showing through:


The skin tone along the part is a bit light for this doll, but the overall effect is great.  The rest of the hair is sewn in long strips to a black canvas wig cap:


Examining the wig and taking the ribbon out made Kalli's hair really messy.  The wig was also uneven in length and had to be trimmed.  The hair fiber is a bit coarse.  I tried brushing some of the curls, but they tangle really easily and create this big poofy rat's nest of hair.  This wig is pretty bad.


The quality of the wig is particularly frustrating because I spent so much time looking at hair before I bought a doll.  With the potential disaster of curly hair, and some of the strange bang styles and cuts I saw, if I had to pick again, I'd stick with straight hair and no bangs.  

I positioned Kalli for a variety of shots, but felt like she had a limited number of unique, realistic poses. 


In between good shots, there were a lot of robot arms and messy hair.  Here are some outtakes:


That smile is a charmer, though:




I don't have many other dolls that are the same size as Kalliope.  She is taller than the Karito Kids and the Carpatina dolls, and her proportions are those of a much younger child:


She's about the same size as my Philip Heath World of Children doll.  The Heath doll is skinier, so although she can wear Kalliope's outfit, the fit is a little loose.


Just for fun, here she is next to my Skille doll, Ola:


So, that could have been the end of my My Twinn adventure.  


However, even after I chose Kalliope and purchased her, I couldn't stay away from the website.  For one thing, I had to go back through the list of orphans again and again to make sure that I hadn't missed any real gems.  I was feeling fairly attached to some of the faces that had become familiar during my hunt for Kalliope.  This, one, for example:


She has (poorly photographed) green eyes and looks like her name should be Jane.  Also, this cutie reminded me of a little girl I used to babysit:

Annie
 Luckily, someone else adopted her before I lost all of my self control.  

Then, I noticed another area of the website where "Vintage Collector" dolls are for sale.  I had to investigate.  The Vintage Collector dolls are also pre-made dolls that can be purchased on the spot.  These dolls aren't cheap, though.  The price range on these babies is $199-$299 (and they are not returnable or exchangeable).  The problem is, to me, they look exactly like the $49 Adopt a Friend scrap orphans.  

Here--let's play a little game so you can see what I mean. Below are four dolls.  The prices on the day I was shopping were either $49 or $249.  See which ones you like best and see if you can guess which ones are more expensive (hint: there are two from each price group):



So, first of all, that green dress is awful.  Why have a low cut neckline when half of the neck is vinyl and the other half is cloth?  Yikes.  Anyway--the dolls in the top two pictures look very similar to me.  I slightly prefer the one on the left.  In the bottom row, I like the one on the left significantly more.  Of the four dolls, I'd only be tempted to buy the one on the top left.  The prices?

Top left: $49 (Adopt a Friend)
Top right: $249 (Vintage Collector)
Bottom left: $49 (Adopt a Friend)
Bottom right: $249 (Vintage Collector)

What??!!  This did not make any sense to me at first.  After some reading, I understand this pricing a little better.  Apparently, the Vintage Collector series is made from left over scraps and parts that have been discontinued.  Some of the discontinued My Twinn parts, in particular those that hail from the Denver factory era (1995-2001), can be quite sought after and valuable.  I guess it's like how some of my Tonner Cinderella dolls cost $80 and some cost over $200.  

Ok, fine, but seriously?  To me (admittedly a My Twinn newbie) this is just ridiculous.  Look at these two:


One of them is $49 and was on my top ten orphan list and the other one is $299 and is pretty much crazy looking.  Here's a screen shot of the price, in case you think I'm kidding:


So, I played this game with myself for hours.  I really need to find some better things to do.  When I compared these four dolls, though, I got into real trouble:



Again, two of them are cheap and two are expensive.  All of them are redheads.  Have you formed your opinions?  Ready for the results??

Top left: $299 (Vintage Collector)
Top right: $49 (Adopt a Friend)
Bottom left: $199 (Vintage Collector)
Bottom right: $49 (Adopt a Friend)

My favorite?  The girl on the top right.  The problem with playing this game all day?  $50 starts to seem like a relatively good deal.  

Meet Hazel, aka Top Right:


I think Hazel is cuter than her Adopt a Friend thumbnail picture.  I can't tell you how many times I completely overlooked her.  Here she is, side-by-side with her website portrait:


The big disappointment is that her hair isn't nearly as red as advertised.  It's light brown--maybe auburn. Definitely not bright red.  I've read this elsewhere about My Twinn hair.  You can't expect the colors you see online.  For example, the red color in the My BFF doll designer looks like this:


But looks like this in real life:

Blah.
Hazel's eyes are also slightly askew, but she's pretty cute:


She has pale green eyes and very faint, raised eyebrows:


I don't like the color or the style of the purple ball gown that Hazel is wearing.  The wide cut neck shows too much body fabric:


However, I have to admit that the dress is nicely made.  It has a detachable lace sash, romantic bell sleeves and a tulle and satin layered underskirt:


She also came with adorable satin slippers:


Her straight bobbed hair is silky and smooth and very easy to manage.  I just wish it was red.


Hazel has essentially the same body as Kalli, although the bodies were made in 2009 (Hazel) and 2011 (Kalli).  Maybe Hazel's arms are a little shorter?


Hazel's chest is not quite as overstuffed as Kalli's, so her body is better proportioned and slightly easier to move:


Hazel looks great wearing the Falling Leaves My Twinn outfit.  If she'd been presented like this on the website, I'd have bought her much faster:


She might look even better (and more like a redhead...) wearing Kalli's brown shirt:



Bottom line?  My Twinn offers a huge variety of options.  Not only are there a myriad of choices for the appearance of each individual doll, there are also four different categories of doll to choose from. The variety makes each My Twinn doll seem special and unique.  Of the ~400 dolls I looked at, no two were exactly the same.  On the other hand, the variety also presents some tough choices…with an uncomfortably unpredictable outcome.

The pricing is all over the map.  From a newcomer's point of view, the dolls are all very similar, but you can pay anywhere from $50 to $300 for them.  To complicate things, promotions come and go frequently and offer significant discounts.  For example, a few days ago, the Vintage Collector dolls were 75% off, and now they’re back to full price.  The price inconsistencies make me uneasy.  I don't have a lot of confidence in the declared value of any given doll.  My conclusion?  Don't purchase a My Twinn doll unless it's on sale. 

The quality of the dolls is a mixed bag.  Looking at Kalliope alone, I love her realistic smile, beautiful dark brown eyes and nicely painted eyebrows.  She looks like a one of a kind doll.  However, her facial dimensions are slightly wrong and her features look odd from some angles.  The rooted center part of the wig is very clever, and the hairstyle is perfect for this doll's cheery face, but the wig itself is a coarse, tangled disaster.  The My Twinn body design is great--from the waist down.  The upper body is strangely proportioned and has strikingly unnatural arm articulation.  The Happy Hearts outfit is attractive and well-made. I love everything about the outfit except for the fact that the shoes leave greasy stains.

If I bring Hazel into the equation, it gets even harder to make a general statement about quality.  Unlike Kalli, Hazel's face is nicely proportioned and her wig is soft and manageable. However, her face paint is not especially striking or unique and her eyes are set slightly askew.  Also, Hazel's hair is not the color I expected it to be.  Hazel's purple ball gown is well constructed, but the design doesn't flatter her hybrid body so I had to plunk down another $25 to get her a better outfit.

I should reiterate that Hazel and Kalliope are both from the Adopt a Friend line, and the website is very clear about the fact that these dolls might have imperfections.  This could account for Kalliope’s bad wig and Hazel’s wonky eyes.  Ideally, I'd have looked at a custom My BFF doll to get a better sense for the typical standard of quality.  Still, as I type this, the Adopt a Friend dolls and the custom My BFF dolls are both selling for $99.  If there is a big difference in the quality of these two groups, then I'm back to wondering what on Earth is up with the pricing?


Despite all of the new doll buying options, purchasing a My Twinn doll still seems like a gamble.  If you happen to get a face you love, pretty eyes that are well positioned, a high quality wig, a distinct paint job and a great outfit--and particularly if you get all of this on sale, My Twinn Adopt a Friend dolls are a good buy.  However, I don't feel that the website provides the kind of information that is necessary to ensure an optimal buying experience.  There aren't enough clear, real-life pictures of face molds, eye colors, hair colors and hairstyles for decisions to be easy.  Even with the pre-made Adopt a Friend or Vintage Collector dolls, the single thumbnail portrait you have to make your decision is completely inadequate and sometimes inaccurate.

My two dolls, each with a mix of good and bad qualities, are worth the $49 I paid.  The outfits alone are worth at least half of that price.  I'm glad I didn't pay full price, and I am glad I didn't have any need for the doll to look a certain way.  If I had paid the full retail price, the flaws and inconsistencies would be less acceptable.  Kalliope is more unique and has more personality, but Hazel (mostly because of her hair) was the better overall buy.  Kalliope's wig would stop me from giving her to a child, but Hazel would make a wonderful gift at a great price.  I might come back to lurk during the next $49 Adopt a Friend sale, but for now, I've had enough of My Twinn's enticing website.


Summary:
Age Level
The dolls are large, but soft and huggable.  I’d recommend them for ages 6 and up. Box says 8 and up.
Value
Normal retail for the Adopt a Friend dolls is fair, but only if you get a doll with no serious flaws. Some sales offer outstanding value.
Quality
Mixed quality.  The body is highly articulated, but bends in some of the wrong places. The face paint ranges from generic to unique.  The wigs range from curly, coarse and tangled to straight and soft.  The eyes are pretty, but can be set poorly.  The clothing is very well made, but some styles are tacky and do not flatter the doll’s neck seam area.
Packaging
Excellent.  Cardboard box with cloth ribbons and cardboard securing the doll.
Collectable?
These are play dolls, but some of the discontinued face molds and eye colors might have collector value.
Versatility
Highly versatile.  These dolls are more articulated than most large play dolls.  There are six different face molds that could represent a wide range of ages and personalities.  There is a nice range in hair, skin and eye color and seemingly endless combinations of traits making each doll seem special.  My Twinn dolls do not share clothes with any of the other play doll lines I own.  
Overall
The doll bodies have some proportion and articulation shortcomings. The overall value depends on the combination of features you choose and the price you pay.  If the body design doesn’t bother you too much, it’s possible to find a nice, unique doll at a great price.


46 comments:

  1. I have two of the regular My Twinn dolls from when I was a kid! I can say that the overall quality of those was kind of mixed too. I mean, as a child I didn't care but my mom had two specific comments about the one that was supposed to look like me. For one, they messed up the bangs (mine have never been cut so that they're straight across my forehead, this doll's are).
    Two, she only came with eyelashes on one eye. They said they'd send us a pack and... nothing.

    However, they're durable. I slept with my twin every night for a few years, only stopping when she fell out of the bed for the millionth time and her neck joint broke (really creepy effect if you shake her).

    Overall, the custom ones don't have any of the flaws that you've mentioned. The other one I have seems flawless, but I can't tell what line she's from.

    This was really cool to read though! I thought My Twinn had gone down but it's nice to know they haven't, and this brought back a lot of memories for me <3 I love your blog and your reviews <3

    I would reccommend trying one of the custom ones, but with my own issues with the custom dolls and the fact that I'm 20 now so my dolls are both really old, I don't feel comfortable doing that. Besides, the Adopt a Friend ones are cute on their own.

    I will note that I don't think the arms on mine are overly long like that. Again, they're old so the model might be different, but for all the times my mom stood them up, I would've noticed.

    Thanks for having an awesome blog!

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    1. Hi Leila! It's great to hear your perspective as a long time My Twinn owner. It would be really interesting if the older bodies didn't have those funny arms and now they do! Backwards progress. That might explain why some of the older dolls are more valuable?

      It's important for me to remember that a lot of the things that bother me as a doll critic probably wouldn't bother a child at all! Sounds like despite a few little flaws, your dolls were wonderful companions. :)

      Full disclosure is that I did order a My BFF custom doll and she came right before I posted this review. She is cute, with well-placed eyes and a smooth wig. The eyes are not quite as realistic as Hazel's eyes and the hair is smooth and tangle-free, but it feels a little synthetic to me. It's not really soft and silky. The deal breaker was that her hair isn't red at all. The doll builder shows bright red hair, but this doll had dirty blonde hair. I sent her back. :( It's fine, because I am happier with Hazel than I thought I would be. She was a great buy.

      You've inspired me to do some digging into the older dolls--now I want to see pictures of the older bodies and faces! I find it really fascinating when a doll company has such a rich history.

      Thank you again for your comments! It's really cool to hear about your experience with these dolls.

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  2. Hello from Spain: I love this collection of dolls My Twinn. In my country are not well known. I read that in America there are many similar dolls like American Girl. I find it interesting the section'' adopt me '... The clothing is also very nice. They have a face and very expressive eyes. I think it's an interesting collection. As always your post is very interesting. Keep in touch

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    1. Thank you, Marta! I think My Twinn ships internationally now, so maybe the dolls will start to show up in Spain? I'd be curious to know how expensive the shipping is, though.

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  3. I have two My Twinn dolls that both came to me second hand. My first was Olivia who I purchased from an antique shop for $25 wearing her original 90s red checked dress, white tights and black Mary Jane shoes. I was shocked at my good fortune on the price and couldn't pass her up. She has a white body (typical of the older dolls, but at least she's possible and not one of the "sitting only" dolls) and an older face mold with gorgeous short curly blonde hair and blue green eyes. I believe her to have been a custom doll as she has no blemishes and her hair is in great condition so maybe there's a big girl Olivia walking around somewhere. My only compliant about her is her hair bored me quite quickly. There's not a lot you can do with short doll hair and even less with short curls/waves (hers isn't quite as curly as your Kallie and it brushes quite nicely in comparison) so I began using one of my old hair covered ponytails in her hair, you know the ones we wrapped around our buns and ponies back in the day to give more volume and add extra curls for the straight haired girls *raises hand* ME ME! It works nicely as a "wiglet" so I can do some mock up dos. I'm lucky Olivia and I have similar hair colors. When I first found Ms. Olive I only had her meet outfit for her. But from a suggestion on the Internet I tried some premie and newborn clothes on her. I already had a baby style doll that fit into them so Olivia had quite a babyish wardrobe for a while. But I soon found that the dress/bloomers/cardigan outfits fit her perfectly and were a bit more her age range. She can wear most premie and newborn clothes, along with the occasional 0-3 month onesie as a top. I even fashioned a tie waist Justice skort into a long peasant skirt for her. Since Olive is white bodied its even harder to make sure her cloth body is covered. I have a few doll sized scarfs she wears to cover her neck join in the winter and a few turtleneck and standard tee style dickies also. Satine is quite new to the family though. I was visiting friends in Sacramento and went to a thrift store. I found her buried in a toy pile with colored pencil marks all over her face, hair a wreck and only wearing her undergarments. But get this... she was THREE DOLLARS. Totally blew my Olivia deal out of the water. So boy was I happy I had been stockpiling Olivia's wardrobe over the years. Satine came from a thrift shop in the little Saigon neighborhood of Sac and she is an Asian doll with a bit of a tan. My boyfriend thought she could be Hispanic and they do use similar face molds but I think given the neighbor hood I found her I think she's modeled after a Filipino girl. Oh... And her name, my boyfriend started to refer to her as Satan, Satine was my compromise! Haha. Here's a casual picture of my girls:
    http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/39897635@N05/8419243780/

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    1. Wonderful! Wow! What amazing deals you found on your girls...that makes my $50 Adopt a Friends seem really expensive. Also, Satine and Olivia are SO CUTE!! I can't believe how lovely Satine looks. I'm a sucker for a good doll rescue story. She looks brand new to me in that picture. Also, the match between Olivia's hair and the ponytail holder is excellent--she look like she has long hair.

      What's fascinating to me is the face molds on these dolls. It is very hard to get information on them and there have been a lot of different faces over the years. I don't think I recognize either of the faces on your two dolls from my recent website extravaganza. Maybe Olive's face is familiar?? I think they both have wonderful faces and I like Satine's face especially.

      I'm so glad you mentioned infant clothing--I think of it automatically with some of my larger dolls, but with the My Twinns, since I was in more of an American Girl mindset, it hadn't even occurred to me! A newborn cardigan would be adorable on Hazel and would help cover her neck. I like the idea of scarves, too. The scarf in the Falling Leaves outfit is really nice to have.

      Thank you so much for your great input--I was just thinking I wanted to see more pictures of the older dolls, and...voila! You have a great one--and a great story to go with it! :D

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  4. Oh, I forgot to mention how in love with the toddler dolls I am. It's a line they no longer make but I let this one: http://item.mobileweb.ebay.com/viewitem?itemId=290859920836&index=14&nav=WATCHING&nid=44041583104
    slip out of my hands a bit back. I've been on the look out for one as cute as her ever since.

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    1. Oh--I remember those! That one is especially cute, I agree. Looks like the cloth and vinyl meet at the elbow on the toddlers, which is great. I hope you find another special one!

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  5. Prior to this Blog entry, I've never given My Twinn dolls even a "first thought" much less a "second thought", LOL! But I had to go and look -- I'm especially interested in the Adopt a Friend dolls, the variety of combinations leads to dolls that look noticeably different even with a limited number of facial expressions/shapes. And now I want one! However, they are *not* on sale right now ... wonder how often they do their sales ....

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    1. There is definitely something enticing about those Adopt a Friends! They are dangerous! I think you put your finger on it--it's really amazing to be able to see some of the different combinations in real life (even if those pictures are small). From my web hunting, and seeing sales announced on other blogs, it seems like they have that big sale at least once a year. However, the promotions change every week, so it might be worth checking in every now and then, just in case.

      I was surprised that I enjoyed looking at and selecting my "orphans" much more than I enjoyed designing a custom doll on the My BFF builder. All those cute faces!!!

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  6. ummm.. i went on the website and found one that looks a little like miss piggy.

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    1. Oh--you have to share! Which one?? :P

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  7. Your Hazel really looks like Lucy from Narnia!

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    1. You're right! I hadn't noticed that! I wish Hazel had Georgie Henley's adorable smile! :)

      http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/32900000/15-Pictures-of-Lucy-Pevensie-and-Mr-Tumnus-the-chronicles-of-narnia-32956428-1920-816.jpg

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  8. thank you for doing this i have been ighting myself over the twinn dolls and now know what my opinion in them is permanent. but i would liek to tell you about the american girl dolls, go on amazon alot less expensive. trust me i used to work for americn girl, i know all of thier little tricks. the packaging is great just two little rubber bands for the neck and legs. nice and neat. geat quality but the price is much to high. also ont get red head the hair color tends to frazzle. and with an american girl use water on thier hair and then brush with a wire brush.

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    1. Hi Johanna! I don't know you could buy American Girls dolls on Amazon, but you're right! They have Rebecca there right now. She is more expensive at the moment, though, even with the free shipping ($122.95 from AG and $158.99 on Amazon). I'll keep an eye out, though. Maybe different deals come up?

      It's neat that you used to work for American Girl! I bet you have some great stories to tell. The insider tips are good to know. I am always drawn to the red haired dolls, but this gives me another reason to think that maybe Rebecca and Josefina are better choices for me. Thank you! :)

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  9. You should check out A Girl For All Time. I love American Girl but it would be neat to see what you thought of their articulation.

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    1. I have been eyeing those, Mandi. They look beautiful--especially their clothes. I seem to always fall just short of purchasing an American Girl doll. They are so popular and well-known, I tend to get seduced away from them by the lesser-known brands...just because of my curiosity. Also, there are so many outstanding American Girl blogs and references, I'm not sure the world needs another AG review. ;) Girl for All Time might be a better choice for my next large play doll purchase.

      I am really glad you reminded me about these dolls. I tend to be totally scatterbrained about the dolls I want to review. :) Thank you!!

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  10. Oh how I just love Hazel! She's such a cutie! Gahh, I want one now lol

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    1. Thank you, Sunny! I'm sorry I made you want one...after the sale is over! Ack! I need to get my facebook page back up and running so I can post tips about things like this before its too late.
      Hazel was a really lucky purchase, though. Amazing for that price.

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  11. Emily - I absolutely loved your review of My Twinn and really agree with you on the construction and proportion of their bodies! I have an Adopt-a-Friend that My Twinn sent us to review a few years ago - http://dolldiaries.com/my-twinn-friend-doll-review/ - while I really like her hair and face, her body is a major distraction for me. I need to buy her some new clothes I think.

    Here's my two cents - wait until the newest A Girl for All Time, Clementine, comes out this fall. First of off - I have seen her in person - dressed her up - held her in my own hands - and she is STUNNING. She has RED hair and is from WWII England. Her meet dress is divine. While I really like Matilda and Amelia - I LOVE Clementine.

    Another affordable 18" line you might like are Journey Girls - you can find them at Toys R Us. I have Kyla and her face is beautiful. Keep an eye out on eBay for an American Girl doll to "rescue" - or try the Goodwill auction site, too.

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    1. Hi Char! That is excellent advice--Clementine sounds like she is definitely worth waiting for, and that gives me some time to save up. I am so glad you posted! I probably would have ordered Amelia and then kicked myself in the fall. THANK YOU!!

      I have looked at the Journey Girls a lot. There was a great sale a while ago, and there's this one cutie with reddish hair and green eyes (Kelsey?) who keeps tempting me. The price is right on those dolls, and I find them much more appealing (at least in the box) than some of the other less expensive 18" dolls like Springfield or Our Generation.

      Thank you so much for your input--I love your blog and was reading all of your My Twinn entries last week. :)

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  12. i love your carpantina doll. soooooooo pretty. oh and you have to get Saige. I got her and she is amazing. But if u get her DON"T brush her hair. (Or get a hair pick) Her hair'll get frizzy on the ends.

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    1. Ah! I know. Saige looks so great, but how will I be able to resist brushing her hair?? It surprises me that brushing makes it frizzy. Is that true for a lot of the AGs, or just the redheads?

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    2. when you take her hair out of the braid, its curly (Not Super curly though) if you want to brush her hair out, you can, but i would buy the pick with it, because the pick is designed for curly doll hair. and its not true for the straight hair dolls. they have the most manageable hair. the curly haired dolls are more forr careful hands. :)

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  13. Emily, when you get your FB up and running again let us know! I find it easier to communicate on there or Flickr.

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    1. Will do. Sorry I am so hopeless with that. I dropped it last semester when my teaching load was insane, and I haven't recovered yet. I will! :)

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  14. What a fun review, Emily! You made me laugh a couple of times ^^
    I must say that I'm not a collector of large scale dolls. Kalliope looks very special but in some pictures she looked so much like a real child that it freaked me out a bit. I'm sorry about the imperfections of the doll like her sculpt (you must've had fun making this review as a biology teacher) and her hair. Hazel looks better to me from that aspect.
    I think the body is weird and I also would've been bothered by Kalliope's long arms.
    I think the find the matching dolls game was really clever of you. Of all the dolls I like every Adopt a Friend doll better than the similar Vintage Collector doll. I think the price differences are crazy, even if the Vintage Collector dolls are worth it because of their discontinued parts.
    Even though I don't collect these kinds of dolls, it was still very fun to read for me!

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  15. Hi Emily,

    This review was really fun to read. I have a very old My Twinn that was made to look like me when I was little. She has a white cloth body, and I don't think her arms are as long as your dolls'. The weird arm articulation didn't bother me when I was little, but now that you mention it, it is kind of strange. :)

    On the subject of AG doll hair, AG has some really cute videos on how to care for their dolls' hair here if you'd like more information:
    http://store.americangirl.com/agshop/static/hairskincare.jsp

    The "picking" video has directions for loose curls, like Saige's, if you're still interested in her or another curly-haired doll.

    I can't say that I've ever heard of particular colors being more frizz-prone than others, but certain texures (like curls) can be more tangle/mess-prone. That doesn't mean that they're a recipe for disaster, though. It just means that they need a little more patience and TLC than dolls with straight or wavy hair, which is why they're better for older girls or collectors.

    Thank you for another fun review, and I look forward to your next one!

    --Anonymous :)

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  16. I think this company need to hire a photographer to improve their photos.

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  17. I have 9 My Twinns - 1 custom, 2 BFF, 3 Adopt-a-Friend, and 3 Vintage Collector dolls. All of mine are perfect, but I've been lucky. First, I studied up on retired facemolds, the history of My Twinn, what "defects" are present in the doll's components, and learned to avoid signs of the China and late Virginia periods. I am very blessed to have come across a rare and retired Madalene mold, a #03 Helen with rare eyes, and a beautiful Denika with white blond braids, violet eyes, white lashes, and artist brows. My Adopt-a-Friends are 2 Denver hybrids, a #04 Allison (skin tone discontinued so I knew she was Denver) and a Madison with pierced ears that stunned me. Then I fell across a new Virginia doll called Cai and paid full price because her hair was white blond and she had blue eyes and beauty marks and pierced ears. My two BFF dolls came in as pictured with beautiful silky wigs. The color is called medium red and is done in long-back curls. The trick is to do nothing. I hold it back with bobby pins and use a MT brand pick. the custom doll is a portrait doll and is lovely. My tips are: study and learn facemolds. First look at the eyes: many are wonky! Blow pictures up, save them, sharpen and soften edges, make sure pupils are set evenly. Some of my dolls looked horrible in their "mugshots" - my Allison had frizzy hair and came in with ginger brown curls so thick I almost fainted (again, I never touch curly hair and display her standing), hybrid Denver heads have a porcelain-like appearance, shiny-toned dolls are from the China era. Avoid! Westport can work with wonky eyes. They do enhancements and restorations. You're always queasy when you adopt from either part from the site, always buy on sale, you never know quite what to expect but if you research the company timeline, you'll know the signs to look for or avoid in buying the perfect doll. I think yours are just lovely and very lifelike. Enjoy them!

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  18. Me again, just firmed up a sale on my 10th Twinn, a Whitney mold from Ebay. She's on her way now and I am experienced and scared to death. I hope she's really Whitney, I can usually identify all 44 face molds. I LOVED your review and everything you say is accurate. These pages need larger photos, profile shots, guaranteed current clothing, back shots, mold reference name, and what the imperfection is. I call the pics postage stamps or mugshots, Your review caused me to curiously undress my Allison and Madison dolls and while their arms stop thigh-length, it is harder to get the torso and arms in a natural position then the legs and waist, I sacrifice this for the armature. I have Karito Kid Zoe and she looks great with them. Anyway, Kalli was my fave of the 2. Denika molds are very lifelike and her coloring is really beautiful. Hazel just needed a wardrobe change. I have Falling Leaves too. And one of my Vintage girls is overstuffed in the chest so she looks kind of arrogant and teeenager-ish because of her posture and profile. She has fabric bunched at the neck too. Wait for a Vintage sale, maybe around Mother's Day, some go down to $75, sweet deal. Great review. ;-)

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  19. More on the Twinns: My Whitney turned out to be a Vanessa, a far more common mold with 80s wild curly hair. We love her! Her ankle joint is loose and will need to be glued, but that happens with the older bodies. Vintage girls usually have paperweight glass eyes from the Denver "Golden Age" vendors, some have better hair, and some are super crazy, as you plainly pictured. Denver heads sometimes have lashes that still match their hair (like my blond Denika has white lashes, but my Adopt-a-Friend Cai Virginia platinum doll has black lashes. Hmmm.) My Ebay Vanessa has wonderful chocolate brown lashes that match her huge curls and her skintone is nice and dark, a retired #4 so she can represent any nationality. I love her ears because they are huge! It's fun to have dolls that look so much like kids. My Adopt-A-Friend Allison has replaced eyes, another dark-skinned #4, in ice blue! Yikes! I am sending her out for a nice deep brown like your Kalli doll. I love reading your reviews, the one on Wan Ling was fabulous. I have World Edition Two and there are BIG differences in quality. Hearts4Hearts Lauryce and an Ellowyne are on my list, but my fave Ello girl, "Plaid to Meet You" just sold out. Tonner dolls are amazing.

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  20. Loved reading your review, you point out many of the same joys and irritants that longtime fans/addicts/collectors have with the dolls and the company. the LogansLadies site is a great reference, glad you found it. There is a FB group, MyTwinnCollectors, which has some more pics and chat if anyone is interested, and a yahoo group as well (ourtwinnsandmore)

    I think the reason for the lack of elbow joint is to allow the doll to wear a variety of sleeve lenghts without the body fabric showing. it does affect posing but they are better posing than dolls with vinyl up to the shoulder, JMHO.

    There were several sculptors making head prototypes for the line, the issues with Kalliope's chin i believe were intentional (she reminds me of Reese Witherspoon). MT runs 18 or 19 molds now so it is harder to match a child compared to when they had over 40 of them to pick from. The eyes from the Denver era (ie the first company) are, as anonymous said, the 'paperweight' or domed cornea eyes, and that makes the irises much more realistic (In fact the brand name was Glastic or Realistic eyes).

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  21. I have 60 My Twinn dolls. At one time they made maybe 52 face molds. American Girl dolls all look the same (or maybe they have changed). Anyway, beware. My Twinn dolls are very addictive, despite their defects. Cheryl

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  22. Just a quick note -- I hope anyone interested in getting a My Twinn will see this: right now, the Adopt a Twinn dolls are on sale on the My Twinn site for $49.00. This is just until April 8th, so hurry if you want one!!

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  23. True about wacky pricing . . . I found a "Beth" mold on Adopt-a-Friend, she's a gorgeous re-pour with the same coloring as your Kalli. As I write this, I found my mom's TWINN - spot-on - so scary a resemblance I bought her on the spot for $59.00 and last week she was $200 - Huh???????

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  24. If you really don't like your my twinned hair they are easy to re wig at home. Use a spoon to ease off the old wig. Buy a new Monique brand modacrylic wig usually size 14 to 15 inch and they run about $24. We put the new one on with tacky glue. My daughter cut her dolls hair which came the wrong Colorado and we replaced it ourselves a few months ago and she is her favorite again. I just picked another one for her up at Goodwill today for $3.50 at the 50% off sale.

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    1. Sorry if this sounds rude but Colorado? Did you mean to type color?

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  25. Adorable faces but I'm not too fond of the cloth arms and legs. They should have been full vinyl or at least plastic

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  26. My Twinn dolls are way cuter now that I got a deeper look into them. American girl dolls are always my all time favorite doll brand, but My Twinn dolls look adorable! But their prices are horribly high. I would want to wait till they are on sale. Or get an adopt a friend doll. But I have a couple questions. How do my Twinn dolls look in really short shorts such as The style of Mckenna's practice wardrobe shorts from American Girl? I bet they look horrible because of their cloth. And, Are adopt a friend dolls factory mess up dolls, and preowned dolls? Just wondering. I also LOVE how well they pose!

    -Makenzie

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  27. Adopt-a-Friend dolls can be artist training dolls or dolls with defects. To be really careful, it's important to do your homework. A custom doll plunked onto the Adopt-a-Friend page is likely to be perfection. Usually, you can tell this by the mold. I found Cai (Asian girl), Beth, and an Allison. All are custom because they are hard-to-find molds and all are perfect. But, Allison has the most beautiful hair in my collection of over 15 Twinns with pierced ears and glass eyes. My Twinn may have been in error. Familiar faces like Madison and Kissy Kate need to be studied. Factory mess up dolls is a good way to put it and custom dolls are pre-owned and the kid didn't like her. I stick to the Vintage page - when it's on sale. My Twinns from that site were $300 and would sale for $80 bucks. I had to check the website 3-5 times a day. The crazy looking girl up top is a Clementine against a Danielle. Big Denver difference, but she's still a mess. Period. Now My Twinn has discontinued these stunning girls in favor of 18" playmate dolls. The molds are shrunken down and less detailed, many have been retired. The ankle joint? Gone. They're made exactly like AG. For us Face-chasers, I think My Twinn has been handed over to the kids now which was how it was intended. My last girl was a rarity, a real gem named Beatriz and it took me 10 years to find her. Thanks, Ebay. My days have collecting are over. But, I think a lot of people will like these new ones.

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  28. Check out our super cute beds & bunk beds for your My Twinn Dolls and My BFF Dolls - mother & daughter (and toddler) teamed up to build, sew, and create the cutest beds! http://www.girldollbeds.com !!

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  29. What a fantastic review! It sounds like we had pretty much the same experience of lurking on the website for an entire weekend and then buying multiple Friends on sale. Quick tip if you ever do that again, zoom in on the page with all of the tiny photos because you can see them a lot better.

    My website stalking weekend happened about a year and a half ago. There were two face molds I was after and I ended up buying 3 dolls. 2 had the same face mold, but the photos were awful and the skin/eye/hair color was not noted for either of them, and I just couldn't decide. Once the 3 arrived, I quickly chose which of the similar dolls I wanted and sold the duplicate.

    My dolls have flaws, too. One of them has a dry wig that has some glue in it. Her wig consists of curly pig tails and I haven't dared to take them down! I got the curls looking pretty good, though. After much contemplation, I ended up just cutting off the T-shirt she was wearing because it was so tight and I'd spent a lot of time fixing her hair! Why don't they put velcro on the shirts?! The other doll ended up having limbs that were a very different shade from her head. Her head is the fairest shade they make and her limbs were 2 shades darker. This was not visible in the stock photos. One of her eyes is also very scratched up, but they're a unique shade that I didn't see on any of the other dolls. Wig is pretty nice, though, and she has adorable freckles that were not visible in the terrible company photo.

    The doll that I sold was honestly the best of the lot in terms of wig, eyes, and everything else, but she didn't have as much personality as the other one. All of them have some scratches and rubs.

    I want to point out that the "crazy looking" $249 doll is still on the website a year later! Wonder how long she was there before you came across her. How does that not indicate that it's time to lower her price?

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  30. Hi there! This was a wonderful review, and some of the comments an education in themselves. I used to haunt the MyTwinn website last year as well, and decided part of what's wrong is the outfits--they do nothing for the dolls, so I bought some and sewed different outfits for them, to see if that would make as much of a difference as I thought. Since I can't keep them all, they're now for sale on Etsy (and yes, I got really hooked.) Since they're discontinuing the 23 inch dolls, my husband is happy now--I'll have to quit when they (and I) run out of decent-looking dolls. But oh the fun it is to take a pretty doll, or even a plain one, and see what you can make of it with an imaginative outfit! I'm not that great at it, but it's been a wonderful experience. (If you're curious, just to see some cute dolls and dresses, and don't ask me about face molds, because I'm an ignoramus on that score, you can find it under SewUniqueDolls.)

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  31. I had 26 Twinns, and they were beautiful, some of the face mold permutations are amazing and with a bit of work you can end up with a fantastic doll. I have a custom Audrey which was probably amongst the last to leave the factory in 2004, she is gorgeous, although her wig does leave me exasperated. I had to dispose of most of my girls, leaving me with only 4. I miss them a lot because each one was an individual. I never noticed the arm length issue, I always thought they should have made the doll a bit taller and corrected the proportions. Be wary though, if the Twinns get hold of your credit card they start buying each other and when you look there are hordes of them. Mine were quite a mischievous mob and I had a lot of fun playing with them, after all they are really play dolls.

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