The next group of dolls I will look at are the Hattitude basic dolls. These dolls are wearing animal hats and have a single ponytail in back, rather than the two side ponytails that all other current Cuties wear. These dolls come with fewer accessories that the Crown Cuties or the Fashion Pup dolls, but they only cost $9.99.
There are three Hattitude characters to choose from, Sydney (red and orange hair), Bianca (black and white hair) and Dakota (brown and yellow hair). I originally wanted to review Sydney because of her red hair, but she was the hardest to find in the stores. I was happy to find Dakota, though, because I think her brown fuzzy bear hat is the best of the bunch, and she has nice brown eyes:
|Cutie Pops Hattitude "Dakota."|
While the Crown Cuties are clearly appealing to the same audience as many of the princess-themed dolls on the shelves right now (La Dee Da Fairytale Dance, Ever After High, Fairy Tale High...), the Hattitude dolls are more in the Kawaii fashion niche (see Kawaii Crush). These dolls have the popular animal hats, and are also decorated with "pops" that have Kawaii-style themes like smiling clouds and animal faces.
Dakota's box is very similar to Crystalina's box, but it is about half the size and only has one separately attached accessory (the ponytail):
The back of the box has a fairly simple design. There isn't a complicated hairstyling procedure to describe like there was with the Crown Cuties, so the box simply displays the other dolls in this series. I think Sydney looks bad in her picture:
Her lips look like they've had collagen injections, and the brown edges to her eyes give her a buggy, raccoon stare. I wouldn't have bought her based on that picture, but I did eventually find her in a store, and she looks better in real life:
Back to Dakota--she is attached to a blue cardboard backdrop that slides out of the main box. She is arranged with her legs crossed and her hand in the air (that pose reminds me of another doll line...), demonstrating the small pockets in the sides of the hat:
|Excuse me, could I go use the bathroom?|
There are raised cardboard circles advertising Dakota's features:
The box claims that her single ponytail gives her "two great looks." I guess that's true if you only use the ponytail and ignore the hat, but with the hat, I count four possible looks for this doll:
1. With hat, without ponytail
2. With hat, with ponytail
3. Without hat, without ponytail
4. Without hat, with ponytail
In any case, it's far fewer looks than Crystalina's "endless" options, and not a very impressive list for a Cutie Pop.
The box also features Dakota's removable pop decorations. She has three pops--one of them is a brown bear (a teddy bear) that matches the style of her hat.
Dakota also has a yellow anime bear decal on the front of her dress:
And here's everything that was in the box--Dakota and her ponytail:
As soon as I removed Dakota from that backdrop, I got an unpleasant surprise. The hat is not a full hat. It's a strange half-hat, held to the top of the doll's head with a small clear plastic attachment:
The plastic attachment is removable (thank goodness), and leaves behind a transparent rubber loop:
The small plastic thing is actually just the base piece from a normal ponytail, but it's molded in clear plastic and doesn't have any hair attached. You could still attach a Cutie Pops bow to it, though:
Dakota doesn't come with her own bow, but if she did, this little plastic piece would add two more possible looks:
5. With hat, with bow
6. Without hat, with bow
Here's Dakota modeling one of these options with Candi's bow. I think the clear plastic attachment makes it look like the bow is floating:
|A magical levitating bow!|
The regular ponytail fits through the rubber loop on the hat and attaches to the doll's head with a heart-shaped peg. The loop feature on the hat is frustrating, though, because the loop is too small for the base of the ponytail to easily slide through. I would just jam the ponytail down over the loop any which way (this method makes the ponytail attachment less secure) or simply push the loop to the side and not use it at all. It's way too fiddly.
I am left feeling lukewarm about the "hat" design as a whole. I would so much rather have a full hat with a single hole in the top to accommodate the ponytail.
I think Dakota looks great from the front:
But from the back or the side, the strange combination of half-hat, painted hair, and long ponytail is a bit too disjointed for my taste:
|Behind the scenes.|
She looks like she's unfinished or something--a prop that isn't meant to be viewed from all angles.
And from the back...it looks like she's wearing a party mask, or being swallowed by a fuzzy monster with tentacle arms:
I'll stick with the adorable front view:
The hat is held on by that clear rubber loop that attaches to the ponytail, and also by a rubbery strap that fits behind the doll's head:
The hat is lined and made out of great fabrics. I especially like the light brown fur that frames Dakota's face and makes the fuzzy ears. I also like the small blue bow on the right ear:
The sides of the hat have black felt claws and little pockets:
Here's Dakota without her hat. I really like the look of the single ponytail:
I am not quite as excited about the stripes in Dakota's bangs. This pattern is not continued in the back of her hair, and so I find that it looks out-of-place, and perpetuates the unfinished appearance that this doll has when she's viewed from the back.
|The stripes don't match her ponytail.|
If the yellow stripes are meant to be stripes (to match her dress?), then I guess they look how they're supposed to look. However, if they're meant to be more natural-looking highlights, then they're nowhere near as nicely done as Crystalina's highlights.
The detachable ponytail is very thick and soft. It more than lives up to the great reputation of Cutie Pops hair. It has a pretty mix of natural brown colors, although the colors don't match the painted hair very well:
The plastic base of the ponytail has an attachment site for a bow:
The pops from Dakota's dress don't fit directly onto the ponytail base, which is why I feel like Dakota should have come with her own bow. Otherwise, there's nowhere to put the pops except in the dress, which limits the customization fun of this doll.
With the help of a borrowed bow, the pops can be used in Dakota's hair:
So, again, if Dakota came with her own bow for her pops, she'd have still more possible looks:
7. With hat, with hair, with bow, with pop
8. With hat, with hair, with bow, no pop
9. With hat, no hair, with bow, with pop
10. Without hat, with hair, with bow, with pop
11. Without hat, with hair, with bow, no pop
12. Without hat, no hair, with bow, with pop
Did I miss any combinations? My point is, if Dakota had come with her own bow, the options for styling her hair would increase from four to at least twelve. The power of one little bow.
I like how the Cutie Pops all have subtle heart-shaped blush patches on their cheeks:
Like Crystalina, Dakota's brown eyes are much more naturally colored than previous Cutie Pop eyes. She doesn't have large shapes or rainbow colors in her irises. She also has very simply-painted blue heart eyelashes.
Underneath the eye pops, Dakota has blue eyes, not brown. Huh.
The lips on this doll seem more full than the lips on my other Cutie Pop dolls. Look at the upper lip in particular:
Dakota's face mold is the same as the older Cutie Pops, it's just that more of the lip area is painted.
I really like Dakota's head for the most part. The single ponytail is great, and her eyes are fabulous. I am tempted to paint over the yellow stripes in her bangs...or at least try to tone them down to a more natural light brown color to match her ponytail.
Dakota is wearing a simple orange and white striped jersey knit dress with royal blue sleeves. She has a yellow bear iron-on at the top of her dress, and three plastic pops on her skirt:
The pops are definitely Kawaii style:
I think all Cutie Pops have cardboard tacked under their skirt to support the pops.
Here's the dress with the pops and the cardboard removed.
I love the simple style of this dress. It is basically a tee shirt cut, but it has a neat diagonal seam across the front of the skirt. It closes with velcro in the back:
Dakota is wearing long blue boots. These are the first Cutie Pop boots I have ever seen, and they look nice. However, what stole my attention away from the boots was the fact that this doll's knee articulation is even worse than Crystalina's. She can't bend her right knee at all, but what's worse is that her knee won't straighten fully, either. It's stuck in the middle, making the legs irreparably crooked.
|The boots are to cover my legs, don't you see?|
The boots are not as nice when you look at them up close. They're made out of a bendable plastic and have gaping long slits in back to make it possible to get them on and off. They're still hard to get on and off.
They have white painted laces and Converse-style soles:
The paint isn't very carefully applied, especially at the top:
Dakota has the same body other Cutie Pops. Her legs are really bad, though. These dolls are meant to be slightly pigeon-toed, but Dakota takes that to a whole new level. This is as straight as I can get her feet:
This is a more typical leg position for her:
Let me go back to focusing on Dakota's good attributes--like her soft hair and her cute face:
Even though Dakota only has a single ponytail, this ponytail is interchangeable with other Cutie Pops' hair. Here she is wearing one of Candi's curly ponytails:
Candi can also wear Dakota's hair:
Speaking of Candi, one of the reasons why I was so excited about Dakota's nice brown eyes is that Candi's kaleidoscope eyes have been driving me crazy. They're so over-the-top with their rainbow irises and glittery lollipop reflections, that I find it difficult to relate to Candi when she's wearing these eyes.
Even with the gaping holes, I prefer Candi with her eye pops removed and her plain brown irises showing:
Look at how much better she looks with Dakota's normal eyes. The new eyes transform her from space cadet to coy cutie:
She can actually look at the camera now!
Here's Candi modeling with her new eyes. Trying out some mismatched ponytails:
And back in her normal hair:
As a bit of an aside, I find it fascinating when certain themes crop up in several different toy lines all at the same time. For example, I have noticed a lot of animal hats in the aisles lately. Not only do the Kawaii Crush miniatures have little rubbery animal hats, but the My Life As Madame Alexander line has released cute little animal hats that can be purchased for $3.88 at Walmart. I love these hats and the price is great. The hats I chose fit My American Girl Keira (I wish they came down more in back and on the sides, though):
The hats also fit some of my slim 18"girls, although the stuffed panda head looks quite large on Carpatina Erin:
And here's my favorite My Life As hat:
|Hattitude Dakota, Kawaii Crush Katy Cat Meow Meow, and|
Carpatina Erin modeling My Life As owl hat.
Here are some pictures of Dakota wearing Candi's close-eyed pops. I think the rainbow stripes go well with her dress and hair:
The animal hat, meant to be the main attraction of this line, is only a half-hat. It frames the doll's face beautifully and looks great from the front (and in the box). However, the hat actually stops abruptly at the top of the doll's head and has to be held in place with two cheap, meddlesome bands. The clear loop on the very top of the hat is especially frustrating, and I'll probably resort to cutting it off at some point. I don't understand why this doll wasn't given a full hat with a single hole in the top to accommodate the ponytail. This hat feels like a cop-out and gives the doll a misleading two-dimensional facade.
The Cutie Pops knee articulation is starting to alarm me. I have had three bad experiences in a row. I rarely see a brand of doll with a pervasive error this glaring. The knee joints simply don't seem to work half of the time, and even if you can eventually get the knees to bend without breaking them, the legs remain stiff, warped and unsightly. It's a mess.
My last criticism seems minor at first: Dakota doesn't come with her own hair bow. This might be an insignificant detail with any other brand of doll, but the hair bows are a big deal to the Cutie Pops. Not only do I enjoy having bows that match my Cutie Pops' outfits, but these seemingly simple accessories hide the large plastic ponytail bases and add a lot of customization opportunities. The bows are the only way to attach the decorative pops to the doll's hair. Without that option, the pops can only be re-arranged on the dress, which provides limited fun. Furthermore, the clear ponytail base that is used as part of this doll's packaging offers an unexpected (unintentional?) new style involving just a hair bow and no ponytail...but only if you have a hair bow. Sure, it's possible to share hair bows around between Cutie Pop dolls, but if this is your only Cutie Pop, or if you like having all of your Cuties dressed in hair bows, the omission of a bow with this doll could be disappointing.
Despite my apprehension about the single ponytail, I actually count this among my favorite of Dakota's features. She looks great with this new hairstyle, and I'm glad that this variation has been added to the Cutie Pops mix. On top of that, the quality of the ponytail is fantastic. The hair is thick, silky, and has a beautiful mix of colors. Another thing I love about Dakota is her dress. The simple design is flattering and easy to play with, and the bright colors and fun pops make the whole outfit funky and eye-catching. The teddy bear and rainbow pops, in particular, are wonderful.
I'll end by re-iterating how much I enjoy Dakota's eyes. I am so happy to see that the newest Cutie Pops all have relatively normal eyes. The dolls are so much more engaging with this style of eye. The only problem with the eyes is that I don't have enough of them to go around. Dakota's brown eyes bring my beloved Candi doll to life, but if Candi wears those eyes, Dakota is left with the vacant lollipop stare. I hope Jada Toys releases some new accessory packs with more of these awesome eyes.
So, I am a little disappointed with this doll. I don't dislike her--I mean, how could I dislike a doll that looks this cute from the front? It's just that she isn't as great as I hoped she'd be. In fact, it's probably because she looks so great in her box that I find her hidden flaws so disheartening. Still, I'd have paid good money for Dakota's eyes and dress alone, so for ten bucks, I am content.