I purchased my Maru and Friends doll almost a year ago and she has been waiting all of this time for her review. I was tempted by all of the Maru and Friends characters, especially Maru herself, but I ended up (predictably) choosing the redheaded, blue-eyed Savannah:
|Maru and Friends® doll, "Savannah"|
The Maru and Friends logo includes an adorable little ladybug:
The back of the box is also bright orange and is decorated with a mix of flowers and ladybugs:
|It's just a happy box.|
|I have not seen any matching apparel for young girls on the website. Maybe at the mall store?|
Maru and Friends dolls are sculpted by the famous doll artist Dianna Effner. Ms. Effner is known for her heart-tuggingly realistic vinyl and porcelain child dolls. Effner dolls have the most beautiful, three dimensional painted eyes I have ever seen; they look like glass eyes. I am a huge fan of Ms. Effner's work, and am currently waiting for one of her custom 13" studio vinyl dolls. These dolls are in such high demand that it can take up to a year for orders to be fulfilled. I know it will be worth the wait.
My Savannah had a bunch of goodies packed into the bottom of her box. Many of these things come with every doll, but I also ordered an extra sweater set that was packed with my doll.
The Maru doll is unique in that she comes with a hardcover book called The Forever Friends that describes the young girl's adventures in America. Savannah does not come with a book.
Stored on one side of the box were a two-sided postcard and a small business card thanking me for my purchase:
The postcard has a photograph of all of the Maru characters dressed in ballet outfits. These outfits are available for separate purchase ($39-$47):
The flip side of the postcard has smaller portraits of each doll wearing her meet outfit:
On the other side of the box, I found a certificate of authenticity and my sweater set package:
The sweater came wrapped up like a cheeseburger:
|Now I'm hungry.|
I love the colors in this set. When I purchased Savannah, I figured that I would be reviewing her in the fall and these colors would be perfect. The mix of yellow, orange and green is not quite as appropriate for this time of the year, but it's still gorgeous:
This limited edition, hand-knit, mohair sweater set cost me $23.99 last August. Right now, a few of the sweater sets are still available, but they come with leggings and boots and cost $39.99.
The mix of yarn texture and color is wonderful. The yarn at the bottom of the sweater has tiny little pom-poms attached to it:
|It can't be easy to knit with these!|
The sweater has a slit over one shoulder that closes with a single button. This makes it easier to get the sweater on over the doll's head:
Savannah will model this sweater set later, but for now let's look at her as she came:
Savannah's outfit consists of a shirt and shorts set with gingham accents. It reminds me a little of My Salon Doll Sydni's outfit. She also comes with a brown over-the-shoulder bag and has matching brown shoes.
In the box, Savannah's face and hair were covered with a fine hairnet. Her wide-brimmed safari hat was tied on over the hairnet, keeping everything nicely in place:
I removed the hat and the hairnet:
The hat is made out of a medium weight light khaki canvas:
The hat has wonderful details, like the matching hat band and the stitched rows around the brim:
The inside of the hat has a satiny beige lining:
Savannah has a beautiful red wig. Her shoulder length hair has feathery, layered ends. Her bangs are nicely done--thick and full, but without a harsh blunt-cut edge:
The hair fiber feels amazing and is very easy to manage. It is silky and smooth with texture just like 18" My Twinn Annie, American Girl Keira, and all of my Karito Kids.
The wig is plenty thick, but also has some shorter strands of hair near the cap in order to conceal some of the stitching:
Savannah's satchel-style bag is made out of a rich brown imitation leather:
The body of the bag is circular, and it has a zippered opening with an overlaying velcro tab:
The grid line stitching pattern that is visible on the outside of the bag also makes a nice checkered pattern against the white interior:
The bag is very nicely made and seems sturdy and functional.
Savannah has a beautiful face with a sweet, neutral expression. Her proportions are realistic and I can see Dianna Effner's style in her features--especially in her expressive, impish mouth:
I love the combination of her bright red hair, pale freckled face, and soft, realistic blue eyes. My doll has slightly misaligned eyes, which is more noticeable in some positions than in others.
The eyes themselves are a beautiful color with black-rimmed irises and tiny flecks of brown. They look like glass paperweight eyes, but they are actually made out of plastic. The freckles are nowhere near as realistic as my two Paola Reina dolls' freckles, but they are cute and subtle.
The eyes are framed by black applied lashes on top and delicately painted lashes on the bottom. The eyebrows are light brown and have a nice mix of well-defined brush strokes with some finer details added in:
The style of Savannah's outfit is not my personal taste (I have never liked gingham--too much of it when I was a kid, perhaps?), but I find these clothes beautiful anyway because of how meticulously they are constructed. The outfit consists of a short-sleeved camp shirt and belted shorts.
The green gingham sleeves are perfectly micro-gathered and have a nice, uniform puff all around. The gingham also appears in the collar of the shirt and at the edge of the two breast pockets. Each pocket also has a central pleat that is lined with green.
The shirt has four buttons, but these are decorative. There's a long strip of velcro that actually holds the shirt closed:
Underneath the shirt, Savannah is wearing a white cotton jersey tank top:
The shorts have green gingham cuffs and are held up with a pink gingham belt. I like the contrast that the pink provides. The front pockets are highly detailed and actually open, but the two back pockets are just for decoration. My doll's shorts came out of the box scrunched off to one side, and you can see that they suffer from a few creases in front because of this:
The belt has a working buckle and is lined with pink satin. I'm pretty sure that this is the nicest, most sturdily constructed doll belt I have ever seen.
One of the short pockets is pleated to match the pockets on the shirt, the other is a traditional patch pocket with a gingham lining:
The waistband of the shorts is lined with cream satin:
Under the shorts, Savannah has white cotton panties that match her tank top. These undergarments are also well made:
Savannah is wearing knee-high knit socks and imitation leather hiking boots. The socks have pink pom-pom tassels that match the gingham belt:
The hiking boots are sturdy and solid, with thick soles and stiff edges. These shoes help Savannah stand very nicely on her own.
The boots have a separate tongue and actually lace up in front:
The quilted pattern in the soft cuff of the boots matches the pattern on Savannah's bag:
The lace holes are not reinforced with eyelets, and so one of the holes is starting to tear:
The boots are not lined and have a plain white interior:
The soles are made out of black plastic (vinyl?) and have tread indentations along the sides:
Savannah has an all-vinyl body that is strung with elastic. My doll is very well-strung and hold poses perfectly. She also balances well, even in her bare feet. The vinyl is heavy and smooth and has a beautiful color that my silly camera might not capture very well. She has five points of articulation:
I love getting a doll with a completely new shape, and Savannah is definitely one of those dolls. She has long, slender limbs, sloping shoulders and a healthy little belly and hips:
Savannah's neck joint moves really well, and she can hold her head in almost any position, but the rounded end of her neck joint can stick out and look awkward in some positions:
Dianna Effner's signature was sculpted into the doll's back:
Savannah has delicate hands and feet:
I think the shape of her feet is especially realistic:
Here is one of Savannah's feet next to an American Girl foot so that you can see the size and shape difference:
What's interesting is that Savannah balances so well on her own despite these petite feet.
Savannah's partially bent arms and highly mobile neck add a lot of expressiveness to her small range of poses:
Because Savannah has a different shape from the other 18" play dolls I own, there were a lot of comparisons I wanted to make. First, here she is next to an American Girl doll and a Karito Kid:
|Karito Kid "Gia," Maru and Friends "Savannah," My American Girl.|
My American Girl, Keira, has a roughly similar torso size, but Savannah is longer in the waist. Keira has much chunkier limbs, to the point where her hands won't fit through the sleeves of Savannah's shirt.
Here is Savannah next to a Journey Girl and a Carpatina doll:
|Journey Girl "Dana," Maru and Friends "Savannah," Carpatina "Erin."|
I realized that despite her height, Savannah has proportions similar to the slim 18" play dolls, so I gathered a few more of those for comparison. Here is Savannah with my Zwergnase Junior doll and my Girl for All Time doll. They are both quite a bit more petite than Savannah, although the Zwergnase doll is almost as tall:
|Zwergnase Junior doll "Ivanca," Maru and Friends "Savannah," A Girl for All Time "Clementine."|
At first I forgot about poor Evie from Kidz 'n' Cats, so here's another picture of her with Savannah and Clementine.
|Kidz 'n' Cats "Evita," Maru and Friends "Savannah," A Girl for All Time "Clementine."|
Evie is a bit wider than Clementine, but I still don't think skirts and pants could be shared between these two. Tops might be interchangeable because of Evie's broad shoulders.
For fun, I also did a lineup with my Extra Special Doll and My Salon Doll:
|Extra Special Dolls "Grace," Maru and Friends "Savannah," My Salon Doll "Sydni."|
And here is Savannah with two of my Best Friends Club, Ink girls (the older body type on the left and the newer body on the right):
|BFC Ink "Kaitlin" (older body, cut hair), Maru and Friends "Savannah," BFC Ink "Kaitlin" (newer body).|
I'll show you a few things that I found could fit Savannah fairly well. First (not surprisingly) the Karito Kids clothes fit Savannah fine, although Gia's skirt is pretty loose and slides down a lot. Also, the boots are way too big and I just added them to complete the outfit:
|That exposed belly is because the skirt is slipping...|
not because the shirt is too short.
The green mock turtleneck fits well and the color looks great with Savannah's hair:
Many of the bottoms from other doll lines, including these My Salon Doll shorts, are too tight for Savannah:
Some Journey Girl pieces fit, the tops are just slightly short and the bottoms are short and a little tight:
|Again, the shoes are way, way too big.|
This Journey Girl jacket looks good, even with the too-short sleeves:
I was very surprised to see that American Girl clothes fit as well as they do. I figured the tops would be fine, but assumed that the bottoms would be too loose. In fact, Savannah's belly keeps Keira's elasticized grey skirt up nicely, and while the AG Sweet Spring dress is a bit short, it also fits pretty well. American Girl and 18" My Twinn dolls can both wear Savanna's shorts.
The piece of clothing that looks best on Savannah is the gorgeous sweater I purchased with her:
I wanted to get a few pictures of Savannah outside in the natural light, so I put together this outfit for our little adventure:
This is the Karito Kids skirt (with the belt cinched tight...), the Maru and Friends sweater, socks (pom-poms removed because they didn't coordinate) and shoes.
I have to say, it's not such a great time of year for outdoor exploring. All of the snow is melting in our new-found 68 degree weather, but that means that everything is soggy and muddy. I enjoyed some of the contrasts near the woods, though--thick patches of snow paired with areas of completely dry (dead) grass. This mix of landscapes seemed oddly appropriate for a doll who has had to wait through three season changes to get her review.
|It almost looks like fall right here!|
Bottom line? What a charming doll. I think my only criticism of this doll is that she came with slightly wonky eyes. And they're not even that wonky.
The Maru and Friends doll line isn't breaking any new ground. The dolls are equivalent in size to many other play dolls, they are made in China, their price is competitive, and they don't have a special theme or stylized features that make them really stand out from the crowd. What makes these dolls special, I think, is that they quietly do everything really well. The hair is gorgeous and easy to manage, the eyes are bright and realistic, the facial expressions are endearing and versatile, the clothes are incredibly well made, the doll is balanced and sturdy, the vinyl body is nicely shaped and perfectly strung, and the vinyl itself is a beautiful, natural color. In addition, for a doll line with only five characters, the ethnic diversity is admirable and appealing.
Perhaps what I appreciate most about Savannah is the effort to make her look like a real child. She does not have an oversized head or huge eyes, and her body has refreshingly realistic bumps and curves. From head to toe, I think she is the most beautiful doll that I own in this scale.
This is a short summary (especially for me!) but sometimes it is that simple. This is a gorgeous, high-quality play doll being sold at just the right price. I wish that I had met Savannah when I was much younger, because she seems like an ideal play companion. Even to my adult self, though, this doll has a rare appeal. Amidst a burgeoning collection with lots of wonderful dolls, this particular redhead has quickly become a favorite.