Many things have happened since Amor's arrival in March, including the grand opening of the Paola Reina America online store. Now a wonderful variety of Paola Reina dolls are readily available in the United States and Canada. The other thing that has happened--mostly in the last two weeks, is that I've gotten the first glimpse of new leaves and blooming flowers here in Maine. After months of patient waiting, Amor is finally ready for her introduction amidst the vibrant colors of early spring:
|Soy Tu doll "Amor" by Paola Reina, $79.99|
I want to back up for a minute and say that if you have been eyeing any of the large Las Reinas de Paola dolls, Diana at Doll Diaries has posted some wonderful pictures of Alma and Lidia that are definitely worth checking out. Lidia has the same face mold as my Marta.
Paola Reina is a Spanish doll company with a wide range of high quality play dolls. The company has recently expanded to include Paola Reina America: the North American distributors of this doll line. Paola Reina America offers many adorable baby dolls, but my focus has been on their range of child dolls. My review of the Ruth Treffeisen doll "Cristi Blue" will give you an idea of what the Paola Reina 13" Las Amigas dolls are like, and of course you can read about the articulated Las Reina de Paola dolls in Marta's review.
The Soy Tu dolls sit right in between the Las Amigas and the Las Reinas de Paola girls--both in price and in size. These all-vinyl dolls are just under 16 inches tall and are in the $80 price range. I believe that Soy Tu means "I am yours" in Spanish. *Update: actually, this means "I am you" (thank you, Barb!).
I was tempted by the redheaded Becca from the Soy Tu collection, but ended up choosing Amor because of her beautiful coloring and unique outfit. Amor arrived in a sturdy cardboard window box with a handle on one side:
|Like all Paola Reina dolls, Amor is 100% made in Spain.|
The handle also acts as a simple latch to keep the box closed. Pulling the handle free from a cardboard tab allows the box to open fully:
|No scissors required.|
Amor is displayed against a simple green and blue background.
She is wearing a small wrist tag that contains an age warning in several languages. She is intended for children over three years old. In the photo below, you can also see one of my favorite things about her outfit: the embroidered matryoshka doll:
Amor is held in place with three elastic bands that are looped over plastic hooks. There's one band around her neck:
And one around each of her ankles:
These three simple bands do an excellent job of holding the doll in place, and they are very easy to remove (and replace again if desired).
To keep the hair under control in the box, it was tied into two loose ponytails, with a plastic head band covering the bangs:
Here she is with her hair taken down and brushed:
Amor's hair is not as shiny as Marta's, but it has a similar feel. It is thick, soft and smooth but it's not silky--it has a slight synthetic stickiness to it that allows it to hold shapes well. The hair strands don't slide past each other as smoothly as they do on straight-haired American Girl or Maru and Friends dolls. I believe it is nylon hair fiber.
The hair hangs just past Amor's waist and has long layers:
Amor has a purple hair bow that matches the trim on her outfit. She has a side part with a section of hair hanging in front of the hair bow on the right side of her face:
Amor has evenly-cut bangs that can be brushed off to either side of her face or left to hang down just past her eyebrows:
Here she is with the hair band removed:
The hair is rooted nicely and feels thick, but the plugs become visible if sections of hair are brushed aside or gathered up to make a small ponytail.
I used the hair bow to tie back Amor's bangs so that I could get a clear look at her face:
Amor has a rounded face with the features of a young child--perhaps a four or five-year-old. Her eyes are the same amber brown color as Marta's eyes and are framed by stiff, curled lashes on the upper lid:
Amor has thick pink lips with the hint of a smile and the perfect amount of shine. She has wonderful molded details in her mouth:
When Amor is tipped backwards, her eyes close:
In some positions, she'll peek out from under partially-closed eyelids:
|Just a little spooky.|
The color of Amor's eyelids does not match the color of her face: it looks like she's wearing dark eyeshadow:
I wish the lids were lighter, but the color mismatch is not as glaring in real life as it looks in these pictures--it ends up looking more like a shadow across her eyes.
She has a small molded eyelid crease above each eye:
Amor is wearing a short linen bubble skirt sundress with a coordinating cotton knit cardigan:
The hem of the dress has a stretchy knit band that matches the cardigan, and a purple bow accent that matches the headband:
The cardigan is nicely made out of a soft cotton knit. I love the rich purple color:
I also love the embroidered matryoshka doll--this is such an original decoration and it has wonderful detail:
With the cardigan removed, you can see the bubble dress' ric-rac trimmed sleeves and pleated bodice:
The dress opens in back with a single long piece of velcro.
Underneath the dress, Amor is wearing cream-colored tights and imitation black leather shoes:
The shoes have a simple shape, and each has a line of decorative holes across the toe:
The shoe straps close with velcro.
As with Marta, everything about this outfit is fantastic. I love the cute, toddler-appropriate style and the expert construction. The fabrics are natural and high quality, and the color choices compliment the doll. The style is creative and fun, but still looks wearable.
Amor has an all-vinyl body with five simple points of articulation. Her joints move easily and her construction seems very solid. She stands perfectly on her own, and her all-vinyl body is very easy to clean. I was surprised by the shape of Amor's torso, though: for the age I assumed this doll was meant to be, she has strange contours:
|That's not a toddler torso.|
She has distinct hips, a narrow waist, and some definition in her chest.
Amor's vinyl is not soft and bendable like it is on the Las Amigas dolls. It feels more like the vinyl on an American Girl--hard and smooth and difficult to bend.
Her head rotates, but it can't be lifted up or down.
The head tilts upwards as it rotates, but the angle is not too extreme:
Amor's arms also have simple rotational movement. The arms angle away from the doll's body at her shoulders, and they have a small bend at the elbows. This arm shape makes it possible for Amor to lift her hands up beside her head, but it can also make dressing a little tricky since the hands are rigidly spaced so far apart.
There is a lot of detail in the shape of her lower arms and hands. She has dimpled, baby-like fingers and creased wrists that make me think perhaps she's supposed to be slightly younger than four or five.
Amor has angled rotating hip joints so that she can sit on the floor with her feet out to the sides:
She can also do front-to-back splits
Her legs stick straight out and straight back in this position, but her foot keeps the back leg from laying flat against the ground.
When Amor is sitting on the ground or doing the splits, her legs can get in the way of her arm movement. For example, she can't sit on the ground and move her hands from in front of her legs to behind her legs without moving the legs out of the sitting position.
The feet are nicely detailed:
Here is Amor standing in between her Paola Reina sisters:
|Las Reinas de Paola, Soy Tu, Las Amigas.|
Marta would make a good older sister for Amor, but the petite Las Amigas dolls are a different scale altogether.
Amor is just a little bit shorter than most dolls in the 18" category. Here she is with my American Girl doll, Keira, and my slim-bodied Carpatina Erin:
|Carpatina Erin, Paola Reina Amor, American Girl.|
Amor's torso is similar in size to Carpatina Erin's, but Erin has more mature facial features and limbs. Amor's body looks small compared to the cloth American Girl body, but she has a similarly large head and young face.
Here are two more of my slimmer 18" dolls--Kidz 'n' Cats Evita and A Girl for all Time's Clementine. These three all look quite similar in size:
|Kidz 'n' Cats Evita, Paola Reina Amor, A Girl for all Time Clementine.|
|Journey Girls Dana, Paola Reina Amor, Extra Special Dolls Grace.|
Before I saw Amor in person, I imagined that she'd be close in size to a Hearts 4 Hearts girl, but she actually towers over Lauryce:
There's a fair amount of clothes sharing possible between all of my dolls in the 18" size range. Here's Amor wearing a Journey Girl shirt and skirt with American Girl boots:
|The boots are big.|
...and with some Extra Special Doll glasses added:
|Wearing Journey Girl clothes.|
To my surprise, the elastic-waisted skirt from American Girl Keira's meet outfit stays on very well and looks good. The neckline of the shirt works well with this doll's suggested age, too:
|Wearing American Girl clothes.|
The American Girl glasses do not fit, though:
Extra Special Doll clothes fit pretty well, although this dress is long and the style of glasses is too big:
|Wearing Extra Special Dolls clothes.|
Here's Amor in the Extra Special Doll monkey shirt. It makes a cute short dress on her:
I tried several slim 18" outfits that looked like they would fit really well, but Amor's stiff, wide-set arms made it difficult or impossible to get her hands through the sleeves. Among these near-misses were Clementine's dress (no way I was risking a rip in that beautiful dress...), Carpatina Erin's medieval gown, and Evita's stretchy tee shirt:
|Not stretchy enough.|
The only other doll I could think of to compare to Amor was this Corolle Mademoiselle girl, "Vanilla." I saw this doll at Rainbow Toys last winter and have since purchased her for a friend:
She is very sweet, but I think she would be a better comparison to the Paola Reina 14" cloth-bodied Las Blanditas dolls.
However Vanilla's dress does fit Amor through the torso pretty well:
|It's just a little short.|
I ran into some trouble getting Amor back into her original outfit. The long strip of velcro on the back of the dress is like a magnet for the knitted tights. I made the mistake of trying to pull the dress on over the tights, and I ended up with an ugly section of snags and runs where the velcro got stuck. I also had a hard time getting the toes of the tights to look as nice as they did when the doll came out of her box:
Of course this mess could have been avoided by putting the tights on last, but younger kids might need a reminder about this so that the tights don't get ruined completely.
Here are a few more pictures of Amor back in her outfit, with her hair and headband rearranged:
One of the reasons I decided to review Amor this week is that her pink and purple outfit matches so many of the beautiful new flowers that are popping up around town.
We found these blueish purple flowers right in our scruffy back yard--where you'll notice that the pickets managed to survive the winter (yay!):
Amor spotted more purple flowers in a nearby lilac tree:
And we found these brilliant pink blossoms all along the road in a neighboring town and had to stop for a closer look:
Bottom line? After spending some time with Amor, I decided to break her evaluation down into three important categories: articulation (of course), appearance, and apparel.
The articulation in this doll is minimal--she only has five simple rotating joints. I have learned to accept that this style of doll tends to be under-articulated, and that fewer joints are actually an asset for younger children. However, Amor's joints slowed me down in a few ways that I think are worth noting. First of all, her arms are rigid and they stick out away from her body quite a bit. This means that getting the arms into the sleeves of certain outfits can be a challenge. The arms also bump into the legs in some positions and can interfere with movement. Another minor complaint about the articulation is that Amor can't tilt her head up and down which, coupled with her tendency to face upwards as her head spins, makes it hard for her to look at specific things. This is probably a bigger deal for photography than it is for play. The up-side of the articulation is that this doll is sturdy as a rock. She's solid and satisfying to carry around, and she stands perfectly on her own. She doesn't have the wobbly, unpredictable joints of an elastic-strung doll, nor the added worry about whether or not the elastic will fall apart over time.
I like Amor's appearance better when she's dressed, but I'll talk about her undressed body first. Amor does not have the most attractive body shape I've seen in this style of doll. Mostly, her shape confuses me. She has a torso that is too thin and womanly to fit a toddler, but her face and hands look extremely young. Aside from the torso, though, I think each body part is realistic, attractive and detailed. Furthermore, Amor's rich brown skin tone is beautiful, and does not have any tinges of unwanted color. She has some reddish undertones, but they look very natural. Her amber eyes are a striking contrast to her skin and have the same realistic detail as Marta's eyes. Her eyes close nicely when she lays down, although I wish that her eyelids were a better match to her skin tone. Amor's hair is thick and smooth and introduces another deep, complimentary brown. She has a gorgeous, innocent face with a sweet smile, and her lips provide a perfect splash of color.
Appearance leads right into my evaluation of this doll's apparel. Amor is a nice doll without her clothes, but with her clothes she becomes exceptional. First of all, the outfit hides the confusing torso. In addition, the outfit is made out of a wonderful mix of fabrics, and the combination of colors in these fabrics make Amor's face seem to glow. The warm purple of the cardigan brings out the reddish tint of her vinyl, and the white in her dress makes her eyes look clear and bright. The unusual design of the outfit, with its bubble dress and embroidered nesting doll, gives Amor a fun youthfulness and a original personality that sets her apart from the crowd. Fully dressed, this doll strikes me as a work of art--carefully crafted and superbly coordinated from head to toe.
I continue to be impressed by the quality of the Paola Reina dolls. This company knows how to make beautiful, sturdy, distinct dolls--and they have a style of doll for everyone. It is just a matter of figuring out which style is best for you. Amor adds something sweet and special to my collection, and I would recommend the Soy Tu dolls to anyone shopping for a child between the ages of 3 and 7. However, if I get a chance to purchase another doll from the new Paola Reina America website, it will likely be one of the Las Reinas de Paola beauties, or one of the smaller dolls from the diverse Las Amigas collection.