Sunday, October 5, 2014

"Zaria" and "Kaila" by Double Dutch Dolls

Stephanie emailed me over the summer to tell me about Double Dutch Dolls, a new company that is producing multicultural, articulated (!), slim-proportioned 18 inch play dolls.  The company's founder, K. Charles, grew up reading Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume books--wishing that there were similar fictional characters who looked like her.  Unsatisfied with the current market, Ms. Charles decided to write her own books about spunky, smart, unique and beautiful teens from a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  The characters in these stories were so real to her, that Ms. Charles decided to turn them into high-quality 18 inch play dolls.

At the moment, only the main characters from K. Charles' book series are available in doll form.  These are Kaila and Zaria, identical 14-year-old twins who are navigating the challenges of middle school together.  With Kickstarter funding success, the company hopes to introduce a full line of doll characters, including Kaila's best friend Sacha, Zaria's Hispanic friend Alainna, Zaria's Irish/German/Asian lab partner Kadence, and (my favorite!) the redheaded African-American and Norwegian girl, Trinity.

After reading the website and looking at the dolls, I instantly wanted to get involved and support this wonderful project.  My experience with these dolls is a bit of an epic tale, though.  It all started back on August 9th, the day of Stephanie's email, when I ordered Zaria.  However, almost two months later, I am the proud owner of both Zaria and her twin sister.  And Zaria is sporting a new wig.  I'll tell you the whole story, of course, but let me start by showing you the beautiful twins as they look today:

Double Dutch Dolls
Zaria (left, re-wigged) and Kaila (right) by Double Dutch Dolls.  $69.00 each.
Zaria and Kaila are identical twins, so the dolls have the exact same face mold.  When I first started shopping, I figured I only needed one of the twins, and the choice was pretty simple for me.  Kaila is the fashion-conscious sister who is on the cheerleading squad and has her own line of clothing called "Double Dutch."  Zaria is the science-lover who plays soccer, is good at math and wants to go to medical school.  Can you guess which was my favorite?

I also chose Zaria because I liked her non-pink outfit and her wonderfully exuberant curly wig.  I haven't seen a wig like this on any other doll.  However, my biggest hesitation in purchasing Zaria was also her wig.  As you might remember, I don't have much skill or intuition with curly wigs.

Still, I put aside my wig concerns and ordered Zaria.  She cost $69, which is a good price for a high-quality doll in this scale.  Comparable dolls, like Kidz 'n' Cats or A Girl for All Time, cost $100-$200.  Online ordering was easy, the communication from the company was excellent, and Zaria arrived very quickly.  She came packaged in a cardboard window box with a pink-themed design:


Zaria herself was looking down in the box (almost like she was feeling a little shy) so I focused on reading the information on the back of the box.  At the top, there's a picture of the twins: 

Kaila (left) and Zaria (right).
My son points out that this is a computer-generated image.  I guess he can tell because the two girls' faces are identical.  The only difference between them is in the style of their hair--Kaila's hair is straight and Zaria's is wavy.  

There's a paragraph introducing Zaria and Kaila, and a short mention of the book and website:


I have to say, as a person who thinks about names a lot, I love that the twins are called Zaria and Kaila.  These are both slightly unusual names that sound pretty to my ears.  The names also go together very well, with their similar vowel sounds, strong consonant start, and five-letter length.  There are minor punctuation flaws in this text that I find distracting, though.  It's fine for a back-of-the-box blurb, but as an advertisement for a book series, it could have used another round of editing.

At the very bottom of the box, there's a bulleted list of a few more details about the dolls--including the fact that they have posable arms and legs.  Yay!

I am also excited about the "hip fashion clothes and accessories" that will be available.
I also purchased the first book in the series, Double Dare.  The cover of this book has the same graphic image of the twins that's on the back of the box:


This is a cute story, and it gave me a descriptive and memorable sense of Zaria and Kaila's contrasting personalities.  I am not the target audience for this book, but I did appreciate how the twins' parents are portrayed.  I also respect how the author avoids a two-dimensional portrayal of the antagonist (Trinity) by showing her differently from each twin's perspective.  The plot is far from original (twins secretly trading places with one another) but watching these new characters navigate the familiar scenario is entertaining--if painfully awkward at times.  As with the back-of-box writing, the punctuation and sentence structure in this book tripped me up on several occasions.  

The doll came attached to a five-sided pink cardboard backdrop:


She was held in place with two wire ties that were easy to untwist and remove:


The wire around the doll's neck and ankles was wrapped in thin white foam padding:


When I tilted Zaria's head upwards, so that I could finally see her face, I was struck by how stunningly pretty and unique-looking she is:

Gorgeous.
Even after she was freed from her box, Zaria still had the white foam wrapped around her neck and ankles.  I quickly cut these strips off with scissors.


Here's Zaria's face again:

Double Dutch Dolls "Zaria"

I think that the combination of this doll's fine facial features and dramatically full wig is especially interesting:


The wig has long, distinct ringlet curls. The texture of the hair is thick and soft--almost like mohair or fine wool.  All of the hair is not contained perfectly within the ringlets, though. There are frizzy areas in between and at the bottom of many of the corkscrew curls:



Zaria has some shorter bangs at the top of her head, but these are pulled back away from her face and secured with a single full-size bobby pin:


The elastic edge of the wig cap is visible in some areas where the bangs have been pinned back:


The wig has densely-spaced rows of hair fiber and seems to be very well-made:


I really love how the rich curls on this wig frame Zaria's narrow face:


To get a better look at Zaria's head mold, I had to pull her hair back into a huge, thick ponytail.  Zaria has very large, wide-set, almond-shaped brown eyes.  There's a vaguely alien quality to these eyes.  Zaria's nose is realistic and narrow and her dark burgundy lips are slightly parted with the hint of a smile.  I think her face looks quite beautiful from the front.  Her narrow chin, lip shape and delicate nose remind me of the young actress Bianca Santos...but Bianca's eyes are much smaller.


I don't think Zaria's features look as good in full profile.  The biggest problem is in the angle of her chin and jaw.  The pointed tip of the chin merges very abruptly into a slanted jawline.  I think maybe if the angle of the jaw was less severe, the chin would look a little fuller and more youthful.

However, I think Zaria looks amazing in half-profile:

Her ears are pierced!
Her chin looks much better from this angle.  In addition, this view accentuates the expertly-sculpted nose and the pretty shape of the mouth.

Zaria's eyes are inset and fixed in place.  They are highlighted by fine, realistic, applied lashes on the top lids.  Her painted eyebrows do not have any brush-stroke detail, but they are elegantly arched and complement the shape of her eyes really well.  She also has eye shadow around her eyes, painted in the same color as her eyebrows.  I like the cat eye style of this makeup, but I am not sure it's something Zaria would take the time to apply every morning?



Zaria's eyes are light brown and have nice iris detail.  The eyes are hard to photograph.  Even when I manage to get the focus right, they appear ever-so-slightly foggy:


I really like the shape and color of Zaria's mouth.  She has a bow-shaped upper lip and a thicker lower lip.  While there are no visible teeth, it looks from some angles like Zaria is about to open her mouth and say something.


Zaria comes in a sporty outfit that fits her personality nicely:


She's wearing star-spangled denim shorts, a white tank top and a black hoodie sweatshirt:


The sweatshirt has a decal with the Double Dutch Dolls logo:


The Double Dutch slogan is "so Cool, so Cute, so You!"  With an odd mix of lowercase and capital letters.  I suppose many doll slogans are similar, but this reminds me of Lalaloopsy's "Sew Magical!  Sew cute!"  


The hoodie sweatshirt is very well-made and feels like a perfect miniature of a full-sized garment.  It has a real metal zipper, an elastic hem, and carefully serged seams:



Under the sweatshirt, Zaria is wearing a white tank top with "Double Dutch Dolls" written in cursive across the front.  The shirt has a full velcro seam in the back.



This cotton knit shirt is also very ruggedly and realistically constructed:


The denim shorts are also expertly constructed, with little belt loops, working pockets and carefully turned hems:



Look at the stitched detail in the back:


With two more working pockets:


The shorts have a velcro fly, which is not my favorite closure for pants (zipper and snap would be more realistic) but this style is very easy to use.


These star shorts did not strike me as very trendy when I first saw them, but I have been told that this type of pattern is, indeed, quite popular these days.  My mistake!  Mind you, I am probably the farthest thing from a fashion genius that there is.   

Ordinarily, I wouldn't think too much about the creative design of these clothes, especially since they're so well-made.  However, Kaila is meant to be a fashion genius, and she makes all of the twins' clothing, so this puts the creative design of the outfits under more scrutiny.   Zaria's whole outfit seems plain compared to what I'd expect from the sister of a gifted teenaged fashion designer.

Zaria's footwear seems more funky than the rest of her outfit.  She is wearing knee-high black socks and colorful flower-patterned sneakers:


The shoes are great.  I love the lively, feminine print combined with the practical, Converse-style of the sneaker.


The shoes are made out of canvas and, like the rest of the outfit, are durably and accurately constructed--with little metal eyes for the red laces and everything:


The style and construction of these sneakers reminds me of the Extra Special Doll shoes that came with my Gracie.

Sadly, the black socks have left some pretty bad stains on Zaria's legs and feet:


I contacted Double Dutch Dolls to let them know about this problem, and they were friendly, concerned and responsive.  They told me they are already talking to the manufacturers about a solution.  With new small companies like this one, I feel very sympathetic to this type of issue.  The dolls are essentially a first draft, and I imagine there's a steep learning curve in all of the nuances of doll production.  I feel pretty optimistic that they will quickly find a solution to this problem.


Under all of her clothes, Zaria is wearing simple white knit underpants:


Zaria's body is made out of hard vinyl and has eleven points of articulation.  Her joints are elastic-strung, and the stringing work is very well done on my doll.  She has just the right balance of tension and flexibility.  Zaria has a slender, realistic body shape that I think is attractive from all angles:



Zaria balances very well on her own, with and without her shoes.

Zaria's shoulder joints allow her to lift her arms up and hold them out away from her body:


This position reveals a bit more dark staining from the black sweatshirt:


The elbow and wrists joints are straight-cut and can each bend to about a 140 degree angle in any direction:



The hands have long, slender fingers and bright pink nail polish:

I wish the nail polish was darker, like Zaria's lips
...or absent
Zaria cannot touch her face with her hands, but she can just barely touch the top of her head.


Zaria can't quite hold her hands together in front of her body on her own, but the joints are flexible enough to stretch the hands into that position temporarily.  The joints are also stiff enough to hold the arms in several positions away from the body.  Zaria is the kind of doll that has good static posing flexibility, but who can also be manipulated into many more temporary positions during play.


Zaria's neck joint is also strung, so she can look up, down, all around, and can tilt her head from side-to-side:




Zaria is very good at sitting on the ground:


And can even bend one leg slightly for a more natural sitting pose:



She has a slightly "kicky" left leg that has trouble settling into a split position...


...but it can be made to behave pretty easily:


As I was positioning Zaria into her graceful front-to-back split position, a bit of hair fell out:


This actually happened pretty regularly throughout the review, but I figured instead of cleaning the hair up every time, I should show you what was going on:


The frequency of these hair loss moments decreased throughout the review, so I suspect the shedding would have stopped eventually (and Zaria has plenty of hair to spare...) but it did cause a fair amount of mess.

Here's another split pose with the hair cleaned away:


Zaria's knee joints can also hold a bend of about 140 degrees...


...which is not enough for her to kneel:


but is enough bend for her to sit nicely in a chair or on a bench:


Zaria can strike and hold a good variety of poses for an 18 inch elastic-strung doll.  In fact, she has the best flexibility of any doll in this class that I own.



For her size and body construction, the two dolls most similar to Zaria are A Girl for All Time's Clementine, and Sonja Hartmann's Kidz 'n' Cats play dolls:

From left to right: Clementine, Zaria, Evita.
Zaria's slender body shape is most similar to Clementine, but the two dolls' joints behave quite differently.


Zaria can easily out-pose Clementine.  Clementine's knee joints do not hold their bent position at all, while her elbow joints can't stay straight.  Also, Clem is lacking the wrist articulation that makes Zaria so expressive:


I liked that pose, above, so much I had to get another shot:

Balancing all on her own.
Clem can wear Zaria's shorts nicely, but the shoes are too small:

I could force the shoe on, but it's very tight in the heel.
Both of Zaria's tops fit Clementine, and Zaria is one of the lucky few who can wear Clementine's exquisite chiffon dress:



There's no such luck sharing clothes with my other slim 18 inch dolls, though.  Evita's skirt and top both hang loose on Zaria, and Zaria's clothes are all tight on Evie:


Stephanie mentioned when she first told me about Double Dutch Dolls that she thought they resembled the discontinued BFC Ink dolls.  She's right--the body shapes are very similar:

Kailtin (right) is curvier with slender limbs.
However, the BFC dolls are slimmer in the arms and legs to the extent that Zaria can't even pull Kaitlin's top on past her hands:

Zaria's clothes are loose are Kaitlin, too--especially the shorts.
Even with short-sleeved BFC tops, the fit through the chest is too tight on Zaria.

Just for reference, here's Zaria next to an American Girl doll:


There is a significant difference in proportion here, so I didn't even try swapping clothes with these two.  Journey Girls are closer in size, but even those clothes are a bit big on Zaria.

Update 10/07/14: I forgot to compare Zaria to Carpatina dolls, which are actually quite close in size.  Here are some additional pictures (many thanks to those who reminded me to do this!):

Zaria and Carpatina "Erin."
The biggest differences between the two are in the face and the torso.  Zaria has more mature body contours, and her face and eyes are more angular.

I only have one Carpatina outfit (the Guinevere dress) but it fits Zaria very well.  The laces on the side of the dress help achieve a great fit.  Even though these two dolls look like they have similar arms lengths, the sleeves on Erin's dress are quite long on Zaria.


Since Erin is the larger of the two dolls, Zaria's clothes are pretty tight on her.  The shirts, in particular, look too small:


Zaria can wear Erin's slippers, but they're very big.  Erin can squeeze into Zaria's shoes, but they're too tight.

I think Zaria looks really pretty in Erin's dress!



After comparing Zaria to these other dolls, I put her back into her original clothes and tried to work with her hair a little bit.  I wanted to see if I could relax the tight ringlet curls and make her look more like the pictures on the Double Dutch Dolls website.  I should never do this kind of thing, though, and I don't know why I can't learn from my mistakes.

I used my fingers to scruntch the curls (I didn't even touch a brush--promise!).  This made the hair look messier, and it also increased the amount of shedding:



Double Dutch Dolls "Zaria"

You can see that I didn't do much to loosen the ringlets, they're just slightly less distinct than they were at the beginning:


Here's the hair right out of the box again for comparison:


And here's the little pile of hair that this project produced:


In retrospect, I should have just stopped playing with the hair.  My Zaria didn't look quite like the website pictures, but she still had pretty awesome hair:

Double Dutch Dolls "Zaria"

However, I wanted to take Zaria outside for a final photo shoot, so I tried putting her hair back into a ponytail to keep it from casting shadows on her face:


But the more I styled the hair, the worse it seemed to get.  I just couldn't find a nice way to arrange this very thick mane.  The back of the ponytail started to look unacceptably messy to me:



So...I did a bad thing.

Nice move, Emily.
I gave poor Zaria the worst haircut ever.  I mean, this was an absolute train wreck of a haircut:

Like something I'd have done when I was four.
So...I emailed Double Dutch Dolls to ask if they sold replacement wigs for this doll.  They don't, but they were super-nice, sympathetic and helpful.  They offered to replace Zaria (!!) but also gently suggested that I might prefer Kaila's straight, styleable hair.  They explained to me that Zaria's wig is designed to relax (over time) into more natural curls.  My bad.

Since Zaria's hair calamity was entirely my fault, I did not accept the replacement doll.  Instead, I bought Kaila, figuring that she could fill in for her sister in the final photo shoot--they are identical twins, after all!  Also, I figured that this way I would get a chance to show you both of the Double Dutch Dolls.  After ordering Kaila, I went online and picked out a few potential replacement wigs for Zaria, too.

Kaila arrived long before Zaria's new wigs:


Her face is exactly the same as Zaria's, but it's neat how the straight hair gives her quite a different look:

Double Dutch Dolls "Kaila"


The wig is beautiful and easy to brush and style.  It has a center part rooted into a skin-like section of the wig cap--similar to some of the My Twinn wigs.

Very realistic!
Kaila is wearing a pink version of the hoodie sweatshirt that Zaria came in:


Under the sweatshirt, she is wearing a pink tee shirt dress with a face on the front.  The dress is very short and looks a little bit like a nightgown to me.  Again, there's no edgy fashion design vibe to this outfit.

Double Dutch Dolls "Kaila"


Kaila is wearing the same sneakers as Zaria, but her knee-high socks are black (uh-oh...) with white stars on them.  These socks match Zaria's shorts.  With my doll, the left sock has stars with a yellow tinge.  They look like they should glow in the dark:

They don't.
As expected, Kaila has the same dark stains on her legs:


The twins' outfits have great mix-and-match potential, so I assembled my favorite pieces of clothing (Zaria's shirt and shorts with Kaila's sweatshirt), re-dressed Kaila, and took her out on an cloudless 80 degree weekend day to show her the ocean: 

Double Dutch Dolls "Kaila"


Kaila had only just started to investigate the rock formations on this spectacular beach when my family opted to move on and grab some lunch.

Double Dutch Dolls "Kaila"

Two days later, I brought Kaila back to the same beach to let her explore some more, but as you can see, this day was not quite as summery.

I thought the sky was blue!
We hugged the rocks, trying to take shelter from the biting wind.  Both the colors and the temperature felt a lot more like fall on this particular day!

Double Dutch Dolls "Kaila"


Double Dutch Dolls "Kaila"

Kaila's curiosity got the best of the weather, and she ventured out on some rock climbing excursions:

Double Dutch Dolls "Kaila"

I think Kaila enjoyed how the rocks gave her a good backdrop for posing:


Double Dutch Dolls "Kaila"


As I was finishing up this review, Zaria's new wigs finally came in the mail, so I figured I would quickly re-wig her and show you how that project turned out.

This is a Monique synthetic "Arielle" wig in black (size 10-11):


It's nowhere near as thick or dramatic as Zaria's original wig:

Original wig (left) and Monique wig (right).

But it looks more like Zaria's hair from the cover art of the book:


The other wig I got is a Playhouse synthetic "Liza" wig in dark brown (also size 10-11):

Original wig (left) and Playhouse wig (right).

I like the dark brown color of the second wig, but it doesn't feel anywhere near as soft as the Monique wig, and the curls are very thin and shiny.

I don't like either of the replacement wigs as much as Zaria's original wig.  They are not as well-made, and not as special.

Here's Zaria back in the Monique wig, which is what I am going to keep her in: 


The curls on the new wig look wimpy compared to the original--there's a lot of visible daylight between them.  I tried to fluff up the curls a little bit, but I was so nervous about over-manipulating the hair this time that I don't think I made much of a difference.  

Double Dutch Dolls

I like how this new wig also has center part that is rooted in a skin-colored wig cap.  It makes Zaria resemble her sister in yet another way.  The color of the new wig is darker than Kaila's wig, though.

Double Dutch Dolls

With Zaria's new wig glued down, I decided to make one last trip to the beach to photograph the twins together. 


Zaria is backlit in the picture below because I was trying to capture the enormous waves that were crashing onto the rocks...making me a bit nervous about the impending high tide:



We sought out some slightly higher ground, where Zaria seemed right at home climbing all over the boulders:

Double Dutch Dolls "Zaria"

With all of the manipulation and posing, Zaria's new wig started to relax a bit more at this point, too:

Double Dutch Dolls "Zaria"

Double Dutch Dolls "Zaria"

Kaila's short skirt limited her climbing options...


...but as the sun came out in force, both girls were happy to ditcth their sneakers and dip their feet into the tidal pools:


Double Dutch Dolls "Zaria"

Zaria is clearly the more adventurous of the pair, because even as we were hiking back to the car, she insisted on stopping to climb this tree (barefoot!) to get one last peek at the ocean:

Double Dutch Dolls "Zaria"

Bottom line?  I didn't start out with the intention of reviewing both of these Double Dutch twins, but I am actually really happy to have the pair, and I find the small differences between them quite interesting.  First, I'll go over the things about these two dolls that are the same (their faces, bodies and articulation) and then I will contrast the qualities that differ from twin to twin (the clothing and hair).

Face: when I first opened Zaria's box, I think there was an audible gasp. Her face is beautiful in a striking and unusual way.  I think the dark makeup and dramatic hair combine with Zaria's exotic features to make a very bold first impression.  On closer inspection, I noticed that her eyes are oversized and her chin has a mature, angular profile.  I sill think her face is wonderful to look at, refreshingly unique, and very photogenic.  Zaria and Kaila have the exact same face mold and face paint.  Their different hairstyles keep the twins distinct, but I think it would have been nice to also have some slight differences their coloring.  For example, I don't picture Zaria wearing much (if any) makeup, and I suspect Kaila would have a more flashy, youthful style.  I hope future Double Dutch releases have new face molds--not because I don't like this one, but because I'd love to see how the different girls' ethnicities are represented.

Body and articulation: both dolls have an articulated all-vinyl body that is strung with elastic.  My two dolls are very well-strung with just the right amount of tension in their joints.  The body shape is slender and has a believable physique for a fourteen-year-old girl.  The slim proportions and all-vinyl construction also make this body great for showing off a variety of clothing styles.  I have a few other 18 inch dolls that are constructed in a similar way to Zaria and Kaila, but none of them move, balance, or hold poses as well as these Double Dutch Dolls.  The movement is not as good as it would be on a hinge-jointed doll, but it is the best example of strung play doll articulation that I have seen.  I am very happy with the body style and movement of these two dolls.

Clothing: overall, the clothing is extremely well-made and has excellent detail.  The construction and fabric choices make each item seem like a miniature replica of a full-sized garment.  Unfortunately, the darker items (Zaria's black sweatshirt and both girls' socks) did not have any protective packaging, and left permanent dark stains on the dolls' extremities.  Also, the fashion design of the twins' clothing does not live up to what I picture after reading the book.  Kaila seems to have an imaginative, forward-thinking, slightly funky fashion sense, and very little of that is reflected in the dolls' outfits.  I wonder if there were some manufacturing or financial limitations in the creation of these clothes, because I suspect that K. Charles has a very clear idea of what Kaila's unique fashion style should be.  I hope that eventually we'll get to see an offering of modern doll clothes that mirror Kaila's Double Dutch fashion creations from the book.  In the meantime, I prefer Zaria's outfit to Kaila's, mostly because of the denim shorts and diversity of colors.

Hair: Kaila and Zaria have very different wigs, and I think this is an important detail to be aware of when choosing the right Double Dutch Doll for you.  Zaria's thick, curly wig is not like anything I have seen before.  Of the two dolls, Zaria's hair offers a much more dramatic, unique look.  Zaria's hair is definitely not meant to be brushed, though, and even if you finger-comb it a lot (like I did) its volume can reach a level of chaos that might not appeal to everyone.  Kaila's wig, on the other hand, is perfect for brushing and styling, and would be a more sensible choice for someone (like me...) who can't resist playing with their dolls' hair.  However, if I could go back in time and re-pick only one doll, I would still choose Zaria...but this time I would go out of my way to preserve the authenticity of her wig.  If, despite your best intentions, you end up mangling Zaria's wig like I did, there's a $16 solution for sale at Monique that isn't half bad.

It's a grand moment in the doll world when a company realizes a personal, heart-felt vision for a new line of dolls.  I always feel fortunate to get a window into this ambitious process, and I think the resulting dolls almost always add something special and distinct to the market.  In this case, there are a few minor kinks to work out, but nothing that diminishes my enthusiasm for this customer-oriented company and its ethnically inclusive concept.  I didn't plan on having both Zaria and Kaila in my house, but I also didn't foresee how each of them would add her own unique presence and personality to my collection.  Overall, my experience with these dolls and this company has been wonderful, and I can't wait to see which character is produced next.

Double Dutch Dolls
Zaria (left) and Kaila (right).

63 comments:

  1. Emily, they are beautiful! Also, the stars-on-pants thing is common nowadays. By the way, I emailed you about doing a guest review. Please reply!

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    1. Hi Noelle! You're right about the starry pants! It never occurred to me that these were trendy, but I searched "star pants" and got quite a few hits! I got a few Wonder Woman pictures, too, BTW...

      Thank you for helping keep me up-to-date. ;) I will have to update the review! Sorry for my slow email reply, too.

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  2. They are lovely dolls! Shame about Zarias wig though ;(

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    1. I agree! I feel better about the wig now that the replacement is starting to look more natural. It's a happy ending. :)

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  3. They look like they're 12 inch... Hmm... :D Super neat review!!!

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    1. Thank you, Tar! Their proportions are similar to some 12 inch dolls, you're right! Isn't it funny how size is so difficult to determine in photographs?

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  4. Awww they look lovely. But for me they have a bit a too childish and chubby body for such a grown up or at least teenager face.
    Great review :D

    Séverine

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    1. Hi Séverine! Thank you for sharing your perspective! I have heard people say the bodies look too grown-up for the faces, too. For me, I think it's that the faces look very made-up (making them look more grown-up...), at least compared to the fourteen-year-old girls I know. I don't think any of my son's girl friends wear much makeup. ;)

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    2. I don't think the bodies look too grown up. Most girls have grown a chest and hips by 14. I never "noticed" the age of the face, but I went and took another look and I have to agree. The faces look more like 20's, not because of the makeup but just the lack of facial fullness and the sharper angles.

      They are beautiful but it would be nice to see it all matched up, though other doll lines have the same issue. Really hoping they get a handle on the staining as I think the dolls have a easy appeal to them. I hope the company becomes very successful as I would love to see more dolls in the line and some fashions also.

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  5. They are very pretty, but to me the faces are too adult for the bodies.

    Also, I wonder how your readers from the Netherlands will like the name Double Dutch which (here in the UK at least) means 'incomprehensible nonsense'?

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    1. Hi Jocelyn, Séverine was saying that, too! The faces didn't seem too adult to me during the review, but I do think that they have adult face paint--like they're wearing more serious makeup than the fourteen year olds I know. I'll be very curious to see if this is the predominant reaction!

      Here in the States, Double Dutch is a type of jump rope game! It's amazing how the same words can have such different meaning across the world, isn't it? Whoa!

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    2. I know the term as it relates to jumping rope too. My father (who came from Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry) used to use the term, "You're in dutch" as "You're in trouble" and every now and again, we'd get into "double dutch" which would make me want to put a pillow into the back of my pants.

      Yes, their faces may look a bit older than 14, but I must confess that I fell in love with them after the first look at the picture Emily put up on FB.

      Suzi

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  6. I prefer the Monique wig on Zaria, the original wig was just too much for me. I can't get past the idea that these dolls are supposed to be 14 years old though. The faces look much to mature especially in profile. I like the bodies and articulation but wish they would change the faces.

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    1. You are in good company with this reaction to the face, Aileen! I didn't notice that the faces were too grown-up...well, except for that chin in profile. The angles there are very mature.

      The Monique wig is growing on me. I don't really like changing the original look of a doll, and I think Zaria came with a very unique wig, but the new one is definitely easier for me to manage. I am glad you like it! :D

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  7. Their faces remind me of Pauline Goodreau dolls. But I agree with everyone else, they don't go with the bodies.
    I also prefer Zaria's replacement wig to her original, the curls in the original one looked a bit forced and unnatural to me (they should have been narrower or denser or something). I bet that made no sense outside of my brain.

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    1. How is a natural hair texture for a black girl "unnatural"?

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    2. Makes good sense to me, Rachael. :) They do resemble Goodreau dolls! Especially in the eyes. Also, the neat rows of ringlets that Zaria had at the beginning do seem very wide for the size of the doll--and a bit forced. A lovely person from the company explained to me that the hair is designed to relax into looser, more natural curls. I think if I hadn't tried so hard to get this wig the way I wanted it all at once, I would have had a much better result. Check out the pictures of Zaria on the Double Dutch website--that's the look I was going for.

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    3. Nethilia- The diameter of the curls are far wider than any natural black curls I have ever seen also I don't think there are enough of them. I think the wig would look much more natural with twice the curls at half the width.

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    4. Rachael: I have wide, thick natural curls much like Zalia's. Not all natural haired girls have fine thin spirals. Please think before you talk about someone's natural texture and what is and isn't real.

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  8. I love this company so much, and I'm likely to get Zalia for my birthday near the middle of the month. I'm all behind supporting dolls of color, especially a new line like this. It's too bad what happened to Zalia's original hair. From what I can tell, Zalia lets her hair go natural and Kalia probably has near the same texture but chemically or heat straightens it.

    Also, the commenters above who have said things about Zalia's hair? You're being very, very rude. There are black women and women of color who have hair like Zalia's. I have hair just like Zalia--thick curls that fluff out--and have had my hair natural for over 13 years after I stopped having it chemically straightened through a good portion of my childhood. My hair and Zalia's hair is not "too much", unnatural, scary, or wild. It's a form of micro-aggression to say things like that about a black/African American character, and assume that thick African textured hair needs to be tamed or toned down to look appropriate. Think before you say things.

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    1. It's a wonderful company. They are incredibly nice and helpful and seem to care a great deal about both their products and their customers.

      You're absolutely right that Kaila straightens her hair and Zaria doesn't: in the book, the dad gives Zaria a hard time about her hair when the twins have switched and everyone thinks (or is pretending to think) Zaria is Kaila. They call her appearance "rough around the edges" and call her hair "kinky." Poor Zaria pretends that her straightener has broken, but she simply isn't accustomed to using it!

      I am very sorry that some of the hair discussion is upsetting to you. I don't want anyone to feel that way when they come here! I have a lot of confidence that no one meant any offense or aggression with their contributions. I will remove anything that I think could be misunderstood.

      The discussion is about a unique doll wig that needs special care. Isn't it normal for there to be mixed reactions to this? When I emailed the company about this wig, even they said that it would take time for the wig to relax into a "more realistic natural style." However, the fact that you relate to Zaria's hair in such a powerful way suggests a great achievement for the company.

      My objective in discussing the hair in such depth is to have others learn from my mistake--or help them decide if this is the right doll for them. There's no getting around the fact that handling this wig is different from what I am used to--the ringlets need to relax a bit to get the most authentic look, but it's possible to go too far. Obviously (and regretfully) I did a terrible job of balancing this. I understand why my experience might deter some people from purchasing Zaria. It's scary to ruin a $70 doll!! I can also see why for others, the hair is the best achievement of this line. With proper care, it can relax into the most realistic approximation of African American hair that you're likely to find on a play doll.

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    2. I'm glad to hear the company cares! I'm thinking of donating to the kickstarter now that I've seen it. I'm so itching for Sascha--she's beautiful.

      Ah, so they use a straightener? I like that much more than the idea of Kalia having chemically straightened hair. Plus it makes her personal style more versatile.

      Thank you so much for the concern regarding the hair discussion. It's less that people were being willingly rude about it, because they're not. But society/culture does say that natural African hair is kinky or bad, and it can be very frustrating. (I've heard the same thing about my AG Addy, who has very straightened hair--that her hair is "hard to handle.") I've been told my hair needs to be "controlled" and to see people apply it to dolls can be a sore spot. I know that they likely didn't mean it to hurt anyone's feelings, but that's the part that's sore, is that it's so ingrained for people to call black hair unmanageable in its default state. The discussion as it is was fine, but the statements about "wild" or "bad" have unfortunate implications.

      Your discussion was fine--and I understand the hair cutting and the rewigging. I wasn't hurt at all by you. It was mostly other commenters that made my hackles rise. I think your Zalia's new style is bouncy, and I'm glad to see her new hair is very curly and soft! In fact, your review made me know I want Zalia first, though I'll probably end up with a lot of the girls.

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    3. I always appreciate your perspective, Nethilia. I actually debated for a day or two about whether it was fair to publish this review given my inexpert handling of Zaria's unique hair. My usual practice is to tell the honest story of my experience with a new doll, though, so I went with that. Sharing the details of my wig troubles might be helpful to some, but it probably also set the tone for many of the comments--which is something I didn't anticipate and should take responsibility for. In any case, Zaria's original wig deserves another perspective, so I hope you will add her to your collection (and your blog) someday.

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  9. LOL I can't believe you CUT her hair. haha. Step AWAY from the scissors, Emily! What a great story. This doll line got my attention a few months ago when a forum member posted it on AGC. I'm intrigued!! I LOVE That Zaria wants to be a doctor and is into Science. I am trying to wait it out for Sascha, but I might go ahead and get Zaria. She's gorgeous.Thanks for doing this review!

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    1. Oh, I know! What is wrong with me??! I should not be allowed near scissors! ;D But seriously, my brain kept saying, "Stop! Stop!" the whole time, but I kept on going until it was too late. :( I might have to re-purchase Zaria at some point. Her personality is great, and that wig really was something special--assuming that the shedding eventually would have stopped. Sascha looks gorgeous, too, but of course I am on pins and needles for Trinity--especially if she really does have red hair.

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  10. Does she have an elastic wig that is not glued? I want her but can not rewig a glued wig, and i don't know how I would manage that hair!"

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    1. The wig was glued down--very well, I might add! It was hard to get off around the edges, which is great news for those who want to keep the wig firmly in place!

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  11. I liked Zaria's original wig, but I wish the manufacturer had not given these dolls eye make-up and pink nail polish. But they are intriguing dolls and, as always, I appreciate your detailed reviews.

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  12. I was so exited about these dolls, but the faces are very-weird looking to me, I think they look much older then 14 as well. Maybe its the cat-eye and the very bright harsh blush? I's afraid it will be a dealbreaker for me.
    I also thought the articulation would be better, although I can live with it in its current state and I actually absolutely love the super-curly wig! So much fun!))
    Thank you for the great-as-always review, you definitely helped me make a decision.

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  13. Hmm... I personally like both Zalia`s hairstyles but the original wig seems kind of freezy and not very good quality. still its great someone is actually trying to create dolls with real African American hair out there. I do like the idea behind the dolls being teenagers but the faces seem a bit off to me and they remind me of the BFC ink kids so much but these two actually look like they could be 20 or smth. Their bendy limbs are great though and they offer amazing articulation!
    reading your reviews got me thinking. how come is there not a single doll that would have a stuffed body similiar to AG, closing eyes, maybe similiar proportions but bendy, fully jointed limbs? I would pay an arm and a leg for a doll that looks aprox. like your kids and cats doll but has rooted hair, closing eyes and a cuddly body. I would be even more willing to get her of she were a doll if colour. but where to find such dolls? Ive seen so many brands, all jointed dolls Ive seen are full vynil.
    Nia

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  14. I appreciated seeing the comparison photos; I'd seen some promotional photos of the dolls and somehow came away thinking they were shorter and slimmer, so I'm glad to see which lines are comparable.

    I hope the line succeeds, I'd love to see how the planned future dolls turn out!

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  15. Hello, Emily I'm a french girl and I like the toy box philosopher ! Do you know Cutacnyl :https://www.pharma-gdd.com/fr/p-cutacnyl-2-5--gel-pour-application-locale-p5577.html ?
    It's a medicine who is perfect for stained dolls!
    Bye !

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  16. There is a very beautiful essay by the author Alice Walker entitled "Am I Blue?" which can be found here:
    http://faculty.wiu.edu/D-Banash/eng195/WalkerOrwell.pdf (begin on page 138). It came to mind because of Emily's love of horses and the discussion on hair that lead Nethilia to write in and comment. Alice Walker has written on hair specifically, but the essay, "Am I Blue?" seems to communicate the ideas brought up here much more effectively. It's about a lot of things, but especially about how we all place value judgments on people, animals, things in general and how those judgments lead to objectifying behavior that causes great suffering. The essay is about a horse and yet the horse is just a symbol of a certain blindness in our attitudes towards others that we think of as different from ourselves. There is no blame here, only a call to observe how we think, speak and act. We may think we are only talking about dolls, and yet our attitudes can't help but figure into our discussion of even what we take to be innocuous things. But if there is a willingness to observe, to question ourselves, to be gentle with one another, and a desire to understand, (all of which Emily's blog fosters) compassion and learning can happen. Do you feel compassion for Blue? Are you Blue? How have you occupied the narrator's position? It may seem farfetched to some to even bring up the issues in the essay, but if you read the essay, you'll see how remarkably the same themes from the essay are present in this small forum on the double dutch dolls.

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    1. I can't thank you enough for this wise, thoughtful, heart-felt contribution. I also appreciate the link to Alice Walker's essay--she is a brilliant writer. You are absolutely right. It's far too easy to be dismissive or cavalier with an issue that seems trivial on the surface, without taking the time to see how it might have roots that run much, much deeper for other individuals. In fact, my suggestion that this discussion is "only about a wig," above, is embarrassingly hypocritical in this light, since one of the things I love about dolls is that they DO reflect societal values, they DO elicit emotions that many playthings cannot, and they DO remind us of ourselves in important and unexpected ways.

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    2. Interestingly, playthings like dolls are often used to help trauma victims express their feelings when it's too hard to express them directly. Our culture has a history that is so full of pain that people,of all races are afraid to even speak -- out of fear of sparking outrage even if inadvertently. But that's a terrible thing because nothing can change without communication and conversation is what you encourage. Of course there will be stumbling blocks along the way for everyone as we learn to see with new eyes. It's just one of many reasons why I'm happy that you and Nethilia (tough cookie that she can be on her own blog) both write about dolls..It's important stuff....thanks, Emily.

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  17. Beautiful dolls, though I don't care for the sameness of their outfits. One thing that has peeked my interest; if they're fourteen, aren't they in high school, or at least the oldest in middle school therefore not REALLY having to do much navigating? Curious and curiouser.

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    1. At 14 they would be in 8th grade, as 15 is usually freshman, 16 sophomore, 17 junior and 18 senior, so I agree that in most locales that would put them at the top of the school food chain. But there are schools that house students in many different ways, so you could be entering 8th and be at the bottom of the food chain if the school was housing 8th -12th or 8th-10th grades. I look forward to reading the books when I get the dolls as I am already interested in what happens next. :)

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  18. These dolls are beautiful, the only thing that really bothers me is their profile.. looks too much like a garandma to me! XD

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  19. I would be interested to know how they fit Carpentina clothing. They have lovely faces. I love the loose curly wig and the original wig. I even loved the look when you cut the original wig shorter! But something about the body is wrong. It just doesn't work and it's not a nice looking body. The creators need to study doll bodies (and human ones too) a bit more.

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    1. Good idea! I forgot about Carpatina! I have to finish up a project for someone, and then I will add in some pictures of Erin with Zaria and some clothes sharing. My guess is that the Carpatina clothes will be too big, but we'll see! Thank you for the great suggestion. :D

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    2. Ok, I added some pictures into the review. The two dolls are much closer in size than I thought! Good call. :)

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    3. Thanks for the extra pics. Really interesting. I just love all the carpentina and Girl of All Time clothes. Just not really their dolls.

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  20. I was hoping we'd see a review by you of this brand - thank you! I wasn't at all sure that the dolls would be able to stand unaided looking at their boxed images - their legs don't look straight and they look a bit head heavy. So good to see your photos and understand more about their articulation. Will you be attempting to remove the stains? I wonder if the vinyl will respond well to the usual stain removing solutions we all use on dolls. I'd also like to know how the measurements of the bodies of these dolls compare to Carpatina dolls. I like the shape of the body - torso, shoulders, arms and legs and would prefer the dolls to look a little fuller in the face, a little younger - perhaps 10-12 - because that's what I like. That said, are they toy tested for the American toy market (and if so, from what age?) or are they only suitable for collectors /age 14+? It would make sense to model a doll on a teenager if the doll was not going to be sold as a toy to a younger child.

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    1. Thank you! :) I have some puppies to de-stain, too, so I will try the usual tricks with these two girls and report back. I hope something works, but the stains don't actually bother me too much.

      It's a great idea to do a comparison to Carpatina--thank you for the reminder! For some reason I completely forgot about them. Sorry! :P I will add in some more pictures this afternoon.

      The box recommends Kaila and Zaria for ages 8+, and declares them unsafe for children under 3.

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  21. I love reading your blog, all the reviews are so detailed and your reviews even help me decide which dolls to buy or not buy. Thank you for updating it frequently!
    If you ever need a suggestion for a doll to review, I'd love to see a review of the Via E doll Alexis. Have you ever looked into reviewing her?

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  22. Hi Emily!
    I really, really love the idea behind these dolls. Diverse Dolls of Color are something of a rarity, and it's awesome to see a company stepping in to fill the void.
    Their faces were a little off-putting at first, though-- they look a lot like MiM dolls, and I've never really liked MiM's faces (though I like the concept)-- but these girls are slowly growing on me. I can't wait to see what the new dolls look like.
    That's too bad about Zaria's wig shedding so much, because I LOVE the look of her original curls. She does look really lovely with her new wig, though.

    Thank you for another detailed and awesome review, Emily!

    --Kate :)

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  23. Hello Emily!
    I really really love your blog, and your review on the Liv dolls was that encouraged me to buy some second-hand ones. Posing them is FUN, so I thank you for the fun times I'm having.

    And even after I keep returning to read your marvelous reviews, I mean, most dolls don't particularly interest me, there's a charm in your reviews that kind of make me want to buy them, hehe.

    So, again, thanks for another interesting review, you rock!

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    1. I agree with you on the LIV dolls and of the way Emily makes the dolls so appealing that you starting thinking about getting them. My Karito Kid is in the mail to me....I am destaining a Lorifina...My Monster High and Ever After High doll count is growing and even added a few Bratzilias to my "family". Add that to acquiring an addiction to Mini Lalaloospy dolls and ponies and my need to buy a mystery pack of everything I see because of my curiosity and I soon will be homeless and broke; with aa lot of dolls though! ;)

      Suzi

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  24. I love the coloring and articulation. But I wouldn't want to meet these babes in a dark alley--they look like they can break me in two, stomp on me, and have a great time doing it. I think they are more suited as characters in a fantasy role-playing video game--maybe assassin elves? Of course, when I have this kind of strong reaction, I can tell that very soon I must have one! They are probably going to haunt me, so I must buy one pront! Gotta run over to the website to check out the whole line--but I love the curly hair

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  25. What a lovely review. My name is trinity too! It doesn't even matter that she's the antagonist, I just think it's cool to see my name. I probably wouldn't get her, since they aren't the same scale/proportions as my ag dolls. I love the idea here though. I have a friend who is AA Cherokee and Irish. There are definitely not enough dolls that represent different ethnicities.

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  26. I love these dolls! I just donated to the Kickstarter, and I think I might buy one of the dolls when I can. I like Zaria, but I'd be afraid of ruining her wig (I have a nervous habit of brushing/petting/playing with my dolls' hair... which is part of the reason even my boys get long-ish wigs). I'd like a doll that can travel with me on short trips that I wouldn't be afraid of breaking (or losing, like my tiny dolls)--the twins seem very sturdy, since they are meant for younger girls.

    Kadance looks like she could have some Asian in her, which my niece would love (she's half Japanese and sometimes feels awkward about it). I've been looking for a doll that seems like it could speak to her on that level, though her MiM came pretty close (she loves that doll and likes raiding my BJD clothing box to come up with new outfits for her). My niece is also unintentionally a little too rough with MiM (I've had to hot glue a lot of pieces back on where she flat out broke the connections, and I'm trying to come up with a solution for the broken piece in the head).

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  27. Do you think they would fit into hearts 4 hearts girls clothes?

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  28. They have gorgeous faces! I too feel like the body is less mature than the faces- when I looked at the first photo I assumed they were going to be built sort of like Lorifina! I feel like the face is too angular to be the age they're portrayed to be and that they should lengthen the legs and arms of the doll- especially the legs!

    The joints are a bit underwhelming too, I think the inner elbow joint should be sanded down to allow for more posability.

    Wonderful review, as always! I love when you bring new, upcoming and developing brands to light! I do hope eventually you'll do a Blythe review as I know you like her (I eye your Phoebe Maybe whenever you use her in a comparison!) and Blythe is my fave doll brand!

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  29. Oh my! The price for these dolls are amazing! A price like that I think that I could definitely jump on board with this line. While these dolls are breathtakingly beautiful! My only concern is what clothes can they exactly share? Am I understanding that normal 18" doll clothes like you buy in target and walmart are not going to fit these girls?

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  30. I'm so glad you added the Carpatina at the end. She looked gorgeous in that medieval gown. In future for this size i'm always interested in how they measure with Carpatina because its one of the few companies that has affordable clothing patterns for their dolls. So even if you can't afford their dolls. there are beautiful dresses you can get a pattern to sew and use on more affordable dolls that are similar.

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  31. Love the articulated 18" dolls! Have you ever looked at the Gotz Happy Kidz? Would love to know how they measure up against these brands. The doll I'd really like to see would be Gotz Hannah (I adore that face) but with the Happy Kidz articulated body. Hmmm... maybe that's a restringing project for one day...

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  32. Maybe the yellow tinge on the sock was perhaps supposed to be gold stars? Maybe one sock was gold stars and the other was silver. Does it seem like that, maybe? Let me just say maybe 6 more times.... But seriously, does it seem like like that could be it?

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  33. LOL I went on the website and the clothes they used were taken off of Stardoll.

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  34. They are really beautiful! I just didn't understand where i'ts possible to buy them? In Holland?
    thanks,
    Lyuba (Russia)

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  35. I heard that Double Dutch shoes fit on AGs. Is this true?

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  36. cute dolls, but their faces look a lot older than 14!

    have you thought about reviewing the Gotz Happy Kidz dolls? they are 19.5 inches tall and have bendable arms and legs. I'm considering buying one for my daughter for christmas. they are sadly only available in the UK, but you can order them from these websites.
    http://www.petalinadolls.co.uk/gotz/gotz-happy-kidz-dolls/
    http://www.two4toys.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=2_19_104&osCsid=bh1fmc6mv9oml59blta345t1q5

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  37. If there's something I'm a bit weak with is twins. I love twins, and I love them in characters and, of course, in dolls. For now I only have the Monster High cat twins, but these two....I just fell in love with them!
    Too bad I don't have enough money to buy them....yet. I wish one day I could own them both.

    Which will probably be when they change everything, sigh. Who knows? Time will tell.
    Amazing review, as always, glad you could work everything out in the end.

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