Friday, February 28, 2014

Ruth Treffeisen Play Doll, "Cristi Blue"

There has been a lot of excitement in the wake of the recent Toy Fair in New York City.  The American International Toy Fair is an enormous trade show held by the Toy Industry Association.  This event takes place in mid-February, and usually attracts over 30,000 attendees.  I was not one of the attendees this year, but it's a dream of mine to be a part of this toy extravaganza some day.  I am grateful to the Doll Diaries team for their wonderful reporting, and also to my friend Lily who sends me updates about specific dolls that catch her eye.

This review was inspired by the Toy Fair in a peculiar way.  I got a lovely email from the Paola Reina America doll company, sharing with me some of their pictures from Toy Fair and alerting me to the fact that their beautiful and extensive line of dolls would soon be available for purchase in the United States.  I eagerly visited their online store and drooled over many of the dolls.  I highly recommend a visit to this site--but I'll warn you that it's dangerously tempting.  While I was browsing, I noticed that the 13" Paola Reina America "Las Amigas" line strongly resembles an older doll that I bought almost a year ago.  My doll is "Cristi Blue" (also known as "Carla III") from the 2007 Ruth Treffeisen play doll collection:

Ruth Treffeisen play doll
Ruth Treffeisen play doll, "Carla III" or "Cristi Blue," 2007.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Licca-chan and Miki-chan by Takara

Ever since I first reviewed Lottie dolls last January, many of you have suggested that I take a look at Licca-chan, a beloved 8 inch Japanese fashion doll that has a lot in common with Lottie.  Licca-chan has been around for much, much longer than Lottie, though.  Licca was first manufactured by Takara in 1967.  By 2007, the company had sold over 53 million Licca dolls, and they continue to sell about 1 million dolls per year (The Ashai Shimbum, 2011).  Takara merged with Tomy in 2006, and so now the Licca franchise is credited to Takara-Tomy.  Licca-chan is often compared to Barbie in terms of her longevity and overwhelming popularity.

It was difficult to choose a Licca-chan doll for review.  I knew I would not be able to make any sweeping statements about the doll line by looking at a single doll--any more than I could judge the entire Barbie empire by just reviewing Midge.  So, I chose a doll that I felt would make a good comparison to the Lottie dolls I own...and then I added in a little Miki-chan toddler, because I found her too cute to resist:

Licca-chan and Miki-chan
"Kindergarten Teacher" Licca-chan and "Kindergarten" Miki-chan.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Sweet Screams" Frankie Stein

I thought it would be fun to review the Sweet Screams Frankie Stein doll for Valentine's Day, since she has a candy-themed outfit with a red and black color scheme.  Unfortunately, it took me much longer to photograph this doll than I planned.  I still want to share some thoughts and pictures of this new Monster High doll, though, because I think she's significantly different from what we've been seeing from Monster High lately.

There are currently two dolls in the Sweet Screams collection: Frankie and Draculaura. The dolls are Target exclusives and cost $21.99.  The story behind these dolls is that the Monster High gang is having a sleepover ("creepover") and Draculaura gets up in the middle of the night for a snack.  She eats a ton of mysterious candy and then goes back to sleep.  The sweet snack somehow ensnares both Draculaura and Frankie in a sticky candy-laden nightmare.  Neither ghoul enjoys the dream, but Frankie appreciates her stylish dreamland outfit.  Let's take a look:

Sweet Screams Frankie
Monster High's "Sweet Screams" Frankie Stein.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Well, I'm working on a review that I thought would be really fun for today, but it's not quite ready.  Instead, here's a little valentine for all of you! :)

"Tiny Tink," by Helen Kish.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mooshka "Fairy Tales" Mini Doll by MGA Entertainment

I have admired the Mooshka cloth dolls ever since I first saw them at Target last summer.  They have a wholesome, sweet appearance that sets them apart from most of the other dolls found at big-box stores.  Mooshka dolls would fit nicely in a smaller, locally owned toy shop.  Surprisingly, these cloth girls are credited to the toy goliath, MGA Entertainment--through their partnership with Zapf Creation.

I always stop to check in on the Mooshka dolls when I am at Target, and during my last visit I was delighted to see a few newcomers to the collection.  The new wave of dolls is called Fairy Tales (a common theme these days...) and features four of the larger cloth girls (Ina, Casia, Sonia and Palia) dressed up in princess, fairy, or mermaid outfits.  The Fairy Tales collection also includes six mini figures, and these are the dolls that I found the most tempting.  The mini dolls have a lot of features in common with Lalaloopsy minis, but they are not made out of bright plastic.  In fact, at first glance, I assumed they were made out of wood.  Also, each mini Mooshka doll has a piece of her wardrobe that is made out of fabric.  At $7.99 each, I couldn't resist buying a few of these newcomers to see what they look like up close.

Here's Fairy Tales Ina and her owl companion:

Mooshka mini doll
Mooshka Fairy Tales mini doll, "Ina."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Life in the Dreamhouse" Midge and "Happy Family" Midge by Mattel

Midge is one of a series of seven new Barbie dolls based on characters from the Life in the Dreamhouse online computer animated series.  The show is in its fifth season and can be watched free of charge at Barbie.com.  I watched several episodes before I started writing this review.  The frantic pace of the show took a little while for me to get used to, and the plots are hit or miss, but I found the series surprisingly entertaining.  For me, Midge and Raquelle are especially fun to watch (I love Midge's snorting giggle!).  What's funny is that even before I watched any Life in the Dreamhouse webisodes, Midge and Raquelle were the two dolls that appealed to me the most.

Mattel introduced the Midge Hadley character in 1963 as a way to offset Barbie's sexy image and give her a more well-rounded personal life.  Midge is Barbie's best friend from their fictional hometown of Willows, Wisconsin.  The first Midge doll was introduced over 50 years ago, but versions of this character have been relatively scarce through those years.  There were several reproduction vintage Midge dolls made during the last decade, but Life in the Dreamhouse Midge is the first modern version of this character to be offered since the controversial (often pregnant) Happy Family Midge was discontinued 10 years ago.  A fun, picture-heavy history of Midge dolls can be found here.

In this review, I will look at the new Life in the Dreamhouse Midge doll, but I'll also take a trip back in time to de-box the 2003 pregnant Happy Family Midge so that we can see how both the appearance and the backstory of this endearing character have changed.

Life in the Dreamhouse Midge
Life in the Dreamhouse Midge (2013), Happy Family Midge with baby (2003).

Monday, February 3, 2014

"Around Town" Penelope Brewster, a Déjà Vu Doll by Robert Tonner

Penelope Brewster is a character from Robert Tonner's relatively new Déjà Vu line.  The story behind this line is that Penelope is a young woman living in Los Angeles and working in the movie industry. This seems fairly bland.  However things get considerably more interesting when Penelope gets bumped on the head and suddenly begins to recall moments from her many previous lives.  Among her earlier incarnations are Emma Jean McGowan from the 1920s and Anne De Légere from the late 17th century.  Not only do all of these versions of Penelope have their own unique story, but they have beautiful 16" vinyl dolls to portray them.  I think the idea behind the Déjà Vu line is detailed, imaginative, and thought-provoking.

The dolls have a brand new body design and are advertised as being extremely posable.  They all share the same face mold, which has a much more stylistic look than Tonner's previous 16" fashion dolls.  One of the most exciting things about the Déjà Vu line is the beautiful period clothing that is available for Penelope's historical manifestations.  I am particularly fond of the Louis XIV style dresses (and dramatic hairstyles) that Anne De Légere wears.  However, the intricacy of the outfits is in direct correlation with the price of these dolls...and none of them are cheap.  The options range from $99 for a basic doll (in undergarments) to $209 for the most dramatically dressed Anne De Légere ("La Vie de Versailles").  My favorite doll is La Vie de Versailles, but her price is so high, I opted for "Around Town" Penelope Brewster instead.  She's right in the middle of the price range, I like her face paint, and she comes with a full outfit.

"Around Town" Penelope Brewster  LE 500 ($159.99).