Saturday, August 30, 2014

More Minis! Part 2: Collector's Lane Kids by Battat

There is a lot of talk and excitement about the American Girl BeForever release.  Personally, I am particularly interested in the new mini dolls, since it seems that they have all-vinyl bodies and different face molds.  These new American Girl dolls, along with Battat's recent Our Generation mini release and the cute little Moxie Girlz sibling dolls, make for a very exciting season for those (like me!) who enjoy smaller dolls.  I have to be patient and wait for my BeForever dolls to arrive, so rather than look at something brand new today, I am going to go back in time and look at Battat's mini doll series from 1999.

While I was writing my review of Battat's newest Our Generation minis, I did several online searches to see what I could learn about the company and its history.  Apparently, Battat has made a few different mini dolls over the years.  In 2011, there were 4-inch Our Generation vinyl dolls with rooted hair.  These minis came packaged with a book and an assortment of accessories.  More than a decade earlier, when the Battat doll line was called "Collector's Lane," there was a group of cloth-bodied 6-inch mini dolls.  Like the current Battat minis, these dolls were made to be little replicas of the concurrent 18-inch characters.  Because of the similarities in construction and size between the new Our Generation minis and the Collector's Lane dolls, I decided it would be fun to see how Battat's smaller dolls have changed over the last fifteen years.

Collector's Lane Kids mini
Battat's Collector's Lane Kids mini "Rachel" doll.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More Minis! Part 1: The Funville Sparkle Girlz

I had so much fun reviewing the new Moxie Girlz Friends dolls and the Battat Our Generation minis, that I've stayed focused on smaller dolls for the last week or so--hunting around locally and online to see what else is out there in the 5-10 inch size range.  Locally, I visited Target, Walmart, Toys R Us and the Dollar Store to see what mini dolls are readily available here in my part of the world.  Online, I hunted down some older Battat mini dolls that I learned about while researching the new dolls.  In a two-part mini series, I'll show you my favorite dolls from this search: the Collector's Lane Kids 6-inch dolls by Battat (that'll be Part 2...), and today, the inexpensive line of 4-inch dolls from Walmart called Funville Sparkle Girlz.

There are a few different sizes of Sparkle Girlz.  There are 20-inch play dolls, 12-inch fashion dolls, and 4-inch toddlers.  I was interested in the toddlers for this review, but these smallest Sparkle Girlz are actually quite hard to find around here.  There are four Walmart stores in my immediate area, and I've visited all of them within the last five days.  All of these stores had plenty of the larger dolls, but most had only one kind of mini...or just empty cardboard display cases.  Since these dolls cost $2.47, it's no surprise that they are hard to keep in stock.  At the very last Walmart I visited, I finally found a representative variety of little Sparkle Girlz.

In this post I will show you four different dolls from this series and contrast them to the comparably-priced Moxie Girlz Friends dolls.

Sparkle Girls Little Ballerina
Funville Sparkle Girlz "Little Ballerina" mini doll.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Doll Durability: American Girls, Journey Girls and Hearts for Hearts Dolls--A Guest Review!

My next guest reviewer, Emma, emailed to ask if she could write a piece on how some of her larger-scale dolls have weathered a few years of play.  I think this is a brilliant idea.  I am always reviewing new dolls right out of the box, but that's only the first step in determining quality.  I think that the durability of a play doll over time is the true test of its worth, and this is something that I would really like to learn more about.

Not only was Emma's review idea great, but I think you'll agree that she's done a nice job of summarizing her experience with three popular brands of doll: American GirlHearts for Hearts and Journey Girls.  I am very grateful to Emma for her hard work, creativity, and professionalism in bringing this new dimension to the blog.

This topic is so interesting to me that I hope many of you will contribute your own experiences in the comments section.  I am very curious to know how other well-loved dolls have stood the test of time.  In fact, I'd love to get some photographs of your older dolls (which you can email to so that I can add them to the bottom of this review.  If we keep this discussion limited to the 18" scale dolls that would be great, but I will think about ways to add "Doll Durability" posts as a recurring feature.  That's enough chatter from me--I am excited to sit back and hear what all of you have to say on this subject.  Take it away, Emma!

American Girl dolls of various ages.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Moxie Girlz "Friends" Mini Dolls by MGA Entertainment

On the same day I found my Our Generation mini dolls, I also saw the new (Target exclusive) Moxie Girlz minis for the first time.  It was a mini doll kind of a day, I guess.  The Battat minis grabbed the spotlight, but I wanted to show you some of the Moxie minis, too.  These dolls are pretty cute, but what really impresses me about them is their price.  They are $2.99 each, which is hard to beat.  I think Walmart's Sparkle Girlz are less expensive at just under $2.50, but I can't think of much else.  Even some of those blind bag foil-wrapped toys cost more than this.

Today, I will review Tally (the redhead...of course), and compare her to Neve and Amorie:

Moxie Girlz Friends mini dolls, $2.99.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Scaremester "Invisi Billy" by Monster High--A Guest Review!

I have two neat guest reviews for you this week, but they are about two very different things, so I decided that instead of doing a Review Fusion post, I will publish the reviews separately with a little break in between.

This first review is written by Ana, a new friend of mine from Italy.  I always get extra-excited to share reviews from different parts of the world, because I think they highlight the universal and timeless fascination with dolls in our culture--a phenomenon that makes me really happy.  Ana and her six-year-old daughter Ellie are fortunate to share a passion for dolls, and are both particularly fond of the Monster High characters.  Ellie is a girl after my own heart, and has an impressive collection of the Monster High werecats and werewolves.  Ana's own favorite dolls are Scarah and Venus, who she likes for their beautiful personalities.  From the short time I have known Ana, I can tell you that her personality is equally lovely.

Ana is just the right person to review one of the new Monster High boy characters, Invisi Billy, because she has an extensive collection of ghoulish guys and a keen eye for their similarities and differences.  Without further ado, I will turn the post over to Ana!

Invisi Billy Monster High
"Invisi Billy" by Monster High.

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Doc McStuffins" Dolls by The Disney Store and Just Play

My husband was reading the New York Times the other day and stopped to ask me if I knew anything about Doc McStuffins.  I giggled a little at the name (while picturing Doctor Dolittle, Doctor Who and other such doctor characters...) and said, "nope."  Well, as it turns out, I should have known about Doc, because she's the lead character from a new animated Disney Junior television series called Doc McStuffins.  This show has become incredibly popular among preschool children (and their parents) and the merchandise is starting to appear in all of my favorite stores.

Dottie (aka "Doc") McStuffins is a six-year-old girl who has a special way with stuffed animals and toys.  Following in the footsteps of her physician mother, Doc has set up a small toy hospital inside her backyard playhouse.  In each television episode, Doc fixes or helps a different toy, imparting simple bits of wisdom along the way...and glowing with a kindhearted, intelligent personality.

Miss McStuffins got the attention of the New York Times because she's black, and because she represents a success story for Disney--a company that has been working hard to overcome the racial and gender stereotypes of their past.  I certainly recommend taking a look at the Times' article.  It's short, well-written, and it outlines the reasons why this show is a big deal, both for Disney, and also for a multitude of families who have been waiting for an African-American roll model just like Doc.

I watched several episodes of Doc McStuffins and quickly became enchanted.  It's fantastic.  If my kids were younger, this is what we'd be watching.  When I was a child, Doc's animal-loving personality and affinity for toys would have made her my hero.  As a quickly-converted fan of this show, my first question became: "which is the best Doc Mc Stuffins doll out there?"  Today, I will review two of the larger Doc dolls.  One of them is sold at the Disney Store, and the other is made by Just Play and can be found on the shelves of Toys R Us, Walmart, Target and other big box locations.

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store
"Doc McStuffins" doll from the Disney Store, accompanied by Just Play figures
"Lambie" and "Stuffy."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our Generation Mini Dolls by Battat

Yesterday was one of those magical summer days.  The weather was perfect, and my husband took a rare day off of work so we could all have a mini vacation at our favorite ocean beach.  I usually like to bring a doll or two along whenever I go to the beach, so that I can embarrass my children take some photos for the blog.  However, the doll I am reviewing right now is not exactly dressed for the ocean, so I didn't have any obvious doll companions for this adventure.  However, as luck would have it, my kids needed a large tub for their own beach project (don't ask) and so they asked to stop at Target on the way.  Of course I am always happy to stop at Target because it gives me a chance to take a quick run past the dolls.

As I rushed through the toy aisles, I noticed that there were mini dolls in the Our Generation section.  Mini dolls!  I was so surprised to see them, I had to stop and do a double-take. I realize now that there's been some buzz about these dolls for a little while, but I have simply been too busy to notice.  I'm actually glad I didn't know about them ahead of time, because I adore surprises and this was a really great surprise.  In the doll world, there's very little I get more excited about than miniature replicas of larger dolls.  Better yet, one of the minis is Kendra--a redheaded Our Generation doll that I already have in 18" scale.  I scooped up mini Kendra and also Sienna (because she looked really cute) and headed off to the beach...with the perfect doll companions:

Our Generation mini dolls
Our Generation mini dolls "Sienna" and "Kendra," $9.99 each.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Inner Monster "Fearfully Feisty and Fangtastic Love" by Monster High

After finding Avea Trotter, who for me is the ultimate Monster High doll, I didn't think I would be spending as much time in the Monster High aisles of my regular stores.  However, I have found myself quite interested in seeing the new dolls come into stock--particularly the remaining items in the Freaky Fusion line.  It's fascinating to see the different combinations of characters.  So far, my favorites are Lagoonafire (Lagoona and Jinafire), Dracubecca (Draculaura and Robecca) and maybe Neighthan Rot...although I still think he should have been a centaur.

Anyway, while I was examining these mixed-up monsters last week, I noticed a lone box with a slightly different design sitting off to one side.  At first, the bright neon colors on this box reminded me too much of the Sweet Screams collection and I was a little turned off.  But then, I found myself seduced by how many accessories seemed to come with this doll for her relatively low price--it looked impressive.  Finally, a single sentence made me grab the box and head straight for the checkout: push brain to change my eyes.  Well, that's the kind of thing you don't have to tell me twice.  I was sold.  This ghoulish temptress had me at "push brain."

Fearfully Feisty and Fangtastic Love
Inner Monster doll, "Fearfully Feisty and Fangtastic Love" $21.99.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

W.I.T.C.H. Dolls "Taranee" and "Will" by Giochi Preziosi--A Joint Review!

My next guest reviewer, Emma, emailed me over a year ago to ask if I had ever considered reviewing any of the large range of dolls made by Giochi Preziosi.  I didn't know much about this Italian toy-making giant at the time, so I thought it was an excellent idea--and a great learning opportunity.  Emma recommended several of the Giochi Preziosi doll lines, including the Winx Club dolls, the Sailor Moon series, and (most enthusiastically) the girls from the W.I.T.C.H. comic books.  I took Emma's advice and ordered several of these dolls for review.  I messed up with the first doll I ordered, though.  I ordered a Winx Bloom doll with a Giochi Preziosi label, but learned that I had actually chosen a Witty Toys Boom doll that is merely distributed by Giochi Preziosi.

Six months later, I am trying again--this time with the invaluable help of Emma herself.  This review will focus on the 13" Giochi Preziosi W.I.T.C.H. dolls.  Emma is a huge fan of the W.I.T.C.H. comic book series, and so she is the perfect person to introduce this line.  Emma will share her new "Taranee" doll, and then I will end the review by showing you my redheaded W.I.T.C.H. character, "Will."  It has been fascinating for me to learn more about the magical world of these Witches, and I owe this experience to Emma's persistence, patience, and enthusiasm.  Many thanks, Emma!  This review never would have happened without you.

W.I.T.C.H. doll "Will"
W.I.T.C.H. doll "Will" by Giochi Preziosi.