Thursday, June 18, 2015

Every Girl "Maia" by Paola Reina America

You might remember that about a year ago the Spanish doll company Paola Reina expanded to include a distributor in America.  At that time, I jumped on the opportunity to review two of the new dolls--Marta, a 23.6-inch Las Reinas de Paola beauty, and Amor, a smaller 15.7-inch Soy Tu cutie.  As much fun as I had choosing and reviewing Amor and Marta, I remember wishing that there had been a group of 18-inch dolls to choose from.  I really like collecting 18-inch dolls and making comparisons between the ever-increasing number of options in this popular scale.  Also, with all of the outfits and accessories available for this size of play doll, it makes a lot of strategic sense for a company to have an 18-inch option available--especially a company like Paola Reina that is already manufacturing such an impressive range of doll sizes and styles.

Well, someone at Paola Reina must have had similar thoughts way before I did, because this year a new collection of 18-inch Every Girl dolls was added to the Paola Reina America family.  Right now, the Every Girl collection has five dolls--including a little boy named Unai.  As tempted as I was to have a boy in my 18-inch doll collection, I couldn't resist the redheaded Maia and her nautical-themed dress.  As the weather in Maine gets warmer and warmer, my thoughts turn increasingly to the ocean...and little Maia fits perfectly with this frame of mind:

Every Girl "Maia" doll by Paola Reina, $104.99 CDN (~$85 USD).
The Every Girl dolls cost $105 Canadian, which is currently around $85 U.S. dollars.  To put this price in some context, American Girl dolls cost $115, Maplelea Girls cost $99 CAD (~$80 USD), Maru and Friends cost $120, and My Twinn dolls cost $80-100.  I think the Gotz and Adora 18-inch dolls are both about $70.  So the Every Girl crew is in the middle of the premium 18-inch doll price range. 

The shipping time from Canada to Maine was very short--six days from checkout to delivery.  The funny thing was that I got the UPS shipping notice five days after the doll arrived.  Oh, well.

Maia came in a plain off-white cardboard box with the Paola Reina logo on the front and a safety message on the back:



Underneath the cardboard box lid was another thin plastic lid.  This plastic layer would be great for shop owners who wanted to display the doll while protecting her from dust and curious hands.  

Maia was not exactly display-worthy when she first arrived, though:


There was a large forelock of hair hanging down over most of her face.


She had also kicked off one of her shoes:


Maia was secured to her box in the same way as my other Paola Reina dolls.  I really like this packaging style.  There's a large plastic brace in the middle of the box with hooks on either side.  An elastic band was looped around Maia's neck and attached to these sturdy hooks.  There was a similar (smaller) attachment site at Maia's left ankle.  Maia was held very securely in place by this system, and yet she was also very easy to de-box.  Furthermore, Maia could very quickly be re-packaged in exactly the same way again and again if necessary.


There were a few decals behind Maia in the box.  One of them is advertising the fact that all Paola Reina dolls are 100% made in Spain.  I love this fact, but it was the other decal that made me really happy.  Look at this:


She has BONES inside!  A un squelette dedans!  It sounds even more awesome in French, don't you think?  "Squelette" is my new favorite word.  Anyway, this means that Maia has some kind of articulation mechanism beyond what is typically found in cloth-bodied 18-inch dolls.  Can you imagine how excited I was to see this?  Eee!  It says absolutely nothing about bones (or squelettes) in the online description.

I got a little impatient to look at the body at this point, but I'll slow down and try to show you things in order.  Deep breath.  Oh yeah--the deep breath reminds me that Maia has the same soft vanilla scent that is on all Paola Reina dolls.  I really like this smell, but I can see how it might be frustrating for those with a sensitivity to certain smells.

Maia's hair was secured with two loose ponytails.  This didn't do a fantastic job of showing her off to her best advantage, but the hair wasn't a tangled mess, either.



Paola Reina dolls have high-quality nylon hair that I have really come to love.  It needs a little more brushing maintenance than some other hair fibers, but it doesn't tangle easily and it looks gorgeous when it's freshly brushed.  I took down Maia's two ponytails and after 10 seconds of brushing, this is how she looked:


The color of her hair is perfect and the shine is just beautiful.  I didn't really like that huge chunk of hair hanging over her face, though, so I used the headband to pull it back:

Every Girl "Maia" by Paola Reina


The hair is rooted with a side part and has some long (slightly wavy) layers in the back.  I absolutely love the color, shine and feel of this doll's hair.



Maia has a very typical-looking body shape for a cloth-torsoed 18-inch play doll.  Her face has more definition than most of the other dolls that I have in this size, though.


Every Girl Paola Reina

Maia has grey eyes and a spray of realistic-looking freckles across her nose and cheeks.  Like Amor and Marta, she also has thick rosebud lips with a natural color and a lot of molded detail:

Every Girl Paola Reina


Maia's lovely grey eyes have the same iris pattern as Amor and Marta.  Her eyes can open and close, which is a feature of the Soy Tu line, but not the Reinas de Paola line.  Actually, I think that maybe the newest Soy Tu dolls do not have closing eyes.




I think Maia's eyes strike a great balance between being simple enough to accommodate the eye-closing mechanism, but with enough shape to give them some character and warmth.

Maia has applied lashes.  On my doll, the right eye wouldn't open all of the way at first because of the lashes, but after I gently pushed the eye fully open a few times with my finger, the problem went away.  This is why in some of the pictures (like the one, below) Maia might look like she has a slightly narrower right eye.  She really doesn't.


The shape of Maia's head is interesting.  Her face looks pretty round and simple from the front, but she actually has a lot of subtle sculpted detail around her eyes and mouth.



The area surrounding Maia's eyes has more sculpted detail than any of my other Paola Reina dolls.  Maia's eyes are set fairly deep into her head.  This might be realistic, but it's different from most of my other play dolls.  She has a puffy outer edge to her upper eyelid, and then a small indentation right below her very thin eyebrows.  The eyebrows themselves are slightly raised.  The angle from the bridge of Maia's nose up through her eyebrows can make her look crabby in certain lighting.  The features I am describing are very subtle and hard to capture, but this picture shows a few of them:


This close-eyed picture shows the eye contours pretty well, too:


It could just be me, but the puffiness around Maia's eyes and her small rounded chin seem a lot like the features of an infant--maybe a three-year-old.


I find Maia's babyish features very sweet--and in keeping with her body shape.  The extremely long length and thickness of her hair is a bit of a disconnect for me, though, as I think of toddlers as having short or wispy hair.  The long hair is super-fun to brush, though.

A quick re-style of Maia's hair into high toddler-like ponytails made a big difference in my eyes:

Every Girl Paola Reina

Every Girl Paola Reina

Every Girl Paola Reina

Maia makes an incredibly cute toddler, but I wonder how her babyish features will be received by kids who play games with their 18-inch dolls.  The stories, hobbies and accessories that accompany most 18-inch dolls suggest that the characters are in the 8-11 age range.  I'm not sure how convincing Maia would be at portraying a girl of that age, especially when she's standing right next to the older-looking dolls in this scale.  It's not that Maia should portray a 10-year old just because she's 18 inches tall, it's just that this would make her more compatible with the other dolls on the market.


Overall, I really like Maia's face.  Her eyes are beautiful, her freckles are perfect and she has a very endearing, innocent expression.  I wish the area around her eyes was a little smoother, though, so that she didn't look irritated with me some of the time and so that her age was slightly more ambiguous.

I chose Maia mostly for her beautiful hair color, but I also really like her dress.  I am a big softy for sailor dresses in general and Maia's dress has a traditional sailor feel but adds a cute ribbon twist to make it special:


The dress is made out of a soft knit and has different ribbon decorations on either side in the front:


The right side has a white and black polka dotted loop of ribbon with a red satin bow accent, and the left side has two overlapping bows--one white and one red.


The dress has a navy blue skirt and a blue and white striped top.  It opens in the back with velcro and is very easy to get on and off.  Notice that the blue stripes don't line up in back, though, which is disappointing:


The waistline has a few large pleats, though, which is a great detail:


The stripes match a little better along the sides of the dress:


Maia is wearing short white socks and simple black imitation leather shoes.  Her right sock is a little frayed on the top edge:


The shoes have foam soles with small raised heels:



I removed the headband pretty early in this review, but I'll show it up close here:


It is made out of black and white striped ribbon and has a red bow decoration.  Unfortunately, the black part of the ribbon has stained the back of Maia's head:


The date on the back of Maia's neck is from 2010, making it seem like the head has been used before in another line.  I don't recognize it, though.


Ok, now it's finally time to check out the body articulation on this doll!  Yay!

Maia has a stuffed cloth torso with full vinyl arms and legs.  The cloth on her body is bright white, which seems like a funny choice.  Most of my other 18-inch dolls at least attempt to match the doll's vinyl color to the cloth torso.  I wasn't even aware of this white color until I undressed Maia, though, because her dress covers up the neck seam very well.


Maia comes wearing white boxer short underpants.  When she's wearing her underpants, the white top of the cloth torso ends up looking like a plain tee shirt, which is pretty neat.  I wonder if this is why Paola Reina chose the bright white color?


Maia's balance is very good, and I rarely had trouble getting her to stand up on her own.

Here's the torso with the underwear removed:


The front of the body is seamless, but there's a midline seam down the back and an extra seam across the bottom.


Unlike American Girl dolls (and Our Generation, My Twinn, Maplelea Girls, etc...), Maia's arms and legs are not strung, and there are no vinyl joint capsules stitched into her body.  

Instead, these vinyl limbs have flanged ends that are gripped by the cloth portion of the joint.  This kind of attachment is what you see in most baby doll-making kits.  It gives the shoulders and hips simple rotational movement.  As we'll see, though, the armature in the Every Girl dolls increases this movement quite a bit.

Maia has expressive and detailed hands that look very similar to the Soy Tu hands.


So here's the really cool part: Maia has an internal armature that runs through the entire cloth part of her body and is connected to the tops of her arms and legs.


This means that not only can she lift her arms straight up...


...but she can also move her arms away from her body or bring them in close to her chest:


She can hold her hands together and touch her hair or parts of her face:



She can even reach an arm across her chest, which is awesome:


Maia's armature is a Loc-Line style ball and socket chain, so she has a lot of points of movement within that cloth body.  She can even shrug her shoulders forwards or roll them backwards:


The armature does not play as much of a role in Maia's leg movement, but she can stand with her feet close together...


...or move them wide apart:


And this is in addition to her being able to rotate her legs around at the joint so that she can sit on the ground:


(Both with her legs close together and with them far apart...)


Or she can do nice front-to-back splits:


I did find it a little hard to spin Maia's legs around on a few occasions. The cloth and vinyl joints can get sticky.

Because the armature runs through Maia's entire torso, she has a few more tricks up her sleeve, like being able to tip to the side...


...and being able to lean forward and backwards:


And she can do this pretty strange-looking bridge, too:


As you can see, the thick stuffed torso limits the flexibility of the armature to some extent, but it's still wicked fun.

A few of you might have wondered why I so confidently described the style of Maia's armature.  Yeah...good question.  Here's the thing: I really love this doll and didn't want to harm her in any way, but my curiosity can be a bear of a thing some days. So I took off her head.

Um...excuse me?
Here you can see the segmented ball-and-socket style of the armature, and also how it connects into the hollow arm:


There is no solid connection between the armature and the head.  The top part of the armature sticks up into the head, but it's not a tight fit, and so moving the head does not engage the armature at all.  This is too bad, because if the armature was secured to the head, Maia would be able to look up and down in addition to all of her other tricks.


Here's the hole in Maia's head so that you can see how much larger it is than the links of the armature:


And here's something I've never done before--shown you the rooting job on a doll head from the inside!  The color is weird, but it's kinda neat to peek inside and see all of the stitches:


Here's the rooting from the outside, too, for anyone who is curious.  The hair is nicely rooted and feels very thick:


I love it when doll companies try something new with articulation.  It is so much more interesting than seeing the same design over and over again.  Maia's plastic armature is a great idea and it feels very solid and durable.  It's also easy to move and yet holds its shape well.  The armature allows Maia to do things that she would definitely not be able to do if she just had the plain flanged baby doll joints.  Strung dolls like American Girl have a really good range of motion in their shoulders and hips, but they can't hold as many poses on their own as Maia can.  I made this little list of the things I noticed that Maia can do that set her apart from most of the 18-inch crowd:

1. Hold her hands together (and hold small objects) on her own--no rubber bands necessary.
2. Hold all arm positions on her own, for that matter, including being able to cross one arm over her chest.
3. Slouch or roll her shoulders back.
4. Tilt to the side or lean forwards and backwards at the waist or chest (and stay that way).
5. Twist to one side or the other at the waist.

I am always looking for more and better articulation in my dolls, and while Maia's armature might not add a quantum leap of new possibilities, it seems to me like a very clever move in the right direction.  The plastic segmented armature is also significantly better than the wire armatures found in dolls like Our Generation and My Life As.  The armature's enhancement to arm and torso mobility is especially noticeable.  In fact, Maia's flexible torso makes her legs seem a little static by comparison.  I wouldn't mind seeing a doll in this scale with legs that were half vinyl and half cloth, so that the armature could extend to just above the knee.  This would limit the types of clothing that the doll could wear, but the articulation would be great.  Think of the horse-riding potential alone!


Here's Maia next to my American Girl doll, Keira (note how Maia's armature makes her posture a little more dynamic than Keira's...without any effort or intention on my part):



The two dolls have very similar body proportions, and are almost exactly the same height.  A few small differences are that Maia's arms are shorter and her hands and feet are smaller.  These two dolls have very different face styles.  Keira is much less realistic, but the lack of age-defining detail in her features makes it hard to pigeonhole her into a specific age bracket.

Keira's strung ball-and-socket joints allow her to lift her arms away from her body and stand with her legs close together or far apart...just like Maia:

But I don't have bones...or a skull.

Maia's dress fits Keira well...and looks really nice on her.  The shoes fit, too, but they're really tight.


Keira's dress also fits Maia, but American Girl shoes run a little big:



Also, Maia's bright white chest looks funny with the open neckline of this dress:


Now here's Maia next to Elise, a new My Life As doll:


Elise is a little taller than Maia and her vinyl chest and arms are slightly wider and much less flexible.  


I like Maia's face better than Elise's, but it's not a very fair comparison given the price difference between these two.  Let's just say that Elise's very round, unrealistic face makes Maia's realism especially impressive.

Maia can wear Elise's outfit and shoes with no problem.  In fact, the slightly looser fit makes this particular outfit hang better on Maia than it does on a My Life As doll.


I also really like the way the grey blazer looks with Maia's sparkling grey eyes, and how the grown-up style of the clothing ages her facial features a little bit:



Elise can also wear Maia's dress nicely.  It's harder to get this dress on Elise, though, because of her more rigid shoulder region and her less flexible arms.  Maia's shoes fit Elise well, too.


Here's Maia next to my Our Generation doll, Kendra:


Kendra is a little bit taller than Maia and she has blockier hands and feet.  Also, Kendra's cloth torso is capsule-shaped with very little hip definition.


The difference between these two dolls' faces is interesting to me.  Kendra has very simplified features, but her narrow face and long, thin nose make it clear (at least to me) that she's an older child--not a toddler.  Maia looks so much younger standing next to her.  I'd have a tough time pairing Kendra and Maia together as friends or sisters in a game, but I'll bet a lot of kids probably don't care about these picky little details.  When imagination takes over, this type of thing tends to disappear.

Kendra's clothes are a little snug on Maia...especially the skirt:


Those are Journey Girl boots in the picture, above (sorry) but Our Generation shoes also fit--they're just a bit loose.


Maia's dress hangs really nicely on Kendra's slightly slimmer frame:


Maia's shoes are a tiny bit tight in the toes on Kendra, but they work.

Here's Maia with my Journey Girl, Kelsey.  I have to say, Kelsey is one of the strangest-looking 18-inch dolls I have.  Her ghostly skin tone and mint green eyes are a combination that my camera does not like.  She's not quite this alien-looking in real life.  Promise.


Kelsey offers another striking contrast to Maia.  She has quite a bit of detail in her face, but also clearly looks older.  Kelsey's body is taller than Maia's, and both her torso and her limbs are slimmer than Maia's.  Kelsey's also has more grown-up looking hands.  Kelsey's vinyl chest plate gives her neck some nice definition, which is a feature of older children.

Kelsey's pants are very tight on Maia, but Maia's stuffed body allows the pants to be squeezed on.  Kelsey's shoes also fit Maia, but they're slightly long:


As an aside, Maia's bright white torso works with this outfit: it seems like she's wearing a nice white tank top with her summery jeans.

Kelsey's tank top also fits Maia, but the white torso peeks out at the arm holes:



Maia's dress fits Kelsey, but it hangs a little loose:

And it does not flatter those legs.
The shoes can be crammed on, but they're too tight for Kelsey:


Here's Maia with my wonderful Maplelea Girl, Saila:



Maia's short arms make Saila's arms look extra long.  Once again, Saila looks much older than Maia to me.  Saila could even be in her late teens or twenties if she needed to be.

Sala is a little taller than Maia and her torso does not feel as soft and compressible, so I was surprised when Saila's jeans fit onto Maia.  Saila's top also fits:


Again, I like how the mature style of this outfit adds a little age to Maia's youthful face.


Saila's awesome sneakers are too long and loose for Maia, but they worked for a quick picture.

I really love how Maia looks in grey:



Maia's dress fits Saila, but her shoes are way too tight:


Saila's long arms make getting this dress on a little tricky, and you can also see that the fit of the dress across Saila's shoulders is not perfect:


I was very impressed by the number of dolls that can share clothes with Maia.  Here's a rundown from my (limited) experiments:

American Girl/My Twinn: Can share clothes. AG shoes are big for EG, EG shoes are tight on AG.
Our Generation: Can share clothes and shoes.
My Life As: Can share clothes and shoes.
Journey Girl: Can share clothes. JG shoes fit EG but not the reverse.
Maplelea Girl: Can share clothes but not shoes.
Also, Soy Tu dolls (as we'll see in a sec...): Can share clothes and shoes.

Now I'd like to look at Maia in comparison to my other Paola Reina America dolls.  Here she is next to Soy Tu Amor, who is a bit shorter and has a (slightly strange) all-vinyl body:


At first I assumed that these two dolls had the same arm and leg mold, but their arms are actually a little bit different:


Amor has baby-like folds of skin around her wrists and puckers over her knuckles and at her elbows.  The creases on the insides of her elbows are also different than Maia's:



These dolls do have the exact same leg mold, though:


Even the little knee cap marks (that look like smiley faces...) are the same:


And the toe pattern on the feet is the same:


Amor's face does not have the same level of detail as Maia's face.  The area around her eyes is very smooth, her eyes are not as deep-set, and her chin is smaller.  She does have a very detailed mouth, though:



Here are the two faces together:



I think Maia looks more realistic than Amor.  For me, a lot of the difference is in the color and set of the eyes and in the extra eyelid detail that Maia has.  I also think Maia's mouth fits better with the rest of her facial features.  

Amor's relatively doll-like appearance made me temporarily re-think my wish to remove some of the contours around Maia's eyes.  Maybe those contours are playing an important role in her realism?



Despite their small difference in height and Amor's vinyl torso, these two can share clothes nicely...and of course they can share shoes perfectly!


Maia looks wonderful in Amor's outfit.  I love the combination of red hair and purple clothes.


Maia's dress also looks good on Amor, but the fit is a little loose:


Amor would make a really great little sister for the 18-inch dolls if she was just a bit shorter.  



I like my Amor, but I have to say that I really prefer the things that make the Every Girl dolls different.  First of all, I like Maia's face mold better than Amor's.  Also, Maia's hair has a nicer texture.  Most of all, though, Maia's armatured cloth body is much more fun to pose and play with than the all-vinyl body on the Soy Tu dolls.  There's a really big difference in these dolls' arms.  While Amor's arms are rigid and can make her hard to dress, Maia's arms have fantastic movement.   Both Maia and Amor have wonderful outfits, but I slightly prefer Amor's rich purple bubble dress with its lovely embroidered matryoshka doll.  The Soy Tu dolls might still be a preferable option for really young kids, mostly because of their easy-to-clean vinyl bodies and simple articulation.


Now here's Maia with my Ruth Treffeisen doll, Cristi Blue (a.k.a. Zooey).  Zooey is equivalent to the Paola Reina Las Amigas dolls.


Zooey offers a nice comparison because she has the same coloring as Maia.


Zooey's scale is much smaller than Maia's but somehow she manages to have very smooth facial features and look quite realistic.  She also looks older than Maia and would make a great 10-year-old.



Here are the two faces together:


Zooey's wide-set eyes do not open and close, but she has applied lashes and little eyelid creases.  She also has a very detailed mouth.  I adore Zooey's face.  I am not sure how her proportions would translate into the 18-inch scale, but I feel like it would have been a great match.  Zooey's smooth-but-realistic features have me back to wishing that Maia's eye contours were just a little less pronounced.

Last, here's Maia with my dramatic Las Reinas de Paola doll, Marta:


Marta has very wide, fixed eyes and a smooth face.  She also looks older than Maia.  



I think Marta is a gorgeous doll and Maia makes a cute younger sister for her.  Both dolls have nice posing abilities, but Maia's size, weight and joint style make her much, much easier to handle. 


Looking at the two together, I really like how Maia's closing eyes soften her appearance.  I also like the little hint of a smile on Maia's mouth.  It gives her face a lot of warmth and personality.  She makes Marta look startled in comparison:


I enjoy the diversity of the Paola Reina doll family.  There's a range of facial features, joint systems and body styles, and yet the dolls are all united by a few hallmark characteristics like their thick, highly detailed lips, beautiful hair and sparkling eyes.


I have really been looking forward to getting back outside and exploring Maine with a special doll.  Maia's arrival coupled with a stretch of 80 degree weather ended up being the perfect excuse.  I managed to get my first bad sunburn of the year while I was on this photoshoot (why do I make the same mistake every year??) but it was worth it.  Maia and I discovered a new park about 15 minutes away from my house that was just incredible.

The rocky coastline at this beach was no trouble for Maia's awesome pose-holding legs:


And she quickly found this warm, large rock that was perfect for sunbathing (maybe that was my mistake..?).


We relocated to a shadier spot near this beautiful birch tree, but as you can see, the lighting here was not as good for Maia.  Her detailed face shape can cast some strange shadows:


I edited out the most shadowy pictures, but here's one from the trash that really shows how Maia's face can catch the light in not-so-good ways:

She's getting crabby with me...
Eager to move out of her bad light, Maia spotted an outcropping that she really wanted to explore.


As she raced past me, I snapped this shot of her gorgeous hair, lit up by the sun:


When we reached the outcropping, Maia busied herself finding tons of little shells, each more interesting than the next.  I was especially proud of her for holding all of these shells so carefully by herself.


Maia was also fascinated by the exposed rocks that were plastered with little barnacles.  I explained to her that barnacles are related to shrimp--tiny animals that live on their heads in small shells and use their feet to grab yummy little particles that happen to float by.  I don't think she believed me, but she thought they were cool all the same.


After thoroughly exploring the shell-strewn beach, Maia found another warm, flat rock and asked if she could just rest for a second before we headed back to the car.


We both watched the gulls and sailboats go by for a few minutes...


...but when I got up to start heading home, I noticed that Maia was already drifting off to sleep.  It was a long, fun afternoon to mark the beginning of summer in Maine.


Bottom line?  I really like the Paola Reina America company.  Not only are they selling a great range of very high-quality, well-priced, Spanish-made dolls, but they don't seem to be in the habit of repeating themselves or copying anyone else.  The four Paola Reina dolls that I have been lucky enough to collect are all quite different from one another.  They are united by some common facial features and their nylon hair fiber, but they also have a neat range of face shapes and all have completely different body styles.  The Paola Reina company also doesn't seem prone to taking short cuts.  I assumed that the Every Girl dolls would essentially be Soy Tu heads and limbs attached to a plain cloth torso.  In reality, the only thing Maia shares with her Soy Tu cousins is her legs...and her cloth torso is anything but plain.

Maia's armatured body is perhaps the most noteworthy thing about her.  I don't know of a single other company that has put a beaded armature into a cloth-bodied 18-inch doll.  It's an excellent move.  Maia would have very simple articulation without this armature.  In fact, the flanged baby doll joints on their own would have rendered Maia much less flexible than some of the better-made strung dolls like American Girl and Maplelea Girls.  With the armature, though, she can hold her own against these other dolls.  She can even surpass many of them by being able to maintain so many poses on her own.  The armature manages to move easily while also staying where you put it.  I think my favorite thing about Maia's articulation is that she can hold all of her arms positions indefinitely...with absolutely no help from me.  Despite wishing for a few little nitpicky improvements here and there (some form of knee articulation would be amazing, and I'd love it if Maia could tip her head more...) this is probably the best style of 18-inch doll articulation that I have ever encountered.

Maia's other qualities are very consistent with what I have come to expect from Paola Reina.  She has beautiful, shiny, easy-to-manage hair, wonderful face paint and sparkling grey eyes that can open and close.  Her face is realistic and charming, although in my opinion she has a few too many contours around her eyes.  Maia's outfit is cute and unique and is made very well out of soft, natural fabrics. I wish the stripes on her dress lined up in the back, but that's a fairly small critique.  I even love the warm vanilla scent that comes on all Paola Reina dolls.

My only criticism of Maia is that I have some confusion about her intended age.  I think she has a very infant-like face shape and makes an adorable toddler, but the hairstyles and outfits in this line make me think that the Every Girls were designed to be closer to 8 or 10 years old--like most other 18-inch play dolls.  It certainly makes good marketing sense to have the Every Girls be compatible with other dolls, clothes and accessories that are available in this scale.  However, the Paola Reina company seems to have a pretty independent spirit, and so perhaps compatibility was not foremost on their minds when they invented this new collection of dolls.

I suppose another way of looking at this is that Maia actually has a very clever combination of features: her face allows her to be convincing as a toddler, while her hairstyle and outfit allow her to pass for an older girl, too.  When I look at Maia in isolation of my other 18-inch play dolls, she doesn't seem as incredibly young.  It's just the direct comparisons that make this hard to overlook.  In the end, each person will form their own ideas about how the Every Girls fit into their game or collection.  For me, Maia is a chubby little three-year-old, good at climbing and full of curiosity about the world around her...and she happens to have just a little bit of a temper.  Maia is my favorite Paola Reina doll to date, and easily among my top favorite dolls in this scale.  She doesn't have to coordinate with anyone to be a very special newcomer around here.  


25 comments:

  1. Great review as always, Emily. I saw this doll as a toddler too and the comparison with AG stops, for me at least, at the scale. I do see her as appealing to adult doll collectors and toddlers, but not to those in the age range of most AG doll collectors. Your observations are spot on and the older outfits you had her model brought the age disconnect out even more. This makes me think PR did not have AG in mind at all. Is the taste of the Spanish market different from the American in this respect perhaps? Time will tell I guess although the AG body seems itself to straddle a fuzzy age line, one that isn't convincing to me and why I own only one AG doll which I purchased from my niece. Maybe this confusion is the result of our own cultural blurring of the lines of how children are portrayed....Great expressiveness in this sculpt and innovation, I agree, but too serious somehow. I would have liked to see her have a bit happier more fun loving personality and more of a rounder toddler body to match. I think of the great vintage toddler dolls, Gabbigale, Saucy Walker, Kissy's body type and others. As for dolls made today, Maia reminds me a bit of JC Toys' equally serious Carla, a 14 inch doll I have been considering, which goes for about $50.

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    1. Thank you! I like your point about the Spanish market and how it might be slightly different. There have been some interesting conversations here in the past about some of the subtle differences between European and American doll tastes. I hadn't even thought of that!! I also totally agree with you that the typical 18" bodies are very ageless. I think Maia could be paired with American Girl dolls pretty easily--if they were all meant to portray younger kids. AG can really be any age you want them to be. They are more doll-like than trying to be realistic, in my opinion. I like dolls with a fun-loving expression, too, and think that many of the Paola Reina faces are very serious. Maia has a bit of a smile on her face that kind of comes out the more I get to know her. Wouldn't it be fun to see a new super-smiley face from this company, though? I bet it would be great. JC's Carla is very cute! I am glad you mentioned her. I haven't looked at those dolls in ages. I can see why Maia reminds you of her. She would make a fun review! :)

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    2. Yes, a super smiley doll from PR would be great! I'm sure they'd do something wonderful. Ideal Giggles is on my must have one day soon list. There's a custom African American version on ebay now that is really exceptional just way out of my budget at present..... My sister owns Adora's workout chic which has an infectious smile and is pretty popular and i count myself lucky to own Marie Osmond's My Perfect Pal.an amazing sculpt by Ping Lau.(Her Su-Lin baby put out by Paradise Galleries has been tempting me for this same reason. I love the expression!) I own a fair number of serenely beautiful dolls, but it's the ones with the happy grins that really steal the heart.

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  2. Maia is adorable, but I agree with you that her look is more like that of a toddler. I'm sure she'll have a place; it just may not be as a direct competitor to other 18" dolls.

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    1. Yes, I think that sums it up perfectly, Barb. And there are so many other 8 or 10-year-old 18" dolls on the market right now, perhaps trying to compete is silly, anyway! I really like this style of body for a toddler, so I am very happy to see a different age bracket in this scale!

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  3. Awesome review as always! Will you be doing a review on the 17-18 inches Monster High Gooliope Jellington doll soon? I'd love to see your opinions on her!

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    1. Thank you! And yes!! Gooliope arrives tomorrow. Yay! I am very excited!! :D

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    2. Yay!! Can't wait for your review! :DD

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  4. Hello from Spain: This doll is made in my country. She is a doll collector. I see your doll arrived disheveled. Too trip to your country. Fabulous and lovely photos. Great review.We keep in touch

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    1. Thank you very much! Yes, poor Maia had a bit of a rough trip, but you'd never know it now--she looks perfect. :) You must be proud to have such a lovely doll made in your country!

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  5. hi, thank you for all your reviews :) I am trying to find a new (better) pair of glasses for Dana, Journey Girl. Do you know if the American Girl glasses will fit her properly?

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    1. Hi Rhonda, thank you! I have one pair of American Girl glasses, and I tried them on my Kelsey. They're a bit on the tight side, so they sit up a little bit away from her nose, but they work. They won't fall off, at least! I don't have my Dana anymore, unfortunately. Maybe someone else can offer some better help?

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    2. Thanks Emily. The glasses that came with Dana are always falling off! So if I can get a pair that are tighter, that would be ideal :)

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  6. Wonderful review, as always. It was fascinating to see the armature/skeleton on this doll - what a unique feature on a doll of this size and style!

    Stylistically these aren't dolls that I'd normally be drawn to, but your photos and notes have certainly made me appreciate their features! And your beachfront photos of her are gorgeous - she (and her dress) seem to have the perfect colouring for that setting.

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  7. She's adorable! I'd love to see her compared to a Kidz n' Cats doll too! It would be interesting to see a comparison of the articulation.

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  8. She'd be a good playmate for the Effanbee Katie doll that's on ebay now or The Last Mimzy doll, Emma. Neither of those could ever pass much above toddler age either. I do think the new EG makes a good little sister to the 23" doll, but I am stuck on the jointed KnC dolls and Gotz dolls still. And still many, many other I want..... LOL!

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  9. What a cutie! Reading some of the comments makes me wonder if the differences between European and US doll aesthetics are part of the reason I've never been able to gel with ranges like American Girl - they just look 'wrong' to me somehow, though I've never been able to put my finger on exactly what it is about them. Maybe it's just that the tradition of that kind of little girl doll is weaker here in preference to baby / toddler dolls. Either way, loved the review! (I get ever more tempted to pick up a PR doll for my daughter, so I can borrow it...)

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  10. Hi Emily!
    For me, I think the "articulation" is be best part as it makes photographing them so much more fun like you've shown.
    I also can't get over how beautiful all of the Paola Reina lips are. The color and sculpting are perfect and so appealing to me. I have enjoyed all of your PR reviews, and this one was no exception. From a parent's perspective, I don't think my 6 year would be that interested (she actually likes the OG one the best out of my collection, surprisingly!), but I think my 3 year old would love this particular doll due to her child-like features. She's like a big, pretty, slightly older baby doll in a way. From a fellow collectors point of view, I would love her because of her beautiful hair! There is something so relaxing (and probably weird outside of this doll collecting bubble) about brushing good doll hair. :)

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  11. The "puffiness" of the eye contours, and the pre-2015 date stamped in the head, makes me wonder if Maia's face mold might have also been used to make heads on baby dolls. It would certainly explain a lot!

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  12. i thought i posted a comment but it looks like it didnt go through. i wondered if youve reviewed this brand of doll before? 18" Baellar Child Girl with She Little Baby Vinyl Dolls Playset Toy http://www.amazon.com/Baellar-Child-Little-Vinyl-Playset/dp/B00SOQ1ESO/ref=sr_1_2?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1436229196&sr=1-2&keywords=baellar+18%22 i like it because she is baby wearing!

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  13. I definitely think the European doll market prefers baby faces. I had no idea these were jointed though. That might make me rethink a purchase. My sister brought me back a Soy Tu Emma from France (it was the only Soy Tu should could find) and I LOVE her so I looked at the 18 inch but since they didn't make an 18 inch Asian, I decided not to worry about it. I am not a fan of the Every Girl face mold though. On Soy Tu dolls, the baby face isn't so bad to me since they're slightly smaller (we say Emma is waiting to grow) but, other than my Kmart $7.99 doll, Every Girl has the babiest face I've seen on an 18 inch.

    Another great write up! Thanks!

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  14. I have just found your site and am hooked! Thank you for such an amazing review of this little doll, I was unsure as to wether I would purchase one so your thorough review, and beautiful photography, has really helped. I had no idea they had white bodies though, which is still making me a little hesitant. Fab blog, will be following you for sure.

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  15. Not all toddlers have short hair! My 3-year-old doughter's hair is as long as Maia's, or even longer... And I love Maia's face, compared to all the others (except the other Paola Reinas) in this post. It really has an expresion, the others' dolls' faces look like made of stone.

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  16. Thank you for this article ! I already had the nice and sweet Amor and I've just bought Maia. I hope that she'll wear my Modes et Travaux outfits with no problems.

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  17. I actually own the "Zooey" version of Maia. She's the same size as Zooey, shares the same body, similar face, but has the dress and accesories as Maia. Her hair is a bit more blond, but her freckled face is still very cute.
    She's my first Paopla Reina's doll, and she came out of the box with a problem: her left eyelashes were falling off her eye, so I glued them back together.
    She still has her sweet smell.

    Glad you like the dolls that come from where I live. I didn't know Spain could make shuch good dolls until I bought my own PR doll.

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