Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Lollipop Girls by Jan McLean

It's not unusual for me to buy a doll for review and then get distracted by something else.  In fact, this happens quite a lot, and so my reviews are rarely written when they were originally planned.  However, I don't think I have ever procrastinated with a review quite as much as I did with this one.  I bought these Jan McLean Lollipop Girls back in...wait for it...June of 2012.  Three years ago.  Not long after I first started blogging, if you can believe it.

I had a variety of reasons for delaying this review, one of which was simply that the Lollipop Girls are long discontinued.  These dolls were made over a decade ago, during 2002 and 2003.  The 12-inch vinyl dolls that I will show you here are actually miniature versions of Jan McLean's 25-inch porcelain dolls of the same name.  Ms. McLean has not made very many vinyl dolls throughout her career.  This New Zealand artist is better known for her limited edition porcelain creations--a nice assortment of which has been archived for viewing at The Dollery.

Completely by coincidence, the delayed timing of this review might be strangely relevant.  Although Ms. McLean has not made any new dolls since 2009, she premiered a new collection of one-of-a-kind porcelain dolls at the International Doll and Teddy Show...just yesterday.  The dolls sold out within hours.

Jan McLean mini Lollipop Girls "Neena" (left) and "Cassie" (right).
The Lollipop Girls are fashion model characters that each come from a different region.  For example, the dolls in this review are "Neena from New York" and "Cassie from California."  There are also girls from other countries.  I didn't intend to review only characters from the United States, but Neena and Cassie were the easiest to find and least expensive to buy...back in 2012, anyway.  The dolls are actually still quite simple to find.  There are many listed on eBay and Amazon, and a few doll shops still carry a limited supply.  The vinyl Lollipop Girls originally retailed for around $25, and many of the characters can still be found in this price range.  A few of the more sought-after dolls sell for $50-$100.  

Ms. McLean's 25-inch porcelain Lollipop Girls were made in limited editions of 5,000 and originally cost around $200.  These are harder to find than the vinyl dolls and tend to fetch $100-200 on the secondary market.

In this post, I will do an in-depth review of the 12-inch vinyl Neena, and compare her to the 25-inch porcelain doll of the same character.  I will also take a quick look at the 12-inch Cassie doll.

The 12-inch Lollipop Girls come in flashy cardboard window boxes with reflective backdrops:


Neena is from the 2003 collection.  These dolls all came with miniature lollipops and stands.


The box is decorated along each side with head shots of all six dolls in the series:


The pictures are large enough that it's possible to get a pretty good sense for what all of the dolls look like--and pick some favorites.  

Here's the blue-haired Suzi-K from Seattle:


Neena (who I am reviewing in this post):


And the redheaded Milli from Milan.  I really like her coloring and shaggy bangs:


On the other side of the box are Kimmi from "Katmandu" (another favorite of mine) and Alani from Auckland:


At first I assumed that Kimmi was from Kathmandu (in Nepal)...but with the Bob Seger spelling.  However, one of the pamphlets that came with my dolls says that Kimmi is from Wales.  Is there a town called Katmandu in Wales?  I couldn't find one in my online searches, but that doesn't mean it isn't out there.

And last--my very favorite of all--Nicole from Norway:

She's lovely.  And expensive.
The alliteration in these names is kinda cute, but it started to feel forced to me after a while--especially because some of the names match countries and others match cities.  I'd rather see names that are authentic to their country...but I am a name freak.

The back of the box has a nice big picture of all six of these dolls standing together.  This is great for getting a look at their complete outfits:


2003 Lollipop Girls.
Nicole's white dress is super-short, but I think maybe there's a ballerina reference there?  I'll have to read about her.

Under the group photograph, there's a short description of the Lollipop Girls line: 

The dolls were made by "Unimax."
For me, the standout sentence in this description is: "A unique style, combining youthful innocence with grown-up confidence and attitude."  

This seems like a good time to mention that another reason for my delay in writing this review was that every time I went to the closet to look at these dolls, they'd come across differently to me.  One day I'd find them uniquely youthful and appealing, and then the next day they'd seem overly provocative and tacky--especially the blonde doll, Cassie.  It's strange.  I still have some of these conflicting emotions.  However, that quote on the box makes me realize that the dichotomy is intentional.  Whether or not the right balance was struck, well...that verdict will vary from collector to collector.  I think some of the dolls get the balance right and some do not.

The other 12-inch Lollipop Girl I bought is Cassie from California.  I'll review her after Neena, but I want to show you her box now.  She is from the debut ("Inaugural") 2002 collection, and so she has different dolls decorating her box:
  

There are six characters in the 2002 collection.  Here's the group photograph from the back of the box:

2002 Lollipop Girls.
There's a blurb under the photograph that's almost identical to the one on Neena's box...it just lists different names and locations:


The sides of Cassie's box have head shots of the six girls from 2002.  The alliteration is not as prevalent on this box as it was on Neena's.  There's a lot of implied alliteration, though.  Let's take a look:

First, there's Brigette (strange spelling...) from Germany and the pink-haired Cissy from Australia:


The names don't seem to match the dolls' region..until you look at the details.  In the pamphlet, it says that Brigette lives in Berlin, and Cissy is from Sydney.

Here's Pipi from France (this is another one of the most popular/expensive characters):


Pipi's full name is actually Pipi La Poo (seriously?) and she's from Paris.

Here is my doll (Cassie from California) with Lulu from England...


...but of course Lulu is more specifically from London.  The alliteration is alive and well.

And last, here's the fabulously green-haired Bebe from Barbados:


I want to jump ahead for a second and point out something that I noticed in the 2003 brochure--the one that came with Neena.  Here it is: 
 

This shows all twelve of the dolls and has little descriptions of their lives and personalities.  It's pretty entertaining to read.  I'm showing it to you here, though, because the names of the dolls are not completely consistent with what's on Cassie's box.  For example, Cissy is now called Sassi.  And Brigette is now spelled "Brigitte."  And Pipi La Poo's glorious name is now Pippi La Poo....which is an improvement.  Furthermore, all of the dolls' locations have been changed to the alliterative city names--not the countries.  Except for Norway and Barbados.  It's slightly confusing.  Another confusing thing is that while most of the 25-inch porcelain versions of these characters have the same names...not all of them do.  

Here's a list to keep everything straight:

2002 "Inagural Edition"of the 12-inch Lollipop Girls


Lulu (from London): purple hair, black dress. 26" doll is also called "Lulu."




Cassie (from California): blonde, black pleather vest. 26" doll is called "Bunny."




Pipi (from Paris): aka Pippi La Poo.  Brunette, red beret. 26" doll is called "Pipi La Poo."



Brigette (from Berlin): aka Brigitte.  Blonde with orange outfit. 26" doll is called "Brigette."




Bebe (from Barbados): green spiky hair, dark skin. 26" doll is also called "Bebe."



Cissy (from Sydney): aka Sassi.  Pink hair, leather jacket. 26" doll is called "Cissy."



2003 2nd Edition of the 12-inch Lollipop Girls



Suzi-K (from Seattle): blue hair, white coat.  There isn't a 26" doll.




Milli (from Milan): auburn hair, blue coat.  There isn't a 26" doll.



Neena (from New York): dark skin, denim jacket with pink collar. 26" doll is called "Neena."




Kimmi (from...Wales?): red hair, denim jacket. 26" doll is also called "Kimmi."



Nicole (from Norway): red hair, white dress. 26" doll is also called "Nicole."



Alani (from Auckland): blonde, black leather jacket with fur. 26" doll is called "Ally."



There was also a 3rd edition announced for 2004, but I have only ever seen promotional pictures of this collection--I don't think the 12-inch dolls were ever made.  This group would have included newly-styled versions of Kimmi (in a kilt!), Nicole, Alani, Brigette, Lulu and Sassi.

Now, it's high time we got back to the actual doll review!  I was able to open one end of Neena's box and pull her shiny, mirror-like backdrop right out:


Neena was attached to the backdrop with a few wire ties and some tape.  She also had a plastic strip in her hair--but I am no longer afraid of those things!  

The base of the stand came displayed in front with the doll, but the rest of the stand's pieces were tucked into a fold in the cardboard:


The pamphlet I showed you was enclosed within a plastic bag and taped to the back of the cardboard: 


Here's everything that was in the box:


As you've seen already, the pamphlet opens out like an accordion to reveal all twelve of the 2002 and 2003 Lollipop Girls:

2002 dolls are against a pink background, 2003 dolls are against a green background.
Each character has a short descriptive paragraph telling a little bit about where she comes from, where she currently lives, and what she enjoys doing.


Here's a close-up of Neena's description so that you can read it:


Basically, Neena is a witty college student who works part time as a model.  Most of the characters are around 19 years old--just out of high school.  They're all ridiculously successful models.  Because I seem to be in a list-making mood, here's a summary of the other eleven girls based on what I read:

Lulu: born in London, lives in Monaco.  Loves water sports and idolizes Audrey Hepburn.  Owns an upmarket organic bakery with her boyfriend, Yves.
Cassie: dog-loving cover girl from LA. Eats well and drinks a lot (of water).  Enjoys traveling the world, exercising with her personal trainer, and bonfires on the beach with friends.  You know, the "simple life."
Pipi/Pippi La Poo: travels, hangs with friends, looks great in jeans blah, blah, blah.  Also practices a Chinese martial art and is obsessed with tea. That's pretty unique for a doll bio.
Brigitte/Brigette: lives with her brother, loves the Stones and names all of her fish (I like this girl!).  At age 18, she owns a villa in Italy and is on her fourth Porsche (never mind).
Bebe: born in Barbados, lives in New York.  Unimaginably popular as a model (aren't they all?), this girl also loves animals and is a conservationist.  Cool.
Sassi/Cissy: constantly booked as a model, travels all over the world, collects art, etc...but she also enjoys gardening as is working on a film project. Yawn.
Suzi-K: fiercely private model from Seattle. Chooses her scooter over a limo.  Looks good in jeans...but wore a spacesuit to the Oscars one time.  Far out!
Milli: likes food, family, art, travel and shopping.  Lots of shopping.  She also speaks a zillion languages.  She's engaged and plans to have a gaggle of kids some day.
Kimmi: this is the Welsh girl who's from "Katmandu."  Aside from her mysterious origins, this character is a little generic.  The most interesting thing about her is that she has a dog named Caesar Shepherd. 
Nicole: from Lillehammer.  She likes Nordic skiing and jazz.  She also drives a convertible VW.  I told you she was my favorite.
Alani: likes sailing and fast cars.  Drives a BMW.  Has several homes.  Travels all over the world, but is proud of her native New Zealand.

If you didn't have the patience to read through all of that, I can summarize by saying they're all insanely rich.  There's a definite emphasis on crazy-expensive hobbies, fast cars, big homes and world travel.  I think I'm in the wrong profession.

Opposite the character descriptions, there are some photographs of the diverse fashion packs that are available for this line:


The outfit on Bebe, below, makes her look like a witch, but Cissy's sequined pants are awesome:


I kind-of like the powder pink ensemble Pipi is wearing here...

...but Cassie's Village People get-up?  Not so much.
The stand that came with Neena is unlike other 12-inch dolls stands that I have seen.  It came in three pieces:


When the pieces are put together, the grip of the stand is pretty low to the ground--at about thigh height for the doll:


The bottom of the stand has "Lollipop Girls" molded into it.  I like the logo for this brand, with a lollipop serving as a "p:"


The stand grips Neena at about knee level, like this:


It holds her up pretty well.


Neena came out of the box with the tape-covered plastic strip still in her hair, but it was pretty easy to zip apart and remove:


Here she is!


All of the Lollipop Girls come holding a small vinyl lollipop:


I am not sure if all of the twelve Lollipop Girls have different lollipops, but I know that at least Neena and Cassie's pops have different patterns on them.  Neena's is a multi-colored swirl:


Her hand is specially molded to hold this lollipop, but the pop is removable:


The surface of the lollipop is smooth with painted swirls over a white painted background.  The underlying pink vinyl can be seen on the lollipop stick:


Neena's hand position is a little awkward when she's not holding the pop, but it's not too bad:


She can put that hand in her pocket or even give a "thumbs up" to someone.

I think the Lollipop Girls all have the same face mold.  This face has full cheeks, large eyes and thick lips--although the length of the mouth is very short:


Neena's eyes are painted to be upward-glancing:


The eyes have both painted and applied lashes.  I tend to like the look of applied lashes--they can give doll eyes some nice depth.  My Neena has a few scraggly lashes on her left eye, but this isn't very noticeable in person.


The painting style in the eyes is unusual.  The irises are light brown, and they have darker brown speckles at the edges that thin out towards the pupil.  The pattern in these eyes reminds me of some kind of sea animal--like maybe a coral or a sponge?

Also, the pupils are painted more towards the top of the iris than the bottom.  Usually pupils are symmetrically-placed in the very center of the muscular iris.  The eyes look ok to me, though, so perhaps this is just a painting technique used to simulate three-dimensionality?

Neena's lips are metallic purple with a very dark outline:


It's a little funny to have the black lip liner extend between the lips, but it looks ok from a distance.

Neena came wearing purple goggles tied to the top of her head.  These pulled right out of their thread holders, making it easy to cut the thread and remove it from the hair:


The goggles fit (somewhat awkwardly) over Neena's ears:


It's hard to see in these pictures (and in real life) but the goggles have lots of thin lines (cracks?) running vertically down the lenses:



I prefer Neena without the glasses:


Her long brown hair has a few kinks left over from the plastic strip packaging and from the threads that held the goggles in place.  Otherwise, it is easy to manage and very smooth and shiny.



The rooting is typical for this size of doll, and the hair feels plenty thick:


I pulled the hair back into a ponytail to keep it out of the way.  I think Neena looks nice with this simple hairstyle:


I like the shape of her profile: she has a cute little nose, a slight overbite and a small, sloping chin:


She has little (unremovable) stud earrings:


Here's Neena in half-profile.  She has a rounded face, which is part of what makes her look so young:


Neena's makeup and outfit lend some maturity to her youthful facial features.  

She is wearing a fur-lined jean jacket over a cropped metallic tank top:
  

She is also wearing a pink thread-and-bead necklace that cannot be removed and doesn't hang very well inside the thick collar of the jacket.  You might have noticed in most of the previous pictures that the necklace is usually stuck right up against Neena's chin.  That was very typical.

The jacket has yellow stitched seams and stitched decorative pockets.  The buttons on the jacket are rhinestones with tiny metal mountings:


I tried to pull the jacket off to get a look at the tank top, but it was stitched in place and would not come off:


The jacket was sewn to either side of the tank top, but the threads were really hard to see:


I snipped the two thread loops and was able to get the jacket off.  It is unlined, and so all of the internal seams are visible:


The construction is great, but all of the visible seams look bad when the jacket hangs open on Neena.  There's no way to close this jacket, either, so it has to be positioned very carefully to hide the seams.

The pink fake fur is not stitched around the edges, but it doesn't appear to be in much danger of unraveling.  Here you can see the detail in the tiny rhinestone buttons--they are very impressive for a 12-inch doll outfit!


Here's the back of the jacket, with the collar intentionally flipped up so that you can see how the fur lining is separate from the jean jacket collar:


I like how Neena looks with just the tank top:


The tank has a simple shape and opens all of the way down the back with a velcro seam.  


The sleeves on the tank top are made out of black ribbon.  The pink necklace is a nice accent for this top:


Here's the tank top on its own:


The tank top is made out of a thin, silky knit fabric with metallic silver bars printed on it.  The fabric is thin enough to be a little transparent when it's held up to a light:


Neena is wearing capri-cut jeans with rhinestone-accented cuffs and a silver belt:


The belt is sewn to either side of the pants and does not loop all of the way around Neena's waist:


The belt is made out of plastic and painted string.  It has three rhinestone decorations.


I like the contrasting denim colors on these pants--and the fact that pockets actually open.

The pants are folded up at the bottom so that they fall just below the knee--right above Neena's silver high-heeled boots.  Each cuff has three mounted rhinestones:


The boots have a loose fit--especially in the heel and toe areas.  This makes it easy to get the boots off and back on again, but they feel a little flimsy and don't help Neena stand up on her own.  You can see in the picture, above, how the right boot flops off to one side.


Also, maybe you can see in this next picture that Neena's toe ends a few centimeters away from the toe area of the boot:


With her boots removed, Neena's jeans slide off pretty easily.  Underneath the jeans, she has these black mesh tights:



I wasn't sure what these were for at first, but when I tried to put the jeans back on a little later, I quickly figured it out.  Neena's legs are made out of bendable vinyl, and the friction between the sticky vinyl and the tight jeans makes it very hard to pull the jeans back on unless the tights are in place.  The mesh tights aren't super-easy to get on themselves, but once they're on, it does become possible to pull up the jeans.  I didn't say it became easy to pull up the jeans--it's still hard--but it is possible.

Neena is about 12.5 inches tall and has ten points of articulation.  Her torso and arms are made out of hard plastic and her head and legs are vinyl.



Neena is very long-limbed and has a skinny hourglass figure.  I was excited to see that she has an extra joint in her waist:


Jan McLean's signature is printed on Neena's back, with an April 2003 date:

That's a nice touch.
Neena's head can look up and down to some degree:


It can spin all of the way around...


...and also tip slightly from side to side:


My doll has a little glitch that causes her to look upwards when her head turns to the right (this doesn't happen on the other side):


Neena has rotating hinge shoulders:



And rotating hinge elbows:


Her elbow joints have a metal pin in them, which is slightly unusual.  Also, notice the sharp angle in the joint area of the upper arm--this makes the flexibility of this joint excellent:


Not only can Neena put her hand on her hip or on her belly...


But she can touch her forehead:


And almost touch the lower half of her face, too:


Neena's left hand (the non-lollipop hand) has a relaxed shape that is fun to pose.  The fingers are decorated with greenish-yellow fingernail polish:


Neena's torso joint spins all of the way around, but does not tilt from side to side at all:


The hip joints are stiffer than the rest of the joints because this is where the hard plastic body meets the rubbery legs.  The legs are actually quite solid-feeling at the top, but get more and more bendy below the knee.

Neena can't do much in the way of a side-to-side split:


But her front-to-back splits are great:


And she can sit on the ground with her knees pretty close together:


She has internal click knee joints.  I got these to bend into two positions...and then didn't dare try for a third.  The joints feel more solid than the current Disney Store doll knee joints.

Neena's knees don't bend quite enough for her to sit comfortably in a chair--although this is partly because of her extra-long thighs:

She just needs a bigger chair!
She has medium-high arches and no toe detail:


It was a fun challenge to try and think of other 12-inch fashion dolls that might have bodies similar to Neena's.  I started with some of the classics: Monster High and Barbie.

Monster High Clawdeen, Lollipop Girls Neena, Barbie Style doll.
As you can see, Neena is taller than both of these girls, and is (surprisingly) quite a bit thinner than Barbie.  She also has a curvier shape than Clawdeen.  One thing that stands out to me in the picture, above, is that Neena's lower legs are the same height as Barbie's--all of the extra height is in her thighs!  Those are some long thighs.  Also, Neena's waist is almost as tiny as Clawdeens, and yet these two would never be able to share clothes because of their different hip and shoulder sizes.

Neena's long legs made me want to compare her to my Hi:Glamm doll, Pam:

Hi:Glamm Pam, Lollipop Girls Neena.
Pam has the longest doll legs I have ever seen, but Neena is not too far off!  Pam's torso proportions could not be more different from Neena's, though.  These two cannot share clothes.

I don't think there's another fashion doll out there who's quite like Neena, but the closest match I could find was a Winx Club doll.  Here's Neena with Tecna:

Lollipop Girls Neena, Winx Club Tecna.
Tecna is shorter and does not have quite the same extremes in her measurements as Neena, but a little bit of clothes-sharing is possible.  Neena's clothes look pretty nice on Tecna (the pants are long and loose, but it works for pictures...):

Winx Tecna wearing Lollipop Girls clothing.
And Tecna's dress fits Neena, but it's really tight and way too short:  

Neena trying to wear Winx Club clothing.

*Update: I don't know how I forgot the Pullip/J-Doll crowd, but thanks to Barb, I can show you another doll with some clothes-sharing potential!  Here's Neena with my J-Doll:

Lollipop Girls Neena and J-doll Josephsplatz.
There's an obvious height difference, but these two have similarly skinny hourglass figures.  Josephsplatz is a little wider in the hips and shorter in the torso.  She can wear Neena's outfit, but the pants are a little long and the top doesn't quite fit her shoulders and chest correctly--the straps stick up:
It's still a pretty close fit.
Neena has a bit more luck wearing the J-Doll clothes since she is slimmer than Josephsplatz.  I actually love how this outfit looks on her--the skirt even matches the necklace!


So...there are a few more options for clothes-sharing than I originally thought.  Thank you, Barb! :D

Now that you have had a good look at the 12-inch Neena, I'd like to show you her 25-inch porcelain counterpart:

12-inch vinyl Lollipop Girls Neena with the 25-inch porcelain Neena.
I bought this doll on eBay for a steal (~$100), but it ended up being a very frustrating transaction.  The doll had never been removed from her original wrappings, but she arrived very dirty (dusty) and with a badly broken neck.  The seller and I did not see eye to eye, and so I decided I would keep Neena and try to fix her with some crazy glue and air dry clay.  This didn't work the way I imagined.  Herein lies the main reason I have delayed this review for so long: a very expensive broken doll that I was unable to fix.  I tend to try and forget things like this...which is not conducive to writing a review.

But now--after three years--I can see everything in perspective and appreciate my poor broken Neena despite her flaws.  Maybe you won't even notice the broken neck in these pictures.  I have stopped noticing it myself.


I really love it when dolls have miniature versions, and so I was thrilled to see all of the parallels between big Neena and mini Neena.  

The porcelain Neena's outfit is very similar to the 12-inch doll's outfit, but it has a few nice additional details.  For example, the jean jacket is lined with a shiny, multicolored fabric that looks modern and hides all of the seams and threads:


Neena's necklace has a large blue rhinestone flower that matches the jacket lining.  This necklace looks good, but the black chain has scuffed Neena's neck in a few places:


This large jacket is decorated in almost exactly the same way as small Neena's jacket--with rhinestone buttons and stitched details.  The fur lining is higher quality, though, and is sewn into the jean jacket with no loose edges:


When the jacket is removed, it's easier to see the different colors in the lining and also appreciate the finishing on this piece:


Removing the jacket also revealed the structure of Neena's body.  Her torso, neck and lower arms are made out of porcelain, but her upper arms are stuffed cloth:


This looks awkward (especially at the shoulder joint) but the cloth section of each arm has a wire armature and a lot of flexibility, which is nice.



Neena is wearing rolled-up jeans and silver boots, just like the smaller doll:


This doll's belt is fancier than the 12-inch version, though.  It is made out of metal and the button-shaped links are decorated with glossy blue paint:


This belt is also sewn to the sides of the jeans with thread, but the attachments are different on each side--there's a hoop on one end and a bar on the other, almost like the bar is supposed to fit into the hoop to hold the belt in place:


The jeans close in back with two metal snaps.

Neena's boots are very tight-fitting, but they're made out of a stretchy silver fabric that slides off pretty easily.  One unfortunate thing is that the fabric on my doll's boots doesn't handle the stretching very well.  The fabric seems very old and has lost some of its elasticity.


Once Neena's boots were removed, I was able to pull her jeans off.  I was surprised to see that the tank top on this doll is actually a bodysuit:


This Neena has really beautiful hair.  It's brown at the top, but it has red highlights that get more and more pronounced towards the ends.  She's almost a redhead:


The hair is wigged, and the texture is a little dry.  There are a lot of stray flyaway hairs (especially around Neena's face) that are difficult to control.  I don't think this doll has been very well cared for over the years, so her hair might just be dirty.

I love the color!
A section of hair right behind Neena's bangs is pulled back into a thick ponytail and is decorated with a little rhinestone dragonfly:


The dragonfly is mounted on a metal spiral that can be twisted onto a rubber band:


I pulled Neena's hair back to get a good look at her face.  Her bangs are very thick and a little hard to get out of the way, though:


I think her face looks very different from the 12-inch doll's painted face.  The biggest differences are probably the eyes and the length of the mouth.  The large Neena has beautiful, dramatic, side-glancing glass eyes framed by thick top and bottom lashes:


The dark brown eyes have a yellowish iris pattern that reminds me of electricity:



This Neena's mouth is wider than the vinyl doll's mouth.  Her lips are painted pink and lined with a slightly darker pink--the look is not quite as dramatic as it is on the smaller doll.


Here's Neena's full body: 

That is a crazy tiny waist.
As an aside, the stand is just a board with two long nails sticking up out of it.  Neena has holes in her feet to accommodate the nails.

Neena's hips are tightly stuffed cloth and her long legs are all porcelain:



Here are a few pictures of Neena back in her clothes:  




The outfits on the two Neena dolls are really similar--they'll be very fun to display together.  

I find the two faces quite different, though.  Little Neena has a darker complexion, lighter eyes and monochromatic brown hair.  She also doesn't have bangs, which I think is great.  It's a lot easier to see her face and style her hair.  I think the larger doll looks even younger than the 12-inch doll.  Perhaps it's just the lighter makeup and bangs?


Despite the facial differences, there's a clear family resemblance here.  It's neat to see how Jan McLean's signature style has been translated into a small vinyl doll.


I have to mention that getting little Neena re-dressed for these pictures was a pain.  I mentioned already that her jeans are really hard to pull on, but the tight sleeves of her jacket are also difficult to wrangle.  A lot of loose threads got stuck on her fingers and pulled through the sleeve:


The tank top and boots are easy to get on and off, but the other items of clothing do not seem well suited to play.  I get the sense that these dolls were not intended to be used by small children.

Here are a few last pictures of the vinyl Neena by herself:




I still like her best without her cumbersome jacket:




My camera loves this doll.


I really like the little Neena doll.  In fact, I grew to like her more and more throughout her photo session.  She's fun to pose, her hair is silky and easy to manage and she's very unique.  Her unusual eyes and child-like face took a little getting used to, but now I see her features as very sweet.  I suspect her face inspires some extra maternal affection in me.  I still don't think she fits her jet-setting, ultra-rich supermodel persona (at all), but she's great as a young, fashionable teen.


I want to quickly show you my other Lollipop Girl, Cassie.  She offers an interesting contrast to Neena, and I'll tell you right off the bat that I do not like her as much.

Cassie is from the earlier Inaugural (2002) collection.  She comes in the same style of box as Neena, but she does not have a stand.



She does come with her own lollipop accessory, though:


Here she is borrowing Neena's stand:


Cassie's lollipop is red and white with little modeled swirls:



This doll also comes with a red purse that is stitched to her left shoulder:



The purse is made out of shiny red imitation leather.  It's very small, and the fabric seems too stiff to capture the lines of the purse in a graceful way.  It's a little lopsided and sloppy:


And it doesn't open:


Cassie has platinum blonde hair with heavy bangs.  The hair right behind her bangs is pulled back into a ponytail and decorated with a huge red ribbon bow.


I am almost positive that Cassie has the same head mold as Neena, and the style of her face paint is the same--with speckled, upward-glancing eyes:




I pulled the bangs back with a rubber band to give you a better look at Cassie's (very dark) eyebrows:


Cassie has blue eyes and matching blue eyeshadow.  She has painted lashes, but does not have applied lashes:



Cassie's mouth is painted bright, shiny red and looks even smaller than mini Neena's mouth:


Cassie is wearing a shiny black imitation leather vest over a white blouse.  She has a simple black ribbon choker around her neck:




The leather vest is partially lined with black fabric:


Cassie's white blouse has a collar (that won't lay flat...), lace cuffs on the sleeves, and three decorative black bead buttons.  The actual closure of the shirt is with velcro (but it doesn't quite close all of the way).



My doll's shirt is slightly discolored--maybe just from dust and age, or maybe from being next to the black vest for so many years.  There are quite a few yellowed areas, although they don't show up very well in pictures.



The construction of the shirt is quite detailed, although the wonky collar and the yellowed areas conspire to make it look a little shabby.


On the bottom, Cassie is wearing a black imitation leather skirt with a fringed hem.  She has thigh-high red imitation leather boots.


The skirt has a rhinestone belt and a thread fringe:


The belt looks great.  It is attached at the back of the skirt on each side, right next to the velcro seam.  Most of the belt is loose, though, and is a little hard to keep in place.  It slips up towards the blouse a lot.


The skirt is solidly-made, but it doesn't have one of those little strips of fabric (you know, the ones that go between a doll's legs like underwear?) to keep the skirt from riding up...so the skirt rides up a lot.


Cassie's boots are made out of really thin imitation leather.  This material is a lot like the porcelain Neena's boot fabric.  It doesn't handle stretching very well and leaves white cracks anywhere that the fabric is being stressed.


The lines do not go away when the boot is relaxed, either:



Under her outfit, Cassie is wearing simple black mesh underpants:


I don't like the style or the fabric of Cassie's red boots, so I was hoping that she could borrow some of  Barbie's shoes.  Unfortunately, these shoes are too small:


Even with the poor fit, I prefer the look of the simpler shoes with Cassie's outfit--although these shoes make the skirt look very short, and make Cassie's legs look really, really long!



Here are a few more picture of Cassie back in her full outfit:


The boots are pretty hard to get back on, but not as hard as Neena's jeans.



I prefer Cassie's outfit with the black leather vest removed:


I discovered that if I untuck the blouse, it helps to keep the skirt from riding up (although this also hides the nice rhinestone belt):



I also tried Cassie with her own skirt and Neena's tank top. For this look, I removed the red bow from Cassie's hair.  

I think she looks best like this--with a more relaxed top and just a few subtle red accents:


This gives me hope for Cassie.  I think I would have been drawn to her a lot faster if she had come in a more toned-down outfit...or even in an outfit that felt quirky-extreme instead of tacky-extreme.



Here are a few pictures of my two Lollipop Girls together:



And a final portrait of each of them:



Bottom line?  The quality of the hair, body construction, articulation, face paint and clothing on the Lollipop Girls is very good--with only a few exceptions.  These dolls also have the added value of a renown artist's special style and vision, which is the kind of thing I treasure.  As a whole, the Lollipop Girls strike me as excellent dolls for their original $25 price--particularly for those who enjoy their unique aesthetic.

The Lollipop Girls have several unique features, the most striking of which is probably the face.  The faces on these dolls definitely reflect Ms. McLean's distinctive style.  I get the feeling that I could swap a Lollipop Girl head onto a child doll's body and it would look great.  This baby-faced youthfulness combined with mature makeup and clothing brings to my mind some of the Madame Alexander characters--particularly Jason Wu's Cissy.  I actually find Madame Alexander dolls more extreme in this respect, as they often make me think of small children playing dress-up.  The young face works with Neena's outfit and makeup, but starts to bother me with Cassie.  Cassie's big hair bow enhances her chubby, almost toddler-like features, but those same features make her shiny pleather outfit and thigh-high boots seem off-puttingly provocative to me.  The twelve Lollipop Girls strike this delicate balance between youth and maturity with different levels of success...and of course that success will be measured differently from collector to collector.  When I look over the entire Lollipop collection, I find most of the dolls and their outfits fun and creative, with only a few that I would avoid.  There are at least three more dolls that I would really like to own some day.

Another refreshingly unique thing about the Lollipop Girls is the style of their bodies.  They have proportions that are quite different from my other fashion dolls in this scale.  This makes clothes sharing limited, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make in order to have something truly different.  I like the exaggerated, long-limbed proportions on these dolls.  I also find their hand shapes to be interesting and fun to play with.  And of course I love the level of articulation.  I am never thrilled with internal knee joints and rubbery legs, but these dolls have over-achieving elbow joints that help make up for their leg deficiencies.

I feel differently about the clothing on my two dolls.  Neena's outfit looks great and has some fantastic details--like the little mounted rhinestones, working jean pockets and studded belt.  I also love the easy-to-use, attractive tank top.  However the outfit has some obvious flaws.  For example, the jacket is unlined and so it doesn't look good when it's hanging open...and yet there's no way to close it.  Also, the pants are really difficult to get on over the rubbery legs.  The mesh stockings under the pants help with this, but it'd still be frustratingly hard for a younger child to manage.  Heck, it's frustratingly hard for me to manage.  For collectors who don't intend to redress Neena very often, the outfit is great.  On the other extreme, there's very little about Cassie's outfit that I like.  I appreciate the style of the blouse and think it goes well with the mini skirt, but it has a wonky collar and doesn't close completely in front. The imitation leather fabric of the boots is low quality and splits wherever it is stressed.  I also just don't think all of that shiny imitation leather looks good.  It's pretty tacky.  My overall impression of the clothing is that it's well-made and has a fun mix of styles, but the fabric quality is varied and many of the pieces do not seem well-suited for play.

Getting to know the Lollipop Girls has been quite a process.  Reading about Jan McLean, tracking down (and trying to fix) one of the porcelain dolls, finding the right vinyl dolls (and choosing favorites!), learning the names of all of the characters, exploring the unique body and face styles of these girls...it's been like a big adventure.  This kind of immersive experience is one of my favorite things about being a doll collector.  However, as much as I adore doll quests like this one, they do not always lead me to an actual doll that I am fond of.  This particular quest has a happy ending, though, in the form of 12-inch Neena.  I liked Neena right out of the box, and grew to appreciate her even more throughout the review process.  My affection for Neena helps me see Cassie in a more favorable light, and makes me want to add a few more of the vinyl Lollipop Girls to my collection.  One last and unexpected result of Neena's influence on me is that I will certainly watch with great interest as Ms. McLean makes her long-anticipated comeback into the doll world.

31 comments:

  1. I remember seeing ads for the bigger Lollipop Girls in doll magazines of that time. I think she also made a line called French Floozies? I think they would go over well today; they had a very steampunk feel.

    Have you tried mixing and matching outfits with other 12" dolls? I've read some of the LG clothes may work with some kinds of the Pullip/J-Doll bodies.

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    1. P.S. I did a review a while back of Lottie's horse Seren, if you're interested.

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    2. Argh! How did I forget the Pullips and J-Dolls, Barb?! Thank you so much! I added in some pictures of Neena happily wearing my J-Doll's outfit. Good call! I did hold Neena up to my Hestia doll a few days ago, but for some reason I dismissed her instantly. Maybe the big head threw me? Duh. You're awesome. :D

      I will hop over and read your review! I am very curious to know what you think of Seren's eyes...

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  2. WAHH-OWW! I LOVE theeese! It's rare for me to come across a doll I haven't heard of before. The face is reminiscent to me of fashion icon Sindy. I think Neena is wonderful and your porcelain is stunning. What a unique body. Thanks to your beautiful pics, now I know of them.. But I hope I can still manage to get some for a nice price on ebay after your drool inducing review!

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  3. These dolls are very interesting and seem very articulated for the time they were released, I love love love your blog do people invite you to doll conventions or meetings? Your almost an authority in doll colecting lol, btw do you plan on reviewing the new 17 inches monster high dolls? Im very curious about them. :) Luiz

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  4. Thank you Emily, I now have a couple of her porcelain dolls on my ebay watch list. They are beautiful. A certain innocence with porcelain, the vinyls come across as street walkers.
    A treat as always, tina

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  5. I did a double take on this review when I first saw it; years ago when I was still a child I actually had a Cissy! I didn't know anything about her at the time, and never thought to look up anything on her.

    This review was a lot of fun for me for that reason, I'm very happy you made it. :) Might have to go through my mom's storage to see if she's still around.

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  6. Jem dolls use the same type of leg grip stand.

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  7. The pupils remind me a little of octopus pupils. I'm not a fan. (Of the pupils on these dolls. Octopuses are cool!)

    I bet these dolls would look AMAZING skillfully repainted.

    Wonderful review, as always. Thank you.

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  8. I really like the Lollipop girls. I'm kicking myself now for not buying my favourite, Pipi, back when they were in Meijers stores for a really good price.They remind me of the Susie Slicker/Sad Eyes dolls I have always loved. Doyou think the problem with the boots is the same as with some of the Barbie imitation leather? It gets sticky when it gets older and just starts to disintegrate and flake off the backing fabric.

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  9. I've admired this line when I've run across them, but never owned any. I really like the clothing, but the super-sweet, almost child-like faces don't really seem to go with the bodies/clothing. The faces are adorable, but they just look really young to me. The face on the large doll is (somehow) even sweeter and more child-like to me, and somehow gives me the impression of a little girl playing dress-up. I think they could be a lot of fun to redress/restyle, though! I'd love to find some of these gals for my own collection.

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  10. I think Google might have eaten my comment, so I'll try again, sorry for potentially double-posting.

    I find them interesting, but also a bit weird, why is Nicole from Norway and not from Oslo or Trondheim when almost all the others (not sure about Katmandu) are from cities?
    Also, I think she looks more British than Norwegian/Scandinavian, dark blonde hair would be more appropriate, there aren't many redheads here, and even fewer if you only count naturals.
    Most of all I wish they'd given her a name that was at least remotely Scandinavian. Nicole isn't even pronouncable in Norwegian, we'd have to do the English pronunciation, or just botch it
    (as a Norwegian with an English name, I have personal experience with the "fun" of living with a name Norwegians couldn't pronounce (Seinfeld fixed this for me, fortunately)).

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    1. Ah, i just read the part where they state she's from Lillehammer. Heh, likes skiing and comes from the winter Olympic city, how original. I'm happy she has a home place at least (I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume she commutes to Oslo for her modelling career).
      I also love that she drives a convertible. You go girl, don't let practicality and the snow and wind get to you! ;P
      Though you only said she comes from Lillehammer, so she might be driving her convertible somewhere else?

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  11. I dunno, I don`t find them cute... and gee, people say Barbie`s thin!This isn`t related t the review, but I wondered if Kurhn shoes fit Prettie Girls feet, or if Lamilly shoes fit Prettie Girls feet. I would have commented n the original review, but nah

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  12. Eek! I've been waiting for this review since your Panama Blog, back in 2012, and It was worth the wait! Great review, and that picture of big Neena with little Neena had me giggling the entire review! Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman, anyone? Although with the scale, it would probably be Attack Of The Fourteen Foot Woman. Thanks!
    -Alex

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  13. I'd never heard of these but I love their faces! The eyes remind me of those 70s big eye paintings.

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  14. Interesting dolls! I like Cassie a bit more than Neena, she looks more friendly to me.
    When you took of Neena's jacket my initial thought was: 'Holy skinniness, Batman!' Those dolls have some TINY waists!
    I hope you find a reasonably priced Nicole one day, she looks very sweet. :)
    Best wishes!

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  15. What interesting elbow articulation on the smaller dolls! And I don't think I've ever seen a body composition quite like that of the porcelain doll either. It may have taken you a few years, but this is definitely a review that was worth waiting for! :)

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  16. Pipi is the childish french word for piss...... -_-

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  17. They all have a beautiful eyes, but their waist is too slim for me.

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  18. So this might be a bit of a stretch, but I though you might consider reviewing another Hi-Glamm doll? (Blast from the past, I know.) One of them is for sale on Amazon for $22, and she's wearing cute modest clothes! http://www.amazon.com/Hi-Glam-Fashion-Doll-Alex/dp/B000RFUGHA/ref=sr_1_1 (Hope that link works, if not, just amazon search "hi glam alex".)

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  19. I'm really not a fan of those dolls. Moreover, I was kind of surprised at the ridiculous name of the French one (being French myself), as written above, Pipi is the childish word for pee, which would make any French laugh ! This shows the lack of knowledge from the manufacturer about the culture of the country the doll is supposed to come from !

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  20. I reaaaaalllly thought the reflective spots on Neena's lips were two big buck/gapped teeth. It's certainly a bit of a 'look' now, in some ways (and I have a gap, I mean no negativity in that) but it seemed really overdone, as it often does in fashion as well. I was a little shocked. Then I finally saw it, lol.

    Still can't unsee it personally, in the less tight angles XD I'm sure it's just where the contours in the lip sculpt fall, but still amuses me c:

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    1. I couldn't decide why she was familiar last night, but now I got it: Chloe!

      I'll link a full article, so anyone who hasn't can see the cute video (if they want). So sassytoddler cute :D
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2432922/Utah-toddler-shoots-parents-surprise-Disneyland-invitation-stink-face-funny-YouTube-video.html

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  21. Katmandu is definitely nowhere near Wales - and no, Welsh people don't wear kilts. (Well, they can if they like...) - Jocelyn

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  22. I got a Pipi back in 2003, and I've since customized her. When I tried to remove the face paint, I discovered that her lips have sculpted lines and indentations. I finally got all the paint off (and staining from red earrings) by using acetone. Other than the small waist, she has a torso somewhat similar to Momoko. Pipi is the only other doll I have who can wear the "Antique Dreaming" Momoko dress and not drown in its sleeves.

    I managed to find an ad for the 12-inch figures, amid the doll magazines I've saved. Pipi had ribbons to tie her shoes around her ankles, which aren't shown in the ad prototype. The belts on Cassie and Pipi are gold in the ad, too, but Pipi's belt looks like the one your Cassie has. Her shorts also resemble Cassie's skirt, aside from the fringe. I think the bag that Pipi is wearing (you can see the shoulder strap) is the one that ended up with Cassie, too.

    You already helped influence my purchase of a Gooliope, and now I'm tempted to track down another Lollipop Girl, hehehe.

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  23. I have a number of these dolls and love them, most of the time. I have played with the idea of removing a head and attaching to a different body, but am afraid I'll ruin it! Do you have any idea how the head attaches? I have researched on line, but have never found anyone that has tried it.

    Thanks for a great blog! I love reading it and truly appreciate the work you do. Michelle

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    1. I've removed the head before. It's a harder plastic than Barbie heads, so you have to heat it longer. (I use a heating pad.) Here's a photo of the headless body. The head attaches similar to how Barbie heads work, but the neck opening is a lot smaller. You'll either have to carve out the opening to fit on the new neck, or you can look for a body with a small neck (maybe a child-like figure, like an Obitsu 23cm). Hope that helps!

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  24. Not my first time reading, but I'm back again because, at a second hand store that was closing, I was able to get Cissy, Pippi, and Lulu! I'm only going to Lulu, though. The other girls' coloring triggers my ocd. They were a steal at $7 a piece, though, and drew me in because I recognized them! So thanks!

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  25. Hi, I absolutely loved loved loved your review of my funky little lollipops.
    Your photos are brilliant as are your ideas. Thank you.
    Jan (herself)

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  26. Plan in the realistic structure. Possibly you can make it yourself or you can procure a specific craftsman.
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