It's unfortunate that I confused the new Style dolls and the Made to Move dolls in my head, because my reaction to these two collections could not be more different. While I'm underwhelmed and uninterested in the re-designed Style series, the Made to Move dolls are pretty much a dream come true: an affordable, attractive, well-articulated play doll.
Meet the lovely Made to Move Teresa:
|Made to Move Barbie (Teresa), $14.99.|
Teresa comes in a relatively simple plastic box with a cardboard back. The box is not huge or fancy, but I find it very appealing. The light-handed use of the color pink--combined with the bold black Made to Move label--will make these boxes easy to identify when they join the myriad of other Barbie products on the shelves:
The back of the box has a photograph of the three non-exclusive dolls in the series:
I just love the mix of colors here--both on the box and in the dolls' outfits. Asha will fit right in with her coordinating lime-colored top. The four dolls make a wonderful collection.
|Three different skin tones.|
The plastic front of the box pulled right off. It was lightly glued around the edges and then held in place a bit more securely at the bottom with a few plastic tabs. These tabs were easy to detach.
Teresa is mounted against a molded plastic base and is posed so that she's sitting on a square cardboard outcropping. She is held in this position with a few clear rubber bands and a long plastic tie around her waist. She did have two plastic ties in her head as well, but these were not super tight and were easy to snip.
It took seconds to get her disconnected from the backdrop.
The background behind Teresa has some fun doll photographs showing the girls engaged in a variety of activities:
|These girls need a better horse...|
I get the sense that the marketing team was having a lot of fun with these dolls--and no wonder. They can kneel, ride horses, ride bikes, play the guitar...Barbie is even sitting cross-legged in one of the shots!
Teresa does not come with any accessories. She is also barefoot, but this makes sense given her exercise-themed outfit. Even without a stand or shoes, she can balance quite well on her own:
The only trouble I had with balance during this review came from the fact that Teresa's ankles are weaker than the rest of her joints. When she fell over, it was almost always because her ankles gave out.
Teresa looks graceful and athletic, and I'm drawn to her friendly, realistic face. For those who are growing tired of the large-headed, bug-eyed dolls that have become so popular recently, she will be a welcome contrast:
Teresa has a nice, open-mouthed smile with visible teeth and dimples. This is a new Teresa face mold for 2015 (marked 2014 on the back of the neck). This face can also be seen on the "Glam Night" Style Teresa.
I like the natural face-up on this doll, particularly the distinctive thick eyebrows with no lined hair detail. The light brown eyes have a few blotches and streaks of running paint that are visible when the camera is zoomed in, but these defects are very hard to see at normal magnification.
Teresa has long brown hair with some layering and curl at the ends...at least on one side:
On my doll, the curl at the bottom of the hair is set at an angle, so it pretty much disappears on the far left side:
The hair is very soft, smooth and shiny, though. It even has some subtle streaks of lighter brown mixed in for a very realistic appearance:
The rooting is nice (with no big bald patches) and the hair is easy to manage and attractive overall. The head is also soft and squishy, with no hard glue inside. Hurrah!
Teresa is wearing what looks like a yoga outfit, with a bright layered top and black stretch pants:
The top does not have an opening seam in the back:
It's made out of a stretchy fabric and can be pulled off over Teresa's head:
Here's the top on its own:
The inner edge of the neckline seam tends to roll out a little bit, but it can be made to lay flat again.
The shirt is not actually layered, but has a yellow section attached at the very bottom. There's a band of elastic included at this seam so that the stitching does not restrict the stretch in the fabric. There's also elastic around the neckline:
It's a very nicely made item, although it sheds little neon yellow particles every time I take it off or put it on. Presumably these are from the edges of the yellow fabric at the bottom of the shirt.
Teresa's pants are very simple, but they're made out of the same thick, smooth, stretchy knit fabric as the shirt. They look and feel nice...and they move well.
The pants do have little creases at each knee from the rubber bands in the packaging.
Overall this is a simple, practical outfit that perfectly fits the theme of the doll. I was especially happy with the simplicity because I wanted to hurry up and get a look at the body!
As I was removing the outfit, I kept uncovering more and more joints. It was amazing. Overall, Teresa has 22 points of articulation (counting the double-jointed elbows and knees as two joints each).
The joints are fairly attractive, too. The most unsightly areas are at the tops of the arms (but I think this just ends up looking muscular...) and the insides of the double-jointed elbows and knees:
The opposite sides of the double joints are smooth and look more natural.
There are some slight color discrepancies in the skin tone in these pictures--especially between the torso and the arms. I honestly did not even notice this until I was looking at the photographs. It's very subtle in person.
As a bit of an aside, all four of the Made to Move dolls have a different skin tone (very smart, Mattel!). I do not have any information yet about the names or matches for these different colors. Sorry! I suspect these dolls will be highly sought-after for body swaps, though.
Teresa's head can look up, down and all around. Like most Barbie dolls, she has great head mobility.
Her shoulder joints are rotating hinges. When her arms are lifted straight up to the side, though, the hinge joint only allows them to go this far:
Of course because of the rotation in this joint, her arms can be maneuvered into any angle you might want.
Just below the shoulder joints, there's an extra point of rotation. This allows the lower part of the arm to be rotated in and out without moving the shoulder:
This means that Teresa can have the palm of her hand facing out (above) or in (below) without moving her actual hand.
The rotation in the upper arms compensates for the fact that the elbow joints do not have any rotation. Instead, these areas are double-jointed--with a fantastic range of movement.
Teresa can almost touch her lower arm to her upper arm when the elbow is bent:
The elbows certainly look less realistic than standard hinged elbow joints, but this doesn't bother me in the slightest. The joints feel robust (which is critical) and there's been a nice effort to keep the appearance as natural as possible.
Teresa's wrists also have hinged rotation, but they can't quite bend to a 90 degree angle:
The combination of joints in the arms offers a wonderful, fun range of positions.
I love how easily this doll can touch her face, chest and head.
She can reach her hand around to touch the back of her neck...
...and can even reach around and touch her back!
|After 56 years, Barbie can finally fasten her own bra.|
Any loss of realism caused by the appearance of the extra joints is made up tenfold by the accuracy of movement that they provide. These arms are so expressive.
Teresa also has a joint in her upper torso:
This joint moves from side to side quite a lot...
...and moves a little bit forwards and backwards, too:
Teresa has hinged rotation in her hips. When her legs are moved apart, they can only go this far without rotating the hip:
There's a pronounced notch in each leg just below the hip joint, though, and this allows for the leg to be rotated into many different positions:
For example, Teresa can lift one leg straight out...
...or even kick it up high in the air:
The notched thigh also allows Teresa to cross her legs to some degree:
When the hips are rotated outwards, Teresa can do side-to-side splits:
Although her legs don't stick straight out to the side (which strikes me as very natural).
Here's a peek into the hip at the large hinge that allows all of this motion:
Teresa can also do perfect front-to-back splits:
Many of the positions shown above rely on the fact that Teresa also has an extra point of rotation just below her hips. Once again, this compensates for the lack of rotation in the double-jointed knees:
Without moving her feet or knees, Teresa's legs can be rotated so that her feet either point in or out. Here are the two extremes of the thigh rotation joint:
Much like the elbows, Teresa's knee joints have spectacular flexion. Her calf can actually touch the back of her thigh:
This means that she's really, really good at kneeling:
To round out this outstanding collection of joints, Teresa even has hinged rotation in her itty bitty feet:
As I mentioned before, the only drawback to this joint is the fact that it's relatively weak and can't always support the doll's position.
Still, the ankles offer a fun range of poses...and also allow Teresa to wear something other than heeled shoes!
|She can wear heels, too, though!|
My favorite part of a doll review is often the time when I get to play around and explore the articulation--to see what kinds of poses are possible. Teresa definitely didn't disappoint at this stage.
She can sit in a chair...
...with her legs crossed!
She can also lounge on the ground and look lovely and relaxed...
...in all kinds of ways!
She can even sit cross-legged and make it look pretty normal:
Teresa is an expert at kneeling...
...(on one knee or two)...
...and can even kneel with her legs facing out to the side--like my Azone International doll, Mugi.
Of course Teresa's arms add a huge amount to her expressiveness:
And the fact that she can balance in many of these poses on her own is a huge plus.
She doesn't have quite the balance of, say, a Makie doll, but she can hold more positions than I would have guessed--especially given how small and arched her feet are.
I think I enjoyed photographing Teresa best when she was sitting or kneeling--she balances best this way, but she also has a really fun range of natural-looking sitting poses.
Throughout the entire first part of this review, I assumed that Teresa had basically the same body mold as a regular Barbie doll--just with more points of articulation. In fact, the shape of her body is different in many small ways.
Here's Teresa with my older Fashionista doll:
|Made to Move Barbie, Fashionista Barbie.|
I'll list just a few of the differences I see: Teresa has a straighter angle through her waist and hips, a smaller bottom, lower breasts and a straighter edge on her torso joint.
Some of these differences are easier to appreciate in profile:
Despite these small differences, Teresa can still wear most of the Barbie clothes I have. Here she is in pieces from various Style outfits (and a random pair of shoes):
These pants don't actually close all of the way in the back, which made me nervous about clothes sharing at first:
But all of the other items of Barbie clothing I tried fit really well--like Midge's dress:
|Made to Move Barbie in Midge's dress.|
And even another pair of Style pants:
This makes me think that the ill fit of that one pair of pants was a fluke.
My Fashionista Barbie can wear Teresa's outfit, too (and it looks great on her):
|Fashionista Barbie in Made to Move outfit.|
I was also curious to see how the new body compares to an older Pivotal Barbie, which is what my Wildflower Doll, Tara, uses:
|Made to Move Barbie and Pivotal Barbie body (with Wildflower Dolls head).|
The differences here are much more pronounced, with Tara being narrower in almost all areas of her body:
I'm really glad that Mattel didn't make this new body so different that it couldn't share clothes with earlier dolls.
*Update: by request, here are a few pictures comparing Teresa to a Liv doll:
|Liv Hayden, Made to Move Teresa.|
Teresa can kneel better than Hayden...
...and while the two dolls are equally matched in the pseudo martial arts...
Teresa can do all kinds of things with her rotating legs that Hayden simply can't.
This Made to Move body is the best 12-inch play doll body that I have encountered.
I had fun trying a few other outfits on Teresa. I especially like her in this coral sweater by Angharad Gruffyd.
It coordinates nicely with the Barbie Style pants that do fit:
Here's Teresa in a complete Style outfit. Everything fits, including the shoes:
|Made to Move Barbie in Barbie Style outfit.|
As an aside, the jacket from this outfit looks great, but is totally falling apart. It's very poorly made.
Teresa is the most fun when she's back in her original outfit, because it allows her to move extremely well.
I love how this doll promotes movement and exercise without being in-your-face about it. The box art (with all of the fun activities), the stretchy outfit, and the amazing joints on this doll...they all promote and invite action.
Teresa is good at action poses that suggest exercise, too. Here she is stretching out:
And then doing this, which might be some strange kind of martial art or yoga. I'm not sure.
And this...which is just me testing out what kinds of unusual poses she might be able to strike while still standing on her own:
I had so much fun with this doll. I kept thinking that I was done taking pictures, but then I'd go back and try out a few more poses. I mean, she can do this, which is fairly common...
...but she can also do this!
I think she's beautiful and realistic and somehow seems full of energy and joy.
I really appreciate Teresa's arms and hands. It's rare for a doll to be able to bend her elbows enough to allow poses like this:
Or to have so many possible interactions between the hands and the face. Teresa does this kind of pose even better than a Monster High doll...which is saying a lot:
The only articulation issue I noticed besides the collapsing ankles is that Teresa's knees tend to tip backwards when she's in certain upright kneeling poses. As long as these joints don't get too much looser over time, it's not a big concern.
Bottom line? I've never considered myself a huge Barbie fan, but I've been especially discouraged by a lot of the recent trends in these dolls. For example, it's getting harder and harder to find well-articulated dolls, molded clothing seems to be more and more prevalent, and the quality of the fabric clothing is often disappointing. These trends have contributed to me not paying a whole lot of attention when I'm in the Barbie aisle. In fact, lately I've been skipping that particular aisle completely--looking elsewhere for something inspiring and new.
Given all of this, you can imagine how surprised I am that the newest addition to the Barbie empire contradicts every single bad thing I've been thinking about these dolls lately. Made to Move Teresa is an absolute gem of a doll.
In fact, the bottom line is delightfully simple with a doll like this. Her face is natural, versatile, attractive and realistic. Her hair is shiny, well-rooted, gunge-free, and fun to play with. Her clothing is bright, well-made and extremely functional. Her $14.99 price is almost too good to be true. In addition, there's nothing high-maintenance about this doll--no headache packaging, no crispy hair, and no fiddly accessories or complicated clothing. She went from being in her box to being ready for action in a very small amount of time. And this is a really good thing because her articulation is incredible. The only criticism I can muster is that her ankles are a little weak and her feet are a little small, and this limits the range of poses that she can hold on her own. With tougher ankles or bigger/flatter feet, she'd rival the articulation of a Makie. And that's a pretty big deal in my book.
Beyond all of this, the Made to Move collection manages to promote a wonderful, healthy message of activity without beating us over the head with it. The very first moment I saw Teresa, the colorful photographs on her box made me think of things like horseback riding, laughing with friends and having a great time outdoors. There's nothing specific or limiting in these pictures, just a general message of activity and fun. But clever marketing is nothing new. The special thing about Teresa is that every stage of my interaction with her lived up to this image. First of all, there's nothing specific or limiting about her appearance. She could be anyone or enjoy any kind of sport or recreation. She could even put on a dress and some heels and hang with the rest of the Barbies. But what really keeps this doll true to her image is the way she moves. I've grown weary of dolls that are advertised as gymnasts or horseback riders but who can't actually sit on horses or even bend their arms and legs. This kind of doll limits my desire for active play. But Teresa can do just about anything. She inspires me. I want to find a 1:6 scale horse and some cowboy boots and do another photo shoot. I want to make a stop-action movie. I want to take Teresa outside on a beach adventure--to see how realistic I can make her look in the sand. I want to make kitchen dioramas for her to interact with. Mostly, I want to just sit and see what other poses Teresa can manage. She's hard to put down. Somehow, this modest $15 doll manages to elicit perhaps the most important reaction that a doll can offer: she makes me want to play.