The thing is, Santa Mouse did come that night. When my friend and I woke up the next morning and rushed into the living room to look at the tree, there were a handful of miniature wrapped presents underneath! We were beside ourselves. Each of the tiny packages had an even tinier gift inside--perfect for a pair of mouse friends.
To this day, I still have no idea how my parents pulled off Santa Mouse's late night, last-minute visit. What I do know is that the wonder of that morning gave me an enduring respect for the magic of Christmas--and a passion for tiny presents. Every time I see a small package that might contain a mystery gift, I remember my childhood friend and our Santa Mouse. In today's post, I'll de-box a couple of dolls (mostly Barbies) that come with little gift boxes. Some of these gift boxes might have a secret present inside...some might be empty props. But never fear! If any of the boxes yield disappointment, Santa Mouse will come to the rescue and make sure there's a good surprise for all of you to see.
|2000 Holiday Surprise Barbie (with gift).|
I spent some time this past summer doing online searches for dolls with some kind of surprise element. My searches turned up a lot of surprise-themed Barbie dolls: Birthday Surprise, Easter Surprise, Holiday Surprise, etc. Many (but not all) of these dolls come carrying little cardboard gift boxes. Some of the advertising makes it clear that the gift boxes contain secret gifts (yay!). Sometimes, though, there's no mention of a secret gift, so it's not clear if the box is empty or full. I was curious to see how many of these Surprise Barbies actually come with secret items inside their boxes.
To start things off, I have Holiday Surprise Barbies from 2000 and 2014:
|Holiday Surprise Barbies from 2000 (left) and 2014 (right).|
Each of these dolls comes with a decent-sized cardboard gift box that can clearly be opened.
There are many other holiday-themed Barbie dolls that come with gifts (Holiday Excitement, Christmas Morning, Santa's Helper etc.) but the Holiday Surprise series was the first one I found and both of these dolls were inexpensive. I paid under $15 for each of them.
The older of these two dolls has strawberry blonde hair and a pretty green dress:
The back of this doll's box actually gives away a huge part of the surprise, though:
Not only does this Barbie have something inside her gift box, but now we know that it's a necklace. The only real surprise left is what the shape of the necklace's charm will be.
I don't like it when surprises are revealed like this, but we can still guess and wonder about the shape of that charm.
All of the trademark information is printed along the side of this doll's box--something I don't see very often these days. It looks like a nutrition label:
|Contains 10g of unsaturated Barbie.|
The doll is mounted on a metallic silver backdrop:
She's pretty easy to de-box, except for the fact that her hair was sewn into a plastic strip that was attached tightly to the backdrop. Detaching this part was a pain:
Here she is:
I think this doll has beautiful coloring, but her dress is made out of a very different kind of fabric from what I assumed. A lot of the online pictures make it look like she's wearing a slinky, sequined dress, but the fabric actually has more of a fleece texture and the design is applied with glittery glue:
She also has a sheer red scarf draped over her shoulders and a sparkling necklace:
The rubber band that held this necklace in place turned into a sticky clump of goo over the years. I had to scrape the mess off with my fingernails!
Here she is, all de-boxed with the icky rubber band removed:
Despite the dress not being as slinky as I'd imagined, I do like it. In fact, as a Mainer, I think I'm actually required to appreciate fleece gowns.
Also, I really like the flirty side slit on this dress...and the matching holiday-green shoes:
Barbie's face paint matches her ensemble. She has bright red lips and green eyes. I like how--amidst all of these bright colors--her hair is a natural color with just a hint of red:
The necklace is a metallic silver choker made out of string. The star charm is made out of metal and covered with silver glitter:
Barbie is wearing earrings and a ring. Each of these pieces looks like a diamond from far away, but up close the gem area is actually just a shape that's been hollowed out of the surrounding plastic:
(All of the red dots on Barbie's head and arms are pieces of red glitter from the dress.)
The dress is fastened in back with two sections of velcro--a small square in the halter top and a larger strip near the waist:
For anyone who's interested in the style of Barbie body that was being made in 2000, here's a quick look:
This doll has an exaggerated hourglass shape with an underwear section that's made out of white plastic.
She has eight points of articulation (her knees have internal joints):
This is a lovely, festive doll who's easily worth her current $12 price. I think she'd be perfect as a Christmas decoration in the house of a fanatic doll-lover...such as myself.
However, what we really care about is what's in this doll's gift box, right?
|Present time! Present time!|
The box has a small tag that sticks off to one side. The tag includes a tiny space to write who the present is for:
Two of the box's sides extend up onto the top surface and slot together to make a three-dimensional bow shape:
|(I think someone opened this box before I did...it's a little bit ripped)|
The box can be opened by sliding the two slotted edges apart:
I can just barely make out a small piece of silvery string in there.
I wonder if the secret pendant will match Barbie's?
Now I can see one edge of it...
It looks orange with rounded edges.
Yep! It's an orange oval pendant:
It has a reflective surface, though--like a cloudy mirror:
Most of the pendant is made out of plastic that's cut into a gem shape:
The back of the gem has a small reflective area. Maybe this part is meant to be a mirror, or maybe it's just there to make the front of the gem look more sparkly. I'm not sure.
This is a decent gift. I'm thrilled that there was actually something inside that tiny box. It's rude to criticize a gift, I know, but frankly I think Barbie's star pendant necklace is nicer than what she gave us.
I think we need a Santa Mouse do-over on this gift, don't you agree?
Here's the gift again, but this time I've put a little treat in there that I think would make most kids pretty happy...
|What could it be??|
I'll give away one little hint: it's not a necklace. It's not jewelry at all, in fact.
I opened the top of the box again...
Can you see something visible there at the side? Can you guess what it is?
If you peek around and look at it from a different angle, it looks like this:
Oooh--that's a good hint! Did you figure it out yet?
It's a little pegasus figure!
I hope you like it!
I chose this figure because I love horses (and their fantasy relatives) but I'm also impressed by the level of detail in this little guy:
He's made out of rubbery vinyl, so it was easy to fit him inside the small box--even with those wings.
I got this pegasus at AC Moore. He's part of a Safari "Good Luck Minis" pack that included 8 animals. The whole bag cost around $2.00:
Here are two of my other favorite figures from this collection:
|Safari Good Luck Minis.|
I think Barbie likes this little pegasus, too:
|Holiday Surprise Barbie with her new present.|
Ok, now let's look at the 2015 Holiday Surprise Barbie:
This doll comes with several accessories. She has a little gingerbread house, a mug of hot chocolate, a Christmas stocking, and...a gift box:
This box is a great size and has a clear opening flap in the front. I think there might be something in there!
The back of Barbie's box does not give away anything about what might (or might not) be inside the little present:
Barbie and all of her extras come attached to a snowflake backdrop that slides out of the main box:
It was pretty easy to get everything cut away from the backdrop:
This doll is not as unique as the 2000 Holiday Surprise Barbie. She seems somewhat generic to me, with her blonde hair, blue eyes and toothy grin:
She's wearing a red dress with a fuzzy fur-like wrap:
The wrap loops around the doll's arms and attaches in back with a small section of elastic. The elastic makes it possible for Barbie to move her arms when she's wearing the wrap. The wrap is also easy to take off and put on again.
Under the wrap, Barbie's dress is has a stretchy red halter top:
She's also wearing a simple plastic necklace (which falls off really easily):
The top of Barbie's dress looks a bit like a swimsuit. It seems very casual for something that would be paired with a fur stole.
The skirt on this dress is made out of a very stiff taffeta-style fabric. There are two velcro seams in the back, just like on the 2000 Barbie's green dress:
This doll has a body style that's more modern. It's the familiar-looking Fashionista body with unarticulated limbs and no torso joint:
I find this doll unremarkable. There must be dozens of other Barbies that look just like her.
Let's move on to look at her accessories! In addition to the necklace, bracelet and clutch purse that she's wearing in the box, she comes with four (or more...) holiday items:
The stocking is made out of red felt with a fuzzy white top. It's stitched together so that little treats could actually fit inside:
It's a perfect mouse-sized stocking, don't you think?
The little gingerbread house is made out of hollow hard plastic:
It has molded and painted details that are different on each side:
The mug is also made out of hollow hard plastic:
Barbie can hold this mug in her hand, but her unarticulated arms make it difficult for her to strike a realistic cocoa-sipping pose:
|That's a cocoa-dumping pose.|
Even with her arm lowered, she holds the mug at a very precarious angle:
|She's about to get really hot feet.|
Enough of that, though! Let's see what's inside the mysterious gift box:
This package has a more conventional box shape, with a top flap that lifts straight up:
I opened this box very slowly, trying not to peek inside until the very last minute...
It was empty. Dang. I actually suspected that this box would be empty as soon as I held it, though, because nothing rattled around inside and it was extremely light. Oh, well.
This Barbie comes with so many accessories, though, kids could put some of those accessories into this box and pretend they were presents for Barbie. The necklace, bracelet and purse fit inside nicely, but the gingerbread house doesn't fit and it doesn't make much sense to gift-wrap a mug full of hot chocolate:
We definitely need a Santa Mouse rescue with this gift!
Let's start over:
This time, as soon as the top flap is lifted, you can see that the box is far from empty!
It's stuffed full of tiny things!
It's a miniature art set:
|Re-Ment miniatures from Pounding the New School Year.|
These are pieces from a Re-Ment collection called (somewhat awkwardly) "Pounding the New School Year." I'm guessing that a more accurate translation of this would be "crushing the new school year," as in doing really well in the new school year.
I love the realism and moving parts on these little pieces! There's a pencil sharpener with a moving crank and a little shaving bin that actually pulls out like a drawer:
The mini orange-handled scissors look exactly like the ones my mom used to have, and they open and close just like real scissors:
There's also a yellow tape dispenser that's pretty cute:
There's no actual tape inside this dispenser, but there's a little roll that's tape-colored and spins around inside of the dispenser.
My favorite piece in this set is a tin of "crayon-pencils:"
These could either be colored pencils or crayons--take your pick.
The tin hinges open to reveal a set of individual (removable) crayons in various stages of use:
I've never taken the time to fully understand the world of Re-Ment collecting, but the few items that I've seen in person have been fantastic. Re-Ment: pounding the world of miniature collectibles.
Barbie certainly looks excited about her new art supplies!
|Holiday Surprise Barbie with her new Re-Ment gifts.|
Most of the gift-bearing dolls that I found online were Barbies--but not all of them. I also found this adorable little Cabbage Patch Kid "Lil' Sprout" doll:
She's discontinued, and I'm not exactly sure what her year of production was.
I love Cabbage Patch Kids because they all come with a unique name. My little redhead's name is Reina Eve. This name has a lot of holiday nuance (Reina like reindeer and Eve like Christmas eve?). It makes me wonder whether this whole series of dolls had special holiday names or if I just got lucky? I'll have to do some searching to see what some other names are from this group of dolls.
Reina comes with an intriguing little gift box that clearly opens:
There's no mention of a possible secret gift inside Reina's present, though. This probably isn't a good sign.
However, on the back of the box there's a sentence describing how each doll comes with an inspiring message on her wrist, so that'll be at least one surprise:
Reina also comes with a small plastic cat, a brush and a cat bed...
...but I was fixated on that package!
|What's inside?? I need to know.|
The fact that the present is so carefully sealed under plastic must be a good sign, right?
Here's everything that came in this set:
The cat is a cute little companion. She doesn't come with a name, though.
Her head doesn't move, but she has a fuzzy tail, a little tuft of fur on her head, and a removable white bow around her neck.
Reina Eve is adorable. She's about 5 inches tall. I love these miniature Cabbage Patch dolls and wish they were still being made:
Reina's hair got a little squished by her packaging, but this offers a good view of the rooting pattern:
I easily covered that bald patch by just brushing her two-toned red hair:
Reina's hair hangs all of the way down past her waist. It's styled into a pretty twist at the top, accented with a purple and gold fabric bow:
Reina has bright green eyes and a super-happy open-mouthed smile:
Reina is wearing a holiday dress with a surprising amount of detail for such a small garment:
Unfortunately, not all of the details are well executed. Her purple satin collar is off-center and has ragged edges:
The gathered puff sleeves and ribbon trim are very nicely done, though.
Reina's dress opens all of the way down the back with a thick velcro seam:
She has a plastic torso with molded purple underwear. Her limbs are hard vinyl and she has five points of articulation:
She balances best in her little blue sandals, but these shoes are removable.
Reina's joints all look like they have simple rotational articulation, but she actually has a small amount of side-to-side movement in her hips:
She's a nicely-balanced, sturdy little doll who can strike some fun poses:
Now, remember how the box mentioned that all of the dolls have a secret message on their wrist?
There's nothing on either of Reina's wrists:
She didn't have a wrist tag on her arm, either.
That's a little disappointing. Now I'm curious about what these messages were like--and whether or not the other Lil' Sprouts had them. I did an image search online and was not able to find pictures of any of these holiday dolls with their messages.
Maybe the gift box will have a better surprise...or maybe the secret message is hiding in there? Let's find out:
The box is cute on its own. It's made out of medium-weight cardboard and has a printed snowflake pattern with a silver ribbon:
The blue wrapping on this package makes me think of Hanukkah. In fact, there's nothing about this doll that makes it exclusively a Christmas item. I appreciate the versatility and inclusivity of that choice.
Is there anything inside the box, though??
We have another empty one, folks. Bummer.
But you know I won't leave it at that! Let's rewind...
It still looks empty with the top off...must be something small down in there:
I tipped the box over and shook it a little...
Can you guess what it is yet?
I shook a little more, and...
|Cabbage Patch Lil' Sprouts gift box with doll house playing cards.|
It's a pair of mini playing cards!
I love these. I found them on eBay. They cost $1.99 with $3.00 shipping from Hong Kong. Not bad, right? I checked the old auction, though, and now these exact same cards are listed for $20. Yikes. They're a great deal for $5, but I'm not sure about $20.
The little boxes are printed on all sides:
And the boxes open to reveal tiny cards:
There are 54 cards all together--so a complete deck is split between two boxes:
The cards look exactly like full-sized playing cards:
Here's an even closer look:
My deck had all of the cards but one. It was missing a joker. Still, Reina wanted to try her hand at solitaire:
Imagine how amazing it would have been if Reina had actually come with this kind of surprise inside her gift box!?
Those are all of the holiday-themed dolls that I bought for this review. I feel like the fun ended too soon, though.
Fortunately, during my searches for the Holiday Surprise dolls, I also bought a pair of Birthday Surprise and Easter Surprise Barbies. I'll save my Easter dolls for Easter, but I figured I might as well open the two birthday dolls now--in honor of anyone who has a birthday that falls near Christmas!
The first Birthday Barbie is from 1997--so she's spent more than 20 years trapped inside this box:
The box kinda smells like it's 20 years old, too, but it's really fun to see the old pictures:
This picture shows two girls enjoying a birthday party with their doll. There's very little wording on the box--just a small poem:
The fine print at the very bottom of the box points out that the food, streamers and paper goods are not included:
Good thing they mentioned that. Otherwise, I would have expected to find a 20-year-old cake inside Barbie's gift box!
I chose this particular Birthday Barbie because she comes with a gift box, but also because I love her colorful gown:
She also comes with a birthday card, a birthday cake, a brush and a doll stand. The doll stand was hidden in the base of the box, so I didn't find it until I'd finished taking pictures.
Here are all of the other accessories:
Barbie came with an unruly pink ribbon in her hair:
I removed the ribbon and brushed her hair a little. Already, she looks a lot better:
This doll has light brown eyes and straight black hair. The hair has a soft mohair-like texture:
She has faint pink eyeshadow and very bright pink lips:
The dress has a ruffled rainbow neckline and a matching skirt. The bodice is plain pink satin with a yellow flower accent:
The scale of this flower is a bit too large, but I like everything else about the dress. It's a fun fantasy gown.
This Barbie's body is a lot like the 2000 Holiday Surprise doll's body. It has the same shape and articulation, the only difference is that the underwear is molded out of the same color vinyl as the skin:
This Barbie is also wearing earrings and a ring that match:
They're both plain pink plastic domes:
Barbie's birthday card has a fun cut-out shape that's meant to let the birthday candle peek through the front of the card:
Unfortunately, this card is too thick to close completely, so the effect is lost:
The cake is made out of folded cardboard:
This doll's gift box has the same design as the 2000 Holiday Surprise doll's box:
Do you think there will be another necklace inside? Another kind of jewelry, maybe?
I unfastened the top...
Blah. Another empty box!
At this point, I was running out of little surprises that would fit inside a box this small. I did manage to find something that almost fit, though:
|Just a tad too big.|
Are you curious about what I jammed inside??
Here's a little teaser peek...can you tell what it is yet?
Now you can certainly tell!
It's a Lalaloopsy princess!
She reminds me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
She is from the Lalaloopsy Tinies blind bag collection, so she was a surprise for me, too--I just got the surprise a little earlier than you did.
These little dolls are very cute--definitely one of the better blind bag options:
This particular Lalaloopsy perfect for this Barbie, too. They're both wearing colorful ball gowns with lots of pink and yellow:
|1997 Holiday Surprise Barbie with a Lalaloopsy Tinies blind bag doll.|
Ok, that leaves me with only one more surprise doll to share today, so I hope she has a good surprise!
She's a Birthday Barbie from 1991:
I found her on eBay for $13.
Her outer box was so badly yellowed and crushed that I removed it before I snapped any pictures.
Look at the fancy gift box, though!
|That's gotta have something good!|
I figured that this box had to have something inside.
Sure enough, the back of the box gives away part of the surprise:
It going to be a bracelet, a necklace, or earrings:
This doll also came with a stand hidden away in the base of her box, but I actually found it before I started taking pictures:
This girl has crazy hair.
The hair came with a large section pulled back into a twist...that pretty much sticks straight up in the air:
I took this twist out and brushed the hair. It's a little greasy and smelly...
...but certainly looks better without that twist:
This doll has blue and green eyes accented with metallic blue eyeshadow:
She has a lot of blistering on her face, though, and her whole head has a greasy feel and a bad smell. I suspect that she's been stored in a hot or sunny location for the better part of the last several decades.
This doll's off-putting smell and heat-damaged face made her unpleasant to handle. I was anxious to get her bagged up and set aside.
Her dress is really great, though:
Before I set Barbie aside, here's a quick look at her body type (it's the same as the other Birthday Barbie, but with bent arms):
I decided to let my Made to Move Barbie, Teresa, wear this lovely peach tulle gown. I think it looks wonderful on her:
|Made to Move Barbie wearing Holiday Surprise Barbie's dress from 1991.|
The style of this dress actually reminds me of my own wedding dress, although my dress was made out of silk, not tulle.
Teresa agreed to help me with the rest of the review by opening up this last gift box:
She carefully unfastened the top flaps...
But the gift was still concealed by the side flaps...
Teresa opened those last two flaps to reveal...
Wow! It looks pretty--with lots of pearls--and it's either a bracelet or a necklace.
This is a nice piece of play jewelry--much better than the plastic pendant on the holiday doll:
|Holiday Surprise Barbie's secret gift (1991).|
It has opalescent beads, a metal clasp and a plastic B-shaped charm:
Finally, I think we found a gift that does not need to be replaced by Santa Mouse, which is perfect timing because I was running low on tiny treats.
I hope you've enjoyed following along as I satisfied my curiosity about these gift-bearing dolls. I've done a bit of reading since I purchased these dolls, and I suspect that the Christmas Morning Barbies are the most likely to have small gifts inside their packages. However, the only pictures I've found of those gifts suggest that they're plastic pendant necklaces much like the Holiday Surprise doll's treat.
In my opinion, any doll who comes with a gift box accessory (especially a gift box that clearly opens) should have something (anything!) inside that box. This didn't turn out to be the case with the five dolls I opened today. Only two of them had items inside their boxes, and both of those items were jewelry. To be fair, the advertising on these dolls' boxes makes it pretty clear which ones have secret gifts and which don't: if there isn't specific mention of a mystery treat in the box, then there probably isn't one. But still. There's something inherently sad about an empty holiday gift box--whether you expected there to be something inside or not.
These dolls are still fun. I especially like the 2000 Holiday Barbie and the Cabbage Patch Lil' Sprout. I also love the 1991 Birthday Barbie's fairy tale gown. The bottom line here is that I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of these gift-bearing dolls for a beloved child in my life, but I think I'd probably pull a Santa Mouse trick before I gave the doll away--meaning I'd open up the main box and plant a special toy inside the gift box. There are a lot of inexpensive miniatures out there that are small enough to fit inside tiny boxes but impressive enough to create a wonderful surprise.
Now, I'm off to enjoy some Christmas fun with my family! I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday season...sprinkled with a bit of your own Santa Mouse magic.