Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Dolls from Hasbro and the Disney Store: The Beast

This is my second comparison review of dolls from the new live action Beauty and the Beast movie.  You can find my review of the Hasbro and Disney Store Belle dolls here.

I was much more excited about the Beast dolls from these two companies than I was about the Belle dolls--in part because of the underwhelming promotional pictures of the Disney Store's Belle, but also because the Beast is simply a more unique, intriguing figure.

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy reviewing the Beast--especially the Disney Store's version--but this fascinating character also somehow managed to make the unfortunate Disney Store Belle doll more appealing to me.  The two dolls compliment each other quite well, and bring out something...well, something that I didn't see before:

Toy Box Philosopher review
The Beast and Belle from the Disney Store, $34.95 each.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Happy Easter!

For more than a decade, Easter has started (bright and early!) in my house with an egg hunt and an epic treasure hunt.  I used to spend all Saturday making clues for the hunt...clues that my dynamic treasure hunting duo would solve in under an hour (baskets of candy are powerful motivators, I guess).  This year, with one kid off at college and the other with a new-found love for sleeping in on Sunday mornings...well, Easter is off to a quieter start.

I overcompensated for this change by trying to pack way too many things into today's Sunday Surprise.  I have an odd mix of surprise-themed things to share with you: some Li'l Woodzeez blind bag bobblehead figures, a Matryoshka nesting doll (with a mystery number of smaller dolls inside!) and some vintage Holly Jolly baby-filled eggs by Zapf Creation.

Matryoshka doll by Yankelus.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Dolls by Hasbro and the Disney Store: Belle

Last year, when I was re-thinking this blog and figuring out how to keep it in my life, I made a few resolutions.  One of them was that I would never feel obligated to buy another Disney Store doll.  Why? Well, when I first started collecting these dolls (back in 2012), I was blown-away by the high-quality product that Disney could offer for under $13. Over the years, though, the dolls have suffered a lapse in quality and an increase in price…to the point where I started feeling bad every time I made a Disney Store purchase.

So why am I reviewing a Disney Store doll now?  Well, frankly, it’s because I’m a total sucker for Disney movies, and I get a little obsessed when a new one comes out. When the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie was announced, I eagerly waited for the release of the associated dolls…and then bought all of them. I can’t say that this was a wise decision, but at least I’ll get to share what I learned with all of you.  In a short series of (not necessarily sequential) posts, I'll look at both the Disney Store and Hasbro’s versions of Beauty and the Beast's main characters.  I’ll start things off today with each company’s yellow-gowned Belle doll:

Beauty and the Beast's Belle from the Disney Store, $34.95.
(Shown on a Barbie Made to Move body)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Figuring Out Phicen (Part 3): The 6th Generation Females

Well, we've arrived at the third (and final) installment of my Figuring Out Phicen series.  I published this review in small segments partly because I had too many pictures for a single post, but also because I've been crazy-preoccupied by our high school's spring drama show.  Every year this fun event eats huge amounts of my time, and this year is no exception.  So, if you feel like I've been distracted lately...you're absolutely right.  Oh, and also: we're getting 21 inches of snow today in Maine.  Same old, same old.  So, basically, this review might not be my best work, but if I get it published before our power goes out, I'm gonna be psyched.

Regardless of distractions, I do read every comment on the blog, and I have to say: you guys are hysterical.  The banter about Paul and his "bits and pieces" from the last review made my entire week.  Aria, your thread made me laugh out loud more than once.  I'll admit to having the same fixation on finally seeing the Phicen secret parts.  And Alina_Mau: my apologies to you and our other day-glow pale sisters for all of the skin tone shaming.  In my defense, I don't even know what a tan is.  There's pale and then there's burned...right?

I'm afraid there will be even more skin tone discrimination in this review, though, because--spoilers--a Phicen suntan body found its way into my house and totally stole the show:

Phicen 6th Generation S17B Super Flexible body (suntan) with Kimi's Amanda Seyfried head.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Figuring Out Phicen (Part 2): The Phicen M33 Male Body

Welcome to the second of three posts about the fabulous Super Flexible Phicen bodies!  I started this series with the intention of simply finding a head for a pale female Phicen body.  However, my choice of body (the S01A--which you can read about in Part 1) was far too similar to the only other Phicen body I own (the S01--which you can read about here).

So, in an effort to learn something new about Phicen, I went a little overboard and purchased a male body and two of the newest female bodies.  Today I'll take a quick look at the male body I chose, the M33:

Phicen M33 male body with an Eleven head (left), Phicen S01A female body with a Dreamer head (right).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Figuring Out Phicen (Part 1): Finding a Head for
a Phicen S01A Pale Body

I had my first experience with a Phicen Super-Flexible Seamless body back in the winter of 2015.  Ever since my review of that doll (Leila, a stainless steel S01 figure) I've been considering another Phicen purchase.  In fact, I bought another doll while I was reviewing Leila, but I sent her back immediately because I did not like the body shading or the head sculpt.  I always assumed I'd give the brand another try, but there have been some obstacles along the way.

The first obstacle was that my older Phicen body is not holding up very well.  I was never able to get the pencil stains off her leg, and her soft body has continued to separate along the side seams.  Another hurdle is that the newer Phicen bodies do not come with heads...and Phicen doesn't sell heads separately.  In theory, I was happy to purchase a head from a different company, but it's not so easy to tell which heads will go with which bodies, and the Phicen pale bodies seem particularly difficult to match.

My mission for this review was to order a new stainless steel pale body and then find it a head.  Sounds simple, right?   However, I'm not very good at keeping track of all the different types of Phicen body (or all of the different brands of heads, for that matter).  My inexperience led to a few blunders that took me off on some unexpected tangents.  By the time I figured out what was going on, I had way too many photographs for one post.  I decided to split my discoveries into several short parts: Part 1 will be my quest for a decent head for an S01A body.  Part 2 will feature a Phicen male body (and the selection of his head), and then Part 3 will look at two of Phicen's 6th generation female bodies...and a few more heads.  It's going to be a full-blown Phicen overload.

Phicen S01A body with middle-sized breast...and no head ($74.99).

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Zomby Gaga by Monster High and the
Born This Way Foundation

Whoa.  What a wintry week we're having here in Maine!  Thursday was the second snow day in a row for the local kids, and we're looking at another two feet of snow for tonight.  I'm hoping to get this review posted before that storm hits!  So far we've been fortunate enough to keep power (and avoid any more branches through the roof) so it's been an excellent time for me to work on my next several reviews.  I'm really excited about all of the dolls that I have planned for the upcoming month...I just hope I can work as fast as my mind is racing!

This particular review has been a long time coming.  I pre-ordered Monster High's Zomby Gaga back in October (after Dmitry's excellent suggestion).  Zomby Gaga is a special edition doll meant to depict Lady Gaga from her Born This Way music video.  Zomby Gaga arrived in early January, but I've had a hard time tracking down the other doll I needed for this review--Robert Tonner's Zombie Boy.  Zombie Boy is the screen name of Rick Genest, the tattooed model who appears alongside Lady Gaga in her video.  I finally found the Zombie Boy doll safely tucked away on a back shelf.  He's fragile, and so I don't keep him on display.

The timing actually worked out really well, though, because the real Lady Gaga performed at the epic Super Bowl game last weekend, and so I've had her songs going through my head all week.

"Zomby Gaga" by Monster High, $23.99.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Twozies and Sonny Angel!

Whew.  I was so emotionally bogged down by that Global Girl review (I dislike writing negative reviews...), I needed to do something fun immediately!  So--I have a quick (Super Bowl) Sunday Surprise post for you!

This post happened out of the blue because of a lucky coincidence.  I've been eyeing the Twozies surprise packs in the store for a while now, even purchasing one on a few different occasions with the idea that I'd add them to a Sunday Surprise post one day.  Then, last week, as I was checking Amazon for the availability of L.O.L Surprise dolls (they're still so hard to find around here!), a new kind of doll popped into my suggestions list: Sonny Angel figures by Dreams Inc.  I'd never seen these little cuties before...and they remind me a lot of the Twozies.

Both Twozies and Sonny Angel dolls are baby-like figures that come wearing animal (or plant) hats...and not much else.  Twozies and Sonny Angel dolls are also both packaged in a blind box so you never know exactly which doll you're going to get.  I thought it would be fun to de-box a few of these little ones and see how similar they actually are:

Sonny Angel (left) and Twozies (right) blind box figures.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Vivienne by Global Girl

I've been doing a lot of organizing and cleaning in preparation for the upcoming repair of my studio ceiling.  All of this work has unearthed several dolls that I honestly forgot I owned.  For example, I purchased the doll I'm reviewing today--Vivienne by Global Girl--back in the fall of 2014.  At that time I was exploring many different kinds of 18-21 inch play dolls, and the Global Girl company was suggested to me as an interesting new addition to the market.  The company's mission is to use dolls and books to expose kids to different cultures and countries around the world.  This is definitely the kind of mission I appreciate.  I also like to support new doll companies, and so I happily purchased Vivienne, Global Girl's character from France.

So why didn't I review this doll when I first got her?  Well, first of all, I didn't have a great ordering experience with the company.  I'll assume they've improved their customer service over the last few years and leave it at that.  But, more importantly, when Vivienne arrived, I immediately took her out of the box to inspect her face...and discovered that she had terrible staining all around her neck from her dark scarf.  So, I popped her back into her box and pondered what to do next.  As a general rule, I don't like to review dolls that I know I'll dislike, especially when I'm dealing with a small start-up company.  So, I tucked Vivienne away in a corner and procrastinated over the review...for two and a half years.

When I discovered Vivienne in her corner the other day, I figured it was time for her to come out of hiding and earn her keep.  Another thing that prompted me to finally write this review is the fact that (from what I can tell) very few people have reviewed the Global Girls over the past few years, and most of those reviews come from sites that were given a doll for free.  You know how I feel about that.  So, for better or for worse, here's Miss Vivienne:

"Vivienne" by Global Girl, $89.99.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Saskia Project Conclusion

As you might imagine, life has been a little disorganized around here lately.  The same storm that put a branch through our roof actually left two more holes in the house, so we've had to replace the roof and do a few other maintenance things.  Next week the hole in my studio ceiling will be patched up, so I should be able to get back to normal soon after that.  The nice thing is that both our insurance company and our contractor are awesome, so things are about as good as they could possibly be given the circumstances.

With the roof construction underway, studio time has been scarce.  This offered me the perfect chance to finish up the Saskia Project, though, because I'd already assembled Saskia and taken a few pictures of her before the storm hit.  All I had left to do was snap a few photos outside in the sun--no studio necessary.  This should have been an easy thing to do, but there was one small problem: as much as I love this doll and as cute as she is in real life, she's not at all photogenic...especially outside.  I suspect this is mostly because I made her way too shiny with all of those layers of sealant.  I'm also not accustomed to photographing baby dolls.  They don't stand up on their own!

Anyway, in today's post I'll show you how I assembled Saskia and then share a collection of pictures that I took of her after she was finished.  To put these pictures in some perspective, I took over 500 snapshots of this doll...and only about 50 of them turned out.  Here's one of those 50:

"Saskia" reborn kit doll by Bonnie Brown (completed).

Friday, January 6, 2017

Maru and Tanya Mini Pals by Maru and Friends

Happy New Year!  I hope 2017 has gotten off to a promising start for all of you.  It's been a mixed bag around here...but I'll get to that in a sec.  Thank you so much for all of the wonderful comments on the Christmas post!  I was thrilled that many of you enjoyed hearing about Santa Mouse and his magic.  That's a pretty special memory for me.

I want to start this year off right by reviewing two new dolls from one of my very favorite companies: Maru and Friends.  As you might recall, the redheaded Savannah character from Maru's 18-inch line is one of my most treasured, beautiful play dolls.

Maru and Friends recently introduced a collection of mini dolls (the Mini Pals) who are 13-inch versions of the larger characters.  So far Maru, Tanya, Savannah and a little boy (Chad) have been added to the website.  I'm embarrassed to say that I've been pre-ordering these adorable Mini Pals as fast as Maru and Friends announces them.  As advertised, the first two dolls in the series--Maru and Tanya--arrived at my house just in time for Christmas.  Mini Maru arrived outfitted perfectly for the holiday, too, in a beautiful miniature of the Dazzling Holidays red taffeta dress:

Maru Mini Pal from Maru and Friends ($89).