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.
There are six Global Girl characters: Vivienne (from France), Marcela (from Argentina), Mei Ling (from China), Tiffany (from the United States), Tatiana (from Russia), and Amahle (from South Africa).  I chose Vivienne primarily because of her outfit.  I also purchased Vivienne's book, Vivienne in France, for an extra $9.99.  My total bill was $113 (with shipping).

As I mentioned, the Global Girl brand was designed to make kids curious about other countries and cultures.  I love this idea, but I have to take issue with one statement on the Global Girl website.  It says: "After much research, we realized that there was no doll brand or book collection that focused on different countries and cultures in a meaningful, inspirational and empowering way."  Seriously?  What about Karito Kids?  Hearts 4 Hearts?  BFC Ink Pen Pals?  All of these dolls were around well before Global Girl.  Heck, Madame Alexander has been making country-themed dolls since I was an infant.  I mean, technically some of these brands were discontinued by the time Global Girl came around, but the dolls still exist--and they absolutely focus on different countries and cultures in a meaningful way.  So, the theme is great, but it's not new or unique.

Moving on.  Here's Vivienne with her book:



Vivienne comes in a cardboard box with minimal decoration and a large plastic window.  The Global Girls logo is on the front of the box, accompanied by the unpunctuated line, "A World of Fun Inspiring Stylish Girls:"


The side of the box says "Inspire.  Empower.  Believe.  Dream."


Those words apply to the stories in this line.  Each girl has a book associated with her character, and each book has a plot that's meant to be inspiring and empowering.  

For example, Vivienne's story is about how she enters a cooking competition to help her grandfather (her papoun) sell more vegetables at his stand.  She works hard, makes a new friend, overcomes some mild adversity, and (spoilers!) wins the prize.

Très bien, Vivienne!
Do you notice a similarity in design to the American Girl books?  

I do:


The brand name, Global Girl, is also an obvious play on American Girl.  These are really small infractions, I know, but copying still bugs me.

Anyway, Vivienne in France is a cute story with some fun details about France intertwined (a bit clumsily at times) throughout the plot.  There's also a whole section at the back of the book that introduces some basic facts and trivia about France.  

This part reminds me of Maplea Saila's beautiful journal.


The illustrations (by Rebecca Evans) are the best part of the book, I think.  I like Ms. Evans' style:


Ok, Papoun looks a little funny in that picture, but Vivienne's face is so joyful and full of life.  She looks like a happy, sweet, nine-year-old kid:


Let's see if the doll can measure up to the lively paintings in the book.

Vivienne came tied to the back of the box with white satin ribbons:


She was packaged with her purse slung over her right arm:


 She also came with a black hairnet keeping her long blonde hair under control:


This doll stands really well on her own, but it looks odd to me that she's not wearing socks.  I usually wear socks when I'm wearing a coat.  Usually--but not always.  

The thing is, the shoes look like they were fitted to accommodate socks.  They're a bit too big to be worn barefoot:


I took the hairnet off and played around with Vivienne's thick wig:


This doll has a lot of hair, and it's a bit unruly.

Vivienne's bangs are long, so when I comb them straight down, they block her eyes:


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Où sont ses yeux?
The bangs are meant to be swept off to the side:

Voilà!
This girl has scary-intense blue eyes.  When I re-opened her this past week, the eyes were even more intense than I remember from that first encounter in 2014.  The eyes look like they've faded and clouded up a bit over the years--just like the low-quality eyes on the newer My Twinn dolls.  However, this doll did have unusually bright blue eyes to start with.

Vivienne looks nice with her black scarf tied in place, but I knew what was hiding under that scarf:


I decided to take the scarf off and deal with the stains right up front.  I was curious to see if the marks were as bad as I remember.  

What could be hiding under there??


It's like a Sunday Surprise, but it's not Sunday and this isn't gonna be a good surprise.

Yeah...the stains are pretty bad:


Sacrebleu!
The stains do not come off with Magic Eraser.  I could try the benzoyl peroxide treatment, I suppose, but I'm not sure if I want to turn this doll into a project.

Luckily the scarf also makes a great hair tie, so I used it to get Vivienne's long hair out of the way:


Here's her face up-close:

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This doll scares me a little.  She's angry-looking and kinda spooky.

I've gotten used to Vivienne over the past week (occupational hazard), but she's still intimidating.  Her eyes are really unnatural.  The ghostly blue color is unrealistic and the irises are way too big for her face--there's practically no white showing at the edges of her eyes.  All of this gives her a bit of a supernatural appearance.

She is a far cry from Ms. Evans' joyful portrait, that's for sure:


I actually think that Vivienne has a decent face mold.  She's super-grumpy, sure, but if you look at her mouth in isolation of her eyes, it's not so bad.  In fact, it's quite pretty:


She also has a nice profile:


Ok, so her chin is a little fierce, but it's mostly good.

I think that the eyes are the biggest problem with this face.  If I ever summon enough energy to peroxide the stains, I might attempt an eye-swap, too.  We'll see.

Let's take a closer look at those eyes:


It might help to pull off the lower lashes.  They're too heavy and wide:


The irises are strange, too.  From far away it looks like there's an intentional pattern etched on the irises.  Up close, though, it looks more like the irises are peeling or damaged in some way:


The eyeball is also cloudy--again suggesting that the eyes have degraded over time.  There's no question that Vivienne is an excellent eye-swap candidate.


Eyes are such a critical part of a doll's personality.  When I think about my favorite dolls (both artist dolls and play dolls) most of them have remarkable eyes.  To be clear, remarkable eyes can be expensive mouth-blown German glass eyes, yes, but they can also be well-placed acrylic eyes or beautifully-done painted or applied eyes.  Global Girl clearly took a shortcut with their eye selection and eye fitting steps.  That was a mistake.

Vivienne has pierced ears that can hold real earrings:


This is an interesting feature that I haven't seen before on a play doll.  It's actually surprising to me that more dolls don't have this capability.


I assume that kids could wear Vivienne's earrings and swap their own earrings with her?  That sounds fun, but I don't have pierced ears so I'm not really sure about the possible contraindications for doing this.  Would the earrings get too dirty, perhaps?

The only downside I can see is that the earrings would have to be removed before giving Vivienne to a younger kid.

Vivienne comes wearing a nice-looking, multi-piece outfit featuring a long red dress coat with black velour details.  This coat is the reason I chose Vivienne over the other Global Girl dolls:


She carries a matching velour purse that opens in front with a small square of velcro:




The coat itself is lightweight, but the fabric has a mild roughness that imitates wool quite well:



There are three massively oversized velour-covered buttons on the front:


These buttons are just for decoration.

The collar and cuffs are all carefully done in black velour, too:


The black cuffs and collar of the coat have left faint stains on Vivienne's wrists and neck, but the red wool-like fabric does not appear to cause any staining.

The coat opens down the front with a long strip of velcro.


This coat is unlined, but very nicely constructed:


Underneath the coat, Vivienne is wearing a black and white striped tee shirt over black stretch leggings:


This striped shirt seems like such a French cliché.  I feel like all she's missing is a beret and a mustache.  However...I did a small amount of reading online and discovered that these striped "Breton" shirts are actually quite popular in France...so it's a good choice.

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I think Vivienne also would have looked great in a replica of the little blue dress that's on the cover of her book:


The tee shirt opens all of the way down the back with a long strip of velcro:


And under the tee shirt...


Vivienne is wearing an ill-fitting knit camisole:


Does the camisole look familiar to you?

Deja-vu.
We'll get back to that in a sec.  

I had to remove Vivienne's shoes and leggings in order to get a better look at her underwear.


The loose-fitting shoes are made out of imitation leather.  They have cardboard-like soles and a simple velcro strap:



Ok, here's a better look at Vivienne's underwear:


Oh, wait a minute--look at her legs!

Zut alors!
Yikes.  I should have guessed that these would be badly stained, too.


A little research into bleeding fabrics and vinyl could have prevented this.  It's really sad to see, especially after the above-and-beyond attention that I know Maru and Friends gives to this kind of detail.

I should mention that I did not inspect Vivienne's legs in 2014 on the day she arrived.  I looked at her neck and then immediately put her away.  That means it's possible that the leg stains occurred sometime during the last few years.  Perhaps if I had purchased her and then immediately removed her leggings, these stains would not have happened.  Hard to know for sure.  The neck stains have been there for two and a half years, though.  That's a fact.

Back to the underwear!  The underpants match the camisole:


They also match the My Twinn signature camisole and underwear:

Global Girl underwear, My Twinn underwear.
Things get copied all of the time.  That's life, I suppose.  But this drives me nuts.  Design your own freaking underwear.  It can't be that hard.


Global Girl could have left out the underwear completely (it's a pain to get these pieces on and off anyway) or they could have designed something fun and new that actually makes their dolls distinct.

Also, whenever I see blatant copying like this, it puts me on high alert.  What else has been copied, I wonder?  I suppose this is the teacher part of me waging the war against plagiarism.  Sigh.

Anyway, the underwear is stained on both sides because of the dark stripes in the shirt:


At least this underwear protected the body from more staining...I guess. But there's so much staining on the neck and legs already, this doesn't offer much consolation.

Can you tell I'm crabby?  Sorry.  I'll try to get over it.

Vivienne has a body that's like a hybrid between My Twinn and Karito Kids (or Journey Girls):


She has a vinyl chest with elastic-strung head and arms, but then she has a cloth body from the ribcage down to mid-thigh level.  The cloth part of the body has an internal segmented armature just like My Twinn dolls.

For the record, even though the lower part of Vivienne's body has clearly been inspired by My Twinn, it doesn't bother me.  I don't see this as mindless copying--it's taking the best ideas from different doll designs and mixing them together to create something new.  And, as a whole, this body is definitely something new.  And it's great.

There is one small flaw, though.  My doll has a defect in her left arm: the vinyl that should be holding one part of the joint disc is missing:  

The left arm.
This is what it's supposed to look like:

The right arm.
And here's a better look at the defective side:

The left arm again.
The little rim of vinyl is missing in one spot--so the whole arm is at risk of popping off.  I was very careful with this arm throughout the review.

But Vivienne can strike all kinds of poses.  She's one of the best-posing 18-21 inch doll that I own--perhaps only rivaled by her cousin, My Twinn.


Darn those stains, though.  They're really bad:


She can do any kind of split:


She can sit on the ground (with her legs crossed!):


And even do a bridge:


She balances on her own in most poses, too:


There are no photography tricks here--she's just balanced like this!

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Incroyable!

The way Vivienne's body looks and moves is really special and unexpected.  She's soft enough to be cuddly, her neckline looks great in tee shirts, and she can pose like a champ.  I'm a huge fan of this body.  I just wish it wasn't stained.

So, let's take a look at Vivienne next to some of the dolls that appear to have inspired her.

Here she is with a My Twinn doll (Ariel from The My Twinn Project):

Global Girl doll, My Twinn doll.
These two differ slightly in scale, and they have very different upper bodies, but they way they move is similar.

The limb molds are similar, too, though not identical:

Global Girl hand (left), My Twinn hand (right).
I think it's interesting that the hands are the same size--despite the difference in the doll's height and torso size.

My Twinn hand (left), Global Girl hand (right).
The feet are pretty different.  There's some similarity in the shape and placement of the big toe, but nothing else stands out to me:

Global Girl foot (left), My Twinn foot (right).
I'd say that the Global Girl limb shape was probably based to some degree on the My Twinn limb shape, but it's nowhere near as obvious as the way My Twinn used the exact same limb shapes as American Girl for their 18-inch dolls.

Vivienne's size and upper body design are more like that of a Karito Kid.  Here's Vivienne with my Karito Kid Piper (the character from Australia):

Global Girl Vivienne, Karito Kid Piper.
Other than wishing that Piper had Vivienne's lower body articulation, there's no comparison between these two dolls.  Piper is amazing.  She has blissfully silky hair, a distinctive (happy) face, and gorgeous (realistic) green eyes.  She feels heavy and impeccably-made in my hands.  I adore Piper.

Global Girl Vivienne, Karito Kid Piper.
Let's just bask in Piper's awesomeness for a sec:


I even let Piper wear Vivienne's lovely coat and hat--but only for a minute because I was afraid of stains.



Vivienne's upper body also bears a mild resemblance to the Journey Girls:

Global Girl Vivienne, Journey Girl Kelsey.
And although there's not much in common between Vivienne and American Girl dolls (besides the name and the book covers), here's a shot of Viv with Keira, just for reference:

Global Girl Vivienne, American Girl #29.
I haven't said much about Vivienne's wigged hair yet.  I guess I was so distracted by the eyes, body stains, and awesome articulation that I let it slip.

Vivienne's wig has a mix of very pale blonde hair fibers.  The fibers feel ok, but not great.  The hair is not super-silky, and it needs to be brushed out a lot.  Every time I brush it, it seems to immediately find a way to get mussed at the ends.  It's difficult to describe--not bad, but definitely high-maintenance.

Unfortunately, there's a large, rigid fold in my doll's wig that snags the bristles of my brush:


One nice thing is that there are shorter strands of hair near the cap of this wig (like we saw most recently with the WellieWishers)--but the strands are well-balanced and do not look funny or stick out:


The wig can even be braided into pigtails and still look good:



The bangs on this wig are too heavy, though.  I pulled them back with the black scarf to see what Vivienne would look like without oppressive bangs:


I think her face looks slightly less angular, but her eyes are even more soul-piercing: 


In fact, now I'm noticing that Vivienne's right eye is angled so that the inner corner tips downward.   This might be contributing to her angry appearance.

Here are her profile and half-profile with the bangs lifted:


I am starting to really like Vivienne in profile.  I think it's partly because I can't see her full eyes from this angle, but it's also a nice mold.


That picture, above, really makes me want to see this doll with some better eyes.

Using my lame photo-editing skills, here's a rough idea of how Vivienne might look with darker eyes:

Global Girl Vivienne with her eyes digitally re-colored.
Better, I think, but I don't have a trick to make the irises smaller, so I can't completely eliminate Vivienne's alien-eye appearance.

She looks cute with this headband, but of course I can't leave it on for very long or it'll stain her forehead.



I let Vivienne's bangs down and brushed them to the side--the way they were intended to be worn:


She looks like an angry young man from the 18th century.


And here she is with her hair down and her bangs swept to the side:


I had a hard time arranging this wig in a way that looked good to me.  It's so bulky and long and the bangs are simply too heavy.


I think the red hat helps make Vivienne's hair look better.  I especially like how she looks with the tee shirt and hat--no coat.  The pop of red with those electric blue eyes is quite dramatic:

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Also, the hat helps minimize the bangs:


I borrowed some My Twinn socks to use with Vivienne's shoes, and got her dressed in her full outfit so I could take a few more pictures.


Here she is in her coat and hat with her hair pulled back:



And with her hair down:


I was hesitant to put that scarf back on Vivienne's neck, but it covers the stains and makes the outfit look very polished:




The scarf also looks very nice with the underlying tee shirt and leggings:


I just couldn't get used to the hair, though.  The length and bulk made it look messy and shapeless most of the time.



If I keep this doll (and try to remove her stains and replace her eyes...) I will also buy her a new wig.  There's very little about the current wig that I like.  

Because I had nothing to lose, I decided to give the bangs a little trim.

Here's a before picture:


I got out the awesome razor comb that I bought for The Saskia Project:

Be careful, Emily!!
And then I just combed the bangs until I could see Viv's eyes:


Better?


But of course I never know when to stop, and so I continued to razor-comb the wig, making some angled layers near Vivienne's face...and hacking off most of the length in back:

Vivienne with a haircut.
I think this haircut makes Vivienne look even more severe (and more like a teenager), but she also looks stylish and modern...and the hair is way easier to manage.  

For some reason the hair fiber feels better to me in this short length.  I think it's because I can run my fingers through the hair and they don't get caught up on snags at the ends.


I'm not sure I did the right thing by hacking up this wig, but I've always had a hard time resisting a doll haircut.

Avant...et après

Here's Vivienne back in her full outfit--with her new hairstyle:





I did grow accustomed to Vivienne's intense appearance throughout the course of this review--or maybe it's just that I started to focus on the nice things about her, like her profile and her mouth.  She definitely has the potential to be quite pretty.  However, I'm still not very attached to her.  She's challenging to photograph and she doesn't elicit much affection from me.  

She's like a moody teenaged model, not a nine-year-old French girl who loves cooking with her grandpa:


I think one of the issues I'm having with Vivienne is that I've spent the last few months thinking about the Maru and Friends dolls (both the full-sized girls and the Mini Pals).  There are a lot of superficial similarities between these two lines: they're both made by small companies, they both have ethnic diversity in their characters, they're a similar scale, and they sell for a similar price.  But Global Girls got a lot of critical things wrong...while Maru and Friends got almost everything right.

Let's take a quick look at Maru and Friends' Raven character as a reminder.

Raven comes in a lovely chiffon dress with pink satin accents:

Raven by Maru and Friends.
Her face--sculpted by the amazing Dianna Effner--is appealing, childlike and friendly.


The peachy color of her lips doesn't photograph very well, but it looks fine in real life.

Raven's dress is not exactly my style (and this is true of several of the Maru outfits), but there's no denying that it's beautifully-made.  It even has a tulle-lined underskirt:



The dress is accompanied by pink imitation leather sandals that fit Raven's feet perfectly and have some nice little details:


Raven's wig is soft, smooth and wonderful to play with.  The hair fiber is authentically different in texture from the Asian, Latina and Caucasian characters.


The wig also comes with two tiny braids running down the left side of Raven's face.


There's a red winter dress coat in the Maru and Friends collection that's similar to Vivienne's coat...although it has to be purchased separately ($25.99).  Raven looks wonderful in this coat:


The coat feels like it's made out of wool.  It's slightly scratchy and has a nice weight.  The coat is fully lined in pink satin:


The coat closes with tiny metal snaps and has a row of paired (well-scaled) buttons running down the front:


The bottom of the coat is a little wrinkled because I had it stored in the box with Raven--my bad.

The coat is expertly tailored through the waist and has a button detail at the back:



Raven is made out of heavy, smooth vinyl in a lovely dark shade.  Her face is warm and engaging, and the quality of her clothing is hard to beat.


I feel a lot of affection towards this girl.



Raven has the same light brown tiger eyes that we saw on the Tanya Mini Pal.  This is not my favorite color of doll eye, but the eyes are bright and lively with nice depth and realistic detail.


Another thing I like about the Maru and Friends products is that--from what I can tell--they have not copied anything from any other doll company.  The faces and bodies of these dolls were sculpted especially for this line.  The clothing styles are all unique.  Even the name of the company and its resilient Latina heroine are refreshingly authentic.


For those who've read my enthusiastic review of Maru and Friends' Savannah, I love Raven just as much.  She's a treasure.


I'll admit that it's strange to stick a mini review of another doll into this review.  But I did that for two reasons: first, I wanted to photograph something beautiful.  Mainly, though, I wanted all of us to get used to looking at another doll for a little while...and then snap back and look at Vivienne again.  I think this offers an interesting perspective.

Here are Vivienne and Raven together:

Global Girl's Vivienne and Maru and Friends' Raven.
To me, that picture says it all.

This is Vivienne's review, though, so I'll end by showing you two more pictures of just her:



Bottom line?  First, a disclaimer: remember that I purchased this doll two and a half years ago.  I don't know if the company is still selling their first editions or whether there have been updates and improvements.  The website looks exactly the same as it looked back in 2014, and, up until a few months ago, there had been no activity on the Facebook page since October of 2014.  I actually assumed that Global Girl had gone out of business, so their recent revival might herald an upgrade in doll quality.  I hope so, but who knows.  All I can do is share my experience.

To me, Vivienne has a grumpy--almost angry--countenance.  She's off-puttingly intense and has nothing of her book character's enthusiastic charm.  The thing is, I suspect that Vivienne's underlying face mold might be quite lovely, it's just been obscured by ghastly blue eyes and an overpowering wig.  Vivienne's eyes were an electric blue to begin with, but it looks like they've also faded and clouded over the past few years.  This is a similar problem to what the My Twinn company encountered when they switched to low-quality eyes.  The blonde wig is generously thick and long, but the texture of the hair fiber makes the length feel cumbersome, not luxurious.  I like how the wig feels and behaves a little better now that I've given it a serious trim.  Beautiful eyes help people relate to dolls, and premium hair makes dolls really fun to play with.  If I were designing a $90 doll, the last things I would skimp on would be the quality of the eyes and hair.  

Vivienne's underwear set is directly copied from My Twinn.  I find this kind of blatant copying to be lazy and uninspiring.  If I dismiss the underwear, though, Vivienne's multi-piece outfit is attractive and easy to use.  The coat, in particular, is well-made and stylish.  I'd love to be able to share it around among my other dolls.  I also like the striped tee shirt, especially now that I know some background behind the French cliché.  The shoes are lightweight and simple.  They look like they were designed to be worn with socks, but no socks came with this doll.  The black chiffon scarf is a lovely finishing touch on the whole ensemble.  But no matter how nice the clothes look or how well they're sewn, none of the items can be worn without permanently staining everything underneath them.  It's hard to get past that.  It's frustrating how a little research could have spared Global Girl this mishap. 

The best thing about Vivienne is her body design.  The armatured style of a My Twinn's lower body has been combined with an elastic-strung vinyl chest plate.  The result is a highly-flexible, well-balanced body that poses better than any other doll I own in this scale.  Vivienne also looks good in the low-neckline clothing that is so awkward on cloth-torsoed dolls.  And, Vivienne's partially-stuffed body makes her soft enough to cuddle.  It's a really nice body.  As with other elements of Vivienne, though, I worry that the quality of construction is not reliable.  There's a defect in Vivienne's left arm joint that makes me think her whole arm could pop off.

This doll has some bad flaws, no doubt, but there's also a lot of potential here.  If Vivienne had been given realistic eyes, better hair, and clothing that didn't stain, I would probably have been quite happy with her. 

Perhaps the biggest barrier to my affection for the Global Girl dolls is that I'm still under the spell of Maru and Friends.  I can't help but draw parallels between these two small companies: Maru and Friends had a unique idea inspired by a personal story about a real Latina child.  They brought their idea to life using their own vision, a master doll artist, high-quality materials, and impressive attention to detail.  Global Girl seems to have taken a well-worn idea that they thought was unique and brought it to the market using a great body design, some good ideas...and a lot of shortcuts.  Sadly, those shortcuts have taken a serious toll on poor Vivienne.

Triste.

43 comments:

  1. Oh dear, those eyes... I thought immediately of the Hearts for Hearts dolls but they were a lot cheaper and their face moulds looked pretty good even with the discoloured eyes.

    Vivienne has a lot of issues for her price.

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  2. Glad to see you back! Sad to hear how bad Vivienne stained :( I would love to see her in a new wig and with new eyes (and maybe some added color in her lips? They are so pale they give her even more of a sickly appearance in my opinion). I think with a revamp project this poor doll could bear something really special.
    ~Dynamo Dolls

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  3. Heh, flaws aside, Vivienne's pale vinyl and creepy eyes makes me think that she would be a great part of a "Children of the Corn"-themed Halloween display!

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    1. Ha, seriously! I have lots of dolls but I Think this one is the first i've ever been slightly frightened by.

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  4. Vivienne's eyes don't seem to fit her face, and though a doll doesn't necessarily have to have a big smile, she seems to be pouting. I imagine benzoyl peroxide would do wonders on those stains, if you thought it was worth the time.

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  5. She looks to me more like a three-hundred-year old severe elven queen than a fourth grader. Your haircut was definitely an improvement, though, and the prospect of new eyes is very exciting!

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    1. It would be interesting to see her dressed as an elven queen. I agree about the haircut and would love to see her with new eyes and stains removed.

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  6. Gosh she's mad, like.. wow that's one grumpy slightly stabby looking doll lol.

    In a way, I like that... but it's so disconnected with the character as presented in the book. Why on earth is she so mad!?

    Such a bummer about the clothing. I look forward to seeing her all fixed up.

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  7. With those narrow, upturned eyes and that downturned mouth, you could slap a brown wig on her, and she would look like Melania Trump.

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    Replies
    1. HAHA yes! I love your idea, Toy Box Philosopher should do that!
      -Genya

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    2. I was also going to comment that I think she looks like Melania!

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    3. Wow. WOW. I was trying to figure out why she looked familiar! You are absolutely right!!

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  8. I kinda like her stern face, myself. It reminds me of so many instances where I'd be cajoled to "smile!" while my picture was being taken but I just wanted to run off and play. She looks like she's a little sulky and bored, which might not have appealed to me much as a kid, but as an adult I find that much character in a doll's face pretty interesting!

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  9. I'd never heard of these before, but one thought came into my mind as I studied Vivian's sculpt - she might make a nice boy doll? But I agree that she looks very little like the cheerful, smiling girl in the book. I always love your reviews, Emily, though this is my first time posting. Thanks for sharing all you do!
    Becca T.

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  10. I don't know why but she reminds me of Shrek.
    However, I'd like to say that I'm not fond of countries Global Girl chose for this line. I mean, France, Russia, China? To my mind, it's too common. It's ALWAYS France. I'm not trying to say that they should choose the smallest possible country but maybe for example Greece? Or any Scandinavian country? I haven't seen a lot of Greek characters in doll's world but I feel like there's at least one French girl in every line. Not trying to hate on France or any other country, I think they're all beautiful and definitely worth seeing but Global Girl company talks about "different countries and cultures in a meaningful, inspirational and empowering way" so perhaps something fresh and new would be more inspirational? (Well, at least French girl isn't keen on fashion, cooking is something fresh, I guess). Europe is so much more than France and Russia and Asia is more than China and Japan. I would go right away and buy a doll which is supposed to resemble a Romanian girl or Portuguese or Indonesian or whatever but I'm not crazy about another French one.
    I just wanted to say that and one more time: I'm not trying to say that there's something wrong about any of these countries. I just like diversity among dolls.

    The review is great, as always :).

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    1. I love France, and my daughter's a major lover of France, but I agree. The same countries keep coming up over and over again. I'd like to see Greece, Latvia, Bolivia, somewhere in Africa that isn't "general Africa," Laos, and Surinam.

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  11. I think another one of the problems with this doll are the eyebrows. You can barely see them, and she looks like she didn't have eyebrows at all. That might also be what gives her that grumpy appearance.
    Glad you're back, and I hope you can repair the ceiling soon.

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  12. Pardon me of this is a repeat. I tried to post earlier but my internet was acting up, so I don't think my comment actually went through, but...
    I think the haircut is a great improvement,although it makes her look even more like a teenager.She definitely doesn't look as young as the character.) I think a big part of her stern look has got to be that frowny mouth.She looks so grouchy.(You could just pretend she is a teenager.That would explain the grouchiness!)

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    1. None of the dolls look like kids. The one from Argentina looks nearly middle-age.

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  13. Poor Vivienne! I think she's pretty, but those eyes are pitiful. Maybe she might look better with darker eyebrows too? Either way I can't wait to see what you do with this young lady, IF you chose to try and fix her!

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  14. There's something about this doll's sculpt that reminds me of some porcelain doll sculpts I saw years ago by an artist named Jan Garnett. I don't know at all if this is her sculpt but there's a certain beautiful but angry intensity to the features with some of her sculpts too (google her doll molds Ashlyn, Dallas and London). When dolls are translated into vinyl from the original sculpt (even if an established artist is used) a lot can be lost, and the artist may not retain control of how the doll is finished from what I've been told. Add poor tinting of the vinyl, poor painting, poor eyes and inferior wig (though I didn't mind yours) and you will do in even the best initial design. I agree with you that the Global Girls doll has a lot of potential to be really fine, and that aspects of her features are great. I think not just the poseability of the body but its overall proportions indicate a talented hand. I would certainly invest time and energy into your doll if she were mine. I will say though that I think it is a bit unfair to compare the doll to Maru & Friends who somehow got Dianna Effner behind them. Clearly they had much better resources than Global Girls had. Still, whatever struggles the company may have been going through in 2014 there's no excuse for bad customer service. Who knows? You just may have the beginnings of an exceptional ooak doll that --with a bit of customizing --you'll come to love.

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  15. Thanks for your review. I like her, she reminds me of French star Sylvie Vartan or a very young Jeanne Moreau. So they did nail the French aspect.:-)
    I agree that the lack/lightness of eyebrows is giving her a severe expression but even that doesn't bother me, I prefer a perpetually serious doll face to a smiling one. My favorite child dolls are Corolle Cheries and they can look pretty grumpy sometimes but they grow on you.
    It's a pity she got those black stains from her clothing. I can understand why the seams of Maru's red dress could stain her but at least the company tried to protect her by lining it, here they made no effort at all. What state would she be in if more time had passed? Considering her outfit, putting tights on her and making her top a turtleneck ( another French favorite) could have prevented the stains.
    I hope she gets a chance to be in a future batch of dolls you restore.

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  16. I feel like she might look less mad if she had a little color on her lips. She does look better after the haircut. She's certainly overpriced for what you get though. I always like learning about new dolls so it was nice to read your review.

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  17. Yes to haircut. Yes to boy doll conversion. Def yes to Melania mini me.

    That said, I don't care for her either. I have a Soy Tu doll I would compare her to who also has a more serious expression but well executed. She also looks more like the illustrations.

    I hate copying, bad customer service and poor construction. It's the trifecta of "Stay Away!" This one was an expensive trifecta. Of you rewigged, eye swapped and outfitted like Melania at Inauguration, you'd have a best seller lol. Good luck!

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  18. Oh! Wonderful fun and excellent photos, writing and information. How to learn what to look for when buying a doll. Fabric, sewing and finishes, as well as style of doll and child who will play with that type of doll/so well done. More delight than a old lady who loves doll history. Thanks again, atk

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  19. Vivienne's face reminds me of a few models, namely Gemma Janes and Daphne Groeneveld. I think she's a really pretty doll (but the eyes are really offputting) but i don't understand how she could portray a 9 year old girl. Really sorry about the staining, since her body is definitely her strong point.

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  20. Funny how different people's tastes are. I come here to read your reviews because I like your writing stile more than I may dislike any of the reviewed dolls. But today, I was surprised to discover the first child doll I could actually bond with. I like the creepy eyes, the overkill eyelashes, the pale eyebrows, the sharp chin, the moody face, the crazy pre-haircut wig... As for the stains, I guarantee they'll come off with peroxide. The first couple of weeks you may not notice any change, but if you keep reapplying they will fade eventually. Clothes are less prone to staining after a simple wash and rinse with fabric conditioner; for a better result, add citric acid or vinegar to the rinse. I'm fairly sure there are things you can do to get some use out of this doll, especially since you like the body construction.

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  21. I kind of love her! I prefer more mature faces on my dolls so her severe mold isn't a drawback for me but her face-up is! Everything is WAY too pale, her eyes are bright but washed out, her eyebrows (which are so important to expression and face framing) are practically invisible, and even her lips which are probably a fine color look absolutely sickly with how washed out the rest of her face is. The only thing not washed out is her blush and I feel that's poorly placed making her cheek bones look even more angular than they are. The blonde is too pale with evertyhing else and that staining is SO bad I'd honestly just paint over it before investing weeks into trying to lighten it all.

    That aside I'd be SO invested in watching this girl get customised! Make her your own! You've certainly proven you know how and it's always SO inspiring when you start a customizing project <3 I'd really enjoy seeing how you'd tackle a face after the skills you aquired from the saskia project :o

    For whatever the company did poorly, they got a unique face and great body mold right and I'd find it sad for this doll to forever be a disappointment in a box because of their failings ;n;

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  22. Thank you for the lovely review. It is quite thorough and detailed. I agree that Vivienne looks grumpy - as if she had just been told she couldn't go over to bake with papoua. her large eyes on the verge of leaking hot, angry tears.

    I really like her with the new hairstyle. No she does look like a young, angst-ridden teen. I don't think that is a bad thing. Perhaps she has "resting _itch face" and was made to appeal to youngsters dealing with the same perpetual face.

    The funny thing about your look at Raven...I thought she was quite lovely. Then you put the two together and I thought she looked just as grumpy as Vivenne. Perhaps it is just me.

    It's really too bad about the stains. Doll companies should make sure the fabrics they choose do not leave lasting marks. On the bright side, her feet aren't stained from the shoes and lack of socks.

    Thank you again!
    ~Xyra

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  23. Interestingly enough, I find myself quite liking Vivienne. Though possibly only because she reminds me of a childhood doll of mine who is also quite creepy looking due to similar eye problems (and perhaps also my love of creepy things in general).

    That said there is no excuse for such quality issues. The arm is the worst offender to me since it's the one thing that can't be fixed. The copying is also pretty lazy, and for the money they put into the unnecessary undergarments they could've instead upped the quality of the rest.

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  24. I think a major factor in her looking older and more angular despite her nice profile is that cheek blushing. Its so sharp, almost like contour makeup! Makes her look like an Instagram model instead of a little girl.

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  25. Even before you mentioned American Girl, the idea came to my head. In January 2015, AG released their Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas. Grace goes to France to with her mother to help her aunt, who is pregnant, and her uncle in his bakery. Grace befriends her cousin, and she goes on to enter a baking contest in the US. Her goal is to win money to help her grandparents keep their own bakery afloat. The Grace doll (which my daughter came to want in mid-2016, when the doll was no longer made...and of course I bought the doll and all her outfits on the secondary market for Christmas...) ships in the outfit on the cover of her first book. In fact, all the outfits she's seen in on books or in the movie were made for the doll, and some of them for children!

    AG works on their dolls for a long, long time. It sounds to me like plans for Grace leaked to someone at this Global Girls company.

    Vivienne's eyes are too bright. Combined with her unsmiling face, she's unsettling and hard to look at. Even grumpy, she's got a pretty mold, but it's too much with those eyes. They're making this review hard to get through.

    Even if the stains on her legs weren't there in 2014, they shouldn't be there now. A doll shouldn't have to be stored naked, especially at this price.

    The copying of the underwear bothers me because even the lace, number of stitch lines, and stitch-length were copied.

    With a different wig, non-creepy eyes, and non-staining clothing, I think this doll would be quite nice. Too bad about those flaws though. They're things I wouldn't accept in a $30-doll.

    I looked up other reviews of these dolls, and holy COW, it's like the reviews were written by the companies! They all said, verbatim, after mentioning "research," "there were no doll brands or books that focused on different countries and cultures in a meaningful, inspirational and empowering way," and all but one review also had a list of the dolls in the same order, all as bullet-points. This review: http://www.raveandreview.com/2016/11/global-girl-dolls-introduce-girls-to-the-wider-world-around-them.html is from this past November, and right out of the box, her eyes look awful.

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  26. Her face reminds me a bit of a really pale Makie doll.
    She's not a doll I would want in my collection, that's for sure. When you compared her to Piper...wow...I just love those Karito Kids! :)
    Best line in the whole review for me though was: "She looks like an angry young man from the 18th century." Totally, lol.

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  27. I LOVE this Vivienne doll! I have a book called Vampirates and that's exactly what she makes me think of! An 18th century Vampire. I really love her face and the hair pulled back with the ribbon. But I really like the darker eye color you photoshopped too. Thanks for a very interesting review

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    1. Ooo, you have a point! She could be Claudia from Interview with a Vampire. Cool!

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  28. She really looks like a porcelain doll.

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  29. If you ever get the urge to try and fix her up, maybe some more eyebrow would help her? slightly darker and maybe a shape that looks a bit more sad than angry could transform the expression I think. The lack of them along with the sculpt and eyes just are pretty jarring.

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  30. Wonder if she's related to the Carpatina boy doll you reviewed a while back

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  31. Am I the only one thinking that you could leave all that staining visible, put her in a white dress, and make her a ghost? And I also thought that in the first few pictures of her after the haircut she looked like Darla from the first episode of Buffy. So you've got a doll that's a ghost and a vampire.
    I know, I'm weird.

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  32. "She looks like an angry young man from the 18th century."

    *sings* "Alexander Hamilton/My name is Alexander Hamilton/There's a million things I haven't done, but just you wait, just you waaaaiiiit..."

    I had a feeling the company wasn't very set on originality when I saw that the Chinese girl is called Mei Ling. Is there a more cliched female Chinese name? But to see they basically resortet to plagiarism is just sad.
    Also, am I the only one who is a bit uncomfortable with the fact that all of the other dolls wear a set "typical"/clichéd from their country (Vivienne in the French style coat and hat, Marcela in a Quinceañera-esque party dress, Mei Ling in a qipao, Tiffany in urban street wear, and Tatiana in the fluffy coat and flat hat), while Amahle as the only black girl wears Leopard print...? Sure, putting her in Zulu garb is risqué, not to say unattractive on the doll bodies, but Leopard print I find a bit unwarranted.

    But I have to say, I like Vivienne's facemold! I think with better eyes she would be very attractive. I have to say, I don't mind angry-looking dolls when the facemold is otherwise attractive. (Kelsey up there is actually another pretty good example of it.) It's much better than, say, the spaced-out look of most of the Gali Girl dolls that couldn't decide if it wanted to be a toddler or a tween face, or the bug-eyed American Girl plagiarism face the Springfield dolls sport. The design of Vivienne's clothes is also great, but I can see from the pictures I don't like the material of that coat!

    It is interesting to read a negative review from you! I can understand they are taxing for you, but it provides a good contrast to your usual, quite positive, if sometimes slightly disappointed, reviews.

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  33. Vivienne looks a bit like an effeminate man to me. It's not a bad look, but at complete odds with her written character. She's got a grumpy teen vibe for sure, and that haircut didn't help the matter, but she looks really good (in my opinion) especially after the haircut.

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  34. The eyes and staining really do make her look like a vengeful specter

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