Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Life As Mini Dolls from Walmart

I was looking around my studio the other day, trying to decide what to review next, and I realized that I have a lot of mini versions of 18-inch play dolls sitting around--some brand new, some that have been here for several months.  The exact same day that I had this realization, I went to Walmart to buy grass seed (our yard is a lifeless mud pit), swung through the toy section...and spotted two of the new My Life As mini dolls.  That's when it hit me that I should do a sequence of shorter reviews showcasing some of these newer minis--a mini series about mini dolls, if you will.

This mini series will include the newest Maru Mini Pals (on their way to me as I type!), a Kidz 'n' Cats mini doll, some of the newer Our Generation minis (and Lori dolls), maybe my mini (and full-sized!) American Girl Melody dolls...and of course the My Life As minis I just discovered.  In fact, I'll start things off with the My Life As minis because they feel really new and exciting to me right now.  Here's my favorite of the bunch:

My Life As a Baker mini doll ($9.88).
My goal with this mini series is to review each mini doll, summarize what's going on with the larger dolls from that line, and then photograph several of the dolls outdoors.  In theory this is a good idea (spring in Maine is often glorious), but in practice it hasn't gone very well so far (lifeless mud pit).  I'm hoping that the weather improves as my series progresses.

The two dolls I bought first are the baker and the schoolgirl:

My Life As a Baker (left) and My Life As a Schoolgirl (right) mini dolls.
These two offer a nice contrast, and they both have cute outfits.  

All four of the dolls in this series are pictured on the back of each box:


In addition to Schoolgirl and Baker, there's also a brunette Outdoorsy Girl and a redheaded Cowgirl:


Of course I really wanted to like the redhead, but the doll at my nearest Walmart store had wonky eyes and a scuffed nose, so I passed on her the first time around.

The back of each box also has a small advertisement for the My Life As website:


I spent a little bit of time on this website (enough time to see that there are now two boy dolls available in the 18-inch collection!) but I didn't do any of the activities.

The baker (who I will call Victoria from now on--because of the baker character on How I Met Your Mother...) came mounted on a bright pink backdrop:


She was attached to the backdrop with some clear rubber bands and long (easy to cut) plastic ties.  There were zero...and I repeat, zero...small plastic ties stuck into her head!  The packaging was refreshingly easy to manage.

Here's Victoria out of the box:


Her hair came tied into three sections.  The two side sections were used to secure her head against the backdrop, the middle section was just to keep the remaining hair under control:


The hair brushed out into long layers...with only a few little waves and kinks left over from the packaging:


She's a bright, happy-looking little doll:

review

Victoria is a miniature version of the 18-inch blonde My Life As a Baker doll, who is pictured on the back of the redheaded My Life As a Baker's box (which I own):


The redheaded baker is adorable--I'll show her to you later.  The blonde version is also nice (I've seen her in stores) but she looks bug-eyed and startled on the back of this box:

There's something creepy on that flower...or she just had way too much coffee.
Victoria's face is more peaceful...although she does have the oversized iris syndrome that seems to be the theme of this week:

review

The eyes get downright hypnotic when you look at them up close:

You are getting sleepy...
Not only are the irises too big, but the pupils are really small.  I actually think that this helps focus Victoria's gaze and thereby makes her eyes appear more reasonably-scaled (especially from a distance), but up close it makes her stare look beady and almost maniacally intense.

The eyes are a mix of slate blue and lighter turquoise, with an overlaying swirly grey iris pattern:


Both the upper eyelashes and the stylized eyebrows are painted on in a light ginger brown color.  Unlike the larger My Life As dolls, Victoria's eyes are fixed in place and do not close.

Victoria's outfit includes a pink knit headband that helps keep her hair out of her face:


She has a cute little button-nosed profile.

Victoria's headband fits her so well, that--once again--no plastic ties (none!) were used to attach it to her head.  It just slid right off: 

Like magic!
The headband has a section of elastic at the back that ensures a tight fit:


The headband has finished edges and holds its shape on Victoria's head really well.


Victoria's blonde hair is wonderfully shiny and silky-smooth.  It's effortless to brush and looks good even when it hasn't been brushed.  The hair is rooted, and the density of hair plugs is excellent for this size of doll:


Here's a closer look at the rooting:


And here's Victoria's hair without the headband:


She has fantastic hair.

As usual, I tied the hair back into a single ponytail while I looked at the outfit.  The layers in Victoria's hair are long enough to fit into a ponytail, but the shorter layers stick out at the top:


One thing to notice in the picture, above, is how high Victoria's hairline is in the back.  The rooting stops at about the level of the bottom of her ear, leaving a large bare patch on the back of her head.

This might also be a good time to mention that Victoria does not balance on her own as well as I thought she would.  She has a tendency to tip over backwards, and this tendency is made worse by the concentrated weight of a ponytail.  I could usually get her to stand by tipping her body slightly forward and using her arms as counterbalances.

Here's another quick peek at her round face with the hair out of the way:

Toy Box Philosopher

I think of the larger My Life As dolls (especially my first wave Schoolgirl, Elise) as having rounded faces with oversized foreheads.  Victoria's head is definitely round, but her forehead does not strike me as too tall.

She comes wearing a colorful shirt and legging outfit that's accented by a short turquoise baking apron:


The apron ties in the back, but the thick strings are difficult to capture in a complete bow:


The apron is made out of a thick woven fabric and has a shimmery pink trim:


It looks very well-sewn and durable:


I was worried that Victoria's shirt and leggings would look too plain without the apron, but they're actually quite practical and cute:


The shirt's cupcake decal helps keep the outfit interesting:


The cuffs on the shirt are very narrow, and so they tend to flip outwards, like this:


That's an easy thing to fix, but it gets a little tiresome to do it every single time the shirt is taken off and put back on.

The pink shirt opens in back with a long velcro seam:


The shirt looks well-sewn, with all of the edges finished...


...but again, some of the seam allowances are so narrow, they appear at risk of unraveling or losing their shape:


Victoria's white leggings have a simple, ankle-length shape and an elastic waistband:


The pant legs ride up on the inseam a little bit:


Victoria's shoes are pink vinyl flats with little buckles molded onto the toes:


The shoes have treads and were apparently made in China:


The shoes are not tight, but they do seem to stay in place pretty well.

Victoria has an all-vinyl body with five simple points of articulation:



I find it interesting that she's marked with a 2015 CitiToy copyright--that's a while ago!


My doll has a small molding defect on the left side of her bottom--like a little dimple.

There's not a lot of molded detail on Victoria's body, but her fingers and toes have little nails and joint wrinkles:


And the toe definition continues on the bottoms of her feet:


Victoria's rotating hip joints allow her to do full front-to-back splits, but she can only balance in this position if her arms are straight out in front of her (probably because of the weight of that ponytail):


Because of the wide angle of her hip joints, when Victoria sits on the ground it looks like she's doing side-to-side splits (and again, she needs her arms as counterweights here):


With her hair let down and pushed forwards, Victoria can sit on the ground with her arms relaxed at her sides:


She can also pose in a walking position, as long as her legs don't get too far apart:


Victoria is taller and wider than Our Generation and American Girl mini dolls, but it's the difference in head size here that stands out to me:

From left: Our Generation mini doll, My Life As mini doll, American Girl mini doll.
I find this to be true of the larger My Life As dolls, too, by the way.  They look fine to me when I'm posing them on their own, but when I pose them next to another doll in the same scale, they look like balloon-heads.

My Life As minis will be able to share some clothing with the Our Generation minis...and the Our Generation shoes fit Victoria perfectly.  They fit even better than her own shoes:

My Life As a Baker mini wearing Our Generation dress and shoes.
The reciprocal situation is not true, though.  My Life As clothing is slightly baggy on Our Generation minis, and the My Life As shoes are too big:

Our Generation mini wearing My Life As a Baker outfit.
The shoe discrepancy is probably because Our Generation dolls tend to come wearing socks.

Not all American Girl mini clothing will fit Victoria.  BeForever Kit's dress, for example, is too tight in the top (Victoria can't lower her arms) and won't fasten in the back:

My Life As a Baker mini trying to wear an American Girl dress.
Some of the cloth-bodied American Girl mini clothes might fit better.  For example, the older Kit's skirt fits Victoria very well.  Here's that skirt with an Our Generation top (Kit's cardigan will not fit over Victoria's head):

My Life As a Baker mini wearing Our Generation shirt and American Girl skirt.
A few dolls that are similar in height (and head size) to Victoria are the Madame Alexander Travel Friends and Robert Tonner's Patsyette:

From left: Madame Alexander Travel Friend, My Life As a Baker mini, Robert Tonner Patsyette.
As large as Victoria's head is, I have to say that it's Patsyette's body that looks bizarre to me in that picture!  I adore that doll--don't get me wrong--but her peanut-shaped thorax torso and funny legs make me think of insects.  Now I'm itchy.  Great.

Lottie is also about the same height as Victoria--but Lottie is significantly slimmer:

Lottie doll with My Life As a Baker mini.
The Maru Mini Pals are in a different scale than all of these other small dolls, but here's a picture of Maru and Victoria anyway:

Maru and Friends Mini Pal with My Life As a Baker mini.
And just for fun (also because I really like these dolls and they didn't stay on the shelves for nearly long enough...) here's Victoria with my mini Moxie Girlz Friends doll, Neve:

My Life As a Baker mini with Moxie Girlz Friends doll.
I thought those little Friends were delightful, affordable mini dolls.  Oh, well.

Victoria's clothes are easy to get on and off, but those cuff seams cause trouble.  This is what her outfit looked like right after I re-dressed her:


With her clothes back on, Victoria was all ready to meet her new friend, My Life As a Schoolgirl:


I will name this little one Alicia (after Alicia Silverstone in Clueless...because for some reason plaid skirts make me think of the fashion in that movie):

review

Here's the box picture of the larger Schoolgirl doll:


I really wish that the mini doll had been given those red glasses!  They're great.

Other than the glasses, the mini version is wearing an excellent replica of the larger doll's outfit:

review

Notice how flat the back of Alicia's hair was when she first came out of the box, though:


All of the mini dolls have the same face mold, but Alicia has dark skin and brown eyes:


The alignment of these eyes is not perfect, but it's not as bad as it was on some of the dolls I saw in the store.  My doll also has a red mark on her nose that I didn't notice until I got her home:

Toy Box Philosopher

I used my fingers to try and fluff out the hair at the back of Alicia's head:


I also took off the headband to see what the shape of her hair looks like without it.  This is another simple but well-made headband that stays in place really well without the need for any plastic ties:


Here's Alicia with her hair loose and finger-combed:


I think the hair looks good from the front, but it has a funny shape in profile.  Let me show you:


Alicia's rooted hairline is just as high in the back as Victoria's, and this means that the hair is thick and dense on top of the head in front, but thin and a little flat-looking in back.

Alicia's plaid skirt is made out of a fuzzy imitation wool fabric.  It has a few soft, wide pleats: 


Under the skirt, Alicia is wearing underpants (Victoria does not come with underpants) and a crisp white collared shirt with a huge black bow:


The bow is stitched onto the shirt and the shirt opens all of the way down the front with a wide velcro seam:


The finishing on this garment is very nice:


Alicia is wearing black boots to complete her outfit.  These have a few small molded details and a large slit in the back that makes them easy to remove:


Here are Victoria and Alicia together:

My Life As a Baker mini and My Life As a Schoolgirl mini.
Ok, so both dolls have large eyes, but I think that Victoria's blue eyes look more normal from a distance--probably because of the pale color and contrasting small pupil.  My son, however, thinks that Alicia's darker eyes are much more natural-looking, probably because they don't have such a pinpoint, focused stare.  What do you guys think?

My opinion is not enviable because Victoria is the only blue-eyed My Life As mini doll--the other three all have brown eyes.

Speaking of the other three dolls...I decided to try my luck and order the little redheaded cowgirl character from Walmart.com.  Happily, she does not have wonky eyes or any facial stains:

review

Here's a box photo of the larger version of this character:


The smaller doll is missing the mini cowboy hat (no great loss in my opinion), but otherwise her outfit captures all of the same elements.

I'm going to name this doll Jane.  My brain works in strange ways, but I should probably explain: Jane Fonda was in this obscure 1979 cowboy movie with Robert Redford called The Electric Horseman.  I must have seen the movie for the first time in the mid 80s after my dad acquired his first Pioneer Laserdisc player....and then about ten times after that.  Anyway, I loved this movie....perhaps as much as my dad loved Jane Fonda.  There's this part at the end with wild horses that still makes me cry every time.  So, when I think of cowboys I think of this movie, and then I think of Jane Fonda.  There you have it.

Jane's hair is a gorgeous cinnamon red color.  It's cut into the same long-layered style as Victoria's hair:


This hair feels incredible, too.

Jane has brown eyes (with oversized irises) and peach-colored lips:

review

Jane's eyes are the same color as Alicia's eyes, but they don't look as good to me.  Something about the contrast with Jane's pale skin makes the eyes look lifeless.  

Here are Jane's eyes up close:


And Alicia's:


I always feel bad when I say that I don't like brown-eyed dolls as much as I like blue or green-eyed dolls.  It's not that I don't like brown eyes.  Brown eyes on real people are gorgeous (as are brown eyes on real dogs!), but there's just something about darker imitation eyes that can look empty and lifeless to me.  I think Jane is a good example of this, and her huge irises don't help matters.

Anyway, Jane's outfit is all one piece.  There's a denim blouse on top and a layered tulle skirt on the bottom...


...and a brown satin ribbon that connects the two halves in the middle:


All of the shirt's details are applied.  Unfortunately, the edges of each appliqué are shiny and look especially fake from some angles:


The skirt has an upper tulle layer with polka dots and an underskirt with a ruffled tulle trim:


Jane, like Alicia, is wearing underpants.

Jane's dress opens half way down in the back with velcro:


This outfit might be my least favorite in terms of style, but it's by far the easiest outfit to manage.  It slips on and off with no issues whatsoever.

Jane's headband is made out of a satiny cream-colored ribbon that matches the tulle skirt:


The entire headband is made out of elastic, so the attached ribbon takes on a rippled texture when the elastic is relaxed:


Jane's boots are the most elaborate footwear in this group.  They have a lot of molded detail...



...including fancy treads on the bottom:


Here are my three girls all together!

From left: My Life As a Cowgirl mini, My Life As a Baker mini, My Life As a Schoolgirl mini.
There's not a lot of mixing and matching that can take place with these three outfits.  If I'd added Outdoorsy Girl to the mix, her outfit pieces might have been compatible with Victoria's, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

I wanted to see how these girls look in each other's outfits, though.  In particular, I wanted to put Jane into Victoria's baker outfit.  

When I put the leggings on Jane, it became very clear why Victoria does not come with her own underwear.  They're too bulky under leggings:


Here's a better look (also, notice that pesky hem!):


Here's Jane in the full baker outfit:

My Life As a Cowgirl wearing the baker outfit.
I'm not sure pink is the best color for Jane.

The whole reason I wanted to put Jane into this outfit, though, is that I wanted to create a mini version of my larger (redheaded) My Life As a Baker doll, who I call Amber (hope you don't mind, Amber Spaulding!).

Meet Amber:

18-inch My Life As a Baker.
Jane has the exact same hair color as Amber, but Amber's bright green eyes make a big difference in her overall appearance:

18-inch My Life As a Baker doll with My Life As a Cowgirl mini dressed in the baker outfit.
I can see my son's point about eyes the more I look at these dolls in photographs.  Jane definitely has a softer look, especially compared to Amber's piercing, leaf-green eyes.  But I still prefer Amber's eyes to Jane's.

There are little differences in the two outfits, also.  For example, Amber's leggings have colorful polka dots and her headband has a big flower with a pom-pom center.  In this case, I actually prefer the simpler interpretation of the mini baker outfit.

While outfits were getting swapped around, Victoria got to try out the schoolgirl clothes:

My Life As a Baker mini dressed in a schoolgirl outfit.
I think this outfit suits Victoria, and she makes a pretty good mini version of the 18-inch blonde Schoolgirl doll (although the large doll has darker blue/teal eyes and glasses):


Last but not least, Alicia got to wear the cowgirl dress:

My Life As a Schoolgirl mini dressed in the cowgirl outfit.
This might be my favorite outcome.  The brown accents in the cowgirl outfit really bring out Alicia's complexion and eyes.  Also, the cream-colored headband is visible (and attractive!) among Alicia's dark curls:

A winning combination!
While I was in the middle of writing this review--just after I finished swapping the girls' clothes, in fact--I took a trip to another nearby Walmart store to see if I could find one of the 18-inch My Life As boy characters.  I thought they might be a fun addition to this review, but was not convinced enough by their promotional pictures to order online sight-unseen.  

If you haven't seen photos of the boys yet, here are a few from Amber's box:


There's a black boy with brown eyes:


And another boy with medium-tan skin and brown eyes (who I thought might have red hair):


Unlike the female characters, the boys appear to have their own unique face molds.

As if searching for the boys wasn't enough of a sidetrack, while I was at Walmart the second time, I discovered this!

My Life As a Beach Vacationer mini doll!

It's Victoria in a bathing suit!!  Apparently, there's another set of four mini dolls that I didn't see the first time I went shopping.  

Technically, there's only one new doll in this mix, though, because the other three are just redressed versions of Victoria and Alicia:

Sleepover Host duo.
The wedding planner doll is completely new, though.  Not only does she have a different hair color, but I think she has a different skin tone:

She also has super-wonky eyes in that picture.
Sadly, Wedding Planner was the only one of these four who was not at Walmart the day I was there.  I would have loved to see her in person!

I was hoping I'd be able to compare the two boy dolls side-by-side, but only one of them was in stock.  I decided to bring him home and take a closer look.  I really wanted to name this guy Ryan (doesn't he look like a Ryan?) but I just reviewed a Ryan doll, so this will have to be Dylan instead:

review

Dylan's eyes are more almond-shaped than the girl dolls' eyes, and he also has a slightly darker skin tone than the caucasian girls.  I'm not really sure if this is meant to be a clue to his ethnicity, though.  I've often noticed that boy dolls will not be given the same wide, perfectly round eyes as their female counterparts.  Prince Stephan from the Carpatina line is a good example of this, and I don't think Tenney and Logan have the same eye shape, either.

Dylan's character is called My Life As a Schoolboy.  It's odd that all of the My Life As a Schoolgirl dolls are wearing uniforms, but the boys are dressed very casually.  Double standard?  

Dylan is wearing jeans, a knitted skull cap, and a grey camouflage-sleeved tee shirt with a graphic of Saturn:

review


I feel like this shirt is trying to encapsulate several different young boy archetypes all at once.

The hat looks good and stays on Dylan's head without the help of plastic ties.  I gotta say, I'm loving this trend!


Under the hat, Dylan has short brown hair.  The hair might have the tiniest tinge of red in it, but it's basically brown:


Dylan's hair is cropped into very short layers.  It looks ok overall, but there are some stray, longer hairs sticking out here and there that make the cut look sloppy:


Also, while the hat seems to have done a good job of keeping the hair flat in most areas, there's a section sticking up in back that's hard to smooth down:


The hair is too short to brush.

Here's Dylan's left side:


And here's a peek at the rooting:


The hair plugs don't look especially dense, but the scalp ends up being well-concealed by the short cut.

It'll be easy to tidy up this hairstyle.  Overall, I'm impressed that CitiToy attempted such a short, layered approach.  They didn't do a bad job.

Toy Box Philosopher

Dylan has flecked brown eyes and thick eyebrows with very simple hair lines that angle sharply downwards at the outer edge:  


I recognize this iris pattern from the Vanange dolls and my Ruth Treffeisen Zoey:


I haven't seen any of the My Life As girl dolls with this type of iris pattern, though.  I wish the company had kept the design consistent across the entire collection.

Dylan does not have any eyelashes, and his eyes are fixed in place and do not close.  I understand that an almond-shaped eye might not accommodate the eye mechanism that's used on the girl dolls.  Fine.  But the absence of eyelashes makes no sense.  Are eyelashes not considered attractive for boys and men these days?  If that's the consensus opinion, I have to adamantly disagree.

Dylan has a cute smirk on his face and nicely-colored lips:


His shirt opens down the back...to reveal a plastic covering that's presumably been added to protect his vinyl from staining:


It's nice that Walmart wants to protect the doll from stains, but this is only a short-term solution.  I'd rather have a company that invests in stain resistant fabrics from the start.  Maru and Friends does an outstanding job with this, as (apparently) does A Girl For All Time (anyone who's getting Bex and Elinor Indiegogo updates will know what I mean!).

Anyway, the plastic didn't cover all of Dylan's torso, so there are a few faint stains on his body, most of them near his neck.

Under the shirt, Dylan is wearing a pair of jeans...and he has a full vinyl torso.  It's strange that there are so many differences from the already-established (and well-liked?) My Life As female body.


The jeans have yellow stitched details with working belt loops (but no belt) and non-working pockets:


Dylan's shoes are black canvas sneakers with white rubber treads, white elastic laces, and a white mesh lining:


Dylan's feet were lined with plastic to protect them from these shoes, too, so I'm a little nervous about leaving the shoes on for any length of time.


Dylan has a stiff, all-vinyl body with five simple points of articulation...just like the mini dolls:



Well, this body is not just like the mini doll body.  One important distinction is that the mini dolls are made out of softer vinyl so--for example--their arms can bend and flex below the shoulder.  Dylan is made out of hard vinyl and his arms don't bend much at all.

It's funny because Dylan also has a 2015 CitiToy copyright mark on his back...just like the minis:


Dylan's joints are similar to those on the mini dolls, too.  His head can only swivel around...in theory.  My doll actually has a super-wobbly neck joint, and so he can look up and down a little bit (although it doesn't seem like he should be able to do this).  His arms and legs can only rotate:


Like the mini dolls, Dylan's leg angle is very wide, and so when he sits on the ground, he's essentially doing side-to-side splits.  Sitting in a chair wouldn't work well for him.

Just for fun, let's look at photos of Dylan's body and Victoria's body side-by-side:


Other than their scale, Dylan and Victoria have more in common than Dylan and Amber!  Here are Dylan and Amber:

18-inch My Life As a Baker doll with My Life As a Schoolboy doll.
Not only does Amber have a soft lower torso, but she has wires in her soft vinyl legs so she can do things like this:


She can also sit in chairs and ride horses better than Dylan ever could.

The all-vinyl body, fixed eyes, and flimsy neck joint are disappointing here.  The change in body style is not reflected in the dolls' advertising, either, which is setting shoppers up for a disappointment.  Here's a excerpt from Dylan's online description at Walmart.com:

Add variety to a toy box with the My Life As 18" Schoolboy Doll....This collectible friend is poseable with a soft torso. Its hair is rooted, so it's ready to brush and style for hours of playtime fun. This toy comes in a casual outfit with beanie, tee and denim jeans. Most 18" doll clothing and accessories will fit this My Life As doll. It has a PVC surface that is easy to wipe clean when dirty. The soft torso is ideal for cuddles and hugs.

If Dylan's price had been lower than the female dolls' price, some of these disappointments might have been offset, but he costs $28 just like the rest of 'em.

I think that the additional boy outfits are overpriced, too (they cost $9.97).  However, one of my sons always wore shark tee shirts when he was little, so I had a hard time resisting this extra outfit for Dylan:

Toy Box Philosopher

The outfit includes the shirt, a pair of elastic-waisted jean shorts, and a hat.  There are no shoes.


I love the shark...but now I wonder if that dark neckline will stain?


I think that the mini dolls are a good deal for just under $10, but this extra outfit is not quite worthy of its $10 price.


One perk with Dylan is that his outfits can be shared with the 18-inch girls.  Amber seems to like this option!

18-inch My Life As a Baker wearing My Life As a Schoolboy's outfit.
18-inch My Life As a Baker wearing My Life As a Schoolboy's outfit.
I actually left the outfit on Amber for a few days to see if it would stain her vinyl.  So far, so good.  

One thing I want to mention here is that after handling the minis for a while, both Amber and Dylan felt really stiff and hard to manage.  Little kids would certainly have an easier time posing the minis.

The last thing I did was pack Amber and all of my mini dolls into a bag and take them out on a walk.
The weather right now is in the 90s, but back when I took these pictures it was windy and cold...and a little too overcast for photographs!

Dark Victoria.
Still, I persisted and got a few shots of each doll near a beautiful pond.  When the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, I was able to get a better-lit portrait of Victoria:


(Victoria stole Alicia's boots for these pictures--it was muddy out there!)

I asked Jane to sit on this bridge so that I could see more of the pond in her background:



Even a tiny bit of sun was enough to make Jane's lovely red hair appear to glow:


Alicia took her boots back and had her turn posing by the pond...although she was distracted by a huge flock of geese that landed just as we were getting set up!


I did manage to get a front-on shot after the geese flew away:



My plan was to pose Amber and Victoria in the woods together, so I had them both climb up onto this old tree:


...but then a friendly dog ran out of nowhere and started licking and jumping on me, so I packed up the girls and retreated to a safer (but less attractive) location at the scrubby edge of the pond:


That's not a great picture, but I do love how the muted colors of the early-spring greenery look with Amber's hair and eyes.

Dirty and cold, I finally gave up and went back home.  It's been a steady improvement weather-wise since that day, so whatever mini dolls I review next are bound to have better luck!

I decided to take a few more pictures of Amber and Victoria in my studio.  I really like this pair:


It would be great if Walmart released a red-haired, green-eyed mini doll in the future, but for now I'm enjoying the mix of similarities and differences with these two:

review




For the final shot, Amber wanted to see if she could hold all three minis at the same time...


...and (with the help of a clear rubber band around her arms) she did this amazingly well!

Toy Box Philosopher

Bottom line?  The My Life As line has added eight mini dolls and two 18-inch boy characters to their collection since the last time I checked in with them.  Other than these two things, however, the selection feels a lot like it has in years past: there are no new ethnicities and no new female face molds.

The addition of boy characters is a great idea, especially in light of American Girl's recent release of their first male character, Logan.  However, the My Life As boys have rigid, all-vinyl bodies and fixed eyes, both departures from the norm that shoppers have come to expect from this brand.  I don't care much about the eyes (closing eyes cause trouble for me during photo sessions anyway) but the change in body design is frustrating.  The advertising for the boy dolls clearly states that their bodies are soft and huggable.  If the advertising were accurate and the price reflected the simpler body construction, I might be able to get on board with the changes.  At the full $27.97 price...it just feels like a cop-out.  My boy doll, Dylan, is reasonably cute with a cropped hairstyle that's better than I expected, but still needs help.  Dylan also has a wobbly neck joint that doesn't feel durable enough to stand up to serious play.  The boy clothes can be worn by the 18-inch girl dolls, which is awesome, but some of the darker parts of Dylan's outfit cause staining, and so clothes-sharing might not be a good idea. Overall Dylan has some great qualities, but probably won't remain in my collection.

I think the mini dolls are a much better addition to the My Life As brand.  In fact, I often find myself preferring the mini versions of 18-inch play dolls.  I like the Mini Pals better than I like the full-sized Maru and Friends dolls, and I also prefer the mini Our Generation dolls to their larger equivalents.  I probably like mini dolls so much because I'm fascinated by small replicas of larger things, but also because smaller dolls are just easier to handle and display.  The My Life As minis have a few problems, but they mostly stay true to the quality and appearance of the larger dolls.

My biggest problem with the My Life As minis is their eyes.  The dolls have fixed, inset eyes that are poorly scaled to their faces and often misaligned.  There's also very little diversity in eye color; five of the current mini dolls have brown eyes, three have blue.  Furthermore, the blue-eyed dolls are all re-dressed versions of Victoria--with pale skin and long blonde hair.  One of my least favorite things about the larger My Life As dolls is their spherical heads and round faces.  The mini dolls certainly share this feature.  However, this is just the style of the brand.  Those who enjoy the face shape of the larger dolls will probably be happy with the appearance of the minis.

Aside from the issues mentioned above, I'm actually thrilled with these little dolls.  First of all, Victoria and Jane have amazing, silky hair.  The hair fiber feels wonderful (I find myself subconsciously petting it when I'm getting ready for a photo...) and it's super-easy to manage.  Jane's hair is my favorite with its realistic warm red color.  Alicia's dark brown curls are also well done, although I find the shape of the hair in profile a bit strange.  The dolls also have great little outfits that don't appear to leave any stains.  Jane and Alicia both have attractive, well-made and easy-to-use clothing.  Victoria's knit shirt and leggings look good, but they have very narrow seam allowances that cause some trouble during re-dressing.  I think these dolls are priced well at $9.88 and love that I could get three of them for around the same price as one larger My Life As doll.  Like all mini dolls, these newcomers are highly collectible (in other words, addictive!) and would be really easy for kids to carry around and bring on trips.

I can confidently add the My Life As minis to my list of small dolls that I think surpass their larger analogues.  In fact, my days of purchasing 18-inch My Life As dolls are probably over; these minis deliver most of the charm of the conventional My Life As dolls in a smaller, cuter, more affordable, more collectible, and overall more manageable package.

Three cheers for the My Life As mini dolls!

15 comments:

  1. I personally find really light eyes a bit unsettling even in person, and in inset doll eyes it carries over even more. Blue or grey or light green doll eyes can look to piercing to me, or their pupils too striking and intense. Brown eyed dolls just look softer and warmer to me, so I'll have to side with your son here.

    These dolls are actually really cute, and even the clothing looks much nicer than I would have thought. I like the addition of more 'masculine' clothes, as I prefer that kind of style and as a tomboy kid would have loved the option of dressing my doll in jeans and a shark t-shirt.

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  2. I love that you reviewed these dolls. I had passed on the mini dolls because they look squinty to me but I was still on the fence about the boy doll. The boys fly off the shelf whenever they are in stock at my Walmart. I think I'll pass on him as well though. His price is just too high for what he is. Thanks again for your in depth, honest reviews.

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  3. They are really cute. I particularly love Alicia's pouffy hair, specially with the white bow.
    I'm curious, what doll would be scaled to be an adult with these minis? Barbie?

    BTW, Victoria looks just like Julia Styles, don't you think?

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  4. Have you tried color fasting any of your staining doll clothes? Its really easy and Requiem Art has a simple tutorial for it. Of course I hate that we have to do this with brand new dolls but at least we have an option.

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  5. Are you planning on getting the American Boy doll Logan?

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  6. I'm always glad to find a red haired doll with brown eyes. It's a combination that isn't found very often,even in real life. As a brown eyed,freckle-free red head myself, I'm always grateful to find a doll that breaks the stereotype that all red heads have blue eyes and freckles.

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  7. Hurray! I had no idea these existed, and I'm always on the lookout for a doll line that can swap clothing with the MA Travel Friends. (Which are likely being discontinued since they are only available as a set, at a deep discount, sadly.) The dolls themselves aren't my favorite, but their clothing is surprisingly nice from your photographs. The seam finishing on that apron is impressive.

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  8. The boy dolls from MLA are very very cute, no denying that. That black boy is precious and if I wanted boy dolls in my collection, I would snap him up. I am endlessly bothered by the lack of eyelashes though! It's a part of the unnecessary gendering of toys and dolls that really bothers me, to be honest. Slap some eyelashes on it, it's a girl!

    I dislike AGs Logan for numerous reasons (but hey, at least he has eyelashes), but I can say that facemold wise, what he's got is a modified Kaya mold - which is problematic in and of itself: since the beginning, fullblood Native women have been told that they "look too masculine." It hurts the heart of a dear friend of mine, who is Native, when she recalls that experience, and knows that the Kaya mold is being used for AGs first and so-far only boy doll. The implications there are... yeah. Think about it. It's really really not a good look.

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  9. I really like the idea of these mini dolls, I was never into the 18 inch versions. I like all of them but I think the ones at target are my favorite since they have the soft body just like the big ones do.

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  10. Thanks for reviewing these mini dolls. They're so sweet. Can't wait to see the others.:-)
    I always thought 18inch dolls were just too big and unwieldy. Since the smaller dolls have come out ( I remember your Lori doll review making me aware of that option) they're usually the ones children around me prefer. It's just so much easier to take them anywhere and play with them without having to make the entire bedroom or playroom about one or two dolls.

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  11. Even as adults, long, dark eyelashes are played up on women and down on men. Who is more likely to wear mascara? (Personally, I love long, dark lashes on men.) While seeing lashes on a boy doll would be cool, I don't think there's anything inherently problematic with leaving them off.

    I side with your son. Alicia'a eyes are the best look. They look every so slightly cross-eyed, which keeps her look looking like she's trying to penetrate your soul and take it over with her stare. The brown also looks lovely with her skin tone. I also think the face shape is beautiful for her. Jane's outfit is my least fave, but on Alicia, you've got a fantastic combo.

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  12. I find the mini dolls other than Alicia unfinished looking and not pretty. Over simple without enough expression for me. I find the same with the boy dolls and the large Victoria.

    The clothes are cute for the minis. I like these as dolls for the bigger dolls due to the more simple features. The small dolls with a lot of expression tend to take on personalities of their own, IMO and I am loathe to use them as toys for the bigger dolls.

    I find that the black Life As dolls blend in well with the American girl and Our Generation dolls. The pink white coloring and the oversized features of the white My Life As dolls does not work well with OG dolls. That the lightest complexioned American Girl dolls have a tannish, goldish tinge to them makes them a difficult match with other brands that have a more pink peachy white skin tone. The American Girl dolls look very sallow in such a mix and the other dolls very artificial pink white, so it's lose all around when making such a mix. The dark skin dolls do not have that issue. All just my opinion.

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  13. Great review. The minis are really cute and I love the outfits. I'm glad you show the comparisons.

    Love Dylan's eyes!
    ~Xyra

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  14. Another great review. I prefer the Lori dolls over the My Life As mini dolls.

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  15. Very cute dolls, but I'm so distracted because Victoria looks so much like a child version of Delores on Westworld! :>)

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