Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Surprise: Hairdorables by Just Play!

Happy Sunday!  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, several of the comments here prompted me to investigate the latest blind box doll sensation, the Hairdorables!  These toys follow the lead of the L.O.L. Surprise dolls by offering a complex package-opening experience, with several little surprises to uncover along the way.  Originally, I intended to compare these dolls directly to L.O.L.'s most recent offering (the Under Wraps wave), but this post is long enough as it is, so I'll look at an Under Wraps toy in a week or two.

Hairdorables are made by Just Play (not to be confused with Jay at Play, the makers of the Boxy Girls).  I think the most recent Just Play toys I reviewed here were the Spirit Riding Free horses and riders.  I can actually see a resemblance between the dolls from that collection and these new Hairdorables:

Hairdorables "Bella Bunerina" doll, $12.88 .

Friday, September 21, 2018

The My Twinn Lenora Saga

I wanted to stop in and tell you the story of how the My Twinn Lenora makeover turned out, especially because so many of you were kind enough to give me your advice and support after my last update.  Thank you!  For anyone who didn't read the previous post about Lenora, I'll do a short recap.

Basically, I'm still addicted to My Twinn dolls.  In particular, I'm addicted to "project dolls," or really inexpensive, hopeless-looking Denver-era My Twinns that need a lot of work.  They keep me busy and happy.

I was fortunate enough to find a Denver Lenora on eBay (for a great price) who needed a ton of attention, including a new finger!

My well-loved Denver-era My Twinn Lenora.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Wizarding World Hermione Granger by Mattel

Well, I'm finally back with a Wizarding World Hermione review!  I was going to try and keep this post a little shorter than it is, but I wanted to throw in some comparisons to other Mattel Hermione dolls (one of which I've never shown on the blog), and that took a little longer than I anticipated.

I've also finished the Lenora My Twinn restoration and am just waiting for a sub-90% humidity day so that I can get her outside for a few final pictures.  I think you'll be surprised by how she looks.  Predictably, that project prompted about six more My Twinn makeovers, but I doubt I'll chronicle those on the blog.  I've also invested in a few Hairdorables.  I haven't been keeping up with new doll releases the way I used to, so I had no idea what Hairdorables were until several of you told me about them in the Boxy Girls review.  Thank you!  Those seem like a perfect Sunday Surprise.  All in all, I've been working on several different things, which is great for keeping my mind off the empty nest. However, today will be all about Hermione!

I bought all four of the Wizarding World child dolls (Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny) and, of the four, decided to review Hermione because I have a bit of a tradition reviewing Hermione dolls on this blog.  You can see another Mattel Hermione review here, and my two Star Ace Hermione reviews here and here.  There's no mistaking that the Wizarding World version of Hermione was made by Mattel (she looks like Barbie), but the iconic hair and outfit immediately conjure the spunky and inimitable Ms. Granger:

Wizarding World Hermione Granger doll, $20.97.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday Surprise: Boxy Girls Willa by Jay at Play!

I knew back in May that I wasn't going to post as much as I used to, but I didn't think it'd actually be a whole month between posts!  Yikes.  My slow speed is partially due to eBay sales, but also because I've simply been enjoying a lovely (hot!) summer with both of my kids before the youngest goes off to start his college adventure.

The other reason for the delay is that I've been sitting around waiting for Mattel's new Harry Potter Wizarding World dolls, figuring they'd be the next thing I'd review.  They're definitely the newcomers that I'm most excited about right now.  I preordered the set of four kids from Walmart back in June and they were supposed to arrive the first week of August.  However, Walmart canceled each doll from that order (one at a time, with a few excruciating days in between each cancellation) claiming that the dolls were "not in stock and we don't know when they'll be back in stock."  Ironically, each doll would show up (in healthy numbers) on the shelves of my local Walmart store at about the same time that their "out of stock" cancellation email arrived.  So, at least I knew when to go out and look for the dolls!  I finally have the whole set of kids and have started to photograph Hermione.

While I work on the Hermione review, I figured I could get back into the swing of things by doing a quick Sunday Surprise!  I discovered the intriguing line of Boxy Girls dolls at Walmart during my most recent Harry Potter mission.  The dolls themselves are highly stylized, but they look well-articulated and they each come with four mystery boxes filled with fashion accessories!  For me, the element of surprise and the visible articulation were enough to warrant the $15 price tag.

Boxy Girls Willa by Jay@Play ($14.98).

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Another My Twinn Update and Some Random Things

I've been making a bit of progress in clearing out my dolls.  So far, I've focused mostly on larger play dolls because they take up a lot of space.  It's really hard to figure out who to keep and who to sell, though.  They all seem to be special to me for one reason or another.

So far, the dolls in this size range who are the most difficult for me to think about selling are the My Twinns.  This is partly because I had so much fun fixing several of them up (the My Twinn Project series was one of my favorite things to write about on this blog) but also because I'm really impressed with the quality and charm of the older Denver dolls.  I love the diversity of face molds, the poseable bodies, and of course the beautiful eyes.

Today, I'll mostly be catching you up on what I've been doing with a few My Twinn dolls, but I also have two other tangentially-related things to chat about briefly.  I'll start by tying up a loose end.  Do you remember the girl I showed you at the very end of the My Twinn Project?  She's a bedraggled Denver-era Caitie doll who I re-named Phoebe:

Well-loved My Twinn Caitie doll from the Denver era.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Kidz by Götz

I haven't made much of a dent in clearing out my doll room yet, but I did find three 18-inch treasures a few weeks ago.  Two of the dolls I found are Happy Kidz from the German Götz company.  I bought them in January of 2016...although it feels like yesterday.  Happy Kidz are not sold in the United States, and so I shopped online at My Doll Best Friend, a fantastic London-based store that happily ships to Maine.  The third doll is an FAO Schwarz Classic doll that was also made by the Götz company.  I found her on sale at Toys R Us way back when Toys R Us was still a thing and when they were still carrying 18-inch FAO Schwarz dolls.  I think it was around six years ago.

All of these dolls are variants on the Götz Hannah line (formerly called the Sarah line) which I've been coveting for over a decade.  Most of my recent coveting occurred while gazing at the beautiful pictures on the My Doll Best Friend blog, which, if you've never seen it, is well worth a visit.  Or many visits.  Here's a link.

The FAO Schwarz Classic dolls came out in 2011 and are essentially Hannah dolls that were made for the United States market.  The Happy Kidz, first introduced in 2012, are very similar in size and proportion to the Hannah dolls, but they have different face molds and extra joints.  Here's Clara, one of my Happy Kidz:

Götz Happy Kidz doll, Clara, £85.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Project Mc2 McKeyla with Painted Eyes?

I'm struggling a little to get up-to-speed with eBay sales, but I did manage to get a widget posted in the sidebar here for anyone who wants to monitor the auctions.  I'm starting everything at just a few dollars with no reserve.  Shipping can be high on some of the larger dolls, though, and I'm still working on getting those costs as low as I can.  There's weird stuff going on with box dimensions that I don't fully understand yet!  I'm certainly not looking to make a profit on shipping.

Anyway, I swore I wouldn't buy any more dolls just for review (and I swore I was done with Project Mc2...many times) but I couldn't resist this new Project Mc2 McKeyla doll.  She's a simpler version of the Lava Light doll that I reviewed back in 2015.  She has fewer accessories and painted eyes.  At this point, she's not mentioned on the official Mc2 website, and I've only been able to find her on the secondary market for ridiculously high prices (currently $70 on Amazon?!).  Some of the Amazon buyer reviews suggest that she's a knockoff, but I had to get my hands on her to see what I could learn.  Back when I bought her, she was "only" $29.  I guess that's the price of curiosity.

Project Mc2 McKeyla's Lava Light doll...with painted eyes.

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Short Tale of Two Henriettes

Way back in September of 2013, Kidz 'n' Cats released a special limited edition doll, Henriette, who could be ordered with a variety of hair and eye combinations.  I fell in love with Henriette's face mold (I liked it much better than the Evita mold I already owned) and figured it was the perfect chance to order a Kidz doll with exactly the coloring I wanted.  I actually ended up ordering two of these dolls because...well, because I couldn't make up my mind between two different variations and also because I got caught up in the potential collectibility of the dolls given their limited release (300 pieces) and unique customization feature.

Only now, as I'm getting the two dolls ready for eBay, did I bother to de-box one of them and tell the story of disappointment that surrounded both of their arrivals.

Kidz 'n' Cats Henriette, $176.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunday Surprise: Secret Central Dolls by Hasbro!

This week I'm going to look at an older surprise-themed line of dolls that Yumi recommended a few weeks ago (Thank you, Yumi!) but before I do that, I want to mention a new tab at the top of the page called What Happened?  I'm shifting gears with the blog for various reasons, and this new tab holds an explanation.

I don't want any of that to take away from the fascinating mini dolls that I'm investigating today, though!  The brand is called Secret Central and includes a collection of 3.5 inch dolls depicting high school students.  As the name suggests, each doll has a secret!  All of the dolls come with a secret note (revealing something about the relationships within their high school class) but some of the sets have a concealed character (a whole extra doll!)--who also has a secret note.  I could not resist this concept.  Here's one of the girls to start things off:

Secret Central doll Rachel Ruff (Hasbro, 2003).

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fan Girl Black Panther and Black Widow by Madame Alexander

During my final shopping trips to Toys 'R' Us a few weeks ago, I purchased a few things to review in depth, including two of Madame Alexander's Marvel Fan Girl dolls: Black Panther and Black Widow.  The Black Panther character was sold out at my local store, but she was still in stock online (and even on sale!).  So, I purchased Black Widow in person and ordered Black Panther online.  Black Panther took forever to ship, but I feel fortunate to have ordered her before the Toys 'R' Us website shut down.  These dolls were Toys 'R' Us exclusives.

One interesting thing about the Fan Girl line is that each character has a variant that's harder to find than the standard-release version.  These variants are called Fan Girl Finds and have specially-marked boxes.  The Fan Girl Finds cost the same as the other versions of the same doll.  For reasons I don't completely understand (movie popularity?), both of the Black Panther variants cost considerably more than the other dolls.  Toys 'R' Us sent me the Fan Girl Find variant of Black Panther ($79.99) and I purchased the regular version of Black Widow ($49.99).

In this review, I will take a close look at my Black Panther doll and do a quick overview of Black Widow.

Black Panther Fan Girl, gold variant ($79.99).

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Surprise: Surprizamal Mama and Baby Jamie!

As promised, Sunday has arrived and so it's time to see what's inside of my Surprizamal unicorn's baby balls!  Ok, saying "unicorn baby balls" sounds wrong, I know, but I don't know what else to call them!  As an extra treat, I found another kind of Surprizamal Mama and Baby toy that I want to share with you today, too.

Since I just posted yesterday (and I'm in the middle of working on that Madame Alexander Fan Girl review) I'll keep this short and sweet.

Here's Jamie, my Surprizamal unicorn mama, who I introduced back in February:

Surprizamal Mama and Baby unicorn, Jamie ($19.99).

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Goodbye, Toys Я Us

For a while I thought that my beloved Toys 'R' Us store in South Portland would stay open while other branches around the nation closed...but it looks like all Toys 'R' Us locations are closing or being sold, and even the website has been shut down to future orders.  It's officially the end of an era.

I didn't want the occasion to pass without doing something, so I decided to take a few trips to the store and bask in the feeling of being in such a large space, entirely surrounded by toys.  I don't know when I might get that feeling again.

I visited two weeks ago (before the closeouts started) and then again this Friday.  I bought a few things that I'll review really quickly today, and a few other things that will get bigger reviews in the near future.  I'll mostly just pretend that you were there shopping with me, and show you what caught my eye as I wandered through the familiar aisles for the last time.

I'll start with a picture that I took last summer.  This is the temporary Toys 'R' Us that was set up in Times Square for the holidays:

Temporary Toys 'R' Us branch in Times Square, 2017.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Kruselings

Thanks to Gabby and Stephanie's recommendations, I have a real treat to share with you!  Today I'm reviewing the Kruselings, a collection of nine-inch play dolls that depict a magical group of friends who fly around and use special powers to protect the world from bad dreams.

I love the charming story behind this line, and thought the promotional pictures were beautiful, so I bought two Kruseling dolls.  After I saw those two dolls in person, I bought two more!  These cuties remind me of collector dolls in many ways (probably because of the artistic inspiration of their namesake, Käthe Kruse) but they're actually play dolls aimed at kids between the ages of four and seven.

The overall concept of the Kruselings was conceived by Donaji Ayala Hernandez and the dolls themselves were designed by Sonja Hartman (of Kidz 'n' Cats fame).  The dolls are easy to find overseas and just now starting to show up in some U.S. stores.  I purchased my girls from both eBay and My Doll Best Friend, a wonderful shop in London. There are six Kruseling characters (five girls and a boy) and all of the girls come in two varieties, deluxe and standard. The deluxe sets cost £35.99 and include two outfits, the standard dolls are a little cheaper (£23.99) and do not have an extra outfit.

It's taken me forever to finish this review because I got greedy with the dolls and then took tons of pictures.  This review will feature the first Kruseling I chose, deluxe Sofia, but I'll also show you some pictures of deluxe Chloe, standard Vera, and standard Joy.  Here's Sofia:

Kruselings deluxe Sofia doll, £35.99 (~$50).

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Surprise: FlipaZoo Flip Box Surprise by Jay at Play!

I feel like my Sunday Surprise options are always at an extreme: either in short supply or overflowing.  Currently I'm experiencing the overflowing scenario!  I already have two things that I want to review, and another great reader suggestion that I'm in the process of tracking down.  But despite all of this, I couldn't resist something new I saw at Walmart!  I don't actually think it's super-new–as in just released–but it's new to me.

I don't go to Walmart much anymore, mostly because the toy department seems to be shrinking. That might be the only reason I noticed these surprise toys, though.  They were in the stuffed animal aisle, which I don't usually spend much time in, but last week I wandered through because I'd quickly run out of other things to look at.

The toy I found is called a FlipaZoo.  There are many varieties of these "flippable" stuffed toys, but the ones that caught my eye are called Flip Box Surprise:

Flip Box Surprise dog from FlipaZoo.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Teen Version Hermione Granger by Star Ace

My youngest son is really interested in movies, so we've been watching a lot of films in the last few months, mostly when we're traveling for some type of college-related trip.  We tend to alternate between me introducing him to a classic romantic comedy (like When Harry Met Sally) and him showing me something new and noteworthy (like Get Out).  Because of his enthusiasm, I find myself thinking about movies a lot these days.  One of my favorite movie series is the Harry Potter octet.  I enjoy these movies because I like the story and the characters, of course, but also because my family watched them (many times!) when the kids were younger.

With all of this on my mind, I guess it's no surprise that I chose a movie-related doll to review this week, specifically, Star Ace's Teen Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  This is a doll that I preordered back in September of 2016, about half a year after I wrote a review of Star Ace's Sorcerer's Stone Hermione.  My positive experience with the first Star Ace Hermione doll made me very excited and optimistic about this version (especially because Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite of the eight Harry Potter movies) but the reality did not turn out to be what I expected.

1:6 scale Teen Version Hermione Granger by Star Ace, $239.99.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Surprise: Surprizamals and L.O.L. Confetti Pop!

It's been a while since I've done a Sunday Surprise post, and during that time–not surprisingly–MGA Entertainment has released yet another group of L.O.L. Surprise dolls!  They're called Confetti Pop and they sound pretty awesome.

I've had a bit of L.O.L Surprise overload lately, so I wasn't really planning on reviewing any more of these toys, but the Confetti dolls have a few new tricks up their sleeves that I really wanted to see for myself.

I didn't want to make this review all about the L.O.L. dolls, though, so I decided to include another ball-enclosed surprise toy: Surprizamals by the Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company.  I've accumulated four Surprizamal balls over the past year and have only opened one of them.  I'm eager to open the rest!  To start things off, here's my opened Surprizamal dog, Pam, with the (disappointing) L.O.L. dolls from my last review:

A L.O.L. Series 3 Pet, a Surprizamal, and a L.O.L. Glitter Series doll.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

AZIAM Girlz

The AZIAM Girlz are highly-articulated 12-inch play dolls that are designed around a yoga theme.  The brand name confused me at first, but it's a play on the phrase as I am...with a "z" instead of an "s."  I'm not usually a fan of gimmicky spellings like this (MGA Entertainment exhausted the novelty a long time ago with their Bratz, Bratzillaz, Moxie Girlz, Moxie Teenz, Li'l Angelz, etc).  However, in this case it works because I suspect an "s" would have caused the brand to be pronounced more like ass-ee-am instead of as I am.

I knew nothing about the AZIAM Girlz until a few weeks ago when I stumbled across them during a search of Target.com for the Glitter Girls.  I have not seen these dolls in an actual Target store, but they're listed on the website and also available at aziamgirlz.com.  Target's site had only three AZIAM Girlz available, and these were listed alongside the Zeenie Dollz (there's that "z" again...and again).  At first I assumed that the AZIAM Girlz were made by the same company as the Zeenies (they look a bit alike) but J. Stanley and I were discussing this and don't actually think the two brands have anything in common beyond a vague resemblance.

I bought two of the dolls that are available at Target: Alanna and Asana (also confusing).  Today I'll do an in-depth review of Alanna, and then take a quick look at Asana towards the end.

AZIAM Girlz Alanna, $26.99.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Glitter Girls by Battat

I can't believe January is almost over.  Wow.  It doesn't feel much like January, though, because right now I'm in California with my youngest son, doing more college stuff.  We're about as geographically far away from Maine as a person can get in the United States.  I'm trying not to take it personally that this is one of the places my kid wants to live next year.  I have to admit that the weather is unreal.

I have a few moments here at the hotel while he's running around doing things, so I figured I'd try to sneak in some time to share Battat's new Glitter Girl dolls with you!

I haven't actually seen these dolls on the shelves yet, although I've heard that they've been spotted in Target stores elsewhere in the country.  Battat is the company that makes Our Generation dolls, which are offered as an inexpensive alternative to American Girl.  The Glitter Girls are not part of the Our Generation line, but they're Battat's answer to the American Girl WellieWishers.  Like the WellieWishers, the Glitter Girls are 14-inch, all-vinyl play dolls that come with whimsical mix-and-match clothing.  One of the most appealing things about the Glitter Girls is that they cost $19.99 each, so it's possible to purchase three of them for the price of a single WellieWisher.  That's exactly what I did.

Glitter Girls Poppy, by Battat ($19.99).

Monday, January 8, 2018

More Our Generation Accessories (Featuring Maru and Friends Mini Pals)!

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone's 2018 is off to a great start.  Here in Maine, we've already had a bomb cyclone storm and a lot of nights well below negative 10 degrees...so that's been fun.  There are several new dolls that I'm eager to review this year, though, and that will keep me plenty busy on cold or snowed-in days.

Before I do anything else this year, I want to finish up an idea from 2017: looking at Our Generation accessories and seeing how well they fit the Maru and Friends Mini Pal dolls.  Today I'll de-box the Our Generation School Band play set, the It Seams Perfect sewing set, and the Retro Records items.  On hand to help me with this review are Mini Pals Savannah and Raven...and also American Girl Eliza, to model the things that are way too big for the Minis:

American Girl Eliza wearing Our Generation retro headphones.