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.
Alanna comes in a lightweight cardboard box with a plastic window.  There's a lot going on with this box.  Take a look:

review

A cardboard cutout advertises that the doll's mat transforms into a Girl Power Cuff (trademarked):

Is that like Wonder Woman's cuffs?
The AZIAM brand name is visible on Alanna's pillow in the background:


But the large text at the bottom of the box is what grabbed my attention first:


I didn't know much about these dolls when I first opened the box, so I thought that the doll brand was actually Soul Model Doll (trademarked), and I pretty much dismissed the smaller, lowercase "aziam girlz" label.  

I assume that calling this doll The Dolly Alanna (trademarked) is an intentional reference to the Dalai Lama (?).  That also seemed pretty strange before I knew anything about the line.

The left side of the box has a ton of rainbow-colored text that repeats many of the phrases from the front of the box, while adding several new thoughts:


Here's a closer look:

Zip zam should be trademarked.
It's a bit of a word salad, but I like the part in the middle where it says "I am perfect AZ.I.AM."  First of all, that's a great message, but it also really helps me get my mind around the central theme of this line (and the origin of the name, since I didn't figure out right away).

The very bottom of the box advertises that Alanna comes with a book called The La La Sutras.  That makes me think of another book involving sutra (which means observation or teaching), but this looks like it has more to do with the martial arts than the marital arts:


The right side of the box has an arc of plastic window and a bit more text, including the words I was most excited about: "I move just like you!"

I hope so!
This side of the box also says La La Beads (also trademarked) somewhat randomly at the bottom.  What are La La Beads?

The back of the box has some text that explains a few things in a bit more detail:


First of all, we get the basic idea about the AZIAM Girlz, which is that they are teenaged girls who are making a positive difference in the world:


The top of the box also claims that this is the world's first Yoga Doll (trademarked).  I guess that depends on how you define a yoga doll.  

Mattel's entire first wave of Made to Move Barbie dolls came dressed in yoga gear...and were advertised in various yoga-like poses:

This is not the most yoga-like of the poses.  Some of the dolls were more clearly doing yoga.
The AZIAM Girlz are much more about the philosophy of yoga, though, not just the outfits and poses.  I didn't learn anything about yoga from playing with my Made to Move Barbies, but I've learned quite a bit from the AZIAM Girlz website.  So in that sense–yes.  This is the first yoga-themed doll I've seen.

There's a longer paragraph on the back of the box that describes Alanna's personality.  She's a SheVa Soul Model (SheVa?  That part is new) and is modeled after a real person named Alanna Zabel who founded AZIAM Yoga and wrote a book called As I Am:


The real Alanna is described as being "aspirational."  It might be a typo and they meant to say inspirational, but I'm not sure.  To me, aspirational is a negative word.  The first thing I think of is aspiration pneumonia (caused by breathing fluid) but that's just because my brain is strange.  Even if I ignore that thought, I assume an aspirational person is somebody who's main purpose is to gain prestige and make money.  Maybe it's a yoga term that I don't understand completely?  Like aspiring to a higher plane or something?  That's possible.

In any case, it seems that AZIAM Yoga was a thing way before these dolls were introduced.  You can read more about it here if you want.  I've never tried yoga, and now I feel bad about that.

Underneath Alanna's biography, there's a list of her favorite things, a cartoon portrait of her, and a list of box contents:


Alanna likes her La La Beads (trademarked) and comes from La La Land (not trademarked...except perhaps by Summit Entertainment).  I'm suspicious that she might like the Malala Fund just because it has "lala" in the title!

So, after examining the box, I started to get the sense that maybe these dolls are designed for people who already know about the world of AZIAM Yoga.  I was certainly feeling in over my head.  For anyone else who is not familiar with the latest yoga trends, let's pause to get our bearings.  Here are the concepts introduced by Alanna's box:

1. AZIAM Girlz, the brand name of the dolls, is a spin-off of an actual yoga enterprise created by Alanna Zobel.
2. Soul Model Doll is a subcategory of the AZIAM doll line, and currently Alanna is the only doll in this category (I had to look that up on the website).
3. SheVa (I had to look this up, too) is meant to reference girl power, since VA is shorthand for volt-ampere, a unit of power.  That's pretty obscure.
4. The Dolly Alanna might reference the Dalai Lama, in connection with the common Buddhist themes of yoga, meditation and peace.
5. Other phrases that are repeated frequently on the box and website are "Goddess in Progress" and "be you to be full" which might be a play on the word "beautiful."  That's pretty clever, but–like everything else about these dolls–a little esoteric.
6. Things have La La in the title whenever possible, but I still don't understand why. 
7. Zip zam!

Alanna and all of her accessories come mounted on a cardboard backdrop.  She comes with life-sized La La beads, shoes, a cushion, a brush, a Girl Power Cuff, and the La La Sutras book.  She's dressed in what looks like a martial arts uniform:


Incidentally, Mattel released a Made to Move doll in martial arts clothing over a year ago:


First let's take a closer look at Alanna's book, The La La Sutras.


The cover of the book is not as colorful as the version advertised on the box:


Each page of the book has a picture and a little lesson about how to act.  The first one is "i am happy:"


Here's a closer look at the text:


I disagree with this lesson.  It's ok to be sad sometimes.  For example, my beloved little dog Zelda just died, so that made me sad.  And I let myself feel really sad for a while.  I take issue with a book that tells kids they should be happy all of the time.  Totally unrealistic and unhealthy.

This next one is much better:


Here's a better look at the text:


This is a lesson I can get behind 100%.  It's probably impossible to be kind all of the time, but we should try.  Like Cinderella says: have courage and be kind.

I wish one of the lessons involved using the capital letter "I" appropriately, but you can't win 'em all.

There was a small leaflet along with the La La Sutras book.  This leaflet has pictures of five yoga positions on one side:


And an ad for other AZIAM Girlz products on the back:


All of Alanna's other accessories are held against the backdrop with a piece of molded plastic:

review

I ripped off the molded plastic and found the AZIAM Girlz design hidden behind the accessories:


Here are all of the accessories:


There's a stuffed pink cushion with "AZIAM" printed on one side:



There's the "yoga mat" that transforms into a Girl Power Cuff:


This is a coil of sheet metal that's been covered with fabric:


The coil is flexible and could expand to fit around a wide range of wrist sizes.

When the coil is extended, I guess it looks like a yoga mat...


...but the metal is designed to snap back into a coil shape, so I was a little nervous about it when it was open like this.

Alanna's shoes and brush are both made out of molded purple plastic:


I like the shoes.  They're little sandals with a chunky heel:


I may not know what La La Beads are, but this accessory is very nice.  It's a colorful beaded necklace with a large red tassel in the middle:


Here's a closer look at the lovely opalescent beads:


The beads are plastic, but they have a great weight and feel.

It would be fun to have a matching necklace for the doll, but the child-sized necklace is great.

Finally, here's The Dolly Alanna:


She does stand on her own, but I had a bit of trouble getting her to balance.  I think the problems are that her ankle joints are a bit weak and she has a crooked right leg.

Here she is from the back:


Alanna's face is interesting.  First of all, she has extremely pale vinyl with a slight greenish-yellow tinge:

review

Her profile is fairly flat, with a long nose and enormous eyes:


Exaggerated eyes are common these days, but the color of Alanna's irises is what really makes her unusual.  The irises are spearmint green, but they're very pale–almost pure white in some places:


The pale eyes and the strange skin tone give this doll an otherworldly, supernatural feel.  She's like a yoga elf or spirit.  Her coloring can also make her look sickly, though (aspiration pneumonia?), which is not as fun to think about.

I find Alanna's face oddly appealing, but I think it would fit better with a fantasy theme. 

Alanna's outfit consists of an orange-trimmed white tunic over a matching pair of flared pants.  The tunic has a Miss America-style ribbon sash stitched across one shoulder:


The sash says "The Dolly Alanna."  My doll's sash is very wrinkled:


The tunic opens most of the way down the back with velcro:


The velcro is stiff and made out of plastic.



I wish that the top opened all of the way down the back, because it's a little tricky to get on and off like this.

Here's the top on its own:


I like the overall look of the bright orange ribbon trim, but the stitching is puckered in some areas, so it doesn't hang smoothly: 





Underneath the tunic, Alanna's pants have a nice thick waistband:


The fabric is a little creased and wrinkled in some places because of the plastic ties that held Alanna in the box:


The pants do not have an opening in back, they just stretch and slide over Alanna's hips:



Now, let's take a look at Alanna's articulation!  I'm always really excited when a new style of doll body comes along.

She can't balance without her shoes, so at first I tried to use a doll stand:


But Alanna's waist is so tiny, none of my stands worked well.  I decided to just leave Alanna in her shoes.

She has a whopping nineteen points of articulation:



With her clothing removed, it's a little easier to see why that right leg is crooked.  The knees are double-jointed (yay!) and the lower joint of the right knee is warped:


Alanna's torso joints were the biggest surprise to me.  Her torso is quite different from the other dolls I own:


Her hip joints are intriguing, too.  They are double ball joints...which I don't think I've ever seen before:


I'll go through the joints one at a time, from neck to ankle, and we'll see what this girl can do!

Her neck articulation is not super-impressive.  It's basically a simple rotating joint, but she can look up and down a little bit:


This range of motion almost feels like the neck joint is loose rather than designed to move up and down.  Still, I always appreciate a little extra flexibility in the head.

Alanna's shoulders, elbows, and wrists are all rotating hinges.  When she lifts her arms straight up to the side, this is as far as they'll go:


That hardly matters since she can rotate the joint and achieve any shoulder angle she wants...


 However, the bigger issue is that her elbows are unable to fully straighten:


This looks like this limitation is simply because of the shape of the lower arm mold.

The joint itself looks like a rotating peg with a hinged disc:



The flexion in the elbows and wrists is good.  The arms can bend past 90 degrees and the wrists can bend to 90 degrees in all directions:


This flexibility allows Alanna to touch her head (and even cover her eyes!) really well...


...but it's funny because if she drops her arms at the shoulder–even just a little bit–she can no longer reach her face:


Her elbows don't have the same impressive flexibility as the Made to Move Barbies.

She can still achieve many great poses, though, like resting her hand on her hip, holding her forehead, or simply crossing her arms in front of her:


The upper torso joint is underwhelming.  It only allows a fraction of movement forward and backward and about the same range from side to side. 

Here are the extremes of movement from front to back:


And a little animation to help show the motion:


Here are the extremes from side to side:


And another little animation:


The waist joint is much more exciting.  It's a huge rotating hinge that allows Alanna to bend forward...


...and backward at the waist:


Not a lot of dolls can do that.  

Furthermore, this joint spins all of the way around:


The joint looks a little odd, sure, but it dramatically enhances Alanna's posing capabilities.  I love it.

The top part of Alanna's hip joint is a rotating hinge with a huge range of motion.  She can do full side-to-side splits:


And full front-to-back splits:


Here's a closer look at the inner working of the joint:



That ball can spin all of the way around inside the socket, and it can hinge in and out in every orientation.

The lower part of the hip joint is another rotating hinge.  This is cool, I guess, but I'm not exactly sure what it accomplishes that the upper hip doesn't already have covered.

Using the lower ball joint, Alanna can kick her leg out to the side and rotate it around, but it looks super-weird:


The legs can spin all of the way around until they're pointing backwards, too:

I wouldn't say that's "moving like me."
Alanna can even do the freaky lower hip splits!


I don't have any other dolls that can do this:


Maybe because no doll should do that.

Alanna's upper and lower knee joints are both rotating hinges, too. This means that she can tuck her leg up until her calf touches her thigh!



She can also rotate her lower leg at both joints:


In contrast, Made to Movie Barbies do not have rotation in either of their knee joints.  They have rotation in the upper thigh that helps compensate.

And finally, Alanna's ankles have hinged rotation with a nice range of flexion:



As you can imagine, all of this adds up to a lot of posing versatility!  

Alanna is especially good at sitting.  She can sit cross-legged (sort-of):


Or with one leg rotated out to the side:


She can tuck both legs off to one side:


And is excellent at kneeling:


in fact, she can kneel in many different ways!



She can sit in a chair with her legs crossed:


Or with one ankle rested on the opposite thigh:


I actually couldn't think of a single sitting position that Alanna couldn't do.

She's also good at reclining...


And (thanks to that torso joint) she can tuck her knees up to her chest and grab her legs with her arms.  I don't have many dolls who can do this!

articulation

That lower torso joint also allows her to do a pretty fantastic bridge pose:


And bend over to touch her toes:


She is really, really fun to pose.  If she had tighter leg joints or bulkier shoes, she'd probably be excellent at a huge range of standing poses, too.


The only problem is that Alanna has so many joints, she can get herself tied into knots!


I'm not going around here, either.  It can actually get difficult to put all of her joints back into the correct position.  After the pose, above, I thought I had her all sorted out, but the top joint in her left knee was still spun all of the way around!


It almost looks right, but the notch on the thigh side of the joint is facing backwards:


This confusion happened with the upper hip joint, too. 

Alanna is 11.5 inches tall with her feet flat.  Since she reminded me so much of the Zeenie Dollz initially, let's take a look at her alongside one of those dolls first:

AZIAM Girlz Alanna and Zeenie Dollz Evee.
The two don't have as much in common as I originally thought.  They have roughly similar proportions, with slim bodies, large eyes, pursed lips, and big heads.  But Evee has inset eyes, a rounder head, a taller frame...and significantly inferior articulation.  Both dolls have odd coloring, but in my picture, above, Evee's yellow vinyl makes Alanna look normal.

Alanna can wear Zeenie clothing pretty well, although her waist is narrower than Evee's, so the shorts are loose:

AZIAM Alanna is Zeenie clothing.
The Zeenie shoes are a bit tight, but they work just fine.

I like how Alanna looks in regular clothing, but bright colors wash out her facial features:

AZIAM Alanna is Zeenie clothing.
Alanna also reminds me a bit of the Winx Club dolls.  Here she is with Tecna:

AZIAM Girlz Alanna and Winx Club Tecna.
The torso shapes are similar here, but everything else is pretty distinct. It's funny how Alanna's head makes Tecna's head look small!

Last but certainly not least, here's Alanna alongside the gold standard of play doll articulation...a Made to Move Barbie:

AZIAM Girlz Alanna and Made to Move Barbie.
They are pretty much the same height, despite Alanna's large head.

The biggest articulation differences between these two are in the waist, hips and arms.  The extra waist joint is an awesome bonus for Alanna, but Barbie's arms are by far the superior of the two.  Alanna's extra hip joint is strange and–as far as I can tell–completely unnecessary.

AZIAM Girlz Alanna and Made to Move Barbie.
I didn't do a full-blown pose-off between these two, but a few poses highlight their differences really well.

For example, both dolls are champs at tucking their legs off to one side, but Barbie can coyly cover her mouth while doing this...Alanna looks like she's trying to drink out of an invisible cup:

AZIAM Girlz Alanna and Made to Move Barbie.
Both dolls kneel beautifully, but again, Alanna's arms are just a bit less natural:

AZIAM Girlz Alanna and Made to Move Barbie.
To me, the most interesting comparison is how both dolls manage a classic yoga pose:

AZIAM Girlz Alanna and Made to Move Barbie.
Alanna can cross her legs in a more extreme way thanks to the rotation in both of those knee joints, but she can't place her palms together the way Barbie can.  It looks more like she's trying to keep something away from her body.

Speaking of yoga poses, I wanted to see if Alanna could manage all of the poses listed on the leaflet that came in her box.  However, I figured it would be more dignified if she attempted this in her clothes.

I put the outfit back on...


...and that sash really bothered me.  Not only is it wrinkled, but it was constantly sticking out and getting in the way.  I decided to cut it off.

Much better!

Alanna with the sash cut off of her outfit.
Ok, let's take a look at the poses.  First, there's the tree:


Alanna does pretty well with this, although she can't raise her hands above her head when they're in this position:


The next pose is bow:


Not many dolls can do this, but Alanna can!


Chair looks simple (it's probably not simple to do in real life, but it's not complicated for a doll):



Here's triangle:


Which is no problem for Alanna:

She can't quite touch her foot, though.
Last is the downward dog:


Which is a piece of cake:


Not bad!  It's fun that these dolls can actually imitate the poses that are being introduced.

I saved the inspection of Alanna's hair for last because I was nervous about what would happen when I let down her long braid.  When the hair is braided, it looks very smooth and sleek and is easy to manage.

Not surprisingly, when the braid is let down the hair is kinked and uneven:


The rooting is also a little bit thin in the back:


The hair feels nice and silky-smooth, though, and I like the streak of pink that runs down the side (a streak of orange would have been more original, though, and would have matched the outfit).

hair

I decided to dunk Alanna's hair in boiling water to see if it would loosen up some of those kinks.


While Alanna's hair was drying, I decided to take a look at my second AZIAM Girlz doll.

Here's Asana:

review

This box is a little simpler than Alanna's.  I find it easier to take in all of the information, but that might be because I know more about the AZIAM Girlz now.

What stands out to me on the bottom of the box is the doll's name.  Nice and simple.  It's also clear that this is an AZIAM Girlz doll, and that she's the "world's first yoga doll."


There's no word salad on the side of the box, either, just some colorful text, a picture of the doll, and an advertisement for a book:


Here's the book ad flipped around:


Because Alanna came with a book, I assumed that Asana came with this book, but she does not.  This book has to be purchased separately ($16.95).

The other side of the box says that Asana is active, and that she moves just like me:


Apparently, 10% of the sales benefit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation:


I couldn't find a rating for this organization online, but fighting childhood obesity seems like a worthy cause.

Here's the back of Asana's box:


She's from Los Angeles (I was just there!) and has a dog named Sukha.


Asana supports the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  In fact, (and I think this is really cool) each AZIAM Girlz doll (except for Alanna?) supports a real-life charity that has something to do with her personality.  A portion of the price of each doll actually goes to her chosen charity.  For example, the character Prana is very creative and loves fashion.  Her favorite charity is The International Child Art Foundation.  Dyana, the redheaded, studious character supports the Questbridge organization.

The charities are all well-matched to their doll and (from what I know) highly respected.  I just wish my purchase of Alanna had contributed to the Malala Fund!  Maybe they just don't mention it anywhere on the website or box? Anyway, this feature alone makes me want to buy more of the dolls!  Especially the redheads. That's good marketing.

Here's everything that came with Asana:


And without the leaflet in the way:

review

Asana's presentation is a little sloppy, mostly because of her wild blonde curls!


Asana comes with a brush, a Girl Power Cuff, and shoes that are just like Alanna's but pink.  Her unique accessories are a pair of hand weights and an awesome-looking Pilates ball!


The Pilates ball smells a little funny, but it looks just like the real thing:


It's a little bit squishy and has AZIAM painted on one side:


The pink weights have little indentations in the middle so that Asana can grip them:


I'll have Asana model her accessories in just a bit.

Asana's lower joints are stiffer than Alanna's, so she stands up well.  Also, her legs aren't crooked so I had a much easier time balancing her:


Asana is wearing a yellow tank top over a pair of hot pink leggings.  The tank has AZIAM printed above a rainbow peace sign:


The tank top opens all of the way down the back (thank goodness!):


The leggings are made out of a shiny stretch knit,


and there's a colorful AZIAM running down the left leg!


It wasn't easy to see Asana's features when she first came out of the box...


But I was able to tame her hair with a quick brushing:

review

Asana came wearing a bright pink headband over her forehead:


Asana's eyes are a bit more vivid than Alanna's.  Her blue irises are still pretty pale, but she's not as ethereal as Alanna:


Her eyelids are decorated with a pinkish lavender eyeshadow and (unfortunately) her lips are painted to match.  I don't usually like dolls with purple lipstick because they look deprived of oxygen.

Definitely pneumonia.
I removed Asana's headband so that I could look at her hair, but this is what I found:

Noooo!
She has bad staining all around her hairline.  Even the clear rubber band in her hair is stained!


That's such a shame.  A little staining doesn't bother me, but anything on the face is hard to ignore.

I immediately removed Asana's pants to see if there was staining on her legs, too:


There's a tiny bit of staining on the back of her thighs, but it's not obvious at all:


Here's a closer look:


I left the little side-sweep in the front of Asana's hair and took the big ponytail down.  The hair was a little hard to tame once it was free from the ponytail!


The rooting pattern is similar to Alanna's, with a densely-rooted side part and some widely-spaced hair plugs in the back:


Asana and Alanna have different complexions.  Asana's coloring has more pink in it and is slightly darker overall.  Here are the two girls side-by-side:

AZIAM Girlz Alanna and Asana.
I find Asana's coloring more versatile as a whole, but I don't like her lipstick color.  Alanna looks especially ghostly next to Asana, but her unearthly eyes and pale skin have their own odd appeal. In fact, I almost wish her lip paint was a shade lighter or more translucent, to fit with the rest of her features.

I gave Asana's hair a quick boil wash and left both girls to dry out overnight.

The next day, I struggled to get Asana back into her original clothing.  The tight waistband of the leggings kept getting caught in her hip joints, and the tapered legs of the pants wouldn't turn right-side-out:


Her hair dried very nicely, with lots of body and curl remaining.  This is before I brushed it (brushing made it poofy again):


Here she is from the front:


With her hair done and her clothes back on, Asana was ready to model her accessories.

She can balance nicely on her Pilates ball, and it seems like a good size for her:

Toy Box Philosopher


The ball is a really fun accessory!

Toy Box Philosopher

The weights also fit into Asana's hands well, although they fall out if her fingers are pointed downwards.


These dolls have great accessories.

I had a lot of fun playing with Asana.  She photographs well, her joints hold their positions nicely, and she has a sweet way about her:


If her lips were a different color and she didn't have any stains, I'd be pressed to find anything major to criticize.

review
My kind of doll.
Alanna is a little harder to appreciate in some ways, but she's also more unique.  I was feeling like her white outfit was swallowing her up and making her skin look green, so I tried some other clothing options. 

I thought these pieces from my Liv dolls' wardrobe might look good with her green eyes:

AZIAM Alanna is Liv clothing.
While the clothes fit well, the bright green of the jacket makes Alanna's eyes look even paler than they are...if that's possible:


The Zeenie clothing looked better.

Oh–also, I was unable to boil all of the kinks out of her hair.  The hair feels nice, but the uneven texture and length conspire to make it look pretty bad:


The hair also has a strange grey cast.  It's not black, but it's not exactly dark brown either.  It's hard to explain, but I'd say it works with Alanna's unusual coloring.



The green jacket wasn't working for me, so I tried the outfit with just the white tee shirt on top:


This isn't great.  She looks super skinny and strange.  

Maybe just the white tee and leggings??


I finally gave up and decided to re-braid Alanna's hair and put her back into her original outfit.  

Unfortunately, the orange satin ribbon and rough velcro don't play well together, so the ribbon gets a few new snags every time I take the clothes on and off:


Here's Alanna back as she came...minus the pesky sash:


She wanted to model her cushion for you:


It's such a simple little accessory, but for a doll who is so good at sitting, it's really the perfect thing:



Alanna can even lay on her belly and prop herself up on the cushion, which is an extremely rare pose in the play doll world:


Bottom line?  This is one of those cases where I feel like between the two dolls I got, there's a good doll to be found, but neither doll on her own is without flaws.  I'll explain.

Alanna is ultra pale with ghost-like, nearly-white irises.  She would be perfect as an elf, a spirit, or some other fantasy creature.  Even her hair has a slightly grey tint that makes it not quite what I expected.  However, she's dressed in a modern-looking martial arts uniform with a pageant sash and has a sassy pink streak in her hair.  The stark white of her uniform accentuates her odd skin tone and something about the whole presentation doesn't add up for me.  I thought she might look better in regular clothes, but was unable to find the right outfit.  Alanna has a few minor technical issues as well.  Her leg articulation is loose and and one of her legs is crooked, so she has some trouble standing on her own.  Also, while her hair fiber feels nice, if the original style is taken down, the stubborn kinks and uneven length make the hair unruly and unattractive.

Asana has fewer issues overall, but one of her flaws is a deal-breaker.  Her coloring is more traditional than Alanna's, and it fits with the style and palette of her yoga outfit.  Her joints are solid and so she can stand on her own and hold poses better than Alanna.  Asana's wavy blond hair is not as silky and smooth as Alanna's hair, but it looks good after a quick boil wash...as long as you don't brush it too much.  My only concern with Asana's hair is that the texture might be prone to tangles and matting.  Asana's biggest issues are that her lip color is off-putting (to me, anyway) and her head was badly stained by her pink headband.  I suspect all of the Asana dolls have this same problem.  The dye from the pink headband leeched into all of the soft plastic in the box, including the clear rubber bands. The staining on Asana's legs is not serious, but the facial staining is not acceptable.  I'd be cautious of any AZIAM Girlz doll with bright clothing near her vinyl parts (face, hands, feet).

Both dolls have excellent accessories, especially the yoga cushion, the La La Beads, and the Pilates ball.  Those are great!

AZIAM Girlz Alanna (left) and Asana (right).
What keeps me interested in these dolls, despite their flaws, is their wonderful articulation.  The AZIAM body is different from anything else I own, and it poses extremely well.  The arm articulation is not in the same league as the Made to Move dolls, but the lower body articulation is equivalent.  What really makes the AZIAM Girlz stand out is their waist joint.  This huge rotating hinge allows the dolls to bend forward and backward in ways that most dolls can't achieve.  If I have a criticism of the AZIAM articulation, it's that it goes too far (can you believe I just wrote that?).  The joints bend in so many directions, it's easy to get limbs turned around and joints misaligned in such a way that the doll becomes tangled and hard to pose.  Also, the second ball joint in the hips seems redundant, and it doesn't look very good.  Overall, the bodies on these girls pose amazingly well, but are nowhere near as natural-looking or attractive as the bodies on the Made to Move dolls.

The last thing I want to address is the yoga theme of this line.  I have to admit that I found the theme alienating, especially at first.  There were so many phrases and references that I didn't understand, it distracted me from the actual dolls.  Even as I started to understand pieces of the AZIAM culture, parts of it turned me off.  There's an almost religious fervor to the messaging, and I think some of the messages (be happy all of the time!) are wrong.  However, some of the messages (be kind, be honest, be active) are not only important, but especially relevant in today's society.  I also love that each doll is paired with an actual, real-life charity that is supported by a portion of that doll's retail price.  The dolls are essentially practicing what they preach, which is rare and admirable.

Many of you know how much I enjoy seeing something truly new on the doll market.  The AZIAM Girlz are new in how they move, how they look, and in the culture that they promote.  And what I love most about these dolls is that nothing about them is simple.  From the bizarre complexity of their articulation to the unfamiliar details of yoga, learning about the AZIAM Girlz was an adventure from start to finish.

AZIAM Girlz Alanna (left) and Asana (right).

39 comments:

  1. I'm sorry, but that doll seems to have an extraterrestrial body, it's a bit scary and without clothes it looks deformed. They took great care in the movement but not in how the joints look

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    1. Many things about Alanna are extraterrestrial! I agree. :) With my fixation on articulation, I'm happy to sacrifice appearance for mobility, so I don't mind Alanna's joints. It's tough though because Mattel took the time to design a highly flexible AND attractive doll, so the bar was set really high!

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  2. I agree with your opinion on the "be happy all the time" message. Its' not healthy to tell a child to hide other feelings with a smile and laughter. I mean...you would not go up to a person with depression and tell them "just choose to be happy and you won't be depressed any more" would you?

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    1. Exactly. Perfect example! It's like telling someone with cancer that having a positive attitude will cure them. I think acknowledging (if not embracing) the whole spectrum of human emotions is a good, healthy thing.

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    2. Precisely! Nothing is ever that easy in life. Also, the pursuit of happiness is neither the ultimate answer nor is it beyond corruption or falsehoods. I think with some nuance the focus on positivity could've worked, there are benefits to optimism and good sportsmanship, but they blew it big time by oversimplifying things. :P

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    3. That's precisely why Inside Out is such a beautiful movie. It demonstrates that everything is important, and how unhealthy forced happiness can be.

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  3. I wonder if SheVa is a double entendre with a nod to Shiva the destroyer? It would fit the theme...

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    1. Oooh! I like that! I think you might be right.

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  4. I don't care much for the dolls, but thoroughly enjoyed reading your review!
    I'm sorry for your loss of little Zelda, Emily. I remember the sweet picture you had up of her on one of your posts a while ago and she looked like a really special pup.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Елисабеч. Zelda was a sweet, spunky little moppet and we loved her dearly.

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    2. I'm also sorry for your loss, but I'm glad you've got a lot of fond memories of her (and I'm assuming the rest of your family does too, though I forget how old your youngest is. At least the boys got to grow up with her, from the sound of it?)

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  5. Maybe you could pretend like the pink stain is a birthmark? XDX

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  6. The packaging, the doll....I got visual overload.

    & I'm sorry about Zelda. I know how hard it is to lose a pet.

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  7. While I do understand (and stress) the importance of encouraging children to feel the spectrum of their emotions, I do think that a valueable lesson can be obtained from "I am happy". It nurtures optimism and reframing situations in a way that encourages mastery over emotions. These are key ingredients for the growth of resilience. Perhaps it could have been better worded, but it is not a detrimental lesson in and of itself.

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    1. Spoken like someone whose life hasn't been touched by depression. It's good to know that you think that it's a simple matter of "mastery over emotions." Now I know my dad simply failed at that mastery when he shot himself in the head. Here I was, all this time thinking that less of a stigma on depression might have helped him to get the help he needed. Thank you for teaching me that we should be shaming depressed people into just making an effort to "master" their emotions!! I guess I should also quit my medications, stop being lazy, and simply master this....

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    2. Speaking as someone who has indeed struggled with life long depression and who is studying developmental psychology professionally, I find your comments to be extremely inappropriate. I am talking about the benefit of the development of resilience, thr number one protective factor for lifelong wellbeing in young people. This is especially relevant when discussing toys aimed at young people.
      I am sorry you found this to be offensive.

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  8. I really like the concept of these dolls! I hope they stay around and get better in the future.
    My theory for the AZIAM spelling is that if they had spelled it with an S, people would have misread it for "Asian", especially with the yoga theme.
    The one thing that I found really weird are the La La Beads. They look like Islamic prayer beads, which is an odd design choice.

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    1. Maybe she's supposed to be Muslim? That'd be cool but a little lame that they didn't come out and say so. Of course, I think that specific doll is based on the founder of the company (also named Alanna) so it's possible they were concerned about anyone who automatically assumes the worst about Islam.

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    2. Buddhists use prayer beads as well. Based on the dolls themeing, they're far more likely to be Japa Mala than Misbaha.

      I'm curious to know if it represents them accurately. It should have 108 beads (since it looks far too long to be the 27 bead variant).

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    3. Wow, I didn't know about the Buddhist prayer beads actually!
      I still find it a bit odd to include prayer beads of any kind (or something that looks close enough anyway) with a child's toy not specifically aimed at children of that religious group as a gimmick though.

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  9. I just lost my dog, too. He was a year old. Crying helped a lot. If I had pretended to be happy, I probably would have been more depressed.

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  10. Thank you for this review, Emily! It was very informative and I really enjoyed it! I got intrigued and went to AZIAM Yoga website. From what I understood there are two collections in the AZIAM Girlz line - Yogini Girlz (8 dolls based on the 8-limbed path of Yoga and SheVa Soul Model (representing inspirational female personalities). I agree with you, inspirational seems more appropriate in the context. As the Soul Model dolls are based on "authentic and passionate" women, I think that the first and currently the only Soul Model doll is named after the founder of AZIAM Yoga and the creator of this doll line, Alanna Zabel. She calls herself/the website describes her as "something of a modern renaissance woman". I don't understand the La La references. Alanna is described to be from La La Land, Israel?, comes with La La beads and a book called "The La La Sutra's of The Dolly Alanna".

    I'm very sorry about Zelda.

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  11. A beautiful review of beautiful dolls.
    I believe that it is okay to stress the positive through yoga and meditation. Isn't that why people do yoga? To refocus energy from negative to positive or to be able to handle the negative better?
    I am very sorry to hear of Zelda crossing to the bridge. She will never be far from your or your family's hearts.
    ~Xyra

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  12. I wonder if the La La beads are a reference to malas, which are necklaces used in Buddhism where one counts the beads?

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    1. Oh, I didn't think of those. Saku Yuu suggested Islamic prayer beads. To be honest, my first thought was a rosary but that seemed stranger than either of your ideas. I think they're some religious item regardless.

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  13. I had a very strong immediate... distaste for the writing on the book. The strange English and the zealousness of it all made me think of those New Age-y Buddhist cults that pop up every so often, and also the Hot Yoga scandal. But the dolls look really nice, if a bit on the cheap side, and I especially love Alanna’s coloring. Should be interesting to see how the line does.

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    1. Forgot to mention- I’m very sorry about your sweet Zelda. That’s always the worst part about owning pets, isn’t it?

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  14. Malala is a Pakistani girl who was shot because of her fight for girls's rights to education. She won Nobel's peace price when she was 17. The Malala fund collects money to ensure that more girls get an education.

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    1. Malala is such an inspiration, and I'm so thankful to her father for taking what was, at the time, the unconventional view that girls should be educated as well. He had the power to stop her, but has supported girls getting educations. Without him, we wouldn't have his amazing daughter and her important advocacy.

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  15. Thank you for the review! I'm really curious about these dols and I think I'd like to buy one of them.
    I don't think the sutra "I am happy" means having to be happy all the time. To me, it means more like "find happiness in little things and appreciate moments". It's nowhere near to criticizing for ever being sad. Thus, I like the message of this doll line.
    Their profiles remind me of La Dee Da, by the way.

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    1. I thought the profile looked familiar but couldn't place it.

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  16. I don't think Alanna is too pale. Maybe her tone of pale is a bit gray. I'm from Poland and most of people I know are quite pale. When I was a kid, I liked dolls with skin tone like mine. My favorite doll was redhead from My Scene.

    Thank you for your blog, I really like it! Even if for now I'm more into resin

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  17. I remember hearing about these, but the hip joints and clothes put me off

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  18. Hi Emily! I know it's a big ask, but I'd love to see you review one of the WWE Superstars dolls. I'd especially like to see how the bodies compare to Barbie, DC Superhero Girls, Wonder Woman and Monster High / Ever After High. You take the best comparison photos and it would be a valuable resource to the doll collecting world.

    Many thanks for your fabulous reviews!

    - Amy

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  19. The most amazing video I've seen in ages on being sad is from Barbie. BARBIE. This video regularly makes the rounds even in male-dominated tech geek groups for it's message that it's okay to be sad sometimes, and that this doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. This video has made me cry more than once. It's the first time I've ever heard that message, and it's changed my life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTmrCqbfjH4

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  20. You can most likely remove the pink stains from Asana via acne cream treatment and/or sunfading! (http://www.mlppreservationproject.com/body.html#StainRemoval)
    Most playline doll heads are made of vinyl, just like MLP are so it should work just fine :)

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  21. Thank you for this review Emily! I have never heard of these dolls, but now I really want one (or two :) ). I love articulation like you do, so - while I do admit they are unusual - the way the joints look do not put me off at all.
    Their clothing, on the other hand, does not appeal to me (but yoga is not my thing, and I'm a less sporty more skirty person, so maybe that's why), but I love to redress my dolls anyway, so I don't mind it. Also, some other characters come in non-yoga clothing that are more appealing also to me.

    The theme seems a little overdone and too religious to me as well, but I don't mind it, or I'd rather say I'm neutral as long as the dolls themselves are so fascinating :) And, just as you said, it's so nice to see the dolls actually do what their bios say they do, and that they are actually capable of doing the poses shown on the sheet is also fabulous! It happens too often that dolls can't actually do what they are supposed to do, or can't even hold or use their accessories properly, and it's super annoying. It's great to see a counterexample.

    After having done a little research to see how other dolls in the line look like, it was interesting to see that these dolls have already been around since 2015! I couldn't find out exactly when they hit the market, and how that compares to when the M2M Barbies were introduced, but they seem to have appeared rather in parallel than one after another.

    I love dolls with a pale complexion, so I really like Alanna's coloring, and don't find it too pale at all :) Strangely enough though, out of this line my favourite seems to be a doll with a darker complexion (Pratya, she looks so sweet) - but I also love Sama, Niyama and Prana - the latter reminds me of your Stardoll, by the way :)

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  22. Hi Emily! I love your blog and I read it constantly. It actually was a major factor in me taking another look at what I wanted to do, and at 24 I've recently gone to college for the first time to pursue a degree in toy design, with dolls being something I'm really hopeful I get to work with one day.

    I'm at Toy Fair this weekend in NYC, and I just got home. I saw an exhibitor today that blew my mind- they're 21 dolls that, from across the room, I actually thought were resin BJDs, but they're made of plastic and vinyl. They have really amazing quality clothes and at least 23 different points of articulation, wigs, and they're even in the process of patenting a new kind of ankle joint so they can do that ballet standing on their toes thing. They're "My Ballerina Dolls" at myballerinadolls.com, and they're showing off one new 21 inch doll at the show, and really excitingly, two of the original dolls shrunk down to 11 inch fashion doll size! The price point is crazy, the 21 inch dolls are 110 and the sales rep I spoke to said the 11 inch dolls would be in the 30 range, but they're so high quality I could hardly believe it. The man I spoke to was really passionate about the educational and play value for young girls (he says they use them in ballet studios to help kids model poses and visualize them) and was... surprised that collectors were so interested in them!

    I just saw them and thought of you and your blog and that you would probably think they were cool, especially the 11 inch dolls that are coming out this year.

    Thanks for all the reviews, they bring me so much joy :)

    -Nate

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  23. I really like the faces a lot. Nice eye screening! If they can fix the staining problem, they'll have a really nice doll line. I just looked at their web site, and they have a lot of other characters, too. Thanks for the review. I didn't know about these ladies until today.

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