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).
*sorry to anyone who started to read this review yesterday and then had it taken away.  I experienced a text bug that needed to be fixed line by line in the code.

For anyone in the United States who's looking to buy one of these dolls, I was searching the web and found some Kruselings for sale at a store in Arizona called Kidstop Toys and Books.  That store is charging $40 for the deluxe dolls, which is a better deal than I could find a few months ago.

The Kruselings come in gorgeous boxes.  In fact, I think it's pretty safe to say that I've never seen more beautiful play doll packaging than this:

review

The Lammily boxes are quite beautiful, but I like Sofia's box even more!

The cardboard window box is decorated with attractive graphics in rich, vibrant colors.  The text on the front of the box is embossed and colored with metallic gold:



Sofia and all of her accessories are displayed against a mirror-like metallic backdrop that gives the whole presentation sparkle and depth:


There's a graphic representation of Sofia right under the actual doll, and she looks great:


The same graphic style appears on a small book that's packaged in the middle of the backdrop.  I hope this has the Kruseling's complete backstory!


The top and right side of the box's plastic window are framed by a dramatic tree, and this tree wraps around to cover most of the right edge of the box:


In contrast, the left side of the box is plain green, with golden Kruselings text at the top and another (different) picture of Sofia at the bottom:


Here's a better look:


I really like the graphic style of the Kruseling art.  I also like the diversity of pictures–the fact that it isn't just the exact same picture of Sofia repeated several times all over the box.


The back of the box is mostly covered in text, with a few pictures along the left side and at the bottom:


The pictures on the left include a drawing of the characters looking at a tree, a picture of the actual dolls, pictures that look like they're from a tablet (an app?  A movie?), and pictures of the book:




I was curious about the media, so I searched for Kruselings on YouTube and found a trailer for a television show or movie.  It's really sweet (and only two minutes long) so I attached it here:


The characters are endearing.  I especially like how Vera (the girl in pink) is always dancing around.  Her movements are quite realistic!
  
Here's a screenshot of Sofia for anyone who doesn't feel like watching the clip.


The little animation from the end of the trailer is captured as a still shot at the bottom of the Sofia's box.  This is a good introduction to all six characters:

From left: Sofia, Vera, Luna, Chloe, Joy and Michael.
Judging by the trailer, Luna might be the main character in the story.  I didn't chose that doll because of her bangs, but now I regret my decision.  The Luna doll looks beautiful and has one of the best magical outfits.

Michael, the only boy, was not available for sale when I was buying my dolls.  I think he looks cute, too, but he doesn't seem to have any magical powers.

The text on the back is in multiple languages.  On the left, there's a description of the story, on the right there's a description of Sofia's character:


Here's a close-up of the story text:


I'm not exactly sure how Michael plays into this.  Maybe he's just a friend?  I think it's him we're seeing in the trailer, about to have a bad dream.

Here's a close-up of Sofia's biography:


She's from Peru and loves everything that's alive.  Her magic flower wand allows her to speak to all living creatures (awesome!) and also (according to the trailer) to magically sprout flowers wherever she wants.  Those powers are way better than my magical power, which is to kill any flowering plant that's placed under my care.

The silver backdrop is easy to pull out of the main box...


...and it's not too much of a hassle to clip the plastic loops and free Sofia and her accessories. There were two plastic ties attached to the back of Sofia's head, though, and these were tough to cut without damaging Sofia's hair.  I tried my best.

Here's everything that was in the box:

review

Deluxe Sofia comes wearing her magical outfit, but she also has a full casual ensemble, including shoes and a purse!


I'll look at the casual clothes a bit later.

I usually throw little plastic brushes away (they're not very useful) but this one has a very pretty molded design on the back that I wanted to show you:


The item that I'd hoped was a book is actually just a leaflet advertising all of the Kruseling products:


The actual book has to be purchased separately.

The cover of the leaflet is identical to the cover of the book:


Here's the advertisement for the book again:


I definitely want to read that.

Inside the leaflet, there's a map highlighting where each character is from:


There's also a photograph of each individual doll and the same biographical text that's on the back of the box:


The other side of the leaflet has product numbers and photographs of all the things you can buy.  Apparently it's possible to purchase the magical outfit sets on their own!


Sofia comes in a multicolored, gem-encrusted fairy-style outfit with vinyl butterfly wings, vinyl boots, and a vinyl flower:

review



The flower comes tied to Sofia's hand with a clear rubber band:


The flower has a molded, vine-like handle so that Sofia can hold it without the rubber bands:


The flower has some simple molded petals on the top:


And a painted purple heart on the bud-shaped base:


Sofia's vinyl wings fell off the moment I started to move her head:


The wings are quite heavy and attach to Sofia's back via a harness with a heart-shaped peg-and-hole connection:


Here's the heart-shaped peg on the back of the harness:


And here's the front of the harness after I slid it off Sofia's shoulders:


The wings attached to the harness easily...


...but I think that the peg-and-hole connection is not tight enough to keep the wings in place.  They fall off way too easily.

I'm not actually sure why the wings aren't permanently attached to the harness.  A dab of super glue would fix this problem.


Here's Sofia without her wings:


There's so much detail in her face and her outfit!


Her hair comes tied back into a single ponytail, but there are delicate braids on either side of her head:


One of the rare things I don't love about this doll is her profile.  I can't put my finger on exactly what I don't like, but I suspect it's a combination of the oval (flat forehead, flat-backed) shape of the head as a whole, and something about the contours of the mouth and chin:


Sofia's over-the-ears ponytail doesn't flatter this head shape, either.

I love the front of Sofia's face, though!  She has (normal-sized) brown inset eyes and the hint of a smile:

review


Sofia's irises and pupils might be a bit small for the size of her eye sockets, but I prefer this to irises that take over the whole eye:


The brown irises have some shading around the edges and a few small lines radiating from the pupil. Sofia's eyebrows and eyelashes are painted.

I let Sofia's ponytail down so that I could get a better look at her hair.  It's beautiful and soft and was very easy to brush out:


The rubber band left a bit of a kink along the top part of Sofia's hair, but otherwise it looks and feels great:


The hair has a tiny bit of slick styling product in it, but it's not goopy or messy.  The cut ends of the hair feel coarse, but everywhere else is smooth.

The hair is thick, with plenty of bulk to style and play with, but the rooting pattern looks sparse at the very back of the head:


Underneath the hair, Sofia's scalp is painted a shimmery metallic copper color.  It's very pretty!  That silly plastic tie sticking out is not pretty, though.

The hair is parted on the right side of Sofia's head and is rooted very densely in this area:


I tied Sofia's hair back into a high ponytail that would expose her ears:


This hairstyle makes her profile look a little better, although the rooted hairline is very high in the back:


Also, Sofia has a bit of sparkly copper paint spilled over one ear:


Fortunately, the paint is not very noticeable in real life.

Sofia's magical dress is sewn from five different fabrics!  It's really beautiful to look at, although notice how the green overskirt puckers up on Sofia's right side:


I might be able to get that part of the skirt to lay flat if I use a warm iron or a dab of FabriTac (?) but I haven't tried any fixes yet.

The bodice has gauzy cap sleeves under a rhinestone-encrusted satin tank top:


The small pink gems are glued to the bodice while the large green heart and the large pink flower are sewn in place:



The dress opens part way down the back with a strip of velcro:


The dress slides off easily, especially if the boots are removed first.  Here's the dress on its own:


Neither the triangular edges of the green skirt nor the scalloped edges of the pink underskirts are hemmed.  However, I see no signs of the fabric unraveling.

The sheer fabric from the sleeves continues as a lining behind most of the bodice:


This fabric has a delicate hem at the neckline, but there's no hem at the edges of the sleeves:


Overall, the dress looks very well put together.  


The only possible problem I see with the outfit is that shiny, satin-like fabric tends to be prone to snags.  I was very careful with how I handled the dress when the velcro seam was undone.

Sofia's colorful vinyl boots coordinate very nicely with her dress:


They have bright purple soles and heels, and a green painted vine-like pattern encircling the top:


The boots have a long slit in back and are easy to get on and off.


Even the chunky treads of these boots have some nice molded detail!


Underneath all of her clothes, Sofia is wearing simple knit underpants.  I will leave those on for most of her articulation pictures.

She has a well-proportioned body with a plastic torso, plastic thighs, and hard vinyl everywhere else. The vinyl parts of Sofia's body are dense, so she has a nice weight to her.  She boasts thirteen points of articulation, which is remarkable for a play doll in this size and scale:

review


Her balance is wonderful, even barefoot.  Her ankle joints are strong, so she does not collapse forwards or backwards.  She simply stands on her own without trouble.  Three cheers!

Sofia has a faint molded belly button and a large "K" over her left hip: 


Here's a quick look at the torso shape underneath the underwear:



I wish I could see into Sofia's neck joint, because I'm not exactly sure what's going on in there.  The neck moves in most directions and holds poses well, but it also wobbles a little when I shake the doll.

The head can tip from side to side a little bit:


And can also look up and down:


The head can spin all of the way around, but sometimes when I turn it to the side it makes a loud clicking noise!  I hope that's what it's supposed to do.


Whatever the internal mechanism might be, Sofia has great head mobility and her head says where I put it.


Sofia has rotating hinge joints in her shoulders.  These allow her to lift her arms up level with her neck:


She can also spin her arms all of the way around:


When her arms are spun upwards, she can lift her hands above her head, but her arms angle away from her shoulders like this:


Because of this angle, she can't touch her elbows to her head, but I'm not sure why she'd want to do that anyway.

Sofia's elbow joints are also rotating hinges, but they only flex to about 120 degrees:


The elbows can also bend the wrong way a little bit:


I often found it tricky to manipulate the elbow joints when Sofia was wearing long sleeves.  When I can't see the joint, I'm not sure if I'm bending it in the right direction.

Sofia also has rotating hinges in her wrists.  Her hands can bend back and forth quite a bit, in part because the straight edge of the vinyl in her wrist stretches and bends to accommodate the moving hand:



I really love the shape of Sofia's hands.  They have wonderful little details, like molded nails on each finger...


...and tiny creases on the palm of the hand:


Each joint in Sofia's arm has some limitations, but when all three joints are used together, she can do quite a lot.  

She can rest her hand on her hip:


And touch her hand to the top of her head.  She cannot touch her hand to her face, though:


Her arms seem pretty short for a ten-year-old, but she can strike some very graceful poses.  She'd make a good dancer!


Sofia's hips are rotating hinges that allow her to do partial side-to-side splits:


And partial front-to-back splits:


The hips can only bend about 45 degrees upwards without rotating out.  This makes it hard for Sofia to sit up straight in a chair:


Although she perches at the edge of a chair quite well:


For the same reason, when she's sitting on the ground, Sofia has to lean back if she wants to keep her legs close together:



In order to sit up straight, her feet have to be really far apart:



Sofia's knees have a good range of hinged motion:


And can also rotate!



Sofia can kneel pretty well, although her body tends to tip forwards a bit:


And she can kneel on one knee, too, although this is not very graceful:


Sofia's ankles are also rotating hinges, which means that every joint in her body except her neck has this great design.



The combination of Sofia's joints and excellent balance allow for a lot of fun, effortless posing!


The only other dolls in this approximate scale who can pose as well as Sofia are the Makies, and they're really in a category of their own.  If I try to think of any other play doll who is remotely like Sofia, none of them have this level of balance and articulation.


She's quite remarkable.


In fact, if she's wearing her shoes, she can even balance on one leg:

review

Very few dolls in any scale can do that.  My Makie, Glythia can perch on one foot, but the final-run, plastic-bodied Makies can't do this:


I don't own too many dolls who are similar in size and scale to Sofia, but I'll show you what I've got.

First, here's a comparison between Sofia and my plastic-bodied Makie, Blue:

Kruseling Sofia and Makie doll.
Most of Blue's joints have a better range of motion than Sofia's, but Sofia has better balance than Blue.

 

Sofia is taller than most popular mini dolls.  Here she is with a My Life As mini and an American Girl mini:

From left: My Life As mini, Kruseling Sofia, American Girl mini.
And she's shorter than the 9.5-inch Madame Alexander dolls that used to be sold at FAO Schwarz:

Madame Alexander Doll Factory doll, Kruseling Sofia.
That's the girl who I burned in the microwave.  She can't stand on her own anymore so she's propped up with Hermione's hand.  A little creepy, I know.

Many of you asked to see a picture of this burned doll years ago, and I have to apologize for taking so long to comply!  I guess I was traumatized:

Ouch.
I can't bring myself to throw her away, though, poor thing.

The other Madame Alexander doll series that I thought of when I first saw the Kruselings is the Travel Friends.  I reviewed these a few years ago, but I recently bought one of the newer Story Land dolls from that line.  I'll use the newer doll for the comparisons here because she's never going to get her own review.

The Story Land doll I chose is (surprise, surprise) Cinderella:


Not only is Cinderella my favorite fairy tale character, but she's one of the better-looking dolls in this series.
  
The other doll who looks pretty to me is Beauty, although I'm not used to seeing this character with blue eyes:


I admire the decision to give the Little Mermaid pink hair.  It's a bold choice, and the color makes me think of coral:


Rapunzel is cute, but her eyes are also the "wrong" color:


Rapunsel's eyes are way better than Snow White's demon-red eyes, though!

Yikes.
And Alice in Wonderland looks downright evil:


There are two generic fairy tale characters in the mix, too.  These are Starry Princess and Fairy Princess:


With so many unconventional eye and hair color choices (and the addition of two random new princesses) I have to wonder why Madame Alexander didn't introduce any ethnic diversity?  Seems like a missed opportunity.

Anyway...here's Cinderella:


She has the coloring and clothing one would expect for this character.


The blue dress left stains on Cindy's vinyl arms, though:


Cinderella is a good inch shorter than Sofia, which surprised me:

Kruseling Sofia and Travel Friends Cinderella.
Cinderella has more articulation than most mini dolls, but she still falls short of Sofia's impressive joint count. She's lacking wrist and ankle joints, and her neck can only spin around.  Also, her joints don't move anywhere near as smoothly as Sofia's, nor does she have the same impressive balance.


The Travel Friends cost about a third of what the Kruselings cost, though, so the differences are understandable.

Here's Sofia next to Tonner's Patsyette (they don't have much in common):

Tonner Patsyette and Kruseling Sofia.
On a whim, I also compared Sofia to one of my Helen Kish dolls.  This is the Jada doll from Mary and Her Little Lamb:

Kish Jada and Kruseling Sofia.
Despite glaring differences in the shape and proportions of those two bodies, Sofia fits into Jada's dress perfectly...and it looks wonderful on her!

Kruseling Sofia wearing a Helen Kish doll dress.


The colors in this dress are very complimentary to Sofia's complexion.  I just love it!

Let's see if Sofia's own casual outfit suits her as well as Jada's dress does.

The extra outfit consists of a dress, a jean jacket, a pair of flats, and a purse:


The flats are made out of pale blue vinyl and have a molded and painted bow on the top:



There are no treads on the bottom, just the Kruse brand name:


The purse seems a bit out of place with the rest of the outfit.  It's made out of fringed imitation leather:


Some of the cut fringe strips were wrinkled by the packaging ties:


Under the fringe, the body of the purse is made out of a textured imitation leather that looks a bit like snakeskin...or giraffe hide:


The purse is partially-lined and has a wide opening:


The jean jacket is made out of lightweight denim and is not lined:


The jacket is decorated with hot pink stitching, some of which is real and some of which is printed onto the fabric:


The left side of the jacket has a row of decorative silver buttons that are glued in place:


The jacket's fake pockets are also decorated with a small button.  I hope those buttons don't fall off!

In this picture you can see that the stitches around the pocket and across the chest are printed while the stitches along the edge of the placket are real:


There are both real and printed stitches along the cuff of the sleeve, too:


The dress has a simple sleeveless bodice with a gathered knee-length skirt.  It's made out of a pretty pink printed fabric that looks like a cotton weave:


This dress makes me yearn for spring!

There's a partial velcro seam down the back which makes the dress easy to get on and off:


Here's Sofia wearing her dress:


It fits her beautifully:


The jean jacket looks good, too, but because it isn't lined, the folded area around the collar can look a bit messy:



The jacket lays flat in front when the collar is up, but that looks silly...


With some fiddling, I managed to put the collar back down and keep the area in front looking nice:


The colors in this outfit might not be as complimentary to Sofia's complexion as Jada's dress, but it's still a great little ensemble:

review

And while the purse doesn't match anything else in the outfit, it offers a nice non-pastel contrast to the whole look:


Toy Box Philosopher

For some reason it wasn't until this point in the review that it occurred to me to compare Sofia to another Sonja Hartman doll that I've had sitting in her box for a year now.  

This is Annie, a Kidz 'n' Cats mini doll from 2017:

Kidz 'n' Cats mini doll Annie and Kruselings Sofia.
Not only are these two designed by the same artist, but they're very similar in size.  Poor Annie will never get her own full-length review, but I'll do a quick mini review for anyone who's curious.

It's pretty easy to summarize Annie, actually.  She's a beautifully-sculpted little doll with abysmal quality control.


This is exactly how she looked right out of the box:


If you ignore the colossal mess of her wig, you might imagine that I've posed her to be peeking shyly up at us, her head cocked endearingly to one side.  In reality, it's just that she can't hold her head up straight.  It also looks like she has side glancing eyes, but that's just because her left eye is poorly placed.

I managed to get her head straight for one picture (which somehow involved one hand sticking out to the side):


And now it's easier to appreciate the poor placement of her eyes:


She has a big scuff across the right side of her forehead, too, which is hard to see in pictures.

Her eyelashes are way too big and some of them are crushed (again, this is how she was right out of the box):



I don't even know how to explain the wig.  I removed the headband to see if I could tidy things up, but it only got worse.

The wig has no rooted part and yet a section of hair is pulled to one side and tied into a ponytail.  This leaves a large bald patch on the top of the head:


This is after I brushed the hair and tried to organize it into some kind of style:


Also notice that the dress (while nicely made) hangs down really low in front, making it look two sizes too big.  The shoes have a similar problem:


In a last act of desperation, I took the ponytail out of Annie's hair...


...and tied the whole mess back:


But because there's no rhyme or reason to the stitching in the wig, the hair still looks messy and uneven:


I have no idea how this wig would pass a quality control inspection.

I paid $80 ($95 with shipping) for this doll and she is the last Kidz 'n' Cats doll I will ever purchase.  It's a real shame, too, because she has a gorgeous little face.  She could have been wonderful.


Anyway, thank goodness the Kruselings came along!  They don't have the same expressiveness in their face molds as Annie, true, but they're much less expensive and vastly superior in terms of quality.

Here's Annie (unable to hold her head up...) next to Sofia:

Kidz 'n' Cats mini doll Annie and Kruselings Sofia.
Annie is strung with elastic and has a hard vinyl body.  The two dolls are different heights, but the torso shapes are similar, as are the hand and foot molds.

Annie's blue dress fits Sofia, although the straps are long on her, too:

Kruselings Sofia wearing Kidz 'n' Cats mini doll clothing.
Sofia's dress fits Annie perfectly!

Kidz 'n' Cats mini doll wearing Kruseling dress and shoes.
The shoes fit, too, but are a bit tight.

Looking at Sofia on her own was enough for me to wholeheartedly recommend the Kruselings to children and collectors alike.  I still want to share my other dolls with you, though, so that you can see some of the variety in this line.  I'll try to summarize these next three dolls as quickly as I can!

I knew I wanted the Joy character (she's from New York) and I chose the standard version because I prefer this outfit to the outfit selection in the deluxe set:

review

The box has the same basic design as Sofia's box, but it's half the width.

There's a cute graphic of Joy on the front...



...and a different version of Joy on the side:


The back of the box has all of the same information that we saw on Sofia's box:


But the background is pink and of course it's Joy's biography on the right hand side:


Joy's magic accessory is a pair of headphones that allow her to "listen in on secrets and fill dreams with music."  Adding music to dreams is great, but listening in on secrets seems nosy to me.

I love Joy's pose in the group picture at the bottom of the box:


Joy comes attached to the same kind of metallic silver background that we saw with Sofia:


She also comes with the same leaflet, it's just tucked off to one side.

Here's Joy:

review

I was surprised by how long her hair is in back!


I love Joy's face.  This is a different face mold:


The face reminds me of a Madame Alexander doll.

Joy has greyish-brown inset eyes that look very pretty and are well-set:


I think this face mold has a much better profile than Sofia's mold.  The forehead is nicely rounded and  there's good definition in the chin:


The hair is very curly and is pulled back into what looks at first like a simple ponytail:


Closer inspection reveals that there are two little twists on the sides of Joy's head that tuck into the ponytail.  I think this looks pretty:


Joy has excellent balance and a bright, colorful outfit:

review

She's wearing a yellow hoodie sweatshirt that's lined with a black and white polka dot print:


The lining only covers the hood and the edges of the sweatshirt, though:


The pockets are nonfunctional and are decorated with printed stitching.  The cuffs of the sweatshirt have real dark blue stitches around them:


The bottom hem of this sweatshirt sticks up all of the time, which is frustrating.  I feel confident that a warm iron would fix this, I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet:


Underneath the sweatshirt, Joy is wearing a white tee shirt with a tiger head on it:


The tiger is wearing huge glasses and a yellow bow!

She looks pretty ticked about it, too.
The shirt opens all of the way down the back with velcro and is easy to get on and off:


To contrast with the shirt, Joy is wearing hot pink capri pants:


These have printed white stitched details on the front and real white stitches down the sides.  The fabric has a bit of stretch in it, which allows Joy to pose well even when she's full dressed.


Joy's pink sneakers don't quite match the color of her capri pants, but they look fine.

The shoes have white treads and toes, and black painted laces and stitching:



I took Joy's ponytail down so that I could get a better feel for her mass of hair. Like Sofia, the rooting on the back of her head is sparse...


...but you certainly wouldn't guess that from the abundant volume of her hair overall!

review

I didn't brush this hair with my wire brush, but merely combed it a bit with my fingers to loosen some of the matted areas.  It looks great:


There were a few straggling bits of hair sticking out here and there, but I just snipped those off with scissors.


The twists at the sides of Joy's head were not secured with anything other than the main ponytail holder, but they stayed twisted even after the ponytail was taken down:


I like Joy even more than I like Sofia.  Her hair is really fun and her face mold is wonderful.  I like her outfit a lot, too, even though the colors are brighter than what I would ordinarily choose.


The other standard doll I bought is Vera.  I had to buy this girl on eBay because she was temporarily sold out at My Doll Best Friend.

I chose Vera because I love her casual outfit and her animated character makes me smile with all of her twirling and dancing around.  

The doll looks much more subdued:

review

The cartoon of her is great, though.  This is how I think of Vera's personality:


I like the version of her on the side of the box, too:


Vera is from France and dreams of becoming a ballerina.  I guess that explains why she's always dancing!


Vera's magical accessory is a ribbon that can make anything dance.  I bet that will be a fun trick to watch in the animated show.

Here's Vera out of the box:



I was drawn to Vera's cozy-looking outfit, with its fuzzy pink hat and matching vest.  Maybe that's just because it's been super-cold around here lately?


The vest is fully lined and well constructed.  The hat is unlined, which helps it stay on Vera's head.


Without the vest, I wasn't as impressed with Vera's dress as I'd hoped to be:


It has a pleat in the front that puckers and bulges out in a strange way.  The pleat also prevents the lower part of the dress from laying flat:


This area of the dress looks especially funny from the side:


Vera's dress also has a section of hemline that sticks up all of the time (right underneath the star print).  This seems to be a theme with the Kruseling clothing so far: there's always one section of fabric that won't lay flat!

Under her dress, Vera is wearing sheer pink tights with no toes:


The bare toes are great because they make it easy to get the boots on and off.

Vera's boots are a medium pink color with white treads and a small painted bow in front:



Vera has smooth blond hair and grey-blue eyes.  Her right eye has a cloudy section that obscures part of her iris:

review


The cloudy area is hard to see in pictures and is the only eye defect I found in any of my dolls.

Vera's eyebrows and eyelashes don't match, which is fine, but the color choices are a little odd.  Her eyebrows are a nutmeg color while her eyelashes are auburn:


That pairing would be great for a redhead!

I let Vera's hair down from its main ponytail.  Like Kidz 'n' Cats Annie, Vera has a small section of hair pulled back to one side and tied into a ponytail:


Fortunately, Vera also has a side part to accommodate this style!

The hair has some layering in back, but is mostly all the same length.


Vera's hair feels stringy and a bit greasy to me.  There's a fair amount of styling product added to it, which is part of the problem.  The hair fiber is also poker-straight, which contributes to the slick feel.  It's quite different from Sofia's thick hair:


The last doll I bought is Chloe–the redhead.  I tried to resist her at first because of her bangs, but she won me over in the end:

review

I chose the deluxe version of Chlole because I like the extra outfit in this set:


The standard version of Chloe has a wonderful-looking casual outfit, too, so it was a tough choice.  In the end, I decided that I'd really like to have a second deluxe doll.

The cartoons of Chloe are great, although this picture...


...is the one that's on the back of all the boxes:


I especially like this picture:


Chloe is from England and has a magic paintbrush that brings color to the things around her:


As usual, the doll looks a little bland after seeing the dynamic poses and expressions of the cartoon characters:

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Here's Chloe with her magic paintbrush:


The paintbrush looks a bit like a flower bud:


It has a handle at one end and purple bristles at the other end:


The bristles are partially covered with an ornate silver shell:


Unlike Sofia's insect-inspired wings, Chloe's purple wings have feathers: 


The wings are my favorite part of Chloe's magic outfit.  I love the combination of purple and metallic silver:  


The peg-and-hole attachment between the wings are the harness is more stable than it was on Sofia's wings, too.


Here's Chloe without her wings:


Her dress has an asymmetric overskirt with ruffles along the edges:


Underneath the overskirt, there's a another layer with metallic silver dots on it.  Under that, there's a third sheer purple underskirt:


The bodice of the dress matches the overskirt and is accented with silver glitter and a large pink gemstone:


The waistline of the dress has a purple satin ribbon wrapped around it and the whole area feels thick and a little stiff.

The sleeves are made of stretchy purple knit and have metallic silver stitching along the edges. I love this detail!


Chloe is wearing ballet slippers on her feet, with vinyl ribbons that tend to fall down around her ankles:


Here are the ribbons pulled back up on one side:


The shoes are made out of semi-transparent purple vinyl with bits of glitter molded inside.  The left shoe is more transparent than the right shoe, though, which looks a little funny:


Here's one of the slippers on its own:


Each slipper has a painted star at the top and a painted bow in back at the bottom:


The vinyl ribbons might slip down every now and then, but they're so much easier to use than real ribbons would have been in this scale!

I was quite worried about Chloe's bangs.  In my experience, bangs on dolls (especially on small dolls) tend to stick up and look bad.

Chloe's bangs came with a lot of styling product holding them flat, and I wasn't sure what would happen when I disrupted the styling gel!


I rubbed my thumb through the bangs a few times to loosen the caked hairs and...

...the bangs stayed flat! They just look more soft and natural now:


Phew.  The cut is surprisingly even, too.

Chloe has the same face mold as Vera and Sofia.  I don't think the bangs help improve this profile too much:


I was excited about Chloe's green eyes, but unfortunately they're pretty unrealistic up close:


The color is really bright and the iris details are very hard to see, especially in real life.  I wish they'd chosen a slightly more realistic shade of green for this girl.


I moved Chloe's bangs to one side so you can see that she has nice nutmeg eyebrows and dark auburn lashes:


The paint around her eyes is not as crisp as it is on some of the other dolls.  I think it looks fine, though.

The next thing I did was brush Chloe's hair:


Her hair is pulled over the top of her head and tied in the back into a small ponytail.  The texture is thicker than Vera's hair and has a bit of wave towards the bottom.  It's very similar to Sofia's hair.


With her hair brushed and her bangs relaxed, Chloe was eager to try on her extra outfit!
Here she is wearing just the dress and the pink polka dot boots:


The dress has the same cut as Sofia's casual dress.

I love how the dress and boots coordinate through their polka dots but don't match in color:


The boots have light pink treads that match the polka dots.  There are a few paint scuffs here and there, but nothing too glaring.


The outfit also includes a beautiful pale blue pea coat:


This coat has tiny white buttons sewn down the front and accenting each cuff:


The coat has a small princess seam in the bodice and a little bit of gathering at the waistline:


There are a few small gathers at the back of the waistline, too:


The blue of the coat perfectly matches the polka dots of the dress:


The little details on this coat (the collar, the sewn buttons, the pleats and gathers) make it my favorite item of Kruseling clothing.


Once again, though, the purse doesn't really go too well with the rest of the outfit:


The pink color coordinates with the boots to some degree, but the large teal bow is an outlier:


The purse is lined at the top and opens with a little square of velcro:


Here's Chloe holding the purse:


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One thing that struck me about Chloe's casual ensemble is how much it has in common with the L.O.L. Surprise doll's "mermaid" packaging!  Take a look:


Not only do the blue and pink shades match almost perfectly, but both have a polka dot theme!


I'm glad I got several Kruseling dolls because I like each of them for different reasons.  Joy is my favorite doll, but Sofia is a close second and I like her magic outfit a lot.  Chloe has my favorite casual outfit, with that gorgeous coat and simple dress.  Vera doesn't stand out as much as some of the others, I guess, but I still appreciate her pretty eyes and cozy outfit.

The four Kruselings I bought have three distinct vinyl colors.  Vera and Chloe have the same skin color, even though Vera's pale hair can make it look like she's the fairer of the two:

The Kruselings, from left: Joy, Sofia, Chloe and Vera.
From looking at photos online, I think Luna has her own (even paler) skin color and shares Joy's lovely face mold.  I really should have bought her instead of Vera!  It's so hard to decide about a doll by just looking at catalogue pictures.  The boy, Michael, appears to share his coloring with Vera and Chloe.

I'll probably cave and buy Luna someday, especially since the bangs are done so nicely on these dolls.
Another reason to buy Luna is that she has great clothing, and it's fun to have a huge wardrobe for these girls!

I played around for a while with different dolls wearing different outfit combinations.  Here's Sofia wearing her own jean jacket and boots, but with Joy's pants and tee shirt:

Sofia wearing some of Joy's clothes.
I think Vera looks especially nice in Chloe's dress and boots with Joy's hoodie!

Vera wearing Joy and Chloe's clothes.
Chloe's a bit too pink in Sofia's dress and Vera's vest...

Chloe wearing Sofia and Vera's clothes.
And Joy can't even get Chloe's jacket on over the sleeves of Vera's dress!


Vera's outfit looks great on Joy without the coat, though:

Joy wearing Vera's dress.
Joy's happy face really stands out to me in this collection.


She's a gorgeous little doll!



I also wanted to try Chloe in Sofia's magic outfit, to see how it brought out the color of her eyes!

Chloe wearing Sofia's magic outfit.
This makes me like that shade of green a lot more!


What a cutie.

Here's my favorite doll (Joy) wearing my favorite outfit (Chloe's casual wear):

Joy wearing Chloe's casual clothes.
That blue might not be the most flattering color for Joy's complexion, but she still looks delightful:

Joy wearing Chloe's casual clothes.
I put all of the girls back into their own outfits for a few more pictures.

Here's Sofia back in her own casual clothing:



And Vera back in her pastel pinks:



Here's one last look at Chloe in her casual ensemble:



And Joy showing off her agility in her own spunky gear:




I'll end this mammoth review where I started–with Sofia in her magic outfit, ready to make the flowers sprout!




I took Sofia outside to see if she could work her magic here in snowy Maine...


But it only seemed to enhance the blizzard!  Maybe I'll need to photograph these dolls outside again when spring makes a legitimate appearance here in the frozen north.


Bottom line?  I love writing review summaries when I can count the number of small problems on one hand.  In the case of the Kruselings, the only issues I encountered were:
1. Certain sections of clothing refused to lay flat.
2. The face mold used on most of the dolls is a little bland for these dynamic girls, and the head profile is odd.
3. Elbow articulation is limited and the arms can be hard to manipulate when the joint is covered with clothing. Hip articulation is also limited, so the dolls have a hard time sitting in a chair with their knees together.
4. The wings on the deluxe dolls can fall off easily.
5. The purses don't match the outfits very well.

I think that's it. And the best thing is that I have a counter argument to each of my own critiques:
1. Errant parts of clothing can easily be ironed (or even glued) in place.  Don't be lazy, Emily.
2. The faces look good from the front, Joy's face mold is beautiful, and none of the faces have misaligned eyes!  Stop complaining.
3. When a doll this size has thirteen rotating hinge joints, does anyone care about a slight reduction in any single joint's movement?  Nope.
4. Super glue!
5. Seriously?

Gabby and Stephanie, you guys were right: I love these little dolls.  Their sweet faces, fantastic articulation, excellent balance, well-made clothing, soft hair, inset eyes, and magical story all enchant me.  And, unlike so many media-linked toys these days, the quality of the Kruselings animated trailer only enhances my interest in the characters and their delightful personalities.

As these dolls move into the United States market, I hope the prices follow the trend set by that one shop in Arizona (where the deluxe sets are $40 and the standard dolls would be around $25).  At those prices, I cannot think of a single equivalent doll that I would recommend more highly–for collectors and children alike. You guys know how much I love the Maru and Friend Mini Pals by now, I'm sure.  Well, if those dolls are a bit too expensive or you're shopping for a younger child, the Kruselings strike me as the perfect alternative.

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The Kruselings, from left: Chloe, Joy, Vera, and Sofia.

24 comments:

  1. Oh, my! They are lovely. I would find it hard to resist having one of each!

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  2. Hi Emily! Great review as always! I've seen the Kruselings before and wondered what they were like. I think the faces are a little bland in comparison to brands like Kidz n Cats, but that's just my opinion. I was wondering if you will review the Surprizamals unicorn set? I'd love to know what is inside those eggs. Also, have you seen the reboot Equestria Girls dolls yet? I think they've got real legs:)

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  3. Thanks for this great review! The concept of these dolls is lovely!

    If you like full-articuled mini dolls, I recommend "Club Hello Kitty dolls" (they have double-joints!!)
    Also, have you seen the "fresh dolls" line?

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    1. Seconding this! I wanted to recommend Club Hello Kitty dolls to you for years now! Ever since I first saw them (and bought a pair) on a summer vacation in Italy. Until now I never got to actually write a comment, but reading this review somehow reminded me of this - it seems I wasn’t the only one who got this association :)

      These dolls caught my attention mainly because of their double-jointed knees and elbows, which are a rare sight on dolls this size (they are a little under 20 cm). I loved their faces and proportions too, but I think my wallet might have remained closed if their articulation was simpler.

      I never really liked dolls that clearly resembled smaller children, but the CHK dolls have somewhat different proportions: to me they look like kids in their late nursery/early school years, when they suddenly grow a lot and are taller, thinner, but still look very childlike. I think their proportions match their faces well too.

      I would like to give you some heads up though: while their articulation is awesome in many ways, it is also very frustrating. The double-joints do a great job, and their head movement is also nice (their heads are sitting on a ball-type joint, so they can tilt their heads and look up and down), but as only a few of their joints are rotating I often find them difficult to pose. This doesn’t stop me from loving them though, which is clearly shown in that I have since ordered a few more of them online. They have a charm I find difficult to resist :)
      The other heads up is about their clothing: dark fabrics used for their clothes unfortunately tend to stain: two of my dolls (wearing purple and black) came with stains on their legs :( One of them was wearing purple trousers, and her lower legs were so badly stained that there was almost more purple than skin-colour... Luckily I managed to sunfade the staining completely (with the help of some acne cream), but the extra effort needed is still frustrating.

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    2. Ooh, seconding Fresh Dolls! I've been super curious as to how good their articulation is! Plus, microbraids on a playline doll is really impressive... I've seen them around but haven't gotten a chance to pick them up yet. it also looks like they're developing boy dolls too!

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    3. Yep, I think she would love those dolls. I have a few of them, but only took photos of one. I'll leave two pictures here so she can see an example of those dolls:

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/154549004@N05/26129031298/in/dateposted-public/
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/154549004@N05/26129031238/in/dateposted-public/

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    4. I've only got one Fresh Doll but I think they're great! The articulation isn't quite on a par with Barbie yet, though it's still very good for playline, but they're incredibly attentive to their customer fanbase and have already added wrist articulation to their upcoming line of male dolls, with the females set to get their own wrists next year, all thanks to the collectors asking for it! I've never been so excited by a doll company before, they're small but have big plans for the future!

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  4. Hi Emily these girls are so sweet! I wish there were a few more pictures of them all together in their casual outfits, posed dynamically! Also you need to check out the American girl megablox minis! I would love a little review of one of my favorites! They are less than 3 inches tall and have articulated knees! Also they just came out with series 2 and are on sale at Target for $2.45 near me! I think it's fun to have more than 1 and mix and match their outfits! It's also really fun to have a teeny tiny American girl!

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  5. Wonderful review. I want a Kruselings.

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  6. Hmmm, wonder if these outfits would work with the original (and best) Equestria girls? they're similar size - the only thing I think is the Kruselings might be a bit floaty on the EQGs as their torsos look thicker. Cellyzombie would look sooo cute in Sofia's dress though!

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  7. I first noticed Kruselings on an Australian online doll shop and totally freaked out (luckily I was at home alone so the only person who found this behavior disturbing was myself).

    I wanted to buy all of them. But at the time I couldn't justify buying even one, so I chose my favorite 2, bookmarked the site, and waited for a day when I was less willing to listen to the voice of reason.

    About 2 weeks later I popped into a boutique children's gift shop (where I go to drool over the baby dolls I'm never going to buy) and lo' and behold on a shelf near the door were 2 Kruselings!!! I did a freakout similar to the one mentioned previously. (But more subdued because I was in public and there were many more people around to find my behavior disturbing.) One of the two on my list was there, Vera! So without even thinking about it I picked her up, took her to the counter and said, "Here, take my money!"

    She is so beautiful. I am so impressed with the quality of her, the quality of her clothes, and her sweet little face. She does look like a more expensive collector doll, and at the same time I can see her being sturdy enough to be a play doll.

    Because I am an avid crocheter and knitter of dolls clothes, I've gotten straight to it, and in my spare time she sits on my craft box watching me create tiny items of clothing for her. I think she's getting a whole new wardrobe. I'm even trying to improve my rudimentary sewing skills for her.

    So yes, I love my little girl. And Emily, you've just reminded me that the lady in the shop said they would be getting more stock, so I'd better just accidentally find my way near that shop tomorrow. :)

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  8. Hello Emily, I just received Luna and she is much more appealing in person than she is in the photos. Her face mold is different from Sofia too. If you are looking for more casual clothes for your Kruselings, many Barbie and Liv clothes fit very well. Thanks for the heads up about Kidstop; the other Kruselings will be coming to my house soon!

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  9. Hi Emily,

    Lovely review and photographs as always! I was curious about this line and very happy to see your in-depth review (there has been talk of them online but nothing with much detail). If you do end up buying Luna as well, I would love to see a few pictures. Her character design is my favorite and I am curious about her face mold.

    I have a question I have been meaning to ask, and since you brought up Kidz n Cats, it jogged my memory. I recently reread your review of your Kidz n Cats Evita and was super curious about the limited edition Henriette that could be customised. You mentioned having placed an order for her but I was wondering how she ever turned out and what hair and eye combination you chose? If you ever snapped a few pictures of her, I would be most curious to see! Sorry about this random question, my curiosity was just piqued when I reread that review!

    Hope all is well. :)

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  10. Thanks for a great review! I'd seen these before but was holding out for more information. My default choice was Chloe (because redhead). However, Joy's bigger smile has definitely won me over.

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  11. Sofia's casual outfit really reminds me of the American Girl Create-Your-Own ensemble you got - not just the colors but the components as well.

    If you do get Luna, please share your pictures of her! I love these dolls smiling faces and their mix-and-match outfits.

    Perhaps the wings are detachable from the harnesses so that you can swap out the wings between girls while keeping the harness that matches the outfit. So you could put the purple wings with the green outfit, but use the green harness instead of the purple one, and vice versa.

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    1. I agree with all three of your points! I'd love to see Luna, too--it looks like she comes with a telescope and there's some kind of astronomy theme to her outfit to match her name. Pretty cute!

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  12. Thanks for reviewing these! I saw a photo of them on Instagram and was curious about the articulation. You've made them seem even more appealing, lol.

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  13. Hi Emily

    They are really cute, thank you for the review. I have to take a look if I can find them here.


    I got this beauty today and I think you would like her :) She‘s awesome...and she has red hair ��

    Have a great day,

    Séverine from Switzerland

    https://www.thescarygodmother.com/products/scary-godmother-fashion-collectible

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  14. While reading this review, I was reminded of the Lottie dolls--I have Stargazer Lottie. I saw a picture comparing a Kruseling to a few other brands of dolls, though, and Lottie is definitely smaller.

    These girls are cute, though, and I love the little wellie boots!

    -Lissie

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  15. Oh these are amazing! I love their sweet little faces and appropriately sized eyes. Would have loved to see Michael.
    My brother recently received a collectable/action figure guy for his 21st birthday. As I was looking at "Paul" I was just thinking of how much fun you would have with him. He's a WWII radio operator who has the whole works (uniform, radio, helmet, M1 carbine, trench knife and more). But the thing that sets him apart is that everything is so painstakingly accurate, down to actual buttons on his coat. His head sculpt is great and I can just see you having a grand time photographing him. Worth every cent in my opinion. Here's a link:
    https://www.bigbadtoystore.com/Product/VariationDetails/46375
    Yes, that is a 1/6 scale guy, not an actual person modeling the clothes! I hope you decide to review him or any of his buddies.

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  16. Fabulous review! I love your attention to detail and showing the different poses. That is one awesome wardrobe you've amassed for them.

    I kept thinking throughout that Michael is the human whose dreams Sophia and her friends are trying to clear of monsters. He's cute!

    With regards to the pour doll who got burned - I wouldn't be able to throw her out either.
    ~Xyra

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  17. Poor Annie stole the show for me! Her face is so darling. If I had spent 80 dollars on her, I would have cried seeing her in the package! There's so many flaws, but she's still precious in my opinion! Though that may just be because she reminds me of a girl I babysat who had a bit of a lazy eye...

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  18. Poor little burned-butt doll, I'm glad she's still around. I do hope you'll hold onto her, because she's still super cute and probably looks good in her clothes.

    You spoke of the Maru and Friends mini dolls at the end here. How do they compare to the Kruselings in terms of size and clothes sharing?

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