Friday, January 13, 2012

Joanne Callander's Resin "Fidget" and her Cloth Cousins

I want to show you one of the treasures in my collection and tell you her story.  I love seeing dolls in person before I buy them, and I especially love finding out something new about the doll world.  I saw this doll during a visit to a nearby doll store.  I had never seen anything like her at this store before, and her imploring face kept pulling me back for one more peek.  I'm not sure I would have taken notice of her had I just seen pictures online.  She is so small (about 9 inches tall) and so pale that her features are incredibly difficult to photograph well.

She is "Fidget," a resin BJD (ball jointed doll) made by Joanne Callander:

Resin doll "Fidget," by Joanne Callander.

She has teeny tiny inset brown glass eyes and a platinum wig.  She was made in a very limited edition of 25.  She comes with a miniature resin flocked rabbit.  Joanne Callander also makes irresistible resin flocked puppies that you can still find for sale at The Doll House and The Toy Shoppe.

Fidget has this sweet little elfin face and a worried expression that melts my heart.  I find her incredibly appealing:
The name Fidget doesn't suit her, though.  Maybe Ruthie or Effie or something...
She is dressed in a gauzy nightshirt, pink silk night shorts and a pink velvet robe.  All hand sewn and very nicely done:

Nine inches is an unusual height, so let me show you some comparison pictures.  She's much smaller than a Liv doll:

Her rabbit is about the same size as the new Olivia LEGO figure:

Here's the little rabbit up close:

The rabbit is so small, and yet has these amazing details like his lightly flocked resin, a perfectly-tied pink bow tie and the itsy-bitsiest little pink eyes I have ever seen.  His arms and legs move, as do his ears.  He is a real treat.

Fidget herself is highly articulated.  She has joints in her neck, torso, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles:

She only holds a few poses on her own and is best at sitting.  For this kneeling picture, I had to keep my finger on her head so she didn't tip forward.

After I bought Fidget, we were driving home and I kept looking at her face and thinking, this doll reminds me of something.  Her face is familiar!

It nagged at me for almost a half hour before I finally figured it out.  Here's a little hint for you:

Does this outfit look familiar to anyone?

She looks like an Only Hearts Club doll!  Doesn't she?  Especially Karina Grace with the blonde hair:

The cut of the bangs is even the same!

Here's Olivia Hope, who I have out of the box.  She's slightly darker in coloring than Fidget, but do you see what I mean?  

Well, it turns out there is a very good reason for this similarity.  When I got home from the doll store, I Googled for a while and found out that Joanne Callander is, in fact, the designer of the Only Hearts Club dolls!  I was twice as excited about owning Fidget after that discovery, because my mom and I had just spent a ton of time rounding up a big collection of the Only Hearts girls for my step-neice for her birthday and so I was very familiar with them.  I ended up with a few "extras" of my own, of course.

The Only Hearts Club are 9-inch posable cloth dolls with vinyl faces, hands and feet.  Here's what their bodies look like: 
The earlier dolls have cloth feet, like this
They can bend in a few unnatural ways...not necessarily at joints! 

They have inset plastic eyes.  The website says the eyes are glass.  They look nice, but I don't think they are glass:
Wonky eye alert!
The dolls have long, silky, rooted saran hair.  They have an internal wire armature in their limbs that allows them to hold poses, but their flexibility is limited.   I wonder what those cloth bodies look like after a few years of play?  I need to get some data on that.

I'll do a quick de-box of Karina for you.  The box is just big enough for the doll--no gimmicky accompaniments taking up space in there.   You can reach in through a heart-shaped hole in the plastic and touch her hair if you want.  Also, dust can get in through that hole if it wants.

Within the outer plastic sleeve, the packaging is mostly cardboard:

She's held in the box by some thread, one plastic loop around her waist, and one of those plastic tags securing her head at the back.  Not too bad.

Scary glue!
All I have to do is pull out that plastic loop in the middle and I can recycle this whole inner box: 

Here she is with her dalmatian, "Dot Com."  Cute name!

Well-set eyes!  Do they look a bit big for the head?
Overall, the Only Hearts Club clothes are age-appropriate and well-made from nice materials.  I am not wild about this particular blue shirt, though.  I mean, is that pocket supposed to be off center like that?  Still, it is an actual working pocket, and the gathered detail on the sleeves is nice:

I wonder about that un-hemmed bottom...
 From the back:

There are eight Only Hearts Club characters in this size, all of them girls.  Their names are: Karina Grace, Olivia Hope, Lily Rose, Taylor Angelique, Brianna Joy, Anna Sophia, Kayla Rae and Hannah Faith.  The names reflect the wholesome feel of these dolls, I think.  They all have slightly different faces and different coloring representing a nice diversity of ethnicities.

Olivia Hope
I love Lily Rose's freckled face!
Anna Sophia--closed mouth
I really want Brianna Joy, but these dolls are getting hard to find locally.  They used to be sold at Target, but I haven't seen them there for almost a year.  I got most of mine on sale a few years ago at Target, and on clearance from Cherished Friends.  It actually looks like you can still buy them directly from the online store, which is good.  I was worried that they were being discontinued.  

The dolls cost around $17, comparable to Liv dolls or Monster High.  They come with a complete outfit, and many of the dolls also come with a stuffed pet.  There is clearly a lot of effort and attention to detail in their production.  I like the absence of plastic.  I got most of mine for $10 (or less) on clearance, and this felt like an extremely good deal.  

You can get outfits for the girls for about $12, and the clothing is nicely made and there is a ton of variety, including a whole equestrian line:

There are ballet accessories and age-appropriate fashion outfits.  There are also a few fantasy outfits like Lily's mermaid costume, and even some sleepwear.  

Lily Rose as a mermaid--this came with a cute stuffed dolphin!
In my experience, most of the clothes (except for tight pants) will also fit Jun Planning's Dal and Byul dolls, which is where most of my Only Hearts Club clothes have ended up.

You can also get smaller dolls called Li'l Kids, beautiful stuffed horses for the girls to ride, and stuffed animal friends (slightly bigger than Dot Com) called Only Heart Pets.  I get the sense from browsing the website that the Only Heart Pets have become more successful than the dolls.  Mc Donald's ran a line of Happy Meal toys of these little fuzzies and the Only Hearts Club did a promotional coordinating set of baby animals.  I don't own any of the little animals, unfortunately, but I do have Lily's Li'l Kid sister Jessica (she doesn't have a middle name):

These little ones are $8.99.  They have a stuffed body that is made out of material that looks like clothes, so the outfit does not come off.  The shoes don't come off either.  They have the same hair, inset eyes and wire armature that their big sisters have, although their posing is even more limited because of their short stature.

I love the little hearts on the bottoms of her shoes!
I thought the Li'l Kids looked a bit awkward in their boxes, but Jessica is surprisingly endearing and fun to play with.
Her hair is kinked from being in the box.
The Li'l Kids also come with very small stuffed pets:

The tag on the kitty is HUGE.  I cut it off!

An added bonus for me is that Fidget can share clothes with her 9" Only Hearts Club cousins.  I think her pale skin and long hair make her a perfect mermaid!

Here are some shots of Fidget with Lily and Karina so you can see how compatible they are:

Bottom line?  Fidget is an ethereal, almost fairy-like little creation.  The exquisite detailing in her tiny body and wardrobe is amazing to me.  I marvel at the way everything about her is crafted with such care and precision, down to the flocked and jointed body of her toy rabbit.  I love her vulnerable, imp-like personality.  

I am very fond of the Only Hearts Club dolls.  I think they represent a sweet, youthful innocence.  They wear well-made and tasteful clothes and have a great diversity of themed outfits centered around hobbies like riding, ballet and playing make-believe.  I love the idea of a cloth body.  The dolls are very soft and huggable and yet they have realistic vinyl faces that are relatable.  The cloth body does not allow for very specific or expressive posing, particularly in the hands and arms.  It takes a bit of work to get them to do what you want! 

Above all, I think it is fantastic that the talent and creativity of an artist like Joanne Callander is available to everyone in the form of the adorable and affordable Only Hearts Club play dolls and their little pets.  

Summary (9" Only Hearts Club Dolls):

Age Level
5 and up
What you get for ~$20 is comparable to other similarly-priced dolls like Liv and Monster High and there's less plastic.
High quality outfits, hair and face paint.  The inset eyes are a nice touch.  Unsure about how the cloth body wears over time.  Cute plush pet included with some dolls.
Good: small box, simple presentation.  A plastic sleeve outside, but all cardboard inside the sleeve.
Nowhere near as easy to pose and photograph as vinyl dolls, but they have very sweet, realistic faces and a diverse wardrobe that could adapt to many different stories and games.

Toy Box Philosopher


  1. I LOVE the BJD! I think her name should be Sue or Susanne.

  2. LOVE the face on Fidget -- the wistful expression is just adorable. Too bad that only 25 were made, but I would imagine she was expensive :)

    1. Thank you, Barb! It is such a sweet and innocent look. An amazing expression for being such a small doll. She was not inexpensive, that's for sure, but she was much less than most resin dolls.

  3. Oh my--Fidget is exquisite. Amazing that you sensed the resemblance. Next to one another you do see it. Apart... not so obvious. You have, as they say, "the eye."

  4. I would have loved Jessica when I was little. She's very sweet.

  5. I know the Joanne's craft store still sells Only Hearts dolls on the shelves. Last time I went they had the Asian character in stock, but I didn't have the money for her at the time. Do you have any Joanne stores in your area? maybe not all locations have them.

  6. For the Only Hearts Club girls, try Jo-Ann's in the doll aisle (you know, American Girl crafts and Springfield Collection?)


  7. I have several Only Hearts Club dolls and was looking forward to collecting more. However, I have changed my mind because of the dishonest manufacturer. Their website is still online and it promises free membership kits which are never sent. Their telephone and email lines are dead. A toy retailer told me recently that OHC has been totally out of business for at least two years. They found out the hard way.

    1. Thank you for the tip! I am overseas and have been looking for Only Hearts Club dolls for my daughter. Now I understand why it's been so hard to find them online. Too bad the business couldn't pull itself together--such a cute product line.

  8. I want to buys some Only Heart Pets - but have yet to see a review....the webiste only allows shoppers from US & Canada. The pets seem so cute at 3USD, but are they durable and any good - or should I rather buy Blue Nosed Friends - these I can source locally! Meg

  9. Jessica's middle name should be Lee.

  10. I am a major fan of Joanne Callander and own 2 of her resin dolls and 1 porcelain doll. I just discovered Only Hearts Club dolls and was looking at their faces thinking that they looked like a Joanne Callander sculpt. I was going to email her to ask, but you've answered my question. Her faces are exquisite.

  11. I'm slowly making my way through your archive, pretty much jumping around from connected doll reviews and random selection. I just read this and was curious about what other BJDs Joanne Callander has made. Imagine my astonishment when I found out that she has some centaurs! :O

    I'm sooooo tempted, even though the price is probably out of my range. (I mean, there's always credit, but my present financial situation is such that I really, really shouldn't.) If you ever buy one and do a review, I'd be over the moon. I'm eager to see how well they pose! They look so sweet, too, and I love the flocking (at least in theory. I'm hoping it wouldn't rub off too easily.)

  12. Oops, I didn't notice this when I posted a second ago. I love the bride and the one with the sunhat. Le sigh.