Friday, March 9, 2012

A Review of Hearts 4 Hearts "Nahji" by Playmates Toys: Charitable Dolls Part 1

A few years ago, I was vacationing in Colorado with my extended family.  I remember this trip well because of a magical visit to a toy store one night with my niece.  On a previous trip to the same spot, my niece had found and fallen in love with a doll that she could not afford.  The doll was "Lulu," one of the Karito Kids.   My niece saved her money for a long time, and on this trip she had finally accumulated $100, which was just enough to purchase the doll.  She was so excited, it was contagious.  What I love about this story (and my niece) is that she was drawn to the Karito Kid dolls because when you purchase one of these dolls, a portion of the price is donated to charity.  Not only that, you can log onto the Karito Kids web site and select a particular program that you want your donation to fund.  My niece was almost as excited to make this contribution as she was about the new doll.  I'll post about the Karito Kids next, but I had to tell you that story right up front so that you know where I'm coming from with this review.  Today I'm going to chat about the newer Hearts 4 Hearts dolls that are on the shelves of Target and Toys R Us for $28.99.

The Hearts 4 Hearts dolls caught my attention for two reasons.  First, a portion of the purchase price of these dolls goes to charity.  When I saw this, it instantly reminded me of my niece and her positive experience with the Karito Kids.  Even though I like the idea of a "charitable" doll, I do wonder what the real scoop is.  I mean, how much of the purchase price actually goes to charity?  How much do they mark the dolls up because they have charity written all over the box?  I'll want to explore that a bit.

The second thing that caught my attention was simply that the dolls look lovely and well made.  At my local Target, Hearts 4 Hearts share the aisle with the BFC Ink girls and the Our Generation dolls.  The Hearts 4 Hearts girls stand out in this crowd because of their sweet faces, the stories behind each doll, and all of the authentic details in their outfits.

Hearts 4 Hearts Nahji.
There are six Hearts 4 Hearts dolls to choose from, each from a different country.  Each of the girls has a story about overcoming adversity in her life, and each character has lots of ideas for how to improve the living conditions in her region of the world.  Each doll's outfit has traditional accents in its design.  I didn't have an easy time choosing which of these dolls to bring home.  I wanted to pick one with an appealing face, an interesting story, and an intricate outfit, but many of them have this combination.  I finally settled on Nahji, a ten year old girl from Assam, India.

On the back of the box, you can see the other five girls, Dell (USA), Consuelo (Mexico), Rahel (Ethiopia), Tipi (Laos) and Lilian (Belarus):

In my opinion, Tipi has the best face (but a relatively plain outfit) and Consuelo, Rahel and Nahji have the best outfits and accessories.  I love Dell's freckles.  I like Lilian's face least of all, but surprisingly she is the hardest of the six to find in the stores.  I chose Nahji because not only does she have a lot of detail in her outfit, but she has a nose ring and a henna tattoo on her hand.  These are not features you see on a doll very often.

Nahji comes in a big, solid cardboard box decorated with a larger-than-life photograph of her face.  A flap on the front of the box is held closed with velcro and can be opened in the store so that you can peek at the actual doll you are buying.  This is a nice feature (similar to the older Liv doll boxes) because the dolls look slightly different from the photo and I did run across a few dolls with missing lip paint.  

There's a ton of reading to do on the box.  You can learn a little bit about Nahji's personal story, and also see a map of exactly where in India Assam is located:

The box makes a big deal about how a portion of the purchase price will be given to World Vision, a well-rated (B+) charity that "helps real girls like Nahji."  This is a big part of the company's advertising, which has me back to wondering exactly what kind of charitable contribution we are talking about here.

Inside the cardboard box, Nahji and all of her accessories are secured to a plastic insert attached to a cardboard sleeve:

She comes with a comb, a little book and a bracelet for you to wear:

She also comes with an online code for membership to the website:

Here's her pretty face:

And, some pictures of geese.  Or ducks.  Not sure about that:

She's tied onto the plastic with about five pieces of white twine similar to the ones that hold the Littlest Pet Shop Blythe dolls in place.  The twine is very easy to cut or just untie.

Getting everything removed from the packaging is simple.  Assuming I can recycle the shiny cardboard outer box, the plastic insert is the only garbage, which isn't too bad.

Nahji comes with a little book that tells a bit of the story of her life.  It's pretty interesting, assuming it's based on fact.  Nahji's mother got married at age thirteen and never went to school.  Yikes.  Nahji convinced her parents that she should go to school.  Now, she is getting an education and raising ducks so that she can sell eggs and ducks at a small shop stand.  Aha, so they are ducks!  Cool.  She calls them "Runner ducks" and says they look funny, so I had to Google them.  Yup.  They're definitely funny-looking

The biology teacher in me is being sidetracked by the Indian Runner ducks. Apparently, only the female ducks can quack (the males just have a "hoarse whisper") and they run all around looking crazy.  The females actually lay their eggs while they're running around.  That doesn't seem very smart to me.  Probably it doesn't make things easy for Nahji, either. 

It's a cheap cardboard-covered book with an uplifting tale about ducks.

The comb is very sturdy and comes with a small red elastic band (to tie up her hair, I assume):

Here's the bracelet up close:

I don't like to be seduced by tons of extra items in the box with a doll.  It's pretty wasteful and in the long run I only care about the doll and what she's wearing.  However, there is definitely an appealing look to a box that is chock full of goodies and pictures.  In this case, the little book gives some dimension to Nahji's character and the comb is big and sturdy enough to be useful.  The bracelet doesn't do anything for me, personally, but perhaps a younger child would like to wear it to showcase the fact that they'd donated to World Vision.  

Let's take a look at Nahji herself:

The hairstyle is strange and a bit messy right out of the box.  That headband is working against her, crimping the hair and making it impossible to stow the flyaways:

Gorgeous face,
There's a ponytail in back, but also a big shank of hair off to one side that is loose.  Overall, the hair is a bit frizzy.  It has those rough ends that threaten to spring into a tangled mess at any second.

Shiny and smooth on top, frizzy on the bottom.
I took out the ponytail and headband and combed the hair to see if I could improve the situation:

It's a slightly shaggy, uneven cut, but it looks better without the added asymmetry of the questionable styling.  A little bit of hair was lost in the initial comb-out:

It looks nicer from the front now, but the ends are still unruly and give an overall ragged appearance to the doll.

I tried pulling everything back into a braid for now, and I really like that simpler look for her:

Makes her eyes look big and round.
Nahji has a braided purple necklace with a fake pearl pendant.  She also has removable dangling plastic jeweled earrings and a non-removable fake diamond nose ring.

The necklace looks pretty, but the tiny pearl button and thread clasp does not stay together at all:

Her right hand is decorated with Mehndi, a temporary henna tattoo that brings good luck (see how much I've learned?!).

Her left arm is adorned with three removable gold plastic bangles:

Her outfit consists of a bright pink textured top accented with white braided trim that compliments the necklace.

The top closes in back with a velcro strip and is very easy to get on and off.  It also has a translucent white net lining on the bodice and a white strip of fabric where the shirt is tight across the doll's chest.  Maybe this will help prevent staining?

Underneath the top is a pair of lavender leggings with beautiful gold painted decorations on the legs:

The leggings are very hard to get on and off.  The stiff painted cuffs do not fit over the feet easily.  This could be very frustrating for little hands.

Nahji's shoes are simple purple plastic sandals with molded hearts on the top.  They open and close in back for very easy on and off, although the closure is a bit fiddly.

Nahji has a very basic body.  She is about 14" tall and so she's more petite than American Girls and other similarly-sized dolls.  She has a plastic torso and vinyl arms, legs and head.  She is strung with elastic and has only five points of articulation.  Her head has a nice range of motion, but posing the rest of the body is limited.  Her body reminds me of my old 14" Madame Alexander dolls (like this one, who my sister had...and I wanted).

She is very sturdy and stands well on her own, both with and without her shoes.

To show her range of motion, I'll have her put those pants back on.  She sits pretty well, but has a slight tendency to fall backwards if her legs aren't all of the way out to the side.

She can actually strike some cute poses despite her limited articulation.

Here she is all dressed again:

She's a very sweet, simple doll.  I imagine she would be very appealing to girls in the 4-8 year-old range.  Now that I have spent some time with this doll, and a have a sense for her quality level, I have a few questions about the charity element.  

It is a noble venture to link the purchase of a doll to a worthy global charity.  I love the idea, because I think kids are seldom aware of the greater world around them.  A wise commenter remarked about how it's nice to see dolls like Chelsea and her friends who have small pets that require care and attention, rather than some of the more materialistic doll accessories like a new bike, a hot tub or a whole new fashion wardrobe.  This doll takes that idea one step further.

The questions I have really boil down to this: is the doll worth $30 on her own, and if not, is the charitable contribution equal to the difference between her value and her price?  Well, as it turns out, the first part of this question negates the second because I actually think this doll is worth her $30 price tag.  The quality and unique details of her outfit, the beauty and simplicity of her features, and the carefully thought-out elements of her character make Nahji a unique and interesting doll all on her own.  American Girl dolls are kind-of the gold standard in this size range (American girls are bigger at 18"), and they are an interesting compariosn because they also come with historical costumes and backstories. American Girls cost over $100, though.  They are certainly of a higher overall quality, but I think the Hearts 4 Hearts dolls offer a similar experience on a smaller scale.  I like the Hearts 4 Hearts faces better.

Still, I was dying to know what percentage of my $28.99 actually went to charity, so I asked the company.  I got a fast and friendly reply.  Before I tell you how much of her purchase price went to World Vision, though, I want you to just think of a number.  Actually, think of two numbers--one that you think should be given to charity, one that your cynical mind thinks is, actually, given to charity.  Think in percentages.  I'll wait a sec.

Ok, so what the company representative said is that 6.5% of each purchase is donated to charity, and that so far this has resulted in a total donation in the six figures.  That's about $2 per doll.  I don't know what numbers you had in your head, but I was thinking 10% would be amazing and 1% was much more likely.  I am very pleasantly surprised by 6.5%.  It does make me wonder, though, why not round up to 7%?  But that's just me.  I like round numbers.  Anyway, I can tell myself I only paid $26.99 for this doll and donated two bucks to charity.  That's kinda nice.  

To make the story complete, I really need to look at a similarly-priced non-charitable doll and compare her to Nahji.  I'll do that, too, but one thing at a time.  

Bottom line?  Nahji has some flaws.  Her hair threatens to be a big mess.  Her necklace will probably have to be sewn on, or have a new clasp made for it.  It's hard to get her leggings on and off.  Her articulation is very limited, but it's actually strange how little that bothers me.  I think that it's clear who this doll's audience is (younger girls) and the articulation is probably just right for that group.

The things that appealed to me at the store are the same things I like about Nahji in person.  She has a very sweet, versatile face.  Her features are beautifully proportioned and I find her expression serene and appealing.  There are tons of interesting little details in her outfit and accessories.  I especially like her henna tattoo and her nose ring.  I am not usually swayed by complex backstories that accompany dolls.  In Nahji's case, though, I really enjoy the details of her story and her outfit.  I like that she raises Indian Runner ducks.  That's cool.  The ethnic diversity in this doll line is very appealing to me.

I'd love to buy Nahji for a child--she seems like a great choice.  There are details about Indian culture in her story that might pique the interest of a curious young mind.   Nahji also seems like a very easy and versatile doll to play with.  I can picture a little kid bringing Nahji along with her everywhere she went.  The icing on the cake is that buying this doll might be doing a little bit of good in the world at large.  At the very least, the doll could get a young person thinking about some different ways of life and different kinds of people, some of whom might need a little help.

Age Level
4 and up
Good value, especially given the $2 donation to charity.
Very nice play quality overall.  
Good.  Mostly cardboard with a plastic window and a plastic insert.  The doll is tied to the plastic with a minimal number of twine ties.
No.  This is a toy-quality doll...but now I want to collect them all. :)
Although this doll comes with a detailed story, her features are versatile and she could be any kind of character a child wanted her to be.  Her outfit has details that reflect her culture, but it is not an extreme look that would pigeonhole the doll into a specific character.



  1. I saw these at Target last weekend while I was scoping out possible ensembles for Lorifina, actually. My Target had separate outfits for these dolls that were really quite cute. But I decided that Lorifina was too tall to likely pull them off. So I didn't bite.

    But I liked the ideas of these dolls, too, and I thought they would have been something I would have liked as a kid. I hope they do well, especially with the charitable element.

    1. You were right about the clothes, Kathleen--they're too small for Lorifina. The tops almost look like they'll work, but they're too tight. I love the sari outfit for Nahji, but I think it's about $18, which is a lot for just an outfit, no matter how nice it is (and it looks very nicely made!).

      I hope the dolls do well, too. It is a nice idea and a very pleasant doll.

  2. This is also one of my FAVORITE "Doll Lines"! I have Nahji, Consuelo, Tipi,
    Lillian & Dell - plus 3 of the additional outfits. Did you know that 3 new additions have been added to this line?
    (This website goes on and off line - ALL Day Long - so check periodically!) (Not sure which one is correct!)

    Everyone has been RAVING about the newest girl "Mosi" who is Native-American!

    You may be interesting in joing these chat groups? They're FREE to join.
    We have fun sharing photos & information!

    1. Wow! Thank you so much for this great information! I am most excited about that HORSE!! Yay! :) The new dolls look wonderful, too. What neat dolls. I am wondering if Zelia has red hair?? If so, I'll have to get her, too. ;)
      I will look at the chat groups, too. I adore Karito Kids.

      Many thanks again for sharing all of this exciting news!

  3. I got Consuelo today, and she is absolutely AMAZING. She has straight hair (no tangles or mess; it brushes out easily), and out of all my dolls, I think her hair quality is the best. Her face is so sweet and her clothes are well made. I love her! <3

  4. I have nahji and she is by far one of my favorite dolls of all time. I am getting Dell for Christmas. The sari outfit is cute but i cant tell you how good it is compared to dome of the other additional outfits for her because that is the only one Ive got. You can see pictures of Nahji and my other dolls on my site. Please visit snd comment!

  5. These dolls are stunning! Just bought Consuelo and Lillian and am looking desperatly for Tipi & Mosi for granddaughters for Christmas!

  6. Thanks for the info. I found this blog while trying to find out the percentage donated. I was guessing 5% so 6.5% is a nice surprise.

  7. Ooh our local retailer has two dolls available - Nadhji and Rahel - not sure which to get as Rahel has the cutest outfit but her curls may be difficult to keep neat and Nadhji in my opnion would have been better dressed in a sari. Eash doll is about $25 (converted from my local currency). This is Sep 2013 - so the stock is slow moving but thank goodness. I want both dolls but probably should only get one - perhaps Rahel - as I live in Africa.

  8. P.S. I bought Rahel...she was too cute to resist and while my dolls normally spend a lot of time staying in the box, I may have to liberate Rahel as her curls look rather squashed into the same sized carton that the straight haired dolls had. Oh well I think I can wait till this weekend! Now to search branches of the same retailer for other dolls in this line. And thank you Emily/Toy Box Philosopher - I have bought so many dolls since reading your site and DollDiaries.

  9. hey emily,
    my name is sabyasachi (tough to pronunciate,eh??) and i am from india.i read you blog because i am very fond of toys (even-though i am much interested in cars and action figures than dolls).the biggest flaw that i would like to point out about nahji is that she does not look even close to people living in assam.assamese people look like mongolians,like people from china or japan.she looks more like a resident of andhra pradesh or some other south indian is her outfit.she looks really modern and well off in those clothes.i am not being judgmental, but how could someone as poor as najhi afford a flashy outfit like that?this clearly shows the loopholes in her more thing, why did she not come in a traditional dress like other h2h dolls??i strongly opine that the manufacturers did not do enough research on the country.what do you say,em??

  10. Well remember that I could have bought Nahji after buying Rahel...well I received Nahji today as a special gift. Her box was badly scuffed and the window cracked but she was perfect. She may not look like the persons she was named for but she is cute and has the same eyes as Rahel. I am so lucky!

  11. Oh. My. God. Never have I EVER fallen so deeply in love with a doll line (with the exception of MH Venus McFlytrap) I want Shola, Consuelo (though her name should've been ConsuelA since Consuelo is a boys name) and Lilian since that's my REAL name (..shhh dont tell) and no one ever spells it like that now I spell it!

    1. Aren't they beautiful dolls? It's such a shame that the eyes can turn purple over time. I hope they've fixed that problem!! Thank you so much for the tip on Consuela's name! I have her, and I'd hate to call her the wrong thing! ;D I also think Lilian is a beautiful name, but I have never seen the Hearts 4 Hearts Lilian doll in person. One of my favorite baby dolls (by Cathariena Teunissen) is called Lilian, too. :)

    2. Although it ends in 'o', making you think it's a boy's name, Consuelo is in fact a girl's name.

    3. Queen Goblin, as a native Spanish Speaker still living in her Spanish Speaking country in LatAm, I can assure you «Consuelo» is a girl's name, and it means "comfort" (but in the sense of emotional and physical comfort, like when one is sad and/or hurt, not comfort as a by-product of a lifestyle. For that we say «comodidad»). «Consuela», while being an actual Spanish word, it's a conjugation of the verb «consolar», "to comfort"; either the third person singular simple present conjugation, or the second person singular imperative conjugation. Yeah. Spanish has lots of languages. «Consuela» is not an actual name, nor it would ever be.

      As for WHY we employ a masculine noun for a girl's name (it IS a masculine noun, «el consuelo»); a noun's gender rarely has nothing to do with what we consider to be a girl's name or a boy's name. After all, several flower names we use for girl's given names ARE masculine nouns, such as «Alhelí» (wallflower), «Iris» (iris), «Pensamiento» ("three faces in a hood", for bonus points, in Spanish its name means "thought"!), «Lirio» (lily), «Tulipán» (tulip).

      The ONLY exception is when the flower in question has historically been used in male and female forms when they are given names. For instance, «Jacinto» (hyacinth, boy's name) and «Jacinta», «Narciso» (daffodil, boy's name) and «Narcisa», «Hortensia» (hydrangea, girl's name) and «Hortensio».

      But. Then. Where does «Consuelo» comes from? Why would we name a girl "comfort", despite how pretty it sounds?

      Very simple; it's because we are religious (especially down here in Latin America).

      You see, the Catholic Church has a cult to the Virgin Mary (no, we do NOT worship her), and there are several effigies of her, showing us the many faces of the Virgin or have took their name from certain places of revelation. As such, those "attributes" are given as girl's names to honour the Virgin; plus, due to their association with the Virgin, they are firmly stuck as girl's name.

      That's why one get seemingly flabbergasting girl's names in Spanish such as «Consuelo» (comfort), «Dolores» (it means both "sorrows" and "pains"), «Rosario» (the rosary), «Pilar» (pillar, column). For added lulz I only mentioned masculine nouns used as girl's names, associated with the Virgin Mary.

      But there is Our Lady of Comfort/Consolation, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of the Rosary (plus, one usually prays the rosary to honour the Virgin), Our Lady of the Pillar.

      There is also «Mercedes» (mercies), «Asunción» (the Assumption), «Carmen» (´place name), «Guadalupe» (place name), «Caridad» (charity), «Alma» (soul), «Remedios» (remedy, cure, solution; Los Remedios is a place name), and so on and so forth. I could go on forever.

      The Virgin of Mercy, Our Lady of the Assumption (Assumption is when the Virgin Mary went up to Heaven), Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Virgin of Guadalupe, Virgin of Charity, Divine Shepherdess of Souls, Our Lady of Los Remedios. All that, respectively.

      It's nicer than naming every other girl (or boy, when used as second name) «María».

      Annnnnnnnnnnnd this was long.

  12. Hi, mind if I ask a few questions? I think hearts for hearts girls are adorable, I love their eyes, but I only own American Girl Dolls. I am under 12, but I appreciate quality dolls. Despite the cuteness of Hearts For Hearts dolls, does the quality make them... Not worth it?

    1. Not at all! I think personally that H4H are just as good quality as AGs (at least the ones we've gotten).

      Our Nahji's hair was actually better quality than any of our others, though it was very fine and it is kind of hard to make it hold a braid well.
      Her leggings were a bit tricky to get off, but if you pull down the waistband off her feet, leaving on the cuffs, they come off after a second.
      Her necklace was very easy for me to take on and off. My sister, Claire, is at the younger end of the AG age range, and it was a bit harder for then me, though she eventually got it. :)

      I would recommend Rahel (she's three years old, but her hair still looks exactly like it did when my friend got her, even with heavy playing), Shola (she's one of my favorites.....shh!), Nahji (best hair, good backstory, even if it is a few things wrong), Dell (fantastic), Surjan, Tipi, and definitely NYESHA!!!!!

      My friend has Lauryce, Zelia, and Lillian, and she says she recommends them too. :)
      I don't know about Consuelo because I haven't seen her in a while, but Mosi looks fine whenever I've seen her in person.

    2. I think I like Dell best, but Nahji is nice too!