Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Review of Karito Kids "Ling" by KidsGive: Charitable Dolls Part 2

It probably seems strange that I told you the story about my initial experience with the Karito Kids and then reviewed a different doll instead.  I did this for a few reasons.  First, the Hearts 4 Hearts dolls are less expensive ($28.99 as opposed to $99.99) and therefore more accessible, and also the Karito Kids are harder to find because they don't appear in any of the generic stores like Target or Toys R Us.  Also, the Karito Kids team didn't answer my email about their charitable donations, so I was giving them more time to reply.

I was really fortunate to have found my Karito Kid at Tuesday Morning for $29.99 about a year ago.  This will make it harder for me to be objective, because I paid the same for her as I did for Nahji.  Still, I remember how hard my niece saved for her full-price doll, so I'll keep reminding myself about that experience when I try to determine value.

I have Ling, a girl from China:

Karito Kids Ling.
Here she is in her box:


There are three releases of the vinyl Karito Kids available at the moment (there are also some cloth dolls made by this company).  There's the debut World Collection, which was produced in 2008.  This is the group of dolls that my niece fell in love with, and also the version of Ling that I own.  Some of the dolls from that first collection can still be found on Amazon.  There was a second World Collection release, and from what I can gather, they are of a similar quality to the first release.  From just looking at pictures of this second wave, I suspect the outfits aren't quite as good as the originals, but I don't own any of the World Collection 2 dolls, so I can't really say for sure.  There is a third, less expensive version of the Karito Kid called a Giving Girl.  This doll comes in different (plastic) packaging and can be found online for about half the price of the other two groups.  From what I can see, there is only one Giving Girl character so far and her name is Lara.  I don't like Lara's face as much as the faces of the more expensive dolls.

On the box, you can see all of the different Karito Kids characters.  Similar to the Hearts 4 Hearts dolls, each character is from a different country.  From left to right there's Lulu (Kenya), Ling (China), Pita (Mexico), Zoe (USA) and Gia (Italy).  Gia's outfit is amazing.  There's another character not shown here named Piper (Australia).  I adore the Piper doll.

These are the first World Collection dolls.
KidsGive donates 3% of the purchase price of each doll to Plan USA.  That's $3 per doll.  It even says this right on the box.  So, when I emailed the company asking what percentage of the purchase price goes to charity and they didn't write back to me...I'm guessing they were scratching their heads and wondering why I didn't just read the box.  My bad.  

Plan USA has a B+ rating on Charity Watch.

With the Karito Kids, you have to actually go to the website and enter a code to activate your donation.  I was curious about whether this would work, given that I bought the doll for $30 and haven't done anything with the code for over a year.  Sure enough, not only does the code work, but there's a bit of a glitch that might be helping kids more than the company expected.  

After I entered my activation code, I got a virtual coin that I could allocate to one of four causes (food, health, home or school).  I wanted to read more about the different causes, so I clicked "More Info."  After reading, I hit the back button on my computer and was given the activation code screen again.  Oops.  I re-entered my code and found that I now had two coins to donate to charity.  Uh...what to do next?  I am a bit of a trouble maker, and so I tried this procedure again and, indeed, ended up with three coins:

This is great because I was having a hard time deciding between food, health and school anyway.  So, at the very least I gave $3 to charity...maybe $9. 

The box is covered with bright colors and useful information.  For instance, I like that the word "karito" is defined and they show you how it is pronounced:

I didn't know about the Esperanto language until now.  
Here's Ling:

She comes with a hardcover chapter book with a mystery story set in Shanghai.  I haven't read the book yet, but I am impressed by the quality of the binding.  It's a real book.  You can buy the books separately on Amazon, so there must be a decent market for them.

Ling is secured in the box with 5 metal ties.  The tie ends are taped down on the back of the cardboard insert, but the whole thing is pretty easy to undo.

There is plastic and tissue paper protecting the doll's vinyl from the tight metal ties.  This is wonderful.  Some of the Tonner Ultra Basic dolls had trouble with this type of tie causing shiny marks on the neck and limbs.

The pink booklet in there is Ling's "passport," which is where
 the charity activation code is written.
The passport has some additional information about the doll.  Apparently her full name is Wan Ling and she is 11 years old.  She is 21 inches tall.   Even though she's 3 inches taller than an American Girl doll, most of her proportions are similar to this style of 18" play doll.  

There's also information about Plan USA and a few maps showing where China and Shanghai are.  

I think Ling has a gorgeous face with very realistic features.  

I love the shape of her eyes, her natural smile and her elegant nose.

Her eyes are inset plastic, but they are very detailed and have a rich brown color:

Her wig is dreamy.  It is very soft and silky-smooth with no hint of frizz at all.  It's a lot like the lovely Lorifina wigs.

The wig moves very naturally with the doll and is easy to keep neat:

I look at and own a lot of dolls, and I know already that this one is special.  I understand now why my niece was so excited about Lulu.  These dolls have faces that are hard to forget.  Ling has very real features, and yet she retains the simple, smooth beauty of a doll.  I can imagine a little girl feeling very drawn to Ling's warm personality and her interesting face.  She looks like a good friend and a trustworthy confidant.  

Ling is wearing a very nicely made two-piece outfit with an embroidered orange velour tee shirt and a short jean skirt.

She has opaque white tights under her skirt, fuzzy pink knitted leggings and lace-up boots:

Look at all of the stitched details in these boots!
The boots actually have velcro on the sides so you don't have to mess with the shoelaces at all.  Thank goodness.  They are super-easy to get on and off.

The pink treads are a nice detail.
The pink leg warmers don't cover the feet, which is probably good because then the shoes would have to be huge.

The outfit is very well made and looks durable.  All of the stitching is neat and careful and there is a nice variety of fabric and texture.

Ling has an interesting body.  Her lower torso is cloth and the rest of her is vinyl.  It reminds me of the construction of Hildeguard Gunzel dolls:

She only has 5 points of articulation, but the stuffed torso makes her a bit more bendable (and huggable) than dolls like Nahji or Lorifina.

She sits nicely.

The fabric is very heavy and there's a lot of stuffing in there, so she's not floppy at all.  The leg joints work because there's a vinyl ring sewn into the leg holes and the ring articulates with the top of the leg.

It's very nicely done.  She can wear short pants, short sleeve shirts and scooped necklines without any cloth showing.

This body doesn't give her a ton of flexibility, but she can still hit a few interesting poses:

Here's Ling next to some other dolls so you can see what her proportions are like:

Lorifina, Ling, MiM, Nahji
Except for the fact that Nahji is supposed to be 10 years old and Ling 11, they could be sisters:

Maybe if Ling is 12 and Nahji is 5.
Lorifina and Ling
As you can see, there's no way Ling is going to share clothes with any of these dolls, but I was wondering if she might be able to share some clothes with an American Girl doll or an American Girl knock-off.  The least expensive way to test this hypothesis was to buy a few outfits from AC Moore.  AC Moore has its own collection of 18" play dolls called the Springfield Collection that retail for $19.99.  I am not very impressed by the Springfield dolls, but they're clearly marketing them as an American Girl alternative, and so the clothes should be about the same.  I bought a few of the nicer outfits to try on Ling:

Look at the Crocs!  Ah!  They're so awesome.
The blue embroidered dress is my favorite, so I tried it on first:

I think it fits her perfectly.  It looks too long on the Springfied dolls, but looks exactly the right length on Ling.  I also love the navy blue color with her black hair.  

The little Crocs are great, but they are a tiny bit too short for Ling's long feet:

They almost fit!
The pajama set also fits, but not quite as well as the dress.  The bottoms are short, which I would expect since Karito Kids are about 3 inches taller than the Springfield girls, and most of the extra height is in the legs.  The top has an odd fit.  It looks like the shoulder straps are too widely spaced:

The thing is, if you look at the picture on the package, the top fits the Springfield doll the same strange way:

So, I guess that's just the design of this particular top.  In general, I'd say that American Girl pants are probably too short, but that tops and dresses have a good chance of fitting.

Bottom line?  I love this doll.  There's nothing about her that I don't like.  She is beautifully made with an unforgettable face.  There doesn't seem to be a single manufacturing flaw on her.  She is made as a play doll, but she trumps many of the collectible dolls I have in my house right now.  If she had glass eyes and a human hair wig, she would be exquisite.   

In terms of the charity element of the Karito Kids, I have to ask myself the same questions I asked with the Hearts 4 Hearts dolls.  First of all, is the doll worth her price, and if not, is the charitable donation equal to the difference between the doll's worth and her price?  Well, clearly I think this doll is worth $100.  I adore her.  If you're looking for a special doll for your child and are in the American Girl scale market, the Karito Kids make an outstanding choice.  The added benefit of going online and personally choosing a cause to support is wonderful.  My only complaint is that since I know Playmates Toys gives 6.5% of each Hearts 4 Hearts purchase to charity, I can't help but wonder why KidsGive's donation is so much lower.  The thing is, for every doll that is out there on clearance, I assume 3% of the retail price is still going to charity.  So actaully 10% (or more...) of my $30 doll's price went to Plan USA, which is amazing.  I'm not sure how to factor that in.  

I have to say, I like being an adult doll collector.  I appreciate dolls differently than I did when I was younger.  I see them as expressions of artistry and creativity and also as little snapshots of our ever-changing culture.  I can certainly appreciate Ling from this perspective, but she evokes something else in me, too, that is pretty rare.  With Ling, I yearn to be a kid again so I can play with this doll.   I want to go on adventures with her.  I want to chat with her on long car trips.  I want to help my mom make clothes for her.  I want to build us a fort out of pillows.  I want my picture taken with her.  I'm not going to do any of those things at this point in my life, of course, but I do wish I'd had her when I was a kid.  I wish she was sitting on my shelf right now with that knowing smile and a childhood full of memories in her eyes:  


Age Level
5 and up
Good value at full retail price, outstanding value for any sale price under $60.  The charitable contribution is relatively small.
Excellent.  The vinyl, the wig, the clothes and the construction are all excellent.
Good.  Mostly cardboard with a plastic window and a cardboard insert.  The doll is tied to the cardboard with 5 metal ties.
This is a play doll, but I’d say she’s high enough quality and her face is unique enough that she could edge into the collectable market.
She has a pleasant, versatile, interesting face and a very modern wardrobe.  She can share some clothes with American Girls and other 18” dolls although she’s quite a bit taller.  She’d make an excellent companion doll for a child.
Highly recommended.


Molly--here's Zoe.  I think the faces are different.  Ling has a wider nose, and different eyes.  VERY similar smiles, though!!  What do you think?


  1. Oh man, she is beautiful. I've heard of theses dolls before but wasn't sure I liked them, but now hearing how good the quality is I would be more inclined to get one. If only I had more space for my dolls!

    1. LOL! They do take up significant space, especially with the 21 inch height.

      The faces are funny...when I saw a Karito Kid for the first time, the face turned me off because it is so different...nothing like a typical play doll face. However, after spending some time with Ling, it's actually her face that I love the best!

    2. I agree, the face isn't as cartoonish as most dolls (which is one reason I love some of them so much!) and more realistic. I wonder if all the Karito Kid dolls have the same face mold or if they're slightly different?

    3. Ooh...now that's a good question! They do have a definite similarity about them. I'll admit to also owning Zoe, so I can check her face and maybe post a pic and we'll see. :)

    4. Added Zoe's picture, above...

    5. Cool, I like it so much more when dolls in the same line have different face molds for individuality. Their eyes are different shapes too!

  2. Last month, I found a Karito Kids Pita from Mexico at the Thrift Store. She had no clothes, so I am going to have to look around for something for her to wear.

    1. Wow...that is an excellent find, Frannie!! How does her hair look? Ling's hair is so nice, I am really curious about how the wigs hold up over time. If you have an AC Moore nearby, I can definitely recommend some of those dresses for the Karito gals. The blue one in my post was $9.99, (maybe $12?). They also sell Karito outfits separately on Amazon, but they're over $20, I think.

      Enjoy your Pita! She looks lovely.

  3. I think the pajamas actually look like the fit quite good even if they don't look how they look on the package. They look like a cute pair of capri length pajamas. I think capri length pajamas (like the ones on some of the Monster High Dead Tired dolls) are super cute.

    1. I totally agree--the capri length looks great for pajamas! That's the style I like to wear. :) I am actually really happy with how Ling looks in them. That deep pink color suits her very well, too.

      I do still feel like I have to warn that in general, American Girl size pants will be much shorter on the Karito Kids because of those long legs.

  4. I thought about getting a Karito Kids doll awhile back, but since I already have 5 American Girl dolls, it seemed like it would be pointless and my dad would pull the same speech on me like he always does when I get another AG Doll (You already have enough dolls, even 1 was enough!)! I also thought the neck plate was a bit strange, so I decided to save my money and forget about it. That was a long time ago!

    I hate the Springfield Dolls as well. When I was 5, I got my first AG doll, and my sister couldn't afford one so she got a Springfield Doll instead. Within 1 or 2 weeks, not only had the arm come off and the leg almost come off, but her head suddenly came off too! I don't know where she is now, but I'm guessing she's long gone in the trash. Afterwards my sister tried Our Generation dolls, but those also were poor quality and didn't hold up. My grandma finally got her an AG doll (and one for me), and then she finally got more money and now she has 3 AG dolls. But now I'm wondering if we could have tried Karito Kids instead.

    Before they stopped selling the old Karito dolls, basically all of them were around $60-$90 at the maximum. I'm wondering where they were sold for $100, since I never saw them available for that high of a price.

  5. Emily, I just love your blog so much. Re-reading this one and touched how you gifted Ling. And to Anonymous, I am 59, have way too many dolls and bears, and all because of similar remarks by my parents (even today!). The REASON you need more than one AG doll is simple: it makes her more real when she has companions!

  6. Ling could totally pass as Maru's older sister from the doll collection Maru and Friends. Haha. She is one inch taller than her, I believe. Will you be doing a review on that doll line? I saw a post about it on Doll Diaries, but would like to know more. :-)

  7. It's so frustrating that I found out about these dolls so late! Now they cost much more than what they originally did and most are impossible to find at the moment. It's the same with the BFC Ink. dolls. Now I have to pay $20-100 more than I would have when they were first released.

    This is a fantastic review and you actually convinced me to buy the Karito Kids (eventually). I was on the fence about them at first and now I definitely want them!

  8. You're right, the Karito Kids are amazing! I only wish that they still sold them, it's quite difficult to find other dolls or accessories for them!

    My daughter has Piper and loves her! Thanks so much on the advice on the dresses, I'll have to try ordering some from Springfield!

  9. We have all 6 Karito Kids dolls. They all have a different face mold and skin tone. They are the best dolls I have ever purchased...so glad I purchased them all when they first came out! After five years of daily play, they still look brand new! So disappointed they are no longer available.

  10. I want Zoe, Ling or Piper. Some of them have smiles that are just "too big", but those three own my heart. I seem to be always on the "too late" end of things. BFC Ink, LIV, Moxie Teenz, West Coast Kids.......*sigh*. I am always late when needing to go somewhere too. I wonder if it's genetic? ;)

    My bet,

  11. This is probably the third time I have read this review. I just bought a Karito Kids doll off ebay for $80 (used) based on what I had seen on your blog, and she's just gorgeous. I know you own Gia and Zoe as well, and man, if you ever run out of post ideas, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make a post comparing the Karito Kids in your collection. They're such beautiful dolls, I'd love to see them next to each other. Each face is so unique and expressive. Honestly, I would love to see a feature like "sunday surprise" where you just show us some of the dolls in your collection. I feel like you have some incredible pieces and I know I'm not alone in wanting to see more of them!

    Thank you!