Thursday, July 26, 2012

La Dee Da "Dots of Style Dee" from the Sweet Party Collection

After my first La Dee Da doll review, in which I examined the "Runway Vacay" Cyanne, I got the feeling that I might have chosen the wrong doll to exemplify this new line. I reviewed Cyanne mostly because she was one of only two dolls available online at the time.  To recap that experience, I was disappointed by Cyanne's thinly rooted hair, but learned that perhaps this is a necessity when creating up-dos with rooted curly hair.  Cyanne's nondescript style was also a point of criticism.  I found her tiny dress to be unimpressive, and she struck me as mundane, with a face and a theme I've seen many times before.  Last, I made no secret of the fact that I was disappointed by the lack of articulation and versatility in this line.

On the other hand, I did find Cyanne to be charmingly photogenic, and noted that several of the other dolls in the series appear to have more imaginative outfits, more interesting face paint, and more personality.  This got me wondering if I might have made a bad choice for my first La Dee Da doll.  I decided to re-assess these dolls with a fresh perspective.  This time, I selected my favorite doll in person, at a real store, where all of the dolls were in stock.  This was a surprisingly easy decision. Many of the dolls look similar to me, but a few stood out as special.  City Girl Dee is very appealing, and Runway Vacay Sloane and Tylie are distinct, but the uncontested show-stealer, in my eyes, is Sweet Party Dee:

La Dee Da Sweet Party "Dots of Style Dee."
I found when I was looking at these dolls that I was evaluating them for their hair, their face paint and their outfit...pretty much in that order.  Dee has great hair (and it's not an up-do, so I can test the rooting hypothesis), she has an adorable polka dot dress and she has expressive side-glancing eyes and glittery, asymmetrical face paint:


She's got it all.
It's nice to have the Dee character because I get the sense that she's the founder of the La Dee Da fashion label.  The Sweet Party clothes were apparently inspired by Dee's "sweet" 16th birthday.  Groan.  This is a tired theme, especially since the Monster High crew just took the sweet sixteen idea and gave it a creative jolt by adding two powers of ten.

The box is littered with word play:

Shouldn't that be canDEE?
Here are two neat things from the box: first, you can download a free ebook from the App Store.  That's creative and modern and reduces packaging.  I like it.  I might not like the book itself (I haven't read it yet) but I love the idea.

The other neat thing is the bar code:

How cute is that?
The La Dee Da dolls look outstanding in their boxes.  Each box is custom decorated for that particular doll, and the full effect of the display is...I've gotta say it...eye candy:

The dots of candy in the background, Dee's spotted dress and purse, her circular eye makeup and the rainbow burst of her all adds up to a lot of color.  It could be deemed over-the-top, I suppose, but it makes me feel like I'm in a candy store, or at a carnival, and that's a great feeling.  There's definitely a cohesive theme with this doll.

Even the loose curls in her hair hint at the dot theme.
I look at this doll and I think of Hallmark's Rainbow Brite.  Dee doesn't really look anything like Rainbow Brite, so I guess it's just a simple word association, but I can't get it out of my head.  Dee's hair reminds me of Rainbow Brite's horse, Starlite, who I have always loved.  Dee and Starlite would be a great pair.

Ok, here's a little tangent.  In Googling information about Rainbow Brite and her horse, I stumbled upon the (old) news that in 2010, Playmates made new Rainbow Brite fashion dolls with plastic horses!  I was so excited to learn this, but less excited when I saw the bad reviews of the dolls on Amazon, and the high prices for the (now discontinued) horses on Amazon and eBay.  I like the yarn-haired 1983 Rainbow Brite dolls (and their 2003 re-releases) by Mattel better.  Lately it seems like everything old is new again, and those of us who are a certain age get chance after chance to re-experience the consumerism of our youth.

Back to Dee.  She comes with a stand, an orange wrapped present that doesn't open, and a rainbow polka dot purse that doesn't open.

Here's a warning about that package (aside from the fact that it doesn't open).  It's being re-gifted.  Remember this?

Spin Master is allowed to re-use their own stuff, I know, but at least re-wrap re-paint it.

It's from this Liv Party clothing pack:

Yet another secret about the present (and the purse) is that they have ugly writing on the back, and the purse doesn't have the polka dot pattern on the back--it's blank:

Dee comes with an activity book with stickers that is very similar to Cyanne's book:

In contrast to the Monster High girls, the cartoon version of Dee's character actually looks very sweet and adds to the doll's appeal.  All of the pictures of Dee in the book (and on the box) are exactly the same, though, which gets weird after about page three.

Inside the book, Dee Clone #1 explains different elements of her appearance:

One problem here is that I love the shoes she's describing, with flecks of color that make me drool and think of sprinkles...

...but those aren't the shoes that the doll is actually wearing.  She's wearing these:

These are nice, but they don't make me think of sprinkles.
Dee Clone #2 has a simple arts and crafts activity suggestion:

Dee's stand has a blue sparkly base.  It is the same style of stand as Cyanne's, attaching to the doll by snapping onto both of her thighs:

Dee is colorful from head to toe, but her face and hair are the most eye-catching:

Her hair is pink around her face and orange at the back, with blonde in between and purple and blue streaks coming from her side part.  It's fabulous:


She has a large pink hollow plastic bow with an arrangement of light green dots in the center that looks like a flower:

Her eyes are painted in two shades of blue and have little reflective white dots and stars:


Both eyes have lime green eye shadow on the eyelid area, a black line marking the end of the eyelid, and then a pale blue accent above the eye.  There's also a small yellow half moon just under her pupil that looks like another reflection:

There are five glittery purple dots of different sizes painted underneath her left eye:


A few of the purple spots have a faint, hazy edge to them.  I'm not sure what causes this, or if it's intentional, but my concern is that it could be some sort of paint leeching effect.  It could also just be that it's difficult to get a perfectly sharp edge with the face stencils or whatever they use.

Her sparkly, asymmetric eyes are playful and cheery, but this type of face does limit her versatility.

Dee is wearing a teal blue mini sundress with a rainbow polka dot print.  The dress looks sleeveless, but it has translucent straps holding it up.  

There's an unhemmed ruffle detail that runs along the top of the dress, and a lime green ribbon just under the ruffle, which looks like a very high-waisted sash or belt.

The lime green sash is only attached at the back of the dress, so it actually droops down in front to reveal a line of blue stitching:

The dress closes in the back with velcro.

Although the dress is stitched with blue thread along the hemline, it is not actually hemmed and might be prone to fraying:

Underneath the mini dress, Dee is wearing metallic pink leggings with an elastic waist:

The pattern on the leggings looks a bit like sequins.  Or squid skin:

Her shoes are purple with translucent green soles.  The heels are made of three tiered spheres that get smaller towards the bottom of the shoe.  The design of the heel compliments the dots in the dress, but I still like the sprinkle shoes better.  The shoes fall off easily.

Dee is wearing a matching purple and green necklace with molded beads.  This really balances the shoes nicely, but I don't think the shoes or the necklace match the rest of the outfit that well.

The biggest question for me was whether or not the hair is rooted well on this doll.  She certainly looks like she has nice thick hair.  Notice on the right--she's losing a long strand of hair at the bottom.  Several of these pulled out when I brushed her hair.

The back of her head, which is rooted with blonde hair, is pretty thin:

The bottom of her hairline, which is rooted in orange, is very thick:

Clown hair.
You can see the contrast a bit better in this picture:

Is the rooting better than Cyanne's?  It's a close call, but Dee's hair is better, at least on average.  Here's a reminder of what Cyanne's hair looks like:

At the top of Dee's head, where her part line is rooted in bright blue, purple and pink, the rooting is dense again:

Her hair looks great overall, and the color balance is good.  It's still frustrating that you couldn't style her hair in two braids or two ponytails or something like that.  I wonder if maybe rooting the back of her head with more hair would have been too much?  It already looks like she's got a ton of hair:


You can style her hair in a simple ponytail, and this is fun because it rearranges the colors a little bit:


This doll is certainly fun to look at.  She is bright and cheery and definitely reminds me of candy:


She can't hold her purse, but you can hang it off one of her arms if the angle is right:


Bottom line?  I like this doll much more than I like Cyanne.  Dee's vibrant rainbow hair and cute party dress come much closer to compensating for her lack of articulation than Cyanne's thinning hair and cliched dress could.  To me, Dee's face shines with a bit more personality than Cyanne's--her eyes have more sparkle and mischief in them, and her face paint is bold and different.  She seems more special.

It's hard to ignore the fact that there's not much you can do with the tiny, inflexible bodies on these dolls. They can't stand alone, they can't look up or down, their arms and hands can't express much of anything, they can't hold anything, and they don't have many action pose options.  They seem more like they were designed to decorate shelves than to be played with.  Admittedly, they make lovely shelf decorations.  

I also don't see these dolls as being versatile enough to embody the characters that were written for them.  Nothing about these dolls makes me think of regular teenaged girls.  That doesn't bother me so much, as long as the dolls inspire some kind of creativity in the children who own them.  This assessment will be different for every individual, and so I can only speak for myself.  While Cyanne did absolutely nothing for my imagination, I can picture giving Dee a mischievous and magical fairy-like personality and getting lost in fanciful games with this colorful sprite.  

So really, my bottom line is fairly unchanged from that first review.  Choose your doll carefully. If you find one of these characters that speaks to you, it's much easier to look past the shortcomings.  Dots of Style Dee strikes that balance for me, and so while Cyanne and Sloane have moved on to other homes, this doll is here to stay. 



  1. Hello from Spain: I love this collection of dolls. They are very colorful and original. This is very cute. Keep in touch

  2. I think the Rainbow Brite 2010 dolls weren't that bad so much as they were different and fans of the original had difficulty accepting something that was different than what they had grown up with. Add to that that they launched the dolls too late for the holiday gift giving season, had very little in the way of advertising, and the only online content was some horribad web shorts. I do wish they would give the Rainbow Brite fashion dolls idea another go but maybe do something closer to Strawberry Shortcake this time around.

    1. Yeah, I think you're right. I read all of the reviews on Amazon, and some of the online discussions of these dolls, and the biggest complaint seems to be that they don't look like the originals. I am tempted to get one (they're cheap!) just to see how they measure up as dolls in their own right. I just wish I could find a Starlite to go with them! :)

  3. I've only seen City Girl Dee in the store and she didn't look as great as I thought to be worth $20 (I want to see her dog in stores, he looks super cute!). But I wonder if a doll with a solid hair color would be rooted better? These dolls see like the extreme of the big-headed dolls out there, with their super tiny bodies.

    1. Oh, I know! I want that dog, too! I hope someone will report back to us about the different hair types. I'm glad that this Dee is better than Cyanne, at least. That shows us that there is some variability.

  4. And so I've red your intire blog!
    I loved every single blog post, you definitely have a new follower!
    I also have an idea on what doll you can do a blog post about, but I don't even know if you can get them, they're called Hi Glam dolls.
    Let me know if you're interested :)

    Just someting on topic:
    I really like Dee, the colors on this doll look great, but I don't like these dolls enough to buy one though (they're not even released here, that doesn't surprise me because the Liv dolls weren't released here either)
    I really liked your photos though and I hope you'll have a lot of fun with Dee :D

    1. Oh, my goodness! You're amazing. Thank you so much. :)
      I have never heard of Hi Glam dolls, but I am going to go look them up! I get a giddy little jolt of excitement when I hear about a new kind of doll and I love getting recommendations!

      I'm done buying La Dee Da dolls for now. They're fun to look at, but you can do that in pictures, so I think you're wise to hold off on buying one, especially if they're hard to get in the Netherlands. On the other hand, you should definitely have a Liv doll--they're so much fun! Do you not have one yet??

    2. Ok, I found a Hi Glam doll. They're cute! Very leggy and tall. They're MGA, so it'll be interesting to see what the hair is like....

      I ordered one, so you can watch for that review. Thank you for the suggestion! :D

    3. I would love to have a Liv doll, I've heard a lot about them (people use their wigs for MH dolls) and you're really positive about them! (well, about the older Liv dolls, I also think that they are better than the newer ones) But they are really hard to find here.
      I've looked on every Dutch toy store website and second hand websites but I couldn't find anything.

      Hi Glam dolls are really great, I have five of them, 4 basics and 1 basic that I already had.
      I have every basic doll except for Nicole, I really love her but I couldn't find her :c
      Here is a picture of her:

      I bought four of my Hi Glam dolls extremely cheap at an outlet store, I can't remember what I paid for them but they were under 10 euros a piece, it was really amazing!
      I think they're worth more than that, I was really lucky, I even found them in another outlet store where they also were really cheap, but they only had the ones I already had.
      I think only the four basic dolls that I have were released here, maybe not even officially since they weren't available in the regular toy stores. I saw more on amazon (things like extra clothes and stuff) but I never saw those here.
      I bought a second Alex at the second hand shop nearby because one of the legs of my first Alex doll broke, I was really lucky to find a second one so cheap!
      I think these dolls are really worth their price, the only things that could be improved are:
      1. The quality of some of the clothes, like some leggings and one of the bags (I think it was Julia's bag, the strap came loose but I could fix it)
      2. The shoes, I really love them but they are really hard to get off, I warn you: DON'T PULL TOO HARD, that's how the leg of my first Alex broke.

      Other than those things, I absolutely love these dolls, they come with a lot of cute things and are wonderful to play with.
      I really wish I had Nicole too.
      I'm looking forward to your review! :D

    4. I think a review of the Hi Glam girls would be good too! I have a couple of the fitness dolls - they are perched on my desk just above my computer at home. They can share shoes with MGA's Top Model dolls (I think that's what they were called) as they have the same sized feet. They are cute, and what's not to like about those long, long legs? Since they are on the slim side, I have to wonder if they would fit into Bratz clothing??? I guess I'll have to raid the kids' toy boxes later....


    5. Forgot to add that the Hi Glam Alex and Nicole that adorn my desk have better than usual hair for an MGA doll, however, it really does seem to change from line to line with them. For example, one Bratz doll here has hair I would shave off if I were any good at re-rooting, where another has such lovely silky hair that is a pleasure to play with. I hope yours has great hair!


  5. You know, it's funny, but Dots of Style Dee is the only one apart from Safari Sloane that never appealed to me at one point...maybe if I eventually see her in person? I think her colourful appearance is probably very cheering. I'm glad she's better than Cyanne. Maybe one day they might have a more articulated line, if there's enough of a demand? Great review as ever!

  6. So we were at Target today and had to do the compulsory walk through the doll aisles. We spotted the NoviStars right next to the La Dee Da dolls and were immediately drawn to the La Dee Das! The Novi Star dolls are a huge disappointment in my book where as I was pleasantly surprised by the La Dee Da Dolls. We ended up coming home with City Girl Dee (mine) and Cotton Candy Tylie (my daughter's). I am hoping for good light this weekend so I can get the photos done and put up my review.

    On an unrelated note, do you have a photo lightbox you use for all your photography? Your colors are always so sharp.

    1. Yeah, I have a lukewarm reaction to the Novi Stars, but now I own one and will try to give it a fair shake. I love City Girl Dee--can't wait to see what you think of her! Cotton Candy Tylie looks like another good choice with all of that thick purple hair.

      Oh, my gosh, I don't have a photo light box, but I definitely need something like that. I'm glad you think the colors are sharp--it's a constant battle. I feel your pain about waiting for the light to be good! I have been taking some of the pictures outside (when weather permits) and have been working on an indoor set-up that will get me through the winter. It's not easy! My brother-in-law suggested that I take a large cardboard box and make my own light box. I think this is an excellent idea, but I haven't made it happen yet. It would have to be a big box because some of the dolls I shoot are over 18 inches tall! :-O

    2. Emily - my review of Dee and Tylie is now up. Their wigs are similar to Cyanne's, but I just love Dee! Her outfit is so much fun and very versatile.

  7. Ooh la la! Or should I say "La dee da!". I love this doll! I'm getting city girl Dee soon. By the way, I comment on Doll Diaries.

  8. i just got this doll because i was looking for a doll that kind of reminded me of rainbow brite.. even though the hair is different colores.. it still is a good doll to sit around.. i mean i'm 34 and so whats the use in playing with it.. i can play with my american girl dolls if i want.. and its amazing that it comes with a stand.. my cinderella doll didn't.. the stand probably keep her from falling over.. i have no problem with this doll.. and like the person in the review says she's staying here.. haven't gotten any of the other ones yet. but since i'm a rainbow person anyway.. if i get another one it'll probably be a rainbow brite doll if they still make those:) and if there in stores.. because i'm not paying 20 plus shipping and handling for it.. thats just outragious for a barbie doll or any doll except for the classic american girl dolls love her and all the rainbow inspired stuff or should i say candy inspired stuff that is with her:)

  9. I just found this doll today, buried deep in the shelves of a toy story (is very hard hre in Spain to find dolls like her) and...well, she's a weird experience for me, at least as a doll.
    I've never had any doll like her, and....aside from the amounts of hair she's losing by simple touch (does it happen with your doll as well?), and the troubles I had to take her out of her box (hoooolly spoon that's an experience I don't want to repeat), I have to admit, she's better than I thought.
    She's definetly a thing to have in a doll collection. But she's still weird to hold and pose....dunno, maybe it's me XD.

    PS: You're right, the gift box is a meh.
    Amazing review, as always.