Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Waiting for Annie

As many of you know, My Twinn has recently released an 18" version of their customizable dolls.  I caved to that temptation pretty quickly and ordered a doll who I've named Annie.  I had a wonderful time with the 23" My Twinn Adopt A Friend dolls back in March, and my adopted friend Hazel remains one of my favorite larger girls, so I am excited to see what the company does in the smaller, more popular 18" scale.

I was thinking, though, that waiting for a customized doll and wondering what she'll look like is half of the fun.  My 18" Annie should arrive this week, and so I thought I would share some of the last-minute anticipation with you.

My story actually begins last spring, with my first attempt at buying a My Twinn custom doll.  Here's the My BFF 23" My Twinn doll I ordered in March:

My Twinn "My BFF" doll (23 inches).
Not the new 18" doll.
Right after I reviewed my Adopt A Friend dolls, Hazel and Calliope, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at the simplified customization process of the My BFF dolls.  Unlike the fully customized My Twinn dolls, these "Best Friends Forever" have fewer choices and an easy online interface that helps with the design process.

I started by selecting one of six clearly-displayed head molds:

The default head is featured here.  I chose the middle head on the left side.
Then, there's a choice between four skin tones and nine different eye colors.  It's hard to know what you're getting with the eye colors, because they're represented by drops of color that are only vaguely similar to the real eye colors.  My choices are highlighted in pink, below:

Very fair                                                                                          Olive green

Once the eye color is selected, the image of the doll will show a more accurate look at that color:

Still kinda hard to see.
Next, I was asked to choose the makeup shade I liked best (again, this is hard to see clearly--all three options look similar).  I also got to pick whether or not I wanted freckles and if so, what their density should be.  There are also five different options for hair color, and I was thrilled to see that one of them is bright red:

Red hair!  Red hair!  I pick the red hair!

After selecting the color, I got to choose one of twelve different hairstyles.

After handling Calliope's curly hair, I knew I wanted straight hair for this doll.  That choice was easy.  I briefly considered getting a doll with bangs, but then figured it might be safer to go without.  I have seen some My Twinn dolls with their bangs cut too short.

Cute, but risky.
The last step is to select an outfit and accessories for the doll.  The outfit selection changes based on availability, and back in March there were some strange choices:

I opted for a plain pink tee shirt and jeans.  And I added some cute tortoiseshell glasses.  Here's my final design:

I also named this doll Annie.
I had fun with the design activity and have been back a few times to design other dolls.  It's very easy and rewarding and might be a harmless activity for a child--as long as they don't have a credit card number on hand. 

My doll arrived a few weeks later, and I was dismayed to open the box and see this:

Not the messy hair--the color!  Ahhhh!
She did not have bright red hair by any stretch of the imagination.  It was dirty blonde/brown with lots of extreme highlights that looked almost like grey hairs:

Disappointment about the hair aside, though, she is quite an attractive doll.  

I like her face shape and her soft smile, and she has nicely-painted freckles and realistic, artfully-drawn eyebrows.  In person, her eye color is much more brown than green, which was another disappointment.  That paint drop icon made the color look decidedly olive.  However, the quality of the eyes is great and they look beautifully realistic and three-dimensional:

The eyes look greener in these pictures than they did in real life.
I acted hastily and sent her right back to My Twinn.  The company gave me no trouble with the return, and actually offered to re-wig her in bright red for free.  Unfortunately, I waited too long to reply (which shouldn't surprise anyone who's emailed me...) and missed my chance at this great opportunity.

So, despite the hair and eye color disappointments, this was certainly not a terrible experience.  I just didn't get the doll I was expecting.

I was more than eager to have another chance at the customization process, and so when I got an email about the new 18" dolls (on sale at the time for $90 with free shipping) I didn't hesitate to place my order for Annie 2.0.

The thing is, these new dolls do not have an easy online customization tool like the My BFF dolls.  It starts out easy, with a simple hair/eye/skin selection chart:

This time it actually says, "bright red," in the hair color section, so I'm hoping that's what I'll get!
You can also pick the style of the doll's hair and an outfit.  This is a list of what I picked:

I'm young at heart, but I'm not that young.
However, to complete an order for one of the 18" dolls, you have to go through the full customization process so that they can make a "twin" of your child.  This was intimidating to me because they ask for several photographs of the child in question (so that they can select the best face mold), and of course I don't have a nine-year-old daughter to photograph.   I really wanted to be able to just hand-pick my favorite face mold like I did with the BFF doll. 

I used the online query feature to sort this all out:

Lisa was great and informed me that I could simply use a photograph of one of the dolls on the website.  Phew!  The problem is that while the 18" faces are the same as the 23" faces, they've been shrunken, and so I wanted to see the face in the 18" scale before I picked it--you know, to make sure it scaled down nicely.  So, I had to choose from pictures of actual 18" dolls, and those are scarce at the moment.  The best place to look is in the 18" clothing section.  Scanning this section, I came up with the face options below, but I think maybe even some of these are duplicates.  The hair, skin tone, and face paint can make a huge difference in how these dolls look!

These first three faces are my favorites.  They are smiling and happy and I'm pretty sure that they're all different molds.  I like the first doll's smile the best, but her chin is very large. 

In this second row, at first I thought maybe the first two faces were the same, but the girl in the middle has eyes that are closer together.  The second two might be the same, though (or maybe the first and the third?  Ahhh!):

In this row, I had the same debate: the first two looked similar at first, but the second doll's eyes are much bigger.  I actually think the last two faces might be the same.

So, it took me a while to peer at all of these tiny faces and make up my mind.  I think it would be very helpful if the website had nice clear pictures of all of the available head options.  Amidst the confusion, the face that kept standing out to me was this one:

Leave nothing to chance.
I added some clarifying text and stuck this picture into one of the photograph slots on the order form. I also grabbed a picture of an adorable anonymous green-eyed redhead with perfect freckles from the internet.  I'd link you to the picture, but I can't find it again.  

The last assignment was to draw out the exact freckle pattern that I wanted on my doll.  This wasn't just a simple "select from the following..." type of thing, I had to place each and every freckle, shading and changing colors and trying to be very artistic.  I used the photograph on my order form as a guide to map out a very ambitious (but hopefully realistic) freckle pattern:

Go big or go home.

Then, I clicked "save" and have been waiting for the last four weeks to see what would happen.  

I figure Annie will either look like she has a strange tropical disease...or she'll be an adorable, happy, realistic redhead with bright hair and amazing freckles.  

We will all find out soon. :) *Update: you can see my review of Annie here!


  1. That's some detailed customizing! I can't wait to see how she turns out.

  2. Oh dear! The suspense! I can't wait!

  3. why all the red hair?

    1. It was not red, but instead it was caramel brown/brunette

  4. I can't wait for your review! Depending on how yours comes out, I may get one based on a childhood photo of me. My concern is some of the heads look big on the website. Also, I want to see if they can do clothing and shoe swaps with American Girl dolls. They look similarly proportioned to American Girl dolls.

  5. I'm looking forward to the review. I'm so curious about ordering a customized doll but I'd like to see what one looks like all around first.

    1. I just wanted to let you know that I just checked on their website and the My BFF dolls are now 18" and cost $89. I also saw that you can order custom 18" boy dolls and that kind of intrigued me.

  6. I'm also excited to see how "Annie" turns out. I've heard mixed reviews from these dolls. I've always thought it would be fun to get one of the larger dolls, because at 23" they make perfect "parent" dolls for the American Girl dolls and other 18 inchers. Some of the My Twinns I've seen in person have not been very attractive, though. :}

    I can understand My Twinn's decision to change to 18" dolls. If their dolls are compatible with AG and other brands, customers who already have 18" dolls may be more likely to purchase them.

  7. I can't wait to see your new (and hopefully improved) Annie! I love freckles, so I'm looking forward to how all that freckling will translate on the actual doll.

    I'm curious about how the 18" dolls will be different from the 23" dolls. Specifically, the issue of those way-too-long arms...seeing your other MyTwinn dolls, I could just not see past those ridiculous gorilla arms. In the picture of the 18" inch doll, it at least looks as if they have better proportions than their larger cousins. And I wonder if they'll have gotten rid of those strange bendy shoulders? Fingers crossed!

    Very excited to see this freckled cutie!

  8. Annie should be easy to dress with all the 18" doll clothes choices available I think! It's so funny the company lets the customer design their own freckle pattern by hand, that's so original! Your freckles look very realistic, I'm curious to see the actual doll :-)

    1. Oops, forgot an s in customers :-). And I'm a few trains to late with this, but I looked at pictures of the Iplehouse Luo you mentioned a few posts before, he's just gorgeous!

  9. The title of this post reminds me of that old play "Waiting for Godot". Wonder how common the name Godot is, I've seen it more than once. I hope the new Annie is better than the old one.

  10. I can't wait to see what she looks like! She kind of looks like me, but my hair's not that red and my eyes are a little bluer. But I still can't wait to see her!

  11. Wow! That's a lot of work. I'm certain it will be worth it. I'm looking forward to her arrival and you unveiling and review. :)

  12. Can't wait to see the review of her when she comes home! <3
    I would like to see more MH reviews too if possible :)
    Especially of Catty Noir, She isn't too pretty in box but out of the box she is wonderful.

  13. I have to say, I approve of your choice of name! ;)

    I'll also be waiting with baited breath for your review of the 18" MyTwinn. I'm most interested in seeing if the body is the same as the 23" ones. I wanted, badly, one of the 18" Positively Perfect dolls, but Neth found some pictures online and they too have the bodies like the MyTwinn dolls do, with the forearms that are cloth rather than plastic all the way up. I may still bite and get one because they are gorgeous, and see about getting some spare parts to do her up how I want, but we'll see.

    1. Their bodies look the same as American Girls, but they don't seem to have the same flexibility of AGs based on one customer's review. We'll have to see if that's the same across the board. I'm really curious to see Emily's new doll, too.

    2. I was also disappointed in the bodies of the Positively Perfect dolls. The curious may see the bodies on this blog post from Mrs. Garrett of Black Doll Collecting: http://blackdollcollecting.blogspot.com/2013/02/positively-precious-twins.html

      I think their bodies are great for little girls, though! They look so sweet and huggable!

  14. That's really neat that you could design your own freckle pattern like that--I wonder if they have some kind of special screening/tampo mask set up to reproduce it exactly in 3-dimensions on the doll's face of if they just do it by hand?

    If 3D printers ever come down significantly in cost and become a common household thing, I can imagine a future time where people can design their own custom toys in a similar fashion and then have said machine render it out overnight!

  15. OH WOW!! I was HOPING you'd do this! Annie looks fantastic! The faces are adorable and they are compatible with all the AG clothes and accessories. The freckle pattern is outstanding. I don't think I would have had the patience to do it that realistically. I cannot wait to see how she looks. The BFF came in just like mine. I ordered red hair and it was, well, kind of gray/brown. I sent her back too, but no one offered to re-wig her because I never mentioned that the intensity of the hair was all wrong. Annie #1 was cute, but looked nothing like her online avatar. I think these are better than AG right now because of the individual faces. I have 15 of the 23" dolls - some are the very rare molds, I have trouble choosing the face shapes and I have them memorized - but that first little girl with the larger chin - that's "Denika" - better known to us as Calliope!! Hah! You chose the same mold! Your BFF was a Kissy Kate. And you selected a "Danielle" face mold for your 18" Annie 2.0 The one with the big eyes is Catherine - the mold My Twinn made for me last fall. The hair color is a little too light, but they pretty much nailed it. PLEASE get this review up quickly. I may be ordering one of these adorable Twinns for myself ;-)

  16. Can't wait to see your Annie. I thought it was pretty neat to see a doll with the same gray mix that I have right now. A treat as always, Tina

  17. I can't wait to see Annie! I love these 18'' versions; I like the proportions much more than the originals.

    Speaking of redheads, I have a suggestion doll for you! have you seen the Disney Princess 34cm dolls my Zapf creation?


    I thought you would like to investigate these as I know you love Disney Princesses- and redheads!

    1. Outstanding tip, Connor! Thank you! :D

    2. Wow I had never seen the Zapf dolls before but she is beautiful! Ariel is my favorite princess.

  18. The doll you returned has very amazing realistic eyes! And the color is Brilliant! I can't wait to see Annie!

  19. There is a Twinn sneaking around the Doll Diaries site - she is most incredible and yummy.

    Is she yours?? (tee hee) I don't think so, because it's a Catherine mold, she's not Danielle, and her hair is dark brown and appears braided. Get over there and drool ;-) (PS no freckles awwwww, I love freckles, and it's the pinstripe denim dress). I have a 23" TLC Twinn that needs new eyes AND a new body. So why keep her, eh? She has flaming red hair oh so many thousand freckles and green eyes when I am done with her.

  20. Emily, a doll I recommend are the sparkleville 20 inch play dolls at Walmart. They look cheap but I want to see how they compare to your 18 inch dolls and karito kids and maru and friends dolls. I do not have one but I recommend them to you because you are an excellent doll reviewer and I want to see what you think of them.