Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Shopping at Target and Toys R Us

With Hanukkah almost over and the Christmas season kicking into full swing, this is a special, hectic time of year.  I love seeing our Main Street come to life with lights, and hearing my kids sing carols out in the cold.  Of course another integral part of this season is shopping, and I am thinking hard about donations and gifts--especially presents for the amazing children in my life.

I hope that the content of this blog is helpful to those of you who are looking for a special doll for someone you love, but many of the dolls I review are hard to find, discontinued, or expensive.  I thought that in honor of this bustling shopping season, I would head out to a few local stores and see what is available for those of us who are just getting started with our gift-hunting now.  I'll show you what I found and give you my top ten list of what I would buy.  I also really hope that you will chime in with what you've found in your part of the world and what you think the best dolls and toys of the season are.  There is also a poll on the right side of the page where you can vote for the doll that you'd most like to see reviewed in more depth.

Today, I am going to focus on Target because it is one of my favorite places to shop and it tends to be well-stocked.  I will also add some comparisons to Toys R Us, my other most frequented big box toy store.  Next week I will visit a smaller, privately-owned toy store.  I'll get things started by showing you one doll I actually did buy: Monster High's new Jane Boolittle, who has the most awesome pet accessory ever:

Monster High "Jane Boolittle" and her pet sloth (Toys R Us, $21.99)
Did you know that sloths move so slowly that algae grows in their fur?  And also that they can take over a week to digest their food?  Imagine only needing to use the bathroom once a week!  Whoa.  Anyway--sloths are fascinating and endearing creatures.  While I'm on the subject, I have to throw in an endorsement for one of my favorite children's picture books, Score One for the Sloths.  That would make a fun gift, maybe along with the fantastic Hansa stuffed sloth.

Ok, sorry about that--I get a little out of control at this time of year.  Back to dolls!

In my opinion, one of the best doll picks of the year is a Hearts 4 Hearts girl.  Despite some cultural shortcomings (expertly discussed by Nethilia in this guest review), these are high-quality, attractive dolls that are attempting to offer a wide diversity of ethnicities and backgrounds.  The dolls are getting frustratingly difficult to find online, but Target will usually have a small selection for normal retail ($24.99).  I highly recommend these little treasures at that price.  My Target had one Lauryce (who got picked up as I was shopping) and about five Sholas.  Shola is gorgeous and would make a fabulous gift:

Hearts 4 Hearts "Shola."
Here's my beautiful Lauryce as a reminder of how compelling the eyes on these dolls can be (Shola has the same eyes as Lauryce):

Hearts 4 Hearts "Lauryce."
If the Hearts 4 Hearts dolls are sold out in stores (and I predict that this will happen soon), rather than spending $40-$80 for these dolls online, it might be worth looking at the variety of Our Generation dolls available at Target.  Most Our Generation items are on sale at right now (with free shipping), so I actually recommend looking there first.  The prices mentioned here are all in-store.

There were very few standard $20 Our Generation dolls left on the shelves when I visited Target.  Most of the options were deluxe dolls with some type of extra accessory or special feature.  One example is this cute redhead, Peyton "From Hair to There," who has the added feature of very long hair.  She comes with extra hair extensions and styling accessories:

Our Generation "From Hair to There" Peyton.
I like the rooting and the hair quality on these dolls (you can read my review of Charlotte here and see Jenny from the kitchen set here) so this might be a fun choice--especially for an older child who likes hairstyling activities.  This extra-long hair is not an option that most 18" doll lines offer.

I also like the appearance of the Shannon "Magic Under the Stars" doll.  She has a camping theme and comes with an extra outfit, a few simple accessories, and a book.  She costs $31.99:

Our Generation "Magic Under the Stars" Shannon.

I don't care for the toothy face on this holiday-themed Mary Lyn, but her musical accessories are super-tempting.  She is $29.99:

Our Generation Mary Lyn, "The Note in the Piano."
She comes with an extra outfit, a book, a violin and a harmonica.  I would love to know if the harmonica really works!  I bet it does.

I would have to re-paint this ridiculous rodent-like grin, though.  

I think just painting over the teeth would make a huge difference.
Her dress is pretty, but the red skirt has a stiff, synthetic feel:

Another interesting option at my Target was this doll who comes with a little baby.  She's $31.99.   She is probably my least favorite of the bunch. 

"The Jukebox Babysitters" Ashley-Rose.
The baby is kind-of cute, but he has an enormous head and very chunky, straight limbs.  He almost looks like a baby/toddler hybrid...with a pinch of goblin thrown in.  His clothes are sweet, though:

I prefer the look and scale of the little 9" Circo babies.  I think they would go nicely with any 18" play doll and the price is fantastic.  They are sold separately for under $5 and cost $8.99 with a large accessory (like the baby carrier, below).  The dolls have soft bodies with vinyl limbs and come in adorable, removable outfits.  Extra outfits are sold separately.

Even if the Our Generation dolls are not to your taste, some of the accessories are fantastic.  Here are my favorites:

The articulated Andalusian circus horse ($34.99):

Our Generation articulated Andalusian horse.

There are also non-articulated horses at Target, but they are the same price as the posable ones.  This bay horse has a nice Western tack set that might make up for his lack of joints:

Unarticulated Our Generation thoroughbred horse.
I have an Our Generation articulated morgan horse ready for review, which I will try to get done before Christmas, but even without de-boxing him, I can already say that I'll probably prefer the less-expensive, fur-covered Paradise horses that are for sale through the My Life doll line at Walmart (around $27).  I especially love the new unicorn, which I posted over on facebook:

My Life unicorn from Walmart.
Another winner among the Our Generation accessories is the pink metal bicycle.  At $49.99, this item is pricey, but it seems very well-made.  It's unusual to have a metal accessory for an 18" doll.  If a lucky child was getting a full-sized bicycle for Christmas, this would be an amazing accompaniment.

I reviewed Jenny and her kitchen set a while ago, and while that exact kitchen set seems to be sold out, the red kitchen that comes with fewer accessories and no doll is still available for $61.99:

I love the colors in this set, and it comes with a bunch of neat goodies, but it's hard to get too enthusiastic when I bought this plus Jenny plus the cooking accessory set..all for the same $61.99 price.  
On the other hand, it's really fun and would look spectacular under the tree....

Our Generation has several $16.99 accessory packs and the availability of these is hugely erratic.  My store had about five different styles in stock and of those, this picnic set was my favorite:

I can picture all sorts of fun games with this set--both indoors and outdoors.  I also love the red polka dot dishes.  They coordinate with the red kitchen set.

My second favorite item was this camping set called "What a Trek,"mostly because of the rugged-looking backpack:

If the compass, flashlight, or camera (?) accessories at the bottom of the box actually work, this set would move to the top of my list.

The Our Generation clothing sets come in $16-$17 varieties and $13-$14 varieties.  Of the more expensive outfits, I liked this orange dress best at first...

"Pulling My Heartstrings."
But I don't think that neckline would look very good with the Our Generation neck seam and cloth torso. 

In the end, this is my favorite $16 outfit:

"Turn on the Brrrights!"
Of the less expensive outfits, these moose pajamas were my runaway favorite.  How adorable are these??

I love the title of this set, too: "Goodnight Moose."

In the lowest price bracket, there are small boxed accessories and shoe packs.  These are $6.99 and would make wonderful stocking-stuffers.

The accessories.
I like the Plaid to Meet You set (reviewed here) and the sunglasses assortment.

The shoes.
There are lots of fun shoes to choose from, including these bright blue high-tops:

And these cheery orange running shoes:

In the category of 18" play dolls, Toys R Us has the Journey Girls ($32.99) as an alternative to the Our Generation dolls.  After my experience with Dana, I would recommend the curly-haired Chavonne (to reduce the appearance of the thinly-rooted hair) and would also suggest steering away from dolls with dark-colored clothing--especially dark-colored hats.

This dark dress might be a problem, but Chavonne is a beautiful doll.
My Toys R Us had very few Journey Girls outfits in stock.  The outfits I have purchased in the past are very nice, but remember that the skirts, shorts and pants can be a little tight on American Girl and 18" My Twinn dolls.  The Our Generation clothes are a slightly better fit overall.

Toys R Us also carries a line of FAO Schwarz 18" play dolls ($59.99).  I have seen the African American girl, Nina, in person and she is gorgeous.  If they ever get Nina back in stock, I will probably buy her for a review.  Avery is nice, too, but she's not my favorite:

For the animal lover on your shopping list, the Li'l Woodzeez might be a great option.  Li'l Woodzeez are available at Target, but not at Toys R Us.  

I have written a comparison review of the Li'l Woodzeez and the more expensive Calico Critters, which you can look at for more detail, but in general I find that the Li'l Woodzeez accessories are nice and are very reasonably priced, while the Calico Critter sets are discouragingly expensive.  In contrast, I adore the Calico Critter figures and find that the Li'l Woodzeez animals fall a little short in comparison.  

The Li'l Woodzeez "Tickle Your Taste Buds Bakery" playset (reviewed here) is one of my favorite toys.  It is a bargain for just under $20:

This cottage also looks like it would make a nice gift for $24.99:

The cottage set comes with two rabbit figures and a book, but it does not come with any furniture, so you'd have to find those sets separately.  

Includes just the cottage, the figures and the book.
The furniture sets are reasonably-priced at $12.59 and three of the four sets were available at my store:

This set is for the schoolhouse.
So, the cottage with all three of its furniture sets would cost just about $63.  It's certainly nice to have a house for the animals, but I think both the bakery and general store playsets offer a lot of fun for only $20 each.

The Li'l Woodzeez characters come in some single playset packs (on sale now for $2.99, which is hard to resist...):

Outstanding stocking stuffer!
And also in families of four for $11.99:

These little guys are very cute, don't get me wrong:

There's a neat owl family:

And a happy mouse family:

The price is definitely right on these Woodzeez, but the problem is that when I compare them to the Calico Critter families...the Critters win by a landslide.  The Calico Critters are twice as expensive, but I also think they're twice as special.  

Here is a sample of the heart-tugging diversity of Calico Critters I found at my Toys R Us:

Toys R Us Calico Critters display.
There's a grey tabby cat family ($22.99):

"Fisher Cat Family."
This set is called the "Fisher Cat Family," which I think is funny because fisher cats are crazy-nasty mustelid mammals (related to weasels and ferrets) that live here in Maine.  Fisher cats make eerie, mournful noises that can keep you up at night, and they will eat your pet cat (or your face) without a second thought.  I don't think these fluffy Calico Critters are actually supposed to be that kind of fisher cat.  Just a hunch.

There are also border collies:

"Border Collie Family."

"Wilder Panda Family."

"Chihuahua Dog Family."

And even cows!  

Holy cow!

For just under $10, you can get twin babies for many of the families.  These start to get ridiculously cute.  Some of them even have names, which adds to their appeal in my eyes:

Carly and Cameron.
No-name twins.  Why don't the pandas get names?
Lola and Pedro.
And for just a few more dollars, there are triplet babies--including these meerkat triplets:

Peter, Penelope and Patricia.
Little piglets:

Marcus, Rosie and Lisa.

And these three kittens, who almost left the store with me:

Midnight, Peppermint and Angelica.

I love how no two of them are alike:

There's also a guinea pig with her two pups in a double stroller:


And a calico cat with a pet horse!  That's bizarre, but cute:

I would have such a hard time deciding which of these little sets to get.  They are all amazingly cute and creative.

I also find the playsets appealing, but the price is daunting.   My favorite set is the Toy Shop, but at $40, I wonder if it's twice as much fun as the $20 Li'l Woodzeez bakery?

The pastel colors in this set are certainly less bright and glaring than the Woodzeez set, but what catches my eye on the box is not the shop, but all of the little Critters displayed with it.  Look at the kangaroo mom and her tiny joey!  I just want to giggle out loud when I look at these adorable animals.

Another doll that might appeal to an animal lover is the unique Pinkie Cooper.  You can read my full review of her here (and a review of the pet dogs here).  Pinkie is still holding at $14.99 for the basic dolls, $9.99 for the pets (too much), and $19.99 for the doll and pet sets:

The Target versions of the basic dolls have hats while the Toys R Us versions are hatless:

Target Ginger Jones doll (with hat).
The doll and pet sets are the best deal, and of the three options, London Pinkie is my personal favorite:

"Pinkie in London."
I do like the Beverly Hills Li'l Pinkie dog, though:

Another trendy animal toy is, of course, My Little Pony.  In this arena, Toys R Us has a much bigger selection than Target, although their prices are often higher.  I will show you some of what Target has and then contrast it to the selection at Toys R Us.

There are a variety of small My Little Pony figures that would be great for stocking stuffers.  The three-pony sets cost $8.99.  I am not a huge fan of this particular set because two of the ponies have glasses covering their eyes:

There are also bigger sets for $14.99 that have more versatile figures:

"Cake Family Babysitting Fun."
"Elements of Harmony Friends."

Toys R Us has these same sets for the same price.

The traditional figures would also make wonderful small gifts.  In addition to these, Target also has their own (slightly more expensive) translucent glittery versions of Pinkie Pie and Wysteria:

There are also moving ponies (a button on the back leg causes the head and tail to move).  These seem a little gimmicky for $8.99

The larger Pony sets with vehicles and other accessories don't appeal to me as much as the simple smaller figures.  However, I do find some of the Ponies in these sets very cute, and I wish many of them were sold separately.

For example, this set has a lot of extraneous bits and costs $24.99...

But all three figures are great:

I'd happily buy all three figures without their accessories!
 I love the little Spike riding with Rarity!

I was very tempted to put the Princess Celebration Bakery set on my top ten list because first of all, it is reasonably-priced at $14.99, and also the accessories seem cute and usable with lots of kitchen items that are specialized to be held by Pony legs:

"Princess Celebration Bakery."

I think that the tiny, bright pink Twirly Treats figure is super-cute:

Again, Toys R Us had all of these sets, too.

My favorite find in the My Little Pony section was this $12.99 Design-A-Pony Rainbow Dash figure:

There are three different ponies in this line, Rainbow Dash, Princess Luna and Fluttershy.  My Target did not have Fluttershy.

The ponies are fairly large and heavy (they're solid vinyl) and they look nice even without being decorated at all.  The set only comes with two permanent markers, but I suspect you could add additional colors by using Sharpie pens or another brand of permanent ink.

Here's the Princess Luna figure:

She's great, too, and has more shapes to color in than Rainbow Dash has, but her horn looks slightly strange poking out of her fluffy forelock:

Over at Toys R Us, they only had Princess Luna, and she was $2 more expensive:

These Design-A-Pony figures remind me of the Funko Ponies that can be found at Toys R Us.  These Funko characters have been hard to find, but there was a huge selection available this week:

Funko Ponies in stock at Toys R Us.
At $14.99, these heavy, solid vinyl figures have tempted me in the past, but I have always peered into the boxes to find paint smudges or messy seams that stopped me from spending my money.

Still kinda tempting.
I don't find the Funko Pop! ponies as appealing--they look like cats:

Here are a few more My Little Pony items that I saw at Toys R Us but not at Target.  

This set of minis is a Toys R Us exclusive and I love all of the figures.  I can see many fun, portable games unfolding with this large number of cute, versatile ponies ($22.99):

There is also this exclusive set of standard-sized ponies for $36.99:

The grey pegasus is sweet and I love Nightmare Moon, but I'd rather pick individual ponies for this price.

There were many more My Little Pony items that I only saw at Toys R Us, like this Royal Castle set:

And this exclusive set of larger glittery ponies:

And these huge plush ponies for $32.99:

Here's plush Rarity, next to some other Pony toys so that you can see how big she is:

Toys R Us had a HUGE supply of Equestria Girls.  You can read my review of Equestria Girl Rainbow Dash here.  Of the available dolls, my favorites (other than Rainbow Dash) were Celestia ($24.99) because of her rainbow hair and the nice Celestia Pony figure:

And the newer articulated Rarity ($17.99), because I love her color scheme and her sweet face:

I was turned off by this cheerleader set, though, partly because all of the dolls are the less articulated variety:

But also because it just made me think of the highly sought-after Monster High Fearleader pack:

Speaking of Monster High, let's go back to Target and see what Monster High dolls were available there.

The Monster High shelves were a little empty at Target, but they did have several of the Power Ghoul characters, including Toralei as Cat Tastrophe (reviewed here):

There were also plenty of Catty Noir dolls, and I think she looks fantastic:

Toys R Us did much better with Monster High selection.  They had a huge stock of dolls and a "buy one get one 50% off" sale.  This is where I found my Jane Boolittle:

Lots of people were in this section of Toys R Us, exclaiming happily when they found a rare doll at this excellent price.  Here are two more pictures of Jane--her purple vinyl doesn't photograph very well against the red backdrop of the box, but I will get some better pictures of her soon:

Her face paint reminds me of the Na'vi from the movie Avatar:

I spent a fair amount of time in the Lalaloopsy section of Target while I was there.  The larger dolls don't interest me that much anymore (you can read my feelings about Marina Anchors here) but I find the smaller dolls and the ponies quite delightful--especially the Sea Horses.  

The only large doll that I stopped to inspect was Goldie Luxe, the special holiday edition princess:

She's very fancy, and I like her peacock pet, but I can't see spending $50 on this toy.

In contrast, I love the miniature Lalaloopsy figures.  I even prefer the small Ponies to the My Little Pony mini sets that are available right now.

The mini dolls are fantastic, too, and I always stop to see what creative new themes are available.  Look at this shiny little tin girl, Tinny Ticker ($6.99):

There were also mini mermaids:

And these Halloween style dolls with plastic masks (on sale for $5.99):

I also like the affordable larger Lalaloopsy ponies, with their dessert-themed decorations ($4.99):

Here's Ropes, the licorice pony I purchased a while ago:

Toys R Us is charging a dollar more for their mini Lalas, but they have a totally different selection, so I guess if you're willing to spend an extra dollar, it might be worth browsing both stores for the perfect doll:

Mini Lalaloopsy dolls at Toys R Us.

Toys R Us also had this bizarre-looking plush baby Lalaloopsy doll that I didn't find tempting at all:

In the cloth doll category, I would be much more inclined to pick up a $15 Mooshka doll.  These were available at Target and Toys R Us, but Toys R Us is having a big sale:

I have heard that the singing Mooshka dolls can be glitchy, but the regular dolls are sweet and uncomplicated, and would be a nice gift for a very young child (recommended for ages 2 and up).  Ina is one of my favorites:

So, given what I just said about the larger Lalaloopsy dolls, my enthusiasm for this next doll is going to seem hypocritical.  I don't really like the large plastic feel of the Lalaloopsy dolls, but I found myself inexplicably drawn to another very large plastic (hard vinyl?) doll at Target.  

Look at these Hello Kitty monstrosities, looming over the nearby Kawaii Crush toys:

Colorful, charming monstrosities.
These vibrant kitties are about the same size as Lalaloopsy dolls (13") and cost about the same ($24.99), but I find them much more appealing for reasons I can't explain.  At least part of the reason is that it seems likely that these dolls will be able to stand on their own.

There were two varieties in stock, the Dance Kitty:

And the Princess Kitty (love her tulle skirt!):

There were also some smaller 6" plush Kitties for half the price that are very sweet:

If a stocking stuffer is all you need, there were even smaller plush kitties (including a mermaid!) that cost $10 for a pack of three.  At about three inches tall, these would also be cute as tree decorations:

If the plastic dolls aren't big enough for you, Toys R Us has an even larger 15" plush Hello Kitty, shown here with two of the Toys R Us 6" dolls:

That's a big kitty.
I am not typically drawn to the Barbie aisle of Target, but I did a thorough investigation the other day for the sake of this post.  One toy that stood out to me was this ocean-themed playset, "Ocean Treasure Explorer" Barbie:

The set is visually appealing and I love the subject matter, but in the end the doll is fairly unarticulated and I am not sure the set has enough interesting pieces to be worth $20:

It looks a little cheap.
I was also drawn to the new articulated Barbie figures, especially Midge.  Midge was not available by herself at either Target or Toys R Us, but the Barbie and Midge set was in stock at Target for $26.99:

This particular Midge has badly cut bangs, though:

Here's my single Midge for comparison (I found her at Walmart, but she's still readily available online):

The other character in this line that I find fascinating is Raquelle:

She's highly articulated, has a very unique character face, and seems like a steal at $13.49:

Toys R Us has these Barbie dolls on sale right now, buy one get one 50% off:

No Midge, though.
 A few other items caught my eye in the Barbie aisle at Target, like this retro Batman pair:

$34.95 each, though!  Yikes.
And this attractively dressed (but unarticulated) Barbie LOOK doll:

I also think that the Catching Fire Katniss Everdeen doll bears a nice resemblance to beautiful Jennifer Lawrence.  I find the new face mold even better than the old one, and this doll would be on my top ten list for fans of the book and movie, even though she has a simple outfit and the low-articulation Barbie body.

Katniss is on sale at Toys R Us for $22.49.

Here's a funny Barbie toy that stopped me in my tracks:

It's called the Fashion Vending Machine and it is on sale for $20.69 at Target.  It costs $7 more at Toys R Us.  It's a little hard to see what it is through the packaging, but there was a display of this exact item at Target:

It's exactly what it sounds like: a machine that vends fashion accessories.  I love vending machines and so it was hard for me to walk past this item, but the fashion pieces look fairly cheap (purses that don't open, a necklace attached to a bust, etc.).  Also, there's no surprise about what item will come out of the machine, so I was able to resist.

Over at Toys R Us, they have a lot of the same Barbie dolls, with the addition of some SeaWorld themed playsets that mirror the Ocean Treasure Explorer set:

Again, these sets are bright and enticing, but on closer inspection, they don't seem to offer a lot of play value for the price.

This set is really just two dolls, a plastic ring and some penguins.
I have been eyeing the Barbie horse sets on and off (especially Chelsea's horse), but I just can't get excited about this remote-controlled horse (even though it is intriguingly "trainable" and can move on its own...).


But it's so strangely shaped!  It looks pregnant or like it's been out to pasture for too long:

For Disney fans, I recommend purchasing Disney-themed dolls at the Disney Store.  There are a ton of Disney dolls at Target, but I find most of them inferior to the Disney Store dolls.

At Target, the new Princess & Me Frozen dolls were proudly displayed, but I find them very off-putting, especially for $50:

She has crazy eyes.

Despite her red hair, Anna is my least favorite of these two:

She reminds me of a ventriloquist's dummy.

The older Princess & Me dolls are on sale for $29.99 (including Rapunzel, who I reviewed here) and this is actually a fair price for these dolls if the faces appeal to you.

I also noticed this new 12" Frozen Anna doll that seems to be a step-up from her predecessor (reviewed here) in that she has a full cloth gown (complete with a color changing feature).  She is called "Color Magic Anna."  I could not find her price but I think she's a whopping $29.99:

I like this doll's face and hair, but the price seems too high.

There's a pretty big Sofia the First section at Target, and these dolls have caught my attention on and off even though I have never seen the movie or watched the TV show.  There are two different styles of small doll, one with molded hair and rubbery clothes ($4.99) and another with rooted hair and fabric clothes ($14.99):

I took some photographs of an earlier version of the $14.99 Sofia, but never got around to writing a review.  Here are a few pictures for those who are curious about her jointed body:

These mini dolls are both cute, but the version of Sofia that I like the best is this new 10" doll, "Wedding Day Sofia:"

"Wedding Day Sofia."
She appears to have the same face mold as the older 10" talking Sofia (below), but without the electronic features and animal friends.  I also assume that the Wedding Day doll has legs--which apparently the talking doll does not have.  I'd much rather pay $25 for a cute doll with legs than almost $40 for a talking, legless cute doll.

I do like Talking Sofia's animal friends, though.
There are just a few more things at Target that stood out to me--mostly dolls I have talked about on the blog before.  For instance, I still love the Art Show series La Dee Da dolls ($14.99):

And of course I am a fan of the graceful Ashlynn Ella and her dashing friend Hunter (this set did not have hair bits and goo all over Hunter's face...):

Toys R Us had all of the Ever After High dolls except the Ashlynn set, including the Legacy Day trio with the beautiful new Briar Beauty face shape: 

I don't care much for these Bratz Action Heroez dolls (at both Target and Toys R Us)--they seem like a cross between the Power Ghouls and Kawaii Crush:

But I do like the Bratzillaz "Witchy Princesses."  They look just like Bratzillaz except they have bird cages with glow-in-the-dark birds on their heads.  What's not to love??  I have one of these stored away for a review.  They are $16.99 at Target and $19.99 at Toys R Us:

So, those are all of the dolls that caught my eye at Target.  There were a few things at Toys R Us that were not at Target and I'll quickly show you those.  

These first little dolls actually might have been at Target, but I didn't notice them.  They are the Barbie Mariposa Fairies (about 6 inches tall):

Toys R Us had these featured in a special display, so they caught my eye.  I think they're really sweet, and you get a small doll and a flying horse for $12.99:

They're really glittery, which might be a pain, but they have cute faces and articulated knees:

None of the Winx dolls tempted me this time around.  The faces seem weird--especially when they're blown up into these huge styling heads:

Ahhh!!! Stop staring at me!!
Our friends the Fairy Tale High girls (reviewed here) were on the shelves for $17.99:

The cutest dolls in stock were Tinker Bell:

And Alice:

A doll line that I've already reviewed (and dismissed) actually stood out to me as being fascinating during this visit.  The Mystixx dolls have zombie characters now (no surprise there...), but the thing is that the zombies are so creepy and weird that they're actually fun.  

This one (called Siva) is my favorite:

Her brown hair looks muddy and gross and her eyes look dead.  She's frightening!

I also like the redheaded doll, Talin.  You can see her normal face peeking out through a small hole in the back of her box:

The frustrating thing about these new dolls is that their promotional pictures make them look like they have articulated arms--which they most definitely do not.

False advertising.

Toys R Us also has a huge display of Zelfs, which I didn't see at Target at all.  The Zelfs come in four sizes.  

Extra large ($19.99): 

This cool white Zelf has inset eyes and can be decorated.
Large ($12.99):

Medium ($5.99):

Here are the large (orange) and medium (yellow) together so you can see the size difference:

And small ($2.99 each, not sure about the price of this big set):

I like these toys in reverse order of size.  I love the tiny ones, I like the medium ones, and I am not crazy about the large ones.  The extra-large white customizable Zelf is actually great, so he's the exception to this rule.

The individually-wrapped mini Zelfs would make fantastic stocking stuffers.  I have a few of these at home.  They come packaged in sealed plastic planters and contain a random, mystery figure:

Here's one that I have opened.  I love surprises, and so this kind of toy is perfect for me.  Which Zelf do you think I got?

Purple hair...

I can see little eyes...
Ta-da!  It's a glittery purple Zelf with purple hair!  Cute!

These are essentially just troll dolls, but I like their cute, smiling elfin faces:

They fit perfectly on the top of pencils:

And can be stored in their planters with their hair sticking out:

These mini Zelfs are getting hard to find in my Toys R Us store (there were only three left).  I would grab a few while you can--they're cute and are a perfect little extra for the holidays.

Here are just a few last random things at Toys R Us that caught my eye:

Liv Hayden's house (still on sale for $24.99):

And the Beatrix Girls, a new line of large-headed 12" dolls: 

Their faces look angry or mean to me, which is a bit of a turn-off:

Sadly, Toys R Us did not have any of the new Cutie Pops dolls in stock.

So, that's my shopping trip.  Now, for the hard part!  If I could have walked out of each store with ten toy gifts, what would they have been?  First, I will run through my Target top ten, then my Toys R Us top ten, and then I will give a grand overall top ten list.  I should mention that I really like all of the dolls listed below, and ranking them without a specific child in mind was hard.  In various age categories I would make slightly different choices.

If I am listing an item that is available in both stores, I'll put the reason why I picked one store over the other in parentheses.  The lists are in random order.

Target Top Ten:
2. My Little Pony Design-a-Pony Rainbow Dash (better selection at Target).
4. Our Generation Peyton "From Hair to There" hairstyling doll.
5. Pinkie Cooper London doll and dog set (Target basic dolls have hats).
6. Ever After High Ashlynn and Hunter set (only in stock at Target).
7. Large plastic Hello Kitty Princess doll.
9. Sofia the First 10" Wedding Day doll.
10. Our Generation outfit--the moose pajamas are at the top of my list.

Toys R Us Top Ten:
1. Monster High Jane Boolittle (sale and better selection at Toys R Us).
2. FAO 18" doll--especially if they'd had Nina.
3. Zelfs--the minis or the largest $20 customizable Zelf are my favorites.
4. Lalaloopsy mini doll (better selection at Toys R Us).
5. Calico Critters animal family set.  I'd pick the cows!
6. Mattel Catching Fire Katniss doll (on sale at Toys R Us).
7. Non-singing 13" Mooshka doll.  Ina is my favorite.
9. Barbie Raquelle or Midge (on sale at Toys R Us).
10. ...And I have to grudgingly admit that I wanted to buy one of those darn Mystixx zombies! 

Overall Top Ten!  
1. Monster High Jane Boolittle ($21.99, Toys R Us).  Cool doll with a sloth pet--impossible to resist!  I left the store with her.

2. Calico Critters cow family ($22.99, Toys R Us).  Actually, any of these adorable families would make an excellent gift.  The cows just seem the most unique.  It's not every day that I see a cow doll!

3. Liv Hayden's House ($24.99, Toys R Us).  One of my favorite doll lines.  At this price, getting a discontinued doll and a big house playset is amazing.

4. Hearts 4 Hearts Shola ($24.99, Target).  I'd grab any Hearts 4 Hearts doll I found on the shelves at normal retail.  One of my favorite dolls of the year.

5. Li'l Woodzeez Tickle Your Taste Buds Bakery ($19.29, Target).  An adorable, affordable playset with tons of little pieces.  Perfect with the Calico Critters family!

6. Ever After High Ashlynn Ella and Hunter Hunstman ($32.99, Target).  On sale at Target, this set offers two great dolls at a bargain price.

7. Barbie Raquelle or Midge ($13.49, Toys R Us).  Highly articulated dolls with great faces for a low, low price.

8. Our Generation red kitchen ($61.99, Target).  Even though there was a better kitchen deal earlier in the year, this impressive red kitchen will offer a lot of fun for any 18" (or smaller) doll.  It would look fantastic under the tree!

9. Large plastic Hello Kitty doll ($24.99, Target).  For inexplicable reasons, this large, hard-bodied doll was very appealing to me.  She is colorful and whimsical and looks great for a younger child or a Hello Kitty collector.  Big and impressive for that extra-special gift.

10. Design-A-Pony Rainbow Dash ($12.99, Target).  For the price, this Pony stood out to me as being a nice, solid figure and also a fun (one time) art project for creative kids.  Maybe not something My Little Pony collectors would buy for themselves...but looks fun to own.

*Pinkie Cooper was in hot contention for many of the spots above.  She doesn't seem to be as universally appealing as the other dolls on my list, but she's still a strong personal favorite.

Now, I invite you to make your own lists in the comments section--better yet, send me some snapshots from your holiday shopping experience!  Just email your pictures (with the general region where you live and the name you'd like to use for photo credit) to toyboxphilosopher@gmail dot com.  If I get enough pictures, I will make a full post sharing the goodies you have found.  I'd love to see what's out there!

And last...if you'd like to see any of the dolls listed here in more detail, please vote at the top of the page for which review you want to see the most and I will do my best to get that done quickly.  Happy shopping, everyone!


  1. Hi!

    I love Calico Critters - in England, where I live, they're called Sylvanian Families. Here, we also have these cute dolls called Designafriend dolls from Argos - they look a bit like Journey Girls dolls I think. Their outfits are really cute, but because they are slim bodied and sparsely stuffed, they don't stand up on their own, and AG dolls can't share their clothes. Just type Argos into Google, then Designafriend into the search box.
    Thanks for this cool run down on toys!

    1. Hi Charlotte! I have seen those Designafriend dolls--they're very cute! I actually tried to order one (Grace, I think), but they're tricky to get in this country. I can't remember if I've tried yet, though. That's my new favorite way to get cool toys from overseas. Thank you for the reminder!

      Sylvanian Families are great, and you have some even better sets in the UK than we have here, I Bobby Roberts and his police box. I love that! :D

  2. Hi!I I love Carolinna Past! Winx Club dolls are ugly,the antique winx dolls are very cool :(

    1. Hi Tony, isn't Carolina neat? I can't wait to see what her bird cage hat looks like when it glows! :D I should look into the older Winx dolls more thoroughly. I bought one a while ago, but she was in really bad shape, so I didn't get a good sense for how nice they can be. Those new styling heads are frightening, though. I almost yelped out loud when I saw them!

  3. Oh man, Emily... someone is going to see that Cat-tastrophe doll in this review and lose it. I understand that she's really hard to find! I'm rather annoyed that the newer Mystixx dolls only seem to have the one outfit, instead of two like the older vampire set had. But they're still the same price!

    I've actually got one of the Beatrix Girls, the purple haired one; and while her face is a little severe, she's kinda cute once you get past that. They do seem to have rooting that's a little thin, though. Mine did, at least. I can tell you more about her, if you like.

    1. I would love to hear more about the Beatrix girls! My husband said they look like Pinkie Cooper to him, but I don't see that resemblance at all. I am wondering what the redhead would look like without those fierce eyebrows. Maybe pretty cute! I am curious about their articulation, of course. ;)

      Target had about eight Cat Tastrophes, and very few other dolls! I did think it was odd because she's been pretty hard to find around here for the past month. The distribution of Monster High is strange. My other Target had a completely different selection.

      Good point about the Mystixx dolls--I forgot that the older ones had an extra outfit. It's especially irritating because the outfits alone cost $12! Grumble.

    2. I can sort of see the Pinkie Cooper comparison in that they have such proportionately huge heads to a small, dainty body. I haven't tried to change the eyebrows on mine, ha ha. They've got decent articulation, even if the elbow joints barely bend. I was surprised to see that they had a twist waist! Over all, I felt like the makers had tried to make a very ambitious doll, but had been hindered by costs. I have a mini-analysis of Brayden (the purple haired doll), here:

      I'm not sure what is going on with Monster High's distribution. I know that a lot of people are finding the Frights, Camera, Action line, as well as the New Scaremester and Art Class dolls in stores, yet where I am we haven't seen anything newer than 13 Wishes in months!

  4. I loved this post. There is nothing I like more than looking down toy aisles for new dolls and it is really interesting to see what is in stock where you live versus where I am in the UK.

    I can't wait for the Princess Celebration Bakery to arrive in the UK. I also liked seeing JaneI the Monster High Jane doll, I am not sure she is one of my favourites but I really like her pet sloth.

    1. Thank you, Sofa Frog! I love looking at the toys aisles and am so happy to hear that I'm not alone! I could spend hours in a toy store. :) It would be so interesting to hear or see what you have in stock in the UK to get a sense for how different (or similar) the shopping experiences might be.

      That bakery set is really cute. I almost put that on my top ten list since I have a fondness for any kind of kitchen set. I hope it gets to your area soon!

  5. There are some Frozen baby dolls I saw at my local Walmart awhile back - absolutely adorable! The bigger dolls have such severe eyes though, I agree that they look creepy!

    1. Ooh, I will have to go check Walmart! Thank you for the tip! :D The Frozen baby dolls at Target looked cute, but they were in open-faced packaging and when I felt the hair, it was pretty coarse.

      "Severe" is a great way of describing the eyes on the larger dolls. They're a little too intense for me!

  6. Emily, this is going to be a fun post to come back to and I can't wait to see all of the photos. You absolutely put a lot of work into this and I just want to say I appreciate it and enjoy it, you never disappoint !! I have finished most of my shopping so no photos taken BUT I do want to send you pictures of my great grandmother and my mom holding their dollies as children. Hope that is ok.
    A treat as always, Tina

    1. Thank you, Tina--I would love to see that photo! How wonderful that you have something like that! I really wish I had some pictures of my grandmother with her doll collection.

  7. Wow, your stores are getting Jane already? I'll have to look around here, though we seem to get everything slower than average. I want her so bad! Though I did get Clawdia recently and actually did a squealing dance in the aisle that made a kid look at me. I swear, Mattel put my personality in a 19 year old werewolf. (She chews on things and doesn't like people touching her writing stuff. So very me.) I love the entire Wolf Family.

    I really, really don't like the Frozen dolls. They look so askew, like they'll take my soul. I got the Tiana one years ago as a birthday present (I have a sizable Tiana collection) and she doesn't look so off, at least to me.

    I saw the Beatrix dolls in the store, and my husband said they were odd looking and I agreed. And I do have the design a ponies, but I'm going to paint them all to be more like figurines which means trying to heat-remove the hair first and it's a task and a half. I broke a nail to the quick with Fluttershy.

    One thing did make me jump a bit, which is the nickname you used that has come up for the Grey Pegasus. The fan-name for her is actually actually a slur, as if calling her "retarded". I generally just call her Bubblecup after one of the G3 ones, but there's also what AJ calls her, the Grey Lady. Or just call her the Nameless One. Just...not that name, cause it's so mean and hurtful and was based on the fact that a one-second glitch in animation with her eyes askew made the jerky part of the family categorize her as mentally slow.

    1. And by family I mean fandom. Autotyping.

    2. I am so glad you found Clawdia! Now I am even more excited to see her. :) There was a young couple at Toys R Us diligently searching for Clawdia for their daughter. It was very sweet.

      So, with the Design-A-Pony figures, you mean you can remove the big chunky vinyl mane? And the body is complete underneath? So, then do you replace it with rooted hair? That DOES sound like a job and a half! Wow. I'd love to see the finished product.

      There are also small blank ponies with regular (white) manes and tales at the Hasbro store for around $5.00. I assume you've seen those, but if not, they might be perfect for you! Here's a link:

      I did wonder about that name. It has always seemed unattractive and out of place to me, but I didn't realize it was such an offensive slur. It's written all over the packaging! My sincere apologies. I did some reading after seeing your comment and saw a picture of that moment of skewed animation. It's an interesting piece of Pony history and I am so glad you drew my attention to it! I really don't want to pin an offensive name on such a cute pegasus or type something derogatory on the blog. I like the name Bubblecup! That's much better.

      Many thanks for telling me about this, Nethilia!

    3. You can remove it, but there's no way to rehair them. They just have dents/bumps for the hair to stay in. I'm just going to paint the hair chunks myself, and think it might be easier to do with the body parts removed.

      I have seen the blank white ones! Somewhere around my house are three of those floating around in my house. At least one I'm going to take advantage of the fact that vinyl stains easily and blow those colored bubbles at it, and see what I get. Art!

      Bubblecup is such a sweet name for her! I like it so much, and the idea that her special talent involves bubbles. Also, thank you for understanding!

  8. I love it how Americans complain that some dolls are "too expensive" at 20$ when we in Europe are extremely lucky to find the same ones for 30 EURO! For the prices you quoted, I would buy most of these without second thoughts. Well, except the animals and the Zelfs - not my cup of tea.

    1. The same is true for gas prices. We complain about anything approaching $4 per gallon, but prices are much, MUCH higher in Europe.

      With the blog, I have to evaluate prices in a relative way, otherwise there'd be no way to differentiate the value of individual dolls. For instance, even if $20 is low in the grand scheme of things, if another doll is offering much more for that same price, then $20 is "too expensive" for the inferior doll.

      I can see how it must be incredibly irritating, though, to have me criticize a price that you would love pay. Sorry about that!

  9. Wow Emily! This post was great! I loved reading this and seeing what target and toys r us had in stock compared to each other. I seen a lot of toys that I would love to have for myself haha. I think you did really well on this list for holiday shoppers looking for that right gift to give someone ..I cant believe that you found a Jane boolittle doll! I haven't seen her anywhere, did you also see the frights camera action monster high dolls too?

    1. Thank you so much, Amber! I did see Frights Camera, Action Draculaura, but not Clawdia or Cleo (the two I am most anxious to see!). I was pretty excited to find Jane and her sloth--I wasn't even expecting her to be on the shelves yet!

  10. Did you notice that the face mold on the P&M Anna doll has a different face mold than the on in the promotional box pic?

    1. Great catch, Eileen! You're right! I didn't notice that. It looks like maybe the box picture is the more standard Princess & Me face? Maybe they should have stuck with that... ;)

  11. I'm sorry I don't have more to add to this - but I have to say - Tim Gunn does the voice for the butler in Sofia the First and I think it's the whole reason I really love it when my toddler watches it.... hahaha :)

    1. Oh he does? That's great! I think Tim Gunn is awesome and he has a wonderful voice! Maybe I should watch...

  12. Aww, I think that those lil Woodzeez were adorable! I cannot find them here, there is only Sylvanian and (rarely) Forest families, which make Woodzeez unique. That set was awesome, but creatures are still cute. Wish I could get one pair :)

    1. The Woodzeez are cute--and very reasonably priced. I wish they were available in your area! I hadn't heard about the Forest Families you mentioned, so I did a Google search and found a hippo family that I am in love with! How adorable! Sounds like they are impossible to find these days, though.

    2. I used to have double set of little owls, if I find them I will let you know :)

  13. I'm just sitting here in shock at the fact that there's a Barbie doll out there that appeals to me! Raquelle's face is such a far cry from the usual slightly-vacant smile of the Barbie line...I kind of want her now.

    On the other hand, those Beatrix Girls dolls look like someone tried to do an American version of Dal...eep.

    1. Hi Jen, Raquelle doesn't look like a Barbie, does she? I think she's great. I might even like her more than Midge, which is unexpected!

      The Beatrix dolls do have some similarities to Dal--good call! Dal manages to have a grumpy face that's cute, though, not nasty. I agree with your "eep!" ;)

  14. I got a couple of the Woodzeez sets for my daughter. The accessories and house are SO CUTE!! and very worth the price. The dolls themselves were disappointing, because the flocking comes off way too easily. I'd definitely buy the Woodzeez sets for the accessories, but not buy the animal dolls. Really, I'd use the Calico Critters animal dolls with the Woodzeez accessories. My daughter has the Woodzeez bakery, and it's amazing for the price. The Woodzeez dolls are a terrible quality.

    1. Can we, uh, make a deal- that is if you have spare woodzeez toys ofc :)

    2. I totally agree, Sydney. Calico Critters with Woodzeez accessories is a great match! I had the same flocking issues with my Woodzeez animals.

  15. This is so cool! They have some really good deals at Toys R Us. I'm really surprised that Liv Hayden's House Playset and the Fearleading Werecats are still around. Awesome doll hunting! ;)

    1. Thank you, Toy Town! My Toys R Us keeps bringing out more of those Hayden sets--every time I think they've sold out, another one appears on the shelves! I wonder how many they have?? :) The same was true with the Fearleaders, actually. I handed the last set to a young couple doing their Christmas shopping, and then a few minutes later two more sets appeared! Like magic! ;)

    2. That's really good, at least some Liv doll fans are aware that Liv dolls (with playsets) could still be found somewhere, as well as the Fearleading pack. Speaking of magic, the Fairy Tale High of version of Tinkerbell is really cute AND covered. I'm really glad that they dressed her up in a kinda conservative way, not like the others who's all out. It's actually kinda funny because her teenage version is more covered and she's tall, but her "grown-up" version is kinda sexy, and she's small. I wish she's at least shorter than the others. Anyways, thanks for sharing these awesome finds at TRU! :D

  16. OOOOH.

    First... thank you for removing the horribly offensive name of The Grey Lady. Always knew you were awesome! <3

    I've been having way, way too much fun looking at Cyber Week sales. has Jane Boolittle (who I want SO badly!) for $16.49, but with tax and shipping, that comes out to $26 some. Even with ridiculous Tennessee tax, I think I'll just wait until I can find her somewhere other than TRU (since I'm assuming she's not a TRU exclusive) and skip on the shipping.

    Our Generation has been stepping up their game with their clothing sets! I saw an adorable one the other day, and if it's still there on Saturday (provided the weather isn't terrible) I might have to get it. I also picked up a few of the shoes sets. The cowboy boots! I know just what I can put those with. And the orange shoes are perfect with a handmade sweater I got.

    I'm so disappointed that so far, the only place to get Princess/Vice Principal Luna in Equestria Girls is that cheerleading pack, because I adore Luna in all her forms and want her badly, but not for that price, and not with *shudder* cheerleading clothes.

    You didn't by chance take a picture of the Effie Trinket doll beside that Katniss doll, did you? I'm wanting to see pictures of her that aren't promo images, because Effie was one of my favorite things about Catching Fire. (Besides, y'know. The entire movie.) "I am talking to you Katniss."

    I scurry past the Frozen section everytime I'm in a store. Because reasons. :/

    My Target is out of most everything Monster High or Ever After High. They apparently stock their toy section on Saturdays, I've learned. So. Yeah. Nothing new to be found there.

    Thanks for this! It's handy!

    1. Hi AJ! Yeah, sorry about the Grey Lady name. I am so glad I am aware of that now! Sheesh. I wonder why Hasbro still uses the name??

      Anyway, I didn't take a picture of Effie, but I can go back and see if she's still there. I'll email you a pic if I can get one. Fortunately, the Target employees don't seem to mind me lurking in the aisles taking photographs. I can only imagine how creepy I must look! :D I haven't seen "Catching Fire" yet, but my son says it's incredible.

      I totally agree with you about Our Generation. The quality is very nice for the prices. Some of those sets and outfits are fantastic. That part of the toy aisle has been very crowded recently--I think people are realizing that OG is an excellent way to stock an American Girl wardrobe!

      Good to know that Target re-stocks on Saturday! I wonder if that's country-wide? These things are important to me. :) I know my TRU is adding new things all of the time, but Tuesday is often their big day.

      Always great to hear from you!

  17. How tall is that really cute little 14.99 Sofia doll?

    1. That little cutie is 5" tall...shorter and more petite than Barbie's Chelsea.

  18. I have been reading your reviews for a while now and really enjoy them. Looking at the enormous variety you show I strongly suspect we (in the Netherlands) have about 10% of the toys/dolls shown here. And these are generally more expensive. I saw your Jane Boolittle offered online for 49,99 euro. She, and lots of other Monster High dolls, will most probably never make it to the toy stores here. I believe the cheapest Monster High dolls are the Dead Tired dolls which are on offer for 18 to 20 euro. Still it's really great to see the things you can buy across the ocean.

    1. Thank you so much for your nice comment! Wow, 10% of the selection? And Jane Boolittle for 50 euro? That must be close to $100! Whew. I have been struck recently by the huge number of toys available here (many of them poorly-made). The consumerism can be discouraging and a little off-putting. I really liked visiting the stores with no intention of buying anything--just taking pictures and enjoying the diversity of interesting things. It was curiously refreshing, like going to a museum. I do feel fortunate to have so many options, but I also sometimes wish there was not quite so much emphasis on buying stuff in this country.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective from the Netherlands--it's definitely food for thought!

    2. It's probably for the best that we have a more limited choice. That makes it less tempting to buy things, even just little things add up. I mean 1 mini lalaloopsy is not expensive, but 10? Still, the Dutch government keeps telling us we should spend more money to support the economy! ;)
      By the way 50 euro is 68,30 USD. And please keep showing us all you find interesting in the shops, it's fun to see.


    I know you get a lot of comments, so you might not see this one - but I really hope you do. I'm not able to get out to the store very often, and when I do, it's with someone who doesn't appreciate toys the way I do (so I'm usually rushed quite a bit), but I absolutely adore perusing the toy department for new and interesting things. Seeing your bright, clear pictures and hearing about your journey was almost as fun as being there myself! So thank you for this wonderful and thoroughly fun post! :) And happy holidays to you!

    1. Oh, thank you so much, Astroasis! I wish I could go real-life shopping with you! It is rare to find someone who wants to take the same amount of time lurking around the toy aisles as I do! I can't stand being rushed, either. I am so glad you enjoyed the virtual shopping trip with me. I almost didn't post this because I thought it might be really boring and long! You just made my day. :)

  20. I really like Shola. I think it's the eyes that get me every time. Thanks for the detailed shopping guide!

  21. Wow, I rarely find someone who likes to talk about her wishlist! :) This time I wanted to be prepared, so I looked all the toys I like on some online stores.The doll that I will definitely buy soon is a MH Dance class doll (12.99 euros).P.S:the black pony in the middle is Queen Crysalis(a totally different pony) and that grey pegasus is called Derpy or Bubbles.P.S.S.: I'm also eyeing Raquelle and her unique face.Speaking of doll faces, that Hunger Games doll ( I never watched the movie, I don't even know what is about! ) reminds me of a videogame character, I can't remember her name...

  22. Hi Emily. I couldn't believe the number of items you covered in this post. While I'm envious of the number of choices you have available, I have to agree with one of your earlier comments in that some of those choices are poorly made. Where I am in Canada, I'd say we have about 50% of what you featured; perhaps if I lived closer to a really large centre like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver I just might be able to walk into a big box retailer and find more of these items.

    One of my little flock got Carolina Past for her birthday, and she just loves her! I don't know if she's done any experimenting with the glow in the dark bird cage headpiece, but perhaps that's something to do this weekend. I'm interested to see your opinion of the doll.

    The doll line I really like is Ever After High. I got Ella and Hunter, as well as Madeline, but I'd like to get Apple (even though I like her least of all of the dolls), Raven, Briar and Cerise. You mentioned that Briar's face mold is different in the Legacy Day sets, so I think I'll have to get the original Briar first - she reminds me so much of Clara Oswald (Doctor Who). I like that Madeline is shorter than the other dolls, and I hear that Cerise is taller...I just hope I'm able to find her here! Another of my little ones is mad about Raven, and is waiting (im)patiently for Christmas.

    I also like the Lottie dolls, but that is not something carried by the bigger retailers. I did get one (Pandora's Box) and she is wonderful...and the same child who wants Raven Queen was ready to take her off of my hands. There were NO ponies the day I visited by local shop, and although I've asked them to give me a call when more come in, I don't think the subsequent shipment even made it to the display. Oh, well, maybe I can treat myself during the Boxing Day sales.

    I like the Midge dolls too; after reading about them I couldn't wait to get to Toys R Us to see (and buy) one. When I got there, however, I was not as impressed with her in person...I don't know what it was, so I left her behind.

    Anyway, I look forward to your next shopping trip round up review - I'm sure it will be interesting!


  23. I think I want another Pinkie Cooper doll (Ginger, preferably). Barbie Raquelle really appeals to me too. She has such a unique face, she looks sweet but snarky. Midge doesn't appeal to me. Whenever I hear the name Midge, I think she should be a lot shorter. The OG stuff this time around isn't really interesting me. After owning two, they've started to feel old and stale, like they're all the same doll except with different hair. I really want the Border Collie Calico Critters too, with the twins. There sure are some interesting dolls during the holidays.

  24. Hmm
    So Many Similar Doll Brands...
    Zombies, Monsters, Princesses, Ponies, Blah, Blah, Blah
    I Thought That Talin Is A Unique Name For A Doll But It's So Close To The Capital City Of Estonia's Name Tallinn. Ha What Am I Saying! XD
    Well It's Good There Making The Equestria Girls Dolls Better.
    Like OH MY GOSH! Bloom's Eyes Are Terrifying! More Freaky Then Cutie Pops Empty Heart Shaped Eye Holes *shiver* Lol I Better Stop Before This Gets Too Random XD
    Awesome...Shopping Emily

  25. I really need to get offline and do some real-life shopping. Monster High never quite appealed to me. but Operatta is becoming hard to resist. I saw "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway and boy, did she ever bring back the memories. Raquelle Barbie - who is she? She's tremendously more gorgeous than Ellowyne Wilde and I almost dropped $99 on Serious Intention Ellowyne last Friday - thank goodness I didn't. I found a 23" Beth mold Twinn 2 days later. Whew.. We have Calico Critters locally and I feel they are worth the price jump. As a doll lover, this one has me interacting with animals. So adorable! And those Zombie dolls are SCARY - they make me want to plan for next Halloween. But it's Hearts 4 Hearts that would have me roaming the shelves. Lauryce (sorry of it's spelled incorrectly) is #1 and then off for Shola and Mosi. I could add to Shola - find leggings, search for better shoes . . . Mosi needs a real feather clip is all. And there's Dell and Tipi too. I love 'em - like potato chips you cannot have just one. Zelfs remind me of my Troll days, ahhh, the troll on the end of your pencil, you know? I still have a stack of them in my drawer, yes, totally retro and disorganized . . . Happy Holidays and Shopping!! This list is invaluable. I've only 2 weeks left! AHHH!

  26. Very well thought out list. Jane Boolittle is very near the top of my list of wants. I also love the Hearts for Hearts dolls and I want Zelia from Brazil because her hair color is beautiful.
    I also love that you included Midge and Raquelle in your review.
    My other picks would be Our Generation's Retro Girls Ruby and Rose. Journey Girls Jordanna and Paris Callie and any of the Pinkie Cooper dolls.
    I never noticed the Calico Critters before so I will be looking for them on my next trip.
    Thanks again for another great read.

  27. Oh wow! What an amazing selection of dolls and accessories. I would go crazy in a Target store. Everything seems much more reasonably priced than here in the UK too. There is a lot of stuff there that is still sitting on my wish list. I am hoping to get some it this Christmas. I am really into MLP right now because I secretly watched the movie about the Equestria girls and loved it ;) I still haven't got any EAH. I just don't love their faces enough. My Pinkie Cooper is still waiting for a friend. Brilliant review Emily. I can't wait for the next instalment.

  28. The harmonica doesn't work

  29. Hi Emily! Just wanted to you know the calico critters are on sale at toys r us. The critters and play-sets are buy two get the third for $1. For the families it comes out to $15.66 each if you get three. The twins come out to $6.33 each if you get three.
    There's also a lots of sales on other things, like 25% zelfs and kawaii crush, 30% of pinkie cooper and winx, and bogo 50% on mlp. :) Hope this helps you or some of your readers.
    P.S. The sale runs until the 14th.

  30. Hi! I love your reviews and I have to tell you that you helped me help two women (grandmother and great grandmother) find and check off the list they were given by the little girl in their life. Thank you so very much for arming me with shopping knowledge about Ashlynn Ella and Hunter Huntsman and the rest of their line.

    Also for the information on the Monster High group. And especially about the Hearts4Hearts girls - I have yet to see Mosi in person, but Tipi has stolen my heart. Sadly I can't shop for myself at this time, but if I can find her at Target after Christmas...she's mine. :)

    Thank you again!

  31. Hi Emily! I heard there's a new diorama series, miWorld, created by Jakks Pacific. The scale is 1/12, and the dioramas are miniature versions of famous shops like OPI and Claire's. The starter sets are $14.99. They are slated to be released early next year, but I'm not sure if some products are already in stores. Here's the website: I think they're really cute and would love it if you could review them! Looking forward to your next review!

  32. I finally found Power Ghouls Toralei at the Target I have a seasonal job at. I was ringing up a customer who was buying one. The rule is about buying merchandise while at work at Target is that you have to wait at least 15 minutes to buy something after it has been put on the shelf and the purchase has to be made on a break or lunch. Also, we can't put items on hold. So needless to say, it was a long two hours of ringing up people before my lunch and in the back of my mind wondering if there was still a Toralei on the shelf. There were two left so I picked the one that had no face defects. The Power Ghouls are on sale right now for $10.

  33. Thanks for the list! I thought I knew what I was getting my brother (since he has mentioned that he wants some clothes for MiM), but I know he likes Bratzillaz, too. The newer ones look awesome! At least I know what I'm getting my niece now. ^_^

  34. My youngest daughter is getting a Calico Critters ballet set that includes a bunny, her barre, a mirror and three dresses. Since she collects Calico Critters, loves bunnies (her CC family is bunnies) and studies ballet, it will be the perfect gift for her. We've been able to slowly build up her Calico Critters collection over the years. We did splurge one Christmas and get the biggest house available at the time, but that was most of what she got for Christmas that year.

    Both of my girls (teens) like the new My Little Pony stuffed toys offered at Build-a-Bear. I'm hoping my youngest daughter will get one for Christmas from one of her aunts. Said aunt should have a bunch of points at BaB since she buys so much for my nice there!

  35. The 'Calcio Critters' seem to be what we call 'Sylvanian Family's' in UK. The only difference is that Sylvanian family come in less pink packaging.

  36. Wow, those Frozen dolls and the styling heads are really bizarre! I'll have to look for the stuffed MLP's, did you happen to see a Rainbow Dash one?

  37. btw it wasnt nightmaere moon it was queen chyristalis

  38. there actually is a type of wildcat in southeast asia who fish, and ave similar coloring. here's a link:

    i like your blog :)