Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mooshka "Fairy Tales" Mini Doll by MGA Entertainment

I have admired the Mooshka cloth dolls ever since I first saw them at Target last summer.  They have a wholesome, sweet appearance that sets them apart from most of the other dolls found at big-box stores.  Mooshka dolls would fit nicely in a smaller, locally owned toy shop.  Surprisingly, these cloth girls are credited to the toy goliath, MGA Entertainment--through their partnership with Zapf Creation.

I always stop to check in on the Mooshka dolls when I am at Target, and during my last visit I was delighted to see a few newcomers to the collection.  The new wave of dolls is called Fairy Tales (a common theme these days...) and features four of the larger cloth girls (Ina, Casia, Sonia and Palia) dressed up in princess, fairy, or mermaid outfits.  The Fairy Tales collection also includes six mini figures, and these are the dolls that I found the most tempting.  The mini dolls have a lot of features in common with Lalaloopsy minis, but they are not made out of bright plastic.  In fact, at first glance, I assumed they were made out of wood.  Also, each mini Mooshka doll has a piece of her wardrobe that is made out of fabric.  At $7.99 each, I couldn't resist buying a few of these newcomers to see what they look like up close.

Here's Fairy Tales Ina and her owl companion:

Mooshka mini doll
Mooshka Fairy Tales mini doll, "Ina."
There's no official information about these mini dolls online at this point, so I've had to do some guessing in this review.  I will be sure to update the post with corrections as I learn more.

The Fairy Tales mini dolls are 3.5 inches tall and come in bright, colorful cardboard window boxes.  The boxes have castle-themed decorations:

All of the mini dolls come with a little pet.  Fairy Ina has a cute pink owl with a bell around her neck.  I wish the pets had names, because I enjoy the unusual names of the Mooshka dolls.

The front of the box advertises a free eBook, but I haven't taken advantage of this offer yet.

These Mooshka boxes strongly remind me of Lottie doll boxes

The back of Fairy Ina's box has a large drawing of her face and a very short description of this character's creative, artistic personality: 

The other mini dolls in the series are Palia, Casia, Sonia, Taria and Jaya.  These girls are drawn along the bottom edge of the box:

The bottom of the box credits the Mooshka trademark to MGA Entertainment, but also lists Zapf Creation.  I was happy to see this association.  I don't love all of MGA's products (and they tend to have bad packaging), but Zapf is a company that has made some beautiful dolls over the years, so I tend to pay attention to what they're up to.  They made the Little Princess Cinderella doll that I love.

The side of the box explains the premise of the series: the Mooshka girls are throwing a party and inviting their fairy tale friends:

This doesn't make perfect sense to me. It seems like the Mooshka girls are, themselves, dressed up to look like princesses, fairies and mermaids.  Who, exactly are they inviting to the party, then?  Probably the eBook would explain this more clearly to me.

Before I de-box Ina, let me show you the other Mooshka mini I bought: the mermaid Sonia:

Sonia enjoys throwing parties, so she's probably the one responsible for this fairy tale bash:

Sonia is really cute, with bright pink hair and blue-grey eyes.  She does not have a very fancy piece of fabric clothing, but she has a solid fish tail:

My Sonia is missing an eyelash on her left eye:

These dolls usually have two lashes on each side.
Sonia's pet is my favorite of the whole group--a tiny smiling seahorse!  I am very fond of seahorses, and MGA makes really cute ones.

Best mini pet ever.
I won't de-box Sonia in this review.  

Opening Ina's box looked like it would be as simple as pulling a plastic insert out of a cardboard sleeve:

It was pretty simple, but all of the edges of the cardboard box were glued closed, so I had to rip open one edge in order the slide the plastic out.

Ina and her owl are tied to the plastic backing with small clear plastic twist ties.  I don't think I've ever seen these in doll packaging before:

The ties are all taped down to the plastic, but once the tape is removed, they can very easily be cut with regular scissors.

Here's Ina with her owl:

Mooshka Fairy Tales mini

The first thing I noticed about Ina is that she's not made out of wood.  Her arms and legs are a hard material (vinyl?) with flecks of color in it.  These parts of the doll remind me of recycled composite.  They also remind me of Rochelle Goyle's granite-colored body.  The head and torso are hard and smooth and definitely feel like wood, but appear to be resin of some kind.

The owl is solid and made out of the same flecked material as Ina's arms and legs.  I love her slightly tilted head with its two little tufts of feathers:

Apparently, she's number 2:

She has a little purple collar with a gold molded bell on it.  

Here's a close-up of the colored flecks:

Ina comes wearing thick pink wings made out of a slightly flexible vinyl:

The wings don't have any flecks of color--they're solid pink.

The wings dramatically restrict Ina's head movement, and make it hard for her to sit, so the first thing I did is pull the wings off:

This allowed me to get a peek at the inside of Ina's torso, which I hoped would reveal what material she is made out of:

She's a uniform brown color inside.
I'm still not positive what that brown material is, but I did notice some dried glue in the wing hole, suggesting that the wings might not be intended for removal. 

It's easy to put the wings back on, though, and they even stay in place well, so I guess it's possible that they are meant to be removed.  

The vinyl wings seem a little out of place on Ina since they do not have a natural look or feel at all.  I think lightweight, gauzy fabric wings would have been a better fit for this little doll.

Ina must be doll number 2.
Ina's head has rotational movement, and her face has a hand-painted look with simple features.  

Her irises are silver grey with green lines, giving them a teal green look from a distance.  The edges of her eyes are defined by single light brown lines.  She has both of her painted upper lashes on each side.

Ina has a rosebud mouth and a small pink jellybean nose.  Her cheeks are lightly blushed:

Ina's hair is made out of a separate piece of yellow plastic (or whatever it is).  The hair is decorated with gold zig-zags and a stamped tiara pattern.  The tiara is a little crooked--perhaps on purpose to give the doll a handmade look...or perhaps because it was actually applied by hand:

Many things about Ina, like the material she's made out of and the painted details of her body, are clearly meant to evoke a vintage, handmade wooden doll.  I don't know which (if any) parts of her are actually manufactured by hand.  I am hoping that the Mooshka website will update with some of this information.

Ina has two little plastic bowling pin-shaped pigtails that are inserted into either side of her head:

Ina's arms can move back and forth.  She has very simple mitten hands.

The shoulder area of her arm has a painted purple cap sleeve. The pink and purple striped top of her dress is painted onto her body:

 Ina is wearing a separate, three-layered tulle fairy skirt:

The skirt has thin lilac tulle on top, a coarser dark blue tulle layer in the middle, and glittery pink tulle underneath:

The skirt is sewn to Ina's body with thread that is strung through two small holes.

Ina's legs have simple, independent pendulum articulation and can swing forwards.  They are not loose like Lalaloopsy mini doll legs, but rather have stiff joints that can hold a pose.

She has little nubbin feet with painted slippers:

MGA Entertainment makes Lalaloopsy dolls, and there are many parallels between Lalaloopsy and Mooshka.  Lalaloopsy dolls are meant to be cloth dolls (but are actually plastic) that come to life with the placement of magical stitches.  Mooshka dolls are described as paper dolls (but are actually cloth) that come to life through the power of friendship.

The mini Mooshka dolls and the mini Lalaloopsy dolls are quite similar.  However, the cloth Mooshka dolls do not look as much like the full-sized Lalaloopsy plastic dolls.  I bought the first cloth Mooshka Ina a while ago, and have been meaning to review her.  The poor thing is still in her box:

I won't de-box this doll now, but I slid the plastic sleeve away from the box so that you can see her without the glare, and so that I can quickly compare her to Fairy Ina:

She comes with real paper dolls and a little finger puppet.
This Ina has blue side-glancing eyes:

Ina is my favorite Mooshka doll because I love her creative personality and her paint-themed dress:

Big Ina comes with a bag that Fairy Ina can fit right into:

It's neat how similar the two dolls look, even with one made out of cloth and the other made out of hard materials.

The pink thread that holds Ina's skirt in place can be seen in the ribbon trim at the top of the skirt.

Even though I was fairly sure that this thread was not meant to be cut, I snipped it to see what would happen.  The skirt slides off very easily:

Underneath, Ina has a cute little painted body...with two holes in it:

I'm actually glad I removed the skirt, because it's easier to see the design of Ina's body this way, and to appreciate her range of motion.

The skirt slides back on easily, but it doesn't stay in place as nicely as it did when it was stitched.  It tends to ride up onto Ina's chest, and the pink ribbon waistline gets folded and twisted very easily.

These mini dolls are 3.5 inches tall, which makes them shorter than Lala-Oopsie ponies:

And bigger than Lalaloopsy mini dolls:

Here's a comparison shot with a Calico Critter adult, the Disney Store China Girl mini, and a Cabbage Patch mini doll:

Ina is a small doll, but she's larger than some of the other minis out there.

Here are a few more pictures of Ina:

Mooshka Fairy Tales mini

Bottom line?  I find Ina very charming.  She has a sweet face and a wholesome theme.  While I'm not exactly sure what she's made out of (perhaps resin and vinyl?), she looks and feels like a hand-painted wooden doll.  She comes in an attractive package and has an adorable animal companion.  Her $7.99 price tag is a little steep for such a small figure, but this doll feels like she's higher quality than many similarly-priced miniatures.  I can see the Fairy Tales line of mini dolls being quite popular, and inspiring some wonderful, imaginative fairyland games.

There are a few things about Ina that might make her difficult to play with.  She cannot stand on her own with her skinny legs and nubbin feet, however her stiff leg joints make her much easier to pose than a Lalaloopsy mini.  The vinyl wings seem like they were meant to be permanent, but unless they're pulled off (which is pretty easy to do), Ina's head can barely move and it's hard for her to sit.  Last, the clothing on this doll is stitched into holes in the hard body.  The thread can be cut and the skirt removed, but I am not positive that this was the intent.  I think mixing and matching skirts between the various mini dolls in this series would be fun, but the clothing isn't clearly designed for this purpose.

There is a lot of repetitiveness between the Lalaloopsy line and the Mooshka line.  The dolls have very similar magical coming-to-life stories, and there's a physical resemblance between the two brands--especially in the mini dolls.  It's almost as if the Mooshka line is a re-make of the Lalaloopsy line...using materials that seem more natural.  Given that my biggest complaint about Lalaloopsy is how hard and plastic the dolls are, it's probably no surprise that I really like the look and feel of the Mooshka line.  I appreciate the soft, huggability of the larger dolls, and I enjoy the muted colors and natural feel of the minis...even though I have no idea how natural they actually are.  Overall, I think Zapf Creation did a wonderful job of re-imagining the Lalaloopsy idea into a sweet little mini doll with a vintage, handmade feel.

Mooshka Fairy Tales mini


  1. Great review! I'd heard about these dolls on the Lalaloopsy Fan Club forum and wasn't sure what I thought, but they're really cute in person. They have a sweet rag doll look. I hadn't realized that the original Mooshkas were supposed to be paper dolls that came to life...I just assumed they were supposed to be rag dolls. :}

    I definitely see what you mean by the repetitiveness between Mooshka and Lalaloopsy. At the same time, it's nice having two doll lines that are so refreshingly sweet and "little-girly" with so many fashion or relationship-focused dolls on the market.

    1. Thank you, beastsbelle! Yes, I think it is nice to see an increase in the number of dolls for little children and their imaginations. I think perhaps even the small size and collectibility of the Mooshka minis will appeal to older children, too--just like the Lalaloopsy dolls.

      It took me a while to realize that the larger dolls were supposed to be paper dolls, too--they have stitches in their hair! It's a little odd, but the dolls are cute, regardless. :)

  2. Fantastic review! The paint and engineering of the doll really is evocative of a wooden doll - it's almost a shame to hear that they're plastic (although I suppose that would have been cost prohibitive). Still a great traditional look though.

    The big ones really remind me of those pre-printed toy-making fabrics (where the fabric pattern includes the seam allowances and instructions to make animals or dolls for beginning sewers) - it's funny to see something that looks so much like a do-it-yourself project as a mass marketed doll! :)

    1. Thank you very much! And I know what kind of doll you mean--great thought! The larger dolls definitely look a lot like those pre-printed dolls. I had a few of them when I was a child. I think I had Holly Hobbie? It's hard to remember. I like how both the larger dolls and the minis feel old fashioned while being modern and durable. The cloth dolls are even machine washable! These Mooshkas certainly don't look like typical mass marketed dolls.

  3. I love these little gals. I found them a couple of weeks ago at Target and bought three...they had 7 different ones in stock though. I just love the old fashioned "wooden" dolly look. Sort of like a matryoshka doll.
    Thanks for reviewing them. :)

    1. They are super-sweet, aren't they? I found them to be the most appealing new toy on the shelves, and the mini dolls at my Target were disappearing fast. The larger Fairy Tales dolls are nice, too, aren't they? I almost bought the larger Casia, but I spent all of my money on the minis. :)

  4. Wonderful review as always. I really like these minis and even though the fairy tale theme is everywhere right now, they manage to make it their own. I like that the legs are seperate pendulums unlike the Lalaloopsy minis. I think the faces are really endearing and I will probably end up buying a few just because they are so cute. Thanks again for another wonderful review.

    1. Thank you so much, Starr! I agree that the independent leg movement is great--these dolls are much easier to pose and play with than the Lalaloopsy minis with pendulum legs. The dolls really stand out at the store, I think. I mean, the pets alone are worth something--that tiny seahorse just makes me smile every time I look at him. :)

  5. I have to admit at first these dolls didn't appeal to me at all! But after reading your review once again I've changed my mind and love them! I like the mini dolls better than the big dolls probably because of their handmade feel. I have about 40 dollars to spend and now I have no idea what to buy! I was leaning towards ever after high since I only have Apple. I'm thinking about buying the Ashlynn Ella and Hunter Huntsman pack plus another doll. Then I saw the sale for the liv house, today I saw the new AG release and now this! So many decisions!

    1. Oh, what fun, Sara! $40 is a wonderful amount of money to have! You're right, there are SO many great choices right now. Toys R Us (in store) is having a big sale that I think will extend through the holiday weekend. Monster High, Hello Kitty, and I think Ever After High were all on 25% off sales! That might help you get the most for your money. I hope you have a great time making your choices--let us know what you pick! :)

  6. Thank you for the lovely review! :)

    Oh my, that owl is such a little cutie! I am a huge owl lover, but there are so many recently that I've become a little picky about which ones to like, or even own. This one's colours, the slightly tilted head and the cute bell necklace won me over in a heartbeat though! :) Too bad I've never seen this line sold around here yet...

    At first the flecked material made me think of recycled plastic - which would be awesome! However, on one hand I think this would be a crucial enough information that if it was true it would have been advertised on the box. On the other hand, however nice an idea this sounds, on the long run it might not be a good one, as different plastics vary a lot in their breakdown times - I have encountered several sticky toys that weren't even a dozen years old - and if there's a chance that such plastic also gets in the recycled material used for the dollies, it's better not to risk.

    I also thought they are made by hand - they sure look handmade, but, just as with recycling, I think it would be a big thing enough to have it included on the box.

    1. Thank you, Loona! That's a really excellent point--if the dolls were made out of recycled materials or were hand painted, they would surely advertise this on the box. That would make them quite special, particularly for dolls under $10 being sold at Target. But I agree that the flecked material hints at a recycled plastic of some kind. You also raise an excellent point about breakdown times with various plastics. I have had trouble with this in many of my dolls, too. The biggest problem I've had is with the silicone and silicone vinyl dolls (mostly in the baby doll world). These do not age gracefully.

      The mini pets in this series are all fantastic. I agree that the little pink owl is special. She packs a ton of personality into an absolutely tiny figure. I was very attracted to the dolls in the store, but the pets are what made me want to buy them all! :)

  7. I think these dolls are very attractive. They remind me most of Russian matryoshka dolls. Perhaps you should name Ina's pet "Owl" in Russian? Nice review!

    1. Hi Barb! Danna mentioned the matryoshka connection, too, and you guys are right! Even the doll line's name, Mooshka, hints at that now that I think of it! Great thought.

      Your idea for naming the owl is perfect. I was struggling for a good idea on this, but couldn't think of anything! I did Goggle Translate on "owl" and got "coba" in Russian. Coba! That's cute! And just different enough from Cobie that it fits with the other Mooshka names.

      Thank you, Barb! You've named my little owl. :D

    2. Actually "Coba" is pronounced Sova. the Russian letter C is an english S, and Russian B is an english V.

  8. Emily-
    You are my eyes and ears so to speak when it comes to Target. I don't go there often but anytime I do your reviews are leading me there, LOL !!!
    I have some sort of switch in my brain that responds anytime I see anything little. All reasoning goes out the window. A weakness that has resulted in many purchases through the years.
    The Owl is beyond cute and her tiny little feet, how sweet are they???

    A treat as always, Tina

    1. There is something so tantalizing about little things, isn't there? I feel the same way, Tina! And I agree that the owl is special. It really is the miniature pets that make me want to collect the whole line of mini Mooshka dolls. The dolls themselves have some nice differences from one to the next (hair color, outfit) but the pets are all unique and all adorable. :)

  9. I look forward to every new review here, and this one was very informative about a doll line I've never heard of before :) Is it possible that the material is MDF?
    I've only ever seen MDF made in sheets / rectangles ( it's a very popular choice for cheap furniture, especially school desks, here in the UK), but wood fibre pulp fixed with resin sounds very likely considering the flakes of colour :) What do you think?

    1. Interesting idea, Saiko! I looked at a bunch of pictures of MDF and you're right about the flecks and the texture. I am fairly certain that the legs and arms on Ina are some kind of plastic. They have a slight shine to them and are very rigid. The body and head feel more like wood than the arms and legs, so maybe those are MDF? I don't see much texture at all in the head and body, though, which leads me back to thinking it's another plastic.

      The problem is that the doll is so small, it's difficult to get a really good look at her to tell anything one way or the other. I am so tempted to try and remove some paint to get a better look at the material, but I don't think I can do that to Ina. :/

      Thank you so much for this information. A MDF doll would be fascinating--almost reminiscent of the composition dolls of the early 1900s! :)

  10. Oh she's just so cute!!!!!!!!! When my cousin is older I might buy her one. ( my cousin is a baby )

    1. Good idea! You're right that the dolls wouldn't be good for babies--especially with the pets, but they'd make a wonderful gift! I'm sad that all of my nieces are a little old for these now. We would have had some fun games. :)

  11. The little owl is adorable, and little me would have enjoyed the mermaid for sure. Especially that pink hair! xD

    1. Yes, the colored hair is such a nice addition to these dolls! A good pink-haired doll is hard to find. ;)

  12. I am loving the mini versions! They remind me a little of It's a Small World.

    1. Great thought, Aralis! They do have things in common with the Small World dolls (which also look very cute). :)

  13. Thank you for another great review. I love seeing your thoughts on the different dolls.

  14. I didn't find Mooshka dolls very appealing at first - a bit too plain for my tastes - but there is something sweet and very different about them compared to modern doll lines. The plush ones are really growing on me. Good review!

    Also, if it isn't too much trouble, could you tell me a bit about your photography backdrop and lighting setup? Is it similar to a lightbox? The pictures you take are so nice and show off the dolls so well! I always have so much trouble getting the lighting right and I'd love to learn if you have any tips to share. :)

    1. Thank you for the compliment! I have struggled with lighting for a long time, so I'm very sympathetic! As you surely notice, my earlier pictures have a lot of trouble with color and light. I still have a hard time getting the lighting how I want it. I have a little Cannon Powershot camera that has a few light settings that I can play with, but it's nothing fancy. I try to take pictures when there isn't too much ambient light. Sunlight makes my indoor pictures yellow. It's been very sunny here recently, so I have towels over the windows in my room. I use the room light, and then two additional lights closer to the table where I take my pictures. I don't have a light box. I have been tempted to make my own--my brother-in-law suggested making one with an old refrigerator box (it would have to be pretty big to hold some of the 18" dolls!) but I haven't tried that yet. I think that's probably the way to go in the long run. I am tempted by several of the small light box kits on Amazon. I'd love to see how they work before I launch into trying to make a huge one. I don't have great advice, I guess. For me, it's just been a lot of tinkering and re-positioning the desk and lights in different areas of the room, and then trying to find a setting on my camera that "likes" that light.

    2. The links in my reply aren't my recommendations for a camera or a light box--those are randomly added by my affiliate ad company. It's a little irritating--sorry! :)

  15. Aww, these Mooshka dolls are so adorable! They also remind me of Russian Nesting Dolls. However, the pain job is not that nice, but it's usually unavoidable for these kind of dolls/toys. Anyway, thanks for the awesome review, Emily!

    1. Thank you so much, Toy Town! It would be so amazing if these dolls were painted as nicely as the Russian nesting dolls! That would be a very special little toy!

  16. How cute! I like the look of the mini dolls but I might prefer the larger dolls even more. They do look very huggable :) Like you said, the price seems a bit steep for the minis but with a few adjustments like interchangable clothing, the price would be more right.

  17. I went to Target to look for these dolls today. They had a section for them, and were COMPLETELY SOLD OUT of the minis except for two. Wow! They must be selling really well! I bought one of the two that were left. She's the ballerina with the orange hair and the bunny. Very cute! She really does look like she's made of wood, although I'm sure it's a type of resin that's just made to LOOK like wood. She's very old-fashioned-looking in a good way. I like her a lot.

  18. LOL, I've had a Karia review in draft form since November! Nice to know I'm not the only one who forgets. These little ones are SO CUTE!!! Superb review, as usual.

  19. Just wanted to tell you how wonderful (and terrible) an influence on my shopping your blog is. On the one hand, your blog usually satisfies the slight interest I have in some dolls I have no intention of getting; on the other hand, your reviews can make me shoot to the store and pick up one of my own as quickly as possible.
    I saw these a couple of weeks ago and admired how they looked like classic wooden toys as well. Yesterday I shot out and picked up Casia and regret nothing!

    Thanks again for your reviews.

  20. Hullo, bit of a long-time lurker here! Man, I wish you could find these here. I'm not the biggest fan of most playline dolls these days but these are genuinely rather sweet.
    Bit of a tangent; I have to say, it slightly amuses me that you described their names as unusual when many of them (especially Ina or Casia) are pretty similar to common Eastern European names. Nothing against it or anything, just tickled me.
    (and on that note; the russian word for owl isn't coba. it might look like it (сова) but they use a different alphabet. it's actually pronounced 'sova'. just thought you should know :>> )

  21. Ooh--I like the name Sova even more! Thank you for that correction! The names of the dolls are so lovely, it's neat to learn that they are common in Eastern Europe. Actually, I have heard the name "Cassia" cropping up here more and more, but for the most part, those names aren't common in the U.S.--or they're spelled differently (Sonia vs. Sonja, for example). I think Ina might be my favorite name. I just love it!

    Thank you so much for contributing this great information, it's easy for me to get caught up in my own little world! :D

  22. Just a little heads up- Under the picture of Ina with the other dolls, you've misspelled 'larger' as 'lager' :)

  23. Hello there. From what I've gathered from your review, I might just get one of these adorable mini dolls and place it upon my shelf in my bedroom. I love dolls that are reminiscent of Victorian, fantastical themes, and I can most certainly see these little ones being of this sort of nature. Ina sounds adorable and seems to harken back to the 19th and early 20th century.
    As I've mentioned before, I adore mystery and mystic, and I can just see Ina portrayed in a story--a fairy doll that a young child leaves behind on her back porch. Some days later, her house unfortunately burns down. The family manages to escape, but the girl forgets that her precious wooden doll is still on the porch. When the house finally burns down, all that remains is the fairy doll and her little owl pet.
    Sorry, I got sidetracked. :-)
    Anyway, great review as always, Emely!