Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Snow White" by Monika Peter-Leicht for Masterpiece Dolls

Masterpiece Dolls is a Rhode Island-based company that was founded by Shirley Blackall in 1985.  The company has produced vinyl, porcelain and silicone-vinyl dolls in all sizes and styles, but is currently best know for its life-sized vinyl child dolls.  The vinyl children have been sculpted by a variety of artists over the years, including Monika Levenig, Susan Lippl, and Monika Peter-Leicht.

Masterpiece dolls is great at reaching out to budding artists and is often adding new sculptors to their list.  I had some brief first-hand experience with this when Masterpiece produced one of my own bizarre clay babies in vinyl for the German market.  I think this was the ugliest and least popular doll ever made, but it was a neat experience...and probably a good story for another time.

Despite my interactions with this company, I have never owned a Masterpiece doll that wasn't sculpted by me.  I have been eyeing the larger Masterpiece children ever since Annette Himstedt stopped making dolls in 2009, but more out of curiosity than the desire to purchase.  A recent online sale got me looking at these dolls again, and this time I did some research and accumulated enough interest to bring one of the larger girls home for review.  The doll I chose is Monika Peter-Leicht's "Snow White" from 2010.  I should warn you up front, though, that by the end of the review the doll won't look much like this anymore:

Snow White by Monika Peter-Leicht
"Snow White" by Masterpiece, $239.
Before I say anything else, I have to communicate my uncertainty about the name "Masterpiece."  I used to think it was two words: Master Piece (because that's what it looks like on the top of the website and on the doll boxes), but then I thought maybe it was MasterPiece (all one word but with the "p" capitalized...).  However, the press releases on the website and most external articles and dealers refer to it as "Masterpiece." I hope this is correct, but as I's ambiguous.

Master Piece?  MasterPiece?  Masterpiece??
It took me a long time to decide which Masterpiece doll I should buy.  I spent plenty of time on Flickr looking at collectors' pictures, and a bit of time lurking on the doll forum, Doll Chatter.  The consensus seems to be that the dolls are not as nice as they used to be, and that recent releases are seeming more and more repetitive.  Part of the problem is that, of the three primary child doll sculptors, Susan Lippl hasn't released a new doll in a while and Monika Peter-Leicht's contributions to each new collection are getting fewer and fewer.  This leaves the majority of each collection in the hands of Monika Levenig.  The schedule at Masterpiece is to release new dolls every three months, which is a pretty hefty load for one artist.

I have also heard that the larger Masterpiece dolls with multiple joints are difficult to manage, that the vinyl is getting darker in color and lighter in weight, and that there have been issues with thin wigs and cracks in the plastic eyes.  

I wanted to investigate as many of these things as possible, so I went looking for an older doll in the largest size range with multiple joints.  I slightly prefer Monika Peter-Leicht's dolls, so I was also looking mostly at those.  There aren't very many still-in-box dolls that meet these criteria, but I did manage to find a 42" Snow White from 2010:

This particular doll was highly anticipated, but she didn't sell well because Masterpiece made a last-minute change to her dress, swapping out the traditional Snow White yellow skirt for the pink you see here.  In addition, even the blue parts of her dress are muted to a slate blue that almost looks purple in some light. 

This doll's box is so huge that I am not even going to photograph the whole thing.  It's just shy of four feet tall.  The box is made entirely out of cardboard, and is filled with cardboard supports to hold the doll in place.  All of the packaging is recyclable, save for two styrofoam braces to pad the doll's head, and a few plastic bags covering her limbs.  The side of the box is decorated with a picture of two girls playing with their dolls:

Well, the one girl is playing with a freaky little clown puppet.
When I first opened Snow White's box, I noticed a fairly strong odor from her vinyl.  This smell is still noticeable a few days later.  

Snow comes with a doll stand, a certificate of authenticity, and a small (dismissible) apple accessory.  Her long black wig came contained within a hairnet and a plastic bag.  Here she is out of the box with her hairnet and some of the plastic removed.  Her neck, legs and arms are still wrapped in white tissue paper:

Her wig is thick and long and is a deep, shiny black color:

Impressive wig.

The tissue around her neck is neatly tucked into the top of her dress:

She also has tissue wrapped around both legs, and plastic liners in between her feet and her shoes:

She isn't wearing any socks.
The stand has a wooden base and a metal telescoping support:

Mine tips a little to one side.

The stand fits Snow well, but it also adds to her weight--making her just under 20 pounds.  It is possible for her to stand on her own, but when she topples over (which happens fairly regularly) it's a dramatic event that makes a huge noise, crumples my backdrop and runs the risk of scratching or scuffing the doll's vinyl.  Still, I was able to pose her without the stand for most of the pictures in this review.

Snow's wig tends to look messy because of its length and waves, but it's actually quite easy to brush out.

The fibers aren't as silky or shiny as American Girl or Karito Kid wigs, but it's a nice quality, thick wig in a deep lustrous black color that fits the Snow White character perfectly:

Snow White by Monika Peter-Leicht
The dealer told me that this is one of the nicest wigs she's seen on these dolls.
Snow has a red satin ribbon tied in her hair, with a bow perched at the top of her head.  The bow is stitched to the wig, but the rest of the ribbon is loose.

The length of this hair is fun to play with, but it seems too long for the size and features of this doll. Snow is about the height of a four-year-old child, and her face has a babyish appearance:

Snow White by Monika Peter-Leicht
Grown-up hair on a baby face.
 I tied the hair back into a simple ponytail to keep it under control during the review:

It falls into beautiful waves and makes a very pretty ponytail:

As a random aside: with her hair pulled back like this, the doll reminds me of Ginnifer Goodwin's pixie-haired Snow White character from the television show, Once Upon A Time:

Many of the Masterpiece child dolls have expressive faces with big smiles or visible teeth.  Some of the smiling dolls are extremely well-done and realistic (like "Mia," "Let's Play Dress Up Again" and "Tori"), but these dolls tend to be difficult to find and expensive on the secondary market.  A few of the smiling dolls don't look as good ("Alana" and the new twins "Ani" and "Suri" leap to mind...).  I contemplated buying one of the larger smiling girls (Pamela or Leandra) but ended up feeling safer with Snow's neutral expression:

Snow White by Monika Peter-Leicht

She has a lovely, calm face with large detailed lips and wide eyes.  She has a few areas where her proportions are odd, though.  First of all, in profile, you can see that her jawline curves downward on the right side of her face, and her ears are very large:

There's also a funny contour around her right eye that's apparent from some angles.  I think it's that there's no defined cheekbone, but just a gradual slope from the eye socket to the center of the cheek:  

I should pause here to qualify these criticisms.  I don't expect artists to sculpt facial proportions exactly right.  In fact, it's the small quirks and imperfections that make the difference between a mannequin and a work of art.  With art, the interpretation or caricature of a human face can be much more interesting than a perfect replica.  However, I'm not sure I would classify this doll as art.  The original sculpture would be, certainly, but not the doll in the way it was manufactured and presented for sale.  I'll come back to this a little later.

Despite a few funny angles, Snow White has some wonderful details in her face.  Her lips are slightly parted with the hint of a visible tongue:

Her nostrils and upper lip are highlighted with red paint.  This looks strange up close, but looks very natural--like little shadows--from a distance.

She has a tiny bubble defect in the vinyl of her nose.
Snow has large blue eyes with upper and lower lashes.  Her eyebrows are beautifully drawn with a realistic feathered pattern:

The eyes have a nice mix of brown, blue and black.  They are made out of acrylic, though, and my doll has multiple large cracks in the corners of both eyes.  

From some reaction with the vinyl??
I actually knew that this doll had cracked eyes when I bought her.  The dealer was very honest with me and even provided pictures of the cracks.  I didn't get a discount on the doll, though, which I think is a shame.  I don't blame the dealer at all--this is Masterpiece's responsibility.  They should have fixed the eyes or passed along a discount to the dealers.  I bought this doll with the intention of changing her eyes, and (as much as I like art projects) I don't usually purchase $200 dolls that I know I will have to fix.

Most Masterpiece dolls come in ordinary age-appropriate children's clothing, but the fairy tale series dolls all come in costumes befitting their story.  Snow White is wearing a floor-length dress with a full petticoat and bloomers.

The bodice of the dress is made out of a slate blue fabric with little embroidered flowers.  It has full, puffy half sleeves with pink cuffs.  All of the edges are lined with white lace.

The front of the bodice is decorated with a red twisted rope that is arranged in a corset pattern, complete with metal eyes to hold the rope in place:

The dress opens in the back with four large buttons.  

The bodice is fully lined in lightweight white fabric:

Under the dress on the back of Snow's neck, there's a copyright mark, a print of Monika Peter-Leicht's signature, and my particular doll's edition number:

She is #100 in an edition of 350.
The skirt is made out of a lightweight pink cotton (cotton blend?):

The skirt is ruched on one side, exposing a layered lacy patch on the petticoat:

Other than the one lacy area, the petticoat is plain white with a lace hem:

There are four layers of stiff net sewn to the lower part of the petticoat:

The petticoat is separate from the pink and blue dress--in fact the dress looks nice with or without the undergarments.  The petticoat has an elastic waistband for easy dressing and undressing. 

Under the petticoat, Snow is wearing simple white bloomers with gathered elastic cuffs:

Her shoes are imitation patent leather.  They are very thin and papery in feel, but I like the style:

The shoes have velcro straps and each is decorated with a plastic rhinestone ornament:

The shoes have stitched details, but are mostly glued together.  Traces of the yellowed glue can be seen along the inside edges of each shoe:

The outfit is fine, and seems durable, but I don't think it adds anything special to the doll.  Because these dolls are large enough to wear real children's clothing, I suspect many of them are redressed by their owners.  I know that I purchased Snow with ideas about how I would redress her.

The articulation of Masterpiece dolls has changed quite a lot over the years, and there are multiple articulation options within each collection.  Snow White has eleven joints, but I don't think the movement of these joints is exactly the same as it is on the current dolls.

Snow is strung with white elastic and all of her joints are held together with this elastic except for her hips.  Her hips are set into her torso and have simple rotational movement.

Snow has a funny profile from head to toe.  I like her little belly, but it's hard to get her to balance when she's standing straight up, and so she often looks tipped over and subsequently pot-bellied:

If I use her long arms as counterweights, I can get her to stand up a little straighter:

This position makes her belly look better:

Snow's shoulder joints can rotate around, but they can't move away from her body very much.  She also can't hold her arms up very well.  The few pictures I have where she has raised arms were very tricky to set up.  

Her elbows are ball jointed and have a bit more movement.

The upper and lower arm pieces are cut at an angle near the joint.  This allows the lower arm to bend about 20 degrees towards the body:

The lower arm can also be rotated around so that it can bend about 10 degrees away from the body:

The two arm pieces intersect around a large ball.  This joint can be surprisingly unobtrusive in some positions, but if the elbow is crooked or twisted at a funny angle, the joint is unattractive.

The wrists can rotate all of the way around, but they don't have much bending movement.  The pictures below show the full extent of their bending flexibility:

The hands are nicely detailed on both sides, with small palm lines and painted fingernails:

She has a mild case of banana fingers.
Snow's hips are angle-cut, and so she can't sit without her legs splaying all of the way out to the sides.  This makes her excellent at the side-to-side splits, but she can't sit in a chair or on the ground with her knees or feet anywhere near each other.  

The hip articulation was a huge disappointment to me.  This doll is shown on the website sitting beautifully, but I have no idea how they managed to do this.  I think she must not be sitting down as much as it appears--just half-sitting on a small stool, perhaps?  That big skirt can hide a lot of things.

Snow can also do the front-to-back splits, and her knees can rotate to help make this position look more natural:

While the knees can rotate nicely, they don't have a lot of bending motion.  Also, they can't hold any bent poses without support--the joint will just snap back into a straight position.

I have to hold the leg in this position.
Her feet are really nice with carefully-painted toenails:

I don't have many other dolls this size to compare to Snow White.  My tallest doll is Annette Himstedt's Annalisa.  She is also fully jointed, and stands about 48 inches tall.  

Himsetdt "Annalisa," Masterpiece "Snow White."
Annalisa makes an interesting comparison to Snow White for reasons other than her size.  I feel like the larger Masterpiece dolls really started to become popular after Himstedts were discontinued.  There just aren't many dolls in this size range, and Masterpiece filled a void.  I can't speak for other collectors, but I was drawn to Himsedts for two reasons: because of their gorgeous construction and creative artistry, and because of how close they come to being life-sized.  For those who can bear to remove their wonderful original outfits, these dolls can be redressed into real children's clothing.  There's a mothering instinct and an emotional reaction that make this type of larger doll appealing to me.

Masterpiece didn't fill the artistry void that Himstedt left behind, but they did choose to cater to the collectors who are looking for a life-sized doll that can be redressed and posed like a child.

The problem (at least with Snow White) is that she actually is life-sized...and heavy, which makes her much harder to handle than a standard Himstedt doll.  Here's Snow next to a more typical Himstedt, the club doll from 2005, Ntathi:

Himstedt "Ntathi, Masterpiece "Snow White."
At 38 inches, Ntathi is still impressively large, but she's small enough to be carried around.  Her cloth waist also makes her easier to manage--it reduces her overall weight and allows her to bend and fold easily into a number of different carry-able positions.  Ntathi can't stand on her own, but she sits perfectly in a number of positions.  Her exposed joints might not look pretty, but they are sturdy, move extremely well, and hold their positions: 

One of my favorite dolls of all time.

Himstedts and Masterpiece dolls don't have much in common beyond their size and their resemblance to real children.  Towards the end of their run, Himstedts were priced in the $1,000 range, while Masterpiece dolls are only now creeping over $300.  However, Himstedt dolls are works of art.  They were made in Germany out of high-quality vinyl.  They have custom glass eyes and hand-knotted human hair or mohair wigs.  Their faces are hand painted with exceptional detail.  They are dressed in unusual and highly detailed handmade outfits.  They were produced in themed collections with imaginative stories.  I miss them.

Anyway, to show you Snow's impressive size next to some more typical dolls, here she is meeting one of my 23" My Twinn girls:

And carrying an armful of play dolls in the 12" scale:

Snow White by Monika Peter-Leicht
Disney "Elsa," Monster High "Toralei," Bandai "Dorothy."
And last, here she is with my 18" American Girl doll, Keira:

Snow White by Monika Peter-Leicht

Taking a 42 inch, 15 pound doll outside was not as easy as I had hoped.  However, I did want to show you some photographs of Snow in the natural light.  I didn't make it past my own backyard for these pictures (and the lighting was a little funny that day) but it did seem appropriate to get a few shots of Snow White in the woods:

Snow White by Monika Peter-Leicht

I found this old railroad tie and wanted to pose Snow sitting down, but as you can see...she is not an elegant sitter:

There also weren't many pretty flowers to pick in my backyard...just a few weeds:

Snow's black hair glistens in the sun and looks gorgeous with the red ribbon.  I wish there was more red in this doll's factory outfit.

Snow White by Monika Peter-Leicht

When I decided to purchase this doll, I had a vision for what I wanted her to look like.  A few things contributed to this vision.  First, I knew I would have to change her eyes, and furthermore I wanted to change her eyes to make them more like the incredible Himstedt doll eyes.  Second, while I like this doll's wig, it seems too long to be typical for a child in the four or five-year-old age range.  Third, I wanted to find a new outfit in Disney's yellow, blue and red Snow White palette...but modernized for a young girl.  I also wanted the outfit to be a little more special.  Let's see how all of that went!

To change the eyes, I had to remove Snow's wig and get inside her head.  The Masterpiece website has a wonderful collection of videos describing how to do a variety of customization and improvement projects, including re-stringing the dolls, removing their wigs, and changing their eyes.  These were very helpful.

I pried Snow's wig away from her head with a small screwdriver--starting at the back to minimize the risk of slipping and scratching her face.  The wig's thin canvas cap tore in two or three places as I was removing it, which was sad.

Without her wig, Snow's ears are easier to see:

It's also possible to see some inscriptions on the back of the doll's head.  There's a "MPL 2010" mark near the neck joint:

And Monika Peter-Leicht's full signature across the back of the head (covered with wig glue residue):

The head has a hole in the top that is covered with a black pate.  This pulled right off with no tool use:

Inside the head, you can see the white elastic cords tied through four plastic balls:

One of the plastic balls is necessary to anchor the elastic inside the head, and I think the extra balls must be to keep the elastic knot within reach for tightening the strings (?).

I used a screwdriver to pry the knots in the elastic loose, and pulled the head off.  I re-tied the elastic  from the neck through one of the plastic keep it from falling into the doll's body.

The hole in Snow's head is not big enough for my hand, so (following the video instructions) I heated the top of the head with a heat gun and cut a larger hole:

If the dolls are meant to be customization-friendly, the company could make this step a whole lot easier.  Not everyone has a heat gun laying around (thank you to my husband for this!).

The larger hole made it possible to peek into the head and see how the eyes are attached.  The backs of the eyes are covered with vinyl, but as you can see below, there are slits already cut into the vinyl at the backs of the eyes.  I pulled those circles of vinyl off mostly with my fingers...and just a bit of help from an X-ACTO knife.

The chemical smell of this doll intensified when I heated and cut into her head, confirming that it is the vinyl producing the unpleasant odor.  

Something else that troubled me at this stage was the appearance of the vinyl inside the head. It looks like it has two layers--a smooth darker layer at the top with a crumbling pale layer underneath:

High quality in the top third with low quality underneath, maybe?
The inner texture can be seen better on the underside of the loop of vinyl that I cut away from the top of the head:

It's spotted and friable and reminds me of the vinyl on the Frozen knockoff dolls I reviewed a while ago:

I was very carful with this piece of vinyl, because it was threatening to completely crumble apart.

Peering back inside the head, you can see the little white dots in this vinyl and a few hairline cracks:

Speaking of hairline cracks, here are the removed eyes:

Each eye has four or five cracks in it, and a few of them get really close to the blue irises:

The backs of these eyes are hollow, and you can see the layered construction.  Each eye has an opaque white base covered with a layer of clear acrylic.

Here's a peek back into the head with the eyes gone.  Once the vinyl at the back of the eyes was removed, I simply had to push on the eyes until they popped out.

Here's eyeless Snow...looking a little creepy!

I didn't even have to remove her eyelashes.
So, this might sound strange, but I happened to have a few pairs of glass eyes in the back of my closet.  These are left over from my own sculpting days.  The ones I picked are a size 26, a size that I never found any use for myself.  They are mouth-blown German eyes, and cost me about $40 a decade ago.

They cost more like $50 now.

Fortunately, these fit perfectly into Snow's eye sockets:

The stemmed backs on these eyes make them easy to manipulate, and so I tried out a variety of side-glancing positions:

I finally settled on a left-facing glance, but I glued everything with Fabri-tac, which is easy to remove if I should ever change my mind.

The outfit in my vision was easier to find that I anticipated.  I simply searched for a "blue and yellow sundress" and happened upon a lovely Etsy shop that offers pretty much exactly what I was looking for.  It is a cotton sundress with a blue and white striped bodice and a yellow skirt.  I simply asked the shop owner to replace the white bow at the waist with a red one...which she did without any extra charge.

I ordered size 4T for Snow.
The shop is called "Loopsy Baby" and I highly recommend it...for kids or dolls.

The dress was made to this doll's chest measurements, but I failed to account for the protruding tummy.  Despite the working buttons on each shoulder strap, I was not able to pull the dress up over Snow's belly.  So, while I managed to get the dress on, it's only because Snow's head was off and I could slip the dress over her neck stub: 

It's never coming off.

Last, I ordered a dark brown bobbed wig for Snow.  I like this style for a young girl, and I also think that really dark brown is a more common color than pitch black.  I ordered the wig from Just Mom and Me Dolls.  It's a size 17-18 (which is the largest they offer) and it is just barely big enough.

A bit of a squeeze.
In fact, the other 17-18 wig I ordered (in red, of course) doesn't fit at all.

Waaaay too small.
Loopsy Baby included a red hair bow with the dress, which could not be more perfect:

I left Snow's original bloomers on, partly because the dress is a little short, but also because I think they look cute:

I wanted to pose Snow with another Snow White doll, but the only one I still have is a Zapf Little Princess Snow White, who arrived with horribly wonky eyes and has not made it out of her box:

Look at how bad the screening is on this doll:

So, here's Snow playing with Zapf Cinderella instead:

Re-doing Snow White was a fun project for me, and I really love the doll's new look.  However, it's important to note that I paid over $100 for extra materials to make all of the changes to this doll.  As much as I love art projects, I think $350 is too much to spend on this kind of activity.

I am thinking about calling my remade doll "Eirwyn," a beautiful Welsh name that means "white as snow."  From what I understand, this name is pronounced "ayr-win."

I made a bigger effort with my outdoor pictures the second time around, and (with the help of my gallant husband) carried Eirwyn all of the way through the local 1/2 mile woodland path to a nearby frog pond.  My arms are a lot stronger now than they used to be!

At first, Eirwyn was nervous about getting too close to the muddy banks...

It's Maine, honey, get used to it.
I love how naturally the new wig catches the light!
But she quickly became fascinated by all of the frogs and forgot to worry about the mud.  At this time of year, it's possible to stand in one spot and count up to ten frogs and tadpoles in the water!

Hi there.

There were wildflowers to pick along the banks of the pond, too, many of which coordinated beautifully with Eirwyn's outfit:

We were getting a million mosquito bites, but these didn't bother Eirwyn.  Maybe the vinyl odor is a natural bug repellent?  She was pretty upset with me when I suggested that it might be time to leave...

My dress isn't even muddy yet!
 But she managed to pull herself together for one last portrait against the greenery:

Bottom line?  It's tricky to categorize this doll.  I think of most dolls as falling into the play doll or art doll category.  Fashion dolls might deserve their own separate category, but that's a debate for another day.  So, let's look at the play and art doll categories as they relate to Snow:

Play doll?  Play dolls are typically less expensive...and easy to play with.  Snow White is not cheap, but for a doll as large as she is, her price seems more in the play doll range.  More importantly, this doll can't be played with.  First of all, she's too heavy: I had a hard time manipulating her joints and wrestling her 15 pound body into different poses.  Furthermore, while she's highly articulated, the mobility in the joints is limited and she can't hold a lot of her poses.  As much as I appreciate articulation, I don't think this doll's joints contribute enough to justify their appearance and increased maintenance.  Her clothes are user-friendly, but again, the sheer size and mass of the doll make her hard to dress and undress.  She's really not a play doll.

Art doll?  Art dolls tend to be expensive, very high-quality, and offer a unique artistic perspective.  First and foremost, Snow White's quality is not high enough for her to be an art doll--which is reflected in her relatively low price.  Her acrylic eyes came cracked in several places, and I have heard that this is an ongoing problem.  Regardless of the doll category, quality issues like this are unacceptable.  Also, her vinyl is crumbling on the inside and has a strong odor.  My guess is that she has higher quality vinyl only on the outer layer of her body.  I have no idea how this will hold up over time, but it makes me nervous.  Last, her clothes are generic and made out of ordinary, thin fabrics.  The doll is clearly produced with economy in mind.  So...she is not an art doll, either.

I guess I'd call Masterpiece dolls "display dolls" or "decorative dolls." They're not marketed for kids, but rather for people like me who love children and have an emotional reaction to anything that reminds them of the beloved kids in their life.  Most of the dolls are well-sculpted and really cute to look at.  However, the quality issues hold me back from fully endorsing these dolls.  The fondness I feel for my Snow White has a lot to do with the changes I made to her, and this kind of effort and added expense should not be necessary.  

With her beautiful glass eyes, handmade dress, and new wig, Snow White is a doll that I will enjoy displaying.  Redone like this, she strikes me as the doll world's equivalent of the huge (but affordable) Melissa and Doug stuffed animals.  Those aren't made as well as Steiff or Hansa plush, but they're certainly not carnival prize caliber, either.  I really wish the Masterpiece quality was more solid, because realistic, life-sized pieces like Snow White have the potential to trigger strong emotions and ignite the imagination...without needing to be regarded as art, and without ever being used for conventional play.


  1. Witaj Emily. Twoja recenzja jest bardzo ciekawa i dokładna! Wspaniale zmieniłaś stylizację Snow White na śliczną, małą dziewczynkę! To bardzo ładna lalka ale zastanawia mnie jej niedopracowanie w kilku miejscach. Nie powinno być takich mankamentów. Dziękuję za opis i pozdrawiam bardzo serdecznie!

    1. Dziękuję Olla! Szkoda o wadach, ale cieszę się, że podoba jej nowy wygląd.

  2. I really enjoyed this post, probably because I love customising dolls to make them 'mine'. I love what you've done with your Snow White, she's so much nicer now than she started out, the eyes, wig and outfit make such a difference. I too miss the Himstedt dolls although no longer own any purely because of their large size, I found them hard to display as they took up so much room!
    Thanks for yet another great review, I shouldn't read them though because now I'm wanting a big doll again!
    Hugs Sharon in Spain x

    1. Hi Sharon--thank you for your nice comment! I really agree about the size. These huge dolls are so hard to display and store, but there's something magnetic about them, isn't there? I really loved the time of year when Ms. Himstedt would release her new catalogue--admiring all of those wonderful pictures even if I wasn't planning to buy.

      It's neat that you enjoy customizing your dolls. I usually feel nervous about starting these projects, but am often surprised by how fun and rewarding customization can be!

    2. I am really wanting some large life like dolls and this doll is so precious..she needed the big update too. I really would love to have one as tall and realistic as ANNALISSA doll 48" that is awesome!!!! Cannot find those. Maybe someone will start making these dolls up again and market them. Maybe??

  3. Hi Emily! Even though it seems these dolls have quaility issues, I'm very drawn to them. Erwin's new glass eyes, dress, and wig are beautiful on her! Have you ever done an Ellowayne Wilde review? Thanks!
    Zoë from - -

    1. Hi Zoë! These dolls do manage to shine through the flaws! I think that is a huge credit to the artists and the cute faces they make.

      I have never reviewed Ellowyne, no. I owned one once, but she had inset eyes and I was not crazy about her. However, I have a guest reviewer who might help me out with this! Yay! :D

  4. Great review, and just love your "customized" Snow White! I have MasterPiece Sarah and also Riley, and I do keep an eye on them for the next time I have enough "dolly dollars". I've been generally pleased with the quality of mine, but I agree they are rather large for a child's play doll.

    Barb :)

    1. Hi Barb, thank you!! I'm glad you have not had these same issues with quality--that's great to hear. Riley is so cute! She is from 2010 like Snow, right? I have to admit that I am still pretty curious about the smaller (32"-36") toddler dolls, since they seem easier to manage and better for actual playing. I love Monika Peter-Leicht's Cherie and Ann and would love to see their vinyl quality and joints in person some day!

  5. She looked so much better after you customized her. However, I think I'll stick with american girl.(next time I won't think much about paying $110 for a doll) She is very pretty though.

    1. Thank you! :)

      Yeah, the $300-and-up prices of the newest Masterpiece dolls seem ok for the massive size of the dolls, but when I start to think about that in terms of 3 American Girl type dolls or 14 or so Monster High dolls....then it seems really, really high!! :-O

  6. Your customized doll reminds me a lot of the little girl who played Matilda in the movie version of the Roald Dahl book "Matilda"- they both have the same haircut and deep, thoughtful eyes- very pretty!

    1. Oh, wow! You're right--Mara Wilson! Good call. I just read something about her--I think maybe she's a writer as an adult. She was adorable as Matilda. Now I want to name my doll Matilda. ;)

  7. I definitely like this doll about ten times more AFTER you customised her.

    1. Thank you, Rachael--that is super-nice of you! I always get a little nervous about changing a doll, but this one really needed to be fixed, so it was an easier decision. :)

  8. Amazing review Emily. You shouldn't worry to much when you alter a doll, the last times you've altered a doll you improved! It's a little scary when you really realize how big she actually is, like when she was holding Keira up, american girl dolls are already big enough me thank you.

    1. Sorry, for me ;D in the sentence " American girl dolls are already big enough for me "
      ( Forgot to wright " for me " ) like just now I almost forgot the word wright.
      Sorry for any typos.

    2. LOL! Don't worry about typos, Alice! :D I think my brain just skips over things like that and I don't even notice!

      Thank you so much for your nice comment--I do get nervous about changing dolls and ruining them (I have ruined a few...), but it's fun when everything works out kind-of the way I hoped!

      This doll is scary-big. Very true. My dogs (and maybe my boys?) are literally scared of her!! :) It's amazing how she makes even American Girl dolls (and Himstedts!) look small. She has quite a presence in the room, though, I must say!

  9. this scares me a little doll in some photos looks like a real girl

    1. She's startled me a few times standing around the house, too! Especially at night with the new eyes...they are very realistic and bright. I almost expect her to move on her own! Eeep!

  10. She's so cute!I like how you re wigged her!However I think she is too big and will stick to smaller dolls for now...

    1. Thank you so much, Ashley! I do like how this doll makes American Girl and My Twinn dolls seem so small and easy to manage! I won't grumble about re-dressing any of my other dolls for a looong time! ;)

  11. Oh! Your sister has Let's Play Dress Up Again, Tori...and Aurora! Three of my favorites from all of my online searching. I'm pretty sure I spent some time looking at these same pictures and really admiring Tori, in particular. She's adorable.

    I love the diversity in your sister's collection--Zwergnase, Himstedt, Moxie Teenz..even some of the older Sigikids (LOVE). That's my kind of collection. :D Thank you for sharing the link.

    It really is the stunning collector pictures of these dolls that bring them to life--that is a very good observation. The dolls seem to offer a good canvas for the imaginations of their owners....which is no small thing.

  12. Congratulations Emily! You did an amazing job with her! She looks 100 times better! She is a truly unique doll now. The dress you selected for her is charming and the the outdoor photos are beautiful! Makes me want to go for a walk the there too :)

  13. nice work; but I must comment the fact that MPL her current dolls can sit whtith knees together.

  14. I have an Amber on order. Thank you for the review. I'm not one to customize myself so I hope the eyes are ok when she arrives. The plan for Amber is to redress her and sit her in an old kids rocking chair. Very much a display item. Just like my reborn infant is.

  15. What an interesting doll! I think I would be intimidated by the size (I think 70cm or so is my personal limit when it comes to doll heights), but it's still wonderful to see all the details of the larger ones. And your customization really do improve the overall look of her as well.

    And now I'm curious to read more about those "bizarre clay babies"!

  16. Thanks, Emily. I'm sure my sister will be really happy that you liked her collection. I'm very proud of her. I'm looking forward to her seeing what you did with Snow White. She also does reborns, (Didn't you once restore a vintage baby doll?) but I don't recall her considering customizing a Masterpiece. I, too, am impressed you had the courage to customize a doll as large as Snow White. After seeing Aurora "in person" that takes real courage, but as you showed us the reward of creating a more beautiful doll can be even greater..One last thing... if you like reborns at all I would recommend the Golden Giggles Nursery site. Her work is outstanding.

  17. When I first started out reading this post and saw "I should warn you up front, though, that by the end of the review the doll won't look much like this anymore", I thought "Oh Emily, PLEASE don't tell me you destroyed a $239 Masterpiece doll!" But in the end, she turned out beautifully!

  18. Hello Emily and thank you for your gorgeous blog, it's one of my favorites! I have a little question for you and other doll collectors. It doesn't really relate to this particular post but anyway: what do you think is the key difference between a doll and an action figure? As I've understood it, dolls practically always have at least some clothes made of fabric, but to my knowledge so do some of the toys considered as "action figures". Is it, to some extent, a matter of marketing? Thank you for everyone who bothers to answer :)

  19. I saw the last few pictures after you fixed her up and have her in the woods, She looks like a real child O.o

  20. You should definitely review an Adora 20 inch doll, I've always wondered about how their bodies are

  21. Finding this post was perfect timing as I just played with the idea to buy Snow White to add to my collection of big Masterpiece 'children'. I loved the pictures showing her from every angle, the way I have never seen her before on her public pictures (which are mostly frontal views).
    I love the dissection of every fault she has ,like that she can't sit with legs in front and that her ears are big and she has no jaw. I loved the original wig ,until I saw her in the new one you gave her.Than I couldn't believe the change! Much more realistic. Like a real child on some photos. The eye change was fantastic.What an improvement! Why can't they come with real glass eyes from the factory? Also all the masterpiece dolls seem to get eyes which are sometimes just too big for the faces.It changes their appearance from the initial sculpted artist doll (take Sasha, who looked totally different mas produced with her enormous eyes ,while on the stock photos she looked quite cute with much smaller eyes.
    Anyway. What put me off buying her now is that she is difficult to pose and to bring the arms and legs into position,as you mentioned. I do love her face, but I want an easy to pose doll as I like to take photos. Really love the way you transformed her.
    Thanks for the detailed review. :)
    Greetings from Irene (reborn artist and doll collector)

  22. Brilliant post. Thank you for the beautifully neutral comments, both positive and negative and the lovely photos. I haven't produced any new dolls for Masterpiece because they haven't asked me. Mass production does tend to eliminate a lot of the original detail work and produce a few unwanted side effects but I guess it really is a question of economy. I'm sure there is a vast market for these type of "realistic" child dolls but, in my opinion, Masterpiece needs more variety.

  23. Hi, only one question...
    Where do you keep all those dolls?
    I think it is a little bit creepy to wake up in the middle of the night and see a realistic doll such this one looking at you from the darkness... ó__ò

  24. I'd love to see some pictures of the dolls that you have sculpted. Pretty please?

  25. Hi Emily,
    I own many dolls, mostly antique,and a few life-size dolls like Annalisa, Patti Playpals etc. Normally I don't like the faces on MD too cartoonish, then I saw MD Emily and had to have her.
    While researching rewigging and reborning MD I found your blog. Considering real reborn dolls are many hundreds or thousands, I could not believe what you we're able to do with Snow White.
    I have been admiring her for a couple of years now, and had her photo on my desktop... I was even going to email you about doing another doll for me.

    Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. (May 2017) I was browsing the doll section of eBay and couldn't believe my eyes (and good fortune) There was your Snow White reborn just listed as a BIN. I bought her immediately!!
    Considering she is 7+ years old, she is in minty cond.and is now in my doll room making new friends!
    I could write a book about being able to find things I really want, even the most improbable rare things. (maybe it might have something to do with dabbling in Wicca in the past? LOL)
    Thank you, thank you for making such a fantastic, realistic doll My MD Emily is already wanting to be a big sister to her.
    As I look at her, I am still in disbelief and awe that she is now mine.. I only wonder how you could have given her up?

    1. So cool that you happened to find this exact doll on eBay and give her a new home! what a small world! :D

  26. Welp, you just created Matilda:

    I really love how she came out in the end, much better than when you received her. However, I'm afraid to see that the inner vinyl is crumbling. Makes me wonder how long will it last if you move the doll around. If by only cutting the head the vynil was already getting this much damage...
    I think MasterPiece should take into consideration that 200+ $/€ is not cheap, and we expect at least some quality, not a doll with crumbling innards.

    Anyways, she looks lovely. I don't know if you still have her, because you haven't mentioned her anymore, but I hope she's somewhere in hour house, watching over the smaller dolls.

    1. Per my prior post to this website, I purchased "Eirwyn"on eBay last month (May, 2017) The seller was not Emily, but does also live in Maine.
      The doll is still minty, and I notice no deterioration or smells. The doll looks every bit as good in person she does in Emily's pictures on this site.
      The only flaw, if you could call it that, is that she has the larger cut out on top of her head in order to replace the eyes, however, it is totally covered by her thick wig.
      I had admired this doll for a couple of years now, snd I still can't believe not only that she went on eBay, but that Ibjust happened to bump into the listing by accident and was able to win her!

  27. I am an avid Male Doll collector and i happen to own this particular Snow white Doll.Do you have any suggestions for me,as to how to best approach customizing this doll step by step with caution to ensure a maximized final result? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!Thanks ta all in advance for your help.