Friday, March 27, 2015

Travel Friends "India" and "Ireland" by Madame Alexander

Ok, first things first: I saw Cinderella last week and absolutely loved it.  I went into the theater with very (very!) high expectations, granted, and I can't say that those expectations were completely met, but I did really enjoy the movie and cried through about half of it (both sad and happy tears).  I think Richard Madden is absolutely perfect as the prince (named "Kit," apparently).  Cate Blanchett is luminescent as Lady Tremaine, but Helena Bonham-Carter's plucky Fairy Godmother doesn't have enough screen time.  Some of the characters are left underdeveloped (Fairy Godmother and stepsisters), while others (Lady Tremaine and the king) are given new depth.  Lily James sparkles as Ella, with a tender-hearted and lovable version of the character.  Her chemistry with Kit is fantastic.  Ms. James' version of Cinderella doesn't have quite enough spunk to trump Drew Barrymore in Ever After, that remains my favorite live action Cinderella movie.  I am off to see Cinderella again on Sunday, and probably two or three more times after that.  It's wonderful.

Today's review doesn't have anything to do with Cinderella, though.  This review is based on another excellent reader suggestion.  My friend Nadine (who knows how much I like miniature things...) purchased one of the Madame Alexander mini dolls at Toys R Us a few weeks ago, and she suggested that I do this review--thinking I might particularly enjoy the articulation on these new minis.  I had already seen Char's review of these dolls over on Doll Diaries, but wanted to get a look at them in person.  The minis, called "Travel Friends," are about 7 inches tall and are available for $12.99.  The collection includes 9 girls who each represent a different country (Ireland, India, China, Germany, Russia, Kenya and France).  I purchased Ireland (for her red hair, of course) and India (because I thought she was the prettiest):

Madame Alexander "Travel Friends" dolls
Madame Alexander "Travel Friends," $12.99 each. 
As an aside, I first noticed these dolls on Amazon a few months ago, and back then they were selling for $16.95 each.  Since their recent introduction at Toys R Us, however, the price seems to have dropped (permanently?) down to $12.99 at most locations...although they are still listed for $16.95 on the Madame Alexander website.  I will use the $13 price in this review since it is the most common at the moment (and it is the most reasonable).

The dolls come in cardboard window boxes decorated with neon pink and baby blue:

I'll open the Ireland doll first and the India doll at the end of the post.

The box has passport stamp graphics along its angled edges and a variety of cartoons on the back:

At the top, there's an illustrated map of Ireland:

At the bottom, there's a short paragraph in the Irish girl's voice and a cartoon drawing of her:

The character is not given a name, which is a shame.  I think it would be great to have each doll come with a name authentic to their country.  To name my girls, I looked up the most popular name for that country for 2014.  The Irish name I found is Sophie (that was the second most popular name, actually, but the first was Emily...which didn't seem right).

Sophie enjoys Irish step dancing, apparently.  The picture on the box shows her in a dancing pose, but it doesn't look like a classic step dancing position.

The box opens at both ends, but it isn't easy to pull the backdrop out.

The backdrop looks like it will slide out like a drawer, but it's actually glued to the outer box and so it has to be forcibly torn out.  That seems unnecessarily complicated to me.

Here's the removed backdrop:

Sophie is attached with wire ties around her wrists, ankles and neck.  The wire ties are strung through molded plastic supports at the doll's neck and feet.  This makes it hard to cut those particular ties.

There are also little plastic ties in Sophie's dress, which are irritating and unnecessary:

Here's Sophie (finally) removed from her box:

She balances well on her own, especially when she is wearing her shoes.

She has beautiful, long, shiny red hair.  The color is very natural and pretty and the hair fiber feels smooth and silky.  There's no coarseness at all, but the fiber does have a very slight synthetic stickiness.

Sophie's face is hard to photograph, though, because she has a very thick wedge of bangs hanging over her forehead:

The bangs cast a shadow over her bright green eyes:

The longer hair is pulled back at the sides, but this style just magnifies the volume of the protruding bangs:


B-b-b-bang to the bone.
I tried to pull the bangs back with a clear rubber band, but they are rooted in two widely-spaced rows, so it was hard to get all of them secured at once:

In the picture, above, you can see the patch of orange scalp that lies between the two rows of bangs.

This was the best I could do for getting the hair clear of Sophie's face:

She has an oval-shaped face with characteristic Madame Alexander features.  I really appreciate that these mini dolls are recognizable as Madame Alexander creations--clearly not a copy of another company's idea or design.

Sophie has a flattened profile and a very broad forehead:

Her eyes are painted with two shades of olive green and accented with auburn eyelashes.  There are no lash lines underneath the eyes, which makes the eyes look a little unbalanced and two-dimensional.  Both the eyelashes and the eyebrows are drawn with a single line and three small spikes to suggest the texture of the hair:

The eyebrow spikes teeter on the edge of creating an evil glare.
Sophie has a pink rosebud-shaped mouth that is perhaps her most identifiable Madame Alexander feature:

The hair at the top of Sophie's head got messed up by the rubber bands, so I took down the hair to brush it out:

The areas at the side of Sophie's face that were pulled back into a ponytail are longer than the rest of the hair.  I'll probably put the hair back into its original style, or trim the sides so that they match.

While the rooting pattern in the bangs is not great, the rest of the hair is rooted nicely for this size of doll, and feels appropriately thick.

Sophie is wearing a green dress with a jersey knit top and a printed cotton skirt.  The dress is all one piece and closes in the back with velcro:

The waistline of the dress is accented with a kelly green satin ribbon.  The ribbon is sewn too close to the top on one side, which is causing the edges to fray:

I don't really like the color of the belt on this dress--it's too shamrock-green for my taste.  I think a light brown belt (with no bow) would have been more subtle.  In contrast, the skirt has a pattern that resembles shamrocks without being too cliché or tacky.  The hem of the skirt is trimmed with white, slightly iridescent lace.

With the tiny exception of the fraying ribbon, this is a very well-constructed dress that's easy to use.

Sophie is wearing green vinyl shoes with painted bows and black soles:

These shoes have a lot of color and detail for their size:

Sophie's torso is made out of hard plastic and her limbs are made out of slightly flexible vinyl.  She stands just over 7.5 inches high and has an impressive nine points of articulation.  It is rare for a mini doll to have this many joints:

Sophie's head can only swivel around with simple rotation:

Her shoulder and elbow joints are rotating hinges, though.  Her shoulders have great range of motion.  Her arms can spin around and lift up above her head:

And they can also hinge upwards to about 120 degrees:

When Sophie was clothed, I actually assumed that she didn't have any elbow movement at all.  Her arms were very straight and didn't show any signs of bending.  In fact, it is quite difficult to get the elbow joints to move for the first time.  I think the softer vinyl construction of the arms makes for a sticky joint.  Even after flexing and extending the elbow multiple times, the movement is still stiff.

The lower arms can rotate around and the elbow joints bend to about 120 degrees, which is a little shy of how much I'd like them to bend, but much better than no bending at all:

Sophie can just barely rest her hand on her hip.  She can touch her forehead, but not her face.  She is also pretty good at waving:

Sophie's hips are rotating hinges and can do full side-to-side splits:

However, the front-back movement is not as extensive:

The limited flexibility in this area is due to the shape of the hip socket.  It has a large indentation at the front, but is flat at the back:

So, while Sophie's front kick is impressive:

She can't move her leg backwards to the same degree:

The shape of the hip joint is perfect for having Sophie sit on the ground--even with her feet pointing straight ahead:

She can also sit with her legs out to the side--or with just one leg off to the side:

Sophie has hinged knees with a peg insertion that rotates--just like Monster High.  The knees bend almost to 90 degrees, so they're perfect for sitting in a chair:

Notice the big gaps at the joint, though.
I also had a difficult time getting Sophie's knee joints to bend for the first time.  This is probably in part because of the soft vinyl construction, but also because there are some molding defects and vinyl remnants at the knee that cause the joint to stick:

Sophie can balance in a kneeling position:

The bending knees also add a lot of character to Sophie's other sitting positions:

The knee joints looks very loose in several positions and they seem to take on a lot of strain when the knee is being bent.  The peg of the lower leg looks like it would be very easy to pull out, although I tried pretty hard and couldn't get it to budge.

The gaps and movement in the knee joint when it is being manipulated make it seem quite fragile--like it will break right off.  The soft vinyl (the very thing that makes the joint so hard to move) is probably also what keeps this joint from snapping apart the first time it is used. If the joints were made out of hard plastic, they'd probably move better, but they'd also be more fragile.  There's clearly a tricky balance being struck here.

Sophie can still balance on her own without shoes, but it's a little harder to get her to stand solidly when she's barefoot.  She can stand when she's in a very restrained walking position, thanks in part to the rotation in her lower legs making it possible to fine-tune her balance:

The Madame Alexander Travel Friends are taller than American Girl and Our Generation mini dolls:

Our Generation "Sienna," American Girl "Kaya," Madame Alexander "Ireland," American Girl "Kit" (older style).
However, despite the differences in height, there's actually a fair amount of clothes-sharing that can be done among this group.

American Girl mini clothes fit Sophie (despite being a little short) and while Sophie's dress is too long on Kaya, it's not as ill-fitting as I assumed it would be:

Sophie in American Girl clothes, Kaya in Travel Friends clothes.

Shoes can also be shared reasonably well between these two brands.

Our Generation mini tops fit Sophie very well, but O.G. Sienna's skirt is too loose and keeps sliding off.  The Our Generation shoes are too big for Sophie as well.

Sophie is more similar in overall size to dolls like Tonner's Patsyette and Kish's Riley-sized characters:

Tonner "Patsyette," Madame Alexander "Ireland," Kish "Mary and Her Little Lamb."
Patsyette clothes should fit Sophie well, because this Kickit dress looks great (Tonner Kickits have the same body as Patsyette...):

Although the shoes can't quite buckle.
The best news of all is that Sophie's dress fits Patsyette almost perfectly.  This is excellent news because Patsyette's own wardrobe is, in my opinion, way too expensive.

The Kish clothes are too big for Sophie, though:

Sophie's dress can fit on a Kish Riley doll, but it won't close all of the way in back and the sleeves are hard to get over the doll's splayed fingers.

Here's Sophie back in her original dress:

It was difficult to keep Sophie's hair tidy during this review.  Despite the lovely look and feel of the hair, it tends to have a lot of kinked hairs and flyaways.  The hair fiber also holds on to bends and has trouble falling straight in some areas.  It might be nylon fiber, since these are some typical features of nylon.  I am not sure about this.

Notice how messy the hair is getting in this picture:

Now, I'd like to show you the Travel Friends "India" doll.  This doll didn't come with a name, either, and so I gave her the most popular girl baby name in India from 2014: Aadhya (pronounced AHD-ya).

Aadhya's box is very much like Sophie's, with a map of India and a short paragraph about the doll's character:

Aadhya very briefly describes the popular sport of cricket.  The cartoon drawing of her shows another generic dance pose--nothing to do with the subject of the text.

Here is Aadhya out of her box:

This doll seems to have the same face mold as Sophie, but she looks quite different with the darker makeup and eyes (and with the absence of overpowering bangs...):

Here's Aadhya next to Sophie so you can see the differences more clearly: 

Aadhya has larger, darker eyes and her lower eyelashes are present.  She also has perfectly smooth eyebrows with no hair lines.  After looking at these two dolls side-by-side, I went back to Toys R Us to see what other characters are available without bangs.  A doll with Sophie's hair texture and Aadhya's hairstyle would be really great.  Unfortunately, most of the dolls have bangs.  I think there's only one other doll who is bang-free.

Aadhya is wearing a wonderful little outfit.  Her dress has a bright pink embroidered top and a pleated yellow skirt.  Her neon yellow-ish green sandals seem a little out-of-place, but I really like the overall appearance of this doll.

The skirt on this dress is creased on the right side (from the packaging?) but I am assuming it will hang straight over time....

The fabric of the pink bodice has tiny metallic pink dots that are reminiscent of sequins. In the middle of the bodice is a blue embroidered elephant with gold thread detail.  The edges of the sleeves and neck are trimmed with gold braid:

The skirt is made out of shiny golden yellow fabric with lime embroidery.  It has the look of lush silk brocade.  The skirt comes with two white thread stitches in it.  It wasn't immediately clear to me what these were for, so I snipped them and pulled them out.

Underneath the pleated skirt of her dress, Aadhya is wearing a golden tulle petticoat:

The petticoat has a delicate metallic gold ric-rac trim:

The petticoat is separate from the rest of the dress:

Aadhya is wearing simple chartreuse neon sandals.  These don't have anywhere near the detail of Sophie's green shoes.

Aadhya has the same body as Sophie but in a different skin tone.  Unfortunately, this doll has several patches of discolored plastic and rubbed paint:

She also has an area of blemished vinyl under her arm, although this is difficult to appreciate in photographs:

Aadhya's knees are also plagued by scraps of cut vinyl and rough patches that make the joints difficult to move:

When I put Aadhya back into her dress, I realized why the petticoat must have been tacked to the skirt with white thread.  Without that thread, the petticoat falls down below the hemline of the skirt quite a lot:

I don't mind that the petticoat shows below the skirt--that's actually great, but the extent to which it hangs down seems like a mistake to me.

I really love this doll's face, though.  She has lovely features and extremely long, dark hair that doesn't overshadow those features:

Aadhya's hair does not have the same silky feel or shine as Sophie's red hair.  The fiber is soft, but it has a coarseness to it--almost like it has too much coloring added.  

Here's the hair let down from the braid so that you can see how long it is:

The color of this hair looks natural in these pictures, but in real life it has an almost purple tinge to it--again hinting that perhaps too much coloring was added.  

It's not very shiny, either.
Even though the dark hair frames Aadhya's face beautifully, I like the hair better when it is up in a braid.

Fortunately, it was very easy to get this hair back into its original style.

These Travel Friend dolls are a reasonable size to be used as younger siblings for some of the larger-headed 12-inch fashion dolls like Liv:

Liv Hayden with Travel Friends doll.
Expert babysitter that she is, though, Hayden had a hard time carrying Sophie around!  Perhaps Sophie is the right size to represent a five or six-year-old child...who doesn't always need to be carried.

Here's a lineup with the Disney Store's Rapunzel, and also the new Disney Store mini doll, Elsa (who is more the size of a two or three-year-old).  These three would make a pretty good family:

Mini Animators' "Elsa," Travel Friends "India," Disney Store "Rapunzel."
Here are a few more pictures of Aadhya:

I really like how she looks, above, with her feet tucked up next to her.  Hurrah for rotating knee articulation!

She also balances surprisingly well:

And here are a few last pictures of Sophie:

And last, here are some pictures of the two international friends together:

Bottom line?  This is a situation where I am very glad to have reviewed two dolls from the same new line.  I might have drawn different conclusions if I had reviewed either of these girls separately.  I'll quickly summarize my thoughts about each main feature of these dolls, and then contrast the two dolls within that category.

Body: I am so pleased to see a mini doll with nine points of articulation.  This is not a common occurrence in the doll world.  I really like the rotating hinge design of these joints, too, but I think the fact that the limbs are made out of soft vinyl causes some serious problems.  It is very difficult to get the elbow and knee joints to move at first, and even when they start to loosen, the movement is not smooth and the joints seem to be under a lot of stress.  The arms, in particular, are hard to bend when the elbows are covered with clothing and the joint lines can't be seen.  These dolls have a nice child-like body shape and good balance, though.
Sophie's body is mostly free of flaws, but Aadhya's body has discolored plastic, missing paint and several defects in the vinyl--particularly in the knee joints.

Face: these Travel Friends have facial features with the recognizable look of Madame Alexander.  They appear to be miniature versions of the Forever Friends or older My Life As dolls.  This might actually be my favorite thing about the whole line.  I love it when a doll company has their own distinct, familiar look that permeates the entire range of dolls.
I think both of my dolls have nice, relatable faces, but I prefer the overall appearance of Aadhya.  Sophie is missing lower lashes on her eyes, making them look like they're floating on her face.  Also, the small details in Sophie's eyebrows are a little odd.  I prefer Aadhya's smoother lines.

Hair: Both dolls have fairly nice hair that is well-rooted.  However, the similarities end there. Sophie's red hair is a beautiful color and feels very silky.  It has a nice shine and looks great.  However, the bangs on this doll are ridiculous.  They're rooted in two widely-spaced rows that make them thick and puffy. They stick out and cast a shadow over the doll's whole face. The hair also has a lot of kinked strands and flyaways that keep it from ever looking perfectly smooth and straight.  Aadhya's hair is not as silky or shiny as Sophie's. Also, the color has a purple cast that makes it look artificial.  On the other hand, the absence of bangs on this doll is wonderful and shows off her face really well.  I would not buy another Travel Friends doll with bangs.

Clothing: Both dolls have outfits that are well-made and easy to get on and off.  Sophie's dress is simple, with a jersey-knit top and cotton skirt.  The outfit hints at Ireland through the clover-print skirt and green color scheme.  The little vinyl shoes have great painted detail.  Overall, Sophie's outfit is nice, but a little generic.  Aadhya's dress is much more unique.  Her dress' embroidered elephant bodice and gold underskirt seem quite special--particularly for a $13 doll.  I only wish that the underskirt was fitted more accurately to the length of the dress and did not require stitches to hold it up.  Aadhya's basic shoes do not match the delicate quality of her dress.  I significantly prefer Aadhya's outfit, despite the simple shoes.

These dolls are a pretty good buy for $12.99.  Each of my characters has her own collection of imperfections, but overall I think the dolls are affordable and are likely to promote portable, versatile play.  They might even encourage a child's interest in other cultures.  The thing is, looking at this pair of dolls makes me really wish they'd lived up to their potential.  Aadhya, with her lovely face and interesting dress, would be so much better if she only had Sophie's hair texture, an unblemished body and detailed shoes.  Likewise, Sophie would be better without bangs and with a dress as interesting as Aadhya's.  And, if the well-articulated bodies were tweaked so that they moved smoothly, well, then we would have more than just a "pretty good buy"....we'd have a fantastic new collection of affordable mini dolls.


  1. Great review, as always!! I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I'm curious as to where you keep your doll clothes and accessories? Also, which doll would you recommend overall in the 18" scale? I have mostly American Girl dolls and I want to branch out to other brands.

    Thank you!!!!!


    1. Hi Clare, well...the clothes and accessories are all over the place right now since I can't move around normally! Ack! However, I will periodically get very organized and put all of the outfits and accessories in bags (one bag for each doll, so things stay together) and then store the bags in bins or drawers. Many of the bins are in my studio, but a few have to stay in the garage. It's a less-than-perfect system in a small house. :)
      Of the 18" dolls I own, my favorites are Maru and Friends Savannah, Maplelea Saila and maybe the custom My Twinn, Annie. However, the quality of My Twinn has taken a bit of a nosedive, so I'm not sure that's still a good pick. I also think Kidz 'n' Cats are worth a look--my Evita has a strange face, but some of the others are really lovely. I need to review another one of these dolls to give them a fair chance. Also, Tonner is coming out with an 18" line that might be worth watching. They look pretty cute and Tonner tends to do things well! It's really fun to branch out, but there are SO many options in this scale right now! Hard to pick.

    2. Another wonderful pick in the 18in doll market are Gotz dolls. They have beautiful faces and are of wonderful quality. They stand up to play for years and are wonderful treasures to pass down through the family. One of my favorites from Gotz are the "Little Sisters". I love how the neutral expression could be interpreted in so many ways. They have beautiful plastic quality and hair and they withstand years of play wonderfully and they seem to hold up great now despite being around 13 years old. The quality is just as good as American Girl, but I prefer the face. It can be much easier to find Gotz Little Sisters and Precious Day dolls under 100 dollars too. The body of the Little SIsters dolls is very similar to American Girl dolls so easy body fixes for AG dolls can also be applied to these Gotz dolls and the bodies are identical in size for perfect clothes sharing. here is a recent picture of my Gotz Little Sisters Tess doll! I absolutely adore dolls in this scale and if you want something comparable in quality to American girl, but maybe a bit cheaper and with a more unique face I think Gotz is the way to go! :)

  2. Oh my gosh, they are so cute! I love their little faces and that they're not the same printing with just different colors (looking at you, Lottie)
    It is surprising they put two rows of hair for Sophie's bangs and not just one, two rows would have been a lot for a bigger doll! I feel bad for poor Aadhya, seems she got all the body problems one could get! I l know you can fix up her up her knees a bit and fortunately her dress mostly covers the rest. Now I have to check out the rest of them!

    1. That's very true about Lottie--good point! I love Lottie, but it's getting hard to justify buying more when they all have essentially the same face. Finn is different, though, I think. ;)
      You're right that two rows of bangs would have been a lot even for a larger doll. I have no idea what they were thinking. And SO many of the dolls have bangs. As it is, I'd only consider adding Kenya and Italy to my little collection--the only ones who don't have these wedges of hair.

  3. I picked up China when these were released. I was very excited about the articulation too, but wish I'd held out for the lower price.
    I wish the mini Kidz n Cats had done more articulation as well. It would have made more sense than MA.

    1. Hi Kristy, that's an excellent point! I have been eyeing the Kidz 'n' Cats minis, but it never occurred to me that they should have been the ones to add lots of articulation to their mini dolls! Absolutely. Still, those minis look sweet. But ah! Now that you've mentioned it, I am dreaming about a highly articulated mini doll of that quality! Can you imagine how fast I would have bought one if they were articulated like the larger Kidz 'n' Cats dolls? As it is, I am still sitting on my hands, deciding if they're worth the price. :/

    2. I also would have snapped up the redhead (Lenchen?) already if not for the price, even without the articulation.

      I can't imagine how well they'll sell alone, but maybe some big doll/free mini packages are being planned. That'd be tempting.

  4. I saw these in Toys R Us just last week, and I swear I thought of this blog when I saw them. They looked like the sort of doll you would find interesting. I can see I wasn't disappointed. LOL!

    I love that they have articulated elbows and knees! The face sculpt is just OK for me, but not spectacular. I was very interested in them, though, because of the body articulation. They'd be lots of fun for a little kid to play with.

    1. Hi Mary, you were right! These really are exactly the kind of doll I get excited to see! Minis...with articulation! :D I'd love to get out to Toys R Us and see the rest of the collection in person. Maybe some of the other characters don't have quite as many bangs as Sophie??
      I have never been a great fan of the Madame Alexander face, either, truth be told, but I do have a lot of respect for it...if thats the right way of putting it. I have been seeing that familiar oval face since I was a small kid, and I feel a lot of fondness for that reason alone.
      I totally agree that these dolls look very fun to play with and could make great little companions--as long as kids don't get frustrated by the stiff joints!

  5. $13 seems a little expensive for these, but that might just be me. I've never been a huge fan of the MA face mould, but I do like it better in this size. And wow, that articulation! On a mini, that's incredible! I hope the quality control problems aren't common in this line, though--I can see some kids and collectors getting pretty frustrated with that. Can't wait for the next review!

    1. Hm. I might be reacting so positively to the price tag simply because it used to be much closer to $20 on these dolls, but I still think you get quite a lot for your money: good hair, good outfits, lots of articulation. These dolls are better than some other minis, anyway (the Jakks Pacific mini Disney Princesses leap to mind...).
      Isn't it amazing to see this many joints on a mini?! Part of me wants to ignore the stiff joint issues and just cheer Madame Alexander for even trying to put this much articulation in a smaller doll! It's great! I totally agree, though, that the quality issues could get quite frustrating with these little ones.

  6. Congrats on them! My Toys R Us has had them since a little before the holidays and I've been looking at the dolls for India, Kenya & China quite fondly. perhaps I'll buy myself one for my birthday next month.

    And I'm glad you enjoyed Cinderella! If my niece visits I'm sure we'll go and have a good time although I'll always be the most partial to the 1997 version myself ;3

    1. Thank you, Andrew! I like your picks with these dolls--Kenya would be my next choice (no bangs!) and China also looks cute. They would make a great birthday present. :)
      Is the 1997 version of Cinderella the one with Brandy? I need to watch that again! That movie would be an interesting reference before I go back to see the Branagh version again...and a great way to spend a Saturday morning!!

  7. On the Toys R Us Website they have an Italy doll that is just too adorable with a red polkadotted dress and black curly hair. However I never go to Toys R Us, and I'm not sure how much I like the price of these dolls considering their hair quality and body issues. Aadhya looks really lovely in your pictures though!

    I wonder if there's a way to calm Sophie's bangs down somehow? Maybe a boil wash and then hold it down with a soft hairtie until it dries? Your comments about her bangs had me in stitches!!! (And eventually reminded me of Barney from How I Met Your Mother...)

    I've never been huge on the Madame Alexander faces either, something about how round they are and the pinched lips just never drew me in. The smaller dolls do seem more endearing though, with less of the moon-like look of the big dolls.
    Glad to know that you enjoyed Cinderella- I hope to see it soon!!! :D
    Lots of love!

    1. Hi Muzzy!! I like the Italian doll in the polka dot dress, too. It's hard to tell what's going on with her hair, but at least she doesn't have the wedge-like bangs. I do worry a little bit about the hair texture on dolls from this line with curly hair though. Hm.
      I can't believe I reminded you of Barney!! LOL! Now you have me in stitches. :D Evoking Barney is a good thing, I think (one of the best sitcom characters ever...), but I was a little worried about the double meaning in those captions....;) Oh, well.
      I totally agree with you about the Madame Alexander faces. I was saying in another comment that I have never loved the face, but I do feel a lot of nostalgic fondness and respect for it. It's such an icon in the doll world. I also agree that the features look better in miniature than they do in the larger dolls!

  8. oh, they're so cute! i'd love to have China. And on a totally unrelated note, remember back in the day when you reviewed Hi Glam's Pam, and said you would have much preferred Julia? Well, I recently saw Julia on Amazon for $21.99 + $4.87 shipping, and while it does seem like a bit much, if you would consider her, I feel like you would like her a lot more than Pam, I managed to snag her for about $15 plus shipping, and she is really nice, plus there are plastic bags in the bottom of the packaging of the box, which make giving her a different pair of stockings just a bit easier, and im rambling, sorry, but it's just that Julia is so superior to pam in so many places, that im sure you might like her a lot more, especially after boil washing her hair to get the gunk out of her curls. so I hope you'll take notice of my comment and think about it.

    1. What a good memory you have! Wow! Thank you so much for this suggestion. Actually, though, a good friend sent Julia to me a while ago, but the thing is, since she was a gift, I am reluctant to take her out of the box! She is displayed on my shelf just as she came. Your thoughts about Pam and Julia make me want to open Julia's box now! I will definitely think about it! ;D

  9. I've been more of a reader than a commenter for a while. You turned me on to Tonner dolls with Dreams Come True. I am a life-long lover of Cinderella! If you'd be up for it, I'd love to do a post comparing the Mattel and Disney Store versions of Lady Tremaine. She's in different gowns! Or I'd love to do the DS limited edition ball Cinderella , the 17" doll. They're all waiting to be opened!

    Now off to read the rest of this post. :)

    1. Hi Aria, I think that would be AMAZING. I have these dolls myself, but I am being such a wimp about de-boxing them! The best I can think of is to put a few in-box comparison pictures on Facebook. Your idea is much better. Let's talk! :)

  10. Very good review. I have the China and India dolls. I wish that their heads weren't so big, so I was thinking of using their bodies as donors for other mini dolls. I haven't attempted head removal yet though.

    1. Hi Phyllis, that's an interesting idea! These dolls do have pretty large heads. I'd love to know what China's bangs are like. Does she have the double-row wedge like Sophie? In any case, do let us know if you attempt a head transplant! :)

  11. I enjoyed seeing these two dolls together - I think you're right about a single doll giving a less positive impression. I bought the India doll when they were first released, and maybe it was because of the higher price, but my impression was basically "cute but disappointing overall".

    The stickiness of the elbow joints was the biggest flaw for me - even after learning that the elbows should bend (and not just rotate, as I originally thought), I was only ever able to get one of her arms to bend. The other I tried to force, but I think I was about to break it rather than bend it. Ah well, it's good to know that they work as intended on other dolls!

  12. I bought India a while back also, and was less than impressed with her. My doll's joints don't work well at all, and her legs are uneven - one knee peg isn't seated well and can't be adjusted and so the doll's legs are a good 1/4" different in length. I bought her online so I wasn't able to check her over before I purchased her, but I saw more at Toys R Us, and it seemed like several of them had the same issue. I also don't think their faces are as cute as the prototypes were, so that was disappointing. I picked India because, as you noted, she was one of the few without bangs. I had planned on buying more, but I feel they just aren't worth the price and the leg thing is a huge bummer to me.

  13. Emily, you beat me to it! I was just about to review Aadhya on my blog. And I almost bought Sophie because of the red hair, but since I could only get one, I got Aadhya because she was the prettiest! My Aadhya has hair that got really fly away very quickly when I took it down. I had the same problem with the stiff joints, and they do feel as if they might break if you try too hard to bend them.Her petticoat was hanging even lower than your doll's, and there were no stitches holding it to the skirt. The good news is that here in Ohio Toys R Us only charges $9.99.

  14. *sigh* Why do the "German" dolls always wear lederhosen? That would be a boy´s outfit, girls wear dirndls...

  15. Great review!!! I enjoyed reading about this new line and of course your wonderful pictures! It's always great to see doll companies venturing into more articulation. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the new Cinderella movie too! I can't wait to see it!

  16. Make Cinderella blue gown doll of disney store and mattel review with comparisons,please!
    I don't know which should I buy

  17. Just a bit on accuracy for the Irish doll:
    First of all, the correct term is not Irish step dance. It's really widely spread, but that's not what it is technically called. It's actually just "Irish dance."
    Second: You're correct. That is absolutely not a correct dancing pose. Her feet are turned in, her arms are not rigid by her sides, nor are they in a fist, her posture is bad, and the way her legs are drawn in a way that is actually extremely bad for your knees, and as a dancer you're cautioned against it in every school.
    Third: "Haigh" is supposed to be her name. Haigh from Ireland, Namasté from India, etc. Technically though, I've never seen someone with the name "Hi."
    Fourth: "Haigh" doesn't mean "Hello" in Gaelic. "Dia Duit" is actually the proper way to write it.
    Fifth: When you start out as a dancer, you only wear soft shoes (also known as ghillies). Once you get to a certain level, you wear hard shoes as well.

    Sorry about my nit-picky-ness! I had really high hopes for her, and it feels like they barely did any research.

    1. This is great information, Kathleen! Thank you so much for helping us understand some of the details better. I think it would be fun to learn more about Irish dancing and the transition from soft to hard shoes. It reminds me of the progression from ballet slippers to toe shoes and I think a lot of kids would relate! It wouldn't take a lot to hire an expert to give a little fact support to the doll's background or hobby, and I think it could be such a wonderful educational opportunity. Sigh.

      I wondered about "Haigh" and "Namasté" as names, but figured they were just supposed to be greetings from that country. It's unfortunate that the Gaelic greeting isn't even correct. Perhaps there's an assumption that people don't pay much attention to these box decorations? That's not giving people much credit. :/ We want to know about our dolls! :D

    2. Your welcome! :)
      It's really fun! I wish they would have. That would have been nice. Now you're making me dream about who they could have hired......

      It's so weird that they wouldn't have even got it right! I looked it up, and that's not even how you say it in Scottish Gaelic. When I looked up haigh, it's saying that it's slang in a certain part of Ireland as a kind of general word, such as "erm, uh" and the like. I kind of wonder whether it is a variation of "Hi" or "Hello" from somewhere else in Ireland or what.

      I don't know. I guess maybe they're expecting it to be for younger kids, in the 3-8 age range, who aren't going to keep the original boxes?

      Also, if you're interested in learning about Irish dance, you can look up the movie Jig or Strictly Irish Dancing. Jig is on Netflix. :D They're both really great. Strictly Irish Dancing helps you know more about dance, and how it affects people's everyday lives, per say, while Jig is more focused on the dancing and what not.

    3. "Haigh" (pronounced simply "hi") is sometimes used as a greeting in Irish to avoid religious undertones since "Dia Duit" literally means "God to you". As for her name a think Saoirse or Aisling would have been more suitable since they have Irish origins instead of being an English name that just happens to be popular there.

    4. Oh, thanks! Everyone in my class is Christian, so that would explain it. :)
      Though it's even more confusing. Namaste means "may the gods be with you," and there is another one which I can't remember the spelling of that literally means "hello."
      you would think if they were using "Haigh" they would use the other one.

  18. Have you heard of Bonnie and Pearl dolls? They're high quality 19" play dolls, and I hear they're beautiful. I was looking on the website (, and I find Beatrice (red hair) and Sophia (reminds me of your Keira) especially lovely.

    1. I had not heard of these dolls, Stella! I agree that Beatrice and Sophia look beautiful! I also like Claudia (she loves science!!). I will write to the company and see if they are willing to ship to the US. It looks like they mostly cater to European customers, so shipping could be prohibitive. :(

      Thank you very much for this great recommendation, though! I am happy to know about these beauties. :)

    2. They will ship to the US. I can't believe you didn't know about them! :)

      I think I need to finish my list and send it to you. Something always seems to get in the way you know.

  19. Sorry I keep commenting on this old review, haha! But I just read it again, and I think India would've looked much better with blue shoes, to tie the elephant in...

  20. Have you heard of Tree Change Dolls? They remind me of the Wildflower dolls you talked about a little while ago. :)

  21. The only thing i cant understand is that India has a red dot which is to simbolize marriage in india.?

    1. It doesn't all the time. Often times in the US, because we have the minimum age to marry, it means that a girl has reached puberty. I often see Indian 10 year olds with red dots in stores around our house.

  22. Great review! These dolls are now available at Tuesday Morning for $7.99. I love the fact that they articulated.

  23. To be honest, taking a look at this particular set of dolls can make me personally truly desire they would resided as much as their own possible. A ad hay, along with the woman's beautiful encounter as well as fascinating gown, will be a lot much better in the event that your woman just experienced Sophie's locks consistency, a good unblemished entire body as well as comprehensive footwear.

  24. I do think I want to conclude our listing along with mail the idea to you personally. A thing often usually find in terms however... you know.

  25. Do you have any advice about how to bend the knees and elbows? I just got one of these dolls--the Indian one--and the knees and elbows have absolutely no give whatsoever. Did you force it at first? Oil it with something? I am frustrated. Please let me know...I realize this review is pretty old but I am trying anything. I will check back in a few days to see if there is a reply from you; your writing is so thorough that I have high hopes! thank you :)

  26. The woman's wonderful expertise together with amazing wedding gown, might be a ton significantly better if perhaps women simply just encountered Sophie's curly hair reliability, a superb unblemished overall body together with detailed boots.

  27. I was wondering, Emily, if you saw that this line of doll (now?) has a Cinderella doll? I'm thinking about getting Snow and Beauty but I saw her and couldn't help but think of you.