Monday, January 11, 2016

Photo Mission! (With a Mini Review of Posea Reef)

It's been a bit of a rocky start to the new year for me.  Family distractions caused me to take a step back and look closely at the blog.  When I first started blogging, I read an article describing how it can take, on average, five years of hard work before it's clear whether or not a new blog will be successful.  That seemed reasonable, and so I promised myself that I'd get to work and not worry too much about success (whatever that means) until at least four years had passed.  Now, four years later, I find myself wondering about the success of my blogging approach.

There are so many things I love about this blog--things that I consider a huge success.  First of all, I love to photograph dolls and write about them.  And, there's an incredible selection of amazing dolls out there to review.  I feel like the proverbial kid in a candy shop most days.  In addition, I get a lot of visitors or "page hits" (the brass rings of blogging) and am about to hit the 6,000,000 mark, which is unbelievable.  I also love you guys.  I'd wager that few blogs have such an amazing, kind, insightful audience.  But the bottom line is really all about...well, the bottom line.  The harsh reality is that this blog is losing money.  Lots of money.  Breaking even would be one thing, but losing money is starting to be bad.  This could be my fault, or just the way blogs are these days.  I don't know.  But I can no longer pretend that this is my job.  It's kind-of the opposite.

I like blogging too much to give it up completely, but my approach definitely has to change.  While I figure out what all of this means, I thought I would publish the wonderful contributions from the last Photo Mission.  I asked to see pictures of the interesting dolls for sale in your part of the world.  I added my own photographs to this post and will also include two short reviews.  One of the reviews is of a doll that I found during the Photo Mission: Monster High's new mermaid, Posea Reef. Snapping pictures of Posea on the store shelf was not enough--I wanted to get a closer look at her:

Monster High Posea Reef, $19.99.
Posea's review will actually be at the very end of the post.  I'd like to start out by sharing the four wonderful pictures I got for the last Photo Mission.  Incidentally, this will also be the final Photo Mission.  The contributions I received are wonderful and exactly what I was looking for, but I don't think the idea was quite as engaging as I'd hoped.  Also, when I started to look for ways to reduce the time I spend on the blog, checking my email was the first thing to go.  I'm bad at email to begin with, and my inbox is mostly spam, scams and solicitations at this point.

Ok, but enough complaining!  Here we go with the Photo Mission.  This first picture is from Sumax--a regular visitor and commenter here on the blog.  She writes:

I am from Australia and regularly visit Target, Toys R us and Kmart (and any other shop that has anything vaguely resembling a doll in it) with my daughter. We read your blog together and have made many purchases based on your reviews. One item we looked for and only found very expensively online was the Our Generation Kitchen set you reviewed in 2013. We didn’t buy it and just accepted the fact that this was one gorgeous item we would never own (like the Liv Horse *sob*). Well, we visited our regular Kmart store last week and lo’ and behold we spotted one casually idling on the shelves as if it were no big deal or nuthin':

Our Generation Kitchen set.
But! We didn’t buy it. It retails at $89 Australian ($62 USD) and I just don’t have that kind of money to fritter at the moment. I might nip back in and see if I can lay-by (layaway) it because I’m sure our Journey Girls, Bjd’s, Paula Reina, and various hand made and random dolls would like to have fun in this kitchen. Oooh, I wonder what the frightfully tall ghouls would think of it?

Thank you for the picture, Sumax!  That's a really great kitchen (especially in red) and I love the way it's so tantalizingly displayed in this packaging.  The box I bought included a doll (Jenny) but the presentation was not as elaborate.  It's so fun to look at all of the little details.  I hope you can bring one of these kitchens home soon!

This next picture is from Farrah in upstate New York.  Farrah writes:

I've always been a fan of Fluttershy, but not so much the Equestria Girl dolls in particular.  When I saw this one at Walmart from the new Friendship Games, I started to become convinced that I need one!  Her sweet face and super archery skills may have sold me!

Equestrian Girls Fluttershy.
I totally agree, Farrah!  I lost interest after my initial Equestria Girl review, but have recently found myself lingering in the aisle to check out these dolls again.  It looks to me like many of the new dolls have the higher level of articulation.  I think Zecora is my current favorite...although she has limited articulation.

This next photo is all of the way from Singapore!  Many thanks to Esther for sharing a type of doll that I have never seen here in the United States.  Esther writes:

Hello from Singapore! A British toy shop (Hamleys) just opened a new flagship store here and brought in a doll line I've never seen or heard of before. The name is Fashion'z (pretty lame I know) but from the back of the box what I can kind of make out is that they originate from Germany, but I haven't really managed to find anything much about them at all. Interestingly when I searched for them on the British website, the black-haired girl appears to be much darker in skin colour compared to the one we have here. I don't know if that's a regional difference they made to appeal to an Asian market or just bad promo pictures. I forgot to check on their price, which is totally my bad, but they do seem to have decent articulation (if I squint I think I can make out ankle joints, and they definetly have wrist joints, I just don't know which way they pivot):

Fashion'z dolls.
Thank you, Esther!  These are intriguing.  I zoomed in on each character for anyone who wants to peer more closely at them:

I like how there are "Winter Style" dolls (my favorites), "Summer Style" dolls...and one "Hair Style doll.  That's pretty clever.  I might try to get my hands on one of these for a review!

The last picture is from Kristen (whose Flickr account you can view here.  Kristen has some wonderful doll and craft pictures that are definitely worth a trip!).  She writes:

I've just started collecting dolls as an adult, and all of the information [on this blog] has really helped me to choose the ones that I want. I especially liked your review of the Loft to Love dollhouse by Our Generation. I was looking for a dollhouse this size. When I saw the review, I was able to buy it at Target just a few days later, and I've been really happy with it ever since! 

I wanted to give back as a thank you by submitting a picture for your photo mission. I took a lot of pictures, so it was hard to choose just one. But this one is my favorite because it's a display of the five new doll sets that are coming soon from the Disney Fairytale Designer collection. This collection is called "Heroes and Villains." I'm really excited for the release of these dolls because of the level of detail, and some of the characters are not available as other dolls currently (for example, Peter Pan and Captain Hook). The Disney Store where I took it is dark, but I hope the picture turned out well enough to be useful for your blog:

Disney Store Heroes and Villains.
Thank you so much, Kristen!  The picture is wonderful.  I like the Peter Pan set a lot, too, especially because Peter looks really well-articulated.  It took me so long to post your picture, though, that I missed out on all of the dolls!  As with Esther's picture, above, I separated each set and zoomed in:

I did some of my own covert picture-taking around the holidays, and will share a few of the most eye-catching toys I found.

I've mentioned the Mega Bloks Monster High sets before, but here are some of the ones that are available in my area:

The sets are pricey ($40 for the bigger sets and $30 for these smaller sets), and I'm not much of a Mega Bloks fan in general.  The themes from this company are great, but the ease of construction is nothing like Lego.

As with the Mega Bloks Barbie sets, the best thing to me about this new line is the mini figures.  I showed a mini Clawdeen briefly in my Monster High knockoff post, but I'll review Purrsephone in a bit more detail today.

I like the coffin-shaped blister packs that these dolls come in.  They're very appealing to look at (if you ignore the pink rubber band holding this particular box together...):

The front cardboard panel on these boxes does not stay glued down, though.  All of the figures I've bought look like this now:

There's plenty of's just not doing its job for some reason.

The package is really easy to open.  The front panel was already loose, so all I had to do was pull the plastic off the cardboard backing.  Purrsephone comes with a stand, a phone, a bracelet and a leaflet:

The leaflet shows the other available figures in this series:

Ghoulia and Clawdeen are my favorites.
Here's Purrsephone on her stand with all of her accessories:

I could not get her to balance upright without the stand.

Purrsephone's coffin-shaped phone has a sticker on one side and a molded Skullette on the other:

These Monster High figures are much taller than the Lego Friends characters:

Lego Friends figure, Mega Bloks Monster High figure.
But shorter than dolls like Polly Pocket:

Mega Bloks Monster High figure, Polly Pocket doll.
Purrsephone's outfit includes a shirt, a jacket, a skirt, and boots.  Her jacket is removable (as is her hair).  Her pink mini skirt is not removable, but it's made out of flexible vinyl that is separate from her legs.  The rest of the clothes are painted.

Here's Purrsephone with her hair and vest removed (the bracelet also comes off, but I left it on for this picture):


Purrsephone has a groove in the back of her head to hold (or try to hold...) her hair in place.  Her tail is unarticulated, but is made out of very flexible, rubbery vinyl.

My figure's facial features are a little crooked, and some of the paint is cracked or smudged, but it looks fine from a distance:

Purrsephone has eight (!) points of articulation.  That's a lot for a tiny doll.  Her head is ball-jointed and can move up, down and all around.  Her arms can only rotate at the shoulders:

Her legs are ball-jointed at the hip and have rotating hinged knees, so she has a fantastic range of leg movement.

Purrsephone also has a rotating joint at her waist...which I didn't discover until I'd been playing with her for quite a while.

Here she is with her hair back on:

Purrsephone is a really fun little figure to pose and play with.  As with the Mega Bloks Barbie figures, I'll probably have to glue this doll's hair on to keep it from falling off and moving around, but overall she's well worth $2.99.

This next toy would have fit right into my What Were They Thinking? post.  I only noticed it on one (of my many) Toys R Us visits, though, so it must be popular.  

It's the "Potty Surprise" Lalaloopsy Baby:

For only $30 (on sale for $25!), you can buy a baby that magically poops surprises.  "Again and again." 'Cause what's more fun than poop?  More poop.

Real babies magically poop surprises, too.  So do small dogs.
The baby is kind-of cute, but I don't really think the rag doll concept mixes well with bathroom play.  I don't picture rag dolls eating, let alone dealing with the consequences of eating.  If they do eat, it should be things like cookies made of gingham, cotton ball ice cream...or maybe a delicate afternoon tea.

Perhaps if this baby pooped buttons it would be cute and thematic?  But she already has buttons for eyes, and I don't want to explore that particular train of thought any further.

I mean, this takes the jewel-pooping mystique of the Poopsie Pets to a whole new level.  This baby apparently poops a different surprise every time.

She also magically talks with her pacifier in her mouth.
I don't think jewels mix particularly well with bathroom play, either.  I mean, eew...but also, there's a disturbing subtext here.  Is the baby a jewel smuggler? 

The most unsettling thing to me about this toy is the glee with which the little girl is peering into the potty--you know, as if we all expect the next big sparkly trinket in our lives to come from the toilet:

But honestly, I laughed pretty hard in the store and I remain a little fascinated by what exactly happens with this toy.  I mean, if the doll just...ah, expels the same charms that she's being fed, how is that a surprise?  Does the food somehow turn into jewels?  Also, is the baby using the potty right through her red diaper or does the diaper come off?  Is it really endless potty time fun, or does the fun, the food--or the surprise--eventually run out?  I have so many questions that I almost wish I'd bought this set.  Perhaps MGA Entertainment is on the right track here after all.

What I was very tempted to buy was this cool Ever After High set from Dragon Games:

The set includes Apple White and her dragon, Braebyrn:

The dragon's name is clever because it sounds authentically dragon-like, but it's also a re-spelling of braeburn (a type of apple).

The other Ever After High doll that stood out to me was Rosabella Beauty.  I think she's especially pretty--partly because of her red-streaked hair, but also because she has a different face shape than many of the other Ever After High dolls:

Her face is much less round than the original Ever After High face.  She even has a shapely chin:

That particular doll's eyes were wonky, though, so I did not purchase her.

A newcomer in the Ever After High aisle of Walmart was this little cutie, Harelow:

Harelow is also from Dragon Games.  I didn't buy her, either, because she has practically no articulation...and because her name reminds me of the word "harelip."  Harelip is antiquated slang for a cleft lip and palate.

Down the aisle from Harelow were these little imps...who completely disappeared a few weeks before Christmas.  I still don't think they're back in stock at most of the stores here in Maine:

These Shopkins Shoppies are cute, but I don't really like the way their tongues stick out.  If I had bought one, I would have chosen the blonde Popette character because I like her theme best and she has fun hair:

There's a third character named Jessacake in the first wave of Shoppies (she has blue hair), and at least two new dolls coming up in January: Peppa-mint (also blue-haired) and Donatina (red-haired).  I'm considering a review of Donatina.

This next set caught my eye because it mirrors a set that was available at the Disney Store for a short period of time.  It includes Anna and Kristoff from the movie Frozen, but they're dressed in the troll wedding costumes:

These two are nowhere near as cute as the Disney Store duo, but their price ($40) is more affordable.

The last group of dolls that I photographed on my mission were the new Monster High Great Scarrier Reef sea creatures.  There were only two of the three dolls at my Toys R Us during the holidays: Kala Mer'ri and Posea Reef.  Of the two, Kala Mer'ri didn't look quite as interesting to me as Posea--despite the fact that she has four arms (Wydowna and Webarella do this better, I think).

My biggest complaint of her is that her tail looks fairly plain compared to Posea's tail.  The articulation of the two tails might be the same (with one chunky hinge at the hips and some movement down in the octopus-like tentacles), but the design looks more intricate and elegant on Posea.

Her tentacles look appropriately squid-like.
Posea's tail is decorated with seaweed and sea critters (or the bones of sea critters...) and so her seaweed-shaped tentacles look like a natural extension of the rest of the tail:

She represents the entire reef!
The back of the box describes Posea as the daughter of Poseidon.  It also has a brief bio and a description of the Great Scarrier Reef story:

The bottom of the box has tiny photographs of the other dolls in the series, and of course the hydra (Peri and Pearl) was the most interesting to me since I hadn't seen it/them in the store.  Not sure how I feel about the double heads, though...they freak me out a little!

Here's Posea with the plastic from her box removed:

The backdrop is very colorful and shows the doll off nicely.  Posea comes with a diary (well-hidden in the backdrop) and apparently she glows in the dark!  Cool.

The bio in the diary has a little more detail than what is shown on the back of the box:

The biology teacher in me can't help but point out that most aquatic plants live in freshwater, not in the ocean.  Plant-like things in the ocean (kelp and other seaweed) are algae, not plants.  In addition, algae is a sign of an unhealthy reef.  Too much algae keeps the sun away from the coral (coral are animals).  Posea might want to re-think her gardening hobby.

Another thing that stands out to me is that Posea's BFFs are the Sea-Mares.  Who are the Sea-Mares??  Are they the same as the Fright-Mares, I wonder?  Like Bay Tidechaser?  I hope they're really awesome new water centaurs!  That would be fun.

Posea describes herself as "going with the flow," in fashion as well as in attitude.  She certainly has a flowing look about her, with her long hair and graceful tail:

I immediately wanted to investigate the tail mechanism.  This is very different from what the Freaky Fusion mermaid, Sirena, has:

The tail has three main parts, each attached to a central stalk with ball joints:


The center area looks like it will spin around, too!  Very exciting:

The appendages have great movement and the doll can balance solidly on them with no need for a stand.  She can stand up tall like this:

Or sink down a little lower, like this:

The "legs" also rotate around.  I'll come back and look at the tail in more detail once I remove the ornamentation.

Posea has blue skin and green-streaked magenta hair.  She seems very tropical with her bright, striking mix of colors:

Posea has a narrow face with a lot of detail in her makeup.  Her eyes are outlined mostly in blue--not black.  This gives her face a bit of a faded appearance, but I assume that this is an intentional effect because of the underwater theme.  


I'm always a bit unsettled when a doll's pupils aren't black.  The pupil is just a hole...and it should be black--unless there's light reflecting out from the tapetum or the blood vessels at the back of the eye.  

Anyway, Posea also has faint freckles across her cheeks and nose, but also some dotted areas just under her eyes. I'm not exactly sure what these dots are supposed to represent, but the effect is interesting:

There's a lot of color in Posea's face, but I wish the distribution was different....and that some of the colors were bold enough to match the hair and outfit.

I don't have a lot of color-editing power in my photo processing program, but I tried out a few different alterations and like this one the best:

Modified Posea Reef face.

Posea has a smiling mouth with sparkly red-pink lipstick:  

The hair around Posea's face is pulled back into a small ponytail.  The ponytail is decorated with a black plastic headpiece that's held in place with a section of hair:

My doll's ponytail was not set perfectly at the factory.

The headpiece is molded to look like coral with a dead sea urchin (or maybe a shield?) in the center:

Apparently the headpiece also needs two plastic ties to keep it in place.
Posea has a widow's peak hairline and nice, thick hair.  The hair on the top of her head is pushed forward a little so it poofs out over her forehead.

I did not take the hair down from its original style.  I think it would be hard to get the headpiece back on.  It's not designed very well for play.

Posea is wearing long, electric blue, fan coral earrings:

I love the color and shape of these earrings, but they interfere with Posea's shirt decoration and head movement.  One of the earrings is developing a white stress mark at the top, too.  I'm worried it will break.

With the earrings out of the way, I tied Posea's hair back into a single ponytail:

She has really unusual ears:

Posea is wearing a fabric tank top, but this is covered with a pink bendable vinyl decoration that's molded to look like coral.  Her tail is covered by a separate green vinyl skirt molded to look like seaweed:

I really like how the coral fans out to the right side of Posea's face:

The coral fastens in back with two peg-and-hole attachment sites:

Here's the coral top on its own:

Under the coral, Posea is wearing a bright sleeveless top with an asymmetrical hem:

The colorful print includes small shell designs and an upside-down sea horse or sea dragon:

The shirt opens all of the way down the back with a velcro seam.  It's easy to remove.

Posea is left wearing only the green seaweed arm bands that match her skirt.  These can be removed when the doll's hands are off.

The seaweed skirt has several different animals tied into it.  There are three fish skeletons, one sea horse, one crab, and a snake:

The skirt detaches in back with the same style of peg-and-hole closure that's on the coral top.

It's strange to me that all of the skirt's decorations are tied on with clear rubber bands.  I left all of these in place because I don't see how I would get everything back on if I cut the rubber bands.  Again, this doesn't seem like a very good design for kids who want to play with the doll.

I wish that the animal decorations had little pegs on the back that would insert into holes on the skirt.  Then, not only would the decorations be easily re-usable, but they could be re-positioned into various designs.

Here's what Posea looks like without any of her clothing:

She has an impressive thirteen points of articulation.

The top of Posea's body is articulated like the top of Avea Trotter's body.  Her torso is covered in little spines, though, just like an echinoderm:

Echinoderms are animals like sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers and starfish.  All of these animals have spikes on their skin to some degree--some spikes (like those on a sea urchin) are much larger than others (like those on a sea cucumber).  The name echinoderm actually means "spiny skin."

The pattern on Posea's back reminds me of the pattern on a sea urchin skeleton or a sand dollar:

Colobocentrotus atratus MHNT Bali Test dos
Sea urchin skeleton or "test."
Clypeaster humilis
Living sand dollar.
The spine pattern continues all of the way down Posea's arms and onto her webbed fingers:

Posea's tail has a seaweed pattern molded into it:

The top of Posea's body bends in the same way as other Monster High bodies.  She even has rotation in her torso joint--just like Avea Trotter:

The joint at the top of Posea's tail is a simple hinge.  It allows Posea to bend forwards, but not backwards.

She can also sit on the ground using this joint:

Each of the tentacles on Posea's tail have restricted ball-jointed movement.  As I mentioned earlier, this allows her to sink down close to the ground...

...or stand up tall:

Because all of the tentacles move separately, Posea can also bend in one direction, like this:

Or like this:

She has remarkably good balance in a number of different positions, and the tail is really fun to manipulate.  My Posea has very stiff arm movement, though, which interferes with posing and play. 

The joint at the bottom of the tail (just above the seaweed tentacles) does, in fact, rotate, but the movement of this joint is stiff, too.

I didn't read the box very carefully, so I thought Posea's body would glow in the dark.  It doesn't.

Posea in the light...Posea in the dark.

I did get this cool over-exposed picture of her non-glowing body in the dark, though:

The box (and the directions) are pretty clear about which parts of each doll are supposed to glow in the dark:

For Posea, this is just the decorations on her tail:

Radioactive fish skeleton.
Posea's blue body looks like it should glow, so I was a little disappointed that only these tiny decorations have the glow-in-the-dark feature.

Posea has a very large presence, so I was surprised to see that she's actually a bit shorter than a traditional Monster High doll like First Wave Clawdeen:

Posea Reef, First Wave Clawdeen Wolf.
Clawdeen is wearing her tall boots, though, so maybe it isn't a fair comparison.

Here are a few more pictures of this interesting creature:

Bottom line? I like this doll quite a lot.  Her articulated tail is very fun to play with and her ocean-themed outfit looks dramatic and has great detail.  Her spiny, patterned blue skin and webbed fingers are amazing.  My criticisms of this doll are that her arm movement is restrictively stiff and several of her accessories (like her headpiece and the decorations on her skirt) are not designed to be easily removed and re-used.  Overall, though, she is a colorful, dramatic and unique new addition to the Monster High collection.  She really stood out to me in the store.

Many thanks again to Sumax, Farrah, Esther and Kristen for your contributions to the Photo Mission!  I really loved seeing pictures from across the country...and across the world!  And thank you to everyone who reads this blog for being patient with me as I figure out how to approach my beloved hobby in the upcoming year.


  1. I sent you an email, are you never going to read it?

  2. Thank you for letting us readers know what it going on! I hope you find the right balance to keep the blog going as I enjoy reading it! I look forward to any upcoming blogs as I know I will be checking regularly :)

  3. I just wanted to say that I absolutly love this blog, it's always a delight, and a great source of information. Pretty much everything I know about play dolls has come from your blog. The financial side of running a blog never even occurred to me, I feel like I've been taking you for granted. So, thank you so much for everything that you do and for making such an amazing blog!

  4. Even though I love this blog, and delight in every new post you make, I will understand if you chose to pursue a different avenue. I certainly don't want you to be run into the ground financially via this blog. Whatever you decide, I know it will be great.

  5. I understand that you may not be able to blog like you used to (I still can't believe how frequent the posts got at some points!) and I say, bring on the photo mission posts and guest reviews! That way you're not the only one paying for the dolls that show up on the site. :)

    I was tempted by the 2-headed mermaid, so seeing Posea's review was a real treat! I also love the fact that the squid-girl from MH is given a name that puns on calamari! Mattel never fails to come up with fun pun names, and it's always great to see what they call new characters.

  6. Oh good Lord, I see MGA has gone with bathroom humor yet again. Did you see the Diaper Surprise dolls? LOL

  7. I actually just reviewed Peri and Pearl (the Hydra) and Kala over on my blog, so I really enjoyed seeing your review of Posea! I hope you're able to come up with a good solution to your blogging dilemma. I don't comment often, but I read every post!

  8. Hi Emily, I'm glad my photo made it into the photo mission! I still haven't purchased that Fluttershy (as I've had to make some budget cuts and set personal boundaries in my spending), but I hope to get some version of articulated Fluttershy at some point. I never realized how time consuming blogging can be until I started my own. It does take away from family time, especially if you're already working a full time job. I hope you find the balance you need to make you happy. Sometimes stepping away for a little can provide so much relief if you feel as though there is more stress than not. I always find that insight and inspiration flows easier when I "let it go" a little. Also, I find the beginning of the year to be overwhelming with so many new toy releases!

  9. Wishing you and your blog all the best for the new year :)

  10. Hi Emily,

    I've been reading your blog for years now and I hate to hear that it is losing you money and causing you stress. I can't tell you how much happiness your blog has brought me over the years. I've always found your reviews insightful and entertaining, and they've given me a lot of peace during some of my most anxious moments. I would be heartbroken if you were unable to upkeep this blog.

    Is there anything we as your readers can do to help? Personally, I would be more than happy to support you in any way feasible. I know some bloggers eventually decide to change blogging platforms in order to save money, or host ads on their site for visitors to click to help with the upkeep of the blog itself. Have you considered something like a GoFundMe page or Patreon? For all the hours of enjoyment you've given me with your charming reviews, I would gladly donate on a regular basis so you could continue your blogging ventures, and I'm certain that other readers would do so as well!

    I was worried after not seeing a new blog post from you in so long, so I sincerely hope there is a way you will be able to continue blogging regularly. Please keep us updated and let us know if we can help in any way! Thank you for this new blog post as well, it's always a treat to read your thoughts. :)

  11. I've been a reader for quite some time, but never commented. I thought I should let you know that I love reading your blog just for fun, even though I don't buy dolls much. It's so funny and great, and I love seeing through reviews of awesome dolls! I really hope you find a way to keep going...I greatly look forward to each new post of yours. :)

    1. *thorough ;)
      But really, this blog has given me hours of enjoyment! I'm sorry to hear that it's costing you :/

  12. Hi Emily, first of all I want you to know I love reading (and sometimes re-reading) all of your lovely reviews! For the financial issue, have you considered hosting ads on your page, or maybe a simple donate button? You could also limit yourself to dolls under $15 or $20 for regular reviews, and only look at more expensive options on occasion. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you still keep updating the blog, even if only every couple months. You have given me hours of laughs and entertainment, and if it weren't for your blog I wouldn't even know of many of the doll lines I now love! Wishing you (and your blog) all the best for the new year!

  13. Hi Emily,
    This blog has always showcased not just the wonderful dolls you review, but your many talents, as writer, photographer, comedian, science enthusiast. I share each and every word written by other commentors. Your blog is not only a pleasure to read but also a source of information, and an important source of encouragement and support to those of us who collect and enjoy dolls and other toys as adults.
    I really hope you figure out a way to keep this blog going without it leading to financial losses. Losing it would be a heartbreak to all of us readers.
    Tali from Israel

  14. I would be so sad if your blog went away. It was the first one I discovered when I began collecting dolls, and is the best, in my opinion :) I do hope you can find a way to make it financially worthwhile. Maybe allowing ads and/or having a donate button. Of course, it is time-consuming as well, and that is unavoidable. I have gotten so much pleasure and information from your posts, and entertainment, too. My daughter and I laughed until we cried over the Khaki Girl review. Best of luck, and keep us posted!

  15. Your blog has been a constant source of inspiration. Often before I write my own I have a look here to see if you've already reviewed the same doll lol, and noticed anything I didn't. Several times i've relied on you to tell me "yes, the hands totally come off" and similar hahaha. Sorry to hear it's not going so well bottom line-wise. I think blogs are one of those things you do for the love of it more than anything else. These days it's all about the videos and vanity rubbish. I will ALWAYS prefer blogs like this for reviewing of things like dolls, you get so much more detail.

    Is it possible to go back to a free provider and return to blogging casually/as a hobby? I love blogging too, there's next to no profit in it (in 2 years I think i've made £8 in ad revenue, which is rubbish and not at all viable)

    Your blog is so useful, you've encouraged me to buy several items, introduced me to so many things I didn't even know existed and so on. You're a wonderful writer, photographer and enabler hahah.

    I didn't read teh posea review yet, mostly because I have her on my own desk waiting to be deboxed. I need to get off my butt and do that, I got distracted making a wig last night instead.

  16. Boy! Glad to found another person interested in doll and toy development. My husband calls me a five year old child, though he knows my dolls were lost when we moved from MI to AZ many years ago. So this web page helps me in looking for dolls that are different. Sometimes, I find a mother, or mother and father looking over different doll themes. Monster High Doll collection for an 8 year old, mother purchased 10 different dolls for the child's holidays. And another grandmother's grand daughters who love the American Doll but cannot afford the price of the dolls. (I did make a 16 in modern doll from paper mache for the little one and dressed the doll as a Winter Queen in Ice Blue fabric/painted the face as if it was snow and ice. Hard work.) Though I prefer the smaller dolls, the Bratz dolls tend to fall apart? must go, thanks, atk

  17. Like so many others have posted here, I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. I did not realize that you purchased dolls for the sole purpose of reviewing them here. I can see how that would become a financial burden. I also need to cut down on my doll purchases - I need to work on the collection I do have and make dios and stories for them! 2015 was a huge buying year for me and I suppose some of what caused that was reviews from other collectors! No matter what form your blog takes, I do hope you continue to post. You are a very good writer and I find that reading your blog always puts a smile on my face!

  18. I've always looked forward to your reviews. They're insightful, timely, thorough and the potography is superb. I'm sorry to hear the blog is losing money. I don't know what that means but I hope for our sakes (the readers) that this blog is around for many more years to come. Thanks once again for the photo mission and excellent review.

  19. As another reader already suggested, maybe time for a Patreon or GoFundMe? You've gained yourself a solid backing of fans at this point thanks to your unique voice and insights, and there's no shame in asking for support.

  20. I'm always excited to see your blog pop up in my feed when a new post is published - your beautifully clear photos and thorough descriptions and comparisons always make for great reading even when the toys in question aren't necessarily ones I'm interested in on their own. You have a real skill at creating wonderfully engaging blog content.

    That said, I can see how it would become stressful and lose some of the fun for you, and I'm sorry to hear that that's the case. I hope that you're able to both monetize the blog and feel re-engaged, but if not then I hope you're able to enjoy a break (although your unique voice would be missed). Good luck with figuring it out!

  21. Never commented here buy I wanted to tell you how often I've shared your links with friends as you are the go-to doll blogger for sure! I delight in your new posts. The photos are inspiring and you have literally turned me into a collector just from your photos and reviews. I was saddened to read the start of this post and it compelled me to tell you how much I love your work. So much of the Internet is negativity and muck, and this is wholesome education and entertainment in one.

  22. Gah! I did not expect such a wonderful flood of support...but I should have known better!! You guys really are incredible. Thank you for your precious words, excellent advice, and kind wishes. They mean a lot to me.

    I didn't intend to come across as bummed out (sorry!)--although I'll admit that I've been discouraged in some ways. Mostly, I wanted to be honest so that you know what's going on around here...and also so that any new bloggers don't think this is the fast road to easy street or anything. ;D I know when I first started out, I dreamed that if I worked hard, blogging could become a nice part time job--or at least pay for most of the dolls I review. Not so...or not yet, anyway!

    This blog can give the impression that buying dolls is unrestricted and without financial consequence. That's a great fantasy (and I love fantasy!)'s also a little irresponsible, and I don't want to perpetuate an image that isn't true.

    Again--you guys are the best. I'm fine, and the blog will persist! I will seriously consider all of your generous suggestions. Perhaps blogging slightly less frequently and with fewer big ticket dolls will do the trick, though!

  23. Your doll reviews tell me things about dolls that I've wanted to know since I was a kid: How is it made? How does it move? What can it do?

    I seem to always start following something just as it ends or changes, though. I hope that these lovely reviews can continue.

  24. Your blog is the best, I'm sorry it's causing you problems! Do what you think is right, I trust that you will find a solution with all the advice you readers have offered. My opinion is that you don't need to buy dolls to review for the sole purpose of entertaining us if you don't have outside funding. I enjoy your reviews of older or unusual toys and comparison reviews, like the discontinued BEGoths or when you restored the composition baby. Thank you for this post and I hope to see more :)

  25. "I don't think jewels mix particularly well with bathroom play, either. I mean, eew...but also, there's a disturbing subtext here. Is the baby a jewel smuggler? "

    I laughed at this for a good long time. That's part of the reason I come here; I enjoy your insight and humor, but you have to do what's best for you.

  26. Like other people have suggested, maybe something like Patreon or changing blogging platforms will do the trick. I'd be sad to see you go!

    By the way, have you seen the Makie news? They're moving to the USA! Excellent news for you, not so good news for me :D I don't think I'll be able to afford one with added shipping and import costs. I figured it might be something you'd like to add to your recent Makie review.

  27. Hi again, lol.. I was also thinking it would be really fun if you could do some posts on your current collections. I would LOVE to see your Tonner collection-especially the Cinderella face molds. this may be a fun way to add some blog content without have to purchase new dolls. :)

  28. In some ways it's as interesting to read your comments about your financial concerns and the need to rethink your blog as it has been to read your reviews. I've often wondered about (what some social scientists have referred to as) the "disposable income" that allows bloggers to acquire more items to add to their collection, because whatever that income may be (assuming the blogger isn't fabulously rich) acquiring new items on a regular basis is money, time and energy that is not spent elsewhere, as some might say on other perhaps "worthier" things. In theory, as adults we are supposed to put away the things of youth and focus less on pleasure, or things that spur the imagination, and more on ensuring for example that what money, time and energy we have are "looked after" to face the adversity we know as adults will inevitably visit us. As an adult collector I've often wondered what this late fascination with dolls was truly all about for me. I know my collection and collecting came about at a very difficult time in my life. Beyond the beauty of dolls, their infinite variety and power to conjure up profound feeling in us, any such interest or more appropriately "pastime" must raise the question of its purpose and whether or not its "return" --what the blogger is getting out of it-- justifies continuing with it. Nothing is ever as simple as it appears to be on the surface. There is so much that takes place in the very act of seeking out new items, thinking about them, assessing them. Some have seen in that act alone as the sublimation of seeing into "consumption" as a form of doing. Without getting anymore abstract, what I'm getting at is that there are real existential questions at the heart of all activity, especially this type of activity and it seems natural to me that as a collector you would have come to this point. It is a point I have come to myself simply as a collector and not as a blogger. It may be possible to explore your interest in dolls in ways that do not require new acquisitions. You could write about doll photography or more about commercial doll history. You could approach doll collecting with the eye of a scientist critically observing other blogs or collections and attempting to understand the doll-collector as you would another member of the animal kingdom. You could write about your present collection, what it means to you, how you display your dolls, whether you do or don't and why, how one might round out one's collection, or you could write at greater length than you have about what it means to view yourself as a doll collector, and doll blogger, how that has changed over time. Your most recent post could have served as a springboard to new reflections but your returned to the comfort of describing a new doll on the market, a formula that may not continue to work for you. Nethilia has created a very interesting doll blog that approaches AG, as I'm sure you know, from a sociological perspective and there are a million ways to do this. These are just some suggestions but I hope they show that there is a treasure you already have that can be plundered for blog material if you are willing to dig deep and pose probing questions. Your audience may change, but you may discover interesting things about the doll world and yourself that others may benefit by. and maybe that is enough.

  29. I love this blog and your reviews. It's so great to be able to see all the pictures and know all the details of particular dolls. I hope you can continue this blog. I've heard other bloggers who end up reselling the things they review on Ebay. This may be a good way to still be able to review dolls but be also recuperate some of the money spent on purchasing them. I also wouldn't mind ads at all.

  30. Another way you might cut the financial burden would be to see if a few toy companies would give you a free doll for review purposes. Some of the reviews at mention that the doll was sent free in exchange for an honest review, so you might ask her how she got that set up, and see if you can get a similar arrangement going. I know you've got the readership for it! :) I've seen other blogs that actually just have a PayPal donate button on them, too, so people can just pitch in and help out without having to go through a middleman site.

  31. Hi, I just wanted to reiterate what everyone has said...we LOVE your blog! Thank you for providing high quality, positive, useful, and entertaining information about our hobby. In addition to the suggestions I you have an Amazon Wishlist or something similar? If you set one up for the blog and let us know the link, I'm sure some dolly contributions would come in.

    Also, to the doll manufacturers...I ditto the suggestion that more toy companies should consider providing Emily with review samples. People reading her blog make purchases based on her exposure of your products. And there is no better place to have your product reviewed in a fair and educated manner. There are many doll collector blogs, but THE TOY BOX PHILOSOPHER is heads above. I can depend on reliable, useful, and entertaining information related to my interest. I can depend on the highest standard of writing, photography, and observations about this hobby. Thank you, Emily, for your great blog and the wonderful service you have provided for us all.

  32. I only discovered your blog a few days ago and really enjoyed reading all your posts throughout the years. You've introduced me to so many dolls I never knew existed and I'm currently wrestling with the idea of purchasing a JAMIEshow doll. They are so stunning!! I do hope you can continue to post, there are many good ideas in the comments already which I hope help you out. If anyone is interested, the Fashion'z dolls from Hamleys are less than £20.00 and I was lucky to purchase some on sale for £4 each (they were already on sale with an extra 50% off). They are very nicely articulated but they aren't the best. I bought three and the most problematic joints are the knees, the ankle joints were a nice surprise. The clothing is lovely and well made. The hair is not the best, and there are patches with no hair, but on the whole I would definitely recommend them!

  33. A lot of the blogs I used to read have gone by the wayside. I've always been so happy to see a new post up on your lovely blog, which of course is my favorite blog of all. Honestly, you've awakened in me a passion for the fun things in life. For that, I thank you. I also wish you all the best as you navigate your future. I hope to see many new and wonderful things on this delightful site for years to come, but I will be forever grateful for the dolls and toys you've already shared with us. Be well, be blessed.

  34. Oh Fashion'z. From Malaysia here and when I saw them in Hamley's I was convinced they were a line that belonged exclusively to the store. I thought they were pretty derpy looking tbh and snapped a few shots so I could check them out when I got home at the time. I forgot about it once I did though

  35. I was sorry to read that blogging had been making you lose money. I have really appreciated your thorough and honest reviews these past few years and have made purchases based on them of dolls I simply wouldn't have even known existed or thought were worth purchasing for myself or my godchildren. I hope you find an option that is fairer to you among those made by others- I have no ideas but many sounded good especially having dolls provided by manufacturers since your reviews must get a lot of consumers off the fence as they do for me.
    Anyhow, I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your blog and the style you've given it. You could have been like a lot of doll collectors who give a dry, grudging, show and tell of their dolls that the whole thing is pointless as onlookers don't learn enough to make a more informed choice. I've always felt as though I'd already bought, deboxed and examined the doll which is so useful since I buy online more and more. Thanks so much, Emily.

  36. I really like your blog (reading it is what got me interested in collecting "girls" toys again, and dolls in particular, back in 2013), and I usually enjoy your reviews, but I can certainly understand your concerns over the realities of financing the hobby and web site and balancing it with other aspects of your life.

    I've maintained my web site for about sixteen years now, and, while I've had to switch web space providers a few times (as they've gone out of business and/or changed their policies), I've never paid a cent for it ever. I have to put up with the company's advertisements on my pages, and the bandwidth I'm allowed each month is relatively limited, but, in my mind, that's a fair tradeoff for me not having to spend a dime on it. Nor have I ever tried to monetize what I do.

    Like yourself, I also write about and photograph toys, but most of the ones that I acquire these days are secondhand thrift store finds, so they don't cost much money at all (I spent about $200, total, in 2015 on toys and acquired a small mountain of action figures, dolls, plush, art/craft activities, and board/video games for that sum). Years ago, I used to be one of those super-anal, mint-in-package-only toy collectors, but I gave up on that. It was just too expensive and ridiculous to keep maintaining that life style, especially with the inflated toy prices we've seen in the years following the economic downturn and oil price spike.

    So, in short, it's quite possible to run a web site on the cheap, or even free, it just depends on how you want to go about it. I hope that you're able to come up with a solution that works for you and that allows your Toy Box Philosopher Blog to continue for years to come. I think, as some of the other commentators suggested, limiting yourself to less expensive, and/or less frequent, doll purchases and/or writing some toy-related articles that don't require new purchases might be the simplest ways to ease your dilemma.

  37. Just wanted to say that I would sift through a million intrusive ads to read your blog! I know that ads are paying less these days, but if you have to put an unskippable, auto-playing with sound video ad on every page to keep posting, it's a price I'm willing to pay. Here's to your excellent content! xx

  38. Hey Emily! I wanted to say that you're the reason I ever started my collection, and I think this is the perfect time to thank you. I've read pretty much every comment on this post and I whole hearted agree with them - you deserve the best! You have enough readers to create a Patreon account, to request free-samples from companies, to do whatever you want... keep also in mind that we all enjoy guest reviews, and that's a form that adds content to TBP without costs. Whatever you do, we'll show our support! Long live and prosper ♥ haha

  39. What can I say that hasn't already? If you still have the passion for this, then by all means keep it running as you see fit. Your reviews have been among the best I've ever come across, whether it be for dolls or action figures. You're so detailed and thorough; you show every possible aspect of your subject so your readers know exactly what they're in for. If getting only one or two of those a month makes it easier for you, I'm all for it. You can very easily supplant this blog with various other things such as news reports, opinions, etc. You've already got "Philosopher" in the title, so it's perfectly acceptable to expand beyond just reviews. You could share your thoughts on the Monster High reboot, or devote a piece to unusual dolls like the Poopy Surprises, or share tales from your collecting exploits (we've all got some).

    And as usual, I really appreciated your detailed look at Posea. She's the last new mermaid(-ish) character that I haven't gotten, so it was very nice to see how detailed her body and accessories are. She was initially going to be my first purchase when the line was previewed, but seeing Kala and Peri & Pearl first changed that. Speaking of the twins, they were at the South Portland TRU en masse last I saw, in case you wanted to see them in person. Maybe they sold through most, but it certainly seemed like there were enough there to last a while. Once you get them unpackaged and on display, they're very impressive and lovely...even if they may not really match the traditional look of a hydra.

    I hope you will continue this blog for some time to come. Even when I have no knowledge of the things you cover (anything beyond MH and EAH is out of my league), I'm always impressed by the quality of the reviews and do often learn a thing or two. I've even been tempted to buy things every now and then, though self control usually wins out. As long as you keep this going, I'll keep stopping by to read and be entertained, even if I don't always chime in with comments.

  40. I found you blog when I was looking for Lammily reviews and I fell in love with your posts. You have such a unique way of looking at things with practicality and humor. Thank you so much for sharing this with us readers. We all understand and respect your need to reevaluate the way that you run the blog. No matter what conclusion you come to, I will forever be grateful to you for reminding me that dolls are art and that representation is important. All of your hard work and skill is greatly appreciated. Thank you Emily.

  41. Hi Emily

    Thank you for the beautiful photos. I was really worried over Christmas and now I'm happy you and your family are ok.

    As you know I absolutely love your blog for year, and half of my doll collection I bought because of your reviews...and some of them because you helped me to get them, and I will never forget that.

    And now I'm really sad that you loose money because of this.
    As some lovely ladies before said, I would think about a GoFundMe account, or just a funraiser or patreon. I would be happy to donate, and I'm sure other fans of your blog feel the same, cause you brought us so much joy with your blog.

    Feel hugged.


  42. Do you have an Instagram account ? It's free, easy to use...and this could be a nice way to promote your blog.

  43. One suggestion I have for you is to put up a tip jar. Just a paypal button where people could drop a few bucks in if they have the means/want. Neth has one on her blog.

  44. Hi, just want to say I am a collector of many dolls (ball jointed, Monster High, Obitsu, Hujoo, just to name a few), and I always look forward to new reviews. I hope you will continue to do them in some form. I have bought dolls just because of your reviews.

  45. Emily, I love everything about your blog. I think it's one of the best I've seen, on any subject. Your writing is so engaging, your photography is excellent, and your attention to detail is very much appreciated. In the corners of the doll-loving community that I frequent, TBP is the gold standard of doll reviews, often linked and recommended.

    I see that you have a few ads on the blog, but surely getting more would be a help. Any toy company should be honored to place an ad here, and all of us shop for plenty of other goods and services besides dolls.

    Thank you for all you do, for all of the education and the pleasure that you've brought us over the last four years.

  46. I'd like to suggest perhaps not approaching this as something you're losing money on, and instead look at it as how much enjoyment do you get for how much time and money it can cost. You have an excuse to buy and play with toys. :)

    I hope you continue. My daughter and I both look forward to new entries, and you keep us engaged. Several companies have you to thank for me dropping a lot of money, and you are the reason I got into Tonner dolls and have a Little Darling arriving in 2017. :)

  47. I hope you continue your blog. I was always into Ever After High dolls, but bought 8 Monster High dolls just from your reviews. I also bought two patsyettes from that review. I'll be sorry to see you leave if you do go.

  48. I'd also like to add that I really enjoy your blog. When a new playline doll comes out, I always check your blog to see if you've reviewed it for quality and articulation. I collect a lot of different dolls including: disney, monster high, Tonner, barbie, and hot toys action figures. And I've really loved how you've had such a great variety on here.

    Also, your reviews of new dolls has really helped me decide whether to buy a doll or pass on it. I wish doll companies would wise up and send detailed bloggers like you products to review - it would boost their sales for sure if they know they have a quality product.

    As has been stated already, maybe you can find a way to keep going by having more guest reviews (maybe even post a list of dolls you'd love to have guests review - and tick them off once someone who has that doll volunteers to send you a review), you can even 'borrow' dolls from other collectors by asking an owner the typical questions that everyone wants to know and seeing their photos and answers -then summing it up yourself into a blog (this would work for people that might not want to do a full review, but would like to help out by just filling out answers to questions and providing some photos). I know when I get a new doll, I'm super excited to share it and what I've found out about it - so I personally wouldn't mind providing a review of a doll.

    You could also go back into your collection and do comparisons or 'history of' reviews. Maybe even say how you store your dolls, how you got started as a collector, what you think about a new doll line that's coming out, or the 'realities' of collecting (i.e. cost, storage, display, play, enjoyment, etc) This is interesting to collectors and wouldn't require new purchases to offer great blog content. Taking detailed pics of dolls in their retail boxes at the store (provided people don't think you are crazy. lol jk) can provide a visual review - since I know many collectors want to see 'real' pics of a doll rather than just the promo pics the companies provide. Your writing is entertaining and your wonderful photography would lend well to any toy related content, not just reviews of brand new dolls.

    Anyway, I hope you can find a balance, and I know we are all hoping you will continue your blog in some way. This is the only blog I've ever bookmarked! And I refer other collectors here while on different forums.

  49. Does Posea mention anywhere being related to Percy Jackson? They have the same father.....

  50. Pretty much the same as everyone else, adding that, although I don't collect play line dolls, your blog has taught me so much about looking at the dolls I do buy, (Tonner and BJDs). Thank you for hours of interesting reading. A PayPal button sounds like a good idea.

  51. The Fashionz dolls seem like an updated version of Simba Toys' Super Model line (which is indeed German)! I used to buy them for rebodying, but they've been getting hard to find lately. Glad to see they didn't disappear after all. I'll have to find one to see if the articulation is the same.

    I'm hoping you decide to keep blogging, and I second the suggestion of trying to get doll manufacturers to provide a "review copy". For me, you've kind of set the standard for what to expect from a doll review, particularly your thorough comparisons with other dolls and the close-ups of important details. It's great consumer information and I think manufacturers ought to want to contribute to that.

  52. I just wanted to say that I'm not a doll collector, but I really enjoy this blog. I think your writing on dolls is fascinating and useful. A lot of my favorite bloggers have found themselves in situations like yours, and its clearly heart-wrenching for them. Just remember that you need to take care of yourself first!

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  54. The financial side of the doll collection is an interesting problem to put on the table.
    I've come to a small solution myself, and it's either second hand, or sale. I very rarely buy a doll on it's first price. Sometimes I wait a year or two until the doll gets on sale, and I have a limit of 20€ per doll, meaning that if there's a doll I like, but she's over 20, is a no-no for me.

    The only one I did an exception with was Isi Dawndancer, and that was because she was the last of the shop, and probably the last where I live. Aside from that, if I can't get a doll I like because it's pricey to be me XD.

    I also would like to make a blog reviewing dolls, but I realized I don't have that much patience to do si like you do. I really admire you for the time and effort you put into editing the photos (I assume you edit their size, because 2 Mb per, and then look at the doll and see every single small detail about them, finding poses and comparing them to other dolls that might look like them. That's a lot of work, and I prefer to make a good photo of the doll rather than take off it's clothes and talk about the articulation (although for some of them I could do that).

    Then, the Posea doll. She's the one I didn't find that interesting, to be honest. I have Peri and Pearl, and Kala. Peri and Pearl, if you can get them, go for it. Trust me, they're bizarre, and very interesting to hold in your hands. Kala, on the other hand, was a no-no for me at first. Every time I looked at her tentacles, all I could think was "That's waaaayy too yellow!". But then she was on sale for 7€, and I couldn't just let her go. So I got her and what can I say? I LOVE HER! More than Peri and Pearl. I don't know what it is, but something in her makes me want to pose her and play with her (also, her hair is a dream, very soft with no product at all).
    So if you happen to find her on sale, go for it. Lucky us, she's the one nobody wants, so it should be easy to get.

    As always, amazing review, and while I know you won't post as much as you used to, I hope you don't abandon this blog. Is one of my biggest inspirations to be a doll collector.

  55. In the end I decided to get Posea (since I already have the other two new dolls from the sea) and...well, right out of the box, I don't even know what to do with her! There's too much going on with her. Not even Kala, with her 4 arms, gave me this trouble. I decided to read again your review, to see if you were overwhelmed as well, but I can see you didn't, so maybe is just me?

    I wonder what did you feel once you took her out of her box?