Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Kidz by Götz

I haven't made much of a dent in clearing out my doll room yet, but I did find three 18-inch treasures a few weeks ago.  Two of the dolls I found are Happy Kidz from the German Götz company.  I bought them in January of 2016...although it feels like yesterday.  Happy Kidz are not sold in the United States, and so I shopped online at My Doll Best Friend, a fantastic London-based store that happily ships to Maine.  The third doll is an FAO Schwarz Classic doll that was also made by the Götz company.  I found her on sale at Toys R Us way back when Toys R Us was still a thing and when they were still carrying 18-inch FAO Schwarz dolls.  I think it was around six years ago.

All of these dolls are variants on the Götz Hannah line (formerly called the Sarah line) which I've been coveting for over a decade.  Most of my recent coveting occurred while gazing at the beautiful pictures on the My Doll Best Friend blog, which, if you've never seen it, is well worth a visit.  Or many visits.  Here's a link.

The FAO Schwarz Classic dolls came out in 2011 and are essentially Hannah dolls that were made for the United States market.  The Happy Kidz, first introduced in 2012, are very similar in size and proportion to the Hannah dolls, but they have different face molds and extra joints.  Here's Clara, one of my Happy Kidz:

Götz Happy Kidz doll, Clara, £85.
I'm not an expert on Hannah dolls, but I think there are three face molds in the collection.  The Hannah face is by far the most common, but there are also face molds for different ethnicities.  I know that the Hannah face was sculpted by Hildegard Günzel, and I believe that the other faces were as well.

Here are a few snippets from Götz catalogue pictures:

Hannah face. 
Face #2 (I don't think it has a name).
Face #3.
FAO Schwarz included all three of these faces in their collection and named them Tess, Claudia (both have the Hannah face), Avery (face #2, above) and Nina (face #3).  I have Nina.
The Happy Kidz have at least three face molds, all distinct from the Hannah line.  One of the faces looks a little different because it was sculpted by Sissel Skille.  Again, I believe all of the other faces were sculpted by Hildegard Günzel.

Here's a snippet of the Skille face:

Sissel Skille face.
My Happy Kidz have the other two faces, so you'll see plenty of those.

I'll just throw it out there that I'm not a huge fan of the Hannah face or the Sissel Skille much as I tend to adore Ms. Skille's work.

When I visited the My Doll Best Friend website to purchase a Happy Kidz doll, I figured I'd pick the redheaded Clara, but this green-eyed beauty immediately caught my eye:

Her name is Kitty and she is a limited edition exclusive to My Doll Best Friend.  

Kitty was released with another limited doll named Rosie who has brunette hair and blue eyes.  Rosie has the same face as Clara.  Here's My Doll Best Friend's ad for Rosie:

I absolutely love this pair of dolls!  I almost bought both of them and forgot about Clara altogether, but Rosie is wearing the exact same outfit as Kitty and she doesn't have red hair.  But Rosie doesn't have bangs and Clara does, so that added to the tough decision.  I wish Rosie had come wearing a blue version of her dress, then I would almost certainly have chosen her over Clara.  She's so beautiful!

In the end, I decided on Kitty and Clara and can't imagine being happier with my choice.

Kitty is still in her box, and since she's fairly valuable (and likely to end up on eBay), I'm going to leave her in there:

My Doll Best Friend

I did pull the backdrop out of the main box so that I could get some nice close-ups, though:

I find Kitty's face mold achingly vulnerable.  Her features are simple (and intentionally asymmetric), but her expression is highly evocative:

The Happy Kidz brand name seems misplaced in connection with Kitty's melancholy, wide-eyed stare:

Soulful Kidz?
From what I've seen online, it's rare for a Hannah or Happy Kidz doll to have bright green eyes like this.

The freckles are not as rare as green eyes, but they're also not the norm for this type of Götz doll.

The inset eyes are plastic (acrylic?) and have a simple swirled iris pattern.  They're framed by applied lashes on top and painted lashes below.  The medial canthus of the eye is also accented with a dot of pink:

I love the subtly-raised arch of her painted eyebrows.

Kitty is wearing a tank top over a pleated skirt.  Both pieces are made out of the same shiny, glitter-swirled fabric, though, so the ensemble looks like a fancy dress from far away:

Kitty also wears stretchy pink knit gloves and carries a black purse.

There are a few small glitches in my doll's dress.  For example, the tinsel that's woven into the tank top fabric is slightly puckered along one sleeve:

And the pattern of the fabric has a faint white line that runs through it in several locations:

On her feet, Kitty wears black patent flats with silver-embroidered kitten features!

Kitty will probably show up on eBay sometime soon, so you can watch for her if you're interested.  That is, unless I cave and decide to keep her for myself.  But I need to stay strong!  This cleaning-out-the-doll-room stuff is hard.

In any case, I couldn't bear to sell my Happy Kidz without getting a closer look at at least one of them, so I decided to take Clara out of her box.  Most of today's post will be about her.

I decided not to take any in-box pictures for this review.  Clara's box looks the same as Kitty's.

Here's Miss Clara fresh out of her box:


She came with two paper tags plastic-tied to her outfit and the typical burgundy Götz wrist band on her right arm.

The large paper tag identifies this doll as number #1520.  I don't think she's limited--just numbered.

I unfastened Clara's hair from her shirt (that was an odd packaging choice...), took down the ponytail in back, and brushed it out a little:

She has a little section on the right side of her bangs that sticks up strangely, but otherwise she's just adorable and perfect-looking:


This face says "Claire" to me more than "Clara," so I'm going to do a minor name change: this doll is now named Claire.

I wasn't sure quite what to make of Claire's outfit when I was looking at catalogue pictures, but it's cute and interesting in real life.

It's essentially just a grey jersey knit tunic with an athletic collar, but the catch is that is has this shimmering, almost watercolor-like floral overlay on the front panel and all around the bottom hem:

For some reason the floral print reminds me of the wall tapestries and curtains you might find at Versailles...which is a lovely connotation, but it pairs strangely with an athletic tunic.

Here's an even closer look at the woven floral overlay:

As if the tunic wasn't odd enough on its own, it's paired with silvery glitter tights and pink fleece-lined boots.  Because why not.

The boots are wonderfully soft and feel very well-made.

Here's another look at the full ensemble:

I really love the boots and the tunic together.  They match amazingly well.  The one thing I might change about this outfit is the collar of the tunic.  It's a bit too much.  Also, the colors don't really match.  

I think a collar that took the green from the tunic and mixed it with something that hinted at the grey-blue in Claire's eyes would have been really pretty.


Claire's red hair is wonderful.  I suspect it's nylon because it's a lot like Paola Reina doll hair.  It's not as silky-smooth and shiny as, say, American Girl hair (which is kanekalon), but it is so easy to manage.  If it starts to look a little messy, you simply run a brush through it once (even carelessly will do) and it looks great again.

The hair is rooted very densely towards the front of Claire's head and then a bit less densely at the back of the head.

Here's a view from off to one side:

The hair feels thick and smooth.  Even after I don't brush it for a while, it still manages to fall in nice curls and waves.  I love it!

I usually avoid dolls with bangs, and Claire's bangs don't bother me at all.  They're carefully rooted, have a gentle under-curl, and are the perfect length.

Claire has my favorite of the Happy Kidz face molds.  She's not as sad as Kitty and she looks sweeter and more natural than the Sissel Skills dolls.

Toy Box Philosopher

Her eyes have the same iris pattern as Kitty's eyes, but they're a deep teal blue that's just gorgeous.  The color can look bright blue in some light conditions and almost green in others:

Claire has thicker eyebrows than Kitty.  There's an extra row of hair towards the middle:

Claire's mouth has slightly parted lips and is painted in a beautiful, natural pink:

Claire has a vinyl body with nine points of elastic-strung articulation:

She has a slim torso with subtle molded details:

I like her cute protruding belly:

Claire's arm and leg joints look funny to me.  Her knee joints sit above the position of her molded knees...

Bermuda short knees.
Also, her arms have gauntlet-style elbows:

I say "gauntlet-style" because the shape of the lower arm reminds me of Medieval gauntlet armor:

What's especially funny about the elbow joints is that the lower arm piece is longer on the inside of the joint, not the outside of the joint:

Backwards gauntlet arms.
What this means is that because there's more of a vinyl overhang on the inside of the arm, the elbow can't flex very much at all:

My hand won't come any closer than this?
However, because there's less of an overhang on the outside of the joint, the arm can extend far past what's normal for most people:

Bet you can't do this.
Basically, the elbow joint feels backwards to me: it bends more in the direction it shouldn't than in the direction it should.

This is so strange to me.  It seems like such an easy thing to avoid or fix.

Why, Götz, why??
Claire's hip joints are elastic, so she can do a bit of a side-to-side split, but her elastic knees make the split look more impressive than this type of hip joint would normally allow!

She can do perfect front-to-back splits:

Claire's knees can actually lock into their bent position:

This is a really cool feature.  There's a notch in the upper part of the knee joint that catches the elastic when the joint is bent:

Looking at the back of the knee joint.
Despite my little aesthetic complaints, Claire's movement is much better than that of most 18-inch play dolls.

Her balance is also exceptional and she can stand on her own in a variety of different poses.

Claire reminds me most of A Girl For All Time's Clementine, but as you can see, the two are quite different in terms of height and torso size:

Happy Kidz Clara and A Girl For All Time Clementine.
Clementine also has elastic-strung joints and gauntlet arms, but the shape of her lower arm makes more sense to me: the arm angles away from the inside of the joint, not towards it.  Also, her knee joints are positioned where they should be.  However, I think Claire moves better than Clementine in general and especially in her legs.

Here's Claire with my Maru and Friends girl, Savannah:

Happy Kidz Clara and Maru and Friends Savannah.
Claire is making all of these dolls look really pale, but none as much as My Twinn Annie:

Happy Kidz Clara and custom My Twinn Annie.
Annie looks ghostly pale here.  I also think I need to swap her eyes out again.  The current eyes are way too beady and intense.

Anyway, you can see that Claire is taller than most 18-inch play dolls, but not quite as tall as the Maru girls.

I was most excited to compare Claire to my FAO Schwarz Götz doll (Nina), who, as a reminder, is basically a less expensive Hannah doll that was made for the United States market.  I was excited to see what similarities the FAO and Happy Kidz lines might have, and also just excited to take Nina out of her box after a 7-year imprisonment!

Nina came in a large red cloth box that included an extra outfit and a microphone accessory.  This is how she looked right out of the box:

Gotz Hannah

Nina balances best when she's leaning forward a little bit, which I think exacerbates the intensity of her wide-eyed expression.

She's like that person who leans in a bit too close as they're telling you something really important.

Because of how long Nina had been trapped in her box,  I wasn't too surprised to see some yellowing in the glue on her silver shoes:

This was my first clue that the FAO dolls were not made to the same standard of quality as the Happy Kidz.

I remember falling in love with Nina's face when I saw her at the store years ago.  She really got under my skin.  I even left the store without her and then dreamed about her for weeks and had to go back and see if she was still there.  Some of you are familiar with that feeling, I'm sure.

Now, perhaps because I've been looking at Claire a lot recently, I don't love Nina's expression as much as I used to.  She looks scared or startled.

She has beautiful eyes and natural lips.  Her face is very babyish, though, and seems to represent a younger child than the Happy Kidz line.

Götz Hannah

In fact, Nina's face reminds me of a Lee Middleton baby doll that I used to own...which might explain why my original attraction was so strong.

Nina's eyebrows have hair detail, but they don't look as precise and well-painted as Kitty and Claire's eyebrows:

Her eyes have the same pattern as Kitty and Claire's eyes.  They also have applied lashes on top and painted lashes underneath:

And a lot of dust!
Nina's lips are parted more than Claire's, and have a lot of deep line detail.  I like the color choice of these lips, although they look better from far away than they do up close.  Up close,  I wish the color was slightly less opaque:

I also find myself wishing that Nina would close her mouth.  My mom used to get really irritated with actresses who went through entire movies with their mouths slightly open.  I think it started with Jennifer Connely in Labyrinth.  I was lusting after David Bowie while my Mom was yelling at the screen, "close your mouth!"  I think it made an impression on me because now I notice it all of the time.

Sorry, Bella.  Why do I go on these tangents?

Back to Nina.

She came wearing an outfit that seems like it's intended for a slightly older child than the face mold implies.  It's a belted, glittery purple tunic over stretch leggings:

The fabric feels a little scratchy and rough.  It's not as high-quality as the fabric in Claire's outfit.  The style of the outfit is also nowhere near as creative.  It's basically a disco Santa outfit with snappy flats and no hat.

It's a good outfit for standing at the mic and singing, though!

Toys R Us

Too bad Nina looks so terrified of the spotlight!


This pose is a bit more natural for her:


The microphone is a fun accessory.  It's plush on the outside (the mic itself is fully plush), but the stand has a weight at the bottom and a solid rod in the middle to keep it upright.  The mic attaches to the stand with velcro (clever!) and has an elastic handle to help Nina hold it securely.

The problem with the mic as an accessory for Nina is that she doesn't have any joints in her elbows, so she can't hold the mic anywhere near her mouth.

Nina's body is all vinyl and only has five points of articulation.  I think it's the same as the Hannah body, although the quality of the vinyl might be different:

She has a different torso mold than Claire:

Nina's hand and foot molds look the same as Claire's, but of course the elbows and knees are not jointed.  Nina's left leg is molded into a slightly bent position, though:

Nina's joints are elastic-strung.  She can do decent side splits:

And full front-to-back splits:

Claire and Nina are very similar in terms of height and proportion, but Claire is just a bit slimmer and has a longer neck.  Subtle things in both her body shape and her face make her look older.

FAO Schwarz Nina and Happy Kidz Clara. 
Happy Kidz Clara and FAO Schwarz Nina.
I prefer Claire's articulated body.  It balances beautifully despite the knee joints, and the extra movement is really nice to have.

When it was time to redress the girls, I decided to try out Nina's extra full outfit.  

It's a pink velour track suit with silver FAO Schwarz logos on the front and back.  The outfit also includes a white tee shirt and a pair of...running boots?

From the Nike Sherpa line.
The pink, fleece-lined boots are very similar to Claire's boots, but they have lightweight foam soles instead of hard rubber soles with molded treads.  They don't have any yellowing glue, though, which is nice.

I took Nina's ponytail down to see what would happen to her hair when it was loose.  It looks fine (and feels wonderfully soft), but it could use a bit of taming.  I was afraid to brush it for fear of ruining the nice curls.  I'll probably sell or give Nina away, so I want to keep her looking as nice as possible.

You're going me??
Oh, man.  These dolls can really get to me with their wide-eyed, innocent expressions.

I like Nina better with her hair down, probably because the hair frames (and narrows) her face and makes her look less babyish.

Nina and Claire can share clothes perfectly.  Claire was anxious to try Nina's pink track suit:

Happy Kidz Clara in Nina's outfit.
I think it looks great on her!

Here's the back of the outfit, since I forgot to show it to you earlier:

There's a silver FAO crown applied to the back of the sweatshirt:

FAO Schwarz Nina's sweatshirt.
The details on this track suit are great. I love the ribbed cuffs, the metal zipper, and the fact that the hood fits all of the way up over Claire's head...and even has strings to tie it in place!

Here are a few more pictures of lovely Claire:


She is a wonderful, endearing, high-quality doll.  I wish her eyes were real glass, but I suppose that wouldn't be a practical choice for a play doll.

I bought Kitty and Claire in January of 2016.  At that time of year, it seemed like a good idea to buy each of them a winter coat that matched their eyes.

Winter coats are not exactly the ticket here in Maine this summer, with temperatures above 90 and humidity in the suffocation zone, but despite all of that, I was determined to show off Claire's cozy blue pea coat.  

So, I decided to bundle her up and take her into the woods for an adventure.  That was a better option than taking her to the beach in a fur-lined coat, you have to admit.  

Besides, I like all of the different lighting options that can be found in the Maine forest:

In the direct sunlight, you can see how shiny and bright Claire's beautiful hair is:

Her eyes also glisten in the direct sun.  The color of these eyes is my favorite out of all three of the Götz dolls I own:

Top Box Philosopher

Claire wandered through the trees, marveling at the delicate branches...

...while I marveled at how blue her eyes look in the shade!

At this particular state park, the rangers prefer it if people stay on the marked paths.  I prefer to stay on the marked paths to avoid ticks.  Claire, however, kept urging me to go just slightly off the trail so that she could investigate interesting things, like this bump on the side of a tree that served as a perfect chair!

Claire was a little nervous to be sitting up so high...but you can see that she's secretly thrilled by the adventure:

Once she relaxed and started to look around, she realized how much more she could see from this new height!


A little further down the trail, Claire spotted this perfect, ladder-like climbing tree and wanted to stop again:

Toy Box Philosopher

We saw four chipmunks, a red squirrel, a blue jay, and we heard a pileated woodpecker!

I've been curious about how my iPhone might handle doll photography, especially since my little point-and-shoot Cannon is getting very old and often mucks up the color balance.  

I asked Claire if we could stop in one mossy section of the path and take a few comparison photos.  My Cannon is on the left and my iPhone is on the right, below:

The detail in the iPhone picture is not very good.  It's quite grainy up-close, but the colors are richer and darker.  The biggest difference is in Claire's red hair.  With the Cannon, it has a bright orange-ish glow, and with the iPhone it looks shinier--and almost brown.  Neither one is perfectly accurate

The hair looks a bit more like the iPhone picture in real life (mostly because of the shine).  However, the detail I can get from the Cannon is way better.


As the day got hotter and hotter, Claire stripped off her heavy coat and we began to seek out shade.  I really love the play of light on Claire's hair and face in the shade:

We also began to seek out water...but there wasn't much of it!

Our shade-seeking meant that we were often surrounded by beautiful moss:

I love how Claire's hair shines against the deep green of this mossy tree!

Toy Box Philosopher

Against another tree, Claire discovered these huge, shiny shelf fungi that were almost the same color as her hair!

I think her favorite discovery was this dead birch tree, though.  She was able to peel off strips of bark and pretend she was reading from an ancient scroll!

Meanwhile, I was able to get this photo, which I think captures Claire's coloring with the most accuracy:


As I go through my doll room and look at all of the things I've bought over the years, my mind is focused on who I want to see on my shelves when all's said and done.  18-inch dolls are not my favorite scale, so it's unlikely that I'll keep more than three or four of them in the long run, and the competition for those spots is fierce.  

FAO Schwarz's Nina is a lovely, sturdy play doll with excellent accessories, but I won't keep her.  She simply can't measure up to the quality and overall appeal of the Happy Kidz girls.  Even with Kitty and Claire, when I first saw them in their boxes I figured they'd be valuable dolls to review, but pretty easy to sell or give away afterwards.  Again--I'm not really looking to add more 18-inch dolls to my collection.  However, Claire has stolen my heart.  She is a gorgeous, photogenic little thing who is incredibly well made.  She might be a play doll, but I would proudly display her next to my 18-inch Zwergnase Ivanca or any other art doll for that matter.  Her vinyl is heavy, smooth, and has a beautiful color.  Her hair is soft, shiny, brilliantly-colored, and super-easy to manage.  She looks good in any outfit, and her own clothing is well-made and creative.  I adore the uniquely beautiful teal-grey color of her wide, expressive eyes.  I see so many emotions in her simple expression, and each one provokes a different emotion in me.  There's very little I'd change about Claire--just those funny elbow joints.

For a long time, Maru and Friends' Savannah was probably the reigning favorite among my 18-inch crowd, but Happy Kidz Claire just took over that hard-won spot.  As the doll count in the house slowly decreases, this special girl isn't going anywhere...except perhaps on another hike in the woods with me someday.

Toy Box Philosopher


  1. What a beautiful doll Claire is. I can see why you don't want to part with her.

  2. I'm so happy to see this review here. I'm a long time reader of your blog (and I enjoy even the reviews about dolls I really don't care about) but I haven't commented yet. I do now because Götz dolls are really my thing. They are quite easy to find here in Hungary and I aquired a small but treasured collection of them since my childhood. My favourites are the handcrafted play dolls like Hannah and Happy Kidz. I think older handcrafted dolls were even a bit better quality than they are today.
    I completely understand why you won't let go lovely Claire. I love how her expression changes with every tilt of her head. Her face is so full of emotions. Kitty is also gorgeous, I think the face mold needs some getting used to but it really has won me over. Also as far as I know she's the only green-eyed Happy Kidz or Hannah doll. I'm not very keen on her freckles though as they are very symmetric and don't look natural to me.
    All in all, it was a plasure to see these dolls on your blog. Great review as always, your forest photos are especially beautiful.

  3. Thank you for another excellent review. There is another Happy Kidz face mould- Anna- who has a lovely gentle smile and blonde hair.

  4. I think Nina either needed bangs or her hairline to be a little bit further down on her forehead. It just doesn't quite look balanced.

  5. Claire is lovely. I strongly considered Avery (the Asian mold) or Nina when they were out but ended up walking because of how toddlerish they looked. The nude doll really confirms that. Thank you!

  6. Loved the review! Claire is a keeper for sure. Great photos :-)

  7. Thanks for the review! Claire is adorable!

  8. Maricha:
    What a great review.:-) Thank-you.
    Claire is such a pretty doll.
    I think the reason why Nina looks scared to you is that she doesn't have the thick dark lashes brown-eyed, brunettes usually have. That wouldn't be apparent while she was in the relative shade of her box but it's obvious in full light.

  9. Very interesting to see these dolls featured on your site. I received Happy Kidz Emily (just like Rosie sculpt) as a Christmas gift one year after unsuccessfully trying to get Luisa. I particularly like my doll's brown eyes so it is interesting to see your doll photos of her with green eyes. When I saw the same sculpt the following year with red hair and freckles I was tempted to get this doll also in red hair (and may still do that someday) but I love my soulful doll Emily. So preciously girlish. I think these dolls are especially expressive for a play doll and stand out in a collection.

  10. I can see why Claire is a keeper! She is lovely in all the outdoor photos.

  11. Enjoyed your review of Claire. I have Happy Kidz Katie and I love her. Wish I was as talented with a camera as you are because our two dolls are so similar and I would like to photograph Katie. Maybe I will give it a try someday. Thank You for a wonderful review.

  12. I always enjoy your reviews. Some Götz dolls are now available in the US. Clara/Claire is not but I just bought Happy Kidz Luisa For $99 with free shipping with is less that I paid for Charlotte last year when I bought her in England. I am not fond of the 2018 version of this doll which you posted in your review but 2017 Charlotte looks like a Spanish princess and has a unique soulful face. The site for Götz in the US:

  13. Do you know how Happy Kidz compare to Kidz n Cats?

  14. Unfortunately, My Dolls Best Friend UK closed up shop April 2018 though they still might sell off old inventory. Petalina is the only UK shop that sells quite often to! The USA.
    BTW I still have your mod Masterpiece Snow White which I bought on eBay and she is quite happy here. She says hello.... LOL

  15. You're very thorough, even now when you're cutting back and not focusing as much on whether or not you'd recommend something. I agree with your assessment of the faces here and I'm kind of amused the line is called Happy Kids. Dolls don't have to have a huge smile plastered on their faces to be cheerful and it's great to find some variety in facial expressions but those seem a bit ironic. I also agree with how tempting Claire is. Maybe you could hold off on selling her for now, since you have so many that need new homes anyway, and then decide if you really want to keep her once you've cleared out a bunch of room in your collection. XD

    Also, simply because I mentioned this awhile ago, I bought some of Target's Fresh Dolls. They're quite nice, just as good as Fashionistas if you want a little articulation thrown in. Not as expressive as Made to Move of course, but they can sit very nicely, with their ankles crossed if they like, and any clothing that will fit curvy Barbie will fit them.

    I noticed recently they arrived on Amazon and I just found out they've got clothes for sale too (although it's more expensive than the dolls?) They also have a website now! I like the bios, although it's a bit fashion focused. The only real downside with these dolls is that I believe they all use the same face mold, but I could be wrong.

    If you're still remotely interested, I noticed that they have Indigo on sale right now. She comes with an extra outfit, extra shoes, and she has all of her hair braided. It's an amazing deal! I shouldn't, technically I've spent all of my discretionary for the month already, but I'm deeply tempted to snag her now, before the price increases again. XD

    I hope eBay is going well. :)

    1. Also, minor update. I found out why Indigo, for instance, is so cheap. They're going to add wrist articulation! So they're clearing out the older dolls. ^_^

  16. Emily, have you seen the new Hairdorables blind boxes?

  17. I have this doll, too and while the slightly bigger bodied 18" dolls are not my favorite, I can't bring myself to sell her. She's just that cute! Excellent review, btw!