Friday, December 24, 2021

Lottie in Manhattan

One of the fantastic things about where we live in New Jersey is that we're only about an hour away from Manhattan by train.  For most of my life, trips to the Big Apple were a rare, special occasion.  Now it's possible to go to there for a day trip...which is exactly what we did a few weeks ago!  

The day before our trip, my husband said, "you should bring a doll with you to photograph for the blog!" because that's how awesome he is.  I can't believe I didn't come up with that idea myself, but I've gotten out of some of my old habits.  I immediately started to think about what a good travel companion doll would be.

One of the reviews I'd been thinking about in the days preceding our trip was a revisit of the Lottie doll line by Arklu.  I've reviewed these dolls already, but that was back in 2013.  The company has come up with some wonderful and diverse new characters in the last few years.  I had several of the most interesting dolls queued up in my shopping cart online, but obviously there was no time to get those shipped before our trip.  So, I went to our local toy store and bought one of the dolls they had in stock.  

This doll ended up being perfect for our trip.  She's called "Walk in the Park," and we got to take her for a walk in the park: Central Park:

Walk in the Park Lottie doll by Arklu, $24.99.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Patron Post! Small Wonder Sweet and Happy Babies by Madame Alexander

One of the things that's happening over on Patreon is that my generous Bear Hug Patrons get to select a doll for me to review!  They also get first refusal to purchase the discounted doll in the shop.  This is a great arrangement from my perspective because it encourages me to look at dolls that I might not notice otherwise.  I have two of these special reviews in the works so far, and this one seemed appropriate right now since we've just been talking about baby dolls.  Once I complete the review requests for my current Bear Hug Patrons, I'll open up that tier to new members.

I have 28 Patrons at the moment, which is just amazing.  I honestly wasn't sure if this experiment would work.  The somewhat random goal that I have in the back of my head right now is to reach 30 Patrons by the end of 2021, so if you're a regular visitor here and have a few bucks per month to spare, please stop by and join the fun! 

For today's Patron Post I'll be taking a look at two play babies from Madame Alexander's Sweet and Happy Baby collection.  This review is made possible by all of my wonderful Patrons, and was requested by Arin Ritchey.

Sweet and Happy Baby by Madame Alexander, $31.99.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Sunday Surprise: Baby Born Surprise Mini Babies (and more)!

Happy Sunday!  I have officially lived in New Jersey for one year today!  And I'm so much happier than I was on this day last year.  Last year I drove seven hours from Maine in my tiny Prius packed full with all of the remaining belongings from our old house, plus four stressed-out dogs and two small cats.  It was a long journey!  But here I am sitting on my couch typing up a surprise review, which, if you'd asked me a year ago, is not something I ever thought would happen again.

I really like surprise toys, and I especially like surprise mini babies.  I don't collect baby dolls in general anymore, so I'm not sure why babies are so appealing to me in a small scale--and especially with a surprise theme.  Maybe it's because babies bring several surprises with them in real life?  Or perhaps it's just because mini babies are great little toys, either on their own as something to nurture, or as a fun new addition to a doll family.

In any case, I've reviewed a few different surprise babies over the years, including Zapf Jolly Dollies and the unrivaled Cabbage Patch Babyland Mini Kids--which are still probably my favorite surprise mini of all.  But I wanted to see what kinds of mini babies are available on the market today, so I focused on this theme during one of my Target missions.  The first surprise baby toy I found was this one, by Zapf and MGA Entertainment:

Baby Born Surprise Mini Babies, $9.99.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

B-Kind Dolls by Jada Toys

Finally, after living here for almost a year, I ventured out and found the closest Walmart.  I wanted to check out the Honey Bee Acres toys that many of you have recommended--especially the unicorn! Unfortunately, the first Walmart I visited had barely any toys (so depressing), let alone any of the Honey Bee Acres sets.  It was a pretty big let-down.  So, I went to another Walmart last week (who knew there were so many Walmarts around here?) and struck out again: no Honey Bee Acres.  The second Walmart I visited had more toys on the shelves, though, so at least I had a fun time browsing.

I ended up having to purchase the Honey Bee Acres toys online, but I'm so grateful that I visited these stores, because I found a Walmart-exclusive doll line that I'm incredibly excited about!  These dolls were literally the most attractive toy on the shelves at both of the Walmart stores I visited.

The line is called B-Kind (which I think is a good way to live), the packaging and the dolls are eco-friendly (which I think is really important), the dolls look highly-articulated (an obsession of mine), and each character comes with a D.I.Y. project (I love projects!).  It's basically like Jada Toys was saying, "hey, Emily, we made this doll just for you. What do you think?"

B-Kind doll Brianna by Jada Toys (29.97).

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Creatable World by Mattel

Creatable World was introduced in 2019, shortly after I stopped blogging.  I was instantly drawn to the dolls because of their wigs (which remind me of Liv dolls), their manageable size, and their refreshingly gender-neutral presentation.  I almost re-activated the blog briefly back then just to do a review of this ground-breaking line, but I was afraid to fall back into my old bad habits.  I still purchased two of the sets, though (bad habits!) and stored them away.

I would have sworn that I'd donated my Creatable World sets to the Goodwill when we moved last year.  In the blurred flurry of clearing out the house, I let go of a lot of things that I never thought I would be able to part with.  But when I was sorting through some moving boxes a few months ago, I found both of the sets! I guess they made the cut.  It was extra-fun to find these dolls because I couldn't remember exactly which ones I'd chosen, and I love a good surprise!

One of the sets included this lovely individual, who I've named Riley:

Creatable World doll dc-220 by Mattel, $29.99.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a Wildflower doll, Fawn, who I never had the chance to share back when I first got her.  She, Kate, and Tara are among my very favorite dolls.  I hope it will be possible to buy another one of these treasures some day, but the Etsy shop is currently closed.

I hope everyone--whether you celebrate Thanksgiving today or not--is having a great day!  I'm very thankful for all of you. :)

Wildflower doll, Fawn.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Rainbow High Dolls, Part Two: Vanessa Tempo

I'm back, as promised, to follow up on my previous review of Rainbow High dolls.  It's been really fun to read through the comments on the last post.  I love hearing about everyone's personal reactions and interactions with these dolls!  It's also neat to learn that many of the Rainbow High fashions are based on iconic outfits from the real fashion world.  Thank you for this revelation, WigglyWogglyWaffles, I had no idea!  Although Sheryl's outfit did look familiar (Sév filled me in that it's one of Cher's outfits in the movie Clueless).  It'll be fun to look at the dolls through this lens from now on--to see if I can identify any of their copycat fashions.

I'm reviewing a second Rainbow High doll in this post because it's always nice to look at two examples from a certain doll line, just to make sure any flaws or highlights aren't flukes.  I chose one of the newest dolls I could find for this addendum because I figured there'd be some interest in her, and also because she's presumably a good representation of the current level of quality.

Meet Vanessa Tempo:

Rainbow High's Vanessa Tempo, $49.99.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Rainbow High Dolls by MGA Entertainment

One of the things I'm doing over on Patreon is giving my Patrons a chance to weigh in on what review they want to see next.  Two weeks ago, they picked this Rainbow High girl over a different play doll.  The vote was extremely close, though, so the other doll will probably get her review soon.  I'm happy that this review won, because I've been extremely curious about the Rainbow High brand for several months now.

When I was taking a break from doll reviews and putting all of my energy into My Twinn restorations, I rarely visited any kind of toy store.  This is highly unusual for me, since I get a huge amount of happiness from just being around toys.  But something happened about a month before I started writing here again: I was at Target looking for a game in the electronics section, and I found myself wandering into the adjacent toy aisles, unable to resist the pull.

I didn't give all of the toys the scrutiny they deserved on that day, but I did a broad sweep of the doll sections to see what was new.  The one thing I saw that stuck in my head was the Rainbow High collection.  The Rainbow High dolls were displayed opposite the L.O.L. toys, and I found the cohesive color schemes of the Rainbow High characters to be a soothing and attractive contrast to the neon chaos of the L.O.L. shelves.  Each Rainbow High character has clothing and hair that match, and so looking at all of the dolls together is like looking at a big rainbow.  It's very seductive.  And of course I'm always roped in by dolls with interesting eyes and nice articulation.  I almost bought a doll on the spot--I really wanted to see what the articulation was like--but told myself it was silly since I wasn't doing reviews anymore.

As you can imagine, as soon as I decided to write reviews again, the first thing I did was scoot back to Target and buy a Rainbow High doll!  Here's the one I picked:

Rainbow High's Georgia Bloom, $27.99.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Sunday Surprise: Li'l Woodzeez Mini Acorn House and Babeez by Battat!

I can't believe that we're almost a week away from Thanksgiving.  It just won't sink into my brain.  Part of the problem is the weather here in New Jersey.  For example, yesterday I was walking in the sun in a tee shirt, and then a few hours later there was a thunderstorm.  A thunderstorm!  In mid-November!  It still feels so much like summer to me.  It feels like Christmas when I go into Target, though.  The toy aisles are packed with stuff, and holiday trimmings are filling up the rest of the store.  Even though I'm in a perpetual state of confusion about what time of year it is, I've been enjoying my research missions to Target more than usual with all of the new stock!

During one of my recent trips to Target I focused on looking at what surprise-themed toys are available these days.  There are a lot of them!  I picked a few of my favorites to share with you over the coming months, and right at the top of my list is an old favorite: the Li'l Woodzeez.

Li'l Woodzeez continue to stand out to me because of the high cuteness factor and low price.  They're still selling the adorable Tickle Your Tastebuds bakery play set (seemingly unchanged from the one I reviewed in 2012) for the same $20 price.  And I picked up this whole collection of surprises for $11: 

Li'l Woodzeez Mini Acorn House Surprise ($4.99) and two Surprise Babeez ($2.99 each).

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Barbie Signature Looks by Mattel: Part Two

I'd like to start with a huge thank you to my very first Patrons!  I am so honored that you would pitch in and help me with my re-invented dream for this blog.  I'm enjoying the Patreon site, and think we can have some fun over there.  For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about, I've just launched a new Patreon page where you can pitch in a few bucks per month to help the future of the blog.  It's also a place where you can chat and even help me figure out what to review next.  Please consider joining us!

Today's post is a follow-up to my review of the Barbie Looks male characters.  Some of the background and deeper thoughts about this line can be found in that review.  I still feel regret that I didn't include Model #1 (Nina) in this review, since she's very beautiful and would have added to the fun, but the three characters I bought kept me plenty busy.  They are a delightful and diverse trio:

Barbie Signature Looks dolls from left: Model #2, Model #6, and Model #3.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Barbie Signature Looks by Mattel: Part One

Before I start talking about the Barbie Looks dolls, I want to mention a new development that I hope will keep the blog sustainable: I'm on Patreon!  Many of you suggested that I start a Patreon page a few years ago. I was too silly to take that advice then, but I've seen the light.  You can find my page here, and it's also linked in the right hand column.  A few dollars a month from you would make a huge difference to me. This will also add some new ways for us to connect, and you might even get a discount in my store!  I love my work, but I need to not loose huge amounts of money be more savvy about the business side of things. I'm excited to get my first patron!

With that out of the way, we can move on to the fun part of this post!  As many of you know, I was enthralled by the Barbie Made to Move dolls when they first came out.  With all of the dolls I sold or gave away during the last few years, I've kept my Made to Move girls.  They have extraordinary articulation for their price point, and I also think they're very attractive.  During the process of getting back up-to-speed with recent doll developments, I was delighted to discover that Mattel has expanded their highly-articulated offerings to include petite dolls, curvy dolls, tall dolls, and male dolls!  Dude!

Today I'll review the two highly-articulated male model dolls in the Barbie Looks collection, and then in a few days I'll showcase three of the female dolls from the same line.  I've had a lot of fun with this group!

Barbie Looks Model #5 (left) and Model #4 (right).

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Biggers by Berjuan

Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment on the last post!  It was fun (and emotional) to read your messages and see some familiar faces again.  Things have been a bit hectic as I get this blog fully functional, so I'm sorry I haven't had time to reply, but your warm welcomes made me even happier to be back in the saddle.

Let me take a few seconds to mention some new things here on the blog.  First of all, most of the dolls that I feature will end up in the Virtual Garage Sale store within 24 hours of their review.  You can find the tab for that store at the top of the page.  Also, I'll announce new reviews after I write them by putting a quick blurb on Twitter.  I'll do the same thing for new dolls at the My Twinn Project Shop.  I might occasionally put other observations on Twitter, too.  My old Twitter account got locked, so now I'm @TBP_emily.  I've added a Twitter button to the top right column over there if you're interested.

I stumbled on the dolls I'm reviewing today quite by accident.  I was browsing Amazon, and a suggestion popped up for me to look at a funny little doll from a line called The Biggers.  I assumed that the odd brand name referenced the huge head and eyes on this doll.  Since I'd just been thinking about popular big-headed, large-eyed dolls like Na! Na! Na! and Rainbow High, I was intrigued to find a less well-known version of this style of doll.  I clicked on Amazon's thumbnail and literally giggled out loud when I saw the full-sized photo of the doll.  She was bizarre and charming:

The Biggers doll Abba Lingg by Berjuan.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sunday Surprise: Na! Na! Na! Surprise Dolls by MGA Entertainment!

Surprise!  I'm back to write some more reviews.  As it turned out, after my life settled down, I started to miss this place a lot.  So here I am, reporting to you from my new home in New Jersey, where I already have a big queue of dolls that I want to review!  There have been some great releases over the last few years that I really want to talk about.  Things will be pretty much the same around here, except for a few little changes that we can discuss later.

Right now I want to talk about the Na! Na! Na! Surprise dolls. Everybody else on the planet probably knows about these dolls, but I knew nothing about them until I saw a few at my local Target store about a week ago.  The printed fabric faces looked really interesting to me, and of course the surprise theme is right up my alley.  I figured this would be a fun way to resurrect the old Sunday Surprise series.

The Na! Na! Na! Surprise dolls were originally released at the end of 2019, and there have already been (I think) 8 waves.  That's a lot of dolls in a short period of time!  Let's take a closer look at a few of these cuties and see what surprises they have in store.

Na! Na! Na! Surprise Teens doll, Alaska Frost (2021).