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.

The doll in that cover shot is not actually the doll I saw on Amazon, but one I found later the same day.  

After I saw the photo on Amazon, I scoured the internet for more information about these dolls.  They're made by a Spanish company called Berjuan that has been around since the late 1970s.  I don't think I've ever owned or reviewed a doll from this company before, but the name is similar to Berjusa, which is the company started by the Berenguer family (also from Spain).  That company is famous for their realistic baby dolls.  I'm not aware of any relationship between the Berenguer/Berjusa and Berjuan companies.

The Berjuan company offers a lot of baby dolls and a few 12 and 16-inch play dolls, but their most distinct product is surely The Biggers.  There's a delightful range of characters in The Biggers collection, and I was particularly captivated by a green-haired girl called Margaret Frost:

And a smiling Black girl named Jollie Bonnaire:

Unfortunately, even after an exhaustive search, I was only able to find two Biggers characters available in the United States: the one I found on Amazon ($80) and one from a secondary seller through Sears ($90).

Of course after I had purchased both of these dolls and photographed them, I learned that there's a doll shop in Spain (Dolls and Dolls) that will ship to the United States.  At this shop, The Biggers cost 52.95 (which is $61.67, not including shipping overseas).  Sigh.  So I could have had the two dolls I was coveting the most.  On the bright side, though, now I know of a good source for Spanish and other European dolls!  That will surely come in handy.

But let's look at the two dolls that I found here in the United States.  The first one I'll show you is the first one that I bought--the funny girl from Amazon who started this whole adventure:

Hi there!
She came in a large, beautifully-decorated cardboard box with a plastic window.

The story behind the name, The Biggers, is carefully detailed on the back of the box:

I'll zoom in a bit so you can read the text yourself, but since the writing is so tiny, I'll also give a brief synopsis:

The basic idea is that The Biggers are humanoid creatures (also known as gremlins, trolls, or goblins), who live amongst humans and feed on the chemistry that is released when people laugh.  They can only be seen by children, but their images can be captured in photography.  They get their name, The Biggers, in part from the fact that they have large eyes which can see beyond the physical, but also because they are the largest in a variety of similar humanoid creatures.

Even though adults are unable to see The Biggers, we can tell when one is around because they inspire spontaneous laughter.  That totally explains why I giggled out loud when I saw this doll on Amazon!

Within the floral box decorations are paper leaves that look like they're cut from the pages of a book:

I tried really hard to decipher the basic gist of the book from reading the visible words, but it's pretty garbled.  The names Ruskin and Leighton stood out to me.  Both are figures from the late 19th century;  Ruskin was a writer and art critic, Leighton was a painter and sculptor.

The other section of text seems more like a series of lists, including words like "dolls" and "toys:"

I don't know why things like this fascinate me so much, but I wish I could have sleuthed out the source of those pages!

Anyway, the top of the cardboard box opens to reveal a large plastic window and a better view of the doll:

Here she is with the glare of the plastic removed:

I love that she's waving hello.
The first thing I noticed when I took the plastic window off the box is that the doll smells like vanilla.  It's exactly like the smell that comes on Paola Reina dolls.  I really love the smell, but it might not work for anyone who is sensitive to fragrances.

She comes with a few hand tags:

And a little scroll:

The doll was secured in her box with two rubber bands: one around her waist and another around one foot.  The rubber bands were hooked into the back of the box.  It was refreshingly easy to get her out!

Here's everything that came in the box:

Notice that the doll doesn't stand on her own particularly well.  That huge head (and huge hair!) make her top-heavy.  I had to lean her forward in order to get her to balance.

One of the hand tags reveals her name, Artey Birnbaun (love it).  It also says that she's from Prague:

The little scroll is a reprint of The Biggers legend that was featured on the back of the box:

Here's Artey doing her best to stand up straight:

Has she made you giggle yet?
And here's her enormous hair from the back:

The hair was flattened from being in the box:

I had a hard time making sense of the hair right away.  It was really poofy on top, and I couldn't run my fingers through it or anything:

Turns out that sections of hair from either side of the head were tied up on top with a rubber band:

Once I took that rubber band out, the hair made more sense.  It's quite long, and has a rooted part on Artey's left side, with two fabric bows on the right side:

The curls are soft and the hair feels very full:

The wefts are rooted pretty well, and the curls do a good job of hiding the scalp:

I didn't brush this hair with my wire brush.  I've learned my lesson with that kind of thing.  But I did comb it with my fingers.

Artey's large head has round (slightly wonky) blue eyes, detailed eyebrows, pursed lips, and a wonderful spray of freckles:

Her jug-handle ears are adorable and remind me of an Animal Crossing character.

Her profile is not flat like the Na! Na! Na! dolls.  She has a ski-jump nose, full lips, and even a chin! 

Artey's stationary inset eyes have a wonderful level of detail.  I wish they could move from side to side like Tonner's Patience, though!  That would be really cute.  

Her eyelashes are glued in place.  They're very thin and delicate, and as a result, they're slightly ragged--especially at the tips:

To me, the freckles look perfect.

She has nice detail in her little mouth, too.  I like that it has a bit of shine:

Artey is wearing a turtleneck shirt and a black tulle skirt with ribbon trim:

She also has cute (slightly baggy) striped tights and imitation leather shoes.

Many of Artey's clothes feel a tad too big for her; her shirtsleeves are a bit too long and her tights are baggy.  I'm not sure if this is intentional, but it comes across as quite endearing.  She's like a little kid who needs a bit of time to grow into her new wardrobe.

The skirt has a stretchy waistband and can easily be pulled on and off over Artey's legs:

Here she is without the skirt:

The tights are thick enough to look like leggings, so the outfit works nicely even without the skirt.

Artey's black hair bow is made out of the same lacy tulle as her skirt.  The bow was easy to untie and remove:

Artey had a smaller pink satin bow in her hair, too.  The pair of bows were secured to a rubber-banded section of hair.  The rubber bands were causing a bit of a mess in that area, though:

She's so cute.  But maybe you've noticed that she's always leaning to her right side, like this:

That posture makes her look quizzical.
I figured that maybe once I got the rest of Artey's clothing off, I could see why she leans so much.

Her shoes are made out of thin imitation leather.  They have small pink hearts glued to the front:

And black foam treads:

The shirt and tights are both easy to remove:

The tights have an elasticized waist and are made out of thick knit fabric:

The shirt closes in back with velcro.  This heathered pink knit is also nice, but not quite as thick as the tights:

Here's Artey without her clothes:

It's a very funny body.  I suspect that she's tipping so much because her soft vinyl legs are warped--especially her left leg.  It's possible that some hot water and re-shaping would fix this problem, but for now it's quite frustrating to have a doll who refuses to stand up straight.

Here she is from the back:

Her torso is made out of hard plastic and her limbs are softer vinyl.  She has five points of articulation.

Her arms have simple rotation at the shoulder.  Like the Na! Na! Na! dolls, Artey's arm movement is limited by the size of her head:

Unlike the Na! Na! Na! Teens, Artey can sit on the floor, thank goodness:

She can even do front-to-back splits:

And sit, somewhat precariously, in a chair:

She has only four molded toes on each foot:

And four fingers on each hand:

Simpsons hands!
Artey's left leg has some strange dark spots in the vinyl.  The spots look like minuscule stains from a distance, but I think they might actually be tiny flecks of debris (like sand?) in the vinyl:

Artey has a ball-jointed neck, which allows for a wonderful range of posing options:

She can look way up...

...way down, and all around in every direction:

After I'd taken all of the pictures in this review, I went back and used some hot water to try and straighten Artey's left leg.  Here she is after the procedure:

Slight improvement.
It definitely helped with her balance, but she still leans to the right and can't stand up very well on her own.

Before straightening (left) and after (right).

Artey's articulation is disappointing.  I love the movement in her neck, but her simple shoulder and hip joints really limit her expressiveness.  For $80 I'd like to have seen more sophisticated joints and better balance.  Even a simple solution, like making her arms out of a more flexible vinyl, would have improved her maneuverability quite a lot.

Speaking of articulation, I was browsing the Berjuan website as I was editing photos for this review, and I was delighted to see that the company is offering a small collection of highly-articulated Biggers!  Of course I wish I'd figured this out sooner, but I wasted no time in ordering one of the newer dolls (these are 99.95 each).  As soon as my articulated girl makes her long journey from Spain, I'll be able to show you the newer body style.  I can hardly wait!

I put Artey's clothes back on, took out the rubber band in her hair, and tried to organize her curls with some small clips:

I think her hair is fantastic!

She's also much easier to photograph when she has a doll stand:

All of this girl's personality comes from her fabulous head.  It's so absurdly large and flexible, and those prominent ears and hypnotic round eyes?  They make me forget all about the shortcomings of her articulation!

I used Artey's black hair bow to tie her curls up on the very top of her head.  I think this style suits her--and it also improves her balance:

She's still making me giggle.

Artey is about 12 inches tall, so she's the same height as Tia, my Made-to-Move Barbie.  She feels like a much larger doll, though, because of her heavy head and big hair!

Um, Artey, your hair is in my way.
Let's see what I can do here...
There!  That's better.
I love Artey's face (especially her freckles!), but when I was looking through The Biggers collection, I was drawn to the dolls with smiling faces.  

I feel very fortunate that the other Biggers doll I was able to find in the United States has one of those happier faces:

She arrived just like this--peeking out at me from the very bottom of her box's plastic window.

Her box got kicked around a bit during shipping, I think:

Artey was disheveled in her box, too, but not quite to this extent.  I think the flexible necks on these dolls allow their large heads to swing around in the box.  The rubber band around the waist is not doing anything to secure that huge head!

Here's the new girl out of her box...looking a bit uncertain:

Wh...where am I?
Her name is Abba Lingg and she's from Cairo:

Where do they get these names, I wonder?  I don't think of Lingg as a particularly Egyptian surname.  I suspect it's German.  The name Abba has Arabic origins, which works, but it's a boy's name that means "father."  It's still a cute name for this girl.

The thing that struck me first about Abba is that her face is red-tinged:

She doesn't look quite this flushed in the catalogue photos:

Her coloring isn't bad, necessarily, just unexpected.  And different from Artey's complexion.

Abba's hair is very straight and tame compared to Artey's.  The hair comes tied with a red ribbon, and the ribbon is secured in place with a plastic band and two plastic ties:

The plastic band mangled Abba's eyelashes, though.  Especially the ones over her left eye:

Her brown eyes are really lovely, though, with some streaks of green and areas of lighter brown around the pupil:

I always enjoy the extra personality in a doll who has side-glancing eyes.

Abba also has a slightly opened mouth--with visible teeth:

I think teeth are a risky thing to attempt with a doll.  They can go spectacularly wrong by either looking like a monotooth:

Ty Li'l Ones doll.
Or just by being horrifying:

A Fuggler by Spin Master.
Lol. Gotta love Spin Master.  That might have to be a future review.

Anyway, I think Abba's teeth are cute.

I'm really glad that I bought two of these dolls, because they handle quite differently.  First of all, Abba stands on her own better than Artey:

Also, her hair is very straight and sleek.  This means that she's not as top-heavy as Artey, and her hair is brushable and easier to tame.

The rooting pattern is similar to Artey's, but Abba's thin hair doesn't hide the scalp as nicely.  She has a rooted center part on the top of her head, but the part does not continue down the back.  

Ponytails would not be a great hairstyle choice:

I love how Abba's ears stick out through her hair!

Are you making fun of my ears?
Abba's outfit is very different from Artey's, too.  In fact, all of the dolls in The Biggers collection have unique outfits--many of which can be purchased separately.  I like the range of available styles.

Abba is wearing a sundress with a lightweight jean jacket, long socks, and imitation leather shoes:

The lapels of the jacket are held down by plastic ties.  I find this a little cheesy, and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to take the ties out:

Worst lapel pin ever.
The jacket is unimpressive overall, actually.  The inside edges are ragged, and it feels too shapeless and floppy to be a proper jean jacket:

Wop, wop.
I ended up leaving the plastic ties in the lapels because it seemed like there was no other way for the collar to hold any kind of shape.

The jacket also appears to have caused some mild staining on the back of Abba's arm:

The jacket looks a bit like it came from a cheaper play doll line.  I was thinking that Abba and Na! Na! Na! Samantha have opposite situations: Samantha's cardigan stood out because it was so much nicer than the rest of her outfit, while Abba's jacket is the thing that doesn't measure up.

I think they should trade:

She did what to Alaska's face??
No matter how nice I am to Abba, she still looks like she doesn't trust me.

You like my face...right?
The rest of the outfit is really great.  The sundress is made out of a fabric that reminds me of linen.  It's covered in colorful printed designs:

The dress closes in back with velcro and has a beautiful bright blue satin ribbon belt:

As you can see, this fabric has some body to it and holds its shape nicely:

The ribbon is attached at the very front of the dress.  I appreciate this because I'm less likely to lose something that is sewn in place!

I fanned the dress out so that I could examine all of the printed detail:

One design says "cottage home:"

Another says "cottage garden:"

I wish one said "cottage cheese."

Instead, there's a smaller sign that says "bliss:"

And then, inexplicably, a sign that says "the garden" in French:

Why are we speaking French all of a sudden?
For an Egyptian doll who was made in Spain, this abrupt language shift is especially perplexing.  Oh, well. C'est la vie.

Underneath her dress, Abba is wearing these puffy pink panties:

Straight out of 1920.
The fabric of Abba's striped socks is similar to that of Artey's tights.  They're reasonably heavy, and tend to fall down a bit (which I find charming):

The shoes are similar to Artey's, but they're blue and do not have a heart decoration on the front:

Here are all of the smaller items of clothing:

Abba's body is not tipped to one side the way Artey's was, which supports the idea that most of Artey's problem was because of that one deformed leg:

Here's a side-by-side comparison with Artey:

Abba is actually tipped a little in the opposite direction.

I had to hold the top of Artey's head with my finger to get that body shot, and you can see that the same trick was not necessary for Abba.

The red satin ribbon in Abba's hair was very easy to remove.  It was not plastic-tied into her head or anything like that--just a simple bow.

Here she is back in (most of) her clothing.  I left out the jacket because I'm not too fond of it.

Nobody wears a jacket in Egypt, either.

And here are the two Biggers together:

I like your hair, Artey.
I like your teeth, Abba!
Good friends already.
I really wanted to take these imps on an adventure outside.  The legend of The Biggers makes me picture these creatures living in the woods or in the wild for some reason--like elves or goblins--but of course their clothing suggests that they live in the suburbs.

Still, I love a good doll adventure, so I headed out to a nearby park.

After a fairly long walk, the girls and I were happy to find this resting bench by a beautiful stream:

The shade in these woods was not ideal for photography, but it was still a fun day.

Abba was delighted to find this interesting, lichen-covered log:

Although she seemed nervous that the loud squirrel nearby was going to run past and knock her over.

Is it coming this way??
Or jump down from above and get her dress dirty:

Is it up there??
She loved playing in the higher vines, though.  For some reason she felt very safe and at home up in the treetop!

Artey was content to stand by the stream and listen to the birds and the running water:

Artey's eyes sparkle just like the water in the background:

She's much more calm and serene than her friend Abba.  

Sometimes she reminds me of an owl with that piercing stare:

In fact, I'd love to watch a staring contest between Artey and an owl!

Cindytav, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Artey might win.
Bottom line?  I always get a rush when I discover an interesting or obscure doll line that I know nothing about.  I mean, that's been happening a lot during these last few weeks as I get myself back up-to-speed here, but I still love it.  The discovery of The Biggers feels more special than usual because these dolls are from halfway around the world...and are never going to show up in a Target store in New Jersey.  They feel like hidden treasures to me.  I'm very curious to hear if any of you are familiar with the brand!

The most glaring flaw with The Biggers is that they have skinny, warp-prone vinyl legs that can't support the weight of their planet-like heads.  Neither of the dolls I bought can balance well on their own (at least not with normal posture) and Artey's left leg was so deformed that her whole body listed to the right.  I was unable to photograph her without using a doll stand.  Furthermore, the articulation in the simple bodies is underwhelming.  The addition of an elbow joint (or more flexible arm vinyl) would have made a big difference.  I do love the articulation in the neck, though.  That area has a highly-versatile ball joint that allows the expressive heads to move in almost any direction.

The packaging in this line is lovely.  The cardboard window box is sturdy and beautifully decorated.  The box could be used again and again for storage or shipping, and there's practically no extraneous packaging that needs to be thrown away.  For those who have no space to keep a doll box, it is fully recyclable.

The Biggers' clothing is easy to use and of good quality for the most part, with the exception of Abba's denim jacket.  That item feels like it could have come from a much less expensive doll.  For example, if my Na! Na! Na! Samantha traded her cardigan for Abba's jacket, both outfits would be more cohesive in terms of quality.

I think it's safe to say that I like everything about these dolls from their necks up.  Whether curly or straight, the hair is soft and fun to play with.  The vinyl is also sturdy and has a nice weight, the eyes are realistic and expressive (especially with Abba!), and the face paint is beautifully done.  I think the face molds are extremely cute, with highly exaggerated features (the eyes!), mixed with a hint of realism (the mouths).  Blythe-like proportions combine with a bit of Zwergnase zaniness to create a really engaging face.  On top of all that, the dolls smell good.

I think these dolls are nice enough to tempt adult collectors, but they also seem well-designed for play.  As I was posing Abba with Na! Na! Na! Samantha earlier in the review, I was struck by how much more engaging Abba is.  She feels alive compared to poor Sam, and I can picture little kids being drawn to her.  I know the price difference between the two brands is extreme, but the Na! Na! Na! franchise is promoting multiple purchases with aggressive advertising that probably works well with kids and their families.  With that in mind, if you compare the purchase of one carefully-chosen Biggers doll to two or three Na! Na! Na! dolls, there's really no choice.  I would buy The Biggers doll (for an adult or for a child) every single time.  

This line has enchanted me, and I can't wait to see the fully-articulated character I ordered from Spain.  If she makes me giggle and she can pose well, I'll be hopelessly lost to The Biggers.


  1. these dolls have such sweet faces. you have no idea how happy i am that you're back to blogging!

  2. These are adorable! What cute little button noses they have. I am so glad you chose to start blogging on TBP again. We love reading the reviews! Cari

  3. These are just charming! I went to the actual site, and there is such a nice variety—but I couldn’t figure out how to order one.

  4. They are so lovely! Indeed they remind me of little elves. I loved the little blond boy and the Michael Jackson inspired one.

  5. I love European market dolls. I can smell them now! Not a fan of big eyed things though. Lol

  6. Am I the only one who's reminded of Blythe here? ;)

  7. I love this review, and I'm so happy you're back on this blog !
    I own four Biggers and I love them ! I've got the sweet and romantic Margaret Frost (her hair are so long and the color is amazing. I also own a beautiful Biggers articulated : Amy Winehouse. She has a completely different body and long luscious black hair.
    If you're interested by others "big" head dolls, there is also Miss Minis by llorens (but no big eyes for them).

  8. They remind me a ton of the Tangkou doll you reviewed way back when. From some angles, Abba looks happy and cute, but from others she looks nervous or downright terrified. The danger of showing teeth: even on the same doll, it looks like a playful grin sometimes and a fearful grimace others. But I agree that her eyes are wonderful, and I love the giant ears on these guys.

  9. Never heard of these dolls! Their eyes remind me of marmosets. I think the back story has good potential to draw small kids and they look good enough for adult collectors with quirkier taste too.

  10. Abba's teeth are so cute! And I love Artey's hair so much! I'm with you on the articulation though; I was very surprised at the lack of articulation for such a big price. Can't wait to see the articulated version!

    Your wonderful outdoor photos made me think that it'd be cute if these dolls had more fairy-like clothing, similar to the Disney Fairies, that reflected their fae origins. It could also be cool if the plants their clothes would be based off were types of plants that grew in the country they're from!

    Anyway, amazing review as always and I'll be sure to give you a follow on Twitter! -L

  11. They are cute but the teeth on the other one make 5hinknshe is constantly going and grimacing which do not like.

  12. These girls did make me giggle, but the Spin master stuffie with the teeth?! Nightmare fuel! But definitely unique!

    I bought the blue eyed cutie, both because I like the idea of a little goblin fairy cross creature (we play DnD here!) and because I'm hoping the garage sale helps support the blog or at least cuts costs!

    I might have to actually get a Twitter now that you're posting updates there.

    Thank you for sharing these girls and the European doll store, brightened my day.


  13. No one click that-pretty sure it's a scam of the Nigerian Prince or sell you a bridge variety.

  14. Ok, they are really funny :) A little but scary but funny :) And they remind me of that jungle animal with the bug eyes, a tarsier?

    Great review ❤️

  15. They remind me of the Little Cousins that Playmates made about twenty years ago.
    For the amount of personality in their heads, those bodies are really disappointingly basic.

  16. I am so happy you’re back!! I’ve missed your reviews so much and it made me so happy to come back to this site and see new posts <3

  17. OMG, it's the Toy Box Philosopher! I LOVE YOUR BLOG, but unfortunately I discovered it after you left. I read your Calico Critter review, Ever After High reviews and some more. Your reviews are always so informational, you answered me and my sister's questions about Made to Move Barbies and the difference between Calico Critters and Lil Woodzeez. Your comparisons are beautiful and I like the quirky little jokes underneath the pictures. It’s hard to find a well updated blog nowadays (I understand why), most bloggers whether they write stories or reviews don't update as often as you.

    My sister and I also have a blog. We write weekly or biweekly short stories about our Calico Critters. It’s okay if you don't check it out but here's the link, in case you're interested:

    Well, I am so happy you're back! Cheers, Posh Pear

  18. I really love the ears on the Biggers as well! :0 That's so cute! I'm now kind of wishing more doll lines will give their characters big ears; it adds so much expressiveness, and it's really neat to see them sticking out through the hair.

    The arms are very strange on these dolls-- they're so bowed away from the body?? They look like they've got wires inside them for posing. But since they don't have wires, I'm curious as to why the arms were sculpted like that...

    Artey's front-facing eyes are a bit much for me (her irises look enormous when pointed straight ahead...) but I agree that Abba's eyes look great! So dynamic! And the mouths on both of these characters look really nice in my opinion.

    Thanks for introducing us to this line! I'd never seen or heard of them before, but I think they're really neat! Really enjoyed this review, and your pictures in the park were so nice!

  19. The body is a bit of a letdown but their faces are so endearing! I was laughing out loud at the comments about Alaska's face.

  20. I had never heard of these dolls either! They definitely grew on me as the review progressed. Definitely fun to photograph (and caption, lol).

  21. I am so glad that you are back!!

    This doll is new to me so I have been doing some searching and came across something you might be interested in. In the Blythe customizing community, someone has started customizing Biggers. Here is a 30 minute video that shows them cutting open the head (and more I am sure, I am only 10 minutes into it so far).

  22. As for the name Abba, maybe whoever named her was just a big fan of 1970s Swedish pop music.
    Signed, Treesa

  23. Abba reminds me strongly of VIolet in Incredibles