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.

These dolls originally cost $29.99, but it's now possible to get most of the characters for $20 or under.  I can't confirm, but with no releases since 2020, I suspect the line has already been discontinued.

There were two waves of Creatable World dolls, and the second wave had a lot of repeats from the first wave.

The first wave has six dolls.  Here are five of the characters (they have numbers, not names) as they appear on the first wave packaging:

dc-619, dc-073, dc-725, dc-414, and dc-826.
That group photo does not include Riley since it came from Riley's box.  You have to look at two different sets to see the full first wave.  This list is from a different box and so it includes Riley (dc-220):


The second wave has eight dolls.  Here are those characters as they appear on the packaging.  You can see that only three of these sets are distinct from the first wave:

dc-965, dc-319, and dc-826 are new, the others are repeats.
The repeated characters (like Riley) are not at all different from their first wave versions, as far as I can tell.  They have all of the exact same clothing and accessories.

Mattel also released various basic dolls, wig packs, and clothing sets (this picture only shows a small sampling):


The basic dolls ("starter packs") are all repeats of the first and second wave dolls, but with different underwear and no extra outfits.

The first wave Creatable World dolls come in cardboard window boxes covered with a decorative cardboard sleeve.  The sleeve has bright seafoam green and yellow decorations and big, clear photos of the enclosed doll modeling all of the outfits and accessories:


All of the characters come with six items of clothing, three pairs of shoes, a bag, a hat, and a pair of glasses.

Here's the back of the box sleeve:


The outer sleeve slides off the main box to reveal a sheet of thin white cardboard with the same photos of the doll that were on the sleeve: 


The the flip side has of the sheet, as we saw, has smaller photos of the other five dolls in this wave:


Underneath the photo sheet, the doll and all of their accessories are displayed in little compartments surrounded by seafoam green cardboard.  The whole display is covered with a plastic lid:


Once the plastic lid is removed, all of the items in the box can be lifted out of their compartments.  There are no plastic ties in sight, and no adhesive of any kind.


The plastic compartments are all shaped to fit whatever accessory goes in that spot.  The compartments for the shoes, the glasses, and the doll fit so well that they hold those items in place very securely.

If you look closely at the compartments, you can also see that the surrounding cardboard creates a little overhang.  This helps keep the clothing and accessories from falling out of place.


It took mere seconds to de-box everything:


I really like the presentation of these dolls.  The sets look expensive and appealing right from the start.  There's a fair amount of plastic in the packaging, which is always a bummer, but everything looks attractive and is well-designed for easy access.

One thing I absolutely love about the Creatable World packaging is that I was able to take all of Riley's stuff and put it back into the box in such a way that it's hard to tell anything was ever removed:

Looks brand new.
That last picture was taken at the very end of the review, after I'd played with Riley and all of their accessories for many days.  Pretty cool, right?  This would be excellent for storage, and also for donating to the Goodwill or gifting the doll to a child.

Here's Riley with all of their accessories!

That's a lot of stuff!
I'll look at these accessories in more detail in just a bit, but for now let's focus on Riley.

Riley can stand on their own, but they have the dreaded loose ankles that the earlier Made to Move Barbies have.  After only moving the ankles a few times, the joints became so loose that Riley needed boots in order to stand reliably.


Riley has a medium skin tone and comes wearing a simple black underwear set.  I'm not even sure this is supposed to be underwear--it could certainly be used as a regular tank top and knit shorts.

The shorts slide on and off easily, and the tank top closes in back with velcro:


Riley is just over 10 inches tall, so about an inch and a half shorter than a regular Barbie.  Here's Riley next to Lina:

Creatable World doll next to a Signature Looks Barbie.
The Creatable World kids are a strange scale.  They're almost compatible with Barbie, but miss the mark. It would have been nice if Mattel had designed them to be in the same scale as Barbie--as younger siblings or something--but Riley's head is way too big for this.

I don't have a lot of dolls for size comparisons anymore, as you know (better habits!), but I was very curious about whether Skipper's clothing might fit Riley.  I turned to an old friend, Chelly Wood, who has published all of Skipper's sewing measurements alongside the Creatable World measurements.  Here's a link to that excellent resource.  I think the answer to my question is that some clothes-sharing will be possible, but it's not reliable. 

Riley has curly blonde hair and bright green eyes:


Here's the hair from the side:


And from the back:


The hair is primarily blonde, but there are some chestnut lowlights that are really pretty.

The rooting pattern is nice for this scale, and the hair feels soft and full--if a bit chaotic.


The hair can overshadow Riley's face, so I used the hat from this set to pull some of the curls away for a clearer look:


The style of Riley's face paint has clear Mattel hallmarks--especially the shape of the eyes.  They're like simplified Ever After High eyes:

Ever After High Holly O'Hair.
I especially like the individual hair lines drawn on Riley's eyebrows.  They're much more detailed than a Barbie doll's brows:


My doll has a small paint defect on the upper lip, though.  Fortunately, the lips are so pale that this is virtually impossible to see with the naked eye:


I really like Riley's face.  They have beautiful eyes, natural coloring, and just the hint of a smile.  It's a versatile and friendly visage.


Of course what I really wanted to know about, though, was how well Riley can pose!  Let's take a look at their articulation.

The neck doesn't move as smoothly as a ball joint, but it has good range of motion in all directions.  Riley can move their head from side to side:


And look up...


...and down:


The downward motion feels limited to me.  I think it's because Riley's eyes have a bit of an upward glance, and so better head flexibility would compensate for that.

Riley has rotating hinges in their shoulders, elbows and wrists.  The shoulder joints only allow the arms to lift this far:


And approximately the same degree of flexibility is possible with the joints rotated 180 degrees:


Both the wrists and the elbows can flex to about a 90 degree angle:


So Riley can touch their forehead easily, but cannot touch their mouth:


They can't really cover their eyes well, either unless you think this counts:

Sorry, Riley, doesn't count.
The arms are still very flexible, though, and can achieve many fun positions.


I often found myself having some difficulty getting Riley's arms to bend the right way, and I'm not exactly sure why.  I think it's because I couldn't always tell what configuration the lower arms were in, especially when Riley was wearing long sleeves.


Riley has ball-jointed hips, but they have limited side-to-side movement:


Riley's side-to-side splits improve when they're sitting on the ground with their hips flexed:


Riley's front-to-back splits are perfect!


They can also sit on the floor without tipping over backwards:


And sit very nicely in a chair:



Riley has hinged knees.  These allow for several good kneeling positions:




The knee joint can also spin all of the way around:


Which almost allows for a cross-legged sitting position on the ground:


And in a chair:


Finally, Riley has rotating hinges in their ankles, too.  This allows the feet to flex and extend, and also to rotate in:


And out:


It's really too bad that the ankle joints are so loose.  I'll have to see if I can dream up a way to tighten the joints.  Perhaps some light sanding would help?

Anyway, this was my best pose for Riley, but I had to use some camera trickery in order to get the shot:


Underneath the tank and shorts, Riley has a simple body that's appropriate for a child.  It reminds me a bit of the Lottie doll body:


You can appreciate all 13 points of articulation here.

The body has a few marks and scuffs on the back, but most of the darker areas are little bits of shedded fuzz from the black clothing:


The body has a 2018 copyright and some yellow numbers and letters on the bottom:


The most intriguing thing about the Creatable World dolls is that they have short rooted hair, but also a matching longer wig that can be added on top of the rooted hair to create a different look.  

The hair options look good in Mattel's promotional photos, like this snippet from Riley's box art:


I was eager to see how this idea would work in real life.

Riley's rooted hair is a bit wild, so I didn't notice this right away, but there's actually a side part hidden among all of those curls:


The wig also has a side part, and is made out of the exact same color of hair fiber:


The inside of the wig is vinyl, and there are visible spots of glue that are holding the rooted hair in place:


I have to say that I feel more confident about the construction of the Liv wigs.  That hair is sewn into the vinyl wig cap in a way that looked very secure:

The inside of a Liv wig.
The rooting on the wig is more sparse than the rooting on the head:


The worst thing about this wig is that there's a wide band of vinyl that's visible all around the hairline:


I don't really understand why the wig was designed this way, and I can't imagine how the vinyl band won't stick out like a sore thumb when it's on Riley's head.

The wig fits nicely over Riley's existing hair, and it stays in place pretty well.  I just jammed it onto their head without any thought in this photo--the way a young child might do it:

Not terrible.
I made more of an effort to arrange the hair in this attempt:

Slightly better.
From the front, it looks like Riley has curly bangs, which is cute.

However, sure enough, the band of vinyl on the wig is extremely visible and does not look good at all:

It would help if the vinyl color matched the hair.
I also tried positioning the wig so that it covered all of Riley's rooted hair.  This took a lot of tucking and fiddling, and it doesn't look good because of the silly vinyl band:

Helmet hair.
It was also hard to get all of the hair on the sides tucked under the wig.


It almost looks like Riley is wearing a headband.  I thought I could cover that exposed vinyl with colorful fabric, but none of the fabric strips I tried would stay in place.  The height difference between Riley's forehead and the top of the wig is too great.

The vinyl band irritated me more and more, so I took a sharp crafting knife and cut it off:


I cut as close to the hairline as I could without disturbing the hair plugs.  The vinyl cuts easily, but it's hard to make it look perfectly neat.

Even with the thick band gone, I don't think the wig looks great when I try to conceal all of Riley's rooted hair:



It looks very nice when there's some of the rooted hair sticking out, though:


I can barely see the vinyl:


This is an interesting idea.  At first I wondered why Mattel hadn't just designed the dolls with no hair and offered several interchangeable wigs--exactly like Spin Master did for their Liv dolls or MGA did with the Moxie Teenz.  The problem with Liv and Moxie Teenz dolls, though, especially in the hands of young kids, is that the wigs can get lost or damaged, and then the doll has no hair.  So I appreciate that these Creatable World dolls will always have their short hair.  It's also hard to make a nice short-haired wig.

Riley's curly hair makes the wig design work--especially if the unsightly vinyl band is cut away.  The wig stays on reasonably well, and the curly rooted hair hides the seam of the wig.  Since the curls are a big part of why this wig system works, I was very curious to see how the straight-haired dolls in this collection would look with their wigs.  I'll investigate that a bit later.

For now, let's take a look at Riley's clothing and accessories.  

There are three tops: a long-sleeved metallic silver shirt, a blue hoodie sweatshirt, and a yellow graphic tee:


The yellow tee has a teal tiger design:


The shirt is simple, but well-constructed.  Here's what the inside looks like:


And here's the inside of the blue hoodie:


When compared to something like Vanessa Tempo's green jacket, this clothing is very neat and carefully-sewn. 

Riley comes with three bottom options: a striped skirt, paint splatter overalls, and blue capri pants:


There are also three pairs of shoes: pink slip-ons, blue ballet flats, and metallic silver combat boots:


I really like the combat boots and was hoping that they'd help Riley stand alone!

The accessories with this set are a turquoise beanie hat, a multicolor woven beach bag, and a pair of grey sunglasses:


Here's a closer look at the bag:


It can comfortably hold a pair of Riley's shoes:


And here are the glasses up-close:



I don't sense any distinct fashion style with Riley.  They seem to have eclectic taste--which is reasonable for a pre-teen child.

I tried out several of the "100+ looks" that Mattel advertises.  First, here's Riley wearing the black tank top, blue capri pants, and blue ballet flats:


I love these pants!  I would wear them.  Look at the cute gathered detail at the bottom of each leg:


The shoes are fine, but they don't do much to help Riley stand.

Next, here's the black tank top, the striped skirt, and the silver combat boots:


I don't like this skirt as much as I like the blue pants, but the ruffled edge is fun:


The silver combat boots are great, and they definitely help with Riley's balance:


Here's Riley wearing the paint-splatter overalls with the black tank top and the pink slip-on shoes:


The overalls are very cute and well-constructed.  All of the pockets are real:


The shoulder straps are sewn into place and have decorative nonfunctional snaps.  The overalls open and close in back with velcro.


Here's a closer look at the pink shoes:


To mix things up, I gave Riley a short hairstyle with the beanie cap, and paired the overalls with the silver metallic shirt and ballet flats:


That look is a bit chaotic, but I like how the beanie coordinates with the flats.

Here's short-haired Riley sporting the silver shirt with the striped skirt and combat boots:


I like things to match, so this look should drive me nuts, but I was having a lot of fun with the mix-and-match eccentricity of Riley's wardrobe.  And the boots match the shirt, so that's something!

The shirt and boots also match the sunglasses:


I tried the striped skirt with the tiger shirt and the beanie next:


That might clash a bit too much for my taste. 

I like this combination better:


The stripes in the skirt match the beanie and the shoes, and the black tank is plain enough that it doesn't interfere with the skirt.

The tiger shirt works well with the blue pants and the hoodie sweatshirt:


The hoodie is an excellent piece of clothing.  It zips all of the way up with a working zipper, and the hood is almost big enough to fit over Riley's big hair!


Riley looks ready for the beach!


I also like the blue pants with the silver shirt and silver boots:


I tried taming Riley's long hair with a few mini clips, but I'm not sure this helped much:


Riley is very photogenic in this outfit, though--no matter what that hair is doing:





After trying every combination I could think of, I decided that I like Riley best in the black tank, the blue sweatshirt, and the blue pants:


This is a relaxed and attractive outfit that allows Riley to strike any pose they want:



The clothing in this set is great.  All of the pieces are well-made and easy to use.  I was able to do wardrobe changes quickly, and I had a fun time trying out all of the different combinations.

As much fun as I was having with Riley at this point, my brain was still fixated on the wigs.  Without their interchangeable hairstyles, these dolls wouldn't be as unique as they are.  I really wanted to know how the wigs worked for the other characters in the collection--especially those with poker-straight hair.

At the beginning of this review, I mentioned that I'd purchased two Creatable World dolls back in 2019.  Well, lucky for me, the second doll I purchased has straight hair!  


Here are my two dolls together:

dc-220 and dc-619.
I actually thought that this was a red-headed character (I think Mattel's description says "copper hair") but the hair is more muted strawberry blonde than red in real life.  Disappointing...but still cute:


I call this cutie Finley.

Finley's short hair comes plastered down around their face with an excessive amount of hair gel:



The first thing I did was disrupt the gel and try to make Finley's hair look more natural:


There are still some areas that don't look great--like the big chunk of cut hair on Finley's left side--but overall the style is better after it's been mussed a little.



Finley has hazel-green eyes and pale skin.  Their eyebrows are red, which makes the not-red hair even more disappointing.  It's like Mattel tried to give Finley red hair, but failed.


Anyway, let's look at the long-haired wig:


It has the same construction as Riley's wig, including the same thick band of vinyl around the hairline.


Here's my first attempt at adding the long hair:

I want my MTV!
The bangs work well with the longer hair, but the shorter hairs at the side of Finley's head are really hard to tuck in under the wig, and they look strange sticking out:


Here's the wig from the back--looking very red (it's not):


I cut away the excess vinyl on the wig and tried again:


The wig edge is still highly visible.  I wonder what this would have looked like if Mattel had used transparent vinyl?


In my opinion, the wig either needs to blend in better or be designed to be noticed.  For instance, Mattel could have decorated the exposed vinyl to make it look like a headband.  That might have worked.  But as it is, this doesn't look very good.

World's worst headband.

I still have a lot of Liv dolls in my house (bad habit), and Liv wigs have a clear vinyl wig cap.  I thought it would be fun to see what a Liv wig looked liked on Finley:

This wig perfectly matches the eyebrows!
The wig (with the peg cut out) fits over Finley's head nicely, but doesn't cover all of the underlying hair.  It's also really hard to get Finley's rooted hair tucked under the wig cap--especially those short bangs in the front.  As hard as it is to tuck in the hair, it's slightly easier to do this with a Liv wig than it is to do it with the original Creatable World wig.  This is because a Liv wig cap is perfectly round and the Creatable wig has shaped edges that are harder to navigate.  I also think the Liv wig vinyl is more flexible.

In any case, Riley looks great in the Liv wig!


Riley's hair is easier to tuck in than Finley's, but you can still see it peeking out on the sides and especially at the back:


Moxie Teenz wigs "work" in much the same way that Liv wigs do:



While we're on the subject of Liv dolls, here's a quick comparison shot of a Liv body and a Creatable World body for anyone who's curious:

Liv doll (left) with Creatable World doll.
Riley makes Sophie look like a cartoon character.

I feel like this is a good place to insert a comparison request update that I got from kiwic1chick.  Here's Finley next to a Kruseling, Chloe:

Creatable World doll and Kruseling.
Chloe makes it clearer that Finley is not a redhead.

These two appear to have very different builds, but if you focus just on their torsos, the dimensions are quite similar:


This Kruseling has horribly-matched plastic and vinyl in her body.  The quality seems to have deteriorated since my 2018 review.

I don't want to fill up this review with a ton of comparison photos, but I'll post some on Patreon.  My general observations are that Finley can wear Chloe's outfit nicely, but the dress is too short.  Chloe can wear Finley's skirts and short-sleeved shirts, but long pants and long-sleeved shirts are too long and some of the shirts are tight over Chloe's arms. I never would have thought that these two could share wardrobes at any level, so this was a fun surprise!

Once I got to this stage, I was insanely curious about the rest of the Creatable World dolls.  I wanted to know what their outfits looked like up-close, but I mostly wanted to know how all of their wigs looked.

So, in my typically excessive style, I bought all of the other dolls (really bad habit).  Well, I thought that I'd bought all of them, but I somehow missed this character:

The mysterious dc-557.
This set is from the second wave, judging by the blue packaging, but you'll notice that the character does not appear in the second wave photo that I showed you at the beginning of the review.  As far as I can tell, this doll was not released in the USA.  I've tried to get my hands on one so that I can give you an update.

Let me quickly show you the dolls that I bought.

Here's the first one:


This kiddo has a yellowish skin tone, jet-black hair, and brown eyes.  The eyebrows are medium-brown and do not match the color of the hair.

dc-073
The short hair didn't come plastered down with gel, so it looks a bit messy here, but it was soft and nice to work with.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the long wig works quite well on this doll!  I think it's because the super-dark black hair conceals the black vinyl on the wig cap:


By the time I was taking pictures of this character, I had already cut off the extra vinyl on the wig, so I can't show you how it looked right out of the box--sorry!


But the hair looks pretty good.  I think the wig is a success in this case.


Especially from the right side of the head, where the bangs are heaviest:


Here's another one of the sets that I bought (from the second wave):


This character has medium vinyl with a yellowish tinge, bright blue eyes, and brown hair with auburn highlights:

dc-965
I mussed up the highly-gelled swoop of bangs as best I could:


And here's the wig with the vinyl still in-tact:


Because the hair is wavy, this situation is very similar to what we saw with Riley: the curled bangs hide the wig well from the front, but it's still quite visible from the top:


Another thing that's easy to notice in this picture is that the shape of the wig cap doesn't line up with the hairline of the doll.  Here's a closer look:


I suspect the wig cap would fit nicely in place on a bald head, but the rooted hair pushes the wig up so that the hairline shape is misaligned.

Also, the sides of the short hair are difficult to tuck in under the wig cap.


The wig looks better after the excess vinyl has been cut away:



I also bought this blonde doll:


This doll has the same medium vinyl with a yellow tinge as the previous character.  But this time the hair is blonde, with darker eyebrows and grey-blue eyes:

dc-414
Most of the head is painted to look shaved--with some lightning patterns!


This reminds me of Sean's hair from the Barbie Looks collection.


I rumpled the hair a bit to loosen the stiff gelled style:



I wasn't seeing any possible way that this hairstyle was going to work with the overlying wig...and I was right.  It doesn't work at all:


It's comically bad, in fact.


I cut off the extra vinyl, and I suppose things improved, but not significantly.



It doesn't work with the wig covering all of the rooted hair, either, in case you wondered:


Also, this wig falls off a lot.  Because there's so little rooted hair, there's not enough friction to hold the wig in place.  Bad design.

There's something deeper that bothers me with this doll.  Because the longer hair is so ill-fitting, the doll comes across as looking like a boy trying unsuccessfully to be a girl.  Exactly the kind of thing that can be crushingly hurtful to a transgender person.

I had to search pretty hard to find this next set--although now it seems readily available again.  This one is also from the second wave:


This character has very dark vinyl and short curly hair.  The eyebrows are so dark that they look blue in some lighting, and the eyes are medium brown:

dc-319
The long wig has looser curls than the short hair, but I think the two textures pair quite well together:


Even with the exposed vinyl band, this hair looks pretty good!


I have to say, this doll is beautiful:


After I cut off the extra vinyl, I tried pulling the wig down over all of the existing hair:


This looks okay, too:


But I prefer it when a bit of the shorter hair is peeking out all around:



I think the hair also looks nice when it's pulled back into a loose ponytail:


Although the double hair on these dolls always makes their heads look really tall...or like their hair has been teased into a bouffant.

Here's the next set:


This cutie has lighter brown vinyl and a shaved hairstyle with a tuft of curls on top.  The eyebrows match the hair nicely, and the eyes are light brown:

dc-725
Instead of lightning bolts, this kiddo has two lines on the back of their scalp:


The extra wig in this set is great, with lots of micro braids:


But the wig looks awkward over the existing hair.  Furthermore, the small tuft of rooted hair doesn't offer enough friction to keep the wig in place, so it falls off very easily.


You can see a big gap between the head and the edge of the wig cap:


As usual, the wig is a bit better with the excess vinyl gone, but it's still awkward:


It's a real shame, because both the wig and the doll are nice--they just don't go together well.


The braided wig looks better on this doll, in my opinion:


The full curls offer nice camouflage for the wig edge, and the wig stays in place better.  The color match isn't great, though.


Here's the last character I bought (second wave):


This one has medium, orange-tinged vinyl with dark curls and brown eyes:

dc-826
In theory this doll's wig should work about as well as Riley's wig, given the amount of curl, but the wig is very scruffy and unattractive:


Here's a close-up with the vinyl band intact:


And here it is again after the vinyl was cut away:




Again: the wig works well, but it's an ugly wig.

The dolls can't share wigs very well because all of the hair colors are slightly different, but this doll looks nice in the other brown wig, as long as the rooted curls are completely concealed:


If it weren't for the poor-quality wig, the last doll would have landed among my favorites. Maybe I just got unlucky with my particular wig.

As it is, I have three clear favorites in addition to Riley.  I decided to take a few extra pictures of those characters, giving you a glimpse of some fun pieces from each of their wardrobes.

I named the first doll Parker:


I love the mix of colors in Parker's wig, and I also like their bright blue eyes.  The skin tone doesn't photograph especially well, but it looks nice in real life.

Parker has a lot of great pieces in their wardrobe.  Among my favorites are a pair of khaki pants, a floral camp shirt, and a jean jacket.  I also like their sturdy brown combat boots!


It never looks like I've pushed the wig far enough forward in these photos, but it's always as close to the rooted hairline as I can get it.  The wigs look better in real life than they do in most of my pictures.  I think the zoomed-in nature of the shots accentuates the disparity between the rooted and wigged hair.

Parker's plaid romper is also really cute, and pairs nicely with the black tank top:


As a dog-lover, I can't help but appreciate Parker's dog-themed sweatshirt! 


Another one of my favorite characters is Rio:


Rio's wardrobe is not the best, in my opinion, but I love this imitation leather jacket.  I also really like the bright orange zebra shirt!


My third favorite doll is Aster:


Aster has a great wardrobe overall.  I love the yellow harem pants paired with this monkey shirt!

For a more dramatic look, I can add in this striking blue coat and bright red beret:



Here are Aster, Rio, and Parker together:


For anyone who is interested in purchasing a Creatable World doll, I'd recommend Riley first, then any of these three. I would not recommend any of the characters with shaved heads, nor can I recommend Finley--unless, of course, you have no interest in using the wigs.

All of the dolls I bought have different skin tones except for these two:


I think the one doll I didn't manage to buy has this skin tone, too.  It would have been more interesting if each doll had unique coloring.

Here are all of the different skin tones together:


I love how there are so many variations in skin tone and hair color.  I wish there'd been a true redhead (with freckles!) in the mix, and I also wish that there was some variety in the face molds.

If anyone on Patreon wants specific photographs of any of these dolls or their outfits and accessories, just let me know and I will make it happen!

I feel a lot of affection for all of these dolls, but Riley is definitely my favorite.  So let's go back and check in again with Riley one more time before I end the review.

About a month ago, when it still felt like summer here, I took Riley with me on my very first trip to the Jersey Shore. I expected the New Jersey beaches to be small and packed full of people, but the beach we found was vast.  Larger, even, than our favorite place in Maine.  


Riley was stunned by the huge expanse of open sand.  It was hard to decide which direction to explore first!


There was practically nobody else at the beach, so it was easy to find a secluded place to set up camp:



Riley watched the seagulls for a while:


 And then stretched out in the sand to soak up some sun:


Later in the day, we walked down the beach searching for shells.  Riley found a wonderful little collection of clams!



After Riley had stashed the shells carefully in the beach bag, they decided to dig a hole in the sand.  I challenged them to dig a hole deep enough to sit in! 


It took a while...


...but they did it!



What a phenomenal day with a perfect little beach companion.


Bottom line?  This line is unusual in that the dolls fall into two distinct categories: those whose wigs look good and those whose wigs look bad.  Based on that dichotomy, I can only fully recommend about half of the characters.

The first rule of thumb for wig success is that dolls with curly hair look good in their wigs and dolls with straight hair do not.  One exception to this rule is Aster.  Aster's jet-black hair and matching vinyl wig cap make the straight hair work.  Another rule is that the dolls with shaved heads can't really use the wigs at all.  The wigged hair looks ridiculous with the underlying hairline, and the lack of rooted hair allows the wigs to fall off way too easily.  For the dolls who enjoy wig success, carefully cutting away the excess vinyl around the hairline makes the hair look even better.  I wish Mattel had disguised the exposed vinyl on the wigs to look like a headband, because that would have improved the overall appearance of the wigged dolls.

What all of the dolls have in common is great articulation and creative, diverse, and well-made wardrobes.  I could pick at the slightly inhibited flexibility of the dolls' arm articulation, and I'm not crazy about the loose ankle joints, but overall I can't complain too much about 13 points of solid articulation.  The clothing options in this line are really fun, too.  I love the variety of styles and colors in each doll's wardrobe.  Even with my match-inclined brain, I found the eclectic range of fashions freeing and fun to mix up.  Mixing and matching can get frustrating if clothes are poorly designed and hard to put on and take off, but all of the Creatable World pieces I examined are well-made and easy to use.

The size of the Creatable World characters is very nice.  They're large enough that it's easy to manipulate their clothing, but they're small enough to carry around in a purse or small bag, and they don't take up a lot of storage space.  The scale of the dolls is a bit odd, though.  They're not compatible with dolls from the Barbie line, which feels like a missed opportunity.  They're most similar in size to a Barbie Skipper doll, but I don't think clothes-sharing is guaranteed.

I appreciate the diversity in these dolls, too.  I love that most of them have a unique skin tone, and I also enjoy the variety in their hair styles and hair colors.  I like the sassy hairstyles of the two shaved-head characters a lot, so it's a shame that their wigs don't work.  My only complaint here is that I wish there was more diversity in the face molds.  They all look a bit like clones when they're lined up together.

Lately I've been thinking about how obsessed we are with gender in this country.  Maybe other countries are the same way.  I mean, people set forests on fire and literally kill themselves (or others) in order to hold a gender reveal party for their unborn baby.  I'll admit that I love the surprise of whether a baby is a boy or girl as much as the next person, but very few kids are all pink or all blue as they grow up.  Some little girls love playing with pink princess dolls, but some would rather build something with Lego than even look at a doll.  Some girls like dolls but prefer ones that aren't pink princesses.  Many little boys enjoy playing with dolls, too--and some love pink princesses!  You get my point.  Not all kids fit perfectly into the preconceived ideas that society has about boys and girls.  Many kids feel like they were born into a toxic gender stereotype, and some kids feel like they were born into the completely wrong body.  It seems to me that with the Creatable World dolls, Mattel is doing their best to include all of these kids...except of course the ones who have no interest in playing with dolls.  

The boldness and inclusivity of the Creatable World dolls are enough for me like them and want to support Mattel in this endeavor.  But Mattel has also created a charming doll line that has merit beyond its message.  Parker, Rio, Aster, and especially Riley are delightful little dolls with well-made and creative accessory sets that will keep kids playing and dreaming...and keep them open to a spectrum of expression that goes beyond simple pink or blue.

32 comments:

  1. I've never heard of these dolls, but they're adorable! I really like the idea of the dolls being gender fluid (or nonbinary?) And thinks it's great for kids! I think if they just had a bald head the hair would work better. The idea is very intriguing though to be able to a wig on top of rooted hair.

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    1. I agree about the wigs, Caroline! I got out a few Liv dolls during this review, and was reminded how well that wig system works! It was such a brilliant design. Although Jake, the Liv boy, didn't have a wig, so I suspect it's just too hard to design a good-looking short wig.

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  2. With the height thing, I am 5,7 and have met quite a few ten year old that high or taller than me.

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    1. Good point! I removed that part from the review. I forgot how tall my own ten-year-olds were. ;D

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  3. Thank you! I really love these dolls, I wish there was some kind of guide to collect them because I didn't even knew there where two waves, the picture of the first wave you posted was really helpful! Now I wish I could see the second wave complete

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    1. I think my last group photo has all of the deluxe dolls--first and second wave-- except for the brunette wearing the red jacket. I'm not sure how I missed that one.

      The second wave also had some budget dolls that came in smaller blue boxes with just an extra wig--no outfits. I didn't buy many of those because they all looked like repeats of the characters from the larger sets. So I think you're seeing all but one of the characters in my photos.

      I'll probably cave and buy the last character at some point, then I can add a new pic of all the dolls together. :)

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    2. Hi again, Luis! I added in some more information about the different waves at the very beginning of the review. I hope it helps! All of the characters appear in this review except for the elusive dc-557 brunette. I'm starting to think that that set wasn't even released in the US!

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    3. DC-557 was released in the United States, but only on Amazon. The doll has a VERY slightly darker complexion than DC-414 and DC-965, which along with the very dark hair, eyebrows, and eyes, that Mattel was trying to make this one look at least somewhat Native American. I've also suspected that there was a tenth doll in the works that just didn't make it. If you look at the numerical pattern of the nine existing dolls, each one begins with a different digit from 0 to 9, except for 1: 073, 220, 319, 414, 557, 619, 725, 826, and 965. Was there a tenth doll? Would this have been the elusive actual redhead? Sadly, we probably will never know.

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  4. It's a pity they don't match Barbie. Many people wanted more articulated kids for their Barbie sized families. This is probably the main reason why the line eventually flopped -you have a bunch of kids, but no parents or siblings for them.
    I noticed, among people discussing these dolls, that everyone had ideas about which characters are "actually" supposed to be boys or girls... and all these ideas were different! For example, to me Riley looks more like a boy, and Finley more like a girl, but I definitely remember someone complaining how Finley looks "way too masculine" to possibly work as a girl character (don't they have the same sculpt though?). This proves that Mattel achieved their goal of creating a truly gender neutral doll and hopefully they'll revisit the idea in a more popular scale.

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    1. I definitely agree that Mattel should revisit this idea in a better scale and with better wigs. It's such a fun line, and the fashions are terrific. And I've always wondered why the Barbie siblings are so poorly articulated! Grumble. But that's funny that people were trying to pin genders on these characters. I found my impression of Riley shifting constantly. One interesting thing is that Parker looks like a boy to me with the long wig and like a girl with the short wig! But most of them seem quite fluid. You said it well: Mattel did a good job of achieving their goal.

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    2. I get boy vibes from Parker regardless of hair. They remind me of EAH boys. In fact, my gender impressions don't take hairstyles into account at all. Even with the shaved kids, the lightning one looks like a boy to me, while the inverted Citroen logo one looks like a girl. I should have mentioned the gender discussions took place on a Russian forum - most of the people around there colour-code and stereotype their children from birth as if their life depended on it. Because of the fuss around these dolls (also since I became an aunt), it occurred to me that all children would look gender-neutral if their parents didn't force their own gender stereotypes on them.

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    3. I hear you. I didn't know if my kids were boys or girls until they were born, so we had a very gender neutral palette for everything (clothes, nursery, etc) by default. The nursery was all primary colors and most of the clothes were yellow or grey. But we certainly weren't making a statement--we just didn't care. Things seem to have shifted a lot in a short amount of time--both in good ways and in bad. At least the English language has some flexibility. But think about the romance languages where everything is gendered--even a chair! Oy.

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  5. Oh Rio, Rio, dance across the Rio Grande! It's a pity that these wigs are so hit-and-miss, but having seen the wigs on the Color Surprise Barbies I wasn't terribly surprised. Y'know, you could try painting the vinyl edges with some cute color like pink or blue, and maybe then the edges would make convincing headbands.

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    1. I could paint them! I suggested that Mattel do that but you're right--I could paint the bands myself! The only problem is that I've cut off most of the vinyl bands at this point. I do have an extra Finley who I could experiment with...good suggestion! :D I'll report back if I find a paint that will stick.

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  6. ...So I discovered my Creatable World kids work well as younger siblings for my My Scene dolls, they have a very similar vibe around the face.

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    1. Oh, yeah! I can totally see that, Bailey! I have a My Scene somewhere around here. Maybe I can get a photo of her with Riley. Thank you for the tip! :)

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  7. Emily, do you still have any Kruselings dolls you could compare with these? I'd be interested to see them side by side and am also curious if clothes sharing is possible. Thanks!

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    1. I might! Give me a day or two and I'll see what I can do ;)

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    2. Hi kiwic1chick! I posted two photos into the review with Finley and Chloe--they're right after the comparison shot with Liv Sophie. I was surprised by what these two can share! I'll repeat my general observations for you here: Finley can wear Chloe's outfit nicely, but the dress is too short. Chloe can wear Finley's skirts and short-sleeved shirts, but the skirt I tried was high-waisted. Creatable World long pants and long-sleeved shirts are too long and some of the shirt sleeves are tight over Chloe's arms. Hope that helps!

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  8. Ohhh I'm glad to see you review these! I was wondering what you'd think!

    One thing I wondered about this line was whether the lack of "themes" had any impact on their being discontinued? I can't speak for other children, of course, but as a kid, I always preferred a doll who was distinctly a princess, or hero, or spy, or something of the like. I was seldom interested in doll characters who were just ordinary people in contemporary clothes. I have an appreciation for this type of doll character now, but as a child, they wouldn't have caught my interest when there were more "exciting" themes available. Despite the fact that more specialized themes are less versatile than contemporary clothes, I think this idea could be so neat if there were even one or two sets with a special theme. (Think of a doll whose first outfit is a princess dress, whose second outfit is themed around a knight, and whose third outfit has details inspired by a dragon? This doll can be all three characters in a story!)

    I do wonder whether these dolls would make okay siblings for the Ever After High line...? After seeing your comparison photo for the eye paint, I definitely think their facial screening would work for that, but I wonder if Creatable World's more realistic proportions would be prohibitive...

    It's a shame Riley (and the others) don't have better elbow articulation though. :0 They're such neat dolls with great articulation otherwise!

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    1. Hi Spiral! I know what you mean about the theme. Lammily got slammed for that, especially with the first release. I'm in the process of reviewing another little doll whose charm is *greatly* enhanced by the available themes, so I've been thinking a lot about this issue. I LOVE your princess/knight/dragon idea! It's brilliantly creative and would also allow a child to be free from pre-assigned gender roles. I think even dragon characters are often portrayed as male--especially if they're evil. That doesn't seem fair! Your idea would mix everything up! You should write to Mattel. ;)

      I dont think I have any de-boxed Ever After High dolls left, or I could check this for you. I suspect you're right that the realism gap would be disconcerting. They definitely look like relatives, though!

      Riley's elbow articulation is fine--I shouldn't complain so much. But it's hard after having just spent so much time with the incredible Signature Looks crew! They make me want more from every doll!

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    2. Hello! :D
      Ohh you're right! I'd forgotten Lammily had been criticized for that too.
      That's exciting though! :D I look forward to seeing this mysterious doll when you review it! I wonder what it will be...

      And, oh I'm glad you liked my fairytale set idea! Perhaps I just might suggest it, then! :D

      I hadn't noticed that evil dragons were usually made male, but on reflection, I think you must be right :0 That's not fair at all!

      Oh! No worries about that! Don't feel like you need to do a comparison, especially if you don't have anything on hand; the photo of Holly you showed was already really helpful!

      Oh, and that's cool to hear- and it makes sense! I guess it would be hard to go back to normal articulation right after having witnessed what is possible with the amazing Looks dolls!

      Thanks for the reply! :D

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  9. Thanks for doing this review. I had suspicions that the wigs were gong to have issues, and you confirmed them; that said, I really like their gentle faces and expressions. The more that I look at them, the more i see, well, as an adult, that the wigs are kind of superfluous. I get the sales end and the “kids like to play with hair” angle, but right now, at least In some circles*, gender is so non-specific, that anyone can wear any type of hairstyle or length, and Almost any kind of clothes. The clothing is not really gender specific, nor are the hairstyles. I think they are a very nice product that is open for all manner of play. Well done to the design team...well, let’s work a bit on the articulation!
    *I live in a community with many East-African refugees and immigrants, and as far as I understand, gender appearance and roles are strictly defined. Through my work, I’ve been in a fair number of their homes, and have interviewed many family members.

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  10. Oh-one more thing—I really like the detail in their hands, and especially their feet!

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  11. Never heard of this line before, but I really appreciate its existence as a nonbinary and genderfluid person myself. Toys can be so obsessively gendered, and this has always bothered me even as a kid. I would have loved to grow up with several dolls like this. Not to mention, the fashions that come with the dolls are fun and colorful, which is great to see when a lot of clothes today that are branded as "gender-neutral" are just plain brown or beige. I also think the potential for play is really great here, because kids can make many characters out of one doll to fit a variety of stories, regardless of gender. It's such a shame that the wigs do not fit right and are just plain bad in some cases, because I really like the idea of having dolls with rooted hair under wigs so that you can choose whether to give the dolls bangs or not, and you don't have bald dolls lying around like you mentioned about the Liv dolls. Still, these dolls will now have a special place in my heart, as I wish I could have grown up with a toy that treated gender-neutrality with such normalcy as these dolls do, if only the wigs were better lol.

    By the way, I really appreciated how you used they/them pronouns when discussing these dolls. In my eyes, every time someone casually uses gender-neutral pronouns, the world becomes a bit safer for nonbinary people, so thank you. -L

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    1. I love the neutrality of these dolls, too. They are truly fluid, which is the natural state of young kiddos. Puberty has a magical way of redirecting that fluidity, and thankfully it seems like each generation affixes those changes with more of a reposition-able adhesive rather than permanent, if not within the self then definitely as it relates to the preference of others. You do you.

      Having two kids has opened my eyes to the general fluidity of a person in their earliest years. My son corrected me once when I referred to one of his friends as “black”, saying “she’s brown!” lol. My daughter did the same. And as far as gender goes, when we read a book about bodies and genders, etc, my daughter (7 years old) wasn’t sure what she felt like which was just fine! But she has been steadfast about one reason she wishes to be a boy: she wishes she could pee as fast as her brother. Lol! I suppose that’s the perfect example of “[genitalia] having person”. She overlooks the identity and is all about the convenience. Lol!

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  12. I've had Finley and Rio for a little while, because of an article written by a French collector. I had chosen them for a specific reason: I like dolls with short hair (and in life like that, I like women with short hair, I find it sexy) so long wigs did not interest me, I haven't even tried them. I really like the "Tomboy" side of these very cute dolls as well as their neat wardrobe and I take my little duo of friends for a walk with a lot of pleasure. So glad to find your articles which I really missed. a French hello from Finley, Rio and me

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  13. I LOVE these dolls, wig issues notwithstanding. I have had several of them since they first came out, and last year, I found them on Target's website for under $10, so I bought several sets. I hate that they were discontinued, but they were unfortunately in and out of the market so quickly. I don't really know many other collectors who were as charmed as I was by these, but I loved the nonbinary idea and execution.

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  14. Hihi Riley is my favorite too, to me the doll is a very cute tomboy, too and I love your outside photos.
    The one thing that kept me away from buying was also the wig problem.
    It just looks weird, but mist times I like the short hair better :)

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  15. What I love the most about this dolls, is the fact that the clothes fell like real clothes. I know that there is also only clothes boxes (I've got two) and special wigs.
    Thank you for this review !!!

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  16. Those wigs! I tried cutting the excess off and found the vinyl too hard to cut easily. I thought they should have made it look like a head band if they were going to leave it so obviously showing. Why would they even do that?!
    My thing about the clothes on these dolls was that I loved some of the clothes, and hated others. That made it hard to pick out a clothing set, and also a doll. In the end I chose the faux red head,as you might recall. My other favourites were (in your final picture) the second and the fifth dolls. They became hard to find after I got mine and I gave up. I do think there should have been some variation in the sculpts. It would have made having several a lot more fun and interesting.
    I suppose with the big heads Mattel was trying to jump on that big head bandwagon. I can't figure out why big heads are so popular on dolls right now. But then, there's a lot about right now that I can't figure out!

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  17. I really like this line. I only have 725 (micro-braids wig) at the moment, but I'm hoping to get my hands on a couple more- they seem like they'd be great to customize! 725 (who I named Eli)'s hair being shaved on the sides and really short on top downplays the head size difference between these dolls and Barbies, at least to my eye, so they're the younger sibling to one of my MTMs. (That wig does not work, though, which kills me because it could be so cute!! Mattel!!!)

    As a nonbinary person myself, I'm also very happy about how this line normalizes gender fluidity/non-conformity. It's no secret that the marketing of play dolls is often heavily gendered, but I think the casual presentation of the "these dolls can be anyone and wear anything" is a step in the right direction. :)

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