Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Be Bright Dolls by Adora

Happy September!  For the last six years, September in my life has meant helping one or both of my kids move into a new apartment or a new school dorm, always in the blazing heat and up three flights of stairs.  I continued this tradition last week, when I hauled myself to Boston to help my eldest move some of his stuff into a new place...on an uncommonly hot and humid day (but with an elevator!).  We didn't get to play with poop toys on that visit, unfortunately, but it was a still a lot of fun.  September has also often been a month of returning responsibilities and new plans for me.  And I certainly have a lot of plans for the blog this fall, including reviews of some wacky fashion dolls, a few 18-inch American Girl alternatives, and even some creepy stuff for Halloween!  But first I'm excited to get back to my 14-inch doll series.

So far I've reviewed Gwynn Tan by American Girl, the Kindness Club dolls by Madame Alexander, and a Glamour Girlz redhead from the New York Doll Collection.  I have four more dolls to look at in this series, and today's pick is a teal-haired cutie from Adora's Be Bright collection:

Be Bright Alma by Adora, $49.99.

I've been aware of the Adora brand since way back in the early 2000s when I was primarily collecting babies.  So, typically when I hear this brand name, I think of baby dolls.

Adora certainly makes some sweet babies, and I'm partial to this particular smiling face mold:

However the charming, toothy expressions on babies like this remind me of one and two-year-olds, but the dolls themselves are more newborn-sized.  So that's a bit of a disconnect for me, and probably why I don't own any Adora babies.

Adora makes more than just baby dolls, though!  They also have a line of really cute-looking 18-inch girls, like this redhead (who is on my list to review):

I hosted Dot's excellent guest review of Adora's 18-inch Kayla many years ago, too, which is a treat to re-watch.

More recently, Adora released a small collection of 6-inch Fairy Garden Friends (which I'll review on Patreon tomorrow):

And of course Adora also offers the 14-inch Be Bright doll line that I'm looking at today.  

The Be Bright collection came out in 2020 and includes five different dolls, each of which is associated with an animal that symbolizes a certain personality trait.  The dolls have an MSRP of $49.99, but I've seen them on sale for up to $20 less.

From left: Savannah, Honey, Alma, Melissa, and Lulu.
All of the characters have the same face mold, but they have different hair colors, hairstyles, skin colors, outfit colors, eye colors, and favorite animals.  For me, deciding between them was mostly about their hair color and their favorite animal.  I was greatly tempted by the blue-haired girl who likes sharks (has there ever been a girl doll who likes sharks before?  I love it!), but I ended up preferring teal-haired Alma because the color of her hair is so unusual.

Alma came in a cardboard box with a full plastic window that extends around two of the edges:

There are cardboard shapes sticking out from the backdrop that advertise some of the doll's features.  For example, Alma's "spirit animal" is a wolf, and the associated trait is to "be smart:"

I'm uncomfortable with the cultural appropriation of the term spirit animal.  It's super cringey, and trivializes something that is incredibly important to some Indigenous cultures.  Bad move, Adora.  

But I like that each doll is associated with a specific kind of animal.  Why not just say that Alma is inspired by wolves?  One of my best friends as a kid was really into wolves, and so Alma reminds me of her.

The other feature advertised on the backdrop is that Alma has a streak of hair that is supposed to change color in the sun:

This type of color change feature didn't work very well for my Mermaid High doll, so we'll see what happens with Alma.

The sides of Alma's box are part cardboard, part plastic:

The left side of the box has a list of all the animal friends and the personality traits that they represent:

All but one of these animals would happily eat a child.
The back of the box has a photograph of real girls playing with each of the five dolls:

There's a blurb at the top about how "many years ago the universe chose five animal guardians to help girls dream big and change the world:"

It's a fine story, just don't call them spirit animals.
Underneath Alma's photo, there are a few icons representing various features, like the fact that the dolls are interactive (because of the hair?), safety tested (what does that entail, do you think?), and machine washable.  I assume they mean the clothes are machine washable--not the dolls themselves.

Alma came displayed against a colorful patterned backdrop.  Tucked under the backdrop was a pamphlet with more details about all of the Be Bright dolls:

Alma sounds athletic and outdoorsy, and enjoys hiking in the snow:

The blue-haired girl who likes sharks is called Melissa, and she's a competitive swimmer:

Savannah is a purple-haired girl who likes to explore and travel.  Her animal friend is a lion:

Honey has bright pink hair and likes bears.  She lives in a log cabin and likes to forage.  She also likes sweet things (so do bears):

The fifth girl, Lulu, has a bunny friend and tries to always be kind.  She's described as a fast-footed acrobat, but she's also "quick to follow her friends with positivity and a smile:"

Being kind doesn't mean being a doormat, Lulu.
The thing that bothers me about these descriptions is that the dolls look like three-year-olds, but the hobbies are all things that are better suited to tweens or teens.  I'm not aware of any toddlers who are competitive swimmers or mountain climbers, but perhaps they exist.

The thing I like about these descriptions is that the characters don't fall into the usual cliché categories (sporty, fashionable, STEM-oriented, environmentalist, etc).  And all of the girls seem quite active.

Alma came attached to the backdrop with five pieces of twine: 

The twine was kept secure by plastic pieces on the back of the cardboard:

Once all of the twine was untied (cutting it would have been easier), I was able to lift Alma off the backdrop:

She has a nice weight and stands solidly on her own.

In profile, you can appreciate Alma's prominent cheek and chin area, and her high forehead:

Here she is from the back:

She wears her hair in two ponytails, and has a rooted part that runs all of the way down the middle of her head:

Alma has a cute, youthful face, with wide eyes and a closed-mouth smile:

Her features remind me more of the WellieWishers than they do of Madame Alexander's Kindness Club or the New York Doll Collection Glamour Girlz.

You can see again here that she has a large head with a high forehead and a long jawline:

Alma's brown eyes are inset and stationary.  They're surrounded by some painted eyelashes and simplified eyebrows that do not match the color of her hair:

The style of Alma's eyes reminds me of the Glamour Girlz eyes.  They look sparkly from a distance, but the iris pattern is not very realistic when you see it up close:

The sparkly appearance of the eyes fits with the theme of these dolls, though, so I think it works.

The mouth has a nice shape, with a bowed upper lip and a sweet smile.  I also like the rich (but natural) shade of Alma's lips:

One excellent surprise with Alma is that she faces straight ahead, and her head doesn't rotate upwards when she looks from side to side.

Part of the reason for her straight gaze is that the neck joint actually allows some up and down movement of the head (!).  This is a feature we haven't seen in any of the other 14-inch dolls so far.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself by talking about articulation already, though!  Let me back up for a sec so that I can show you Alma's pretty hair in more detail.

I took down her two ponytails and brushed her hair with my wire brush.

The hair falls to elbow length and has some layering and a bit of wave at the ends:

The hair relaxed from its ponytail shape to completely cover the rooted part on the back of the head:

However, even before I purposefully exposed the rooting pattern, sections of scalp were clearly visible:

Sure enough, the rooting is sparse--especially for a $50 doll:

It's disappointing that the hair is so thin, because I love the color and the hair fiber feels great.  It's silky and smooth and very easy to brush.  

It also feels like styling product was added to make the texture glossier.  I can't be sure about this, but the hair looks almost greasy sometimes (you can probably see this in some of the pictures), which doesn't usually happen to hair fiber unless it's been treated with something.

Another issue I had is that it was very challenging to recreate the rooted part.  This means that if you take Alma's original ponytails down, you might never be able to get them to look like new again:

I certainly wasn't.
Alma looks good in a single ponytail, though, and this style gives us a chance to peek at her slender, simplified ears:

You can also see that even with this hairstyle, the scalp peeks through in several places, and the plugs of rooted hair stick up and create a bumpy texture:

While the hair is up and out of the way, let's get a look at Alma's outfit.

She's wearing a one-piece dress with a turquoise bodice and a grey, tulle-covered skirt:

The bodice looks like it has two layers, with a white tank top underneath, and an off-the-shoulder cap sleeved shirt on top.  The pieces are actually connected, though--stitched together at the neck.

The bodice is also decorated with a cartoon decal of a wolf...who looks more like a cat...with a lion's tail and raccoon eyes:

That's one confused little animal.
The whole dress opens down the back with velcro:

Here's the dress on its own; you can see that the tulle skirt lifts up to reveal a plain gray layer underneath:

The construction is impeccable, with reinforced seams and very neat stitching.  I can totally see how this would survive the washing machine:

Alma's outfit also includes a pair of grey vinyl boots.  I like these boots because they have some contrasting white detail in the laces and toes:

There are also some molded details, like the eyelets for the laces and little stitches all around the edges:

The shoes are fairly soft, so they're easy to put on and take off:

Underneath her outfit, Alma has molded and painted underwear:

The underwear is turquoise (about the same color as the dress bodice) and has a lacy edge and a heart design on one side:

There's a small Adora mark on Alma's back, just above the waistband of her underwear:

Alma's hand mold is similar to Gwynn Tan's, with the two middle fingers connected and the other digits free...or mostly free. 

Good for competitive swimming.
Here's the palm of the hand:

Alma has a bit more toe definition in her feet than some of the other 14-inch dolls we've looked at:

Those are nice toes.
Alma's torso is hard plastic and her limbs and head are vinyl.  You can tell in some of the pictures that her torso is a slightly different color and is much shinier than the rest of her body:

The shininess is especially distracting on her neck, where it can't be covered by clothing.

Alma has five points of articulation, but as I briefly mentioned earlier, she has more neck movement than what is standard on this type of doll.

She can lift her head up and down a little bit--hurrah!

And she can tip it from side to side:

The movement is limited, but it's a nice change from the simple rotation that most 14-inch dolls offer.

Alma can also spin her head around, and as she does this she continues to look straight ahead:

Even when her head is completely turned around, she's still looking straight:

Way to stay focused, Alma!
Technically Alma has simple rotation in her shoulders, but there's more flexibility in this joint than I'm accustomed to as well.  She can actually lift her arms away from her body a little bit:

Flap, flap.
And she can spin them all of the way around, too:

Alma's hips also have some side-to-side flexibility:

This extra movement helps with her balance quite a bit.

She can rotate her hips to sit on the ground, too:

Or do front-to-back splits:

Alma doesn't have a large posing repertoire, for sure, but the side-to-side flexibility in her legs allows her to balance in a walking position more easily than other dolls of this kind:

Now let's see how Alma compares to the other 14-inch dolls that I've reviewed!  

First, here she is with American Girl's Gwynn Tan:

Be Bright Alma by Adora (left), and Gwynn Tan by American Girl (right).
I was surprised when I first saw these two together, because I'd assumed that Alma's proportions would look very similar to Gwynn's.  They still go fairly well together, but Gwynn is more petite overall--especially in her head!

Alma looks cartoonish when she's next to Gwynn, which is funny because Gwynn is the one who's features looked exaggerated in some of my previous lineups.

Here are the two girls without their outfits:

Be Bright Alma by Adora (left), and Gwynn Tan by American Girl (right).
At a full 15 inches in height, Alma is slightly taller than Gwynn.  She's also a bit wider in most of her measurements.  I love Alma's extra joint movement, but I prefer Gwynn's all-vinyl body to Alma's plastic torso.  The shininess of the plastic is distracting and looks cheap.

Gwynn's clothing fits Alma fairly well, although the skirt is very short:

Whoa!  The sweater clashes horribly with that hair!
The sweater has to stretch tightly across Alma's back in order to close:

And Gwynn's soft boots are very tight on Alma's poor toes:

Alma's dress fits Gwynn, but it's loose:

The turquoise sleeves actually hang more naturally off of Gwynn's shoulders than they do on Alma's shoulders.

But I had to keep pulling the dress down, otherwise the shoulders of the tank top would ride up around Gwynn's neck.

When I first looked at Alma in her box, I thought she had a lot in common with Gwynn.  Her proportions looked similar, and she has the same younger child vibe.  I was hopeful that she'd be a solid and more affordable alternative to Gwynn and the WellieWishers.  However, when I look at Gwynn and Alma side-by-side, I'm struck by how exaggerated Alma's features are.  She makes Gwynn look realistic.  And of course even though Alma's outfit is well made, it's much simpler than Gwynn's ensemble.  That said, Alma's outfit is dramatically easier to use.  I am getting really tired of dressing and undressing Gwynn!  That skirt is such a pain.  Another thing that can't be appreciated in all of the photos is that while both dolls have hair that feels great, Alma's hair is thin and can look a little stringy.  But let's not underestimate Alma's ability to look at the camera!  Gwynn is always staring off into space.

At $65, Gwynn costs about $15 more than Alma.  If I was already thinking of spending $50 on a play doll, I doubt that extra $15 would stop me from choosing one of the noticeably higher quality American Girl dolls.  As usual, though, Alma's appeal magnifies when she's on sale (the most recent sale I saw was $27).  At that price, she delivers plenty of nice features and offers significant savings when compared to Gwynn.

Next, let's compare Alma to Emmi, my Kindness Club doll by Madame Alexander:

Be Bright Alma by Adora (left), and Kindness Club Emmi by Madame Alexander (right).
These two are so different!  Emmi's entire head could fit inside Alma's massive noggin.  And Emmi's vinyl is almost blindingly pale next to Alma's more natural complexion.  

Looking at these two side by side, I'm not instantly sure which one I'd pick.  I like Alma's vinyl color better, and I think her teal hair is really fun.  I also like Alma's outfit more.  But I think Emmi has the more appealing face...minus the overly bright face paint, and her hair is rooted more generously.

If we change it up and compare Alma to Avi, my second Kindness Club doll, the decision gets very easy for me:

Be Bright Alma by Adora (left), and Kindness Club Avi by Madame Alexander (right).
I adore Avi's overall look.  She has a wonderful outfit, gorgeous, thick hair, realistic (if slightly purple) eyes, and a lovely, serene face with natural coloring.  She's far and away my favorite of the two.

Here are Alma and Emmi without their clothing:

Be Bright Alma by Adora (left), and Kindness Club Emmi by Madame Alexander (right).
Despite the differences in their heads, these two have similar bodies.  Emmi's limb proportions are almost identical to Alma's, and the two dolls have equally-wide torsos, although Emmi's waist is a bit longer.

Clothes-sharing is smooth between these two:

Eeesh.  It's hard to find clothes to go with that hair.

Both outfits are easy to use, although I wish Emmi's shoes could be worn without those strange socks.  Alma's boots are much more practical for a play doll.

I feel like maybe part of Emmi's problem is that her original outfit is unflattering and generic.  She looks good in almost everything else, and I especially like her in Alma's dress.  The off-the-shoulder style fits her older-looking face:

The biggest difference between these two dolls is stylistic.  Emmi has a mature, realistic face, and Alma is the caricature of a much younger kid.  So if one or the other style fits better with you or your child's collection, then that's probably the better choice.  In terms of quality, I'd say that Emmi has better hair, and Alma has a better outfit.  I also prefer Emmi's all-vinyl body to Alma's plastic torso, but I much prefer Alma's more natural skin tone.

Emmi costs about $10 more than Alma when both dolls are at full price.  However, when they go on sale, their prices are similar.  If I assume no significant difference in cost, I think the Kindness Club dolls are a better buy.

Last of all, let's compare Alma to Ellery, my Glamour Girlz doll by the New York Doll Collection.  Keep in mind that I swapped Ellery's factory eyes for new glass eyes.

Be Bright Alma by Adora (left), and Glamour Girlz by the New York Doll Collection (right).
Ellery looks so petite next to Alma!  But--once again--the biggest discrepancy is in their head sizes. Without clothing, you can see that the bodies are not so different (well, except for Ellery's T. rex arms):

Be Bright Alma by Adora (left), and Glamour Girlz by the New York Doll Collection (right).
These are the only two girls that I've looked at so far who have colored permanent underwear.  I like this feature quite a lot, although Ellery's pink underwear looks better than Alma's--perhaps simply because she has a vinyl body rather than a plastic one.

Alma can wear Ellery's red dress, although the sleeves are short and the dress feels tighter overall than it does on Ellery:

Ellery's boots fit Alma, too, although these boots are very stiff and hard to use.

Ellery can wear Alma's dress, but it's a little loose in the chest (and it would be long in the sleeves if it had long sleeves):

These two dolls both have hair that feels great but is rooted more sparsely than I would like.  The difference is that Alma's teal hair can be flat and stringy, which allows the scalp to show quite frequently.  In contrast, Ellery has a lot of volume in her hair, and so the rooting pattern is easier to conceal.  Also, the color of Ellery's hair is gorgeous, and she doesn't have the "trendy" streak of color that so many dolls seem to have these days.

Alma has a nice skin tone and better face paint than Ellery, but I don't like her plastic torso and I don't like her face mold quite as much.  That's not to say that she isn't cute, but I prefer Ellery's calm smile and more realistic head size.  I like the fashionable style of Ellery's outfit better than Alma's cutesy design, too, but Alma's outfit is better-made, more durable, and easier to use, so I have to give it the upper hand.  It certainly doesn't help that my Ellery's dress came with sewing errors and caused a lot of staining on her body.

Ellery costs about $30 (just over $20 when she's on sale), so there's a $10-20 price difference between her and Alma.  This makes sense, especially because of Alma's more complex articulation, better outfit, and nicer face paint.  However, there's something that's hard to describe about Ellery's appeal.  I find myself more fond of her than I am of Alma.  Maybe it's the red hair?  Maybe it's the head size?  Maybe it's the new eyes (which I should try to ignore)?  Whatever the reason, even if Ellery wasn't the cheaper option, I'd still probably choose her over Alma.

Here are all four of the dolls together:

From left: Glamour Girlz, AG Gwynn Tan, Be Bright Alma, Kindness Club Emmi.

Some of the things that I notice when I look at that picture are:
1. Alma is the only doll with a plastic torso
2. Alma and Emmi look at the camera the best
3. Gwynn has the narrowest body and Emmi has the longest and widest
4. Gwynn has the most natural vinyl color, Emmi has the least natural
5. Alma has the biggest head (by far)
6. Ellery has the shortest arms (by far)

And something you can't appreciate with a picture is that Alma has the best balance out of the whole group because she can move her legs from side to side a little bit.

Here are all of the girls with their clothing on:

From left: Glamour Girlz, AG Gwynn Tan, Be Bright Alma, Kindness Club Emmi.
Which one would you grab off the shelf first?

I thought it might be helpful to run through a few different categories and rank the dolls based on that trait.  I've used Emmi to represent Madame Alexander here, since she's the one I reviewed most thoroughly, but I'll also comment on how Avi would change the ranking.

Price (MSRP)
1. Ellery (New York Doll Collection): $30.99 (seen on sale for $23.39).
2. Alma (Adora): $49.99 (seen on sale for $26.83).
3. Emmi and Avi (Madame Alexander): $59.95 (seen on sale for $32.50).
4. Gwynn (American Girl): $65 plus shipping (seen on sale for $52 plus shipping).

1. Gwynn (American Girl): this outfit looks the best, even though it isn't my personal style.  It also has the most intricate and diverse pieces.  But it's really hard to use.
2. Alma (Adora): this dress is very well-made and durable.  The style might get dated, but suits Alma and looks good on other dolls, too.
3. Ellery (New York Doll Collection): I love the idea of this dress, but the execution is poor. There's a defect in the front embellishment, and the red color causes staining.  The boots are also hard to use.
4. Emmi (Madame Alexander): this outfit is made well enough, but it's generic and has no personality.  Also, the sash on my doll's dress isn't sewn thoroughly.  Furthermore, the socks are weird and the shoes do not fit without socks.  *Avi's outfit is way better than Emmi's, and would have earned second in this category.

1. Emmi (Madame Alexander): her hair feels amazing. It could be rooted better, but the center part is nice and it's easy to style the hair in ponytails. I wish there was no streak of color; it doesn't match the outfit.  *Avi would also win this category.  Furthermore, her hair has more body than Emmi's and so I don't notice any problem with the rooting.
2. Gwynn (American Girl): this hair also feels great, but the short length and wig stitching can limit styling options.  Also: bangs.
3. Ellery (New York Doll Collection): yet again, the hair feels amazing.  It's also a beautiful color, but the rooting is thin.
4. Alma (Adora): this hair feels great, too!  It can look and feel a bit "greasy," though, and the thin rooting does not help.  The color is unique, but clashes with a lot of clothing.

1. Gwynn (American Girl): she has a sweet face that is painted well, but I wish there was more detail around her eyes--they can look vacant.
2. Emmi (Madame Alexander): she has the classic Madame Alexander features that I love, and nice realism, but her face paint is too bright and her vinyl is too pale.  *Avi would win this category resoundingly.
3. Alma (Adora): she has natural face paint, sparkling eyes, and a sweet smile, but her head is too big.
4. Ellery (New York Doll Collection): she has a nice, serene face mold that is painted badly.  Her factory eyes are also too pale and vacant.

Body (I re-ordered this category about ten times)
1. Emmi (Madame Alexander): I like the flexible soft vinyl and the realistic body shape and proportions, but I don't like the opaque, overly-bright skin tone. *Avi's vinyl color is much better than Emmi's, so she'd have won this category without all of the second-guessing.
2. Gwynn (American Girl): she has a lovely skin tone, and the vinyl is high-quality, but the body is very rigid and the head is always looking up.
3. Alma (Adora): she has enhanced articulation and a really nice skin tone...too bad about the shiny plastic torso.
4. Ellery (New York Doll Collection): she has strange proportions, and the worst balance of the bunch.  Her head is always looking down.

If I had to pick an overall rank, it'd go something like this: 
1. Avi (Madame Alexander)
2. Gwynn (American Girl)
3. Alma (Adora)
4. Emmi (Madame Alexander)
5. Ellery (New York Doll Collection)

Ellery's position feels low, but it's because the value I see in her relies a lot on modifications.

The comparisons are going to get more and more complex as I progress through this series, so I'll keep these same lists going as I approach the final three dolls.

Now I'll let Alma take the spotlight again, back in her own outfit, with her captivating teal hair loose around her shoulders:

The hair is such a focal point for this line of dolls, especially for Alma, since this striking color is something I rarely see on a doll's hair.  It's too bad that the hair looks (and feels) quite thin.

I tried washing the hair in the sink to see if removing the styling product would help with volume, but I couldn't tell any difference between the pre-washed and the washed hair.

I do appreciate Alma's extra little bit of flexibility, though!

I always like to end these posts with some outdoor photographs, and this was particularly important with Alma since she has a color change feature in her hair.

I think Alma looks especially vibrant in the natural light.  Her hair is really special:

I placed her in the direct sunlight for a few seconds...

And right away I could tell that the white streak on the left side of her head had turned pink!

The shade of pink is not quite as bright or rich as what is advertised on the box, but the change is noticeable, and it's really fun.  I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of permanent color streaks in doll hair (it reduces versatility), but because this streak has a cool gimmick, it's more interesting.

We stuck mostly to the shade for the rest of the afternoon, because I love how the darker lighting accentuates Alma's coloring.

It's one thing to take on the task of comparing and contrasting a whole range of 14-inch dolls, having to nitpick all of the little shortcomings of each brand, but when I have each of these girls on their own, I truly enjoy their company.  

Alma has such a bright, innocent look in her face, doesn't she?

Those wide eyes were surely taking in the surroundings with quiet wonder:

If only we had some real wolves in this part of New Jersey for Alma to watch.  It seems that we only have black bears (maybe I should have adopted Honey instead?).

 I guess Alma will have to settle for my pack of mini-wolves (Chihuahua mutts) instead.

Maybe this girl would rather be hiking up snowy mountains, but she seems very much at home in the humid greenery, too.

Bottom line?  One problem with the Be Bright line in my eyes is the messaging.  There's no need to trivialize the concept of a spirit animal in order to make a cute doll backstory.  I'm sure the messaging isn't intentionally disrespectful, but it's careless.

Otherwise, Alma is really cute, with just a few details here and there that I wish were different.  For example, her hair could have been so great, but it falls short.  I love the deep teal color.  It's an unusual and beautiful shade, and has a color change streak that actually works.  The hair fiber also feels fantastic; it's super soft and silky and is very easy to brush.  The hair is on the thin side, though, and the scalp is often exposed.  And while the rooted part makes Alma's ponytails look great right out of the box, that part is hard to recreate once the hair has been let down.  And this might seem really silly, but I didn't realize how badly that teal color would clash with a lot of other doll outfits!

Alma's dress has a slightly strange style, with a bodice that's meant to look layered and a highly stylized, confused wolf decal.  I probably would have preferred the dress if it was missing the white tank top section, but it's extremely well made and looks durable.  I suspect it will stand up to many years of play.

I didn't expect Alma's articulation to be different from what I've seen on the other 14-inch dolls in this series, but she had a few surprises in store for me.  First of all, her head can move up, down, and from side to side.  This movement is limited, but I think it makes a difference.  I never had any trouble getting Alma to look at the camera, and the fact that she can tip her head adds to her expressiveness.  Also, there's more side-to-side flexibility in Alma's arms and legs than there is on most 14-inch dolls.  This helped a lot with her balance, and made it easier to pose her in a walking position.  The down side to Alma's body is that she has a hard plastic torso.  The shininess of the plastic doesn't look great next to the matte appearance of the vinyl head and limbs.

Alma has an endearing face mold with natural-looking paint and a sweet smile.  Her inset eyes have a grainy iris pattern (similar to Ellery's original eyes) that I don't tend to find very realistic, but with Alma the eyes look sparkly and bright and I feel like they work.  I think Alma's head is too large, especially when I see her alongside other 14-inch dolls, but she looks fine on her own.

I worried that it would get monotonous to look at so many 14-inch play dolls in a row, but I'm really enjoying the little differences between each brand, and the distinct personalities that each face style conveys.  Alma strikes me as the most sweetly innocent of the group so far, and I think her youthful face and durable outfit would make her a lovely companion for a younger child.  That said, the $50 suggested retail price is too high.  So try not to let those doe eyes lure you in; find one of these dolls on sale or look for other options...several of which I'll chat about in the weeks to come!


  1. I think Alma is a nice, colorful doll. I like the others as well, but i find the stylized faces on these dolls really friendly and appealing. I wonder how durable the plastic body is? These dolls might be popular with kids in the preschool age range.

  2. Excellent review as always! As a Native American I wanted to put in my 2 cents on the whole “Spirit Animal” debate. While my tribe doesn’t make a big deal about it I know some do however that being said most Natives care more about the fact we don’t have stuff like indoor plumbing on our reservations and our “police” are extremely corrupt. The focus of policing language is honestly more of a farce than anything actually helpful to us. My people are considered expendable to most Americans and our genuine concerns are knocked aside because of the myth that we’re all rich from Casinos and get money from the government to live on. If people really want to respect us it’s better to focus on the fact that Native Women are more likely to go missing/be trafficked/murdered than our white counterparts as well as our men being seen as sexual predators instead of “problematic”(quotes for emphasis) wording and tropes.

    1. I appreciate getting your input--thank you. I'm glad you posted about the realities of your tribe's situation. Awareness is often a big part of the battle, but I know it's not enough. Again, thank you for being honest with all of us. And write more if there's anything we can do.

  3. Great review! I'd say Gwynn is still my favorite of the bunch, but I'd actually place Alma at #2! I really like her hair color and skin tone, and something about her face just seems very sweet to me. When compared to a doll like Emmi, I feel like the latter just looks a bit... stern maybe? I think Alma would make a wonderful present for a kid and with a hefty discount I would probably even buy her over Gwynn (and the others) if I had to choose one as a gift out of all the dolls you've reviewed so far in this series. Her articulation really makes her stand out as well!

    1. I agree. if Alma had a sister with normal hair color, she'd be a strong contender to purchase to go with my other Wellie Wishers. I love that she has a good weight and the extra posing abilities. And I think her face would go great with the Wellies and AG dolls.

  4. "Being kind doesn't mean being a doormat, Lulu" THIS is why I love your reviews. You are honest AND entertaining! I am glad that none of your recent dolls have tempted me, I am still trying to quit looking at Paola Reina dolls and clothes!

  5. Alma's hairline is too recessed for my taste, but the color is pretty and looks nice when it is loose to frame her sweet face.

    It's fun to look at all the dolls in the lineup so far! Seeing Ellery again has me tempted to get her and attempt a glow up.

  6. Gosh, if her head wasn’t quite so big I’d consider her…I mean, if one is going to go big, then go big like Blythe. This just looks somewhat out of proportion. I’m still loving my version of Ellery 🥰. —MNGirl

  7. I think she is cute! And I enjoy this reviews serie very much... For curiosity: Alma is a girl name that means "soul" in Spanish.

  8. Your comment about all the creatures but the bunny happily snacking on a child gave me such a laugh. I agree though, it's refreshing to see a shark paired up with a doll!

    And I'd love to talk to an artist about that wolf. Stylization is one thing, but that is I. No way a wolf tail!

    The streaks are something I probably would have liked as a kid, my hair got some naturally in the summer (dark brown hair, with light brown to blonde hair on the sides of my face in two straight lines). Inherited that from my grandmother! In her 20s she developed one silver streak and one light brown in her very dark hair, which was conveniently fashionable at the time.

  9. Do you have any Wild Hearts Crew dolls? Alma's hair colour looks very similar to Charlie Lake's, but Charlie's fiber is horrible. I haven't noticed any outfit matching problems though, probably because Charlie is a teen with an edgier wardrobe.

    1. Black Kitty, I have a WHC Charlie Lake and her hair is a combo of dark and medium true-blue. Alma’s hair looks like teal from all of Ms Emily’s pics and descriptions, much closer to the green-blue end of the spectrum. Blue is more accepted as “neutral” (like blue jeans) and goes with more outfit colors. As to quality to me it seemed like standard Mattel saran.

      That said, I’d enjoy if TBP reviews the Wild Hearts Crew, especially to compare their 2 body types as a precursor design to the bodies of the new upcoming Monster High releases!

      -RC from CA

    2. Wow, mine is definitely teal, maybe a touch darker than Emily's Alma, and the fiber is coarse like costume wigs. I don't know if they had different releases. I got mine recently, after seeing the first MH Cleo leaks. I thought they repurposed WHC for the new MH too, but after more pictures appeared I realised they have DC bodies - the standard size, that is.

  10. Emily I saw an ad on Instagram that looked like something you’d like! Look up “Healthy Roots Dolls”

  11. Oh my goodness! So much cuteness in one post!

  12. Oh no... I'm seriously tempted by Be Bright Savannah... she's so cute!

  13. I've met some rabbits who would try the eating. Kindness isn't my first thought in relation to the long eared ones. LOL