Sunday, October 23, 2022

Encanto Mirabel Dolls by Jakks Pacific

Well, I missed celebrating the one-year anniversary of the blog re-start.  That's typical.  I can't believe it's already been a year, but I guess the huge pile of dolls in my basement is pretty good evidence.  I need to get more serious about selling the dolls I review--or at least the ones who are worth something more than $20.  And since I've gotten out of the habit of selling dolls right after I finish their reviews, I'll find other ways of letting you know when something is for sale.  I can post on Twitter and Patreon easily, and I'll add a comment to the review of any doll that's about to be for sale.  There's also a gadget on the right side of the blog that will appear when there are items in the shop.

Another thing that's worth celebrating is that I have sixty Patrons already!  Woo hoo!  Thank you so much to that dedicated crew for helping out financially, and also for your inspiring comments, suggestions, and messages.  I could not do this without you.

But that's enough of that!  If I don't get this review written soon, some other new thing will come along to distract me and I'll be even more behind.  I've had three different dolls from the Disney movie Encanto sitting in my workroom for months now, and it's high time that I take a look at them.  Today I'll focus on two Mirabel dolls (and one Antonio doll) by Jakks Pacific, and then in a few days I'll follow up with a comparison to the Disney Store's version of Mirabel.

The Mirabel and Antonio Adventure set by Jakks Pacific, $24.99.

The Encanto movie actually crept up on me.  I wasn't super-aware of it when it first came out in 2021, probably because I didn't go out much during the pandemic.  But then about five months ago, I was on Disney Plus to watch Raya and The Last Dragon, and it popped up as a recommendation.

And I almost bailed during the first ten minutes of the movie, too, because while I love The Family Madrigal song, the scene that accompanies it is so frenetic and complicated, I felt lost.  But I'm so glad I persisted, because by the time Antonio saw his room, I was hopelessly hooked.

Mirabel is such an incredibly appealing character, I was curious to see if any of the dolls on the market could capture her warmth and spunk.  For reference, here's a screenshot of what she looks like in the movie:


My first impression of the Mirabel dolls that I've seen at Target or online over the last few months was that they don't look anything like the sweet face in that picture, but I wanted to get a closer look to see if I was missing something.

The first doll I'm going to show you is called Sing and Play Mirabel.  She's designed to sing and play the accordion.  I was curious to see what song she would play...although there aren't too many options from the movie.

She comes in a large blister pack box with plastic on all sides:

Sing and Play Mirabel doll by Jakks Pacific, $24.99.

The cardboard on the back of the box has an access hole so that you can test out the accordion-playing feature: 


All you have to do is press the lever on Mirabel's back and she'll move her arms and play a song (which, sure enough, is The Family Madrigal--the opening tune in the movie).

At the bottom of the box there's a gleeful picture of Mirabel:


The box was pretty easy to open, I just had to rip off the plastic shell.  This revealed a colorful backdrop with a picture of Casita:


Mirabel and her accessories were attached to the backdrop with several long plastic ties and one short tie right in the back of Mirabel's head.  The short tie was the only one that was hard to cut.

Here's Mirabel with her two accessories: an accordion and a hat:



When I got my first good look at Mirabel, I wasn't very impressed with her face...or her hair.  Her face looks too old to me, and her hair is lopsided and messy: 


The accessories are a bit confusing, too.  In the movie, Mirabel only plays an accordion for about five seconds at the very beginning, and I don't remember her wearing a hat at all.

The accordion comes rubber-banded to Mirabel's hands and is easy to remove:


It's made out of lightweight plastic, with a soft pleated center that is compressible:


This view shows the flexibility of the middle section better:


The molded details on this accordion are nice.  There's a push-button keyboard on one end with a few of the buttons painted pink:


Fun fact: some accordions have keyboards with actual keys like a piano, and others have buttons.  The designers got it right by copying the button style from the movie quite well:


Although many of the beautiful painted designs were omitted.

The back side of the accordion is very plain, with two visible screws holding the plastic parts together:


Mirabel's other accessory is a hat, and again--I can't remember this from the movie.  But I've only seen it once (okay twice), so I might have missed a brief appearance.

The hat is made out of hard vinyl and has a painted red band and some molded accents:


There's a plastic headband attached to the underside of the hat that--at least in theory--helps it stay on Mirabel's head:


I'll show you Mirabel with her accessories a little later, but for now I just have to say that I wish she'd come with her incredible embroidered bag (which she wore throughout a lot of the movie) rather than the  accordion and hat, which are insignificant to the plot:


That's not the greatest picture of the bag (I had a hard time capturing images), but it gives you the general idea, at least.  It's an amazing bag.

Here's Mirabel on her own:


Her balance is okay, but not great.  She does not have any side-to-side movement in her legs, with means that the only way to control her balance is to tip her whole body forwards or backwards.

It's hard to ignore the big "push here" tag on the middle of Mirabel's chest, isn't it?


So let's see what happens when that area is pressed:


It's the same truncated version of The Family Madrigal song that plays when the lever on Mirabel's back is pushed...and now I've had that song like a brain worm in my head for the past week.

Mirabel's arms are permanently bent in order to hold the accordion, but without that accessory, she looks a bit silly!

I caught a fish, and it was THIS big!
Her hair came out of the box lopsided and messy, with bits of flaking white gel in some areas:


There's a rooted part hidden amidst the curls:

And one end of a plastic tie.
I did my best to arrange the curls with my fingers, but it was very hard to make the hair look good:

What a mess.
This hair is a shame because the animated Mirabel's hair is gorgeous:


I took Mirabel's signature green glasses off so that I could get a better look at her face.  The glasses are made out of plastic (with no gold accents) and they do not have any moving parts:


Even without the glasses, I found it hard to focus on Mirabel's face because of all that unruly hair!  Also, the huge curl in the middle of her forehead is distracting--and not accurate to the movie:


So I pulled the hair back into a quick ponytail:


I'm not sure what it is that makes this doll's features look so much more mature than the character in the movie.  Maybe it's that the half-smile expression makes Mirabel's chin look more angular than it usually does?  Also, her cheeks don't look as full as they do in the movie.  I think they were trying to approximate the expression from the Encanto promotional poster:


Anyway, she has big brown eyes that are slightly wonky, thick, raised eyebrows that almost reach her hairline, a large, realistically-shaped nose dotted with freckles, and a wry half smile:


The eye paint is shiny and crisp and there's a long row of upper eyelashes that is very distinct.  The eyebrows are thick, with a block of light brown accented with about eight darker hair lines.  The freckles are scant and a bit generic, but they look good:


The mouth is large and is painted with a medium mauve color:


Mirabel has large ears with small blue molded earrings that are not removable:


In the movie, Mirabel's earrings are little blue pom-poms:

I love the string butterfly on her shoulder, too!
My doll has some shiny residue on the left side of her face--probably gel that leaked down out of the hair:


Here she is in full profile so that you can see the shape of her ears:


The glasses slide over the ears and stay in place fairly well, especially when the hair is loose:


Mirabel is wearing a dress that is a good replica of the one the character wears all throughout the movie:


The dress closes in back with velcro and has a small slit to accommodate the accordion-playing lever:


The top of the dress is made out of a soft white knit and has a large collar.  Of course all of the embroidery from the movie dress is only printed onto the fabric here, but it still looks colorful and pretty:


There's a printed teal waistband just above the skirt that says "Mirabel:"


The skirt of the dress is made out a stiffer, more synthetic-feeling material, and also has a lot of printed detail:


The decorations on the skirt hint at Mirabel's gift by depicting little pieces of information about many (all?) of her family members:


My favorite decorations are Antonio's animals and the funny self portrait:


The dress has a soft pom-pom embellishment at the hemline, which is not accurate to the movie but looks great!


The stitching is fine, with tiny seams but no reinforced edges:



And, as you can see from that last picture, the fabric of the skirt is very prone to wrinkles.

Mirabel's shoes are pink espadrilles:


These are all one color, with criss-cross straps and tons of molded detail:



I love the spiraled pattern on the soles of the shoes, and the little braided edges:


Underneath her outfit, Mirabel has a plastic body that is designed around the sound and motion feature.


There's a big speaker on her belly, and a large button in the middle of her chest.

My doll has some scuffing on one side of the button:


Mirabel's back is even more cluttered, with the big lever at the top, copyright marks, a power switch, and several plastic plugs that probably conceal structural screws:


The plastic plug on Mirabel's bottom is particularly unfortunate.  But no, she does not belong in a different review.


Here's a closer look at everything on Mirabel's back


The power switch can be the "T" test position (where it's set when she's in the box), the "X" off position, or the "O" on position.  Thank goodness there's an off setting, because this doll bursts into song every time her arms move or every time the button on her chest is pushed.  That gets old really fast.

There's also a battery compartment on Mirabel's left leg:


This might not look very good, but it's nice that there's a way to replace the batteries and prolong the doll's functionality...or to remove them and silence her permanently.

Mirabel has five points of articulation, the best of which is her neck joint.  She can turn her head from side to side:


And can turn all of the way backwards without looking up:


She can also tip her head from side to side:


And can look up and down:


This head movement combined with her facial features makes her quite expressive!


Mirabel has a small amount of movement in her arms, but this is strictly meant to be part of the singing and accordion playing gimmick.  When the lever on her back is pushed down, she lifts her arms a little bit up to the side--as though she's moving the bellows of the accordion:

Or trying to fly.
I mentioned earlier that Mirabel does not have any side-to-side movement in her legs.  But she does have some front-to-back movement, so she can try to do splits...

"Try" being the key word.
And she can sit on the ground:


Mirabel has small feet, and her big toes are obscured by a seam line:


She also has some molding artifacts on her heels:


For a size reference, here's Mirabel next to my tireless assistant, Lena:

I think my fish was bigger than yours.
I put Mirabel back into her outfit so that I could play around with her for a while:


She can't be posed much at all, but at least I got her hair looking somewhat symmetric.


The hat fits onto her head, but it sits up pretty high because of that headband, and it falls off really easily:


The accordion fits over her hands nicely, and stays on even without the rubber bands:


And, with the power switch in the fully "on" position, Mirabel can use her arm motion to play the accordion and sing a more complete version of the song:


Every other time her arms move or the chest button is pressed, an instrumental version of the song plays:


As much as I like the movie Encanto and The Family Madrigal song, I'm not crazy about this doll.  Her hair is a huge mess and her face is missing the youthful appeal of the animated Mirabel from the movie.  This doll is good at playing the accordion and singing, but that's about it.  Despite her great head articulation, her robot-like arms and inflexible legs hold her back; she simply isn't a versatile doll.


I wanted to give Jakks Pacific another chance to do justice to the Mirabel character, so I purchased a second version of the doll called the Mirabel and Antonio Adventure Set.  It costs the same as Sing and Play Mirabel.

This set was super-appealing to me because of the addition of Antonio (the animal-loving member of the Madrigal family).  Antonio is one of the best characters in the movie, but I'm not aware of any other 1:6 scale Antonio dolls on the market right now.

The Mirabel and Antonio Adventure Set, $24.99.
This set also comes in a blister pack box with a colorful cardboard back:


I was pleased to see that this version of Mirabel does not have permanently bent elbows...although her elbows aren't articulated, which is a bummer:


As with the other set, I de-boxed this duo by ripping off the plastic front of the box and then snipping a lot of long plastic ties:


The set comes with two dolls and two animal companions:


Let's look at Mirabel first.  

Unfortunately, she has even worse balance than the Sing and Play doll.  She has to pitch forward in order to balance:


I think part of the balance problem is that the soles of the shoes are warped and do not provide a level surface.

Right out of the box, this Mirabel's hair doesn't look any better than the Sing and Play version!

It looks worse.
I removed her glasses (which are the same as the first ones we saw) and did my best to tidy her hair:

Adventure Set Mirabel.
She has the same face mold as the Sing and Play Mirabel.  The face paint is similar, too, but this doll has too much blush on her left cheek.  There are some other paint differences that make me like this face better than the first one, though.  One difference is that her lips are thinner, which is more realistic for her expression.  Also, her eyes are lighter and have a better iris and pupil shape; they're less intense and wonky.  

Here's the Sing and Play doll again for comparison:
 
Sing and Play Mirabel.
Hand here's a GIF to help you see the differences:


The paint differences are probably not reliable across the two sets, but it might be worth picking these dolls in person if at all possible.

The Adventure Set Mirabel has a cheaper-looking dress than the Sing and Play version.  Rather than having a soft bodice, the whole garment is made out of shiny, stiff material.


Furthermore, the decorative collar tends to flip up...


Which reveals some snags in the fabric underneath:


Also, because the neckline has a tiny seam allowance, it tends to invert, stick up, and look messy:


This dress does not have the cute pom-pom decoration around the hem that we saw on the Sing and Play dress:


But this design is more accurate to the movie.

The quality of the stitch work is very similar to what we saw with the Sing and Play dress:


But the fabric in this bodice frays more easily, and so there are unraveled edges already:


Here are the two dresses together:

Sing and Play dress (left) and Adventure Set dress (right).
The skirts are almost exactly the same (except for that pom-pom hemline), but I prefer the matte, soft fabric of the Sing and Play dress bodice

Sing and Play dress (left) and Adventure Set dress (right).
The two dolls' sandals share the same mold, but the Adventure Set version has gaping openings in the back...


And this causes the shoes to slip off way too easily:


At least one shoe fell off every single time I picked this doll up.

Here are the two pairs of shoes side-by-side:

Sing and Play shoes (left) and Adventure Set shoes (right).
The Adventure Set Mirabel has a more versatile body than the Sing and Play version, but still only five points of articulation:


The body looks a lot better without all of the buttons, speakers, and switches, doesn't it?


This Mirabel has the same exact neck articulation as the other doll:


But her shoulders have hinged rotation, so she can lift her arms up a little bit:


And also spin them around:


Someday I'll catch a fish THIS big!
She also has some side-to-side movement in her hips, which helps with her balance and allows for modest splits:


Because the legs connect with a ball-shaped peg, there's also a tiny bit of in-and-out rotation at the hip:


This joint also allows Mirabel to do awesome front-to-back splits:


And she can sit upright on the ground without having to use her arms for balance:


Here are the two versions of Mirabel together:

Sing and Play Mirabel (left) and Adventure Set Mirabel (right).
The Adventure Set doll's eye and mouth paint definitely make her more engaging!

Sing and Play Mirabel (left) and Adventure Set Mirabel (right).
There's a slight difference in their skin tones, too, especially in the face.

Here are some more pictures of Adventure Mirabel back in her full outfit:


Her hair was really not behaving for me!


Who's having a bad hair day?

I am!
Finger-combing only made it worse:


So I tied the hair back into a ponytail and left it that way for the rest of the review.


This Mirabel doesn't come with any of her own accessories, but she can sort-of hold the accordion from the Sing and Play set:


Ok, that looks really awkward.  But still, it's so nice to have a doll with arms that can move freely!

The hills are alive, with the sound...welcome to the family Madrigal!
Here are the two versions of Mirabel together again in their full outfits:



It's too bad about the crazy hair and the cheaply-made dress of the Adventure Set doll, because otherwise she'd be an across-the-board improvement over the Sing and Play version, and a nice toy for anyone who loves the Encanto movie.


The part of the Adventure Set that had me the most excited was little Antonio, though!  He looks really cute and is a very likable character:


Antonio's balance is better than Mirabel's, and his hair is easier to control!

A little flat right out of the box, though.

I love his face:


I feel like Jakks did a better job with Antonio's facial features than they did with Mirabel's.  He looks a lot like the movie character!  

Here's a cute screenshot of Antonio and Mirabel from the movie:


He's wearing a very simplified version of the outfit from that screenshot...although there isn't a vest in the movie outfit, from what I can remember--just the yellow shirt and red bandana:


The shirt and pants on this outfit are attached, so it's all one piece--like a jumpsuit. 

The fabric is softer and not as shiny as Adventure Mirabel's dress, but the stitching is similar:


The outfit also includes espadrille sandals, which are easy to use and look nice, even though they have far less detail than Mirabel's shoes:


Underneath his outfit, Antonio has a plastic body with vinyl limbs and five points of articulation:



His neck joint is not as maneuverable as Mirabel's; he can only spin his head around:


But his shoulders and hips are rotating hinges, so he can lift his arms away from his body move his legs apart a little:


And he can also spin his arms around and do front-to-back splits:


He can sit on the ground nicely, too:


For size comparison, here's Antonio, back in his outfit, standing next to Freya, my New York Doll Collection mini, who's about the same size as an American Girl mini:

New York Doll Collection mini (left) and Antonio from Encanto (right).
Not to give everything about the movie away, but Antonio's gift is that he can talk to animals.  So it makes sense that he comes with two animal companion accessories.

First, there's this cute little coati:
 

Coatis are mammals from South America who look like this in real life:

Coati, public domain.
And they look like this in Encanto:


The figure is a pretty good interpretation of the movie version, but the angular markings around the eyes are a strange choice:

Looks a bit like a raccoon.
The coati is looking to its left, so the right side of the figure is less interesting:


There's a small Disney mark on the belly, but not a lot of detail on the underside:


The other animal is a toucan.  This little guy can't stand up, but has gripping feet that fit over Antonio's arm:


Just like in the movie!



When the toucan is perched, it's easier to see all of the painted details:


The colors are a bit different from what's in the movie, but it's still a cute figure.

Here's Antonio with both of his friends:



Antonio is a great little doll.  He's not highly-articulated, but his vinyl limbs have a bit of bend to them, which adds to his flexibility.  It's too bad that his outfit is so simple.  It doesn't measure up to the quality of the rest of the doll.  I might have to see if I can find some new clothing for him on Etsy or somewhere like that.  I love his face and his animal pals, and his hair looks good without any fussing around.  In my mind, he easily steals the show in the Adventure Set.


Mirabel and Antonio are really close, so they wanted to have a few pictures taken of them together:


I wish Mirabel had more flexibility in her arms so that she could interact with Antonio better.


Still, I can't help but smile when I look at these two happy faces!


Bottom line?  When I first started this review, I assumed that there would be a lot more similarity between the two Mirabel dolls.  I figured that the major differences would be the fact that one of the dolls can sing and the other can not, and of course that one comes with Antonio and the other does not.  However, there are quite a few differences here that might influence which set is the best choice for you or your child.

The Sing and Play doll is nice because she can sing.  In fact, this doll comes with two tracks (one instrumental and one vocal) and she switches back and forth between them.  Both songs are about twenty seconds long and repeat every time the arms move or a button on the chest is pressed.  This can get highly irritating, but luckily there's an on/off switch to stop the sound (or you could even remove the batteries for a more permanent fix).  The trouble is, without her singing and her arm-pumping interaction with the accordion, this doll feels very stiff and uninspiring.  Her arms are stuck in a robotic bent position, and her legs only have simple back-and-forth movement.  The face mold is recognizable as Mirabel, but the features look much older than the character is supposed to be, and the eyes on my doll are wonky and a bit vacant.  Another problem with this doll is her hair.  I found it to be an unruly mess that only looks reasonable when it's tied back.  The outfit is decent, though, with lots of colorful printed details that are accurate to the movie.  I like the soft fabric of the bodice, but just wish that the skirt was less stiff and wrinkled.

The Mirabel and Antonio Adventure Set version of Mirabel can't sing (which is both good and bad), plus she has a more versatile body, with no speakers, buttons, or gimmicks.  She also has better articulation in her arms and legs so she's more fun to pose.  However, her joints are still quite limited, and she has a hard time being as expressive as I feel like the Mirabel doll should be.  Also, this doll's dress is more cheaply-made than the Sing and Play version.  The entire thing is stiff and wrinkle-prone, the edges of the fabric are already fraying, and the neckline seam inverts and sticks out in an unattractive way.  However, I like this doll's face more than the other version.  The face molds are the same, but this version has softer eyes and thinner lips, and for some reason those little changes make a big difference to me.  Of course the best thing about this version of Mirabel is that she comes with Antonio!  And he is a delight.  The only critique I have of Antonio is that his jumpsuit-like outfit is extremely simple, which detracts from his overall appeal.

I think it might be time for another chart, just to keep everything organized!


Sing and Play Mirabel

Adventure Set Mirabel

Best face


Best outfit


Best accessories


Best articulation


Best hair

Haha.  That’s a good one.

No way.

Most versatile


Best singer



If I could mix and match features, I'd choose Adventure Set Mirabel, but with the Sing and Play doll's outfit (and maybe a subtle switch somewhere that would play the song?).  And for accessories, I'd include Antonio (of course) and an embroidered bag.  But since I can't do any of that, I recommend the Mirabel and Antonio Adventure Set as the best buy between these two.  

And now all that's left to see is whether or not the Disney Store can add something new or better to this comparison!  I'll be back with that review as soon as I can.

11 comments:

  1. There's a doll 4-doll set from the Disney store that also comes with Antonio! It's Mirabel, Antonio, Luisa, and Isabel.

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    1. They also have a four doll walmart set that includes these two Jakks Pacific dolls, along with a version of Luisa and Isabel. I missed the Disney Store set and I only want Luisa anyway so I bought it. They also don't have articulated arms or legs.

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  2. Ohhh that was a lovely surprise! I absolutely fell in love with Encanto and all it‘s characters, especially Bruno and Mirabel and I collect allll the Encanto doll, hehe. Yesterday I finally got my Jakks Bruno (he‘s so adorable) and Dolores dolls. Jakks did a really great job on them. I do like the Jakks dolls more than the Disney Store ones. Jakks Isabela is just beautiful while the DS version looks very hard.

    An artist friend of me repainted the the head of Jakks Mirabel and put her on a DS body, and she looks so perfect. If you like I can send you some photos of her :)

    About the singing doll…are there different versions of her? Cause mine plays the song in English, instrumental and around 8 other languages, but you have to fiddle with the buttons a bit.

    I really love your review ❤️

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  3. The poor Toucan looks shell shocked LOL

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  4. I agree with your assessment (especially with Antonio as best doll of the three, indefinitely would have been most drawn to him as a child), but I was also surprised by the accordion. Much more effort there then I would have guessed, it has so much flex!

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  5. What an amazing review! It was especially relevant since my niece asked for an encanto doll for her birthday and I had no idea what to get 🤣 now I know 🙃 she will definitely be happy to receive her doll(s) next month!

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  6. I love Encanto but have not been pleased with any of the Mirabel dolls I've seen. There's a toddler Mirabel that comes close. Otherwise, I'm about ready to buy her "Dress" And put it on a American Girl doll.

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  7. Happy one-year blog anniversary, Emily!! I'm still so happy you decided to start up the blog again.

    I haven't seen Encanto yet, but I'm planning to! The visuals I've seen from the movie do look stunning, so I can imagine expectations are high in terms of the dolls and other toys from the movie. In recent years, throwing around the Disney license has resulted in some pretty bad dolls. Hasbro lost it for a reason, but the leaks of the new Mattel dolls don't look very promising either. It's almost as if Disney wants to keep the Disney store dolls at the top, lol. In any case, keeping all that in mind, I think Jakks did pretty well overall. The Adventure Set especially is quite cute, and even though their molds are the same, I highly prefer that Mirabel to the Sing and Play one (crazy how face paint can make such a big difference). I quickly Googled the Disney store dolls and am curious to see what you think of that Mirabel. Her articulation is a major plus point, but her face isn't my favorite either. Curious that toy companies seem to struggle so much with the faces of this movie. The characters have more realistic features and don't look like the "traditional" Disney princesses, sure, but they're still quite cartoony and should lend themselves well to the doll form, or so I thought. (I guess Disney long struggled with Rapunzel and Merida as well though, to be fair.)

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  8. One of my granddaughters loves all things Disney, so of course I had to watch Encanto with her, and found it delightful! But I noticed one thing with the dolls vs the movie and now I can’t un-see it! The dolls look like her eyes are upside down! Look for yourself—in the film shots, her pupils are on the bottom with more sclera on the top, while the dolls have more sclera on the bottom making her look like she’s looking up all the time! This doesn’t seem to be such an issue with Antonio. I know, I’m too obsessed with eyes. —MnGrl

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  9. Happy 1 year anniversary of your blog comeback!

    I’ve been rereading your blog Mrs. Emily and quite a long time ago you talked about sculpting clay babies for masterpiece. Did you ever get around to telling about that experience? I would still love to hear it!

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  10. Have you seen the 14 inch toddler size Mirabel? So cute!

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