Wednesday, November 23, 2022

FailFix Dolls by Moose Toys

You know how it is when you're looking at a doll on Amazon and then the search formula suggests six more things you might like?  And then you click on those things and get even more suggestions?  I follow these suggestion chains all of the time, and for me, they tend to devolve quickly into the weeds of knockoff dolls, huge outfit sets, or things I've already bought.  However, the other day a FailFix doll popped up as a suggestion, and her outlandish face and hair stopped me in my tracks.  I quickly pulled up all of the FailFix dolls I could find.  The characters look hilariously stressed out, and have all of their accessories tangled up in their hair.  The faces made me laugh out loud, and pretty much without exception, any doll who can make me laugh is going to end up in my shopping cart.

The idea behind this line is that you can fix the doll's "failed" hair and makeup to make them look better.  The chaotic hair can be untangled and brushed, and the stressed-out face plate can be removed to reveal a calmer visage.  The makeover element would have been more than enough to tempt me (I love a good makeover!), but what's even better is that the FailFix girls are essentially surprise dolls--with one of their actual faces being the mystery!  I don't think I've ever bought a doll without knowing what their face looks like.

Because of the surprise element, I probably should have waited and published this as a Sunday Surprise post, but I got impatient.  Really impatient.  In fact, I can't remember the last time I was so excited to get a doll out of her box!  I needed to see what was behind that silly face:

FailFix SlayItDJ by Moose Toys, $19.99.

Incidentally, I was looking at the new Glo-Up Girls on Amazon when I found FailFix, which goes to show that Amazon makes relevant suggestions some of the time.  Glo-Up is another brand where (at least in the first wave) you can't see the dolls' faces when you buy them.  So I'll have to review one of those girls really soon, too, because the curiosity is eating away at me.

Anyway, the MSRP on the FailFix dolls is $19.99, but they've been around since 2020 and are now discontinued, so it's possible to get some really good deals.  I found SlayItDJ on Amazon for just over $7.

There are five dolls in the first FailFix release:

From left: PreppiPosh, @Dance.Stylz, Kawaii.Qtee, Loves.Glam, and SlayItDJ.
And there are two dolls in series two.  Mint-haired PrettyArtee:
That face is incredible.
And a larger gift set including 2Dreami:

She's more generic, but with tons of accessories.
There are also some FailFix pets, which I can de-box over on Patreon.  Here's an example:

As I understand it, there was quite a bit of controversy when these dolls were first released.  A lot of parents complained that the makeover theme was damaging to kids--that there should be no concept of "failed" hair or makeup, and that these dolls emphasize makeup and beauty too much.  I kind-of see that argument, I guess, but I was picturing something more along the lines of these girls falling asleep with their makeup on, and now they just need help to get everything back to normal before they start their busy days.  Perhaps if the brand name was something other than FailFix, there would have been less of an outcry?  Using the world "fail" was probably an effort to be trendy, but I see how calling elements of a person's appearance a failure could be hurtful.

Moose Toys was cited by the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) for their messaging, and eventually discontinued this line because of the backlash.  I read the CARU analysis, and while I still can't get too worked up over the makeup and hair issue, I'm sympathetic to objections that were made regarding the racial stereotypes portrayed by these dolls--especially in the first wave (the Black girl is into hip hop, the Asian girl loves anime, and the white girl is the scholar).  That said, I didn't see any of these stereotypes suggested in the information that came with any of the dolls I bought.  I perceive the dolls as blank slates that kids could imbue with any personality they like.

Anyway, I take more issue with these dolls' names than anything else.  The names are yet another attempt to be trendy, I suppose, but I can't remember any single one of them.  I had to constantly refer back to Amazon's page to check names, and then it took me way too long to type each one.

The first doll I bought is named SlayItDJ, but I'm going to call her Alyssa:


Alyssa came in a plastic box with a cardboard backdrop.  

There are tons of decorations on the box, including this little summary of the makeover transformation:

Brush hair, fix makeup, put on a surprise fashion!
The front of the box advertises that Alyssa comes with a mystery outfit, but this didn't seem like much of a mystery, given the fact that a huge picture of the actual outfit is shown right above all of the question marks:

That pretty much gives it away.
The back of the box is packed with even more information:


Including, in a tiny, crumpled panel at the very bottom of the box, an important detail:

Day, sparkle, or evening?
Apparently, Alyssa can come with one of three different outfits (and one of three different face-ups).  The day and sparkle dresses look very similar, but that evening dress is totally different!.

So it actually is a surprise what outfit you get with each doll!  Yay!  That's a lot more fun.

What's also fun is this cartoon version of disgruntled Alyssa, which is meant to look like a video she posted online:

A call for help to her friends?
I mean, her boots are stuck in her hair and her makeup looks like it was applied with a paint gun.  That's not a real-life scenario.  I just can't see anyone taking this concept seriously enough to be offended.

The little quotes underneath that picture might be more troubling--like saying because her hair isn't perfect she looks "cray."  


But basically she's just a doll who likes to rhyme and who needs our help.  And I'm ready to help!

Dismantling Alyssa's box was not easy.  I ripped at it and gouged it with scissors like a maniac, and then I realized that if I pulled off the cardboard backing, I could then pry up the edges of the plastic and remove that without too much trouble.

Underneath the plastic, there was a plain blue cardboard backdrop with Alyssa and her accessories firmly attached:


The biggest hassle of this packaging was the fact that Alyssa's hair had a plastic bubble securing it, and her body had a plastic bathrobe to hold it in place (and conceal the mystery outfit):


Both the bathrobe and the plastic around the head were tedious to remove.

With the plastic around the head gone, I was able to get a nice clear view of Alyssa's face and hair.  She still makes me giggle:

Why do I have boots in my hair?
The expression on her face is great, and very detailed!  I love her lopsided open mouth, complete with teeth and tongue.  Honestly, you don't get this much detail on a lot of play dolls' permanent faces:


I might be in the minority, but I also think the smudged makeup is quite pretty, especially around the eyes; it's like a watercolor painting.  And again, the attention to detail is great.

I snipped around the edges of the bathrobe and removed everything from the box.  This revealed the first surprise: Alyssa came wearing the "day" version of her outfit:


I was hoping for the evening dress, although perhaps that's rare?  You can find a few pictures of that dress online, and it's awesome.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any photos that I could share here without copyright issues.

The kicker is, now I'm tempted to buy this same doll again, just for a chance to get the other dresses!  There are no separate clothing packs in the FailFix lineup, so buying other dolls is the only way to get extra same-brand outfits.  I did notice a few shops on Etsy that have handmade outfits for these girls, though, which is nice.  And random things from other brands apparently fit.

Alyssa came with a bunch of accessories, too:


There's a brush and a clip to make her faux hawk hairstyle:


Four bright pink rubber bands:


And the magic mask that will help us fix her flustered face!

I am Groot.
The mask looks like it has bubbles all over it, which is a little freaky.  I don't think of facial masks as being bubbly, but I've never used one, so I'm no expert.

The back of the mask has two loops that fit over the doll's ears:


And wow.  Those eye holes look so much angrier from the back then they do from the front, right?  I'm seeing an angry, cross-eyed gremlin in that face, for sure:


But anyway, back to the accessories.

The stand came in three pieces, all made out of clear plastic, and it was easy to assemble.  I was glad to have a stand, since there was no way Alyssa was going to be able to balance on her own while her boots were still stuck in her hair!


Not only were there boots in Alyssa's hair, but a few pieces of jewelry were stuck in there, too.  And, believe it or not, none of these items were held in place with plastic ties!  The boots were secured using cardboard strips, and the jewelry was held in place only by the stiff hair surrounding it:

How did this even happen?
The coiled hair is a bit of a masterpiece all on its own.  The twists and curls are nicely arranged and almost look like something you'd see on a fashion runway...or in 18th century France.

The back of Alyssa's head has a large area at the bottom with no rooted hair.  This is meant to look like a decoratively-shaved design:


I want to take one more look at Alyssa's upset face before we get started with her makeover:

Do we have to?
Not only does this face make me smile, but it makes me relate to Alyssa more.  I mean, who among us hasn't rolled out of bed looking less than our best on occasion?  And when has there ever been a doll that showed this side of life?

I feel you, girlfriend.
Alyssa came with a pamphlet that shows exactly how the makeover should be approached:


I'd already taken plenty of "before" photos, so it was time to get those accessories out of Alyssa's hair.

She came with pink boots and a necklace and earrings that are so light grey that they almost disappear against my backdrop:

Invisible jewelry.
Here's the hair, free of accessories:

Is this an improvement?
The next step was to apply the face mask and then start brushing out the hair:


Before I started brushing the hair, I used my fingers to loosen the curls a bit.  There was so much hair gel in this hair, as you can imagine, and so it was really hard to disrupt the shapes:

You're making it worse, Emily!
The pamphlet suggested approaching each strand of hair separately, working from the tips upwards:


So I put the face mask on, and then got to work brushing some hair!  I used the brush Alyssa came with at first, and then switched over to my wire brush because it's easier to hold.

Here's how she looked after a few minutes:

Um...
The hair actually started to soften pretty quickly, and the texture is great!

Too bad her face is being devoured by bubbling slime.
I was worried that brushing out the hair would be frustratingly time-consuming, but I actually found the process therapeutic.  It felt relaxing and nurturing, and the results were better than I expected.  


The pamphlet mentioned that the more I brushed, the better the results would be, so I continued brushing for another five minutes or so.

The next step was to pull off the face mask and reveal Alyssa's face!  So this is the big moment!

Okay, wait.  Where are her arms in that picture?
Wow.  I didn't even notice that she's armless in half of the instruction pictures.  That's so weird.  If I were Alyssa, I'd find disappearing arms ten times more disturbing than some smudged makeup.

Here's another armless example, and in this picture she looks terrified of that purple mask!

She could push it away if only she had arms.
But I'm just delaying the surprise.  Maybe on purpose.

The purple mask works by gripping the outer face behind the ears.  So when I pulled on the mask, both it and the face came off!

Totally normal!
This is kinda creepy, but also delightfully bizarre:


But I'm no stranger to dolls with faces that come off....or are ripped off.

Anyway, are you ready to see Alyssa's other face?  Drumroll please...

Here she is!

Nice!
I think she's really cute!  But man, oh, man.  That is some serious eye wonk:


Her left eye is sitting several millimeters higher than her right eye, which is a huge shame because the inset green eyes are quite pretty:


I gather that this is the "day" makeup, to match the day version of the dress.  It's pretty fancy makeup, though!


The eyes are especially detailed, with three different colors of eyeshadow, and gold eye liner on the bottom:


I love the lopsided smirk, and that two-toned lipstick is fun, too:


I pulled Alyssa's hair back so that we could see her profile more clearly:


She has massive eyes, as many dolls do these days, but I really like the shape of her lips, nose, and chin.  Her ears are pierced, but the holes are sloppy, with ragged edges.

Next, I added her accessories:


The earrings were a bit hard to push in, which put some stress on the thin posts.  The left earring loops up and attaches to the top of the ear:


And the right earring is a simple hoop:


The necklace is very hard to see against the dress, but it has a choker collar with a longer piece that hangs down in a "y" shape against Alyssa's chest:


The dress itself is a simple fitted mini with three-quarter sleeves.  There's an hourglass pattern on the front, with a heart shape at the bodice.  I like the multicolor, almost holographic print on the fabric: 


The back of the dress is mostly black, and there's a velcro closure at the top:


Here's the dress on its own:


The design and construction are very basic, but the side seams are reinforced, at least:


The boots match the outfit fairly well, and because they're made out of soft vinyl, they're easy to get on and off.  Unfortunately, they don't offer enough stability for Alyssa to balance on her own:


There's only one step left in Alyssa's makeover, and that is to test out the faux hawk hair clip.  But while her dress is off, I'm going to take the opportunity to look at her articulation.

She has a plastic body with eleven joints:


She has white painted underwear and a few factory marks on her back:


Here's a closer look:


Alyssa's head can only spin around.  There's a little bit of wobble from side-to-side and up and down, but the joint does not appear to be designed to do anything but spin.


And as Alyssa's head spins, it looks more and more upwards:


Her shoulders are rotating hinges with great range of motion:



Her elbows and wrists are also rotating hinges, but the flexibility in her wrists is limited:


When I tried to bend her left wrist to 90 degrees, the hand started to fall out, and the attachment peg looked really stressed:


That peg is about ready to break--look at all of the white in the plastic:


The hands appear to be designed so that they can pull out:


And while I never found it necessary to remove the hands for dressing, that feature can certainly make things easier.

Here's the hand on its own--I like the natural shape of the delicate fingers:


If I bend the wrist without causing any stress to the joint, this is the limit of its movement:

What is that, like a 170 degree angle?  Boo.
Alyssa has what look like ball and socket hip joints.  These allow the legs to move apart from side to side a bit:


And also to do full front-to-back splits:


The angle of the legs is funny in this position, though:

Is that another 170 degree angle?
Alyssa can also sit upright on the ground:


And her hinged knees allow her to sit in a chair:


But she has a hard time kneeling!


There's rotation in her knee joints, too, so she can swivel her lower legs in or out:


Some parts of Alyssa's body feel fragile, but she's a fun little doll to pose!



Ok, now it's time to finish up Alyssa's makeover by testing out her hair accessory!  First, I brushed the hair a bit more (it's fun!).  And it really does look better and better the more it is brushed:


Next, I read in the pamphlet about how to use the faux hawk tool:


The instructions are very simple.  All I had to do is gather the hair back into a ponytail, and then position the clip right against Alyssa's head:

At least her missing arms are concealed here.
It worked well!


Here's the hair from the side:


Notice in that previous photo how Alyssa is unable to touch her face.  This is mostly because of the inflexibility in her wrist.

Anyway, here's Alyssa with her makeover finally complete:


I think she looks good, and the hairstyle is a nice extra touch.   Each FailFix doll comes with their own unique hairstyling tool like this.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the faux hawk hairstyle is to make, too.  I suspect most kids could do this with no trouble.


Alyssa's hair is rooted with a side part on the left, and I think the faux hawk would have worked better with a center part, but that's a pretty small critique.



I wasn't quite done with Alyssa yet, though.  Her hair feels really nice, but I was curious to see if the fiber was of high enough quality to be boil washed.

So, I heated up some water and gave Alyssa's head a few quick dunks.  This turned the water in my pot into a disgusting color, but the hair looks great...and it didn't melt!


It's still pretty stiff, though.  Apparently I didn't manage to get all of the hair gel out.


I haven't really talked much about Alyssa's size so far, since were are so many other fun things to chat about, but it's important to note that she's quite small in comparison to other popular play dolls.  At only 9.5 inches tall, she's much shorter than Barbie dolls like my tireless assistant, Lena:

FailFix doll (left) and Barbie doll (right).
Alyssa gave me some mild Liv vibes, too (probably because of her inset eyes) and so I wanted to compare her to Sophie:

FailFix doll (left) and Liv doll (right).
Sophie's so awesome.  Could it be true that Liv dolls are coming back?  I'm beyond excited by the rumors, but I won't hold my breath.

Alyssa also has similarities to Rainbow High dolls (although she seems much happier), but again, she's tiny compared to that brand:

FailFix doll (left) and Rainbow High doll (right).

She's come a long way from that frazzled girl we met at the beginning of the review, hasn't she?



I miss that frazzled girl a bit sometimes, though.  But that's okay!  The other face can be snapped back on whenever the mood hits:

And that's quite a mood.
So kids can re-live the makeover again and again--or simply change Alyssa's expression.


Not only is Alyssa a fun doll after the makeover, but I found the makeover process to be both exciting (that mystery face!) and calming (brushing that lovely hair!).  Not bad for seven bucks, right?


And you know me, of course I couldn't stop with looking at only one of these dolls.  The mystery element alone would have brought me back for more, but I also like that the dolls are all quite different.  From what I can tell, no two have the same skin tone, hair color, or eye color, and they all have different face molds, too--for both faces!  That's impressive.

The second wave doll named "2Dreami" caught my attention because she's a bit different from all of the other dolls.  She comes in a larger box with more accessories, and she's missing the element of surprise with her outfits.  She also has white hair that can be painted, which was pretty intriguing to me!

Failfix 2Dreami, MSRP unknown.
I'm not sure what the original price of this set was, but I got it for $19.99.

The box has the same construction style as Alyssa's box, but it's quite a bit larger.  Instead of a mystery outfit, this doll come in a reusable fabric bathrobe and has two additional items of clothing that are displayed next to her in the box:


On the opposite side of the box, there are some hair accessories on display--including the pink and blue hair paint:


The back of the box is packed with information--in several languages--about the doll and her makeover features.  It even looks like she comes with a salon chair:


But of course my favorite part of the box is the cartoon of 2Dreami panicking about her look:


Whoever did the box art for these dolls must have had a lot of fun!

There's not much else of note on the box, except--ack!  That bubble face might give me nightmares:


This box was every bit as hard to open as Alyssa's box, but I remembered to take a picture of the back so you could see my de-boxing strategy.  

After the cardboard on the back of the box is pulled off, this is what you're left with:


The plastic wraps around the sides of the inner cardboard backdrop with little tabs, and if these tabs are all lifted up, the whole plastic window can be removed in one piece--without even using scissors.

Here's the backdrop, with the extra cardboard display holding the outfits:


Hiding behind the outfits, I found pieces of the stand.  The stand in this set is much more elaborate than Alyssa's stand!


It took a while to get everything dislodged from the packaging, but here are all of the accessories that I extracted:


The biggest item is the stand, which includes a removable salon chair:


The stand even has a suction cup on the bottom, so that it doesn't move around when you're styling 2Dreami's hair!  That is a very cool feature.


There' also a braiding tool that is designed to mount onto the stand, so that it's positioned right behind 2Dreami's head:

I'll look at this more in a bit.
The smaller accessories include these six colorful hair ornaments with spiral attachments:


And the standard face mask, brush, and rubber bands:


This set also includes two tubes of hair paint--one pink and one blue:


Now let's take a closer look at 2Dreami...and give her a better name while we're at it:


This girl has platinum blonde hair and a strange complexion.  She's very pale, but with a sallow, greenish cast.  I think I'll name her Crystal.


Crystal's frazzled face is not quite as funny as Alyssa's, but it has a lot of color and detail.


Again, I think the "failed" eye makeup is quite pretty, and I'm impressed by the molded mouth.  

However, Crystal's eyebrows look like they were molded in one position and painted in a different position.  Can you see the faint bumps of her molded brows?


Here she is from the other side:


I drew in some black lines where the molded brows are, so we can see what her expression would have been like had that template been followed:

I would have loved to see that.
Crystal does not have the pretend shaved area on the back of her head that Alyssa has, so it's easier to see the rooting pattern...which isn't great:


The plugs around the hairline are fairly dense, but in the middle of the head, the scalp is highly visible:


But despite the thin rooting, Crystal somehow managed to stash two pairs of shoes in her hair, plus some jewelry:


I love the jewelry!  There are two hoop earrings with rainbow decorations, and a matching rainbow necklace:


The first pair of shoes are white, wedge-heeled sandals with criss-cross straps:


The second pair are these purple high-heeled sneakers with yellow laces:


Let's get started with Crystal's makeover now, because I'm really curious to see her face!

First I put her pink bubble mask on:


And then I brushed out her hair:


This hair was not as easy to tame as Alyssa's hair, and it didn't end up looking nearly as long as it does in the box photos.  See how long it looks in this picture?


But never mind the hair right now, let's see Crystal's face already!  

Here she is:


Again, after looking at the frazzled face for a while, it was a real shock to see this face!  She's very pretty, although her expression is not as quirky as Alyssa's:


I tied her hair out of the way so that I could get a better look:


This face has a lot of glitz, with sparkling glitter eyeshadow and stars underneath the eyes.  The eyes themselves are wonky, but nowhere near as bad as Alyssa's eyes.


Crystal has heavy blush, shimmering lip paint, and at least five different colors of eye shadow.  


Overall, her makeup is a lot heavier than Alyssa's--perhaps more like the "evening" version of the other dolls' faces?


After I got accustomed to Crystal's new face, I removed her bathrobe to get her hair ready for a quick boil wash.

I like that Crystal came in a reusable bathrobe, rather than the plastic robe that was so difficult to remove in Alyssa's box.  The robe is made out of a fine fleece fabric and has a printed design:


It closes in the back with velcro:


Crystal's boil wash went well, and without all of the waviness, the length of the hair is closer to what is shown on the box:


The hair feels nice and thick, too, and I wasn't very aware of the thin rooting pattern, which is nice.

With the hair under control, I was eager to try out the colored paint!  Crystal's white hair wasn't doing her complexion any favors.  

Instead of using both the pink and the blue paint (as is shown in the advertising), I decided to use just the pink.  The applicator made it easy to distribute the paint without getting my hands too messy:


And there was enough paint in the tube to cover most of the top layer of hair:


The instructions say to let the hair dry for at least thirty minutes, and then brush it thoroughly to distribute the color.  This worked pretty well...


And the color looks great:


But when I brushed the hair, tiny flecks of pink rained down all over my pants:


And the color rubbed off onto my fingers and onto any surface (like this paper towel) that came into contact with it:


So while I enjoyed painting the hair, I'm not sure how practical this feature is.  I would not want my kid playing with painted hair all over the house.  The color would get everywhere.  I'm sure the color can be washed out of Crystal's hair, though, so it's not a big deal.

The next step in Crystal's makeover was to get her dressed!  She comes with two different options: a little shorts set for daytime, and a long rainbow dress for evening.  The rainbow dress has a small slip that goes with it:


The slip dress confused me at first, but I think it's included because the fabric on the rainbow dress is a bit see-through.  You can just barely make out the shape of my fingers underneath the skirt here:


Here's Crystal in her daytime outfit, with the purple sneakers:


The shorts and shirt are sewn together, so the outfit is very easy to get on and off.  The only problem is that the little ribbon suspenders can get stuck to the velcro in back.


I like how the shorts match Crystal's newly-pink hair!



Before I put Crystal in her evening dress, I wanted to test out the braiding tool.  So I sat her in the salon chair:


The chair grips her thighs nicely, holding her in place so that she doesn't slip around.

I attached the braiding tool to the stand, and positioned it right below Crystal's head:


I'd never used a braiding tool before, but this thing is pretty great!  All I had to do was criss-cross small sections of hair, and the tool held everything in place:


As the braid got longer, I just moved the tool lower down on the stand:


It's not the greatest braid in the world, but this was my very first attempt!  I think a lot of kids would be able to do this quite easily:


The braid can be decorated with the colorful spiral ornaments:


Here's Crystal wearing only the slip dress:


And here she is in the full gown:


I added in her jewelry for the complete look!


Despite Crystal's pallid skin tone, I think this makeover turned out pretty well:


Here she is next to Alyssa, so you can see the difference in their face molds and coloring:

FailFix SlayItDJ (Alyssa) and 2Dreami (Crystal).
Crystal's set offers something a bit different from the other FailFix dolls.  For one, there aren't as many surprises.  The doll only comes with one face paint option, and her clothing is on display in the box.  Still, the appearance of her permanent face is a mystery, which is pretty fun.  The set also includes some hair play items, like the paint, the salon chair, and the braiding tool.  While I love the braiding tool and the chair, the hair paint might be a bit too messy to be used for everyday play.  The real benefit to this set is the rainbow dress.  It's of higher quality than the other FailFix clothing, and I think it looks great on Crystal.  


Alyssa and Crystal give a pretty good overview of the FailFix concept, but I was very curious to see how the micro braids on the @Dance.Stylz character would work with the hair gimmick.  Would it be possible to brush those braids out the same way I brushed Alyssa and Crystal's hair?

Let's find out.

Because I don't want to type @Dance.Stylz over and over, let's call this doll Jenny:


Jenny's packaging is the same as what we saw with Alyssa, but with different pictures and quotes:


But of course the most interesting details are the outfit options:

Those are all quite similar.
And the cartoon of Jenny with her grouchy expression:

She's definitely not happy!
Here's everything that came in the box:


You can see that, once again, I got a doll with the plain "day" version of the outfit.  I'd love to know the odds of getting each variant!

The unique hair accessory with this set is an elastic ponytail holder with two plastic ball decorations:


Right away, it was clear that the micro-braided hair would behave differently from the other hair:

It's a hair pretzel!
One limitation to the micro braids is that they can't be twisted into as many shapes as the loose hair.  And it's apparently harder to lodge the shoes into the hair--they're just hanging down like earrings:

Or hairrings?
Here's everything I found in the hair:


These accessories seem a little bland when compared to the other dolls (especially Crystal), but maybe that's because they're mostly white, with no painted accents.

Jenny's flustered face is pretty great.  Look at those eyebrows!  And she even has dimples:


I like the lopsided shape of her mouth, too, but it's not quite as expressive as Alyssa's mouth.

Alyssa, Alyssa, Alyssa.
And while I love the color orange, I'm not sure it's working here.  It clashes too much with Jenny's pink hair highlights.

I know about the orange, Emily, I know.
Eager to start Jenny's makeover, I loosened her heavily-gelled hair to see what would happen.  

This is what happened:

An explosion of hair!
It was really, really hard to get those micro braids to relax!

Ka-boom.
Here's the view from the side:

That is spectacular.
The ponytail holder didn't help much, either:

This is your idea of a makeover, Emily?

After doing my best with the hair, I put Jenny's facial mask on.  She was really not happy with me at this stage:

If looks could kill...
But are you ready to see her new face?

Ta-da!


I like the bold colors on this face a lot!  But of course the eyes are wonky--yet again:


I especially like the bright pink of Jenny's lips, and how her gold eyeshadow coordinates with her light brown eyes:


I was desperate to see if boil washing would help Jenny's hair.  I was a bit nervous that the hot water might loosen whatever substance is holding the bottoms of the braids together, but everything went fine.

And as chaotic as Jenny's hair was, after only seconds in hot water, it straightened out beautifully.  Now she looks fantastic!  I like her dark purple underwear, too:



Here she is, back in her outfit with all of her accessories:


The dress is very simple (and very short!), and the sleeves tend to turn inside-out at the edge:


Jenny was frequently overexposed by my camera, but she has a lovely dark complexion in real life.


Here she is next to Alyssa:

FailFix SlayItDJ (Alyssa) and @Dance.Stylz (Jenny).
These two are my favorites.  I love Alyssa's expression, and Jenny's hair and makeup are great.  I just wish they didn't both have wonky eyes!

Here are a few more portraits of Jenny:


The ponytail holder works a lot better now that the braids are straight!



But I think the hair looks best when it's down:



This was going to be the end of the review right here, but then I took a closer look at a comparison photo that I had of all three of my FailFix dolls together.  

This photo is nice for comparing faces and skin tones, but what surprised me was that Crystal is shorter than Alyssa and Jenny!

FailFix 2Dreami, SlayItDJ, and @Dance.Stylz.
Sometimes dolls can look taller or shorter because of how they're positioned in a photo, but Crystal is definitely shorter.  Here she is with only Alyssa:


The height difference is entirely in the legs, as you can see when I line the two girls up side-by-side:


Crystal and Alyssa have the same torso and foot mold, though, so they can share clothing and shoes perfectly.

Crystal's body caused me to investigate a little further, and apparently there's a third body type in this line, too! Fortunately, I already owned another FailFix doll who happened to have the third body type.

This is PreppiPosh, who I've re-named Marnie:


And I got the "day" version of this, doll, too.  That's three for three.

While I have Marnie here, we might as well take a closer look at her flustered face:


Honestly, this girl didn't make too many mistakes with her makeup.  Just some smudged eyeshadow and lip color, from what I can see.  Maybe somebody startled her just as she was finishing up her lipstick?  She definitely looks startled!  But I love her mouth mold, with just the hint of upper teeth showing.

Anyway, Marnie has a wider frame than the other girls--and yet another unique skin tone.  Here are the three body types:

Different FailFix body types: petite, curvy, and tall.
Despite the difference in torso shape, Marnie can still wear the other girls' shoes and clothing.  

Crystal's shorts set is a little tight, but it works!

And it matches the shoes...in her hair.
And the rainbow dress looks wonderful:


And while Marnie's dress is a bit loose and short on Alyssa, it still looks fine:


I try not to read too much about a doll brand before I write a review, just so I'm not accidentally prejudiced in one direction or another, but in this case it might have been good for me to know that there are three different body types ahead of time!  I would have selected different dolls for review.  

If we go back and look at the promotional picture I showed you at the beginning, now I can tell you which body type each girl has:

From left: PreppiPosh (curvy), @Dance.Stylz (tall), Kawaii.Qtee (petite), Loves.Glam (curvy), and SlayItDJ (tall).
In the interests of time, I didn't complete the full makeover with Marnie, but I know you're dying to see her other face, right?  So let's have one last surprise...

She's very sweet!  But--yet again--those eyes are wonky.  And it's always the left eye that's set too high:


Bottom line?  The last thing I reviewed from the Moose Toys company was Shelbert, the pooping Gotta Go Turdle.  These dolls offer a striking contrast to that funky, flatulent reptile, but they have a similar fun-loving, zany sense of humor about them.

One of the wonderful things about these dolls is that they're all so different.  Every single character has their own skin tone, hair color, eye color, face paint style, and face mold.  In fact, each doll has two unique face molds because of the flustered face plates.  Furthermore, there are three different body types in the group, even though the petite body is very similar to the tall body.  And if that wasn't enough, for each individual character, there are three different variations of face paint and outfit that can be found.  That's a huge amount of variety for a play line doll that costs under $20.

There are some things that all of these doll have in common, too, and I'll take a moment to discuss those.  First of all, every single doll that I opened has misaligned eyes.  And some of the wonkiness is really bad.  The unfortunate thing about this flaw is that, because of the secondary face plate, it's hard to check the eye position when the doll is in her box.  The fact that every doll has the same eye issue (the left eye is set too high) makes me wonder what was going on during the manufacturing process.  Another unfortunate thing that all of the dolls have in common is that their neck and wrist articulation is limited, and the wrist joint is fragile.  When I was posing Alyssa, her hand started to fall out, and the thin wrist peg was put under a lot of stress.  I also found the earrings universally difficult to manage.  Not only are the ear holes sloppy, but the earring pegs are fragile and difficult to push into the ear.  The last critique that I have for all of the dolls is that their clothing is very simple.  Perhaps some of the other outfit variations would have been more interesting, but the clothing I got--with the exception of Crystal's rainbow dress--is unremarkable, with basic designs and generic fabrics.

The FailFix dolls share a lot of good qualities, too.  Even though the eyes are set poorly, they are bright, pretty, and have a good color variety.  The face paint is also vibrant and fun, with a mix of matte and shimmering finishes.  None of the dolls that I opened have any noticeable paint defects.  I enjoy all of the face molds to some degree, too--especially the detail in the mouths, but Alyssa stands out because of her quirky smile.  I also really like the hair on these dolls, especially Jenny with her lovely micro braids and Alyssa with her beautiful shade of strawberry blonde.  The hair fiber feels nice and soft (once all of the styling gel is gone!) and holds up to some heat exposure.  Last but not least, all of the bodies have great articulation.  Other than the little things I already mentioned, like the inflexible necks and wrists, the dolls are expressive and fun to pose.

But what makes these dolls special is their makeover feature, and I had a lot of fun with that.  Not only did I enjoy being surprised by the faces and outfits, but I liked the actual process of transforming the dolls.  Brushing out the hair was unexpectedly therapeutic, and I didn't really mind that it slowed down my photo session.  The makeover results were rewarding, too.  I got a laugh out of the highly-detailed silly faces, and appreciated the gravity-defying nature and artistic shapes in the tangled hair, but I was always genuinely surprised and pleased by how lovely the tamed hair and underlaying faces looked.  And of course it's great that the flustered faces can be used again and again; imagine the fun games that kids could have with those expressions!

So what about the harshly-criticized marketing and messaging behind these dolls?  The idea that they put too much pressure on young girls to look perfect?  I never saw any of the FailFix commercials, so I can't speak to those, but I actually feel like, if anything, the outlandish hair and goofy faces take some of the pressure off the idea of a flawless appearance.  The whole concept is very lighthearted and silly.  Most other fashion dolls come with mature, perfectly-placed (often overdone) makeup, with no hint that there was any effort behind it.  These girls show a more real side of life: you can mess up with something, have a giggle about it, and then maybe invite some friends over to help you out.  That seems pretty healthy to me.

12 comments:

  1. These dolls' makeover gimmick and expressive faceplate transformation feature remind me a bit of the Inner Monster dolls--perhaps your review of that would be good to also link in the section discussing removable faces!

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  2. The faces are beautiful, eyes notwithstanding, but I involuntarily winced looking at Alyssa--the dark/shiny blush at her cheekbones reminds me of bruises. I think Jenny is my favorite; the braid transformation was amazing, and I like her open expression.

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  3. MnGrl here. I saw these dolls I believe earlier this year, and poof! They were gone, so I didn’t get a good look at them. That said, I was one of those people not thrilled by the “you have to be fixed” idea. I’m probably too biased having two daughters and four granddaughters and being hypersensitive to beauty-industry pressures. But Emily, you did it again. Now I’m thinking of getting one (yeah, right) just for play. I’ll get back to you on that—and I’m a super sucker for Microbraids!

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  4. It's a pity these were short lived, this has to be one of the most unique doll lines I've ever seen you review- and you've never shied away from the oddballs!

    I agree too, that it's a pity about the uproar. Seeing a doll have a bad day, a goofy expression, and looking like a total disaster makes them so human and relatable, as opposed to the poised perfection you usually get in fashion dolls. It gives a lot of personality too.

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  5. I love KawaiiQTee, the first one I bought was the "evening" look which seems to be rarer, so I immediately ordered another one, assuming the next one would be the less rare daytime or sparkle look and I got daytime. There was also some controversy specifically with the KawaiiQTee doll, the first run of her daytime and sparkle dresses had a graphic on them which was quite clearly Hello Kitty, which Moose was using un-licensed. Monkfish has the QTee doll with the first run dress, which you can see in his review: https://flyingpurplemonkfish.blogspot.com/2020/08/fail-fix-by-moose-toys-kawaii-qtee.html
    The graphic on the dress was quickly changed for all future releases!

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    1. I have bought 3 KawaiiQT (2 for me and 1 for my niece) and I got 2 daytime and 1 sparkle and all 3 had the original artwork. I actually wanted one with the newer artwork, but I never did find it. I also want the night look. But the night one you could tell in the box because you could see the collar a bit peeking over the plastic robe and the stores around me never had that one.

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  6. Oh what a fabulous review, thank you so much Emily! I‘ve never heard of those dolls but they made me laugh so much and I looooove your Alyssa, she has such an adorable face and I love the make up and even her wonky eyes :) She‘s adorbs (haha and now the tricky part follows to get her with the day make up, wish me luck ;)). It‘s also very impressive how they styled the hair. And I love the different bodies :)

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  7. I really like these dolls and I was kind of sad to see them discontinued. I thought their faces were really cute and I love that they all had different body types, skintones, hair and eye colors. The only things I wasn't thrilled with were the surprise element (especially the face, since I couldn't check for messed up makeup on the real face and it made it really had to check for eye wonk, though not impossible) and the aforementioned quality issues. I could also have lived without the massive amount of hair gel these dolls have. I would brush their hair about 5 minutes before giving up and using shampoo to wash it all out, followed by a hot water rinse. I did manage to find at least one of each girl (except for @Dance.Stylz because no stores in my area ever got her and I didn't want to order online because of the eye wonk) who looked good in the end, but I still really wish I would have found the night version of KawaiiQT as well as the newer version of her dress since mine has the original day version. KawaiiQT and PrettyArtee are my favorites overall.

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  8. Great review, Emily! I love that you looked at so many of the dolls, as I never knew they had different body types! When I first saw these dolls I thought they were cute, and the execution of the make-over gimmick immediately struck me as quite original and well-executed. I can see where the criticism on these dolls is coming from, but I think I would have absolutely loved them as a kid and I doubt whether they would've made me feel insecure in any type of way (other people caused that problem for me, never any dolls I played with, lmao). I do think the clothes could've been of slightly higher quality, the articulation could've been a bit better and the ''fixed'' make-up on some of the dolls is just a bit too heavy for my taste (Alyssa is pretty, but the blush is a bit much; I prefer Marnie and Jenny). I think a lot of the issues could've been fixed if this doll line had gotten a bit more time, but like Mermaid High, the stiff competition from MGA probably made it hard for this brand to really be competitive, especially with the criticism from parents putting Moose Toys in a difficult position. Anyway, I think this line stands out enough to get a nice spot in the doll line history book, and your review definitely contributed to that! I'm also excited to read that you might be reviewing the Glo-Up girls. The first series didn't really catch my attention, but I find Rose from series 2 super pretty. It seems they're not being sold over here but I am very curious to see what you think of them regardless, especially because they made some odd choices with their articulation.

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  9. Alyssa next to Liv would be a great little sister - or even daughter! Liv legit looks like her mom in that picture. They'd be great to play with together.

    I also think the idea is fun, the variety is great, and those stressed-out faces (including the box cartoons) are hilarious. It's eyeroll-worthy to me that *this* brand got targeted for its marketing to the point of being discontinued, when how many doll lines have we seen that racially-profile the characters' interests and/or put too much emphasis on beauty and looks? The boxes are way too busy and the characters' names are ridiculous, but I don't see the "makeover" theme as bad. I mean, shoot, if you want to talk about commercialism and an overemphasis on fashion and looks being promoted by a doll line, we need only go back to good old Rainbow High. 18" dolls are my thing, so I notice a lot about the themes the dolls are given and their diversity (or lack thereof) and I gotta say, there are very few dolls that get it "right". (Luciana Vega is the only American Girl character whose interests center on science, for instance... while they've had several with dance, music, cooking, travel, and sports themes. In fact... pretty much *all* of their dolls, barring the historical ones, fall into one of those five boxes.) The Journey Girls have made the Black character, Chavonne, the musical one, and AG's Melody has a music theme - does that count as racial stereotyping? So far the only doll line that's really impressed me with their character blurbs is Adora; each of their dolls comes with a little index card describing the character's interests and personality, and most of them have many traits that don't all fall into one box, like a real child's. I understand the marketing utility of distilling each character down to a single trait - "music", "cooking", "travel", "sports", etc. - but if they're realy looking to capture a nuanced character, retailers should create character profiles that reflect the fact that people can like more than one thing.

    Wuff, sorry, that's a soap-box-worthy speech. I'm just a bit irked that such a fun idea as these FailFix dolls got shot down for something I'd say almost every doll line is guilty of to greater or lesser extent. I immediately went and looked up pictures of all of them, much like I did with Rainbox High, and I can't not laugh at the girls with their shoes stuck in their hair. (How *did* that happen, anyhow?) Ah, well, maybe someday another manufacturer will steal the idea and this time it won't get cancelled.

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  10. I really dislike dolls with inset eyes. But, hey, in the end, I'm not the core demographic for them. Glad y'all enjoy em. :)

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