Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Spring Break with Lena: Cutie Reveal Chelsea by Mattel

Welcome back!  First things first, I have a quick question to ask: for those of you who read the blog on your phones, how terrible is the new layout?  I haven't been able to find a way to make the new header work with mobile view, so when you see the blog on your phone, you're seeing the laptop view...but small.  I can usually hack my way into getting Blogger to do what I want, but this time I'm stumped.  So I need to figure out which is worse: mobile view with a tiny, pixelated header, or laptop view with smaller text.  Thank you for any input.

But enough about that!  As promised, Lena and I are back for the second day of our spring break celebration!  As some of you know, we visited the beautiful island of St. John back in February, and this week we're going to share four mini reviews from that trip with you!

Our first guest in St. John was the Cutie Reveal Chelsea toucan by Mattel:

Cutie Reveal Chelsea toucan by Mattel, $17.99.

Lena's favorite part about the St. John trip was that the house we rented has a beautiful pool.  While my husband and I spent our days exploring the island and snorkeling (and occasionally watching mermaids...), Lena spent almost every minute of her time at the pool:

Why would I go anywhere else?
As long as she had her chair and her sunglasses, she was happy:

This is the life.
So this pool will be Lena's home base for the week as she entertains a few guests:

Hi everyone, welcome to St. John!
Lena wasn't really expecting to have a bird for her first guest, but she tried to roll with it:

Well, hey!  Look at you.  You are very...colorful.
I think she was a bit unsure about how to interact with a bird, so she turned to me for help:

Um, Emily, do you mind telling everyone a little bit about our feathery guest?
No problem, Lena!

Mattel's Barbie-sized Cutie Reveal dolls have been around since 2022, but the smaller Chelsea characters are brand new.  The whole idea with this line is that the dolls come concealed inside of fuzzy animal suits, so you're basically getting a stuffed animal and a doll in one...

...but don't tell Lena that!  I don't want her to know that there's a girl inside of the toucan suit.  Let her think she's chatting with a bird for now.

All of the Cutie Reveal characters come packaged inside cardboard tubes with colorful decorations:

The advertising claims that there are 7 surprises in this set:

The surprises are things like little color change features, a hidden outfit, and what the actual doll looks like!

There are four different characters in this series: an elephant, a tiger, a monkey, and a toucan.  These animal characters are shown alongside drawings of the (shhh!) hidden dolls:

The top and bottom of the tube are made out of plastic, and the top has a heart-shaped hole cut into it so that you can reach in and pet the toucan's fuzzy head:

The packaging is refreshingly simple to deal with: you just remove the plastic lid and everything tumbles out!

In addition to the fuzzy toucan, there are three paper surprise bags and a collector's sheet:

The collector's sheet has graphic renderings of the four characters on one side:

And some instructions on the other side:

I was eager to see what was inside of the three surprise bags!

These held a pet bird, a rainbow skirt, and a pair of pink shoes:

But the Chelsea toucan (who I named Tilly) certainly has no use for a skirt and some shoes!  Or that's what we'll tell Lena, anyway.  

Who needs clothing when you already have bright, fuzzy plumage:

Tilly's plush body is mostly purple, with some yellow accents on the face and belly.  There's also a rainbow sprinkle pattern on the purple fabric that makes it extra fun:

Tilly has a half-circle wing cape stretched between her arms, and this looks plain from the back, but much better from the front:

Lena was impressed with Tilly's bright plumage and thought it would look great against the island scenery:

Hey, Tilly, why don't you explore around and get some island portraits?
Tilly was happy to oblige!  She flew off to see what scenery she could find:

The vegetation is so impressive in this area.  Some of the leaves are big enough for a small bird to land on!

Tilly found some colorful rocks to sit on, too:

But her favorite thing was to climb up the spindly trees...

And then fly from branch to branch!

Be careful, Tilly!
But all of that flying made her hot, so she decided to take off her toucan suit and go back to the pool:

Oh, hi!  Is it time for a new guest already?  I was just chatting with a toucan.
But then Tilly explained that she is the toucan!

Eeek!  What do you mean?  What happened to your feathers and beak?!  And your wings!
Emily, you have some explaining to do.
Haha!  Sorry, Lena.  Let's go back and look at how Tilly's costume comes off.

On her hands, she was wearing yellow vinyl mittens with molded hair (feathers?) on them:

The mittens aren't very bird-like, but they conceal Tilly's hands nicely.

The wing cape has elastic loops on each side that slide over Tilly's wrists

The vinyl covers on Tilly's feet are more avian than the mittens, with three toes and molded feather patterns:

Those are more like Big Bird feet than toucan feet, though...

Fun fact: toucans actually have four toes, two pointing forwards and two pointing backwards.  This offers them a lot of stability when they're moving through tree branches:

Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) in Papaya Tree (Carica papaya) (28997424215)
That beak doesn't look anything like Tilly's, Emily.
I know, but there are different kinds of toucan, and some have more colorful bills than others:

Keel-billed Toucan -41 100- (35069613880)
Okay, I guess that makes sense.
Underneath her foot covers, Tilly has bright blue legs and feet:

The colorful legs look great with the toucan theme, but I wish Tilly had skin-colored legs with tights instead, since that would make her much more versatile.

The toucan head is partially stuffed and feels nice and soft--like a plushie head.  It lifts off easily:

There's a snug-fitting, lined cavity where Tilly's head fits:

No wonder she got hot!
The head has a colorful beak and black embroidered eyes with eyelashes and white star reflective marks:

Toucans don't have eyelashes.
Lena is correct that toucans don't have eyelashes, but some birds, like the secretary bird, have modified feathers that look a lot like lashes!

Very chic!
And now, finally, we get to see Tilly's face!

She's really cute, with huge brown eyes and little green stars on her cheeks (that I think are only supposed to appear when its cold):

If you look really closely, you can see that Tilly's facial screening is highly pixelated.  It's especially noticeable on her mouth, where it looks like she's wearing shimmery pink lipstick:

Isn't she too young for lipstick like that?
From a distance, her face looks fine.

Tilly's hair came tucked into the back of her toucan suit, but you can see that it's black with neon blue and purple highlights:

Underneath the toucan suit, Tilly has a pink plastic body that looks like a leotard.  There's a small rainbow design on the front:

The really surprising thing to me about Tilly is that she has nine points of articulation!  This is extremely uncommon; most Chelsea dolls only have five simple rotating joints (neck, shoulders, hips).

Over the past year, I've noticed a few other Chelsea dolls that have better-than-usual articulation, like this riding Chelsea with articulated knees: 

Barbie Club Chelsea with horse, $16.99.
Or the wheelchair Chelseas--who also have articulated knees:

Barbie Chelsea with wheelchair, $16.99.
But I don't know of any other Chelsea dolls with articulated elbows!

Tilly's nine joints allow her to do all of the things that other Chelsea dolls can do--like full front-to-back splits:

But the way Tilly's arms are held out to the sides in that previous picture is not something most Chelsea dolls can do!

She can also move her legs from side-to-side at the hip, and she can bend her elbows to about 120 degrees:

Her knees bend nicely so that she can sit in a chair:

And she can even kneel on one knee (with a bit of support):

Her lower legs have rotation, too, so she can turn her feet inwards and outwards:

She's by far the best-articulated Chelsea doll I've ever seen, which makes me wish even harder that she had a more versatile body--without permanent bird legs.

Tilly has some copyright marks on her back, but they're mostly molded, not painted, so they're well camouflaged:

The skirt and shoes that were in the surprise bags fit well and are easy to use:

Tilly's last accessory is her pet bird.  This little one is cute, but pretty basic:

The bird does not have any moving parts, but her eyes are open when they're cold (like in my basement), and closed when they get warm:

I'm not likely to do any more Cutie Reveal reviews after this one, so I figured I should take the opportunity to show you one of the full-sized dolls.

There have been five waves of Barbie-sized Cutie Reveal dolls at this point, which is a lot considering that the brand has only been around for a year!

This is the first wave:

I want to be friends with that panda girl.
Here's the second wave:

Oh, Emily, you like unicorns!  And sloths...and llamas!
The third wave is winter-themed and called the Snowflake series:

Grey hair is a bold, classy move.
This is the Jungle group of wave 4:

Is that Tilly's mom?
And the fifth wave has not been released yet, but will include a lion, a lamb, a poodle, and a bear:

The dolls all cost $24.99, but I've seen them on some pretty great sales--sometimes even under $15.

I'm going to open the unicorn, which is my favorite character from wave 2:

I knew you were going to pick that one.
The packaging is very similar to the Chelsea wave packaging, with a cardboard tube advertising lots of surprises, and showing drawings of all four characters:

The extra surprises here seem to involve different accessories and something about the jacket:

The unicorn came out of her box looking a little bent...but incredibly endearing:

That head tilt is everything.
Similar to Tilly, the unicorn comes with a collector's sheet and four surprise bags:

There's an extra surprise bag with these larger dolls:

Inside the bags I found a silver skirt (that I think Lena would like), a comb, a pet unicorn, a headband, and some shoes (that I don't think Lena would like):

I'm totally stealing that skirt.
The unicorn is mint green and has sleepy eyes with a pink heart underneath:

Tilly's toucan is unarticulated, but this little unicorn can move her head:

The unicorn's eyes are designed to open when cold water is applied to them, but I was only able to get this to work by applying an ice cube directly to the eye.  It's pretty fun!

It's fun for you to poke a unicorn in the eye with ice??
It felt more like coloring in the eye with an ice pen, or something like that.  Does that sound better?  Anyway, the eyes look more open in person than they do in my picture.  It's a cute little feature.

Let's take a look at the actual doll for a minute:

I think the unicorn costume is really effective.  It's super-soft, colorful, and the features are endearing.  These costumes also make the dolls feel heavier than a regular Barbie doll in my hands, which is satisfying. 

But come on, look at this face!

Aw, she's so cute!  Let's name her Sugar Cloud!
Hm.  But Lena, do you think the girl in the costume would want a name like Sugar Cloud?  Maybe we could go with something more mainstream.  Like maybe Rosalind, which means "gentle horse?"

Rosalind's unicorn head and pants pull straight off, but her jacket has a velcro seam in back:

She has mint green soft vinyl hooves on both her hands...

And her feet!

Let's see what her human face looks like, shall we?  For me this is the only surprise that's really exciting.

The unicorn head stays in place pretty well, but it's also easy to pull off.  You can see that it's held in position by a ring of stretchy knit fabric that encircles the doll's neck:

All I can think about when I look at the Cutie Reveal heads is sport mascots.  But I doubt any real teams have a unicorn theme.

I don't know, Emily, I think you should look that up.
Okay, sure enough.  I found a high school in Texas that has a unicorn as a mascot, and I'm so jealous!  My school spirit would have been off the charts in high school if I'd had a unicorn mascot.

Anyway, we were about to get a look at Rosalind's face!  Here it is:

Can we see that face a little closer, Emily?
Eek!! She looks possessed!
Hm.  She's pretty cute, but her hair is a huge mess, there's something white stuck to her lip (drool?), and her eyes look funny.  I also think she has a color change dot on her nose, which I had no desire to activate.  Does anybody want a doll with an intentional spot on her nose?  Basically, it was a less-than-amazing reveal.

I took off the rest of the bulky unicorn clothes:

And discovered that the jacket is reversible!  And it has a nice cloud pattern inside:

See?  We should have named her Sugar Cloud!
The reversible jacket is a really neat idea, and a fun surprise!

Here's Sugar Cloud Rosalind with all traces of unicorn removed:

Is this a good time to remind everyone that I have 22 joints?
She has molded mint green underwear, including a camisole that could double as a tank top.  I also added her matching shoes.

I like her body style, and the molded underwear looks nice, but I could not get her hair under control!  It's really frizzy and sticks out everywhere:

That girl needs a boil wash.
Here's another look at Rosalind's face:

Still freaky.
I'm getting used to her magenta eyes, but I was not able to clean away the white debris (which is probably magical unicorn fuzz) that's stuck to her lips.

I dressed Rosalind in her skirt and unicorn headband.  It's a very simple outfit, but it looks nice:

Good thing she has painted underwear 'cause I'm stealing that skirt.
Like Tilly, Rosalind has nine points of articulation...but this is scant compared to the 22 joints of the Made to Move dolls.  

Her elbow joints flex well, but her knees and hips are limited.  She can't sit in a chair very elegantly:

Are you sure she isn't a Disney Store doll??
The reversible jacket is a really excellent feature, and helps to complete Rosalind's outfit:

The velcro seam even allows the jacket to close nicely.

I like the unicorn version of Rosalind better than the human version, but she's a solid doll overall.

That was a lot of background information!  Sorry for the delay, Lena. How are things going at the pool?

Well, Tilly loves this place even more than I do, I think!
She entertained herself all afternoon while I got to take a nap.
She's a really good swimmer, too.
The heat of the sun helped show off Tilly's color-change feature.  When she's hot, the markings on her face disappear:

I can still see them.
But when she's just been in the cool water, you can see the green stars clearly again:

Lena had a much easier time taking care of Tilly than she did with Adou yesterday!

Just don't forget the sunblock, Lena.

I know, I know.
Lena's vacation was certainly off to a good start at this point, and I was delighted to have finally gotten a closer look at some Cutie Reveal dolls!

I enjoy the Cutie Reveal concept as a whole, and found the animal costumes to be much more impressive and appealing in person than they look in promotional photos.  The heads are soft and sweet, and they make the dolls feel like articulated stuffed animals.  I enjoy the larger dolls' fuzzy, reversible jackets, and  I also appreciate that the costumes conceal the hands and feet--to help complete the animal illusion.  It truly feels like you're getting a stuffed animal and a doll in one set.  The duality of these toys mostly justifies their cost, although I'll admit to feeling some sticker shock when I saw a Chelsea doll priced at almost $20!

I like Tilly better than Rosalind, though.  Part of this is because of their faces.  Tilly has a sweet, generic face that would work for both fantasy and regular games.  Rosalind has nice features, but her magenta eyes (and the color change dot on her nose) make her less versatile.  The biggest difference between these two dolls, however, is their articulation--or at least their articulation relative to similar dolls.  Rosalind's articulation is decent, and certainly better than many of the dolls in the Barbie aisle these days, but it's a far cry from a Made to Move body.  Rosalind can't even sit in a chair very well.  In contrast, Tilly's body is outstanding for a Chelsea doll.  In fact, it's the best-articulated Chelsea body that I've ever seen.  I'm tempted to buy all of the Chelsea Cutie Reveal characters, just because it's the only way to get that body.  The thing that holds me back from spending more money, though, is the permanent clothing.  I really wish that Tilly's legs were flesh-colored and not light blue--it would make her so much more versatile.  I hope Mattel uses the Cutie Reveal body for more mainstream Chelsea releases in the future.

I really enjoy anthropomorphic dolls like Pinkie Cooper, Catwalk Kitties, and of course Monster High.  But those dolls can go too far into the bizarro zone for some collectors and some children.  Cutie Reveal offers a nice alternative.  You can have a human-like animal figure or a regular doll, depending on your mood...or depending on the doll's mood.

In Tilly's case, since Lena had dozed off in her chair yet again, the mood dictated that it was time to transform back into a toucan and fly away home.


  1. For those of us on our phones it is pretty hard when you first open it but with a little bit of zooming in it’s okay, but the new header is beautiful! If you just zoom into the review it takes up the whole screen. Cute review also! Lena is such a great assisant!

    1. Thank you very much for the feedback! It's extremely helpful. And I'll tell Lena that you admire her work. ;D

  2. Thanks for the review!
    New layout is great, and I really like that now I see tags. Time to re-read all Rainbow High reviews!
    And wonderful header you have!

  3. Hello! I’m a long time reader of your blogs. I’m also the person who bought Arya, a My Twin you customized that I adore! For some reason I have a hard time getting my comments to show up, or I’d comment more. I hope this one goes through. I do actually have a very hard time reading the blog with the new layout. I read on my phone and when I zoom in enough to read it, some of the text gets blocked and I have to reconfigure the zoom. I think your new header is lovely, I’m sorry you’re having trouble getting it to work out!

  4. I love the new header, but unfortunately, the text is really small and hard for me to read on the phone, even zooming in. I would probably have to just wait and read it on the computer, which I don’t use as often.

  5. I'm very happy about the sudden abundance of posts, but the new design is something I can't get on board with, no matter how beautiful the logo is. I do all my leisure reading on my phone and the desktop view is really uncomfortable. I like reading all the captions and that requires constant resizing because the caption text is about five times smaller than body text for whatever reason. My default fonts are pretty large, I think the second largest that Android offers, but that only affects main text on a page. If the logo can't be vectorized, I'd still prefer ease of interaction with the text and photos over a moment of scrolling past a pretty logo.

  6. Emily, first of all, this is a great series! I'm enjoying seeing Lena and the guests she meets. Plus y'all's interaction is so entertaining.

    As for the layout, tho: I know yesterday while I was trying to read the new post, it proved difficult and frustrating. Yes, the new header is lovely, but obviously that doesn't help those on mobile, as you of course know, and are trying to remedy.

    Today's new post, however, (for me, at least) looks completely back to normal. It loaded perfectly fine on my phone. The only difference I noted was a change in the background color of the post body. It used to be a nice shade of gray, and now it's white, which looks less appealing, especially when it comes to framing your great photography.

    I was on blogger for seven years, but haven't been active in about a decade, so I can't give any advice on actual tinkering with whatever they're using nowadays in regards to accessing the coding, but as far as I can tell, it looks like you have it mostly smoothed out.

    Best of luck with any fine tuning.

  7. I love this daily series! I can't wait for more! Thank you 💕

  8. The way you manage to pose Lena in the photo series has me cackling. Her body language is so expressive and lifelike, like a real (and really funny) human xD

    I'm very surprised about Chelsea's articulation as well. It makes me wonder why it is so hard for Mattel to add a few more joints to their basic Barbies, though I guess Chelsea's price shows why. Her face is not my favorite (the pixelation doesn't help) but the suit is incredibly, incredibly cute. If I had her, I would probably keep her in the suit the entire time. Imagine having all these tiny animal mascot Chelseas hanging around on shelves and among your other (unsuspecting) dolls. It would be such a funny sight!

    I actually prefer Rosalind's face over Chelsea's, but again, the costume just steals the show! Despite some of the issues like quality control and painted-on/molded outfits, I honestly think this is currently one of the best (and certainly most fun) Barbie playline series Mattel has to offer right now.

    1. By the way, I only read the blog on my laptop so I can't provide much feedback on the phone version. I did look the blog up on my phone just now and the header is very small and pixelated while the post text and pictures are normal. Everything looks great on my laptop, I'm sorry you're having this issue with Blogger!

  9. I have to admit that one of my favorite relaxing pastimes is to lie down and read TBP on my phone... and as nice as the new layout is, it was a bit easier to read before. The captions below the photos are really small now for some reason.

    That said, wow! I love the vibrant photos in this review. Tilly is super cute, but Rosalind's severe eye wonk is unfortunate. The Cutie Reveal line has tempted me for a long time, but unfortunately, they're another series of dolls that retail for a maddening amount in northern Europe. I don't think I ever saw the first wave rabbit and cat in stores, which were my favorites.

  10. I only read this on my phone and as lovely as the header is it’s EXTREMELY frustrating to try to read the teeny text from the laptop version because I have to zoom in which means I have to move the screen as I read which is annoying/distracting.

  11. Ooh this doll idea is amazing! How has no one done this before?

  12. By the way, before you switched it back, I was able to get the revised mobile version to be readable by putting the page into Reader mode. (In iOS safari, it’s the aA button by the url.) Easier than zooming excessively. I will say I prefer your established format and the easy-on-the-eyes gray background color.

    As to these two, they’re pretty cute! I didn’t know either kind of Cutie Reveal had limb articulation. I assumed like those Color Reveal Barbies that they had the bare minimum. Pity about the pixelated faces though, on a surprise doll.

  13. It sounds like it's already been altered, but I read the blog on a Google pixel, and it still looks good to me!

    I really love the concept of this barbie line, nice to know it lives up to its promo images, though the painted on clothing is a bummer in the Chelsea's case, especially when they have her so much extra in terms of articulation. Covering the hands and feet was a good and clever move! And the reversible jacket? What a nice bonus detail!

    I like the inclusion of a little critter matching the costume's design, though I thought they were meant to be stuffed animals. Without seeing them in person, and with mattel's style of animal accessories for Barbie, it can be hard to tell what they intend to be a very stylized real critter, and what's meant to be a toy for the dolls! They're super cute either way though.

  14. Ah yes. The Unicorns are for New Braunfels. There's a big to-do in the local newspapers because they built a second high school (that are going to be the Dragons I believe) And so are changing the elementary and middles schools in that high school's feeder pattern to NOT be Unicorns anymore and some people are really upset!

  15. Hi there. Any chance we could get the cutie reveal dolls beside an assortment of Chelsea's? I am trying to make a fully articulated chelsea with normal skin color body by combining the legs of a wheelchair or horse riding chelsea with the arms of a matching cutie reveal. But I'm having trouble figuring out who has the same skin tone! Anu help is appreciated. I love your blog.

    1. That's a cool idea! I'd love to have a fully-articulated Chelsea. The only ones I have are scoliosis Chelsea, Toucan Tilly from this review, and two Black girls (wheelchair and another one). None of them match. Sorry I can't help more!

  16. Hi Emily! I just wanted to say that the white specks are meant to be there, they are sparkles.