Thursday, March 16, 2023

Spring Break with Lena: Lori Dolls by Battat

Are you ready for another day of virtual spring break with me and Lena?  I hope so!  The Lori dolls that we'll be talking about today feel a bit like old friends.  I reviewed these dolls back in 2014 before they were given the Lori name, and then again in 2015.  They made some other brief appearances over the years, too, most notably in a random post about Our Generation accessories.  The thing about old friends, though, is that sometimes you forget to check in for a while and things change!

One of the things that has changed about the Lori brand, at least where I live, is that they aren't sold in Target stores anymore--just online.  In fact, the online selection at Target is pretty minimal, and Amazon appears to be the primary retailer now.  This is too bad, because I always found the Lori characters to be an appealing, affordable option to browse in the toy aisle.

But what about the dolls themselves?  Let's take a look:

Jessa's Camp Set Lori doll by Battat, $16.95.
But first, we should probably see how Lena is doing:

I'm feeling tired and thirsty today, Emily.
I'm sorry to hear that, Lena!  I might have the perfect guest for you, though.  Her name is Jessa:

Hi Jessa.  Forgive me if I don't get up.  I'm parched and weak.
Luckily, one of Jessa's accessories is a rolling beverage cooler!  She quickly came to Lena's rescue with a cold drink:

I like this girl.  Emily, do your whole introduction thing while I re-hydrate.
I think Lena got too much sun yesterday, so I'll be doing a lot of the heavy lifting today.  But that's okay, of course, because I love to chat about dolls!

Since I have some extra time while Lena recuperates, I'm going to shift gears here for a minute and show you a completely different Lori doll.  But don't worry, I'll get back to redheaded Jessa and her cooler in a little bit.

The doll I want to show you first is a newer release of a doll that I reviewed back in 2017.  I thought it might be fun to compare two versions of the same character.  These two are very similar, though, so it could easily get confusing!  I'll try to be good about labeling all of the pictures so you always know who's who.

I grabbed this picture of the older version of the doll from my 2017 review:

Alyssa and Indyana from 2017.
Do you remember her?  Her name is Ilyssa, and she came with a Boston terrier-type dog named Indyana.  

There's an equivalent doll available now.  She's also named Ilyssa, but she comes in a closed-face cardboard box...and for some reason her dog's name has been changed to Indigo (which is a lot easier to type than Indyana!):

Ilyssa and Indigo from 2022.
The two dolls look almost identical, don't they?  But there are some important differences that I want to show you.

I wasn't great at recording prices back in 2017, but the basic dolls used to cost somewhere around $12, and dolls with some small accessories (like dogs) were more like $16.  The new Ilyssa and Indigo cost me just over $9 on Amazon.  Maybe the simpler packaging plays a role in the lower price?  Or maybe it's just Amazon.

The new box might be plain in its construction, but it's decorated nicely.  There's a cute photo of Ilyssa and Indigo, and a little blurb at the top:

The text is mostly generic information about Ilyssa, but it mentions that she lives in a big city:

De-boxing everything was super-easy.  I just opened the top of the box and the contents slid out--protected by plastic bags:

Here's what was in the box:

2022 Ilyssa and her accessories.
The number and type of accessory are the same as what accompanied the 2017 doll.  

Here's another photo from my earlier review so that you can see for yourself:

2017 Ilyssa and her accessories (the glasses are on top of her head).
The new version of the bag is a little nicer--or at least a little shinier--than the old one:

The design is simple, but the imitation leather is a pretty shade of blue:

And the bag opens, so it could hold a few small items:

Ilyssa also comes with her heart-shaped glasses (with real plastic lenses!):

And there's a purple rope leash for Indigo:

Speaking of Indigo, she hasn't changed much since 2017:

Still startled.
She still doesn't look much like a Boston terrier to me:

And she still needs a nail trim!

Maybe the only thing that's changed is that I have a better camera now than I did in 2017, so Indigo looks less blurry than Indyana:

Indigo, 2022.
Indyana, 2017.
I couldn't figure out how to get the loops on Indigo's leash to work (the knots kept coming untied) so I set it aside for the time being.

Here's the new Ilyssa:

2022 Ilyssa.
She comes in the exact same outfit that we saw in 2017, but her hair is much longer!

She also has a new face mold:

New Lori doll face mold.
Here's a reminder of the old face mold:

Old Lori doll face mold.
I really like the new mold.  It looks like a shrunken-down version of the current Our Generation head that Lurkins talked to us about.  The full lips and shapelier nose are pretty, and I think there's been more effort in the face-up, too, with those detailed eyebrows and curved lashes:

The eyebrows are off-set, though.
From what I can see, most of the new Lori dolls have the same face as Ilyssa, but a few of them are still using the old face.  It's nice to have a bit of diversity, even if it's only as the old faces are being phased out.

I mentioned that Ilyssa's outfit is unchanged from 2017, but I'll show you the individual pieces quickly.  Here's the fur vest:

The construction looks sturdy, and I like the blue imitation leather accents:

Underneath the vest, Ilyssa is wearing a grey, long-sleeved jersey knit tee:

This closes in back with velcro:

And the construction is similar to that of the vest: 

Ilyssa's stretchy purple leggings have an elastic waistband that makes them easy to get on and off:

And her mustard-colored loafer shoes are quite simple, except for the coating of gold glitter:

Turquoise Ann would not approve!
Oh, looks like Lena is perking up!  That's good news.  Thanks for chiming in, Lena.  You're just in time, too, because you'll want to see Ilyssa's body.

So, ah, there's been a pretty big change in the Lori doll bodies.

Wait for it...

Sponge Bob Square Body!
Yep.  Lena's not wrong.  The new bodies are made out of vinyl, which I think is a good thing, but the vinyl looks like it's been flattened by a steam roller.

Check out the side view:

Wait, where'd her torso go?
I know, right?  That wide torso practically disappears in profile.  

She almost looks normal from the side but then she turns her back to us and BAM!

Emily, she looks like a Pop-Tart.
There's basically no contouring here.  It's as close to a straight-up rectangle as I've ever seen on a doll body.  Also, the boxy torso make the arms stick out from the body too much and the legs are set way too far apart.  Like way too far.

I mean, it's hard to say that the new body is worse than some of the lopsided fabric bodies on the older generation of Lori dolls, like this one:

I'll say it: the new body is worse.
You're probably right, Lena, but I'm just trying to express that I understand why Battat might have been looking for a new design.

It's almost like somebody took a flat, unstuffed fabric body from an older Lori doll and used that as the template for the vinyl body.  Maybe they were trying to replicate the look of a fabric body?  I don't know, but the whole thing makes me shake my head...and giggle quite a bit.

Needless to say, I prefer the older bodies, and I gather Lena agrees.

The new bodies have five simple points of articulation, so Ilyssa can turn her head from side to side, but she can't look up or down:  

She can also raise her arms, but they can't hinge away from her body:

They're already pretty far away from her body.
Her legs spin around at the hip, so she can do front-to-back splits, but check out the strange angle of her back leg!

That looks really uncomfortable!
And when she sits on the ground, she's basically forced into nearly-full side-to-side splits:

How's she gonna sit in a chair??
Ilyssa is about the same height as dolls like New York Doll Collection or American Girl minis, although her torso shape and limb position are quite different!

From left: New York Doll Collection mini, Lori doll, American Girl mini.
I wasn't too surprised to see that Molly can wear Alyssa's clothes, since Ilyssa appears to have the larger proportions:

She looks so cute in that outfit!
The shoes and the heart-shaped glasses even fit!

But I was surprised to see that Ilyssa can wear Molly's outfit!

That's not very flattering, though, let's be honest.
I guess even though Alyssa's torso is wider than Molly's in one dimension, it's narrower in the other, so the surface area comes out about the same?

Unfortunately, American Girl shoes do not fit Ilyssa:

Ilyssa can also wear the New York Doll Collection dress (and shoes), and they look quite nice on her!

That's a good dress style for her.
Before I redressed Ilyssa in her original outfit, I decided to take down her long braid and inspect her hair:

The hair feels nice, and it's quite thick:

That is a LOT of hair for a six-inch girl.
The rooting density is good, too:

The only problem with the hair is that because it's so long, and because of the wavy texture, it can look a little messy.

Here's Ilyssa back in her original outfit with her hair left down:

Why didn't they update the outfit?  Who's still wearing clothes from 2017?
Um, I might still be wearing clothes from 2017, Lena.  I'll admit that the fur vest is a bit odd, though.

As I was posing Ilyssa with Indigo...

I was reminded of a photo that I took in 2017 of old Ilyssa and Indyana:

Ilyssa and Indyana from 2017.
So I tried to recreate that photo with the new dolls!

Ilyssa and Indigo from 2022.
Here are all of the changes that I've noticed between these two dolls...and whether I think they're bad or good:

1. New face mold: I think this is a very good change.  The new face is lovely, and has more realistic detail than the older face.  Also, as long as the old face sticks around, we have some face mold diversity in this brand for the first time.

2. Better face paint: definitely a good change.  Ilyssa's face paint is very nice.

3. Longer hair: I think this is a bad change.  The hair feels good, but there's so much of it that it's hard to style and can look messy and overpowering.

4. New body: I like the idea of vinyl, but the new body shape is so ridiculous that I have to declare this a bad change.  It's very hard to find clothing that flatters Ilyssa.

5. Cheaper price!  Obviously, that's good.  And I like the simple cardboard packaging, too, although that's not typical of all current Lori products--especially the more deluxe sets.

Speaking of deluxe sets, a lot of the Lori products that are available on Amazon right now include some larger accessories, like Cornelia's kitchen set:

Should've come with a Pop-Tart.
Or Thomas' scooter set (yes, there's a boy!):

These sets cost $16.95--so about as much as Ilyanna and Indyana cost six years ago.

I wanted to look at one of these deluxe sets today, too.  And Jessa, with her red hair and camping accessories, was so cute that she won a trip with me and Lena to the tropics.:

Jessa's Camp Set, $16.99.
It's funny because all of the official advertising for this set calls it Jessa's Camp Set:

But the box clearly says Jenna's Camp Set:

I already called her Jessa to her face!  We need to stick with that.
The back of the box has a photo of Jessa and the same blurb that we saw on Alyssa's box:

I guess they all live in the same big city.
Jessa came with her big drink cooler and a lot of small camping-themed accessories:

I'm getting that eating is a big focus for Jessa when she camps.
There's a small lantern:

The handle on this lantern moves, but the chamber does not light up:

There's also a compass, in case Jessa gets lost:

The compass has a needle enclosed within clear plastic, but the details look a bit sloppy up close:

If the compass fails, which it surely will, Jessa also has a map:

Why do you have to run around in a circle two times on that path?
But then all of her other accessories are food and drink.

There's a thermos and two soda cans:

Yeah, I drank most of those already.
The paper coverings on the soda cans are not very secure, and one of them was falling off right out of the box:

It still tasted good.
There's some popcorn in a foil popper:

The detail here is good and brings back fond memories!

Why didn't she bring the popcorn to St. John?
There are two marshmallow skewers:

And a big cheeseburger!

Adou would love that!
The burger has good detail and looks yummy!

Then of course the last accessory is the large drink cooler:

My best friend.
Lena loves this because it brought her some cool refreshment when she needed it, but I find it to be an odd accessory for camping.  A tent or a backpack would have felt more obvious to me.

I guess this is how Jessa transports all of her food?

The top of the cooler can hold up to four drinks:

The lid even opens, for more storage inside!

My favorite detail is the layer of plastic ice cubes that line the bottom of the cooler:

Now I'm getting thirsty!

Hands off, Emily!  It's mine.
Overall, the accessories are fun, but the quality is not consistent.  The drink cooler is sturdy and detailed, but some of the smaller items feel cheap.  Also, while the dolls themselves are well-suited to younger children, the little accessories make the sets less safe.

Jessa herself comes wearing several layers of clothing--perhaps to try and conceal her odd body shape:

Another fur vest?
She has a dress, a fur vest, and a big pink handkerchief tied around her neck.

The handkerchief comes stitched into place, and once the thread is cut, it's hard to drape this back around Jessa's neck:

The brown fur vest is stitched to the underlaying skirt and also had to be cut off:

Under the vest Jessa is wearing a black and white checkered dress:

Now she looks ready for the tropics!
And on her feet she's wearing pink hiking boots with molded (but no painted) details:

Those will be perfect for exploring the island.
Jessa's bright red hair is silky and feels great--I also love the color!  There's a rooted side part on one side and straight part down the back.  I appreciate that her hair is shorter than Ilyssa's, too.  It's much easier to manage and looks good more often than not.

Jessa has the same detailed face paint that we saw on Ilyssa, with the addition of eight little freckles!

I like how both of the dolls that I bought have nice, natural colors in their lips and eyebrows:

And Jessa's inset eyes are fairly even (the left eye might be slightly wonky?) and they look bright and clear.

For better or for worse, Jessa has the same body as Ilyssa:

Why are you showing this again, Emily?
And the dress does an okay, but not perfect, job of hiding the body's square shape.

Does it, though?
Jessa didn't even bother to bring her vest or handkerchief to St John since she knew it would be warm, but thank goodness she brought her cooler!

Even after drinking both of the sodas, Lena had her eye on the thermos:

Hey, Jessa, why don't you go get some pictures with Emily and I'll just clean up here...
Jessa wanted me to take her picture on the deck, first, because she thought that the color of the wood went nicely with her hair:

She has really beautiful hair.

But then she wanted to explore the grounds of the house and look for cool plants.  As an avid camper, she's really interested in vegetation.

Her favorite plants were the spiky succulents!

Be careful, Jessa!
Some of them appeared to have long aerial roots--like an air plant:

But the most impressive was this huge spiky-leafed century plant!

Jessa was so amazed that she could stand on the century plant's large, solid leaves, but I told her she had to be really gentle and walk carefully.

Century plants don't live for a hundred years, as their name might suggest; they live for a few decades.  But the sad thing is that these plants only flower once--towards the very end of their life.

They go out with a bang, I guess.
After we'd inspected all of the most interesting plants, Jessa went back to spend the rest of the afternoon with Lena, who seems mostly recovered from her morning slump:

I like visitors who bring drinks!
Me too, Lena.  Me too.

It was fun to get an updated look at the Lori dolls, and I'd like to thank Katrina for alerting me to the fact that the bodies are different now.  I might never had re-visited this brand otherwise.

There have been a few good changes to the Lori dolls over the past six years.  It's great that there's a new face mold in the mix now, and I love the new face paint style, with its natural colors and detailed eyebrows.  Both Ilyssa and Jessa have appealing faces, highlighted by lovely inset eyes.  Another good change in the brand is that the bodies are all vinyl.  This makes the dolls easy to clean and beach-friendly.  It's also great that despite the changes and the passage of time, the price of these dolls has stayed mostly constant--if not decreased slightly.

I'm not excited about all of the changes to the Lori brand, though. Namely, I think that the shape of the new torso is comically boxy, with literally no rounded contours; it doesn't match the level of realism in the faces.  Furthermore, the width of the body forces the arms and legs to be set way too far apart.  I wouldn't mind so much if the body shape could be concealed by clothing, but the opposite is true: the clothing can't disguise the underlying body or the strange set of the limbs, and so outfits often look bulky or ill-fitting.  The new torso is especially frustrating to me because these dolls could have been amazing, but that rectangular body is off-putting.

Another side-effect of the vinyl torso is that the new Lori dolls feel less articulated than the older ones.  The simple rotation in the neck and limbs is stilted without the additional flexibility of a pliable cloth torso.

There are still a lot of good things about Lori dolls that have remained constant since I first reviewed this brand in 2014.  They come in eco-conscious packaging (like most Battat products), they are a practical size, they have youthful, natural faces with realistic eyes, they have great-looking (and great-feeling) hair, and they come with a range of clothing and accessories that align with the interests and habits of regular kids....perhaps with a bit too much focus on fake fur.  Best of all, I find these little ones to be wholesome, durable companions who are great for trips, well-suited to young children, and, if you're really lucky, might even bring you a cool drink on a hot or stressful day.


  1. These new dolls have one consolation--their body sculpts aren't nearly as bad as the Family Corners men!

    1. I still have flashbacks to the hotdog bun groin lol

    2. Oh dear, I thought I purged that from my memory! - Lauren

  2. It still amazes me what some toy companies are able to do with such tiny dolls. The Lori dolls are very cute, and the new face mold is beautiful. The details and sculpt are so impressive, if you were to only look at a photo of their faces you wouldn't be able to guess the scale so quickly! The SpongeBob remark made me laugh, but it's really a shame that they paired those odd bodies with such lovely faces and hair. I wonder what their heads would look like on a different body, though I can imagine it's a difficult swap with such little dolls.

    Great outdoor pictures as always!

  3. In other news, mobile view looks great! I zoomed into the header and it scales up nicely. I'm so glad you found a solution.

  4. The header is fixed!! Yay!! Now I can truly appreciate its beauty. On another note, Lena has been reminding me of someone all week and now I finally know who! Iko! A fashionable android from the series, the Lunar Chronicles by Marrisa Meyer. I can always imagine Iko saying Lena’s lines and Lena saying Iko’s lines. A really amazing series, I encourage you to pick it up! I think Lena would like Iko too 🙃 since they’re so similar!

  5. Those chonky bodies have held me back from purchasing any of the Lori dolls since they switched to vinyl. (Which I'm sure is why they're cheaper/the same cost, since the switch was almost certainly as a cost-cutting measure, like it was with American Girl.) It's funny because the vinyl AG minis have much more slender bodied than the cloth ones, but somehow the Lori vinyl body is THICKER than the cloth one? I figured they wanted to make sure the new dolls could still share clothes with the old dolls but... this is kind of ridiculous. It's especially a bummer because the new faces are very cute; I think the new mold looks great in the tiny scale. But those bodies! The Pop-tart analogy is not wrong.

  6. Their faces are adorable! But I agree, their new body sculpts look a bit silly...

  7. Oh dear, that rectangular torso made me giggle. Such a cute doll line otherwise, the accessories are so nice! Although I think I prefer the old face mold. There's just something about it that looks a bit more unique and serene to me.

  8. Just out of curiosity, I half-counted (I was multitasking on the phone) and you have over 70 patrons!!! WHOO HOO!!!!!!--MnGrl

  9. Now a doll comment--just out of curiosity, I went to Amazon and checked out the Lori!! I can't believe how many there are and all the accessories! And furniture! Since there are a lot of 6" dolls on the market, it is fun to have all that stuff. A while back I bought a couple of the pink scooters with the side car when they were like 7$, and I was very pleased. They are constructed well, make cool sounds and the lights work! I'll have to check the offerings a little more, because, well, you know, I need more dolls. It STILL is winter in Minnesota and I'm trying not to go shack-wacky. And one more thing....I don't miss that zip-tied bulky fabric neck at all. --MNGrl

  10. I love the new faces but that body...oh dear. Even your Sponge Bob comment didn't prepare me and I actually laughed out loud at the picture. Now I'm wondering if it's possible to swap heads?

    I would have really loved all the Lori playsets and accessories as a kid. It's like a perfect blend between Barbie and Playmobil.

  11. I jumped with joy when I saw this review posted, I have a huge Lori doll collection and was desperate to see you react to the new body. A friend of mine said they are "built like a fridge" and I can never unhear it! Luckily I knew the body change was coming and I bought up lots of body donors with the old style, a little bit of frankensteining and now my favourite new release faces have old bodies! I also discovered you can really easily eye swap these dolls, which has led to me having a cupboard full of both body donors AND eye donors... Oops! -Cink

  12. The new faces are gorgeous, I never would have guessed the scale. Even without the paint app, that sculpt is beautiful. The accessories too, i'd have lost my mind over all these wonderful tiny things, especially as a kid. The ice in the cooler? Amazing.

    But that body. Oh no. Hopefully they rectify that in future, I've never seen anything like it. Whole team of hockey players out here!

  13. I find it interesting that they wanted a new design for the body and went for "Spongebob cosplaying as Lori".