Saturday, April 1, 2023


As an adult, one of the very first play dolls to catch my attention was Spin Master's Liv.  Liv dolls were produced between 2009 and 2012, and have made a lot of appearances here on the blog.  I fell in love with this line because the dolls have great articulation, inset eyes, diverse wardrobes and accessories (including horses!), and a well-designed interchangeable wig system with nice hair fiber.  I still have a large collection of beloved Liv characters in my house, and am always on the lookout for new dolls that remind me of these old favorites.

That's why, when I stumbled upon the SnapStar line during one of my aimless Amazon hunts last summer, I got pretty excited.  At first glance, the SnapStar crew have a lot of similarities to Liv, including inset eyes, good articulation, and interchangeable wigs.  The head shape and face design even bear a striking resemblance to Liv--or they do from a distance, anyway.  

The resemblance to Liv was more than enough to tempt me, but SnapStar dolls also have a photo-editing gimmick that sounded really fun.  The dolls come with a green screen backdrop that can be used in conjunction with a special phone app to create enhanced and altered pictures.  Since I spend all of my time photographing dolls, I was very eager to try out this feature!  In fact, there were so many things that appealed to me about the SnapStar brand, I showed no restraint whatsoever and purchased all of the characters.

#SNAPSTAR Yuki by YULU, $14.99

SnapStar dolls were actually released in 2019 and discontinued that same I'm a little late to the party.  The up-side of my tardiness is that by the time I learned about these dolls, their prices had dropped.  Now, as long as you avoid marked-up offerings on Amazon, you can find the SnapStars for as little as $5.99 on eBay and places like that.  So, purchasing all six of the characters wasn't as expensive as it sounds.

At the time when I was shopping for these dolls, it seemed like Yuki was the hardest character to find, and so I thought that perhaps she had been the most popular.  For that reason, I chose to feature her in this review.

Yuki came in a high-quality cardboard window box with the SnapStar name at the bottom:

You can see that the name should be written "#SNAPSTAR" with a hashtag and all caps, but I didn't want it to feel like I was SHOUTING AT #YOU for this whole review.

The SnapStar Studio app is advertised at the bottom of the box, boasting that it will make new backgrounds "magically" appear:

I can't wait!
One side of the box has a large graphic representation of Yuki...which is great:

She's really cute!
The box art is very appealing and well-done:

Both the character and her outfit look awesome.

The opposite side of the box has drawings of the other five dolls in the series:

They all look amazing.  I especially like Lola (who's "99% unicorn!"), but, spoilers, I found her to be the least attractive doll. I guess 1% makes all the difference:

All of the characters have little catch phrases, and Yuki's is "#TURNUP!"  Which presumably has to do with music, but sounds more like a vegetable.

The back of the box is packed with text and photos, but one photo stands out like a sore thumb:

Look at the doll!  After seeing the beautiful box art, the photo of the actual doll is jarring:

Also, why is she standing like that?
There's a little description of Yuki's personality above her photo.  She loves music, and she writes and records her own songs.  So, basically, she's like Liv Daniela...but with turnips.

Opposite to Yuki's photo, there's a description of the SnapStar Studio app.  It looks like you're meant to photograph the dolls against the green screen, and then the app will substitute different backgrounds.  It even looks like there's a way to change hairstyles and makeup.  I was super excited to try this out!

At the very bottom of the box, there are small photos of all six dolls:

The five other characters are Izzy, who loves the environment and is passionate about recycling (like Liv Hayden!):

Echo, who is the hair and makeup specialist (kinda like Sophie, I guess):

Aspen, the world-traveler (who looks like Liv Sophie):

Dawn, the fashionista (like Alexis):

And Lola, who is always happy and generically wants to change the world for the better:

There were a few playset releases before this line got discontinued, too, like Echo on the red (or pink) carpet:

And Aspen in a photography studio:

I'll look at a few (but not all) of these characters very briefly later in the review, but for now I'll stay focused on Yuki.

The top of Yuki's box lifted off to reveal a molded plastic lid that was helping to hold the smaller accessories in place:

Yuki herself was held inside a white plastic base, posed in the same awkward way that she's shown on the box--with her knees angled towards each other and her hands at her sides:

It's like she's struggling to stand upright.
There were little bits of cut hair all over the white plastic:

Behind the plastic base, I found the folded green screen and a matching green stand:

One nice thing about this de-boxing is that there were absolutely no plastic ties involved!  Yuki was secured to the base with a small clear plastic neck brace:

Here's a closer look:

This is a really clever system.  It was easy to get Yuki out, and also easy to secure her back inside the box--just like new.  I wish other play doll companies would do something similar.

Here's everything that was in the box:

In addition to the green screen and stand, Yuki comes with a small vinyl purse and a phone.

The phone is gross.  It's made out of black plastic and has a sticker with a few app icons, but the sticker was peeling up:

And when I touched the sticker to try and push it back down, the whole thing slid off, leaving behind some goopy, yucky glue:

The purse is star-shaped, with no molded or painted designs:

It does not open:

Yuki comes wearing another accessory: a black headband with two stars sticking up:

The headband is made out of plastic and does not stay in place very well. 

I have to say, I was not very impressed with Yuki when I saw her in person.  Her eyes look buggy and surprised, her face paint is very basic, and her wig is uneven and dry-looking:

She can stand on her own at times, though, which is nice.  

Her posture is slightly odd; you can see in profile that her body tips forwards over her legs:

From this angle I could also see a gap in the wig that exposed some dark scalp:

Here she is from the back:

The gaps in the backs of her boots are hard to ignore:

But her boots are still hard to get off.  The vinyl is very stiff, and every time I tug on the boots, I worry that I'll break her skinny little articulated ankles.

Let's go back and take another look at Yuki's face:

I like the red lip color, and the bit of red above her eyes, but everything is so simplified.  The shape of the head feels funny to me, too, or maybe it's just the super-long, skinny neck that's throwing me off:

And the wig is tragic.  The cut is uneven, especially in the bangs, and there are strands of hair sticking out all over the place.  There were also little bits of hair raining down all over my work table.

I pulled the wig off for a closer look.  Right away I could see another bald patch showing through:

Sure enough, the rooting is sparse, especially at the top of the wig:

The wig attaches to Yuki's head with the same peg mechanism that the Liv dolls use:

I think Yuki looks better without her wig!

She has a molded and painted pixie cut under her wig--just like the Liv girls (and Moxie Teenz) do:

Up close, you can see that she has some detail in her inset irises, two hairlines on each eyebrow, and a smudge in the paint of her simplified upper eyelashes:

Her eyes are also misaligned.
There might be a semi-decent mouth mold underneath those thickly-painted lips.  It almost looks like she was supposed to be smiling?  Hard to tell.  That lower lip is Bratz-level exaggerated:

I'm tempted to repaint this face--or at least remove the lipstick to see what's underneath--but I'm not really invested enough.

From the side, you can see how elongated Yuki's head is.  And her mouth shape is quite bizarre:

Here she is from the back, where you can see some simple molded hair patterns:

And there's a hole in the top of her head to accommodate the wig peg:

I want to take a minute to compare Yuki's head to a Liv Sophie head.  I can't even look at Yuki without thinking of Liv, but the two dolls are quite different.

Here they are side-by-side, followed by a GIF comparing the two:

Looking at them in this context, I feel like the differences are striking.  Here's what I notice:
1. Yuki's eyes are much bigger in proportion to her face.
2. Yuki's eyeballs are too small for her eye sockets.
3. Sophie has much more detail in her eyebrows and eyelashes.
4. While both dolls have large lower lips, Sophie's lip paint fits her mold better, and she has lip lines for added realism.
5. The shape of Yuki's head is more simplistic--like a lemon (or a turnip?).
6. Yuki's neck is extremely skinny compared to Sophie's.
7. You can't tell in the GIF, buy Yuki's head is slightly smaller than Sophie's overall, too.

Here are the two dolls in profile, too, if you're curious:

They're more similar in profile than they are front-on, but there's a big difference in the mouth and jaw.  Yuki's mouth and chin are odd in profile, like her lips have melted downwards on her face.  Kinda like her phone.

I wondered for a fleeting moment when I first got Yuki out of her box if the SnapStar heads were copied from Liv heads.  But they're clearly not.  I adore Sophie's face, and I find Yuki's features difficult to enjoy.

Let's take a look at what Yuki is wearing:

She has a three-piece outfit consisting of a black logo tee, an imitation leather jacket, and a red and black plaid skirt.

Her shoes are combat-style boots with silver chains around the ankles:

The outfit has some personality and style, but all of the black made me nervous about staining!

The jacket feels a little cheap and lightweight, but the construction is good.  All of the seams are sewn in white, and the stitches are neat and tidy for the most part:

The inside of the jacket exposes the back side of the black fabric, which is white and slightly fuzzy--like the back of a vinyl tablecloth:

Sadly, though, the white backing did not protect Yuki's body from being stained:

She has black marks all over her arms:

Underneath the jacket, she's wearing a sleeveless black tee with the SnapStar logo:

This has a high collar and closes in back with velcro:

The shirt is made out of very thin fabric, and the edges of the sleeves are not hemmed:

The skirt is cute, and has a flap in the front, like a kilt:

The skirt does not actually have wrap-around construction like a kilt, though.  It closes in the back with velcro:

There are a few loose threads, but the stitching is decent, and there's a ribbon on the inside to keep the whole thing from riding up:

Underneath all of her clothing, Yuki has a plastic torso with vinyl head and limbs.  The color match between these two areas of her body is not great:

She can stand on her own (with a bit of a leftward tilt...) and has an impressive fourteen points of articulation!

She has molded skin-colored underwear and a hexagonal hole at the base of her neck:

The hole is for the stand, which we'll look at in a bit.  I'll mention now, though, before I forget, that not all of the SnapStar dolls have the same size hole in their backs.  This means that the stands are not always compatible between dolls.  Very odd choice by Yulu.

Yuki's back has a molded 2018 copyright and some Yulu factory marks.  Her head has a 2019 date:

On my first inspection, it seemed like Yuki had only simple rotational movement in her neck, allowing her to look from side to side:

However, she actually has some up-and-down movement, too.  This was very stiff at first, and doesn't amount to much, but it's better than what I originally thought.  I'll come back to that again in a bit.

Yuki's shoulders are rotating hinges, so they allow her arms to lift straight up and away from her body:

And also to spin around:

Yuki's elbows and wrists are also rotating hinges, which is great.  If her lower arms are configured correctly, she can bend her elbow past 90 degrees:


If the arms are rotated to face the opposite direction, then the movement at the elbow is restricted:

Her wrists also have a good range of motion, and she can touch her head and her mouth with no trouble:

And she can easily rest her hand on her hip:

Yuki has a torso joint that allows her upper body to spin around:

Her hip joints are rotating hinges, and the hinge is exposed (as it is on Liv dolls) so her leg movement isn't blocked by the pelvis very much:

This design offers excellent flexbility, including perfect side-to-side splits:

And very good front-to-back splits:

Yuki can also sit on the ground with her back straight...although she has a bit of hyperextension in her knees!

The knee joints are rotating hinges, so Yuki can kneel nicely:

And she can sit in a chair:

Because of the rotation in her knees, she can turn her lower legs inwards and outwards:

So she can sit in a chair in a variety of ways:

Or even on the floor in a variety of ways!

Yuki's ankles are rotating hinges, so she can point and flex her feet:

And also spin them around.

The design of the SnapStar feet is a little strange, I think.  Even though the shape of the sole is mostly flat, there's a still a bit of an arch that causes the dolls to pitch backwards.  This interferes with balance:

So, even though the dolls can balance on their own, it's not always easy and they don't feel rock-solid on their feet.  The curved arches accommodate heeled shoes, though, which is nice.

Overall, Yuki is an extremely fun doll to pose.  Her articulation is excellent!

As you can see, Yuki can balance in a variety of poses on her own, but I was curious to see what the stand could add to the equation.

The stand is designed a lot like the Nendoroid stands, with an articulated arm that inserts into the doll's back:

The color of this stand is not as versatile as the clear subtlety of the Nendoroid stands, but I suppose it has to be green to blend in with the green backdrop.

I had trouble at first because the top joint of the stand is not stiff enough to support Yuki's weight.  She was meant to be jumping in the air in this next picture, but the stand couldn't hold her up:

Yuki, looking for turnips.
I got some other poses to work, though!

And if she has one foot helping with support, the stand works better:

Aside from the one loose joint, the stand is really fun.  It adds a lot to Yuki's poseability, and made me even more excited to try the SnapStar Studio app!

I re-dressed Yuki and put her ridiculous wig back on.  The directions for Liv dolls always recommended turning the wigs inside out in order to align the peg with the hole in the doll's head.  I did this on Yuki out of habit:

That's a strong breeze.
These wigs have stiff caps, though, and the fit is pretty loose.  So there's actually no need to invert the cap--you can just plunk it on the head and then press the peg into place.  

Here's Yuki next to my Liv Sophie:

SnapStar doll (left) and Liv doll (right).
Despite having similar head sizes, you can see that Sophie (who is 11.5 inches tall) is 2 inches taller than Yuki.

If Yuki's head had been just a bit more in proportion to her body, she would have made a nice little sister for Sophie!

The two dolls can share wigs fairly well, although Sophie's wig is slightly big on Yuki:

SnapStar doll wearing a Liv wig.
And Yuki's wig fits Sophie snugly...but I don't think she really wants to wear it:

Eww. Smells like turnips.
I found another Liv wig that looks a bit more like Yuki's wig so that we could do a side-to-side comparison:

SnapStar wig (left) and Liv wig (right).
The peg on the Liv wig is smaller, and there are more rows of rooted hair.  The hair fiber also feels much softer and smoother on the Liv wig.

Yuki wanted to try the Liv wig for herself, and I don't blame her!  You can see that the cap is a little bit large, and sits on top of Yuki's ears:

SnapStar doll wearing a Liv wig.
But the overall look of this wig is nice, and is a vast improvement on the SnapStar wig:

SnapStar doll wearing a Liv wig.
Yuki can also wear Creatable World wigs, although those do not have pegs, so they fall off more easily:

SnapStar doll wearing a Creatable World wig.
I was curious to see what some of the other SnapStar wigs were like, and to compare Yuki to a few of the other characters, so I opened Aspen's box and got her out:

I keep calling her Sophie.
Her expression is less blank than Yuki's, and her hair feels nicer.  The wig is still hard to manage, though, and tends to look messy.

Here's Aspen without her wig:

It's hard to tell for sure, but I think Aspen's face mold is slightly different from Yuki's.  She also has more color in her face, which gives her more warmth and realism.  Here's a GIF comparison of Yuki and Sophie's faces:

Here's another GIF with Aspen and Liv Sophie.  It's fun to contrast this pair because of how similar their coloring is:

Looking at this, it seems pretty clear that the SnapStar heads were inspired by Liv to some degree.  I definitely prefer Sophie, but Aspen holds her own in this GIF better than Yuki did.

Aspen's profile looks more normal to me, too:

She's not quite as melty-faced as Yuki.  Here's a comparison to Liv Sophie:

That neck is still ridiculously long and thin, though.

Aspen's wig has sparse rooting with exposed scalp, but it's definitely a nicer wig than Yuki's.

I also think Aspen has a good outfit.  I'm not wild about the imitation sueded vest with its crumpled fringe hem:

But the underlying floral romper is really pretty and has some nice detail:

This is a good piece of clothing for a $15 doll:

Aspen's balance is not great, though, mostly because her boots are very rubbery and soft.

I like Aspen more than I like Yuki, which makes me wish I'd focused the review on her.

I also opened Izzy's box to check out her reddish hair, but...oh, dear:

Her hair is a total mess (and feels bad) and her eyes are wonk-o-rama:

She looks a little bit better without her wig:

The best thing about Izzy is her jacket.  It's really soft (way softer than her hair) and fully-lined, with cute little rib-knit cuffs.

The jacket fits several of the dolls I have hanging around, like Bratz Mowalola Felicia:

And FailFix PreppiPosh (aka Marnie):

The jacket matches Marnie's outfit well, too!

Aspen was a nice surprise in some ways, but Yuki and Izzy were so disappointing that I was beginning to lose interest in the brand at this point.  Despite really great articulation, and one or two interesting pieces of clothing, the faces, wigs, and accessories are not as good as I'd hoped.  So, I left the other three dolls in their boxes and moved on to look at the green screen and the app.  

Perhaps the app would save the day by being super-fun?

The green screen was easy to assemble, but it has a lot of folds and creases from being stored inside the small box:

I got Yuki posed and ready for her photo shoot.  It's pretty cool how the stand blends into the background!

But then I went to the App Store to download SnapStar Studio...and couldn't find it.  It's gone.  Poof!  Discontinued.

Well.  That's a huge bummer for anyone still spending money on these dolls.

Determined to have some picture-making fun, I downloaded a free trial of Photoshop to see if I could make my own magic.  Turns out I'm pretty bad at Photoshop (talk about a steep learning curve!), but I managed to make it look like Yuki was walking down a city street:

With a green aura.
Of course I'm not clever enough to give her new hair or makeup or anything like that, but it's something.

I put the Liv wig on her and tried another pose:

Now she's running across the street:

...or maybe she's running away from something!

I wanted to show off the stand's capabilities a bit more, so I put Yuki into a jumping pose:

Now she can be out dancing at a club!

What do you think about this pose?

I think she's totally walking the runway:

Or how about this one?

Surveying the aftermath of the apocalypse, of course!

Izzy wanted a turn posing in front of the green screen, too:

So I transported her into the city.  But check out all of the green in her hair!  I couldn't filter that out:

It's fun to use basic backgrounds in Photoshop, too.  Like if it weren't for the green hair, this might look like a regular studio backdrop:

And I can almost replicate the look of my own grey backdrop!

With just a hint of green!
Izzy wanted to do some action shots, too, so she started running:

To catch her subway!

And dancing:

She's joining Yuki at the club, I guess:

Although it looks more like she's flying to me:

Cheep, cheep!
Aspen wanted in on the action, too:

The colors in her outfit make me think of fall, so I plopped her into an autumn city scene:

But the design of her outfit makes me think about cowboys and farms, so I think this is more appropriate:

So when Aspen is running...

Is she running dramatically down a beach?

Or being chased by one of the farm's chickens??

I really wish that I'd been able to experience the SnapStar Studio app, but the green screen was pretty fun.  Of course green construction paper would have had the same effect, but oh well.  

And these days, there's no need for a green screen to change backgrounds.  In fact, Photoshop can erase my grey backdrop with no problem...and there are no green reflections all over the dolls!

Case in point:

This feels like the end of the review, right?  It probably should be, but there's a little bit more to the story.  I actually took most of the photos for this review several months ago, in early January.  This happens to me a lot; I'm working on a review and then I either get bored of the doll, or (more likely) something new and shiny comes along to distract me, and so a whole group of photos gets set aside and forgotten.

This week I sorted through the photos and finally began to write the review, but at this point I've long since given away Yuki, Aspen, and Izzy (plus Lola and Echo, who I never even opened).

However, I like to have a doll in my hands when I'm writing a review, so I can remember all of the little details of the articulation and quality.

Fortunately, I'd held on to one of my unopened SnapStar girls, Dawn.  So I got her out as I was writing this, and she actually changed my mind about a few little things. 

Dawn's box art is every bit as lovely as Yuki's.  And her outfit looks really cool in this drawing, too:

I love that cape!
The photo of the actual doll doesn't look terrible, but it's nowhere near as nice as the artist's rendering:

My Dawn does not look exactly like that photo, though.  Most notably, she has purple lips instead of the nice coral ones on the box.

Here's my Dawn:

I'm not a fan of purple lips.
Her wig sheds all over the place, but the hair fiber feels soft.

I tied the hair back to decrease the shedding...and this looks pretty good!

Dawn's face seems more serene than the other dolls, and her hair is cute.

Her outfit is bad though.  It looks nothing like the box art:

Judge Judy chic.
It's made out stiff, shiny, synthetic fabric that's already unraveling at the sleeves.

But despite the outfit, I actually had a fun time photographing this doll.

The fit of her wig is loose, but this is nice because the hair can be arranged with a center part, or with a side part, like this:

And the rooting on the wig isn't terrible:

The color match between Dawn's plastic torso and her vinyl arms is better than what we saw on Yuki, and despite all of her black clothing, her body is unstained:

Dawn's face paint is very simple, but I like the pop of color in her eyeshadow, and her brown eyes are sparkly and fit her sockets better than Yuki's:

I like Dawn's head mold better than the others, too.  Here's a GIF so you can see the contrast between Dawn's head and Yuki's head:

That's a pretty big difference, right?

And here's Dawn's head compared to Aspen's head:

I like the shape of Dawn's eyes, and the extra contours around her mouth.  She also has a larger nose than Aspen, which helps give some definition to her face.

As I was looking at Dawn's head, I noticed that her neck looks like it's ball jointed:

How did I miss that before?
So, I tried tugging on the head, and pop!  It came right off:

This is how I discovered that the SnapStar body has slightly better neck articulation than what I'd first assumed.

Also, it means that Dawn could be a good body donor for other dolls with ball-and-socket heads, like my Monst doll, Fern:

The color match could be better, granted.
Dawn's body is about the same size as a FailFix body, too:

The difference in head attachment might make body swapping difficult between these two, but I'd love to have a FailFix head on a SnapStar body.  The FailFix bodies are fine, but the SnapStar body is better-articulated and can stand alone.

There's definitely a lot of clothes-swapping potential between these two brands!

SnapStar doll wearing a FailFix outfit.
And Dawn can wear some items of Unique Eyes and Bratz clothing, too:

SnapStar doll wearing a Bratz outfit.
Long story short, I had more fun playing with Dawn than I did with Yuki, Aspen, and Izzy for some reason.  I think her face mold is more pleasant, and her wig feels higher-quality, with no areas of visible scalp.  The volume and shape of the wig also help to conceal the absurdly long, thin neck.  

In addition, it was only because of Dawn that I realized that there was more movement in the SnapStar heads than I'd previously thought.  And while Dawn's outfit is awful, she inspired me to try a few more outfits from other lines, which was rewarding.  

All in all, I'm glad I had a chance to play with Dawn before I wrote my final thoughts.

She's the star of the show.
Bottom line?  First of all, it was hard for me to get over the fact that the SnapStar Studio app is no longer available.  That was a big part of the brand's identity, and one of the things I was looking forward to most about this review.  The special green screen and stand must have added a lot to the production costs of these dolls, too, and now all of that is wasted.  The stand is still usable, granted, and it's very fun, but it only works with SnapStar dolls, and the green color is not subtle or versatile.  In a practical sense, I suppose the app's absence is no great loss.  Who knows how well it even worked, given the trouble that I had in Photoshop with green reflections all over the dolls.  Besides, these days a simple phone filter can offer a lot of the same kind of fun that the app promised...with no green required.

The dolls certainly have value on their own, though, so there's still a lot to discuss.  The best thing about these girls is their body design.  They have an impressive fourteen points of articulation, and most of the joints perform well.  The neck joint is the least mobile, which is strange given its ball-shaped design.  But the head still has some up-and-down movement, which is nice.  I had a great time posing all of the dolls, and enjoyed how the articulated stand added to that experience.

The SnapStar heads are a mixed bag.  Overall, I feel like the heads look funny on the bodies.  A lot of that is because the necks are really skinny and long, but also because the heads themselves are too large.  I think each character has a slightly different face mold, and some of the molds are more appealing than others.  For example, Yuki's eyes are too buggy and the shape of her mouth is strange--especially in profile.  Her overly simplified face paint detracts from her realism even more.  Aspen has a slightly better mold, with more interesting paint, but I like Dawn's face the best...I just wish she didn't have those purple lips.

The interchangeable wigs in this line could have been a great feature, but the quality is poor.  Yuki's wig has a lopsided cut, with hair fiber that's thinly-rooted, feels dry, and falls out too easily.  Aspen's wig looks and feels better, but Izzy's wig is a disaster.  Of the dolls I de-boxed, Dawn has the nicest wig.  Although it sheds like crazy, the hair looks full and feels soft.

Last of all, the clothing and accessories on these dolls are a mixed bag.  The vinyl purses and cheap cell phones are dismissible, especially since the cell phones are a gluey mess.  The shoes and earrings are cute, but the shoes can be hard to remove--especially with the fragile-feeling ankle joints.  The outfits are pretty good, I would say, with some stand-out pieces like Yuki's jacket and skirt, Aspen's floral romper, and Izzy's fuzzy coat.  However, Yuki's jacket left dark stains on her body, and Dawn's outfit is unattractive, cheap-feeling, and literally falling apart.

I don't find these dolls to be comparable to Liv.  They are not as well-made or appealing.  And so, unfortunately, they can't fill the void left by Liv's absence.  That said, I'm pretty sure that the MSRP on the SnapStar line was $14.99, and that's inexpensive--even for 2019.  It's not easy to find a doll with fourteen joints and a cute outfit for under $20, especially one that boasts novel features like interchangeable wigs and a specialized backdrop and stand.  It feels like SnapStar was trying to do too much all at once, and this caused the quality to suffer in several areas.  However, I have to acknowledge that for the short time that the dolls were on shelves, and while their accompanying app was fully-functional, the brand was offering a surprising amount of flexibility, fashion, and fun for the price.


  1. MnGrl here. Somewhere in a closet I believe have a couple of these dolls and they struck me as looking like Livs immediately. I was attracted to their articulation at the time, but never opened them. (Yet) I think their heads are just too out of proportion and don’t look right. Of course this is coming from someone who loves Blythe dolls! Now I’ll have to go dig them out. Anyway, all I kept thinking about while reading your review was how much the Liv girls would like to be invited to Lena’s for a house tour and tea. They promise to leave the horses outside.

  2. Great review, Emily! I've seen a couple of the Snapstar dolls in random stores here and there, often heavily marked down. So I guess they didn't sell well here either. I absolutely adore the Liv dolls I got from you (I think I won them in that giveaway on the blog years ago), and so the Snapstar dolls were exciting to me when they first launched since they resembled Liv so much at first glance (and Liv was never sold here). Unfortunately, I don't think they look very attractive. The difference with the box art is crazy! I think the eye socket issue is the biggest flaw impacting their overall looks, which also explains why Dawn looks the best for sure. Still though, they're all a far cry from the sweet-looking, high-quality Liv dolls. The whole influencer gimmick a lot of toy lines seem to focus on nowadays doesn't attract me either, and I'm not sure if it's the best message to send to kids (I think there has been some research showing that the #1 job American kids aspire to have when they're older is influencer, but don't quote me on anything haha). I do think just the photography aspect without the hashtag-wannabe-influencer shenanigans could've been a really fun gimmick, although it's a shame the app was already taken down. The articulation and the stand are definitely the strongest aspects of these dolls, and for those who have more clothing options and a few Liv wigs laying around (Yuki looked a whole lot better in the one with the bangs), these dolls can be really fun. But just as they are, I can see why they didn't attract many buyers. It's a shame, because I fully agree with your statement that they had a lot to offer for dolls under $20, but that the quality ended up suffering due to a lack of focus.

    By the way, that picture of Yuki running away from the tiger was top-tier comedy xD

  3. These are such bizarre little dolls--for me, they totally fail to comprehend effective stylization. Detailed Liv-style heads are great, but they are not appealing to me on miniature bodies like this. Here, you need either a smaller head, or a much larger one with more plainly cartoonish facial design. The gross and subpar manufacturing also feels like a big no-no. I feel like I'd come away thinking these dolls are too cheap and creatively uninspired given how transparent their influence is, though I do think they lend some value by providing a body with strong articulation for that size. That could be fun to work with--hunting for mini dolls with fun heads for the Snapstar body and seeing what characters can be made from it.

    (Oh, and since you said you were interested, Emily, I finished my review of Avea Trotter! It's up now on my Teatime Tangents and Toys blog!)

  4. Hi, a new follower here! I found your page a week ago and have been reading all the articles! This blog is fascinating and offers so much good information for doll collectors. Also ps: please make more RH / SH content in the future!

  5. What a mixed feeling of good job and oh no this one has! The articulation, the idea, the range of characters and fashion? All great! I love those illustrations too.

    But those long necks, the off putting faces (I think the eyes contributed a lot to that, for me anyway. The eye looks so far back it reads like a spooky mask. What are you hiding SnapStars?)

    Seeing Dawn and her better fitting eyes and more appealing face made that clear.

    I also have to applaud the green screen, as a concept at least. Gets kids a nice little intro to photography, manipulation of images, and really thinking about how to stage a scene. All good uses of imagination. And analytical thinking, I think. :)

  6. I have to say, I honestly think these dolls are cute and pretty! Some of them, anyway. I think some of the dolls look much better than others. Dawn is one of my favorites too. But I go back and forth on how much I like their stylization and whether their proportions work for me. I think their faces are sweet. I'm glad to see a detailed review since I've been thinking over whether I'd like one of these girls for my collection eventually. I was thinking they might be able to share clothes with Bratz or Bratzillaz, so it was intriguing to see the clothes sharing here! Nice to see Felicia again too, she is a favorite of mine. I also thought SnapStars might look cute as friends with Bratz/Bratzillaz dolls, not sure if they would look out of scale to the bigger zillaz or their designs are too different to go with Bratz, but I had wondered whether they would look charming in a display together. Thanks for the review!

  7. It was really interesting to see all the comparison to Liv! I picked up a few of these on deep clearance with the intent of either repainting or using as body donors and never got around to either.
    The line is such a bizarre mix. The photo app concept is unique and the poseability is fantastic. But the clothing on the one I opened (Vita) was dollar store quality and her shoes just would not stay on. It looks like all of the brands other products are games.
    You could probably download the APK file to install the app if you really wanted to try swapping hair and such.

  8. When I fist saw the SnapStar dolls I thought they were weird looking and their proportions were off but then I found Dawn at Walmart for $2 and a bunch of fashion packs and wigs for $1 each so I took a chance and she's really fun to photograph.
    I did get to play with the app for a bit before it disappeared but honestly it wasn't that big a deal. At least for me now. I'm sure 9 yr old me would have loved it.

    1. My daughter was 9 when these dolls came out! And she did love the app - until it stopped working!!

  9. Thank you for the time and effort you put into reviewing the Snapstars; I had seen them on eBay but find the Liv dolls way more appealing, never ended up getting a SnapStar as I’ve been sinking all my dollie funds into MSDs these days. I so wish that SpinMaster would do a Liv revival, maybe if enough collectors asked them? I enjoy reading your reviews so much, thrilled your blog is back into activity.

  10. They're pretty cute! Good articulation, fun outfits... but oh boy those heads do not match the bodies at all haha. The eye wonk is also pretty distracting.

  11. Thank You for reviewing these! I’ve seen them Everywhere they seem fun & price is good & was thinking about How Good their articulation actually is? Now I Know! luv sparkly eyes & background gimmick is fun! p.s Great box art shame actual head sculpt is bit odd & indeed she looks Much Better without wig guess their main *potential is articulation as there are not much articulated dolls in this size?!;)

  12. I remember when these came out - the gimmick was definitely interesting, but nothing too enticing...until the line failed hard enough for everything to go on a fairly deep discount. Snapstars stand out to me as one of the most amazing ball-drops I have ever seen when it comes to concept vs reality. You're not wrong that Dawn is probably the best of them, though. She's the only one of mine that's stayed on her original body, but I do plan to add some 3d eyelashes to help her thousand yard stare out a little.
    They do make good donor bodies for smaller dolls like Hairdorables (Boxy Girls are actually better for this and easy to find on ebay these days), with a little neck hole adjustment. The outfits are not bad on the stock dolls, but the few fashion packs they put out are mostly a disappointment, with unfinished edges everywhere.

  13. Loved this review! I love these little Snapstar dolls. My daughter was 9 when these came out and still somewhat into dolls at the time. I got her 2 or 3 of these (Aspen, Dawn, and Yuki I think) and she had a lot of fun with them. She enjoys photography so she had fun with the green screen and the app. Though if I recall correctly, the app was pretty buggy and often didn’t work right. In fact, I think it eventually stopped working at all. So I’m not surprised it was removed. We went on a trip to Colorado that summer and my daughter brought Aspen with her and took pictures of Aspen amongst the Aspen trees. While I thought these dolls were cute (but not as good as Liv dolls) the out of proportion heads and bodies did bother me. I did take one of these doll’s heads off and put it on an Ever After High body and that looked a lot better. I like Liv doll wigs on these girls too.

  14. I think a huge part of the problem with the heads is that the eyes/irises are too small for them; Dawn's eye socket being smaller makes a huge difference.

  15. my Snapstars' phones (Yuki & Dawn) were NASTY straight out of the box, I'm so glad it wasn't just me (not glad you had the unpleasant experience of coming in contact with them, though!) I find the boxes to be quite nice, I'm using them for storage. my girls were bought at a doll show for $2 each and my Yuki is repainted, and I wish I knew the artist's name because I absolutely love my Yuki's face! I'm going to the same doll show next weekend, so I'll try to remember to get the artist's name if they're there so I can send in pictures. the repaint makes a world of difference, honestly, and I'm so tempted to try it on Dawn as well.

  16. I got the unicorn girl when they first came out. I didn't end up liking the doll herself, so I gave her to my niece and she liked her ok. I loved the outfit, though and I still use it for other dolls. I also have a few of the fashion packs for them.

  17. Y'all are not missing much with the app. I had it while it was new and it worked...okay. The effects it generated were pretty cool, but the app itself was ridiculously glitchy. It crashed a lot and froze up a lot, and more than once it locked up my whole phone. It was a cute idea, but overall this line's big selling point was its big downfall.

  18. Great review! I'm a long time reader but I'm finally commenting because these dolls were a big deal for me back when they came out. I live in the UK, where most US dolls that make it over here are 1.5x the price or more (and we don't have it as bad as the rest of Europe!), so for this line to be so affordable and yet include articulation and inset eyes was huge.

    If you can forgive me doing a bit of self-promo, here's a picture showing what I feel is the true potential of Snapstars:
    Of course, nobody should be expected to invest this heavily into the doll line just to get the quality up - especially not the target audience of kids, but I think there was a lot of promise in this line, and with some changes it's possible to bring it out.

  19. You said, "Yuki's jacket left dark stains on her body, and Dawn's outfit is unattractive, cheap-feeling, and literally falling apart." I got the Yuki version that had fishnet stockings. Oh my gosh -- do not buy that doll! The fishnet stockings left a black fishnet stain all over her legs. She's completely unusable for doll photography unless she's wearing long pants. I was sooo disappointed.

    Great article, Toy Box Philosopher! I was especially surprised by the fact that they have a ball and socket neck-head connection. Since I was so disappointed by my doll's stains, I put her away and didn't even think about the head-swapping possibility. Maybe I can pop her head off and attach it to an unstained body now.

  20. Very good and thorough review. I was going to buy one, and you effectively talked me out it. I did see a resemblance to the "Liv" series, and but with your side-by-side photos... yikes! it's like a copyright infringement! I think they made the dolls a bit smaller to get around this, but it might explain why they were discontinued after a year... might have been a legal issue. It looks to me like they literally copied the Liv head and wig assembly! then made superficial changes and put it on a smaller body.

    The low quality though, of the bodies and clothes, make me feel this would not be worth purchasing (*unless I find it somewhere for $2 like someone here!). Definitely NOT worth $15 on Ebay!

    Note: black staining is a problem I have encountered even on SILKSTONE Barbies and $$$ Tonner Ellowyne dolls. SOMETIMES I have had SOME luck removing it with those white sponges -- Mr. Clean? -- that have a sandy grit to them? Magic Sponges? You have to be VERY careful and obviously not around face paint. Arms, legs, bodies. Some I have been able to remove 99%, others not so much. Worth a try though.