Sunday, June 11, 2023

Sunday Surprise: Meow Planet Blind Box Cats!

I don't know how much attention anyone pays to my backdrop.  It's not meant to attract attention, but be a neutral setting to show off dolls.  However, over the years, my grey backdrop has become a bit of a hallmark for this site, even though it's not always the most complimentary color for every doll.  I used grey foam board for several years early on, and then in April of 2014, I finally purchased a big roll of professional backdrop paper.  I think my Maru and Friends Savannah review was the first to use this upgraded prop.  

My routine over the years has been to use a section of the roll until the paper starts to look dirty and creased, and then I'll cut that part off and roll out a fresh section.  Last week, when I was getting ready to begin a new photo session, I noticed that the paper was starting to get dirty and creased again.  So, I cut off the damaged paper and started to unroll a new section...and the roll ran out.  I was left with only a short rectangle of paper, which was not enough to cover my whole photography table.  Three things happened after that: first, I felt a little sad.  I mean, that same roll of paper has lasted me almost a decade, and has seen me through almost 300 reviews.  It even followed me on the move from Maine to New Jersey.  It felt like an old friend.

The second thing that happened is that I had to order a new backdrop.  And third, while I was waiting for the new paper to arrive, I had to change my review strategy.  With only a small rectangle of background available, I could only review very small dolls that would easily fit within the confines of the remaining backdrop.  I dug through my stash and found some five-inch blind box cats that I purchased a little while ago.  They're called Meow Planet, and this is Ruby from that series:

Meow Planet Ruby, $14.00.

I'm not exactly sure what the suggested retail price is on these cats, but currently they can be found for around $12 each on AliExpress.  StrangeCat Toys has them listed at $14, but they're sold out.

These are blind box toys, so you're not supposed to know which character you're going to get, but I love calico cats and really wanted Ruby.  Because of this, I shopped at AliExpress, where some vendors are offering opened-box characters so you can pick the exact one you want.

But wait a minute.  If you already know that I'm going to review Ruby, it's not much of a Sunday Surprise, is it?  Never fear!  In addition to choosing Ruby, I also purchased two actual blind box cats that I'll unveil here with you.  

Let's take a look at the first surprise cat:

The cats come in small brown cardboard boxes.  The design on the front of the box is cool: there's a line drawing of a cat, and then there's a section of the drawing that's made to look like the cardboard has been torn away to reveal a colorful photograph of the cat's actual face.

All of the boxes feature the Zoe character, but of course that's not necessarily who is inside.

One side of the box has a line drawing of the types of item that are included in each box: a cat figure, paw-shaped mittens, a purse, and an outfit:

The opposite side of the box has photographs of the six known characters, and a silhouette of a mystery character:

Here's a promotional photo of the six known characters, where it's easier to see what each one looks like:

From left: Ashley, Bella, Cathy, Zoe, Mia, and Ruby.
Cathy and Ruby stand out the most to me, probably because of their bright coloring.

I'm always curious to know what the mystery characters look like in blind box collections.  And it's often hard to find pictures of them online--which makes sense.  Companies want you to buy tons of figures in the hopes of discovering the mystery.

I still haven't found a picture of the Adou Street Series mystery figure (who I'm dying to see!) but I did manage to find the Meow Planet mystery cat.  Scroll away quickly if you don't want the mystery to be spoiled!

Her name is Eva:

She's a little freaky....but she also looks like one of my own cats!  Overall, I don't like her as much as some of the other characters--which is good, because she costs like $100 on AliExpress.

The back of the box has mostly Chinese writing, but it says Choco Teddy and Tata Cat in English at the top and Choco Teddy again at the bottom:

These toys are a collaboration between Choco Teddy and Tata Cat, both of which make other cat-themed blind box toys.

Here's an example of another blind box toy from Tata Cat:

Too cute.
And here's an example from Choco Teddy:

These crack me up!
It's dangerous for me to go searching for cat-themed blind box toys!  They're all great.  I'd better get back to business.

I mangled the bottom of the box trying to get it open, and inside I found a foil packet:

Foiled again.
There's a collector's card outside the foil packet, and this actually reveals which character is inside, so I won't show it to you just yet:

We'll build the suspense for a bit longer.
I slowly ripped open the packet...

I see some red!
Ooh!  Look who it is!

It's Ashley:

Ashley is a purplish-grey cat with brown ears and a white face:

She has a maroon velour hoodie, blue denim shorts, and what looks like a dead cat purse.

Here she is from the side:

And from the back:

She's kinda cute!  I like her big blue eyes:

Too bad the purse didn't get any eyes.
Her body felt really stiff right out of the box, and I couldn't turn her head.  I was worried that she would be completely unarticulated, which is always a bummer.

She has little vinyl mittens on each of her hands, and these are molded to look like cat paws:

The paws are removable, and underneath are human-looking hands:

It's a little strange that the paws are removable.  Isn't Ashley supposed to be a cat?  Or is she a human dressed like a cat?  Cat dolls can be can cats themselves, for that matter.  The Catwalk Kitties have an odd mix of human and feline qualities, too.

Here are the paw mittens on their own:

The purse came slung over Ashley's shoulder and was a little hard to get off over the bulky hoodie.  It has a simple design and does not open--it's just a fuzzy plush cat head with embroidered eyes and mouth:

Is this supposed to be a rabbit and not a cat?  I can't really tell.  Maybe it's like a rabbit that Ashley hunted and killed?  That's pretty grim (but also very cat).

The back is plain, with no embroidered detail:

Here's Ashley without her dinner purse:

The hood of the shirt can pull all of the way up and over her ears, and the whole thing opens down the back with velcro:

The construction is decent, but this shirt is nowhere near as fancy and well-made as the clothing on other blind box toys like the Come4Free Bonnie dolls or Penny's Box Adou:

From the front, you can see some loose stitching along the edge of the hood:

Overall, the hoodie feels a little sloppy and underwhelming.

With the hoodie out of the way, it's easier to see Ashley's denim shorts:

These are simple, with no stitched details and some shedding thread bits:

There are some long thread ends here and there, and the seams around the legs tend to turn inside-out when the shorts are pulled off:

Underneath her outfit, Ashley has a vinyl humanoid body with what looks like five points of articulation.  And, indeed, once I could see the joints clearly, I was able to pry them into motion:

The seam at the top of the underwear makes it look like Ashley might have a torso joint, too, but she does not.

The color match between Ashley's head and body is not great; her head is a few shades lighter than her body:

Her white face, pink nose and mouth, and eyelash-like upper eyelids are all painted in place, but her big blue eyes are inset acrylic:

The eyes fade gradually from a black pupil in the center to a light blue at the edges, which looks really nice:

There's very little detail on Ashley's back, but she has a molded factory mark on her head:

It says "Mi Angle:"

I have no idea what Mi Angle is.  I did an internet search which turned up absolutely nothing.

Ashley has a slender body with very little anatomical definition.  While her hands have five simple fingers, her feet are completely without toes:

Like Lustra's Feet!
From this view you can also see that there's some staining on Ashley's arms and head form the velour hoodie:

Or is that blood from the purse?
All of Ashley's joints have simple rotation with no hinge motion.  So, she can spin her head around:

This motion took some effort at first, but once the joint was moved a few times, it loosened up.

She can also lift her arms:

And sit on the ground with her feet wide apart:

She can even do some strange-looking front-to-back splits:

Ashley balances well on her own, and can even strike a walking pose:

She's nowhere near as well-articulated as the blind box BJDs, but I'm relieved that she has a few joints to play with.

At five inches tall, from the tips of her ears to the bottoms of her feet, Ashley is right in between the height of a Barbie toddler and a Chelsea doll:

From left: Barbie toddler, Meow Planet cat, Barbie Chelsea.
And she's quite a bit shorter and more petite than a Penny's Box doll like Adou:

Meow Planet doll (left) and Penny's Box Street Series Adou (right).
As I was getting Ashley dressed again, I noticed a hole in the shoulder seam of her hoodie.  Her ear poked right through!

The quality control on these clothes could be better.

At around this point, Lena spoke up and expressed some concern that I didn't use her for the size comparison photos.  I think she's worried about job security.

As you might expect, Ashley is about the right size to be a toddler or young child for a standard Barbie like Lena:

Here are a few more pictures of Ashley in her outfit:

And let's not forget that roadkill purse:

It wasn't the road, Emily.
It's hard to be disappointed with a cat doll, but Ashley wasn't quite what I was expecting after all of my recent good experiences with blind box dolls.  

I figured that the little calico, Ruby, had the best chance at improving my opinion of this brand, since she was my favorite in the promotional photos, so I put the second surprise cat aside and opened Ruby's box next.

Her box is exactly the same as Ashley's, but it had been opened at the bottom and then taped back closed.

It's nice because, thanks to the collector's cards, the AliExpress vendor didn't even have to open the foil packet to know that this was a Ruby doll:

And because the foil pack came sealed, I knew that my doll would be pristine and complete...

...except she isn't.  My Ruby came missing her mittens, which is a real shame:

No pie for you, Ruby.
Her mittens have cute little calico markings and would have been a fun addition.

Here's Ruby from the side:

And from the back:

Ruby's jacket is much more detailed and charming than Ashley's hoodie.  It's made out of puffy white fleece and has a rabbit ear hood (with a little pom pom drawstring), and pink felt pockets.  It even has a working zipper!

Unfortunately, one of the pom poms fell off almost immediately.

Ruby's purse is also really fun--and much less sinister than Ashley's.  It's a fuzzy orange carrot, which Ruby is unlikely to eat:

Cats are obligate carnivores.
I think it's very clever that the orange color of this purse matches the orange in Ruby's facial markings.

I took off the purse so that we could get a better look at the jacket:

The drawstring is not sewn into place, which is nice.  It can slide back and forth to make one side longer than the other:

Presumably the string could also be pulled tight to cinch the hood, although it's delicate, so I didn't try this.

The zipper looks amazing, but it's hard to use.  The mechanism gets stuck at the bottom of the teeth all of the time:

This jacket's basic construction quality is similar to Ashley's jacket, but the hood is fully lined and the fabric is less prone to unraveling, so the whole thing looks more polished:

In addition to her jacket, Ruby is wearing the same blue denim shorts that we saw on Ashley:

Ruby's body is off-white, and it's the same off-white as the underpants, so there's no color variation:

Orange underpants would have looked cool.
Ruby's only colorful patches are on her head, with a small grey patch over her left ear and a larger orange patch over her right ear:

She has some subtle blush on her cheeks, a pink nose and mouth, and the same blue inset eyes as Ashley.

Ruby also has "Mi Angle" on the back of her head:

I fixed the pom pom with Fabri-Tac and put Ruby back into her outfit for a few more pictures:

Despite her missing mittens, broken pom pom, and tricky zipper, I love Ruby.  Her jacket and purse are more interesting than Ashley's, and the calico coloring looks great.

She doesn't have the freakiness factor of other anthropomorphic cats like the Catwalk Kitties or Bratz Petz Twiins.  She's more like a tall Calico Critter or Li'l Woodzeez animal.  I can picture kids playing some great imaginary games with a charming doll like this:

Ruby renewed my enthusiasm for this brand, and I was excited to tackle the last surprise box!

Who could it be??
I was a little worried about getting a repeat, as usual, but I figured I could open the box, check the collector's card, and if the cat was a character I already had, I could pop the foil packet back into the box and give it away or re-sell it.

But the collector's card was for a new character!

Let's peek in there and see who it is...

I see tabby markings!
It's Bella!

And she's so cute!  I love her tabby face and knitted dress:

Her purse is a puffy fried egg with a smiley face (thank you to piper for telling me what it's supposed to be!):

A cat might eat that.
Bella didn't stand out to me in the promotional photos, but she's really great.

Her outfit is very simple--just a cable knit red turtleneck dress with no velcro seam in the back:

The knit has some stretch to it, so the whole dress slides easily on and off.

Bella has an all-grey body with white underpants:

And fortunately, there's no staining on her body from the red dress.

Unlike Ashley and Ruby, Bella has green eyes!  Just like my two real cats:

She also has a white area around her mouth, and some dark grey tabby stripes on either side of her face and on the top of her head.

The dress is the best surprise in this set, though.  I love the color and I like how easy it is to use.  It even fits my Toucan Chelsea (although it's a bit short):

Here's Bella back in her dress:

If her purse was a bit more interesting, she'd be perfect.  I think she looks good with Ruby's carrot purse!

I'm so glad I opened the last box.

Here are all three of my Meow Planet kitties together:

And here are their three purses:

Seeing the purses together like this made me curious about the other bag options--I didn't pay much attention to them when I was looking at the promotional photos.  I pulled up the photos again to see what all of the bags look like. 

It appears that Mia does not have a bag at all:

But I like her outfit!
Cathy has a shopping bag with a yellow handle:

And Zoe has a messenger bag with a cat design on the front and a yellow adjustable strap:

It's interesting that I somehow managed to get all three of the fuzzy purses!  I like Zoe's bag the best, though.  It looks the most realistic and can even hold small items.

In looking more closely at the cats I didn't get, I also realized that all of the characters have blue eyes except for Bella (who has green eyes) and the mystery cat Eva (who has yellow eyes).

Overall, I'm very happy with my trio:

Bottom line?  My experience with the Meow Planet cats didn't start out as well as I'd hoped.  Ashley is cute, for sure, but her outfit is fairly basic.  Her velour hoodie has some areas of poor stitching, a hole in the shoulder seam, and the color caused staining on her head and arms.  Also, her purplish-grey coloring isn't very interesting, and her head does not match her body very well.  After reviewing other blind box dolls from Penny's Box and Come4Free, Ashley's quality did not impress me.

However, when I started to look at Ruby, the cat I chose specifically from this collection, my experience began to improve.  Ruby has a few flaws, like her missing mittens, the fact that the pom poms on her jacket fall off really easily, and the difficulty in closing the zipper of her jacket.  But she has a lot of great qualities, too.  I think her face, with its calico decorations, is adorable.  I also love her puffy bunny jacket, with its lined hood, working drawstring, and real zipper.  Even the smiling carrot purse is cute and unique.  

Bella was perhaps the best surprise of all.  She didn't stand out to me in the promotional photos, but she's really great in person.  Her delicately knitted dress is soft, attractive, easy-to-use, and didn't cause any staining.  The tabby markings on Bella's face and paws are also nicely done.  And I love her bright green eyes, especially because they are unique to her character.

The $14 price might seem high when compared to the $20 blind box BJDs I've looked at recently, but that's only because those BJDs are such a good deal.  These little cats feel a bit like a cross between a Calico Critter or Li'l Woodzeez animal and a Barbie Chelsea doll, and their price is roughly equivalent to those toys.  The Meow cats have more play value than a lot of other blind bag toys, and would make a fun treat for anyone who likes both animals and dolls.  I, for one, got plenty of entertainment out of these cuties, and am grateful that my depleted backdrop gave me an excuse to spend some time with them.


  1. ah they're so cute!! i think bella's purse is meant to be a little fried egg :D

    1. A fried egg!! Of course. Thank you for saying that! I changed the text. :)

  2. Sunday Surprise, my favourite! These cats are so sweet, they may not have the quality and articulation of the bids (which are mindblowing, at their price! But they have their own charm. I think I like Bells best as well, much as the bunny hood is adorable, the knot dress just falls to me.

    And the purse! It made me think of a flower or an egg, so I wonder what the intent was? Definetly think the morbid cute dead one is a bunny, personally.

  3. My cat loved fried mom only liked the whites so we'd let the cat lick up the yolks after.

  4. Oh wow, my comment (about my cat eating eggs) published! Didn't work when I tried commenting in the past. (I'm Rebecca Z, Emily.)

    1. Yay!! Rebecca! I'm so glad that you can comment! :D

  5. Hihi yes, it‘s a little egg :)
    And I really need Cathy, she‘s sooo cute! Thank you for showing me these cuties ❤️

  6. The dead rabbit purse is adorable! But I'm interested in the other two lines from Choco Teddy and Tata Cat more.

  7. They are little cuties! Looking at cat figures is a dangerous rabbit hole.
    Also, I love that your captions are always a blend of laughs and learning. I was not familiar with the term "obligate carnivore" before.

  8. These are just wonderfully cute! The only things I don't like are the lack of more complex articulation (I like to pose my dolls in scenes on their display shelves) and the quality issues you ran into with some of their clothing. However, while I prefer more points of articulation, sometimes a doll with fewer joints can have its own special advantages and charms. So it isn't a dealbreaker for me. Neither are the clothes being imperfect as I love putting my dolls in new outfits... This brand may be making an appearance in my displays someday further down the road. Thanks for the review!

  9. oh man, the dead rabbit head purse. I'm glad you came to that conclusion as well, because the first thing I thought was "wow, is that something she killed and then turned into a purse? kinda macabre", but I also kind of love it? the rabbit hoodie takes on a new dimension when viewed through that lens, eh? XD

  10. They remind me a lot of Odeco & Nikki by Petworks! So cute!

    1. Oh I love those dolls! What a blast from the past!

  11. These Ali express dolls are so tempting!!

  12. They're cute!! I love their little outfits, honestly the dead rabbit purse is pretty rad.
    Here's a picture of the Adou mystery figure :
    I'm dying to see his dog but it's not in the photo :'(

    1. OMG!! You found him!! Thank you so much! This is everything to me. He's adorable. ❤️ I'll sleep better now, lol.

    2. I thought it'd be a girl, tbh, but he's great! So sassy. And I'm very happy to have this mystery resolved!