Saturday, July 1, 2023

My First Barbie by Mattel

Happy July!  I decided that since the movie, Barbie, is coming out on the 21st of this month (I can hardly wait!!), I would make this Barbie Month here on the blog!  I'm not sure if every single review in July will be Barbie-themed (that'll depend on how fast I work), but I'll definitely have a few Barbie features and will round out the month with a look at some of the dolls that are specifically based on the movie.

To start things off, I figured that on the first day of the month, the first Barbie that I review should be My First Barbie!  Makes sense, right?  Besides, I teased a review of this doll during a Tea With Lena post way back in January, so it's high time we finally get to meet her:

My First Barbie by Mattel, $19.99.

This is also a good time to review these dolls because their online price has recently dropped to $13.99 at places like Amazon and Target.  That's 30% off the suggested retail price of $19.99.

There are six dolls in My First Barbie's introductory lineup, all of which I've seen at my local Target in this display:

It looks like the doll on the left is reaching out to say hi to somebody!
At 13.5 inches tall, these dolls are much larger than traditional Barbies, and they take up quite a lot of space in the aisle.

In addition to the girl in today's review, there's a bunny-themed doll with medium skin, light brown (auburn?) hair, green eyes, and a blue outfit:

There's also a poodle-themed character with dark skin, dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a purple outfit:

She also has freckles!
And there's a cat-themed doll with light skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, and a pink outfit:

Too bad she has bangs.
The dark-skinned character appears again in a $34.99 gift set:

As does the light-skinned doll:

No bangs this time!
The gift sets do not seem to be included in the sale, which is too bad since $35 is a hefty price.

After seeing all of the characters in person, I chose the squirrel-themed doll, who has ultra-pale skin, black hair, dark brown eyes, and a multi-colored outfit:

I think she has a very pretty face:

Sites like Target and Amazon don't use any specific names to identify these dolls, and there are no names indicated on the box.  However, on Mattel's site I noticed that the girls are given names.  They are: Malibu (for the blonde), Teresa (for the auburn-haired girl), Brooklyn (for the freckled cutie), and Renee for the doll I bought.

Renee came in a pink cardboard box with an open front and brightly-decorated sides:

One of the sides has a picture of Renee and her pet squirrel, and the other side has cartoons of all four characters and their pets:

I have to pause here to comment on the pets.  I mean, three of those pets make sense; cats, rabbits, and dogs are all excellent companion animals.  But a squirrel?  I'm sorry, that is not a good pet.  Or at least it's not a legal pet in most states.  Why not include a goldfish?  A guinea pig?  Maybe a gerbil or a hamster?  Or even a goat or a horse!  So many better options.

The back of the box is packed with information:

The top section talks about how these dolls are good for their preschool audience.  The claim is that they are easy to dress (which builds dexterity), they have hair that can be brushed and styled (which promotes personal care), they have a soft and flexible body (which encourages nurturing), and they are dolls (so they inspire imaginative play):

Half of those things are features that a standard Barbie doll shares, so I'll be focused on the easy-to-dress part, and also the soft body.

The bottom of the box has a photo of all four dolls in the series, and also a size comparison with a regular Barbie doll:

It's great to show this size comparison, and it should probably be written more on the box.  It would be easy for people shopping online to think they're getting a regular 11.5 inch Barbie here, so the more mentions of the size difference, the better.

I opened the top of the box and was able to slide the light pink backdrop out:

I have to pause again here to note that in the five months that Renee has been sitting in my house in her open-faced box, she has accumulated a lot of dust.  Her body is soft vinyl (like the rubbery legs of a Disney Classic Princes, for example) and so it has a high-friction texture that attracts a lot of debris and is prone to staining.

Renee and her accessories were fairly easy to remove from the backdrop, since little plastic compartments and vinyl bands held most of the items in place.  The exception to this was three sets of double plastic ties in Renee's head.  I understand that an open box requires additional security, but that's a lot of plastic ties!

Here's everything that was in the box:

The brush that comes with Renee has a nice size and weight.  It would be easy for little hands to hold and use.  It also has a detailed molded bow design on the back:

Plastic bristles aren't great for doll hair, but this looks more useful than most doll brushes I see.

Renee also comes with a pair of blue sunglasses with flower-shaped lenses:

Each of the earpieces has "Barbie" molded onto it.

Renee's pet squirrel is made from a two-dimensional cartoon of a squirrel that's been cut out, stitched to a backing, and stuffed with fiberfil.  There's also an enormous tag on one side:

The back of the squirrel is blank:

I cut the distracting tag off so that we could focus on the cute squirrel:

The squirrel has a ribbon handle coming out of his head, so I'm not exactly sure if he's meant to be a purse or a pet, but the box art makes me think pet.

Incidentally, there are some accessory sets available for My First Barbie that I've never seen in stores.  Some of these include little plastic pets that are pretty cute--and clearly not meant to be purses or pillows:

This $30 tea set is adorable, but it has the flat pillow pets:

Anyway, Renee's last accessory is a pair of boots:

These are made out of pearlescent white vinyl and do not have any painted decorations.  They have a lot of molded detail, though, including some treads and a little Barbie silhouette on the sole:

The shoes also have small slits in the back, but they're still very hard to get on over Renee's rubbery feet:

I suppose that because the shoes are hard to get on, it's also hard for them to fall off, so they're less likely to be lost (or swallowed) by little kids.

Unfortunately, even with her boots, Renee can't balance on her own.  She has a fairly heavy body (much heavier than a standard Barbie's body) and her lower legs are really bendy:

She has a hard time standing even when I'm holding onto one of her legs for support.

So I had to use the same awkward Kaiser stand that I used for Ella Enchanted:

Here she is from the back:

Renee's hair feels nice, and is a good length for little kids; it's not so long that it's likely to get tangled instantly, but it's long enough to be fun.  You can still see the plastic tie remnants poking out at the top of her head, though:

A quick warning to parents: these tie ends feel sharp if you touch them!  I poked myself with one and it was no fun.  I had to go back and very carefully cut them down so that they're all level with the scalp.

While we're looking at Renee's hair, let's check the rooting:

It's actually not bad!  I was expecting worse.  The scalp is painted black, too, but I can see little lines of skin color that disrupt the camouflage.

Renee's hair looked a little scruffy right out of the box:

Brushing helps, but it's the kind of hair that tends to always have a few little flyaways and sections that refuse to lay flat:

The hair fiber feels nice and soft, though.

Renee has a sweet, friendly face, with a smiling mouth that makes her recognizable as a Barbie doll:

Her brown eyes are overly-large, but certainly not as exaggerated as dolls like Rainbow High or Blythe.

Her profile is very natural, with detailed and realistic ears:

Here's a closer look at the face paint:

Renee's dark brown eyes are painted more in the style of Monster High or Ever After High than of Barbie.  Her irises are two shades of brown, with large pupils and simple reflective dots.  

Her eyelashes (which are only on the tops of her eyes, not below) are really nice, with varied lengths and a graceful shape.  She also has hair lines drawn into her dark brown eyebrows, but these are hard to see:

It's noteworthy that Renee does not have any makeup.  That's rare in the fashion doll world, and appropriate for a toy intended for preschoolers.

Renee's smiling mouth does not have any painted tooth definition, just a band of white surrounded by coral-colored lips:

It looks like there might be some molded tooth lines in that previous picture, but I think it's just a disruption in the white paint.

Renee's outfit is all one piece, with the details printed directly onto the fabric:

The fabric is a thin, synthetic knit that I associate with inexpensive children's pajamas.  The top part has pink ruffled sleeves and is printed with pocket and purse decorations, with some colorful stripes accenting the waistline:

The skirt part of the outfit is gathered at the waist and has a colorful flower print.

The back of the dress is less decorated, with only a plain blue bodice...and a strange piece of cardboard sticking out at the top!

The dress closes in back with one long, thick piece of velcro, and is definitely easy to get off.

You can see on the inside that the construction is basic, but looks solid--with the possible exception of the unfinished hem:

Because the inside of the fabric is mostly white, this dress also doesn't look like it will stain Renee's vinyl body, which is good.

That strange piece of cardboard is part of a bigger contraption that's taped around Renee's waist:

It's like a back brace!  But I think it must be there to keep the dress laying smoothly?  That doesn't make a ton of sense to me, but I can't think of another explanation.  Can you?

Here's Renee with the cardboard removed:

She's not balancing on her own in that picture, I had to suspend her.

Her entire body is covered with soft vinyl, so she feels very different from a regular hard plastic Barbie doll.  She also has a more youthful body type, with a molded camisole and panties.

And as I'd hoped, her body is completely free of stains.

Her back is marked with a 2022 Mattel copyright and declares her to be a "genuine Barbie:"

Renee has nine points of articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees) which is honestly more than I thought she would have.

Her neck is a simple rotating joint, so she can only spin her head around--not look up and down or side-to-side.

And when she looks to the side, her head angles upwards:

My doll has a tiny bit of side-to-side movement in her head that's hard to describe.  She can only tip her head to her right, and it kind of clicks into place.  Her head is also slightly distorted when it's in this position.  

Maybe this GIF will help illustrate what I'm talking about:

I don't feel like I can call this legitimate side-to-side movement.  It seems unintentional.

Renee's shoulders are rotating hinges, so she can lift her arms up and away from her body:

And spin them around:

She has internal click elbows, which are rare!  These joints give her arms four possible positions:

The arms hold these positions well, too.

Click joint armature tends to bend in both directions, and sure enough, Renee can move her elbow a few clicks in the wrong direction, too:

The thinner vinyl on the inside of Renee's arm prevents the joint from moving too far in the wrong direction, while the thicker vinyl at the elbow has more flexibility--much like the skin on our own arms.

Unfortunately, with no rotation in the lower arms, Renee can't touch her head or rest her hand on her hip.  All of her poses look very robotic:

Or like she's practicing martial arts.
She has an attractive arm mold, with a realistic elbow shape and graceful fingers:

Here's the palm of her hand:

The little hole you see in the middle of her arm is a molding artifact from where one of the armature's perpendicular supports is sticking out.  There are little holes like this in several places on all four of her limbs.  They are normal.

The hands are extremely flexible because the click joint armature ends just past the wrist:

My concern with this design is that the blunt end of the armature could poke through the vinyl of the hand and damage the doll:

I can see the armature right below the surface.
Renee's hips have ball-and-socket joints, so she can slide into partial side-to-side splits:

And the flexibility of the vinyl also allows her to cross her legs pretty well!

She can do full front-to-back splits, too:

And she can sit very nicely on the ground--even with her legs crossed:

She can also sit on the ground with her legs spaced further apart:

Renee has internal click knees that allow her legs to be in five different positions:

The most bent position can only stay in place for a millisecond or two before it snaps back, though, so I probably shouldn't include it in the count.

These joints can bend in the wrong direction, too:

This puts a lot of stress on the thin vinyl at the back of the knee, though.  You can see how the vinyl gets lighter and the contours of the underlaying joints start to show:

The click knees allow Renee to sit in a chair pretty well:

The benefit of internal knee joints is that the shape of the legs is nice and natural, with no joint mechanism showing:

Renee can strike some good action poses, but her arms tend to look awkward, and her legs are way too bendy to support any weight.

As the box already demonstrated quite nicely, Renee is 13.5 inches tall, so about two inches taller than a standard Barbie doll like Lena:

My First Barbie (left) and Signature Looks Barbie (right).
She also happens to be almost exactly the same size as the last doll I reviewed--Robert Tonner's Ella Enchanted:

My First Barbie (left) and Ella Enchanted by Robert Tonner (right).
This comparison makes it even more obvious how young-looking Renee's body type is.

Ella has more waist definition than Renee, so Renee can't wear Ella's clothing.  It's too tight in the back and the velcro can't close completely:

This is a shame, because Ella has a lovely wardrobe that Renee could have shared!

I think she looks especially pretty in the white blouse with the purple skirt:

I put Renee back into her own outfit so that I could try out the accessories.  

One thing I noticed while I was redressing Renee is that while her dress is very easy to manage, it gets hung up on her soft vinyl body quite a lot.  I wouldn't say that this makes Renee hard to dress, necessarily, but it's harder to pull her clothing on than it would be with a plastic doll.  And there's no way I'd ever try to get pants on this girl!  The very thought brings back the trauma of trying to get pants onto the Unique Eyes dolls, with their sticky legs and huge feet!  Shudder.

Anyway, the glasses slip on easily and stay on pretty well:

It's hard for Renee to interact with her squirrel pet, though.  She can use the loop of ribbon on his head to carry him around like a purse, but that's a little weird:

It looks a bit too much like she's dangling him from a leash:

I used some clear rubber bands to help Renee cuddle her pal, but that doesn't look very convincing, either:

So I just let the two friends lounge around together:

I spend time in every review to make sure dolls are looking their best before I photograph them, but I wanted to pause here and give you some reality.  This is what Renee looked like for a lot of my photo session:

Her hair was constantly getting stuck to her vinyl body.  And her arms almost always look stiff and unnatural.

But with a bit of effort, she can look better:

Renee is sweet.  I like her size and her soft, skin-like vinyl, but I wish that it was easier to keep this type of material clean.  I also love that she has more articulation than a basic Barbie doll, but her arms look awkward a lot of the time.  

I'll admit that I was dying to know what was going on underneath that vinyl skin.  I wanted a peek at the armature!  But I tried really hard to resist the urge to do surgery on poor Renee.  I've investigated the inner workings of click joints before.  Do I really need to do it again?  No.  No I do not.

In an attempt to distract myself from the armature, I decided to have some more wardrobe fun with Renee.

There are four different fashion packs that are offered in this collection, but I didn't take any photos of them during my trip to Target.  All of the sets cost $9.99, but can be found on sale now for $8.44.  The sets have cute themes, like this flamingo swimsuit pack:

There's also a ballet outfit:

And a birthday dress with a heart-shaped balloon that reminds me of the ily 4EVER girls:

The set I chose has a bedtime theme and features a lot of unicorns!

My First Barbie bedtime accessories, $9.99.
The set came in a simple blister pack, with the items supported by molded plastic:

The back of the package has a cartoon of the three characters together, all wearing their original outfits:

All of the items were easy to de-box except for the nightgown, which was held in place by some tiny plastic ties.

The set includes five items: a nightgown, a pair of shoes, a sleep mask, a donut on a plate, and a stuffed unicorn head:

The donut caught my attention first because I love miniature food!

This is actually two separate pieces.  The donut attaches to the plate with three sturdy peg-and-hole connection points:

It's a bit fiddly to align the pegs and holes in order to get the donut onto the plate, but it stays in place pretty well.

The pieces are small, and would be a choking hazard for really little kids, but the detail here is nice and I like that the donut isn't permanently affixed to the plate.

I cut the huge tag off of the unicorn pillow so that we could get a good look at it:

I'm not sure it's even meant to be a unicorn pet.  I think maybe it's another donut snack with a unicorn face decoration.  There's some frosting and sprinkles printed onto the top, and a faint hole in the middle.

I really like the unicorn slippers and sleep mask:

The shoes are hard to slide on over Renee's squishy feet, but they look cute:

The mask fits securely with a peg-and-hole closure that feels like it will stay put:

The unicorn eyes on this mask are a little askew, but Renee doesn't care!  She's already fast asleep on her pillow:

Poor Renee can't interact with these fun accessories very well, since she can't really hold anything.  She had to balance the donut on her wrist!

A donut corsage.
But keep in mind, Renee's arms (and especially her hands!) are extremely flexible, so when a child is playing with her, she can bend into all kinds of poses that there's no way she can demonstrate by herself in front of my camera.

And of course she can always carry her unicorn donut pillow by the ribbon handle:

And I can use clear rubber bands to help her eat that yummy-looking donut snack:

This is basically the end of the review.  Except you've met me...and you know what's coming next.  If you are a parent reading with a small child, this might be a good time to skip to the end.

I felt like I really needed to know what was under all of that vinyl.  How sturdy are the click joints?  What's the structure of the torso like?  Are there hollow areas?  Is the vinyl thin or fragile?  So many questions.

Well, the surgery was more of an undertaking than I thought it would be.  The vinyl was easy to strip away from the arms and legs, but it was adhered to the torso with fierce stubbornness.  And the torso was almost 100% vinyl in some places, which I did not expect!  No wonder Renee is (was) so heavy:

What the heck, Emily.
Her armature is a lot like a human skeleton in the end, with skinny arms and legs, a plastic pelvis and backbone to connect everything, and then a strange ribcage-like area in the upper chest.

Her little stick legs crack me up:

With high-heeled feet and everything!
I was surprised to discover that the armature goes all of the way down into her feet, but you can see why there's no way she can stand on her own!  The armature gets incredibly narrow and bendy at the bottom.

In contrast, the armature stops at Renee's wrist and does not go into her hand at all.  That's the part that I worry could poke through the vinyl:

However, after wrestling with the vinyl for quite a while, I realize that it's unexpectedly strong!  Maybe the hands will be fine.

Poor Renee's torso is pretty gruesome.  The mangled bits of vinyl that were hard to remove look a bit too much like dissected muscle to me:

Takes me back to my anatomy lab days.
But for some reason the upper torso is perfectly clean and has a little Barbie silhouette on it!

My mom is here visiting, and she was curious about the skeleton-like armature, too (now I know where my morbid curiosity comes from).  So I took one more crack at cleaning up the chest area and managed to expose more of the structure:

It really is like a skeleton!  And it's interesting to see how much more flexible the armature is than the actual doll.

The whole thing also reminds me a bit of a stick insect. 

My First Phasmid.
I explored the head articulation as well, to see if the little bit of side-to-side movement in Renee's head is intentional, but the entire (complicated!) head peg structure is rigid and unmoving:

So I guess Renee's head can shift around on one part of that structure and the side-to-side movement is a fluke.

Anyway, I feel a little guilty for sacrificing Renee to science, but I learned a few valuable things:

1. The torso on these dolls is basically solid vinyl, with a bit of plastic skeleton inside.  This means that with the exception of Renee's head, there's not really anywhere for water to collect and cause mold.  So you could wash a My First Barbie body without worry--as long as you keep the head dry.  This is great news given how quickly the vinyl collects dust and dirt.

2. The click joints look quite robust, and they have a ton of anchoring pegs to stabilize the vinyl.

3. It was difficult to dismantle Renee's body, which gives me some confidence about its durability.

4. Now I really appreciate how great Renee looks with her skin in tact!

Bottom line?  I was excited when I first saw this doll because I love the idea of a Barbie in the larger 13-inch scale.  Never mind little kids and their developing dexterity, I have my own trouble fiddling with tiny clothing and accessories on 11-inch fashion dolls sometimes.  I find the larger dolls easier to manage--and often more impressive, too.  I would have loved to see a 13-inch Barbie with a plastic body, tons of articulation, and trendy, multi-piece outfits.  But of course the My First Barbie line was not developed to cater to my needs or wants, so I have to channel my inner preschooler in order to give this doll a fair assessment.

The biggest innovation here is that Renee has a body that is entirely covered with skin-like vinyl. She doesn't have any visible joints, and while her torso is rigid, solid vinyl, her arms and legs are very flexible--so flexible, in fact, that she there's no way she can stand on her own.  I don't want to go so far as to say Renee is cuddly, but her body design makes her more malleable than plastic dolls and toys.  I can see how this would be appealing to a small child.  Not only does Renee's vinyl feel soft to the touch, but her pliable limbs might even make her a reasonable bedtime companion.  I mean, she doesn't have rigid arms that could poke a kid's eye out or anything like that.  However, the all-vinyl body makes this doll quite heavy, which could be cumbersome for a kid.  As an adult, I'm not wild about the soft vinyl covering.  I think it looks good, but it limits the articulation, attracts a lot of dust, and increases friction all over the body, which would make dressing this girl in anything other than simple frocks extremely difficult.

As it is, dressing Renee is quite easy.  Yes, the vinyl all over her body means that the clothing doesn't slide smoothly on, but the dresses are so simple that it barely matters.  Both Renee's original dress and the unicorn nightgown are loose-fitting, one-piece garments that open all of the way down the back and have thick, stiff strips of velcro that are easy to close.  Within the confines of the simple design, the clothing does a nice job of being colorful and cute.  And the fabric does not seem to leave stains, which is good because it's hard to avoid staining with all-vinyl dolls.  Also, of the outfit options I've seen, none of the themes are inappropriate for preschool kids.  However, because keeping the clothing manageable puts limitations on the design, all of the dresses end up looking very similar to me.  I'm also not a fan of the cheap fabric and printed purses and pockets, but can see how these choices are well-suited to the intended audience.  Renee's shoes are harder to use than her dress.  I struggled to jam the boots onto her squishy feet.  However, tight shoes are less likely to fall off and get lost, so--again, I understand the reasoning here.

Renee's other accessories are a mixed bag.  The pet friends look more like purses or pillows than actual animals, and their cheap construction, large tags, and silly ribbon handles further alienate them from me.  I like some of the smaller plastic accessories, though, like the colorful donut and plate set.  I'm also impressed by how well the unicorn sleeping mask fits (and stays on!), and I think the sunglasses are fun and relatively easy to use.  A word of warning here is that several of these items are quite small, and would be choking hazards to a very young child.

Renee's face and hair are what initially attracted me to her, and they are still my favorite features....and literally the only things that are left in tact on my doll.  I think Renee has a lovely, friendly face.  She looks younger than a regular Barbie, with large eyes and no makeup.  Her hair is also nice, although it tends to get stuck to her vinyl body.  The hair fiber is easy to brush, feels good, and is rooted well.  The length also seems appropriate to me: long enough to be fun to style but not so long that it gets instantly tangled.  It's also helpful that the set comes with a brush that's large enough to be effective, with a bulky handle that'd be easy for a child's hand to grip.

I like the idea of a Barbie doll geared towards a younger audience, and I think Mattel did a good job of adapting their traditional design for this purpose.  As advertised on the box, Renee is easy to dress, with nice hair and a unique soft vinyl body.  The current $14 price feels like a good bargain for such a large doll, too.  Parents might get tired of washing the dust off this doll, but I can imagine kids having a lot of fun with her.  And somehow, despite her being quite different from the highly-articulated or collectable dolls that tend to attract me, and being designed without anyone like me in mind, this doe-eyed girl managed to turn my head, too.


  1. Thank you for reviewing this line!! I've been keeping a curious eye on the My First Barbies specifically because I'd heard that the Junior Rainbow High dolls can wear their shoes, lol. I might have to try to grab one on sale to see if that's true.

    I'm generally happy to see them trying to make a line that's a bit more friendly for little hands, though! Growing up, my younger sibling was always a bit sad to not be allowed to have Barbies at the same time I did. I think the only Barbie they had for a while was this plush-bodied sleepover-themed doll? I only vaguely remember it, but I don't think the intention was for it to be a "My First" like these ones. These might be a good gift for a younger sibling/cousin/etc who isn't quite ready for a standard doll.

    I don't have kids, so I don't know if it'd be safe to do unless you 100% knew your child wouldn't be chewing on the doll or anything, but I wonder if some corn starch could help with the stickiness? That was always the go-to suggestion back in my days on Blythe doll forums for getting tights or tricky boots onth

  2. Good Lord was that picture a jump scare lmao

  3. i've seen enough vinyl doll armatures but the barbie logo on her skeleton really had me giggling lol

    it's been a while since i or anyone in my immediate family was a preschooler, but i'm not too sure about the long-term success of this line. it's nice to see a more substantial barbie with the nostalgic click joints, but i feel like everything else my first barbie has is already present in the current fashionistas. most have very light, if not no makeup, the clothes usually have long velco strips, the bodies have less joints meaning less points of breakage, and i'd argue that the current standard barbie body mold is also very youthful with the exception of maybe the bust.

    the current age of children playing with barbie is already so young compared to just a decade ago, would the larger size, cutesy accessories, and click joints be enough for parents to choose my first barbie when barbie already offers the diverse fashionistas or the gimmicky and whimsical color reveals who are also pretty wholesome?

  4. Eek, the dissection! Great and funny review! I love this scale of doll, just a little bigger than a typical Barbie. This doll looks very fun for younger kids and seems like she would hold up pretty well to rough play. The material does have its drawbacks but I think will be appealing to a lot of kids. I don't quite agree with your comment saying she's not wearing makeup, though I see where you're coming from— to me she looks like she's wearing makeup, just a more casual makeup than many (the majority of?) fashion dolls. Not colorful or flashy, but there, you know? It's hard to say for sure what the intention was since she is a cartoon character. And I do agree about the clothes being quite underwhelming (though suitable for very young children's doll games). I really liked getting to see how her joints worked even if the dissection was rather gruesome. Thanks for the review, I was wondering how these dolls were different than standard Barbies.

    1. Hmm, coming back to this review again, same commenter. I wonder if Moxie Teenz clothes would fit?

  5. "My First Phasmid"

    Bless you for that, you made my day XD

  6. As soon as you mentioned click joints, I knew Renee didn't stand a chance! It's nice to know that she is sturdy if not standable.

    I wonder if the squirrel and other hanging accessories are supposed to be very simple stuffed animals? Almost like the Mooshka dolls.

  7. Ahh I was wondering what the “soft” body advertising meant! Was hoping for something plush/cuddly lol but still, Renee is adorable and seeing her inner armature is fascinating! :)

  8. Thank you again for a great review!

    I want one of these because I like the heavy and soft feeling of a vinyl doll rather than the plastic fashionistas. The large size and sweet faces are also very appealing. But the awkward posing and the cheap looking outfits are totally a drag! I know they’re for preschoolers, but I think the outfits could have been a little nicer. Dolls like American Girl or Our Generation are vinyl, but non sticky. For $20 for a My First Barbie, or $60+ for a Wellie Wisher, I’m not sure which is the better doll for a preschool age child. I would also have liked to see flat feet on this doll since it’s representing a younger character.

    Thank you for dissecting her, it is totally scary looking but if you hadn’t done it we never would have seen that adorable Barbie chest plate! Did you save her head? Would she look weird on a MtM body? She could be a bit of a Blythe-esque hybrid!

  9. I think you chose wisely, she certainty is the prettiest of the bunch . . . well that was my thinking until you unveiled the creature from the black lagoon!! ROFL!
    Thanks for showing us all the ins and outs in this review.
    Big hugs,

  10. Man, you could make some crazy custom cyborg dolls with that stripped armature! So interesting--thank you for the sacrifice!

    Intact Renee's face and hair remind me a lot of young Jennifer Connelly as Sarah in "Labyrinth"!

  11. I'm reading this right before going to bed, so thank you for the nightmare fuel, Emily! :-D That's definitely the most gruesome dissection you've done lol. What did Lena think of it?

    My mom never gave me Barbies as a kid, I guess because of the emphasis on figure, etc. (which was just as well with me; the only dolls I ever really cared about having were bigger huggable ones like American Girl). Barbie did a great job of making these "First" dolls youthful and wholesome looking (no offense to Miss Lena, of course! ). I can kind of imagine my mom letting me have one of these.

    Rebecca Z

  12. I picked Teresa up awhile ago for my son, I can attest that they're great for 4 year olds (and nosy 22-month-old sisters) to play with and dress/undress on their own. We now have all the characters and accessory sets since the prices dropped, and many hours have been spent playing Barbies without the risk of being stabbed by hard plastic fashion feet.

    I'm surprised you didn't end up making this a comparison review with the My First Barbies of the 80s! I remember having a couple of those to play with passed down to me from an older cousin, and having a good time with them even though I was more into stuffed animals and baby dolls.

  13. Re the plastic ties in the head - after cutting the doll free I used to try and pull the spikes out with tweezers, and by accident found that you can just push them back into the head - much simpler!

  14. Oh my, Emily, hahaha. That skeleton. I also bought Teresa and Barbie (the bangs look cute after you wash them), and I really love the heavy and big body and how „the skin“ feels. But they are tricky to dress cause of the sticky vinyl. And I wonder if there will be more fashion packs, even I doubt it, cause I think this line will be a one hit wonder. Another thing I wonder about is that they advertise them as easy to dress for small kids….hmm, most of us dolly people had Barbies in their childhood and I never heard that someone had problems to dress their 80s/90s Barbies. I think they underestimate kids a bit.

  15. Oh my, I LOVE them! Thank you for the review, I have not heard about them before. I might pick up one or two for my daughter in advance:) (ok, she is 6 weeks old, so what? ;)

  16. I was happy to see you review this line - though maybe not quite as happy to see you dissect one! I purchased Renee, Teresa, and Brooklyn back in January when my local Walmart was rennovating the entire store and had these and many other toys on a deep discount. I really like the larger size and heaviness of these Barbie dolls. I think that my daughter would have liked these when she was little. These are unique - falling somewhere between a baby doll and a fashion doll. Since I’m not a preschooler I didn’t like the babyish dresses, so I redressed mine. I dressed mine in a combination of Ken clothes and oversized Barbie Extra clothes. I did have to use some cornstarch on the legs to get the pants on. And now I really like them. I hope Mattel continues the line and produces more of these unique Barbies.

    - Korglady

  17. Do you know the Isobelle Pascha dolls designed by Ashley Wood? They are pricey as they are limited edition artist toys, but I would love one day to read a thorough review of their posing and overall quality.

  18. Lammily dolls also have internal click joints in the elbows, and for some reason I thought you had reviewed one of those, a long while back. Anyhow, I like the idea of soft hands and feet on a Barbie for little kids, 'cause that will stop kids from accidentally stabbing themselves or a sibling. I howled when I saw the doll skeleton--luckily my kids were in the other room!

  19. I don't see the point of these dolls. I'm not even talking as a collector, but as an aunt of preschool children. Her scale makes her incompatible with any fashion doll that could share clothes. Still, she is not that easy to dress because of friction. Budget fashionistas with baggy clothing are much better at that. Printed clothes are also great for small children. As for the "soft" factor, this idea was better executed before. A great example are bedtime Barbies. I have one from 2012 with rubber limbs and upper torso and a stuffed fabric lower torso. Her limbs don't have internal joints, but they are very bendy - and not as sticky as legs with click knees! She is indeed soft and huggable, although me being me I added a wire spine and I'm turning her into a tightlacing doll.
    The way you describe Renee, her construction seems identical to Jakks Pacific Paradise/Picket fence dolls, though they could hardly be more different in terms of style and intended audience. I was curious about them but definitely had a shock when I touched them for the first time. I didn't expect them to be so chew-toy-like! Well, at least thanks to you, I don't have the urge to dissect one of them...

    1. They will fit 1/6 yosd, so a standard bjd clothing size for most of etsy/ebay. Obviously forgiving fits - lolita or boxy -are your best bet. You /may/ be able to get them into an oversized dress for curvy if it fits the moana or luisa from encanto dolls. Paola Reina tends to be swimming in fabric. (Source: I hated and replaced the clothes)

  20. That bedtime set is adorable!

    I admit to having an 'Emily, oh no!' moment when you warned any parents to scroll on quickly, but wow, what a neat look at her skeleton! Before you finished skinning her, her torso was indeed grim, though I was very amused by the big ol' logo on her chest!