Thursday, June 6, 2024

Super Creator Happy Meals Kitchen Kit by Rolife

Back in the earlier days of Toy Box Philosopher, I had a project series with a few multi-part articles documenting my efforts with a doll-related art project.  I think there were only two installments, The Saskia Project and The My Twinn Project.  The My Twinn Project, in which I tried my hand at restoring and repainting My Twinn dolls, blossomed into an obsession that lasted for years, and even resulted in a new blog.  I'd love to get back into repainting those dolls someday, but there's just too much going on right now.

However, I still sometimes find myself in a crafty or artistic mood, and am often looking for outlets.  One of my kids has recently become fascinated by the wooden kits made by a company called Rolife.  These kits are apparently very satisfying to assemble, and result in some beautiful pieces (things like clocks, book nooks, dollhouses, and music boxes) that are a manageable size and great for display.  You can see examples on the Rolife website.

I went to browse the wooden kits myself one day, thinking I might try one, and I noticed a newer line called Super Creator.  The Super Creator sets are plastic kits that snap together to make a single diorama-like dollhouse room or shop.  I love dioramas and dollhouses, so these kits are very appealing to me.  One thing that was unclear, though, is what the scale of the kits was, and which dolls might be able to use the rooms.  That left me curious.  So, I decided to buy one of the rooms, build it, and then let some of my dolls test it out:

Littles Pet Shop Blythe doll in the Happy Meals Kitchen by Rolife, $43.99.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Girls of Many Lands from American Girl

I've always enjoyed vintage and discontinued dolls.  They can evoke tender feelings of nostalgia, a sense of wonder over the passage of time, or just seem hilariously funny in their outdated features.  I feel like I've gotten more interested in older dolls recently, perhaps because they remind me of the dolls that I had as a kid, or the brands that got me hooked on doll collecting as an adult.

Back in January I got a review recommendation from Rory involving older dolls.  Rory had recently found two nine-inch dolls in her parents' closet that she thought were from the early 2000s--around the time I started collecting dolls as an adult.  The dolls reminded her of Robert Tonner's aesthetic, which she knows I love.  She sent me a few photos of the dolls she found, and I was instantly intrigued.  They certainly resemble Tonner dolls, with their hand-painted faces, but they also looked distinctly like Helen Kish dolls to me.  And to deepen the intrigue, they're from the American Girl brand.  It should come as no surprise that within twenty four hours I'd purchased three of them.

Girls of Many Lands Isabel, by Pleasant Company (2002).

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Tea with Lena: 1:6 Scale Horses

I have animals on my mind most of the time.  That's in part because I have eleven of them living in my house, but also because I spend my days at work taking care of another hundred or so homeless creatures.  But I also just like thinking about animals, especially horses.  The impressive size and graceful movement of horses has always been spellbinding to me.  Realistic 1:9 model horses like those made by the Breyer company are able to capture a lot of the things that I find so beautiful about horses, and so I've always admired them (and also reviewed them a few times).  I was even more obsessed with Breyer models when I was a kid, and amassed a collection that covered an entire wall of my room.

Back in March, when I wrote the Horse Foal Surprise review, I was reminded of how much I enjoy model horses.  That inspired me to do some investigating into what 1:6 scale horse options are available these days.  And my research turned out to be timely, as you'll see, because of something exciting that happened to Lena.

Lena with Hanoverian Horse by JXK, $130.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

LULUPOP Dolls by SAMG Entertainment

Spring has definitely sprung here in New Jersey, with temperatures creeping into the 80s and lots of flowers everywhere.  The beautiful weather makes me eager to get back outside with my dolls, and that's on the agenda for next time, but today I want to share a review that I've been meaning to write since September of last year.

During one of my random browsing sessions on Amazon, I found a big-eyed fashion doll that I'd never seen before, from a South Korean brand called LULUPOP (also written "Lulu Pop").  The LULUPOP dolls are based on virtual K-pop idols, so there are a few full-length songs and music videos featuring the animated idols.  From what I understand, the dolls used to be available exclusively in Korea, but they made the jump to Amazon about a year and a half ago.

I'm always fascinated to explore brands from other countries, because they often have a new aesthetic or offer a window into a different culture.  In this case, the aesthetic looks very familiar, but the songs and videos definitely offer up something new and fun.  So, with high hopes, I purchased one of the girls, Tania, to see what the brand is all about:

LULUPOP Tania, by SAMG Entertainment, $25.99.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Diva Starz by Mattel

I'm excited to be sitting down to write this review for the second time!  As you might remember, last time around I realized I'd forgotten some important versions of the doll, and felt like I had to start over with a new approach.  Ordinarily, I wouldn't be concerned about creating such a thorough review of a brand, but these particular dolls hold an interesting place in the evolution of icons like Bratz and My Scene, so I felt like they warranted a more careful look.

So, who are the dolls?  They're Mattel's Diva Starz, a varied range of electronic-themed dolls that were first released in the fall of 2000.  The original dolls were designed to fit into a market that was obsessed with electronic pets.  For example, Furby, an interactive fuzzy creature made by Tiger Electronics, was at the peak of its popularity in the late 1990s, with more than 40 million units sold between 1998 and 2000.  The early Diva Starz had more in common with Furby than they did with most fashion dolls, but by the time they were discontinued in 2005, the dolls had gone through two major transformations and looked significantly different. 

In today's review, I'll look at all three main iterations of the Diva Starz, which means it's gonna be a long one!  So, settle in with your favorite beverage and take a trip down memory lane with me.

Fashion Diva Starz Nikki by Mattel, 2002.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Sunday Surprise: Horse Foal Surprise by Breyer!

Well.  These past two weeks haven't gone quite how I'd planned.  I've been working on a vintage fashion doll review, which is one of my favorite things to do, so that's been fun.  And I was pretty much on schedule, too, but then as I started to write the review, I hit a snag.  The problem is, my research into the brand made me realize that I was missing at least one, and probably two, important iterations of the doll.  So, I bought some more stuff and am waiting for it to arrive.  The delay shouldn't be too long, but it's been a while since my last review, so I decided to dig up a Sunday Surprise for you today!

As many of you know, one of my lifelong passions has been horses--especially Breyer model horses.  My blog friend Rebecca Z certainly knows this about me, and so a few years ago she suggested Breyer's Horse Foal Surprise sets as a possible review topic.  These sets include two Stablemate (1:32 scale) Breyer horse parents, and a mystery foal.  The really cool thing is that, according to the Breyer website, the foals are supposed to have some genetic realism, meaning that they have coloring and markings based on the combination of their parents.  Horses, surprises, and genetics?  I could not resist.

Horse Foal Surprise Set by Breyer, $9.99.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Blind Box Mermaids by Penny's Box and LuckyDoll

I was happy to read in the comments of the World Peacekeepers review that some of you are as excited about Lena and Ian's relationship as I am.  Lena doesn't really want me to talk too much about it here yet, but I can tell you that they've been chatting on the phone and have made tentative plans to get together again.  I hope the romance can stay alive without the beautiful sunsets of Culebra!

Speaking of Culebra, before we went on our trip, I hunted around for water-themed dolls that I could bring with me.  The best options were some blind box BJD mermaids that looked like they might be waterproof.  I've written a lot of reviews of this type of doll lately, namely the Street Series Adou boys and Natural Wonderland Antu girls from Penny's Box, and the Come4Free Bonnie dolls.  But I figured it couldn't hurt to explore one more style of blind box BJD.  

This time around I'm going to introduce a little competition into the mix by comparing the Penny's Box interpretation of a mermaid to similarly-sized mermaid characters from LuckyDoll.  This is a bit of a surprise-themed post since I'm not going to reveal which mermaids I got right away, but the timing didn't quite work out for a Sunday Surprise.  Nevertheless, here are the two contestants, still hidden away inside their boxes:

Tidal Secret Language by Penny's Box ($39.99) and Mermaid Chuchu by LuckyDoll ($29.99).

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

World Peacekeepers Sport & Adventure Diver by M&C Toy Centre

My husband and I had a huge amount of fun on our trip to St. John last February.  You might remember Lena's Spring Break posts from that trip, or the underwater photos of some Mattel mermaids.  We had such a good time, in fact, that as soon as we got home, we booked a trip for this February, hoping to re-create the magic.  Following through on that plan, last week we traveled to the small Puerto Rican island of Culebra, which is where I photographed my first Maru and Friends Mini Pal review back in 2017.  Culebra was rainy, but delightful, and of course I had Lena and a collection of doll friends along with me to share in the fun.

One of my guests was a World Peacekeepers Sport & Adventure scuba diving action figure.  The World Peacekeepers are primarily 1:6 military characters, similar to G.I. Joe.  Heavily-armed military dolls are not my thing, but fortunately there are also a few civilian offerings including police men, firefighters, athletes of various kinds, and even an astronaut.  The diving character's underwater theme seemed perfect for our island trip, and I also thought he was particularly handsome...something Lena whole-heartedly agrees with, as you'll see.

World Peacekeepers Sport & Adventure Diving figure, $19.99.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Keeping Up With Kurhn

It's been a few weeks since I've posted anything, mostly because my job uses up a lot of energy, but also because I've been taking some actual time off to relax and do silly things like hang with my dogs or play Tears of the Kingdom.  It's been nice.

Time off gives me a chance to reflect, too, and one of the things I realized is that I've been reviewing dolls for so long, some of the brands I looked at early on have changed and expanded significantly since my last check-in.  Kurhn dolls are a great example of this.  I first reviewed the Kurhn brand way back in 2013 with a two-part mini series that featured a basic Kurhn playset and a more expensive Glamorous Kurhn girl.  I was impressed with the brand back then, and planned a few follow-up posts, but got distracted by other things.

I was reminded of Kurhn dolls as I was packing up to move from Maine to New Jersey in 2020. I found a second Glamorous Kurhn that I'd apparently purchased at one point...and then completely forgotten about.  I was surprised by how nice she looked, and so instead of selling her, I brought her with me to the new house.  Then, about a year ago, I took some time to investigate the current Kurhn market.  That research led to several more purchases (of course) not all of which will fit into today's review.  Today I'll look at the new-ish Kurhn fashion dolls that caught my eye, like this adorable panda-themed Anniversary doll:

Little Panda 17th Anniversary Edition Kurhn doll, $21.50.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Kitchen Littles by Tyco

Happy New Year!  2024 is off to a good start around here.  At work, my heart is constantly warmed by the number of wonderful people who come in looking to adopt an adult cat.  I think five long-term residents of the shelter found their forever homes the other day, which is truly remarkable.  I'm also excited about the blog, even though I have less time to write.  There are some new dolls that I'm eager to look at, plus an assortment of vintage items--some of which were inspired by your excellent suggestions.

In fact, today's review was also inspired by a suggestion.  Back in October, when I reviewed MGA's Miniverse resin food kits, Becky'sTwinn asked in a comment if I'd ever heard of Tyco's Kitchen Littles--a series of 1:6 scale kitchen appliances, accessories, and food that were released in the mid 1990s.  I hadn't heard of the brand before, and so Lena and I immediately went to eBay to browse the offerings.  I'm a sucker for kitchen-themed toys, and Lena is eager to upgrade her kitchen, so before long we'd amassed an impressive Kitchen Littles collection:

Lena with an assortment of Kitchen Littles toys by Tyco (1995).