Showing posts with label Baby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baby. Show all posts

Monday, December 20, 2021

Patron Post! Small Wonder Sweet and Happy Babies by Madame Alexander

One of the things that's happening over on Patreon is that my generous Bear Hug Patrons get to select a doll for me to review!  They also get first refusal to purchase the discounted doll in the shop.  This is a great arrangement from my perspective because it encourages me to look at dolls that I might not notice otherwise.  I have two of these special reviews in the works so far, and this one seemed appropriate right now since we've just been talking about baby dolls.  Once I complete the review requests for my current Bear Hug Patrons, I'll open up that tier to new members.

I have 28 Patrons at the moment, which is just amazing.  I honestly wasn't sure if this experiment would work.  The somewhat random goal that I have in the back of my head right now is to reach 30 Patrons by the end of 2021, so if you're a regular visitor here and have a few bucks per month to spare, please stop by and join the fun! 

For today's Patron Post I'll be taking a look at two play babies from Madame Alexander's Sweet and Happy Baby collection.  This review is made possible by all of my wonderful Patrons, and was requested by Arin Ritchey.

Sweet and Happy Baby by Madame Alexander, $31.99.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Sunday Surprise: Baby Born Surprise Mini Babies (and more)!

Happy Sunday!  I have officially lived in New Jersey for one year today!  And I'm so much happier than I was on this day last year.  Last year I drove seven hours from Maine in my tiny Prius packed full with all of the remaining belongings from our old house, plus four stressed-out dogs and two small cats.  It was a long journey!  But here I am sitting on my couch typing up a surprise review, which, if you'd asked me a year ago, is not something I ever thought would happen again.

I really like surprise toys, and I especially like surprise mini babies.  I don't collect baby dolls in general anymore, so I'm not sure why babies are so appealing to me in a small scale--and especially with a surprise theme.  Maybe it's because babies bring several surprises with them in real life?  Or perhaps it's just because mini babies are great little toys, either on their own as something to nurture, or as a fun new addition to a doll family.

In any case, I've reviewed a few different surprise babies over the years, including Zapf Jolly Dollies and the unrivaled Cabbage Patch Babyland Mini Kids--which are still probably my favorite surprise mini of all.  But I wanted to see what kinds of mini babies are available on the market today, so I focused on this theme during one of my Target missions.  The first surprise baby toy I found was this one, by Zapf and MGA Entertainment:

Baby Born Surprise Mini Babies, $9.99.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Kuu Kuu Harajuku Dolls by Mattel

At the end of May I was looking at the new wave of Project Mc2 dolls on Amazon (apparently I can't stay away from those science girls!) when a recommendation popped up on my screen: Mattel's Kuu Kuu Harajuku dolls.  I had never heard of these dolls, but they looked really cute in the pictures.  At the time when I was shopping, there were three ten-inch fashion dolls and five four-inch mini dolls available.

The fashion dolls are a bit like a mash-up of Ever After High girls and Little Charmers (with big oval heads, round eyes and good-looking articulation), but they also have Japanese Harajuku-themed accessories...similar to the Shibajuku Girl dolls I reviewed back in December.

The dolls are based on an animated television show inspired by Gwen Stefani's 2004 Harajuku Girls song.  The show's five main characters, G, Angel, Music, Love, and Baby are based on Gwen Stefani and her four (controversial) Japanese backup singers from the Love. Angel. Music. Baby. album.  Dolls were made from each of the five main characters.  I chose to purchase large and mini versions of "G," the lead singer and alter ego of Ms. Stefani herself:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku "G" fashion doll ($19.99) and mini doll ($5.99).

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Family Corners by Mattel!

Some of my favorite Sunday Surprise dolls have been vintage items that are older than my kids.  The Jolly Dolly babies from Easter are a good example, as is one of my all-time favorite baby dolls: the Sweet e.Baby from 1999.  I like these older dolls because they offer secrets that have been hidden for decades, but also because they give a fascinating glimpse into the history of dolls in our society.

A few weeks ago I was talking about how Mattel has been making some modernizing changes to many of their doll lines.  Today I will go back in time and show you how this company was doing things in the early 90s.  The Family Corners dolls came out in 1994 and featured separately-sold male and female characters.  Kids could match up their favorite couple, stage a wedding, and then reveal a hidden baby doll.  I bought these dolls because of the secret baby (a fitting topic for Mother's Day...happy Mother's Day!) but what I actually find more interesting is how the presentation of this concept manages to be both socially restrictive...and also inspiringly open-minded.

Family Corners "Nicholas" and "Trista" dolls (1994).

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Happy Easter!

For more than a decade, Easter has started (bright and early!) in my house with an egg hunt and an epic treasure hunt.  I used to spend all Saturday making clues for the hunt...clues that my dynamic treasure hunting duo would solve in under an hour (baskets of candy are powerful motivators, I guess).  This year, with one kid off at college and the other with a new-found love for sleeping in on Sunday mornings...well, Easter is off to a quieter start.

I overcompensated for this change by trying to pack way too many things into today's Sunday Surprise.  I have an odd mix of surprise-themed things to share with you: some Li'l Woodzeez blind bag bobblehead figures, a Matryoshka nesting doll (with a mystery number of smaller dolls inside!) and some vintage Holly Jolly baby-filled eggs by Zapf Creation.

Matryoshka doll by Yankelus.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Saskia Project Conclusion

As you might imagine, life has been a little disorganized around here lately.  The same storm that put a branch through our roof actually left two more holes in the house, so we've had to replace the roof and do a few other maintenance things.  Next week the hole in my studio ceiling will be patched up, so I should be able to get back to normal soon after that.  The nice thing is that both our insurance company and our contractor are awesome, so things are about as good as they could possibly be given the circumstances.

With the roof construction underway, studio time has been scarce.  This offered me the perfect chance to finish up the Saskia Project, though, because I'd already assembled Saskia and taken a few pictures of her before the storm hit.  All I had left to do was snap a few photos outside in the sun--no studio necessary.  This should have been an easy thing to do, but there was one small problem: as much as I love this doll and as cute as she is in real life, she's not at all photogenic...especially outside.  I suspect this is mostly because I made her way too shiny with all of those layers of sealant.  I'm also not accustomed to photographing baby dolls.  They don't stand up on their own!

Anyway, in today's post I'll show you how I assembled Saskia and then share a collection of pictures that I took of her after she was finished.  To put these pictures in some perspective, I took over 500 snapshots of this doll...and only about 50 of them turned out.  Here's one of those 50:

"Saskia" reborn kit doll by Bonnie Brown (completed).

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday Surprise: Mommy-to-be Judith Dolls!

I realized yesterday that there are only two Sundays left until Christmas.  Two.  Can you believe that?  It took me totally by surprise.  It's much more typical that I'm waiting and waiting for Christmas, moping around the house because I feel like the big day will never come.  Things seem to be happening faster than usual this year for some reason.  Anyway, this realization threw me into a panic because I have a bunch of different Sunday Surprise toys that I wanted to chat about before the holidays, and now I can only look at two of them!

Today I want to show you something called the Mommy-to-be Judith doll.  This doll was developed in Europe (I think?) and introduced into the United States in 1991 (back when I was a kid).  There's not much information about these dolls on the internet, but there's a Chicago Tribune article from 1992 that's been archived online.  This article states that Judith is believed to be the first pregnant play doll distributed in the United States.  That's pretty cool!  Of course Mattel came along a decade later with their pregnant Midge doll, but the Judith Corporation was apparently first on the scene.

So why is Judith a good doll for the Sunday Surprise?  Well, because the gender and appearance of her little baby is a mystery!  And, what makes this doll unusually fun is that the company put boy babies in half of their dolls and girls in the other half (according to the Tribune article).  So I have an actual 50:50 chance of getting a little boy today!  Better yet, I'm going to de-box two Judith dolls, and while this won't change the odds of either baby being a boy...at least I have two chances.

Mommy-to-be Judith doll (1991).

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Saskia Project Update

My youngest son and I are on the road for a few days, driving all over the Northeast.  We spend a lot of time in each other's company at home, but we tend to stick to our routines.  We're hard-core homebodies and creatures of habit, he and I.  So, this trip is unusual for both of us, but it's so much fun!  I love road trips: chatting, listening to podcasts, eating too much food.  The only downside is that hotel-hopping leaves little time for blogging, and I've been really eager to show you my progress on the Saskia Project.  At the moment, my son is catching up on some homework, so it's the perfect chance to give you the scoop!

For anyone who stumbled on this post but isn't familiar with the Saskia Project, I'll give a quick recap: my idea for this project was to purchase and complete a reborn doll kit--something I've never done before.  These kits are popular (and can be expensive) and they only include the basic components necessary for making a baby doll.  For example, my kit included unpainted vinyl limbs, an unpainted and eyeless vinyl head, and an un-stuffed cloth body.  To successfully complete a reborn kit, a large investment of time and additional materials is necessary.  I was curious about how accessible (and expensive) this whole process would be for someone with very little experience.

In the first installment (which you can read here), I was able to find Saskia some glass eyes and paint her limbs and head.  After I painted her head, however, I got frustrated with her mouth and tried to erase most of the paint I'd applied.  This is how she looked at the end of the last post, with her arms and head perched on a drying rack (or rather a paper towel roll holder):

The Saskia kit by Bonnie Brown (partially completed).

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Surprise: A Mystery Reborn Baby!

I mentioned last week in my Saskia Project post that I've been anticipating the arrival of a surprise reborn baby for the past month.  I ordered this baby because I adore surprises, of course, but also because I was curious to see another reborn doll up-close.  I thought it might be helpful for me to see a reborn artist's work as I struggle with Saskia's paint.  This mystery baby arrived a few weeks ago and I finally opened the box on Wednesday.  It has definitely been helpful to look at how this baby was completed.  I'm also very grateful for the tips and encouragement from all of you!  I feel re-energized in my efforts to make Saskia as nice as possible.  Thank you.

For anyone arriving late to this party, I'll quickly explain what a surprise reborn doll is.  A reborn doll is a made-over play doll or a doll assembled from a kit.  Typical reborn kits include a blank vinyl head and limbs and perhaps an unfilled cloth body.  That's it.  Artists and collectors paint these kits, add eyes and hair, and assemble the parts onto stuffed, weighted bodies.  A surprise reborn baby is a completed doll offered for sale by a reborn artist, but all of the characteristics of the doll are left up to the artist to decide.  These qualities are kept secret from the buyer...to add a fun element of mystery.  So, I did not know this baby's gender, size or appearance until I opened the box!

I searched high and low for just the right surprise reborn doll.  There are many different options out there--both on eBay and on Etsy.  I spent a lot of time looking at artists' past work and reading their customer reviews.  I finally found a shop with good prices, good reviews, and a light-handed painting technique that I admire: Brenda's Reborns over on Etsy (Brendasreborns).  Brenda charges $130 for her surprise reborn babies, and also offers a large selection of custom dolls ranging from $130 to $300 (for a set of twins).  I told Brenda that there was no hurry, but I still received my baby quickly--about three weeks after I placed the order.

Surprise reborn doll by Brenda's Reborns ($130).

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Saskia Project

It's time for another project series!  I'm looking forward to this particular project because it addresses my very earliest adult doll interest: babies.  When I began to pay attention to dolls in my early twenties, it was the realistic baby dolls (from companies like Lee Middleton, Gotz and Zapf) that grabbed my heart--probably because I was ready to have real babies of my own.  I collected vinyl art baby dolls for many years, and even accumulated a few precious one-of-a-kind clay babies.

Right around the time that my doll preferences started shifting towards child and fashion dolls, the "reborn" phenomenon emerged.  The process of "reborning" (terrible word, if you ask me) originally involved taking an inexpensive play baby, like a Berenguer, and making it over to look more realistic.  The makeover could include a new coat of paint, new eyes, new hair, or even a new weighted body--many of the things I attempted in the My Twinn Project.  However, as reborning became more and more popular, several well-known artists and doll companies began offering unpainted doll kits (basically just vinyl heads and limbs) to replace play dolls as the starting point for this process.  I've re-painted and re-wigged a few $15 Berenguer play dolls in my day, but I've never purchased one of these premium doll kits...until now!

My mission in this series is to complete a popular doll kit--the "Saskia" sculpt by Bonnie Brown.  I will attempt to paint this doll, find her some nice eyes, micro-root her hair (ahh!  I am so nervous about this part!), assemble her onto a weighted body, and dress her to look cute (that part will be fun).   I can tell you already, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

"Saskia" by Bonnie Brown.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sunday Surprise: Sweet e.Baby From Playmates!

I've been having an incredible amount of fun hunting around for surprise dolls.  The really good ones are rare, but exhilarating to find.  I think the most intriguing examples I've found so far have been vintage items, many from the mid to late 1990s.  Today's doll, the Sweet e.Baby from Playmates Toys, is no exception to that rule.  This baby is from 1999 and features a computer CD containing...wait for it...the baby's secret gender and name!  Oh, yay!

I have no idea how I got lucky enough to find this gem.  I was browsing eBay for a Magic Nursery doll (coming soon!) and I stumbled on the auction for this little one.  I'd never seen this type of doll  before and I haven't been able to find another one for sale anywhere.  I paid $45, which seemed like a fair deal given the doll's scarcity.  I couldn't find any substantive information about this brand online.  There are two pictures of dolls in their boxes--but that's it.  It's almost like they never existed.

So, to put yourself in the mood for this review, think back (those of you who are old enough...) to 1999 and try to remember what the computer world was like back then.  That was the iBook "Clamshell" era for Apple laptops--when portable computers weighed 7 pounds.  It was before Stardoll, before Webkins, before Facebook.  1999 was also the heyday of Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin and Eminem.  It was the year The Matrix came out--along with Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace and The Sixth Sense.  It was before reality television, and in an age when kids were still excited about vinyl Pokemon figures.  With all of that in mind, let's travel back in time and uncover this mysterious baby's seventeen-year-old secrets:

Sweet e.Baby doll and CD from 1999.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Surprise: Cabbage Patch Kids Surprise Newborn Twins!

I have a long-standing fixation on toys with surprises or mysteries.  Things like Kinder Surprise eggs, for example, send me into fits of glee.  I love blind bag toys, vending machines and grab bag specials, too.  If a doll has a secret accessory or gift displayed in its box, odds are good that I'm going to want it.  Because of this obsession, I've decided to introduce a new feature to the blog.  It'll be called "Sunday Surprise" and will include short reviews of surprise-themed toys...on Sundays.  I might not be able to come up with one of these every single Sunday, but that'll be part of the surprise!  I already have a bunch of amazing toys that I can't wait to share with you.  This whole idea is beyond exciting for me, so I really hope you'll enjoy it, too!

My favorite kind of toy surprise is probably the mystery name of a doll.  You might remember how thrilling I thought the Cabbage Patch Babyland Mini dolls were with their little hidden birth certificates.  I can't believe that those cuties were on the shelves for such a short period of time.  I decided that the perfect toy to start this series would be another Cabbage Patch Kid mystery item: the Surprise Newborn Twins!

Cabbage Patch Kids Surprise Newborn Twins (discontinued) by Jakks Pacific.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chou Chou Birdies by Zapf Creation

I have reviewed several Zapf Creation dolls in the last year, including Little Princess Cinderella and Best Friend Sam--the toddler doll I found in Edinburgh.  Zapf is better know for their baby dolls, though, including the popular Baby Annabell, Baby Born and Baby Chou Chou lines.

The name "Chou Chou" comes from a French term of endearment.  The Zapf site says it means "darling," but I always thought it meant "cabbage."  The Chou Chou babies I have seen in the past have either been 8 inch mini dolls or more realistically-sized 19 inch babies.  To me, the most fascinating Chou Chou on the Zapf website is "My First Tooth," a baby who cries and goes red in the cheeks until you give her a binky, at which point she giggles and "grows" two bottom teeth.  The teeth are hysterically large, and (at least in pictures) make the baby look like she has a ferocious underbite.  Her crying and laughing sounds are very lifelike, though.

A few weeks ago at Toys R Us, I noticed a new line of 5 inch Chou Chou dolls called the "Chou Chou Birdies."  This is a visually appealing group of mini dolls that appears to be exclusive to Toys R Us.  The collection includes six plastic baby dolls, each dressed in her own owl-themed outfit and accompanied by a plastic owl figure.  The dolls cost $9.99 each:

Chou Chou Birdies "Jacky" (left) and "Candy" (right).

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Life in the Dreamhouse" Midge and "Happy Family" Midge by Mattel

Midge is one of a series of seven new Barbie dolls based on characters from the Life in the Dreamhouse online computer animated series.  The show is in its fifth season and can be watched free of charge at Barbie.com.  I watched several episodes before I started writing this review.  The frantic pace of the show took a little while for me to get used to, and the plots are hit or miss, but I found the series surprisingly entertaining.  For me, Midge and Raquelle are especially fun to watch (I love Midge's snorting giggle!).  What's funny is that even before I watched any Life in the Dreamhouse webisodes, Midge and Raquelle were the two dolls that appealed to me the most.

Mattel introduced the Midge Hadley character in 1963 as a way to offset Barbie's sexy image and give her a more well-rounded personal life.  Midge is Barbie's best friend from their fictional hometown of Willows, Wisconsin.  The first Midge doll was introduced over 50 years ago, but versions of this character have been relatively scarce through those years.  There were several reproduction vintage Midge dolls made during the last decade, but Life in the Dreamhouse Midge is the first modern version of this character to be offered since the controversial (often pregnant) Happy Family Midge was discontinued 10 years ago.  A fun, picture-heavy history of Midge dolls can be found here.

In this review, I will look at the new Life in the Dreamhouse Midge doll, but I'll also take a trip back in time to de-box the 2003 pregnant Happy Family Midge so that we can see how both the appearance and the backstory of this endearing character have changed.

Life in the Dreamhouse Midge
Life in the Dreamhouse Midge (2013), Happy Family Midge with baby (2003).

Friday, March 29, 2013

Crazed Dolls

This is less of a review and more of a window into the life of an obsessed doll collector.  The doll journey I have been on during the last few weeks is not really in keeping with my normal collecting habits, and yet it highlights some of the things I love most about this hobby--the rich history of doll-making, the incredible diversity of dolls available to us today...and a little bit of silliness.  Let me tell you what happened and what I learned along the way.

It all started with some friends giving me a gift.  These particular friends are aware of my doll obsession and still like me.  That's pretty great on its own, but to make things even better, these friends also have a fantastic sense of humor.  They saw this book at a local store and thought of me:

Creepy-Ass Dolls, by Stacey Leigh Brooks

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Summer Lila" and "Summer Lucas" by Salvador Berenguer for JC Toys

Based on the focus of this blog so far, you might be surprised to learn that I got my start as a doll enthusiast by collecting baby dolls.  Actually, to be perfectly accurate, I got my start as a doll enthusiast the moment I received Madame Alexander's baby "Victoria" as a gift from my grandmother.  Victoria and I were inseparable for the better part of my youth:

My mom made us matching outfits!
As an adult, baby dolls started to appeal to me again around the time I got a yearning for real babies.  Even after I had my two boys, baby dolls served as reminders of the most precious stages and expressions of my little guys.  As my kids got older, I moved into collecting Himstedt child dolls, but that stage couldn't last too long because Himsetdts are big and expensive.  These days, for whatever reasons, I am much more interested in fashion dolls.  It might have something to do with shelf space.

Despite not acquiring a lot of new baby dolls at this point in my life, I still retain many and strong opinions about these dolls.  Recently, someone asked my opinion on what would be a good realistic baby doll for an older child.  I had a great time thinking through the options.  For this special girl, I ended up recommending Zapf Vivian or Lilian, by master sculptor Cathariena Teunissen. The process got me pondering what the best realistic baby doll choices are for each price range and age group and I thought I'd start sharing my thoughts about this topic here.