Showing posts with label Journey Girls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Journey Girls. Show all posts

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Goodbye, Toys Я Us

For a while I thought that my beloved Toys 'R' Us store in South Portland would stay open while other branches around the nation closed...but it looks like all Toys 'R' Us locations are closing or being sold, and even the website has been shut down to future orders.  It's officially the end of an era.

I didn't want the occasion to pass without doing something, so I decided to take a few trips to the store and bask in the feeling of being in such a large space, entirely surrounded by toys.  I don't know when I might get that feeling again.

I visited two weeks ago (before the closeouts started) and then again this Friday.  I bought a few things that I'll review really quickly today, and a few other things that will get bigger reviews in the near future.  I'll mostly just pretend that you were there shopping with me, and show you what caught my eye as I wandered through the familiar aisles for the last time.

I'll start with a picture that I took last summer.  This is the temporary Toys 'R' Us that was set up in Times Square for the holidays:

Temporary Toys 'R' Us branch in Times Square, 2017.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Disney's Rapunzel from Tangled: The Series

Over the years, I've chronicled my increasing frustration with the Disney Store and its Classic Princess dolls.  My problem with the company centers primarily around their inability to design functional and durable knee joints.  That was not a huge deal back when the dolls cost $13, but now that the prices have crept up and the limbs have gotten more fragile...I think it's a big deal.  In fact, I was so exasperated with this trend that I decided to stop reviewing Disney Store dolls altogether.  But--as many of you know--I made an exception to that rule when the live action Belle doll was released last spring.  My love for the Belle character inspired me to try and take a fresh-eyed look at the doll.  Sadly, even when I ignored Belle's predictably bad knees, she still disappointed me in other ways.  I figured that review would surely mark my last Disney Store purchase.  Wrong again!

Back in May, during my Bratz Secret Date review, Sév and Dmitry encouraged me to consider the Disney Store's 10.5-inch Tangled:The Series version of Rapunzel.  They told me that this doll has a completely new body, with--wait for it--a new knee joint design.  I've literally been waiting five years to write those words.  Not only that, but it's a Rapunzel doll, and I love Rapunzel even more than I love Belle.  So, I broke my promise to myself one more time and bought another Disney Store doll:

review
The Disney Store's Rapunzel from Tangled: The Series, $19.95.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Every Girl "Maia" by Paola Reina America

You might remember that about a year ago the Spanish doll company Paola Reina expanded to include a distributor in America.  At that time, I jumped on the opportunity to review two of the new dolls--Marta, a 23.6-inch Las Reinas de Paola beauty, and Amor, a smaller 15.7-inch Soy Tu cutie.  As much fun as I had choosing and reviewing Amor and Marta, I remember wishing that there had been a group of 18-inch dolls to choose from.  I really like collecting 18-inch dolls and making comparisons between the ever-increasing number of options in this popular scale.  Also, with all of the outfits and accessories available for this size of play doll, it makes a lot of strategic sense for a company to have an 18-inch option available--especially a company like Paola Reina that is already manufacturing such an impressive range of doll sizes and styles.

Well, someone at Paola Reina must have had similar thoughts way before I did, because this year a new collection of 18-inch Every Girl dolls was added to the Paola Reina America family.  Right now, the Every Girl collection has five dolls--including a little boy named Unai.  As tempted as I was to have a boy in my 18-inch doll collection, I couldn't resist the redheaded Maia and her nautical-themed dress.  As the weather in Maine gets warmer and warmer, my thoughts turn increasingly to the ocean...and little Maia fits perfectly with this frame of mind:

Every Girl "Maia" doll by Paola Reina, $104.99 CDN (~$85 USD).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Our Generation Retro Doll "Joy" by Battat

At this time of year, I like to walk through the aisles of the toy stores in my area and pick out the dolls and accessories that I think would make the best gifts.  I don't have many doll lovers on my actual shopping list this year, but I still like to see what new items are in stock for the holidays and choose my favorites.  Most of the time I just make a mental note of the items I like best, but this year I purchased a few of my selections so that I could share them with you here on the blog.

I have been keeping a close eye on the 18-inch play dolls that are available near me (Journey Girls, My Life As and Our Generation).  While all of these brands have something new to offer for the holidays, Battat's Our Generation line is by far the most appealing to me.  I feel great about purchasing dolls from this company because I know that they use only recycled and recyclable materials in their packaging, they promote charitable work, and they avoid using harmful chemicals in the production of their dolls.  I also think that the Battat dolls are very attractive and well-made for their reasonable price.  Furthermore, whenever I am visiting my local Target store, the Our Generation section always seems to have the most constant stream of young admirers.

Today I'll show you my favorite new Our Generation doll...along with an outfit set that I thought would go really well with her:

Our Generation Retro Joy
Our Generation Retro Doll "Joy," with pieces from the "Winter Wonder" outfit pack.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

New "My Life As..." Dolls from Walmart

What a week this has been!  I apologize for not being present in the comments section recently, but I have been reading and appreciating every comment--or at least every comment that isn't spam (did you guys see those crazy ones last week?  Whoa).  There have been a few minor changes here on the blog that I'd like to mention.  First, I had to shorten the format of my feed as part of a time-consuming battle against someone stealing my content.  What a drag.  However, on a positive note, I am on Twitter now (@ToyBoxEmily) and am paying attention to my poor neglected Facebook page (about time, right?).  So that's all good.

Anyway, last week I was working on a different review when I got an email from Nonna (of Mommy's Doll Club).  She told me about the new My Life As dolls at Walmart and asked if I had seen them.  I actually did see these newcomers during my Sparkle Girlz quest, but dismissed them pretty quickly because I wasn't crazy about the new faces at first.  Nonna bought one of the new girls (a redhead!) and made some neat observations, tempting me into purchasing my own doll for a closer look.  At the same store where I bought my doll, I found another exciting My Life As release that I will show off at the end of the review.

I never would have written this review without Nonna's tip, so I want to start the post by having her share some of what she found with her doll (My Life As a Party Planner, redhead), before I review the doll I chose (My Life As a School Girl, brunette).  Thank you so much for the inspiration, Nonna, and congratulations on your beautiful new blog!

New My Life As doll, "School Girl" (left) and older My Life As doll, "Outdoorsy Girl" (right).

Friday, August 22, 2014

Doll Durability: American Girls, Journey Girls and Hearts for Hearts Dolls--A Guest Review!

My next guest reviewer, Emma, emailed to ask if she could write a piece on how some of her larger-scale dolls have weathered a few years of play.  I think this is a brilliant idea.  I am always reviewing new dolls right out of the box, but that's only the first step in determining quality.  I think that the durability of a play doll over time is the true test of its worth, and this is something that I would really like to learn more about.

Not only was Emma's review idea great, but I think you'll agree that she's done a nice job of summarizing her experience with three popular brands of doll: American GirlHearts for Hearts and Journey Girls.  I am very grateful to Emma for her hard work, creativity, and professionalism in bringing this new dimension to the blog.

This topic is so interesting to me that I hope many of you will contribute your own experiences in the comments section.  I am very curious to know how other well-loved dolls have stood the test of time.  In fact, I'd love to get some photographs of your older dolls (which you can email to toyboxphilosopher@gmail.com) so that I can add them to the bottom of this review.  If we keep this discussion limited to the 18" scale dolls that would be great, but I will think about ways to add "Doll Durability" posts as a recurring feature.  That's enough chatter from me--I am excited to sit back and hear what all of you have to say on this subject.  Take it away, Emma!

American Girl dolls of various ages.

Friday, July 11, 2014

"Saila Qilavvaq" by Maplelea Girls

Maplelea Girls are 18 inch dolls that represent girls from several of Canada's diverse provinces and territories.  The dolls are designed to be durable companions, but also to educate children about the geography and culture of Canada.  These dolls were introduced in 2003 by Avonlea Traditions.  This company got its start by producing Anne of Green Gables merchandise, but has since sold that franchise and is solely focused on the Maplelea Girls.

Maplelea Girls are sometimes referred to as "Canadian Girls," probably because they are the rough equivalent of American Girl dolls.  There are six Maplelea characters who have distinct personalities, cultural backstories, and themed accessories.  This collection is similar to American Girl's historical lineup.  There are also "Maplelea Friend" dolls that parallel the My American Girl collection.  These dolls have a range of physical feature options, but don't come with pre-set character traits.  While American Girl places a large focus on their in-store buying experience, Maplelea Girls can only be purchased online from the Maplelea website.

I have been eyeing the Maplelea Girl website for over a year, but it has taken me a while to buy a doll and write this review.  My problem was not choosing a doll--I knew instantly that I wanted Saila, the Inuit girl from Nunavut.  Her story and appearance are incredibly unique in the doll world, and her name reminds me of someone special in my life.  My biggest hesitation has been the fact that there are already several excellent reviews of this doll.  Doll Diaries has a great collection of posts about Saila, and Maple Leaf Mommy has a review that features some magical pictures of her young daughter toting around this beloved doll friend.  I figured I could contribute to this review mix by doing some comparisons to American Girl, showing you a few of Saila's extra outfit pieces, and of course addressing my usual hangup: articulation.  My biggest reason for buying this uniquely beautiful doll, though, was that I simply wanted her in my collection:

Maplelea Girls "Saila" doll
Inuit doll, "Saila," by Maplelea Girls.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Maru and Friends Doll, "Savannah"

Maru and Friends offers a small collection of 20 inch, high-quality, all-vinyl play dolls.  The dolls were created by Maritza Gutierrez with the idea of putting beautiful, realistic, culturally diverse dolls into the hands of children.  The central character, Maru, is described as a Latina girl who moved to America in search of a better life.  Maru has found some wonderful new friends to give her support and help ease the transition into her new situation.  These friends (Jamie, Savanna, Raven and Tanya) make up the rest of the doll collection.  Maru and Friends dolls can be purchased for $115 at the company's online store or at the Aventura Mall in Miami.  These dolls can also be found online for £109 at the lovely My Doll Best Friend shop in the United Kingdom.

I purchased my Maru and Friends doll almost a year ago and she has been waiting all of this time for her review.  I was tempted by all of the Maru and Friends characters, especially Maru herself, but I ended up (predictably) choosing the redheaded, blue-eyed Savannah:

Maru and Friends® doll, "Savannah"

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Grace" by Extra Special Dolls

There has been a lot of talk lately about the new Girl of the Year from American Girl.  Isabelle is a fair-skinned, blonde, hazel-eyed ballerina who likes to design clothing.  There's certainly nothing wrong with any of these traits (or with the doll--she's very cute), but there's also nothing at all exciting or new about Isabelle.  At first glance, she seems an awful lot like McKenna.  As a consumer, this doesn't bother me.  Since I only have one American Girl doll, I'm not relying on the Girl of the Year to add something new to my collection.  As an impassioned observer of the doll world, however, Isabelle is disappointing.  The Girl of the Year series seems like a wonderful opportunity to introduce a character that is surprising, timely or unique in some way.  Mattel could have done something to represent the incredible diversity of this country--while keeping the popular ballet theme.  I mean, just watch the wonderful documentary, First Position, and pick almost any of those amazing young women as an inspiration.

Anyway, I am bringing up this topic not because I want to upset people or spark a debate, but simply because I want to draw a contrast and explain my rationale for this review.  Discussions about the lack of diversity in the Girl of the Year series made me think about doll diversity on a larger scale.  This thought process led me to discover a new 18 inch play doll that represents a minority I have never seen portrayed in the doll world before.

Meet Gracie, a doll designed to resemble a child with Down syndrome:

Extra Special Dolls Grace
"Grace" by Extra Special Dolls.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Journey Girls "Dana" by Toys R Us

In my part of the world, there are four inexpensive and readily available 18" play dolls that provide an alternative to the more expensive options like American Girl, My Twinn and Carpatina.  Target offers the Our Generation line by Battat, Walmart sells the My Life As dolls by Madame Alexander, AC Moore has the Springfield Collection girls, and Toys R Us carries the Journey Girls line.   I have reviewed the Our Generation dolls and looked at a My Life doll, and have been eager to see how these dolls compare to the Journey Girls.  When I'm browsing at the store, the Journey Girls always stand out to me because of their vinyl torsos, expressive faces and pretty eyes.

There are seven Journey Girl characters to choose from and they sell for just over $30 each.  I have had my eye on Kelsey (the green-eyed redhead) for a year or two, but it was actually the smiling, bespectacled Dana who finally tempted me to make a purchase:

Journey Girl "Dana," by Geoffrey, LLC (Toys R Us).