Showing posts with label Spin Master. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spin Master. Show all posts

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Hatchimal Colleggtibles by Spin Master!

July has been a bit hectic so far.  My youngest son is off in another state doing a summer program, and so last week and next week will be mostly consumed by transporting him to and fro and visiting family along the way.  I always bring a few dolls along on these trips, in the hopes that there will be an outdoor photo opportunity, but the frequent (and exciting!) summery thunderstorm downpours have kept the dolls under cover.

I decided to tackle a smaller review in between all of this traveling and raining, but couldn't decide between the super-popular Hatchimal Colleggtible miniatures and the new L.O.L. Li'l Sisters surprise balls.  So, I've been working on both posts at the same time.  The Hatchimal review ended up being a little faster to photograph, so I'll share that today as this week's official Sunday Surprise.  However, the L.O.L. sisters will probably make an appearance well before next Sunday.

A hatching Hatchimal Colleggtible figure ($9.88 for 5).

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Little Charmers Posie and Lavender by Spin Master

A few weeks ago when I was on a research mission at Toys R Us, I walked through the Doc McStuffins aisle--something I don't always do.  The new wave of Doc McStuffins dolls are smaller and have more character in their faces, and so I wanted to get a few pictures of them for the Photo Mission.  I never actually got those pictures, though, because I was distracted halfway down the aisle by the appearance of a brand new type of doll.  There were three of these colorful newcomers, all of them oval-headed, huge-eyed, bright-haired sprites about 8 inches tall.  They're called the Little Charmers.

I had to do some research at home to learn more: the Little Charmers are characters from a Nickelodeon Junior television series that first aired in January of this year.  The show centers around three young witch friends from Charmville (Hazel, Posie and Lavender) who are learning how to control their magical abilities.  Full episodes of the series are available to view (for free) on the Nick Junior website.  I wish I'd know this before I paid $2 to watch the first episode on Amazon.  I prefer the characters, plots and and catchy music on Doc McStuffins, but Little Charmers is harmless fun and seems to be popular with preschool audiences.

One thing that keeps me from really connecting to the Little Charmers show is the animation style.  The main characters have extremely exaggerated features that look a little freaky to me, especially when the mouths are open.  However, the dolls--even though they're styled to look just like the cartoon characters--don't freak me out at all.  I think they're...well, I think they're utterly charming:

Little Charmers Lavender (left) and Posie (right).

Monday, September 2, 2013

La Dee Da Fairytale Dance "Cinderella and Prancie" Playset

I have reviewed La Dee Da dolls a few times before.  I wasn't too thrilled with my Runway Vacay Cyanne doll (her hair is very thinly rooted and her outfit simple) but I do enjoy my Dots of Style Dee's bright, rainbow hair and colorful outfit.  I seem to have a thing for rainbow hair.  I haven't followed the La Dee Da dolls very carefully since those two reviews, though, because I felt the line was somewhat dismissible.  The dolls are cute--but never struck me as special enough to hold my attention.  Well, my opinion changed when I saw the new La Dee Da dolls at Target the other day.

La Dee Da has two new groups of dolls so far this fall.  The first group I noticed is called Fairytale Dance.  I was interested in these dolls because I have been thinking about Ever After High and the new line of Fairy Tale High dolls and wondering why so many companies are getting into the fairy tale game all of a sudden.  Even Cutie Pops has a new princess-themed line.  I don't mean this as a complaint--I like fairy tale dolls because I am always optimistic that there might be a Cinderella character.  Much to my delight, there is a La Dee Da Fairytale Dance Cinderella (exclusive to Toys R Us), and what's even better is that she comes with a horse.  Eeee!

La Dee Da Fairytale Dance "Cinderella and Prancie."

Friday, August 2, 2013

Kawaii Crush "Katie Cat Meow Meow" Doll by Spin Master

I am always interested in what Spin Master is doing.  Even before this company produced my favorite play dolls--the Liv girls, they had me running all over Maine looking for that special, impossible-to-find Bakugan dragon for my boys.  Spin Master's latest doll line, Kawaii Crush, was announced at Toy Fair in February.  These anime-style dolls represent the trendy Japanese kawaii culture, epitomized by popular characters like Pokemon's Pikachu and Hello Kitty.  Kawaii means "cute" or "lovable" in Japanese and has taken on the secondary meaning of "cool."  Kawaii culture centers around everything looking cute--be it physical appearance, collectibles, jewelry, art, clothing...even vehicles and food.  For example, Lolita fashions, like those embraced by some of Groove's Pullip dolls, are common in kawaii style.  Kawaii merchandise seems to be very, very popular right now, and not just in Japan.  In Maine, I see a little bit of this craze...if only in the knitted animal hats that are being worn by people of all ages.  While I wasn't really captivated by the promotional pictures of the Kawaii Crush dolls, I assumed that these toys would be popular.  Spin Master seems to have their finger on the pulse of what's trendy, and a real a knack for making toys that fly off the shelves...at least initially.

Just so you know, it is very difficult for me to review these dolls objectively.  Although my rational brain totally understands that Spin Master didn't stop making Liv dolls in order to make Kawaii Crush figures, my emotional brain can't help but compare everything this company produces to my beloved, discontinued Liv girls.

Kawaii Crush "Katie Cat" and Liv "Katie."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Welcome Home, Sophie

I am up to my ears writing my next (really long--sorry) review, but I had to share this piece of news with all of you instantly.  You know I love Liv dolls, and maybe you remember that I have this strange desire to own all of the Liv Sophie dolls.  This obsession started when Spin Master released their second wave of Liv dolls, and I didn't think I should buy all of the characters again so soon.  I mean, the dolls look pretty similar from one wave to the next and they aren't free.  So, I decided to buy just Sophie from every wave, and then maybe other dolls now and again if there was one that really appealed to me.  That sounds almost reasonable, right?  Except that for some reason I decided that all of my Sophies should stay in their boxes.  This is edging towards the loony side of things, I realize, but once I embark on something, I find it difficult to stop.  So, I bought a Sophie from every wave and am keeping my Sophie army carefully stored in their boxes.  

Spin Master has made a lot of Sophie dolls.  Seventeen, to be precise (including the huge Sophie styling head).  I'll admit to feeling a little tiny bit relieved when the Liv line was discontinued, simply because there's not much room left in my house for more Sophies.

Some Sophies were harder for me to find than others, but really, none of the dolls posed much of a challenge except for one.  Girls Getaway Sophie evaded my searches and haunted my mind for over a year:

"Girls Getaway" Sophie with Sophie as Alice.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sophie in Wonderland...Out of Her Box

This post is for Pippa and Abby, who convinced me that my Liv in Wonderland Sophie should come out of her box.  You might remember from my older Liv in Wonderland post that I refused to take Sophie out of her box. This is for a strange reason--I wanted to own all of the Liv Sophie dolls (greedy) and keep them all in their boxes (strange).  Call it a way to preserve the evolution of the Liv doll if you want, but I think it was just a weird collecting obsession.  Anyway, this dream was crushed when Girls Getaway Sophie never made it to this country...or at least never made it to Maine, and so I couldn't get all of the Sophies.  Major bummer.

The other reason to take Sophie (who portrays Alice in this series) out of her box is that Alison from The Fashion Doll Review just published a new book which is called Alice Out of the Box.  So, you see, it had to be done--if only so that I could write this caption:

Alice out of her box with Alice Out of the Box.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

La Dee Da "Dots of Style Dee" from the Sweet Party Collection

After my first La Dee Da doll review, in which I examined the "Runway Vacay" Cyanne, I got the feeling that I might have chosen the wrong doll to exemplify this new line. I reviewed Cyanne mostly because she was one of only two dolls available online at the time.  To recap that experience, I was disappointed by Cyanne's thinly rooted hair, but learned that perhaps this is a necessity when creating up-dos with rooted curly hair.  Cyanne's nondescript style was also a point of criticism.  I found her tiny dress to be unimpressive, and she struck me as mundane, with a face and a theme I've seen many times before.  Last, I made no secret of the fact that I was disappointed by the lack of articulation and versatility in this line.

On the other hand, I did find Cyanne to be charmingly photogenic, and noted that several of the other dolls in the series appear to have more imaginative outfits, more interesting face paint, and more personality.  This got me wondering if I might have made a bad choice for my first La Dee Da doll.  I decided to re-assess these dolls with a fresh perspective.  This time, I selected my favorite doll in person, at a real store, where all of the dolls were in stock.  This was a surprisingly easy decision. Many of the dolls look similar to me, but a few stood out as special.  City Girl Dee is very appealing, and Runway Vacay Sloane and Tylie are distinct, but the uncontested show-stealer, in my eyes, is Sweet Party Dee:

Sweet-Party-Dee
La Dee Da Sweet Party "Dots of Style Dee."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

La Dee Da Dolls by Spin Master

Well, I got my hands on a few of the newest dolls from Spin Master.  These girls have been causing a stir since they were displayed at the Toy Fair in New York last February.  They are called "La Dee Da" dolls, named after Dee, who is the fashion-forward leader of the pack.  The name of the line confuses me, though, because although it's catchy, don't people usually say, "well, la dee da" when they're being mocking and dismissive?  Sometimes even "la dee frickin' da?"  Are these dolls dissing me from inside the box?  Presumably not.  Perhaps it's just meant to be an upbeat, sing-songy name in keeping with the cheery appearance of the dolls.

Spin Master has a knack for manufacturing trendy products.  Bakugan toys, Tech Deck mini skate boards, the adorable Zoobles--these have all been highly sought after and impossible to find at times.  Spin Master is also, of course, the company that introduced us to the innovative and highly articulated Liv dolls in 2009, and then recently announced the discontinuation of that beloved line.  Given the company's track record,  I feel pretty sure that the La Dee Da dolls will be trendy, at least for a little while.

Because it seems like the La Dee Da line is being rolled out to take the place of the faltering Liv dolls, it is hard for me to evaluate these new dolls without directly comparing them to Liv...and Liv dolls are the sole reason I became interested in play dolls as an adult.  So.  I will try very hard to step away from my disappointment about Liv's discontinuation and cast a fair eye on these new kids, but you should keep in mind that I probably have a pretty big chip on my shoulder.  Anyway, meet Cyanne from the "Runway Vacay" line, who I bought for $19.99 online at Toys R Us:

La-Dee-Da-Cyanne
La Dee Da "Runway Vacay Cyanne."

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Review of Hayden's House...as the Last of the Liv Dolls Leave the Shelves.

For a few months now, there have been whispers that Spin Master is shutting down production of the Liv doll.  A friend on Flickr warned me about this a while ago, and it was confirmed on Dana's blog last week.  Now, even Wikipedia reports the sad news (although I read Wikipedia with a skeptical eye).

This decision is surely based on low profits, so my question is--why weren't Liv dolls more successful?  Well, I want to hear your thoughts on this, but here are mine for starters.  First of all, the beauty of Liv dolls is that they are highly customizable.  In theory, you could buy just one Liv doll and then change her wig and outfit every day for endless new looks.  At most, it seems like you might want one of each character, and then you could focus your spending on accessories and new wigs.  Two problems with this from a marketing standpoint--first, people don't feel the need to buy very many dolls, which is good for buyers but bad for business.  Second, Spin Master didn't make enough outfits, wigs and accessories for these smaller items to carry people's enthusiasm or turn a profit on their own.

My second thought is related to the first.  The earlier waves of Liv dolls were all very similar.  Except for different outfits and wigs (and some small changes in face shape and eye color) the dolls were almost identical.  This contributed to consumers feeling that they didn't need every single doll that came out.  In addition, I can imagine some resentment in people who felt like they had to buy a whole new duplicate doll just to get a cute outfit or wig.  Spin Master seems to have tried to remedy the sameness in their dolls by making some drastic changes to the most recent doll's bodies.  In my opinion, these changes were a big mistake.  The Twist and Dance dolls' gimmicky bodies are virtually impossible to play with, and the Liv for Color and Brites dolls, while not awful, have definitely lost the Liv magic.

My last hypothesis is much simpler--Monster High dolls came out right after Liv and these creative and seemingly rare creatures stole everyone's attention and allowance.

So.  Whatever the reasons, the news is sad.  The silver lining is that Liv merchandise is on clearance everywhere and I am taking advantage.  I have always wanted the Toys R Us exclusive Hayden's house:

Hayden's house playset

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Liv in Wonderland

The Liv in Wonderland series is an exclusive set of Liv dolls that was made for Target starting in summer 2011.  The dolls are dressed in their costumes for the school play, Alice in Wonderland.  They all seem to have gotten leading roles.  Although the title of this release obviously refers to the Alice play, the "wonderland" part just makes me think of The Wonder Years TV show and in the back of my head I am thinking that this was how good Liv dolls were back in their wonder years.  That's silly of me, since we don't even know if Spin Master has completely abandoned the old articulated bodies, but it's just how I feel.  I miss the old days.

The good news is, these Liv in Wonderland dolls are still on the shelves at Target for $15.99 (cheaper than the Brites exclusives which are $19.99).  The Wonderland dolls went on clearance for about $10 right before Christmas, and so I assumed they were on their way out, but apparently not.  I've had mine stashed away since then and today I decided to get them out of their boxes.  I don't have all of the dolls because I never really wanted Katie.  Here are the ones I have, still in their boxes:

Liv-Wonderland-Sophie
Liv Sophie as Alice in Wonderland.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Liv Dolls by Spin Master

Spin Master makes a lot of cool, trendy toys like Bakugan, Tech Deck and Zoobles.  My kids were really into Bakugan a few years ago, and I have to admit, I think they are pretty neat little engineering wonders.  However, I think that Spin Master's greatest accomplishment in the last few years has been the production of the Liv doll.

Liv dolls are ~12-inch tall, highly articulated plastic dolls with changeable wigs and inset eyes.  Several other doll companies have made mass-market play dolls with changeable wigs at this point, but as far as I know, Liv was the first girl on the block to have one.  You can find Liv dolls at all of the big department stores for $15- $20.  They are often on sale for less.  Target, Walmart and Toys 'R' Us have had exclusive editions.  FAO Schwarz carries them now, too.

There are 6 Liv characters; Sophie, Daniela, Alexis and Katie (the original four), Hayden (who joined in 2010) and Jake (the only guy so far).  They all have different physical features, but I will talk about that later.  Here is Katie from the "It's My Nature" wave: