Showing posts with label customization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label customization. Show all posts

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Patron Post: Is This Blythe?

It is so easy to fall down rabbit holes in the doll world, isn't it?  Well, I've fallen down another one.  A really, really big one.  Bigger, even, than I suspected the first time I wrote this review (more on that in a sec)!  It all started with my wonderful Patron Katrina's suggestion that I look more in-depth at the Blythe universe.  I haven't purchased a Blythe doll in about ten years, and I've never written a formal review of the brand, so this was an excellent suggestion!  Today's review will not address authentic Blythe dolls, though, but rather a few of the enticing imitations that exist on the market.

As some of you might recall, the first version of this review featured an imitation Blythe doll that I purchased from the shop that took over Gina Garan's old website and is named after her iconic book, This is Blythe.  The doll was lovely, but she was significantly more expensive than similar dolls that I found as I was doing research for the review.  I stated this fact in my post, including my best explanation for the price difference, but this was apparently not okay with the shop--nor was my talking about their competitors in any way.  They asked me to edit the review to remove all mention of certain other retailers.  In hindsight, their request was ludicrous.  But they seemed nice at first, and I'm never looking to upset anyone, so I offered to try and help.  I stayed up until 3:00am one night (they're in a dramatically different time zone), emailing back and forth and changing the review to make them happy.  However, when I (finally) put my foot down and refused to edit and lock the comments section, they abruptly threatened to sue me--using private information that they'd obtained from my purchases.  That's not nice.  A quick Trustpilot search revealed that they have a history of threatening similar nonsense to other customers (including a fellow blogger).  I don't like bullies, so I didn't want to imply endorsement of this shop by featuring their products.  I do not recommend this shop.  After considering my options, I decided to delete the old review and write a new version using equivalent items that I bought from other retailers.  And it's a happy ending, because I had so much more fun this time around!

I didn't want to delete the old review without replacing it, because looking at imitation Blythe dolls is an important part of a bigger series of articles that I'm planning.  This is quite an exciting (and nerve-wracking!) time for the authentic Blythe brand because Hasbro recently severed its long-term connection with Takara/TOMY (the manufacturers of Blythe dolls) and has entered a new relationship with Good Smile Company.  Good Smile has a wonderful reputation in the figurine world (they make Nendoroids), but they do not have an extensive resumé in doll making.  So everyone's been waiting anxiously to see if the new Blythe dolls will be as good as the old.

Today's review will include an in-depth look at a girl I bought from Blythe Homes (an AliExpress vendor), and a more cursory look at a few similarly-priced dolls that I found at various other places.  I'll also throw in some terminology, market observations, and thoughts about what it means to be Blythe.  At a later date, I'll follow up with a review of an authentic Takara-made Blythe doll, and then compare her to a new Good Smile Company doll.  Are you ready for a review re-do?  I hope so!  Here we go again:

Imitation DBS Blythe doll from Blythe Homes, $35.20 (outfit not included).

Monday, December 4, 2017

Create Your Own American Girl

The wait is over!  My Create Your Own American Girl doll, Eliza, arrived two weeks ago (almost exactly on schedule).  I noticed recently that the wait for a similar doll now stretches into May (!) so I guess the concept is faring well in the holiday market.

I had to peek at Eliza before I started this review, and I noticed something unexpected right off the bat.  For those of you who followed along with Eliza's design process, you'll be expecting to see the "D" (Sonali) face.  Well, that's what I was expecting to see, too, but apparently I ended up picking the "B" (Josefina) face instead.  It's certainly my fault (I was going back and forth between faces a lot that day...) and it's actually a happy accident.  Once I realized that my other new American Girl, Melody Ellison, also has the Sonali face, I regretted picking that same mold for Eliza.  Now I have the face I actually wanted!

It's a really cute face, too:

Create Your Own American Girl doll, Eliza, $200.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

American Girl Create Your Own Clothing

As many of you know, I'm waiting for the arrival of my redheaded Create Your Own American Girl doll, Eliza.  I expect her to ship sometime in mid-November.  When I ordered Eliza back in late August, I also ordered a few custom outfits for her, just to see what the quality is like.  These items all arrived at the beginning of this week and I thought I would quickly show you what they look like in person.

Since Eliza herself can't model these clothes yet, I've asked Keira and Melody to step in and help out:

Design Your Own clothing by American Girl.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Waiting for Eliza

As many of you have probably heard, American Girl debuted their Create Your Own doll feature early this month.  This is an online program that allows kids (of any age...) to design their own dolls and clothing from a wide range of options.  It's similar to My Twinn's old BFF customization tool, but it offers more variety.  I think the addition of this option to the American Girl lineup is a brilliant move by Mattel.  Not only is the website super-fun and easy to use (I spent the better part of a day playing around with it) but it allows kids (and doll reviewers) to have pretty much exactly the doll they want.  This is great because it will eliminate the inevitable disappointment that accompanies each year's new doll releases.  This year, if you don't see the doll you want, you can design him or her yourself!

I designed a custom doll who I've named Eliza.  Eliza has a few backordered features, and so she won't arrive until mid November.  I figured that while I'm waiting for Eliza to arrive, I could walk you through some of my experiences with the Create Your Own program.  That way, we can all wait together to see if the final product lives up to our expectations.

I didn't want to publish a post filled with nothing but screenshots, though, so I decided that I'd also use this opportunity to share an American Girl doll that I purchased back in April; the new 1960s BeForever character, Melody Ellison:

review
BeForever Melody Ellison by American Girl, $115.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Create-A-Bratz by MGA Entertainment

This is the first Bratz doll review I've ever written, which feels strange given the impact of this brand in recent play doll history.  I like MGA's spin-off Bratzillaz dolls, but have never been a great admirer of Bratz themselves--mostly because of their bratty, haughty image (brace yourself for some hypocrisy on that statement later on, though).  My feelings about Bratz dolls started to change after Samehch's 2014 guest overview.  Seeing the dolls through Samehch's eyes gave me a new appreciation for these personality-packed, fashionable characters.  In fact, I've actually purchased a few Bratz dolls for my collection in the past year.

At the time of that guest review, MGA had just put the Bratz line on hiatus in the United States market, preparing for a big 2015 re-release.  Bratz dolls continued to be sold in other countries during this hiatus.  The overseas selection during this time included a wonderfully clever and creative Bratz idea: the Duct Tape Fashion dolls.  As a person whose wallet is made completely out of Duct Tape, I heartily approve of this concept.  There's a very charming video review of Duct Tape Yasmin on YouTube.  Even though this particular video doesn't show how the Duct Tape customization works, I highly recommend watching it anyway--especially the part where the charismatic young reviewer expertly fills time while her poor father de-boxes Yasmin.  It's classic.

When the long-awaited 2015 Bratz dolls finally hit shelves in the United States this summer, I was underwhelmed.  I like the freckle-faced, pink-haired #SelfieSnaps Cloe and a few others, but as a whole, the dolls didn't immediately strike me as being obviously better than their predecessors.  To my unpracticed eye, it wasn't even clear right away what had changed.  However, Target stores have started offering a customizable Bratz doll option that did strike me as different and fun.  Today I will review one of these new Create-A-Bratz girls from Target and compare her to a few other Bratz dolls.  Here's my Create-A-Bratz, who I've named Sadie:

review
Create-A-Bratz doll from Target, $49.99.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Ever After High Repaint Tutorial by Charlotte of Milklegs Dolls

I have been looking forward to this post for a long time.  My guest today is Charlotte--a talented doll artist from the United Kingdom who specializes in customization.  Charlotte mixes and matches bodies and heads (Azone bodies with Licca-chan heads is a favorite of hers...) and also repaints a variety of dolls ranging from Obitsu to Monster High.  You can see her work on Instagram and also on Tumblr.  Charlotte and I started communicating over a year ago, at which point she had a ton of great ideas for a customization-themed guest review.  My favorite idea of hers was that she share some of the techniques behind her beautiful repaints.  Well...as it happened, Charlotte got busy earning a degree and I got busy playing with dolls, and it ended up taking a year to pull this post together.

That all worked out for the best, though, because Charlotte has gotten even more accomplished over the last year, and has actually opened an Etsy shop (Milklegs Dolls) through which I was able to purchase a few of her repainted Monster High and Ever After High dolls.  So, in this post Charlotte will walk us through her repainting process and then I will share some pictures of my two exquisite Milklegs girls.

Ever After High Briar Beauty and Monster High Frights, Camera, Action! Clawdeen Wolf.
Repainted by Charlotte of Milklegs Dolls.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Little Darling Custom Doll by Dianna Effner

Happy New Year!  I took an indulgent couple of weeks off to spend some time with my friends and family.  It was a relatively doll-free holiday, dominated instead by lots of music, some new Legos, and a crowdfunded board game called Zombicide that has taken over my house.  I highly recommend this game to zombie fans in the 13-and-up age range.  It's one of the best games I've ever played.

Anyway, I thought I'd start 2015 by showing you a special doll that I bought for myself about a year ago.  She is a "Little Darling" 13-inch vinyl doll made by Dianna Effner and painted by Geri Uribe.  Ms. Effner sculpts a variety of art dolls that are cast in vinyl and porcelain.  She sells a few completed Little Darling dolls through her studio website and a variety of her sculptures are also available in kit form on the Expressions website.  Ms. Effner is well known for her realistic face painting style, a technique that she has taught to several other artists over the years.  Little Darling dolls hand-painted by Dianna Effner herself are highly sought after and quite valuable.  They tend to sell on the secondary market for over $1,000.  It is theoretically possible to get on a wait list to order a custom-painted doll directly from Ms Effner (for just under $400), but this list opens only sporadically and tends to close quickly.

Geri Uribe is a doll artist who has been working with Dianna Effner for over 20 years.  Little Darling dolls painted by Ms. Uribe are gorgeous, and they're easier to come by than those painted by Ms. Effner.  Geri's wait list tends to be open, with a wait time of around 12-15 months.  I emailed my custom order request last January, thinking that my doll might be completed in time for Christmas of 2014.  As it turned out, the doll was ready way before I expected, and my beautiful girl arrived in late September:

Dianna Effner Little Darling doll
Dianna Effner Little Darling doll painted by Geri Uribe, $350.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review Fusion #4

It's hard for me to believe that November is half over already!  There is so much excitement at this time of year in my house, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, the academic quarter ending, the first snowfall of the season, the big musical production at our high school, visits from family, and of course the beginnings of holiday shopping.

Amidst the happy pandemonium of the next couple of weeks, I'd like to try and do some shorter reviews of the dolls and toys that seem especially popular or interesting this holiday season, but I also want to squeeze in a few more guest reviews before I get too busy.  This Fusion post will attempt to address both goals: I have two really neat guest reviews to share with you, and I'll also offer my own quick evaluation of one of the most sought-after toys in this neck of the woods lately: My Size Anna.

My Size Anna (Target, $59.99).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Kate and Tara by Wildflower Dolls

Today's post will not be a traditional review, but more of a showcase for a special kind of doll that I learned about recently: Wildflower Dolls.  These dolls have handmade, limited edition heads mounted on highly articulated brand name 1/6 scale bodies.  As you know, I am a huge fan of highly articulated doll bodies, but it is the extraordinary faces of the Wildflower Dolls that have enchanted me.

I first heard about Wildflower Dolls from my friend Séverine (the same friend who took the Avengers Black Widow picture).  Séverine was showing me some pictures of her doll collection, and one particular photo of spunky redheaded sisters immediately grabbed my attention.  These sisters caught my eye because they have my favorite kind of unruly red hair, but also because they have facial expressions that brilliantly capture two very different, very playful emotions.  When Séverine told me that her dolls were custom-made, I assumed that their prices would be out of reach.  However, when I visited the Wildflower Dolls Etsy store, I was amazed to learn that these charismatic creations can be custom ordered for under $200.  Better yet, some of the pre-made dolls can be purchased for under $100.  This realization marked the beginning of my own Wildflower Dolls adventure--a process that brought these two beautiful, happy sisters into my home:

Kate #45 (left) and Tara #32 (right) by Wildflower Dolls.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Twinn 18" Custom Doll, "Annie"

I have mentioned before how the expectations and anticipation surrounding a doll purchase can play a large role in my overall assessment.  Because of this, ordering a custom doll like a Makie or a My Twinn can be quite risky.  In the days or weeks that it takes for the doll to be made, a very clear vision of that doll will form in my mind, making it difficult for the actual doll to be what I was hoping for.  On the other hand, the process of customizing a doll is very fun, and the excitement of waiting to see that special doll adds significantly to the purchasing experience.

If you read my earlier post, Waiting for Annie, you know about my previous experience with ordering a custom My Twinn doll--how I was hoping for a redhead and got a doll with dirty blonde hair.  If you read that other post, you might also have had some time to form your own ideas and opinions about how my new custom 18" My Twinn doll, Annie, should look.  My own wishes for this doll were that she would have bright red hair, beautiful green eyes and a huge number of realistic freckles.

I'll show you right away that Annie is gloriously, unapologetically redheaded:

18" My Twinn
My Twinn 18" custom doll, "Annie."