Showing posts with label discontinued. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discontinued. Show all posts

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunday Surprise: Secret Central Dolls by Hasbro!

This week I'm going to look at an older surprise-themed line of dolls that Yumi recommended a few weeks ago (Thank you, Yumi!) but before I do that, I want to mention a new tab at the top of the page called What Happened?  I'm shifting gears with the blog for various reasons, and this new tab holds an explanation.

I don't want any of that to take away from the fascinating mini dolls that I'm investigating today, though!  The brand is called Secret Central and includes a collection of 3.5 inch dolls depicting high school students.  As the name suggests, each doll has a secret!  All of the dolls come with a secret note (revealing something about the relationships within their high school class) but some of the sets have a concealed character (a whole extra doll!)--who also has a secret note.  I could not resist this concept.  Here's one of the girls to start things off:

Secret Central doll Rachel Ruff (Hasbro, 2003).

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.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The My Twinn Project

One of my new ideas for the blog is to write about the doll-related projects in my life.  I could call this series of posts "regular person attempts tricky things that you can learn from the internet!" but I'll probably just put the word "project" somewhere in the title.  I love a good project.  I've documented project-like things in the past, but I'd like to make it more of a regular occurrence.  The basic formula will be to set the scene in a relatively short post and then publish a few progress updates--interspersed between my more conventional reviews.  This way you'll get to follow along and share in the suspense as I succeed (or fail!) in my endeavors.  When the project is complete, I'll put together a cumulative post with some concluding pictures and statements.  Let's see how it goes!

The first project involves My Twinn dolls.  My Twinn went out of business in January.  I was sad to hear this news, but it didn't come as much of a surprise.  By late 2015, the quality of the 18" dolls was plummeting, there was a glut of unsold, mega-browed 18" Adopt-A-Friends, and the company had ceased production of dolls with darker skin tones.  The situation didn't look promising.  The way I see it, My Twinn dolls were made great by four critical things: a great range of customizable options (including over 40 face molds), overall high quality of construction, beautiful inset eyes, and carefully hand-painted eyebrows.  Many of these features had gone out the window by the time My Twinn closed its doors.

Like many collectors, I think the best versions of My Twinn dolls are the ones assembled in Denver, Colorado from 1995 through 2001.  These dolls have high-quality vinyl, beautiful (durable) eyes, nice wigs, a variety of faces, and (occasionally) artist-painted eyebrows.  To commemorate the end of My Twinn, I decided to add one more of these vintage gems to my collection.  The Denver dolls are all at least 15 years old by now, though, so adopting one is likely to involve a bit of restoration.  This project will document what kind of work can be required...and how I struggled through it.

My Twinn Audrey from 2001.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hogwarts Heroes "Hermione Granger" by Mattel (2001)

The doll I'm going to review today is about the same age as my kids.  She's an 8-inch Hermione Granger doll that was released in 2001, the year that the first Harry Potter movie (The Sorcerer's Stone) came to theaters.  I always hesitate before I review an older, discontinued doll.  Doing this can be confusing (since most reviews are of newly-released dolls) and also a little frustrating.  Nobody wants to read a review, fall in love with a doll, and then not be able to find one for sale.  However, I purchased my Hermione only about a year ago, so she's still out there.  I paid $35 for her, and right now there are a few on Amazon and eBay in the $30-60 range.  Her original price was $19.99.

I love discovering older dolls and reviewing them.  This is because I really enjoy exploring the history of doll manufacturing, but also because it's refreshing to look at dolls that are removed from trends that dominate the current market.  So many of the newest doll releases are bright and colorful with huge heads and exaggerated facial features.  In contrast, Mattel clearly designed this Hermione to be realistic--and in the likeness of a young Emma Watson.  I think they did a pretty good job:

Hogwarts Heroes Hermione Granger, Mattel (2001).

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Lollipop Girls by Jan McLean

It's not unusual for me to buy a doll for review and then get distracted by something else.  In fact, this happens quite a lot, and so my reviews are rarely written when they were originally planned.  However, I don't think I have ever procrastinated with a review quite as much as I did with this one.  I bought these Jan McLean Lollipop Girls back in...wait for it...June of 2012.  Three years ago.  Not long after I first started blogging, if you can believe it.

I had a variety of reasons for delaying this review, one of which was simply that the Lollipop Girls are long discontinued.  These dolls were made over a decade ago, during 2002 and 2003.  The 12-inch vinyl dolls that I will show you here are actually miniature versions of Jan McLean's 25-inch porcelain dolls of the same name.  Ms. McLean has not made very many vinyl dolls throughout her career.  This New Zealand artist is better known for her limited edition porcelain creations--a nice assortment of which has been archived for viewing at The Dollery.

Completely by coincidence, the delayed timing of this review might be strangely relevant.  Although Ms. McLean has not made any new dolls since 2009, she premiered a new collection of one-of-a-kind porcelain dolls at the International Doll and Teddy Show...just yesterday.  The dolls sold out within hours.

Jan McLean mini Lollipop Girls "Neena" (left) and "Cassie" (right).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Puppy Surprise by Playskool

I am going to veer away from my normal doll talk to share two things with you.  First, an awesome toy called Puppy Surprise.  Remember how I mentioned a while back about how much I like surprises?  Well, this toy is perfect for me.  It's perfect for a lot of kids in the 4-8 year old range, too, in my experience.  I think I have bought one of these for almost every kid I know in that age range.

What is Puppy Surprise?  It is a plush dog who is pregnant (stuffed) with removable puppies.  The surprise is, you don't know how many puppies she has until you open the box (and the dog).  She could have anywhere from 2 to 4 puppies, and if she has 4, one of them is likely to be a runt.  It's awesome.  The puppies are also gendered, so you don't know if you're going to get boys or girls...or both.  Playskool isn't making Puppy Surprise anymore, but there are plenty to be found on eBay for about $4 (opened) to $20 (unopened).

In the early 90s, Hasbro made a similar toy, also called Puppy Surprise, but these dogs had vinyl faces.  The older toys are also still available on eBay, but they tend to command higher prices, especially if the set is complete and in good shape.  I like both versions, but slightly prefer the newer ones because they are all plush.

A few years ago, when these started to go on clearance, I hoarded a ton of them so I could give them away as gifts.  I have a few left over.  Let's have some fun with them!

Playskool Puppy Surprise (discontinued).