Showing posts with label quality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quality. Show all posts

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Khaki Girl" Monster High Knockoff Doll from China

Since Halloween is rapidly approaching, I thought it would be fun to look at some monster dolls.  As I hunted around for an appropriately spooky doll to review, I was struck by how many lines are still imitating the spindly look or supernatural theme of the mega-popular Monster High characters.  There are the Mystixx zombie and vampire dolls, the Zombie Girls, Midnight Magic Day and Night dolls, the Once Upon a Zombie line, Mattel's own Ever After High dolls...and even a bunch of shameless bootlegs of actual Monster High dolls.

It would be great to show off several monster-themed dolls this week, but as things are going I'll probably only get to one or two.  I'll start with a very blatant example: a knockoff copy of Monster High Clawdeen that I found on eBay:

Khaki Girl knockoff doll (left) and Monster High Scaris Clawdeen Wolf (right).

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Cinderella and the Prince" from the Disney Store and Mattel's "Cinderella Wedding Day"

I'm back!  For those of you not on Facebook, I'll fill you in: I was in a bad car accident right after the Phicen review, and I broke my leg.  Everything is going really well, but I am about the slowest person on the planet right now, so it's just taken a really long time to get back on track.  The other thing is, this review is super-long and involves three dolls, so it would have taken me a while to create even with two fully-functioning legs.  I could have just chosen to review a simpler doll, I suppose, but this review involves Cinderella, and when Cinderella is on the scene, I find it difficult to think rationally.

Have I mentioned that I'm ridiculously excited about Disney's Cinderella live action movie that is coming out in 18 days on March 13th??  I've read comments around the internet suggesting that Disney really blew it by making another Cinderella movie, and that everyone has seen the story enough times already.  I respectfully disagree.  For me, this movie is (in true Disney fashion) a dream come true.  I never dared to even hope that there would be another Cinderella movie...but here it comes.  Premiering in less than a month.  I have watched the trailer for Cinderella about thirty times now (no exaggeration...) and it makes me weep every time--especially the part when Ella's mother says, Where there is kindness, there is goodness, and where there is goodness...there is magic!  Ahh!  Goosebumps!  It's going to be an amazing movie.  It has to be.

Of course I have also been anticipating the new Cinderella doll lines with significant enthusiasm.  Both the Disney Store and Mattel have produced versions of the main characters, and I thought it would be fun to do a comparison of the first pair of dolls I was able to get my hands on: "Cinderella and the Prince" ($69.95 from the Disney Store) and "Cinderella Wedding Day" ($29.99 from Mattel).

Cinderella and the Prince dolls set
Cinderella from the Disney Store's "Cinderella and the Prince" set.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Puppy Surprise Problems

I had such a fun time with my Kitty Surprise cat, Snow, that I decided to buy one of the new Puppy Surprise toys, too.  I was especially interested to see the dalmatian character, "Gigi," because she is advertised as having two "magic" babies with eyes that can change from open to closed with the application of cold water.  That sounded fun and intriguing to me...even though I was warned that the effect wasn't great.

This will not be a full review of Gigi and her puppies, but just a quick description of this toy and some of the things that were different from what I experienced with Snow and her kittens.  

Two puppies from Puppy Surprise, "Gigi."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

BeForever Mini Doll "Kit" by American Girl

Just a few days shy of a year ago today, I reviewed the mini Rebecca and Kit dolls from American Girl.  Little did I know back then that these dolls would be re-designed and re-released within the year.

At the end of August, American Girl released a re-imagined version of their Historical line called BeForever.  This maneuver seems designed to help modern girls feel more connected to characters from the past.  In the advertising, there's a big emphasis on values that transcend generations.  There are also new collections of girls' clothing that incorporate themes from the historical dolls into modern designs.

What does the BeForever change mean for the actual dolls, though?  In the 18" scale, the new dolls are largely the same as the old Historical collection dolls, with a few noteworthy changes.  First of all, two of the characters (C├ęcile and Marie-Grace) were discontinued.  Another character (Samantha) was brought back from the archives, and all of the re-released girls got new outfits.  I learned early on from many of you that the new versions of the mini dolls had different face molds and full vinyl bodies, so I was especially interested to see these smaller dolls in person.

I ordered BeForever mini Kit and mini Rebecca because I have the older versions of these dolls on hand for comparison.  I also chose these two because they have different face molds--giving me the chance to see two of the new faces.  Rebecca was backordered (she finally arrived today) but Kit shipped right away and is ready for her review:

BeForever Kit mini
New BeForever mini Kit (with old mini Kit in the background).

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.

Monday, May 13, 2013

EuroGirl Diana Collection Doll by The Doll Factory

I've been pretty distracted lately--sorry.  There was a week of complete pandemonium in my house as we helped my son prepare for a big science fair in Phoenix.  Now that we're finally in Arizona, I have some time to relax and write.  I am so excited to be here--partly because of the science, but also because it's neat to be in the desert.  It looks completely different from Maine.   I mean, I saw a cactus at the side of the road last night as we drove from the airport.  A cactus.

My internet searching tells me that there are a few doll stores in this area, so I hope to have some time for live blogging later in the week (please let me know if you have a tip about a doll location in the greater Phoenix area!).  In the meantime, I'd like to quickly show you an 18" play doll that I have been wanting to de-box for a long time.  This is a (discontinued) EuroGirl from the Diana Collection.  She is a slim 18" size, like the Magic Attic and Carpatina dolls, but she has this amazing character face:

EuroGirl doll
EuroGirl by The Doll Factory.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Adopt a Friend" Dolls by My Twinn

If you’d asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said that the chances of my doing a My Twinn review were next to zero.  I’ve never been very interested in the My Twinn dolls.  My Twinn is known for selling 23" play dolls that are custom made to resemble a specific child.  I guess it has always seemed like such a hassle and a gamble to have a doll custom made. The catalogue pictures of girls with their matching dolls are pretty amazing, but the faces of My Twinn dolls are dangerously hit or miss—some are wonderful, some are not.  The bodies also look funny to me in some pictures, but I always assumed these shots were the result of a tall doll in a bad camera angle.  In the end, the price has simply been too high to take a chance that I might not like the end product.

So why am I writing a My Twinn review now?  It’s a bit of a convoluted story.  It all started because I have been getting serious about the purchase of an American Girl.  It would be very helpful to have one for comparisons to dolls like Karito Kids and Carpatina.  Last week, I was debating which American Girl I should choose.  Saige, the Girl of the Year for 2013, seems perfect.  She loves horses (just like me) and has red hair (like I wish I had).  I stumbled across this amazingly helpful post on Never Grow Up, though, and it convinced me that I actually prefer Josephina’s face mold and might want her (or Rebecca) instead.  Hmm.  So, I was looking at Saige’s horse and being massively indecisive, and then I remembered that My Twinn horses are better than American Girl horses and that got me wondering if My Twinn was still in business.  Last time I checked (in 2009) there were rumors of bankruptcy.  So…I headed over to the My Twinn website to scope things out.

That was the last my family saw of me all weekend.

My Twinn takes over the house.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bratzillaz Update: Midnight Beach "Meygana Broomstix"

After my Yasmina Clairvoya review,  I figured that I would never buy another Bratzillaz.  There were just too many disappointments with that doll.  However, when I was at Walmart the other day, I noticed a new line of Bratzillaz called the "Midnight Beach" collection, and my curiosity got the best of me.  First and foremost, I wanted to know if they had fixed the hair with the new Meygana.  Remember how terrible the first Meygana's hair was?  This Meygana's hair is different:

Midnight Beach Meygana, $19.99.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tangkou Doll "Loli"

Tangkou dolls are highly articulated plastic ball jointed dolls with large heads and color-changing eyes.  These dolls are designed and produced in China by the 6th Sense Tang Doll Group.  Tangkou dolls have body and head proportions that are very similar to the Pullip line and an eye mechanism that rotates through different eye colors just like the Blythe dolls.  Tangkou dolls cost from $45-$75, which is half if not a third of what most Blythe and Pullip dolls will set you back.

I first saw a Tangkou doll just over a year ago on one of my favorite Flickr sites.  At that time, it seemed a bit difficult to order these dolls in the US.  Now, the ordering process is very easy--from a variety of different countries.  You can buy the dolls directly from the Tangkou website (they accept PayPal) and you can often find a nice variety of these dolls on eBay.  I ordered my doll back in May from the Tangkou shop and she arrived last week, so, if you decide to order from the website, brace yourself for a long wait.  I must have run into some especially bad luck with my order, though, because I think it is more typical for these dolls to take only a few weeks to arrive.

I ordered one of the most expensive Tangkou dolls, Loli.  I chose this doll because I like her promo pictures, I like her name, I like that she is a limited edition (2000 pieces) and I like that she has a wig (some of the dolls are rooted) with lovely light blue hair.  I think she has a goofy Alice in Wonderland vibe abut her:

Tangkou doll "Loli."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Novi Stars "Alie Lectric" by MGA Entertainment

The Novi Stars have been in stock at my local Target for a few weeks now.  I spent a considerable amount of time squatting in the toy aisle and examining them when they first appeared, but I didn't feel any urge to buy one.  They struck me as pretty small and simple for a $20 doll--actually my first thought was that they resemble Happy Meal toys.  That's probably not a fair comparison, but the price definitely seems high.  Since that first encounter, I have heard some encouraging things about the line and gotten a few requests for a review, so I decided to give these little aliens a proper investigation.

The first release of Novi Stars includes five characters, each with a different special feature.  Mae Tallick is a pink robot who talks, Alie Lectric is a green alien who lights up, Ari Roma is purple with big hair (she smells), Una Verse is silvery ice-blue and has glitter inside her legs and Nita Light has a white head and a transparent body and glows in the dark.  I didn't see Nita Light until yesterday (at Walmart).  If I had seen her sooner, she probably would have been my first pick (I love things that glow in the dark), except for the fact that she comes with a big plastic pod and is therefore more expensive than the other dolls.

Of the four dolls available at Target, I knew instantly that I didn't want Ari, the smelly one (even though she has neat-looking purple hair).  I also didn't want Mae, the one that talks, because I like to invent personalities for my dolls.  So, it was between Alie and Una.  Una is the "prettier" of the two, but I was not very impressed with her glitter feature in real life.  It just didn't seem that exciting.  Also, the glitter was all pooled at the bottom of Una's legs and I knew I would worry about the water leaking out or drying up over time.  Besides, Alie is green, which is perfect for my first alien doll:

"Alie Lectric" Novi Stars doll.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bratzillaz "Yasmina Clairvoya" Doll

I reviewed a Bratzillaz doll pretty recently (Meygana Broomstix), but Meygana's hair was such a disaster, I decided that it might be worth looking at another one of these newcomers before passing my final judgement on the line.  Also, I am experimenting with some different backgrounds for my pictures, and this doll works really well with my new favorite grey background.  Let me know what you think.

The other thing I want to mention before I get started is that I seem to have 99 followers.  This is really exciting for me!  I think that when our group gets to 100, there should be another giveaway, which is the only way I can think of to party online.  I also think that at least part of the giveaway should be open to the first 100 followers only.  Not to be snobby and exclusive or anything, but just as a way of saying "thank you" and celebrating you awesome first 100 followers.  There will probably be a giveaway for non-followers, too, just to be fair.  I'm still working on the details...and I still need one more follower (no pressure).

In the meantime, here is the second Bratzillaz doll I bought, Yasmina Clairvoya:

"Yasmina Clairvoya" Bratzillaz doll.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Disney Store Doll Articulation Update

I wasn't as thorough as I should have been with my Disney Store Rapunzel review yesterday, or with my 12" Merida review, for that matter.  Fortunately, I had time this morning to de-box Cinderella, and she made some of the flaws and potential problems with the new articulation pretty glaringly obvious.

Cinderella enchanted me from within her box, mostly because of her coy side-glancing eyes:

Disney-Store-Cinderella-New
Charming, right?

Friday, June 8, 2012

The William and Catherine Royal Wedding Barbie set by Mattel

The only dolls that followed me home from Manhattan last weekend are the William and Catherine Barbie dolls that I found at the massive Toys R Us in Times Square. I had seen this set in pictures online and been slightly interested, but never interested enough to shell out the currency necessary to buy them. I don't know if it was seeing them in person that won me over, or that I was caught up in the excitement of the big city, but they seemed like the perfect set to buy at the time--certainly the most special of the numerous Barbie sets that were on display. The problem with getting caught up in a moment is that you loose track of things like the little fact that while I paid $127, this set actually only costs $109 if you buy it online...and I mean if you buy it online at Toys R Us.  So I paid a premium for the experience of buying it at the flagship store, but I guess I am okay with that.  It's a really fun store.

Incidentally, the other Barbie set that kept catching my eye on this trip was the Pillow Talk set with Rock Hudson and Doris Day.  You can get these dolls on Amazon for 40 bucks right now.  If I could remember anything about that movie, I would definitely have purchased this set.  I can only remember Doris Day from the Hitchcock movie, The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Anyway--the dolls look great in real life.

I chose William and Kate because I love the British royal family, I am a sucker for wedding dresses, and because the William doll was grinning at me and I found it kinda irresistible:

William-Catherine-Kate-Barbie
William and Catherine Barbie Gold Label set

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Calico Critters vs. Li'l Woodzeez Comparison Review

I have always secretly wanted to buy a Calico Critters set.  Given my reckless abandon in buying dolls of all kinds, it's a bit strange that I have never taken the plunge and ordered some of these enticing woodland fuzzies for myself.  When I fell in love with the Tickle Your Taste Buds Bakery and had my first introduction to the Li'l Woodzees, I knew there would be a comparison review at some point in my near future.  That time has come.

Calico Critters are articulated, flocked plastic woodland creatures with human attributes.  Li'l Woodzeez are essentially a less expensive version of the same idea.  Both lines have characters who come with roughly sketched-out personalities and/or occupations.  Calico Critters live in Cloverleaf Corners, Li'l Woodzeez live in Honeysuckle Hollow.  Here's a picture of them:

Calico-Critters-Woodzeez-Review
Calico Critters Furbanks Squirrel Family (L) and Li'l Woodzeez Waterwaggles Beaver Family (R)

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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MiM Dolls from Make it Mine, LLC

I heard about the brand-new Make it Mine ("MiM") company and their debut doll line back in December on Terri's blog.  The first thing I noticed about these dolls was that they have a centaur body option.  That's not something you see every day.  As a person who likes dolls and horses quite a lot, a centaur doll has always been near the top of my list of things to add to my collection.  There aren't a ton of centaur dolls out there, though.  SOOM of Korea made an exquisite unicorn centaur doll a while ago (gasp!), but if you pile all of the different options and extras for him into your shopping cart (because I would want everything in those pictures!) it gets really pricey.  And he's sold out.  SOOM also had some smaller wood centaur dolls that were less expensive, but also less impressive.  Domadoll has a cute centaur, too, but I am not sure if it is still available for order.  Jpop Dolls has a relatively inexpensive centaur BJD named Elise who has especially nice horse parts.  I think there was one other very well-done BJD centaur on my radar, but I've forgotten where I saw it.  The MiM doll with a centaur body can be yours for about $134, making it the least expensive articulated centaur doll I have seen to date.

After glimpsing those first pictures, I took a look at the MiM website to learn more.   MiM dolls are advertised as 16" plastic ball-jointed dolls.  I guess the term "ball-jointed doll" applies to any doll with ball-and-socket joints.  I agree with Wikipedia, though, when they say that "BJD" usually means a resin doll strung with elastic and made in Asia, which MiM is not.  Oh, well.  The MiM doll has several customizable parts, which definitely fits with my idea of what a BJD should be.  Not only is there a centaur body, but MiM dolls can be mermaids, too.  Cool!  The Make it Mine website is very fun.  I've visited there many times since December, recreationally filling and un-filling my cart.  You can choose between different skin colors, faces, wigs, eye colors and outfit options and the site will show you a picture of approximately what your doll will look like.  It reminds me a lot of the Hasbro Lorifina dolls and their website.  Here what the MiM face looks like:

MiM-Doll-Review
MiM doll.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nu Mood "Jess" by Tonner Doll: Cinderella Reincarnated

Robert Tonner's Basic Cinderella is probably my favorite doll of all time.  I have a huge emotional attachment to this doll and have collected almost every single Tonner doll that shares her face, including all of the newer "Cami" dolls that have a slightly re-sized version of the Cinderella face sculpt.  You might remember from my earlier post that I haven't been too happy with the more recent changes in these dolls. The introduction of "Wigged Cami Too" marked the first time since the debut of the Cinderella face that I decided not to spend my money.  I still have no interest in buying that doll.

Right before IDEX, Tonner premiered his "Nu Mood" line of basic dolls.  These dolls each have one of three body types (Curvy, Dance or Fashion) and they share interchangeable hands and feet and a mix-and-match wardrobe.  This is a cool idea, especially since one of the options for the switchable feet is ballet feet.  I really liked the New York City Ballet line of Tonner dolls, and seeing the re-introduction of the en pointe feet was good news for me.

Better news for me was that one of the Nu Mood characters has the Cinderella face.  Her name is Jess, and she comes with the Dance body.  Perfect.  These dolls retail for $59.99, but mine was less expensive because of a pre-order special.  I haven't paid this little or been this excited about a new Cinderella-faced doll for a while.  The thing that had me the most excited is that in the promo pictures, Jess looks like Cinderella, not Cami.  Don't get me wrong, I love Cami--I adore her, but seeing a new Cinderella after all of these years was like seeing a beloved old friend.  She arrived on Thursday and I have been patiently waiting for the weekend to get her out:

Nu-Mood-Jess-Tonner
Tonner's Nu Mood Jess

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 Liv Dolls...What if You Don't Like the New Body?

I still have Liv dolls on my mind today, and since there are brand new releases to chat about, they get another post.  A commenter got me thinking--if you are like me and really don't care for the new body, are these dolls still worth buying just for the clothes, shoes and wig?  My first thought was that this is really wasteful.  I would feel bad throwing away a whole doll just to have her clothes.  However, as someone pointed out, the doll could go to the thrift store (or be given away on a blog for free...) maybe finding its way to a smaller child who would do better with a less articulated doll.  That could work out pretty well.

The Liv for Color line is priced at $10.99 and the Brites are $19.99, so with this in mind, I am going to de-box Brites Alexis and then we'll compare what you get with her to what came with Liv for Color Katie and see if it's worth the cash.  Sound good?

First things first, time to get Alexis out of the box.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cinderella and Cami by The Tonner Doll Company

The Tonner Doll Company was started in 1991 by fashion designer Robert Tonner.  Today, Tonner makes a huge variety of dolls, from his signature fashion designer character, Tyler Wentworth, to popular fiction characters like Edward Cullen and Harry Potter, to action heroes and fairy tale princesses.  There's no way I could even come close to giving you a worthy overview of Tonner dolls in one post.   I am sure they will crop up on this blog again and again, though.

What I can do, is tell you the story of my absolute favorite Tonner doll...or actually, just my favorite doll.  Period.  In 2006, Tonner debuted his 16" Cinderella collection, consisting of Cinderella herself, the two stepsisters, Euphemia and Hortencia, and the Fairy Godmother. I think I knew instantly when I saw the promo pictures of Cinderella that, financially speaking, this was a doll who was going to spell serious trouble for me over the years.  I was right.  Cinderella is my absolute favorite fairy tale character of all time, and this doll captures what I think she should look like perfectly:


Tonner-Cinderella-Cami-Review