Showing posts with label shopping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shopping. Show all posts

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Madame Alexander's 9.5-inch Doll Factory Dolls from the (Closed) Manhattan F.A.O. Schwarz

There's a pretty long title for this review, so let me explain.  My boys and I were in Manhattan last week to visit family, and of course I was eager to check up on Toys R Us or F.A.O. Schwarz--outings that were canceled during our last trip because of my broken leg.  As I was trying to decide between these two flagship stores, my mom mentioned that the F.A.O. Schwarz store was closing--or had already closed, she couldn't remember.  I need to pay more attention to the world because this sad news took me completely by surprise.  I panicked a little and immediately wanted to head uptown to see if the store was still open (and if there were any toys left in stock).

As a matter of fact, the Manhattan F.A.O. Schwarz store closed its doors on July 15, just two days after our visit.  F.A.O. Schwarz has had a store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan for over 100 years (21 years at 303 Fifth Avenue, 55 years at 735 Fifth Avenue and 31 years across the street at 767 Fifth Avenue).  The location has become a beloved stop for me and my family over the last few decades--made even more appealing to my growing boys with the arrival of the Apple Store as a next-door neighbor in 2006.

My eldest son, my mom and I all went to pay the store our last respects.  I'll share a little bit of that visit with you, and I'll also review the two dolls that my mom bought for me while we were there.  Even before we arrived at the store, I knew which dolls I was hoping to find: the customizable 9.5-inch Doll Factory girls by Madame Alexander.  I have been eyeing these cuties for years and, as far as I know, they were only available at the F.A.O. Schwarz brick-and-mortar store.  This means that the dolls are--temporarily--no longer available.  Much to my relief, even though most of the doll brands were sold out by the time we arrived, the Doll Factory was still functional...kind of, and the smaller dolls were on sale for around $20.

9.5-inch Madame Alexander Doll Factory doll from F.A.O. Schwarz.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Miniature BeForever "Kaya" and "Rebecca" Dolls from American Girl

A week ago we went to New York City to spend some time with family.  I was really hoping to re-visit the incredible Toys R Us in Times Square or F.A.O. Schwarz while we were there...and maybe even stop in on the American Girl store to see the new Girl of The Year stuff.   For this trip, though, my crutches slowed me down a bit and so we decided to only visit American Girl, since I have never been to that particular store before.  I was curious to compare it to the impressive store in Natick, Massachusetts.

My mom, my sister, my niece and I all went to the American Girl store together, each of us approaching the outing with a different perspective.  The neat thing was that despite our different tastes, and with the huge array of dolls and accessories to look at, we all agreed about what our favorite item in the whole store was--and it wasn't at all what I expected.  It was the amazingly charming BeForever miniature doll, Kaya.

When the BeForever line first came out, I looked at all of the dolls online and decided to purchase Mini Rebecca and Mini Kit.  For some reason Kaya's catalogue pictures didn't grab my attention.  I have already reviewed Mini Kit, so in this post I will take a look at Kaya and Rebecca, and will also share some quick impressions of the Manhattan American Girl store.

American Girl BeForever Mini Kaya
American Girl's Mini Kaya, $25.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Toy Box Tourist

In addition to visiting as many gorgeous castles and palaces as we could manage on our trip to Scotland, I had my own "doll tourist" agenda to follow.

When I lived in Edinburgh, the only doll source I was aware of was the toy section at the Jenners department store.  My favorite things to browse at this store were the beautiful Sasha dolls and the numerous Playmobil sets.  I also remember the realistic Beswick porcelain horses in the home department that I would admire while my parents were looking at dinnerware.

Before we left Edinburgh, I wanted to return to Jenners (now owned by House of Fraser) to see how the toy selection had changed over the years.  I also wanted to visit Smyths, because my online searches suggested that this store is similar to Toys R Us--one of my favorite Maine haunts.  In addition, I took Nealie's advice and stopped in at the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood to admire their collection of antique dolls and dollhouses.

I'll share some of what I found at all of these places with you, starting with one of my favorite little Scottish faces:

Flirty-eyed hard plastic Pedigree walking doll, c. 1950s
(Edinburgh Museum of Childhood).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Last Minute Holiday Shopping at Rainbow Toys

Well, I am finding myself insanely busy these days, and I won't be able to get all of the pre-Christmas reviews done that I had hoped, but I do want to (as promised) take you along on my shopping trip to a local, privately-owned toy store.  This particular store, called Rainbow Toys (in Falmouth), has been my favorite since we moved to Maine.  Rainbow Toys is where I discovered Squishables--the plush critters that ended up being the perfect fun gift for my kids as they crossed the threshold into young adulthood.

Large chain stores like Target and Toys R Us have an excellent selection of dolls and a very current inventory of all different kinds of toys, but smaller toy shops have always seemed extra special to me.  The owners and staff of these stores put a huge amount of time and thought into hand-selecting their specific inventory.  I love the thrill of finding a new small toy shop, because no two of these boutiques have exactly the same offerings.  When my children were younger, local toy stores were more than just fun places to shop--they also played an important role in my social life, and in the preservation of my sanity.  Whenever I needed to get out of the house, there was a beautifully arranged train table waiting for me at the nearby toy store.  My sons found seemingly endless amusement at such tables, and I could usually find at least one other parent desperately seeking the company of an adult.  My eldest son met his first good friend at a toy store when he was under two, and the two boys remained close for many years.

To me, the most exciting thing about Rainbow Toys is that in the last few months, they have started to carry Arklu's adorable Lottie dolls, which, at the time of my original review, I could only find online at Amazon.  Welcome to Maine, Lottie!

Robot Girl Lottie
"Robot Girl" Lottie doll by Arklu.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The American Girl Store in Boston

It has always been my plan to visit the American Girl store in Manhattan.  My mom lives in Manhattan, and I figured that the Big Apple would have a pretty great example of the American Girl shopping experience.  What I failed to notice, though, is that there's a big American Girl store in Boston, and Boston is 2 hours away from where I live in Maine.  So, this week I decided to hop in the car, go see what American Girl is all about, and finally purchase my first American Girl doll.  Many of the other dolls I have reviewed (Carpatina, Princess & Me, Our Generation, Karito Kids, Hearts 4 Hearts, My Twinn) beg a comparison to American Girl, which is a hard thing for me to do without ever having spent any time with an actual American Girl doll in my hands.  Besides, I'll admit it, there's a part of me that has always wanted to go to one of the American Girl stores and get one of those awesome big red bags.

Thanks to your help in my poll, I went to the store determined to purchase Rebecca.  I'll say right up front that the experience was nothing like I imagined it would be, and I did not end up buying Rebecca...or at least not in the way I thought I would.  Apologies up front about that.  Let me tell you about my experience at the store, show you some of my favorite items, and explain why I came home with a different doll (and a few other goodies).

American Girl Boston
The American Girl store in Natick, MA.