Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spirit Riding Free Toys by Breyer and Just Play

The original Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron movie by DreamWorks came out in 2002--the year my kids were two and four years old.  My four-year-old, in particular, was obsessed with this movie, in part because of the impressive steam engine featured in one of the climactic scenes.  At that time we were all listening to a series of tapes (yes, cassette tapes...) with songs about the construction of the transcontinental railroad, so both boys liked everything that had to do with trains.  Anyway, I loved the movie because of all the horses--and because the horses weren't given silly human voices.  Matt Damon adds a voice to some of Spirit's thoughts, but this is a rare occurrence, used only to forward the plot or explain a complicated scene.  The human protagonist in this movie is a kind-hearted Lakota teenager named Little Creek who yearns to ride Spirit, but knows when to stop trying.  It's a wonderful movie that will always have a special place in my heart.

In May of this year, DreamWorks premiered a new animated series on Netflix called Spirit Riding Free.  Season two of the series was released last week.  Fans of the original movie looked forward to this series with great anticipation, many of us hoping to rekindle the excitement we felt fifteen years ago when we were first introduced to Spirit's Wild West.

Both Just Play and Breyer have released a whole collection of Spirit Riding Free toys, and I will look at several of these in today's review.  I want to start the review by showing you something I bought right after I watched Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, though.  This is Breyer's 2002 model of Spirit himself:

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Breyer horse model, 2002.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Kuu Kuu Harajuku Dolls by Mattel

At the end of May I was looking at the new wave of Project Mc2 dolls on Amazon (apparently I can't stay away from those science girls!) when a recommendation popped up on my screen: Mattel's Kuu Kuu Harajuku dolls.  I had never heard of these dolls, but they looked really cute in the pictures.  At the time when I was shopping, there were three ten-inch fashion dolls and five four-inch mini dolls available.

The fashion dolls are a bit like a mash-up of Ever After High girls and Little Charmers (with big oval heads, round eyes and good-looking articulation), but they also have Japanese Harajuku-themed accessories...similar to the Shibajuku Girl dolls I reviewed back in December.

The dolls are based on an animated television show inspired by Gwen Stefani's 2004 Harajuku Girls song.  The show's five main characters, G, Angel, Music, Love, and Baby are based on Gwen Stefani and her four (controversial) Japanese backup singers from the Love. Angel. Music. Baby. album.  Dolls were made from each of the five main characters.  I chose to purchase large and mini versions of "G," the lead singer and alter ego of Ms. Stefani herself:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku "G" fashion doll ($19.99) and mini doll ($5.99).

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).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Project Mc2 Dolls by MGA Entertainment

Ever since my friend Melissa told me about the new 11-inch Project Mc2 play dolls by MGA Entertainment, I have been looking forward to writing this review.  There were a ton of things to get excited about with this new doll line.  First of all, the promotional pictures of the dolls make their articulation look incredibly promising.  Also, the girls all have realistic-looking inset eyes that make me think fondly of Spin Master's discontinued Liv dolls.  The icing on the cake is that this new group has a science-based theme, wonderfully geeky personalities, and creative, project-based accessories.  Sounds like a dream come true for me, doesn't it?  Many of you thought so, and generously took the time to email when you saw these dolls show up in stores.  Thank you so much for each and every message--you guys know me well.

This doll line is based on a live-action television series following a group of smart tweens who belong to a secret spy organization called NOV8 (for innovate).  The four members of NOV8 use their S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) skills to go on missions.  The series premiered yesterday on Netflix.

I was in such a hurry to get my hands on these dolls, I ordered all four of the characters on eBay the instant they appeared.  Unfortunately, as those of you on Facebook already know, I ordered too hastily to notice that the dolls I bought were the $14.99 basic versions that have limited articulation.  To get a doll with the number of joints shown in the promotional pictures, you have to order one of the more expensive Project Mc2 playsets ($24.99).  The great thing about ordering the sets, however, is that each one comes with a doll and a fun-looking science-based activity.  After realizing my mistake, I immediately bought one of the sets: McKeyla's Lava Light.  In this review, I will look at McKeyla and her activity, and will also de-box one of my basic dolls for comparison.  Brace yourselves, folks, this is a long one.

review
Project Mc2 "McKeyla" from the McKeyla's Lava Light set, $24.99.

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Doc McStuffins" Dolls by The Disney Store and Just Play

My husband was reading the New York Times the other day and stopped to ask me if I knew anything about Doc McStuffins.  I giggled a little at the name (while picturing Doctor Dolittle, Doctor Who and other such doctor characters...) and said, "nope."  Well, as it turns out, I should have known about Doc, because she's the lead character from a new animated Disney Junior television series called Doc McStuffins.  This show has become incredibly popular among preschool children (and their parents) and the merchandise is starting to appear in all of my favorite stores.

Dottie (aka "Doc") McStuffins is a six-year-old girl who has a special way with stuffed animals and toys.  Following in the footsteps of her physician mother, Doc has set up a small toy hospital inside her backyard playhouse.  In each television episode, Doc fixes or helps a different toy, imparting simple bits of wisdom along the way...and glowing with a kindhearted, intelligent personality.

Miss McStuffins got the attention of the New York Times because she's black, and because she represents a success story for Disney--a company that has been working hard to overcome the racial and gender stereotypes of their past.  I certainly recommend taking a look at the Times' article.  It's short, well-written, and it outlines the reasons why this show is a big deal, both for Disney, and also for a multitude of families who have been waiting for an African-American roll model just like Doc.

I watched several episodes of Doc McStuffins and quickly became enchanted.  It's fantastic.  If my kids were younger, this is what we'd be watching.  When I was a child, Doc's animal-loving personality and affinity for toys would have made her my hero.  As a quickly-converted fan of this show, my first question became: "which is the best Doc Mc Stuffins doll out there?"  Today, I will review two of the larger Doc dolls.  One of them is sold at the Disney Store, and the other is made by Just Play and can be found on the shelves of Toys R Us, Walmart, Target and other big box locations.

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store
"Doc McStuffins" doll from the Disney Store, accompanied by Just Play figures
"Lambie" and "Stuffy."