Showing posts with label vintage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vintage. 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 22, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Li'l Secrets by Mattel!

I don't know why, but that last review--the Forces of Destiny dolls--took forever.  I would sit down to work on it first thing every morning, but I'd usually get distracted within minutes.  I think it was partly because the review has so many pictures.  It's also probably because the weather here feels like summer (still) and I want to be outside.  Another distraction is that my youngest son is applying to colleges (how did that happen so fast?) and so we're wrapped up in a turmoil of decisions, deadlines and details.

I thought that perhaps a good counterbalance to the last review would be a quick Sunday Surprise post--better yet, a vintage Sunday Surprise post.  I get a huge thrill from discovering new vintage surprise toys, and it's pure fun to share these discoveries with you guys!

I don't even need to write much of an introduction to this post, because the star of today's review, a Li'l Surprise doll from 1994, describes her mysterious nature better than I ever could.  Quite simply, the girl has secrets in her hair:

Mattel's Li'l Secrets doll (1994).

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday Surprise: WuvLuvs by Trendmasters!

In the comments section of my recent Hatchimal Colleggtibles review, Caroline mentioned a beloved surprise-themed toy from her childhood.  The toy was called a WuvLuv.  Caroline described this vintage toy as having "eggs and surprises," which was more than enough to get my attention.  I love vintage toys...especially ones with surprises.  I read Caroline's comment and went immediately to eBay, where I found a mint-in-box yellow WuvLuv for under $50.  That's a hefty price, but it's more reasonable than many of the surprise-themed vintage toys I've encountered--especially considering that this WuvLuv's box had never even been opened.  Needless to say, I bought it instantly.

So today, thanks to Caroline, we get to hatch a secret egg and see a mystery baby that's been hidden for almost 18 years!

A WuvLuv (1999) by Trendmaster.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sunday Monday Surprise: Bratz Secret Date!

There were only about two minutes between the time I read an anonymous comment about Bratz Secret Date dolls and the moment I clicked "Buy it Now" on eBay.  This is exactly the kind of toy that appeals to me (a vintage doll with a hidden surprise!) and I never even knew the line existed until I read that comment.  So--although I can't thank you by name--many thanks to Anonymous for the outstanding suggestion!

The Bratz Secret Date series was introduced in 2004.  The collection included five of the Bratz girls (Meygan, Jade, Yasmin, Cloe, and Nevra), each packaged with a hidden blind date doll--one of five Bratz Boyz characters.  Cool idea, right?  The Secret Date collection ignited some controversy, though, because the title of the line and the suggestive commercial implied that the Bratz girls were going out in secret (without permission from their parents) with a boy they'd never met.  In 2004, a time when concerns were brewing over kids meeting strangers online, the backlash to this series of dolls was understandable.  I truly believe that the intention behind the theme was innocent--but that ad certainly makes me uncomfortable.  What do you guys think?

In response to the criticism, MGA Entertainment quickly renamed the series Blind Date and updated all of the packaging.  Today I will show you Yasmin (and her blind date!) from the original Secret Date collection:

Bratz Secret Date Yasmin, 2004 ($29.99).

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday Surprise: Mommy-to-be Judith Dolls!

I realized yesterday that there are only two Sundays left until Christmas.  Two.  Can you believe that?  It took me totally by surprise.  It's much more typical that I'm waiting and waiting for Christmas, moping around the house because I feel like the big day will never come.  Things seem to be happening faster than usual this year for some reason.  Anyway, this realization threw me into a panic because I have a bunch of different Sunday Surprise toys that I wanted to chat about before the holidays, and now I can only look at two of them!

Today I want to show you something called the Mommy-to-be Judith doll.  This doll was developed in Europe (I think?) and introduced into the United States in 1991 (back when I was a kid).  There's not much information about these dolls on the internet, but there's a Chicago Tribune article from 1992 that's been archived online.  This article states that Judith is believed to be the first pregnant play doll distributed in the United States.  That's pretty cool!  Of course Mattel came along a decade later with their pregnant Midge doll, but the Judith Corporation was apparently first on the scene.

So why is Judith a good doll for the Sunday Surprise?  Well, because the gender and appearance of her little baby is a mystery!  And, what makes this doll unusually fun is that the company put boy babies in half of their dolls and girls in the other half (according to the Tribune article).  So I have an actual 50:50 chance of getting a little boy today!  Better yet, I'm going to de-box two Judith dolls, and while this won't change the odds of either baby being a boy...at least I have two chances.

Mommy-to-be Judith doll (1991).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Surprise: Magic Nursery Toddlers by Mattel!

My goodness, Sundays come around quickly, don't they?  This used to feel like a bad thing because Sunday symbolizes the dwindling weekend.  While Saturday morning is filled with possibilities, Sunday morning is time to clean the bird cages, vacuum the dog hair, and get ready for another week of work.  Sundays have transformed a bit in my mind recently, though.  I have a new-found appreciation for Sunday because this is the day when my son calls home from college...and also because it's the day when I get to look at another surprise doll!

The Sweet e.Baby that I reviewed during the last Sunday Surprise had a secret gender and a secret name hidden with a CD...technology that was new enough in 1999 to feel magical.  In 1990, about a decade before the Sweet e.Baby, Mattel came up with a doll whose gender was hidden within another seemingly-magical concoction: a dissolving hospital gown.  Yes, that's right--a gown that completely disintegrates in water to reveal the gender announcement (and a new outfit).  Mattel called these babies Magic Nursery dolls.

The idea might sound far-fetched, but it was wildly popular.  My parents should thank their lucky stars that I was not a child of the 90s, because this kind of toy would have been completely irresistible to me.  It's even irresistible to me now, almost thirty years later, when unopened Magic Nursery dolls--with all of their surprises still hidden--can cost a small fortune.

Magic Nursery Toddler doll by Mattel (1990).

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, September 13, 2016

The My Twinn Project Conclusion

Here, at long last, is the finale of the My Twinn Project!  Amidst back-to-school pandemonium, an emergency bathroom renovation and adventures with a sick parakeet, I finally found a free morning to take the My Twinn crew to a nearby state park for their final photo shoot.

My original intention was to re-publish all of the installments of this project as one big post--so you wouldn't have to click back and forth.  However, since the installments ended up being longer than I intended (big surprise), I will just link back to part one and part two for those who would like to see all of the details.  For anyone who has been following along, I'll simply supplement today's post with little reminders of what I've already done.

This project has been an incredible amount of fun. I gained a new appreciation for the My Twinn brand of dolls (at least the older ones) and learned a lot of restoration and cleaning skills along the way.  I feel like I had varied success with my results, though, and I'll talk about that in some detail today.  Are you ready?  I certainly am!  I'll jump right in with a sneak peek of my favorite (and the most dramatically improved) doll, Miss Tasha:

Restored Denver era My Twinn Tasha doll.

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.

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).