Sunday, November 13, 2016

Some play-line doll news

Kuu Kuu Harajuku dolls by Mattel / Gwen Stefani

I just found this promotional picture of the upcoming Kuu Kuu Harajuku dolls.  They'll be released in Spring 2017.  They're inspired by a cartoon of the same name that was produced by Gwen Stefani, about a girl band.  I think these new dolls are so cute, with their exaggerated, cartoonish look.  I like that there are different skin tones.  Gwen Stefani did a different doll line some years ago that I didn't like at all, but I'll definitely keep my eye out for these new girls.  It seems like they'll have bending elbows, wrists and knees, judging from this photo, but I can't say for sure yet.  I hope they'll come with the stands.

Bratz dolls being discontinued ... again

Apparently the new Bratz dolls didn't get quite the warm reception and mega sales that MGA Entertainment expected, so they're being discontinued again.  If you want any of the current dolls, you'd better grab them now before they disappear off the shelves.  I have no idea whether MGA will attempt to release new versions again later, or if they're discontinued for good.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

More Retro Strawberry Shortcake dolls

After doing that last post, I was inspired to find the 2-packs of the new retro Strawberry Shortcake Classic Dolls that I was missing. I went to Walmart, and they had nothing. I went to Target, and was thrilled to find two out of the three 2-packs sitting on an endcap! I almost missed them, because they were above my eye level, and I'm short. LOL! Anyway, I got both sets. I'm only missing one 2-pack, now. 
There are also a couple of playsets that include a small house and a kitchen set. I'm not sure if I'm going to get those, since they just come with more Strawberry dolls. If they'd come with exclusive characters, I'd snap them up, but I don't really need FIVE of the same character.

Right now, this is the only way you can get Huckleberry Pie. He's so cute! With the addition of these packs, I now have a total of THREE retro Strawberrys, so one of them will have to be scalped and hopefully re-rooted with lavender hair when I find the time. 
Poor Strawberry #3.
The pets are fun. I always thought that yellow one was supposed to be a bear. LOL. I think I'm probably the only person in the world who didn't know it's a mouse.
I really like the clothes on these two girls. That pink dress is darling!
You can find my last two posts on the retro Strawberry Shortcake classic dolls here and here.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Retro Strawberry Shortcake dolls, 2016!

Last year I reported that The Bridge Direct had released an accurate and perfect replica of the original Strawberry Shortcake doll from 1980. You can find my original post, here. This year, they gave her some friends!!! I was thrilled to see all of these in Toys R Us a couple of weeks ago, and had to buy all the ones I found. It was one 3-pack (a Toys R Us exclusive), and two individual dolls.  They're being sold under the name Strawberry Shortcake Classic Dolls.

The boxes came with a cute strawberry print background. 
I couldn't believe it. I always wanted these as a kid, and never had them. One of my cousins had the WHOLE LINE at the time, and I remember child-me being a little jealous of her.

I looked on The Bridge Direct web site, and apparently they've also released a few 2-packs that include the boy character Huckleberry Pie, and several of the pets, and Blueberry Muffin and Lemon Meringue in different outfits. (No Orange Blossom or Angel Cake? Awww.) I'll have to search around, since TRU didn't have 'em. 

Anyway, just wanted to show you these, and let people know they're available. They seem like the kind of thing that both adults and children would enjoy, since adults will of course like them for the nostalgia.
Click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Middle School Moguls

The Middle School Moguls are brand spankin' new for 2016. I first learned about these 11-inch dolls from their original Kickstarter, which raised just over $52,000 to get the line started. I liked the two original prototypes immediately. The tan-skinned, curly-haired Jada jumped into my online shopping cart. The blue-eyed blonde, McKenna, was adorable as well, but I figured I should hold off on ordering more than one. It was a new company, with a new line of toys, and I had no idea what to expect from the final production dolls.  (Sunny, the girl with the blue streaks in her hair, came later.)
The line went through a few changes while in production. McKenna got renamed McKinley when the company's owners learned Mattel already had "McKenna" trademarked. The original name of the line, iBesties, was switched to Middle School Moguls. The character Izzy, shown originally with brown hair, now has purple thanks to feedback they got from interviewing school-age kids. (Hey, who DOESN'T like purple hair?!) Six originally-planned characters were reduced to five in production.
The dolls are meant to encourage girls to be tech-savvy business entrepreneurs, with a mind for the S.T.E.M. fields -- science, technology, engineering and math. I think it's a nice background for the dolls, and more substantive than simply making them characters obsessed with fashion, hair and makeup. Nice.
The Moguls just debuted in some Target superstores this October.
Anyway, I wanted to give you my impressions.
The ones I got were Jada and Sunny. They're cute and elfin, with a quirky body shape with big, round tummies and bums, and relatively short arms. 
Their hair is really soft and nice.
The one issue I saw with the dolls at Target was that the positioning of the eyes is not quite uniform on every doll. Some dolls have eyes that are a tiny bit higher or lower, or closer together than others. The differences aren't extreme, but it's something I noticed. Since this is the dolls' very first run EVER from a brand new company, I expect it's a factory issue that would be fixed in later runs. 
Still extremely cute, though.
The elbows and knees bend, which is so nice! The elbows have a hinge joint that also rotates outward. They can wave hi. 
I had to strip Sunny so I could show you their body sculpt and legs better. They don't come with underwear; I just gave Sunny some yellow undies for modesty. The articulation is OK, but has a few limitations. The biggest issue with the articulation is that although they can sit with knees bent, they're top-heavy because of the large heads. You have to lean them against something when you sit them down, otherwise they'll topple over. So long as they're leaning against something, they can sit nicely with thighs together and look adorable, and can even cross their legs. They'd be able to sit in a doll chair, but only if the chair has a back to it for support.
They can sit with thighs together, but I was balancing her without leaning her against anything, here.

The knees can swivel to do poses like this.
The legs are pretty nicely-formed and look good. The legs have ball joints at the hips, which gives them quite a nice range of motion. The knees are on hinge joints, but also swivel like the elbows. They can actually do splits.

The heads are not on ball joints, and simply move from side-to-side.
The clothes are pretty typical play doll quality, with velcro in the back and unfinished seams, but the fabrics are decent. I'd love to redress these two, but I have no idea what clothes they'd fit into, because anything that fit them in the chest would be too small for their large rear ends. They *possibly* could fit into Barbie shirts if the shirts were stretchy, but it'd be a comical waste of effort to try to squeeze them into Barbie pants.
Each doll is packaged with a different book. I actually wasn't planning on saying much about the books, except I've discovered they have a very unique feature: each is a bit of a "choose your own adventure"-type of story, with four different possible endings per book. That was unexpected and cool. The books are paperback and around 48-to-50 pages, with each having a few full-page color illustrations.
Anyway, I'll be really interested to see where this line goes.  As of writing this, there are four characters available at Target right now, with a fifth (a redhead) currently in production.  Not all Targets have them, though, so you'll have to check their web site to see which ones do.  

Click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review of the Wellie Wishers by Mattel

Wellie Wishers Emerson in a dress I made.
The Wellie Wishers dolls are new for 2016, made by Mattel under the American Girl umbrella. I was completely enchanted by their faces, so I had to get a couple once they made it to my local Toys R Us and I was able to see them in person.
They're being sold at Toys R Us for $60. Much more affordable than an American Girl doll, and every bit as cute. They're 14.5" tall, about the same size as Hearts for Hearts dolls (but more expensive). My TRU was sold out of the blonde and red-haired girls, but had the other three characters. This darling above, Emerson, was actually my first choice, so I was so pleased to see her sitting there on the shelf waiting for me! My second choice was Willa, the (sold-out) redhead. I might have to get her at a later date if I can. She's reportedly the most popular, so I hope I can grab her next time my TRU restocks.  I actually left the store with only Emerson initially, but then a few days later I was at that end of town again for a different errand, and found myself passing by the Toys R Us once more.  I had to go in to get a second girl, the freckle-faced Ashlyn.  Had to.  

Wellie Wishers Emerson (left) and Ashlyn.

Ashlyn didn't come with the butterfly barrettes; I added them.

I want to tell you what I like about the dolls, and what I don't like ... although what I like about them far outweighs my dislikes.
Here's what I like (or love):
1) The faces. So adorable! I absolutely love the faces. Kudos to the person or persons who sculpted such lovely little child faces.
I'm obsessed with this girl's eyebrows.

2) The clothes are cute. I really, really genuinely like the outfits, particularly Emerson's outfit with the striped top. It's a pretty design and looks great.

3) The clothing is a nice quality. You can really see the American Girl quality, here. The fabrics are soft and well-sewn, and the inside seams are finished. The shirts have velcro in the back, which is acceptable since it's a child's toy, and the skirts have stretchy elastic waists. They also come with panties!!! Really nice fabric panties, in pale pink. The boots are soft plastic. They're OK, but I'm not crowing about them. 

4) The dolls are high-quality, even if the articulation sucks (more on that later). Again, the nice American Girl quality is very apparent in the vinyl used, the face paint, and the eyes. I didn't see any wonky-eyed girls in any of the dolls I saw at Toys R Us. The face paint is perfect, and the eyebrows are detailed and adorable. I was comparing online photos of all five girls, and the eyebrows are not identical on each. I know that's a pretty specific detail to notice, but it shows that they don't all have identical face screenings, which is nice. I noticed that the ones with freckles also have DIFFERENT freckles ... not the same screening. So cute. Apparently they are not all the same head mold, either. Emerson and Ashlyn are definitely different head molds.
Wellie Wishers Emerson poses next to an American Girl doll.
5) The wigs are soft, and comparable to an American Girl doll wig. They are wigged, not rooted, so you could technically peel off the wig and replace it with another one if you wanted to, although it would be difficult to peel off. (Warming it up in a heating pad would help soften the glue.) I saw a picture online of Emerson with her hair taken down and put into braids, and it looked so cute. I might do that later if I get tired of this hairstyle, or it gets too messy.
It looks like their wig size would be a 9-10". I wrapped a tape measure around Emerson's head, and it measured almost exactly 10 inches. I suspect a 10-11" wig might be too large, but I'm not going to be taking off Emerson's wig to find out for sure. Just thought I'd mention this in case anyone was interested.

6) The body is all vinyl instead of having a cloth body, so they can wear sundresses with spaghetti straps, and v-neck shirts, and still look amazing. You take this for granted with most dolls, but since American Girl traditionally always had cloth bodies, it's nice to see that their new line does not.
Now for what I dislike about them. There are three things I really don't like:
1. The articulation.
2. The articulation.
3. The articulation.
Argh! When they sit, they sit with their legs splayed VERY far apart, which just looks bad. I have a particular hatred for this time of leg joint, because you can't sit the dolls next to each other when both dolls' legs swing so far apart when they sit. I'd love to pose them sitting next to each other, only it's impossible.

She can't sit in any position but this one, with legs spread.  Still manages to look cute, though.

They don't have bending knees, either, but I didn't expect that anyway, so that particular item wasn't an issue with me. Their arms do not move well, either. They don't have a fully rotational shoulder joint, so you can't lift their arms very well upward from the sides, only front to back, if that makes any sense.  In the picture below, I raised Emerson's arms.  They stay up nicely without being floppy, but you can't swing her arms out to the sides.  This is their only raised position, essentially.
To compare them with Hearts for Hearts dolls: the Hearts for Hearts have better jointing and more flexibility at the neck and shoulders, although their hip joints are about the same.
The arms stay up nicely, but they can't swing outward from this position.

I still love them for their darling faces, though. Their hand sculpts are even cute! Look at the hands! LOOK AT THE HANDS!!! *Keels over from the Cute.*
Anyway, there you have it. I have to go sew some more Wellie Wisher-sized dresses, now.
Later, alligator
Wellie Wishers Emerson (right) posing next to a Hearts for Hearts doll.

Click on the pictures to make them bigger.