So, good news and bad news. The good news is that the packages waiting at the post office were indeed my massive shipment from Mandarake, and Juliet’s new shirt. The bad news is that UPS came in the brief window when I went to lunch with my parents, so I missed the Junky Spot order. (Because of the MSC in the order, I have to be present to sign for it; they can’t leave it on the porch, due to the damage that might be caused to the pressurized components in the can. Though that’s probably more of an issue in summer than winter…) Further good news, today’s mail brought the other wig I was waiting on. Further bad news, the Dal I thought would come today did not. (I thought the delivery window was Dec. 31-Jan. 4, but maybe it was Jan. 6? I’ll have to check that…)
So, due to the sheer number of things in the Mandarake order, I’m only posting about the dolls today. The figurines I’ll probably post about tomorrow. (I’ve taken the photos — apart from one I should add of another figurine from the same general series that was already in my collection — but it’d make this post too long to add them all here. Plus it’s time consuming to process all the photos, and I’ll have a long wait tomorrow for the return of the UPS truck.)
I’ll be posting about the dolls in…um…I was going to say rough order of price, but I’m not sure that’s right. Let’s just go with the more accurate “in the order I photographed them.” I know the last two were the most expensive, but I’m not sure about the prices of the rest. (Though I’m sure I could look that up…)
My very first Takara Petit Blythe! Until now, all I had in this size category were the Littlest Pet Shop Blythes from a few years back. (Of which I have a strangely large number…) She looks a little odd in the package because two of her yarn dreadlocks got caught on her eyelashes, preventing her eyes from opening all the way. There were several other Petit Blythes in the same sale category; I picked this one because she had a darker skin tone, and because the one with the cool “mod” outfit had really creepy yellow eyes.
Anyway, I had always wondered what the difference was between the Japanese and American tiny Blythes, apart from the sleep-eye feature I knew the Takara version had. (And yes, I know I could have read someone’s report on the subject, but I’m too lazy to go digging around for reviews that would now be several years old. Plus it’s always cooler to learn this stuff first hand.)
What’s immediately noticeable is the positioning of the head. (And I’m not talking about how the American one’s head is slightly higher; that’s because of her ice skates. I picked this one for the comparison shot because she had the darkest skin tone of the Hasbro ones, but I probably should have picked a different one, if I’d thought about the height difference.) The Takara Petit Blythe seems to be looking downwards, while the LPS Blythe’s face is looking straight forward. They’ve got different styles of stands — the LPS stand is more like a regular Blythe stand, while the Petit Blythe’s stand has stirrups to hold her feet — and Caribbean Jewel here has painted-on shoes rather than separate shoes, but I suspect that varies within the Petit Blythe line. (Though I have no basis for that statement…)
The body molds seem to be about the same, except that the LPS Blythe’s limbs are a bit thicker, presumably to make them sturdier for children to play with, since the LPS Blythes are playline dolls, whereas I’d expect the Petit Blythes to be for adult collectors, just like the Neo and Middie Blythes are. The plastic is also different. The arms and especially the legs of the Petit Blythe are softer, almost more like vinyl than plastic, whereas the entire body of the LPS Blythe is hard plastic.
The differences in the heads don’t stop at the direction of their gaze. The Petit Blythe’s head is constructed just like a Neo Blythe’s (and presumably a Middie’s as well); there’s a very visible seam just in front of the ears, and another one at the scalp, so that all her hair is on a separate section, and could (in theory) be easily replaced. Like a Neo or Middie, the Petit Blythe’s head is shiny, though not quite as shiny as a Neo’s. The LPS Blythe, on the other hand, has a head that’s a single solid piece of vinyl, and her hair is directly rooted into it, just like on most other American dolls, her head is very matte, and has an almost porous look.
The eyes are also constructed differently, even though the eye chips themselves seem identical. On the American doll, the lens of the eye is full forward, flush to the edge of the whites, giving her an almost bug-eyed profile, but putting the irises and pupils of the eyes about where we expect them to be when viewed from the front. On the Japanese doll, however, the lenses are sunk in below the whites of the eye, which gives a look that’s a little different, and hard for me to describe, but you can see it in the pictures, so maybe I don’t need to describe it, per se. Presumably, the sunken eye chips on the Petit Blythe are to allow the sleep-eye function. Additionally, between the sleep-eyes and the slightly downward angle of her face, it’s actually somewhat hard to see her eyes. I had to hold her eyelashes to force her eyes to stay open so I could get a good look at them.
One more comment, before I move on to the next doll, is that I’m surprised she actually looks better with her rasta hat and yarn dreds; I was sure her looks would be improved by removing them, but it turns out otherwise. (Maybe if she had more hair underneath the hat…)
I’ve seen a few of these dolls on Amazon, and had been contemplating one that’s inspired by Lilo & Stitch, but kept feeling the price was a bit high for a doll that was about the same size as a Petit Blythe. (Though that same complaint actually applies to Petit Blythes most of the time…) On Mandarake, there were a whole lot more of them. This was probably the cutest, with the possible exception of the Alice in Wonderland themed one. (But that one was about $30…) Looking at this one in the pictures on the site, I wondered what about her was Disney related, and where the “Cat” part of her name came in.
So I guess she’s a Halloween-themed Aristocats tie-in. Which is weird in all sorts of ways. Anyway, I believe that kitten’s name is Marie, and even if it isn’t, that’s what I’ve decided to name this doll.
So here’s Marie out of her packaging, and it would be hard for her to be any cuter! I most definitely made the right call here. (Though, really, I think it would be hard to go wrong with this line. They all seemed almost unbearably cute.) I only have two complaints. One, I don’t think I’d be able to get her cape back on her if I cut the thread with which it was stitched on (those black things look like they’re supposed to tie the cape in place, but I’m not so sure it would work), so I can’t show you the cute little white dress underneath. Two, I think I’d like it better if she didn’t have those cat ears on her witch hat. But she looks a little off without her hat, in part because of a massive and rather odd case of hat hair.
Like Petit Blythe, she has a sleep-eye feature, and her head is constructed in about the same way, being made of three pieces, the face, the back of the head and the scalp. Her stand (which is heart-shaped) also holds her in place by means of saddles for her feet, and her shoes are painted on, just like Caribbean Jewel’s.
Since the two dolls had the same height measurement, and since Tomy and Takara are the same company, I had assumed, before seeing one in person, that these Dollcena dolls had the same body as Petit Blythes, and that only the head was different. That turned out not to be the case. Since I don’t think I can get Marie’s cape back on her if I remove it, I can’t compare the molds of their torsos, nor can I give a really obvious comparison of their exact height, but I think from looking at this that Marie’s body must be a tinge shorter than the Petit Blythe body, because her head is a bit larger, but their total height seems to be the same. (I should have taken this photo without their hats on…) You can also see one of the easily distinguished differences in their bodies in this photo: Marie is slightly knock-kneed, while the Petit Blythe knees stay well apart. I had a bit of trouble getting Marie into a sitting position, too; those hip joints don’t move as smoothly as the Petit Blythe hip joints do. All of Marie’s body seems to be made out of more or less the same hard plastic, which has a slightly different feel to it than the Petit Blythe hard plastic.
Less visible — mostly due to Marie’s cape — is the difference in their hand sculpts. Marie’s hands are a bit more complexly sculpted than Petit Blythe hands. Also, both of Marie’s hands are in slightly different poses. Unfortunately, I really couldn’t get a good shot. 😦 But these little Dollcenas are extremely cute, so I’m sure I’ll be getting another one sooner or later, and I should be able to get good pictures then.
With all the CLAMP dolly activity lately as I’ve been trying to get my revamped Cardcaptor Sakura dolls assembled, is it any wonder that I decided to snap up this Magic Knight Rayearth doll? (Weird thing: I went to Wikipedia to confirm Fuu’s last name, and while I was at it, I went to the page about the characters to check out their seiyuu, since the anime credits didn’t say. And I had never picked up on the fact that all the cast (other than the three heroines and Mokona) were named after cars. I mean, I’d noticed that in the case of Geo Metro, one of Eagle’s subordinates in the second arc, ’cause that’s kind of obvious, especially since my brother used to drive a Geo Metro, but apparently that’s the case for everyone. I have no idea why Cephiro would be so connected to Earth’s automobile manufacturing industry, but…)
At this time, I’m not planning on de-boxing Fuu. She doesn’t look all that well made, and without the other two Magic Knights, what would be the point? (Even if I did have them, what would be the point of having Fuu without Ferio? And Hikaru without Lantis? And Umi without…okay, actually Umi probably wouldn’t much care about the absence of Ascot…) I do plan on keeping my eyes open for the other two at reasonable prices, though. (In other words, watching what “new” dolls come in at Mandarake…)
My history with Sakura Wars (or Sakura Taisen, depending on which localization you’re looking at of which product) is somewhat spotty. Almost none of the games have been localized, and I never actually finished the solitary game that was brought over. (It was my own fault: I tried to listen to every branch of every conversation, and burned myself out before I’d even gotten to the third battle.) TokyoPop abandoned the translation of the manga adaptation of the original game before finishing it, and when I tried to watch the anime adaptation of the original game, I rage quit very early on, because ADV was being a blockheaded moron about subtitles for song lyrics. (The heroines pilot giant robots by night, and perform in a Takarazuka-style revue by day, right? Well, “by evening,” rather. Anyway, so that means they’re performing in musicals. Which involves the characters singing. And even if the songs aren’t important to the overall plot of the show, they’re certainly important to knowing what the heck is going on in the scene you’re watching. But ADV had this annoying policy when translating song lyrics in the opening and closing credits: on an odd numbered episode they’d provide the English lyrics, and on an even numbered episode they’d provide a Romaji transliteration of the lyrics, so you could sing along or something. (Or vice versa; I don’t remember which way it was.) And the first performance of one of the plays came on a Romaji transliteration episode. So they didn’t translate the lyrics of a song being performed by the characters in the middle of an episode. Ahem. Sorry. I’m still a wee bit bitter about that.) Aaaanyway, I did watch the OVAs, and the movie. And two of the characters really stood out as favorites: Kohran here (or as my brother calls her, “Chinese Lucca,” for her resemblance both physically and personality-wise to the beloved Chrono Trigger character) and Kirishima Kanna. So on seeing a cheap doll of Kohran, how could I resist? Unfortunately, she’s really not very well made; her face bears no resemblence to the character whatsoever. I’m not planning on opening her. (There’s a different line of Sakura Wars dolls in their military uniforms that I think is by a different company, as they seem to be better made. Last time I looked at Mandarake’s site, they had gotten in that other line’s doll of Kanna. I’m tempted to pick that one up if she’s still there next time I’m feeling in the need to make another purchase…)
Yeah. I bought an American doll from a Japanese site. Even I know that’s insane. But they had her for a better price than American sites. And why did I decide to buy this doll I had passed on at the time of her release?
That little Tokidoki gal was making me feel weird about not having even a reproduction of one of the most famous Barbies ever.
I shouldn’t have listened to the temptation to get her, though.
This one isn’t freakish-looking like the “My Favorite Barbie” reproduction was (that one’s face always looked squashed in, and the skin tone was strange) but it’s still not very well done, and pales in comparison to the beautiful original pictured right next her face. Also, the paint job (at least on this one) is rather awful. Her eyes look like they were painted in the wrong place.
I should have just saved my money and looked to get my hands on a real one. 😦 Well, at least next time I’ll know better: if I passed on a reproduction doll at the time, I probably had a good reason to do so. (However, until such time as I do get my hands on a real one, if such a time ever comes, she’s likely to stay in my collection to fill in that gap in the history of Barbie.)
Now we come to the biggest expense of the order:
Yeah, I broke down and got her. Because, I mean, come on! It’s Sakura-chan’s signature outfit! How could I not have it for my “remastered” Sakura doll?! (Adding a set of Clow Cards to her accessories will be nice, too, but the outfit was the big thing.) I like the packaging much better than the American version:
Yeah, I’ve got two of them in box. When that used place I’m always going on about first opened, I found these two, and picked them up because, you know, they’re dolls tying in to one of my favorite manga/anime of all times. It was many months later that I found the huge collection of loose ones and bought one of each character (plus a Sakura identical to this one, so I could have a Tomoyo-chan)…passing up a couple more Sakuras that I now wish I’d gotten for their clothes. Incidentally, I’m thinking of opening this Syaoran. The loose one I got had really bad stains on his clothes that I don’t think are going to come out (unlike the stains on the school uniform, which were almost entirely removed via a little hand-washing) and didn’t have his sword. So I may open this one, take out the sword, and swap his clean outfit for the stained one I already had. And then either put him back with my other “boxed anime tie-in dolls that aren’t actually very good” or sell him back to the used place as “open with box” merchandise.
Funny thing about the backs of these boxes:
Either they didn’t bring over the signature outfit, the one pictured on both the front and back of the box, or they didn’t picture it as one of the dolls in the set. (The loose set I saw at the store had all six of these, but not the signature pink outfit, though, so I suspect these are all they brought over.)
Now check out a sample from the back of the Japanese box:
Look at all the cool outfit packs! Mandarake had some — including that yellow Tomoyo-chan outfit — most of which aren’t pictured here, and I’m definitely tempted to pick them up. Oddly, an Etsy seller had that yellow Sakura outfit, but I couldn’t bring myself to order it (even though I was ordering Sakura’s black and pink kitty outfit from that seller) because that dress is faux leather and it was in really awful shape, yet the seller was asking about $15 for it. That probably reflects what the seller originally paid for it, but I didn’t like paying that much for an outfit in such bad condition that I wouldn’t want to put it on my doll, you know? (Not that the kitty outfit is perfect: it didn’t have the ear headband, but I can make one of those easily enough. Being cloth rather than faux-leather, the dress couldn’t suffer the same degradations of time that the yellow dress did.)
Okay, so that’s the last of the dolls from the Mandarake order. The gallery is located here, and has some additional shots of the dolls’ boxes.
My mother has some oldish/antique china she wants to be rid of (some of it was stuff like unwanted wedding presents she and my dad got 40+ years ago, while other things came from grandparents and such) and she doesn’t want the hassle of putting it in a case at an antique mall herself, so she told me and my brother that if we want to get some money from doing that, fine, but we’d have to do it all ourselves, and if we didn’t, then she was just going to give it away. Some of it’s definitely worth at least a decent amount, so after UPS brings my Junky Spot order tomorrow, I’m going to hit the antique malls to ask about case rental prices….and while I’m there, you know I’m gonna be checking the cases for vintage dolls, because how could I not? (Plus I haven’t done that in forever.) So there may be vintage doll purchases to talk about in the near future. Or there may not be. I need to check my bank balance first. I might need to go back on a dolly diet after all this binge-buying… (But do keep in mind that all of these dolls, plus all the figurines, came to less than Sebastian by himself did. At least before the massive shipping costs, anyway.)