AZIAM Yoga Doll Niyama – Comparison and (sort of) Review

I have literally been planning this post since December.  I bought this doll as part of a Black Friday sale.  That’s how long I’ve been having trouble motivating myself to take pictures.  (Although the lack of good photography space around here is a large part of it.  To the extent that I literally took all these dolls over to my brother’s (much cleaner) house to take the photos.)

Anyway, AZIAM Yoga Dolls is a new(ish) line of dolls with a mission.  And I’m feeling too lazy to try to paraphrase it, so I’m going to quote their website instead:

The AZIAM Girlz brand is dedicated to teaching girlz to love who they are, as they are. Using the basics of Yoga to teach positive self- and social- awareness, we have designed clothing, accessories, bags, yoga products, jewelry, headwear, games, programs and books to make the Yoga experience more colorful for our Goddess in Progress™.

And so on.  So this is an independent doll line attempting to bolster girls’ self-image and helping them build up a positive outlook on life, et cetera.  A noble goal, well worth supporting.  (And OMG, when I was on the site to get that quote, I noticed they have a plush meditating cat.  I think I may need that.)  I’ve been keeping tabs on the prices since reading about their Toy Fair 2016 appearance at Confessions of a Doll Collector’s Daughter.

So, way back in late November when I bought this doll, there were two dolls on the site that got the maximum sale.  One was a Californian blonde, and the other was a Brazilian brunette.  Obviously, I went with the brunette.  (I mean, okay, yeah, I have lots of brunette dolls, too, but…I’m pretty sure blondes still outnumber everything else.  (I’m looking at you, Mattel.)  It would have been cooler if the redhead or the African-American had been on the sale, but they weren’t.  I’m not even sure they were in stock.  I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen that website list them as being in stock, in fact.)

So here’s Niyama in her box…in a really lousy photo. 😦

And here she is out of her box, in a much less lousy photo. 😛  In person, the first thing that always strikes me when I look at her is how odd her skin tone is.  It doesn’t really feel like a shade found in human beings, though I lack the appropriate terminology to explain why.  (I think the brown needs a touch more red in it?  Maybe?  I don’t know…it’s more of a gut reaction than anything logically definable, and the color doesn’t come through totally accurately in the photos.)  Probably the first thing you noticed in looking at the picture is that her knee joints are really ugly. 😉  Nothing to be done about that; the design is necessary to give her the full range of motion required.

Okay, the title promises a (sort of) review, so let me get that out of the way before I get to the comparisons, which will make up the bulk of the post.  (And will contain large amounts of nude dolly yoga, so be forewarned!)  Her range of motion — as you’ll see in a moment — in the legs is impressive, and well worth the unattractive joints required.  The clothes are nicely made, and her accessories, while nothing special, are quite acceptable.  The box proclaims that her yoga mat can turn into a “Girl Power Cuff”, AKA a slap bracelet, which is true…and also means that her yoga mat is really, really narrow.  You’ll see it in one of the photos below.  As to her clothes, I don’t know if she can really share clothes with any other dolls.  Maybe Barbie.  I forgot to check that, unfortunately.  (Although as I was dressing her again after the yoga photos, I started putting Barbie’s pants back on her by mistake, and they were fitting, so I think she probably can wear at least some Barbie clothing.)

One of the main selling points on any doll is, of course, the doll’s face.  And that’s where it all gets largely subjective.  Unfortunately, I look at the faces of this doll line, and I’m not impressed.  Something about them just doesn’t speak to me.  They’re a little like Winx faces, but not quite as charismatic, or something.  But, as I said, it’s subjective.  I don’t much care for the faces, but I can only speak for me:  I’m sure there are others who like them, and I haven’t the foggiest where the majority opinion lies on the subject.  (Actually, the majority probably lies with “never heard of it/don’t care.”)

Okay, so moving on to the comparisons!  The main comparison, of course, will be a Made-to-Move Barbie.  Specifically, the African-American one from the first wave:

But there will also be cameo comparisons with other dolls, two of them new.  (One, in fact, literally arrived the day I took these photos!)  So before I get on with the comparisons, let me introduce the new dollies.

 

I’ve been meaning to pick up the Photographer Lammily for a while now, and a while back they had a sale at their website, so I got her and three outfits.  Which I meant to try on her and Lana for this post, but then I forgot to bring Lana and didn’t really feel up to trying them on the new girl, either, so…maybe that’ll be a later mini-post or something.  I don’t have a full name worked up for this new doll yet, though I’m thinking possibly Nicole for her first name.  I’m also thinking she should might be French, or perhaps Quebecois.  Anyway, I wanted to have her take part in this post because one of the outfits I didn’t end up getting from the Lammily site was a yoga outfit. 😉  (The rest of her box shots are in the gallery.  Lammily boxes are so much more interesting than most fashion doll boxes!)

The other new doll I only included because she had literally only arrived that day.

She’s an Integrity Dolls Nu Face that I got from Tiny Frock Shop, along with a bunch of super-cheap clothes they got on an amazing deal when a line called Avastars went under.  (She’ll be wearing some of the clothes later on.)  And yes, this is exactly how she arrived.  No box, no clothes, nothing.  I’m not sure what’s up with that.  I mean, I knew I was buying a nude doll, I just don’t know why she’s nude and without a box.  She’s my first from the line, so I don’t really know much about them yet.

The other two dolls taking part in the comparison are a Liv doll with double-jointed knees (why did they make multiple leg styles for such a short-lived doll line?) and Zeenie Doll Sini, who I was including because I wanted to try swapping her clothes with Niyama’s, only then I couldn’t get her jacket over her wrists, so I abandoned the idea. 😦  I didn’t include any J-Dolls, Obitsu, Azone, et cetera, because I wanted this comparison to focus on playline dolls (which is why the Integrity doll shouldn’t have been included, naturally), and I didn’t bother with Monster High, Ever After High, and the countless others around here because they’re all jointed pretty similarly, so I figured Sini could stand in for the rest of them.  Also because that would have been a lot of dolls to cart over to my brother’s place. 😛

Before getting to the yoga, I thought they should all kneel nice and proper as a pre-workout greeting.  (And I put the Integrity doll into one of the Avastars outfits so she wouldn’t be naked when everyone else was clothed.)

And that’s when I decided I wasn’t going to try putting all the dolls in all the yoga poses.  The Lammily doll was especially bad at trying to kneel.  (Though I guess, in her defense, most dolls with click knees would be.)

A side view of the kneeling postures of the three who came anywhere near a proper kneel:

As you can see, those extra long kneecaps on Niyama are very effective for a naturalistic kneeling pose!  (And I have to say that the Made-to-Move body seen in this pose from this angle makes it especially obvious just how freakishly tiny Barbie’s feet are.  Isn’t foot-binding illegal?)

One last thing before the yoga:  straight-up-but-simple body comparison between AZIAM and Made-to-Move Barbie.

Surprisingly, the “healthy body image” AZIAM doll has a much narrower waist and larger breasts.  (Though not by much in the case of the breasts.)  Her feet are a more naturalistic size, though, and she has a waist joint.  Her head’s also huge, but that’s a stylistic thing.  A big difference in the way the joints are handled is that in designing the Made-to-Move body, Mattel was just as concerned — if not more concerned — with making sure the body still looked good as with giving it great range of motion.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, and the Made-to-Move body still represents a huge improvement over all previous Barbie bodies, and likely meets all the basic requirements of a child at play quite easily.  (Though I’ll say in advance that having put her through these various posing challenges, I’d really like to see Mattel add a waist joint to the Made-to-Move body!)

One thing really surprised me in comparing the joints on these two dolls:

Though the two dolls have the same number of leg joints, Barbie has much better arm joints:  she has a rotator joint just below her shoulder, and a double-jointed elbow, while the AZIAM body only has standard elbows.  (You’ll notice the molded-on bra, which is sort of an odd thing, btw, since she doesn’t have molded-on panties the way Barbie does.)  This is probably the best shot of Niyama’s face in this post, btw, so you can get a good look at her face-up.  The eyes are very detailed, and have a large number of (painted-on) eyelashes, but…I don’t know.  I can’t honestly put my finger on what it is about the AZIAM faces that doesn’t sit right with me.

All right, so now it’s finally time to try some yoga!  Niyama came with a helpful sheet illustrating a few simple poses, and those are what the dolls are going to be attempting.  (Because that way I didn’t have to look up any yoga poses online!  Yay for laziness! 😛 )

So there are five poses, yeah?  Let’s see how they do!

  

At first glance, it may look like Barbie’s winning here, since she’s upright and Niyama’s leaning over, but that’s just because I had slightly better luck leaning her against the wall. 😛  (I really should have brought some doll stands with me!)  Niyama’s (really ugly) hip joints definitely allowed her to do this pose better than Barbie could:  Barbie’s foot couldn’t reach her leg, and her leg is angled forward where it’s supposed to be straight out to the side.

These two did such a poor job with the pose that I didn’t even bother trying to get them to stand up, and just took the photos of them lying down in position.  I also realized there wasn’t much point in trying to get the other dolls to replicate the yoga poses, because their single jointed legs just couldn’t handle it.

Next position!

It’s obvious that Niyama’s waist joint gave her a serious edge here.  The way Barbie held the pose, I wasn’t even sure which was the less wrong way to position her. 😛

Next!

  

Like an idiot, I photographed them head-on in this pose, instead of at an angle. 😦  They both did all right with it, though the arm positions are more natural for Barbie.  And trying to get a doll to balance on teeny tiny Barbie feet is really, really hard!

Next!

Again, Niyama’s hip and waist joints give her an advantage over Barbie, but really Niyama falls pretty far short of the mark, too.  To the point where I can’t help wondering why they were including this pose on their little sheet, since their doll couldn’t do it very well.  (Presumably because it was an easy pose for the girls playing with the dolls to achieve?)

And last pose!

Yeah, the basics of this pose aren’t hard for any doll to muster.  Niyama managed to make it look more like an intentional pose and less like “my doll fell off the shelf.”

 

Post-workout meditation

I based my attempt at the meditation pose on a photo of a kid doing the pose that was on the reverse side of the sheet with the yoga positions.  It actually looks worse on Niyama than on Barbie.  (Though the sample shots of some of the AZIAM dolls on the website showed a better version of this pose, so it was actually that I screwed up, not that the doll can’t handle it.)  Those Made-to-Move shirts are a pain to put back on (plus this one was an ugly neon yellow) so I put Barbie in the Avastors pet-lover outfit.  (Okay, actually, I think it’s a vet outfit minus the lab coat, but whatever.)

What could be better after a work-out than to relax in a hammock?  (Other than lounging in a pool, that is.)  I got this on sale a while back, and this was just the excuse I needed to open it up!  (I couldn’t get a decent shot of the back to show the larger version of the photo on the front, but that’s a Made-to-Move in the picture.  Trying to get a regular Barbie to use this would be an exercise in frustration.)

Niyama is probably wondering why it took me six months to put her shoes on. 😛

Of course, Barbie is cuddling with the sleeping kitty that came with the hammock.  Because someone had to, and she is the one wearing a shirt with paw prints on it. 😛

My as-yet nameless Nu Face is playing her new guitar to distract herself from the fact that she totally doesn’t fit in this hammock. 😛  (The guitar and all her clothes also came from Tiny Frock Shop.  Sadly, the other coat I got, an awesome silver one with a glittery blue lining, really didn’t look good with this silver jumpsuit, so I’ll have to wait until later to show it to you.  It was the reason I made the order, though.)

Just reaching for a drink…

“No, no photos, please!”

Either I never tried to have Lana sit down, or I’d forgotten just how badly Lammily dolls sit.  Is that just poorly designed hip joints, or do curvy Barbies have the same problem?  I’ll have to check that at some point.  I love the fact that her palms are lighter than the rest of her, but they didn’t do it very carefully, and some of it sort of bleeds over onto the sides of her hands. 😦

And Sini didn’t fit in the hammock at all, so no photo of her trying.


So, nice long post…which doesn’t really make up for the fact that I’ve been silent for so long, but…well, it is what it is, right?

I make no guarantees about future posts.

Oh, wait, no, I wanted to do a lot of posts in June!  But probably short ones.  I should start working on the photos as soon as possible.  Like maybe tomorrow morning, if my brother’s okay with me bringing over some figures to photograph…

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