Bubbly Bliss (Midi) Blythe

I figured I’d still try to do an alphabet theme for the April Alternative Challenge, so for this first week, a letter from the first quarter of the alphabet.  And that makes a perfect time to show off Stella, Miss Bubbly Bliss, both my first Middie and my first translucent Blythe

I don’t know if it’s because she’s a Middie or if it’s because she’s translucent, but her limbs have a soft, flexible feel to them that my Neo Blythes don’t have.  I feel like her face is more expressive than the Neo Blythes; either because it can be angled as well as turned, or because the wheel to move her eyes gives them a larger range of positions than the four positions for eyechips in a Neo.  (Probably both?)

Her strawberry blonde hair came in two huge banana curls; I’ve done my best to spread them out while not losing the curling waves, but it doesn’t look as good as the promotional photos.  (There’s a shock, right?)

As you can see in this close-up, she has a special color of eyelashes, which are — I think — supposed to match her hair.  This shot also lets you see the stars at the top of the bodice of her dress, and the little bubble-like beads on the straps.

But you may be thinking “wait, didn’t the promotional shots show another accessory?”

This is how I’ve been having her wear her headband between deboxing and today:  loosely balanced on top her head like a rakish little crown.  I really like how it looks this way.

But in the interest of photography, I tried to put it on her “properly,” like a normal headband.  Elastic headbands that go all the way under the back of the head and I, well, we have a troubled relationship.  We’re not really on speaking terms, though I still have a few tossed higgledy-piggeldy on my dresser with an assortment of other hair accessories I don’t use anymore.  But I thought it would be all right on a doll.  The head isn’t constantly moving around and inviting the band to slip, so it should be all good, right?

Wrong.  It might be okay on a Barbie or something, but on a doll whose head is bigger than her body?  Just getting it in place was ridiculously difficult, and then it was messing up her bangs and pushing altogether too much of her hair away from her face.  And when I tried to adjust it a little, I ended up yanking one of the stars off. 😦

So it’s staying a crown on Stella.  (Weirdly, I just stuck the loose star back in place, and it’s staying there.  Even though it had been sewn in place, not glued.)

A nice little comparison shot of the three sizes of Takara Blythes.  Though I could have sworn the Petite was actually facing the camera at the time when I took the photo.  *sigh*  I decided to use Dark Rabbit Hole for this shot instead of Romana so that all three dolls would be stock.  (Even if Stella isn’t wearing her headband “correctly.”)  I wish Petites had the ability to tilt their heads up like Middies.  Or, for that matter, that they just didn’t look so downcast all around.  (That’s one thing at least that can be said for the LPS version:  they look straight ahead instead of down.)

Now, earlier, I said something about how the face of my Haruka (Sailor Uranus) doll had a luminosity that put me in mind of photos of translucent Blythes.

Well, as you can see here, the two types of plastic are decidedly dissimilar, so I’m still at a loss to explain just what it is about the plastic (vinyl?) of that face that’s so unique, so hard to describe.  (Not to mention hard to photograph!)  Just thought I’d tack that on here, since I mentioned it before.

Not a stunning post — Stella deserves better — but it’s better than I’ve done in a while; at least I managed to clear off the photography area in the doll room for some pictures.  But the door into the room’s been kept shut all winter (for a number of reasons, including the cost of heating this house) so the air in there is all strangely stale, and I’m still recovering from being sick, so being in there isn’t good for me right now, and I didn’t want to risk any more photos.  (Oh, speaking of photos, the link to the gallery for this post is here.)

Fortunately, next week’s post is going to be shaking things up a little, and won’t involve any photos of my own doll collection…even though there will still be plenty of doll photos!

And with that little mystery, I shall take my leave. 😉

(The Closets are) Bigger on the Inside

mod dresses 1

Romana:  Doctor, look what we found in the back of one of the closets!

mod dresses 2

Doctor:  “We”?  Don’t tell me you’ve found someone else suffering from the same condition you are?  And why would you bring someone aboard my TARDIS without telling me first?

mod dresses 3

Romana: What do you think?

Hayley:  We look “groovy” and “fab” and all that, right?

mod dresses 4

Doctor:  What…?  Who…who could have left those in the TARDIS closets?  Jo?  No, that’s not her style at all…it must have been Polly, I suppose…

Romana:  Is that all you have to say?

Doctor:  Perhaps I ought to clean out those closets after all.

Hayley:  Your friend’s hopeless, Romana.

Romana:  *sigh*

LOL, couldn’t resist! 😀  Aren’t they great dresses, though?  They’re both from the Etsy seller Buttoncottage, who also made the wool coat Romana was wearing over the winter in my attempt to put her in something resembling her “Destiny of the Daleks” outfit.  The tights are by thedaughterwhosews, and they’re unfortunately just thigh-high tights, so the tops nearly show on Romana.  (The ones Hayley’s wearing are for Pullip rather than Dal, so they go all the way up, no problem.)  As to the boots…trying to find some Blythe-sized go go boots without paying a lot of money turned out to be a no go, so these are Monster High boots.  (In fact, Romana’s wearing the ones that actually belong to Kaiko.)  Hayley had to be positioned as pigeon-toed as I could make her stand, because her boots have red on the sides, which is entirely inappropriate for what they’re pretending to be right now.

BTW, eventually I plan on posting more of these skits.  I have one written up that’s the first time the Doctor sees Romana in her new big-headed form (yeah, that should have gone up as soon as I got her, but I kept wanting a TARDIS interior set for it), and an Alice-themed skit (which should have gone up as soon as Dark Rabbit Hole arrived), and one for Harley Quinn.  But I still need to get off my butt and take the pictures for those other skits…

Decision Time.

Sorry to double post, but I didn’t want to wait until Sunday.  (If you’re looking for my A-to-Z for the day, it’s here.)

See, it’s coming down to time to decide if I’m going to get the new Middie Blythe or not.  I know Middies don’t sell out as fast as Neo Blythes, but…on the other hand, I also know that it’s not like she’s going to drop in price.  I hadn’t really paid too much attention to this doll until they posted this picture of her at Junie Moon:

Photo copyright Takara...but downloaded from CC Toys.  Click for source.
Photo copyright Takara…but downloaded from CC Toys. Click for source.

So, like a lot of other people, I really liked Tangled, and this therefore pushed one of my squee buttons.  Even without the Rapunzel bit, Rampion of the Valley is quite a little cutie.

But that’s part of the rub:  she’s a little cutie.  When I look at pictures of Neos and Middies standing next to each other, it’s clear that Middies are pretty small; they look to be about 2/3 of the size of Neo.  But they cost more than 2/3 of the price of a Neo.  Well, depending on the two dolls in question; I just did a calculation based on the pre-order price for Rampion and the pre-order price for Playful Raindrops.

Regardless of the price and size ratios between Middie and Neo Blythes, the fact remains that Rampion’s price converts to about $122 if I pre-order from Junie Moon, and she’s $128 from CC Toys.  I recall Dark Rabbit Hole having massive shipping costs (like $30), and I don’t remember what the shipping costs for Romana were, but either way, I know the shipping will probably be pretty hefty, inching a fairly small doll up into the $150 range, even if not quite hitting $150.

That feels like an awful lot.

But on the other hand, just like Neo Blythes, Middie Blythes don’t ever seem to go down in price:  instead, they just go up, so that getting them at the time of their release is really the cheapest way to get them, unless you luck into a used one.  And I really do want to get a Middie Blythe at some point.

The price question, therefore, just goes around in circles:  I want one -> But she costs too much -> But she’ll never cost less -> But she’s so small and she costs so much -> But I want one!

Looking at it from other angles, the situation isn’t much more clear.  I have the money, yes.  But I tend to spend money all too readily, so if I have a chance not to spend, I should probably take it.  And there might be a future Middie I’d want even more.  But there might not be.  I’m short on space around here.  But I’ve been trying to clean up so I can add more shelves.  (In fact, I have to, since I don’t even have room to debox Grell and the Undertaker!)  There’s the chance I might move next year, so I should probably try to stop myself from continuing to accumulate stuff like there’s no tomorrow.  (Of course, goodness knows I’ll continue my stupidly spendthrift ways regardless of whether or not I get Rampion.)  But I don’t actually want to move, so I might not.  (Though when I say I don’t want to move, it’s more that I don’t want to go through the horrible, horrible hassle of the moving process.  If I had a magical helper or a super-robot who could do it all for me, I would totally move, no question.  (Assuming I could find a good place I could afford.))

I guess, really, the cost issue is the one I keep coming back to.  If she was in the $80-100 range, instead of either $122 or $128 pre-shipping, I don’t think I’d feel so conflicted.  Or if she was a full size Neo Blythe, that would make me less conflicted, too.  But…for what that small doll costs, I could get two and a half of the 17″ Rapunzels with the light-up lanterns at the Disney Store.  (Why in the world anyone would want two and a half of them is another question entirely.)  I’ve been passing on that Rapunzel doll because she’s $50, so how can I justify spending $122 on a doll less than half her size, doll I only want because she reminds me of that version of Rapunzel?

Looking at the other Middies on Junie Moon, all three of the currently available dolls are the same price.  At CC Toys, the prices vary more, and they have a lot more Middies available…but the cheapest is only $5 less than Rampion.  (And some of them go into the upper $200s!)  Looking at  list of all the Middie Blythe releases, I can’t help but notice that a lot of last year’s releases were 3,000¥ cheaper, at least they were if that site was reporting their prices correctly.  I’m not sure what to make of that, apart from the fact that if that’s true then I obviously needed to get into Blythes earlier if I wanted to get a Middie without feeling like I’m overspending on her.  😦

At this point, I suppose I’m probably just going to keep dithering and do nothing for now.  Junie Moon still hasn’t sold their 100 available pre-orders, so they’ll probably continue to have her in stock after her release date, at least for a while, so I don’t feel like I’m going to miss out if I don’t buy her in the next twelve seconds.

So, anyway, the point of all this blathering is to ask this question:  what do you do when faced with this kind of quandary?  How do you go about your decision-making process?

New Clothes

I was actually able to get some photography done this morning (naturally, before the sun came out…and naturally I wasn’t able to do any while the sun was out) and while most of it was actually for next month, I have a few pictures to show you now.

New Clothes 1

I found Juliet a new outfit in the most unexpected of places:  Toys R Us.  Okay, yeah, actually that’s a totally normal place to find doll clothes, but you wouldn’t expect to find 1/3 scale stuff there, right?  And, technically, this isn’t really 1/3 scale.  I have no idea what scale this is, but it’s actually a bit bigger than 1/3 scale.  (Which is why the sleeves on the jacket are a tad long.)  This is for a 28″ Barbie.  (1/3 scale would have a six foot tall individual be 24″, so even if we assume Barbie to be 6′, 28″ is still more than 1/3 scale.)  Anyway, the outfit actually fits pretty well, but I need to get her some new shoes to wear with it.  Closing the pants (thank goodness there’s velcro at the bottoms of the pants legs!) around the tops of her tall Converse-style shoes is less than ideal.

New Clothes 2

So, the fit’s not perfect.  You hopefully can’t tell from the front here, but the top is too big for her (big surprise), so I had to use a safety pin in the back to make it seem like it was her size.  And yet the pants (which are unfortunately attached to the shirt) are actually pretty tight around her hips.  If it weren’t for the tightness in the hips, I would say “ooh, maybe these will fit Claudette!”  (Yes, I still want to get one of those, despite the other resin BJDs I already pledged for.  The deadline to pledge is the 15th…so around then you’ll probably see either a “omg, I can’t believe I just blew that kind of money” post or a “will I regret not backing her?” type post.)  Still, for a bit under $8, this is a really great outfit! 😛  (The outfit was originally $10, but TRU has a sale on Barbie products right now.)  I am so going to get her some more of them.  Even if they’re only so-so, they’re more clothes to add to her wardrobe, and they don’t cost almost as much as she did.  (Actually, some clothes in her scale cost more than she did.)

Anyway, yesterday saw the arrival of the clothes I ordered for Petite, Curvy and regular Barbies.  I haven’t actually opened my Petite Barbie yet to try her clothes on her (but at least I finally did the in-box shot, so I can open her now) but the Curvy dress looks great.  And my Lammily arrived today, so I once her clothes arrive, I can do the Curvy/Lammily comparison post.  (That may take a while, though.  The order I made at the same time as the Barbie clothes still hasn’t shipped yet (well, it did say 1-2 weeks before it would ship) and the order I made (from a different seller) last night was obviously only ordered last night, so that’s going to take a while, too, though it’s a domestic order, so it shouldn’t take too long to get here.)  The Petite/Skipper comparison post I can do whenever I have the time and the lighting to take the pictures.  Uh, actually, given everything, I should probably try and get those pictures taken as soon as possible.  Maybe I’ll just use artificial lighting and do ’em tonight.

Anyway, the regular-size Barbie coat I got was not actually bought with the intention of putting it on a Barbie, though it doesn’t really fit the doll I did intend it for:

R:  What do you think of my new coat, Doctor? D:  Romana...what have you done to my scarf?
R: What do you think of my new coat, Doctor?
D: Romana…what have you done to my scarf?

(That pose was as close as I could get the Doctor doll to face-palming, btw.)  Anyhow, it occurred to me that this coat is actually more Romana I’s style, so rather than having it hanging all over the place being way too huge for Romana II, I’m going to try and find a Barbie who’ll make a good Romana I.

In other news, I spent all too long this afternoon going through boxes in my basement.  Ack, there’s a lot of crap down there.  I mean, I found all these shoeboxes that had been in my room at my parents’ house and which just got put in larger boxes and brought over here without me bothering to look at what was in them.  And so much of it was just plain garbage.  It’s gonna take me forever to go through all that stuff.  (Why I waited until I’ve lived here 16 years before thinking of going through it I couldn’t say.)  Anyway, I was mostly looking for a beat-up Ken I could use to make a ’80s-style hair band doll from, but the only beat-up Ken I found was my childhood Ken, whose hair I decided to turn from blonde to black by using a Sharpie on it….so now much of his face has been Sharpied, too.  (It’s not a pretty picture.)  Also his head is loose and rattles around because it used to go on a different doll, apparently.  (I’m no longer sure exactly what happened there, but that head clearly doesn’t go with that body.)  He may be too beat-up for the purpose.  I haven’t decided yet.  But!  I did find a lot of other stuff, stuff that was actually pretty cool, while I was searching madly about for the bag of loose Barbies.  (Yes, there’s a bag of loose Barbies down there.  But now it’s a different bag of loose Barbies, because the old one had a dead cricket in it.  Or a grasshopper.  Well, the variant of those things that lives in people’s basements.  I moved all the Barbies to a new, dead-bug-free bag.)  So, anyway, I might post about some of that stuff.  (Actually, at least one thing I found is going into the April A-to-Z, surprisingly enough.)  Or rather about some of the stuff I decided to salvage now and bring upstairs.  I’m not going to post about the miles of crap that’s still down there.  (Though the fact that I still have oodles of games not only on 3.5″ disks, but even 5.25″ floppies…yeah, that’s actually kinda cool.  I doubt they’d still work after they’ve been in a musty basement for 16 years, though.)

Oh, speaking of which, anyone know how to get rust off of doll stands?  I found a couple of them down there, but they’re kind of rusty.  (And one of them really needs to be salvaged, ’cause it’s Little Pullip/Petit Blythe sized!)

Little Pullips, Pull Strings and a Name for Hangry

A bunch of small stuff tonight, nothing that feels quite like a whole post by itself.  I’ve been too depressed the past few days to get anything done, really, so there’s no news on Pyrrha, and Sakura’s face still isn’t finished.  (Her wig and Mei-lin’s new wig have both arrived, though.  But I still can’t style Mei-lin’s wig, ’cause the style is too hard for me to accomplish on those little wigs.  I need to figure that out somehow…)

We’ll start with the pull strings.  I had wanted to wait until all three of my girls had their pull strings prettied up, but given Pyrrha’s situation, there’s no point in doing anything to her string until her eye mechanism is fixed up.

Alice's pull string
Alice’s pull string

Obviously, I wanted her pull string to reflect her theme.  So instead of a ring, she’s got a jumbo red heart, and in addition there’s a rose that’s in the midst of being painted red, and a mushroom for the caterpillar.  I also got some neat black metal locks and a key, but there was no room.  I’ll use them on the second string if I ever decide to give her sleep eyes.

Romana's pull string
Romana’s pull string

Obviously, the theme here was TARDIS blue, with some gears thrown in to go with the gear-themed eye chips I’m going to give her eventually.  I think my homemade TARDIS charm worked out pretty well. 🙂  Sadly, though, three of the types of beads I got to use for her pull string had such tiny holes that I couldn’t get them on the string. 😦

The beads that didn't make it...
The beads that didn’t make it…

The blue crystals were supposed to represent the crystals from Metabilis III.  The black pearls just looked cool (like asteroids or something?) and the sparkly black cubes had a nice starfield-like look to them.  But none of them could fit on the string. 😦

Anyway, speaking of space-type stuff:

Little Cosmic Jupi
Little Cosmic Jupi

Yup, I finally opened the two original Little Pullip dolls.

Little R
Little R

So now that I’ve opened them, I can give some comparison notes between Little and Little+.  The stands are a bit different (so naturally I forgot to take a picture of the empty stands), but I can’t compare how well they work, because the outfits on both Littles prevented me from using their stands.  (Naturally.)  The hair in R’s wig is of a decidedly lower quality than any other Pullip wig — of any size — in my collection, but Cosmic Jupi’s wig is more normal, so I think it’s just that R got odd hair.  The main difference is in the face.  The plastic has a different texture, and feels a bit less refined in the original Littles, and the face-ups on the Little+ dolls are much more advanced.  Also, some of the Little+ dolls have nicer eyes, though many have eyes that are basically identical to the ones on the original Littles.  As far as I can tell (without undressing the dolls) the bodies are pretty much unchanged.

And finally, I’ve come up with a name for Dal Hangry:

"Yeah, me?  I'm Hayley."
“Yeah, me? I’m Hayley.”

I’ve been trying to put together collection pages, with accompanying photo galleries, and as I was doing that this morning, I realized I couldn’t get any further on the Dal page until this girl had a name of her own.  And — just after I shut down the computer to come back to it later — I looked up at her in her Doctor Who-themed outfit, and remembered what my brother had told me about how Hayley Atwell wants to be the next Doctor, and I thought “hey, that’s not a bad name!”  I had wanted her to have an H-name, since Angry got named Aiko, and…I dunno, it just felt right, even though it doesn’t particularly fit the personality she’s developing.

Pyrrha update

Well, Pyrrha is finally put back together, for the moment.  Unfortunately, I seem to have damaged her eye mechanism, so I’m going to have to buy a new one. 😦  Anyway, please forgive the lousy picture quality (this room is not good for late night photography) but here’s her current appearance:

Pyrrha update 1

Being taken apart and stored in a box for more than a week did not do her bangs any favors. 😦  Anyway, as to her face-up, I did the black eyeliner for two reasons.  1) I’ve been playing Hatsune Miku Project Mirai DX lately, and that’s how the Vocaloids all look.  2) I was really impressed by how good that looked on Rory.  (Sorry if it feels like I’m copying you, Olive.)  I never did manage to get them to quite match up, though.  Her lips look better at a distance than close-up, and her cheeks aren’t quite evenly matched,  but I think they look acceptable.  Anyway, what you’re seeing right now is just paper eyes with no eyechips in front of them.  These were the chips that were to get the heart-pupil chips, but one of those was a bit too thick, and my attempt to make it thinner proved disastrous, so I need to make new ones.  Well, technically I only need to make one new one, but since the not-ruined one is the one with the damaged bead, making two new ones makes more sense.  In any case, I can’t actually switch her eyes to have other eyes facing out because of the damage I did to the mechanism.  Three of the four sides swap just fine, but this one won’t swap out unless I’m inside her head moving it by hand.  I think that’s because the next set of eyes is this one:

Pyrrha update 2

They look really cool there, right?  And they fit under the eyelids in the front-facing slot, so I was like “Yessss!” and put them in place here, and tried to use them.  Only they didn’t fit so well under the eyelids in a side slot, and consequently I damaged the eye mechanism.  Obviously, I’ve taken these back out again, but the damage is already done. 😦

Anyway, I also gave her sleep eyes and painted her eyelids:

Pyrrha update 3

Plain bronze eyelids seemed a bit over the top, so I added some metallic plum.  I would have liked to do a gradient, but those are for people with skill and/or airbrushes.  So I did a stripe at the base, and then painted a thin layer of plum above that, and wiped most of it off, to leave only an (inconsistent) hint of the additional color.  I probably should have replaced her eyelashes with ones that looked a bit nicer, but…that seemed awfully fiddly.  (Maybe I’ll do it when I have to take her apart again to replace her eye mechanism.)

Anyway, I have to get ready to go to the museum, so I’ll sign off here.  (Ugh, I don’t want to go!  It’s 40 and raining out, and the temperature is going to drop all day, and the rain’s supposed to turn to snow by afternoon.  This is an ideal day not to leave the house, so why am I driving ten+ miles to sit in a basement doing work I’m not being paid for?)

EDIT — I found a trick online while at the museum that may let me fix her eye mechanism.  I’m going to experiment with it later tonight and/or tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how it goes.  (And if it works, I’ll be sure to share it, in case anyone else has the same problem!)  Also, the storm mostly passed us by, so I didn’t get caught in any snow.  (But tomorrow’s still supposed to have a high of 19 degrees Fahrenheit, and I still have to go back down to the museum again.  Bleah.)

2nd EDIT — My first attempt to fix the mechanism failed.  The instructions I found said to use the stick from a cotton swab, but specifically the plastic stick, and the only ones I have are the kind with the cardboard stick, which looks a bit thinner than the plastic one in the photo.  That didn’t work (and I decided it’s way too cold outside to go downtown, plus I was feeling sort of woozy at the time I would have needed to leave, so I’m staying home today where it’s less cold, and can’t get the right kind today) but I’m going to try again whenever I can find some cotton swabs with plastic sticks.  (Assuming I can find some.  I know I’ve bought some like that in the past, but what if they don’t make them anymore?  Then I’ll have to figure out something else that might be the right size.)

Mandarake Dolly Haul!

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…)

Mandarake Dolls 1
Petit Blythe “Caribbean Jewel”

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.)

Comparison time!
Comparison time!

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.

Mandarake Dolls 21 Mandarake Dolls 22

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…)

Dollcena "Flying Witch Cat"
Dollcena “Flying Witch Cat”

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.

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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.

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Comparison time! (Again!)

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.

Mandarake Dolls 25 Mandarake Dolls 26

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.

CharaDoll Selection "Fuu"
CharaDoll Selection “Hououji Fuu”

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…)

CharaDoll Section "Li Kohran"
CharaDoll Section “Li Kohran”

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…)

Reproduction "Malibu Barbie"
Reproduction “Malibu Barbie”

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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

Notice something missing?
Notice something missing?

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.)