Yup, today I’m looking at a material, rather than a specific doll. In order to add some variety, y’know?
When I was a girl, at some point I started really insisting that I wanted “a china doll.” In all honesty, I’m not sure what I thought I meant by that — I don’t even remember when it was, specifically — but I do know that my parents tried to indulge me. (Probably because they preferred that request to demanding a Barbie.) So the first one they got me was this one:
Looking at her now, I see a bisque doll reproducing (if in miniature) the feel of mid- to late-19th century German shoulder-head dolls with human hair wigs. Looking at her then, all I saw was “not what I want.” Because I was a kid, and kids can be unreasonable and selfish. (Actually, adults usually are, too, but at least we’re aware of it and do our best to tamp down the worst of it. Usually.)
I have two others that came out of this childhood desire for “a china doll,” but I’m not 100% sure which came first. I’m going to start with the lesser doll, though I have a sinking feeling she came second of the two.
Much larger than the previous doll, as you can see, her hair is a bit nicer, and her porcelain skin is in a human coloration, rather than being stark white. (I’m not sure at what point she lost a shoe…)
God, the dust! It terrifies me how dusty some of these dolls are, considering they live on a shelf beside my bed and I’m allergic to dust. (Yeah, I know, bad idea all around.) Anyway, see her little necklace? It’s a bracelet I got on a trip to the Southwest. Somewhere around here I have a matching necklace in human size. Well, actually, it may have been “little girl sized” to begin with. Anyway, before I move on, as I was getting the worst of the dust off this doll (yes, it used to be even worse!) for the photo, I noticed her tag, and was surprised to find she’d been made by Russ. Who knew?
All right, now we’ll move on to the coup de grace — admittedly rather early in the post. The most wonderful and important porcelain doll I will ever own:
I’m sure looking at her you can see one of the reasons I treasure her, since she’s inherently a lovely doll. But the other reason, the more important reason, isn’t something that’s visible at all. You see, this doll was hand made from a kit by my grandmother. She knew I wanted a china doll, so she bought that kit, and sewed this extremely lovely and complex doll body and dress for me.
In many ways, she will always be the prize of my entire doll collection because of that.
I just hope I was sufficiently grateful at the time. (Sadly, I don’t remember at all.)
In any case, we’ll move away from the sublime to the more-or-less normal.
After I hit my teens and I still had a passion for dolls, my mother convinced me to channel it into a new and fancy dollhouse, because “miniatures” are okay no matter how old you are, but dolls aren’t. (Yes, she sometimes still gets on my case for collecting dolls. Even though I’m 40 now, and what I do is really not any of her concern.)
So, I traded my childhood dollhouse for a fancier one with nicer furniture (though I still have a little bit of the original childhood furniture) and with nicer dolls to live in it….
The mother and father are only porcelain in their heads (and maybe feet and hands in his case), but the two kids are all porcelain, having been jointed with pins at the shoulders and hips.
So, anyway, those are the porcelain dolls from my pre-adult life. Though I suspect that what I really wanted back when I said I wanted “a china doll” may have been something more like this:
Yup, that’s a porcelain Barbie. I’ve actually got a surprising number of them, due to those Mattel outlet stores I mentioned a few days ago. 😛 It feels a little cheap only photographing one of them, but…they’re all either holiday or bridal dolls, and they all have the Superstar face mold, too. So they’re a bit repetitive, really. I picked this one because I like her dress, and she was the easiest to get out of the display case. 😛
There’s one other porcelain doll I took out of the same display case, but she’s very different in pretty much every way:
She’s small, inexpensive, and very badly lit. Wait, that last one’s circumstantial. Anyway, she’s kind of fun regardless of being cheap.
I have three more dolls to show you, but I think we’ll go in roughly the order I got them, even though it’s chronologically all wrong for the dolls themselves.
Yup, porcelain Bratz. MGA only put them out pretty briefly, as far as I know. I think it was right before Bratz shut down the first time. As I’ve said before, I’m not exactly a Bratz fan. But I do love things like this with minor historical value — oddities and unique products — and I never really got over my yen for “a china doll” so…I ended up getting two because I liked the clothes on one and the doll on the other. (But then since I never opened either one, it hardly mattered in the long run…)
This was the one where I liked the doll, but not the clothes, naturally. Swap the outfits on the two of them, and I’d have only needed the one. :p
Okay, all right, I’m ready to finish up this post by showing you the porcelain doll in my collection who’s both newest and oldest. She’s the one I acquired most recently — just a few years ago — but she’s almost certainly the oldest doll I own.
She’s a Nancy Ann Storybook doll. Isn’t she sweet? There’s something about these little dolls that just tugs at my “awwww!” strings. 😛
Anyway, that’s been “P is for Porcelain.” I hope it broke up the monotony a little. 😀
Meet Adrienne Attoms. (Yes! I finally remembered to get in-box shots on one of these!) For those of you coming here direct from April A-to-Z, as you can probably tell from the box, she’s part of a doll line called Project MC², which is a tie-in to a Netflix series. I have never actually watched said series, and likely never will, ’cause I don’t really do much watching, and family entertainment is not usually my bag (though there are exceptions). There are four characters in this doll line, and this makes the last of the Wave One dolls to join my collection. The other characters are McKeyla McAlister, Bryden Bandwedth, and Camryn Coyle.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on with the post. (No more shameless plugs to old posts, I promise!) Before I get to the doll herself, I have something to say about that box! “Make your own volcano eruption!” Um, seriously? Your doll line about super-smart high schoolers has “Make your own volcano eruption!” written on one of the boxes? Are you sure you want to do that? ‘Cause it’s freakin’ lousy English, I gotta tell ya. Not, perhaps, strictly wrong, but it is not how one would normally say it. “Make your own volcano erupt” or “make your own volcanic eruption” would be the normal ways of putting it. The latter, I think, would have been the ideal way to say it. Certainly that’s what my eye always auto-corrected it to say. (Automatic in-eyeball auto-correct can be a problem, of course. There was a local election lawn sign up last month for a candidate called “Dimmitt” and my eye kept deleting the second “t” and turning the “m” to a “w” because that was a word and the other wasn’t. Unfortunate, that. (And I have no idea who the guy even is, as that was for a district I don’t live in.))
There’s something about Adrienne I really like. She’s like a cross between Honey Lemon and Gemma Simmons. I am totally cool with that combination. 😀
At least now I understand why they created a high-heeled foot for this line. (I still don’t understand why they gave said foot to sneaker-wearing Bryden, but…there are some things woman was not meant to understand, I suppose.)
I like the fact that she’s not blue-eyed like so many other (domestic) blonde dolls.
Yeah, I decided to let Adrienne play with the erupting volcano experiment, rather than do it myself. ‘Cause I’d expect that would get messy, and my place is plenty messy already, thank you all the same, MGA.
I realize it really looks like she’s missing the top of the volcano with whatever’s in there, but I promise you she isn’t:
Anyway, I know she should have been wearing her safety goggles (or are they just plain glasses?) but like Bryden’s glasses before them, they really don’t fit her. I’ll have to give them to some Monster High doll, I guess. (Gallery link for this post is here, btw.)
Okay, so that was A. (One down, twenty-five to go!)
For the photos in this not-quite-a-review of the Project MC² doll Camyrn Coyle, I experimented with a new photography…not technique…maybe location? Instead of clearing off one of the doll-covered shelves that are pretty far from the window where the light’s coming in, I cleared off the shelf-like thing directly in front of the window, putting something heavy and flat on top of it to give it a surface the dolls could stand on. I also used blue-tac to put some paper over the shelf directly to the other side, so you wouldn’t be looking at doll boxes and books on Greek mythology. (Though the doll boxes peek around the edges in a few shots.) It’s still not an ideal set-up, but I’m really limited around here, so please bear with me as I try to discover my current best option.
Like with Bryden Bandweth, she has a double-layered top, the outer layer of which I find quite appalling to look at. Unlike Bryden, her layers aren’t connected…which has its own problems. (But I’ll get to that later.) The upper sweater has gained a serious crease from the twisty-tie that was holding her in place in the package. The silver-outlined pink skull is just an iron-on, so it’ll probably flake off over time. (Then again, that might improve the garment’s looks.)
Camryn comes with a skateboard with an engine on the back. Or rather, she comes with the pieces of an engine-powered skateboard, which you then have to assemble yourself. There’s also several “blueprints” which you have to reveal with hot water or cold water or some kind of water. I dunno; I didn’t bother with the “blueprints,” as the skateboard’s assembly was pretty obvious. Trying to get her to pose for this and other shots was difficult, because — like McKeyla McAlister — her elbow joints are quite loose. Although in Camryn’s case, one elbow — the right one — is considerably more loose than the other.
I was surprised, on examining the skateboard, to see that its surface is covered in a Star of David design. To me, this suggests that Camryn’s character is Jewish, which brings up a couple of questions:
Is Camyrn the first specifically Jewish fashion doll? (And if so, why did it take so long?)
Isn’t it somewhat irreligious to have a religious symbol on a surface intended for people to stand on it? (Perhaps a thoughtless question to ask after I photographed the doll standing on said surface…)
Anyway, getting back to the doll herself…as you probably noticed, like Bryden, she wears tiny shorts over opaque leggings. (Which is decidedly better than McKeyla’s tiny shorts over nothing at all.)
Pattern-wise, I don’t like these quite as much as Bryden’s leggings. (Speaking of which, have you seen the leggings on Bryden’s Wave 2 doll? They’re Tetris-themed! So cool! I have to get that doll for those leggings alone.) However, one thing I truly love about these leggings is the material they’re made of. It is super-soft to the touch. I mean, we’re talking about something so soft that I find myself just idly feeling the leggings only to realize, uncomfortably, that that means I’m fondling a doll’s leg. Aaaaaaanyway, moving on, I like the patterns on her shoes. Also I like the fact that, unlike Bryden, she has flat feet. (Why they gave a character wearing tennis shoes high-heeled feet I’ll never understand.)
Taking the sweater off (and putting her wrench in around her hand), Camyrn’s suddenly ready to attend an anime convention cosplaying as Winry. Er, a colorblind Winry? An alternate color scheme Winry? Well, whatever. The point is, not much under that sweater. But that does at least let you see the sculpt on the doll’s belly, which is actually pretty nice. The torsos on these dolls are definitely more realistically sculpted than their scrawny arms and legs. (Especially the arms. Why the heck are they so insanely skinny? I don’t get that.)
If I had thought to take an in-box shot (or just a shot of the box), then you’d be able to see that Camryn has perhaps the worst facial resemblance of the whole line. (Which is why it probably wasn’t a good idea to put pictures of the actresses so prominently on the boxes.) However, resemblance issues aside, I think she’s a very pretty doll, and this near-profile angle is particularly flattering. (Though I realize it would look better if I had removed the universal annoyance holding the scarf/bandanna/whateveritis on her head, but if I’d done that, then it might not stay on her head anymore, and then end up getting lost in the bracken.)
On my doll, at least, the hair came out of the box in a terrible mess. I love the deep red color of it, though. [EDIT — I just made the mistake of brushing her hair. Now it’s all frizzy and looks terrible from the front as well as the back. I’m going to have to try washing it, see if that helps any.]
All in all, this is a nice doll in a very pleasant line which I’d like to see continue for a long time to come. I’m looking forward to adding most of the Wave 2 dolls to my collection, and I’m eager to see Wave 3, whenever that’ll be. (I’m leery of getting Wave 2 Camryn, though. Wave 2’s dolls — for those of you don’t actually visit toy stores and thus haven’t seen them — are all wearing coats and “gloves,” by which I mean their hands were molded out of a different color of plastic to simulate gloves, and Camryn’s “gloves” are about the same hideous color as her Wave 1 sweater. I’m not eager to get a doll with hands that color. The sweater can be removed and replaced; the hands not so much. (Although they can be removed. It’s just replacing them that would prove difficult.)) I’d also like it if Wave 3’s budget dolls would be fully articulated, so I would have more buying options; I’m not going to buy a doll without elbow, knee and wrist joints when I can get the same doll with those joints.
Also, I keep typoing her name as “Camyrn”. Does anyone else do that, or is it just me?
Oops, almost forgot about the photo album link! It’s here. There are a number of other photos of her that I didn’t use, mostly variants on these from slightly different angles.
Okay, before I begin my rant, I thought I’d add some nice, Halloween-appropriate photos. (Well, one photo before the rant. The other is at the end…even though it’s the “before” to this photo’s “after.”) I realized after it was too late that I had another vampire doll who might look better with Pangju than Draculaura or Elissabat: Vampelina (at least, I think that’s her name) the late entry into the Bratzillaz family. (And a rather hard to find entry, too. I was checking stores for her for ages! Which makes her also a nice segue into the rest of the post…)
So, JPGroove is having another sample sale. Admittedly, my first thought was “why are they doing this to me, just when my bank balance was starting to recover from this summer?”
But of course I clicked on the link anyway.
How could I not? China China was one of the thumbnails, and since she’s the Pullip to match my Namu, I’ve been sort of wanting to get her, even though I’m not a big fan of the older dolls on the whole.
But looking around at the listing, I didn’t see any others that were screaming “buy me” at me…but I also noticed that dolls seemed to be being added to the list even as I was browsing it.
So I decided to keep checking back over the course of the rest of my blog-reading.
And on one of my check-backs, there she was: Elizabeth.
One of the coveted (by me) vampire series dolls.
Obviously, I was elated, and immediately added her to my cart, then quickly scanned the list for more to get up to the $175 for free shipping.
Once I’d done that, I went to check out…and was told that there were insufficient numbers to meet what I had placed in my cart.
In the time between when I added her to my cart and when I checked out, someone else had bought Elizabeth.
I cannot begin to express how frustrating that was. How infuriating, in fact.
I tried to tell myself “this is a good thing: now I’ll have the money for the Alice-themed Blythes being released in November,” but that was no consolation. I love Alice, but I love vampires more. And I hate having something jerked out from under me like that even more.
I kept checking back until well after midnight. (And I had been doing my blog-reading with my dinner, I might point out.) They never did post any other dolls that I really wanted (in fact, additions to the list became rare) and I wasted the entire evening online, instead of writing my paper.
Because I was so annoyed by what had happened that I couldn’t concentrate on work, instead I was surfing other sites to see if there were any dolls or doll accessories I could buy to make me feel better.
I spent a long time on Amazon, seeing if I could find anything I wanted that I could buy with free two day shipping (I got tricked some time ago into accepting a free six month trial of Amazon Prime (I just have to make sure I cancel it before they charge me for a further year!)) but I couldn’t find anything to fit the bill.
Then I went to Etsy, and spent a long time trying to find a new outfit for Romana, to match as closely as possible her outfit from “Destiny of the Daleks.” But I couldn’t find the scarf (well, that’s hardly surprising, given the length and thinness it needs) and ended up not actually buying any of it.
So then what happens today?
I go to my parents’ place to watch last night’s episode of Doctor Who, right?
And there are two places where the episode really should have at least mentioned Romana.
One of them, in fact, was screaming out to mention her. (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, so I won’t say why, but anyone who knows Romana’s episodes and has seen last night’s episode probably knows exactly what I mean. (My brother, in fact, brought up the episode in question as soon as we left the room and wouldn’t have to explain what we were talking about to our parents.))
Naturally, the subject of Romana was not in even the least way broached.
Now I’m doubly ticked off.
(And, of course, Groove hasn’t added any new dolls to the sample sale since last night. And by now both the other two dolls I was going to get are gone.)
When I’m done posting this, I’m going back to Etsy and buying that outfit after all. (Just watch: someone will have bought it. Well, okay, actually most of it seems to be stuff where there’s more than one on-hand, but the coat — which the most essential part and the one where there are no alternative choices — is definitely the only one available from the seller.) I can get the scarf later, and in the mean time I can give her a temporary scarf out of a ribbon. (Like I did for Kaiko.) Of course, the sparkly, TARDIS-blue shoes I already ordered for Romana still haven’t come in, but…well, it’s not like they’d be part of her “Destiny of the Daleks” outfit anyway.
The annoying part is that of course I still won’t get my hands on any of the new outfit for a long time. Most of it will be coming from Asia, except the coat I think is coming from England. (Well, that’s only appropriate, really.)
I still want to order something on two day shipping to get rid of this bitter feeling. I just don’t know what. (Or maybe I should go to Toys R Us and see if there’s anything new in. That’s probably the more pragmatic solution; literally instant gratification, instead of two-days-delayed gratification.)
Although the book I ordered last week might get here tomorrow. That ought to make me feel better (it looks like a really fun read) but it’s not like I have time to read it right now, so that’ll only make it more frustrating. (And there’s no way it’s going to contribute to my final paper for the Roman history class; Statius was writing a hundred years after Virgil. 😦 There’s just no excuse for me to try reading it until I’ve finished the semester.)
Okay, I’m going to stop ranting now before I get myself worked up again. I’ll wash away the bitterness with the sweet-and-cuddly “before” picture:
Anyway, I know I said I was going all Halloween-themed this month, and then ended up posting very little, but I’m going to make up for it with a special post on Halloween. (Though I’m not sure when I’ll get the time for the photo shoot…) I’ve been slowly getting my dolls into their Halloween costumes over the last few days, so hopefully it’ll be a fun post. 🙂
So, my first Etsy orders have arrived, except for the eye chip mold. (Thought earlier that it had arrived, but that turned out to be Romana instead…)
Anyway! I can at least show you the dresses!
Pyrrha’s dress is from BeMyChic. Though I shouldn’t really call it “Pyrrha’s” dress. There’s a layer of netting or something (sorry, I’m utterly inept about clothes) inside to give the skirt some body, which gets bent out of shape by having her sit while wearing the dress. But with Pyrrha’s body, she can’t really stand well, even on a stand. (Though it might help if I had an actual Blythe stand for her.) Net result, though it looks cute on her, this dress isn’t really something Pyrrha can wear. So it’s actually going to be Romana’s dress. (Fortunately, it’s definitely Romana’s style.) But Pyrrha’s going to keep wearing it a little while longer, just ’cause.
The big reason to buy some doll clothes from Etsy, of course, was to get this dress for Arizona. (Who still needs a new name!) What with Moxie Girlz Teenz not having lasted very long, there’s a real dearth of clothes for them, even in the hand-made department. This outfit was made by DollUniverse, and it fits her so snugly that it was actually a bit tricky getting it on her! (I probably should have put her undies on second instead of first. That would have helped…) It looks really great on her, doesn’t it? I’m glad the outfit was navy and white; she’s been wearing a navy Gene dress with white trim for the last umpty years, so I’ve gotten used to her being in those colors. Since taking the photos, I managed to find one of the missing pair of MGT shoes hanging around here (they were in the lunchbox with the Barbie shoes, which sort of makes sense and sort of doesn’t) so she’s no longer barefoot, though I’m not entirely pleased with the combination, since the shoes are black, not navy. I need to get her some navy or white shoes. (That’s not going to be easy to do, though!)
The important thing, of course, was that now that Arizona’s no longer wearing that Gene dress, it was available for someone else to wear!
I think it actually looks pretty good on her — better than on the blonde Gene it came on — but I need to find the matching shoes and hat/hair ornament. I thought I knew where the hat-thing was, but it wasn’t there. 😦 The shoes…I know where they are, I just can’t get at them. (God, I need to clean my house desperately!) I really should have removed her lingerie before trying to get the dress on her; it’s a little tight because of the extra layer. But worse still was trying to get the sleeve on over her right hand; the fingers are spread out a bit and didn’t want to go through the sleeve opening. I hate when that happens. 😦 But the net result was worth it, because now she’s no longer hiding in her box due to lack of clothing! 😀
Anyway, back to Arizona! She also has a new little sister.
When I was getting those three Bratz Kidz outfits for the Angel Pullips, two of them were “add-on items” which meant I couldn’t actually order them unless my order already came to $25. (Yet another oddity from Amazon…) In order to shore up the order, since the MCSquared dolls were on sale, I decided to pick up another one, and I went with Bryden for a couple of reasons, one of them being that I thought she’d look good with Arizona. (I’ll go into the other in a minute.) They do look sweet together:
I think this photo answers the questions everyone’s been asking about why MGA gave Bryden blue-green eyes when the actress she’s supposed to resemble has dark eyes: they wanted to make her match Arizona a bit better.
I was a little worried when Bryden arrived, because there were some paint smudges on the plastic blister of her box, but there wasn’t any sign of anything wrong with the doll herself, thank goodness! Her joints seem to be less floppy than McKeyla’s, too, which is nice. I have a major beef about her outfit, though. I already knew from Amazon reviews that the fairly ugly orange shirt was attached to the white shirt beneath it, but it looked to me like I could just snip it loose.
The only places the two shirts are actually connected is at the velcro. I’ll have to ruin one of them to get them apart. 😦 Granted, I hate the orange one, so that’s not a huge loss, but I still don’t like the idea of having to destroy part of a doll’s garments!
Anyway, the other reason I picked Bryden over Camren (and her awesome copper-colored hair) is because I saw this review on the ToyBoxPhilosopher that showed how great Bryden looked in the Disney Store Periwinkle outfit, while also pointing out some shedding problems with the outfit itself. Well, I didn’t wanna mess up my Disney Store Periwinkle’s clothes, but I thought maybe she’d look just as good in a Jakks Pacific Periwinkle outfit!
Unfortunately, it’s a bit small on her; getting it over her hips was a nightmare. 😦 Looks pretty cute, though. Pale blue is definitely her color. (I need to get her a new, pale blue shirt to replace the orange thing.) I had trouble figuring out how to keep her hair and the wings from fighting, though. :p But there was a slight problem I discovered in getting her ready for this picture, as you can see above; the places where she had been fastened to the box pressed her tights into her legs hard enough to stain her legs. 😦 (I also found a surprising stain on the back of Periwinkle’s leg, too, as if the wire inside it was staining outwards. Probably not actually the cause, but I’m not sure where it did come from.)
The really surprising thing about Bryden’s legs was actually her feet. Specifically, her high-heeled feet:
Look at ’em: they’re almost Monster High feet! It’s like they just scaled up the Monster High feet about 5-10%. Of course, the major reason this was surprising was the fact that her adorable winged sneakers are not high-heeled! The interior just has supremely massive arch support. 😛 That brings up the question of why they’re high-heeled feet instead of flat feet like McKeyla’s, but…I figure there’s not a lot of point in asking a question like that, since it obviously won’t be answered.
Of course, seeing the similarity in foot shapes and sizes, I had to see if they could wear each others’ shoes. Well, Monster High can wear MC2 high-heeled shoes, but the reverse is not true. Elissabat’s foot fit nicely in Bryden’s shoe, as you can see, but Bryden’s foot wouldn’t go into Elissabat’s boot. (I used the Londoom Elissabat because of the convenient Monster High dolls in here, she seemed the one with the simplest shoes to deal with. The shoes have been getting pretty fancy lately…)
While I was at it, I also snapped a shot of Elissabat in Bryden’s glasses. As the reviewers on Amazon already pointed out, Bryden can’t actually wear her own glasses; they just don’t fit. But they fit Monster High just fine. (Though the fit would be better here if Elissabat wasn’t wearing that headband, which collided with the glasses a bit. I tried earlier on a different doll, and they worked better there.) Naturally, I couldn’t do anything about the foggy-looking lenses, though. 😦 Sooner or later, I’ll definitely be handing over the glasses, and possibly the shoes, to some Monster High doll or other. Just need to figure out the right one. (Neon yellow is a tricky color, all the more so considering the temples are hot pink. Actually, they’d look awesome on a miniature Gooliope…exactly her colors.) I might want to put a thin veneer of a dark colored paint over the lenses and turn ’em into sunglasses; that way the foggy lenses wouldn’t be an issue. (Or if I could find some mirror-causing paint, it really wouldn’t be an issue! Mirrored sunglasses are fun…but what kind of paint would I use to emulate that? Silver-colored paint wouldn’t really cut it…)
Anyway, I just made my second resin casting experiment (not that I’ve given my report on the first one yet, lol) and I’m hopeful it will have turned out better, or at least less worse. In the boredom of the video that was being shown in class today (seriously, everyone in the class is a senior or a grad student; we’re beyond needing videos!) I found myself sketching out a list of charms I wanted to make in polymer clay and then cast in resin, charms primarily for Romana’s pull-ring, but if they work out, I’d like to sell them on Etsy, maybe actually make a teeny tiny bit of money somehow. (Just looked at my bank account. Not pretty. Which is a problem, because PullipStyle got the Black Russian Pang-ju back in, and I don’t want to miss that again…but it’s $50…and I’m broke….argh!!!) I’m supposed to be working on my paper for Thursday right now — still — but after that’s done with, I should have time to do some sculpting. Friday should be doable, I think. Then if it works out, make the mold and the first casting attempt on Saturday, and by Sunday I’d have an idea if there’s any chance…right?
I put up a little bit about the similarities between these two before, when my first two Angel Pullips arrived, but now I wanted to go all out and really write up the similarities, including a striking detail I hadn’t noticed yet when I posted before.
So in the middle we have a Bratz Kidz doll, and the Angel Dal was released under the name Ciel (LOL, this was the year before the first Pullip/Kuroshitsuji dolls hit the market) while the Angel Pullip was released with the name Becky. I’ll probably be giving them new names eventually–particularly in the Angel Dal’s case!–but for the moment, I haven’t thought of names for them yet. (FYI, my earlier Angel Dal, released as “Biccy,” is now named Candy, and the Angel Pullip, originally “Cindy” is now Tink, or sometimes mini-Tink, since my Dal Tinkerbell is still called Tink, even though she’s long since abandoned that role.)
For the purpose of the following comparison shots, I have the Angels standing on things to even up their height a bit, since the primary difference in heights between them and the Bratz doll is the length of their legs. (However, the height correcting items are not exactly the right height to make them correspond perfectly, since I was just using whatever I had handy. So there’s still discrepancies.)
There are some differences–Becky’s face is a bit taller, and her lips aren’t so prominent–but the similarities are also quite striking, I think. (Wow, and that direct light makes the slight difference in color between the vinyl and plastic parts of the Brat really stand out. (Well, Bratz is plural, so…yeah, I should look up her name….okay, looks like her name is Yasmin. We’re going with that, even if it isn’t, ’cause it’s less awkward.)) Continue reading →
This impulse purchase is worth a full review. I just wish I had taken a full photo in the box before I opened her.
I don’t know anything about Project MCSquared (well, I can’t do superscript, and MC2 looks stupid!), but I’m assuming it’s a television program. Or possibly web-based programming? The packaging does direct you towards YouTube, but I’m not sure if that’s just for clips or what. Anyway, I’m just going to go off the doll and packaging, on the (hopefully not too naive) assumption that they’re a fair reflection of the product they tie in with.
What we have here is a doll line that encourages girls to be smart, study science and math, and to be proud of their intelligence, all while assuring them that pursuing these intellectual goals will not rob them of the prettiness that society has drilled into their heads that girls “need” to get by. There’s a word for that: win.
I mean, for the message alone, we need to support this doll line, you know? On top of that, this is a really nice doll.
So, let’s start with the first thing you notice when you’re looking at the doll. There’s a human face on the front of the package. (I assume that’s the actress who plays the character on the show.) The dolls have individualized face molds to try to look like their actresses, but…
…it’s not a very good likeness. Maybe if they had a different photo of the actress, with a smaller smile, one more like the one on the doll, the likeness would seem stronger–the nose does seem about right–but as it stands, the doll and that photo don’t really match up, facially. (This may be intentional; if there is no actual resemblance between doll and actress, then the doll’s face mold can be re-used for later doll lines, without the need to compensate the actress for the use of her likeness.) Of course, the lack of resemblance can only be a problem to fans of the program who are disappointed not to have their favorite character well recreated (or to the actresses themselves), so I’ll move on.
This doll is burdened with the unlikely name McKeyla McAlister. She’s about Barbie height, but of more naturalistic human proportions, below the neck anyway. Her hips are wider than Barbie’s, and her chest smaller, so she can’t really share any of Barbie’s clothes. (I tried putting a jumper on her, and it looked awful; it was so tight in the hips that it wouldn’t go down any further past a certain point, and it was bagging out every which way above that, including up, in that the straps weren’t even touching her shoulders. Though that was a very old jumper; newer clothes might fit her better, depending on which Barbie body shape they were intended for.) The four dolls in this series come in two versions, a cheap version ($15 at Target) and a less cheap version ($25 at Target) that has extra stuff with it. The less cheap version has nicer clothes, and is fully jointed, whereas the cheap version does not have joints at the knees and elbows. In the case of McKeyla’s nicer clothes, the faux leather sleeves worry me; faux leather can age very, very badly.
I picked McKeyla over the copper-haired Camryn Coyle because I was charmed by her freckles. 😀 Freckles are sadly rare in dolls these days. Her face paint is very subtle, without the heavy make-up sported by a certain other MGA doll line…
The T-shirt under the jacket. Is that the cutest T-shirt or what? An owl–symbol of wisdom at least since the 5th century BC–wearing bright red glasses. (Y’know, I bet she’d get on well with Ghoulia Yelps…) I love that T-shirt. What I don’t love is her shorts. Or rather, those denim underpants. My god, those things are indecent! Maybe I’m just an old prude, but they’re so short that I didn’t feel it was right for her to sit in them. (Fortunately, despite what I said earlier about her not being able to wear Barbie clothes, I was able to find a pair of Barbie slacks that basically fit her.) Um, getting back on the topic of the doll and moving away from my prudish side, I found her joints to be very loose, particularly in the elbows, but I’m not sure if that’s the case for all of these dolls, or just this one. (I have no basis of comparison yet.) Her hands pop off, like on a Monster High doll, to allow you to remove her jacket, but it’s a bit harder to get them back on again.
Her ring looks like a Scrabble tile with half of the Theory of Relativity on it. Is there any part of that sentence not to love? (Though one wonders how you’d play Scrabble with tiles like that…)
Her boots don’t quite fit properly when she’s wearing her socks, but I love the fact that they’re eminently practical. No stupid high-heels here. (As much as I love Monster High, I have to call the high-heeled running shoes and roller skates stupid. Hilarious, but stupid.) Also, I like the fact that they went to the effort of making her shoelaces a different color than the rest of the shoes; frequently, they don’t bother painting on any details, and the laces are the same color as the rest of the shoe. (I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case on the cheaper version of these dolls, in fact.) Two things I noticed when I took her boots off were that her “socks” are actually leg warmers, and that her feet are enormous. I actually had trouble getting them through the legs of some of the pants I tried on from other doll lines.
And since we’re on the subject of accessories, let’s look at the other accessories she comes with. A comb shaped like a beaker, a plastic backpack that doesn’t quite hold the composition notebook that does hold the little red tablet(?) with the show’s logo on it. There’s also the red DIY lava lamp, for which there are instructions on the back of her box. (Involving vegetable oil and an “effervescent tablet” which would mean, what, Alka-selzer, I guess?) The comb is a cute idea, and the backpack and composition notebook should make nice props for photoshoots. Oh, and I’m sure they’ll be fun for kids to play with. (Yeah, okay, so I approach toys from an adult mindset. It’s hard to remember what it was like to be a kid; it was too long ago.)
Now, one of my first thoughts on seeing these dolls was “Wow, they look like Moxie Girlz Teenz!” So, let’s get some comparison shots up here and see how right or wrong my first thoughts were.
Well, obviously, I wasn’t wrong. There’s a lot of influence there. And although you can’t see the joints because I put her jacket back on and gave her pants to replace those denim undies, the joint structure of the two doll lines is similar, but not identical. The body shape is not the same, though. McKeyla’s body shape implies a younger individual–I’m guessing she’s supposed to be maybe fifteen or sixteen at most, though probably younger–and the Moxie Girlz Teenz would seem to be more like eighteen. So in addition to being larger in scale, the MGT have all around fuller bodies, not just in the breasts, but also in the legs, and even in the arms. (As you may have noticed in the shots without her jacket, McKeyla has very scrawny arms.)
While it’s plain that the MGT face, scaled down, was the starting point when they were making the faces for this new line, the fact that they were trying to create dolls to match (however ineffectively) living people forced them to do something that otherwise seems to be anathema to MGA: create multiple facial molds for the same doll line. Each of the four dolls in this line has a unique face, unlike the MGT line, who all have the exact same face. Could the faces have used more tweaking, to make them more unique? Yes, definitely. But they’re still distinct enough that you wouldn’t mistake them for each other, which is a big step up.
Now, to round out the review, let me quote the character’s self-description from the back of the box:
The name’s McKeyla McAlister–writer, hipster, undercover spy, ya know, just like every other teenage girl.
When I’m not journaling, I’m probably reading a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel (he’s so boss), performing magic tricks, or trying to save the world.
I’m SMART–get over it!
While I’m not sure Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would want to be described as “boss” even after he had it explained to him (as a proper Victorian gent, being admired by teenage girls would make him nervous, after all!), anything encouraging teenage girls to read literature instead of Twilight or whatever ought to be seen as a good thing. This certainly seems like a much better and more interesting message for young girls than Barbie starting yet another rock band. (Seriously, how many bands has Barbie had? I mean, there must have been three of them just in the 1980s alone…)
Anyway, now that I’ve reviewed the doll, I want to get out my soapbox for a moment. What follows is pure opinion, and possibly slightly disjointed; I apologize if I give any offense, because that’s not my intention. Looking at this line, as it was squeezed into a tiny portion of the aisle that Bratz stole from Monster High (me, bitter? never!), I couldn’t help but feel two things. One, that the line had been given the space without any particular confidence, just as a favor to MGA in their big moment of the triumphant re-return of Bratz. And two, that they were really holding themselves back by continually falling back on Bratz.
This line proves that MGA is capable of much bigger and better things than Bratz. When I saw the new line of Bratz dolls, my only thoughts were “yep, those are Bratz all right” and “nope, no Bratzillaz.” There was no need to pay attention, because the dolls were the same as they had been before in all key respects. I’m sure there are changes that Bratz aficionados noticed right away, but for people like myself, with whom Bratz never really clicked, it’s just the same old tired thing it was before; a line of dolls who all have the same face and wear too much make-up. Once upon a time, Barbies all had the same face, it’s true, but that time is long past, and now if you walk down the Barbie aisle, you see lots of faces. Monster High characters all have unique faces, and have right from the start. Mattel’s Disney Princess dolls have their own unique faces, and the Disney Fairy dolls from Jakks Pacific have their own unique faces, too. Ever After High is afflicted with MGA’s “same face” disease, but other than that, most of MGA’s major competition has moved on into the age of unique faces.
MGA doesn’t need Bratz, financially, I’m sure. They’ve got Lalaloopsy supporting the company now, and that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Of course, they do have to do whatever the consumers want; that’s what a company’s supposed to do. So maybe they’ve been getting tons of mail/e-mail/what-have-you, begging for a restoration of Bratz. And I do understand that for them to totally abandon Bratz would be like Mattel abandoning Barbie, because Bratz was what made MGA in the first place.
But I don’t think this re-relaunch of Bratz is going to last, no matter how big a deal they’ve made of it. The line has not kept up with the times. I mean, okay, maybe they’ve tried to update the clothes to keep up with current fashion trends. (I didn’t pay that close attention. And I don’t really know anything about current fashion trends anyway.) But they still all have the same face, and it’s the same face they had back in 1999 or whenever (2000?), when they were first introduced, and I just don’t think that’s still going to fly, not the way it used to.
Keep in mind, the last time Bratz disappeared off the shelves, I’m pretty sure it was because they’d lost their viability in the modern market. And that wasn’t too long ago. What’s supposed to have changed so much about this re-launch to have given them new viability?
Instead of wasting time and money on Bratz, MGA should be putting more time and money on really quality lines like MCSquared here, which is not only a better line of dolls, but also has a better message for the children it’s aimed at. I mean, sure, Bratz standees say “Be you!” but how unique can the dolls really encourage you to be when they all have the same face? Below that surface claim of individuality, the message of Bratz is just that: surface. It’s all about looks, about fashion and make-up and how you look. But MCSquared is about who you are underneath all that, which is a better message. (Not, perhaps, a very easily marketed message for a line of fashion dolls, I’ll grant, but a better one none the less.)