Friday, October 21, 2016

Middle School Moguls

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

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

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

Click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review of the Wellie Wishers by Mattel

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

Wellie Wishers Emerson (left) and Ashlyn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 12, 2016

Skyline Blue Marley Wentworth by Tonner

This girl was great to photograph. When I first took her out of the box, I thought she looked a bit blank-faced, which I blame on her eyes being so dead-center forward-facing. I was thinking a bit of a side-glance might have given her more personality. However, when I photographed her, her personality came out a bit and she doesn't look blank-faced to me any longer. In fact, if you position her so she's looking directly into the camera, she has quite an intense stare. 

I like her sculpt very much. The sculpt was new for the grown-up Marley Wentworth line, so I thought I'd post photos so people can see her.  There aren't many owner pics of Marley online, particularly Skyline Blue. Her profile is lovely.

I'm a big fan of basic sheath dresses, and really love this royal blue. The fabric is a nice quality. It has four snaps in the back, and is lined with white to prevent the doll from getting stained. Her shoes are purple and fun, and fit perfectly. (And SHINY!)

I didn't take pictures of her oversized matching coat, since every promotional picture of this doll shows it. There's not a whole lot to her outfit, but she was definitely worth the price I paid. I grabbed her when Tonner recently had a 30% off plus free shipping offer. Since she was already on sale before that, I ended up getting her at roughly half off her original price. Sweet! So worth it. What's funny is I was thinking if I didn't like her in person, I would use her body for one of my older Tyler heads. I might not do that, now. She's growing on me.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dragon Boat Festival Gigi by Ruby Red Galleria

Dragon Boat Festival Gigi by Ruby Red Galleria
Just wanted to show you "Dragon Boat Festival" Gigi. She's part of the Ten Ping line by Ruby Red Galleria. She's so cute! She has a truly beautiful little girl sculpt. I think she's even prettier than Ten Ping. I'll show you pictures of them both together so you can compare them. Gigi is the one who is smiling. :) She came with a little illustrated book that tells the story about Gigi and her friend Ten Ping going to the Dragon Boat Festival, a traditional holiday in China.
Gigi and Ten Ping by Ruby Red Galleria.
I did an initial review of Ten Ping, here, and a second review where you can see her body and posing, here. Gigi has the same body as Ten Ping, so her posing will be the same, and she can share clothing. 

These pics show some of the details of her costume. Her vest is beautifully detailed and lined, and lifts off to reveal a long-sleeved white shirt underneath.

Her shoes are made from fabric and look wonderful.

 Anyway, that's Gigi.  See ya!  Click on the pictures to make them bigger.