Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ever After High Tri-Castle-On Lizzie Hearts, and Pet Hedgehog Shuffle

Wow, November was a tough month. Despite my light box and Vitamin D, I'm having a hard time coping with the gloomy weather. I'm trying to get back on track for December.

On the Ever After High (Monster High) message board that I read, I saw that the EAH Tri-Castle-On set was on sale at Target. This was a three-doll Target exclusive set, based on the webisode where EAH students compete in the Tri-Castle-On competition. The Apple White/Raven Queen School Spirit two-doll set is related to this set; Apple and Raven cheer on fellow students at the Tri-Castle-On events. I blogged about Apple and Raven back in May. I wasn't really interested in getting the Tri-Castle-on doll set originally; however, with the sale, each doll ended up costing just over $7 each. At that price, I decided to buy it.

I was going to blog about the whole set at once, but there will be close to 30 pictures, considering there are three dolls and accessories, so I decided to blog about each doll individually. I'll try to get all three doll reviews up reasonably close in time. Today I'm going to start with Lizzie Hearts.

In keeping with her lineage, being the daughter of Wonderland's Queen of Hearts, Lizzie is the winner in Hextreme Croquet. Lizzie comes dressed in her croquet outfit, which she also wears in a different webisode where she encourages Apple and Raven to settle their differences with a croquet match. The doll also comes with her croquet mallet, which resembles the flamingo from the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland story, but is gold, with a black beak. Unlike any other EAH dolls (that I'm aware of), Lizzie has unusual eyes in that there is a white heart highlight in each pupil. Fellow Wonderlandian Kitty Cheshire does have eyes that look like cat eyes, but that is because of her cat lineage.
Lizzie comes with earrings, but they're not very impressive. A little paint would probably perk them up. She also has a large gold ruff around her neck, and ruffs around her wrists, with her hands painted black to resemble black gloves.

Her shoes are the usual mile-high heels, but they do resemble tennis shoes. These could also use some paint to bring out some of the details. The heel appears to be a heart, if it was really squashed.

I never planned on getting a Lizzie Hearts doll, because for me, she never measured up to her webisode character. On screen, the heart around Lizzie's left eye is a scarlet red, which contrasts beautifully with pale skin and what look like bright green eyes.
On the doll, both the heart and her eyes are more subdued colors, and she just doesn't look as pretty. I'd be tempted to try to paint that heart a darker red, except I'm not sure I could manage to successfully paint around (or repaint over) her eyebrow and eyelashes. Still, I'm not sorry to inexpensively add her to my collection.
I realize that I haven't mentioned her hair. She has a large piece of red hair coming from the middle front of her head, which is twisted around her face, and joined into a rubber band in back with the rest of her hair. I plan on removing the croquet visor and redoing her hair a little, now that I've reviewed her.

This is a good place to review Lizzie's pet hedgehog, Shuffle. Shuffle is for sale individually, along with a few other EAH pets, like Apple's pet fox, Gala, and Maddie's mouse, Earl Gray. The packaging for the Tri-Castle-On set shows a hedgehog being used as a croquet ball, as in the Alice book, although the hedgehog just looks like it's taking a fun slide on its back.
Rest assured that real hedgehogs are not used in the Ever After High webisodes, nor are real flamingos used. Lizzie's mallet does look like the one her doll comes with, but regular hard croquet balls are used for all the matches.

For Dragon Games, Mattel came out with a small line of baby dragons that matched up with several of the girls. Unlike those dragons, the various pets that were produced next are bobbleheads, including Shuffle. They're still cute, if not exactly all true to size (Earl Gray is as big as the other pets.)
Aren't I sweet?
I managed to pose Lizzie holding Shuffle in her arms.
A girl and her hedgehog
The Tri-Castle-On dolls are a weird mix. The outfits are not very elaborate, since they're for participating in sport. Lizzie's dress does have two prints, and faux princess style seams. Her plastic accessories all have a nice amount of detail, even if they could use some paint to bring out some of those details. Lastly, the three dolls all came with stands! I believe the three-doll set originally cost $50, and though the dolls may have been worth it from the point of view of how much they cost to produce, their outfits aren't exciting. I found it hard to get good lighting on the big box that the set came in, but would you have paid $50 for this? Not meaning any sarcasm here.
As a comparison, Disney Descendants currently has a four pack of dolls out that retails for $60, and is on sale right now for $50. They don't look anywhere as detailed as our EAH trio. I'd love to see sales figures on the four-pack, and a previously released DD four-pack. I personally prefer EAH. :) Do you have any thoughts on Lizzie, multiple packs of dolls, or Disney Descendants versus EAH?


Monday, November 7, 2016

Photography!

Today I finally got the motivation to set up my new photography tent and lights, and get some pictures taken! The kit I bought starts with:
A large flat portfolio. This has two narrow pockets in the front, which each hold one of the lights. There is a larger middle pocket, which I suppose can hold the stand made to hold a cell phone, which was included. I won't be using a cell phone to take pictures, I don't think. My camera isn't professional quality, but is probably better than my cell phone.
Anyway, here's what one of the lights looks like from behind.
The metal stand at the bottom slides up into the cylinder, which makes the light very compact to store.

The white sides of the tent fold out of the portfolio and connect with hook and loop fastenings to make two sides and a top. The back of the tent is made up of the main portfolio case, which is black. I was too interested in getting pictures of dolls to take pictures of the case itself. The back of tent has a strip of hook and loop tape, to which you can attach a roll of nylon fabric for a backdrop. This set came with four rolls in different colors: white, black, navy blue, and red. Each roll has its own hook and loop strip, so it can attach to the back. I only took some pictures with the white backdrop today. I wanted to get some pictures up since it's been so long since I blogged, and I think it might take lots of time and experimentation to see what backdrops other than white look good with certain dolls or props. I think this pictures of Tonner Daphne gives you an idea of what the case looks like unfolded and set up.
I'm sorry that this photo came out blurry! But you can see the finished edges of the backdrop, and a little bit of the black case behind the white backdrop roll. My 16" Daphne sits nicely in here, but her head hit the top of the tent when I stood her up. However, I'm hoping I can use the lights to create nice effects without the backdrop, eliminating the shadows I get when I only use my window as a light source. I also won't have to depend on sunny days to get good lighting, which is good since winter and more cloudy days are coming here.

I decided to use my sole Liv doll as my main model. I happened to see the set on eBay which had this doll, plus a shop window, a mannequin, and some other props, for a good price. This is a good way to introduce her to you.

In the photo below, I experimenting with angling the lights downward, to see what that would look like. I haven't ever studied photography, so I'm probably going to do a lot more experiments to test effects.
And here's a close-up of Daphne's face, to show how well-lit and crisp of an image I can get.
I think it's a step up from the photo below, which only used the sunlight coming in from the window, and therefore created a shadow on her face. The photo above is far from what someone with real experience in photography could get, but it's a start for me. I can already see a few things I'd like to improve next time.
I'm also going to throw in a few pictures from my latest trip to Target, especially since one is time-sensitive. There's a 5% off sale on all Ever After High toys this week. This isn't a lot, although if you have a Red Card from Target, that gives you an extra 5% off, for a total of 10% off EAH stuff. I think Amazon prices are mostly better at this point, to be honest, but if you don't have Amazon Prime, you have to add shipping in there.
I should have put something in this picture for some sort of proportion. I'd say the box is not much taller than my hand, though. For only $3, you might want to take the opportunity to pick up some ornaments for your doll's tree.
Lastly, if you're a Disney Descendants fan, there are some Christmas ornaments of some of the characters. They seem like an odd choice to make, to me. The Barbie ornaments licensed by Mattel seemed to be focused more towards the adult collector. Are young girls so in love with the Disney Descendants characters that they will want them as Christmas ornaments as well as dolls? Maybe enough people watched the Disney Descendants movie that Disney thinks they will sell.
On the other hand, EAH ornaments from the Epic Winter movie might have been cute, with the winter theme.
One last thing, flickr member goche moche found some mini purse keyrings in the bags section of Target which are apparently a good fit for the 1:6 crowd. Check out her picture here!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Checking Out for a Few Days

Hello, readers! I just got my photography set-up that I ordered, but it'll be a few days before I can play with it. My sister-in-law just had surgery today on a badly broken ankle, and I'm going to spend a few days with her. I'll be reading everyone's blogs, but I might not be commenting. Is anyone making any dolly plans for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ever After High Birthday Ball Blondie Lockes

My dolly time has been off and on lately. Not only that, but I'm working on projects which are taking me a while to complete. One of those projects is painting the accessories for one of the latest Ever After High dolls, Birthday Ball Blondie Lockes. I was going to put these pictures up after I finished changing up the accessories, but I've decided to make the doll her own post, and the painting one another. I need to blog more! Besides, there several things I wanted to mention just about the doll.

This doll was part of a release of three, Blondie: blue, Cupid: pink, and Duchess: purple. Target had two exclusive Birthday Ball dolls, Rosabella: yellow and Cedar: orange. Those dolls were scented, and were clearanced out at Target just before the three newer dolls came out. Blondie, Cupid and Duchess have simpler dresses, no scent, and no tinsel in their hair, unlike the two exclusive Target dolls. These three also seem to be sold only in TRU. If there's going to be an online story about these dolls, we haven't gotten it yet. We don't even know whose birthday is being celebrated.

Normally, Blondie Lockes has blond hair, but for this series, all the dolls have unusually colored hair, and Blondie's is blue. She is articulated, and comes with a headband, collar necklace, and "birthday present" purse. No earrings, no bracelet, no ring, and no stand. I used a spare stand to pose her nicely for pictures.
Her face is nice, and her bangs are not gelled overly scrunchy. When she wears the necklace, it hides the fact that the neckline of her dress is off.
Her hair is fairly thickly rooted. There's a baldish spot where her headband goes, but it's not too bad, and her scalp is painted blue to help cover that up.
She has holes marked where she would have earrings. This will make it easier for me to give her earrings, which I will probably do at some point. I've been collecting loose stock from various Ever After High dolls on eBay, but I don't have anything I want to give Blondie, yet.
She has the standard dots on her lower lip, intended to enhance her looks, I guess. Not all the more basic dolls have these dots. My Book Party Ginger Breadhouse, for example, does not.
It wasn't until I had Blondie near a window and direct sunlight, that I noticed that she has some kind of gold glitter across her forehead, above her eyebrows. I'm not sure if this was meant, or if it's some glue residue from gelling her bangs? I do plan to get Cupid, and possibly Duchess, from this series. If I do, I'll check out the foreheads.
This doll retails for $14.99, although she already is selling for less on Amazon. That's not bad, for a doll that is still workable; she has good face paint, an articulated body, and decent hair. The blue hair also makes for a unique doll to add to a collection, even if you have other Blondies.

So in case you're wondering what painting I'm doing: I'm painting the bows and ribbon down the front of Blondie's purse a light blue. I'm painting the feather in her hairband a pale yellow. There are "pearls" in front of the feather that are also going to be light blue. And in the marketing pictures for Blondie, the ribbon in the middle of her bows, on her headband, was gold. I tried it and it looks nice, so I'm going with that. I'm torn on whether or not to do anything to her necklace or shoes. I might paint the bows on her necklace a blue something like the color of her purse now. And I was thinking about yellow for the rosettes on the front of her shoes. Maybe!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lots of New Stuff at TRU, Including Made to Move Barbie with Fashions!

I had to drop off my daughter off near my local TRU today, which meant, of course, that I had to stop in to TRU. I was totally stoked when I saw that there was a new Made to Move Barbie, wearing a dress and with other clothes and shoes! I'm going to save her picture for last, though, and start with Monster High. I'm not into the line, but I know that some of you are.

Are these fashion packs new? I don't remember seeing them in stores, but that doesn't mean they're new. If they are, dare I hope for EAH fashion packs? At $4.99, I'd probably buy every different one.
This is the first time that I've seen Welcome to Monster High Draculaura and Frankie. I think they're cute, and they're still articulated. Not a lot of accessories though, besides the photo booth masks.
It seems like Mattel is going for packs of items with Barbie. I suppose they're doing it with Christmas gifts in mind. There are two large fashion packs.

There's also a 5-pack of Fashionista dolls, most of which have already come and gone in stores. This might be a fun pack for a girl, if you didn't have any of the dolls already.
I also saw two dolls with extra fashions/accessories, in what seems to be a new line, Malibu Avenue. The smaller fashion pack above is also Malibu Avenue. Is it too much to hope for some packs with a single outfit and pair of shoes, like Fashion Avenue? I mean, if I had a nearby doll friend, I might be able to split out one of these large packs with her, but I don't like enough of what's in each pack, to buy it just for myself. Same goes for the dolls below.

Of course, some of this stuff might find its way to somewhere like a Tuesday Morning eventually. I bought a set much like Malibu Barbie above, recently. Here's a couple of pictures of her. As you can see, I wasn't getting good photos through the plastic, so I gave up on it.
And finally, the new Made to Move Barbie! She wears a dress and this outfit comes with a microphone. She also has a scientist's white coat over a simple dress, and a soccer uniform. There is also a toy microscope, and a soccer ball. I was disappointed that only Barbie was on the shelf, but judging from the pictures on the box, I'm hoping at least the other three out of the first four MtM Barbies will come out in this type of set. I'm looking forward to seeing what type of clothes will come with the other dolls.
Will any of these items be on your Christmas list?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Tracing Doll Sewing Patterns

When I sew doll clothes, I find that occasionally I have to trace something, usually markings for darts. Holding the pattern and material up to the window technically works, but my hands usually slip at some point, so the markings don't end up perfectly accurate.

Being a girl on a budget, for the longest time I used this toy Barbie light box to do tracing.
The light it gave off wasn't as bright as I might have liked, but considering that I bought it second hand off of eBay, the price was much better than a more professional style. However, this Barbie light box finally stopped working correctly. I needed a new light box, but I'm still on a budget. I decided to poke around Amazon just to see what kind of prices I was looking at, and quickly managed to find a light box that is inexpensive, and meets my needs. Funnily enough, it's made by Darice, which is a company I just discussed in my last post. Its specialty is inexpensive crafting items, and my new light "box" fits that description! It's a sculpted piece of plastic, with a light bulb underneath, and an electrical cord to power it. It does get hot; the instructions recommend you only leave it on for two hours at a time at most. The instructions also say that you should use the light box on a heat-resistant surface. I'm using an old wooden cutting board that Mr. BTEG and the Dancer have already used for painting role playing miniatures.


For less than $9 (we have Amazon Prime), it's a great solution, considering I'm not doing artist quality tracing here, and don't need a $40 or more light box. Crayola also currently has a tracing light box for children's art projects, but it didn't suit my simple needs enough to make it worth slightly over twice the price.
So have I been sewing? Actually, yes! I think I'll have an outfit to share with you soon. I also have a backlog of things I would like to post, but now that I'm over the worst of the nasty cold that I had, I'm hoping I can get back to my 4 posts a month goal. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, are you planning crafting projects for the colder weather to come?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Browsing at Target, Shopping at Pat Catan's. LORI Adds On, EAH Takes a Dive. Outdoor Furniture!

I've had a cold for over a week. Ugh. While I've not been feeling too awful, I really didn't feel like sitting in front of a computer and composing a blog post, either. But I'm slowly returning to feeling like a human being again, so today I'm sharing some pictures of things I looked at when I was at Target picking up a few things, and also some stuff I actually bought at one of our local craft stores a bit over a week ago.

If you want to get back at a sibling or an in-law for something, nothing says "Ha ha!" quite like giving your niece or grandchild or whomever, the Barbie Sparkle Style Salon, with a comb full of glitter, and a real working sink. Wet glitter everywhere!
Target seems to think there's a new Trolls movie coming out that's going to be a thing. Shrugs.
Jaye reviewed the set below. Apparently most of the pieces work with 12" dolls, so that's positive. I've heard there's another set of little accessories like this one, which I'm hoping my Target will get in before Christmas. In a positive note, my Target has wrapped the LORI section so it still has an endcap, and also is partially stocked into the Our Generation section. Hopefully they're going to rectify the mistakes of Christmas Past and have enough merchandise available on the shelves this Christmas.
Plus, your 6" dolls will be able to have horse riding adventures with new horses, a barn, and a horse trailer. This also gives the already-released LORI car something new to tow. I was ready to head home at this point, so I only took a picture of the horses that were there. I don't know if there will be any other horses released. These horses might at least be able to become ponies for taller dolls.
Also, Mattel has re-released some of the signature Ever After High dolls. I can see the appeal to Mattel of having some dolls of popular characters available in stores, that aren't currently represented in the latest theme lines, like Ballet or Epic Winter. But I'm giving the execution a big fat F. I've talked about this before, but the new Signatures just aren't up to the quality of the old dolls, and yet they're asking just about as much money. When I saw Cerise Hood at Target, I just had to gripe about this.

So here we have Cerise Hood. Less packaging than the original dolls. You don't get the thick diary entry from the character anymore, just that flat card in the right hand corner.
What disturbed me so much was the purse. The picture below shows the purse you get with the current Signature doll.
This purse below? This was the purse you got with the original Signature Cerise Hood. With the lovely checked detail on the top of the basket that made EAH the stand-out line that it was. Seriously, Mattel? It's not like the original dolls and accessories are NOT STILL AVAILABLE second hand and at places like Amazon. It's so obvious the shortcuts you took this time around. Cerise also doesn't come with the ring and chunky bracelet she was wearing before, in this incarnation either. I don't have pictures of my own of those, though.
Honestly, this makes me worry about Mattel's future. Even if I give them the benefit of the doubt and say the quality is going down because of a poor economy, it still doesn't bode well that Mattel had to cut these corners to keep them at a price where people will buy them. Yeah, Mattel lost the Disney Princesses, which was a big indicator of issues in itself, but Hasbro hasn't proven yet that there's huge profitability in that market either. There are two things I know for certain though. 1. Adult collectors alone can't keep a playline doll line afloat. 2. Mr. BTEG informed me that a short while back, LEGO almost went under. Yeah, that LEGO. Which, by the way, has a huge market of adult collectors.

On a happier note, I stopped by a local hobby store called Pat Catan's. It's a local chain; I don't know quite how many stores it has or where. I found a few really great deals!

Back in May, I posted about some mini garden type decorations I saw at a Michael's craft store. Michael's had lanterns on a short shepherd's hook type stand. For $1.19 each, I found just lanterns at Pat Catan's. I'm just not sure why they're described as "sleeping cats" in French and Spanish. I didn't realize that was a term for a lantern.
I also had to snatch up these wooden pieces of furniture which are much larger than the general 1/12 scale that you find at craft stores. The chairs were $3.95 each, the table $1.27. I haven't measured them, but Cerise's picnic basket is still in the picture to give you an idea of what a nice size these items are.
Don't worry, Mr. BTEG. These things will be off of the robotics table by the time that you get home.
You may have noticed that the items above are all Darice brand. Darice is an inexpensive local line of craft items which Pat Catan carries. Apparently, Michael's recently bought out Pat Catan's just to get the rights to sell Darice items; at least, that's the rumor that I heard. Now I wonder if Pat Catan's will disappear as a chain, and if Michael's will jack up the price on Darice stuff. Michael's has a reputation for being more expensive than other local craft stores. I'm kind of hoping that Michael's wanted to acquire Darice items as a way to also appeal to the crafter with the smaller budget, and we'll still get Darice's wide line of items, plus the same good prices.

So do you have any thoughts about new items on the shelves? Crafting? Mattel, for better or worse? I'd especially love to hear thoughts on Mattel, or even any good dirt you have. :)