Saturday, January 14, 2017

Changes at TRU for 2017

I ran out to my local TRU a few days ago, to get the EAH Birthday Ball Cupid and Duchess to go with my Birthday Ball Blondie. It became imperative to get them, after I saw that Target is now starting to stock the same version of these dolls, only without wrist articulation. Now that the less articulated dolls are out, I don't feel safe buying the dolls on Amazon anymore, either. So it was off to TRU to get the original versions. I bought the last Duchess at my store, and there were only a few Cupids left. As with Blondie, I'm pleased with the dolls for what they are. They have all the EAH articulation, plus their hair is very soft and not too thin, and their clothes and accessories have some level of detail.

I thought TRU was only going to be going to be carrying the Wellie Wishers dolls, but it seems a good bit of my TRU has changed into an American Girl Place, at least for the modern AG girls! I feel perhaps TRU and Mattel are both feeling a bit of a financial pinch since they seem to be trying to milk the AG brand for all that it's worth. I'll admit that it was neat to see all this stuff in person, and I do like the two American Girl dolls that I have. This set-up at TRU makes me wonder if the historical dolls might be on the way out completely, although I have no concrete reason to believe that. I will admit that the latest historical doll release, Melody, seems to have been hugely popular, and Felicity is also making a return. Still, I've also heard AG is releasing a modern doll for Felicity's line as well. She is the character who will go back to Felicity's time for the "choose your own" adventure style book that other historical girl dolls have. I'm not the target market for these dolls, however, so whatever happens, happens for the American Girl line.
The display case model scheme was also carried into the Barbie aisle, which was just past the aisle that looks like a mini Claire's store. The actual Claire's store that was only a few minutes away from where I live, went out of business a few months back. But that's neither here nor there. Let's look at the Barbie aisle.
I guess you could also call this aisle the Mattel doll aisle, since as you can see, Monster High and Ever After High dolls are on the back left side of this section. People may not like the changes that are being made to Monster High, but I wish EAH was getting as much attention paid to its line as MH is getting. I can only assume the interest in EAH is just not as strong.

I didn't have time or energy to check out the rest of the doll sections, although I'm wondering now what they look like. I'm sure Hasbro has a pretty decent section with all the Disney dolls, except for Moana, who has her own large area near the front of TRU, since her movie just came out. I'm sure I can find an excuse to go to TRU sometime soon to find out. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Plans for 2017

I looked over my New Year's dollie resolutions from 2016, to see how I did, and what I wanted to change or continue this year. Last year, I managed to post four times a month for the first half of the year. The second half of the year got really crazy, and there is still some chaos and stress at Casa BTEG, so I don't feel too awfully about meeting my posting goal for the whole year. I'm going to shoot for four posts a month again anyway. I like to keep this blog active.

I was planning to photograph my 10" Georgia doll, but she needed a wig, which I never bought. I also have a Patsy that I need to re-wig. I've never bought a doll wig before, and I keep second guessing which wigs would look best. There are also a *lot* of choices out there! I ought to make the wig thing a higher priority this year, so these dolls can be complete.

Of course, I wasn't sure last January that I would be buying much, and then I went crazy about Ever After High, as you'll see when I blog about one of my Christmas presents. It didn't hurt that most of the EAH dolls I bought were marked down, being older releases. I was thinking seriously about getting another Makie, but that didn't happen, after the company suddenly disappeared.
At least Meg has a lot of doll friends to play with.
Other than Ever After High dolls, I bought one curvy Barbie, one petite Barbie, two Star Darling dolls, and a discontinued LIV set that I bought mostly for the display window. Unless I fall in love with another doll line this year, my doll purchases will probably be down. However, I've also purchased some furniture, and a LOT of accessories like Re-Ment. That will probably continue in 2017.
I've found making time to sew doll clothes difficult. This is probably partially because of my depression issues, and partially because of a schedule which changes every day. I keep trying for big blocks of time to get sewing (or knitting) done; what I need is to do a little at time when I have the opportunity. For some reason, I don't feel motivated to go to my sewing table unless I can get a huge amount done at once. That's just holding me back.

I have a couple of construction projects that I want to begin, but we don't have space for me to take on a big project right now. Likewise, I've been trying to paint doll accessories in my sewing area, which involves a lot of moving things around. I'd like to set up a dedicated space for painting (which I will probably share with my husband and daughter, who paint gaming miniatures.) That crafting space won't be free until later in the year.

Lastly, I've been thinking about starting a running storyline here featuring my dolls! I have an idea that I'm trying to develop into a working plot; hopefully I'll get it started within the next month.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Doubt and Depression

As I like to do, I'm looking over my past year of doll collecting, and making plans and goals for the year ahead, which I'll post about. But while I have my own personal plans for sewing and painting, etc. for my dolls, my thoughts from a collector point of view are pretty gloomy. There are still Ever After High dolls out there that I would like to buy, but nothing good seems to be in the works for the line. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see it completely die out in 2017.

The announcement that Tonner is done with most of his lines was a huge surprise for most of the doll collecting community who follows his work. I was pretty certain there were going to be more Ann Estelle dolls coming out, and now there won't even be more Patsy dolls, or outfits that fit the 10" dolls. This will not help prices on the secondary market, which in my opinion are rather high already, considering how many dolls were produced, and how long ago the dolls were produced. All the 10" dolls, Ann Estelle, Petite Filles, and Patsy, seem to all be very popular among collectors still. There are currently 10" articulated bodies only for sale from Tonner, and I may try to pick up one or two on the chance that I might want to rebody one of my dolls, but I'm afraid they'll sell out rather quickly as people scramble to buy before everything is gone for good.

Makie is not in business anymore, either. In my plans for this year, was the possibility of getting another Makie doll, since I liked my first one. Unfortunately, this company too disappeared in 2016.

So in my doll collecting life, I really don't have any new releases to be excited about or look forward to. The only new dolls I might be interested in, for now, are Barbies, and Mattel is so hit or miss that I don't have a lot of confidence in what will be made this year. I will admit that at this time I am trying to power through clinical depression. Everything right now seems undo-able. But life continues.

ETA: I guess I can't absolutely say that there will never be any more Makie dolls. What I do know is that the company suddenly declared it was moving from the UK to the US. After that, there was no more news, and Makies are no longer for sale. It would be great if there was a chance that the dolls will be produced again, but it's been, I think, close to a year now with no news. Actually, I think orders for Christmas 2015 were cancelled at the last minute, but that's just a vague memory, and I can't find anything about it. I do know many people were upset because they had saved doll designs on the Makie website, which are now gone. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ever After High Tri-Castle-On Hunter Huntsman

I was having a hard time getting a couple of pictures of Hunter that I wanted. I finally took advantage of the sunny day today to get them all done, so this is the last doll in my Tri-Castle-On series. Hunter is the undisputed winner in the archery part of the Tri-Castle-On competition.

Here's Hunter full-length, and a close-up of his face. His stand leaves marks in his faux leather top, so I undid part of the Velcro in back, and pulled the back of the top around the stand. Hunter's pants are a fairly heavy weight denim weave.
Hunter has a purple hood, which can be pulled up. I think it makes him look sharp! It has a slit in the bottom back, though, like Cerise's hoods do, even though Hunter doesn't have long hair to go through it.
He's also wearing very sturdy boots.

His outfit is very similar to what he wears in the Tri-Castle-On webisode, and also in the Heartstruck webisode, when he unintentionally causes havoc after coming upon Cupid's bow and arrows. In the webisodes, he has sleeves and more detail to his trousers, but making a three pack affordable involved some cuts, I guess.
Like his cartoon version, Hunter does come with a nice arm guard. The vinyl version is even more detailed than the cartoon one, although it's only one color.
There's only one *small* problem: Hunter's arm guard should be worn on the arm that is *not* pulling the bowstring! In this case, when Hunter releases an arrow, the arm guard should be where it can protect the released bowstring, or the arrow in flight, from grazing Hunter's arm. It's even more important for sleeveless Hunter to have that protection. But our guy is wearing his arm guard on his *right* arm, meaning he should be pulling the bow string with his *left* hand. Honestly, I'm rather surprised that the animators messed this up, not once, but twice. Since doll Hunter's arm guard is sculpted to fit his right hand and arm, we'll say doll Hunter is left-handed, and let it go at that.

Of course, Hunter has to come with his bow and arrows. Hunter can actually wear his quiver; I was afraid it wasn't going to fit. These are all nice pieces, except his "cluster" of molded arrows has a slight curve in it. That might be deliberate?
I'm especially glad to have Hunter in my collection. I already have the Hunter that came with Ashlynn Ella, but that doll's hair is slightly greasy, and it could be hard to clean up without messing up the flocking on his head. If getting the oiliness out of his hair is even possible! Tri-Castle-On Hunter's hair is just super gelled. If I manage to get some practice re-rooting some doll heads next year, I could give my first Hunter new hair, and maybe even make him a different character.

So this is the end of my Tri-Castle-On reviews! In the end, I'm happy with all of the dolls and most of the accessories, which is great! What do you think of Hunter compared to Lizzi and Cerise?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Ever After High Tri-Castle-On Cerise Hood

Assisted by her genetics as the daughter of the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood (it's complicated), Cerise is the fastest runner at Ever After High. She's wearing a pretty boring (in my opinion) outfit for running.
Cerise is taller than the average Ever After High doll. In order to do this and still allow for clothes switching, Mattel simply made her legs longer than other dolls. The basic track pants with no overskirt really show off how long her legs are.
Cerise seems to have a small smile on her face, which is different from some of the other Cerise dolls that I have, especially Legacy Day Cerise. I think Mattel might have been better off giving the dolls a closed-lip smile in the first place, instead of the somewhat bland expression they had at the beginning. Do you see a smile?
Cerise does not have a huge head of hair, probably to allow it to go through the back of her hood. In the cartoons, she always wears a hood to hide her wolf ears. However, I think there is an adequate amount of hair to cover her roots, even though it is very uneven in the back, as often happens.

Like Lizzie Hearts, Cerise's shoes look like tennis shoes, only with giant heels. The little crest detail on Cerise's heels is very well done. Cerise gets black paint on her shoelaces.
Cerise's extra accessory is a very detailed water bottle. I can't get mine to rest on Cerise's shoulder, so she ends up having to hold it like a purse.

While Cerise is taller than other EAH girls, the group of girls from Wonderland, including Lizzie Hearts, are all shorter. I put Birthday Ball Blondie in one of these pictures to show how tall most of the EAH girls are.

I think Cerise is the least exciting doll in the set, in terms of what she is wearing, and what she comes with. I like her character in the show, though, and the smile that I see makes her different from the other Cerise dolls that I own. I already had three different Cerise dolls, and don't mind adding this one at all.

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!