Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Shopping at the Grand Pacific Junction area, or How I Got a Light Bulb for My Fireplace

I bought the Sindy fireplace, seen in my previous post, years ago on ebay. It came without a light bulb, and I'm pretty sure I bought it from the UK, because I remember wondering if I could even find a bulb the correct size here in the US. It was never a priority, and I wasn't sure where to look anyway, so it never got done. But with my rediscovery of the mini store near me, I decided perhaps the proprietor would be of some help finding a way to make this fireplace glow.

Grand Pacific Junction has been a quaint shopping area since 1989. I'm pretty sure the buildings that look old really *are* old, and someone cleverly decided to make a shopping destination there. The mini store is not in one of those oldest buildings, but in a more modern strip of stores. You can see that it is directly beside the railroad tracks.


I let the store owner have a look at the fireplace, and she told me she didn't have what I needed, but that she was sure the man in the store next to hers would be able to help me. That's his store all the way at the far end, called The Music Box. I was hopeful because the minis lady seemed so positive, but I wasn't sure what I would find. She also very nicely offered to work with him together to get me what I needed, if he didn't have something right away.

The Music Box turned out to be a little bit of many different things. There was a long rack full of vinyl records, some miniature train merchandise in its own little room, some sheet music, and in a big room to the side were some organs. There might have been other musical instruments there; I didn't go in to look around. There were also a few odds and ends, like some vintage reel to reel tapes in a stack on the counter, and some clocks made of older items like vinyl records hanging on the walls. The counter itself was very crowded with catalogs and things like the tapes.

The owner is an older man, I'm guessing in his 70s. He guessed almost immediately what size bulb I needed, and went to a back room full of cardboard boxes on shelves, to rummage around for it. I could see part of the room from where I was standing at the counter, and it added to the whole mishmash feeling of the store. The owner emerged with a small box, which he searched through until he found the size he thought I needed, a three volt flashlight bulb. He screwed that in for me, which was made a little difficult by the fireplace grate. He also put in two batteries, after carefully cleaning off the contacts in the back of the fireplace. It didn't work right away, but after a little more work on the contacts, it did! The gentleman was talking the whole time about the voltage and what kind of pull the batteries made (he noted that they both face the same way, which apparently means it's not strictly a two-battery fixture.) I could tell that he really loves electronics, especially after he pulled out a huge black and white catalog, filled with tiny lines of part numbers, and gave me the specific stock numbers for that bulb, for when I need to buy it again. I would have bought more from him, but he only had one left. So for less than $2, I left with the bulb, two batteries, and the pleasure of meeting someone extremely helpful, from a rapidly vanishing era. He reminded me of some older guys who comment on a blog that I read. They've talked about how great it used to be when Radio Shack actually sold radio parts, and how as boys they'd dream about electronics that probably came from a catalog similar to the one this store owner pulled off of his desk. Not a world I'm interested in, but not one populated by dummies, certainly.

So let's take a look at some of the other stores! We'll start with my second favorite store, Abigayle's Quiltery. In the room inside that must have been the dining room at one time, there are some beautiful built-in cupboards, with lead glass in the doors. I covet those badly. I didn't see any fabric that needed to come home with me that trip. They do sell my brand of sewing machines, Bernina.


Many of the smaller stores are built around a green. All of the stores there are within easy walking distance from each other.


There is a full size old-fashioned train engine, with a car connected, by the central parking lot. I didn't get a picture of that; there were many people milling around it that day. Horse-drawn wagon rides were being offered for the Christmas holiday, and the starting and stopping point was in a gazebo right next to the engine.

This building below looks very much like the typical Midwest train depot. There's several of them dotted here and there in my area. All the ones that I know of have been turned into retail establishments, like this one. I'm not entirely certain that this is an original building, but I'm guessing it is, and that it was moved from the nearby tracks. Face painting was offered here that day, again as a holiday draw.


There's a old-fashioned telephone booth. Not very period, and I'm pretty sure these were only to be found in Great Britain, but I love the things for some reason, so I'm not picky.


And here is the Grand Pacific Hotel building itself. It was built between 1830 and 1840, and is currently a banquet hall, in conjunction with a wedding chapel and wedding garden. The wedding garden is just a very short walk and across the street from this hotel. The wedding chapel is just a few buildings on the other side of the train tracks in the miniature store picture. You can see a corner of the hotel on the left side of the depot picture above.


I'm not sure how many weddings this area draws, but the overall area, as well as the restaurant across the street, were certainly very busy with holiday shoppers. It probably doesn't hurt that there is more modern and general needs shopping, like a drugstore, just south of the corner above. I applaud the developer who came up with the idea of making this place into a quaint little place to eat and shop, instead of what was probably a bunch of not very well maintained vintage buildings. It was a fun trip, and successful too!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

After a Christmas tree, very few things say "Christmas," like a fireplace. Madame Alexander agrees, as a fireplace was front and center in the Santa Baby Set for the 16" Alex doll. This Christmas, I made it a priority to find a light bulb for the Sindy fireplace I bought from ebay several years ago. I didn't get stockings or lights on the fireplace, but there is a nice array of Christmas cards on the mantel. Please excuse the dimness of the picture; I wanted to show off the cozy glow of the fireplace to its best effect.


I want to paint the fireplace white; the years have left this piece rather yellowed.

Did any of you get any doll goodies for Christmas? I got a J-Doll. I think next I am going to post, however, on how I picked up the light bulb. It's a fun little story, and it will feature some photos of the little shopping area in Olmsted Falls that I promised to post about a long time ago.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

18" Miss America by Tonner

Since I've been too busy to post very much, or at all, this is going to be a two-for-one post. I'm going to introduce my two 18" Miss Americas, and I'm also going to show the one doll wearing a dress that I made from a Dale Rae Designs pattern. I'll be going into more detail about the dress on my doll sewing blog, which I've neglected horribly since I haven't done sewing for a while.

Tonner's 18" Miss America dolls were not on the market very long; they were produced in the early 2000s. Tonner produced a redhead, blond and brunette, and they came in a swimsuit version and a formal wear version. The brunette also came in ballet wear, presumably for the talent competition. There were a couple of outfits produced as well, one which I remember included a Miss America ball cap and casual wear. Miss America shared a body with Tonner's Kitty Collier dolls. Kitty Collier's story was that she owned a dress shop in... the late fifties, early sixties, taking a stab at it by the clothing style. There were several dressed Kitty dolls produced, and several separate outfits. 10" Tiny Kitty and her friend Simone proved more popular with doll buyers, although I remember reading that 18" Kitty is one of Tonner's favorite dolls.

I've considered selling the two dolls I own off. They aren't super articulated; their arms are jointed only at the shoulders, although their knees bend. And I don't know anyone else who owns these. But... I love their faces. I find them hauntingly beautiful.

Wearing her original tiara
Wearing a tiara produced by an independent artist

We'll start with redhead Miss America, wearing formal dress. She came with a tiara, scepter, and Miss America sash, for her triumphant turn down the runway. I still have the tiara as above, and the scepter.


This Miss America wears a beaded brocade dress, with a column underskirt and train-like overskirt. She also has gloves, earrings, necklace, and matching brocade shoes. The necklace annoys me slightly because it is just that little bit too short so that the weight of the clasp is the heaviest part and pulls the necklace down in back.


The shoes can be difficult to get on, since you have to twist the elastic just right.
The other doll I have is the blond Miss America who came in bathing suit, earrings, and slip-on heels. I think she had the sash too. She was essentially basic Miss America.


The sole of one shoe has yellowed pretty badly. Probably the glue underneath.
She's been wanting to wear something besides the bathing suit for years, so I bought the Dale Rae pattern, which includes the pieces for the dress she is wearing, and directions on making a stuffed cloth mannequin for more doll fitting, or to display clothes. The dress is extremely basic, and fits her closely, so it can be used to make pattern modifications for different looks.

I didn't bother finishing some of this. It was basically a test dress.
Her pumps were bought separately.
Miss America next to Barbie for a size comparison
Here she is next to her 16" inch cousin, Tonner's Sydney Chase
Lastly, she stands next to American Girl Samantha, who matches her in height
I really do love these dolls, and I don't have to have a high degree of doll articulation, so in truth I will probably keep these girls for a long time, and add a brunette to the mix at some point. The one issue I have with them is that they all have the same hazel eye color. I find them gorgeous, and fun to display.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mattel's Teen Trends Courtney

In 2005, Mattel introduced the Teen Trends line of dolls. They were 17" dolls, each with her own personality, which was reflected in her fairly detailed clothing. I picked up Courtney, the preppie doll. My family was never rich, but I did try to dress preppie in high school during the mid-80s. The other dolls produced were Gabby, Deondra and Kianna. According to Wikipedia, there was also a doll named Rayna who was brought out a couple of years later. The joints at the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are all strung. Courtney can look a little bit up and down, and also side to side. Each doll originally came in a thick cardboard wardrobe case, with room for the doll, space to hang her clothes, and a little drawer for her extras. Individual outfits, each tailored for a specific doll, were also sold.

If the dolls didn't all have the same face mold, it was at least very similar. Courtney has dirty blond hair, light brown eyes, and pink full lips with a slight smile.


She wears silver ball stud earrings and a nice necklace for an inexpensive play doll. She also wears a short-sleeved polo shirt and a denim jacket with a lot of detail. The jacket does not close, though.


She can't stand up by herself; her knee joints are rather floppy. I don't think that's a result of string deterioration, since the lower legs don't hang loose. It just seems like the knee joint doesn't fit together sturdily.


And with the legs I discovered a problem with this particular doll: she has developed the dreaded sticky leg syndrome. When I touch her lower legs or arms, a tacky residue is left on my fingers. This may also be what stained Courtney's otherwise awesome preppie khakis.


The belt on Courtney's pants looks like a man's tie. Mattel did something similar with one of the Fashion Fever outfits which I recently picked up. Unfortunately, I broke the stiff plastic chain belt that the Fashion Fever tie was woven through, and the pants didn't fit my Fashion Fever doll, nor the J-dolls. So you won't see a picture of that now. Here's Courtney's pants, though.


Courtney's outfit finishes off with sandals that highly resemble Dr. Scholl's Originals, which were all the rage during part of the 80s, and maybe the late 70s. It's all kind of blurry now, and I may be getting them mixed up a bit date-wise with Candie's. Those were rather similar, slip-ons with a wide strap and wooden base, but often with a high, chunky heel.


Courtney's other flaw, besides the sticky plastic, is her hair. It's an uneven mess that feels very much like the straw that it resembles.


This is especially confusing since one of the things the doll seems to be meant for was hair play. Courtney came with the hair items below: three rubber hair rollers, a soft suede-covered headband, a clip, and a decorated hairband. I've never tried using the rollers on Courtney's hair, and the headband doesn't fit particularly well.





I had been considering getting a friend for Courtney, until I discovered her stained clothes and tacky limbs. Now I'm not even sure what I should do with Courtney herself. I've read that baby powder helps with the stickiness, but only temporarily. What should I do with my poor preppie girl?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In the Toy Aisle

I ran into some difficulties that left me without energy or interest in blogging, so although I have been reading what other people are writing, I haven't been up to posting anything of my own. I'm going to slide back into this with a quick overview of what is popping up in the toy aisles of my local Target.

First is a playset for the 11 1/2" Frozen dolls. Half of this is the castle, and half is Elsa's ice palace. Of course it comes with an Olaf. Is that dressing screen integral to the movie? It showed up in Elsa's miniature wardrobe playset, and now here. Frankly, I think these type of playsets are always overpriced. $89.99 is the sale price, and even that I feel is too much money for what you get, which is a couple of plastic facades and some furniture pieces.



There were lots of Monster High dolls, mostly the Freaky Fusion and candy nightmare ones. I'm not particularly interested in the dolls, but I did see they are branching out with a Monster High styling head and cloth Monster High dolls. Cloth dolls seem to be a trend at the moment. I think the Mooshka line was one of the first to start this.



In Ever After High, there was a large selection of dolls, from the originally basic dolls to the Hat-Tastic Party line. There is also a furniture set for you to use when your dolls throw a Hat-Tastic party, that includes a Madeline Hatter doll. The other set appeared to me to be Briar Beauty's Thronecoming book, but my one picture it happened to be in doesn't seem to match the pictures from Dollsville USA's review. Maybe I'll take another look the next time I go through Target.


The LEGO Friends line has come out with a outdoor adventure set, which seems to have a rescue theme. There is also a Friends Advent calendar, which I was happy to see. Mainline LEGO always comes out with an Advent calendar. I didn't check the LEGO aisle to see if Target carries that one.


Lastly, I thought there was someone whose blog I read, who likes the three good fairies from Sleeping Beauty. Apparently Flora, Fauna and Merriweather now teach at Sofia the First's Royal Prep school. There was a good selection of Sofia dolls in various types and sizes. $39.99 seems like a lot for Princess Sofia and 13 small friends. At least the dolls seem to have a variety of dress styles.


The Barbie section seemed an indication of how far the plastic princess has fallen in sales; it was fairly small but also pretty boring. I'm not sure which came first, the decreased sales or the decreased quality in the Barbie line. Mattel doesn't seem to be trying hard to bring her back this Christmas season, though. There was nothing new except the holiday Barbie and an expensive Barbie townhouse not very different from the generations of townhouses before it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

J-Dolls in Fashion Fever

After so long lamenting that the good old days of Fashion Avenue and Fashion Fever are long gone, imagine my surprise! I bought two Fashion Fever outfits off of ebay, only to find that just one clothing piece actually fit my Fashion Fever Teresa! I have to wonder now if that was often the case. But even though the tops were way too small on Teresa, they did at least fit my J-Dolls, so it wasn't a total loss. And the purses are cute. The outfits also came with sunglasses, but they are not being modeled today.

Here we see Lindsay modeling her new top. It's made to look like a blouse with a v-neck, long-sleeved shirt over it.


I love the purse that goes with it. No, it doesn't open, but the way the handles look vaguely like vines of plants is cool.


Next we have Melanie showing off her new top. It's meant to look like a gold tube top with a peach sleeveless overblouse, or at least I think that's the intended style.


Her purse doesn't open either, but the little zipper pull is a nice touch, even if it's not connected to a zipper. It's nicer than it appeared in the box, anyway.


Here Melanie models the short lacy jacket that goes over her top. I think the two shades of peach look nice together.


And lastly, here are our two models sitting on the bench that seems to be a favorite place for the girls to soak up a little sun on these fall days.


The skirt is an attempt at making a J-Doll skirt that didn't quite work out, and the shorts are from Mattel's original Stacie. They're a little short, but I don't have a lot of pants or skirts for the J-Dolls to wear at the moment.

I'm sure at some point Fashion Fever Teresa, or at least the denim pants that came with the peach tops, will make an appearance. I've ordered a couple of more Fashion Fever pieces, so we'll see if any of that actually works with the belly button body.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fashion Fever Doll, and a Fashion Avenue Outfit

Today I have pictures of a Fashion Fever Teresa in her original outfit, and a regular doll on a Shani body, who is wearing a Fashion Avenue outfit.


I love the Teresa face mold
I love the Mackie mold as well, although her lips are an interesting color.

I understand why some people prefer fabric purses to plastic ones. However, I much prefer Teresa's purse versus the one this Fashion Avenue outfit came with.


I like the positioning of Teresa's hands as well, although perhaps one should have been palms to side. These rather remind me of Monster High and Ever After High hands.


Here Teresa stands up to show you her whole outfit, including those shoes! I could never walk in those things, even in my size! :D


I forgot to get a good picture of the buttons on her cardigan -- the edges keep wanting to turn inside out. But you can see the threads sewing them on. :)

The pattern of this sweater really makes it special. Mattel could have gone with a plain stitch, but they didn't. The knitter in me admires the tininess of it.


The same thing goes for the waffle weave of this shirt. It makes the entire outfit a stand-out.


Lastly, the dolls model some doll-sized storage bins that I bought at Michael's. They were $1 each. I also saw them at Office Max. I would imagine they're in other stores as well.