Sunday, April 23, 2017

Matryoshka Dolls

Russian nesting dolls have been showing up on a few blogs recently, so I decided to put up a few pictures of the set that I have. I can't remember where I got it. I *think* I bought it at a store in a mall near us that sold Russian manufactured items.
The ever photogenic Fashion Fever Teresa is my size model here.
Can you see the littlest doll of the set in this picture?
Traditionally, by the time you get to the smallest doll, there isn't a lot of detail left. This one has about the least amount of detail possible.
And here is a set of the entire group. The faces of the dolls are not as yellowish as they appear in this light. What I think stands out about this set is the little pieces of wood glued on as accents on the dolls' dresses and their babushkas. :) The two biggest dolls do not fit back together as well as they should. I'm going to take Black Kitty's advice and do a little sanding around the join.
And speaking of Black Kitty, she very kindly offered to translate the piece of paper that came inside my largest doll. I'm pretty sure I recognize the word Matryoshka on there, but not knowing Russian, I can't read any of the rest of it. I will be thankful for translation assistance!



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Finds and Monster High Metal Pail Giveaway!

I was hoping to find more cute mini Easter things than I did this year, but I didn't have much luck. I might hit the sales at a couple of stores tomorrow to see if I can find anything. I only found one truly Easter item before today, but this is a good time to show two other things I bought recently that at least feel like spring.

Target often has little mini purses that I believe are supposed to be used as change purses for human size people. But what fun is that when you can use it for a doll instead? The one I bought recently is a bright spring yellow, and can be used as a tote bag for spring trips, taking advantage of better weather.

With 16" Daphne, it works like an extra large purse.
 With a Barbie doll, it looks like a big tote bag. That huge zipper handle has to go.
I also decided to try it with a Liv doll, wondering how her large head would balance out the bag. I think it looks just slightly better, but still comes across like a giant tote bag.
And since it's meant to be a coin purse, it has real storage inside, unlike a lot of bags made for dolls.
The next purse I found by accident. I was perusing the eBay auctions of a Re-Ment seller, when I came upon this purse. It came to me in a sealed plastic store bag, but neither the plastic bag nor this doll purse have any markings. But I'm very happy with it, and I think the pastel colors are just right for spring.
Lastly, I found these two adorable mini bunnies yesterday while shopping for some human sized Easter items. Their fuzzy texture almost makes them look "real" in photos, which I did not expect, but it's a nice surprise.
And now it's time for the giveaway info! While doing the Easter shopping yesterday, I saw some small metal pails to use for holding Easter goodies. The ones for girls had the usual princesses and whatnot, but I spotted a lone Monster High pail. I know some of my readers like to collect the dolls, and I thought this pail might make a nice little Easter giveaway! I'll ship it anywhere in the world, but won't be responsible if it happens to get lost in the post. If you want it, all you have to do is leave a comment on my blog from now until Saturday the 22nd. If you're not currently following this blog, I'd appreciate a follow too. The pail is all metal, and is about 4.75 inches high, or 12 cm. It has the Monster High skull logo on one side, and Clawdeen, Draculaura,. and Frankie on the other.

I hope all my readers who celebrated had a great Easter!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lottie Pony versus LORI Horse

When Battat's LORI brand for 8" dolls came out with horses for their line, I decided to buy one to see what it was like. Then I decided it was natural to compare it to the pony that Arklu has produced for their Lottie doll. I completely reviewed Lottie's pony here. This will be a short review of the new horse, and some comparison comments. For brevity, I named the Arklu Welsh pony Merlyn, which is the Welsh word for pony. The name Elinor appeals to me for this new horse, so that's what she'll be called.

Elinor is an Andalusian horse. I've read that gray is the most common color for that breed of horse, so it makes sense that she is that color. Andalusian horses are also popular for dressage and jumping, so an English saddle is correct here too. From my reading, Andalusian horses are a prized breed, originating in Spain. It was a favored mount of European royalty and nobility. I just think she's pretty.
Now that we've introduced Elinor, let's talk about my deboxing experience. Merlyn only had a few twist ties, and she was free. Elinor had plastic ties around three of her ankles holding her to the box, and her tail was connected by a rubber band to her rear left leg. There was also a rubber band around her tail where it comes out of her body. There was a zip tie around her "waist" securing her to the box, and a plastic tab sewn into her mane; the ends of the tab were sewn to her saddle pad and bridle. I had to cut the zip tie with small wire cutters, and it was easiest to use the cutters on the leg ties as well. That seems excessive to me. Not every house has wire cutters just lying around.

Merlyn's box had a little blurb talking about her personality; Arklu gave her the name Seren. It also talked about how Lottie and Seren are friends, and how Lottie takes care of Seren. Considering Battat was so specific with Elinor's breed, there is nothing on the box about the breed, nor about personality or care. I think Battat dropped the ball here.

Now, let's do some comparisons between Merlyn and Elinor. When I reviewed Merlyn, I used a Stacie doll as she was the best size match among the dolls I have. Since Elinor was created for 8" mini dolls, I'm using Felicity here as my human model, since she's the horse lover of the historical AG dolls.

Here's Felicity riding Merlyn, and Elinor. Felicity does not look too out of place on Merlyn, except that the stirrups are too far down. From the outfit I have that was made for Lottie, she seems to have proportionally longer legs than the dolls that I have. Stacie's feet were awkward in the stirrups since she wasn't built to ride a horse. But at least Merlyn comes with stirrups. I also like the color of Merlyn's bridle and saddle, as being more realistic. And the furry saddle pad on Elinor, which is underneath the purple pad, reminds me more of Western style tack, as opposed to English.
I think Felicity is a bit too big for Elinor. And keep in mind, Elinor is supposed to be a horse, while Merlyn is a pony. LORI 8" dolls live like adults, with their own car, house, etc., so I guess a horse would a be a better size for them? Only Elinor looks like a pony when Felicity is riding her. If they weren't so specific about the breed, I could pass it off, but calling this equine a horse just seems silly. I looked up some pictures of Andalusian horses on line, and they look *much* larger in comparison to adult humans.

While Merlyn's box talked about Lottie feeding her apples and carrots, no accessories besides tack came with her. I think a toy bunch of carrots or an apple would have been cute. Elinor does come with a few accessories: a pail, a brush and a sort of grooming mitt. There is also a horse trailer and stable by LORI sold separately, which come with more accessories for horses. The stable includes a bucket of carrots and a bucket of apples! I don't know why I have this obsession with horse treats. :D
If you go to the web page for the stable or the horse trailer, there is a slide show where a few of the pictures show a doll wearing this mitt. Supposedly then, it will fit on the LORI dolls' hands, but not on Felicity. The way her thumb sticks out makes it impossible to get the mitt onto her hand.
I think the bucket is a bit small, but that's not a major issue.
One last thing about Elinor alone; she has her brand name on the upper inside of her rear right leg. While I suppose it wouldn't matter to a child, if you were thinking of her as a horse for a doll display, you can see the mark easily when she's just standing. Admittedly it's hard to see in most of the pictures I took.
Okay, now let's look at Merlyn and Elinor mane to mane, and tail to tail. First let's look at them from the side. Having Elinor's left front leg raised makes her unstable. I'm also not sure that her other three hooves touch the ground evenly; she was rocking a little bit on her feet while I was taking pictures. Having Felicity on her back also made her unstable.
I think looking at these two head to head really emphasizes their size differences. Elinor has a forelock, while Merlyn does not. Merlyn's eyes stick out just a bit oddly, while Elinor seems to have a thick head from this point of view.
Elinor seems to have a thicker mane than Merlyn.
When I wrote Merlyn's individual review, I pointed out that the hair in her tail seemed rather sparse, especially since it also comes out very easily. These pictures show that.
On the other hand, Elinor has a large opening where her tail comes out, and I'm not sure of the reason for that rubber band just past the opening. There was a rubber band on the outside of her tail, as I believe I mentioned above. I suppose that was to help keep the tail from being too fly-away.

Both these horses have issues. Merlyn's biggest drawback, I think, is the relative sparseness of her mane and tail. Elinor's is the realism of her tack, plus her size, if she is truly supposed to be the horse breed they say she is. The accessories Elinor does come with don't thrill me, and I think Battat could have had some description on Elinor's box. Merlyn has no accessories but at least we get some verbage about her and how Lottie takes care of her. I think the first choice on which horse to get would be what size doll you want to ride her.

Probably the next biggest factor would be availability. While Seren/Merlyn seems to no longer be for sale, there is a new Welsh pony, and a pony set that also comes with a Lottie doll, which I think is a good idea. Still no buckets, brushes or treats. Arklu will ship to the UK (of course), Ireland and continental Europe (EU), and the US. Shipping appears to be free to all of these places if you spend over 50 pounds, dollars or Euros. Lottie does have some cute things, but I also reviewed a Lottie dress in my review of Merlyn, and Lottie's clothes would definitely be a problematic fit for a lot of other dolls, just so you know. There were some stores that sold Lottie dolls in the US, but I don't know how many of them do still. The one specialty toy store in my area that I know sold Lottie products closed over a year ago.

LORI seems to only be available in the US, and only at Target stores, that I'm aware of, so that's not an option for a great many of you. :( On the other hand, if you do live in the US and also want to get the LORI horse trailer and/or stable, the LORI horse would be the one for you. At one point, there was also a LORI palomino horse, but I don't know if that one is still for sale. The LORI website only shows Elinor, and a Camarillo horse, which I might buy if I see her in store. I think her tack is much prettier than Elinor's.

Do any of your dolls like to ride?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Midnight Meeting

The two hooded figures acknowledged each other with a nod as they stepped out into a clearing in the forest. For a long moment, there was silence. One might have thought that the young woman was delicately sniffing the air, and the young man concentrating on listening for any sound that would indicate another presence near by. Then the young man gave a sigh of satisfaction and broke the silence. "Hullo, Addi."

"Hullo, Sig." She paused. "Our pack leader wanted me to thank your clan for the food left for us over the winter. You didn't need to, you know; we..."
"Addi," Sig interrupted, "it was a hard winter. Farmers and hunters would been especially angry at wolves killing their livestock and what game that could be found, and would have killed as many wolves as they could find. Now," he grinned, "I know you haven't brought me out here at midnight to thank me or get a glimpse of my handsome face."
Addi rolled her eyes. "My pack received a message today from one of my cousins, who lives in the Bois de Bruyére. They heard and smelled a stranger to the area near the old... château. But by the time they made it through the mass of trees, whoever was there had disappeared.

Sig raised his eyebrows. "What could possibly be of interest there, now?"

"Nothing, now. That was dealt with as soon as it could have been. But whoever was creeping around that area at night might not be sure of that."

"So, where do you and I come in?"

"My cousin asked if someone from our pack could come and look around a little, as a human. That way, there won't be attention drawn to their pack searching around that area, at least as humans. I know the history and lore of Märchen from other regions better than anyone in my pack, so I was chosen to make the trip. But I can't be traveling alone, as a single female, and I might need help if things get dangerous"

"And I was chosen to be your gallant escort," Sig said as he bowed. "I have to admit, any of your brothers would a little obvious should things come to an outright fight. Hopefully for all of us, this will turn out to be nothing more than a simple case of trespassing."

Addi smiled, and for a brief second, Sig thought he saw a glint of teeth in the moonlight. "It's true; my brothers are not known for holding back in a fight," Addi smirked.
 "When do we leave, then?"

"Tomorrow evening just before dusk. We need to get to the Bois de Bruyére before the trail gets too cold. It will look natural for you to stop by our village before you head out to check on game conditions. You've done it often enough before."

"The brewers in your village make good beer," Sig said with a wink.

"Stay on subject at least for more minute, please! It will look well if we travel as brother and sister. I thought we should choose a unique surname for us, instead of using one of own names."

"Jäger," Sig said with another wink.

Addi sighed. "Fine, if only to humor your childish mind. I'll see you just before dusk, then."

They each took the others' hand, as was a basic custom between every pack, clan and tribe in their region, when an agreement was made. Little did they know what a long path lay ahead of them.
Addi made to slip away back into the forest, but Sig's voice stopped her. "I'll see you at dusk, Schwesterlein."

"Shut up, Sig."

Notes on my storyline Uncovered Secrets

Chapter one: Addi's first name is pronounced Ah-dee. It is short for Adolfina. I'll let you look up what that means. :)

Bois de Bruyére: I'm probably not going to choose a lot of real place names for this story. In this case, the name means Forest of Briars in French. At least, I hope it does. If you know the language I've used, and I've made a major mistake, let me know. From what I looked up, château means castle.

Märchen: in my story, fairy tales are regarded by most people as they are by most real people today: probably just make-believe stories, maybe some loosely based on some real-life incident. Märchen are people like Addi, whose ancestors lived during the time of fairy tales, and said ancestors may even have figured as active characters in what are now thought of as simply tales. Many of the descendants of those living during that time, have taken it upon themselves to pass down a secret history of the age of magic, witches, and fairies, because of a sense that such history should not disappear. Some also feel those records from the past may be of use against any evil that might still be lurking in a dark forest. Addi and her pack, while they do not completely stay away from people in other villages and towns, still have to hide a certain part of their nature for their safety. Within a reasonable distance, packs in other areas keep up with each other, and there are also occasionally intermarriages. All Märchen are to keep their knowledge of the past as a closely guarded secret, and protect those who have deeper secrets, like Addi's pack.

Märchen actually means fairy tale in German; I've taken it to use as a name for a group related to fairy tales here. 

Jäger means hunter in German. Many of the men in Sig's clan, including Sig, are caretakers of the forest, acting as what might be called wildlife managers and hunters. There are others across the vast regions who serve the same purpose for their own area. Sig found it amusing to basically name their fake brother/sister family after himself.

Schwesterlein means little sister in German. Sig is already enjoying teasing Addi as the big brother.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Meanwhile, at the Grocery Store, I Saw...

a dollhouse! I guess it's not strictly a dollhouse. It is an attention-getter for a wine brand named Chateau Ste. Michelle, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. So this charming Chateau was created to highlight the display. Those are average size wine bottles on either side, so you can get an idea of the house size. The doors probably don't open, and there probably aren't even floors on the inside, but wow, did I want to take that thing down and check it out. I have no room for it; I'm not even sure which dolls would suit it, but I want it! :)

P.S. I'm working hard to get the first chapter in my storyline up by Friday!

Update: No luck on the house. The woman in the wine department said it was "made perfectly clear" to them that the house had to go back to the winemaker after the promotion, and that this house was one of only two in the state of Ohio. Yikes! Well, at least I'll never wonder what could have been. :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Madame Alexander Hollywood Cissy, a Modern Doll Rocking Vintage Glamour

Don't tell Cissy, but I thought this doll was a lot older than she actually is! Turns out Hollywood Cissy is only from 1999/2000. I bought this doll second-hand, and there is not a lot of information on the internet about her anymore. I have her original box, and probably her certificate of origin, but that box is buried under some other stuff, and I didn't consider it worth digging out.

Madame Alexander originally produced Cissy dolls in the mid-to-late 1950s. At that time Cissy had a resemblance, in my eyes, to the Miss Revlon or Toni dolls. She was the same height as now, 20-21", with a lady doll figure, and high-heeled feet.

Cissy came back with a makeover and a vengeance in the late 1990s. She was an extreme diva, and her most fervent collectors called themselves "Cissy Swine," as Cissy was a demanding dolly and always needed another outfit or more jewelry. Cissy is still produced, but the changes have turned off many diehard collectors. For one thing, the price has doubled or tripled; Cissy now is around $1000 at retail. New Cissy has bending elbows, but word is the vinyl is not as high quality as the earlier dolls. She also has a different face mold, that can appear "mean" or unhappy. As so often happen with doll lines, Madame Alexander changed the Cissy doll and got rid of lot of the things that drew in previous collectors. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on doll sales in the end, and I don't have those numbers. One more note, Hollywood Cissy also came with an African-American skintone, and black hair in the same style as my doll.

It's amazing what taking photographs can do for your appreciation of a doll. Cissy is on a shelf in my bedroom, so I see her every day, but when I put her in front of the camera, she really came to life.
She came wearing everything that you see in the pictures, and more that you will see below the fold. I think her wig is mohair, judging by the texture. Her eyes are sleep eyes. She has movement at her head, arms at the shoulder, waist, hips and knees, and can strike some nice poses, as you can see above.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Where Does the Time Go?

I'm working on my storyline, but in the meantime, I haven't been very good at coming up with posts lately. I'm frustrated with the projects that I've been working on, I haven't bought any new dolls besides Ever After High, stupid real life keeps getting in the way.

Speaking of projects that I'm not finishing, I picked up some cheap watercolor pencils at Michael's yesterday.
I've had a few plans in the back of my mind for some time for trying out watercolor pencils. I decided cheap pencils were a fine way to start, and if I'm not happy with the results, I can always try moving up to a better quality pencil. Preferably when I have a 40% off coupon at Michael's.

One of the things I want to do is improve Meg's face. She could use darker eyebrows, more color in her lips, maybe even some eyeliner like her design picture shows.
I have had a few ideas for posts, but I'm not sure if there is a lot of interest in what I wanted to post about. One of the posts I wanted to make was about the new LORI pony for the 6" dolls, and compare it to Lottie's pony. I also wanted to do a post about one of my older Cissy dolls; I thought perhaps people might be interested in seeing a doll you don't see much of anymore. I'm going to put a poll up and find out if there is any interest, and go from there. In the meantime, I'll be hard at work on my doll projects (hopefully!)


Saturday, February 25, 2017

TRU, Madame Alexander, EAH, Houses, Sparkle Girlz

About a month ago, I got a chance to go to the Toys R Us on the other side of town. This one is connected to a Babies R Us, which makes the store smaller, as Muff told me a while back her TRU is. However, this TRU often has different merchandise to the store closer to me, and as soon as I walked into the TRU on this day, I saw a doll line I've never seen before, and it was already on clearance.
Their story is that they are teenage princesses of the Planets of the Pentangle. When the EVIL Empress Geela takes over their planets, the girls disguise themselves as musicians and form a band called SpacePOP, because why not. Let's hit all of the tropes that we can! It bugs me that four of the five dolls have Greek and Roman mythological names (Athena, Hera, Rhea and Juno), but those goddesses don't seem to be linked in any way to the dolls or their stories. Indeed, Hera and Juno are the same goddess, one from Greece and one from Rome. The fifth doll is called Luna, but her character doesn't seem to be linked in any way to the moon, either. I was surprised to see that these dolls are produced by Madame Alexander. Honestly, I expect better from them. I was even more surprised to see that these dolls were at the MA booth at the 2017 NY Toy Fair, when this group was already on clearance at TRU in January. There was another set of the same doll wearing a uniform outfit, so maybe that's the next wave.
This doll reminds me of Draculaura.


At this TRU, Monster High and Ever After High were piled onto a square fixture with some other assorted toy items. I took a picture of the tall Madeline Hatter (17 in/43cm) and the super tall Madeline Hatter (over 2 ft/over 60cm), just to show you what they look like proportional to other dolls. I've never seen the super tall version in-store before.
I also saw a couple of houses that looked *not bad* for the price, considering they looked like they have some wood construction, and not just plastic. They also seem to come with some furniture that is not just plastic. My daughter would love the ballerina poster and dance barre in the modern house.
Lastly, since a lot of you like Sparkle Girlz outfits as good bargain outfits for your dolls, I took a couple of pictures of the ones that I saw at Walmart a few days ago. To me at least, the pink top outfit, workout outfit, and pink and black sparkle dress seemed new, but I don't keep up very well with these.

Speaking of Toy Fair 2017, what I saw looked pretty boring. Have you seen anything that you are looking forward to adding to your collection?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

Farrah Lily reminded me that I have the perfect doll to feature for Valentine's Day: C.A. Cupid from Ever After High. Why she didn't occur to me on my own, I don't know! As the daughter of Cupid, she's all about true love and happily ever after endings. The outfit she's wearing is from a webisode called Heart Struck, where she has to clean up after a bunch of her arrows go astray and create some mixed-up feelings of love. She is so delightfully over the top in her ornate decorations and hearts motif.
Happy Valentine's Day!