Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lots of Toy Sales at Target

I stopped really quickly at Target tonight for a few things, but of course I had to breeze through the toy aisles while I was there, right? Shibajuku Girls outfits are now $6.98. I think all of the Ever After High dolls, such as they are, are on sale. Monster High dolls are on sale as well. A few of the Barbie Video Game Hero dolls are marked down. And Twozies packs are marked down as well. I may or may not have brought home a couple of Shibajuku Girls outfits and a few EAH dolls that had faces that I wanted. :)

And yes, I know I need to post a real post soon! I'm working on Chapter Three of my story, I promise! I have some photos ready for that, and also have some photos for another two posts that I'm working on. I need to take *more* photos for all three, and then type them up! I'm going to plead busy; my youngest daughter's high school graduation party is next Sunday, and I'm also starting to work on stuff for my eldest daughter's bridal shower, which is in September. Lots of fun, but lots of work!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Trying to Start A Greater Cleveland Doll Collectors Club -- Advice?

As part of a general wish to meet new people and socialize more, I'd like to start a doll collector's club for the Greater Cleveland area. I see it as being for anybody who collects dolls, and who is interested in learning about other types of dolls. At least in the beginning, we would definitely meet in a public place, and I'm thinking maybe a monthly meeting with a theme? Maybe some tutorials?

Here's my problem: how do I find other doll collectors in this area? Here's some ideas I've had, and possible drawbacks.

1. Facebook. I've done a little looking, as well as I can without having a Facebook account, and don't see many doll collecting groups that are very active, so I'm not sure many active doll collectors I'd find locally. Also wondering how I would go about looking for doll collectors specific to my area.

2. Meetup. Doesn't seem like a lot of doll collectors are using this venue. There are currently eight groups, and most of them don't have a lot of members. A few are not even in the US, which is great in itself, but not useful to meet locally. Running a Meetup group also costs money every month, more than I am comfortable with spending, especially without the hope of attracting a lot of members.

3. Google Plus. Again, not a lot of groups out there already; not sure how to find people in my area.

There is a doll collecting club already present here in Cleveland. Here is the drawback: you have to explain your collection to them. Then, a committee comes to your house to view your collection, and then they vote on whether you can join! First of all, I'm not inviting a bunch of strangers into my bedroom to view my collection. Second of all, I think they sound so snobbish, that they'd take one look at this, and run away.
There used to be a doll club on the east side of town. I know this because several years back, they invited Robert Tonner to a meeting, and a special Tyler doll was created just for this event. That club seems to no longer exist, or at least it has no online presence. Also, that's a forty-five minute drive for me. If I can't start a club local to my side of town, I'd like to at least draw from all areas of Cleveland and meet more centrally.

My only other possibility seems to be doll shows. There is one coming up near here in August, so I have time to contact the organizer, and see if I could put fliers by the door or something. Honestly, I am hoping, probably in vain, that somebody finds this post in an online search who also is a doll collector in Greater Cleveland looking for local people who collect. My pessimistic side wonders how many adult-ish collectors in this area there even are. But I won't find out anything unless I try.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Chapter Two: A Sleeping Princess

After a journey of almost two days, Addi and Sig reached the village of Bois de Bruyére, just as the sun was beginning to set over low, rolling hills. The cottage to which Addi's cousin had directed them, was within sight of the large village itself, just beyond a bordering river filled with rushing, white-capped waves over a rocky bed. Unlike many of the straggling row of cottages further on, the house they approached showed no signs of having a busy farmyard, but there was a large, stone-walled garden behind, and a smaller garden adjoining the side facing the river.

A young woman named Félicie, lone occupant of the cottage, greeted her guests warmly, providing them with a water jug and basin for a quick wash after their journey. She then sat down with them for a simple but filling supper, including some very refreshing cider, which Félicie informed them was brewed by a woman right in that village.

Félicie had a open, honest face and warm eyes, and the cozy surroundings and calm atmosphere were relaxing after the rushed journey. Addi, however, was also hungry for information. For the past three days, her brain had run over and over the little information she had, and she was desperate to get her mind out of its tired groove, with fresh knowledge to mull over. So after a few bites of the meal and a compliment on the cider, Addi turned frankly to their hostess.

"I know a simple version of the what happened here, since it's part of Märchen lore. But I want to hear it from your point of view, as someone living here. I want to hear the history, not just a simple fairy tale. And I need to know why we were called here, and what we might be looking for tomorrow."

Félicie smiled. Addi was very different from the few members she knew of Addi's nearby related pack, but
Félicie had already been wondering how she could ferret out what these two strangers knew without insulting their guidance or tutelage. So lightly waving away a gentle protest from Sig to let their hostess eat, Félicie settled down to an explanation.

"I suppose you've been told that this village lies in the kingdom of Corseul-Lignon. But hundreds of years ago, the kingdom of Corseul stood alone, and just south of this village, at the crest of the hill, stood the château of the reigning king and queen. When this story starts, there was much concern on the part of then King Hugh and his wife Queen Adelaide, for they were childless. They feared for their kingdom if they died without a direct heir, for Queen Adelaide had a brother, Duke Robert of Mauvais, who Queen Adelaide feared would try to usurp the throne over King Hugh's cousin Ranulf, who ruled the neighboring country of Lignon and had a better right to a throne of his own flesh and blood. There was much rejoicing among King, Queen and subjects then when at last Queen Adelaide gave birth to a baby girl. Due to the kingdom's Salic law, the princess, whom they named Constance, could not inherit the throne herself, but she was instead almost immediately betrothed to her second cousin Raymond, oldest son of King Ranulf, in hopes that they would rule together over newly combined kingdoms.

"The proud parents planned an enormous banquet in honor of the princess' christening, and there were indeed twelve good fairies invited." Félicie paused. "You don't have many fairies left in your part of the world, do you?"

"Not good ones," said Sig dryly.
"You probably know," Félicie moved on, "that fairies have the gift of bestowing both blessings and curses onto mortals. Their magic is always strongest, however, the younger the recepient is, which is partly why fairies were so favored as godmothers

"When the big day arrived, so did the twelve good fairies. But an evil fairy intruded, and cursed the innocent princess to death on her sixteenth birthday. Stories have been told about gold plates and whatnot, but it's more likely that the evil fairy was in the pay of Duke Robert, who was seeing his plans of stealing his brother-in-law's throne dashed.

"The last fairy did manage to save Princess Constance's life, but her parents were still heartbroken when the princess fell into the magical slumber on her sixteenth birthday due to an enchanted spindle. The King and Queen almost immediately abondoned their château, after being reassured by that last fairy that she would take measures to protect their precious daughter until her curse could be ended. Almost overnight, an almost inpenetrably thick forest of large trees and thorny vines grew up around the abandoned home. The King passed his kingdom to his cousin, the evil Duke Robert dying before he could try to carry out his plans. Ranulf died shortly after the kingdoms were united, and Raymond became king. In due time, Raymond's son become king, and had his own son, Theodoric.

"Meanwhile, twelve of the thirteen fairies had fled the region, after the people of the realm decided angrily that the blessings of good magic were not an acceptable bargain for the curses of evil that attacked the good. The twelfth good fairy stayed on for many decades, after disguising herself, to enable the breaking of the sleeping spell she had been forced to give. She used magic to secretly enter Prince Theodoric's nursery, and gave him the gift of being the one to break the sleeping curse. She then later obtained a post as Theodoric's nursery governess, secretly telling him often of the story of the sleeping princess, and that someday, a prince would receive a sword on his eighteenth birthday that would enable him to break the magic barriers around her chamber, and awaken the princess with a kiss."
"I think I can guess what happened next," Addi broke in. "The fairy made sure Theodoric got the sword on his birthday, and he found the castle and managed to awaken Princess Constance."

Félicie blinked. "Well, yes, that is the ending to our fairy story. Of course, there was a bit of an uproar, to say the least, when Prince Theodoric showed up with a princess no one had heard of except perhaps in an old woman's tale. Theodoric was adament, however, and poor Constance found stability in her frightening new world in him, for he did have a family resemblance to her previously betrothed, Raymond. So they got their way, after much argument and after a few proofs were produced: a few things Constance brought with her from her former home, and a few things found in her parents' last abode. Theodoric and Constance did live very happily together as King and Queen, and after a change in the laws, their too-many-greats-to-count-granddaughter rules Corseul-Lignon today."
"But what could possibly be left that someone would want to poke around ruins from centuries ago looking for!" exclaimed a perplexed Addi. "Once the spindle produced its curse, its magic would be gone, wouldn't it?" Addi looked at Félicie for affirmation. "Prince Theodoric *must* have taken that sword back with him. And even if someone was insane enough to dream of finding some sort of clues now, that Constance's story wasn't real, would her subjects want to overthrow a current queen whose ancestors have been established on the throne for many generations behind her?"

"There's too much to guess," said Sig quietly. "Maybe somebody thinks there's a spindle there that still has magic, or that the sword is still there." Then he laughed. "Or maybe somebody is looking for those mythical golden plates you talked about, Félicie." He turned to Addi, who he could tell was oddly troubled by a sensed undercurrent of danger, with nothing visible on the surface. "If our mystery visitor left any kind of a presence or trail behind, you can find it better than anyone. And we can track anything together. Get a good night's sleep, Schwesterlein. Tomorrow we hunt."

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

Today is the day that the United States honors those military members who lost their lives in service to our country. I decided to put a small post up featuring Molly McIntyre. This one is the mini American Girl version. Molly's year was 1944, and her father was overseas serving as a doctor. Although Molly's dad does make it back home, I'm sure Molly and her father would be glad to honor those that didn't.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

J-Doll Wigs, Outfit and Shoes

I let myself get way too far behind in blogging, and then when I finally went to put up a new post on Thursday, I discovered that our home internet was down. Time to get back into the blogging groove!

Back in October of 2013, I purchased my first J-Doll, Unter den Linden, whom I named Lindsay. She's a beautiful doll, but her long, blond haired wig was rather dry. Now that there aren't as many dolls out there that I want to buy, I have been spending more money on clothes and accessories. I saw a couple of relatively inexpensive wigs in J-Doll size and decided to take the plunge to replace Lindsay's original wig. I bought two, one a short cut with auburn hair, and one of long dark-blond hair with bangs. Which one do you like better on Lindsay?

I also purchased a knit tank top and tiered skirt from the same Etsy seller from whom I bought the wigs, a place called LazyDaisyWorkshop. I asked Lindsay to model this for me as well. I think the outfit goes nicely with her new long-haired wig.

Lastly, I've been buying a lot of Re-Ment lately! I decided to take a gamble and buy a set from the Little Twin Stars bedroom series and see if the shoes fit my J-Dolls. And they do! They take a little bit of easing on, but that just means they stay on well. Also, keep in mind that Little Twin Stars had a pink and blue theme, pink for the girl star and blue for the boy star. Therefore, each original set had one shoe in pink and one shoe in blue. Once I determined that the shoes from this set fit, I bought another set so I would have two shoes in each color.

If you want to think about getting these for your J-Doll or Pullip, the dolls modeling these shoes have the type four body. I also tried a shoe on my J-Doll with the type three body, and it did fit her as well.
Lastly, a full length picture of two of my J-Dolls wearing the shoes. The brunette with the braids is wearing a Shibajuku Girls dress that I reviewed here. If you remember from my review, the interfacing of this dress kept rolling up so that it showed at the top of the neckline. I've since tacked that down by hand underneath the collar, and it has also made the collar lay flat. The blond on the left is wearing a dress from Robert Tonner's Only Hearts club line, and it is extremely versatile, as it will also fit Mattel's Stacie, and Hannah at Never Grow Up has put this dress on an Ever After High doll as well.
I'm finding that I really enjoy picking up all these new things for my dolls!

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."