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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday randomness: Gerda

For this weeks random post I present my new doll Gerda (with Shani, whom I happened to have along).
Gerda is an Etsy find from England, one labeled as a "Barbie/Bild Lili clone."  She has a hollow plastic body with five points of articulation (hip, hip, shoulder, shoulder, neck).  Her head is a little faded, not unlike a Mego Candi doll's head.  See this?
She's a blonde, and because she's listed as a Bild Lili clone I gave her a Germanic name.  Her only markings are a No. 999 on her right butt cheek.  She can wear Barbie's clothes, but not her shoes.  Check this out.
Little brown leatherette boots, carefully stitched in place and not removable.  I've seen Barbies and Barbie-clones with permanently attached shoes, but never anything like this.  The Etsy seller didn't photograph this, but no biggie.  I'll never have to worry about Gerda having a Cinderella moment.

Little touches like that are one reason why I love Barbie-clones.  You never know when you'll see something unique like these shoes.  Granted, this is the first time I've ever seen anything like this, but that just makes the search more fun!  Now to see if I have any luck identifying my Gerda.  She looks a little like a Betty Ballard doll, but I don't know if Betty ever had short hair like Gerda does.

God bless,

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Irwin Sailor Mercury

HEADS UP:  I've been having some computer woes and my tablet won't do Photoshop.  Hence the lighting in these pictures will thus be all over the board.  I apologize in advance for any ill-lit photography.

I'm not a hardcore anime fan yet, though I do enjoy it.  The doll that I'm reviewing for Throwback Thursday is a member of Sailor Moon, an anime that I've been working through over the past months.  For those that are uninitiated, Sailor Moon is another magical girl anime, based on a group of teenage girls from Tokyo who have to protect their world from a race of evil aliens.  I have a lot to say about the DiC dub of Sailor Moon and not all my opinions are positive, but let's not open up that discussion here.  Regarding the doll, Sailor Mercury would not have been my first choice, given what I know now about the characters.  Had I been able to afford a Sailor Jupiter doll she would've been the one I chose.  She's sort of redheaded and she wears green, a combination that is dear to my heart, and she is tough as nails.  But for some strange reason Sailor Jupiter dolls are hard to find at a price I can currently afford.  My next choice would've been Sailor Venus because she's got a cute personality, but she's blonde and I've already got too many blonde dolls.  So I settled for this very cute Sailor Mercury doll.
Her real name is Ami Mizuno, or "Amy Anderson" in the DiC dub.  Apparently the surname "Anderson" was only used in one episode, after which the surname "Mizuno" was returned.  "Anderson," continues to stick in some circles, however.  The name "Ami" can mean either "Asian beauty" or "second beauty," while the last name "Mizuno" contains a kanji relating to water.  Both of these names make sense, as Ami is the second main character introduced, and because her sailor attacks are based on water and ice.  Personality-wise Ami is depicted as a quiet, sweet, extremely intelligent transfer student with a knack for technology and a fondness for swimming.  Her signature color is blue, and her attacks are based on technology and music in addition to water and ice.  The DiC dub depicts her as having a British accent for reasons I'll never know, though it suits her.  As always, let's start with hair.
BLACK???  Ami is supposed to have blue hair!!!  That doesn't please me one bit, because I love dolls with blue hair!  It's not nice hair either!  It's stiff and wiry like nylon!  If Ami's hair is any indication of the quality for this line, maybe it's a good thing that I was unable to land a Jupiter doll (her hair is long).  His hair is mercifully short and very thick.  I can see Ami's scalp right at the very top of her head where the part gaps open, but her scalp is painted black so the gap isn't terribly obvious.
In the anime Ami wears her hair parted on the left and her bangs are swept to the side.  This doll's hair is a little fluffier than Ami's should be, but other than that the style is dead on.  In spite of that I'm still mega-bummed about the hair being black.  One of my favorite things about anime is the ridiculous hair colors that crop up.  This trait is unfortunately not as prevalent in Sailor Moon as it is in other anime; out of eleven main characters, four have unnatural hair (Mercury, Saturn, Neptune, and Chibiusa), and of those four, only one (Mercury) appears in the first season.  My Ami's having black hair drops that number to three.  However, the style and the length are right, so that's a plus.

Underneath her hair Ami sports a tiny pair of ears, complete with tiny blue earrings.
In the first season of the anime these earrings are fairly important, as Ami uses one to work one of her technological gadgets.  On the doll, they're just spots of blue paint.  Nothing special, but nothing to fall off and get lost either.

Ami's other piece of jewelry is this tiara, made of gold plastic with a blue "gem" painted in.
This tiara is fairly important for the sailor senshi, because they can double as weapons when they battle, though I've only seen Sailor Moon herself do this and only during the first season.  Ami's tiara doesn't come off and it's a little crooked.  I can tolerate it being a little cockeyed it it won't fall off and get lost, I'm not happy about the ding in the plastic.  Ami came NRFB so that had to be some sort of flub at the factory.  Nothing I can't cover with gold paint.

Ami's eyes are large like an anime character's eyes should be, and blue like her hair should be, with eyebrows in a relaxed position.
I've read online that Irwin's Sailor Moon dolls varied considerably, with some being "pretty" and some being "ugly".  The "ugly" ones have flat faces.  My Ami has a small nose that's really more of a protuberance in the vinyl than an honest-to-God and red lips that also are not molded.  Not a good sign.
These lips aren't accurate to the anime.  Sailor Moon occasionally wears makeup in the first season of the anime, and all four of the Outer Senshi wear makeup when they're in uniform, but as far as I know Sailor Mercury never does.  Nail polish, yes, but not makeup.  I love the color and shape of these lips, though.  Up close they look a little ragged, but at a normal distance they're fine.
Unfortunately, due to her extremely flat profile I believe that my Ami is indeed one of the "ugly" dolls.  She doesn't look ugly to me!

Like my little Mami, Ami is clad in her magical girl uniform.
In keeping with the "sailor" title, Ami's magical girl uniform is done up like the sailor fuku so common among Japanese schoolgirls.  Not all sailor fuku are one color like the one in the link is; usually the bodice and sleeves are white, while the skirt and shoulders are plaid or some solid color.  Sailor senshi uniforms appear to be based on this.  Ami's bodice is white, while her hood and skirt are royal blue.
Said skirt and hood are both folded a little from being in a box so many years.  The hems are trimmed with gold ribbon, a touch that is not found in the anime.
The skirt has a few well-placed pleats sewn in, plus a white satin band that I guess is supposed to simulate a waistband.  The pleats are hard to photograph, but they're well-executed and nicely spaced.
Underneath the skirt Ami wears a pair of white skivvies and a white extension of the bodice that keeps her skirt in place.  Nice and modest.
Both the white and the blue fabric are knitted.  The bodice is very closely fitted to Ami's body but stretches a bit, while the blue fabric doesn't stretch at all.  The dress fastens in the back with old-style Velcro.
The bodice is trimmed with a crookedly-sewn pale blue bow and a royal blue button...
...and a matching bow in back.
I have to be extra careful with the Velcro here, as it has grabbed the bow and snagged it a bit in the past.  The ends are finished so the ribbon won't unravel completely.

The button on the front bow is a bit interesting, as in the anime this button can be either round or heart-shaped.  Either one is right, apparently.  A similar discrepancy can be found in Ami's choker, which I forgot to photograph.
It's just a simple strip of royal blue fabric.  It can be either plain or adorned with a star; again, either one is right.

All the senshi wear gloves of varying lengths, with Ami's coming to the elbow.
These are made of the same fabric as the dress and have some stretch.  The hands look more like mittens than honest-to-God gloves.  I know why the gloves are done like this, but I still think it looks clunky.

Topping off the look are these blue boots.
All of the senshi wear shoes that match or coordinate with their uniforms and inexplicably, most of the shoes have...high heels???  As active as these girls are that's hardly practical, but that's what they wear.  Ami's shoes are no exception.
The upper cuffs are painted white, and the rest of the shoe is unpainted blue plastic.
These shoes have no slit cut down the back, which is somewhat problematic for reasons that will soon be revealed.
Overall I'm mostly pleased with the way my Ami is dressed.  She's accurate to the anime and her clothes are reasonably well constructed.  The back bow can snag if treated carelessly and the front bow is crooked, but otherwise the outfit is alright.

Alright...with clothes out of the way let's take a look at this body.  This...body!!!
This is the absolute last type of body I'd expect for Sailor Mercury.  It's trim but very athletic, more like a body I'd expect Uranus or Jupiter to have.  Ami's arms and legs are much thicker than a Barbie's...
...and her feet are very big, almost as big as Monster High feet.  Thus why removing those boots is tricky without a slit.
Ami's body is very muscular in appearance, but she does have some bone structure visible.  Her chest has sculpted clavicles.
Thick vinyl limbs usually indicate stiff joints, and indeed Ami's mobility is mediocre.  She has rotating joints at her shoulders, hips, and neck, plus internal click knees, but the range of motion isn't great.  Ami's neck can only rotate.  I wish it could tip too, but it doesn't.
Being thick vinyl against hard plastic, the hip joints have a lot of friction.  Ami can get into positions that my other dolls can, like so...
...but I have a very hard time getting her hips to cooperate.  The knees are not particularly flexible either; this is the extent of their mobility.
Two clicks.  Not great, but better than no joint at all.

Ami's torso is smaller than the average Barbie body so I have my doubts about clothes sharing.  But just for the heck of it I'm going to try it anyway.  I'll start with the outfit that my Fashion Fever doll was wearing.
That's not a very promising start!  The shirt fits, but the jeans are too tight.  They almost made it all the way up, but when one's drawers are peeking out almost doesn't cut the mustard.  So my Barbie jeans and pants are out.  Good thing I have tons of dresses!  This one is from Olivia's Doll Closet.
This one is loose around the waist, but it fits Ami without a fuss.  Much to my chagrin the seams are beginning to pull apart in places.

This next dress is one I use a lot for dolls that have little to wear.  Right now one of my old Starr dolls is using it, but she's willing to let Ami borrow it.
Okay, I lied.  It's really a skirt and top, not a dress.  It fits Ami pretty well, though.  The black tube top underneath was a bit of a squeeze, but the skirt and outer top were no trouble at all.

Starr's friend Kelley usually wears this next outfit.
This too fits without a lot of problems, though the sleeves are a bit tight.  The skirt, by contrast, is a little loose at the waist but not ridiculously so.

Last dress for the time being is an Etsy find, one that I usually put on Princess Tiana.
Ami rocks it just like Tiana does!  It's a little loose around the shoulders, but not terribly so.  If I'm ever in the mood to redress Ami she'll probably get this.  All she needs are shoes.

Oh yes, shoes!  I was worried about shoes for Ami since such a highly arched foot can look a little silly without shoes.  Monster High to the rescue.
I don't know if all MH shoes will fit Ami, but Operetta's mules are a near-perfect fit.  So we've established that Ami can wear some clothes intended for other dolls.  Unfortunately the opposite is not true.  Barbie and Tiana couldn't wear Ami's uniform, and neither could Starr or her friend Kelley.  It was too tight for all of them.

Just for kicks, here's how Ami compares visually to my other anime doll, Mami.  It's Tokyo versus Mitakihara City!
Needless to say these two will not be swapping uniforms.  According to their respective wiki pages, Mami should be about 5'1" and aged fifteen, while Ami should be about 5'2" and aged fourteen.  When I pair these two together Ami towers over Mami.  They make a visually interesting pair though, with one being dominantly blue and the other being dominantly yellow.

Time to sum it up now!

*Hair is low-quality, thin around the part, and the wrong friggin' color.  Ami's hair is supposed to be blue.  Not black, blue.  BLUE, BLUE, BLUE!!!
*Tiara is off-center and missing paint
*Front bow is crooked
*Both bows can snag on the Velcro if not treated with care.
*Shoes are hard to get off.
*Stiff body

*Accurate portrayal of the character.  Sailor Moon fans can tell at a glance that this is Sailor Mercury.
*Hair may not be the right color, but it IS the right style.
*Cute face
*Clothing is well-constructed and attractive
*Shoes don't fall off.
*This doll can stand on her own if balanced properly.  I forgot to mention that above.
*Can wear some clothes and shoes meant for other dolls.

I'll admit it:  reviewing Ami wasn't as fun as reviewing Lime Chiffon was last week.  That's not to say that it's not fun owning Ami.  On the contrary, I love having this bookish little sailor senshi around!  Ami is cute and mostly accurate for the anime, and her clothes are well-made.  Redressing her WAS fun; I always enjoy playing Dolly Dress Shuffle.  However, I wish her hair were blue.  I don't know if a reroot is possible with these dolls but if it is then that may be in my girl's future.  Also, Ami is very, VERY stiff.  Her hips joints are hard to manipulate, her knees have a poor range of motion, and her arms only rotate at the shoulder.  Now that I think about it, I realize that the jointing is what bothers me the most about Ami.  She's a Sailor senshi, and sailor senshi are very active.  Thus I'd expect a doll based on an active character to have more joints so she can strike more poses.  It would've been great if this doll had had enough joints to strike her...well, I call it her attack pose, the pose each girl strikes when her transformation is complete.  This is what Ami's attack pose looks like.
My stiff little doll has no hope of striking this pose and I think that's a shame, but in my Ami's defense, very few of my other dolls can strike that pose.  My Monster High dolls probably could, and my Made to Move Barbie definitely could, but that's it!  So I should probably cut Ami some slack.  She looks cute with Mami, even if the two are massively out of scale.  And I love having a doll that looks like one of my favorite senshi!  


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday randomness: blog preparations

To keep things lively between Thursdays I'm going to post random crap on Sundays as well.  These are random pictures that didn't make it onto other blogs, or pictures that I took and thought were cute.  To kick the new series off, this is what my kitchen table tends to look like when I'm working on a blog.
This was in preparation for the last dolly dress discussion that I did.  There are six dolls on the table and three more on a box behind me.  Sometimes my blogs have more than that and some have fewer.  My girls aren't posed in any way; I just embraced the mayhem.

Got a Throwback Thursday review in the works, so stay tuned!

Happy Sunday,

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Kenner Lime Chiffon

Even though I'm a product of the eighties and remember a handful of the awesome toys that were available during that decade, I never owned a Strawberry Shortcake doll until now.  The reason why was that Strawberry Shortcake was an early eighties thing, and I'm a decidedly late eighties thing (born in 1987, hence that number in my handle name).  However, in spite of my monetary woes, I did have enough to get this doll as a little treat for myself.
This is Lime Chiffon, one of Strawberry's cronies.  My particular doll is the Kenner version; the only other Lime Chiffon that I'm aware of was made by Toy Head Quarters in the early nineties, and I understand that the THQ dolls smelled pretty raunchy.  I think Lime may be one of the lesser known characters, as Wikipedia's list of characters has her listed in the twelfth spot.  For a comparison, Miss Emily's pet character Blueberry Muffin got the third slot, and Orange Blossom (whom I adore) got the seventh slot.  Oh well, I'm not in this for popularity anyway!  According to the same list, Lime is a ballerina who loves to dance and spin.  She's apparently pretty flighty (like me) and her pet parrot Parfait is implied as the smarter of the two.  So let's take a look at my little poppet.  If you know me fairly well then it should be fairly obvious why I chose Lime Chiffon over Orange Blossom.  She's green, and I LOVE GREEN!!!  Interestingly, the only thing lime-colored about Lime is her hair!
Lime's hair is short and curly, and it still retains a faint whiff of her old scent.  The remaining odor smells more like vanilla than lime, but it's a pleasant smell, very much like the baked goods that these dolls are supposed to emulate.  The hair is thick around the front and sides, but the back is thinning quite a bit.
The Etsy seller warned about this on the sale page, so I knew this doll would have that problem.  From what I understand thin root jobs were fairly normal for these dolls anyway, so it's all good.  It's nothing that can't be concealed by this hat.
Strawberry and all of her friends came with some sort of head gear.  Sometimes these dolls had vinyl hats, but Lime's is made of cloth...and strangely, it's pink.  It's a nice, soft shade of pink, one that I enjoy wearing myself from time to time, but it looks a little peculiar when paired with all that green.  It matches other pieces of Lime's costume though, so I'm okay with it.  This doll's overall color scheme reminds me of another doll I own, in fact.  Remember this gal?
Makes me wonder if Strawberry Shortcake helped inspire the Lalaloopsy dolls.  Okay, back to the hat.  I originally thought it was supposed to be styled like a hennin, but according to the original artwork it's apparently supposed to look like a cake!  See?
Well...maybe it's supposed to be a cake.  It could also be one of those nasty sugar-free ice cream cones; it's got a diamond pattern that's similar to the pattern on one of those cones.  
Either way Lime's hat is clearly meant to look like some sort of sweet.  It's topped with a soft green bow that matches Lime's hair.
The fabric is soft and so the top of this hat collapses a lot.  To remedy this I stuffed it with a Kleenex.
As the Etsy description promised, the hat does a fantastic job of covering Lime's thinning hair.  Now to the face.  These Kenner dolls have very minimalist faces.
Lime's eyes consist of a crescent of green paint highlighting the pupil and three little eyelashes.  Freckles were common with this bunch, and Lime is no exception.  She has one cluster of freckles on her nose, and a cluster on each cheek.  The cheeks are also lightly blushed, though my doll has a slight rub on one cheek, which I was aware of before purchasing this doll.
Lastly, the mouth.  It too is painted simply, being a reddish brown line of paint done up in a pleasant, friendly smile.
Less is definitely more with these dolls.  I originally thought that they might have looked better with larger eyes, but having seen the THQ dolls I've changed my mind.  The THQ wave is cute, but those dolls look a little TOO banjo-eyed for my liking!  My Lime isn't 100% perfect herself; if you look very closely, you can see that her eyes are ever so slightly off-kilter.
The right eye is lower than the left, not a lot, but enough that I feel it should be pointed out.  It's not a glaring mistake, so I'm more than willing to overlook it.

The majority of these dolls wore dresses, and Lime is no exception to that rule.  Her dress is...well what a shock, her dress is green!  Fittingly, it's the same shade of green as the baked good that is my doll's namesake: lime chiffon pie.
This looks like a style that my ball-jointed dolls would wear!  I don't know if lolita fashion was as big in 1980 as it is now, but this definitely has that cutesy vibe about it.  And yet this dress is deceptively simple.  It has puffed sleeves with scalloped edges (these are pink in the original artwork)...
...and a knee-length skirt with a daisy chain hem.  The daisy chain has a few loose threads, but nothing serious.
The back closes with a small strip of Velcro.
The presence of Velcro surprised me because Miss Emily's Blueberry Muffin has snaps on her dress.  I prefer snaps on doll clothes because Velcro can snag or lose its tack, but this Velcro isn't a huge piece.  It's also the old kind that sticks for years, and I'm glad of that.  

In addition to the dress and hat Lime is wearing the striped footwear that was so dear to Strawberry's circle of friends.  Some of the dolls wore socks, and Lime belongs to the tights camp.  Her tights cover everything from waist to toe.
These are knitted and have held up very well over the years.  They appear to have faded a bit in places, but the elastic and the fabric are still holding strong.  Topping off the look are these pink shoes.
These are one-piece mary-janes with a molded bow.  They are made of molded vinyl and are very squishy; I love playing with these little shoes, in fact!  They're a little tricky to get on Lime's feet when she's wearing her thick tights, so that squishiness also comes in handy.

Now that we've discussed clothes, the body.  These dolls don't have much of a body to show.  They're slender all over and fairly leggy.  Notice that my particular doll has one leg that's slightly longer than the other.
I wouldn't expect a doll this small to have a lot of joints, but Lime does have the five that keep her from being a figurine:  shoulder, shoulder, hip, hip, neck.  Her shoulders have simple rotational movement, as do her hips.
Front-back splits are easy for Lime, as is a basic sitting position.
Lime has to brace herself with her arms when in a sitting position, because she's a bit top heavy with that big noggin.  I thought that her neck might have some pivoting motion, but it doesn't.  It just rotates.
The first wave of these dolls had flat hands, but I don't think Lime was released until the second wave.  Thus her hands are curled, like they were meant to hold something.  I particularly love Lime's left hand; her little pinky finger is up!
Lime has reasonably big feet, bigger than those of dolls taller than she is.  
Like Miss Emily's Blueberry Muffin, Lime has holes in her soles.  They've been killing her forever.
Surprisingly, despite the size of her feet Lime is a little unsteady when in a standing position.  Again, this is probably because of her large head...and probably also because one leg is a little longer than the other.  So overall, this doll's body has no major flaws, surprises, or disappointments.  Her joints are tight and her limbs are molded in a way that complements her cutesy little girl personality.  The body is about what I expected, very average for a doll body.

That pretty much takes care of Lime, so let's quickly look at Parfait.
In the past I've talked about dolls that came with pets, and I've often mentioned that a pet can be left out in favor of some other accessory, but with Parfait I'll make an exception.  He's very cute.  He's made out of green vinyl that is moderately soft, not unlike the vinyl that is used to make cheap squeaky toys for dogs and kids.  His beak, feet, and wing feathers are all painted pink.  His eyes are kelly green and ringed with white, floral-shaped feathers.  Unlike most green parrots, Parfait has a white topknot.
The paint has a few rubs here, which I was expecting.  The seller was very honest about any flaws this duo might have, so again, there were no nasty surprises here.  I love Parfait's expression, by the way.  He looks cheerful and noisy, just like these blabbermouth birds tend to look.  So in Lime Chiffon's case I'll gladly accept her little pet for the cute figurine that he is.  All of these dolls have cute pets, by the way.  My favorite of them is probably Lemon Meringue's pet frog, Frappe, though being a cat fan, I also like Strawberry Shortcake's kitten, Custard.  Now that I think of it, picking a favorite pet may be just as hard as picking a favorite character!

This normally would be the place where I'd do good stuff/bad stuff, but the only bad thing I can muster up is the thin hair.  My particular doll's eyes are a smidge wonky, but not terribly so.  From what I understand, thin hair was the norm for these dolls, and if I had been the maker that would've been the one thing that I changed.  Other than that my little Lime is a fabulous doll.  Very simple, yes, but simplicity often makes for a good plaything.  Simplicity means no extraneous bits and bobs to lose, no batteries to replace, no parts that can break, just a cute doll that can let a kid's imagination run wild.  In addition to being cute and simple, these dolls smelled nice when new, and my doll still has traces of her original scent.  When I put all that together I can see why these toys were so popular with children of the early eighties.

Hugs and kisses,