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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Mariclare

Behold, another Barbie clone has made an appearance!  Meet Mariclare.
Mariclare was made in Hong Kong and distributed by J.C. Penney's.  I found her in a junk shop with a couple of Sunshine Family dolls and Tammy's sister Pepper, and since they were all bagged together I figured I may as well accept her.  While another of my clone dolls (Polly Play-Pose) was modeled after the earliest Barbie dolls, Mariclare is clearly supposed to look like Twist 'n' Turn Barbie, who was still a thing in the early seventies.  
Okay, so that's a Hair Fair head and not an honest-to-God Twist 'n' Turn head.  Hair Fair and TNT used the same mold so no biggie.  Mariclare is blonde like so many of my dolls, but her hair is a lovely shade.  It's not quite golden blonde, but definitely not platinum either.
It's relatively short for doll hair, falling just past her shoulders like Jennifer's hair does.  The fibers are smooth and shiny, but a few rogue hairs have minds of their own.
A few rogue hairs can't be helped, especially when the doll is the age she is!  And like Jennifer, Mariclare is not losing hair left and right so that's a plus.  Now to the face.
Mariclare has brown eyebrows that are not ridiculously high like some of my clone dolls' eyebrows are.  They are too dark, though; light yellow might have worked a bit better in this case, given her hair color.  Mariclare's eyes are ringed with brown eye shadow and thick rooted eyelashes, and her eyes themselves are blue.
When properly painted these Mariclare dolls were fairly attractive in a wide-eyed, retro sort of way, but my doll's left eye was painted askew so she always looks a little vacant.  Or maybe it's her right eye that spoils it.  Either way something is wrong here.
My dolly friends on Facebook tend to dismiss poor Mariclare as ugly, and I have to admit that my doll can be pretty plain.  Apparently eye wonk was fairly common with these dolls; this one has it almost as bad as mine does.  But let's go on to some of her better features.  Mariclare's mouth is red like most of the other dolls of that era.
It's smaller than the TNT Barbie mouth, but the paint job is even.  This face isn't great though, which is a shame.  If only those eyes were painted straight, it would make a world of difference.

Lastly, somewhere along the line Mariclare gained some earrings.
To my horror, these proved to be straight pins that were rammed into the doll's ears.
Good thing dolls can't feel!  LOL, this does create a pretty nice look; Mariclare looks like she's wearing silver studs, and if I wanted to I could elaborate on those!

Mariclare's body is similar in shape to Barbie's (doll shown is Stacey, whom I dragged out for the last review)...
...but it does have a few crucial differences.  Her arms are made of flexible vinyl and can bend, but they don't hold a position on their own. 
She has four little fingers and a separate thumb, but the molding is a little crude here.  There are some indentations on the fingers that LOOK like fingernails, but the fingers also have a tiny bit of loose plastic hanging off.
This molding isn't as good as Jennifer's, but it's better than Katya's.
Mariclare's legs are soft and hollow with wire inside, and they bend in a manner similar to the legs of a Licca-chan doll.
Thus despite the plainer face, Mariclare has a more flexible body than Jennifer does.  Strangely, her legs are shorter and curvier than a Barbie's, and the feet are bigger.
The rest of Mariclare's body is like a normal Barbie doll's.  Twist waist, rotational hips and shoulders, swivel head.  The two bodies are shaped similarly, but Mariclare is smaller than Stacey due to her shorter legs..
Mariclare's shorter legs aren't much of a hindrance regarding Dolly Dress Shuffle, as she can wear Stacey's clothes and vice versa.
However, Mariclare is up a creek when it comes to shoe sharing.  P.J.'s pink pilgrim heels or Stacey's yellow pumps are too small...
...while Sailor Mercury's blue boots fit but slide around a lot...
...and Tuesday Taylor's shoes are too big altogether.
LIV shoes might work.
Not bad.  LIV shoes are a bit too big for Mariclare's feet, but they stay on without any problems, and they also come off without any problems.  The black boots are a little clunky on Mariclare's frame, though.

It's a good thing that Mariclare can wear LIV shoes, because she (obviously) did not come with any of her own.  I find Mariclare's lack of shoes interesting given the fact that she was wearing a ballgown when I found her.  It's a nice ballgown too.
The dress is...oh, I'd call that color burnt sienna.  The material is a little stiff and heavy, more like a fabric I'd expect to see in a human-sized garment.  It feels a lot like taffeta, but I'm not sure.  The front of the skirt has a chain of woven daisies running down the full length.
The neckline is also trimmed with these daisies.
The skirt is hemmed and finished with...ribbon?  Bias tape?  Either way it's reinforced.
The back fastens with two metal snaps, one of which is beginning to tear loose a bit.
Notice that the back opening is not finished as well as the skirt; it has a lot of loose threads hanging loose.  The interior of the dress does as well.
Probably a homemade dress.  Factory-made dresses don't usually have this nice of fabric and then not bother to finish the interior seams.

I think that covers it!

*Eyes are terribly wonky.  Mariclare has the potential to be a very pretty doll, but these eyes are pretty bad.  The lips are a little better, but still a bit sloppy.  Overall the face is pretty blank.
*Body is different from Barbie's, enough so that some clothes sharing is quirky.
*Shoe sharing is a problem unless one has a large cache of LIV shoes.

*Hair is short and soft, and shiny, though there's not much to play with.
*Body is not hard plastic and can thus hold more poses than other clone bodies can.
*Molding is superior to that of some other clone dolls.
*Can share clothes with the older Barbie dolls, and possibly LIV dolls too.
*Dress is probably not original, but it's pretty nice.  It has a lot of loose threads inside, but nothing major.

Mariclare is very ordinary as clone dolls go.  Her body is vastly superior to Jennifer's, but nowhere near as poseable as even the old TNT Barbie bodies were.  And we all remember how stiff those could be.  Even with the average body Mariclare could've risen above with her face...if only it were well-painted.  And frankly, even if my doll's face WERE well-painted she still wouldn't be half the character that Jennifer is with her huge smile.  See?
In a very strange way, Mariclare and Jennifer cancel each other out.  Jennifer has a great head and a lousy body, while Mariclare has an acceptable body and an average head that is made less than average with a slipshod paint job.  Said slipshod paint job is a shame, because this doll could've been halfway decent with straight eyes.  Since a doll's face is very, VERY important, I think Jennifer is the superior doll here despite her stiff body and goofy-looking feet.  That doesn't mean Mariclare isn't worth the effort; indeed, I daresay that she's easier to find than Jennifer is.  But Jennifer definitely has the better face.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Jennifer

RagingMoon1987 is back again, and I'm going to veer away from larger dolls and do a couple of weeks of Barbie clones.  This week's doll arrived way back on April 20th, which was a big FML day.  My mother discovered that she was overdrawn and ended up having to take some money from me to keep herself afloat, my grandmother was seriously ill (and never fully recovered), and we had to file an insurance claim to get our fence halfway repaired, a process that ended up taking two months, though we had no way of knowing that back in April.  Either way, it was nice to open up the mailbox and see this doll smiling back at me.  Her name is Jennifer, and she's a Barbie clone.
I can't say that I know much about Jennifer, other than that she's marked "Hong Kong" on the neck and that she's "the swingingest 11 1/2 inch doll," per the box's description.  Judging from the language and the yellowed tape on the box I think she dates from the 1970's, but she may be a lot younger than that.  This is the only Jennifer doll that I've seen for sale, and Google doesn't appear to have a lot of info, so I think I've got a good find.  So let's take a look at her outside the box.  She's already falling out of it anyway. 
Unlike most of my Barbie clones, Jennifer has brown hair.  These dolls can come with blonde hair as well, but I managed to land a brunette. 
The hair is simply styled, just shoulder-length hair with bangs and a center part. 
The root job is hit-and-miss, about what I'd expect from a Barbie clone.

The fibers are better than those on other Barbie clones I've seen.  They're a little bristly at the ends, but they're also smooth and shiny and don't go in all directions...and they're not falling out in clumps either!
Jennifer's face is interesting for reasons I'll go into shortly, but first let's review it.  She's got a cute expression.
Jenifer's eyes and eye makeup are robin's egg blue, and her eyelashes are rooted and are a little darker than her hair.  
It's hard to tell with those thick lashes, but Jennifer is wall-eyed.  
Her mouth is an open smile, as if she's talking or laughing.  It's painted a simple pink.
It's this mouth that gives me a strong sense of deja vu.  Jennifer's face looks eerily like the face of a collector doll I saw several years back, Most Mod Party Becky.  If I've got the story right, Becky was a Francie-sized doll who made it to the prototype stage in the 1960's, but never made it further than that until Mattel decided to revive the idea in 2008.  She shared a face with Francie's friends Casey and Twiggy, a face that had a wide, joyous smile.  I never understood why Mattel chose to use Casey's head instead of Francie's for Twiggy, because Twiggy's publicity pics usually required her to look serious.  Shame too, because she was cute when she smiledStill is, too.  LOL, I love Twiggy!!!  Anyway, Jennifer's smile looks hauntingly like Becky's and Twiggy's and Casey's, though i unfortunately have none of the above to compare her to.  She also bears a passing resemblance to an early P.J., though she doesn't favor P.J. as much as she does Becky.
There's also another obscure clone doll from a company called Jilmar named Mindy, and she looks similar to Jennifer.  I was hoping Mindy might lead me to Jennifer's manufacturer, but no dice.

Moving down, Jennifer is wearing a goofy-looking peasant dress.
For some strange reason, this dress reminds me of the Mod Barbie fashion Fab City.  It doesn't look a thing like Fab City, so go figure on my reasoning there.  My mind works in strange ways.  Anyway, the bodice of Jennifer's dress is white with long, full sleeves.  The cuffs of these sleeves are trimmed with lace.
The neckline is medium-low, scooped, and trimmed with more lace.
The skirt and the waist join at Jennifer's rib margin.  This is accurate for the era, but it makes placing the sash a little awkward.  At first, I didn't think the sash was placed properly, but apparently it's supposed to look like this, with a bit of the striped fabric extending above the sash.
The sash is just a simple piece of orange ribbon, by the way.  It's long enough that I usually wrap it around Jennifer twice before tying it in the back.
The ends are fraying, so this ribbon's days may be numbered.
The fabric of the skirt drapes nicely, but this comes at the cost of being thin.  It's possible to see daylight through both layers of this skirt.
The material is printed in a black and white stripe pattern, similar to but not the same as a zebra's stripes and highly like the dress that another of my clone dolls wears.  Dresses in the seventies were either very short or very long, and Jennifer's ankle-length dress is on the long end of the spectrum with a ruffle at the bottom that adds some fullness.
The skirt is hemmed, but the hem has come undone in a few places.
The dress closes in the back with a snap that is agef and hard to undo.
This whole dress is rather baggy around the waist without that ribbon, so the ribbon sash serves a more important purpose than I originally thought.
Jennifer wears no shoes or jewelry, just that trippy dress...and a yellow plastic stand.  
The stand is pretty rudimentary, just your X-shaped stand that came with some Barbie dolls back in the day.  It wedges between Jennifer's ankles and holds her standing like this.
Under the dress and stand, Jennifer has your typical, run-of-the-mill clone body.  Her arms are vinyl, and the rest of her body is stiff, hollow plastic.  Her legs are very thin.
Not all of my clone dolls have that twist waist so Jennifer has that much up on them.
In fact, Jennifer outdoes some of the brand-name dolls of her era too.  My P.J. is an example; she's a talker, and a twisting waist wouldn't have allowed for that talking mechanism.
Jennifer's shoulders and hips have simple pivoting motion, meaning that I can put Jennifer in a walking position...
...or seat her...
...or put her in a stilted waving position.
Oh yes, Jennifer can turn her head, and also lose it.
Something rattles around in Jennifer's head when I shake it, so I assume that may have been some sort of attachment to keep overly inquisitive kids (or adults) from pulling the head off.  If that's the case, it didn't work too well.  That's it in terms of posing, though.  No bendy knees or anything of that sort, just a stiff, hollow, plastic body.  The molding is rough in places too, though not as rough as another of my clone dolls!  Here's how Jennifer's hand compares to the hand of Katya, another of my clones...and quite possibly the lowest-quality clone I've ever seen.
Since Jennifer's body is similar to an older Barbie's, she can wear the clothes with few problems.  Here she is in P.J.'s dress...
...and in nineties-era dress that one of my TNT Stacey dolls wears...
...and in Gretchen's Hip To Be Square dress.
Of course not everything I tried on Jennifer fit her.  This modern-day yellow and white outfit does technically fit, but it doesn't look good on her.
My newest Sparkle Girlz dress looks good in the front...
...but it doesn't close in the back.
Shoes are a little problematic, as Jennifer's feet are smaller than either P.J.'s or Gretchen's.
Thus P.J.'s cute pink pilgrim shoes are too big (even with putty)...
...while Stacey's lemon-yellow pumps WILL fit with putty (but not without).
Gretchen's green boots may be interesting since they're boots and not pumps.
Indeed, they fit, though I wouldn't take Jennifer out of the house without first fixing these shoes to her feet somehow.  They're quite loose and will fall off if I move Jennifer around too much.  They work for display purposes, though. 

Now, time to sum it up.

*Eyes are wonky, making Jennifer look vacant at times.
*Stiff, though not as bad as some of my other dolls.
*Dress is cheaply made
*No shoes, and very few of the shoes I do have will fit Jennifer's uniquely shaped feet.
*Fairly rare; this is the only Jennifer doll I've ever seen for sale.

*Hair, though short, is soft and manageable. 
*Clothes are appropriate for the time period.
*Face is distinctive, and yet would fit in easily with a group of Barbie's friends.
*Body, though stiff, is fairly well molded.  Some seams are a little rough, but not as bad as Katya's.
*Can wear Barbie's older clothes, but not the newer stuff.
*Cute!  I love this doll's happy face and short hair!

I really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with too much positive or negative about Jennifer.  She's your run-of-the-mill clone, cheaply made with a few hiccups in production, but like most Barbie clones she provides a fresh new face to what can at times be a monotonous dolly world.  If you're a fan of clones and love the thrill of searching, this little gal will be a good find for you.  At the very least she's a good display doll, perfect for showing off that obscure Mod-era Barbie fashion that you've been wanting to show off.  I personally would love to see this doll dressed in Twinkle Togs.

Much love,