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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

American Girl: A changing brand?

Hi, everyone! It's Talolili (Ternessa). I apologize for not posting in such a long time. I suppose the simplest reason for my absence would be life. I've had a lot happen to me in 2016. So many changes with my personal life and doll life. I want 2017 to be different for myself and I'm glad to be back! I want to start off my first post of the year about a company I've been a fan of since I was in elementary school. American Girl. I think most of us are familiar with them. They make some of the most popular 18" dolls, clothes and accessories around. After a 6+ year break I returned to the brand by purchasing their 2014 Girl Of The Year doll: Isabelle Palmer. She was a blonde and pink haired ballet dancer. I found her just adorable. Since then I've sold my Isabelle doll but I did purchase the 2016 GOTY Lea Clark as a birthday present for myself last October. She's also a cutie and I love her adorable caramel hair and hazel eyes. In short, I'm trying to say that I've been a fan of AG and I hope I will continue to be one for a long time. That brings me to the main topic of this post. American Girl's changing business strategy.

A lot has been going on with the brand starting way back in 1998 when Mattel took acquisition of the Pleasant Company. I wasn't around for the original PC run of dolls so I've always known the Mattel side of them. I have seen some of the PC fans post comments about Mattel ruining the brand and "cheapening out" but I usually just attributed most of that to them being afraid of change and/or living in the past. Things change and I understand that. Most things, especially businesses have to adjust to changing markets. Now I feel myself echoing some of the thoughts of some of those original PC doll collectors and I also understand some of their complaints.

So lately American Girl/Mattel has been making their products more widely available by selling certain lines like Truly Me and Wellie Wishers at Toys R Us and The Girl Of The Year line and Wellie Wishers at Kohl's. This was a positive move in my opinion, as I know from personal experience, not everyone can make it to a American Girl store easily and shipping fees can really add up for large purchases. My last small order from AG consisting of just a few socks and a shirt was over $8, a full doll can easily go over $20.

I was also happy to see that more children would be exposed to the dolls. So I didn't see hardly any drawbacks to expanding to select retailers. Next, we learned late last year right after the 2017 GOTY doll, Gabriela McBride (also the first GOTY doll of color!) was introduced that AG would be changing their box designs to make them easier to display the dolls and outfits/accessories. Right off the bat, backlash was everywhere. People claimed the new packaging made the products look cheap, ruined the clothes with tags and other security measures to keep the products in place and many also assumed the new packaging was to curb possible theft from retailers.

In my opinion the new packaging isn't my favorite from AG, but I usually just store the boxes in a closet so they don't really have much value or use to me. My main concern is removing the clothes safely. I've had many a Barbie or other fashion doll outfits get holes in them trying to remove them from the packaging. I was also hoping that Mattel would do everything they could to prevent this issue, but after seeing feedback from customers on the official AG website, it seems that the clothes are indeed being damaged while being removed. Reviews for Gabriela's pjs in the new packaging

Now that brings me to latest update that American Girl announced today on their Facebook page. Non removable underwear. Yes, there is no way to remove them, they're apart of the doll's main body. Now this announcement had me livid... ever since I was a kid I've always disliked painted on or any other kind of attached underwear on my dolls. It just always bugged me and made me think the companies were being cheap. After seeing pics of the new attached underwear and discussing them with my fellow doll collectors I decided to sign a petition on Change.org to get Mattel to possibly rethink their decision.

Left: Old panty design  Middle:New attached panties  Right:New panties with a swim bottom over them

I realize that a lot of people think that we fans are overreacting to the change but this is our hobby and it's very important to us. I think that Mattel also needs to listen more to their consumers. Selling the dolls at Toys R Us, Kohl's and other stores doesn't really change the main doll. Neither does the packaging. It's still an AG brand doll, but attached underwear? That just doesn't seem like something I'd ever expect from the AG brand that promotes creativity, play and imagination.

How can a child be imaginative when they can't choose their favorite color for their doll's undies or even remove them if they get dirty? American Girl stated on Facebook that one reason for the change was because customers complained that their children had trouble putting on the underwear or ended up losing them. I honestly think that is ridiculous. If the child does have trouble putting them on just give them some time, they'll get the hang of it! I'm sure of it. I had to learn, too, as we all did. And if a set gets lost, it's super easy to find replacement panties. Either directly from AG or through eBay, Amazon or other 18" doll companies.

I really hope Mattel will take customer feedback into consideration and either stop the change over to attached underwear or offer up the option of getting them attached or having them left separate from the doll. I think this would be the best way to go about it. What is your opinion? Do you think this a good decision on Mattel's part or do you not like this new design? What do you think of the other changes to the brand? Please share your views below in the comment section. I've also attached a link to the petition here: Petition Link

Thank you for reading and happy doll collecting!!!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A New Year's Eve post to keep things alive

I apologize for letting the posts on oriental dolls stall out.  Work got a little strenuous and money got extremely tight, so my focus was elsewhere.  Thus I should probably touch base with y'all before the year is out.  Christmas was medium-dull; no doll-related stuff, though I needed stuff like that like I needed a hole in the head.  I got to spend Christmas weekend with my sister and brother-in-law, so that was something.

Now a week later, it's New Year's Eve.  The Twilight Zone marathon is likely on somewhere, and other stuff on other channels, but instead I get to watch Fox News's coverage of the New Year party at Times Square.  Nothing but crap modern day musicians and adults dancing and screaming like teenagers...please shoot me.

While I suffer through Rachel Platten I'll talk about plans for the new year, now only a few hours away from us at Southeast Missouri.  After a childhood of having new year's resolutions forced upon me I don't make those, but I do like to close my eyes and go over the things that will change.  So far I can name two things for sure:
*New president
*New job location

I'm cautiously excited about the first and nervous about the second.  Midway though November my boss called me and asked me to fill a position at Holcomb, and I took her up on the offer though I was quite happy at Campbell.  We'll see how that goes.

To keep this post from being all chatter, here's Alistair in his Christmas pants.
The weather has finally gotten suitably cold, so the winter garb can come out.  As you can no doubt see, Alistair's pants have Santa Claus printed on them, straight from Sammy's Treat Shop.  Delightful Etsy store to go to if you're short on ball-jointed doll stuff.

Happy New Year,

Saturday, November 12, 2016


A few months back I had a brief obsession with Cabbage Patch Kids, which of course prompted a post here.  My obsession has cooled quite a bit, but I'll never, repeat, NEVER forget the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids and the hoopla they created with their biting jaws and inability to stop chewing.  I also reviewed another unrelated doll, Lalaloopsy Diaper Surprise Blossom Flowerpot, who could "poop charms."  Both Diaper Surprise and Snacktime Kids fall under a bizarre category of dolls and toys that would make people shake their heads and think "How did that one make it out of the design department???"  Well okay, the Snacktime Kids weren't that bad, except that they didn't have an off switch and their heads were made of hard vinyl that enabled their chewing mechanism to pinch small fingers.

To my complete surprise and disbelief, Hasbro is trying the chewing doll idea again.  Her name is Baby Alive Snackin' Sara, and her jaws move.  This doll is wrong on so many levels.  For one, she's a little on the creepy side.  None of the Baby Alive dolls will win beauty contests, but when she's not being played wit Sara apparently just sits there with a slack-jawed expression on her face.  I mean it!
With her huge eyes and languid mouth she could almost pass for a fish...or that girl on ANTM who had to pose like a fish.

Now granted, this doll does open her mouth to talk and eat, so maybe my judgement on her appearance is a little harsh.  However, I shudder to think about what her head is made out of.  If it's made out of soft vinyl, fine.  No biggie.  But if it's made out of HARD vinyl and some little kid pokes their finger too far into the doll's craw, someone's going to get hurt!  The concept is very similar to that of the Snacktime Kids.  Sara's speech is activated by squeezing her wrist, but I don't know how her chewing mech works.  Once again, if it's activated simply by poking something into the doll's mouth this could get bad.

Oh, but we're not through yet!  Oh no, if you saw the commercial then you know we're far from done.  This doll takes a page from the Diaper Surprise dolls in that she can drop a load in her pants.  Furthermore, this doll genuinely does fill her pants!  Whatever she eats will drop through her insides and come out in her diaper.  Now, this shouldn't get me hot and bothered because
A:  drink and wet dolls are nothing new,
B:  this doll is crapping out pieces of Play-Doh, not actual macerated food, and
C:  plenty of other baby dolls fill their pants nowadays.  

I guess my problem with the last part is that they show the seemingly unchewed "food" just laying there in the diaper.  The way the kid in the commercial molded the Play-Doh made it look like small, multicolored turdlets.  So I'll admit that this last part is just me being oversensitive...or is it?  I mean, I've seen baby dolls that loaded their pants in addition to just peeing, but they were those uber-realistic dolls that Zapf Creations made and apparently still makes.  I don't have an issue with dolls like Baby Born soiling their diapers because they're very lifelike.  Call me weird, but the less realistic a doll looks, the more of an issue I have with them performing tasks like filling their pants.  Snackin' Sara is definitely not a realistic doll.  She's clearly a toy, and so her diaper habits make me cringe a little.  

I know the old line, one that I've said myself:  if you don't like a doll, don't buy it.  Don't worry, I won't.  And frankly, if I had a little girl I'd be leery about getting this for her.  I can overlook the doll's fish face and her ability to crap out Play-Doh apple slices, but that chewing mech is concerning.  If this doll's head isn't made of soft vinyl or some sort of plastic, then Hasbro may have a recall in the making.  But then again, sometimes kids need to learn the hard way not to poke their fingers where they don't belong.  I certainly had to learn the hard way.  Take it from me:  never stick your fingers in places they don't belong, particularly if that place is the open mouth of your smart-aleck toddler sibling!

As a last little bit, MGA Entertainment apparently kicked their Lalaloopsy potty humor up a notch.  In addition to the Diaper Surprise dolls, they apparently also had THESE available!!!  Lord have mercy and LOL.

Much love,

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Across the other pond, part 5: random Takara doll

This one isn't going to be a review as much as it is a discussion.  I was hoping to find a red-haired Takara doll, and as you can see, I have!
She's Jenny's height, so I assumed this was one of Jenny's friends, even though none of Jenny's many compadres look like this.  None of Licca's friends look like this either, but her mother Orie does.  This doll looks like she may be a fourth generation Orie-san.  I'm not one hundred percent certain about this, and I'm not in love with the name "Orie" anyway, so I'm going to call this doll "Emiko" instead.  "Emiko" can mean a number of things depending on the kanji used, and one of the meanings is "smiling child."  Very fitting for this chipper-faced little girl!

When she came Emiko was a fixer-upper; she was naked, her hair was tangled and she had a green mark on her forearm.
I figure that green mark is there to stay, but the other two problems I was able to fix.  I neglected to get before and after pictures, but trust me!  Emiko's hair has much improved.
Dawn dish soap and hair conditioner are your friends, dolly lovers.  Just don't use leave-in conditioner; it goms up over time and then you have to wash your doll's hair again.  Just use some wash-out stuff that you can get at Dollar General; it works fine.  The Dawn-and-hair-conditioner cocktail certainly has made Emiko a cleaner, happier, dolly.  She's got a pretty face, one that's quite different from Jenny's.
Jenny has relatively flat cheeks and a close-lipped smile, while Emiko has an apple-cheeked, open-lipped grin.  She has removable earrings like Licca and Jenny do, but one appears to have been lost.
Missing earrings are the least of Emiko's problems, unfortunately.  Her neck joint appears to be crumbling.  See that?
This doesn't detract from Emiko's looks one bit, but it makes me concerned for the longevity of the joint.  It already feels loose, and when I manipulate the joint tiny fragments come flaking out.  I could stabilize this joint with Super Glue, but I'm hesitant to do that so I'll just treat that joint with respect and hope it doesn't get worse.

Oh yes, Emiko's right leg is also longer than her left leg.
In order to get her to stand I have to bend her right knee slightly.  It gives Emiko a cute stance, but she's also a little tottery on her feet, even when I prop her up.

Alrighty, so poor Emiko has a semi-broken neck and uneven legs.  Some new threads should cheer her up a bit.  I got these two dresses in a couple of days ago, and I've been looking forward to putting Emiko in one of them.  I'm just not sure which dress to try on her first!  I've got a blue one and a green one.
Decisions, decisions...oh posh, why play up my indecisiveness?  Y'all know darn good and well that I'm going to try both of these dresses on her!  Here's the blue one.
When I saw this dress I thought for a few minutes that I'd been sent an Easter Charm Barbie dress.  That turned out not to be the case, but the likeness is uncanny.

Now here's the green dress.
I don't like this one as well.  It's loose around the neck and constantly wants to slip down.  The material also looks like it won't wear well.  That color, though!  It's no secret by now that I love green, and I especially love green on redheads.  Unfortunately, this does not look good on Emiko.  She doesn't have enough up top to keep the dress in place.  I'll probably try this dress on one of my more buxom redheads.

Speaking of buxom redheads, I've got an old Quick Curl Kelley dress that I'm curious about.
Kelley was Barbie's size so I wasn't expecting this dress to fit Emiko, but surprise, surprise, it fits quite nicely.  It fits across the chest with no bagging, and the snaps close with no fuss.

Just for grins, I tried an old Diva Starz outfit on Emiko.  The results are great.
I had this planned for a Throwback Thursday post, but since the Diva Starz doll I wanted got bought by someone else I thought I'd keep the outfit for someone else.  It's too small for older Barbies, and the shoes don't fit modern-day Barbie feet.  The shoes go on in an unconventional way, by the way.  Instead of slipping on like Barbie shoes or fitting onto pegs like Bratz shoes, Diva Starz shoes open up like this.
To put these on you simply put the doll's foot inside the shoe, then close the heel over the foot like a clamshell.  It's not a bad idea, but it doesn't lend itself readily to my dolls' feet.  I had no reason to think that Emiko would be any different, but due to my aforementioned fondness for redheads in green I tried the ensemble anyway.  The result is an almost-perfect fit.  I say almost because the pants are a little tight and hard to get over Emiko's rubbery legs.  Otherwise this is a great combo.  The shoes fit wonderfully, and if I bend Emiko's knees a little she can even stand without help!  So if you have dolls with a body like Emiko's or Jenny's, you might want to jump on eBay and look for some old Diva Starz clothes.  Make sure they're honest-to-God fabric clothes, because the snap-on dresses will only fit the Diva Star that they're designed for.

I'm also going to try on an outfit that I was unable to do with Jenny.  I have found the lost Teen Skipper snow suit.
This is Fashion Avenue outfit #26989, better known as "Techno Ski."  It comes with a hat, but I knew the hat wouldn't fit over Emiko's ponytail so you won't get to see her in that.  I have no doubts that the hat will fit if I change the hairstyle, though.  The slacks are like the Diva Starz pants; they fit once they're on, but getting them on is a teensy bit difficult.  The shirt, by contrast, is a bit loose around the chest, and the shoes fit fine.  I was a little concerned about the shoes; since they're close-toed I was expecting them to be too tight.  Luckily I was wrong!

I've only had Emiko a short time, but she's already become one of my favorite dollies.  I love her face, and I love her smile.  She's got Licca's charm on Jenny's body, making her very versatile.  She's cute like Licca, and she can share clothes with Jenny (and Skipper and Starr too, for that matter).  These things negate her few flaws and make her worth the money and time I spent to get her presentable.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Across the other pond, part 4: Jenny review

I was hoping to get all these reviews done before Election Day, but at the rate I'm going I'll be lucky if I get this one up ON Election Day!  Lord have mercy, I am so ready for this election to be over!  I know who I want to win, I know most likely WILL win, and let me just say that the two don't match.  Negativity purged, it's time for my third Japanese doll.  From Etsy and eBay come two examples of another Takara doll named Jenny.  The doll on the left is from the same Etsy shop that sent me my Licca, and the one on the right is from eBay.  Neither of them were dressed like this when they got here, by the way.
They LOOK exactly the same, but I can tell them apart because the Etsy doll has a squishy head.  The eBay doll's head is more firm.  I remember playing that same game with my Barbies when I was small; some had soft heads and some had hard heads.  I liked soft heads better for some strange reason.  I was a weird little kid.

Jenny, from what I understand, never caught on quite like Licca-chan did.  That surprised me at first because she's got a very interesting history, with roots that go back to...BARBIE???  Yep, Barbie.  Jenny doesn't really look the type, does she?
According to this site, Barbie didn't sell well in Japan.  Mattel and Takara collaborated to make Barbie more appealing to the Japanese, who by that time were quite used to Licca's cartoonish cuteness.  After the collaboration ended, Mattel moved on to a similar venture with Bandai (creating those uber-cutesy Ma-Ba Barbie dolls), while Takara renamed their doll "Jenny."  The same site explains how the doll got the name Jenny instead of something Japanese.

Since they are both Takara dolls, Jenny and Licca are very similar.  However, they are also different in several crucial ways.  Their faces are highly different.
Both dolls have big eyes and closed smiles, but Jenny has flatter cheeks and a narrower chin and nose.  I'm not going to lie about my preference.  Jenny is cute, but I like Licca fuller facial features better.

Jenny is taller than Licca by about an inch, and shorter than a nineties-era Barbie by about half an inch.  (FYI:  I took the picture below before I bought Jenny any shoes.  LOL)
Like Licca, Jenny is a blonde.  
It's a different shade from Licca's, albeit slightly.
Jenny's hair is a shade of blonde that I'd call "ash blonde."  It's a smidge darker than Licca's, and very similar to the ash blonde hair found on old Twist 'n' Turn Barbie dolls.  Both of my Jenny dolls wear their hair loose with bangs, though I have seen a few dolls with other styles.  One of my girls has a fair amount of flyaway hairs which is annoying, but it's not a huge problem.  Neither of my Jenny dolls have thinning hair like Licca did, by the way.

During my searches online I saw a lot of dolls that were labeled "Licca/Jenny," suggesting that I'm not the only one who's had trouble differentiating the two in the past.  When placed together it's easy to see the height difference between the two dolls, but when an eBay post only has a head shot things get a little tricky.  Eyes are the easiest way to tell these two apart.  Remember from my last post how Licca's eyes are round and to the side?  Jenny's are neither of those.  Or my Jenny's eyes aren't.
I've since learned that newer Jenny dolls have rounded eyes like Licca's, but my Jenny has centered brown eyes that slant downwards.  She has long eyelashes and appears to be wearing some fairly heavy eyeliner.  Like Licca, her eyes have three reflective spots, two white and one blue.  I'm particularly glad that these Japanese dolls have those spots painted in their eyes, as they'd look terribly blank without them!

Also like Licca, Jenny has small, pink lips in a closed smile.
I like Jenny's lip color better than Licca's.  It looks more like...well, like everyday street makeup!  I like Licca's smile better, though.  I also like Licca's paint job better; Jenny looks like she's been wearing her lipstick all day and hasn't bothered with a touch-up.

Both my Jenny dolls have pierced ears.
Unlike most Barbie dolls (and again, like Licca), Jenny's earrings can come out and be switched around.  Neither of my dolls have their original earrings; both pairs belong to outfits that I bought separately.  This is a cute little touch, but I wonder if these dolls ever have problems with green ears like vintage Barbie dolls do?  My two pairs of earrings are made of metal, after all...or they feel like metal.  I don't know if Jenny dolls have this problem, but it might be best to play it safe and coat these earrings with Super Glue.

Like Licca, Jenny came with a ballgown that I don't think is original to her.
It's made out of soft black material that has nice drape.  The waist is trimmed with a silver sateen bow.
The chest is trimmed with this faux mother-of-pearl button and by this gold loopy trim.
The loopy trim extends over the shoulders and down the back.
The sleeves (yes, this dress has sleeves) are trimmed with black lace...
...as is the hem of the skirt.
The sides and back of the skirt are spangled with spots of gold glitter.
It's a beautiful dress.  Mama and I are both ga-ga over it.  I like Jenny's gown way better than I like Licca's.  Both gowns are put together nicely and fit the dolls well, but Jenny's gown doesn't make annoying noises when it's manipulated, and the fabric has much better drape.  Jenny didn't come with shoes, which is a shame.  I had to hustle around and find some shoes that go with everything...and I'm still searching for the perfect ones.

Underneath her clothes Jenny has a body that is similar to Licca's, but on a different scale.
Jenny has longer limbs and surprisingly, a bust that is less defined.  Given Jenny's height I would've assumed she'd look more...well, more "womanly" than Licca, but that's not the case.  Jenny is jointed the same way Licca is, with swiveling hips, shoulders, waist, and neck.  Her knees bend with internal wires, like so.
Since Jenny's legs are longer than Licca's, she can cross her legs at the knee.  Licca can only cross her legs at the ankle.
I think Jenny's arms are supposed to bend too, but the eBay doll's arms are worn out.  I've also learned since Licca's review that her left arm is worn out as well.  Still, my particular doll can do more than the eBay Jenny can.
Strangely, though eBay Jenny has a waist joint, she can't twist at the waist.  My Licca can.
To give Jenny's whole doll line a fair assessment I looked at the doll I got from Etsy too.  Her elbows both bend and her waist twists.  She moves in every way that Licca can, so it would be fair to assume that most Jenny dolls can.
Jenny clothes are not as easy to find as Licca clothes, though there are some options on eBay.  I've heard and read that Teen Skipper clothes could work, and while digging through my multiple boxes of doll clothes I found some more things that were designed for slim fashion dolls.  So I had a little fun and tried out multiple pieces.  These first two dresses are both Barbie Fashionista dresses.
The flowered dress on the left is a little big around Jenny's waist, and the periwinkle dress is big around her shoulders.  In both cases the fit is good enough that I'd put the doll in them again.  Just keep in mind that modern-day Barbie clothes do fit Jenny and her like-sized friends, but the fit isn't always 100% spot on.  

This next outfit is a stock outfit belonging to a Mattel Starr doll.
Well okay, it's not Starr's outfit, but it DOES belong to one of her friends.  This particular outfit belonged to Kelley, but as usual I digress.  Kelley is wearing the shoes from this outfit so I couldn't try those on Jenny, but the rest of the outfit fits just fine.  The sleeves are a little too long, but that's nothing I can't remedy by simply pushing up the cuffs.  I have some more Starr clothes, but surprise, surprise, my Starr dolls are wearing those.  I'll have to dig them out and see how Jenny looks in Starr's other frocks...and vice versa.  For now I'm cautiously saying that Jenny can wear Starr's duds, but good luck finding any because Starr's been out of production for thirty years!

This next outfit is a pair of mismatched pieces with uncertain origins.
The pants are tagged "Barbie" but look too slim to be Barbie's, and I'm completely clueless about the jacket.  I do know that the jacket was clearly intended to be worn over something; maybe it goes with Kelley's outfit???  Stock photos do show a red vest, but I don't think this is the red vest in question.  The pieces fit Jenny nicely, and the jacket even has a built-in scarf to tie closed over the open part.  Still, I'll definitely need some sort of blouse to go under that jacket before Jenny wears it again.  The whole shebang does fit, though.

Next is the dress that I was most curious about, and another one that you saw above.  This dress belongs to Totally Yo-Yo Skipper.
This dress is made out of a soft, stretchy knit so it glides easily over Jenny's curves.  It's a little big around the waist, but nothing that is super-obvious.  The shoes originally went with Skipper's extra outfit (Totally Yo-Yo Skipper came with two dresses) and they fit Jenny like they were meant for her.  I don't have much else for Teen Skipper, but buried somewhere in my box of stuff is a snow suit.  The pants do not stretch, the shoes are not open-toed, and I'm dying to dig it out and try it on Jenny.  I have another Takara doll on her way that's Jenny's size, so if I can find the snow suit I'll put it on the new doll.  Stay tuned!

I've also got this Bandai Barbie dress.  
You may have figured out from the first photograph in the post that this fits Jenny, but I doubt you knew it wasn't a Jenny dress.  Well...maybe technically it is.  Bandai Barbie and Jenny are both derived from the same doll (Takara Barbie), so maybe one could consider the two related.  Either way this dress fits Jenny like it was made for her.  The sleeves are a little big around the cuffs, but nothing anyone would notice.  It's a VERY nice product, too.  It's nice enough that I'd like to find some more Bandai doll dresses and see if they're as nice.

Now guess what time it is???  It's good stuff/bad stuff time!

*Strictly my opinion, but Jenny's not quite as cute as Licca.  Maybe that's why she's not as popular with the Japanese.
*Stock outfits are not as easy to find for Jenny as they are for Licca.
*The makeup's not great on my particular dolls.  Both have lipstick that looks worn, though it's fine from a distance.

*Similar in size to Barbie, meaning that they can share some clothes
*Hair is intact, unlike my poor Licca's hair
*Can wear clothes from other dolls besides Barbie
*Can move in a couple of ways that Licca cannot
*While maybe not as cute as Licca, Jenny still projects an image of sweetness and innocence.  She looks friendly and approachable, just like Licca does.

When Jenny first arrived in the mail I was afraid I wouldn't like her.  She's definitely a nice little doll, but she lacks Licca's round-eyed, round-cheeked charm.  As time went by I grew to like Jenny quite a bit, but I didn't fall in love with her all the way until I started playing around with clothes.  She can wear so many things, and her anime-style face adds a whole new spin on my old Skipper threads.  She can wear things that Licca cannot, making her much more versatile.  And due to her height she fits in a little better with Barbie.  In short I can't say I'm sorry for bringing Takara's red-headed stepchild home.  She's proven to be a delightful doll, a superb companion for both Licca and Barbie, and a nice intermediate between the two.  Jenny is a must-have for anyone who likes foreign fashion dolls.

See you soon,

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Across the other pond, part 3: Licca-chan review

When I ordered Mami, I originally thought I was getting a Licca-chan doll instead.  Licca-chan has been around since 1967, much to my surprise.  I had no idea she existed until Doll Reader ran an article about her during my teenage years.  Doll Reader was good about that, about running articles on dolls that weren't widely available stateside.  Unfortunately it made me want almost every single one that they talked about!  Licca isn't particularly hard to obtain, but one has to know where to look and unfortunately for me, the only places I know where to look are eBay and Etsy.  Etsy happened to have this 1980's fourth-generation doll available for a Hamilton, so I grabbed her.
From what I've read, Licca Kayama is supposed to be an eleven-year-old girl of mixed heritage.  Her father is apparently French and her mother is Japanese.  Licca has a wide range of hobbies and these hobbies have changed over the years, but reading has remained a particular favorite.  As Licca dolls go, this one's pretty average.  I've seen these with pink hair, or dolled up in cosplay, or wearing traditional gear like a happi coat or a kimono, so compared to them this doll is pretty ordinary.  She's blonde like Mami, but her hair is a very, VERY different shade.
I'd call that shade honey blonde, a shade I see more often on vintage toys.  It's possible to find Licca dolls with pale blonde or strawberry blonde hair, and brunettes are common as well.  One of my favorites is a little brunette, in fact!  So Licca is not stuck in a one-hair-color-rut like most modern-day Barbies are.  My Licca's hair is shoulder-length and feels a little waxy, even after washing.  I'm not sure what sort of style she had once, but her hair refuses to lie straight so I brushed it into a curl like this.  It holds this style without any problems.
She's got simple, natural-looking bangs up front.  Some of the bangs want to stick up, much to my chagrin, but I've managed to get them to behave for now.
Licca's hair is a little thin in places, unfortunately.  I think it may be the way it's rooted around the front.
I ordered this Licca secondhand so I was not surprised to find her hair in less than pristine condition.  But truthfully, I didn't buy this doll for her hair.  I wanted her for her cute little face!
The Asian aesthetic is strong in Licca.  Her eyes are large, round, and glancing to the side like an old-fashioned Barbie's eyes.  They are gray-blue with very large pupils.  The pupils have three light flecks in them, two white and one red.  I personally am glad for these, as Licca's eyes would've looked a little vacant without them.  Also present are light brown eyelashes that look a little like the rays of a cartoon sun.  Her eyebrows are high, cheerful, single-stroke lines that add to the childlike look of this doll.

Licca-chan's profile is more...well, I guess you could say it's more human than Mami's.  I only comment on this because the two dolls are so different.
Mami has flat cheeks and a small, pointed nose typical of creatures in the anime world that she comes from.  Licca-chan has a button nose and rounded cheeks.  She has a small, smiling mouth with coral-pink lipstick.
Normally I don't like lips that are too pink, but I love this shade.  Maybe it could've done with a little shimmer, but it's not bad.  Oh yes, let's look quickly at Licca's earrings.
They're small white plastic flowers that come out with a reasonable amount of force.  The posts have small knobs at the ends to help anchor them in..  I love the simplicity of these!  If you look closely you can see that they're mismatched; the right earring has four petals, while the left one has six.

I'll get to Licca's gown very shortly, but I do want to make some brief comments on her body.  I say brief because Mami and Licca do indeed share a body...sort of.  The two have slightly different measurements across the shoulders and hips, and Mami's arms appear to be longer.
The vinyl differs quite a bit in color too; Mami is ghostly pale, while Licca is healthily pink.  The two bodies move in the same way, having internal wires at the knees and elbows (her elbows are VERY hard to bend), and regular swivel joints at the shoulders, hips, and waist.  The only difference is in the neck.  Mami can tip her head ever so slightly from side to side, while Licca only has swiveling motion.
Mami threatened both Licca and me with a very painful death if I didn't put her back in her clothes for that picture, so I dressed Licca back up too.  Licca came wearing this pink ballgown.  I have no idea if it's original to her or not, but it fits nicely.
The dress is tagged.  I can't read the tag, but as luck would have it, I don't need to.  There's no mistaking that Takara logo.
Regardless of the maker, this is a very cute dress.  It's a lovely shade of iridescent pink.  The skirt is unhemmed, but the material is the kind that doesn't need to be hemmed anyway.  The skirt has a tulle peplum that adds some nice fullness.  The tulle is cut in a zig-zag pattern along the hem.
The waist is decorated with a large silver star and a gauzy white bow.  The edges of the bow could use a little Fray Stop.
The top is trimmed with loopy silver edging and a silver ribbon that ties halter-style around Licca's neck.
The back Velcros closed, which I don't love because it catches the tulle peplum like mad.  Overall it's a nice little dress that fits Licca well.  Unfortunately, the material makes a hideously annoying crackling sound when manipulated.  It's not unlike the sound those ugly windbreaker suits used to make.  So I took the pink dress off Licca and put Mami's yellow dress on.
It doesn't fit Licca any better than it does Mami, but the bodice has stripes that match Licca's shoes so this is what she wears for now.  Oh yes, those shoes.  Licca came with them.
I'm in love with these little shoes.  They're plain red vinyl mary-janes, but they're so much fun to play with!  I love the way they feel, and I love how they fit!

I think that's about all I can say about this young lady, so let's wrap it up!

*Hair is thinning in places
*Hair feels stiff
*Arms don't bend easily
*Can't tip her head; can only swivel

*Cute face
*Hair holds its style
*Shoes go on and stay on; aren't constantly falling off
*Joints hold a pose; the elbows are stiff, but once I get them bent they stay put.
*Feels sturdy
*Provides a nice contrast for Barbie
*Can wear Blythe clothes

Overall I'm exceedingly pleased with my secondhand Licca; she's a sturdy, cute little doll with a sweet face.  Her wired arms and legs still hold a pose for now, though I'm going to be extremely careful with them to make sure they stay that way.  Her face is innocent instead of seductive or flirtatious, and it's easy to find clothes for her.  I can see why the Japanese love Licca, because she's adorable, kid-friendly, and easy to dress.  She's made me a fan!  In short, I recommend Licca-chan to anyone who likes Barbie and similar-sized dolls.  She'll fit in nicely with modern-day Skipper and Stacie dolls.

Unsurprisingly I'm not the only blogger that owns a Licca-chan doll.  For more info on this doll, and to get an idea of some other buying options, check out this post by Miss Emily and this post by beastsbelle.  Miss Hannah has a charming story behind her love for Japanese dolls.

Yours truly