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Sunday, December 10, 2017

One of my Barbie dolls gets kawaii...sort of

Talolili is more of the kawaii expert than I am, but I know enough to piece together an outfit that would fit the label.  For the uninitiated, kawaii is...well, it's actually a culture in Japan that has made its way to the west.  It celebrates all that is cutesy and childlike, stuff like Hello Kitty and various types of anime.  Pastels make a lot of appearances, as do personified inanimate objects like candies, rainbows, clouds, stars, and hearts.  Usually when Americans like myself dabble in kawaii it's in wearables or home decor; I personally like adding kawaii touches to my daily wear with earrings and the like, for example (these cotton candy earrings on Etsy are to die for).  But if you're a dolly lover (and if you're reading this, you probably are) it's also possible to have one or two or a whole slew of dolls that wear kawaii fashion or are a little kawaii themselves.  My little Pepper Parson is a good example, as she's cute and wears clothes that fit the aesthetic.  The clothes shown are the Kuu Kuu Harajuku clothes, which I reviewed here and here; that line is very, VERY kawaii!
Every so often I run into a doll that just screams "kawaii," but isn't dressed the part.  Such is the case with one of my Fashionistas, Suika.
Suika is Fashionistas #60 "Patchwork Denim," with a new head, an original body, and melon-colored hair.  Indeed, the name "Suika" is actually the Japanese word for "watermelon."  This doll's pink hair and soft makeup just begged for some cute little kawaii-style outfit, and while her dress itself does not fall into the style it can be gussied up with some accessories.  Suika's belt and bracelet, seen below, help spice up this outfit a bit, and the butterfly on the belt adds a touch of kawaii.  As a bonus, these accessories match Suika's hair almost perfectly.
I wasn't fully satisfied with that getup, so today when I went out (had to fetch cat food) I picked up a few more Hello Kitty separates, consisting of two tops and a skirt.  One top is a pink spaghetti-strap crop top with clothing items, milk jugs, and Hello Kitty (of course) printed on it, and the other is a less-fitted periwinkle blouse with the Little Twin Stars seated atop a rainbow.  
Both shirts coordinate with the pink skirt, but I don't like the way the periwinkle shirt fits Suika's body.  I think it may look better on a curvy or a tall doll, but of course I neglected to photograph that!  Dumb of me too, because I have two curvy dolls and three tall ones within arm's reach.

With Suika sufficiently kawaii-ized, I let her joint Deb, Ami, and Melody for a group photo.
Not bad at all!  I can't tell y'all how tickled I am that Mattel started making these Hello Kitty clothes, and I hope that more will be made.  So far the only characters featured on these outfits have been Hello Kitty, My Melody, and the Little Twin Stars, and no sign of Chococat despite him being on the packaging.  But seeing the Little Twin Stars on one of these tops makes me hopeful that other characters will start making appearances.  I'm still hoping for Keroppi, since I love frogs and the color green, and Badtz Maru and Chococat would make superb Ken clothes, but only time will tell what crops up.

Much Love, 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Cameo Newborn Miss Peep

This week looks to be as long as the last one, but it got off to a more pleasant start.  Coworker A and I are getting along much better (balancing the library's bank account together appears to have been a bonding experience) and while I'll be working six days a week again it looks right now like I'll get Monday off like I normally do.  During my spare time at the library I've been catching up on some of the juvie lit that I either eschewed or completely missed out on during my adolescence.  Harry Potter is okay, but J. K. Rowling's writing just isn't drawing me in like Rick Riordan's did.  Harry lacks Percy Jackson's sharp tongue and quick-witted commentary, and there are some times when Harry is so darn good that he makes me want to retch.  And yet in all this I noticed one unusual similarity:  both Harry and Percy have dark hair and green eyes.  Go figure on that one; I don't know if that was a deliberate move on the part of one of the authors or if it was just a coincidence.

Now to the review.  I've reviewed some special dolls during my stint with this blog, but I daresay that this doll is the most special of them all.  She may even outdo Kissy, which is quite a feat considering how much my mother loves Kissy.  She loved this doll too though, so much that her original doll wore out and had to be thrown away.  What a shame that Mama and Grandma and Great-Grandma didn't know of the great doll hospitals that would exist in the future, as they could've saved Mama's doll in a box and gotten her repaired.  But that's the way life goes; we don't always get to keep our childhood toys.  They break, they get lost in fires or other calamities, they get donated or passed on as hand-me-downs, they get loved so much that they wear out.  Luckily, this doll is not as obscure as I thought she was, and I was able to find a nice one on eBay.  Her full name is Newborn Miss Peep, but in my family she's always been called "Baby Peep."  For the sake of this review I'll be referring to her simply as "Peep."
Cameo is a toy company that I know next to nothing about, aside from their production of Kewpie dolls.  They also produced another baby doll named Baby Wendy, but she apparently was nothing more than a Miss Peep redesign.  I've never been a huge fan of Kewpie, so thank goodness that neither Baby Wendy nor Baby Peep look like Kewpie.  To me Peep looks like a vinyl version of Bye-Lo Baby, or maybe Ideal's Bonnie Baby.  She's a relatively small baby doll, being a little smaller than Pussycat and Kathy Cry Baby.
For grins, here's how she compares to my 23-inch My Twinn, Rael.  I think Peep might be able to sit in Rael's lap if I posed both dolls just so.
So yeah, Peep is one of my smaller babies.  Despite being the same size as the Alexander duo, she differs from them in a few crucial ways.  Firstly, her hair is molded instead of rooted.
I prefer baby dolls with molded hair, actually.  Kathy and Pussycat have nice hair, but their full heads imply that they're a little further down the road developmentally, more towards the toddler stage than the baby stage.  Peep's short, molded locks do more to project the "baby" image, closely resembling the fine, wispy hair that young babies have.  The hair is painted a soft brown shade and has a few rubs and scuffs here and there, probably due to age.  The back of Peep's head has a few molded fat rolls, plus the Cameo mark.
Check out her realistic ears!
Now to the face.
LOL, I absolutely LOVE this face!  My sister often wore an expression like this when she was small, and I probably did too.  While Kathy Cry is an obvious doll, Peep looks very much like a small but real baby.  Granted, she's not as realistic as a reborn, but few dolls do reach that level of realism.  Anyway, Peep's appropriately pale eyes are ringed with creases of baby fat on the side and bottom, and with delicately drawn eyelashes and eyebrows.  The eyebrows give her a teensy bit of attitude, the kind that suggests this baby would throw a full-tilt tantrum if placed in a pumpkin seat (like my sister and I both did when we were babies).
Her eyes are inset and have a thin line of eyelashes painted in, and they are ever so slightly wonky.  To my great surprise these eyes do not "sleep."  Compare that to Pussycat and Kathy Cry Baby, both of whom have eyes that sleep.
Peep's tight-lipped mouth also suggests a bit of stubbornness.  I like Peep's lip paint better than I do either Kathy's or Pussycat's though, as it looks more natural and less like...well, less like paint!
It's obvious from this mouth that Peep is NOT a drink-and-wet doll, though she could have been easily since her body is all vinyl.
Rather odd, that vinyl body.  Mama distinctly remembers her Baby Peep having a cloth body; indeed, it was the cloth body that eventually wore out.  Great Grandma patched the doll until she gently told Mama there was nothing more she could do.  Anywho, my Peep has a vinyl body, and she possesses the most unusual joints I've ever seen on a doll.  I think these are called "pin joints," and I've never owned a doll with joints like this.  They have a post that provides rotating action, but they also are hinged, like so.
These unusual joints allow Peep to strike some realistic poses, like this one.  When she's clothed this pose looks like she's reaching out to be held...
...but the joints also allow for some more unnatural poses, like these.  See how strange Peep's arms are in this picture, when they're in what I call a "resting" sort of position?
I don't mind unnatural positions too terribly since Peep's clothes tend to disguise them to a certain degree.  Unfortunately these joints also feel fragile, like they'll break or tear if I push them in the wrong direction.  Indeed, I already have tried to turn Peep's arms in the wrong direction, so accustomed am I to flange joints like Kathy Cry Baby's and strung joints like an American Girl's.  This confusion is confounded by the fact that I almost always have Peep dressed and thus have to feel where the joints are before trying to bend them.  I've avoided damage so far, and I hope to keep it that way.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Peep's hip joints only hinge.  They do not pivot.
Also noteworthy is Peep's neck.  It mostly just turns from side to side...
...but it also lolls around like a real baby's neck does.  I can't show this effectively, but the motion is enough to make me support this doll's head when I move her.  I don't have to do that with any, repeat, ANY of my other baby dolls.

Joints alone make Peep's body rather interesting, but the molding is unusual as well.  Her torso is cylindrical and has practically no molding at all.  No bellybutton, no fat rolls, just a few creases around the neck.  A pretty far cry from Kathy's molding, I must say!  Also a far cry from these two babies, whom Miss Emily calls shar-pei babies!
Even her backside has next to no definition.  It looks like a loaf of bread.
Like Pussycat and Kathy Cry Baby, Peep has the ability to cry.  Her mechanism is similar to that of Kathy's, in that she has a whistle in her back that is activated by squeezing.
Interestingly, Peep also has a whistle on the inside of each arm!
These whistles are activated by squeezing, and they make the least realistic sound yet.  When I squeeze Peep's chest she sounds (I kid you not) like a rubber dog toy.  Peep's arms do not whistle at all, as the vinyl there has stiffened too much to squeeze.

Now to my favorite part of a doll, the clothes.  Well okay, eyes are actually my favorite part of a doll, but clothes are what adds play value.  Peep is wearing a style that we don't often see on babies anymore, the long gown and bonnet set.
This outfit looks like a christening gown, but it's printed with tiny...roses or strawberries.  I think they're roses, but for some dumb reason I keep wanting to say strawberries...so from now on I'll call them RO-BERRIES!!!
I love strawberries on doll clothes, but roses are nice too.  The front of this...nightie or gown or whatever is trimmed with a single band of lace and a pale pink satin bow.  The bow is showing its age, as satin loves to do.
The armhole is trimmed with a single string of lace...
...as is the collar.
The bottom hem also has lace, but it is trimmed with three rows instead of one.
In a reversal of Pussycat's nightie, Peep's dress closes in the back with three little buttons.
So far I haven't reviewed any babies with bonnets, though that used to be commonplace attire for little ones.  Here's Peep's bonnet.  It's trimmed with two bands of lace and is made out of ro-berry fabric just like the gown is.
Like all good bonnets, this one ties under the chin with two pink satin ribbons.
Like a good many satin ribbons, these are showing wear at the ends.  Nothing much, but enough that I want to be careful with.

Seams are hit-and-miss with these clothes.  The hem of the gown is finished well...
...but the interior seams of the bonnet are ragged with loose threads hanging off.
Furthermore, this fabric feels suspiciously like the type that will thin out and tear if it ages, so I'll be treating these clothes with care.

I have absolutely zero experience with Baby Peep aside from this review and what Mama has told me, so I don't know what sort of clothes she can wear.  Miss Emily's dolls Lucas and Lila give me some ideas since they're small like Peep is, but I don't have any of those clothes yet, and I don't even know if they'd fit!  So it's time for good stuff/bad stuff now, and even though there isn't much to say about Peep (just like the past two babies), I do have some cautions that I'd like to throw in.

*This doll possesses an unusual set of joints that must be moved and treated with care.  I don't think this doll will easily break, but better safe than sorry.
*Clothes feel a little fragile
*Can't wear any of my other dolls' clothes, as far as I know.

*Very realistic for a baby doll.  This one has been the most "babyish" of all the baby dolls I've reviewed so far.
*Vinyl feels sturdy, unlike the cloth-bodied doll of my mother's childhood.
*Face conveys some personality rather than being generically cute
*No hair to mess up!

I had to nitpick here to come up with good and bad stuff again, because Peep is...well, she's another baby doll!  There isn't much to baby dolls, so it's hard to do anything super-exciting or terribly wrong-headed with them.  If I wanted to take five points from Gryffindor over anything it would be those joints, as they're quirky and require some special attention so the owner won't twist them in the wrong direction.  Other than that Miss Peep is a delightful little doll to own, though I have to admit that a lot of that delight came from showing Mama and Grandma that I'd found a long-lost friend.  Still, it's nice to see this slightly stubborn child breaking up the generically sweet monotony of my other baby dolls.

Remember Pearl Harbor,

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Madame Alexander Pussycat

It's been a long, tiring, busy week, longer than I'm accustomed to.  The husband of Coworker B (the same one with the composition baby and the Inuit doll) suddenly died and I had to work on Monday...on three and a half hours of sleep.  I'm so used to having Monday off that I've taken to staying up until stupid 'o-clock, and this past Monday that proved to be a mistake because I had to get up at seven-thirty.  Won't make that mistake again!  Add to that the fact that I've had to work with Coworker A most of the week, and Coworker A has used this situation as an opportunity to make a lot of backhanded comments about my lack of a driver's license and my "screwed-up priorities" and this and that.  I've been sorely tempted to tell her to jump off a cliff, but I'm trying to be adult about this.  There are times though when I think I'm back in high school, with the way those two women carry on (yes, Coworker B can be just as bad).

Good thing I had this review thrown together a week in advance!  All I had to do was tweak the intro and it was ready!  Anyway, I've already reviewed one Madame Alexander baby, so why not do the other?  This one is pushing the Throwback Thursday label a little since I think Madame Alexander is still making Pussycat, but oh well, my post, my rules.  Here's my little Pussycat.
Yes, her name is Pussycat, or Pussy Cat with a space; I've seen both spellings.  In today's age of filthy-minded fools a name like "Pussycat" is rather unfortunate, but when I say the name I think of the old nursery rhyme:

Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?
I've been to London, to visit the Queen.
Pussycat, Pussycat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair.  

I may be thirty but I never get sick of nursery rhymes!  By the way, I wonder if Queen Elizabeth is afraid of mice???  I know she's not the queen in the rhyme, but I still can't help wondering, given the fact that so many people are afraid of mice (my mother hates them, for example).  Anyway, like many of my other dolls, Pussycat has a fond memory attached to her.  Five years ago I was stricken with a kidney stone (which I don't think I ever passed), and after I was out of the hospital and done tripping on morphine I went shopping with Mama.  For some reason Mama was in the mood to spoil me some, and one of the things she bought for me was Pussycat, a doll that I'd vocalized a fondness for.  The doll I really wanted was called Pretty in Periwinkle, but beggars cannot be choosers.  These dolls can apparently come a few different sizes, with my particular Pussycat being fourteen inches long, roughly the same size as Kathy Cry Baby.
As always, let's start with hair.  Hair varies a lot with Pussycat, both in color and in style.  Indeed, I've seen dolls with bobs, topknots, ringlets, buns like Pretty in Periwinkle's, and several styles of pigtail (examples here and here), in all shades of blonde, brown, red, or black.  My particular doll has flipped baby blonde hair, and the fibers are stiff like Kathy's.
The hair is clean and shiny, AND I found this doll mint-in-box, so I think the stiffness may be related largely to the type of fiber used rather than any sort of aging.  The style is a little out of this baby's age bracket, but it's easy to brush and put back into said style.  It's also easy to tousle if I want Pussycat to look like I just got her up from a nap.  Remember that no baby's hair lies flat during the course of a nap...or playtime either, for that matter.  Sometimes a baby's hair has a mind of its own no matter what one does to it!  This effect is easy to replicate with Pussycat.
Now to the face.  Remember when I said that Kathy Cry Dolly looked more "dolly" than "baby"?  Pussycat has a definite "baby" look about her.  See?
Pussycat's pale blue sleep eyes are squinty and sleepy, and while they are a little dusty they're thankfully not discolored like poor Kathy's are.  She has painted eyebrows and painted and rooted lashes.  Her eyebrows are relaxed, giving this doll a content expression. 
There is one unusual thing about Pussycat's eyes:  the pupils are not colored in.  Due to this plus the reflective properties of this particular plastic, Pussycat's eyes are prone to catching light and shining like a tapetum lucidum.  A tapetum lucidum is a feature in the back of some animals' eyes that contributes to eyeshine.  I make note of this because humans lack a tapetum lucidum; we have only blood vessels, hence our penchant to have red eyes in poorly lit pictures.  Our eyes only shine with some other color when we're afflicted with cataracts...or worse, cancer.  Thus why Pussycat's eyes are so unusual.  In spite of this I find it fitting that a doll named Pussycat would have eyeshine, as eyeshine is most commonly seen in cats with green, orange, or yellow eyes.  For example, my Lily (left) has yellow eyes, and her mother Callie's are green.  Notice that their eyeshine is different as well; Lily's yellow eyes throw a yellow light back, while Callie's green eyes throw back a blue-white glow.
Blue-eyed cats lack a tapetum lucidum, and thus when one views an odd-eyed cat's eyeshine the results are striking.

Alrighty, enough with the science lesson!  All Pussycat babies have closed mouths and rosy apple cheeks, but lip paint can vary some.  Pretty in Periwinkle had brick-colored lips, and my doll's mouth is light pink.  I think the closed mouth is a little unusual for reasons that'll soon discuss, but it's very nicely shaped, with a little philtrum and a slight pucker.
This head is made of fairly soft vinyl and is marked on the neck, just like Kathy's.
I admit that when I first got this doll I thought the 1977 copyright meant this doll was from 1977.  Wrong answer.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to jail.  That's a mistake that newbie and novice collectors make, not someone who's been in the hobby since childhood.  Furthermore, it turns out that 1977 isn't even the year that these dolls began production since some Pussycats date back to 1971 or earlier.  So I know that my particular doll is not as old as some Pussycats, but she could very well date from sometime during the eighties and thus be about my age.  That's old enough for a doll.

Now to the body.  Pussycat differs radically from Kathy Cry Baby in the body department, as she has a cloth body with vinyl limbs rather than an all-vinyl body.
The torso is made of pink...I'm not sure what that fabric is, but it's soft and fairly strong.  Pussycat is stuffed well enough to sit up if propped up, but she does flop around quite a bit.  The up-side of this is that Pussycat can achieve poses that Kathy could not.
<show her leaning to one side>
The down-side is that I have very little control over how Pussycat is posed.  Her head does not turn, and her arms are always in the same raised position.  That's not too bad though, since she looks like she's reaching to be picked up, as a well-cared-for baby will do.  Pussycat's hands are more dynamic than Kathy's are, by the way, though they are no more or less well-molded.  The left hand is in a clenched fist...
...while the right hand is half-open and appears to be pointing at something.
Pussycat's right thumb is extended and would be great for a thumb-sucking pose, but alas, her mouth is not open.  I don't have a single baby doll that CAN suck its thumb, in fact!  That galls me a bit since babies love to suck their thumbs...at least until they start growing teeth!  That was when I had to stop sucking my thumb; yes, I remember that far back, believe it or not.  I remember seeing tiny tooth marks in the skin of my thumb, and I also remember my thumb swelling up with a big disgusting-looking blister that my dad had to lance!  The lancing was surprisingly completely painless, but the whole experience taught me that my thumb-sucking days were over.

I do think that was the third tangent of this post!  Maybe I should've included a warning at the beginning.  LOL, anyway, Pussycat's feet are different from Kathy's as well.  Remember that Kathy had a flat sole and a separate big toe?  Not Pussycat!  Her feet are more like a real baby's feet, though they're still not as realistic as a reborn doll's feet.  The toes are dimpled and creased like Kathy's are.
The feet are molded into different positions.  The left foot is curled...
...while the right one is more stretched out, with the big toe extended upwards.
The rest of the limbs are a little surprising, as they're not as creased and dimpled as Kathy's were.  They are all bent at a sharp angle (Kathy's arms were more or less straight).
If Pussycat had a firmer body this would mean she could be put in a decent crawling position...but she has a soft body, so my attempts to make her crawl did not go well.  This provides a good intro for the final part of Pussycat's body, though.  Deep inside her chest (I can palpate it with my fingers) is a cylinder, and this cylinder is Pussycat's cry mechanism.  It's even possible to see this cylinder faintly through the fabric on her back.  See the dark area???  That's the cylinder.
Cry mechs like this are bad about wearing out over time, but my doll can still make noise, as I learned when I dropped her one day!  To make Pussycat's mech work one has to lay her flat on her back like so...
...and then tip her forward onto her face like so.
She makes a sound like "ehhhh," not terribly unlike some of the noises my sister and I used to vocalize our displeasure at something.  My knowledge about Madame Alexander dolls is not extensive so I don't know if all Pussycats cry like this, but mine does.

I'm not sure where this fits into the review, but Pussycat still has a legible tag.  Not all tags are readable on dolls this age, but this one is.  Unfortunately it tells me nothing about when this doll was made.  It tells me a bit about who and where, but not when.
Now, clothes.  Unlike Kathy...jeez, I seem to be comparing ALL of Pussycat's features to Kathy's!  Anywho, Pussycat still has her full outfit, unlike poor little Kathy, who has to wear that ill-fitting red dress that looks cute on her anyway regardless of the ill fit.  Pussycat is dressed in a long pink nightie, with a little diaper and booties in tow.
The nightie is made out of fleecy material and goes to Pussycat's knees.  When I seat the doll her bent knees disappear under the nightie's hem and make it look longer.  The sleeves are elbow-length and are trimmed with white lace.
The neck is also trimmed with this lace, as well as a pink satin bow that might prove to be a strangling hazard on a real child.
The nightie closes in the front with pink pearly buttons (the button row is trimmed with still more lace)...
...and with two metal snaps at the throat.
The back is plain.
The back of the dress is tagged at the neck, revealing that this doll's name is indeed two words, though I've seen it spelled both ways in catalogs.
As I've grown to expect with Madame Alexander dolls, the insides of this garment are impeccably finished, though with this material it would be hard NOT to do it well since fleece has such clean raw edges.
The hem of the skirt is particularly well-done...maybe a bit overdone.
Under her nightie Pussycat wears that oh-so-popular item for any stylish baby, the diaper.
This slips on and off and is made of ivory-colored fleece.  Very simple, and yet nicely made, just like the nightie.  The legholes are trimmed with more lace, which breaks up the simplicity a bit and ties the whole look together.
Lastly, booties.  Most of the older Pussycats that I'm aware of had these little knitted booties.  They're made of cream-colored yarn and have little pink bows sewn to the cuffs.
Since Kathy and Pussycat can share clothes it seems logical to assume that Pussycat can wear the Magic Nursery dress that I've got lying around.  But I was in for a surprise.
Oh sure, it looks fine in that picture, but in truth I underestimated another measurement of Pussycat's torso.  It's the right width, no question about that...but it's longer than either Morgan's torso OR Kathy's.  Thus this dress that was just right on Kathy comes up short on Pussycat, making a diaper a necessity.
That's going to make the My Child dress interesting.  It was too short AND too tight for Kathy, so I can only imagine what it'll look like on Pussycat.  Here it is.
WAY short!!!  It does fit Pussycat around the chest, but even with that diaper I think this is too short for her to wear.  That, therefore, puts a serious restriction on what I can dress Pussycat in, as there aren't a lot of outfits for Kathy Cry Baby...but plenty for the My Child crew!  Magic Nursery stuff will work in a pinch, but loose Magic Nursery clothes appear to be at a premium on eBay right now.  Luckily, this story has a happy ending, as I have another dress in storage that Pussycat ended up being able to wear.  Check this out!
This outfit came with another doll that I'll be reviewing...oh, at the rate I'm going it'll likely be in FEBRUARY that she'll get reviewed.  Her name is Softina, and she came with two little outfits plus some knitwear.  This little pink dress proved to be too short for Softina, so I put it back in storage knowing fully well that one of my dolls would probably be able to wear it.  Ta-da, Pussycat can!  It's loose across the shoulders and in the armholes, but it's hard to tell.  The booties don't match the dress, but I wanted them to be used so they're being used.  I don't know who made this dress, but it looks factory-made so it had to belong to someone at sometime.

That settles it!  And as with Kathy I can't really think of anything super-good or super-bad with this doll.  She's a nice doll, well worth the money I paid for her, but like Kathy she's just another cute baby doll.  I like Pussycat's face better than Kathy's, but Kathy can wear a slightly wider range of clothes, so even they pull about even.  So Pussycat is a good doll for enthusiasts of Madame Alexander or baby dolls (or both)...but if I were y'all I'd pick a different one than this.  Pick a little brunette or one that might be more apt to stand out.