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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Just another fall evening

Often when I get off of work Mama and I go for long drives on the back roads surrounding Malden and Campbell.  We do this to unwind and to talk about our days, and to discuss other topics.  Our conversations range from the mundane like music and the comings and goings of our friends at the library, and also deeper stuff like God and politics and death and life.  On some days I also like to take pictures of the clouds, particularly on days like today when weather systems are moving in or pushing out.  Today was one of those days; it was dreary and dark most of the day, with heavy clouds, but towards sunset the clouds began to clear.



These next two pictures show one of my favorite photography subjects, virga.  See the streaks that look like cat paws?

I love virga.  If caught by the sun's rays they can turn gold or pink or purple, but these were destined to stay gray.

The harvest is well underway here in the Bootheel, as the yellow strips in this picture show.  Someone has their cotton all baled up!
In addition to a lovely roll cloud, a recently disked cotton field is visible here.
Another lovely view to the west, where a beautiful sunset is developing.  Spoiler alert:  it gets better than this.
To the north now, where clear sky is beginning to show.
Of course clouds aren't the only thing worth photographing out here where civilization and the boonies converge.  Flanking the freshly disked field are these bushes of yellow flowers.  The windbreaks are FULL of these!
Of course I had to get a closer look.  Had it not been so chilly this evening I would've doffed my shoes and gone through that soft dirt in my bare feet, but it was cold so I didn't.  Here's a closeup of the yellow blossoms; I have no idea what kind of flowers they are, but they're very pretty.  They look like they might be related to sunflowers.
Of course no post of mine would be complete without at least some dolly chatter, so just for grins here's Abigail in front of the blossoms.  Y'all will get to meet her on Halloween, since she IS a witch.
Back to the sky now.  We drove west on J Highway, stopping at a few points to take more pictures of the sunset.





One minute those wispy little clouds were dark, and the next minute they were gold.



I turned back to the car thinking I was done and caught these clouds to the east.
Back to the west again...
...and east again...
And back west, facing the road that runs along the base of Crowley's Ridge.  This stretches about two miles to the north before splitting east and west.
Again I thought that shot would be my last picture, and again I was mistaken.  After we traversed the two miles along the base of the ridge and turned back towards town we ran into a strange sight in the middle of the road.  We weren't sure at first what the shadows in the road were, but they were moving and were thus some sort of critter.  Mama stopped the car and turned on the high beams, and we were greeted by these guys.
My pictures of animals never do turn out well since animals are always on the move.  Long story short, our shadows proved to be a group of about fifteen turkeys, maybe more.  The birds were extremely calm in the presence of people, showing no fear of either the car or the flash from my camera.  They trotted past us without a care, gobbling softly as they went.  Pretty darn nifty; it isn't every day we get to see critters like this.

Last picture, for real this time, of the fading sunset.
And that was it!  What a show!  That wasn't the end of the story, though.  Upon our arrival home we subsequently learned that the turkeys were indeed domestic, hence their vibrant colors and their fearlessness in the face of humans.  They belong to our vet and somehow managed to escape their cage.  I'm glad I didn't have to round 'em up in the dark!

God clearly knew I needed a pick-me-up.  My beloved blind cat Pebbles fell seriously ill over the weekend and I spent the past few days crying and moping and praying the vet could save him.  This is the same vet who owns the turkeys, by the way; Malden has but one vet.  Long story short, Pebbles will survive and most likely be back to his old self before too long, but I still feel awful.  I thought Pebbles would be okay with Mama since my other cats hate strange animals, but Pebbles apparently couldn't handle being separated from me.  He stopped eating, stopped washing himself, stopped doing everything a cat should do.  He's on the mend now and won't be leaving my side now, but he's got a lot of weight to gain back.  Anyway, I spent the weekend beating myself up and was still in a funk today, so thank God for the sky and the flowers and the turkeys, whether they were tame or not.  One doesn't see turkeys every day, and I'm grateful that Mama and I got to see them.

Now what do I do?  Get ready for bed and make sure the animals are warm enough!

Cheers,
RagingMoon1987

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Birthday girls

Both Talolili and I had a birthday this week (hers was on the second, and mine is today).  I don't know if Tal got any dolly stuff for her birthday, but I managed to score these three little porcelain dolls.  First Uncle bought them at a junk shop in House Springs, Missouri.
Why on Earth would someone staple price tags to a doll's dress???  I've seen them taped, pinned, and tied to a doll, but this one is something new.  Due to this it's unfortunately pretty obvious what my uncle paid for these dolls, but fortunately the prices were pretty low.

Going from left to right, the first doll has frizzy dark brown hair and lovely brown eyes.
This little gal has a smug little expression that I just adore.  She carries an apple in her hand, making me wonder if she's supposed to be a little schoolgirl, or maybe an apple-picker.  Like so many of my porcelain dolls this child wears a cap, and to go with this cap is an old-fashioned dress in shades of cream and brown.  The dress is heavily trimmed with eyelet, and she wears white socks and cream-colored shoes on her feet.  For some reason this doll is darker than the other two in terms of skintone, but that's not a big deal.  I just thought that was neat.  I haven't picked a name for this one yet.

The doll in the middle is the tallest, and she is the only one with a company tag and a name.  The name on the tag is "Milly," which is good enough for me.  She has navy blue eyes and long strawberry blonde hair that could do with a trim.  Notice that one set of eyelashes is trying to go AWOL!
Milly is very warmly dressed, much more so than the other two dolls, complete with a cream-colored cardigan and a matching sock hat.  Underneath that she wears a dress made of rose-colored velour.  Her collar and the hem of her skirt are trimmed in an unusual style of lace.  The knitted pieces of Milly's outfit are trimmed with embroidery and cat's eye beads.  White stockings and white lace-up boots complete the look.

The last little doll is a red-haired, blue-eyed sailor girl.  She's the only one with short hair, which I appreciate.
I rather unoriginally chose the name "Sayler" for this little sailor.  She is...wearing a sailor dress and is carrying an American flag.  'Nuff said.  Sayler has a bit of a humorous story behind her, by the way; my uncle saw the "U.S.A." printed on her hat and assumed that she was an American Girl doll!  Not likely, but she sure is cute!

I also bought a handful of other girls for myself, but they're scheduled to be reviewed before the year is out so I won't show them now.  I'll give y'all a sneak peak, though; one is yet another antique bisque doll (like Hattie), and the other is an Enchantimal.  Pretty different from each other on the dolly spectrum, with one being a collectible and the other being tomorrow's forgotten flop...maybe. 

Happy birthday to Tal and me,
RagingMoon1987

Friday, September 28, 2018

L.O.L Surprise! Under Wraps and Fashion Crush

Rain and fog plus a couple of slow work days equals another fluff post!  I've touched on the Li'l Outrageous Littles twice in the past, first with the first wave and then with the Confetti Pop! line, and I honestly thought that I was through with these dolls.  I mean, I've got a pretty nice selection consisting of two full-size dolls, four minis, and one pet that I never photographed.  That's not a bad crew, a good enough number for me to stop at, right?  Wrong.  The new wave, "Under Wraps" suckered me back in.  That mod/pop art girl on the front may or may not have had something to do with it; I may or may not be hoping that I'll get her in this package.
The Under Wraps line packaged in different containers and come with a few new minor new gimmicks, but the overall premise is the same.  I've got two of these, and I've already opened one.  She's cute, but no better or worse than Spice and Can-Do are.
This is 80's B.B., by the way, and I'll admit that if I could've hand-selected a character this would've been one of my first choices.  I think she's modeled after Madonna and I positively loathe Madonna, but she's still a cute little doll.  She has STREAKS in her hair, for crying out loud!  What's not to like???  She also has little earrings that are two separate pieces, something that neither of my other large dolls have.  So she's...okay, she's a little bit more deluxe than Spice and Can-Do are, but she's very much the same aside from those earrings and printed stockings.

Now that that's out of the way, these Under Wraps dolls come in your usual container with a ton of wrapping, but y'all may have noticed some differences.  The past two waves that I touched on had little round compartments that doubled as keychains or living spaces or party poppers, and I suspect that a fair amount of those old-style pods were pitched since they added very little play value to the doll inside.  I kept my pods so that I wouldn't lose shoes or accessories, but I doubt everyone had that same idea.  No, Mini Maddie came in a capsule-shaped hovel, as you saw above, and my new L.O.L. has as well.  But wait, there's more!  As usual, the back of the capsule has your list of surprises, seen here...
...but dig this!
Is that doll solid purple???  Nope!  These new dolls come wrapped in a new kind of wrapping, this bizarre vinyl coating that pops apart in multiple places and can be reused, though for what reason I'll never know.  These coatings can look like Egyptian mummies or mermaids or God knows what.

Alrighty, let's get this ball rolling.  Y'all have seen the exterior, but you haven't seen what it's concealing.  The first layer holds this magnifying glass-thingy.
I've seen items like this given away in cereal boxes.  If you looked through them you might find secret messages on the box or on a slip of paper in the box.  So it is with these new Littles; at first glance the mod girl merely has a speech bubble with the faces of other Littles in it.  The words are visible for those with sharp eyes, but they're indistinct.
When viewed through the magnifying glass-thingy the message becomes clearer.
I have two of these now, one that came with B.B. and one that came with whoever is in this new container.
Second layer has the puple Little that I saw on the list of contents, plus another one of those speech bubbles.
I held the magnifying glass-thingy up to my camera's lens this time and got some interesting results.
Underneath that second layer is a secret message, again shrouded in that pattern that has to be decoded.
The first two waves had some cute secret messages, usually with dumb puns like I like or some other sort of idiom, but these Under Wraps messages are...well, I think they're kind of stupid.  They factor into some sort of letter that'll be inside the capsule, and I just don't like these as much.  This one reads "on top of a mountain."
Last wrapper has this cute chick in purple!
Finally, something useful!  I got my instruction pamphlet, which I won't be needing, and the code sheet.
Yes, the code sheet.  These new capsules open in multiple places like the older pods do, but their contents can only be accessed by use of a mechanism that functions like a combination lock.  Here's what this looks like.
In order to get these open you've got to try every code and punch the little black button until the compartment pops open.  Here's a better look at the sheet of codes.
Of course I need my magnifying glass-thingy to read these too.
These are little pictograms depicting two items that either oppose or compliment one another.  The six possible codes appear to be
*queen of diamonds (the tiara and the jewel)
*fire and ice (the flame and the liberal the snowflake)
*minty peach???  (the candy and the fruit)
*lucky devil (the shamrock and the devil face)
*oh barf, peace and love (the peace sign and the heart)
*rain and sun (the rain cloud and the sun)

Hmm, maybe that one is "candy apple" rather than "minty peach."  LOL, I'm pretty sure it's NOT "minty peach," in fact.  Ewww...I like peppermint and I like peaches, but the combination sounds just a little revolting.  Anywho, with all the wrappings removed from the capsule it's possible to see inside, where some of the goodies and the doll are semi-visible.
What on God's green Earth is she supposed to be dressed up as???  Is she a cat?  An alien?  Some kind of tripped-out teddy bear?  Oh...hold up...I think she's supposed to be a sheep.  See the horns?
Mmkay...that's original, and just a smidge creepy with the way the eyes are covered.  And yes, I'll concede that B.B. was a little creepy too when she was wrapped up (she was a mummy).

As much as I'd like to get that creepy mask of that doll's head I'm going to show a bit of self-control and pop open these end hatches first.  I'll start with this round hatch here.
The combination for this first hatch turned out to be minty peach candy apple, and it contained a small bag.
At first I assumed that the bag itself would be...well, just a bag!
Upon closer perusal I saw that it contains some sort of hidden message, and that prompted a trotting out of the magnifying glass-thingy.
Newspaper G...newspaper G...uh-oh, that reminds me that the wrappings that covered the capsules also had little clues!  Time to dumpster dive!
Alrighty, I've got them back out of their rather smelly nest that was the trash can.  The outermost wrapper didn't have diddly squat on it, but the second wrapping has my magnifying glass-thingy with the letter O, meaning that that picture on the message inside stands for that letter.
The third layer has a repeat of the newspaper and the G.
Alrighty, so that means that the coded message inside will have a newspaper for the letter G, a magnifying glass-thingy for the letter O, and the phrase "on top of a mountain." 
To the other end of the capsule now, which has two small hatches instead of one big one.  The first of these (unlocked with lucky devil) contains a bag with a rehash of the letter O message, and this cute pair of black shoes inside.
The other hatch (code is peace and love) has yet another reference to the letter O and that accessory common to all Li'l Outrageous Littles, the bottle.
I have a sneaking suspicion that this new doll will make a good companion for Spice, given their shared red and black ensembles.

Now...time to open the main part of the capsule.  To my surprise the hatch fell open with the first combo, queen of diamonds.  Therein lies the rest of the loot.
The two bags both contain more references to the letter G, plus an interesting pair of sunglasses and a SILVER binky!
Blingy!  Now...that blue handle that y'all saw?  It attaches to the capsule and turns it into a carrying case, a much nicer one than the older pods made.  And of course there's the checklist, complete with an incomplete list of characters, and the secret message that I've been gnashing at the bit to see.
Unfortunately I'm in the middle of a huge letdown with that message.  Not only do I only have the letters O and G filled out at the bottom, but I'll need a pet code AND a Li'l Sisters code to complete the rest of the message.  Le sigh...that's a pretty clever marketing ploy; I can hear little kids saying "Now I need this and this to finish the message!"  Lordy, with these dolls MGA may not need to bother re-releasing the Bratz (which they were supposed to have done by now, I thought).  They're both pricey and addictive, and MGA should thus be making a killing with these.

The above message DID reveal why the dolls are all under wraps though.  These girls are searching for a long-lost pet and are traveling in disguise so their cover isn't blown.  Wait a minute...missing pet?  Didn't I see a missing pet on the back of a milk carton back during one of the other posts???  <pauses to look>
Yes!  Can-Do's warpy little milk carton bottle asks "HAVE U SEEN ME-OW?"  Could that be the pet in question or is this just a coincidence?

Alright, enough silly conjecture, who's ready to see this doll out from under her wrappings?  I know I am.
In fact I'm getting excited about this one!  Not only is she a doll of color, but she's got painted undergarments!
Y'all ready?  Here she is!
Hey, she's really cute!  Those black shoes and white socks bring the one and only Michael Jackson to mind, and...
...indeed, her name is Thrilla!  One of my favorite Michael Jackson songs!!!  As a side note, it would be adorable if Thrilla could wear her glasses and her binky at the same time, but she can't.  I tried it and the binky fell out of her mouth and rolled under my work station.  So it's either glasses or binky for Thrilla.  Never both. 
The glasses are cockeyed anyway, kind of like Bert's glasses ended up when he tried to be just like Ernie.  LOL, there's an obscure reference for y'all!  If anyone grew up with Sesame Street books like I did then they may get the reference.

Out of curiosity I browsed the collector's leaflet to see who my mod girl was.  This is her, Pop Heart.
Pop is unfortunately an ultra-rare, so my odds of finding her are pretty long.  I like Thrilla okay, though; having a doll with a Michael Jackson theme is pretty darn nice.  And I love her hair.  It's got a lot more detail

Okay, so that's yet another wave of Li'l Outrageous Littles with which to sucker Mom and Dad out of their money.  The capsules have more play value than the pods in my opinion, and it's possible to see the doll inside them once they're all opened up, but these capsules still pose a problem in terms of storage.  When I was a child I'd store my toys in cast-off shoe boxes, and I doubt strongly that I could cram more than three of these capsules into a single box.  The pods?  I could easily fit all the pods into the sole shoe box I've got now...or I could if there weren't shoes in the box!  Wait a minute now...SOLE???  SHOE???  Oh Lordy, that was a bad pun!  Anyway, these capsules could potentially be a pain in the neck to store, sort of like the huge clonky heads of Lalaloopsy dolls.  Storing them isn't easy either.  There's nothing wrong with this new wave of L.O.L. dolls, but except for appearances they don't bring much new to the table.  They're just...more cute little dolls.  Their clothes do provide some better coverage, though.  B.B. and Thrilla both have one-piece skirts without huge slits in them, for example.
That's good.  Now if only there were some cute new options for clothes...THERE ARE!!!  Behold these new Fashion Crush pods.
Furthermore, MGA is using the gimmick that I've been hoping for all along: blind bag outfits!  The little clothes are concealed inside this pod...but unfortunately there's a catch.  The "crush" part may sound cute, but in this case it also means that the opener has to crush something to get at the clothes.  Now, the pets have their extra goodies concealed in kinetic sand, which was annoying to some but entertaining for me because I love kinetic sand.  Oh, if only THESE were concealed in kinetic sand!  Nope.  They are ensconced in...
...jelly.  Not something like Play-Doh or Silly Putty, which would've made a good extra plaything, but single-use jelly that has flecks of glitter and the clothes suspended in it.  The jelly slides out of the pod in one piece...sometimes.  Sometimes I have to dig it out.  The pod (cleverly shaped like a laundry basket) is left with this nasty, slimy residue from this jelly, and when I opened my last two outfits it took three washings to get everything clean.  Oh yeah, the first two outfits?  Spice and Can-Do are wearing those.
They're cute outfits and I'm glad these Littles have something new to wear, but what gives with the gross factor here???  MGA Entertainment delved into the world of cutesy grossness with the Moxie Girlz Poopsy Pets, and then they upped the ante with Lalaloopsy babies that crapped charms and Play-Doh turdlets in the shapes of hearts and buttons.  Now they've got UNICORNS that crap slime when you feed them!!!  I'll concede that vinyl doll clothes suspended in jelly is nowhere near as bad as the poopy unicorns, but I still am forced to wonder WHY in the world MGA would go in this direction???  I can only imagine what the Bratz would be doing now if they were still around.  MGA would find some sort of weird ick-gimmick for them too, no doubt.

Now that I've pounded that point into a mangled, twitching pulp, let's take a look at my wad of boogers here.
The jelly feels like very firm Jell-O and unfortunately smells fairly strongly of plastic.  It's very slippery to the touch, and though it's not to be eaten it's not toxic that I know of.  Seriously, when I was cleaning up the last time a blob of this crap fell out of my hand and one of my dogs swallowed it.  Didn't even faze the dummy that I know of, though I still would not recommend letting your pets eat this stuff.  Anywho, you have to smash this to get at the items inside, and the best way to do this is with your hands.  BANZAAAAAAAI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HULK SMASH!!!  Ahem...this is what you get:  a crumbly, slimy mess that you have to pick through in order to find all the pieces of the outfit.  A dress and shoes are always involved, and sometimes there are other small pieces too, like a purse or a necklace or water wings in the case of Can-Do's swimsuit.  Since the clothing items are hollow they're filled with more jelly...
...and said jelly is a pain in the a$$ to get out of the shoes.  CookieSwirlC just shoved her dolls' feet into the shoes, which in turn mashed out the jelly and worked quite well, but since I'm never one to do things the easy way I put the stopper in the sink and held the clothes under running water.  Even then I had to pry the jelly out of the shoes last time.  After all that you're left with the laundry basket-shaped pod, the outfit, and a pile of smashed jelly.  The jelly is subsequently thrown away, hence why I think Play-Doh or Silly Putty or kinetic sand would've been a better option.  Yeah, that's all messy too, but it can at least be kept for a future plaything!  Seriously, I loved Play-Doh and Silly Putty when I was a kid, so why wouldn't some other kid like it too???

Here's my first two outfits again so y'all won't have to scroll upLast time I tried this I got F-006, modeled on Spice, and F-023, modeled on Can-Do.  F-006 belongs to the Glam Club category and is "popular" (L.O.L.-speak for "common"), while F-023 belongs to Swim Club and is fancy (L.O.L.-speak for "a little harder to find but not rare."  By sheer luck of the draw F-006 matches Spice's tights.
This time I've got F-011 (Athletic Club, popular), F005 (Glam Club, fancy), and F-022 (Swim Club, popular).
I've got to admit that while the gimmick for these little outfits is not much fun, the clothes themselves are.  They're not stuck in a pink rut and there's a nice selection of little outfits to potentially get.  As with humans certain colors look better on certain skin tones, so Thrilla got the athletic set.  She lost some of her originality with that set, but she still looks pretty good.  As for B.B., I was torn between the blue dress and the swimsuit since both would look pretty cute on her.  Despite her painted tights and gloves I chose the swimsuit, and I have to say that it was a pretty good choice!  The pink in the outfit matches one of the pink stripes in B.B.'s hair.
I have to admit that I'm a fan of these outfits.  I DON'T like the way they're packaged and wish that MGA would pick another method, but I got a nice selection of clothes that will fit all my bigger dollies.  Just for grins, here's my four big girls together.  I never would've dreamed that Can-Do would be the swimming type, but she doesn't seem to mind wearing water-wings.
Things get even more fun when I put the Li'l Sisters and the pet into the mix.  What a colorful group they are!
From left, they are Li'l Miss Baby, Thrilla, Li'l Cheeky Babe, Spice, Li'l V.R.Q.T., 80's B.B., Li'l Babydoll, Can-Do Baby, and D.J. K9.  Miss Emily wasn't too thrilled with the pets on the grounds that her kinetic sand stunk to high heaven, but my sand wasn't too smelly and I thus like my critter quite a bit.  The jelly in my Fashion Crush pods varied in terms of odor (the first one smelled strongly and the other two did not), so it would be safe to assume that the kinetic sand that buries the pets' goodies also varies from pod to pod.  Overall I like these, but I recommend extreme caution with the Fashion Crush pods.  The gimmick can be really nasty and is best used under adult supervision.  Also be sure to cover the play area with paper towels or newspapers when smashing that jelly, and WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP AFTERWARDS!!!  If you don't use soap the jelly residue won't come off.

My final vote?  The Under Wraps dolls are worth the time and effort if you're a fan of the past two waves, and the clothes are okay if you don't mind making a huge mess.  While I applaud MGA Entertainment for making blind bag clothing for these dolls, I think they may need to go back to the drawing board with that jelly gimmick.

As a last little tangent, CookieSwirlC insinuates in one of her videos that the shoes and purses packaged with the Li'l Sisters are indeed for their bigger playmates.  One of her new Li'l Sisters came with a ball cap, for example, and it was clearly sized for a larger doll.  This video can be found here.

Love and kisses,
RagingMoon1987

EDIT:  I forgot to mention that the Fashion Crush outfits are a little tricky to get on.  The sleeves are not particularly wide, so one has to squeeze the doll's arms together a little to get the sleeves on.  Also, B.B.'s one-piece swimsuit has the same slits in it that the other L.O.L. outfits have, so it doesn't look great from the back.  The new outfits are better in general about not having gaps in the back, but some of them still have them.