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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dollies for Christmas

Merry Christmas to y'all!  I don't know about you, but I personally had a very good one.  We opened our gifts and ate, and visited relatives and ate some more.  My mother loved her present (some much-needed gloves), and my sister appreciated her gifts.  As for me...well, let's just say that I'm pleased as well.  I got some pajamas and a sparkly sweater, a very humorous book on odd things that happen to morticians, and...hmmm, what am I forgetting?  Oh yes...I got DOLLIES!!!  Four dolls, two porcelain and two Barbie dolls.

I'm going to start with the porcelain dolls.  My sister's boyfriend's mother (referred to hereafter as "Mrs. A") has porcelain dolls that she apparently wants to relocate, because she gave up two of hers to give to me.  This one is Beatrice.

She's your run-of-the-mill porcelain doll, about sixteen inches tall with blue eyes and springy blonde curls.  These curls bounce like mad; I love bobbing Beatrice up and down and watching that hair bounce and swing.

Her dress is blue with creamy yellow trim.  The trim at the waist has tiny pink flowers.

The hem has rosettes and this drapey stuff hanging from the hem in swags.

Part of the drapey stuff has become detached...and wouldn't you know, the detached part is right up front.

Nothing I can't fix.

The hat is a separate piece.  It has a gold bow and a huge orange rosette on top.

This also gives you an idea of what Beatrice's face looks like.  She is slightly reminiscent of the antique porcelain dolls that Germany and France produced during the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Beatrice has a blue bunny tied to her arm.

Completing the blue theme are these cute blue shoes with pearl "buttons."

The other porcelain doll that Mrs. A gave me looks like this.  I named her Clarissa.

Clarissa is eight inches tall, give or take.  She too has a rabbit to hold; it is jointed and sewn directly to her dress.  Her dominant color is green (as opposed to Beatrice's blue).  Clarissa's dress appears to be two pieces, but it is only one piece.  The blouse-looking piece is green with flowers and leaves printed on, and the pinafore-looking piece is made of a loosely-woven fabric that looks like cheesecloth.

The skirt of the pinafore has these cute embroidered stars on it.

Underneath the skirt, Clarissa is wearing these adorable little bloomers.  They match the the sleeves of her dress.  She also has cream-colored shoes with snaps that actually work.

Clarissa's face looks like this.

She has green eyes and blonde hair, and the cutest little pouty lips.  I love this doll's expression!  I also love her hair; it's very smooth and soft, unlike the hair of most porcelain dolls I run into.

It's also shiny!

That pretty much covers the porcelain dolls, so on to the Barbie dolls.

The doll on the left is obviously Lucille Ball, playing Lucy Ricardo in the episode "Lucy Does a TV Commercial."  This episode, for those of you who are unfamiliar with "I Love Lucy," this is the episode where Lucy hawks Vitameatavegamin and gets drunker than a skunk (the tonic is 23% alcohol).  The doll on the right is Asian President Barbie from the "I Can Be..." series.  Since these dolls are not as cut-and-dried as the porcelain dolls are, they will each get their own review.  President Barbie's review will be of particular interest since this doll is currently available in stores (Lucy is not).  

Once again I must cut this post short due to bad weather (the wind is fooling around with the power lines).  Southeast Missouri is in the path of Winter Storm Euclid, and my area is predicted to get anywhere from six inches to a full foot of snow tonight.  Down south there have been tornadoes; Mobile, Alabama has been hit by a large wedge tornado.  According to the Weather Channel there have already been injuries and damage, so I'm praying that there will be no deaths there.  I'll probably spend the night keeping warm and taking pictures for the next couple of reviews.  Until then, stay safe, keep warm, and have a very merry Christmas.

Yours truly,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A tale of two Danielas

Saturday was a damp, windy, drizzly day, good for sleeping in.  So guess what my nutty family decided to do?  Tick, tick, tick...time's up!  We went shopping!  Yes, shopping, so close to Christmas and we're shopping.  Shopping instead of sleeping in.  Sleep is a valuable asset to both students and teachers alike (my mother is a schoolteacher), so this is a significant sacrifice.  Anyway, we braved the elements and went out (heck, it was better than staying at home watching TV).  My mother was searching for Christmas trinkets for her students and for her mother/my grandmother, and I...well, I'm still looking for B.F.C. Ink dolls.  Nope, still haven't found any!  None at the Toys R Us we visited a few weeks back.  None at any of the Wal-Marts we've been to.  None at the rather seedy Big Lots that we went to today.  But tucked away in the far corner of said Big Lots, between rows of generic-looking Barbie dolls, I did find this little gem.
This is a Moonlight Dance Daniela, and she cost ten bucks American.  I forget what the Moonlight Dance line of LIV dolls originally cost; I assume it was about twenty like the other LIV dolls.  If so then I got her for a very fair price indeed.  If you look close you can see that the front flap that originally covered the box is torn off.  Sometimes that has a factor in the pricing of a doll, so I'm wondering if I got the deal because of the damage.

I had seen the Moonlight Dance LIV dolls about a year ago, during my online search for doll clothes.  The line consisted of the four original girls, Sophie, Katie, Daniela, and Alexis, and all four dolls are very attractively dressed.  I admired both the Daniela and the Alexis from this line, but the only dolls available in my area by then were the Making Waves dolls, so I gave the Moonlight Dance dolls up as "ones that got away," purchased Daniela and Jake from the Making Waves line, and busied myself buying up clothes and wigs.  Daniela and Jake made me very happy and still do.
As the year shifted from 2011 to 2012 I and many other collectors watched as the LIV dolls released new lines, showed significant hits in quality with those new lines, and then finally were phased out altogether.  Collectors snapped up what few dolls remained, so that is why I am now both shocked and pleased to find the Moonlight Dance doll I initially coveted!  I can only wonder why such a nice doll turned up at Big Lots in the first place, unless the Toys R Us next door couldn't sell her due to the damaged box and gave her to Big Lots on a discount.  TRU's loss was my gain!

Tangent over, I had intended to give you a review of the Making Waves Daniela that I already had, and now I have the Moonlight Dance Daniela as well.  Since I have the same character from different lines, I'll do a comparison instead.  The differences are mainly superficial and cosmetic, but I'll show them to you anyway.

Here are both dolls in their stock outfits.
Both dolls are the same height, by the way.  Moonlight Dance Daniela (hereafter referred to as MD Daniela) is wearing shoes add a few millimeters to her height.  She has that beautiful green dress that I loved so much, black hose, black boots, black arm warmers, and "gold" jewelry.  If you look close you can see that the dress's bodice has a shiny bluish sheen to it; this aspect is unfortunately very difficult to photograph.  You'll just have to take my word for it, it's gorgeous.  And it's well-sewn; the hems are not much to look at if you turn them upside down, but luckily there's not much reason for that!
Making Waves Daniela (referred to hereafter as MW Daniela) is wearing a blue-and-white two-piece bathing suit.  She has a pair of blue star-shaped earrings, but they're currently MIA so she's wearing a pair from another outfit.  She also carries a small purse and a pair of blue sunglasses, which look very cute when perched on her nose.  And FYI, I got her pants on backwards in the left picture!
The Daniela I found had no shoes, which I found odd, because Amazon.com advertised this particular doll as having shoes...and RED earrings.  Mine, as I stated, had blue earrings.  This suited me just fine since red would not have gone with the overall blue of the outfit.  But why on earth would Amazon just...LIE about such a thing?  That was what I thought they did, anyway...until I looked closer at the stock photo they were using!
The shoes are obvious in the picture, and if you enlarge the photo you can clearly see that Daniela is wearing RED earrings, not the blue ones that mine came with.  The only explanation that I can give is that Spin Masters originally meant for these dolls to come with shoes (which NONE of the Making Waves dolls did) and red earrings.  The red certainly does not match the overall outfit, but go figure on the shoes.

Compared to the classy, conservatively dressed Moonlight Dance line, the Making Waves dolls look a little cheap and basic.  In response to those criticisms, I will point out that MW Daniela's swimsuit is just as well-made as MD Daniela's dress.  In fact, the hems are cut closer, so they look less ragged when turned inside out (I still don't recommend doing that, since that's not the way these clothes are supposed to go).  My particular doll did cost less than the average MD doll, but the decrease in price probably reflected both the smaller, simpler outfit and the introduction of smaller boxes.  This may or may not be true, but either way my MW Daniela is certainly not lacking in quality.  I'll show you this further on down.

As an interesting little side note, Daniela was not the only doll to look different from her early stock photos.  This blog entry from LIV Doll Source has an image of how Jake was originally supposed to look, and an image of the actual product.  There's quite a difference between the two!

Facepaint and eyes
Another difference between MD Daniela and MW Daniela is the way their faces are painted.
Their lip color is different, obviously.  MD Daniela has a shimmery shade of light pink.  It's difficult to pick up properly in photographs.
MW Daniela has lovely cranberry-colored lips.  I am unsure whether this is supposed to be her natural lip color or a shade of gloss, but it looks very pretty regardless.
Less obvious is the difference in eye paint.  Both dolls have lovely brown inset eyes, and both dolls have long, thick, painted lashes.  MD Daniela's eye shadow looks like this:
This isn't the best picture, but she has gold eye shadow, and what appears to be either pale lavender or light gray shadow closer in.  Also, if you look closely at my MD Daniela, you can see that she is somewhat cross-eyed!  This doesn't surprise me much since these are small dolls with inset eyes, and the smaller the doll, the harder it is to properly position the eyes.  Having slightly wayward eyes doesn't bother me much, since it makes this particular doll look more like an individual person.  Heck, I have a lazy eye myself!

MW Daniela's eye shadow looks like this:
She has pink eye shadow close to her eyes, and shimmery nude stuff higher up.  Not what I'd wear to the beach, but it's not hideously garish, like some of the Twist and Dance dolls (the doll in this link is Sophie, by the way).  My MW Daniela has straighter eyes, but I wasn't even paying attention to such things when I bought her, so I was just extremely lucky.

Body (WARNING:  some dolly nudity will be present here, so proceed carefully)
Both of these dolls have the older body, the one that is highly articulated and also fairly sturdy.  Their elbows, ankles, and wrists bend and rotate, and both of them have "kneecaps," or the extra pieces that enabled these dolls to kneel so well.  MD Daniela is on the left in the picture below, and if you look closely you can see that her tights left faint marks on her legs.
Both dolls kneel superbly well.  MD Daniela's tights are no hinderance whatsoever.
The only difference of note is the presence of painted-on undergarments on MD Daniela.  MW Daniela has the same molded-on design, but her panty lines are...well, they're nude!
I'm not sure if all LIV dolls are wigged (I've never handled a Twist and Dance doll, so I don't know for certain), but the Moonlight Dance line and the Making Waves line both sport wigs for their female dolls.  In this case the differences are in the wigs; both my Danielas have the same painted hair.  Well...mostly, it's the same.  MD Daniela's hair is a teensy bit lighter, and there are some differences in the hairline.  But for the most part it's the same hair.
Here are the wigs.
The base color for both wigs is the same; it looks black in these pictures, but the color is actually a very dark brown.  MD Daniela has long blonde strands as well, but I'm not a huge fan of this look.  I don't mind peek-a-boo dye jobs; I have one LIV wig that's colored that way, in fact.  But all the strands are the same length!  The blunt cut of the dark fibers just looks weird to me.  It looks okay when it's actually on the doll though, so I can live with it.

Both dolls have bangs and parts in their wigs.
MD Daniela has a side part and side-swept bangs, while MW Daniela has a center part and a full set of bangs.  Not a huge deal since these dolls can switch wigs quite easily.  MW Daniela doesn't look particularly enthused about switching, but that's too bad for her!  LOL
And that, ladies and germs, concludes the auction!  I would say that once you've seen one LIV doll you've seen them all, but that's clearly not the case.  Yes, it's quite obvious that both of these dolls are Daniela dolls, but they have just enough flourishes to make each one separate and individual.  They're different enough that if I had found these running loose in a junk shop with no wigs or clothes, I'd have been able to say "yeah this one is from one line and this one is from another."  But I'd also have been able to say "both of these dolls are Daniela."  In short, I'm pretty happy with both my girls.  I'm particularly happy to have a third LIV doll in the mix, and I'm tickled pink that it happens to be the very doll I wanted to begin with, with that gorgeous green dress.

In closing, I would like to note that my local Wal-Mart has also had a sudden influx of LIV doll equipment in the clearance rack.  I saw five different outfits and one doll left (It's My Nature Alexis, also missing the front flap off her box).  I bought one outfit and am going to wait until after Christmas to return for the clothes.  I may rue that decision, but that's what I'm going to do.  If Alexis is still there then I may grab her too, but if I can't get her then that's fine.  I still have my lovely ladies!  In the meantime I'm going to grab some munchies, kick back, and wait for the end of the world to not happen.  You probably won't hear from me again until after Christmas, so I want to wish all of my followers and readers a safe, blessed, and very merry Christmas.  In the midst of all the gifts, food, and family, take some time to remember the real reason for the season, especially if you are a Christian, like I am.  Take some time to thank God for sending His Son to live with us, know us, and die for us.
Say goodnight, ladies!

Merry CHRISTmas and God bless,

Friday, December 14, 2012

Monster High C.A. Cupid review..and something else

Given the terrible events that have gone down in Connecticut I feel almost ashamed to post about a doll.  In case you were unaware (and in the states I'm willing to bet everyone knows by now) some nutjob took a gun to a class full of kindergartners in Newtown and killed them all.  Last I heard the death toll was 26 or 27; 20 are children, and five or six are adults, including the shooter's mother.  Oh yes, the shooter is also dead.  The good-girl Christian half of me wants to find a way to forgive this man for what he has done, but the worldly, profane side of me can't help but hope he's burning in hell.

If any of y'all out there are from Connecticut, you have my prayers and sympathy whether you knew any of the victims or not.  My prayers are also with the families of the victims, and the family of the shooter as well, for they have to live with the fact that their loved one committed such a heinous act.  May God show his love and his mercy for them all.

I am continuing with this review because my newest doll is a toy, and what kindergartner doesn't love toys?  I also am continuing with this because my doll is C.A. Cupid, a symbol of love and affection for all of us.  This review is dedicated to the little ones whose lives were lost today and to their families.  If I sound overly chipper in places, that's because I've had this review in draft form since Monday.  So without further ado, here she is.
Okay, so that's not the best picture I took of her, but that is her.  It should be noted that photographing this doll is difficult; she is white, so getting the proper background and the correct flash setting is no easy task.  When I do get a decent picture of her, she's very attractive.

Before I get too far into the review, let's discuss the backstory.  Some folks appreciate that in a review, so here goes:  C.A. Cupid is the daughter of Eros, the Greek god of desire, affection, and..."erotic" love.  C.A. Cupid, however, does not do the same work her father does.  Where her father works with humans (or "normies," as the monsters call humans), Cupid works on monsters only.  She admits that she is a terrible shot, but makes up for it by offering advice on love and romance.  She considers herself a girly-girl, loves psychology and the color pink, and is not a big fan of math (like me).  In the U.S. she is a Wal-Mart exclusive; I understand that she's available in other stores outside of the States.  This is the first Cupid doll ever produced so she could be considered a first-wave doll.  I'm not really sure about that one yet...lemme get back to you on that.

Anyway, the Cupid doll is 10.5 inches tall, the height of most female Monster High dolls.  She's unlike most of the Monster High dolls that I own, in that she has heavily lacquered hair.  Sometimes these dolls have poorly-set hair; I paid extra attention to this aspect and picked the doll with the best hair.
Cupid's hair has two tones of pink.  The lighter shade is sort of a baby pink, and the darker shade leans more towards bubble gum.
The hairstyle is unusually elaborate, especially for a first-wave doll...or what I deem as such.  It is styled up in a tight, retro-style flip.  It also has a twisted section that goes all the way around Cupid's head, then loops up in a heart shape.  It's a little like a halo.
Her bangs are short, and are lacquered or sprayed to hold their shape, just like the rest of the hair.  From the front her bangs take on a shape similar to first-wave Operetta's bangs.
But from the side it's obvious that they are quite different.  Operetta's bangs curl back in an Elvis-like pompadour.  Cupid's bangs curve downward and toward her face.
Tell me, Cupid...why do fools fall in love?

One thing worth noticing is the back of Cupid's hair.
Flat!  Reminds me a bit of the back of Tristen's new wig!  The causes are the same; like Tristen's wig, Cupid's hair got smashed in the back by the way she was packaged.  Since she was probably tacked into her package before her hair was dry, it'll stay flat unless I decide to restyle it.  And I don't plan on that so...tough luck for you, Cupid!  Oh well, it still looks good from the front.

Moving along, Cupid's face.
Her vinyl is white like Spectra Vondergeist's.  They don't share a head mold, but they're the same color.
That's where the similarities end, though.  Like the other Monster High characters, Cupid has a paint scheme all her own.  Let's start with...oh, it's hard to pick a starting place here!  I'm going to start with the highest point on her face, that being her eyes and her eye makeup.  It's hard for me to capture the beauty of Cupid's eye paint on camera, but I'll try anyway.
Her eyes two-tone; the outer rim of her iris is a cerulean color, and the inner portion is sea-blue with a pale green crescent under the pupil.  Her pupils are black and round, and have tiny white hearts painted in them.  There are also some white lines, like natural eyes sometimes have.  Cupid's eyebrows are heavy and serious.  She almost looks annoyed about something...perhaps she missed her shot again.  Or maybe she's bummed because her eyebrows don't match her hair; the eyebrows are very dark pink, almost fuchsia.  Regarding eye shadow, Cupid has two colors.  The inner color is pale blue, and the outer color is a pale pink, the latter of which matches her hair much better than the fuchsia eyebrows do.  Her eyes are lined in black, and her eyelashes are black as well.  Cupid looks like she's gone a little overboard with the kohl, but all that black does help her eyes stand out from her otherwise pale palette.

The only other makeup that Cupid has is on her lips.  No blush or anything, just lipstick.  And even that's not a lot.
She has a small rosebud moth painted on; the rest of her lips are not painted.  I am unsure of whether this effect is supposed to look like a heart, or if it was inspired by the way a geisha paints her lips.
Notice that this geisha's lip paint does not fully cover her lips.  Such a feature is common among geisha, but I can only speculate if this was the effect Mattel wanted for Cupid.  I know that the original Eros was a Greek entity and not a Japanese one, but it is still an interesting idea!

But then again, Cupid's clothing doesn't look very Japanese.  It doesn't look very Greek either.  It looks...well, it looks like...like this!
Regardless of who or what influenced it, this is a simple but cute dress.  It is all one piece, but it has at least four different fabrics in play.  The straps are made of this soft, sheer, black material, and the bodice is a sparkly pink knit.  Both of these fabrics stretch.  The waist is wrapped in more of the sheer black material, helping it blend in with the skirt.
The skirt is a satiny, tri-colored fabric.  The top part is black.
This black print appears to be dripping or melting down onto the rest of the dress.  I'm not sure what that's supposed to symbolize.  Could it be cake icing?  Cupid is a part of a birthday line, after all.  Or perhaps it is candle wax, again echoing the theme of a birthday (though somewhat more vaguely).  Could it be paint?  Or slime?  Or...black BLOOD???  Nah, I doubt Mattel would put blood of any sort onto a toy like this.  That's just something that we'll have to speculate about.  

Underneath the black print the fabric is white.  This white deepens into a blush shade of pink at the hem of the skirt.
Printed on the pink area are these fancy hearts.  Some are inverted and some are right-side-up.  The hearts are mostly black with some gray areas mixed in.
Under the satin skirt is a black tulle petticoat.
In addition to the dress, Cupid has these cute shoes.
The soles are black, and the straps are pink and white.  The heel of the right shoe is a small bow, and the heel of the left shoe is an arrow.  Pretty cute!

Regarding accessories, Cupid is pretty well endowed.  She has some sort of do-dad on her right arm (probably an arm protector, something that archers tend to need), and this cute bow and arrow ring on her right hand.  It's a real ring, too!
A pair of earrings (a bow and an arrow, no less):
And a plastic purse:
The purse echoes the dripping black motif on the dress, and the bow and arrow theme is replayed as well; the purse's handles are little pink arrows.  It is elaborately painted on one side, but not on the other.
This is open, by the way.  It's not just a hunk of plastic that dangles from Cupid's arm.  It could carry some small items, like her jewelry, or an Icoffin if she had one (Icoffins are the Monster High equivalent of Ipods, seen on Dawn of the Dance dolls).

Cupid may have had plenty of trinkets with which to accessorize, but her extras are few and far between.  She comes with a pink three-piece stand and a card that tells her life story.
Part of that stand is still attached to Cupid.  It fits her very tightly and I was in no mood to wrestle it off again.  Notice that Cupid's card doesn't look a thing like the doll.
The doll is very serious looking, but the card portrays Cupid as a light-hearted, smiling sort.  

Oh yes, there's also this.  I'm not sure where this fits in on the review, but...Cupid has wings.
I love this particular feature, because Cupid's wings are made out of BONES!!!  They've been reshaped to look something like butterfly wings, but they're bones all the same.  If you look closely you can see ribs and a spinal column.  They're even yellowed and cracked, just like real bones look when they've been aged!  
These wings are held around Cupid's neck by a small white arrow.  The white arrow blends in well with the body and looks almost like a choker.
The stand even has a gap that accommodates the lower part of the spinal column, allowing the wings to hang straight when Cupid is on her stand.
That's a pretty cute little touch, but I have to wonder...where did those bones come from???  Is there a side to Cupid's story that we don't know about?  Hmm...let's not discuss that right now.  Regardless of where Cupid got her bony wings, I like those wings very much.

I want to draw your attention now to Cupid's paint job.  We've talked about her face, but her body is also elaborately painted.  She's mostly a snow white color, but her lower arms, hands lower legs, and feet are black.  Both the hands and the legs look like they're covered in lace, which is fitting because Cupid states that lace is one of her favorite fabrics.  She looks almost like she's wearing fancy stockings and gloves.  Woven into this "lace" are more hearts; each leg has three hearts, and each hand has one.
That's a lot of detail for a 10.5-inch doll that only cost twenty-one bucks in American money.  Furthermore, I see no paint flaws anywhere.  Not on her legs, or on her hands.  I don't even see any on her face, and that's saying a lot because these dolls sometimes have flub-ups with their facepaint.  I will note however, that the paint on her legs is very smooth.  I'm not sure if this paint can chip off or not, but I'm taking no chances.  Cupid will be treated with utmost care to prevent any chips that may occur.  Remember how that ring can detach from her finger?  I probably won't be taking it off much, lest I scuff the paint there...or lose the ring...OR BOTH!!!  LOL, I did admit that I'm a fumble-fingers, after all!

Now the verdict.  Would I recommend this doll?  Yes, I would...to a child aged appropriately, or to a teenage or adult collector.  She IS a toy, but if you're planning on giving this doll to your child, make sure to warn her not to brush Cupid's hair; it will become a complete rat's nest, and that style will be difficult to replicate once upset. Cupid's snowy body also could dirty easily, the paint could chip, and the clothes could snag (all the fabrics involved are the kinds that snag if mistreated).  There are also small pieces that could get lost or swallowed.  That being said, I still give C.A. Cupid two thumbs up.  Her facepaint is gorgeous, her outfit is adorable and well-constructed, and she's covered in little details that would make the heart of a collector (or a little girl) sing.  If you love pink but are tired of the same-old, same-old with Draculaura, then C.A. Cupid is for you.  The same goes for any child who loves pink or is a girly girl.  If your daughter is old enough and careful with her things, then she'll probably fall in love with Cupid.
What else is there to say?  I know that a doll review is a paltry and superficial way to pay tribute to little kids, but as I said in the beginning children love toys, and this toy represents a symbol of love.  It will be easy to politicize this tragedy, to start screaming for tougher laws on guns and such, but I'm not going to get on my high horse about that.  I'm just going to publish this and see what happens.  I hope it doesn't sound too superfluous or shallow.  If you have children or if there's a set of kids that you're close to, don't forget to hug them and tell them that you love them.  And don't forget that true to the song, Jesus loves the little children.  Just because children died today doesn't mean He stopped loving them.

God bless Newtown,

UPDATE, 9/24/2017:  I had no idea when I wrote this review, but Cupid and Ghoulia Yelps share a head mold.  See?
Seriously, it took me five years to figure this out, and it took another blog to help me see it.  Kudos to Purple Monkfish for this little tidbit.