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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cutie Pops vs. Bratzillaz, part one: Cutie Pops Candi

Whew, it's been a crazy couple of weeks!  With schoolwork tests, birthdays and family get-togethers this twentysomething hasn't had time to think, let alone blog about dolls.  My schedule is finally freed up a bit, so it's time to get on with reviewing my other two birthday dolls like I said I would.  As you may or may not recall (depending on whether you saw my last blog or not), I have both a Cutie Pops doll (parent company is Jada Toys) and a Bratzillaz doll (MGA Entertainment), just ripe and ready for review.  My original intention was to cover both of them in one review, but there's A LOT to talk about for both dolls.  So I'm splitting this review into two so they'll be easier for you, my dear viewers, to read.  Here's what they look like side by side:
Candi (left) and Meygana

They are worlds apart in the appearance department, but there are a number of reasons why I'm comparing these two particular dolls.  One is the cost; both of these dolls retail for about twenty bucks in this part of the U.S.  They may be higher or lower than that in other places, depending on demand and availability.  But around here, they're both twenty bucks.  One also gets a lot of bang for their buck with these two dolls; both come with accessories and gimmicks that could potentially make them fun play items.  Another reason is quality.  The dolls have marked differences in quality, as you will see as you read the reviews.

This blog entry will focus on Candi, the Cutie Pops doll.  First though, a bit of back info.  Cutie Pops are dolls that I hadn't heard of until recently; they have a page on Facebook, a commercial running on the cartoon channels, and a couple of groups on Flickr, but I'd never heard of them until...oh, maybe a month and a half ago.  Even then I wasn't sure I wanted one; they are strictly toys, and they looked a little goofy with their huge heads and eyes.  The Toy Box Philosopher's blog finally sealed the deal with her superb review on Cookie.  I absolutely HAD to have one after that!  Hmm...it seems like a lot of the dolls I review are dolls that Miss Emily has done first!

Anyways, the name Cutie Pops is a reference to the decorations and accessories that these dolls come with.  Their hair, eyes, and the decorations on their hair and dresses all "pop" on and off.  Plus, they're cute!  Voila, Cutie Pops!  So far Jada Toys has released four characters:  ChiffonCookie, Candi (this doll), and Starr.  A fifth character named Carmel is in the wings.  The plastic "pop" decorations coordinate with the doll's name and theme; Cookie, for example, has cookie-shaped pops on her dress and hair, and Candi has, well, candy!  In addition to the dolls, Jada Toys has released extra clothes, hair, pop packs, and pets for each doll.  The pets in turn coordinate with the doll they are supposed to "belong" to; Starr's dog is in the package with her (thus Starr is a bit more pricey than the other girls).  I do not have Candi's dog Lolli yet, but I intend to, because she's really cute.  When I do get her, well, you know the drill!

Okay, time to start!  Here's what Candi looks like:
She is 11 inches tall from head to toe.  Her hair is the most eye-catching part of her (for me, anyway), so I'll start there.  Candi has two pairs of pigtails, one pair made up of this bright rainbow yarn, and the other comprised of dark brown, curly hair.  These hair extensions attach to Candi's head with plugs; she has two heart-shaped holes in her head, and each hole accommodates one plug of hair.  The plugs stay in pretty well, but will come off if you pull on them with any amount of force, so keep that in mind.  They may also fall out if the doll falls over, so keep that in mind as well.  Here's what they look like.
I am unsure what material makes up the hair pigtails, but it certainly isn't nylon!  Nylon, if you recall from my Featherageous Jade review, is the stiff, course, easily-tangled crap that MGA uses on practically ALL of their dolls...including the Bratzillaz.  That will be key to Meygana's review.  But these fibers are definitely not nylon.  They are silky, smooth, and easy to finger-comb.  I've run into some tangles, but they weren't a huge headache to get loose.  The yarn hair feels like acrylic yarn, which is both hypoallergenic and washable (unlike wool and some other yarns). One thing of note about Candi's yarn hair is that she only has one type of yarn.  Cookie, Chiffon, and Star all have at least two different sets of yarn in their plugs, but Candi has only this rainbow stuff.  The best explanation I can think of for this would be that the colors of the yarn stand out well enough on their own, and don't need other decorations.

Right then.  Two sets of eyes, one open and one closed, are also in tow.  Candi's open set of eyes are black, with blue, green, pink, and purple bands bordering the pupil.  A sparkly lollipop and a small white heart are painted into the pupils.  The closed eyes have multicolored stripes painted on them, along with the same rainbow heart eyelashes.
Both sets are colorful, cute, and in with the theme, but the open eyes are very busy and a smidge vacant.  The glitter on the closed eyes is a little heavy-handed, particularly on the left eye (our right).

Underneath the eye pops are some painted eyes and heart-shaped holes that accommodate the pops.  And this is where I'd like to give a thumbs up to Jada Toys; not only are there painted eyes (so she won't be blind if the pops go missing), but the characters have different eye colors.  Cookie's eyes are blue, for example, and my Candi's eyes are brown
This aspect of the doll gave my sister the creeps.

Since we're on the subject of faces, let me point out something with my Candi.  Notice her mouth.
I don't know how well you can see in that picture, but she has what appears to be a smear or a chip on the lower lip.  Normally that's not acceptable for me; I only overlooked it because I was bound and determined to get Candi right then and there, and this one was the only one in the store.  It's a pretty shade of pink, though.  Not unlike a shade I wore in high school, in fact.  And it's a fairly easy fix if you're good with a paintbrush.  Just beware of paint flaws when shopping for these dolls.  The rest of Candi's facepaint is fine; she has shimmery heart-shaped blush patches on her cheeks, which are cute but still subtle enough to prevent Candi from looking like a clown.

Candi's clothes are cute and well-made at first glance.  She is wearing a denim jumper dress, striped stockings, pink shoes, and cute little bows in her hair.  There is no jewelry, which is a shame; Jada Toys could have made earring pops or something like that.  Oh well, can't have everything.
First, that dress.  It's denim with red satin ribbon straps, and it has plastic heart-shaped holes to accommodate six pops.  There is a polka dot ribbon around the waist, and the bottom is edged with eyelet lace.  The dress is topped off with rainbow rick-rack and what appears to be tulle along the top of the bodice.  The back closes with Velcro, the cheap kind that loses its tack through the years.  I may have to remedy that in the future, but no biggie for now.  Here is what the dress looks like unadorned.
The pink hearts are where the pops snap in.  They come on and off quite easily, easily enough that two pops fell off the first time I knocked Candi off her shelf (something that happens quite often in my cluttered room).

The stockings are striped and cover her entire body from waist to toe, which surprised and pleased me.  Cookie's stockings do not have feet, and I was not expecting Candi's to, either.  The material is a soft, stretchy knit.
A hole in a knit material like this would be a death sentence, but the construction of these stockings is surprisingly robust (not thin like pantyhose).  Unless you or your child is unnecessarily rough with these, they should hold up.

Lastly, the shoes.  They're nothing special, just pink ankle-strap shoes with green bows.  The fit is perfect, though; they stay on, but still come off easily.  Plus, they fit over those stockings.  Excellent!
They have slits cut in the back for easy removal, similar to LIV shoes.

With regards to accessories, Candi has a lot of them.  In addition to her extra hair and eyes, she has two pairs of hair ribbons, both of which match some part of her dress.  Each ribbon pops into a heart-shaped hole on the plastic base of the hair plugs, and each ribbon has a hole for one pop.  These are switchable and mix-and-matchable.
A pink heart-shaped hairbrush, which has holes for pops if one chooses to go that route:
And lastly, ten candy-shaped pops:
These pops work by snapping into the holes on Candi's dress and ribbons.  They can also fit the other dolls, the pets, and the spare outfits and hair plugs that are available.  You can do darn near anything with those pops--switch them, mix them, match them, leave them as they came in the box, take them all off...the possibilities are endless!  Just don't eat them, they aren't real candy.  If you're a parent, be sure to warn your kids that these pops are not edible!

I also have an extra outfit and hair set for Candi; this is the Outdoors set.  The outfit works the same way as her dress, and the extra hair sets are silky and smooth, just like the doll's factory hair.  One thing of note is the hair ribbons:  if you buy the outfit and the hair, you get two sets of hair ribbons to mix and match.  Here's the full outfit.
The top is fluffy with a knitted front, colorful knitted sleeves, and holes to hold two pops.
The lower pop keeps falling off, and it does this no matter what part of the doll's outfit I put it on.  After one of the dogs almost ate it, I pasted it onto the top with clear nail polish remover.  Not a permanent solution, but it keeps it on there.  I wasn't wanting a permanent fix anyway.  Kinda defeats the purpose of having pop-on decorations.

Check out this sleeve, though:
I'm not sure whether that hole was caused by those cursed little plastic things that held the top into the package, or if I did it myself with the nail scissors I was using.  Either way, there's a hole, and in knitted fabric that can be disastrous.  Again, I applied clear nail polish to keep the thread from running.  I may sew on a button or a patch to hide that.

The jeans are denim or denim-type fabric, and have holes to accommodate four pops.  They have flared legs like bell-bottoms, but are shorter like gaucho pants.  The bottom hem of the legs have yellow ruffles.
She doesn't sit too well in these.

The boots are yellow and have a molded quilted pattern with hearts on the side.  The toes also have hearts on them.  Orange molded socks peek out over the top.  They remind me a bit of Ugg boots.  Once again, the shoes have slits cut in them.  I'm a fumble fingers when it comes to doll shoes, so I'm extremely grateful for these slits.
The outfit also comes with hair ribbons; they are pink and fuzzy and match the top.  I absolutely LOVE the texture of these!  They're so soft!  The top is too, for that matter.
I have an extra hair/eye set for Candi as well.  There are three sets like this, one for each outfit.  Oddly, these are packaged separately from the outfits themselves.  Perhaps putting the two together would've driven the price up too much.  Anyway, here's what the Outdoors hair set looks like.

The open eyes have pink heart lashes, while the pupils are green with hearts and cute little cupcakes.  The closed eyes have rainbow heart eyelashes and rainbow lids.  They are very similar to the stock eyes that Candi comes with, but there is more yellow going on in the mix.
While manipulating these eyes I learned that the eyeliner is actually the color of the base plastic!  Talk about a "well, duh!" moment!  I'm so thick-skulled sometimes.  Anyway, these eyes are printed on blue plastic, different from the black plastic of the stock eyes.  It adds a cute effect, just like eyeliner.

The hair is also mostly yellow, with faint pink streaks.  It is straight in places and crimped in others, and is very long.  Like Candi's stock hair, the accessory hair is soft and silky.  Another pair of hair ribbons comes with the hair.
It looks pale blonde in the pics, but trust me--it's yellow!

The ribbons for this set are pink sheer material.  They don't match a thing about either Candi's new outfit or her stock outfit, but the pops help pull the look together.
The set also came with this thing:
I thought it was a holder for the pops, which would have been helpful, but it turned out to be a bracelet with holes for three pops.  It fits around my wrist, but I'm probably not going to be wearing it anywhere.

These dolls are extremely easy to dress and undress, by the way.  If you have children you may have to help them with the shoes, but other than that these are pretty kid-friendly.  Now, let's take off the clothes again and give that body a looksie.  LOL, I hope that didn't sound too suggestive!  As I have noted before, poseability is a big thing in the doll world these days.  Candi and the other Cutie Pops dolls are average in terms of poseability.  They have ball-and-socket shoulders that swing back and forth and rotate outwards.
In other words, the shoulder joint common to dolls everywhere.

The torso is one-piece.  No joints here!
It's nicely sculpted, though.  Candi has visible bone structure, but she doesn't have a tiny little wasp waist like other dolls.  She doesn't have huge bosooms like Barbie does.  She doesn't have a massively arched back like the Monster High dolls.  Her body looks...normal.  Completely normal.  And there's molded underwear, thank God.  For some reason, toy dolls without molded underwear really bother me.  It's just a hangup of mine!

Their legs are jointed at the hip and the knee; the hip has some side-to-side movement (but not a lot), and the knee bends to a forty-five degree angle.
The jointed knees help her to sit, though she can't kneel.  Her legs are molded so that she can cross her legs if you want her to.  In fact, she looks downright cute that way!  She has to use her arms to balance when she sits, though.
That ding on her lip doesn't show too terribly!

The neck tips and swivels, but my Candi's neck joint is a little stiff.  It needs to be flexed a bit before I try to move it.  The elbows are not jointed at all, much to my chagrin.  One would think that a doll with jointed knees would also have jointed elbows, but that's not the case for the Cutie Pops.  The last of the LIV dolls were like that as well, and their arms weren't even straight like Cutie Pop arms are!  A lot of LIV fans were disappointed by that drop in quality, including me.  Heavens, it was those arms that led me to decide NOT to purchase a LIV For Color doll.  I felt that strongly about it and do not regret my decision.  But in the case of the Cutie Pops dolls, maybe those stiff little arms serve a purpose; remember she can't sit up without them.  Or maybe joints on such slender little arms would've been so costly that the dolls would've taken a quality hit?  Who knows?  I don't!

Based on my both my personal experience and the expert reviews of Miss Emily, I highly recommend the Cutie Pops dolls, both for children and for adult collectors.  Jada Toys has really hit a home run with these and could potentially make a killing financially.  These dolls are fun, colorful, and innocent; their frilly dresses bring to mind childhood and clothes that are appropriate for children to wear (remember that modesty is an issue for some parents).  The hair is lovely, though I do advise care in handling Candi's curls.  They ARE fiber, after all.  If not properly cared for, they can still tangle up and make a heckuva mess.  Kinda like good ol' Barbie's hair; we all know how her hair can be at times, and 95% of modern-day dolls don't even have super-long hair.  Keep your eye on that paint, since some of the dolls have flaws on their faces.  The clothes are of good quality and construction, but the pops can "pop" off (or even FALL off) quite easily and are small enough to be swallowed.  If you have very young children I DO NOT recommend the Cutie Pops dolls until your child is older.  And keep these away from pets; my dog tried to eat one of Candi's pops when it fell off.  Dogs love to swallow things, and cats tend to swat small items around, so make sure your pets are kept well away from those pops.  Other than those issues, the Cutie Pops are fine.  I give them two thumbs up.

Keep your eyes peeled for part two!

Go Cardinals!

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