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Thursday, February 28, 2013

President Barbie review

This is the second of my Barbie/Barbie-sized Christmas dolls.  She is the President...or at least, what Barbie would look like if she were President.  WARNING:  this doll has a unique set of joints and is partially nude in some pics to show these joints.  Proceed with caution.
BarbieCollectors.com says that she is no longer available, but some versions of this doll are still in stores.  Mattel released four versions of this doll:  white, black, Latina, and Asian.  Mine is the Asian version; I thought she was the prettiest, and I love Oriental dolls.  She reminds me of one of my favorite political figures, the beautiful and intelligent Michelle Malkin.  And Michelle she has become.

Before I get into the review, it's time for my usual tangent.  Note how I said in the last paragraph that some versions of these dolls are still in stores?  I have been to five different Wal-Marts, one K-Mart, two Targets, two Big Lots, and one Toys R Us, and the vast majority of the dolls in stock are the Caucasian version.  To compound matters, the Caucasian doll is your typical cookie-cutter Barbie:  blonde, blue-eyed, with a big dippy grin on her face.  Why, oh why, must the majority of white playline Barbie dolls look like that?  There ARE brunettes and redheads in this world that like to be represented too.  Anyway, during my search I occasionally saw a couple of black dolls or Latinas in stock, but TRU was the one and only place that had my beautiful Asian doll.  Lo and behold, I didn't have money...but my sister did.  On the day that I obtained Moonlight Dance Daniela, my sister nipped over to TRU, found my coveted Asian president...and ripped the very last one out of another woman's hands!  According to Sister, said woman was furious and yelled various explicatives down the isle, insisting that the doll was "for her granddaughter."  My sister gave her some sass right back and left the store with the doll.  My doll.  The last one in the store.  I feel pretty darn lucky to have her...and such an awesome sister!

Tangent over, let's look at Michelle:
She's a lot more simplistic than Lucy is.  Her hair is straight and black with a deep side part.
She has a very attractive face, with brown, almond-shaped eyes.  Her eyes are highlighted with pink eye shadow and an outer layer of shimmery stuff.  She has brown eyebrows and long painted eyelashes.
I'm not a huge fan of that pink crap around her eyes.  I'm not a makeup expert, but I don't think the pink eye shadow matches.  Brown or gold would've been better.

Michelle's mouth has an open smile.  Her lips are pink.
Again, I'm not a huge fan of the color.  It is washed out in this pic; the color matches the clothes that she's wearing, but I don't find it particularly flattering.

Speaking of what she's wearing, let's take a gander at Michelle's clothing.
Michelle wears a three-piece suit, or rather, an outfit that looks like one:  she has a jacket, blouse, and skirt.  The "blouse" is actually a panel of baby pink stretch material sewn into the front of the jacket.  It has a slight sparkle to it.
The rest of the jacket and skirt are made of thick hot pink material that I can't visually identify.  The pink has an acid-washed effect to it.  It looks almost like it was hand-dyed, which I love.  This material has no stretch to it whatsoever, and I don't love that.
The jacket has a gathered patriotic edging on each seam.
There's also this button.
It's the Barbie logo, but in this case it serves as a campaign button.  It is sewn on.

The skirt is a pencil skirt.  It has three horizontal gathers at the top and fits Michelle very tightly.  The skirt is so tight that I had difficulty maneuvering it over her shoes.  These dolls are best left dressed.
Michelle's jewelry is minimalistic.  She wears a plastic "pearl" necklace and matching earrings, both of which proved to be near impossible to photograph.  Not that there was much need anyway; the jewelry is plain white plastic.

What Michelle lacks in jewelry, she makes up for in some very interesting footwear.  Check these shoes out:
Pink, of course...no shock there.  They are enormous slingback wedges with a very unusual shape.  There is a good reason for their odd shape.
The 2012 President dolls are billed as the first Barbies that can stand on their own.  Michelle can do this, but she has to be carefully balanced on a hard, flat surface.  She does faceplant sometimes, but like all play dolls she can take the abuse.  One other thing of note is that those shoes are molded to Michelle's feet.  She can't take them off AT ALL.  I've seen molded shoes on Barbie dolls before, but they were always flat shoes.  This is the first time I've ever seen molded high heels on a Barbie.

That takes us into the body.  Again, I have never seen a Barbie body like this.  Michelle has a one-piece torso with the standard swivel neck and ball-jointed shoulders.  Her arms are jointed at the elbow and wrist:
The range of mobility in these joints is lousy, however.  This is as far as I can bend either joint, and I even took her tight jacket off to free up those joints!
These joints are so hard to pose that even the position below is a challenge:
Compare this to Katniss and Alexandria (Barbie Fashionistas Wild), both of whom have similar arms.
Breathe easy, Katniss...this isn't President Snow.

Alexandria can fold her arms like a champ.  Katniss cannot cross her arms, but she can bend her arms to a much sharper angle than Michelle can.  Overall, Michelle's arms are more similar to Katniss's than they are to Alexandria's.  It's a bit odd that Michelle the toy would have similar arms to Katniss the collectors' item, and not to Alexandria the other toy.

Odd as Michelle's arms are, they were nowhere near as big a surprise to me as her legs!
They look normal at first sight, but these dolls do NOT have the rubber click-knee legs that the majority of my other playline Barbie dolls do.  Nor does she have external knee joints like Alexandria and Katniss do.  Heck, she doesn't even have the wimpy peg joints that Musa and Artemis have!  Michelle's legs are all hard, probably hollow, plastic.  The knees do not bend AT ALL!!!
Michelle does have mobility at the hips, obviously.  However, this movement is drastically restricted by that tight skirt.  In all, Michelle has nine joints.  That's more than the three that my Stardoll has, but it's nothing like most of the play dolls available right now.
Michelle and Raven compare arms.

Under normal circumstances I'd find it odd for a play doll to have such stiff legs.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it makes sense.  This doll's main gimmick is being able to stand on her own, right?  If she had rubber bendy legs OR jointed legs like most of my other dolls, then she probably would not have the strength to stand on her own.  But then again, I do have dolls who can stand perfectly well on their own...and they have jointed knees.  Again, we turn to Katniss for a demonstration.
Katniss has jointed knees and flat feet, plus some very substantial boots, and she can stand on her own.  Thus it is indeed possible to make a doll with bendable knees that can stand unaided.  Therefore I don't know what Mattel's deal is with the President dolls.  Perhaps they didn't want to take a chance with any dolls not being able to stand?  Maybe they feared warped legs, like Artemis and Musa have?  Or maybe those high heeled shoes threw things off a bit?  I don't know.  Your guess is as good as mine.  If any of y'all have actual, verifiable information about why Mattel designed this doll this way, please give me a holler.

So let's sum it up.  This doll has good things and bad things, and my mother always taught me to break the bad news first, so here goes.

*Poor posability.  The doll's arms are stiff, and the legs only have a hip joint to keep them from qualifying as "frozen."
*Standing feature isn't the greatest.  You have to play with her a bit to get her to cooperate.
*The clothes are too "Barbie."  Nothing but pink, pink, and more pink, with only a bit of patriotic ribbon to break it all up.
*Certain ethnicities are hard to find!  In my area, only the blonde doll was ubiquitous.  The other three were very hard to find.  Either they were more sought-after by collectors and children alike, or there were just fewer of them.  Again, I don't know which of those is the true story; maybe both are true!
*I'm not a huge fan of the pink makeup; it doesn't look good with her skin.
*Not too versatile.  If I were playing Barbies with my little cousin, I could see Michelle playing the president she is supposed to be, or a lawyer, or a businesswoman.  But that's about it.

*In spite of the instability, this doll does stand.  Once I have her in the right position she stands very solidly.  She lives up to her promises...unlike certain other politicians!  LOL
*The lack of posability adds a certain degree of durability to this doll; she feels very sturdy when I pick her up, though I am not willing to subject her to my "throw the doll across the yard and see what happens" test (LOL again).
*No warped legs!
*The molded shoes won't fall off and get lost.
*Nice hair.  Soft, smooth, and yet not ridiculously long like some other Barbie dolls.
*The clothes are an unusual shade of pink.  Michelle's suit looks like it's been acid-washed, or maybe tie-dyed.  Furthermore, that pink may actually be a blessing in disguise; instead of the Republican red, Independent white, or Democratic blue, she's her own party's color.
*The clothes are well made.  They feel like seersucker or some sort of ridged fabric like that.  I wouldn't mind wearing a suit like that myself...in a different color, of course!
*This doll is not very pretentious.  Mattel said she is supposed to be the President, and she looks the part.
*She's pretty!
*She looks like the ethnic group she's supposed to portray, without being too stereotyped.
*My particular doll is a gift, which is always a positive.

Perhaps the most important good thing is that she's unique.  There's something about this doll that I just can't put my finger on.  She doesn't blend in with all the others.  When I put her on my shelf with the other dolls I have on display, she had a very commanding presence.  If my dolls were alive, I could see them flocking to her for advice and leadership.
"Vote with your lady smarts, not your lady parts!"

Maybe all that pink is a benefit after all!  Or maybe those stiff legs are what does it.  Either way, this is a very special doll.  Hats off to my beloved sister for bringing her home to me!

Happy last day of February!