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Friday, November 15, 2013

Novi Stars Malie Tasker review

At the end of my recent review of Sila Clops I promised a follow-up.  Well, this is it...sort of!  It's not a Mimi Merize review...nope, still haven't found her yet.  But my search for Mimi has yielded fruit of another sort.  During my regular searches of the local Wal-Marts (and finding nothing but the same old first, second, and third-wave Novi Stars) I fell in love with one of Sila's shelfmates, Malie Tasker.
If you read the Sila Clops review then you may recall that during the good news/bad news segment the "bad" list was fairly long.  Oh sure, Sila's a nice little doll, but she's got some pitfalls that a twenty-dollar doll shouldn't have.  Well!  Almost everything that I DIDN'T like about Sila has been remedied in Malie.  Almost, that is; she still has nylon hair.  It's straight like Sila's, but it's still nylon hair.  Blah.
And she was held to the box by those hateful little plastic tacks, causing her hair to be squashed.
I never will understand why MGA tacks their dolls in so tightly; it seems just a tad unnecessary.  Oh yes, you may have noticed one crucial difference between Sila and Malie already:  Malie has rooted hair.  The rows are widely spaced, but the plugs are nice and thick so Malie's hair looks decent.  Of course, this does mean that Sila STILL doesn't have anyone to swap wigs with, but I'm working on that.

One thing Malie DOES have in common with Sila is two-toned hair.  
Malie's base hair is black like Moxie Teenz Tristen's, and the highlights are a pale greenish-yellow.  They are much brighter on the actual doll than they are on the doll in the promo pics.  Regarding style Malie's hair is similar to Sila's, but there are some slight differences.  She wears her hair long like Sila does, but it is the same length all the way around (Sila's is cut at an angle).
Malie's bangs also are cut differently.  Sila's are cut straight across and are (in my opinion) too long.  Malie's are cut in a rounded shape; they are long in the center and short at the sides.  I prefer Malie's bangs to Sila's because one can see more of Malie's face that way.
Sprouting out of Malie's head are the silver antennae common to Novi Stars.
They are a different shape but are otherwise similar to Sila's antennae.  They fit into holes on Malie's head and don't come out easily.  In fact, I don't think they come out at all!  I've pulled and they don't budge, so I just leave them alone.  Malie's antennae are plain on the back, by the way.  They don't look as good when twisted around like Sila's do, so I won't be twisting them around much.
Now...underneath those shapely bangs is...well, this is strictly my opinion, but this is one of the most lovely color schemes I've ever seen on a doll.  I like how Sila's dark, bold coloring makes her stand out from the other Novis, but I also like Malie's sparkly skin and soft makeup.  So...let's break this down.  Malie has inset eyes like the majority of all Novi Stars.
Her eyes are bright blue and pink, and the pupils have cute little spirals in them.  They're not as spacey as the ambiguous supernova-explosion-looking thing in Sila's eyes, but the color combination makes up for that; they look eerily like the colors of the Rosette Nebula.  As an aside, if you are in the mood to look at something beautiful, go to Google Images and type in "nebula."  God has the art of tie-dying down pat.

LOL, where are we?  Oh yes, we're still on eyes.  The eyelids are fringed with long eyelashes, which are a mainstay in the Novi Star world.  
Malie's eyelashes are bare for the most part, but at the very base the lashes are painted silver.
Above the eyelashes are molded upper eyelids with light pink and pale lavender eyeshadow.
And above that are the polka-dot cyberpunky-looking eyebrows, rendered in two shades of light greenish-blue.
Malie's mouth is the same shade of green as her eyebrows.  It's wider than Sila's mouth and has a bit of a smile to it.  It's also rubbed off a smidge in the center.  Bummer.
The cheeks are subtly blushed.  This didn't photograph well, but trust me:  it's there.  The rest of Malie's head is rendered in hard white vinyl with a pearly sheen on it.  Note that she has cute little pointed ears like Sila's...and most of the other Novi Stars.
When Miss Emily reviewed her first-wave Alie Lectric she reported that Alie's head had a similar pearly coating, and that it appeared to be painted on.  I wondered if the same was true with Malie and attempted to scratch the back of her head.  Nothing came off, so I assume that the color is molded into Malie's vinyl.  Either that or the paint that MGA Entertainment used is made out of Teflon.  

Moving right along, Malie's body.  Her body is white hard plastic with subtle, molded-in sparkles.  Her build is identical to Sila's.
Well...almost identical.  There are these to be seen.
This is Malie's gimmick, and it also explains her name (a play on the term "multi-tasker").  Her arms are made of flexible rubber and according to the package, they're supposed to stretch.  When I read that on the package I was thinking of something like this.
You've probably seen those in vending machines, and you may have even driven your mother bats with one, like I did (LOL).  They are made of this soft, almost snot-like rubber, stretch to insane lengths...and are VERY sticky.  I was expecting Malie's arms to be like this, only without the stickiness, but SURPRISE!!!  The arms aren't sticky, but they're also not stretchy.  They are also do not come off like Sila's arms, and they are not poseable.  No joints at the shoulder, no internal wires, nothing.  They do glow in the dark as advertised, and I'm a sap for anything that glows or lights up so I love this little attribute.  It does make me wonder, though:  why not just make the whole doll glow in the dark?  Malie looks a little peculiar with just her arms glowing like that, almost like she had some sort of mishap with glow-in-the-dark paint...or nuclear waste.  Ewww...anyway, one arm is decked out with this green bracelet.  It's easier to remove than Sila's but it doesn't match her outfit as well.
Before I move on to the rest of the clothes I want to show you one other way that Malie is different from Sila.  Remember Sila's hips and how awkward the joint mobility was?  Well, Mallie doesn't have that problem.  Here's what her hip joints look like:
No elastic anywhere!!!  Selah!  These are constructed similarly to Skelita Calaveras's hip joints and have a great range of movement, much better than Sila's.  Malie can sit without her legs spreading apart like a bimbo on Quaaludes.
And she can do the splits WAY better than Sila can.
Malie's clothing is a fusion of spacey and earthly.  She's got a green kimono-style dress with a pleather belt and a huge yellow bow in the back.  The bottom has a tulle ruffle which adds to the length of the skirt and makes Malie look slightly less bimbo-ized.
The sleeves are unhemmed, which makes me concerned for their longevity.  If I don't pull on it it'll probably be fine, but if you're a parent keep this little tidbit in mind.

Malie's shoes are fairly simple.  They're black high heels with round toes and yellow bands around the soles.  The heel has a notch molded into it.
The soles have holes in them, for a reason that I'll reveal shortly.
As I predicted, dressing and undressing Malie is more of an undertaking.  I have to thread her arms through the holes one...at...a...time.  The armholes in her dress are bigger so they can accommodate both arms, but it's still a dodgy little task.  Her shoes pop off more easily though.  They don't fall off but they do come off with a reasonable amount of force.  As a bonus I don't have to worry about chipping the finish off Malie's heels.

Regarding accessories, Malie has the same stuff that Sila does.  She has a pet, a stand, a brush, and a card that has her info.  The stand is particularly noteworthy.
At first glance it appears to be the same as Sila's; it glows in the dark and has holes that accommodate the shoes.  However, look closer.
The holes that hold the shoes have pegs inside.  Each of these pegs fits a shoe, and these help Malie stay on the stand better.  This is head and shoulders above Sila's stand, which will only hold her if she's positioned just so.

Malie's brush is teal plastic.  I won't be using it on her because plastic brushes do a number on doll hair.
Then there's the pet.  Malie's pet is named 4.0.  She is very grouchy looking and reminds me a little of Tardar Sauce.  Her head swivels just like 1-Eye's head does.
I like 4.0 better than 1-Eye because her face has more character, but for the most part she's another unnecessary little add-on.

Lastly, the info card.
According to the card, Malie is an uber-organized multitasker who wants to hug everyone who needs it.  That little burst of positive energy again made me again think of Sila.  Remember when Sila said she wanted to be a source of light for earth people and extraterrestrials?  Maybe she and Malie are sort of a tag team.
Malie:  "You offer your words of wisdom and I'll provide moral support."
Sila:  "Done deal."

The Novi Stars Wiki offers some extra info which was no doubt on the back of the box.  According to them Malie loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (like me), is good at gymnastics, doesn't understand why mittens only come in pairs, and wants to learn how to juggle.  With four arms, juggling would be a breeze!

Of course, part of the card gives an age.  We went through this little ring-around-the-rosie with Sila, so let's take a look at Malie's age.
Uh-oh.  What on God's green earth is a zettasecond???  Again I turned to Google for help, and I learned that a zettasecond is a real unit of time, with one zettasecond being equivalent about 32 trillion years.  Malie is 11.3 million zettaseconds old, which equals this amount of normal years:  3.5808304 x 1023.  1023 is in the sextillion range and contains at least twenty-three zeros...I think.  Math has never been my strong point.  Basically the card says that Malie is extremely old, older even than Sila.

Okay, so far I've loved almost everything about Malie.  Unfortunately, the party ends with the extra outfits.  I did complain about Sila's stand being unable to accommodate certain styles of shoe, and Malie's stand is the same way.  Oh, if only that were the end of the story!  But no, the problem goes further than that.  Sila may not be able to fit into her stand when wearing the extra outfits, but she can at least wear them!  Malie cannot.
The blue gown looks like it works, but in truth I couldn't get it to fasten in back.  The nightie and the coat won't even fit over Malie's arms, so those options are out.  Basically Malie is unable to wear anything but her stock outfit...and maybe something that someone customizes for her!  That takes us to the good news and the bad news.

*Nylon hair.  That's almost always a negative.
*Stretchy arms don't do much stretching.  They glow as advertised, but they don't stretch, nor do they hold a pose.
*Arms don't come off, either.  Because the arms are stiff and don't come off, Malie can't wear any of the extra outfits available for Novi Stars.
*4.0 has more character than 1-Eye does, but I still don't see the necessity of these pets.  Why not just give Malie an extra outfit, one that she can actually wear?
*Face paint is rubbed off a bit.

*Not wigged.  As much as I'd love for Sila to have someone to share wigs with, I'm thankful for Malie's rooted hair.  It's not constantly falling off or slipping down in her face.
*Lovely colors, especially in the eyes.  The sparkles in Malie's skin don't have the risk of flaking off like Sila's do.
*Hip joint is improved.
*I didn't touch on this in the review, but Malie's head does not come off as easily as Sila's.  It twists, tilts, and turns, but will only come off if you pull hard.
*The stand fits much better.
*Antennae don't come off as easily, so there is less of a risk that they may be lost or swallowed.
*She has the same potential versatility as Sila.  She can be repainted, rebodied, and get some new hair for a completely customized look, like the folks in this blog did.

In short, I think Malie is a much better doll than Sila.  I still wouldn't subject her to my throw-her-across-the-yard-and-see-what-happens test, but she feels more sturdy.  Her hair is rooted and thus I can brush it and just let it go.  She's not constantly falling out of her stand.  She has a lovely color palate and glorious eyes.  As far as I can see, Malie's only major shortcoming is her arms...which unfortunately are her main gimmick.  Yes, they do glow, but they don't stretch much and they can't accommodate any of the other outfits without a battle.  In fact, she can't wear two of those three extra outfits at all because of those arms!  If they came off like Sila's that probably would not be much of a problem, but they don't come off at all and that's a disappointment.  Not much, but if you or your child likes changing a doll's clothes, keep this tidbit in mind.  That said, I still recommend Malie, and I recommend her above Sila and any of the other dolls with frozen legs.  If you have your heart set on a Novi Star and can't find any of the new Super Novas yet, Malie can tide you over.  She may satisfy you enough that you won't want to bother searching for another Novi.  Or, if you're a glutton like me, she'll tide you over until you can find one more to review...yes, I am seeking out yet another Novi Star to review.  I want to see if one with frozen legs can still make a satisfying plaything.  Tula Toned may be the one I choose, just so I can round out the second wave.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Clothes for Older American Girls, part three: Madame Alexander and Our Generation

This is another post about my trials and errors with eighteen-inch doll clothes.  I've shown you my Madame Alexander dolls and how their clothes look on American Girl dolls (they don't fit).  Today I'll introduce a couple of new arrivals.  One is a doll we've seen before, but with a slightly different body, and the other is a new breed entirely.
Alissa, on the left, is a Madame Alexander "My Life" doll.  She is different from my other MA dolls in that her arms and legs are flexible.  Sadie, on the right, is a Battat Our Generation doll.  The OG dolls are available from Target and come in a wide array of hair colors, eye colors, and ethnicities.  They have two styles of body, one with flexible limbs like Alissa's, and one without.  Sadie has the nonbending limbs and a thick stuffed body like Denise's.  Thus the clothing I have is hit-and-miss on her.  Most of my MA dresses are too small for Sadie.  The pink princess dress does fit and looks quite nice, but is very tight in the bodice.
The rest of the dresses I have are too tight.  Alexander pants are also too tight; as you can see, I couldn't even pull them up over her butt.
The shoes run the gamut from being just right...
...to being too big.
Based on those results I've drawn the conclusion that Our Generation dolls have a similar build to the old-style American Girl dolls and thus might be able to share clothes.  I don't have any extra outfits for Sadie right now, so I'll have to use her stock dress to try this out.  I'm going to try this on both Denise and Alissa.  Denise goes first, and...
It fits PERFECTLY.  I was not expecting this after a long list of no-go's with Madame Alexander clothes, but Sadie's factory outfit fits Denise like a charm.  Of course I want to get a couple of extra outfits and try those on her too, but this particular outfit works from top to toe.

After that it seems a little pointless to try this outfit on Alissa, but I'm going to do it anyway.
It's a little big, but it looks cute on Alissa too.  She doesn't stand well in these shoes, however.  Due to her wire armature the legs needed careful positioning and repositioning, and even then she wanted to tip over.  OG shoes have a slight heel, so keep that in mind if you're going to put these on Madame Alexander dolls with a wire frame.  The heel is not an issue for American Girls or for Our Generation dolls.

Since Alissa has a different body from Gracie I think it will be worth the effort to see how the hiking outfit works on her.  Remember that this outfit fit Gracie, but the shorts were a bit tight on her.  Not too tight, but tight enough that I didn't try to make Gracie sit in them.  Based on the fact that Alissa and the hiking outfit are both from the My Life line, I know that Alissa will be able to wear the hiking outfit, and I hypothesize that she'll be able to wear it better than Gracie.
My hypothesis proved correct.  Alissa CAN wear the outfit better than Gracie can.  She can stand in it, sit in it, and move about in it.  This makes me look forward to warmer weather; I can take Alissa out and take some photos then!

So...three blog posts, three types of doll, what do I have so far?  I've learned that the current Madame Alexander dolls can wear their own clothes, American Girl clothes, and Our Generation clothes.  The older, Pleasant Company-era American Girls can wear some Our Generation clothes but almost nothing else.  Our Generation dolls can wear American Girl clothes and the occasional Madame Alexander piece.  I'll need to try some other OG pieces on Denise before I make my final assessment, but as of right now that option is looking extremely promising.  Hopefully I'll have some new OG duds by the twentieth, when I'll be near a Target again; it's getting quite cold here in Missouri, and Sadie needs a coat.  We haven't had the snow that parts of the country have had, but it's still quite chilly out.

Stay warm, y'all!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

On Monster High dolls, Zelfs, and another Novi Star

Today was a very busy day for my mother and me.  We were out of pet food and kitty litter, so we took a little trip, throwing in a little shopping while we were at it.  My mother picked up some birthday presents for my sister's fiance, and I picked up a couple of things that I've had on my want list.  We made multiple stops in three different towns and are thus very tired.  Reviews will not come tonight, but I'll throw y'all a bone to chew on until I get the pictures taken and edited.  One of the things I got today is this Monster High Create-A-Monster set.  I chose the Ice Girl/Blob Girl set.
Miss Emily reviewed one of the first CAM sets that came out, the Werewolf/Dragon set.  The concept at the time was terrific, but the sets only came with one torso and one wig per set, and the wigs that did come with the sets were of HIDEOUS quality.  Miss Emily has seen and reviewed a great many dolls with varying qualities of hair, so she knows bad hair when she sees it!  Anyway, the Werewolf/Dragon set did not make the grade with her.  I was considering buying one of the sets myself at the time, but after seeing the hair on Miss Emily's dolls I decided to wait and see if the CAM sets improved.  Mattel is good at rectifying problems that crop up with their products, and after viewing promo pics of the second-wave CAM sets I saw that two of the problems I listed (only one body and only one wig) had indeed been fixed.  But I'm not going to give you my overall opinions here.  You'll have to wait for the review...or you can read this one, by Voicething.

I also got this today.  This is Elfa, a Zelf.
Zelfs are a fairly new thing; Beastsbelle has several of them and she loves them.  They're a lot like the trolls that I used to collect back during the 1990's.  Seriously, I must've had about a hundred of those ugly little goomers before I finally grew out of them.  Anyway, these Zelfs are a lot like trolls, only with joints (most of my Trolls were all one piece).  LOL, even my mother's reaction to the Zelfs was the same; she saw Elfa and said "Those are UGLY!!!  Just like those old trolls you used to like!"  To each her own, Mother.  I happen to find Zelfs extremely cute.  There's not much to them but they ARE cute, and I'm going to enjoy reviewing Elfa.

Lastly, I have another Novi Star.  Her name is Malie Tasker.
I didn't get Malie today.  I've had her a couple of weeks; in fact, I think that I was still working on my Sila Clops review at the time.  Sila had some things that I took issue with, so I bought a second Novi Star to see how they compared (Miss Emily did a similar thing with her first two La Dee Da dolls).  I examined the dolls that Wal-Mart had available and Malie was the one who caught my eye.  Like Sila, she was on sale, so I grabbed her.

So now!  Long story short, I've got three reviews that I need to complete in the next couple of weeks.  The review on Malie is partially done already and Elfa is a simple little doll, so it shouldn't take too long.  Hopefully I'll have them up before November 20th; I'm having an eye exam that day.  My left eye isn't healing the way it should, so my doctor wants to see me again.  I'm praying that it won't need another zapping, but it might so keep me in your prayers!

Love always,

Friday, November 8, 2013

C.A. Cupid and Skelita Calaveras revisited

Last December I reviewed C.A. Cupid, a Monster High doll.  In the time since that post C.A. Cupid was retired from the Monster High line and used as the crossover character for Ever After High, a spin-off of the Monster High series.  Now, I love the concept of Ever After High.  Basically you take the progeny of a bunch of fairy tale characters (Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, etc), put them in school together, divide them up into two different..."teams," and follow their lives.  That's Ever After High in a nutshell.  It's a great idea...but I'm not in love with the dolls.  So far all of the girl characters have had the same face mold and thus look very, VERY similar to one another.  Here's what the first four characters look like.
Yeah that picture's huge, but I believe you get the point.  Don't get me wrong, these dolls are wonderfully planned out.  They've got oodles of little character-related details and from what I've read online, they're well-made.  But their faces are all the same!!!  It should also be worth noting that none of these characters are Cupid.  Cupid is the link between Monster High and Ever After High, and she doesn't even make it to the first wave lineup.

Fast-forward a few months.  C.A. Cupid is apparently in the prototype stage, because promo pics have been released.  Here's what she looks like.
That's a pretty far cry from Monster High's interpretation of the doll.
In spite of the fact that Ever After High's Cupid doll has the exact same head as ALL THE OTHER CHARACTERS, I'm probably going to seek her out.  It will be interesting to see how two versions of the same character compare, especially since Mattel made both of these.

More recently I reviewed Skelita Calaveras and in my opinion, Mattel knocked that one out of the park.  Oh sure, I had some criticisms, but she's still a great doll.  One of the things that I did take issue with my Skelita is the lack of marigolds; given Skelita's Day of the Dead theme and the importance of marigolds to Day of the Dead, I thought she'd have at least one conspicuous marigold.  I should've been more patient.  Look at this:
This is Art Class Skelita, and she's got plenty of...well, maybe they're not marigolds, but they certainly LOOK like them!  She's got those flowers on her skirt and in her hair, and I can't tell from either picture but there may be some on her shoes as well.  Nice!  I've never purchased more than one of the same character in the Monster High line, but I might this time.  From what I can see here, this new Skelita is fantastic!  I can't wait to see if those really are marigolds.  I'm also interested in finding out if Mattel made any changes to the body; another issue I had with first-wave Skelita was the body, and how bendy it was in places.  This could be an opportunity for Mattel to rectify that.  If they don't, that's okay...but I hope they do because the bendy body felt just a hair flimsy.

As a final little tangent, I want to announce to my rather small audience...THAT MY SISTER IS ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  She has only been with her boyfriend (now fiance) since early spring, but he's a fine young man and treats her like a queen.  I'd prefer that she marry him than marry the old boyfriend!  I'm very thankful that my sister has him in her life (and vice versa), and I pray that it will be a long, happy marriage.  

Very truly yours,