I don't know if any of my readers are Chinese (I'm definitely not), but today is the Chinese New Year so I'm going to have a bit of fun. It's the year of the metal horse, not my symbol or my element (I'm a rabbit, and my element is fire). But given the fact that this is Ana Ming's review, and the fact that her name suggests Chinese blood, I'm willing to pretend that the horse is her symbol and metal is her element.
Neigh! Or is it a "yay" moment?
The Carpatina company is based out of Nashua, New Hampshire. The company creates dolls (seven girls and two boys) and two lines of clothing, one line for their own dolls, and another line for American Girls called the Girlfriends Collection (Carpatina dolls are slimmer than the highly-popular American Girl dolls, hence the need for two sets of clothing). Both lines have contemporary, historical, international, and fantasy-themed clothing, plus sleepwear, shoes, small pieces of jewelry, and other accessories. One important accessory is this necklace:
Kohanna, a Japanese schoolgirl, and Julia, whose nationality is neither specified nor implied. Confused yet? It gets worse. Flaxen-haired Adam, one of the boys, is Ana Ming's brother. The other boy, Carter, is Adam's best friend. The moonstones that Aunt Cordelia bestowed upon the girls enables the whole crowd to go on fantastic, impossible adventures; Kohanna's catalog bio explains that with the stone, all you have to do is wish yourself there. Apparently the same could be done by people of the past; Medieval princess Veronika is referred to as "a visitor of the past through the gift of a magical moonstone." Even modern-day fashionistas Zoe and Erin get in on the action, travelling to the past to get ideas for new fashions in today's world. Celtic princess Rowena is the only one left out so far; nothing in her descriptions mention a moonstone.
Okay, that's quite enough of a tangent! I learned about the Carpatina company from an advertisement in an old issue of Doll Reader. The issue is at least a decade old so I thought "okay, it'll be another one of those websites that I missed out on because I had my head up my butt." Not so! Not only was the website active, but it had plenty of items to choose from. After much deliberation I chose Ana Ming and some extra outfits. Here's what Ana Ming looks like up close.
I'm pretty sure these occurred during my struggle to get her out of the box; she was tied in, I couldn't get enough leverage to pull her out, and the whole shebang, box, doll, and all, went flying off the couch. I try to be careful with my dolls, so I'm ticked about that. Based on this misadventure and the fact that I'd owned the doll all of five minutes, I concluded that these dolls are NOT for young children unless they're extremely careful with their things. The website says "ages eight and up," and I'd definitely concur.
I was irked with myself over this mishap and I'm still not thrilled over it, but I can live with it because Ana Ming has a beautiful face. According to the story her mother is Oriental, so she would have to be at least half that. Her features concur with that part of the story; her eyes are brown and slightly oblong.
Regarding hair, Carpatina dolls are wigged. Ana Ming's wig is straight, black, and fairly long.
Carpatina (left) and My Life
My future brother-in-law and I both tinker around with steampunk subculture, so I redressed Ana Ming as soon as I got her out of the box so he could see what the outfit looked like (he liked it). When Ana Ming is fresh out of the box she is wearing an outfit common to Chinese women called a qipao, or cheongsam (either term is correct).
Beanbunny.com points out that these are should be made out of brocade, should always have a slit, should possess a mandarin collar, and should never have piping on the edge. Based on these criteria, I think the folks at beanbunny.com would be pleased. Brocade? Check.
Okay, next criteria. Slit present? Check. Notice that the dress is lined.
The shoes are basic slip-on flats and are made of the same material as the dress. The soles are white foam, and I'm not sure what the insides are made of, but they're stiff.
Underneath the qipao Ana Ming wears a simple little pair of white panties with picoted edges. The waistband is tight, so I haven't tried to take these off. Underneath these her body is completely vinyl. Ana Ming's body is strung, jointed at the hips, shoulders, and neck. Her arms don't have much mobility, though. She can hold them up:
I love the neck joint. It can pivot and tilt, something that not a lot of similar-sized dolls can do.
Carpatina dolls are in the "slim-body" category. They are thus skinnier than American Girl dolls and Our Generation dolls.
American Girl, Carpatina and Our Generation
American Girl Denise and Our Generation Sadie are both chunkier than Ana Ming is. They are both thick enough that they'd NEVER be able to squeeze into her clothes. Furthermore, this means that the clothes that I highlighted in my past posts about American Girl clothing (part 1, part 2, and part 3) will be too big for Ana Ming to wear. Sadie's dress looks adorable, but it's big at the waist. Her shoes are also too big, which is a shame because Ana Ming can stand in them quite nicely.
stained Denise's arms. With those options out, that leaves Madame Alexander. Madame Alexander dolls are slimmer than AG dolls, but still chunkier than Carpatina dolls.
MA My Life and Carpatina
As predicted, Madame Alexander clothing hangs on Ana Ming's small body. If you look closely you can see the elasticized skirt starting to fall down.
it works perfectly. Just be mindful of clothing that stains; Miss Emily's EuroGirl had a red-striped top and matching socks, and they left some nasty stains on the EuroGirl's body. The stains were easily covered, but be wary just the same.
Also (prepare for a tangent), there is a possibility that clothing for Sasha dolls will fit; one of Julisdolls' posts shows a Sasha dressed in a Magic Attic dress, and it appears to fit Sasha nicely. Based on that, I'm willing to bet that whatever Sasha can wear, Ana Ming can wear. I know for a fact that Sasha can wear Carpatina outfits; another of Julisdolls' posts shows Sasha wearing the qipao that Ana Ming comes in, shoes and all. This is good information to know, because it means that Sasha and my Ana Ming could potentially share clothes. But it's also problematic because Sasha dolls have been a defunct line for some time. There have been three lines of Sasha dolls, the most recent one ending in 2001. Jeez, that seems like it was just yesterday! But I'm getting WAY off the subject! I was aware that very little in my dolly wardrobe would fit Ana Ming, so I thought ahead. Carpatina offers a great selection of international outfits for both their own dolls and American Girl-sized dolls, so I bought two other dresses, both of which have an Asian flair about them. I bought the cherry blossom dress and a cute pair of sandals:
Okay, history lesson over. Since money is often a concern for people, I'm going to point out that not all of Carpatina's outfits are created equal. Some outfits come with shoes and accessories, and some don't. The website is very keen to point this out, providing a list of items that come with each outfit. Because of this, not all outfits have the same price. It all depends on whether accessories are included, the simplicity of the design, and the number of pieces that go into an outfit. The cherry blossom dress, which is fairly simple in design and comes with nothing, cost twenty-six dollars. The Yuan Dynasty outfit has two outfit pieces, a pair of shoes and a comb, and it cost me forty dollars. The steampunk outfits are currently the most expensive; they come with three or four pieces of clothing, plus a pair of shoes (I bought the rest of the accessories separately). If you are on a budget, keep this in mind.
Since it's Chinese New Year, I'm going to save the cherry blossom dress for spring and put Ana Ming in the Yuan Dynasy outfit. Here's what she looks like in it (my original intent was to take her outside and photograph her in front of the bird bushes, but it's RAINING!!!)
here's the link. Regarding the outfit itself, it's brocade like Ana Ming's qipao. The fabric has no stretch to it and will need to be handled with care, but it makes up for that by fitting more loosely; of the three outfits that Ana Ming has worn, this one was the easiest to put on. Check out the details!
*The plastic will scuff if treated roughly. I've dropped or knocked over all of the dolls pictured in this review at least once, and Ana Ming is the only one showing any wear. Keep this in mind if you or your child happens to be a klutz.
*The lip color isn't great. It photographs well, but I'm not in love with the orange shade.
*Mobility isn't the best. I can't get Ana Ming's arms to come together, and that makes dressing a chore.
*Dressing is a chore even without the stiff arms. The fabrics are the type that can snag easily, and the snaps are very tight.
*The hair will require some special care in order to stay nice.
*PLASTIC HAIR COMBS!!!! I hate those danged things!
*Can't share clothes with American Girls.
*Can't stand without shoes.
*Expensive! The dolls themselves are not as expensive as American Girl dolls, but the clothing can get pricey depending on the elaborateness of the design. My cherry blossom dress cost twenty-six dollars, while the other two cost over forty apiece. If you get one of these dolls, be prepared to pay some cash for some of the outfits.
*The plastic is very smooth and pleasant to the touch, much more so than my other girls.
*Cheeks are pretty. I don't love the lip color on this particular doll, but I do love her blush.
*The hair is better quality than a lot of dolls this size. It's not cheap saran, and thank God that it's not nylon.
*Clothes are great quality with beautiful fabrics. Historical clothing is accurate (as far as I know), as are the foreign outfits. Some of the outfits are pricey as I mentioned above, but you get what you pay for. I can't comment on the similarly-priced Girlfriends Collection yet, but I do plan on getting a couple of dresses for Denise. Stay tuned!
*Shoes fit well and aren't constantly falling off. At the same time they're not too tight.
*Detailed arms, legs, hands, and feet.
*Properly dressed underneath. Not all dolls come with underwear, so when I find one that does it's always a plus.
*Versatile. I can see a lot of potential for games of make-believe with this doll, especially with time-travel incorporated into her backstory.
In short, Ana Ming was worth the wait. I love her face, her hair, and her clothes. I love how she can be distinguished from American Girl dolls, but is still similar enough that the two can be dolly friends. The bad list looks long, but it's largely little things that can be overlooked by a collector or a parent. Nevertheless, the box and the website both state that these dolls are for children eight and up, and I definitely agree. I've mentioned time and time again that children can be very hard on their dolls, and Carpatina dolls simply are not cut out for a lot of abuse. Their hair needs special care, the surface of the plastic shows any marks that may occur during play, and some of the clothes are elaborate and may snag or tear. This may sound a bit strange of me to say, but if your child wants a doll this size, I'd go with an American Girl first. If your child treats her with care, then she's probably responsible enough for a Carpatina doll. Just use your common sense.
As for me myself, I'm very pleased with this company. I'm pleased enough that I'll do business with them again. The Girlfriends' Collection has a cherry blossom dress and a Yuan dynasty dress that American Girls can wear, so that may be what I buy next. Denise and Ana Ming have proven to be fast friends in spite of Ana Ming giving Denise the kissy face, and they'd no doubt look cute in matching outfits!
Three cheers for the Year of the Metal Horse! May your year be prosperous!
Happy Chinese New Year,