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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Introducing Ju-hwang

Ju-hwang is my Hujoo Berry.  Her name (pronounced "joo-hung") is Korean for "orange."
I'm not going to review her just yet since she's not fit to be photographed without eyes, but she's here, she's in one piece, and she's adorable.  She's even made a friend, though it's with the last doll I'd have expected.
Good ol' Chatty Cathy took a liking to this eyeless wonder, and Ju-hwang seems to reciprocate Cathy's positive feelings.

I'm not sure when Ju-hwang will get eyes, but that's next on my dolly bucket list.  When she DOES get eyes then I'll review her. 

Yours truly,

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The current drama in my life (not doll related)

Yesterday I went for a routine eye exam, as all good LASIK patients should.  My right eye is very blurry, and I was expecting my doctor to say "Wear a contact lens in that eye," and that would be the end of it.  Wrong answer.  I told him that I've started having migraines, and he promptly dilated my eyes, looked at the backs, got a worried look on his face, and told me he needs to see me again VERY soon.  Apparently the pressure in my brain is high, and if it gets too high I'll go blind. 

Anywho, tomorrow I go back to Marion to have my eyes and my records and God-knows-what-else looked at.  If the doctor finds that I've always been this way and nothing has changed, then I should be good to go.  But if he finds out this is something new I get to pay the neurologist a visit and we go from there.  Did I mention that I don't have health insurance?  And that I absolutely refuse to resort to Obamacare?  And that if this turns out to be something serious then I can't buy my new house?  Yeah.  I'm not overly concerned yet; all that depends on how the visit tomorrow goes.  I just wanted to give y'all a heads up and ask for prayers.

Yours somewhat-nervously,

Friday, January 16, 2015

Dolly Dress Discussion: new duds for Barbie and Monster High

Mattel has produced some very cute two-outfit packs for Barbie this year.  My intention is to get all the sets, and so far I have three so I'm keeping up with the pace pretty well.  Here's what I've got so far:
OUTFIT SET #1:  Barbie Fashion Complete Look 2-Pack, Birthday Set
MODELS:  Life in the Dreamhouse Midge ("Midge") on the left, and Barbie Style Teresa ("Mara") on the right. 
DESCRIPTION:  Midge is wearing a white t-shirt with the word "pink" printed on in script.  Over that she wears a silver plastic necklace and a tiered skirt made out of salmon tulle.  The skirt has a gray knit waistband and pink glitter on the tulle hems.  Mara is wearing a pink flowered blouse and a hot pink jumper.  She got the purse that went with the set, and the sole pair of shoes (Midge's shoes are borrowed from one of Raquelle's dresses).
PROS:  Both of these outfits are well-tailored, as one could expect from a Mattel dress.  The tulle layers on the skirt have...well, I'm not sure what's keeping them from raveling, but they're finished somehow.  The pieces are separate, the exact opposite of President Michelle's clothing and Midge's original outfit.  The tops, skirt, and jumper can all be mixed and matched around.  I can overlook the fact that Mara's outfit borders on pink overkill, since the theme is supposed to be pink.
CONS:  Accessories are nondescript.  Midge's necklace is made of that chrome-looking plastic, which I've seen on a fair amount of the recent dolls, and in several outfits as well.  The outfits are fastened with Velcro, which isn't a bad thing by itself...but DON'T let it catch on that tulle skirt, or it'll snag like crazy.  Lastly, there was only one pair of shoes, and the pair didn't match Midge's outfit.  That oversight is what bugs me the most about this set.  Mattel, if you read this, PLEASE start including two pairs of shoes.  Adult collectors like extra shoes, and kids usually need extra shoes.  C'mon, you and I both know that Barbie shoes love to get lost if they're not on the doll's foot or carefully stored away.
RATING:  8.5 out of 10.  Minus one point for the shoes, and another half for nondescript accessories.
OUTFIT SET #2:  Barbie Fashion Complete Look 2-Pack, Sightseeing Set
MODELS:  Really Rosy Kayla ("Connie") on the left, and S.I.S. Trichelle on the right.
DESCRIPTION:  Connie is wearing a white sleeveless top with navy stripes.  Her skirt is copper and covered in glitter.  She has a camera around her neck and a small clutch purse in her left hand.  I made the mistake of hiding it between Connie and Trichelle, but it's nothing really special so no biggie.  Connie's shoes are her original shoes, and by a stroke of luck, they happen to match the stripes in her top.  Trichelle is wearing a cinnamon pink floral print dress.  The jacket is olive green with pink blossoms and green leaves.  Her shoes came with the set, and the hair ribbon is my own addition (it is usually worn by Connie, but she doesn't mind sharing).
PROS:  Well sewn, just like the birthday set.  Connie's top and blouse are separate pieces, just like the last set of clothes I shared.  There isn't as much potential for mixing and matching if you only have this set, but it's still nice to see separates.  Like Mara above, Trichelle's getup is bordering on pink overkill, but the cute jacket helps break it up a bit.  Furthermore, the jacket is printed all the way around.  Remember in the past that I've complained about that?  Not a problem here.  Connie's skirt also has glitter all the way around.  The accessories are better than those with the birthday set; Connie's purse isn't super-duper awesome, but it does have painted details.  And I absolutely LOVE that camera!
CONS:  Again, this set only came with one pair of shoes.  That wasn't a huge problem with the birthday set since I have a lot of pairs of shoes that would match those two outfits.  This sightseeing set posed a problem in the shoe department, however.  It was obvious that those pink shoes would have to go with the pink outfit, and I don't have a lot of navy or copper shoes lying around.  Connie just happened to have those navy boots with her stock outfit, so it worked out.  That was the biggest problem with this set; if I wanted to nitpick I could say that Connie's skirt has too much glitter, but that would be pushing it.
RATING:  9 out of 10.  Minus one point for the shoes.  The sightseeing set gets one half-point more than the birthday set because the accessories are better.
OUTFIT SET #3:  Dreamhouse Day Looks.  The package's backing had a picture of Teresa, so I assume these were meant for her.
MODELS:  Birthstone Beauties Caucasian Miss Sapphire ("Miss September") on the left, and My Melody Barbie ("Melody") on the right.
DESCRIPTION:  It is my passionate desire to find the original outfits for both of these dolls, but I'll admit I'm having a lot of fun changing their clothes!  Miss September is wearing a pink tank top with...A KITTY CAT!!!  With glasses, no less!  Squeeeee, I love cats!  LOL, anyway, the top also has a small white banner with the words "Think Pink" inside, and Barbie's name beside the cat.  Hmmm...maybe this set isn't meant for Teresa after all.  I can't think of why she'd want her friend's name on her shirt instead of her own.  Go figure.  Anywho, September's bottoms are stretchy Beetlejuice-type pants, plus some pink shoes which came with the set.  The unsightly band around her hips is her ill-fitting Kaiser stand; please ignore that.  Her purse is a pink heart with a white strap and a white tassel.  Melody is wearing a white t-shirt with flocked pink hearts and a black hem at the neck.  She got the necklace in the set, which is white plastic with glued-on glitter.  Her skirt is made of some sort of fabric similar to tulle, but not quite the same.  It has two tiers and is sparkly.  The shoes are also original to this set.
PROS:  The cat on Miss September's shirt is one huge pro, as are the two pairs of shoes in this set.  I wonder why Mattel includes two pairs of shoes with their Dreamhouse sets, but only one with the Complete Look sets?  Why not include two pairs with both types?  Or one pair?  NO, NO, FORGET I SAID THAT SECOND OPTION!!!  *ahem*  Where was I?  Oh yes, pros.  The outfits are separate pieces again, so once again you can switch these around.  I wouldn't recommend pairing that huge necklace with the cat shirt, though.  Too busy.
CONS:  This set's biggest flaw is this:
Bummer, the back is not printed.  I think I know why; remember when I said those little hearts were flocked?  Sometimes flocking is bad to catch hair and make it look messy.  Since most of the available Barbie dolls have long hair I think I can understand the reasoning.  That annoys me, though.  I think it makes the outfit look incomplete.  I also don't like the bow necklace, but that's just because it doesn't accentuate either outfit's neckline.  With another outfit it'll be fine.  Additionally, the whole set is pink overkill.
RATING:  9 out of 10.  Half a point deducted for the top's heartless back, and half a point for pink overkill.
OUTFIT #4:  Barbie Dress-Up Pink Ruffle Dress with Fashion Accessories
MODEL:  S.I.S. Baby Phat Chandra
DESCRIPTION:  This pairing came from a crazy idea I had.  I wanted to see what this somewhat-odd dress would look like on my darkest doll.  Said darkest doll happens to be Chandra, whose clothes I'd never changed.  I put this on her and...well, I had Melody and Miss September all ready for their close-ups, but when I got Chandra all dressed up she stole the show!  I couldn't get over how pretty she looked (and still looks).  So, description.  The dress is a fitted strapless dress with a tulle band across the top of the bodice.  The front bodice has sparkly pink material that is gathered down the front.  The skirt is made of several layers of glittery pink tulle, looped and gathered around.  Her shoes and purse are silver and belong to this outfit.  Whoops...I forgot to show the purse!  It's a little silver heart.  It's cute, but if it were a real purse it would not be very functional.
PROS:  This has a great fit.  Some strapless dresses want to slide down, but this one stays up just fine.  I also love how the accessories match Chandra's earrings.  That's coincidental, but it still worked out well.
CONS:  This:
The back of this dress has no embellishment AT ALL.  No ruffles or sparkles or anything.  And unlike Melody's lack of flocked hearts, I can see absolutely NO REASON for this!!!  This is just cheapo.  Oh yeah, and that purse is nondescript.
RATING:  7 out of 10.  It's a cute dress and it looks amazing on Chandra, but that plain back demotes it to your average, everyday Barbie doll dress.  That's too bad, because Chandra really rocks it!
OUTFIT SET #5:  Monster High Day of the Dead dress set, handmade by dolls4emma.
MODELS:  From left, City of Frights Skelita Calaveras, Fusion-Inspired Ghouls Scarah Screams, 13 Wishes Lagoona Blue, and Art Class Skelita Calaveras.
DESCRIPTION:  This set of dresses was handmade by Elizabeth Brookman, proprietor of dolls4emma, an online clothing store that I've spoken of in the past (this post).  The doll world doesn't have much in the way of Day of the Dead clothing, but Elizabeth had these on the Etsy branch of her store and I fell in love with them.  Again, my mother was a huge help here (she paid, LOL).  There are four dresses in the set, each colored differently but otherwise identical.  They are made of soft, thick, knit fabric that feels like sock material.  The bottom hems are trimmed with coordinating lace, and the bodices have little bows and skull charms.  These slip on and off the doll.
PROS:  These are sturdy, colorful, and they fit my dolls nicely.  They are surprisingly versatile; all fourteen of my MH girls can wear these, and they likely will at some point.  The trim matches wonderfully.  Seriously, I can't remember the last time I saw pink lace in a store, so hats off to Elizabeth for that one.  There is little risk of snagging, and one does not have to detach arms and hands to get these on a doll.  These dresses are cost-efficient; one can get three of Elizabeth's dresses for the price of two Mattel MH outfits...or less!  Lastly, my dolls can wear their stands with these dresses.  I was afraid that the knit material might be too thick for the stands, but it's not.
CONS:  The bodices sometimes slip down, leaving my dolls' breasts exposed.  This is less of a problem with the Skelita Sisters, since their chests have some texture.
RATING:  9.75 out of 10.  One quarter deduction for slippery bodices.  It's not a huge problem, but I felt it was worth mentioning.  Oh yeah, I also had to wait for them to arrive!  LOL, waiting comes with the territory when one is a doll collector, so it's not a problem worthy of deductions.

I wonder if it could be considered a bias to rate Elizabeth's dresses the highest because she is was my friend?  LOL, maybe so, but I don't care.  Her dresses were as close to flawless as any in this review.  That's not to say that my store-bought dresses are bad.  Far from it, in fact.  I could show you some dresses from Dollar General that ARE pretty bad, but I think I'll spare those for another post.  Regarding these dresses (all of 'em here in this post) I'd recommend all of them with a few cautions.  Elizabeth's business is based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, which can either be a long haul or a hop, skip and a jump, depending on where in the world you are.  If money is a concern, if you want something unique, and you don't mind a short wait, Elizabeth's wares are for you.  However, if you want or need a doll dress RIGHT THIS MINUTE for your daughter's birthday party, best stick with the store-bought stuff...and then get some of Elizabeth's dresses for her Christmas!  LOL

Alrighty, next post.  I desperately need to complete some of the posts that I've had lingering in draft limbo.  Cami's post has been there for a solid year now.  Since I'm not expecting my Hujoo to be here until around Valentine's Day, that'll buy me some time to FINALLY finish those up.  Seriously, Valentine's Day???  I ordered that darned Hujoo back before Christmas!  Oh well, it'll be worth the wait to have something that I've never even seen before.  I bet I'll be the only one in Malden who even has a Hujoo! 

As a final little note, if you really liked Elizabeth's Day of the Dead dresses, you can take a gander at her eBay store and her Etsy store.  As I mentioned in that other post, she has a wide range of stuff available.

Stay warm!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Vi-and-Va, fresh from Bratz Boulevard

If you follow Bratz Boulevard then you probably know this already.  If not, I'm going to do my usual duty of hearing a juicy bit of dolly gossip and passing it along.  According to BB news about 2015's Bratz is scant...but news about a new line of MGA dolls is coming through the grapevine.  Bratz Boulevard's first post introduces the new girls as Vi-and-Va dolls.  The line includes four dolls:  16-year-old Vivianna (Vi), her fifteen-year-old sister Valentina (Va), and their two cousins Roxxi and Felicia.  The line is apparently supposed to include some outfit sets and accessories, which are very cute but very un-teenager-like in style.  But then again, the dolls don't look like teenagers either; even Bratz Boulevard noticed this.  Here's a link to the first post, complete with pictures. 

The second post contains some highly interesting updates, complete with information on the four girls and their personalities.  Like the Bratz, the Moxie Girlz, and just about every other MGA line so far, each character has her own interests, her own quirks, and her own style.  Apparently these dolls will be available separately and as sets; one set will have a birthday theme and include both Vi and Va in cute dresses.  Styling heads will also be available, and frankly, I like their faces better than I like the dolls' faces...so far.  Bratz Boulevard has found pictures of prototypes, but we all know how things change from prototype to final product.  Either way, the second post can be found here.

Very interesting, for sure, but I can't help but feel troubled by this introduction of a new line.  Remember the last time the Bratz went on hiatus they were replaced by the cutesy, less-glamorous Moxie Girls.  These new Vi-and-Va dolls are very similar.  NOT the same, mind you, but they are fairly high on the cute factor and fairly low on the trendy, edgy factor, just like the Moxies.  I could be completely wrong, but given this new line plus the lack of news about the Bratz, maybe this hiatus will last longer than it was intended?  I hope not, but if so then it will be interesting to see how these dolls fare.  I personally will have to look at these dolls in person before I cast any sort of judgment.  Viewing the pictures has left me curious but I'm not yet chomping at the bit to get one of these.  Seeing them in the flesh (vinyl?  LOL) will determine whether I get one of these or not.

Yours truly,

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Something I both love and hate about Mattel

Have you ever noticed that some of Mattel's cutest outfits come ON the actual doll?  In order to get these cute outfits, you have to buy the danged doll!  Look at some of these!  These first two are the new Fashionistas that are currently available.  No joints, flat feet, but cute clothes.  These two are my favorites.

These are Fashionistas in the Spotlight, from a few years back.  Artsy, on the far left, is my favorite, but there isn't really a loser in the bunch.

I have no idea who this little coppertop is, but I love her cotton candy-colored dress!

Fashion Fever Makeup Chic Really Raspberry (left) and Perfect Peach (right).  There were four dolls in the Makeup Chic line and all were lovely, but these two were my favorite outfits.
Fashionistas Sweetie, from a few years back.  I thought this purple dress was cute, but I didn't want to buy the whole doll just to get it.

Fashionistas Nikki, from the line that brought us freaky-colored highlights.  This getup would look good on my BeyoncĂ© doll.

Fashionistas Swappin' Styles Cutie, who utilizes one of my favorite color combos:  yellow and pink.  The colors were much brighter in person.

Red Carpet Barbie, clad in yellow.

Life in the Dreamhouse Summer, with her rainbow stripes.

One of my favorite vintage getups came on Hair Happenin's Francie, Barbie's uber-Mod cousin.

I couldn't find a non-copyrighted picture of the Fashion Fever Tokyo Pop series, but here's a link.  All four of them were epic.  And don't get me started on the United Colors of Benetton dolls.  There was a wave in the 1980s and a wave during the Fashion Fever run.  Being a passionate fan of UCB, I like all of these. 

Barbie isn't Mattel's only cash cow, of course.  Monster High also has plenty of cute odds and ends...odds and ends that came exclusively with a doll and could not be bought separately.  My favorite example of this is the Dot Dead Gorgeous line.  Y'all know how I love polka dots!
Unfortunately for me (and mercifully for my pocketbook), the only character that I DON'T have is Abbey, or I would've gotten all six!  It would've been cute to have seen some separate outfits with the polka dot motif, though.  That way these chicks would still have had some options without leaving the theme.

Or how about Dead Tired?  So far the only way to get MH pajamas is to buy one of these dolls (or make your own, which is also a good idea).
I don't know how well you can see those slippers, but they've got little monster faces on the toes!  Again, though, it would be fabulous to see some of these outfits marketed separately.  I personally would like some pj's for my MH girls, but I don't want to add another doll to the clan in order to do it!  The same is true of swimsuits;  it's possible to get swimsuits from Skull Shores...
...Gloom Beach...
...and the three Swim Class waves...
...but all that would be a hefty little chunk of change!  LOL, I can see why Mattel does this, of course.  They want to make money, and what better way to sell a doll than to put her in a cute, unique outfit.  That's business.  Unfortunately it is bad news for poor college students like me, folks who usually don't have two cents to rub together.  Loose Monster High clothes are fairly easy to come by since a lot of folks like to customize MH dolls, but finding a specific outfit is just a hair tricky!  Can't hurt to look, though.

Yours truly,