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Saturday, October 24, 2015

18-inch My Twinn review

It turns out that I've picked an interesting time to obtain a My Twinn doll; some of my fellow bloggers are up in arms about the company's discontinuation of dark skin tones.  Once upon a time there were five skin tones:  Very Fair, Fair, Olive, Light Brown, and Brown.  Brown was a definite African American skin tone, while Light Brown was a little more versatile.  Now My Twinn has removed Light Brown and Brown from the customization process, and I can't say that I blame the others for being upset.  Miss Emily and AJ both have black My Twinn dolls and they're super cute.  It's a terribly dumb move on My Twinn's part, and I'd love to know what they were thinking when they chose to go in such a direction.  Several people have contacted My Twinn and asked the same thing, but all they got were some vague responses and no real answers.  One lady was told that it was still possible to obtain a black doll, but in order to do that she would've needed to talk to customer service.  Customer service, I've been told, is iffy at My Twinn, so for all intents and purposes it's darn near impossible to order a black doll (or even a light brown doll) from the company.

So why did I want a My Twinn doll now, you ask?  Three reasons.  One, I question the longevity of this company.  They're constantly having sales, they've phased out the larger dolls that can't share clothes with the more popular eighteen-inch models, they've gone under twice before...and most telling, their Facebook page is strangely silent.  Logan's Ladies even questions My Twinn's future in this article!  So there's Reason #1.  Reason #2 ties in with Reason #1.  My Twinn's Adopt A Friend dolls were recently on sale, and during said sales these dolls are about fifty bucks, down from the eighty that they usually go for.  Reason #3 has more to do with my ornery personality than anything; I wanted to rattle the cages of those now boycotting My Twinn and their products.  They have the right to boycott, of course...and I have the right to be ornery, so I'm doing it!  Three reasons, fifty bucks, and a week later, I had my doll in my hands.  Say hello to Xenia Esmeralda Papadakis, my Adopt A Friend.
There's a lot to discuss, so let's dive in.  I would've chosen a black doll if I'd been able to get my hands on one, and indeed the "light brown" and "brown" categories are still present on the Adopt A Friend page.  But surprise, surprise, all the dolls in the "brown" category were gone.  When Mama ordered Xenia there were three light brown dolls left (that number has since dwindled to ONE), but there were none in the "Brown" category.  I can only assume that savvy consumers snapped up the last black dolls on the Adopt A Friend page.  None of the light brown dolls had the head mold that I wanted, so I chose olive-skinned, raven-haired, brown-eyed Xenia.  She has the Ariel head that I wanted so terribly.
The face shocked me at first, because I wasn't expecting it to be so angular!  Compare the picture above to Xenia's Adopt A Friend mugshot, below.  It doesn't capture the contours of the face very well.
I got over my surprise quickly, because this IS what I wanted.  I wanted that head for the mouth.  I have a lopsided smile, particularly when I'm in a mischievous mood, and I don't see too many playline dolls that share this feature.  One of the other My Twinn heads, Audrey, also has a lopsided mouth, but she is far more serious.  The Ariel head looks like it has a heart-shaped face, but I'm no expert on face shapes so I may be completely wrong.  Either way, Xenia's face is a departure from the American Girl's rounded features.
I love the color of Xenia's adorably cockeyed mouth, by the way.  Some My Twinn dolls have lips that are too orangey, and if I get the flash wrong Xenia's lips can look orange as well.  But trust me, they're not.  They're a dusty rose color that I love, and I think the artist may have used this same color on Xenia's cheeks (they're lightly blushed).
My enthusiasm for the eyebrows is not as passionate.
Ye gods.  Not only are these thick enough to pass for woolly worms, but they're also off-center!  I knew from Miss Emily's post that this could be a possibility, and indeed Xenia's online picture clearly showed this flaw, so I was ready for it.  To be fair, the eyebrows have great detail; they have individual little hairs drawn in.  Maybe these crooked eyebrows were the reason why Xenia landed in the Adopt A Friend section?  That section is for dolls with slight flaws, after all, and poorly painted eyebrows might classify as a slight flaw.  They do draw the viewer's attention away from the eyes, though.  Here's what the eyes are like.
These eyes are surprisingly realistic; the detail around the pupil is hard to see, but it looks very much like a real person's iris.  My Twinn eyes are fixed in place, and do not open and close like American Girl eyes do.  The eyelashes are applied and are nicely cut, which is good.  Miss Emily warned that sometimes My Twinn gets a little scissor-happy with eyelashes and bangs, as her dolly Sabrina shows (you'll have to scroll to get to the picture in question), but Xenia dodged this bullet.

I don't usually talk about ears, but I like Xenia's.  They stick out a little and I find that endearing.  Some Adopt A Friend dolls have been modified to wear earrings, but Xenia's are unaltered.
Xenia's profile is also pretty.  She's got a nicely proportioned nose, not too flat or too long.
Compare this to an American Girl nose, which is rather flat...

...and to a Carpatina nose, which is more like Xenia's.
These comparison pictures also provide a glimpse of the areas underneath Xenia's eyes, and how flat they are when compared to Denise's and Ana Ming's.  This makes photography a problem; if I don't get the flash and the lighting just right then Xenia's eyes look sunken.  See the difference?
Bad lighting vs. good lighting

This unusual molding provides a good witness to My Twinn's attempt to make a truly unusual sculpt.  Xenia is the only doll I own with a face that isn't quite as fleshed out; at times Ana Ming and Denise can look a bit chipmunk-cheeked, but Xenia doesn't have that problem.  She's truly one of a kind...or is she?  My Twinn does reuse head molds, of course, and sometimes their attempts to create a unique doll fall a little flat.  Xenia has at least two doppelgangers lurking on the Adopt A Friend site.
These three have all the same attributes:  black hair, olive skin, and brown eyes.  Even the pajama set is the same!  Now that I think of it, Xenia's goofy eyebrows aren't so bad after all.  They're really the only thing that makes Xenia different from the other two dolls.  The three dolls aren't exactly the same, but they're so similar that they could easily be the same doll.

Before moving on, I present a deliberate digression.  The Adopt A Friend page is full of dolls with the Ariel head (I lost count after thirty-two).  My other favorite head, named Denika, appeared maybe fifteen times.  If you've ever seen a Denika-headed doll, then you know why there would be so few of them on the Adopt A Friend page; Denika dolls have wide, happy smiles and would be hard for a collector (or child) to ignore.  Given the prevalence of Ariel heads on the Adopt A Friend page, I'm left wondering if it's one of the less-popular molds.  It might also be that the Ariel head looks...well, it looks less than flattering in some Adopt A Friend pics.  Xenia and her two doppelgangers have semi-decent pictures, but check out this poor little gal!
Remember when I said that Xenia had good angles and bad angles?  So do all the other Ariel dolls.  I'm sure this one is a very pretty little doll in real life, but that picture is HORRIBLE!!!  Those pale eyes don't help much either; they make ANY My Twinn doll look slightly possessed!  Denika, by contrast, tends to photograph well; it is possible to catch a Denika head in a bad angle, but you have to be consciously trying to do so.  Therefore, I think that unflattering pictures may have something to do with the dominance of Ariel over Denika on the Adopt A Friend page.  Or it may have something to do with the fact that I've grown quite adept at identifying the Ariel head.  Ariel is quite distinctive.  Denika, believe it or not, has a doppelganger of her own hanging around the Adopt A Friend page.  Her name is Vanessa, and I have a hard time distinguishing the two.  But even if I did get a few Denikas and Vanessas mixed up the number I got was still half that of the Ariel count!  So go figure on that one; maybe I just picked a mold that isn't as well liked.  I'm okay with that.

Where was I?  Oh yes, I usually start a review with hair, so let's go back there for a moment.  Xenia has a lot of hair, way more than I expected.
Her hair is wavy and ankle-length.  It's very thick, and extremely hard to manage.  Here's what her braids look like when compared to those of the one and only Molly McIntire (archived American Girl).
Molly has a lot of hair, but nowhere near as much as Xenia does!  A few strands did shed when I brushed Xenia's tresses, but not enough to thin it out.  This hair is so thick that I have to use real ponytail holders to keep this controlled, not just ordinary rubber bands.  I hear that rubber bands aren't great for doll hair anyway, so there's that problem solved.  The ends of Xenia's hair are curled, and they bounce around when she is moved.
Her bouncy hair caught some eyes when I carried her through Hobby Lobby to look for clothes (LOL).  Oddly, as thick is this hair is, when I parted it in the center I found bald spots in the back!
These bald spots are gaps between the rows of fibers sewn in; in other words, completely normal for a wig.  Ana Ming and the American Girls have these gaps too, so it's not a huge deal.  Since the wig cap is black the bald patches don't show too terribly.  There are also a lot of short ends sticking out among the longer fibers, ends that are hard to contain.
Molly and Kirsten have these ends too, but they were designed to have center parts so their short ends cover their heads better.  See?
 Molly's part

Kirsten's part

My Twinn uses modacrylic hair instead of the kanekalon used by American Girl and Carpatina.  Regardless of the material, I advise caution with My Twinn hair.  Xenia's hair will be hard to manage due to the length and thickness of it, and Miss Emily's curly-haired dolls are even harder to work with.  If you're taking the customization route, I recommend a doll with straight hair that falls between mid and high back (hair measurements can be found in the customization section of My Twinn's website).  If you're going to choose an Adopt A Friend, all I can say is good luck, because the pictures only show the face.

With the head out of the way, let's move on to the body.  Let's move out as well; Mama's cutting board was too small to serve as a decent backdrop for the trio of dolls you're about to see, so I took Xenia for her first foray outside.  Denise (American Girl) and Sadie (Our Generation) came too.
The eighteen-inch My Twinn body is essentially an American Girl body, and it's similar to an Our Generation body in terms of size and shape.  All three dolls have a stuffed cloth torso with vinyl limbs.  Nice and sturdy, good for play and for cuddling.  Our Generation uses a different type of fabric for the torso, but other than that these three are the same.
My Twinn arms and hands are a carbon copy of American Girl hands.  Our Generation hands are molded differently, with five separate little fingers.
 Denise's hand
 Xenia's hand
Sadie's hand

Even though My Twinn and American Girl have highly similar arms, they don't pose the same.  Xenia's arms always stick out to the side a little, like so.
I've tried to push it closer to her body, but no dice.  It just pops back out again.  Denise doesn't have this problem.
Sadie's arms only have rotational movement, so she doesn't have this problem either.
The legs and feet LOOK the same on all three dolls.
...but they're not.  It's hard to see, but My Twinn feet are molded ever so slightly different from American Girl feet.
Denise's stance is rock solid, as is Sadie's.  Note how they can both stand straight.  Xenia cannot.  Her toes are ever-so-slightly slanted, so her feet hit the ground at a weird angle.  In order to make her stand, I either have to bend her hips or use the stand that she came with.
It's a nice stand.  It has four parts:  base, holder, and two rods to connect the base with the holder.  Needless to say, Xenia stands like a champ in it.
I don't often use the stand, because Xenia usually sits on my bed...sort of.  I have a hard time getting her to sit all the way down.
 That's arguably the most awkward body review picture I've ever taken, but it gets the point across.  Denise can sit up straight with her feet together, Sadie is splay-legged but can still sit up straight...and Xenia can't sit up straight OR keep her feet together when she sits!
See how Xenia is leaning back against the steps?  That's the way she always sits, no matter how well I prop her up.  The problem is the left hip, though poseability in the right hip isn't great either.  I've tried to pull the joints apart and look inside, but Xenia is strung very tightly, and I can't see anything that might be impeding the movement.  Huge disappointment.  I knew from my fellow bloggers that standing would be an issue; both Miss Emily and BahamianAGDollLovers report difficulty in getting their girls to stand (Bahamian's doll looks a lot like Xenia, by the way).  This problem with the stiff hip blindsided me, though...and I'm not too happy about it.  Granted, none of my eighteen-inch dolls are graceful sitters, but at least they can sit without much fuss.  Xenia doesn't have that luxury.  Her joints are for the most part, a disappointment, with the exception of the neck joint.  It swivels without any problems.

But having stiff joints isn't so bad if you've got comfy clothes, right?  Xenia came dressed in THIS!!!
I love dolly pajamas, and I appreciate the underpants too.  The Adopt A Friend site says that dolls are not guaranteed a set of underpants, and they claim that the dolls will not be wearing the outfit they came with.  In some cases this is accurate; Miss Emily's Sabrina came wearing her top and panties, but the pajama bottoms were packaged behind her in the box.  The same happened with Miss Debra's doll, Little T.  Xenia got lucky.  She came fully dressed, and she has a pair of white undies underneath.  The dominant color of this pajama set is yellow, and the shirt has a peace sign with the words "peace" and "love" printed on.
I love the colors on these pants!  They're striped and have more little peace signs scattered about.
Both pieces appear to be made out of jersey knit fabric, but neither piece has a lot of stretch.  The top has a full strip of Velcro in the back.
The pants have an elastic waistband which does stretch, more so than the rest of the pants!
Despite the lack of stretch, these pieces fit Xenia nicely.  The top is a little big around the neck, but that's all I can complain about.  Both pieces have generous hems that are double-seamed
The underpants are your average white dolly underpants.  They have an elastic waist and the same nice, big hems that the pajamas have.  Overall the quality of this outfit is good, good enough that one could mistake it for a set of American Girl clothes if it weren't tagged.  Speaking of which...time to play Dolly Dress Shuffle!  Here's what Denise and Sadie look like in these pajamas
The pajamas are a little tight on Denise, but both dolls can wear this set with few problems.

As for the other way around, I already know that My Twinn dolls can wear American Girl dresses and skirts, but I have not seen any in AG jeans or pants.  I have no American Girl pants myself, but I do have this set of overalls from Hobby Lobby, and Denise wears Hobby Lobby clothes without any problems.
This set fits Xenia like a dream.  It has virtually no effect on her already poor ability to sit, so that's a plus.  The only problem is the hat; Xenia has so much hair that it's a bit tricky to get the hat crammed on her head.  As you can see, though, I was able to get it on her.  The blue clogs are of note.
These did not, repeat, DID NOT come with the overalls set.  These clogs came with a set of Madame Alexander clothes that I picked up at Tuesday Morning.  They are just the teeniest bit tight on Xenia, but they improve her standing ability tenfold.

Our Generation clothes are tight on Denise, and the shoes don't fit at all.  Xenia's body so similar to Denise's that it seems almost unnecessary to try OG clothes on her, but I did it anyway.

Remember when I said that Xenia's lips could look orange if I got the flash wrong?  I meant it; I got the flash wrong in the bottom right picture, and it shows.  Anywho, the Our Generation outfits were mostly a success; the clothes fit just fine.  Not too tight or too loose.  However, the shoes pose a problem.  Sadie's pink stock shoes (bottom left) slipped off constantly.  The shoes that came with Red Letter Day (retro fashion, bottom right) would not fasten, and the same was true with the sandals that came with To Our Hearts Content (top left).  The black boots that came with Color Me Plaid (top right) don't fit at all, with or without tights.  They might have if they'd had a slit down the back, but there's no slit so there's no hope of them ever fitting...unless I wanted to cut a slit.  And I don't want to, so that's that.

Judging from the fit of the above shoes, I was prepared to write ALL Our Generation shoes off as no-go's...but then I found this.
This outfit is a combination of Dream On, a retro fashion, and Flying Colors, a retro accessory set.  Rhonda F and JGKelsey have both reviewed Dream On and both appeared to like the outfit, so I got it for myself.  To my great surprise, the shoes that come with Dream On fit Xenia...with our without the socks that came with Flying Colors.
The rest of the outfit also fit Xenia without any fuss, which also surprised me.  The pants fit Sadie closely, so I had some mild concerns about how they'd fit Xenia.  As it turned out, Xenia had absolutely no trouble sliding into these.
JGKelsey didn't care much for the neutral tone of the shoes, but I think that may be a blessing in disguise.  Because these shoes ARE neutral, they can go with just about everything.  I may be stealing these shoes for other outfits in the future.  Based on the results that I got, I prounce Our Generation clothes a good option for My Twinn dolls.  Most of the shoes fit poorly or don't fit at all, but some do, so if you've got a lot of Our Generation shoes I recommend trying them all on your My Twinn doll, and then making a note of any that fit.  If none of them fit, Hobby Lobby and Wal-Mart carry a wide array of shoes for eighteen-inch dolls.

Before I go on, I've got some advice for those of you who own Maryellen or Julie (both American Girl dolls).  It's really no-brainer advice, but here goes:  these retro OG outfits and accessories will suit both Julie and Maryellen very well.  Some outfits are clearly more seventies than fifties and vice versa, but if you want to widen your retro girl's wardrobe, these little items are great.  Plus, they cost half of what American Girl's stuff costs.  Selah!  Just be aware that the shoes may or may not fit.

Where was I?  Oh yes, clothes.  My Life and Madame Alexander clothes usually do not fit American Girls or Our Generation dolls, but I tried some of those outfits on Xenia anyway and got some interesting results.  This white dress fit, much to my surprise.
The white dress is a bit tight around the bodice, but I got it on Xenia without much fuss.  The mask is VERY tight, and it squashed Xenia's eyelashes, so I'd avoid putting masks on these dolls.  I also attempted some pants, but they proved to be too tight...just like they were on Denise.  I have yet to dig my other Madame Alexander clothes out of storage, but I can tell you that some dresses will fit the My Twinn dolls.  If you've got a lot of MA or My Life clothes, then all I can say is play around a bit.  Shoes fit without any fuss.

Before I wrap things up, here's Xenia with my Hearts 4 Heats doll, Mosi.
Clothes sharing is OUT with these two, but they have one very crucial similarity.  Both My Twinn and Hearts 4 Hearts dolls can have problems with their eyes.  Hearts 4 Hearts eyes have been known to spontaneously turn purple, and My Twinn eyes apparently have this same penchant; I even saw one doll on Facebook with RED eyes!!!  Mosi and Xenia both look alright right now, but I'm going to watch them closely.

Alrighty, that's enough discussion.  Time to sum it all up.

*Some of the Adopt A Friend pictures are poor.  This is an issue with the website rather than with my doll, but beware all the same.
*The face has some odd bits that don't photograph well.
*Eyebrows are bad.  This is a problem that varies from doll to doll; some have gorgeous eyebrows.
*There's a lot of hair, enough that it could be problematic if not properly cared for.

*Feet aren't completely flat, so it's hard to get this doll in a decent standing position.
*Poseability is poor.
*Eyes might change color.  Not a problem yet, but I'm watching Xenia's eyes very closely...and Mosi's too, for that matter!

*The face is unique and full of quirky character.  I don't own any other dolls with a lopsided smile like Xenia's.
*Lips are a pretty color, not too orange or too pink like other dolls.
*There's a lot of hair, enough to play with and style.
*Body is sturdy and soft.  It's clearly built for play (though not a lot of abuse).
*The pajama set is cute and well-constructed.  It's made me curious about My Twinn's other outfits.
*Vinyl feels both durable and pleasant to the touch.  It feels nicer than an American Girl's vinyl, but it won't scuff at the drop of a hat like Carpatina vinyl will.
*Eyes are pretty.  I hope and pray that they won't change!
*Eyelashes are well cut.
*Shoes from other doll brands fit, and some even help her stand up.
*American Girl and Our Generation clothes fit, as do Springfield dresses, clothes and shoes from Hobby Lobby, and some My Life outfits.  As mentioned above, My Life clothes are hit and miss on the thicker bodied dolls.

I told you it would be a long review!  Xenia is a nice doll and I'm glad to have her in my collection, but she's got some problems.  Her eyebrows are ridiculously crooked (likely the reason why she was on the Adopt A Friend page), her hair is insanely long and high-maintenance, her joints do not move the way doll joints should, and she can't stand without some kind of support.  That sounds like a lot of problems, but truthfully the joints are the only thing that I honest-to-God hate about Xenia.  I can overlook the eyebrows, and the hair is a lot of fun to braid and style.  I love the pajama set that she came with, and I'm excited to see what the other My Twinn outfits are like.  Of course, the thing I love the most about Xenia is her face.  As I mentioned in the beginning, I was surprised by the angles and the overall shape of Xenia's face, but she very quickly grew on me, and I was able to appreciate her for the unique little doll that she is.  To sum things up, I like the My Twinn experience enough to buy from them again if they stick around.  However, I desperately hope they come to their senses about dark skin tones, because I'd love to have a little black Denika doll to be Xenia's friend!  Or I may go the customization route; I have an American Girl doppelganger (Molly), but that desire to have a custom-made doll has never fully left me.

As a final bit of information, this young lady offers a comparison of American Girl and My Twinn in simple, easy to understand terms.  Her name is Kathleen, and she has an interesting blog about dolls and other things.  Enjoy!

Hugs, kisses, and cookies,

UPDATE!!!  Adopt A Friend's last light brown doll has apparently been sold.  I hope whoever got her likes her!

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