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Friday, January 29, 2016

Time to rant: the new Barbie Fashionistas

This isn't going to be 100% griping, since I can see both good things and bad things about today's subject, so I've declared this post a rant instead.  That being said, let's talk, once again, about Barbie.  Hey, I've got to do SOMETHING with the blog while I wait for Johnny to get here!  Anywho, we all know Barbie has caused a lot of waves during her reign as Queen of the Dolls, with her unattainable figure being a bone of contention ever since the early sixties.  Back in the days when toy companies did what they wanted, Barbie's figure changed very little.  But now, since toy companies have grown increasingly liberal and sensitive to the complaints of overly butt-hurt parents and consumers, things get changed around.  There are cases when these complaints are legit; I wouldn't want my kid to choke on some toy piece that was carelessly overlooked in the design department, for example.  But a doll's body shape is not something that a kid can choke on.  So why change it?  Apparently, Mattel didn't see it this way, and in recent years Barbie has seen multiple body changes.  Furthermore, all have appeared over the last three decades; the Shani body is the first change that I can name, and it appeared with the release of Shani, around 1993 or so.  Shani's body is only slightly slimmer than the classic Twist 'n Turn body, almost imperceptibly so, but it's enough of a difference that my old Shani can fit into tight dresses better than most of my old Barbies can.

Alrighty, so we've established that Mattel can't seem to leave well enough alone.  They've already made waves this year with their proposed redesign of Monster High dolls.  I'm saving that topic for another Time to Gripe.  But apparently screwing around with Monster High wasn't enough for Mattel!  Noooooooooo, they're mucking around with Barbie's body...AGAIN!!!
It's a cute, visually interesting group, with a nice selection of ethnicities, faces, and hair colors.  BUT...look closer, particularly at the blue-haired girl and the brunette in the very center.  Notice their bodies.  They're...well, THICK!  Not thick as in stupid, but rather thick as in curvaceous, just like our old frenemy, the Lammily doll.  Another interesting difference can be seen in the two dolls on the far left; look closely at the black girl in coral, and her Asian friend in the pretty red skirt.  Notice that they're both flat-footed like my Elizabeth...but the Asian girl is taller than the black girl.

According to Mattel, the bodies are called "curvy," "petite," "tall," and "original."  The blue-haired doll and the brunette in the center are curvy, the black doll in coral is an example of a petite doll, the Asian in the red skirt is on the original body, and the gang's sole redhead is a tall doll.  A more in-depth description can be found here.  This is good and bad for a number of reasons:
BAD THING:  WRONG WAY TO BUILD A CHILD'S SELF ESTEEM!!!  I've been over this before, and I'll go over it again:  it is not Barbie's job to make Rosanna and Billie Jean feel better about themselves after Roxanne calls them both fat.  It's supposed to be the job of us, the adults.  Mom, Dad, Aunt Jane, whoever the guardian is, to reassure Rosanna and Billie Jean that Roxanne is full of crap.  
GOOD THING:  It makes a group of dolls more interesting visually.  I don't know about y'all, but I love a good group of diverse dolls.  Black ladies, white ladies, Latinas, Asians, redheads, brunettes, blondes...it makes a group fun!  See?
My group represents a fairly decent demographic; each of the core races are represented, as are the dominant hair colors.  Most, but not all, of the faces are different.  My point is this:  most of these dolls are the same in terms of body shape.  A couple of them have the stiff Model Muse bodies or something similar, and several of them are fully jointed, but the overall shape and size is the same.  The only one different is Merida.  Here's what her body looks like compared to a bellybutton body.
Merida has a smaller torso and shorter, thicker legs than her friend Belle does.  Merida thus adds a little splash of something different to the mix, but it's drowned out by her willowy companions.
BAD THING:  This is strictly a gripe of my own because I'm obsessed with doll clothes, but it's pretty obvious that clothes sharing is going to be limited here.  I like to knit and crochet, so cobbling clothes together won't be a huge deal for me...but not everyone knits or crochets!!!  There's also an issue with shoes.  I already have a hard time finding shoes for my Elizabeth; her feet are flat, and Mattel has not yet produced a large quantity of flat shoes.  Yes, there are some, just not enough to make a nice, varied shoe wardrobe like the dolls with high-heeled feet have.  The wider bodies on some of the new dolls just compounds the issue.  I refer you again to Merida, who is dressed this time.
The only reason why Merida can wear this dress is because the top stretches.  The dresses I own that don't stretch don't fit Merida.  The dolls' differing heights makes this tricky situation even more complex.  In short, Mattel is releasing a group of dolls that will have thick waists, thin waists, tall bodies, short bodies, flat feet, and high-heeled feet.  I predict that clothes sharing could get frustrating in a hurry, regardless of whether the dolls are in the hands of a kid or a collector.  That leads us to a good thing.
GOOD THING:  Maybe now Mattel will get their butts in gear and make some more varied clothes.  Recently I've complained about the lack of variation of clothes from doll companies, and the disappearance of Monster High clothes altogether.  Barbie clothes have been on the upswing; my group picture above was the result of a game of Dolly Dress Shuffle, with most of the pieces being things that I'd just bought.  Some of the new dolls also come with two extra outfits.  Not one, like the Dreamhouse dolls did, but two.  So there's that little conundrum semi-solved.  The flat-footed dolls also come with extra shoes, so there's another problem averted.
NEUTRAL THING:  Oh, my poor pocketbook!  LOL, I have to admit that I'm excited about these new dolls.  They come in such a vast array of colors and styles that it's hard to pick just one favorite.  The doll that I provided in the link above, with cocoa skin and two-tone hair, is an easy contender, as is the curvy girl with blue hair.  I also like most of the new outfits, especially the fact that most of these dolls are NOT wearing pink.  Pink, as I have said before, is a perfectly fine color in moderation, but during the nineties Barbie wore so much of it that I got sick of the color.  Most of the outfits have little pink accents in places and that's fine.  Touches of a gal's favorite color in an ensemble are fine, as long as the whole wardrobe isn't drowning in it!

That's plenty to mull over, innut?  I can already name a few that will be joining my group (and one that WON'T, as she's an overly stereotypical Barbie).  It gets a little confusing for a collector, though, to have multiple sizes of doll and of clothing to keep track of.  It also gets frustrating when you have a cute doll that's bigger or smaller than her comrades, so she can't wear any spare clothes that you might have on hand.  In short, my feelings are dominantly good about this new Barbie doll development, but they are mixed.  It'll be interesting to see how these sell...and it'll be very interesting to see if the curvy dolls can share clothes with the Lammily doll!  I just thought of that, LOL.  I certainly HOPE that they can share!

I won't be preordering any of these dolls since I just bought Johnny and a boatload of items for him, but Talolili has the blue-haired doll and a tall Asian girl on the way, so these new ladies may still be coming to a blog post near you.  What do y'all think of these?  Love 'em or hate 'em?  Got a favorite?  Discuss.

Hugs and kisses,

Friday, January 22, 2016

A message to the newcomer

Dear Johnny,

I don't know you yet, and you don't know me, but sometime in the near future you and I will become housemates.  You and I will be the only ball-jointed dolls in the house, so I think it would be good if we got acquainted.  My name is Ju-hwang.  I'm from South Korea, and my journey took a month and a half.  It was tiring, so I advise you to be well-rested for your journey, wherever you're coming from.  I believe Lady Moon told me you were coming from China.  That's not far from where I came from, but it's a long way from where I am now.

I've seen your stock photos online.  I do hope you won't take this as an attempt to flirt, but you look quite handsome.  Lady Moon and I both hope that you look as good in person as you do in your pictures.  I myself am a little funny looking.  I'm a Hujoo Berry, which means I'm on the short side.  I've got a big head with very big eyes, and a comparatively small body.  I'm also orange.  See?
Some of my kinfolk are blue or purple or naturally colored like you are.  Since I'm unnaturally colored I like unnaturally colored wigs and eyes.  Right now I'm wearing my blue and green wig and my blue Oscar eyes, but tomorrow I might be wearing my purple wig and a pair of copper eyes with butterflies.  The Oscar eyes make me look a little spacey, but they're very comfortable and good for seeing in the dark.  I highly recommend a pair, and Lady Moon says that when she knows what your eye color is, she'll get an Oscar pair to match.

As you likely saw from my above picture, it's quite cold here.  Nighttime temperatures have been in the teens, and there has been snow.  A lot of snow, in fact.  As I don't know exactly when you will arrive, I advise you to bring both a coat and a sweater.  If your arrival falls in February or early March, you will most likely need the coat.  If your arrival falls between mid-March and early April, it would be wise to wear the sweater.  You need not worry about warm weather attire, as Lady Moony has commissioned a yukata for you to wear.  It has not arrived yet, but the lady who is making it also made some nice things for me to wear.  Thus I predict your yukata will be quite nice.  It should be perfect for summertime, and last summer was quite hot!

In addition to the yukata, Lady Moon has ordered a wig and some things from Luts that she mysteriously refers to as "trinkets."  She knows what she got you, but I don't, so I can't tell you with any certainty what's coming from Luts.  I do know that the trinkets and the wig were both shipped this past week, so they should be here any day.  Lady Moon predicts that the nasty winter weather will probably slow the items down, particularly since one item has to come from Indiana.  Last we heard the border between Kentucky and Indiana was getting hit hard with snow.  The Luts items are very close, though.  They're close enough that they might get here tomorrow.  I'm certainly very curious to see what the lady has got for you.

I guess that's all I've got to say for now.  I hope to see you soon!

Kim Ju-hwang

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The wait commences...

Around the first of the year I said that this year I'd be getting my first ball-jointed doll.  Well, two days ago I made good on that promise.  I ordered the Angel of Dream Tao Huandao that I wanted, along with four shirts, a pair of socks, a pair of shoes, a pair of jeans, some glasses, and one of those silicone wig caps that's supposed to protect the head from stains.  The website says he'll come with his own pair of eyes, and I have a wig and a yukata coming from vendors on Etsy, plus some odds and ends from Luts.  Hence my new boy, whom I've chosen to name Johnny, should be fairly well-dressed when he gets here.  I'm particularly excited about the yukata, because I ordered it from Sammy's Treat Shop.  I ordered some things from Sammy's last summer for Ju-hwang, and they came out so cute!
There was a fourth outfit in the mix, done in shades of purple, but somehow I've neglected to get a decent picture of it.  When I do remember to do that I'll update this post.  There were also some nice little extras thrown in, like a blue crocheted scarf and some bits of jewelry, and two cookies that were added as freebies.
Shannon Terrill, who owns Sammy's Treat Shop, is a pleasure to work with.  Both times that I've dealt with her she's asked me what colors I would prefer for my dolls, but at the same time she's kept an element of surprise.  She told me what my options were for Johnny's kimono (and there were quite a few), but I still have no idea what it's going to look like.  The options on Etsy looked great, though...great enough that I may just order a yukata for Ju-hwang as well.  As cost-efficient as Shannon's wares are, I could have and SHOULD HAVE done that when I ordered Johnny's!  Bottom line, I'm excited to see what Johnny's yukata will look like.

I think Alice's Collections is a Chinese crowd (correct me if I'm wrong), and I made the mistake of ordering during the Chinese New Year, so I may not get my hands on Johnny until March or April.  So now, for the first time in my life, I'm joining the ranks of dolly lovers on Den of Angels that are waiting for something special in the mail.  Okay, take that back.  Waiting for Ju-hwang was a lengthy and somewhat nerve-wracking experience, so this isn't really the first time I've done this.  But since this is my first resin ball-jointed doll I'm feeling like this is entirely new ground.  Through Ju-hwang I've learned how to place eyes and use eye putty, and I've learned a few things about restringing as well.  The problem is that Ju-hwang is plastic, while Johnny is resin.  I'd have to do something outrageously ham-handed to break Ju-hwang.  On the other hand, I don't even know what resin feels like!  I've never held, manipulated, or touched a resin ball-jointed doll.  In fact, I've never even SEEN one in real life!  The absolute last thing I want to do is get Johnny out of his box and immediately snap off a finger or scratch his face or something equally clumsy.  Keep your fingers crossed that I don't!  LOL

So while I settle in for the wait I'm going to try and find some MSD-sized knitting patterns...and maybe find a way to suede Ju-hwang's neck joint.  She always sits like a stereotypical emo kid, and that doesn't jive with the personality I've cobbled together for her.

Yours truly,