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Friday, December 29, 2017

Dolly Dress Discussion: the return of Chococat and the Little Twin Stars

In a continuation of the Hello Kitty-themed posts, I made good on my promise to make Ketsana and Billie Jean coordinate.  I was able to land both the Chococat top and the Little Twin Stars outfit, so here's how they'll go.  First, the Chococat top.
I could tell by the shape of this top that it was going to be a tunic, but I wasn't expecting it to be cropped in the front.  So cute, though it makes me tempted to give Ketsana a faux bellybutton ring.  As a nice little extra, the hems of this top are stitched with pale blue thread.
That helps break things up a bit.

Okay, it's obvious from this print that the character shown IS Pete the Cat Chococat.  But the pattern is different from that on the dress.  The dress has Chococat in full body, while the blouse just has his head making cute expressions.
Oh, and dig this:  the Chococat shirt is printed on the back!
I'm pleased about that, but it also ticks me some because that could've been done for the dress too.  Le sigh.  At least Ketsana and Billie Jean look cute together, right?
Look, the blue hem on the top coordinates with the blue dress!  As a last little tidbit, the insides of Chococat's ears are the same color as Ketsana's sandals.
As cute as Ketsana and Billie Jean are in their Chococat garb, I'm dying to see how they look in their Little Twin Stars getups.  Billie Jean will be getting the new stuff this time, if all goes the way I want it to.  According to their online info the Little Twin Stars celebrate a birthday on Christmas Eve, so too bad I didn't get this post up in time for that.  Anyway, I'm going to shove Ketsana back into the Little Twin Stars blouse now and see how the coordinating dress set looks on Billie Jean.
To my complete surprise, this outfit proved to be too tight on Billie Jean's curvy frame...or the skirt did.  I couldn't get her legs to move in this getup, so I had to take it off.  The pencil skirt begs for a pair of long legs anyway, so I dragged out another of my tall dolls.  Meet Gertrude, better known as Fashionista #29 "Terrific in Teal."
The top is a little boxy on her, but I don't guess that can be helped.  I absolutely do not want to jeopardize the structural integrity of that skirt by forcing it onto Billie Jean's voluptuous hips.  The top is your cute little T-shirt with nice thick pink hems and an image of the Little Twin Stars dominating the front.
This necklace was included; it's a mold I own already, but in a different color.
Here's the skirt, the item of clothing that proved to be troublesome for Billie Jean.  It suits Gertrude's longer legs better, I think.  The print is a nocturnal sky scene, with the Little Twin Stars and other cutesy little items here and there in nice pastel shades.
And dig this:  the skirt is printed on the front and the back.  Proof that the Chococat dress could have been printed on the back too...if Mattel weren't so blithering chintzy!
In the long run I'm actually glad that Gertrude had to wear that Little Twin Stars set, because it makes the final group picture look better!
If only Mattel's policy of printing things on the front only weren't alive and kicking, I'd give these little Hello Kitty outfits a 100 A+.  But that's par for the course with Mattel clothes whether they're Sanrio-licensed or not, so I guess I'll just have to live with it.  Otherwise these are great little pieces, perfect for adding something a little different to a Barbie's wardrobe.

Now, digression time...sort of.  I've spoken quite a bit with fellow blogger Presto about these Sanrio clothes, and both of us are pleased with the direction that this line of dolly duds is going (she's got her own post about some of these same outfits that I discussed, in fact).  Needless to say we've both got our ideas about characters we'd like to see immortalized on Barbie clothing; I've mentioned a fondness for Keroppi given my love for frogs, but Presto's picks trump him any day.  Her choices are Aggretsuko and Kuromi, two characters that I'd never heard of until she mentioned them.  Who are they?  Well...the relatively new creation known as Aggretsuko is a riot, and she's also a pretty far cry from sugar-and-spice Hello Kitty and her friends.  Oh sure, she's drawn the same way and all that, but don't let her adorableness fool you.  She's a red panda (I love red pandas), she hates her job, and she deals with this hatred in a very creative way.  I think Aggretsuko may be my new hero, in fact, particularly after a day spent with Coworker A, who continues to be an irascible old git.  Ahem...as for Kuromi, she's My Melody's rival, and in terms of appearance one could also say she's My Melody's antithesis as well.  She's a white bunny rabbit like My Melody, but her headgear is a black jester's hat with ears instead of a hood.  She has a hidden softer side, like many villains and antagonists do.  I like Presto's line of thinking, and I hope that those two will indeed become visible on Barbie's clothes.  Since Aggretsuko deals with a more grown-up concept she even might make a good theme for a collector-level Barbie.  We'll see how that goes, I suppose.

Got any plans for the new year?  Any resolutions?  I don't!  LOL, I could do to resolve to lose some weight, but that'll be tricky since our New Year celebration could very well consist of us glutting on homemade chocolate chip cookies while chatting it up with First and Second Uncle.  IF the weather holds, that is.  If it snows First Uncle probably won't bother to come down...and snow is predicted for this Friday.  I hate winter.

Hugs, kisses, and cookies,

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Ideal Shirley Temple

DISCLAIMER:  this doll is not, repeat, NOT MY DOLL.  Not yet, anyway.  When Grandma passes away she'll be mine, but I'm in no hurry for her to be mine yet.  Grandma generously allowed me to review her Shirley Temple doll for my blog, so here she is!  I dedicate this post to my fellow blogger Tam, who is fond of the dimpled curly top.
I'm not a tremendous fan of Shirley's movies (they're a little too syrupy sweet for my liking), but I've always nursed a fondness for the child star.  She was a doll collector like me, and she appeared to have a nice personality off-camera as well as on.  She didn't become a brainless trollop when she grew up like child stars do today (Miley Cyrus, I'm looking at you), but retained her class AND her beauty!  Her life wasn't all peaches and cream, either; she had to put up with a stage mom and overzealous fans as a child and fought breast cancer as an adult, so she was very...well, very HUMAN, unlike modern-day celebrities who seem to get almost anything they want.  I also often wonder about something else:  Miss Temple had two brothers.  Their names were John and George, they both attractive in their own right, but apparently they were not famous.  I wonder what THAT was like, being in a family where one kid was famous and the other two weren't.  Must've gotten hairy...or maybe the boys were mature enough by then to be proud of their younger sister rather than jealous.  This picture of George and Shirley implies that they were close, even if it was probably posed.  I dunno.  Anywho, like the majority of my family's hand-me-down dolls Shirley has a story, one that I share in this post.  Ideal made these dolls in several different sizes and mediums, with this one being eighteen inches tall and made completely of composition.  Yep, composition again!  I promise next week will be something a little less old-school!  Anywho, Shirley is eighteen inches tall like my American Girls (Denise is the one I chose, still dressed in her Hanukkah finery).  I also threw in Rael, who is twenty-three inches and towers over both Shirley and Denise.
Yep, Denise finally got to meet Shirley Temple!  Xenia will have to wait a little longer; it was hard enough to lug Denise and Rael over to Grandma's without another fat little doll to hold onto!  LOL, let's begin now.  Being a composition doll, Shirley is a little rough around the edges, sporting light cracks and crazing all over.  Most of the compo dolls I've seen are either wigged or have molded hair, with Shirley falling into the former category.  Her wig is close to the real little girl's hair color, at least as far as I can tell.  The fibers feel like mohair and the wig is not thinning or falling apart like some of my dolls' wigs, but the cap is still visible in a few places.
Curls are mandatory for Shirley Temple dolls of any size or medium, and this Shirley is no exception.  Her curls have loosened and look a little wild now, but she still has them!  She has a center part, and since this is a Stand Up and Cheer doll (or so I thought) she also sports a red hair bow.
Interesting fact:  Shirley Temple's hair was not naturally curly.  She wore curlers every night and got vinegar rinses once a week that burned her eyes.  The result was impossibly perfect-looking hair that led to fans running up to Shirley in the street and yanking on her hair to see if it was wigged.  Due to behavior like that and the brutal permanent Shirley reportedly hated her curls and once vocalized a desire to have a hairstyle like Amelia Earhart's.

Down now, to the face.  That iconic Shirley Temple face.
I don't think these composition dolls do as good a job of portraying the actress as the later vinyl dolls do, but this doll is still easily recognizable as Shirley Temple.  She's got some crazing and staining here and there, par for the course with a composition doll, but she's nowhere near as bad off as my Creepy Babies are.  Not that Shirley doesn't have creepy moments of her own; like all dolls her age, she's capable of looking very, very dead.
Let's forget we saw that now and start picking this face apart.  Shirley has delicate brown eyebrows that have rubbed off a little over the years, and hazel sleep eyes that are very cloudy.  I know how to fix cloudy Little Miss Revlon eyes, but not these.  They're a lovely color though.
This clouding appears to be fairly commonplace, as evidenced by this Eegee Miss Charming and this Effanbee Patsy.  It really is a shame too, because all three of these dolls have/had brown eyes.  For me this is a particularly nice change, because nearly all of the dolls I've recently reviewed have blue eyes.  Now, I love blue eyes.  Heck, I even have blue eyes, as do most of my family.  But as Tam wisely noted in one of her recent posts, not everyone WANTS a doll with blue eyes, especially if they don't have blue eyes themselves.  Even those of us who do have blue eyes like a little variety, thus why I always am pleased to see hazel, brown, green, or particularly gray eyes.  I'm fond of gray eyes for some reason, but I like Shirley's brown eyes too.  As I said, I wish they were in better shape!  Shirley isn't as bad as the dolls I showed in the links, but she's getting there and I have no idea how to fix it.  But wait...it gets worse!!!  Sometimes Shirley's eyes slip out of alignment and look like this!
Ye gods, that's just plain creepy.  Luckily this is fixable; I lie Shirley on her back and shake her head a little, and her eyes pop shut.

Under more crazing Shirley has her cute little button nose with nostrils painted in, lightly blushed cheeks, and red lips.  The mouth area is particularly interesting in that it's open, with little white teeth and a felt tongue showing.
This effect hearkens back to older dolls like Jumeau and Kestner, many of whom had teeth showing.  This type of mouth is highly expressive, but it does have one serious pitfall:  like all tight spaces, open mouths catch dirt, and as a result Shirley looks like she hasn't brushed her teeth in a long, long time.  I wish water weren't such a big Bozo no-no with composition dolls, because I'd love to give that dirty little mouth a good cleaning! 

Now to the body.  Like the vast majority of all-compo dolls Shirley's joints are strung, and like the vast majority of dolls with strung joints Shirley's cord is giving out.  That's no surprise considering the age of this doll, but it does mean I'll have to restring her in the future, something I've only done once.  Take it from a ball-jointed doll owner:  the first time can be (pardon the language) a bitch.  My first restringing job was with my hypersensitive MSD boy Johnny, and I don't think he's ever forgiven me for the indignity of it...in fact, I KNOW he hasn't, because getting him to pose is a pain in the butt now!  Tangent aside, Shirley is very floppy (thank goodness I didn't make THAT mistake with Johnny).  I can get her to sit if I position her very carefully...
...but getting her to stand up without support?  Forget it!  The group picture I took earlier with Rael and Denise???  Rael is holding Shirley up!   More often standing Shirley up either results in a zombie doll...
...or a complete collapse, like so.
Even using a stand doesn't work, but then again, this is the wrong size stand.
Like all good Shirley Temple dolls, this one is marked "Shirley Temple" on her neck...
...AND on her back!
That's pretty cool, but I wonder why she's not marked "Ideal"?  Ideal is usually pretty good about marking their dolls, but I see no company mark anywhere.  I guess stamping Shirley's name on her neck and back was enough.  As an aside, notice how indistinct this marking is compared to Anita's.  For a refresher, here's what Anita's marking looks like.
If I didn't know better I'd say that Anita was plastic as distinct as that marking is, but there's no trace of doubt in my mind that she's compo like Shirley.  Speaking of compo, it's possible to see crazing all over Shirley's body, but it's not as bad as her face.  Her left hand and left hip show the worst of this.
And I haven't even talked about the basic shape of the body yet!  Here is where Shirley will differ from Anita and my other composition dolls.  Sally and Lili Marlene have cloth bodies with composition parts, while Tommy and Anita have cloth bodies with rubber limbs and composition hands.  Shirley is compo all over, and since she's the first all-compo doll that I've "owned" this could get interesting.  Since I'm no expert on compo I can only make commentary on what I see, but I'll try to do this fairly and accurately.  Shirley has an appropriately-shaped little girl's body, with a rounded, undeveloped torso and chubby limbs.
She's got the merest suggestion of a bellybutton...
...and cute little dimples above her tushie.
Interestingly, there is also an 18 stamped on the back of her left thigh.  Not sure what that's for, but it undoubtedly served a purpose at one time.
<discuss the limbs further>
Her legs are straight with flat feet and joints at the hips.  She has a little bit of definition around her knee.
To give y'all an idea of the difference in molding, here's what Shirley's hand looks like next to Anita's hand.  Composition limbs just don't take to the mold as well as rubber does.
Shirley does have one thing that none of my other compo dolls do, though:  her feet are dusty, but it's possible to see dabs of pink paint highlighting her fingernails and toenails.
DIGRESSION:  This touches on the difference in molding seen above.  There exists in the dolly world a rather rare entity from American Character named Sally Jane.  Sally Jane looks like a Shirley Temple doll and indeed was apparently marketed as a lookalike during the 1930's even though Sally Jane's hair is brown and not as tightly curled.  If one is fortunate enough to find a Sally Jane doll one may notice that her fingers are more sharply defined than Shirley's (just like Anita's), even though she may LOOK like composition.  Why is this?  Because Sally Jane was an all-rubber doll, made out of this nice stuff called Paratex.  Paratex looked like composition but was heavier and wouldn't break, chip, or scuff.  It could also be washed if one was the type who fancied bathing their dolls (I always loved giving my dollies a bath when I was a kid).  Why do I bring this up?  Oh, just in case someone is browsing in their favorite antique store and comes across a "compo" doll with sharply defined fingers.  If you do, and if she's affordable, GRAB HER!!!  I've never once seen a Sally Jane doll for sale, not in antique stores, not on eBay, NOWHERE!!!  She's rare, so if any of y'all are fortunate enough to find one at a reasonable price don't pass her up!

LOL, where was I?  Oh yes, back to Shirley.  Having a Shirley Temple doll this size makes me wish even more that I had a Sally Jane to compare her to, as I think Sally Jane came in a size that would've enabled clothes sharing.  Not that Shirley's outfit isn't adequate, of course!  She's wearing her Stand Up and Cheer garb, a white dress with red trim, plus matching underthings.
Actually...now that I compare this dress to the real thing I don't think this is the Stand Up and Cheer dress at all.  The dress Shirley wore in that flick had red polka dots and red ribbons (as Miss Shirley herself reveals in this image), but this dress has white polka dots and no ribbons.
The polka dots are more like little pinpricks of embroidery than they are honest-to-God polka dots, but they get the job done.
While the dress isn't covered in red polka dots, it does have red trim in the form of piping on the neckline and ric-rac on the sleeves, bodice, and skirt.
In a departure from some modern-day doll clothes, the interior of Shirley's dress is impeccably finished, with no loose ends or sloppy-looking raw edges to be seen.
The back closes with two little snaps, one at the neckline and one at the waist.
Under her dress Shirley wears a simple tulle petticoat.  This slips down and likes to peek out from under the dress at inopportune times.
Similarly, these panties are cute but ordinary, typical little dolly drawers that I'd expect to see on any doll of this era.  They're nice though; the elastic still stretches, and the legs have dainty little chains of lace.
Even though this outfit is not a perfect likeness of the Stand Up and Cheer dress, I'm calling it that anyway.  There's just too many similarities for it not to be that dress.  In regards to the condition, the dress and panties are discolored from age (par for the course with an old white dress) and the elastic on the slip and the sleeves has worn out, but this is a delightful little doll dress.  Ideal never fails to please me with their products.

Shirley's shoes are interesting.  They're gold open-toed sandals with center snaps, like so...
...but look closer at those snaps.
Not only are the snaps not fastened, but they're also sewn in place.  Now that...that surprises me.  That's not like Ideal (or any big-name toy company of that era) to do something as sloppy as get the wrong size of doll shoe and just sew it into place.  I figure this was mommy-done at some point or another, particularly since I can't ever remember Shirley Temple wearing sandals like this.  I remember her wearing shoes like mary-janes or T-straps or wooden shoes from the famous Heidi dream sequence, but not golden sandals.  They'll do for now, though.

I think that sums it up pretty well.

*The eyes are the worst part of this doll.  Eyes give a face so much expression, and age has clouded Shirley's eyes completely, making her look lifeless.
*Composition has a fair amount of crazing, though this is a normal part of the aging process for dolls of this medium.
*Strings are loose
*Shoes are sewn on

*Uh...she's freaking SHIRLEY TEMPLE!!!  You can't beat a Shirley Temple doll, even if you're not a fan of her flicks.
*Compo, though crazed, is in much better shape than that of some my other dolls. 
*Clothes are well-constructed, with no loose ends or holes or anything.
*Wig has no huge mats or clumps (mohair sometimes does that)
*Most of the flaws are repairable

So my old Shirley has her faults, but as with a great many things constructed in the olden days, she was built to last.  I can restring her without too many problems, and if I choose I can send her to a dolly doctor to have her face repainted and her eyes fixed/replaced.  I also may replace those shoes, since they don't fit properly and don't look like the shoes Shirley wore in Stand Up and Cheer anyway.  In short, I could've done better with this doll by buying one in better shape...but God only knows how much that would've cost!  Besides, this isn't my doll anyway; we bought her for Grandma and Grandma loved her.  If Grandma ever gets to come home (and that's looking increasingly unlikely) it would be nice to surprise her with a clean, restrung dolly.  But flaws aside this is a nice doll, a testament to the pride that manufacturers once took in their work.  She probably made some little kid very happy long ago, and she still has the power to charm today.

Much love,