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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday randomness: China

Let it be known that petite Barbie dolls can wear some of Takara Jenny's clothes.
I'm fairly sure that not all Takara shoes will fit China's feet, but these boots work fine.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Seeking the perfect Blythe doll

About this time two years ago my search was for the perfect ball-jointed doll.  I eventually found my Johnny (and a few other resin friends too), so now it's time to land another grail.  I've been fascinated by Blythe dolls ever since I saw an advertisement for a reproduction in a TV Guide...oh, I forget how many years ago that was.  I'd seen them used as highly unusual friends for Barbie in magazines too.  My sister had developed her fear of dolls by the time I learned who Blythe was, and so that factored into my desire for one of my own.  Why?  Well...look at the commercial and you'll see what I mean.  Even die-hard doll lovers have to admit that those eyes are a little freaky.  Blythe's facial expression doesn't help much; other dolls with large, shifting eyes like Pullip and Tangkou have smiles, while Blythe...well, depending on how the head and eyes are positioned, Blythe can look ticked or innocent or sleepy or focused.  That face is a blank slate.

So long story short, I want a Blythe doll.  The problem of course is finding a nice one.  Vintage dolls are expensive, a lot of dolls have been customized to death (which I don't want), and eBay is crawling with low-quality clones, fakes and "factory" Blythes.  The truth about factory Blythe dolls was a bitter pill to swallow for me because factory Blythes are affordable and have lovely hair colors like these...
...BUT THEY'RE PHONIES!!!  Le sigh...if any of y'all remember the fit I threw over Sailor Mercury's hair then you'll know how I love unusual hair.

My sweet friend Talolili knew of a person that was selling a Blythe doll, but unfortunately I couldn't afford it at the time.  Yeah, I know I could've just owed the person, but I absolutely HATE owing people and telling them "I'll pay you when I get paid."  So I'm doing this the hard way and ordering a doll straight from the company.  Junie Moon has a ton of cute dolls, and so does Mandarake.

Since these dolls are pricey, even when they come from Junie Moon or Mandarake, I just want one.  But which one???  These dolls come in three different sizes and in a lot of variations, so that choice won't be easy.  I know I want a Neo Blythe, because they're the largest and because they apparently can share clothes with Licca-chan.  But as much as I love unnatural hair colors, I wasn't sure if I wanted a doll with natural or fantasy tresses.  Miss Emily's doll, Phoebe Maybe, has pretty but natural red hair, but her stock outfit is adorable and her hair is styled in an easy, versatile style.  One of my favorites, Orange and Spice, has plain brown hair, but in keeping with her "orange" theme she has a lovely dress.  Simply Guava and Simply Mango, both of whom I also like, have hot pink hair and light orange hair respectively, but their stock outfits are a little humdrum compared to Phoebe's and Orange's.  Guava and Mango do have one thing that Phoebe and Orange don't, though; they both come with small dogs, and both dogs happen to be breeds that I love (longhaired dachshund for Guava and Chihuahua for Mango).  And those are just some of the dolls I like! 

Orange and Spice is my favorite of the above-mentioned dolls, but I don't think Junie Moon has her anymore, and I haven't found her on Mandarake yet.  However...Junie Moon does have this little cutie.
Is that coat epic or what???  This is UFO a Go-Go, who has an obvious space theme.  She has blue-green hair (which I love), retro clothes (which I love), that star-studded jacket and hat (which I love), and...I just love this doll.  I think she's the perfect one for me.  Junie Moon still has her and if they get out of stock there, Mandarake has her too.  So unless something strange happens, UFO a Go-Go will likely be the Blythe doll I bring home.  I'll have to wait until a few more paychecks come in since the adult life has a lot of curveballs it can throw, but I definitely want this doll.  I even have a name picked out for her:  Bellatrix, after a blue giant in the constellation Orion.

When/if I do bring Miss Bellatrix home, I'll let y'all know.

Lots of love,

Throwback Thursday review: American Character Tressy and Mary Makeup

I'll bet y'all forgot what day it is!  MikeMikeMikeMikeMike...what day is it, Mike?  LOL, I couldn't resist quoting that commercial, even though it's NOT Hump Day.  Nope, it's that day that comes after Hump day, better known as Thursday, and that means another review of a discontinued or obscure doll!  We're going back to 1965 with this review.  1965...both of my parents were still in school, several towns were in shambles, Bonanza was big, the Beatles were big, and the Who were trying to become just as big.  1965 also saw the arrival of an unusual Barbie rival named Tressy, and that's what I've got today.  I've got Tressy and one of her chaps, Mary Makeup.
Once again I'll recount the stories my parents used to tell us about the dolls available during their time.  There was Barbie, Tammy, Tressy, and Popi.  Daddy said Tammy was his favorite, but Mama has proven to be quite smitten with Tressy.  She's used to me dragging random dolls home at random times, but she was thrilled when I pulled this one out of her package.  Both Tressy and Mary are products of American Character, but plenty of other companies carried the doll long after American Character's folding in 1966.  Palitoy continued to produce Tressy until 1979, which is a darn good stretch for a doll.  But anyway, my dolls are American Character dolls, and both have beauty-themed gimmicks.  Tressy is a hair-grow doll, while Mary has a specially coated face that enabled her owner to apply makeup without it staining the doll.  Don't try the makeup thing on Tressy though; I've read that Mary's makeup did a number on more than one Tressy's face. Speaking of faces, here's what Tressy looks like up close.
I got fairly lucky with Tressy.  I didn't pay much for her, and yet she has it all!  Or she's got most of it.  Her facepaint is 100% intact, complete with crazy-long eyelashes.  Like Barbie, Tammy, Pepper, and Gerda, Tressy has side-glancing eyes that are more detailed but slightly less precisely painted than Barbie's.  Her eyebrows are black, which doesn't match her light brown hair, but would very nicely match darker-haired variations.
Tressy's only other makeup is lipstick.  She has red, slightly pouty lips that don't follow the shape of the mold.
My doll is apparently either a first-wave or a second-wave doll, as the third wave had a face that could take Mary Makeup's face paint (mine can't).  How to differentiate between waves one and two will be revealed in the body review below.

Of course we can't talk about Tressy without discussing her selling point.  She has a full head of hair, plus a fall that "grows."  My doll has honey blonde hair like many of my other vintage dolls do, but other colors could be found.  When her fall is retracted Tressy bears a passing resemblance to Barbie's American Girl self, though her puffy bob favors a side-part American Girl more than it does a center-part doll like my Victorine.
In order to make Tressy's hair "grow" one had to locate the fall (not always easy), press a button on her tummy, and pull the fall gently.  It was as simple as that.  With her fall fully extended Tressy had hair down to her mid-back.
In theory a number of styles were possible for Tressy, but hairstyling has never been a strong point of mine.  When Tressy's hair is long I style it in a single braid, a low ponytail, or in a beehive.  When Tressy's fall is fully retracted I either brush it in with the rest of the hair or I attach a ribbon to the fall like so.
It's kind of a shame that Tressy doesn't have bangs, or I could style her hair like a side-part American Girl's hair, with a single ribbon across the forehead.  I probably still could do that without bangs, though.

My doll is fortunate enough to still have her original dress, a simple red jersey sheath with white edging and a deeply cut back.  She also has little white drawers, which I'm NOT going to photograph.  Perverts tend to like pictures of panties, doll panties included.  Here's the dress though.  I will show that.
The edging is a little grubby.  I'll have to take care of that.  This dress has no fasteners anywhere, by the way!  Tressy has to rely on her key to keep her dress fitted.
Oh yes, the key.  This isn't an original Tressy key but it works the same.  Tressy's hair pulls out when a button is pushed, but to retract the hair one has to use that key.  It fits into a hole in Tressy's back.  Thus why the dress is cut so low in the back.  The hole for the key can be accessed without having to completely disrobe the doll.
When not in use the key ties around Tressy's waist.  It makes a very cute belt and serves as sort of an identification tag as well.  T for Tressy!

Tressy's friend Mary Makeup is not a hair-play doll, though some Mary Makeup dolls did have the windup hair mech like Tressy did.  My Mary's hair is all rooted and it's styled in a bubble cut, not unlike the Barbie dolls of the time.  Since I don't have a bubble cut Barbie, I'm going to use my clone doll "Pam" to compare hair instead.  "Pam" is on the left and Mary is on the right.
"Pam's" name is in quotes because I know her real name now.  She's for next week's review.  Anywho, Mary's hair is nice, but not quite as nice as "Pam's" or Tressy's.  The rooting is visible in places.
Mary does have an extra little hair gimmick though, one that neither "Pam" nor Tressy have.  Her hair could be colored.  Thus why my Mary's hair is so pale.  A more vibrant fiber color would have affected the tone of the dye.

Since Mary's gimmick was makeup, she had to look relatively bare-faced for the trick to work.  Thus Mary has sparse facepaint.
Mine is missing a little of what she does have!  See her lips?
The rest of her facepaint is equally rudimentary; her eyes are royal blue with dull brown eye shadow on the lids.  Shadow and lashes were applied with the makeup kits.
Later dolls had a new paint job that made her look nice even without makeup, but my doll isn't one of those so she will have to remain a Plain Jane for now.  A properly made-up Mary Makeup doll could look as becoming as Tressy or Barbie, but until I can find a way of uploading images from an old magazine y'all will just have to take my word for it.  There was a lovely article in Haute Doll about ten years back that showed some of the things that could be done with this doll, and some of the makeovers made Mary look like a whole new doll.

Regarding clothes, Mary originally came with a sheath dress like Tressy's, key and all, but her dress could be either red or navy blue.  She could also wear Tressy's other clothes, but my doll arrived in this.
I thought this dress was mommy-made until I saw a group of my friend's vintage dollies.  In the group is an ash blonde Twist-n-Turn Barbie, and she is wearing the exact same dress!  My friend was annoyed that the dress stained his doll's body, in fact.  So much for it being mommy-made!  So my buddy and I have a bit of a conundrum right now, as neither of us know who made that dress!  It looks similar (but not identical) to a dress made for Ellie Mae Clampett and Calico Lassie.  Maker aside, the dress fits both Mary and Tressy nicely, and it's very cute.  Look at this fabric!  Butterflies!!!
Regarding clothes sharing, Tressy and Mary have bodies that are highly similar to the older Barbie body. For this comparison we turn again to my reproduction American Girl Barbie, Victorine.
Tressy is taller than Barbie by about half a centimeter, and her rear appears to be smaller than Barbie's, but at first glance that appears to be the extent of the differences.  Both Tressy and Mary move like a vintage Barbie.  They have swiveling shoulders, swiveling hips with no lateral movement, and a neck that pivots.  They can sit, stand on their heads, and do front-back splits.
Tressy's neck is understandably a little stiff in order to accommodate her gimmick, but otherwise she and Mary match Victorine's old vintage-style Barbie body quite well.  By the way, notice that both Tressy and Mary can keep their legs together when they sit.  That is how one tells a first-wave Tressy from a second-wave Tressy.  First-wave dolls sat with their legs in a V like Tammy does.  This will be a crucial point in clothes sharing.

Since Tressy and Mary are of a similar size to Barbie, they can wear Barbie's old dress.  To my surprise, the bodice is just a smidge tight, meaning that Tressy's bosom is a tiny bit bigger than Barbie's.  She and Mary can still wear the dress, though.
All of my TNT-sized clothes fit in a similar manner:  a little tight across the chest, a little loose across the rear, close enough of a fit to wear.  Unfortunately, most of the shoes I've got for my Barbie dolls don't fit Tressy or Mary.  The arches and heels of their feet aren't high enough.

The handful of outfits seen above are the extent of my vintage and reproduction outfits.  Oh sure, I've got some things from the eighties and nineties that Tressy and Mary can wear, but the bulk of my Barbie wardrobe consists of modern-day pieces, stuff that Mattel made to fit the new bellybutton body.  Just for the heck of it, I tried two of my newest outfits on Tressy...and I was in for a shock.  Tressy can wear them, shoes and all!
The outfit on the left has a lot of stretch, while the outfit on the right has a halter neck with virtually no back.  Thus they can fit over Tressy's sizable bust.  Both pairs of shoes are a little too small, but they fit well enough to suit me.  Not all of Barbie's current stuff will fit Tressy and Mary, by the way.  There was a third outfit involved in the above photo shoot, a pair of jeans and a top, and while the jeans fit, the top was not stretchy enough.  There was also that pink dress that I recently reviewed; it proved to be too tight for Mary's bosom.  Still, it's good to know that there are some things out there that can fit these old American Character dolls.  The styles are hit-and-miss, but there ARE modern-day items that will fit Tressy and Mary.  This may mean that my old TNT dolls can wear these dresses too...I'll have to try that in the future.

Speaking of old-style Barbie dolls, they can benefit from this Barbie-Tressy trade-off as well.  Tressy's red sheath fits Victorine without any problems...
...as does the yellow dress, though I prefer that one on a red-haired doll like Marie.
"Pam" can also wear both outfits with aplomb.  Here's the red one...
 ...and the yellow one.
Just for grins, I want to see if Tressy's sheath is loose enough to fit my curvy Barbie dolls.  I've got two now, Billie Jean and Deb.
As usual Billie Jean's blue hair clashes strongly with the vibrant red dress, but this fits both her and Deb nicely.  The belt that held Tressy's key did not fit, and I wish it did because the dress is baggy and a little plain without something around the waist.  I do like the bright red on Deb's dark skin though, so seeking out a proper belt or sash will be worth the while.

Of course one can't compare Tressy to Barbie without bringing Tammy into the fray.  They did all occupy the same part of the sixties, after all.  Tammy and Tressy are of similar construction, being stiff all over, but Tressy can wear Barbie's clothes with far more consistency than Tammy can.  There are two crucial reasons why this is so.  One reason is measurement.  Tressy's measurements are closer to Barbie's than Tammy's are (notice that Tressy is taller than Tammy too).
The other reason is jointing.  Tammy has hips that make her sit like a bimbo on Quaaludes, while Tressy can keep her legs together when she sits, as discussed above.  This allows Tressy to wear pencil skirts and slacks and other items like that, while Tammy is largely restricted to full-skirted dresses.  Hmmm...the butterfly dress is a full-skirted dress. 
This dress fits Tammy so perfectly that I looked all over for an Ideal tag.  No dice, but I love how this looks!  Plus, I doubt it'll stain Tammy's body like it can a TNT doll's body.

I don't know what else to say, so I'll start wrapping it up.

*Gimmicks may have been hard to handle for American Character's target audience.  Not all kids are patient enough to twist Tressy's hair into a decent style or get Mary's eyelashes straight.
*The early dolls were/are stiff, though most dolls were back then.
*Early dolls couldn't share gimmicks back and forth.
*Later dolls looked a little dowdy with their makeup-free faces.
*Shoe-sharing is hit-and-miss.

*Gimmicks were groundbreaking for the time.
*Hair is soft and very pretty.  Mary's is a little things, but Tressy doesn't have that problem.
*Mary's face paint is a little sparse, but both of my girls are well painted otherwise.
*Can share clothes with Barbie.
*Can wear some modern-day Barbie clothes and shoes.

Tressy and Mary are not perfect.  Mary, being a makeup doll, is a little plain in the face and her hair is thin in places.  Tressy's biggest selling point may not have been the easiest to use for butter-fingered children, though American Character did rectify that with styling tools and a little how-to manual for hairstyles.  Both dolls are a little on the stiff side, but in their defense Barbie and Tammy were too.  Posing did get better for Tressy and her crew as the line progressed.  So even though these dolls aren't perfect, I'm very fond of them.  Learning that they can wear some modern-day Barbie outfits was a treat, and that discovery also bodes well for similarly-sized dolls.  Based on the pros and cons I recommend both Tressy and Mary Makeup for any collector that isn't a Barbie purist.  Their approachable faces provide a nice departure from Barbie's heavily lidded stare.

Much love,

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday randomness: Emiko update

An a post a few weeks back I spoke of Emiko, one of my Takara dolls.  Her neck broke and her head came off, necessitating a new body.  I ordered an Obitsu body from Junky Spot and it arrived in a timely manner, but there's a lot to talk about so the review isn't ready yet.  In the meantime here's how Emiko looks now.
She can do a lot of things that she couldn't do with her old Takara body, but the Obitsu body does have some limitations.

Happy Sunday,

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Mattel Starr

It's time for a Throwback Thursday review again!  Today we look at Starr, who is considered by some to be a Barbie clone.  I received one Starr in that bag of dolls that I talked about three years back (the same one that Maxie came in), and I bought the others from a Facebook friend.  Here's my first Starr...before I took care of that messy hair.
Starr is a Mattel doll like Barbie, and originally I thought she was created to compete with my childhood friend Maxie instead of rival Barbie.  However, Starr is quite a bit older than Maxie is, being available in 1979.  Sindy was available stateside around this time, and Starr's high number of joints make me wonder if she wasn't supposed to compete with Sindy!  I have no proof of this, but the timing does make me wonder.  But first, a backstory.  What else?  Starr's backstory is simple and not very original:  she's your stereotypical attractive high-schooler with a nerdy friend, a goofy-looking "zany" friend, and a boyfriend.  Hmmm...the beauty and the nerd, friends???  That's not the way I remember high school!  But anyway, that's pretty much it.  It was a simple storyline that allowed for kids to get free with their imaginations.  So let's take a look at these!  I've got four of Starr herself and one of nerdy friend Kelley, whom my mother adores.
My friend also included this doll in the mix.
I have a couple of ideas about this doll's identity, but since she's made out of hollow plastic I jokingly call her Polythene Pam.  I may review Pam in the future but now let's focus on Starr again.  Despite her backstory, Starr doesn't look like the stereotypical mean pretty teenager.  She actually looks pretty sweet!  She's got blue eyes that have a slightly anime-ish flavor, heavy sky-blue eyeshadow, and pink lips, but she's not gone overboard with her makeup like some teenagers did (me).
With slight variations, all my Starr dolls are like this.  Some of them have faded a little, but for the most part they all look the same.  Kelley, being a different character, has a slightly different face.
She looks friendly and approachable, just like Starr.  Her hair is dark red, her eyes are teal, her eyeshadow is pale lavender, and the rest of her makeup is subtle.  In fact, her makeup is so subtle that the lower lip is almost completely unpainted.  Believe it or not, I actually like that paint; it looks like Kelley is chewing on her lower lip in a bashful sort of way.  Very cute.  I love Kelley's eyes too.  I don't own too many dolls with teal eyes.  Both dolls have eyebrows that are a shade darker than their actual hair, which is a good thing.

Now, hair.  Starr's hair is light blonde, very thick, and styled in tight curls like so.
Kelley's hair is worn in the same style.
This hair is difficult to style and impossible to brush, and if not cared for properly it'll turn into a giant mass of irreparably tangled fluff.  My first doll's hair was so matted that I ended up having to cut it and tie it up.
Her hair actually looks halfway decent when tied up, believe it or not.  This is a style that I wore quite often myself when I had long hair (I recently got the crap cut), so it's reasonable to assume that a teenager like Starr would too.  But the point is that these dolls have hair that's very difficult to control.  The hair fibers themselves are very fine and the curls are very thick, so usually once they go out of control it's hard to tame that mane again without doing something drastic.  I do have one exception, however.  This one has hair in smooth ringlets.
All of my dolls have hair that's a little on the thin side in terms of rooting; it's possible to see this Starr's scalp shining through in the picture above.  Usually the styles make the roots next to invisible, so no biggie if the rooting is a smidge thin.  Unfortunately, the smooth curls on this doll make her scalp a little more visible.

Starr and Kelley are slim, tall dolls, more so than Barbie was at the time.  Here's how Starr compares visually to Farrah, a Malibu Barbie from the same part of the decade. 
When I first saw Starr's body and its similarities to that of Beauty Secrets Barbie, I thought she might be a doll from the same line.  They're not from the same line of course, but look how alike their shoulders are!
Starr is slimmer than Sindy and of similar size to P. Bo.
Even though I know now that Maxie and Starr are two decades apart, I still love to pose the two together.
Though they are both supposed to be high school-aged girls, Starr and Maxie are quite different, just like real teenagers are.  Starr is tall and slim, while Maxie is shorter and thicker all over.
Maxie's paws dwarf Starr's dainty little hands...
...but strangely, the two dolls have similarly sized feet. 
Maxie feels like a higher quality doll overall.  She feels sturdier and her hair is easy to play with.  Starr can pose rings around Maxie, though.

Starr and Sindy have different measurements, but their jointing is highly similar.  Starr doesn't have Sindy's jointed ankles, but otherwise the two dolls jointed in the same manner.  They don't hold poses in the same way, though.  Starr can bend her elbow to a sharper angle.
Both dolls can do a bridge, but Starr's loose shoulders won't hold her in the pose.
Lastly, Sindy can achieve a full side split.  Starr cannot.
In addition to loose shoulders some of Starr's other joints are fragile.  Some of my dolls have chipped or cracked wrists.
These cracks and chips don't affect the mobility, but I'm extra careful with these wrists just the same.  Also an issue are some of the waists.  All of my dolls have varying degrees of looseness at the waist joint, with Kelley and Ringlet Starr being the worst.
Ringlet Starr can stand up straight with some effort, but Kelley can't stand up straight at all.  She always looks a little like she belongs on the street with P. Bo, leaning against a mailbox and looking tough.  These loose waists are fixable, but they're still a mega pain in the butt.

In addition to the dolls I was sent several outfits, plus most of Kelley's stock outfit.  Here's what they look like.
Wait a minute...is one of those getups a poodle skirt set???  Yep!  I tried it on Ami, in fact.  Why on Earth would Starr be wearing a getup like this in 1979???  It sure is cute, though.  These are all cute outfits, and with the exception of the poodle skirt they're timeless.  There are a lot of mix and match options, so that's a big plus.  To my great surprise, one piece has an unusual oversight:  the pink blouse that came with the poodle skirt set has nothing to hold it closed.  No snaps, no Velcro, nothing.
This particular outfit is showing some minor signs of age, mainly in the form of the poodle motif peeling off.  The glue holding it on is the problem; it's stiffened and lost its tack with age.  Easy fix.
Only the polka-dot dress came with accessories.  It came with a yellow velour purse and a "math book" that is really just a sheet of folded paper.
The purse opens and closes, thanks to that gold bead.  It fits through a hole in the flap of the purse.

Shoes are ordinary, just your typical tennis shoes that Mattel issued.  I've only got two pairs, one in red and one in white.
The red shoes are a bit bigger than the white ones, which may mean they were intended to fit over Kelley's thick socks.  And sure enough, they fit.
The white shoes are too small to fit over Kelley's socks, so I think I may have found a reason for the size difference.  Both pairs are too big for Barbie and too small for P. Bo, but Maxie can wear both pairs with ease.
The red shoes are not colorfast, by the way.  They've stained Kelley's socks and Starr's feet.  The staining on Starr's feet isn't super-obvious, but it's there.
In addition to having her own threads, Starr can wear some of Barbie's modern-day duds.  This outfit is one of those.  Again, Ami stole it briefly, but now Starr is wearing it again.
I love how some outfits intended for Barbie are emblazoned with her year of release.  One of Ken's outfits is the same way, only his has a 61 on it.  But unsurprisingly, I digress.  This outfit has a black tube top worn underneath the main top, and it was tight on Ami.  The same top fits Starr perfectly, while the outer top and the skirt are a little loose.

Maxie's measurements are flattered the most by loose-fitting Fashionista outfits, but these same dresses look baggy on Starr's willowy body (left).  In a similar manner, dresses that are too tight for Maxie (right) fit Starr like a dream.
As an aside, the purple dress is printed all the way around.
Dammit, Mattel, it wouldn't kill y'all to print more dresses all the way around!  It looks so much better that way.  Ahem...older Barbie dresses like this Quick Curl Kelley dress may be a bit loose.  I haven't tried it until now.
I turned out to be completely wrong about this dress.  It's a teensy bit loose, but it doesn't bag around Starr's bust like it does Emiko's.  This could easily be one of my favorite looks for Starr. 

Another of my favorite looks for Starr is this outfit, one that I made myself.
This pattern was intended for a Barbie doll, but as is often the case with my attempts at crocheted doll clothes, it came out too small.  It fits Starr with very little fuss, though.  It also fits my Francie-bodied dolls, and that gives me another inspiration for clothes.  I got interesting results with the handful of Francie clothes I own.
My Francie is a 30th anniversary reproduction so neither of those outfits are legit vintage pieces.  The swimsuit is obviously too small; I probably could have forced it the rest of the way up, but that might have stretched it out and wrecked it.  The reproduction "Gad Abouts" set is looser than the swimsuit so it fit almost perfectly.  The sweater is a little short in both the bodice and the sleeves, but otherwise it all fits.  Francie's dainty little shoes are too small for Starr's feet, though.  So loose Francie clothes are a yes, but shoes and tight clothes are a no for Starr.

This next dress is a family favorite; both Mama and I are very fond of it.  Jenny usually wears it, but in truth it's a Bandai Barbie dress.
From the front this looks okay, though very short.  However...
...it's too tight across the bust.  The Velcro doesn't even close in back!

After that I wasn't betting on the Skipper dress fitting, but...
...I was wrong again!  This dress has a lot of stretch in it, making me wonder how well a less stretchy oufit would fit.  Starr can almost wear Skipper's apricot mules, but her feet are just a smidge too long.
Then there's Maxie's puffy pink dress.
Maxie's dress bags around Starr's bust, as it does on Maxie.  The skirt is also short, though not obscenely so.  I would put this on Starr in a pinch, but I don't think it really suits her.

P. Bo came with two outfits, as you may or may not recall.  I also threw in the Barbie Fashion Avenue outfit that I left Bo in at the end of her review. 
The black tracksuit is constructed in an odd manner so it was hard to dress Starr in it.  Once it IS on, though, it looks and fits great.  The red and white outfit is a little tight, surprisingly enough.  The shorts are tight enough that they were hard to pull up, and they restrict Starr's hip joints as well.  The Velcro fastens on all pieces and Bo's do-rag fits nicely over Starr's head, but these pieces are tight enough that I probably won't try this outfit again.  The Fashion Avenue set is a little big on Starr, just like it is on Bo.  But like Bo, the fit is close enough that Starr can wear it.  The top even has her name on it, though it's missing an R.  As an added bonus, Starr can wear Bo's shoes.

At some point during the Flavas clothing session, Lola decided to crash the party.
I think Lola knows she's cute.  LOL, such interruptions are commonplace when you have pets...especially young, boisterous, gregarious cats!!!  Right then, next dress.  I predict that Sindy's dress will fit loosely.
Well okay, I was partially right.  Sindy's dress is loose around the shoulders, but not at the waist.  This dress is supposed to be worn off the shoulder anyway, so the loose fit isn't a huge deal.  Sindy's stock dress is a safe choice for Starr.  So even though Starr's body is quite different from the other dolls I've got in her scale, she has a wide range of options in the clothing department.  Most of Barbie's modern-day stuff will fit, as will some Flavas clothes, some Francie clothes, and some of Sindy's things.  The only shoes that will fit her are Flavas shoes and her own, and maybe some Teen Skipper shoes will work if one isn't bothered by the imperfect fit.  But still, that's quite a few choices for Kelley and the Starr quads.  So what do I like and dislike about these dolls?

*Most of my dolls have hair that's hard to style, impossible to brush, and easy to tangle.
*Some of the joints are floppy or fragile.
*Most of the extra outfits did not come with shoes.
*One outfit came with no fasteners for the top.
*I didn't run into this last problem myself since I only own Starr and Kelley, but Starr's "zany" friend Tracy usually had a less than stellar paint job.  She had such a toothy smile that it was hard to keep the white paint inside the lip margins.  Starr and Kelley dodged this bullet, but if you choose to collect these dolls keep a wary eye for bad paint. 

*My set of dolls are well painted, though a couple have started to fade over time.  
*Unique eye colors.  I almost never see dolls with teal eyes like Kelley's, or with periwinkle eyes like the MIA Tracy's.
*Cute, well-made clothes with several pieces that can be mixed and matched.
*Thick hair hides any thin spots that may exist.  Let's face it, all dolls have thin spots.
*Concept, while not original, would've been easy for kids to relate to.
*The female dolls can wear a nice variety of other dolls' clothes.  I'm curious now about what the boy doll, Shaun, can wear.

Despite the lack of originality and the easily tangled hair, I like Starr and Kelley quite a bit.  Kelley is probably my favorite of the bunch; I love her shy, approachable expression and her red hair.  I also love how Kelley stands out from her friends, all of whom are blonde, blue-eyed Starr dolls.  This is a delightful line though.  The clothes are colorful and fairly innocent, and the dolls themselves are believable images of teenagers.  Instead of being overly glamorous or seductive, they're just cute friends out to have a good time.  The girls' joints give them a leg up over Barbie, but unfortunately the joints also make these dolls feel fragile.  Kelley and one of the Starr sisters have floppy waists, three of my five have cracked or chipped wrists, and all of them have loose shoulders.  The floppy waists can be fixed and the loose shoulders don't bother me much, but the chipped wrists DO bother me.  I don't want my girls losing their hands like poor Rio did!  Being gentle is key, I suppose, but I can't help wondering how many of these dolls ended up losing their hands after a play session.  Based on that I wouldn't recommend Starr to a very young child, but since these dolls are over thirty years old I doubt many young children are going to play with them anyway.  I do recommend at least one of these to an adult collector though, particularly if that collector gets tired of the same-old, same-old with Barbie.  Starr may not be able to wear all of Barbie's cute little shoes, but she'll make a great model for vintage and modern dresses!

Yours truly,