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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Across the other pond: Yue-Sai WaWa review

I promised our readers last year that this series on Asian dolls would continue, and I fully intend to make good on that promise.  The problem was waiting for the rest of the dolls to come.  One of them never DID come, so I'm just going to pick this up where I left off.  This one is my first (and so far, only) doll representing China, and sadly I did not have this review up in time for Chinese New Year like I originally planned.  She's not necessarily from China that I know of, but she is advertised heavily on a website that sells Chinese learning aids, so I'm counting her in this series.  This doll is Shanghai Chic Yue-Sai WaWa.
Technically this doll could be fodder for a Throwback Thursday review since she's from 2001, but I'm not sure if Yue-Sai dolls are still in production so I decided against it.  I try to devote Throwback Thursday posts for discontinued dolls, though I do break that rule occasionally.  Now to the doll herself.  Yue-Sai Kan is a lady who developed makeup that is exclusively for Oriental skin tones.  During one trip to China she noticed that the majority of fashion dolls available there were blonde and blue-eyed (Jenny and Licca, maybe?).  After making this discovery Kan developed a fashion doll of her own, one that was both a plaything and a learning device.  Her namesake doll is intended to make Chinese children feel proud of their heritage and to educate all children regardless of heritage.  I don't know about y'all, but if I'd seen this doll in stores when I was a kid I'd have loved her.  I don't have a drop of Asian blood in me, but it always pleases me to see a doll with hair this dark.  Said dolls remind me of my mother, who is of Italian and Welsh decent and thus once had black hair.  Plus it's not always easy to find a doll with black hair.  Dark brown, yes.  Black?  Not so much.

Yue-Sai (pronounced "yoo-sigh") is VERY different from the Japanese dolls I've gathered.  Her name is Chinese, but the doll herself is not restricted to Chinese outfits.  One doll I considered for purchase is dressed in Korean attire, another doll has a couple of Polynesian outfits in tow, and a third is a Thai dancer.  Yue-Sai's ability to accurately represent these countries reminds me a little of Susie, another Oriental doll that can represent any country she or her owner chooses.  I think Susie is a knockout, but I don't have one so I can't review her!  So let's talk dolly talk now.  As I said above, Yue-Sai's hair is black.
I've been told that according to Chinese tradition, certain hairstyles help determine a woman's status.  Two braids (or pigtails, according to this source) meant that the female in question was single.  I'm not sure if that's the message Yue-Sai is trying to send with her hairstyle, but it certainly is cute.  The braids are upturned and the bases are wrapped in pink and green elastic bands.  These bands are starting to break as rubber bands often do when they age, meaning that I'll have to do some maintenance in the near future.
I love Yue-Sai's bangs.
They're very simple bangs, but I love the way they fall over her forehead.  The ends are smoothly curved as opposed to being blunt, like so many dolls' bangs are.  I only have one other doll with bangs like this, one of Target's Red Barbie Basics, whom I call "Serafina."  Serafina has a slight Oriental flair, enough that she might look convincing in Yue-Sai's outfit.  Serafina and Yue-Sai don't look that much alike, though.  They have black hair and closed-lipped smiles, but that's all they have in common.
Tangent over, I like Yue-Sai's hair, and I love the style.  It's cute but simple, stylish but versatile.  Yue-Sai can wear anything with a hairstyle like this.  It's not perfect hair, though; the ends of the hair are a little scraggly.
Often when I get a doll with rough hair like this it means that she was handled a lot by a child.  However, I got this doll NRFB so I doubt the hair is rough from use.  The fibers are soft and very fine, so this may just be due to a combination of the doll's age and improper storing.

As you saw above, Yue-Sai's face is highly different from those of my Japanese dolls.  While Jenny, Licca, Emiko, and the knockoff crowd all have a strong anime vibe, Yue-Sai looks more like a real little person.
Her eyebrows are smooth and black like her hair.  Her eyes are light brown and almond-shaped, with caramel-colored eye shadow and painted black eyelashes.
Her lips are this gorgeous shade of dark pink that matches her stock outfit perfectly.  The lips look a little sloppy when viewed under extreme magnification, but under normal conditions it looks fine.
Remember when I said that this doll's developer also created makeup for Asian skin tones?  It shows.  Yue-Sai's makeup is WAY better than the stuff some of my Asian Barbie dolls wear.  Here's what two of my favorite girls wear.
Keiko (Fashion Fever Lea, left) has soft pink lipstick and neutral eye shadow that flatters her light vinyl, but Michelle (President Barbie, right) has that garish pink crap that I've never cared for.  I mean, it matches what she's wearing, but since when does makeup have to match what you're wearing?  I much prefer Yue-Sai's brown eye shadow, and I think it's a shame that Mattel didn't use a color like that on Michelle.  Oh well, it's not like Yue-Sai doesn't have problems of her own.  Her profile is flat, so her head looks a little boxy when viewed from the side.
It turns out that there's a good reason for Yue-Sai's flat face:  Yue-Sai Kan also has a flat profile.  I love this personal flourish!  Since Yue-Sai's face is flat for a reason, and since her makeup is both flawless and lovely, I have no complaints so far.  Yue-Sai's head is hard, though thank God, it's not from glue.  I'm not sure if it's because the vinyl is thicker or if the head has stiffened with age like some of my Barbies' heads have, but either way Yue-Sai is no softhead.  Her ears are your basic ears, nothing special except for some simple, versatile gold stud earrings.  Like most of Barbie's earrings, these don't come out.
On her right hand Yue-Sai wears a gold ring that matches her earrings.
Yue-Sai's body is similar to a TNT Barbie's body and highly dissimilar to Jenny's.
She has six joints:  hip, hip, shoulder, shoulder, waist, neck.  Her shoulders have lateral movement, something that none of my Japanese dolls and most of my Barbie dolls have.
That's the only way that Yue-Sai's jointing is superior, though.  Her head can tip, but only very slightly.
The rest of Yue-Sai's body is relatively stiff.  She can twist her waist and move her hips back and forth...
...but she can't bend her elbows or knees.  I wasn't expecting her to be able to bend her elbows, but the knees surprised me a little.  Nowadays it's a little tough to find a Barbie with knees that pose, but back when this doll was available the majority of Barbies had bendy knees.  Thus it's unusual to see a stiff-legged doll like Yue-Sai...or it was at the time.  Also unusual is Yue-Sai's torso.  The mobility is fine here, but the shape threw me off.  She's...well, she's bigger up top, much more so than I expected.  She's very like Barbie in this manner.
In an interview Yue-Sai Kan gave to Dolls Magazine, one that coincided with the doll's release in 2001, she explained that her doll's physique was originally supposed to look "traditionally Oriental."  I'm quoting her words, so don't hang me for stereotypes.  Kan went on to say that Yue-Sai was supposed to be flat-chested, but the outfits didn't look as nice on the flat-chested prototype.  As a result, Yue-Sai has a good-sized bust and a trim waist.  She also has white molded-on underpants, which gave me a laugh due to a family joke involving my sister and her bizarre treatment of Barbie dolls as a child.  Said story is quite humorous, one that I'll have to blog about in the future.

Clothes don't make the man, but they do quite often make the doll.  Not all Yue-Sai Wa Wa dolls come with two outfits, but Shanghai Chic does.  When she arrived Yue-Sai was wearing this.
Here is were Yue-Sai Kan seamlessly blends Eastern and Western culture.  This outfit is dripping with little details from both hemispheres.  Let's start with the coat.
The coat reminds me a lot of Ana Ming's qipao, only in a different color.  It has a turned up collar like Oriental outfits often do.
The collar and the sleeve's cuffs are made out of lime green sateen...
...while the rest of the coat is made out of rose and gold-colored brocade, the kind that likes to catch on my nails if I haven't trimmed them.
The front "closes" with four little frogs; these don't come undone like the frogs on Ana Ming's clothes do.  As small as these frogs are, that's probably a good thing.
The back is plain except for the Velcro seam, where the jacket actually closes.
The pants are capri-length pants and are sort of a reversal of the color scheme for the jacket.  Instead of being dark pink with green accents, they are green with dark pink accents.
Each cuff has a little frog added on, tying the look together perfectly.
The waist is fitted and Velcros together in back.
The interior of both these items is impeccable.  The seams are topstitched and do not look even the slightest bit raggy.
I could picture Yue-Sai wearing that first outfit in the winter, provided she had the proper shoes, but this second outfit is definitely for warmer weather.  It's a cute little dress set.
The top is arguably one of the most revealing tops I have in my dolls' wardrobe.  It's a single panel of fabric with a drawstring.
The fabric is the same as the first outfit, rose brocade with green sateen accents (ruffles in this case).  The cord is even the same!  It's the same cord that the frogs are tied out of.  Each end is knotted to keep it from pulling out.
When Yue-Sai wears this the loop at the top has to be lengthened to fit it over her head, so pulling the neck loop out to its full length is advisable, like so.
After looping the cord over Yue-Sai's neck, pull the cords out again to tighten the neck and tie the loose ends behind her back like so.
This is a little tricky to do, particularly if you're OCD about your doll's appearance like I am.  If I pull the neck too tight, the fabric bunches, but if I leave it too loose the top flops around and doesn't offer much coverage.  Sometimes it's also tricky to get the ends even, but it's worth the effort in the end.  This is a very scanty top, but it's suitable for a hot day or maybe a romp on the beach.  The skirt that comes with this top is an A-line skirt, made out of...you guessed it, rose brocade and green sateen!
It doesn't tie shut, though that might have been a cute touch.  No, this skirt closes with Velcro like the jacket and capris do.
Yue-Sai's accessories consist of four "gold" bracelets that can be worn on either wrist or ankle.  When Yue-Sai was fresh out of the box she wore two bracelets on her right wrist, one on her left, and one on her left ankle.
She also has these green open-toe pumps that are a little paler than the green parts of her clothes.
There's also this cute purse, made out of "gold" plastic and done up in the shape of a very, VERY three-dimensional fan.  It could also pass for a book too.
I have to rubber band this to Yue-Sai's hand in order for her to hold it, but it's a cute purse.  It really opens, and there's enough space in there to store some teensy items, like Yue-Sai's bracelets.
There's also this gilded hairbrush, emblazoned with Yue-Sai's name on one side of the handle...
...and a fenghuang embossed on the back.  The fenghuang is an important mythical being to the Chinese, and is often paired with a dragon in a sort of yin-yang relationship.
Following the advice of Nethilia and Miss Emily, I never use plastic brushes on my dolls' hair.  This is still a nice addition though.

Before I compared bodies I was expecting Yue-Sai to be too slim for Barbie clothes, but after comparing the two I was more optimistic.  Indeed, the older styles fit her perfectly.  Here's the sunflower getup that I frequently use for experimenting.
And here's the United Colors of Benetton outfit that I recently reviewed.  It has multiple pieces and can thus make multiple looks.
When I tried Yue-Sai's outfits on some of my other dolls (see below) I put Yue-Sai in this knitted dress.  It came from a vintage Barbie pattern and it fits Yue-Sai like a glove.  I don't like it as much as I like the Benetton outfit, though.
She can also wear Sindy's stock outfit, though it makes her look dowdy.  Gayle's stock outfit would've been better.
Barbie can also wear Yue-Sai's clothes, though the pants and skirt don't slide over Barbie's rubbery legs as well as they do Yue-Sai's.  In keeping with the Oriental theme I chose Alabama and Lanying, my Very Velvet Kira dolls.
Yep, I named the short-haired one "Alabama"!  I've always thought that was a pretty name for a state, and it suited this doll's shaggy child-given haircut.  Given the fact that both Alabama and Lanying have rubbery legs (Yue-Sai does not), I feared that these clothes wouldn't go on easily.  For the most part I needn't have worried; the pants didn't slide over Lanying's legs like they do Yue-Sai's, but it was nowhere near as hard getting her dressed as I'd thought.  As for the fit, I think the picture speaks for itself.  Alabama and Lanying can wear these outfits with no trouble at all.  

Serafina, whom I compared Yue-Sai to earlier, has a Model Muse body with a slimmer torso and proportionately large feet.  Thus fitting Yue-Sai's clothes to her may prove interesting. 
And maybe these clothes will just slide onto her like they were made for her.  In truth there is a little bit more to it than that.  The jacket is quite roomy on Serafina's smaller bosom, and while the colors look great on her I see what Yue-Sai Kan means about the outfits not looking as good without a full chest.  The blouse that accompanies the skirt is adjustable, so it fits Serafina better.

It turns out that this particular Yue-Sai doll came in two varieties; in addition to my pink and green doll there is an equally pretty yellow and blue version.  Either way it's good to know that dolls like Sindy and Yue-Sai can share clothes and wear some of Barbie's too.  This vastly expands their options for clothing, particularly when I think of the other dolls I've got that can wear and share Barbie's old duds.  Shoes are another story.  Yue-Sai's feet are smaller than Barbie's, and they're made of a different material.  Serafina's feet are larger and have a well-defined arch.
Yue-Sai CAN wear Barbie's shoes as we saw in the Benetton post, but some of the high heels are big on her and I have to use putty to keep them on.  I have to do that with half of my Barbies dolls anyway, so no biggie.  Yue-Sai's sandals fit Barbie in turn, but it's a squeeze.  Lanying is my model, and it's pretty clear that the shoes are not hers.  They're a little too long and a smidge tight, but they don't fall off Lanying's feet anywhere near as easily as they do Yue-Sai's.
Serafina can wear the shoes techically, but her stiff feet don't fit into them as well as Lanying's do.
These shoes are made of thicker material than some of Barbie's shoes, so they won't break under the pressure of being shoved on another doll's foot, but I'm still not going to make a habit of it.

Alrighty, that's plenty to think about!  

BAD
*Hair is frazzled at the ends
*Posing is mediocre
*Clothes might snag if not treated carefully
*Rubber bands have aged and broken.  I had to replace all of them before wrapping up the photo shoot.

GOOD
*Makeup is stunning.  This doll was created by a woman who knows makeup, and it shows.
*Hair is styled in a cute and versatile style.
*Clothes are colorful, well-made, and provide a nice fusion of Western and Eastern fashion.
*Can share clothes with Sindy and older Barbie dolls.  Shoe sharing is a little hit-and-miss, but for the most part that can be done as well.
*She came with two outfits!!!  I always love that in a doll.

It was hard for me to be objective with this doll since I like her so much, but I managed to do it fairly well.  Yue-Sai is on the same level as a Barbie doll, only a little more special because of her well-made clothes and her unique face.  I advise some minor caution when handling her outfit, as brocade will snag if not respected, and her posing is not great, but the other problems I found with my particular doll can be easily remedied or just plain ignored.  This doll is perfect for a kid or a collector that wants a doll that's ethnic but doesn't stick out in the collection like a sore thumb.  If this particular Yue-Sai wasn't your cuppa, ChinaSprout has plenty of others and so does eBay.  I particularly like Bubble Fairy, who is dressed in red.

Quick update on my mother now.  She got to come home today, and in spite of some early talk about a nursing home she won't have to go to one.  She says she'll likely spend the first couple of nights at my grandmother's place (her mama's) because the beds aren't as high there, and then after that she'll stay with me.  So things are looking up, but prayers and positivity are still appreciated.

Cheers,
RagingMoon1987

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