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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Ashton-Drake's "Gimmie a Break"

RagingMoon1987 back with another discontinued doll for Throwback Thursday.  Most of my dolls are mostly toys, or were once intended as toys, and thus could hardly be considered dolls for high-end collectors.  This little feller that I've got today is an exception, though.  He's from Ashton-Drake Galleries, he's got an M&M's themed outfit, and he's entitled "Gimme a Break," a tagline that I associate more with Kit-Kat bars than I do M&M's.
A baby doll.  I don't have too many baby dolls.  Oh sure, I like babies and I like baby dolls, but my maternal instincts are few and my skills are naught, so I tend to gravitate towards dolls that resemble an older demographic.  This can be seen in the blog; I have only a handful of baby dolls, and until now the only ones I've photographed are Tommy and Sally (the Creepy Babies).  Oh yeah, I've also got a few other vintage babies, and that Lalaloopsy Baby that drops loads in its pants...Lordy, how could I forget that one?  But other than them I don't have too many baby dolls.  I like this little guy quite a bit, though.  When I say this doll is a little guy, I mean he's a LITTLE guy!  "Red," as I've chosen to call him, is seven inches in length from head to toe, and he feels like he's made of silicone.  Here's what a seven-inch baby looks like next to a Barbie (or a Barbie friend, rather)...
and in the arms of my still un-reviewed Cami doll...
...and in the lap of Johnny, one of my ball-jointed dolls.
Red is too big to be a convincing child for any of the above dolls.  I do think that he'd fit in better with an SD-sized ball-jointed doll, but I don't own one of those so I can't say for certain.  Judging from what I've seen online, Red was apparently a member of a larger set of M&M's-themed small babies.  These dolls came in a wide range of colors and facial expressions, including some candy colors that one can only get from M&M's website, like pink.

Before I dive in, I think I should say that I have NOT heard good things about Ashton-Drake's baby dolls.  One of Miss Emily's dolls (also named Emily) has a terrible root job on top, and Miss Debbie's doll looks only vaguely like her promo pics.  So I wasn't terribly sold on Ashton-Drake's babies, but when I found Gimme a Break in his original box for five bucks at a flea market I swallowed my pride.  He's not perfect either, as we'll soon see, but first let's look at his little face!
Some of the other M&M's dolls are yawning, laughing, or sleeping, but Red is wide awake and fully focused on whatever is in front of him.  He has a slightly pouty expression that I've seen many a baby wear on their face!  Red has inset eyes that are...oh, I'd call that shade "root beer brown."  He has eyelashes that are a little on the long side for a doll his size, a flat, wide nose, and little molded creases under his eyes.
Red's eyes look crooked, but in truth one eye is squinted more than the other, not terribly unlike Miss Emily's reborn Saskia doll.  Strangely enough, Red has no eyebrows.  This initially threw me for a loop, but then I remembered that babies have very fair eyebrows.  Painting such a feature on a doll this size may have been a fairly tall order since it's hard to get eyebrows right in the first place, so Ashton Drake probably made a good call by leaving eyebrows out altogether.  Red's lips are full (maybe a bit too full?) and delicately painted in translucent pink.
I don't usually show my dolls in profile, but here's what Red looks like in profile.
He's got appropriately fat baby cheeks, fairly large but well-molded ears, and a little double chin.  He looks quite a bit like a real baby would look at three months of age.  It's also easy to see that Red has little tufts of hair sticking out from under his hat.  After seeing Miss Emily's doll I wasn't sure what to expect!
Hmmm...not great, but not terrible either.  Mama tells me that Red's hair looks a lot like mine did when I was newly born...which in retrospect isn't all that good because when I was a newborn my hair wanted to go everywhere.  The doctors even tried to slick it down with Vaseline, which was fruitless and apparently made my hair look like a punk rocker's.  But as usual, I digress.  Given the fact that my hair was uncontrollable at birth, I'd say that Red's hair is appropriate.  It feels a lot like baby hair too, very soft and fine.  It sticks out here and there in little tufts and wisps, again like baby hair.  My biggest issue with Red's hair is that it is neither rooted nor wigged.  It appears to be glued down.
That's pretty cheap.  I can see why Ashton-Drake went this route, as rooting such a tiny head would've been a chore.  So why not go with a tiny wig???  There are better alternatives to just gluing fibers to a doll's head and calling it hair.  The overall effect is good, and one can't really tell unless they take Red's hat off and look very close, but I still wish Ashton-Drake had done something a bit different with attaching the hair.

Red's arms and legs are silicone like his head.  All four limbs are molded in a half-bent position, but the position can be modified somewhat by virtue of wires inside the body.  The limbs look a little slender for baby limbs, but then my experience with babies is lacking so I couldn't say for sure.  The arms are a little skinny, but they still have little creases at the elbows and wrists.
Both hands are molded in a closed position and to my slight surprise, the fingernails are manicured.  They're painted in the same glossy, translucent pink as Red's lips.
Regarding the legs, Red looks bow-legged at first glance, and he is a little.  His knees are bent and turned outward a little, like baby legs often are, but his right lower leg is also slightly curved.
If only a slightly curved right leg were the least of Red's concerns.  You may already be able to see the main problem with this doll, but I'm not to that yet.  The legs are molded very similarly to the arms with creases at the thighs and knees, and fat rolls at the ankles.
The position of Red's right foot may have some relation to the bowed appearance of his leg.  It's turned inwards a bit, while the left foot is straight.  The toenails are painted like the fingernails, with translucent pink paint.
Red's romper and hat are both fully removable, revealing that this baby has a rounded cloth body with soft stuffing...
...cable ties holding the head and limbs on...
...a huge tag with a lot of information (I may cut this off)...
...and the main problem with this doll:  some nasty stains!!!
This looks like the worst case of diaper rash I've ever seen, on a human OR a doll.  Now staining isn't a huge deal for me usually; all of my Living Dead Dolls are stained, and my other MSD boy Alistair has some minor stains as well.  It's just one of those things that you come to expect from certain dolls.  However, I'm less inclined to forgive Red's stains because they're so cotton-pickin' visible.  I mean, Ashton Drake COULD have made the clothes colorfast, but they didn't and I'm now left with a stained doll.

But hey, the clothes are cute, right?
I love this outfit.  I'd totally dress a baby like this if I had one.  The main piece is this onesie, complete with the red M&M printed on the front.
The onesie has a tag sewn into the left seam, and the tag has a bunch of copyright information about M&M's.
The back closes with Velcro, which I'm not in love with because it snags.
Topping off the rather basic look is a little red cap.
It's got an upturned brim, and the words "Gimme a Break" used to be painted on this brim.  As you can see, the words have started to peel off.  I think that looks tacky, so I usually put Red's hat on backwards like so.
Much better!  The underside of the hat shows some carefully sewn seams, which the onesie also has.
The carefully sewn seams and well-placed decal on this outfit make me wonder why Ashton-Drake didn't perfect their product and make it colorfast.  They had to have known the fabric would've stained; when I undressed Red he still had a small band of tissue paper around one arm, a sign that the company at least tried to prevent staining during production and shipment.

So what do I like about this baby?  What DON'T I like?  Let's see.

*Stained beyond belief.  Furthermore, I think this staining may be irreparable.  It wouldn't have been hard to make these clothes colorfast, but it clearly was not done, and my doll paid the price for it.
*Paint is peeling off the hat.
*Hair is glued to the head.  Again, wigging this doll wouldn't have been hard.

*Clothes are cute and simple.  If you can find clothes small enough, it's possible to redress this baby.
*Eyes are well-placed.  It's not always easy to place inset eyes, particularly when the doll is this small.
*Red's little face is very realistic, as are his hands and feet.
*Moderately poseable
*Looks cute next to my larger dolls

Basically, I like Red.  He's got a lot of cute details that make him a realistic-looking baby.  His eyes are straight, his features are painted nicely, and he's dressed appropriately for a baby.  His face has some charming asymmetry that real babies have.  However, Red has a fair amount of problems, all of which could've been remedied with a little more care and time.  His clothes could've had the excess dye washed out, or they could've been made of some sort of colorfast fabric.  His hair could've been wigged.  I know it's not easy to find wigs for such a tiny head, but as large as the Ashton-Drake company is they surely could've made or commissioned some little wigs.  Gluing the hair on makes me wonder if there was some sort of rush to get this done.  Lastly, the paint is peeling off of this doll's hat.  I doubt somehow that that could've been helped, but then again the decal on Red's onesie is staying put.  So I advise extreme caution when pursuing the Ashton-Drake M&M's babies.  The ones with dark-colored onesies will likely be stained, and not all of them may be as fortunate as my Red was in the eye department.  Don't get me wrong, these are cute dolls!  But Red has a lot of flaws that a more picky collector might not like.

Cordially yours,

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