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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Time to gripe: cheap?

In Jakarta, Indonesia there exists a low-cost airline called Wings Air.  Their slogan, which was roughly translated from Indonesian to English, meant "Flying is Cheap," but read "Fly is Cheap."  Normally a flub like that would be found on a bootleg doll box rather than an airline, and said flub earned Wings Air the apparently unfair assumption that their service was subpar.  Wings Air's record is certainly cleaner than ValuJet Airline's record was before the latter got bought out, but I digress.  I paid another of my regular visits to the toy department today, and...let me just say that I was shocked at what I'd found.  It made me think of the "Fly is Cheap" slogan for some weird reason.  

In short, I found a that a good percentage of the Barbie dolls available for sale have molded-on or painted-on clothes.  The ones in swimsuits don't bother me too much, since they're meant for water play and can wear clothes over their swimsuits...
...but the next couple of lines left me shaking my head.  This first set consists of princesses and ballerinas.
Back around 2002 I owned a budget ballerina similar to the one linked here.  I gave her away a few years ago, but she wasn't terribly unlike the ones above...except that she wore clothes.  I mean REAL clothes; a cloth dress with a cloth tutu, and vinyl pointe shoes that had to be rubberbanded to her feet.  Granted, her legs were painted lavender and I thought that was a cheap move, but having seen these I wish I hadn't judged my budget ballerina.  The two ballerinas pictured above have molded on leotards and necklaces in addition to painted tights, while the two princesses have molded on bodices.  I can't even tell if any of them have skirts that can detach!  And unlike the swimsuit dolls pictured above, these bodices aren't flat, thus covering them with other clothes would be a real challenge.  It CAN be done, but t's not easy to do.  These dolls are largely relegated to conservative tops that cover their entire shoulder and neckline area, and in Barbie's world clothes like that aren't the easiest to find.  The only way to remedy this is through a rebody...and not to sound insensitive, but if your doll is a doll of color like the ones above, finding a body that is a good match can be tricky.

Oh, but it gets even better (worse?) than that!  Check out these two.
If these two dolls had been merely dressed up I would've paid the ten bucks for both of them in a heartbeat.  They're brightly colored, their faces are pretty, and I love their hair!  The fairy could pass for a sibling of Billie Jean's in fact, because they have the same head mold.  The problem is that neither doll is dressed up.  Like the ballerinas and the princesses above, these dolls have their clothes molded on.  The fairy has a cluster of large jewels sticking out of her chest, and I don't know for sure but I think they're there permanently.  Her sherbet-colored mermaid friend has not only a molded on bodice, but also a molded tail instead of legs.  Once again, I owned a mermaid doll, one that I wish I'd kept because her head was gorgeous.  She didn't have legs either, but she made up for it by having a soft tail that moved when her hips were squeezed.  The one pictured above has a hip joint, but I suspect that's all she's got.  I can forgive the mermaid for her lack of versatility though, since my old mermaid doll couldn't wear other Barbie clothes either.

This last one though?  I'm at a complete loss for words.
This doll is labelled "Bubbletastic Fairy," not a terribly original idea for those of us who remember Bubble Angel Barbie...but seriously, how many of us actually DO remember Bubble Angel Barbie?  I do, but only because I thought the commercial was cute.  No, the concept of this doll, I like.  But...THAT FULL-SKIRTED DRESS IS MOLDED ON COMPLETELY!!!!!!  She doesn't have a removable dress with wings that double as a bubble wand like Bubble Angel Barbie did.  According to the package this doll's hard plastic skirt is supposed to create a reservoir to hold bubble soap and allow the doll to blow bubbles.  Uh...what's wrong with using those wings as bubble wands?  What's wrong with waving the doll around to form the bubbles?  Her hair certainly wouldn't be messed up from such treatment, as it's styled in a tight bun.  That hair is fabulous, by the way.  I've griped in the past about Barbie's obsession with pink, but I love this doll's hair.  However, the hair will not in any way, shape, or form tempt me into plunking down twenty bucks for this doll, and my feelings would be the same if I were a mother.  What can you do with this doll when the bubble gimmick runs thin?  She can't be redressed AT ALL, and her hair can't be restyled much.  In short, she's just a twenty-dollar bubble wand, and I had toys during my childhood that did the same thing for half the cost.

I'm not Mattel's target audience of course, but it does seem pretty chintzy of such a large toy company to be releasing dolls with molded bodices, especially when they finally appear to be kicking clothes production up a notch.  Or maybe it's Mattel's bizarre way of selling more dolls.  Some little kid could very well want Bubbletastic Fairy Barbie to play with AND a Fashionista to dress up...or some scenario like that.  This new molded-on-clothes trend is a bit sucktacular for collectors though; I saw no fewer than five heads that I would've loved to have owned, but I wasn't about to pay for a gimmicky body that would immediately land in the dust heap just to get those heads.  I guess that I'm relegated to hoping that the Fashionistas will start getting more interesting hair colors...especially one that is colored like that mermaid!  Her tan skin and aqua hair are a combination to die for.

Yours slightly-disgruntledly,


  1. I hear you loud and clear! I will be watching for these later in the Walmart sale bin for $5.00 or less, otherwise, they will not be coming home. I am liking the new Fashionistas and once again have been buying them as they become available on Amazon. Of course, though I have to rebody them to give them articulation, but still, they are very nice dolls!

    1. The Fashionistas get better all the time! I'm excited about that one with the huge Afro.

  2. I totally agree. Lots of color and molded on clothes. I was just in Walmart this weekend and I usually pick out a doll, but there was just nothing. My daughters are 4 and 7 and they love dressing up their Barbies in different outfits. They will sit there for hours just redressing and brushing hair. These new molded on clothes dolls just look so boring to me. They may catch a kid's eye initially, but after that, then what?
    I have to say, we have the pastel mermaids and they love to play with them in the tub, so that one works in terms of practical play (but as a collector, there's no way to display her.)
    I really like the Fashionistas as well. I just noticed 3 more showed up on Amazon so I added them to my latest post..the one with the orange hair, one with a cactus dres and the one with the blue hair..they are gorgeous!

    1. I thought that of the above group the mermaid had the most play factor. There's at least a rhyme and reason to her clothes being molded on; the others...there's just no real reason for that!

      I'll need to visit your blog, as I've not seen the Fashionista with the cactus dress. That sounds like it's interesting.

    2. Wait a minute, I HAVE seen that post! LOL, I got so excited about that doll with the Afro that I didn't even notice Cactus Girl!

    3. Haha, no...I actually added her a day or two later because she showed up on Amazon after I initially posted, lol :)

  3. Being a collector who is also drawn to dolls with 'fantasy hair colors', I understand your frustration completely. I know the frustration of trying to redress dolls with molded bodices. (It helps if the top you're redressing them in is either made of stretchy knit fabric, or if it's from the pre-belly-button body era when Barbie's chest was a little larger. Here's another tip. If the doll with the molded bodice has a fabric skirt, the skirt is usually elasticized at the waist and removable. If the skirt is flexible plastic, like the Spy Squad dolls and some of the other Barbie movie tie-in dolls, it's usually glued on. But in the cases of the few dolls I've bought on clearance because the price was just that good and I liked their hair and face-up that much, the glue has been weak enough that the skirt could be separated from the doll's body with the tip of a dull knife.)
    I know the difficulty of trying to find non-Caucasian dolls with 'fantasy hair colors' that can actually model clothes. (The older Fairytopia dolls with 'fantasy hair colors' and painted tights were mostly, if not all, Caucasian. At one point I was so concerned about the lack of diversity in my collection that I went on Ebay and Etsy to find out how much a non-Caucasian doll, rerooted in a 'fantasy hair color', would set me back cost-wise. I summarized my findings on my blog.)
    I agree that Mattel's recent product lines have been mostly disappointing. (There's a reason I've been buying more of my 'new' dolls at the thrift store.) Even people who collect Monster High are starting to face the pain of dolls with molded clothing and a lack of versatility. Unfortunately someone must be buying this stuff full-price, or Mattel would've stopped making it.
    Signed, Treesa

    1. I feel your pain about the Monster High dolls; I have a post in draft form that touches on the issues you discussed with MH, but being the last of the great procrastinators I haven't posted it yet.

      I definitely want to read about your attempts to find a doll of color with unique hair. That was a niche that the LIV dolls filled out nicely, but of course we don't have them any more. Alexis from the Brites line had orange hair and she was a knockout...but they too suffered from cheap syndrome before being discontinued, so I didn't get her. She was pretty, though.