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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Ideal Look Around Crissy

In the time between Cherry Merry Muffin's review and this one I've learned that it's possible to automatically post these posts (just set the schedule for the date and time you want and then hit "publish").  This knowledge has taken a tremendous load off my shoulders, as sometimes I sleep late or am busy on Thursday mornings and don't get my reviews published until later in the day.  All I have to do now is make sure the post is up-to-date and complete before the scheduled time!  With that out of the way, let's begin.  This review will be one that is in the same vein as Penny Brite's review, in that I've had the doll awhile and showed her on the blog before, but never really thought to review her until now.  I'm a hardcore Ideal fan and a casual Crissy fan, so what better time to review her?  Crissy (sometimes spelt "Chrissy") came with several gimmicks during her run in the sixties and seventies, and this one else is the "Look Around" version.
Crissy was the center of a line of dolls that spanned parts of three decades, and the focus of the line was on hair play.  Crissy and all her friends and family had hair that grew, not unlike Tressy's hair, which is ironic considering that Ideal turned down Tressy's prototype (a Patti Playpal-sized doll named "Suzy Snippet") on the grounds that no one would "want a doll with a hole in its head"!  Then after American Character tanked, Ideal bought all the patents and the seeds for Crissy were sewn.  Rather ironic, I think, that the company that assumed no one would buy a doll with a hole in its head would be the company that made a killing.  Or at least I THINK Crissy sold well; she was around in some way, shape, or form until 1983, and she had a bootle of friends and family members (one friend was even named Tressy).  Given those factors and the amount of information that is available online, I think it would be fair to say that Crissy was popular.  They weren't the prettiest dolls on the planet, but apparently that hair was fun to play with.  After all, it did grow.
Crissy's hair is red, and her hair mech functions in a manner similar to American Character's version of Tressy.  There are some differences, which I'll show when I do the body review.  But the head?  Not much difference there.  Tressy has a chin-length bob of rooted hair with a longer shank that pulls out, and Crissy does too...or she did.  Someone cut her base hair, which would normally be grounds for me to launch on a tirade about destructive little brats, but in this case someone actually did a pretty good job!  Crissy now has a fringe cut rather than a bob, and it's really not bad at all.
I detect no signs of abuse to this hair, no big clumps of missing hair or lines of empty plugs, and the fall works as it should.  The rooted hair is a little thin around the fall, though I suspect that may be normal.
The fibers in the fall show some wear; notice that the end are a little frizzy.
It still makes a good smooth braid, though!  My particular Crissy has hair that falls to her hips, by the way.  The earliest Crissy dolls had hair that would grow "right down to her toes," as the commercial put it, while all dolls from the second wave onward had their hair shortened to about hip level.  The slogan was changed too, with Crissy now having "hair that grows and grows."  I love those commercials, by the way; they're very dated for today's sensibilities, but they're also very cute, and they show the kids actually playing with the doll and acting like they're having fun.  Remember that I took issue with that back when Moschino Barbie was a thing, with those little kids gushing on and on about a doll they can't actually play with.  Digression over, Look Around Crissy is one of those later dolls with hip-length hair.  Here her fall is fully extended and hanging loose.
When the fall is all the way retracted...well, that's when Crissy's chopped locks get a little problematic.  When Crissy's fall is fully retracted it's supposed to be even with her base hair like my Tressy's hair is.  I refer y'all again to Tressy's review.  Now notice how Crissy's fall hangs when it's fully retracted.  Due to her haircut the fall does not hang seamlessly over the base hair like Tressy's does...and due to age Crissy ends up looking like a sheepdog when she wears her hair like this anyway.
I like Crissy's fringe cut the way it is, so a reroot is out of the question for now.  I may attempt a reroot in the future, but my current solution to the problem?  Leave the fall all the way out, and braid it to keep it out of the way.  Problem solved.
The rest of Crissy's head is made out of vinyl.  She wears no earrings (which would've been a cute touch) and very little makeup.  Her sleep eyes have cheerful, light brown eyebrows, thick rooted upper eyelashes, and painted lower lashes.  The eyes themselves are...BLACK???
Yep, black!  I refer you back to Crissy's commercial, where a child says "She has beautiful eyes!"  Like fish, she does.  These are darker than my MiM doll Hailey's eyes are, and that's saying a lot!  I assume the eyes are supposed to look brown, and I guess in certain lighting they do look brown, but I'm still not a fan.  The eyes aren't moldy though, so that's a good thing.  These Crissy dolls can sometimes get this icky-looking white mold on their eyes, and guess what?  IT'S CONTAGIOUS!!!  The mold can be removed and eradicated with little fuss, but I'm glad I don't have to contend with that and I hope I never will.

Moving lower, Crissy's cheeks are lightly blushed, and her open smile consists of pale pink lips and a narrow band of white paint for teeth.  She's got some nice molded smile lines too.
When they said Crissy's makeup was sparse, they meant it was sparse!  Not too shabby for a doll that's supposed to be a preteen, though.

Speaking of preteen, great time to segue into the body.  Crissy is of similar height to dolls like American Girl and My Life...
...but she's quite a bit slimmer than both Denise and Alissa are.
Being a preteen doll means that Crissy does not have a lot of definition all over, with a mostly flat chest and a curveless waist. Some Crissy dolls did have flat little nipples molded on, but my doll doesn't have those.  She does have all her mechanisms here, though; from the front it's possible to see a button and what looks like a waist joint.
From the back Crissy's hair knob and a butterfly-shaped pull cord are visible.  Notice that her lower torso is held together with three screws...and notice where one of those screws is!
Remember when I said that Crissy's gimmick was slightly different from Tressy's?  This is how it differs.  Tressy's fall is retracted with a key, while Crissy has this knob.  Turn the knob in back, and the fall retracts.  Push the button in front and gently pull on the fall, and the fall pulls out.  It's as simple as that.  I once thought that Crissy's fall no longer functioned, particularly since non-functioning gimmicks are fairly common among dolls this age, but the fall winds up with very little fuss.  The butterfly is a little more complicated, as this activates Crissy's "look around" mechanism.  To get the mech to work, simply pull the butterfly (gently) and then release it.  Crissy's upper body will then rotate back and forth like so...or it should.  Here's what happened when I tried to activate the mech (cheesy video warning).
Yeah, that's a bummer.  I try to keep my dolls nice, so I'm a little peeved with myself over that.  The cord did eventually retract on its own...two days later, while I was cleaning my dolly room and Crissy was lying under a pile of doll dresses.  I jumped out of my skin when I saw that pile of clothing move!  Truthfully though, I don't think the look-around gimmick was all that special, especially when Ideal already had a Crissy that talked.  To me the talking gimmick is better than the "look around" gimmick, at least for a child.  Talking dolls tend to make games of make-believe a little more interesting.

It should be fairly obvious by now that Crissy is made of hard plastic, with the exception of her arms (and her head, of course).  Her hands are among the most expressive I've ever seen; they're slender and delicate, molded into some very graceful positions.
It would've been great if Crissy's elbows could bend so she could put those dainty little hands to good use, but alas, she can't.

Crissy's legs are not as expressive as her hands, but then again I don't guess legs are supposed to be terribly expressive.  She has little kneecaps visible, with a mild but not terrible case of cankles.
The feet are small, especially for a doll this size, with elevated heels and toes that are slightly sculpted in.
Without shoes Crissy cannot stand on her own.  Usually when I stand her (propped up, of course) she stands with her knees and feet together, as seen above.  However, I've gathered from online images that when wearing her shoes Crissy had to adopt a more wide-legged stance in order to stay up.  I wouldn't know for sure, because I don't have any shoes for Crissy yet.  When I do get some shoes I'll update this post and let y'all know how she really stands.

Since my Crissy doesn't have a waist joint or a neck joint, her repertoire of poses is very limited.  She has rotational movement in her shoulders and hips, but that's it.  She's largely restricted to standing, sitting, and slightly robotic arm motions, like so.
Also, because Crissy's hips are V-cut, she has to sit in a mildly unladylike position.
I'm more inclined to forgive this though, because I've got dolls Crissy's size that sit way worse.  Remember how Xenia sits???  She's gotten better with time, but she'll never be a champ sitter.
Poor Xenia.  Those eighteen-inch My Twinn dolls could've been miniatures of their larger selves, but...no.

Now to clothes.  When I bought Crissy, and when she first appeared in the blog, she was wearing a sage-green dress.  In the time that I've owned this doll I've managed to acquire her original dress, but not her shoes or panties.  Both those would've matched her dress; the shoes were forest green, and the drawers were made out of the same fabric as the dress.
Of all the stock outfits that Crissy came in, I think this one is the prettiest.  These dolls wore some cute things during her run, but I absolutely love this dress.  Let's put my adulation aside for a moment though and look at it with a more critical eye.  The dress is made out of plaid taffeta, one of my favorite fabrics.
I can't photograph this part, but the dress smells vaguely of vinegar.  I think I may have washed this dress in the past before I stored it away, and that's what gave it the smell.  Looks like it's gonna need another bath!  Anyway, the colors are still bright after all these years, so that's some good news.  The sleeves are fitted and have pleated frills on them.
The neck has this same frill.  I thought maybe it should lie down, but stock photos show it standing up like an old-fashioned high-neck dress.
The bottom hem does not have a frill; rather, it's trimmed with white eyelet that needs a little more cleaning.
The waist is trimmed by this red and white ribbon (it goes all the way around instead of stopping at the waist seams), and the "sash" is in turn trimmed by a pink flower that's seen better days.  I need to reattach the flower, by the way; it's only held on with one stitch and that stitch is getting loose.
For the most part the dress is in good shape, but there are some unfortunate signs of wear.  The hem and one sleeve each have some loose threads...
...and worse, there are a few small holes here and there.  Thankfully, they're little holes and don't show too much.  This makes me think of the Christmas gown I have for Felicity, though; it's made out of taffeta like Crissy's dress is.  I'd better take care of it so it doesn't get holes like this.
To my great surprise, this dress opens up all the way in back like a hospital gown.  It is held closed with three metal snaps (notice a hole in close proximity to this particular snap).
Since this dress does open up like a hospital gown, it shows a little of Crissy's backside...just like a hospital gown, but not quite as bad.  Still, the three snaps that hold the dress closed are not enough to preserve Crissy's modesty.  Since this dress DOES gap open, I can see why this particular Crissy was sold with panties that matched the dress, but as I said above my doll's drawers are missing in action and presumed long-dead.  So I bought her these.
I love rhumba panties on dolls!  These came from idressdolls.com, who as far as I know does not carry these any more.  They're made of white satin and have the prerequisite lace panels that all good rhumba panties should have.
They fit Crissy well, but the waistband sometimes slips into her waist joint.  This is more of an aesthetic problem than a mechanical one, so I'll let that slide.

The dress (and indeed, the outfit as a whole) is strictly for Crissy, as it's very fitted and would have no chance of fitting over the chunky American Girl/My Twinn bodies or the slightly slimmer My Life bodies.  Even my next-slimmest girl Ana Ming can't wear this dress.

When the tables are turned Crissy doesn't have too many options either.  B.F.C. Ink clothes are too small, and most of everything else is too big.  Xenia's pajamas are too big...
...as is Alissa's flower fairy costume (which I never took her out of until now)...
...and Denise's cute ladybug dress is WAY too big.
Ana Ming's dresses do fit and look a little nicer, but they're loose as well.  I'd put Crissy in this blue one again, though.
This outfit is one that is supposed to fit those big Barbie dolls that have been in stores, but just for grins I tried it on Crissy.  It drowns her and looks better on Ana Ming.
I also have some items that I crocheted for Crissy, but those came out hit-and-miss too; some are too big and some are just right.  The red dress came out perfect, for example, while the yellow dress is a bit too big.
One of my knitted dresses is just plain bizarre.  Dig this!
Even so, Crissy is easy to sew and knit for, and if I dig around online a bit she's easy to buy for too.  Prepare for a tangent...and a commercial as well.  As I said earlier in this review, most of the Crissy dolls available had adorable stock clothes.  The Look Around dress is my absolute favorite without a doubt, but I also like the dress that black Crissy dolls wore for the first few waves.  Crissy's white self got an orange lace number that was becoming but didn't jive too well with her coloring, while the black dolls got the same dress in...guess what color.  My favorite color:  GREEN!!!  It's one of my favorite shades too, being Granny Smith apple green.  It looked great on Crissy's dark vinyl and would look great with my Crissy's red hair, but these dresses are hard to find in decent shape.  That lace tears like mad, apparently...but all is not lost!  Jan's Doll Closet offers a reproduction of the apple green dress, and it's affordable!  I've seen other things at Jan's Doll Closet, so a dolly dress discussion may be in the not-too-distant future.  The shop also offers a dress for Crissy that somewhat resembles a Dollheart fer, so that one may also go on my wish list.  By the way...why, OH WHY do Dollheart fers only come in SD sizes???  I'd love one or two in MSD size for my girls.

Lastly, I don't have any shoes that will fit Crissy...AT.  ALL.  My Life shoes are too big...
...as are these off-brand shoes that my American Girls wear...
...and Xenia's bunny slippers...
...AND Ana Ming's slippers.
Ana Ming does have a pair of sparkly sandals that almost fit Crissy...
...but they're very loose too.  Crissy is proving to be harder to shoe than to dress; that was why I bought that stupid B.F.C. Ink outfit in the first place (those shoes were too big too, by the way).

That squares it away, so let's wrap this puppy up!

*I BROKE HER LOOK-AROUND MECH!!!!  That isn't a huge loss really, but the principle of it irks me.  I don't usually break dolls.
*Eyes are too dark; they look a little lifeless.
*My particular doll has thinning hair around her fall.
*Posing is poor
*Can't share clothes with any of my other dolls
*Dress is showing wear, though that's due to age, not shoddy construction.

*Hair-grow mech still works.  I'm not sure how sturdy that mech is, but I'm glad it works.
*Face is expressive, but not too much so; not all dolls have this level of character in their face, and some of Crissy's friends and family have too much!
*Hair is in decent shape.  It's a little thin in places and the fall is a little frizzy, but otherwise this hair is in good condition.
*Dress is nicely constructed and fits Crissy like a glove
*Arms are graceful; I don't normally see hands that are this nicely sculpted.
*Clothes are fairly easy to find or make if one knows where to look.  The internet has patterns, and online shops have a few ready-made outfits.

This doll is worth the effort for those who like hair-play dolls, or for those who like to sew, or for those who owned a doll like this and want another one.  Word of caution to those who may want a Look Around doll though:  don't try to turn the doll's head!  I suspect very strongly that that's how I broke my doll's look-around feature, and I'm still kicking myself over that.  Also, if the dark eyes give you the creeps, I'd skip this one and go with a Velvet or one of Crissy's other friends; their eyes look more alive.  Despite Crissy's dark eyes, stiff limbs, and current difficulty to dress, I can see why these dolls were popular way back when.  They have sweet, approachable faces, and what little girl doesn't love to play with their dolly's hair?

As a last little tidbit, here's something cute I took for a Facebook group.
I think it was during the taking of this picture that I broke Crissy's look-around mech.  I turned her head to see if it would turn, and I guess I broke the mech that way.  No great loss, I guess.

Much love,


  1. If you're working on sewing anyway, flats for this doll would be relatively easy to sew.

  2. I have a My first Disney princess Ariel doll who shares shoes with my Crissy doll.Of course the dress doesn't fit but it was nice to find some shoes that did fit her feet.

    1. That's good to know! I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the info!

  3. Forgot to mention she is a Tolly Tot Version! Sorry.