The Ruby Red Barbie Fashionista

After discovering highly articulated dolls, I never thought I’d ever again be interested in any other kind. However, whenever I saw the “Ruby Red” Fashionista – usually online – I thought she looked lovely and that I should adopt her – eventually. Maybe I could put her on a Made to Move body? – I thought. Alas, the “purple top” MtM doll with the corresponding skin tone is both rare and now extra pricey. So I stalled.

This particular doll in the photos was the last one that I’ve been seeing in ‘offline’ shops in my area. Articulation or no articulation, I knew I’d be sad to one day find out that they are no longer available. I put my joint-count prejudice aside and let me take her home and love her for what she is.

According to the packaging, she is a part of the 2015 series of Fashionista dolls. She is definitely my favourite among the listed ones, although I also quite like number 23 and 25 (click here for a bigger image).

I was surprised how fun it was to open the doll (aside from the excess plastic tabs :)). I had not opened a Barbie doll in yeeeaars πŸ™‚ A lot has changed, but there is a familiar feel to the experience.

Out of the box, her bangs were gelled stiff (above) and her hair overall messy, so I gave her a wash at once (below).

Here is the back, before and after. Never mind the tab through the skull. They are used to it πŸ™‚

I feel like she would benefit from a quick trim too, but I haven’t had the courage so far.

Upon seeing her face to face, I do think her face is lovely:

It’s a kind of a simple, classy look. It is certainly in good harmony with her outfit. Her right eye might be a tad higher than the other one, but it’s nothing distracting. I knew I’d take her over a blind online purchase any day.

I also really like the way she looks with her hair tied – except it’s kind of hard to make a bun that will actually hold:

Speaking of her outfit, I pretty much love everything about it! Give it to me in human size and I’ll totally wear it πŸ™‚

Actually-wearable-if-life-sized fashions are a relatively new development in the Barbie world. From my childhood, I remember everything being pink and either puffy, or glittery or iridescent. I really can’t decide which style I like better in dolls. Each has a very different appeal.

I think this dress looks cute and classy, and the colours are well matched. I like the pattern, too. My only complaint is that the skirt part and the collar aren’t hemmed. They also took the easy route and the sleeves aren’t separate pieces – but they look fine anyway. Sometimes I take the same shortcut when sewing, so I’d better not criticise too harshly πŸ™‚ The dress is one piece, but I would expect it to be.

Oh, and there is a slight mistake with the collar which makes it curl up, but I can live with it.

Lea – which I believe is this character’s name – wears a bunch of white bracelets…

And simple black mary-jane flats:

…which let her stand on her own on smooth surfaces.

I love these shoes as well πŸ™‚ They aren’t necessarily flawlessly sculpted, but I do love this style – for toddler dolls, for adult dolls, for myself! I think they are cute and girly. I see them as a playful reference to school uniforms, but my love for this style started with Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland.

(I didn’t like the film as a kid, it was too trippy. But I did like the shoes)

Alice In Wonderland Disney Joy Pinterest Alice

I’m very happy to own a pair of similar ones for Lea and my future Barbie-sized dolls.

To accommodate these flats, Lea’s feet are flat as well – as in, no high heels for her. Other than that, I believe she is a classic body type – although it didn’t say on the box.

Her legs move front and back, and slightly to the side. So do her arms – except the range is greater in each direction. Her head moves pretty much any way you want it to, except, like most dolls I own, you can’t lower her chin quite as much as I’d like to.

 

There are a few aspects about the Ruby Red Fashionista that do whisper “budget doll”. Her limited articulation is perhaps the most painful one when it comes to doll photography – the number of possible poses really is small. At the same time, I am fully aware that advanced range of motion has been the exception rather than the rule with Barbie, and you simply have to decide if Barbie is your thing nonetheless. If you don’t expect this Fashionista to be something that she wasn’t meant to be (which at first was a challenge for me) she has enough to offer: a good design and a lot of charm.

If I ever do find her a Made to Move body it would be great. If not, she’s been a great source of fun even as mere eye candy πŸ™‚

Advertisements

Mountain trip with Cerise Hood

Is it really almost spring? With the past two weeks having been freakishly cold (around -10Β°C/14ΒΊF) I barely noticed. It was also about two weeks ago that I made a short trip to the mountains that was indeed very wintery in character. I better get to reporting without any more delay πŸ™‚

Of course, this will involve a doll…

OK, so I am pretty passionate about dolls, but the trip wasn’t about doll photography exclusively. You see, I love winter, skiing and snow, but there is rarely an opportunity to enjoy any of the above in the city (even though we do have an artificial ski slope in the area, and even despite the cold, it’s not the same without natural snow). I was delighted when my family offered to take me along for a short skiing trip. Even though it only lasted two days, I still greatly enjoyed the rare chance to feast my eyes on snowy landscape.

The above photos were taken on the first day. This location was especially picturesque, and the weather was wonderful. Unfortunately, I did not bring Cerise on that day, and the next day we went to a different spot, and the weather was quite different. It wasn’t quite as magical, but I did my best to get the best out of it. To be fair, backdrop options are still plentiful for a doll so small in a world so big.

I made her coat just before leaving using the free coat pattern from BFashions, except I gave mine a hood and white trim. The idea for it was born thanks to the felt that it was to be made from – as soon as I saw it at the craft store, I imagined a doll sized, sheep-skin-inspired winter coat. And Cerise seemed to me like the right character to brave the cold and climb the mountains.

I attached the faux fur to the edge of the hood using fabric glue, but now I regret it. It made it stiff.Β  I chose to make a slit in the back to let her hair out. It’s an odd feature, but it works on this scale.

The day that the photos were taken, the doll was in my backpack all afternoon while I was skiing. I was worried about falling and breaking her (and the camera), so covered her in bubble wrap. Luckily, in the end, there weren’t any such dangerous moment at all πŸ™‚

These two are my favourite photos of the day:

I keep saying it, and I will say it again – I am not happy with the colour balance that comes out of my current Panasonic camera. I do try to adjust it in the camera and in GIMP, but it only makes things look even weirder. It’s especially stark in this post, compared to my old Fuji camera, as seen in the landscapes (although in this case the weather played a role as well). I don’t normally use the old one any more because it has far fewer options and its buttons have been used to death and barely respond, but I do miss the colours. I had another Fuji in-between the two, the infamous XF1. After two of it – the original purchase and the replacement – died to the same defectΒ (“lens control error”) year after year I decided to sulkily part ways with Fuji. I loved it otherwise.

If it wasn’t for the unexpected adventure, I wouldn’t have had a chance to take any photos out in the real snow, and it would be a real shame. Even so, I still have a brand new winter outfit for Animators’ dolls that I made that likely won’t see any use this year. I do love a proper, snowy winter, so I hope the next year will be more up to my standards, even in the city.

OK, now I better start thinking about something nice for Easter, spring and general sunshine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I have decided to celebrate this Valentine’s Day with a few very pink photos. Now, I am very reasonable with the use of pink in my everyday life, but every now and then it’s fun to go a little overboard πŸ™‚ I present to you: Howleen in pink, from top to bottom.

To make the dress for this special occasion, I used the same fabric that I used for an Animator’s doll dress. I do think it’s a lovely one – the right kind of soft, baby pink with the right kind of cute polka dots.

I wasn’t quite certain where the idea for the overall-type style came from – it’s never really been my style. Finally, it dawned on me after a while. I had been unknowingly inspired by the “Pink Jumper and Cat T-Shirt” Barbie Fashionista doll! The resemblance is really quite strong.

This is a dress that I made for my own enjoyment, so there is no harm done, but this raises an important question – how often do images we see sink into our minds and then they come up in our thoughts as ideas that are seemingly all our own? In fact, but for the very real danger of unintentional plagiarism, looking at pretty things is a probably one of the bets sources of inspiration.

I completed Howleen’s look with Birthday Ball shoes from Cedar Wood. Even though they are slightly big on her feet, they were definitely the choice that made the most sense, colour wise and theme wise.

The photos wouldn’t be complete without the right props.Β  I ran into both the wrapping paper – which doubles as the backdrop – and the sweets quite a while ago and was saving them for this very occasion. After the photos were taken I didn’t need the ‘props’ anymore, so the clean up was extra fun πŸ˜‰

When I was a child, I loved pink. Then I hated it. Now I consider it a guilty aesthetic pleasure – that I do revisit from time to time. It suits dolls especially: I feel like every time we dress them extra pink, we pay tribute to the Barbies of our childhoods πŸ™‚

I hope you too enjoyed this little something sweet. I hope you have a nice day, whether it’s spent with a sweetheart, friends, family or just appreciating your dolls, pink and otherwise πŸ™‚

EAH “Birthday Ball” Cedar Wood: a review

Between procrastination, a very long cold, and terrible, snowless weather outside, the past weeks haven’t been a very good time for crafts and photos for me. However, the winter season is the best time of the year when it comes to expanding my doll collection! It’s of course because of Christmas, but also my birthday. Quite appropriately, “Birthday Ball” Cedar Wood was my birthday present this year πŸ™‚

Even though Cedar is one of my favourite characters in the EAH webisodes, I never seriously considered buying her doll before. But recently I went through a phase of fascination with 80’s and 90’s Barbie reviews, and suddenly, I began to miss all the sweetness, tackiness, all the tinsel, glitter and iridescent fabrics. The Birthday Ball line marries some of this Barbie-like magic with my favourite doll brand, and I found Cedar to be the sweetest of them all πŸ™‚

This line isn’t exactly new. But it certainly is something different! All the featured characters – attending an unspecified birthday ball – have pastel coloured hair and dressed inspired by desserts. Some of them, Cedar included, are also scented like their treats.

I wasn’t sold on the scent at first. Cedar is supposed to smell like an orange pastry, but it smells more like artificial vanilla to me. While still in the box, the scent was also quite overpowering, but after the doll has been taken out and aired out it’s become much more agreeable.

The packaging and the art is adorable!

Unfortunately, I already have a complaint. Every other of these dolls that I saw online or in reviews had a stand attached and visible in the box. My seller also used a photo featuring a stand, but the box comes with none attached 😦 I thought my box had been broken into and looted, but no. It isn’t even listed in the contents (and they also are). It’s a shame, I was looking forward to another doll standΒ  😦 I didn’t even realise this model was available in a variant without one.

I decided to keep the purchase, though. The doll herself doesn’t disappoint, and it would be a shame to have to part:

She is wearing an elaborate one-piece dress made from two fabrics, in pink and violet. I especially love the glittery, princess-like peplum… thingy (I have gone through an entire glossary of tailoring terms and I still don’t know what to call it). The hemline is scalloped, perhaps to look like a cupcake. Unfortunately, it isn’t hemmed, but it’s holding up for now.

There is also a removable belt and a necklace, both gold and decorated with a bow. The necklace is sculpted and painted very neatly (although the gems could use a bit of colour too).

Her shoes were definitely a positive for me!

I love the general shape, they are smart and fancy. They are certainly whimsical with, again, icing-like designs and little cupcakes in the front, but I am very glad that they still look like actual shoes that a human being could wear (some Ever after High and Monster High ones barely do). I feel like they can be used with many other outfits, perhaps as long as you don’t zoom in on the cupcakes too too much. They also look very neatly made.

Cedar’s handbag looks like a present. Or perhaps it really is meant to be a present box, as simple as that. It is made from two separate pieces of plastic, but it does not open. It is sculpted to have a wood grain surface with some frills on the front and back. Very cute.

Now for the doll’s face. Since she is the future Pinoccio, she has sculpted wood pattern on her forehead and her lips have her signature two-tone look.Β There is some pearlescent highlighter above her eyes. The pink lip colour and violet eyeshadow match her outfit, and seem to overall suit her.

Her hair is amazing! Certainly, it is a little on the tacky side, but how fun πŸ™‚ It looks like it has layers.

The colour is gorgeous. It is neon-pastel-coral – or perhaps salmon – with pink streaks. The streaks aren’t readily visible, but they add to the overall richness.

In the front, there is a short braid – reminiscent of her signature doll – and, of course, there is some tinsel magic. The strands of tinsel look like they have little shiny dots, but in reality, these are just shines on the facets created by the twists in the tinsel.

Cedar wears a bow headband in a light pink colour. I understand the design on the bow’s ‘body’ to be modelled after the decorative texturing on the sides of a frosted cake – but it is quite abstract. The middle piece is like a stick with two acorns, a chain of three links and three leaves hanging off it. It sounds a little odd, but I think it is to be understood as a reminder of Cedar’s connection with… wood. I can only argue any of the above interpretations based on the general themes of ‘Pinoccio’ and ‘sweet birthday treats’.

Some reviewers shy away from showing naked dolls, but if you’re not going to admire this doll’s sculpt, you’re missing out:

The light caught in her wood grain texture looks quite beautiful. This is my first Cedar and I’m glad to now have such a unique looking doll in the collection. Her limbs are also different in that she has faux wooden screws or hinges in her knees and elbows, but her actual joint mechanism and range of articulation are as usual in the line.

Not only is this doll unique among other characters, she is also especially sweet in this particular release. Her colours, her frills, glitter and tinsel make my inner 90’s child very happy πŸ™‚ Despite the decorations being dangerously far to the tacky side, I feel like the overall design gets away with it’s sweetness, because from the very beginning we know it’s all a part of a convention – the theme of a fairytale birthday party bursting with magical desserts.

The doll is very well made – there are no upsetting defects (there often are), the paint details are neat, the clothing is nice and elaborate. My only complaint is the unexpected lack of a stand – I swear, most releases of this very doll contain one!

Finally, I have to admit that for craft purposes she isn’t very customisable. No matter what I dress her in, she will always look like a magical wooden puppet with a crazy hair colour and tinsel. Well, at least I love her this way πŸ™‚

If you, like me, like something sweet from time to time, this doll and her friends from the “Birthday Ball” line are an excellent excuse to take a trip to the slightly better days of Ever After High.

EAH “Epic Winter” Apple White: a review

I love winter. I also love Ever After High. So when the “Epic Winter” line was released, I was ecstatic. What is more, it so happened that this was the first EAH line released after I started collecting – my first opportunity to look forward to new dolls along with other fans and collectors.

It was Apple that impressed me the most with her bright and fresh face, but I was on the fence because of the irremovable tights. This year again, as the winter season came around, the theme grew more and more appealing and I finally gave into this Apple’s charm.

All the dolls in the line came packaged in largely see-through boxes resembling blocks of ice. Pretty cool, no pun intended:

What you see here is pretty much what you get. There is no hidden compartment with a stand. It was the first time a major, deluxe release did not include one of those.

When I look at the product shots in the back, I get a strong feeling that the omission of a stand wasn’t the only deviation from the initial design and plan:

The dolls in the photo have extra jewellery and, perhaps more strikingly, still have their pre-reboot faces. Did the changes arrive so quickly there was no time to update the tell-tale packaging? How did they not know they would be altering their faces long ahead of time?

Also for the first time ever, the actual doll is cuter than the art – although that’s my subjective opinion:

I could swear they use the same drawing with every Apple White doll – unfortunately so, because her face is strangely far away from her neck. Only the rest of the body gets re-drawn.

But the actual doll looks so sweet and it’s all that matters πŸ™‚

Her face has many of the same colours as the signature (which I don’t own) when it comes to her features and her make-up, but the expression is very different. I do have a “Getting Fairest” Apple to compare, though:

"Getting Fairest" Apple White and "Epic Winter" Apple White

I’d say that the original looks more artistic when it comes to her face-paint, but the newer one looks more friendly. I’d also say that the re-boot sculpt captures Apple’s character as we know her from the series better – she is almost always positive and enthusiastic.

I am perhaps slightly bothered by the violet-purple line inside her eyes, under the eyelids. Actually, it turns out both versions have it, but it seems more obvious with the new release. Nonetheless, I think her face is overall adorable.

…mostly because she looks so frickin’ happy!

Even though, for me, the “Epic Winter” line marks the beginning of a decline in quality, in this case, the changes did not affect her articulation, so both her and me have reasons to feel happy.

Let’s talk about her outfit. It is a one-piece hybrid between a dress and a coat with someΒ  fur accents. It’s more pink than red this time around (red being her signature colour).

The main theme seems to be ice-crystals and snowflakes, with a personal touch in the form of Apples:

The odd part is that when you remove the belt (shaped like golden icicles?) it reveals a plain white band. It’s a shame, since I’m not a fan of the accessory and was intending to remove it, but now it has to stay on, I guess.

On the positive side, the outfit is made of three different types of fabric: satin/polyester, faux-fur and faux-leather. I think it makes it look interesting and more complete:

I’m also wondering if I would be able to separate the dress into a skirt and a separate jacket, but right now she feels too new for such a risky undertaking.

Part of the reason why I decided in favour of Apple and not Blondie (who is also cute and doesn’t have moulded tights) is that I really like her boots…

At first I noticed that hers looked the only boots in the line that didn’t resemble ice crystals. Later I realised that she wasn’t actually exempt from the theme: she too is wearing ice-boots, judging by the heels, but she is just wearing knit leg-warmers over them. I wish there were no crystals involved at all – I am a big fan of more ‘normal’ looking shoes – but since they generally look like super-cute sweater boots anyway, I am satisfied. These are perfect for Christmas outfits.

Then there is the head band. It’s all sculpted plastic, but it still looks sweet and cozy. The details on the band look like beads and snowflakes. Out of the box, it comes attached to the doll’s head. I still haven’t removed the tabs and bands from mine.

She comes with a solid piece of slightly see-through, glittery plastic for a purse:

Can I send it back to Mattel and asks for the jewellery from the box art instead? Because I think it would have made for a much better accessory.

Finally, the most problematic part of her ensemble – the infamous moulded-on tights.

I don’t like them because they limit the possibilities when it comes to redressing. I also wish that they were at least only painted on, without the sculpted pattern – it looks chunky and awkward to me. It’s also odd how the detail fades on the front part of her thighs. The mould-lines on the sides are very obvious, too.

Her hair is rather nice. It is styled into soft curls without the use of any gel. It feels silky and non-oily.

My only complaint is that there are sections where the hair has lost its curl, especially in the areas that were squished in the box.

Be forewarned that her head is hard. In the past, this have often meant future problems with glue leaking through the hair and making it permanently sticky. Hopefully they have learned since then and have used a different kind of adhesive. Time will tell.

Supplied with the doll there was a ring for the child. To me, it’s another useless accessory (along with the handbag). Not only because it is both too small and too silly for me to wear, but also because it’s not the best design to begin with: it’s supposed to be a magical rose under a dome, but it looks like chewed up gum:

The crystals around it also look strange in red. Like some evil substance from a sci-fi film. (perhaps it’s the crystals that the Sith put in their lightsabers). I do like the dome part itself. I might pick the ring apart and reuse this part for something else.

I think this covers all the important parts. Summing up, this doll represents a slightly lower standard than its predecessors when it comes to detail, but it’s still a pretty good design. If you like the reboot faces and can get over the moulded tights, it is a solid doll that represent a fresh new theme – quite perfect for the holidays, too. Most importantly, in my opinion, she does have the magic – that something special about a doll that makes you fall in love with her and brings you happiness.

 

 

Mini Review: LPS Oona & Nona Owler

I never really cared for Littlest Pet Shop. Their style just didn’t speak to me. Collectible figures have never been my focus, too. And then, Littlest Pet Shop got a makeover… And I fell in love with a set of the cutest owls the world has ever seen ❀

Such happy colours!

LPS has exploded with new sets, new pets and new ideas, but the ones that really caught my attention and caught my heart belong to a particular series of two packs. I don’t even know if they have an official name, as it’s nowhere to be found on the package, but they each contain a parent pet and baby pet and cost 4.99$ on the official Hasbro store. The other available packs are indicated at the back of the package. They are all adorable and quite creative. There is a baby rooster that fits in an alarm clock, and an otter that’s learning to swim in a pool float πŸ™‚

Now, back to our owls.

LPS Oona Owler & Nona Owler

 

They are lovely in their own right, but for me, there was also a huge nostalgia factor at play. You see, when I was a kid, I had a baby alligator toy that could fit in a tiny egg, and I loved the idea. Tragically, the little gator got lost. This set brings back the fondest of memories:

The egg and the nest are separate. The eggs does close. I really like its baby blue colour.

Here is the youngster on her own. She is approximately the size of the fingernail on my thumb, and still fairly detailed and well painted:

 

She isn’t even the smallest part of the set. Look at this tiny mousie! It isn’t painted, but it’s still quite impressively detailed for its size.

 

In the real world, baby animals are the cutest in the animal kingdom. In this case, I’m not so sure πŸ™‚ This is one precious mama-owl:

Would you look at her adorable eyes and sweet beak! The shaded paint on her is very well done, and the colours look great together. And have I mentioned her head bobbles? She would make a nice car companion… if I had a car, that is.

Oona’s stylish glasses do come off:

I do have a minor complaint here, there is a white smudge under her left eye.

Here is a fantastic bonus to offset the flaw – her glasses fit my dolls! What are the odds? The ‘lenses’ are spaced perfectly.

Here are Oona and Nona seen from the back. They both have “LPS” printed on their heads. Evidently, Hasbro isn’t afraid to take creditΒ  for this cuteness.

The painted elements on these are slightly different to the touch, like for example Oona’s entire head. This gives off the impression that she is made of vinyl, but to the best of my knowledge, it is just hard plastic (other than the paint). It doesn’t look cheap or excessively shiny, though.

Owls in design may be a passing fad of the past few years, but cuteness is timeless πŸ™‚

So this is Oona and Nona from the Littlest Pet Shop. Are they worth it? Before I answer, I must mention that in my area the prices on these are closer to 8-11$ (7-9€) in retail – isn’t that a great injustice? For me, the fact that you get two little figures for the price of a budget-but-nonetheless-a-doll takes some getting used to. It’s hard for me to answer whether they are worth this much from the perspective of manufacturing costs, but if we put a price on good design, creativity and decent execution, then I guess it’s acceptable. I am happy with my decision to buy these two, but unless the prices fall, LPS will be a rather occasional treat for me.

EAH Bunny to Bunny head swap

Bunny Blanc re-headed

Not long ago I bought one of the recent dolls from Ever After High – The Archery Club Bunny Blanc. I did it specifically because I liked her reboot face more than the original:

Signature Bunny Blanc (left) vs Archery Club Bunny Blanc (right)

However, I found everything else to be far superior on the original release, and that including her body…

My intention from the start was to swap the heads on these two. I had never swapped heads before, so I was certainly a little nervous! I tried finding some advice online. I did find a few photos and videos, but all in all, I feel like nothing out there can thoroughly guide you through the process. You need to feel it for yourself to judge how much force you need to apply, and wiggle things around until the head comes off.

Nonetheless, here are a few tips that may make the process a little easier:

  • Carefully heating the head will soften it – some people recommend using a hair dryer, or putting the doll in a plastic bag and dipping her head down in very warm water (I went with the latter method)
  • Try removing the head from the ‘bad’ body first – the body is more likely to break (the parts inside the neck) than the head, so you probably want start with the poorer body for practice
  • This is what the neck peg looks for Ever after High. See the plastic getting white from the strain? These are the most endangered parts. Also, it is these thin prongs that you will need to somehow wiggle out through the narrow neck hole, probably one at a time.

 

EAH neck peg

I make it sound scary, huh? It was a little scary for me, but many people do this regularly with no casualties πŸ™‚ Pulling the head off is the difficult part. Slipping the new head on isn’t much of an issue.

Overall, everything went well for me – hurray!

Personally, I feel like this Bunny face-up is the prettiest and the most true to her character so far. I was expecting to see lots of head swaps with it, but I couldn’t find a single photo online. I do have a theory now why it may be so. Unfortunately, the skin tone match between the two dolls I used isn’t perfect:

Her body has a peachy undertone, and her face has a cool bluish undertone. The difference is easily noticeable when you look for it, but I feel like it isn’t particularly distracting otherwise. She kind of looks like some of us look like with make-up on, maybe? The difference is also less clear when she has her arms down, the white fluff of her vest obscures her neck.

Another thing worth taking into account is that her new head is slightly smaller, and her headband sits more loosely. If you move the doll it may slide off, but it stays on fine on display on the shelf.

Finally, the Archery head doesn’t have her ears pierced. I have seen a tutorial suggesting that it is possible to pierce them yourself, and I’m considering it. Frankly, though, her earring were never all that visible to begin with, so I’m not in a huge rush.

Overall, the re-headed Bunny is not perfect because of the slight colour discrepancy. It also bugs me that I reward the manufacturer’s mistakes with both releases by buying not one, but two dolls! But all in all, I feel like the resulting doll looks very much like the doll we deserved in the first place – both sweet like her character and properly articulated. A slight mismatch or not, I do enjoy her in this form way more than any of her official releases.

P.S. I almost forgot! This is what she would look like in her Archery clothes: