Bunny Blanc ventures out

Into the woods. The woods seem like a good place for a bunny. Easier to find than the Wonderland, anyway.

Bunny by the tree.JPG

look at the time.JPG

clock.JPG

Bunny in the woods.jpg

Bunny Blanc & the rabbit hole.jpg

Bunny by the rabbit hole.jpg

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Meet Bunny Blanc

Meet Bunny Blanc, a very exciting new addition to my collection.

Bunny Blanc & blackboard.jpg

She is a Mattel doll from the Ever After High brand, and definitely something different for me.

Ever After High?

Until recently, I knew next to nothing about Ever After High. I had seen the logo somewhere, but I assumed it was a part of the Monster High brand (because they are undead… so they live for-ever after..?). Then I saw an EAH doll for the first time at Christmas, because my niece received Apple White from the series as a gift. When I asked about her, my sister-in-law explained that the character was the daughter of Snow White, at which point I assumed it had something to do with the Disney film ‘Descendants’. It doesn’t, strictly speaking.

Ever After High is not licensed by Disney, but Mattel is no doubt counting on us making the association – EAH dolls are introduced by their packages as the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, the son of Alice, the daughter of Beauty and the Beast, etc. Perhaps the Disney fan in me should be offended at such cunning, but it’s not. I applaud Mattel’s intelligence in basing their characters on traditional fairytales, as everyone is free to do, but implicitly invoking a Disney feel. More importantly, I think they are simply doing a wonderful job design-wise. According to the article “The $500 Million Battle Over Disneyโ€™s Princesses: How Hasbro grabbed the lucrative Disney doll business from Mattel” the move to create Ever After High was apparently forced by the loss of Disney princess license. Unlike the author of the article, I believe that the limiting circumstances worked out for good and fostered unique creativity. Disney princesses may indeed be better from Hasbro, but their (sort of illegitimate) offspring shines coming from Mattel!

Back to Bunny…

I pretty much had no interest in dolls other than the Animators’ Collection until I saw an online photo of Bunny Blanc in her basic rendition. She was unlike any other doll I’d ever seen with her smart look mixed with a steampunk feel. Soon I knew I wanted her. Sometime at the begging of May I saw her in a local toy shop and took her home with me.

Bunny Blanc box

You may have to take my word for it, but the box states that she is the daughter of the White Rabbit – presumably the one from Alice in Wonderland. I do not want to know how that happened, but I do like the result.

Writings on the box are not the only thing which makes the product available in these parts of Europe (Poland in my case) different from what I initially saw online. On the negative side, the doll is missing the collar and pink scarf piece seen in the drawing, which does appear in the original release. That is sad news, but I decided to buy the doll anyway. On the more positive side – while many people find the doll’s eyes wonky – and I can see why – but I wonder if perhaps my version is somewhat less crazy-eyed, if not perfect. What do you think?

bunny blanc face & eyes.jpg

You may have noticed that her hair looks different in the above photo and in the box. Straight out of the box it was stiff and sticky, but thankfully it’s very easy to get in order. Just wash and let dry, no styling required.

I love many of the details on this doll. I think it was the boots that captured my attention at first. Whatever I could say, this picture will say it better:

bunny blanc boots.jpg

I will comment on the details, though. Notice how intricate they are. The white part is textured like leather, and the black part has numbers printed on it. The heel is sculpted like an hourglass. Both shoes are topped with bunny tails. My localised version doesn’t have them painted white as it should, but it’s OK, I’ll take care of that.

Bunny blanc boots hourglass.jpg

Her other accessories are related to the theme of time as well. Her purse is a clock, and in fact, the only way you can tell that it’s a purse is by the zipper on top. (Also note the key in the background below- it’s a brush. Most EAH dolls come with one of these.)

Bunny Blanc purse.jpg

Bunny's purse reverse.jpg

There is a clock on Bunny’s top hat too. The hat is attached to a headband with bunny ears. I’m not sure if the ears are a fashion accessory or if they are supposed to be genuine, living bunny ears in the doll world. The hat has the same design as the shoes.

I half-expected that the clock being gold all over is another omission, but it’s not. In fact, it’s the same even in the Ever After High cartoon. Nonetheless, I am tempted to repaint it to give it more detail.

Bunny Blanc's top hat.jpg

Time and clocks imagery is also present in the dress:

Bunny's dress.jpg

I like the colours. They complement the blacks and whites, but without disrupting the smart look. The skirt is asymmetrical- longer on the left, shorter on the right. It all consists of one piece – the skirt, the top and the vest are all connected.

I love her gloves and cuffs – so smart, so cute! The fingers look very graceful. One of the cuffs has a watch attached. It’s another element which I’m tempted to paint, but I am concerned it might overcrowd the outfit with too much detail.

Bunny Blanc gloves.jpg

Another feature which I’m very excited about is the doll’s articulation. She is articulated all over! Even her knees twist to the sides. The only part which I could imagine being articulated but isn’t is her waist. So much posability creates a lot of creative possibility in photography ๐Ÿ™‚

The doll can’t stand on her own – unless you balance her very, very carefully and stop breathing in her proximity, but she comes with a nice-looking stand.

Bunny Blanc with stand.jpg

In short, I love the design of this doll. There are many wonderful details – almost too many, yet they work together in a fantastically whimsical way. The colours are so much different from what you usually see on play dolls, more mature, but not at all boring. She ins’t perhaps the most versatile model for sewing due to her statement accessories – bold boots and black gloves, but perhaps as in the case of Mattel, the limitations may prove to be a springboard to unique ideas. That, or I can swap her hands and accessories with another EAH doll ๐Ÿ™‚

I was about to finish the photo session with some more creative photos featuring Bunny, but, alas, my camera broke in the process! This is by no means the doll’s fault, though ๐Ÿ™‚ My camera, the Fuji XF1, has unfortunately been known to be susceptible to a lens control error. It’s the second time it has happened to this camera, unfortunately this time it’s no longer on warranty ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But fear not, I can’t live without a camera, so I’ve already found a replacement. This means there will definitely be more photos, of Bunny Blanc and otherwise.

Look at the time! I’ve got to go ๐Ÿ™‚

Restoring curly doll hair

In this post I will describe how I fixed my second-handย  Animators’ Merida’s hair. I will say up front that the process could probably be improved upon, but since the results were satisfactory I think it’s worth sharing.

I apologise – the photos in this section aren’t exactly art. Just dolls in poorly lit bathtubs and such.

If you remember, the doll arrived in a pretty rough shape hair-wise:

Animators' Merida frizzy hair

First, I washed the doll’s hair.ย  I don’t think the kind of shampoo matters too much. Just to be safe I went with a simple one. I did not bother to brush her hair beforehand – it’s easier later on.

Merida washing hair

Next, I applied hair conditioner. I can’t tell if it changes anything in the long run, but it nonetheless serves a role – it makes the hair more slippery and easier to brush. I left the conditioner in for about 15 minutes. The one I used was a glycerin-based one, but again, I don’t think it matters a lot.

conditioning

Still leaving the conditioner in, I laid the doll on a flat surface and started to brush out the tangles. This way of doing it is a bit messy but I believe it makes brushing easier. I used a Barbie brush and it worked OK. It’s always advisable to start at the very ends and work up your way towards the rootsย  – otherwise you the mess bunches up in one place in a gross, hairy Gordian knot. In this case the tangle was pretty bad so I also sectioned the hair into very small strands – I worked on a single lock at a time. It helps to work consistently from one side to the other keeping track of which strands have already been brushed. It’s best to hold the strand you’re brushing firmly with the other hand so that the pulling won’t rip the hair out of the doll’s head.

brushing Merida doll.jpg

After washing, conditioning and brushing, I arrived at this result:

brushing accomplished

At this point the hair didn’t look very neat, but I swear that the brush was passing through it smoothly ๐Ÿ™‚ I am impressed with how well the curls endured all the water, product and harsh brushing. It would normally be reassuring to know that the original hairstyles on the Animators’ dolls are made to last, but in this case it was a problem. I wanted the hair straight so that the old curls wouldn’t interfere with the new ones.

Dipping in hot water makes doll hair smoother and straightens it, and this was my next step. I boiled the water in an electric kettle, poured it into a bowl and dipped the doll’s hair in it for about 10 seconds. At first I waited for the water to cool slightly, but seeing that it’s not working as well as I expected I repeated the process a few more times, now dipping the hair right after the water boiled. I can definitely say that my doll did not suffer from such treatment in any way, but excessive heat may be dangerous to dolls, so try at your own risk. In fact, some dolls should not be allowed to even get wet at all, such as, reportedly, American Girl dolls.

Sorry, but this is the best photo I have of ‘dipping in hot water’ – handling a bowl of hot water, and aย  doll, and a camera with only two hands proved too fiddly. But unlike in this photo, I did dip the hair all the way in.

boil-washing.jpg

After multiple rounds, the hair was better, but not perfect. Hmm. It seemed to work better for the people on the Internet. But doesn’t it always? ๐Ÿ™‚

boil-washing progress.jpg

At this point, if I had had a flat iron, I would have used it, despite it being plain risky on plastic hair. Since I do not own any such contraptions, I took an experimental approach. I wrapped the hair tightly in cloth and dipped again. My reasoning was that the cloth would press the curls flat, and the hot water would make them stay that way.

straightening.jpg

It wasn’t a full success, but still an improvement. I decided it probably wasn’t getting much better from then on, rinsed the hair thoroughly to make sure all the conditioner was all gone and dried Merida with a towel.

Wet Animators’ dolls in towels are cute, so here is a photo ๐Ÿ™‚

Merida in a towel.jpg

And here is the result of all the dipping and straightening:

Animators' Merida straight hair.jpg

Merida straightened hair.jpg

I was surprised how long her hair is when it’s straight. It looks kind of nice as it is, if not very Merida-like. Lady Godiva comes to my mind.

When her hair was still a little damp, I started re-creating the curls using drinking straws and hairpins.ย I used straws which are wider than typical ones. I took small strands of hair, brushed them and twisted each tightly around the straw in a fairly thin layer, securing both ends with hairpins.

The ends were still a little curly and scruffy and wouldn’t lay as flat as the remaining length. I think I should have trimmed the ends.

Apart from keeping the hair damp I also used lightweight styling mousse. I don’t think it’s necessary, but I really wanted to make sure that my hard work would not fall apart two days later (I intended to use hairspray but I read online that i wasn’t the best of ideas). I tested the mousse in my own hair to see how hard it would make them. I’d say not hard at all, which is nice, but on the flip-side, I am not sure if it did anything to preserve the curls either. At least her hair smells fruity to this day ๐Ÿ˜‰

curling doll hair with straws.jpg

I had about 70 hairpins and I thought I was well-prepared, but I ran out and had to start using string. I would not advise using those cheap little rubber bands, many will break from the hot water used in the next step (and with them your heart over the lost time and effort).
Much later…

Merida in straw curlers

After the straw curlers were all on and secured I dipped the hair in hot water again for about 20 seconds. This is supposed to make the curls permanent (more or less).

I left the hair undisturbed for three days to dry and to set. One would have supposedly been OK, but I wasn’t in a hurry and I figured it can’t hurt to wait longer.

When I was taking the straws off it turned out that the hairpins had rusted. They left a rusty residue on the hair, but when I wiped it off there were no stains. This is probably in part due to Merida’s already rusty hair colour. Rust marks from hairpins could be a problem on lighter-haired dolls, though.

And this is what she looked like at that point:

silly curls.jpg

Definitely curly, but still not quite Merida style.

I took each lock of hair and separated into two or three strands. It wasn’t was as easy as I expected. Even though I had brushed carefully, there were interlocking hairs which didn’t let me separate the strands. At this point it’s too late to brush again – brushing would turn the hair into one big fluffy ball. In fact, from now on Merida’s hair care consists solely of making sure that no hairs get pulled out of their designated strands ๐Ÿ™‚ Brushes, hook and loop fasteners and children are the greatest threats.

And, finally, the end result as shared in the previous post:

Disney Animators' Merida face 1

Ta-da!

So, how long did this project take without the drying and waiting part? About 5 or 6 hours…

Was it worth it? Since it’s all done and over, I’d say yes. But if I had known beforehand, I might have been tempted to settle for straight hair after all ๐Ÿ™‚