Ariel’s Vacay part 2: The beach

The adventures continue, this time taking us to the beach. This isn’t my first beach photo shoot with dolls, but how can you deny a mermaid a trip to the beach?

The swimsuit I used for the photos comes from a Barbie Dolphin Magic fashion pack, as do the glasses, with slight modifications.

The swimsuit is pretty simple and it lacks a little stretch that would make it fit the doll better, but I chose it because it corresponds so well with Ariel’s signature purple shell top! I also added a piece of a light, green-colored fabric as a cover-up to represent her tail.

In some shots, she managed to stand on her own. In all the other ones, I made her stand straight using a bamboo skewer for support. If you align them with her legs, they aren’t visible.

As far as the rest of the beach gear goes:

  • the deck chair is presumably a phone stand, I bought it in a Flying Tiger store
  • the sun cream also comes from aΒ  Mattel pack, except I cut off the handles that it had to help dolls hold it (realism first :))
  • the drink is a really cool DIY! You use a clear plastic sheet and heat to shape it. It is not exactly a kid-friendly craft, and not all tries end in a shapely glass, but it certainly works overall. Here are the directions that I found on YouTube: https://youtu.be/2tIENwFC9A4 . I topped it off with a slice of citrus intended for nail art.

There is also the surfboard. I made it according to the pattern and instructions from MyFroggyStuff https://youtu.be/jVTBkfCG6rc I decorated mine with wrapping paper and chose to add the pink details. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would endure being actually in the water – how cool would that be? πŸ™‚ So, floating, waterproof doll surfboard for a future craft? I would also have to not drown my camera, though πŸ˜‰

This year I chose an apparently less frequented part of the beach, where there were no visible steps and the surface of the sand had not been disturbed after a storm. It turns out that there are these totally tiny shells in the sand before people walk all over them! I had visited this area a few times before but I had never seen shells so small – and they are perfect for dolls πŸ™‚ I did bring a few home for future crafts.

I wanted them to face the ‘right’ way in Ariel’s hands, but they were so hard to handle on a windy beach.

Can you imagine the size of the creatures that must have lived in them? πŸ™‚

This concludes this trip, but there is one more ahead – and it’s my favourite πŸ™‚

 

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Ariel’s Vacay part 1: The pier and the promenade

My body-swapped Ariel has been my favourite doll lately – it’s pretty great when you like what you do have, instead of thinking about all the dolls you could have, for once πŸ˜‰ Anyway, as a result, it was an obvious choice for me to take this doll with me to the seaside.

I took photos in three different locations, giving them a slightly different theme, and I’ll post each set separately. These ones come from the walk in the town and on the pier. Unlike the other ones, I did not plan this photo-shoot when I was packing all my doll gear back at home, but then the summery atmosphere of the promenade and all the cool looking food trucks won me over.

In all these photos, Ariel is wearing a Barbie dress from a fashion pack. Her shoes are also Mattel-made, coming from a set of five pairs. Her glasses came with a Dolphin Magic accessory set, except I decided to paint the ‘lenses’ black. I used matte acrylic paint – what I happened to have on hand – so I added some shine using varnish. Unfortunately, it dried slightly bumpy.

To be quite fair, I’m not entirely happy with either of the deck-chair-on-the-pier photos, but I really wanted to include one or two. It was such a nice location and I liked how all the colours looked together. They also took way too much effort to just discard them all: it was so bright, and the angle was so awkward that I could barely see what I was doing, so I half-blindly took a ton. Also, the wind kept knocking the doll over, so I had to keep posing her. Finally, the tiny grooves in the wood were terribly uncomfortable to kneel on. Days later, I still have the marks from them on my knees πŸ˜€ I really need to start bringing something soft to lay down πŸ˜‰

I do quite like this next one. It’s obviously overexposed, but in a cool way πŸ˜‰

That’s the thing, too. My camera barely handled so much sunlight with a fairly large aperture, but I did want some nice blur in the background, for esthetic reasons and to ‘hide’ oversized humans. I did manage to find settings that kind of worked, but the second the sun changed, they were no longer good. And the light changed a lot. But enough whining! The conditions were a challenge for me, but I don’t regret anything overall πŸ™‚

It really was windy that day:

…making for some authentic seaside photos.

There are more summer adventures to come soon πŸ™‚

 

 

Made To Move Ariel – the story of a doll come true

Like many doll lovers, I am a fan of My Froggy Stuff. Her crafts are so clever and cute! But for me, one the greatest Froggy inspirations was not strictly a craft, but a custom doll – her Made To Move Ariel. Ever since I laid my eyes on her, I was obsessed. Here is a link to the first video where Ariel first appeared as a re-bodied doll: https://youtu.be/mnxpMOSDVfI . She has been appearing on the channel ever since, even as a part of the Darby Show series, stirring up my envy πŸ˜‰

For a while now, I have been wanting to get one of my own, but it wasn’t easy.

  • The doll Froggy used was a 2014 Classic Disney Store Ariel. This face style is now retired. I would only by satisfied with the 2014 version or the 2013 version, which is very similar.
  • This doll was never available in my country (no Disney Store for me :(), so they are hard to find locally
  • They don’t seem to be especially highly prized on Ebay, but the shipping costs from abroad that I saw usually amounted to quite a lot extra cost.

Finally, a miracle! She appeared on a local bidding service, and really affordable too! Not long after, she was mine πŸ™‚

Well, with a small twist. Unlike the Classic 2013 and 2014 Ariel, her legs are articulated. Her outfit didn’t match any product photos either… but the face was spot on?

Following the number printed on her back…

I learned that she was a part of a really awesome “Little Mermaid” gift set from 2013 – a third viable option I didn’t even know about. If you’re curious about the set, I recommend checking out this picture on Flickr. This user’s photos are an awesome resource for all things Disney Store πŸ™‚

If you’re geeking out about the different Ariel versions from this period as I am, this photo, also from the user drj1828, showing a comparison of the Ariels from 2012 to 2014 might also interest you.

I don’t know where this doll’s substitute bra came from, other than evidently from another Ariel doll, not necessarily Disney Store made:

I quite like it. It’s even more movie-accurate than the original.

The tail is a different story. It’s a little small and just barely closes…

Especially if you try to sit the doll. Then all the secrets spill out:

Like the fact that it originally belonged to a Simba Ariel.

Other than the size problem, I quite like it. It is again pretty movie-accurate in colour, shape and finish. I especially like the fin.

Her hair was in a surprisingly good condition, even retaining the original curl. I only had to comb through it with my fingers and slightly smooth it down on the top of her head. I did not want to use a hairbrush so as not to turn it into a poof.

Most importantly, I am very happy with her face. I don’t claim that this is the objectively best Ariel sculpt in the world, but it is by far my personal favorite. I think she looks cute, curious and sassy πŸ™‚ I also like her big, striking eyes.

Finding the doll was a big step forward, but I also wanted her on a Made to Move Barbie body. The above-mentioned My Froggy Stuff video said that the pink, blonde MtM is the perfect skin tone match for her. The football player is supposed to be her equivalent too, so I ordered one, and… a big fail.

Not even close! Apparently, European, or perhaps Central European MtMs are way darker 😦 Compared to Ariel, she looked like a spray tan accident.

I thought maybe I should keep Ariel as is – after all, she has above-avergage articulation too:

Invisible comb and mirror πŸ˜‰ In fact, this is how close she can get to touching her face. She can kind of touch her head.

She does have a considerable number of joints, but there is something off about this doll’s body…

When she sits, her knees are quite far apart.

Her calves are softer than the upper leg and sort of bendy.

Worst of all, she can’t really stand straight. Her hip joints are loose and she flops back and forth. This would be especially problematic when posing her for photos.

When watching Classic DS dolls reviews, I had heard many a time that their articulated legs are awkward, so much so, some people said they prefer the unarticulated ones (or with the bend and snap, old-Barbie-style rubbery legs, to be precise). It was unfathomable to me. I now understand where they were coming from – this model is very wobbly.

So, there was just one, expensive gamble to make… The Purple Top Made to Move Barbie.

And, it turns out, it works!

To my eye, MtM Lea is pretty much perfect for Ariel. She was unfortunately quadruple the price of the blonde >.< Apparently she is rare now. And I still had to swap their heads without ruining the costly donor…

Lea’s peg was covered in glue when I took it out, but no major damage was done
Removing Ariel’s head was fairly easy

Thankfully, the operation was successful! Let me also mention that, as per Froggy’s advice, I wrapped thin rubber bands around Barbie body’s peg – apparently, it’s too loose otherwise. The trick worked for me. I’m very sorry, but I did not think to take a photo of how it looked. I do recommend the video for that.

Here she is, looking pretty good!

Her Ariel top still fits, but her tail not so much. I think it’s a fair trade off, since it was off from the beginning anyway. I wonder if I should try to resize it or make a new one from scratch?

Made to Move Ariel

Plus, the purple top retains her signature colour πŸ™‚ Now she is a ‘purple top’ Ariel πŸ™‚

When I first saw her, I thought – is her neck supposed to be so long and slim, or did I not push it down all the way? But less then a minute later I was used to it, and it feels just right.

The improvement in articulation is unquestionable, but there was never really a doubt which body is the better one.

Overall, I am ecstatic about the fact that I did not break anything, and about how lovely she looks. I’d like to announce that Ariel will be the doll to travel with me to the seaside this year for a photo shoot πŸ™‚

Also, by a total coincidence, the day I am finally read to post this, My Froggy Stuff has just released a video about yet another Made to Move Ariel πŸ˜€ https://youtu.be/dWzANxsslJc

 

Barbie Fashion & Accessory Pack Haul

It has happened. I have started to give in to collecting Barbies too.

Starting a collection of a new kind of doll usually means starting with nothing clothing-wise. While I have patiently sewn and collected Animator’s and Ever After High outfits over a few years, I have decided to take the easier approach this time and buy a few basics to jump-start my Barbie wardrobe. Let’s see if they live up to expectations!

Note: Due to a problem with my SD card, I have lost nearly all my photos of the accessories still in the package. The above photo only shows a few of the items I will discuss. The remaining items were packaged in a similar style bags with the pink-striped background as well.

But first, let me briefly introduce my today’s model:

I bought this doll on sale for practically next to nothing. I shall call her Tania. I have had her for a couple of months, wondering whether I should give her away as a gift, but I always felt the little girls in my life already have enough blonde Barbies. In the end I decided to harvest her for her clothes and shoes. Every little helps πŸ™‚

It’s a doll from a budget line – as ‘budget’ as it gets. She can’t lift her arms to the side – only up and down – and she can’t nod her head ‘yes’, only ‘no’ – to the sides. Despite that, and the fact that she is a fairly generic blonde Barbie, she has a very sweet smile πŸ™‚

Her dress is made of a t-shirt-like fabric. It has a velcro-type closure in the back. Unfortunately, the print is only in the front, the back is solid black.

Her shoes were not visible in the box, so it was an unboxing-time surprise. They are very… sweet – they look like they came straight from the Fairytopia line – and perhaps they did. Probably not very useful with modern-style outfits, but hey, they might come in handy one day:

Now, to give her some new options!

Barbie Career Teacher Fashion Pack (DNT92)

POSITIVE:

+ the pattern on the shirt goes all around

+ the top closes with a velcro (so you don’t have to squeeze the doll in)

+ the skirt is ‘denim’ all over as well

+ feels well made

+ cute glasses and books

NEGATIVE:

– the skirt is a little bulky around the hips on the classic Barbie

Comments: I bought the set because I especially dislike sewing tops, and because I like the collar. It is to be expected, but the white ‘shirt’ is sewn into the top. The books don’t open, but they still make for pretty cool props. The skirt doesn’t have a velcro, only an elastic waist-band.

 

Barbie Dolphin Magic Tropical Set Fashion Pack (FBD85)

POSITIVE:

+ classic, realistic cut

+ cute opalescent pattern

+ closes with a Velcro

+ fun accessories

NEGATIVE:

– the swimsuit is not elastic at all and it doens’t fit very well

– the print is only in the front

– the swimsuit was pinned to the cardboard and the tabs left little holes in the fabric

– the velcro gets caught in the fabric and leaves marks in it easily

Comments: The bottle of the sunscreen bottle has a ‘peg’ that fits Barbie furniture with corresponding indentations (so as not to move or fall). It also has a loop that fits around the doll’s finger. Both these features are handy, but they also detract from the realism. The puppy is too unrealistic for my liking, but it is vinyl-like to touch and overall well-made.

 

Barbie Fashion Pack, Pink Plaid Shirt (DMB38)

I have no idea why it’s called ‘pink’, it’s definitely more red πŸ™‚

POSITIVE:

+ feels pretty well-made

+ made from cotton fabric

+ the pattern continues to the back

+ realistic cut and pattern

Comment: I hesitate to name any negatives, but I will say what would fit my taste a little better: I think the shirt should have the closure in the front, not the back, then it could be worn undone. It is also slightly more loose-fitting than I imagined, but it’s not objectively a problem.

 

Barbie Fashion Pack, Heather Heart Tank (DMB36)

POSITIVE:

+ trendy, contemporary look

+ fastens in the back

NEGATIVE

– slight defects in the hem

– not as well-fitted as I expected

– a little bit short

 

Barbie Fashion Dress – Sweet Casual Dress (DNT81)

POSITIVE:

+ feels well-made

+ velcro-type closure for easy dressing

+ pattern continues all around, the stripes align neatly

+ really brightens up the doll!

NEGATIVE:

– the ‘belt’ is only in the front

 

Comment: I wasn’t initially going to buy this dress because dresses – especially sleeveless ones – are relatively easy to sew. Since this one has a t-shirt top, I made an exception. I’m so glad I did! It’s so lovely and joyful-looking πŸ™‚

Barbie Accessories Original & Petite Doll Shoe Pack (FCR92)

POSITIVE:

+ a nice collection of basics for a decent price

NEGATIVE:

– …except for the orange ones, I don’t really need those πŸ™‚

– could use a touch of paint

– why put flat and high-heeled shoes in one pack? What if I only have one type of Barbie?

 

Comment: I thought the white sneakers were for the high-heeled foot type, but they really have flat soles – in case someone was wondering.

Barbie Accessories Curvy & Tall Doll Shoe Pack (FCR93)

POSITIVE:

+ again, an affordable boost to your Barbie shoes collection

NEGATIVE:

– again: lack painted details

Β – again: a mixture of flats and heels

Comment: Why areΒ there separate shoes for Curvy and Tall Barbie? It turns out there is a slight difference. They are slightly big on the Classic Barbie – which is OK, the manufacturer did their best to warn me πŸ˜‰ The shoes are still usable just not as snug-fitting.

Barbie Fashion Accessory Pack, Pink and Red (DHC55)

POSITIVE:

+ nice sculpted details

+ cute designs

NEGATIVE:

– mixture of flats and heels

Comment:Β Because I really like the shapes and textures of these items, the lack of painted details doesn’t bother me with this pack. I love the red boots and I definitely wanted some girly flats in my collection. I only wish they had skipped the pom-poms. I’m not a huge fan of the bracelet and the necklace, but it’s highly subjective.

* * *

This concludes my Barbie haul.

D’oh! I forgot to order a pair of jeans 😦 I guess I will have to do some sewing after all.

Overall, I am pretty pleased. My most pleasant surprise was how much I enjoy the yellow-blue-and-white dress. I really like the teacher set as well. My biggest disappointment was the swimsuit. I might have still bought it even if I knew its downsides because I have something special in mind for it, but it feels the most flimsy out of all the items.

It seems to me that Barbie clothes and accessories are more affordable then they used to be – or perhaps I have learned to find better deals online – but the cost of a decent wardrobe starter is still high. Normally I would choose to spend the money on a new doll, but going for the outfits lets me skip the sewing part – which is a chore πŸ˜‰ – and get straight to the photography part – where the real fun is for me πŸ™‚ And that’s a good deal.

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™‚