Sunday, September 25, 2016

OVERVIEW: Disney's Descendants

My baby Carlos
As information about Descendants began to trickle out in spring 2015, I found myself irritated at the people who jumped to call it a ripoff of Ever After High. Do both properties use fairy tale characters? Yes, but so have dozens of other things. When the first book, a prequel of the movie, introduced us mostly to the children of Disney's villains, who were banished to the Isle of the Lost, it became very clear that this was nothing like Ever After High. The only thing in common is that both deal with the children of famous characters, a trend clearly sparked by Monster High's success. I loved the book, which was darker than I had expected, so I was anxious to have dolls of my fave villain kids, particularly Carlos, who remains my fave.

In late June, the dolls finally began hitting stores. Many collectors were curious, because Hasbro produced them and Hasbro wasn't exactly known for the best doll lines at that point.

A lot of the initial series of Descendants
The dolls were released in cases separated by their affiliation. Mal, daughter of Maleficent, and Evie, daughter of the Evil Queen from Snow White, shared the "Isle of the Lost" case, while the Auradon case was Lonnie, daughter of Mulan; Audrey, daughter of Sleeping Beauty; and Jane, daughter of Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. These were the basic signature dolls. Then there were the Coronation dolls, deluxe versions of the same girls in fancy ballgowns. Mal in her date dress was also offered in a 2-pack with Prince Ben, son of Beauty and the Beast, while Evie, in another dress of her creation, was paired with Carlos, son of Cruella. These were the only dolls released for quite awhile, leaving collectors and fans wondering about the fate of Jay, son of Jafar, who was clearly a main character.

Carlos with Signature Lonnie
Jay was not forgotten though. The Disney Store had him exclusively for the time being and his doll was sold separately, although not in what was considered his signature fashion. Carlos, also sold separately, had the same outfit as his 2-pack version, while Mal and Evie both sported new fashions from the movie. Later, Walmart produced a 4-pack of the villain kids, with the same Jay as the Disney Store, but new outfits for Mal, Evie and Carlos. Carlos sadly doesn't have much variety though. His 4-pack outfit was a pair of shorts and boots very similar to his signature outfit paired with a white T with black and red details. The final addition to the early Descendants line came in September and was a 2-pack of Mal and her mother, who you can see on the left in the group photo above, as a Toys R Us exclusive. Sadly, Mal, who was originally shown in the Disney Store exclusive outfit, actually only came in her signature outfit.

Mal and Evie's outfits from the Walmart 4-pack
Initially, the line had some problems. The dolls basically all looked the same, just in different clothing. The Coronation versions of the characters had different hairstyles, but the multiple versions of Mal and Evie looked like the same doll over and over. I hate buying repeat dolls and I need a strong motivation to do so. I skipped the 4-pack entirely, getting Mal and Evie's outfits off ebay eventually. Maleficent was enough to get my money, but I made some of it back by selling the extra Mal. The second big problem was poor quality hair. Mal's wasn't an issue, because it's so short and Lonnie's straight hair was also fine, but Jane, Audrey and Evie suffered from very dry frizzy hair that drew lots of complaints.

I was unsure how many of the future dolls I'd be buying, but as I watched the Wicked World animated shorts, they introduced three new characters I knew I'd have to get: Jordan, the daughter of Genie; Ally, the daughter of Alice; and Freddie, daughter of Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog.

Freddie: Genie Chic and Signature
Freddie and Ally became fast favorites and I was excited for their dolls. I even bought Freddie and Jordan deboxed from a Chinese seller, which I don't usually do. (And regret, because Freddie's missing her purse and one small accessory.) They arrived in January 2016, around the same time my Target got the first Genie Chic dolls in. Genie Chic featured Jordan, Audrey, Mal and Evie in genie-inspired outfits magically granted by Jordan in the webisodes. Freddie was a later addition to the line that I've only ever seen in Walmart.

Genie Chic Evie and Mal



Genie Chic was a rebirth of my Descendants enjoyment, because Hasbro had done something toy companies usually do not. They learned from a mistake. As well as the new girls, both Evie and Mal had lovely silky hair. I later added Audrey to my collection solely for her improved hair. (And okay, yeah, the outfit was cute.)

The Signature doll cases continued to be released with some updates. Freddie and a new Jay, actually in his Signature outfit this time, were added to the Isle of the Lost case, while Ben, sold separately for the first time in a rather...special...outfit, was added to the Auradon case.

Signature Ally




Ally wouldn't be added to the Auradon cases until later. I actually have yet to see her in stores, but she's available online. I bought mine from Entertainment Earth back in June. She's absolutely darling. I love all her little details. The outfits on these dolls really spare no detail.

The big line for the current toy season is Neon Lights Ball, which featured in a string of webisodes, showing the characters all dressed up in neon for a big party.

Jordan: Genie Chic and Neon Lights Ball






Neon Lights Ball really is a large line. There are four basic girls, two deluxe girls, a Walmart exclusive 4-pack and a Toys R Us exclusive 2-pack. Jane finally reappears in the basic line, now sporting adorable glasses and much better hair. I think she's the star of the line, because her outfit is just so 80s fab. Jordan gets her second doll in a look that's pretty good for her, but still not the best. Neither of her dolls really impress me. Freddie gets her third appearance with a pretty doll, although a new hairstyle would have been nice. The three Freddies are all gorgeous, but also quite similar. They have minor differences, but they're still all the same girl in pigtails. The fourth basic is Ally, who got the quickest multiple doll turnaround. Her Signature came out in June and Neon Lights Ball in July.

Neon Lights Ball Jane
The deluxe dolls are Mal and Evie. Of course. They light up, which is pretty cool, and their outfits are nice, but they come with a very hefty price tag of $29.99 each and I just do not see where that comes from. I'm waiting for them to hit clearance, because from what I can tell, none of them in my area have sold.

Now we get to the more problematic dolls. I don't have my own personal pictures of these, but I'll link to some under this article. Toys R Us recently came out with an exclusive 2-pack for this line, featuring Ben and Evie. While both dolls are pretty neat, I don't think this was a necessary set. Then we've got the very recently found Walmart exclusive 4-pack (what is it with Walmart and 4-packs?). This one makes me pretty angry. The four dolls are Jay, Carlos, Audrey and Freddie. Neither of the two boys even got Neon Lights outfits. Jay is just his Signature doll and Carlos is his same old shorts and boots but with a black tee this time. Freddie is missing literally the best pieces of her outfit: her spiky green necklace and black bracelet. She doesn't have her purse either. Audrey actually has her Neon Lights outfit, which is okay, but not good enough to get the price of a 4-pack out of me, even though that's the only way to buy her.

Neon Lights Ball Ally
So what's my big problem?

WHERE IS LONNIE? That's my problem.

Lonnie got two dolls in the initial line, but she hasn't shown up since, and she was the first one in the webisodes to wear neon. She was in the Neon Lights Ball episodes wearing the cutest outfit that I would have loved to have seen on a doll. I would have shelled out the 4-pack money if Lonnie was there. The Walmart exclusive should have been her and Audrey in a 2-pack. That might have sold. I don't think this new 4-pack will move at all. (If we even see it here, which we never did the first one.)

I'm very disappointed in Hasbro leaving Lonnie out. She got left out of Genie Chic and now she got left out of Neon Lights Ball, even though she was actually there in the animation in a doll-worthy outfit. (More worthy than Audrey's.)

Signature CJ Hook
To make matters worse, yet another new doll was found and it's...guess who. Another freakin' Evie. She does not need any more dolls when Lonnie has been left out this long! This Evie has four outfits, which are a combination of repeat pieces and uninspired new pieces. I'm not sure if this doll will be an exclusive or even if she'll make it to the US. I couldn't care less either way. Because where is my Lonnie?!

The only new doll I'm looking forward to is CJ Hook, daughter of Captain Hook. She looks pretty good and should be out soon.

After that, I wouldn't be surprised if we started getting dolls for Descendants 2, which will probably be a lot of the same characters all over again. There are several new ones that have been cast, but we'll see if they make it to doll form. While I am looking forward to floppy hair Carlos and hot bangs Mal, I think Descendants needs to make some changes or they're going to flop soon. The current new exclusives are severely lacking. They need to stop putting old dolls in multipacks, leaving off accessories on others, and improve drastically at balancing the number of dolls. We do not need that many Evies, especially because they all have the same boring hair. We did not need an Audrey only in a 4-pack. WE NEED LONNIE. Changes, Hasbro. Make them.

PHOTO CREDITS: All mine, except the CJ promo image. That's from Walmart.com.

RECOMMENDED SITES:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKu0WMbjqew/?taken-by=sinistertoyboxx
That's the Walmart 4-pack.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Disney-Descendants-BEN-EVIE-NEON-LIGHTS-BALL-EXCLUSIVE-2-PACK-DOLL-SET-/381786502226
The TRU 2-pack.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKMaXmVgoYY/
And the boring I Heart Fashion Evie.

OVERVIEW: Pinkie Cooper

Packaged outfit, Pinkie travel doll and basic Pepper doll
Pinkie Cooper was a very short-lived line that debuted in summer of 2013. I got to do a review of two of the dolls for the company, but I also purchased a third doll, two outfits and two pets from the line.

The line immediately encountered a misstep when some countries and stores got the version of the basic dolls that came with headbands, while others, like my Pepper in the photo here, did not have them. People do not like it when their version of a doll is missing something someone else's version of the same doll has. It's never a good idea. Never.

The dolls are quite small, but still could share clothing with a lot of other lines, like Monster High and Equestria Girls.

The line consists of three different characters, all the same breed of dog. The designer said he based them on his sister's Cocker Spaniel, which has the same name, but they look more like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. The coloring is Cavaliers absolutely.
Body details

The main character, Pinkie Cooper, has the lightest coloring, a blondeish tan. Ginger Jones has brown, and Pepper Parson is a black and tan. Pinkie's signature color was...you guessed it...pink. Pepper had blue and Ginger purple.

The bodies have limited articulation, which I think kept a lot of people from buying them (a practice I firmly disagree with). Personally, I think this tiny body loaded with joints would be a mess. There's something aesthetically pleasing about it as it is. I love the body blushing and the attention to detail on the little paw hands.

The main gimmick of the Pinkie Cooper line was switchable earstyles. The ears pop out and you can turn them around, because each side is a different color.

Pepper and Ginger in their fashion packs with their pets
The basic dolls came in simple yet pretty dresses and had a little purse. The outfit packs were far more detailed, and came with a dress, purse, ear accessory shoes and a new pair of ears. Pinkie herself got three deluxe travel dolls, which came with a different version of her pet and a different outfit and ears (obviously) for each location. The pets had a little throne and food bowl, plus a dress, bracelet (anklet?), leash and ear accessory. They were styled to match the fashion packs, as you can see to the left.

And that was it. The entire line was 3 basic dolls, 3 deluxe dolls, 3 outfit packs and 3 pets. It's a shame, because prototype photos were found of a resort line with swimsuits and pets and a more basic cabana line, and all of them were awesome. (I'll link them at the end of this.)

Staring at their predecessors: the Catwalk Kitties
So why did Pinkie Cooper fail? Was it the lack of articulation or the fact that they had very doggy heads? They're way cuter than Equestria Girls, but they don't have an enormous franchise and fanbase to ride. I think a lack of variety may have done them in. Instead of three of the same dog in different colors, they could have made three different breeds of dog with slightly different faces and heights. There are loads of dog breeds with long silky ears. And they could have had a cat friend or two as well, with pop-off brushable tails. Or maybe America just doesn't like anthro animal dolls. The Catwalk Kitties never did well, although honestly, I never saw them in stores, like a lot of Lanard products. The Kitties however have a distinct fan following amongst collectors who discovered them later on and their prices nowadays are yikes. I think a lot of it was the timing, too. Pinkie Cooper hit the shelves at the same time as Once Upon a Zombie and Fairy Tale High, all lines riding on the success of Monster High, but they all came when MH was still more popular. If Pinkie Cooper came out now, with MH being less popular, they may have succeeded.

They're great little dolls and I recommend picking them up.

PHOTO CREDITS: All mine.

RECOMMENDED SITES:

Resort line photo:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/88372380@N02/13577221893
Look at that Pepper and Ginger! And Pinkie's actually prettier than any Pinkie they released. SIGH.

Cabana Cool line photo:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/88372380@N02/13577510654
I think Pepper got the best outfit here. The others aren't super-flattering on the PC body.

Friday, September 23, 2016

OVERVIEW: Princess Magic Touch

Back of package
Princess Magic Touch is a line that didn't catch my attention in childhood at all. I don't remember how I got into them, but it was likely the Ghost of the Doll website or I may have picked one up at Saver's. Either way, I started collecting in 2009.

It took me a little while to get going on these, because they're not easy to find complete. The dolls have little tiny shoes and necklaces which are frequently missing from any dolls sold outside their packages. The panties also had a tendency to go missing.

Each doll came with a magic wand and an accessory that was activated by the magnets in each piece.

Candy
There were seven dolls in the line, but only five were produced.

Blonde, pink-wearing Princess Magic Touch came in both white and black versions. The other girls were all white with varying hair and eye colors.

Candy Magic Touch is the blonde in purple. I love her very solemn face. She was the one that got me into the line.

Twirl Magic Touch is the curly-haired blonde in blue. She's got the nice big smile that makes her stand out from my others.

Twirl


Fancy Magic Touch was the first one I got mint in package, so I got to see the shoes for the first time with her. She has light reddish-brown hair and is very pretty in peach.

Fancy
 The two other girls sadly did not get made. I have never seen either for sale or any photo of them beyond what's in the pamphlets accompanying the dolls.

Pamphlet showing Twinkle and Glitter







I really wish they'd made these two! Twinkle looks like she either has brown hair or an auburn darker than Fancy's. And Glitter would have been my favorite. Black hair in a purple dress? Yep, favorite. Plus, I love her flower accessory.

The line had a ton of playsets, but I never bought any of them. I got a few of the dolls loose and missing accessories, before I finally got Fancy mint in box, followed by Twirl. They remain the only two I have complete. Candy has her shoes, but she's missing her necklace. I'm content with that though and I have no plans on buying any more of these.

I enjoy them though. They're a very detailed small doll line and the solemn faces are really lovely.

PHOTO CREDITS: All mine.

OVERVIEW: Penny's Pony Club

Penny's Pony Club was one of those little toylines I was able to get a lot of in childhood, because they were cheap. I have 5 out of the 6 horse and rider sets, plus another set of two ponies that came with other stable-type accessories.

They were produced in 1987 by Fun Stop/The Just Group, and their design was based on the art of Normal Thelwell.

Outside the US, I believe the line was bigger. I don't remember much besides the 6 pony and rider sets, a couple gift sets, and a stable playset, but I've seen ones on ebay from sellers in Europe that I never saw in childhood.

The toys are pretty simple. They're fat ponies with girl figures permanently molded in horse-riding positions.


Each one came with a jump accessory, even though those ponies with their big bellies and stubby legs do not look like they'd make it over anything!

The line had absolutely no diversity. All of the girls are white with 3 blondes and 3 brunettes. The only one who was any different was Michelle, who apparently was some kind of giant, because she just towers over everything and she's very snooty about it. I never got her because she just didn't fit in. Normally, I'm all for the different characters, but...yeah, young me just couldn't logic out how she was so dang tall.

Random ponies and accessories from a gift set...I think











There was diversity where it mattered for me though, and that was in the horses. I remember tossing the girls aside and just playing with the horses most of the time. Dancer was my favorite, because he had a little bit longer legs and looked more graceful.

This was a cute little line that was very affordable and I had a lot of fun playing with them.

PHOTO CREDITS: All mine.

FRIDOLL FIVE #17

#17: Imitation and Flattery


1. What are your thoughts on "clones" and "knock-offs" of popular toys? (E.g. discount stores' imitation Bratz dolls, actual dolls that make molds using pre-existing dolls)

I call them fakies, because that's what the old pony collecting community called them and that was my first real experience with actively collecting them.

Personally, I love them. They can be a lot of fun and some of them are really great. Even if they're not, they're usually good for a giggle.


2. What do you think about e-bay auctions that use terms like "friend of" or "just like" as a euphemism for knock-offs? (Okay, technically speaking that's generally to get around legal issues related to knowingly selling knock-offs.)

I don't remember knowing much about this the first time I did these Fridoll Fives and I still don't now. This is just something I don't see.


3. Is it okay to customize a doll to look like a copy-righted character, or real-life person? Have you ever done so?

I have no custom skills, so I can't, but there's nothing wrong with it. That's the bread and butter of a lot of customizers.


4. Is it okay to customize a doll to look similar to a brand-name doll? Have you ever done so? (E.g., making your own big-headed doll, making your version of a collectible doll, re-rooting an old doll to look like a pristine vintage doll)

Again, I've not done it. I don't see anything wrong with it, unless you're trying to pass it off as something it isn't.


5. Is it okay to customize or commission an outfit or wig to look like a limited edition doll outfit?

Sure.

Friday, September 16, 2016

NEWS: Wellie Wishers

This is likely not news to most, but I wanted to post it anyway.

Wellie Wishers are at Toys R Us!

I first heard this a few weeks ago, that they were coming, but my store is a very low level store and I figured we wouldn't get them.

I was wrong. That's the real reason I'm posting. Even if you have a store in a less populated area, there's still a chance you could see these in your store. We have a huge display and everything, with loads of outfits and accessories.

My mom treated me to Camille and her accessories and Emerson and her dance outfit for an early birthday gift. Now that I've seen them in person and they're right at my fingertips, I plan on getting Kendall and Willa as soon as I can. They really are all so very cute!

FRIDOLL FIVE #16

#16: Do Clothes Make the Man?

1. Do your dolls have any defined style of fashion that they look good in, or that you like to dress them in? (You can discuss your dolls in general, or name specific dolls that have a "look".)

A lot of my dolls just wear their own clothes. The BEGoths are goth, the BJDs wear their stock clothing mostly, the character dolls wear their own outfits. I do have several I've cobbled together looks for, but there's a wide variety there.


2. Do you buy or make outfits so that they can be shared amongst your dolls, or do you buy/sew with one particular doll in mind?

I almost always buy for particular dolls these days, because I hardly redress anymore.


3. Do you tend to redress your dolls frequently, or do you have a favorite outfit that they tend to default to?

I used to do this all the time, but not anymore.


4. When not actively playing with your dolls, do you leave them dressed up? Leave them nude? Put them in something simple that won't stain their bodies (e.g. white underwear)?

I leave them dressed.


5. Imagine you've been given creative control of a line of dolly couture. (In other words: You come up with the ideas, and you don't necessarily have to do all the fiddly design and sewing.) What sort of fashions would your store have? Casual? Formal? Goth? Ren Faire? Costumes?

Historical. Definitely historical. I'd love to do a goth line, too, but there's more exposure for that than there is for really good historical fashion (you know, Ancient Egyptian outfits that aren't gold lame and such).