Tuesday, May 31, 2016

DC SUPERHERO GIRLS: Superhero High Episode Summary

Yes, this photo again, because it's cool.
As I said yesterday, this won't be a normal thing for this blog, but the Superhero High one-hour special is so important to the continuity of the DCSG line that I wanted to summarize it, so people who still haven't seen it can at least read it. As with all my summaries, it's not a straight-up summary. I can't help myself from doing little comments.

The opening has been expanded to include a lot of girls in the above photos. Now new characters get the cool bright color silhouette-style shots the main seven got before. Appearing now are: Starfire, Frost, Hawkgirl, Miss Martian, Catwoman, Lady Shiva, Cheetah and Star Sapphire. Yep, all the girls from the image above get these shots.

We open with Wonder Woman, Bumblebee, Poison Ivy, Beast Boy, Cheetah and Harley fighting Killer Croc. Supergirl's arrival seems imminent.

At the farm, Supergirl is rehearsing talking to Wondy. She packs quickly, pausing to toss a brochure from Korugar into the trash.

Back in Metropolis, the fight ends with Ivy's vines restraining Croc. Everyone returns to the school to await Supergirl.

The farm. Supergirl flies into the wall and falls down the stairs. Her "aunt" and "uncle" assure her that she'll like Superhero High as much as her cousin. Supergirl says of course Superman was a good student, because he had his whole life to get used to his powers, while she just got hers four weeks ago when she landed on Earth. She panics about her powers, sets the door on fire, then blows it off its hinges. Her aunt tells her the school will help her learn to control her powers. She flies off...into a flock of birds and cutely spits out a feather while waving goodbye.

At the school, everyone is excited about Supergirl's arrival except Barbara Gordon, who goes about work as usual. Her father drops in, seemingly just to tell the audience that this is her last week at the school. (I guess Gotham and Metropolis are pretty close together.) Cheetah drops off her phone to be fixed. Blah blah Gordon doesn't want "his Babsy" in as much danger as that phone. (Too bad.) He leaves and Cheetah is her typical rude self, referring to Barbara as a "nonny" for nonsuperpowered. Barbara gives her a phone she built as a loaner and Cheetah continues to be rude. Well, then go buy yourself a new phone, missy. Yeesh.

Supergirl arrives and everyone greets her. Lady Shiva gets her one line, saying "Nihao, Supergirl." (Nihao will always remind me of Shampoo.) Supergirl is distracted by Beast Boy and crashes into the cafeteria, going right through the wall. Principal Waller gives instructions, then leaves Vice Principal Grodd in charge. Harley grabs Supergirl and takes her to the dorms.

Wonder Woman is checking on the state of the school's amethyst. Waller goes to check on her, telling her that the amethyst is basically incredibly powerful and could amplify supervillain powers. Gee, I wonder if this is important information. She also tells Wondy to keep an eye on Supergirl, calling her a "one of a kind catch." Wonder Woman, having been called the same, is slighted. And who wouldn't be? Waller needs to stop using that phrase so much.

Harley's been hanging with Supergirl for six hours. Supergirl is trying to get online to talk to her family, so Harley says she'll call IT, which entails hanging out the window and bellowing for "Babs." Harley leaves when Barbara arrives, leaving her and Supergirl to bond. Barbara fixes the internet connection and tries to alleviate some of Supergirl's fears. Supergirl asks if there are any websites that can teach her to be super and Barbara takes her to the library. She introduces her to Granny Goodness, the head librarian, who gives Supergirl a bunch of books to read. Supergirl and Barbara head different ways, with Supergirl thinking she can find her way to the dorm. Nope. She accidentally breaks the handle on the locked door leading to the Boom Tubes, teleportation devices that can be accessed by Waller only. Waller takes Supergirl inside and shows her the tubes to different worlds, including Korugar and Florida. Apparently, there's a lot of supervillain activity there. Supergirl asks why the room is locked and Waller shows her the tube to Apokolips and explains that the heroes of the past almost lost the battle against Darkseid, so the room now remains accessible only to her. As the pair exit the room, Hawkgirl, Bumblebee and Flash run up. Waller tells them to take Supergirl to the dorms and as they're going, Bumblebee tells Supergirl about the recent suspicious activity. Then the Boom Tube alarm goes off again and Flash runs back to investigate, but the "perp" is gone. Supergirl hands them a green leaf and Hawkgirl takes it as evidence. Glowing eyes shine from the grate in the ceiling. Okay, these guys are the Junior Detectives and not one thought to check the grate right above their heads?

Harley and Supergirl are walking down the hall the next day. Supergirl bumps into Grodd, who isn't very nice, and Harley tells her when they're out of earshot that he used to be a supervillain. The bell goes off, bothering Supergirl's hearing.

In PE, it's strength test day. Wonder Woman easily lifts elephant Beast Boy. Then Supergirl has him turn into a giant dinosaur, which she easily lifts with one hand, then one finger and even flies with him, but then he gets wobbly and falls, but changes into a bird before he lands. Coach Wildcat tells Supergirl she needs to learn to control her powers or someone will get hurt.

At lunch, Supergirl is looking for a place to sit. She can hear what each table is saying. Lady Shiva did well in weaponomics, Cheetah seems to be complaining about Barbara, the detectives are talking about their case, and Wonder Woman is talking about Supergirl, but Supergirl misses the part where she says it wasn't her fault, because she didn't know how wobbly Beast Boy gets when he goes that big. Harley sees Supergirl and bellows for her. Supergirl says she has to study and zips off as Poison Ivy runs in and heads for the detectives. The plant is bamboo...which Grodd happens to be eating for lunch.

Later, Barbara sees Supergirl fly to the bell tower and goes to join her. She plays with the bats some and Supergirl is grossed out, but Barbara explains why bats are cool. Supergirl calls her Batgirl jokingly and then says she wishes she could be nonsuperpowered like her. Barbara assures her that she'll be fine with some practice and offers to help her, then there's a training montage where Supergirl runs through that flying course that Wonder Woman and Bumblebee did in the webisodes, as well as some other exercises. Barbara gets a wedgie during one sequence and Supergirl says "That's why superheroes wear spandex." Then she's seen with Katana, working on something.

Barbara returns Wondy's shield to her, saying she made some modifications. She also mentions that Supergirl could use a stronger sparring partner, but she's too intimidated to ask. All this time, Wonder Woman has thought Supergirl was trying to compete with her, but really she just wants to be like Wondy. So we've got another helper for the training.

Meanwhile, the alarm goes off and this time there are deep scratches on the Boom Tube door. The detectives think it might be Grodd, but Hawkgirl says there's not enough evidence. She goes to the library and Granny brings her a book, which she just happened to have marked in a certain place that makes Grodd look bad. They take this evidence to Waller, who meets with Grodd and revokes his security clearance while she investigates. He quits.

Barbara's last day has come and she says goodbye to Supergirl, giving her a blue and yellow communicator bracelet so they can stay in touch. (That's why the doll's bracelets don't match.) Supergirl gives Barbara her super suit.

The Save the Day alarm goes off and Supergirl checks in with Coach Wildcat. He tells her she's ready. Giganta is robbing the jewelry store and the same crew as the first fight is up against her, this time joined by Hawkgirl and Supergirl. Supergirl accidentally drops some cars Giganta has thrown, endangering the people. Beast Boy, Hawkgirl, Ivy and Harley get a lot of them out of the way. Bumblebee is distracting Giganta when Supergirl says she's got this. Cheetah, being a nasty piece of work, decides it's somehow a good idea to taunt Supergirl, startling her into misfiring her heat vision and hitting Bumblebee in the leg. A bunch of the girls run over and starting talking nonstop, freaking out Supergirl who yells at them and the force of it knocks them into buildings and such. Cheetah taunts her again. Really, what is she getting out of this? It's not like it's her winning these battles. It's the others that actually do more. So why taunt one of the most powerful people there? It's not like they were winning this battle or anything either, so they need all the help they can get. She's an idiot. You'd think she'd have learned after the end of the Season 1 webisodes, but no. I'm not sure if they're trying to indicate that she's always going to be a villain or if it's just poor writing. Supergirl decides they'd be safer without her and leaves.

Supergirl goes to the library to return her books. She tells Granny she's taking the next ship to Korugar and Granny says she can just take the Boom Tube. She tries to persuade Supergirl to use her strength to open the door. Suspicious. And she's got a giant green parademon pet that looks like the shadow seen in the hall when the alarm went off that first time. More suspicious. And of course Supergirl buys it because her weaknesses are kryptonite and her incredible naivete. She rips open the doors and the parademon destroys the alarm system. Granny locates Apokolips and the Female Furies come running through.
Big Barda. Why wasn't she the SDCC exclusive?
Granny sics Big Barda on Supergirl and she uses her wand thingy loaded up with kryptonite to blast her. Barda drops the kryptonite beside Supergirl and leaves with Granny and the others. They go to the library where the girls, except Barda, destroy some books and Granny gets a costume change. Granny has a box with spider legs that will attach to the amethyst and help her mind control the supers.

Barbara is eating and she sees footage of the Giganta fight on her phone. She uses her comm bracelet to contact Supergirl, who tells her she really messed up. Barbara runs to the Boom Tube room and tosses the kryptonite through the Florida Boom Tube.

Back at the Giganta fight, Ivy once again uses her vines to restrain the villain and Hawkgirl puts these giant handcuffs on her.

HARLEY: I knew those giant novelty handcuffs would come in handy.

Ha. Only Harley.

The heroes return to the school and everyone congratulates them. Wonder Woman asks where Supergirl is.

Outside, Granny takes control of the amethyst and amps up her own power and the Furies', They storm Waller's office and Granny uses her mind control on the principal. She thanks her for falling for her plot to frame Grodd. She needed him gone because they never learned how to control gorilla minds. Then she takes over the minds of all the supers.

In Barbara's "cave" on the school campus, she's created a "detrancer" and needs a crystal to conduct the energy. Supergirl hands over her "good luck charm," the necklace she wears. Barbara attaches the crystal and tells Supergirl how to use it. Then she gives her a pair of earrings that are frequency shields that will protect her from the trance. But Supergirl's not having it. She takes off one of the earrings and puts it on Barbara, declaring that she's coming with her. She knows Barbara is super in her mind and heart, even if she lacks specific superpowers. So Batgirl suits up for the first time and says "I'm Batgirl" in this gritty voice, then coughs, says she had a frog in her throat, shrugs cutely, and says "I'm Batgirl!"

In the office, Granny directs Barda, Stompa and Artemis outside, leaving Mad Harriet and Speed Queen inside. Barda doesn't respond right away, interested in the painting on the wall. She asks if the students get to make beautiful things here and Granny says yes and it's made them weak.
Stompa, Mad Harriet, Speed Queen and Artemis

Outside, the three stand guard. Batgirl's plan is to plug the detrancer into the amethyst, to get everyone at once. They don't have time to get them one by one. Supergirl distracts the Furies, while Batgirl zips up the tower, passing by Grodd's window as he's packing. Granny should have waited like another day, because needing him out of the way didn't really work if he's still on campus. Stompa stomps the ground, but Batgirl's still hanging on. Artemis fires on her and Grodd leaps out the window to take the arrow in the shoulder and then hit the ground. He's pretty tough though, so he'll be okay. Batgirl does her stuff and the supers return to normal. Granny gives the Furies the order to attack and the battle is on. I love how Harley just jumps on Speed Queen and Lady Shiva's hair skills are pretty awesome. Artemis takes on Wonder Woman and is quickly defeated. Mad Harriet goes after Cheetah, who's saved by Barbara's phone tech. She shuts the green-haired girl into a locker. Ivy is running from Stompa, who makes the mistake of stomping on her grass, so Ivy for the third time, binds someone in plants. Barda is chasing Supergirl, who leads her through the flight training course. She makes it out only to be trapped by Batgirl. Wonder Woman joins Batgirl and Supergirl and the three confront Granny. She sics the parademon on them, Wondy lassoes him and knocks him into the ground, causing him to split into a ton of little demons and attack. Well, sort of attack. Both Wondy and Supergirl try to stop Granny and are knocked down. Granny threatens them with a Granny Grenade, which could take out the entire school. Batgirl distracts her, while Supergirl uses the flagpole to play a little Granny baseball. Then she twists it around a tree to bind Granny, while the grenade rolls off. Wonder Woman catches it and says it's going to blow, so Supergirl grabs it and flies it into the air high above the school. It detonates and she flies back down, slightly rumpled.

Later, the Furies and a cage of parademons are off to prison. Barda manages to sneak a Superhero High brochure along with her. (I hope to see her in the future. I like her. Now she would have made an ideal SDCC doll. A slightly more obscure character that's still a villain in continuity, not one that a bunch of young girls are waiting for.) Grodd comes into the Boom Tube room and tosses the lot of them through the tube to Belle Reve detention center. Batgirl runs up and hugs him, saying he saved her. He awkwardly pats her on the head. The group exits the room to a cheering crowd and Flash apologizes to Grodd, who growls at them and says they're in detention for the rest of the year, then adds that it was a joke. Cheetah thanks Batgirl, saying that her tech saved her. She even calls her Barbara instead of Nonny. I was glad to see this moment, but where is Cheetah apologizing to Supergirl? Sigh. Batgirl walks away to answer her phone, asking her dad if the spaghetti is ready. The poor janitor looks at the mess and groans.

At an assembly, Waller thanks Supergirl for her role in their victory, and says they have taken Wonder Woman's recommendation and are accepting Batgirl as the newest super student.

The end! Hope that helps anyone that hasn't seen it. It's not the same as watching it, but at least you know what happened now.

PHOTO CREDITS: The lineup shot is a screencap I took from a video on DCSG's Instagram. The other two are screencaps from a commercial for the special.

OVERVIEW: DC Superhero Girls

The main seven, Sort of. Not really. 
 I'll answer two questions you're asking right off the bat.

1) Superhero is one word. I don't know why Mattel felt it necessary to split the word into two, but it is one and I will always consider it one. So DCSG is my abbreviation for this line, not DCSHG.

2) This is a very young line, too young for an overview really, but I want to do an episode summary for the hour-long special that a lot of people didn't get to see, so I figured I'd do the overview now and the summary tomorrow. So this will be short, but there will at least be some groundwork before I launch into the summary. Summaries will not be a typical thing for this blog, but this episode holds a lot of important details.

What made people think they should sell these?
I'm a big comics fan, although not huge into DC. I loved Wonder Woman growing up and the 1990s Batman cartoon was one of my favorite shows at the time. Harley is my favorite because of that show. So when I heard there was going to be a doll line based on a high school full of superheroes, I was totally sold. I mean, a Marvel high school would have had me WAY more excited, but this is still awesome. Make superheroes more accessible to little girls, because superheroines are just as excellent as the male heroes. Make little girls feel like they're allowed to like superhero stuff, too, and they can grow up reading comics and maybe someday we'll feel more welcome in comic book stores. That'd be nice.

Target was gifted the early launch of the line. As you can see on the case, it was supposed to go out February 28th, 2016. Guess what happened? People found the DPCI codes, saw the cases were in the back and started asking employees to get them. And employees actually did it. Some people were only allowed one doll, some people didn't get management approval to sell and left with nothing, other people miraculously got EVERYTHING. I worked in Toys R Us. Had this happened in my store, these cases would not have left the back room. If by some odd chance, you got an employee that was a season leftover that didn't care, the items would have been flagged and would not have been able to be rung up. It's a good-sized fine that the store gets slapped with if one of those flags is overridden. But did Target have the brains to do this? No. So all over the country, some people were getting dolls and some people were just getting fed up. I was angry at my store, not for the refusal to sell, but for the reasoning behind it. My store has a manager that hates adult toy collectors and apparently thinks only children should buy toys. You can guess what I think of that. So I left Target after being made to feel like a second-class citizen, shot off an email to corporate about the treatment (which made me feel better, but I'm sure changed nothing), and then bought this case on ebay. I got them not too much over cost.
Harley Quinn
Each case has three dolls. One contains Harley, Ivy and Bumblebee, and the other has Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl. The Harley case got better distribution than the Wondy case, so it was easier to get dolls from that case. One of my very fantastic friends was able to get me Wonder Woman and I actually got all four dolls in the mail on the same day.

It was love at first deboxing. Well, I did not love the packaging, but I did love the dolls. The boxes are incredibly difficult to open and I give kudos to anyone who manages to do it without either cutting themselves or destroying the box. I destroyed every one.

Harley being my favorite got opened first. A lot of people complained about her red and black legs, but it really makes her easier to redress. My only real issue with her is that she doesn't look as much like the cartoon design as her action figure does.
Harley's action figure

Ivy was next to be opened and she's beautiful, but her little vines on her hand crushed her fingers together. I hate when accessories packaged on toys ruin them in some way. However, I left them on her hand and I just noticed a couple weeks ago that her fingers have straightened out. Healing vines, Ivy?

Bumblebee is also adorable. I think she's got a really neat outfit, and I love her hair.

Poison Ivy

Wonder Woman was the last one I deboxed that day and she really blew me away. The craftmanship on her is pretty awesome. I love that they included a little place on her belt to attach her lasso.

After seeing these girls in person finally, I knew I had to get more, but by that point, Target had cracked down (FINALLY) and stopped selling the toys. I was able to get Supergirl on ebay, but Batgirl would have to wait. Which was fine with me, since I liked her least anyway.

Wonder Woman

Supergirl was a big surprise to me when she arrived, because I never expected to love her like I do. She's just darling.

Then it was just a matter of waiting, because we all knew all the toys would be available on the 28th. I happened to be awake around 2am that day and was there on the Target website when they started to appear. I grabbed all six action figures plus the Batgirl doll, because I didn't think I'd have time to go over to Target that morning and get anything. As it turned out, I did have time and my store actually did put the stuff out, so I got my Batgirl, plus the Harley and Ivy figures.


The action figures on the whole are pretty disappointing. I don't think a lot of them are very attractive and I even regret spending the $10 on Ivy. Harley is the only good one, in my opinion. When my online order came in, I returned everything, even given the longer chance to examine all the figures, none of them were worth keeping, in my opinion.

So we had the toys finally and the webisodes were fun. I did wonder where Supergirl and Batgirl were. Batgirl's character was there, but not a student at the school yet. I wondered why Katana hardly got any characterization and why her doll was left out of the lineup, when she was clearly in all the advertising for the original batch of main characters.

Well, as it turned out, Batgirl wouldn't "get her cape on" until the hour-long special I'm going to summarize for you all tomorrow, and Supergirl would only join the cast then, too. A bit frustrating when those doll spots could have gone to more often seen characters like Cheetah and Katana. (Not that Katana was a real presence, but she was there more than the two that got dolls instead.) But then the line technically hasn't fully released yet. Even though we've had it for three months, the line will only just be going into other stores I think in June or July. So by those standards, all six characters with dolls have been introduced.

The DC Superhero Girls were featured on Free Comic Book Day this year with a pretty awesome comic that teases the upcoming graphic novel. The guy at my store told me the store owner didn't get a ton of them in and they all flew off the table.

The first novel for DCSG came out on March 1st. I reviewed it in my book review blog: http://redblackandwhitebookreviews.blogspot.com/2016/03/dc-superhero-girls-1.html
July 5th will bring us the second book in the series, featuring Supergirl, as well as the first graphic novel. The second graphic novel comes on November 8th and then Batgirl gets the third novel on January 3, 2017.

The line made a pretty big misstep by not having Target be more strict about selling dolls early. Then on March 19th, it made its second major mistake. They aired an hour-long animated special on Boomerang, which is a spinoff of Cartoon Network. A spinoff, by the way, that a LOT of people have no access to. I became pretty disillusioned with the line at this point, knowing the special was going to introduce Supergirl, something I felt was very important for ALL fans to have access to. I don't know who made the decision to put it on that stupid channel, but the impression it gave was that female heroes weren't good enough for the main channel, which is a bunch of bull. Today, they finally re-aired the special, now on Cartoon Network, where it should have been from the get go.

So we've got dolls that aren't the easiest to get, plus an important special that a lot of people cannot see. What do you think they did next? It was revealed recently that KATANA would be the exclusive doll offered at San Diego Comic Convention this year. Katana, the only core character not offered in the first lineup. Katana, the main Asian character, who should be accessible for everyone, not just the people with enough money to go to these things. SDCC exclusives are supposed to be items that are either variations on existing characters that are accessible in other forms or characters that are more obscure and appeal more to the older fanbase. They are NOT supposed to be core characters that haven't even been offered in the main line yet.

The line is not even fully released yet and they've already made three big mistakes. Yet I cannot help but love the line and I'm going to stick with it, although I think it will be quite the rollercoaster ride of frustrations if these first few months are any indication. We're going to have some awesome dolls and some great cartoons, but likely a lot of bad decisions to suffer through because the people in charge don't seem like the brightest bunch.

I'm going to end with a teaser picture taken from the hour-long special. In the past, we've only seen the main seven characters in the opening. Well, the special had an expanded opening sequence and this is the new lineup image:

These are the characters I think we can look forward to for the first few lines of DC Superhero Girls: Frost, Cheetah, Starfire, Hawkgirl, Katana, Bumblebee, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Miss Martian, Star Sapphire, Catwoman, and Lady Shiva.

Dolly gods help me, I'm in.

PHOTO CREDITS: Toy images are my own. The intro picture is from the DCSG Instagram. The final lineup shot is a screencap I took from a short video posted on the DCSG Instagram.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

OVERVIEW: American Girl

Ivy when I first brought her home.
 American Girl is a pretty big topic, but thankfully, I've written about it before in my VVD Livejournal, so I've got the framework already and don't have to go crazy digging up info.

I loved AG from the moment it came out, but expensive dolls weren't something my family could afford. So my first AG was an original Molly that I'm pretty sure was purchased by my grandmother. I had her, the dog and her green Christmas dress, but I thought Samantha was pretty well-dressed and got her burgundy Christmas dress and nightgown for Molly, too. I had no trouble deciding on Molly out of the original trio. I never liked blondes as much and Kirsten's hair looked not fun, so she was a no and I loved that Molly wore glasses like I did, so she was it, although Samantha was pretty. Samantha was like the It Doll. Everyone I knew that had an AG had Sam. I played with Molly some, but never bonded with her, as I preferred dolls I could play with without fear of ruining the expensive doll. I ended up selling my entire childhood collection to get some extra money before moving to NYC for my second grad program.

Felicity and Nellie

One thing I did always keep up with though was the books. I read a lot of them from the library, but eventually got them all used on ebay, I think. I had all the boxed sets, except only 1-3 of Josefina's for some reason. Then I got all the collected hardcover editions and ended up selling my boxed sets last year or so. I finally realized that I didn't need the boxed collections anymore, as long as I had the hardcovers. I have all the historical AG books, the short stories, the mysteries, all of it. I've been slowly rereading and reviewing them all on my book blog:

Julie at American Girl Place in New York City
When I got to NYC, I still had a healthy love for AG. I would get the catalogs periodically over the years and had watched all the new characters come out. I loved a lot of the dolls, but not enough to buy another one, because they never quite captured the characters for me. A lot of the dolls look much younger than their 9-11 book ages.

In 2007, the first year I was in the city, I decided to visit American Girl Place. I wanted to see all the dolls in person and look at the displays. Julie was out at that point and I wanted to see if there was a mini Ivy doll yet, even though I was pretty sure there wasn't. Well, I went in and my breath was taken away. The store is gorgeous and has amazing displays. A lot of them are practically like museum displays. I asked about the Ivy mini, was told there were no plans for one that they knew of, and ended up going home with 18" Ivy. I quickly sold off her ugly Meet outfit and put her in the pretty blue pajamas she wears in that first picture up there. I love my Ivy doll, but she's not one of the big personalities in my group.

Samantha in modern clothes
In February 2008, I was back at AGPNY again with plans to buy two dolls, since I had done well with sales. I knew Nellie would be one of them, but I debated quite awhile on the second until I finally chose Felicity. Lissie is one of my fave characters, so she was a good choice. Sadly, they were sold out of her blue Christmas gown, so she got one of Elizabeth's outfits instead, which suits her better than Elizabeth, I think. Nellie had some lavender PJs and eventually got Elizabeth's blue tea gown. All of these items would eventually be sold off. I hung onto Lissie the longest and she's the only one I really regret selling. Someday I'll get another Felicity.

A month later, I went to AGP again and bought Samantha this time. Whenever I reread Sam's books, I want Sam's doll. Amusingly in the entry when I first got her, I praise her hair. It is nice and curly, but eventually how far back it sits got to me. Sam got stuck in this modern outfit, because I didn't care for hers and Elizabeth's tea gown, bought at the same time, suited Nellie better. Sam stayed in this the entire time I had her, which wasn't too long. Nellie and Sam were both gone by summer, because by then I'd gotten into Karito Kids and needed money to support that habit. Only Ivy and Felicity made the move from Brooklyn to Greenwich when I had to quickly relocate for my school job during the summer. (I got promoted a little early.)
Roslin (#30)
The Karito Kids took over my collecting life until October. I think I'd gotten all 6 of them by then. (I'm still mad that line ended so early, but that's another topic.) I asked around for suggestions on who to buy next and someone suggested #30, because she has the Ivy face but with longer hair. Well, that person (or persons) is a winner, because Roslin was exactly what I needed. She remains my favorite to this day. She inherited the black shirt from Samantha, paired with new capri pants and calf-high pewter-colored boots. She's also my AG mini me, although obviously not looks-wise. She likes monsters and small toys and 80s fantasy movies. And she's Ivy's older cousin.

In early January, I brought Chrissa home. She was my first Girl of the Year. I loved her movie, so I got the doll, but we did not bond. After her and Nellie, I was a bit wary of the Josefina mold on white dolls, because I didn't seem capable of bonding with them.

Roslin, being the strong personality she is, started having a say in which dolls I brought home. This little picfic from 2009 is pretty indicative of her personality:
Yes, Chrissa was already gone in March. We really did not bond.

Molly #2
If you read that picfic, you already know who came next: Molly. Yeah, I missed Molly. A lot of people make fun of her character now, but she was my childhood favorite. The Mattel Molly is also way cuter than my poor childhood one was. My Molly is pretty much book Molly with less concerns, although her button is Samantha. She knows how much more popular Sam was when the first three originally came out. She knows and she does not like it. Although I did have fun with this when she found out I was planning on adding a Samantha to the collection and I got to tell Molly Sam had been archived. She was satisfied enough to allow her into the apartment. (I really did a lot of these photo conversations with my dolls back then.)

In April, entirely on a whim, I stopped at AGP on the way home from my internship and brought Kirsten home. I don't know why. I just decided I wanted her. It took me awhile to find something I liked on her (this random ebay outfit in the picture) and it took me little time to risk playing with her hair. Bad idea. Her hair is in an adorable style, but I suck at hair, so playing with it was a bad idea. I didn't bond with her, mostly because of the hair thing, and by June, she was sold.

SamNotSam (#16)

Around the same time as Kirsten, there was another new girl. I decided #16 would make a great Samantha, because she had the hair I preferred for the character. As luck would have it, a friend had her and she sold her to me. I got this fabulous knockoff outfit and totally anachronistic shoes on ebay and this is how she's looked ever since early 2009. She's far from my favorite (she actually ranks close to the bottom in my list of faves), but Sam is a very endearing character and every time I read her books, I want her doll, so this solves the problem. She's not going anywhere.

My beloved Julie

In June 2009, I finally bought Julie. If you look way back near the top of this entry, you'll see a photo I took at AGPNY of Julie back in 2008. That was how long it took me to think her over. I always thought she was lovely, but someone else was always the one brought home. Well, Julie finally made it home and she's been my #2 favorite after Ros ever since. She's had a few outfits, but Cecile's red number is what she's been in for ages now. Julie has broken the curse of the No White Girls with the Josefina Mold and I stopped being afraid to buy new ones after bonding so thoroughly with her.

Marie-Grace the incredibly beautiful

I liked the look of a lot of Marie-Grace and Cecile's collection and in November 2011, ended up with M-G, her green dress, Cecile's red dress and Cecile's purple and gold outfit (Roslin wore that for a long time). Marie-Grace has an absolutely stunning headmold that I wish they would use more often. Stop giving everyone the Josefina mold and give us more M-G!

Girl of the Year 2015 Grace

I've never been a huge fan of the Girl of the Year line. Chrissa sure didn't stay long and by the time I got into AG, both the ones I liked best (Jess and Lindsay) were more than I wanted to pay. But when Grace came out in 2015, she was so beautiful that I bought my first AG doll since Marie-Grace in 2011. She's not my favorite character books-wise and I honestly haven't even finished the 3rd one yet, but she is a gorgeous doll and that's saying something, because there were plenty of characters I liked in the books that I never bought the doll for.

BeForever Kit

I am one of the people who doesn't mind the BeForever changes, because they really did some of the characters justice. Kit instantly went on my want list and she came home in March 2015. I always thought the doll was cute, but her outfit...ugh. This new dress is one of my fave AG outfits ever. The colors. The print. The SHOES. I love it. I love her. I even bought her accessories solely to get that bracelet.

BeForever Josefina
After wanting her for years and never getting her, Josefina finally made it into my collection, also in her new BeForever form. I love the colors of this new outfit far more than her original Meet outfit. Josefina's been one of my favorite characters since she came out and her doll is very sweet. I admit, I haven't really bonded with her, because I want her hair to lay better, but I don't want to take out the braid and mess up the flowers. I adjusted it a bit since I took this photo last year, and we've bonded a little more now. Even if we never fully bond, she's not getting sold.

BeForever Rebecca
Like Kit, Rebecca's outfit got a massive BeForever upgrade. The purple is so much nicer than the burgundy coat thing! She was added to the collection in October 2015.

I currently have no plans for more AGs. There are no new ones I'm after. I may eventually want another Felicity, so I'd have to hit ebay for that, and I might want a Kaya, since she's been on my want list for ages, but I've learned that I don't like BeForever Kaya, so I'll need to find an earlier version that I prefer. Melody is cute and I think she'll have some great outfits, but I will never like the Sonali mold. I've seen it in person multiple times and I just do not care for it. Lea is beautiful, but not an addition I truly need. Maybe some of her clothes though someday. I do love the bright colors. And I need to finish her books! I've only read the first one so far.

Holiday Addy, Caroline, Holiday Josefina, Holiday Felicity mini dolls

I should add that I have a small collection of the mini dolls, too. I bought the original versions of Addy, Samantha and Josefina when they were on super clearance many years ago. Addy is the only one I never sold. I bought Caroline when she came out. Then I started picking up the holiday dress minis of some of the characters I didn't have in large doll form: Felicity, Josefina and Addy. I bought a rose print dress Felicity off ebay, because I happened to see a very cute one. I have a regular outfit Julie with no shoes that I found at Savers years ago, and I bought Ivy when she came out.

American Girl is something that's been special to me for most of my life and it probably always will be special, even though I go through big breaks in between periods of collecting the dolls. Right now I'm more looking forward to the Wellie Wishers, but I will always look forward to new stuff from AG, even if I do pay more attention to other lines.


Friday, May 27, 2016

OVERVIEW: Barbie From Collector Dolls to Current

Goddesses of Spring, Wisdom and Beauty
My Barbie collecting turned to the collector dolls in 2000 when the Princesses of the World collection began. I loved the detailing on the dolls and how they actually included ancient cultures. But first, I want to talk about my favorites.

I do not remember how I found out about the three Greek goddesses that were more expensive, but I did and I wanted them, of course. But at $79 each, that wasn't going to happen. Beauty was the first in January 2000, followed by Spring in November and Wisdom in January 2001. I can't remember when I got them, but I managed to get all three at once for a very fair price. They remain some of my favorite Barbies ever and their level of detail is just amazing.

Princess of the Incas, the French Court, India, the Renaissance, China, Greece and the Nile
But back to the Princesses of the World. I quickly got the Princess of the Incas and India. India came out in December 2000 and Incas in January 2001, but I'm pretty sure I got both at the same time. I liked French Court, who came out with India, but never got her off the shelves. I ended up finding her at an antique mall in 2010 and bought her for less than original retail. Incas and India will always be my faves from this line. They're both stunning. China came out in November 2001 and I got her, followed by the Princess of the Nile in December. I do love Nile. Most of her is stunning. But I hate that the Greek goddess dolls and Princess of the Incas got the cute wrapped sandals while Nile has...open-toed golden high heels. I will never understand how companies dress Egyptian dolls. It just blows my mind.
Anyway, Princess of Ireland came out with China and she almost got bought several times, but has yet to join my collection. I picked up Portuguese Empire in 2002, Japan in 2003 and Navajo in 2004, but all have since been sold. England almost got bought in 2003, but my friend got her instead and I never picked one up for myself. Maybe I will soon. I loved the designs for Russia and Ancient Mexico, but both had headdresses that squished their poor heads and I didn't like that. The Princess of Ancient Greece came out in 2003 and she's remained with my collection, despite being completely overshadowed by the goddess dolls. I believe I got the princess first actually and I think I may have picked up the goddesses during my first graduate program, so anywhere from 2003-2005. The Princess of the Renaissance was my final doll from this collection back when they were on the shelves. I had switched my attention at that point to My Scene, so I didn't get any of the last few princesses that I actually liked.
Festivals of the World Kwanzaa
Before I get into My Scene, I'm going to continue on with Dolls of the World and finish up that topic. The next series after the princesses was Festivals of the World, beginning in late 2005. I bought Chinese New Year, Diwali and Oktoberfest. Both Chinese New Year and Diwali were sold eventually, because I preferred the princess dolls from China and India. Oktoberfest I still have and Kwanzaa I picked up later on and she's my favorite from the set.

The Dolls of the World have always continued in Barbie world and they switched back to regular country dolls in 2007. I didn't care for many of them though, preferring my older 80s ones or the princesses. I did get Amazonia in 2009, but ended up selling her. I picked up the 1999 Moroccan doll from an antique mall in 2013 shortly before we moved and she was what sparked me finally collecting all the 80s ones I had wanted all these years. The last DotW I purchased was the 2013 version of Morocco from Tuesday Morning in December 2013.
Barbies from Morocco. 2013 and 1999.

So that takes us back to the early 2000s when My Scene came out. I had started collecting Bratz in 2002 with XPress It Meygan and I was very open to the My Scene line and more cool big-headed, big-eyed dolls on my shelves. I believe I had a subscription to Barbie Bazaar magazine at that point and that's where I first saw the gorgeous Madison. I remember buying her in KMart one day and Chelsea and Barbie quickly followed. As did many, many other dolls! I would buy entire lines of My Scene, which was something new for me. I was buying Bratz, but one or two characters, not entire lines. (Not yet anyway and not often as it would turn out.)
Nolee: Spring Break and Back to School
But My Scene? I loved the dolls and the webisodes made the characters come to life, so I even often wanted Barbie, who was my least fave of the doll designs.

My initial favorite was Nolee. That first Spring Break Nolee got a lot of the best outfits, finally ending up in a long black Barbie coat that reminded me of one of my favorite coats at the time. Back to School Nolee with the adorable buns got the best of the fashion packs. These two still grace my shelves looking exactly like they have for years, as they do in the picture to the left.

The Hangin' Out line introduced the girl who would become my favorite character. Oddly enough, she was blonde. I hardly ever like the blonde best, but Delancey was something special. She had a cute name and I loved her character in the show. Her dolls were gorgeous and a bit edgier than what you typically saw on playline shelves in those days.

Hangin' Out Delancey and Teen Tees Nolee

My Scene continued along happily until they started making some changes I didn't like. Barbie's character moved away and was replaced by Kennedy...who just happened to look exactly like Barbie. Nolee would eventually disappear and right as she did, Delancey's hair color switched from pale blonde to dark. Kenzie, the adorable redhead, was not used enough. Lindsay Lohan randomly got to appear in an animated MS movie...and even got a doll. The dolls went from cute to much more sultry. Overall, things just got a bit odd.
Karaoke Divas
I don't remember the exact year, because I was collecting so many things by that point, but eventually, My Scene was no longer sold in the US. I remember being very angry I couldn't find any of the Street Style dolls in my stores, because that line was quite edgy and I wanted them all. It took me years to get all four. I had Nolee right away and Madison in 2007 or so. Barbie (she was still Barbie then) was in my collection by 2010. Unfortunately, I haven't been very good at documenting MS stuff photo-wise, since a lot of it happened before I started taking pics of my collection so much. I have no record of when I got Chelsea, but I do know that I first bought a nude one from Australia and had her for a few years, then finally found a complete one. Possibly even after I moved down here, so it took some time.

Golden Bling Chelsea

Naturally, the dolls becoming import-only items meant that they started releasing amazing lines like Karaoke Divas, Golden Bling with its Egyptian theme, Pop Diva and Bling Nights. Plus, they introduced a Latina character named Nia and her dolls were usually gorgeous. I made a contact in Mexico that I bought many dolls from in 2009. I managed to get the entire Karaoke Divas and Golden Bling collections, plus a few others that I eventually sold off. I still have the Golden Bling girls, because they have somewhat of an Egyptian theme, plus Karaoke Divas Delancey and Cabana Beach Chelsea.

Randomly, some Big Lots and other stores got a handful of the newer lines, although not the best ones.

My Scene is still beloved by many and I really wish the entire line had been available here. I eventually lost interest in it because importing was both too expensive and frustrating.
The custom My Scene I bought off ebay. I've named her Kyrie.

I don't typically buy custom dolls, but I did love one enough to pay for her. Kyrie is a custom My Scene Barbie and she's been hanging out with my goth dolls for years now.

The Flavas came out not long after My Scene to help Mattel compete with Bratz, but they did not fare well. The line was ethnically diverse and actually featured multiple body types, which was unusual at the time. I don't think it had been done since Generation Girl.
Flavas: Two versions of PBo and then shorter-bodied Tika.
Each line had the characters looking drastically different from the time before.

I didn't pay any attention to the line when it first came out, being too heavily into Bratz and My Scene. But I randomly started picking them up when I was in grad school from 2007-2009. PBo is my favorite of the group with the two dolls shown to the right being my favorites from the entire line. I loved the more cartoony faces and the wide variety of looks, but the dolls pretty much flopped. They only lasted a year with the final line, which is called both Flavas Awards and Flavas Choice Awards, being quite hard to find. A definite shame, because I would have bought several of those.

So in Style Trichelle, Kara and Chandra

Since 2009, I haven't been that into Barbie. I bought a few of the So in Style dolls, but the ones I liked I didn't often see in stores or I'd have one chance to buy and be getting something else instead. I did manage to get my three favorites though, pictured to the left. I picked up a few of the fairy lines and random fashion dolls here and there. The Fashion Fever series sold in the tubes was pretty good, particularly the Drew dolls, but not many have stayed in my collection. I think maybe I have one Lea left?

My Favorite Barbie TnT

I did enjoy the My Favorite Barbie series, which reproduced older dolls. I finally got a TnT Barbie! I've always liked that face, but not wanted to commit to the price it would take to get a decent quality doll. I picked up the Barbie and the Rockers doll and then didn't debox her for years. And I got Black Barbie, which was one of the dolls I always liked from my precious value guide that I mentioned in the first half of this post. I was happy to get the doll I liked without having to worry about her having sticky legs or gooey hair.

The Stardolls were an odd little line, but gave me the two awesome dolls to the left here, so no complaints. They have some of the least movement I've ever seen on a doll, so I stuck with only the ones I really loved and didn't collect the whole line.

Life in the Dreamhouse Raquelle
The Life in the Dreamhouse dolls were the next bigger line I liked from Barbie. The show itself is hilarious, although I've gotten woefully behind. I do wish the dolls had done better though, because they turned right back into the same old headmolds fashion dolls they were before right after the more cartoony ones came out. But I'm happy with my Raquelle, Midge, Summer and Teresa anyway.

Nichelle, Shani and Asha

One of the lines I never collected when they first came out was Shani. I rectified that by picking up all three of the original girls last October. They're all awesome! I might get more eventually.

"LA Girl" Fashionista
                                Fashionistas have been the big Barbie thing for a bit now. I wasn't that excited about them until this girl with the gorgeous brown eyes and half-shaved head came out. I have her thanks to one of my awesome friends, because I still have not seen her in stores. I hope that gives Mattel some hints as to what dolls people like, because she was a total hit and I want to see more edgy dolls like this from them on the regular old playline shelves. Although her outfit left a lot to be desired. She got to keep the skirt, but I have her an Azone tank and some random jewelry from my stash. The sandals she's wearing are upgrades, too, although her original shoes were pretty cute.
Tall and Curvy Fashionistas

The Fashionistas this year have managed to do something unprecedented in Barbie history. They have given us not one, but three new body types. The Curvy dolls are bigger than any regular fashion doll I've ever seen. The tall dolls are taller with a rather boxy torso that doesn't always get flattered in the clothing they're given. The petite doll I don't have an example of yet, so I can't comment on it, but I will be getting one. The main problem with these girls is that they can't move. I love that they're putting these new types out there, but a lot of people won't be satisfied until they're articulated. I like them as is, but I definitely agree that articulation would be an added bonus, mostly because some of those arm positions do not work well for redressing. The one arm stuck straight down, other arm cocked dolls are not very easy to dress.

So that's about the extent of my history with Barbie. Started strong, stayed steady and then slowly declined. I like some of the collector dolls now, but not nearly enough to pay $100 apiece. A lot of the ones I'm interested in never show up in stores, because Toys R Us has a very limited collector section now. It used to be half an aisle years ago, but now it's a tiny shelf with the same dolls it's had for the past couple years and nothing new except when the annual holiday doll comes in. I'm looking forward to seeing where Fashionistas are going, but that alone isn't going to get me to really love Barbie again. Give me a new version of Generation Girl with the fleshed out, diverse characters this time made even more diverse by the new body types and I'm in. I'm waiting on you, Mattel.



Unknown, Ashlyn, Emerson, Unknown and Willa
American Girl will be unveiling a new doll line, possibly as early as this summer! While we don't know too much yet, I'm very excited for these girls.

I haven't spoken on American Girl yet, though I likely will soon. I need to tackle the second half of my Barbie post first, which I simply either haven't had the time for or didn't feel well when I did have the time. (Allergies. Woo.)  

So you guys have one guess as to why these girls excite me so much. 

Did anyone say "Because they look like Hearts For Hearts Girls meets AG?" Because that is the answer. I mean, look at Willa's face. (She's the redhead.) She looks like Dell. I wish these took a page from HFHG and didn't reuse faces in the first assortment, but AG isn't exactly known for its mold diversity. Seriously, there have been eight molds in THIRTY years. Man, wait, AG is thirty already? Dang. Are they even doing anything for this anniversary?

Sorry, got sidetracked.

Anyway, my primary complaint about the AG dolls is that they don't look anywhere near the ages they're supposed to be. Don't get me wrong, I love AG and I have several dolls, but those chubby arms and legs are not things usually found on 9-11-year-olds. And that's how old these girls are. The odd thing is that I bet the Wellies are meant to be younger than AG, but they look older than the regular 18" AG dolls. There are a few exceptions to the "look a lot younger" rule, like Julie, Jess, Marie-Grace and Grace, but mostly they do not look their ages. I loved the Girls of Many Lands, because they looked like the 12-year-olds they were in the books, but put one of their dolls next to an AG doll and there is more than a 2-year age difference there. 

My point? I do have one. Basically, I love dolls that look the age the characters in the books are. AGs don't often. Hearts For Hearts Girls do. Wellies seem to have learned that from HFHG, so that's a yay.

So let's take a look at the individual dolls. I'll go in order from the pic at the top. We know the names of all 5 girls and using the book previews, I was able to figure out 3, but the blonde and the black girl are currently unknown, which is why I labelled them as such. One is Camille and the other is Kendall. 

The blonde is up first. I think she might have my favorite outfit. I love those colors and the fish(?) boots are adorable. She's got a cute little beauty mark by her left eye, too. 

Then we've got Ashlyn. The fandom seems to have designated her as Latina, but she could be so many things that a lot of little girls will see themselves in her. And she has a pretty classy outfit. She might have some freckles going on. The leaked pics aren't very good quality, but her book art has freckles.

Emerson (what a name...yeesh) is the darling East Asian girl. I think she might be the one a lot of people get, lacking a strong East Asian character in AG. (One of my megagripes is that we still lack an East Asian historical character. Cute as she was, Ivy was a best friend and does not count. I'm talking about a lead.) She might be the first one I get. She doesn't have my favorite outfit, because that bulky top over what I'm presuming is a leotard gives her a weird silhouette and she has my least fave boots. But the doll herself is just cuteness personified.  
The black doll has adorable hair. Not a huge fan of her outfit though. The multicolored weird tie thing on the striped shirt and the general clashing. The skirt is nice though. Hmm, actually, all she needs is a solid color top and she'd be 100% better. 

And finally sweet Willa. Willa clearly is the nature girl. (Emerson is a dancer and Ashlyn probably likes princesses, but the other two I'm not sure.) I love all the animal motifs. I can't decide if she has my fave outfit or if the blonde does. But she has the Dell face and the freckles and I love this color scheme, so she's a contender for first purchase. It's either gonna be Willa or Emerson. (Ideally both.)

No one is sure how big these girls are. From the pic with the real girls, I'd say 15-16". A bit bigger than HFHG, but I still hope they can share clothes. 

Valerie Tripp has written 3 books for the line so far. Ashlyn's Unsurprise Party has 88 pages, while the other two have 96 each. 

Ashlyn's Unsurprise Party has her trying to throw a party for Camille, who has lost two teeth, on her own, because she wants to surprise everyone, not just Camille. But I'm sure things go wrong and she has to accept help from everyone. 

The Muddily-Puddily Show has Emerson in charge of putting on a show with the girls and trying to meet the challenges that go with it. I'm guessing she might want the spotlight, since she looks like the performer of the group, and has to learn how to make the show function so everyone can look good, not just her. 

The Riddle of the Robin has the girls learning about birds and such. Willa plays a major role. 

I had seen the doll images before today, but the books were something I only just saw this morning and I've been thinking about the line ever since. The art is really that cute. 

The three books come out on September 1st, so I'm guessing the dolls will either be out around the same time or possibly a bit earlier. 

I'm really looking forward to this line. Based on the blog comments I didn't want to read while I was researching, but couldn't help but skim, reception is mixed. Some people think they're adorable, but others complain that they're not "AG enough." I wasn't aware there was only one way AG was supposed to be. I mean, the baby dolls don't look that much like the 18" dolls, and we've had very different dolls before in the Hopscotch Hill and Girls of Many Lands lines. There is room in American Girl for a new type of doll, especially considering the more reasonable price of these, which is expected to be about $60. Seriously, that's half the cost of an 18" American Girl. Yes, they're going to look cheaper than the 18", because they ARE cheaper than the 18". I can't wait to get my hands on one! It's been years since AG did something this different and I think it's very welcome. 
PHOTO CREDITS: The doll pictures were leaked. I'm uncertain of the source. The book pictures are from here: