Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cutie Sushi

I just love these girls...

What are Candi and Starr up to?


Ah, they've gone to Tylie's sushi restaurant for dinner! What's on the menu?

stupid glare

"We brought our own desserts!"

Dolls: La Dee Da Tylie, Cutie Pops Starr and Candi

The "Sweet Neighbourhood Delicious Sushi" playset was purchased at Big Lots several years ago. I made both signs to cover up the original boring graphics (and need to make some slight adjustments and print them again for a better fit). The pink base should be painted black or red, just add that to the list of little projects I'll maaaybe get around to someday. Actually a strip of paper covering the pink would look good and be a lot easier. I googled but can't find the playset for sale anywhere. It was on Amazon at one time so a seller might offer it again if they find a box in a warehouse.

Starr and Candi are wearing Cutie Pops fashions and pieces from two of the hair/eye packs (Day in the Park and Evening Wear). Candi is wearing the polka dot closed eyes that came with Starr.

What looks like striped tights on Candi are supposed to be worn on the arms but I tried them on her legs and like the look. Maybe I'll make tights to go with this outfit and then the arms won't need to be bare. The back of the Evening Wear box shows blue and light green cake slices on the dress, it really helped tone down all the pink. Now the slices are blue, light pink, and darker pink. Thanks little girls, I'll never understand why you're so obsessed with pink, which scares toy makers silly. Must offer pink! More pink! Ugh. (Actually, I do think Candi looks darling in this pink outfit, the green cake slices would've been nice though.) The strawberries on the cake had tiny white dots that were also nixed between prototype and production. I think that could be replicated at home with a straight pin and white paint?

I really need to find my VERY BIG box of fashion doll shoes to expand Liv and Cutie Pops footwear options. I think it's in the storage unit. There are a lot of things I think and hope are in the storage unit!


Monday, September 24, 2012

"Well, it's a doll show"*

Back in 2001 I went to my first doll show in Seattle and had a good time looking at vintage Barbies and soaking in the atmosphere. After a couple hours of consideration I bought a perfect '60s Midge and brunette Bubblecut (and my then-boyfriend bought a sweet brunette Francie for himself, which somehow ended up in my collection). The ~180 mile round trip to attend the show was worth it (gas was cheaper back then), but for various reasons that was my first and last doll show, until this past Saturday.

Last month I saw a flyer at the library advertising a show hosted by the local doll club (which I didn't know existed) and decided I'd make an effort to attend, considering it was located just 6 miles from my house.

Before going to bed Friday night I put a silly amount of cash in my purse, hoping it'd be enough to cover a gently used doll, in order of desirability: Pullip or Blythe (regular size, hence the silly amount of cash), vintage Barbie, or perhaps a Silkstone I missed during my long dolly break. Maybe a HTF Monster High? I was going to splurge on a special doll and visions of the last show were dancing in my head. So! Many! Dolls!

To make a boring story short-ish, I was disappointed to discover the modern dolls advertised on the flyer mainly referred to Gene dolls (which were lovely but I already have two and that's plenty), American Girl dolls, and some '90s Barbies. There was one Ellowyne (also high on my want list) but she was employed as a model for handmade clothes and not for sale. I also saw just one Silkstone, a deboxed lingerie gal already in my collection.

Little Pullip tagged along because she needs a new 4/5 wig, but the wigs for sale were too big. A friendly vendor noticed her in my hand and asked to check her out, and she very much appreciated little Pullips sweet face.

The vintage Barbie scene at the show was extremely limited, there were a handful of  '60s Mattel dolls and they weren't in great condition. The breakdown: 1 Barbie (Fashion Queen with all 3 wigs), 1 Alan, 2 Midge, and 4 or 5 Skippers. Can you believe not a single bubblecut? I saw at least 50 bubblecuts at the 2001 show. And no Francies! :( 

It sounds like I showed up late but I was there right when it started at 10 AM. Based on what was being offered for sale I think the local doll club members prefer antique and not-Barbie vintage dolls. It was interesting seeing so many dolls but man, I had some cash burning a hole in my pocket. You know the feeling...

Now, on to the good news! I found one little Pullip:

That thing behind her head is a space helmet! It's so cute on!

I asked the vendor if she had more Pullips and she said, "Oh no, those are hard to find." Not exactly HTF on the internet but I think she meant they don't just fall in her lap. $20 seemed like a fair price and a quick google confirms I didn't overpay. Since I didn't have to pay tax or shipping on top of the $20 it was actually a nice deal. For example you can buy her on eBay right now for $27 plus $5 s&h.

This is Little Pullip Cosmic Jupiter (based on the normal size Pullip of the same name), and she's adorable. I love her lavender hair, it's brighter than it appears in this photo, and her helmet is delightful. I'm a big space nerd so finding a Pullip in a spacesuit (er, a space dress?) is extra special to me.

Her stock eyes are so dark they look like two giant pupils, which is different. I think she'd look sweet with blue eyes (maybe from a thrifted Liv Sophie I already have on hand). Lavender eyes to match her hair would be cute too, so she might get new eyes at some point. Here's a video on YouTube that shows how to open Little Pullip heads and change their eyes.

Then I found a Hayden hidden away, off to the side on a stool next to a bucket of playline Barbies. Why not, she was only 2 bucks.

Ahhh, the good Liv body!
The $2 entrance fee included a door prize ticket and -- this was a big shock -- they drew my name first! Wow! I was allowed to pick anything off the prize table. There were several dolls to choose from but nothing fit my style so I selected a Radio Flyer wagon (not full size, it can be used to display dolls that are the type to sit in wagons), which will probably go to a niece this Christmas. :)

So... I spent about an hour at the show wandering in circles and finally decided to give up and try my luck at Value Village on the way home. Good call! This led to my very first thrifted Monster, a $1 Frankie Stein. I can't wait until the monsters start showing up at thrifts with regularity. She's missing her left arm at the elbow, which seems fitting for a Frankie. 

Frankie as Laura Palmer
After I pulled her off the wall a man walked by and asked, "Is that an elf?!" He startled me! Not exactly an elf. :)

after her bath and shampoo
She looks like a Killer Style Frankie, which I already have so this girl will probably get a hair cut. But first the peg stuck in her arm needs to be drilled out and then she'll borrow a spare left forearm and hand from one of the CAM sets in my closet. I'm thankful the previous owner didn't chuck this broken doll into the trash, and VV priced her appropriately. (It bugs me when they sell a damaged doll for the same price as a doll in great condition.)

Value Village also offered up a pretty My Scene Madison for $2.00:

straight out of the bag
This is what Madison was wearing in the store. :) Creative dress-up is a nice bonus for the buyer, I bought a doll with a dress and jeans so it feels like I got a free pair of doll jeans.

OK, I didn't find the (normal size $$$) Pullip of my dreams on Saturday but it was a good dolly day: I saw a lot of dolls I hadn't seen in person before (which was fun, even though most weren't my style), bought a few dolls and didn't break the bank, won a door prize, and didn't use much gas to get there and back (plus free parking!). I'll probably attend the annual show again next year, with more realistic expectations about the dolls offered for sale.

*I overheard this line in the title ("Well, it's a doll show"), spoken by a bored older gentleman to a lady I assume was his wife. It made me burst out laughing because of the tone in his voice. His wife then asked if he was ready to go. ;)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cutie Pops review

Warning: There are new dolls in town, and they have BIG HEADS.
Cutie Pops are manufactured by Jada Toys and cost $20 at places like WalMart and TRU. They'll probably show up at my local Target and other stores soon. So far there are four girls in the line: Candi, Chiffon, Cookie, and Starr. Starr is a Walmart exclusive, at this point she's only available at Walmart and packaged with her dog Popcorn ($28 for both doll and dog).

Starr, Popcorn the giant dog, and Candi
The girls are wearing their yarn hair, they come with two sets of ponytails

Did you notice Candi's eyes are closed? Each doll comes with two sets of eyes, open and shut! The eyes pop in and out of the eye socket, it's kinda crazy but it works... until kids lose or break the eyes. (I'm sure an adult would never lose or break a doll eye. HA HA.) But there are accessory packs available with more eyes, you're covered. Stock up when the sales hit. It won't surprise me at all to eventually find these dolls at thrift shops missing their eyes.

I like Candi the best but Starr's movie theme is adorable so she's a close second. So far I've purchased Candi and Starr. Chiffon has a very sweet outfit too. Cookie's outfit is just OK compared to the others, I hope her wave 2 doll has a better dress. Each doll has a pet (of course!) sold separately for $10, more about the dogs later.

The CP website tells us a fifth doll is "coming this fall." The Carmel prototype unveiled at Toy Fair is pretty, you can see more of her (including her theme and yarny hair) in this preview video:

The dolls are SO much cuter in person, they don't look appealing to me here
On the Cutie Pops website they make  it seem like Carmel's look is a big surprise but they displayed her at Toy Fair back in January so the secret is not exactly a secret. They also released the above graphic earlier this year, I found it on the helpful Cutie Castle Tumblr account. Some things were changed on the other dolls since Toy Fair (for example Cookie no longer has Oreos on her dress) so Carmel might not look exactly like her prototype doll.

Why must every doll have a pet (yeah, $$$)

Each Cutie Pop has her own dog, sold separately for $10 (except for Starr, she is sold at Walmart with her dog Popcorn for $28 -- they're a package deal). Maybe in the future they will branch out into other species, cats seems like the obvious next step. The dogs are gigantic, it's comical how big they are. For size comparison:

Candi (with a change of hair, bows, eyes, and dress pops), Popcorn the dog, LPS Blythe, Mattel's Gen Girl Mari
When I saw Starr's dog Popcorn I thought, "It's big enough to be a horse!" That's when the most brilliant idea hit me: 


Can you imagine the cuteness? Forget cats (and I love cats), I want the next pets to be miniature ponies! Jada Toys, are you listening? :) OK, the next three waves of pets have probably already been designed and approved. But... ponies!

Is the dog worth $10? It's cute but I'm biased, dolly pets are not my thing so I wouldn't pay $10 for a pet -- unless it was a miniature pony. I only bought Popcorn because I had to buy the dog to get Starr, and Starr's 3D glasses rendered me powerless.

Blythe thinks she can ride Popcorn like a pony

The dog comes with two sets of ears and tails, but the other set is boring. The dog's eyes are not removable. You can add pops to the dog's bow, skirt, and collar.

Help, I can't stop poppin'

I've barely touched on all the ways you can easily customize these dolls, and I think little girls will eat this feature up! I'm a big girl and I love it. :) Each doll comes with two sets of ponytails (one set is regular doll hair, one set is made from yarn), two sets of hair bows, two sets of eyes (open and shut), and several pops you can use to decorate their clothes and hair bows. You can style the ponytails into braids and leave them down or twist the braids up and pin them into little buns.

You can swap out the pops in Starr's 3D glasses
Candi's left eye is a little glitter heavy, I suspect it will flake off over time, or I can scrape some of it off
Starr "opens" her eyes. Yes, that is a Barbie stand around her neck. I need shorter stands for these girls.
I forgot to put pops on Popcorn's glasses, you can see the holes where they're supposed to go. The cookie on her bow is a pop.

More customization options are available if you buy the three extra outfits, three pop accessory packs, and three hair & eye packs. That's a lot of poppin'! Here are photos of the packs I've purchased, you can see all of them at

1 of the 3 extra oufits (this is my favorite)
The peach plastic strip is a wrist band that kids can wear to show off pops or carry extra pops with them as they play. Surprisingly it fits my wrist buuuuut I won't be wearing it. Note the two fake cardboard pops on the fuzzy bows. The other 8 pops you see in the package are all real.

1 of the 3 extra hair & eye packs, I like the stripey closed eyes
Notice how the bottom bow is lopsided? Avoid that, I discovered you can't simply move the fabric over a smidge so the pop is centered.

1 of the 3 extra hair & eye packs
I'm not wild about the closed eyes with hearts, I might design a new closed eye and print it out on sticker paper to cover up the hearts.

Candi wears the "Party Evening" pink hair and open eyes. Here's the best view of the dog's skirt and tail.

I like this look on Candi better.

1 of the 3 extra pop packs. I think I need the donut pack too.

only a buck
I needed something to organize all the extra eyes, bows, and pops. When Michael's craft store puts their bead storage boxes on sale for 50% off you can pick up this box for just $1. They have quite a variety of storage boxes in the bead section, just keep looking until you locate the box that originally costs $2. They have nicer boxes that cost a little more but I'm cheap so the $1 box it is!

What's not to like?

I really like the Cutie Pops but I think they'd be getting a lot more attention from adult doll collectors (those who enjoy Blythe and Pullip and other big head dolls) if they had rooted hair. The colorful yarn plug-in ponytails are clever and would still work with rooted hair, in my opinion, but the plastic molded hair is a turn-off. It reminds me of toddler bath time dolls. I won't let it stop me from enjoying Cutie Pops, but I hope Jada Toys will give their girls rooted hair in the future.

It'll be fun to see what customizers do with these dolls, maybe they can use wigs or root hair to cover up the plastic? The plastic could be painted a different color too. Starr would look cute with her blonde molded hair painted blue to match the lens in her 3-D glasses. If these dolls hit clearance prices ($10 or less) I'll buy one just to experiment on. I plan to knit a rainbow hat for Candi and I'm thinking about gluing doll hair to a strip of cardboard so it can be tucked under the hat and then it'll look like she has rooted hair peeking out.

More articulation would be wonderful, and I hope someone pops a CP head off the body to see if it will work on an older style Liv body or one of the articulated bodies made in Japan. More on articulation in the "What's next?" section.

The CP dolls at my local Walmart and TRU had a lot of problems with their face/hair paint and stray marks on their faces. Buy these dolls in person and examine them carefully if that sort of thing is important to you. 

What's next?

There's a curious sentence in the small print at the bottom of the official CP page: "The availability of the special collector edition of articulated-arm models will be available in the future announcement." Special collector edition Cutie Pops? Hmmm... It's too bad they can't work articulated arms into the $20 dolls, Spinmaster has the same problem with their new stiff arm LaDeeDa dolls. SpinMaster gave us the old articulated Liv bodies for $15-$20 MSRP, but even Liv was downgraded to stiff arms in 2012. Manufacturing costs went up, profits were down, something had to give? :\

I'm not sure if Cutie Pops will be popular or see a second wave. I suspect most adults and teens who love Monster High will dismiss Cutie Pops as toys for little girls. Besides, their money is already earmarked to buy the latest monsters, Mattel is now churning them out at an alarming rate. I *think* once young girls play with their friend's dolls and enjoy the customization process (poppin' the pops) they will ask for their own Cutie Pop doll. But if anybody could accurately predict what kids will love there wouldn't be any toy lines that flop right out of the gate.

I also don't know if Cutie Pops will catch on with adults who collect Pullip/Blythe and other big head dolls. Doll snobbery is alive and well, I guarantee these dolls will be seen as a joke to some collectors, even though they have a similar look and style to their $100+ big head gals. There is currently very little CP activity on Tumblr and Flickr, which isn't a good sign. Granted, the line is still new and many positive comments are being posted under photos on Flickr. Adult collectors can't make the line a success anyway, it'll require a lot of little girls putting these dolls on their holiday wish lists.

Aside: I think it's fairly obvious these dolls were inspired by underground pop fashion (Japanese Lolita, which is not a sexualized style catering to pervy old men despite the name, so this isn't a bad thing) and Pullip/Blythe dolls. You can find hundreds of OOAK Pullip (or Blythe, or Monster High, etc) artist dolls dressed in similar Loli fashions, complete with colorful yarn hair and whimsical cake and candy themes. The pigeon toe stance is also a big clue the CP designers knew exactly what they were doing. It's interesting to see similar dolls now being marketed to young children. This is not a complaint or criticism, just an observation.

Right now I'm content to wait and see where Jada Toys takes this line before I buy more dolls from wave 1. For example, if they switch from plastic hair to rooted hair I'd regret paying full price for all the plastic heads. The hint of a collector's edition with articulated arms also made me pause. Two Cutie Pop dolls is a good number for now, I'm very happy with Candi and Starr. I reserve the right to change my mind when we see the production Carmel. :)

More Cutie Pops online

CP official website:

CP Flickr group (fan pics):

Cutie Castle on Tumblr:

CP official YouTube channel: So far the best video shows how to style the hair in little buns, it's a fun style. There's a video that features the Decoration Station, an overpriced doll trunk ($30 at TRU). Cute but definitely not $30 cute. I'm not the best judge though, the only time I buy a doll trunk is when it's $3 at the thrift store -- and even then I usually leave the trunks there. I'd definitely pick this one up for $3 used. ;)

The Toybox Philosopher has a fun and informative CP review you should read, she has dozens of high quality photos of her Cutie Pop Cookie, including Cookie with Blythe and Pullip. Click here:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Liv Brites Katie

Note: Blogger is forcing a few clickable ad links in the text of this post without my permission, but I don't pay Blogger to host this blog so I won't throw a fit over it. The only clickable links I added myself are in the final paragraph, they are two links to new Blythe dolls on Target's website.

I missed Target's Liv clearance this summer, which means I didn't buy any of the Liv Brites or Liv for Color dolls, and now Liv is gone from Target. Oh no! So last week I stopped by Ross to see if any of those dolls made their way to the discount store. Ross mainly sells discounted clothes and accessories but they have a small toy section where you can find older toys marked down. There was one Liv Brites doll on the shelf, a Katie with her long purple wig ($9, originally $20). Alexis is also on my wish list because her orange wig is pretty awesome too.

Notice this box doesn't say "Only at Target" in the lower right corner

 $9 is a fair price, it's $1 cheaper than the long boring brunette/blonde Liv wigs TRU still has in stock (and that's $10 for a long wig by itself, no doll attached).

The Liv Brites and Liv for Color wigs are appealing (if you enjoy brightly colored doll hair) but the wigs were the best thing about the dolls. I refused to pay $20 for the Brites when they were new because the Liv knee joints were downgraded, the waist/elbows/wrists/ankles were no longer articulated (!!!), and the outfits looked slapped together and cheap. SpinMaster cut corners with the 2012 dolls. :(

The Liv for Color dolls were similar to the Brites: same inferior Liv body, a simple dress, a brightly colored shorter wig, but no accessories and they cost $11, almost half the price of the Brites! They were a much better deal but the downgraded bodies made me cross and I didn't want to pay even $11 for them. Maybe Liv for Color dolls will show up at Ross soon, marked down to $6? One can hope.

The wig shown in the illustration is cool, I never saw it in a store. Check the buttons!

Katie Brite is not without positives, I think she's the best of the Brites trio. I like her distinctive makeup (she stands out from all my other Katies), purple boots, and of course the purple wig. She's the only Brites girl with boots, the other two wear so-so shoes. The wig is key, I wouldn't have bought this doll if she had a normal brunette wig. Bonus: the icky green vinyl vest has four small purple buttons on it, you can snip those off and use them on another doll outfit.

the see-through vinyl was an interesting choice

Her outfit needed a little help so I added pants, a jacket, and glasses from other Liv outfits. The green dots on the dress and pants are almost the same color so they do match, unfortunately the lighting messed with the greens in these photos.

Bottom line: I'm happy Katie Brite is here. I hope to find Alexis Brite and some discounted Liv for Color dolls at Ross soon.

After I bought Katie at Ross I went over to Tuesday Morning and found a new-to-me redhead LPS Blythe from 2010 marked down to $5. She would've been $4 at Ross but I wasn't going to balk over a buck!

Her picnic basket and headband are too cute

After that I went to TJ Maxx next door and saw another cheap LPS Blythe ($4) but I already own her so she stayed there. Earlier this year I found several little Blythes at Ross ($4), now they're showing up at Tuesday Morning ($5) and TJ Maxx ($4).

The only new Blythes currently in US stores are a couple Target exclusive "Moonlite Fairies" with purple and pink hair. It would be nice to own them but it's hard to go from paying $4 and $5 for discounted Blythes to $17 and $30 for Blythe and pets at Target. Click the prices to see the new dolls and their fairy pets on Target's website. I can wait for the discounts or settle for missing out. It's not clear if Hasbro has plans for more Blythe dolls in 2012, they'll need to hit the stores soon for the holiday rush.

Thanks for stopping by! :)