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:


  1. I haven't seen Cutie Pops here in Australia yet but they may arrive in time for Christmas and I will be able to see them for myself. Meanwhile it is interesting to hear others think of them and see photos of the different dolls.

  2. I really like the Cutie Pops, unfortunately they aren't sold here in the Netherlands yet.
    So I'm glad I won the Cookie doll from Emily (the TBP) :D

  3. I just found 2 at a local thrift store complete with their original outfits & shoes for a dollar. It was Candi & Cookie. Only one had her yarn hair-I am wondering where to get the hair for the other-any suggestions? Ebay is ridiculous I will not pay those prices! I loved your review-its AWESOME & EXCITING-PLUS VERY INFORMATIVE-THANKS~

  4. Hello!
    I'm a doll lover from France and I really enjoy reading you site and specialy this post!
    I see you love doll too, and you have a way to tell us it's really fun AND informative!!
    Thanks a lot, I will come back soon!!

  5. Hey I need some help, I have the Starr doll, but her outfit appears to be sewn on, is there any way to remove it?

  6. Really gorgeous images. I love your fantastic post regarding Blythe. I just ordered this charming doll at PIJ. Its superb one.