The Toy Box Philosopher
Reviews and opinions about dolls and doll-related toys.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Maru and Friends Doll, “Savannah”
Maru and Friends offers a small collection of 20 inch, high-quality, all-vinyl play dolls. The dolls were created by Maritza Gutierrez with the idea of putting beautiful, realistic, culturally diverse dolls into the hands of children. The central character, Maru , is described as a Latina girl who moved mad hatter handmade doll to America in search of a better life. Maru has found some wonderful new friends to give her support and help ease the transition into her new situation. These friends (Jamie, Savanna, Raven and Tanya) make up the rest of the doll collection. Maru and Friends dolls can be purchased for $115 at the company’s online store or at the Aventura Mall in Miami. These dolls can also be found online for £109 at the lovely My Doll Best Friend shop in the United Kingdom.
I purchased my Maru and Friends doll almost a year ago and she has been waiting all of this time for her review. I was tempted by all of the Maru and Friends characters, especially Maru herself, but I ended up (predictably) choosing the redheaded, blue-eyed Savannah:
Maru and Friends® doll, “Savannah”
On the Maru and Friends website, there’s an article that describes the doll boxes as “boxes of sunshine.” This is an apt description because the cardboard boxes are a bright, cheery orange color. Two opposite corners of the box’s plastic window are decorated with large orange flowers:
The Maru and Friends logo includes an adorable little ladybug:
The back of the box is also bright orange and is decorated with a mix of flowers and ladybugs:
It’s just a happy box.
The text on the back of the box is slightly confusing, but I get the message:
I have not seen any matching apparel for young girls on the website. Maybe at the mall store?
Maru and Friends dolls are sculpted by the famous doll artist Dianna Effner . Ms. Effner is known for her heart-tuggingly realistic vinyl and porcelain child dolls. Effner dolls have the most beautiful, three dimensional painted eyes I have ever seen; they look like glass eyes. I am a huge fan of Ms. Effner’s work, and am currently waiting for one of her custom 13″ studio vinyl dolls. These dolls are in such high demand that it can take up to a year for orders to be fulfilled. I know it will be worth the wait.
My Savannah had a bunch of goodies packed into the bottom of her box. Many of these things come with every doll, but I also ordered an extra sweater set that was packed with my doll.
The Maru doll is unique in that she comes with a hardcover book called The Forever Friends that describes the young girl’s adventures in America. Savannah does not come with a book.
Stored on one side of the box were a two-sided postcard and a small business card thanking me for my purchase:
The postcard has a photograph of all of the Maru characters dressed in ballet outfits. These outfits are available for separate purchase ($39-$47):
The flip side of the postcard has smaller portraits of each doll wearing her meet outfit:
On the other side of the box, I found a certificate of authenticity and my sweater set package:
The sweater came wrapped up like a cheeseburger:
Now I’m hungry.
I love the colors in this set. When I purchased Savannah, I figured that I would be reviewing her in the fall and these colors would be perfect. The mix of yellow, orange and green is not quite as appropriate for this time of the year, but it’s still gorgeous:
This limited edition, hand-knit, mohair sweater set cost me $23.99 last August. Right now, a few of the sweater sets are still available, but they come with leggings and boots and cost $39.99.
The mix of yarn texture and color is wonderful. The yarn at the bottom of the sweater has tiny little pom-poms attached to it:
It can’t be easy to knit with these!
The sweater has a slit over one shoulder that closes with a single button. This makes it easier to get the sweater on over the doll’s head:
Savannah will model this sweater set later, but for now let’s look at her as she came:
Savannah’s outfit consists of a shirt and shorts set with gingham accents. It reminds me a little of My Salon Doll Sydni’s outfit. She also comes with a brown over-the-shoulder bag and has matching brown shoes.
In the box, Savannah’s face and hair were covered with a fine hairnet. Her wide-brimmed safari hat was tied on over the hairnet, keeping everything nicely in place:
I removed the hat and the hairnet:
The hat is made out of a medium weight light khaki canvas:
The hat has wonderful details, like the matching hat band and the stitched rows around the brim:
The inside of the hat has a satiny beige lining:
Savannah has a beautiful red wig. Her shoulder length hair has feathery, layered ends. Her bangs are nicely done–thick and full, but without a harsh blunt-cut edge:
The hair fiber feels amazing and is very easy to manage. It is silky and smooth with texture just like 18″ My Twinn Annie , American Girl Keira , and all of my Karito Kids .
The wig is plenty thick, but also has some shorter strands of hair near the cap in order to conceal some of the stitching:
Savannah’s satchel-style bag is made out of a rich brown imitation leather:
The body of the bag is circular, and it has a zippered opening with an overlaying velcro tab:
The grid line stitching pattern that is visible on the outside of the bag also makes a nice checkered pattern against the white interior:
The bag is very nicely made and seems sturdy and functional.
Savannah has a beautiful face with a sweet, neutral expression. Her proportions are realistic and I can see Dianna Effner’s style in her features–especially in her expressive, impish mouth:
I love the combination of her bright red hair, pale freckled face, and soft, realistic blue eyes. My doll has slightly misaligned eyes, which is more noticeable in some positions than in others.
The eyes themselves are a beautiful color with black-rimmed irises and tiny flecks of brown. They look like glass paperweight eyes, but they are actually made out of plastic. The freckles are nowhere near as realistic as my two Paola Reina dolls’ freckles, but they are cute and subtle.
The eyes are framed by black applied lashes on top and delicately painted lashes on the bottom. The eyebrows are light brown and have a nice mix of well-defined brush strokes with some finer details added in:
Savannah’s mouth is painted an opaque rosy terra cotta color and has a quirky little half-smile.
The style of Savannah’s outfit is not my personal taste (I have never liked gingham–too much of it when I was a kid, perhaps?), but I find these clothes beautiful anyway because of how meticulously they are constructed. The outfit consists of a short-sleeved camp shirt and belted shorts.
The green gingham sleeves are perfectly micro-gathered and have a nice, uniform puff all around. The gingham also appears in the collar of the shirt and at the edge of the two breast pockets. Each pocket also has a central pleat that is lined with green.
The shirt has four buttons, but these are decorative. There’s a long strip of velcro that actually holds the shirt closed:
Underneath the shirt, Savannah is wearing a white cotton jersey tank top:
The shorts have green gingham cuffs and are held up with a pink gingham belt. I like the contrast that the pink provides. The front pockets are highly detailed and actually open, but the two back pockets are just for decoration. My doll’s shorts came out of the box scrunched off to one side, and you can see that they suffer from a few creases in front because of this:
The belt has a working buckle and is lined with pink satin. I’m pretty sure that this is the nicest, most sturdily constructed doll belt I have ever seen.
One of the short pockets is pleated to match the pockets on the shirt, the other is a traditional patch pocket with a gingham lining:
The waistband of the shorts is lined with cream satin:
Under the shorts, Savannah has white cotton panties that match her tank top. These undergarments are also well made:
Savannah is wearing knee-high knit socks and imitation leather hiking boots. The socks have pink pom-pom tassels that match the gingham belt:
The hiking boots are sturdy and solid, with thick soles and stiff edges. These shoes help Savannah stand very nicely on her own.
The boots have a separate tongue and actually lace up in front:
The quilted pattern in the soft cuff of the boots matches the pattern on Savannah’s bag:
The lace holes are not reinforced with eyelets, and so one of the holes is starting to tear:
The boots are not lined and have a plain white interior:
The soles are made out of black plastic (vinyl?) and have tread indentations along the sides:
Savannah has an all-vinyl body that is strung with elastic. My doll is very well-strung and hold poses perfectly. She also balances well, even in her bare feet. The vinyl is heavy and smooth and has a beautiful color that my silly camera might not capture very well. She has five points of articulation:
I love getting a doll with a completely new shape, and Savannah is definitely one of those dolls. She has long, slender limbs, sloping shoulders and a healthy little belly and hips:
Savannah’s neck joint moves really well, and she can hold her head in almost any position, but the rounded end of her neck joint can stick out and look awkward in some positions:
Dianna Effner’s signature was sculpted into the doll’s back:
Savannah has delicate hands and feet:
I think the shape of her feet is especially realistic:
Here is one of Savannah’s feet next to an American Girl foot so that you can see the size and shape difference:
What’s interesting is that Savannah balances so well on her own despite these petite feet.
Savannah’s partially bent arms and highly mobile neck add a lot of expressiveness to her small range of poses:
Because Savannah has a different shape from the other 18″ play dolls I own, there were a lot of comparisons I wanted to make. First, here she is next to an American Girl doll and a Karito Kid :
Karito Kid “Gia,” Maru and Friends “Savannah,” My American Girl.
Gia, the Karito Kid, is the closest in size and proportion to Savannah. These two dolls are almost exactly the same height. Some minor differences are that Savannah has a smaller head, smaller limbs (particularly at the extremities), more angled shoulders, and a narrower curve to her waist.
My American Girl, Keira, has a roughly similar torso size, but Savannah is longer in the waist. Keira has much chunkier limbs, to the point where her hands won’t fit through the sleeves of Savannah’s shirt.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit Maru and Friends Doll, “Savannah”