Ken’s Hair Club

Life de luxe in a smaller scale
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Ken’s Hair Club
Time passes. And it’s passage is not without effects. For example, hair falls off. And in the world of dolls, hair determines much of the visual impact that a model may have. All too often, an out-of-scale do kills the well-meaning doll. But that is the subject for another entry. In the realm of male dolls, vintage Ken to be exact, it is the absence – full or partial – of the doll’s original flocking that turns the handsome lad into an undesirable. The truth is that vanity reigns and ideals of beauty and youth determine who gets to model inside the cabinet. Vintage Ken had several outfits that featured hats and caps, but the number was not extensive enough to cover the heads of all the vintage first issue Ken dolls that survived playtime in the early 1960s.
What to do? Reflock them with materials used for creating the effect of vegetation around model trains? Wash and paint the heads with acrylic? Possibilities, these are. Yet, if the desire is to restore the doll to it’s original concept, then the professionals are needed. If vintage Barbie’s hair can be beautifully refreshed by Pink Bubble Spa , why can’t Ken take off his hat and show off a full head of flocked hair? Enter Ray Cairo of Flock Concepts. Mr. Cairo is the expert in electromagnetic flocking services for the G.I. Joe community as well as for Ken and even Mel Odom’s Trent .
For this Dolldom entry, three vintage Ken dolls demonstrate what professional hair restoration can achieve. Flock Concepts expert selection of perfectly scaled fibers along with its electromagnetic application yield magnificent results. For the DIY set, Flock Concepts also provides re-flocking and flocking repair kits. Flock concepts even offers free video tutorials at the bottom of the site’s main page.
You wish to see proof? Here we go!
Candid Commuter Ken Carson
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit Ken’s Hair Club


The Anna And Elsa Ice Skating Set From The Disney Store–a Guest Review!

The Toy Box Philosopher

Reviews and opinions about dolls and doll-related toys.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
The Anna and Elsa Ice Skating Set from the Disney Store–A Guest Review!
Well, it seems like there has finally been an enduring re-stock of Frozen dolls over at the Disney Store.  While the 12 inch Kristoff and Hans characters sold out again fairly quickly (and Elsa comes in and out of stock) there are still many great dolls available–including a few new additions.  I was just starting to put together a review of one of the new Mini Wardrobe playsets for you when I got an email from Zoe.  Zoe has been waiting a long time to write a guest review, and as luck would have it, she recently purchased the exclusive Anna and Elsa Ice Skating set–another new addition to the Disney Store lineup.  So, I decided to create a short two-review series to close out this week:  Zoe will review the Anna and Elsa set today, and then I will review a Mini Wardrobe set tomorrow.
I first met Zoe back in June, right after Samehch’s Bratz doll overview .  Not only does Zoe know a lot about the early Bratz dolls, but she also shares my passion for Liv dolls and fairy tales.  Zoe’s fairy tale fondness enticed her into collecting Ever After High dolls, and also many of the Disney Princesses, which gives her some great reference points for this review.  Thank you so much for sharing this rare sister set with us, Zoe!
Elsa (left) and Anna (right) from the Disney Store Ice Skating set.
Thank you Emily for letting me write this review.  My name is Zoe and I live in the south east of England.  I collect the Disney Classic dolls and Ever After High dolls, as well as having a historic collection of Bratz.  The idea to write this review came about after Frozen merchandise was re-stocked here in the UK.  What followed this re-stock can only be described as chaos.  People were desperately racing out to stores and ordering online.  I was lucky enough to order a new Frozen doll set online – the Ice Skating set – and have it delivered.
Here is the set as it arrived in its packaging and a close-up of the dolls. Unfortunately, my box was a bit bashed-up as the courier decided to throw the package over our gate.
The reverse of the packaging has a nice image of Elsa helping Anna learn to skate. What I found a bit bizarre with this is that the cartoon Anna is wearing her winter gear rather than the summer outfit that the actual doll is wearing.
The de-boxing was fairly simple at first, but removing the dolls themselves proved a slight challenge. Small plastic tabs fixed the plastic front of the box to the cardboard background, and this separated with ease.
There were plastic wires holding the dolls in by the waist and a number of plastic ties fixed to the dolls’ heads and clothing. The plastic ties were a nightmare to remove, since a lot of these were very small and took a long time to find. Some step-by-step pictures of the de-boxing can be seen below:
Once out of the box, the dolls were still joined together at the hands with some plastic casing. Having them joined allowed them to balance and stand up freely.
However, once this attachment was removed, getting the dolls to stand was a completely different story. I had the most issues with Elsa and it took a lot of effort and patience to get her standing on her own.

Now, I’ll look at the dolls individually. One of the things I said to Emily about doing this review was that I wanted to compare these newer dolls to the  first release Frozen dolls  and also to the  2014 Classic Disney dolls . 
I’ll look at Elsa first.
From what I can tell, Elsa’s face mold and dress are exactly the same as the first release doll. The main differences on the doll are in the makeup. The first Elsa (always shown on the left, below) has a lighter purple eyeshadow but bolder eyeliner whereas newer Elsa appears to have bolder purple eyeshadow and a less definitive eyeliner. Also, newer Elsa has a pinker lip than the slightly darker lips of the first Elsa. My first Elsa was secondhand as I purchased her when the Elsa doll drought occurred here in the UK.  This older doll’s hair has always been looser, but from what I can tell, the hair was originally in exactly the same style as the newer Elsa’s.  The new doll’s hair is very rigid with a lot of hair product.
Original Elsa (left), Ice Skating Elsa (right).
As I mentioned, the Ice Skating Elsa’s dress is exactly the same as the original, but the shoes are completely different! Rather than the disappointing blue pumps of the original, Elsa sports a pair of her famous crystal ice slippers, but these have a bottom skate. 
These shoes are lovely-looking, but they’re a nightmare to keep on Elsa’s feet. She has flat feet, and these do not curve to the new shoe’s shape, so the shoes do not stay on unless they’re tied with the bands.
As you can see, this is a nightmare for balance as Elsa demonstrates in the photos. She managed to balance briefly with Anna’s help, but she then faceplanted the floor and her shoes went flying.
Next, I looked at Anna.  I was really excited to see that she is different from her initial release doll! Most noticeably, she is wearing a completely different outfit, but also her hair does not feature a white streak, since the ice skating scene in the movie was after she is cured of her frozen heart.
I’m not convinced these dolls use the same head mold. I’m not an expert, but as soon as I saw the new Anna, she looked different in the face.  To me her face looks slightly longer and less round:
Original Anna (left), Ice Skating Anna (right).
Comparing the first Anna to new Anna, some other differences are clear. Newer Anna has a light blue eye shadow above her lid which is missing from the first Anna. Newer Anna also has lighter freckles and slightly darker green eyes.
Ice Skating Anna’s outfit is completely different from the original. It is a great reproduction of what she wears in the final scenes of the film. It features a two-piece outfit with an attached shirt and bodice and a separate skirt. She also wears a pair of cream boots with olive green accents finished with the silver blades at the bottom to complete this skating set.  
I love once again how the quality of the clothing on this doll does justice to what fans will be expecting. The bodice/shirt has a Velcro seam up the back making it easy to put on and the skirt has a similar Velcro fastening. The boots have a good slit up the back making them easy to get onto Anna’s feet.
Next, I was curious to see how the new dolls’ articulation compared to my initial Frozen dolls.
I don’t own any doll stands for my Disney dolls so in this review I am using Ever After High stands. First of all, here are the 2 dolls next to each other.
Each of the dolls has 13 points of articulation: shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles and neck. This is the exact same articulation as in the initial dolls. The legs are the harder vinyl compared to the  newest dolls from Disney , and they have the hinged knees that give these dolls a ‘bowed-leg’ look.
When the dolls sit, they can only sit with their legs splayed apart in a straddle.  This creates a somewhat unattractive sitting position, as Emily showed in a  previous review .
The dolls can do very good front splits but not side splits.
There are some key differences between the  first Frozen dolls  and the newer dolls. My first Frozen dolls have terrible joints – Anna has really tight hip joints and will not sit up no matter how hard I try and Elsa is very loose in some places. Compared to the newer dolls, the older dolls either cannot sit or sit in an almost laying down position. Also, it is clear in the pictures that the older dolls have much more bowed legs and this appears to be somewhat corrected in the newer releases.
From left to right: original Elsa, Ice Skating Elsa, Ice Skating Anna, original Anna.
From left to right: original Elsa, Ice Skating Elsa, Ice Skating Anna, original Anna.
Next, I compared the articulation to 2014 Merida. She can sit more elegantly on the floor with her legs together and can generally hold her front splits better. She can also do side splits where Anna and Elsa cannot. But despite this, as mentioned in  another review , due to the restricted knee click joints, the levels of posing are extremely limited and the Frozen dolls definitely win on this account!
I had great fun (although with difficulty) posing my new Frozen dolls, here are some of my shots below!
Finally, thank you Emily once again for allowing me to write this review, it has been a pleasure. For anyone thinking of purchasing these dolls (if and when they become available again) I would definitely recommend them. This set was £25.00 (approximately $40) when I got them directly from the Disney store making each individual doll £12.50 which is their standard price separately here in the UK. I think the improved articulation is great and I’m glad they didn’t revert back to the knee-click joints of the new 2014 dolls.
I will leave you with a picture of my new Frozen dolls with the  original Anna and Elsa :
From left to right: original Elsa, Ice Skating Elsa, Ice Skating Anna, original Anna.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit The Anna and Elsa Ice Skating Set from the Disney Store–A Guest Review!

She’s Gonna Start A Revolution

Life de luxe in a smaller scale
Thursday, August 7, 2014
She’s Gonna Start A Revolution
“The Face of 66” as Twiggy was called in The Daily Express has become ingrained in our collective conscious and subconscious. Which is why when Integrity Toys released “She’s Not There” Poppy Parker, Dolldom took notice.

Iconic looks, such as the one championed by Lesley Hornby, provide the opportunity to revisit a sensational time and place in fashion history.
 It all starts with tweedle dee and tweedle dum handmade doll the hairstyle. Integrity Toys got it right.
And then it’s all about hems as in Michelle McClusky’s (e-Bay seller minifashions5) velvet and Lurex minidress. Jewelry from “The Barbie Fashion Model Collection.”
Classic gold links remind of Courrèges! Gold links mini by Francesca Pigliapoco.
Sometimes it’s all about vintage. This Hong Kong clone number is perfection in gold and green. Emerald ring by Joy Jarred .
Gold brocade never looked better.
The Face of 66? You be the judge.
Closing the fashion show is a black and silver Lurex knit mini with silver orb decoration found at a thrift store. Lucky find! “Apostrophe” chair by Maryann Roy for Welcome Home .
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For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit She’s Gonna Start A Revolution

“kate” And “tara” By Wildflower Dolls

The Toy Box Philosopher
Reviews and opinions about dolls and doll-related toys.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
“Kate” and “Tara” by Wildflower Dolls
Today’s post will not be a traditional review, but more of a showcase for a special kind of doll that I learned about recently:  Wildflower Dolls .  These dolls have handmade, limited edition heads mounted on highly articulated brand name 1/6 scale bodies.  As you know, I am a huge fan of highly articulated doll bodies, but it is the extraordinary faces of the Wildflower Dolls that have enchanted me.
I first heard about Wildflower Dolls from my friend Séverine (the same friend who took the Avengers Black Widow picture ).  Séverine was showing me some pictures of her doll collection, and  one particular photo  of spunky redheaded sisters immediately grabbed my attention.  These sisters caught my eye because they have my favorite kind of unruly red hair, but also because they have facial expressions that brilliantly capture two very different, very playful emotions.  When Séverine told me that her dolls were custom-made, I assumed that their prices would be out of reach.  However, when I visited the Wildflower Dolls  Etsy store, I was amazed to learn that these charismatic creations can be custom ordered for under $200.  Better yet, some of the pre-made dolls can be purchased for under $100.  This realization marked the beginning of my own Wildflower Dolls adventure–a process that brought these two beautiful, happy sisters into my home:
Kate #45 (left) and Tara #32 (right) by Wildflower Dolls.
Before I ordered my dolls, I spent about a day and a half carefully looking through the gorgeous pictures of Wildflower Dolls on Flickr .  The Wildflower artist, Andrea, has an amazing album of all the dolls she has made, and even some photos of her creative process .  There are about twenty three unique Wildflower Doll heads, each sculpted in wax clay and then cold-cast in a porcelain-like resin. The heads are made in small editions of 50.  I fell hopelessly in love with at least four of the faces right away, and then grew to love pretty much all of the rest of the characters as I looked through Andrea’s pictures again and again.  The range of expressions that Andrea is able to create is simply astonishing.
The danger with the Wildflower Dolls, I’ll warn you right now, is that the faces interact so well with one another that it’s very, very hard to order just one doll.  I started out by placing a single order, but as you can see from my cover shot…that didn’t last long.
But let’s start from the beginning.  It was the “Kate” face that first stood out to me from all of Andrea’s pictures on Flickr:
Wildflower Dolls “Kate” face.
Kate’s serene smile makes me feel happy and calm, and I knew this face would look great if I custom-ordered it with flame-red hair and tons of freckles.  
The hardest decision for me was choosing which 1/6 scale body to use with Kate’s head.  Andrea offers an Integrity Dynamite Girl body , an Obitsu body and also Barbie Fashionista and Pivotal bodies.  I was seriously tempted by the Dynamite Girl body, but ended up picking the Pivotal model because I had never seen this particular body in person before.
Andrea is one of the nicest people on earth, and so working with her on this custom order was very fun.  Not only that, but she had my Kate finished before I knew what was happening.  I always assume that custom orders will take (understandably) months to fill, but this doll was on my doorstep within two weeks of when I ordered her.  She came wearing a very simple slip-on dress:

I have her on a Poppy Parker stand, above.  None of my other stands worked for the tall Pivotal body.
Kate’s curly red hair is Tibetan lamb’s wool, glued on using the trolling method.  The hair is absolutely not meant to be brushed or even manipulated very much (which is hard for me, as you might recall).  Andrea included some scarves and hair clips with Kate that have been really helpful in controlling her fabulous mane.
When Kate is wearing one of the scarves, it’s easier to see her face:
Kate’s red hair and expressive grin remind me a lot of Nicole Marschollek’s Zwergnase child dolls (which I have coveted for ages…), but those are selling for $1,000 these days.  Kate cost me $150.
I should note that the price of the Wildflower Dolls increases as the edition nears an end.  My Kate is number 45 out of an edition of 50.  Because there are so few of these particular heads left, my doll cost more than the average Wildflower Doll.
Kate’s face is hand-painted with acrylics.  The texture of the resin in her face is slightly rougher than the smooth plastic of her body.  The style of her painted features is also quite different from anything you’d see in a mass-produced doll.  Like a painted portrait, all of the shading and detail comes together to produce very realistic features:
Kate’s freckles are amazing, and I love the high color in her cheeks.  
Kate’s head is mounted onto the Pivotal body with a gasket that retains a very good range of movement.  The painted color of Kate’s head also matches her body very well:
Before Kate had even been shipped to me, I found myself hoping for another Wildflower Doll to go with her.  
I chose the “Tara” face to be Kate’s dark-haired, fun-loving (slightly goofy) younger sister:
Tara also has a Pivotal body.  She is number 32 out of 50, so her price was lower than Kate’s at $115.  
Tara came wearing a slip-on outfit in a turquoise color that lights up her blue side-glancing eyes:
I asked Andrea to paint Tara’s blue-grey eyes so that they are looking in the opposite direction as Kate’s.
I thought Tara would be a great companion for Kate because while Kate’s smile is knowing and warm, Tara’s grin has a mischievous sparkle.
I also asked for Tara to have fewer freckles than Kate, and Andrea did a great job with this.  Tara’s freckles are more subtle than Kate’s, but equally realistic.  I also love the detailed painting in Tara’s mouth.  Teeth are notoriously hard to recreate, and these teeth are amazing:
Tara’s face also reminds me of the uninhibited, toothy-grins of the Zwergnase dolls.
This doll’s expression is downright contagious.  Every time I look at her, I find myself smiling.
She’s certainly joyful in pictures, but she’s even more of a delight in person.
Before I show off these happy sisters a little more, I want to take a moment to examine the Barbie Pivotal body in some detail.  
Here’s Kate next to one of the new articulated Barbie “Style” dolls.  As an aside, I find it a real shame that this highly articulated body is so rare in the Barbie aisle this year.
Barbie Pivotal body (left) and articulated Fashionista body (right).
The first thing I noticed is that the Fashionista body on the Style doll is shorter than Kate’s Pivotal body.  The Poppy Parker stand is too tall for the Style doll:
She’s floating.
I put both dolls into some boots so that they could balance upright and keep their relative heights:
The Pivotal body is slightly taller and more slender than the Fashionista body:  
A good way to tell these bodies apart if you’re looking at them individually is that the Fashionista body has molded underwear but the Pivotal body does not.
Most of the difference in height between these two comes from their thighs: the Pivotal thighs are much longer and thinner.
Both dolls have an upper torso joint that allows forward and backward movement:
And also side-to-side movement:
They have almost identical arm articulation, and the same shape to their hands:
The Pivotal body has elastic-banded hip joints while the Fashionista body has a plastic peg and socket style.  The Pivotal body can do fantastic side-to-side splits, while the Fashionista body can’t even come close:
Elastic joints carry the risk of stretching and deteriorating over time, but for now, this jointing gives Kate great hip flexibility.
Both bodies can do full front-to-back splits:
And both can kneel well–on one or both knees:
Both bodies can sit on the ground:
However the Pivotal legs are so long that Kate looks a little spidery sitting in this particular chair:
One thing that the Pivotal body can’t do very gracefully is sit with both legs tucked off to one side.  The Fashionista body does this nicely, but Kate can’t keep both of her knees on the ground:
For another reference, here’s Kate next to a Barbie Basic doll (left) and an Integrity ITBE basic doll (right):
Barbie Basic, Barbie Pivotal, Integrity ITBE.
I always assumed (somewhat naively) that all Barbie dolls could share clothes with one another perfectly, despite their specific articulation or body style.  This is not the case.  While Kate can wear the Barbie Style outfit, the fit is far from perfect:
The boots are tight, but can be forced onto Kate’s feet.  
The tops are too short on Kate (the tank top is not supposed to be cropped that much) but the sleeve length is decent:
The pants do not pull up all of the way (because of the long thighs) and they are baggy through the hips and at the back of the waist:
If you visit the Wildflower Dolls Flickr site , you’ll notice that Andrea often has her dolls dressed in cozy-looking sweaters of various styles.  I wanted to create a similar look for Kate and Tara, so I searched high and low for sweaters that would be nice enough for these sisters.  
I happened upon another wonderful Etsy store, Angharad Gruffyd , that carries beautifully-knitted, in-scale doll sweaters (and regular-sized knitwear, too!).  The owner of this store, Cecilia, is a complete gem and was amazingly helpful in getting me the perfect garments for my girls.  I ordered a cream-colored cardigan for Kate, and Cecilia was wise enough to know that for the Pivotal body, I would need more length in the body and sleeves than what she had in stock.  So, she knit me this gorgeous sweater…for $18.
The stitches are tiny and perfect on this cardigan.  I couldn’t find anything else even remotely like this online–especially for the price.
The neutral cream color is a great contrast to Kate’s bright hair:
Kate wearing her sweater from Angharad Gruffyd .
Here are some profile shots that I didn’t show earlier.  You can see that Kate has pierced ears, and a slightly different expression on each side of her face:
For Tara, I custom-ordered a blue cable knit sweater (with a long torso and sleeves).  This one also cost $18.
This sweater has to be pulled over Tara’s head, which made me worry a bit about her hair.  I refuse to ruin yet another curly-haired doll’s hair.  Fortunately, there’s a small, unobtrusive slit in the collar that makes it pretty easy to get this sweater on and off without frizzing Tara’s curls.
It did help to tie Tara’s hair back as I was dressing and undressing her.  This tamed hairstyle also gives me a chance to show you a clearer view of her delightful face:
I do prefer this doll with her hair left to roam free, though:
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit “Kate” and “Tara” by Wildflower Dolls

The Beatrix Girls “lark” By Popstar Club

The Toy Box Philosopher
Reviews and opinions about dolls and doll-related toys.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
The Beatrix Girls “Lark” by Popstar Club
The Beatrix Girls are 12 inch dolls that represent a group of four (teenaged?) friends who are in a band together.  Each character sings, plays an instrument, and writes music.  The girls are designed to be role models for young kids because of the talent, determination and hard work that have made their band a huge success.  The Beatrix Girls are manufactured by Popstar Club LLC, a new California-based company that plans to focus on cross-platform products.  The dolls are part of a multi-media world that includes short (live action) webisodes and tracks of pop music.
When I first saw the Beatrix Girls dolls on the shelves at Toys R Us last year, I was turned off by the huge heads and facial expressions on these characters.  Frankly, the combination of wide eyes, angrily-slanted eyebrows and large smiles made these dolls look sinister to me.  However, the body proportions on the Beatrix Girls reminded me of Pullip and Blythe dolls, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this brand might be an interesting and inexpensive alternative to some popular large-headed collector dolls.
Over the past year, many of you have encouraged me to take a second look at The Beatrix Girls.  I took your advice, and will admit that by the third or fourth time I saw these dolls in the store, the faces started to seem less angry and more appealing.  However, I was still bothered by the fact that the first release dolls did not come with their instruments (nor were the instruments originally available for separate purchase).  This was an oversight for a doll brand designed around music.  Last May, however, I was able to find a Justice exclusive version of the redheaded character, “Lark,” who actually came with her bass guitar.  I decided to purchase this doll for review and paid $24.99 for her through Amazon (where she’s now on sale for $20).  Incidentally, all of the newest Beatrix Girl dolls come with instruments, and the instruments have also recently been released in separate accessory sets.  Here’s my Lark:
Beatrix Girls “Lark” $24.99.
There are three other Beatrix Girl characters in addition to Lark.  There is Ainsley (the drummer), Brayden (the guitarist) and Chantal (the keyboard player).  As far as I can tell, there have been three releases of these characters so far: the first wave basic dolls, the Justice exclusives (which are the first wave dolls with added instruments and stands) and the newest dolls from the “London Tour” collection.
Before I review Lark, let me show you some of the other dolls that are available in stores right now.
From left to right: London Brayden, London Lark and first wave Chantal.
At my Toys R Us, both the new London collection and the first wave dolls are in stock.  The first wave dolls have been reduced to $9.99 and the newest dolls cost $19.99.
The picture below shows the new Lark doll on the left and the older Brayden doll on the right.  The new dolls have bigger boxes to accommodate the instruments and stands:

Thank goodness “Girls” isn’t spelled with a “z” in this brand!
Since the new dolls don’t have much of an online presence yet, I’ll show you a few quick pictures of them.  Here’s the new Ainsley (having some hair management problems):
The new, very purple Brayden (also with extremely big hair):
I think of Brayden as a boy’s name…

The purple lips are not my favorite.
Great lip color, but she has creepy red rims around her irises!
And here’s the newer version of the character I am going to review, Lark:
Notice that this version’s hair is curly and she has bangs:
Also at my store were the dolls’ instruments, sold separately for $12.99.  The instrument sets also include a microphone and a doll stand–everything that was missing from the first wave dolls.
Here’s Chantal’s red keyboard:
The piano keys are all one big sticker.
Ainsley’s pink drum kit:
I prefer the more detailed silver version shown in the early webisodes.
Brayden’s guitar:
And there was also a set with Lark’s bass guitar, but this is the same as the bass that came with my doll, so I’ll show that to you later.
My Lark doll is the same as the first wave Lark doll, but she comes with her bass guitar and a doll stand–so it would be like buying the first wave Lark and her instrument pack.
The Beatrix Girls come in mostly plastic packaging shaped like a partial tube:
The transparent sides of the tube are decorated with several decals.  One advertises the doll as a Justice store exclusive and another is in the shape of a speech bubble and has a little poem about Lark’s personality:
She says:
I get in your face
I’m in every race and 
I come in first place.
When I imagine role models for young girls, I don’t picture them getting all up in people’s faces, but maybe I’m just old fashioned.
There was something about the simplistic rhyming and disconnected subject matter in this poem that made me morbidly curious about what the other girls’ poems might say.  So, I did some field research.  
Here’s Ainsley’s poem:
I shine like the sun,
But my drumming’s like thunder!
I like what they did with the sun and thunder contrast, but I am not crazy about the “warm like mid-summer” analogy.  I know what they’re getting at, with Ainsley’s warm personality, but I can only think of the sweaty kind of warm.  I guess this is better than “lazy like mid-summer,” though.
They lost a little steam with Brayden’s poem:
Hey! I’m Brayden
I write the songs,
You sing along!
It feels a little bit like Brayden couldn’t think of what to say next, so she just shouted “SUPERSTAR!” and then started ordering people around.  
They gave up completely with poor Chantal’s poem:
I’m Chantal
Oui, oui!
Apparently, Chantal is French Canadian.  This is cool, but Chantal’s high-pitched fake French accent in the Beatrix Girls webisodes is not so cool.  It would have been neat to have an actual French Canadian girl play that role, but I understand that the budget was probably limited.
I was moved to write my own little poem for you:
I’m Emily!
Do I like Chantal’s poem?
Do I like her fake French accent?
No! No!
Anyway, there are a lot of tangents here, and I am getting a little snippy–sorry.  I need to focus.  
The back of the box is made out of transparent plastic that reveals an underlying cardboard backdrop. The cardboard has some more details about Lark and the Beatrix Girls:
Irish ancestry would explain Lark’s bright red hair, and also her food preferences and apparent fondness for Boston:
Girl after my own heart.
I like all of these things except for baked beans.  Those remind me of another simple poem.
There’s a descriptive paragraph about Lark on the back of the box.  She explains in her own words why she enjoys the bass (because it “shakes the ground”) and also introduces her passion for extreme sports.  
Lark’s fashion preferences include ripped jeans, combat boots and wearing “sneakers with everything.”  Incidentally, this doll isn’t wearing ripped jeans, combat boots, or sneakers.  And I don’t see how she can wear sneakers “with everything” if she also enjoys combat boots from time-to-time.  Hm.  Also, she claims to steer away from pink, but pink is the only accent color in her mostly-black outfit.
There’s a small cartoon of Lark under this description.  I think the doll looks way better than the box art:
There’s a picture at the bottom of the box that shows all of the dolls in the series.  
For contrast, here’s the group picture from the newer London collection:
The dolls in the store all had hair that was much curlier than this.
Lark’s box has a purple satiny ribbon on the top.  This was meant to be a handle for the box, but mine arrived untied:
There are a few pieces of tape that had to be cut at the top of the box, but then it was possible to remove the lid and slide the doll and the backdrop right out.  
Lark and her bass guitar are attached to a molded plastic support. Most of the attachments are stretchy clear rubber bands that are easy to cut, but Lark also has a clear plastic strip tightened around her forehead.  The majority of Lark’s long red hair actually goes through the plastic support and hangs down between the plastic and where the cardboard used to be. This method kept the hair very tidy in back:
The bass fits into an indentation in the plastic, and is also secured with tape:
In addition to her guitar, Lark comes with a “VIP pass” that allows free membership to something.  I haven’t been able to find a club or any other exclusive online content on the Beatrix Girls website.  This is probably a discontinued feature, since it appears that all of the videos and music are available free-of-charge on the website.
I didn’t spend a ton of time on the Beatrix Girls website, but I did listen to a few of the songs and watched most of the webisodes.  The webisodes have a home movie-type style, where the dolls themselves are interacting with real people in live-action adventures.  When the dolls move, it isn’t stop action animation, but visible hands moving the characters around.  This style takes some getting used to, but it would be easy and low-tech to replicate, which might provide nice inspiration for kids who want to make their own movies.
The earlier webisodes seem to be featuring prototype dolls.  There are some notable difference between these dolls and the dolls that ended up on store shelves.  I will touch on a few of these differences throughout the review.  Also, Ainsley’s character starts out with a regular voice and then adopts a Southern accent in the more recent episodes.
I am not good at gauging someone’s age from their voice, but the girls in the webisodes sound like tweens or teens (especially Brayden) while the singing voices seem older to me.
Back to Lark!  My doll came with a plastic stand that is secured into the bottom of the packaging:
Usually when I display everything that comes in a doll box, I am able to get the doll to stand alone–even if it’s just for a few seconds.  Lark absolutely cannot stand on her own, though.  Even with her shoes on and a lot of careful balancing.  Her head is simply too heavy:
So, I had to figure out how to use the stand right away.  It’s a fairly simple stand with a hard plastic waist grip.  The waist grip is not adjustable, but it does spin around:
The stand fits snugly around Lark’s waist, but it interferes with the positioning of her belt:

I was especially eager to get a close look at Lark’s face.  In particular, I wanted to cover up those severe eyebrows to see if that might make a difference in her expression.
Not only are Lark’s eyebrows unusually angled, but her eyes are really enormous.  She has very bright leaf-green eyes with large black pupils.  The absence of detail in her irises gives her an especially intense stare.  She has heavy eyeliner on her upper eyelids, and individually-drawn lashes on the lower lids:
Lark also has a lot of very small freckles that are scattered across both of her cheeks and between her eyes.  Her smiling mouth has simple lines and a wide band of visible teeth:
Lark’s triangular, upturned nose is absurdly small in comparison to her eyes.  The combination of this pointy nose and the huge forehead make for a very atypical profile: 
Lark’s ears are also visible in the picture, above.  Her ears are small and have a very simplistic shape that reminds me of a teddy bear’s ears:
Here’s Lark’s face with her hair out of the way:
I removed Lark’s eyebrows from one of the pictures, below, to see how it would alter her appearance:
To me, this is a dramatic transformation.  I think that without her eyebrows, she looks friendly and even a little sweet.  Her green eyes are still a bit too big and bright for my taste, but I find them much less startling without those eyebrows.  
I think perhaps the intent with these eyebrows was to make Lark look a little edgy–a girl with some attitude.  That’s fine, but there’s not a consistently edgy feel to this doll, so the eyebrows seem out-of-place.  Also, you don’t actually have to be edgy to play a mean bass guitar.
I did a quick digital eyebrow replacement to see how Lark might look if I ever muster up the courage to re-paint her:
I’ll need to work on that.
While looking at Lark’s face, I was constantly sidetracked by her long hair.  I didn’t think much about this doll’s hair when I bought her–other than the fact that it’s a beautiful bright red color, of course.  When the doll’s in my hands, however, it’s hard to think of anything but her hair.
Lark has great hair.  Not only is the two-toned color very pretty, but the hair fiber feels really good and the cut is unique and flattering:
The hair is long and silky–hanging all of the way down to Lark’s ankles.  It is cut into a variety of  jagged layers that give the style a rugged-but-feminine quality:
I especially like the shorter layers around Lark’s face because they tend to hang over her eyes and give her a charmingly disheveled look:
Unfortunately, the shorter layers of hair around Lark’s face can also shift around in such a way that the rooted scalp is visible:
There was a mild amount of crispy hair product in the upper layers of Lark’s hair, but this was easy to brush out.  Here’s the hair right after I finished brushing it:
The hair is rooted into a nice center part on the top of Lark’s head (this is a good place to see the two-toned color of her hair, too…):
But the sparse rooting on the back of the head makes it unrewarding to style Lark’s hair into smaller ponytails:
Here’s another view of the rooting on the back of the head:
The hair feels pleasantly thick and heavy, though, and can be styled with small clips and barrettes:
The hair can also handle a high, tight ponytail in back:
The shorter layers are hard to contain in this style of ponytail, though, and will fall out and hang around Lark’s face after a while (which looks pretty cute):
Overall, I really like this hair.  I especially enjoy the silky feel of the hair fiber and the long, textured layers.  I am not tempted by any of the new Beatrix Girls because none of them have straight, smooth hair like this doll.  The curly hair might be equally well-done, but I tend to prefer the easy maintenance of straight hair on this grade of play doll.
Lark is wearing a black belted dress over ripped leggings:
In the early webisodes, the Lark doll is wearing ripped jeans, a sporty green shirt and what look like Converse-style sneakers.  Here are some screen shots from the “Late, Great Beatrix” webisode:
I think this casual style fits Lark’s personality better than a lacy black dress with pink accents.  If I ignore my perception of Lark’s personality, though, I like the dress for what it is.
The belt has a silver metal chain accent against a mostly-pink background:
The skirt has a full top layer made out of black lace with a hint of glitter in it.  Under the lace, there’s a tighter-fitting plain black underskirt:
The black knit leggings peek out from under the skirt and have pink satin ribbon trim on the cuffs:
The leggings have several intentional rips in them.  The knitting near these holes is beginning to unravel in some areas.  The holes also make the leggings difficult to get onto the doll–her feet want to poke through the ripped holes rather than the pant legs.
The belt is completely separate from the dress and opens in back with a small square of velcro:
This is a very cool belt.  I love how the chain is actually made out of metal.
The stitching looks chunky on the inside of the belt, but that’s just to accommodate the thick links of the chain:
The black dress opens all of the way down in the back with velcro, so it’s very easy to get on and off.
I love how this dress is all black, but has several contrasting textures that make it interesting.  I especially like the scrolling corded trim on the bodice and sleeves:
The leggings have a fairly tight, but slightly flexible waistband.  The ribbon-trimmed cuffs are also a little tight and have to be pushed over Lark’s calves.
Lark’s outfit also includes black plastic boots:
The design of the boots is simple, but they compliment the style of the outfit, are easy to get on and off, and stay on well.
I wonder if the area at the top is meant to be black socks?
I have to point out again, though, that these are neither sneakers nor combat boots.  Maybe they’re meant to be high-heeled shoes inspired by combat boots…?
Not approved by the Navy SEALS.
Lark is also wearing a hard plastic bracelet with a silver-painted stud pattern.  This bracelet has a tiny plastic peg-and-hole clasp:
So, given Lark’s completely black outfit and its mix of materials, I assumed that her body would be pretty badly stained in some areas.  I was particularly worried about the dark (tight-fitting) knit leggings.  However, miraculously, she is almost entirely stain-free.  I have no idea how the Popstar Club manufacturers pulled this off, but it’s remarkable.
The absence of stains was not my only surprise when I inspected Lark’s body.  She was also hiding nine points of articulation under that dress:
Lark’s body is made mostly out of hard plastic, but her arms and lower legs are flexible vinyl.  Her bendable legs and tiny feet make it hard for her to stand upright–even in her stand or while being held.  For that reason, you’ll see her shoes crop up again in several of these pictures to help with balance.
Lark is articulated at the neck, shoulders, elbows, waist, hips and knees:
Notice her unusual-looking hip joints!
She is not articulated at the wrists, which wouldn’t be such a big deal except for the fact that the dolls in the early webisodes are shown with awesome wrist articulation.  I took a few (low-quality) screen shots of this for you:
You can even see the metal pin construction of the wrist joint in this last picture:
Articulation at the wrist seems like an especially good idea for musician dolls, and I wish the company hadn’t cut this feature.  I double-checked the newest dolls and they don’t have wrist articulation, either.
Lark has an exaggerated hourglass figure that looks appropriate for a mature adult.  This is slightly odd because the voices of the Beatrix Girls on the website sound like kids to me–or maybe young teenagers.  The singing voices are more adult, though, so there’s a moderate amount of contradiction here.
Lark’s back is marked with a 2012 Popstar Club copyright:
I used Lark’s stand for several of these body shots, and in doing so noticed that it has a little head rest at the back–to support Lark’s oversized head:
Good idea!
This is a clever little feature that really helps Lark stand upright.  However, when I turn Lark’s head to the side (her head can spin around but doesn’t look up or down) it disengages the head brace…
…and the rotating waist grip causes Lark to levitate sideways:
It’s a cartwheel stand!
The rotating waist grip certainly makes Lark less secure on her stand, but it might be fun for some unconventional posing.  I’ll have to check that out a little later.  In any case, it’s a good thing that the newer releases of these dolls come with stands.  It’s quite an essential accessory given the weight and size of the heads.
Larks’ shoulders and elbows both have rotating hinge joints:
Right out of the box, Lark’s elbows (and to a lesser extent her shoulders) were hard to move.  It takes a few gentle manipulations to get these joints up to speed.
The shoulders and elbows are both fairly stiff joints, even after they have been moved around for a while.  The shoulders have a good range of motion, but the elbow joints are pretty limited–they can only flex to about 140 degrees.  The elbow flexibility is noticeably reduced from what is depicted in the earlier webisodes (the commercials and the later webisodes are accurate, though).
Webisode articulation.
Actual articulation.
Lark can’t touch her face, nor can she reach up and touch the side of her head.  The best she can do is touch the loose strands of hair that are falling near her face.
The only place on Lark’s body that has any staining is the back of her arms.  This area doesn’t come into contact with any of the dark clothes–just the colored cardboard backdrop:
Looks kinda like mildew.
Lark’s waist is a simple pivoting joint:
The cut of this joint is angled, so that when Lark twists to face backwards, her chest tips up:
The hip area is the most unique region of this doll’s anatomy.  The hip sockets are very high-cut and have an oval shape:
This unusual shape gives the legs a great deal of forward and sideways flexibility, but not much movement past the buttocks in the back:
Lark can do very high leg kicks to the front:
And she can also lean forward really well when she’s seated on the floor.  She can’t touch her toes or anything like that, but this is a great reach for a doll whose knees are positioned so close together:
She can also sit up nice and straight in this position…with a little support from her arms:
To show off a little, she can even lift one knee while she’s seated on the ground like this:
Lark’s large hip hinges allow her to do very nice side-to-side splits:
But she struggles a little with the front-to-back splits because of her heavy head and her reduced backwards leg movement:
Lark’s knee joints are also rotating hinges:
Her lower legs are made out of flexible vinyl, which gives them some additional movement. The legs are not as rubbery as Bratzillaz or Bratz doll legs, though.
I love rotating knee joints, because they allow for a lot of fine-tuning in how a doll stands or sits.
Lark’s flexible legs make it so she can kneel and balance on her own:
Lark has a bit of a hard time sitting in a chair, though–or at least in this slippery plastic chair.  If she grabs the back of the chair with her knees bent (left, below) the chair tips over backwards almost instantly.  I was fortunate to capture that shot just as she started to fall.  If she sticks her legs out and grabs the back of the chair (right, below), she can sit without falling over :
She can also lean forward to keep her balance in a chair, but this looks less relaxing:
Notice how messy Lark’s hair was getting in the photo, above.  This is because it was truly a wrestling match to get her to pose in that chair.  She must have fallen over fifteen times in five minutes.
A little late in the game, I realized that with her hair down, Lark has much better balance.  That heavy ponytail was not helping her:
See, Emily?  I was born to sit in this chair.
The dolls I was most interested in comparing to Lark were my large-headed collector’s dolls like Pullip, Tangkou and Blythe:
Tangkou “Loli,” Beatrix Girls “Lark,” Pullip “Shinku Rozen Maiden.”
My Tangkou doll, Loli , is broader and taller than Lark, but the Pullip doll, Shinku Rozen Maiden, looks fairly similar in proportion.  Pullip’s body is a bit too big for Lark’s dress, but I wonder if Dal-sized Groove dolls would be compatible?   I no longer have a Dal in the house, so I can’t confirm this.
Here’s Lark next to my (skeptical) Blythe doll, Phoebe:
Beatrix Girls “Lark,” Blythe “Phoebe Maybe.”
Phoebe is a little wider in the chest and hips than Lark, and so while Blythe clothes fit loosely on Lark, Lark’s dress is too tight for Blythe dolls (it doesn’t close all of the way in back).
I think Lark’s face looks especially angular and harsh next to the eyebrow-free Phoebe.
I also wanted to compare Lark to another inexpensive large-headed play doll, my Cutie Pops Crown Cuties Crystalina :
I really love the Cutie Pops concept and am sad to see them gone from my local stores.  I also prefer the Cutie Pop faces to Lark’s harsh expression.  However, I’ll readily admit that Lark’s articulation is far superior.  
Beatrix Girls and Cutie Pops have similar enough proportions that they can share some clothes.  The Cutie Pop dress doesn’t do much for Lark’s style…
…but I really like Crystalina in Lark’s more sophisticated dress.  Looking at this combination makes me wonder: if Jada Toys had aimed the Cutie Pops at an older audience, would they have been more successful?
While the La Dee Da dolls also have small bodies and oversized heads, Dee and Lark are very different in size and cannot share clothes:
Lark reminded me a bit of Disney’s Ariel doll , too…until I saw these two side-by-side:
Not too much in common here.
Going out on a limb, I also wanted to compare Lark to Monster High and Ever After High dolls.  I was surprised to see that while Monster High Clawdeen looks very skinny next to Lark, Ever After High Apple is in the same body size range:
And, in fact, Lark can share some clothes with the Ever After High gang:
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit The Beatrix Girls “Lark” by Popstar Club

“zaria” And “kaila” By Double Dutch Dolls

The Toy Box Philosopher
Reviews and opinions about dolls and doll-related toys.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
“Zaria” and “Kaila” by Double Dutch Dolls
Stephanie emailed me over the summer to tell me about Double Dutch Dolls , a new company that is producing multicultural, articulated (!), slim-proportioned 18 inch play dolls.  The company’s founder, K. Charles , grew up reading Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume books–wishing that there were similar fictional characters who looked like her.  Unsatisfied with the current market, Ms. Charles decided to write her own books about spunky, smart, unique and beautiful teens from a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  The characters in these stories were so real to her, that Ms. Charles decided to turn them into high-quality 18 inch play dolls.
At the moment, only the main characters from K. Charles’ book series are available in doll form.  These are Kaila and Zaria, identical 14-year-old twins who are navigating the challenges of middle school together.  With  Kickstarter funding success, the company hopes to introduce a full line of doll characters, including Kaila’s best friend Sacha, Zaria’s Hispanic friend Alainna, Zaria’s Irish/German/Asian lab partner Kadence, and (my favorite!) the redheaded African-American and Norwegian girl, Trinity.
After reading the website and looking at the dolls, I instantly wanted to get involved and support this wonderful project.  My experience with these dolls is a bit of an epic tale, though.  It all started back on August 9th, the day of Stephanie’s email, when I ordered Zaria.  However, almost two months later, I am the proud owner of both Zaria and her twin sister.  And Zaria is sporting a new wig.  I’ll tell you the whole story, of course, but let me start by showing you the beautiful twins as they look today:
Zaria (left, re-wigged) and visit the website Kaila (right) by Double Dutch Dolls.  $69.00 each.
Zaria and Kaila are identical twins, so the dolls have the exact same face mold.  When I first started shopping, I figured I only needed one of the twins, and the choice was pretty simple for me.  Kaila is the fashion-conscious sister who is on the cheerleading squad and has her own line of clothing called “Double Dutch.”  Zaria is the science-lover who plays soccer, is good at math and wants to go to medical school.  Can you guess which was my favorite?
I also chose Zaria because I liked her non-pink outfit and her wonderfully exuberant curly wig.  I haven’t seen a wig like this on any other doll.  However, my biggest hesitation in purchasing Zaria was also her wig.  As you might remember, I don’t have much skill or intuition with curly wigs .
Still, I put aside my wig concerns and ordered Zaria.  She cost $69, which is a good price for a high-quality doll in this scale.  Comparable dolls, like Kidz ‘n’ Cats or A Girl for All Time, cost $100-$200.  Online ordering was easy, the communication from the company was excellent, and Zaria arrived very quickly.  She came packaged in a cardboard window box with a pink-themed design:
Zaria herself was looking down in the box (almost like she was feeling a little shy) so I focused on reading the information on the back of the box.  At the top, there’s a picture of the twins: 
Kaila (left) and Zaria (right).
My son points out that this is a computer-generated image.  I guess he can tell because the two girls’ faces are identical.  The only difference between them is in the style of their hair–Kaila’s hair is straight and Zaria’s is wavy.  
There’s a paragraph introducing Zaria and Kaila, and a short mention of the book and website:
I have to say, as a person who thinks about names a lot, I love that the twins are called Zaria and Kaila.  These are both slightly unusual names that sound pretty to my ears.  The names also go together very well, with their similar vowel sounds, strong consonant start, and five-letter length.  There are minor punctuation flaws in this text that I find distracting, though.  It’s fine for a back-of-the-box blurb, but as an advertisement for a book series, it could have used another round of editing.
At the very bottom of the box, there’s a bulleted list of a few more details about the dolls–including the fact that they have posable arms and legs.  Yay!
I am also excited about the “hip fashion clothes and accessories” that will be available.
I also purchased the first book in the series, Double Dare.  The cover of this book has the same graphic image of the twins that’s on the back of the box:
This is a cute story, and it gave me a descriptive and memorable sense of Zaria and Kaila’s contrasting personalities.  I am not the target audience for this book, but I did appreciate how the twins’ parents are portrayed.  I also respect how the author avoids a two-dimensional portrayal of the antagonist (Trinity) by showing her differently from each twin’s perspective.  The plot is far from original (twins secretly trading places with one another) but watching these new characters navigate the familiar scenario is entertaining–if painfully awkward at times.  As with the back-of-box writing, the punctuation and sentence structure in this book tripped me up on several occasions.  
The doll came attached to a five-sided pink cardboard backdrop:
She was held in place with two wire ties that were easy to untwist and remove:
The wire around the doll’s neck and ankles was wrapped in thin white foam padding:
When I tilted Zaria’s head upwards, so that I could finally see her face, I was struck by how stunningly pretty and unique-looking she is:
Even after she was freed from her box, Zaria still had the white foam wrapped around her neck and ankles.  I quickly cut these strips off with scissors.
Here’s Zaria’s face again:

I think that the combination of this doll’s fine facial features and dramatically full wig is especially interesting:
The wig has long, distinct ringlet curls. The texture of the hair is thick and soft–almost like mohair or fine wool.  All of the hair is not contained perfectly within the ringlets, though. There are frizzy areas in between and at the bottom of many of the corkscrew curls:
Zaria has some shorter bangs at the top of her head, but these are pulled back away from her face and secured with a single full-size bobby pin:
The elastic edge of the wig cap is visible in some areas where the bangs have been pinned back:
The wig has densely-spaced rows of hair fiber and seems to be very well-made:
I really love how the rich curls on this wig frame Zaria’s narrow face:
To get a better look at Zaria’s head mold, I had to pull her hair back into a huge, thick ponytail.  Zaria has very large, wide-set, almond-shaped brown eyes.  There’s a vaguely alien quality to these eyes.  Zaria’s nose is realistic and narrow and her dark burgundy lips are slightly parted with the hint of a smile.  I think her face looks quite beautiful from the front.  Her narrow chin, lip shape and delicate nose remind me of the young actress Bianca Santos …but Bianca’s eyes are much smaller.
I don’t think Zaria’s features look as good in full profile.  The biggest problem is in the angle of her chin and jaw.  The pointed tip of the chin merges very abruptly into a slanted jawline.  I think maybe if the angle of the jaw was less severe, the chin would look a little fuller and more youthful.
However, I think Zaria looks amazing in half-profile:
Her ears are pierced!
Her chin looks much better from this angle.  In addition, this view accentuates the expertly-sculpted nose and the pretty shape of the mouth.
Zaria’s eyes are inset and fixed in place.  They are highlighted by fine, realistic, applied lashes on the top lids.  Her painted eyebrows do not have any brush-stroke detail, but they are elegantly arched and complement the shape of her eyes really well.  She also has eye shadow around her eyes, painted in the same color as her eyebrows.  I like the cat eye style of this makeup, but I am not sure it’s something Zaria would take the time to apply every morning?
Zaria’s eyes are light brown and have nice iris detail.  The eyes are hard to photograph.  Even when I manage to get the focus right, they appear ever-so-slightly foggy:
I really like the shape and color of Zaria’s mouth.  She has a bow-shaped upper lip and a thicker lower lip.  While there are no visible teeth, it looks from some angles like Zaria is about to open her mouth and say something.
Zaria comes in a sporty outfit that fits her personality nicely:
She’s wearing star-spangled denim shorts, a white tank top and a black hoodie sweatshirt:
The sweatshirt has a decal with the Double Dutch Dolls logo:
The Double Dutch slogan is “so Cool, so Cute, so You!”  With an odd mix of lowercase and capital letters.  I suppose many doll slogans are similar, but this reminds me of Lalaloopsy’s “Sew Magical!  Sew cute!”  
The hoodie sweatshirt is very well-made and feels like a perfect miniature of a full-sized garment.  It has a real metal zipper, an elastic hem, and carefully serged seams:
Under the sweatshirt, Zaria is wearing a white tank top with “Double Dutch Dolls” written in cursive across the front.  The shirt has a full velcro seam in the back.
This cotton knit shirt is also very ruggedly and realistically constructed:
The denim shorts are also expertly constructed, with little belt loops, working pockets and carefully turned hems:
Look at the stitched detail in the back:
With two more working pockets:
The shorts have a velcro fly, which is not my favorite closure for pants (zipper and snap would be more realistic) but this style is very easy to use.

These star shorts did not strike me as very trendy when I first saw them, but I have been told that this type of pattern is, indeed, quite popular these days.  My mistake!  Mind you, I am probably the farthest thing from a fashion genius that there is.   
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t think too much about the creative design of these clothes, especially since they’re so well-made.  However, Kaila is meant to be a fashion genius, and she makes all of the twins’ clothing, so this puts the creative design of the outfits under more scrutiny.   Zaria’s whole outfit seems plain compared to what I’d expect from the sister of a gifted teenaged fashion designer.
Zaria’s footwear seems more funky than the rest of her outfit.  She is wearing knee-high black socks and colorful flower-patterned sneakers:
The shoes are great.  I love the lively, feminine print combined with the practical, Converse-style of the sneaker.
The shoes are made out of canvas and, like the rest of the outfit, are durably and accurately constructed–with little metal eyes for the red laces and everything:
The style and construction of these sneakers reminds me of the Extra Special Doll shoes that came with my Gracie .
Sadly, the black socks have left some pretty bad stains on Zaria’s legs and feet:
I contacted Double Dutch Dolls to let them know about this problem, and they were friendly, concerned and responsive.  They told me they are already talking to the manufacturers about a solution.  With new small companies like this one, I feel very sympathetic to this type of issue.  The dolls are essentially a first draft, and I imagine there’s a steep learning curve in all of the nuances of doll production.  I feel pretty optimistic that they will quickly find a solution to this problem.
Under all of her clothes, Zaria is wearing simple white knit underpants:
Zaria’s body is made out of hard vinyl and has eleven points of articulation.  Her joints are elastic-strung, and the stringing work is very well done on my doll.  She has just the right balance of tension and flexibility.  Zaria has a slender, realistic body shape that I think is attractive from all angles:
Zaria balances very well on her own, with and without her shoes.
Zaria’s shoulder joints allow her to lift her arms up and hold them out away from her body:
This position reveals a bit more dark staining from the black sweatshirt:
The elbow and wrists joints are straight-cut and can each bend to about a 140 degree angle in any direction:
The hands have long, slender fingers and bright pink nail polish:
I wish the nail polish was darker, like Zaria’s lips
…or absent
Zaria cannot touch her face with her hands, but she can just barely touch the top of her head.
Zaria can’t quite hold her hands together in front of her body on her own, but the joints are flexible enough to stretch the hands into that position temporarily.  The joints are also stiff enough to hold the arms in several positions away from the body.  Zaria is the kind of doll that has good static posing flexibility, but who can also be manipulated into many more temporary positions during play.
Zaria’s neck joint is also strung, so she can look up, down, all around, and can tilt her head from side-to-side:
Zaria is very good at sitting on the ground:
And can even bend one leg slightly for a more natural sitting pose:
She has a slightly “kicky” left leg that has trouble settling into a split position…
…but it can be made to behave pretty easily:
As I was positioning Zaria into her graceful front-to-back split position, a bit of hair fell out:
This actually happened pretty regularly throughout the review, but I figured instead of cleaning the hair up every time, I should show you what was going on:
The frequency of these hair loss moments decreased throughout the review, so I suspect the shedding would have stopped eventually (and Zaria has plenty of hair to spare…) but it did cause a fair amount of mess.
Here’s another split pose with the hair cleaned away:

Zaria’s knee joints can also hold a bend of about 140 degrees…
…which is not enough for her to kneel:
but is enough bend for her to sit nicely in a chair or on a bench:
Zaria can strike and hold a good variety of poses for an 18 inch elastic-strung doll.  In fact, she has the best flexibility of any doll in this class that I own.
For her size and body construction, the two dolls most similar to Zaria are A Girl for All Time’s Clementine , and Sonja Hartmann’s Kidz ‘n’ Cats play dolls :
From left to right: Clementine, Zaria, Evita.
Zaria’s slender body shape is most similar to Clementine, but the two dolls’ joints behave quite differently.
Zaria can easily out-pose Clementine.  Clementine’s knee joints do not hold their bent position at all, while her elbow joints can’t stay straight.  Also, Clem is lacking the wrist articulation that makes Zaria so expressive:
I liked that pose, above, so much I had to get another shot:
Balancing all on her own.
Clem can wear Zaria’s shorts nicely, but the shoes are too small:
I could force the shoe on, but it’s very tight in the heel.
Both of Zaria’s tops fit Clementine, and Zaria is one of the lucky few who can wear Clementine’s exquisite chiffon dress:
There’s no such luck sharing clothes with my other slim 18 inch dolls, though.  Evita’s skirt and top both hang loose on Zaria, and Zaria’s clothes are all tight on Evie:
Stephanie mentioned when she first told me about Double Dutch Dolls that she thought they resembled the discontinued BFC Ink dolls.  She’s right–the body shapes are very similar:
Kailtin (right) is curvier with slender limbs.
However, the BFC dolls are slimmer in the arms and legs to the extent that Zaria can’t even pull Kaitlin’s top on past her hands:
Zaria’s clothes are loose are Kaitlin, too–especially the shorts.
Even with short-sleeved BFC tops, the fit through the chest is too tight on Zaria.
Just for reference, here’s Zaria next to an American Girl doll :
There is a significant difference in proportion here, so I didn’t even try swapping clothes with these two.  Journey Girls are closer in size, but even those clothes are a bit big on Zaria.
Update 10/07/14: I forgot to compare Zaria to Carpatina dolls , which are actually quite close in size.  Here are some additional pictures (many thanks to those who reminded me to do this!):
Zaria and Carpatina “Erin.”
The biggest differences between the two are in the face and the torso.  Zaria has more mature body contours, and her face and eyes are more angular.
I only have one Carpatina outfit (the Guinevere dress) but it fits Zaria very well.  The laces on the side of the dress help achieve a great fit.  Even though these two dolls look like they have similar arms lengths, the sleeves on Erin’s dress are quite long on Zaria.
Since Erin is the larger of the two dolls, Zaria’s clothes are pretty tight on her.  The shirts, in particular, look too small:
Zaria can wear Erin’s slippers, but they’re very big.  Erin can squeeze into Zaria’s shoes, but they’re too tight.
I think Zaria looks really pretty in Erin’s dress!
After comparing Zaria to these other dolls, I put her back into her original clothes and tried to work with her hair a little bit.  I wanted to see if I could relax the tight ringlet curls and make her look more like the pictures on the Double Dutch Dolls website.  I should never do this kind of thing, though, and I don’t know why I can’t learn from my mistakes.
I used my fingers to scruntch the curls (I didn’t even touch a brush–promise!).  This made the hair look messier, and it also increased the amount of shedding:
You can see that I didn’t do much to loosen the ringlets, they’re just slightly less distinct than they were at the beginning:
Here’s the hair right out of the box again for comparison:
And here’s the little pile of hair that this project produced:
In retrospect, I should have just stopped playing with the hair.  My Zaria didn’t look quite like the website pictures, but she still had pretty awesome hair:
However, I wanted to take Zaria outside for a final photo shoot, so I tried putting her hair back into a ponytail to keep it from casting shadows on her face:
But the more I styled the hair, the worse it seemed to get.  I just couldn’t find a nice way to arrange this very thick mane.  The back of the ponytail started to look unacceptably messy to me:
So…I did a bad thing.
Nice move, Emily.
I gave poor Zaria the worst haircut ever.  I mean, this was an absolute train wreck of a haircut:
Like something I’d have done when I was four.
So…I emailed Double Dutch Dolls to ask if they sold replacement wigs for this doll.  They don’t, but they were super-nice, sympathetic and helpful.  They offered to replace Zaria (!!) but also gently suggested that I might prefer Kaila’s straight, styleable hair.  They explained to me that Zaria’s wig is designed to relax (over time) into more natural curls.  My bad.
Since Zaria’s hair calamity was entirely my fault, I did not accept the replacement doll.  Instead, I bought Kaila, figuring that she could fill in for her sister in the final photo shoot–they are identical twins, after all!  Also, I figured that this way I would get a chance to show you both of the Double Dutch Dolls.  After ordering Kaila, I went online and picked out a few potential replacement wigs for Zaria, too.
Kaila arrived long before Zaria’s new wigs:
Her face is exactly the same as Zaria’s, but it’s neat how the straight hair gives her quite a different look:
The wig is beautiful and easy to brush and style.  It has a center part rooted into a skin-like section of the wig cap–similar to some of the My Twinn wigs.
Very realistic!
Kaila is wearing a pink version of the hoodie sweatshirt that Zaria came in:
Under the sweatshirt, she is wearing a pink tee shirt dress with a face on the front.  The dress is very short and looks a little bit like a nightgown to me.  Again, there’s no edgy fashion design vibe to this outfit.
Kaila is wearing the same sneakers as Zaria, but her knee-high socks are black (uh-oh…) with white stars on them.  These socks match Zaria’s shorts.  With my doll, the left sock has stars with a yellow tinge.  They look like they should glow in the dark:
They don’t.
As expected, Kaila has the same dark stains on her legs:
The twins’ outfits have great mix-and-match potential, so I assembled my favorite pieces of clothing (Zaria’s shirt and shorts with Kaila’s sweatshirt), re-dressed Kaila, and took her out on an cloudless 80 degree weekend day to show her the ocean: 
Kaila had only just started to investigate the rock formations on this spectacular beach when my family opted to move on and grab some lunch.
Two days later, I brought Kaila back to the same beach to let her explore some more, but as you can see, this day was not quite as summery.
I thought the sky was blue!
We hugged the rocks, trying to take shelter from the biting wind.  Both the colors and the temperature felt a lot more like fall on this particular day!
Kaila’s curiosity got the best of the weather, and she ventured out on some rock climbing excursions:
I think Kaila enjoyed how the rocks gave her a good backdrop for posing:
As I was finishing up this review, Zaria’s new wigs finally came in the mail, so I figured I would quickly re-wig her and show you how that project turned out.
This is a Monique synthetic “Arielle” wig in black (size 10-11):
It’s nowhere near as thick or dramatic as Zaria’s original wig:
Original wig (left) and Monique wig (right).
But it looks more like Zaria’s hair from the cover art of the book:
The other wig I got is a Playhouse synthetic “Liza” wig in dark brown (also size 10-11):
Original wig (left) and Playhouse wig (right).
I like the dark brown color of the second wig, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as soft as the Monique wig, and the curls are very thin and shiny.
I don’t like either of the replacement wigs as much as Zaria’s original wig.  They are not as well-made, and not as special.
Here’s Zaria back in the Monique wig, which is what I am going to keep her in: 
The curls on the new wig look wimpy compared to the original–there’s a lot of visible daylight between them.  I tried to fluff up the curls a little bit, but I was so nervous about over-manipulating the hair this time that I don’t think I made much of a difference.  
I like how this new wig also has center part that is rooted in a skin-colored wig cap.  It makes Zaria resemble her sister in yet another way.  The color of the new wig is darker than Kaila’s wig, though.
With Zaria’s new wig glued down, I decided to make one last trip to the beach to photograph the twins together. 
Zaria is backlit in the picture below because I was trying to capture the enormous waves that were crashing onto the rocks…making me a bit nervous about the impending high tide:
We sought out some slightly higher ground, where Zaria seemed right at home climbing all over the boulders:
With all of the manipulation and posing, Zaria’s new wig started to relax a bit more at this point, too:
Kaila’s short skirt limited her climbing options…
…but as the sun came out in force, both girls were happy to ditcth their sneakers and dip their feet into the tidal pools:
Zaria is clearly the more adventurous of the pair, because even as we were hiking back to the car, she insisted on stopping to climb this tree (barefoot!) to get one last peek at the ocean:
Bottom line?  I didn’t start out with the intention of reviewing both of these Double Dutch twins, but I am actually really happy to have the pair, and I find the small differences between them quite interesting.  First, I’ll go over the things about these two dolls that are the same (their faces, bodies and articulation) and then I will contrast the qualities that differ from twin to twin (the clothing and hair).
Face: when I first opened Zaria’s box, I think there was an audible gasp. Her face is beautiful in a striking and unusual way.  I think the dark makeup and dramatic hair combine with Zaria’s exotic features to make a very bold first impression.  On closer inspection, I noticed that her eyes are oversized and her chin has a mature, angular profile.  I sill think her face is wonderful to look at, refreshingly unique, and very photogenic.  Zaria and Kaila have the exact same face mold and face paint.  Their different hairstyles keep the twins distinct, but I think it would have been nice to also have some slight differences their coloring.  For example, I don’t picture Zaria wearing much (if any) makeup, and I suspect Kaila would have a more flashy, youthful style.  I hope future Double Dutch releases have new face molds–not because I don’t like this one, but because I’d love to see how the different girls’ ethnicities are represented.
Body and articulation: both dolls have an articulated all-vinyl body that is strung with elastic.  My two dolls are very well-strung with just the right amount of tension in their joints.  The body shape is slender and has a believable physique for a fourteen-year-old girl.  The slim proportions and all-vinyl construction also make this body great for showing off a variety of clothing styles.  I have a few other 18 inch dolls that are constructed in a similar way to Zaria and Kaila, but none of them move, balance, or hold poses as well as these Double Dutch Dolls.  The movement is not as good as it would be on a hinge-jointed doll, but it is the best example of strung play doll articulation that I have seen.  I am very happy with the body style and movement of these two dolls.
Clothing: overall, the clothing is extremely well-made and has excellent detail.  The construction and fabric choices make each item seem like a miniature replica of a full-sized garment.  Unfortunately, the darker items (Zaria’s black sweatshirt and both girls’ socks) did not have any protective packaging, and left permanent dark stains on the dolls’ extremities.  Also, the fashion design of the twins’ clothing does not live up to what I picture after reading the book.  Kaila seems to have an imaginative, forward-thinking, slightly funky fashion sense, and very little of that is reflected in the dolls’ outfits.  I wonder if there were some manufacturing or financial limitations in the creation of these clothes, because I suspect that K. Charles has a very clear idea of what Kaila’s unique fashion style should be.  I hope that eventually we’ll get to see an offering of modern doll clothes that mirror Kaila’s Double Dutch fashion creations from the book.  In the meantime, I prefer Zaria’s outfit to Kaila’s, mostly because of the denim shorts and diversity of colors.
Hair: Kaila and Zaria have very different wigs, and I think this is an important detail to be aware of when choosing the right Double Dutch Doll for you.  Zaria’s thick, curly wig is not like anything I have seen before.  Of the two dolls, Zaria’s hair offers a much more dramatic, unique look.  Zaria’s hair is definitely not meant to be brushed, though, and even if you finger-comb it a lot (like I did) its volume can reach a level of chaos that might not appeal to everyone.  Kaila’s wig, on the other hand, is perfect for brushing and styling, and would be a more sensible choice for someone (like me…) who can’t resist playing with their dolls’ hair.  However, if I could go back in time and re-pick only one doll, I would still choose Zaria…but this time I would go out of my way to preserve the authenticity of her wig.  If, despite your best intentions, you end up mangling Zaria’s wig like I did, there’s a $16 solution for sale at Monique that isn’t half bad.
It’s a grand moment in the doll world when a company realizes a personal, heart-felt vision for a new line of dolls.  I always feel fortunate to get a window into this ambitious process, and I think the resulting dolls almost always add something special and distinct to the market.  In this case, there are a few minor kinks to work out, but nothing that diminishes my enthusiasm for this customer-oriented company and its ethnically inclusive concept.  I didn’t plan on having both Zaria and Kaila in my house, but I also didn’t foresee how each of them would add her own unique presence and personality to my collection.  Overall, my experience with these dolls and this company has been wonderful, and I can’t wait to see which character is produced next.
Zaria (left) and Kaila (right).
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit “Zaria” and “Kaila” by Double Dutch Dolls

Daily Dose Of Vanessa: Runway Right Away Vanessa, 2005

Vanessa Perrin “Runway Right Away” LE 1000  $89.99

Another gorgeous early Vanessa is seen above modeling a Randall Craig sheath.
Jewelry – Designz (?) by Joy now going under the name of Exsyntrik on Etsy.
This Vanessa came on the first articulated body; however I had already switched her to the first tall body when I took this picture.
Below salvador dali tattooed doll is IT’s original promotional photo.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit Daily Dose of Vanessa: Runway Right Away Vanessa, 2005