Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Madame Alexander 18" Doll: Photo shoot 1

Playing outside.
I mentioned awhile back that I still had the 18" Madame Alexander doll that came in the enormous box of toys I got for $3 at the thrift store. I've been meaning to make a post about her, but keep thinking I needed "more" to make it worth while. I think I'll just split it up into a couple of small photo op posts, to get myself actually talking about her. Here she is in what I guess is her "Fall Outfit". The jeans are the ones she was wearing when donated, the top is the same too-small one you saw her in last.
Her friend the rag doll is still around, too.

The hooded jacket is something I found in a bag is miscellaneous doll clothes I've been accumulating. I bought the shoes at Wal-Mart, since she looked odd to me barefoot.

She stands pretty well unassisted, too.

I've never had a doll like this one before. She's an obvious American Girl-style knockoff, with a stuffed body and vinyl head and limbs that are also her five points of articulation. Her hair is the same super-fine stuff that Monster High's Catty Noir is rooted in, but I don't know enough about doll hair to tell you more than that. On the subject of her hair, you may notice that she's no longer got the braid that went across her forehead originally. I decided that I'd brush it out and redo it... only to discover that my attempts at fixing the odd lumpy spots in the braid were not up to re-creating the hairstyle. So she's got a new hairstyle now.

Her eyes are sleep eyes, and although I've heard that some Madame Alexander 18" dolls have a wired armature to make them posable, this doesn't seem to be the case with this one.

"I climbed up, but now I can't get down!"

She has a very sweet face with a neutral but nice expression. Very, very subtle makeup gives her rosy cheeks and a charming smile.

"I need a leaf pile to jump in!"
Oh, and her "new" hoodie has cat ears, which really seems to suit her. She looks slightly mischievous to me, but like she also wouldn't say no to a nap in a warm, sunny spot on the floor. It's a very well made piece with a metal zipper and the jacket is fully lined. It's by a different company.

This doll definitely has some heft to her, and feels pretty solid. I'm not a huge fan of her fine, thin hair, but it's pretty well rooted. She's charming enough that I've bought her some bargain bin/thrifted clothes and a couple of pairs of shoes, but I don't feel moved to invest in a lot of stuff for her. She doesn't even have a *name* at this point. I feel like I like her, but like I'd also be okay with giving her to a child who I thought would appreciate her. She is very photogenic though, and even though she's a knock-off, I find that I like her face a lot more than the American Girl face.

We'll see how I feel next update.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Beatrix Girls: Brayden review

While on a non-toy run in a neighboring city, I managed to talk my way into a stopover at a TRU. I didn't find any new Monster High stuff I wanted, but I did find something on sale that I decided to grab. A group of girls examining the doll aisle drew my attention to the "Beatrix Girls" line, which was sitting beside the similarly-sized/proportioned Cutie-Pops dolls.

The girls have a website, which elaborates on what their personalities (such as they are) are like. You have the token "person of color" who is also the token "foreigner", the token blonde/blue-eyed member, the token redhead, and then there's Brayden, who has purple eyes, hair, and lips. Here's my first criticism with this line. Why is only one character "worthy" of having crazy-colored hair? Imagine Lark with cotton-candy pink, or Ainsley with brilliant teal. Honestly, Brayden and Chantal are my favorites, both of them are very, very beautiful dolls. If they'd been $15 instead of only reduced to $20, both of them would probably have come home with me.

As it was, Brayden only beat out Chantal because her teal and purple dress reminded me of Maddie Hatter from Ever After High - whose character I love, but whose doll leaves me rather cold.

Here's Brayden in her package.
Though the package shows the girls with musical instruments, the versions for sale at TRU did not come with these accessories. You can buy the dolls which DO have them on the Beatrix Girls website.

Cutting the tape and flipping the lid up allows you to pull the tray with the doll right out of the package.
The doll is attached with rubber bands around her neck, waist, and feet. The two tendrils of hair in front are also banded to the package. Note: Brayden's dress actually has velcro all the way down the back. This makes it very easy to get on and off her.

Here she is, detached from the package. She doesn't come with a stand or a brush. She just has her outfit and the little booklet with info about the line and access to the website.
Here's Brayden next to Monster High Clawdeen and the similarly-colored Raven Queen from Ever After High. Raven's in a Bratzillaz outfit that matches Brayden, which I swear was not intentional. Originally, Brayden's colors reminded me of Maddie Hatter, but after seeing them like this she definitely looks more like Raven.
Brayden's purple hair is very soft and silky, but unfortunately it's also pretty thinly rooted.
Here's a comparison of these two girls undressed. Brayden's wasp-waisted body has a broad bust and hips, and thick thighs above tiny, tiny feet. She has ten points of articulation, with a twist head and waist. The hip articulation has a large "scoop" out of the front of her pelvis on each side, which looks pretty weird.
It looks weird, but that means she can very nearly touch her toes!
She's definitely going to come closer to passing the Presidential Fitness Test than Raven.
Her legs also swivel out, so she can almost do a perfect sideways splits. Raven is lacking in this department, as well.
Brayden's elbows, knees, waist and neck will swivel all the way around. Her shoulders are a little less limber, and her hips are more limited. Her elbow joints, disappointingly, barely bend.
She's not tremendously well made, and already has a small split in the vinyl of her thigh. Additionally, bits of mold seam have not been cleaned away in a few places.

So let's see what else she can wear!
Brayden's upper arms are too thick for MH tops, and she probably couldn't fit into MH pants. I don't have any to test that theory with.
Since she looks so much like Raven, here's Brayden in Raven's stock. Looks pretty good from the front, but...!
Brayden's a lot wider in the bust than Raven though, so the top is gaping open in back.
Let's give Raven back her dress and try the Bratzillaz outfit Raven was wearing on Brayden. It's a pretty good fit, actually!
 The bodice is not fitted for her though, so you have this happening. That would be an easy fix for someone who can sew, though.
This is exactly how far I could get a Mystixx dress on her. It's not happening.
She can also wear Moxie Girlz dresses, if you cinch them a little.
Stretchy Bratz tops fit her well, and *some* pants will fit her if you can get them over her thighs. She can also wear closed-top newer Barbie shoes, but they're too big on her. Her tiny, tiny feet are too small even for Re-Ment/J-Doll or Disney Store articulated-body shoes!
I thought perhaps Bratz Boyz pants might fit her, but they're just a little too big. Again, someone who can sew could probably tailor them to fit well.
She can also sorta wear Only Hearts Club tops, but the pants are a no-go. These silver pants are part of Brayden's own stock.

All in all, I like Brayden. Her sort of chibi-style body is appealing, and she has some great posability. If she had articulated wrists and a ball socket style neck joint, I'd say her articulation was nearly perfect. Well, there's also the rather pathetic elbow articulation. Her thin rooting is disappointing, but her hair is very soft and silky and the color is absolutely stunning. Her head is rather hard plastic, so I don't know if you could easily add more hair plugs.

I feel like she was made rather cheaply, with the split that's already apparent in one leg. She holds poses well but despite her fairly solid-feeling body, her extremities feel a bit flimsy and some joints feel a bit fragile.

Her clothing is bright and colorful, but even it has drawbacks. The bottom layer of skirt is so tight, she can't even sit down in it!

I do like Brayden, but I don't plan to buy more of these dolls (not even the pretty Chantal) unless I see evidence that they have made major improvements.

Since I can't close out an entry with clothes-swapping without showing Nii, here she is, positively swimming in Brayden's dress: