2016-08-21

At last: Asha! (Made To Move Barbie)

The other day I was sorting some old pics I'd saved on the hard drive and came across the first one I found of the then-rumored new body with 18 points of articulation that Mattel was claimed to be releasing soon. Well, now it's almost exactly year later, and I finally have my first Made to Move doll in hand! Asha arrived last week, courtesy of a fellow doll collector with access to a timely sale. By now I think you're all familiar with the abilities of the Made To Move body, so I'm not doing a review or anything. But of course there are pics - grainy, pseudo-nude ones.

Asha showing off her articulation while technically wearing underwear.
She came disassembled, which resulted in even more body horror than usual.

So far I've only noticed two problems: I wish that her upper arms would come in closer to her body so she could fold her arms properly, and her ankle joints probably shouldn't have passed QC: they're a bit floppy, and while that might be ok in most joints, ankles need to be tighter so they're able to carry the weight of the body without folding. A little floppiness goes a long way to severely diminishing a doll's posing ability. :( Well, luckily it can be fixed. I haven't tried the superglue trick on these kinds of exposed joints before, so I just wrapped a couple of rubber (or rather silicone) bands around them to give them more traction, and it's working so far.

Ankle joints fold at the slightest weight :(
Solution: silicon bands! Not the prettiest, but it's reversible - and it works.

Apart from that she's practically perfect - and practically glue-free! Her head is completely soft and squishy, the only trace is a small hard lump that seems to be hanging on a tuft of hair inside her head and can only be felt if you squish the head practically flat. While this is making me happy, it also makes me mad - because apparently Mattel are perfectly able to make dolls that aren't self-destructing straight out of the box! They just... choose not to??

I don't know, maybe it's time for another petition.

A blurry profile
I knew straight away I'd try to get a hold of Asha first, because I was pretty sure she'd never be sold in Sweden (sadly the AA dolls often never make it here) and I didn't have a doll with this mold. I liked her curly hair and that her hairdo was pretty realistic instead of the oceans of hair on some dolls, but apart from that I didn't have much of an opinion on her. But she quickly grew on me and now I'm completely in love with her. <3



Since she can't be wearing that neon yellow top all the time, I made her a blouse. The pattern is the blouse of a clone doll that I took apart and modified slightly. I'm often prone to perfectionism, and something that's helped me is to look at badly made massproduced doll clothes and realize that they look pretty ok, even if they aren't perfect. Hell, the clone doll's skirt is literally coming apart and I still love it.
Pictured: not quite ok, but within the acceptable range
Pictured: pretty ok. Although with some room for improvement.
I found this polka dot fabric scrap for cheap and as usual I've been hesitating to use it, because what if I waste it on something that turns out ugly? Well, my fabric crate is a mess and I couldn't find anything better, so I decided to take the plunge.

Former clone blouse; new bluose-to-be

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out: pretty ok.

Asha, on the other hand, looks like she's considering leaving this modeling job out of her resumé
It's still a bit of a mess, mainly since some of my modifications didn't turn out, and the back was mostly... missing, really, from the original blouse, so I had to figure something out and I'm not great at that.

But yeah: it's recognizable as a blouse, looks a bit like something you could buy in a shop, and the pattern is pretty. So I'm happy. Pretty ok. :)

Clone Loot: Who Wore It Best?
Side not: I always thought of this sculpt as Nichelle, partially due to Mattel's confusing naming practices, but also because it makes the doll look a liiitle bit like she's about to sneeze: slightly wrinkled nose, squinting a bit, mouth open, plus sometimes they give her those angry eyebrows... But the name of the sculpt is actually Asha. But I keep thinking of her as Nichelle. But naming her that would be confusing... I think I'll compromise and call her... Neisha?


2016-08-11

Petition for Mattel to actually produce that Gabby Douglas barbie!

I don't know if you've seen the Gabby Douglas Barbie Mattel made? Personally, I don't follow - well, sports, really, but I'm always on the lookout for interesting face sculpts and this doll has one of the best I've seen in ages. Plus there's hardly a surplus of black barbie face molds. Unfortunately, like most of Mattel's Shero dolls, this doll is a OOAK and not actually for sale, even though some of the media blurbs don't make this clear.

I hope it's ok to use this promo pic here - will remove if asked!

It would be a pity to design such a great unique mold just to use it once and then let it gather dust. And I'm pretty sure there's a considerable overlap of little girls who dream of being ballerinas and gymnasts, and little girls who love Barbie (and of parents who want to buy a doll modeled after a great role model). And now we have the Made to Move body that can actually perform all those gymnast moves! (Well. not on her own, obviously, but... you know what I mean.)

Apparently I'm not the only one: there's now a petition for Mattel to actually make this doll, at least in a limited edition. To be honest, I'm not sure how much this could affect their decision - I mean, the headglue petition didn't really do much. But as BlackDollCollecting points out, apparently it worked for getting the Ava DuVernay Shero doll produced, so it might be worth a shot!

Thanks to BlackDollCollecting and Phyllis who posted about this.

2016-06-23

Grail dolls vs thoil dolls

Hello, almost abandoned old blog! I learned a really great word last week:
thoil (verb)
  1. (Yorkshire) To be able to justify the expense of a purchase.
    I loved those red shoes but I couldn't thoil it in addition to the new dress I'd bought.
(Source: wiktionary.com)

As always, it's hard to tell whether this word is actually widely used or not (I could only find a few sources besides wiktionary, and they seem to have copied the definition verbatim from eachother), but it doesn't really matter: if it doesn't exist I think we should invent it, because it's really useful.

There are lots of dolls I want which I could technically afford, but can't really justify buying. Sometimes it's because would mean not being able to afford other things, sometimes it's just... too expensive to feel like fun, you know? When people talk about grail dolls it seems it's often rare vintage dolls, limited edition dolls, or just dolls that are impossibly expensive for whatever reason. Mine, on the other hand, are mostly just semiexpensive dolls that show up regularly on eBay or Mandarake, but that I just can't quite bring myself to shell out for. Depending on circumstances, it could even be an overpriced thrift store doll with an interesting face that I would like to own some day, but not for $10.

John aka oak23 mentioned he calls his "white whale dolls", because hunting them down would be more work than it's worth, but mine usually aren't even hard to find. Mostly they're just slightly too expensive. So: thoil dolls!

What about you? Are yours grail, thoil or white whale?

2016-03-01

Gloria Happy Hour bar play set


Lately I've been doing most of my ranting about dolls on tumblr instead of here, but I felt this post would work better in blog format.

So last week I was waiting for 3 packages, the first one being an Azone Pure Neemo body I ordered in january for my new Licca head. According to ebay it was supposed to arrive LAST friday at the latest, but mail from Japan has been slow lately so I wasn't too worried. Anyway, this friday I finally got a parcel delivery notice, and so I happily skipped down to What Passes For The Post Office These Days to pick up what I assumed would be the body (insert traditional comment about our morbid hobby here).

Instead I received a big flat box with a label said "China" and "doll mirror set", and I realized this must be the Gloria play set I ordered a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't expected it to arrive so soon, and I wasn't looking forward to organizing the return of this "doll mirror set", whatever that might be.

Que?

One of the corners of the bag was torn.
 I hadn't needed worry, though:

YESSS!!
The box had taken a hit, but since the set comes unassembled and tightly packed nothing was damaged.

There we go. Gloria's Bar, or Happy Hour as it's called on the box.

Incidentally, on the box photo the barstool foot rests are mounted upside down. All the dolls are unarticulated though, so it's not like it matters anyway.

I've wanted this set for a long time. It's pretty adult for a playline playset, if not exactly ADULT (even as kids we probably realized that all that partying and disco-ing Barbie and her friends were up to probably entailed having a drink once in a while). Maybe that's why it's still in production, despite being a clone brand with a decades old design: it still sells and doesn't really have any equivalents from competitor brands. On the other hand, there are loads of much less interesting Gloria play sets in production too, so I don't know. You can find this set at various sellers on ebay. I picked the Chinese seller with a price+shipping/highest feedback combo I liked and received it well within the ETA timespan. If you're in the US there's a few domestic sellers that offer lower shipping, so you should be able to get it for a bit less than I paid. 


This set seems to be quite popular among adult collectors and diorama builders and I've seen several great repaints of it. I won't be bothering with that, though - partially because I'm lazy and haven't figured out how to get acrylic paint to stick to plastic yet (at least not in a way that doesn't require a respirator), partially because I kind of like it's 80s-early '90s tackiness - but here's one example:


Enjoying a Cocktail in the bar

More repaints here!


So let's get started! My god, it's full of... well, whatever that is. What is that? Some kind of... plastic?

Plastic? In my 1/6 doll furniture set?

The set consist of a drink cabinet, a bar, and two bar stools (+ a bunch of glasses). I couldn't find any instructions, but it looks pretty straight-forward so let's go.


I started with the barstools. It's pretty simple: the post only fits one way. The seat is in two parts which don't come together completely, so there's a bit of a gap in the back. Not a huge problem, but it could have looked better.

The actual problem here was the footrests - not figuring out which way is up, but the fact that they won't stay put! There's a cross-shaped hole that goes on the cross-shaped post, and then it seems you're supposed to twist them slightly to fix them in place. Problem is, they fit pretty badly and won't rotate far enough to fit securely in place. As soon as you put any weight on them they come loose. Aaaargh. I'll have to figure out a fix for that.


Luckily, that's the only actual problem with the set that I can think of.


TA-DA. Two barstools.

Ok, on to the bar itself.
Bar parts. Exciting!
Bar footrest... bar... things. For some reason the photos led me to believe they were in one piece.

Now what have we here?

Note barstool assembly instructions.
Paper! And cardboard. Getting the pieces out of their plastic bag was actually one of the most difficult things about assembling this set, since they were practically vacuum sealed.


There's the bar front, a few fake bottle insets for the shelves, and look: instructions. Turns out I was right about the footrests. Twist to lock! (Or not, in my case.) You could probably do without them, though: for most parts they're unnecessary, and for the one part (the shelves in the cupboard) where you might actually need instructions they could have been more detailed. But nothing is particularly complicated and the worst that could happen is it'll take you a bit longer to figure it out. Still, it's always nice not having to guess so I appreciate that they were included.


There's also the front for the bottle cabinet with fake doors. Someone drew this with physical color pencils. Wonder what a gig like that pays? Probably not very well. At first I couldn't decide which side was up and whether the door panels were supposed to be convex or concave, but then I noticed the shadows cast by the doorknobs which made it pretty unambiguous. Shiny side up it is.


I imagine this sold as a postcard from a little stand by the bar. Greetings from Gloria's! We have furniture!

Front of the bar fitted in without much problem. v. '80s.

Or maybe early '90s?

Hexagonal holes for the whole overhead glasses rack-thingy in the top of the bar. One of them had some extra plastic mold flare at the top that made it too round and small, so I had to carve it out a bit. There were a couple of little things like that: tabs that had to be pared down a bit to fit in the holes and such, but nothing too bad.



The beer tap goes in the third hole. This was the other thing that annoyed me a bit: one of the ...tap tabs? or whatever they're called was molded too small and kind of wobbles a bit. I guess you could fix it with some blu-tac or glue.

Ecti quality. Where quality stands for... not quality. Must be one of those hipster beers.

As I mentioned, the shelves were the trickiest part to get right coordination-wise, which is why there are no photos of that stage. The illustration could have been clearer, as the angle it showed sort of hid some of the important parts, but most parts only fit one way so unless you're 5 and try to force things that don't fit, you'll get it right eventually. The lower shelf was a bit bent but the cardboard bottle bits helped straightening it out.
The only known photo of this mysterious step of the process.
Oddly enough, the blue inset for the bottom shelf was the only one that was a bit too small. Anyway, there's nothing stopping you from replacing it with something better.

This one was a bit dirty and damaged, but it's on the part you won't see so I'll allow it.

The assembled main pieces seen from the back:
Notice the little tabs keeping the cardboard backs in place. The bar could have used some shelves, but that would probably have raised the production value considerably. 

Finally we pop the cardboard top with the slightly misaligned print in place, and we're done. Welcome to Gloria's! Run by, who else, Gloria. Or maybe she's Betty Teen, I'm not sure. It's the same face mold anyway.
"My name? You ask too many questions, kid."
To complete the playset you obviously need some accessories. There aren't that many included, so I scraped together what I could find for the photos. The biggest downside is it doesn't come with any bottles (which is what the lattice-type rack would be for), but you do get six kinds of glasses including beer mugs. Aaaaand that's it. There's three of each type, even though there's room for at least four in each section of the rack. A sneaky way of cutting production costs? They're not painted liquour-colored like on the box photo, so you'll have to use your imagination.


Two of the glass types have fancy molded flower decorations. The one on the left has a pretty thick stem and required a bit more force to fit into the hanging rack.

Probably don't use real liquids though, since at least one of the glasses is a bit wonky.

"Barkeep! This drink is more drunk than I am!"

Since there's four hooks but only three beer mugs, I put Skeleton Bob on beer tap duty.

"Hey, it's a living!"
"Bob. Please."


"What did I tell you, Bob? Keep your hands to yourself!" "It's fine, I was just about to ask for a straw anyway."
"Hey, what do I have to do to get served around here?"
"Well, first of all you have to wear some shoes..."
"Sure, no problem."
"...that fit."
"Drat!"
"Best part of the job? No pants. I mean the community."

"Anyway, why not try our special: Cupcake Mushroom Smoothie?"

Whew! Good thing my recent thrifting turned up the most important bar accessory of all:

I think the Justin Bieber backstage set came with some fake vomit.
"I don't understand, I just had a few glasses. And they were all empty!"
"What about that smoothie?"
"The one that was glued to the glass so you could sell it again?"
"Hey, I'm just trying to make ends meet here."

So that's the Gloria Happy Hour bar set. I think I'll put it next to the Arco office play set so the offiec ladies have someplace to go for their after work.

Oh, and the Azone body finally arrived today, but she's not in this photoset since I'm pretty sure she's too young to drink.

2016-02-06

In case you were wondering

YES, I am excited about the new Barbie body types, and particularly the plus-size one. Very excited indeed.

Now if we could just get some articulation that'd be lovely, but I guess we have to prove we'll buy them first or something. OK Mattel, I'm in, but I can't do much wallet voting until you see fit to start selling these in Sweden - which should happen, oh, any quarter now?

2015-12-22

Big Beautiful Dolls returns!

This may be old news, but I just saw this and thought I'd help spread the word. Apparently Georgette Taylor, creator of Big Beautiful Dolls, is taking preorders for a new run of nude dolls! There's also a new limited edition doll with painted-on lingerie - not my thing normally, but the preview photo looks really good. I'm too broke for customs fees right now, but for those interested she does offer international shipping. Take a look here.