Monday, May 2, 2016

Curly Girls United the Chosen One

It was a difficult decision to chose which Curly Girls United doll would increase the doll population here by one.

Curly Girls United Dolls, Kayla, a honey blonde, and a brunette

My choice focused between Kayla, the doll with the deepest complexion and the honey blonde (the center doll shown above).  I studied this image for several days and ultimately decided on the honey blonde because of her unique complexion-hair combination.  She would add some spice to the family of dolls, I thought, whose complexions represent the African American color spectrum from deep to pale.

I was hesitant to choose her initially because her lip color seemed too pale and I have an aversion to deep complexioned dolls with pale lips.  I was pleasantly surprised that her lip color, complexion, and hair color are quite complementary.  Upon her arrival, I noticed several other pleasing factors about the chosen one which are outlined in the several photos below.

Initial Photos

As described in the guest post by the creator of Curly Girls United, each doll is 18 inches tall with vinyl head, arms, and legs.  A portion of the torso is cloth (which will be illustrated below).  The dolls can stand alone without the assistance of a doll stand.  This is always a welcome feature.

Because my doll is the 12th doll made, she arrived in a plastic bag inside a plain shipping box.  (The boxes designed for the dolls are still in production mode.)

The photos on the left and right were taken immediately after removing from the plastic bag. Her hair had not yet been fluffed.

She wears a velour aqua jacket and pants, sleeveless light pink velour blouse, and pink Mary Jane-style shoes.  The shoes are accented with embroidered aqua star shapes.  The back of the jacket bears the Curly Girls United logo.

Before undressing to determine if she could wear any on-hand 18-inch doll fashions, Honey (the name she received while this sentence was written), took a complexion comparison photograph with Madame Alexander's 18-inch Friends Boutique doll, "Patience."   Honey's complexion has red undertones compared to Patience's yellow undertones.

A closer look at the subtle differences in the girls' complexions is illustrated next.

The Feet and Body

Honey can wear Patience's shoes.  The ankle strap fits loosely because Honey's legs and ankles are thinner than her new friend's.

This photo illustrates the cloth portion of Honey's body and her slim legs.  The cloth color used for the body is a close match to the vinyl color.  The extra measures taken to match the cloth color with the vinyl color please me.  (Many companies cut corners by using white or other light colors for brown dolls' bodies!)
More Complexion and Body Comparisons

Above, Honey poses, undressed, with Journey Girls Taryn.  The location of the cloth in their bodies is similar; however, the makers of Journey Girls did not use matching cloth for Taryn's body.  Honey has a better posterior shape than Taryn (who is completely flat in back).  Their leg size is similar, but the leg shape differs.

Honey and Addy compare complexion and body differences.  Addy has an all-cloth body, and again, American Girl cut corners by using a lighter brown cloth for the body. Because of the full cloth body, Addy's body is less supportive of her weight than Honey's.  I do not believe Addy is able to stand without assistance.  (My Addy is kept on a doll stand; I did not test her ability to stand alone.)


I have a stash of clothes that will fit 18-inch dolls.  Honey only tried on clothes worn by Taryn, Addy, an 18-inch My Twinn fashion, and another American Girl boxed fashion that was readily accessible. In my mind, I am thinking Honey can also wear Magic Attic clothes, but I am uncertain if this is an actual fact.

Honey tried on Addy's Christmas dress first.  It fits but it is a little longer than desired. Before taking this photo, her pink headband had been removed (because it would definitely clash with the tartan plaid of Addy's dress).  Finger combing followed.
Taryn's complete fashion, including the orange sneakers, are a perfect fit for Honey.  In this photo, Honey's well-rooted mounds of curly hair have been fluffed.  Some of her hair was pulled to the front and side to create a more sassy look.  Doesn't she look adorable?
Honey removed the jacket of Taryn's fashion before posing for this photo.  I think orange is a good color for her.
In this photo, Honey wears an 18-inch My Twinn starter fashion with Taryn's sneakers  Yellow is a good color for her too.  Her faux Mohawk was achieved by pulling her hair back and wrapping loosely in the center with a rubber band. The ends were fluffed from front to back. 
American Girl Julie's casual, 70s-inspired fashion is what Honey "chose" to continue wearing.  She wears the floral embroidery embellished orange dashiki, purple split skirt, and brown boots well. With the faux Mohawk released, additional finger combing and fluffing with a front side bang add to her "groovy" 70s look.

The Eyes

Honey has hazel sleep eyes, also known as open-close eyes.  When in the upright position, her eyes are open.  When in the supine position, her eyes close on their own as if she is asleep.  Their hazel color matches her complexion as does the lid color, which perfectly matches the color of her vinyl. The eyelid and complexion color match, as well as the previously mentioned cloth body and vinyl complexion match, illustrates the amount of attention to detail these dolls received.
About the Hair

Honey's natural-textured, curly hair is one of her best features.  I love it! The fibers are well rooted, super curly yet silky, and it does not easily tangle.  As described by the creator, "The hair is fully rooted and of high quality that can be “cowashed” and finger combed."  

I have no plans to cowash or otherwise wet the hair, but I can attest to the fact that it is of high quality and can be finger combed and finger fluffed with ease.  As illustrated by the faux mohawk and side bangs, it can be restyled, as desired.  

Am I pleased?  Yes.  I know the intended market for the 18-inch Curly Girls United dolls will love the line, particularly if they are curly girls themselves.  Those who collect 18-inch dolls, natural-hair dolls, and those who have a diverse collection of dolls of all sizes will appreciate their cute round faces, lovely locks, matched eyelid/cloth body/vinyl coloring, ability to stand, and other features as well.  



Monday, April 25, 2016

Guest Post From the Creator of Curly Girls United

Curly Girls United dolls

Having my professional background as first a critical care nurse and now a nurse anesthetist, I never imagined I would start my own doll company! But life has many surprises for us as time goes on.

I grew up with girls and women who had beautiful hair textures and gorgeous skin tones, but our dolls all looked the same—generic in a way that didn’t reflect the beauty in our communities. Being raised the youngest of 16 kids in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood during the 1970s offered me a unique perspective. A few years ago, after a failed attempt to find a natural-hair doll of color for a Christmas gift, I decided to create my own.

Kayla is the center doll; the other two will be named soon.
At a time when we are becoming more diverse as a society, it was surprising to me that this lack of diversity in children’s toys was still such a problem. Though toy makers today are producing more dolls with minority skin tones and hair types than they did decades ago, many stores don’t stock them, and the models available online are often targeted for collectors, rather than for girls to play with.

According to research by Unilever, the maker of Dove soaps and shampoos, about 60 percent of girls who have curly hair don’t think it’s beautiful. The Curly Girls United dolls come with a range of hair textures—some very curly and others with looser curls—that can be washed and styled, allowing girls to learn how to care for and appreciate their own natural hair. “I like her because she looks like me; she’s my mini-me,” was the response from Madison, a 6-year-old who received one of our first dolls.

Designing the dolls was a joy and a challenge! They are 18” to allow girls and collectors to use other popular doll clothes. We had our own mold made for the face and worked with the manufacturer to get the hair just right. The hair is fully rooted and of high quality that can be “cowashed” and finger combed. I wanted the dolls to represent the beautiful variety of skin tones and hair textures of the women and girls I know. We are starting with 3 skin tones and hair colors/textures but definitely hope to add more. It was important to have the dolls be able to stand independently and so we chose a primarily vinyl body, but to keep the cuddle factor we went with a 2/3s cloth torso. The cost of manufacturing the dolls is high.  To keep it manageable, I made the decision to have the articulation kept at the head, shoulders and hips.

Currently the dolls are available for order on Indie GoGo: where there is special pricing until mid-May. After that, the dolls are available for full price at Brown Eyed Dolls: The dolls will ship to customers starting in mid-June and will come packaged in a plastic bag in their own branded pink box which has pictures of all the dolls on it.

I think little girls as well as collectors will agree that these are beautiful dolls. It is my sincere hope that they bring as much joy to others as creating them has brought me.

Brand Manager
Brown Eyed Dolls

Thank you, Margaret, for sharing the inspiration behind the creation of Curly Girls United and for providing details about these adorable 18-inch dolls.  It is always refreshing to learn of companies like yours whose dolls are inclusive, because positive imagery of self matters in the eyes of all children.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

An Interview by Shasha

In one of her new endeavors, to feature collectors on her blog, the wonderfully creative and talented Shasha recently interviewed me. I am honored.  The results of the interview have been published on her blog. Please check it out here.

If you are a playscale collector whose dolls may be in need of fabulous fashions, check out Shasha's, Etsy shop, "which brings you doll collecting and accessories that are fun, fresh, sassy, and sometimes dramatic."

Thanks again Shasha for all you do!