Monday, November 12, 2012

Witnessing a Little Madness: The Price We Pay For Dolls

"I'm just going to look at the dolls after I grab some bar soap and double-A batteries."  That's what I told myself when I entered Family Dollar last Friday.  Once inside the store, that plan changed, particularly since the Fashion Madness Kenya dolls were not where I saw them the week prior.

After a brief yet concerning commotion in the store*, I solicited assistance from a worker by asking, "Do you know if you still have Fashion Madness Kenya dolls?"  She shared her uncertainty about which dolls I meant.  So I described them as "black fashion dolls that cost $20."

"A man just purchased a doll that cost $20!"  she said.  Excited, I blurted out, "Those are the ones!"   She, a cashier, asked her store manager to show me where the dolls were.  They had been moved from a bottom shelf to the top of another shelf totally out of view.  Unless he asked, I am not sure how the "man" who purchased one before my store visit found them.

Fireside Chatting Kenya has the darkest complexion of the Fashion Madness Kenya dolls

I told the manager, "She's dressed in red and white. If you have more than one like that, I need to examine them  because sometimes they have flaws such as loose clothing seams."  There were only two Fireside Chatting Kenya's among the available stock.  Both appeared without flaws and both came home with me.

At checkout, the original clerk that I asked about the dolls was my cashier.  She asked, "Why do these dolls cost so much?"  I replied, "I don't know, but here I stand with two, so I guess they must be selling at this price."  Confused about the price and the quantity I was purchasing, she asked, "Why are you buying two?"  I tried to explain as briefly as possible by stating, "I am a doll collector.  One is for me and one is a gift for a friend."  She seemed amazed that a grown woman, or at least two, since I was purchasing an identical doll for someone else, would 1) pay $20 for a doll and 2) collect them.

A series of questions from the cashier followed, one of which was,  "Is this the only size you collect?"  I answered her, but could tell by her facial expression that she viewed my fascination with black dolls of all types as odd.  At one point, as a result of her voiceless but still vocal, negative facial expressions, I said, "Shut up!  It's my mother's fault, had she purchased black dolls for me as a child, I probably wouldn't be so enthused about them now." 

"Is your mother still alive?" She asked.  "Yes, and some of my life-size dolls live with her now too."

Oh, I guess by then she really thought I was nuts, but who cares.   I was so excited about my purchase that I almost left the store with only my dolls until the cashier said, "You're forgetting your other bag" (soap and batteries -- the reason I entered the store).

*The commotion that I witnessed was hearing the diminutive female store manager demand a man, who stood over 6 feet tall to remove items from the legs of his pants.  He kept insisting that he did not have anything.  She kept demanding him to remove the items and asked him where the other man was who came into the store with him.  (Do I stand here and gawk?  Do I leave the store without my intended purchases?  These were a couple of quick questions that ran through my head.)  I had no idea what the man would do.  I didn't know if he would get angry, present a weapon, or comply with the manager's request.  And where is the other man, I wondered.

I nervously moved to another aisle to avoid the urge to stand there and gawk.  Heading toward me down the aisle on which I walked was who I assumed to be the "other man" the manager had mentioned.  From where I stood I could hear the manager demanding, "Give me the rest," and the man saying he didn't have anything else.  "Good Lord, should I leave now or what?"  "Or what" was the answer because I had not located my dolls, the soap, or the batteries.

I paced from aisle to aisle away from the commotion and heard the manager threatened to call the police.  The man finally complied and relinquished the goods he had attempted to pilfer.  Before he left, he was instructed to never return to the store again.

Relieved that the madness was over, I nervously walked back to the front of the store and asked for assistance in finding Fashion Madness Kenya.

Out of box images and a comparison photograph with Movin On Kenya follow:

Fireside Chatting Kenya out of box

I love Fireside Chatting Kenya's deep complexion.  She really is a lovely doll, but for $20 I expect top quality, even if the doll is intended for the play market.  After removing from the box and attempting to adjust one earring, one of the fake diamonds broke off; her neck joint is rather stiff; her right wrist joint is quite loose.  This is not the first flawed doll in this line that I have seen.  Their overall quality is below par, which is unacceptable and will prevent me from paying full price for any others or prevent me from keeping any others that I pay full price for that are flawed, because deep down inside I know I will buy TJ and Keyshia... and I want one with medium complexion, too).

Head shot of Fireside and Movin On Kenya


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22 comments:

  1. Love them! I so want that moving on Kenya! Can't find any of them here darn it! Congrats on finding them and avoiding drama!

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    1. Thanks, Chynadoll... hope the dolls surface for you there soon. As Paulette indicated, they have been seen at Toys R Us. If you are not having luck locating them at Family Dollar or CVS, try Toys R Us.

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  2. Hi Debbie,

    The Fashion Madness has seized me too. I now have all the Kenya's except the fireside chat one. I too was disappointed with the quality of the dolls given the $20 price point. So far I have only de-boxed one but her ear-ring broke just like yours did. Like Ms. Leo I intended the dolls as body donors because I can't stand over-sized heads. She noted that the neck prong broke when she attempted to remove the head so I used an exacto knife to slit the head and lift it off the neck prong.

    I am very happy to see articulated dolls in a wider variety of complexions but the articulation is not that great either. The legs only swing forward and back and their torsos don't pivot.

    I think the company is taking advantage of our hunger for black dolls knowing that we will pay any price to get them because they are so scarce. Instead of saving up and waiting for sales, I jumped on them as soon as I saw them because I was afraid they would disappear. Well, this week my Family Dollar was running a "buy 1 get 1 50% off" sale on all toys. That's how I acquired two more Kenya's. Then I went back home, got number 2 and 3 off the layaway shelf and took them back to the store with my receipt. I returned them and then bought them again at the sale price.

    Family Dollar has also been running a "buy $100 worth of toys and get $10 off" promotion. It would have been great if I had been able to combine that with the "buy 1 get 1 50% off" sale to collect all the Fashion Madness Kenya dolls. I guess you win some and you loose some.

    I stopped in a Toys R Us yesterday evening and noticed they had some Fashion Madness Kenya dolls too. They were priced at $16.95 so hopefully the dolls will become more widely available and the price will come down to around $15 which is what I feel they are worth.

    Your experience with the clerk confronting the shop lifter in Family Dollar was funny but unfortunately typical of how that chain has positioned itself in the market. If it weren't for the black dolls they are stocking this Christmas season I would never go in there.

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  3. Hmmm... buy one get one 50% off. I didn't know FD was having that sale on toys last week. This explain why, when I examined my receipt in the car with doors locked, it appeared I was not charged enough. I'll have to look at my receipt again.

    I shop at FD for household items all the time, but not that particular one. It is, however, near the Big Lots that I frequent. I've never witnessed shoplifting in progress, but I know it happens all the time, even at the store where I shop.

    Unfortunately these are the times in which we live. I will continue to be as cautious as I am everywhere I go -- even in those places where people say "things like this never happen here." Yes, people; they do happen there, too. It happens everywhere.

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  4. When I read this post first thing this morning, I was most confused. I had to read it at least three times. I kept thinking, did she really tell the woman to 'shut up'. Then the whole shoplifting thing. I wasn't sure what was going on. Glad it all worked out well. The dolls are beautiful. Sad the quality isn't up to par. You are right about the shoplifting. It's happening in majority of the stores by all races and all ages.

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    1. Yes, I did tell her to shut up (jokingly) but I was serious. It was clear by her facial expression that she thought my doll purchases and the fact that I collect them is strange. So my "shut up" to her was in order. In other words: Don't judge me.

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    2. Another valid reason for my "shut up" was: Don't question what I purchase because if I don't patronize your store, you may be out of a job.

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  5. I will pick up Fireside Chat Kenya. Big head or no if these ladies aren't a hit they will never be seen again. I'm thankful that they are available. I want to see her friends made. I so want to see TJ produced :O)

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  6. Smart move, Dollz4Moi.

    I am going to write (by snail mail) the company regarding the imperfections I have discovered with the Fashion Madness dolls I have purchased. Just because we crave dolls of color with articulation doesn't mean they can throw anything at us.

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  7. I went to Family Dollar Saturday and it was a madhouse and the lines were long as heck. I had a hard time finding the dolls too because there were multiple "toy isles." Stuff was just every where all willy nilly.

    They had six different versions but no TJ or the young sister. I would like Moving On and I think the other one was called Rockstar or something. Well, they both had the fro. I would also like a darker skinned one to use as a body for SIS Chandra. I didn't get any though. That price is holding me back and quality comments aren't swaying me in their favor.

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  8. Hey Muff,

    If they were BOGO 50% off like they were here last week, two would have cost $30 or $15 each, which is better than $20 each. Rock Star and Movin On do have the same hairstyle. Rock Star has a medium complexion; Movin on has a light complexion and I believe is the only one with that complexion.

    I don't believe TJ, Keyshia or friend, Denise, have been released.

    dbg

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  9. BTW, Muff, Fireside Chatting or one of the other darkest Kenya's will be a perfect match for SIS Chandra. Hope you're able to find one reduced in price.

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  10. love your blog..i find I get looks too..being a white man buying black dolls...my favorite started with California Christie..I ordered most of those from e-bay..I loved the big hair and facial expressions on the 1990's Christie dolls..I own about 8 of those..then it was Beach Blast Christie..and now my current obsession Wet n Wild Christie so far I have managed to get 4 of those..the red in the hair reminds me of Chaka Khan ...and for some reason I prefer the fuller twist n turn bodies from the 90's...most of what I collect is 80's and 90's fashion..so it is funny how our tastes change and evolve...a friend asked me why I have so many of the same doll..not really sure if I can answer that..I wish i knew myself..all i know is the world is cruel and cold and those dolls bring me comfort.

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  11. Hi James,

    Thanks for commenting. Dolls truly are comforting. I can get lost in my sea of dolls and never think about doing anything else, if other things did not command my time.

    We all have certain dolls that have won us over. It's good to hear you've found a group of girls to enjoy. I prefer fuller bodies over the anorexic bodies being used on most playscale dolls today, but I like today's articulation more than the clickable knees and bent or straight arm option from the 80s and 90s.

    Continue to enjoy your girls and thanks again for commenting.

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    1. Thank you! I really enjoy your blog..I have learned so much from reading your posts and will continue..now I just need to get my own blog so I can share my dolls with you and get your opinions.

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    2. That would be wonderful, James. I'd love to see images and read about the dolls you collect. I'm sure I can learn a lot from you as well.

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  12. Unfortunately I haven't been able to luck up and find any of these great dolls so I will keep looking! Sorry your excursion had to have some drama in it but it is the holiday season. I just glad you got the dolls and didn't forget your other bag.

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  13. You're making me want some of these dolls. I think I may have to stop by Family Dollar this week, just to look and to maybe pick up some useful household items. :) I'm glad that you've been able to find the ones that you want.

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  14. LOL... I know how "just to look" usually turns out (especially when there's something at the store interesting to see).

    Keep in mind the issues that I and others have had with their shoddy accessories, missed clothing seams, and failed articulation. The company has to do better or they will be a one season of dolls wonder.

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  15. Hello from Spain: I like these dolls. The red and white clothing is gorgeous. I do not like the saleswomen refer questions me when I buy dolls for me. The saleswomen always say that if the dolls are for my daughters ... I smiled but did not answer. In my country there are many people who shoplifting. Of all ages. It is an uncomfortable situation and violent. Congratulations on your purchase. We keep in touch.

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    1. Hi Marta,

      Smiling and not answering is a good way to avoid being probed by clerks about my doll purchases.

      I'll try that the next time.

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Thank you! Your comments are appreciated!