Monday, June 27, 2016

Dolls Tell Their Own Stories


I am unsure what fascinates me so about Gloria Rone's (Massa's Servants Collectibles) dolls, but some of them, many of them actually, speak to my heart. I am mesmerized by their hand sculpted, one-of-a-kind faces, which are so expressive. The faces are the first hook that draws me in.  Some usually come with a story the artist has written about them, while others do not. I enjoy reading their stories and knowing what might have possibly inspired their creation.  I suppose I am just impressed by Gloria's God-given talent to take a piece of clay or cloth, in some cases, and mold and/or paint intriguing ancestral-looking faces.

Last week Gloria offered two dolls on Facebook and I could not resist bringing them "home" to join the several other dolls made by her gifted hands.


Stella Mae and her dollie by Gloria Rone of Massa's Servants Collectibles (photograph courtesy of Gloria Rone)

When I saw the above photographs of Stella Mae and her dollie, I initially thought Gloria had created twins. After reading the doll's brief description with instructions to PM her if interested, I realized I was viewing two photos of the same doll and that the angle of Stella Mae's face in the second photo gave her a slightly different look.  I immediately noticed she had a doll, and I love dolls with dolls!

I hurriedly sent Gloria a personal message to ask about size and price.  With that information, the purchase was finalized.  I was a happy camper because another beautiful doll and her doll by Gloria would soon join the doll family.  During our messaging, I asked Gloria if Stella Mae had a background story. Initially, she answered, "No" and invited me to write one and share it with her.  I could do that, I thought, but I needed to know what inspired Gloria to create Stella Mae and why she chose the brown plaid fabric for her dress.  I also wanted to know what came first, the face or the fabric.  Gloria replied:

yes the face came first....and then I wanted to put her in a more warm looking fabric....not too bright....She reminded me of when I was little....staying with my grandmother on her farm....I had a Lil doll I used to play with while watching her make biscuits. ...wow Debbie there was a story after all. All my dolls are made related to my grandmother's farm....and growing up there.
I can imagine Gloria as a young child playing with her doll as her grandmother cooked delectable meals.  The smell of the food probably wafted through the air as Gloria busied herself with doll play, eagerly awaiting the delight she would experience eating food prepared with love.


Stella Mae is 12 inches tall with hand sculpted head, hands, lower legs, and feet of polymer clay. Her deep-set eyes and pouty mouth are hand painted.  Cloth was used to create the body, upper arms, and upper legs. Socks and shoes are painted.  Synthetic black hair is styled in two side braids with another side braid at her forehead.  (Stella Mae might have braided her bangs.)  Her hair is accented by a lacy off-white headband.  "Massa's" is incised underneath the right shoe.  "GYR-16" is incised underneath the left shoe.


Stella Mae's doll is 3-1/2 inches with painted cloth face, cloth body, upper arms, and upper legs. Dollie's hands, lower legs, and feet are polymer clay.  Like Stella Mae, Dollie has hand-applied black synthetic hair.  Dollie's two braids are held together with white thread.  Dollie is unmarked.

During the beginning of each elementary and middle school year, I recall wearing dark cotton plaid dresses in fall colors of navy blue and red, green and yellow, or perhaps a plaid fabric similar to Stella Mae and her dollie's.  While summer was ending and fall just around the corner, the weather was always much too warm, I thought, to be dressed in such dark colored clothing.

This smiling character doll is Ruth, by Gloria Rone of Massa's Servant's Collectibles, photo courtesy of Gloria Rone.

A couple of days after Stella Mae and Dollie's purchase, Gloria posted the above picture of Ruth, indicating she, too, needed a home.   With another expressive face desiring adoption coupled with the fact she shared the name of a dear friend who passed away in 2012, I mulled over the possibility of adding Ruth to the doll family.  The decision to adopt her was finalized after Gloria re-shared Ruth's photo along with the following story (written in the voice of the doll):

Hello.....My name is Ruth.....I'm just a doll...I was shown in an art group today....and was ridiculed. ...called names....simply picked on....now thank God....my mommy....proudly made me.....from just a simple ball of clay.....she always takes time to put that special. ....time and luv....into each and every one of us.....Thank God my mommy.....luvs us unconditionally. ....and excepts us for who she has created us to be.....She taught us that....U may not like sum one. ....but U must respect them......My name is Ruth.....and I'm just a doll....
Oh my goodness, I thought.  How-could-people-be-so-callous, I wondered.  I PM'd Gloria and asked if this story was true.  Unfortunately, she said, it was.  I offered words of encouragement and told her not to allow those who criticized her work to dampen her spirit.  She said she wouldn't.  I asked about adoption fees, yada yada yada, and purchased, Ruth.  Gloria shared her relief that Ruth would be in a home (like mine) where she would be appreciated.

At 9 inches tall, Ruth is a little shorter than Stella Mae.  Her other features are the same:  head, lower arms, hands, lower legs, and feet of polymer clay; body, upper arms, and upper legs of cloth.  Facial features, including her wide grin with individually sculpted teeth, are hand painted.  Ruth has black hair styled in two side puffs and short bangs.  (At age 8, while riding my bicycle on the sidewalk in front of our apartment with my hair pulled back into a ponytail, a neighborhood girl of about the same age, whom I had never seen before, said to me with disgust, "Oooh, your forehead sure is big!"  Hurt, I removed myself from my bike, went into the house and created bangs similar to Ruth's.  I wore bangs for practically half my life from that point on or at least styled the front of my hair to conceal my forehead.  I still do the latter, but I am not as self-conscious about it as the 8-year-old me was.  Had that silly girl not said that to me, I would have remained oblivious to the shape of my forehead.  After that incident, my mother asked me why I created bangs.  I told her what the girl had said.  Mama's attempt to console me helped.  Unfortunately, the damage was done.  I could not unhear that mean-spirited statement.)  Ruth's right foot is marked, Massa's.  Her left is marked, 2016.

I am happy Ruth was able to travel with Stella Mae and her dollie.  They arrived in a decorative storage box, the photo of which is the first image of this post.  The box top reads:

Family
~*~
We live, we laugh,
we play, we love.
  
The dolls were neatly packaged in clear plastic bags, placed on top of a bed of purple confetti inside the decorative storage box used for shipping.  The above photo is the first one they took after arrival.

The girls, who are inseparable, posed for this out-of-box photo...
...using a different background, this photo was taken next.


I took the girls outside to take the following additional photos:
Seated on weathered wooden steps, the girls took in the rays of the sun and the 90-something degrees temperature.  They were happy to return inside to an air conditioned climate as was I.

Since Stella Mae and Dollie had taken a close-up photo, Ruth wanted one as well.

After one final group photo, the photo session ended.
Dolls tell their own stories and sometimes they tell yours.

A previous post about Gloria and her dolls can be read here.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

WellieWishers are Available Now with Free Shipping!

The dolls are 14-1/2 inches tall constructed of plastic and vinyl and retail for $60.  There are dresses, socks, and see-through Wellies (rain boots) for girls and so many other doll-lightful accessories for girls and the dolls, including a playhouse!

A WellieWishers animated series will begin streaming this fall.

Shipping is free through 7/31/16; so I will probably order Kendall and possibly Ashlyn before then.

See all that is available here.

Happy browsing/shopping!

Related Link:
WellieWishers - American Girl Wiki


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Monday, June 20, 2016

American Girl WellieWishers

American Girls' new doll line, WellieWishers:  Two Caucasian, a Latina, Asian, and African American are included in the five-doll line.
First seen on this blog here, American Girl has now created a count-down web page for the WellieWishers' June 23, 2016, launch.  Beyond a video featuring little girls with the dolls, the site does not provide specifics such as their actual names, height, and price, but nonofficial sources indicate the African American doll's name is Kendall; they are 15-inches tall, and will cost $60.

Here is the link to the official web page, where detailed, official information will available on the launch date, June 23, 2016.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Voice of Melody Ellison

Melody Ellison is part of American Girls' BeForever Collection

American Girl collectors eagerly anticipate the release (sometime this summer) of the company's newest doll character, Melody Ellison, first written about on this blog here.  Melody represents a 9-year-old Civil Rights era child and resident of Detroit, Michigan, the original home of Motown records. In addition to civil rights issues, a love for singing is appropriately woven into Melody's story.

Thousands of girls auditioned to become the voice of Melody Ellison, but only one could be chosen. In the following Youtube video, watch as the winner learns she is the chosen one.


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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Introducing Kenner's 1975 Dave Club Scout

Dave Cub Scout by Kenner, 1975 arrived in January 2010, NRFB, still attached to box liner.

Dave is not a newly-arrived doll. After discovering I had not documented his January 2010 purchase in photos, his first photo shoot took place yesterday.  Those photos are the purpose of this blog.

Dave's 2010 cost of $32, his retail value, and other pertinent information were entered on row 11 of the 2010 page of my doll inventory Excel workbook, as shown below in a filtered screen snapshot:




As indicated under the description column, Dave is a 9-inch articulated action figure/doll dressed in full official Cub Scout uniform.  The colorful box graphics include images of Dave on the front and back of the front-side flap, on both side panels, and on the back.


In this image on the lower right front and side, Dave holds a metal bucket and Craig, the other Cub Scout, holds gathered wood.  The boys are preparing to set up camp.
The back panel includes a large image of Dave.  In-box images of the four scouts in this line are below Dave's larger image.  They are Steve Scout (Caucasian), Bob Scout (African American), Craig Cub (Caucasian), and Dave Cub.

An outdoors scene with a diverse group of scouts setting up a camp site creates the left side panel and back-of-front-flap graphics.

I appreciate the individuality Kenner created for each scout and cub in this series.  Certainly using the same names for the scouts and same names for the cubs would have defrayed costs. In addition to their own unique names, each figure's name is printed on its box.  That required additional cost to the company as well.  What was customary for doll companies to provide in the past is a rarity in today's market.


After removing Dave from the box (still attached to the box liner), I discovered his 16-page Cub Scouting & You booklet printed on newsprint.   I took photos of the booklet cover and four of the pages.  (Click or stretch, if necessary, for a better view of these below.)

The booklet cover features an illustration of Craig and Dave.



Steve Scout, Bob Scout, Dave Cub, and Craig Cub are illustrated above, left.

Accessories and uniforms for all four scouts were sold separately, as indicated above, left.

Drummer Boy was Dave's separately sold, Historic American Series uniform.  It included drum and strap, drum sticks, boots, knickers, jacket, shoulder pouch, and tri-corner hat.  Frontier (a fringed buckskin-like jacket and pants, moccasins, coon skin hat, belt, and Flintlock rifle) was Bob's Historic American Series extra uniform.  Patriot and Out West were the names of Craig and Steve's extra uniforms.  Patriot included shirt, knickers, vest, boots, tri-corner hat, and Flintlock rifle.  The booklet describes Steve's extra western uniform as:  shirt, jeans, belt, cowboy boots, neckerchief, cowboy hat, and rope lariat.

Before returning the booklet and Dave to his box, Bob Scout paid him a brief visit wherein the two engaged in the following brief dialogue.

Bob:  Little Man, do you think she's ever going to free you from this box?

Dave:  No.  I think I'll be strapped in forever.  You're lucky she found you without a box or you'd probably be stuck inside too.


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Monday, June 13, 2016

Misty Copeland Barbie Overload in a Good Way

This and all other photos in this post are courtesy of Romona Jennings

Fellow doll enthusiast, Romona Jennings, shared photos with my Facebook group of her recently received Misty Copeland Barbie. After waiting months (and she is still waiting) for the Copeland Barbie ordered from TheBarbieCollector dot com, she decided to purchase a discounted doll from Amazon dot com and she is happy she did. The doll's imperfect box did not matter because Jennings planned to debox the doll.  She will eventually have two Copeland Barbies after the long-awaiting one from TBC arrives, but can enjoy this one now. I loved her pictures so much that I wanted to share them with you.

With her permission, the initial photos she took and some additional ones I requested are shared below:





The colorful backdrop is from Ntzoke Shange's Obie Award-winning 1974 play,
 for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf.

Romona added red feathers to the doll's headpiece and also pierced her ears.  With the red feathers, she wanted to achieve a similar look to the headpiece Copeland wore in her title role in Firebird.

Misty's Firebird costume is shown above in this Internet-captured photograph.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) Barbie joins the Misty Copeland Barbie.

The AAADTB is featured alone in this beautiful photo.

Romona captioned this:  Mesmerizing Misty


Misty and AAADT Barbie gracefully pose for a final photo.

I hope you have enjoyed Romona's photos as much as I have.  Thanks again Romona for allowing me to share these and thank you for taking additional photos of the AAADT Barbie at my request.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lammily Photographer Photo-Intense Post


Yesterday, after the postman rang once,  I found a Lammily logo'd package and two others on my porch.  The other two were not dolls.  After waiting months on the arrival of my preordered Photographer Lammily, of course, I opened her package first.



Inside the shipper was the doll's beautifully designed box, which features a lovely painted image of the doll on front.


Images of things and places she has photographed are on both sides and back of the box.


Tucked inside the front flap, is Photographer's story, My New Old Camera.  Photos of each page are shown next.

She visits a camera shop and picks out a classic camera.  The shop owner explains that pictures will be far better than pictures taken with a cell phone camera, but it will not be as easy to use.

 She ventures out and takes several photos.

After the photos are processed, unfortunately, she is disappointed at the results, until...

...she finds one photo in the group of  the several she took that has flawless detail.

At this point, I was impressed by the packaging and Photographer's story.

Her hair, facial expression and eyes are better than expected.  I am not thrilled with the frumpy fashion and  pointed-toe pumps.

Her hair is tightly coiled and closely rooted, not loosely curled and unruly as the prototype images portrayed.  I love it!


"Look, Mom, no panties!"  Since she wears a skirt, I just knew she would have some form of coverage underneath, but no.  Like other companies, Photographer was given molded-on, flesh-colored-panties.


With the doll freed from the box, I was eager to see if she could stand unassisted.  She cannot, or at least she would not for me.  Her joints are limited to the usual five.  Her wrists and ankles are articulated.  Her elbows have two clicks of inward bending motion.  Her knees have a one-click bend. This does not allow her to move very much, but it is more movement than I thought she had initially. It also helps that her arms and legs are made of a soft vinyl. With the click bending motion of the elbows and soft vinyl arms, it is possible for arms to be held together with bands to allow her to hold her camera.

Her camera, which was attached to the box liner, had to be tied to the black satin ribbon that was already attached to her right wrist with a clear band.


The soles of her feet are a lighter shade than her caramel complexion, which I like.  Other than those made for Lammily dolls, finding shoes to fit her huge feet will be challenging.  I have none here that I could find for her to wear except maybe male action figure shoes and I did not bother trying any of those on her.


Like the soles of her feet, the palms of her hands are also a lighter shade.  This is realistic for melanin-rich people whose palms and soles are lighter than the dorsal surfaces of their hands and feet.

The next four comparison photos illustrate the major differences between Photographer Lammily and Curvy Barbie.

Photographer has broad shoulders, a long torso and short legs.  I would not describe her physique as curvy, normal, or average.  Wide with short legs is a better description.   Curvy Barbie is more shapely.

Since I cannot sew, redressing this doll in fashions other than the Lammily brand will be difficult.

As mentioned, the Lammily doll has huge feet, which measure 1-1/2 inches in length by 1/2 inch in width compared to Curvy Barbie's 1 inch x 6/8-inch foot.

Photographer and Curvy Barbie temporarily swapped clothing.  The Mixis dress that Curvy Barbie had been wearing barely closes in the back on Photographer due to her broad shoulders and wide torso.  The spandex fabric was the saving grace.  I had hoped Photographer could wear Curvy Barbie's original denim dress, but she cannot.  She can wear the ivory mesh top, but she has nothing else to wear with it and it is see-through, so, we are still at square one with nothing extra for her to wear.  The waist of Photographer's skirt is too large for Curvy Barbie, but the top, which fits better than the skirt, camouflages the skirt's loose fit on her.

Pros:

  • Presentation 
  • Story
  • Lovely hair texture
  • Facial expression
  • Articulated wrists and ankles
  • Slightly bendable elbows and knees
  • Lighter soles of feet and palms of hands 
  • Inclusion


Cons:

  • Needs full articulation, at least in the arms to properly hold camera.
  • Body is wide with a long torso and disproportionate. 
  • Legs are short, not shapely.
  • Sits with legs open wide
  • Feet are huge.
  • Redressing in clothing and shoes not designed for Lammily dolls will be challenging.  

I wanted this doll for its novelty of being one of the first "fuller figured dark skinned fashion dolls*. My final assessment is Lammily is not really full figured.  At best, she is an 11-1/2-inch doll with an oddly shaped body.  She is different.

In spite of the cons, I am grateful that Photographer exists as a non-Barbie alternative because different body types in all colors should be represented in doll form.

*Big Beautiful Dolls, Inc. Dasia was the first 12-inch full-figured fashion doll.

Blue text modifies the original post.

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