Friday, November 30, 2012

Tyra Banks as Life-Size Eve, Again

Screen-captured image of Tyra Banks with Eve dolls from the movie, Life-Size

I have never seen the Disney made-for-TV film Life-Size starring Tyra Banks as Eve, a playscale doll that comes to life.  The movie costars a young, Lindsay Lohan.  After learning about this year 2000-released movie, I wondered then if the Eve doll had been marketed.  Apparently not.

A couple of days ago, I saw the above screen-captured image of Banks holding Eve dolls on a Facebook page.  I did a mini Google search and learned there will be a sequel to the movie, Life-Size.  Tyra Banks will executive produce it with Disney for the Disney channel.  A release date has not been announced.

I may or may not view the sequel, but again I wonder if playscale dolls will be manufactured and who will design them.


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dressed and Joined By

New Guy wears blue well

My newly identified guy was made by Ever Sparkle Industrial Co., Ltd. of Hong Kong, circa early 1990s.   Ms. Leo of I-Luv-Dolls provided this information and shared a link to hers.

According to Ms. Leo, Ever Sparkle formerly made a host of different toy types including action figures and playsets until 1996 when they changed their name to Ever Sparkle Technologies and geared their product line toward software, electronics, mechanical, industrial, and packaging, as well as graphic design.

I appreciate knowing New Guy's origin and have now dressed him in a Ken non-Fashionistas fashion.  He may be challenged height-wise, but his feet are longer and wider than Ken's.  I substituted the blue shoes that came with Ken's fashion for a pair of Nike-style sneakers that I had on hand. 

He and I scanned the loose (not as in morals) playscale female section of the doll room and decided he might pair well with Top Model Nikki

Will they develop any chemistry, ever?  Only time will tell.

Nikki, who agreed to be photographed, is not so sure she will be able to reciprocate his feelings for her.


Since this guy reminds me of a former junior high classmate,  I have named him Fred.  Fred, a shorter-than-me guy, was a drummer in the school band.   I played clarinet.   Fred's skills as a drummer were quite impressive, even in 8th or 9th grade.  He even had his own drum set.  I knew this because his younger sister Ava and I, both a year younger and one grade under Fred, were besties.  I think Fred may have had a fleeting crush on me.  I had a crush, too, but mine was on one of Fred's classmates, an older, much taller guy.  Ava was attracted to this other guy, too.  I recall our mothers finding it entertaining that we could be interested in the same boy and not allow our feelings for him to interfere with our friendship.  I suppose that was easy because this other guy would not give either of us the time of day.

Years later I learned Fred went on to become a drummer for the band, Lakeside.  Not sure what happened to the other guy and frankly my dear... well, you know the rest.  


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Does Anyone Know Anything About This Guy?

Unknown playscale male by ES Toys
I found this playscale guy on eBay for $2.99 with postage of $3.48.  He was waiting at the post office for me after having arrived on the 24th of this month.  The counter PO clerk retrieved him from the back after I handed her my notice because the padded shipper would not fit in my PO box. 

She handed me the package and asked, "Is this the package you're expecting?" 
"I wasn't expecting anything."  I answered.

I was shocked by her comment: "You order so much." 

She received simultaneous silence and a frown from me.

I was speechless because most things I order are shipped to my home address.  Very rarely do I have anything shipped to my PO box but perhaps since she works there and that is the same post office that handles my home mail, she may see my name on packages frequently.  She may have been joking, but her comment took me aback for a few seconds.

Anyway, does anyone know who this hunk of dark chocolate is?  His buttocks is marked: 
ES Toys
Made in China

Markings on buttocks:  ES Toys/Made in China

Close up of unknown playscale male
I will share more pictures after I find something he can wear.  His wide hips may prevent him from wearing Ken Fashionistas clothes, but those are what I am going to try first.


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Monday, November 26, 2012

D'Azucar Dolls

After recently receiving Matoka's new dress from friend, Betty A., I telephoned Betty to personally thank her and praise her for such lovely sewing work after having not done so in decades.  During our lengthy conversation on dolls with my leaving her in suspense about which doll would wear the lovely red dress, she happened to mention owning a doll that I have been wanting for approximately four years.  With the manufacturer's name, D'Azucar, provided by Betty, and with the aid of's search engine, we both learned the desired dolls name is Buba. 

In 2008, I documented Buba's markings and other physical attributes in my second book along with his photograph.  These had been provided by my late friend, Ruth Manning.  Ruth did not know much more about him as she had purchased him on the secondary market some time prior to 2008.   She did not even know his given name.  He is listed in my book as "Unmarked 30-inch Boy Made in Spain."  Ruth named her doll, Abel.  (See Ruth's doll here, after scrolling down.)

Based on Abel's image alone, I thought he was wonderful and subconsciously placed him on my mental "gotta have" doll list.  I never actively looked for him until Betty mentioned him recently.

My search found that mint condition examples of Buba and his sister, Kolo, had been listed several times on eBay since this past September in auctions that never sold.  The seller described them as having an original retail of $400 and dating back to the 1970s or 1980s.  Initially, they had been listed for $199 each in their separate auctions.  Each of their final auctions were separate buy it nows for 2-1/2 times less, plus reasonable shipping.  During my conversation with Betty, I emailed the seller through eBay to check on the dolls' availability, specifically Buba's because I was not really interested in Kolo and expressed this to Betty.  She questioned, "You don't want the girl, too?" even though she had not seen her.  My answer then was, "No.  I don't really like her.  I just want Buba."

Well, by the time the seller and I completed our email correspondence, I had decided I could not separate Buba from his sister.  So they are now both mine and I am very happy I made that decision.

Buba and Kolo by D'Azucar Creationes of Spain, circa 1980s

Now, I know I have recently said I no longer collect large dolls their size (approximately 30 inches), but with me and dolls, there are always exceptions.

Betty wondered, during our conversation, since these dolls were made in Spain during the late 1980s, if they are copies of early Annette Himstedt dolls.  Originally her dolls were made in Spain and it was during the late 1980s/early 1990s that she discovered some of her doll molds had been counterfeited. I recall seeing an ad to this effect in one of the major doll publications which warned collectors and the culprit of this deed.  This is not to say that D'Azucar Creationes did or would have done this, but these dolls do resemble Annette's Fatou from the Barefoot Children series. 

Annette Himstedt's Fatou, the center doll, is flanked by D'Azucar Creationes' Buba on the left and Kolo on the right.  They could be from the same family, perhaps cousins. 

If my memory serves me correctly, I believe Ruth suggested the possibility to me that her "Abel" may have been a Himstedt copy.  Who knows?  What I do know is that had Betty not made and sent Matoka's new dress, I may not have conducted my mini search for "D'Azucar dolls," Buba would still be on my mental "gotta have" doll list, and his sister's existence unknown.

Something else good doll-wise (to be shared later) resulted from Matoka's gift from Betty. 

As my dear friend Ruth used to say and write, "...all things work together for good..."


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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Riviera and Rock Star Are In the House

I am not a Black Friday in-store shopper and never have been, but for doll sales, I made an exception this year, one day early.

Because of their Thanksgiving Day-only, buy one get one 70% off on all toys sale, I visited three local Family Dollar stores on Thanksgiving Day.  I arrived at the first store at about 8:05 a.m. (they opened at 8 a.m.)  I chose this store first because I had not yet checked their stock of Fashion Madness Kenya dolls and was eager to see what they had to offer.

A few weeks ago, the stock of Kenya dolls was rather depleted at the original store where I purchased my first doll, Movin On Kenya. At the time of Movin On's purchase, that store had only one of the other dolls I wanted, Rock Star, and it had a ripped seam in the side of the pants.  I wasn't sure if they had fresh stock available so I traveled to another Family Dollar first on Thanksgiving Day.

This store (the first one I visited on Thanksgiving) had all six girls in stock, but their odd property loss prevention method was disappointing in the eyes of this doll collector.  The plastic security sensor was taped to the side of the box with several evolutions of PACKAGING TAPE.  This taping method included taping the front center cellophane.  This is the only Family Dollar I have visited that uses this security method.  Why did I come here?  I was not sure if any of the other stores would have Rock Star at regular price and another doll I could buy for $6 or 70% off, so I relented and purchased two dolls there and painstakingly watched the cashier rip the side tape to remove the security sensor without any apparent regard to preserving the dolls' boxes.  "It's a good thing, I plan to debox Rock Star," I thought.  I wasn't sure how I was going to handle the remaining tape on Riviera's box since the plan was not to debox her.   

I paid for my dolls and left.  Inside the car, I gingerly removed the tape from both boxes, and just as I feared, there was lots of glue residue on the cello of each.  As I lifted Riviera's box, I saw her purse fall from her arm, but thought little of it.  From that store, my plan was to visit three more Family Dollar stores, but I actually only went to two more only because I inadvertently missed a turn on a street that would have led me to the store I did not visit.

The next store I visited was the store where I had recently witnessed a shoplifter get apprehended.  I went there specifically to see if the boys, T J and Hang Dwayne*, were in stock.  No such luck.  They only had the "same doll dressed in a different outfit," which is what the tall store clerk kept saying as he handed me each doll's box.  I had solicited his help because their more sensible security measure is to stock the dolls on an unreachable, overhead shelf in lieu of using a taped-on sensor.  I playfully hit him on the arm and instructed, "Stop saying that [same doll dressed in a different outfit]."  I explained, "I'm looking for males.  They are supposed to have males.  Look on the back of the box and you'll see one of them."   He did, and referring to TJ said, "I haven't seen this bald dude.  I've only seen the 'same girls dressed in different outfits'"  Okay, I did, I gave him a final swat but thanked him for helping me before I left the store empty handed. (Yes, Vanessa... I hit him.)

Next, I pointed my car in the direction of home but dropped in to check the stock of the Family Dollar nearest me where I thought the Kenya stock would still be depleted.  Boy was I wrong! 

They had a massive Fashion Madness display right at the front of the store across from the first checkout stall.  The display was filled with two or three shelved rows of dolls in pristine boxes  Unfortunately, no boys were in stock there either.  During this visit, I purchased a couple of household things, left, and went home, disappointed in myself for not going there first.  Oh well... I'll just have to live with a sticky box, I decided.

Back at home, I examined the dolls again from inside their boxes to be certain I had not missed any flaws.   On closer inspection of Riviera, I noticed the pink plastic handle had broken off her handbag and was also at the bottom of the box with the bag.  "Oh heck no," I thought, I'm taking this one back and not to the store where I purchased it.

I made a second trip to the store with the massive Fashion Madness display, the store nearest me... the store I should have gone to at 8:05 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.  I handed the bagged doll with receipt inside the bag to the store manager, who was working the register and told her the reason I needed to exchange it.  She said, "Here (handing me the empty bag and receipt after removing the damaged doll), just get the one you want and you're good."  Now that's what I call customer service.  After closely examining three Riviera's, I noticed that one had the same issue of broken purse handle as the one I was returning.  I put that one back, examined two others and chose the best of those two.  To the store manager as I left, I held up Riviera's box and said, "Got it.  Thank you sooooo much!"

Thanksgiving Day purchases from Family Dollar:  Fashion Madness Kenya Riviera (the one I exchanged for the damaged doll) and Rock Star Kenya.  (If you look closely at Rock Star's box after clicking the image to enlarge, you might be able to see some of the tape residue on the middle of the box from the store's ill-thought out security measure).

Rock Star will be deboxed soon.  I have special plans for her.  I do not have immediate plans to debox Riviera, which is why I wanted a good doll in a good box.  It is her picture that appears on the front of the booklet that accompanies each Fashion Madness doll.  This is the reason I want to keep her pristine, for a while at least. 

*See the entire planned Fashion Madness Kenya line, and scroll to the bottom to see the guys, TJ and Hang Dwayne, here.


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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Life and All That's In It!

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

As a child this was my bedtime prayer.  I'd add, God bless Mama, Daddy (siblings by name) and me.  I'd throw in specialized thanks for things that occurred during the day, and of course, occasionally ask for something for myself or for someone else.  Sometimes it would be for household peace, particularly on weekends, but this prayer often went unanswered.  Most days of the week were uneventful, but I hated to see Fridays come.  They were filled with uncertainty.

Hallmark image

A few years back, one of my favorite writers collaborated with Hallmark's Mahogany division.  I loved reading, buying, and sharing electronic Mahogany greetings written by Maya Angelou.  One of my favorite thank you greetings written by her is:

I want to thank you, Lord, for life and all that’s in it. Thank you for the day and for the hour, and the minute. -- Maya Angelou

These two lines of prose cover everything I could ever give thanks for -- life and all that's in it -- what could possibly be omitted from that statement?  In spite of a few minor hurdles, trials, and tribulations in my early life, my blessings have been so great they are beyond measure!  My cup has truly run over with needs that are always met.  I have experienced a life filled with peace more often than not.  Yet I am stronger as a result of the tribulations.  They served to teach lessons of how not to be, what not to accept, things to avoid, etc.

So on this day that America has set aside as Thanksgiving, as-I-do-daily, I give thanks to God for life and all [the good] that's in it.  (That's what Maya left out -- the good.)  I thank Him for the day and for the hour, and the minute (and the ability to now love Fridays and every other day of the week I am blessed to live and give.) 

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

16-inch FLOTUS Do You Have a Favorite?

Since 2009, post President Barack Obama's first election in 2008, there have been at least four, 16-inch vinyl or porcelain "portrait" dolls of First Lady Michelle Obama.  This post combines images from past blog posts of the various 16-inch FLOTUS dolls manufactured by Ashton-Drake, Danbury Mint, and Franklin Mint. The images, except where indicated, are mine (all rights reserved) and are of actual dolls, not the prototypes, which in at least one case was very misleading as the produced doll looked nothing like the advertised prototype.

Doll 1:  Danbury Mint's Michelle Obama Inaugural Doll in porcelain, not articulated

Danbury Mint's Michelle Obama Inaugural Doll wears replica of off-white gown designed by Jason Wu (worn by FLOTUS in January 2009).

See this doll and the advertised prototype here.

Doll 2:  Danbury Mint's Michelle Obama Lifelike Doll in vinyl

Danbury Mint's Michelle Obama Lifelike Doll wears replicate of the outfit worn during the Black History Month gathering on February 9, 2009.

This and the photograph immediately above are courtesy of Debra Richardson

Doll 3:  First Lady of Style Michelle Obama doll by Ashton-Drake in vinyl, articulated

First Lady of Style Michelle Obama doll by Ashton-Drake dressed in a glittering black gown inspired by the dress the First Lady wore as she greeted guests to the Govenor's Ball, February 29, 2009.

Doll 4:  Franklin Mint's Michelle Obama Official White House Vinyl Portrait Doll 

Michelle Obama Official White House Vinyl Portrait Doll  by Franklin Mint wears a black sheath inspired by the dress worn for the First Lady's official White House portrait.

Based on these images and/or if you own or have seen either of the dolls in person, which of the dolls illustrated here is your favorite and why?

Thanks in advance for your answer/comment.


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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale 12/02/12

The Shopper by Diana Stanley - Photograph courtesy of Ellen Ferebee



The Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale
Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2, 2012

(New York, NY—November 7, 2012)--The Morrisania Doll Society will present The Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale, on Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2, 2012, at the LeRoy Nieman Art Center located at 2785 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (147th & 148th Sts.).  Show hours are Saturday, 12-6 PM and Sunday, 12-5 PM.

Faceless doll by Queenhealer 7 - Photograph courtesy of Ellen Ferebee
The Show will showcase a variety of vintage, mass produced and fine art black dolls and will feature doll artists Joyce Stroman, Tanya Montq [Montegut], Queen Healer7, Diana Stanley, Shirley Nigro and others who will present their exquisite handcrafted dolls and doll accessories.  Beverly Flowers, a noted dealer in antique and vintage dolls will be at the show on Saturday, December 1 only.  Dolls will be available for purchase in every price range.
The Morrisania Doll Society has hosted an annual doll show since December 2000.  “We  invite everyone to come and see these fine works of art.  Collecting black dolls has made me more aware of the outstanding level of creativity our community possesses.  We’re also excited to have this holiday event at the LeRoy Nieman Art Center, which has barrier-free access.  We thank Arts Horizons for giving us the opportunity to host the show at this spacious art center,” says Ellen Ferebee, founder of the Doll Society.  She added that, “We will also be screening the documentary:  Why Do You Have Black Dolls? by Samantha Knowles.”
Arts Horizons is a not for profit organization that provides arts education through performances and artist-in-residence programs to students and teachers throughout the tri-state region.
The LeRoy Nieman Art Center, founded in 2008 through generous funding by American painter LeRoy Nieman, provides a nurturing environment for a wide variety of creative learning.
The Morrisania Doll Society was formed in 2000 to bring together doll collectors and doll artists and to help preserve the history and culture of African-American doll making. 
For more information on The Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale, please call 917-655-8531 or email


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Saturday, November 17, 2012

eBay Cash Back is Back through Ebates

Screen-captured image

Are you an eBay buyer?  Are you already registered with  If you answered, "yes" to both questions, you are eligible to receive up to 3.0% cash back when you link to through prior to completing your eBay purchases.

If you are not already a registered user, you can register here.  Then each time you win an auction on eBay, link to eBay prior to paying for the auction to receive up to 3.0 cash back, which will be mailed by check directly to you or deposited in your Paypal account.  Cash back is issued quarterly and the percentages vary from merchant to merchant.  That information is always disclosed on Ebates when you link to the merchants' site.

I have been an member since December 2008.  To date, I have received $318.52 cash back from online purchases through several online merchants including eBay in the past before they discontinued their Ebates affiliation, but now it is back!

Based on my recent purchase and/or browsing history, I have received Ebates cash backs from,, and, if I use their service; I will receive cash back from  Ebates partners "with 1,500 stores including Sephora, JCPenney, Kohl's, Home Depot,, Groupon, and Walmart, so you are sure to find your favorites."

 Before I make any online purchases, I go to to determine if the merchant is an Ebates affiliate.  If they are, I link to their site through Ebates prior to making the purchase.  Every little bit helps!


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Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas Portraits

This post had been in draft mode for several months to nearly a year if not a year.  I was undecided until now whether I should publish what I deem sensitive, personal information, even if it is doll related.  

Recently my husband inquired about the whereabouts of a pair of dolls.  This same question had been asked by my #1 grandson approximately two weeks prior.  Their questions prompted me to finally publish this post.

The dolls in question are portrait dolls of my two grandsons (my daughter's children).  They had been readily visible in the doll room prior to my moving them to a safer location a while back.  Made of resin but not quite as fragile as porcelain, resin is still fragile.  I thought this doll pair would be safer in their new location, but that area hid them from view (as illustrated in the image below).  

Built-in wall shelf has additional tiered rows of dolls in front.  The two dolls my husband and grandson asked about are on the fourth shelf, obscured by three indigenous Australian dolls and two Baby Whitney dolls. (Click to enlarge.)

Caleb and Logan mini portrait dolls by Ping Lau

In the summer of 2008, I commissioned doll artist, Ping Lau, to make portrait dolls of my grandsons, Caleb and Logan.  The boys were 7-1/2 and 2-1/2 at the time.  After agreeing, Ping asked me to submit several photographs of the boys taken at different angles.  I did, but with much difficulty because the "baby" was not very cooperative.  I submitted some 30 photographs, and by Christmas of 2008, the portrait dolls of the boys arrived -- a perfect Christmas present from me to me.   They remain my top favorite dolls and probably always will.

I made my first doll video using images of the various stages of the dolls' production that Ping shared with me.   Until now, I have only shared the video with my daughter and a few select online doll friends.  I have now decided to share it publicly.

The video also includes completed images of the dolls along with some of the images of the boys that were used to capture their likeness in doll form.

I hope you enjoy the video and soundtrack.  (It takes a few seconds to begin and at the end there is a pause before the credits roll -- proof of my first time using Microsoft's MovieMaker.)

The lyrics to the soundtrack are below the final image.


Moved to the opposite side of the doll room to another built-in shelf, the portrait dolls are now visible.

The portrait dolls of my grandsons are now in a more visible area in the doll room as illustrated in the above image.  This should please both my husband and Grandson #1, who is now 11-1/2.  The "baby," who is now 6-1/2, probably had not missed their formerly blocked view.

The Makings of You
Curtis Mayfield, 1970

Add a little sugar, honeysuckle, and
A great big expression of happiness
Boy, you couldn't miss
With a dozen roses, such would astound you
The joy of children laughing around you
These are the makings of you
It is true, the makings of you

The righteous way to go
Little one would know
Or believe if I told them so
You’re second to none
The love of all mankind
Should reflect some sign
Of these words I’ve tried to recite
They are close but not quite
Almost impossible to do
Reciting the makings of you

The righteous way to go
Little one would know
Or believe if I told them so
You’re second to none
The love of all mankind
Should reflect some sign
Of these words I’ve tried to recite
They are close but not quite
Almost impossible to do
Reciting the makings of you


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Fashion, New Attitude

Swappin' Styles Artsy after recent repaint

The last time readers saw Swappin' Styles Artsy, she had undergone a repaint to enclose her former toothy grin.  Additional minor facial enhancement was done as well.  She had been dressed in a $3 Mattel Barbie purple and yellow print, one-shoulder dress, as shown above.

Artsy is now redressed in a handmade tan dress, belted at the waist, which is topped off with an animal-print jacket.  Gold lamΓ© shoulder bag, sunglasses, pet, and shoes are from Barbie Basics Look No 02, Collection 001 accessory pack.  Now all she needs are upgraded earrings and bracelet to complete her new look and new attitude.

Artsy asks, "How do I look?"


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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Matoka's New Dress

Waiting for me in my PO Box yesterday was a package from doll friend, Betty A.  The package included a note card along with a dress for one of my child-size dolls.  Betty wrote, "Somehow my desire to sew has returned.  The outfit I've sent is an example of my return to sewing."

It is a lovely cranberry red dress with cap sleeves.  Betty also sent photographs of one of her Himstedt dolls modeling several other dresses she has been inspired to sew.

Preparing to redress her, I undressed Elisabeth Lindner's doll, Tamina, only to discover that a portion of her upper arms is cloth.  The cloth portion would be exposed if she were to wear the new dress.  

Tamina by Elisabeth Lindner

The lucky redressed girl is Annette Himstedt's Matoka. The dress fits her to a "T."

Matoka and her new dress (she's holding Jamilla by Wendy Lawton); Jamilla's yellow dress matches the yellow sheer ribbon of Matoka's dress.

This well-mannered young lady was allowed to stand in the chair for this picture; otherwise, she knows standing in chairs is a no-no.

Matoka is one of the few dolls that I redress during the Christmas season.  She is now several weeks early for Christmas thanks to doll-friend, Betty, whose sewing is flawless!  

Thank you, Betty!


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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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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Clones Cut From the Same Mold

Designer's Choice Kari Michell dolls

The doll in the middle was purchased from Big Lots a couple of months ago after I signed up for a repainting project with plans to use this doll as my subject.  The redhead wears a full-length pink "silk" gown with faux fur pink shrug.  A casual fashion of pink sweater and pink skirt with ruffled hem is included.  Accessories are two different styles of pink high heels and two different pink purses.  The doll wears simulated pearl cross-shaped earrings and necklace.  Big Lots' $10 price is decent for the clothing and accessories alone, which I will probably use for other dolls.

African American Designer's Choice Kari Michell dolls

After reading an informative Limbe Dolls post, The Spice of Life: Part 1, I discovered the Kari Michell dolls are made by the manufacturer of World Peacekeepers and Power Team Elite action figures  Familiar with the quality of M and C Toy Centre Ltd's action figures, I wanted and found the two African American Kari Michell dolls on eBay.  They were offered in the same auction for $24.99 with free shipping. 

Head shots of the three dolls

Unlike the white version, the African American dolls do not have an extra fashion.  Like the white version, they all share the same generic, nondescript face sculpt.  Even though the dolls are not articulated, I wanted to add them to my Black Barbie clone/competitor collection. These are not actually Barbie clones because they do not look like any current or past head sculpt used for Barbie and/or Barbie's friends. The Kari Michel dolls fall into the competitor category. 

Both AA versions have black-rooted hair, and brown-painted eyes. They wear pearl heart-shaped earrings.  One doll wears a burgundy faux suede jacket, burgundy pleather pants, a fuchsia knit top, a burgundy handbag, and burgundy high heels.  The other wears a black sparkly pullover sweater, a black faux leather pencil skirt, black high heels, and a black handbag.

All three dolls have a box date of 2005, but I do not know if the company is still producing African American versions.  At the time I purchased the redhead, Big Lots had a large supply of white Kari Michell dolls.  I have never seen an African American Kari Michell there or anywhere locally.    


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Braxton-Hicks Angel

Third trimester (8 months)

Thirty-five years ago today, the day of the week was Sunday.  Husband and I had gone to eat Mexican food the evening before after which we walked the mall to expedite the delivery of our first-born child whose proposed due date was November 7, 2012.  I am not sure if it was the Mexican cuisine or the walking that caused the "bloody show."  After informing my doctor of this symptom, he instructed me to go to the hospital where I had already been preadmitted.  His plan was to induce labor, which was not really necessary but the bloody show was a reason that he could attempt to control the date of delivery.

By 9 p.m., November 5, 1977, my husband and I were in the labor and delivery unit of the hospital with my mother and sister waiting nervously outside.  Owing to her nervous stomach, I would later learn that my sister actually became ill during the waiting period.  Poor thing.

My mother and sister in waiting room

Things went smoothly that Saturday evening.  After the IV of Pitocin was started, I began experiencing mild labor pains, Braxton-Hicks type, a little more painful than menstrual cramps.  Nonchalantly, I asked the first set of nurses who attended me, "Is this all there is to it?"  I didn't read the meaning of their silence and glances at one another and then back at me.  I continued to assume that I was experiencing true labor pains and that my planned natural birth delivery would be a breeze.

Shortly before their shift ended, the nurses wished me good luck and introduced me to the women who would take over in their absence.  Finally, reality set in along with true labor pains.  I had never experienced such severe pain in my life!  It was as though my insides were being torn into microscopic pieces to inflict extreme, unrelenting torture.  I wanted to die, but first, as I informed my husband, "Let's-go-home! I-don't-want-to-do-this!"  His reply was, "Debbie, we can't go home.  You can do this.  You have to." 

Everything from that point until 3:58 a.m., Sunday, November 6, 1977, when I gave birth to my beautiful, 8-pound 9-ounce daughter is a blur.  I was glad it was over and after seeing my little angel, I knew I would do it all over again if she would be the reward.

First photo

Six weeks postpartum

At age 4

Happy birthday to my first born angel, Angela, who will always be my baby girl. 

This one final (fuzzy) picture adds a doll relevance to this post:
Daughter, age 8 with Berjusa doll, two Cabbage Patch dolls (holding), and a handmade CPK look alike.
My first born with her first born (this photo, taken in 2015, was added in 2016, four years after this post was originally published).


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Monday, November 5, 2012

Big Jim and Big Jack and Other Paper Doll Additionss

Big Jim and Big Jack Play Figures with Sports Outfits paper doll book, 1988

The paper dolls included here were purchased in September from the same eBay paper doll seller, (Dovey) who often sells paper dolls of color.  I wanted the Big Jim and Big Jack paper doll book because I collect black paper dolls and because I own Mattel's Big Jack doll.  

The Big Jim and Big Jack paper doll book includes the two 9-inch paper dolls with stands and four fashion pages, each containing two fashions for Big Jim and two for Big Jack.  This Whitman book was published in 1988 by Western Publishing Company Inc. and originally sold for 79 cents.  Big Jim and Big Jack are registered trademarks of Mattel, 1976.  I paid roughly $7 and some change while other eBay sellers were offering the same uncut version for as much as 40-something dollars -- proof that you really have to be selective with eBay purchases and compare prices. 

Dovey had the following two diverse paper doll books on eBay at the same time Big Jim and Big Jack's book was offered.

Dollies go 'round the World paper doll book, 1971

Dollies go 'round the World includes three, nameless, 7-inch push-out dolls with stands (a dark-skinned girl, a blonde, and a redhead). The dolls can share the several pages of colorful costumes and wigs representing Greece, Japan, West Africa, Algeria, Switzerland, Turkey, Israel, Belgium, Netherlands, Thailand, Scotland, Spain, Egypt, Canada, Philippines, Norway, France, Italy, Hawaii, and Peru.  Published by James and Jonathan, Inc. 1971, this paper doll book had an original price of 29 cents and probably served as an excellent social studies tool for 1970s little ones who owned it.

The Trend-Setters paper doll book by Alina M. Kolluri, 2006

The Trend-Setters is an autographed paper doll cut-out book by Alina M. Kolluri (I believe she is Dovey, the eBay seller from whom the book was purchased).  The book includes four, 6-inch female paper dolls of diverse ethnicities and eight sheets of colorful, trendy fashions representing their different cultures.  Raven is African American.  Daisy is a redhead.  Jade is brunette and Summer is blonde.


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