Thursday, February 28, 2013

Nelson R. Mandela Ltd. Ed. Talking Action Figure

After searching this blog for a prior post on the Nelson R. Mandela Talking Action Figure and finding none, I stopped on this final day of Black History Month to share.

Prior to purchasing my own Nelson R. Mandela figure, the following details about it were included in chapter 6 on page 329 of my book, Black Dolls:  A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion (2008):

Illustration 699 - Time Capsule Toys®Nelson R. Mandela, ca. 2003  (actually made in 2005)
Material:  All vinyl
Height:  12in/30.48cm
Hair/Eyes/Mouth:  Molded gray hair/painted blue/smiling, open mouth with teeth
Clothing:  Blue three-piece suit, white shirt, blue tie, black shoes
Other:  The first democratically-elected President of South Africa portrayed as a talking action figure, speaks 23 unique and authentic phrases; limited to 10,000, comes with doll stand.
Value:  $60
Photograph courtesy of Debra Richardson


While writing my third book, published in 2010, I acquired my own Nelson R. Mandela and through me, he wrote the following entry on page 115 of The Doll Blogs:  When Dolls Speak, I Listen:

­Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I finally arrived to Texas today along with two additional dolls.  Debbie ordered me at least two months ago from an seller, who obviously had some difficulty fulfilling the order.  She plans to keep me in my box, but would like to hear the 23 unique phrases I am supposed to speak in the voice of the real person I represent, Nelson R. Mandela, the first democratically-elected president of South Africa, who served from 1994 through 1999.  It is a mystery to Debbie why Time Capsule Toys, Inc. made my eyes blue.  The type of batteries that I require is also a mystery.   The current batteries are obviously dead because I remain mute when Debbie presses my chest in an attempt to hear me speak.   


The Nelson R. Mandela figure also includes a biographical pamphlet covering the president's life before and during his service as the first democratically-elected President of South Africa with the inclusion of biographical facts and rare photographs.

Close-up image of Nelson R. Mandela Action Figure; the eyes appear more green than blue to me now.

I have yet to hear Mandela speak, but I disrobed him this morning and removed his three dead 357/303 Energizer batteries.  I plan to replace these with working batteries soon as I am still eager to hear his up to four minutes of audio, the text of  which is included on the inside flap of the box.  His first and last statements are shown as:

  • I have dedicated my life to this struggle.
  • It seems most strange that man should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.  Now men who believe in that, you disappear under a cloud of glory, your name lives beyond the grave.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leo Moss-Type Doll by B. Formaz

Back in early January during a Ruby Lane sales event, I browsed the site for "black dolls" and stumbled upon what my eyes could not believe I was seeing in the tiny thumbnail image of the doll I initially recognized as a Leo Moss or Leo Moss-type.  The price of less than $100 is why I could not believe what I was seeing as original Leo Moss dolls sell for several thousand dollars in today's market. 

After enlarging the Ruby Lane image and reading the dolls' description, entitled black bisque doll, it became apparent that the doll was fashioned in the likeness of a Leo Moss doll and quite possibly, according to documented information about his dolls, was molded from an original sculpt.  The indicator of this was the seller's description that the doll was signed "B. Formaz."  (Oh-my-goodness, I thought.)  This revelation took place during the wee-wee hours of the morning while still in bed, surfing the Internet with my Kindle Fire during an episode of insomnia.  I immediately went to the doll room to get a better look at the images, to read the description, and to make the purchase on a safer device (my desktop computer) before going back to bed, happy about the find.

Leo Moss-type doll by B. Formaz

After the doll arrived, I photographed her, as usual, and entered the purchase information in my Doll Inventory Excel spread sheet as follows:

Description:  Probably made from an original, circa late 1800s through early 1900s Leo Moss mold; 15-inch character baby has porcelain head and hands; brown stockinette body, legs, and feet; brown inset eyes with tear stained cheeks, typical of Leo Moss dolls; open/closed mouth with molded tongue; frowning eyebrows; black molded tightly curled short hair; wears pink and white gingham dress, matching bonnet with ruffled trim and floral appliqué, matching panties, white socks, pink felt Mary Janes with black soles; signed B. Formaz on neck.

Under the heading, Other, I wrote:
B. Formaz is most likely Betty Formaz who, according to Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide 1820-1991, "brought Moss's dolls to the doll collecting world after having visited the home of Ruby Moss, daughter of Leo Moss. Betty purchased 39 of the Moss dolls and acquired most of the information on the artist."  Described by Perkins as a collector and restorer, it is safely assumed that Formaz used one of those 39 original Leo Moss dolls to create the mold for my doll.

While my doll is a bisque and cloth rendition, Moss, a native of Macon, GA, and handyman by trade, sculpted his doll heads of paper-mache without the use of molds during the late 1800s through early 1900s.  He purchased manufactured bodies from a New York toy supplier. 

Moss used family members and friends as subjects for his dolls.   Research shows if a child cried during the sculpting process, he included the tears. A twist to this story is Moss added tears to child dolls after his wife left him and all, except their youngest child, a baby, to run off with the NY toy supplier!
Close-up of Hattie

I am uncertain what caused my doll's tears.  The doll's original name also remains a mystery.  What I do know is that it was made by the woman who brought Moss's dolls to the doll community.  Initially I was going to name the doll Betty, but I kept hearing the name Hattie in my head after she arrived; so Hattie she is.

In searching the Internet for additional Leo Moss-type dolls made by Betty Formaz, I was able to find only one other.  Described as a circa 1974 doll, it is not as distinctively Moss as my Hattie.  This other doll did, however, win a first place ribbon at the United Federation of Doll Clubs' 25th Annual Exhibit in Miami, Florida and can be seen here

For more information about Leo Moss dolls, the reader is referred to my prior blog posts at the following links:

An an in-depth article on Leo Moss dolls resulting from months of research, can be read here.


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Monday, February 25, 2013

Hallmark's Dr. George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver, Hallmark 1979

Hallmark's George Washington Carver is a 7-1/2-inch tall, all-cloth doll with screen-printed facial features.  He wears a removable laboratory coat.  His shirt, tie, pants, and shoes are screen printed onto his cloth body.

Box contains Tuskegee Institute graphics
Presented inside a building-shaped box, the words, "Tuskegee Institute Founded 1881" are written above the green double-doors.  (Click the above image to enlarge.)

Inside flap of box and Carver doll

  The inside flap reads:

George Washington Carver
(c. 1864-1943)

In 1896 George Washington Carver, a pioneer in soil management and crop rotation, became the director of agricultural research at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he discovered that nutrients in southern farmlands, exhausted by the continual planting of cotton, could be restored by cultivating peanuts and sweet potatoes.  By developing literally hundreds of industrial uses for these crops, he made the South an important supplier of new agricultural products and earned a place in the history of agriculture as one of its most respected and inventive figures.  
Back of box

The Tuskegee Institute graphics continue on the back of the box, including images of a plant-filled glass box, as shown above.

From the Famous Americans Series I, 1979, according to Black Dolls An Identification and Value Guide 1820-1991 by Myla Perkins (Collector Books 1993/1995), "This [doll] was probably made for Black History Month." 

Read more and view a brief, yet informative, video about the real, Dr. George Washington Carver here.


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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rosemary's New No-Sew Dress

Rosemary's new no-sew dress (click to enlarge)

Shortly after introducing Rosemary Rock Flowers in a post about these 1971-1974 dolls by Mattel, her new colorful dress was fashioned from the scarf she is positioned alongside.  She had been wearing a Dawn dress as shown in the previous post.

To make the dress, I trimmed a small portion from the end of the scarf and wrapped it around Rosemary's body twice.  From top-back-to-front, the remainder was wrapped around each arm.  Finally, the remaining inch or so was tucked between the wrapped layers in back.

Rosemary's new dress from the back

I was inspired to share photos of Rosemary's new dress on Facebook a few days ago after viewing the following, circa 1940s video of the Great Drapo illustrating his technique for making fashionable no-sew dresses for women.

Rosemary's dress is not as haute couture as the ones fashioned by the Great Drapo, but she says, "Anything is better than that Dawn dress.  You know I would have never chosen that for myself!"

Thanks Steve for sharing the video!


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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Black Is Beautiful: Why Black Dolls Matter

Rashahn and Lil Bitty Kayla by Lorna Miller-Sands; and doll with painted cloth face by Rita Williams of Crafty Sisters.

I was one of several people interviewed by Lisa Hix of Collectors Weekly on the subject of black dolls. The results of the interview are included in Hix's beautifully written article, "Black Is Beautiful:  Why Black Dolls Matter."  The article was published today and can be read here


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Positively Precious Twins

I had been wanting to see the Positively Perfect Divas in person since learning about them last year.  I had hoped they would arrive in this area prior to Christmas.  One would have been a gift for my 7-year-old niece.

Finally in mid-January, I saw all three Positively Perfect Divas at Wal-Mart:  Zair, Diana, and Abrielle.  I was very tempted to buy Zair but left her there only to return two weeks later and purchase two because those were the only ones left.  Diana and Abrielle had sold!

Positively Perfect Diva Zair by EPI
On the date of purchase, initially I went to the register with one Zair.  After paying for my items, I examined my receipt and noted a $10.47 discount for Zair; I was only charged $9.50!  So, like any plangonologist (even though they might say they don't actively collect this type doll), I took my items to the car and went back in the store and purchased the other Zair. 

My Zair has been deboxed.

For now the two are twins, but my niece will receive one for her 8th birthday this summer.

Mini Review of the Positively Perfect Divas:
  • The dolls are pleasing to the eye.
  • They have stationary eyes.
  • They are available in two skin tones with a choice of curly hair or straight for the two with the darker complexion.
  • The lighter doll, Abrielle, can be considered  African American, Hispanic or biracial.  
  • The retail of around $20 is reasonable for the quality of doll the intended recipient (a child age 3+) will receive:  a doll with rooted, comb-able hair, with easily removable, fashionable clothing.
  • The dolls are fastened in the box with rubber bands, which provides easy removal.
  • At 18-inches, the dolls should be able to wear most clothing made for 18-inch American Girl-type dolls including 18-inch Madame Alexander playline dolls.
Cons (from a collector's perspective only -- ignore these if the intended recipient is a child)
  • The doll has more cloth than vinyl and the vinyl is not as firm as that used for American Girl dolls.
  • The cloth areas are not tightly stuffed, especially the torso.  This results in a cuddly doll, which may have been the designer's intent.
  • The dolls cannot stand alone.
  • Zair's super curly hair may not be easy for a child to comb.  The top of the hair is not as curly as the mid-to-lower strands, however. 
Zair has super curly hair.  It may not be easy to comb and if it is, it may wind up being a bit unruly.

Zair's cloth areas are loosely stuffed as illustrated in the above image; she cannot stand alone.  Full vinyl legs and arms would have been better.

This is a height comparison photo of Zair and American Girl Kaya.

A child age 3+ should enjoy the Positively Perfect Divas.  Many doll collectors (plangonologists) who do not mind owning cuddly dolls might consider them positively perfect.

Read the company's story here.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Afro Blowout

If you were breathing in the 1970s and closely connected to the African American (then Black) community, you either knew someone who wore an Afro or you wore one yourself fashioned with your own hair or a wig.  There were girls in the community whose hair was too short to create the huge Afro popularized by civil rights activist/educator, Angela Davis.  So they opted for the next best thing, an Afro wig.  Most  were made of black synthetic fibers, but there was the occasional blonde Afro wig as well. 

When Afro puffs became popular, girls created that style using their own hair and also with synthetic, attachable Afro puffs.  At around age 16, I once styled my hair in Afro puffs for a Friday night party I attended.  A male classmate refused to believe the puffs were created with my own hair and insisted that I couldn't make my hair do that until he touched it and realized he was wrong. 

It wasn't until the mid-70s that I wore a constant Afro.  That was freedom.  All I had to do was shower and go.  The steam from the shower softened my hair enough to "pick it out" with my baby blue plastic Afro pick.  For me, Johnson's Afro Sheen Blowout Kit was not a necessity.   My freedom 'fro was a nice size as shown in the image below.

This picture was taken in the office of the radiologist with whom I worked, circa 1974.  A photography buff, after handing him a stack of reports to sign, the doctor asked me to take a seat so he could photograph me.  I complied.  After working with him and his partner for two years, I  was offered another position by one of their colleagues, a local pathologist.  The pay was more lucrative.  So I resigned the old and accepted the new position.  A few days before my final day, the radiologist handed me a dictation belt (pre-cassette tape era) to transcribe what I thought was x-ray report dictation.  Instead, it was an unrequested letter of recommendation.   I still have the original and the carbon copies of that letter that I never needed to use.  A man of few words, this was a nice gesture of his appreciation.  I was quite saddened upon discovering his death a few years after leaving the hospital's employe.

While sitting at my work desk in my home office/doll room the other day, I glanced at Barbie Basics Model 04 who stands atop my desk.  She was still as seen a few weeks ago in my Ebonilicious post wearing a borrowed Afro wig.  Her loosely connected curls gave me the urge to grab my plastic-bristle doll bush to manually blowout her curls into a well-formed Angela Davis-style 'fro. 

Here's a link to a close-up image of how her Afro looked before the blowout.  Below is how Model 04 looks now.

Barbie Basics Model 04 Collection 001 with Angela Davis-style Afro wig
Model 04 with blown-out Afro is back on the work desk with the other dolls that surround me while I work.

Hers is the Afro of my youth.  The one African American women proudly wore back in the day in varying lengths to embrace their natural essence, and back then, the bigger, the better by any means necessary. 


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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Every Fashion Doll is NOT Barbie and...

...every doll is not made for children.

Do these all look like Barbies to you?  From left-to-right they are, I can be President Barbie; repainted one-of-kind Barbie by Chynadoll Creations (meant for the adult collector); High Brow Adèle by Integrity Toys (an adult collectible doll); and Esmé, a 16-inch fashion doll by Robert Tonner (adult collectible).

I was prompted to sit down and compose this post after reading an article dated February 16, 2013, that refers to an Integrity Toys Adèle from 2004 as a Barbie, designed for child's play.  In the article, entitled,"Image of New Black Barbie Doll Sparks Outrage," the author writes:

An image of a brown Barbie doll has surfaced on the Internet, causing people to question whether or not it is supposed to be the next African-American Barbie. The doll is sporting blonde hair, gold chains, cleavage, and two bags that are strikingly similar to the Louis Vuitton monogram multicolor collection.

The doll and the author's opening statement as well as many of the comments (excluding a few), which were apparently posted by non-collectors, caused me to wonder why the non-collecting community is so misinformed about dolls in general and why every fashion doll is incorrectly identified as Barbie.

First of all, there are many doll categories.  Some of these are listed and defined below:
  • Antique - According to the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC), a doll of at least 75 years; other authorities define antique dolls as dolls of at least 100 years.
  • Art -  Dolls created by artists and intended as expressive and unique art objects rather than children's toys. 
  • Artist - Dolls made by doll artists, usually in limited editions or as one of a kinds (OOAKs), for adult collectors
  • Collectible - Dolls designed for adults who collect dolls as a hobby.
  • Fashion - Dolls dressed in trendy or haute couture-like fashions, made for children as well as adult collectors.
  • Modern - Dolls made from 1960s through present (this definition can vary).
  • One-of-a-Kind (OOAK):  Dolls made in an edition of 1 by doll artists; can also be an artist or manufactured doll repainted by a repaint artist; in essence only one of the doll in its present state exists.
  • Playline - Dolls fashioned as a child's toy.
  • Reborn - Dolls that originated as baby dolls sculpted by a doll artist which are later fashioned to look like real babies using painting, hair re-rooting, and other techniques developed by reborn artists.
  • Repaints - Artist or manufactured dolls used as a canvas by repaint doll artists who add realism through repainting the facial features and skin tones, and/or changing the hair by re-rooting or re-wigging, resulting in one-of-a-kind dolls because no two will ever look alike.
  • Vintage - Dolls made prior to the 1960s (this definition may vary based on doll type).
For the purpose of this post, I will focus on fashion, collectible, and playline dolls.

While Barbie maintains the highest profile worldwide among fashion dolls, not every fashion doll is a Barbie.  I might also stress that while Mattel (the manufacturer of Barbie and her host of friends) creates dolls for children sold by toy retailers and through their own online website, every Barbie is not designed for child's play.  There are playline Barbies as well as several collectors editions.

For misinformed non-doll collectors and parents who often display a knee-jerk reaction to dolls designed for adults, please relax-relate-release.  Just because you see a fashion doll that you think is a Barbie made for children that portrays an image that you deem inappropriate for a child, in most situations the doll was fashioned for adult collectors by a manufacturer or doll artist other than Mattel.   There is no need to start a campaign against the doll or manufacturer or to create an otherwise pseudo-controversy, as in the case of the Django Unchained movie-memorabilia-action-figures-made-for-adults fiasco.

No, we are not all Barbies and only one of us is a child's toy!

The bottom line is this:  Just because a three-dimensional, inanimate object is defined as a doll does not mean that object was intended for child's play.  If you are not a doll collector and you see a doll that raises your eyebrows or causes you to wonder what the doll maker was thinking, ask an authority on the subject before jumping to an inflammatory (and often incorrect) conclusion.

Click here to view the doll (Perfect Skin Adèle Makéda) designed by Jason Wu for Integrity Toys in 2004 and the article that sparked this post. 

Doll Terminology Resources (other than my own): 
Art Dolls
Doll Glossary: Words About Dolls and Doll Collecting by Shirley E. Childers (Kindle book)
What is an Antique Doll


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Friday, February 15, 2013

Adele's Fate Initially Uncertain

Close-Up Adèle

Close-up Adèle arrived a week ago today.  As usual, I did not open her box immediately to inspect her.  That was done this past Sunday, February 10, 2013.  My initial impression:  She's all that I expected and more! 

It was obvious that she had never been removed from the box as all manufacturer's plastic and ties remained in place.  I gently removed her from the box and could see protective plastic on her upper arms.  Its removal required me to remove her robe.  I gasped when I saw what's illustrated in the following two images.

Upper arm staining!

On both arms!

Yes, Adèle's upper arms are dye-stained in a pattern that looks like flubbed tattoos.  With it being the weekend, I knew I probably would not hear from the seller until the next day, but I sent an email with the two above images attached.  I wrote:

I received the Adele Close-Up that I ordered from you last week.  On removing her from the box this morning, I noticed that both of the doll’s upper arms are badly stained possibly from the dye in the black robe.  This was not mentioned  on your website.  I have attached photos of the staining for your review. 

Had the staining been disclosed, I would not have ordered and definitely would not have paid as much.  What is your return policy?

While I awaited the reply, Adèle was placed back inside the Fashion Royalty box and that box placed back inside the shipping box.  I anticipated sending her back to her city of origin at the seller's expense.

The next day I received the seller's emailed apology for the oversight and the option of returning Adèle for a full refund or making an offer on how much discount I thought was fair should I choose to keep the doll.

I chose the second option.  My fair-discount offer was accepted.

Full length picture of  the partially disrobed Adèle with stained arms

Now I need to find a new body for her, a fully articulated one.

Arm stains slathered with Oxy-10 as a stain-removal attempt

In the meantime I have applied Oxy-10 to the stains to see if it removes them.  If it does, the old body can be used for another doll because Adèle will eventually get re-bodied.

Has anyone else experienced stained vinyl on Integrity dolls or any others?  


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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cute Valentine's Day Card and Fashions

Cute Mahogany Valentine's Day card

(This post was prematurely published a few days ago in my failed attempt to schedule it for publishing on Valentine's Day.  A few followers may have seen a glimpse of it because of the pre-publishing blunder.)  Anyway...

I purchased two of the above Valentine's Day cards in the Mahogany section of  Hallmark cards at Wal-Mart.  I mailed one to a friend and kept one for myself because the little girl is just so darn cute! 

The inside reads:

On Valentine's Day
and all year through,
I'm glad to have a friend like You!

Happy ♥ Day!

This month I participated in a doll swap with the So In Style Yahoo Group.  I purchased two Valentine's Day-themed fashions from eBay seller Barbie-Couture.  One of the fashions went with a So In Style Grace to my swap recipient.  I was going to share photos of Grace, but maybe later after the recipient has shared her own photos with the SIS Group.  I kept the other fashion for one of my dolls.

Love-themed fashion by eBay seller, Barbie-Couture, modeled by Swappin' Styles Artsy

Artsy is wearing this funky two-piece pants and halter outfit by Barbie-Couture.  The hearts and the words "love" and "everyday" incorporated in the print give it more of a "love everyday" theme than Valentine's Day.  I like that message better.  We should express our love everyday not just on special days established by someone else. 

I deboxed Nikki after having her for several months, whose lips and hearts-print dress ties in well with Artsy's fashion. 

Happy ♥ Day!


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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

They Upped the Price of the S.I.S. Baby Phat Dolls!

I decided to check the availability of stock on the SIS Baby Phat dolls at whose initial price had been $11.97.  The dolls were out of stock there when I first mentioned them in a previous blog post.

Today, the dolls are $19.99 at!  I was about to email them to inquire about the price hike before I saw the link which "explains" why the price is higher than the suggested retail price. 

Go see: (enter:  so in style barbie baby phat in their search box).

So if you don't mind paying $19.99 x 4, you'll "enjoy" free shipping since purchases of $50 and up are shipped free.  Or, you might just want to wait it out and find the dolls locally. 


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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Day Special from Hamilo Baby Dolls

Americana Fairy Babies, Victory - Photo from

I was given permission to share the following sales notice from Hamilo, LLC:

Happy Valentine’s Day Special

February 9- February14, 2013 only!

Dear Customer,

We want to say thank you for ordering our dolls in the past.  You are very special to us and we appreciate your business. 

We would like to offer you this very special unadvertised event for Valentine’s Day. 

Buy two dolls and get a third doll for 50% off!

Please visit the website at: to view the current inventory; click the contact link (or email by clicking here); and indicate the 3 dolls you would like.

We will send you an invoice for the purchase.


Hamilo, LLC

For additional information, please contact Hamilo Baby Dolls directly:


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Monday, February 11, 2013

No Baby Sling Included

Naila and Ari by Renate Hockh, artist dolls from the 1990s

I don't remember what I was looking for when I found Naila and Ari on eBay.  The auction had a beginning bid of $24.99, so I placed it in my eBay watch.  I thought, "I know these are larger than I need and are really not typical of what I am adding to my doll family now, but for $24.99, they are worth watching."

Naila and Ari are marked 1992 and 1993, respectively (as incised on their napes).  Representing Balinese children, they were sculpted by German doll artist, Renate Hockh, and are part of the Doll Children of the World series of Doll Makers Originals International.  The dolls were made in a limited edition of 1000 each.  Their numbers are 817 (Naila) and 532 (Ari).  Naila measures 26 inches and Ari is 15 inches;  they are usually described as being 27 and 16 inches tall.

I was the only bidder. 

Naila by Renate Hockh

Ari by Renate Hockh; he has the sweetest face.

The dolls arrived pristine with their hang tags in place.  These have been removed and stored with other dolls' certificates and hang tags.  Naila came with her doll stand but Ari's original baby sling was missing (so I thought). 

This post had been in draft mode and named for quite some time prior to publishing.  Some two weeks after drafting it, I still had the shipping box that contained the mounds of bubble wrap the seller used to protect the dolls during their travel.  I needed to use some of the bubble wrap on a package that I shipped recently.  Out with the bubble wrap fell Ari's baby sling.  I was very surprised and happy that I had not discarded the bubble wrap or the box, which will eventually be broken down and recycled.

Having made themselves at home and after receiving warm welcomes from others in the doll family, below are Naila with Ari held as the artist intended.
Naila with Ari in baby sling


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