Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bookmarks and Package Art

Paper doll artist, Diana E. Vining, of held a drawing on Facebook for her newly designed Lovely Locks bookmarks.  I entered by placing a comment to the status update containing the contest information.  At the end of the contest period, the gracious Diana allowed all participants to win.  We had a choice of one of the four new designs.  I chose McKenna, "who" was waiting patiently for me at the post office this past weekend, along with three additional ones that I purchased to be used as gifts. 

"Hi Debbie!" package art by Diana E. Vining
The four McKenna's were carefully tucked inside a padded envelop which contained Diana's signature package art on the outside, as illustrated above.  I like the personal touch she adds to her mailings so much that I have saved others from past packages, which are shown below, followed by the McKenna bookmark that I won.

Saved package art from past orders

McKenna measures approximately 6-1/2 inches (not including the top of her yarn ponytail).  The ponytail is black yarn with purple highlights that match the purple dress.  A multicolored bow accents the side ponytail.  McKenna holds her very own doll -- simply adorable!

The bookmarks are $4 and are cute gifts or gift extras for readers young and old. 

Browse Diana's website for bookmarks, paper dolls, note and greeting cards, and other products that include her art.


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Monday, June 24, 2013

Texas A&M Ken Actual Images and Comparison

Actual images of the currently sold out at Texas A&M University Ken doll were shared with me by fellow doll enthusiast, Cynthia Wilson.  Cynthia graciously allowed me to share her images here along with a comparison image of Aggie Ken with Barbie Basics Model 17.   (Click the images to enlarge.)

This image includes the back of the box which contains the lyrics of the Aggie War Hymn.  Before the dolls sold out, smart shopper, Cynthia, purchased two.

After Cynthia freed one, he immediately showed off his articulated arms.

Now his wrist action and additional elbow movement are illustrated along with a closer look at his handsome face.

He looks as good from the back as from the front.

A little knee and ankle flexion and extension took place next.

The final image is a comparison of Texas A&M Ken with Barbie Basics Model 17.  

Texas A&M Ken poses with Barbie Basics Model 17.

Cynthia and I agree that Aggie Ken appears to have a wider face with darker hair.  Cynthia also thinks the articulated doll's top lip is fuller.  (He's from Texas and we all know that things are bigger in Texas.) 

Thank you again Cynthia for sharing your images and congratulations on being among those who received quantities of the first run of this doll.  
The link to six additional images of Texas A&M Ken were shared by blog reader, Meg Sense.  These can be viewed here (nude doll caution).  Thanks Meg Sense for the share!

Hopefully, for those of us who “slept” on placing our online orders, stock will be replenished soon or Texas A&M Ken will show up in our local markets.  It is also my hope that Mattel acts upon the loud and clear message that articulated African American male dolls (in more than one head sculpt) are desired and will indeed sell.

For those interested, here is Texas A&M Ken's Ordering Page (to bookmark and check for replenishment of stock).  Note that the "add to bag" option is available, but once it is clicked "unavailable" appears.)


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Friday, June 21, 2013

OWN to Air Dark Girls

Dark Girls, the documentary co-directed by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, is scheduled to air on the Oprah Winfrey Network Sunday, June 23, 2013, at 10p.m.EST/9 p.m. CST.

If you have access to OWN, you may be interested in watching or recording this "fascinating and controversial film that goes underneath the surface to explore the prejudices dark-skinned women face throughout the world. It explores the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within a segment of cultures." (This description is from the OWN website.)  It is rated PG (L).

View the trailer:

Based on the testimonies of the women in the Dark Girls trailer, many, if not all needed and probably still need some special friends, love, and validation to overcome feelings of inferiority.  Their hurt originates from constant negative remarks by others regarding something beyond their control, genetic melanin richness.

To keep this post doll-related, I used the above image of Special Friends dolls by Rainbow Classics, circa 1990 because of their complexion.  The dolls' tender age group of around 3 to 5 years is another reason they were chosen.  Within this age range children have usually become aware of their physical appearance based on the reflection they see in the mirror and statements made by others -- negative or positive.  Comments about a child's physical attributes can have a long-lasting psychological effect -- negative and positive. 

The dolls are shown in full view and described below. 

The Special Friends dolls are vinyl with rooted hair.  The taller dolls stand 5-1/2 inches and have brown inset eyes.  The smallest is 4-inches tall with painted black eyes.  All three have freckles and a beautiful melanin-rich complexion.


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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Classification of the Largest Human Organ

Current references state that in 1975, dermatologist, Thomas Fitzpatrick, MD, PhD, developed a scale to classify a person's complexion and tolerance to sunlight.  Reaction to the sun, genetic background, and natural skin color determine what is known as Fitzpatrick skin type, based on a series of questions an individual is asked which are then scored.  This scale is used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes in the treatment of diseases of the skin.  The initial, 1975 classification is outlined below followed by dolls to illustrate (as close as possible) the complexion of each type.

Dolls illustrate Fitzpatrick skin types I, II, and III:  fairest, fair, dark white, respectively.
Fitzpatrick's study was conducted in Brisbane, Australia in 1972 using paid Australian volunteers.  Dark-skinned people were excluded from the initial test and scale.  According to Fitzpatrick's article,  "The Validity of Practicality and Sun-reactive Skin Types I-VI," published in June 1988 in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Dermatology, "The concept of sun-reactive 'skin typing' was created in 1975 for a specific need: to be able to classify persons with white skin in order to select the correct initial doses of ultraviolet A (UVA) (in joules per cubic centimeter) in the application of the then newly developed technique for the treatment of psoriasis—oral methoxsalen photochemotherapy (PUVA)."

Psoriasis, named for the Greek word psōra meaning "itch," is a chronic, non-contagious disease characterized by inflamed lesions covered with silvery-white scabs of dead skin.  It is most common in fair-skinned people; rare in those with dark skin.  (This may be the reason for the initial exclusion of dark-skinned people from Fitzpatrick's skin typing—even though current references to the scale indicate it was devised to classify a person's complexion and tolerance to sunlight.)

Nevertheless, by the late 1980s, three additional skin types, to include darker and dark skinned people, were added to the Fitzpatrick scale.  Again, these types are illustrated using dolls and described below.

Dolls illustrate Fitzpatrick skin types III, IV, and VI:  olive, dark, darkest, respectively.

Those interested in taking the quiz used to determine skin type can do so here.  The bottom of the page at the previous link contains an image of a person with class I skin type.  Click the links numbered 2-6 to advance to the subsequent five skin type illustrations.  Another illustration of the now six types that comprise Fitzpatrick's classification of the largest organ of the human body, the skin,  can be seen here.

1988 JAMA Dermatology Article by Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick Skin Typing:  Applications in Dermatology
Remembering Thomas B. Fitzpatrick


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Monday, June 17, 2013

My New Guy

Handsome World Peacekeepers action figure

I finally found this older World Peacekeepers guy at a price I was willing to pay ($12.99 + $4.51 shipping). 

I initially saw him in one of Vanessa's stories where he is William Langford,Camille's husband. I wasn't too interested in him at first.  His face is too narrow, I thought; but the more I saw him in Morristown, the more he grew on me and the desire to add him to my playscale male family -- minus any stories -- increased.

It took several months for me to find him on eBay.  I have either been outbid or I forgot to bid on past auctions.  On others, I passed, because the sellers were asking up to $50.  My desire for him wasn't that great.

Thanks to the heads up from Facebook friend Dee Mahogany Dee (who won one on eBay several months ago), I finally have him.

He arrived nude.  Because of that and the couple of nicks on both shins, I would have preferred to pay less.   He had been listed for $24 or best offer.  There was no way I would have ever paid $23.99 for him in his current condition.  So I offered $9.99, just to test the waters.  The seller countered with $14.99.  I countered that with $12.99 and included a comment to seller that I was concerned about the leg nicks; and based on the auction image of him leaning against a wall, I was not sure if he could stand without assistance.  Instead of addressing my concerns, the seller accepted my $12.99 offer.  Thus his presence. 

I dressed him in the first readily available fashion I saw:  Ken Fashionista yellow sleeveless hoodie with Malibu Beach graphics, gray shorts, and black sandals.  It's so not him but it is seasonably appropriate.

I am satisfied to have found him and also relieved that he is able to stand on his own.

Thanks again Dee!


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Friday, June 14, 2013

Speaking of Madame Alexander Dolls... Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Who is speaking of Madame Alexander dolls?  I did in my previous post and I am now.  I have a few unanswered questions about their product lines.

Circa 1930s Madame Alexander composition baby with crier is featured on page 49 in Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion.

Founded by Beatrice Alexander, the Madame Alexander Doll Company or Alexander Dolls is one of America's oldest doll manufacturers still in business.   The company began making dolls in 1923 and is noted as one of few early American doll companies to produce Black dolls.  As early as the 1930s, the company made Black composition dolls.  In the 1930s, however, it is doubtful that the average doll owner possessed Alexander dolls of any color. 

Dolls by Madame Alexander have always been synonymous with high-quality and were once referred to in the media as the "Cadillacs of dolldom."   Because of the quality and great attention to detail, even at higher prices than the average doll, the demand for Alexander dolls has remained constant throughout the years with most dolls maintaining their value if not appreciating.

Celebrity doll collectors have been connoisseurs of this upscale doll line.  In November 2011, after years of collecting, Candy Spelling auctioned off a collection of vintage Madame Alexander dolls.  Click the previous link at your leisure to view the catalog of Spelling's auctioned dolls and to see the realized prices.

From my personal collection:  Friends From Foreign Lands and International 8-inch dolls by Alexander
Jamaica (1987), Africa (1991), Africa (1988), and Mali (1996) represent a sample of Wendys dressed in African and  Caribbean-inspired attire.
Table Decor photo 100_1626.jpg
From the photo archives are five holiday themed Wendys; more have been added to the collection since this photograph was taken a few years ago.  The doll on the far left has the original Wendy head sculpt.  All others share the new Wendy face.  (The background doll is a 10-inch Kwanzaa Cissette by Madame Alexander.)
I began collecting Madame Alexander dolls during the 1990s because of the variety of themes 8-inch Wendy has portrayed.  The international dolls and the holiday dolls rank high among my favorites.  I also enjoy my Easter Wendys.   The 1-2-3- Sesame Street Trunk Set that I purchased as a gift for my niece a few years back is wonderful.  Wendy's trunk is a replica of the Sesame Street brownstone (too cute!).  Throughout the years Wendy has been both male and female.  One of my favorite males is Boys Choir of Harlem and the quite elusive Buffalo Soldier.  One day I will own him/her as well as Wendy as Sally Heming (Heming is the company's spelling).

Alexander makes dolls in other sizes and categories (10- to 21-inch fashion dolls, baby and play dolls, and others), but 8-inch Wendy remains my favorite because of her diminutive size and the toddler-child she portrays.  Wendy can be and do anything.  She has been Mammy and Prissy from Gone with the Wind.  She has dressed like mommy and run away to Grandma's on more than one occasion.  Royalty has been bestowed upon Wendy in her role as Princess Tiana.  You name it, and Wendy can do or be it!

While Alexander has created inclusive lines to represent African Americans and other people of color, new offerings of dolls with deeper complexions can wax and wane.  In some productions, dolls of color (DOC) were scarce or not present at all.    Perhaps internal factors played a role in the ultimate decision not to produce as many Black dolls in a particular year than were produced in others, but the demand for these dolls has continued, even in their absence. 

Based in Harlem for half a century, Alexander Dolls closed its headquarters there in December 2012.  This was six months after the new owners, Kahn Lucas Lancaster, Inc. acquired the company (June 2012).

New to doll manufacture, KLL, Inc. has been a designer and wholesaler of girls clothing for several years.  Maybe Wendy will remain the best dressed 8-inch doll on the market.  Only time will tell.

A year prior to new ownership, a record-breaking product line of over a dozen African American Alexander dolls appeared in 2011 with additional new dark complected faces included in the 2012 catalog.  News of the company's sale and the later closing of the New York headquarters caused many collectors to wonder, "What will happen to Madame Alexander dolls now?"

This question may have been repeated by many who noticed a drastic plummeting of DOC offerings, from 12+ to 2, in the 2013 catalogue:  one Hispanic and one African American Wendy.  Only two dolls of color?  That's hardly enough to appease the serious Madame Alexander DOC collector. 

I have several questions.  

Will a company with expertise in girls' clothing maintain the doll quality that Madame Alexander doll collectors have cherished in the past?  Will inclusive lines continue with a sufficient amount of dolls produced for everyone, or is the decline from over a dozen to two dolls of color a sign that we will never see another Alexander line as colorful as 2011?  What will happen to my favorite toddler, AA Wendy?   I wonder. 


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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Birthday Dolls From Friend to Me

Madame Alexander Wendy dolls, Balloons for Your Birthday and Dairy Queen Blizzard -- these Wendys use the exclusive African American head sculpt. 

UPS delivered these two little girls last month on the date of my birthday.  They arrived in a box load of other beautifully wrapped (non-doll) birthday gifts from my friend, Debra R.

Balloons for Your Birthday Wendy - stock photo
Balloons for Your Birthday (Wendy) is a-dor-a-ble!  Wendy has long bone-straight black hair with bangs and brown open/close eyes.  She wears a white cotton dress with pastel colored polka dots and a dark pink ribbon at waist.   The dress has a pale pink cotton slip attached.  The pale pink hair bow, white ankle socks, and pink Mary Jane-style patent-leather shoes complete her outfit.  Included are three happy birthday felt balloons that Wendy can hold in her too cute hand (with the aid of a clear rubber band).

This happy birthday-themed Wendy marks the 4th Madame Alexander Wendy in my collection.  Two of the others were gifts from Debra R. in past years.  I also have Happy Birthday Boy from 1992. 

Happy Birthday dolls by Madame Alexander, Birthday Boy and Girl (1992), Happy Birthday Wendy (1999) and Happy Birthday Wendy 2005 -- these dolls have the original Wendy face, which was used for both AA and Caucasian dolls.  Wendy's appearance changed in 2004 with an exclusive head sculpt created for the AA doll.

DQB Wendy - Stock photo
I did not think I would have the opportunity to see in person, let alone own, Dairy Queen Blizzard Wendy (DQBW).  I had preordered her through one of my doll clubs around this time last year.  Unfortunately, ownership of the Madame Alexander Doll Company changed shortly after the order was placed.  After waiting for several months, we were informed that Alexander Dolls could not fulfill the orders for African American DQBW because the doll was sold out.  I mentioned this dilemma to Debra R., who later found this one for me on eBay.

Dairy Queen Blizzard Wendy has dark brown hair styled in three curly ponytails accented by red and white polka dot ribbons.  Her blue twill dress is embellished with upright and upside down images of the Dairy Queen Blizzard cup with straw.   A red and white polka dot ribbon is tied at the waist.  The DQ emblem is embroidered on one collar.  A two-layer petticoat (one red and one white crinoline) creates a perfect flare for the skirt of the dress.  DQB Wendy also wears blue and white striped tights and red Mary Jane shoes of patent-leather.  To say she is so cute would be an understatement.

Thank you Debra R. for my wonderful gifts that I can tell are always handpicked for me with love!


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Friday, June 7, 2013

Matoka Gets the Yellow Dress + Body Comparison

Yellow dress sewn by Betty A.

I redressed Matoka in the yellow with red circle-print dress that doll-friend, Betty A. sent me.  Initially I thought I would prefer the yellow dress on Deb (my birthday doll).  As it turns out, the brown and gold African print dress is the one I liked best on Deb (for now).

Deb joins Matoka to show off the African print dress made by Betty A.

It may be that Matoka's sandals, that Deb wears, were the deciding factor... not sure.  I think they both look adorable in their new clothes.

While I had the girls together, I wanted to do a body comparison for those Himmie lovers who may have been on the fence about Woelfert-Puppen dolls or for those who are unfamiliar with these dolls. 

Stripped down to their birthday suits, the girls illustrate their similarities and differences.

Height-wise, the dolls are the same, 33-1/2 inches

Deb's head is larger than Matoka's... not disproportionately larger because her body has more girth than Matoka's.  Both dolls have human hair wigs and mouth-blown glass eyes.  Additional comparisons are outlined below along with additional pictures:

Deb has:                                                      Matoka has:
Jointed arms at shoulders only                       Jointed biceps, shoulders
Jointed waist                                                  Non-jointed waist
Jointed knees                                                 Non-jointed knees
Full (soft and supple*) vinyl body                   ¾ rigid vinyl body; cloth waist-to-thighs

Longer/wider foot, 5 inches x 2-2/8 inches     4-1/2 inch x 2-2/8-inch foot
Great toe and 2nd toe separate only              All toes are separate
7-inch arm circumference                              6-inch arm circumference
12-inch arm length                                         12-1/2-inch arm length
Longer torso; 16-1/2 inch actual waist           17-inch waist
18-inch waist at the waist joint
15-inch leg length                                          15-inch leg length

Deb is standing without support while Matoka is leaning against the door.

Can stand without support                             Requires a doll stand for standing

More distinctly sculpted navel and breasts
Made completely in Germany

I would rate the quality of the Woelfert-Puppen dolls as high as that of Himstedt dolls.  The only difference is the type vinyl used and jointed areas.  *The vinyl used for Woelfert-Puppen dolls is comparable to that used on the 1990s dolls by John Nissen; it is a pliable yet very sturdy vinyl.

The service provided by Woelfert-Puppen was excellent and transit time from date of purchase to arrival took approximately 17 days which included the Memorial Day holiday.  I am thoroughly pleased and honored they named the doll I purchased after me. 


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