Monday, September 30, 2013

Thrift Store Chic

I found another Chic doll during my last trip to the thrift store.  She has a darker complexion than the one I found previously.

Chic doll rescued from thrift store for $2.99

When found she wore a Barbie-tagged striped top and leatherette riding pants.  Her hair was a mess.

I restyled her as shown above:  combed her hair and dressed her in a Target-exclusive Artsy fashion.  The fuchsia in the dress matches her molded-on stud earrings.  The shoes and matching purse are from a Barbie Fashionistas accessory pack.

Full view and close-up of ©2008 Chic Dolls

This newer-to-me one has a closed mouth while the other Chic doll, found a few weeks ago, has an open mouth with painted teeth.  That one has jointed knees and a twist and turn waist.  This latest one has a swivel waist only. Both are very lovely.

After meeting, they engaged in the following brief conversation:

Chic 1:  So glad she stopped by the thrift store and didn't leave you there.

Chic 2:  So am I.  I was a little worried, though.  When I heard her ask a nearby shopper what the 50% off color of the week was, knowing my blue tag was not the color, I thought she was going to leave me there!  I had the sense then that she didn't want to pay $2.99 for me.  She examined me for what seemed like forever through the plastic baggie before finally taking me to the register.  Girl, I  was so relieved.


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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Doll Room Conversations with Uverse and Cable Guys

(This is a lengthy post.  The conversations with the Uverse and Cable Guys are in blue text for those who want to skip ahead, but you might want to read a paragraph or two that precedes the dialogue text.)

My doll room office used to be our patio before my husband converted it into a room  for me in approximately 1990.  As a result of the enclosure, the cable and phone hookups are attached to the exterior wall of the room. 

Until recent weeks, I had been a relatively satisfied, 30-year customer of Time Warner Cable.  After TWC's blackout of CBS-owned stations and steadily rising rates, I switched to AT&T Uverse, which recently became available in my area.  My Uverse bundle includes home phone, Internet, and TV.

The Uverse guy needed to make his connection from the exterior wall of the doll room in order to place the router inside the room.  He also required the use of a phone jack attached to the interior back wall.   Not realizing until he arrived that access to the phone jack would be needed, I hurriedly moved 50-some-odd  large dolls, both free standing and boxed, that were in front of the phone jack.  My back, though no longer hurting, is hurting with the thought of this rushed and rigid activity.

This line had to be run to the opposite side of the room where an antiquated TV sits on my childhood desk.  I keep the desk for sentimental reasons.  Dolls that range in size from 9 to 16 inches usually stand on both sides of the TV.  Playscale dolls are also displayed on top of two rolling storage carts positioned to the right of my childhood desk.  To ensure that the Uverse guy would have enough working space, the day before his arrival, I had already moved these dolls.  Most were placed in a box, while others stood haphazardly on the floor or in separate piles on top of other dolls. 

The following pictures are the dolls I moved for the Uverse guy the day prior to his arrival. 

What a doll mess I was left to clean up for the sake of a Uverse bundle.
The following conversation ensued between me and the Uverse guy:

Me (before Uverse Guy entered the room):  Don't freak out because of the dolls.

Uverse Guy:  Man.  You sure have a lot and they're all black, too!

Me:  Yeah.  I have a few.

Uverse Guy proceeded to do his work and didn't seem too affected or bothered by the dolls' presence.  His final statement about them was:  I bet your husband doesn't have to wonder what to buy you for gifts.

Me:  Um... he can't buy dolls for me.  No one in my family can, unless I tell them the doll I want.  Only a doll collector can buy for another collector.

He completed my bundle package of connecting three TVs, digital phone service, and migrating my AT&T DSL Internet to Uverse Internet in about 3 hours.  He ensured that everything worked properly before he left.   Oh but before he left, my daughter arrived to pick up her boys who my husband had picked up from school earlier that day.  She always rings the doorbell repeatedly until someone opens the door.  Uverse Guy was completing the bedroom hookup when he heard the multiple rings.  He rushed to the doll room where I was and asked,  "Do I need to drop and roll?"  I laughed and said, "That's just my crazy daughter coming to pick up her boys" (who were both conked out on the den sofas).


I waited two days to ensure that Uverse continued working properly before calling Time Warner Cable to inform them I no longer desired their cable TV service.  During the call, I inquired about the cost of keeping cable Internet only (just as a backup in the event that Uverse Internet goes down, because I use the Internet to work).  I was told my monthly Internet fee would be twice what I was already paying and that none of my service would be disconnected until I returned their equipment.  So along with the cable converters, I returned TWC's Internet router the following day where I was offered Internet for the same amount I was paying; so I agreed to keep it.  The woman at the TWC office also informed me that a technician would come to my home the following day to disconnect the cable TV service.  Does he have to come in? I asked.  She replied, "No.  His work will be on the outside only."

The outside cable guy came the next evening to complete the cable TV disconnection.  The following morning I noticed my VOIP work phone that was connected to TWC's router was not working.  Long story short, the outside cable guy disconnected cable TV and my cable Internet!  TWC sent another technician out later that day to reconnect the Internet.  This is when another conversation about my dolls ensued.

Me to Inside Cable Guy:  Excuse the condition of the room, I had to move some of my dolls around.

Inside Cable Guy, inspecting the TWC router and noticing my Uverse equipment:  You have Uverse Internet, too?

Me:  Yes, it was just installed with Uverse TV, which is the reason I disconnected cable service, but I want to keep your Internet as a backup because I use the Internet for my work.

Inside Cable Guy:  Oh, I see.  You sure do have a lot of dolls.

Me:  Silent.

Inside Cable Guy:  I guess the ones in the boxes are the most valuable.

Mostly boxed dolls on shelves on back wall of doll room; the shelves are from ceiling to floor; these are uppermost shelves.

Mostly boxed dolls line both walls of doll room entrance
Me:  (leery of this statement/question, 'cause why does he want to know about my dolls' value, I wondered?):  Oh no... not at all.  Most of those were purchased when I began collecting years ago.  Back then, I rarely removed dolls from their boxes, especially if the doll was visible through it.  Now, I do.  I collect dolls, not boxes.  I'll toss a box in a minute now.
(Call it paranoia, but this young man's question regarding my dolls' value is why I do not like to have repairmen and other outsiders in my home.)

He completed the router testing, went outside to reconnect the Internet, and came back inside to check the connection, which worked fine.

Earlier that day I had called TWC to get an update on my current charges because my new statement had arrived two days prior to requesting the disconnection and did not reflect the actual amount owed.  During this call, I discovered I was being charged a disconnection fee -- a fee for the first guy to come out and disconnect cable and inadvertently disconnect the Internet! 

Before the second cable guy left I asked:
Me to Inside/Outside Cable Guy before he left:  So since I've been without Internet all day (not really because I had Uverse) and use it for work, can that $39.95 disconnection fee that I was not informed I would be charged be waived?
Inside/Outside Cable Guy:  I'm sure it can, but you'll have to call the office and ask.

I called with that request and the disconnection fee was waived.

Below are photos of my sentimental childhood desk after the dolls were removed along with photos taken as they were positioned back on it.

Childhood desk, minus the dolls that usually flank the sides of it.  The framed item is Vol 1, Issue 1 of Ebony Jr!.  Published in May 1973, Ebony Jr! is referred to as “the largest ever children-focused publication for African Americans.”
Diana Ross and Crissy family dolls returned to their positions of standing,

I had to stop and admire Tiffany Taylor's beauty and play with her hair that changes from auburn to black when her skull cap is swiveled.
Here is Tiffany with black hair - this side has bangs.  Isn't she gorgeous?

Before placing her back on display, I turned her skull cap to the auburn, side-parted color.
Tiffany stands out among the crowd.  Three shorter grow-hairs (Velvet) are now back in place in the above image.
The smallest dolls, including the smallest grow-hair family doll, Cinnamon, are now squeezed into position.  Other 8 to 10-inchers are placed on top of the TV.  I need to discard that VCR.  Who uses those anymore?

The last two pictures were taken at different angles and using different camera modes in an attempt to improve the image lighting, but that failed.  The images do illustrate that all dolls are back in place on both sides of the TV as well as on top of the two rolling file carts.  As a final touch, I hung the July 1973 issue of Ebony Jr! that I won on eBay several months ago (that I do not remember why I wanted.)    


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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Texas A&M Ken, Finally!

Texas A&M Ken Yell Team Ken

After the sellout at several months ago, I missed this guy at when first offered there, too.  Their stock was recently replenished and I immediately ordered Texas A&M Ken.  His initial photo is shown above.  In the next photo, someone attempts to expedite his freedom.

Model 17 (Floyd) tries to assist Texas A&M Ken to freedom.

I will eventually debox him and discard the box.  Before that happens, I took a photo of the back of the box which illustrates the Texas A&M War Hymn.

Obviously cut from the same mold, these guys have very subtle differences.  Floyd's hair is lighter.  Ken's lips appear a little fuller.  The outline of his eyes is darker than Floyd's and Ken's complexion has more red undertones.

The biggest difference between these two obvious closely related dolls is Ken's several points of articulation on his pivotal Harley Ken body.   I look forward to seeing how well he moves.  Floyd will probably be filled with envy because his MaleMuse body severely restricts his movement. 

The doll world needs more articulated males with deep complexions in a variety of head sculpts.  Mattel, are you listening?

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I Knew I Knew Vanessa!

After meeting her through her blog for what I thought was the first time in 2010, I became fascinated by the clever manner Vanessa Morrison weaves fashion dolls into stories using realistic dioramas, most of which include furniture and accessories she makes.  After several months as an avid reader of her blog, I was so enthralled that I wanted to share her with the collecting community through a published article.  We accomplished that goal in the Autumn 2012 Americana issue of Fashion Doll Quarterly (FDQ).

  Cedric is a porcelain doll made by Vanessa Morrison.  After seeing this photo again in 2011, I knew I had seen Cedric years before.

The hint that I had met her previously came from photos Vanessa shared in 2011 for the FDQ article of porcelain dolls she made in the past.  I had seen some of the dolls before, but I couldn't quite recall where. 

I was able to put 2 and 2 together this morning after archiving a 2005 issue of The Black Doll-E-Zine onto its Facebook archive page.  As co-editor and eventually sole editor of the first e-zine devoted to collecting Black dolls, I solicited profiles from doll collectors as well as doll artists for each BDE issue.  In Vol. 4, Issue 1 of 2005, Vanessa (now of Fashion Dolls at Van's Doll Treasures) shared her artist profile.

While we connected only briefly in 2005 for that issue of BDE, and it took five years for us to reconnect in 2010, I believe our connection will be long-lasting.

Vanessa... girl... I knew I knew you! 

Visit and Like:  The Black Doll-E-Zine Archives on Facebook


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Monday, September 23, 2013

She Wants to Know Her ID and So Do I

In my Janay Kick post, I mentioned my desire for a darker skinned Janay with natural textured hair.  Well I found one, but she came to me deboxed; therefore, I have no clue about her true ID.

Mystery dark-skinned Janay by Integrity Toys ©2004

Janay's outfit appears original:  Orange tank top, white one-layered skirt with attached crinoline that has glittery stars applied, and black and white striped tote.  I'm not sure if the orange shoes are original.  Her black curly hair is held away from her face with a black rubber band.  I fluffed the ends to create the look of a curly 'fro.

Her hang tag reads, Janay (on front)
©2004 Integrity Toys, Inc./Made in China (on back)

Janay shows off her new stud earrings.

I added adhesive backed amethyst studs prior to redressing her and replacing these ear studs with tiny adhesive backed crystals.

The stick-on crystal studs were part of a lash art package purchased from a beauty supply shop.  I wanted to give her the appearance of a pierced nose with one, but they are too large.

Janay has been redressed in a winter white halter dress, stick-on crystal studs, gold clutch, and gold high-heel shoes.

Janay asks:  Do you know who I am?

I ask the same question.  

Thanks in advance!


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Saturday, September 21, 2013

1960s Black Skipper Released

No Mattel, didn't make a dark-skinned Skipper in the 1960s.  Homecoming Skipper, their first dark skinned version, was not released until 1989.   By then, Skipper's head sculpt had changed.

I wanted a dark skinned Skipper with the original Skipper head sculpt, like the one from my childhood.  So I set out to dye one in the late 1990s/early 2000s.  Skipper's head, arms, and legs absorbed the dye.  Her original blonde hair turned an uneven auburn color after dyeing.  Her rigid plastic body would not absorb the dye and had to be painted.  The end result was so disastrous looking that I kept her locked in a file closet in the doll room until recently.

After reconnecting with poor pitiful looking Skipper a few months ago, I attempted to use a paint pen to paint her one color.  This was another failure.  Skipper and I both realized the inevitable.  I would have to paint her to achieve an even color.  Painting is something I do not enjoy doing, but it had to be done. 

Except for the paint on her face, this is how Skipper looked when I reconnected with her some 13 years after she had been in a file cabinet, out of sight, out of mind.
Skipper's face was painted with a paint pen in the above picture after a failed attempt to dye her one color several years prior.  The paint pen gave her face a wood grain appearance, which did not work for either of us.  I used the paint pen for her body, arms, and legs (not shown) but the paint would not dry completely on her arms.  The next step was to paint her one color with acrylic paint (I didn't remove any of the previous paint).

Acrylic paint sealed with satin finish varnish

The close-up and full-view images illustrate Skipper's even complexion after painting with acrylic paint and sealing with varnish.  This was done after first pulling her hair up into a ponytail and taping her bangs away from her forehead with masking tape.

I am not crazy about her hair color.  The plan was to use brown mascara to darken it, but local stores only had black.  The color remains brassy.

The eyes, eyelashes, and eyebrows are always challenging for me to paint, but I think Skipper has maintained her original little-girl sweetness.

This pink and blue dress looks almost as though it was made for Skipper.

I didn't have shoes to fit her narrow feet, so I made a pair using pink and blue foam and white ribbon for the single-strap vamp.

In this final picture, my childhood doll's photo is combined with my recently released (from lock down) now even-colored 1960s Skipper.

Related post on African American/Black Skippers


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Friday, September 20, 2013

Dolls 'n Peeples

I am not a moviegoer.  If nothing on TV interests me, when in the mood to sit for some two hours, I will stream a movie or on a very rare occasion rent a DVD.    

Peeples was released in theaters in May of this year and is already on DVD (Internet-captured photo shows David Alan Grier, Kerry Washington, and Craig Robinson.)

This past weekend I wanted to watch something totally non-thought provoking that would stimulate my funny bone.  Not slapstick or buffoonery, but something silly because I wanted to laugh out loud.  I paid a whole dollar and twenty cents at Redbox to rent Peeples starring Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkerson, Tyler James Williams of Everybody Hates Chris fame, and an unknown-to-me actor, Craig Robinson.  I enjoyed the cameo roles of Diahann Carroll and Melvin Van Peebles as the parents of Grier's character.

Karito Kids:  Gia, Zoe, Lulu, Pita, and Wan Ling (Internet-captured photo)

I won't go into the storyline, but the highlight of the movie for me was the doll hospital where familiar dolls were patients.  I immediately recognized the Karito Kids scattered about the doll hospital on the two occasions the brother of Craig Robinson worked on his inanimate patients.  In one scene, he attempts to repair the head of a blonde doll dressed in Gia's green jacket; and in another, Lulu is seen in the background.

Of course I wanted to see more of the dolls, but the movie served its intended purpose to give me the comedic fix I needed.  I did, in fact, laugh out loud a couple of times and giggled quite a few more.


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Denise's Elective Procedure

Denise's original hairline and lips

Based on online images of the actual doll, I wasn't too sure I would add Denise, friend of Fashion Madness Kenya, to my collection until seeing her in person.  Even then, I still wasn't overly enthused about her hairline, the thinness of her lips, but particularly the too pale lip color that clashed with her appearance of white teeth.

I restyled her hair twice in an attempt to conceal her awkward-looking hairline.  Someone mentioned, and I agree, that her hairline makes her look "like those chicks that pull their lace fronts down way too far..." 

In the first restyle, I removed the rubber band from the top of her head that held hair strands from both sides of her head to create a top ponytail (not illustrated).

Next, I took these loose side strands and connected them with a rubber band at the nape of her neck.  This holds the strands closer to her face and creates a better appearing hairline as illustrated above.

To correct Denise's thin lips and pale color, I decided to enlarge them and fill in the teeth with acrylic paint.  The procedure is outlined below in the fashion of an operative procedure.  In order to maintain the flow of reading, photos of some of the steps are included below the description.

Thin, pale lips with appearance of teeth

Correction of thin, pale lips with removal of appearance of teeth

Cosmetic lip enhancement

DBG, dollologist

None – she is permanently anesthetized.


Back to doll room in satisfactory, improved condition.



Denise is an 11-1/2-inch fashion doll from the Fashion Madness Kenya line.  Her original thin lips with pale lip coloring and appearance of teeth were not very attractive to her or her new owner.   She desired a lip enhancement to hopefully accentuate her beauty.  Prior to the procedure, “before” photographs were taken.  Additional photographs were taken post-procedure.  Indications, risks, and benefits of the procedure were reviewed.  An informed consent was signed, which outlined possible complications of malformation due to over-enhancement and other unimaginable events.  No guarantees were implied or made.   

Denise was taken to the procedure room and placed in the supine position.  Several applications of acrylic paint in the desired color mix (fuchsia) were applied above and onto her existing lips.   Additional layers of paint were applied to the midsection of her mouth to cover her teeth and to bump up that area. 

Midway through the procedure, after several layers of acrylic paint had been applied; the dollologist exchanged the use of acrylic paint for white dimensional paint.  The puffy texture of the dimensional paint,  expedited the lip enhancement, achieving the desired fuller-lip effect.  A timeout was allowed before additional fuchsia acrylic paint was used to cover the dried dimensional paint.  After another timeout, a one-layer application of Mod Podge sealed the paint for a matte finish.

Denise tolerated the procedure without difficulty.  She was transferred to the doll room in satisfactory condition where she put on new shoes and had additional photographs taken.   After seeing her new lips, Denise expressed her sincere gratitude and opinion that the appearance of her lips is now a cross between the lips of Kim Kardashian and Naomi Campbell.

Several layers of acrylic paint applied
Dimensional paint used to expedite the enhancement
Fuchsia paint covers the white dimensional paint
Profile view
For shadowing, a dash of contrasting paint was added to the center of Denise's mouth followed by a few strokes of a lighter color to the lower lip for highlights.  Lastly, Mod Podge was added as a sealant.

As a refresher, Denise's "before" photo is combined with her post-procedure photograph (click to enlarge any -- except the first -- photograph.

Denise took one final photograph to show off her new shoes, which are a perfect match for her dress.
New shoes borrowed from Barbie
Surgeon's Assessment:  The lips are not perfect (not as smooth as I'd like).  I may have been a little heavy-handed with the enhancement, too impatient to allow the acrylic paint to dry between layers, and I probably should have removed the flat paint after discovering the dimensional paint worked better.  But as indicated above, Denise and I are more pleased with these than we were with her manufactured lips.

The dimensional paint was already on hand because I had planned to use it to create a molded hairstyle.  That has not happened yet, but probably will happen as soon as a doll patient is in need.


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