Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Spiegel-Exclusive Shopping Chic Barbie

This one takes me far back in the day to my doll collecting infancy.  In 1996, the year this doll was advertised in Spiegel catalog, Barbie was of very little interest to me.  Give me a baby doll, a doll from the 1950s and prior, or maybe a 1960s mint in box or never removed from box play line doll instead.

But when I saw the limited edition Spiegel Shopping Chic Barbie in one of their catalogs, I had to order.  I loved her elegance and her fashion (not that I would have ever worn something like it, but on her it looked stunning).

Her coordinating animal print faux fur purse matches her tam and the trim of her black satin coat, which is embellished with a rhinestone-studded gold tone belt buckle.  Gold drop earrings accent her shimmery gold dress.  She wears black sheer hose and, because the seal on the box has never been opened, I have never actually seen her shoes or doll stand.

Her properly scaled black poodle is a perfect companion.  Back then, I could just imagine Barbie dressed to the nines taking her trusty companion on a gold tone leash-controlled walk.

I recall an afternoon at my mother's house shortly after I had purchased this doll.  Mama had seen it advertised in a Spiegel catalog and was probably attempting to pick my brain to see if she could buy it for me, provided I liked it and didn't already own it.

Mama:  Do you have this doll (all excited as she flipped to the page in the catalog)?

Me:  Yes, I have it.

Mama:  Aw shucks.  

The inside of Shopping Chic's box reads:
Style to stroll in!
Barbie looks her
fashionable best
in her new outfit!
With head-to-toe
matching accessories,
she and her
pretty poodle
are turning heads
everywhere they go!

Store-exclusive, Spiegel Shopping Chic Barbie-with-the-Asha face has a box year of 1995.  The doll was also available as a blonde.


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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We are Prettie Girls, Lena is Here!

This is my review of Prettie Girls Lena, the African American doll in a line of articulated fashion dolls designed by Stacey Mcbride-Irby for the One World Doll Project, Inc. 

Since I always photograph my dolls in their never-removed-from-box state prior to deboxing, this task was not spared for Lena.  The packaging is nice, front and back.   "I'm Lena, the business Girl!" is on the front.  Text on the back of the box includes where Lena is from (Charlotte, NC), her favorite things, what she is amazing at, what she loves, and why she is "prettie."  There is a cute picture of Stacey McBride-Irby in the lower left-hand corner of the back of the box.

Other than her hair being sewn to the blister with one plastic attachment from the head to the blister, removing Lena only required a few snips of the bands that held her arms, waist, and feet down.  The base of the OWP-personalized black doll stand had a cord threaded through it to hold it onto the blister. 

Lena, deboxed

Lena's Vital Statistics
Height:  12 inches
Head/Body Proportions:  The head is not over-sized!

Hair:  Straight, black, rooted, comb-able but a little stiff
Eyes:  Painted brown
Facial Features:  Full nose and lips
Appeal:  Gorgeous!
Lena is prettier than I expected.  I love her luscious lips, fuller nose, and beautiful brown eyes.
Clothing:  Separates -- floral-print blouse, tan high-waist suspender pants, red duffle bag, red high heels

Articulated Areas: Underneath the breasts, elbows, and knees; the breast movement is only slight from left to right.

I was pleasantly surprised that Lena's blouse is not attached to her pants.  Both have a Velcro closure in back.

Comparison to Similar-Size Dolls
I compared Lena's height and foot size with Mattel's So in Style Kara, Integrity Toys' Reese, and YNU Group's Opal.

So in Style Kara and Reese pose with Lena for height comparison with shoes on.
So in Style Kara and Reese pose with Lena for height comparison with shoes off.

Opal poses with Lena

The Feet
Lena's foot measures approximately 1 inch long and is longer and wider than the feet of the other dolls mentioned above.  Her arch is not as high as Kara's or Reese's.  It is not as low as Opal's.  She can wear Opal's shoes and Opal can wear hers.

L-R:  Kara and Lena

L-R:  Reese and Lena
L-R:  Lena and Opal

The Body
I did not do a nude comparison between Lena and the other dolls because I did not want to take the time to disrobe everyone.  I did disrobe Lena.  I often wondered why it appeared her butt protruded in her promo images.  Now I know why:  girlfriend has some impressive curves!

The next two images illustrate Lena's very slight chest movement.

Her upper torso is turned as far as possible to her right (to the left looking at the image).

Her upper torso is turned as far possible to her left (to the right looking at the image).

More about Hair and A Quick Change
The next image attempts to illustrate the hair fiber and length of Lena's hair from the back:
Lena's hair has a synthetic look and feel.  It is comb-able, but a little wiry.

Her curvaceous body can fit into Kara's dress. 

Overall Assessment
For the retail price of $21.95 (on sale for $18.95 when I purchased), I am pleased with Lena's overall quality and the attention to detail given the product.  I love her sculpt, the quality of her clothing, the inclusion of a doll stand, and the nice packaging.  The addition of other dolls representing a variety of ethnicities, each with a unique complexion and their own personality is an added plus.   

What I would change/add if I could:
Improved hair quality (softer, less wiry), wrist articulation, more movement at the breast joint and at the hips/knees -- Lena cannot cross her legs at the knees when seated.  The best she can do is cross her ankles.

Lena sits with her legs as close together as possible.
Legs crossed at the ankles

Was Lena worth the wait?

Am I looking forward to the release of the other dolls in March 2014?  Yes!

Kudos to Stacey McBride-Irby for her outstanding design of this doll, the fashion, and box presentation.  I must also applaud The One World Doll Project for taking the initiative to create a line of multicultural dolls for collectors but especially for little girls.   They need to see themselves in a positive light and dolls can certainly aid in helping girls of color appreciate their whole beings, from their heads to their toes and to consider their reflections normal and beautiful.


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Monday, October 28, 2013

This Janay (head) Chose Kara

Still on my Janay kick (gotta have more of her, that is) which began earlier this year, I purchased another Janay head on eBay.   Her facial screening is somewhat reminiscent of another Janay that has been either elusive or too pricey for me (Fashion Icons Janay).  The auburn hair used on this Janay is long and curly whereas Icons Janay has darker, shoulder length, straight hair.  

Recently discounted their remaining stock of Baby Phat So In Style dolls to $8 and change.  I ordered one each of Kara, Marisa, and Grace because of their articulated bodies.  These are not the best in articulated bodies, but for under $9 each and free shipping using BARBIE25 at checkout, I figured, why not?  

Baby Phat Kara holds what will eventually be her new head, the lovely Janay.

Between So In Style Grace and Kara, Kara's complexion is a closer match for Janay; so Janay and I chose to debox Kara and use her articulated body.  Instead of removing Janay's neck prong, I pushed it inside the head, which may or may not have been a good move.

After removing Kara's head, I discovered her loooong neck prong.   Unfortunately, I also discovered that the large circumference of the SIS neck prevents the Janay head from fitting snugly. 

The length of the neck prong created a gap between the head and neck.

I made several failed attempts to create a snug and sturdy fit:

I shortened the prong. This closed in the gap between the head and neck, but the head wobbled around with even the slightest movement of the doll.


 Stuffing the Janay head with polyfil didn't take up the slack.

Polyfil-stuffed head.

Next, I enlarged the hole in Janay's head by shaving away some of the vinyl with a knife.  Even with the slightly larger neck hole, I had to push the head down onto the neck of the body more than desired to remove the wobble completely.  Janay is a little short-necked as a result.

Janay tries on her new body and sunglasses for size.
Until I decide to dress Janay in something different and/or find a more suitable body, she will wear Kara's Baby Phat fashion.  The gold earrings I made for her will probably remain a staple.

Gold dangle earrings camouflage Janay's short neck.

The moral to this story is:  the articulated SIS bodies are not the best choice for Janay heads, but we are making Kara's body work.  

An image of an SIS neck is not included, but Roxanne's Dolls has an informative doll head removal post that might be useful for those who plan to re-body or add a body to a doll head. 

D7ana of the blog, A Philly Collector of Playscale Dolls and Action Figures, recently updated her Janay and Friends board on Pinterest.


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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Prettie Girls Lena and Valencia Are Available Now!

Prettie Girls dolls, Lena and Valencia (stock photo captured from the Prettie Girls website)

According to the following Facebook status update posted today, Lena (African American) and Valencia (Hispanic) from the Prettie Girls doll line, designed by Stacey McBride-Irby, are available for ordering now!

The following text is from Facebook (under an image of Stacey and Trent Daniel in a warehouse setting with shipping cartons upon shipping cartons of dolls in the background.  Each holds one of the packaged dolls in their hands):
The time has finally come! This photo was taken this weekend at the fulfillment warehouse where the Prettie Girls! dolls had just arrived from China! You know what that means!!!!

PRETTIE GIRLS! DOLLS ARE NOW ON SALE and will ship immediately!. Get yours at — with Stacey Mcbride and Trent T. Daniel.

The current price is lower than I expected. The other Prettie Girls dolls (Alexie, Kimani, and Dahlia) are not yet available, but again Lena and Valencia are; and according to the status update, will ship immediately!

Woo hoo!


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Friday, October 25, 2013

Sharing Link to "I Want One Just Like Me!" Black Dolls Expo by Aisha Phoenix

Internet-captured photograph
Earlier this week Aisha Phoenix, a writer for Media Diversity UK, contacted me for a brief interview regarding the importance of black dolls for children of color.  I was happy to answer her questions.  My answers and her well-written article regarding this subject and the upcoming Black Dolls Expo to be held tomorrow (Saturday, October 26, 2013) in North London can be read at the following URL/link.

Thank you, Ms. Phoenix, for soliciting my comments and for finding them useful.


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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Lissi Batz - Part 2

As a followup to my previous post on October 17, 2013, on Lissi Batz Dolls made in Germany, this post focuses on Lissi Batz dolls made in China.  Same company, but to defray costs, as has been the practice of many companies, doll production (some if not all) left Germany for China during the mid 1990s.  As with other companies who outsource production, the quality of the dolls, their clothing, and packaging declined.

These China-made Lissi Batz dolls have unsigned, cloth bodies (all bodies are white with the exception of the Christmas doll).  They were purchased through HSN or QVC shopping channels, locally from Toys R Us, or through the J. C. Penney Catalog.

Lissi Doll (no name)
Height:  19 inches with straight legs
Hair:  Black rooted hair styled in two side ponytails with bangs accented with red and white striped ribbons
Facial Characteristics:  Brown sleep eyes, closed mouth
Clothing:  Red and white striped dress with white eyelet collar, red and white striped pantaloons, white socks, black vinyl Mary Jane shoes (HSN purchase)

Lissi Doll (no name)
Height:  21 inches with bent baby legs
Hair:  Black rooted hair styled in two side ponytails with bangs, accented with red and green satin ribbons
Facial Characteristics:  Brown sleep eyes, open mouth with two molded teeth
Clothing:  Multicolor, geometric-patterned dress, white socks, black vinyl Mary Jane shoes.  
Sold during the mid to late 1990s through HSN - photo captured from the Internet as I either sold my doll or she is here somewhere missing in action. 

Two Hearts Collection boy and girl twins
Height:  15 inches with bent baby legs
Hair:  Molded
Facial Characteristics:  brown sleep eyes, closed mouths; similar facial mold as the no-name doll in the red and white striped dress.
Clothing:  Girl wears pink heart-print dress; boy wears blue heart-print romper; ribbons tied at ankles
Made in China for Lissi during the 1990s; sold on HSN (no longer part of my collection; photo scanned from Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide Book II by Myla Perkins.)


Christmas Doll
This doll does not bear the LB within a triangle mark that all other Lissi dolls bear.  It was sold through the J. C. Penney catalog as a Lissi doll, I believe.  Dolls using the same head sculpt were sold as Lissi dolls through QVC.   This doll is marked with three stacked M’s and the number 126 above the M’s. 
Height:  19 inches
Hair:  Black rooted hair styled in two side ponytails with bangs
Facial Characteristics:  Brown sleep eyes, closed slightly pouting mouth
Clothing:  White dress has smocked bodice and machine-embroidered Christmas tree, presents, and holly; trimmed in red embroidery at the hem with red ribbon bows on sleeves; has white, heart-shaped crocheted purse with white plush bear tucked inside.  She also wears white pantaloons, white socks, black vinyl Mary Jane shoes.   
This doll has a brown, unsigned cloth body.


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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Baby Michelle Obama Doll

Baby doll lovers or perhaps those who collect items commemorating the first African American woman to hold the position of First Lady of the United States might enjoy knowing about Linda Murray's "Always Stay True" Michelle Obama Tribute Baby Doll.

"Always Stay True" Michelle Obama Tribute Baby Doll

The above scanned images of the flyer illustrate a close-up and full-length view of this 20-inch vinyl baby, a followup to Murray's President Barack Obama Commemorative Baby Doll from the same series.

US residents can purchase "Always Stay True" Michelle Obama Tribute Baby Doll from Ashton Drake for $149.99 + shipping or five installments of $30 each + shipping.


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Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Love This Collector's Enthusiasm

Mostly vintage and a couple of modern dolls from my personal collection

Here is a link to another collector's profile that I found immensely enjoyable.  Like me, Vicky Forbes loves vintage to modern black dolls.  She has been blessed to incorporate her love for dolls into a business.  Go Vicky!


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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Lissi Batz Dolls - Part 1

During the 1990s as an unfocused doll collector, baby dolls and toddlers were included in my multitude of doll purchases.  If their medium was vinyl, that was a plus; and of course, if their complexions were deep and their aesthetics pleasing, they interested me enough to purchase. 

German-made Lissi Batz dolls usually fell into this category.  Several Lissi Batz dolls were sold through the Home Shopping Network (HSN) during the 1990s with Tina Berry most frequently hosting the shows.  As an avid HSN doll show viewer, Tina did not have to convince me to dial their 800 number to order Lissi dolls.  All I needed was the item number. 

After discovering that none of my books or other published works thoroughly document Lissi Batz dolls, I decided to create a two-part blog post series about them.  This post, the first of the two, will focus on the Lissi Batz dolls that use molds made in West Germany and Germany (after West and East became one country in 1990).

About the Lissi Batz dolls in my collection:
With the exception of the all-vinyl “unknown toddler,” all West Germany and German-made dolls have vinyl heads, ¾ vinyl arms and legs; brown cloth bodies that are signed “Lissi Batz” by Anneliese “Lissi” Schirdewahn-Batz.  Each doll has a hang tag which bears its name and a group image of Lissi dolls.  The West Germany and German-made dolls also have a certificate of authenticity (COA), the back of which illustrates four generations of doll makers from an 1851 fixed-limb doll through a 1958 plastic doll.  A full-length picture of each doll is also included with the historical development of dolls on the back.  On the nape of the neck of Lissi dolls are her initials "LB" enclosed within a triangle. 

The West Germany-made dolls’ Certificate of Authenticity (front) and back of COA (click to enlarge any photo)

Close-up of Unknown Toddler, described above.

Unknown Toddler
Height:  26 inches with bent baby legs
Hair:  Short, black rooted
Facial Characteristics:  Brown sleep eyes with closed, smiling mouth
Head and body:  Head and arms are soft vinyl, body and extremities are rigid plastic.
Clothing:  Redressed in infant’s size 3-6 months mint green and light blue check romper and white high-top baby shoes
Other:  This doll was purchased from another collector during the mid-1990s and probably dates back to the 1980s.  She bears the LB initials within a triangle on the nape of her neck below which are the numbers 70/20

Scan from BD Book II

Rhea (whose location cannot be determined, which is the reason I used a scan from Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide, Book II by Myla Perkins):
Height:   19-3/4 inches with straight legs
Hair:  Black rooted hair styled in two side ponytails with bangs; ribbons that match dress accent hair.
Facial Characteristics:  Brown sleep eyes, closed mouth. 
Clothing:   Pink polka dot dress with lavender polka dot overdress, white pantaloons, white socks, black vinyl Mary-Jane style shoes. 
Marked:  Made in West Germany (prior to the reunification of Germany), released in April 1992 sold through the HSN 



Height:  21 inches with bent baby legs
Hair:  Black rooted hair styled in two side ponytails with bangs; has pink and lavender ponytail holders
Facial Characteristics:  Brown sleep eyes; open mouth with two upper molded/painted teeth.  
Clothing:  Lavender dress with blue floral-print mock overdress, white pantaloons, white socks, black vinyl shoes
Extra:  Has white wooden doll
Sheerah came with a doll stand and was made in Germany in the Lissi Doll Factory in April 1992.  Purchased through HSN’s outlet after having sold out through the HSN shopping channel, I went through great lengths with multiple phone calls to have the outlet locate and sell this doll to me. 



Height:  21-1/2 inches with straight legs
Hair:  Light auburn hair styled in one top ponytail with the rest hanging loose
Facial Characteristics:  brown sleep eyes, closed mouth
Clothing:  Peach floral-print dress trimmed in white ruffled fabric, white pantaloons, white socks, black Mary Jane shoes
Extra:  Has white wooden doll and doll stand
Made in Germany in June 1992 in a limited edition of 1000 pieces; this is doll #48; sold through HSN.


Height:  22 inches with bent baby legs
Hair:  Black rooted hair styled in two side ponytails and one top ponytail with bangs; white satin ribbons accent ponytails.
Facial Characteristics:  Brown sleep eyes; pouty mouth
Clothing:  White lace dress, gold hoop earrings, white socks with ribbons tied at ankles (no shoes)
Extra:  Came with a blue ribbon that bears a headshot of Lissi Batz and a doll stand.
Made in November 1994 as a limited edition of 500 pieces in Germany; sold through HSN, the last HSN Lissi doll made in Germany that I purchased. 

Part 2 will be published, Thursday, October 24, 2013.

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