Friday, December 30, 2016

From Disastrous to Dazzling A Christmas Doll for a Friend

My long-time friend, Debra R., and I exchanged Christmas wish lists this year. Usually we ask in a phone conversation what the other desires, but this year we exchanged lists by email.  Both lists were very short.

Debra wrote: "I love the 18- or 19-inch fashion dolls and outfits or a pattern that fits them. I can't think of anything else right now. I missed out on 2 of them on eBay. They were dressed in brides dresses." 

Confession: Now that I have re-read her list, I was so focused on finding the doll that I completely overlooked her desire for "a pattern that fits them" (so I am making a mental note of this). Her email was dated October 30th, so I immediately began searching eBay for the doll.  The first search resulted in zero listings.  To receive notifications about future listings, I saved the search.

Weeks passed without a single listing for a black 1950s high-heel fashion doll. I kept asking myself, Where are these dolls? Are people holding on to them for some reason? What's the deal?  I felt like a mother unable to find the latest "hot" toy or other newfangled item for Christmas for a child who so desperately hoped to receive it.  Feeling frantic, I wondered if I would be able to purchase one in time. This year was not turning out like last year when I was able to find four dolls of this type for her, but last year's search began much earlier than October 30th.

19-inch circa 1960s high-heel fashion doll, marked V20 on neck

Things were looking quite dismal until I received notification of a new listing on eBay during the first week of December.  After viewing the seller's photos (particularly of the doll's hair) I was not sure this would be the one.  The hair was in horrible condition.  It looked like steel wool, a tangled mess. Not knowing the quality of the hair, if it was dry and brittle and would easily shed, I wrote the seller to inquire.  Her reply was not very reassuring and simply stated, she didn't think it would shed.

The potential doll's hair... what a gnarled mess!

The seller sent these close-up pictures, which made me feel even less hopeful that I could work wonders with the hair if I won the auction.  I thanked her for the photos and confided that my intention was to win the doll as a Christmas gift for a friend who collected this type doll.  She replied back that there was a lot of interest in the doll and suggested I bid high.

As it turned out, I was the only bidder and won the auction for the beginning bid for which I was grateful.  Winning was the easy part.  Dealing with the unknown (her hair) would certainly be a task, I thought.  My plan B was to purchase a wig if the hair was not salvageable.

Doll's appearance upon arrival

After the doll arrived nude with her nicely made flounce dress and matching shawl enclosed in a plastic bag, I made note of her overall condition. With the exception of a few missing eyelashes on one eye and her dreadful-looking hair, she did not require much.

I began working on the hair by first detangling it as much as possible with a plastic bristle brush, gently brushing through small sections at a time while dry.  There was not very much hair loss at all and thankfully, the hair was not brittle.

Wet hair combs through easier and conditioned wet hair combs through even better.  I used two water-based leave-in conditioners to thoroughly drench the hair to complete the detangle process.  I had purchased these conditioners for myself years ago, did not like their effect on my hair, but decided to keep them to use for dolls.  One is a no-name brand.  The other, which was applied more liberally than the first, is Infusium 23. This worked like a charm, the hair was completely detangled, silky, and bone straight.

Her missing right eyelashes can be seen in this close-up.

While still wet, I smoothed out her bangs with the brush and my fingers.  I next rolled the ends of the
hair with foam rod rollers, which were left in overnight.

Make-up brush and bristles from it that were used to repair missing eyelashes

While the rolled hair dried, I replaced the missing eyelashes using a few bristles from a makeup brush that closely match the color of the existing lashes.  After cutting the needed width and extra length of bristles from the brush, I applied Aleene's Tacky Glue to the flattened out ends and allowed the glue to dry.  The bristles were held together with a paper clamp before applying the glue and while the glue dried.

Additional glue was added to the dried glued ends of the bristles which I attempted to push under the eyelid, but most rests on top of the lid, attached with glue. I kept the doll lying flat while the new lashes dried.  After drying, the excess length was cut away as illustrated in the next close-up.

The rollers have been removed and the excess length of replaced eyelashes trimmed with a fingernail clipper.

The hair turned out great!

After the rollers were removed, I finger combed the back of the hair to loosen the curls, which will eventually fall even more with time.

Next, her ears were pierced using blue quilting pins as illustrated below.

The eyelash repair can be better seen in this photo.

The doll was pantiless and shoeless upon arrival.  I added a new pair of undies and borrowed a pair of blue shoes formerly worn by one of my dolls.  There was no time to order shoes, wait for their arrival, and ship the doll with Debra's other gifts in time for Christmas.  I used blue rubber bands to replace the missing shoe straps, as illustrated in the next photo.

With her hair restyled, then dressed in her flounce dress and shawl, new undies, borrowed shoes, and pieced ears, she now looks dazzling!

"I love my doll!  Where did you find her? She looks as good as new.  Did she come with the dress?  Where did you find blue shoes?" These were some of Debra's comments and questions when we spoke on Christmas.  I described the ordeal I went through to find her (not thinking I would, what the seller said about all the interest, and the condition of the doll's hair).  Debra said, "Well you could have fooled me.  Her hair is beautiful!" After sharing the seller's suggestion that I "bid high," I added, "I think she was trying to punk me into spending more."  We both laughed.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sneak Peek of American Girls 1st AA Girl of the Year TODAY!

Get an exclusive first look at American Girl's new (and 1st African American) Girl of the Year TODAY on Good Morning America, which airs from 7 to 9 a.m. -- check your local listings.

Read about Gabriela McBride here and see leaked photos.  


Update:  If you missed Good Morning America's reveal of Gabriela, you can see the short clip here.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Gift of Candi and Shoes Before Christmas

Box front illustrates all seven 11-1/2-inch
 Vintage Candi dolls
The Candi:  Vintage Candi by Hamilton Toy was a surprise gift received from doll-friend, D. Spears.  The doll arrived approximately three weeks before Christmas at just the right time to lift my spirits.  After I opened the box and read D.'s note card explaining the reason she sent the doll to me, I went into an immediate "ugly Oprah-cry."  D. has often expressed her dislike for going to the post office and avoiding it at all costs, but she made an exception to physically mail this doll to me.  Further illustrating the angelic nature of this gift, the doll is from her personal collection!  How special did this make me feel?  Very!

It was not until she shared photos of her Vintage Candi months earlier that I even knew the doll existed.  Of course I was familiar with Helena Hamilton's dolls.  I own the first one, Candi Couture, from 1994, and several others she created under her original company's name or in collaboration with other doll makers, such as the Paul David/Mikelman team and Integrity Toys.  Somehow, this one, Vintage Candi, slipped through my black-doll radar.

African Swirl Vintage Candi

I had mentioned my desire to own this doll in a Facebook (FB) comment to the photos D. shared of her doll.  The doll's presentation, particularly the brightly colored yellow box with illustrations of all dolls in the collection, is so reminiscent of the boxes my childhood Barbies arrived in.  Additionally, the doll, dressed in black bathing suit with red and white stripes at upper bodice and shoulders, side-swept bangs and high ponytail, deep complexion, and beauty mark below her lower lip, is stunning!

So after Vintage Candi arrived, I studied her box, which attributes the box graphics to artist, Miki Gross, whom I found on FB.   The box illustrates and indicates in writing that the collection includes seven styles, which are shown on the box top with additional images of different dolls on the four side panels as shown in the following photos:

The left side panel of the box top illustrates Danish Bubble.  Swedish Swirl is on the right side panel. 

The top panel illustrates Asian Swirl.  A sketch of  Hispanic Swirl is on the bottom panel of the box with the names of all dolls listed.  African Swirl is checked to indicate the contents of my doll's box.

African Swirl Vintage Candi's accessories are black pumps and black sunglasses.

Online research about Vintage Candi ensued.

The most helpful Internet source regarding this line and the dolls which preceded and succeeded it was the article, Blast from the Past:  Candi Girl by Hamilton Design Systeme, published on the blog, Dollville, USA (link to the article at the end of this post).   Through reading that article, I discovered the year Vintage Candi was produced, 2004.  According to the writer, prior to Vintage Candi's creation, Hamilton had partnered with a series of doll makers, some of whom I mentioned above, the last of whom appears to have been Jason Wu.

The collaboration between Hamilton Design Systeme and Integrity Toys ended some time after 2001. By 2004, Hamilton Design Systeme became Hamilton Toy, and released a new line of retro dolls called Vintage Candi. The line consisted of seven dolls, with bubble cuts and swirl ponytails, in either black or white bathing suits. Vintage Candi fashions were sold separately.
As a result of receiving this doll, conducting research about it, and reading Blast from the Past, I discovered Hamilton created and hand painted a 16-inch articulated doll named, Candi 16.  Several different hair colors were available; however, an African American version was not included.  In 2011, she collaborated once again with Jason Wu to create Candi International (not to be confused with International Candi from 2001).  I have not seen African American versions of Candi International or know if one even exists  If an African American version exists, I'd like to own one, but it is doubtful that the line was as diverse as Hamilton's initial offerings.  It seems toward the end of her doll making, her attention shifted from a multicultural doll focus to black-doll exclusion, which is very disheartening.  I am still thrilled to own (possibly one of the last) African American dolls Hamilton created, Vintage Candi.

Pink Mary Jane-style Madame Alexander doll shoes

The Shoes:  Using the doll's original dress, hat, socks, undies, and replaced shoes, in September 2015, I pieced together the Madame Alexander "Thank You" doll (seen here).  Because D. Spears knew my doll's shoes were not original to the outfit, along with Vintage Candi, she sent an original pair of pink Madame Alexander shoes.  Thanks to D., "Thank You" is now complete.

Madame Alexander 8-inch "Thank You" Wendy

Thanks again, D. Spears, for your thoughtfulness and for all you do.

Feeling quite blessed,


Here is the link to the article, Blast from the Past:  Candi Girl by Hamilton Design Systeme

The following links are previous posts about Candi dolls posted on this blog:
Hamilton's Candi
Throwback Thursday:  The Original Candi Girl

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas
and a 
a Happy New Year!

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tamica a Customized Doll by Shasha

Barbie Fashionista Nikki holds a Nikki head customized by Shasha of atelier ni Shasha.

In July 2016, Shasha introduced Tamica as her first doll repaint and reroot.  I-fell-in-dolly love! (See the post that exacerbated my doll-want-itis here). Shortly after seeing Tamica, I recall communicating with Shasha by email to express my desire to own one of her customizations, if not Tamica, should she ever desire to sell. Several months later, Tamica has now become part of my collection along with the little black dress she modeled that Shasha named after her.

I am quite impressed with the repaint; the realism is phenomenal.  The reroot is flawless!  See another photo of Tamica taken by Shasha, here.

As you can see, I purchased the head only.  An articulated body would be the only type desired for this lovely lady.

I chose one of the last Nikki fashionista bodies that I purchased about three years ago upon learning Mattel was discontinuing articulation in that line. Because the doll had been stored, never removed from box, until opening for use with the customized head, I did not realize one of the fingers was ringed -- with a hole in the ring finger to accommodate the plastic ring Mattel use.  I had to employ a workaround for Nikki's unappealing, toy-looking, heart-shaped ring.

Tamica, now whole, holds Nikki's head.
Before removing Nikki's head, I was a little apprehensive, but with ease and slow tugging from side to side, it popped off without damaging the neck prong, which had been my concern.

The fashionista fashion was quickly discarded and replaced with the Tamica dress.

Tamica models the dress named after her, which is worn with black closed-toe shoes.  A box chain bracelet and leaf-shaped brass-tone earrings, made by Shasha, are perfect accessories.

As shown above, Tamica looks stunning in the little black dress.  She posed for several additional photos, all of which are shown below because we could not decide which ones not to include.

One additional close-up of her lovely face shows that she exudes realism.  The closeup also provides a better view of her two-strand twists, which I love!

Temporary holiday redress

Because I wanted to incorporate Tamica into my Christmas decor, I redressed her in a Barbie fashion to match the colors I used this year.

A wrapped present for Tamica to hold was added (it is actually a present-shaped ornament).  I used shimmery bronze fingernail polish to give the ring a more realistic color and also to match the color of her other jewelry.  For bling, an eyelash art, adhesive-backed crystal was added to the center of the ring.

After the holidays, the plan is to rebody Tamica one final time.  A followup post will be published after that has been accomplished.

Thank you again, Shasha, for 1) deciding to sell this lovely customized head and 2) for offering it to me first!  I am honored to be the proud owner of your first-ever repaint and reroot.  Your creativity never disappoints.

Other dolls customized by Shasha can be seen here.


Tamica enjoys being part of the Christmas table display.

Tamica and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful, and Wealthy New Year!

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Kenya Growing Up Proud Returns with Friends

Kenya is back, just in time for Christmas 2016!

The little 13-inch doll that hit the doll market in 1992 as one of the first, if not the first, dolls in her size, produced in three skin tones with hair-styling lotion for loads of hair-styling fun, has returned to the market. Read about the relaunch of Kenya Growing Up Proud and her friends in two Ebony of Essence Dolls in Black blog posts, here and here.

Welcome back, Kenya!

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Hip Hoodie Ken Photo Review

Hip Hoodie Ken

Two Hip Hoodie Kens arrived last week.  At first glance I was and still remain quite impressed with this new head sculpt.  He is very realistic looking, and although the hair is molded, the style is one that young males wear today.  (According to my husband,  all they needed to do was "color the top blonde or red" and his hair would be similar to the way many middle and high school boys are now coloring their hair.  Frankly, I'm glad Mattel remained conservative with regard to the hair color.)

As I wrote in my previous post about my plans for these two, one will remain in the box; the other, which has already been deboxed, as shown left would be rebodied.

This close-up of his handsome face illustrates Hip Hoodie's "curl pattern," which is seen in the next photo of the back of his hair.

While it's somewhat blurry, in this photo, you can see the damage Mattel is doing to these dolls by attaching the head to the box with plastic fasteners!  Ugh!  Why Mattel, why?

I used an articulated body that Bath-Play-Fun (BPF) Ken had been using (sorry BPF Ken, but Hip Hoodie needed the body more).  The new body is similar to the one in brown that Ekia sold which came in light, brown, and dark (TTL-3.0). The brown is not a perfect complexion match but it will have to do for now.

Head and neck of new body complexion comparison

As illustrated in the above photo, Hip Hoodie's head has more red undertones to the coloring while the new articulated body is a faded medium brown.   Hip Hoodie's curl definition is better seen here.

Full view, rebodied

The articulated body has two neck knobs.  The round knob works better for Hip Hoodie's head opening; however, the hack I used to provide a steady fit for Bath-Play-Fun Ken will need adjusting by wrapping additional self-adhering bandage around the peg of the knob.  The existing hack is shown below:

More self-adhering tape wrapped around the peg of the knob will prevent Hip Hoodie's head from wobbling while still providing the desired movement.

With his new body, Hip Hoodie showed off a bit by striking the following few poses, expecting me to photograph him (which, of course, I did).

This new body has given him a boost of confidence.  Watch out ladies in the doll room!

He and I both enjoy his new body.  In the final two photos, I caught him mocking or perhaps pitying the old body.

In trying to put a finger on who Hip Hoodie reminds me of, the actor, Keith Robinson, comes to mind.  I first became aware of him in his role as Effie's (Jennifer Hudson's) brother, C. C. White, in the movie, Dreamgirls.  I saw him again in This Christmas as Devean Brooks, the boyfriend of Lauren London's character, Melanie "Mel" Whitfield.  When Robinson makes a "serious" face, as he does in this photo, I think Hip Hoodie does resemble him somewhat.

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