Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hearts 4 Hearts Doll Review: "Tipi" by Playmates Toys

I'm a little behind the times in my doll blogging. Yui was created recently, after my order in November, but her original sculpt was created in 2010. Coincidentally, the doll in this review as well as in the review to follow were created in 2010, and both are discontinued these days. Anyways, I've just begun my little doll family, so I've been reaching into the past (via eBay) to find some MIB/NRFB dolls that are no longer quite on the market. A word to the wise- if you're going to go searching on eBay, compare all costs. This is a wonderful doll, but not worth $100. I got lucky with Tipi. Shipping aside, I paid her original price, because the lady from whom I purchased her had initially bought the doll as a present for her adopted daughter who then decided she was too old for dolls (which is a leeetle ironic, as at 17 years old I am probably older than her daughter).

H4H girls were created on the premise of telling stories of girls around the world, of all sorts of ethnicities in order to raise donations for kids in need. As the company website states, "Every Hearts For Hearts Girls® doll is inspired by real girls from real places around the world. Each doll has her own story to tell, with ideas about how to make life better for her family, community, country, and the world around her. When you buy a doll, a dollar of the purchase price is donated to programs that support children in that doll's region." A dollar from the sale of each doll (approximately 5% of he price) is donated to help kids in need. After reading Nethilia's guest post on Emily's blog, I knew I would eventually own at least one of these girls. Dispite Shola's few flaws (her outfit is much nicer in her promotional images than on the actual doll, and the dress is not quite the appropriate length for a Muslima), such a unique doll will be an awesome addition to my doll family. Further investigation into the H4H line uncovered an earlier set of girls, one of whom I liked above the others. Her name is Tipi, and she is from Laos, in SE Asia, just a stone's toss from my Singypore, so I brought her home first.

The eBay seller created her own box out of a hot-glued-together old Home Depot box, which I figured the recycler in Emily would appreciate.

The box in which Tipi arrived is similar to those of the other dolls in the series. The front cover (with a promotional image of the doll) opens to a view of the doll, secured behind a plastic window, so one can pick a good doll before actually paying for it. Unlike many of the other dolls, Tipi is almost identical in doll form to her promotional images.

Yui didn't approve of the lack of her face in the group shot, so she jumped in.

Tipi came with a short book talking about her life in Laos, and how she enjoys storytelling and writing, especially for her classmates. 

She also came with a very small bracelet which a child can wear to show their support for H4H girls, and girls in LEDCs, a hair comb (never to be used, as I have been informed plastic brushes and combs wreak havoc on doll hair), and adorable little flippy-flops. Tipi wears a bracelet inspired by the string bracelets typical in Lao on her left hand, and on her right she has three extra hairbands. Her unboxing wasn't as easy as Yui's, but it wasn't terrible. Opening it was a little weird. I haven't opened a toy's box in 6 years or so, and when I smelled the vinyl, it smelled like childhood. ><

Though her head is unproportionally large (something with which I personally have no issue, though some people do not like), her body is very slim and she is taller than I was expecting, standing at an approximate 14".

Her hair was banded in three places and sewed to her shirt in one. It doesn't measure up to Yui's wig, but considering that the cost of Yui's wig is almost equal to that of the entire Tipi doll with extras, it's understandable. Tipi's hair is quite soft, rooted a bit thinly towards the back,

She's cord-strung with five points of articulation, and though she doesn't pose in too many different positions, she photographs adorably.


Tipi tells her Korean Elven friend what Laos is like.

There's a little spot on her forehead near the hairline that I've not tried to clean off yet. Her face is lovely and serene. Her eyebrows are drawn in a cute way, her lips are a nice neutral color, and her her eyes are a lovely brown. I've seen brown-eyed H4H girls whose eyes, when exposed to sunlight for an extensive period of time, turn purple. I don't know why, however I have heard that Playmates has replaced dolls defective in this maner. If my Tipi's eyes turn purple, I'll probably not do anything about it.

For the price, I think Tipi is a fairly rugged little doll. The clothes are better made than some other playdoll clothes, and I think the doll would stand the test of time and child's play pretty well.

Yui was a fan of the flip flop concept, until she actually tried them on.

Whats dis I'm sittin on hmm?

In conclusion:
Quality: Good quality for a playdoll.
Price: $25 original retail. The second wave of these dolls are still on Amazon close to their original price, and totally worth it.
Collectability: Nope. Playdoll. But eBay sellers seem to think she is. -.-
Cuddleability: Heck yeah. She's all vinyl, not squishy or soft, but a kid could hug her and tote her about and probably bring her wherever they go without totally destroying her.

She's a cute addition to the family. Expect to see Shola some time in the future.
I'm going to go ahead and apologize for the awkwardness of blog posts to come. I'm trying to figure out how to format these posts, I've not exactly got a working computer at the moment, and yesterday I think I messed up my camera *woop.* ;_;

ABJD Review: Fairyland Littlefee Dark Soo Elf (Image Heavy)

This review is going to be incredibly biased, as I am still far too excited at the arrival of this girl. Keeping that in mind, leggo!

Quick explanation of BJDs. ABJD is an initialism which stands for Asian Ball Jointed Doll. BJDs can hail from all over the world- France, Russia, the US... However, perhaps the most popular BJDs are of Asian origin. This is mainly because when the hobby began to grow, Volks (now the largest and most recognized BJD company), a Japanese company, was at the forefront of expansion. My doll is of Korean origin. Chinese BJDs qualify for the "A"BJD label as well, although some dolls of Chinese origin are 'recasts' as opposed to original dolls- meaning that a cast has been created by taking another company's doll, making a mold of it, and then pouring resin into the mold to make an arguably illegal copy of the doll. These recasts are typically sold for much cheaper than company dolls, and can be of lower quality (and back in the beginning were sometimes toxic), but are also available in resin colors not produced by the original company, which adds appeal for some. Resin, a hard plastic (more durable than porcelain, but much easier to damage than vinyl), is the preferred material for use in creating BJDs, and some collectors argue that non-resin BJDs (such as porcelain dolls) ought not qualify for the title. Non-resin dolls are considered 'off topic' for discussion on the major BJD forums and facebook pages. If anything, the creation process of resin sounds pretty cool. Wikipedia states resin is, "...manufactured through polymerization-pollyaddition or polycondensation reactions, used as a thermosetpolymer..." Polla-la-la-Polly. Polly Pocket reference, anyone? Anyone? Heh, I had a pink Polly Pocket stretch limousine toy as a kid that sang the Polly theme song. I just discovered I don't know how to spell limousine. Lime moose zine. What was I talking about? Ah. Anyways, basically if a doll has ball-and-socket joints, it's arguably a BJD, and the greatest appeal of BJDs? They pose like no other.

Meet Yui! My little peanut showed up in the mail yesterday, and when my mother told me I didn't believe her, because the online tracking information still said she was in US customs. When I got home from school, there was a large package from Fairyland Korea sitting on the kitchen counter and it took a massive amount of patience to find Mom's camera, set everything up to photograph, and open the box slowly and carefully as opposed to just tearing into it to find my baby.

When I found out about the ball jointed doll hobby, I surfed most of the major doll sites before stumbling upon this sweetheart. (Her fullset has been long since sold out, so that isn't the price I paid for her.) I've actually had a printed-out stock photo of her taped to the wall in my room for quite a while. I taught violin from 7th grade through 11th grade, so even though my parents don't give me money for more than the necessities (shampoo, school lunches), I have some small change saved up to spend on myself. When I recieved my $400 computer deposit refund back in November, I figured it was now or never, and though I had never held a BJD before in my life, I purchased my baby Yui with all the works- extra hands, sleeping faceplate, faceups on both faceplates, a wig... then I excitedly surfed Etsy until I found clothing to suit her personality. Small shout out to Vampbee3- at this point I consider Ashy and I friends, because she is willing to take any idea I throw her way and turn it into a gorgeous outfit for Yui. Speaking of which, I purchased a dress and socks and a kimono for her, but failed to order shoes or underwear whooooops! I'll have to fix that soon.

My thoughts on Fairyland are as follows: All of the bad rumors made me wary about ordering from FL, but after speaking with their representative, I felt good enough to go ahead and lay down the cash. I have not been disappointed. Their communication with me was excellent. They kept me updated when I asked for information, helped me when I thought I filled the shipping form out incorrectly (EMS is a bit of a bear the first time), and above all, Yui seems to be of good quality. I am no expert with BJDs, but I can confidently state that my doll has no snowflaking (though this doll is in 'normal' skin, not tan), the faceups arrived in perfect condition with no chipping, no cracks, none of the pieces were broken in transit, and they were well package. There are two seam lines that could be sanded down a bit, but I'll probably leave her be. She feels nice and solid and she is gorgeous. I love her.

TL;DR: I'm excited and happy, now look at my doll!!

I have no qualms with the method of wrapping for Yui. For something so expensive, it makes sense that she be wrapped well. Besides, she was an international traveller before she was born! Jan. 23, 2014 is her DOB.

Hello there! The booklet on the left is instructions on stringing, care, use, etc. interior shown below:

Mommy, I'm bald!

Much better.

This wig was purchased from the Fairyland site, but doesn't come with her, per se. I'm holding it in such a way that you can see the rather dense layers- no, she doesn't really have a mullet. 

The wig is REALLY long on her, but my boyfriend says it is cute. Many people in the hobby trim their wigs, but I am not sure I want to touch this one.

I also bought extra hands for her, because it is difficult to tell on the company website what the hands look like. I really love the delicate default hands, so I think I'll resell or offer to trade these on DoA. Resale value there isn't bad, and since this didn't add anything to my shipping cost, I won't lose any money. I like the hand that can hold things, but the right hand looks like a baby sucking it's thumb, not like moe hands or 뿌잉뿌잉 like I thought they would be.

Why am I holding my head?

I purchased her sleeping faceplate as well as the awake one, and ordered faceups for both. I cannot believe the incredible detail in such a tiny thing. Yui is 25cm. That's about 10 inches. Shorter than Barbie, yet the details in the artwork put other dolls to shame. It was a photo of sleeping Soo Dark Elf that convinced me this was the doll I wanted, so I didn't think buying the doll without the extra faceplate was an option.

Here you can see the company's engraving inside the sleeping faceplate. It reads Soo.D.E, and the space where the eye holes usually are is filled with resin. You can also see the blushing on the back of her ears.

I think the eyes in her awake faceplate are gorgeous. I got really lucky with the randomly selected default eyes, so I won't be buying her any other pairs. I can't explain the color. Sometimes it looks grey, sometimes it looks yellow. The pattern inside is so lifelike it is almost a bit scary, but they photograph incredibly, and they reflect light just like real eyes. Her bottom lashes are painted on, but the top lashes are applied to the faceplate on the outside. You can neither see the glue with which it was attached, nor the place of attachment, yet I know it is applied on the outside. The black eyeliner serves its purpose. q: Yui is six years old, but I guess elves start wearing makeup young.

Sort of a half-profile shot with her head cocked to one side a bit. She is strung perfectly for holding poses in all of her limbs and her torso, but the head lolls ever so slightly to the side if I don't straighten it. I think it's rather charming, actually. I swear she has a different expression from every angle. From here she appears to be smiling, dead-on she seems to be lost in thought, looking up she appears hopeful, from the profile more pensive... Maybe it is all in my head.

Profile pic. (Punny.)

Posing. (Better than my splits.)

Posing. (Still better.)

Scary-posing. She is rather poseable, I think. The head and most of the limbs can do a 360, though I wouldn't, so as to not twist the strings inside. If I counted correctly, she has 23 points of articulation, I think. That is a looooot.

Butt. She totally has an adorable baby's butt. 

You can see the locking mechanism in her legs that allows her to stand on her own so well.

Her hands are removable because they are interchangeable, but this also makes dressing her a lot less of a hassle.

Mommy, I put my sockies on all by myself!

We had fun snap chatting D and K last night. ><

This afternoon I sewed her a (skull) beanie to keep her bald head warm. It's so cold right now that we actually got a snow day off school, and there isn't even any snow outside!

Yui wanted to explore outside... Until I explained why I was home from school on a school day.

Oh no. Oh nononono. OH noNOnOnONo. *BRB HIDES PIGGY BANK*

In conclusion:
Quality: Better than I expected, and I expected a lot.
Price: Not. Cheap. By mixing and matching items on the website, your $250 doll can rapidly and exponentially increase in price.
Collectability: I think so. BJD people call themselves collectors, and I don't know who would shell out that much money for a toddler.
Cuddleability: Ah, the most important aspect of any doll. She always looks like she wants a hug, and she likes chillin with me in bed when I'm lazy-surfing the internet. 

I'm biased because this is my grail doll, but she gets 10/10 dollie points.