Author Archives: ghouliette

YouDolls and the YouDolls Box

Last year Ghoulia13 and I each purchased a couple of dolls from YouDolls. YouDolls are customizable 1:6 scale fashion dolls. They began as a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015, and were subsequently produced by MacMillan Toys. When I purchased my YouDolls I was so behind in blogging that I put them aside with the intention of reviewing them. Needless to say, they are still in their boxes.

As I mentioned above, YouDolls are customizable – to a point. Unlike completely customizable dolls such as Makies, which allowed buyers to customize facial features, YouDolls all come with the same face. It’s a pretty, girl-next-door kind of face with a pleasant facial expression that doesn’t go overboard on makeup. For $39.99, customers on the YouDolls website could choose a doll with a variety of skin tones, eye colors, and hair styles. However, they couldn’t combine a particular hair color or style with a particular skin tone and eye color. Instead, customers had to choose from fifty different pre-produced combinations of skin tone, hair color, hair length, and eye color. It certainly had more options than, say, Create-a-Bratz, but it still limited the possible combinations of hair color and hair styles. For example, I wanted a redhead with blue eyes and long straight hair with bangs. YouDolls only has four redheads out of the fifty choices. All of them have long wavy hair and no bangs. Three of them have fair skin, one each with brown, blue, and green eyes; and the fourth has green eyes with the medium skin tone. The blonde and brunette hair colors come with long straight hair with either bangs or no bangs, but the short and medium hair styles are all straight with no bangs. If you want an edgier YouDoll you can get one with pink hair, but only in the fair skin tone, with blue eyes and with straight long hair and no bangs. To get an idea of the choices available, here is a screenshot from the YouDolls website of some of the options.

Despite the customization restrictions, however, YouDolls does a commendable job of representing diversity. Once the doll selection was made, customers chose an outfit and an accessories pack for their doll. The clothing looked like clothes real people would wear rather than the ridiculous fashions some dolls come with. There were options for dressy, casual, and sporty styles. The doll came in a presentation box featuring a backdrop that customers also chose from a number of options. The final touch? You got to name your doll.

Despite not yet having opened my two YouDolls, I decided I wanted the doll with pink hair. So I went to the website and chose my doll, outfit, accessories pack, and backdrop. I even named her Pinkie. But when I hit the Checkout button, I got a message saying the website’s checkout feature was disabled. I searched Google to see if YouDolls were discontinued, but I didn’t find any information about that. I did, however, discover the YouDolls Box, a monthly subscription box for YouDolls. I don’t know what happened exactly with YouDolls, but if I had to guess I’d say they went out of business and are selling off their remaining dolls through the subscription box service.

Offered by the subscription-box company Cratejoy, subscribers can choose to receive dolls from one of the three skin tones or a combination of all three. Other than that, they have no choice as to which doll they receive. The doll is dressed and comes with some clothing and accessories, all in a generic box. The website says customers will receive “a brand new looking doll.” I don’t think this means they’re used dolls, I think it means that they’re probably surplus so they’re not packaged like new, never-removed-from-box dolls. The subscription box costs $25 rather than the $39.99 price for the YouDolls in the fancy box.

When my first doll arrived, I could see that the promo photo did not lie – it came in a plain shipping box with a YouDolls sticker slapped on it. It’s a far cry from the pretty presentation box that my first YouDolls came in.

First Class vs…..

Economy

Aubrey, my first YouDoll in presentation box with the Rodeo Drive background, and the outfit and accessories I chose.

Little Miss No-Name *womp womp*

The promo photo for the YouDoll Box shows some of the accessories that come with the doll. It shows eight pieces, but it shows the shoes separately. I received seven accessories, plus the shoes (which are fabulous!), which were on the doll when it came.

I received:

A suitcase

A laptop computer

A flat-screen t.v.

A fashion magazine

A wristlet purse that matches the dress the doll came in

A slice of cake

A hair dryer

I already have the suitcase and the laptop from my first YouDoll, and I received a flatscreen t.v. as a freebie with it. I expect I’ll get more duplicate accessories with future YouDolls boxes as they use up their remaining accessories.

Now on to the doll itself. Once I took the doll out of the box, I was surprised at how lightweight it is. The torso is one solid piece, and the arms and legs are articulated. The articulation is clumsy, with limited range of motion. The shoulder joints have the ball shape that allows the arms to move out as well as up.

However, the elbow joints don’t allow the arms to move inwards too well. This doll can’t pass my articulation test, in which I put the doll’s hands over its mouth in mock surprise or horror. This is the best she could do:

The body reminds me of the cheap generic Chinese fashion dolls one buys from Ali Express. I was a tad disappointed. At least she can use her hair dryer.

Here she is enjoying some of the other accessories she came with.

YouDolls were a great idea that, sadly, couldn’t make an impact in the highly competitive fashion doll market. With their wholesome appearance and a wardrobe refreshingly lacking in bright pink and glitter, they were a positive alternative to many established fashion doll lines. I’m sure many little girls had a great experience picking out their dolls and outfits from the original YouDolls website. The YouDolls Box would make a great gift for little girls who would enjoy receiving a surprise doll every month. However, the body is cheap, and adult collectors might be disappointed. I’m not sure that even the reduced price of $25 is justified. I wonder if YouDolls are making more dolls just for the YouDolls Box, or if eventually the YouDolls Box will disappear once their supply of existing dolls is depleted.

I subscribed to the YouDolls box because I saw it as a great way to build my YouDolls collection. However, seeing the quality of the body, I think I’ll just get one or two more, mostly in the hope of getting a few more clothing items. As the Cratejoy website says, I can cancel at any time. But I have my fingers crossed that I’ll get the YouDoll with the pink hair in one of my boxes. I can always put their heads on Made-to-Move Barbie bodies.

Do you have a YouDoll? What do you think of it?

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Bratz are Coming Back – Again (Again) (Again)

Three days ago, the official Bratz Facebook page, which has been inactive since August of last year, updated their profile photo with the image above. This cryptic image was not accompanied by any additional information, which made me wonder: are Bratz dolls coming back?

If so, this would be the fourth incarnation of Bratz dolls since their launch in 2001. After Mattel sued MGA Entertainment, the manufacturer of Bratz, for copyright infringement in 2009, Bratz dolls disappeared for a year. The relaunched line from 2010 was almost universally panned. The dolls were taller, to compete with Barbie, and featured lesser-quality hair that most collectors hated. By 2014, they were nowhere to be found.

In May of 2015, Bratz dolls once again returned to toy store shelves. Again, they were redesigned. They were taller, with bigger heads and feet and a more innocent countenance. But they failed to appeal to the line’s die-hard fan base. A year after their relaunch, they too had been discontinued. This time, the Bratz line was gone for good.

But is it? On May 21st, the 17th anniversary of Bratz dolls, the official Bratz Instagram account started posting again, after previously deleting its entire history of posts. As with Facebook, they were being very mysterious. They posted a total of three images, each with a single word on it: “passion/for/fashion.” Then there are the two most recent photos, posted four days ago.

The caption for this photo reads “Ethereal, divine, and a little bit dramatic. This is Angel.” This means Cloe is returning.

This photo’s caption reads “Always ready to pounce on the hottest new looks. This is Kool Kat.” This means Jade is coming back.

It seems that Bratzies everywhere do have a reason to rejoice. Also on May 21st, British fashion designer and illustrator Hayden Williams tweeted a confirmation of what the Bratz Instagram account first hinted at:

“Happy 17th Birthday to the girls with a Passion for Fashion!

After much speculation, I can officially confirm some HUGE news with you guys. I have partnered with @MGAEnt Entertainment to design an exclusive collection of @Bratz Collector dolls to be released in Fall 2018!”

No word, or images, yet as to what these dolls will look like.

Fall of 2018. That’s like three months, people!

Are you as excited as we are? Or do you think Bratz are the dolls that Just. Won’t. Die?

Update: added today:

“Her taste in clothing is as hot as her taste in music. Meet Bunny Boo.” Okay, Sasha’s coming back too.

Could we be seeing more hints in the future?

Royal Flower Girl Lottie

The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Miss Meghan Markle is tomorrow. In honor of the occasion, Arklu has created a special edition of their popular Lottie doll. We here at Dollsville USA love Lottie. Our very first post was dedicated to Lottie, way back in 2013. We think Lottie is adorable. She has a certain charm and innocence that many dolls today just don’t have. Arklu got its start as a toy manufacturer in 2010 with a doll of Kate Middleton that was released after her engagement to Prince William. Arklu also made a set of Prince William and Kate Middleton dolls in their wedding attire after their Royal Wedding in 2011. So it’s fitting that Arklu commemorate Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle with a special edition Lottie as a Royal Flower Girl.

Royal Flower Girl Lottie is a Gold Collection edition. Everything about this doll screams royalty. From the crown logos placed on the front and sides of the box to the oversized crown-shaped tag that proclaims “ROYAL EDITION,” the design elements underscore the Royal-ness of this Lottie.

I love the boxes for Lottie dolls. They are colorful and feature charming artwork. They also have handles on the top so children can carry them around. There’s also a space for children to write their names on the box, so they can take pride in ownership of their Lottie dolls.

There is also an illustration of Lottie, and a little blurb describing the doll’s theme from the viewpoint of Lottie herself.

According to the blurb on the box, Royal Flower Girl Lottie is the niece of the prince who is getting married, so is Lottie supposed to be Prince William’s daughter? It’s been announced that his actual daughter, Princess Charlotte, will be a bridesmaid in her uncle’s wedding, and Royal Flower Girl Lottie has brown hair like Princess Charlotte, so I guess a willing suspension of disbelief is in order for Lottie.

Royal Flower Girl Lottie wears a simple ivory dress with a white ribbon sash, short sleeves, and a ruffled hem. A floral headband, ivory Mary Janes, white tights, and a bouquet of posies complete the ensemble.

Lottie’s dress is an exact copy of the dresses worn by Kate Middleton’s bridesmaids for her wedding, but reverses the white dress and ivory sash of the original. Since we don’t yet know what Meghan Markle’s bridesmaids will be wearing, it’s a nice nod to Royal weddings to recreate the dress from the previous Royal Wedding.

Kate Middleton's bridesmaids and pages, 2011

Lottie’s accessories are tiny but incredibly detailed and well-made. The flowers on the headband and in the bouquet are not simply artificial flowers, they are tiny ribbon-roses. In addition to the headband and bouquet, Royal Flower Girl Lottie also comes with a tiny wedding card. It is a reproduction of artwork created by a Lottie fan.

In case there were any doubts, this card confirms that the wedding in which Lottie will take part is indeed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. Here’s a closeup:

The card features a poem inside:

It reads:

“Wedding bells are going to chime.

I hope you have a brilliant time!

Sending wishes for a lovely day.

Let’s all shout HIP HIP HOORAY!

Love from your flower girl Lottie”

Royal Flower Girl Lottie retails for $24.99. I purchased mine online from the Miracle Mile Toy Hall in Los Angeles, California. Miracle Mile Toy Hall is the exclusive retailer of Royal Flower Girl Lottie in the U.S.  I honestly didn’t expect to receive the doll in time for the Royal Wedding, but Miracle Mile Toy Hall processed my order immediately and sent it by Priority Mail. Turnaround time from placing the order to shipping it cross-country was two days!

Royal Flower Girl Lottie is not the first time Lottie has mingled with royalty. Last Christmas, Arklu gifted Lottie dolls to Princess Charlotte and her brother Prince George. One can imagine Princess Charlotte playing with her Lottie dolls.

We do love a Royal Wedding, so Ghoulia13 and I will be getting up super-early tomorrow morning to watch the wedding on t.v. Congratulations and Best Wishes to the Royal couple.

Will you be watching the Royal Wedding tomorrow?

Vladonna by Kidrobot

 

Vladonna made her debut yesterday. Who is Vladonna, you ask? She is a DIY alternative fashion doll, the brainchild of RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Pearl (a.k.a. Matthew Lent) and Gina Garan, the woman who single-handedly revived the popularity of Blythe doll. Vladonna is a project that has been two years in the making and is produced by Kidrobot, the creators of customizable collectible figures such as Munny. Vladonna is made of the same white vinyl as Munny, so you can paint her entire body as well as her face. You can choose from blonde, black, or lavender hair colors (no redhead, though). She is fully articulated. Her figure is certainly unconventional compared to other fashion dolls, particularly in the bust and backside. Her exaggerated proportions are evocative of the false busts and padded derrières of drag queens.  According to Pearl:

“Our inspiration for Vladonna was to create a fun and fantastical world where you can escape from the reality. Vladonna’s world is only limited to your imagination, where the stresses of life simply don’t exist. Vladonna is for everyone, because she is everyone no matter your sexuality, gender, race, size or talent. There is an unattainable standard to exist in this world; shine but don’t overshadow, be open but protect yourself, tell the truth but stay politically correct. But Vladonna doesn’t even know who the president is! She is the coffee break from life’s pressures full of fun, fashion and glamour. She allows you the chance to show the world what beauty truly means to you with the DIY customizable version. Vladonna is whoever you want her to be!”

-Matthew Lent aka Pearl

Vladonna retails for the surprisingly reasonable price of $39.99 and can be purchased here. In addition to the customizeable Vladonna, Pearl has plans for future editions that will come dressed and made up.

Vladonna’s Instagram account debuted yesterday as well. Check it out at Vladonnaworld to see how others have customized Vladonna, including doll artist Andrew Yang, and makeup artist Mimi Choi.

I purchased the Vladonna with the lavender hair. I’m not great at customizing dolls, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I feel like, with Vladonna, I can be truly outrageous (my apologies to Jem). I’ll update my Vladonna’s progress in a future blog post.

What do you think of Vladonna?

 

Barbie Hello Kitty Fashion Packs

Do you love Barbie and Hello Kitty but refuse to pay $100 for the shockingly-overpriced-for-a-non-articulated-Barbie-doll Hello Kitty Barbie? Now you don’t have to. Mattel and Walmart have released an exclusive line of licensed Sanrio-character fashion packs for everyone’s favorite plastic princess. The Barbie Hello Kitty Fashion Packs include dresses, separates, and accessories featuring Hello Kitty and other beloved Sanrio characters such as Chococat, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars. They hit the stores last month and already Walmart.com is completely sold out. I had to turn to evilBay to get a couple of pieces, but Ghoulia13 and I are going to check out our local Walmart this weekend. In the meantime, here are some of the items from the collection.

IMG_2178

Tops retail for $2.44 and the dress/separates packs sell for $4.94. Prices on eBay currently average about 2-3 times the retail prices.

Did you find any of the Hello Kitty Fashion Packs?

Update:  Okay, so Ghoulia13 and I made a Walmart run after work. Our Walmart had plenty of Hello Kitty Fashion Packs. I managed to get all of the tops and all but two of the ensembles. Here is my Hello Kitty haul:

IMG_2176IMG_2177

 

LOL Surprise by MGA Entertainment

Image courtesy of MGA Entertainment


I was at Toys R Us today, buying some Tokidoki stuff, when I saw the LOL Surprise display at the checkout counter. I’ll admit I’m a little late to the ball regarding the LOL Surprise dolls. I’ve been seeing the displays at my local Target for several weeks now among all the other blind box displays, but the LOL Surprise display boxes were always empty. Apart from seeing the empty displays, I didn’t know anything about them, but my curiosity about these little blind boxes was further peaked one day at Target when a little girl went up to the boxes, saw they were empty, and said “Nobody has them!” So when I saw that there were a few left in the display box at Toys R Us today, I bought one – but only one, because Toys R Us limits LOL Surprises to one per customer. That’s how popular they are.

LOL Surprise promises seven layers of Surprise inside. I got a Series 2 LOL Surprise doll. The dolls come in a large round orb wrapped in plastic…

…and more plastic. So many layers of plastic. You have to unwrap each one, and are greeted with little hints and messages with each layer. Unwrapping the first layer reveals a hint as to which LOL Surprise you receive, along with layer 2.

Tea Party?

Layer 3 gives you stickers.

Layer 4:

Layer 4, opposite side. Angel and devil, get it?!

Layer 5. I see hard plastic. It finally looks like we’re getting somewhere!

After five outer layers of plastic, the inner orb is finally revealed. But the unwrapping still isn’t done.

Looks like the Death Star

The top of the orb hides the first piece of the toy, which, wait for it, you also have to unwrap.

Yay!

Two more surprises in the top half of the orb, and more surprises in the bottom half.


Finally, the package containing the doll:

The LOL Surprise dolls are broken down into “clubs,” such as the Glam Club, the Hip Hop Club, and the Athletic Club. After I dressed my doll, I checked the pamphlet that came tucked inside the orb to see which one she is. She is Heartbreaker, from the Storybook Club. All the Storybook Club dolls are characters from Alice in Wonderland. Heartbreaker is the Queen of Hearts. So the “tea party” hint makes sense now.

The orb comes with a handle so after you put it back together, it becomes a convenient carrying case for your LOL Surprise doll. 

Still looks like the Death Star

It also has holes at the top to accommodate the doll’s feet, so the orb is also a stand.

I’m on top of the world!


When it’s open, the orb serves as a little playpen for the doll. It has a space for her bottle, and you can turn the top piece of the orb over to serve as a food tray. It even has a slice of pizza on it.

The instruction pamphlet shows how you can fill her bottle with water and then pour it into her mouth.

 Then you can make her cry, 

and spit out water,


and urinate. (Yes, you read right).

Oops!


I didn’t put water into the doll to try it myself, so I’ll just take their word for it. The pamphlet also explains that you can dip the doll in ice water to make her hair color change. The water has to be about 32 degrees Fahrenheit for the color to change. When I dipped Heartbreaker into ice water, the white side of her hair turned red and a heart-shaped birthmark appeared over her right eye.

LOL Surprises are cute, but I bought mine more out of curiosity than with the intent to collect them. At $10.99 each, they’re a little expensive for such a tiny doll, especially when you can’t choose which one you get. But it was fun unwrapping five layers of plastic and opening five packets to reveal the Surprise. LOL Surprises are made by MGA Entertainment, the company best known for creating Bratz and Lalaloopsy dolls. Here’s a link to the official LOL Surprise page, where you can watch their commercial (I hope The Ramones don’t sue for copyright infringement 😂). LOL Surprise Lil Sister dolls are also available, featuring infant versions of the original dolls.

Have you been able to find LOL Surprise dolls? What do you think of them? Let us know.