Thursday, December 18, 2014

Weekend Wedding

Hey everyone!  I hope you're all having a great December.  I can't believe Christmas is only one week away!!  I did fairly well on my holiday stress until this week.  Then everything just snowballed.  I feel like I've been running around nonstop from project to errand to party this week. ;)  The good news is, I'm pretty much done with my Christmas cards, I'm done with Christmas shopping, and school is officially out for the holidays.  Whew. ;)

Sorry things were rather quiet this week.  (See the above paragraph for a basic explanation.) ;)  They'll be quiet for a bit longer, too.  Tomorrow I'll be leaving first thing in the morning for my husband's nephew's wedding.  I won't be back until late Sunday night, and I will most likely not have any Internet access during that time, so no blogging until I get back.  It's a busy time for everyone, though, so it seems like a good time to take a little break. ;)

I was hoping to "help" Tess with the post she's been working on for her blog before I left, but I just flat ran out of time.  That will have to wait until next week, I guess.

I think that's about it for now.  I've got to get to bed so I have the energy to get up tomorrow. ;)  I'll talk to you guys again next week! :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Art for Christmas: The Tenth Doctor

I've wanted to try drawing the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who for a long time, but I never seemed to get around to it...until this week.

Oldest Gal's best friend from school is a huge Doctor Who fan, and she loves David Tennant's Tenth Doctor best of all.  Oldest Gal wanted to get her a present, and we were trying to think of something special for a limited budget. ;)  It seemed like the perfect time to attempt capturing the Tenth Doctor in pen and ink. :)

I started by searching Google images for a good reference photo.  After browsing for a bit, I found this one and thought it had some potential:

Here's the rough pencil sketch I came up with:
[Side note: I apologize for the dark, round smudge that appears on many of these photos.  It's a problem I can't fix with my poor camera's lens.  The actual drawings did NOT have this on them.] :}

Here it is in color:

Unfortunately, this sort of forced perspective is pretty difficult to capture in a drawing, at least for me. ;)  The proportions just seem a little off.  It was super hard to get the sonic screwdriver to look right, too!!

But my biggest disappointment with this one was I felt it didn't really capture David Tennant's face the way I wanted it to.  I made his nose too curved (in my defense, it looked pretty curved in the reference photo), and by trying to portray some of his laugh lines and wrinkles, I think I made him look a little too old.  His eyes aren't quite right, and his mouth ended up looking kind of goofy in its half-open state.

I went ahead and finished the picture anyway, adding a green background.  It seems to look a little better from farther away. ;)

Here's a close up of his famous Converse shoes. :)

So, not too terrible for a first attempt...

...but I wasn't 100% pleased.  I also knew that if I went over to Oldest Gal's friend's house and saw this in her room, it would make me cringe. ;)

I started working on a picture of Ten in profile, but that was a complete disaster and ended up in the trash. :}

So then I found this photo and thought it might be just right.

This time around, I decided to try to kind of "cartoonize" David instead of trying to capture him exactly as he appeared in the picture.  I think it was a good decision; I'm much happier with this picture. :)  His neck is a bit too long, but other than that, I'm pretty pleased.

Here it is with all of the pencil erased.

And here he is in living color! ;)

Since I still don't have a great skin color in marker, I did his skin in colored pencil and the rest of him in marker, like I've been doing for my most recent pictures.

I think this is my favorite shot of the sketch.  My drawing is not an exact replica of the reference photo, but I think it captures the spirit of Ten.  I gave him a little more of a mischievous smirk than he had in the photo. :)  I also made his eyes kind of uneven on purpose, as they looked that way in the photo.

I started with a shadowy background in TARDIS blue...

...and then added a thin line of shading on the other side.

I checked with Oldest Gal, and she decided she would prefer the picture with a completely colored background, so I filled in the rest.  But then I had that pesky white space on the bottom that I normally end up with.  

I decided to go ahead and fill it in, even though it would look a bit weird.  I'm thinking of trying to frame this, and I wanted to have as much colored in as might be needed for the frame.

The bottom section ended up looking water stained.  And don't look too closely at the pin stripes, either...they really don't match! ;)  (I made them too thick and far apart in the first place, so it's not like they were great to begin with.)  At least I can always trim this part if I need to. :)

Overall, I'm super pleased with how Ten turned out, especially for my third attempt ever. 

What do you think?  Does he capture David Tennant's Doctor?  Try squinting...then he really looks accurate. ;)

Hope you enjoyed this little artsy post! ;)  Are any of you making things for Christmas gifts this year?

A Little Monday Nostalgia :)

How's it going, everyone?  Have all of your shopping done and cards sent?  My shopping's finished, but I'm still in the middle of the long process of sending out Christmas cards. :}  

I thought I'd leave you with some links to some of the fun commercials Honda has been doing for Christmas this year.  Have you seen them?  Honda's been using vintage 80s and 90s toys to advertise their "Happy Honda Days".  They make me smile every time they play. :)

Click on the names of the toys below to see their commercials:

Strawberry Shortcake (This one's my favorite!  I'm pretty sure that Strawberry Shortcake is played by Tara Strong, who provides the voice for Twilight Sparkle.) ;)

Hope those put a smile on your face and brightened your day.  Which one did you like best?

Have a wonderful week! :)  It's back to Christmas cards for me. ;)

All of these commercials were found on Honda's official YouTube channel.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

JCPenney's Frozen Anna and Elsa Doll Set Review

Okay, the promised review is finally here! ;)

Back in October, a set of Frozen Elsa and Anna dolls in their coronation dresses showed up on the JC Penney's website.  The set was priced at $25, and there was an option of free shipping to the store.  (As of the time of this post, the dolls are still on the website but are listed as out of stock when you try to add them to your cart.)  I was very excited to see these dolls, as I'd missed out on the more expensive coronation dolls that were released at the Disney Store around the time of the movie's release.

I had a bit of difficulty with the ordering process (two orders were cancelled), but finally ended up with my dolls in early November when they showed up in my local store.  Ironically, after I bought them in the store, my most recently ordered dolls ended up coming after all. :}  I went ahead and returned them since I didn't need an extra set.

Here they are in their box.

A closer look at some details from the front:

The top of the box


The back of the box...

...and some details:

The box had another bit of cardboard inside that slid out easily.

The dolls were held in place by plastic and twist ties.

Both dolls were attached to the same bit of clear plastic.

I was happy to see that Elsa had a twist tie around her bun instead of a plastic tie in her head.  Unfortunately, Anna did have a plastic tie in hers.

Here they are, free from all packaging! :)

Both dolls had layers of tissue paper in their skirts and around their legs:

A closer look at both girls, deboxed and "detissued". ;)

I thought we'd start with Elsa today. :)

Her face is painted nicely and looks almost identical to the Disney Store version of Elsa (more on that later).

Another angle. ;)

Elsa's gown is the same pretty blue from the movie, with a black "undershirt" that is actually attached to the skirt and bodice as a one-piece dress.  It is missing the skirt and bodice detail from the movie.  And you've probably guessed this already, but this dress is COVERED with glitter, and it does shed quite a bit.  I'm cool with glitter, so this isn't an issue.  However, if you're NOT a glitter fan (like my middle daughter), you might want to skip these dolls or get them new outfits. ;)

A closer look at the bodice of the dress.  You might notice in this picture that Elsa has straight arms with no extra articulation.

Another interesting thing I completely missed (but Oldest Gal caught) is that the black part of the dress is actually made of two different types of material.  She goes over this in her review later, so I'll let her fill you in on the details. ;)

A closer look at the skirt.

The dress has Velcro closure in the back.

As often happens with these dolls because of the twist ties that hold them in place, there was a bit of a gap in the material pieces beneath the Velcro.  However, I found with some slight adjustment, the gap was not as noticeable.  With time, it usually lessens, too.

Elsa has click knees like a typical Barbie doll.

The shoes are held in place with rubber bands.  Side note here: I usually keep the rubber bands on the shoes if they don't show and I'm just displaying the dolls.  The reason?  It's next to impossible to keep these shoes on the doll's feet without the rubber bands, and it's super easy to lose them. :}

Here's a closer look at Elsa's pretty face.  The sideswept bangs look is a pretty difficult one to pull off in doll form, but I think they did pretty well overall.

I didn't get pictures of this, but Elsa can move her head back and forth, up and down, and at an angle on both side, just like Disney Store fashion dolls.

Side view of Elsa's profile and ginormous bun. ;)

Other side view.

Her stylish bun from the back.

Now it's Anna's turn. :)

Anna has the same sweet, spunky little face of Disney Store Anna. :)

Another angle for Anna, too. ;)

And one more, just because I couldn't decide which one to use and she's cute. ;)

Anna comes with a "Cinderellaesque" choker instead of the looser necklace with a pendant that she wore in the movie (that's one thing the Mattel dolls got right). ;)

Anna's dress, much like Elsa's, is pretty lacking in detail.  She doesn't have the stripes or patterns on her skirt or the extra detail on her bodice.  And yes, she's covered in glitter, too. ;)

A closer look at Anna's bodice.  One thing I noticed as I looked at these in the store was that a LOT of the Anna bodices were really crooked.  If possible, it's best to get one of these that you see in person for that very reason.  There were a lot of Anna's with their gig line off. ;)  I also found that the satin material they used for both this dress and Elsa's, but especially on Anna's dress in particular, frayed or starting stringing with very little handling. :(  

In this picture you also get a better look at the arms of these dolls.  They move back and forth and out to the sides at the shoulders, but that's it.

Anna's skirt.

Like Elsa's, Anna's dress is all one piece and has Velcro closure in the back.

She also has the same click knees...

...and ballet flats held on by rubber bands.

Another look at Anna's cute face (sorry for the strand of hair across the front).  I think that the Disney company has really improved their freckle painting in the years since the first wave of Rapunzel dolls in 2010. These freckles are nice and subtle.

Side view.  Anna's bun is cute, but quite different from the way it looked in the movie.

Other side view.  Come to think of it, her hair is almost more of a Cinderella style to match her necklace. :}

Back view.  Look at that topknot!!

I thought I'd take a quick picture that demonstrates the extent of the arm and leg articulation.  Here is Anna stretching her legs and arms out to the sides as far as they will go.  Not very convenient in a dress. ;)

Sweet Sisters :)

They may not be the most detailed dolls in my Frozen collection, but I'm happy to have them. :)

I thought it would be fun to compare Elsa and Anna with some of my other Elsa and Anna dolls.

One fun thing about these dolls is that they are almost identical to the Disney Store versions of the mini dolls I reviewed earlier.  It's fun to have big and little versions on my shelf together. :)

Anna and Mini Anna

Mini Elsa and Elsa

Here they are with the mini Mattel dolls in their coronation dresses.

And here are all three of each together. :)

Here I have my original Disney Store Elsa next to JC Penney's Elsa.  As you can see, the Penney's face paint is almost identical to the Disney Store version, aside from some subtle differences in paint (such as slightly rosier blush on Penney's Elsa).  Penney's Elsa also has a slightly lighter shade of hair.

Here we have JC Penney's Anna next to my Disney Store Anna.  Again, the face paint is almost identical aside from some extra rosiness on Penney's Anna. :)

Here's a group shot of most of my Anna and Elsa dolls.  My DAC and Singing Anna are missing from the shot...and do Funko Pops count as dolls?  As you can see, I "need" to find a mini Mattel Anna in her winter outfit to complete my set. ;)

The four 12 inch(ish) ladies.

Mini Elsa and Mini Coronation Elsa

Mini Coronation Anna and Mini Anna

Mattel Mini Elsa, Coronation Elsa, and Coronation Anna

My Frozen collection has grown quite nicely since the movie was released a little over a year ago.  I'm happy with the fact that I have a pleasant little collection.  While there are a few things I'd love to add (especially the new Deluxe Talking Anna Doll...oh, and a mini Mattel Sven and Kristoff, too), I probably wouldn't want to do too much more than this:

I love how this display looks. :)

And just for fun, I'll share a picture of my Tangled shelf just above my Frozen shelf. :)

I'm still working on finding a new display space for my Hearts For Hearts Girls, but I decided to move them from this shelf so I could put my boxed Tangled and Frozen dolls on the same shelf unit as the rest of my Tangled and Frozen collections. :) 

So, enough of that!  Let's get on to the ratings. :)

Pleasing Qualities:
  Elsa: 4.5 out of 5
  Anna: 4.5 out of 5
      There are a few things I would definitely change about these dolls, but to be honest, I'm just so thrilled to have dolls in their coronation outfits that I'm not as concerned with the details.  I mean, I'd love to have dolls with the more articulated Disney Store elbows and wrists, and I'd enjoy seeing a few more details on the dresses.  I'd love it if Elsa had a tiara and her gloves, or even a cape.  At the same time, I got two dolls for a very reasonable price that are fairly comparable to the sold out and spendy ones from the Disney Store, so I'm very happy overall. :)  I might try finding a spare Barbie tiara for Elsa later.  I could probably figure out a way to make a cape and gloves if I were desperate enough.  And I've heard that puff paint is a possible way to add details to dresses and things.  I haven't personally tried it, so don't take that statement to the bank, and if you're still a youngish collector, you might check with your parents before starting a project like that. ;)
     Anyway, like I said, I'm happy with these two overall just because I finally have coronation dolls! :D

  Elsa: 4 out of 5
  Anna: 4 out of 5
      Okay, I do have to dock a point here for articulation.  I love taking photos of dolls, and dolls with straight arms are a lot harder to pose realistically.  I was tempted to give them a 3 out of 5, but I figured 4 was a more appropriate score since they're still an improvement on the hollow, hard plastic limbs of the Mattel Frozen dolls. ;)  Also, for smaller kiddos, less articulation can be a good thing and result in fewer broken arms and legs. :}

  Elsa: 4 out of 5
  Anna: 4 out of 5
      Overall, these dolls would hold up pretty well to playtime with their simpler articulation and updo hairstyles.  The main reason I docked a point was the lower quality of the material on the clothing will not hold up to normal play for long.  That being said, the material is pretty comparable to Disney Store doll clothing, which also doesn't do incredibly well with lots of playtime.  Also, if the hair comes out of the original style, it might be hard to get back to normal, and usually hair in a style like that has odd rooting when it's taken down.  You might want to encourage little ones to keep Elsa and Anna's hair in their buns.

  Elsa: 5 out of 5
  Anna: 5 out of 5
      It cost $25 plus tax for this set of two dolls, a very reasonable price considering that Disney Store dolls alone sell for around $15 each (unless they're on sale), and especially considering the price you would have to pay to get the Disney Store set of Coronation dolls ($70 originally, waaayyy more on eBay).  I definitely think they're worth the price, especially for any little Frozen fans out there. :)

Again, I apologize that it took me so long to get this review up.  I haven't been to my local JC Penney's lately, so I don't know how the in store stock is looking right now.  I hope some of you are able to find these in your own JC Penney's stores!

You might keep an eye on the website, too, just in case they get them back in stock.

I was finally organized enough to have my daughters help me with this review! :)  I hope you enjoy their thoughts on the dolls, too. :)  The italicized comments in parenthesis are my additions. ;)  Oh, and I also tried something new this time and had each of them answer two questions at the end of their reviews.  

Thoughts from the Gals:

Oldest Gal (Age 10):
  Elsa is a very beautiful doll, especially her face paint (but I don't like the eyeliner they put under her eyes-it makes her look a little tired).  Her dress is divine, but if you are like Middle Gal, you won't allow yourself to touch the blue parts of the dress, but that's pretty much all of it. (Middle Gal can't stand getting glitter on any part of her body.)  Her hair isn't really that movie accurate, and I was a little bit disappointed to find out that her legs are pretty hard to bend if you haven't bent them for a long time. (I hadn't bent Elsa's legs at all when I had them look over the dolls for their reviews.) It's funny, the black parts of her bodice are made of two different materials; the material that is attached to the blue part is kind of a satiny material, whereas the sleeves are made out of more of a stretchy stuff. (A+ to Oldest Gal for catching a detail I missed!) Note: as usual, since the skirt is all glittery, her legs have a little bit of glitter molded onto them.
  Anna is very cute, but they did the eyeliner under the eye again (not as much as Elsa), which makes her look just the tiniest bit tired, and they did a choker in place of her necklace.  She has blue eyeshadow (which I'm not sure she had in the movie).  They did her freckles really well, and her nose is just perfect.  Her hair is not quite movie accurate: she does not have her hair braided in the bun, her bangs aren't quite right (though it's hard to get it just right), and she does not have the ribbon hanging down from her hairdo.  Her dress is pretty good, and, if you're like me, you might like the dress kind of skin tight so that the whole time you play with her, you aren't pulling the bodice back to make it look skin tight (it's also the same with Elsa).  (Hmmm...I'm thinking we might need to go over the modesty thing again.) ;)

Did it bother you that the arms were straight instead of articulated?
  Yes, but I really enjoyed the way that their fingers are molded.

Would you recommend these dolls?
  I would definitely recommend these to adults.  They are very good quality dolls if you have them on shelves.  For kids, however, I probably would recommend these, but they are kind of delicate for child play.  Their dresses are a little bit thin, so if your child likes to play more roughly with their dolls, I would recommend changing the outfit.  Their hair might get a little bit messed up in any situation, but that's about it.  Except that if you're a glitter hater (like Middle Gal), you probably will despise the outfits.  

Middle Gal (Age 8):
  First, I'll talk about Anna.  I think she looks a lot like the Disney Store princess, but she's not supposed to have a choker, and it's supposed to be a necklace, not a choker.  I think she's really pretty and I think that she's cute.  Her legs are sticky and her shoes are strapped on by rubber bands.  There's only one bad thing: she has tons of glitter!
   Elsa is pretty, and her (and Anna's) bun is hard.  Her legs are sticky too, and she has even more glitter.  I think she's accurate and cute.  I like her purple eyeshadow because my favorite color is purple.  I think all of you people out there should go and buy this (too bad about the glitter).  

Did it bother you that the arms were straight instead of articulated?
  Yeah, I really like how the Disney Store dolls' arms and legs bend, 'cause it's more realistic, because people don't just bend at the shoulder and at the waist.  They bend at the elbows and the wrists and the knees and the ankles.  I want to get the ones at the Disney Store because they are articulated.  And that's my opinion for articulation.
  And also, Anna is supposed to be really active, so she should be able to move a lot, like at the elbows and wrists and knees and ankles.

Would you recommend these dolls?
  First of all, I would recommend these dolls to kids because they won't break as easy because not all of their joints are articulated.  I think some kids (if they were like me) would want to get the Disney Store ones because they're more articulated.  But other than that, they're great for kids.
  Now, on to adults.  I can't judge this one as well because I'm not an adult, I'm just eight, so adults who like accuracy, like on real people, would probably want to get the Disney Store ones, unless they want to get a cheaper one, because I know some adults who think like that.  But other adults would like these dolls just because they're pretty and accurate and they don't really care about the articulation.  And that's my opinion.

Little Gal (Age 6):
   Elsa is AWESOME!!!!!!  I love how she's so realistic and also I just love her bangs.  I also just love so much the glitter.  I also love her bun.  And I love her shoes.
   So, for Anna, I just love, love, love her glittery dress!  And the bodice is, like, realistic, and even though it doesn't have the designs, it's realistic, and she has her necklace, even though it wasn't exactly a choker, it's still realistic.  I hardly noticed the difference.  I like, I mean, I...JUST LOVE EVERYTHING ON ANNA!!!!!  And also, I love how Anna has her streak from Elsa freezing her head.  

Did it bother you that the arms were straight instead of articulated?
  No, because it's doesn't matter to me that they're not articulated, because they're just so realistic!  And I don't care about articulation, I just like realistic!!!! 

Would you recommend these dolls?
  Yes, I would recommend them because I think my class would like how...they just are really into Frozen, and they don't care about realistic that much, so they just like Frozen stuff, so I really think my class would like them.
  And for grownups, I would recommend them if you don't really care about the designs and stuff, and with Anna's choker, so I would really recommend them if you didn't care about that.  But if you did, I wouldn't recommend them as much.  And that's all! 

So that's what we thought of the JC Penney's Frozen dolls.  Thanks for sticking with our long post (not that long posts should surprise any of you by now). ;)  

Will any of you be adding these to your collection?