Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Doll Comparisons

Hi everyone!  Just thought I'd share some photos of some of the differences between the dolls I have and some info about them.  I took these a while ago, when I'd found an American Girl doll on for $20 including shipping!!  I ended up trading her for a Josefina doll for my oldest daughter (she'll get it at Christmas...I'm so excited!). :)

These first photos compare a newer Just Like You American Girl doll, a Gotz Little Sisters Tess doll, and an Alexander Girlz doll, made by the Madame Alexander doll company.  First, I'll show you some pics of their faces so you can see the differences.

Aren't they cute?  I don't know how well you can tell, but the Gotz and Alexander dolls have much bigger heads than the American Girl doll.  Now for some profile shots!


It's fun seeing the differences!  The Gotz Tess has almost no nose compared to the other ones, and she has really wide cheeks compared to her friends.  The Alexander Girlz doll has a much younger look to her face than the other two, almost toddler-like, at least in my opinion. 
Next, I'll show you the side by side body comparisons. 
  As you can see, there are several differences between the doll bodies.  Tess (the Gotz doll) has a much thicker body than the AG doll, although I know the dolls have gotten skinnier through the years, so she might be a little closer to the size of a pre-Mattel AG doll.  The main thing that makes the Alexander doll stand out is that she has vinyl shoulders as well as legs and arms.  Her head is also poseable; she can move it from side to side and up and down. 

I have one more picture to show you.  Madame Alexander also came out with a line of dolls called Friends 4 Life that were sold at Walmart around Christmas time last year.  These dolls are also very cute, but they have a different face mold than the Alexander Girlz doll.  Below is a picture of my re-wigged Alexander Girlz doll, Maggie (on the right), and a Friends 4 Life doll (left). 
Both faces are really sweet, but I must confess I like the Alexander Girlz face mold a little better.  The Friends 4 Life dolls heads are just big enough that they almost make the doll look out of proportion.  Like I said, both are still cute dolls though. 

In summary, here are some of the pros and cons I've discovered about each doll:

Gotz Little Sisters or Precious Day dolls (from 2003 or earlier):
[Just a reminder, Gotz Precious Day dolls are the same as the Little Sisters except they have rooted hair.  The Little Sisters dolls also seem to have slightly bigger eyes than their Precious Day counterparts]

>They're very similar to American Girl dolls and can share most of their clothing
>They have sweet faces that provide nice variety from the toothy smile of the AG dolls
>You can usually get a decent Gotz doll on ebay for around $40 or so, making them a good choice if you don't have enough for an AG doll
>Their hair is comparable to AG dolls in silkiness and quality (at least when they're in good shape); Precious Day dolls have rooted hair that is still nice, but not quite as good as the Little Sisters' hair
>They're just so cute!!!!

>The Little Sisters dolls tend to be pigeon-toed, which can be frustrating when you're trying to get them to stand; if you're getting them for a smaller child, it might be hard for them to keep them upright.  The Precious Day dolls don't have the same pigeon-toed issue.
>I've run into a pretty consistent problem of cloudy pupil with these dolls (as a side note, always ask whether the doll has cloudy pupil or not when purchasing on ebay!  Some sellers don't notice this, as I found out the hard way!)
>The Gotz company is no longer making dolls, at least directly.  Some Gotz dolls are being sold through a company called International Playthings.  This means there's no Doll Hospital to send them to.  Most fix it tips for AG dolls will work for them, though, since they have the same body style.
>My only other complaint is that they tend to look a little hunchbacked because of the way they're stuffed.  It's not too noticeable when their hair's down, but if you ever put their hair up it's pretty obvious.

I'm not really going to say much about the American Girl doll, because anyone on a site like this will be pretty familiar with AGs.  Let me just say they're cute and well made, but the main downside is they're really spendy for the average family!

Alexander Girlz doll:

>These dolls also have really adorable faces, and they're great for photos because you can postion their heads in all sorts of poses, unlike the Gotz or AG dolls that can only turn their heads from side to side.
>While some people may not like their vinyl shoulders, they are great for sleeveless dresses.  These dolls look much more natural in a sundress! :)
>The main pro with these dolls has to be the price!  They sell at Costco around Christmas time for $25.  The Friends 4 Life dolls at Walmart were also sold for $25.  This makes them a great starter doll for a little girl who wants an American Girl doll.  We got each of our girls an Alexander Girlz doll to determine how they would treat an AG doll.

>While these dolls have great faces, their hair is horrible.  It looks great at first but tangles easily and doesn't hold up to normal play.  It's comparable to the Target Our Generation dolls, also known for their low-quality hair.  Another thing I noticed with one of my daughter's dolls is that on her doll the hair was very thin.  You could see through to the scalp the day she got her!  In case you're wondering, these dolls have rooted hair.  These make a great project for a re-wig, though.
>The vinyl shoulders are nice for sundresses, but the different body style does make these dolls a bit thinner than AG dolls.  They can fit into most American Girl clothes, just be aware that they might hang on them a bit.  Also, the clothes made for the Alexander dolls don't always fit AG or Gotz dolls.  Not only are they smaller in the shoulders, they're a lot smaller in the rump, too.  The other day I tried to get a pair of Madame Alexander pants on my Gotz doll and couldn't even get them up around her bottom!
>These dolls can't be fixed using all the helpful re-stringing tutorials on ebay, because you can't loosen their neck strings and take their head off to do it.  I'm sure there's a way to re-string them, but it's probably a lot more labor intensive.
>You get what you pay for.  While these dolls are sweet and pretty and make a good starter doll, they're not made quite as well as a Gotz or AG doll.  Although I will say my daughters' Alexander dolls have lasted through almost 2 years of play, and the girls were 4 and 2 when they got them!  Their hair's pretty disastrous, but they're still all in one piece.

Well, I hope this gave you some helpful information, and maybe some ideas for some alternatives to an AG doll for a younger girl.  I love all three of these types of dolls.  The Gotz dolls are my personal favorites, just because I love their faces! :)

Picture of Hailey's haircut

Hey, just thought I'd show you the picture of Hailey's haircut that got deleted from the last post, so you could get an idea of how much hair I kept on there. Of course, if you're re-wigging an American Girl doll or another doll that comes with a wig, you don't even have to worry about this because all the hair comes off in one big least, it's supposed to! :)

The Gotz Precious Day dolls have rooted hair, so that's why I had to cut it off. As another point of interest, one way to tell the difference between a Gotz Precious Day doll and a Gotz Little Sisters doll is that the Little Sisters line had wigged dolls, while the Precious Day dolls had rooted hair.

That's all for now...keep checking back for more interesting stuff!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some Past Doll Projects- Part 2

Okay, on to Part 2! This poor girl is a Gotz Precious Day Elisabeth doll from 2003 or before (in 2004, they started using a new face mold). I bought her on Craigslist for $38. I know you're probably wondering why I would spend that much on a doll in this sort of shape. In my defense, I knew her bangs had been cut, but I had no clue her hair was cut in the back, too. As it turned out, it worked out okay because I was figuring I'd have to rewig her anyway.

So here you can see some more "before" pics. Her hair was horribly cut, her neck strings were loose and some stuffing was coming out at her neck. She also had various smudges on her vinyl, the worst being a big black mark on her left hand (see the picture below). It really looked like permanent marker, so I wasn't sure how much luck I'd have getting it off, but I figured it was worth a try!

I got started with my trusty Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, like I had with Katie. Let me just take a moment to say, if you haven't tried this before, there's nothing more amazing than a magic eraser to take old dirt, grime, and rub marks off of vinyl. You'd be amazed what comes off of these dolls with a little elbow grease. I've even been able to use it on some of my daughter's other plastic toys. We have hardwood floors, so their dolls and toys are constantly getting rub marks! Anyway, once you use these guys, you'lll start stocking up on them. I think I have 2 boxes of Magic Erasers right now! :) And just to let you know, the off brands work okay, too.

After I'd finished with the magic eraser, I untied her neck strings and removed her head. Kinda
creepy looking, but now I could get that stray stuffing back in and tighten her neck strings. That alone did wonders. Retying the neck strings wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. You just have to make sure you get the strings tied as tightly as you possibly can!

Before I put her head back on, though, I worked on her hair.  I used scissors to cut as much of her hair off as possible. When I was done, she looked like she had a short buzz cut. I had a picture uploaded to show you, but this annoying blog program just deleted it and I'm still trying to figure out how to add a picture in a specific spot. So you'll just have to take my word for it.

Some people who re-wig dolls go inside the head and remove all the hairplugs. I've never done this, first, because I'm too lazy, and second, because I've found it still works (depending on the new wig) to use the doll with her short hair still on her head.

So here are some pics of Hailey (the new name I gave her).
As you can see from the picture to the left, the magic eraser took that ugly black spot completely off. She had quite a few
pink and brown marks on her hands and feet that came off
too. I didn't think her skin would clean up as well as it did.
Like I said before, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers will amaze you!

                                                                                                     Here's Hailey in her new wig. I used a "Denise" wig in auburn from the Monique company. I purchased it on ebay for a good price. The bangs are a little difficult to get right. Hailey's gone through several bang changes since I got her! Overall, though, I love the quality and color choices of these wigs. The Gotz dolls seem to have slightly bigger heads than some of the other 18" dolls, too, so these wigs work well because they run a little big. I used a size 12-13, which works great, but I've tried other brands of wigs in the same size that I couldn't get around her head.

Here are a few more pics of Hailey. In this one she's with her best friend, Danielle. Danielle is a Gotz Hildegard Gunzel doll I got at Tuesday Morning for $15!! Her original price was $169.99! She has the same face mold and all vinyl jointed body as the Gotz Sarah dolls. Just recently, they've been renamed the Gotz Hannah dolls, and are still being sold in Europe.
In my last post, I mentioned the different Gotz Little Sisters outfits. Hailey is wearing Tess's floral print meet outfit, so you can see the difference.

Here's a picture of Hailey with her two sisters, Tess and Ella. I thought it would be fun to make them sisters since they all have the same eye color and face mold. Also, I have 3 little girls of my own, so it's kind of a tribute to them. In case you're curious, Ella is another Gotz Precious Day Elisabeth doll that I renamed. I also put her in my extra Gotz Little Sisters Katie jumper so she would match better with her sisters! You can also see my pre-Mattel American Girl Felicity doll and my Alexander Girlz Maggie doll, made by the Madame Alexander company.

Here's a picture I took right after I got Hailey all fixed up. This was before I got Ella, which is why it's just the two of them in this picture.

So, I hope you enjoyed part 2!! That's all the past doll projects I have pictures of at this point. My next project will be a pre-Mattel American Girl Samantha doll I bought on Craigslist that needs some definite TLC. I'll keep you posted on how that project's going, too.

P.S. Still learning this stuff

So I just posted my last blog and I'm pretty frustrated that it doesn't look quite the same as it did when I was working on it (I guess that's what the "preview" option is for). It's going to take me a while to figure out the best way to incorporate pics and make it look nice, but I'll get better at this! :) Hopefully you'll see an improvement by my next post.

Some Past Doll Projects-Part 1

Hi guys! I'm working on getting some videos uploaded for you, but in the meantime I thought I'd do some posts on some of my past doll projects. Hope you enjoy them and get inspired to try fixing up some dolls of your own! :)

 First up is the sweetie above, my Gotz Katie doll. Katie was part of the Gotz Little Sisters line that was made in 2001 and 2002. She normally goes for a lot on ebay, but I was able to purchase her on ebay for $32.

I was so excited until she got here and I realized she was in much worse shape than I originally thought. She had white and sparkly red paint-like residue in her hair (it may have been colored hairspray), powdered makeup on her eyelids and face, and general markings on her vinyl. She also had one eye that stuck, refusing to close unless I used my finger to shut it manually. Her leg limbs were a bit loose, but she could still hold a pose if I positioned her just right. I was a little concerned that I had bitten off more than I could chew with this one! As I started working on her, I had no clue what I would end up with. Below you'll see some other "before" pictures of her.

 I started my project by cleaning her vinyl with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (thanks for the tip, stephenswodadancer!) :) That took most of her markings off and removed all of the makeup. The next big hurdle to tackle was her hair.

Before I started, I taped cotton balls over her eyes, as you'll see in the picture below. This helps protect their eyes from water damage and keep them from rusting. I also wrapped her cloth body in a towel to keep it as dry as possible.

I washed her hair twice with Johnson's Baby Shampoo (it took 2 washings to get all the yucky residue out). Just as a side note, I know it's not recommended to wash doll wigs, especially at the wig cap, but I figured her hair was in bad enough shape anyway that I had nothing to lose!

After her hair was clean, I gave her a downy dunk to condition it. Actually, to be perfectly accurate, it was a Sun brand "Cuddle Soft" dunk. This works just as well and is usually a little cheaper. She stayed in the "downy" overnight, and the next day I carefully rinsed all of it out, being careful not to tangle her hair again. I brushed through her hair, then laid her on her back on a bath towel and hung her hair over the edge of the washing machine. (that was the best flat surface available) :) I've dried the hair this way several times, which first was suggested to me on stephenswodadancer's tutorial video on Youtube. I like it because it helps the hair dry and you end up with some natural curl on the ends.

As her hair was drying, every once in a while I'd come by and brush through it again. It took almost a whole day to dry, but when it finally had, it was well worth it!

Aarrgh! I just accidentally deleted the after picture that was right here! Oh well, there are some more down below. She turned out so pretty! Almost all of the painty hairspray stuff came out, and I was able to remove just about all of the makeup, too. Below I've posted some "after" pictures, showing Katie with Tess and Lily, the other Gotz Little Sisters dolls, and one of Katie in her original meet outfit.

I absolutely love these dolls! They have such sweet faces. Tess is the brunette in the middle and Lily is the blonde. As you can see, I have Tess and Katie's original outfits, but I had to make do with Lily. Her original outfit was a blue striped turtle neck and a blue jumper. I'm not sure if these were the outfits from 2001 or 2002. The other year of production, the girls had floral print turtlenecks and jumpers in the same colors with a floral print decal on the front.

So as you can see, Katie turned out beautifully! It's so rewarding to start with a doll that is dirty and worthless by the standards of most people and make it beautiful again!

I really didn't think she would turn out as well as she did.
I was sure I'd have to rewig her, but the paint or hairspray
stuff came out amazingly well! :) She still has an eye that sticks, and her legs are still loose. Eventually I may re-string her, but I haven't been brave enough yet to re-string a doll. There's a great tutorial video on Youtube (once again by stephenswodadancer...I've learned so much from her!), but I'm so nervous to try it! It's not really an easy project, and I'm worried that I'll end up taking the doll apart and then not be able to get her back together again! I know once I've done the first one I'll probably be fine, so we'll see! :)

Check back for Part 2, when I show you my custom Gotz Hailey doll, a Craigslist rescue! :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

28 and Still a Kid at Heart

Well, the title says it all. I'm a 28 year old who still plays with dolls! :) Okay, I don't really sit down and play with them, but I fix them up, collect them, display them...well, you get the idea. I guess I just never grew up. Thankfully, I have a very patient husband and 3 adorable little girls who still give me an excuse to shop in the toy aisle! :)
My collections to date are: several 18" Gotz dolls (the same size as American Girl dolls), a pre-Mattel American Girl Felicity doll, and an Alexander Girlz doll (made by the Madame Alexander Company); a Beauty and the Beast collection (mainly centered around the 1991 Disney film); a Barbie collection; a Boyds Bears collection (left over from high school and college); a Breyer horse collection (left over from grade school and junior high); and whatever other collections I can't remember that are stored away in our closets. I also enjoy finding old toys from the 80's and 90's that I used to play with as a child. I still actively collect 18" doll items and Beauty and the Beast stuff, and sometimes Barbies if I find one with a unique enough face.
On this blog I'll be sharing some of the things I've been learning in the world of dolls. I'll show you some of my collections, share some tips and pointers, and above all, have fun and join the ranks of unashamed doll-lovers who will always be kids at heart. :)