Monday, October 4, 2010

Madame Alexander Friends Boutique Doll Review (with pics!) :)

Hi everyone! I got some birthday money and had some eBay sales, so I splurged and bought the African-American version of the Madame Alexander Friends Boutique dolls at Wal-mart. So, just thought I'd share some pics of our newest member: Claire Rebecca Jones, and also give you some of the pros and cons of this particular doll.

Well, the first thing I have to say is that she is absolutely gorgeous!! :) She has the sweetest face. Her body is the same size and basically the same style as the Alexander Girlz dolls and the Madame Alexander Friends 4 Life dolls from last year. She has the same poseable vinyl head, vinyl arm, legs and chest plate, and cloth body. The main difference is that she has poseable arms and legs as well. Here's some pics of her in the box:

I have to say I was pretty disappointed with her poseability (is that a word?).  Basically, she has hollow arms and legs that have flexible wire inside (there's even wire inside her cloth body).  Both her arms and legs take some definite force to get into position (so much so that I was worried she would break when my 4-year-old tried posing her).  Her arms seem to like a certain point of articulation; there's basically one position they like to stay in.  If you try to pose her arms a little closer or farther, they won't stay in position.

You can squeeze her hands completely flat since she's's really weird!

This is the position her arms like the's hard to get them to stay otherwise.

Claire demonstrating the fun part about poseablity.  Tea, anyone?

Striking a pose. :)

Her legs stay in position pretty well.  I guess my biggest complaint is that she looks like someone deflated her legs and arms when you bend them.  It's not as noticeable when she wears looser clothing, but when she wears tight clothing, like in the pic below, it's glaringly obvious.  Couldn't they have done joints in her arms and legs instead?  Then at least she would look a little more realistic (especially in skin-tight clothes).


The other thing I'm wondering is how well these dolls will hold up to normal play, especially since they are a cheaper alternative to an American Girl doll for a younger child.  It makes me think of those bendy plastic toys with wire in them.  You play with them too much, and the wire eventually breaks inside (my brother's bendy toys were always breaking because he used them so much!).  Not only that, but since it's fairly difficult to bend the arms and legs, I could see this being frustrating for younger children. 

In looser clothing, the legs and arms look a little better.  And I think the poseability wouldn't be a problem for collectors...I just don't know how good it is for little girls.

The other thing to note is that her hair is pretty low quality.  Since I've had experience with these dolls in the past, I was expecting this, so it wasn't a surprise.  Within the first ten minutes of taking Claire out of her box, she had one strand of hair that was hanging 4 inches or so below the rest of her hair.  And although I love her corkscrew curls, they are very hard to salvage once they've been messed up.  Give this doll to your young daughter for Christmas, and I guarantee the hair will be a disaster within a day or two, if not sooner!  If you wanted to get one of these for a younger child, I would recommend one with straighter hair.  It's a little easier to manage.  Once again, for a collector the hair shouldn't be a problem.  Just don't plan on doing many styles with it.

The clothes she came with were cute and not too bad quality-wise.  I love her paisley shirt (the purple sleeves are attached...before I opened her I wasn't sure if it was 2 different shirts).  She came with everything in the pic below:

Here's a pic of her without her clothing:

I also bought one of the accessory sets, just to show you.  I bought the "Slumber Party Fun Set", which includes a pizza, a boom box, a board game, 4 barrettes, 2 sodas, and 2 bottles of "fingernail polish".  Here are some pics:

The back of the box has pics of some of the other accessories sets.

Here are some close-ups of the Slumber Party set:

The set is really cute.  I especially love the pizza and the boom box.  All of the sets shown here cost $10 each.  The only thing I was disappointed in was the low quality of the board game and the sodas and other things.  The board game is just printed on thin cardboard, and the sodas and things are just colored plastic with stickers on them.  I know in my house, the first thing to come off would be all those brightly colored stickers.  At the same time, you're only paying $10, so...I guess it's up to you and what you want to pay for.  :)   

One other thing to consider is the Target "Our Generation" brand.  While I don't care for their dolls, I think their accessories sets (comparable to these ones) are better quality and look nicer.  They are about $7 more per set (each set sells for about $16.58 instead of $10), but you get more in the set and the items have better quality.  To get an idea of what they have available, I've included a link to the "Our Generation" slumber party set at HERE.  This will give you an idea of the differences.  Notice that the Target set includes a sleeping bag and pillow.  There's not a boom box, but when I was in Target, on the back of the box it showed another coordinating slumber party set with a pink sleeping bag and a boom box.  I also really liked the "Our Generation" camping set.  While I love the cool campfire that comes with the Madame Alexander Friends Boutique camping set, I love the fact that the "Our Generation" camping set comes with a tent and sleeping bag.  For doll camping supplies, it might even be worth buying one Madame Alexander set and one OG set, just to get the best of both worlds. :) 

So overall, I love my new doll.  She is beautiful, despite my concerns about her durability for a young girl.  Hope this post gave you a better idea of whether you want to add a Friends Boutique doll to your dolly family.  :)

Claire hanging out with Hailey, her new friend.

Claire loves "The Princess and the Frog". :)

Some close-ups to leave you with...

...isn't she so photogenic? :)


Luciana said...

I loved this post! So helpful! It really ended my doubts.

beast'sbelle said...

Glad it was helpful to you. :) I know I appreciate knowing a little more about a doll before I purchase it. :)

Shari said...

Thank you for the post. I've been wondering about the quality of these dolls as well. The ones Walmart offered last year were pretty poor. It's nice that they offer poseability, but I agree with you the limbs look a little odd, and it's unfortunate that they're difficult to move around.

I've been wanting to make a camping set for my girls since late summer, but it just hasn't happened. I might buy the Our Generation set just for the tent (grandma has already made sleeping bags). I have a crazy plan for making a campfire out of natural materials. The plastic campfire just doesn't do it for me.

Shari said...

And yes, she's a beautiful doll. Seeing her in the box certainly doesn't do her justice.

beast'sbelle said...

Hi Shari, nice to hear from you! :) Glad you enjoyed the post. Hope your camping set project goes well! :)

Kym said...

Thanks for the post. I am planning on getting my girls these dolls for Christmas and was a little concerned with the hair. But they are beautiful dolls! Great Photos!

beast'sbelle said...

Thanks, Kym. :) Glad it was helpful...I know how nice it is to be able to research a doll before you go out and spend your hard-earned money. :) Hope your girls enjoy them!

Anonymous said...

I looked at the "Our Generation"dolls and they looked so much better quality.

beast'sbelle said...

Hi Marilyn! I think the Our Generation dolls accessories are definitely better quality. As far as the dolls themselves, I think it's a toss up. It's nice that they have the same body style as AG dolls, although there's always been something a bit unnatural about their arms. They curve at a funny angle, at least in my opinion. I don't think their hair is any better than the Madame Alexander dolls' hair. I have two nieces who have these dolls and the hair was quite disappointing. I also think the Madame Alexander dolls have prettier faces, but once again, that's simply a matter of opinion. :) Their bodies do seem to hold up nicely to normal play, and they have lots of outfits, stories, accessories and pets that make them a nice starter set for a little girl interested in AG dolls.

beast'sbelle said...

That being said, I think the Our Generation dolls would make a better doll for a young girl than the Friends Boutique dolls, especially because of the poseability problems. Personally, though, I'd go for an Alexander Girlz doll at Costco instead of an Our Generation (their faces are ADORABLE!!), and then buy the Our Generation clothes and accessories for them. :)

R@bbit said...

I really like the dolls. However, their clothes do not fit or they are too tight. One of my daughters have the Journey Girl and the Friends Boutique cannot fit her clothes.

beast'sbelle said...

The Friends Boutique dolls do have a slightly narrower build than the standard 18" doll, so I'm not surprised this was a problem. I tried AG clothes on my FB doll, but I didn't think to try any of her clothes on my other dolls. I guess I should have! :}

Black Doll Enthusiast said...

I've been looking for the AA doll in my area without any success.


beast'sbelle said...

I'm sorry to hear that! :( There are three of them in my local Walmart right now, so they're still out there. Hope you can find one!

Mary said...

Could you do me a favor and try them on an AG? I was seriously going to buy one of the outfits, but now I'm having second thoughts about fit. It's a really cute outfit with cozy-looking boots, jeans, a striped long-sleeve shirt, and a puffy pink vest. They had some roller blades that were adorably tempting too - maybe Emily's b-day? :)

beast'sbelle said...

Hi Mary, thanks for commenting. :) Unfortunately, I no longer have this doll or outfit. There have been some FB outfits that have been too snug to get on my AG dolls, but then there are some that are fine. Most of the problems are with the waistlines. I don't think they would fit a Pre-Mattel AG doll, but one of the newer Mattel dolls with a smaller body should be able to squeeze into most things. If you wanted to play it safe, I would stick with an outfit that was a dress or jumper rather than jeans or a skirt, just in case. Sorry I can't help you more. :( I'll try to rummage through my doll clothes and see if I have any Friends Boutique clothes left. :)

Mary said...

Thank you beast'sbelle! I will go ahead and buy it and tell you how it fits. I have a fairly slim (I think!) Mattel Emily doll, so it should fit her. Thanks again for the help! :)

beast'sbelle said...

You're welcome, Mary. :) I'll look forward to hearing how it fits. :)

Anonymous said...

i was thinking of getting you suggest getting her?

i have the roller skates and birthday set!!

beast'sbelle said...

Emily is a sweetie. :) I love her outfit and her hair/eye combination.

These dolls don't have great hair (although they can fairly easily be rewigged as needed; I've found that Blythe wigs from eBay seller shopoholican fit perfectly), and their poseable limbs may be difficult for little hands. I've heard some people complain about the plasticy smell of their rubbery limbs (it didn't bother me, which is why I didn't mention it in this post). As long as you're aware of these issues and are okay with them, I'd say go for it. :)

Personally, I prefer the Alexander Girlz faces a little bit more (these are Madame Alexander's play dolls that are sold at Costco), but the Friends Boutique dolls are very cute too. :)

One more thing I thought I should mention: since I wrote this post, I stumbled across a conversation on AG Playthings where a member came in contact with a used Friends Boutique doll and had a reaction similar to a latex allergy. I'm assuming with all of the required allergy warnings, there would be something on the box if the doll contained latex. I just thought you might like to know so you could check it out for yourself (in case you or anyone you know have latex allergies).

Hope this helps! :)

Kristy said...

Just ran across your blog. I have 2 girls 6 and 4 and we have had the OG girls now for about 2 years. ( my oldest thinks these are AG girls and I think I will keep letting her believe that) well this Christmas she asked for an AG Christmas. So my family set out to buy everything AG( or other 18" substitutes). The reason I am sending this is because while all the dolls from Walmart, target, toysrus, Joann's, and while I didn't know Costco are 18" their clothes are not interchangeable. The journey line (toys r us) dolls (I bought 2 for my nieces) are thinner dolls and therefore their clothes are smaller and will not fit any other brand. The FB clothes fit most any of the dolls as they seem to be the standard body, however their line of merchandise seems to be low quality. ( you get what you pay for) my girls got the FB beds and pretty much it's just cardboard with pretty cloth. They love them just hope they hold up. We also got the horse( which is how I came across your post) and since Christmas we are on horse number 2. The first one started coming unsewn and I got that resewn and then it stopped making noise. However, it is fully fury and the OG horse is plastic and no noise for about the same amount of money. After Christmas my 4 yr old wanted a AG doll (like her sister) she has the old tolly tots I found on eBay. So I went an bought her the OG doll knowing what I know about tr hair mess but figured she would still love it. Which she does but here's the thing the bodies on the new OG dolls are way thicker then any other doll. A lot of the clothes still fit but they are a tight fit with last years OG brand and don't even think about trying the journeys brand. Sorry to rumble but I was so dissappointed when the outfits they love didn't fit their dolls and we already threw away all the boxes :(

beast'sbelle said...

Thanks for all of the info, Christy. You had some great pointers and observations.

That's really silly that they made the current OG bodies bigger. Someone messed up on marketing on that one!

There are definite variations between doll bodies, so not all of the clothes are interchangeable, as you mentioned. That's good to know about Journey Girls (one of the 18" play brands I have yet to review). I did a post on the different types of play dolls and their body measurements, which could be helpful with that sort of thing. You can find it here:

I'm sorry for your disappointment on some of the items you got. I hope your kids are okay. :(

Thanks for commenting! I hope to hear back from you again! :)

DisneyWorksGirl said...

Funny, she's like the posable our generation dolls, I prefer the regular dolls, while they are cute and affordable i think they are a good start for kids who are interested in 18 inchers.

beastsbelle said...

I prefer the non-posable dolls myself. They're a lot easier for kiddos to play with. :)