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 hollow...it's really weird!
This is the position her arms like the best...it'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 Target.com 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? :)