Saturday, January 29, 2011

Updates, including Birthday Party News

What a week it's been!  Between PG&E's visit, my oldest daughter's first oral book report, yowling cats at 3 am, and kiddos who are having a hard time sleeping, I'm completely exhausted!  Finally, it's the weekend, and I can (hopefully) take things easy and get ready for next week. :)

I just thought I'd share a few things with you.  First off, I think I mentioned that I got my daughters and their 2 cousins dolls for Christmas.  As part of their present, I told them I'd take some pictures and make up a doll story just for them.  Wednesday was the day we finally got the chance for an official photo shoot.  It was time consuming and tiring, but really fun, too (and yes, it looks like was a pleasant 65 degrees when I took these pics).  I'm really pleased with the way they turned out, and I've already started working on the rough draft of the story part. :)  Here are a few sample pics for you to enjoy:

I've decided that I probably won't do pics in this spot again (see above), even though they turned out so adorably.  This was under a big pine tree, and there were sharp, poky pine needles all over the ground.  Unfortunately, I didn't discover this until I was sitting in them.  Ouch!! :{

This pic took FOREVER!!!  Two of the dolls do NOT stand very well, and they kept falling and knocking the others down!

In other news, I am slowly and steadily working on my middle daughter's birthday party, coming up in February.  I have the cake topper, her present, and almost all of the party favors.  Invitations were tricky, though.  I usually make my own invitations, so that wasn't the problem.  Most years, I choose some stickers that fit the theme and attach them to some scrapbooking paper to make a little postcard-type invite.  The problem was finding stickers of Plum Pudding by herself.  You can find Strawberry Shortcake everywhere, but not much with just Plum Pudding. 

After several unsuccessful attempts at finding Plum Pudding stickers, I happened to stop by my problem was solved!  Hasbro has a bunch of great printable coloring pages, and they had two different coloring pages with just Plum Pudding on them!  I reduced the size, printed them out, and then the girls and I pulled out our trusty crayons and colored pencils and got to work!

After all of the Plum Puddings were colored in, I cut them out and attached them to some sparkly purple cardstock (thanks, Jo-Ann Fabrics!).  :)  They turned out really cute, if I do say so myself.  The cardstock cost me $10 for a whole 12X12 stack, and I only used 3 sheets.  It was cheaper to go that way since I scrapbook anyway.  The rest was absolutely free! :) 

In years past, my perfectionist side might have had a problem with letting the girls color the invites (doesn't that sound horrible? I'm sad to even admit it).  I'm so glad I did it that way, though.  It was so special for all of them to have a part in making them.  Not to mention the fact that it saved me from coloring, cutting, photo splitting, and writing 17 invitations all by myself! :}  And the invites my youngest colored can go to Grandma. :)

Plum Pudding Invitation (colored by me) :)

The backside of the invitation.  This is where I'll write all of the party info.

Invitation colored by my youngest.

Invitation colored by my oldest.

Invitation colored by the birthday girl! :)

I'll keep you guys updated on party news as it gets closer to February! :)


So Thursday, we had people come over who were affiliated with PG&E's "Care Program".  The good news?  They check your house for energy efficiency and replace any lighting or appliances that are not energy efficient (if our fridge had been two years older, we would have gotten a new fridge out of the deal).  They ended up replacing almost all of our lighting with fluorescent lights and pretty new fixtures.  Sounds great, right?  And honestly, I really am grateful.  Except for the fact that the new lighting has completely thrown off my photography skills in my doll room!!

I've worked for a long time to figure out how to take pics in there just right.  I don't like using flash because it's too harsh.  Sometimes my pics were a little dark, but for the most part I had a system that worked.

Now, the fluorescent lighting is way too bright and makes for unprofessional-looking pics.  I'm seriously tempted to be un-efficient and replace the bulbs with regular ones again! [Side note:  I talked to my hubby about this idea and it probably won't happen.  Apparently, these are special lights that are supposed to last for 13 years, so the light fixture is not the easiest to get into.]   I had a whole photo story planned out...Tess and Hailey's goodbye to Ella.  The pics looked okay on my little camera, but when I looked at them up-close today, they were pretty bad.  I guess that's what I get for not checking them on the computer Thursday night.  Now Ella is in a box on her way across the country, so I can't even retake them! :{


Okay, forgive my rant.  I'm fine now.  I just finished the "Goodbye Post" on Tess and Maggie's blog, and the pics weren't quite as bad as I thought they'd be.  The lighting just looks weird to me.  They may not look as bad on the blog, but they sure look crummy on the full screen.  I'm definitely going to have to work on this.   

Okay, I just uploaded the above pic and it doesn't look nearly as bad as it did up close.  Maybe there's hope yet.  I'll just have to figure out something new for my headers and other big pics.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Disney Store Beast/Prince Doll

Now I must do a post on my disappointing Disney Store purchase.  I bought their newest version of the Beast/Prince doll because all of the dolls were on a good sale.  I must say I was hoping for more than I got, especially after being so pleased with Rapunzel and Eugene (Flynn).  WARNING:  this post will contain a few pics of Disney Prince dolls in their skivvies to compare body styles (they basically look like they're in Speedos).  If this is offensive to you, skip this post. :} 

This guy is not nearly as great of a doll.  There are moments when he slightly resembles the Prince, especially in profile.  Even then, though, they just didn't quite get his face right.  He has enormous lips, a huge nose, a strange shape to his face, and his eyes don't seem like they're placed quite right (these pics actually make him look better than he does in real life...I guess I can be thankful that at least he's photogenic).

He also has a hard time standing on his own, as if he's overbalanced or something.  And he's not nearly as tall as I thought he'd be.

Probably the worst disappointment is his Beast costume.  His Beast head is proportioned way too small for his body.  Even worse, the Beast's neck doesn't even touch the shoulders of the doll, so there's a gap between his shoulders and neck.  As for his paws, they are attached to the sleeves of the blue jacket, which is typical for these dolls.  What's not typical is having to twist the sleeves of the jacket around so that the Beast's "thumbs" are in the right place.  The thumbs were pointing down when I first put it on, and it didn't look right. 

His head is rather thin compared to Belle's head.  It makes her look like she has a really big head.  I can actually sympathize with this because I have a big head and my husband has a small one.  It drives me crazy looking like a balloon head in pics with him! :}

Slightly better with the profile view.  Here he almost looks like himself.  By the way, Belle was completely mortified having to pose for this pic (she just met him today). ;)

I also have the older version of the Disney Store Beast/Prince doll, so I took some pics next to my new one just to compare them.  This version has a much better Beast head design.  Unfortunately, that part is in storage somewhere.  If I can find it later, I'll add some pics to this post.

So here are the guys.  You'll notice that while my new Prince has a fairly narrow head, the old Prince doll's is even smaller.  

I think they did a better job with the new Prince's eyes, but the old Prince is better looking overall (despite his somewhat cheesy grin).  I think a big problem is the new Prince's nose:  it just looks humongous!  


So here we have the Princes in their skivvies.  You'll notice that the Disney Store has changed the Prince doll body style dramatically in the past few years.  The older doll is just about fully poseable.  He has elbow, knee and wrist joints, and his head and waist move up and down as well as side to side.  It's too bad they changed this, because it would have been fun to have a fully poseable Prince doll to match the new poseable Princess dolls.  The newer Prince does have jointed elbows, but other than that resembles a Ken doll in poseability.  You'll also notice that the older Prince is much more built than the newer one.  I'm not sure what prompted this change either...maybe giving little girls more realistic expectations and little boys better self-esteem? :}  Another reason could be that all those joints wear out quicker than a few simple joints.  My daughters have the old version of Prince Phillip, and it's getting hard for him to hold any pose because his joints are so worn out.

The above pics show the differences in the two Prince's arms.  One annoying thing about the old Prince is they used two different shades of plastic to make all of his parts.  What's up with that?  

Leg details.  The new Prince looks like he hasn't worked out his legs quite as much as the old Prince.   

Notice the difference in their feet.  I much prefer the older mold for its detail.

A profile comparison.  Once again, here in profile, the new Prince looks much more like himself, but something is still not right, at least in my humble opinion.  Maybe I'm just too picky. :}

Here's a profile shot from the movie for comparison.  In all fairness to whoever sculpts the Disney dolls, this would not be the easiest profile to recreate.  It's actually pretty close.  Huh...he kinda has big lips in the movie, too.

Here are the two sets of clothes.  The newer Prince's outfit is all one piece.  I think it is slightly better quality.  The pants are fully lined with a mesh or veil-type material, and the gold trim on the sides of his pants looks nicer.  The blue "jewel" on his cravat is pretty pathetic, though. 

The older Prince's outfit consists of three pieces.  He has a nicer vest, but no cravat.  

Their boots are exactly the same.

Overall, I wish I'd held out for the Mattel Prince doll that came out when the Blu-ray was released last year.  But it's funny.  I couldn't bring myself to return this guy when my main complaint was against his looks.  It just seemed cruel somehow, when "Beauty and the Beast" is all about looking past appearances and finding the beauty within.  I know there's no "within" with dolls, but I'll probably still tough it out with this guy.  It could make a good story for my "Belle's Bulletins" segment on Tess and Maggie's blog.  (You can get there by clicking HERE)  

So, I'd give this guy a 5 or 6 out of 10, just because he was such a disappointment.  Who knows, though?  Maybe I'll like him more once I get to know him better. :)

Rapunzel's Braid

I was fiddling around with Rapunzel's hair this week.  There's so much of it, and it was shedding like mad, so I thought I'd try the movie's remedy and braid it.  I'd seen a pic on YouTube of someone's Rapunzel doll with a similar style (sorry, I don't remember the video!), and thought I'd try my own rendition.  So, without further ado, here is Rapunzel's braid:

I started by taking two small sections of hair and separating them from the rest.  I didn't take them from right at the front of her head.  I left some hair in the front, as you can kind of see from the next pic.

After I separated the hair, I started a tiny braid.

I continued braiding until I had braided almost to the end of her hair.  Then I did the same thing on the other side.

Now I had two tiny braids on each side.

After the tiny braids were finished, I braided the leftover hair in the center.  I included the hair I'd left in front of the tiny braids and used it in the big braid in the back.

I braided it all the way down and used a rubber hair band to tie it off.  By the way, I would recommend using a color other than black for such light hair.  Black was just the only color I had. :}

Next I took the two small braids and criss-crossed them around the big braid in back.

I repeated this all the way down the braid.

I used my one clear rubber hair band to hold the ends of the two small braids in place underneath.

And here's the finished product!  I was quite pleased with how it turned out.

The next day, I tried another variation.  I kept the tiny braids in, but started the big braid in back with a twist on both sides of her head.

Then I braided the rest the same as before.

I think this variation looks even more like her braid in the movie. :)

Here are some random shots of Rapunzel in her new "do". ;)

Her hair was great for this style.  I bet this style would also work on American Girl dolls, especially the ones with really straight hair.  If you try it on your doll, be sure to tell me how it went. :)