Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thrift Store Find

I was in my local Salvation Army the other day and came across this cutie:

She is Sophie Kate from the Play Along Club doll line, released in 2007.  There's something about her that reminds me of a Muppet. :) 

She was in rough shape.  Her flocking was rubbed off on her thumbs and toes, and she had some dirty spots and rub marks.  Nothing like a challenge, though, right? :)

Here are her before pics:

I saw these dolls a couple of years ago in the stores.  They were really cute, but I didn't really give them much thought at the time.  Then, about a year ago, I discovered the amazing, a site full of dolls, doll supplies, and "how to" posts.  Once, while I was browsing their site, I came across their page on Mel Birnkrant, a creative toy inventor who has been successfully producing toys for years.  That led me to Mel Birnkrant's Website, which tells all about his toy collections and inventions, and even toys that never made it to the market.  I loved reading about his successes, trials, and unproduced toys.  The site gave an interesting glimpse into what it's like to be a toy inventor.  I don't think I'd have the patience for it!  Just a warning, I would suggest sticking to the girls toys.  Some of his toys for boys were pretty gruesome (at least in my humble opinion)!
Ever since I found the site, I've been more aware of Mel's toys as I've been out and about.  So when I saw adorable Sophie at Salvation Army for only $2, I just couldn't resist. :)

  Click HERE to read the story of how these dolls came about, in the words of their creator.

Here's how Sophie looks now:
I wasn't able to replace the flocking, but I was able to clean her up a bit using a damp Magic Eraser.  I was also able to get her hair back in its original style. 

As you can see from the following pics, Sophie is very poseable.  She has wire in her arms and legs to help her hold a pose.  Her head, hands, and feet are plastic (or possibly vinyl) covered with flocking, and her arms, legs and body are cloth.  Her hair is made of yarn.  She has glass-look stationary eyes that are most likely plastic, and feathery eyelashes.  Her dress and bloomers are her original outfit.  She originally came with pink shoes and a hair bow as well. 

I love the sweet innocence of this doll line, and knowing the story and creativity behind such toys always helps me appreciate them more.  These aren't dolls I would actively collect, as I'm more interested in realistic dolls, but she's still a cutie.  And it's so nice to find fun, sweet dolls for little girls that don't have cleavage or teeny-bopper clothing.  I miss the innocence of childhood that we're quickly losing in our society. 

I'm not sure what Sophie's future will be, but my daughters are having fun with her for now. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New American Girl Goodies!

Okay, I know that everyone is going to be talking about this today, but I was so excited to see all of the new stuff, I couldn't resist adding my 2 cents. ;)  For those of you who don't know, American Girl has tons of new releases up on their website, including 2 new My AG dolls, 3 new mini dolls, and lots of new outfits and accessories.  My daughters and I have been oohing and aahing all morning. ;) 

Here are a few of our favorites:

My oldest daughter literally squealed when she saw this doll.  The hairstyle is almost exactly like hers (minus the little side bangs).  The eyes are the wrong color, but my daughter informed me that we could just do an eye swap with a blue-eyed doll. ;)  Actually, Marie-Grace's eyes would be about the perfect color.  

This doll looks like my youngest daughter, minus the freckles (plus, my daughter doesn't actually have this much hair...she's only 3 and it's still pretty wispy).  We thought she was a cutie, though. 

My middle daughter doesn't have a My AG that looks like her, but it doesn't bother her since her absolute favorite is Cecile. :)

It's always fun seeing the new holiday minis.  This month, two of them were released:  Julie and Rebecca.

While I'm not a big fan of Julie's Christmas dress, I still think she's a cutie.  Hmm, maybe Rachel needs a Christmas doll. ;)

I absolutely ADORE mini holiday Rebecca.  I love her Hanukkah dress and her head bow.  I already have the regular mini Rebecca, but this one is still seriously tempting. :)

I was so excited to discover they made a mini Ivy!  I've been wanting an Asian doll but don't have room to add another 18" one (since I'm already planning on adding My AG #55 eventually).  Ivy's hideous outfit would come off immediately, but I love the doll herself. :)

Here is the new "Merry and Bright" Christmas outfit (I know they call it a "holiday" outfit, but I prefer to call it a Christmas one, myself).  I like it better without the scarf and gloves, but below you'll see a picture of the whole ensemble.

I do think the little snowman snow globe is really cute. :)

I LOVE this grand piano!  I just wish it wasn't $150.  I took piano lessons for 9 years, so the piano is dear to my heart.  I would love to have this for my dolls.  It will only happen if I suddenly become independently wealthy, though. ;)

I really liked the Cozy Sweater Outfit, too.  I like the color and the fact that the sweater doesn't have "Innerstar U" plastered all over it. :}

I thought the Frosty Party Outfit was cute, too.  I wish it was an actual silver dress with a sweater over it instead of a sweater and skirt, but it's still nice. :)

I had to come back and add the Sleepover Accessories.  While they are way overpriced at $28, I just love the mini Apples to Apples game!   Maybe someday I'll find this on the secondary market. :)

So, what are your favorite new releases?  Was your morning filled with as much joyful squealing as mine was? ;)  Be sure to stop by and see all of the new goodies for yourself. :) 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Springfield Collection Outfit, Christopher and Banks for dolls, and more! :)

Here's a post with some fun goodies for your American Girl or compatible 18" doll. :)  I have to give credit to my mom for finding these great items and "sponsoring" this post, as her budget is more flexible than mine at this time. ;)  

First, I wanted to share this cute outfit with you.  My mom found this at Michaels.  It's part of the Springfield collection, which is Michaels' 18" doll line.  The outfit cost $7.99, and if you happen to get Michaels' 40% off coupons in the mail (like my mom does), it's an even better deal. :)  The set includes the white 3/4 length sleeved top and the blue denim jeans.

Doesn't Charlie look adorable?

The shirt closes with Velcro in the back.

Front view of the shirt

The jeans are simple elastic waist pants with stitching to make them look like real jeans.

The quality of this outfit was surprisingly good considering the price.  I was expecting the material to be thin and shoddy, but it was thick and sturdy.  The only negative thing about the outfit was something I didn't notice until after I'd taken all of the pics.  One small section of the jeans didn't quite meet the seam, so it was starting to fray.  Unfortunately, I noticed this after I'd already thrown away the packaging, so Mom couldn't return it. :(  Thankfully, she's a good seamstress, and her dolls are enjoying their new outfit anyway.  I just wanted to mention this so that if you do invest in one of these outfits, you are sure to look it over carefully before tossing the packaging.  

Shopping spree!  Charlie models the next two goodies:  a doll-sized cocoa and a doll-sized shopping bag.

Mom bought some jewelry for a friend at Christopher and Banks, and they gave her this adorable little shopping bag to hold the necklace.  As you can see, it's the perfect size for dolls! :D   

Charlie's drink is a Hello Kitty lip gloss that Mom found at a Sanrio store.  I now have it on display with Hailey's things, since she collects Hello Kitty. :)

Another shot of the Christopher and Banks bag.  I love how it looks just like their big bags. :) 

So, is anyone suddenly feeling an impulse to buy a necklace from Christopher and Banks? ;)

The last thing I wanted to share with you was yet another of my mom's finds. :)  This adorable doll-sized camera was purchased on eBay from the seller see-ali-shop, and was only $4.99 plus shipping.  At the time of this post, she has another one of these cameras listed, plus lots of other great stuff.  You can get there by following the link I've included. 

I love how realistic this camera looks.  What makes it even better is that when you push down on the button (like I'm doing in the picture)...

...the camera flashes and makes a sound like it's actually working.  Note:  The flash is REALLY bright, as I learned the hard way. :}

Hope you enjoyed the post!  I always love finding treasures for my girlies. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mini Doll Discussion

I know there's been a lot of hype lately about the new historical dolls being released by American Girl:  Cecile and Marie-Grace.  Some of you may have wondered why I haven't had much to say about them.  Frankly, it seemed like I had nothing valuable to add to the countless announcements and opinions already in cyberspace.  And it seemed silly to bring up a discussion about them when everyone else had already been talking about them for weeks.

So, for those of you who even care about my opinion, I think Cecile is pretty, but her curly hair does NOT look fun to work with.  I've pretty much decided I won't ever get a doll with hair that curly (unless someone is giving them away...I think I could live with a free curly-haired doll). :)  I don't mind Marie-Grace's coloring, but I'm not completely sold on her face mold. 

Anyway, the reason I'm bringing this up now is because I was just on and saw that they had pictures of the Cecile and Marie-Grace mini dolls. :D

Now, I don't know how many of you saw the pics of these mini dolls on Barnes&  For those of you who didn't, I've included them here:

I have no idea whose brilliant idea it was to photograph the dolls from this angle (hint: sarcasm warning).  Marie-Grace looks okay, but Cecile?  Yikes!! She looks a little bit on the creepy side.

After seeing the above pics, I'd pretty much decided that Marie-Grace was cute, but I'd pass on Cecile.  Even Marie-Grace wasn't an "Oh, wow!  She's cute," but more of a "Hmm, cute."  Then, I saw the pics on today:

Can I just say I am completely in love with mini Cecile now?  It's amazing what a difference a picture makes!  She is just darling!  Interestingly enough, Marie-Grace actually looked better in the Barnes & Noble picture.  While the lighting and coloring is better, I really don't care for the way they painted her face.  And the new face mold tends to make her look buck-toothed!  You can't tell as much from this pic, but if you go to and zoom in on her face, you'll see what I mean. 

So, I guess the main point of this post is that I'm really excited about mini Cecile now.  Funny, this is the most excited I've been about anything in the new collection.  Which I guess is a good thing, considering that I have my heart set on My AG #55. :)  But every doll needs her own doll, right? ;)  I think mini Cecile would be perfect for Hayden. :D

Monday, August 22, 2011

BFC Ink Dolls (Including a Comparison to AG)

Hi, it's me again...Beast'sbelle, I mean.  Not Maggie.  I'd just like to start out by saying that I claim no responsibility for Maggie's overzealous advertising about her blog in the previous post.  It was nice to not have to think up something clever for my 200th post, but my goodness!  You see what I have to put up with?  I think I'm going to have to keep an eye on her for a while. ;)

Okay, back on topic!  One of the doll lines that I've really been wanting to review for the blog is the BFC Ink doll line (aka Best Friends Club Ink).  These dolls are anywhere from $20 to $30 each, and as my budget is quite restricted at this time, I figured a BFC Ink doll review would be a long way off.  

Then I got a mailing from, informing me that I had $27.90 in rewards points to spend on their site! :D  I've been really trying to watch what I spend, so this was an extra special blessing. :)  

It took me a while to decide how I was going to spend my rewards points, but when I saw the BFC Ink dolls, I decided that this was a great opportunity.  I could do a doll review on a brand new doll for about $2 out of my own pocket.  It was a bit of a sacrifice, as my other choice was my "Tale As Old As Time:  The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast" book that I've been wanting for a while.  In the end, though, my desire for a well-rounded blog won out.  I figured I could either resell the doll after I was done or keep her if I absolutely fell in love. :) 

I decided on Gianna, the redhead with blue eyes and freckles (the package says blue/green eyes, but in person they look more like a deep blue).  I placed my order and counted the days until she came.

Last Wednesday, my Amazon package arrived. :D  Hubby was sweet enough to bring it over to my mom's, where the girls and I were staying for a few days.  [Remember our breaker problem with our house?  Hubby was able to solve it with the help of his dad, my dad, and my brother, but it took them a couple of days.  During that time, the house had no power, so we needed another place to stay in the meantime.  My mom was great and opened her home to us while the guys worked.]


Okay, I don't know how I always manage to get off on these long paragraphs before I actually show the pics, but I'm honestly moving on now! ;)

My box. :)

Here she is, still in the box! (You can see my daughters' feet to the left.) :)

Sorry these pics aren't the best.  I'm not used to the lighting at my mom's.  :}

Some of Gianna's accessories.

The back of the box.

Once our power returned and I got home, I continued the photo shoot in my more familiar lighting.  :)

Here she is with her box and all of her accessories.

Gianna's brush, sweater, glasses, and purse.

Gianna's journal and a BFC Ink membership card.  I haven't opened the journal, as I hope to resell everything.  I understand from the website and other reviews that the journal features entries from the doll and then has blank spots for your daughter to write her own thoughts as well.  I wasn't too impressed with the excerpts I read online.  Many of the issues they were dealing with were things I wouldn't necessarily want to introduce to my oldest daughter yet (she's within the target age range).  Nothing obscene or risque, of course, just teenage issues that I don't think my second grader needs to worry about yet. :)   

Each doll also includes a special code to unlock online games and activities, much like Karito Kids, Innerstar U, or Hearts 4 Hearts Girls.  I didn't use the code for the same reason I didn't open the journal.     

A view from the box.

Doll Statistics:
(I went ahead and used the same facts as I did for my Doll Comparison Post.  Please remember that all measurements are approximate!)

- Head Circumference:  11" (wig size would be either a stretchy 10-11 or an 11-12) 
-Shoulders: a little over 10" wide
-Arms: about 7 1/4" long
-Chest:  8 1/4" wide
-Waist:  6 1/2" wide 
-Hips:  a little over 9 1/4" wide
-Legs:  9" long
-Feet:  about 2 3/4" long; 1" wide
-Total Height: 18"

-Body Style: All vinyl, slim-bodied doll with elbow, wrist, chest, knee and ankle joints, as well as poseable head, shoulders and legs.
-Eyes:  Stationary
-Body Tag:  None

-Distinguishing Marks: "TM & 2009  MGA Entertainment, Inc.  Made in China" on back of head (see pic below)

-Availability: Can be purchased at Target, Kmart, Walmart, or (I've had trouble finding them locally, so might be your best bet).  Can also be purchased on the secondary market.  You can also visit to get more information.
Here's a pic of the distinguishing marks on the back of Gianna's head.

Gianna's brush.  I don't know that I'd want to use this brush on her hair.  Plastic bristles aren't the best for doll hair.  Although, it's not like you could do much to make her hair worse, as I'll explain in a moment! :{

Here are Gianna's glasses on her face.  I must say, I'm not really a fan of the "cat eye" style.  In the right outfit, though, she would make a cute little 50s or 60s girl. 

One of the great things about this doll is her poseability.  I would have loved having a doll this versatile when I was a girl!  As you can see from the following pics, she can do a lot. :)

While posing her was really fun, and the idea itself is great, I wasn't impressed with the quality of her joints.  Right out of the box, one ankle joint was noticeably looser than the other.  Her chest joint was also pretty loose directly out of the package.  Shaking her slightly made her swivel back and forth.  If her chest was that loose already, how floppy would she be after hours of play?  Would she continue to hold a pose? 

Gianna comes with pretty silver earrings that have little stars on them.  I know that some of the BFC Ink clothing sets come with earrings, so I'm assuming they are removable (I'm too afraid to try to take them out, though, just in case!) :}

Gianna has a stunning face and is very photogenic. :) 

I love her freckles and her pretty, deep-blue eyes. 

One thing I was NOT impressed with was Gianna's hair.  Her bangs were trimmed very unevenly, as you can see from the above pic.  Her hair also had a crunchy gel substance in it, I'm assuming to keep it flat.  Ick!  The hair itself started looking messy before I even did anything with it.  In a child's care, this hair would be a disaster within weeks...perhaps days, depending on the child!   

The "layers" in her hair were not very impressive, either.  It looked like a bad haircut.

My Gianna also had a pretty thin patch on the top of her head.  It was covered up, but I didn't have to move the hair around much to discover it.

I also found that I didn't care as much for her eyebrows.  To me, she goes from sweet and innocent looking with her bangs, to taunting, cliquish high schooler with her eyebrows exposed.  But maybe that's just me.

I thought it would be interesting to compare Gianna to one of my American Girl dolls.  For the sake of consistency, I chose Charlie, my renamed Mia St. Clair doll, which I used for the last doll comparison post.  (I also want to apologize in advance for the greenish tint to Charlie's skin in some of these pics.  The skin tones in this first pic are truest to their actual coloring.)  

As you can see, Gianna is just about the same height as Charlie, but is much slimmer.  Charlie would never fit into Gianna's clothes.  Gianna might be able to get away with wearing an AG t-shirt or dress (although it would be huge on her), but she'd never be able to wear AG pants, shorts or skirts.

Two cuties.

Here is a body style comparison.  You can see all of Gianna's bendable joints.  You can also see that she has painted on underwear.  I actually appreciate it when they do this on vinyl-bodied dolls.  I just with they'd start painting on bras, too! :)

From her more developed figure (and from the story lines in the journals that accompany these dolls), you can see that she is meant to portray a teenager, while the AG dolls are meant to portray 9 to 10 year olds.

Side view

Back view

Up Close

I also took some pics of Gianna with Elena, my renamed Karito Kids doll.  Her proportions actually work a little better with the KK dolls.  I didn't take any pics of them undressed, but at least you get an idea of how they look together. 

Side view

While the Karito Kids have a slightly more "realistic" feel to their faces, these dolls actually work pretty well together.  They have the same stationary eyes and slimmer builds.  I think Elena could work very well as an older sister for Gianna. :)

Thoughts on the BFC Ink dolls:

   1.  Beautiful, well-painted face mold
   2.  Her poseability provides great options for play and display.
   3.  A nice, light doll for carrying around with you.
   4.  A line of compatible clothing and accessories are available.

   1.  Low-quality hair with a bad haircut.
   2.  Loose joints directly out of the package, meaning more loose joints after playtime.
I was fully prepared to adore this doll and add her to my collection.  After seeing her in person, though, I may go ahead and resell her.  If I do, it will be hard to let her go.  I love her sweet face and freckles.  Her eyes are striking, and her outfit is cute (although the dress is a little too short and low-cut for my taste).  I really like the idea of having a super poseable doll, too.  Oh, the possibilities! :)  But her poor-quality hair and questionable joint construction leave me reluctant to give this girl a completely positive review.  

Based on what I've observed with this doll, I would not recommend these dolls (at least the super poseable ones) for a young child.  There's no way I would give Gianna to my 5 year old or 3 year old, for example, unless I wanted a doll that looked like a train wreck.  And just for your information, my 5 year old is pretty careful with her toys.  My 3 year old...not so much. ;)  The box says ages 6 and up.  Honestly, though, I'd even be reluctant to give Gianna to my 7 year old.  She's pretty careful with her things, but I think she'd find it difficult to manage Gianna's hair.  She might have some difficulty posing her, too, especially if her joints continued getting looser.  

I would recommend this doll for a careful, older child or an adult collector, especially one interested in a pretty doll to re-wig.  With a new wig and limited playtime, this could be a great doll.  

As a side note, these dolls make great older sisters for the Hearts 4 Hearts Girls (although the H4H girls would have to be about 4 or 5 years old by comparison). ;)  Both doll lines have the same slender, vinyl bodies and beautiful but almost cartoonish facial features (I mean that in a good way).  I wish I had a H4H Girl to photograph next to Gianna, but I guess we can't have everything we wish for! ;)

If I decide to sell Gianna, I'll probably list her on my local Craigslist fairly soon.  I want to sell her before her hair makes her look more used than she is!  I've decided I'll try to get around $25 for her, since I used up $27.91 of my rewards that could have gone towards something else.  I figure I'll put the $25 towards a My AG #55...or possibly that Beauty and the Beast book I was considering. :D  I'm still deciding. 

Hope you enjoyed the review.  Do any of you have BFC Ink dolls?  What do you think about them?