Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Maru and Friends Maru Doll Review

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by a representative from Maru and Friends, asking if I would be interested in reviewing a Maru doll here on the blog. Of course, I agreed! :D

I've been interested in this line ever since I first discovered it online a few years ago, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be able to own the lovely Maru. :) 

Note: Maru will be undressed for part of this review, just in case that's an issue for any of my readers. She does not have a developed figure, but I always try to mention this whenever it comes up. :)

Also, I took these pictures with my phone, so some of them are a bit small. Feel free to click on any of the pictures for a closer look. :)

So, without further ado, let's take a look at the newest member of the Never Grow Up doll family. ;)  

There's nothing like getting a package in the mail, especially when you know it has a doll inside! :D

My first view of Maru.

Maru came in her box, which was sealed in plastic. A small red envelope and a postcard were on top of the box.

"Can I come out yet?"

The little envelope (sorry for the blurry picture) had a note inside...

...with a little message and the Maru and Friends contact information.

The postcard had more contact info on one side...

...and pictures of Maru's friends in different outfits on the other. 

A view of the front of Maru's box.

I love the little ladybug on the Maru and Friends logo. :)

Side view

The back of the box.

Other side view.

Here's what Maru looks like once the plastic is gone and the lid of the box is removed.

I can't say enough about this darling face! Her head sculpt is just exquisite!

Maru's face was sculpted by Dianna Effner. I first discovered her work when I came across some of her "Little Darlings" dolls on Pinterest (you can see some of them HERE). Dianna has a great eye for detail and an amazing talent for capturing youth and innocence in the expressions of her dolls, and Maru is no exception. :) 

Maru was held in place by white ribbon, which was tied in delicate knots around her neck, arms, and legs. I went on autopilot and cut the ribbons to free her, but realized just after I did so that I could have simply untied the ribbons and kept them in tact. :{ Oh well, I'll know for next time! 

I appreciated the fact that these pieces of foam were placed around Maru's arms..., and neck to keep the ribbon from leaving rub marks or other damage on the doll herself.

Her hair came in a hairnet to keep it protected and neat.

Maru comes with a book, a purse, and a certificate of authenticity in an envelope.

Another look at that darling face, just because I'm smitten. ;)

Maru's purse is made of a leather-like material.

It opens at the top and latches with Velcro.

The purse strap can go over her arm...

...and also works over the shoulder, although her shoulder slopes at such an angle that it was a bit difficult to get it to stay.

Maru's envelope...

...containing her official certificate of authenticity.

Here's the book she comes with, entitled "Forever Friends".

The back of the book.

The book features an easy-to-read story about Maru, for readers ages six and up. Maru is a young Hispanic girl who has just moved to America to live with her aunt and uncle. Her mom and dad have stayed behind for an unspecified reason, and she misses them terribly. (According to the website, the separation is due to "political discord in her native land". The website also states that Maru's books are based on a true story.) The story discusses some of Maru's struggles in a new school and learning a new language. We are also introduced to Maru's friends Jamie and Tanya, who are also available in doll form (click their names to see them). The book ends at a kind of cliffhanger, so I'm assuming you get more of the story when you purchase the other dolls.

The illustrations are colorful and fun. 

Let's take a look at Maru herself. :) Here's how she looks when completely deboxed. She stands at approximately twenty inches tall.

I just can't get over that face! This is one of the most photogenic dolls I've ever worked with.

She has glass-like, unblinking eyes that are framed by "real" lashes.

I thought Maru's ears were a bit large and far back in proportion with the rest of her head. Part of that is I tend to really pay attention to ears since I have such a hard time drawing them in the right position. ;) Still, they're cute and covered by her hair, so it's not a big deal. 

Maru from the back.

Her hat looks adorable on her...

...but she looks cute without it, too. 

Her ensemble includes a long-sleeved orange shirt, an orange scarf, a striped orange and tan vest, and a brown corduroy skirt.

Maru's scarf comes off very easily. It is not stitched on to any of the other parts of her clothing.

Her vest has snap closure in the front.

I think this is my favorite look for Maru. I love how simple it is. This would be a great outfit for autumn. :)

It looks even cuter with her hat. :)

Here's a look at her shirt from the back.

It closes with three snaps.

Maru's skirt is made of corduroy, and has a belt with a silver buckle that is just for decoration.

Just like her vest and skirt, her skirt has snap closure in the back. I have to say, I love the use of snaps for the clothing. While snaps can be harder for little hands to manage, Velcro tends to snag material terribly, and things like Maru's tights and shirt would easily catch on Velcro.

Maru has tannish-colored tights on under her skirt that are thick enough to work as leggings, and these adorable fur-trimmed boots.

Side view of her cute footwear.

Her boots have Velcro closure on the inner sides.

She still stands just fine without her boots.

Here she is in just her tights.

Underneath the tights, she has a nice pair of lace-trimmed white underwear.

Here she is completely undressed. As you can see, she has a full vinyl body with articulation at the neck, shoulders, and hips. She has a little girl figure with the slightest beginnings of development in the chest.

Here she is from the back.

Her dark hair is long and shiny.

It is wigged hair, not rooted, and the wig is nice and thick.

Maru has "Maru and Friends TM" stamped on the back of her neck...

...and "Dianna Effner" stamped on her back. (The dark spot on her back is not actually on the doll; that's from my faulty camera lens.)

Her hand sculpt is pretty and delicate.

Maru's neck is able to pivot in its socket.

She can move from side... side.

She can also look up...

...and down. 

And she can look from side to side as well.

While her long, straight arms and legs give her somewhat limited articulation, she can still hold some nice poses:

She can hold up her arms...

...and sit...

...or stand with her legs outstretched.

She can also do the splits...

...or just sit comfortably.

She can even stand on one leg (although she's leaning against my backdrop for support).

I was especially excited to compare Maru in size and scale to some of my other large play dolls. :) She's pictured here with my Karito Kids Pita (aka Elena), my mom's My AG #47, my Hearts For Hearts Girls Mosi, my BFC Ink Yuko, and my Magic Attic Rose.

Maru is closest in size to the Karito Kids line. However, as you can see from the picture, Pita/Elena has a much more mature-looking face mold and a larger head.

BFC Ink Yuko looks quite short next to Maru! :) She also has more of a stylized look compared to Maru's very realistic face.

American Girl dolls are much shorter and wider than the Maru and Friends dolls.

The Magic Attic dolls have a similar build, but are still much shorter.

Mosi, of course, is much shorter. But she could work as a little sibling, don't you think?

I don't know that I'd necessarily pair Maru with any of these dolls scale or proportion-wise, but I love the uniqueness of each of them. :) If all of my dolls were alike, it would be so boring! ;)

I realized as I was typing this that I usually try to see whether or not dolls of similar sizes can share clothing, and I completely spaced that this time around. I will try to do a follow-up post on that at some point (probably after Mount Hermon), but I really wanted to be sure to get this review up before I left. Sorry if I disappointed any of you! I'll try not to make you wait too long for clothing swapping info. ;) 

I ended up with a ton of extra pictures of Maru while I was taking photos for her review. This is hands down one of the most beautiful, photogenic dolls I have ever owned, and I could NOT stop taking pictures of her! I thought I'd wrap this post up with a collection of some of my favorites. :) 

Of course, I couldn't stop there! When we had a pretty, overcast day last week, I took her to the backyard for an outdoor photo shoot. The green grass and the blossoming cherry tree made a perfect backdrop. :)

Maru retails for $120 plus shipping, and is a doll created for children ages three and up.

If you'd like further information about Maru and her friends, be sure to check out the Maru and Friends Website. Along with the other dolls in the line, you can find clothing, accessories, and furniture for Maru. For information on ordering a doll for yourself, the company's return policy, or other questions about the website and how it works, be sure to check out the FAQ page. If you'd like information on hair care, or to send a Maru and Friends doll in to the company for hair care services, stop by the Hairstyle Tips page. You can also request a free catalog or contact the company with specific questions or comments. 

Maru and Friends can also be found on Facebook HERE

Maru is an incredible doll, and I'm so happy to have her in my collection. I'd like to thank the Maru and Friends company for allowing me the opportunity to review her. :) When I was taking the photos for my review, I told my mom, "I think I'm in love!" And it still holds true. I am so pleased with Maru's amazing detail, incredible photogenic appeal, and the high quality of her clothing and shoes. But I suppose we should move on to the official rating before I get too far ahead of myself. ;)

Pleasing Qualities: 5 out of 5
   As I said, I am completely thrilled with Maru. Her face is detailed and endearing, her clothing is well-made, and she is absolutely stunning in photos. I honestly can't think of anything that really disappointed me. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for a high-quality play doll.

Posability: 5 out of 5
   I'm giving Maru a five for posability, because even though she isn't as articulated as, say, a Kids-n-Cats doll, she's not really advertised for her posability. Her joints are nicely strung and she holds a pose well. She can stand without difficulty, and the pivoting of her neck gives lots of fun options for head posing and photos. It would be nice if her legs were closer together in a sitting position, but as the splayed leg pose is pretty common in this sort of doll, I'm not surprised or disappointed by it. 

Playability: 4 out of 5 
   I decided to knock off a point for playability simply because these dolls are supposed to be for ages three and up, and I honestly don't know that I'd be comfortable recommending them for a three year old...unless it was a MUCH more careful three year old than any of my daughters were. ;) The company has a good return policy, but I wasn't able to find any information about any sort of warranty, so I'm not sure if they offer any sort of exchanges or repair for damaged dolls. The way Maru's arms and legs are strung would make it very difficult to restring her without the company's help. (I wouldn't particularly care to try it, and I've been studying with someone who's restrung dolls for museums). The stringing is nice and tight, but playtime does tend to wear on a doll after a while. ;)
   That being said, the dolls do appear to be very well made, and their simple articulation would help them hold up to playtime a little more. I just would worry for the eyelashes and the hair.
   I do love the variety of hair color, eye color, face molds, and ethnicity with this line. It's always fun to see a doll company branch out and make unique dolls that aren't just cookie cutters of each other. This makes it easy for little girls to find a doll that looks just like them, and can also be a great teaching tool for playtime. I've often shared how I love using dolls to illustrate the beauty in every color and culture. This doll line definitely fits that goal. :)

Price: 5 out of 5
   Maru costs $120 plus shipping. While this is not currently the type of price I would be able to pay for a doll, I think that her quality makes her worth the price if you can afford it. An American Girl My AG doll currently costs $115 plus shipping, and comes with far less in the way of clothing and accessories. Maru's quality definitely holds up to American Girl's, if not surpassing it. If I was in the market for a high end doll and had the funds, I would gladly be willing to pay $120 for a doll of this caliber.  

I didn't get thoughts from my daughters this time around, simply because this week is flying by with all of my other preparations, and I wanted to make sure I got this review up in a timely manner. However, I can say that they are all just as smitten with Maru as I am. :)

And how could we not be? ;)
I can't stop photographing this doll!! :D

I hope you all enjoyed the review! What are your thoughts on this line? Will any of you be adding Maru or some of her friends to your dolly wishlists?

I received Maru as a free product from the Maru and Friends company. All views and opinions expressed are my own.


MyLittleMegara said...

I like Maru's delicate features and sweet expression, though I think her clothing is a little silly (or the vest and scarf are, anyway.) She's very sweet, though I think AG still wins for me! :}

clarascraftcorner14 said...

Wow! What a beautiful doll! Great job reviewing her!

Lydia Therese said...

As I said before, I've been looking at the line for awhile. Now I really want one of these dolls. They are adorable!! :) Thanks for the review, oh and amazing pictures!

~Lydia~ <3

Maureen Magee-Uhlik said...

first off, i MUST congratulate you on reaching your goal! you are a kind,and beautiful person. love your blog. and now, i must say, although maru is a cutie, i still prefer tess.

Aileen said...

I don't like her arms. I feel like they are too long or in a weird position or something.

with Mel said...

Maru is so beautiful! And I just love her hair. I first saw Dianna's dolls on pinterest and they really are gorgeous. Sadly, way out of my price range :(
I hope you enjoy her immensely.

beastsbelle said...

Hi MyLittleMegara! Yes, she does have a sweet expression.

I love AG as well, but I also find it fun to enjoy other doll lines. It's great having so many unique dolls to enjoy in my collection. :)

Thanks, clarascraftcorner! :)

You're welcome, Lydia Therese. I really enjoyed these photo shoots. ;)

Thank you, Maureen Magee-Uhlik! I feel like even if nothing else exciting happens to me through Never Grow Up, I can die happy. Having a high-end doll company ask me to review one of their dolls has been a dream of mine ever since I began blogging. :)

Lol, Tess will always be one of my favorites, too. She's got a sweet, pensive expression that makes me melt every time. ;)

Hi Aileen! Maru's arms could be a little tricky in some of the photos. Perhaps it is the angle. I thought they looked nice tucked behind her back, though, the way I posed her in the picture in front of the ivy.

Thank you, Mel! Yes, Dianna's dolls are lovely but quite pricey! I'm very thankful to have one of her play dolls. :)

Emmy said...

Wow, she looks like my classmate's little sister! Both girls are real cuties!

Meritre said...

She has such a pretty face!

Farrah Lily said...

She looks really cute next to Mosi! I had no idea these dolls were as big as the Karito Kids (don't you just love Pita? I have her as well.) :) I think you did a wonderful job with this review and I am so happy for you that the company sent you this doll! She is beautiful and I can definitely see why you are smitten with her, but I bed she's even better in person. When I first visited their website, I was stunned by Tanya..I think she's my favorite! Those sherry colored eyes although Maru is just so cute. I have had my eyes on this doll line for a while and once I get caught up on my AGs (I finally got one!) I do hope to add one to my collection as well. Loved the review!

Mark Patraw said...

Maru is an all-around gorgeous and well-proportioned figure and I think her outfit is wonderful as well (the Savannah that Emily reviewed awhile back was adorable too). I'm not sure why doll manufacturers seem so reluctant to make larger ones like this with more articulation though, as, other than MGA's BFC Ink second-generation body, five or six points seems to almost always be the norm, and that's mighty limiting for both play and display.

I also don't have the funds to spend that much on a doll, but, for the price, I'd definitely pick a Maru & Friends doll over American Girl any day, as Maru and company are much more realistic/pleasing in appearance to my eyes.

beastsbelle said...

Yikes! Somehow I missed responding to several comments on this post! Sorry, everyone. :{

Hi Emmy! Your classmate's little sister must be adorable. ;)

I think so too, Meritre. :) She's so photogenic...I had such a fun time with her photoshoot (which you could probably tell from the post). ;)

Hi Farrah Lily! :) Like you, I was surprised at how tall Maru was when I realized her actual height. I wonder if she seems smaller than she is because of her young, childlike face?

I had such a wonderful time doing this review. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :) I'm so honored that I was asked to review Maru. I've loved her for a long time, but I couldn't justify spending the money on her with our current budget. I'm so thankful to Maru and Friends for giving me this fantastic opportunity. :)

Tanya is lovely, too. I also really like Jamie. :) They're all beautiful dolls. :D

Hi Mark! :) I agree completely. The Maru and Friends dolls are gorgeous. I also think it would be nice to see them experiment with more points of articulation in the future. At the same time, she has so many positives, I'm thrilled to have her just as she is. ;)

I love my American Girl dolls too, but Maru is definitely one of my favorite larger play line dolls, and I think her quality is stellar.