As promised, here is my review of the new Hearts For Hearts Girl doll, Shola. To read my review of Mosi, click HERE. :)
The front of Shola's box
The back of her box. I still find it odd that Shola is the only one not pictured on her box. :}
Other side view
My Shola came in a very crunched box, but thankfully, Shola herself wasn't damaged.
The inside cover of her box.
The Shola prototype image that has been online. As with Mosi, there are several differences between this version and the actual Shola...but more on that later.
Here's Shola in her box.
As I mentioned before with Mosi, Shola does not come with an online game code.
Here is the girl-sized bracelet that comes with her.
A short message explains how the charity part of the purchase works.
And here's Shola, who finally decided to turn and face the camera. ;)
Her packaging is very simple, and I found her very easy to get out. I didn't get a picture of it this time around, but Shola also came in a clear plastic insert like Mosi's.
The inside of her box has a map with the location of Shola's home.
Here's Shola, free from her box. As you can see from the picture, her head covering does not have the purple lace trim at the front pictured in her prototype photo.
Her earrings are little gold balls.
Shola's gown. The material is a much simpler, thinner material than the material originally shown.
Still, there are some nice details on her bodice.
Like many of the other Hearts For Hearts Girls, Shola has a set of soft, rubbery bracelets.
And here is one of the main differences between Shola's prototype and the actual doll. Originally, Shola had high boots like the ones pictured on the inset of her box above. At the 2013 toy fair, she was shown with pink pants and tan sandals similar to Rahel's, as seen in this article from Doll Diaries. This article also gives you a better idea of some of the other changes in Shola's overall costume. (Interestingly enough, you'll notice in this article that the Mosi on display has her real feather, while the Mosi in the box behind her has her plastic one.)
The final result of Shola's look is what you see above: bare legs and purple ballet flats. The main problem I have with this is that Shola's bare legs go against her culture's beliefs. And unfortunately, this could really alienate the people group that this particular doll represents.
In all fairness to the Hearts For Hearts company, when someone mentioned this on their Facebook page, they were very apologetic. They explained that the boots in the prototype had been too expensive to produce, and they were working on making a longer version of Shola's dress that would be more culturally appropriate.
I understand that sometimes the cost of production forces a change in the product, but it's a shame that they weren't able to come up with a better solution in the first place. While I personally am not offended by bare legs (and let's be honest, I usually dress these dolls in different outfits anyway), I could see this causing them a lot of headaches in the long run. When the whole point of a doll line is to raise awareness about the needs in other cultures, having a doll that is dressed in a way that contradicts the culture it represents kind of defeats the purpose. While many American customers might not know or mind, customers from Afganistan or customers who practice Islam certainly will.
Another look at Shola's bracelet...
A look at the inside of her book.
Shola's plastic comb and mini hair bandie. Once again, I would not recommend using this comb on Shola's hair. Doll brushes with wire tines (is that the right word?) like this one are the best for doll hair.
Here's a view of Shola from the back.
As you can see, her hair is quite long underneath.
So let's take a closer look at Shola's head covering. According to my research, I believe the technical term for it is a hijab. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) I was very nervous about taking it off, hoping I'd be able to get it back on, but my Shola had a few loose hairs in front that I couldn't fix without removing it.
Shola's hijab connects at the back of her head with Velcro.
The part that crosses her chest is held in place by a small thread. I went ahead and cut the thread loose so I could completely remove the hijab.
Once the thread was loose, I was able to pull the side of the hijab around.
When it all hangs behind her, like in this picture, it almost makes me think of the scarves the girls wore in "Fiddler on the Roof" (I know, wrong culture). ;)
The hijab is long and flowing when it's not wrapped around her head.
It fits over her head and has a white elastic piece that goes underneath her ponytail to hold the whole thing in place.
And here she is without her head covering...with all those little flyaway hairs. :}
Another look at her long ponytail.
The only way I could straighten her hair was to take it completely out of the ponytail. There were also two strands of hair in the front that were connected at the nape of her neck with a rubber band (you can see them in the next picture), so I took those out too. I think she looks quite nice with her hair loose and flowing. :)
And here's something I forgot to do with the last review: a picture of the identifying marks at the back of the head.
I wanted to try some different clothing on her, so I undressed her completely, except for her underwear. (Side not here: I think this is the first Hearts For Hearts Girl I've purchased that actually had underwear.) I was a bit disappointed to notice that her body color was much darker than the rest of her. It was hard to capture the difference on film. You notice it the most when comparing her arm color to her body color, or in the previous picture of the back of her head. Notice the difference in color between her head and her neck?
I decided I wouldn't fret too much about this since it wouldn't show as much when she was dressed. (I also didn't feel like packaging her right back up just as soon as I got her.) However, I have heard of at least one other instance of this happening. Another customer mentioned the skin tone issue on Shola on the Hearts For Hearts Facebook page (I've linked it again so you don't have to search the post for my last link). Hearts For Hearts responded quickly and told her to contact the company. I do know from experience that they have excellent customer service, so I'm sure if the difference in skin tone bothers you, you could get a replacement. HERE is the page on the Hearts For Hearts Girls website that shows their contact information.
As I was photographing Shola, I noticed that she reminded me a bit of one of my favorite Bollywood actresses, Kajol Devgan. Her eyebrows are almost exactly the same:
Shola would be a childhood version of Kajol, obviously, and it's not an exact likeness, but there are enough similarities in the skin tone, hair and eye color, eyebrows, and facial structure to make them look at least similar to one another.
Because of this, I decided to try Nahji's tea party outfit on her, just for fun.
I think the result is quite pleasing (although I've been told by a friend from India that this outfit would not be worn by a child Shola or Nahji's age).
Now if I could just get an outfit for her like this one. :) Of course, since we've been on the subject of cultural accuracy, I'm not sure how culturally accurate it would be for a child to wear this. :}
I absolutely love Kajol and Shahrukh in this song from "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham", and I love her beautiful yellow outfit. :) (To see my earlier review of this movie, click HERE.)
So, my overall thoughts on Shola? I think she's absolutely adorable. :) Her hair, eyes and coloring are all very pretty. I love how versatile she is. With her coloring, she could represent many different nations. I'm disappointed by her outfit, especially because her bare legs go against what she would wear culturally if she were a real girl. The outfit also lacks the rich look of her prototype. And while not all of the Shola dolls may have the inconsistent skin tone mine did (and it wasn't a huge bother for me), it is something I have to take into consideration. On the whole, though, the doll herself is great, and her hair is beautiful (which is a relief after Mosi's less than perfect hair).
Because of the things I mentioned, I think Shola gets a 4.5 out of 5. ;) I felt that with her superior hair, she needed to score at least a little higher than Mosi. I do hope in the future, however, that the Hearts For Hearts company and Playmates Toys will pay more attention to cultural detail.
For those of you (like me) who pretty much just buy the dolls for themselves, Mosi and Shola are still overall great additions to your Hearts For Hearts collection, especially since it sounds like not all Mosi dolls out there have the same hair issues as mine (thanks for making me aware of that in the comments, Char). :)
And for those of you who love the dolls but wish their attire was a little more detailed and accurate, I have the Etsy shop for you! :) Wren Feathers features unique and beautiful patterns for Hearts For Hearts Girls, American Girl dolls, Karito Kids, and more, and it looks like she takes custom orders as well. Disappointed by Shola's less than stellar outfit? Well check this one out! :) She had a great dress pattern for Mosi as well that no longer appears in her store, but definitely save her as a seller. Maybe it will come back! :)
I hope you enjoyed hearing a little more about these two sweet dolls. Which one is your favorite? :)