Yahoo! Finally, I can check another grail item off my list. Recently, I particpated in an auction that featured hundreds of Barbie’s. On nearly the last page was this little gem– the Toys R Us exclusive Let’s Drive Student Driver Skipper and Barbie 2-Pack!
Here’s the thing about this grail item. Many grail items on my list are things that I personally never had a chance at buying. They’re either too old, like the 1950’s Madame Alexander Dionne Quintuplets, or I was a child when they were out, like My Pet Monster.
This Skipper/Barbie 2-Pack, on the other hand, I totally remember seeing in the stores as a collector and passing on it, thinking, ‘I’ll wait for it to be on sale’. Well, that sale? It never came. This set just disappeared. Once I realized it wasn’t coming back to stores, I went online and, surprise, the price had tripled. So began the long search of finding this set at an affordable price.
I’m happy to say the search is finally over. This sought after set was released in 2000 and was a Toys R US exclusive. Its unique packaging was eye catching, with three open sides and all the accessories displayed on the card.
To me, this is one of the last pretty, well designed Teen Skippers. By 2003, she’d be gone and forgotten by Mattel. Between this release and 2003, Skipper would be included in only five more lines, the final of which was another 2-pack, the Pajama Fun Tote (a new grail item of mine). I’m a huge fan of the long eyelashes Skipper was given in this release, as well as her strawberry blonde pigtails and bangs.
The Barbie in the set is pretty, as well. Thankfully, she wasn’t produced with the inflated head that we saw many times throughout the 2000’s. She has a fresh looking face with big blue eyes.
Skipper’s car may be one of the last well produced Barbie vehicles. From what I have seen, most Barbie cars now are small, made with super thin plastic and are cheaply constructed. This cool Skipper car fits two Barbie sized dolls comfortably. The interior of the car is stickered with different details, which is also something Mattel has been wishy washy on over the years. One detail I love is the small cassette deck that is molded into the dashboard. So 90’s!
Besides the two dolls and the car itself, the accessories are pretty neat, too! In this set, you get orange cardboard cones, your very own faux license, a first aid kit and cell phone, cardboard signs describing the rules of the road and Skipper’s very own drivers license and insurance card.
Needless to say, I am so happy to have finally added this cool Teen Skipper set to my collection. Do you own the Let’s Drive Student Driver Skipper/Barbie 2 set? Do you remember it hitting Toys R Us? Share your thoughts below!
Makies are very popular jointed 3D printed dolls. I’ve been a fan ever since I stumbled upon a facebook advertisement. Currently, I own two Makies and love them both! Because of this, I thought they’d be the perfect company to spotlight with a Q and A post! Christina Hsu, CMO of Makielab, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the line and the changes they have recently rolled out.
Question: Makies have been on the cutting edge of the doll world creatively since they made their debut. Can you talk a little about the inspiration for this unique line?
Answer: Absolutely! Our CEO and Co-Founder, Alice Taylor, came up with the idea for Makies while attending an industry toy fair. At the time she was a corporate executive working in the digital and games space. As an avid gamer herself, she thought — how cool would it be to bring digital/virtual goods to life in physical form. And, since she had a toddler at home, she set out to create a toy that her own child would love. It was important for the new toy to be stereotype-breaking, forward thinking, technology related and overall AWESOME. What happened next? Makies were introduced!
Since we started the company, we set out to make the best toys that we can imagine, which turns out is the best toy that all of you can imagine. Makies are the world’s first 3d printed toys, certified toy-safe for children 3+. We love that kids of all ages, from age 5 to 95, can enjoy our products and the experiences of making them.
Question: How have fans taken to the line? How does that make you, as a company, feel?
Answer: Our fans have been so supportive and enthusiastic since day one. Our first iteration of the dolls were prototypes to test our Makie Maker engine, and to see if there was demand for 3D printed characters. And it worked! Ever since we have been optimizing and improving our product. It doesn’t stop here. We’re driven by product development. We’re happy to say anyone who has experienced creating and making a Makie has given us incredibly helpful and positive feedback.
How does it make us feel? We love it! We love hearing feedback and seeing our customers’ excitement. We physically make the Makies, but you are truly creating the Makies universe with us and we couldn’t be happier! The creativity we see on social media with everything all of our fans have done with their Makies is incredibly inspiring. It keeps us moving forward on a daily basis. So we want to send a big thanks to our community!
Question: One thing that draws Makies apart from other doll lines is that the company isn’t afraid to take risks. Cutting right to the chase, what can you tell us about the changes that were recently made to the Makies dolls?
Answer: As you know, Makies are premium, modern, creative dolls. We love that we can give creators, like yourself, a chance to make their own dolls. Since we launched, we’ve been listening to our customers and hearing your feedback. In fact, we plan to launch more feedback and surveys, so it would mean the world to hear from you when we do.
We’ve learned that for people who love Makies but don’t buy, it’s overwhelmingly because the price is too high. 3D printing is expensive technology, and over the past few years we’ve optimized our processes and models to bring our costs down and pass the savings on to Makies fans. Unfortunately, materials costs haven’t come down as fast as we’d hoped, and we realized that the only way we could continue to keep our custom dolls on the market and offer them at an affordable price was to introduce injection molded bodies. We thought hard and explored a lot of options before arriving at this decision. We’re a very small company, and we need growth in order to survive and thrive in the competitive toy space.
At this time, we have Girl Makies available for purchase. Our Boy Makies will be taking a “vacation” for the rest of 2015 and will return with new and improved bodies in early 2016. Most of the creativity happens with the custom face and accessories which continue to be fully 3d printed. With the introduction of the new bodies, we’ve been able to drop the price of a Makie doll from $115 / £69 to $74.99/£49.99. Best of all they are still made locally in Kent, England.
Question: How will these changes affect the line? What are the positives and/or negatives?
Answer: What these changes mean specifically: the customizable elements of the doll remain EXACTLY as they were before: fully-custom sculptural facial features, choices of skin tone, choices of outfit, choices of hair and eyes and accessories. The new body is smoother, so it’s much easier to dress compared to the former 3D printed surface, and it’s also shinier. Most joints have been re-designed: the new neck joint is much more robust, and the wrist and ankle joints have been adjusted so they’re easier to play with than ever. A side effect of this is that hands and pop-on shoes designed for the former 3D printed bodies won’t fit the new bodies and vice-versa: we’ve heard from many Makie owners that they’d still like the option of buying goodies for their fully 3D printed Makies, so we’re looking at ways to make that happen.
A big plus is that the combination of the new plastics and the slightly tweaked joints gives Makies a wider range of motion and freer joint movement. New Makies can pose in ways that weren’t possible before – they can even do the splits! The hands and feet are more detailed, and Makies continue to be toy-safe and practically indestructible. Best of all, you can now bring a Makie home for far less money (35% lower than before). The dolls are still one-of-a-kind, custom and unique to you only.
We’re already looking into how to improve these new bodies, too. This includes minimizing seams and injection marks (which are very common in plastic toys), making better color matches, and updating our shop offerings for new Makies, including hands and shoes.
Question: Does the changing of the body type limit the skin tone options? How do the new colors compare to the colors used prior to the new bodies?
Answer: Ice Frosting (plain white) has been retired for now, but we still offer three delicious choices: Strawberry Milk (pink flesh tone), Cool Caramel (tan flesh tone) and Cocoa Bean (rich brown tone). We’re looking into additional tones too, and would love to expand the range in 2016 – we’ll see!
Right now, we’re working with our suppliers to minimize the slight variation between the tone and finish of Makie faces and the new bodies, which is most apparent with Cocoa Bean. When Makies are dressed the differences are barely noticeable, but of course we’d like to get the match perfect!
Question: Are the ‘old’ style 3DP bodies gone or is there hope that that kind of body might stick around for die-hard 3DP Makies fans?
Answer: For the time being, fully 3D printed Makies aren’t available, but we’ve heard from many Makie fans who would still like to buy them, so we’re looking into how we can offer them. It’s not as straightforward as it may seem … but watch this space. :)
Question: Do you have any final remarks for my readers? Where can we find/follow Makies online?
Answer: At MakieLab, we are constantly looking at ways to optimize and improve our Makies and the Makies experience. We recently participated in a program with The Walt Disney Company and announced some exciting news which you can see here. We can’t say more than that for now, but definitely follow us (@officialmakies) on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. We’ll share more information as it becomes publicly available in a few weeks or so.
One final note, thanks to all our Makies friends for your support, feedback and enthusiasm for our product. We love Makies and what makes every day even better for us, is developing Makies that you love too. We love to see what you make and how you play with Makies – please share your creations on social media with us!
Huge thank you to Christina for answering my questions! I love how Makies continue to change and grow. Some companies become popular and then are too afraid to adapt or improve upon their concept– MakieLab does not fall into that category. The changes they’re implementing now may seem like a lot to some, but I have faith that they’ll make the line even better than before.
The news announced at the 2015 Disney Accelerator Demo Day regarding Makies (and other start ups) is very exciting. From the article, “MakieLab lets kids bring toys to life by building their own customizable 3D-printed toys through creative games and apps. MakieLab will be introducing Disney-, Disney•Pixar- and Marvel-branded accessories for Makie dolls, as well as helping kids create their own versions of a Star Darling—inspired by Disney’s brand-new franchise for girls—in Fall 2016.” Funny enough, I was just thinking how neat it would be if MakieLab worked with Disney–they can make so many cool things with their 3D printers. Sign me up for two Makie sized Mickey Mouse ear hats!
I encourage you to say hello to the MakieLab team via the social media sites linked in the interview. What do you think of the changes currently being made to the Makie line? Do you own a Makie? Are you excited about MakieLab’s creating Disney themed accessories for Makie dolls? (Clearly, with my newest Disney toy endeavour, I am!) Share your thoughts below.
I just wanted to give you a quick update on a few projects that are going on in the doll world! First off, I have launched (kind of) another website, this one themed around Disney Toys, for About.com. If you have a moment, check it out. I’m still writing here, of course, so don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.
Second, A Girl for All Time announced a new line recently, Your Modern Girl. This line “will be wonderfully unique and reflect the world that today’s girls live in – a world more ethnically, socially, and economically diverse than at any other time this century with girls who are strong, confident, and comfortable in their own skin.” They’re going to raise funds for this new line via a Kickstarter. A Girl for All Time is reaching out to fans ages 8-14 to voice their opinion on the Your Modern Girl range via video submission. I don’t know when the deadline for this is, but it was announced mid-October, so get your submissions in as soon as possible. Details on how fans ages 8-14 can share their opinion and have a chance to be featured on the kickstarter’s page can be found here. (On the same note, check out the rest of Frances blog posts. They’re always fun to read!)
Third, you may have heard that Makies are going through a bit of a transformation at the moment. The bodies are no longer being 3D printed like they were before. The heads, though, are still being 3D printed. The biggest bit of news at the moment is that the boy dolls are being re-worked and will not be available to order from the website starting November 9th. That is a few days from now, so get your orders in now if you have a boy in your Makies account you can’t live without.
Fourth, my PO box is going way. It was a failed experiment, so please delete the PO box from your address books. (Do people even keep address books anymore? Am I showing my age?)
That’s about it, I think, for housekeeping at the moment. Stay tuned for the usual reviews and a special Q and A with Christina from Makielabs. Cheers!
Barbee0913 and I went to The Chicago Toy Show again late October. It was a strange show this time around. There were very few sixties play dolls (like Little Miss No Name, Giggles and Swingy) and antique composition dolls. The room was filled with Barbie’s, more recent play dolls and, surprisingly, Sasha dolls! The doll room itself was kind of small. The showrunners decided to dedicate a large part of the space to dining with a food stand and tables, which makes me think they had less doll vendors than usual. Enough of the negative, though, here’s what I picked up at the show! To see what my mom bought, be sure to watch the show video we did.
Madame Alexander Teen Maggie Face:
This was my largest purchase of the show. I have gathered a nice sized collection of hard plastic Madame Alexander’s over the years, most of whom are Margaret faces. This is my second Maggie face Madame Alexander. She’s 14″ tall and is wearing her stock outfit. Maggie’s hair is still styled well, even though she’s over 50 years old.
Homecoming Queen Skipper:
I’ve recently talked about the AA versions of this Skipper. (If you didn’t see that post, I recommend checking it out!) This white version seems to be the second release, judging by the light pink roses on her dress. At $5.00, she was a steal!
My Little Ponies:
Twinkle Eyed Locket (year 5), Magic Message Floater (year 6) and Firefly’s Adventure VHS Firefly (year 9) were well priced at one of the booths, so they came home with me. Just prior to me finding the booth, there was a girl who purchased all the Sea Ponies, which I would have gladly taken home with me, but alas, that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. (I don’t have any Sea Ponies.) These three, however, caught my eye and at buy 2, get one free, I was sold. (Now, if I could only find an inexpensive Mimic to join my Year 5 Twinkle Eyed Ponies.)
It’s not very common I buy Skipper outfits, because the prices are always insane. I was light on cash during this show, so I decided to dive into some of the outfit boxes that offered played with/not mint pieces at affordable prices. They may not be perfect, but I’m not one who needs an outfit to be 100% complete to buy it. I ended up buying these three Skipper outfits, Skinny Stripes (first photo), Wooly PJ’s (middle photo) and Red Sensation (third photo).
Also worth mentioning are some of the smaller pieces I bought. I picked up this cute little Corolle outfit. I recently received a Corolle– you’ll see her soon– and wanted a new outfit for her to wear. And last, but not least, I bought a handful of Disney pins, which I proudly display on my American Girl Grin Pin Holder.
My mother picked up a few nice items, as well, including some Kathe Kruse dolls. To see her picks, you’ll have to watch the video, linked earlier in this post. Overall, it was a fun show. I may not have had a lot of money to play with, but I like what I picked up.
Have you found anything fun at a show recently? Share your thoughts below!
Remember those posts I did about a new doll line called My Ballerina Dolls? Well, I finally have one in my hands! It’s time to give her a proper review. As we learned in the interview I did with creator Tiffany Koepke, this line has deep roots in the Ballet world. Inspired to create a doll that could pose like a real ballerina, My Ballerina Dolls currently features one doll, Clara, with others to follow.
At 22″ tall, Clara is a big doll. To put this into perspective, your typical MSD ball jointed doll is 17″ tall and American Girl and Madame Alexander Play dolls are around 18″ tall. So, Clara is at least 4″ larger than you’re probably expecting. Her jointed body has an athletic build to it, with thick thighs and a defined waist. If I had to compare Clara’s proportions to anything, it would be asian ball jointed dolls. The one place where she differs from them is in her jointing. She’s not strung. Her joints are more like what you’d expect on an obitsu body.
Let’s dive in deeper to the review, shall we? What originally attracted me to this doll line in February was the anime aesthetic of the face molds. Clara looks like she could have just stepped out of a ballet themed anime with her big eyes, defined nose and chin and round cheeks. Her inset eyes are blue with an element of purple mixed in and, as opposed to being flat (like a pullip eye) have more of a cone shape to them. Originally, I thought you may be able to change the eye’s through the use of a head cap, but that seems to have not made the cut.
Clara wears very little makeup, which means she can play a number of different characters. She has a few painted lashes above her eye and pink lips. I love the fact that she doesn’t have a ton of ‘stage’ makeup on her face. She has a very clean, fresh look to her. Perfect for the role of Clara, as well as many others.
Clara wears a three-tiered lace and chiffon nightgown. It fits her really well and looks great. I love the most outer layer of the skirt, which is a lace material. The main problem I have with the outfit is that as I’ve played with her and photographed her, I’ve noticed a lot of strings hanging loose or catching on her joints. The creators will probably want to look into that. I also find the short skirt (bottom most layer of the skirt) a bit distracting. Why is it so short? Wouldn’t that hinder her movement if dancing in real life? I just don’t quite like how it cuts the outfit underneath the really pretty lace.
Moving along, let’s talk about Clara’s hair. Good news! She’s wigged with a removable wig and silicone wig cap. The thing the company needs to re-work the most for me is this stock wig. I love the direction they were going with the styling, but there are a few problems.
Her long brown hair is styled in a braid. The braid itself is done really, really well– much better than I could ever do on a doll wig. But here lies the problem. It’s really hard to style a doll wig and not see the netting under the hair. Because of her well-crafted braid, you can see the black netting used for the wig.
The wig also comes off as thin, due to the amount of hair that is styled in the braid and side bun. The bun is covered with a wire beaded bun cover. Speaking of the side bun, I had to laugh at the bobby pins used in the hair styling. They’re practically human sized hair pins.
For all the work on the wig, though, the styling isn’t bad. I just think they need to work on covering the wig netting and finding smaller, loss obnoxious bobby pins. However, because the wig is removable, you can easily switch it out with one your prefer. Her head seems to fit Pullip sized wigs (8-9) rather well, some with and some without the silicone wig cap. (If you can think of other good sizes for her, let me know in the comment area!)
Jointing; The fun part and probably the most important part of this review. How is she jointed? Well, here’s a quick run down. First off, it’s important to note that she’s made of a mixture of vinyl and hard plastic. This mixture gives her a uniqueness to her skin not seen in a lot of play dolls.
As I mentioned earlier, Clara isn’t strung. She has more of an obitu’ish body. Clara has a head that will move fluidly in all directions. This is super important, as a ballerina would have to move her head in specific directions for different ballet positions. Her head stays in those positions really well.
Her torso has two important joints– her waist joint and a bust joint. My doll’s bust seems to sit forward on the body, leaving a weird gap when she stands. That being said, most likely clothing will cover this, so it’s not a huge deal. These joints allow Clara to bend forward and backward, as well as twist slightly.
Her arms have a number of joints, as well. She has a shoulder joint that moves freely in all directions, then a joint in her upper arm that turns. Her elbows are double jointed and will bend up and down. Clara’s wrist is jointed, as well, but in a slightly different way than her shoulder. Her wrist will tilt up and down, but can’t swivel in any direction. In order to have her palm face in a different direction, for example, you have to turn the joint in her upper arm, so you can then manipulate the wrist joint and get it in the position you need it in. It sounds confusing and I can’t even tell you the number of times I tried to swivel the wrist joint while posing her, but you eventually get used to it. Ideally, I think the company should look into making the wrist joint a little easier to adjust, without having to move the upper arm joint.
While Clara’s hip joint seems to hinder her doing an arabesque, her hip joint allows her leg to go very high up when in the forward and sideways positions. I had trouble getting Clara’s leg to go back farther than a tendu. I tried her in various ‘split’ positions and ‘warm up’ poses, to see what Clara could do and I was pleasantly surprised. She can’t do a complete split in either direction, but she gets so close!
Clara has a hip joint that turns, located in her upper thigh, double jointed knees and an ankle joint. Her knee and ankle joints move up and down, but don’t tilt. The joint in her upper thigh is super important in posing Clara in fun poses. It takes a while to figure out how to manipulate it, but eventually you’ll get the gist. For example, for Clara to bring her toes to her knee (like she’s ready to pirouette), you have to first make sure she’s in a ‘turn out’ position by using the thigh joint. I am probably making this out to be super complicated, but really, it’s not. Like the wrist joint, I do think it would have been nice to be able to turn her toes out just through the ankle joint, but it works as is, too.
Here are some images of Clara in first, second and fifth position. She balanced in all of them, even fifth.
One of my favorite things about Clara are her ballet slippers. I love the nearly knee high pink satin ‘ballet boots’. They look super cool. (I want a pair!) There’s a lot of ribbon used to lace these at the moment, which means they’re easy to lace up and tie.
Since Clara is a character in the Nutcracker, it would be wrong for her not to come with her own little Nutcracker. This set comes with a wooden Nutcracker. He’s put together well. While he doesn’t have a nutcracker mouth (that moves), he looks great with Clara!
Overall, I’m impressed with My Ballerina Dolls. Their ability to pose is great, especially in regards to ballet poses. I can tell a lot of thought was put into that aspect of this line.
I am also impressed with the face mold. I love the anime aesthetic. It’s not something you see every day on American play dolls. It’s an inviting change. Another huge perk for me is that I can change Clara’s wig. It’s always fun when you can easily customize a doll.
Watch the video review here. It’s a little long, but I wanted to cover everything.
I really hope this company succeeds and lasts for a long, long time. I’m a fan and will definitely be keeping an eye out for The Prince. You can order your own Clara on the companies website. Visit my Flickr for more images. What do you think of My Ballerina Dolls Clara? Do you have any other questions? Share your thoughts below.
*This product was received for a fair and honest review. All opinions stated are my own.