Chicago Doll and Toy Show and C2E2 Goodies

This past weekend was very busy for my mom and me.  Friday, we attended the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2). I was looking forward to it, being the first convention of a very convention heavy summer.  Overall, it was a fun day.  I put together my first ‘real’ cosplay, which was exciting. (Past years, I’ve usually just tossed on a Her Universe Everyday Cosplay look.)  I’m very proud of my costume, actually.  A few people recognized my slightly obscure character, Daria, which made me really, really happy.

C2E2 2015

Besides that fun, we actually found some pretty nice doll related items in the vendor hall.  Besides growing my C3PO collection a bit with a few affordable action figures, I picked up a fair amount of Jem and the Holograms items, too!  Now, these are all fan made items, no actual dolls, but still, finding one Jem thing is usually a big deal for me and at C2E2, I walked away with a few neat pieces.

If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll know I love when a doll related product can be used in real life.  That is what drew me to my first Jem and the Holograms purchase– a belt.  Yes.  It’s a new Jem and the Holograms belt with vintage promotional graphics on it.  Being a huge fan of the promotional/box art, I couldn’t not buy this Seatbelt Belt from Buckle-Down.  I just noticed Kimber and Shana aren’t on the belt.  Strange, right?  I love the graphic with Rio, Jerrica and Jem, though.  It’s always been my favorite.

C2E2 2015

The second item I picked up was the first issue of the new Jem and the Holograms comic with the subscription cover (cover art by Sara Richard). I had been searching for this at my local comic book shop since it made its debut, but hadn’t found it yet.  I’m glad I didn’t, because the cover artist was able to sign this for me at C2E2.

C2E2 2015

Last, and this is totally due to my mom, I picked up this amazing Jem and Cheetara print.  You might remember Cheetara from Thundercats.  This is a truly outrageous print, in my opinion.  I love the classic, yet updated look the artist, Catherine Saturn, gave Jem.

C2E2 2015

To see the full photo album, visit my flickr. It has pictures of the other items I bought and some of the guests I saw, including the dreamy Eoin Macken.  Embedded below are two blind box videos we shot after the show.  They include a cameo from my brother!

Now, onto the following Sunday, when mom and I went to the Chicago Doll and Toy Show.  Usually, I leave the Kane County Fairgrounds with bags of goodies.  This year was a little different.  Nothing really spoke to me, like it has in the past.  One whole walk around and nothing really said, “Buy me, Ashley!”. The ‘Doll Room’ seemed lighter than usual, vendor wise.  We didn’t see what we usually do, either.  There were a lot of porcelain and older composition dolls, but not a lot of baby boomer dolls, like Little Miss No Name, Sketchy or Giggles.  There also weren’t as many fashion dolls or Madame Alexander’s for sale.  It was a really strange showroom floor.

That being said, we still managed to buy some pretty awesome things and the best part? We got them for amazing prices.  One of the dolls I purchased was a reproduction Terri Lee doll, Bonnie Lou. She was part of the KMart exclusive line, according to the seller.  There were a few on the show floor, but the one I picked up was the cheapest to be seen at $15.00.

K-Mart Reproduction Terri Lee

Another purchase, my first for the day, actually, was a 21″ R&B (Arrenbee) composition bride doll from the 40’s or early 50’s.  She wears a brown mohair wig, has dark brown eyes and tan skin.  This bride doll is my first R&B doll and my first composition doll. I’m currently on the hunt of finding the exact name of this doll and a more definitive year of production.

R&B 21" Composition Bride

The third item I picked up was a 14″ Madame Alexander hard plastic Amy. This was the only lonely Madame Alexander doll in the dealers booth and when she saw us taking an interest in her, she came over to tell us the dolls story. It turns out one of the vendors dear friends had passed away and she was trying to get her friends doll collection into good hands.  The marked price on the doll was $85.00, but by the time I got to the booth, she had been lowered to $35.00.  There wasn’t a question about if she would go home with me at that price.  Her face needs some work, but her hair is practically perfect, due to the previous owner being a hair dresser.

Madame Alexander 14" Little Women Amy

My mom picked up a number of fun dolls, too, which include a mint in box Baby First Step and Rosebud.  Watch the video reveal to see everything we bought and some fun little banter, as well.  Also, visit flickr for a few more images of these beautiful dolls!

Did you see anything fun at a doll show recently?  Have you added something new to your collection?  Do you know the name of my new R&B or have you seen an Amy in the outfit mine is in (because I haven’t yet)?  Share your thoughts below!

May 3, 2015. Tags: , , , , . Introductions & Reviews, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Book Review: Jem and the Holograms, Issue 1 and Free Comic Book Day

2015 looks like it’s going to be a truly outrageous year for Jem and the Holograms.  Celebrating 30 years, the doll line turned cartoon is far from forgotten.   In March, the first issue of the new Jem and the Holograms comic made its debut.  Published by IDW Publishing, this series is written by Kelly Thompson and drawn by Sophie Campbell (formally Ross Campbell).  So far, the releases have received multiple limited edition variant covers created by popular artists Sarah Richard and Amy Mebberson.

M Cover- Each Hologram has a cover

Amy Mebberson Cover- Each Hologram has a cover!

Now, I’m the first person to call myself a single issue comic book ‘newb’.  I haven’t gone searching for a single issue comic book for years, to tell you the truth.  I prefer to read my comics in bound, multi-issue bindings. But this is Jem and the Holograms!  There was no way I would miss getting my hands on this potentially outrageous comic.

Jem Cover by Sara Richard (Sub Cover)

Jem Cover by Sara Richard (Sub Cover)

Of the many cover variants offered on this first issue, I ended up picking up the Sara Richard Subscription cover (and a Jem postcard) at C2E2 this past weekend.  Truthfully, it was my favorite of the different covers.  I love Amy Mebberson’s work, but I adore the realistic portrayal of Jem on Sara’s cover.  It reminds me of the box art on the Jem dolls.

How does one go about reviewing a comic book?  For simplicities sake, I’ll split this review into two categories: story and art.  This is not a retelling of the original cartoon.  Don’t expect a young adult to be put in charge of a major music corporation or to be running a home full of foster kids.  (Though I am not saying that can’t happen– who knows!)  While the creators took care in making the foundation similar to the original cartoon, it isn’t a carbon copy.  The story begins with our hero, Jerrica Benton, suffering from some super serious stage fright.  Unable to sing in front of large crowds, she’s putting her band and her sister Kimber’s dream of winning the Misfits VS competition in jeopardy.

Jem Sample Page 1

Jem Sample Page 1

Jem Sample Page 2

Jem Sample Page 2

Jerrica freaks out and runs back home where she finds the holographic earrings.  That’s when the story really picks up.  Being only a single issue, 20 page comic, the ending of this comic feels a lot like the ending of the cliffhangers in the first few Jem episodes.

I think they did a great job of adapting the material. They kept elements that were necessary, like Jerrica and Kimber losing their parents, and tweaked the stuff that didn’t make as much sense in today’s world, like a young adult who has very little life experience being given permission to care for a large group of foster girls.  (Again, though, having only read the first issue, this could totally be part of the story.  We’ll have to wait and see.)

Character Art- Rio

Character Art- Rio

For those looking forward to seeing Rio, bad news– he’s not in this issue.  However, there is new character art featuring him on IDW’s Jem page, so he hasn’t been forgotten.

Jem Cover Art

Jem Cover Art (basic edition)

Art can make or break a comic, especially for me.  (I can’t help it, I’m a bit picky about style when it comes to comics.)  However, I’m happy to say that the art style used in this comic wasn’t a deal breaker! The colors are spot on and the characters have a cool, stylish look to them. Jem, Jerrica and the Holograms sport the same unique hair colors that made them stand out in the cartoon, but don’t all have thin, super model type bodies.

Character Design Jem and Aja

Character Design Jem and Aja

Character Art- Kimber and Shana

Character Art- Kimber and Shana

The character design is more cartoon’y than realistic. The art isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, I’m fine with it.  The best thing about the character design so far? Their hair. I love all four (five, counting Jem) of the main girls hair styles.  As far as reading and dialogue flow, the thought bubbles didn’t seem intrusive at all and they were easy to read in sequence, which is another bonus in my book.

Jem

Jem

Overall, I’m liking this series so far.  It has a ways to go and no doubt it will be a struggle for me to remember to pick up my copy every month, but so far, so good!  Kelly and Ross did a great  job at keeping Jem and the Holograms both classic and modern. Currently, Samantha Newark, speaking voice of Jem, is offering signed comics via her website.  (I would order issue two, signed by Samantha, Sara and Patricia Alice Albrect, speaking voice of head Misfit Pizzazz.  Plus, it comes with a 11×17 poster!)

Logo

Logo

And with that, I’d like to remind you that today (5/2/2015) is Free Comic Book Day!  Here’s Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker to those who aren’t in the know) to talk a bit about the day.  (The Star Wars fan in me is so excited to say that I have now had Mark Hamill on my blog, even if it wasn’t shot just for me and multiple people can share it.)

You can find the day’s origin story here. Gold Sponsors for the event (which means there’s a good chance they’ll have a comic or two lying around) are: Viz Media, Archie Comics, Bongo Comics, Boom Comics, DC entertainment, Dark Horse Comics, DE, IDW (publishers of Jem), Image, Marvel, Titan Comics and United Plankton Pictures.

Contact your local comic book shop, library or bookstore to see what they’re doing to celebrate Free Comic Book Day. And don’t forget to unleash your inner cosplayer and go to the events in character!  (If I weren’t busy, I would totally be going as Daria, my cosplay for the season.) To learn more about Free Comic Book Day, visit their website.

Now, back to Jem. Have you read the Jem and the Holograms comic yet?  What did you think of it? And a question for comic book readers, can one subscribe to a comic, like a magazine? Educate me. I would so prefer that to having to hope the comic shop gets it each month. Share your thoughts below.

May 1, 2015. Tags: , . Introductions & Reviews. 3 comments.

Dolly Review: A Girl for All Time- Lydia’s Riding Outfit

Back in February, I had the pleasure of meeting Frances from A Girl for All Time.  Mum’s the word on everything that was spoken about, but I can share this with you– a review of Lydia’s Riding Outfit!  If you recall, I obsessed over this riding outfit during my Lydia review and received a happy surprise when I left New York City with one of my very own.

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

A Girl for All Time fashions are by far the best being produced by companies within the 18″ to 20″ doll realm.  Design wise, they’re super detailed.  The fabric choices used are spot on and have a real quality feel to them.  Lydia’s Riding Outfit is composed of a few different pieces and to get the complete look, you’ll have to purchase two different items.  Lydia’s Riding Outfit consists of a white sleeveless blouse, dark blue coat and light blue skirt.  The shoes and hat are sold apart from the outfit itself in the Riding Boots and Hat accessory pack. I would highly recommend picking these up together. The blue’s in this outfit look amazing with Lydia’s dark eyes and hair and, as far as storytelling goes, this complete look does just that.  This outfit inspires creative, imaginative play for all ages.

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

As usual, the design is superb and the attention to detail is amazing. Decorative plastic buttons are used on the jacket.  They look really nice on the dark blue fabric.

Lydia and her Riding Outfit (cuff detail)

Lydia and her Riding Outfit (cuff detail)

Lydia and her Riding Outfit (Jacket detail)

Lydia and her Riding Outfit (Jacket detail)

Lydia and her Riding Outfit (hat detail)

Lydia and her Riding Outfit (hat detail)

From head to toe, this outfit is perfect.  My favorite element is the collar on the dark blue coat.  If you follow it around, you’ll see it forms a large triangle down her back.  I love it.  Trust me, if I saw this on a clothing rack today, it would be in my shopping cart instantly.

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

The hat is super cute and holds its shape surprisingly well.  It’s one of the things that makes this outfit standout.

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

The heavy, quality fabrics didn’t let me down in the least.  The heavy light blue skirt, while prone to its fair share of wrinkles, fits well.  It has a fun feature you don’t see every day in doll outfits– pockets.  To be honest, I don’t think I’ll be using the pockets much in this outfit, but it is a nice touch.

Lydia and her Riding Outfit (blouse and pockets)

Lydia and her Riding Outfit (blouse and pockets)

Pictures speak a thousand words, so here’s a few more photos to show off this amazing look.

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

While you can’t see them when paired with a long skirt like this, the riding boots are winners, as well.  The ankle length boots are secured with velcro, so it’s easy to put them on/take them off.

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

Lydia and her Riding Outfit

You can see all the outfits A Girl for All Time has on their website.  You can also follow them on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. What do you think of Lydia’s Riding Outfit?  Do you have a favorite A Girl for All Time outfit? Share your thoughts below!

*This outfit was sent to me for a fair and honest review.  All opinions stated here are my own.

April 25, 2015. Tags: , , . Introductions & Reviews. 3 comments.

Dolly Review: Madame Alexander 7″ Travel Friends International Collection (China and Kenya)

Up for review today are two 7″ Travel Friends International Collection. Manufactured by iconic doll company Madame Alexander, these two travel friends are part of a larger line of vinyl travel themed dolls. Representing 9 different countries, Madame Alexander’s Travel Friends celebrate a multicultural world.

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

This doll represents China.  As you can see, she has long rooted black hair styled in braided pig-tails.  Some hair lays outside the pig-tails and is curled. Be careful when you take this doll out of the box.  I accidentally pulled one of the curls the wrong way and made it a little messier than it was meant to be.

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Kenya, also seen here in this review, has silky black, medium length hair. While these don’t come with combs, you can comb their hair.

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Kenya and China share the same vinyl body type.  Both Kenya’s dark brown body and China’s tan body have joints in a few places.  Their heads can turn left and right, but won’t tilt.  They have shoulder and elbow joints, as well as hip and knee joints.

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

While I like that these dolls have joints, they do need some work.  It may just take working them in a bit more, but right now, the joints seem a bit stiff.  It took a while for me to get the gist of posing the elbows, but the more I play with them, the easier it’s getting. I understand wrist joints wouldn’t work for a doll that is aimed at 3 and up, but the photographer in me would love to see them! The hip and knee joints work well and allow the dolls to stand relatively easily.

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Kenya wears a cute, colorful outfit. She wears a bright red t-shirt decorated with giraffes silhouetted by the sun, a skirt with a bold blue and gold pattern, striped pink and yellow leggings and fun red flats.

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

China’s outfit is composed of more muted tones.  She wears a sleeveless dress with a pink bodice and blue skirt.  There’s some blue tulle on the skirt for extra body. She wears baby pink flats.

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

What about their faces, you ask?  I quite like their little faces! The features are placed well and are proportioned just right.  I wouldn’t judge these guys by the faces seen in the promo shots on the website.  The produced dolls look different, better in my opinion!

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Typically, I don’t dig decal faces.  However, that’s not the case with these two dolls. China has fantastic grey eyes, pink lips and light blush. Kenya has two shades of brown in her eyes and a dark red lip.

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Overall, Madame Alexanders 7″ play line has many high points.  The first being the pretty faces and perfect ‘backpack’ friendly size.  I also like that they’re jointed. That being said, the biggest thing they need to work on are the joints, specifically the elbow joints.  They could be more fluid in movement.

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

More 7″ dolls are on the way from Madame Alexander, as displayed at Toy Fair 2015, including a career line and a NASCAR line.  What do you think of the 7″ Madame Alexander Travel Friends International Collection? Who’s your favorite? Share your thoughts below.

*These were received for review. All opinions stated are my own.

April 12, 2015. Tags: , , . Introductions & Reviews. 5 comments.

Toy Review: Sew Cool Sewing Studio

I first got to see the Sew Cool Sewing Studio in action at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair.  I saw it again at Toy Fair. And now?  I have one of my own, sent from Spin Master for review.  Sew Cool is an easy to use, no hassle ‘sewing’ machine.  This do it yourself craft toy is a way to ‘sew’ without messing with needles, thread or that dreaded bobbin. In reality, this machine’s three needles, protected behind plastic, felt the fabric included with this set together. You can’t use any kind of material in this machine.  Spin Master recommends that you use the special fabric included in this set and sold separately.

Sew Cool

Sew Cool

Sew Cool

Sew Cool

This Sew Cool Sewing Studio starter set includes a number of accessories, including: 8 sheets of Sew Cool fabric, three pre-cut projects (cupcake, owl, purse/strap), patterns to create your own projects, 22 embellishments (felt pieces, like bows, and black buttons to attach them) and a small bag of stuffing. This machine takes 4 AA batteries.

Sew Cool

Sew Cool

How does it work?  Really well, actually.  It’s very easy to make simple felted projects.  Turn the machine on, line up your fabric with the seam line under the three safely tucked away needles, press the blue button and the needles begin to furiously move up and down.  From there, just move your fabric through the machine and press the button again to stop the needles.

Sew Cool

Sew Cool

Sew Cool

Sew Cool

The biggest con I can see with the Sew Cool Sewing Studio is that there is no way to change the needles if one were to break or wear out.  If that happens, you need to buy a new machine.  Another slight issue is that you can’t use any fabric in this machine.  Spin Master recommends only using their fabric, while others have had luck with store bought fabric.  In the same respect, you can only felt two layers together with this machine, due to the protective barrier that protects the needles.

Sew Cool

Sew Cool

To see this machine in action, check out the video review/tutorial below.

I think this is a pretty cool do it yourself kit.  The Sew Cool Sewing Studio makes it very easy to create fun, unique, creative and useful things! Do you own a Sew Cool Sewing Studio kit? What do you think of it? Have you made anything cool?  Let me know in the comment area!

 

*This item was sent for review.  All opinions are my own.

April 12, 2015. Tags: , , . Introductions & Reviews, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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