The Lost Toys- Grails Part 1

Okay, the title is a bit of an over statement.  Many times, readers will comment on my posts talking about the toys and dolls that they missed out on and look back on with fond memories.  To me, those fall under ‘grail items’ (think: search for the holy grail) Grail items are things that you want desperately.  Items that you wish were in your collection.   Many times, they are items that you saw and put off buying, only to find that finding them later is near impossible.

This post will cover a few of my personal grails that made their debut in my life time (aka the past 30 years).  Some are childhood toys that I never received for birthdays or holidays, others are more recent releases that I stubbornly missed out on for one reason or another.

My Pet Monster:

My Pet Monster

My Pet Monster

In 1986, AmToy, an American Greetings company, launched what would become a very sought after plush doll, My Pet Monster.  My Pet Monster, originally marketed as a plush for boys, was 26″ tall and brightly colored.  There were a few version of My Pet Monster made, but my personal favorite was the original furry blue one.  As a 4 year old, this was the perfect plush.  How could anyone not love this huggable, colorful monster that came with chains?  Needless to say, it was on my wishlists.  Of course, it, also, happened to be more expensive than most other toys. (I tried to find the actual original retail price, but couldn’t find it online.)

Last week, I saw a My Pet Monster at my local Savers.  (Savers is a second hand store that is popping up all over the United States, it seems!)  It was priced at a whopping $99.99 in ‘played with’ condition with his chains.  It may be a grail item of mine, but I’m not interested in paying anywhere close to $99 bucks for an out of the box plush that has wear..  That being said, I do hope one day to catch myself a minty fresh My Pet Monster.  Because he’s just so cool!

Sarah Jane’s Sonic Lipstick:

In 2005, my mom borrowed the Series 1 re-launch of Doctor Who starring the amazing Christopher Eccleston as the ninth Doctor.  Prior to that, I had watched some of the Tom Baker era, but not enough to consider myself a fan of the series.  The tighter stories and higher production value of the 2005 series, though, won me over and by the end of episode 13, I was hooked.  In Series 2, ‘new Who’ reunited the tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, with a Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker era companion, Sarah Jane Smith, played by the fantastic Elisabeth Sladen.

Sarah Jane and K-9

Sarah Jane and K-9

Having proven that she was just as popular a companion in 2006 as she was during her original time in the TARDIS, her character was given a spin off show called ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures‘. This show ran for five series, unfortunately cut short due to Elisabeth losing her real life battle with cancer. (I was gutted when I heard the news– it was so shocking!)

Sarah Jane Adventures Sonic Lipstick with Wrist Scanner set

Sarah Jane Adventures Sonic Lipstick with Wrist Scanner set

Throughout the 5 year run, a number of toys were made.  One such toy was the Sonic Lipstick/Wrist Scanner set.  This plastic toy set never made it to the United States, according to a few stores I have spoken with at conventions.  While this set couldn’t have been more than $25 dollars when it was first released, it now is priced well above that, making it hard to find at an affordable and worthwhile price.

Honestly, I don’t care about the Wrist Scanner, what I want is the Sonic Lipstick.  It would be the perfect, pocket friendly, toy to keep in my purse for those moments when I feel the need to sonic something (which would probably happen a lot).

My Little Pony Paradise Estate and Dream Castle:

What little girl growing up in the 80’s wouldn’t have wanted the large pony playsets from the original G1 line in their bedroom?  I was pretty lucky as a kid to receive a good amount of My Little Ponies and even received a few of the smaller playsets.  However, these elusive and expensive sets never made it my way.

To this day, I would love to add these to my collection.  They’re just so much cooler than the playsets we saw with the G2-G4 lines.  As My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Rainbow Dash would say, the G1 sets were and are 20% cooler than what’s on toy shelves today!

Barbie & Skipper Doll Let’s Drive! Student Driver Gift Set:

Some of the most irritating grails are the ones that you saw and that you had the chance to buy, but didn’t.  Back in 2000, Toys R Us released this amazing Barbie and Teen Skipper set, which featured a car and a ton of driving related accessories.  I put off buying this set, because it was a little pricey and I wanted to wait for it to get a bit lower in price.  However, three short years later, Skipper would be put in the vault and this set would disappear from store shelves.

Let's Drive Giftset

Let’s Drive Giftset

I kick myself when I see this for upwards of $100 on websites.  This Teen Skipper is one of the cuter ones.  What I like about this Skipper is that she looks younger than Barbie.  Some Teen Skippers looked very similar to Barbie, especially the bathing suit ones, and that bugged me a bit.  It’s a huge reason why I don’t have many of the later Teen Skipper releases.  This set, however, features a Skipper that definitely looks different from her older sister, Barbie.

So, there you have it.  These are just a few of the dolls and toys that I missed out on as a kid (and adult!) and occasionally obsess over finding!  One day, I do hope to have them all in my collection, but until then, the hunt continues!

Is there a doll or toy that you missed out on and would desperately like to add to your collection?  Did you or do you own any of the items mentioned in my post?  Share your thoughts below!

July 30, 2014. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Dolly Review: Maru and Friends Maru

Earlier this month, I wrote a quick introduction to a 20″ doll line called Maru and Friends, in preparation for a Maru review.  Since then, I’ve played around with Maru quite a bit and I am finally ready to give you guys a full review!

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Her adorable little face was crafted by Dianna Effner.  The Maru and Friends line was a passion project of doll collector Maritza Gutierrez.  Her goal was to make a doll line that would more realistically represent the girls who were playing with them.  For an overview of the line, check out my earlier introduction post.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

American Girl vs Maru and Friends vs A Girl for All Time

American Girl vs Maru and Friends vs A Girl for All Time

Right off the bat, I was surprised by how Maru towered over other dolls within her price bracket.  At 20″ tall, she’s taller than both American Girl and A Girl for All Time.  She’s completely vinyl, which gives her body a nice weight to it. She feels substantial and well made, warranting the price tag of just over $120.00.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru has well working joints, possibly the best joints I’ve seen on a doll of this size.  Her neck tilts in all directions.  It holds its pose well and allows for a lot of movement.  Continuing down, her shoulders and hip are jointed.  They also hold their poses surprisingly well.   Unfortunately, Maru is missing the ever important elbow joint, so she can’t carry items as well as I would like.  Her arms do have a nice curved look to them, though.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru stands like a champ.  Even with her arms in various poses, she balances on her own.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Wigged, Maru has hair that is easy to style.  They even offer styling services through the company, much like American Girl.  In Maru’s case, she has nicely wigged dark brown hair that goes down her back and fringe/bangs.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

The thing I like most about Maru is her adorable, childlike face.  The inset, glass like eyes and ‘real’ eyelashes are two features that really make Maru’s eyes pop. The almond shape of her eyes looks really nice, too.  This doll definitely smiles with her eyes.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Her round face features full cheeks, a cute nose and mauve lips.  Maru has light coloring above her eye lids and light blushing on her cheeks.  Overall, her face is relatively clear of heavy make up.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru comes dressed in an outfit that has 9 pieces total, which is a lot considering what her competition comes with.  Accessories that American Girl would charge extra for, like Maru’s purse and hat, come packaged with Maru from the get go.

Maru and friends

Maru and friends

Her outfit itself includes a three quarter sleeve orange shirt, a striped orange vest, an orange scarf, a brown corduroy skirt, brown tights, white undies and brown boots.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

There’s so many pieces to this outfit, I’m amazed.  The number of separates shows that those behind Maru and Friends tried to put out a doll that was worth the price, which is a very good thing.  How is the quality of the clothing? It’s on par with other companies in the 20″ doll market and fits well.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Now, the one thing that bugs me a little?  I don’t know of any other doll that is similar enough in size to interchange outfits.  My American Girl’s stuffed torso is much wider than this vinyl Maru and A Girl for All Time is much shorter.  A reader messaged me about asking if she might fit Karito Kids clothing, but as I don’t own one of those, I don’t know for sure.  If anything, that might be the closest to this doll in height, but I have a feeling they might be thinner than Maru and Friends due to Karito’s fabric torso.  As others have commented on my introduction post and box opening, it is annoying when a doll is so specific in size that it can’t wear other doll line’s outfits.  I realize they want you to purchase Maru and Friends brand clothing, but still, it would be really, really nice if we could find a doll line that might be in line with this one, outfit wise. EDIT: It looks like Petalina, based in the UK, sells outfits that are Maru friendly!

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru comes with a certificate of authenticity and a picture book.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru is a beautiful doll.  Her face is really captivating with the glossy brown almond eyes.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

I had a ton of fun photographing her for this review!

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

If I could suggest any improvements, they would be these: I would love to have seen elbow joints on her.  I think elbow joints would have opened her up to a lot more pose-ability.  Also, I would work on the website a bit to make sure the finalized dolls are the most prominent graphics.  For example, owner images of Tanya have different hair than the product page and Maru is shown wearing two different outfits on her product page, making it hard to tell what outfit you actually receive when you order.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Is Maru worth the cost?  Totally.  I will always be a fan of American Girl dolls, but they’re falling behind a bit when compared to dolls like A Girl for All Time and Maru and Friends.  For more information on Maru and Friends, check out their website.  You can also find them on Facebook or you can visit them in person if you live in the Florida area.

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends

What do you think of Maru from Maru and Friends? Leave your thoughts below!

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

July 22, 2014. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 29 comments.

My Little Pony Customs- My Favorites

Not only do I collect dolls, but I, also, collect My Little Ponies.  Some of my favorite pieces in my collection are custom ponies I picked up from anime conventions and the internet.  I thought I’d spotlight those customs today!

You’ll notice many of the custom ponies in this post are G1’s.  Why?  Simply put, they’re my favorite generation of My Little Ponies.  I love their size and overall look.  I think they have more personality than the current My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic line, though some of the customs are nice.  (They’re still too small for me, though!)

Many of my customs are from the same artist, because I bought the majority of these at Anime Central a few years back.  So, without further ado, here’s  my small collection of My Little Pony customs.

Fruits Basket- Kyo

Fruits Basket- Kyo

I love my Kyo pony, based on the hot headed character from Fruits Basket.  He was one of my first My Little Pony customs.  He was customized by Marienoire and picked up at ACEN.

Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket

This Fruits Basket pony was gifted to me from a friend who was going through her collection.  There was no way I was going to pass up this cutie.  Her body has zodiac animals painted all over it, to represent the characters in Fruits Basket.  The onigiri represents the main character, Tohru. This custom was made by Marienoire and picked up at ACEN.

Playdate

Playdate

Playdate is a custom pony I picked up off eBay a few years ago.  The artist is unknown, as eBay won’t go back far enough for me to find their name.  I was drawn to this pony because of her fun hair!

Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty

These Hello Kitty custom ponies, again created by Marienoire, were gifts.  Unlike the first few featured here in the post, they’re G3 ponies. They make a cute family, don’t they?

Gargoyles Demona

Gargoyles Demona

Gargoyles is one of my favorite cartoons.  It’s up there with Jem and the Holograms and Avatar: The Last Airbender. (That makes me think– how awesome would an Avatar: The Last Airbender pony collection be?!) This pony is Demona themed and looks super cool.  She was painted by Marienoire and picked up at ACEN.

Katniss

The Hunger Games Katniss

This pony wasn’t created to be Katniss, but when I saw it, I thought it really spoke to the feisty character in The Hunger Games trilogy.  She’s a G3 pony, customized by an unknown artist.  Katniss was purchased on eBay.

Zebra

Zebra

I love this zebra!  She’s so cute.  My favorite part of this custom is the spiky mane.  Purchased at ACEN, this custom was, also, created by Marienoire.

Naruto and Sakura from Naruto

Naruto and Sakura from Naruto

If you’ve seen Naruto, you know who these two cuties are– Naruto and Sakura.  I can hear you asking, what about Sasuke? Sorry, I didn’t like Sasuke as much as these two.  These baby ponies were customized  by AnimeAmy and picked up (again) at ACEN.  One of the neatest elements on these guys are the headbands made of sculpey.  I, also, like that Naruto’s cutie mark is ramen noodles.

Polka Dot

Polka Dot

I couldn’t pass up this adorable custom when I saw it on eBay this past month.  Created by Emerring, this pony is appropriately named Polka Dot.  She’s a G3 pony covered in glow in the dark dots.  Pretty much everything about this pony spoke to me– the colors, the dots.  This was a great buy.

Trigun's Vash

Trigun’s Vash

If I had to choose a favorite custom, it would be this one, Vash, from the Trigun series.  Full disclosure, I’ve never actually watched Trigun, but I have always loved the look of Vash.  This pony, with his spiky hair, glasses and bright red body is as eye catching as the anime character.  Another thing I like about this custom is the use of a sitting pony body. Vash was customized by Marienoire and purchased at ACEN.

Do you have any custom ponies?  Do you have a favorite from my top ten?  Do you have a favorite pony artist?  Share your thoughts below!

July 7, 2014. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 5 comments.

Introducing: Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends made its debut in 2008.  The doll line was the brainchild of  Maritza Gutierrez, a doll collector turned doll designer.  To help bring her vision to life, she enlisted world renowned doll sculptor Dianna Effner to give her dolls a realistic, childlike look. If you’ve been collecting long and have an eye for porcelain dolls, you most likely know that name, as it’s graced the insides of doll magazines for years!  (Her Expressions site has some interesting doll making tutorials you may want to check out!)

At 21″ tall, these dolls are similar in size (about 4″ taller) and price to A Girl for All Time and American Girl.  Maru and Friends are made of vinyl and have jointed shoulders and hips.  Their head tilts in all directions.

The line currently consists of five characters.  The character that brings the line together is Maru, a Latina doll.  When we meet Maru, she is traveling to America from her home country to live with her aunt and uncle.  At school, she meets other girls in similar, but different situations.

Maru and her Friends

Maru and her Friends

Maru’s friends include Tanya, Raven, Jamie and Savannah.  My favorite of her friends is Raven.  Savannah is, also, very cute, with her ginger hair.

Outfits for Maru and Friends

Outfits for Maru and Friends

Outfits for Maru and Friends

Outfits for Maru and Friends

Of course, a doll needs outfits.  Maru and Friends offers a nice variety of clothing for the line.  Outfits include the adorable bathing suit line, collectable outfits (like the Cozy Collection above) and cute ‘fashionista’ fashions (also pictured above).  The sweater set is adorable, isn’t it?  I, also, like the Rock Star look that Tanya is modeling in the pictures above.

Friends Forever Armoire

Friends Forever Armoire

Maru and Friends have some pretty cute furniture pieces, too.  The color scheme isn’t terribly exciting, they’re all stark white, but the sets look like they are well made.

Tea Table

Tea Table

Color would add a lot to these furniture pieces, but I like the look of them.  The bunk bed is my favorite.

Sleepover Fun Bunk Bed

Sleepover Fun Bunk Bed

Maru and Friends dolls are wigged and have hair that is easy to comb and style.  They even offer styling services!  Those in the Florida area can see these dolls in person at Aventura Mall, Town Center at Boca Raton and Coral Gables. Check the website for exact addresses or call the number below.

Maru and Friends Florida Locations

Maru and Friends Florida Locations

It looks like they host a good number of activities and even do tea parties!  If you can’t make the trip to Florida, don’t fear– you can order these dolls online, too.  For more information on Maru and Friends, check out their website or visit their facebook page.

Why am I writing about this company, other than the fact that the dolls look adorable?  Well, I received one for review and wanted to give you a little insight into the doll before posting a full overview of Maru. When she arrived,  I put together a box opening video!  It’s been live on my YouTube channel for a week or so now, but, in case you missed it, here’s your ‘first look’!

A full review is on the way, so stay tuned!  Until then, why not check out the Maru and Friends website and let me know what your favorite doll, outfit or furniture piece is!

*Photo credit: http://www.maruandfriends.com

July 6, 2014. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 5 comments.

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