Skipper Highlight Reel: Let’s Drive Student Driver Barbie and Skipper 2-Set

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!

Let's Drive Barbie and Skipper 2 Pack

Let's Drive Barbie and Skipper 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.

Let's Drive Barbie and Skipper 2 Pack

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.

Let's Drive Barbie and Skipper 2 Pack

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.

Let's Drive Barbie and Skipper 2 Pack

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.

Let's Drive Barbie and Skipper 2 Pack

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!

Let's Drive Barbie and Skipper 2 Pack

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.

Let's Drive Accessories

Let’s Drive Accessories

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!

November 24, 2015. Tags: . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Company Spotlight: a Q and A with Christina from MakieLab

UPDATE 10/2016: The Makies brand seems to be dead right now. The site never re-opened and social media hasn’t been updated. As of this update, I am considering Makies out of business. Brands have been known to surprise us before and come out of oblivion, so you never know what will happen. But, for the time being, I would try to find a Makie second hand if you’re looking to add one to your collection. This interview was done a few months before the beginning of the end. Clearly, they had plans, some which were very exciting by the sounds of it, but alas, most of them never saw the light of day.

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.

Makie Me!

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.

Makie Cosplaying as Doctor Whooves

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.

Makies Banner

Makies Banner

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. 🙂

Makies

Makies

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.

November 12, 2015. Tags: . Uncategorized. 11 comments.

Housekeeping

Hi all!

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!

November 6, 2015. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

The Chicago Toy Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds- Our Loot

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:

Madame Alexander Maggie Face Teen

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:

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:

MLP

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.)

Skipper Outfits:

Skipper Outfit

Skipper Outfit Wooly PJ's

Skipper Outfit

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!

November 2, 2015. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

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