I first discovered the 60 cm (23.6 in) “Las Reinas” Paola Reina dolls through a review by The Toybox Philosopher (see link on right sidebar) of the Marta doll in March. It was her description of Marta as an “epic doll,” in addition to some gorgeous photographs of Alma, Mei, and Lidia posted on My Doll Best Friend’s Facebook page that sold me on the line. It was difficult, however, to choose my Las Reinas doll. Lidia’s rose-colored arrival outfit including a delicate open-front sweater (I love doll sweaters!) and wholesome beauty finally settled the question. Lidia has sparkly brown eyes (the same as Marta’s) and rich chestnut hair, and I love her coloring. I may have to buy a sister for her sometime, though, and will definitely consider Mei and Sandra as second choices! I purchased Lidia from My Doll Best Friend in the UK, as the Paola Reina America website wasn’t yet operational. My Doll Best Friend is happy to ship overseas, and although the shipping was expensive for such a large item, it was worth it. Lidia arrived within a week! Unfortunately, a rough transit caused her to somehow pop out of the elastic ties securing her to her packaging, and she arrived crumpled at the bottom of her box. Thank goodness she was undamaged except for a rub-mark on her lovely mouth, probably sustained by vibrating against the front window of her box. Thankfully the texture and shine of her lips hide the flaw, and it really doesn’t show up in photographs. I wasn’t about to send her all the way back across the ocean for something like that!
Since The Toybox Philosopher has done such a thorough review of this brand of doll, I will just add my impressions here, and introduce you to Emily, as I renamed Lidia. This is the first time I’ve ever had a doll of this size in my collection, and it took me a day or two to get used to her height, and especially the size of her head and face. The size of her head is appropriate for her height, but after having American Girl dolls for years it seemed huge, especially with all that voluptuous hair! I also noticed that she had a slightly upward gaze–she simply cannot look down without falling over. Once I got used to this, I began to find it rather appealing, as it makes her seem hopeful and eager to help. Another thing I noticed is that her lovely hair, originally styled in layered waves, immediately lost some of its curl in our dry climate. I’ve had other curly-haired dolls who have not had this problem, but this is my first experience with nylon hair. I’m guessing Emily’s hair relaxation has something to do with the way nylon fiber retains its curl. It still has plenty of body and a soft shape, so I’m satisfied with it.
My favorite things about this magnificent doll are her presence, her beauty, and her fragrance. Her size makes her feel even more like a real companion than my other dolls, and her intelligent, sweet, loving, hopeful expression is both consoling and endearing. Her coloring is exquisite. The vinyl is a lovely rosy shade, less yellow than that of American Girl dolls. Her hair is wonderfully lustrous and thick, though it has taken me a while to get used to the texture of the nylon. Each strand seems to have a microscopically crimped texture, making her hair less shiny that that of my American Girl dolls. I can’t run my hands through her hair like I can that of my other dolls, and it seems to resist the wire brush somewhat as well. I’ve had success brushing it section by section with a large wire brush, but it takes patience, and I can imagine this might prove somewhat difficult for a child. It is securely rooted, and I’ve noticed very little hair loss. The color is just gorgeous: it truly glows in the sun, and seems very lifelike.
As far as I’m concerned, Emily’s vanilla fragrance is one of the best things about her. I was surprised by how powerful it was at first! Having this doll in the room is like having a softly-scented candle burning. It actually smells like a batch of sugar cookies is baking in the oven. I think giving a doll a scent like this is a stroke of brilliance on the part of Paola Reina. This is a doll that satisfies all the senses: not only is she beautiful to look at and pleasant to hold and touch, but she even smells wonderful. It is as if all your senses are telling you that this doll is truly wholesome. If her vanilla perfume makes me want to hug and kiss her, what would it be like for a child? I don’t know yet whether her fragrance will fade over time, but I’ve had her about a month now, and I still notice the scent whenever I have her near me in a room.
I love Emily’s height, size, coloring, poseability, and the quality of her arrival outfit. My only issues with this doll are that she didn’t arrive in undies (and she’s wearing a skirt!), that her chain necklace does not have a clasp and therefore cannot be removed without being cut or broken, and that her vinyl is a bit harder and lighter-feeling than that of my other dolls. Since I associate hard vinyl with cheaper-quality products, this weighs a little against the detail of her face and outfit and reminds me that she is, indeed, intended to be a child’s toy and not a collectible. So far I’m quite happy with her articulation. I especially adore her beautiful hands and how her wrist joints allow them to turn. Her head joint seems just a tad loose to me, as does her left wrist, but these are small issues. Her knee joints do seem prone to buckling when she’s standing with her full weight on them, and I’ve found it a bit difficult to stand her up in a natural position. However, I’m glad she has knee joints, and ankle joints too! It just takes a bit of practice to get used to posing such a large doll.
I also wish that Paola Reina had a larger selection of outfits for this range of dolls! So far there are only a few outfits that I’m aware of, and they’re rather pricey and so far only available in Europe (I haven’t yet seen them listed on the Paola Reina America website). Since this doll is much larger than all my other dolls, I either have to wait for Paola Reina to make a full wardrobe, or learn to make clothes for her myself. Skirts should be easy, but I’m not an experienced dressmaker. Maybe if these dolls gain in popularity we’ll begin to see handmade outfits for them popping up on Etsy. I hope so! This is a girl who deserves clothes as lovely as she is.
And now, I’d like to introduce you to Emily by way of a little photo story:
As the review on The Toybox Philosopher pointed out, the Las Reinas dolls have a way of asserting themselves. Emily is a very loving and gentle person, who is eager to comfort and to help others–but, as I soon learned, she can also be a little obstinate at times! Emily loves flowers, and soon after she arrived, I took her out into the garden. Right away she was struck by the tall grasses left from last season, that I haven’t yet pulled out of my spring garden.
She saw there was plenty of work to be done, but she also noticed the artistry of the dry stalks:
I showed Emily the bird garden near where we feed the wild birds, and she loved seeing the little green leaves of the echinaceas poking up out of the mulch.
Then she saw the barrel of cranesbill, tulips and grape hyacinths.
She was very excited and asked to be helped up to smell the hyacinths.
I told her that the metal chairs, dirty from a winter outdoors, would possibly get her pretty pink tights and shoes dirty, but she insisted.
Well, what can one do? I helped her kneel on the chair so she could see the flowers better. However, she wasn’t satisfied until she could actually smell one of the hyacinth blossoms.
Dolls can be so demanding sometimes! Sure enough, her tights and shoes were smudged by the dirty chair.
Luckily, it was easy enough to remove her tights and dab away the smudges with a solution of laundry detergent and warm water. I used non-acetone nail polish remover to get the smudge off her shoes. The outdoor chairs have been washed now that I know how insistent she can be! Emily adores the garden, and will want to spend a lot of time out in it. I only wish we had more flowers here for her to enjoy.