Gotz dolls

Meet Rosa: A Gotz treasure in disguise

I have a couple of new dolls to introduce to you, before they can take a proper place in our doll-family, and several more on the way! (Oh boy!!! There’s nothing I love doing quite so much as opening up a new doll! And I’ll just hint that the ones on their way are going to be really special!). I’ve been working hard on doing some catch-up reviews, so that I’ll be ready when the newest girls arrive. Today, let’s look at the treasure I found on “BROWN Clearance” sale at Toys R Us a couple of weekends ago!

Gotz FAO Tess Claudia doll in box

A doll-lover’s treasure!

I’ve been researching different brands of play dolls on the internet for the last several months. The door to the world of play dolls has been opened wide to me after years of focusing entirely on American Girl dolls, and I have quite a bit of catch-up collecting to do! 😉 After buying my first Gotz dolls, Happy Kidz Sophie 2012, Emily 2013, and Katie 2013 (all discontinued, and therefore allowing for no delay on my part, besides which two were on sale), I’ve become interested in the beautiful Gotz Hannah line. The Hannah dolls are similar in size and build to the Happy Kidz line, but don’t have articulated elbow and knee joints, and have different face molds. In reading about these dolls on Doll Diaries (an excellent internet doll resource) I found that Gotz made a line of Hannah dolls available in the US a while back through FAO Schwarz. FAO marketed these dolls as their “Classic” doll line, under the names “Tess” (blond), “Claudia” (medium-skinned/latina), “Nina” (african-american), and “Avery” (asian). These dolls, which were nearly identical to the Gotz Hannah’s sold in Europe, were sold through FAO’s own store and through Toys R Us. Last year the dolls were discontinued and Toys R Us was offering them at a discount price of $59.99, which is an amazing deal for a doll of this quality!

Well, I haven’t been in a Toys R Us store in years, but when my husband and I were visiting an urban area recently, we decided to stop in and look around at the toys and dolls that are popular today. My ulterior motive, of course, was to check and see if by any chance, there were any “Tess” dolls left on the shelves. Several weeks ago I actually had a dream about finding these dolls in a store! (I dreamed I found them on sale in an American Girl store, and though this was a bit of a stretch, it still turned out to be prophetic!). So I just had to look and see. When we got to the FAO Schwarz section of the store I was thrilled to see there were several Ninas and Claudias still on the shelves! Not only this, but they were on clearance sale! Of course I had to buy one! I’ve never bought a quality doll in a (forgive me, but it’s my opinion) cheap toy store since becoming a doll collector, so it felt a little weird. But I knew these dolls were special, so I did my best to separate them from the ambiance (if you can call it that) of the box store experience.

It took me quite a while to choose my Claudia doll (I actually didn’t end up caring for the Nina face mold, though I still think she is a wonderful opportunity at this price!). I lined up the three Claudias and carefully compared them. Right away one of them spoke to my heart with her lively expression, but she also had several shine marks on her face and legs, and it looked like she had either been incorrectly packaged or re-packaged in a Tess box. After waffling back and forth, I finally noticed two things that helped me decide: my favorite of the two others had eyes that weren’t straight, and the one with the lively expression and shine-marks actually had superior facial coloring. When I saw she had color at the inner corners of her eyes and the others did not, my decision was made. Clearly she was the superior, and probably older, Claudia. So she came to the register with me, and guess what she cost??? $39 including tax! I was shocked to walk out of a Toys R Us store with a special treasure of a doll for less than $40. I’m still amazed every single time I look at her beautiful face, and every time I pick her up and feel what a special doll she is. The Gotz Hannah dolls sell for about 80 pounds (about $135) in the UK, so you can see what an incredible deal this is.

Even though she’s now discontinued, Claudia is so special that I have to share her with you. If you check the Toys R Us stores in your area, you may still be able to find one–or perhaps one of the other dolls in the line. So here’s a little review of my treasure-in-disguise. I’ve named her Rosa (short for Rosalind), after Santa Rosa, the city where I purchased her, and I’ve decided that she’s Italian. One of the nice things about this doll is that her skin tone is appropriate for several possible nationalities. As you will see, she is an interesting, lively little person with very winning ways!

First of all, some pictures of Rosa in her box:

You can see why my heart went out to her!

The box itself is a bit of a mystery to me: why was she packaged in a box labeled “Tess,” with pictures of the Tess ballerina doll? My husband says the other two Claudias were in boxes marked “Claudia” with pictures of Claudia, but I honestly can’t remember. Were all the dolls in the FAO “Classic” line originally sold as “Tess”? Was this Claudia mis-packaged? Was she returned and put into a wrong box? I may never know.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll in box

Here’s a close-up of her face in the box. You can’t quite see the shine marks or the color at the inner corner of her eyes in this picture.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll box price tag

Marked as a “Tess” doll. Amazing price even before the BROWN Clearance!

FAO Gotz Claudia doll box

Pictures of the Tess doll and outfit on the box.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll box

But that’s a Claudia doll in that picture, which makes it even more confusing.

At first, looking at her in the box, I thought perhaps her eyes were too light for her complexion. But here she is out of the box, and you can see how they come to life!

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

Free!–after how many months or years in that package?

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

Not the best arrival outfit… but it could have been worse.

As you can see, her arrival outfit consists of a short, red plaid pleated skirt, a white tee, a black sweater, white socks, black mary janes, and little red hair bows. She also comes in white undies, which she’s not showing in this picture. Whoever thought that black would be a good color for a doll’s sweater?! Why not white or red? I realize she is dressed in a private school uniform, but even so…. However, I purchased her for herself, not for the outfits.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

This is a doll that truly comes to life out of her box. It is difficult for me to capture in pictures the life-like radiance, sweetness, intelligence, and real-girlness that just exudes from her in person. Her face is so real, it is startling!

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

I’m a real girl!

She has glowing, rich, warm brown fixed eyes, extremely long yet very delicate glued-on lashes, delicately feathered eyebrows, and a very bronzey mouth (which I prefer over pinker, more made-up looking lips). She has faint blushing on her cheeks (more on the left than on the right). The Hannah face mold is purposely asymmetrical, just like our faces are in reality, so that her right and left profiles are just a little bit different. Perhaps this is part of why she is so lifelike.

Her head can be tilted into many positions, adding to her life-like expressiveness. I love how easily her head can be posed!

Up and to the left...


Tilted thoughtfully...

Tilted thoughtfully…

And gazing down....

And gazing down….

She has deep, coffee-colored skin. The great thing about her complexion is that she can be a darkly-tanned or olive-skinned girl of European origin, or be Hispanic or even African-American. Her skin-tone is very warm and life-like. Her vinyl is a bit harder than the vinyl on an American Girl doll, with just a tiny bit of “give” under firm pressure. It seems like it would scratch fairly easily.

Now Rosa would like to show you some of the unique aspects of her build and body-design and her posability. She’s ditched the awful black sweater, and is looking much better, we think!

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

One of the special things about the Gotz Hannah line, is that the right arm and leg of the doll are different than the left arm and leg. This may take a little time to get used to after the symmetry of an American Girl (or similar) doll, but I think it is wonderful, and adds yet another life-like quality to these dolls. As you can see, her right arm has a deeper elbow bend and a different wrist position than the left, and her left knee has a permanent bend:

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

I think the left knee bend is adorable, but I’ve found it does make it more difficult to stand her up, even on smooth surfaces.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

She can wave a little more naturally with her right arm than with her left:

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

She is easy to pose; her joints rotate easily and naturally. She can sit down too:

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

Now she’s going to show you her special little body (though she doesn’t really recommend going for nude walks in the woods!). She’s retained her undies for privacy:

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

You can see she has the healthy-looking body of a growing girl, and is sure to promote good body image in a child. Look at her strong little knees and ankles! I love that she looks like a healthy girl that runs around and gets lots of activity. Also notice the beautiful toes and the arches on her feet. Lovely, aren’t they?

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

Now let’s talk about her hair! At first I was disappointed that she had short hair, because I usually prefer longer hair I can play with–although I’m often too busy to do much hair-styling with my dolls! However, as soon as I took Rosa out of her box and removed her hairnet, I realized her hair is as special as the rest of her. It is an adorable length! It is rich brown, very glossy, and is advertised as being able to be washed. It curves under at the bottom with a lovely little flip, and is nice and thick. Like the Gotz Happy Kidz dolls, it is rooted rather than wigged. It had a little more volume when I took her out of the box, but like my Paola Reina doll, Emily, the nylon fiber seems to have relaxed in this dry climate. Oh well.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

Now Rosa would like to change her outfit into something a bit nicer to finish this review. The FAO outfits (including the one that came on the doll and the one included in the box) are okay, but of an inferior quality than what I’m used to. The skirt is cute, but too short (in my opinion) and the way the elastic was done on the inside of the waistband was very cheap. The tee shirt is fine, but boring, and the sweater is ugly, with large white buttons up the front. The best thing about the outfit she came in are the white socks and black patent-leather-style shoes, which are actually cute! But the bottoms of the shoes are cut from foam, rather than plastic. The soccer outfit she also came with is of similar quality, and is not something Rosa, or any of my other dolls, are ever going to wear. A child interested in soccer might enjoy it, though.

Here’s Rosa in a little ensemble pieced together from items that my Gotz Happy Kidz dolls came in:

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

That’s better!

She kept her own shoes. 🙂 She can fit into the same outfits as the Happy Kidz dolls, but her thicker ankles and legs make the jeans a little bit more snug.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

Aren’t I a special girl?

Here I’ve tried to do some close-ups of her special face so you can see the delicate details and coloring.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

Look at the details of her eyes. You can also see the shine-mark on the bridge of her nose.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

Right profile…

Left profile.

Left profile.

Notice the detailed ears, too.

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

It’s time to go!

And now Rosa is giving a wave goodbye!

You will be seeing a lot of Rosa in my future photo stories and blog posts! This is an exceedingly special doll, and she has made me more excited than ever about the Gotz Hannah doll line. I’d love to have a Hannah sister for Rosa to play with, but it’s awfully hard to choose… they’re all so cute! Maybe Hannah at the Design Studio? Or Hannah Princess? I can’t decide….

Anyway, lots of love from myself and Rosa! ‘Till soon!

FAO Gotz Claudia doll

Photographs taken in my (very needly and weedy) home garden.


Bunnies from Maxine!

Dear readers, look what I got in the mail yesterday!

package from UK

It was from Maxine, the wonderful proprietress of the My Doll Best Friend online doll shop in the United Kingdom. I bought several dolls from her last month, including my first Gotz Happy Kidz dolls. Just a day or so after my final purchase was made, Maxine put a special Easter offer up on her website: a free doll-sized plush bunny with each purchase until the 23rd of April. I was so disappointed that I had just missed the offer! I adore rabbits (I’ve kept rescued rabbits for years), and collect plush ones, and my dolls love bunnies too! My husband sent Maxine an email asking if it was too late to add a bunny to our last order. We got a very kind reply from Maxine that indicated the order was already shipped, but that she was sending a bunny separately in the mail! From the wording of it we weren’t quite sure, and the very idea of her paying for overseas postage just to send a free gift was so very kind that we didn’t like to presume, so we just waited hopefully. Yesterday a squishy pink package arrived! So here’s a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to Maxine from me and all my dolls, especially my new English girls, and a small tribute to excellent customer service:

Gotz Happy Kidz dolls, FAO Claudia doll, Las Reinas Lidia doll

From left to right, that’s Beatrix (Gotz Happy Kidz Sophie 2012), Lucie (Gotz Happy Kidz Emily 2013) and Abigail (Gotz Happy Kidz Katie 2013), with Rosalind (FAO Claudia) and Emily (Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia) looking on.

My girls were very excited, and waited impatiently as I made them hold still so I could snap a picture.

Gotz Happy Kidz dolls, FAO Claudia doll, Las Reinas Lidia doll

What’s inside?

Gotz Happy Kidz dolls, FAO Claudia doll, Las Reinas Lidia doll

It’s a white bunny!

They were all so thrilled, but especially Beatrix, who loves animals (she’s named after Beatrix Potter, after all!).

Gotz Happy Kidz dolls, FAO Claudia doll, Las Reinas Lidia doll

Ohhhhhh….. it’s so cute!

But wait: that’s not all! There’s something else inside!

Gotz Happy Kidz dolls, FAO Claudia doll, Las Reinas Lidia doll

There’s a second one!

This bunny was my favorite color: light fawn, or oatmeal colored. Beatrix just loved this one!

Gotz Happy Kidz dolls, FAO Claudia doll, Las Reinas Lidia doll

It’s love at first sight.

And wait… is that a third peeking out?

Gotz Happy Kidz dolls, FAO Claudia doll, Las Reinas Lidia doll

Three bunnies!

Yes! THREE free bunnies all the way from England! Thank you Maxine!

Folks, this is what excellent customer service is all about. It is this kind of sweet, generous gesture that seals customer loyalty. It may be possible to find lower prices elsewhere, but I am happy to pay a little more for my dolls when I know they are coming from a wonderful shop. Shopping is so much more than just trying to find a “deal.” It’s about buying from the heart.

Gotz Happy Kidz Sophie 2012 doll

Thank you Maxine!

A huge thank you to Maxine at My Doll Best Friend from California! We’ll be back!

The new dolls tea party

It was a lovely workday evening in early spring, and Ali was eager to take a break from chores. She asked the dolls if they would like to have a tea party on the back patio, and they happily agreed. Emily, one of the newest family members, was nominated by group consent as “Queen Mum,” both as a token of respect for her stature as the tallest doll in the family, and as a gentle pun on her identity as a Paola Reina “Las Reinas” (“queens”) doll. The dolls agreed that this party was to be attended by all the newest dolls in the collection, to help Ali get to know them better. The blankets were quickly spread, the tea was brewed, and the dolls arrived.

Dolls tea party

Emily poured out. She had arrived only a few days before, along with Beatrix. The other dolls were at first awed by her beauty and majestic stature and the fact that she came express all the way from the United Kingdom! Their awe was soon transformed to affection when they observed the extreme sweetness and graciousness of her manners. They all felt her English accent was charming.

Las Reinas Lidia doll, Gotz Happy Kidz Sophie doll, Pleasant Company Felicity doll

The conversation was diffuse as the girls sipped their hot tea (white peach!). With gentle poise, Emily offered gingersnaps and graham cookies, and then turned to Caoimhe. “May I refresh your cup?”

Las Reinas Lidia doll, Kidz 'n Cats Rieke doll

Caoimhe had a name everyone could pronounce (KEE-va) but hardly anyone could spell! She had arrived on St. Patrick’s day, so Ali had chosen a true Irish name for her. Heather the JellyCat pup sat patiently between Emily and Caoimhe, hoping for a cookie! When any of the dolls looked her way, her tail began wagging, but she stayed quietly seated.

Beatrix, the other brand new doll, sampled her gingersnap. She had made the trip with Emily from London, and she too spoke with an English accent.

Gotz Happy Kidz Sophie 2012 doll

“These gingersnaps are delicious!”

Beatrix loved gardening, and she was particularly excited to come live in a place so full of nature.

Meanwhile, Georgette tuned to Mary. “May I please pet your lamb?”

Kidz 'n Cats Tinka doll and Anne doll

“Of course!”

Georgette was so excited to touch the lamb’s soft wool, that she accidentally upset her tea cup. She surveyed the mess with distress.

Kidz 'n Cats Anne doll

She blushed. “I’ve spilled my tea!”

“Never mind,” said Emily kindly. “Here’s a napkin. Please pass her cup, Melinda, and I’ll pour her a new one.”

Las Reinas Lidia doll, Gotz Happy Kidz Sophie doll, Kidz 'n Cats Rieke doll

After passing the cup, Melinda turned to Matilda, who was rather quiet and a bit shy.

“Have you heard that two new dolls are on their way?”

A Girl For All Time Matilda doll and Pleasant Company Felicity doll

“Yes, indeed! I heard it from Ali. A Gotz doll and a Schildkroet doll, isn’t that right?”

“Yes! I’m so looking forward to meeting them both.” Melinda had recently retired from a career as a model  for a doll clothes retailer, and so was particularly happy to be living in a family with lots of sisters to visit with. “That’s such a pretty dress, Matilda,” Melinda added. “It suits you so well.”

“Thank you. It is handmade and came all the way from a dressmaker in Singapore!”

Caoimhe suddenly spoke up. “Do you see that tree over there?”

Kidz 'n Cats Rieke doll

“Where?” they all asked together.

“Over there.”

Kidz 'n Cats Rieke doll

“Isn’t it beautiful? I think it’s a plum.”

“I see it,” said Emily. “It is lovely.”

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

“Isn’t April the most beautiful month?” said Mary to Georgette. Mary was not very talkative, but perfectly friendly once you got to know her, and rather thoughtful. Meanwhile her lamb, feeling a little frisky, was trying to reach Mary’s cup of tea.

Kidz 'n Cats Mary doll and Anne doll

Melinda turned to Beatrix. “What a nice bag!”

Pleasant Company Felicity doll and Gotz Happy Kidz Sophie doll

“Thanks! It came with my outfit. It is nice, isn’t it?”

Dusk was coming on and all the dolls knew it was just about time to go in. They finished their tea and cookies and admired the evening light settling on the pines. Heather the pup was resting in Caoimhe’s lap.

Kidz 'n Cats Rieke doll and JellyCat Heather Blossom pup

“Time to clear up!” Emily said at last. “Let’s have another party when the new dolls arrive, shall we?”

“Definitely!” the girls agreed, and set to clearing up the cups and plates.

“There’s nothing quite as lovely as an afternoon tea party in spring,” said Mary to Matilda, who shared her interest in literature. “It reminds me of that beautiful passage in The Secret Garden when Mary and Dickon take Colin into the garden for the first time, and they have tea under the blossoming plum tree. I always love to imagine that scene.”

Emily is a Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll; Beatrix is a Gotz Happy Kidz Sophie 2012 doll; Melinda is a very special original Pleasant Company Felicity doll; Georgette is a Kidz ‘n Cats Anne doll; Mary is a Kidz ‘n Cats Tinka doll; Caoimhe is a Kidz ‘n Cats Rieke doll; Matilda is from the doll line A Girl For All Time; Heather is a JellyCat Heather Blossom pup. Matilda’s dress was made by Swish and Swirl, and purchased on