Dolls of color

Brown is Beautiful: American Girl Doll of the Year 2017 Gabriela McBride

Meet Gabby!

Hello there, Friends! A Doll’s Picnic is back! Today I’d like to share my thoughts about a very beautiful doll of color: American Girl of the Year 2017 Gabriela McBride! There are many wonderful reviews of Gabby already available, including some great Youtube reviews. So instead of a real, in-depth review, I just want to share some pictures and my opinion of this beautiful doll.


First, I want to apologize for the quality of the photos. I took them on a very stormy day when my camera wasn’t cooperating with me, so they’re not as clear and well-lit as I’d like. It’s a little frustrating because Gabriela has such a stunning face and lovely coloring. Hopefully I can get some better outdoor photos in the days ahead and share those with you sometime soon.

Now for the background: It took me a little longer than usual to bring this doll home because lately I’ve been feeling very annoyed with American Girl. The news that modern AG dolls are now being manufactured with permanent, sewn-on undies that are part of the doll body, as well as a gradual overall decrease in the quality of AG dolls at the same time that their prices have steadily been rising, has really disappointed me. Besides this, I am not happy about the way AG handled Gabriela’s collection and debut. Unfortunately these issues have affected my enthusiasm for one of my favorite lines, the American Girl of the Year.

However, I knew I wouldn’t be happy with myself unless I bought the Gabriela doll. As little as I want to support AG right now for their marketing decisions and product changes, I do want to show my support for them at last producing an African American Girl of the Year character. And all my issues with the company aside, I’m glad I bought Gabriela, because she is truly a stunning doll. My photographs simply do not do her justice. It’s not that she’s not photogenic, because she is–she’s just so much more beautiful in real life. Frankly I don’t think most of the stock images of Gabriela in the catalog or online do her justice–but then that’s not anything new.

So beautiful.

The Gabriela doll is a redressed re-release of the American Girl Truly Me #46 doll, who was retired specifically for this purpose last year. I’ve never had #46 before; the curly hair scared me and the Sonali face mold is not my favorite. So I knew Gabriela was going to be new to me, even if she was a major disappointment for many collectors. However, it upsets me that American Girl took the short-cut of pulling one of their modern dolls out of the line-up and redressing her to sell as a Girl of the Year character. Previously every single Girl of the Year has been carefully designed to be unique from her predecessors in some way. The #46 doll is no longer available in the Truly Me line, but Gabriela is identical to the #46s already existing (any slight differences of coloring, hair length, etc., are simply production batch differences). This gave her debut a half-hearted feeling, which comes across as incredibly disrespectful for the first-ever African American Girl of the Year character. When combined with her unorginal collection which merely recycles ideas already used in Marisol’s (2005), Saige’s (2013), and Isabelle’s (2014) stories and collections, it seems clear that AG simply did not care to put a lot of time, money, and effort into the development of this doll.

Furthermore, it seems apparent from the unoriginality of the doll and the skimpiness of her collection, as well as the debut of Tenney Grant only two months later, that Gabriela was not originally intended to be Girl of the Year 2017. It could just be a glaringly obvious marketing strategy that Tenney Grant was given the original story and features and all the big ticket accessories and fancy outfits. Did AG simply not want to put all their eggs in one basket with Gabriela? Or was Tenney originally designed to be the Girl of the Year 2017, and only demoted to “Contemporary Character” status when the customer outcry over the lack of diversity–and specifically the glaring lack of an African American character–became too loud for AG to ignore any longer? Either way, American Girl needs to know that their fan base has noticed. It doesn’t look good.

However, American Girl has finally managed to create an African American Girl of the Year character. Whatever the disappointments and shortcomings involved, I am able to separate the doll from these issues and appreciate her for what she is: a beautiful and enjoyable doll. Gabby’s character is a poet in addition to a dancer and artist, which is a new idea. I love poetry and the arts, so there’s no reason for me to not like her collection. I also have most of Isabelle’s outfits, so I was hoping Gabby might commandeer those in addition to her own (I have ordered one of Gabby’s outfits, which was on back order and has just shipped). There are currently only four outfits in Gabby’s collection, including the one she arrives in, so I do hope they release a few more outfits for her before year’s end. Right now I just have the doll and her Showtime Kit accessory set. I would normally have purchased the regular accessories, but I think Gabby’s accessories are pathetic and over-priced, so I skipped them.

I actually have had two Gabby dolls. The first was ordered online along with another doll. When the order arrived, though, there were two problems. First, Gabby’s lips were painted so crookedly that they were about a quarter of an inch askew. Secondly, I ordered Gabby with pierced ears but the other doll in the order arrived with pierced ears instead. That’s the first time I’ve had two problems like this in one order. Fortunately, we had to make a trip down to the Bay Area anyway, so we were able to go to the San Francisco store and exchange both dolls. That meant I was able to choose my Gabby doll in person! Yay! I looked at every single Gabriela doll in the store (there were probably thirty boxes or so out on display). I found several I liked, but I was a bit disappointed because none of them evoked a special response. The very last doll was tucked in an awkward corner under a display case facing the store windows. I picked her up, looked at her face, and spontaneously cried, “Ooooooh!” I knew she was the one. And here she is:

Gabby, fresh and shiny.

My Gabby has a breath-taking face. I think it’s a combination of her head-tilt and her sweet, peaceful, earnest, kind expression. I wish I could capture it better on film.

Her head was turned slightly to the left originally, which exaggerated her head tilt and sweet expression, but the store employee straightened it in order to pierce her ears.

You can see that my Gabby’s teeth are painted a bit crookedly, but this doesn’t bother me. I wish I had a picture of the first Gabby’s lips–they were painted about a quarter of an inch off her mouth to the right side.

I just love her expression and coloring, which was accentuated by her arrival outfit and the beautiful interior of her box. The Sonali-mold has large, deep eyes which make her seem extra thoughtful and sincere. Her coloring is rich and rosy. She has a serene quality about her.

Hair in the net.

Here’s a picture of her out of the box with her hair net still on. In the sunlight you can appreciate her rich, chocolate brown, and yet golden coloring. You might think that a doll with deep brown skin, dark brown eyes, and dark brown hair is a bit monotonous, but Gabby isn’t at all. Her hair has a golden glow (which my camera doesn’t capture very well) and her skin tone has almost a rosy hue.

Hair loose.

Here she is with her hair loose for the first time. A note about the hair: Gabby’s wig is exactly the same as that of Truly Me/ My AG / Just Like You #26 and #44. It is exactly the same as my brand-new #26 doll that I picked out at the same time: same length, same color, same curl style. Her hair is reasonably thick and short hairs cover the wig cap well.

From the back.

This wig style has evolved over the years and the curls are now much looser than the tight, perfect corkscrews it used to feature. It’s a bit longer and the curls droop lower on the dolls’ shoulders, and to me they look more natural. Honestly, I like this new wig much better than the original. For some reason I am less afraid to mess it up.


Many parents and collectors shy away from dolls with curly hair because they think it has lower play value: that it will be difficult to keep the hair looking nice or that it can be messed up more easily than some other hair styles. It is true that it is impossible to play with this kind of wig and keep it in pristine condition. As I have (gently!) changed Gabby’s outfits her hair has inevitably loosened up and frizzy fly-aways have appeared. But it is totally untrue that you can’t play with this type of hair. It can be put in all kinds of styles, including braids, and all it takes is some water or braid spray and finger curling to neaten it up again after play. It can even be brushed (gasp!), though you won’t want to unless you deliberately want to restyle the entire wig. What many parents and collectors don’t realize is that the hair on this wig wants to return to its original curl formation. I know because I once had a #26 doll whose hair was like-new but extremely dry. I brushed the entire wig out into a fluffy mass. It wasn’t a matted mess, like people will claim; it was actually soft and pretty. Then I used braid spray and my fingers to reform the curls. I was surprised to find the strands of hair jumping back into their original position. There are Youtube videos that will show you how to recurl hair of this kind. It isn’t difficult, but it can be time consuming–and to reiterate, the hair when played with will never look exactly as it did when the doll was new. It is a mistake to let this wig keep you from buying or playing with your doll! Play dolls aren’t meant to be perfect.

So lovely.

I love Gabby’s arrival outfit–except the shoes.

Goofy shoes.

Um… do kids actually wear shoes like this?? Are they supposed to be dance shoes? I would have preferred a pair of Converse-style sneakers or even ballet flats.

But her outfit is gorgeous. I love the layers, I love the cool, jewel-like colors (they’re some of my favorites!), I love the “dream” logo, I love the stretchy fabrics.

Pretty shirts.

I love that either shirt can be used alone. The layers also give her outfit a little more value. According to AG the tee on top is a “sweatshirt,” but it is not made out of traditional sweatshirt material. It’s a nice sturdy fabric, though.

Under tank.

Oddly, the tank underneath doesn’t close with velcro–it has to be pulled off over the doll’s head. Which is fine, except that repeated changes can stretch out the shirt and will definitely mess up Gabby’s curls. I would have preferred the usual closure. It’s so pretty, though.

What a pretty girl.

Gabby looks fabulous in both the rich plum of the upper tee and the serene aquamarine of the tank top.

I do wish they had given her a decent hair accessory, though. The stretchy pink double-ribbon hair band she comes with doesn’t match her gorgeous outfit and is cheap. Come on, AG–this is the Girl of the Year! In some of the pictures here I’ve used the braided silver hairband that comes in her Showtime Kit accessory set to hold her hair back, and this is the kind of thing she should have come with. (And a bracelet! Tenney gets a bracelet–why not Gabby? Argh).

She should have come with this.

Anyway, to the earrings.

Musical notes–for a poet??

Here are the special earrings that Gabriela (and Tenney) get, if you want to have their ears pierced. But the musical theme of the earring set, which is the same set for both dolls, makes it clear it was intended originally for Tenney, not Gabby. I so wish they had seen fit to give Gabby her own special earring set–maybe with a little silver pen for a poet? Or paintbrush for an artist??

Songbirds–for a poet??

The final pair of earrings are small, pale aqua roses, which are beautiful, but also one of Tenney’s motifs. I couldn’t get my camera to take a good picture of them.

Gabby’s artistic box.

I haven’t talked about Gabby’s box yet. It is a new box style and initially I was not happy about this change. The traditional lift-top box has become to me almost a part of the AG doll–it has always been an important part of the doll-buying experience, anyway. It feels precious, it stores well, it’s easy to return the doll to, it’s nostalgic, and there aren’t many dolls on the market with that style of box. That being said, when I saw the new boxes in person I was surprised to find that I disliked them a lot less that I expected. The main thing I noticed is that the new boxes still present the dolls in a beautiful way. The only thing I really don’t like about them is the glaring product warning printed right on the front. Why couldn’t that have been printed on the side? Otherwise the boxes are sturdy, attractive, and well-designed. The dolls are held in securely and I like how the boxes are specially decorated for each character. It doesn’t take significantly more time to take a doll out of the new box style, although the wrist straps seem totally superfluous.

Artsy for an artist!

Anyway, I love the colors on the inside of Gabby’s box. They echo Gabby’s arrival outfit, and I especially love the mosaic motif. I think the interior of Gabby’s box is far more attractive than Tenney’s.

Gabby is such a beautiful, pleasing doll that I was hoping she would prove versatile as far as what kind of clothes she looked good in. I was particularly hoping that she would claim the Isabelle mix-and-match pieces I love, but which my other dolls don’t seem to like. I spread out a bunch of artsy separates on the floor.

Artsy doll clothes.

These are all modern–I wasn’t ready to try any historical styles yet.

More clothes.

Gabby quickly put together a string of outfits, which I’m happy to share with you:

Spiffy Gabby.

I found that she looks best in rich colors.

Sporty Gabby.

She seemed comfortable in a range of looks.

Snuggly Gabby.

Here are the Isabelle ensembles she created:

Creative Gabby.

I can’t get anyone else to wear those funky pants!

Peachy Gabby.

She especially glows in peaches, purples, and lavenders.

Dancy Gabby.

She looks best in more saturated colors, though–some of her choices seemed a bit too pale.

Lilac Gabby.

I found she never really strayed too far from the palette she arrived in.

Mix-and-match Gabby.

Gabby dressed up as Isabelle:

Dance-star Gabby!

But she prefers to be herself, rather than imitating someone else.

Sparkly Gabby.

Finally she settled on a casual pairing of an AGSF store tee and her own stretchy jeggings:

Cute Gabby.

A note about Gabby’s body fabric: Some collectors are up in arms over the change in AG’s body fabric. My Gabby does have the new fabric, which is slightly thinner and more shiny than the previous fabric. However, I want to point out that AG’s body fabric has changed several times over the years, and some of those changes weren’t for the better. From the white muslin of the original dolls, AG went to tan, and then to a horrid orangey-beige sometime during the mid-90’s. In the mid-2000’s they went with a fairly stretchy fabric, and then it changed back to a nice, sturdy muslin again. This latest change doesn’t seem particularly significant to me. I’m much more concerned about the squishy vinyl that’s been showing up in some of the dolls (my Gabby is normal). The perma-panties looming on the horizon, though–that’s a whole different thing.

I’ll leave you with a few more pictures just in case you were still on the fence about Gabriela.

There is a special, intangible quality about her beauty.

She’s not just another pretty AG doll. She has soul.

Thanks for reading! Happy Spring from A Doll’s Picnic!

Happy Earth Day! A Surprise Mystery package from Australia!

A Little Mo Surprise Mystery package from Little Mo and Friends!

A Little Mo Surprise Mystery package from Little Mo and Friends in Western Australia!

Did I mention that Etsy is wonderful?

It is! I turned to Etsy recently to find a new notebook. I’m a bit picky about notebooks: I like blank pages, recycled paper, room to write and stretch out in, a small enough size to fit in a bag, and preferably a soft cover or binding (versus a rigid hardcover-type binding). I’ve used various notebooks over the years, my standby of late being the recycled leather Paperthinks notebooks, but for various reasons it was time for a change. My search brought me to a wonderful Etsy shop that had¬†A Doll’s Picnic written all over it: Little Mo and Friends! Illustration, whimsy, playfullness, imagination, nature, kindness, earth-friendliness… it was all there! Helena Tay, the shop owner and artist, obviously loves drawing as much as I do, but what is even more amazing is that she doesn’t let anything get in the way of her creative spirit. She has even published her own hand-drawn coloring book (she says it took a whole year to ink!)! I truly felt I’d discovered a kindred creative spirit. I love that her stationery line features recycled materials and “clean green printing processes.” This makes it seem especially appropriate to share this sunny burst of creative inspiration for Earth Day. ūüôā

There were so many fun goodies to ponder that it was tough to decide, but in the end, I ordered a notebook, a copy of Helena’s¬†Botania coloring book, and a set of pretty stationery. But¬†I was also delighted and intrigued by the¬†listing for a Little Mo Surprise Mystery Bag. Surprise art goodies in the mail? How could I resist? I added¬†one to my order as a special inspiration present for myself, and waited eagerly for it to arrive. At long last Saturday’s mail brought me a package all the way from Western Australia! Yay! Here’s a peek at what I found inside:

Look at all those wonderful art goodies!

Look at all those wonderful earth-friendly art goodies!

I was so touched and pleased by how beautifully everything was arranged, how carefully it was gift-wrapped and packaged, and how lovingly the surprises were personalized for me (Helena had even asked if there were any favorite colors, animals or other symbols to help make the surprise package special). The value of the contents of the surprise mystery bag were far over the retail cost of the package, and the whole order just showed so much spirit and heart. Thank you so much, Helena!!

My surprise goodies!

My surprise goodies!

Since this is¬†A Doll’s Picnic, though, and since there are two eager artsy girls here begging to take over this post, I’m going to go brew a cup of tea and hand over the keyboard to Umeko Patience and Mei-mei (all right, all right, quit pushing you two, I’m finishing, here you go!)…

American Girl Just Like You doll #4 Maplelea Friend KMF10

Drumroll… introducing Patience (left) and Mei-mei (right)!

P: Hi! I’m Patience!

M: And I’m Mei-mei!

P: We’re here today to share some wonderful art goodies that Ali bought for us from an Etsy shop called Little Mo and Friends!

M: (There’s a link to the shop near¬†the top of this page, and here’s a link to her adorable¬†website as well).

P: Anyway, Ali bought us these great art and stationery goodies so that we can share playful inspiration and the spirit of creativity with all our friends and the whole world!

American Girl Just Like You doll #4 Maplelea Friend KMF10

M: Patience, are you sure Ali bought these for us? Didn’t I hear her say when the package got here, “My surprise is here!” ?

P: Details, Mei-mei, technicalities. Everyone knows that whatever makes its way into the house belongs to us dolls. We have the majority, you know, 30-something to 2.

M: Well, if you say so. What should we share first?

P: Let’s show them the stationery. That’s how Little Mo and Friend’s Etsy shop began, after all, says so on her “About” page.

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll Maplelea Friend KMF10

M: You see here the stationery set that was included in Ali’s–

P: You mean¬†our–

M: *ahem*–Surprise Mystery Bag. There are four sheets of violet-blue stationery and four sheets of lilac stationery, and two each of the matching envelopes.

P: All of these adorable pieces feature a hand-drawn illustration created by Helena Tay which is printed on recycled paper using earth-friendly processes!

M: So you can not only be happy about sending¬†a smile to a friend’s mailbox but feel good about helping the Earth too!

P: Let’s show them the cute envelopes, Mei-mei.

Little Mo and Friends stationary

M: The front of the envelope¬†features the same illustration as the stationery…

P: …And the back includes a special spot for writing the addresses!

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll Maplelea Friend KMF10

M: Patience, do you think the Post Office will be confused by the different format?

P: I think as long as we write clearly, they will be able to figure it out. The stationery set comes with four adorable stickers, too!

Little Mo and Friends stationary

P: You can use these stickers on the envelopes, in your journal, or use them as temporary tattoos!

M: I don’t know if we should recommend them as tattoos, Patience. We haven’t tried them out that way.

P: There’s always a first time!

M: Nooo… I think we should at least wait until we can ask Ali what she thinks. Should we show them the brooch now, Patience?

Little Mo and Friends brooch

M: This stunningly adorable brooch is created by inserting an illustration of Twig, the Little Mo and Friends bluebird, under a glass cabochon and setting it in antique-bronze-finished metal pin.

P: And it looks stunningly adorable on my spring dress!

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll

M: Just make sure you put it back in its little box before Ali sees you, Patience. You know she hasn’t even tried it on herself yet!

P: Yes, well, she bought it for us dolls, remember?

M: Um…. Anyway, I think the glass cabochon makes the illustration really pop! What a great idea for a piece of original artwork! Worn on a blouse, sweater or bag, this is sure to make someone smile.

P: Well, they’re smiling now, right?

M: Maybe we should move on to the coloring book, Patience, before Ali sees you.

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll Maplelea Friend KMF10

The incredible hand-drawn Botania coloring book!

M: Ali loves coloring…

P: We¬†all do… dolls have to do something while their people are away, you know.

M: Yes, well, anyway, she’s never before had a coloring book like this! Can you believe how much time this must have taken to draw Patience? Even you couldn’t possibly have that much patience!

P: That’s what makes it so inspiring! It shows how much Helena loves to draw!

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll Maplelea Friend KMF10

M: Which one is your favorite page?

P: This one! I love the little girl lying on a lily pad, watching the swan! That’s me, I think.

M: But, Patience, Helena doesn’t even know you.

P: Well, it certainly could be me. I look a lot like Little Mo, you know.

M: So do I.

P: You’re missing the point.

M: Um… Is that everything?

P: We haven’t showed them the special post card or conversation cards, remember?

Maplelea KMF10 Friend doll

M: These two adorable “conversation cards” were included in Ali’s–

P: You mean¬†our–

M: —Ali’s surprise package. They feature a hand-drawn illustration printed on a single sheet of cardstock, and include a little envelope, so you can write a cheerful message and send them to your friends!

P: Or you can hang them on your door, glue them in your journal, slip them on your dashboard, give one to the mail lady…

M: I think they get the idea, Patience. Why don’t you show them the postcard.

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll

P: This wonderful postcard shares an illustration of Little Mo climbing up to her fanciful tree house!

M: You can also find this same illustration on one of the Little Mo and Friends notebooks sold in the Etsy shop. Is there anything else we should share?

P: I think that’s enough for now. We don’t have a picture of Ali’s new notebook (yes, I know that was meant for Ali, Mei-mei), and it’s getting late.¬†I’m ready for some tea!

M: Until later, then, Happy Earth Day from¬†A Doll’s Picnic!

Little Mo and Friends brooch


Plum blossoms and Etsy goodness for Mei-mei

Maplelea KMF10 friend doll

Meet Mei-mei (Maplelea Friend KMF10)

Happy Monday from A Doll’s Picnic!¬†I’d like you to meet Mei-mei, my newest Maplelea doll! Mei-mei loves all things spring-time, from the earliest crocuses pushing their way through the snow, to long, late-spring afternoons and ducklings swimming in ponds. She especially loves cherry and plum blossoms, which is what she’s named after (to the best of my knowledge, Mei can mean both “beautiful” and “plum” in Chinese). I hope to officially review Mei-mei sometime later in the spring, because she’s a truly gorgeous and unique doll. But I have several other doll reviews to write first, so meantime I’d like to share one of the spring outfits I found on Etsy recently, purchased with Mei-mei in mind.

Mei-mei has a lovely light latte-colored skin tone which contrasts strongly with her dark eyes and nearly black hair. To me her coloring¬†really comes alive in cool spring tones and strong contrasts. Frustrated with the limitations of my doll family’s wardrobe (mostly modern and historical American Girl gear), and wanting to find something that would suit Mei-mei’s sweet, feminine, springtime spirit, I turned to Etsy. I was especially hoping to find outfits or dresses that featured a plum or cherry blossom print or motif. I was beyond excited when I discovered this adorable ensemble made by Jazzy Doll Duds! Not only does it feature a plum blossom print, it was an affordable price! Maybe it’s because I’ve been looking at American Girl catalogs too long, but Etsy prices are a breath of pure spring air. Yay!

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Simple, feminine, chic.

This ensemble features a tunic-length short-sleeved blouse in crisp cotton, a matching headband, and ivory knit leggings/pants. I added the Maplelea sandals, and Jean, the lovely Jazzy Doll Duds shop owner, added the cute bracelet and necklace as an unexpected surprise (thank you Jean!).

Plum blossom print and gathered waist.

Plum blossom print and gathered low waist.

The print and colors on this blouse are fabulous. I love the pink buds and pale, nearly-white blossoms. The flowers are edged in glittering gold, which sparkles¬†in the sunlight. The rich maroon or damson background looks beautiful on Mei-mei’s winter/spring complexion.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

The gold details match the fun doll jewelry!

I also love the style of the blouse. The gathered elastic low waist forms a soft, feminine silhouette, which is echoed by the gathered neckline and sleeves. The waist can be pulled down lower over the doll’s hips or pushed up a bit to create a¬†blouson look.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Stopping to smell the hyacinths.

The sleeves can also be adjusted into longer or shorter puffs, which is fun:

Short and scrunched up...

Short and scrunched up…

... or slightly straighter.

… or slightly straighter.

The headband is beautiful, and looks lovely holding back Mei-mei’s sleek bob.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

I hear a goldfinch singing….

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

The leggings are not skin-tight like the ones American Girl is making these days, so they are a little more like casual pants. I think they look very elegant with the darker toned tunic (the ivory coordinates with the color of the blossoms).

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Capri-length on a Maplelea doll.

This outfit fits both American Girl and Maplelea dolls (though so far Mei-mei has kept it all to herself). The leggings will look just a tad longer on an American Girl doll, but the stretchy waist of both the blouse and the leggings will work fine on either type of doll (American Girl dolls and Maplelea dolls have similar torso measurements).

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

A classy outfit for a beautiful girl.

Mei-mei is as thrilled as I am with this elegant and classy spring outfit, and says it is just the sort of thing for a spring outing in a park or garden. ūüôā

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Stopping to smell the daffodils, too….

I love how the print is both striking and delicate, with an eastern aesthetic¬†that harmonizes with Mei-mei’s ethnic background.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

I am so excited to have discovered the trove¬†of handmade doll outfits on Etsy! I’m looking forward to¬†sharing more Etsy treasures here on A Doll’s Picnic¬†in the future.

Maplelea Friend KMF10 doll

Mei-mei says to soak up some spring sun!

Have a happy and creative start to your week!

Dresses for Spring: Part 2


Spring is here, and so are the new American Girl spring dresses! My first thought when the latest American Girl Beforever fashions and Limited Edition sets debuted was they’re pretty, but they’re really expensive. However, I knew I would sometime¬†need to have that pink travel coat and hat for my Beforever Samantha doll, Maribel Pollyanna. It was just so¬†her. And though I wasn’t sure about Samantha’s¬†Special Day dress at first, when I saw a close-up review I was hooked (it’s the shoes, folks). And then my new-used eBay Marisol doll, Romola, has been whispering to me for the past three months that she’s really the¬†dressy type (and I have mostly jeans and tee-shirts). And then there were Kit’s overalls–overalls!!! Soooo… when I got wind of American Girl’s spring sale and free-ship deal last month, it was pretty clear to me that now was the time. And the great thing is that with the sale and free shipping the cost of each set was much closer to¬†what I consider “reasonable” for an American Girl doll outfit. I even got Kit’s Chicken Keeping Set, which was on backorder and hasn’t arrived yet. (I just got news this week that it’s on its way too. Yay!).

As soon as I saw that review of Samantha’s Special Day dress I knew I was getting it for my adorable eBay love, Umeko Patience. And I was not deceived. It looks incredible on her.

My pictures don't do it justice, however.

My pictures don’t do either it or her justice, however.

The soft, cool minty aqua green with the pink flower sprig print is just right for her winter/early-spring complexion.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

Tell me that’s not a pretty doll.

The femininity of the delicate lace, bell sleeves, and pin-tucking is just right for her mixture of sweetness and piquancy.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

It’s hard to get those pin-tucks to lay just right though, especially if you pull¬†the front up¬†into a slight¬†blouson look.

The pink ribbon sash and hair decoration are crisp and showy enough to satisfy the romantic in me.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

Gorgeously pretty details.

There’s even a big pink bow that ties in back:

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

And both Patience and I¬†adore the shoes. They’re not just shiny faux-patent mary janes. They’re not even just red or pink faux-patent mary janes. They’re¬†dusty rose faux-patent mary janes with¬†bow details, and they will look amazing with many dresses, and we’re in love.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4

A+ American Girl!

I don’t know if you can tell, but I am in love with this outfit. In fact, this may be my favorite doll dress to date,¬†ever. Some dresses look just okay in stock photos but come to life in person, and this is one of them.

Showing off.

Showing off.

Romola Mariana is just as thrilled with her new spring dress, the Shimmer & Lace Party Dress. One great thing about having a variety of dolls is they don’t all have to be just like me. I don’t usually perk up about cute modern lacy party dresses, but Romola sure did, and now I’m glad!

American Girl Marisol doll


This is the kind of dress that will look pretty on almost every doll. First of all, peach is a sort of universally flattering color. Then it’s just so frothy and feminine.

American Girl Marisol doll

This dress features a stretchy mesh yoke around the neck and shoulder area, while the bodice is lined with peach colored knit. The skirt has an asymmetrical waistline, which I’m not usually crazy about but for some reason am finding very tasteful here.

American Girl Marisol doll

The skirt is two layers; the top is embroidered lacy mesh overlay, and the underneath is the stretchy peach knit fabric hemmed with a mesh ruffle.

American Girl Marisol doll

I actually love the pretty little flower decoration on the waistline. And I’ll admit it, I like the large sequins sewn into the lace overlay fabric, as well. When I saw the stock photos I wasn’t sure I’d like the lace wholeheartedly… it seemed like it might be a bit¬†busy. But I do like it; it’s very frilly, but for me, it stays just on this side of tasteful.

American Girl Marisol doll

Need I say more?

The sandals are another case of American Girl shoe perfection. These may well be my favorite pair of sandals ever, too.

American Girl Marisol doll

This outfit also includes a very small rhinestone barrette for Romola’s luxuriant hair. It’s too small to do much practical good, but it’s very pretty, if you like that sort of thing (Romola does).

Just because she can.

Just because she can.

All in all, Romola feels like a princess in this dress and looks like a bowl of whipped cream, which makes both of us happy. ūüôā

My girls are usually pretty happy to assert their independence from their American Girl character prototypes, but occasionally they stick a bit closer to the script. Maribel Pollyanna feels¬†a lot like Samantha to me, and so far she’s been happy to stay with Samantha’s Beforever wardrobe. I was very excited about the elegant pink travel coat, and¬†she was excited about Samantha’s Flower Picking Set. Turns out it’s another one of those dresses that improves upon acquaintance (and the fabric tulips in the basket are pretty cute, too).

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Some things are just meant to be.

First things first. This. Coat. Is. Adorable.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

I love all those seams!

I love the cut, the collar, the construction, the color… I only wish those buttons were fabric, rather than plastic (ugh).

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Look at that beautiful construction.

And the hat was a pleasant surprise. My dolls don’t usually stay in their hats long, but this one is going to be often worn.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Did anyone say Easter Parade?

It’s just so… yes! Well done, American Girl. The hat is bendy, too, not brittle, so I don’t have to be afraid of crushing it (and you can also play around a bit with the shape of the brim).

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

This girl is ready to go!

As pretty as Maribel looks in her coat and hat, I think she might look even sweeter in just the dress.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Betsy Ray, watch out!

The high modest neckline and three-quarter sleeves suit her, the lace is gorgeous, and the print is simple and sweet.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

The V waistline is very attractive, and it’s cut from a berry-colored satin, which matches the pretty decorative bow.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Which in turn matches the hairbow. Wish they’d let me tie it on her hair myself, instead of sticking it to a scrunchy, though….

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

So pretty on her glossy waves.

The only thing I’m not thoroughly thrilled about, is the boots. They’re alright, I guess, but I wish they’d kept the real buttons from¬†Samantha’s¬†pre-retirement two-tone boots. I’m tired of Velcro on boots. I even prefer Rebecca’s and Marie-Grace’s/Cecile’s boots to this design.

American Girl Beforever Samantha doll

Fake buttons. Oh well.

My girls are so pleased with these dresses… and when Maribel, Patience and Romola decide to share, their sisters will be eager to try them on too! Well done, American Girl! Spring is off to a good start. ūüôā

American Girl dolls in spring fashions

Happy Spring! Happy Easter! Happy April!

Happy Spring (and Easter!) from¬†A Doll’s Picnic!



Discovering spring flowers

Doll and flowers, the perfect combination.

A doll among the daffodils.

While the eastern half of the United States has been having a long, cold, snowy winter of it, here in the mountains of Northern California it seems almost unfair to be having dry, unnaturally mild weather and a very early spring. It is over 75 degrees outside at the moment! The sun is shining, and we’ve had a March that is more like April or even May. Though I’d rather be getting rain and snow like the rest of the country, I don’t believe in¬†complaining about the weather. A¬†drought¬†does make¬†for ample¬†doll photography opportunities, as well as inviting early spring tea parties out of doors. My girls have been taking advantage of the mild spring¬†to explore our yard and discover early spring flowers.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4  with daffodil

A doll and a flower, the perfect combination!

One of my new dolls that I am most excited about is Umeko Patience, an American Girl Just Like You #4 doll that I rescued from eBay and restored. The #4 doll has a unique face sculpt that American Girl¬†never used for another doll-character. Unfortunately she has been retired for a couple years, and is difficult to find second hand… you might say it takes patience!¬†Umeko Patience has become a very dear doll-friend, and because she is a very springy sort of person, it was most natural to take her outside to see the daffodils. She says yellow is her favorite color!

She looks excellent in Kit's springy colors, too!

She looks excellent in Kit’s springy colors, too!

In the high desert, every flower is a treasure. I often find myself marveling over the miracle of a forsythia bush or a plum tree in blossom which people who live in a milder region might pass without remark. Patience loves the little forsythia we planted in our yard, and visited it when the flowers were first opening:

Yes, almost everything in our yard has a deer cage around it.

Yes, almost everything in our yard has a deer cage around it.

Have you ever looked at a small blossom up close? Patience has.

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll with forsythia

She checked back later in the week, too, when the flowers were more full:

Purple and yellow complement each other so beautifully!

Purple and yellow complement each other so beautifully!

Umeko is a¬†Japanese name meaning¬†“plum blossom child.” We don’t have a plum in our yard, but we do have a lovely little nanking cherry bush, which Patience was charmed by.

American Girl Just Like You doll #4  with cherry

Umeko Patience and flowers just go together!

Julia, my Carpatina doll, was also delighted by the delicate perfection of the cherry blossoms.

Carpatina Julia doll with cherry

This was a grey sky day, rare for us.

They formed a natural background for a portrait of this lovely girl:

Carpatina Julia doll portrait

Her delicate dress, also from Carpatina, suits the flowers.

Julia has such a sweet, compassionate, thoughtful face that I love taking pictures of her. She brings a beautiful diversity to my doll family.

Carpatina Julia doll with forsythia

What is she dreaming about?

Another new doll who is incredibly photogenic is Verity, my A Girl For All Time Lydia doll.

A Girl For All Time Lydia doll with daffodil

Verity showing just how poised and elegant a doll can be.

Her delicate features, winter coloring, and earnest expression make her a natural in front of the camera. She, too, was delighted by the daffodils.

A Girl For All Time Lydia doll with daffodil

How fun it would be to be sixteen inches tall, and see flowers as big as your head!

She loved the sweet fragrance.

A Girl For All Time Lydia doll with daffodil

Two beauties.

And speaking of sweet fragrances, our tiny hyacinths were a magnet for Verity. She particularly loved the white hyacinth.

A Girl For All Time Lydia doll with hyacinth

It matches her riding ensemble!

The pure white flowers captivated her, and she captivated me.



And just because she’s lovely, here’s a picture of Verity with the forsythia:

A Girl For All Time Lydia doll

Such an intelligent, earnest face.

A couple weekends ago, Umeko Patience and Violette took a drive up north with us to a college town to see the spring flowers there. It turned out to be one of our rare rainy days, so I didn’t get as many photographs as I had planned, but here it is wise to never complain about the rain! Before the clouds¬†had quite dropped down, Patience discovered this cluster of daffodils:

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll with daffodils

And that’s American Girl of the Year Grace’s adorable travel coat, by the way, looking smashing on Patience.

I simply can’t get over how sprightly and charming this adorable doll is!

American Girl Just Like You #4 doll with daffodils

Maybe it’s because I restored her myself, but she is just brimming with personality!

But speaking of charming, Violette asked to climb a tree covered with catkins.

She's a good tree climber!

She’s a good tree climber!

She also found her namesake in the botanical gardens.

Schildkroet blond doll with violets

Violette’s favorite flower… and one of mine, too!

By then it was really beginning to rain, so I had to put the dolls away.

Dolls and spring flowers are two things that make my heart smile with gratitude. How about you?

Brown is Beautiful: The Wonderful Faces of Addy

American Girl dolls with Addy face mold

One of my favorite American Girl face sculpts of all time.

Happy 2015! It’s a new season, a new month, and a new year. Weeks have passed since my last post, bringing the solstice, the lovely simplicity of winter and the fleeting¬†sparkle of the holidays. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, since a new year begins every moment (it’s now been a year since this moment last year, right?), but I do love the idea of starting fresh, and I do set goals for myself as a way to organize and channel the creative process. One of my goals is to post here on A Doll’s Picnic¬†much more frequently. I have lots of dolls to share with you via overdue reviews, and the dolls themselves are clamoring for me to step out of the way and let¬†them tell their own stories sometimes. I’ll do my best to let 2015 be a year of writing, sharing, and creativity–and dolls of course (but that goes without saying)!

To start things off, welcome to a new feature called¬†Brown is Beautiful. In this series of posts I plan to showcase and celebrate the lovely dolls of color in my collection–as well as the occasional Caucasian doll with brown eyes. The point? To help spread the word that dolls with brown eyes, brown (or black) hair, and/or brown skin are just as desirable, just as lovable, and just as interesting as their lighter counterparts. American Girl dolls are my first love, after all, and the need for diversity and representation in the American Girl line of products is well established. The debut of the fourth¬†Caucasian girl (with light eyes!) in a row in the American Girl of the Year line has brought the simmering discontent among many fans to a boiling point and sparked a new social media campaign. You can read about the motivation and manifesto of the #AGDoCGoTY social media protest movement at Nethilia’s blog, American Girl Outsider, here. While I don’t use social media (encroaches too much on my creative time), I’d like to support the cause by doing a better job here at A Doll’s Picnic in a couple of ways: 1) make sure my own collection is diverse, and 2) make sure I share dolls of color¬†at least as often as I do Caucasian dolls.

A little background about myself and my collection is called for here: My impetuous and changeable method of collecting–varying with¬†my latest interest or whim–means my doll collection is always evolving. From the very beginning of my collecting I’ve only been interested in actually keeping girls (as I call them) in my collection with whom I feel a strong bond, because I love simplicity and can’t bear to have dolls sitting around neglected when they ought to be getting love. Thus it is that many dolls, including most of the named American Girl character dolls, have passed through my collection, been appreciated and enjoyed for a time, and then passed on to new homes (including charitable causes, homes with family members, and more recently eBay). These have included several dolls of color like Addy–whom I’ve actually had in my collection 3 times–Cecile, Josefina–owned her twice–Kaya, Sonali, Kanani, #26, #28, #4 and #30, a Jess look-a-like. I mention this because looking at my doll bios¬†a casual observer might not realize what a big fan I am of the dolls of non-Caucasion backgrounds that AG has offered. Josefina and Addy were my first two 18 inch dolls as an adult because I remembered how much I had admired them when they debuted in the original Pleasant Company catalogs. Since I change the names and stories of all my dolls when I get them, the question of permanently bonding¬†with a doll or not has little¬†to do with that doll’s ethnicity, but much more with how my imagination interprets her character. My doll collecting seems to be a process of getting closer and closer to who I really am and what I really like, which of course is always changing. I am glad to be able to say that some of my current favorite dolls–including #1, #45, #2, and Marisol–are dolls of color, and that my collection now includes a much larger percentage of dolls of color than it did at this time last year. (I also have several dolls of color on my wishlist, including #15 and #58). I can’t wait to share these beautiful girls with you!

And now, for our first Brown is Beautiful focus: the wonderful, adorable, and unique Addy face sculpt!

American Girl Addy doll portrait 1

Glorious Addy.

Addy Walker was introduced by Pleasant Company in 1993, and featured the first–and for 15 years the only–African American face sculpt in the American Girl line of dolls. She was the fifth historical character in the American Girl line. I would have loved having this doll as a child. I remember how excited I was when she came out: pouring over the catalog pictures with my sister, minutely admiring all her tiny perfect accessories and gorgeous outfits, and rendered practically speechless by her luxuriously long hair. At that time, hair was the most important feature for me in a doll, and I remember being awestruck by the catalog pictures which showed Addy’s tresses reaching past her knees (very realistic for her time period).

Addy was my second 18 inch doll as an adult, and I just adored her soft, round face and poofy hair. I always found her hair incredibly forgiving and easy to style–often needing nothing more than finger-combing to keep it looking its best. My first Addy had a penchant for¬†dressing up in Victorian-esque fashions pinched from Samantha’s collection, and I loved how I could make her hair up into lady-like buns and up-dos. Although I gave my first Addy away to a sister when I felt she was falling behind a bit in my collection, I kept my interest in her, and after a few years I missed her enough to purchase Addy¬†a second time. This second girl enjoyed staying in mid-1800’s fashions. After about a year my second Addy found a home with my other sister. She¬†was followed by Melanie, a #26 doll. I loved Melanie’s medium-toned skin and gorgeous light-brown eyes, which reflected so much light that they almost looked real. And though Melanie eventually found a new home via eBay (I wasn’t crazy about her hair), I still kept my affection for the Addy face sculpt. Last fall I found my third Addy doll on eBay. She’s a 1997 Pleasant Company Addy, and very sweet. I’ve restrung her, but haven’t yet had the nerve to take her hair out of its original braid.

On Thanksgiving evening 2013, zooting around on eBay while hubby was preparing our vegan feast, I found a #1 doll in new condition being sold for an outrageously reasonable price. It took me about two minutes to look her up on AGPlaythings, find out she was retired (why, oh why?), fall in love, and buy her. Introducing Amy Gratitude Octavine Taylor, named after Thanksgiving and one of my great-grandmothers, with initials that spell out AGOT (or American Girl of Today, my favorite AG line):

American Girl of Today just like you #1

I love this doll. Oh, how I love this doll.

Amy is very much a modern Addy–in fact, she loves to say of herself that she’s what Addy Walker would be if Addy were transported into the 21st century.

American Girl Addy Walker just like you #1 doll

Addy meets herself 150 years in the future.

Her hair is identical in color and texture to Addy’s, and the style only differs in the following points: 1) Amy has no part, while Addy has a center part, and 2) Amy’s hair has a unique wig with two sections of hair at slightly different lengths. These sections are the front or top area and the back area. This wig style has received complaints from some collectors, but I think it is awesome! I love how easy it is to gather her hair into a half-pony or half-pony-braid. I love how poofy it is on top. In fact, I think Amy is wonderful in every single way and I wouldn’t change her one bit. The only thing ornery about my Amy is that she¬†will not under any circumstances be historical. I once dressed her in Cecile’s adorable yellow summer dress outfit (one of my favorite historical ensembles). Amy looked perfect, but she gazed at me with a frozen smile that clearly said: If you do not remove this ridiculous outfit¬†this instant I will happily kill you. I took it off. Amy is a modern girl, won’t be anything but. After all, her initials, as I’m happy to remind you, do spell out A…G…O….T. Let that be understood.

My Amy and Addy dolls have different skin tones, which I’d like to share with you here. Variations in lighting and my camera’s limits make it¬†hard to see in pictures, but I’ll do my best:

American Girl Addy Walker Just like you #1 doll

My Addy has a lovely, rosy deep-brown skin tone, while Amy’s is a little yellower and perhaps not quite as dark. Some people might say Amy’s tone is a little grayer.

American Girl Addy Walker Just like you #1 doll

My Amy is a wonderful person: funny, strong, thoughtful, sensitive, bold, courageous, independent, authentic. She hates wearing anything too trendy; in fact, she simply¬†won’t wear anything that doesn’t express her care-free, independent attitude. She is a civil-and-women’s-rights activist. She is a writer. And she’s not afraid to speak her mind, while still being very tolerant and open towards everyone, provided they don’t oppress her or anyone else. (By the way, she’s best friends with my Isabelle doll, Ashleigh–their choice, not mine. Amy’s the writer and Ashleigh’s the artist, and although they’re totally different they just seem to get along great!).

Last fall I found my third Addy face-sculpt dearie (well, fourth really, counting Melanie), also on eBay. Introducing the incredible, gorgeous Rebecca Grania:

American Girl just like you #45 doll

Oh. My. Goodness. Best. Doll. Ever.

Grania is one of those extra-special dolls I was always meant to have. I could tell this the moment Amy and I opened her box.

American Girl just like you #45 doll #1

Hiya, sis! It’s love!

She is Just Like You/My American Girl #45. She was apparently only available for two brief years between 2009 and 2011 before she was retired. I was so disappointed when I discovered she had been retired (serves me right for not buying her when I could), and so thrilled when I found her new on eBay. I. Adore. This. Doll. Why? Because she’s perfect, period.¬†Seriously, I love everything about #45. I adore her hair. It is lighter brown than both Addy’s and Amy’s, but still a rich, dark brown. It has a straightened-but-still-textured feeling, which I love. It just feels great to my fingers. It is shiny and glossy. It is thick. It has short hairs generously planted over the wig cap. It is layered. It looks great in every single style. And it has a fringe! Look at all that beautiful BROWN!

Loose and easy-breezy.

Loose and easy-breezy.

Ballet-style bun (thanks to Isabelle's hairstyling accessories).

Ballet-style bun (thanks to Isabelle’s hairstyling accessories).

Twin french braids.

Twin french braids. Her hair isn’t really this dark–this picture was taken in the shade.

Grania is much more girly than independent Amy. She loves artsy, feminine outfits, and unlike Amy, Grania is happy to dress in historical outfits, looking wonderful in practically everything I’ve put on her (including Rebecca’s BeForever Meet outfit, Samantha’s Play Dress, and an Anne of Green Gables outfit I bought on Etsy). She promptly clued me in to the fact that she–not Isabelle–is the dancer.

American Girl just like you #45 doll

I think she looks amazing¬†in Isabelle’s mix-and-match ensembles.

American Girl just like you #45 doll

The bright colors just pop against her rich brown skin.

American Girl just like you #45 doll

So much so that she easily convinced me that this is the Isabelle doll AG¬†should have produced, but didn’t.

American Girl just like you #45 doll

Oh man, I love that hair.

Here’s Grania with her sisters Addy and Amy:

American Girl Addy just like you #45 #1 doll

A beautiful bouquet of brown.

Besides the difference in their wigs, Grania’s skin tone is also a bit different. She is a touch lighter than both Addy and Amy and has a beautiful golden glow. Her lips and cheeks are also just a bit rosier. As far as eye color goes, I think they’re all the same, but sometimes it seems to me that Amy’s eyes are darker. It’s difficult for me to visually isolate the exact color of the brown eyes from the overall complexion, so set me right about this if I’m wrong.

Amy and Grania.

Amy’s eyes appear darker.

American Girl Addy just like you #45 doll

Here Addy’s eyes look darker. Maybe Addy’s and Amy’s are the same and Grania’s are lighter?

And finally the last member of my Addy face-sculpt quartet: Elodie Rain!

American Girl just like you #11 doll

Rain is a Just Like You #11 doll. Like #45¬†and #1, she is now retired from American Girl’s modern line, and like them¬†this is a terrible shame. It is particularly unfortunate in the case of #11 as she is arguably one of the most ethnically diverse and interesting dolls AG has ever created. With her medium brown skin tone, dark brown eyes and truly¬†black (not black-brown, but really black) hair, Rain can represent a wide variety of ethnicities, including but not limited to: Native American, Native American/black mixed-ancestry, Native Canadian or Alaskan, Native Australian, Filipino, and South Sea Islander. My interest in #11 came about through my sister, who always thought of her as Maori (Native New Zealander). Like her sisters Amy and Grania, I found Rain new on eBay. I haven’t yet developed a strong sense of her character, but she seems quieter and calmer than her Addy face-sculpt sisters. I also like to think she’s a rain charm, because immediately after she arrived it rained in Northern California for the first time in months (and yes, I had already named her Rain).

Elodie Rain

Elodie Rain

Rain is the second of my Addy face-sculpt dolls (after Melanie, the #26 I didn’t keep) to have medium-brown skin instead of dark-brown skin. My favorite feature is her jet black, super-glossy hair. From what I can tell, she has the same exact wig as #4, which was really exciting to me, as these two dolls are the only ones I know of in the whole of American Girl’s history to have truly black hair–that is, hair that doesn’t have any brown highlights in full sun. It has almost a blue cast to it in direct light. It is a very thick wig, but has been criticized by collectors because it lacks the¬†short hairs to cover the wig cap when her hair is parted into pig tails or twin braids. It isn’t a perfect wig, but the color and ultra-sleek texture as well as the flip at the ends make up for this shortcoming as far as I’m concerned. Here you can see the variations¬†in color and texture between the wigs of my four Addy face-sculpt dolls:

Addy face sculpt mold doll wigs

Top: Rain, #11. Bottom: Grania, #45. Left: Amy, #1. Right: Addy.

And again, here:

American Girl just like you #11 #1 #45 Addy doll

Top left, Addy, top right, #45. Bottom left, #1, bottom right #11.


Conclusion? The Addy face-sculpt is one of my very very favorite American Girl faces ever. I believe it has been used a total of nine times–once in the historical line for Addy herself, and eight times in the Girl of Today/Just Like You/My American Girl line–exclusively for dolls of color. It is cheery, intelligent, sweet, round and loveable. And it is very VERY much needed in the American Girl of the Year line. With such wonderful possibilities, how can American Girl resist?

American Girl just like you #45 #11 doll

American Girl just like you #1 #45 doll

Here’s to a year of doll of color love! Until next time, celebrate the beauty of brown!

Only Hearts Club dolls forever!

Only Hearts Club dolls 3

The best in nine inch play dolls.

So far in our doll reviews¬†A Doll’s Picnic¬† has shared only¬†large play dolls. I have very few dolls in my collection shorter than 18 inches. Gaby, my red-headed Schildkroet doll, is about 17.5 inches tall; Matilda, my A Girl For All Time doll, is 16 inches tall; and Kisa Violetta, my Vestida de Azul doll, is the most diminutive at 13.5. As an adult, I definitely prefer large, huggable dolls to their smaller, fashion-doll counterparts. However, the very first doll I “collected” as an adult was a nine-inch fashion doll from a (then) brand-new company just becoming popular: the Only Hearts Club. These adorable dolls caught my¬†eye one day when my husband and I were strolling through a toy store. I loved them right away because they looked so friendly, cute, realistic, wholesome and pretty–like real miniature girls, not pumped-up fashion models. My instinctive measure of a doll’s wonderfulness is how much I would have loved her when I was a child. The Only Hearts Club dolls had all the qualities I longed for when I was little, especially a soft, satisfying poseability that would have delighted my childhood self. That Christmas my wonderful husband gave me my first Only Hearts Club doll, the blond dancer Karina Grace; and I, in turn, gave the red-headed Lily Rose to my sister, knowing she would love these special dolls as much as me. Karina Grace soon had a little masonite house built for her by my husband, and she appropriated the few Barbie-sized accessories I saved from childhood, including a wicker settee and chair, and a gorgeous doll bed made by my mom and dad. Eventually Karina (I named her Annabelle) got a sister, too; I bought the chestnut-haired Olivia Hope, who became my favorite of the two. A couple of wonderful poseable horses, an exquisite white unicorn (my treasure!), several adorable dogs, and a modest wardrobe followed. When I began collecting 18 inch American Girl dolls, however, my interest in the Only Hearts Club line faded into the background, and for the last several years they’ve been hanging out in their hand-made doll house with their pups, doing what dolls do best: patiently waiting.

Then–I’m not sure what the trigger was–a couple of months ago my interest suddenly revived and I started poking around on the internet to see what had happened to this delightful company. I was dismayed to discover that purchases are no longer possible through their online webstore, and that the Only Hearts Club range of products is apparently no longer in current production. That did it. I was determined to finish my collection and write a review that would do justice to a unique and brilliant line of play dolls that should NOT disappear.¬†I immediately set out to find where these dolls can still be found. I was somewhat relieved to discover that they are still (for now) readily available for reasonable (often ridiculously low) prices on Amazon, eBay, and the occasional on-line toy shop. The only exception is the Asian doll Hannah Faith, who, unfortunately, is very difficult to find for a good price. After some scrounging around, I bought Brianna Joy for $13.99¬†and Lily Rose for $11.72 on Amazon, and was fortunate enough to find Kayla Rae on sale for $8.95 at the Toy Hunt. Getting these three dolls in the mail was so fun and completely revived my love for the Only Hearts Club! I’d like to eventually find Anna Sophia, Taylor Angelique, and Hannah Faith, to complete my collection.

Today I’m going to share the beautiful Kayla Rae and compare her to her older sister, Brianna Joy. Brianna Joy is the African American doll from¬†the original group of six dolls that began the Only Hearts Club line.

Only Hearts Club pamphlet 2

When we were young.

She has a medium brown skin tone and lovely curly light-brown hair. I always thought she had a very sweet expression. Kayla Rae was introduced several years later along with Hannah Faith, to fill out the line and increase its ethnic diversity. She is also African American, with much darker brown skin and glossy black hair.

Only Hearts Club dolls 1

Now we are eight.

I remember how excited I was when these two girls debuted and how¬†I wanted to collect them both–and now, given Hannah Faith’s high prices, I wish I had.¬†Here’s Kayla Rae in her box:

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 1

This is the first time I’ve gotten a close look at these later boxes. They’re a bit brighter and pinker than the original yellow and orange Premier Edition boxes, with heart-shaped cut outs in the plastic around the doll’s face. The back of the¬†box talks a little bit about her character’s personality:

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 2

That’s my kind of a girl… well, except the fashion part. But,¬†Spanky?

And here is Kayla out of her box:

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 3

I love the outfit she’s wearing, despite the pinkness: the layered-look tee, the sparkly jeans, and the warm plaid scarf. Seeing as I bought this doll in fall, this seemed like an appropriate arrival outfit.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 4

Kayla has a bright, cheerful, friendly, intelligent expression. She looks excited to start doing things! One of the things that make Only Hearts Club dolls so special are their beautiful inset eyes, and Kayla is no exception.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 11

Her light brown¬†eyes are very clear and lustrous, and they give¬†her face sculpt a realism I’ve never seen equalled by any other comparable brand. I also love her dimples, her beautiful smile, and the sculpting above and below her mouth. None of the Only Hearts Club girls have eyelashes, either painted or glued, which gives them a fresh, natural, youthful look that is unusual among dolls of any size. Like all the dolls, Kayla has exquisite facial coloring and painted details, including shading at the corners of her eyes and a healthy blush.

I attempted to get Kayla to stand upright for a photo, which took some doing. The cloth-and-wire body design of these dolls allows them to pose beautifully, but combined with their small feet and large heads of hair it also makes it difficult to get them to stand upright without support.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 9

Plus I’m holding a cat.

Like all Only Hearts Club clothing, Kayla’s outfit is very detailed. I was especially struck by the tiny seed-beads adorning her braids:

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 8

One thing I’m not crazy about is how many stitches and threads have to be snipped to liberate each doll. Kayla was sewn to her cat, her scarf, her box… well, you get the idea.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 12

We’re really attached.

These stitches have their use, however. Once detached, there is no way Kayla’s cute hat will¬†stay on by itself:



...and after. It's perched.

…and after. It’s perched.

Luckily none of my dolls really care about hats, anyway.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae Brianna Joy dolls 2

Kayla Rae and Brianna Joy share the same face sculpt. Thanks to the inset eyes, though, each doll is an individual, so besides differing in coloring and hair texture, they each have a unique expression. Even though Brianna is advertised as the sporty, energetic girl, my doll¬†has a warm, gentle expression that is quite endearing. Kayla seems like the more vibrant one. I purchased Brianna in her soccer outfit. I’m not a big sports fan myself, but the doll was a great price in this ensemble. The dolls¬†have been offered many different ways over the years, including with pets, in fashion outfits, in activity-oriented outfits, with books, in swim suits or sleep wear, ballet leotards and riding outfits. I tend to gravitate to the original “club doll outfits,” but these days you have to take what you can find.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae Brianna Joy dolls 1

Brianna’s tightly curled¬†hair is exquisitely arranged. I love the little curls on each side of her face and her delicate fringe:

Only Hearts Club Brianna Joy doll 2

The front part of her hair is twisted and tied back in a very pretty half-pony style:

Only Hearts Club Brianna Joy doll 3

Her curls have an auburn¬†glow in bright light, and are very soft. They should under no account be brushed, however!¬†Kayla’s hair, on the other hand, invites brushing. She has two large braids framing the sides of her face, but otherwise her hair is unstyled:

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 14

It is very black, with just a slight wave:

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 13

The only thing I don’t like about her hair is this odd short fringe that sticks out of her hairline where bangs would be:

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 15

I think this must be an unintentional by-product of how her hair was sewn.

After playing with Brianna for a little while, I¬†decided to experiment a bit with her hair. I’m not a fan of thread-tied styles; my child-self wants complete freedom and control over my doll’s hairdo. So I snipped the thread holding back Brianna’s hair to see what would happen.

Only Hearts Club Brianna Joy doll 9

A hair-raising experience.

Her curls have a lot of life! This would be fine with me, and I would much prefer to have her hair loose so that I could put it in pig tails or fluff it out. Unfortunately I discovered she has large bald patches on the top of her head. It looks like her hair style was not meant to be changed.

Only Hearts Club Brianna Joy doll 10

I took a small clear plastic band and twisted her hair back into the original style.¬†Many, perhaps most, collectors and children wouldn’t mind her hair’s limited style-ability, but it is a definite detraction for me. Brianna’s mane is beautiful, but Kayla’s has far more options for hair-stylists.

Here’s¬†the satisfyingly simple Only Hearts Club doll construction:

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae Brianna Joy dolls 5

I love handmade cloth dolls and rag dolls, so maybe that’s why I like the Only Hearts Club body construction so much. They have a flexible wire armature that allows them to be bent into almost any pose. One of the differences between the original dolls and the later dolls are the feet. Brianna Joy, on the right, has simple cloth nubs for feet, while Kayla Rae has real plastic¬†feet. Some collectors might feel this is a great improvement, but I’m indifferent to it. The fact is that I was always fond of¬†the little round nubs.

Only Hearts Club Brianna Joy doll 4

The original foot.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 16

The later edition foot.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae Brianna Joy dolls 4

I’m not sure when this change occurred, and whether or not¬†all Kayla Raes and Hannah Faiths have the improved feet. Either way, all the dolls can¬†fit all the¬†shoes. Here’s Brianna’s foot in Kayla’s shoe:

Only Hearts Club doll shoes 2

And Kayla’s foot in Brianna’s sneaker:

Only Hearts Club doll shoes 1

All the dolls have cute little stuffed torsos with an added seam to give their bums some shape:

Only Hearts Club Brianna Joy doll 6

Only Hearts Club Brianna Joy doll 7

Brianna has a very narrow tag with a 2004 copyright date.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 17

One of the issues with a rag-style body is a high degree of possible defects. My Kayla has a rather unevenly stuffed bottom.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 18

Kayla’s tag is much larger and more intrusive. She has a 2010 copyright date.

Another difference between the two dolls is the texture of the body fabric. Kayla’s is a beautiful color, but has almost a fuzzy, teddy bear-ish feel to it. I prefer the original material.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae Brianna Joy dolls 3

Both original and later dolls have plastic molded hands. The hands have a high degree of detail, including tiny nails and creases.

Now I’d like to share¬†Kayla and Brianna’s family. Here are Lily Rose and Olivia Hope:

Only Hearts Club Lily Rose Olivia Hope dolls

These girls have my favorite Only Hearts Club face¬†sculpt (at least of the ones I’ve seen so far). To me it looks strong and sweet, and I really like the face shape. Lily Rose’s freckles and strawberry-blond hair have completely won me over, but Olivia Hope has always been special.

Karina Grace and Taylor Angelique also share a face sculpt. So far I only have Karina Grace. Like Kayla and Brianna, she has lovely dimples. My Karina has a brown smudge on her left cheek, which she won by coming into contact with a breyer horse’s hoof during moving some years ago.

Only Hearts Club Karina Grace doll 1

Anna Sophia and Hannah Faith both have unique face sculpts. Anna Sophia is the only one in the line with a closed mouth. I’d love to see these girls in person.

Only Hearts Club dolls 4

I love how much variety there is in the Only Hearts Club doll coloring. Kayla has a dark brown skin tone; Brianna has a cafe au lait skin tone; Olivia Hope has an olive skin tone; and Lily Rose and Karina Grace have a fair skin tone. I look forward to seeing how Anna Sophia, Taylor Angelique and Hannah Faith compare. The only concern I have is how some of the dolls hands have tended to fade over time. Olivia Hope’s hands in particular have a greenish cast. Thankfully this hasn’t happened to any of the doll’s faces. Their hair hasn’t faded either, from what I can tell.

Of course, these are fashion dolls, and Only Hearts Club has always done a great job of making cute and trendy fashions that are up to date and girl appropriate. I especially love the tiny stitching, real pockets, and high level of detail on most of these outfits.

Only Hearts Club Kayla Rae doll 20

My Kayla’s arrival outfit is a great example. Her jeans don’t have real pockets, though.

Only Hearts Club Brianna Joy doll 8

Brianna’s socks have real shin guards sewn in, and tiny cleats on the bottom of her sport shoes.

Only Hearts Club pamphlet 7

All of the outfits that the dolls come in,¬†that I know of, are (or at least were) also available separately, which is really nice if you want to buy a particular doll but like another outfit better. And Only Hearts Club made a fairly large range of fashion¬†outfits available separately as well. I’m not familiar with all of these, but from what I’ve seen on Amazon and eBay, many of these outfits are still easy to find, though some of the older ones or specialty ones are more rare. They include fantasy outfits…

Only Hearts Club pamphlet 4

Swimming gear…

Only Hearts Club pamphlet 5

Sleep wear…

Only Hearts Club pamphlet 3

And riding ensembles.

Only Hearts Club pamphlet 9

The Only Hearts Club has had a lot of fun ideas over the years. The Horse & Pony Club, which introduced¬†full-sized poseable horses of different breeds, matching foals, and even miniature horses, was one of my very favorites. I have the chestnut mare, and at one time also had the brown and white paint. I’ve always had a hankering after the big black stallion. Again, I love that the horses, like the dolls, were soft and poseable, with long brushable manes and tales. I would have adored these as a child!

The Big Sister-Li’l Sister idea was also fun, though I haven’t yet¬†collected any of the little sisters:

Only Hearts Club pamphlet 8

You can still find the occasional double-doll set of a big sister with her matching little sister on eBay. The little sisters were also available separately, with accessory sets, and even with fantasy unicorns. So cute.

The Only Hearts Club also offered coordinating accessories that were sometimes quite elaborate: a sofa and floor chair for the “club room,” a stable for the horses, and even a ballet studio!

One of my favorite offerings was the Only Hearts Club line of pets. These soft little dogs (and later, cats) have so much personality! I was so excited to recently find a two-dog pet set with the only dog I was missing–the fluffy little mop called Bubulina, that belongs to Anna Sophia.

Only Hearts Club dogs

The simplicity of these dogs is charming. The dauchsund is one of my favorites:

Only Hearts Club dog 1

But I also have a special place in my heart for the dalmation (I have two):

Only Hearts Club dog 2

Over time the glue holding together the two strips of material that make up the tails and ears has yellowed and separated. I can easily re-glue the pieces, and for me the yellowing is a minor issue.

Kayla and Hannah Faith broke the previous pattern of the original six dolls by coming with kitties instead of puppies. Kayla’s kitty is a little vacant looking, but still pretty cute:

Only Hearts Club cat 1

I think it’s the messy nose-stitching and green knot eyes that make him not quite as successful as the pups. But cats are hard for manufacturers to capture successfully, as I’ve often noted in the toy world.

Only Hearts Club cat 2

He was a bit over-balanced by his enormous tag, so I cut it off:

Only Hearts Club cat 4

That’s better.

Just like their character counterparts, my Only Hearts Club girls love to play with their animal friends.

Only Hearts Club dolls Brianna Joy Lily Rose

I’m so glad to have rediscovered these wonderful toys. They have a kind of magical ability to make me smile every time I hold them or look into their tiny, detailed faces.

Only Hearts Club dolls 2

I would love to see the Only Hearts Club line revive or be bought by another company willing to retain the original vision. The simplicity, un-plasticy-ness, wholesomeness, and quality of these toys is unrivaled in their field. I love the tiny detailed outfits, the fun accessories, and the beautiful horses. I really feel these dolls hold an important niche in the toy world, one I would hate to see disappear. For now, these special girls and their accessories are still relatively easy to find at good prices. Their ethnic diversity, responsible portrayal of healthy, normal girls, and high level of quality make them a treat for the collector and a wonderful gift for the children in your life.

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! ūüėČ 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. ūüôā 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.