Tag Archive: doll collecting

Favorite Pictures, Part 1

Hello Readers!

A Doll’s Picnic is back! It has been a long time since my last post, I know. Last fall I decided to return to school as an online student in order to finish my undergraduate degree, and I was accepted by Antioch University. I’m happy with my decision and the program so far. It seems to be the perfect way for me to return to school; I love my freedom and I’ve always struggled to accept the restrictions inherent in pursuing a traditional college education. As an online student I can set my own schedule and work at home, while still being able to pursue my skating and other important activities. However, the class load turned out to be much more intense than I expected! The full-time load was so time consuming, in fact (more than 40 hours a week!), that during my second term I had to drop a class and accept that a part-time course load works much more harmoniously with my life. In any case, that’s why my blog has been completely neglected for the last several months. I’m hoping to be a bit more active here now that I’ve become accustomed to the pace of being a part-time online student. This week I’m on break between terms, so we’ll see what I can do.

A few days ago I found myself going through my folders of hundreds of doll pictures here on my computer in order to revisit my favorite photographs. They were so fun to look at that I’ve decided to share my very favorites here. Because I have quite a few favorite pictures of my dolls, I’m going to share them in parts. This first group is composed of single portraits. Next, I hope to share some of the first photos I took of my first dolls (on real film!). Finally, I hope to share some of my favorite photographs of my dolls in groups. Of course, half the fun of having a doll blog in the first place is in sharing photographs of my dolls, and some of my favorites have already been posted here, so I’ll skip those. What follows is just a collage of photographs in no particular order.

I’m not sharing these because these are fabulous photos–I’m by no means an experienced photographer. These are just pictures that I simply love and make me happy. Sometimes I remember a photo because I captured something quintessential about how I felt about a particular doll; sometimes the picture really captured something of the individuality of the doll; sometimes I like the composition or the lighting; and sometimes they just make me happy without me knowing why. I hope they bring you joy as well–and most of all, I hope my pictures encourage you to go out and take pictures of your own dolls! What’s the point of having dolls if we don’t play with them? Taking pictures is one of the primary ways adult collectors play. 🙂

In the ten years that I have been collecting dolls, many dolls have passed through my home. Most of them have stayed with me for a while, been loved and enjoyed, and then have gone on to find homes with family members, charity recipients, or other collectors. For whatever reason, I don’t tend to hold onto most of my dolls for more than a few years, so many of the dolls in these pictures are now just loving memories. That’s part of the joy of revisiting these old pictures. They are reminders of special friends I spent time with, and I think I love them all the more for being so willing and able to let them go.

Pepper Robert, aka Maggie Amanda, aka Emma Jo

Emma Jo… aka Maggie Amanda… aka Pepper Roberta, aka “Kit.”

This is Emma Jo with Muir the Bear (I love dolls with bears!). Emma has had several name changes in the years she’s been in my/our collection. She was purchased in 2009 as an  anniversary gift, and I gave her the name Pepper Roberta. After hanging out in my collection for a couple of years she joined my husband’s collection where she was christened Maggie Amanda. Now she has once again joined my collection and I felt it was time for a new name in honor of discovering her all over again. This time I’m christening her Emma Josephine, or Emma Jo for short. Emma has always been a wonderful doll to photograph, and this is one of those very favorite pictures that just makes me happy.

Addy Walker times two. Left: Elinor, right, Abby.

Addy Walker, times two! Left: Elinor, right, Abby.

This picture is special to me for a couple of reasons. First, I think it is a wonderful portrait of two different Addy dolls whom I have loved. Second, it shows how different two individuals of the same type of doll can be. On the right is Abby, my first Addy doll. Abby was just my second American Girl doll as a collector! She joined my collection in 2006 and was originally named  Violet until she joined my sister’s collection later on. Abby was what I would call a mid-Mattel-era Addy doll. Compare her face to Elinor, on the left, and you will see how much the face mold evolved in just a few short years. Elinor was purchased in 2010, when I began missing Abby/Violet. She had a whole different look and expression. The dolls were also different heights, and even had slightly different skin tones. I find these differences fascinating!

Surf's up, Paulina and Kamea!

Surf’s up, Paulina and Kamea!

This picture just makes me giggle! We were hosting a tropical-themed party to welcome Kamea (American Girl of the Year 2011 Kanani). Paulina couldn’t help hamming it up! Though Kamea spent only a couple of years with us before continuing her dolly adventures elsewhere, Paulina is the doll who started my adult collecting. She’s actually my husband’s doll now, and she’s a permanent fixture in our household!

Marjorie Mae

Marjorie Mae

I’ve had several Molly dolls over the years, including this little Mattel sweetie. I just love the lighting in this picture, as well as Marjorie’s outfit and the way I did her hair.

Doll hugs.

Darling Melanie… and doll hugs.

This is a doll I’ve been missing lately: Melanie Roxanne, Just Like You/My American Girl #26. Melanie gave fabulous hugs. I loved her amber eyes and sweet expression, but I found her curls a little off-putting because they made me nervous (I was so afraid to mess them up). What a beautiful doll, though.

Umeko Patience and a daffodill.

Umeko Patience and daffodil.

Every now and then, a doll has come along who was just exactly what I needed at a certain time. I found Patience on eBay, after being inspired by the fabulous blog Lissie and Lilly to find a Just Like You #4 doll. I couldn’t really tell from the pictures what condition the doll was in, but when Patience arrived, it was clear that I had a fixer-upper project on my hands. This project gave me something to do during a very tough time. Patience’s sweetness, sympathy, and cheerfulness helped me through, and she and I are now best friends. By the way, her favorite color is yellow. 🙂

Harriet Eloise!

Harriet Eloise!

This is Harriet, another extra special doll. Harriet (American Girl of the Year 2008 Mia) came into my life just after I learned how to skate as an adult, and even traveled with me to my first competition where we performed together! Although she eventually continued on her way into the world, I have many fond memories of Harriet. This picture just makes me happy.

American Girl Kaya and Julie dolls by the lake

Ursie and Joannie at Lake Siskiyou

I don’t often take dolls with me to the lake as I’m afraid to leave them on the shore while I swim, but I guess on this particular day I was feeling just a bit bolder than usual.

Katrin in the snow

Katrin in the snow

Here, lovely Katrin was exploring one of our rare snowfalls. I just love the sunlight and her warm winter sweater!

Harriet and Hobbes

Harriet and Hobbes

Dolls like cats. Cats like dolls. 🙂

Amy Gratitude Octavine Taylor

Amy Gratitude Octavine Taylor

This is one of my very favorite doll portraits. Amy was so beautiful and confident and strong. She was a retired, MCM sale Just Like You #1 doll I found on eBay in new condition one Thanksgiving Day. She’s no longer in my collection, but this picture gives me fond recollections.

Guess where Melita is standing???

Guess where Melita is standing???

Right outside of American Girl San Francisco, that’s where! Melita (My American Girl #55) traveled down with me for the Beforever debut weekend; here she’s modeling Rebecca’s Beforever Meet outfit.

Taking outdoor pictures with dolls is so much fun!

Taking outdoor pictures with dolls is so much fun!

I loved walking with Melita (and my sister and her Kaya doll!) through the outdoor mall where the American Girl San Francisco store is situated. No one there seems too startled at seeing a grown-up lady with a doll under her arm, because everybody knows the AG store is right around the corner. They have such beautiful summer flowers in Palo Alto.

Melita loved flowers

Melita loved flowers

One last picture of Melita. Melita is an example of a doll that I ended up selling and then missing so much that I recently replaced her! That happens sometimes. 🙂

Melanie and Pooh Bear

Melanie and Pooh Bear

Okay, here is one of my more artsy shots. I just love this picture… and I do miss this doll!

Jane goes raspberry picking

Jane goes raspberry picking

Jane (My American Girl #53) was such a lovely and sweet doll. I didn’t end up keeping her for very long, but I sure had fun taking pictures of her sweet self. This picture makes me want her back again!

Emmie in the window

Emmie in the window

This doll was such a fun eBay find: a truly excellent condition Just Like You #2 doll. She didn’t end up fitting my collection, but she had such a perfect, mid-Mattel-era classic face. She always seemed so up for anything.

Grania--looking gorgeous

Grania: looking gorgeous

This is Rebecca Grania, a fabulously gorgeous doll I don’t think American Girl should have retired: My American Girl #45. I just loved everything about this beauty’s looks.

Patience and more daffodils

Patience and more daffodils

Patience loves the spring, and adventures, and traveling! Here she accompanied me to nearby Ashland, Oregon, to look for all the spring flowers. She looks awesome in Grace’s coat, too!

Ashleigh Carolina

Ashleigh Carolina

This is another doll I missed so much that I had to replace: Ashleigh, aka American Girl of the Year 2014 Isabelle. Everything about the Isabelle doll just looks so classic to me. Ashleigh was a very modern, artsy sort of person, and looked like a model.

Melanie in the morning

Melanie in the morning

One last picture of Melanie looking adorable in the morning light. Man, I miss this doll. Okay, eBay, here I come!

Melita Danielle... and Arthur bunny

Melita Danielle… and Arthur Bunny

And one last picture of lovely Melita with Arthur the Bunny! My American Girl/ Truly Me #55 is such a lovely and unique doll. If you’re on the fence about her… get her!

Katrin and the violets

Katrin and the violets

Katrin and her spaniel are keeping guard over the spring violets. Let’s hope her puppy chases away the deer!

Sylvie-Anne enjoying the fresh powder

Sylvie-Anne enjoying the fresh powder

Sylvie-Anne (American Girl of the Year 2015 Grace) was as excited as I was when we received an inch or two of fresh powder last December! (Clear elastics helped her hold the snowball for the picture).

Pleasant Company dolls are special

Melinda: Pleasant Company dolls are special

Melinda was a Pleasant Company Felicity doll who spent a while in our home. Melinda worked as a model for a doll-clothes store for the first twenty years of her life. I carefully restored her, enjoyed her for a while, and then sent her on her way. She had the loveliest, rosiest complexion I’ve ever seen on a doll, and the quintessential, sweet, old Pleasant Company face.

Dolls and roses go together

Dolls and roses go together

I didn’t keep this My American Girl #27 doll long, but I sure enjoyed taking pictures of her! She was just lovely, and was delighted by my modest little garden.

So photogenic!

So photogenic!

She wanted to look at every flower.

Especially the asters

Especially the asters

She seemed especially bewitched by the purple asters.

Dolls and bugs

Dolls and bugs

Okay, this is going to seem a bit random, but I just love this picture! Harriet skated with me at my first (and so far, my only) competition. We were taking a break outside the rink in the sunshine and we found this cool beetle on her tights. It’s kind of a ladybug, but not.

Beverly and the queen anne's lace

Beverly and the queen anne’s lace

I love this portrait… I have this thing about American Girl Gwen dolls. They are just so sweet and lovely, and I love the swoopy hair.

Molly modeling

Molly modeling

This lovely Molly doll was modeling a dress by The Dollies’ Dressmaker for a blog post last spring. I just love this shot from above.

Lydia--what a beauty

Lydia: what a beauty

All Josefina face mold dolls are gorgeous, and Lydia (American Girl Felicity’s best friend Elizabeth) was no exception. She just came alive out of doors among the spring bulbs.

Regency regal

Regency regal

She also looked fabulous modeling this Etsy Regency ensemble. I don’t tend to bond well with blue-eyed blondes, so Lydia continued on her way, but she was a gorgeous doll and very fun to photograph.

Marie Faith... a quiet beauty

Marie Faith… a quiet beauty

Sometimes I sell a doll and later I think: why did I do that? That’s part of the adventure of collecting, I guess. Marie, My American Girl #34, is one of those dolls. This is a fairly rare doll, as she was only around a few years, and she had a unique color of dark auburn hair. I miss her.

Elinor

Elinor

But then, in a way, I miss all the dolls I’ve had, including lovely Addy (in this case, Elinor).

Sophie--a rare sweetie!

Sophie: a rare sweetie!

Here’s a truly rare sweetie-pie I was delighted to find on eBay: Girl of Today #6. She is one of the original 20 Girls of Today, and was only available for a couple of years before she was replaced by the blonde haired-green eyed girl. Sophie didn’t end up fitting my collection, but I had fun restoring and photographing her.

Beverly in the garden

Beverly in the garden

One last picture of lovely Beverly in the garden. I hope to share more favorite doll photos soon. Until then, enjoy your dolls, play, take pictures, be yourself, and enjoy March!

Much love,

from your friends at A Doll’s Picnic.

A Sister for Gaby

These last few months my doll collection has gone through quite an overhaul, as I’ve let go of quite a few dolls I haven’t bonded with and found new girls to take their places. As a matter of fact, as those who know me will tell you, my collection is always a dynamic one, constantly changing with my latest interests. It’s been this way pretty much since the very beginning of my collecting, and I’m learning not to fight it. I often use the sale of dolls I’m no longer interested in as a means by which to purchase those I am. However, my goal is always the same: to have a group of dolls that is diverse enough to satisfy the collector in me, but personal enough to inspire my imagination. In short, I can’t help loving many different dolls, but I truly want to have only those dolls that not only make me admire them, but inspire me to play. I feel like this new year is off to a good start! I’m looking forward to sharing my latest doll-loves with you in the weeks ahead.

The first new member of our dolly-household that I’d like to introduce to you came kind of on impulse, when I found out that she, along with her two sisters, was being discontinued by the company. The jointed, 17-inch Schildkroet dolls have only been around since 2013, which means they’ve only just made their debut. Sadly, they are being dropped from the Schildkroet line (so if you want one, now is the time to nab her before they disappear!). I purchased my first Schildkroet doll, the perky red-head who I’ve named Gaby, from the wonderful UK doll shop My Doll Best Friend last spring; you can read the review I wrote about her here. I usually don’t respond to blond/blue-eyed dolls… but of her two sisters, it was the precious blond and not the lively brunette that called to me from across the seas. My Doll Best Friend was having an awesome deal where if you buy a Schildkroet doll with an outfit you receive a second outfit free, so… you know what happened, right? Gaby and I waited on pins and needles for her little sister to arrive. And one evening, when I got home from the rink, a box wrapped in pink was waiting for me! Joy! (Forgive us for the funky lighting in the pictures–it was after dark when we opened her, because we simply couldn’t wait ’till morning!). Without further ado, Gaby would like to share with you the excitement of greeting her new sister!

A box! And we recognize the pink wrapping, don’t we, Gaby?

What could possibly be in there, Gaby?

What could possibly be in there, Gaby?

Better read the label though, to be sure…

From London? Are you sure?

From London? Are you sure?

What’s that you say? Your sister? She’s here?!

Schildkroet doll with box

Hurry, get the knife! Let’s open her up!

Inside, we found the wonderful sturdy cardboard Schildkroet box with the little blue turtle logo design. (I always feel like a doll’s box does a lot to enhance the doll, and I just love these simple boxes! They seem to promise a sturdy, old-fashioned, heirloom treasure just waiting to be revealed!).

It looks just like my box did!

It looks just like my box did!

Open it, Gaby!

Schildkroet doll with box

We’re holding our breath…

(Maxine at My Doll Best Friend always does such a nice packing job. The outfits were carefully wrapped and everything was snuggly packed as efficiently as possible for overseas shipping).

Blond hair??? Really?

Blond hair??? Really?

We lifted off the tissue paper…

Schildkroet doll with box

And there she was!

Et voila!

Et voila!

Gaby was so excited!

I have a sister!!!

I have a sister!!!

She appeared to be sweetly sleeping, which is the best way to travel in a box overseas…

Dreaming...

Dreaming…

At first Gaby seemed reluctant to wake her up…

Wake her up, Gaby!

Wake her up, Gaby!

But finally we could wait any longer! It was a little awkward just at first, as Violette seemed a bit shy…

Schildkroet doll meets sister

It’s probably just the long journey, Gaby.

Gaby admired Violette’s puppy-dog toy.

That's a nice puppy, Violette.

That’s a nice puppy, Violette.

This helped thaw the momentary ice…

Look at those faces!

Well, hello there Violette! Welcome to A Doll’s Picnic!

She asked to hold the puppy…

He's so cute! May I hold him?

He’s so cute! May I hold him?

And so we soon found that Violette is very good at sharing!

Why, of course!

Why, of course!

Mutual interests secure affection…

Schildkroet doll meets sister

He’s so sweet!

And before we knew it, they were friends!

Friends already!

Friends already!

Now that Violette was feeling less shy and more at home, I could take a good look at her.

I must say, there is a strong family resemblance.

I must say, there is a strong family resemblance.

The result of my reverie? Need I say?

We're in love!

We’re in love!

These dolls are the dearest, sweetest, cutest, most adorable, most charming slim-bodied dolls ever. Period. Can’t you tell???

It's so good to meet you at last!

It’s so good to meet you at last!

Now I want all three.

Welcome home, sis!

Welcome home, sis!

I mean, if twins are this adorable, what would it be like with triplets?

Tell me all about yourself...

Tell me all about yourself…

Happy Spring, from A Doll’s Picnic!

Friends forever!

Friends forever!

 

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:

Before...

Before…

...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.

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

Here at A Doll’s Picnic, the girls gave thanks for having a warm home full of sisters and changes of outfits, and for having doll-crazy human friends who love to have picnics and play!

I managed to capture a rare shot of all my girls together in one place:

My current doll collection.

Here we are: the girls of A Doll’s Picnic!

And here are all the dolls currently on our shelves, including my husband’s collection of seven in front:

All the dolls at A Doll's Picnic

That’s a total of 39 dolls (gulp)! Little did I imagine when I started collecting back in 2006 that it would get to this point!

The story of my husband’s collection is simple: six of his seven dolls were once mine. When I no longer wanted these girls in my collection, he liked them too well to allow me to either give them away or sell them. His collection began pretty early on when I decided not to keep Paulina Clementina (front center), the Josefina doll that began my doll collecting, and has gradually expanded from there over the years. The only exception is Catherine (in the blue dress, third from left), who was purchased for him as an anniversary present at the American Girl Store in Seattle this summer.

Our dolls had a special treat last week when both my sisters and my two nieces came to visit, bringing with them all of their doll friends! That made a total of 50 dolls in our house for three days! Here’s a picture of our joint collection, including all my own girls, my husband’s collection, and my sisters’ and neices’ dolls!

My family's doll collection

My nieces’ dolls are seated in the front row. From left to right, that’s Ella (My Twinn), Butterfly, Karis (My Twinn), Polly, and Emma (Our Generation). My sisters’ dolls are standing in the row behind them. Aren’t they beautiful? (Averill has the light full in her face, poor dear). My girls were so excited to have all their cousins over to visit and play!

Happy Thanksgiving from A Doll’s Picnic!

Play Dolls: Master List

I’ve been collecting play dolls since 2006, but for seven-and-a-half of the last eight years I stuck exclusively to American Girl. It’s hard to say why, now. I guess we tend to like what we’re familiar with, and I was convinced that American Girl dolls were the prettiest, cutest, and just all around “best” play dolls there were. Whenever I saw pictures of other brands of dolls I just couldn’t see the appeal or charm. But finally last year I began to get a little, well, bored. It wasn’t until just a few months ago, however, when I was given my first ever non-American Girl doll (A Girl For All Time Matilda) that I finally cracked open the door to the universe of play dolls beyond. Now exploring the diversity of alternatives to American Girl has become my newest passion in collecting. I still love my American Girl dolls, but I now feel like I’m loving them in a much larger context. I’m gradually reducing my collection of American Girl dolls, and my new goal is to gather a group of dolls that I love to play with and that reflect both who I am and the variety of dolls that are available. I am especially interested in contrasting American Girl dolls with similar brands, which I hope to share on A Doll’s Picnic as time permits.

I’ve compiled a master list of the major doll brands for my own information, and thought I’d share it here. My criteria for this list are: 1) the doll is intended for play, 2) the doll is at least 16 inches tall, 3) the doll is a quality toy made to last. Just when I think I am aware of all the brands offering dolls that fit this criteria, I discover a new company! I had no idea there were so many!

Here is my list so far. The asterisks denote the brands included in my own collection. If you know of a brand that isn’t on my list, please comment below, and I’ll look them up!

Brands of Play Dolls

A Girl For All Time, by Daughters of History *

American Girl *

Australian Girl

Bonnie & Pearl *

Carpatina

Classic Kidz, by Gotz

Favorite Friends, by Madame Alexander

Happy Kidz, by Gotz *

Hannah, by Gotz *

Harmony Club

Karito Kids (no longer in production), by Kids Give *

Kidz ‘n Cats, by Heart and Soul *

Journey Girls

Las Reinas, by Paola Reina *

Magic Attic Club (no longer in production)

Maplelea *

Maru and Friends *

My Twinn *

Our Generation

Pen Pal Girls

Precious Day, by Gotz

Schildkroet *

Sisterhood in Town

Soy Tu, by Paola Reina

Springfield

Starpath

Vanange, by Vannuzza

Via-E *

Emily and the hyacinths: Introducing Las Reinas Lidia

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia

Emily (Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia) as she arrived, after being straightened and re-attached to her box.

I first discovered the 60 cm (23.6 in) “Las Reinas” Paola Reina dolls through a review by The Toybox Philosopher (see link on right sidebar) of the Marta doll in March. It was her description of Marta as an “epic doll,” in addition to some gorgeous photographs of Alma, Mei, and Lidia posted on My Doll Best Friend’s Facebook page that sold me on the line. It was difficult, however, to choose my Las Reinas doll. Lidia’s rose-colored arrival outfit including a delicate open-front sweater (I love doll sweaters!) and wholesome beauty finally settled the question. Lidia has sparkly brown eyes (the same as Marta’s) and rich chestnut hair, and I love her coloring. I may have to buy a sister for her sometime, though, and will definitely consider Mei and Sandra as second choices! I purchased Lidia from My Doll Best Friend in the UK, as the Paola Reina America website wasn’t yet operational. My Doll Best Friend is happy to ship overseas, and although the shipping was expensive for such a large item, it was worth it. Lidia arrived within a week! Unfortunately, a rough transit caused her to somehow pop out of the elastic ties securing her to her packaging, and she arrived crumpled at the bottom of her box. Thank goodness she was undamaged except for a rub-mark on her lovely mouth, probably sustained by vibrating against the front window of her box. Thankfully the texture and shine of her lips hide the flaw, and it really doesn’t show up in photographs. I wasn’t about to send her all the way back across the ocean for something like that!

Since The Toybox Philosopher has done such a thorough review of this brand of doll, I will just add my impressions here, and introduce you to Emily, as I renamed Lidia. This is the first time I’ve ever had a doll of this size in my collection, and it took me a day or two to get used to her height, and especially the size of her head and face. The size of her head is appropriate for her height, but after having American Girl dolls for years it seemed huge, especially with all that voluptuous hair! I also noticed that she had a slightly upward gaze–she simply cannot look down without falling over. Once I got used to this, I began to find it rather appealing, as it makes her seem hopeful and eager to help. Another thing I noticed is that her lovely hair, originally styled in layered waves, immediately lost some of its curl in our dry climate. I’ve had other curly-haired dolls who have not had this problem, but this is my first experience with nylon hair. I’m guessing Emily’s hair relaxation has something to do with the way nylon fiber retains its curl. It still has plenty of body and a soft shape, so I’m satisfied with it.

My favorite things about this magnificent doll are her presence, her beauty, and her fragrance. Her size makes her feel even more like a real companion than my other dolls, and her intelligent, sweet, loving, hopeful expression is both consoling and endearing. Her coloring is exquisite. The vinyl is a lovely rosy shade, less yellow than that of American Girl dolls. Her hair is wonderfully lustrous and thick, though it has taken me a while to get used to the texture of the nylon. Each strand seems to have a microscopically crimped texture, making her hair less shiny that that of my American Girl dolls. I can’t run my hands through her hair like I can that of my other dolls, and it seems to resist the wire brush somewhat as well. I’ve had success brushing it section by section with a large wire brush, but it takes patience, and I can imagine this might prove somewhat difficult for a child. It is securely rooted, and I’ve noticed very little hair loss. The color is just gorgeous: it truly glows in the sun, and seems very lifelike.

As far as I’m concerned, Emily’s vanilla fragrance is one of the best things about her. I was surprised by how powerful it was at first! Having this doll in the room is like having a softly-scented candle burning. It actually smells like a batch of sugar cookies is baking in the oven. I think giving a doll a scent like this is a stroke of brilliance on the part of Paola Reina. This is a doll that satisfies all the senses: not only is she beautiful to look at and pleasant to hold and touch, but she even smells wonderful. It is as if all your senses are telling you that this doll is truly wholesome. If her vanilla perfume makes me want to hug and kiss her, what would it be like for a child? I don’t know yet whether her fragrance will fade over time, but I’ve had her about a month now, and I still notice the scent whenever I have her near me in a room.

Ali holding Las Reinas Lidia doll

Emily satisfies all the senses!

I love Emily’s height, size, coloring, poseability, and the quality of her arrival outfit. My only issues with this doll are that she didn’t arrive in undies (and she’s wearing a skirt!), that her chain necklace does not have a clasp and therefore cannot be removed without being cut or broken, and that her vinyl is a bit harder and lighter-feeling than that of my other dolls. Since I associate hard vinyl with cheaper-quality products, this weighs a little against the detail of her face and outfit and reminds me that she is, indeed, intended to be a child’s toy and not a collectible. So far I’m quite happy with her articulation. I especially adore her beautiful hands and how her wrist joints allow them to turn. Her head joint seems just a tad loose to me, as does her left wrist, but these are small issues. Her knee joints do seem prone to buckling when she’s standing with her full weight on them, and I’ve found it a bit difficult to stand her up in a natural position. However, I’m glad she has knee joints, and ankle joints too! It just takes a bit of practice to get used to posing such a large doll.

I also wish that Paola Reina had a larger selection of outfits for this range of dolls! So far there are only a few outfits that I’m aware of, and they’re rather pricey and so far only available in Europe (I haven’t yet seen them listed on the Paola Reina America website). Since this doll is much larger than all my other dolls, I either have to wait for Paola Reina to make a full wardrobe, or learn to make clothes for her myself. Skirts should be easy, but I’m not an experienced dressmaker. Maybe if these dolls gain in popularity we’ll begin to see handmade outfits for them popping up on Etsy. I hope so! This is a girl who deserves clothes as lovely as she is.

And now, I’d like to introduce you to Emily by way of a little photo story:

As the review on The Toybox Philosopher pointed out, the Las Reinas dolls have a way of asserting themselves. Emily is a very loving and gentle person, who is eager to comfort and to help others–but, as I soon learned, she can also be a little obstinate at times! Emily loves flowers, and soon after she arrived, I took her out into the garden. Right away she was struck by the tall grasses left from last season, that I haven’t yet pulled out of my spring garden.

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

She saw there was plenty of work to be done, but she also noticed the artistry of the dry stalks:

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

I showed Emily the bird garden near where we feed the wild birds, and she loved seeing the little green leaves of the echinaceas poking up out of the mulch.

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

Then she saw the barrel of cranesbill, tulips and grape hyacinths.

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

She was very excited and asked to be helped up to smell the hyacinths.

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

I told her that the metal chairs, dirty from a winter outdoors, would possibly get her pretty pink tights and shoes dirty, but she insisted.

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

Well, what can one do? I helped her kneel on the chair so she could see the flowers better. However, she wasn’t satisfied until she could actually smell one of the hyacinth blossoms.

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

Dolls can be so demanding sometimes! Sure enough, her tights and shoes were smudged by the dirty chair.

Dirty knees Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

Luckily, it was easy enough to remove her tights and dab away the smudges with a solution of laundry detergent and warm water. I used non-acetone nail polish remover to get the smudge off her shoes. The outdoor chairs have been washed now that I know how insistent she can be! Emily adores the garden, and will want to spend a lot of time out in it. I only wish we had more flowers here for her to enjoy.

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll