Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Out of the Box: Canada & India (Madame Alexander's Little Women/International Friends)

Madame Alexander's "India" and "Canada"
I'm actually not the only toy collector in my family - I have an aunt who has a fairly extensive collection of vintage and antique play-type dolls.  I've always been fascinated by her collection, but was always a little creeped out by the Madame Alexanders.  Something about the setting of the eyes always made me feel that they were watching me with great disapproval.

Canada.  She looks tough, doesn't she?
Despite feeling like they're frowning at me, I have occasionally thought that I  might enjoy adding one or two of the dolls to my own collection, but was frequently turned off by the prices (which can start fairly low, but are really all over the map).  Since I wasn't a huge fan, I didn't feel the
drive to put in the effort that would be involved in researching the prices and conditions of the dolls, and so put off picking any of them up.  Until this past June, when I came across not one, but two low-priced and reasonably cute dolls from the smaller-sized International Dolls line from the 1970s: Canada and India.

Both dolls are in quite good condition, with complete (and clean) outfits and bodies that can still stand on their own.   The India doll included her original wrist-tag and booklet (although she came in the wrong box), while the Canada doll still had her original packaging.

India.  She has a skeptical expression.
The dolls stands around 20cm (just under 8 inches) and has 5 points of articulation (hips, shoulders, and neck) and "sleeping" eyes.  The outfits are nicely detailed for dolls of this size (the India doll has a light blue sari-inspired dress with a gold metallic trim, while the Canada doll has an interestingly-patterned Acadian-style dress with a satin-type apron).

I don't know that I'll add more of these dolls to my collection (although I'll confess to being tempted by the more recent "New Zealand" and "South Africa" releases), but  I've been very pleased with this pair, even if they do look a little out of place with the rest of my collection.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Out of the Box: Mulder & Scully (McFarlane Toys' Fight the Future series)

Scully and Mulder
I've talked about my deep and abiding fondness for The X-files before (when I was excited to find the Sideshow Autopsy Scully for my sister), and yet somehow I've never shared my standard-sized figures before outside of a few group shots with them in the background.

The alien.
 These figures were part of a 1998 McFarlane Toys release that tied-in to the decidedly mediocre The X-Files: Fight the Future film.  In addition to the traditional suited Mulder and Scully, the line included parka-wearing variants (which I quite like, although I don't have them myself  - my sister owned them at the time, and they were nicely done), an alien and a couple of semi-developed alien and corpse-gestating-alien figures.  Personally, I was always baffled by the inclusion of the corpses and pod-aliens - they were so specific to the film rather than the show, and so limited in terms of display (and play, although clearly the line wasn't marketed for that), that I've never understood the appeal of them.  I've met a multiple people who own (or once owned) these figures, but I've only once met someone who isn't a MIC collector who actually did anything with those parts.

The figures also included some small accessories including flashlights, cell
phones and ID badges. That I've managed not to lose the flashlight that you can see in the photo above is somewhat miraculous, given that these guys have been out-of-box for more than a decade (I'm usually not that organized!).

As is standard for McFarlane's releases of the time, the likenesses are solid and the details are fabulous.  The resemblance to the actors is significantly better on these than on the much larger Sideshow line.
I used this photo for a Christmas card one year.
Yes, I know that's silly, and no, I don't care. ;)

Size comparison: the McFarlane Mulder doesn't
quite reach the Sideshow Krycek's waist.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Out of the Box: Moni (Uranium's unoffical mini-Sasha)

As I've been reading through various doll and toy blogs I've come across a number of Sasha Doll aficionados, and seeing their dolls, I was reminded of my childhood Sasha Gregor -a doll that I still own, but which went into storage during my last move.  Since I was feeling nostalgic, I checked out the secondary market, but quickly discarded the idea of buying another since a. the prices are rather high and b. I really don't need to replace something that I haven't gotten rid of!

As I was looking through those collector pages, I saw a couple of notes about a short-lived obviously-copied doll from the late 1970s called "Moni".  And since they'd caught my attention, when I came across one on ebay at a non-offensive price I let my curiosity get the better of me and bought her.

If you're not familiar with Sasha dolls, they were a line of dolls created by a Swiss artist, and produced in Germany, then the UK, then Germany again, lasting from 1965 to 1986 ( is a solid site for general information, if you're curious, although the site design is a bit retro).  The dolls came in two sizes, with the standard being 40cm (16 inches) and then a "Baby" size that was slightly smaller.

In the Box.
The knock-off Moni dolls were only produced for one year in the late-70s (by a Swiss company called Uranium) before being taken off the market (for being obvious knock-offs, it seems).  At 18cm (7 inches) they're much smaller than their inspiration, but have a near-identical face style and are found in the same coffee colour.  The vinyl is much lower quality - it has more of a rubbery feel to it, and the hair is also a weaker element, but they still manage to be fairly appealing.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the size, these dolls aren't strung as the large Sashas are, but are  jointed in the style of a 70s fashion doll.  The clothing is also more equivalent in quality to those of playline fashion dolls of the era rather than the larger dolls that they mimicked (the dress is simple, and the shoes are moulded plastic).

Ultimately, the doll is cute and I think it's a nice novelty piece for Sasha fans, but I don't know that there's a lot of appeal beyond that.  Still, I'm glad I picked her up, and I look forward to having her on a shelf with my Gregor the next time I relocate.

The complete line, as shown on the back of the box.

The inner packaging.

Size comparison with an American Girl (which is of
a similar height to the Sasha Dolls).
I should have brought the Moni with my on my
trip to Toronto since I have access to my sister's
old Sasha doll now.  Ah well...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Out of the Box: Grifter (Playmates 1993 WildCATS series)

I'm back in Toronto for a month, so I may have an opportunity to hunt out a few more retro items, but before I do, I did de-box a few more toys before I left, so I still have some things to share in the meantime.

First up is this Grifter Figure from a series of WildCATS characters that Playmates released in 1993.  In those days, the WildStorm comics imprint was part of Image rather than DC, and a side effect of that is that these figures differ quite significantly from the DC Direct ones that would be released not-quite a decade later.

Of course to be fair, changing styles also account for some of those differences.  This older line had the thicker bodies that were favourites by the artists of the times, so that's one difference that's perfectly in line with the evolution of the characters in the comics themselves.

In the box.
The box itself is designed to mimic the look and colour combinations that were commonly found on the covers of the WildCATS comics.  Which might be a bit dated, but is still very appealing (at least to me - I actually liked it enough that I was conflicted about de-boxing him, and I've never been a MIB/MIC collector).

Included with the figure were four accessory pieces (three guns and a "communicator", which looks like an early 90s mobile phone, and is hugely amusing now because of it), a card with a character portrait on one side and facts on the reverse, and a stand (which is actually quite solid - better than most of the stands we see at this price point).

The figure itself is nicely detailed, with well-sculpted outfit and nicely done hair.  The paint work is almost perfect (within the standard of a mass produced figure at least), and the colours are fantastic - the coat is maybe a little to green to be the character's standard look, but it's bright and crisp and that's good enough for me.

The articulation is standard for the times - 7 points, although the "wrist" articulation is actually at the mid-forearm point - it's rotational, so less strange than that might sound, although it's still not hugely useful for posing purposes.  The hands are set to fit each of the included weapons (and that brick of a phone), and he stands well on his own even off the stand.

On the stand, showing off his gun and phone.

In comparison to The Midnighter from the later DC Direct Wildstorm line.
You can imagine them reenacting the "Grifter and The Midnighter" mini-series here. ;)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Out of the Box: Laura (Limhwa half-elf)

Her current look.
Time to unpack the last of the big dolls! Or at least the last of current big dolls. ;)

Laura is a limhwa half-elf in tan resin.  Limhwa is a one-person operation (the arist's name is Jung Ji Youn), and the dolls sculpted with fairly soft facial features.  The joint engineering is fairly simple (and not my favourite to pose, if I'm honest), but they more than make up for that with their charm, and with the impressively detailed sculpting of the hands and feet.

The resin has a solid weight to it, with a nice natural grain (I'm not a fan of sanding, so I prefer that slightly rough feel).  This batch of tan was rather orange, but I've seen others that turned out in more of a brown - but that's not an unusual thing to see from a tiny producer like this.

I bought her back in 2011, but it took me a good two years to find a final look for her - and as soon as I settled on one, I accidentally ripped out her eyelashes, so now she's back in the work-in-progress pile!  Still, that's an easy one to finish (as long as I don't decide she needs a new faceup in the meantime!).

Resin comparison: with Island Doll tan.
I had too-small eyes in both dolls at this point.
Resin comparison: with Iplehouse Lt Brown
On her own.
You can see some of the hand and finger sculpt details here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Random Toy of the Day (Mace Windu - SW Black Series) & Daisy Chain Blog Award

I've talked about this size of Star Wars figure before, and this Mace Windu figure is standard for the line, so I'll just show off this photo and leave it at that (he joined the collection when I happened to be browsing for Spiderman figures for my nephew and somehow he jumped into my basket as well ;)).

But on to other things!

A big thanks to Traci of A Wild Review Appears for the Daisy Chain Blog Award Nomination!  It's an answer-some-questions/tag-another-blogger game, and here are my answers to her questions (there's an American Girl focus to these):

1. What's your favorite aspect of doll collecting? 

I think my absolute favourite part of doll collecting is watching how things evolve - both my own collection and the general trends in the toy industry.  But a close second is definitely the community!

2. How do you feel about changing aspects of dolls who have personalities that are pre-set by the company? 
I feel like it's inevitable.  Once a doll comes home, it's hard not to have them become their own character.  It's more immediate for the BJDs (since most of the pre-sets - when there are any - tend to be fairly superficial), but even character dolls like the American Girl historicals end up evolving (although for me, some of that may be a lack of familiarity with those bits of US history - I know next to nothing about 1850s Louisiana, so Cécile evolved into someone else because of that.  Similarly, my Samantha stayed in the same period, but since my perspective on the generation that became adults during WWI is more familiar with the Canadian, Belgian and South African history, my version of the character's future is coloured by that angle.

3. If you could buy just one (AG) doll's entire collection, which doll would it be and why? (retired ones too!)
Samantha's!  I always wanted that wicker table and chair set.  And the brass bed!  And the trunk!

I do have her school desk, and it's one of my favourite pieces of doll furniture - AG or otherwise.  I'm looking forward to seeing what new items come out when she's re-released.

4. Who is your favorite Girl of the Year?
Confession time:  I wasn't following AG's releases from about 2003 - 2012, so I've never actually read any of the GotY material.  That said, I do like the Jess mold in medium-skin, so I'll go with Kanani!

5. Do you collect things besides toys? If so, what, and if not, would you like to?
I own an embarrassingly large number of comics. I'm not a completionist, so I tend to think of myself as a reader more than a collector, but I think once you have more than a couple of longboxes (which I passed years and years ago) that's not a distinction that matters.

I also have a collection of thimbles, although I don't actively acquire them anymore (people who know about it do send me new ones fairly regularly though).

6. What pets do you wish AG would make that they haven't or don't?
Because I'm an egomaniac, I'll say I'd like the pets that I've had - so a California Giant rabbit, a German Shorthair Pointer, and a white Pit Bull with natural ears! ;)

7. Are there any partnerships you wish AG would participate in, for the cool swag/collecting purposes? (AG and Disney, AG and Marvel, etc.)
Don't know the MI:13
characters? This is them.

I'd go with Marvel because I'd love to see an AG-sized MI:13 gear.  Like the Captain Britain costume. And Faiza Hussain's Excalibur gear!  Pete Wisdom's mod suit! The Black Knight's costume!

Of course realistically, if it ever were to happen, they'd probably stick to characters from the Avengers movies.  I can dream though!

8. What's the one question you always hope no one asks you about your toy collection?
"I don't have to replace this if I break it, do I?"

And that's it! Thanks again, Traci - this was fun! In response, I'm tagging Barb the Evil Genuis of My Little Doll Corner.  In a twist on the Q&A, I'll ask you to answer the 8 questions that you wish someone would ask about your doll collection and your doll blog (if you have the time, of course.  No pressure!).

Monday, July 7, 2014

Out of the Box: Yukiko Amagi (Figma)

I've talked about my fondness for the Persona game series before, and mentioned that while I admire the vast line of unarticulated PVC figures that have been released from it, I'd rather have something with posing options.  And this Persona 4 Yukiko Amagi Figma is exactly what  I was looking for!

As is standard for Figmas (a line of articulated 13cm PVC action figures produced by Max Factory), this figure is fabulously well-articulated, and includes three option faces (each with a different expression),  two weapon accessories, three pairs of glasses, five pairs of option hands and a stand.  The accessories are all equal in quality to the doll itself, although the size does make me worry about losing them - a branded zip-seal bag is included though, and I imagine many people probably keep everything in the box, so I may be alone in being disorganized enough to worry about that!

The figure and accessories
The body is well-painted (the print on the skirt is fantastic) and well-sculpted (the knit pattern of the cardigan is impressively detailed) with detailing of the clothes that perfectly matches the character from the games.  The colours are also bright and even, which is perfect for a display piece.  If I have one complaint, it would be that the stand seems to be a little too large for a figure of this size (but that's a very minor concern).

I've been admiring the Figma releases for years, but this is the first one to join my collection, and I have to say that I'm thrilled with her. 
In the box.
Posing with her battle-fan.
Posing with the secondary battle-fan
In comparison to the non-articulated Kanji figure.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Souvenir Dolls and Figures: A Travel Journal in Toys

Whenever I travel, I like to pick up a souvenir doll or figure to bring home.  I don't always keep them (sometimes they get passed along to friends), but it's vary rare for me to come home from holiday without one.  These are a few of the ones that are on my shelf now:

Wooden ball figure, Ecuador, 2007

Crocheted family, Ecuador, 2009
Rag doll, Dominican Republic, 2011
Beaded Figure, South Africa, 2005
Plush Donkey, Aruba 2013

Somewhere I probably have photos of the souvenirs that are in storage (which include a variety of airport dolls that were childhood gifts) and of the ones that were passed along as gifts for friends.  But that's a post for another day!

In any case, I hope my US-based friends had a great Independence Day!  And for the folks whose countries are still in the World Cup and are playing today, good luck!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Out of the Box: Angelo (Angelheim Venetio)

The default outfit, with the trench-coat.
It's taken me 8 months, but I'm almost finished with unpacking the big dolls!  This guy, an Angelheim Venetio who I call Angelo, is second-to-last - only one more to go!  But before I move on, let's talk about him.

Back before they were acquired by D-Storic (who I've been told have vanished as well now, although I haven't seen official word on that), Angelheim was it's own entity, and one of their early sculpts (from 2009) was this guy: Venetio, "the magician".  I admired their dolls (huge 70+cm ones), but hadn't seen enough of them to be sure about the quality.  And they only came in two colours - white and light pink, which would make the doll hard to photograph with the rest of my dolls.

But after a year of stalking their site, I noticed a sale and decided to order him anyway.  The company appeared to not be ready for the demand of that sale, because it took months for this doll to come home, but when he finally did arrive, I was not disappointed.

This doll has a fabulously detailed headsculpt, and a wonderfully engineered body.  In many ways, he's almost more like a giant action figure than a doll - endless poses, but also the ability to stand like a statue.
In an alternate wig.

The body is stylized, but in a different way than many of the willowly 70cm bodies that are out there: this one is thin, but is still quite broad shouldered.  The hands and feet are also delightfully well-sculpted and are a perfect size for the doll.  While the chest size does make him a little challenging to dress, this is still one of my favourite doll bodies.

I also ordered an outfit at the same time (the "Ryan" default set), and it proved to also be fantastic set of clothing - it included a long jacket with buttons, a matching shirt and scarf and faux-leather pants, all of which are well-crafted and fit the doll perfectly.  I regret not buying more of their outfits when they were available.

In an alternate wig, with Volks Daria
Because Venetio's head is the same size as the shorter SD13 heads,
whenever I feel the need for my Heath to be taller
he gets to borrow this body for a while.

With EID Chase (who is wearing the Venetio default wig).
Riding the dog.  I wouldn't trust any other doll body to balance like this.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

"Canada" from the 1970s Madame Alexander International Dolls line.
I'm planning to do a more detailed post about the 1970s Madame Alexander International Dolls line, but since today is Canada Day, I thought I'd do a little preview with this girl.

A disproportionate number of "Canada" dolls from Dolls of the World lines from any company tend to be either dressed in faux-RCMP uniforms or else in borderline stereotypical Inuit traditional wear.  Shockingly, this release managed to avoid that and instead put out this  Acadian-inspired outfit, which is not something you see every day.

If you're in Canada, Happy Canada Day!  If you're from a country whose national football/soccer team is playing, good luck!  And if you're none of those things, Happy Tuesday!