Thursday, November 27, 2014

Out of the Box: Hearts for Hearts Surjan

Hearts for Hearts Surjan
I've been watching the Hearts for Hearts line for about while now - ever since I passed on one of the original releases (Nahji) when she was on clearance at Canadian Tire last year.  I didn't end up picking up that doll, but when two new ones were released this year, I was able to grab one this one (Surjan) the first week she appeared on the shelves (it helps that I'm in the US now, and the dolls are better stocked here).

The line consists a series of international-themed playline dolls that are slightly shorter than AG-sized.  They represent a solid selection of nations (this doll's story ties her to Nepal), and include a short story/pamphlet that discusses their lives (and that has an "out of poverty" element - part of the doll's proceeds go to a charity that is apparently involved in the issues described).

There are a multitude of reviews for this line out there, so I won't go into much detail, but the doll has a fully vinyl body with 5 points of articulation, and inset acrylic eyes.  This particular doll  comes in a patterned dress, pink sandals and a few pieces of jewellery (earings, nosering, bangle, and a necklace).  The plastic jewellery is decent quality for dolls at this price point, and the outfit, while simple, is better quality than I'd expected.  Her face is painted in a style that gives her a neutral-on-the-side-of-happy expression, which I found more appealing that I'd expected based on promotional photos.
In the box.  The doll also comes with a human-sized
bracelet and a comb.
The back of the box includes a shorter version of the
pamphlet's story.
Size comparison: The Hearts for Hearts dolls are a head
shorter than Ellowyne Wilde and American Girl dolls.

Overall, I'm quite impressed with this doll she's appealing, her accessories fit her theme, and for a doll at this price point ($25USD/$35CDN), the line certainly exceeded my expectations.

ETA:  I can't believe I almost forgot: For the Americans out there, Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Out of the bag: Mirodoll Lele

Mirodoll Lele.  Forgive the dress, I had nothing
else that fit him on hand.
I was away on a work trip last week, and - much to my surprise - when I arrived there was a new BJD on my doorstop.  Having only ordered the doll (a Mirodoll Lele) three weeks prior, I hadn't been expecting to see him so quickly, but I was also surprised because I hadn't received a shipping notice from Mirodoll.  The shipping surprise turned out to be reflective of my overall experience with this company: some positives, but a fair number of negatives as well.

Mirodoll is one of the lowest-cost BJD producers out there and, having not heard much about them, I was curious to see how they would stack up against other dolls.  Normally, their 1/4th scale dolls retail for just over $100 USD, but they had a sale recently and as a result the doll was offered for $90.  I think it's important to mention that up front because I do have a fair number of complaints, but it's worth noting that the doll's price was a fraction of some of the ones I'll be comparing him to.

The first surprise was discovering how little packing protection was used: inside the shipping box was a simple draw-string padded bag - and almost nothing else!
The shipping bag.
 the hands were wrapped in a little foam, but that was it.  Luckily, the doll survived his journey and still made it to me intact (and that's despite the box being slightly crushed in shipping).

The second surprise was that they cast my doll in the wrong colour.  I  had requested their "dark chocolate" resin, but the doll I received is in "dark grey".  The colour isn't terrible (and if you wanted to create a drow/dark elf character it might be perfect), and while I can understand shipping errors for off-the-shelf items, for a custom-cast item, I was surprised to see this kind of mix-up happen.
Dark grey Lele, unclothed.

Unfortunately, the dark grey shows sanding marks even more so than tan colours do, and as a result the doll is covered in lighter patches.  The faceup is also a bit on the odd side in terms of colour choices, but for something that was included with the price of the doll, I can't really complain.

Still, there are some positives:  the weight of the body is surprisingly hefty. While he can't compare with the weighty (and much higher-priced) dolls from Volks or Iplehouse, he easily outweighs even larger-scale dolls from Bobbie/ResinSoul and Angel Street/Fdoll.

The body and head also have much more detailed sculpts than any other doll I've seen at this price point.  The body in particular surprised me with its level of detail and also with the solid engineering.  In fact, while my overall impression is less than stellar, I would whole-heartedly recommend this body for hybrids.

One other thing of note:  although this doll is sold as a 1/4th scale doll, he's actually significantly shorter than any other MSD-range doll that I own.  That's not an issue if you're using him as a customization project and intend to make your own clothes, of course - but it does mean that he can't share clothes with many other dolls (and it's why he's wearing a dress here - it's the only thing I had on hand that fit him).

In any case, I think he'll make a great project doll - but if I order from Mirodoll in the future, I'll certainly be tempering my expectations.

Height Comparison: Volks SDC Miko
Height Comparison: Island Doll Kevin

Height Comparison: Withdoll Aiden
Battle of the Grey Dolls: with Monster High
Neighthan Rot.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Out of the Box: Rictor (Toy Biz X-Men/X-Force)

It's been a while since I've talked about a '90s action figure, so it's time to remedy that and unbox this 1994 Toy Biz figure of X-men spin-off character Julio Rictor (specifically an X-Force character at the time this toy's production, although I always think of the character as part of either the earlier New Mutants or the more recent X-Factor).

The figure has that classic early '90s superhero look, with the muscle-heavy body, an oversized weapon and a  ridiculous outfit (the character hasn't looked like this in the comics for a long time now).  The figure takes a final step into the completely absurd with the action feature which is called "Power Vibes" - you wind it up and he moves slightly.  The motion is supposed to recall the character's seismic/shockwave powers but it actually just looks like wiggling.

In the box.

Still, the ridiculous costume is well-painted, and while the lack of neck gives the face a certain oddness, it's not a terrible likeness of the then-current art style (although he's not so fair-skinned in the comics).  Strangely, the boots are a softer vinyl than the rest of the body and seem to have degraded over time, so they're now a bit greasy, which is unfortunate.

The figure has 8 points of articulation - shoulders, elbows, hips, knees.  The lack of neck articulation is a shame, but not a surprise given the lack of neck in general.

The lone accessory is the gun, which is decently sculpted and fits perfectly in the figure's hand.  Most impressively to me (given some toys of this age), he's able to balance easily with the gun in hand.
Side view: the wind-up knob is very conspicuous here.

Overall, I'm in love with the complete ridiculousness of this figure - it's not particular good, but I'm entertained, and that's the most important part, right? ;)

More of the same line.
What absurd features do they have? 
And do I need to hunt them down to find out?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Out of the Box: Prettie Girls Dahlia (One World Doll Project)

The Prettie Girls are a line of fashion dolls from The One World Doll Project.  Three dolls from the line have been on the market for nearly a year now, but I was waiting for the release of this particular doll, so this is my first in-person experience with the line.  Interestingly, the new releases showed up discounted on Zulily before they were available for sale on the official site!  I was surprised, but certianly not complaining about the discount (and I imagine it would be a solid way to build extra buzz for the line).

The five dolls in the line each share the same body type and head sculpt but have unique face screenings and hair types, and come in different skin tones (to go with the cultural/national themes that each is assigned).  Dahlia (whose description on the official site and box is now listed as Indian from Dehli, rather than the broad and vague "South Asian/Middle Eastern" that appeared on the website pre-release) has a dark straight hair (with two twists), what appears to be the second-darkest skintone of the line, and has been painted with a fairly soft and pleasant expression.

The packaging is quite attractive, although I did find it a little odd that the cartoon Dahlia on the box looks so different from the doll - everything from the pattern on her leggings to the colours of her hair, eyes and skin is unmatched.  Still, the box looks good and keeps the doll secure, and it wasn't too challenging to free her from the box (there were multiple tie-ins, but unlike some doll lines, they weren't taped over, so they were easy to snip).
In the box.

Each doll also comes with a unique outfit and set of accessories.  In this case, the outfit consists of a purple top and patterned leggings, along with a purse, two bracelets, a chucky necklace, hoop earrings and orange shoes.  The shoes appear to be vaguely wedge-like, probably because the doll's feet have neither the high arch of a Barbie or Monster High doll, nor the flat feet of an action figure or male fashion doll.

Going for a run (or showing off her outfit).

A clearer view of the joints
The shoes are fairly easily removed (and replaced), and are made of a softer vinyl than the jewlery pieces.  Unfortunately, that harder material makes it somewhat more challenging to get the bracelets on and off, and causes the necklace to hang in a slightly unnatural way.

The doll has 10 points of articulation (neck, chest, shoulders, elbows, knees), most of which have a solid range of movement. The knees are hinge joints, so they can only swing, but the other joints have rotation as well - the chest joint works particularly well at allowing the doll to be posed in more natural-looking positions.

The vinyl itself is uniform in colour and has a decent weight to it, although I felt that the legs felt a little bit lighter relative to the rest of the body (although not enough to throw the doll out of balance).

I wasn't able to get her to stand on her own, but given the not-quite-high-heel-feet,  I felt that it would probably have been possible with more patience, although I wouldn't count on her balancing for any length of time.  These dolls don't come with stands, but are compatible with the stands for a variety of other fashion dolls, so she's using a Monster High stand in the comparison photos below.

Between a Monster High and a Barbie.
Dahlia is slightly taller than the MH, and nearly identical in height
to Barbie (the slight difference is probably due to the heel height)
Between an Integrity Dynamite Girl & Barbie again

Overall, I'm quite impressed with this doll: she's a solid playline doll at a reasonable price, and I admire the creator's desire to create a more diverse line of dolls (although I confess that when I first read the old "South Asian/Middle Eastern" description, I briefly hoped that meant she'd be both - I have several nieces who are Indian/Mediterranean mixed, and the thought that someone was producing a doll with that background blew me away - but it seems that was just a generic placeholder).  Ideally, I would have preferred to see wrist articulation, since more and more lines are offering that, but at the same time it's certainly not a necessity, and the doll is lovely even if she can't quite wave to the camera.

A parting shot (in stronger lighting).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Out of the Box: Monster High Neighthan Rot

Neighthan Rot
I hope everyone had a great Halloween!  In keeping with the haunting season, how about a new monster?

Neighthan Rot is a (relatively) recent release from Monster High's "Freaky Fusion" series ("2 monsters in 1") and is a zombie unicorn.  A "zombicorn", as it says in the included journal.

In box.
I was surprised the first few times I saw him on the shelves since I rarely see the Monster High boy dolls (or "mansters" as they say on the boxes), and to see one sit on the shelf for more than a month was even more unusual.  I passed on him originally because I wasn't sure I needed more dolls from this line, but he was unique enough that he finally won me over.

As an aside before I get to the doll itself, as someone who doesn't particularly follow the character elements (the webisodes, movies and books), I was actually charmed by the journal with this one (part of which is the character sharing how his zombie father courted his unicorn mother). 

On to the doll!  Neighthan has a unique head-sculpt that includes horse ears, a blue translucent horn and sculpted zombie-style rotting flesh on half his face.  There isn't a huge amount of colour or detail to the face screening (probably since the grey vinyl does the job for a zombie), but the paint centred as it should be and gives the doll a pleasant expression (probably fitting for a unicorn).

His rooted hair is primarily black but with blue, red, and yellow stripes, all of which are quite vibrant.  He also has a tail (rooted at hip level in the back) that's made of the same hair type and colours.

Equally vibrant are his stand, hat, and boots (all a bright yellow) and his outfit.  The outfit continues the zombie theme with its brightly coloured internal organ theme on the shirt and muscles-and-ligaments themed pants.

Interestingly, given how many accessories were included with Jane Boolittle and the Music Festival Clawd and Draculaura, the baseball cap is the only accessory aside from the standard MH comb.  The cap is decently made (a soft vinyl with holes for the horn and ears), but does hide the colourful hair (or should I say mane?) that's my favourite feature on this doll.

Neighthan has what (at first) appears to be the standard MH boy body, but upon removing his outfit it turns out that his torso and every-other limb part were are actually unique and have the same zombie-style sculptural details as the face.

Clawd Wolf's Standard MH body vs. Neighthan Rot's half-zombie one.

Side view.

 Interestingly, I've found him to be easier to pose than any other Monster High doll that I've handled.  Since I don't see any engineering differences between this guy and Clawd, I think it's just random luck but I thought it worth mentioning in case anyone else has had similar experiences - I'd be curious to hear about it, if so!

 For a doll that I was hesitant to add to my collection, I've ended up deciding that he's actually one of the most endearing playline dolls I've owned - the absurdity of a zombie unicorn is just too much to not be charmed by, I think.
Classic Zombie Pose.