Today I received my first doll from the Fresh Dolls line. Her name is Jacqueline and she is a lot curvier than a Barbie doll. The Fresh Dolls are “black” dolls, made to more closely resemble African American women than the typical Barbie doll. Here’s Jacqueline, whose description states that she is “mixed,” which I interpret as resembling a woman of both European and African ancestry. She will, of course, be joining the West Enders!
Jacqueline’s arrival made me wonder how many different “playscale” doll types I actually have among the West Enders. Almost all of my dolls are Mattel’s Barbie, friends, and family.
This version of Barbie is a reproduction of the doll I had as a child, the first Barbie ever produced, in 1959. Barbie will always be a brunette to me. As a child, she represented the adult world of my mother, who had dark brunette hair.
In my other universe, I am a biological anthropologist, and one of the things we concern ourselves with is human diversity. It’s been very important to me to reflect human diversity in my miniature universe; not just skin colour and geographic origin, but body shape as well. Barbie has been accused of promoting a negative body image for girls. As a person who has gone from being an excruciatingly thin young woman to a fat old lady, I definitely want to include that in my mini-universe. One of my favourite dolls is this one from the second film version of Hairspray. I love her because she is built like me.
One of the first “plus-size” fashion dolls was Dasia, one of the Big Beautiful Dolls created by Audrey Bell Kearney and Georgette Taylor. Nobody ever parts with these dolls and I was extraordinarily lucky to buy one of the 18th anniversary dolls. She’s stunning.
Another doll created to counter Barbie’s unrealistic physique is Lammily. There are three dolls, and I have been one of those who participated in the crowd funding for all of them. Lammily dolls are based on the proportions of average 18 year old Americans. The main issue with the dolls is that they are difficult to dress. Barbie’s body was actually designed the way to facilitate getting her clothes on and off rather than to reflect an actual human being! Here’s my favourite Lammily doll, and I think the most beautiful of all of them, who regular readers of the blog will know as Emma.
Venturing beyond the American doll market, there are a number of playscale fashion dolls. Here is Steffi, who readers of the West Enders will also recognise. Steffi is a Barbie clone produced by the German company Simba Toys. She is very similar to Barbie, with a male companion and a number of small children. There are clothes and lots of fun accessories for this doll line and the West Enders include quite a few of them.
Barbie is known around the world, but in China, Japan, and South Korea, playscale fashion dolls have been produced that reflect the cultural values of those countries far better than Barbie. (I might add here that I sadly do not own any of the quintessentially British Sindy dolls.) The Asian fashion dolls reflect the popularity of manga and anime. Kurhn is a Chinese fashion doll and is indescribably cute. Regular readers of the blog will recognise her as a central character in the West Enders.
There are several wonderful Japanese fashion dolls. Takara Tomy produces both Jenny and Licca-chan and her family and several of these dolls play roles in the West Enders. Here’s the very cute Jenny.
My favourite Japanese fashion doll is Momoko. These dolls are stunning, have amazing clothes, but are also very delicate – and very expensive! I have four now and I love all of them. Here’s the latest addition to the West Enders, the lovely Himari.
Pullip dolls come from South Korea and are part of a group of dolls with very large heads and big eyes. I just can’t find any enthusiasm for them. But Pullip bodies are used in J-Dolls, one of which is a character from the West Enders, our young Jazmin.
Another recent purchase of mine is a South African doll, Maisha from Malaville Dolls. This is another company dedicated to providing young black children with dolls that look like them rather than the ubiquitous “white” dolls available. Maisha is so cute and has very dark skin. She’s a delight to behold. I should mention that I love it when “black” dolls have natural hair like this. Maisha and Emma are both good examples.
Here’s another new arrival with marvellous hair. I don’t know who actually makes these dolls. I saw her in a Facebook group and hunted her down. There are a number of these available on Amazon, but they seem to come from different sellers. All I know is that they are produced in China and have articulated bodies and fabulous hair.
Many collectors adore Integrity Toys’ various dolls, which come in 12.5 inch and 16 inch versions. I have to say that they are not my favourites. Their faces are sullen and unpleasant and I do not understand how collectors find them attractive. To each his or her own! I decided that I wanted to own one so that I could say my collection included this particular variety of playscale doll. I’m a story teller more than I am a collector, but yes, there’s a bit of “collector” in there as well! This is Liu Liu Ling and she has one of the least offensive faces among the Integrity family of dolls, in my opinion. I do hope to add some of their male dolls as one or two of them don’t look like they’ve been sucking on lemons all day!
Another recent addition to my playscale family is the WWE action figures. I don’t find them at all attractive but they make great evil enemies in my stories, like this one. I mean, face it, who wants to meet her in a dark alley?
Before I leave my female dolls, I need to add the first doll I ever collected as an adult, this Marilyn Monroe doll. I think I bought her in the 1980s or 1990s. Her outfit, the white skirt from The Seven Year Itch, has disintegrated. Both hands have snapped off. She’s not attractive, bearing only a passing resemblance to Marilyn, but I just can’t abandon her.
So those are my adult female dolls. What about the males? Trying to find male dolls is what inspired me to branch out beyond Mattel. The recent male dolls, Ken and his ilk, have horrible plastic hair and immovable limbs. They are awful, although one or two have reasonably attractive faces. I got very tired of trying to find male dolls for my ladies and in desperation, I turned to a group of dolls produced for girls who love boy bands. There are a large variety of them and I have quite a few. Here’s one as an example, a recent and quite good looking one, Max George from The Wanted. Who are The Wanted? I haven’t a clue. People, I’m 65 years old – boy bands are not my thing. I have no idea who any of my boy band dolls are in real life! They are shorter than Ken and make good partners for Momoko and Lammily dolls.
My quest for articulated male dolls with rooted hair took me in many directions. My absolute favourite, and a principle character in the West Enders, is our lad Sutton. He’s just so delightful. His romance with Merida has been a joy to write. I found him on eBay, “gently used,” which meant something very different to the seller than to me. I had to glue his waist articulation to keep him from flopping over completely, but I didn’t care. I love him!
My blog is super heteronormative. I realise that and wish that I were a better writer and could branch out a bit. Unfortunately, all my characters are heterosexual, which doesn’t reflect human diversity at all. It is a failing. That said, let me introduce my High School Musical Doll, who I call Corbin. He’s Suttons’ opposite – short where Sutton is tall, but just as loveable in his own way. He reminds me of my role as the mother of a teenage son many years ago. He’s charming and completely irresponsible – and very cute.
The lack of diversity in male dolls has been horrendously frustrating. I had no male Asian dolls – none. In desperation, after seeing a YouTube review, I turned to the World Peacekeeper series – cheap articulated 1:6 scale action figures. I’ve managed to find two “Asians” to add to my collection, the most notable of which is Tommy Lu, a major character in the West Enders.
Next come the “big head” boys. In my desperation for articulated male dolls, I turned to the Ever After High dolls. Here’s Dexter, whose head is abnormally large. But his articulation is fabulous and he plays a mean guitar.
An even more ridiculously sized head characterises poor Jake, from the Liv doll series. My husband constantly mocks him every time he comes into the doll room. Poor Jake! But like Dexter, his articulation is amazing.
Then there are the “one off” male dolls, purchased purely to move my story forward. My husband told me my blog, with its focus on romance, was dull as a soap opera. I needed a villain. Who better to be a villain than the unmentionable POTUS? He even talks, but I don’t push that button very often. I mean, is this guy not the very embodiment of evil in dolly form? But this is where I feel my age creep up on me. The white cat – Ernst Stavros Blofeld anyone?
And this character is even worse for making me feel old, even though I was beside myself when I found him. Illya Kuryakin, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. I googled it and I found him. I knew I needed a Russian spy…
But then my husband asked our grand-daughter-in-law if she knew who Illya Kuryakin was, the simple and straightforward answer was no. I feel so old.
Now that I’ve covered the adult women and men in my dolly universe, I want to touch on the children very briefly. Both Mattel and Simba Toys have children, as does Takara Tomy. So what else is out there that works as a child for a playscale family?
First and foremost are Lottie dolls. They are meant to be around 9 years old, but relative to a Barbie doll they are a bit smaller than that. Mine are all meant to be around 8 years old. They are very cute and reminiscent of the Asian anime and manga inspired dolls.
Another doll that playscale collectors might not recognise as perfect children is the Mini-American Girl doll, which recently evolved into the Lori Doll line.
Those are all the various types of dolls in my collection of playscale dolls. I know I am missing a few types of dolls like Sindy, plus all the 1:6 scale action figures. What do you collect? Please feel free to comment – I’d love to know how my fellow photo story bloggers deal with the lack of articulated male dolls with rooted hair, for example. Who else am I missing? I’d love to hear from all of you!
12 thoughts on “Interlude: How many “fashion dolls” or “playscale” dolls are out there?”
This is a great overview of your characters, it was very interesting to read! Now that I have written a doll story too (episode one is going to be published soon now!), I noticed that finding male dolls is not as easy as finding the women. I was so thrilled to find a Four doll from Mattel for a little price, because he has rooted hair ànd is articulated! And I search for action figure heads to put on cheap action figure bodies. They come in different heights, so that is a plus! I don’t mind that they have molded hair so much, as long as they can at least move :-).
I love your Illya Kuryakin! He is the perfect spy. I’m a bit younger than you, 50, but I know the Man from U.N.C.L.E. :-). The boys bands are unknown territory for me as well, but there are such dolls out there that indeed work well for a doll story!
I think you are doing a great job with all the characters, and with the story. The variety of “people” makes it interesting and realistic. And your villains are just awesome!
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Thank you so much!
And I can’t wait to see your first story!
This post made me smile as we are both from the same generation (you knew that!) It was interesting to see your comments of various types of dolls that you own. We do have a lot of the same types of dolls! Because I also wanted male dolls in my collection, I had to branch out too from Ken dolls as originally, there were only a couple of different headsculpts and not every girl wanted to be with the same generic guy (LOL). I own several Action figure guys who initially tended to be short, but when the makers of these figures started offering taller bodies a few years ago, my collection grew exponentially! I do also have a pretty large collection of Integrity toys dolls, both guys and gals.
Articulation is a must for me whether its male or female, young or old so about 90% of my dolls have been put on articulated bodies. For example, all of my Fashionistas gals have been rebodied to either MTM, pivotal or the old Fashionista jointed bodies (many varieties of those). My males have either articulated Ken bodies (like Texas A&M cheerleader type body) or Action figure bodies. I also make my own hybrid bodies just to give a doll articulation. For my younger kids, I use Azone Pure Neemo bodies. While they don’t have a lot of different skin tones, they do offer XS, S, M and L sized bodies for girls and XS, S and M bodies for boys. I also have a few Obitsu bodies and lately have purchased their new 24 cm body which is great! I am not a fan of big headed dolls, but have purchased the LIV gals and LIV Jake dolls to use as body donors as well the Ever After High boys!
Oh, and I just wanted to add a comment about your Lori dolls. They are an extension of the Our Generation minis made by Battat for Target (Lori is also made by Battat). They were made to compete with the American Girl Minis and are generally less expensive that the AG dolls. Battat also makes 18 in Our Generation dolls that compete with the 18 in American Girls. And of course, I own some of all 3 of the minis (Lori, OG and AG!)
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Thank you so much for all this information! I didn’t know about the Lori and mini-American girl dolls as we don’t have Target here. I bought the doll in the photo on eBay and we can get the Lori dolls on Amazon. I have been less adventurous than you in finding articulated bodies – I should branch out a bit! I have a Ruruko doll on an Azone XS Pure Neemo but I am always nervous about cross-brand swaps in case the head pins don’t match.
I love your blog by the way and I always try to comment but for some reason I can’t seem to do so. I’ve tried with my Google account and with my WordPress account and my comments seem to vanish. A lot of people have told me that their comments vanish on my blog too. 😟
I used to be nervous to about cross brand head swaps, but have become quite adept at making modifications to make them fit. I use anything from rubber bands to duck tape to making cardboard tabs to make a head fit on another body. I have even modified some head openings to make a fit too!
Sorry to hear that you have had a problem with comments on my blog. I do see your comments quite often and always enjoy reading them. Do you have a blogger account? You can create one just to make comments — you don’t need to have a blog on Blogger to have an account. I created a Word Press account so I could make comments on the WP blogs I follow.
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Oh, great idea! Thank you!
I found your post informational, entertaining and funny! Thank you for taking the time to put it together 🙂 Lots of great resources I didn’t know about. I’ve been looking outside the box for articulated fashion dolls, especially men, to integrate with my Barbie family without overspending. This really helps!
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I’m so glad to hear that. I wish Mattel would get the message!
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Great doll review. For articulated males, mine are all from movie spin offs, like one from Divergent 4. But, for really great articulated male dolls, I had to go to hot toys or similar knockoffs on aliexpress. Terrific faces (I got a Michael Caine), and very flexible bodies.
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HI, I know this comment isn’t very timely, but I just found your blog. I love it. We have many similar dolls, although I am definitely an Integrity lover. Those faces really draw me. The big smiles of a lot of the barbies are too much for me. I found a site that instructed on how to cut out the whites and close the smiles.
The GI Joes and other action figures are usually too short, so I remove the feet, add some length to the leg and hide it all in a boot. Most of my dolls are rebodied in some way. I love the Liv bodies. They’re inexpensive, readily available and the articulation is awesome
You have inspired me to get a POTUS doll. Your storyline makes me laugh and I’m thinking that with the right clothing that I can turn him into a relatively attractive cross dresser. 🙂
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I’m so glad you like the blog! I just bought a new Integrity doll, Isha Kalpana Narayanan, and I think she’s gorgeous. That’s a fun idea for a POTUS doll!