Sunday, 26 December 2021

Celebrating half a lifetime of doll collecting (next week)

The doll that started it all was the 2004 California Girl Barbie. At that time I couldn't even dream I would have more than the one doll, let alone a collection of over a hundred, so I spent weeks choosing the best option. I was turning 17 and my parents let me have a real Barbie for my birthday. I had plenty of dolls when I was a kid, but I never liked Barbie. My sister and I played with hefty child dolls that we either held birthday parties for, or took to the "doctor". I didn't understand the appeal of the grown-up skinny doll with tiny accessories that got lost. Even when I grew up a little and became interested in fashion, I didn't like her grinning face with electric blue eyes. At that time Barbie had one rival, it was Sindy during her normally-sized head phase. Even though I never as much as held either of these dolls, I was team Sindy all the way and an ardent Barbie hater. But time passed, I changed, and most importantly, Barbie changed... so in a couple of years I found myself longingly eyeing the doll shelves.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

How to improve a neck joint

Hi everyone! The past year has pushed the limits of my ability to use the unusable and make do with cheap things. In this quick post I will show you how I add up and down movement to a neck joint that only provides rotation.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Quarantine Tess (flea market rescue)

Hey guys! It may look like I've abandoned blogging, but actually I've been busier than when I posted every month. Today I have a picture-heavy project that took a year to complete, with long breaks and an apartment change a few months into it. I'm pretty much settled in right now and I hope to appear more alive online, not just posting but also reading and supporting my fellow bloggers. I am not making any promises for the future or excuses for my absence, instead let me show you today a doll that I'm very proud of!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Monster High repair trick

Hey everyone! I was excited to show you a couple of dolls I bought used from a fellow collector. However one of them, this Clawdeen, was in no shape to be displayed. She had a common MH problem - missing both hands and a forearm. In this post I'll show you my cheap solution for it.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Zodiac MMGirls Part 1: Earth signs and overview

One beautiful day last November I was browsing the Fortune Days website to see what else they had come up with after my beloved MMGirls. I was very excited to see the entire first page of the MMGirl section was changed - all the dolls there had brown eyes and a zodiac theme! Now, the zodiac series is sold in every doll store but at that time I couldn't find anything about them except the one promo picture for each doll. The suspense was killing me, I knew I'd like them even without seeing the details so I emailed the manufacturer. They said the dolls were already available at their warehouse. About 40 messages later, my order of a full set was on its way.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Miniature daisies/chrysanthemums tutorial

Hello everyone! Out of several different projects and posts I was working on at the same time, this is the one I managed to finish first. Quite surprisingly, because I had some doll reviews I wanted to get out before anyone else and also another miniature dollhouse set I completed. I guess while I was making the rose bouquet for the dollhouse I got so frustrated I had to make something else my way... I had a bunch of cool supplies waiting in their envelopes, and this is how this project was born.

So, let's take a look at the process behind and all the necessary supplies, shall we?

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Holiday wreaths for dolls

I came across a simple way of making cute 1:6th wreaths a couple of years ago, sent a few to friends, and this time I had the obsessive idea of making a bunch of them to photograph together. Do you want to see how to make them too? I don't start decorating until the 24th, so this is actually me giving you a headstart :D These take very little time, don't worry!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Winter in a bubble, or miniature hell

You guys know I'm no stranger to extreme miniature crafts. I came across this dollhouse kit a while ago and I thought it was too cute to pass! I just assembled it recently and thought I'd share the experience. I wasn't into dollhouses... but this is no boring 1:12th scale, it's a tiny winter scene in a snow globe, with furniture and everything. How perfect is that?

Monday, 16 October 2017

Full set Kinder Surprise Barbie 2016

Hey everyone! I have yet another new thing to show you. Remember how a while ago I found a tiny Barbie in a Kinder Surprise egg and repainted it? Since then I became obsessed with finding more, preferably the whole series! I had so much fun with that custom and I love miniatures in general. There are tons of reviews about these, many in the unboxing video format that is a lot more exciting, but since mine will all be getting makeovers, I feel a "before" presentation is in order.

Monday, 9 October 2017

MMGirl dolls Rose and Mandy by Fortune Days (Debisheng Ltd)

Hi everyone! A few weeks ago, I was checking some doll stores on Aliexpress and something caught my attention in the "Recommended" section - beautiful articulated dolls with intricate outfits that to me looked a lot like J-dolls. Unless this is your first time on my page (in which case, hi!), you'll know J-dolls are my absolute favourite dolls and anything remotely similar to them is welcome in my collection. I was going to get a couple more Xinyi dolls - they make boys now too! - but these new dolls got me intrigued and I found no reviews about them at the time. Plus, they came with full outfits, while Xinyi are nude. Curiosity won and I picked two of the dressed dolls, which I'll review today.

Choosing them was a separate adventure. As I said, no reviews except sparse customer feedback and no informative description. A few promo photos and bad Google Translate was all I could rely upon. I tried to find out at least if they had rooted or wigged hair. Only two options, right? The seller's reply was precious:
"yes, the doll have wigs and the hair is rooted"

The dolls are called MMGirl and most sellers had an assortment of six characters. Somehow, after many "you may also like"s I came across a seller that had the same six dolls, plus a bunch more from the same series. I wonder that I found them at all because there is no "MMGirl" anywhere in the item description. In fact, the ones I bought are called "ICY blyth doll funtune days xiaojing pink hair with dress shoes stand box souvenir gift toy 30cm 1/6"
Anyway, the variety was very welcome because I had to buy at least two to take advantage of some discounts and coupons. Their regular price is 55$ a piece, but up to now I haven't seen them offered for the full price, it's always discounted to half. Substract the app discount, the bulk order discount and other perks, it came to under 50$ for the duo. Compared to my beloved J-dolls, which cost nowadays upwards of 100$, the price is a real bargain even if they are a forth of what the promo photos promise. So let's see what came in the mail a month later, shall we?

A big, pleasantly heavy box. I like big boxes, means there's lots of stuff inside. Once unwrapped, this turned out to be two small boxes bound together with bubble wrap. Each box had "DBS" and some Chinese writing on the sides. I swear I could not get a cat-less photo! Apparently they find the smell of stale cardboard irresistible.

The outer shipping box fits snugly against the display box with the doll. DBS is not a logistics company, I think it stands for Debisheng, which is the manufacturer of MMGirl. We'll see these initials again later.

Despite the bubble wrap and the extra boxes, the doll boxes arrived a little squished. But the dolls inside are intact and really beautiful! Aaah!

Let's take a closer look at the MMGirl box. I'll start with the one I pulled out first, which is Rose, the one in the red dress. I like the simplicity of this box, a matte lavender with a faint pattern and a transparent plastic window that shows most of the contents. It bears the name of the brand - Fortune Days (F&D Toy) and the product name - MMGirl.

The sides are plain. This is the back of the box:

Here most of the text is in Chinese. All I can make out is the manufacturer's website, "please recycle" and "for ages 8 and up" (probably).

I checked their website eagerly to find more information about these dolls and the company that makes them. It is not up every day, but I was able to browse it a couple of times and gather that Fortune Days, who makes MMGirl, is a brand name of the toy manufacturer Debisheng and they have three main doll lines that use the same body and head sculpt:

  • Oriental Charm, a line of collector dolls in splendid traditional costumes
  • Xiaojing, girls in fantasy inspired dresses
  • and MMGirl, who also wear fantasy costumes and differ from Xiaojing only by the style of face painting

The website doesn't have a shop, but it has a gallery. I saw some designs there that aren't on Aliexpress yet. I tried in vain to find this gorgeous Oriental Charm doll for sale:

I'll show you on another doll I found on Alixpress, but not in the website gallery. That headdress and shoulder thing though! *sniff* *sniff*

This is also where I found the names of the characters I bought. Red dress is Rose 02 and Orange dress is Mandy. Let's get back to Rose. A cardboard insert slides out of the display box:

The doll is held by two twist ties and a plastic film strip. An additional film strip is supposed to keep the hair neat, but mine malfunctioned.

Some bagged accessories and the stand are taped at the bottom.

The stand base pokes through a hole in the insert. The rest of it is hidden behind:

I like the minimalist packaging! My only complaint is that the stand isn't bagged so the tape left a lot of sticky residue.
This is everything that came in Rose's box:

There is no way I could go further with that fringe sticking out like Cameron Diaz's in "There's something about Mary". Fast forward a day, Rose is ready for pictures. Just one disclaimer...

In this review, neither doll is wearing the stock shoes! More about that later.

It appears that all the dolls in this particular series wear leather look outfits. I would describe Rose's style as punk fetish pirate Tinkerbell. Add the original cowboy boots for further confusion. Many MMGirl outfits seem inspired by tacky Halloween and cosplay costumes, but they are so detailed and well made that it works.
Rose here has a two piece dress that consists of a short skirt and a sort of tunic vest with decorative corset lacing. The ensemble is embellished with lace and metal spikes. 

The top piece is made to look like an underbust corset cinched over a red vest, but it's one whole piece that closes at the back with thin hook and loop tape.

The black is glossy vinyl and the red is a matte raincoat fabric. I like the contrast. The same fabrics are used for other accessories - sleeves...

...and collar:

The outfit is completed by black mesh tights and a flower barrette with feathers.

The back of the barrette:

It's a bit chunky for this scale, but it works. I might replace the alligator with a snap clip, but due to having two cats and zero closed displays, I don't think I'll be using the barrette a lot.

Rose also came with red plastic cowboy boots packaged separately. From what I understand, none of the MMGirl dolls have fitting shoes. In fact, their shoes are borrowed from other doll lines. These look like Blythe boots. Xiaojing and Oriental Charm dolls have flat leather boots though.

They can be pulled over Rose's feet, but look weird.

Finding nice flat shoes for dolls is almost as hard as it is for humans, but I remembered I had Charing Cross's massive leather boots just gathering dust. They fit nicely, so you'll be seeing them throughout the review. I wish the guys from Fortune Days thought this through!

Another point most buyers complain about is the stand. All dolls come with the same pink stand that consists of a base and a jointed piece with a waist grip.

The peg inserts into the base securely in a way that doesn't allow rotation and the waist grip is adjustable. It all goes downhill from here.

The stand has five(!) hinge joints, plus a rotation joint next to the waist grip. It looks sophisticated, but all the extra joints make the stand tip and buckle under the weight of the doll. I can't think of a reason why a stand could ever need more than three joints.

The bottom of the base shows some of that sticky residue from the packing tape I was talking about. It also has the copyright info of the manufacturer.

The other side has the Fortune Days logo written in a pretty font:

Now that the technical part is over, let's take a look at Rose's beautiful face:

All the Fortune Days dolls have inset eyes and applied eyelashes. Oriental Charm have brown eyes, while MMGirl and Xiaojing have blue eyes. Their hair is rooted.

I think she looks great from every angle.

In the above photo you can notice some thin areas in the hair. It's actually not that sparsely rooted but the fiber itself is very delicate, unlike any other doll hair I've seen.

I had to soak it with hair gel too because it wouldn't style with heat. Remember the squished fringe from the beginning? I boil washed it and held it down with a hair band but ultimately I gelled it up. I love the hair though, it looks rough and wiry because it doesn't hold a style, but it's incredibly thin, soft and smooth.The colour variety is curious, most dolls have unusual hair colours. Rose has knee-long wavy gunmetal hair.

We'll return to Rose later, are you excited to see Mandy? Here is she with all her stuff: the stand, a one-piece halter dress, sleeves, a pair of shoes, hair accessory and the white ribbon hanging from under her skirt which I'll explain in a moment. The shoes she's wearing are made by me.

Her outfit looks like the bastard child of a "sexy" Halloween witch and Lolita maid but it has so many details I had to have it.

Check out those ribbons on the bodice and the lace trim on the bow!

The dress is made of a leathery orange fabric and the black parts are from taffeta, I think. The colour doesn't render correctly, it's actually between carrot and orange highlighter. It wouldn't have been my first choice for a doll with pale pink hair, but it's a fabulous dress by itself. I just think it would look better if it were shorter.

The bodice pieces are lined with tulle:

Some of the black trims touch the doll and there is some staining at the waist and on the arms. The dress even stained itself in some places:

I'm not sure how to wash such fabrics so I just made peace with the fact that I have a whimsical high contrast dress that may stain. There is very little black inside and the orange is white on the wrong side. The clothing has a DBS label.

The back of the dress is nicely finished and closes with hook and loop tape.

The sleeves are separate from the dress.

I forgot to take pictures of the hair thing, probably because it kept sliding off the slick hair. I laughed at the way it was packaged (rubber-banded to thin strands of hair), but now it makes sense. It has lace ruffles and black half pearls.

The last item of clothing is a pair of lace panties with huge side ties. It's a little crooked and doesn't have the white half pearls advertised in the promo photos, but I don't care about doll underwear so whatever. You can also see some of that body staining I mentioned.

The shoes she came with are very soft rubbery heels so she can technically squeeze into them but they look even more ridiculous than the boots. She wears handmade flats in my pictures.

Mandy is one of the few MMGirl dolls without a fringe and boy, is that style unflattering. I find the hairline too high, like a misaligned wig.

It does have a center part, which allowed me to cut a fringe after the review. The scalp is painted a brighter pink than the hair.

From the back, it looks about the same as Rose's, but in a gorgeous dusty pale pink.

Before I discuss Mandy's face, I just need to say one thing. It doesn't look like the promo pictures. When ordering the dolls, I liked her better than Rose and couldn't understand why it was the other way around when they arrived. Until I pulled the photos from my Aliexpress order:

The promo photos show Mandy with inner eyeliner, darker eyelid crease and lower lashes, darker lips and different eyebrows - like Rose.

Her actual makeup is similar, but not identical, to Xiaojing dolls. I'm not sure if this is a one-off fluke or if they changed the makeup for all Mandy dolls. It's weird because the rest of her (well, minus the rhinestones on the panties) is exactly like the prototype photos.
Anyway, enjoy one last half-profile before we undress her for technical photos.

Let's start with the face. She has gradient eyebrows with some criss-cross hairs, black eyelid crease and black painted lower lashes that start at the edge of a bright pink waterline. Her lips are the same shade of pink.

The pink waterline looks particularly disturbing when her head is down. It's even brighter in real life. The creepiness is aggravated by the big bald forehead.

As you see, the neck joint has a pretty good range of movement. It moves up and down, side to side and tilts sideways too.

I have no idea where the neck crack came from, I didn't notice it until editing and Rose doesn't have one

Check out more angles of Mandy's face. The inset eyes with the applied eyelashes are a striking feature.

Here are the eyelashes from the top. For a 1/6th doll, they look really good.

I bet you're dying to see the body by this point! A warning, though - I'm usually not a stickler about doll nudity, but you may want to cover your kids' eyes for what follows. I wasn't prepared for this:

Not this, this:

They stick out horizontally and have big nipples.

I have to admit, the cleavage looks great in that dress, but without it it's pretty shocking... And the nipples, why so big? Why put nipples on a doll at all?

Ok, back to the body. I counted 13 joints - head, torso, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees. The feet are flat and there's no ankle joint. The plastic of the doll is velvety matte, smooth and very pleasant to the touch. There's only one shiny area at the torso joint. Here's Mandy trying the side splits and checking the shoulder joints:

Her front to back splits are better:

Her knees bend about 90 degrees, but they buckle often. Some of her other joints are a little loose as well, most notably her torso joint.

Both the hips and the knees have rotation, so many poses can be achieved. I'll leave that to your imagination, because I hurried this photoshoot during the brightest hours of two overcast days and somehow naked gymnastics with Mandy slipped my mind.

The arms have interesting articulation. The elbow looks like it's double-jointed, but it's not. One side of the forearm and upper arm is carved to flex better when they are aligned just right.

The arm twists at the elbow, so this level of flexibility is hard to achieve, especially when the joint is covered with clothes. If only they put the rotating joint in the upper arm, the problem would be fixed. When the joint is misaligned, the elbow bends to a straight angle.
The wrists rotate and bend to a straight angle as well and the hands are removable.

Fortune Days dolls have an expressive hand mould that provides opportunities for many useful gestures like nipple fondling, nose picking or that thing they do in Orthodox icons.

It's interesting to notice the relative size of the hands and feet:

Here are the feet closer up. I think they have a weird shape:

Lastly, the body joints. The waist twists all the way around and looks almost seamless. I like how it's circular in section, yet the shape looks fairly natural. Well, maybe not from this angle:

The butt is funny though! Looks like an apple, but it's not bad under clothes.
The torso joint flops up and down and has no side movement. It doesn't hold a pose so I didn't take pictures.

Where do MMGirls stand among other 1/6th dolls, you ask? Remember what I said about them looking like a poor man's J-Doll? The inset eyes, the intricate outfits, the crazy hair, the way they are packaged... Well, the first thing that stroke me when I got Rose's box out of the cardboard shipper was that she was definitely not like a J-doll.

She's just so huge and those legs are so long! In fact, you are now looking at my biggest and my shortest 1/6th dolls together. Just for fun, I swapped some of their clothes. Due to the thin waist, Takeshita's hip skirt fits. Rose's clothes are loose on the J-Doll body.

Here's Mandy trying to pull off a floor length J-doll dress with generous ruffles at the bust:

So, how big are they exactly?
They measure about 31 cm head to toe. I put a lineup of some of my other dolls: Tall Barbie, regular Barbie (jointed Style) and J-Doll. Mandy is about as tall as Tall Barbie and that one has half heels!

I deliberately excluded Xinyi from this group because I wanted to compare her separately (well, that, and my photoshoot area is too narrow). The thing is, I got a Xinyi doll with inset eyes after reviewing the one with painted eyes. Her head is a lot bigger than the first version, so much that she reminded me of LIV dolls. When I saw how huge MMGirls are, I wondered if Xinyi's head is copied from them.

I'm one of these people for whom all human features look the same until pointed out, but even I could see they are different:

Xinyi's head is smaller, with a pointy chin, slimmer jaw, poutier lips with a dimple in the lower one, a distinct philtrum and bigger eye sockets. Someone who's better at noticing things will probably say their noses and ears are different too.

Needless to say, they have different skintones and makeup. The provenience of Xinyi's head remains a mystery. Mandy has "MM Girl" written on the back of her head and Xinyi doesn't have anything.

Regardless of their skintone difference, I wanted to see if they could at least swap hands. They look fairly similar in size and I have a spare.

I also pulled a removable J-Doll hand for comparison. Unfortunately, MMGirl's peg is thicker. It can't squeeze into Xinyi's arm.

I could wrap the peg in washi tape to make it stay, but the colour difference is really jarring now:

So that's a no for the hands, but what else can be swapped? We established that Mandy is about the size of tall Barbie, so maybe she could wear her outfit?

I don't think there's a 1/6th doll that wouldn't fit into these shapeless clothes! I tried the clothes my tall Barbie is actually wearing, a Cali Girl outfit:

Ignoring the fact that the bootcut jeans became capri trousers and the long sleeves became 3/4, it's not too bad. I was actually surprised the jeans accommodate both the waistless Barbie and curvy MMGirl. Without the blouse, it becomes clear that the outfit was not made for her though:

Next, I tried a budget Barbie dress:

In spite of her different proportions, Mandy can wear it surprisingly well. In fact, her torso is as long as Barbie's and the chest, waist and hips measurements differ only slightly. They can share skirts and dresses, but not tights and trousers. There's just one problem with this dress:

Yup. Let's try a non-stretchy fabric:

The design of this dress makes it look short even though it ends well below the crotch.

It even closes perfectly in the back:

The colours suit her way better than the original outfit. Why did it have to be orange? Why not a pale pink like her hair or at least white? Surely white fabric is easy to find? Ahh...

Even better when she's seated!

I couldn't let that beautifully detailed dress sit in storage though so I tried it on my MTM soccer player:

The sleeves were almost impossible to put on, the bodice is a little loose and doesn't frame the cleavage so nicely, and I still think the dress should be shorter, but don't they look like they were made for each other?

I wanted to give this dress to a darker doll with curly hair, but she looked washed out in it so the soccer player got to keep the dress, after which I whipped her a quick hairstyle. I'm so in love with how she turned out!

The plan was to separate Mandy from her dress anyway, so while I haven't found something I like for her to wear, I'm very happy the dress got a perfect doll match.
Lastly, I remembered I had a Fashion Avenue dress made for TNT Barbies:

It's a little loose but I like the knee length it has on her. This is the dress she got to keep while waiting for something handmade. The shoes are Converse-style sneakers I received as a bonus to a order of doll shoes. They have moulded stars on the sides and a dog head on the tongue and are either from Barbie or from Licca. Some Barbie flats fit MMGirl...

Pink sneakers with dog head, soccer shoes from MTM soccer Barbie

... more or less:

Non-stretchy shoes like Ruby Red's black mary janes don't fit. Flats from Curvy or Tall Barbies should fit, but I don't have any to check. I have these Licca shoes that are the same size and they do fit in theory:

However, MMGirls need a completely flat heel. These won't work if she's going to stand:

Phew! I ran out of things to try for now. The current status is that:
- I'm looking for more shoes
- Rose is pretty much perfect, except the lips, eyebrows and a tiny change to her outfit.
- the MTM soccer player (she really needs a name...) is perfect in her new outfit
- Mandy got her hair cut and quick eyeliner and is waiting for touchups and custom clothes
- I really want one of those Oriental Charm dolls. Maybe some Xiaojings with cool outfits too.

December 2017 update: I wanted to show you how presentable Mandy looks right now. Still no idea how to do her lipstick, maybe black?

I can only describe this style as pastel Joan Jett :D

Dress - SpinMaster (modified)
Jacket - flea market Hanna Montana clone
Pink fishnets - Aliexpress Kurhn outfit
Legwarmers: ILF Abbey (MH)
Scarf - MH Rochelle (GNO?)
Bag, shoes, bracelet - separates from Aliexpress seller Sellyougood
Belt - J-doll Josephsplatz

To summarize, I'm very happy about this purchase. These dolls are so different from everything else in my collection and they are really beautiful, detailed and well made. Some of the dolls seem randomly paired with their outfits. The good news is that they can share many clothes with popular dolls like Barbie. The bad news is that their feet have no arch, no ankle joint and sharing shoes is more difficult. One major oversight are the ill-fitting stock shoes. Overall though, I think they are well worth the price I paid, and possibly even the full price of 55$. The hair, the inset eyes, the substantial size, the texture, the hands, the outfits are all things that exceeded my expectations and I'm enjoying the MMGirl dolls very much. Fortune Days, you have a new fan!

The Black Kitty