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My Kidz n Cats doll of the same name

Elinor – Carpatina Veronika

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Portrait of Elinor

This elegant lady is Elinor, one of the 18″ slim body dolls from American company Carpatina. The line of Fantasy Adventures dolls was launched in 2002 and currently consists of 7 girl dolls and 2 boys. The company specifies “slim body” to make it clear that the dolls and clothes for same are different from chunkier soft body dolls such as American Girl (for which the company also make a range of clothes).

I’ve long admired the Carpatina range so was thrilled to find them being offered here in the UK by My Doll Best Friend as well as the official European distributor, Dragonflies Dream. The dolls haven’t gone through the process to market them as play dolls for children in the EU so are sold here as collectibles only.

Elinor box shot

Elinor arrived in a sturdy and attractive blue box with a see through window, though as you can see the doll herself was hidden behind tissue paper.

Elinor revealed

And here she is, “sleeping” in her box quite peacefully.

Elinor box close-up

The doll is held securely in her box with white ribbons, with foam padding protecting her neck and her hands safely encased in plastic for protection.

Elinor hands in plastic

Attached is a small catalogue of the other dolls in the series.

Elinor hairnet

And yet again the wonderful hairnet keeping her long dark locks under control for transport – as I’ve said previously the ribbon and hairnet combo always gets my vote for packaging choices over and above plastic ties and unsecured hair.

Elinor posing

Once completely unboxed you can see what a true beauty she really is. She is all-vinyl, with jointed arms and legs and a turning, tilting head, as well as sleep eyes.

All the dolls in this series look more adult than the child-like Kidz n Cats range, and the fantasy ranged clothing reflects that. Her outfit consists of a red renaissance style gown with silver brocade; the website states its a burgundy mediaeval gown in cotton and silk but the actual fabric is rather thicker than it looks, almost towards a felt, though it does hold its shape nicely.

The sleeves are long and flow down over Elinor’s wrists to end in a point, and the silver embroidery is echoed on the upper arms.

I especially like the silver lacing up the bodice..

Detail of Elinor's dress

..which is repeated on the back of the gown also. Note the shaping also, making the dress fit perfectly.

Elinor red shoes

She wears matching red shoes, which are quite plain but go nicely with the rest of the outfit. She comes with simple white cotton knickers under the dress.

Elinor's hair

One of Elinor’s most stunning features is her long tumbling ebony black hair which falls in loose curls, crowned and mingled with silver ribbon. You don’t often see black hair on dolls for some reason, with blonde being so popular, but its quite a dramatic look for her.

Elinor and flowers portrait

Looking at her aristocratic face, almost violet eyes, dark red lips and that hair I’m reminded very much of the line in the original Snow White tale, where the queen wishes her daughter to have “lips as red as blood and hair as black as ebony”.. can quite imagine many hours of fairy tale play with this doll for a younger owner. Its still the eyes that first caught my attention – in some online images they’re an almost unearthly piercing blue but luckily that’s just odd lighting: the shade is unusual but most attractive.

I  mentioned initially that these dolls are clearly marketed as slim bodied – I don’t own an American Girl doll but my Madame Alexander doll is of similar build:

Elinor with a Madame Alexander doll

The contrast in terms of size is quite startling, and its clear that AG clothes will likely be too loose on Elinor and other Carpatina dolls. I believe Carpatina clothes by contrast do fit Kidz n Cats dolls but not Gotz, although this of course depends on how fitted the clothes are.

Elinor and Ariane

Here’s Elinor next to Kidz n Cats Ariane – you can see they are much of a size. The difference in look, between the more elegant, grown-up Elinor and the child-like Ariane is very clear.

Overall I’m extremely pleased with Elinor (who was a belated birthday present from my parents). The build quality and styling is very good, although the clothes aren’t quite as impressive in terms of fabric choice and feel close-up compared to how they look in online images.I would certainly consider another Carpatina doll in the future, in fact have my eye on one of the boy dolls – well, more like young men in looks really.

With the range of Fantasy Adventures outfits also available (renaissance, Victorian and the like) as well as international costumes such as kimonos I think Carpatina have managed to find a unique place in the 18″ doll market, appealing to both older children and collectors.

Elinor in black & white

 

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Silver & Sparkle

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A Trio of Nellie Rose Frocks

Santa didn’t bring me any new dolls, but I’ve some gorgeous frocks to show off – the girls are delighted! Nothing says a special occasion like a fancy sparkly frock and Nellie Rose has come up trumps again with these creations.

Ariane in a Sparkly Purple Frock

This is the first of the two lilac dresses, I liked them so much I couldn’t pick between them. This is lilac satin in the bodice and skirt, with a layer of sparkly net over the skirt area, and more net beneath to give the dress body, I love the embroidery detail on the bodice, and the matching hair clip is flamboyant enough to work more as a fascinator than a hair clip. Nellie Rose always has an eye for detail and this dress is made with her usual skill and eye for design – all her outfits are one offs but there’s always something worth looking at on her website. The blue satin slippers here are from My Doll Best Friend.

Grace in a Sparkly Yellow Frock

As soon as I saw this yellow creation I knew it was just made for Grace, she’s positively glowing in this colour and it works so well against her skin tone. Again, this is a satin bodice and skirt with layered netting underneath and a layer of net with added sparkles over the skirt, set off with the big white net bow with diamante centre at the waist – it came with a matching hair bow but the clip wasn’t strong enough to stay securely in Grace’s mass of hair. She’s wearing beige tights by 123 Mulberry Street and a pair of gold sandals, and just looks adorable.

Helene in a Lilac Sparkly Frock

If there are purple outfits around you can be sure Helene is first in the queue to wear them. This one is a different shade to Ariane’s dress, though similar in design, but the layer of net over the satin skirt has many more sparkles which look like scattered stars. I like the way the brocade detail at the neck lifts the plain colour, and the satin flower detail at the waist is also nifty. The dress came with a hair clip matching the flowers but Helene’s hair is too fine for such things. The purple shoes are from the Design a Friend range. Yay Nellie Rose for three fabulous frocks.

Katy in A Silver Frock

Nellie Rose isn’t the only one capable of producing sparkly frocks – and I added this silver creation to my wishlist almost as soon as it was listed over at My Doll Best Friend. It has a satin bodice with ruched detailing, and a satin skirt with an overlay of silver lacey stuff picked out with silvery spirals, and netting beneath for body. The waist band has sparkling sequins for extra effect. The dress is sleeveless and comes with a black knitted bolero which really enhances the whole design, Katy looks most elegant here. I’ve teamed the outfit with silver shoes which aren’t showing too well in the photo, but are also from My Doll Best Friend.

Silver shoes close up

They’re just plain slippers but they really shine and are a perfect match for the frock.

Detail of Katy's silver frock

Here’s a closer look at the silver spirals on the skirt, I think this is one of my favourite outfits thus far for any of the dolls.

Katy & Ariane in Sparkly Frocks

Belles of the ball! Katy’s dress is equally stunning without the bolero, and the two colours complement each other nicely – lets hear it for satin and sparkles!

Bree – from The Dolls House

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Portrait of Bree

This little lady is Bree, as glimpsed in the mystery girl post. She’s from The Dolls House, source of the gorgeous lilac dress featured previously, and home to the nifty wig store. The brand was launched in September 2012 by Sky, a mother of three who had always dreamed of her own range of dolls and clothing. The dolls themselves are based on photographs of one of her daughters when younger, and all three daughters were involved in designing the varied wardrobe of outfits currently on offer to reflect the fashions they enjoy wearing themselves. The original line-up of seven dolls has expanded to ten in total, with a range of skin and hair colours. I especially admire the fact that each doll can be “customised” by choosing the eye colour, currently blue, green, brown or hazel – Sky tells me she is the only UK doll supplier to offer this option currently, and was most helpful when I wanted Bree to have brown eyes. Her offical name is Amber, matching her hair colour nicely.

Bree's box

I usually comment on packaging and I  must say I’m impressed by the quality here. The doll arrived in a large brown cardboard box with the company name printed in red on the side, and within was the dark pink box you see above, with a card sleeve for added protection. The pink box itself is made of very heavy duty cardboard, of the kind you find used in gift boxes and some jewellery boxes: its clearly designed to be kept and re-used, being so sturdy.

Opening The Dolls House box

Opening the box, the doll is wrapped in a layer of printed tissue paper. Also included is a “birth certificate” to fill out with the chosen name and details, printed on quality card stock, which is a nice touch.

The Dolls House birth certificate

Bree revealed

And here she is – with her eyes shut, clearly travelling is tiring.. The doll isn’t fixed in place but fits snugly enough into the box for ties to be unnecessary.

Bree's hairnet

As mentioned when unboxing Maru and Fei Li, I’m pleased to report her hair was kept tidy for transport in a hairnet, so there were no tangles to deal with. This is such a simple but effective measure, its good to see it being adopted by more doll brands.

All the dolls are 18″ tall, and are cloth-bodied with jointed vinyl arms, legs and head. The body is quite firmly stuffed, so she has no problems standing up, and poses quite well, though obviously is more limited than the dolls with more joints.

Bree's original outfit

Each doll is named after a precious stone and comes in a “meet” outfit consisting of long pink tunic with patch pockets and The Dolls House embroidered on the front, violet leggings and the cutest pink shoes with ribbon detail. This is similar to the way the basic American Girl dolls arrive, and overall body size and shape is similar also. Here she is unclothed for comparison purposes:

Bree unclothed

You may have noticed that Bree is wearing glasses in some of these images – I was umm-ing and ah-ing over the dolls on offer from The Dolls House, as I don’t normally like soft bodied dolls, but it was a pic on the accessories page showing the Amber doll wearing the black rimmed glasses that swung it for me, and I think they really make her look cute.

Bree in original outfit plus glasses

The dolls have sleep eyes, that is, the kind that close when the doll is laid flat. I think this appeals to a younger child but its a nice feature to have and the eyes and sleep feature are well-made and open and close easily. The eyes are glass/plastic with actual lashes.

Sleep eyes - Bree

Sleep eyes with glasses - Bree

The hair on these dolls is one of their main features, long, thick and wavy. The rich auburn shade of Bree’s hair is especially appealing – I have a weakness for redheads – and as well as the fringe framing her face I like the way the hair is partly pulled back into a ponytail with the rest cascading in long curls down her back. The hair is not as silky as that on some brands, but is good quality and brushes and styles well. Rather than rooted, each doll’s hair is actually a wig, but it fits very well and also allows for a different wig to be bought and applied (as per my previous post on the matter), though I wouldn’t change Bree’s hair for the world.

Bree's hair

I had a wee windfall so as well as the doll I treated myself to a whole load of the fabulous outfits The Dolls House offers – even if you don’t buy one of the dolls I really do recommend the clothing, such attractive designs and well-made also. Here she is modelling a green dress with white shoes with a purple bow:

Bree in a green dress

The clothes are cut quite snugly for the doll’s figure, and this one was a bit tricky to put on; the green sash detail is a separate length of ribbon and really brings the design together. As could be seen in the post about the lilac dress from this company which my Kidz n Cats doll Helene adored wearing, the outfits fit other 18″ dolls very well. Here’s Grace, my Gotz Hannah, wearing the same green dress as above.

Grace in a green dress

No doubt upcoming posts will feature further The Dolls House outfits but I couldn’t resist some photos of Bree in her long blue satin ballgown, with lace detail, puff sleeves and a blue ribbon sash which again lifts the design without being too fussy. Her long hair works especially well with this outfit, quite the little princess to be sure!

Bree posing in her blue gown

Overall I am impressed with the quality and design of these dolls. They’re well-made, have cute faces, a wide range of hair/skin options so a child can find one that matches if desired, and the eye-colour option is a nice touch. With the increase in 18″ dolls available in the UK, as well as the growing availability of the American Girl dolls on this side of the Pond, The Dolls House range definitely hold their own and come highly recommended, especially with the range of outfits on offer. And despite being lower in price than my German-made dolls, Bree fits in well with the other girls.

L-R: Grace (Gotz Hannah), Bree, Katy (Gotz Hannah), Kidz n Cats Ariane

L-R: Grace (Gotz Hannah), Bree, Katy (Gotz Hannah), Kidz n Cats Ariane

On the website, Sky says:

“Ever since I was a young girl, I was always passionate about dolls. I can remember pending endless hours dressing them, playing with them, brushing their hair and even having meaningful conversations with them!”
I think the dolls she created will do an admirable job of passing that love and the hours of enjoyment to a new generation.
Bree in b&w

A Doll for a Doll – AG Mini Marie-Grace

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Portrait of Marie-Grace

Following on from the sneak peek previously, introducing American Girl mini doll, Marie-Grace! A doll-sized doll for dolls to play with (or real folks to collect), the frst AG mini dolls appeared in the US in 1995. At just 6″ tall they are pint-sized versions of their larger AG counterparts, and have the same outfits, faces, hair etc, except in miniature. Each doll also comes with a mini version of the “meet” book that the full-sized AG dolls have.

I’m not sure how long these mini dolls have been available in the UK, given the fact that the full-sized American Girl dolls were rare as hens teeth until recently, but I spotted the minis on other doll blogs and then found several of the current range being sold at Amazon UK, and couldn’t resist.

Like their big sisters, each doll comes in a standard cardboard box, with information about the specific doll on the reverse (on a separate piece of printed paper which is tucked in securely), and you can see the doll’s face through the wee window at the top:

Mini Marie-Grace Blurb

Mini Marie-Grace boxed

Mini Marie-Grace Revealed

Marie-Grace is very nicely made, with jointed vinyl arms and legs on a cloth body, and a vinyl head which rotates at the neck. Given the size of the doll, the level of detail is rather less than the larger counterpart, and her eyes are painted but the quality is nonetheless high. She is very poseable, and the cloth body is firm enough that she will sit up straight. I especially love the hair on this doll, which is silky and fine, and consists of long dark blonde hair pulled back into two plaits on the crown of her head, held with pink ribbons, and the sweetest little curls on either side of her face.

Mini Marie-Grace in b&w

Her outfit mimics the larger doll, consisting of a long pink dress in a plaid fabric with puff sleeves and bodice detail, white and black leather-look boots and even white cotton drawers/bloomers (the AG site describes them as pantalettes..). The dress is fastened with velcro, as are the boots, and the underwear is elasticated. She also wears long socks under the boots. The outfit is modelled on women’s fashion from the Victorian era – Marie-Grace is one of the AG historical dolls and her story describes her life in New Orleans in 1853, so presumably this was standard attire for young ladies in that time and place. Unlike the large dolls, there are no outfits to buy seperately for the AG minis, though of course clothes can be shared between dolls if you own more than one, and I believe some Etsy sellers and the like have outfits available, though I’ve not explored this.

Mini Marie-Grace Posing

The mini-book that comes with the mini-doll is an exact copy of the hardback that accompanies the larger doll. It’s also hardback, with a bright paper dustjacket and the full story inside. Its just about readable if you peer closely, perhaps easier for a child to read more comfortably, but I was charmed by this doll-sized tome:

Mini Marie-Grace's "meet" book

Inside mini Marie-Grace's "meet" book

I titled this post “a doll for a doll” and Marie-Grace truly is that. The American Girl dolls are designed very  much with the idea that they will be a small companion for children and can wear the same outfits, and I’m sure mini Marie-Grace looks perfect with big Marie-Grace. For me, though, Ariane seemed the ideal choice to play with the doll, given the similarity in hair colour and style, and I love the fact the book is just the right size for an 18″ tall doll to hold, and “read” aloud:

Ariana & Marie-Grace Reading

I must say the two dolls together is one of the cutest things I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m really impressed with the whole AG mini concept and execution, I think I’ll be tempted to add one or two of the other dolls to my collection at some point, though close viewing of online images suggests not all the dolls work quite as well at this small size, but then again I don’t find many of the American Girl dolls attractive, compared to my existing dolls, which could be a factor. Mini Marie-Grace is small and perfectly-formed however and keeping me, and the dolls, very happy indeed.

Ariane & Marie-Grace

The gang’s (almost) all here

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Having done introductory posts for nearly all the dolls in my “gang” I thought I’d share this cool group photo I took the other day – absent are Héléne and Jamie as they were too busy giggling together in the other room to take part.

Gang of Dolls

From left to right standing:

Grace (Gotz Hannah at the Ballet)

Katy (Gotz Hannah and her Dog 2010)

Maru (Maru & Friends)

Jessie (Zwergnase Junior Dorte)

Alex (Kidz n Cats Alister)

Seated:

Alice (Gotz Happy Kidz Emily 2012)

Ariane (Kidz n Cats)

Some of the clothes were made by Nellie Rose, exceptions being Ariane’s blue petal dress, Katy’s white broderie dress and the pink t-shirt that Maru is wearing which are all from My Doll Best Friend. Jessie’s outfit is from the Argos Design a Friend range, Alice’s dress was made by an Ebay designer and Alex is wearing the jeans, legwarmers and boots from his original outfit.

I think they look pretty good together, despite the varying looks of each brand they make a fun bunch of friends (and of course there was the usual argument about who got to wear what, all the girls reckon Ariane has hogged that lovely blue dress way too long by now!)

The gane in b&w

Ariane in the Garden

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Ariane looked so lovely in her pretty blue petal dress it seemed a shame to be stuck indoors, especially on such a lovely sunny June afternoon with the lilacs filling the air with their delicate scent and the clematis in full flower – an ideal backdrop for a photoshoot!

Garden Ariane 1

“Does this look okay? I’m a bit nervous…” says Ariane, trying to relax in front of the camera but getting distracted by a blackbird singing in the tree nearby.

Ariane Garden 2

“How’s this? Be sure and show my pretty sparkly blue shoes, can you see them under the petals of this dress? Here, I’ll make sure they can be seen.. that’s better.”

Ariane Garden 3

“Oh, these flowers are so pretty, I love this shade of pink, look how many blossoms there are. And this is next door’s clematis that prefers our side of the fence because there’s more sun, teehee. We’re flower stealers!”

clematis“Quick, quick, take a snap of just the flowers so everyone can see how lovely they are, with the little yellow stamens and the way the petals get so thin at the edges… the green leaves are just the right shade, don’t you think?”

Ariane Garden 4

“Shall I pick you a flower? No? Yes, they are a bit tiny and fragile I suppose, and a whole stem would spoil what’s out here.. look closer though, I think they have a scent, do they?”

Ariane Garden 5

“Oh, maybe not, its the lilac I can smell. I think these flowers look the best though. Hee, and I forgot to be nervous about the photos, thankyou flowers, very helpful!”

Photoshoot date: June 6th 2013

Doll: Kidz n Cats Ariane

Dress: blue petal dress from My Doll Best Friend

Shoes: Argos Design a Friend range

Clematis: nature & the next-door neighbour!

Ariane – Kidz n Cats

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Portrait of Ariane

Portrait of Ariane

Who is this be-ringleted babe? Why, Ariane from the Kidz n Cats range of course. She was my birthday present this year (41, sshhh!) and its taken me a little while to truly fall in love with her, she’s also a bit of a pain to photograph, the light kept catching the “skin” on her face all wrong and making it shiny, but the hair and those blue, blue eyes made it worth persevering.

Ariane was added to the range in 2012 and has 11 joints, including her wrists, increasing her posability and making natural gestures quite easy to achieve, which is great for displaying a doll, much better than having them stand all stiff and regimented.

Ariane poses

Ariane poses

Her outfit is very modern and funky, despite the girly hairstyle I think she’s meant to be quite the tomboy, I especially love the black lace-up soft leather boots that complete her look. She’s wearing a grey long-sleeved top with flower motif, and matching grey leggings made from some shiny nylon fabric, over which the pink velvet skirt with black attached sash/bow/belt detail is fastened. Below that is what looks like stripey tights and then leg warmers, but when I undressed her I found they were all of a piece, which is a little odd but helps keep them in position better than too many layers I guess.

Ariane's outfit laid out flat

Ariane’s outfit laid out flat

This many layers means there’s plenty to mix and match with other outfits, a feature I do appreciate in the Kidz n Cats range, and once again I’d consider this outfit “unique”, certainly very creative fashion designers working at the company. There’s the usual attention to detail also – when I was changing her into a pretty dress I discovered that underneath all those funky clothes was a pretty, lacy knicker and cropped vest set, very cute:

Ariane's pretty underthings

Ariane’s pretty underthings

Her hair is very springy and lifelike set in those ringlets, and the little bows help keep the style clear of her face. I’m not sure how much extra styling this type of hair will withstand, combing the top area before the ringlets proper begin keeps it smooth but I’ve mainly been finger-curling the rest to keep it from going frizzy or flattening out, as I suspect too much brushing or combing would cause. Pulling that mass of hair back with a ribbon would probably work fine, but the ringlets really enhance the look of this doll, one of her main selling points, I feel, so best left alone in my view!

This lovely blue dress really brings out the colour of Ariane's eyes

This lovely blue dress really brings out the colour of Ariane’s eyes

No matter how cool her original look, it was when she donned a blue party frock (the petal dress from My Doll Best Friend, one of my favourite outfits) that I truly realised what a gorgeous doll this is, now the ringlets no longer look out of place, and she’s ready for a photoshoot, to be sure! It just goes to show that “clothes maketh the man”.. well, girl.. well, doll. In any case, the versatility of these dolls in terms of how they look in different settings and styles is half the fun in owning them.