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Tag Archives: Dolls for Downs

Extra Special Dolls (formerly Dolls for Downs)

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Extra Special Dolls is the new name for the Dolls for Downs dolls, initially launched via a Kickstarter project that I posted about back in June last year, and again last November when the finished dolls were finally available.

I’m thrilled to see that Connie has a new website up and running with a proper shopping cart system and a whole range of dolls available – there are currently 17 girls and 9 boys, all of which use the same face mould, but with a wide range of skin tones, eye colours and hair choices, they truly are very individual dolls. Karen Scott has done a marvellous job with the sculpting, not only of the faces but the bodies and hands, “incorporating such beloved traits as the single palmar crease, the sandal gap toes, the tiny curved pinky finger, and adorable tummy.” as stated on the Extra Special Dolls website.

I think my favourite is still Hannah who was the first doll featured on Facebook and in various media..

Extra Special Doll Hannah

…but the little boy dolls are very appealing also, such as Matty.

Extra Special Doll Matty

The dolls are 18″ tall and made of vinyl, with glass eyes, nylon lashes and wigged hair. They are jointed at shoulder, hip and neck and are easily posed. The mouth is slightly open with teeth showing, giving a lovely childlike expression to the handpainted face which has the features typical of a Down’s Syndrome child.

Dolls are available with a chest scar (many children need heart surgery) for more authentic play, and as well as clothing the website features accessories for the dolls, which in future will include braces and feeding tubes to make a “just like me” doll possible.

Each doll arrives in the same meet outfit, the lovely pink set shown in the image above for the girls. They can share clothes with other 18″ dolls though with their slimmer vinyl bodies some AG clothes, as usual, are a little baggy, and shoes might be an issue depending on style.

Each doll costs $95 and the company does ship internationally, though you need to email for pricing details on that (I’m waiting to find out right now…)

I don’t think the photos at the official website really do the dolls justice, luckily other folk have been busy snapping away to give a real sense of these dolls – for a very detailed review with lots of lovely photos that will make you fall instantly in love with Grace, a redheaded Extra Special doll, visit this post at The ToyBox Philosopher, and also see her solution to out of control hair.

Another doll blogger has the very same doll and took a different approach to the curly hair problem.. again lots of photos and details to be found at Up To My Eyeballs in Dolls. And Karen Mom of Three (well known for her appearances on DollDiaries) has photos of Hannah here.

Images © Extra Special Dolls etc

Dolls for Downs are Go!

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Dolls for Downs Girls in Boxes

After a long process and many exciting updates via the website and Facebook its just been announced that the Dolls for Downs dolls are finally ready to be shipped out to customers very shortly! Here’s photos of the dolls boxed and ready, plus some close-ups of some of the faces available – the website has details of how to order the various dolls (boy and girl) in various skin tones, hair colours etc.

Close up of a Dolls for Downs face

Side view of Dolls for Downs face

As mentioned in more detail in my initial post on the dolls, these are designed as play and therapy dolls so have easy-to-handle clothes and look more like their future little owners than standard shop-bought dolls.

Check out the Dolls for Downs Facebook photo album for lots of behind-the-scenes pics of the dolls in various stages of manufacture at the factory, plus previous timeline posts about how things have progressed to this final stage.

Dolls for Downs dolls ready for shipping

All images remain © Dolls for Downs

Kickstarter: The Scary Godmother Doll

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Its not really the type of doll this blog was created for, but having focused on the Makie dolls it seemed reasonable to post about this Kickstarter project I came across. I love Kickstarter – in case you didn’t know, its a way for small businesses and creative folk to raise funds to make their dreams a reality, be it a game, an art project, a novel, or even putting a model of the TARDIS into space. The Dolls for Downs I posted about last month gained funding via Kickstarter, and here’s another project involving dolls.

I’m not familiar with the Scary Godmother brand, but the project site informs me that its a range of comic strips, cartoon series and even a couple of animated films (available for pennies on amazon, ooh!) featuring the coolest Godmother around, modelled on creator Jill Thomson who considered herself an unlikely model for the role, which inspired the whole concept.

Scary Godmother Doll prototype

Her latest project is turning the Godmother character into a jointed fashion doll, the prototype is all done but getting such things launched needs finance. With Kickstarter, ordinary people have a chance to make the proposed doll design a reality, which I think is worth supporting (and fun to read about even if you don’t want to help out!).

As is usual with Kickstarter projects there are various rewards depending on how much you donate, but you can drop as little as one dollar to the project if you like.

Click through to the Kickstarter page for The Scary Godmother to read about it, watch Jill’s video and see some of the artwork for both comic strip and doll design. Fun stuff!

Piper – Sigikid Die Puppe

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I love the dolls in my “gang”, just the sight of them each day brings a smile to my face, all those cute little characters gazing up at me, so sweet. Not all the dolls I own have that effect, however, and I suppose given I have written such positive reviews about each doll up to now, its time to look at the ones that gain a rather less enamoured response.

Portrait of Piper

So, here is Piper, she is a Sigikid doll from their Die Puppe range, introduced in 2011. I’m familiar with Sigikid from their weird but wonderful Beasts range, and the stuffed horse I got for my Katy doll to ride a few years ago. Piper was a cheer-up present from my parents in Spring 2012 when I was ill in hospital and feeling very fed up with the world: the doll was on my wishlist and I picked her as a gift from my doll wishlist because she was cheaper than the Kidz n Cats etc dolls. At the time she was very welcome – picking her out, getting excited about her arrival, having her turn up in hospital re-dressed in the purple outfit they also treated me to, getting to hold her.. Yes, she was much adored.

Its rather a shame then that she’s spent much of the ensuing months tucked up in a box in the cupboard. I just don’t like her that much.

The Die Puppe range (the name means “the doll” in German) consists of 6 cloth bodied dolls with vinyl heads, arms and legs, rooted hair and painted eyes. They have a variety of hair and eye colours and all are dressed in extremely bright outfits – too bright for my tastes, hence the quick change into the purple clothes shown in the photos.  The one I chose had brown eyes and what looked on the image to be rich auburn hair, though in reality its more brown than red. Rather oddly, the dolls haven’t been given names, merely code numbers, so Piper here is officially Sigikid Die Puppe nr-26031. Her original outfit consisted of a red tunic with yellow swirl print over a red and yellow striped top, with red shorts and yellow slippers (with red dots).

Die Puppe 26031 original outfit

My first issue once I was home and thinking a bit more clearly, and the “ooh doll, let’s cuddle” stage had worn off (she is wonderfully cuddly, I do admit..) was that she doesn’t look that much like the product photo.  Her face is less rounded, and I’d love to know how they got the dolls to stand so straight and tall because she don’t stand up. She is a floppy doll.

Piper Posing

All the dolls thus far have been photographed standing against this background, but I only just managed to lean Piper up long enough for a couple of shots before she toppled over. The reason for this is clear when she is undressed – rather than the standard cloth body with full length vinyl arms and legs jointed at the shoulders that we see with American Girl, Design-a-Friend, Gali Girls etc her limbs begin past the expected joints, giving her very floppy flexible shoulders and hips, which are oddly flat:

Piper Unclothed

She has quite a chunky body also – although she is 18″ tall like the Gotz and Kidz dolls, she is much broader in the shoulders and cannot share clothes with them. She’s too big for even American Girl clothes, but not quite the right size to wear newborn baby clothes either. And her feet are too small to wear Gotz etc shoes, strangely enough. I had great fun today double checking all of this, as I’d hoped the loose AG dresses I have might work, but no.

Luckily, Trisha at KR Bears & Dolls was well aware of this and recommends on the Die Puppe page the outfits designed for another Sigikid doll, named Quendy – I’m beginning to see why they stuck to numbers with naming ideas like that! The purple outfit shown, which consists of beige corduroy trousers, a long-sleeved purple top, the beige and purple loose jacket and purple slippers is from that range and fits perfectly, and there are several more outfits along similar lines.  The clothes are of quite simple design, and very easy to put on and remove – Piper’s floppy limbs help with this also, suggesting the thinking behind this body shape.

Piper's Hair

She has a mass of long brown hair, coming down in waves, which looks great and feels soft to the touch, and is easily styled. It needs a lot of styling mind you, I ended up brushing her hair between almost every shot here, which isn’t something I normally need to do, but it was getting so messy and flyaway with just moving her around.

Piper Seated

The doll and clothing are very well made, good quality fabric and material, nicely sculpted arms and legs. She does sit down well, at least. And she is very cuddly indeed. The soft body, floppy limbs, easily changed clothes and bright colours in the original outfits are definitely all designed with a younger owner in mind, in fact I think she’d be a very good choice as a first doll for a youngster, bearing in  mind the clothes issue of course. She’s more substantial than the Design-a-Friend dolls which are about the closest comparable doll at a reasonable price, and having been made aware of some of the issues faced by children with limited hand/eye co-ordination in my post about the Dolls for Downs dolls, would be an excellent alternative for someone needing simpler fastenings and fabrics.

Its just the face I’m not keen on. And those eyes. I do tend to prefer glass (plastic) eyes but my Zwergnase doll Jessie has painted eyes which are lively and engaging. Piper’s are just dull.

Jessie's Eyes

Piper's Eyes

Jessie’s eyes and then Piper’s. The Zwergnase Junior dolls are more than twice the price so clearly that plays a part but its a disappointing result all the same.

Close-up of Piper's Face

Its rather a plain face and the eyes lack life, this is a doll rather than a little sculpted character – I’ve been spoilt by the other dolls in the “gang” thus far, and have higher expectations. She’s sweet, she’s just not as special as, well, name any of my dolls really!

I finally came up with a solution for the dull eyes, and Piper now wears purple shades, which obscure her eyes somewhat. I really don’t think its a good sign that a doll only looks attractive with its features hidden, mind, but they do at least add the character she was sorely lacking.

Portrait of Piper in Shades

She was ideal for me at the time, company and a cheering thing to distract me whilst in hospital, and gave good cuddles when I needed them but overall Piper is destined to go back in her box once more. She deserved this outing though, and hopefully the Die Puppe dolls are delighting a younger (and less picky) audience than myself.

Official doll product image ©Sigikid

Dolls for Downs

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We all know how special dolls are, especially for the kids they’re really designed for. Dolls can be best friends, confidantes, ways to act out stories and ideas, as well as the fun to be had dressing them, playing with their hair and all the rest. And most little girls (or boys) expect to find a doll that looks enough like them to feel like its a true friend.

This is where Dolls for Downs, in Pittsburgh USA started, because Connie Feda’s daughter has Downs, and none of the dolls available looked like her. It became a mission, to create a doll that did resemble her daughter, and after many months of hard work the results thus far are impressive:

Dolls for Downs – sample faces

The dolls are still a work-in-progress (and you can read about the stages involved, through early design to wax model to the final sculpt ideas over at the Project Update page on the official website), but pre-orders are being taken for dolls in a range of hair and eye colours; there are boy dolls, and ethnic variations, everything to provide a “just like me” doll as much as possible.

These are also therapy dolls: their clothes are designed to be easier to get on and off, but at the same time teach valuable practical skills through the use of zips and buttons, as well as being made of a variety of textiles to promote sensory and tactile development. According to the website, the focus is on:

* eye hand coordination
* fine motor skill development and refinement
* tactile input
* visual motor development
* bilateral coordination
* sensory integration
* positive reinforcement through play

and to this end the dolls will be able to withstand water, plus be provided with accessories such as leg braces, wheelchairs and the like for authentic play.

I think my favourite is Hannah, pictured below with the prototype dressed dolls Connie showcased on her Facebook page recently:

Dolls for Downs – bodies

Its clearly a labour of love and one which is garnering positive press worldwide, as should be. I’m really keen to see the final versions and hope Connie and her daughter have great success with the dolls, who tick all the boxes for me in terms of looking like little people with real personalities. The dolls should open up a whole new world of play to the target audience and anyone who appreciates a good design and well thought-out product.

For more images, information on the project and resources for Downs etc visit Dolls for Downs

All images copyright Dolls for Downs