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Bonnie & Pearl Dolls

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Bonnie & Pearl Redhead

Its always great to see a new doll brand and especially when its one from the UK. This little lovely is one of the many gorgeous offerings from a Welsh doll company, Bonnie & Pearl. Since launching their pop-up shop in Cardiff and now with their move to London, as well as their online shop, this is a brand that’s going far.

Founders Nicola and Lisa named their venture after their own childhood “best friends” – their dolls, Pearl and Bonnie, who kept them company through thick and thin. Now,

We make dolls that evoke the feelings we had as children, the excitement and joy that comes from opening the box for the first time and knowing you’ve found more than a toy, you’ve found a friend.

There are seven dolls in the Bonnie & Pearl range with a variety of skin and hair colours, all with sweet little faces and sleep eyes. One of my favourites is this darker skinned doll, not sure if I like her or the redhead best!

Bonnie & Pearl ethnic doll

Each doll is 19″ tall with soft vinyl head and limbs and a soft middle, much like the Karito Kids dolls. They are jointed at the shoulders and hips with a tilting head, and the hair is a high quality acrylic wig.

Bonnie & Pearl doll, undressed

As well as the meet outfit and accessories, each doll comes with a cardboard bed to sleep in, plus a comfy pillow, perfect for the perfect night’s snooze.

Bonnie & Pearl box bed

I’m impressed with the design of these dolls and also the range of clothing available, such as this cute school uniform

Bonnie & Pearl doll in a school uniform

I think my favourite is the walking outfit:

Bonnie & Pearl Walking Outfit

The outfits should fit 18″ dolls such as Gotz and American Girl, with the usual caveat on different body styles between dolls – I suspect they will be a little too generous for Kidz n Cats dolls.

Overall these are lovely creations by people who clearly care about their dolls and their customers – if you’re local to Cardiff, Bonnie & Pearl run a regular “dolly hair salon”, plus their website features recipes and fun doll-related craft projects to try.

You can see the full range of dolls and outfits at the Bonnie & Pearl site, they are also available via Petalina and mydollboutique.

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Leah – Gali Girls

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Portrait of Leah

As mentioned in a previous post, here is Leah, my Gali Girls doll. She came all the way from the US as my main birthday present in 2011, along with a range of outfits as I was really spoilt for choice on the website. She was my second 18″ doll but had rather fallen out of favour and has been boxed up in the cupboard for a while; I came across her while tidying the other day and decided she deserved an outing and a review post all of her own.

The Gali Girl doll range was launched in 2004, with a strong ethos that made them stand out from the general range of play dolls. As per the website:

“Gali Girls were created to give young Jewish girls an opportunity to incorporate positive values into their doll play. While the majority of dolls in today’s market focus on fashion, makeup and boyfriends, Gali Girls reinforce the positive values that have kept Jewish tradition alive and growing for over 5,000 years.

Gali Girl values represent kindness, respect, and honesty, to name a few. Gali Girl accessories create a connection between the contemporary Jewish girl and her heritage. Thus our motto: “Learn and play the Jewish way.”

The Gali Girls Jewish History Series captivates and educates the young reader about different Jewish communities throughout the ages and throughout the world. From Russia, to China, to Ethiopia, and beyond, each book tells the story of a young, brave Jewish girl, who overcomes the challenges she encounters by relying on Jewish values, Jewish community, and a very strong sense of self.”

There were various dolls in the original range, with different skin tones and hair colours, and this dark skinned or Sephardi doll joined the range a little later. As with American Girl dolls, the idea is for a youngster to identify with a doll that resembles her, for more authentic play, with a range of clothing and accessories to help with this. I don’t have many official outfits for my Kidz n Cats and Gotz dolls as they are quite pricey, so I was pleased to find the Gali Girls clothing was much more affordable.

The website also featured matching clothes for girls and dolls to wear, such as the historical Queen Esther costume, shown here in white and gold (and still available to buy).

Gali Girls Queen Esther costume for doll and girl

Leah is an 18″ soft bodied doll with jointed vinyl arms and legs and jointed head. She has dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes and nylon lashes, and is about the same size for clothes as an American Girl doll.  She arrived wearing a denim skirt with cotton broderie detailing to the hem, a white long sleeved t-shirt with a candle glow motif, white trainers and socks.

Leah posing in her arrival outfit

In the photo above she’s wearing the brown boots that came with the Shabbat outfit I got at the same time – brown suede skirt, pink top and the boots – I love the skirt especially, and the colours work really well against her colouring!

Leah's shabbat outfit

All the dolls also came with matching Magen-David bracelets for doll and owner, a birth certificate in Hebrew and English and a 10-piece wooden toy Shabbat set.  Beyond learning Bibilical Hebrew and reading the Bible I know very little about the Jewish faith so I’m not exactly sure what said Shabbat set involves (other than what can be inferred from candles and bread etc), but obviously it’s an ideal addition for the target audience.

Gali Girls wooden Shabbat kit

Leah has quite a firm body so stands up well (with something to lean on at least), and is in proportion. Several people have commented that the Gali Girl dolls look very similar to the My London Girl range, though having not seen a My London Girl doll other than in online images I wouldn’t like to say. Here’s our Gali doll sans clothing for possible comparison purposes to those dolls and to the AG range.

Leah unclothed

And another outfit – I had such fun dressing and undressing Leah in all the different clothes for this post. This gorgeous cream satin pyjama set, with camisole and wrap-over top with lace detail seems a little too large, it hangs quite loosely and is long in the leg. The fabric is high quality and the whole thing is very well-made, however. It strikes me as a rather decadent choice of evening wear for a modest girl but then most of my dolls prefer t-shirt and shorts to wear to bed!

Leah's satin pjs

Oddly enough it was one of the Gali Girl outfits that first led me to the the dolls themselves. While browsing the web I came across a photo of a Gotz Hannah doll wearing a lovely blue satin Chinese-style dress, which turned out to be from the Gali Girl range. I only intended to get that dress from the site but things got a little out of hand… Its still one of my favourite articles of clothing, here modelled by Fei Li. It fits really nicely, her added height makes little difference.

Fei Li in a Chinese-style dress

The dress was also available in other colours, I think the pink suits Leah best of all, its much longer on her of course, but also serves to demonstrate that varying heights and body shapes in dolls mean outfits can be shared as the dimensions sort of compensate for each other. That does make sense, promise!

Leah in a pink Chinese-style dress

Actually, seeing her like this makes me realise she is quite a pretty doll so I think Leah will be spending time out and about with the gang for a while right now.

As I mentioned previously, the Gali Girls are no longer being produced and once the last few dolls, clothes and other things have been sold, that’s it. Leah is the only style of basic doll still for sale, so if you’ve fallen in love thanks to this review, hurry up and get one before its too late. As for me, I’ve grabbed the last few outfits to keep all my dolls happy with such creative and effective designs.

All kudos to Gali Girls owner and creator, Aliza Stein for providing me and many other people with hours of doll-related fun.

Leah in b&w

Fei Li – Karito Kids

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Portrait of Fei LI

I think every collector has a wishlist, and I’m no exception. There’s the joy of finding a new doll to dream about, the anticipation of being able to own it and in the case of the harder-to-find dolls, the thrill of the chase (or rather, the patience needed waiting for one to finally turn up followed by a swift flurry of activity and the counting of pennies for an unexpected purchase!).

This was the case with Karito Kids Ling, which was the first Asian doll I laid eyes on via an online article a couple of years ago. Karito Kids is a US company founded in 2007 producing a line of 5 dolls with an international flavour, Chinese, Mexican,African, Italian and an American (an Australian doll joined the range a little later). Each comes with a story book,  the concept being to “highlight the beauty of each ethnic group and depict modern-day life in each country and culture, showing the similarities shared by kids around the world,” according to the blurb printed on the box.  Each also has with its own code to enter into the Karito Kids website and donate 3% of the purchase price to the children’s charity, Plan. Karito, the helpful box goes on to explain, is from the Esperanto word meaning charity, love of one’s neighbour. Clearly a lot of thought went into the creation of these dolls and the aims of international understanding, so it was rather frustrating for me to find they were only being sold in the USA, with no international shipping!

Ebay again came up trumps with someone parting with their doll, bought in the US and brought back here to the UK, to loud cheers from me as soon as I spotted it for sale.

Fei Li box shot 1     Fei Li box shot 2

The colourful box with its information, and the doll revealed, held into her box with the usual annoying metal/plastic ties. As I noted with Maru, her hair is kept under control with a nifty hairnet, a feature I think more doll brands should adopt.

Fei Li with her hairnet

Ling, or rather Fei Li as I have renamed her, is my largest doll thus far standing at 22″tall. She is an unusual mixture of vinyl and soft-body – unlike the American Girl and similar mixed material dolls, her shoulders are vinyl as well as her arms, legs and head, leaving just her middle to be stuffed and soft, This is a good compromise, making her quite cuddly but also allowing her to wear sleeveless and strappy dresses and tops in a more attractive way than the AG dolls (I quite dislike the look of the cloth bodies with such outfits).

Her hair is long and black, very much Asian looking and quite fine, held back with a plait at either side. She has brown eyes and proper lashes, and at first glance quite unusual feaures, which I love the most as it gives her face real character – as I’ve said before I do have a soft spot for ethnic dolls as it seems to give the designers a real chance to be creative with their looks.

Fei Li close-up

Her outfit consists of a bright orange velour top, a short denim skirt, over white leggings, pink socks and long white lace-up boots with pink soles. The clothes are  good quality and fasten with the usual velcro, as do the boots. Despite the extra height, Fei Li can share clothes with the 18″ dolls, bearing in mind that like my Zwergnase doll Jessie she has longer legs so not everything will be the correct length.

Fei Li posing

She also comes with a book, which is worth mentioning in detail – its very high quality and written in a lively style, quite a gripping adventure with pandas in fact; the book that Maru arrived with was a sweet tale about her new life, but this story gives a real flavour of China, its language and culture. Each chapter is numbered in Chinese which is also a nice touch.  At the back is a scrap book of images and little snippets of related information, plus apparently there were further related treats on the official website (which no longer seems to exist, sadly).

Karito Kids Ling book  Karito KIds Ling book

Karito Kids book text

When I named her Fei Li I was very aware of the fact that Chinese names have meaning, and as said names are depicted by Chinese characters its a good idea to pick suitable ones. I had help in this from my Chinese friend Qi as my Mandarin knowledge is still pretty basic. Fei means “jade” (or kingfisher, perhaps) and Li here means “beautiful”. Quite a special name!

Fei Li in simplified Chinese characters

I’m over the moon to finally have found this doll, my favourite of the Karito Kids range, and she was definitely worth waiting for. Apparently the dolls are becoming harder to find in the US, and a newer range was produced of slightly lower quality and in different outfits, so I did well finding the original doll I fell in love with. I’m looking forward to trying her in various outfits and also doing some photos of her interacting with theother dolls, she rather towers over the Kidz n Cats and Gotz dolls but fits in nicely with Harry Potter, Maru and Jessie.

If I see any more in the range on Ebay I would seriouslyconsider them, especially the Mexican girl Pita. As it is I feel lucky to own Fei Li. Its great having so many different doll brands out there coming up with new and interesting ideas and realising them so well.

Fei Li in b&w

Unboxing Maru

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The other day I was delighted to receive a large and interesting box from Un Bonheur de Colibri, offical UK/EU stockists of Maru and Friends.

Maru and Friends dolls hail from Miami, Florida and are the brainchild of Maritza Gutierrez, with a range of five dolls and various outfits. Every doll comes with a storybook and the faces were lovingly designed by reknowned doll sculptor Dianna Effner. According to Maritza, each one “celebrates the beautiful attributes and culture of little girls.”

Maru herself is a little Latina girl who has come to America to start a new life in a new country.

Maru box  Maru box with tissue paper

In my parcel was a big orange box with cheerful cartoon images of Maru and a couple of friends, the equally orange tissue paper was pulled back to reveal..

Maru revealed

The first glimpse of Maru

Maru! Who looks absolutely gorgeous even tied in place for travel.

Before I discuss the doll herself I need to wax lyrical about the packaging, because the doll is held securely not with the annoying and fiddly to undo plastic coated wire ties you find holding Gotz and Kidz n Cats dolls in place but with simple lengths of white ribbon (padded with foam to prevent any damage to the vinyl). This is ingenious and much easier to remove, while still being a solid method of preventing movement.

Clever way of securing the doll in her box..

Clever way of securing the doll in her box..

Maru comes with her story book and a little matching handbag, and my parcel contained an extra surprise, Alexandra at Un Bonheur de Colibri had slipped in a little Moulin Roti dog as a friend for Maru, very thoughtful of her!

Maru in her box with handbag and storybook

Maru in her box with handbag and storybook

Having removed Maru from her packaging and taken off her hat to see her pretty face more clearly I noticed another brilliant idea – a hairnet keeping her hair sleek and tidy, too often dolls’ hair gets rather rumpled and tangled in transit so this is inspired.

This hainet works wonders at keeping the doll looking tidy

This hairnet works wonders at keeping the doll looking tidy

And here she finally is! Maru’s outfit consists of her short brown skirt with buckle, brown tights and boots, the very orange top and a stripey waistcoat as well as matching scarf and hat. She also wears little white knickers beneath it all. The quality of the clothes is excellent and they are very easy to take on and off, with buttons, press studs and velcro as applicable.

Full body shot of Maru in her original outfit

Full body shot of Maru in her original outfit

She is 20″ tall, so a little taller than the Gotz and Kidz n Cats ranges, but seems able to wear most clothes for dolls that size, though she has rather broader shoulders and a chunkier waist than Kidz n Cats, as well as longer legs than both brands of dolls, so I imagine not every outfit will fit perfectly. Her feet are much smaller however, luckily I ordered a pair of black Ugg boots until I can work out what other dolls have similar sized feet!

Maru is very posable, jointed at hips and shoulders and her head can move up and down as well as from side to side, allowing for a whole range of movement to give her life and personality. She has such an enchanting face, the eyes are beautifully done, a rich brown and the eyelashes are so delicate. Her hair is sleek and shiny and responds well to brushing.

Portrait of Maru

Portrait of Maru

All in all I’m delighted with Maru and can’t wait to take more photos of her in some different outfits.

All the Maru and Friends dolls are available in the US from the official Maru and Friends website, they also do international shipping (see webpage for contact details) or you can order direct from Un Bonheur de Colibri in Belgium, postage is very reasonable from the latter.