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Halloween!

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It’s Halloween! It’s Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can’t be seen
On any other night.

Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.

Halloween!

In masks and gowns
We haunt the street
And knock on doors
For trick or treat.

Tonight we are
The king and queen,
For oh tonight
It’s Halloween!

– Jack Prelutsky

Halloween and the gang were keen to don costumes for some spooky fun – little witches and a pirate, even Rapunzel! Somewhere out of shot is a small Alex running around and tripping over Harry’s Hogwarts robes and Jamie pouting because he didn’t get to wear the pirate hat..

Harry as Pirate Captain

Harry buckling his swashes rather handsomely as a dread pirate complete with hat – not sure what the owl is doing there but its suitably spooky, ooooh! With romantic flouncy shirt and buckled boots he’s a real dandy.

Alice as a Halloween Witch

Oh, that’s a scary skull to accompany Witch Alice and her wee pumpkin! No hat, the purple hair is much more fun, everyone should have purple shiny hair at some point in time.. and purple skirts, and purple and gold shiny stars on the bodice, oh yes.

Helene as a Halloween Witch

Its that owl again, keeping Helene company – she’s too cute as a witch, with shiny cobwebs decorating her dress, hard to see the jewelled spider choker that completes the ensemble. And a pointy hat, can’t really be a witch without a pointy hat (unless you have shiny purple hair to show off, Alice wants to point out…)

Katy as Halloween Rapunzel

Spooky or classy? Katy loves her Rapunzel dress, and couldn’t pick between owl and skull so posed with both. The gold braiding detail shimmers delightfully by candlelight, she could be the belle of any ball, any time of year.

Two Little Witches

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble – two little witches and mischief’s doubled! The skull’s not really that scary, quite friendly really (he watches over me while I sleep to keep the bad things away..)

Katy & Harry as Rapunzel and Pirate Captain

Such a handsome couple stepping out ready to show off their costumes – do pirates dance the waltz? All the running around in the rigging should make them pretty nimble.

None of the dolls are going trick or treating but there are plenty of sweets lined up, and maybe they’ll get to duck for apples at a halloween party on October 31st.. it’ll be spooktacular fun!

Katy as Rapunzel in b&w

Helene’s witch costume and Harry’s pirate made by Nellie Rose. Boots with buckles by Gotz

Katy’s Rapunzel dress from mydollboutique along with the pumpkin

Alice’s sparkly leotard and black and purple tutus from My Doll Best Friend; hair accessory from Tesco

LED flickering candles – much safer than real flames around dolls and fabric – via Amazon

Stuffed owl & skull part of my own home decor (the skull’s been with me 20 years now…)

Fashion from The Dolls House

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The Dolls House Fashions - Group Shot

As I’ve mentioned previously, as well as the range of dolls, one of the best parts about The Dolls House company is the cool range of outfits available, which fit other 18″ dolls rather nicely. I treated myself to a parcel of new clothes from there the other week and couldn’t resist getting the gang dressed up and showing off their new togs.

From left to right above we see Bree, Katy, Helene, Grace, Maru and Alice, though there was some swapping of clothes later on, quite  a free for all amongst the girls in fact.

So without further ado, lets introduce the various outfits – imagine the girls have done their “little turn on the catwalk” and are just posing to show off the fashions to their best advantage..

Bree in a red silk kimono

i love this red silk kimono, the way the light shimmers off the fabric with its golden thread and other colours shot through is so effective, it comes with matching little red slippes but that was a bit too much red for me so Breee is barefoot..

Portait of Bree in a kimono

Despite the really long hair on Bree, it goes into an updo beautifully too.

Katy in a flowey top with shorts

Barefeet seems the order of the day – this lace and flowers shorts set is just so cute, and fits Katy (Gotz Hannah) extremely well.

Grace & Katy in green and denim

Grace has already shown off this lovely green dress but she didn’t want to be left out – so summery, the both of them, last chance to wear light fabrics before autumn sets in and its time to pull out the woollies.

Maru in a grey dress with leggings

This tunic is actually a dress, but Maru is so tall it was a bit too short on her, works great as a long top over leggings, though, I think this is one of my favourites, and its good to have clothes that can be versatile, with a bit of thought.

Closer look at Maru's grey top

Its the attention to detail on the outfits that really makes them, the layering on the grey ruffle dress is simple and effective and the rose details at the neck lift it and accentuate the red contrast without being over the top.

Alice in Lilac

Now this delicate lilac dress should be familar, I posted about it previously with Helene modelling, looks great on any doll, no question! And yet again a barefoot theme.

Grace whispering with Katy

“Psst!” whispers Grace, “You should change into the pretty blue dress.. go on.. ”

::Katy scampers off::

Helene modelling pyjamas with a little friend

Helene didn’t want to put her AG mini doll Julie down to show off the outfit properly – such cute white cotton pyjamas with the blue bows and gathered detail. The top is a bit big on a Kidz n Cats so I ended up putting a clip at the back to help it fit better.

Bree & Hellene

Ah, now we can see the outfit properly, plus Bree changed into the flowery top and shorts set Katy was wearing, and looks just as cute.

Closer look at Bree's flowered top

These will work really well as separates but the way the flower embroidery is repeated from the top onto the shorts is a nice touch, very fresh and cheery little outfit all told, white cotton and denim complement each other well, and the flowered sash and the pink ribbon neckline demonstrate yet again how small details can be so effective.

Katy in a satin blue party dress

Aha, that’s how Bree ended up in the shorts set, Katy changed into this gorgeous full length blue satin party dress, I love the lace and ribbon detail on this, she’s truly the belle of the ball.

Katy and Alice in their posh frocks

Actually, both Katy and Alice are the belles of the ball, beautiful colours and fabric choice on these gowns.

As should be obvious by now, all outfits are by The Dolls House, as are Bree’s white shoes with the pink bow detail.

Grace’s gold sandals are from the Argos Design a Friend range.

Lindy – Design a Friend

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Portrait of Lindy

Not all 18″ play dolls need to be expensive: despite my preference for the Gotz and Kidz n Cats level of doll, I’ll never turn down a pretty face. Back in 2011 Argos spotted a market niche and came up with the Design a Friend range, made by long-established toy manufacturer Chad Valley. The clever marketing idea (which still applies today) offered you a doll, outfit and accessory pack of your choice for a discount on the individual price, and dolls with blonde, brunette and red hair, along with the Alesha doll with her darker skin and cascading dark curls.  Each doll has its own name and a different outfit, though based on a simple tunic and leggings idea, with shoes. The range also includes new fashions introduced each season, and new accessories such as a bed, a carrying case, even a make-up set.

So, meet Lindy – here she is newly unboxed in her original outfit of long cerise tunic, black leggings and pink shoes. Also shown are the various boxes for her extra outfit which was a blue striped jumper, leggings and beige knee high boots and the accessory pack of underwear:

Lindy Unboxed

Its a great example of how to emulate the expensive dolls like American Girl but on a budget, and despite only costing £20 for a doll they are very well made. The dolls come in a cardboard box, in candy-stripe pink with the Design a Friend logo on the outside and the doll wrapped in a single sheet of tissue paper within. The box is quite thin card but sturdy enough to be re-used for keeping the clothes in, for example. I also like the way the outfits are packed, in their own pink candy-stripe boxes and wrapped in tissue paper, like high end fashion choices –  such a clever and attractive way of doing things rather than a blister pack or some other toy-like packaging.

Design a Friend clothes box

Each doll comes with a charm bracelet for the new owner to wear, and each outfit includes a charm to add to said bracelet, thus encouraging collection.

The dolls themselves are the ubiquitous soft body with vinyl limbs type – jointed at hips and shoulders, the head also moves from side to side though does not tilt, and the plastic eyes are fixed, not sleep-eyes. The body is shaded the same as the skin tone of the limbs. The stuffed body is not as firm as other cloth-body dolls, probably to give the doll some shape – in the image below you can see she has a clearly defined waist, rather than being a solid up and down shape as is more usual. It has the added effect of making the doll quite cuddly, but means she doesn’t stand up too well on her own.

Deisgn a Friend doll unclothed

She’s s little out of proportion, with very slender limbs compared to the head size, and quite skinny legs, though this is less obvious depending on the outfit. Some of the pants/tights therefore are a bit tight on other 18″ dolls, though in the main she can share clothes with them all. The doll is suprisingly well made for this price point and should stand up to a decent amount of play from a child, the outfits too are generally of good quality, attractive designs, well cut and securely sewn.

There are several Ebay sellers creating clothes specifically for the Design a Friend range (which will also fit Gotz, Kidz n Cats etc) which makes them a good choice for a child – new outfits won’t break the bank!

Lindy Posing

Here Lindy is wearing a dress from one of the Ebay designers, along with tights and shoes from Frilly Lily.  I love the hair on this doll, its full and luxuriant and just flows down so well, and looks good loose or pulled back by a head band (that’s actually a pearl necklace doing double duty). Its perhaps the hair that makes this specific doll look so good, the other Design a Friend dolls generally have straight hair, great for styling but not as eye-catching to my mind.

The Design a Friend outfits work well on the more expensive dolls – as shown in the photos below.

Lindy & Jessie in Design a Friend Outfits (with dog!)

Lindy’s blue spot dress, cardy and sparkly shoes set was in the original range of outfits from Design a Friend, while Jessie wears the jumper/leggings outfit I got along with Lindy. Flat cap by Nellie Rose.

Katy in a Design a Friend pink gown & wrap

I think Katy looks quite glamorous in this long pink satin dress with white wrap and silver sandals. There’s usually a ball gown type design in the Chad Valley range, in varying colours each year.

Helene modelling a Design a Friend red cocktail dress

This red cocktail dress with sparkly sandals and matching satin hairband didn’t look quite right on Lindy but suits Helene a treat. Her escort in back is Alex in a Nellie Rose suede jacket and his original outfit jeans and boots.

Lindy and the Girls

For me, she straddles the  line nicely between “doll” and “little person” and doesn’t seem too out of place with the other girls, especially when dressed nicely. That’s Katy (Gotz), Helene (Kidz n Cats) and Jessie (Zwergnase Junior) with Lindy above, all of them costing 3 or 4 times as much.

(Katy & Helene wear Nellie Rose, Jessie a dress from My Doll Best Friend and Lindy’s brown frock is from the Serendipity collection)
(The instrument is not a guitar but a tenor ukulele..)

Bree and Lindy

Lindy posing with Bree from The Dolls House.

I think the Design a Friend dolls and clothes are a triumph of budget design, and as they are still going strong after several years it seems other people agree with me. This year, Chad Valley introduced a boy doll, Josh, to the range, and also two little sister dolls – and both Josh and the youngsters already have avid Ebay designers sewing away to provide a wardrobe of clothes, there being as yet no offical outfits for same.

I’d not swap Lindy for Katy or Maru but she fits in nicely with the gang, and holds her own against them, despite the price difference. And I love this snap I took of Lindy with Alice (Gotz Happy Kidz) and Katy.

Trio

 

Images of pink boxes © original owners (found at random via google)

Maru and the Boys

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Maru in a pink t-shirt with roses

Hello Maru, you look very pretty today

“Yes, its my new outfit, I love these pink roses!” Maru replies

Going somewhere special?

“Just babysitting…”

Alice & Maru in b&w

“Hey, its my turn to babysit,” complains Alice.

“She’s taking photos of us all, and I got here first!” comes the response.

Now, girls, there’ll be plenty of other chances – Alice, do you really want to keep those two rascals under control?

“Hmm, you might be right…” Alice agrees

Alex with Jamie in his pjs

“We’re not rascals!!” saysAlex, indignantly. “Look, Jamie’s in his pjs already!”

That’s very good Jamie. Maru, what story will you be telling them tonight?

“Its a secret! I’ll whisper it to him though..”

Maru whispering to Jamie

::much whispered discussion::

Something wrong?

“He doesn’t want to hear about the rainbow elephant, can you read us the story about Fei Li and the pandas please?” explains Maru

That’s a bit exciting for bedtime… oh, go on then. Where did we get to last time?

Karito KIds Ling book

Um, Alex?

“Huh? I mean, yes?”

You don’t look ready for bed yet..

Alex in a red check shirt

“Er.. I was helping Jamie? And I can’t undo these laces myself… Maru, can you help me?”

You do the innocent look very well there! I’ll believe you, thousands wouldn’t.

Wait a sec, why don’t you all pose for a photo and then you can get changed and have your story.

Maru and the boys

There we go. So cute!

“We’re not cute!! We’re boys, we don’t do cute!” grumbles Alex

“You can say I’m cute, I don’t mind” Jamie mumbles, blushing.

Jamie blushing

Maru giggles.

___

Jamie’s pyjamas, Alex’s shirt and Maru’s jeans all made by Nellie Rose

Alex’s jeans and boots part of a Kidz n Cats original outfit

Pink roses t-shirt from My Doll Best Friend

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

Alice – Gotz Happy Kidz

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Portrait of Alice

This thoughtful little face belongs to Alice, who is a Gotz doll from the new range of Happy Kidz dolls that were launched in 2012, her official name is Emily. Unlike the Gotz Hannah dolls such as my beloved Katy, the Happy Kidz range have jointed knees and elbows, so are similar to the Kidz n Cats dolls in terms of poseablity, though the body dimensions are closer to Hannah.

The joints on these dolls are a little slimmer than on the Kidz n Cats dolls, the neck and shoulder area is better defined and I notice that the knee joints are higher up than on Kidz n Cats, though it doesn’t seem to make much difference in posing; I think the Kidz n Cats dolls look a little more natural when seated, possible due to this positioning. You can view a bare-bodied comparison of Happy Kidz Emily with Kidz n Cats Tara in an image I found online here.

The Happy Kids dolls seem to be modelled on a slightly older child, the body is less pudgy, with a slightly narrower waist and the face slightly more mature, alth0ugh this as ever depends on the choice of outfit – as you can see from the photo, this stripey dress with tights is something an older kid might choose to wear.

Alice seated

As we can expect from Gotz the doll is made to a very high standard, the joints move freely and she can stand and sit very easily, the eyes are clear and bright and a lot of thought has gone into the mould for the face and limbs. Her hair is also good quality, though not as silky fine as the Hannah doll I have, its taken quite a lot of brushing and styling to gain a little more “life”, though I imagine this means it will stand up better to the stress and strain of a budding little hairdresser owner!

Alice boxed

Here’s the box shot (many thanks to Maxine for the photo) showing Alice/Emily as she first arrives. Her dark blonde hair is in a side parting, held back with a pretty pink headband, one portion of hair is held to the side with a small piece of elastic, like a small ponytail at the front, which looks quite sweet.

Her outfit is most attractive, I really like the long white and pink tunic top with the flared base, and the puffy sleeves work well. She wears white jeans, a pair of knickers under them, and those bright pink plastic croc-style shoes which are likely the height of fashion (and were the first to be swapped for a pair of trainers once I had my doll unboxed..).

From a child’s point of view I think the Happy Kidz dolls offer a lot more in terms of play options than the Hannah dolls, simply due to the extra joints, and as the clothes for the whole Gotz 18″ range fit easily, she really has a lot going for her. Face-wise despite her serene look I think she can be imagined to have a whole range of expressions, and as you can see, her ostensible age in this white outfit seems less than in the darker outfit I’ve shown her wearing.

Alice Posing

Gotz have released new versions of the Happy Kidz dolls for 2013 and have changed around the doll names, the face moulds and which hair colour appears with each doll. Luckily Emily for 2013 is very similar to her previous incarnation, but with a centre parting and small plaits instead of the side parting. Gotz have a more expensive range of jointed dolls,  Classic Kidz, and the Luisa doll in this range bears a closer resemblance to this Emily, so that would be my choice if you can afford the extra cash or can’t find a 2012 doll and want one looking as close to my Alice as possible. For more info on the various dolls from each range check out Maxine’s really useful post over at the My Doll Best Friend blog, which has plenty of photos for reference.

With these jointed dolls, Gotz can really give Kidz n Cats a run for their money, and provide plenty of extra choices and delightful designs to keep us doll-lovers happy.

Alice in black & white

Boxed doll image © My Doll Best Friend
Outfit: Ebay seller