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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