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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

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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