Monday, December 30, 2019

Best of 2019 - # 1

I guess in a year of "slim pickings" it is only fitting that is one stand-out doll from the small crowd, or should I say a small "gathering".    For the past couple years, IT collectors have had to deal with a lot of problems in the production process of their dolls.  Heads and bodies do no match, hairlines are all over the place and sometimes very poorly rooted.  Eyelashes droop.  Screenings are messed up due to misaligned paint molds.  It's been a total mess!  Rather than push out quantity, IT has been working diligently to try to correct quality control, so there have been fewer dolls this year.

I've often teased that I am not a Poppy Parker collector, even though I've owned the majority of versions that have been released.  For some reason, only a few have staying power.  My "mini-me" is actually the first Poppy I ever purchased in 2009 Summer Magic.  I have brown eyes, and, when I was younger, I had red hair and wore it in a bob with bangs.   Summer Magic is also my avatar on Flickr.  The picture below is actually over 10 years old!
I have sold many Poppy versions that are considered grails by others.  The most interesting thing about Poppy Parker is the versions can look very different from each from just the screenings.  There are fans of every screening.  Poppy has looked very young, more mature, innocent, sweet, and serious.  Poppy Parker has a very strong group of collectors and some of them only collect Poppy Parker.  Poppy Parker is an anomaly in the doll collecting world.

Collectors had extremely high hopes for 2019.  It was the 10 year anniversary of Poppy Parker.  The IT designer, David Buttry, didn't even break a sweat!  If you were a W Club member and you attended the IT Convention "Fashion Week", you had an excellent year of birthday celebrations!  There were 20 versions of Poppy Parker that made their way into collectors' hands in 2019.

When I first started considering the dolls that arrived this year to be included in my Best of 2019 countdown, I quickly realized the list was going to be very loaded with Poppy Parker.   It quickly became apparent that Poppy Parker was going to be my #1 choice for the second time in four years.  So... I have decided to give you my Top 10 Poppy Parkers from her 10th year anniversary in my #1 spot.  Please note that these are my personal favorites!

#10: Gardens of Versailles Poppy Parker
She was the W Club Convention offer this year.  The dress is gorgeous but the face and hair is what brings her to my top 10!  Her popularity suffers from the fact that she was released at the same time as the convention Poppy dolls and they were all so beautiful.

#9: Fashion Week Style Lab - Kicky
I missed out on Big Eyes from 2016, so I was so excited to get this one.  It doesn't hurt she has amazing blue eyes!

#8: Split Decision Brunette
This was a highly anticipated version because she was a close duplicate to one of the most sought after and expensive Poppy Parkers ever produced, Bergdorf Goodman.  I actually think I like Split Decision better!

#7: Fashion Week Style Lab - Far Out
A Poppy interpretation of Francie!  Right down to the oxidized bangs!  Fabulous!

#6: Kimono Go Go
Did not see the potential in this doll until she started showing up in collectors' photos.   She is much better out of that ridiculous costume.  This doll is worth a second look.

#5: Bossa Nova 
I may not be a fan of bangs, but this doll delivers face in a major way.  I even love the ensemble.   One of my very favorite dark haired versions and proved me wrong about my not liking those painted on upper lashes.

#4: Double Agent
This is another that took me by surprise.  I have "To The Fair" and thought this one was too similar.  I fell in love with those eyes!

#3: Fashion Week Style Lab - Groovy
Unfortunately missed getting her at convention and had to turn to secondary market.  (Can't get over the reference to "PJ")  She is skyrocketing!

#2: Fashion Week Style Lab - Cool
I love this doll's coloring.  She is my favorite from the style lab.

#1:  Love Is Blue
This doll is truly one of the most under-rated versions of Poppy in years, but I think she is one of the most elegant and beautiful.  There is a quiet, cool, sophistication to this doll.  

When I was doing my Best of 2019 list, I first tried to group all of the Fashion Week Style Lab dolls as #1.  But then I had to find places for the other six.  Next, I thought I could maybe do all the Convention Poppy Parkers as #1, but I still had three left over.  My only way out of this dilemma was a Top Ten inside a Top Ten.  

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Best of 2019 - #2

In a lackluster year for Integrity Toys (IT), another doll manufacturer decided to wake up the collecting community - for that matter it stirred up the general public as a whole.  

For old farts like me, these can be very confusing times.  Technology is moving so rapidly it's nearly impossible to keep up.   Societal changes are pushing boundaries and demanding more open-mindedness and tolerance.  Fortunately, I believe the more educated one is (in all things), the better off one will be.  Fear is a product of ignorance, ignorance is nothing more than the lack of educating oneself.

"Non-binary" is a new term in our vocabulary.  It seems young adults have evolved beyond gender definition.  People are demanding to be met on their own terms.  It's a very exciting and interesting time in our history.

I had always considered Mattel (the parent company of Barbie) to be extremely traditional.  After all, they have actually helped define gender roles for over half a century!  I shared in the general surprise when Mattel forged ahead in this area in 2019.  Earlier this year, Mattel introduced the first "gender-neutral dolls".   These dolls could be accessorized as either male, female, or gender neutral.  (Photo property of Mattel)

I was very impressed with this concept; however, the dolls did not fit into my collection as a whole.  (Not because of theme, but because of shape and size.)

Mattel kept forging ahead - the next big surprise of 2019 was the BMR1959™ line.  I understand that the name given this line celebrates the year that Barbie® was first introduced to the world and suggests a celebration of 60 years of doll production, but this line of dolls couldn't be any further from the traditional norms of Barbie®.

Collectors have been begging for Fashionistas to be put on the Made to Move Barbie® bodies for years.  I love the articulation and first blogged about these when they were released over four years ago (Link to my review: Made to Move Barbie Review.)  Unfortunately, most of the Made to Move dolls are sports-inspired or yoga dolls.

The "BMR1959™" mini capsule was packaged in brown FSC certified shoeboxes made from materials that have been responsibly sourced and feature a fashion sketch of each doll by their designer, Carlyle Nuera.

The outside of the box states "The BMR1959™ collection celebrates the fashion heritage of Barbie® and showcases how current trends influence the brand.  These bold, fully posable dolls capture the diverse looks found in today's street wear culture.  From high-low fashion fixes, re-imagined '90's gear to juxtaposed patterns, textures, and silhouettes, this curated ensemble is all about personal expression and style."

When you open the shoebox, the dolls inside are packaged quite well.

Here is what they look like in the boxes - each doll has a different interior color.

And closeups of their faces!

This is what diversity is all about.  There are different body types, different ethnicities, different genders, and different preferences.  The ensembles are very vibrant and exciting.  What an amazing way to celebrate the 60th birthday of another "old fart."   This is a very positive step forward for Mattel!

With the cute packaging, cool clothing, and Made to Move bodies, the retail on each doll is $29.99.  After Thanksgiving, each doll went on sale for $19.99 online (Amazon, Target, and Walmart).  I got all six, shipped to my home, for less than the cost of one doll by Integrity Toys!

Best of 2019 - #2 goes to Mattel for being so forward thinking on Barbie's 60th birthday by modeling tolerance to both children and adults and celebrating beauty in all its shapes and forms!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Best of 2019 - #3

Another beauty from the Fashion Week convention, and the doll that most embodied the theme.  This doll was an instant hit.  The hair scared me to death!  Someone posted they used a steamer to control theirs, so I got mine out and it worked!

Easily in the top five on many collectors' lists ...

Best of 2019 #3 - London Show Nadja Rhymes:

Friday, December 27, 2019

Best of 2019 - #4

It would be near impossible to choose a favorite character or favorite mold that is produced by Integrity Toys.  I've been collecting their lines for almost 15 years.  There are some dolls I've owned for that entire time.  There are some dolls that have resided in my collection since their first release, but I have sold many, many dolls.

I have owned every version of Agnes Von Weiss except Saks Fifth Avenue.  I find that I'm either "hot" or "cold" with Vanessa Perrin, preferring mold 1.0 and her classic looks.   I've rarely been able to resist Adele Makeda mold 2.0.  But the one doll I can honestly say makes me swoon when the screening is just right would be Eugenia Frost.

Best of 2019 #4 would have to be Secret Garden Eugenia Frost.  She is one of the most beautiful dolls in my collection.  Amazing screening!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Best of 2019 - #5

It is no secret that I love the NuFace dolls.  They have quickly become the focus of my collection over the past four years.  I think Jessy Ayala does incredible design work for Integrity Toys.  His work is interesting and often cutting edge.  He likes to push the envelope just far enough.

The next two dolls were advertised in 2018, but collectors did not receive them until earlier this year. They were the most eagerly anticipated of the NuFace dolls from last year.  Anytime they show up, they cause excitement.  These characters were my #1 of 2018 and have appeared more often on my countdown than any mold excluding Agnes Von Weiss.   Those Blair sisters really make an impression!

There have been a few times when the sisters appear as individuals, but Integrity Toys likes to put them together (sometimes as a giftset), so they have coordinating ensembles.  I can't express how much I love these fashions!

These dolls represent purchases # 56 and # 57 in 2019.  First up is Unknown Source Lilith Blair.  Lilith usually represents the "darker sister".  

Here is a full length in box photo.
And a closeup.
Here are the accessories (photo property of IT).
Out of the box, she's quite lovely!

And here is her twin sister, Reliable Source Eden Blair.
A closeup of Eden.
Her accessories (photo property of IT).

Out of the box.  Just look at those freckles!!!
The two girls standing together. 
And a closer view.
When the twins appear together, I usually prefer Lilith for some reason.  That wasn't the case this time.  Even with the grayer sclera, I think Reliable Source Eden is one of the most beautiful NuFace dolls in my collection.  Her hair is fabulous.  Those freckles just kill me!   She's everything!

Best of 2019 #5 is Reliable Source Eden Blair.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Best of 2019 - #6

I was feeling badly about the fact that my Best of 2019 countdown list was filled with either dolls advertised in 2018 but not released until 2019 or W Club and Convention dolls.  I was feeling badly until I checked the statistics for doll releases in 2019.

If you were a collector of Integrity Toys dolls but weren't a member of the W Club and did not attend the 2019 "Fashion Week" convention, you had an extremely lean collecting year.  A few of the 2018 dolls weren't released until 2019 (FR2: Divinely Luminous Elyse, Resurgence Natalia, Devotion Agnes, and Secret Garden Eugenia; NuFace2: Beyond This Planet Violaine, The Awakening Annik, Nirvana Dominique, Reliable Source Eden, and Unknown Source Lilith; Split Decision Poppy Parker; et al).

From the two mainlines, there was only one FR2 female doll available for purchase to the general public, Female Icon Dasha, and the FR2 Retrofuture and NuFace Off Duty collections weren't even advertised until "Dolly Days" earlier this month.   Collectors are still waiting on three NuFace and four FR2 dolls that were advertised earlier this year.

There were fewer NuFace characters at Fashion Week since they came out of hiatus in 2014 (2014: 5, 2015: 9, 2016: 4, 2017: 6, 2018: 4, 2019: 3).   If you only consider female characters, there were fewer FR dolls at Fashion Week than any convention in over ten years (only seven this year).

For the sake of collectors, I sincerely hope IT can correct the production problems they are facing in China and can move forward.   I think collectors are beginning to feel the stress and frustration but are unable to figure out exactly where it is coming from.

This brings me to my Best of 2019 #6 doll - she represented purchase #34.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I registered at the W Club Convention and was handed a bag with this doll inside!  I don't believe Agnes Von Weiss has ever been a Welcome Gift before.  Attendees felt very special indeed!

Best of 2019 #6 is Fresh Perspective Agnes Von Weiss.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Best of 2019 - #7

As I continue to prepare my blog entries for my "Best of 2019", I realize that I should share my reasoning for which dolls I select.   Some dolls arrive at my home and they sit in their boxes.  Often there are things about the dolls that I don't love, but I'm not ready to give up on them just yet.  

But sometimes when a doll arrives, she comes right out of that box!   I can't wait to start redressing.  There is something special about the doll; it speaks to me at a place I can't resist.  Those are the dolls that usually get an immediate review, and I can't stop photographing them.   The dolls in my countdown are those dolls.  They are personal to me, so they represent my personal taste.  I know they are not for everyone, but they receive the most play time in my hobby.  

That is true of the next doll.   She was the sixth doll to be deboxed at my house.  I immediately saw a resemblance to Victoria Beckham, Posh Spice.  Here is the original blog entry Best of 2019 #7.

Although part of the 2018 Sacred Lotus Collection, she was delayed in production and wasn't received by collectors until 2019.  Best of 2019 #7 is Resurgence Natalia Fatale!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Best of 2019 - #8

One thing that is really great about Integrity Toys is that the designers really do listen to the collectors.  It was a very wise move to take a mold that collectors liked and give it a new character.  Vanessa Perrin mold 2.0 was turned into the third Perrin sister in 2019, and collectors received two outstanding versions.

The second version was one of the Spring Capsule, three doll, NuFace "Basic" collection.  She was called "My Love".   Fans love this version!  (She was purchase #55 of 2019 in my collection.)

I have already blogged about the other version:  Beyond This Planet Violaine Perrin.  This doll was received in 2019, but many collectors had problems with their production dolls; the foreheads were too high on most of them.  Even with the replacement heads with better hairlines, the gray sclera was just too gray with the pale blue eyes.  A lot of collectors wanted to love this doll but just couldn't.  I didn't find my love until I repainted the sclera on mine.

I like the extra rings in the ears and the one in the nose.  I even like the navy blue lips!  Best of 2019 - #8 would be Violaine Perrin, and I chose Beyond This Planet to represent the mold!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Best of 2019 - #9

It would be an understatement to say, "I love what Jessy Ayala does with the NuFace line."  My NuFace collection has increased substantially since he joined the design team at Integrity Toys.   Although production problems in China affected production of lines this year, somehow Jessy still found a way to get some incredible versions of NuFace molds into the hands of collectors.  It doesn't hurt that he used characters/molds that haven't gotten a lot of attention over the past few years.

The next doll in my countdown was already highlighted in blog:  #53 of 2019.  I was so pleased that she was the W Club Luncheon doll.   Many collectors have avoided her because of her original ensemble, but her redress potential is unparalleled!

In my opinion, she was an obvious choice for my countdown; her screening is truly gorgeous!   #9 of 2019 is NYFW Karolin Stone!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Best of 2019 - #10

I cannot believe it is that time of year again!   I started 2019 with very good intentions, but I definitely lost my way!   Somehow I managed to add more dolls to my collection this year than in any year previous, even though it was a very lean year from Integrity Toys.

Many collectors are beginning to feel oversaturated with product.   There are so many different characters from so many different lines, so many different bodies, so many different feet  This has caused a multitude of dolls being released into the secondary market.  Depending on how you look at it, it can be a bad thing or a great thing.  If you are looking for some good deals and wanting to add to your collection, then it is an awesome time to be purchasing dolls.  If you are wanting to unload some dolls or lower your numbers, it is frustrating and can cause some serious financial damage!

This year, I was able to pick up several Misaki dolls for good prices; dolls that have eluded me in the past due to secondary market prices.  I also got several older dolls that I've been eyeing.  I went to my second FR Convention and purchased much more than I needed (or intended)!  

When looking over all the dolls that arrived at my home this year, I culled out any doll that was actually produced and released prior to 2019.   That eliminated several of my favorite purchases from this year.  When considering what was left, there were some standouts dolls that have brought me joy.

The first doll in my countdown has actually already had a blog entry.  She was the #17 doll added to my collection this year.  Here is a link to the original posting:  Original Blog Posting

For me, Best of 2019 #10 is My Essence Dominique Makeda.  I don't understand how this doll is not more popular.  I adore her!  Her makeup is so clean and her hair is luxurious.  I love the skin tone they used.  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

#53 of 2019 - NYFW Karolin Stone (And #54)

Choosing dolls to release from boxes and add to my collection can sometimes be a long process.  I have very limited display space, so I sometimes have to sell or rebox a doll for another to join those dolls currently out.  

Unfortunately, when you collect Integrity Toys dolls, you can't just return a whole boxed doll and have it switched out for another.  The Patient Care program requires that you identify the problem and then send back the specific part or head/torso for replacement.  This takes some of the control out of a collector's hands about which dolls are released from their packaging first.  It's what happened with NYFW Karolin Stone.

At the 2019 IT Convention, the "Fashion Week" theme was most apparent in the NuFace dolls.  The only NuFace doll in the convention collection was London Runway Nadja Rhymes (#35 of 2019).  At the W Club luncheon on Saturday, the centerpiece doll was Paris Runway Giselle Diefendorf.   
(Hate the color of the interior of these boxes - yellow just doesn't look right on most skin tones).  #54 of 2019.

It seems the NuFace dolls were unsettling to many collectors.  Some collectors loved them, and some collectors disliked them just as much.  The same is true for the W Club Luncheon gift doll that was included with the luncheon fee, NYFW (New York Fashion Week) Karolin Stone.

When I got upstairs and opened my doll, I found that she had not made a safe trip to Baltimore.  She had come untied from her box and had been tossed around.  Her head was twisted around like Linda Blair.  Her eyelash was not secure and she was missing some of the paint from her eyeliner. 

I took her back downstairs, hoping to exchange her, but the IT team had already boxed up everything.  I went to the salesroom and they tried to help me; unfortunately, they were unable to find a doll to switch out, so I was told I would have to contact Patient Care.

When I got home, I had to remove the doll from the box, undress her, and disconnect her from her torso at the breastplate.  She was mailed to Canada.  I just got the replacement this week.

Here is a full length photo of the replaced doll in her entire ensemble.  (Love those shoes!)
And a close up.
I added a hair ribbon to better show that gorgeous face because it is quite dramatic and beautiful.  Fortunately, my replacement had a higher forehead than the original.  This doll's best feature is her eyes.  They are amazing!  Again, the factory workers globbed on too much glue on the eyelashes, but I found a quick fix.  I just took a small paint brush, some black paint and painted over the glue!  It made a significant improvement in photos.

So how will she redress?  How about how does she undress??
#53 of 2019 is NYFW Karolin Stone, a truly amazing doll to photograph!  I think she looks almost like a OOAK re-paint.  She'll be staying here for a long time.  I see a lot of playtime in my future with this doll!  I wonder when her value will increase as collectors realize her potential and she stops being overshadowed by other dolls from the convention...

Sunday, November 10, 2019

#49 of 2019 - Vivid Paradise Tatyana Alexandrova - I Love An Underdog (+ 50, 51, and 52)

Registration to attend an Integrity Toys (IT) Convention is not cheap.  If you paid up front in one payment, it was still $550.   For $550, you get access to the Salesroom, Style Lab, Room Sales, Bazaar, two dinners, one luncheon, and pizza was served during the Bazaar (nice touch!).  This year there was a Welcome Doll (Fresh Perspective Agnes Von Weiss = #34 of 2019), a Gift Doll at the Welcome Party (Vivid Paradise Tatyana Alexandrova #49 of 2019), a Gift Doll at the Poppy Parker Luncheon (Pink Powder Puff - #48 of 2019), and the Convention Doll (Spring 2017 Elyse Jolie). 
(#50 of 2019 is Spring 2017 Elyse Jolie.)

You also got the opportunity to purchase at least two of the centerpiece dolls.

At the Welcome Dinner, the centerpiece was Sting To The Heart Agnes Von Weiss.
That's right Agnes #2 and #51 of 2019. 

The centerpiece at the Banquet was Ethereal Beauty Vanessa Perrin.
Yes, she is mold 1.0!  #52 of 2019.

Even though they are considered "Gift Dolls", they are part of the registration cost.  Excluding Fresh Perspective Agnes, most the "Gift Dolls" have received a very lukewarm reception by collectors and are not fetching very high prices on secondary market.

The doll least preferred by collectors seems to be Vivid Paradise Tatyana Alexandrova.  Here is a photo of her NRFB.
And a closeup.  IT has had quite a bit of trouble over the last three years with heads that are slightly different in color to the dolls' bodies.  Unfortunately, this is the case with my Vivid Paradise Tatyana.  
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)  At the W Club Luncheon, attendees got to view a slide show with embedded videos that walked us through the entire production process.  It was very eye-opening.  Each doll's head is individually rooted by hand.  After the rooting process, the makeup is sprayed on by hand using copper molds placed over the rubber face.  There are as many as 24 molds/steps to putting on a doll's face up.  Eyelashes are then applied by hand.  IT is having trouble keeping a trained workforce because employees are so transient.  There is no "formula" for skin tones.  Each head is produced by a colorist mixing the dyes by hand.  The bodies are also produced in a similar fashion, and because the material for the body is different from the material used for the heads, they sometimes come out slightly different.  Add to that the fact that the heads are "cured" by warming them and that process isn't uniform either, it's a wonder things aren't worse than they are.  It made me look at my dolls very differently.  It's near impossible to get a perfect doll.

(Back from Commercial Break)  Vivid Paradise Tatyana Alexandrova came with some lovely blue shoes and a pair of awesome parrot earrings.  There was also a simple bracelet and another pair of hands (without the long nails).
Since Tatyana is selling so reasonably on secondary market, I decided to buy a nude second one to use as a body donor (she has the "Sunkissed" skin tone which is a good match for the earlier "Tan" dolls).  When my body donor arrived, I found that her head actually matched her body better than mine!  Although her hairline isn't as perfect, she isn't quite as yellow.  I decided to spend some time redressing her before turning on the heating pad.

Here she is wearing a pair of Elen Priv pants and an artist's blouse.  She seems to redress rather well.
I am not usually a fan or lavender colored eyes, but I do like the face-up on this doll.  I had to wash and boil perm her hair to make it more manageable.  I also had to take a needle and remove some of the eyelash glue from one of the eyelashes.  The workers at the factory have gotten very "heavy handed" with the eyelash glue this year.  Sometimes there are really big globs of glue all over the lower eyelash.

While room shopping, I came upon a dress for which I had been stalking secondary market.  I had seen this dress on someone's flickr page and loved it.  I bought it at a room sale for $35!
Although she may be an underdog, I think she is seriously under-rated.  This is probably due to the fact there were so many beautiful dolls produced for this convention.  It's like saying one rose is the least beautiful in a bouquet.  It's still a rose!

#35 of 2019 is Vivid Paradise Tatyana Alexandrova.  (My "Tan" girls are still waiting for the body donor...)