Saturday, December 26, 2020

Best of 2020 - Number 6: Retro Dimensional Vanessa Perrin

The next doll has already been reviewed on my blog and has received numerous photo shoots this year.  Review of Retro Dimensional Vanessa Perrin

She was the 19th doll added to my collection this year.  She is totally amazing and glamorous.  I was thinking she would be in my top 3, but there are so many awesome dolls in 2020.

Best of 2020 - Number 6:  Retro Dimensional Vanessa Perrin

Friday, December 25, 2020

Best of 2020 - Number 7: Miami Glam Kesenia Valentinova

Forgive me for writing this, but I don't believe the digital videos did any favors for the convention dolls.   I'm not sure the photographs were taken in the best lighting or used the best production versions of the dolls.  Style Lab Isha looked horrible in the promos, but she turns out to be one of the best of the Style Lab and is beginning to fetch more than $200 on secondary market.

On Thursday night, digital convention attendees got to see the "Opening Ceremony" table centerpiece and the souvenir doll.   When I saw the photos of the souvenir doll, my only comment was, "Look at that!  They copied Miami Glow right down to her big forehead!"  

Those of you who have been around for a while remember how Miami Glow Vanessa was produced with this extremely high forehead.  (Mine was sent off to Veronica Hage to have her irises  corrected.)

The doll in the promo photo had a similar issue.   I knew there were many things that could go wrong with the production of this doll.  Wonky eyes ... high forehead ... mismatched head/body skin tone ... shortened hair ...

I decided to reserve my judgement until I saw real life versions in collectors' hands.  I even listed her as an "Honorary Mention" when I made my Top 5 of the Legendary Convention collage.

In true Integrity Toys form, the production versions showed quite a variance in eye screenings and hair rootings.   I decided to wait until I found a version that I really liked that fit my budget.  Fortunately, I was able to jump on one rather quickly.

Here is Miami Glam Kesenia Valentinova in the box.

A full length shot.

Out of the box realness!

A lot of collectors struggle with this mold.  I have several versions of Kesenia Valentinova and am a fan.  As a matter of fact, Miami Glam would've been much higher on my countdown on a different year.  This year just had some really great dolls.  

Collectors actually received two versions of Kesenia Valentinova this year.  In addition to Miami Glam, the 2019 Ferocious lingerie doll arrived earlier this year.   
These two versions represent the first time the character has appeared on the taller FR2/FR6 body.  Kesenia Valentinova first appeared at the 2010 IT Convention.  There have only been nine versions of her ever produced.  She is one of the few molds for which I have owned every version.   Still residing here are:

2011 Follow The Line
2012 Long Cool Woman (Miami Glam actually reminds me of this doll a little)
2012 Your Kind of Model (still NRFB)
2015 Entice (transferred to a tall FR2 body)
Appearing for the first time in my countdown, Best of 2020 - Number 7: Miami Glam Kesenia Valentinova.  (And number 32 added to my collection in 2020).

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Best of 2020 - Number 8: Little Day Ensemble Veronique Perrin

2020 was riddled with so much anxiety and stress related to the COVID19 pandemic.  Unfortunately, this stress sometimes poured over into my hobby.

This year Integrity Toys (IT) released a mini capsule, Maison FR Paris Collection, sold directly through dealers.  There were only two dolls.  At first I wasn't that impressed and wasn't planning on ordering either of them.   The more I looked at them, I decided I should take the plunge and just "go for it".  After all, there weren't a lot of new dolls being released this year.  

It turned out that it wasn't difficult to find Siren Silhouette Korinne Dimas.  (Photo property of IT)

This character had never appeared on the FR2 body and hadn't even been produced since 2012.  There were 1100 in the edition size and the price was $175.   Collectors were a little shy about buying her.  I think she will be an interesting addition to my collection, and I believe I will really like the ensemble.  She is already paid for but hasn't been shipped yet to IT.

The other doll was Veronique Perrin, mold 1.0.  If you follow my blog, I had just thinned out my Veronique collection and had even gone on to eliminating doll versions with blonde ponytails!   After all that work, did I really want to stir things up again?   Apparently, the answer was "yes"!

Now, this is where the stress comes in.   Many IT dealers take preorders of dolls following promotion, and it is a total feeding frenzy when new dolls are released.  Some dealers just list the dolls on their website at "first come, first served".   Because I couldn't make up my mind, I had to act quickly when websites starting posting her.

I waited around on the internet for the Couture Dolls site to go live with these dolls.   I completed the checkout process immediately and even got an e-mail confirmation from PayPal at 1:02 that my payment went through (the site went live at 1:00).  That was followed by a a confirmation e-mail from Couture Dolls at 1:16 p.m. that my order was processed.  I was ecstatic!   Done and Done! 

Then at 2:38 p.m., I got a cancellation e-mail from Couture Dolls.  It stated that they didn't have enough dolls to fill the orders.  ... But I was in and out by 1:02 p.m.?  This was the second time this year that I was told I missed out on something by seconds.  (Remember Alain's e-mail about the Legendary Convention ticket?)

Here's where the stress comes in.  It seems Couture Dolls did not have enough allotment to process their online orders, but they got enough to sell the dolls on their website for $300 (that's almost double her retail price).  The sad thing is that dealers can get away with doing this because IT does not police this type of behavior or prohibit it.  Since IT keeps the edition sizes low, there is more demand than supply, so many collectors go to secondary market and pay the inflated prices.  Several dealers are actually guilty of doing this.  It should be stopped, but I guess it will continue as long as collectors allow it.

I had decided that I did not need this doll in my collection and had decided to ignore her completely.  Unfortunately for me, actual photos of the doll captured how beautiful she was.  I had to break one of my collecting rules and purchase the doll secondary market.  

Although Veronique has appeared in my countdown previously:  

2011 - Breaking the Mold was #3

2014 - Full Spectrum was #7

2018 - Fetish Fatale was #9

all of these were mold 2.0 versions.  This is the first time Veronique Perrin, mold 1.0, got into my countdown.  I always claimed that mold 1.0 suffered from poor screening choices after IT switched to the taller bodies.  Here is an example (Onyx Veronique)

The designers refused to believe it could be their choices for screenings and blamed the mold itself.  This was ridiculous reasoning since prior to 2006, there were some amazing versions like Diamond Dusted 

and Sheer Goddess

2020 proved that mold 1.0 could produce beautiful, highly sought after dolls, with the right screening.  This year we go Velvet Rouge Fragrance, Cover Story, and Little Day Ensemble.  All of these were countdown-worthy!

Here is Little Day Ensemble in box.

Full length in box ...

One thing I need to mention is that there is an inconsistency in quality control this year.   With all that is going on globally, it probably should be expected, but it does affect these dolls since they are hand-screened and rooted.  I watched e-bay until an example came up with great eyes and hair.  Here she is out of box.

Full length with jewelry, shoes, sunglasses, and purse (she also came with two additional sets of hands, one of them being a lovely rose colored gloved hand).

If it hadn't been for my bad experience obtaining her, she could've easily been much higher on my countdown.  In any other year, she could've easily been a Number 1 doll.   The ensemble looks a little bulky, but the fabric is very soft.  Her hair is luxurious without a hint of product.  This doll is everything Veronique stands for: exquisite taste and class!  One of my very favorite dolls added to my collection in 2020. 

Number 8 in my Best of 2020 Countdown (and number 31 added to my 2020 collection) is Little Day Ensemble Veronique Perrin (mold 1.0).  


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Best of 2020 - Number 9: Poppy Parker

As a protest against the current collecting situation of this doll line, I almost left Poppy Parker off my Top 10 list this year.  It seems Poppy Parker has attracted a large number of speculators and scalpers.  

I learned that there were a lot of people that signed up for the IFDC this year with the single intent of flipping the dolls, there are W Club members that have purchased several memberships and only purchase exclusives or enter lotteries for the purpose of selling the Poppy dolls and making money, and individuals bought multiple convention tickets only to sell the convention loot on secondary market.  

These sellers seem to be controlling the secondary market because they are posting dolls at 100 - 500% markup.  If collectors would stop buying at such ridiculous prices, maybe the locusts would go away.  

Some collectors buy Poppy versions as "trade bait".  Some sell them for these ridiculous prices to pay for their own purchases.   Add to this chaos the fact that Poppy Parker has attracted a lot of new collectors, and the current state of collecting Poppy Parker is actually quite toxic; I may avoid the line altogether next year.  

2019 was an excellent year for Poppy Parker; she was my Number 1 in my countdown, with Love Is Blue being my favorite version.  I actually added 17 different Poppies to my personal collection, thanks mainly to the 2019 IT Fashion Week Convention.  

As a matter of fact, Poppy Parker is not a stranger to my Countdown.  In 2011, I Love How You Love Me came in at Number 5.  To The Fair showed up as Number 8 in 2013, Joyous Celebration was Number 9 in 2014, and Welcome to Misty Hollows was Number 8 in 2017.  Not to mention, Poppy Parker held the Number 1 spot a second time in 2016 - this time Bonjour Mademoiselle was my favorite.

Even in a lean year like 2020, there may be as many as 17 versions released in the past 12 months (provided Undercover Angel actually ships prior to January 1).  I reviewed the Model Traveler Collection in my blog Review of The Model Traveler Collection and Adding #20 - #23 to 2020.

I was able to acquire Pretty Bird as a W Club upgrade for retail cost. (Added as #20 of 2020 to my collection)

From the mainline, I was able to purchase Hello New York (#21 of 2020), Mad for Milan (#22 of 2020), and Tokyo Twilight (#23 of 2020) directly from IT dealers at retail.

I entered the W Club Lottery for both versions of Anniversary Kiss (#24 of 2020).  Although I preferred the blonde, I at least won the right to purchase the brunette.

That is where my luck with Poppy Parker ended in 2020.  I had to pay secondary market for the W Club Lottery doll, Sizzling in Paris (#25 of 2020).

I was unlucky again in the IFDC lotteries, so I had to resort to e-bay for  Viva Las Vegas (#26 of 2020) and Kiss In The Shadows (#27 of 2020).

Trying to score a 2020 IT Convention Ticket was a nightmare this year!  I got thrown out of the cue three times.  Apparently some of  those who kept hitting "refresh" (even though we were told in an e-mail not to hit "refresh") got through.  Some collectors who were able to jump back on after the website was shut down, were able to sneak through.  Some collectors were able to purchase multiple convention tickets.  It was a total fiasco and left a very bitter taste in my mouth.  (I've been a loyal customer since 2005 and was told by Alain that I missed out by seconds and there was no room after 575 - then the Certificates of Authenticity for the convention dolls list the edition sizes at 660.)

I set a maximum price for dolls I was willing to buy secondary market.  I only secured two of the five versions of Poppy Parker from the IT Legendary Convention.  I got Commanding Attention (#28 of 2020):

And am still waiting for the arrival of Dazzling Debut (#29 of 2020 has been caught in the mail system since 12/6).  The photos of the rest of the dolls in this blog are property of IT:

Even though they were two of the more popular versions of Poppy Parker, you will not find Masquerade Magic

or Anniversary Kiss Blonde 

in my collection because I refuse to pay the current secondary market prices for these dolls.  They exceed my comfort zone for the price of a single doll.

Personally, I was fine with passing up Lady Luck (not my favorite of 2020):

And I've been unable to land the other three IT Legendary Convention Poppies at prices I am willing to pay - Black Tie:

Party in The Hamptons:

And Lovely in Lilac:

Regardless of how I feel about the secondary market of Poppy Parker and the greed we are seeing from some individuals, I still enjoy having this doll in my collection.   Some collectors have commented that the screenings look more mature this year, but I don't mind.  Number 9 of 2020 is Poppy Parker.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Best of 2020 - Number 10: Late Night Dream Victoire Roux

 I can honestly state that I have been a fan of Integrity Toys (IT) East 59th Street line since Victoire Roux first appeared on the scene in 2011.  As a matter of fact, Fauboug Saint-Honore was my #4 doll of that year's countdown.  She showed up again in 2014 as Depart Pour L'Orient at #10.   

The character, Victoire Roux, received a makeover in 2018 with a new mold.  It wasn't until this past spring when Late Night Dream arrived that the new mold made a solid impression with collectors.

Late Night Dream Victoire Roux proves you can produce a doll with a fantastic set of forward looking eyes!   She set a new record on my Flickr account for a photo that was the subject of a TAG Game - Spring Coat:  55, 355 views, 141 favorites, and 45 comments.  TAG GAME: Spring Coat Victoire Roux

Every year I choose one of my favorite dolls of the previous year to be the subject of my "Digital Christmas Card".   This year, I decided to use Late Night Dream Victoire Roux; she is wearing my favorite Holiday Barbie ensemble from 2007.  Late Night Dream Victoire Roux probably should've been higher on my countdown, but we had some fantastic dolls in 2020.

I wish all of my followers and anyone who randomly views this post the merriest of holidays.  Please stay safe.  

Monday, December 21, 2020

Best of 2020 - Before the Countdown - Let's Hear It For Barbie!

2020 will always be remembered as a very challenging and difficult year.   I've made it almost through a pandemic and continued to teach elementary school (face to face with students for the past four months!). 

I believe many collectors turned to their hobby for escape from the pressures of the world.  With so many "sheltering in place", there were no restaurants, no movie theaters, no place to go.  So ... we stayed home and played with dolls!

When Integrity Toys (IT) was not putting dolls into collectors' hands, Mattel was able to step it up this year.  (Note:  All photos property of Mattel.)

What a great year for Mattel!  Many of these dolls could've made it into my Top 10 list this year!  Let's take a quick walk down memory lane ...

Sadly, Mattel failed at their attempt to add articulation to their Silkstone line.  Let's face it, many Silkstone collectors stayed with the line because they liked the original body style.  Collectors who wanted the articulation, didn't like Mattel's interpretation.  It was a mess and no one seemed happy.  While celebrating its 20 year anniversary, Mattel decided that 2020 would be the last year for the Silkstone collection.  I was able to grab my favorite from the 2020 releases, The Best Look.  (BTW, Silkstone ensembles look great on the East 59th Street girls!)

Last year, I actually put the flagship collection of BMR1959 as #2 in my Best of 2019 Countdown.  Collectors loved the diversity of this line, which combined modern interpretations of Barbie characters and Made To Move bodies.   Mattel gave us a second round in 2020 with four new dolls.  All of these were phenomenal (Ken and Midge deserve a special shout-out; they easily could've ranked higher on my list)!

We have a terribly cute, pale skin, redhead male with freckles!

There was a tall girl ...

A short black girl ...

And an amazing doll using the Midge mold (those heavy eyebrows were controversial, but so many fans loved her "in spite of" or "because of" them). 

Just when we thought articulation and funky dolls were exclusive to the BMR1959 line, Mattel throws us a new line called "BarbieExtra".






WOW!  These ensembles look great on Poppy and The Industry bodies.  But the dolls truly stand well in a collection on their very own.  They all came on articulated bodies (but would have been perfect had they been on Made To Move bodies).

Speaking of articulated dolls, we got a whole series of Barbies for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

There was climbing:


Skate Boarder:


And Kick Boxing:

Mattel continued to surprise their Fashionista fans with some very cool dolls.

A couple standouts from this line were

#135 Barbie with vitiligo

#150  Barbie with alopecia

#154 A lavender haired ken

And #164 A black Ken with shaved sides to his hairstyle (my favorite fashionista of 2020).

And the striped dress on #147 should be on everyone's radar.  It looks great on every doll I tried on it on.

Another doll whose ensemble was a must was Hudson Bay Barbie!

Then we have the PUMA clothing line!  How many collectors spent the first few weeks of 2020 haunting Walmart to acquire this entire collection?!

If vintage was your thing, then we have the reproduction of The Barbie Dreamhouse, complete with a gorgeous reproduction platinum bubble and three reproduction ensembles!

The final group of dolls truly showed Mattel's innovative thinking.  Who would've thought of dressing Barbie as male Star Wars characters?  These dolls were truly amazing!  Here is only a sampling of four dolls offered (not shown are Darth Vader, Princess Leia, or R2D2).

There was a lot of strong Mattel product this year, and the offerings were quite diverse.  I think there was a little something for everyone.  (And you could probably buy everything in this post for less than you might pay for one Poppy Parker on secondary market!)

Since several of these found their way to my house, Mattel and Barbie definitely deserve a place in my countdown.