Friday, July 9, 2021

East 59th Street and the Doll Drought of 2021

I have been a fan of the Victoire Roux/East 59th Street line since it was first introduced with Faubourg Saint Honore Victoire Roux at the Integrity Toys (IT) Jet Set Convention in 2011.  (Here she is wearing an earlier FR ensemble, Apertif at the Balthazar.) 

I have owned almost every version of Victoire Roux and immediately got on board the East 59th Street line in 2017.  Luxurious Leisure Constance Madssen remains a favorite in my collection.  (She is actually wearing a Silkstone ensemble!)

Even with the extremely talented, Chris Stoeckel, designing this line, Victoire Roux/East 59th Street has always seemed to lag behind other IT collections.  Maybe it is due to the focus on fashions from the 1940's - 1960's.  Maybe it's because the dolls have always been very stylized in their faces and hair.  Maybe it's because a different body shape was used for these characters.  Whatever the reason, collectors could usually pick these dolls up on sale at most dealers.  That is ... until 2021!

Could the new found popularity be attributed to the fact that it has been a very lean year for IT doll collectors?  

So far in 2021, not including dolls introduced in previous years, there have only been a handful of new dolls announced:  Fashion Royalty - 3 (None of these were available retail and none have actually shipped), NuFace - 4 (1 Open Edition Doll, 1 W Club Upgrade, 2 Retail), Meteor - 2 (Both Open Edition), Poppy Parker - 2 (1 Open Edition, 1 W Club Upgrade), Misaki (1 Retail).  That's less than a dozen dolls in all the other IT lines (excluding Jem) and only 7 of those have even made their way into collectors' hands!

Or, and I prefer this scenario, could the new found popularity be due to collectors finally realizing the quality of the ensembles and dolls?  It's probably a combination of the two.  Regardless, the secondary market prices of the Victoire Roux/East 59th Street line seem to have skyrocketed within the past few weeks.   Some of the older Victoire Roux dolls are now demanding $250+.  Depart L'Orient recently sold for $295, Buenos Aires $378, La Grand Seduction $355, and Story of My Life $350.  The Americano recently sold for $325.  Afternoon Intrigue fetched $275.  Nude dolls are bringing prices usually reserved for desirable FR and Nuface girls!

The newfound popularity could be, in part, due to the fact that eight different dolls have been made available in 2021; the East 59th Street line has given us three dolls from 2020:

#13 of 2021 in my collection, Merry & Bright Della Roux (edition size 550)

#14 of 2021 in my collection, Festive Lights Constance Madssen (edition size 550)

#15 of 2021 in my collection, Sparkling New Year Victoire Roux (edition size 550)

There were two Open Edition dolls in 2021:

#6 of 2021 in my collection, Pin Up Allure Victoire Roux

#7 of 2021 in my collection, Summer Glamour Victoire Roux

Unfortunately, mainly due to my organizing my collection and putting everything in my Detolf cabinets, Summer Glamour is the only doll from the East 59th Street line to make it out of the box and get redressed.  I really like this version A LOT!

There was also a 2021 Mini-Collection, Traveling in Style:

#28 of 2021 in my collection, New York Bound Victoire Roux

This doll has extraordinary screening and hair!  For some reason New York Bound seems reminiscent of the earlier Gene line.  Maybe IT is pulling in those collectors now?

#29 of 2021 in my collection, Home At Last Lady Aurelia Gray

I purchased this doll with reservation.  I wanted the complete collection, but I didn't think I would like this version of the character.  The screening on Home At Last is beautiful!  What a pleasant surprise!

#30 of 2021 in my collection, Romance In The Air Augustus "Gus" Blake

Chris Stoeckel showed some serious wisdom in grabbing up the retired FR Darius Reid mold and using it as a new male character in the East 59th Street line!

I read where some collectors chose to not pre-order these dolls, opting to "pick them up when they go 'on sale' at dealers."  They are probably kicking themselves right now.  None of these dolls made it to the sale bin this time.  As a matter of fact the most recent doll, New York Bound Victoire, actually sold for $475 at a recent e-bay auction and seems to bring between $275 - $332 consistently.

I am very happy for Chris Stoeckel and the popularity he is finally realizing for this line.  I am also very happy that I was able to acquire all of my dolls at regular retail prices!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

#23 of 2021 - Such A Gem Dania Zarr

Most Integrity doll collectors know Ryan Liang.  He is doll couturier who designs under the name "Shantomo".   It was only a matter of time for him to win the IT Design Competition and have one of his designs created for Fashion Royalty collectors.

Such A Gem Dania Zarr was the winner in 2019.  The purchase of this doll was a no-brainer for most collectors (made to order edition size of 1205).  Dania Zarr is a favored character mold and the ensemble is truly wonderful with lots of pieces for mix and match potential.

Here is a picture in the box.

And a closeup.

Such A Gem Dania Zarr is one of those rarer dolls that needs to be released from the box to be truly appreciated.  For some reason, that forward-glancing dead stare in her pale Japan complexion is truly off putting.  She reminds me of Mrs. Danvers from the movie Rebecca!  (Without the mole of course)

Out of the box, you realize the beauty and craftsmanship involved in the production of Such A Gem Dania Zarr.

There really is A LOT going on in this ensemble.  Here is a picture of the accessories (property of Integrity Toys).  I am very happy that the mesh portion of this ensemble is actually a separate underskirt.  (The bow is also detachable, but I really like it quite a bit.)

Since Mrs. Danvers was on my mind, I decided to try a little redressing and see if I could create a more modern version (even more so than Kristin Scott Thomas).  Here is Such A Gem Dania Zarr wearing the lace gown from Sister Moguls.

So, what about that mesh skirt?  I've been toying with the idea of using it with other designs.  How about A Fabulous Life Rayna Ahmadi?  She's been hanging around in her summer ensemble of 2011's Veronique Breaking the Mold blouse and Randall Craig slacks.  For some reason this version has always reminded me of Angelina Jolie.

Let's put her back in her original dress and try to mesh skirt.  What do you think?  Maybe I should keep looking...

As part of my summer organization plan, I decided to change the bodies of some of my dolls.  Sweet Nothings Gretel Eden Blair is one of my very favorite versions of that character mold.  I put her on a Nuface2 body.  How would she look in the Such A Gem dress with train?

What do you think?  I don't know why, but all of the dolls in this blog are reminding me of actresses.  Does anyone else see a younger Lisa Hartman Black in this doll?

So, what's my final opinion of Such A Gem Dania Zarr?  Love the flexibility of the ensemble and it will allow a great deal of redress options (if I can get it off Eden Blair).  The doll is so elegant and refined.  Such A Gem is definitely a keeper!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

That UGLY Secondary Market

I was going through all my records from this year and checking them against my blog.  If you haven't already done so, you need to keep records of your purchases (and sells).   Apparently, the latest Covid19 Relief Bill passed by Congress included some sneaky details that had nothing to do with the pandemic.  One of those details is that PayPal/E-bay must start issuing 1099 forms for all sales over $600 starting in 2022.   That's right gentle reader.  

Fortunately, I started keeping a spreadsheet of my collection in 2015.  I keep up with what I pay for a doll, taxes, and shipping.  I also keep up with doll sales with E-bay/PayPal fees, and shipping costs.   

My first resolve for organizing my collection this summer was that I wasn't going to buy any more dolls secondary market.  (That will probably change after the convention releases.)  As luck would have it, I finished my collection from the 2020 IT Legendary Convention this spring when prices settled down a little after the holidays.  Here is a quick look at those purchases.

#16 of 2021

Not Pretending Eden Blair

#17 of 2021

Fierce Zuri Okoty

#18 of 2021

Style Legacy Isabella Alves

#19 of 2021

Body of Work Isha Kalpana Narayanan

#20 of 2021

Celebration Aymeline

#21 of 2021

Lovely in Lilac Poppy Parker

#22 of 2021 

Black Tie Poppy Parker

It's hard to believe I accomplished this in the first few months of 2021.  (Unless you look at my credit card debt; then it is apparent how I did it!)   In addition to the last six Legendary Convention dolls added to my collection, I also picked up a couple other girls.

#24 of 2021

This doll rarely shows up on secondary market.   She is from the 2010 IFDC Convention collection, Curiouser & Curiouser Alice - Dynamite Girl Gavin.  Her edition size was only 300.  The ensemble is amazing in detail.

#27 of 2021

Colette Duranger (mold 1.0) is one of my favorite characters Integrity Toys has ever produced.  I initially passed on Lost Angel Colette Duranger because she has purple irises.  I've always considered adding her to my collection and getting her eyes repainted.  She recently turned up on secondary market at an excellent price.  She was "Mint in Box" with her complete ensemble.   I took the plunge, knowing that she would require a body change.  This is a photo of her redressed.

So ... I am almost caught up.  That completes my list of secondary market dolls purchased in 2021 (so far).   My Sales vs Added lists are actually balanced at this time: 27 in/27 out.  I realize I have several dolls on pre-order, so I need to get busy sorting.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

#9 of 2021 - Right Ensemble, Wrong Doll

Doll collectors can sometimes be fickle; they can also be fiercely loyal.  Somewhere between these extremes lies most of us, being hesitant to jump on board a new doll line.  (I can still remember how it took a couple years for Poppy Parker to be embraced by the community!)

Somehow that wasn't the case for Integrity Toys (IT) newest line, Meteor.  It was only introduced last year but was an immediate hit.  IT started the line with modest edition sizes of only 525.  

The Meteor line was marketed as a response to the doll collecting community's cry for more diversity in the dolls being produced.   Although I liked all five of the dolls in the initial lineup, I chose to only purchase the W Club Exclusive Afterglow Keeki Adaeze.  (Photo property of Integrity Toys)

My decision was based on the fact that IT had elected to create yet another body type to go with this line; it's similar to the FR6.0 body but has a larger breast plate.  I knew I could always use Aferglow's ensemble (especially that amazing coat) on a different doll in my collection.  And I loved those boots.

Also, like others, I wanted to wait and see real life photos of the dolls produced.  The story setting for the Meteor collection is a dance club.  The concept is quite nice and the characters all fit well together.  After dolls were shipped they started selling out quickly.  Right now, they can only be obtained on secondary market and at close to double their original prices.

When the next two dolls were revealed, I jumped in.  I'm glad I did.  I'm going to review #9 added to my collection in 2021, Coming Out Navia Phan.  Here is one of the promo shots by Integrity Toys.

Some collectors refer to this ensemble as the Covid19 Coronavirus ensemble because the pattern in the dress has a symbol that sort of looks like the picture of the virus.  I find this so funny, yet so appropriate to the last 18 months!

For some apparent reason, I can't help but see supermodel and "Lip-sync Battle" host Chrissy Teigen in this doll.  I think IT missed the mark by producing this doll in the Japan Skintone.  Here is a photo of the doll in the box.

And a closeup.

Although the ensemble fits the dance club vibe, the doll just looks too innocent and young.  I think IT must have realized this early in the production process because they didn't even use the Meteor body for this doll.  (Larger boobs would've looked ridiculous with that cute face!)  Coming Out Navia Phan was produced using the FR6.0 body.  Here is a missed opportunity because I think they should've take her down at least one more degree to the NuFace2 body.  (The ensemble looks amazing on Billion Dollar Baddie Alejandra Luna!)   

I decided this doll needed to be part of The Industry squad; maybe a personal assistant for Tulabelle.  I put her on a body from The Industry.  She is wearing a Barbie ensemble.  What do you think?  Is anyone else getting the Anne Hathaway "Devil Wears Prada" feel from this?  I think she's going to hang around in my collection for a while.  Tulabelle already has some errands for her to run.

But what about the Coming Out ensemble you ask?  

Why it was snapped up quickly by one of my girls. I Slay Nadja Rhymes didn't allow it any closet time.  She may just have found her "forever ensemble" to be displayed in.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Could Someone Please Call A Plumber?

Note:  Please forgive me for not including photos in this blog entry.  This was more of a soul searching ramble of words.

I have drafted this blog entry several times.  The past 18 months have been a very confusing time; it's hard to believe that the flu has caused such disruption in so many lives.  

Last year I was doing a great job keeping my collection balanced.  That is, I was doing a great job keeping my collection balanced until Covid19.   I was off to a great start in 2020, between January 1 and June 30, I sold 42 dolls!   

Our state went into "quarantine" in April.  Fortunately, I had completed enough reorganization to continue my sales through June.  Then my Covid19 puppy, Harleigh, came to live with us May 26.  She has become an amazing member of our family, but she needed a lot of attention during the adjustment period of those early months.

In July, our county went back to school; at least the teachers did, and we continued online instruction for the first few weeks.  Students came back the beginning of September.   Teachers had a whole new mess of problems:  students had to be socially distanced, surfaces had to be cleaned every time students changed class, teachers were quarantined after coming in contact with the virus, and everyone had to wear masks.   It was very stressful.  

Covid 19 meant business.  I lost a family member and a couple friends to it.  It's been a very scary time that has affected the entire world.  

For the first time, the post office no longer guaranteed services.  2-Day Priority Mail could take weeks to be delivered!  There were horror stories of buyers charging back to sellers successfully while receiving the doll weeks later, only to keep the merchandise and their money.   I was afraid to try to sell anything!  Instead, I have focused on organizing my collection into Detolf cabinets my husband purchased for me as Valentine's Day presents.  

Although I hadn't planned to do it, I retired on June 1, 2021.   I don't think it's hit me yet.  I have decided to take my collection into control this summer.  I've sold 19 dolls in two weeks!  

What am I doing with the "extra money".   Sadly, being sequestered at home leaves a whole lot of on-line shopping time.  I didn't get a ticket to the Integrity Toys Legendary Convention, so I spent more money that I had saved due to secondary market prices.  I have actually carried a credit card balance from October to now.   That's the first time I've had a credit card balance in years and was contrary to my retirement plans.  I rationalized, "I could catch the flu and die in a few weeks; I should buy what I want and enjoy my time at home."  I doubt if I am alone in this thought process.

So, other than pre-order dolls, I am staying away from secondary market prices on dolls and am going to continue selling and hacking away at my credit card debt.  My goal is to have a 0 balance by July 31.   [EDIT:  I successfully met my goal!  Actually a whole month early!  I sold enough dolls on secondary market to get my credit card balance to "0" by June 30.   I have promised myself to no longer carry a credit card balance.  If the funds aren't available, I don't need it OR I sell enough items to cover the cost.]

Starting soon, I will be posting photos of the changes in my collection.  I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Organization - Cabinet 2 Shelf 3

You are probably wondering what happened to Cabinet 1 Shelves 3 and 4?  

When I started pulling my dolls to organize them, I wanted to keep them in order by year of production and then by body type.  I started with all the dolls pre-2006 that had replacement bodies to the Tall FR body.   There were enough to fill up an entire shelf (Cabinet 1, Shelf 1).  Organization, Cabinet 1, Shelf 1

The next shelf concentrated on dolls that were produced post-2005 that were still on the Tall FR bodies.  There were 12 dolls from 2006 - 2008 to fill Cabinet 1, Shelf 2).  Organization - Cabinet 1, Shelf 2

After completing Cabinet 1, Shelf 2, I realized that I had some pre-2006 dolls that still had not been put in the display cabinets.  The problem was that these dolls had all been put on FR2/FR6.0 bodies!   I knew I needed to figure out where to start displaying these dolls while leaving room on previous shelves for other dolls produced between 2006 - 2014 that were still on the Tall FR bodies.  Also, I have reserved the bottom shelf of Cabinet 1 for my dolls' wardrobe boxes.  

Cabinet #2, Shelf #3 - Back row:

Shock Bon Bon Vanessa Perrin (mold 1.0) from 2004.  She was put on one of the first released FR2 bodies because he skin tone is difficult to match.  Her original sweater still fits.  I added a Randall Craig skirt.

Since I wanted to display her in her original gown, I had to put Talking Drama Adele Makeda (mold 2.0) next.  (The trains of the dolls' gowns can drape over the back of the shelves because there is a gap between the shelf and the cabinet wall.)  Talking Drama Adele Makeda is from 2007 with an edition size of 500.  I used a replacement body produced by IT in the "Black" skin tone.  The gown still fits beautifully!

Cosmetic Takeover Natalia Fatale (mold 1.0) is also from 2004 and rounds out the back row (since Talking Drama's gown is so full, I could only fit three dolls across the back row).  She was the very first Integrity Toys Convention Doll and was only produced in an edition size of 300.  Her body is from the second round of "Latino" bodies produced by IT.  Her original ensemble actually looks better on the FR2/FR6.0 body!

Middle Row:

Bodacious Adele Makeda (mold 2.0) is from 2005.  She not only took the ensemble from Time and Again Adele (2015), she stole her body!  She was a difficult doll for which to find a body donor because there are some reddish hues to her skin tone; she cannot use the mass produced replacement bodies in the "Black" skin tone!

Next up is Glimmer Luchia Zadra from 2008.  Her body was from the most recent IT "Japan" skin tone replacement body release.  She is wearing Tatyana Alexandrova's Goddess ensemble from 2018.

Graphic Language Adele Makeda (mold 2.0) is still considered by many as one of the best versions of this mold (even without applied eyelashes).  She is from 2004.   Her body is also one of the mass produced "Black" skin tone versions.  She is wearing her original sweater and a Randall Craig skirt.

Shake It Up Korinne Dimas was from the 2012 IFDC.  Her edition size was only 300.  She benefitted from an IT replacement body from the last release of "Japan" skin  tone bodies.  Her original ensemble is another one that looks better on the FR2/FR6.0 bodies.

Front Row:

This brings me to my favorite dolls that have been put on FR2/FR6.0 bodies that were released prior to 2013.

Although she isn't a grail, Gold Glam Adele Makeda (mold 2.0) is from 2013 and was only produced in an edition size of 300.  Her replacement body was difficult to locate.  She is using Vivid Encounter Adele's body from 2014.  Her original dress looks great on the FR2/FR6.0 body!

Next up is Force of Nature Agnes Von Weiss.  She was the centerpiece doll from the Welcome Dinner at the Tropicalia Convention in 2012 (edition size 200).  The closest match for her skin tone is 2014's Elusive Creature Natalia Fatale.  She could wear her original dress, but the matching tap shorts won't go over her new legs.  She is wearing Iselin's Fall 2018 Gown.

One of the most sought after version of Adele Makeda (mold 2.0) is The Muse.  She is from 2008's convention and has an edition size of 400.  She is wearing 2016 Dania Zarr's Tweed Couture ensemble.  (The sleeves on her original ensemble are too short.)   Her body is one of the IT replacement bodies in the Dark A-Tone skin tone.

My final doll on this shelf is Second Skin Vanessa Perrin (mold 1.0).  She is 2014 and was released in an edition size of 300.  She was another difficult doll for a body replacement.  Her match is from the 2017 Faces of Adele giftset.  Her original ensemble fits the FR2/FR6.0 body quite nicely.

This shelf is home for:

Vanessa 1.0 - Two dolls

Luchia - One doll

Natalia - One doll

Korinne - One doll

Agnes - One doll

Adele 2.0 - Five dolls

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

#12 of 2021 - Pretty Reckless Rayna Ahmadi

 Never has irony been more obvious with an Integrity Toys product than the name given this Rayna Ahmadi.   It has become an apparent joke among collectors regarding the coincidence that the factory worker who rooted this dolls' hair was "pretty reckless".  

It's safe to say that I am a BIG fan of the Rayna Ahmadi mold.  I own every version ever produced.   When Pretty Reckless was unveiled I knew I had to have her.  Imagine how fortunate I felt when I was able to purchase her at retail price!  

I was so looking forward to this amazing doll. Here is the promo photo from Integrity Toys.

Just look at that ensemble! And the doll is gorgeous.  Here is the IT closeup.

Unfortunately, the photographer for IT has been a little heavy handed with the filters and Photoshop aps lately.  This is the actual production doll.

Her hair is not the rich tone in the promo photo. It is truly platinum white; it's almost translucent. The eye makeup is much heavier.  It almost looks like its smudged.  She looks either hung over or like she's been on the losing end of a WWF wrestling match.

But the real problem is with the rooting of the hair.  Fortunately, the front of my doll's hair looks pretty good.  The right side is a mess.  You can see skipped stitches, crooked hairline, and the white painted scalp shows through the sparse rooting.  It's just not pretty at all.  From this angle, you also get an idea about the skin tone difference in the head and body, which IT now says is acceptable production deviation.

Here is the left side.  It is much better than the right.

I have seen much worse versions than mine.  Reluctantly I contacted Patient Care.  They gave me the directions for returning the head for a replacement.   I always hate the hassle of this.  You have to ship the head to Canada, send a copy of the receipt to Patient Care, and then wait for as much as 3 months for the replacement to arrive. More than a couple times, I have actually gotten a replacement that was worse than the original I mailed in.  It has been rumored that IT sometimes sends replacements from the "return" pile.  Add to this the pandemic, and I'm not sure I want to even put myself through these hoops.

When you pay upwards of $200 (which includes shipping) for a doll based on a promo photo, the production doll should be pretty close to what is advertised.  I think it's time, IT invested in better photo editing programs and tried to get the pictures as close to the production doll in hand as possible.

I am one disappointed collector in this purchase.