Saturday, February 13, 2021

SOLD - Charmed Life Ayumi Nakamura

(NOTE:  I sold this doll nude in June 2021)  

This is one of those odd, but surprisingly not uncommon, times when a collector has a doll delivered in one year that was actually paid for in a previous year.   I do not like including dolls in either my sidebar list of "Added Dolls" or my annual countdown that I don't actually have in hand, so she is showing up in my 2021 list.

Charmed Life Ayumi Nakamura (mold 3.0) was the W Club Event Doll from the 2020 Integrity Toys (IT) Legendary Convention.  Since the Legendary Convention was held in a virtual platform, all W Club members were given the opportunity to purchase the luncheon ticket ($145) which included Charmed Life Ayumi Nakamura and the opportunity to pre-order Wicked Narcissism Eugenia Frost.   (In the past I always felt like the doll's value was closer to $125 since you were getting a meal.  Has anyone else figured out that IT was making solid profit on this convention since they were not paying staff travel, hotel, or food and were not including actual meals and space rental for the events?  Wonder why the prices didn't reflect a discount?   Just a personal musing ...)

Although the Legendary Convention was in early November, these dolls did not begin shipping until early January.   Here she is in the box.

As you can see, my doll had crooked bangs.  (Sadly, the lack of consistent quality control has become commonplace with IT.)  This doll's faceup has the top lip painted a different color than the bottom. I'm not really a fan of this technique.

I took a deep breath, some cuticle scissors (the best way to trim a doll's hair because you have more control and can only do a little at a time), put on my magnification goggles, and went to work.  Here she is out of box.

Here is the IT stock photo of the accessories.  The boots are nice.  I appreciated the cap and black gloves.  The charm necklace mirrors the doll's name, Charmed Life, which is a cute touch.

During the IT W Club Event, the designer, Jessy Ayala, reported that this doll was based on the 2007 version of Ayumi Nakamura (mold 1.0) Miracle Child.  Here is the IT photo of that doll.

I thought the dress looked more like the 2006 Fashion Royalty separate ensemble, Guaranteed Chic.

The dress is a little short for my liking.  It does have a built-in bodysuit.  With the hat and gloves, it comes across a little "costumey".  I tried adding the black slip from Guaranteed Chic.

I'm still not sold on the dress.

I'm also not a fan of the hairstyle (hime bangs on a doll = no ... just "no").  This doll has been compared to band member Lisa of the popular girls group, Blackpink.  Although this may be on trend, I really don't care for it.  

In my doll world, it's how the doll redresses that counts.  Since she has golden yellow eyeshadow, I reached for Elyse Jolie's On The Rise dress.

Not bad.  Then, I tried putting her in Glam Addict Giselle Diefendorf's ensemble with Live, Work, Play Giselle's jewelry.  

This is much better, don't you agree?  

I don't think I would've pursued purchasing this doll had she not been the "gift" doll with the purchase of the W Club Event.  I was excited about the hair color, but the style is just too difficult to work with.  I've really struggled with the Ayumi Nakamura mold and believe 2016's Total Betty

and 2017's Haungtingly Lovely

are still better versions of this mold.

I have decided that I need to ask myself two questions when deciding the fate of a new doll:

1) Does this release rank in the top 3 versions of this mold/character?  Actually, I guess she does.  She would be my third favorite.

2) Would it be possible for this doll to make my Top 10 Countdown at the end of the year?  I hope not.  It wouldn't be a great year for collectors if Charmed Child Ayumi Nakamura is one of the best dolls received in 2021.

So, that is a split decision.  She will probably wind up either being sold or parted out.  (NOTE:  She was "parted out" and sold nude.  I just couldn't bond with this doll; she doesn't represent my aesthetic.)

Sunday, February 7, 2021

A Funny Thing Happened As I Was Leaving Target ...

We all know what it's like when you're waiting on your dolls to arrive and they are being held hostage by the postal system.  We often start lurking on doll sales boards and the dreaded e-bay.   

We have overspent on the Christmas holiday and secondary market prices are just too much ... There's nothing in our collection that we want to redress and play with ... We badly need a doll fix ...

It's at times like this we start wandering the local toy aisles at our retail stores.  Hopefully we'll find a new Mattel ensemble that might look nice on Poppy.  Maybe the new Made To Move Barbies will be out!   

I needed some school supplies for school, and I just happened to have a couple gift cards in my purse that were given to me by my students.  What could it hurt to check out the toy aisle?

There was very slim pickings in the Mattel aisle.  A few fashionistas that had been picked over.  Several Barbie Career dolls.   Some shoe packs.  Nothing interesting.

So I thought I would check out the other aisles.  Maybe I would be inspired to create a little diorama or add something to my displays.  

I went down the next aisle.  There were some cute little food items, but they had faces on them.  Let's try the next aisle.

BIG MISTAKE!  She looked directly at me.  She hypnotized me with those acrylic eyes.  She reeled me in with that flame red hair.   But the deal was closed the second I saw the red, black, and white cheerleader ensemble!  Her price tag, only $22.99.  I would even have gift cards left over!

This is Ruby Anderson, Rainbow High Cheer Squad.  I have avoided the Rainbow High dolls ever since they were first released in 2020.  They are produced by MGA Entertainment (the same manufacturer as Bratz).   I had picked up a couple of them in the store and carefully eyed the clothing, considering the possibility of use on Integrity Toys dolls.   But I REFUSED to get sucked into another play line.

As a teacher whose elementary school is close to a college town for a major university with a huge football following, I am easily drawn to things with this theme.  Ruby Anderson's cheer costume looks a lot like the UGA's.

I started off 2021 by breaking My #1 Rule "Focus my collecting.  If I don't already have one, I don't need one."  This is not looking good.

... So, Ruby is obviously going to be displayed in her original ensemble.  When I was removing her from box (you need a lot of patience, a pair of scissors, and strong fingernails to complete that task), I realized she had quite a sturdy body for a play line doll.  It feels heavy and substantial.  It's also quite articulated.  I thought about undressing her and checking out her body, but I was afraid I might mess something up and the pompoms are attached to her hands by plastic. 

It turns out, some of my students had also given me some Amazon gift cards for Christmas.  Ruby obviously needs a friend.  She can't be all alone on the shelf.  The back of the box shows that there is a separate doll in the Cheer Series representing six colors of the rainbow.  

Ruby Anderson is Red, Poppy Rowen is Orange, Sunny Madison is Yellow, Jade Hunter is Green, Skylar Bradshaw is Blue, and Violet Willow is Violet.  The Indigo color is missing.  It seems that the manufacturer wanted to release a black doll for the Indigo version but had production problems.  These six original characters also appeared in Series 1 which included an additional ensemble for each doll.   

Before choosing I decided to do some online research.  My goodness MGA has quite a thing going with these dolls.  They have their own website:  Rainbow High Website.  There is even a Youtube channel for them with animated stories about the dolls!  Rainbow High Youtube Channel

In addition to the original six characters for Series 1, there have been three exclusives produced: Amaya Raine (Hair Studio), Avery Styles (Fashion Studio), and Kia Hart (Valentines Day).  The Second Series was also just released with six different dolls, including the much anticipated Krystal Bailey representing Indigo.

I decided that I wanted to get the most bang for my buck.  I had enough Amazon gift cash for Avery Styles Fashion Studio ($49.99 with free shipping).

I chose this doll because she was wigged (Rainbow High dolls have so much rooted hair, it is difficult to photograph the bodies).   I also wanted all those mix n match clothing pieces (the box cover says over 300 looks).  But the piece I most needed was that clothing rack!  (Its wheels even roll!)

Excluding the Cheer Squad, The Rainbow High dolls come with a stand.   (I am using it to hold the second wig in this picture.  I used a kaiser stand for Amaya.)  The shoes in the Fashion Studio come with really nice acrylic boxes!  

This is how she looks out of her packaging.

When you remove the wig (which is held in by a peg with a small hole in her head), you find that she has molded pink hair in a pixie cut!  Cute attention to detail here.  The head is not "rubbery" at all.  The plastic seems firm.  She has painted on panties for modesty.  The faces have a shimmery finish that I have read is easy to remove with acetone.  The eyes have beautiful eyelashes!

The arms are articulated at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist.  The hands can be removed to dress the doll.  This is very similar to Made To Move and Integrity Toys dolls.

Here is a comparative photo with a Made To Move Barbie body (on the right) and an Integrity Toys Poppy Parker body (in the middle).  

Rainbow high dolls are shorter.  They have bigger feet, shorter torsos, and slightly bigger hips (which looks more enhanced by the shorter torso).  Rainbow High dolls are missing the articulation at the breast plates and ankles.  Like the Made To Move body, they have the added twisting articulation at the thighs.

When redressing the Rainbow High dolls to try on other lines' clothing, the pants are usually too long, and sometimes the feet can't get through the holes.  Rainbow High dolls seem to fit the pants and skirts from the "Fresh" and Made To Move Curvy doll lines best.  (Photo comparison with Curvy Fashionista body)

Collectors have been looking at different wig possibilities for this doll.  I found out that Rainbow High heads are similar in circumference to the Wilde Imagination Ellowyne Wilde line (which is another line I collect).   Here is a wig I had purchased for my Ellowynes.

What do you think?

So... my final thoughts.  These dolls are actually excellent play line dolls.  They have nice articulation, acrylic eyes, and are quite sturdy.  Their clothing is well constructed "on a budget".   The regular line features one dressed doll, a stand, comb, and an extra ensemble that includes footwear.   At the price point of $26.99, they are comparatively priced to Mattel dolls and are a fraction of the cost of Integrity Toys products.  (Sadly, I have read that they are more expensive in other countries.)

Their bodies, heads, and feet are exaggerated but "fit their characters", making them unique among what is available to the general public.  (Their neck holes apparently allow for body switching if you are up to it and can find a good skin tone match.)  Improvements that I would like to see would include more articulation at the neck (their heads can only turn side to side).  There are youtube videos that provide guidance for removing and replacing the neck knobs that will fix this, but I think the manufacturer should correct this in the production process.  It would also be nice if they had articulated ankles.  At least one of the characters has flat feet, so they all cannot share footwear.  Articulated ankles would fix this.  I would also like them to have a breast plate articulation or a swivel waist.  It would allow greater poseability.

Now, for the $30 question.  What do other dolls look like wearing the Rainbow High clothing?  First, the Rainbow High pants look more like crop pants without boots.  Good boots will hide that they are too short.  The tops and skirts aren't too bad on smaller bodies.

Here is Summer Magic Poppy Parker modeling two of the pieces from the Avery Styles Fashion Studio.

Judge for yourself.  As for me, I'm afraid that every time I need a "quick doll fix" I'll be heading to Target or Walmart.  I'm afraid as more doll collectors become aware of these dolls and their potential, they may get harder to find.  Apparently, some of the Series 1 dolls are becoming more rare.  Dare I complete the series?  Only time will tell.