Monday, July 21, 2014

The spa does not have an off-season

Sophie protests to Miss Hanzo that the spa's activities have expanded to the point that people are going to notice. Just today, there are new experimental subjects lining up for intake.

Miss Hanzo inspects Experimental Subjects #4, #5, and #6. Experimental Subject #4 shows unusual signs of intelligence and curiosity, while Experimental Subject #6 was too befuddled by recreational chemicals to follow simple instructions to report nude.

Since this afternoon's temperature was only about 90% as hot as the surface of the sun, I thought it was a good time to take the Mars Orbit to the big Goodwill at the bottom of Tempe, in search of a neutral-toned belt to go with my handy $15 Walgreen's rayon dress, which turned out to be purple rather than black. When I saw a woman shopping in Target in a black-and-white one, I almost asked her which Walgreen's she found that color at, then decided that would be creepy.

The pegboard toy section contained only two doll packs: Snow White (looking insipid) with possible fairy (ditto) and Tiana (in a painted-on bustier and shoes) with a vaguely Asian-looking doll that was probably also a fairy (definitely not another princess -- probably an older Mattel Winx). The secret is that the doll-packs had migrated to the racks above girls' clothing. I rejected a two-pack of very pretty African-American dolls because there were no alterations I wanted to make to them, a pair of tan-skinned dolls with a bonus mermaid, a tan-skinned doll in a pack with a McDonald's mini-Liv Alexis, and at least one pair of matted blondes.

This pack, though, was $1.99 for three dolls plus clothing, a couple pieces of which are usable. I may dislike Barbie clothes, but it's handy to have extra pants.

 It's also handy to have extra experimental subjects. These probably won't be keepers once they've served their purpose as practice dolls for hair styling and (possibly) face improvements.

Experimental Subject #4 has the 1990 Nichelle head mold that was later also used for Christie. She demonstrates "Shani arms" -- the ability to move her arms to the side -- but I can't find a definitive answer on whether this means she's a Nichelle from the short-lived Shani line of African-American dolls with more realistic features and coloring, or whether these arms were widely used on Barbie's friends as well.

Experimental Subject #5 (far right) had to have a crown of trefoils cut off her head, which bristles with hang tags. She has a sultry expression on the Mackie head sculpt -- and the worst hair to ever bear the name of "hair." It has a weird candy-floss texture and comes out in tufts. If she weren't clearly marked Mattel, I'd think she was a discount-store knock-off with a pretty face. Her extremely well-attached crown matches the halo on the Avon Special Edition Angelic Harmony Barbie, but the face screening is wrong. Aha! That's because she's the more down-market 2005 Holiday Angel Barbie.

Experimental Subject #6 is clearly still higher than a kite, which explains both her vacant expression and wobbly ankles. Although she has a tattoo, her beach feet indicate that she's not one of the two tattoo Barbies  that led to widespread hand-wringing and knicker-twisting (Butterfly Art Tattoo in 1999 and Totally Stylin' Tattoos in 2011). She's definitely due for a haircut, and depending what Miss Hanzo's people discover about her past, she may be on track to have her face replaced. (Updated: she is Beach Fun Barbie from 2011, widely used as an example of How Barbie Gives Girls Terrible Body Images.)

Unaware of what fate holds for them, the new "guests" at the spa let their boil-washed and conditioned hair dry. (It's entirely possible that I'm buying dolls mostly so I can boil-wash some more, as it's a remarkably satisfying activity.)

Sites for identifying Mattel faces and body parts:

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