Sunday, August 3, 2014

A group portrait for National Doll Day

In honor National Doll Day, the girls gathered for a group portrait. Of course, getting everybody looking the same direction, with their eyes open, was virtually impossible.

There is no consensus on head size in this civilization.

Below the fold, there are smaller group portraits by doll type, along with a FAQ so that new visitors know what's going on here, other than, say, utter madness.

Group 1: Liv Dolls

Back row: Katie, Hayden with Fitzroy, Alexis.
Front row: Sophie, Krystle (younger sister of Alexis).
Katie and Hayden have a house. They also have a lot of guests, many of whom are their college friends.


  • Hayden Basswood has an editorial job at a boutique publication. She would like the household to settle down enough so that she can quietly grow herbs and cruise vintage shops. She went to a small college back East, majoring in literature. 
  • Katie runs an incredibly trendy bicycle and skate shop that gets massive hipster press but has small profit margins. She is thinking of adding a coffee bar to the shop. Katie majored in business.
  • Alexis is working on her Realtor license. She loves thrift stores, flea markets, and Home Depot. She wears a hat to church like her Mama did back in Alabama. Alexis was a fellow business major. 
  • Sophie says she's a personal stylist but her connection with the spa seems to go further than that. She was top of her class in political science, and everybody wonders why she didn't go to law school.
  • Krys is the under-achieving younger sister of Alexis, who needs to go back to community college and find a direction in life.
  • Fitzroy is a dog. Alexis brought him home.
Group 2: Monster High
The plane going overhead distracted the girls -- except for Hattie. Hattie has lived here long enough to look for the black helicopter that follows.

Left to right: D'Laura, Cleo de Nile, Hatshepsut de Nile

  • D'Laura is what Draculaura's calling herself now that she's graduated from Monster High and contemplating her freshman year at ASU. She can't decide between majors in literature, history, and biochemistry, but she's hoping Katie's coffee bar will be vegan.
  • Cleo de Nile is also starting her freshman year at ASU, but she's mostly pleased it's a party school.
  • Hatshepsut de Nile is Cleo's cousin, a junior majoring in archaeology. We do not discuss the tragic loss of her left forearm.
Group 3: Barbie

Miss Hanzo (who has spotted the black helicopter) insisted on including the Experimental Subjects with the best chances of keeping their faces and eventually getting articulated bodies.

Back row: Elena Rodriguez, Raquelle Hanzo.
Front row: Experimental Subjects 4, 3, and 6.


  • Elena Rodriguez was a college curling teammate of Katie's, or so the story goes. She seems to know the right people. When she checked into the spa, she knew herself only as "Sporty."
  • Raquelle Hanzo runs the mysterious spa. She knows life ain't no dream house.
  • Experimental Subject #4 used to call herself Nichelle. Her odds of earning an articulated body and adventures of her own are increased by her expression of alert intelligence and curiosity -- the latter already demonstrated by her discovery of the face-removing operation at the spa.
  • Experimental Subject #3 was called Kayla when she was in the larger world. She is Maori.
  • Experimental Subject #6 has no memory of her prior life, though she mutters about angels.
(not that anybody has asked these questions, frequently or otherwise, but somebody should)

I had a notion about doing a dollhouse in 1:6 scale. The project quickly developed scope creep.

Do you consider yourself a doll collector?
I do not collect. I accumulate.

Are there any rules to the accumulation?
  1. No full-price purchases. This is a purely discount/thrift/swap meet project because I want complete freedom to do with dolls as I like, and my budget does not allow for taking risks with people who cost $20 and up.
  2. Anybody who stays long-term must be given an articulated body. Articulated bodies must also be obtained at steep discount.
  3. No males and no sisters younger than late teens. 
Why no males or little sisters?
It's an Amazonian society based around female friendship and focused on career aspirations that happen in the early-to-mid-twenties. Also, I don't want to sew outfits for male dolls or little girls. While everybody's in quick-and-easy sundresses now, I eventually want to sew more fashionable and complex outfits for young women. (And even if I never get to that, they can at least share clothes.)

There are plenty of heteronormative relationships in the smaller dollhouses. Well, actually there are two: Selena and Veinous Dude, and then Spider Man and Catra. And I guess both of those have a semi-alien as one partner. The gender of the 6-foot-tall Goth Bunny who invited Vincent Van Gogh to move in has never been determined, and a lot of the other residents are single. This is only a slightly exaggerated reflection of the neighborhood I live in, in real life.

If there are no males, how do they reproduce?
Like bunnies, it seems. The stork goes to Goodwill, and next thing you know: new friends!

Don't you feel you're doing harm to manufacturers by only buying discounted or at thrift?
If I personally am driving the toy market, the economy's in more trouble than anybody realizes. Some people pay full price to have things when they're new, and that makes them happy. I wait until things are discounted or come around in the thrift cycle, and that makes me happy. If everybody was like me, we would eventually run out of new stuff; but if nobody was like me, the discount chains and thrift stores couldn't survive.

If we count Cleo and Hattie as Middle Eastern, and include the Experimental Subjects, more than half the dolls are "ethnic." Is there a reason?
I think they're pretty.

On principle, I think little girls should be able to have dolls that look like them, which means lots of skin tones and hair colors should be available. (I also think MH's appeal is partly that it dodges the ethnicity question entirely. Everybody's an odd color, and they're all beautiful.) Katie is the one who looks like me. She has diverse friends because that's the world we live in.

Let's do a count by category, just because I'm curious about what I've got.
  • Caucasian: 5 (Hayden, Katie, Sophie, ES #6, and presumably D'Laura)
  • African-American: 3 (Alexis, Krys, ES #4)
  • Asian or Pacific Islander: 2 (Miss Hanzo and ES #3)
  • Middle Eastern: 2 (Cleo and Hattie)
  • Latina: 1 (Elena Rodriguez)
The face-replacement candidates are one Caucasian and one gal who either has a really deep tan or needs an ethnicity -- but who knows what'll happen with them.

Did you play with Barbies as a child?
Of course. I had an entire civilization that staggered along in a soap operatic way. The cast included a rock star who was fighting addiction (she had Twist 'n' Turn stringing that was very loose, so she flopped a lot). Julia the nurse was needed to look after her, as well as after the Skipper with special needs (also loose stringing). There was one Ken, maybe two. Neither did anything useful.

Don't you think Barbie fosters an unhealthy body image in girls?
When we extrapolate Barbie's exaggerated figure up to human size, let's not forget that the seams on her clothes would be 3-6" thick on humans. The figure's exaggerated so that clothes don't look like bundled wads of fabric. (Not that Monster High dolls couldn't use a sandwich.)

If I'm going to object to something, let's go for permanently high-heeled feet (I much prefer flat feet) and Barbie's wardrobe of wispy bits of glitter (but hey, I redress everybody eventually).

Actually, what I really object to is lack of articulation. The way Mattel makes most Barbies these days, they're glorified clothespin dolls.

What's your favorite doll line?
Liv, definitely. When their eyes aren't wonky, they have beautiful, expressive faces, and the articulation is full of win. Also, being discontinued means that acquiring more is all about the hunt, since I arbitrarily refuse to just stock up from eBay. Everything is better at $5 and under.

You follow blogs that cover doll lines you don't own because...
The bloggers have interesting things to say and pretty pictures. I can learn a lot about face-ups by looking at, say, Tonner Fashion Royalty without feeling the yen to buy any for myself. (More for them as wants 'em, right?) 

What would you tell someone who was just starting to accumulate?
  1. The internet is great for giving ideas on furniture-building, clothing construction, hair restyling, and doll restoration. It also contains incitement to do all sorts of interesting things you'd never have thought about on your own, and the next thing you know, the dolls have taken over.
  2. Boil-washing, no-sew dresses, and Krylon Fusion spray paint. Life is immediately better when you learn about these three things.
  3. It's totally okay to structure your errands around visits to places that might have dolls or doll-related things. We all have days when we need external incentives to go grocery shopping or even to leave the house.

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