Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ever After High Dolls

Have you heard or seen the Ever After High dolls yet?  They are a new doll collection created by Mattel.  Based on the animated series Ever Have High, the dolls are a little similar to the Monster High Dolls concept but this line will focus on characters inspired by fairy tales.
You can check out the official Ever After High Website HERE.  

You can view the Ever After High animated series on their Youtube Channel HERE.
I have heard of them before but it wasn't until yesterday that I saw them for the first time in a store and now all I can say is that I AM ABSOLUTELY HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE WITH THEM!

Each doll comes with a doll stand, a key-themed hairbrush and a bookmark telling their back story.  They are released in a box shaped like a book with a big spine.

I think this new line of dolls has all the right ingredients to become the new toy crack fad.  The dolls are even more gorgeous looking in real life than in pictures!  I love everything about them: clothes, hairstyle, accessories and back story!  The price tag is moderately high but they are still much cheaper than other fashion dolls like Pullip or Dal.  I think they will appeal to children and collectors alike.

I have my eyes set on Ashlynn Ella & Hunter Huntsman in particular.  This box set comes with 2 dolls and they are both incredibly beautiful.

I don't like boy dolls and it takes a lot to convince me to get one.  Even my Isul Lir did not really sway me like Hunter Hunstman did!  He looks so cool and he comes with very nice clothes and a great looking messenger bag.

Ashlynn Ella is very pretty!  I love her hair and she has such a sweet face.  She wears glass slippers and her purse shaped like a clock is fitting and original.   

The Ever After Dolls are divided in two groups: Royals or Rebels.  Per this Wikipedia page:

The Ever After High storyline is based upon the children of famous fairy tale characters attending the eponymous high school, who are destined to follow in their parents’ footsteps to keep their stories alive through generations, otherwise their stories will cease to exist. However, Raven Queen is unhappy with her destiny and wishes to write her own path. The school gets divided in ‘Royals or Rebels’ which is between those who know they will have a happily ever after and those with less favorable destinies or those who prefer the idea of writing their own destiny

In this case, Ashlynn Ella is the daughter of Cinderella, a Royal, and she is secretly dating Hunter Huntsman, son of the Huntsman, a Rebel.  A SECRET ROMANCE!  She is expected to marry a prince, not a huntsman!  I love this!  Mattel, you clever thing!

The other dolls from Ever After High are equally interesting and each of them comes with a different accessory.  I would totally buy them all if I had the money.  I can't comment on the show because I didn't watch it yet but now I am curious and will probably take a look.

One might say it's just another collection of dolls with a fairy tale theme but I am more enthusiastic to buy a doll from this line than a princess Barbie doll because EAH dolls look younger and more their age than Barbie dolls who look more like an adult and because the EAH dolls have a more interesting back story with their conflict about their destiny and desire to follow their own path. 

I would also choose an EAH doll over the La Dee Da dolls from the Fairy Tale Collection because the outfit and accessories seem better too.

The addition of male dolls is a big plus as well!  The Barbie line does have prince dolls but I don't like them very much so EAH dolls are winning so far in my books.  I wonder how the other EAH male dolls will look!

That's just a question of personal taste though so I don't know if Ever After High Dolls will appeal to everybody the same way but I think they will be a hit this Christmas!
I truly want to stay away from this new line of dolls because they seem highly addictive.  It will be hard.

French for Kids

I have been away from my blog for quite a few days.  The whole family got sick with a cold and baby hardly slept, crying the night away because she was unwell.  But we are all back on our feet now!  I had to postpone work on my projects but finally this week I was able to start on many of them and I am so glad I can be busy again and not idle and sick in bed! 
One of the project that is dear to me is teaching French to my child.  Since my family and most of my relatives speak French, I didn't want him to miss out on learning this fantastic language!  Also, it would make things easier when we have reunions on my side of the family as he is the only one who can't understand what the others are saying (like it happened when we went to see my family a few years ago).   My husband can't understand either (despite living in France for 2 years O_o) but he does not want to learn so that's that.
Since my son's school does not teach French, I have decided to do it myself.  I must admit I feel quite guilty for not having taught him earlier.  I was too busy teaching him his mother tongue on top of English so I thought it would be too much for him to handle.  But children learn quickly and learning a 3rd language could have been done. 
My boy had always resisted learning French because nobody speaks it here.  It was a challenge to make him sit down to learn anything to be honest.  I have finally convinced him to study French with me with the reward of getting the Goldorak DVD that he has been wanting to watch!  It's a Japanese anime that was quite popular back in the 80s but it has been released in French and Japanese only.   So if he can learn well enough to understand the movie, I'll shell the $140 to get the DVD.
I have started teaching French to my boy and his 3 cousins this week.  I teach for four days a week (Monday is their art class) and I give them a recap test on Friday.  His cousins all wanted to learn when they heard I was going to teach him.  It's a good thing since they will be able to practice together and my son won't feel too lonely learning by himself.
I am using Catherine Bruzzone's book French for Children which comes with an Audio CD.  I am using others books as well which I will review in the future.

Photo Credit: Amazon

Another challenge was to get a time when everybody would be available.  In between their extra curricular activities, snack time, homework time etc, it was difficult to set a time that would suit all families.   We finally settled for 5pm each day.

This new schedule is working so far.  It may seem like a small addition but I was already super busy with my usual chores!  After coming home from the office, my waltz between cooking, cleaning, and babysitting has been rushed so I can be free at exactly 5pm!

The children have been very eager to learn and I hope I will be able to maintain their enthusiasm!  Each lesson lasts about 30 minutes because that's the maximum time I could get husband to babysit our baby girl so I can have the complete 30 minutes of uninterrupted peace for the class.
More than 30 minutes would have been too long anyway because some of them have a hard time sitting still.   Hopefully it will be a fun experience for all the children and I!   I will keep you posted about our experience!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Turntable for Dollhouses

Do you remember when I mentioned the turntable/Lazy Susan used during the Lego Expo to display their dollhouses?  Well I thought about getting one for myself because I love to be able to see both the front and back of my dollhouses!  The front often has a very beautiful and elaborate design so it was a little sad to see it face the wall all the time.  And since I don't glue my miniature down, every time I move the house meant a million of tiny little things would cascade down the floor!

So that's why a turntable would come in handy to allow a smooth rotation of the dollhouse.  I looked around for an affordable option but I didn't find anything until I found a cheap $5 Lazy Susan on Amazon.  It's originally intended for the dining table or kitchen but I thought I might as well try it for my dollhouse.

I didn't want to splurge on an expensive model and I purposely bought a small kitchen model so that even if it didn't work out for my dollhouse, I could still use it for my little dining table or kitchen.  I bought the cheapest model: a 9-inch diameter Copco Non-Skid Cabinet Turntable for $5! Can't beat that price! 
Well it turned out (no pun intended!) that it worked perfectly for my dollhouse!!! I was so impressed by how sturdy it was and how smoothly it turned! 
It's a little high but it will eventually work out because I intend to use felt and cotton to create the ground.  If the house was too low, it would snag on the material when I turn it!

It fits my bigger dollhouse but not the Calico Cottage which is much smaller.  So for those smaller houses, I had to look for another type of turntable.  The regular Lazy Susan did not come in smaller size so I opted for a simple ball bearings turntable.

I found a very small model of 60mm aluminum bearing on Ebay for $5 (including shipping).  It was intended to use for glass turntables for jewelry display but it worked fine for the dollhouse.

This ball bearing model is a little too small for the dollhouse but it still works and turns smoothly.  It didn't feel wobbly but I will buy a larger size in order to have a more stable base.  The present model can be used for smaller buildings such as the Strawberry Shortcakes houses.

I am very happy with how it turned out (oh alright, pun intended :P) and I can't wait to start working on my village display!

Do you have a place to display your dollhouse(s) too?  Please let me know how you do it!  I would love to learn some tricks on how to make a better display! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lalaloopsy Magnetic Paper Dolls

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by paper dolls.  I remember visiting one of my cousin who was one year older than me and who lived in another city.  We stayed for the night and she showed me her paper doll.  The doll was the picture of a little girl of about 6 years old.  I can't remember the name of the doll... maybe "Annabelle"? 

She had so many paper outfits!  We played dressing up the dolls in all kind of outfits until it was time to go to bed.  But around 3am I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep.   Maybe it was the excitement of sleeping in another house, or maybe I wanted to play with the paper doll.  My cousin was awake as well and I asked her if we could play some more.  She agreed and we silently took the paper doll out of her box and started the dressing game again.

A few minutes later, her mom stormed in the lit room and yelled at us because we were awake playing in the middle of the night! We promptly went back to our bed but I still remember that scene to this day.

Curiosity got the better of me so I went online and found her!  Annabelle Rag Paper Doll!  I contacted the Etsy owner and she has allowed me to show you her picture!
Photo Credit: Etsy Shop of Grandmothersattic

I don't think I owned any paper dolls.  I didn't buy any either since I started buying dolls.  But a few weeks ago I came across the Lalaloopsy Magnetic Paper Dolls while browsing on Amazon for some books.

There are presently 6 different sets available!  Each set includes 2 dolls printed on the front and back of a tin, a sheet of magnets full of clothes and accessories, a bonus card to use within the tin, plus the tin acts as a carrying case.

Here below are the 6 different sets available for now:

Set 1 - Crumbs Sugar Cookie and Spot Splatter Splash

Set 2 - Mittens Fluff 'n' Stuff and Dot Starlight

Set 3 - Jewel Sparkles and Pillow Featherbed

Set 4 - Spells-a-Lot and Peanut Big Top

Set 5 - Mango Tiki Wiki and Marina Anchors

Set 6 - Pix E. Flutters and Tippy Tumblelina
These Lalaloopsy paper dolls are made by  Magnetic Fun® Paper Dolls which created many other paper doll series like Disney Princess, Dora the Explorer, and even SpongeBob Squarepants!  You can see some of their paper dolls collection HERE.

I opened Set #6 to check it out.

The package shows pictures of the dolls that will appear on the tin. 
The back of the package shows the magnetic dress and accessories.  They are very colorful and are a good match with the doll's character from that set.

Once the package unwrapped, you can see there are some cards you can cut out from the cardboard base.  It's an ID card for each doll with a little description about them and a space to put their pet and accessory.

The tin is bigger than my hand but it's slim and small enough to fit in my purse.  Here is a picture of the tin with a Mini Lalaloopsy doll so you can compare the size.

Each set has 2 dolls printed on the tin.  The lid is slightly thinner than the base but it doesn't bother me at all.  The two dolls are not naked; they wear undergarments (plus stockings for Pix. E Flutters).   Their background matches who they are.
Now to the clothes!  All the garments you see are actually two detachable pieces so you can mix and match the outfits!  Many shoes are included and also the pets and some accessories like flowers, a jar with a firefly, a crown, a ticket for the theater, etc.

It doesn't look like a lot but once you take the clothes out of their base, you can see there is actually quite a selection.  The magnet are extremely easy to remove from their base so I think even a child could do this without the help of an adult.

Here they are now all dressed up!  I admit it was really fun choosing an outfit for them and adding the accessories. 

Although the dolls are not actually paper dolls that you can cut out, I like this magnetic version a lot more!  Here are my reasons:
  • The magnetic dolls and outfits are more sturdy than paper and will last longer.
  • Everything fits in the tin and you can close it shut so no lost pieces.
  • It's light and compact so easy to transport.
  • Makes a great on-the-go toy for car rides, while shopping or at the restaurant.
  • Does not take up much space for storage.

Do you like them?  I don't just like them... I love them!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Goldilocks House for Little Dal

I was going through my dollhouses collection to put them for sale when I stumbled upon this one ...

Ever since I have my Little Dal Dolls, I had been looking for a dollhouse that would fit them.  My biggest Sylvanian Families Dollhouse was slightly too small for them.  My new Ivy Cottage was also too small.

I then tried all the dollhouses I had, including my camping trailer and treehouse... but in vain as they were all too small.  The only house which was too big was the Play Wonder Wood House for my Licca dolls. And so I still didn't find the perfect Goldilocks dollhouse that would fit my Little Dal.

I finally got lucky when I unexpectedly became the new owner of a Vintage 1993 Fisher-Price Loving Family Deam Dollhouse.  I say unexpectedly because it was not my intention to buy it!  You see, I was looking for some 1:6 furniture for my Licca dolls and I found a Barbie furniture lot.  In the lot was many other toys and to my surprise, a vintage Fisher-Price dollhouse!

I had seen a modern Loving Family Grand Dollhouse in store and I disliked it immediately because of its garish green and dark pink colors!  The setup was not attractive and the furniture were boring and of the same awful color combination.

I knew the height of the Loving Family dolls were about the same as the Little Dall dolls (about 11 cm or 5 inches tall) but there was no way I was going to put my pretty dolls in that ugly house!

So imagine my surprise when I saw this super cute Victorian dollhouse with scalloped roof shingles, elegant French doors, a spacious balcony and front porch!  It was an old house but in good condition.  Very solid and easy to clean too as it was made with the usual Fisher-Price thick and smooth plastic!  The floor and window edges are pink but I didn't mind so much because the house was mostly white and light blue.

The front porch is adorable! With a little step and a mailbox, and enough space for a rocker or a swing!  Here below are my two Little Dal checking out the new house!

For once Lady Vixy could walk into a door without having to lower her head!

There is a balcony with plenty of space for them to set up a little garden!
"I don't feel safe!  This balcony needs some railing!"

Inside the dollhouse it's bright and open with a lot of space for furniture.  The staircase going from the first floor to the second floor is really cute and there is closet underneath just like in a real house!  The two sides of the house do open up if you want to make more room for play.

The built-in kitchen is practical but obviously lacking storage space.  But the oven and fridge doors do open which is really nice.

The kitchen is slightly too big for Little Dal but it's not a big difference.
"Where is my Easy-Off Oven Cleaner?"

There were some of the original dollhouse furniture in the lot so the Little Dal tried a few for size comparison.  Remember how Princess Tulip's feet were dangling over the Calico Critter's bed (HERE)?  Well this time the bed fits her just right!
"Finally! Furniture that fits!"

The third floor is smaller than the other floors but it still fits the Little Dal.  And unlike most highest floor dedicated to nursery rooms, this one does not boast too  many nursery decoration so it can easily be utilized as another type of room (I was thinking about making this the music room).

The house folds up easily for storage too but it's still very big compared to my other houses.  I am really on the fence with this one.  To sell or not to sell.  I can just imagine the house with a new floor and curtains on the windows and it would look soooo cute!

Although I am in the process of cleaning out my dollhouse collection, I am having second thoughts about this one.  Do you think I should keep it?  I think Princess Tulip and Lady Vixy already feel comfortable in it ;-)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Melissa and Doug Pink Fold & Go Dollhouse

I am continuing today on reviewing some of the dollhouses I will put on sale.

If there is one dollhouse that I won't regret parting with is the Melissa and Doug Fold & Go Dollhouse.  It is a sturdy house with a front door and many many windows!  There is a handle so it's easy to carry around but there is not clasp to keep the dollhouse close so if you have things inside, everything can easily fall out.  The same goes for the Woodland Treehouse by the way.
The paint job is nice but a bit boring.   I like having so many windows.

Just like the Woodland Treehouse in my previous post, this dollhouse has a bare interior which is great if you want to customize it with wallpaper, flooring, curtains or paintings.

It comes with 2 dolls and the following furniture:
  • 1 bed
  • 1 bedside table
  • 1 dining table
  • 2 dining chairs
  • 1 living room sofa chair
  • 1 TV
  • 1 TV console
  • 1 bathtub
  • 1 toilet
  • 1 sink

The furniture are all made of wood and partially painted with purple to match the house.  They are sturdy and well made (no nicks, no rough sides).  Their proportions are correct for the dollhouse but I find it silly to have such a small bed when there are two dolls.  And one couch only.    Also, there is no kitchen furniture but maybe it's a bit too much to ask for such a small house.
The dolls are a mix of peg dolls and rag dolls with wooden head and feet.  Their limbs are made with some bendable wires.  They are the typical Melissa and Doug dolls (other family member are sold separately). I was never a fan of such dolls so they didn't really interest me.  Their soft body feel strange in my hand.  Maybe because I am used to the harder body of other dolls.  And their simple painted face are not cute to me.  But that's my personal opinion.  I don't know if they appeal to others but I would not buy more.

The dollhouse and furniture fit Calico Critters (aka Sylvanian Families) which I think are much cuter.

I don't know why but I was never really attached to this dollhouse it although it is pretty, affordable, easy to store away and does allow room for personalization.  At that time I didn't have the Mini Lalaloopsy Sew Sweet Playhouse yet so I used it to display my Mini Lalas.

The furniture was boring and bland so I switched quickly to the Mini Lalaloopsy cute furniture! 
Ah much better!

I added some miniature cakes and furniture from the Li'l Woodzeez Bakery Set!

I guess it would look even better if I added wallpaper, some curtains and flooring but I am not crazy about the overall design and exterior so I will let this one go.  I think I prefer my plastic Sylvanian Families dollhouses the most so that was an easy choice.

Do you like this dollhouse?  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Melissa and Doug Fold & Go Woodland Dollhouse

As explained in my previous post, I am selling some of my dollhouses.  One of them is my first wooden dollhouse.  I think it might even be my first dollhouse period.  Since I will put it up for sale, I might as well write a review about it before it goes away.

I saw the Melissa & Doug Fold & Go Woodland Treehouse many years ago and fell instantly in love with its whimsical design.  The title says treehouse but it's really a dollhouse.  There are doors to both the front and back.

Included in the dollhouse are :
  • 2 beds
  • 2 chairs
  • 1 table
  • 1 ladder
  • 1 plush bunny
  • 1 plush bear

The furniture are well-made and carefully painted.  There is a nick in the ladder so it can latch on to the dollhouse without falling.  The plush animals are very cute and soft.

What I love about this dollhouse is that you can open the doors to the full extent and they stay open or close thanks to clever strings. 

The inside of the dollhouse is left in its natural wood state, which is great because you can customize it the way you want or you can leave it as is.  I think it's also quite roomy!

The exterior of the dollhouse is beautifully painted! Even the handles are painted! It's colorful but not overwhelming.   I love the bold color of the doors against the wood and nature background. Look at the details of the painting!

There is a balcony/rooftop with plenty of space for furniture or create a garden.

This dollhouse fits Calico Critters (aka Sylvanian Families).

It also fits smaller dolls like the Mini Lalaloopsy.

The dollhouse can also fit Strawberry Shortcake Mini dolls, Playmobil people, and other small figures, but it is too small for Little Dal/Little Pullip dolls.  

I wanted to give the dollhouse to my baby daughter as she started to show a great interest in my bigger dollhouse ^_^   It's sturdy enough to withstand any rough play.  But I will have other dollhouse for her eventually.  I really like this one so I am a little sad to see it go away.