Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nanea Updates

Nanea will be released soon though it is not clear exactly her debut date. For a short time it was rumored her release wouod be pushed off until later fall, but now the dates of August 21 or August 24 are most common.

A sneak peek of Nanea's Market was spotted on a Good Morning America segment. Some screen shots!

The screen shots are blurry but what we can make out is the market is bright pink, lime and a burnt orange. It may be a tri-fold construction. It seems to include a cash register.

Like some of the other recent structures (Grand Hotel), the height of the piece is a bit low, barely taller than the doll itself. The saving grace is the Market has a decorative center front piece wall that is taller which helps to add impact, but I really hope AG stops shrimping on structure heights.

My note about the colors. Many will argue that Hawaii buildings are often pink--but I think AG missed out on a chance to make the Market appear like a "real" building with quaint features that just happen to be painted pink. Instead, the Market looks like it lacks details and surface textures and is a bunch of flat, plastic surfaces in bright colors.

It matters to add detailing grooves to the plastic molds to simulate wood, wood joints, nail holes, and other subtle touches to the molds vs just a bunch of flat shiny plastic surfaces. The details make the plastic bearable--for a good example check out the molded details of Tenney's "wooden" floor of her stage:

Unfortunately, so far it looks like the Market is missing these kinds of details. I hope I am wrong!

Sneak peek wise I am disappointed. Too small, too short, too "toy" like in appearance, and probably lacking in subtle details to bring more realism into the set piece.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Whole World $$$ - Gabriela vs Tenney

With the summer release of new items for Gabriela and Tenney how do their Whole World price tags line up? When I looked at all the modern dolls released in 2017 (Contemporary Characters and GOTY) I was surprised...

I thought for sure Tenney'w Whole World would have the largest price tag but Gabriela's world is a bit more expensive. With the addition of Gabriela's Loft, her Chair & Ottoman, and her new Taking Flight Outfit, she takes top spot for the first time this year.

However, if we collapse Logan's world into Tenney's world, Tenney would come out on top.

I have to say, having the largest/most expensive world is not necessarily the best honors--personally I prefer much of Tenney's collection because of the uniqueness of her collection (no rehashed and recolored repeats).

For first time viewers, please note that "Whole World" calculations I use includes the 18" doll and the clothing and accessories made at that scale which the doll itself would be able to wear or use. A second note is since the "Noteable Earring" are used by both Gabriela and Tenney I did not include the price in either column.

Gabriela's new Whole World collage is included below. Will she receive more items before retiring?

And finally an updated GOTY chart. The downward trend is still evident but Gabriela is now in the middle of the pack with her added new items.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Grand "Grand Hotel"?

No real bonanza of photos to share yet but the new rumor is a TrulyMe "Grand Hotel" set piece!

One leaked accessory (which until today I was very puzzled about) that is related to the hotel set seems to be Coconut as a hotel "porter." (Ignore the surf board, lol!)

Friday, May 19, 2017

More Upcoming Winter Fun!?

So much fun--but for the Wellies or the TMs?

The gloves and headband definitely seem TM sized, but scale of the sled is a bit short and narrow. But perhaps it is the snow version of the compact boogie board.

Winter is my favorite season and all the sneak peeks seem to be feature a lot of classics--here again with snowflakes and of course the pop of Christmas reds.

June Tunes: New Items for Tenney and Logan?

Will the summer release on June 22nd feature new outfits for Tenney and Logan?

I have been waiting forever for this sequined dress ensemble.

I like the sharp contrast of the faux velvet red jacket. Mix and match heaven.

The versatility of the red jacket becomes apparent when looking at the cover of Tenney's fourth book (not due out until September 26). Here we see how it can be used as mid-weight outer winter wear. The knit ca and pom are adorable and if AG doesn't make it I may have to search on Etsy for a talented yarnster.

Logan also looks to get a much needed wardrobe change. I love how grown up the outfit it, keeping more with the 14+ crowd.

June is looking good!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Truly Me: A Summertime Splash of Color?

Something new around the corner for the rumored summer release on June 22nd?

This outfit was also spied on AG's Facebook page on Z's classroom 360 degree scene.

It does look like from the many rumors circulating that the summer release will have quite a Truly Me splash--new TM dolls, new TM meet outfit, and of course new TM outfits as well.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Z's Filming Accessories

Action packed accessories in a spiffy orange striped bag!

Z's Filming Accessories feature a colorful backpack, a 35mm camera with strap, a camcorder, a smartphone with three scene cards (double sided), and a tripod that works with all the devices.

I love the backpack! The straps close with velcro but the faux buckles are a terrific detail. The bag is roomy enough to hold all the accessories but the fit is a bit jumbled and snug.

The camcorder flips open to a "blank" screen. The screen cover also flips open to be able to place one of the included three double-sided images inside for a realistic touch. The right side of the camcorder has a generous built in loop that allows for a poppet to hold it easily in hand.

Above is the three cards with images, one of them placed in the camcorder viewer.

The 35mm camera looks great--black instead of teal or some other funky color, lending to its realism. The little plastic "C" shaped pieces on either side of the camera slip over the first finger of the doll hand for ease of holding.

Similar to the camcorder, the back side of the 35mm camera also has the ability to place one of the images in its view screen.

And a cute smart phone! I think it looks most like an iPhone without being an iPhone, lol, perhaps the older and smaller iPhone 5. But the phone shape is generic enough to be a pretend any-brand. (Personally, I think AG should up the size a bit to more resemble a 7 Plus!) An image can also be put behind the clear view screen.

Best of all the case construction of the phone allows for it to be held by the hand.

Lastly is the tripod which can hold the 35mm camera as well as the smartphone. The legs of the tripod are a bit wobbly and annoying to get to spread out evenly, but it can be done. It is hard to describe the type of wobble with the legs, but it is a type of extra looseness that gets exacerbated by some sort of elastic or magnetic joint construction that makes each leg want to independent of the others to slide back to center.

A lot of fun in this accessory pack! The pieces are all very interactive, and for that alone I think this set should earn an A. However, I can't say all the plastic pieces are perfect, in particular the mismatched top plastic seam on the camcorder and the weird wobbly legs of the tripod. Overall, A-.

All-Z Weekend: Z on Location

All props goes to eagle eyed Sydney at American Girl Doll News for being one of the first to spy the new cover for Z's second book due out this coming fall. Sweet!

The new cover style is sure to catch the eye of a slightly older audience--I like the mix of media with the photography and sketch. 

Talking about older fans (teens vs pre-teen), it will be interesting to see if the 13 year old character Z can catch and keep the attention of the older AG fan base.

Z's Accessories--Orange You Glad?

I love that Z has orange as her pop out signature color. In today's review, let's check out how Z's Accessories set gives the poppet the chance to change up her looks with signature flair.

This was an impulse buy at the store--I was lured in by the orange glasses and the thought of saving $5 when bought with the poppet. Z's Accessories comes in the newer full window box style. In spite of being careful with this new box style, I once again mangled the top tab to the box when opening. Oh well, I tried.

The hat and the scarf are each secured with a single stitch and they also go through the jacket. The glasses are held in place partially with a rubber band. When detaching the items from the inner cardboard and stitches, the knit hat did the best with no visible marks, and the jacket survived as well. The striped scarf, because of the stretch knit, I was able to massage out the small holes left by the stitch threads. Not too bad, I will give it a passing grade for removability but I still miss the old boxes!

The fun begins with the variety of looks available--her signature orange glasses are the best! To think I was going to skip this set!

And to be fair, paying $32 for bits n' bobs and a plain white jacket felt a bit much, though the pain was lessened by the $5 off for purchasing it with the doll. But, still, $27 for a scrap o' scarf?

Ooooh, but it is a cute scarf! 

AG got this tiny scrap of a scarf just right. It looks good without trying and minimal fuss. It is easy to get on and off with velcro tabs on the back side of the double-looped scarf.

Z's hat is an identical reissue of the knit hat from the Trail Accessories set from 2014. Super cute, soft knit, and also fits easily on the poppet's head with no trouble.

So the biggest reason I was initially not going to buy Z's Accessories is that I felt her white jacket was identical to the white denim jacket part of the True Spirit Accessories set introduced in 2012. I had that older jacket and was thinking to save a few dollars. And it is true, the two jackets are extremely similar.

But I was surprised when I compared the two that there were a few differences to be noted and at least three of the subtle differences in the new white jacket for Z made it worth the purchase.

The jacket in the upper left is Z's new jacket and the jacket in lower right corner is the older version.

The three main differences are

* Z's jacket is more of a true white, the older jacket is a cream based white

* Z's jacket is a lighter weight of denim

* Z's jacket is slightly looser in fit and is almost an inch longer in length

Also of note, the older shorter jacket has 4 buttons down the front, the newer Z jacket has 5 buttons down the front plus on the decorative chest pockets. There are other minor style differences with Z's jacket, with softer edges on the pockets and of course the clear plastic AG vanity tag.

In the picture below it is easier to see how Z's jacket is considerably longer in length.

In practice in the side-by-side comparison picture below, the older True Spirit cream-white jacket on the left is a closer fit and ends higher up on the natural waist of the doll with the purple tee hanging out/lower beneath it. The Z Accessories stark-white jacket on the right below is a looser fit and hangs slightly lower toward the hips and ends even with the bottom hem of the purple tee.

Overall, I do like the new jacket. Without a side-by-side I would have been hard pressed to know the difference from a play perspective, but I really do appreciate the updates and tweaks made to the jacket. The new Z jacket is just right!

Overall I was happily surprised with my last minute splurge on Z's Accessories set. I love how she looks a bit different depending on which combo I use and each piece is thoughtfully constructed. A solid and surprising A.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Z Yang in Review

Z Yang is our first girl poppet to come home with the much maligned "perma-panties" with all the accompanying changes to the construction, the body shape, and materials. So before we can move on with celebrating all that we love about poppet Z, first a frank assessment of her face, wig, limbs, torso and overall construction.

Let me begin with some positives. We love Z! We love her face and wig combination, her cute freckle on her check, and her personality is terrific.

Her face mold--Ivy face with the notches--is adorable. She has dark brown pinwheel eyes and her mold seems reasonably even. Some have commented that Z's eyes seem smaller than similar recent offerings, such as TM 54 or 64, but I don't see it. Side by side with my own TM 54, the eye sizes between the dolls seem identical.

Z's face paint is subtle. No glossy lips ala Grace or bright berry lips ala Tenney. Not even the robust orange hued lips of the new BeForever Felicity. Perhaps this is because AG is taking a step back from such brightly painted faces, or perhaps it is merely because it fits Z's fresh and natural style. I think it looks perfect.

Also on the up side is her meet outfit is cute and the quality seems on par with what we can expect from casual wear. The tee is great.

The grey jeans skirt may be prone to snagging. Her shoes are terrific and pretty much identical to the TM version available last year.

However, once we look beyond Z's face and outfit, issues with the quality and construction of the doll itself brings up a long list of concerns.

Z comes with the zip-tie closure at the neck. While this is not a new development, what we see with most of AG's 2017 dolls is the combination of the zip-ties with the new thinner fabric. The combination creates deep gathers and puckers at the neckline.

Z's wig is passable, but just barely. The wig is somewhat sparse and it shows especially in the back of the wig when in the pigtails style. Yes, the short hairs are supposed to be there to help cover the wig cap, but there just isn't quite enough of short hairs or long hairs to make it work.

Additionally, once the hair is out of the ponytails, I discovered her wig is rather thin overall. I had to work a bit to make sure she did not appear to have bald patches on the back side of her head. I would rate Z's wig as somewhat thin. Adequate but not a hair to spare.

On the left is Z and on the right is a TM 54. The wig on Z is longer and is more or less one length. The wig on TM 54 is slightly shorter in length and has some long layers. Color wise their wigs are near identical, enough for me to believe the difference is primarily the quirks of different factory runs of the same product. Z's wig has a smidgen more of a brown tone to it, but I literally mean a smidgen.

And now for the torso.

From the front, the perma-panty does lay flat, but she does has the start of a slight muffin top. But the reverse side...

Oh my goodness. This poor doll has serious booty droop and perhaps the beginnings of a prehensile tail. Some camera angles make the droop look slightly less alarming and other angles make it look distinctly more obscene. I chose a happy (unhappy) medium shot.

A final issue to note is vinyl quality. Z has very squishy vinyl arms and her face is also squishy. My Z is on the fast track to getting a full-body transplant swap with a classic (pre-2017) body.

The report card for the construction of the doll known as Z is quite mixed.

Z's face--her eyes, face paint, symmetry: A

Z's wig: C-

Z's torso and limbs: D

Sure, the new Z is still heads and shoulders above many other 18" doll lines. But for $115, the quality has taken a sharp nose dive since the calendar flipped over into 2017. What bothered me the most, surprisingly enough, was the extra thin wig quality. Yes, the perma-panties are an abomination, but I know I can take the time and expense as an adult collector to swap out her body at a later time. But a borderline thin wig is something that feels like an unfair compromise in quality.

Overall grade for Z's construction is a meh-filled C. 

Get her if you love her. But I will say this is the first time in 20 years of loving AG that I had to push back my disappointment in the quality of a brand new AG doll.