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.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

All-Z: A Z-tastic Movie Trailer

A full trailer for Z's summer camp themed movie, Summer Camp, Friends for Life.

When S.T.E.A.M. summer camp isn’t what they had hoped for, Z and Paz meet an enchanting camp “counselor” named Jordan who sends them on a mind-blowing adventure, opening their eyes to a world of infinite possibilities – including making a new friend, Drew.

This Amazon special is coming soon--June 9th! This one looks extra cute!

Seattle, Z and Sydney!

The amazing Sydney, aka @5hensandacockatiel, has had her photography featured in a short filmette by American Girl. So many fun thing to see with her work, not to mention her positive and encouraging personality.

An eagle eye might have seen a hint of a possible later release outfit for Z, which Sydney is seen photographing in the short film. Some screen shots of the Sydney, Z, and the possible new Rain Outfit!

Congrats, Sydney! Your work is amazing and how can we not be swept up in your enthusiasm for Z?

Popcorn and Potato Chips: Z's Debut

It is a gorgeous day in the San Francisco Bay Area and it was a perfect day for a perfect drive in perfect spring weather (sunshine!) to American Girl Place San Francisco.

I went to AGPSF knowing I probably would bring home the poppet girl Z, Popcorn and the Filming Accessories...

The store was understandably quiet for a Thursday morning, though I saw a few mother-and-daughter/s visiting the store and lingering over Z's display.

Z's main display area was pretty compact. The four-cube kiosk held her entire collection.

So Z was cute as expected. In some ways I was underwhelmed by the four-cube display. I think we are used to large character debuts like for Tenney or a BeForever consisting of 5+ outfits and at least one giant display piece like Tenney's Stage and Dressing Room or Maryellen's 1950s Diner Set.

But in spite of the more compact size of the collection, like many prior new character doll debuts, I find I react to the whole venture like potato chips... you can't stop at one.

Remember, the idea was to pick up Z, Popcorn and the Filming Accessories...

Here's what came home! What's in the big red bag? What's that huge box under the bag?

I can't wait to play with the Desk Set!

The Desk Set comes in a utilitarian cardboard box that can be used directly for shipping--but it is now a bright red and displays a huge image of what is inside. Don't count on being able to mail order this item and have your children (or husband) unaware of its contents! (This new non-discreet packaging style is noted on AG's website as well.)

Poppet Z, Popcorn and Filming Accessories came home with us today. But also her Accessory Set (white jacket, hat, scarf, and funky orange glasses) and that fun Desk Set.

I just love looking at a new poppet still in her box!

No new name for Poppet Z just yet but we heartily welcome her to her forever home!

Who and what will be coming home this spring for you?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

An All-Z Countdown and Celebration!

Wednesday 3:00PM

According to social media, Z is temporarily sold out on Amazon from pre-orders!

No word when Amazon will restock--but it may mean people will need to order directly from AG for now.

Tuesday 10:35PM

Just 24 hours until Z's official debut!

We will be featuring all Z all the rest of the week and weekend, so check the updates here as they develop!

First up--Z is available for pre-order on Amazon. Order quick for debut day home delivery!

Additionally, Z's "perma-panty" status is all but confirmed in the fine print. Note there is no note of her outfit ensemble including underwear, which means they are absent (lol) but more likely permanently attached as part of her fabric torso construction.

Nanea's Fluff of a Pup

Who is this scruffy new friend?

Photos used courtesy of and with permission by @adoreamericangirladult

This pup seems to be Nanea's pet, as featured on the front cover of her second book, Hula for the Home Front. Thanks to @adoreamericangirladult we get an up close view of this fuzzy guy!

It looks to be a terrier mix, perhaps with a shade of poodle? A yorkie-poo? The dog has embroidered eyes, though is mostly a mop of grey and off-white fur.

The pup comes with a brown tone collar.

Even though the pup is more fur than form, I think he's adorable. Then again, I have two yorkies and this little guy reminds me of them just a bit.

Does this pup come home with you, too?