Category Archives: dolls

Top 3 Pastel 90s Toys We Love

After this Sunday’s My Little Pony Exhibit, I started thinking about all the other 90s and late 80s pastel toys we loved and grew up with. This was a golden era for girls’ toys, made in creamy dreamy colors and big eyes with twinkles. Whether its nostalgia or how well they fit with Japanese sweet fashion trends like fairy-kei and sweet lolita, many girls still love collecting these cuties today.

If you didn’t have Puppy (or Bunny or Kitty or Pony) Surprise as a child you might be kind of creeped out… The theme is that the little puppies or other baby animals come out of a velcroed pouch in Mom’s stomach. The ‘surprise’ is that the box doesn’t say how many baby pets you’ll get until you open the box. Some later editions revealed to your the baby animal’s gender only after you had opened the package, too. (For a trip down memory lane, watch this commercial. I love all these old commercials for girls’ toys!)

Today, they’re beloved collectibles for their pretty faces and ice cream pastel bodies.While some of their fur might not have kept as well as we’d have liked, their molded faces are still as sweet ever. Even Tabuchi, founder of the fairy-kei brand Spank!, has a few.

If My Little Ponies were roly-poly and fighting off the Rainbow of Darkness, Fashion Star Fillies were the long-legged supermodel ponies on the catwalk who were braiding their hair. These slightly larger horses were made by Kenner in the mid-1980s, and were made for dressing up. They wore everything from jazzercise wear to prom dresses to wedding gowns. But I think what we like most about them is their fanciful, beautiful pearly colors and oodles of easily-lost hairclips. I’m just going to let one thing sink in for a minute… as pretty as these ponies are, someone made them jazzercise wear. Jazzercise. Oh, 80s and 90s, we miss you, but we are kind of glad you’re gone.

Watch the commercial here! This weird retro music and their names, like Joelle – and the fact they wear garters – really highlights how strange this idea was. And gave girls really unrealistic expectations about horses.

Precious Places were actually a Fisher-Price product, meant for younger children. The figures are pretty simplistic, but the houses are the real gems of this toy line. Each set featured a small pastel dollhouse, such as a ballet studio, a stable, a wedding chapel, or a Victorian mansion. The lights all worked (with batteries hidden in the chimney) and the dolls could interact with the house through magnets in the accompanying magic wands. I still have my pink-and-yellow ballet studio (like the one picture on the bottom right) and it makes a lovely display on my dresser.

Precious Places has a really sweet commercial as well that shows how the magnetic keys work and really highlights the working electric lights that featured in the tiny houses.

 

Are you in love with collecting vintage 80s and 90s toys? Do you remember having any of these are a child?

If you want to read more about 80s and 90s toys, check out these sites:

✰ 80s Toy Ark

Ghost of the Doll – a great resource for looking up old toys

Blythe in Brand: Victorian Maiden, ETC, Angelic Pretty, and More

I ran into the 9th Blythe Charity Exhibition at Tokyo Bittersweet and was surprised to see that many top lolita brands had contributed their own Blythe doll designs for the show! I think it’s fascinating to see what our favorite designers come up when presented with the blank canvas of a Blythe doll. Blythe, despite being originally designed in America in the 1970s, popped in the forefront of fashion and collectors everywhere when Japan rediscovered the mold in the 200s and fell in love with her boggling eyes and huge head.

first row: Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Angelic Pretty, Heart E

second row: Alice and the Pirates, Victorian Maiden, Liz Lisa

Angelic Pretty’s Blythe looks little like their other dolls from the Jun Planning line (Pullip, Byul, and Dal) – the hair is a natural color rather than pink or blue, with light makeup compared to the darker eyeliner and dramatic blush on their Jun Planning dolls. She is wearing a tiny replica of Happy Garden and matching ‘chick’ to bring to mind their chick stuffed animal. Victorian Maiden’s doll was also a surprise – she looks much more like a traditional fairytale princess in bright blush and a long trailing gown, though the fabric does seem to be from their own fabric stock. Alice and the Pirates chose to do an opulent prince outfit which reminds me very much of the 1967 shoujo anime, Princess Knight (known in Japan as Ribbon no Kishi).

Princess Doll, Metamorphose, Emily Temple Cute, H.Naoto

I was pleased to see Princess Doll, a pretty little indie brand, get a spot to showcase their own doll. Her soft blonde hair and delicate lacy grey dress definitely makes her my favorite! Emily Temple Cute chose to reference their unusual prints with a French-bread-and-tricolore theme in the waist ribbon. The tall hair definitely seems to be a homage to Marie Antoinette (though the tricolore was popular after her beheading, of course). Metamorphose’s doll, much like their brand, is entirely in left field somewhere with her tighter silhouette, pure white face and peachy buns.

While I don’t believe any of these dolls will be coming to the market any time soon, they’re definitely inspiration for fashion coordinates and doll DIY if you’re a fan of modifying your stock doll.

There’s a few other brands you might recognize, as well as just plain adorable dolls in pink curly fros, cage skirts and rhinestones. See the rest of the dolls at the show here!

Baby the Stars Shine Bright A/W Fashion Show

 

I’m a huge fan of Baby’s fashion shows – especially since the one that aired last spring, with their new Rococo collection (their first dresses hitting $1,000+ USD) so I couldn’t resist sharing this newest fashion show with their autumn/winter designs for 2011.

We’re seeing a lot of trends continued from the spring, namely more opulence in their fabric choice and construction (layers of chiffon frills, for instance) rather than trying to compete with Angelic Pretty’s printed-but-flat onepieces (fewer if any ruffles, is what I mean by flat.) It’s especially in contrast with the newer Angelic Pretty Patisserie onepiece that come out in a tunic style rather than the traditional natural-waisted onepiece (though those were available as well for that print). One of the loved designs from summer, the ankle-length Garnett Juliette dress, seems to have a gothic sister in black and pink lace as well. Its long, fabric-heavy design reminds me more of dolly-kei and mori-girl with a gothic twist than your typical lolita design, making it one of their more unique pieces.

To continue with the opulence into the colder seasons, we’re also bringing velvet into the picture. Nothing is representative of a beautiful winter lolita dress more than a black or jewel-toned velvet dress, and they look dazzling for holiday events and parties. Christmas was also a theme in this show due to the use of present-box props. Considering how very ‘Christmas and New Year’s and cold winter nights’ this show seemed styled to, there were no coats in sight – a pity in my opinion, they make a wonderful impact on the runway.

For general themes that you could apply to you wardrobe even without the Baby tag, it seems like vertical striped tights and black-and-white diamond tights are once again in style to punch up dresses. You can find diamond tights at WeLoveColors if you’d prefer not to buy brand. Colors this season are Baby’s signature ballet-toned pinks, along with chocolates and almonds, navy, black and white combinations, and a crisp Christmas ruby red. Snowflakes in jewelry and pearls as both jewelry and hair accessories are also present, along with some instances of gold chain.

Another thing I was surprised to see is that rocking horses may be back in again! Several models are in wooden-soled platforms reminiscent of rocking horse shoes from back in the day. These definitely harken to more mid-2000s styles instead of the ubiquitous tea party flats of today.

On the more questionable front, let’s discuss what I hope is their Halloween contribution – a black-and-white pinstriped apron, in a shiny sort of satin, complete with black cat ears, giant black cat paws, and a stiff and very large black cat tail poking through at the back. I can see the ears as a Halloween novelty or perhaps even the cat paw mittens, but a large tail is far too Cowardly Lion for my tastes. The satin clinches the feeling of, ‘What are we doing here?!’ I admit this definitely raised my eyebrows.

My favorite design in this show has to be Misako’s amazing pink onepiece. The amount of detail and the fullness of the design makes it the perfect princess dress, and she was the best model they could have chosen. They’ve accented the eye-drawing presence of the dress with hanging earrings and a gold jewelry attachment to the hairbow, as well as gloves and more delicate shoes. I’m hoping we’ll see more full-page Baby ads in the Japanese fashion magazines as well, as that would make a beautiful advertisement.

What was your favorite dress in the show? Is there any trend from Baby’s winter collection you’d like to add to your existing wardrobe?

And in other Baby news, if you’re a fan of brand-collaboration dolls you can now own a Baby The Stars Shine Bright Blythe. She’s in dark blue velvet, a pearl hairband, and comes with her own microphone as she is ‘idol of the galaxy.’ Her name, Hoshi no Namida, translates to Tears of Star, which seems right since the previous Baby collab Blythe was called ‘Tears of Snow’ or Yuki no Namida – see her and her box and concept art here at Blythe.be. Hoshi no Namida will be retailing from www.blythedoll.com for 20,000 yen.

Lolita Style Invades Valley of the Dolls

I was pleased to see on Pullipstyle.com a new set of lolita brand clothing dolls – this time making their debut from the stylings of Mitsukazu Mihara (famed artist of the Gothic and Lolita Bible) and the beloved punk/gothic lolita line, Baby the Stars Shine Bright’s Alice and the Pirates!

For a refresher course on Mitsukazu Miharu, here’s a few samples of her artwork:

Here you can see the artwork the dolls were based off of (cover of the GLB Vol. 41):

And here are the adorable dolls in question!

This couple features Pullip as an elegant Gothic blonde ‘Nella’, with little-brother-like kodona Isul, in this model dubbed ‘Johan’, both in matching black velvet. If you’ve been looking to add a sweet street style dressed boy to your collection, Isul often dresses in a kodona look. In fact, he’s even been touted as the ‘boy lolita’, dressed in one plaid and black outfit that features a sumptuous bonnet and knickerbockers. These dolls are currently on pre-order for their November release.

In further collaboration, Kera magazine’s Kera Shop and Alice and the Pirates also designed the same outfits for sale in human sizes. Unfortunately Nella’s outfit seems to have sold out like hot cakes!

I love the sad, ‘confused’ style of face-up on this waifish pair! My big hope is that with the addition of Alice and the Pirates to the Pullip world, that perhaps Baby the Stars Shine Bright collaborations are next. Can you just imagine these flush-cheeked dolls in Baby’s signature rabbit or heart-shaped aprons, or perhaps a opulent Doll Heroine bonnet and gown?

Besides the Alice and the Pirates dolls, Dangerous Nude has also collaborated with Pullip to produce a pink version of this year’s Alice in Wonderland homage, ‘Romantic Alice’. She features beautifully blonde and tawny variegated hair and elaborate lacy tea-colored pinafore. Apparently dressing like your doll is big in Japan (or perhaps a welcome alternative for those who either prefer to purchase the doll, or those who prefer to wear the item), because you can also buy the matching human-sized outfit, with matching pinafore. The look is somehow mori meets lolita meets street style all at once with layers of mocha lace, bubblegum pink fabric, and spunky polka dots. Kera Shop is selling both.

 

In my own dolly world, I recently scored a new collapsible Barbie house (the 2002 ‘Talking Townhouse’ model shown above… mine still insists in a robotic voice that Barbie prefers a diet of chicken nuggets, pizza, soda, and cake while watching the ‘Shopping Show’) at a local flea market for a paltry $5. While the house is in played-with condition, I’m in love with the townhouse shape and soaring Gothic windows. The current palette is lilac and mint, but I have the notion to give it a healthy coat of white spray paint and perhaps contact-paper wallpaper to fashion it into a Gothic or Victorian rowhouse. It’d be the perfect place for Gothic lolita Nella and my other doll-crush, Innocent World’s Tiphona. My current endeavor is how to remove the modular furniture from the upstairs – who would put a shower stall in a bedroom?! I’ve already managed to remove the low bed, but the other pieces have remained steadfastly stubborn. Hopefully I’ll end up with an adorable turn-of-the-century Pullip house to show you!

Sugary Carnival Twins

At this rate we’re going to have a doll blog! Only a few photos this time, a little extra post!

My favorite Pullip store was having a sale, so although they were sold out of the doll I want next, I did manage to snag one of the lolita doll outfits I’d been wanting for a while.

Here’s Miss Skye decked out in Sugary Carnival black colorway! See the tiny marshmallow APs? The set only comes with dress, bow, and pony bag… no blouse or socks. I bought it for another doll I’m hoping to order soon (secret!) who comes with her own blouse, socks and shoes, so no worries. In the meantime Skye is a little ahem, indecent, with all that bare skin.

This was also my first time experimenting with a foamboard false wall. I chose some pink striped ‘wallpaper’ and carved a space for a dollhouse window frame which I’ll most likely paint white and add some curtains to.

And here are the two girls twinning… I don’t think Violet is that pleased, she’s definitely got a quit-copying-me kind of look! I’ll take more twin shots when I can find them an appropriate sofa…

I also just finished a little deco project – a new round pill case to carry in my purse. It’s nothing too fancy, but it’s a very classy and princess-y look. I got a great deal on the supplies by ordering a ‘kit’ from Taobao – an assortment of pearls and crystals and a few cabochons in various sizes and shades or pink, white and cream. I also just used E6000 for the first time – these stones aren’t going anywhere! I’m never going back to Diamond Glaze. If you’re not using E6000 on your deco projects you are missing out! I really recommend it.

 

Valley of the Doll(houses)

I’ve had requests to see more of the tiny world I keep for my Angelic Pretty Byuls, Skye and Violet – including a full view of their pink vintage Barbie cottage. At Otakon I also found them a few new foods and dishes from my favorite miniature brand, Re-ment, so I had to take a few photos of those too – except for the special Christmas set, which of course I’ll debut as a special Christmas treat later this year!

Here’s the full view, the dollhouse as seen from my white bookcase where they live. (And my first time using artificial light… not sure if I like the look.) The floor is scrapbook paper.

Some more snapshots of the house, such as the kitchen counter, beauty vanity, and sofa. The new mint tea-cart I found at Ponycon, as part of Paradise Estate (I also have a yellow Paradise Estate refrigerator, which I don’t have a spot for). Also spotted in the kitchen: new strawberry ice-cube tray, strawberry cutting board, white fancy tray, pink whisk and ladle, teapot and shelf…!

As I fall deeper in love with buying tiny foods, posing the dolls, and the strangely changing faces of the dolls themselves, I’ve realized something unfortunate. The more I spoil my little lolitas (with new toys, snacks, and pretty furniture), the less room there is in their cottage! There would certainly be no room to expand my lolita household, either – which I’m hoping to do, possibly with the goal of collecting all six Angelic Pretty collaborated dolls.

So the only answer was to look for new real estate! My previous attempts at an ‘addition’ to the house, with a piece of My Little Pony’s Paradise Estate, proved unworkable – the wrong size for my 1:6 scale dolls. I decided to consider the ubiquitous Barbie Dream House, an unfulfilled childhood dream. The modern ones available in stores, besides costing a pretty penny, are all dark purple glitter and black and orange and drag-queen-hot-pink – cute and edgy, but not the right thing for the fantasy pastel-land I’ve been designing. I’d prefer to find another vintage model instead – cheaper and sweetly painted in pinks and mints and lilacs.

Delving into the history of Barbie houses was interesting to say the least! The original Barbie house, made in 1960, was a one-room cardboard studio. The Barbie abodes range from townhouses with printed furniture to 1980s A-frames and even open-air cottages and vacation houses. My favorite is the 1990s Victorian dollhouse – made in both white and lilac, with pretty balconies and a turret, reminding me of my family’s old house. There’s plenty of room inside for a lolita-worthy tea table and drawing room, simple kitchen, pretty vanity, and dreamy canopy bed. Here’s a sample of what’s available for the 1:6 real estate world…

In 1978, Barbie got a lovely A-frame house. {via the barbie man on Flickr}

For serious hobbyists or crazily over-achieving parents, you can buy the woodworking plans to the ultimate historical dream house.

Rather than a constant ‘house’, it seems that many people who enjoy photographing scenes with their dolls as models prefer to build one-off single wall dioramas. They mostly appear to be made out of foamboard, scrapbook paper, and tiny balsa wood wainscoting and beadboard. Some are so cute it’s hard to imagine that they’re actually very tiny!

{images via Princess Di-o-rama on Flickr)

Here’s a sample of some of my favorite scenes for 1:6 dolls (in this case, Blythe rather than Pullip). I’m in love with the crafting armoir in the second picture – reminds me of something you’d see in a Mary Engelbreit magazine! I actually found a great interview with Princess Di-o-rama on mademoiselle blythe, where she shows how she sets up her scenes and stores oodles of doll furniture! It’s very interesting whether you’re a photographer, doll enthusiast, or just lover of the adorable.

 

I caught a bit of a cold from the legions of people at Otakon (33,000 this year!) so I’ll update with my Otakon adventure on my next post! I had a lovely time and can’t wait to go again next year!

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