The Question of Content

The muse for this post was this Veritasium video – I started to share/ comment on Facebook, but quickly realized I was writing a small novel.

While I certainly don’t have the kind of subscriber or viewer numbers to really matter at this point anyway (and the shift in my time and attentions once grad school started slumped down what numbers I did have as I simply wasn’t making anything at that point), but this is something I have been seeing as well: The rise in time-sensitive video topics and click bait.
 
I haven’t posted anything myself in some months – either here or on Youtube. I’ve been working on some doll unboxing videos here and there since the start of the year, nothing to upload yet, just a number of them in various states of completion. And I have been hesitant to post what I have done, as many of those videos would now be considered “old news”.
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The Moana doll that I got for Christmas? I haven’t even seen her for sale for over a month. Those Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice collector dolls from Mattel were only big right after that movie came out. Is it even worth the time at this point to finish editing the unboxing of the Batman doll I got? The big thing in the doll-world at this moment is the new Ken dolls. My most viewed blog post was from Feb 2016 when I wrote that comparison between all the new Barbies and Lammily. I’ve considered doing a companion for these new guys, but I would need to go buy the short Ken and there are already dozens of other blogs and videos at this point. So is it worth it? And even if I could manage to stay on top of every new release and quickly turn out new content for every new hot item, I certainly don’t have the income to buy every hot doll that comes out the moment it comes out. I really need to re-assess what kind of content I’m creating.
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Readership has been steadily decreasing – I deeply appreciate those of you who stick around despite the periods of lull. 

Although the Spring semester ended nearly 2 months ago, I’ve not yet produced what I had hoped to. I’ve taken some of that time to just relax and allow myself to de-stress rather than quickly switch gears and just keep pushing myself. It’s been worth it. My creativity has started to flow again. I have ideas again. That urge to make things has come back — If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen some of these results. (Sorry, Twitter people, I always mean to post there as well, I just don’t always remember).
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I made this little bodhran and tipper just the other day.

I have roughly another month and a half left before the Fall semester begins. Let’s see what I can churn out in that time.

The Smell of Melted Plastic in the Morning…

On a day when my energy is all but drained and my uterus is waging war on me, this is how I manage to maintain some semblance of productivity. Hello again, long abandoned reader! Tell me in the comments how you’ve managed to survive without me over the past month – I promise I’ll read it, but I’ll likely make one of the dolls respond. Let me know who your favorite dolly is and I’ll tape them to the laptop with the hair dryer pointed at them until they write back to you.

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Now… updates. I survived my first semester of grad school – I even aced both of the courses I took. I don’t really feel the least bit celebratory about it, though. I’ve been out of school for some years and I’ve never held a 4.0 before. You’d think I’d be ecstatic. I think I’m too busy looking at the 5 classes I’ll have to juggle starting a week from tomorrow. If I come out of that in December with the same success, then I’ll let myself acknowledge it.

I’ve been doing my best to make the most use of these two weeks between semesters: I took a trip to visit friends and family for a couple of days last week, I spent another couple of days doing a major purge of clothes I’ve been hoarding in my closet for 6 years, and I’ve been working on filming videos for Youtube that I can hold onto for when I inevitably get too bogged down with homework to create during the coming semester.

I recently collaborated with the Volunteer Superviser from the Books to Prisoners program I’m involved with to create a couple of videos. The first of these videos serves to break down how the Books to Prisoners program works overall and how to go about connecting inmates to them. The second of these videos, which I’ve just publicly released today, discusses what volunteers do and how to get involved.

Despite having been working with them for over a year, this was a learning experience for me as well. For the most part, the role I play, important as it is, can sometimes feel disconnected from the everyday workings of the organization.

I don’t have a coherent ending to this, so, here are some photos of dolls:

Photographer Lammily is Here!!!

After roughly a year of waiting from the time she was available for pre-order, my new photographer Lammily finally came home this weekend! It was very hard for me to not immediately take her out of the box to introduce her to the rest of the dolly family. But I was good and I waited until I had the time to film her unboxing:

Here are some close-up shots of her. I really like how her feet and hands are a lighter shade:

I’ve still not decided upon a name for her, but I like the idea that she grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had the pleasure of going to New Orleans in October of 2015. I really enjoyed myself there and would like to go back someday.

After filming her unboxing and taking close-ups yesterday, I introduced her to some of my other dolls. A group of them – Aideen, Mitsuko, TJ, and Morrígan (with her bağlama in hand) – took a ride out to a local park in my backpack with our newest friend. Morrígan played and sang for us while the photographer and I took a bunch of photos.

It would also seem that our new lady and TJ are pretty cozy together…

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Introducing the Misty Copeland Barbie

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     If you haven’t heard yet, Mattel’s newest collector doll and part of their “Shero” initiative, is the Misty Copeland doll. I was fortunate enough to get one of these dolls and she’s absolutely beautiful. I actually felt bad about unboxing her because her display was so pretty. I did manage to film her unboxing, and I’ve put up a Youtube video for you all that I’ll embed at the bottom of this post.

Before I get into the doll, I want to take a minute to talk about how awe-inspiring this woman is. If you’re aware of who Misty Copeland is at all, you likely know that she’s a ballerina with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. You’re also likely aware that she’s the first African-American woman to be the principal dancer at ABT or that she used to collaborate with Prince some years ago. But, did you know that she grew up poor? Like, spent-her-childhood-moving-around-with-her-single-mother-and-6-siblings-including-time-spent-living-in-a-motel poor. Misty didn’t start dancing until age 13 – which is generally considered too old – and she took her first lessons through her local Boys and Girls Club. She’s also tougher than I could be, dancing through her first major performance as the Firebird with a stress fracture in her tibia so severe the bone had nearly broken all the way through. I’ve broken some bones in my day – I can’t even imagine working through that kind of pain. If you’re interested in learning more about her, here is a link to an interview CBS did with her in May of 2015. Her entire story gives me hope.

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There was a bit of a kerfluffle just after the Misty doll was released, as the photos for the ad on Amazon showed the doll with extremely light skin tone. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how she would look when she arrived, but I’m happy to say that in-person, her skin tone is much more true to life to match the real Misty. Although, I still wish this were reflected in the ad photo rather than showing a whitewashed doll.

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You can see very clearly that Misty’s calf muscles are much larger that those of a standard Barbie. Misty herself has very muscular legs and strong calves to do all of those jumps and dancing on her toes.

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You can also see how her bust is larger than that of a more recent Barbie (this is the Asian Made-to-Move doll). Of course, so many of the older dolls already had enormous busts, but Misty herself actually is fairly busty.

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Not surprisingly, because she is a collector doll which Mattel seems to  assume will be for display only, her outfit is sewn shut. However, all it takes are a few snips to these strings. You could easily add your own hook and eye closures, snaps, or a small zipper. I don’t think velcro would work well with the way the outfit is made.

I did remove her dance outfit, though I did not want to mess with her hairstyle, as you can see. She has more articulation than the typical articulated dolls, but not nearly as much as a Made-to-Move. However, I can deal with this because those calves are pretty sweet.

To see her being unboxed and for a more in-depth look at how she moves, check out the Unboxing Misty video I’ve posted over on Youtube. While I’m posting the video here, please be sure to go to Youtube to like and subscribe there and maybe even send me a WordPress shoutout in the comments 🙂

Making Nightshift Survival Guide

I had this idea a couple of weeks ago to make a video on the topic of working graveyard shifts. As you may or may not be aware, I switched over to regular overnight shifts at my full-time job a few months ago. There are certain benefits and certain challenges that come with existing on a schedule out of sync with the majority of the population – Your body has to get adjusted to it, you spend significant chunks of time alone, and even when co-habitating you may only see your significant other awake for a few hours during the week.  (I’m not complaining, though. I chose this shift in order to better accommodate the demands of grad school, which starts in just over a month.)

I didn’t know what direction I wanted to take this project at first. I just wanted to tap into some of these experiences. The items of the basic survival kit are what I frequently make use of myself to get through the work week – and even with melatonin and caffeine, my body will still want to fall back into the natural circadian rhythm. Sometimes on my nights off, I get really sleepy around 3 or 4 AM and it is hard not to just allow myself to sleep. But, I know if I do, I will wake too early and throw myself off track.

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Falling asleep at work can be hazardous to your health!

Everything in the video is done by me. I don’t have anyone else willing to hold a camera, or act, or help to edit. I’d actually had a few ideas that would have been nice to try if I’d had some other actors, but I have to work with what I’ve got.
Also, I had no idea how time-consuming this project would be.I had originally intended the video to be up either yesterday or the day before, but I actually spent the majority of the day/night editing. Then filming more footage to tie pieces together. Then more editing. Then making a run to the store and spending nearly $8 on supplies to make fake blood – and having to make way more than I needed in order to get a decent color and consistency (I’d found a recipe online, but straying from that in an attempt to make a smaller batch failed miserably so I just made the whole thing). I wonder how long fake blood will keep in the freezer? I’d hate to waste the better part of $8.
As it is, I still need to finish editing the final pieces – and debating whether I do that this morning or after I get some sleep, as I would like to get it posted today but also would like to spend some time with my boyfriend while he is awake. Choices will have to be made and something will need to be sacrificed.

One of the nice things about this project, is that it has allowed me to play around with and learn more aspects of this editing software. I can clone now!!  I’d like to learn how to clean up the audio – delete background static and have an even volume from one clip to the next. Maybe for the next video. Right now, I’m trying to avoid getting so caught up in wanting everything to be perfect that I spend hours learning how to do things while never actually getting around to making anything. So, I hope you can forgive my less than perfect videography – I’m teaching myself and learning as I go.

If you’ve enjoyed this video or this blog, please like it, comment, and share it.

No More Excuses/ Garden of Doll Heads

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I am not above using scare tactics to keep my dolls in line. “This is what happens when you use my fabric scissors to cut paper”

I feel like I should be writing something. I also feel like I should be getting around to actually making some videos. I’ve been saying for awhile (over a year, while not necessarily always in this blog) that I want to start making Youtube videos.
-I invested the time and the money into decorating the walls in my craft room because I felt like I couldn’t start doing it unless I had a good background.

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$75+ and over a week invested in decorating these walls.

-Then I needed a camera, because I felt my point and shoot wasn’t good enough.
-Then I needed a tripod.
Then I needed quality editing software.
-Then I needed a computer.

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The new computer. I have yet to justify buying it.

-Lately I’ve been concerned because of an acne flare up and not wanting to be ugly on camera. (Seriously, how am I still getting acne in my 30s? This is not fair)

Enough excuses. I will be making a Youtube debut before the end of the day on Friday of next week (4/15/2016). Maybe it will be crappy. But I need to stop talking about it and just *do it already*.

I’m also fully aware that I really need to finish the next segment of The Mission as well. I’m going to make sure I get that done before April is over. No more excuses. The start of grad school is only 2 months away. I need to utilize this time while I still have it.

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Earlier this weekend, I went out to ACME Elfworks – my friend Melissa Mitchell’s studio -for the Annual Boneyard Arts festival. She’s a super cool re-use artist that uses a lot of found objects in her artwork. Many of her pieces incorporate dolls or various doll body parts. Her artwork is often whimsical, but can also be kind of creepy – and I love that. I first met her whilst I was involved with the HATCH art show about 3 years ago. I just happened to have my camera with me and have decided to share some of these photos with you all.

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❤ the cart full of rats

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Reminds me of Sid’s creation from the original Toy Story movie.

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In case you were curious what became of Charlie Horse. He couldn’t cope after Lamb Chop’s Play Along ended – his heart was broken after he caught Lamb in bed with Hush Puppy and turned to drugs and gambling. Sherry Lewis attempted an intervention once before her death, but Charlie refused rehab. Unable to pay his debts one night, he was taken into a back alley where he was beaten to death. His lifeless body was thrown into a dumpster. I believe this is where Melissa found his little pony corpse. Not entirely sure what she did with the rest of the body. It’s possible her cats ate it.

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A lush garden of doll heads. Melissa hacks off their scalps and uses them as macabre planters. This is a thing I shall someday do when I have a garden of my own.

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I love the way her lifeless eyes are glazed over. Even in death, Barbie continues to smile.

Doll Surgery

 

 

 

Lately I have been trying my best to quell my wanting for new dolls. As it is, I do have a fair amount and rather than just to continue amassing more of them, it’s best that I try to focus on the ones I currently have. Though, I *did* pick up some recent acquisitions that I didn’t really even pay anything for. Yay free dollies!

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Wait? FREE?? Yeah, free. Ok, $3 and some change. But practically free. Some months back I signed up for a Toys R Us credit card. Basically, the card accumulates points for dollar that I spend. Those points add up to money back that I can spend at Toys R Us. This haul was the result of earning $50 worth of points. There are probably better options out there for cash back or rewards and certainly lower interest rates. But this post isn’t so much about the card, as this is really my first foray into credit cards. I avoided them like the plague through college and even now they scare me just a bit. I have personally known too many people get hurt by them. I do not advise getting a credit card unless you have enough income to not be struggling from paycheck to paycheck and/or have very strong will power. It is very easy to think that a line of credit is like an emergency fund. IT IS NOT. I spend my credit the way I would spend my debit card – on stuff I would normally buy that I have the funds for in the bank. Then I pay it off in full (not the minimum) and as soon as what I’ve spent posts to the account.  All of that said, let’s get into the dolls.

So, if you look at the above photo, you’ll see that I got myself three of the Made to Move (MtM)dolls and two Fashionistas. I’d had the brunette and Asian MtM dolls already. I got two more of them for the sole purpose of rebodying.

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Miss Candy Jumper (I haven’t yet given her an identity) didn’t quite match up with the brunette’s color. As you can see, she was a closer match to one of the Liv dolls I had laying around.

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Livs aren’t as wondrously articulate as MtMs, but, before MtMs came on the market, Livs were about the best that could be had in play line articulation. Unfortunately, Liv heads are

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Oops!

a much harder and less malleable material than Barbie heads. I had quite a bit of trouble. This doll did not wish to be decapitated. It was like I could almost hear her screaming. In the end, I pulled too hard and the little internal neck piece popped out and is now rattling inside the Liv head. But, I still want to use that Liv body, so, what do I do? I had to perform a trickier transplant…

 

Now, what you’re about to see may be gruesome. I extracted the part I needed from an older body in my dolly morgue. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

It took some intense skill and precision on my part, but the transplant was successful! Let’s just hope these new parts aren’t rejected down the road. I don’t think Miss Candy Jumper wants to go through this ordeal again!

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¡Gracias! Puedo doblar mis rodillas!

Here are all the new dollies, out of the boxes and post-op (I’m still working on the 5th):

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So far, the only one I have a name for is the blonde curvy one. I’ve chosen to name her Diane, after my mother. I don’t really know why, she just reminds me of my mom. I’ll have to make her a new outfit (Mom was never one for dresses) and a little bandana.

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My mother being radiant. The tiny one is me, around 3 years old. Gonna say this was 1988.

 

 

50 Years of Influence

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In 1996, Mattel released this Barbie and Ken set to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek. These were the first dolls I remember longing for.

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I went to see Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the show and this production was, essentially, an array of selected clips from the shows and movies projected on a giant theater screen while a live orchestra played iconic Trek music. For me, this was a very moving experience. For an idea of what this was, I’d like to share this video put together by benandbarry on Youtube (I’m very impressed by the smooth transition in editing here, this is actually multiple pieces of the production spliced together):

Star Trek was something that I grew up with. My father was a Trekkie and would always watch it, pointing out the ways in which science fiction has a habit of becoming science fact. The Next Generation (TNG) first aired in 1987, when I was only 2 years old. With the quick succession of TNG, Deep Space Nine (DS9), and Voyager, you could say I literally grew up with it. While the major drawing factor for my father was the technology, I was drawn in and deeply affected by the rich social and philosophical lessons the episodes and films had to offer. These lessons helped to guide me and shape my worldview. There were two characters in particular that I looked up to:

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Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Mr. Spock. Picard’s words of wisdom and diplomacy modeled the kind of person, the kind of leader I longed, still long to be. He was firm and fair. He took his commanding role seriously but without being power driven. He lead by example, respected order and law but did not falter in instances where that order and law worked to the detriment of the populace. In his words, “the claim ‘I was only following orders’ has been used to justify too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet doesn’t want officers who will blindly follow orders without analyzing the situation” (Redemption II, 1991). There was an excellent piece written by Alex Knapp in Forbes in 2012 that does a great job capturing the ways in which Picard was a great leader.

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Mr. Spock’s intellect, logic, and, most importantly, control over his emotions, were characteristics that I wanted for myself. During the often turbulent years of my childhood, and even during trying times of my adulthood, I would have given anything to maintain the calm and emotion-free state of a Vulcan. But Spock was not fully Vulcan, he was half Human. Because of this, there are times during which you can see him grappling with emotions that, I wager, present themselves more strongly within him than within a full Vulcan. “I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half… I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both…” (The Enemy Within, 1966).

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Halloween 1997. Seeking to emulate both of these role models as a TNG era Vulcan Captain.

With a nod to the roots of this blog, I feel I would be remiss if I neglected the wardrobe. Yes, I own an array of Star Trek tshirts (you can read a previous bit about tshirts here) and I also own a uniform inspired hoodie complete with insignia and rank pips. In the film, First Contact, Picard says to Data, “…touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way. It makes it seem more real.”  Indeed, in a similar way, wearing that uniform-hoodie does make me feel a certain connection to these characters and those traits that I admire. And is it any surprise that one of the first outfits I made for my Lammily doll was a Starfleet uniform?

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Of Life and Dollies: Updates, News, and Spoilers!

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My last post that showcased the new Barbies has gotten more views than any other post and in an incredibly short amount of time.

It’s been about a month now since my last posting. I’d actually written a rather long piece a few days back, but given its overly personal nature, I decided not to publish it. I don’t view it as a wasted effort, as the entire process was more therapeutic than anything. It needed to be written, it felt good to write it, but it just ultimately wasn’t destined to be shared. I know you understand.

I do have some updates to share with you all before I move on to new projects. Perhaps the biggest piece of news is that I have officially been accepted into grad school. It’s been a couple of weeks now, there was a big post about it on my personal Facebook, and a lot of the buzz from it has worn off since then. But it’s still pretty great news. I don’t know yet how that will affect this blog or any of my (still unfinished) projects as full-time school + a full-time job + a part-time job is already going to deplete a lot of my time. We’ll see how it goes. Classes won’t start for another three months yet, so don’t abandon me yet!

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My new desktop set-up, nicely integrated into my craft room.

My next update is that I have finally managed to get myself a new computer. After discovering there is simply no way I can utilize Pinnacle on my laptop, I pooled the collective knowledge of all my techie friends together and got myself a new desktop that I’ll be using primarily for video and photo editing. I haven’t done a whole lot with it yet beyond just playing around with the new programs and learning how they work. It is a goal to launch Youtube content this year, but I don’t yet have a predicted timeline for it. I’m hoping to have a better understanding of what I’m doing before school starts.

In project news, I’ve decided to try out another re-root. After watching one of MyFroggyStuff’s recent videos I was inspired to try this out myself.

I’d already had a few doll heads that had been removed of hair that had been sitting in a box this past year, so I opted to use of of those. I decided to test out two different yarns – a soft, worsted weight, wool-like acrylic and a cotton crochet thread. I did a sample row with four sections to try out each of these yarns in both their intact and unraveled states. 

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My original plans for this particular doll when I first got her from a thrift store over a year ago, was for her to be a family member for my Lammily doll, Morrigan. If you’ll recall, when I envisioned a backstory for Morrigan, I determined that she has an Irish mother and a Turkish father. My first re-root doll was originally intended to be a maternal cousin, but fate had another purpose in store for her and I have since found a different doll to fill that role (more about her in a later post). As it turns out, I’ve decided to alter the identity and 12bf7c16039941cb8f55269b03308be8relationship of this particular doll as well. (Spoilers!!!  Since the Lammily company has announced their plans for a new male doll (currently being crowdfunded and due to begin shipping out in November), and because this new male doll looks similar to his female
counterpart in the face, it makes more sense to me to have him be a brother for Morrigan. And while Morrigan does not have any romantic inclinations at the moment, that doesn’t mean her brother doesn’t!)

Lammily Embraces Barbie’s Evolution

WARNING: The following contains photos of naked dolls.
All of these dolls are of legal age (in doll years) and consented to
having these photos taken.
If you have moral issues with naked dolls, you may want to exit now.

Let’s not kid ourselves, we knew this post was coming. Barbie has been blowing up my social media feeds since last week Thursday when Mattel announced that they would be releasing three new body types in their Barbie Fashionista line. And I get it. This is a huge deal for pretty much all of doll-kind and represents a major shift in society. I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss this new direction. Because there is so much that I can say about this change, so much that has already been said, and because I want to avoid a TL;DR post, I will be splitting this into two posts. In this first post, I will simply provide a photo comparison of these dolls. In the next post, I will be sharing my thoughts about these changes and answering some of the common arguments I see online about the movement to have more body positive dolls.

BUT I know that most of you are likely more anxious to get to photos of these new dolls. And I am happy to oblige.

First, here are all three of my girls with the new body types: Petite, Curvy, and Tall.

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Now is when the clothes come off. Here are each of these dolls in the nude so that you can see how they’re structured. The extra body I am comparing them to is the Original style Fashionista body. Please forgive her lack of a head – I had already rebodied her to a Liv doll:

Unfortunately, I don’t have a Skipper doll to compare Petite with – I know some of you are curious as to whether Mattel cheated a bit with this doll. But, she seems to have an adult style body to me. I also really like the bit of maroon in her hair.

Tall is very slender, a bit flatter chested, and has a much more subtle cinch in her waist than the other dolls.

Curvy’s blue hair is actually a mix of blue and black. I really like it and this lady already feels like she has some serious personality.  She has more of a pear shape to her – her cup size seems to be about the same as Original to me, but she certainly has more in the trunk and has a bit of a paunch on her belly.

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Next, I wanted to see how these girls compared to some of my other dolls.

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L to R: Lammily, Curvy, one of my Prettie Girls, Original, Made to Move, one of my Mixis, a Liv, My Scene Barbie, Classic Barbie, Tall, Petite

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L to R: Classic, Original, Made to Move, Curvy, Prettie Girl, Lammily, My Scene, Petite, Tall, Mixis

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L to R: Classic, Original, Made to Move, Curvy, Prettie Girl, Lammily, My Scene, Petite, Tall, and Mixis

In particular, I couldn’t help but notice these two groups – the 3 dolls that all have less drastic cinches to their waists (which seems more natural to me) and the 4 that all have ample “junk in the trunk”, for lack of better phrasing. Lammily and Mixis belong to both of these groups.

Now to try on clothes!

It seems Petite, Tall, and Original can all share clothes with each other, although the fit may be a little different. What is a dress for Petite will fit Tall but would require the addition of leggings for your doll to maintain her modesty. The outfit still works, though.

I played around with having Prettie Girl try on Curvy’s clothes, since they both have larger behinds. Curvy’s shirt fits OK, although midriff baring, but the skirt is just too loose. I then have Petite try on Prettie Girl’s outfit. It works, but the fit is loose. Great for those days when Petite might want to just lounge around the apartment.

SHOES:  Curvy and Tall each have slightly bigger feet than the other Barbies. But, Curvy’s feet are too small to wear Mixis or Prettie Girl shoes and, similarly, those dolls have feet that are too big for the Curvy/Tall shoes. Lammily’s feet are altogether bigger than all of them, so, no shoe swapping here.

And now, what I know everyone is curious to know – How do Curvy Barbie and Lammily relate to each other?

As you can see, Curvy’s legs are still rather long and her torso sits much higher. Curvy’s arms are thinner and her hourglass shape seems more cartoon-ish by comparison. Also, while Lammily’s range of motion isn’t the best on the market, until Mattel gives these new bodies Made to Move articulation, Lammily still leads in this area.

But can they share clothes? Well, Curvy can certainly borrow clothes from Lammily’s closet:

Although, Lammily’s clothes may be a bit baggy. This is because even Curvy’s proportions are still smaller than Lammily’s. The sharing only goes one way:

Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments as well as if there are any comparisons or poses you’d like to see.