Reviews for the Wintertime

Hello!

How are you all? Lulu and I are keeping our eyes on the forecast for the weekend, as we’re anxious for a snowfall! In the meantime, however, we thought we’d pop in with a set of product reviews: one on the Warm Winter Outfit and Accessories, which Lulu was kindly gifted at Christmas {it was timely too – winter in New England certainly calls for a cute sweater and hat!} and another on the new Diabetes Set, which I snagged on the day of Lea’s release at the AG store. Both have their pros and cons, as you’ll see in our thoughts below. If you have either set, what do you think of them?

Lulu will take it away first! :)

IMG_0589My least favorite part about the Warm Winter outfit would have to be the leggings. While a great color, they fit awkwardly in the top half of the leg and don’t work very well as bottoms with the short sweater. They should come in handy however, when mixing and matching in the future!

IMG_0600The orange and dark purple color palette can be hard to pull off, but when done right, it can be one of my favorite combinations. In this case, I’m a fan! The material is soft and cozy, and I love the cut of the neckline. The heart elbow patches are cute, but I wish the color of them was subtler. I could do without the asymmetrical hemline as well.

Louisa in the SnowI am a huge fan of fluffy winter hats, so you can imagine my excitement when I first saw this adorable accessory! The fair aisle pattern is detailed, but not too busy, and adds a bit of fun to the outfit. And the pom-pom on top and fleece lining? Yes, please!

Louisa in the SnowAG usually does a pretty good job with their winter boots, and this time was no different! Using the same fabric as the hat, the orange cording and purple accents pull out the main color elements of the outfit. They’re quite easy to get on, and make it simple for your doll to stand – looking stylish while doing so, of course.

Doll mittens and gloves can be a bit tricky – full fingered gloves are too hard to slip onto AG hands, and if mittens are too loose, they are prone to fall off. The solution in this case? Fingerless gloves! Admittedly, these took me way longer to put to put on than they probably should have, and they’re not the most practical things in the world, but they sure are cute and help tie the outfit together.

Louisa in the SnowFinally we have the vest, which is made of a dark quilted fabric lined with fleece. It fits easily over the sweater, and while movement is a bit restricted when the Velcro is fully attached, it looks nice open or closed. It’s a great extra layer for winter days!

Overall? Some elements in the Warm Winter Outfit could use tweaking, but the majority of it is made up of cute and comfortable pieces in one of my favorite colors. I would recommend it for its accessories {especially the hat and the boots} and altogether winter-y look.

Buy it for yourself: Warm Winter Outfit and Warm Winter Accessories

American Girl Diabetes KitMy turn! As I had mentioned in my initial thoughts, I couldn’t be happier that American Girl had finally released a kit for their diabetic fans. Though the colors and materials veer to unrealistic, the accuracy of said pieces are top-notch. In other words? I could do without the blatant plastic look of the accessories, but I give my wholehearted approval to the intention behind each part, whether it’s the adorable miniature meter or the canister of glucose tablets.

American Girl Diabetes Kit and BagEverything fits neatly into the included bag – any diabetic will tell you that there’s a lot to carry around! I like the opportunity AG provides to personalize the kit; it’s a nice touch, and I personally think it only adds to the set’s appeal.

American Girl Diabetes Log and MeterOne drawback to the set? The lack of test strips! It’s a shame they didn’t include them because all other pieces clearly had so much thought put into them. Case in point: the journal, which has ample space for any doll diabetic to log and track her blood sugars throughout the day.

Overall, though, I’m pleased with the set. The play and educational purpose it serves greatly outweighs its cost {and at $24, it leans towards the cheaper end of the AG line}. American Girl has taken great measures to diversify their medical line, and in doing so, I believe they truly live up to the message of their brand. Thumbs up from me!

Buy it for yourself: Diabetes Care Kit

Have a terrific afternoon!
Bella {and Lulu!}

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We Review: Ever After High Thronecoming Special

Hi!

We Review ThronecomingAs any EAH fan will know, the eagerly awaited Ever After High Thronecoming Special recently premiered on Nickelodeon (it was also added to Netflix last weekend, if you want to check there too!). Being a huge fan myself, I watched the special – and then rewatched it three times – along with Bella, and we thought it would be the perfect thing to continue our “We Review” series. As always, we format our reviews as a conversation between the two of us; this keeps it natural and allows us to hit all of the points we want to discuss! What did you think of the Thronecoming special?

L: I had lots of fun watching the special with you, Bella! The animation and the story were quite interesting to me – I hope it was for you too. I’m a hard-core EAH fan, so I was able to follow everything just fine, but as someone who knows the storyline less, was it harder for you to understand what was going on?

B: Thanks to your quick review of the story beforehand, I was just fine! Of course, someone who is completely new to Ever After High would have some trouble, but then again, they aren’t the intended audience. You also mentioned the animation, which I found very well-done. I’m quite impressed with it, especially since it seems to be a fairly low-budget production!

L: I like the simple style of the animation as well. All of the elements flow nicely! I also think the design of the characters is great, as well as the settings. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the characters got new Thronecoming outfits, even the ones who aren’t dolls at the moment. Thoughts?

B: It is such a fun storyline; the writers and animators clearly put a lot of thought into all of the little details! Regarding the costumes, I have to agree with you. All of the characters looked gorgeous in their Thronecoming dresses, and I’m sure they provide plenty of design inspiration for you. What did you think of the acting? It clearly didn’t set out to be award-winning, but again, like many things in this special, I was surprised at how engaged I was in the story while watching.

L: I agree! Part of what brings animation to life is the voices and sounds. These weren’t the most amazing voice-overs I’ve ever heard, but I think the actors did a good job of representing the characters’ personalities. The animation is also impressive because some of the actors play three or four characters! Speaking of the characters, I’m very happy that there is more development in this special. Not only do we get to find out about the Headmaster’s past, but we also get to imagine what would happen if the Royals chose to live out their stories. I felt so bad for Briar when she realized that she could lose all of her friends if she chooses to become the next Sleeping Beauty.

B: Before the special, I hadn’t realized how in-depth the EAH story lines are, no doubt the result of Shannon Hale’s books and videos/films like this one! It was interesting to get a deeper look into each character’s life, and I hope you’ll keep me updated as more stories are released. I, too, felt bad for Briar – sleeping for one hundred years isn’t all that glamorous. Any last points that you want to mention?

L: Hmm, the only thing I can think of is that I enjoyed learning more about the Evil Queen’s time at Ever After High. We didn’t find out too much, but it does open up opportunities for future story lines. That’s all for me!

B: I have nothing else to say, except a huge thanks to you, Lulu, for suggesting this! :)

Did any of you Ever After High fans watch the special? If so, what are your thoughts? Let’s discuss!

Happy Thursday!

L + B

We Review: Felicity, An American Girl Adventure

Hi!

We Review FelicityFor our next “We Review…” post, Lulu and I decided on an AG movie we both really like: Felicity! The two of us had not watched it in a while, so it was not only a good refresher, it also made for a perfect movie night. Like we did with Isabelle, our movie reviews are formatted as a conversation between us both; this keeps it natural and allows us to hit all of the points we want to discuss! Once you’ve read through our thoughts, feel free to share your opinions below – we can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

L: I really enjoyed watching Felicity’s movie again with you Bella! It was quite fun to go back and watch one of our old favorites.

B: I liked it too! What I enjoyed most about it the first time through was the production details, from the gorgeous dresses to the intricate – and hopefully historical accurate – settings, and this remained true through our recent watching. I adored seeing the girls’ holiday outfits come to life, as I had always admired them when they were available for dolls. What were your thoughts?

L: You’re right – the costumes and settings are so interesting to watch and see; I wish I had snagged one of those ball gowns when the dolls were still available for purchase! The settings really do help the story come alive, and they add to the historical feel of the plot. I absolutely loved the holiday party scene towards the end of the film because of all the details. What was your favorite scene?

B: Oh, I will always like the scene of Felicity’s first lesson with Miss Manderly, but in the heat of summer {when we watched it}, the holiday parts at the end stole the show for me. I never loved Felicity when I was little, but the movie, both then and now, definitely helped me appreciate her story a bit more! How do you think Shailene Woodley did as Felicity?

L: I really enjoyed her performance, and I found that she brought the spunky Felicity Merriman to life wonderfully. There were a few awkward moments with some of the colonial wording, but she and her co-star Katie Henney worked very well together in their scenes… but I could live without those fake giggles (You can play I Spy with them in all the AG movies!).

B: How could you not like the forced laughter, Lulu?! It’s AG’s film trademark! :) Anyhoo, I think it’s fun that AG fans were the first to see Shailene at the start of her career – now she’s starring in films like Divergent! The other actors did a great job with the material as well, and the entire cast seemed to have great chemistry with one another. In other words, unlike their laughs, the friendships and family relationships felt realistic.

L: I agree! Even characters with only a few lines made the plot seem realistic. It also helped me enjoy the story more, even if it contributed to AG’s horse-filled film collection (Felicity is the original horse girl though, so I’m cool with it.). Actually, the horse aspect of the story was very fun to watch, as were the more historical parts (Tea lessons! Ponytail Wigs! Cloaks everywhere!).

B: Haha, I definitely see your point! I could do without a horse-themed storyline, historical or GOTY, for a few years at this point, but it was interesting to see Felicity ride Penny through the field. Do you have any last comments?

L: I thought that a few of the scenes that were supposed to be “exciting” or “adventurous” just ended up feeling a bit over the top, as were some of the characters, but other than that I recommend this movie for all AG lovers!

B: I give my full recommendation too!

Let’s talk, friends! What do you think of the Felicity film? Agree of disagree with our thoughts? Is it your favorite AG movie, or have we yet to review your preference?

Have an awesome week!

Bella and Lulu

A Peek Inside Doll Photo Shoot!

Hello!

Look Inside Doll Photo Shoot {with Bri and Zoey!}When Lulu wrote up the sweetest birthday post for me last month, she mentioned that I received American Girl’s Doll Photo Shoot as a gift! I’ve always loved these AG kits {Doll School still holds the spot of being my favorite}, so getting it was a wonderful surprise. With the help of our friends Bri and Zoey, I’ve written up my thoughts on the set, in case you are thinking of purchasing it yourself! Have you taken a look at Doll Photo Shoot or any of the other “Doll…” kits?

Doll Photo ShootTo begin, here is the front of the book! It is available on the American Girl website for $22 here, but you can also get it on Amazon for a little over fifteen dollars here. After taking an in-depth look at the contents of the kit, I think $22 is a bit much; you’re better off sticking with Amazon.

Doll Photo ShootPerhaps my favorite part of this set is the instructional book! You can never know too much on how to take a good picture, and even after taking a few classes on photography, I still learned new tips to use in our Doll Mag photoshoots. I appreciate that they simplified more technical terms so that anyone in AG’s intended age range could understand. A lot goes into photography, so the more it’s broken down, the better! Each page spread is formatted as shown above. On the left, the author{s?} explain one topic, such as taking portraits; also included are “pro tips,” which are fun to read through. On the right is a handful of practice projects for one to try. I think it’s a good set-up, as it makes for the perfect balance of instruction and exercise.

Doll Photo ShootHere’s another practice project in the book. I had to include it because Isabella is featured :)

Doll Photo ShootThe two other books in the set are Lights, Camera, Action!, which is a guide to taking movies with your dolls, and a Doll Photo Album. While Lights, Camera, Action! is a good booklet for budding moviemakers {I show a more detailed shot below}, the photo album leaves much to be desired. This set doesn’t come with a whole lot, so I wish the album was more than a book of blank white pages!

Doll Photo ShootHere, you can see how Lights, Camera, Action! was set up. I know close to nothing about moviemaking, so it was an interesting, albeit quick, read. I’m sure AG fans with an interest in stop motion would definitely benefit from this, although others may pass it up.

Doll Photo ShootNext, Zoey poses with the frame prop! I think that the idea is terrific, although the execution is not. The frame is flimsy and it’s difficult for the doll to hold it, prompting frustration minutes after toying with it. It also does not allow for much else beyond the doll holding it for a portrait. On the more positive side, I love the illustrations that decorate the frame. They are so bright and whimsical!

Doll Photo ShootOther props in the kit include two mini posters. Zoey shows one of the designs above; the other poster says something along the lines of “Owl Always Be Your Friend.” These lack creativity and are rather disappointing – it almost seems as if AG gave up when it came to the photo props! Nevertheless, they could be a cute addition to a doll bedroom, although you could easily make one on your own.

Doll Photo ShootThe kite is the prop shown on the cover. It’s okay – there’s nothing wrong with it – although it does seem a bit odd of a choice for AG to include. Of all of the things they could have decided on, they went with a kite?! I haven’t popped it out yet and attached string, but you can be sure that come next spring, the DM models will be flying kites :)

Doll Photo ShootThese punch out shapes and flowers are underwhelming, no doubt. I am sure we will find a good use for them, but it’s going to take some creativity on our part! Again, if anything, they seem to show that there was little enthusiasm put into this set.

Doll Photo ShootI wish I had something even slightly positive to say about these cards, but it’s truly a case of “what in the world was AG thinking?!” Do we actually need cards made out of card stock saying to attach the photo to the front? I’m thinking no.

Doll Photo ShootFinally, one of the better parts are the three large poster backgrounds. They are a great size for the dolls to stand in front of, and I like the places {Paris, Australia, and the beach} they included! While there are visible creases from being folded into the set, I don’t mind; picky photographers may find fault in that.

Doll Photo ShootDoll Photo ShootDoll Photo ShootAnd, of course, Bri must finish this post off with a pose in Paris!

Overall, Doll Photo Shoot may be a hit or a miss depending on your expectations. The props are nothing special as they all could easily be made at home, but it’s with the book and backgrounds where this set really shines. Whether or not it’s the set for you I think depends on your photography experience and creativity level. I can’t give it my full recommendation, but I do suggest checking it out if you’re ever in the AG store to see what you think.

Have a wonderful night!

Bella

The Book Nook / February 2014

Hi!

The Book Nook Feb 2014

Back in December, we posted our first ever book review by our contributor, Lydia, and we couldn’t wait to publish her newest review! This time around, Lydia read the 2004 Girl of the Year book, Marisol, by Gary Soto, and Bella and I both think she did an excellent job!

Marisol Book Summary: Marisol Luna is a lively 10-year-old girl who was born to dance. She’s a fourth-grader who lives with her loving parents in a busy and largely Hispanic neighborhood in the heart of Chicago. Marisol goes to school, where she is a Two-Square champion, takes care of her cat, plays with the kids in her neighborhood, and takes dance lessons. Ballet folklorico (Mexican folk dance) is her favorite type of dance – and where she really shines – but she’s been exposed to some jazz and a little tap. She’s also taking ballet, but she’s new to it and a little impatient with its rigors.

Her attitude towards ballet changes only slightly when she meets a wonderful new neighbor. Miss Mendoza is a former Rockette who gently reminds Marisol that ballet is worth working hard at, because it’s the basis for all serious dance. The upsetting news that her family is moving out to the suburbs is made worse when Marisol learns that the dance studio in her new neighborhood has closed. No tap, no ballet folklorico, not even ballet. She may have to take karate lessons! Instead, with the help of new friends, resourceful Marisol finds a way to keep dancing.

My Thoughts: This was an okay book, and it wasn’t a waste of time to read, but it wasn’t one of American Girl’s best either. Marisol was a good character and she almost made me want to try Mexican folk dance! She was also half-Hispanic (I think ;)) which I liked; it was very unique and a good change from what AG had been doing recently.  I also liked the other characters in the book, like Miss Mendoza. I thought she was sweet, loving and a great character. Her mom was okay, but she could have been a tinsy bit more loving. Si? Overall, this was a good book, a little bit boring, but it is still worth picking up.

We hope you enjoyed reading Lydia’s latest review, and we can’t wait to publish some more later in the year! We would love to know what you think of the Marisol book. Comment below, or you can e-mail us at dollmagblog[at]gmail[dot]com.

We Got The Campus Snack Cart!

Hi!

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Christmas was a couple of weeks ago, but since then, we have had lots of fun with the Campus Snack Cart! I had been wanting it for a while, but it was a little pricey, so I was super excited and happy to finally receive it as a present! :) Below are my thoughts and short descriptions of all of the items included… in case you need some convincing to get it yourself!

F O O D

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  • Ice Cream Cones / These are adorable! I love the simplicity of them, but I also like the details of the cone and sprinkles. They fit in the doll’s hand easily so they can carry them around, but the scaling is off. Only one ice cream cone could possibly fit in the ice cream cone box, not the four the cart comes with.

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  • Ice Cream Sandwiches / These are also cute, and I really like the texture with the dots on top and the bumps in the sides to make them seem more realistic, but it wasn’t like they were my favorite items.

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  • Smoothies / I have to say that I love most of American Girl’s drinks, and I usually can’t resist an accessory set with a pair of cute lemonades or punch. The two smoothies that come with this set are also really great! I have seen some better versions of doll sized smoothies before, but the logo and bright colors are still fun.

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  • French Fries / The french fries are a bit oddly scaled, but I still think they’re adorable! The coloring is a bit odd, although the shape and textures are really cute. Even better, they come in little red buckets with napkins to make it seem even more realistic.

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  • Hot Dogs / During the summer, AG had the Doll Parties set on sale, so we got it, and it came with four hot dogs with mustard on them. This set came with two hot dogs with mustard on them, so now we have a growing amount :) They’re very cute, but I wish that one hot dog had ketchup and one had mustard because the set comes with a mustard and a ketchup bottle.

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  • Corn on the Cob / These are so fun! Although they weren’t my favorite of all the foods, I do have to say that they have amazing detail on the corn kernels.

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  • Fruit Kabobs / I LOVE these! They’re a bit small, but the fruit is realistic and colorful. They fit really well in the little paper trays, so the scaling for that was well done. The fruit kabobs could also work for a doll’s school lunch or a picnic, so I can’t wait to use them more.

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  • Accessories / The food accessories consist of a basic ice cream scooper, a pair of tongs, mustard and ketchup bottles, a hot dog cooker, an ice cream cone box, and paper trays. The scooper and tongs are cute, but the thing that really stood out was the hot dog cooker. It lights up, and spins! I also like the ketchup and mustard bottles because they’re probably just what you’d see at a snack cart in real life. The ice cream cone box is cute, but kind of small, since as I said above, only one ice cream cone could really fit in it. The paper trays aren’t that bad in size, but I do wish they were a little bigger and sturdier.

O V E R A L L   C A R T

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  • Canopy / The canopy is really cute! It’s colors match the cart and hand towel, but I think that the striped pattern was a bit contrasting, and that a solid color would have been a better choice. You can take the canopy off the cart, so the cart can also act as a kitchen island.

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  • Microwave/Refrigerator / The refrigerator is basically just a drawer, but it can hold a lot, and you can open and close it easily. The microwave though is really fun, and you can turn the dials and open it up, but the door on ours keeps getting stuck so it can be hard to open.
  • Sink / On the counter of the cart, there’s a cute sink that you can pretend to turn on and off which I think really adds to the set, but it does limit the counter space.

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  • Menu / On one side of the cart there’s an adorable little menu that lists all of the food, but not the prices which I thought made it seem much less realistic.

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  • Towel Bar / There’s a small towel bar you can use to hold the apron and dish towel, but if you pull on it too hard, it can come off. (If this happens though, it’s super easy to push it back on.)

E X T R A

  • Apron / I was pretty happy to see that the Campus Snack Cart comes with a basic pink apron, which we’ll be able to use a lot in the future. It was also a plus to see that American Girl didn’t put the Innerstar University logo on it.

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  • Dish Towel / Not too much to talk about here, but the set does come with a dish towel in one of AG’s signature patterns (the weird four-petaled flower thing) that matches the pattern on the cart.

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  • Money / We have a growing collection of doll money, but we didn’t have any coins (except for the dime that Julie’s meet outfit accessories came with…but I have no idea where that went…) so I was excited to see that you got a whole pack of them! The only problem with them is that they could easily be lost.

Overall, I LOVE this set, and I’m sure it will bring hours of fun :)

Lulu

Credits / Written by Lulu; photos and edited by Bella; modeled by Sally!

The Book Nook / December 2013

Hi!

BookNookWe are very delighted to announce one of the newest members to the Doll Mag team today! Lydia, a Doll Mag fan, is now our Site Book Reviewer, and she will be popping in from time to time to review books {most of the time they will be American Girl ones}. Of course, her posts need a catchy name, thus we have decided to call Lydia’s reviews “The Book Nook.” :) For her first review, Lydia decided to read Felicity’s Surprise by Valerie Tripp. Lulu and I personally think that this is the perfect holiday read – hopefully you do too! 

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Summary: Felicity is invited to a dancing lesson at the Governor’s Palace, the most wonderful honor she can imagine! Mother promises to make a beautiful new gown for her for the dance. As the splendid event draws near, however, Mother becomes dreadfully ill. Felicity spends all her days caring for her, sadly accepting that there will be no new gown and no chance to go to the Palace. No chance, that is, until a grand surprise reminds her that Christmas is a time when hopes and dreams do come true.

My Review: Just like all the American Girl Christmas stories, this is a really good book. Felicity was actually interested in a gown this time! I think Felicity is a better character this time than in the first book. Elizabeth was really sweet, like always. Felicity was really nice skipping the palace ball dance lesson to take care of her mother. William and Nan were kind of the cutest things ever! Overall, this was a great novel and I give this book five stars out of five.

We can’t wait to hear more of Lydia’s reviews in the new year! Lulu and I will also spend some time introducing a few other people who have joined the Doll Mag staff. It’s an exciting time, friends!