More of The Gibson Girl

New header and more pictures of Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor – which will be primarily used as Disneyland’s Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor for me.

IceCreamParlor06

Looks good enough to eat!

I’m already seeing some interesting things happen as I try to photograph it. The picture above was taken just as the sun was starting to rise (for some reason, I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep), so especially with the Main Street backdrop in the mirror’s reflection looking darker, it gives it the appearance that the store has just been readied for the first customers of the day. Ice cream is a perfectly acceptable breakfast in my book… ;)

IceCreamParlor07

From 1812 to 1904

For some reason, Caroline’s never clicked with me as a 1812 girl (or even as a modern girl, really), but I absolutely LOVE her as a 1904 girl. I think her ringlets really give her that Edwardian charm. And I especially love her in Samantha’s Middy Dress. I think she wears it best out of everyone in my collection.

IceCreamParlor05

Enjoy!

In my lifetime, The Gibson Girl has gone through… I think two renovations at Disneyland (I don’t think I’ve actually been back there since they re-opened it), but the one that always stands out in my mind is its previous appearance, complete with giant glass elephant. I might make my backdrops try to reflect that version. Too bad I don’t have room for a mini glass elephant statue…

IceCreamParlor09

Bon appetit!

This set could also act like a Farrell’s. I’d never been to one until a couple of months ago. That place is so much FUN! Really, really, REALLY loud… but a lot of fun. Never go there with a headache.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling out of me for now. If I’ve convinced you to get Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor set as well – first, I apologize, and second, make sure you use the $10 off $100 coupon code 180323 (good until October 15th!).

JenniferSig

The (Mini) Gibson Girl

WELL…

I did the thing.

Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor | American Girl

IceCreamParlor01

Tyson’s Ice Cream Parlor… a.k.a. The (Mini) Gibson Girl

I’ve only ever had room for one large AG set, and for me, it doesn’t get more perfect that this ice cream parlor. As you might’ve guessed from my previous post, I’m treating mine more like a miniature version of Disneyland’s Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor than Samantha’s Tyson’s – which means at some point I should probably make a proper cast member uniform for whoever’s manning the store… But, for now, Caroline and her middy dress work pretty well.

IceCreamParlor03

Parlor Pieces (minus the cash register and one green scoop of ice cream)

Oh man, I can’t even begin to express how much I love this thing. The parlor is mostly made of wood, so you get that wonderful “new furniture smell” right as you open it (or rather, unearth it from the largest shipping box I think I’ve ever seen). Each of the pieces are so detailed and beautifully made. I love that the scoop and spoons are actually made of metal and that the dishes are ceramic instead of plastic. The cash register (not pictured) has “working” keys and a crank to open the drawer – but it takes up more counter space than I’m willing to give it.

IceCreamParlor02

What can I get for you?

I like how much thought they put into each of these pieces, too. The glasses can be separated from their metal bottoms, the candy topping is one molded piece (so you’re not chasing 500 tiny balls around the floor), and the light automatically turns off after a few minutes, so you don’t accidentally forget to turn it off (…which I would probably do).

IceCreamParlor04

Coming right up!

I really can’t think of anything I don’t love about this set. …Well, maybe the price tag – but I know I certainly couldn’t make one this amazing for less. And it’s just the right size for my small place. Caroline’s parlor would’ve been waaaaaay too big. And lacking in ice cream. Which is important.

Now I just need to work on more accurate backdrops (so it looks like the mirror is looking out onto Main Street from inside a building…).

JenniferSig

The Return of 1904

We made it! The wait is over and BeForever is here!

The Good FREAKING AWESOME!

Three words: ICE. CREAM. PARLOR.

TysonsIceCreamParlor

“Have you ever seen anything so wonderful in your entire life!?” – Ariel, the OG hoarder of neat things

The first time I saw this set, my inner ten year old absolutely lost her shit. Like, I’ve been impressed by some of the other big ticket AG items, like Caroline’s parlor, but this way surpasses everything else for me. I think I love it so much because it reminds me a LOT of the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor at Disneyland.

GibsonGirlDLP

The Gibson Girl in Disneyland Paris might be the closest to Samantha’s – lots of gold, white, pink, and marble!

…I’ve noticed that anything I really, really love can usually be traced back to something related to Disney. Oh well.

I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of AG collectors are smitten with the ice cream parlor. I do think it might’ve been nicer had they offered a separate set of ice cream treats (different from the parlor’s) so that if you couldn’t afford the parlor (price or space-wise), you could at least still have the option to partake in the desserts.

 

The Bad

I don’t know whether to call this “bad” or “sad”… A lot of people have noticed some not-so-long lost Marie-Grace and Cecile collection items being re-purposed into different time periods. MG’s parasol is now part of Samantha’s collection, and MG and C’s banquet table…

MGTable

has been turned into…
CarolineTable

Caroline’s impromptu table and treats because nevermind the war, let’s par-tay.


Admittedly, I haven’t read Caroline’s stories yet, but from what I know of them, it seems like a lot of crazy stuff is going down (like, say, the WAR of 1812), so is it really the time for feasting? Like, “Yes, Papa is in danger, but these tarts are perilously close to getting stale!” Maybe not so much. I’m not sure if the table covering was made to be more historically accurate or not, but it doesn’t look like as much thought was put into its design compared to the original. Then again, neither do the mismatched dishes, so… yeah… Anyway! Still not as much of a problem as -

 

The Ugly

I’m sorry… I’ve looked at it and looked at it, and I can’t find anything I really like about this coat – even if it does remind me of something Disney-related…

UglyCoat

“I don’t care how you kill the little beasts, just do it and do it now!”

I can’t unsee the Cruella. I knew they’d never re-release her old cape, but man, was it pretty! Maybe it would’ve been too much plaid in combination with Samantha’s new Christmas dress, but a deeper red or a rich green or navy? I’m also curious how many moms saw this coat and thought “That’ll be dirty in 5 minutes…”

New Samantha

I think Samantha’s really cute – they’ve done a really great job reintroducing her, while making her stand out from her previous versions… but now that she is out and the internets are filled with pictures and videos of her, I’ve made a rather surprising discovery. I think I may have liked her for her clothes haha… Her new meet dress has grown on me, but I really did like her original meet outfit. Like with Ruthie, I think she’s really cute, but I feel like I’d rather wait for another doll that I’d want more instead of adding her to my collection. So, for now, Caroline’s my 1904 stand in. I don’t know what it is, but I really like her in that time period!

CarolineSam

Something about Caroline and nautical stuff… ;)

It’ll be interesting to see what’s released next in the world of BeForever. And in the meantime, I’m hoping for more leaks… hehehe…

JenniferSig

Pretty in Pink

Today’s post is going to be very pink. Consider yourself warned haha…

I didn’t expect this ballet dress to become such a favorite, but it really has! It looks great on Isabelle (big surprise considering it’s from her collection). Next, I’ll have to see how it looks on Kanani…

IzzyDress

Izzy in Pink

If you’re looking at this and thinking, “Okay, okay, it is really pretty. Maybe I’ll get it, too,” now is the time! We’re in the final countdown to the mysterious BeForever launch, and AmericanGirl.com is preparing by offering free shipping on any purchase of $50 or more (ends 8/18). They’ve marked down a bunch of sale items as well.

Speaking of the advent of BeForever, rumors are going around that there will be unannounced discontinuations of historical collection items.

Lilly Maiden has an extensive list at her blog: http://lissieandlilly.blogspot.com/2014/08/soon-to-be-gone-with-beforever.html  If you’re considering any of these, your safest bet is to purchase them before 8/28.

The more I learn about BeForever, the more I’m not entirely sure I like the changes I see. To me, it boils down to American Girl trying to appeal to the target audience by making “historical lite” dolls. Their outfits are supposedly historically accurate, but they no longer look like pieces that are very representative of that time. Instead, it feels like they’ve tried to find the rare outfits that look similar to pieces we still see today.

Take Samantha’s new look…

“New” Samantha

This looks like something I wore as a kid in the ’80’s or ’90’s… And that’s the point. If it’s an outfit that doesn’t look too different from those of today, American Girl believes kids will be more apt to choose a historical girl. I can see doing this for the outfits they arrive in, but I hope all  of their collections won’t be this way. I’ve always loved the fact that the historical collections have tiny recreations of real items from the past. And after missing out on Samantha’s items the first time around, I’ve been hoping they’d bring back a lot of the items I drooled over as a kid (even if they didn’t look exactly the same).

I guess we’ll know soon enough! Just over a week left!

JenniferSig

Okie dokie, Tokidoki

Oh, Tokidoki… you’re just too darn adorable! I love you so! First, you introduced me to the lovely sugar-energy-loving alien, Donutella…

DonutellaThe Sweet Donutella

…and then, you gave her a unicorn(o) friend…

DolceLgThe Aptly-Named Dolce

…and then you created not just ONE herd of unicornos, but THREE series (and counting) of them! AND I CAN’T HELP BUT LOVE THEM ALL!

Here are a few of my favorites from the ever-growing collection of unicornos that keep following me home…

Unicorno1L-R: Sunny Day, Bellina, Stellina (Not Pictured: Peperino)

Unicorno2L-R: Sakura, Dolce, Lolopessa

I think the above three are my absolute favorites. Dolce was one of the first I ever pulled, Sakura was a lucky pull from the bookstore at work, and Lolopessa was a super-lucky pull from this year’s Comic Con. I did have a Mooka at one point (my sister fell in love with her haha), and I had two Ritmos – neither of which I really liked. I’d still like to add Kaili, Timber, Pixie, and Scooter to my collection… Thank goodness they don’t take up much room… ;)

BellinaLgWhoosh!JenniferSig

Mini Ruthie and Isabelle’s Sparkle Dress

Mini Ruthie, Isabelle’s Sparkle Dress | American Girl

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it! A lot has happened since my last post – the best of which is that I started a new job that allows me to use my art, media, writing and community skills in an academic setting. I love it!

…And speaking of things I love, I’m really happy with the latest additions to my American Girl collection.

KananiRuthieMini Ruthie!

I can’t tell you how many times I debated whether or not to get Ruthie – especially when it was announced that she’d be heading to the archives soon. She was one of the dolls I considered when I visited AGPLA, but even in person, I wasn’t entirely sold on her – and it’s hard to justify AG prices for something you’re not absolutely in love with (for me, anyway). Luckily, not long ago, the Ruthie mini doll went on sale for $10 (down from the usual $24), so I made sure to grab one before they sold out!

I think she’s one of the cutest mini dolls AG has made. (And unfortunately, I’d say the Marie-Grace mini doll is one of the worst… That face! They could’ve done so much better…) It’s too bad they couldn’t have made Ruthie’s dress with a slightly smaller print… It looks a bit awkward on her. I am glad they secured her headband to her hair – it’s nice not having to worry about it slipping off when she falls over as I try to photograph her haha…

KananiReadCoffee and a good book – a perfect combination!

I really love the mini books that come with the dolls, too. Why can’t AG sell them on their own!? I’d make a tiny library in a heartbeat! It’ll be interesting to see if the new BeForever versions even come with books.

MGpinkballet2Radiant in Rose

My other recent purchase – Isabelle’s Sparkle Dress. I know when AG announced this dress, a lot of people groaned. I get that it’s pink and sparkles and ballet, and as formulaic as it gets, but it’s SO PRETTY in person! It really looks amazing on Marie-Grace (which makes sense given that her meet dress is a similar deep pink). It kind of reminds me of Aurora’s pink dress (which is also probably why I love it so much).

MGpinkballet2Dress, Bracelet, and Ballet Slippers (Not Pictured: Hair Ornament)

The sequin fabric is nice – it doesn’t snag anything else, and the skirt has four layers, which gives it just the right amount of volume. The bracelet’s a little cheesy, and the slippers could’ve been made to fit a little higher (they almost look too small), but they’re nice, simple touches. I didn’t use the hair ornament (mostly because I couldn’t find a way to make it look good with MG’s ponytail), but it’s nicely made.

There are a few other things I’d like to get, but I’m holding out to see what BeForever brings. I’m really curious about what outfits they’ll release for Samantha’s return. I’m not really impressed with her new meet dress or the “Cruella De Vil” winter coat, but who knows what else they’ve got in store for her. I’m not a huge fan of the 1970’s, but some of Julie’s new outfits look pretty cute, too. Not long to wait now! Just a few more weeks!JenniferSig

Gold and Grace

If you’re a fan of the American Girl dolls, you’ve probably heard by now that Marie-Grace is one of the dolls being discontinue- er… “archived” this year (along with Cecile, Ruthie, and Ivy – who is the only Asian American historical doll at the moment). Not only is it a shame for AG to retire these dolls when they’ve only been out for a few years (MG and Cecile were introduced only three years ago!), but there’s also the potential that MG might remain the only doll to ever use this beautiful face mold.

I admit, Marie-Grace can be a bit tricky to photograph. From the wrong angle, her chin appears much sharper than it really is and some pieces of clothing can make her shoulders look too broad or her face too long. Even her original hairstyle seems to accentuate her heart-shaped face in ways that can sometimes be off-putting. Heck, when I first saw her in official pictures, I thought she looked derpy! In fact, I remember my mom and I talking about how she was one doll we would have no trouble resisting… It’s amazing just how many people were uninterested after seeing her stock photos, but then fell in love with her in-person (my mom and I included).

With the right hairstyle (sans massive pin curls) and clothes, she’s such a gorgeous doll!

MGBalletGraceful MG

She looks especially fantastic in neutral and metallic tones. To be honest, I think I like Isabelle’s leotard and tutu better on MG than on Isabelle! With her sleek high ponytail and gold accessories, here MG reminds me a little of the ballerinas from the finale number in White Christmas. (I love those costumes so much!) The gold really seems to bring out her blue eyes, too. Her poodle necklace is actually from Magic Attic Club, from Heather’s ’50’s outfit, but it seems to go well with anything MG wears, so it’s kind of become her necklace.

I’m looking forward to the new items being released this summer and the advent of “BeForever” (the re-branding of American Girl’s historical line), but it’s still kind of sad to see MG being discontinued. She’s quickly become a favorite among collectors, and she’s probably my favorite among my AG dolls – I really do hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her or her face mold.JenniferSig

Kanani – Girl of the Year 2011

Kanani Akina, Girl of the Year 2011 | American Girl

Kanani could’ve very easily been my first American Girl doll… if I hadn’t been saving up for something much, much more important at the time – my wedding! But… three years later…

KananiSet

She’s MINE!

I finally bit the bullet and bought Kanani. She’s even prettier in person!

Kanani is my first “Jess mold” doll (first created for Japanese/Scottish-Irish 2006 Girl of the Year Jess McConnell). Although the mold is known for issues with uneven eyes, my Kanani’s eyes are perfect!

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Kanani, fresh from her box

Her “meet” outfit is really sweet! Her sky blue dress goes well with her hair and skin tone, and it also has some hidden sequins scattered throughout. Her beaded necklace and hair flower are a nice touch, too. Her sandals aren’t too amazing… in fact, they’re pretty loose. I can see why she came with clear bands attaching them to her feet.

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Marie-Grace Gardner and Kanani Akina

Kanani’s wig is VERY long and silky – maybe a little longer than Marie-Grace’s – but definitely thinner (which probably helps keep her from falling over). I kept her hair down for awhile, but finally decided to put it into braids, which she still looks very cute in. Her skin tone is slightly darker and redder compared to MG’s more yellow tones, and her hair is slightly lighter than MG’s, but has more red to it. Kanani’s hazel eyes also seem like a unique shade. They’re darker and less green than Isabelle’s.

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Aloha, Kanani – the book introducing Kanani

Her introductory story, Aloha, Kanani, is surprisingly good! After reading Isabelle’s, I honestly didn’t have high expectations for Kanani’s. (And yes, I realize I’m not the target audience, but c’mon, really? “Wah, I’m attending an exclusive performing arts academy, but I worry I’m not good enough!” Exactly how many kids can relate? I know with my watch-PBS-and-try-to-imitate-the-ballerinas method of “learning” ballet as a kid, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to. Anyway!)

Aside from the GORGEOUS pictures by Sarah Davis, there are so many elements of Kanani’s book that I love. The theme of “family” is especially relatable for me. The Hawaiian culture is similar to Maltese in that family is number one – and not everyone has to be blood-related to be family. I love the conversations between Kanani and her “aunts” (they remind me a lot of my own aunts), and that she easily falls into the role of host when visitors arrive (that’s usually my role, too). I also really like that her parents aren’t just magically wealthy – you can tell that it’s taken a lot of hard work to keep and build their family business. In short, I liked the first book so much, I got the second one.

I’m really happy I was able to add Kanani to my collection. She’s a fantastic doll based on a relatable, fun character. I hope American Girl will continue to make more characters like Kanani – she’s definitely one of my favorites. ♥

JenniferSig

Painted, Wooden Worldly Treasures

FAVORITE FINDS: OBJECTS

Dala Horses and Treasure Box |  from Sweden and El Salvador

 

The vast majority of my miniatures are typically doll or video game related, but not all of them. Three of my favorite small objects are painted, wooden pieces that originally came from Sweden and El Salvador.

wooden01Dala Horses

 

These are “Dala” Horses. Although I’m not Swedish (I am part Danish, though, so still within that Scandinavian vein), I absolutely love these horses. Each one is handmade, so no two are exactly alike; and the process to make them is painstaking. Once each pine horse is carved to shape, they’re dipped in primer. Any unsightly spots are filled in, and then it’s time to dip them in their base color. My favorite are the red horses (which are also the most common, I think), but you can find them in royal blues, blacks, white, yellow, and sometimes pink and baby blue. Finally, they’re finished off with beautiful, swirling designs, painted by master “ripple painters”.

These two were given to me by my mom-in-law for Christmas a few years ago. They’re originally from the Nils Olsson workshop (Nils Olssons Hemslöjd) in Nusnäs, Sweden. They’re so bright and beautiful – if given the chance, I’d have a little herd of them!

 

When Tangled first came out, and I saw the artwork in Rapunzel’s bedroom, I was reminded of this next mini treasure.

wooden02Cheerful reds, pinks, and purples make up this little bird and his leafy perch.

This small wooden treasure box is from El Salvador. My sister gave it to me years ago for my birthday. I don’t use it to store things very often (I did have a few favorite Barbie items in it for awhile), but I always have it on display somewhere in my bedroom. The box is made of such pretty, light wood, and is really nicely made. The lid is attached to the base with two small pieces of leather and metal tacks. The painting is my favorite part, though. I love the combination of colors and shapes, and the little birds on the side and lid are so sweet.

wooden03Detail of the box lid

JenniferSigI think the thing I love most about all three of these pieces is the attention to detail. The talent of these artists really shows. ♥

Husband Time: Highwind & Fahrenheit

HUSBAND TIME: MINIATURES

When Jennifer started this blog out, she told me I’d eventually have to write a “guest post,” and it seems that time has come. She asked which piece of my rather extensive collection of miniatures I’d like to write about, and I basically pointed at the closest object at the time. I like to keep it simple.

Point is, as long as Jennifer remains “mad” about these American Girl dolls, it’s fully possible that this isn’t the last time I’ll be asked to do this… So you may as well get used to me. Hi, I’m Scott. Jennifer’s husband.

As far as my collection of miniatures goes, it’s about as far away from American Girl as it gets, as I collect mostly figures and collectibles from video games, with a strong focus on a particular series called “Final Fantasy.” Jennifer and I like Final Fantasy so much, we met dressed as two of its characters, and last year, I even went to work for the Japanese company that makes it, Square Enix. How’s that for dedication. In fact, it’s kind of hard to write “Final Fantasy” now, because officially, it’s FINAL FANTASY. We’re big fans of capital letters at Square. But this is a blog about dolls, so I’m gonna stay casual.

So let me get the quick introduction to this video game out of the way for those who for some reason are still reading but haven’t held a controller in their hands since Mario. The name Final Fantasy is a bit ironic, in that there are actually 14 games in what we’ll call the “main line,” and that doesn’t count all the side stories and spin-offs that have resulted from its success. Like, imagine Star Wars if it didn’t have those 20 year breaks between trilogies. Despite there being so many, each game is set in its own unique world, with its own cast of heroes that you the player must gather together to face the kind of villains who more often than not just want to watch the world burn. And within those stories of heroism, tragedy, and explorations of what it is to be human in times of crisis, we find the common threads that bind each game together. Shared themes, elements, monsters, what have you… Even though each story is different, there’s always something that tells you definitively, this is a Final Fantasy game.

Oh man this is getting wordy. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS when you get me talkin’ about Final Fantasy.

One such string that binds the series together is the “airship.” Part boat, part airplane, the “airship” appeared in the first Final Fantasy back in 1987 and has been in every main line game since. Here, the airship is a representation of freedom. The narrative and the actual mechanical function within the game go hand-in hand; in the game they are the only means to traverse the entire game world with ease, free of being interrupted by pesky monsters. In the narrative, they represent something bigger – often the freedom to choose your own path, the ability to go where you please, and ride the wind where it takes you. Nearly every Final Fantasy has a scene where an airship darts through the clouds, soaring through the lens flare in a beautiful blue sky. The even have their own musical themes. They’re a big deal.

 

FINAL FANTASY X MECHANICAL ARTS “FAHRENHEIT”

Scott03Not a Toyota

This beast is the “Fahrenheit” from Final Fantasy X. I recently attended an art show event with the Art Director of the game, Yusuke Naora, and you want to know where he got the inspiration for that crazy color scheme? The Los Angeles Lakers. That blew my mind. The Fahrenheit’s big moment in the game is this scene where the protagonist and his crew fly over an altar where the heroine is being forced to marry the main bad guy. The airship shoots these giant chain links onto the ground and the heroes literally surf down the chains, jumping between them while dodging gun fire from the ground below. It’s a pretty sweet scene.

 

Scott04

There’s also a battle with a dragon that takes place on the bridge, that little black area on the right.

Airship number two, below, is the Highwind, from Final Fantasy VII. One more really weird connection in Final Fantasy? The airship is almost always owned, piloted, or invented by a dude named Cid. In Final Fantasy X, Cid is a gruff, bald Texan, basically. In Final Fantasy VII, Cid is a gruff, spear-wielding, former astronaut. I can’t make this stuff up, dudes.

FINAL FANTASY VII MECHANICAL ARTS “HIGHWIND” |

Scott02The lady painted on the side is Cid’s “Lady Luck.”

From the best-selling Final Fantasy game of all time, this airship comes from a distinctly futuristic setting, as you’ll no doubt compare the two ships and find that this one has a lot less whimsy in its design. Sleek and metallic, Cid can even call it into battle with his final “Limit Break,” making it rain down missiles upon bad guys. I’ll let you look up for yourself it’s maximum occupancy, max speed knots, engine specs…. It’s all out there.

Scott01Here’s a closer look.

So those are two really sweet airships from a video game series you weren’t expecting to read about on a blog that has talked mostly dolls. You can blame Jennifer, though. I don’t know what I’m doing here, really. But she asked, and thus, she received.

-Scott (Because only Jennifer gets a crazy digital signature)