2017 MINI MAD Recap [Photo Heavy!]

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful year and that 2018 brings you joy, health, and prosperity!

This was definitely an unusual year for me! With all of the changes happening to the American Girl doll line, I added way more dolls to my collection than I ever anticipated! And now at the end of the year, with even more cost-cutting changes in quality coming to light, I am SO glad that I did. I think from now on I’ll likely be adding more clothes and accessories, but probably not dolls.

So before the year is out, here’s a quick look at everyone who joined my collection this year!

J A N U A R Y

Noelle Kealoha joined my doll crew! I was so happy to get Truly Me #62 from my parents for my birthday this year! She’s even more GORGEOUS in person!

Noelle with cupcake

F E B R U A R Y

I was finally able to add Cécile Rey to my collection! It was a bit of an adventure, too! She barely missed being delivered in a heavy rainstorm and her eyebrows were off, so she needed a little (nerve-wracking) paint touch up. I’m so glad I have her!

Cécile Rey

Not long after, word of “permapanties,” new body fabric, and squishy vinyl spread. Hoping to get an “older-style” doll without some of these issues for one more custom, I used a gift card I’d been saving to get a Rebecca.

M A R C H

Rebecca got a new wig and became Talia Leighton. She also makes a pretty good double for Rapunzel… 😉 (Honestly, I kinda wish I had just kept her hair in these braids and flowers even after Easter. She looked so cute in them!)

Talia looking Rapunzel-ish!

A P R I L

My mom and I went to check out a nearby Toys ‘R’ Us that had begun selling Truly Me dolls and accessories – just to take a look. Then we found out that most of these dolls were older stock with neck strings and old body fabric, and we decided if there was anyone else we wanted to add, now was the time to do it. That led to…

M A Y

…getting a Truly Me #64 as an early 5th wedding anniversary present from my husband and turning her into a custom I’ve been wanting to make since I first learned customization was even possible – Yuna (Uematsu), based on Yuna from FINAL FANTASY X!

Yuna Almasy with tonberry and cactuar

Truly Me #64 was so cute as is, I ended up getting a second one, but she didn’t get customized until a little later…

J U N E

I took Yuna with me to the American Girl store (which I was extremely nervous about doing), but the employees loved her! I was able to get her ears pierced, too, which I didn’t think would be possible since I customized her.

J U L Y

My second Truly Me #64 finally got her new wig and became Anne Mizukawa (though I didn’t finalize her story and introduce her here until September).

Anne Mizukawa

A U G U S T

The Create Your Own line was finally introduced! As part two of my anniversary present, I got to order a mini me that I hoped would be even closer than I had been able to create with Arista.

S E P T E M B E R

The wait was over! My mini-me arrived and she was pretty close to how I pictured she’d be! She had slightly off eyebrows, so I tweaked them with paint just as I’d done with Cécile’s. She has some slight imperfections, but overall I’m really happy with how she turned out. I named her Mia Heatherly.

Mia in the Celebration Dress

O C T O B E R

I started planning my next Create Your Own doll. I wanted to make an American Girl version of the first 18″ doll I’d had, Megan Ryder from the Magic Attic Club series.

N O V E M B E R

I decided to order Megan early to both beat the holiday rush and try to take advantage of a 20% off deal.

D E C E M B E R

Unfortunately, this second Create Your Own doll didn’t turn out as nicely as the first. Her eye sockets were two noticeably different sizes, her eyes pointed in opposite directions, and her vinyl was an almost orange color. I attempted to move her eyes into position, but they reverted to their wonky formation. I tried to see if I could send her to the Doll Hospital for a new head, but that wasn’t possible. So, I took the customer service rep’s advice and returned her.

Instead of re-ordering, I went on eBay and found a doll I’d been wanting to add for years – who finally had come down in price – Mia St.Claire, who will be my Megan Ryder.

Mia as Megan

And not really a doll addition, but more of a re-configuring – Sienna finally got a wig that suited her, but she looked so different, she needed a new name and backstory. She became Emma Petersen. I’m still working on her backstory, though.

New classic sweater 

Whew! I think that’s everyone!

So, as you can imagine, one of my first goals for next year is to update my About section with all of these new additions (I think I got up to Talia). And, like I said, because I added way more than I expected, I don’t think I’ll be adding any more dolls anytime soon – which might not be such a bad thing if the changes in quality continue as they have been. I’m very happy to have the dolls I do have, and I think next year I’m going to work on fleshing out all of their backstories.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a safe and fun start to the new year! See you in 2018!
JenniferSig

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Truly Me Celebration Dress

Truly Me Celebration Dress | American Girl

When images of the Celebration Dress first appeared, my initial thought was, “GEE, THAT LOOKS KINDA FAMILIAR, AG *COUGH COUGH*.” …But then my second thought was, “Add to wish list. *click*”

(To be honest, I’m not exactly sure where I put the bodice I was working on two years ago – not to mention the tulle for the skirt…)

But anyway, back to the Celebration Dress! It’s definitely much nicer in person than it appears in stock photos. Online, the “belt” portion looked like it was made from long silver sequins, so I was very excited to find they were actually rhinestones!

Mia in the Celebration Dress

A ballerina-ish celebration princess

The gold and rhinestone tiara is a little tight, but I really like it. I’m happy it’s a headband instead of another tiara/comb combination (I never seem to get those to sit properly). The shoes are super cute – sparkly gold flats with cream-colored elastic ribbon loops that end with little bows at the back. I can see these getting a lot of use. The little pearl bracelet is nice addition, too.

The dress itself is part princess, part ballerina, and a hint of bridal. It reminds me of The Most Amazing Dress in the Universe (TM), a.k.a. the Elie Saab dress that I love so much:

Elie Saab dress

Even the shoes are kinda similar!

But it does have a couple of areas I think could have been executed a little better…

The bodice has a somewhat strange silhouette. It’s not really straight across, it’s not really scalloped… it’s slightly-scalloped? I think it would’ve looked nicer with a more intentional line – straight, scalloped, or otherwise.

The bodice is also pretty snug. I’ve only tried it on my Create Your Own doll so far, but it took a little effort to close the Velcro completely. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see some pulling just under her arms.

Mia in the Celebration Dress

So regal, it hurts

But finicky bodice aside, this dress is absolutely gorgeous and I think it’s one of AG’s better celebration/holiday dresses in recent years.

I think Mia’s pretty much claimed this dress – which is particularly fitting, because as my mini me, her birthday is in just under a week, too! She can celebrate by being a ballerina-ish birthday princess! XD

Mia and Noelle dance

Dancing in the New Year

Mia and Noelle are ready to ring in the new year! I can’t believe tomorrow is New Year’s Eve! This year went by fast! Are you and your dolls ready?
JenniferSig

Nanea’s School Outfit

Nanea’s School Outfit | American Girl

I have been drooling over Nanea’s School Outfit since it was first shown. I love the colors, I love the pattern, I love the shoes, I LOVE IT ALL! So you can imagine how excited I was to open it on Christmas Eve!

And Noelle was just as excited to be the first to try it on!

Noelle in Nanea's School Dress

Winter, shminter! I’m ready for some sun!

I really think this is my favorite of all of Nanea’s outfits. The flower print is a mix of teals and peachy pinks, and it really looks nice against Noelle’s medium-toned skin. The dress is made of cotton, but it’s not too thin. It has a bit of stiffness to it, so it can kind of hold it’s shape. The top is gathered nicely and the sleeves and skirt have just the right amount of gathering.

Close up of Noelle in Nanea's dress

Close up of the gathered top

The pattern on the shoes is so different from the organic print of the dress, it’s kind of surprising how well the two go together! From far away, the shoes almost look like they’re woven instead of fabric. I got lazy with the shoe ties and made lower bows than the ones in the stock photos. They still look pretty cute, though!

The remembrance “pin” is nicely made. I’m glad it’s not an actual pin – it just slides onto the fabric with a thin clip. I’m not sure if I’ll actually use it, but it’s still nice to have. The barrette is really cute. I kind of like that the “Nanea” etched into it isn’t too pronounced. I’m guessing that was done so your doll can wear it even if she’s not Nanea.

Noelle dancing

Twirling the day away!

Definitely an instant favorite outfit – especially on Noelle. I’m not sure I can bring myself to change her out of this one anytime soon, but somehow I don’t think she’ll mind. XD
JenniferSig

Classic Knit Sweater and a New ‘Do!

Classic Knit Sweater | American Girl

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

Mine has been pretty fun so far! My husband and I hosted Christmas Eve and somehow managed to squeeze seven people and a multitude of presents into our tiny condo!

My family got me lots of fun American Girl clothes and accessories to add to my collection. One of the new pieces of clothing I received was this Classic Knit Sweater, part of one of the most recent mix ‘n’ match sets.

You might recognize the pattern from Grace’s City Outfit (2015). This version has a little more color and the addition of rhinestones to the shirt collar.  The sweater portion is a little thinner than Grace’s sweater, but has a nice, silky feel to it. The sweater pairs nicely with a pair of jeans and the Teal Moccasins.

And it looks especially nice on someone with a familiar face…

New classic sweater

Hi there!

I’ve been struggling with Sienna, one of my earliest custom dolls, for awhile now. The original red wig I used on her became pretty dry and tangled easily. I’m not sure if it was the quality of the wig or just one of the many side-effects of time spent in our old, poorly insulated apartment. Originally, I envisioned her as the photography-loving cousin of Saige Copeland, but after Lea came out (and subsequently made her way to my collection), it was harder to keep the two more unique.

After a couple other wigs – one that had two distinct tones of red that were more pronounced than I liked, and one that went from dark brown to blonde (and I think may have marked her forehead slightly) – I was beginning to lose hope of finding a wig that would really work well with Sienna. I decided to give it one more shot. Re-wig attempt #3 happened earlier this month and I think this Tenney wig is a keeper!

Emma wearing classic sweater

Who wants sugar cookies?!

Sienna’s new look is so distinct, I decided she needed a new name and a new persona to go with it. I haven’t had much time to figure out what her new backstory will be, but her new name is Emma Petersen. She looks a lot like my Danish grandma, so I chose a last name from a few branches back on my family tree.

The only issue I’ve run into with this wig is that it doesn’t quite fit around Emma’s head like it did on Tenney’s. In fact, I feel like it might be even smaller than the wigs I took off of both TrulyMe #64s earlier this year. I glued the edges of the wig as much as I could and it seems to be holding. I just won’t be putting her hair into any high ponytails anytime soon haha.

Emma's new look

Now where to find some hot chocolate…?

I’ll be sharing a couple other new things I got for Christmas soon! In the meantime, check out my Instagram for a sneak peek!
JenniferSig

Mini Christmas Tree and Mini Baubles Multi Pack

FAVORITE FINDS: OBJECTS

Mini Christmas Tree, Mini Baubles Multi Pack |  found at Typo

Mia as Megan Ryder

Let’s decorate!

You never know when you’re going to stumble upon a doll-sized find!

I was wandering around a local mall just before meeting up with my coworkers for a holiday lunch party, when one of my coworkers waved me down from inside a store called “Typo.” I was quickly drawn to a display near the front with tiny trees and ornaments in a variety of different colors.

The size was enough to win me over, but when I saw that the trees and ornament sets were $5 each, I was sold! After the party was over, I made a beeline for Typo and got one of their last natural green trees. They also had iridescent white and gold versions, but I like the traditional look best.

Megan decorates the tree.

There! Ready for next week!

I really like the size of this tree – it’s small, but not enough that it looks like it’s out of scale. It kind of reminds me of a tree someone might have in their bedroom. The tree is well made and fluffs out nicely. The ornament set is fantastic! The balls are such pretty colors and the ones that have glitter don’t shed everywhere like some of the human-sized shatterproof ornaments I have. The garland is probably my favorite part. It’s wired, so you can bend and shape it to look like it actually has some weight to it. It really helps make the scene look more realistic.

Now I just need some tiny presents to go under the tree!

I hope everyone is having a great holiday season so far! ❤ I think I just have one more thing to wrap and I’m done! Woo! XDJenniferSig

Meet Megan Ryder

Megan Ryder, Mia St.Claire, Girl of the Year 2008| American Girl

In my last post, I explained that I had bought a second Create Your Own doll and had quickly returned her after discovering she had eye issues. What I didn’t explain is who I intended that doll to be.

Megan Ryder from Princess Megan

Megan Ryder as she appeared on the cover of Princess Megan

Although I was aware of American Girl first, the very first 18 inch doll I ever had was Megan Ryder from the Magic Attic Club book and doll line. This line was introduced in the early nineties and (in my opinion) had characters and stories that were just as engaging as American Girl’s. The slim 18 inch Magic Attic Club dolls could use American Girl accessories easily, but most of the clothes were pretty baggy. I had two of Kirsten’s dresses growing up, but they didn’t look too bad on Megan once I’d done some creative folding at the waist.

My Magic Attic Club Megan doll isn’t currently in the greatest shape. She’s pretty loose, her eyes are slightly yellowed, and her hair is pretty dry – all mostly thanks to the stupid apartment I used to live in and its lack of insulation. The temperatures got so high in there, a lot of our stuff was damaged by the heat.

Since then, I’ve thought it would be neat to create an American Girl version of Megan – one that could actually share clothes with other dolls. So, she became my second CYO project. And you know how that turned out… Which is a shame – she could’ve been a really cute doll!

I contemplated trying to build my own custom Megan, but I’ve never been able to find a wig I thought really matched doll!Megan’s hair. It’s more muted in color than most of the red wigs I find. In the books, she’s said to have strawberry blonde hair, and the illustrations show her as having everything from practically auburn to light strawberry blonde like the illustration above.

I thought about getting a Maryellen, but on a whim, I decided to check out eBay for another retired doll I’ve had on my wishlist, Girl of the Year 2008, Mia St.Claire. And as luck would have it, she had come down in price since I last looked and there were a couple new dolls that were listed for a great price!

Mia as Megan

Meet Megan!

So Mia became my Megan. And at some point, she might get some clip-on bangs, too.

She’s actually a pretty good fit, coloring-wise! Her hair is the same color as some of my favorite illustrations of Megan, and her lighter hazel eyes are a better match than Maryellen’s would’ve been.

She’s SUCH a gorgeous doll in person. I absolutely love her freckles! I really wonder why American Girl never reused this pattern – it looks much more realistic than some of the others they’ve tried. And I’m typically not a big fan of the classic mold, but I think it gives her such a lively, almost impish look.

It’s strange to open a doll from almost ten years ago – you really see how the quality of the dolls has changed. Mia St.Claire’s meet outfit has so many different textures and details (right down to the metallic printed design on her underwear!). I forgot how much I missed the illustrated books, too.

After Christmas, I’ll work on getting Megan a true meet outfit, but for now, she looks pretty good in blue-green! Even if she’s not an exact match, it’s nice to have a Megan again. 🙂

JenniferSig

Create Your Own… and Cross Your Fingers

[Returned] Create Your Own American Girl Doll | American Girl

*sigh*

Well, if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I recently ordered a second Create Your Own doll and she didn’t turn out quite as nicely as the first.

My first doll, Mia, only had one minor issue – uneven eyebrows. These were fairly easy to fix with a little bit of acetone-free nail polish remover and acrylic paint.

When I opened my second Create Your Own doll, I was happy to see she had even eyebrows… but her eyes were terrible.

She had two different sized eye sockets (much more so than in my first Create Your Own doll or any of my Josefina mold dolls) and her eyes were pointing in opposite directions – one of them with an additional slight downward cast:

Create Your Own doll eye socket difference Opposing Directions

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure if you can tell from these pictures, but in person it was pretty evident – especially when comparing her to my first Create Your Own doll. I tried to move her eyes into normal position, but they just reverted back to their original spots.

It was time to contact American Girl. I tried calling first, but I got a customer service rep who really didn’t seem to understand the issue. And I get it, when you deal with hundreds of irate customers, it’s probably hard to care what anyone has to say. I’ve read the American Girl Facebook page comments – I can only imagine what they have to put up with.

That said, I try to be the exact opposite any time I talk to a customer service rep. I’m super patient, I’m friendly, I explain the situation simply – and I did this time as well. “My doll arrived with eyes that are pointing in opposite directions and one of her eye sockets is much smaller than the other.” I even told her that this was the second “B” mold CYO doll I’d ordered and it was easy to see the difference when comparing the two.

I got the following:

“You can return it and reorder it.” (To which I replied, “Is there a way I can include a note so I don’t get one with the same face issues?”) “I haven’t seen the Create Your Own website, so I’m not sure how it works.”

“Let me check with my supervisor… So, that’s actually how the mold is designed – it makes the doll look more realistic.” (Me: “Is this a new change then? My first Create Your Own has more similarly sized eyes.”)

“That’s the way that mold is. Just choose a different mold.”

“We have someone who personally inspects all of the dolls before they’re shipped out.” (Uh huh…)

“Well, you could try sending it to the Doll Hospital and they can fix the eyes.” (Me: “They’ll change the head?”) “No, I think they’ll just fix the eyes.” (Which wouldn’t fix the eye socket issue.)

“You should just let your daughter open it for Christmas and then return it later.” (Never mentioned a daughter or Christmas, but oh well. I’m used to AG refusing to believe there are adult or even non-female collectors.)

So, after feeling like I wasted half an hour for nothing, I decided to try sarahangeline (of AGPT)’s suggestion of writing directly to the Doll Hospital. She had had success admitting her CYO doll to the hospital and was even getting updates on her doll’s status.

Unfortunately, I got the same response – even with photos showing the issues. So, I decided it was time to throw in the towel. I packed the doll up and sent her back requesting a refund – along with a note explaining that I had no interest in reordering the doll until production could be made more consistent.

I discovered something interesting as I was packing up my doll. Someone on AGPT mentioned that the CYO dolls have an embossed copyright mark at the base of the head. This doll had an etched copyright mark, which makes me wonder if they’re using regular Josefina heads to try to quickly fill orders.

I think my doll is still en route, so I’m not sure if American Girl will give me the refund I requested or will try to push for store credit.

After I posted images of my doll’s wonky eyes, agallthetime suggested it might be due to foam behind the eyes – as she discovered after removing her doll’s eyes. At first, I thought maybe that meant some kind of shaped foam to help the eyes stay in place.

Nope! Actual 3M SQUARES OF FOAM. For a $200 doll. *sigh*

At this point, unless you want a mold that American Girl doesn’t offer any other way (e.g. dark Josefina mold), I don’t really know how much of a better deal the CYO dolls are compared to building the custom yourself or even having someone else do it for you. When they’re done well, they’re fantastic! When they’re not, the only recourse you have is to return the doll and try again (and hope it’ll turn out well this time). Judging by the photos I’ve seen on Instagram, there are a lot of dolls that have somehow passed inspection when they really shouldn’t have. And there are a lot of collectors who opt to try to fix the issues themselves instead of sending the doll back. It’s ridiculous to think you have a better chance of getting a good $115 doll than you do one that costs $85 more. Twice as expensive and twice as much chance of arriving wonky.

Sorry for such a downer post. I wanted to get this out of the way before introducing my newest doll – an older doll that I bought off of eBay, and one that seems so much nicer quality-wise than the CYO I just returned. She’s so pretty, I’m really excited to have her!!

Anyway, I’m off to take photos of said new doll, so I can make a much happier post soon! (Check out my Instagram if you want to see a sneak peek!) 🙂JenniferSig