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

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Photo Story: A Halloween Scheme

PHOTO STORY

A Halloween Scheme

Anne: *races into the den* MIA! Mia-Mia-Mia! You know how I just started my very own blog – Anne-otations? Well! I decided that I wanted my first holiday post to be something BIG! Something with a lot of pizzazz! Something… spooktacular!

Anne and Mia Halloween

Mia: Uh-oh. I recognize that look, and I’m a little afraid to ask, but… what exactly do you have in mind…?

Anne: Eee! I was hoping you’d say that! OK! Picture this – we go to the spy supplies store and we get a hidden speaker and a mic. Then, we go to the park and we hide the speaker near a bench and whenever someone sits there, we play pranks on them! We could make it seem like nearby birds are talking! “Please, ma’am, can I have a bite of your sandwich?” Then I’ll write about the experience!

Anne tells Mia her plan

Mia: That would be pretty funny! …There’s just one problem.

Anne: We’d need to add a voice changer to sound more like birds?

Mia: *laughs* No, Ms. Wild Imagination! Have you checked to see how much that stuff costs?  The drawing tablet I saved all summer for was $80 bucks – I can only imagine how much real spy stuff would cost…

Anne: Oh… You may have a point there… *sigh* I guess it’s back to the ol’ drawing board.

Mia: Ooh! I have an idea! You could debunk some well-known Halloween superstitions! You know, explain how they may have originated and why people shouldn’t believe them! You could start with black cats being bad luck! It’s because of that stupid superstition that a lot of black cats get left behind in shelters. When we got Darcy, he’d already been there for two months!

Anne and Mia talking

Anne: Two MONTHS?! Seriously?! I always thought you’d gotten lucky and grabbed him right as he came in! He’s such a sweet, intelligent cat! Who wouldn’t want him!

Mia: I know, it’s hard to believe, right? This little guy has brought us nothing but GOOD luck! I can’t imagine our lives without him!

Anne: Ooh! I’ve got it! How about The Lucky Owners of Black Cats and Why You Should Ignore that Silly Superstition! I think I know at least 4 or 5 people with black cats – I can interview all of you and take some photos for my blog! Here, I’ll take a photo of you and Darcy next to the fireplace. Perfect!

Mia near the fireplace with Darcy

It’s been a busy few weeks since I wrote last! We’re into the busiest season of the year at work and it’s gotten just a little more hectic because our department is switching divisions and it sounds like my coworkers and I will be having all of our job descriptions tweaked – potentially to upper roles. In theory, it sounds great, but I’m kind of worried that my job will be veering away from managing the creative side of things (or doing some of the creative work myself), which is why I took the job in the first place. Ugh. Anyway, at least I finally got the house decorated for Halloween this year! So even though work feels a little crazy, home feels fun and festive.

Speaking of festivities – tomorrow is Darcy’s first “Gotcha Day” – we adopted him from a local animal rescue center one year ago! It feels like we’ve had him for much longer than that; he’s such an ingrained part of our lives!

Happy Halloween!

Hope you’re all having a SPOOKTACULAR October! ♥
JenniferSig

Meet Anne!

Anne Mizukawa | Custom American Girl Doll (TrulyMe #64 doll with Beautifully Custom wig)

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have two custom TrulyMe #64 dolls – Yuna, and a second one that I customized slightly by giving her a Chocolate Cake Beautifully Custom wig. I haven’t made her introductory post until now, because I’ve been tweaking her backstory.

Anne Mizukawa

Meet Anne Mizukawa!

So, without further ado, say hello to Anne Mizukawa!

It was Anne’s mom who came up with her name. She fell in love with the Anne of Green Gables books as a kid, and decided if she ever had a girl, she would incorporate the name in some way. For Anne’s 10th birthday, her parents surprised her with a trip to Prince Edward Island to see the real Green Gables. Mr. Mizukawa wasn’t sure who was more excited, Anne or his wife.

Anne Mizukawa

“OMG! I’m in Anne Shirley’s room! THIS IS SO COOL!”

Anne and her literary namesake would definitely be “kindred spirits.” Both have active imaginations that take them on wild rides at times. Once, at a sleepover, Anne crafted such a terrifying and somehow believable ghost story of a haunted apple, she and her friends couldn’t bring themselves to eat any for three months!

She loves entering short story contests at school, and even had one of her stories performed on stage by a traveling troupe of actors! It was the talk of her class for the entire year!

Anne would love to be an author when she grows up. She knows it’s a hard industry to break into, but her parents encourage her to keep writing, keep reading, and keep improving her style. She loves to daydream about what it’ll be like when she’s a famous author. She’s already asked Mia to design all of her book covers, too.

Mia and Anne

“Designer and author powers activate!”

She’s also proving to be really good at keeping important secrets. Anne is also the only one who know’s Yuna‘s true heritage. To everyone else, Yuna is half-Japanese and half-Russian, but Yuna and her family are actually from a world called “Spira” – where she’d be half-Yevonite and half-Al Bhed. Anne teaches Yuna about American and Japanese culture and Yuna tells Anne all about her life on Spira. Anne would love to write a book about Yuna’s world someday. Or who knows, maybe a video game… 😉

Yuna and Anne

“Wait ’til I introduce you to yakitori. Bet there’s nothing like it on Spira!”

Okaeri, Anne! (Welcome home, Anne!)
JenniferSig

Meet Mia!

Mia Heatherly | Create Your Own American Girl Doll

I DID THE THING AND I HAVE ZERO REGRETS!

Jennifer's Mini Me

My first Create Your Own doll!

When word first leaked about American Girl’s proposed custom doll line, I was crazy excited, but also cautiously optimistic. During that time, AG’s cost-cutting measures and decrease in quality seemed to be the new norm, so it was hard to imagine what the “premium” custom doll experience would actually be like. Reversing their decision on permapanties gave me some hope, and I decided that if their options were robust enough to let me create a much closer mini me than Arista, I’d give it a shot.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how Arista turned out – especially for being my very first attempt at customizing dolls – but there have always been things about her that I wished I could tweak and make her look more like a true mini me. When Tenney’s light brown eyes appeared, I seriously considered trying to swap Arista’s eyes, and I’ve often thought about giving her boil perm curls. In the end, I was too afraid I’d mess her up.

When the Create Your Own doll generator was released, I was floored by just how close I was able to get to my own features – same light brown eyes, same hair color, even my exact same hairstyle!

My Mini Me's

My Mini Me’s

The preview image of my Create Your Own (CYO) mini me was different enough from Arista that I decided to go ahead and order her. If she had been pretty similar, I probably would’ve focused on making my second choice – an AG version of Megan Ryder from Magic Attic Club.

My Create Your Own doll

“I’m here and I brought coffee- er, hot chocolate!”

I ordered my CYO on release day – August 8th, 2017 – towards the end of the day. Thankfully, nothing I wanted had been backordered yet (I think at the time it was just the Jess mold and hazel eyes).

CREATE YOUR OWN MAKEUP:

Face Shape: B / Josefina in Light Vinyl

Eye Color: Light Brown

Hair Color: Brown

Haircut: Medium Curly with Bangs

I went with the “Let’s Create” outfit (mostly for the adorable cat shoes) and the “Let’s Smile” accessories (because I LIVE on coffee during the work week and the purse and necklace are pretty cute). I also got her ears pierced and selected tortoise shell sunglasses. I didn’t have a name for her at the time, but now that she’s arrived, I don’t actually see anything that notes the name, hobby, location, or pet that I chose during the creation process. Overall, the only part of the process that I found really confusing was the Create Your Own shirt section. I thought you designed the shirt and ordered it along with your doll, but you actually get the code for the free shirt (with free standard shipping) after your doll arrives.

I checked my account religiously over the following weeks to see if any estimated ship date had been added, but my order remained listed as “In Progress” up until it shipped. I did get an email notice that she had been shipped, and she arrived a few days later – a couple of days ahead of schedule!

The Create Your Own Box

“‘Sup, MTV? Welcome to my box!”

My CYO doll came in a larger-than-normal shipping box and had a cardboard sleeve on top to keep her from jostling around. The red and hot pink keepsake box was under that, in a large plastic bag. Inside the keepsake box, the doll was well-protected, with plastic covering her limbs and even a circle of foam to protect her forehead.

Her limbs are nice and tight and she has the same thick fabric torso as the older style dolls (the color does look a little brighter, though, so I’m not sure if it’s the exact same fabric). Her lip paint is a tiny bit lighter than Arista’s, but I’m pretty sure she has the same face shape or very close to it. Her wig also seems to be pretty good quality – silky and easy to brush. My doll’s eyebrows are ever-so-slightly shifted left, but not quite as bad as my Cécile’s had been.

Cat Shoes

Cat Shoes!!! :3

I’m so happy I got the “Let’s Create” outfit! Just look at these shoes! I also like the fact that the top, skirt, and leggings are all separate pieces that I can incorporate into other mix ‘n’ match outfits. I absolutely love the donut print, too – just too cute!

Accessories

Accessories

Here’s a close-up of her accessories. I really love the purse – it holds its shape well and it’s roomy enough to fit the pen and notebook (though the notebook is a little wider than the purse). The hot cocoa is my favorite part. I forgot to take a picture of it, but you can actually open the lid and see a heart swirled into the drink inside.

Mini Me and Darcy

Mini Me and Mini Darcy

I thought about calling my new mini me “Marina” or “Cypriana,” which are two of my middle names, but neither were quite right. I definitely didn’t want to take Arista’s name, either. And then it hit me – “Mia”! It’s a name I’ve been wanting to use for a custom for awhile now (being the Princess Diaries fangirl that I am) and it sounds similar to “me” haha. I thought about making her Arista’s older sister and having both have the last name “Micallef,” but I decided to give her a last name similar to my maiden name and make the two cousins – both being half Maltese.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the Create Your Own doll line. It was fun to design a custom doll and not have to worry about swapping her eyes or removing and gluing a new wig! They’re pricey enough that I definitely wouldn’t do this all the time, but for customs requiring harder-to-find parts, I think it’s well worth it. I’m excited to see photos of more CYO dolls appear!
JenniferSig

Sunshine Blogger Award!

Sunshine Blogger Award

The AG Homeschooler of AG’s Wondrous World (https://agswondrousworld.wordpress.com/) nominated MINI MAD for a Sunshine Blogger Award! Thank you so much! 🙂

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers.
  • Ask them 11 questions.

Here are the questions that The AG Homeschooler asked and my responses:

1.  Who is your favorite doll that you have?

Ahhh, I can’t choose! I love all of them! Uhmmmmm… I guess if I had to choose a current favorite to photograph, I’ve been giving Yuna a lot of camera time. Does that count haha?

Yuna

2. Who is your favorite doll that you don’t have?

Mia! I’m not the biggest fan of the classic mold, but she’s one of the only exceptions. Kirsten, too.

3.   Who is your least favorite AG doll that you have? (Really hard, huh?)

These are so hard!! My least favorite AG doll that I had was Isabelle. I think I was more excited about her collection than I was about the doll itself (mostly because I’m not a fan of the classic mold). So I sold her and I eventually made Talia. She’s blonde/hazel-eyed like Isabelle, but with a Josefina mold head.

4.  Who is your least favorite AG doll that you don’t have?

Hmmmmmm… proooobably Logan. I’ve seen some great fan shots of him, but he’s just never been on my radar.

5. When did you start this blog?

Three years ago

6.  Why did you start your blog?

Haha, I lied to myself at first and said I wanted a place to post photos and stories about my different collections of miniature items or my doll-sized sewing and crafting projects… and then I quickly realized it’d become an American Girl collection blog haha. It’s great, because American Girl really has been my favorite thing to collect for the past four years (and counting)!

7.  If you could change your blog’s name, would you? If so, what would you change it to?

I’ve actually thought about it before – back when I realized my blog had become specific to my American Girl collection. I decided to keep MINI MAD, because I really liked the sound of it. 

8.  If you could change your own name, would you? If so, what would you change it to?

I’ve always liked my name (Jennifer), so I wouldn’t change it. I kinda wish it wasn’t quite so popular sometimes, though.

9.  What would your dream custom look like?

I’ve always had two – and now I think I’ll finally have them both! I’ve always wanted an accurate mini me. Arista‘s close but not exact (my hair is wavy/curly and a little lighter, and my eyes are light brown). Now that AG has come out with the Create Your Own line, I’m hoping I’ll have a much closer mini me! I’m not sure what to name her yet, though. The other one has always been Yuna. She’s not 100% accurate, but close enough for me!

10. Do you like the Truly Me, BeForever, Contemporary, or GOTY line better?

I think I’ve always liked the GOTY line the best. I love some of the unique details they’ve had over the years (like Mia’s freckle pattern) and their collections are so exciting! I’ve always enjoyed trying to find new information about the newest GOTY doll, and then seeing the dolls and sets released on the 1st of the year. 

11. Who was your very first follower?

I’m pretty sure it was char83 of SEWBEADING. She makes doll-sized clothes, human-sized clothes, and more!

 

And now it’s my turn for questions! Since so many people have already been nominated, I’m going to say anyone who would like to answer these questions, consider yourself nominated by me! 🙂

Here are the questions I have for you:

  1. If you could transform yourself into any mythical creature (and still be able to transform back into a human whenever you wanted), what would you choose?
  2. If you could have any color of hair (even metallic, glitter, neon, etc.), what would you choose?
  3. If you could travel back in time to any era, what would you choose?
  4. What is your favorite thing to eat for dinner?
  5. What is your favorite American Girl movie?
  6. Which Girl of the Year is your favorite?
  7. If you could design a Girl of the Year, what would her favorite activity be?
  8. If you could have a human-sized version of any American Girl outfit, which would you want?
  9. Which American Girl character do you think would be your best friend?
  10. If you could design an American Girl holiday outfit, what would it look like?
  11. Do you like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate best?

Thanks again for nominating me, The AG Homeschooler! These were fun questions to answer! 😀

JenniferSig

JanSport Disney Lil Break Pouch

FAVORITE FINDS: OBJECTS

JanSport Disney Lil Break Pouch |  found at a campus bookstore

Yuna wearing a JanSport Disney Lil Break Pack

Ready for new adventures!

*shakes off dust and cobwebs* What year is it? ;D

I didn’t expect this summer to be quite as busy as it has been! I helped a former student get university backing for a prestigious scholarship, I found a local nursery that sells Disneyland roses and this one has been doing a thousand times better than the one I got from Jackson & Perkins last year (I do not recommend J&P whatsoever >:[ ), and we’ve been doing a lot of work on our condo – new front doors, new doorknobs, and some new decor in the front! So… that’s why I haven’t been blogging quite as often as I hoped I’d be. ^_^;;;

I do still update my doll-related Instagram (mini.mad.american.girl) and my everyday life Instagram (kissedawake) pretty frequently, so if you’re ever curious what I’m up to, check there first!

Thank you, Brenda Savage and The AG Homeschooler for nominating me for awards! I’ll be making those posts soon! 🙂

Today’s post is about a fun find I found in the place I least expected – at work! Or rather, at the bookstore on the campus where I work! I went in looking for something completely unrelated and was immediately drawn to the display of regular- and mini-sized JanSport Disney backpacks. I zeroed in on the mini ones, which are apparently meant for electronic accessories (earbuds, charging cords, etc.), but are absolutely PERFECT for 18″ dolls!

They had two types for sale – the “Disney Lil Break Pack” and the “Disney Right Pouch.” I’ve also since discovered that JanSport makes non-Disney versions of the Lil Break Pack and Right Pouch (and for slightly cheaper than their Disney counterparts – surprise, surprise). BUT… being the insatiable Disney fangirl that I am, and having a staff discount to utilize, you can guess what happened next…

Close Up of the JanSport Disney Lil Break Pack

Just Like the Real Thing!

These JanSport Disney Lil Break Packs are so realistic, people have accidentally bought them online thinking they’re regular-sized backpacks! I can’t say I really blame them – the only thing that really gives these packs away are the zipper pulls and the elastic straps.

JanSport Disney Lil Break Pack Inside

Inside – Mesh Pocket + Tags of Doom!

The pack has two pockets – a small zippered section on the front and a large zippered body. Inside the body of the pack, you’ll find a large mesh pocket… and a giant bundle of tags that put even American Girl to shame. Still, better inside than out.

Yuna wearing the backpack over one shoulder

It… Fits?

The pack has two elastic straps on the back that form an upside-down “V.” They’re large enough to accommodate one of the doll’s arms, but from the front, it looks slightly off. However, as you can see from the first picture, find the right angle and you’d never know! I didn’t want to attempt both straps at once (I think it’d be a tight/awkward fit) and I don’t have any Wellie Wishers to try it with, so I’m not sure if the size/fit would work well for them.

Yuna carrying JanSport Disney Lil Break Pack

Ready to Go!

I think I prefer her holding the backpack by the top handle. This way you get to see more of the pattern, too. 😉

Happy Summer to those of you still on break, and Happy New School Year to those of you starting back! I have a few more weeks until all of our students return to campus and the craziness resumes haha. ;DJenniferSig

Crafting Project: Yuna’s Earring

PROJECT: A doll-sized version of Yuna’s signature earring

TIME: About an hour (lots of tweaking)

MATERIALS: embroidery floss, beads, photo paper, paper party straw, tape, scissors, an AG earring dangle piece

There’s just one more thing Yuna needed to really be Yuna – her signature earring! She wears a long, beaded, multicolored earring in almost all of her appearances. I made a human-sized version years ago when my mom and I first made her costume, but it’s been a long time, so it took a little trial and error to make the doll-sized version.

Three versions of Yuna's earring

Third Time’s the Charm!

My original plan was to find beads that had the same colors as Yuna’s earring and make something with the same feel. Two stores later, I wasn’t finding anything I really liked, so, I decided to try making her earring the same way I’d made mine.

First, I drafted the design for the main piece of the earring in Photoshop. Yuna’s earring thankfully doesn’t have any elaborate elements – when you look closely, every piece is either a rectangle or a triangle. When I was happy with the look, I did a test print to see if the size was a good fit. My first attempt was way too big.

I tweaked the design a little, then printed out what I thought was going to be my final version on photo paper. After cutting out the design, I started rolling it around a piece of paper straw that had been cut to the same height. The photo paper was thicker than I wanted, so I peeled off the paper backing, then rolled the design around the straw and taped it.

I was a little worried the ink might come off, so I tried covering the earring with scotch tape (I was hoping it would give the earring a sort of “eggshell” finish). When I finished putting the whole thing together, I decided the earring was still a little too big and I didn’t really like the look of the scotch tape after all.

So, next I tried a smaller size, substituted clear packing tape for the scotch tape, and added a blue bead after the wooden bead. I’m happy with this version, except for the dangle piece. I used a spare hoop dangle and then bent the remaining portion forward. I might go back and add smaller beads around it to mimic the additional earrings she has, or I might swap it out for a different dangle.

Close Up of Yuna's Earring

Close Up of the Earring

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s not an exact replica, but I think the simplified version looks more to scale.

I should look for my old earring and compare the two. 😉JenniferSig