Toy Talk
Volume XXX

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 3/3/14

I was sorely tempted to do nothing but dolls for this installment of Toy Talk, but, I realize that's not everyone's cup of tea, plus, as I've said in the past, I try to do a fairly even mixture of "boys" and "girls" toys if I can. Starting in the back row, and moving left-to-right, we have three Spin Master Liv dolls, Sophie, Daniela, and Hayden (Sophie and Daniela: three dollars, each, on 2/19/14; Hayden: two dollars on 2/25/14), and, next to that trio, is a 2001 MGA Bratz: Hot Summer Dayz Jade (eighty-nine cents on 2/24/14). Moving down to the bottom row, again left-to-right, is a 2012 JAKKS Pacific S.L.U.G. Zombies The Deadlifter (twenty-five cents on 3/1/14), a couple of O.A.A. Inc. Cabbage Patch Kids miniatures, a 1994 Kimberly Katherine and a 1984 Blonde Ice Cream Cone Girl (Kimberly Katherine: twenty-five cents "girls small doll" grab bag on 2/19/14; Blonde Ice Cream Cone Girl: twenty-five cents "girls" grab bag on 1/10/14), and, finally, a 2010 Hasbro Transformers: Hunt for the Decepticons Fireburst Optimus Prime (twenty-five cents on 12/5/13). I purchased Jade from the Negaunee Vista Theater thrift shop, everything else came from the Ishpeming St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on the dates noted above. At roughly ten dollars total (eight bucks for the Liv dolls alone), this is the most expensive installment of Toy Talk to date. If anyone reading this knows more information about any of these items, that I haven't already discussed below, and would like to share, or just chat about toys, feel free to e-mail me and let me know!

The Tribble problem on the Starship Liv is really getting out of hand.

Well, as I mentioned last time, I hit the Spin Master Liv jackpot recently, scoring three dolls (including the last two girls I needed, Sophie and Hayden) and eight(!) wigs (not to mention the McDonald's Liv Alexis mini doll, which I'll probably talk about in another, future installment of Toy Talk). It's a bit unusual to see that many secondhand Liv toys in a short period of time, so, I guess somebody must have donated their entire Liv doll collection to the thrift store recently. In addition to the two that I bought on 2/19/14, one of the store's cashiers informed me that they had just sold another Liv doll, in a ziploc bag with even more wigs, before I arrived on the scene. Had it still been there, I probably would have bought that one too.

Excluding paint, eye color, and skin tone variations, all three of these dolls more-or-less share the same body. They stand about 11.6" (29.4 cm) tall (without a wig). The dolls' bodies all move at the same spots: neck (ball joint), shoulders (ball joints), elbows (pin-and-disc ball joints), wrists (rotating swivels), waist (ball joint), hips (pin-and-disc ball joints), knees (double pin joints), and ankles (rotating swivels). Interestingly, each one has different panties, which is probably indicative of them all coming from separate waves/assortments of Liv dolls. Sophie has white underwear with a cross-hatch pattern, Daniela has smooth flesh-tone ones, and Hayden has the same cross-hatch texture on hers as Sophie's, but Hayden's are flesh-toned. I guess I prefer the flesh-toned variety, because it gives the nude doll a more cohesive look, but, as they're usually covered with clothes anyway, it doesn't really matter one way or the other.

Let's look at Sophie first. These are the four wigs that were packed in the ziploc bag with her. The two-toned blonde/red one (which also has a couple of pink headbands attached to the top that you can't see in the photos) is definitely my favorite on Sophie, and I like the black one with the purple streak on Daniela. Out of all the Liv characters, the wigs are particularly appropriate as accessories for Sophie, because she wants to be a hair stylist when she grows up and likes to practice on the other girls' tresses.

The outfit Sophie was wearing when I bought her consists of a short, glittery, silver-gold dress and a pair of slightly iridescent capris. I think they look best when worn together, but the dress works by itself too. Both garments open-and-close, in the back, with velcro strips. The dress has a partial white tanktop permanently sewn inside it, which results in a nice, layered look. Both garments fit Sophie very well--I'm not sure if they're actual Liv clothes or not, but if I had to guess, I would lean towards a "yes".

Out of these three Liv dolls, Sophie is my favorite, as I think she has the best outfit and wig selection, and I like the combination of sky-blue eyes and blonde pixie-cut hair.

Next, I'll examine Daniela. I already have the Liv in Wonderland White Queen Daniela, but, this one is different, so, at least they're not exact duplicates. According to the fictional world of the franchise, Daniela is the musician of the Liv quintet and wants to be a rock star. Pictured above are the three wigs that came in the ziploc bag with her. I'd say that it's a toss-up between the mid-length one with green highlights and the curly one with pink rubber bands looking the best on her. However, if I was the one packing the ziploc bag that she came in, I would have tried to give her more variety in wig colors--three brunette ones is too much of the same thing; Sophie had a much better and varied selection.

I can't decide which of my two Danielas faces I like better. I don't care for the glittery sheen on the White Queen Daniela's features (right), but I think her eyeshadow and lipstick look better than the Daniela on the left.

Here's the outfit that Daniela came with: a colorful floral pattern tanktop (it's not quite long enough to be a dress, but I suppose you could use it for one if you don't mind her showing a lot of skin) and a pair of denim capris with a spiral design on the right leg. I know that her top is an actual Liv garment, because it has a Spin Master tag still attached to the interior, but I'm not sure about the capris (they fit Daniela very well, so I'd guess that they are). I think that the top would probably work better accessorized with a belt, because it "balloons" too much as-is (it'd make a great maternity outfit for a pregnant doll though). While it's not that noticeable, the top does have a small hole in it, which was likely the result of its previous owner not being cautious enough when they cut the garment free from the plastic tags anchoring it to the original packaging. Oddly enough, even though I now own six of them, I haven't gotten a single pair of footwear with any of my secondhand Liv dolls (and only one earring), so, they all have to go around barefoot, because none of my other dolls' shoes fit them. I have hopes that, one day, I'll come across a bag of loose Liv footwear to remedy that situation.

Daniela's my second favorite out of this bunch. Her outfit is nice, but I don't think any of the three wigs that she came with quite suit her (Daniela looks best with black hair in my opinion).

Lastly, I'll discuss Hayden. Her "thing" is that she really likes animals and is always taking in strays or rescuing injured critters. I also like animals, so, I can identify with that. Hayden is unique in that she was a later addition to the Liv lineup; earlier waves of dolls only had Sophie, Daniela, Alexis, and Katie.

Unlike my Sophie and Daniela, Hayden wasn't packaged inside a ziploc bag and only came with the wig that she was wearing, but it's a nice one, featuring long, dark brunette hair with blonde bangs. She was also a buck cheaper than the other two.

Sophie (left) and Hayden (right) look too much alike.

While I like her, I really think that Spin Master should have done more, beyond eye color, to visually differentiate the Hayden and Sophia characters. They could have done Hayden's pixie-cut hair in red paint, given her a darker skin tone, or, even better, both. With only five Liv girls total, two Caucasian blondes is one too many in my opinion.

Hayden came wearing a pair of sparkly blue denim capris and a black-and-yellow, tiger-stripe-print, long-sleeved shirt with red trim. Apparently, Hayden is a member of G.I.JOE's Tiger Force! In all seriousness, given that she likes helping animals so much, I don't know that Hayden would want to wear fur-print clothing, even if it was synthetic. Anyway, the shirt, which is baggy on her, opens-and-closes, in the front, with velcro, and likewise, the capris (which are pretty tight) do the same, except in the back. Considering the relatively poor fit, I'm guessing that neither one is actually Liv clothing, but I could be wrong. It's a bit strange that all three of these girls came with capris--it would have been nice if one of them had been wearing a skirt, slacks, etc. instead.

Hayden had some issues: tape residue on her breasts and panties (left), and a partially filled-in wig cap hole (right).

Unfortunately, I was in for some unpleasant discoveries when I removed Hayden's clothing and wig for the first time. I can't fathom why, but the previous owner filled in most of the hole in the top of her head with white glue (what good are the Liv wigs if you can't plug them into the doll's melon?) The thrift store staff crammed a hair piece on her noggin anyway though (the wig cap's peg got bent to the side, but, thankfully, there was no damage). Initially, I was fearful that the hardened adhesive might be super glue, which would be really hard to remove, but, happily, it really was just white glue and I was able to easily pop it out of the hole with the tip of a sewing needle.

Here's what that chunk of glue looked like after I got it out.

The doll also had ugly adhesive tape residue on her breasts and the front of her panties. Again, I'm not sure what the previous owner's intent was with that. My Aunt suggested that perhaps they were trying to keep her clothes on, but, properly-scaled doll clothing fits a toy's body pretty well in my experience, the garments shouldn't need to be taped into place. The only other thing I can think of is that maybe Hayden was being used as a model for paper doll clothing. Anyway, that stuff was really tough to get off. Water wasn't cutting it, so I had to use some cleansing goop that we have, and even then, it took many applications, and a lot of rubbing, to get her clean. Finally, while it's not terribly noticeable, she has a crack in the plastic near the top of the hip joint on her left leg--I might eventually try to squeeze some super glue in there, but I don't want to seize up the joint either, so, for now, I'm going to leave it as-is. Out of all the six secondhand Liv dolls I've purchased so far, this is the first one that had some fairly significant issues (my first Liv doll, Alexis, had a torn-off wig cap peg stuck in her head, but that was easily yanked out with some pliers). I looked Hayden over briefly in the store before I bought her (mainly to test her joints), but I didn't take her clothes or wig off (the customers/staff probably think my fascination with toys is weird enough as it is without me adding fuel to the fire by undressing dolls in public), so, I didn't notice any of those things until I got home. Even if I had discovered the flaws in the store, I probably would have bought her anyway, as Hayden was the last Liv girl I needed to complete the quintet, and who knows how long it'd be before I saw another one?

(Top, left-to-right) Sophie, Daniela, Katie, Hayden, and Alexis.
(Bottom) Daniela. And, yes, I still haven't gotten around to sewing up the holes in her tights.

Considering that individual Liv wigs used to cost about $5, brand new, and the dolls around $15-20, getting three dolls and eight wigs for $8 was a pretty good deal (and it's nice to have extra wigs in the event that I do acquire some more "bald" dolls). That said, now that I have all five of the girls, I think I may finally be reaching Liv saturation. If I see them, I could see myself picking up Jake, the sole male Liv character (lucky him), or a Liv horse or playset, but, beyond that, I think I'm going to find it increasingly difficult to justify spending more money on additional copies of the girls, unless (1) they're wearing a wig and/or outfit that I really want or (2) dirt cheap. I enjoy them, but I also find myself asking the question, "How many Liv dolls does one person really need?"

Surf's up! This is a 9.3" (23.5 cm) tall 2001 MGA Bratz: Hot Summer Dayz Jade doll, which, as you can probably guess from the name, and her attire, was a beach-themed wave of figures. I may be wrong, but I believe Jade is supposed to be Asian, however, this doll's skin tone is darker than usual, implying that she has a tan, which is some nice attention to detail.

I'm quite fortunate that my Jade came wearing her original outfit (a rarity with thrift store dolls). This consists of a floral pattern two-piece bikini, a matching skirt/wrap, a pair of pink stud earrings, and flip flop sandals (which are permanently attached to her removable feet). The bikini pieces and skirt all open-and-close, in the back, with velcro strips. The neck string on the bikini top is functional, but the ribbon bow ties on the bikini bottom are just ornamental. I like the patterns on all three, but the bikini ones are definitely more vibrant. Oh yeah, the skirt also has a pair of white panties permanently sewn inside, so Jade is never indecent. I'm kind of torn on the feet; on the one hand, they're really easy to swap and you don't have to worry about losing shoes, but, on the other, the doll doesn't have true bare feet and Bratz dolls with different skin tones won't look right sharing each other's footwear when there's skin on display like with these flip flops. In addition to what I have, a complete sample of this doll should also include a pair of sunglasses, a surfboard, and a collector's card. I don't care that much about the card, but it would have been nice to have the glasses and board.

Jade moves at the neck (ball-joint), shoulders (pin-and-disc ball joints), hips (swiveling cut joints), knees (internal ratchet joints), and ankles (rotating cut joints). While she's relatively mobile, I have to admit to being disappointed with her limited posing potential. In particular, I would have liked to have seen the addition of joints for the elbows, wrists, and waist, and more versatile hip and knee joints. Compared to Spin Master's highly-articulated Liv dolls, Jade definitely comes up short. Due to her huge head and mass of hair, it can be tricky to get Jade to stand independently, but, thanks to the large size of her feet, it can be done.

Jade has some pretty nice hair. It's shiny black (with some subtle brunette streaks), thickly-rooted, and combs out pretty well. It's pre-styled to some extent (which is how I'm going to leave it), with some of the tresses crimped, a part in the center, and four separated, rubber-banded locks (two on each side of her forehead). Interestingly, investigating online, I noticed that Jade's package illustration, and the artwork on the collector's card, depict her with two braided pigtails, despite the actual doll sporting the hairstyle you see here. On the downside, out of all my dolls, Jade has, by far, the most static-prone hair I've ever seen. I combed/brushed it multiple times, but individual hairs kept lifting up off the head every time my hands so much as grazed it, which is why you see so many errant strands in my photos.

All things considered, my Hot Summer Dayz Jade is in pretty nice condition, but she is a bit moldy/musty smelling--not overpoweringly so, but the odor is noticeable. I'm not sure if it's the doll herself, her garments, or just a byproduct of the store I bought her from. I'm hopeful that the odor will just go away on its own after a while, but, if not, I'll have to look into some sort of solution (maybe I could put her inside a sealed ziploc bag with some potpourri for a while?)

While I was satisfied with the price I paid for Jade (eighty-nine cents + sales tax; for comparison, the St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores I frequent charge two bucks, and up, for their Bratz dolls), I was still left scratching my head. Why? Well, the establishment in question was also asking two dollars a piece for all of the nude Barbies, and other sixth-scale dolls, that they had in their bin. I'm not sure why Jade, who has a complete outfit, is in excellent condition, and was placed prominently on a shelf, apart from the other dolls, would cost significantly less. Maybe she was cheaper because she's shorter than a Barbie or perhaps her odor was a factor in the price?

I think Bratz dolls are okay, but, they don't appeal to me as much as some of the other doll lines that I like to collect (that said, while I don't currently own one, I am rather fond of the larger, and better articulated, Bratzillaz). If she hadn't been so cheap, I probably would have left Jade on the shelf, but, I'm still glad to have her.

Just ten reps a day and you too can have a body like . . . never mind. This is "The Deadlifter", an unarticulated undead athlete from JAKKS Pacific's 2012 S.L.U.G. (Scary Little Ugly Guys) Zombies toy assortment. At the top of his bald head, he clocks in at 2" (5.1 cm) in height. These figurines were sold in tombstone-shaped three-packs (each containing two different green zombies and a flesh-tone human survivor) or coffin-shaped twelve-packs. All of the zombie characters are equal parts disgusting and funny. Case in point: this poor sap is still trying to lift weights, but, alas, his rotting body has lost structural integrity and he's no longer capable of such a feat, so, his muscular arms tore right off! Deadlifter's sculpt is great; there's all sorts of fun little details, like the bones poking out of his torn limbs, patches of missing flesh, and his muscle belt. The entire figure is molded from a slightly-flexible spring green plastic; the only splash of color is the tiny "1932SG01" code printed in black on his posterior. I want to leave mine as-is, but I imagine Deadlifter would look even better with a full-color custom paint job. I also think it would have been fun if the figure glowed in the dark, but, it does not. This is a great little mini figure, and, provided that they were reasonably priced like this one, I'd definitely be interested in picking up some more S.L.U.G. Zombies to add to my toy collection.

My apologies for the stray black hair at the bottom of some of these images.
That came from Jade, whose photos I shot right before The Deadlifter.

Older readers may remember that Cabbage Patch Kids were extremely popular back in the mid-1980s, so much so that parents were fighting in the toy aisles over them. Those glory days are definitely behind them, but the toys have stood the test of time and are still produced today. The CPK were created by Xavier Roberts in 1978, although the brand originally went by the title of Little People. Unlike real babies, CPK characters literally grow from plants, in a magical valley (the cabbage sprouts are pollinated by BunnyBees with special crystals), which are then delivered to children's homes by Colonel Casey, the stork. I've always loved Garbage Pail Kids, Topps' popular gross-out trading cards parody of Cabbage Patch Kids, but I can't say that I was ever a fan of the plush dolls that they mocked. Maybe I'm just getting soft in my old age, but, for some reason, I really like this pair of miniature articulated figures.

This one is a 1994 O.A.A. (Original Appalachian Artworks) Inc./McDonald's Cabbage Patch Kids Kimberly Katherine (Santa's Helper) figure. Ignoring her yarn ponytails, she's 3.5" (9.0 cm) tall. In addition to Kim, the Christmas-themed Happy Meal assortment also included Mimi Kristina (Angel), Abigail Lynn (Toy Soldier), and Michelle Elyse (Snow Fairy). Oh yeah, there was also an unarticulated alternate "3-and-under" CPK toy for really young children, Sara Jane.

I love her Santa's Helper outfit, which implies that she's filling in for one of Saint Nick's elves. She's got a little wooden mallet in her right hand and a teddy bear tucked into the front pocket of her apron. The paintwork could be better (for example, there's an errant glob of green paint on the underside of her dress), but I think she looks great. Kimberly has rotating cut joints at the neck, shoulders, and waist, which, while not spectacular, isn't too shabby for a fast food toy.

And this one is a 1984 O.A.A. (Original Appalachian Artworks) Inc. Cabbage Patch Kids mini figure. She's a "real" CPK toy, not a fast food promotional item like Kimberly Katherine. I spent some time searching on Google and eBay, but, as far as I can tell, these mini CPK dolls didn't have individual names, which is a shame. So, I've just been referring to her as the "Blonde Ice Cream Cone Girl". Excluding her yarn ponytails, which are tied with real ribbon, she's 3.7" (9.3 cm) tall. This lass has rotating cut joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips. If you're wondering, the ice cream cone is molded as part of her right hand; it isn't removable.

Unfortunately, when I got her, the internal plastic pelvis of the doll had come apart and was rattling around inside her vinyl body (I don't think it's broken, just no longer attached like it should be), so, her legs wouldn't stay solidly in their hip sockets like they're supposed to. Because of the way that this doll is constructed (the body is one continuous piece, it doesn't come apart into two halves), I couldn't see any way to get in there and fix it (I tried removing the head, but, upon closer inspection, that didn't seem like a good idea). However, I was eventually able to remedy the situation by tightly stringing the pegs at the top of her hips together, through the pelvis sockets, with a rubber band, which worked surprisingly well. She was also pretty dirty, but the doll cleaned up nicely with nothing but cold water.

I like both of these Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, but the McDonald's Happy Meal Kimberly Katherine is definitely my favorite out of the two. As I've mentioned in the past, I prefer redheads to blondes, and her holiday attire makes her even more appealing to me.

Here we have a 2010 Hasbro Legends Class Transformers: Hunt for the Decepticons Fireburst Optimus Prime, which is a repaint of the previously released Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime mold. As a robot, Optimus clocks in at 3.2" (8.2 cm) in height, while in semi truck form, Prime measures 2.8" (7.0 cm) in length and is 1.4" (3.5 cm) tall at the top of his smoke stacks. The sculpt looks solid in both configurations, but, in terms of hue, he could have used more red, because the predominately blue color scheme makes him look more like Ultra Magnus to me (if this Prime toy had lighter gray, or white, plastic the resemblance would be even harder to shake). The Autobot's transformation process isn't too difficult, although the arms have a tendency to pop off at the shoulders when you change him into a semi (they pop right back on again, so, it's not a big deal--that's certainly preferable to breakage). I like that they mixed things up and made his legs form the front of the truck, and his arms the back, because usually it's the other way around. Interestingly, my sample's legs were on backwards when I got him, but that wasn't immediately apparent to me, because he still transformed, to-robot-and-back-again, even in that misassembled state. There's no way of knowing if whomever owned him before me took his legs off and put them back on wrong or if he originally came that way in the package, but Op is properly orientated now. Regarding articulation, in robot form, Optimus has ball-jointed shoulders/hips and pin elbows/ankles. That's a decent amount for a small Transformer like this, but the addition of some knees would have been nice. And, as you'd expect, in semi truck form, all six wheels roll freely. I don't own one, so I can't try it out, but you can combine the coordinating Jetfire toy with this Optimus Prime figure to create a super robot. I wish his color scheme had more red, but, other than that minor quibble, this is a solid miniature version of the Autobot Commander that I'm pleased to add to my Transformers collection.

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