Toy Talk
Volume V

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 9/9/13

For the fifth installment of Toy Talk, I'm featuring (back row, left-to-right) a 2010 MGA Moxie Teenz Arizona, a 2009 Spin Master Liv Katie, a 2004 JAKKS Pacific Van Helsing Dracula, (front row) a Toy Box Creations Mushroom plush, and a Hasbro Transformers Barricade. I bought everybody but Dracula from the Ishpeming St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on 8/24/13, for a total price of $1.50, plus sales tax. My mother found Dracula on 8/31/13, at the same establishment, and, knowing my love for hideous fiends, picked him up for me. If anyone reading this knows more information about any of these figures, that I haven't already discussed below, and would like to share, feel free to e-mail me and let me know!

This lovely lass is Arizona from MGA's 14" Moxie Teenz line of dolls (MGA is the same company that makes Bratz). Although they're two inches taller, with their realistic inset eyes, swappable wigs, and good articulation, Moxie Teenz are very similar to Spin Master's Liv dolls (indeed, some people have speculated that MGA was blatantly copying Spin Master's successful product with the Moxie Teenz). Arizona's glass-like blue eyes look very lifelike and she has real upper eyelashes (instead of the more commonly-seen approach of just painting them on the doll's face). Moxie Teenz don't have quite the same range of motion that the Liv girls do, but they're still plenty poseable (the most vexing omission, to me, is the absence of a waist joint). Arizona has a ball-jointed neck, shoulders, and hips; pin-and-post elbows, wrists, and knees; and a mid-torso, side-to-side pivot, underneath her breasts. Arizona's feet aren't flat, so getting her to stand on her own is nearly impossible (I don't have any footwear for her, so I can't test it out, but she might be able to stand unassisted if she had some). Due to it fitting Arizona much better, for about a week or two after I got her, I was laboring under the incorrect assumption that the wig you see in the photos was hers, when it actually belonged to the Liv doll, Katie. I didn't notice that the characteristic Liv head peg was cut off the wig's interior until just recently (even so, in my mind, I still can't help thinking of it as Arizona's wig). It just occurred to me, as I'm writing this, that I should have saved the broken wig peg I pulled out of Liv Alexis' noggin when I got her (see Toy Talk Vol. I), because maybe I could have glued it to this damaged one. Fortunately, just like the Liv girls, Moxie Teenz have a pixie-cut hairstyle painted on their "bald" heads, so Arizona still looks presentable even without real tresses. It's also a good thing that this doll came attired, as clothing for 12" dolls is generally short and/or tight on her larger frame. The teal halter top looks and fits great, but I'm a bit skeptical about whether or not the slit-ankle, bell-bottom jeans that Arizona came wearing actually belong to her. They're nicely done and the right length (the legs are way too long for 12" dolls; if you look at the group photo at the top of this page again, you'll see that the jeans are as tall as Katie's bust), but they are also incredibly tight on the waist/hips, so much so that you can't even get the velcro closed, which would be pretty embarrassing out in public. Moxie Teenz was another doll line that I had been on the lookout for, after reading about them at Emily's Toy Philosopher Blog, and I was lucky enough to find one of the two girls that I wanted the most to boot (Bijou being the other). I find the rounder shape of the face/heads on Moxie Teenz to be a bit more attractive and appealing than Liv heads, but, if I had to choose, I'd still pick the Liv dolls over Moxie Teenz because they're more poseable and the 12" scale provides more wardrobe swapping opportunities with other popular doll lines, namely Mattel's Barbie.

When I first bought them, I was under the mistaken impression that Katie's wig was Arizona's. This is how the hair looked when I purchased it. While I liked the curls/waves, the tresses are completely unmanageable and out of control. It looks like Arizona just stuck her finger in a light socket!
And this is what the hair looked like immediately after dunking it in boiling water and brushing it out. Much nicer, right?
Finally, here's how the wig appears after drying out completely and regaining its volume. I kind of miss the curls though, so maybe another dunk in hot water, this time with tiny makeshift curlers, is in order...

It's short and tight on her, but Arizona looks pretty good in Katie's dress.

Fungus monsters are one of my favorite creature types, so, when I saw this goofy little fellow smiling up at me from the top of a pile of small stuffed animals, I couldn't resist. In fact, I believe that this is the only commercially-produced plush mushroom that I've ever seen in person. At first, I thought that it must be a character from one of Disney's many animated shows (I was thinking Fantasia in particular), but, looking at the tag (which conveniently tucks up, underneath the robe/kimono, completely out of sight), it seems to be an original design produced by Toy Box Creations. I had to touch up the pupil on the shroom's left eye with a permanent marker, as a fair amount of the paint had worn off, and you've probably also noticed that there's a black mark next to said eye--this appears to be some sort of material peeking out from underneath, and I'm guessing that it's a guide for attaching the plastic peepers (there's a hard disk, underneath the material, behind each eye). I'd get rid of it if I could, but I can't think of any way to safely do so without damaging the toy. With its stereotypical attire (the mushroom cap can easily be interpreted as a wide, circular hat) and vertically-orientated eyes, I imagine some individuals might feel that this figure is flirting with becoming a racist caricature of Asians, but, as for myself, I can only see an adorable and colorful myconid.

One Liv doll is never enough, so Katie came home with me to join her pal Alexis (again, see Toy Talk Vol. I). In the future, maybe I'll get lucky and find Hayden, Sophie, and Daniela to round off the quintet of girls (I'm not too keen on Jake, the sole male doll in the Liv toy line, although I suppose I'd probably buy him too if I saw one in good condition and he was reasonably priced). Compared to Alexis, Katie has a paler skin tone, brown painted hair, vivid green inset eyes, and her sculpted panties are molded in the same hue as her skin, rather than white (which is a good indicator that the two dolls are from different waves). Other than the color differences I just mentioned, the joints and sculpts are identical. I suspect that Katie and Moxie Teenz Arizona belonged to the same person, because they both had the same silvery white marks on their crowns (perhaps the side effect of an attempt to attach wigs more securely to their heads with some kind of adhesive?), but that came off easily with a bit of nail polish remover carefully rubbed onto the problem area with the end of a Q-tip. Speaking of hair, someone cut or tore off the wig's peg, which is supposed to plug into the hole in the back of every Liv doll's head; this was probably done so that the wig would fit better on the heads of other dolls. Without the benefit of said peg, the wig is very loose and slides off of Katie's head easily (which is why I initially thought that the wig belonged to Arizona, not Katie, because it fits the Moxie Teenz doll like a glove). Fortunately, there's an easy trick, that I picked up online, to correct that: simply wrap a rubber band around the Liv doll's head, and it will "grip" the wig, keeping it in place. By the way, if you're ever out shopping for toys at a thrift store, ALWAYS search the bottom of the containers that the loose toys are stored in, because you never know what you might find. Case in point: Katie was bald when I first grabbed her, but, after a bit of digging, I got lucky and found her curly mop buried at the very bottom of the bin, underneath all the other plastic and vinyl ladies. Unlike when I picked up Alexis, Katie had some clothing, namely a glittery pink dress (it doesn't contrast with Katie's skin tone very well though, so, it looks better on Alexis in my opinion). The back opens and close with a velcro strip and the top has two strings that tie around the neck. Interestingly, whomever owned this dress previously never untied it, because the little plastic tag holding the knot together was still intact. I don't know if this is an actual piece of Liv doll clothing, or if it's from some other line of play dolls, but it fits, and that's all that's important. Katie also had a single diamond stud earring in her left ear--typing up this sentence, it just dawned on me that I should have inspected the other dolls in the bin to see if the matching earring was jammed into one of their ears. While I like both of my Liv dolls, I still prefer Alexis to Katie.

Here's a comparison of Katie and Alexis.
As I mentioned earlier, the pink dress contrasts better with Alexis' darker skin tone than it does with Katie's pale flesh.

Katie just can't remember what she did with that other earring!

Here's a Hasbro Decepticon Barricade from one of the Transformers live action movie toy lines. Barricade has been immortalized in plastic several times, so, I'm not sure which particular version this is. Some Barricades come with the smaller Decepticon Frenzy, but, if that was the case with this figure, said mini-bot is missing. Transformers have really come a long way, in terms of engineering and sculpt, since my childhood, and Barricade is a very impressive and sinister-looking mechanoid. I was pleased that I managed to figure out the conversion process on my own this time, without the help of any instructions, as I often have to resort to downloading those off of the internet (the metamorphosis of modern Transformers can get pretty complicated). Unfortunately, this Barricade toy is missing the entire rear end of the police car. It doesn't negatively impact the appearance of the robot mode, but it's certainly noticeable when Barricade is in vehicle mode--I suppose I could rationalize it away as "battle damage". I noticed that those parts of his chassis were absent in the store, but, as he was only twenty-five cents, and the robot mode still looks good, I figured it wasn't that big a deal (he was certainly a better buy than the Transformers Prime Megatron, Starscream, and Bulkhead fast food toys that were in the bin with him). Barricade has lots and lots of articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, waist, hips, knees, ankles, wheels, and various other components that facilitate the transformation process). His ankle and knee joints are pretty loose though, and that, combined with his top-heavy design, makes it tricky to get him to stand. While the lost rear end of the police car is a minor killjoy, I'm still glad that I picked up Barricade to add to my collection.

Bumblebee was going to kick Barricade's ass,
but then he realized the damaged Decepticon didn't have one anymore.

Van Helsing is, in my opinion, one of the better action/horror movies released in the last decade (I really enjoyed the Playstation 2 video game too), so, I was happily surprised when my mother presented me with the sixth-scale version of the main antagonist of the movie, Dracula himself (depicted in full-on monster form). The sculpt is appropriately terrifying and, as far as my recollections go, pretty accurate to the cinematic source material. All the little details on his vampiric anatomy are highlighted fairly well with dry-brushed tan paint and the mouth and fangs are quite nasty looking. In particular, the coloration of his flesh makes me think of a corpse that's been left to putrefy underwater for some time. Dracula's body is molded from hard gray plastic, while his head and limbs are made out of a slightly more flexible material (I'm guessing vinyl). The bloodsucker has some serious heft--this is another toy you really wouldn't want to get whacked with! In the articulation department, Drac does pretty good with a ball-jointed head (his mane of hair restricts the movement to some extent though); pin-and-post shoulders; rotating cut biceps, wrists, waist, and hips; and pin-jointed elbows and knees. Due to his weight, and the small size of his rubbery feet, it's tricky to get him to stand; a task that I imagine would have been even more difficult with large wings attached. Speaking of which, said wings are obviously missing on my figure (they would have plugged into the four holes in his back), but he still looks pretty intimidating even without them (in addition to being a vampire, I could see this guy doing temp work as a variety of bipedal monsters). Those missing appendages would have taken up a LOT of space (looking at photos of a complete Dracula figure, I'd guesstimate that the toy had a wingspan of about 18 inches), so, while it would have been nice to have them, it will be easier to find room to display and store Dracula without them.

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