Toy Talk
Volume VII

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 9/23/13

Appropriately enough, there are seven items that we'll be looking at for the seventh volume of Toy Talk. Starting on the far left, and moving right, we've got two identical 2011 Spin Master Liv Haydens (McDonald's), a Littlest Pet Shop 2005 Persian cat pencil topper and 2010 Blythe Scooter, a 1988 Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredder, a 2010 Mattel Barbie in a Mermaid Tale Xylie the Mermaid (McDonald's), and a 1999 Ty Beanie Baby Mac cardinal plush. I purchased Mac from Goodwill on 9/13/13 for forty-nine cents and everything else came from the Marquette St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on the same day (Shredder was fifty-nine cents, and Xylie, Blythe, the Persian cat, and the two Haydens were all in the same $2.44 bag of "girls" toys). If anyone reading this knows more information about any of these figures, 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!

Not only did I get two McDonald's 2011 Strawberry Shortcake Plum Puddings in the bag of girls toys I bought on 9/13/13 (see Toy Talk Vol. VI), but a pair of McDonald's 2011 Liv Haydens as well, what are the odds on that? I like to call them "The Hayden Twins". Taking side-by-side photos of identical figures can be kind of fun, and, for some strange reason, I have the urge to buy additional copies of this Hayden figure so that I can have triplets, quadruplets, etc. Obviously these 6" (15 cm) figures aren't as good as a real Liv doll, but they're fun for what they are. They've got rooted hair, but all their clothing is sculpted plastic, no fabric at all. Both Haydens have rotating cut joints at the neck, shoulders, and waist. Getting them to stand on their own is pretty tricky, but it can be done (big heads, hair, and hats are the natural enemies of gravity). Like the McDonald's Liv styling heads, they made an attempt to mimic the inset eyes of real Liv dolls here as well, and, while the technique appears to be the same (transparent plastic with opaque eye whites painted on top), it looks much better on this smaller scale figure than it did on the styling heads. However, I really think McDonald's missed a golden opportunity when they didn't make the hats and hair on these dolls swappable, as that would have been the perfect tie-in feature to the full-sized Liv dolls and would have increased the play value substantially. One of my two Haydens had someone's initials written on the back of her right boot with black permanent marker--I got that off with acetone, but it ate through some of the brown paint in the process, although it's not very noticeable in the photos. While Alexis is still my favorite Liv character, in this particular toy assortment, I do prefer Hayden over all the other girls because of her cute cowgirl outfit.

When Hayden phoned Katie and invited her to come over
and help babysit, this wasn't what Katie had in mind...

This cutie is a 2010 Hasbro Blythe Loves Littlest Pet Shop Scooter doll. Blythe has been around longer than I've been alive; she debuted in 1972 and was produced by Kenner (which Hasbro later acquired). The original Blythe dolls were close to Barbie-sized (although they still had huge heads) and there was a string on their backs that you could pull to change the positioning and color of their eyes--they were also rather creepy looking. While she retains most of the physical characteristics of the original design, at 4-1/2" (11.4 cm) this modern Blythe is much smaller and has a friendlier face (the eyes don't change either). I think Blythe's bust is ridiculous on a doll of her size and proportions--on the surface, she looks like a little girl, but undressing her quickly dispels that notion. She's wearing a predominately pink dress (well, it looks more like a shirt and skirt combo, but it's a one piece garment) that sports a big portrait of her dog on the front. It opens and closes, in the back, via a strip of velcro. Her teensy rubbery purple and white boots are also removable, which is a surprising, although welcome, touch at this smaller scale. Her spring green tights, on the other hand, are a permanent part of her body. Unlike most of the secondhand dolls I acquire, Blythe's blonde hair is silky smooth and perfect--it's quality stuff! She doesn't have much in the way or articulation. Her hips and shoulders are rotating cut joints and she has a ball-jointed neck. While you can get her to stand unassisted, due to the huge size of her melon, it's a tricky proposition. In addition to a bunch of small accessories, a complete sample of this doll would have included a 1960s-style motor scooter, with an attached sidecar, for her and her pet doggy to tear up the streets in. The two of them on the vehicle together, wearing their goggles and helmets, is absolutely adorable. I don't have her dog, but there was a 2005 Littlest Pet Shop white Persian cat pencil topper in the same bag of toys that Blythe was in, so I thought that'd be an appropriate thing to include with her in these photos (everybody knows that cats are way better than dogs anyway). It's an unarticulated piece, but the feline, and the pillow it's sitting upon, are both nicely sculpted and painted. I usually don't have a lot of interest for dolls in this smaller scale, but Blythe is difficult to resist (I've come very close to buying some brand new Blythe Loves Littlest Pet Shop dolls from the local Big Lots! on more than one occasion as well), in fact, she was the primary reason that I purchased that particular bag of toys.

No, Mister Kitty, I don't own a dog.
Why do you ask?

Here's a blast from my past, the original 1988 Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredder. I don't know where Playmates ever got the idea that Shredder's armor was blue (it should be silver, or better yet, chromed), but that's the color scheme they went with, and it really looks bizarre. Even as a child, I knew something was very wrong with this toy and didn't understand why he looked so different from the cartoon and video game interpretations of the character. I can remember, back in the day, that Shredder was difficult to find. I think that there was only one packed in each case of TMNT figures, and that, coupled with the character's popularity as the main antagonist of the franchise, made him tricky to acquire. While the action figure itself is okay, the paint on this sample is in fairly rough shape--the plastic is showing through in many areas, most noticeable on his chin and the top of his helmet--Shredder must have seen a lot of action! The notorious leader of the Foot Clan is also missing his cape, belt, and all of his weapons [katana (sword), kama (sickle), two fist daggers, and two shuriken (throwing stars)]. To be brutally honest, the original Playmates Shredder isn't a great toy--the color scheme is wrong, his pre-posed squat and short arms are awkward looking, and the articulation is mediocre at best (ball-jointed hips, and rotating cuts at the neck, shoulders, and forearms). However, the fact remains that this is still the first Shredder action figure that was ever produced, which gives it a powerful nostalgia factor that's hard to shake. I should also note that this same sculpt was released again, in the "correct" colors (silver armor, gray torso, etc.), for the 1992 Toon Turtles wave of TMNT figures, and it looks a lot better as a result. If you have the choice, I'd definitely go with that version instead of this one.

Dolphin and starfish color change
after exposure to ice cold water.

I say, Captain, what's that off the port bow? Why, it's a Xylie the Mermaid figure from Mattel's 2010 Barbie in a Mermaid Tale line of McDonald's Happy Meal figures, Matey! In addition to Xylie, you could also get Kaylie the Mermaid, Merliah in both Mermaid and Surfer (human) forms, and a couple of pieces of jewelry, the Celestial Crown (a tiara) and a couple of Seahorse Barrettes. Xylie is certainly an interesting name--I can't recall ever running across it before. I suppose they just took Kylie and replaced the 'K' with an 'X'. She's about 5-3/8" (13.7 cm) tall, but, of course, she can't actually stand with fins for "feet". I really like how they sculpted her tail, instead of a smooth surface, it resembles a tiered dress, but it's also suggestive of scales, which is a really nice design choice. If you dunk Xylie in ice cold water, the dolphin and starfish shapes on her tail change from blue to purple--according to McDonald's, this reveals "secret items from the ocean", but those shapes are already sculpted in raised relief, and painted a slightly different color than the rest of the tail, so they're hardly a secret. It's not the most exciting feature in the world, but, on the other hand, it doesn't detract from the figure either. Kids are going to play with mermaid toys in the bathtub or pool regardless, so it's good for the figure to have an aspect that takes advantage of that (speaking of which, I'm surprised that there isn't any corrosion on the metal screws in her backside). Her articulation is decent for a fast food toy. Xylie' got a ball-jointed waist and rotating cut neck and shoulders. Given its shape, I didn't really expect anything on the mermaid tail, except perhaps the fin at the end, but some elbow joints on the arms would have been nice. While it might look okay in the photos, the rooting job on this doll is less than stellar. The hair is sparse, with several noticeable bald patches (to be fair, whomever owned this before me doubtlessly contributed to that). She was missing several hair plugs when I got her, and another one came out on me while I was brushing her hair--not good (I recommend holding tightly onto her roots with your fingers while brushing to prevent this). I don't expect triple-A quality hair on a fast food doll, but I do expect it to stay anchored in her head! I almost wish I had left her with crazy hair, because those deficiencies weren't readily apparent when it was a rat's nest. I like Xylie, but the condition of her tresses bothers me--if I come across another one with better rooting, I'll probably trade up.

It's a secondhand doll, so you know what that means: Crazy Hair!
Well, if you wanted to imagine that she's underwater, then billowing hair would be appropriate...

The Northern Cardinal is one of my favorite bird species, and, while they're certainly not unheard of, they aren't that common where I live. I was walking along a little-used road, about two or three weeks ago, and saw one sitting in the branches of a tree (it's hard to miss that bright red coloration), which I found notable, as that was the first one I can remember encountering in years (and coming from someone that spends a lot of time hiking out in the woods, year-round, that's saying something). Only the males are all red like this, the females are mostly brown with tinges of red on the crest, wings, tails, and breast. Anyway, silly as it may seem, I bought this 1999 Ty Beanie Baby "Mac" cardinal plush to commemorate that sighting. He's got all his tags and he's in excellent physical condition; I'd classify him as near mint. I particularly like the tuft of fibers that they used to make his crest. From the description given on his heart-shaped swing tag, it appears that Ty had the St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball team and Mark "Big Mac" McGwire in mind, but, as I have almost zero interest in professional sports, I'm just going to ignore that and think of Mac purely from a zoological perspective (that said, this probably would make a good gift for a Cardinals fan).

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