Toy Talk
Volume L

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 10/28/14

Well, here we are again with another assortment of five thrift store "treasures".

This installment of Toy Talk is dedicated to the memory of Bagheera (more commonly referred to by his nicknames "Baggy" or "Boo-Bag"), our 16-year-old cat who passed away in my arms yesterday evening. He will be missed.

As always, 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!

Toy line/assortment: Disney Princess (Polly Pocket)
Manufacturer: Mattel (2009) for Disney.
What I paid: Twenty-five cents on 10/15/14 from the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.
Size: (Excluding the dress) 4.7 cm wide (1.9") x 9.3 cm (3.7") tall.
Articulation: Neck, shoulders, and hips.
Notable features: None.

Here we have Disney's Beauty and the Beast Belle, done in the Polly Pocket style. Mattel's Polly Pocket figurines are larger than the miniscule ones that Bluebird Toys (the original copyright holder for the brand) used to produce, but they're still small enough for a child to easily carry about. Looking online, I saw photos of this Belle doll being sold in two formats: a smaller blister card containing her, this golden dress, and her everyday blue and white ensemble (which is actually my preferred look for the character), and a larger, tote-shaped box, with a handle, that contained all of the previously mentioned items, plus three more dresses (green, light pink, and dark pink ones), a trio of tiaras, and three purses. It's impossible for me to say which version I have, as the sculpts appear identical, but, as this is a loose sample anyway, it doesn't really matter. I'm just happy that she was wearing clothing that actually belongs to her (which often isn't the case with thrift store doll purchases).

Belle's yellow dress looks lovely, and, as expected, is a rubbery "Polly Stretch" garment instead of fabric. The last time I bought a Polly Pocket doll, her dress straps (which were admittedly pretty thin) tore on me, and, as a result, I've grown skeptical about the durability of Polly Stretch clothing, but, so far, I haven't experienced any similar disasters with Belle's gown. The main benefit of a sculpted dress, versus a sewn one, is that it can be more detailed and it always maintains its shape (no wrinkles or loose threads to worry about). The dress' bodice and the draped sash on the skirt both have a coating of glitter, while the roses on the front are painted pink, but, as is often the case with toys, cost-cutting rears its ugly head as none of the same areas on the backside of the garment got the same treatment. To get the dress on-and-off, you have to stretch the over-the-shoulder straps around Belle's arms and slide her body in-and-out of the clothing. I'm afraid of tearing the thinner arm bits, by stretching them past their breaking point, so a degree of anxiety always accompanies the process. I've also noticed that hair, and other small debris, has a tendency to stick to the rubbery material.

Belle's articulation is fairly limited. She's just got simple swivels at the neck, shoulders, and hips. You can turn her head, raise/lower her arms, and pose her sitting or standing, but that's about it. I'm more tolerant of limited mobility on smaller dolls like this than larger ones, but, still, I know that Mattel/Disney can do better. Undressed, Belle can't stand on her own, but the voluminous skirt provides more than enough support to keep her erect when she's wearing the gown.

Proportionately, it's on the large side, but I like Belle's head sculpt. The facial features are simple, but pleasing and symmetrical, and I think Mattel's artist(s) did a really nice job on her hard plastic hair. The only downside to her tresses is that more elaborate style is meant to go specifically with the golden gown. Now, that's fine in my case, because that's all I have anyway, but Belle just wore a simple ponytail for most of the film, so this hair wouldn't look "right" with her blue and white dress for example.

Belle's yellow high heels and teddy (which sports a small raised heart accent between her breasts) are a permanent part of her body, so you need never fear for her modesty. Of course, that also limits her versatility a bit, as you can't change those aspects of her appearance unless you want to go through the trouble of doing some customization work with a paint brush or other tools. I'm fine with her as-is, but if, for example, you'd like a Belle doll that can wear different kinds of footwear, I'd recommend you seek out another product instead (like the 12" Belle pictured further below).

Polly Pocket Belle, Cinderella, and Ariel. They're all nice, but I'm still going to go with the redheaded mermaid as my favorite.

All of the Disney's Beauty and the Beast toys that I currently own.
I hand-made the Lumiere shown in an earlier photo, which is why he's not included, as he's not an "official" product.

I'm quite fond of the Polly Pocket styled Disney Princess dolls, and Belle is no exception. I'd still prefer fabric garments to Polly Stretch ones, as I'm afraid of tearing them and they can be somewhat difficult to work with, but, all-in-all, this is a delightful little doll.

Toy line/assortment: Littlest Pet Shop: Teensies
Manufacturer: Hasbro (2010).
What I paid: These items came in several different twenty-five cents "girls" grab bags that I purchased on 5/9/14 (Farm clip-on with magenta hamster ball), 5/13/14 (orange and purple hamster balls), and 10/10/14 (Safari clip-on) from the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store. So, you could look at these as costing me seventy-five cents total, if you like, although, in my book, I'd say that they were much less than that, as I consider toys that come from bagged assortments to have cost me a fraction of the bag's price, based on how many items were in said sack (i.e., the 5/9/14 bag had twenty-two items in it, which works out to 1.1 cents each). As such, by that line of reasoning, these cost me roughly five cents total.
Size: Excluding the clip-on attachments, the animal head boxes are 3.2 cm wide (1.3") x 4.1 cm (1.6") tall x 3.2 cm (1.3") deep. Again, excluding the attachment loop, the hamster balls have a diameter of 2.8 cm (1.1").
Articulation: Box door and clip-on/ring/charm/ball chain.
Notable features: Portable miniature playset environments.

Here we have a couple of Hasbro's 2010 Littlest Pet Shop: Teensies sets. The blue one, which, from my research, I'm led to believe is supposed to be a horse, although it looks a lot more like a rabbit to me, is the "Farm" set, while the orange cat item is the "Safari" one. As this LPS assortment's subtitle indicates, these are miniature versions that a child can easily tote around with them on the go. They certainly live up to the "littlest" part of the brand's name!

Brand new, each of these sets consisted of the box-like animal head carrying case with attached clip-on clasp and decorative charm (a fish for Safari, a flower for Farm), a smaller, hamster ball containment unit (that comes apart into two halves), and a pair of animal figures. As fate would have it, I ended up with everything but the creatures themselves, but, as I have other tiny animals that can serve as substitutes, all is not lost. If you're curious, the Safari set would have originally come with an orange cat and a purple/white panda bear, while the Farm set included figurines of a blue pony and a pink ladybug. While I'm sure that there is no shortage of ladybugs to be found on farms, I'm surprised that Hasbro didn't opt to include a pig, cow, sheep, or some other kind of livestock, instead of an insect, with that set. I particularly like that Hasbro gives you two separate housing options, rather than having to cram both LPS animals into the box, or, worse, only being able to tote around one of them at a time. You can even add more than one hamster ball to the clip-on, allowing you to transport more critters together.

Both boxes open, via pivoting hinges, to reveal empty chambers, while the doors themselves, which become the entrance floors, have small beds sculpted onto them. The Farm set has a simple rug with a flower while the Safari set sports a more elaborate cat bed with a little catnip mouse. Both beds have octagonal depressions in their centers which correspond to the similarly-shaped plugs on the bottom of the LPS: Teensies animals. The face graphics on the front of the boxes, while simplistic, are cute, but I feel that the interior surfaces would have benefitted from some embellishment, even if they were only stickers, to spruce them up. Between the shut door and the octagonal plug, children shouldn't lose the animal occupants too easily, although that will obviously vary depending on how active, or careless, the person toting the toys around is.

The hamster balls are simple affairs. They twist open/closed via grooves and tabs running along the edges of the two halves. I like that Hasbro molded them out of transparent plastic, so that you can catch a glimpse of whatever critter is currently hiding inside. They also sport "air hole" cut outs and some raised floral designs on their surfaces. Loops on their tops allow you to attach them to the clip-on clasps.

While I complained about the clip-on found on the Moshi Monsters Jeepers plush, which you can read about further down on this web page, I'm fine with them on these box-like carrying case environments because (1) they're a necessary attachment point for the hamster balls, (2) portability is one of the primary selling points for these miniature sets, and (3) in addition to being playthings, they can also arguably be regarded as jewelry--accessories that are meant to be exhibited on the wearer. The clip-on and charm are made from plastic, while the connecting ring is metal. Unfortunately, the charms aren't easy to remove (you'd have to bend open the metal ring), which I feel was a missed opportunity on Hasbro's part, as swapping, or adding, charms would have resulted in another layer of customization/collectability.

This is the assortment of miniature animals that I used for this photo shoot. None of them are actually Littlest Pet Shop toys--if I had to guess, the koala, frog, deer, and cow might be Squinkies and the teddy bears and duck could be baby doll accessories, but I can't say for sure.

Here are all of the Littlest Pet Shop toys that I currently have.
To be honest, I like the Blythe mini dolls more than the animals themselves.

Other than the potential problem of losing the smaller pieces, I think that these micro LPS sets are a great, economical idea on Hasbro's part. I'd definitely consider buying some more, although, given what I already have, I'd be more interested in acquiring samples of the miniature animal figurines than yet another clip-on carrying case.

Toy line/assortment: La Dee Da: Runway Vacay
Manufacturer: Spin Master (2012). Her head and back are actually dated 2010 though--the only thing that I can figure is that Spin Master must have had the La Dee Da dolls in development for some time before they produced them.
What I paid: Fifty cents on 10/15/14 from the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.
Size: 5.5 cm wide (2.2") x 25.7 cm (10.1") tall.
Articulation: Neck, shoulders, hips, and knees.
Notable features: None.

This colorfully-coifed lass is Bollywood Bright Dee, from Spin Master's La Dee Da line of dolls. The premise of the toy line is that Dee and her three friends (Tylie, Sloane, and Cyanne), created the La Dee Da fashion label to express their creative energies. This particular Dee is from the "Runway Vacay" wave ("vacay" being a truncated, slang version of the word "vacation"). The theme with that doll assortment was that each girl sported a fashion inspired by the culture of a particular country, with Bollywood Bright Dee choosing India ("Safari Dreams" Sloane got Africa, "Kabuki Cutie" Tylie got Japan, and "Viva la France" Cyanne got France). The concept is solid, but I do find it disappointing that Spin Master automatically gave the sole black girl (Sloane) Africa--instead of reinforcing stereotypes, why couldn't she be wearing either the French, Indian, or Japanese fashions and one of the Caucasian girls sporting the African garb?

After their much-loved Liv doll line came to an end, due to declining sales, Spin Master replaced them with these La Dee Da figures. Reactions from collectors/enthusiasts were mixed--some loved Dee and her friends, while others perceived them as being inferior to Liv in regards to design and playability. Well, the sales figures must have largely echoed the latter response, because the La Dee Da line didn't last very long before it too was discontinued and it never achieved the same level of popularity that Liv did.

Bollywood Bright Dee has really gorgeous hair. It's a wee bit tangle prone, but, overall, soft and easy to manage. While hot pink isn't the most realistic color, it definitely makes her stand out. Dee's tresses are a generous length, hanging just slightly below her knees. I'm not sure what you'd call the fancy ornament in the center of her hair, but it's tied into place with string, so I wouldn't recommend removing it, unless you don't like it, as it'd probably be tricky to get it repositioned again.

The Liv dolls heads were, proportionately, too big for their bodies, but Dee and her friends take that to another level entirely with their humongous noggins. Rather than something more realistic, I think Spin Master was going for a Japanese anime/manga look with the La Dee Da brand. The paintwork on the facial features are clean and pleasing to the eye, but, like a lot of play dolls, her expression is rather neutral and vacant. The design on Dee's forehead does spice up her appearance a bit, giving her a more exotic flair, and it coordinates nicely with the previously mentioned hair accessory. Dee's ears aren't pierced, although there are tiny depressions molded into the appropriate spots on the lobes, so it wouldn't be hard to add the necessary holes if you felt inclined to do so.

Female fashion dolls often get a lot of negative attention in the media, due to their unhealthy proportions and the effect that can have on a girl's perception of her body. I'm sorry to say that, other than her gigantic head, Dee really does have an absurd, toothpick-like physique. I can't think of any other fashion doll in my collection that is this slender and willowy. I also feel that her torso is too elongated, and that makes any outfit that shows her tummy look awkward. In a way, she reminds me of a Japanese Kokeshi doll, which, in their traditional form, consist of little more than a larger ball head mounted on a slender stick body. I can't say that I hate Dee's physique or anything, but it's definitely an unusual one.

Dee's articulation just doesn't measure up to her Liv predecessors'. She's got a rotating neck (with no real upwards/downwards movement to speak of), pin-and-disc ball-jointed shoulders and hips, and swivel knees. That's a pretty steep downgrade from Liv's fifteen points of articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, double-jointed knees, and ankles). Dee moves better than some of my more basic Barbies, but it's really sad to see Spin Master take so many steps backwards with Liv's successor. I am thankful that they gave her "real" knee joints instead of internal ratchet ones though. With those tiny arched feet, and that giant melon, Dee will never be able to stand unassisted, so, you'll need to lean her up against something or employ a doll stand.

Comparison with a Liv Hayden doll.
Liv dolls had more realistic proportions, better articulation, inset eyes, and swappable wigs.

Originally, this Bollywood Bright Dee doll would have come wearing a blue crop top accented with strings of golden beads, a long blue sheer skirt with a large red jewel at the waist, and hot pink high-heeled shoes. As usual, (flesh-toned) panties are molded onto the doll's body. She also included a pink traveling suitcase (that actually opens and has an adjustable handle), a doll stand (a rather unusual one that grips both legs, slightly above the knees), and a mini creative activity booklet, with Indian-themed stickers (elephants, lotus blossoms, the Taj Mahal, etc.) The suitcase and paper goods aren't much of a loss, but the stand would have been useful, and that outfit looks really nice (I wish I had it).

The thrift store staff selected a rather unusual garment to dress my Dee in: a Barbie-scale mermaid tail (minus the actual tail fin part). In their defense, Dee's toothpick-like body isn't the easiest thing to find clothes for and, considering her relatively short stature, it does sort of look like a slim gown on her. On the other hand, it's cut/sewn to fit a taller doll with a fuller figure, so Dee ends up really swimming (pun intended) in it. The mermaid tail is made from a nice, metallic-like fabric, with an even shinier strip on the front that sports colorful iridescent pink, gold, silver, and blue scales. There's a long velcro closure on the back and I find that it's pretty easy to get on-and-off a variety of dolls.

Just for fun, here's a little intermission featuring Liv Hayden playing mermaid with said garment (I stuffed a pair of translucent pantaloons into the end of the tail to approximate fins). As you can see, it fits her a lot better than it does Dee:

Speaking of which, I considered buying a Barbie mermaid doll the other day, but that one had a permanent, hard plastic tail, not a fabric one over real legs, and the tail fins were missing off of it to boot, so I left her there. She's gone now, so somebody took her home with them.

For my final photos of this doll, here's Dee sporting some different looks. Almost all of these garments are MGA Bratz clothing, which, while they don't fit perfectly, are the best I have for Dee's size/proportions. Alas, I don't really have anything for her dainty feet. The blue dress, in the lower left, while much shorter, is the closest approximation I have to what Bollywood Bright Dee's original outfit looked like, and that color does contrast very nicely with her pink locks.

I had low expectations for the La Dee Da dolls, but, despite my grousing, now that I have one, I have to admit that they're not nearly as bad as I thought. While it's true that the La Dee Da figures are inferior to the Liv dolls in pretty much every respect, if you can look past that, Dee and her friends are still attractive-looking girls that aren't without their own unique charms. I'd consider buying others, to round out the quartet of characters, and, like many toy lines, I think it's possible that they might grow on me were I to accumulate more of them.

Toy line/assortment: Moshi Monsters
Manufacturer: Spin Master (2011) for Mind Candy Ltd.
What I paid: One of several items in a twenty-five cents "girls" grab bag that I purchased on 10/10/14 from the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.
Size: (Excluding the clip-on and tush tag) 11.2 cm wide (4.4") x 11.5 cm (4.5") tall x 3.3 cm (1.3") thick.
Articulation: Clip-on clasp.
Notable features: None.

This is a plush rendition of Jeepers, one of the critters from the popular online children's game, Moshi Monsters. Jeepers (#073) is a Snuggly Tiger Cub that belongs to the "Beasties" sub-set of Moshlings. The most interesting thing about Snuggly Tiger Cubs, at least to me, is that the cats' stripes aren't real--they paint them on themselves with inka-inka juice, which is squeezed from thumpkin seeds. When they get tired of drawing stripes on one another, the felines also enjoy sharpening their claws and licking swoonafish cans.

Jeepers has a very Japanese anime/manga-style appearance, particularly the huge, disproportionate head and eyes. Yellow is a somewhat unusual color choice for a tiger, as real ones are typically orange, or white, but I like it. Alas, like many plush toys, Jeepers has a very thin profile--that's probably done to save on manufacturing costs, and to allow Spin Master to pack more of them into a box for shipping, but I definitely prefer my stuffed animals to be more 3-dimensional in volume and not to look like a 500-lb man just sat on them. Maybe Jeepers just needs to bulk up by eating extra helpings of swoonafish?

As I've stated many times in the past, I generally don't like clip-ons attached to my toys (yet, I'd whine if the previous owner had cut or tore it off this item), but, for anyone that enjoys hanging plush figures from their backpack, car mirror, purse, etc., I'm sure that's a plus(h). While functional, Jeepers red clip-on is also fairly plain-looking in comparison to the more visually interesting horned "M" found on the McDonald's Moshi Monsters clip-on toys.

The fabric used to make this item, and the stitching that holds it together, are pretty good. Jeepers is stuffed with polyester fiber. Spin Master cut corners a little bit on the cat's tail, as only one side of it has the black tip (and I would guess, in the game, that the stripes probably continue onto the back of the head, but they don't here). If Jeepers gets dirty (swoonafish grease?), the kitty's tag recommends that this item be hand-washed and dried on a line.

Several months ago, I saw the McDonald's Moshi Monsters Jeepers toy in a thrift store toy bin (that one, and Furi, are the only two that I'm still missing from that particular fast food assortment), but, while I was tempted, I didn't purchase it. Of course, now that I have this plush item, I wish I had done so, as I would have been able to take a comparison photo. I almost bought this plush Jeepers one day too, and, as I later ended up getting it in a bag of toys, it must have been meant to be.

All of the Moshi Monsters toys that I currently have in my collection.
(Top row, left-to-right): Katsuma, Jeepers, and Luvli. (Bottom row, left-to-right): Shishi, Poppet, Iggy, and Gracie.

I love kitties, so this item would appeal to me regardless, but I also dig the Moshi Monsters colorful, child-like art style. Like a lot of stuffed toys, I wish Jeepers had some more volume, instead of being so flat in profile, and I could do without the clip-on, but, other than those two quibbles, this is an adorable plush tiger that I'm happy to own.

Toy line/assortment: Star Trek
Manufacturer: Kellogg's (2009) for Paramount Pictures Corporation and CBS Studios, Inc.
What I paid: One of several items in a twenty-five cents "boys" grab bag that I purchased on 10/10/14 from the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.
Size: 4.1 cm wide (1.6") x 6.3 cm (2.5") tall x 1.1 cm (0.4") thick.
Articulation: Activation button.
Notable features: Lights up.

In 2009, Kellogg's did a bunch of promotional tie-ins, with their various food products, for the new Star Trek film (which, as usual, I haven't seen). This is a light-up Starfleet Command "Beam-up Badge", that, along with the four other designs (Starfleet Science, Starfleet Engineering, Romulan Empire, and Klingon Empire), could potentially be found inside specially marked boxes of Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, or Rice Krispies cereal. Some of the other Star Trek themed items that Kellogg's offered during this time period included T-shirts, 1 GB flash drive wristbands, decorative plates, and even tickets for the movie itself--they really went all out on this promotion.

The badge actually came bagged inside yet another bag (an added layer of protection so that the ink from the text on the package couldn't get onto the cereal maybe?), but you couldn't read the words very well through that additional layer of plastic, so I removed it for clarity purposes.

If you never visit them, it might surprise you to learn that thrift stores often sell toys, that have never been opened, from McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and even cereal premiums like this Star Trek badge. In fact, the establishment where I got this item from has a plastic bin full of unopened bagged toys similar to this one (they've even got McDonald's Ty Teenie Beanie Bears that are still on sealed blister cards). If I had to guess, I'd speculate that franchises like Burger King just donate any toys that they happen to have leftover after a promotion ends (which, while generous, also doubtlessly makes for a nice tax deduction)--but that doesn't explain how the thrift stores get their hands on stuff that's several years old, like this 2009 release. I suppose it's also possible that there may be some individuals in our community that enjoy the food, but have no interest in, and never open, the prizes, and they periodically drop them off at secondhand shops too.

The Starfleet Command badge has a simple shape and minimal detailing, but that's consistent with what you see on the costumes that the actors and actresses wear in the Star Trek films and television shows. There is one huge problem with this item though: Kellogg's failed to provide any way for you to attach the badge to your clothing. Maybe they were afraid that kids would poke themselves with pins and that their parents would sue the company? At the very least I think they could have put a plastic tab on the badge's back so that you could mount it on a shirt's breast pocket(s). As such, the end result is that these things are more like mini flashlights than the chest accessories that they should be. Sure, you could glue or tape a safety pin, strip of velcro, or some other solution, onto the badge yourself, but you shouldn't have to.

The yellow-green light-up feature works very well and is fairly bright, even during the day. All you need to do is remove the small paper tag, inserted through a slit in the back of the badge, to complete the circuit, and then press, and hold down, the silver button on the left side of the badge to activate the light. That's fine, but I would have preferred an "on/off" switch, rather than having to continuously depress the button. Please note that this item has no screws, or other access points, so, when the batteries eventually die, you'll have no other option but to carefully cut or crack it open to replace them, which is a less than ideal arrangement. Kellogg's should have designed the badges so that the power source could be easily accessed.

Scale comparison with Playmates' 1993 Star Trek Captain Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Scotty (James Doohan).
And, yes, I know I've got the badge upside down in this photo.

Given the choice, I would have preferred the Klingon badge, as I think it looks the coolest out of the five available designs (it's all black and emits a red light), and I prefer them over Starfleet or the Romulans, but thrift store scavengers like myself should be happy with what they get. Other than the lack of a way to attach the badge to clothing, or replace the batteries, this is a fun roleplay item, and, in a pinch when the power goes out, a decent emergency flashlight.

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