Welcome to Fun Stuff Friday, the part of the blog where I discuss dolls and playthings. This week: The New Barbie.
Barbie has graced the toyboxes of little girls since 1959 (and the shelves of big girl collectors since about the 1980s) as the teen-age fashion model, the first of her kind in America. (Previous fashion dolls included Germany's Bild Lilli and Japan's Kyoto Bijin dolls) She has not been without controversy, her ummm... measurements and waist size, for one. "Tattoo Barbie", Barbie's lack of diversity as a toy line, etc. But her status, no matter what as the one of the last bastions of femininity and class left to children cannot be taken from her. Even my brother thinks so, and he doesn't care! She's even a symbol of rebellion in certain countries, where she is illegal, having a Barbie fights against tyrannical governments.
From those humble beginnings to today, Barbie has made some changes. Most recently in 2016, Barbie debuted 5 new and different body types, which is what this blog is really about. The five types are called "classic", "petite" "tall" "curvy" and "Made to Move". The only one I don't have photos of is petite, so you'll have to take my word for it.
Now I'll bet you're wondering what clothes fit all these dolls. Now, of course the "curvy" Barbie is hard to fit (just like real curvy women, speaking from experience), I personally only have two outfits that fit her.
For the record: most vintage Barbie clothes will fit the new style dolls with some issues, like the pants not being quite wide enough. Tops, however should fit perfectly. Moving on, let's look at how some fashions fit the various dolls. This one is a vintage handmade dress from my mom's collection.
Next, here is a lineup of the girls in one of the newer (2016) Barbie fashions.
Mattel has also has improved on marketing of clothes for Barbie. Now you can buy bags of miscellaneous shoes to match with clothes you already own:
And Mattel has also made some great career themed clothes. I bought the teacher/librarian outfit to gift to my local library.
Elisa will be going to Wead Library to be their doll in residence soon! (Shh... It's a surprise)
I hope you all enjoyed this look at Barbie and her new look! See you all next week!
I know, I know, I did a list last week, but this subject was too good to pass up. My mom, for those of you who don't know, grew up in fantasy's heyday and was a great consumer of fantasy and sci-fi and here are the things that annoy her as both a consumer and a mom!
Number 1: Conversations You Don't Get
When your kids can have whole conversations in lines and jargon that you don't understand... that's pretty annoying.
Number 2: Feminist/Misogynistic Schlock.
Fantasy is usually a genre where men and women are fairly equal, not so much in the works of authors like Marion Zimmer Bradley and Tamora Pierce. The works of these women are full of rabid feminism and disrespect toward men. Not to mention in the third "Protector of the Small" book homosexuality was considered normal... in a MIDDLE GRADE fantasy. Not cool Pierce.
Misogynistic content usually comes in the form of objectification of women. Conan (above) and "Slave Leia" are just two examples of misogyny in fantasy. And, according to my mom it needs to die.
Number 3: Sexy Vampires
Sorry ladies but:
Are not things you want to marry. You don't want a vampire. Stop trying to make them "good sexy". End of story.
Number 4: Hardcore Roleplayers
You know the stereotype: Fanboys who can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy, living forever in their roleplay world. Except it's not a stereotype... it's a real thing. Now, there's nothing wrong with fantasy roleplay, so long as you realize the "fantasy" bit. Meaning it's not real. Some people fall into a trap of living there all the time, and it's creepy and disturbing.
Number 5: Sexing up classic characters/Cartoon P0rn.
I usually like to keep my blog clean, but this is an issue that gets right under the Wilson women's skin. Too many times, my mom and I have run across what can only be described as p0rn of our favorite cartoon characters. If you get your kicks out of drawing children's cartoons as pin-ups or worse, you have some serious problems, brother!
Number 6: Steampunk
What is this genre, anyway? I'm a fantasy writer and I can't figure it out! My mom doesn't get it at all.
Number 7: Makeup errors
You know, sometimes when you watch a fantasy show or movie, you notice that the there's something off about them. My mom, who did stage make up when she was in high school and college, can usually put her finger right on it. Most of the time it badly applied makeup or prosthetics! She can see that, and bad wigs from about five feet from the TV set, and it annoys the pajimminy out of her.
Number 8: "Adulting" up Children's Shows.
Related to number 5, but rarer by far is the fact that some people feel like they can take icons of children's media and make something new with them that will appeal to adults. The fiasco that was the recent Muppets show (mercifully cancelled after one season) is a prime example. The producers created a horrible, raunchy, mess with the beloved Muppets and made it a show that children could not watch. As a lifelong Muppet fan, my mom was offended, and is offended every time someone does something like this. The Live action Scooby Doo movies is another example.
Number 9: Women are Dumb
In many classic horror and fantasy movies, the main female is an ingenue who is too dumb to get out of her own way. You know the kind, the ones who come down the stairs after hearing a noise in their long, flowy lingerie with nothing but a flashlight or a candle, no weapons in sight. A prime example: Helen from the original Mummy.
Helen is the most cliche heroine (but this was before it was a cliche), constantly falling victim to the monster because she's just that dumb. Sure, some of it is definitely compassion for the monster, but you don't follow the monster into his lair! Are you nuts!?
Number 10: Stalking equals True Love.
My mom was stalked twice, and sees right through stalkers in fantasy. This trope is rampant in certain fantasy series, but most often used when the male character is immortal or close to. (Works involving elves or Vampires are most common) Most recently, the Twilight saga makes stalking look romantic and desirable. It's not, it's a crime, and if you're being stalked call the police immediately!
When I was taking world lit in college, I had to study the Indian epic Ramayana, a tale about a handsome prince who rescues his beloved wife from an evil demon. Now, it's a great story but when you read it as people who follow the Hindu religion do, you get one crazy religious text. In fact, no mythology is safe from really weird stuff! Entertaining as it is, mythology is really strange and my mom loves to make jokes about it.
Good morning, and welcome to my first "Top 5s" list! In this list I'm discussing my top 5 fantasy TV shows. For this list I've chosen shows that have spectacular "worldbuilding", character design, and writing. These shows are certainly not for everyone, and sometimes the writing or acting can be a little iffy, but they have also made an impact on the fantasy world. Everyone ready? Let's get started!
Number 1: Beauty and the Beast, 1987
This is one of the shows that might not be the best in the world, but the worldbuilding was excellent. Vincent (played by Ron Perlman) a knightly mutant, lives below the streets of New York City, hidden from the eyes of those who would use and abuse him. His great physical power is only matched by his compassion and his love for valiant Catherine (Linda Hamilton), who defeats oppressors of the poor and disadvantaged with the law as an assistant DA. This show could be cheesy as all get-out, but the way the series was constructed and set in such a way as you could believe that Vincent was real. I have not yet seen a live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast that captures Madame Le Prince De Beaumont's vision as well as this one.
Number 2: Merlin, the BBC.
Merlin was produced in Britain around the same time as the later seasons of "Smallville" here in the US, but is about a million times better. Merlin tells the story of the young magician Merlin and the founding of the legendary kingdom of Camelot. Being only a young man in a place where magic is illegal, Merlin doesn't know exactly how to use his magic and this often gets him into trouble. This sumptuous series stars BBC veterans Richard Wilson, John Hurt, and Anthony Head (you Whovians will know them) in lead roles and Colin Morgan as Merlin.
Number 3: Aladdin the Series
An oldie but goodie from my childhood Aladdin the Series featured the continued adventures of Aladdin and company, along with a whole cast of strange and wonderful characters. This series may have its flaws, like some things not making a whole load of sense and being explained with "because Magic!" (That guy with the head... *shivers*). However writing and worldbuilding were generally great, and character design was phenomenal. It definitely inspired me when I was a kid!
Number 4: Gargoyles
Gargoyles was one I caught when I was older (to be fair: I did watch it when I was a little kid, but stopped) and while I think it's one of the weirdest things Disney has ever produced, the production values are insanely high. Writing and acting are some of the best in cartoons, and character designs are just beautiful. Fun fact: many members of the cast were also in various Star Trek series, some big names include Johnathan Frakes, Marina Sirtius, Micheal Dorn, and Brent Spinner. So basically the entire bridge crew of the Enterprise ;).
Number 5: Samurai Jack
Another series I watched when I was older, Samurai Jack tells the story of a young Prince of Japan, who, armed with his father's magic sword sets out though time to defeat the evil wizard Aku. This series was also well written and acted and the production values per episode were almost on par with an animated feature film. Starring a likable hero, and one of the most vile villains since Maleficent this show is one not to be missed by people who love Asia and adventure.
Jim Henson's The Storyteller
A miniseries that never really caught on in America, The Storyteller told unvarnished versions of such Grimm's stories as "The Giant Who Had No Heart In His Body" and "Hans, My Hedgehog" as well as Greek Myths like "Theseus and the Minotaur". This being Jim Henson, expect amazing puppetry and prosthetic makeup.
Guillermo del Toro's Trollhunters
This Netflix exclusive series tells the story of a boy gifted with magical armor and tasked with with defending trolls and humans against magical threats. The animation and writing is superb and the characters are lovable, I haven't watched too much of it, but I can say that it's recommended for older kids!
Well, here we are again! Fun Stuff Friday is the segment of the blog where I'll be discussing what this blog is named for: Dolls and toys!
This week I want to talk to you about a toy company based in my local area. This company is prolific as they are creative, with a finger in every pie, but never sacrificing quality. Ladies and Gentlemen: Maison Joseph Battat Toys.
To give it it's proper title, Le Maison Joseph Battat is a toy manufacturer based dually in Montreal, Quebec and Plattsburgh, NY, both only about an hour or two from my house. Battat has been making toys since 1895 and has been making and designing toys in America for 45 years. This commitment to quality that comes with time is clear in every toy they make. Currently, Battat is partnered with Target to bring their toys to the world. (I realize Target is a touchy issue for some of my readers, and I didn't like their bathroom policy, but they have repaired some of their issues by adding what I call a "third option" bathroom. If you still feel "oochy" about Target, that is up to you completely. You can find loads of Battat toys on Ebay and they're just as good!)
Battat makes many toys that would be familiar to many doll collectors: The Lori mini-dolls, Our Generation 18 inch dolls, Lil' Woodzeez animal toys, and wonderful toddler toys from their B. Imprint. Additionally, Battat has a wonderful policy about manufacturing in China AND even better is their partnership with Free the Children to build schools. With every Our Generation doll item or B. item you buy, a portion of the money goes to building schools and providing clean water and other needs.
Speaking of 18 inch dolls, you're more than likely thinking "Like American Girl?" And I will say, yes, like American Girl, but not like American Girl... in some ways better. OG, as they are called in collector parlance, features so many wonderful things that it's hard to narrow down. They have a huge variety of ethnic dolls, clothes and accessories that are high-quality, and care in making each doll.
My Our Generation Doll, Grace, (the African American doll in the picture) has beautiful textured hair, like real African American girls. For some perspective, only one of American Girl's African American girls has textured hair. Battat has at least two that I can recall. I have not seen one OG doll that I would not buy. I love their Asian girls, they are especially beautiful. Our Generation's newest offering is exciting though, they have now added a Native American girl!
The Lori doll line features 6 inch dolls with loads of furniture and accessories. Some of the accessories can be used with other, slightly larger dolls. I own the Mix and Bake and Gourmet Market sets that retail for $15. I use them as props for my fashion doll photos. Each of these sets offer lots of little detailed pieces for not a lot of money in the long run. Here's a few photos of my dolls using the food and appliances.
I can't say enough good things about Battat Toys. If you want value, good prices, and toys that last, go with Battat Toys!
Welcome to Media Monday, the post of the week where I discuss media that catches my eye. Here you'll find reviews, "Top 5" lists of characters and shows, and so much more! Let's get started!
I normally can't stick TV anime, not at any price, I do like Studio Ghibli movies however. But as I was going through the kids section of Netflix searching for a new review subject, I came across a series called "Glitter Force", an anime series for children. I thought to myself "Well, I can always pan it!" There was a lot to pan... but I couldn't help but like it.
Emily, a fairy tale loving young lady, is rushing to her new school in an effort not be late after oversleeping. On her way there, Emily is brained by a Pixie named Candy, who crashed from the sky. At first, Emily is delighted; a real pixie, just like in her favorite fairy tales! Then she learns that Candy has been sent to find the “Glitter Force” a group of mighty warriors who will defend earth, and Candy’s homeland, Jubiland (which we hope is badly translated) against the forces of evil, represented by an evil Jester, the Big Bad Wolf, a Witch, an Ogre, and the big bad, Emperor Nogo. Through supreme acts of courage, Emily and her classmates, Kelsey, Lilly, April, and Chloe, are chosen to be the Glitter Force. Together, they face off with the fairy tale villains in an effort to help the Earth, and keep Jubiland safe.
Despite the conventions of this genre, the suit up sequences, the crazy catch phrases, and the colorful costumes, Glitter Force is actually pretty good fun, so long as you remember it’s for kids. As much as I tried to hate it, the girls were so good natured and innocent, I just couldn’t hate the show! It was such a change from most girls shows, where sassing back and being catty are considered funny. In Glitter Force, working together and having fun are the orders of the day. All of the girls are hard workers, finding time to get their schoolwork done and be superheroes, with other responsibilities included, like April having to watch her little brothers and sisters.
Other positives include a very low Eastern philosophy content, as well as pretty modest costumes. Yes the skirts are a bit short, but you’d see the same on cheerleaders. Plus, they all wear shorts underneath. Also, for the humor portion, Kelsey and April crack the “fourth wall” by making remarks about their big hair and catchphrases. And yes, Glitter Force is a bit childish, but if you go in remembering that this is a show for girls between the ages of 7 and 14, you can have a good time.
The biggest themes in Glitter Force appear to be faith and courage. The catchphrase of the group as a whole is “Time to blaze a way to a happy ending! Shining bright, here comes the Glitter Force!” Emily inspires the others to believe in a “happy ending”, no matter what. She has faith that a happy ending for everyone is coming, no matter how grim the battle looks. In the final episodes, the girls, plus their pixie helpers Candy and Pop, are separated and forced to face off with the bad guys on their own turf, and it is their faith in a “happy ending” that sustains them through the toughest battles of their lives. Of course, this generic faith in a happy ending does not exactly comport with Christian ideals, but it is an encouraging sign in secular media.
Evil is depicted with an unequivocal stance that was also refreshing. These are some bad people, and they want to see the world burn. They may be misunderstood, but they also want to take it out on everybody else. Hope, therefore is their weakness, which is really what the girls deliver, not just the magic mojo to hand these characters their rears.
When it’s all said and done, in the stale and stagnant world of girl’s shows, a fresh wind has blown in from the east. Sweeping away the dust of cattiness, mean-spiritedness, and dishonesty, the Glitter Force have revived the hopes of this reviewer. Sweet tempers, modesty, and cooperative spirits win the day in the Japan of Glitter Force… American producers could learn a thing or two from them!
"In an magical future earth, a team of heroes for hire were sent to deal with a problem that no one else could stop. Today, these individuals make their living as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... Team Thistle."
Begun in 2013 by Meg Syverud, Daughter of the Lilies tells the story of a plant mage named Thistle and her adventuring friends Orrig the friendly orc, Lyra, the smart Alec elf archer, and the part orc human Brent. "Team Thistle" as the fans call them, run around a future earth inhabited by magical creatures (sort of like Shannara, only a bit more advanced culture wise) righting wrongs and helping people who need them, usually for a fee, but also for the sake of a job well done.
These characters, despite their differences are a makeshift family, with innocent Thistle serving as the lynchpin for their personalities. Each of the characters sees Thistle a little differently. Lyra sees her as like a little sister type, Orrig as something of a daughter, and Brent is in love with her, because she is one of the few women since his mother who see him as something other than a monster.
The Author states explicitly that this comic is about healing from various mental health disorders and wounds. For instance, Thistle could represent people with body dysmorphic disorder, and Brent clearly has anger issues. One part of the current story arc deals with the burden of guilt a parent has carried for a long time. More serious disorders are represented by the "drath", evil creatures of darkness that feed off of guilt and insecurities, the more the character carries, the stronger the monster.
Now I think would be a good time to discuss the spirituality of Daughter of the Lilies. Ms. Syverud is a Christian, and weaves her beliefs into each page. (Her colorist is a Mormon, so despite what I'm about to reveal about the current arc, do not be alarmed) If you hover your cursor arrow over the comic pages you'll find a caption for the page. Sometimes this is some silly statement about the page, but occasionally, they are Bible references about what is going on in the scene.
In this scene, Meg cites Hebrews 1: 13-14 "Moreover, to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Aren’t they all merely spirits who serve, sent out to help those whom God will deliver?"(Complete Jewish Bible) This identifies this creature as an angel or a seraphim.
More of Meg's Christian worldview comes out later in the comic. In a very important story arc, a minor character deals with his guilt over his son's death (implied to be caused by some side effect of the young man's homosexual leanings. Whether from disease, suicide, or murder, it is never revealed. The focus is on the guilt the father carries). With the help of a wizard named Master Wu the, father deals with his pain and is freed from the monster's grasp. At no time does Meg imply that homosexuality is OK, (some could read the father's statements that way, but I do not agree with that reading) she is dealing with the pain a parent feels after feeling they failed a child.
Daughter of the Lilies is about a troop of fighting adventurers, and as such has a good deal of fairly graphic fantasy violence. It is really no worse than Lord of the Rings in the level of violence. There is also some implied swearing, but this is scribbled out, and is clearly stated in the author's notes to be non-offensive curse word alternatives. But then there's this:
These are rough people, so they sometimes do... rough things. This is however as tasteless as the swearing gets, and it's ALWAYS covered up. Meg further states that she will never show anything offensive.
Daughter of the Lilies is a wonderful comic, full of swashbuckling action, humor, heart, and written from a Christian worldview. Yes, it can be violent, but it also is full of good things to delight the 13 and up reader. Discernment is necessary at all times, even with Christian produced media, so if it is your personal conviction that Daughter of the Lilies is inappropriate in any way, please by all means, don't read it. But if you love this kind of fantasy adventure stuff, give it a chance!
I know that this post won't make a hill o' bean's worth of difference to the higher-ups at Disney, or any other entertainment company, really. But I intend to have my say.
You've made some colossal blunders in the past, Disney, beginning with High School Musical, really. You've ignored the cartoons that made you great in favor of schlock that will make you money, and furthermore over delivering a quality product. Oh, sure, Tangled was alright, but I can't say it was anything we hadn't seen anywhere else. Frozen was overhyped, and these live action versions of the classics are... not enticing to me personally. (My apologies to my readers who do like Tangled and Frozen, they just aren't my thing.) Writing and creativity can make or break a story, and lately, both of these have been lacking. Not to mention the increasingly liberal ideology leaking into your recent releases.
I wanted to see Beauty and the Beast, the only live action remake that enticed me, but your announcement that LeFou is being portrayed as gay took the shine off. Not that I care about LeFou in the least, but it's the principal. That kind of content does not need to be in a family movie! It's tacky, and so many of my Christian peers are upset, because they too, loved BATB the way it was. You may be under the impression that this fiasco is progress, but it's really not. You're going to loose on this, in more ways than one, and it's quite sad.
Do you know what would really bring in my peers? What would win families back you your side? Make an effort to recapture the clever stories and characters that got the Millennials hooked on you in the beginning, without liberal junk. Or, better yet, put your great shows on DVD. You have no clue what a goldmine you're sitting on! Do you remember these two?
These two, who can still make my brother laugh?
Or how about them?
I'm sure you remember Kim Possible.
Aladdin and Hercules, shows based on beloved movies, but with great side characters.
How about this group of preteen smart Alecs?
You had a good thing going Disney! You really did... but now you've lost your mojo. Well, at least I still have my superheroes.
Never mind. At least they can't trash... No, I don't want to jinx it.
"Closely, closely the youthful prince now follows after the gem-bright maid;-- The tears of the fair one, falling, have moistened all her robes. But the august lord, having one become enamored of her--the depth of his longing is like the depth of the sea. Therefore it is only I that am left forlorn,--only I that am left to wander along." Lafcadio Hearn, Kwaidan, The Story of Aoyagi
I'm T.K. Wilson, Read my blog for great information and stories about dolls, toy restoration, Christian Fantasy and so much more! Blog updates Mondays and Fridays.