Doll Wars…the Naked Truth

There’s so much written about Barbie’s body…and the impact it has on girls. I thought it would be useful to compare her body (from the Barbie and the Three Musketeers theme) to that of the new Liv dolls (Spinmaster) and the Moxie Girlz (MGA Entertainment).

First we took a look at their feet.

From left to right: Moxie, Liv and Barbie

As you can see Moxie has pretty big flat feet.  Good for standing on but pretty clumsy looking. Liv also has flat feet and can actually stand in her sneakers (our testers loved this aspect).  Liv also has articulated toes–a very nice touch.  Barbie has….Barbie feet–she can’t stand in her bare feet–but then again she gets to wear purple boots.  I acknowledge my obsession with these particular boots.

Dolls sans Clothing

If you’ve every played with these fashion dolls and little kids, you know they usually end up without their clothes.  In part, kids are curious about what’s underneath –and because preschoolers now play with these dolls–they don’t have the fine-motor skills to put the clothes back on.  In fact, the dolls often end up without heads. I didn’t feel the need to do that here, but it happens.

From left to right: Barbie, Moxie Girlz, Liv

Size: You’ll note that Moxie (in the middle) is far smaller than either Barbie or Liv.

Age: Moxie Girlz clearly looks more like a middle schooler -rather than an older teen.  She is, as they named her much more girl like.

Limberness: Liv is the most limber– she has arms and legs that are jointed at the elbows and the knees.  Her head, hands, hips and feet also move. Barbie has one arm permanently at an angle. Only her arms, legs and head move (but not at the knees or elbows).  Barbie’s feet are in a frozen in a “yes, you may try the glass slipper pose”). Moxie Girlz– has both arms in a permanent straight position–they only move from her arm pits. Her legs from the hip — and you can move her head and big feet.

From Behind

From left to right: Moxie Girlz, Barbie, Liv

Realistic…not really unless you model for J.Crew. Our testers liked the underwear on the Moxie Girlz. Looking at this now–Barbie looks a little hippy…amazing.

Liv’s Head

Just so there are no surprise, Liv’s hair piece comes off and you’re left with a doll that has sculpted short hair.  We were a little taken aback by it, but our testers loved putting the hair on and off–she has a hole at the crown of her head.

Spinmaster's Liv Doll

Doll Wars…Barbie, Liv, Moxie Girlz and Princess Tiana Go Head to Head

I’ve spent a lot of time this season defending Barbie and her friends. Odd since I would never be caught dead playing with a Barbie as a kid.  But with my professional toy reviewer hat on…I dug really  deep…so here are the results of our testing this season.

Our Favorites:

Disney's Princess Tiana

1. Princess & The Frog Princess Tiana-  As the first African-American Disney Princess she is notable just by her existence, but we really like the Just One Kiss Doll…and the silliness of her gown lighting up.  Watch our video.

Liv Dolls from Spinmaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Liv Dolls- Spinmaster’s new line of fashion dolls. At first I was a little freaked out by their heads (you can take off their wigs and replace with new ones!).  Underneath they have painted heads-very short. Think Annie Lenox–and then a little post chemo therapy.  Yes, it’s a little odd–but let me tell you the girls that played with these dolls loved the hairplay action of popping new hair on.  That’s right– the dolls’ have a hole in the top of their heads so the wigs really stay on.  They look like teenagers -something our early school year girls loved!  They don’t look like street walkers (a la Bratz). Read our full review.

3. Moxie Girlz Best Friends- New from MGA, the makers of Bratz.  Hats off to the toned down new collect of Moxie Girlz. They look somewhat related to the originals–think of the sixth grader who wants to look like the 11th grader but can’t pull it off exactly.

Moxie Girlz Best Friends from MGA Entertainment

They are sweeter looking–but they still wear a little fishnet (worked into their shirts instead of on their legs).  Our testers enjoyed this collection as well.  They come with ridiculously fun and silly big wigs that you strap on to the dolls head.  Our testers preferred the snap in feature of the Liv dolls on this point. Read our  full review.

4. Barbies of Note. We’re always big on Barbies that take an active role beyond going to the mall.  This year we have given awards to

Barbie and The Three Musketeers Doll

Barbie I Can Be…Pet Vet

Barbie I Can Be TV Chef

Personally, I love the Three Musketters because of her wickedly great purple boots…but our testers really loved playing vet and TV Chef!

Barbie and the Three Musketeers (Mattel)

Air Hogs Switchblade

Never sure why one toy takes over the internet, but clearly Spinmaster’s Switchblade has been a hot toy since it was on Late Night with David Letterman.  After testing the toy–I see the appeal.  It does take off (although the stand didn’t really work) –but unfortunately it didn’t live up to our testers’ expectations in terms of control and durability. Both our kid testers and engineer/inventor dads were frustrated.  I see that the price has come down from $69 to $49 on Amazon – but I see the ratings there are more in line with our testing.

Spinmaster RC Air Hog Switchblade

The Spinmaster RC Air Hog Switchblade — has gotten a lot of buzz lately.  It was  featured on Letterman–where happily for the company and our friend Shannon…it worked on air–much to the delight of the audience (and Dave).

So we were eager to give this one a try.  The results were decidedly mixed.  If the Switchblade is fully charged, there is no wind–and you’re relatively skilled with these types of toys–it goes up and will fly–and it  is extremely cool.   Now here’s the down side–we could only get it to do what it’s supposed to do two or three times in the course of a full afternoon of testing.   This is not a load it up, charge it, take out and fly it kind of toy — it requires much more finesse.

After having several teens try it with limited success — (they all really wanted it to work)…in come my two adult engineering friends  (one  designs drone helicopters and the other has a degree in nuclear engineering).  Nothing like watching grown men get very excited about these types of toys.  I shared the reports of the day—and they both were not satisfied. They were sure that they could get it to work.  After about a half-hour of consulting  –they both gave in and concurred with their younger counterparts.  “Great idea, poor execution.”  They then offered a much more detailed report about why it wasn’t working.  (I love these guys.  I remember when we first started  toyportfolio.com, one dad (he worked for Dupont) sent back a ten page review of an Erector set with design modifications!)

One of my go to teen testers told me that he often reinforces the very lightweight material with some duck tape–so that crashes are less likely to do permanent damage to the toys. I thought  that info was worth passing on–of course, he warned that if you don’t put it on the right way you can blow the whole aerodynamics of the toy.  Of course!

So even though this toy can be fantastic…in the end, it can not sustain the wow factor.

Today Show/ toyportfolio.com Platinum Award Toy Segment

Right before we went on air, our 4 minute segment became 3.5 minutes–that’s right–to talk about over 15 great Platinum Award winning products! We also had kids on the plaza (bundled up) that were really into playing with the Castle of Courage from Step 2, the Arena from Playmobil, and the Candy Land Castle Game from Hasbro. Al Roker is always fun to do segments with – and I usually like doing segments outdoors because the crowds are there – giving that extra energy that you don’t get if you’re in the studio. The downside? The wind today was kicking up. So right before we were about to go on live, I turned sideways and all of my hair got caught in my lip gloss. Not the best look. But more important than my hair was that the Havoc Heli RC helicopters from Spinmaster couldn’t fly – too much wind for these really cool tiny helicopters that are meant for indoor use or a very calm day. Thankfully the big K’nex Double Ferris wheel did not fall over! It looked iffy there for a moment too. Of course I could really talk about any one of these products for 3.5 minutes–so it’s always hard to decide what the sound bite will be for each–and I didn’t want to skip any–so it was full steam ahead. If you want more info about these award winning products, you’ll find a lot more on our website at www.toyportfolio.com and we also have posted a calmer discussion of some of our award winners on www.youtube.com. The best sign of a successful segment, the kids didn’t want to stop playing with the toys after the segment was over!