Tag Archives: dora the explorer

I had a bit of a frankenstien moment

One of my regular charity shops has started putting several dolls together in a bag to sell. Theyve done it a few times now. It seems like this is kinda common in american thrift shops, Ive seen it a lot in peoples thrift shopping and haul videos, but it isnt so usual in the UK. Our charity shops are quite small, and its pretty usual to find a shop with only one or two dolls, so they just get put out individually. Anyway, this shop is doing it for some reason. 

So now, I have the thing where you want to buy one specific doll, but it comes with a few others you dont want, so do you spend the extra and then get rid of the others, or you have to find a use for them. Anyways there was a bag with three dolls. One wierd dora the explorer doll (I love those), a strawberry shortcake who is kinda cute, Im sure Ill do something with her. And finally, this other doll. Id never have bought her on her own. Her face is cute, but the body was shaped a bit like a troll dolls. The legs didnt move at all, she couldnt sit down or anything, shoes were molded on, and her arms just pivoted. I should have taken a photo of her but I forgot to do it before Id destroyed her 🙂

See, cute face. The body shape was super wierd though. It would have been hard to make clothes for, it was so thick and the feet were super wide. So I figured seeing as I had her, Id try a body swap. I had no idea if it would work, because her neck was quite thick, so I decided to find a very cheap body donor in case destruction resulted. 

Yeah, it worked ok! The body I found was a budget barbie clone type, for 30p in a charity shop. The kind with just rooting on the hairline, and then the hair tied up to cover the massive bald spot. She had no clothes, but the word Abbie is molded all over her underwear, so I guess thats the brand. Again, I forgot to take before photos of either doll. My bad.

Abbie has joints in her legs, which is cool too. I really like how she turned out. The skin tones dont match, but its not super obvious. If you hold her in your hands you can totally see it, but oh well. 

The neck is too small for the neck hole. I used hot glue to bulk up the neck peg, so now the head stays on in the right place, although it doesnt really move.

Yeah. Doesnt look great up close. Normally when I do body swaps where I end up with a spare head and body I dont want, I combine them and redonate the resulting doll. If Ive done this with two Barbies to get a better articulated body, it totally works, and you end up with a perfectly good doll. This time though it wasnt gonna happen at all. The Abbie head was too small for the neck, and I managed to destroy the other dolls neck completely anyway.

However, I am still happy with her. I reckon the whole project cost me less than £1, so even though she’s not perfect I dont care. I think she looks cute, and kinda different. She’ll be fine sitting on my shelf


Another strange dora the explorer

I found this doll in a charity shop. She’s a bit odd-looking, but she also looked like she might be big enough to wear some of my 18″ clothes, and I do have a bit of a thing about ugly dora dolls

When I got her home, I realised Id estimated her size wrong. She’s actually a fair bit smaller than 18″, but I think the weight is misleading, she feels heavier than Andrea.

I dont really like her face, and the sculpt would make it difficult to really change her expression. But, I do enjoy working with different sculpts, so here we go

I managed to find some stuff in my stash that sort of fits her. Its a little bit loose, and I think its supposed to be for a soft toy, because it has no fastenings. You’d be able to squish a teddys head through the neck of the t shirt, but I had to cut down the back and sew in velco so dora could get it on

Im pretty happy with how her face came out. I think it looks softer and a bit less vacant and staring. Plus, visible eyebrows tend to make a difference. She pretty much had her mouth sculpted open too, so the teeth fit really nicely. I think she looks more like a kid having fun playing around, and more in the spirit of the character at least, even if she isnt a total likeness of the cartoon. She is an odd size though, I cant really pose her with anyone else in my gang. 

A few repaints and charity shop finds

I am finally starting to make progress on the backlog of things that I want to write about, although unfortunately, I come up with more stuff all the time. Today, I just briefly want to share some work Ive done, and some rather cool finds.

First, I have the latest addition to my wierd Dora the Explorer dolls collection


Yeah, she’s kinda funky looking. I was drawn to her because her face sculpt is pretty unusual, and I thought it would be a nice challenge to make her look completely different.


Just want to point out right now that I never said pretty, just different! I actually want to redo her eyes, because Ive improved a lot since I did this one, but I am still fairly pleased with it because I feel like Ive managed to give her some character, whereas before she looked very bland.

My next repaints are part of another accidental collection, dolls from Sofia the First. I found them in home bargains, the same place as that Dora, and like her they seem to be a low-budget version of the dolls, when compared to what else is out there.


Here we have Sofia and her sister Amber. They have quite sweet faces, although again without a lot of character


And Amber has some serious wonk-eye going on. I actually think that it looks quite cute, gives her a sort of adorable lop-sided smile, but I assume it is an accident. In the TV show, Amber often has a bit of asymmetry going on, because she’s often sneering or being sarcastic, but this doesnt really look anything like that. If that is what they were going for, they failed.


When it came to Sofia, I was quite happy with my first attempt at a repaint. I kinda had a hard time with getting her mouth just right, but Im very pleased with the eyes.


Amber however, I dont know…

Her face mould is different to Sofias, with much wider eye sockets, and as I generally use those as a guide when painting the eyes, my first attempt looks a bit like an insect.


For my second attempt I tried to make the eyes smaller, but it is tricky, because my brush really wants to follow those socket lines. Also, now that Ive got the eyes to a better size and shape, her gave has gone to pot somewhat, and she’s kind of looking in two different directions. Eventually Ill try again I think, but she isnt too bad for now.

On to charity shop dolls!

They’re all from the same shop. I have no idea who this doll is, cant figure out anything about her other than that her face is hard to photograph, but I though she was cute so for 25p I just picked her up.


I first spotted this girls hand and elbow poking out, and decided to investigate, although I feared it would just be an action character like a toy wrestler or something. The combination of such good articulation for such a small figure, but the attention to clothes and feminine face and hair of a play doll, not an action figure, immediately gave me a clue about her identity. One reason, I’d say the most obvious, why a play doll would have this kind of robust articulation and hands that can hold things, is that she is designed to ride horses. The outfit kind of goes with that theory too, with those boots. It was certainly enough to take a gamble on.

As I started to undress her, I discovered little elastic straps holding her trousers inside her boots,


And her shirt is actually more of a leotard to stay tucked in, both of which suggested to me that my theory was right. When I got her completely undressed, as well as a bit of staining on her legs, I discovered that she had Breyer written on her back, too. I didnt photograph that because you’d never have been able to see it, but seeing as Breyer makes model horses, that would seem to be case closed. Ive seen dolls like this plenty of times, and I suspect that she originally came with a jacket and a riding hat. Also, probably tied back hair!


My next find was a cause of much excitement


A Bratz Big Babyz doll. She seems to be Sharidan from a line called Forever Diamondz, or Diamondz, or something like that. She’s obviously missing her shoes, and I think she should hae had a jacket, but I like her a lot


Her face is really sweet. Big Babyz are a thing of my childhood, and I never had one, so it was nice to pick her up. However, she needs renaming, because I dont like Sharidan at all. I feel like when Bratz was going through that phase of adding mountains of new characters for no clear reason, they seemed to go for the most unusual names they could. I dont mind unusual names, but when they all have unusual names, or unique spellings, it gets a bit annoying.

In the first photo of her, you may notice a certain bush-like quality to her hair. That photo is in fact taken after I washed her hair, and spent nearly two hours trying to detangle it. Its so thick that it just seems to tangle right back up again. Tying it back is definitely a good plan, but my hairstyle ability pretty much stops at plaits. Its not my fault, I have no hair to style! With her big head, thick hair, and general look, I was at a loss to come up with something for her that would look nice, and then I realised; she’s not a current doll. Bratz came out during my childhood, and so I could use that for inspiration, changing the rules somewhat


Lots of plaits hanging down all the way around. I remember pop stars doing this when I was younger, and it goes with her outfit style somewhat.

I had to clean up her face a bit too. She was a little bit dirty, and one issue that she had as a decent sized black smudge on her cheek. It did come off with nail polish remover, but now she has a spot with no blush on it. It is still more subtle than the black smudge though.

Finally, I would like to introduce you to a rather special doll. I would like to explain that my childhood Barbie dolls, whilst much beloved, are no longer with us. I have no idea what possessed me, I think I was trying to be grown up or something, but I got rid of all my old dolls in my teenage years. I think it probably took me all of a year before I found myself buying dolls anyway, and nowadays I really wish I had kept them, although they had sustained significant wear and tear that is the sort of thing that’d put me off buying them now if I saw them. Still, I missed them, and one of my favourites was my Workin’ Out Barbie doll. She had a neon pink outfit, tape player for her and matching tape for me, a water bottle, and some articulation that was incredible at the time. Ok, so its not a big deal any more, but she had hinge joints in her elbows and knees, a ball joint in her waist, and she could do side splits, which was a fairly novel thing to do. Modern Barbie Style dolls could out-pose her in a flash, but it was a big deal. The other thing about that doll was that because she was exercising, and stood up and stuff, she had flat feet which were noticeably larger than usual. As a child with big, wide feet that made shoe-shopping difficult, that was a trait I could totally identify with. Like me, she couldnt fit into any of her friends pretty shoes, and instead had to stick to her own somewhat clunkier, less elegant ones. I got so much play out of her, and now she’s gone. However…..


I found a doll with the same body style!


And that face, with the blue eyelashes, and the soft, poofy hair, the fringe that went wild and wouldnt be tamed, the hourglass shape. Talk about nostalgia! She isnt the exact same doll, but she is defibitely a 90’s girl. Sure enough, her back says 1993. I actually cant seem to figure out who she is. I know the year she was made, but I dont really have any other clue, since she came with no clothes or accessories. Her earrings are white (my dols were pink), and Im reasonably confident that they’re original because I remember them being difficult to get in and out. Dolls with this body time were often active characters, like horse riders or gymnasts, but U cant find a single doll like that with white earrings and the same face paint. I feel like somewhere in the world of the internet there’s a list of all Barbie releases by year, which would be super helpful, but I cant seem to find it. If anyone reads this who recognises her, I would love to hear any suggestions.

Im now hapily engrossed in sewing her a new wardrobe, since she cant share with my modern Barbies. I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those dolls that gets far too spoiled in terms of clothes. I wan to sew for her so much, because she just makes me so happy!

Our Generation Lori Dolls

So I did mention previously that I was looking forward to the UK arrival of the Lori dolls, OGs new version of the mini dolls. Well, I don’t know if that’s exactly what they are. The original mini dolls are just that, miniatures of the regular sized ones, and although these new ones have the same size and shape, and also by the looks of it face sculpt, the characters I think are unique to the Lori line. The Lori line has individual outfits, and also accessories, furniture sets and stuff. Its not all here yet, but I spotted three outfits, two doll-and-dog sets, and a ballet studio in Smyths. More are supposed to be coming I think, too. I bought one of the dolls, and all three of the outfits, because I was way excited, and I wanted to mix all the clothes up, and get some on my Dora dolls that I’d established could fit into them.


Here’s Ayla, looking over her new wardrobe. I just think the packaging is so appealing, its the sort of box I hoard for months in the hope that I can find a way to reuse it.


Just such a nice way of setting it out, although I don’t know about the thing of leaving the package open at the front. There were some boxes in the shop where the stuff inside was kind of messed up or damaged.


The outfits come on these little plastic bodies, and again, I just want to hoard them and find a way to reuse them. Paint them into little characters or something.

The doll I got is called Hazel, with a dog called Happy apparently


She has a jacket, but I took it off so I could pose her with the dog. I think that the dog is really too small, Hazel is supposed to be a child, and he only comes up to her knee, but he looks like one of the larger breeds, a retriever or Labrador. I put her hair into the bunches, because it came really nicely parted in the box, and I wanted to preserve it, not let her hair get all messy.

The next thing to do was play dress up! I was gonna do a proper comprehensive look at all the stuff later, once I’d had a play, but I sort of lost enthusiasm, you’ll see why.


Ayla joined in, and the first thing I did was try her cardigan on Hazel, because I thought it would go better with her dress. However, as I was doing that, I discovered some damage to the cardigan.

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I could barely photograph it, with all the colours involved being very pale, but one of the knitted edges of the sleeve came out of the seam, and started to unravel. Im pretty annoyed, because I only had that cardigan for a few weeks, and I have barely done anything with it, I certainly haven’t been rough. Situations like this where the knit is unravelling are very hard for me to fix in a way thats neat. The other big disappointment was that the clothes don’t fit! Obviously the dress Hazel arrived in fits her, because she was wearing it, but the trousers and shirt that Ayla has on are both too tight. I tried to console myself with the fact that my Dora dolls would fit, since they are slimmer, Aylas stuff is too loose for them.


But, some stuff didn’t even fit them! The blue blouse that doesn’t fit Ayla is ok on them, once you get the sleeves over their hands, and the trousers are fine too, but one of the skirts actually wont even close at the narrowest point on Doras waist. It doesn’t stand a chance on the actual dolls it was made for. The glasses that came with outfits don’t sit right, its very hard to actually come up with outfits for my dolls, and I just gave up. I was going to show you all of it, and talk about the accessories and everything, I started out so positive about them, and within about twenty minutes I was really quite sad about the whole thing. Totally discouraged, I don’t think Ill buy anything from them again. Maybe if I see the furniture sets and like them, but definitely not the outfits


Heres Hazel wearing the skirt that fits no one.

I looked at other peoples reviews of these dolls and pretty much everyone was really positive about them, I feel so let down. I know Ive had trouble with the fit of the OG trousers in the past, but not like this, I would normally consider them to be a really strong doll line

TKMaxx is good to me!

Of late, I have spent a fair amount of money on dolls. Its pretty much all gone to TKMaxx, which isn’t usually the case. Its one of those shops that really cant be relied upon. I have no idea where they get the dolls from, but the selection seems random to me. Often they are slightly older lines, it certainly isn’t the newest releases, sometimes Ive never seen them at all, and when I look them up they seem to have originated in other countries. I try to go to one of the stores near to me fairly regularly, because I never know when new stuff will be arriving, but that means that I often leave empty-handed, as I go more often than they get the new stuff. Lately, however, its seemed like every time I go to one of those stores, there’s something new. I popped in and saw a monster high toralei doll, which I mentioned to a friend who likes her and went back the next day to pick her up and discovered another doll, a different dora the explorer, that hadn’t been there the previous night. When I first saw Toralei Id also bought an equestrian girls Trixie Lulamoon doll, and went back last night to buy another, which is the same character but different clothes, hair and faceup. I really love the aesthetic of both of them. And, when I was there last night for the second one, I found a Bratz catz doll, which is a doll line I dismissed when they were in shops, and then regretted it once they’d gone. And its not that Im just bad at finding stuff, and its all been there the whole time, the toy department there is quite small, so I basically go over the whole thing every visit, these are all new from day to day. Ive found other good stuff recently as well, but Ill save those for another time, I eventually want to get round to writing individual posts on a lot of it. I just wanted to try and demonstrate how much amazing luck Ive had lately. Its great for me, of course, although not so great for my wallet. Thank goodness TKMaxx is cheaper than regular toy shops.

This morning, having been hard at work all week (though honestly I have still made time for toy shopping- that TKMaxx is open until nine, and I finish work at eight :)), I decided to treat myself with, of course, more toy shopping! Toy box philosopher has recently done a review on the new Lori dolls by Our Generation, which reminded me that Id seen them on the Smyths website, predicted to arrive next month. There are outfits available on their own, and I want to know who they’re likely to fit, so I decided to head down and buy one of the current OG minis, Ayla


They are the same size, and Ive actually been considering them since they first appeared, which was quite a long time ago. May, perhaps, around then, so that’s quite a long time for me to consider something without deciding. I figured that for only £10, she’d be quite an economical treat, and I wanted a goal for a trip out. That Smyths is near to a different TKMaxx, which of course I decided to check out, given how well the other one has done lately, and I found another of the dora the explorer dolls. And something else Ill save for another post.

I might not have looked twice at those Dora dolls if I hadn’t had my previous experience with that doll that I really couldn’t stand. I mean, she’s actually a perfectly nice doll, and Im having a lot of fun re-designing her as someone else, it was the interpretation of Dora that I couldn’t stand. These two I picked up, Dora first and then her friend, are an example of how older Dora could have been done better


They are by fisher price, and I like them so much more. Yes, theres still pretty pink dresses, but this line is the girls going to a party- it comes with an invitation, and seems to be referencing a TV episode. Theres no reference to ‘fashion’ at all on the box, and actually on the back of the box, the photo of Alana, the blonde, is in a red and blue dress, not pink and blue. I guss that was the prototype, unless its a trick of the light.

Heres Dora


And Alana


I like them because straight away in the box, I could see that the outfits are more age-appropriate. This is the sort of thing a little girl would wear to a party, and theres no earrings, the jewellery that thy do have is the sort of thing a child might like, and the shoes are not only flat, but also those cute jelly sandal things which periodically have big surges of popularity with little girls. Then theres the body shape

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No breasts or waist, and she has more of a childish curve to her belly too. I also think the choice not to paint on underwear was the right one; the other Doras strapless bra-thing looks very mature.

Im still probably going to repaint these two dolls, not having much real interest in Dora as a character. I think Alana would look great with freckles. As I unboxed Alana and Ayla at the same time, I was struck with how similar in size their bodies are. The Dora dolls look like they are much bigger, but almost all of that size difference is in the larger head, and so a clothes swap was very successful


They cant swap shoes, but I think this is pretty awesome. When the Lori dolls come out, I know that at least one other doll will fit the outfits, and Im sure that an exhaustive session of outfit swapping will find more options. I have hopes of monster high, maybe Barbie Chelsea, possible the tops for my LaDeeDas, even Bratz. Definitely happy with that, I have so much fun reinventing dolls

In Loving Memory of Dora The Explorer

Im guessing most of us know of Dora the Explorer? Id aged out of the target audience before she came onto the scene, but Ive still become aware of her.


So, to summarise, she’s a small girl. Presumably the same age as her target audience. And, she’s an explorer, not a princess or some sh*t. She speaks Spanish, and teaches it to the kids, has a talking backpack, a pet monkey, and a boy-sidekick named Diego. Pretty nice role-model for little girls, overall, and I like her. So do a lot of parents.

Then, at some point, it was decided that Dora needed a rebrand, and we got this


Now, Ive not watched her show. I have no idea if she still explores, or what. But she seems to have acquired a gang of female friends (cos girls need girl friends, duh), carefully styled hair, pink and purple outfit, and rather slimmer proportions. I know kids kinda elongate as they grow, but come on. Did they need to make her slimmer? At least she doesn’t have a chest yet, and for all I know the young Dora is still entertaining children. Who am I to blame her designers for trying to extend her appeal?

And up until recently, I didn’t. Sure, it would have been great if she’d been given a less girly look, but whatever. So long as she’s still out there exploring then she’s still Dora. But last week, I decided to drop into TK Maxx on the way home from work, and I came across this

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I have no in-box photos because my camera batteries were flat and I couldn’t be bothered to wait. What we have here, is a Dora doll. Made by Mattel, since it turns out you really cant read where it says that in the photo. My attention was first caught by the doll herself


Again, hard to see. Im thinking maybe theres a trick to photographing packaging that Im not aware of. Anyway, theres high heeled boots that Id never let a kid wear, and there seems to be a bit of a chest situation going on. Her only accessories are a clip and a hair brush, and who exactly is going exploring in that dress?

Inside her box we have a card containing a code to unlock her online world or whatever, her four female friends, and that’s it

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Nothing to do with exploring, no backpack, compass, anything like that. Just something about her ‘backstage dress up game’

This is repeated on the back of the box, telling us how we can style Dora, and dress her up. If we buy the dolls of her friends, we can unlock and dress them too.

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Why is Dora backstage? I have a nasty feeling its a fashion show. Why is it that almost every doll seems to need ‘fashion’ to play such a role in what they do, even when it makes no sense? I think the worst example Ive seen to date would have to be Bratzillaz, who attend a school for fashion and magic, of all things, but this comes close. If they really want to sell clothes for the doll, give her a dressing-up box or something more age-appropriate! And actually, they aren’t even selling separate clothes it looks like, so why are we pushing her as a fashion doll? Looking around online suggests that this website in fact has more than just dress up games, there are mysteries to solve and suchlike, so why are those not mentioned? This doll basically isn’t Dora, as far as I can tell. And then we have the doll.

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What in the hell? Her website reckons she’s in middle school, ‘moved to the big city’, and I just. Gah. Why. Do middle schools normally allow boots like that?


This isn’t me being an uptight prude, children who are still growing shouldn’t wear shoes like this. The bones in their feet are still forming, and soft. Luckily, she can swap some of Jolinas outfits. This is better


Im gonna repaint her face too, those bug-eyes are a bit freaky.

The thing is though, here I sit ranting about how this doll is abandoning the original identity of Dora the Explorer, yet I bought her. I think sometimes there are dolls that attain ‘so bad its good’ status. Like a no-brand doll I bought last summer whose packaging claimed was the girl fun time doll, all you need for fun times etc, and had only accessories for cleaning and putting on makeup. It was so hilarious, I just had to. Does anyone think Im being too harsh? I really think Mattel is capable of so much more than this, and they need to keep up with the times. Dolls like Lottie, Blondie Lox, even Barbie is trying to push a better message sometimes (yeah, I know Barbie is also Mattel. That makes it even dumber in my opinion).