dolls of color in the UK

As we here in America are finally getting a American Girl of the Year who is dark skinned, the UK seems to be witnessing the same phenomenon we struggled with for so many year…no dark skinned dolls in stores.

The BBC has a fine article out here: (Reference only PDF: where-are-the-black-dolls-in-high-street-stores_-bbc-news)

What made me really sad about this article is that I looked up what I know was a best selling black doll in the UK from the dolls house…and she’s gone, the whole website is.


This was Star. Hopefully it’s a glitch on the website and not a farewell (although lack of mention it the BBC article doesn’t leave me super hopeful).


Grace is still available (in several outfits/themes) from My London Girl (yes, she’s a Lotus doll!) as is Jermaine (a boy!)…(click on images for links)


But these ARE mailorder so the in store issue seems to be as real across the pond as it is here. You’ve heard me complain that I can’t find dolls of color at my local Targets but I can if I go to Targets in other areas even ten minutes farther.  Our Toys R Us’ are generally better, I think, only because they serve larger populations that the Targets who clearly “target” racially. However, our Walmarts have the same problem.

Is it wrong to target sales racially? Heck yes. If the norm is that only white dolls are seen by kids in stores then there is no normal for children of color to see the world as anything else. It’s time to end that.

My 2017 message for the doll play world is that we’ve fought the battle in equality for boys and girls having access to dolls; it’s time to teach how important dolls of color are no matter what continent you’re on. The new American Girls Gabriela and Melody will help with that (despite their “whitewashed” features) but it’s up to us to support those making the dolls of color with natural, varied skin tones with non-European features if we want to see changes in doll availability and frankly, how our world works.

I’ve made it no secret that I’m disappointed with Mattel for what appears to be a poorly executed copy of so many other of their products with GOTY Gabriela’s line. It’s been nice to read on LADL and my Facebook groups that others share this assessment. Small Dolls in a Big World has a great commentary on the new items as well as an awesome story called Out with the Old, In with the New that is well worth checking out.

If you’re a little disgruntled, like me, you might want consider these dolls of color as alternatives or friends for Gabriela and Melody (click on images for current sale sites).


This is Kayla from Adora.


Meet Honey, Kayla and Monica from Curly Girls United


These are the Izuki dolls (there are a couple new ones too).


This is Sabrina, a limited edition Lotus doll from Today’s Girl available via Constructive Playthings.

Sabrina is a cloth bodied doll, like American Girl dolls. The others are slim bodied dolls. I have most of these that I bought without endorsement and I appreciate them all. Being a curly girl myself, I am thrilled at the masterful production of the Curly Girls United.

Of course, there are Our Generation dolls from Target: Abrianna, Anaya, Cecee (retro), HadiaHaven, Maeva, Jewelry MaevaMeagan, and Nahla who share the original Battat Vanessa face mold. And Nia and Neveah who share a new face mold (first used for Zuri, who may be available in stores but was not listed on Target’s current website).

I also want to give a mini shout out to the Divah Dolls although, good luck finding them (some Targets and Walmarts depending on where you are as well as Amazon). Check out the line at Dollation here.

There are dolls of color in other popular lines such as My Life As and Journey Girls that I’m not mentioning here because well, they’re all the same face mold as their other dolls. (boo)

So…let’s support the movement towards inclusion with our wallets and emails. Let companies know what matters to you.

Here’s to a colorful 2017! Love you, Dollings!


PS: Another thing I do when I see dolls of color on clearance is scoop them up to donate to our local charities. We have plenty of children in need of dollies! Those sales count for manufacturers too.

my doll Friday – Welcome Curly Girls United!

MDF tealcurly girls

Welcome Curly Girls United from Brown Eyed Dolls! Yes, I bought all three because they are each so unique and lovely.

First we have Nomi, who is sold as Kayla.

cg nomi

Nomi has the darkest skin. It is such a pleasant color brown because it is so natural looking as is her face paint. Next we have Molly, originally known as Monica.

cg molly

I have a friend named Molly who is beautiful like this Molly. Her pale skin is also amazing and realistic. Lastly, we have Honey who was named by the also beautiful and amazing Debbie from Black Doll Collecting.

cg honey

Each of the dolls brings something special to the dollhouse. I’m very excited they’re here!

The dolls have a brand marking on the backs of their heads:

cg logo nomi

Now, for the big question on everyone’s mind, what are they like compared to AG? It’s tough to still measure every doll that comes along against AG since AG’s own standards have changed over the years. They are, however, still the benchmark for comparison because most people have access to the comparisons to them for other brands. I used Saige for my AG rep. She loves to rep. (sorry for the blurs…darned auto focus).

cg saige nomi nake fronts

From the front, we can see the CGU have chest plates like JG. Their arms and legs are much skinnier. Their feet are much skinnier rendering shoe sharing as a no.

cg saige nomi nake feet

Their toes are also squared out from the front view with flat footed bottoms.

cg saige nomi nake backs

From the back, you might think Saige has a bigger middle. From the side, it’s clear she’s got a bigger caboose.
cg saige nomi nake sides

CGU stand up straight much better than AG. Saige has to lean a little to compensate for the weight of her hair. We curly girls generally don’t. 😉

cg saige nomi

For fun, the girls swapped outfits before getting back in their meet outfits. Nomi looks lovely in Saige’s dress (truth be told, most dolls do). Saige looks a bit uncomfortable as Nomi’s black leggings are too tight for her so Nomi’s top looks like more like a swimsuit cover up than a dress. Although short in cut for them both, the top does fit Saige’s larger middle. The top is also short as a dress for Nomi.

cg nomi side

Nomi came with pretty shiny silver shoes too (no panties). Honey’s sweatsuit has the CGU logo on the back. Her jacket comes off and she can wear her pretty pink shirt. She has light pink booties. I guess they could be sneakers. Molly comes in a groovy dress with matching headband (I put it around her waist) and darling white slip ons with an embroidered flower on each. She also came with the pink glasses (making her my only doll besides Trinity to regularly have glasses).

The dolls have great movement in the arms…I just realized I didn’t make any of them sit in the photoshoot…shoot. They sit on the ground nicely but not in chairs. Like most straight kneed dolls, they look awkward with their legs out to each side. They seem very sturdy though. The head has great movement although with two out of three I had to “pop” the head to get the full range of motion (lift slightly and pull) to get the poses I wanted.

What drew me to these dolls is their clever little expression. My daughter told me she thinks it’s the prettiest face mold she’s seen for a doll that isn’t AG. That’s high praise that I can’t say I disagree with. All of my doll brands are pretty to me or I wouldn’t have them. There is something fetching about this mold though (great job, CGU!).

curly girls

The IndieGogo campaign to launch the CGU allowed me to get all three dolls at a great price. Another doll was listed for potential production. (Their photo, links to site)


If you don’t know how I feel about red-headed curly girls then we may have to rethink our friendship…just kidding. It’s sufficient to say that I love them. (I dyed my hair for so long that many people were crushed to learn I was not a natural redhead. My boss was heartbroken and confused when I went back to my dirty blonde). If this doll does become available, I am sure I will add her and I will call her Celie (because she may not have been first but she is mighty important).

Do you have a favorite?

my doll Friday – Josephine

MDF uber pinkIMG_5931 name

Hello, Josephine! Welcome to the dollhouse! Josephine is the Our Generation Hair Play doll, Zuri.


The face mold used for this doll is only the second face mold used on dark skinned dolls made by Battat. The original mold goes back to the Collector’s Lane dolls and was originally used on a doll named Vanessa. It the same mold used for all other dark skinned Battat, including OG, dolls. The other interesting thing about Zuri is that she is the only Hair Play doll whose name did not start with a P.


Our pretty little Josephine comes in a floral print orange dress with lace detail, brown belt and molded shoes.


Her side profile is quite lovely.


Her long hair seems more a burden to me than an asset but I’ve never been one for hair play.


Josephine also came with lovely light green panties.


A side view of her hair shows the knob on her back that allows you to control the braided parts (they retract, not fully, and can be pulled back out as desired for different hairstyles). The hair itself gets frizzy fast so I pulled it back like this and will leave it until I figure out what to do with it. It looks sleek but it went everywhere when I unbound it.


If you turn the knob or push the button, that allows those braids to move.


Not being too crazy about the original dress, I tried a new dress I picked up at the Dollie & Me outlet in Lancaster. I think it looks quite nice. It’s a once piece outfit with velcro up the whole back.


Here’s Josie with each of the other Battat face molds that I have (I do not have the open mouth with teeth one) by their manufacturers’ names: May Lee, Abrianna, Zuri, June


There is a quite a difference in these molds.

Here is our formal Josephine Theresa Monaghan. The dress is from Carpetina’s Girlfriend’s Collection.


Here is my favorite photo. It looks so regal!


my doll Friday – Matthias

MDF purpIMG_5893b Matthius

We have named our new boy doll Matthais but we’ve been calling him Matty. He was a Today’s Girl from Constructive Playthings Limited Edition Sabrina that I picked up on Zulily.

Matty got a haircut but didn’t need anything else to look boyish. The face paint on Today’s Girl is quite a natural one to begin with.


He is a Lotus doll (shown above wearing Carter’s preemie clothes). Lotus also makes Journey Girls, Newberry and espari dolls.


IMG_5887He did not come with paint on his nails. Look at that little foot!

IMG_5888Someone nicely sent me the bike seat from Newberry for my birthday and the outfit was perfect for Matty. The outfit is from the Newberry Biking Set. It came with the shoes, top, shorts and sunglasses.IMG_5890b



While I was sad to see all of Sabrina’s curls disappear, I think Matty’s hair looks great.

I had really wanted a My London Girl Doll Jermaine but at 79 £ plus 29.95 £ shipping, that wasn’t happening any time soon. As you can see, he is also a Lotus doll. If it is not the identical face mold, it’s pretty darned close. (Lotus makes slight alterations to their molds sometimes).


Another contender stateside had been My Pal for Autism Awareness at $54.99 plus shipping.


I got my Sabrina doll on Zulily for $19.99. Can’t beat that!


Matty was chilling with Melody last week. Our newest dollhouse member arrived this week so Matty showed her the ropes. She is an Our Generation Zuri.  She doesn’t quite look like a Zuri to me so we shall see what sticks and report back.

my doll Friday – Melody Green

MDF orangeYB name

Melody Green comes direct from Zulily this past summer. She has a sweet baby style face with a pouty expression. I knew when I ordered her that her name was going to be Melody. Imagine my surprise when AG used that name too…


This face mold either is or is like  one previously used by Harmony Club Dolls. (They purchase lots of dolls at a time so their line changes over time depending on their supplier). Since this doll is new, she is not a HC Doll. She has no body tag or head stamp.

Here Melody borrow’s Today’s Girl Sabrina‘s outfit:



Sabrina got a hair cut and will likely get more of a trim or a wig…I haven’t decided yet. I’ve wanted a dark skinned boy doll for awhile. I think the doll transitioned well enough without too much to change (maybe a little more trim up around the ears).


Melody is tagless and has no marks on the back of her head.

Have you seen this facemold anywhere else? (more about little froggy man – that’s the blob on his t – next week). What do you think?

PS I have not forgotten about a giveaway…I’m just trying to figure out what to give away. If you have suggestions, please put them back on the original post. Thanks!

my doll Friday – Nora


Nora was a gift from a doll friend who knew I wanted this particular doll.  She is a My Life As by CitiToy Hairstylist doll debuting in 2014 and still available.

MLA hairstylist african american 2014My Walmart did not have her when I went to look at the new My LIfe As dolls last year but had the fabulous redhead, Shelly. Nora and Shelly (and every other CitiToy MLA) share the same face mold. (The angles in the shots below are SLIGHTLY off)

MLA faces

Nora and Shelly share the same brown eyes.


Nora’s original outfit is ok. I do like it better than Kiki‘s hairstylist outfit. The non-functional but high play value scissors are removable from the apron which is a separate clothing piece (they open and close but not cut). The sneaks have enough sole to allow her to stand well but as with Shelly, her stiff hip joints make a lot of things more difficult.  Both dolls are loosening up with use.

Nora had been on my wish list beacuse of her hair. It’s a pretty brown. The blue streak is not removable and doesn’t do anything for me but she’s a hairstylist by trade so we’ll chalk it up to fun for her. I may eventually remove it. Her hair is definitely more full in her promo photo but Nora prefers a little tameness.


If you look closely at our recent beach photoshoot, you can see one of the biggest difference in the MLA doll between the Madame Alexander Kiki and the CitiToy Nora – the toes! Nora’s toes are defined and quite adorable while Kiki has a flat undertoe.  I did not expect to find a level of detail on the non-MA doll that I liked better but I love Nora’s little toes!

CitiToy and Walmart got this doll right for the doll market.  She can be found elsewhere so here are some more spots to check her out (click any image for a link to a source site always on MDC). So as Lavar Burton said, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.”

More around the web:

MLA logo

Toy Box Philosopher



my doll Friday – Rembrandt


Someone scored what she thought was a Lotus Gali Girl this week at a thrift shop and shared it online which got me thinking about my Lotus girls. I have two, Rembrandt aka Remi and Leah both of whom are Today’s Girl from Constructive Playthings.  Lotus also makes/made Gali Girls (no new stock known), New York Doll Collection (new in box on Overstock), My London Doll, Newberry and others.

CP Today's Girl Olivia bought 2014

Remi is a Today’s Girl Olivia circa pre-2013.  I bought her in 2014 on sale. The newest version looks like this:

Olivia 2013

This lighter version of Olivia has been available since 2013.

For a similiar complexion now, there is the My London Doll Grace (also available since at least 2013).

Grace 2013Grace comes in several outfit options. I actually bought Remi because I wanted a more economical version of My London Doll Jermaine (sans overseas shipping and taxes).

Jermaine 2014

I fell in love with Remi’s hair when I opened her box so she didn’t make it to being a boy (yet, maybe she will one day).

Remi got a neutral name and is largely gender unassigned at the moment in the dollhouse.  She/he prefers jeans and sneakers so everyone is cool with just letting Remi be Remi (and yes, the name came from Sliders).


Remi’s hair is SO nice and thick compared to other doll lines.


You see that?  Yup, a little pigeon toeing going on here.


A close up of the face shows some creativity in the painting.  Notice the white paint to make the eyes seem more open and like they have lids?  How about those lips?  Just a hint of color on the cheeks too…but those eyes!

Remi also has what I call wrench hands.


This isn’t a bad quality.  It just means there’s more space between the base of the thumb and first finger forming a wrench like shape. (Go ahead, look at your own hands.  You probably don’t have that much space there). The finger and toenails are nicely sculpted.


More around the web (click images for links):

Doll Diaries logo


my doll Friday – Taylor


Taylor is one of the Positively Perfect Divah Collection dolls made by the World of EPI.  She was purchased from Walmart.  There’s been a lot of buzz about these dolls in the 18″ doll club – Sewing and Creative Crafts for 18 inch Dolls group on Facebook (search for the group if you’re a sewer and on Facebook – these folks are GREAT) lately since people keep finding these dolls on clearance.  My Walmart hasn’t had them on clearance and, in fact, I had to go to Florida to find some of them.  My Divah’s Zair, Diana and Abrielle are still in their boxes but were all bought before Taylor.  Taylor wasn’t released as part of the original offerings and came out a year late in 2013.  Each of the dolls has a unique skin tone and hair but the same face mold.


Taylor is described as having a chocolate skin tone.


Like all the Divah’s she has the widow’s peak in her rooted hair.  It’s not obvious upon purchase as her hat covers it while she’s in her box.  Here, her hat is pulled back but still attached to her head with the original plastic bits.

IMG_4395Taylor cannot stand on her own.  Part of the buzz in the sewing group has been about adding armature to the dolls.  I think that’s a great idea and I will be trying it.

IMG_4388bI had to lighten this photo.  For some reason, it was really dark.  You can see Taylor’s original soft sewn boots that are just fabric.  Her body is understuffed making her perfectly huggable but not good at modeling.


Her legs start just below the skirt so you can see how she has some stability issues.

IMG_4398Taylor does come with painted on earrings and adorable side braids.

This photo comes from velocicrafter’s tumbler (click image for link) but it shows Taylor with other brown skinned dolls and their proportions very well. It also shows that sometimes, the body of the Divah dolls wasn’t always skin toned (here, it’s white).

velocicrafter_tumblr_comDivah dolls are a very thrifty alternative for young girls and display models.  I think they have beautiful faces and I really appreciate the concept behind them.

More around the web (click images for links):


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my doll Friday – Abbie K’Dhabi


Abbie K’Dhabi is an Our Generation Abrianna doll from Battat circa 1998.

Battat OG Abrianna

Her sculpt was one of the earliest brown skin dolls in the 18 inch marketplace and remains a staple to date.  There are two new dolls out with her face mold, green eyed Anaya and straight haired Maeva in addition to a new darker skinned Abrianna. (While looking for related links for Abbie, I did find an interesting tidbit about a new Asian doll from OG hereyou’re welcome, Dollings).


Here’s my little Abbie in her box – yup, that’s the old box.  This Abbie library version was also available with the new boxes but had slightly different accessories.  Mine came with the books and bag as shown above.

And out of the box…

IMG_20140814_174010_159 Abbie has beautiful sleep eyes with matching lids.  The influence of the Collector’s Lane series from Battat remains solely in OG in the Abrianna sculpt. The Collector’s Lane Vanessa doll was the original owner of this face sculpt (and then OG Kayla before Abrianna).IMG_4258Here’s Abbie with Abby Rhoades.  See how Abbie looks more cafe while Abby is more cocoa?

IMG_4267I pondered whether their faces were slightly different before concluding that the eyebrows play a large role in the new Abby’s appearance. I am pleased to have both dolls especially since where I live, the Targets do not carry a huge selection of brown skin dolls.  I think I actually bought Abbie in Ohio when I was visiting my grandmother many years ago.  All of the dolls with this face sculpt have been non-poseable to my knowledge.

The library version (yes, she comes with a library card!) of Abrianna is no longer featured on but here’s her old “trading card” visage.

OG Abrianna

More around the web (click on image for link):

the strong logo-tinkertoy

TexasWaterTowers logo

my doll Friday – Maya

MDF yellowMAYA

2013 Maya

Maya is an 18 inch Götz doll from Pottery Barn Kids.  She was first available in the fall of 2012 along with three other girl dolls, blond Ashleigh, redhead Megan and brunette Marianne.

Fall 2013 PB Gotz Line girls only2

In 2013, PBK added a boy, Henry, to their line up.  They also featured some special edition cultural heritage themed dolls (L-R): Mei, Zola, Prita and Carmen.


As you can see, Maya shares her face with Zola.  Previously Götz used this face mold on light skinned dolls as well.  Doll Diaries features one of these dolls here.


The 2003 Precious Day Collection also included a darker skinned doll with the same face mold.  She was marketed as Hispanic and her name was Alicia.  (Precious Day dolls came after the Little Sisters line).

Another place this face mold was found is the now defunct Beautiful Girlhood line from Vision Forum.  The dolls and accessories were pretty cool but the ethics and political/religious tension of the marketing of the company appears to have caused its own decline. (Another dark skinned doll, Evangeline, was also available).

Beautiful Girlhood dark

A closer look at Maya’s profile reveals typical Götz styling with younger childlike features.  Her eyes do open and close.  This mold is very childlike and pleasant but not highly expressive.  It has an innocent quality to it much like Bittys do.


Another interesting “feature” of these 18 inch PBK dolls is a matter of stuffing…


…more specifically, her derrière. She stands well.  She sits great but as you can see from the above photo, she does not have a linear stance.  Her caboose juts out behind her legs and continues up a very solid trunk.

IMG_4460Maya’s issue means pants gets tricky but this OG dress fits beautifully.  (Her socks here are her own.  The shoes are not the ones that come with dress).  Interestingly, Maya’s original outfit did not include panties.

Overall, I really like Maya.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in her out there in the web world which is why this post has a little more doll specific information than normal.  She is still available at PBK on a deep discount.  I got my Maya on a sale last holiday season with free shipping.  The newer PBK dolls are slightly taller but have the same face molds.  The Maya equivalent is called Zoey and she has long straight hair and no bangs (which appears to be a unique thing for this face mold).  Maya, I think, will make an excellent BFF for another retro doll given her hairstyle and natural coloring.

More around the web (please click on images for links):

Doll Diaries logo

ebay logo (doll collectors guide)