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?

Impact – Curly Girls United Dolls


Sometimes your hobby intersects with the ability to help. One of the best things about dolls as a hobby is the impact they have from play to work to dreams. Margaret from CGUD has such a great concept, I’ll let you check it out yourself on IndieGogo. I’ve also added the dolls to Dollation so you can dream there too.

I ordered the lot of them since I could not decide. Drop a note below and tell me who your favorite is and if you can support Margaret’s dream, please do. We curly girls must stick together (even if your curls are a mere dream too).

Thanks for checking them out!


my doll Friday – Gywnn


Once upon a time, the doll world thought, “Gee, there can’t possibly be any new dolls coming out that everyone doesn’t know about” and Barnes and Noble’s said, “how about in time for the holidays?” espari was here.

Gywnn is an espari Lily Ria doll from fall 2014.

Lily Ria 2014 image 1

Many espari fashions are designed to be reversible including Lily’s vest.

Lily Ria 2014 image 2

This does allow for a variety of looks with one purchase.  No other doll line is currently incorporating this functionality of play into their designs.  Additional clothing packs also feature items designed for multiple looks.

I originally went to Barnes and Noble to look at Marnie, the dark skinned doll.


Immediately I noticed that although all four espari dolls look very unique because of coloring choices, they all have the same face mold.  That was somewhat disappointing to me since I had planned to get two so they could be buddies (not cousins, not sisters).  I decided I would just get one doll.  Why Lily Ria?  She reminded me of my friend, Gwen.  I immediately had a whole storyline in my head when my daughter suggested Gywnn as a variation.  (Hint: there are dragons).

espari and (the older) Journey Girls share similar body types and eyes.  Although I have not seen myself or found one online, I believe the Newberry dolls available at Sears Canada also share the same body and eyes (if not the also same face sculpt with espari).

Here’s Gywnn looking pensive…


Gywnn without her vest.  I like the simpleness of the layered shirt look over the leggings.  One of my favorite things about Gywnn is that, although she came without socks, there are plastic bags protecting her feet from any staining from her shoes.IMG_4187b

The espari expression is simple yet very fresh in the current market.

IMG_4189 Here’s my artsy (and favorite) photo of Gywnn from her first photo shoot.

IMG_4190As you can see, depending on lighting and angles, the faces of espari dolls can easily take on different looks.  The pudginess of their cheeks combined with the almost pinched areas around the outside of the eyes gives them a very realistic sculpt but creates this neat effect that I think their professional marketing photos don’t quite capture. At first I thought maybe they had changed the sculpt between concept and sale but after taking several photos myself, I think it’s just great lighting…and what girl doesn’t benefit from great lighting?

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

BN large

JG Adventures

Doll Diaries logo

my doll Friday – Laurel


The first 18 inch doll I bought for myself was Stardust Classics Laurel the Woodfairy doll.  I was already a mother of three by this time with three children with their own dolls.  I had loved Laurel from the first catalog I saw – what curly girl could resist those locks?  As a young and poor mum, I didn’t expect to own her.  I saved catalogs like wishes though and then one day, the Stardust Classics dolls went on close out.  I picked up my 1997 Laurel (late model) for $19 and some change plus shipping but I had my doll!

Laurel in her original publicity photo (link to host sites for all images that are not mine):

biglaurel from carpetina

Laurel had four stories.  I apparently have two…


…and the blue dress!

I remember wanting her whole catalog but I just couldn’t afford it.  I didn’t get her accessories but I do have her wings (not shown) and original outfit.


I have tried to rename Laurel a few times but she just ends up back as Laurel so I think that’s her name.  Laurel, at our house, is the animal collector.  They simply love her.  This is Laurel’s friend, Bunny.  (Laurel doesn’t own any animals, they simply end up around her).

hand and foot

One of my favorite things about Laurel (past her hair) is the detail in her sculpt.  Look at those tiny toes and fingernails!


Even the ocapi (from the Philadelphia Zoo) loves to hang out with Laurel. (Laurel likes to play dress up, this is a Build A Bear’s Merida dress).

Finding street clothes for Laurel is tricky because she’s SO skinny compared to AGs.  She is all vinyl and a very slim vinyl.

eurogirls clothes

Guess who’s clothes fit her?  EuroGirl!  She is taller than the EuroGirl dolls so anything but pants fit well.  My suspicion is that The Dolls House pants will be fine. (mental note: try that)

Laurel also plays with Lily on a fairly regular basis…

lily the unicorn

I am working on a Tree House for Laurel with some fairy styled decor.  She is very excited about it!

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

just magic logo

Doll Diaries logo

carpetina sm