Trendy dolls with a healthy body image (and not just for girls)
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- Published on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 11:37
- Last Updated on 17 November 2014
- Monica Costa
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I personally love dolls and I am always excited when new dolls are launched. After becoming a mother of a boy who loves cars, planes, trucks and construction kits, I have developed an even bigger passion for dolls and have started collecting vintage Barbies. Surprised?! My collection has reached 300 dolls now… Maybe I am simply a nutter! But I cannot resist a new doll and this Christmas there are really amazing ones on the market who will be pleasing girls and mums alike.
Here is a list of my favourite trendy dolls.
Dolls with healthy body image
I remain a Barbie fan despite recent criticism over Barbie’s unrealistic body. Mattel has made it clear at the beginning of 2014 that the company has no intention to change its doll range because, according to Barbie’s lead designer, Kim Culmone, ‘girls do not compare their own bodies to Barbie’s anatomically impossible physique’. When I was a girl in the Seventies, I did not play with my Barbie thinking that I would want to look like her but simply because it was a fun doll to play with lots of accessories and infinite chances for role play. I never grew up with the idea of wanting to become Barbie. But in 2006 researchers from the University of Sussex wrote a psychological study in which they come to the conclusion that Barbie makes 5-8 years old girls want to be thin. That has caused a huge debate around body image and all fingers point to Barbie. I personally think that some toy manufacturers are trying to bite market share from Mattel.
Barbie will always be a fashion icon because it has changed the toy industry forever since 1959. How is it possible that only now girls seem affected by body image while they were fine before? Enough about Barbie, I won’t change my mind about it and I still love my 300 Barbie dolls.
This list of trendy dolls won’t include Barbie (as she is clearly the most innovative doll despite sales might have dropped due to a very competitive market). Instead it will cover anti-Barbie and other dolls that I believe stand out from the crowd.
The anti-Barbie or so called ‘Normal Barbie’
Artist Nickolay Lamm has recently launched a new Lammily Doll line and the much buzzed-about ‘Normal Barbie’ that uses real women’s measurements as part of an effort to promote a healthy body image. I haven’t seen one but from the above image it does not look glam although her look is definitely real considering its body type is shaped on an average American 19-year-old girl whose measurements were compiled by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The 3-D model looks healthier and more realistic than the iconic Barbie doll.
French looking grown-up dolls
Dolls’ sales in the UK are up 4% and interest is shifted now to larger grown-up play dolls like the French looking Petalina ones. Until quite recently it was only possible to find baby dolls in UK toy shops and it seems still quite difficult as a consumer to source good quality play dolls with a positive body image. The Petalina dolls meet this growing demand and have a sophisticated French look and feel and not just French names.
I absolutely love in particular Corolle Les Cheries Camille Soiree Theatre designed in France. She is 33cm in size and suitable for children from around the age of 5. She has an incredibly intense vanilla scent that makes you want to keep her with you everywhere. The scent feature is pretty unique and original. I have never come across this before. She can wear a Royal Blue Coat that is stunning and also fits a Barbie doll (in case you want to exchange clothes with them) 🙂
The Corolle dolls remind me of the ones I used to play with in the Seventies but they have a modern edge and up-to-date outfits. The clothes are very cute and made of quality fabric. All dolls are also hand-washable which is important considering girls would want to take the doll everywhere. The Petalina online store was founded by mumpreneur Cate O’Neill who loved dolls as a girl and played with Sashas and Sindy because she wasn’t allowed Barbie. She wanted to buy some dolls for her girls (who are now 14 and 10) but the choice then was awful. She was bored at home, good at internet shopping with a retail background, and Petalina was born. The ‘shop’ has been going for 8 years now. Cate told me: ‘My mission for Petalina is to allow little girls today to have the same fun with doll play that she had as a girl. It’s still very difficult to find the really good dolls in shops because they don’t sell like cheap baby dolls and barbies (still pretty) so they gather dust on the shelves of toy shops, become tatty, get marked down. Can’t blame the toy shop owners for not taking the risk really. Dolls are expensive to make as they take a lot of skill, but husbands don’t understand that because they don’t do anything. £100 on a doll? If it talked or walked maybe he would be convinced.’
Cate is so knowledgeable about the dolls’ market and she told me all about it. I want to share it with you: ‘There have been a few businesses selling child dolls for a long time. Kathe Kruse started 100 years ago in Germany making baby dolls which were a complete contrast to the porcelain mini adult type doll that children had had until then. She started to make child dolls using fabric stuffed with reindeer hair using mohair for hair, but they were terribly expensive. Later they introduced vinyl production and make gorgeous dolls today.
Gotz, another German company, started their business in the 1950s, selling from the back of a motor bike. The dolls were a huge hit and the company is still going in Germany but manufacture is in China now. In the meantime the doll industry was huge in the UK. I have a book about all the hard plastic dolls made during the 50s and 60s by Pedigree, Rosebud, Palitoy, Roddy and more. They are all closed down now. So for the last 20 – 30 years there haven’t been many dolls available in the UK other than baby dolls and fashion dolls. However, the doll world in the UK is definitely growing at the moment with several companies all starting up trying to emulate the success of American Girl. I think the most successful one will be Bonnie & Pearl as the quality and design is there, and the two founders are very driven with tons of ideas. Definitely one to watch.’
I asked Cate whether she is thinking of creating her own range of dolls and she said: ‘I would love to make dolls in the future if the opportunity arises. Petalina started out as a retailer of dolls from around the world for all ages and as time goes on I have become more of an expert on children’s dolls and doll play. Earlier this year we launched a range of dolls clothes called Petalina Girl which fit all our most popular dolls. They are made by a company that manufactures in Europe and I am thrilled with them. I now have the bug and who knows what we will make next!’.
Superhero Girl Doll
Lottie is the British answer to Barbie and we at London Mums absolutely adore her. Her body is ‘childlike’ – as you might expect as she is aged nine; her dimensions (with the exception of her head) are based upon the average proportions for a girl aged nine. Lottie doesn’t wear makeup, jewellery or high heels either. Lottie is for girls aged 3 – 8; i.e. a younger age group than, for example, Monster High dolls. She is super cute and has a sweet face as you can see from the pictures.
Now multi-award-winning Lottie™ has received a Superhero makeover by UK toymaker Arklu, which has introduced a NEW superhero outfit. The ‘Super Lottie’ outfit is the inspiration of six year old Lily, from Ohio, USA, who created the winning design as part of a global competition, independently judged by the Brave Girls Alliance, a global think tank of girl empowerment experts and allies, earlier in the year. As part of her entry, Lily was asked to define Super Lottie’s abilities. Lily’s response was one designed to inspire girls who play with Lottie dolls, to acknowledge and embrace their potential, and accept who they are: ‘Super Lottie has the power to be anything, to do anything, and to make the world a better place. She is unique and special in her own way’.
The competition was a result of a campaign launched to demonstrate that girls can be superheroes too. A poll of 100 parents with children aged 10-years and under conducted among parents, demonstrated a severe lack of female representation in the world of super-powers, where, of the top female superhero characters popularised by comic creators and film-makers, not one could be identified by 100% of respondents. In stark contrast, four male superhero characters could be identified by 100% of respondents; Superman, Spiderman, Batman and Hulk.
Lottie dolls became the first fashion dolls to display childlike characteristics; a healthy childlike body shape, childlike clothing (no make-up, high heels, tattoos, etc) and wholesome activities. In 2014, Arklu took things a step further by introducing a range of dolls exploring gender empowering, adventurous themes.
Read all about how the best selling British doll Lottie was born in our exclusive interview with her creator:
Dolls for creative playing
Moxie Girlz™ Magic Hair Stamp Designer™ dolls
In the Seventies and Eighties when we played with dolls, we used to cut their hair and paint over them because it was fun. The problem was that the dolls got ruined forever and our parents did not buy us any more. Self-expression is essential when encouraging little ones to embrace themselves as they grow up. Moxie Girlz™ has long been an advocate of supporting children through wholesome launches that focus on creative play and the new autumn launch is no different. Moxie Girlz™ aims to encourage girls to reach for their dreams and embrace their individuality through self- expression, friendships and fashion. Every girl has the strength to do something amazing. Anything is possible as long as you stay true to yourself and never give up on your dreams. Hair styling and accessorising creativity are what’s on offer from the new Moxie Girlz™ Magic Hair Stamp Designer™ doll this season.
Little girls will have lots of fun with the four hair stampers, glitter and hair clips that come with the doll. The Moxie Girlz™ Magic Hair Stamp Designer™ dolls hair streak changes colour when the hair stamper is applied with cold water creating amazing different shapes. Let the hair dry so the designs disappear, ready to be created all over again!
For added creative play the hair glitter and clips can be used in children’s hair too, so they can experiment with styles on their doll before replicating them on their own and their friend’s hair.
Moxie Girlz™ Magic Hair Stamp Designer™ is suitable for ages three plus and retails at around £24.99. I wish I had this doll when I was a little girl!
The Club Chic dolls
The Club Chic dolls range is new to the market but my first impression is that it will become very popular because it is a unique type of doll. It’s a sweet looking girlie bear which evokes no body image issues. Pippa with her big glasses seems to be a favourite from the range – or at least it’s London Mums’ favourite one. Vivid Imaginations has created these dolls to celebrate every girls’ uniqueness and individuality – hence the ‘bear to be different’ tagline of the range. Each bear doll has its own look, interests, career and hobbies which aims to encourage girls to be comfortable with who they are and to explore their own style and to not follow the crowd. The dedicated website allows girls to connect with their chosen girlie bear interactively. It’s a wonderful way to use technology to bring the doll alive.
The trendiest rag doll this Christmas is with no doubt Silver Cross Victoria dress-up rag doll with her three charming removable outfits. She has an overcoat, shoes, hat and scarf for outdoors, a beautiful floral dress for everyday, and a cute pyjamas set for bedtime. She is approximately 40cm tall and suitable for ages 18 months plus. Just like the Silver Cross Prams (London Mums’ has a vintage one on display at Eddie Catz Putney), Victoria is a very well made and with the highest quality fabrics. RRP £40
The trendiest and most revolutionary doll ever this Christmas has to be Finn™. Arklu, the company behind the hit ‘pro-girl’ fashion doll, Lottie, whose values address body image and premature sexualisation, has released a new line of boy dolls. Finn™ is the first of a kind, designed as a playtime buddy that young boys can relate to. It might feel weird at first to see boys playing with dolls but this is a male doll and not a superhero. He looks like a boy, with a realistic, healthy child-like body shape, and promotes wholesome play values. Standing at 18cm tall, Finn makes a great travel companion, actively encouraging children to be creative and imaginative, whilst nurturing an emotional balance; confidence, compassion and goodwill.
Arklu developed Finn in direct response to demand from parents wanting a ‘Lottie’ dolls for their boys. Unlike more traditional ‘action figure’ styled dolls, Finn embodies the spirit of childhood, playing as any boy might, without pushing the violent, aggressive, adult agendas.
The premise for Finn’s character has been developed around the notion of what it is to be a child – he loves the outdoors, playing sports, going on adventures, solving problems, and climbing trees. He lives on a fictional island called Branksea, sharing his adventures with his friends Lottie, Maya and pet dog, Biscuit the Beagle.
The new Finn range currently comprises two products, ‘Kite Flyer’ Finn and the ‘Gone Fishing’ accessory set.
Finn dresses like any boy might. ‘Kite Flyer’ Finn wears trendy cargo shorts, a star-theme Tee, gilet and skater sneakers, and comes complete with his very own diamond-shaped Kite accessory. The ‘Gone Fishing’ accessory set comprises cargo short, a long sleeved shark-themed Tee, deck shoes, and comes with a fishing rod and fish.
Finn is presented in a colourful, themed, reusable box with handy carry handle; ideal for gifting and perfect for transporting. The packaging has been created with minimal plastic packaging, making it kinder to the environment and easier for children to open by themselves.
Frozen Singing Dolls
Frozen is now one of Disney’s most popular movies of all times. Anna and Elsa singing dolls help kids re-create their own Frozen worlds at home. With beautifully detailed dresses and hair, they also light up and sing a well-loved song from the film. RRP £25.00 each
Snow Glow Elsa Toddler Doll by Jakks
With a touch of her magical snowflake necklace hear Elsa talk to her friends and watch the magic as her dress lights up. Raise her arm and watch her snowflake necklace light up while it plays the song “Let it Go” from the number one animated movie Frozen. RRP £34.99 – Available in all good retailers.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums