Saturday, April 30, 2016


I have three reasons why I bought The Barbie Look Sweet Tea doll. For starters, it has a more sensible price compared to most model muse dolls being sold locally. This doll is priced PhP2100. Nude Barbie Basics dolls are priced at least PhP1500, more if the doll is using a popular mold. The additional PhP600 is a small price to pay for the additional valuethe articulation of the doll, clothes and accessories. 

The doll is made in Indonesia. That's another good reason to buy. I guess this reason doesn't make sense if you don't live in a country where the territory is being challenged by China.

The most common reason for buying this doll, and for some it's the only reason, is the head mold used. The new mold has been made more accessible. The Karl head mold was previously used in hard-to-get dolls and by hard-to-get, I don't mean high-quality. 

Although there are enough reasons to buy this doll, I don't like it as it is. I decided to make the eyes smaller. I also softened the curls of the hair. This strikes a good balance between my taste and her original character.

A sweet to sultry transformation can be seen in the photo above, but with certain styling, she can still can be sweet and simple. That's how I like my models, versatile.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Little Steps

Filipinos can really be cruel toward dark-skinned people. Recently, a local celebrity posted a photo of her baby on Instagram.  A certain @joan132132 left a mean comment calling the six-month old baby "negra" (black) and "panget" (ugly). The netizens condemned the cruelty of user @joan132132 forcing her to terminate her account. Bianca Gonzales, the mother, narrated in a later post, how she herself was bullied for having dark skin when she was 10 years old. I really fear for my 8-year old nephew who has a dark skin.

A lot of Filipinos normally have dark skin. It's just sad that Filipinos were taught to hate themselves for what they are. It's deeply rooted, being a colony of people with light colored skin (like Spaniards, Americans and Japanese) for around three centuries. It cannot be easily unlearned in one go, especially if someone is benefiting from the idea that a light colored skin makes someone better, not even if you flood the toy shelves with black dolls.

But I still think that little steps matter. Having black dolls on local toy shelves help. It gives kids the idea that dark-skinned dolls, like people, are fun, too. It gives kids the opportunity to include dark-skinned people in their happy imagination. Through play maybe kids can associate positive feelings towards a dark-skinned person because most of us just can't.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Black Adjectives

I recently bought The Barbie Look Sweet Tea. I opted not to do the usual photo/review post since the doll has been criticized enough. I also don't  want to promote the doll mainly because of the marginal satisfaction one can get from it and to think that it costs around US$45 locally (more if bought from online sellers) versus US$30, the suggested price for America. I think there's a paradox there somewhere, a person from a third world country paying more than someone from a first world country for the same frivolous thing.

I'm digressing. I didn't want to talk today about paradox. I wanted to talk about adjectives, adjectives we associate with black dolls to be exact. In my previous post, I mentioned the need to associate positive images to the black dolls. Black dolls don't need to just be present. They also need to have a positive image.

The first adjective is artsy. In the original Fashionista line, the black doll was associated to the word artsy. The black doll was never labeled glam, sporty nor sweetie, only artsy. What's wrong with artsy? Artsy involves pretension. Between artsy and artistic, you want to go with artistic.

In my previous post, I mentioned how the black dolls from the Barbie Basics and The Barbie Look series sold out quickly. If you asked the collectors what they liked about the black model muse dolls, a lot would say they like how fierce the dolls were. Our second adjective is fierce. Fierceness can be seen as a show of power and we see power as a positive image. This kind of power is, however, associated with aggressiveness. Although aggressiveness can be called for a lot of the time, there are also other ways of displaying power, like in a cool, calm, and collected manner. The black presidential Barbie was never sold locally, neither were the queenly looking black Holiday dolls. The image of the black dolls displaying non-aggressive power didn't reach our country.

So today, I want to try another adjective on a black doll. In the Barbie Fashionista line, a white doll had a monopoly to the word "sweetie". In The Barbie Look line, this adjective was echoed by a white Sweet Tea doll. Why not associate the adjective sweet to someone black?

In recent releases, there were black dolls that portrayed sweetness. They just didn't reach our country. I also noticed that I don't have a lot of sweet looking black dolls. They either look fierce, somber, or beautifully pissed. My smiling black dolls don't look sweet with their heavy makeup. I could have been unconsciously made to think that black dolls can't be sweet. I had to do something.

The problem is I'm not black, so the image above doesn't have a black perspective. I don't know how it is to be black. I'm actually think that the doll I styled looks a little oreo. I am not saying black dolls should be dressed like that to make their image positive. I'm just saying white dolls don't have a monopoly for certain looks and adjectives.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Black Barbie Embargo

"I was nervous to go up the stage to receive my medal," my 8-year old nephew told me. I asked him why. "They laughed at me during practice because of my dark skin. I was afraid they would laugh at me again."

I may not have a dark skin, based on Filipino standards, and I have enjoyed some privileges based on my looks, but still I get little heart breaks every time anyone makes fun of someone dark-skinned like my nephew. That is why the on-going Black Barbie embargo is troubling for me.

I noticed the embargo on black Mattel dolls early last year when they started releasing these stiff Fashionista. Everyone in the lineup was available locally except for Nikki. The same thing happened with the Life in the Dreamhouse dolls. The Nikki doll was not sold locally. The Barbie Style dolls with ankle joints landed locally without Nikki nor Grace. While the western world was celebrating the racial diversity in the Barbie Fashionista lineup, our part of the world was short changed with the absence of certain dolls (pictured below) from the local toy stores. Not pictured but was also not made available locally was the dark-skinned Made To Move doll with the Asha head. In my 8 years of collecting Barbie dolls, I have never seen a black Holiday Barbie sold in the local primary market.

"Embargo" and "banned" may have been strong words and since the dolls mentioned above can be bought by hook via online sellers, with an extra cost, of course. Some dark-skinned dolls also made it to local toy shelves like the burgundy haired doll I bought. Those beach themed dolls always make made it to local toy shelves even if they are dark skinned. Dark skin and beaches goes together, I guess. Or were they made available because they look more Latina than Black??? (My burgundy haired doll look more Latina.) The collector dolls have, at least, better luck. Some of the locally sold The Barbie Look dolls have dark skin. The story changed recently.

Now, adult collectors no longer has easy access to dark-skinned doll as demonstrated by the absence of the Night Out doll from the last The Barbie Look release. This is silly because based on experience, starting from the very first Barbie Basics line, the blacks dolls are the first ones to get sold out. That is true even with the stiff Barbie Look dolls. In major toy stores, there is still a lot of white Barbie Look dolls available but none of the black ones (because they sold out). It makes no sense why the Night Out doll, which has a good chance of being sold out, was not sold locally. Could it be because of the recent change in the leadership in Mattel?

Initially, I thought our local distributor was at fault. Maybe they didn't order the dolls because black dolls don't sell well locally. I have no sales record to confirm that but it is what most Mattel apologists say. If you look at the things our local distributor has no control over, like the packaging, you will realize that even before the dolls were boxed, someone already made sure that they won't be officially distributed in certain markets. Did you notice how the black dolls are missing in the packaging of Barbie Fashionista and Made to Move dolls?

I can't think of a dark-skinned Filipino, especially with ethnic features, who is regarded with high esteem locally. We do have a dark-skinned Filipino in a high position in the government but a lot of people see him as a corrupt official. The only dark-skinned character my 8-year old nephew looks up to is Nick Fury and he's not even black in the comics. It is important to me to have positive images like power, beauty, kindness and intelligence, to name a few, to be associated to an image of someone with a dark skin. It's for my nephew. This is where Mattel and Richprime could have helped. 

I don't understand how Mattel is willing to promote diversity in certain parts of the world but not in others. It sounds a little discriminatory to me.

Why should you make my concern, your concern? If your a non-racist white person, you probably have  a number of Black friends. You wouldn't want your friends to experience what Elayne narrated in the video below. 

Let's keep this from happening ever again. Help associate positive images with black people and make these images available worldwide, not just where black people lives. This includes having black Barbie dolls on the Philippine toy shelves.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Reviewing reviews because we can do that.

I've been following this guy on Youtube for his toy reviews, mainly for the action dolls. I don't really find his reviews insightful. I just wanted to know what is available in the local market so I follow different local toy collectors in various social media. So basically, I don't treat them as toy reviews but as local toy news or advertisements. I just want to know what's available or how to get it, in case I'm interested.

It was a surprise for me that he posted a video review for fashion dolls.  Although I don't agree to a lot of what he said, I give him respect for doing that review.  Not a lot of men are comfortable in handling dolls. Dolls are like kryptonite to their son of Martha. 

In another review done by another guy, gender insensitivity is my major concern.

Although the Daredevil is the main character, I don't think the women are just there to be his love interests.  It's ironic that he finds that the womanizing part "didn't work." By that, I'm assuming he meant that it was not a good idea or it wasn't handled well. But he liked the idea of having the female casts pit against each other for the Daredevil's love. What's up with Team Elektra? Team Claire? Team Karen? I think it was a very male-centered view of the situation.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Decool 7105 Batman Tumbler

My nephew, being a Batman fan, asked for this as a reward for doing good in school. I thought I'll have a hard time hunting for this toy since this has been available since last year and with the popularity of this toy, I expected it to be sold out. Once again, I enjoy how easy it is to buy this. Availability has never been a problem here with bootlegos.

This is not from the last Superman/Batman movie, Sons of Marthas, but from the better in every way movie Dark Knight Trilogy.

The Lego set 7888 was copied by Decool but opted to skip the ice cream truck. That was very practical.

I have some issues with this set. Some pieces are slightly warped making them more difficult to snap into place. The cockpit cover is also not flush because of some warping.  The rear axle design can be flimsy. The rod holding the wheels may either break or bend. The rear wheels don't rotate easily as well. Also, Batman's head is stuck in the cowl.

Those issues are really minor considering this only costs PhP450 from Divisoria.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Removing The Mask of The Daredevil

While season 3 of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is painting the danger in the rise of super powered humans, the hero or vigilante question was built up in season 2 of Daredevil. Both will eventually lead to the issue of controlling and regulating these extra-ordinary beings by the government, which will be tackled in Captain America: Civil War. We'll be getting too far ahead with the story so we'll just dial it back to the Netflix series.

To paint the hero or vigilante question, the Daredevil's style of fighting crime is juxtaposed with that of the Punisher from the get-go. While both of their style is bloody, the Punisher leaves a lot gruesome dead bodies. The Daredevil just leaves a lot of broken bones. The Punisher is clearly a vigilante while it seemed like the Daredevil is a hero trying to save lives, not take it. Then comes Elektra to further reveal the Daredevil's character. The Daredevil continuously tried to respect life despite Elektra's rationalizing the need to take lives. He still appears to be a hero. He actually tried his darndest to be a hero even reaching the obnoxious level of disregarding his daytime responsibilities.

More than the expectedly awesome fight scenes leading to the fall of the villains and clues on what could still happen in case there will be a season 3, what I felt was most interesting in the finale episode was the revelation in the Daredevil's hero status. He unmasked himself with the following statements:

"...this is a part of me that I need and you're the only one who gets it. Without this I'm not alive, I'm not, not really. And I know that now, thanks to you."

Although not explicitly defined, which part he was referring to, the part that he needed, the part that Elektra got, one can assume that it was being the Daredevil, something he has kept a secret for the majority. And for those who knew, like Claire and Foggy, they are opposed to it. They don't get it.

In the same conversation with Elektra, the Daredevil was willing to abandon the city he was trying to protect so he can go disappear with her. What's the Daredevil without someone to save or worse forsaking the your beloved city? Not a hero, for sure. The part that makes him feel alive is not really the saving of lives. It's being a daredevil, the daring stunts, the danger. He can give up being a hero just to feel alive.


It seems too simplistic to reduce the Daredevil to someone who just get a kick out of living dangerously. One cannot discount the lives he saved. This season showed us that maybe the saving of lives is just an excuse so he can live as a daredevil. For me, it is a satisfying enough answer on whether the Daredevil is a hero or not; but hero or not, I enjoyed the Daredevil series.