Thursday, December 21, 2017

I'm Dreaming of a Colored Christmas

I'm thankful that Mattel has made the following changes on the Barbie Fashionista line this year:

1. Less pink in everything from fashion to accessories.
2. More unnatural hair colors
3. New face molds

What I'm not thankful for is the absence of some dolls, especially dolls of color, not only in the playline Fashionista line, but also in the collector dolls. Here are just some of the dolls that didn't make it to the Philippine toy shelves.

I would have paid full retail price for those, but since I was frustrated, I decided to wait until discounts were offered on all Mattel doll I'd buy. It really makes me smile, a smile that goes deep inside, whenever I see the white dolls not being sold even if they are already discounted, especially the blonde ones.

I feel like a broken record complaining about this over and over but I will not be silenced. I might get tired and rest for a while but I will keep talking about the things that matters to me. The least I could do about the situation is to speak up. Yes, I could buy them online but what about an ordinary person who wants to give a doll to a kid and at the same time send a message that beauty comes in different colors? Collectors can handle the hassle of buying online (yes, locally it is a hassle) because it's their passion but you can't expect that from a casual buyer.

What we see in toys, is usually what we are familiar with in ordinary our lives. When some dolls are restricted from entering the Philippines, it reminds me of immigrants or refugees being restricted entry in some foreign white country. Also, the absence of these dolls in the local toy shelves reflects the Filipino notion of beauty being connected to skin color, something a lot of local parents have no shame in passing on to their kids. The best selling beauty products are still related to skin whitening.

I've been collecting dolls for about 10 years now and I've heard about the problem on the lack of ethnic diversity in dolls from the time I started collecting.  I thought this has been addressed when they released the 1st wave of the Barbie Basics line but it was short-lived. While foreign markets are satisfied with the changes, I can't say the same for the local front. I'm dreaming of doll shelves with ethnic diversity unlike the ones I used to know.

Monday, October 30, 2017

From the stockpile

It has been years since I got her. I have dressed her in numerous outfits. I have taken a lot of photos of her. The thrift shop where I got her from has closed down. I have acquired new and more expensive dolls that didn't quite give me joy as she did. She remains a favorite. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Marvel Universe Jessica Jone aka Jewel

Despite the reduced articulation for the recent 4-inch Marvel Legends or more popularly known as Marvel Universe dolls, I was really interested in this Jessica Jones figure. It might be due to her unicorn-inspired color scheme. Who doesn't love pink hair, right?

She also has a good face sculpt, one of the prettiest for the toy line, to be honest. Her hair is gorge, not over the top. Her face is painted perfectly. She could use a lighter expression to match her unicorn-inspired look, though. Her tough expression is more appropriate to her jaded version. It was in her happier and naive days when Jessica Jones went by the name Jewel and wore this costume. A number of tragedies transformed her to a tough and serious character portrayed in the Netflix series.

If it wasn't for her molded belt, I would have bought a number of her. Without her belt, she could be a great base for custom female figures. It's good thing I only bought one, though. She has problematic knees.

Despite her shortcomings, I decided to get her at full price since we rarely get female characters. When we do, they usually sell out instantly.  And this is my first Marvel character with pink hair!

Monday, October 23, 2017

More Conversion

Here is the Jessica Jones action doll. This costs PhP749.75 while Hasbro sells it online for US$12.99. This is distributed locally by Playkit.

And here is the comparison of price conversion of some toys from Hasbro and Mattel.

From Mattel (distributed locally by Richwell/Richprime)
- Barbie 2017 Holiday doll = US$39.95 = PhP3,999.75 (PhP100.12 per US$)
- Barbie Fashionista = US$9.99 = PhP999.75 (PhP100.07 per US$)
- Justice League True-Moves (12-inch doll) = US$9.99 = PhP899.75 (PhP90.07 per US$)
- Justice League basic figure (6-inch) = US$9.99 = PhP899.75 (PhP90.07 per US$)

From Hasbro (distributed locally by Playkit)
- Star Wars Forces of Destiny doll = US$24.99 = PhP1,999.75 (PhP80.02 per US$)
- Star Wars (12-inch basic figure) = US$9.99 = PhP799.75 (PhP80.06 per US$)
- Marvel Legends Series (6-inch) = US$19.99 = P1,499.75 (PhP75.03 per US$)
- Marvel Legends Series (4-inch) = US$12.99 = PhP749.75 (PhP57.72 per US$)

The US$ prices are the prices posted on Habro or Mattel online shops. The PhP prices are the local retail prices prior to discounts, if any.

What a difference!!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Because there are far more serious problems

A Barbie Fashionista is listed at US$9.99 on the Mattel online shop, so is a Justice League basic doll (both 6-inch and 12-inch). Same price, right? You'd expect the same price for those toys locally  since they are being sold by the same seller, Richprime or Richwell. 

Nope. The Justice League toys cost PhP899.75 each (for both 6-inch and 12-inch) while the Fashionistas cost PhP999.75. The prices are for both online and physical stores. It is very puzzling how toys having the same original price will have different prices after conversion. Having realized this, I feel like I was being duped by Richprime/Richwell.

If one will reason out the size, like the bigger toy will cost more to ship or to display on a shelf, I'd like to point out that the conversion for the 6-inch and 12-inch Justice League toys are consistent.

While Richprime/Richwell has the right to price the items they're selling to whatever they want, it is just interesting to point out the a major difference between the Barbie dolls and the Justice League toys: the Barbie dolls are mainly intended for girls while the Justice League toys are intended for boys. Richprime/Richwell may have not nothing to do with that intention. It's just that local toy store layouts clearly separates toys for boys, girls and infants/toddlers. A big distributor like Richwell/Richprime does have a say on how and where the toys will be displayed.

No matter how offensive that may sound, local Barbie fans like me would probably just shrug it off and continue to support the brand and the local distributor. No big deal. I do live in country where 88% support the drug war even if 73% thinks that extra-judicial killings is involved.

Yes, we need a Wonder Woman.

Friday, March 10, 2017


After I finished the living room layout, I was ready to create the room box. Since I still have to get the materials in building the room, I decided to design the other rooms to see how those will be connected to the living room. After I included the other rooms in the design, I found out that my initial design for the living room is not acceptable, so I rearranged everything. Good thing it was easy with Planner 5D.

I wanted to keep the space  humble so I didn't want to keep increasing the room just because I could. I also wanted to design the house as if I would actually live in it. Details like the TV should be visible from the kitchen is a must. I also incorporated some feng shui tips I heard about, especially aligning doors, mirrors and beds.

Although I have incorporated the sizes of some items in hand, like the miniature bed, table, door and window, I still have to look for the kitchen set and measure it. If the kitchen set I have is bigger than the one in the plan, I may have to increase the kitchen in the plan, so nothing is set in stone.

The bedrooms are laid out but I still have to decide what wall color works best with a white bed, because that's what I have. The rooms lack any personality but I seem to like the nondescript-ness. There's a disconnect from the other rooms, though.

I wonder how these small spaces translate to an actual doll room box. Would it look too cramped? Can I properly take pictures from different angles?  I don't want to have to exert a lot of effort on the details and not be able to take pictures of it. I have a lot of considerations, I know!

Aside from the desktop version, Planner 5D also has an Android app. There's not much that can be done in the app but it keeps me entertained when I'm away from my desktop.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Virtual Room Box

Have you attempted creating a doll room box, starting from the floor, to the walls, to the little furniture only to find out that they don't match, or the room is too small for the furniture? If only you can get an idea of how things will be laid out or if the colors scheme is to your liking, you'd be more confident in starting a room box project. Since not all of us have an experience in interior design, chances are, our room boxes doesn't end up they way we imagined it.

Now, there is a tool that can help us turn the imagination into a plan. By plan, I mean measurements, layout, and tested color scheme. You can try Planner5d and create a virtual room box in both 2D and 3D.

The site is so easy to use. You can use the metric or English measurement system. For my room, I used the English system so it will be easier for me to convert to the right doll size. Although you need a paid account to access all the items you can add into the room, the free account has enough items you can use to stand in for the actual item you intend to use in your room box. Like the window I used here, it won't be how my window will actually look. I just want the frame to be that size and in that color.

The size and color of the items can be modified. You can move in and around the room in 3D mode. The wall can be made invisible if it blocks your view, like the 4th wall here.

I've been learning more about making dollhouse stuff and I really want to make one. After making this virtual room box, I think I'm gonna go ahead and make one. Even if you are not going to make an actual room box, there's a good chance you'll still enjoy creating a virtual room.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Asgardian Squad

I don't like Thor. (By Thor, I mean Marvel's Thor not the Norse god he was based on.)  He's a classic example of a white privileged man. I doubt he would be worthy of Mjölnir, the hammer, if he wasn't the son of Odin. Gods! I know right?

In the Avengers, Thor takes the role of a dumb blonde. I heard that in the upcoming Thor movie, they will showcase Thor's dumbness more making the story more comic than the 1st two. I just hope that something tragic, like Odinson's death, will cap off all the dumbness. I think it's just as natural as any twist or irony. Plus, I can't wait for a female Thor to grace the silver screen.

If there's something I like about Thor, it's his squad. Thor has an Asian ally! Hogun is probably the first Asian action doll from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know I had to get him. Thor also has a Black ally, Heimdall, but I still have to get me a Heimdall doll. The Lady Sif doll was harder to get because of not many were created to propagate the idea that female action dolls don't sell. (It is important to note that I started collecting these doll when I was able to buy Thor, Iron-man and Captain America dolls at heavily reduced prices because they didn't got sold.) Now, if only they make Fandral bisexual, that would be great. I only got Fandral and Volstagg because I don't want to break up the Warriors Three.

Heimdall is stationed at the Bifrost so he doesn't join much in Thor's battles, so I think I've completed Thor's squad. I wouldn't have been able to do so if the 4-inch figures are still popular. Many collectors are quitting their collection making it easier for me to complete my Asgardian squad.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Road Bot 1:18 Toyota Land Cruiser

I grew up enjoying the Transformers but I outgrew them. Even the live action movies seemed alien to me. The main reason I bought this Road Bot is that it can transform to a 1:18 scale vehicle, something I could use with my 4-inch action dolls. 

The packaging, with photos of the doors that can be opened, really intrigued me. I wondered if a 4-inch doll could fit inside. Although it would still work as a prop, it would be a lot better if someone can drive it. I tried to look for more info online before I decided to buy it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Superhero problem

Although fighting and violence are main ingredients in the lives of superheroes, not all of them intends to harm or kill their opponent. The Silver Surfer in the 90's animated TV series is an example. (I am not aware if the comic book version of the Silver Surfer is the same.) 

Starting off as the herald of Galactus, the Silver Surfer hunted for planets to feed his master. Galactus changed the Surfer's personality including his values towards life the moment he was given special powers. This made him forget about the teachings of his peaceful planet of origin, Zenn La. The moment he was reminded of his peace-loving origins, he rebelled against his master and vowed to protect life.

There were many moments where the Silver Surfer could just kill his opponents and get on with his life but he didn't take that path. The TV show ended abruptly with the hero seemingly failing in his mission. Season two never got produced so we have no way of knowing if the Surfer's non-violent ways was effective in saving the universe. But that's beside the point.

What I appreciate the most about the story of this superhero is the concern for life whether it's human, alien or villainous. I wish I could say the same for our local superheroes. I wonder why Darna doesn't try to capture her opponents and make them answer to the justice system. Why does Darna play judge and executioner? And why do a lot of Filipinos think that it's the right thing to do?

I heard that there will be an upcoming Darna movie. I hope that the people involved in that project will be more sensitive to the hero problem of extra-judicial killings. I want to see how Darna will value lives. I want to see a change in her after her first kill. I want to know how she will tackle the moral conflict of killing. I want her to have a conscience that haunts her. I want her to submit to a judicial system and not implement her vigilante type of justice. Do we want Darna to reflect the EJK culture of the Philippines?

I want the supporting characters to question her power and authority. I want them to think about a check and balance system. I don't want the towns folks to be hero-worshipping simpletons. I want them to be critical about Darna. If they are going to present characters similar to the older movies, they might as well just restore and re-release the old movies.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The 90's called

Would you believe that I learned about the Silver Surfer animated series (from 1998) just in this decade? Thanks to Youtube, I was able to watch the series last weekend. Too bad the series had to be cut short with that ending.

Friday, February 17, 2017

One more done on the to do's

I finished repainting the comic Vision although I may have to add one more item to my to-do list. I heard the movie Dr. Strange two pack is overpriced. I might just make one for myself.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Marvel Universe (aka 3.75-inch Marvel Legends) Classic X-men

I find their costumes cute but silly and I'm no 70's kid, but one of my favorite X-men stories The Dark Phoenix Saga was from that decade. I was introduced to it by the animated TV show from the 90's. I could have collected the action dolls with the 90's costume but completing the team was not an option made available by Hasbro. Up to this day, there hasn't been any 3.75-inch Storm doll in her white 90's uniform released by Hasbro. It has been around 8 years yet there is no sign that there will be one.

It must be annoying for other collectors to not be able to complete a team that belongs in the same period of time. No wonder people would rather cherry pick. They don't have the chance to collect them all. The only choice is to make the other characters yourself but would adults really have the time? There's alway better or more important things to do. Younger folks who have a lot of spare time can probably do it, but would they be interested in the older looks (90s below) of the characters? 

I guess that is one reason this toy line is dying. They always leave an empty space in the roster of characters that they don't intend to fill.