On Saturday, Integrity held a webcast for its W Club members during which it announced its latest very impressive doll lines–four lines consisting of 27 dolls–and an “event doll” available exclusively to club members.
I was with my husband and son at Disney World all day on Saturday, so I missed the grand unveiling and simultaneous commentary by Integrity’s designers. But the ever-efficient W Club moderators immediately followed up the event with emails featuring detailed photos and descriptions of the dolls for everyone. When I returned to my house with a sleepy, cranky, four-year-old in tow, I had forgotten entirely about the event and just wanted to put the kid to bed for the night. I was looking forward to pouring a glass of wine to decompress after walking for miles around Animal Kingdom in 93-degree Florida heat for seven hours.
But upon propping up my feet and sipping that oh-so-satisfying first taste of pinot noir, I bolted upright with the recollection that I had sacrificed my viewing of the latest Integrity line for the sake of spending a family day with The Mouse. I ran to my laptop and began pouring over the latest Integrity doll offerings. My panic was justified. Hard-core Integrity collectors can sell out a popular 500-edition doll in a few hours. I liked a lot of what I saw, so I figured a lot of other people probably did too. Within a half-hour, I selected my two favorites (I tried to hold myself to one, but that was too difficult with so many beauties to choose from), and I hastily emailed my favorite “dealer.” (My husband loves that phrase.)
I didn’t have much hope that I would actually get both dolls. I was hoping that just one would be available. I should have known that the magnificent Ed Ferry from Happily Ever After would come through for me as usual, as he had a precious few left of his allotted number.
I spent the rest of the evening ignoring my poor husband (who had hoped for some shared quiet time of watching non-cartoons with me on TV) and going over the new doll lines with a more critical eye. I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised by how many individual dolls I liked. Integrity tends to be a bit hit-or-miss for me. I’ve passed on entire lines, and I have gone way beyond my budget on others. But this new collection showed off to great effect the classic, superior tailoring of the women’s suits and gowns that persuaded me to branch out into the 12-inch doll market to being with. I was also bowled over by Integrity’s 16-inch doll offering. It took a great amount of self-control to pass on those girls, lest I break the bank.
Rather than post photos of the entire line, which you can now see on other blogs and retailer sites, below I select my favorite and least-favorite of each of the four lines unveiled yesterday. In some cases, it was quite difficult to narrow my picks down to just one.
First up in the unveiling was Integrity’s latest pop culture license: Katy Keene. Katy was a comic-book star from the 1940s-1950s, so the clothing of her era fits in well with Integrity’s aesthetic. The dolls wear tailored suits and extravagant gowns, but the open-mouthed sculpts are a bit too “cartoony” for my tastes. Of course, they are depictions of a cartoon character, so that can hardly be considered a criticism. My favorite doll in this series in not Katy, but “Gloria Grandbuilt,” and her dark red suit and black fur wrap ooze sophistication. The blonde hair in the style of Veronica Lake really suits the era. I didn’t order her, but she was certainly in the running. “The Odds Are Stacked” Gloria sells for $145.
My least favorite of the Katy Keene dolls is “Blue Serenade.” My biggest complaint is her hair, which resembles a giant sausage roll, but, again,this may not be fair, as it is the signature style of the Katy Keene comic book character. The dress also looks awkward–the bodice looks sloppy, and it doesn’t seem to drape well. “Blue Serenade” Katy sells for $145.
Next up was Integrity’s FR16 dolls. These are right up my alley, as they are the same height as my beloved Tonners, and they also feature beautifully realistic female sculpts. I purchased two FR16 dolls last year, and I do not regret it. My favorite sculpts are back again this year, and they are wearing some terrific casual and formal ensembles. I was immediately able to name a favorite. Incognito Elsa Lin combined my favorite FR16 sculpt with a classic jacket, pencil skirt, and bright yellow tank. And that bouffant hair is perfect. I didn’t order her, but I am considering robbing a bank to do so. Elsa Lin sells for $175.
I’m guessing my least favorite of this line is one of the most popular among most collectors of this line. I applaud Integrity for being edgy and daring here. This doll has nothing in common at all with her FR16 sisters. And her flamboyant outfit appears well-executed. I just don’t like it. I think having her on my shelf would scare me. Exuberance Hanne Erikson sells for $200.
On to Fashion Royalty–Integrity’s oldest and most successful line. The vast majority of my Integrity dolls hail from this group. I adore many of the sculpts, and the FR girls have worn Jason Wu’s best fashions. It was difficult for me to choose a favorite from this group of eight, so I chose two–the two I selected for my own purchase. The tailored business suits and neutral and pastel colors that characterize this group make it hard for me to believe that these dolls weren’t chosen especially with my tastes in mind.
It was no surprise that Vanessa was my favorite here. I maintain that she continues to be Integrity’s best sculpt. While it is true that there have actually been three Vanessas, the differences, to me, are minute, and I love each one. I adore open-mouthed sculpts, but it is so difficult for sculptors to get them right so they don’t end up looking cartoony or buck-toothed. Refinement Vanessa Perrin wears a classic skirt, blouse, and coat ensemble. I love everything about her. She sells for $145.
The second dolls I chose to add to my collection is Perfect Reign Tatyana. I do not have this sculpt in my collection, and I am not all that familiar with her, but the second I saw this beauty staring at me from my computer screen, I knew I would order her. I also love the beading detail and draping of her gown. I can tell now that she will likely not be redressed after she arrives in my home. She looks perfect the way she is. Tatyana sells for $135.
My lease favorite FR pick is all about the outfit; I think the sculpt and hair are beautiful. But Adele deserves so very much better than a poofy prom gown designed for a teenager. I have nothing good to say about the unimaginative ensemble, so I’ll say nothing at all. Timeless Adele Makeda sells for $135.
And then there’s Poppy. There’s always Poppy. Nine, to be exact. And, IMHO, that’s nine Poppys too many. That’s nine Fashion Royalty and Nu Face dolls that could have been. I know Poppy Parker has a huge following, and I think it’s great that Integrity has done so well with her. I’ve really tried to like Poppy over the years. Starting with “The Reluctant Debutant” (which really was a lovely doll), I’ve purchased several of them. But each one I ultimately ended up selling. (Usually at a profit, so I can’t really complain.) I don’t know why I don’t like her. I can objectively recognize that she has a cute sculpt, and I’ve liked many of her ensembles. But Poppy ultimately leaves me cold, and the more she lingers around, the more she irritates me. The “space age” outfits that she’s been wearing lately are really grating. I was thinking (hoping?) that Poppy may be ready to make a graceful exit, but this strong showing of nine dolls proves me very wrong.
Darla Daly is my best pick of this group. While I’m not completely won over by her sculpt, I love her hair and colorful outfit. She sells for $120.
“Out of This World” is definitely where this Poppy should stay. I know that the “space age” aesthetic was a thing in the 60s, but it is really best left there. This Poppy looks like she’s wearing a cheap Astronaut Barbie outfit. And her makeup makes her look like she’s ready for the morgue.
And that’s a wrap for this post.
But before I sign off, I want to thank all of my readers from the bottom of my heart for their support and encouragement since I began this blog in January. I have heard from doll lovers all around the globe, and it is so gratifying to know that I am promoting the enjoyment of this creative hobby to so many people. My last post, the tongue-in-cheek “2015 WTF Doll Awards,” attracted nearly 700 readers–the most of any post I’ve written thus far. That tells me that doll people have a sense of humor about themselves and their passion, which makes me happier than ever to be a part of this global community of incredibly creative people. Happy reading, dear friends!