The doll that made me eat my words

I’ve always sworn I’d never allow any “playline” dolls into my collection. I despised their skinny bodies and what were usually bulbous heads. (Of course, I have no problem collecting Ellowyne, so I’m a hypocrite in that area.) But I held my ground. Barbies (with the exception of Silkstones) were cheap and gaudy, Monster High dolls were freakish, and Bratz were just icky. Any of these dolls and their many knock-offs would look even cheaper than they already were if I put them next to a stylish Tonner or Numina doll. No, thank you. REAL collectors do not allow big-headed plastic freaks of nature into their collections.

And then I met McKeyla. I spotted her in the Toys R US store in Times Square in New York. I take a lot of business trips to New York City, and I always try to sneak in a visit to the ginormous Toys R Us in Times Square. I was walking through the doll department (of course), when I found this new line of dolls called “Project Mc (squared).” It is a series of 10-inch tween girls that aspire to be scientists. Some of them come with science “experiments” you can do at home. They are adorable, and I love the idea of selling aspiring scientists to little girls in the form of dolls their own age.

Then “McKeyla McAlistster” looked at me with her big green eyes inset in her bulbous head and her cute little t-shirt and shorts. “Buy me,” she whispered. “I won’t tell anyone. It’ll be our little secret.”

“But my other girls will make fun of you,” I told her. “They are all perfectly proportioned. And you look ridiculous with your big head and impossibly skinny legs and arms. You will be the laughing stock of my doll room.”

McKeyla looked hurt. Then she narrowed her eyes at me. “So what about Ellowyne, Prudence, and Rufus? Are they what you call ‘perfectly proportioned?’ Rumor has it that your own husband refers to Ellowyne as ‘that encephalitic doll.’ And my aspirations go far beyond suffering from chronic ennui.”

McKeyla was right. I looked at her price tag. Seventeen dollars. What kind of sophisticated doll collector spends $17 on a doll? That barely covers the postage of some of the dolls I buy.

I looked at McKeyla again and took a deep breath. “Ok,” I said, “but I’m not buying any of your friends.”

She looked at me knowingly. “Of course you’re not,” she said.

I picked up her box a little more roughly than necessary and headed for the checkout line.

After going back to my hotel, I took McKeyla out of her box and looked hard at her. She was adorable, and I loved her back story of wanting to be a scientist when she grew up. Each of the girls in the MC (squared) line represents one of the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). Given the paucity of girls who are encouraged to pursue these fields, it was great to see this effort to encourage girls to role play as tomorrow’s coders and mathematicians.

As far as McKeyla’s construction goes, her plastic body was pretty light and cheap, and her articulation was minimal. But her hair was thick and long and curly, and she had the perfect number of faint freckles across her nose. “Aren’t you glad you bought me?” she asked.

“I guess so,” I said.

“A doll doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be collectible,” she said, giving me a knowing look.

The damned thing was smart, too.

So today, a week after McKeyla entered my life, I found myself in Wal-Mart, shopping for a few household items. After a while, I succumbed to the siren song of the toy department and scanned the shelves for the E=Mc (squared) dolls. I soon found them. I sorted through McKeyla’s sisters, reminding myself of my determination not to furnish McKeyla with any siblings.

And then I saw Bryden Bandweth. She included a “science experiment” (materials to make a glow stick), and she wore a cute, casual, layered outfit. And then I saw her articulation. Apparently, the dolls in these more expensive doll + experiment kits had bodies with articulated elbows, wrists, and knees. A cute face AND articulation. For $25.

Dammit.

When I brought Bryden home, I tried to hide her from McKeyla for as long as possible to avoid her obnoxious “I told you so” stare. But I did intend to display them together, so I ultimately had to introduce them. I was right about McKeyla’s reaction.

“So you only lasted a week, huh?” she sneered.

“Oh, shut up,” I told her.

But this is it. I mean it. No more playline dolls. When I’m in NYC again next week, I will not go to Times Square.

I think.

(For a truly thorough review of McKeyla, check out The Toy Box Philosopher.)

8 thoughts on “The doll that made me eat my words

  1. I figure it’s a doll collection and I’m a grown woman…you can’t get any more embarrassing. So why should I be worried about what is in it. If we’re honest with ourselves this is our inner child playing, and children don’t have refined collectors tastes. In fact my collection is the only place in my house or my life where fuchsia pink lives. I don’t decorate with it and I certainly don’t wear it. But, when Barbie or Jem does they look glamorous and fun. Yes they’re play line, and I collect a lot of that. Because I like to shop for dolls at flea markets, thrift stores, or stores like Target, and that’s mainly what you find there. I like “finding” a doll and seeing what comes my way, rather than planning and saving and ordering. It’s more spontaneous and fun. I think Tali Tzror made a good point, ” Isn’t it true that today’s “playline” doll becomes tomorrow’s collectible? ” When your collection is mostly play line then the indulgence dolls that you’ve saved for that look like art really stand out, and usually have their own cases because they’re special. Yours is just in reverse, your play line will be huddling together in the Valley of the Haute dolls.

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  2. Haha, isn’t it funny how the toy department calls our name? I swear that I won’t go into the toy department, but somehow . . . I have so far stayed away from the Project MC2 dolls, because of the large heads, but they are pretty darn cute!

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  3. LOL. Funny story! And good to know that you can get some that are articulated. And the Ever After dolls are cute and articulated as well.

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  4. I know that feeling well. I started out dedicated to BJDs and action figures, and then suddenly fashion dolls (collector and playline) started creeping into my collection. And then they multiplied from there (I think the price diff

    But then even some of my pricier dolls are styled in a cheap and gaudy way, so maybe it was an easier transition for me!

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  5. I love your blog and sense of humor but i have to point out the obvious – Isn’t it true that today’s “playline” doll becomes tomorrow’s collectible?
    you do remember the Tonner Little Miss Revlon Girl that you bought a while ago began as a play line doll as you yourself pointed out?
    How about many other discontinued dolls who rise in value (hearts for hearts for example). And think on the positive side – play line dolls are less expensive and fragile and if one gets damaged (provided they are not discontinued) you can always easily replace it.
    I think you should just indulge in your new guilty pleasure and enjoy “the power of play” (dolls).

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  6. Hilarious. We didn’t have such dolls when I was a child, so I got the baby-doll ones (guess what my mother wanted me to be when I grew up). If I’d had one of these, they wouldn’t have had to buy me the microscope kit (safe, mostly) and the chemistry set (they probably should have rethought that one).

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  7. Don’t feel bad. I got mesmerized by the Ever After High dolls and have a few of them hiding around here. someplace. not sure how many, you know how it is.

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