LIBERATION 33: Real Friends Fashion Deluxe Set

Perhaps because of the decision that Mattel and Toys ‘R’ Us had conspired to fix prices on fashion dolls, Toys ‘R’ Us is now producing their own line of low-end 11.5 inch dolls. The ‘Real Friends’ line, tactfully displayed in a separate aisle from the B-girl, has dolls, play sets, and tons of furniture, all at low price points. In order to get a full feel for the quality of these dolls and accessories, I chose the ‘Fashion Deluxe Set’ for this review, which includes a doll, multiple outfits, and a wagon load of accessories, all for the bargain price of US$9.99. Additional modeling this week is provided by Western Stamping Tara Lynn, who was promised her choice of outfits for her help. After all, what are real friends for?

The Doll

This face bears a certain striking similarity to the main model for a prominent toy company. That said, the face mold is nicely executed, with a soft smile and ever-so-slightly angled eyes. Her eyes are blue and lavender. Facial makeup is extremely minimal: pale mauve lips, the merest trace of blue eyeshadow, and no blush. Her eyebrows are high and very thin, with an exaggerated arch. Her long, slightly wavy hair is a golden platinum color. Although her hair is designed to be scooped back from her face, it also has a tightly rooted center part. She is shown here wearing the tiny silver stud earrings she was packaged wearing: these do come out, and several replacement pairs are included in this set!

Standing next to Tara Lynn, it is easy to see that the ‘Real Friends’ measurements are extremely close to those of the standard Mattel body mold. The breasts are slightly less pronounced and the feet are somewhat thinner. The waist is cut at an angle, similar to the classic Twist and Turn mold. Arms rotate and angle, and the hands have an extremely graceful sculpt to them with each finger separated. The knees have three solid clicks. Two production complaints: the legs were not attached to the torso at all well, as shown above, and her ankles were tied so tightly to the back of the package that it left marks, as shown below.

Doll Scorecard
Face: B+ (not particularly original, but well executed)
Body: C- (bad construction and package damage)
Hair: A
Overall: B

The Outfits

There are a lot of clothes here, especially considering the price point. The box claims there are ‘Over 10 Mix and Match Outfits’ but I really don’t see a lot of possibilities for swapping things around here. The ballgown outfit is teal satin with a black lace overlay, lace sleeves, and a fake silver and teal brooch in the center. Accessories are matching satin armlets and a thin wrap. The robe is made of mint, gold, and white brocade with a mint ribbon tie. It obviously needed to be stay-stitched, and just as obviously wasn’t. The pink sweater and jeans combination is adorable! The sweater has an elaborate ribbon trim in baby blue, white, and matching pink. The jeans have pink top stitching and a ribbon belt with white plastic buckle. The purple satin suit is also very well done. It features a burgundy velvet contrast collar on the jacket and iridescent ribbon trim on the skirt. The mint satin teddy has a cream lace ribbon trim on the bottom front only, a lace overlay on the bodice, and ‘pearl’ beading in the center. The swimsuit and wrap were the two worst pieces of the lot. The swimsuit fabric is extremely cheap stretchy lycra. The dark pink lace ribbon trim clashes with the light pink ribbon tie. The wrap fabric is very pretty, a large floral print in pinks and purples with smaller silver foil roses and polka dots, but as Tara Lynn demonstrates, it is enormously oversized. All pieces fasten with velcro in the back except for the robe and swimsuit wrap, which feature ribbon ties. Overall the quality was much higher than I was expecting, with most of the pieces being made as well as Mattel products.

Outfits Scorecard
Fabrics: A+
(lots of variety)
Style: B+
Execution: B+
Overall: A-

The Accessories

Wow! An even fifty accessory pieces! The top picture shows the nice assortment of hair and makeup play pieces included. The second picture shows the purses: gold and silver envelope purses, a tiny pink plastic purse, and a slightly larger black purse. The plastic purses each bear a ‘Designer Fashion’ logo, perhaps the original name for this line? The third picture shows the jewelry assortment, in gold and silver. There are large drop earrings, a matching necklace, and a bracelet in each color. There are also large gold hoop earrings. The fourth picture shows the ‘sports’ accessories: two heavy plastic tennis rackets, a plastic beach ball, a ‘walkman’, and a visor (which also has the ‘Designer Fashion’ logo). The fifth picture is for shoes: white flip flops, cream open toe pumps, white tennis shoes, gold and silver closed toe pumps, and pink roller blades. The metallic pumps are of a very nice quality, but the rest of the shoes are poorly made throwaways. Fortunately the foot design is similar enough to Barbie’s that Mattel shoes can be used instead. The final picture has the odds and ends: a chunky black cellular phone and bright and pale pink glasses. With the exception of the shoes, everything here is high quality. I’m planning to use the earrings to replace missing ones on some older Mattel dolls!

Accessories Scorecard
Concept: A
Style: A
Playability: A+
Overall: A

The Result

I wasn’t entirely sure that this doll wasn’t just another smiling blonde face when I put her in Aurora’s peasant outfit (from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty). What a knockout! The lavender cotton skirt picks up the pale lavender in her eyes, and the natural face paint is perfect this outfit!

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