Saturday, October 24, 2015

Review of A Girl For All Time Clementine and Her Coat and Beret, Plus Some Questions For Her Creator, Frances

  First I have to thank our newest follower, Gisele Teresinha, for joining us. Welcome!

 A while back I promised a review of the A Girl For All Time doll, Clementine. It's been in the works, but my bad shoulder has been limiting my computer time. You may have read a post recently where I talked about doing the photos for a wedding. We took a few thousand pictures that day and the editing of them, following the going through of the thousands of pictures from our recent vacation, has taken it's toll on my shoulder. It's now become a problem that includes shoulder, chest, neck, and arm, and even my ear sometimes! (Weird how a pain can travel from your shoulder, even into your ear.) Also I have been holding it back for a reason I will tell you in a minute. But, finally, here it is. Also included is some Q and A with Frances, creator of A Girl For All Time dolls.

                A Girl For All Time has won several awards, including the 2014 Playdoll of the Year award. 

  To start I have to say, Clementine is not a new release. She's been around for a while, having been released in 2013. I had seen pictures of all the dolls, (There are 4 so far and a new one, Sam, about to be released.), and Clementine was my favourite. Although there was something about A Girl For All Time dolls that I liked, in some pictures their heads looked a little oddly shaped, so I wanted to see them in person before I decided to buy one. I knew A Girl For All Time is a British company, so when I found out we were going to England recently I hoped I'd get the chance to see some of the dolls while we were there. I also did a little research so I could decide if I wanted to buy one while I was there, or order one when I got home. I did find some of the dolls in London, including Matilda, at Pollock's in Covent Garden, and Clementine and Amelia at Hamley's on Regent Street. I have to say, the dolls were even better in person than in photos. Up close and personal they looked delicate and beautiful. And as it turned out, it was cheaper, even with the shipping, to buy the dolls from the A Girl For All Time website when I got home.When I finally ordered Clementine she was cheaper still, due to a 20% off sale the web site was having.(If you like Clementine, or any of the other A Girl For All Time dolls, keep your eye on their website HERE, as they frequently run sales.) With shipping she still cost way less than she would have in the stores.

  My reason for putting off buying Clementine was that once I got home and wasn't on vacation any more, spending that amount of money was really hard for me to do! I don't do well with spending large amounts of money on myself. (If I'm buying a gift I'm much more willing to do it!) Also, I had contacted A Girl For All Time to see if I might be one of the lucky doll bloggers given a doll for review.I hadn't heard from them, so I figured I had been considered unworthy of doing a review for them. As it turned out, they hadn't gotten my email. (In the meantime I bought Clementine.) I contacted them through their Facebook page, and the creator and owner, Frances answered me personally. Frances seems very nice, and asked for my stats so she could consider me for a reviewer spot. 'In the meantime', said Frances,she needed some costume reviews, and asked me if there was anything I had my eye on. I LOVE coats. I have a thing about them. And Clementine's pretty wool coat and beret were calling my name. Frances has graciously provided them for this review. Thanks Frances! So, I was holding back on my review until Clementine's coat arrived so I could include it.Since I have been corresponding with Frances I asked her if I could include her comments and answers to my questions as part of the review and she kindly agreed. Thanks again Frances.
  This is my first...what do you call it? 'Sponsored' review? So I would like to say that even though Frances provided a product for review, which I appreciate, am going to be impartial and honest, and do a proper review.
  First of all, I was a bit confused. Was A Girl For All Time a British company, or American? On the website Frances narrates a little video about the company and the dolls, and she sounds American. So is she/the company British or American?
 " I was born in the midwest, outside of Chicago in a town called Glen Ellyn. Went to High School close to home, and then University in South Bend Indiana. I moved overseas when I was 28 - spent 2 years in Holland and then moved to the UK so we have been here now nearly 22 years !! Both of my children are born here and although they have been to the states to see their family there, they have never lived in the US. So yes we live in the UK now. The company is actually British and ( aside from me and my accent ! ) the entire team is British  - costume designer, writer, illustrator, graphic artist, etc. so it is a very British company, inside and out : ) 
    So there's that question answered. As for the original idea behind the dolls, here's what their website says:
"The idea for A Girl for All Time® came to me in Feb. 2009 when discussing with friends the seeming lack of intelligent, age appropriate toys on offer for girls. Concerns about the ever-growing trend in age-compression (where younger and younger girls reach for older and older toys), combined with recent media coverage about unsuitable toys and clothing marketed at this age group, inspired me to try and create an age appropriate toy that allowed girls to celebrate their childhood in an intelligent and feminine way."
Each doll from A Girl For All Time is a member of the Marchmont family from a different period of time. The first doll is Matilda, from Tudor times.

 She's followed by Lydia, from the Georgian era,

Amelia, from Victorian times,

Clementine, from the 1940's, and the new doll, just released, is Sam, Clementine's daughter, from the 1960's.


Now let's take a look at Clementine.
  Here's how she arrived.
You may ask yourself, why such a big box? I asked myself that too.
As you can see, Clementine's box has a lot of room in such a large box. The packing was unusual. Only padded on one side with a huge wad of paper. I am glad to see the packing was a biodegradable and a renewable resource, rather than plastic or Styrofoam. Not sure this was the best use of it though.
Clementine's box had a crease in one side.

Oddly enough, it was the side next to the padding that had the crease in it.  I ordered some dolls from The Disney Store once and had a similar thing: The Disney dolls were in crushed boxes in an uncrushed packing box. Weird.The Disney Store is kind of known for that though. But the small crease didn't affect Clementine or any of her things in any way. Still, Frances was disturbed by the creased box. I'm afraid I got the warehouse manager in trouble!

Here's how Clementine looked fresh out of box.
Beautiful artwork on the box.It's very pretty and a bit 'old fashioned', fitting for a 1940's era doll.

One thing I really like about the A Girl For All Time dolls is that they all have a different head sculpt. They are alike enough to look related, since they are supposed to be a family, but all unique.The Swish and Swirl blog has some great pictures of Matilda, Amelia, and Clementine together so you can see just how different, but alike they are. Something that I could never understand about the popularity of American Girl dolls was why anyone needed so many when they all have the same face, (All the Caucasian dolls at least.) The current dolls have a little more diversity, but they still look so much alike that I can hardly see any difference. I know American Girl collectors will say I'm wrong, but as someone with only a minimal American Girl knowledge, this is the way it seems to me. 

Clementine is 16" tall, all vinyl,and has the usual neck, shoulder, and hip joints, plus jointed elbows and knees.

Clementine's box was sealed by these round stickers, which I cheated and cut, instead of unpeeling.

After that it was easy to slide out the insert that Clem and her things were attached to.
And there she was.

Each doll has her own book,telling her story. I have actually read good things about the books. The stories are supposedly very well written. I thought that this was Clementine's book, but unfortunately, it's just a pamphlet telling a little about Clementine and the other items available for her. The books are available separately.
I LOVE the artwork!All the A Girl For All Time books have the most gorgeous cover illustrations. I'm dying to see what the black and white illustrations inside look like.

This is where I found out that Clementine's last name is HARPER. Now I know I was meant to buy Clem. Ken's English mother's maiden name was Harper.
Here's what's inside the pamphlet:

Wait...beret and hat?
During WWI, and again during WWII, Britain turned to the Women's Land Army to run farms and raise food for the country while the men were away at war. During WWII there were approximately 80,000 'Land Girl's' working. Clementine's Land Girl outfit is typical of the period.

Simple wire twisties and a vinyl tie hold Clementine in place,plus some stitches in her skirt.

The stitches will need to be cut to get Clem out without ruining her dress. Kids will likely need some help so that Clem's dress isn't damaged. Otherwise she's easy to remove from her box.
Once out of the box, Clem needs a hairnet to be removed, as well as the vinyl tie untied.
This snippet from her book is printed on the inside of the box behind Clementine.
That explains the significance of her dress.
Here's Clementine out of all her restraints.

Her floaty pale green dress is great with her red hair and facial colouring.

"Oh wait."

"Where's my hat?"
Clementine's hat arrived a little creased.

Frances offered to send me another hat, but I didn't think it was bad enough to need a new one.
It looks good on her. It's slightly small for her though and doesn't stay on very well. It could do with being a bit bigger, or maybe having a chin strap or a clip or comb inside to hold it on.

Clementine's jointed elbows allow her to hold it on though!

Apparently Clem's uneven haircut is on purpose, and we learn why it's this way in the book. At least I read that somewhere. It doesn't always look uneven: At this point my Clem's hair could have done with another combing.

Clementine's dress is a soft, sheer fabric, with a satiny collar.
The bodice is lined.The sleeves aren't though, so they are sheer.

From the bodice downward the lining turns into a built in slip.
You can see how sheer the dress is. The fabric seems pretty durable though.

The sleeves come just below her elbow joints, and hide them well, but the fabric is soft enough that the longer sleeves don't interfere with the bending of her arms.

The dress fastens in back with three snaps. The belt really unbuckles, and has to be taken off to remove the dress.

Her shoes are marked on the bottom with the A Girl For All Time logo.

I love her shoes. They're cute, well made,and very English.
When they were little I used to dress my kids in shoes very much like these.
The shoes hook on the sides with Velcro though, so kids will have to be careful of those socks. Her socks are fish net knee socks.The advertising pictures of Clementine show her with anklets, so I suppose these socks could be folded or pushed down if you want that look.

I think she looks fine this way too.

Unfortunately, when I removed Clementine's shoes, I noticed her sock had a hole in it. Frances offered to send me another sock too,along with a new hat. As I'm probably not going to be too much more risk to the socks I didn't think it was necessary, but it's nice to know the company will replace damaged pieces if need be. Here's what Frances had to say about their policies regarding damage or flaws: 
"While there are always things that happen beyond our control we are always here for our customers to address any ...complaints or issues due to damage or manufacturing fault,  we will of course put right for our customers.  It is frustrating when delivery causes damage... We always encourage customers to get a hold of us for any issues so that we have the opportunity to put things right. We are a small family run company and keen to give the sort of customer service that we would want ourselves !! "

  Clementine also has an under shirt and long legged underwear, as fits her era.
The undershirt closes in back with two snaps, and slides down over Clementine's feet for removal. It's a little snug, but manageable. It could do with being open all the way down to make dressing her a little easier for children.

The neckline is reinforced with a wide hem.

Her undies have an elastic waist. 
This shot shows you Clem's lightly coloured finger nails.
  Clementine's long legged underwear reminds me of my mom, who was born in 1927. She said her mother made underwear for her and her sister out of feedsacks. In those days, when there was a shortage of everything, especially money,manufacturers of animal feed made the sacks out of soft cotton, in colourful prints. People tried to make sure they got enough feed in sacks from the same dye lot, because they made clothes and quilts out of them. (I have quilts my mom and grandma made from feedsacks.)  When my friend Lori first heard the story she was freaked, because she thought of feedsacks as the scratchy burlap things she was familiar with!

 Clem's little feet are blushed.

Blushy on the bottoms...
...and the tops.
With nicely detailed little toes. The toe and finger nails have a light, natural colouring. It's hard to see in this picture.
Her hands are blushed too,with realistic knuckle creases.

Her palms have detail too.

As I said, Clementine is jointed at the shoulders, neck, and hips, as well as her elbows and knees.

Her arms can hold a bent pose, but her knees can't. She can do this pose though.
  And as you can see, since Clementine is 12 she has a slightly developed...chest.

She has a little belly button too. Her arms make her look slightly muscle-y when she's undressed.

 She can do the splits.

She has some clavicle detail, which most dolls are missing.
 Her all vinyl body makes her able to wear clothing that shows her neck and shoulders, without a strange looking cloth torso like dolls like American Girl.

Here's Clem in between Journey Girl Kelsey, on her left, and American Girl Samantha, on her right.
 She's 16" compared to their 18", but she's quite a bit smaller.
Clementine on the left, American Girl Samantha on the right.

Samantha's dress is way too big for her.

But Kelsey's clothes are only a little loose. (I didn't even try the tights on her, as they stain vinyl so badly, hence Kelsey's plastic covered feet. Kelsey's shoes are way too big for Clementine.)

Here's Clem with BFC Ink doll Aliesha. Their bodies are more similar in size.

BFC Ink clothes fit much better, even the shoes. There is still one problem though...

The shirt doesn't quite close in the back.
Back to Clem's body...

Clementine's  hip joint allows her to cross her feet.

  Her jointed elbows do look a little weird, but the longer sleeves do cover the joint, as I said, and the joint allows her to be posed in some cute ways.

But as I said, while Clementine has jointed knees, her knee joints don't actually hold a bend that will allow her to sit with her knees bent.

But they do bend a little, and as the knee joints swivel a bit, they do allow her a certain amount of posing flexibility she wouldn't have had otherwise.

For instance, she can stand quite well on her own, at least partially due to her ability to turn her feet slightly to the side when necessary.

She can even balance well enough to stand unsupported in this position, without needing both feet to be flat on the ground.

I asked Frances if Clem's knees would loosen up enough with play to allow her to sit with her knees bent:
"A great question, Tammy...Yes the knee joint is a complicated one. Its all about how to create a knee that can hold a bent pose, plus stand, that won't cost an arm and a leg ( excuse the pun ) ! ... We have tried looser stringing in prototype form and have found that the legs become too loose after a while ( we put all our product through 'age testing' which is accelerated aging through heat process, intense light, and also joint movement). So we can age a product by two years in just 48 hours. If the stringing it too loose then she can't stand after the aging test. So yes, she will loosen a bit but not enough to hold a bent knee position as that would mean that she would be too loose to stand. However, we are looking at alternatives and modifications to the leg joint ( behind the knee ) to see if we can't make adjustments so that her leg can bend more than it does now. The great thing about being a small company is that we get lots of valuable feedback from our customer base and we can react to it fairly quickly. It is something that has been brought to my attention a few times, mainly by collectors.

Clem's hair is a gorgeous mix of shades, just like real hair.

The hair is soft and smooth. It's very easy to comb through and I didn't feel any hair product at all.She also didn't lose any hair when I combed it. The hair is also very thick, as you can see here. I was trying to get down to her head to see if she is rooted or wigged, and couldn't because the hair was so nice and thick! Her hair is wigged.The edges of the wig are well hidden by the hair. Ivy dug through until she found the wig.
Probably my favourite thing about Clementine's face is her mouth.

She has a bow shaped mouth that is wonderfully realistic. Her lips are a pretty rose colour, and have realistic wrinkles.

 The detail in her eyes isn't super realistic, like her lips, but they do look nice.Clementine's inset green eyes are framed with both painted and applied lashes.

Her gorgeous colouring really shows in this shot.

  I pulled back Clem's bangs so you could see her eyebrows better.

They're individually painted hairs instead of just a line.

 I kind of like her bangs swept a bit to the side like this.


 And what about Clem's coat and hat? Here's how they arrived.

Again, there's the nice artwork on the packaging.

The coat and hat were attached to an insert that slid out when the sticker seals were breached.(I peeled these instead of cutting them. I like a challenge occasionally!)

The coat and beret were attached to the insert with thread, which should be cut, not pulled, to avoid snagging them. Easily enough done, even by kids.

The coat and beret are a lovely dusty rose colour, which looks great on Clementine.

Clementine looked a bit lonely, so I gave her a bear. He's actually a Christmas ornament, but he works great with her.

 I love the 1930's and 40's. This coat copies the style of that era perfectly.

Like these from a 1940's pattern. The littler girl is even wearing Clementine's hat!
I'm not sure if they are real wool, (I should have asked Frances.),or just a facsimile of a 'wool coat', which is what a girl in the 1940's would have worn, but they seem to be.Whatever the fabric is, it feels rich and of good quality.

The coat is lined, but the sleeves and hat aren't.
It's beautifully made.

The front of the coat is accented by an old fashioned rose shaped button.

 Ivy has a collection of vintage buttons, and I'm pretty sure she has some just like this. It's a purely decorative button though, as the coat actually closes with a single snap.

Unfortunately my snap was hanging by two stitches instead of having all four. This is easily fixed, but a little disappointing.

The coat is fitted and looks great on Clementine.

It looks so warm and cozy.

She looks like a real little girl in this shot.

Added note here: all these coat pictures were taken with no additional support. In all of these poses Clementine is standing entirely on her own.

I love how this picture look likes she is actually swirling her coat.

Now I want to get Clem some mittens!

The only thing that would make this coat better would be pockets that Clem could put her hands in. That would undoubtedly raise the price, but wouldn't it be cool?!

As for the beret, like all doll berets, (and human ones too!) it's a little hard to scoot down on her head and will pop off if you don't get it down far enough.When put on properly though, it fits nice and snug.

And I love the way it looks.

When I was young I used to wear a beret all the time...
Me, on top of a bale of hay, Yorkshire, 1986.

..And also looked a bit 40's a lot of the time.

So there you go. I LOVE the coat and hat! Thanks so much to Frances for providing them!

Frances, the next things to offer for Clementine? A little purse, a muff, some mittens, and her evacuee tag to pin to her coat. Maybe even her pack of sandwiches she took on the train. There are so many neat ideas that go with the story. (I'm thinking now of the things offered for American Girl's 40's girl Molly: her glasses case,a hankie,a steel penny,her nurse doll, lunch box, and book satchel.) It's hard for a small company to make a lot of accessories. Because they don't sell as much as larger companies they aren't able to have money tied up in merchandise that might sit around for a while. Hopefully some day A Girl For All Time will be a big enough company to put out lots of accessory goodies for their dolls. (What will they do for Matilda, their Tudor girl? A turkey leg?)
  Recently it was announced on the A Girl For All Time website that the company will soon be releasing a new line of dolls called Your Modern Girl. The name says it all: dolls that reflect the girls of today and the world they live in. A Kickstarter campaign will soon be announced. In the meantime, AGFAT asks those interested to send in a 1 1/2 - 2 minute video (shot on a plain background.),in which they describe what they would look for in such a line of dolls. To learn more you can click HERE. Two winners will be selected from the video entries to win a doll of their choice from the historical line, (like Clementine).

So, before I leave you with more pictures of the lovely Clementine,you'll want my opinions: 
  Well, I love her. Clementine has a unique look that appeals to me. I like her old fashioned clothes, her beautiful colouring,and her winsome expression.

  Overall, Clementine and her clothes are well made, with just a few quality control problems. The company seems to be more than willing to communicate and resolve whatever issues a customer may have.
   I like the educational aspect. Clementine has a story that teaches kids something about more than just clothes and make-up and guys. It would be nice if Clem's book came with her, so the experience was complete, but I understand that would raise the price of the doll. I'd actually love to get Clementine's book and see how well written it is, and find out more about the character. That's another bonus: Maybe kids will be encouraged to read to find out about the characters the dolls represent. Encouragement to read can never be a bad thing.

  She seems to be made sturdy enough for lots of play. The vinyl has a lovely glowing quality to it and it feels so nice.  She feels like a quality doll.

 And as I said above, I think there are all sorts of possibilities for additional accessories to make play with Clementine more fun.
  Would I buy another Girl For All Time doll? If I had the money right  now I think I would order Amelia...or maybe Matilda...or...

So here are some more pictures of Clementine because they turned out so well I couldn't not use them.

  Once I got started writing this post, and looking at the pictures, I noticed that Clementine reminded me of somebody.
Actress Claudette Colbert. Clementine's only 12, and not as sophisticated as Claudette Colbert looks in this photo, but the resemblance is definitely there.

I think it's the mouth, and the shape of her nose.

And the big eyes.


She really does look like Claudette Colbert.


  1. Great review, your pictures of her are really lovely.

  2. Just got Cementine and I love her. I do want to make some comments.
    Msybe it's just me, but though I love her face/look overall,she does have some issues, especially when compaired to similar all vinyl high quality play dolls like Maru and Friends and Kidz n Cat dolls.
    Her 16" size is unusual, as most simiar play dolls are 18" and M&F dolls are around 20". Though cost could be a factor, my intuition says it is so you would have to by extra outfits from the co or make them yourself.
    While the quality of Clementine is equal to the formentioned doll, I am having trouble with the proportions. The arms are too thick, and without being covered, look unnatural. The dyes are funny too. Maru dolls have realistic faces and are almost as nice as the Little Darling dolls which cost 10X more. The eyes on Clementine are acrylic like Maru and Kidz but have funny, unrealistic irises. Also the applied eyelashes only cover the middle of the eye Maybe this was designed that way, but I think a more realistic eye and lashes would hsve been better and would not add much to the cost of produ tion. Finally, besides the arms,Clementine's head looks a tad to big for her body. In photos snd in person she looks really weird especially ehen photographed from diwn angle.
    These are just the petty complaints of a doll collector, I still think overall I like quirky Clementine in spite of these "problems".

    1. The arms do look a little strange when she's undressed, but I think she looks fine in her clothes. I don't think I'd say that there were any ulterior motives involved in the size of the doll. If you think about it,many 18" dolls can't share clothes either. American Girls are chunkier than alot of the others,and the feet are a different size than most too.Maru is taller and slimmer. They're all different. I do think the eye lashes could stretch to the edges a bit more. I think the eyes work with her somewhat animated appearance though. Most things about her aren't as realistic as Maru,so it's ok.

  3. Sorry about my former post's typos.I was typing fast on my phone..I hate those little key pads..Anyway, having Clementine for another day, I am loving her more and more.
    I still think the head is a little big for her body, but she is a play doll, not a art doll.
    I love her quirky look and she compliments my M&F "Valentina" who has a unique Asian/Russian face as I mentioned before.
    I also want to compliment you on your website/blog and cudos to all the work it must take to do reviews of this magnitude.

    1. Thanks so much! It is a bit of work,but it's nice when it's appreciated. I totally sympathize with your phone typing problems! I'm terrible at it. I have small hands, but my fingers seem about the size of arms when I'm trying to hit those little buttons. She's not traditionally beautiful like the Maru dolls,but I think the quirky look is part of Clem's appeal. I'm sure it's off putting to some people though.

  4. Well to me she looks SO British, and I love the time period as well as the Victorian period, but I don't like the Victorian era doll as much as Clementine.
    I like dolls with character and not too "dolly" I am a collector who came by the way if antique Japanese dolls and 19th c. German and French bisque dolls. I have since expanded to vintage, my childhood era dolls, and recently to SOME modern play dolls.
    I would really want some reborn child (not infant) dolls life size but they are way too expensive for me.
    Clementine has a personality which I find appealling. Thanks for revviewing her.I will keep watching your blog.
    My next doll(s) of interest are Kidz n Cats Mirelle, and the Petitcollin? Lucie. I think the KnC dolls are a bit more expensive $179.+ than most of the other simiar play dolls.
    Thanks again!

    1. I like the Victorian era too. I was wavering between Clementine and Amelia. But Clem won out. I ahdn't heard of Petitcollin. They look nice. I thought I might like Kidz n Catz,but when I saw them in person I didn't really. I love dolls with teeth,but I thought the Kidz n Catz with teeth looked weird. I have seen a few recently that look nice.

  5. KnC Mirelle has a slightly parted mouth. She really looks nice from the stock preview photos, but under different lighting at a doll event booth she did't look as nice and she was the only sculpt I liked
    I will wait for someone to post actual pictures of her when she is released later this month.


Thanks in advance for your comments.