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.
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. 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,
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.|
Here's how Clementine looked fresh out of box.
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.
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.|
|Wait...beret and hat?|
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.
This snippet from her book is printed on the inside of the box behind Clementine.
|That explains the significance of her dress.|
Her floaty pale green dress is great with her red hair and facial colouring.
|"Where's my hat?"|
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.|
From the bodice downward the lining turns into a built in slip.
|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.|
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.|
"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.
|This shot shows you Clem's lightly coloured finger nails.|
Clem's little feet are blushed.
|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.|
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.|
|She has a little belly button too. Her arms make her look slightly muscle-y when she's undressed.|
|She has some clavicle detail, which most dolls are missing.|
|Here's Clem in between Journey Girl Kelsey, on her left, and American Girl Samantha, on her right.|
|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.|
|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.
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!|
The coat is lined, but the sleeves and hat aren't.
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.