Monday, October 9, 2017

Doll-A-Day 2017 #282:Review of Junior Reporter Sammi

  Recently I was lucky enough to receive some things for review from Arklu,the makers of Lottie and Finn.The Lottie dolls' motto is 'Be bold.Be brave. Be you.'Always good advice. Many of the dolls,outfits, and playsets are the result of the 'inspired by real kids' competition, where kids send in their designs for consideration for use. On the Lottie web page they describe their 'vision' like this:
"We recognize how precious childhood is. And in the face of growing pressure – from a variety of sources – how short it can be. We dream of a safe and uncomplicated place where kids can be kids, where the great outdoors is there for the exploring, where curiosity-led discoveries are a daily occurrence, where the imagination can run wild and where the only limit is bedtime. Our vision, when we first created Lottie, was to develop a range of dolls that would empower children to be themselves, to be imaginative and adventurous and – most of all - to have fun. We believe that childhood should be an inclusive place where every child belongs regardless of gender, ethnicity or ability. And we’ve made it our mission to do our bit – no matter how small - to protect childhood."
  I think that sounds great. I agree that kids grow up too quickly these days. I also like the idea of encouraging imagination and fostering a love of the outdoors. Too many toys these days don't require any imagination,and kids never leave the house any more. A love of nature leads to actually caring about the world and the condition of the world,which is something that is always important, but now more than ever. The dolls are dressed in age appropriate clothing in bright colours and tactile fabrics. The faces are sweet and innocent. No giant,brightly coloured lips or over made up eyes. No wild hairdos.
 I was allowed to choose a doll and an outfit I would like to review. It was a tough choice! Lottie and friends are a cute bunch and they have some cute clothes and some nice accessories.

I love the coat,leggings,and boots on Autumn Leaves Lottie.
 I have loved the little rubber wellies for ages!

Pandora's Box Lottie has the wellies,and another cute coat.

Muddy Puddles Lottie has the wellies and a cute raincoat.
Finally I settled on  Junior Reporter Sammi,and the outfit Bee Yourself. I chose Sammi because  he's cute, and because there are so few little boy dolls available. I have a weakness for little boy dolls. The reason I chose Bee Yourself is more complicated. I thought since I was getting Sammi I would get a boy outfit. There were a few unisex outfits, like the astronaut costume 'Astro Advetures',which was pretty neat,the riding outfit 'Saddle Up',and the Body Boarder' outfit. He might have even worn Lottie's 'Girl's United' football uniform. But the only one specifically for boys was Finn's 'Gone Fishing' outfit.

 I'm vegetarian, and I don't do hunting or fishing. I could have just ignored the fishing pole with the fake fish on it. If you want to get technical, it does say in the description that "Finn has always loved wildlife, and learning about all the different types of fish there are! Armed with his new fishing rod, Finn is going down to Branksea Lake to try it out. He hopes he catches a fish, even if he does end up throwing it back in!" That still bothers me because,ok, he threw it back,but in the meantime his hook has punched a painful hole in the fish's mouth, which may end up with an infection later. So, not wanting to condone fishing in any way, I chose not to pick 'Gone Fishing'. I chose 'Bee Yourself' because I thought it might look ok on a boy, and because it had those little rubber Wellington boots I love.
   So, to the review. We'll start with the box they arrived in. These tiny things arrived in a much bigger box. The empty space was filled with BIG wads of paper. I don't know if this is the way their product is always shipped,but I have to think that the shipping would be cheaper if the box were smaller. It would also be less wasteful,although I do have to give them credit for using biodegradable paper as packing, and not Styrofoam or plastic.
  And now on to Sammi. Sammi is a recent release from the Lottie line. He follows the only other boy in the line, Finn,which is why his box says 'Finn' across the top.

The box has colourful,happy graphics

Branksea is the town Lottie and friends live in. The company is based in Donegal,Northern Ireland,but there is a Brownsea Island,also called Branksea island in Poole Harbour in the county of Dorset England. I'm not sure what the connection is.

Sammi is a junior reporter for the Branksea School paper. Here's what Sammi's description on the webpage says:  "Branksea School’s Sports Day is a Sports Day with a difference. We have athletics and gymnastics and team sports like football. But - because we’re so close to the beach – we have lots of water-based activities, too. There are swimming and surfing and canoeing events. There’s even a kite-flying event near the sea cliffs! I write about everything for the Branksea School News, it’s a hectic sort of day!"

I don't know what the Gold Collection involves.

I don't see anything about it on the webpage.

Sammi is apparently the result of one of the submissions of designs by kids in one of their design competitions.

The back of the box quotes the motto:Be bold.Be brave. Be you.

And tells you a bit about Sammi and Branksea.

Lottie,Finn,Sophia, Mia,,and Sammi make up the Lottie line.

By joining Club Lottie you can get 10% off your first order,and enter the competitions,get notices of releases as they occur, and get special bundle offers.

The side of the box has windows too, so you can see everything inside.

The box was sealed with two circles of tape,and once they were peeled back,(I could have cut them but I like a challenge...),the flap closure opened easily.

The insert slid out.

And here's Sammi,attached to his insert,but free of his box. He's so cute.

He's attached to his insert back by a couple of plastic thingies,one around his neck and one around his ankles.

The plastic he is attached to is connected to the insert with tape.

But all you have to do to remove him from his insert is cut the plastic thingies.

The Lottie doll's proportions are meant to resemble a 9 year old child. The exception is the big head, which was originally to make hair play with Lottie easier. Sammi doesn't have long hair though.

The faces of Lottie and friends have a vague anime look about them.

Sammi comes with a bag,a school newspaper,a notebook...

...and a pen.

Everything is in plastic packages which are taped to the insert. Here they are,out of the packaging.

The bag really opens. it closes with Velcro. It's big enough to actually put Sammi's things in. I like that.SO many doll back packs, purses,or bags either don't actually open, but open and are too small to hold anything.I see no point in those.

The school paper is really printed on the front and back,and the pages inside.

The pictures are pictures drawn by real children.

I wish the rest of the print had been real words,but I suppose it would have been pretty tiny.

Sammi can hold his pen.

And his bag strap fits over his body.

The notebook actually has real lines on the pages. Nice detail. (except why is the margin on the right?)

Unfortunately, as usually happens with doll sized books,notebooks, and tablets, the cover came off as soon as it was opened. I've ruined many Cracker Jack books that way!

The pages stayed stuck though.
Sammi is carrying everything but his school paper in his bag. It would have fit, but I didn't want to fold it.

Sammi has a cute little bowlcut. (And quite a set of eyebrows!)

His short hair lays down well. A lot of short haircuts on dolls tend to stand up.

He even has tiny rooted sideburns.

Sammi is jointed at the neck,shoulders,and hips,plus he has bendable knees.

His arms rotate in the shoulder sockets so he can move his arms up and down and back and forth. His legs move the same way. It's hard for him with the pants on,but he can do the splits.

With his shoes on he can stand unsupported if properly posed. For the pictures with his leg bent he did have support.

The arms are soft bendable vinyl that don't hold a bent pose,but allow Sammi to scratch his nose,touch his head,etc. with help. Sammi was a bit shy,but he wanted to show his articulation.

The arms also rotate.              

Sammi's outfit consists of  his stretchy gray hat,a long sleeved shirt,insulated vest,jeans, and sneakers.

His shirt has striped sleeves and a pair of head phones printed in the chest.

His jeans have stitch detailing and a button in the front.

His shirt and jeans close in back with Velcro.

His vest has some exposed seams inside.

But I have to say, the satiny fabric is SO soft! It's much more doll scale than the satiny acetate fabric used for the much larger Hearts for Hearts Zelia doll.

That fabric is a lot more coarse.
His shoes are nicely detailed, with molded stitching,painted laces,and even a  little white ball design on the ankles. They remind me of the Red Ball Jets that were my favourite shoe when I was little.

In side they have an R and an L to show which foot they go on.

They even have molded tread on the bottoms.

They slip on and off easily, but they stay on too. No lost shoes here.
His hat is very soft and stretchy. It goes on easily too,which is more than I can say for a lot of doll hats. It stays on pretty well too.

There's a little tuck in the back to make it fit well.

Now let's look at the outfit. It's called Bee Yourself,which is more good advice. There's also the good message, 'Save the bees'.   

The back of the package.

The back has some information about bees. Did you know only the females sting?

The plastic bubble is only glued to the card, so it's easily removed.

The pieces are just taped in and are easy to remove. No parental help needed for kids.

Sammi tried the shirt on.. It looks pretty good.

But he thought the overalls looked a bit 'girly.

The shirt and overalls close in the back with Velcro. Now here I have to comment on the Velcro used for the Lottie and friends clothes. This is the best Velcro ever! It stays attached like it's supposed to, and yet doesn't snag in hair,or most of the other fabric in these two sets. (It did stick to Sammi's
 hat when I tested it out.) Also, look how flat it lays when closed!

There's no giant lump on Sammi's back! His own clothes were the same way, in spite of what it looked like in the one photo. That was just the angle. His pants tended to almost pop open when he sat down, but they held pretty well otherwise.

Ok. Sammi didn't want to wear Bee Yourself,so I pulled out a Lottie doll I found at Goodwill a while back. She was naked anyway,when I found her, so she was appreciative of the clothes.

Like Skipper and Ricky,Lottie and Sammi share the same body, and so can share clothes.

The overalls are made of a slightly heavier fabric than Sammi's jeans. It's still a fine weave though, and very to scale. I have to say,it was pretty hard to get the pants up over their feet. The legs of the pants are pretty narrow, so they look good on, but I can see kids having difficulty getting the pants on the dolls. It took some effort for me, and I figured out how I had to gather the bottom of the pant legs up over the feet before attempting to pull the pants up AT ALL.

It's because the legs are rubbery and they stick to the clothes. Sammi's slightly thinner pants were a little easier, but still kind of a pain.

The clothes are well made though,and cute,and the fabrics are nice. (And plus there's that awesome Velcro.)

This outfit looks so comfy. I wore a lot of overalls when I was a kid. I want to be a kid again and wear this outfit. (I wasn't quite this small even as a kid though...)

 She is on the move.

There's the cute little bee on the front of the overalls and some buttons.

The buttons aren't functional, but they're a nice detail.

And then there are those cute wellies!

They have bows on the backs.

And a split, to make them easy to get on and off.

I had trouble getting them to close all the way back up over the pant legs. There was a way to make the pant legs lay in there that didn't force the boots open. I managed it eventually. Either way, it didn't affect the boots staying on.

The pants were forcing the boots open a bit.

Here's another example of how flat that Velcro lays.

As you can see, Lottie has a very similar face to Sammi.

They're obviously 'related', but different enough to keep things interesting.

Lottie has a couple of female friends, Sophia...

Birthday Girl Sophia looks a lot like Lottie.

...and Mia.

Wildlife Photographer Mia.

Supposedly there is an Emily, who has red hair and brown eyes. She is shown in the pictures for the canoe set and mentioned in the description of it,but I don't see her being sold on the website.

But how cool is this canoe?

Lottie herself comes as a blonde,like the one I have, a red head...

Forest Friend Lottie

... a brunette....

This one is Spring Celebration Ballet Lottie. African American,Branksea Festival Lottie...

....and a Japanese girl.

This is Kawaii Karate Lottie

And there is, as I said, the other boy, Kite Flyer Finn.

 They all share the same body sculpt,but I think Finn, Mia,and Sammi are the only ones with their particular  head sculpt.

All the dolls are 7 1/2" tall.

They're a nice size for play,as they fit in small hands perfectly. I think they have good articulation for play: not so articulated as to break easily, but articulated enough to make play more interesting. They seem to be sturdy. The clothes are well made, of quality fabrics,and are generally pretty easy to change,except for those pant legs. There are no hard to maintain hairdos,which is good for small children... and me because I am awful with hair. (I've said this before. I always was, and if you don't believe me,you can read the story of how my Barbie lost her hair HERE.) The dolls and playsets have interesting, creative themes. There is the usual ballerina, and a Snow Queen and a Birthday Girl set,but there's also Fossil Hunter Lottie...

Look at this stuff. I would have loved this set as a kid. Actually, I was pretty tempted this time.

...Star Gazer Lottie,who comes with a telescope,Always Artsy Lottie, with her easel and palette,and Wildlife Photographer Mia. There are great playsets, like that canoe set,a camping set, and sets with horses. New additions to the Lottie line are a treehouse...

...and a stable.

They're actually made of wood.

  Sammi is priced at $25,which seems a bit excessive for a 7 1/2" doll with few accessories.Compared to dolls like Barbie's sister Skipper,who is a little bigger,Lottie and friends are way more expensive. Maybe it's because the company is based abroad. (He was actually shipped from California.) Maybe it's because there is more quality in the fabrics and construction of the clothing. I don't know. I think if my kids had wanted a Lottie when they were small, I might have thought it was worth it, if just for the unique themes and accessories. There are way too many ballerinas and princesses around, and not nearly enough school reporters and fossil hunters. It's nice to see a boy doll occasionally too. The dolls are cute,and wholesome looking as opposed to a lot of dolls these days. I like seeing kid dolls that actually look like a kid is supposed to look. No makeup or scanty clothing. It's a shame that idea can't be a bit more accessible to everyone,(In other words, a little cheaper in price and available more places.) Lottie isn't widely sold in stores, in the U.S., at least. I have seen them at Toys R Us and Hallmark stores. Sammi and friends are worth a look into if you have children. (Or even if, as an adult collector you love the look of them,as I do.) If you'd like to visit the Lottie website, you can go to it HERE.
  See you tomorrow for another doll.

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