Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Dolls with Cleft Lips and Palates

Another repost from my doll blog - this was inspired by the #ToyLikeMe campaign which is seeking better representation of disability in the toybox. There is an interesting article HERE about the history of toy diversity.

Cleft lips, alveolus (dental ridge), and palates can come alone or together, in the form of a unilateral or bilateral cleft, and affect about one in every 700 babies born in the UK. It can cause speech and language problems, along with difficulty in feeding and ear infections which can lead to hearing loss. In the worst case scenario babies with a severe cleft, without specialised feeding aids or suffering from associated problems, can die - something which still happens to over 3,000 people every year. Find out more at CLEFT, CLAPA, Operation Smile, or the Smile Train.

My better (worse?) half was born with a cleft palate, so I do have a bit of a personal interest in the condition. I'd love to get Marianna a doll with a cleft one day so she can have a doll like her daddy. :)

Anthony and Marianna.

* All pictures found on Google Images, I make no claim to ownership *

Baby Isabella and Baby Isaac
Created by Tiny Wide Smiles, these dolls are modified to have a left or right unilateral cleft, or a bilateral cleft. They are $50 each but the order period for each batch is quite short, so you need to keep an eye out for updates. You can read more about the Kickstarter that launched the dolls HERE, or check out the Tiny Wide Smiles facebook page. There's a super cute blog of a little girl being given a Baby Isabella HERE.

Cairdeas Doll

Provide a cloth doll and postage costs, and Cairdeas Doll will use embroidery floss to sew a scar matching your child's for free. Read more HERE.

Cleftline Bears

Produced by the Cleft Palate Foundation, these custom made bears have stitches across their lip to represent the scars left by corrective surgery. The bears cost $10 each plus shipping and handling. Read more HERE.

Plush Cleft Doll

Produced by Tiny Wide Smiles these plush dolls come with unilateral or bilateral cleft smiles, and retail for $15. The image above came from the baileyjadekodra blog, check out the full photo shoot HERE. You can purchase them through Tiny Wide Smiles or at cleftopedia.com.

As is often the case with dolls who differ from the 'norm', most dolls with cleft lips or palates are OOAK (one of a kind) dolls created by parents or doll artists.

Amber Carr

These gorgeous Blythe dolls were customised by Amber Carr and sold through the Rockabilly Hoodlum store on eBay.

Christie Durant

Sweet Peas Forever Reborn artist Christie Durant has created some amazingly lifelike baby dolls with cleft lips / palates, representing the condition before and after surgery. You can see the full gallery of these dolls HERE.

Devon Rescue Dolls

This repainted and customised Bratz doll is currently up for auction on eBay to raise money for CLAPA (Cleft Lip and Palate Association). Devon Rescue Dolls also have an etsy store HERE.


A mum on babycenter.com customised a Cabbage Patch doll for her son. Read more HERE.

Teruna Kowaii

Work in progress project of a BJD elf with a cleft lip. Read more HERE.

For other customised dolls with visible birth defects and / or disabilities, there was a #ToyLikeMe challenge being held on Facebook recently HERE. Check it out!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Dolls With Downs

My travels in the world of dolly diversity have resulted in the saving of endless bookmarks. To try and reduce the list this post is a round up of all the dolls I've come across representing people with Down syndrome. Down's is a genetic disorder caused by an extra chromosome (or part thereof). It occurs in about 1 in every 1,000 births.

Distinctive characteristics include slanted eyes, poor muscle tone, a flat nasal bridge, a single crease in the palm (making the life of the palm reader somewhat more complicated...), a large gap between the first and second toes, and a large tongue (which, combined with a narrow roof of the mouth, is the reason why the tongue may protrude). The traits will obviously differ in degree from person to person, but these are the most common visual cues.

My cousin has Down's so I've always been interested in the representations out there. Here we are as babies. I don't know what's going on with my wall of hair - I blame my mother.

*Pictures come from Google Image search. I claim no ownership.*

Ashton Drake - A Special Joy

This cute baby doll is from Ashton Drake's So Truly Real line, meaning it's weighted and poseable to be as lifelike as possible. Priced at $129.99 (c. £86) it's available HERE. You can also read reviews of her HERE, HERE and HERE.

Baby Down

Play line baby dolls (you could get a boy or a girl) produced by Spanish toy company Super Juguete. These are the most mainstream of all the dolls on the list - they were sold in regular toy shops in Spain and Italy between c. 2007 and 2009 and retailed for 34,90 (c. £26) each. Read more HERE and HERE.


Bets and Amy Boxel create amazing artist dolls in small editions. Anne Sophie above was produced in a limited edition of 5 in 2009. Read more HERE.

This is the only pic I've been able to find, from Camp Venture's history page.

Camp Venture

Made two soft dolls - Danny and Dolly Downs - in a choice of three skin tones. You can read more about them, and the information which accompanied them, HERE.

Dolls For Downs

When I read the story behind the company, I'm not ashamed to say I cried a little. Connie Feda's nine year old, Hannah, was flicking through a magazine when she saw a doll that looked like her younger sister. But no matter where they looked she couldn't find a doll that looked like her. This set Connie on a mission. In her own words: "I want Hannah to see a doll with Down Syndrome and see something beautiful, because that's what I see when I look at her." 

There are girl and boy dolls available with a range of skin, eye and hair colours, retailing for around $75 (c. £50) each. In addition to the distinctive facial features they have the 'sandal' toe gap, the single crease in the palm, the typical limb proportions, and the option to have a chest surgery scar (something like half of all babies born with Down's need heart surgery). The flagship doll is, of course, named Hannah. Check out the website HERE, or the facebook page HERE.

Down Dolls

There are seven dolls in this line (pictured are Tomas, Mikael, and Tatjana) with soft bodies and vinyl limbs, retailing for $49.95 (c. £33) each. They are available with open (with protruding tongue) or closed mouth versions. Find out more about them at downsyndromedolls.com. These were the dolls used in a piece of research into self esteem in children with Down syndrome - read more HERE.

Downi Creations

A not-for-profit venture which sadly now seems to be defunct. There were eight dolls in the line, all collector quality which retailed for around $175 (c. £116) each. Read more about them HERE.

The Pattycake Doll Company

There are four dolls available - two girls and two boys - retailing for $24.99 (c. £16.50) each. You can purchase them HERE. I've seen a lot of criticism of these dolls, namely that they're 'ugly' and 'scary'. As these are descriptors I feel can be applied to most rag dolls, I guess it comes down to that whole matter of subjectivity.

The Crafty Queen

Cabbage Patch style doll with Down's - read more HERE.


Probably the most divisive genre of dolls after Barbie, yet there are some absolutely beautiful Reborn dolls out there. Check out THIS post from wit and whimzy reborn nursery on suitable kits - the most recommended ones seem to be Avery by Denise Kunz-Pratt, and Asher and Emmeline by Donna Lee. There are also a handful of kits actually designed to represent Down's:

Pebbles by Lilianne Breedveld.

All the dolls I've found represent babies, toddlers and young children. Are there any teen / adult figures? Please let me know if you have any info!

Friday, 27 March 2015


This is a bit of a cross post from my other blog - I decided to set up a scene in my doll house for a competition I entered, and this was the result:

The kitchen units, fridge, sink, washing machine and table / chairs are all vintage Sindy, as is the swing bin and the washing basket. The shelves on top of the units are bog standard 1/12 scale shelf units from eBay. The microwave and the vast majority of the accessories are Re-Ment - if you want to know which set a specific item is from, get in touch. :)

On to the dolls... The baby is Re-Ment, from the early version of the Play With Baby set. Next up is Pebbles, from the Mattel Barbie line, on an 11cm obitsu body. Another Mattel offering is Skipper's friend Ricky, again rebodied on an Obitsu. Then there's an early 3rd gen Licca head on an Azone body. Finally, the mum is my Wild Flower Dolls Tara.

Monday, 16 March 2015

I haven't disappeared!

Not for good, at any rate! My baby - Marianna Iris - was born on New Year's Day and has taken over my entire life. :)

With some sweets I won... I'm easily pleased.

I haven't had much time for my miniatures hobby, but I have been blogging about everyday life and baby related stuff over at my other blog, http://babiafi.blogspot.co.uk/. To keep this blog on track, here is a little keepsake pram my mum made for Marianna, posed with a couple of my beloved pose dolls: 

My mum is really talented at crafts and stuff, by virtue of having approximately 500% more patience than I do! At the moment she's specialising in tutu baskets. I'm specialising in avoiding baby sick...

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Be the Modest Person Around

I've had this post half saved in draft for like a fortnight, so I figured I'd finally finish it off...

One of the best things about buying vintage dolls and accessories, especially in bundles or job lots, are the little relics of childhood that often come with them. Those disastrous early sewing attempts in the form of Sindy's home made skirt, Pippa's chest of drawers crafted from match boxes, and the plastic Christmas cracker toys that, by virtue of their diminutive size, ended up being stuck in a box in the attic with Barbie and her wardrobe.

My mum picked up one such bundle of Sindy clothes on eBay last week, and tucked away with one of the outfits was the cutest handmade dolly magazine from 1967. More specifically it must have been from January or February that year because, according to the Top Ten countdown, The Monkees' I'm a Believer was #1 in the UK music charts. Welcome to Mod magazine, containing 'every thing a girl could want':

Page one gives you 'Hints on a Party' - 'always make sure they know when it is'. Still some sound advice that, even 40-odd years later. Then there are advertisements for 'a new mod dress - wonderful - you'll love it' (and only 36 shillings) and mod shoes:

Next come the chart listings and book recommendations ('Love in the House on the Moon' and 'The Mystery of the Romantic Ghost'), followed by advice to 'send off for a cooking book on how to make cakes now'. In fact at Mod magazine you could write in for advice on anything:

My absolute favourite thing in this tiny magazine - even better than 'Love in the House on the Moon' - has to be on the penultimate pages:

Be the modest person around! 

It's such a cute look back into a different time. Have you ever found any home made 'treasures' in your dolly purchases?

Song of the Day:


Lammily is the doll you love to hate. Well, if not you personally, then the doll community and blogosphere in general. She's too boring, she's too frumpy, and her creator is a guy who wanted an average doll because Barbie wouldn't date a guy like him. At least that's what people chose to take away from the statement: 'If Barbie were a real woman, she'd be intimidating and cold, and what I like about real women is that they're warm and friendly'.

The doll's slogan, 'average is beautiful', shouldn't be controversial - but it is. Because when people see it all they seem to process is 'not being average is ugly' when that isn't the message at all. You don't have to be a size zero to be beautiful, or have perfect skin (you can get a set of stickers for Lammily to recreate everything from acne to stretchmarks - how my child self would have loved the latter for the elaborate doll pregnancy storylines I played out with my friends), or have the most coveted bust to hip ratio. We're all human and in some aspect of life - be that looks, likes or abilities - we're all average. 

In the future they want to expand into a range of body types and ethnicities but, for now Lammily is based on a single doll made to the measurements of the average 19 year old American female - an art project that went viral. She's not the prettiest doll I've ever seen. She isn't the best articulated, or graced with the greatest sense of style either. But then she isn't meant to be. She's a relatable, girl-next-door type, the kind of doll Sindy once was to the girls of Britain with her love of horse riding and ballet, and her willingness to don her floral apron and peg the washing out on her very own rotary line. 

My Lammily redressed in Sindy leggings, Sindy (?) dress, and MH trainers.

Personally I love that there is a doll with a pretty unique (for the world of dolls) body shape that retails for under £20. Her face may be a little bland - a complaint I've read over and over again - but no more so to my mind than, say, Simba's Steffi Love, who is the only 'Barbie' type doll they actually stock at my local toyshop. The other complaint I keep seeing is that her launch outfit is dated... It's not going to give Integrity a run for their money, to be sure, but it's no worse than Steffi's 'super trendy fashions'. Considering the two dolls and their fashion packs are in the same price range, Lammily has nothing to be ashamed of!

Rocking London fashion available for pre-order at $19 (£12).

On the plus side her box art is gorgeous, and the doll itself feels sturdy and up to some rough treatment at the hands of her little masters and mistresses. Her hands and feet are pegged which are excellent news for easy dressing, but not so great if her potential owner is very young - she's marketed as 3+ for a reason. There are a range of fashions available from the website, but she can also wear a lot of vintage Sindy and Jem clothing. It's definitely worth picking up an official set for the shoes though, as her feet are a very awkward size; the only success I've had other than her launch trainers are male monster high sneakers or, if you unpeg her feet, bigger 1/6 boots. (Gay Bob's cowboy boots have been a particular hit!)

Will she survive in the oversaturated play doll market? ...Who knows? Typically play dolls with an unusual body shape - ie. can't share clothes with the standard fashion doll - struggle and sink without the backing of a huge campaign. But then, typically, individuals who want to mass produce a doll which sells at a reasonable price fall at one of the first hurdles too. Only time will tell. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Sindy Bureau

Pedigree's Sindy doll may not have had Barbie's blonde bombshell looks, but she made up for it with her endless array of outfits, accessories and 'scenesetters'. Her writing bureau was typical with a seat which doubled as storage, desk complete with secret drawer, and stationery for Sindy and her owner. 

I've got two bureaus in my doll house at the moment. The one above is in my 1950s / 60s inspired teen bedroom, complete with lots of accessories from the likes of Re-ment, Kewpie, Sylvanian Families and standard 1/12 scale outlets. The chair is from Sindy's 1976 Dining Table. Then there's the desk below which lives in the girl's bedroom:

Again, accessorised with a range of Re-ment, 1/12 scale doll house goods, and miniature figures from Supabonbonniere2 on etsy. The wardrobe in the background is from the 2004 Licca collection (more info HERE) and the doll is an early 3rd gen Licca head on an Azone body.

Song of the Day: