Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Fab-Lu Randy and Mary-Lou

Clone Dolls - Fab-Lu Randy and Mary-Lou

Images are mostly embeds from Flickr - they link to their source streams.

Fab-Lu Limited, otherwise known as Luften Ltd or Faber-Luft Ltd were a New York based toy company. They are perhaps best remembered today for their 1960s clone dolls, which were sold through Chad Valley in the UK - the company who bought out Fab-Lu after legal troubles got the better of them...

First up was Babs, who was proud to be known as a cheap Barbie copy. There are excellent pages about Babs and her fashions HERE and HERE.

Hong Kong Lilli * Babs by Fab Lu Ltd

Then there was Babs' boyfriend, a Ken clone doll named Bill. Bill had his own range of nine outfits, including BaseballCheerleaderGolf, Trench Coat, Tuxedo and Uniform. You can see the back of an outift pack HERE.

Next came Babs' little sister, a Tammy clone named Randy. Fab-Lu even used an actual Tammy with drawn on ink spot in their clothing booklet - and were sued by the Ideal Toy Corporation accordingly. You can read the original legal notes HERE, and those from the 1966 appeal HERE.

Fab-Lu Randy Doll

Randy from Fab-Lu, Ltd
Randy came with an updo...

Randy by Fab-Lu
...or a bubblecut in black, brunette or blonde.

Randy had 18 outfits, including her basic Bermuda shorts and overblouse:

Queen of the Courts, Special Occasions Only, Flair For Fun, Snow Fun.

Everybody's Sweetheart, Low Tide, Jumping Jiminy, Tea For Two.

Outdoor Girl, Sleep Tight, Home Alone, Clam Digger.

Beauty and the Beast, Park Avenue, Let It Rain, Bull's Eye.

Hip, Hip, Hooray! and Bermuda Bound. You can also see the back of an outfit pack HERE.

In the UK Randy was renamed Mary-Lou, to avoid the sexual connotation of her real name, but kept all the Randy outfits.

Fab-Lu Mary-Lou Doll

But, just to make things more confusing, Fab-Lu had also issued a 9" Pepper clone named Mary-Lou, who came as a blonde or a brunetteFab-Lu also made a range of even cheaper looking clones, called Ronnie (Barbie), Boyfriend (Ken), and Peggy (Midge).

Monday, 29 June 2015

Miniature Monday: Dolls with Down's Syndrome

Dolls with Down's Syndrome

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's 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.

For more information, check out the Down's Syndrome Association, DSRF, or DSE International.

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 a review of her 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.


Boxel: 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 in open (with protruding tongue) or closed mouth versions. Find out more about them at downsyndromedolls.com. These were the dolls used in a fascinating piece of research into self esteem in children with Down's syndrome - read more HERE.


Downi Creations

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.


Maddy and Madeline: These OOAK (one of a kind) dolls were created by Veronica McRae of Cubby House Kids for the #ToyLikeMe challenge. They're inspired by the model, Madeline Stuart.


The Pattycake Doll Company: There are four dolls available - two girls and two boys - retailing for $24.99 (c. £16.50) each. 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.


Reborn Babies: 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:

Jenny by Alicia Toner.

Pebbles by Lilianne Breedveld.


Roisin: This OOAK (one of a kind) doll was created by Melissa Marzee Muse Thomas as part of the #ToyLikeMe challenge. The doll is named for the inspirational Roisin De Burca - read more HERE.

For more like this, please click the image below:

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Review: Hauck Dream 'n' Care Travel Cot

Every visit to my parents is a battle of baby vs. dog - neither is willing to accept the universe does not revolve around them. Bracken tries to jump all over the baby, and Marianna tries to yank the dog's fur. Basically, they bring out the worst in each other. Today my dad suggested getting out the travel cot they had from my aunt. The difference is amazing! Marianna and Bracken are separated and peace and quiet reigns (almost) supreme.

Looking up at TV friends...

The cot itself is great - it folds up nice and small, and the extra level on the bottom is great for storing baby paraphernalia (the other side has a zipped compartment for access to it). After the usual amount of faffing to get it together - if you're as clueless as we were, just type in 'travel cot' on YouTube - the structure is pretty sturdy, and the mesh sides are good as it means Marianna can still see me and vice versa.


Manufactured by Hauck, the Dream 'n' Care Travel Cot comes in a range of colours and designs. There's 'animals', 'butterfly', 'bear', and Winnie the Pooh. You can expect to pay £50 and up new, or you might be able to find it going cheap on eBay.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

How To Make Cash With The Women's Weeklies

How to make money with the women's weeklies
Magazines like Take a Break, Chat, Pick Me Up, Love It, etc, etc, rely very heavily on user generated content - tips, photos, letters, stories and so on.

And they're willing to pay for them. 

I had always known this, in that vague, never really given it much thought about it kind of way, but when our finances went belly up it occurred to me that this might be a way of bringing some money in. £25 is the standard price paid for publishing a photo which is a nice treat or a week's food shopping, depending on the situation you're in.

In the last year I've made over £200 by getting comments, letters and photographs published, as well as picking up a few prizes and mementos like fridge magnets.

Hello, Is It Me You're Looking For?

So, what kind of content are they looking for? Can you provide it? Read on and find out...

☆ Tightwad Tips

Money saving tips, or time saving 'life hacks', are always in high demand with the women's weeklies. If you can send in a photo of your tip in action, so much the better, as it will generally up the amount paid from around £25 to around £50. They don't have to be amazing - my favourite ever suggested 'if you're bored of apple crumble, why not try rhubarb instead?'

☆ Letters

All magazines love to receive letters - it proves that someone out there is actually reading them. Some magazines will reward all those whose letters are published, others will just give a prize or cash for the star letter. Colourful envelopes and drawings still have their place, but in this age of email just send your pics as attachments. The downside is that some will give your words a heavy handed edit - this is especially true of teen magazines and others looking for a particular 'tone'.

☆ Photos

Baby pics, cute animals, sleeping granddads, multiple generations together, funny dads, fancy dress hen nights - you know the type. Requests for photos will be put on the magazines' facebook pages, or you can submit via the website or email. Just take a look through your snaps and see if you have anything which fits the bill.

☆ Comments

One of the big ways the women's weeklies try and set themselves up as a kind of printed friend is by publishing reader opinions. They might be on something in the news (like the pros and cons of selfies), or it might be on a story in the magazine (which is better, dress A or dress B?; or should Sandra take her cheating scumbag of a boyfriend back?). Keep it short, keep it snappy, and, again, accompanying photos always boost your chances. The best way to keep up to date with comment opportunities is to check out the magazines' facebook pages - staff will post there with what they're looking for, and who to email it to. The downside is the endless promotion of ridiculous Daily Mail yarns, and the infuriating ignorance on display in most of the comment sections.

☆ Real Life Stories

Weight loss, weddings gone awry, surprise births, cheating partners, and, on the darker side, rape, child abuse and domestic violence make up the backbone of the women's weeklies stories. You can get anything between £50 and £2,000, depending on the story and how much space it will fill. I lead a fairly boring life, but if you have more going on you can check out current story requests on the magazines' facebook pages, or send your story via email or through the forms on the websites.

Where To Submit

There are hundreds, thousands even, of different publications in the UK alone. Just in the women's weekly genre there are dozens of different titles - the best place to start, in my opinion, is the real life weeklies as they need the most reader contributions. Once you've got the bug you can start looking for the more esoteric titles!

☆ Take a Break
The market leader, Take a Break magazine was ounded in 1990. They put out regular requests for photos and comments on their Facebook page, and you can submit your true life stories on their website. TAB also offers lots of spin-offs: summer specials, puzzle mags, Fate & Fortune, etc, so they need plenty of contributions. (The TAB group also includes TV Choice and Bella magazines.)

☆ That's Life!
Regular requests through their Facebook page, and an easy to use submit feature on their website for tightwad tips, letters, and stories.

☆ Pick Me Up
Launched in 2005, Pick Me Up puts out requests on Facebook, or you can email tips, stories, and suitable snaps to pickmeup@ipcmedia.com. IPC media is now Time Inc. UK, and the group also includes titles like Chat (chat_magazine@ipcmedia.com), What's On Tv (and related), Now, and Woman, Woman's Own, & Woman's Weekly.

☆ Love It!
Has been around since 2006, and has submit forms for letters, stories, 'you've got male' and 'you've been shamed' on its website. They have a Facebook page but tend to advertise competitions rather than content opportunities. (Sister title, Full House, closed down a couple of years ago.)

☆ Real People
You can submit your story HERE on the website, or check out Freebie Friday on their facebook page.

For more like this, please click the below image:
Family Life

Friday, 26 June 2015

Am I Living In A Box?

Am I living in a cardboard box?

#sorrynotsorry :)

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Bin It!

I've been busy with lots of rubbish over the last few days, from my wall of old CDs to dealing with complaints about the state of the local underpass. The latter is really a never-ending issue. My preferred solution would be to have some enforcement officers there fining people for dropping litter, but I suppose the sight of the hi-vis jackets and clipboards would just stop litterers in their tracks until they had to move on to the next trouble spot...

Possibly the best campaign image ever - Keep Britain Tidy has been around over 60 years.

More positively, today the nascent Northville community group did a litter pick. There was a really good turnout and it was very impressive the difference we managed to make in under an hour. Walking home it was all too obvious which streets had been blitzed and which hadn't! The next meeting is scheduled for mid July and hopefully by the end of that the group will be fully constituted.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Wall of Sound

Our house is great but it's all about the magnolia. So much magnolia. Rather than shell out money (and get permission) to decorate, I trawled pinterest for inspiration to give the living room a bit more character. The result was this:

It's also fits the theme of this year's Recycle Week (June 22nd - 28th), recycling around the home. We had piles and piles of unwanted DVDs without boxes, old software discs, and scratched up CDs worth absolutely zilch. Add £1.77 for three packs of blu-tack and, ta-da! Feature wall. :)

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