Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Elle Magazine Dolls

Elle Magazine Dolls by Jakks Pacific

Jakks Pacific produced a small range of 15.5" fashion dolls for ELLE fashion magazine. Originally released in 1999/2000, they retailed around the $25 mark in the US and Canada. From what I have read there were two face molds used, chiefly changing the shape of the nose, and the majority were white with blonde, red, or brunette hair. There were also black dolls but they seem to be pretty rare now.

I had never heard of them until stumbling across an eBay listing, and Google has been singularly unforthcoming. With the lack of extant promo pics the pictures here all come from sales listings, either on eBay or at

City Chic

Jakks Pacific ELLE Doll City ChicJakks Pacific ELLE City Chic
Jakks Pacific City Chic DollELLE City Chic Back of Box

'Escape into classic glamour with City Chic - tailored for the sophisticated woman.'

These retailed for $24.99. I did find a picture of a black version of the third doll HERE.

A Walk On The Wild Side

Jakks Pacific A Walk on the Wild Side doll for ELLEJakks Pacific ELLE A Walk on the Wild Side
Jakks Pacific A Walk on the Wild Side DollELLE A Walk on the Wild Side back of box

'Express your primitive instincts with A Walk on the Wildside featuring exotic animal prints and a clothing trunk and make-up case - vital essentials for the girl on the go!'

The dolls originally retailed for $29.99, the slightly higher price reflecting their luggage accessories. There is a video review of the second doll over at The Doll Circle.


TrendWatch doll for ELLE magazineJakks Pacific TrendWatch ELLE doll
Jakks Pacific TrendWatch dollELLE TrendWatch Box Back

'Enter the world of high fashion with TrendWatch - focusing on the fashion industry's hottest trends.'

These originally retailed for $24.99 each.

ELLE Magazine Dolls
Found at Domidoll blog.

For more like this, please click the image below:

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Purdah Explained

If you're involved with government, at any level, you can't help but notice official business grinding to a halt in the run up to an election. Even if the election is for another level of government entirely!

That's all thanks to the concept of 'purdah'.

What is Purdah?

The word is a loan from Urdu, literally meaning 'curtain' or 'veil' and referring to the practice of female seclusion - through physical segregation and / or the wearing of form concealing clothing. In Britain the word came to mean 'isolation', and was eventually used to refer to the restrictions in place in the run up to an election, when public resources must not be used for party political purposes.

Because of the word's origins in female oppression the Welsh guidance is to use the term 'pre-election period' instead.


How does it work?

As a principle, I think we'd all agree that the 'heightened sensitivity' of the pre-election period is a good thing. Political candidates in the UK are meant to be on equal footing, in terms of spending limits, etc, and having civil servants and publicly funded institutions putting their clout behind any particular candidate wouldn't be fair.

In practice, the individual liability of civil servants for breaking purdah leads to overkill. Because on the one hand you have sensible actions like stopping a local authority issuing publicity which might sway voters. But, on the other, you have trickle down effects like politicians being unable to represent their institutions at anything lest it be seen as an endorsement.

Sunday, for example, I had to fill in last minute to lay a wreath at Cwmbran's Remembrance service on behalf of Torfaen County Borough Council because I'm technically apolitical as chair of council. If another politician had lain it then it could be argued the Council was actively supporting and providing a platform for their political views...

Still, until a Westminster government does the sensible thing and overhauls how it works, the pre-election period is here to stay. It begins six weeks before an election - November 6th this time around - and essentially means no political business or new policy decisions are made until it is over.

Realistically speaking, given the time scales, that will mean after Christmas.

Guidance from the Local Government Association:

For more like this, please click the image below:
Civic Life in the UK

Monday, 11 November 2019

Mini Mart: One Sixth Scale Props

One Sixth Scale Props

Supplier: One Sixth Scale Props
Website: Etsy Store.

I have been coveting the 1/6 scale movie props from this Italian Etsy store for ages, so I finally gave in and ordered a few bits and bobs. I got a Blockbuster video (non-opening case, £8), Captain America comics (£7), a dartboard (£7), and a Curious George book (£12). The items are very true to scale and the print quality is excellent, just check it out in the picture above.

One Sixth Scale Props on Etsy

Post and Packing: Starts at c.£6.40 to the UK, plus another 45p or so per extra item.

For more like this, please click the image below:
Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures

Sunday, 10 November 2019

This Week - 10/11/2019

Lest We Forget

We've just come back from the Remembrance Parade in Cwmbran. I usually go to the one in Pontnewydd, but because purdah (the pre-election period) has started I was asked to lay a wreath at Cwmbran on behalf of the council as my role as chair makes me technically apolitical. Anthony laid one at Pontnewydd as his charity (as chair of Cwmbran Community Council) is Pontnewydd British Legion.

Anyway, I had already told Marianna she could come with me this year so she was scurrying along to keep up with the march, bless her. I didn't realise the Cwmbran parade is like twice as long as Pontnewydd's! Still, she was very good and managed to keep quiet during the two minutes silence.

Purdah has been wrecking havoc on my entire diary, to be honest. Most of my meetings have been cancelled and we'll be gearing up for lots of leafleting in the next few weeks...

On the blog I've posted about Marianna's Santa Letter, a review of Helen's OOAK Miniatures on Etsy, a guide to Beautiful Blessings Dolls, my 2019 Children's Christmas Gift Guide, and Five Tragic Silent Starlets for my Friday Five series. I'm also running a giveaway for a Dr Who doll, check it out HERE.

Song of the Week -

For more like this, please click the image below:
This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Dear Santa

Santa Letter 2019

Royal Mail are running their Santa letter scheme again this year. Send the big guy a letter by December 6th and he'll send you a reply! As beautifully penned as this missive is - ahem - I wrote out the message myself on a separate sheet of paper, along with our address. The translation reads as follows:

Dear Santa,

I have tried to be a very good girl this year. For Christmas I would like - 
1. a robot
2. a unicorn
3. a telescope
4. clothes
5. a Wonder Woman costume


I - that is, of course, to say Santa - only have #5 left to get now. :)

Santa Letter Address 2019
For a reply in Welsh write to: Sion Corn, Ogof Sion Corn, Gwlad Y Ceirw, XM4 5HQ.

For more like this, please click the image below:
Babi a Fi 2019 Children's Christmas Gift Guide

Friday, 8 November 2019

Friday Five - Tragic Silent Starlets

Friday Five


Nothing quite conjures up early Hollywood like a glamorous blonde destined for a tragic end...

#5. Martha Mansfield

In 1912 Martha Ehrlich, 14, decided she was going to be an actress and set about securing herself a role in a Broadway production of Little Women. She continued to work on the stage and as a model until she signed with the Essanay Studios for six months in 1917. After a stint with the Ziegfeld Follies, she turned to Hollywood where she became known for her role in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. By November 1923 she was signed to Fox Film Corporation and working on the civil war drama, The Warrens of Virginia.

Martha had just completed a scene, dressed in ruffles and hooped skirts, when she went to sit in her car - and her clothing burst into flames. The chauffeur's hands were badly burned as he attempted to put the fire out, and her life was only saved by Wilfrid Lytell throwing his heavy coat over her head. Even so she suffered terrible burns and died the following day, aged 24. To this day it remains a mystery who threw the match witnesses saw set her dress aflame.

Martha Mansfield

#4. Thelma Todd

Nicknamed 'the ice cream blonde', Thelma Todd began entering beauty pageants after graduating high school in 1923. Just like the plot of a bad rom-com, she was talent spotted at one of these contests and by 1926 she was signed with Paramount. With the advent of the talkies she became a popular comedienne, playing opposite the greats of the day like Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, and the Marx Brothers. In 1934 she invested in a cafe, using her star power to turn it into a highly successful business.

Thelma had everything to live for - but on the morning of Monday 16th December 1935 her maid, Mae Whitehead, found Thelma's body in her car. She had died of carbon monoxide poisoning, still dressed in the evening gown she had worn to a party on the night of Saturday 14th December. The official theory is that her driver dropped her off at around 3:45am on Sunday morning, almost two hours after her boyfriend, Roland West, had warned her to be home by. To teach her a lesson he had locked her out, leaving her little choice but to trek up a steep hill to her garage where she started up the car to warm up.

Except. Her hair was still perfectly styled. There was no way she had hiked up that hill in the wind. This also throws doubt upon any suicide theory, along with the fact that her career and cafe were on the up and, an awkward encounter with her violent ex-husband Pat DiCicco aside, her fellow partygoers said she had been in good spirits.

Thelma's mother, though later backing down, claimed her daughter was murdered and her chauffeur recalled that she had ordered him not to stop at any lights during the drive home, afraid of 'gangland bullets'. DiCicco worked for 'Lucky' Luciano, and there were claims that Thelma's Sidewalk Cafe was being used as a gambling den... Whatever the truth, Thelma was just 29 when she lost her life.

Thelma Todd

#3. Jean Harlow

Born Harlean Harlow Carpenter, Jean Harlow's film career was something of an accident. Dared by her friend Rosalie Roy to audition for Central Casting, she used the name Jean Harlow and was offered various jobs before her mother convinced her to take work in early 1928 as a $7 a day extra in Honour Bound. By the end of the year she had signed a five year contract with Hal Roach Studios for $100 a week - only to tear it up in March 1929 on account of her career coming between her and her husband, Chuck McGrew.

After their divorce later that year, Jean returned to acting and bagged the leading role in Hell's Angels, the highest grossing film of 1930. Although her acting failed to impress the critics, her box office credentials were such that MGM bought out her existing contract for $30,000 on March 3rd 1932 - Jean's 21st birthday. Not even the premature and suspicious death of her second husband, MGM executive Paul Bern, could slow her rise to the top - nor her divorce from third husband Harold Rosson in 1934.

By 1937 Jean was a worldwide star, but the workload was taking its toll. She contracted severe influenza in the January, then suffered sepsis following a wisdom tooth extraction in March. On the set of Saratoga in May 1927 she complained of nausea and abdominal pain, and had to be escorted home on the 29th after almost collapsing, where she was diagnosed with an inflamed gallbladder. It wasn't until another doctor was brought in for a second opinion on June 6th that the truth was realised - Jean was in the final stages of kidney failure. She was admitted to LA's Good Samaritan Hospital that evening, but fell into a coma and died at 11:37am the next morning, aged just 26.

Jean Harlow

#2. Olive Thomas

Olive Duffy dropped out of school at 15 to get a job, and married Bernard Krug Thomas less than a year later in April 1911. By 1913 they were separated and Olive moved to New York to live with family. There she won the 'Most Beautiful Girl in New York City' contest and began a new career as an illustrator's model. From there she joined the Ziegfeld Follies in 1915 and entered an affair with Florenz Ziegfeld, who refused to leave his wife, Billie Burke, for her.

In 1916, having obtained a divorce from Thomas, she began dating Jack Pickford. They eloped together in October 1916 and married, though in public they played the long game and only announced their engagement in 1917. By 1920 their tumultuous marriage was on the rocks and, in an attempt to save it, the pair travelled to France for a second honeymoon. After a long night of partying they returned to their hotel room around 3am on September 6th 1920, where Jack promptly fell asleep.

Olive, tired and the worse for drink and possibly cocaine, mistook Jack's liquid mercury bichloride - prescribed to treat his syphilis - for sleeping pills and began screaming. She was rushed to hospital but eventually died five days later. Officially recorded as an accident, rumours of suicide, overdose, and even murder continued to circulate until Jack's death in 1933 and beyond.

Olive Thomas Pickford

#1. Lucille Ricksen

There are tragic starlets and then there is poor little Lucille Ricksen. Born Ingeborg Myrtle Elisabeth Ericksen in 1910, both she and her older brother Marshall were put to work as models and actors practically from birth. At 11, Samuel Goldwyn cast her in The Adventures of Edgar Pomeroy, and she quickly became recognised as one of the most promising actresses of her generation.

That wasn't enough for her agents. By 1923 she was being cast as an adult and proclaimed as the silver screen's youngest leading lady by the press - even after aging her up by three years. Her workdays were long and gruelling, so much so that she churned out ten full length films in just seven months in 1924. Later that year she fell ill, though continued to work on The Galloping Fish and then The Denial, until she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and confined to bed in January 1925. Just a few weeks later, towards the end of February, her mother Ingeborg suffered a heart attack and collapsed - dead - atop Lucille's bed.

On March 13th Lucille followed her mother to the grave. Her official cause of death was TB. Rumours swirled that the real cause was a botched abortion, possibly the result of an encounter with The Galloping Fish co-star Sydney Chaplin. Her death was seen as a warning to parents not to force their child stars to grow up too soon. For 14-year-old Lucille it was already too late.

Lucille Ricksen

For more like this, click the image below:
Friday Five

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Mini Mart: Helen's OOAK Miniatures

Helen's OOAK Miniatures

Supplier: Helen's OOAK Miniatures
Website: Etsy Store.

Based in Bridlington, England, Helen's OOAK Miniatures specialises in 1/12 scale nursery furniture and accessories. They have the cutest modern style prams (£35), pushchairs (£35), and bouncers (£10), along with a wider range of 1/12 scale accessories. I was really taken with their 3D printed and hand painted miniature Fisher Price toys, land picked up the circus train (£13) and camera (£3). They even come with little cardboard boxes.

I also got a school bus (£10) - check it out beside my roughly 1/6 scale World's Smallest version - and a little vintage looking monkey (£10) I'm going to add some tiny cymbals to. They have a huge range of other FP toys I was really tempted by, but I already own quite a few by Sarah's OOAK Babies so I restrained myself!

Helen's OOAK Miniatures on Etsy

Post and Packing: £4 within the UK.

For more like this, please click the image below:
Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Children's Christmas Gift Guide

Babi a Fi 2019 Children's Christmas Gift Guide

Here is my 2019 children's Christmas gift guide. A few of the items I've been given for review in the past, like the eat sleep doodle pillowcase, but there is nothing on this list that has any PR strings attached. I just really like them! :)

Before we start, my main advice is never pay RRP. Shop around, check out the discount and coupon sites, and always make sure you're not missing out on potential cashback. Similarly, don't be afraid to go homemade or second hand; even if you need to get big play equipment or furniture shipped with Shiply or the like, it can still work out much cheaper. For buying new I recommend first trying the discount stores like Bargain Max, XS-Stock, B&M, etc, as they have some awesome deals.

As the guide itself is quite long I've broken the guide down into various categories for easier reading:

Stocking Fillers
Interactive Pets
Get Creative
For The Little Ones
Let's Pretend! (role play)
The Great Outdoors
Cuddly Toy

Okay, here we go!

World's Smallest


Marianna has been bitten by the Twisty Petz (£5+) bug so we'll be getting a couple of those for her stocking, or at least an off-brand alternative, and I'll also be hitting up WowTastic - they offer tons of party bag type stuff, with free shipping on orders of £10 and over. Other ideas to prevent sugar overload include hair bows, toy cars, Lego minifigs, small puzzles (ball mazes, rubik's cubes, miniature jigsaws, etc), and the - in my humble opinion - ultimate stocking stuffer: the World's Smallest range (£5+). They are just so cool!

Twisty Petz



They're absolutely everywhere this year and range hugely in appearance, quality, and price tag! I have a big soft spot for Rizmo, though I definitely wouldn't pay RRP (£60) for it. Marianna desperately wanted a VTech Myla The Magical Make-Up Unicorn (£40) and pester power secured it; it's fairly good value for what it does, but its voice is annoying and if I could have steered her towards something else I would have.

On the less pink and sparkly side of things, FurReal have some great dinosaur pets, along with more exotic animals ranging from parrots to tigers, and Fingerlings have expanded their range into all kinds of weird and wonderful options.




Arts and crafts are always a good bet when it comes to Christmas presents. There are lots of fab craft sets on the box which come with everything you need and nice simple instructions, from glass painting to candle making to DIY Board Games. We tried out Eat Sleep Doodle fabric colouring earlier this year, which is really fun, and you can also get colour in clothing from the Selfie Clothing Co. I've also got Marianna a Smiggle voucher because visiting the shop makes me feel like I'm seven again! For standard art supplies, The Works do lovely looking carry case sets from £10.

Other crafty ideas I would recommend include a LCD writing tablet (c. £10) which is like a high-tech version of a magnadoodle which will help you save untold trees, and a small light box for tracing or LED photo studio box (c. £10 a piece) which are perfect for photographing small toys and the like. If you prefer a gift that keeps on giving, consider a subscription box - there are lots of different ones out there and you can sign up for a full year or just a few months depending on your budget.

Toucan Box

Lottie Doll


Okay, so dolls and miniatures are my thing, it's no secret. And there are lots of cool options on the toy shelves this year... it's just that most of them are way overpriced for what they are. Brand names are all, I know, but if you can convince your kids away you'll be able to avoid the worst of this year's crop! For younger kids I recommend Lottie; the dolls are reasonably priced and very well made.

Lori Doll Glamper

For the older age range I'm loving the Lori Glamper (£29.99) - it's 1/12 scale so fine for those little L.O.L.s -  and Mattel's new Creatable World dolls (£27.99 but they do come with a range of outfits). I don't think much of the big name doll houses being advertised this year, to be honest. If you can get away with it go for a cheaper one, or even second hand, and fix it up with new paper: my go to are the Pepin Patterns books, but you can do just fine with wallpaper samples. (I've got a handy list of 50 outlets who will post some to you for free HERE.) Below is a pic of an old ELC dollhouse I did up for Marianna - her 1/6 (Barbie) scale house is an old Sindy house with the same treatment.

Cyberman's House

wooden rainbow


In my opinion, there's very little point going overboard when it comes to young children. They won't remember, can even find it upsetting and overwhelming, and in all likelihood they really will prefer the cardboard box to play with! A keepsake present or two can be really sweet though, like a personalised story book you can read together, or something like Book of Everyone's personalised Wise Words For Kids which can be fun now and in the future.

Fisher Price Linkimals

Then, for play, my top picks this year are the Fisher Price Linkimals - pictured above is the Smooth Moves Sloth (£29.99), but the Moose does many of the same things and is retailing for £12.99. Another idea I really like are the stackable wooden rainbows on the market now; they're great for teaching colours and encouraging grip and co-ordination, and when they're too old to play with it you can still use it as a cute home decoration.

Melissa & Doug Star Diner


Imaginative play is one of the best things about childhood, but even the most creative kid won't begrudge a little physical substance. When it comes to role play toys, Melissa & Doug are my favourite brand on the market: their wooden play food is fantastic quality and their play kitchens and houses are packed with cute little details. On the downside, they're kind of pricey - pictured above is the Star Diner which will set you back at least £120.

Casdon Role Play Toys

Casdon are another brand I'd highly recommend - their realistic looking kitchenware is especially captivating, but they do everything from mini Flymo lawn mowers, to rotary washing lines, to tool benches, to baby doll car booster seats. If money's tight my top pick for this year is Asda's role play range. Their food truck play kitchen (£64) is adorable and their compact deluxe kitchen is just £35.

Asda Food Truck Play Kitchen



Beyond the ever beloved trampoline, there are some awesome garden toys available. There's laser tag (£15+), mud kitchens, and the Bilibo spinning seat (£20+) pictured above. It might take a few months before they see serious action, but all the classics are worth considering - scooters, bikes, kites, skipping ropes, roller skates, etc - and, wandering away from the beaten track, check out Gubberloves (kid sized rubber gloves), children's litter picking sets (you can even get raptor pickers!), seeds, garden tools, and all manner of wildlife habitats. Membership with your local wildlife trust, community farm, etc, might also appeal.

Bird Feeders



There are so many cool STEM toys on the market these days, catering to all ages and interests. Even so, you can't beat the old favourites. This year I've bought Marianna a pair of children's binoculars (£6+) and the i-SPY Book of Birds (£1.49) for Christmas, and the 2020 Guide To The Night Sky (£5.50) and a telescope for her birthday on January 1st. I know absolutely zilch about the latter so I spent ages researching trying to find one that didn't cost a fortune - but wouldn't be outgrown in five minutes flat. Eventually I went for the ESSLNB 70mm (£58.99). Fingers crossed it will do the job!

Other STEM options I've been impressed with this year are the Magformers magnetic construction sets [or Smartmax for younger kids], Bloxels video game builder (£13.99), Science Mad chemistry lab set (£24.99), and the super cute Coding Critters (£39.99).

Coding Critters

Fugglers Cuddly Toy


Christmas, like The Generation Game, wouldn't be complete without one. My choice has to be the Fuggler; I just love everything about these things, right down to the plastic free packaging. Get them from Bargain Max for £7.99.

If you are able to, please consider donating to a Christmas Gift Appeal this year. Even a simple greetings card can make somebody's day.

For more like this, please click the image below:
Gift Ideas

newerPageTitle olderPageTitle Home