Sunday, 31 March 2019

This Week - 31/03/2019

You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water

It's been a long week. Not because I've been busy - I haven't - but because my back has been in agony. The worst seems to be over now so here's to hoping that tomorrow morning I manage to get out of bed unaided!

On the blog I've been writing about My Favourite Dinosaurs, the new range of #SNAPSTAR dolls, MGA's old Novi Stars doll line, and a Mother's Day Gift Guide. Talking of Mother's Day, I got Marianna to answer a cute little questionnaire I found on Pinterest. You can read her answers HERE.

Frugal Five

Frugal Five - a new feature whereby I document the details of five wins / bargains / etc from the past week...

★ Get a totally free card from Planet Cards with the code EPCARDFREE. You can personalise the front, back, and message to make awesome special occasion cards.

★ And another from with the code JESSICAGJA6. You can check out my review of the site HERE; they're really good quality and ship quickly too.

★ Don't want to cook next week? Try out a Gousto box for half price. Read our review of them HERE.

★ And don't let your four legged friend feel left out. You can get a week's worth of dog food from Butternut Box with a 75% discount.

★ Finally, my free sample of the week goes to Love Your Home. Choose 10 free fabric samples. :)

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Mother's Day Interviews

I found this great little Mother's Day interview on Who Arted? So I got Marianna to fill one out for me and my mum. Here are her answers...

do crafts
Hello. Goodbye.
cut down the tree. Talk about some things and working.
play with me
cwtching me
to the park
she kisses me.

Nanny Wendy
I don't know.
have cwtches
Good morning, Marianna.
going shopping
to play with me
to the moon
she sleeps too much, and she eats strawberries and lets me eat them too.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Top Ten Dinosaurs

Top Ten Dinosaurs

Cwmbran has become famous for its dinosaurs - well, dinosaur - over the last few weeks. Jerry Adams heard that Dan yr Ogof caves were selling off some of their fibreglass dinosaur models to make room for updated versions with sensors. Auctioned off on Ebay, the hope was that the dinosaurs would raise money for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). In the end Jerry paid £1600 to bring the 15 foot high dino home, and is in the process of raising even more via JustGiving.

Alun the Allosaurus has now set up residence in Jerry's front garden, attracting visitors from far and wide!

So, in celebration of Alun, here are my top ten favourite dinosaurs...

Dippy the Diplodocus

Dippy the Diplodocus

From the moment William Harlow Reed found its thigh bone in December 1898, Dippy set about making dinosaur a household word. Carnegie Museum of Natural History - aka 'the house that Dippy built' - first put the composite diplodocus skeleton on display in 1907. Carnegie also donated plaster casts of the skeleton to museums in Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Vienna, St. Petersburg, and more.

The very first cast went to London in 1905 at the request of King Edward VII, and has since become an iconic symbol of the Natural History Museum. He even starred in Disney's 1975 live action comedy, One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing. In 2017, after 112 years on display, Dippy was finally ousted in favour of a blue whale called Hope. Dippy is currently on a tour of the UK; right now you can catch him in Glasgow.

Gertie the Dinosaur

Gertie the Dinosaur 

Here we can see Dippy's influence in action. Gertie was the creation of Winsor McCay, who originally used his 12 minute long animation in front of live audiences as part of his vaudeville act. Based on Dippy's close cousin, the brontosaurus, by the end of 1914 McCay had filmed an extra live action sequence and added intertitles, allowing Gertie to be shown in cinemas across the USA.

Gertie was one of the very first animated films and her success really kickstarted the American animation industry. Check it out for yourself!

Dinosaurs Dyno and Baby Sinclair

Baby Sinclair (Dinosaurs)

Dinosaurs was a live action Disney sitcom about the lives of a family of dinosaurs. That's the kind of thing that made sense in the early 1990s. Anyway, as a kid watching the show on ITV, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. And the best thing since the show itself was the wisecracking, fourth wall breaking Baby Sinclair. Just look at that little guy.

Jurassic Park Raptors

Raptors of Jurassic Park

The original Jurassic Park film wowed the world in 1993. I was too busy being terrified of the velociraptors. More than once I had to get my dad to check there weren't any under the bed. I mean, a baby raptor could fit in that space just fine!

Fisher Price Bruce the Brontosaurus Dino-Roar


Dino-roars were a range of Fisher Price soft toys launched in the early 90s. Coming in an array of eye watering neon colours, you squeezed the plushie and it made a weird wheezy roar. Rhys had a Bruce the Brontosaurus in bright yellow, known as Roarasaurus. Marianna has since inherited it and regularly 'treats us' to a dino-riffic early morning wake up call.



Inspired by the fictional Rhedosaurus from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Toho decided they needed their own film about a giant made-up dinosaur. Wildly successful upon its release in 1954, Toho capitalised on their creation by turning it into the star of the world's longest running film franchise. Throughout the 35 official films and countless other appearances, Godzilla has fought everything from a giant moth to King Kong to the cyborg God of the Seatopians.

What a guy.

The Flintstones Pebbles and Dino

Dino (The Flintstones)

Because who wouldn't want a pet snorkasaurus?

Land Before Time

Land Before Time

I was born the same year Steven Spielberg / George Lucas masterpiece was released - 1988 - and I was as enthralled by it as any other 90s kid watching it on home video. Apparently 10 minutes of footage were cut from the film to make it more suitable for children. It still used to scare me!

Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness Monster

Cryptozoologists have long postulated that Nessie represents the survival of the plesiosaur into modern times. The most famous photograph of the monster, purported to be a chance 1934 holiday snap by London gynaecologist Robert Kenneth Wilson, has since been debunked as a hoax created using an altered toy submarine from Woolworths. But, as the X-Files taught us, the truth is [still] out there.

Toy Story Rex

Rex (Toy Story)

For too long the Tyrannosaurus Rex was seen only as a ferocious predator. Then we decided its ridiculous arms meant it was probably a scavenger. And agonised for decades over whether or not it had feathers.

Whatever the truth, Toy Story taught us that the T-Rex is just as good a candidate for being made into a soft toy as any other dinosaur.

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This Month In Fandom

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day Gift Guide

Traditionally, Mothering Sunday was the day when people returned to their mother church (typically the church where one was baptised) for a Laetare Sunday - the fourth Sunday in Lent - service. As time went on it became more of an occasion for visiting family, especially mothers, although the practice was waning by the 1920s.

At least it was until Anna Jarvis' work in establishing the US Mother's Day in 1914 inspired Constance Penswick-Smith to set up the Mothering Sunday Movement. Smith's 1921 pamphlet on the issue was quickly picked up by the card, confectionery, etc industries and heavily promoted. By 1950s the newly secularised holiday was celebrated across the UK.

Today Mother's Day is so entrenched that forgetting will put you firmly in the dog house! Here are five categories of gifts to cover all eventualities...

#5. Food and Drink

Sweet or savoury, store bought or homemade, your mum is bound to have a soft spot for something. Whatever you get, fancy presentation will transform it into something spectacular - and is a good excuse to use up the tissue paper, ribbons, and other bits and bobs you've probably got stashed away somewhere. If tradition appeals, you could even opt for simnel (marzipanned fruit) cake which was popular enough for the day to be known as Simnel Sunday in the 18th century.

#4. Looking Good

Clothes, jewellery, perfume and cosmetics - you know the kind of thing! If your mum is loyal to a favourite product or two your work here is easy. If not my top tip is a subscription box; you can get most of them as a one off, as well as ongoing packages, and they offer a mix of products for your mum to try out. Popular boxes include BirchboxGlossybox, and more.

Mum and Child

#3. Staying In vs. Going Out

Books, music, video games, DVDs, magazine subscriptions - any mum will appreciate some well chosen entertainment. Perhaps your mum prefers going out? Concert tickets, experience days, cinema passes, afternoon tea and stress free meals - they're all great choices for Mother's Day.

#2. Frivolity

Motherhood is often about practicality. Things can look nice, sure, but they've got to withstand sticky little fingers, clumsy little feet, and generally serve some greater purpose to home and family. Mother's Day is the day to throw all that out the window and gift your mum something to simply enjoy. Flowers, perhaps, or an addition to whatever it might be your mum is - or would like to be! - collecting.

#1. Getting Sentimental

Father's Day is the day for getting soppy about all those special motherhood moments. Framed childhood photos, a vintage find of something you both used to enjoy back in the day (board games, books, crafts...), or personalised items. I'm a big fan of The Book of Everyone which offers a Mum version from £25.99. (Use my referral link to get 20% off.)

You could also go handmade. There are so many cool craft ideas out there, both for you and for the kids. Check out my Pinterest board below for inspiration.

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Gift Ideas

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

MGA Novi Stars

Complete Guide to MGA Novi Stars Dolls

In 2012 MGA Entertainment launched the coolest line of fashion dolls. Novi Stars were, so their packaging blurbs went, were alien girls who land on earth and want to shake up the teenage fashion world. The highly stylized dolls looked amazing thanks to the work of Varner Studios but, sadly, the actual production quality often let them down.

MGA announced they were likely dropping the line in 2013, although a few more dolls were released in 2014 as European exclusives. Crystalline Toybox put together a great post about the prototypes floating around the net which never made it into development. Likewise, some pics here have come from the Novi Stars Checklist Blog.

The dolls have simple articulation at shoulders and hips, and stand about 7.5 inches tall. (The Super Novas and Stellar Skinz dolls were taller at around 9 inches.) Another cool aspect of the Novi Stars was the fact that the box handles became headbands for kids to wear.

Still, if you're looking for something different to display, the Novi Stars have you covered!


Novi Stars Alie Lectric, Una Verse, Mae Tallick and Ari Roma

Novi Stars Fashion Packs
Fashion Packs - Space Dreamer, Galactic Gown and Winter Gear.

Novi Stars Energy Pod Playset
Energy Pod Playset, with Nita Light Doll and Pet.
Check out the TV ad HERE.

Novi Stars Secret Pet Pods
Secret Pet Pods - FoxxiLemiMebaOctogen, Oko, QuaxZero, Zogi.

Novi Stars Glitter LampNovi Stars Glitter Lamp
Colour Change Glitter Lamp.


Novi Stars Malie Tasker, Tula Toned and Sila Clops Basic Dolls Sila Clops, Malie Tasker, and Tula Toned.
Check out the TV ad HERE.

Novi Stars Orbit Beach

Novi Stars Stellar Skinz CiCi ThruStellar Skinz Gail Lexi
Stellar Skinz Cici Thru and Gail Lexi.

Novi Stars Super Novaz Mimi Terize and Vera Tabray

Super Novas Vera Tabray and Mimi Merize.

Novi Stars Invasion Anne ArticNovi Stars Invasion Ina Ferna
Invasion Anne Artic and Ina Ferna.
Check out the TV ad HERE.

Curl n Coil Roe BotikCurl n Coil Tily Vizon
Curl 'n' Coil Roe Botik and Tily Vizon.
Check out the TV ad HERE.

Novi Stars Makeover Station Cici Thru and Gail Lexi.


Super Novas Doe a DeerSuper Novas Justina Hour
Super Novas Doe a Deer and Justina Hour.

Novi Stars Invasion Carmela SweetNovi Stars Invasion Frostina Sprinkles
Invasion Carmela Sweet and Frostina Sprinkles.

Cici Thru Makeover StationGail Lexi Makeover Station
Novi Stars Makeover Station Cici Thru and Gail Lexi.

Other Merchandise

The line was popular enough to spawn make up, bedding, and knock-off dolls of varying degrees of cheap nastiness!

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Tuesday, 26 March 2019

General Wishlist

General Wishlist

30 things I hope to buy over the next couple of years or so, collated here for ease of editing! :)

☆ Laser Printer
☆ Copy Paper
☆ Photo Paper
☆ Sticky Labels
☆ Toner
☆ Pressure Washer
☆ Polymer Clay
☆ Miniature Silicone Moulds
☆ Miniature Cookie Cutters
☆ Varnish
☆ Craft Knife
☆ Candles
☆ Glass Nail File
☆ Metallic Nail Tape
☆ Bangle Mould
☆ Resin
☆ Daylight Lamp
☆ Magnifier
☆ Craft Iron
☆ Pliers
☆ Socks
☆ Extra Glasses
☆ Prescription Sunglasses
☆ ipad
☆ case
☆ keyboard
☆ apple pen

Monday, 25 March 2019

Introducing #SNAPSTAR Dolls

Introducing Snapstar Dolls

YULU Toys, best known for their active play gizmos, launched a new line of fashion dolls this January. #SNAPSTAR is a range of six girls - each with 'their own unique personality and social influencer persona' - who can be teamed up with a smartphone to convince kids of the wonders of photo editing.

I sound flippant but, actually, I think it's a great idea. On the one hand it makes for interactive play; each doll comes with a cardboard green screen and a free download of the Snapstar Studio App, so kids can change the backgrounds, hair, and makeup on screen. It also has the scope to be a real teaching tool, introducing the idea that social media reality is, well, not quite the same as everyday reality.

Because it's all fun and games, but the truth is that the #instaenvy worthy shots kids see all day, every day, generally took a lot of time and effort to achieve - both before and after the picture was taken.

Snapstar Dolls by Yulu Toys

Anyway, the first wave of dolls are now available from Smyths at £17.99 each. The dolls are 25cm tall, have 14 points of articulation, and kind of remind me of Liv with their inset eyes and wigs. From left to right the first wave gives us:

 ★ Izzy. 'I love arts and crafts! Drawing, painting, cutting pasting - I love finding old things and transforming them into something new.'
 ★ Echo.
 ★ Yuki. 'Music has always been my passion. I write and record my own songs and DJ on the weekends.'
 ★ Aspen. 'I love to travel and I'm always on the go!'
 ★ Dawn.
 ★ Lola. 'I love animals because they're so kind and loving - I'd adopt them all if I could!'

Snapstar Fashion Packs

There is also a range of separate fashion packs available. They don't have official names as far as I know, so I've simply described them in the list below.

★ Summer Dress.
★ Lolita Dress.
★ Blue Dress.
★ Denim Look.
★ Pink Dress.
★ Playsuit.

Snapstar Photo Studio and Doll

Aspen's Fashion Photo Studio - box front / box back.
★ Pop Royalty Echo - box front / box back.
★ Vita Fabulous Fashions - box front / box back.

Pop Royalty EchoVita Fabulous Fashions

Snapstars Dolls Social Media

Keep up to date with #SNAPSTAR releases on FacebookInstagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube.

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