Monday, 29 June 2020

Team Gem Dolls

Team Gem Dolls by Moose Toys

This line from Moose Toys is based on an intriguing idea - make your gymnast doll perform tricks with the help of a special magnetic ring. Unfortunately the execution, reading the reviews for them, can be difficult for kids to master and without a strong brand presence behind them the impetus to stick with it seems to be lacking. 

The dolls were originally released in August 2019.



Team Gem Dolls

★ Ruby - box front / contents / back.
★ Jade - box front / contents / back.
★ Saffie - box front / contents / back.
★ Amy - box front / contents / back.

Team Gem Balance Beam and Amber

★ Gemazing Gymanasium and Luna - box front / doll / back.

Team Gem Gemazing Gymnasium 



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Dolls




Sunday, 28 June 2020

This Week: 28/06/2020


Don't merely exist - I urge you to live.



Another week that was, eh? We had the first virtual full council on Tuesday so I went up to the civic centre to chair from there as my internet connection has not been great at home. The thought of 50+ people all on this call waiting on me as I dealt with IT issue #2763 was seriously stressing me out! Luckily it all went fine and we provisionally scheduled another for July, depending on what decisions are taken between now and then.

I popped into school on Friday to sign the health and safety risk assessment for reopening. I feel reassured that schools are doing everything they can to prevent transmission, but I still think Welsh Govt are being foolhardy in going for such a wide return. My first choice would have been an expansion of the keyworker childcare hubs. Anyway, I'm not sending Marianna in - not so much because I fear it will be unsafe, but because the disruption to her routine / upset of having to social distance from her friends, etc, for three days of contact time just isn't worth it. 

On politics way above my level -

Starmer showed decisive leadership over RBL this week, but I can't say I'm 100% convinced by the argument it was for anti-semitism or that he will maintain such high standards for the front bench. The sacking, let's face it, was more for RBL not backing down when he wanted her to - and you've gotta wonder whether he will be as swift when somebody he doesn't want rid of next does something they should know better than. :/ Re. the actual content of that article: there have been legit concerns about police forces around the world buying in training from Israeli counter-terrorism units for years, but that's become conflated with racist police violence in the wake of George Floyd's killing, when it should be about symbiotic relationships between police and military, along with intensive surveillance and profiling.

(Which isn't to say there aren't things we can learn from YAMAM. Just look at this seriously thorough coronavirus response.)

It does bother me that people keep saying Maxine Peake just plucked Israel, of all countries, from nowhere to bring up in the discussion. A few paragraphs previously she had been telling the interviewer that, were it not for coronavirus, she would still have been in Palestine 'liaising with young activists'... The Justice for Eyad al-Hallaq demos were like, what, three weeks ago? A long time in politics, so we're told, but not exactly beyond living memory!

Meanwhile BoJo has been equally decisive in remaining as stubbornly incompetent as ever. Tim Tam biscuits and 'show some guts' at seaside towns are just two of the new lows from recent days. It's just incredible that in raw numbers we have the third worst covid death rate in the world. By population size we should be #21. By population density #49. I suppose it's just like the Brexiteers promised us. 

The UK can be a world leader in something.

:(



Deal of the Week -

Get 15% off your first order at Biscuiteers with referral link - https://biscuiteers.mention-me.com/m/ol/zw4uj-jessica-powell



On the blog this week I reviewed So Slime DIY's new Tie & Dye Slime Washing Machine, along with Mini Mart reviews of Abels 3D Models and Little Shop In Lee on Etsy. For Friday Five I wrote about five members of the Barbie family who simply upped and disappeared one day.

I'm also running a giveaway for a full set of the awesome Dougie's Diary books.



Song of the Week -

Summertime Blues - The Beach Boys



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Friday, 26 June 2020

Friday Five: Barbie Family

Friday Five

Five members of Barbie's family we no longer talk about...



#5. Jazzie

Jazzie, introduced in 1988, was Barbie's cousin. When she wasn't hanging out with the big B at the Big B, Jazzie and her friends (Chelsie and Stacie, no relation, and boyfriend Dude) spent their days committing some of the most atrociously eye searing crimes against fashion. Until they disappeared off the face of the earth in 1992 that is. Unlike previous modern cousin of choice, Francie Fairchild, Jazzie has yet to be resurrected for a repro though she has managed to live on in my 1/6 scale doll house at least, rebodied on one of Mattel's Creatable World dolls.

Barbie Jazzie



#4. Tutti

Barbie's nightmare fodder of a little sister, Tutti, was introduced in 1965. By 1971 she had disappeared from the US market, though lingered on in parts of Europe until 1980.

Barbie Tutti



#3. Krissy

Baby 'Krissy' Kristine was introduced in 1998. By 2001 she was gone, never to be spoken of again. I don't wanna cast doubt on Skipper's babysitting skills but...

Barbie Krissy



#2. Todd

Todd has the dubious distinction of having been killed off discontinued not once but twice. First introduced in 1965 as twin brother to Tutti, Todd returned in 1991 as part of Midge's wedding party. He was soon upgraded to Stacie's twin brother and, for a time, life was good. Football play dates, birthday parties at McDonalds, that kind of thing. Then he fell out of favour and was quietly done away with - returning for one last swan song to play Michael Banks in a Mary Poppins themed release in 2007.

Barbie Todd



#1. Kelly / Shelly

Toddler Kelly (Shelly for the European market) joined the Barbie line in 1995. For the next fifteen years she was kind of ubiquitous, her diminutive size making her - and her seemingly never ending array of identical looking friends - cheap to produce. But even the mightiest can fall. In 2010 she was pulled from shelves and replaced with Chelsea.

Nobody is safe.

Barbie Kelly / Shelly



Which one do you miss most? Let me know in the comments! :)



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Friday Five

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Mini Mart: Little Shop In Lee

Miniature Books and Comics from LittleShopinLee on Etsy

Supplier: Little Shop In Lee
Website: Etsy Store
Products:

1/6 scale books and comics, plus full scale stickers, badges and art. I bought a cute set of two vintage style fairy tale books for £4, and three Life is Strange comics for £3.50. The latter are especially nicely done and came with a bonus temporary tattoo as a little freebie. :)

I took a couple of quick pics with my Creatable World #GGG55 doll to show the scale.

Post and Packing: £1.20 for two items.

Little Shop In Lee on Etsy



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Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures


Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Mini Mart: Abels 3D Models

Abels 3d Models on Etsy

Supplier: Abels 3D Models
Website: Etsy Store
Products:

3D printed furniture and other items in a mix of scales. The 1/12 scale IKEA Trofast caught my eye and set me back £12 including postage. For best effect it really needs some hand finishing to buff out the printing lines, but the quality is great and the sizing is spot on. In the pics you can see it paired up with my Heidi Ott younger lady and a 1/12 scale standard male body from MC Toys. 

Abels 3D Models Miniature

Ultimately I sold this piece on because it wasn't a good fit for the 1970s theme in my 1/12 scale house. But I do have my eye on their 1/6 scale A4 letter trays...

Post and Packing: Most products come with free delivery within the UK.

Abels 3D Models 1/12 Scale IKEA Trofast



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Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures


Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Dougie's Diary Review and Giveaway

Dougie's Diary Book Review and Giveaway

Dougie's Diary - a series of books chronicling the day to day life of a super cute pre-school dinosaur - is the creation of Mandy Khaira, director of Little Me Day Nurseries. They currently have three locations in England, with the kind of central ethos that everyone should get behind:

Little Me Day Nurseries - children should be taught how not what to think

It's what I aspire to, at least, even if home schooling has been a challenge on just about every front. The email asking if I'd like to review the series arrived after a particularly trying day of tantrums, tears, and the crushing sense of inadequacy only a belligerent five year old can bestow. Going back to basics to learn about 'kindness, diversity and thankfulness' had never seemed so appealing!

When the books arrived they totally surpassed my expectations. They're bright, colourful, have the blessing of wipe clean pages, and even managed to win a sulky Marianna over. 

Dougie's Diary Books

Right now there are five books in the series:

Hello, I'm Dougie!
Daisy Comes Home
 Dougie Starts Pre-school
 We Are All Special
 Thank You Day

Each story begins in diary format with Dougie giving an introduction. The text is then presented as a mix of narrative and speech bubbles, with gorgeous full page illustrations by Salamandra and ongoing activities to engage with as you read. On each page children might need to spot a particular toy, for example, or count how many of an item they can see in the picture. There is also a letter hidden in each illustration - when collected together they spell a special word at the end of the story.

I found this really useful because, yeah, asking how many of this or what colour is that as you go along is a simple thing. But. It's something I struggle with. I notice it most when my mum (who was a nursery nurse herself once upon a time) reads with Marianna because it really highlights how, despite my best intentions, I have not been asking those questions again.

Dougie's Diary Book Review

So, unsurprisingly, I loved that each book had a page of questions and prompts at the end of the story too. It encourages children to use the collected illustrations to retell the story in their own words, and gives you guided suggestions on issues your child might want to discuss further.

The thing I have found hardest about home schooling is how little I think like a five year old. What I mean by that is that it often just does not occur to me to go back over what we're learning in the way Marianna needs. I want to make progress. Marianna wants to revisit and consolidate. The addition of these pages made me slow down and engage much more effectively.

Dougie's Diary Review

The books are aimed at 3 to 5 year olds, putting Marianna in the upper range. Marianna really enjoyed them, all the same, and to make it a little more challenging I got her to read Dougie's speech bubbles to me. Overall she did pretty well and, importantly, Dougie's speech came in short enough bursts that she didn't get too frustrated with the attempt.

The stories deal with things children face each day - anxiety at going to a new place, questions about why other people look different to them, why it's important to be kind, etc. The bread and butter of being a decent human being, basically! Marianna found the characters easy to relate to, and especially loved that Dougie had a collection of waistcoats and bow ties. (Just like Daddy.) 

Her favourite was Thank You Day because, and I quote, 'we all need to learn how to be kind'. Indeed.



For more information check out the Dougie's Diary page, complete with online editions of the books and downloadable colouring sheets. If you prefer physical books they are available on Amazon for £4.99 each. Or, you can fill out the Gleam widget below for a chance to win a full set. :)


Dougie's Diary Book Giveaway


 *We were sent these books to review, but all thoughts and opinions are our own!*



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Monday, 22 June 2020

So Slime Tie & Dye Washing Machine

So Slime DIY Tie Dye Washing Machine Promo Image

I have written before - at length - about my aversion to slime. It's sticky, it's icky, and it gets absolutely everywhere! Marianna, on the other hand, is a big fan of the stuff. The upshot is that a while back I was super psyched to get an email proposing a solution to the problem.

Slime washing machines.

So Slime DIY Washing Machine

The idea is simple but genius. You put your slime and your dye into the drum of a little play washing machine, watch as the drum turns and mixes the colour in, then you take the slime out and it's ready to use - without staining your skin bright green / pink / blue / delete as appropriate. 

These are produced by Canal Toys as part of their So Slime DIY brand. We reviewed one of their regular Slimelicious kits (RRP £9.99) back in March. It was fun and Marianna enjoyed it, but the slime consistency was difficult to get right which is all too likely to mean sticky grossness smeared across your furniture.

So Slime DIY Tye and Dye Washing Machine
 Mess Free! Squeeze a little drop of dye into the drum through the well designed openings.

This set is more expensive at a RRP of £17.99 but, in my opinion, you get more bang for your buck. You get the washing machine, two packets of ready mixed slime, a washing basket, a detergent bottle for storing your slime, three little bottles of colour and scent, and a pack of stickers to decorate the pieces. Not included are the inevitable three AA batteries - and the screwdriver to get the battery compartment open. 

The machine itself is good quality and we had no problems getting the drum to spin, although the instructions on how to place the slime were a little confusing. The diagram suggested stretching it across the sections of the drum but, in the end, I just chucked it in, closed the door, and hoped for the best. This, coincidentally, is my approach to most laundry related quandaries. Luckily for me, this time at least, it worked out just fine.

So Slime DIY Canal Toys

I was super impressed with the end result. The pre-mixed slime is a lovely consistency, and the turning over in the washing machine only improves it. Even better, the tie dye effect was perfect. Look at how pretty that slime is in the picture above! Marianna, of course, wanted to put more dye in it. Then more again. Until the slime had been through the machine four or five times and resembled green sludge. M insisted it was now truly beautiful...

What I really love though is that even when the initial - secondary, even tertiary - slime mania is over it's a toy that still has a lot of life left in it. As an occasionally active eco type worried about the barriers to toy recycling this pleases me. And as a doll collector I am always excited at the prospect of scale models, even more so when they are both operational and affordable. As you can see below, the washing machine is a bit oversized for 1/6 'Barbie' scale but not horrendously so. (If you need something more true to scale, I've got a post for that.)

So Slime DIY Washing Machine for 1/6 Playscale Dolls

1/4 scale is a better fit, so your MSD ball-jointed dolls, American Girl and other 18 inch play dolls, etc, etc. This is good news if you're outfitting a bigger doll house as the available 1/4 sale models on the market tend to be expensive and / or hard to come by. Eg. The Our Generation Washer and Dryer set is super cute and does come with an ironing board, etc. But it will also set you back almost £80. The American Girl set is an eye watering $150. So this one is a great alternative, especially as the drum turns and it makes a washing machine noise. 

For more information, and to check out the other products in the So Slime range, take a look at the Canal Toys website.

So Slime DIY 1/4 Scale Doll Washing Machine

*We were sent the washing machine to review, but all thoughts and opinions are our own!*



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Thursday, 11 June 2020

Mini Mart: Feel Toys

Feel Toys 1/12 Scale Shoes

Supplier: Feel Toys
Website: feeltoys.co
Products:

Feel Toys are a Chinese company specialising in 'sexy' outfits and shoes for female action figures, particularly the Phicen TBLeague seamless variety. I'd never really paid them any attention before because, well, there is no shortage of 1/6 scale shoe makers and I'd never needed to. 

But. Over the last couple of years ever more action figure companies, including Phicen, have been dipping their toe into the world of 1/12 which means a) doll house hobbyists can finally get realistic jointed figures for a reasonable price, and b) all kinds of companies are making awesome 1/12 scale stuff now. (I could whinge about why it's only a scale worth investing in when men are collecting it, but it would only make me sound salty...)

Anyway, attractive 1/12 scale shoes have always been kind of difficult to come by. There are some amazing artisans, don't get me wrong, but I just can't justify spending that kind of money on a single pair of shoes I can't even wear. So, up to now, my go to has been trawling eBay for shoes from the New Moon 6" Sindy, Hornby Cassy, and the odd bargain from the Azone Picco Neemo range. 

FeelToys 1/12 Scale Shoes Picco Neemo

Then, one of my favourite UK miniature stores - Shepherd Miniatures - launched a range of amazing 3D printed shoes for £23 a pair. I splurged one time and, omg, they may be pricey but are so beautiful. That brings us back to Feel Toys. They are not as teeny tiny as the Shepherd Miniatures shoes, but you can get them for about £8 including postage. I couldn't resist!

Although they're advertised for the Phicen 1/12 scale dolls, I couldn't get their feet in and didn't want to risk breaking the delicate shoes by forcing the issue. The old style Picco Neemo S feet were way too small, and my recast Picco Neemo M feet were a little too big. The best fit I had was with the new Picco Neemo S body - they're a bit big, but not massively so. Plus they look awesome just littering the floor. :)

FeelToys Shoes

Post and Packing: N/A

Below is a comparison with the Shepherd Miniature shoes. They're too narrow for all my 1/12 doll feet, but you can angle them on a Picco Neemo or Heidi Ott foot for a quick pic. :) 



(Model - new style Picco Neemo S body with Black Series Hoth Leia head.)



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Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures


Sunday, 7 June 2020

This Week - 07/06/2020


Don't worry. No one else knows what they're doing either.



To anyone reading this - sorry for going MIA for, eep, over a month. I've kind of been having that breakdown I was heading straight for before coronavirus reached our sunny shores. I'm still not 100% but I'm definitely in a better place than I was. I'm just trying to take it one day at a time right now and make sure Marianna is fed, watered and educated. Anything else accomplished on top of that is a bonus.

I had a trial run on MS Teams for full council this week which ended in the decision I'll go into the civic centre and chair from there. I don't know if it's my internet connection or my laptop - I suspect a bit of both - but trying to use Teams is like using a webcam c. 1996. So very slow and so very glitchy. Of course it's a total open secret that I was stepping down from all chairing at the AGM, but coronavirus had other ideas. Everything but essential business has been postponed so my dreams of quiet backbencherdom will have to wait a little longer!

The entire situation has tested my resolve, I've got to be honest. I've always felt that, while I disagree intensely with many people in politics, it's a result of different understandings of facts and figures and what the best way forward is. But watching the news over the last few weeks has really eroded that. What matters most to the Government is protecting their own best interests. I mean, you got things wrong. Everyone did. Just admit it and ask for forgiveness and co-operation as we move into the future. But to stand in front of the world's media and announce that you're proud of how well you've handled the crisis.

Just.

I feel like I've been stupid and naive, and therefore complicit in allowing a corrupt system to keep on trucking. It's not a nice feeling. :/

Sigh, anyway. Yesterday Marianna and I followed a YouTube tutorial to do some painting. Obviously their's looked amazing. Mine was... not as awful as I expected it would be. High praise, indeed!

Babiafi Painting



Deal of the Week -

Get £5 free on your Music Magpie trade with referral code / link: https://music-magpie.mention-me.com/m/ol/no1ex-jessica-powell



I have a lot of space to backdate posts on the blog now, I guess...



Song of the Week -

Racist Friend - The Special AKA



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This Week - Weekly Overviews




Saturday, 6 June 2020

Hits of 1995

What I'm Listening To

Anthony's year suggestion was 1995, so here are my top ten favourite tracks of the year...



Common People - Pulp

"You will never understand / How it feels to live your life / With no meaning or control / And with nowhere left to go." - Pulp providing the anthem for poor kids everywhere. I used to worry that I was going to end up living out the verse:

"Never live like common people / Never do what common people do / Never fail like common people / Never watch your life slide out of view / And then dance and drink and screw / Because there's nothing else to do."

Now I just wish I had!




Kiss From a Rose - Seal

Like a lot of the songs on this list, 1995's Kiss From a Rose was actually a re-release. It had hit #20 in 1994 but, with the boost of inclusion on the Batman Forever soundtrack, in '95 it peaked at #4 in the UK as well as making #1 in the USA and Australia.




Sunshine After The Rain - Berri

It wasn't until I started collating this post that I realised the original track was by Ellie Greenwich, and was released way back in 1968. Elkie Brooks covered it in 1977, then Berri gave it her own spin in 1994, reaching #26 in the UK. She re-released it in 1995, this time around getting it to peak at #4.




Boombastic - Shaggy

After It Wasn't Me came out I bought Shaggy's back catalogue. I'm not embarrassed. Much.




Don't Stop (Wiggle Wiggle) - The Outhere Brothers

This Outhere Brothers track was a #1 hit in the UK, Ireland, and Spain, and made the top ten in Australia, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands. The video is really cool too, especially considering how much time it would have taken to edit back in '95.




Search For The Hero - M People

#9 hit from the incomparable M People.




Wonderwall - Oasis

It's so overplayed that my first reaction is always, ugh. Then I actually listen to it and remember all over again what a great track it actually is.




Right In The Night - Jam & Spoon

Originally a #31 hit in the UK, the track was re-released in 1995 and made it to #10.




Baby Baby - Corona

Another song I never realised was a cover; originally a 1991 hit for Joy & Joyce, Italian band Corona got it to #5 on the UK charts in early 1995.




Boom Boom Boom - The Outhere Brothers

I think this is the first time I've had two tracks by the same act on one of these lists but, how can anything beat Boom Boom Boom? Because when you think 1995 Eurodance, your mind inevitably goes straight to an American house duo. (Clean version below, original on Youtube.)




What was your favourite hit of 1995? Let me know in the comments. :)



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What I'm Listening To



Friday, 5 June 2020

Friday Five: Stores Cwmbran Needs


Friday Five

Cwmbran Shopping is one of the major success stories of local shopping centres. It's the second largest shopping centre in Wales and, at times, footfall can rival that of Cardiff. All the same, there are still a few stores I would love to see...



#5. H&M

Kind of the midway point between Primark and a more branded clothes shop, and especially useful for cute kids' clothes.



#4. Tiger

We had a Flying Tiger but it closed down at New Year's. :( It was the best place for quirky storage and gifts so I wish it would return. Or they would at least start offering online shopping...



#3. Comics Store

A chain or an Indie, I'm not fussy. Just somewhere that stocks collectibles so I can go check them out in person before prying open my pursestrings.



#2. Paperchase

Because no town can have too many stationery shops.



#1. LUSH

LUSH is such a destination store, it's basically the only thing I go to Cardiff for these days. If we had one here I'd never need to leave the 'Bran again. ;)

Lush



Which one would you like most? Let me know in the comments! :)



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