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Tonner Taste on a Barbie Budget ? Doll prop sharing for fun and savings !

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Review - Advance A for Barbie
Pattern Review - B5902 !
The Midge Factor

Sometimes enjoying your dolls can get a bit frustrating, especially when there's a certain scene you want to play. Props always make doll play fun ! But what looks fantastic with your 11.5-inch dolls is just too tiny for your 16-inch beauties or too huge for your tinier ones. And what if what you *really* want for your dolls is either too expensive or simply isn't made ?

Answer : Start looking in other places and develop your eye for scale ! I love the hunt, and have discovered that a number of sixth-scale doll accessories (read : Barbie pieces) work great with larger dolls, like Gene and Tyler. Since it's readily available, even in yard sales, and usually fairly cheap even new, trying out various pieces to see what fits who is tons of fun !

And, since not all of us can afford custom-made stuff, here's what I've found to work, from a number of maybe-unexpected sources, with photos ! While many of my finds are just darn luck, I don't leave home without a tape measure anymore. Still, we all develop 'the eye' for the scale we love best, and it rarely steers us wrong when we find a cute set of refrigerator magnets that just *might* work...

So, here's my roundup. Tonner Tastes on a Barbie Budget ! Feel free to send me your findings - after all, is there a doll fan - of any size ! - among us who doesn't love cool props ?

First Up : "My Scene" Barbie stuff !

Accessory Kits !

My Scene Accessories -
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Still your best sunglasses value !

I really like it when my dolls have what I do. And one of my most beloved (non-doll !) posessions is a pair of prescription sunglasses. Had 'em forever. Love 'em every day.

So naturally, I wanted Elphie to have a pair. And both Tonner and Ashton-Drake made 'em for Tyler and Gene. Only problem was, they either came with a $50. doll, or a $20. accessory kit. Even solo on eBay, sunglasses sold for around $12. with shipping. Darn.

Got to thinking about it. Dolls made for child play have suffered from 'big head excess' lately. I mean, have you seen a Bratz doll ? They have a bigger than Matt O'Neill size head on a smaller than Barbie body ! Surely I could score something there...

Nothin' on Bratz...but the local Big Lots had Mattel's 'My Scene' "My Look" accessory sets, for just $1.99 ! Of the four sets, two had sunglasses. I wonder if they'd fit ?

They almost fit !
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As you can see on Elphie up there, they're just a bit shy of her ears. Still, I don't give up easily, once I've spent money. VERY, very carefully, I eased the curved part between my fingers until it was nearly straight with a tiny hook at the end. NOW they fit ! And they look great !

These are the blue pair from the set on your right. A green pair came on the left-hand set, and you can see those on her in the photos with 'the boys'.

The purses can be small clutches, and the green bracelets in the left-side package make neat small ponytail holders. Shoes are a bit of a write-off, though. You'll see below (under Bryant's write up) where I hollowed out a My Scene shoe and it didn't work well at all. But ya never know. One day, if I don't donate 'em first, I may carve off the tops and use the soles for my own custom shoes. If I do, you'll hear about it !

The Guys !

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Meet Bryant !

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I found all three guys at my local Dollar General for just $3. each. Wow. It would be worth it for the sunglasses...but would the clothes fit ? Worth a try !

*Shirt - fit great ! Sleeves are a bit short, but not bad.

*Denim shorts - Only fits if she doesn't sit. Real struggle to fit them over her hips. I could rip up and redo them, but it'd take longer to do that than to make what fits her.

*Hawaiian shorts - Were even tighter. Couldn't get them past her knees.

*Sunglasses - Worth the $3., right there. Absolutely smashing on Fiyero (Matt O'Neill)and sexy on Elphie, too. No adjustments necessary.

*Visor - fits, but looks small.

*Necklace - Shape didn't fit, but a quick curl around my fingers, and it did.

*Bracelet and Watch - Great fit. Looks good, too.

*Shoes - Umm, nope. My Scene dolls, both male and female, have oversize shoe feet that fit over normal Barbie and Ken body feet. I tried to carve 'em, but they look awkward on Elphie and are too small on Fiyero. You may wanna give it a try, but be very careful doing so ! I had to use a box cutter, and one of my fingertips hurts right now...

Shoe carving experiment...
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I doubt I'll repeat it. Not good.

Meet River !

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I was really happy about how much of Bryant's stuff fit, but it wasn't quite as good with River.

*Blue Knit Shirt - Fit, but super tight. I may one day rip off the striped ribbon, it kind of over-emphasizes her bust.

*Striped shirt - Even tighter. Still, it's a nice shirt, so I'll probably alter it. Move the inside snaps to the shirt edge, nibble out some of the side seam and make slits. You can see a slit alteration under Sutton's review below.

*Jeans - No way. Elphie's wearing the jeans I made her for the rest of the photo shoot. I was worried that her legs might crack if I kept trying on these pants. It's safe to say all 'My Scene' pants and shorts are gonna be a loss here.

*Sunglasses - Nice. I actually had to ease these in a bit at the temples. The lenses are a bit too small to look good on Fiyero, but they do fit 'em both.

*Stocking cap - fits, but I can't imagine Elphie wearing it very often.

*Necklace - Shape didn't fit, but a quick curl around my fingers, and it did. Just don't know when she'll get the chance to wear a silver 'medallion' with an "R" in it.

*Bracelet - Great fit. Love the star !

*Shoes - After the carved-up Bryant shoe mess, I just checked to see if her feet would slide in. Nope. Next !

*Messenger Bag - Nice ! Strap length is about right for her, and it even snaps closed. Just hate that they used double-sided tape to hold it to the doll in packaging. I'll get some Goof-Off on it soon.

*Food Props - Tiny. Looks like Elphie could eat six of 'em. I'll probably save the plastic tray and forks, maybe use the 'tv dinners' as fridge props.

Meet Sutton !

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And last but not least, Sutton. Some things never change...but here's the review.

*Shirt - Not quite as snug as the one that came with 'River'. As you can see here, I took my trusty seam-ripper to the side seams and made slits. Fits better, but I'll probably still move the inside snap pieces over as far as I can.

*Cargo Pants - Notice she's not wearing 'em here. Won't fit.

*Jacket - No way it'll close. Still, it might be OK over a shirt. Sleeves fit beautifully, perfect length.

*Sunglasses - Identical to the yellow ones on River. But they look nice ! Color is what sold 'em, for me !

*Necklace - Shape didn't fit, and it broke when I tried the finger thing. It looked like a silver 'Flintstones' boulder necklace, so no big loss.

*Messenger Bag - Smaller than River's, but still nice. This one has a camo print.

*Bracelet - Great fit. I like how it looks as if it 'laces' up !

*Shoes - Nope.

*Flowers - A nice touch. They look right in Elphie's hand.

*Chocolates - While the lid lifts off, the 'candies' don't move. It's just two pieces, the lid and the rest of it. Looks a bit small.

*Gift Bag and Credit Cards - Huh ? There's nothing in the very small bag, and it's too tiny for the chocolates. I have no idea why they'd include fake credit cards, but combined with his 'All girls like chocolate !' packaging, it sounds like he's trying to buy a date. Both the bag and cards are double-sided taped again, so they're pretty much a loss anyway. Unless you want to use them as patterns, the credit cards look about right.

Next Up : Silica Gel Packets !

You find 'em everywhere. In the box with the new shoes you bought. Inside cardboard display boxes from Dollar Tree. Even included in some doll packaging, there's a little white packet with 'SILICA GEL / Dessicant / Do Not Eat / Throw Away' or some variation.

Silica packets - available at a store near you !
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Really. Check the floor in the shoe section. Freebies !!

I found these three in display boxes. And I've saved a dozen more from other purchases and finds. It's there to dry compounds used during manufacture, often glue. Packet's thrown in, and it does its work within minutes, usually during packing. Once the item's in the store, the silica packet has no use anymore...

Or at least, it didn't ! I opened one out of curiosity once, and...cool ! Doll-size ice cubes !! All I wanted, free for the asking. Look around the floor of a shoe store or section. Or just ask - they'll probably let you cart off as much as you like.

This stuff makes great ice cubes !
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Pour Kool-Ade on it, it even crackles like ice !

Here's an open package. These beads are super-tiny, and will roll, so you may wanna open yours over a tray or bowl. I poured several into this Barbie and Tyler-sized plastic wine glass - that set'll get reviewed soon ! - and added a few drops of Dearest Son's Kool-Ade.

It crackled and popped like real ice ! One granule even jumped right out of the 'glass' ! It's hard to see, but there it is. A frosty-looking strawberry daquiri. Or Kool-ade, your choice !

Later, I poured it out, and the silica was fine. It didn't stick to the 'glass' or itself, and with a bit of blotting, could be used again. Not bad for a freebie !

Bonus tip - if you have a Beanie-Baby type toy that's about to head for the Great Toybox in the Dump...er, I mean Sky, check the plastic bead filling inside. Those little beads also make great ice cubes.

Next : The Gloria Booze Playset !

Well, actually, that's not the playset's real name. It's 'Gloria Wine Rack Cabinet With 12 Wine Carafes Play Set'. There's two different sets out there - one has liquor bottles, one has wine bottles. I chose this one because the bottles didn't all look the same. But the 'glassware' is identical, and both have the same purple ice bucket with sham champagne.

You'll have to order it on eBay or find at a doll show. Although it's quite popular, it's not sold at Wal-Mart. I once heard the Gloria Barbie-scale playsets are Canadian, but I doubt it. Box'd have to be in English and French if it was.

Here's the set, in-box !
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Ain't it great that someone makes doll liquor ?

Although some folks think it's shocking, it's not unusual that some enterprising company would make faux alcohol for dolls. A recent Dartmouth project studied kids taking Barbie shopping showed that 62% of the 120 kids bought Babs some beer or wine, and 28% got her cigarettes. You can read about it here -

http://dartmed.dartmouth.edu/winter05/html/disc_barbie.php

Along with great glasses, you get fun stuff -
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Like VSOP, 'J&R', 'Waker's Wark' ! Good times, good times.

And while it's says 'fit all 11.5" fashion doll", it works easily with Elphie and Fiyero. That's their hands, enjoying some adult beverages at the end of the day. Shoot, when I was a kid, Barbie smoked cigarettes made from toothpicks painted white - when we had paint ! Or tightly rolled up paper, tinted with markers. Besides, one of the fun things about having dolls as an adult is letting your dolls do adult things. That was fun when you were a kid, too, admit it !

I've never put together the included wine rack. It's just too blindingly pink. But I have this Fusion paint for plastic sitting around...

It's actually quite well-made. The bottles are spot-on (and you can chortle at 'Waker's Wark' whiskey), and the champagne bucket even has molded-in 'ice'. But I added some more silica gel beads. If you'd like one, I'd recommend Koala 2000 as your eBay seller. Fast shipping, good person. She even tossed in two more champagne bottles when I ordered it almost a year ago. Wheeeee !

Elphie was initially surprised by Fiyero's idea...
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But soon warmed up to 'Starlight Champagne' !

Next on the Docket : American Girl - well, Our Generation - size stuff !

Amazingly, some stuff made for the 18-inch American Girl dolls, and their endless clones, works quite well with Tonner dolls. Yeah, it's not a huge jump in size (16 inches to 18), but still - just try to fit an Our Generation dress on a Tyler ! I don't think it'd fit his taller 'American Model' dolls either.

American Girls are now owned by Mattel, and Our Generation / Battat is a Target exclusive, far as I can tell. There's lots more AG-size dolls that have nothing to do with either(Tonner even made (makes ?) a series called Magic Attic), but a safe bet for online hunts is to use 'American Girl' in the search parameters somewhere.

First - The Jeep !

Tonner has never made a car for Tyler !
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And who hasn't wanted one ?

I wasn't sure when I first found this under a book display table at GoodWill. It's so huge ! And it had these ugly daisy decals that were scratched up. Looked like the doors were held on by twist-ties, too. And they wanted $12.50 ? Forget it !

But who hasn't wanted a car for their girls ? Barbie's got lots of 'em. And today, unlike during your childhood, it's kinda hard to imagine Tyler piloting a vehicle that's really one of your bedroom slippers. I don't think either Tonner or Ashton-Drake ever made a car. In any case, something made me pull this out from under the table for a closer look.

Oh. $2.50 ! That's better, but it still looked really big. I got it home, immediately removed the daisies with nail polish remover, gave it an all-over rinse, and eagerly pushed Elphie in. Hmm. Seat's kinda low for her, and unlike a real car, there's no adjustment levers. So I quickly whipped together an inch-thick pillow to fit across the entire bench seat, and that was much better ! I have plans to use some Dritz for Dolls clips and ribbon for seat belts, and once that's done, I'll retake the photo. But for now, here it is.

From what I've seen, it also came in purple, but it seems to be fairly rare. Be sure to check the doors if you find one you like. That seems to be a major weak point on this item.

Aaaand, the chair !

You've probably seen this before, too.
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Lotsa folks have it.

This is a really popular chair. It's also part of the 'Our Generation' Battat line from Target. You see it fairly frequently in doll photos. Came in pink, too. While it mostly fits, it does seem a bit large.

But here's why you see it so often - I know when I bought mine, it'd been clearanced to $1.94. It also takes a scarf slipcover quite well.

Y'know, I don't even like going to Target anymore without Elphie...

Next : Tupperware ! Well, Tupperware minis !

Keychains and magnets - always have a peek !
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You'll never know what you'll find...

After lucking into some shoe keychains that amazingly fit Beautiful Crissy, Interactive Belle, *and* the Disney Princesses, I thought my keychain luck had run out.

But, no - I found these today at our local GoodWill. They're actual Tupperware, in a miniature form. The red bowls are magnets, the blue and white bowls and the Quick Shake Container (tm) are keychains.

Many Barbie folks have heard of these, but truthfully, they always look large with Babs and co. And, lots of other doll folks haven't ever seen this stuff. From what I've read, these are usually gifts - from hostesses to party guests, or from corporate to hostesses, I'm not sure. But I've found several versions at yard sales and thrift stores through the years, so you may not have to attend a party in hopes of scoring some. A quick eBay search for 'miniature tupperware' will show you what else is out there. I have another sealing server and a colander - even a replica of that too-familiar blue and red sorter toy with yellow pieces is available as a Tupperware mini.

We all like to think our dolls don't sit around
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with chips and soda - but Elphie does !

Several caveats, though - if you get the Quick Shake as a keychain, be very careful about removing the chain. The hinge is fragile, so it's best to pry the keychain off with needle-nose pliers inserted inside the triangle. Or you can remove the chain behind the triangle, because the triangle is also the hinge-pin. But if you want the whole chain off, just be careful, and you may want to make one from a bit of wire or a jewlery jump-ring.

Also, some of the older ones are airtight, and seal well. They were popular as asprin-holders, too. The ones I bought today - especially those red bowls - barely close all the way around, often popping loose later. The lid to the Quick Serve also comes off at a touch. If you want to use them in dioramas, be truly careful about putting real, potentially staining food in them.

Bonus tip : coffee stir-stick straws look great in these. I didn't have one available at photo-time, so I used a twist-tie from a storage bag...






COMING SOON ! Those lucky 'human scale' finds !