Sunday, July 27, 2014

What's New at TRU

Robotica posted that she found the Tonner City Girls at Toys R Us so I headed over there this weekend to see if my store was carrying them. They aren't yet, but here are a few of the many new items they have in stock:

Deuce & Gil $34.99

I don't have a single male Monster High character. I've never seen one at the thrift shop and they're really hard to find in stores. Let me rephrase that. They are really hard to find on clearance. I would like this set more for their clothes and accessories than for the dolls themselves. So, unless it drops to $19.99 or lower, I won't be getting it.

Malibu Ave. Sets $34.99

Hmm. These do not look as cute as they did in the promo photos. Maybe it's because they are surrounded by shiny packaging and busy backgrounds, but in person, they come across as cheap, tacky and very garish. The little accessories such as people food and pet items do look nice and durable. Another set I'll be waiting to clearance.

Moxie Girlz Ice Cream Bike $34.99

Very nice! I am quite impressed with this. Not $35 impressed, but still. I've always wanted a street market diorama and this would fit perfectly in it. There was no button to press so you could hear the song it plays but I'm assuming it's the usual ice cream tune.

Moxie Girlz Baker(2) & Painter $19.99

More cool sets! The backgrounds in these make it seem like you are getting more accessories than you are. For instance, the cabinets in the baker sets are just a paper graphic stuck onto a shaped piece of plastic. The Painter version doesn't seem as dynamic as the Baker girls because it looks like all you do is change the color of the paper. You also only get 5 accessories and the others have 10.

This is the last week for the TRU clearance blast and everything is at 90% off; not that there is much left. I hope that a sale like this will be an annual event because even though I bought an obscene amount of stuff, you couldn't beat those prices.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Grab Bag Fun

Brandy welcomes you to this post.

Earlier this year I stumbled upon the glory that is Michael's Grab Bags. Since then, I'm always on the look out for some. Unfortunately, they aren't put out with any regularity so finding them is rare. Which is why I turned into a glutton when I recently saw a cart full of them.

I got 7 of 'em. Some were double bagged and some singled. If they had all been doubled I probably would have purchased more. However, since a few were single bagged, I could see they had plates and napkins in them and I didn't want bunches of that. I did not buy that Premo clay sitting on top of the bags. I stumbled over it in the parking lot and kept it because finders keepers.

Plates and napkins were in every bag, but lots of other stuff too. Here's the run down:

Little flowers and ribbons.

Multiple embellishment packs.
Brandy's earrings came from these. ^__^

Tons of metal studs.

Betsey Johnson phone thingies and notepad.

Nail files. The lady one is so cute!

And then the freaking circus came to town:

Cup cake holders, wrappers, plates and napkins will all be thrifted.

Magnet frames, paper bags, bow tie and invitations.
I can always use magnets, so keeping those and thrifting the rest.

These are "Party Packs." The three different versions have banner letters that spell out; Celebrate, Big Top and Birthday Party.

They come with rope to string the banner and little flags that hang from skewers. Brandy shows that the little flags are a good 1:6 scale. The other things are bottle and straw wrappers. The wrappers aren't even adhesive (I licked one), you have to tape them into place. Pfft.

What a disappointment. I totally thought these were candy. I was all, "Ooh, lollipops!" I ripped it open, pulled away the big circle and it was just a stick inside. Then I was all, "What the blank is this bleep?!" The back of the packaging shows that you just poke them in the cake. These things are 3.5 inches in diameter! Unless your cake is the size of a desk, they are ridiculously huge.

This is my haul from the circus stuff. I'm keeping the rope, banner letters, little flags, magnets, non lollipop sticks, flag skewers and the backgrounds from the party packs.

Brandy demonstrates why I'm keeping the backgrounds. Pretty cool!

A lot of circus fail in this bunch, but I can craft the heck out of the rest of the stuff I got.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Can You Shrink a Liv Wig?

In my Fun and Failure with Acetone post, Lane recently asked:

"Gostaria de saber se com a acetona pura poderia encolher perucas Liv para servir na boneca Barbie ? Comprei algumas perucas, moro no Brasil e não sabia o tamanho da Liv, quando chegaram as perucas a diferença de tamanho é enorme. Poderia fazer este experimento com as perucas da boneca Liv ????"

"I wonder if with pure acetone could shrink Liv wigs to serve Barbie doll? I bought some wigs, I live in Brazil and did not know the size of Liv, when they reached the wigs the size difference is huge. Could do this experiment with Liv doll wigs????"

My response was:

"Oi, Lane! Eu nunca tentei encolher uma peruca Liv, mas vou dar-lhe uma tentativa! Volte em cerca de 10 dias e vou postar os resultados. Porque eles são dois tipos diferentes de plástico, na verdade eu suspeito que a peruca vai derreter, mas acho que vamos descobrir. ^__^"

"Hi, Lane! I never tried to shrink a Liv wig, but I'll give it a try. Come back in about 10 days and I will post the results. Because they are two different types of plastic, I actually suspect that the wig will melt but I guess we'll find out. ^__^"

So, the experiment is complete and the short answer to Lane's question is no, you cant shrink a Liv wig with pure acetone. Here are the results:

Summer is going to assist us. She's holding a Sophie Liv wig with the prong removed and demonstrates that indeed it's too big for a Barbie head. First off, if your doll's hair is long, the wig wont fit anyway, so I gave Summer a quick haircut.

Now that the wig cap can encompass her head completely, let's talk numbers and see what we are actually working with.

From temple to temple, Barbie's head is 1.5 inches and the Liv wig is 2.0. In order for a Liv wig to fit a Barbie head it has to be shrunk at least half an inch. With time and multiple dips you can shrink a vinyl head half an inch (sometimes). However, as I said before and not to get all technical, the composite material of a vinyl head and a plastic wig are different, so you wont get the same results.

First I put the wig in a solution of 1/2 cup pure acetone and 1/2 cup water and left it in there for exactly 48 hours. Upon taking it out, the only noticeable difference is that the opacity of the plastic changed from see through to white. The plastic did not absorb any of the liquid and the texture of the wig, which was rough to the touch anyway, stayed the same.

After being out of the solution for 3 days, the opacity changed back to clear, but there was no shrinkage of the wig whatsoever. And now, going on 7 days, there has still been no change to the wig using 50% pure acetone. So, let's give 100% a try. WARNING: There's a gross photo below, so hold something over the right side of the screen if you don't want to see it.

Gross Photo in

Using another Sophie wig, I put it in 100% acetone for exactly 24 hours. As suspected, it melted the plastic into a disgusting mess. Now, before anyone says I left it in too long, I checked every hour for 6 hours to see how it was fairing. The key to shrinking is that the material absorbs the acetone and then as it dries and dissipates, the material shrinks in on itself. If it doesn't absorb, then nothing happens. The plastic didn't absorb anything, it just decomposed.

Lane specifically asked about "pure acetone," so that's what I used instead of nail polish remover. Remover wont melt it, but I don't think it will shrink it either. If someone out there has tried it and successfully shrunk a Liv wig, please let us know!

Sorry, Lane!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Organizing/Modifying Thrift Store Dolls

The last step of my Spring Cleaning was to wash and weed through all the thrift store dolls I had boxed away. I finally had to tackle them when they wouldn't fit in their box anymore. It took 8 hours to wash the dolls, their clothes and condition their hair. Never again will I let them pile up like that. From now on, when I buy a bag I'll clean them that same day. Pinkie swear! *crosses fingers behind back*

First I washed the clothes and hung them to dry.

Next the males got placed on the bottom racks,

and the ladies got the top.

There are a lot of dolls without bodies because if they were unarticulated and I knew I wasn't going to keep the body, I removed the heads right away. Once they were all washed though, I did go through and remove every head that would come off so that I could remove prongs and let the dolls dry fully inside and out. I left the dolls on the rack for 3 days. In the meantime, I did some modifications:

A while back, Jay commented that Krud Kutter might be good for opening doll bodies since I had tried in the past to get them open easily and couldn't without cutting them apart. I purchased a large bottle from Walmart and finally tried it.

Krud Kutter can be diluted with water but as I never tried it before I wanted to test the full strength to see what happens. I popped the legs off the doll and placed the torso in the plastic cup. I then put the plastic cup in the plastic bowl. I didn't know if the cup would melt and if it did I wanted it to melt into something else so I would have time to run it to the dumpster.

Unlike Goo Gone which has a orangey smell, Krud does not have a discernable odor. I still wouldn't sniff it though. I checked every hour for 4 hours to see if anything was melting or if the seams were opening. Nothing was happening either way so I went to sleep and the torso was left in the solution for 10 hours.

The Krud did loosen the outer seam glue, but not the glue where the inner pegs are. I had to apply pressure and break those pegs. Only the pegs circled in red are intact, but they may not have been glued shut anyway. Perhaps a longer soak time of 24 hours would weaken the peg glue?

Because I had to use a butter knife to open the body, there is some damage to the seam. It's not that bad, but it's not that cute either. 7 days later and the body and arms don't appear to have suffered any discoloration or chemistry change. I'm not going to close this body, but if I was, super glue would do the trick. I would wash the body the first in a mild detergent and let it dry for at least 10 days to make sure the Krud had dissipated.

The next modification was to these male bodies. Top guy is a Prince Charming body with no arm articulation and bottom guy is Ken with no leg articulation. Let's merge them together! Their torsos are not the same, but who cares? Lining them up at the arm pits, I put a mark across the middle of their chests.

I clamped the bodies into a vise and used a hack saw to cut them in half. Vise came from Amazon and is currently $25.77 with Prime. The saw is from the Midwest Easy Miter Box w/Saw set from Joann's for $14.99 (I used a 40% coupon, naturally.) It's $11.34 at Amazon if you have Prime. I recommend them both.

I smoothed the edges with a metal nail file and then used super glue to merge the halves. Look at all that sweet articulation! Again, not a perfect match, but good enough for me. I'm not going to grind down that slight over hang or fill it with putty because he can just keep a shirt on.

I had previously modified one of my Power Team bodies with a Ken neck. This time I went ahead and outfitted all my Power guys with new necks so I could give a new body to this guy:

Blasian GI Joe! Originally I was just going to whittle down his molded clothing but that was going to be way too time consuming. Trying to use my Xacto was too hard and sanding it with my Dremel would have been more plastic dust than I felt like dealing with.

I tried hard to remove the neck base but then I was all, "eff it," and just ripped his head off. Using the method in this old tutorial, I hollowed out his head with my Xacto and added a cardboard disc to the new neck peg.

Done! Look at all that sexiness. His old body did have some great kung fu grip hands so I tried to salvage them.

It was easy to lop them off with my Easy Cutter and then snip away the rubber. I carefully chipped away the rings on the bottom so I would have a longer peg to insert into his arms.

Knowing what I do now, if I come across anymore kung fu hands, I know not to cut away all the rubber around the wrists. Still, just put a watch and a man bracelet on him and it'll look fine.

Last modification was to this Jasmine. She had purple earrings that were molded to her head. I though they looked like creepy fat ticks so I wanted to get rid of them.

I cut off the backs of the earrings, making sure that I cut below the ridge that formed the mold. It's cool that it left a hollow opening because it will make the flap lay down better.

I super glued the flaps down and held them for about five minutes each. She wont be wearing her hair up any more, but it's still an improvement over having a tick on your face.

That was all the modding I did so now it was time to pack the dolls away. Dolls with bodies will live standing upright in boxes.

I put a cardboard insert between each row of dolls so it will be simpler to take them in and out and they wont fall over. Girls get their hair put in a ponytail 'cause I don't like it when they are messy and unkempt. Tall bodies in back, short bodies in front. I turn their heads to the side so I can view them easier.

I have way less boys so they get to be spaced out and staggered instead of one behind the other. The boy heads without bodies will be stored in their box.

There are way too many girls heads without bodies so they are labeled and will get their own little storage box. One day I hope to find for real cheap, one of those lateral file cabinets that are used to store poster boards. I think that would work great for storing dolls.

This bin in my closet will now house all the extra bodies. The top bin is for dolls destined for the thrift store or for experiments. Second shelf is female articulated bodies which are mostly all Liv. Third shelf contains old Mattel articulated male bodies that don't have any wrist articulation. Articulating those wrists are still on my to do list.

I only kept a few unarticulated bodies to use as mannequins. The rest I made into display torsos in case I ever make a clothing shop. I also kept a bunch of arms to use as display models, for articulating wrists and to use as stunt arms. Stunt arms come in handy when your dolls arms don't bend as far as you want.

"Put Tre-tre on the phone. Who am I? Trick, who is you?!"

For example, let's say you want to have your doll on the phone in a much more realistic pose, instead of how they usually awkwardly look.

"So you just let anyone answer your phone now, huh?"

Rubber band a stunt arm to their real one or to their body and position it how you want it.

"Boy, don't nobody want to hear about your baby mama. Just bring me my money."

Then zoom in or move closer to cut the extra appendage out of view and the pose will look much more natural.

I still have some more mods on my list of a thousand things I want to do, but going through the thrift dolls was the last organizing I needed accomplish. Whew!

Edited to Add:

Thanks to this comment by Jawn Pickles my doll heads are now fabulously housed on a cool spool rack. Behold!

I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!! *twirls*

Thank you very, very much Jawn! As soon as your comment hit my phone I rushed right on over to Joann's and picked one up. I even had a 50% off coupon from AC Moore so this 120 unit only cost me $15 bucks! When I get another coupon I'm going back because they had a small 30 unit one for $9.99 that will be great to house repaint heads that are being worked on. You, Jawn Pickels, are the most awesome person ever!