American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Casual Fridays: Lulu from Karito Kids

Oh little Lulu I love You-lu just the same~
I have not forgot about Casual Fridays. I have just been not doing them. Bad Neth. Time to pick things back up and then keep them up--there's so many dolls and things in my collection that I can and will be happy to take pictures of. Get to work, Neth! Let's take this back to importance with a doll I adore: Lulu of Karito Kids. Lulu--full name Lulu Rehema Kibwana--is from Nairobi, Kenya and specifically of the Kikuyu tribe. 

Karito is an Esperanto word meaning "charity"--I once studied the language for a brief time in high school but got bored with it since it wasn't as universal as it claimed. I'd like to have linked to the official Karito Kids website, but the company folded in 2011.1 There were six major characters: along with Lulu, there was Ling from China, Pita from Mexico, Zoe from the USA, Gia from Italy, and later Piper from Australia. The dolls were sold in various toy boutiques and from the site directly for about $99, and had additional outfits as well. I'd seen some in a local toy store, but they were charging an arm and a leg at about $120. At the original time of purchase, dolls came with codes that allowed for a donation to various causes; however, the codes can't be used anymore as the site is down. The line was later liquidated through Tuesday Morning at 67% off, and nowadays on eBay and secondary markets, they can go for anywhere from 30 bucks to over $200. A doll buddy of mine had Lulu and sold her to me at a respectable cost for 40 bucks with the shipping (and included an extra made outfit for her!) and another doll buddy sent me the book and the orange socks out of the awesomeness of her self.

Let's talk more about Lulu below the cut.
Let's play some football--no handegg!
Lulu's outfit is rather sporty, owing to the fact that she likes playing football (or what Americans call soccer)  and her outfit reflects that. I sort of wish she had a secondary casual outfit or had come in something that was a little less sports, but this fits given her characterization. There was a second version with a cheaper looking outfit--

what is this
Yeah. So not feeling that. Glad I got the original.

Lulu has an unique face sculpt that really does look like a young black girl. She has non-closing inset brown eyes with soft lashes, molded ears, arched feathered eyebrows, slight blush and unique lip paint along with lip lines molded into them.

Curly hair.
Her hair is a wig of very small spiral curls; I generally keep it in one or two pigtails so that it doesn't fluff up and become a tangle. Her hair is not made for snatching a brush through, and while it's not going to do a bunch of styles like longer, straighter hair it's nice. I've yet to come across many modern black or African dolls that has hair that isn't either "tamed spiral curls," "half done Afro" or "relaxed straight."2 But this gets a little closer to something other than those two extremes and feels more like fluffy curls.

She's wearing a collared soccer jersey--it's all one piece and velcros up the back. The number appears to be ironed on and shouldn't wear off.

Skirt and biking shorts.
She's wearing a blue pleated skirt that fastens on the left side with a snap and pull on black lycra biking shorts underneath.

Socks and cleats.
Finally, she's wearing orange ribbed calf socks and purple and black soccer cleats with white laces. While I generally am not a fan of the color orange, the socks help bring out the orange of the jersey.

Underneath the biking shorts she's wearing rather plain white panties. And once those are off--

Bare body view. Lulu--and all the Karito Kids dolls--have a unique body structure compared to American Girl dolls, in that instead of a fully cloth body there's a vinyl component.

Upper body shot.
The upper chest is vinyl, which means that shirts don't have that cloth/vinyl disconnect at the neckline. It also means that her head can tilt as she has a different style neck joint, allowing for more than just head turning. Hopefully I won't ever have to restring her, as I have no idea how I'd take her apart to do so and would likely have to go to a doll repair hospital in order to do so.

Hippy hips.
The hips are fairly alike to American Girls, though. Either way, let's put her clothes back on.

Now with book!
Lulu came with a small hardback book, called Narobi Nightmare. In the second release the book was called Lulu And The Stolen Statue but from what I can tell it's the exact same book. I've yet to stick my nose into the book properly, but a quick skim through shows black and white images and a section on Lulu and Kenya.

Height comparison with Naomi.
Lulu is taller than AG dolls at about 21 inches, which makes her feel like a teenager to my 11-13 year old  AG gang. She's slimmer with longer legs and arms. This means wearing AG clothes is pretty miss--pants are too short and shirts can be too loose, but skirts and tops can fit sometimes. Also, her feet are thinner and longer than short fat AG feet, so putting them on her feet stretches them in a messy way unless they're sandals or flats and boots don't fit.  If I wish to expand her wardrobe--and I do--I am going to have to purchase new shoes and draft up patterns of my own.

Lulu in AG stuff!
I tried the Western Riding Outfit on her. The boots wouldn't fit at all, hence her going about barefoot. The shirt is a little loose, but the skirt hangs on well.

Casually dressed.
She looks great in the Butterfly Outfit, even if the shoes are ill fitting.

Blue Dress~
She also looks good in a unique blue sleeveless dresss that was a gift from another doll buddy. I had to safety pin the sides, because it was too slim otherwise. The shoes, however, don't fit her at all and hang loose around the ankles. 

I think Lulu and the Karito Kids line was a very ambitious, creative line that was gone too soon. While they didn't give a lot of money to charity--only about 3% of the total cost-- there's very few companies that come right out and say they donate to other causes. They filled a niche that has only been replaced by Hearts for Hearts dolls--and that wasn't fully, as H4H dolls don't come with chapter books.

If you want any of them--including Lulu--your only option is really the secondary market. A lot of times dolls are seen for $200, but careful searching can get one for about the original cost if not cheaper. Given the secondary market cost of the dolls and the fact that the only other doll I might consider is a fully complete Ling or Pita3, Lulu is likely to be a singleton here in this household. You can see a full well done review of Ling here on the Toy Box Philosopher.  Karito Kids won't fit AG clothes fully, and their own clothes won't fit AG too well, but they can fit into an AG collection or any doll collection well--and designing outfits for her should be a blast.


1 Even the website is wholly gone, and the Facebook site hasn't updated in two years. The best I can offer is an image via the Internet Wayback Machine: Karito Kids
2 There's no dolls like my hair type, which is thick and curly but reacts well to conditioning and won't fluff into an afro.  
3 I lean towards Dolls of Color.


  1. Hey - have been following for awhile and really enjoy your blog. :) I can't confirm this from personal experience, but I have heard that Maplelea shoes (maplelea.com) will fit Karito Kids dolls... so you could try those.

    ALSO, I have recently procured some braid spray and started treating my Frances's (Kaya) dry frizzy hair, and obviously it works great. So, thanks for that, too! :)

    1. Thanks, I'll look into those--it'll probably be a bit before I actually get her extra shoes.

      And welcome aboard! =D

  2. I like her! She's cute, and her story sounds interesting, even if that is a superficial judgment based on the title. She also appears to be proportioned less like a toddler and more like an actual 8-10 year old so there's that.

  3. I love her beautiful face, her very natural looking curls and her coloring. Notice how the cloth body actually matches the vinyl limbs and is the same shade of brown (Unlike AG`s Addy and Cecile whos body and limbs are oddly mismatched). also the proportions are very natural and realistic so she s actually cuter than most AG dolls in my opinion. I myself have Piper and Pita and these are some of the best dolls in my collection.
    I do believe that they made a few mistakes with the line though. 18 inch dolls are very popular right now and bigger dolls just didnt fit the bill. If karito kids were 18 inch tall and had sleepy eyes they would have become very successfull. I love the idea of representing modern girls from different countries and having kids learn about their cultures.


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