|Warming it up--with Mellie, not McKenna. Cause I'm cool like that.|
As anyone who's spent more than five seconds on this blog knows, I really, really can't stand Isabelle, AKA WonderBread the Ballerina. But she's not the only Girl of the Year that I have had an active, twisting "fuck you" feel towards. Lemme take you back just two years to 2012, when we had, after the magnificence of Kanani, the mediocrity of McKenna Brooks, GotY for 2012. As soon as I saw her, I hated her. I hated her name because I hate names beginning with Mc. I hated her focus because I was (and still am) 100% convinced that it was to capitalize on the gymnast that was favored to win the all around at London, and then the girl didn't even make it into the competition. I hated that she was whining that she didn't care about school cause she was going to be a super famous gymnast, when you burn out on that by age 20 most of the time thanks to the compression of the sport. I hated that she was set in Seattle, because I now live in the Seattle area and I didn't want this doll associated with my region. I hated her parents. I hated her bed because it came with a tiny copy of Charlotte's Web and I wanted that book alone.2 And I snarked all over her movie, because I could. She got slapped with the nickname McSeattle--only the first in a line of Refreshing Haterade names for GotY--and I have not regretted it.
But I at least liked a good portion of her clothes, which is more than I can say for Wonderbread. Over the course of the year I got my hands on McSeattle's pajamas, school set, and umbrella and rain boots--which I proceeded to give all of them to the mods, especially Mellie. The only other outfit I liked enough was her Warm-up Outfit: a jacket, windbreaker pants, sneakers, ponytail holders, and the new hotness in McKenna's clothes sets: a card on how to do her hairstyles her sets showed, this one being #1: Fishtail Braids. There was just one problem with trying to get my hands on it easily, and that that was that it only came with her starter collection as a bonus. And I was not about to pay $185 for a doll I hated, her starter accessories, the two books I had already, and her practice uniform just to get a single outfit.3 Instead, I patiently waited for the eBay Fates to put one up for a decent not -stupid price--and I hit it in 2013 with a cost of $34.99 plus low shipping. eBay costs have jumped, however, into the $50+ range. This is straight up bullshit, don't do it.
Naturally, since Mellie Croom has made it her life goal to look twice as good in McKenna's clothes than she ever could, she's modeling this set. Mellie is about the closest I'll ever get to a AG me, in that she has my face shape, my semi-curls, and wears glasses. I actually took these pics before Mellie changed into holiday wear. I'm skilled like that.
|Jacket. How did they get me to like orange?|
Confession time: I really don't like orange as a color. Most shades of orange are too garish or bright for my tastes, and I'm more inclined towards the cooler side of the color chart, Applejack being an awesome pony not withstanding. I more put up with orange rather than like it, and I can count on one hand the number of orange things I wear. But this shade of orange doesn't bother me. I suspect the lavender tempered it out, so it's not as overpowering. This way, it comes off less as screaming annoying orange and more like the jacket is a sunrise or sunset. That appeals to me, sunsets.
|Double collar, what does it mean?|
|Zipper. Up and shut cause we can't be flashing dolly chests.|
|Pockets, for the pocketing of stuff.|
|Sleeve, also gradated. Kickass.|
|Star because AG does that. But not the AG star.|
|Seams and Linings. Including the underarm.|
Fun fact? When sewing doll clothes or most small clothes, the sleeve is almost always set into the bodice first and then sewn closed in a seam running from the wrist under the arm and down to the hem. This is different than clothes for people, as that would be more irritating under the arm, but on doll clothes it would be very hard to properly set in a sleeve. So this is a sewing shortcut I'm highly used to.
B+. Excellently designed jacket. I can even get over the fact that it's mostly orange.
|Pants. Windbreaker style.|
|Quick waist for quick off.|
|Side "draw" strings and ribbon.|
|These wild and crazy5 sneakers, man!|
|Laces. And overexposure in a picture.|
|Outer Sole, with its ribbing.|
B-. The shoes are really, really busy, but they are still nice shoes.
|Hair Card: reminding me that this wasn't designed for Mellie.|
This one shows you how to do fishtail braids. At the top is a lime green image with purple and green stars to the left and a silhouette of a gymnast on the right, and a hole at the top center reinforced with black. The top row has a purple circle with a green star accent and the admonition to collect all the cards. This ain't Pokémon AG, don't tell me what to collect. To the left is her name in lime green, and below that her logo with a purple gradated to lavender ribbon and three lime stars, the largest only an outline. To the right is McKenna displaying a wild amount of forehead and the hairstyle, and below that the card telling you there's step-by-step instructions for "pretty" hairstyles.
Funny thing: The zipper pull is plain orange, not the silver on the outfit. Prototype? Prototype.
You're going to need two ponytail holders to do this style. How convenient that the outfit comes with just that! AG, you're on the ball with getting us to care about the hair items you toss in with the set. Mellie's hair is way too curly to attempt fishtail braids with without messing up her cute curls, but I've done them before on Kaya and Naomi. You can see them in the opening picture of the Blue Jeans Basics I review, and a better shot on my flickr account from the back. Hers are done high up because Naomi has awesome hair for styling.
|Doing the Fish!|
The instructions are fairly good, given that the target age is 8-12. They are as follows, retold by me to be a little clearer:
1) Part doll's hair down the center.
2) Tie off one hunk with a ponytail holder. (This is to keep it out of the way while working one side.)
3) Separate other side into two equal sections.
4) This is where the shit gets tricky--take a small piece of the hair from the far right side, and cross it over to become part of the left part.
5) Now, take a second section from the far left and cross it over to the right part.
6) Repeat steps 4 and 5 this all the way to the end of the hair, then tie it off with a ponytail holder.
7) Repeat steps 3-5 for other side.
The main thing is, you gotta hold the hair tight. Fishtails will not come out well otherwise. I generally have to take my time doing this, and when I do I don't take it down from a gang member's hair for at least two weeks. You can also steady the base of the fishtail by gathering the hair in a ponytail first and leaving it there (what I did with Naomi) which means using four ponytail holders.
The card is a really awesome inclusion and I kind of wish it hadn't been exclusive to McKenna. A.
Overall Feel: It's very much the epitome of the outfit sports people wear on the sidelines while getting ready to sports the sports. The jacket is put together well and with a neat color gradation that is rarely seen in outfits, and the pants being white mean that the jacket's unique style gets to be the center. I am not feeling the lime green on the shoes, mostly because it wasn't indicated in any other parts of the outfit and was just added because it was McSeattle's "color," but the shoes are well designed despite this. And hey, I actually like the orange in the set, so that's a plus. And the instruction card to do the hair? Very useful. About the only thing that would have improved it was a simple tank top underneath. And not having to buy an entire starter set for it. AG hasn't done this since, thank gods.
Cost Value: The technical value from AG was $29.90, but only if you bought $185 dollars of doll and starter set, since that was the only way to get the outfit during 2012. Some people, of course, bought the starter set and then sold off the rest. Some might have gone through the MCM sale and been bought there, but I'm out of the loop for some of that. The cost I paid was fair. $35 is a respectable price; $40 is a little high, but not too high for a set. Some people will ask you to pay $50 or more for this set. Wince away from that. If they're asking for $70 or more, pee on all the things they eat in retaliation.
Timeliness/Datedness: It's pretty modern in style and design. At most I'd take it back to the late 90s, but that's mostly because windbreaker pants didn't start being a thing before then. It does hold up as a modern outfit, though. It is only two years old, and it doesn't scream "fad" like leggings and bubble skirts are right now.6
Mix and Match Levels: Eeeeh. The jacket can go over jeans, and the shoes can go with things that most sneakers can go. The pants are really sort of set only. And the hair ties are semi-universal.
Appropriateness to Character: Well, it was released for her, and she is a gymnast, and it doesn't look like seven layers of ugly on her like most of Enviro-Lanie's stuff did, as so much of it came off as "they swapped to a blond girl at the last minute." I still think it looks twice as good on Mellie. Also, I don't recall seeing the set in the movie or books, but I saw the movie off TV and don't want to get up to get my books, so.
Final Grade: B-. A higher grade would be earned if I hadn't needed to reach out secondhand to get the set.
1 That and bitching about many a thing. It's the best.
2 Still hunting it down, holler at ya girl if you'll sell it to me.
3 Working it out: $105 (doll + book one) + $6.95 (book 2) + $26 (meet accessories) + $34 (practice outfit) = 171.95, which made the warm-up outfit roughly retail for $13.05. But AG stated that the whole set would have been a separate $199.95 with a savings of $14.95. Which means that the total "cost" was $214.90, which gives the outfit a value of $29.90. Math!
4 Things McSeattle's entire collection was missing for being set up here: any sort of a hoodie. Do you even Seattle, AG?
5 No, I'm not referencing the '70s skit. I'm referencing the '90s show.
6 Or Wonderbread's hideous meet outfit. Shit, that is going to scream fadded out in a few years.