Lea 21 Revisited – A Tale of Two Countries

17 Aug

A little while ago, a doll friend sent me this link. I was very interested to find out that there is a further version of my beautiful Lea 21, one of the nicest (and cheapest) Leas I own. My doll friend was also helped me to get the version I didn’t already own, for which I am forever grateful. So now, I own three of these beauties …


In case you are wondering, the Lea in the My First Princess dress has been rebodied onto a Fashionista. Because I like this particular Lea so much, I thought I’d make myself one that I could redress and generally mess with. I’m very pleased with her, too.


The differences between the doll manufactured in China (on the left) and the doll manufactured in Indonesia (on the right) are quite clear, China’s makeup is much heavier and darker and her hair less poofy and curly. Many people are saying that Indonesia is better quality and I can see why, as she’s more subtly painted and her hair feels thicker and generally nicer. However, when I got Indonesia out of her storage bag today I was alarmed to notice a couple of changes in her. For starters, she has developed a black mark on her forehead. Because I store my dolls carefully, the chances of this having occurred through accidental contact with a pen or similar are virtually nil. I had a little try at removing it with acetone, which made no difference whatsoever, but I’m wondering if it could be some freaky manufacturing flaw – something inside the plastic that is just leaking out now. Thoughts on this, anyone? Anyway, she is also noticeably stiffer than she was before I stored her. It was a struggle to move her head or her legs. These poor things just haven’t been built to last …


I also noticed that China’s legs are slightly darker, and her skirt is more roughly sewn. Her bodice has less glitter and is not as heavily shaded:


This whole thing has left me wondering how many versions of my favourite dolls are out there. I’d heard about “good” and “evil” versions of Secret Spells Kayla but I did some research and couldn’t find any side-by-side comparisons (again, thoughts on this or relevant links are welcome) so I wrote it off as a myth. Now it seems more possible again.

Anyway, I’ve realised I’ve allowed myself to fall behind with posting about my Lea collection and I promise I’ll get moving with this soon. Time flies when you’re having fun and all that …



10 Responses to “Lea 21 Revisited – A Tale of Two Countries”

  1. Blackkitty August 18, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    I definitely only saw the Chinese version in stores. I was drawn by the black hair/closed lips/fair skin combo, but then I noticed the bodice and the painted legs, yuk! Why do they ever make non-removable clothes? Anyway, the faceup difference is striking. From the looks of the Indonesian doll, she is supposed to be Oriental? I would have never guessed!

    • barbielea August 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

      Hi Blackkitty 🙂 interesting, we only had the Indonesian version in our country. The always-dressed issue – well, I think they make them like this as a concession to two factors. Firstly, a lot of Mums disapprove of nude Barbies (personally, I’ve never really understood this as its not like there’s a lot to see). Secondly, Mattel are aiming Barbie towards an increasingly younger market and little hands struggle to get normal Barbie clothes on and off, unlike this doll’s elasticated skirt which is the only removeable item of clothing she’s wearing. Not that Mattel came up with this idea in the first place – these Ballerinas are a rip-off of the Disney Princess line on the same theme. Mattel basically hate the idea of giving up even a tiny corner of the market …

      Collectors (me included) traditionally don’t get on well with always-dressed dolls. I actually quite like this doll in her original state, she’s a nice doll to pose. This surprised me as originally I only bought her for her face sculpt, I didn’t like the body at first sight. I’ve also taken the option of rebodying her as well though, and if I had to choose between the rebodied and original versions I’d choose the rebodied one every time.

      Lol! I know we’ve talked about Mattel’s dodgy eastern Asian dolls before … I think she’s actually better than usual, certainly better than Raquelle!

      • Blackkitty August 18, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

        Raquelle is Asian? Aahahahaha!

  2. tagidoll August 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    Good an evil versions of Secret Spells Kayla? I wonder which mine is :O

    • barbielea August 20, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

      Hi Tagi 🙂

      Here’s a picture of “evil” –


      And a picture of “good” –


      Good seems to be wearing slightly more eyeshadow, she also seems to have a more sleepy look but I’m not sure if that’s just the angle. If they were side by side it would be easier to say for definite how much difference there is … Like I say, sometimes I doubt there’s very much (or any) difference at all … Can you tell which one yours is though?

      Sent from my iPad

      • tagidoll August 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

        Evil – I think. She has the darker/musky pink lips instead of the slightly brighter hotter pink and the fainter lavender eye shadow instead of the heavier green style. The lips could be an issue with Photoshop/lighting but the eye shadow is most certainly different.

  3. Chicovintage August 26, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    I´m playing devil´s advocate here… chinese is maybe low quality, but if you look her closely you´ll realize her expressions is sweeter, her jaw line less full, and even when the make up is heavier, her eyes has a lovely hazel accent . She is definetely the “nice version”. Having said that, I love both, indonesian has a “mean girl” look that I adore on Kayla. I have two Magical Mermaid Kayla and the differences are even more noticeable, again the fuller jaw line (some people speak about two slightly different twin headmolds), even the hair fiber is different (saran vs kanekalon, wich I loathe). However, this phenomenon doesn´t always happen, because for example on the Kayla Maiden from Princess of the Animals, the differences are too subtle (lipstick shade and that´s all)….

    • barbielea August 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      Thanks Chico, that’s very informative. I’ll have to look further into this “two versions” phenomenon I think … Gosh, two different Lea headmolds? As if we didn’t have enough confusion generated by the Goddess sculpt …. Anyway, yes, I love China’s eyes too. It’s just a different style of painting, more blocky, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I love both too!

  4. Andrea September 5, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Only China Versions in our stores too. I really lover her and I nearly stalked the Barbie shelves for months, before I finally found one.

    I wonder if the glue they put inside the doll heads could cause stains? We all should watch our glue-headed dolls closely. That sticky slimy stuff seeps out of the plug holes into the hair when they are in a very warm environment. My granddaughter’s Merliah doll is a total Mess and her hair is beyond rescue. I noticed sticky hair on my Indonesia Now and Then Barbie, as well. May be you were lucky and the glue seeped into the body and that caused the stiff leg joints?

    • barbielea September 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

      Hey, I wonder if that might be it?? Great suggestion Andrea, thanks … Although I don’t know what I could do about it … I recently had the glue in the hair issue with a SIS Grace, I had actually sold her on eBay and fortunately I had a really nice understanding buyer who wrote to me to tell me about the problem (I’d not seen any glue in the hair before I sent Grace) just in case I was selling others and somebody complained – she left me good feedback too, what a nice woman.

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