I have an online acquaintance who is a fourteen year old doll collector (I don’t think he reads this, but just in case – hi!). Recently he wrote a post about how hard it is to get the money for the brand new releases he craves, and he was asking for suggestions about how he could deal with this issue. Bless him, all his Christmas and Birthday privileges were already used up and he was still full of terrible longing – its not easy being an obsessive, is it? I replied with sympathies and suggested that he might ask his parents if they would agree to him opening an eBay account where he could do some selling on. I didn’t say what I wanted to say, which would have sounded far too preachy and fuddy-duddy. What I wanted to say is, “I know its hard, but there’s an answer. Its not perfect, and it won’t always work. But for the most part, if you want to save a massive amount of money – 1) wait eighteen months, and then 2) visit your local discount shops.” Obviously at fourteen, eighteen months is a lot longer than it is when you reach your late thirties. And of course, I understand that the desire for the Latest Big Thing is a difficult emotion to reason with. But nevertheless, its a tactic that has paid off for me in droves just recently.
Last year, I read this post by Kewpie about La Dee Das. I loved them! The bright colours, the sharp design, the enormous eyes … I looked everywhere online, but at this time the only solution would have been to import, which would have cost me more than I was prepared to pay (£25 to £30 for the doll, another £15 – £20 on postage, then however much customs decided to charge me). After six to eight months, these dolls started to arrive in the UK. A couple of weeks ago while I was out Christmas shopping, I finally picked one up at my favourite local discount store. Go on, guess how much!
Five quid. Five pounds! I pay more than that for most of the second-hand dolls I pick up on eBay. I am Dee-lighted.
Of course, the payoff for this is that she is no longer this year’s darling, and I pass absolutely no judgement on those for whom the shiny newness and the buzz is the priority (possibly this includes my fourteen year old acquaintance, in which case the advice I wanted to give would have been useless as well as most likely unwelcome). That’s a pleasure all in itself, isn’t it – owning the doll while she’s still all fresh and new and everybody is talking about her. There are times when I am prepared to pay for the pleasure of being In with the In Crowd, its a nice feeling – for example, I got my EAH Maddie before she was on general release in the UK, and although I paid a bit more for her I have no regrets about this. However, its only something I like to do every now and again, when its a doll I think might sell out fast or just something I am particularly craving. As a general tactic, its far too expensive for me, the “waste” of precious dolly funds would prey on my mind if I did it all the time, taking a lot of the pleasure out of it.
The other downside to discount dollies is that their appearance often heralds the failure of the line, so if they are something you are very keen on, scoring one or two at a knockdown price is a Pyrrhic victory. For example, the first line of Barbie Basics started off well in the UK and eventually went to selling for (by European standards anyway) ridiculously low prices. So obviously, waves two and three were much harder to come by and usually required importation with all the attendant problems. Bittersweet.
Anyhoo, back to the doll, who is the central character from this range, “Dee” from “La Dee Da”. This version was the very first release and is sometimes described as the signature or flagship La Dee Da doll, so she’s a particularly nice one to have. In later waves she’s accompanied by her three friends, Cyanne, Tylie and Sloane, with a heavy emphasis on themes (fruit, or sweets, or in a particularly canny move recently, fairytales). I’m not sure about the emphasis on themes really – the fruit dolls, for instance, LOOK amazing, but how is a little girl supposed to play with a doll that looks like a pineapple? My Dee’s theming (New York, apparently) is more subtle, and I prefer that. I’ve gone on enough now, so I recommend that you go read Kewpie’s excellent review if you want to know about her in detail. What I will say, though, is that I was generally impressed with the quality of the materials used (especially her lovely, soft, thick hair) and the design, but in the plastic I am not as sold on her face as I thought I would be. Its a little too “doll-like” and flat for me. Also that eye makeup – I presume its meant to suggest the Statue of Liberty? Unfortunately, it makes me think of A Clockwork Orange instead … Still, I’m not ruling out more La Dee Das in future, in fact there are a couple that I would very much like to pick up. We will see