Let's continue on with the story of the big day. Remember the crowded Build-a-Bear store? Remember Kelly and her "choice" dilemma? Remember Phoenix's admirable job at handling the crowds and serving each customer? How about Jill and Silver's thrilling birthday shopping spree? Let's re-join the crowd at the BY (as in Baby Yoda) clothes bins, where the twins are picking out little robes with fluffy collars for their new cuties. "This is the best birthday ever!" Jill was grinning from ear to ear.
While the twins inspected each robe, Phoenix helped Zale pack up her beautiful water-colored bear (that just happened to match her backpack and shirt). "Would you like a box for him?" "No, thanks. He fits in here so well that I'll just take him on my walk this way. I wonder if he likes the beach . . ."
Next to check out was Harold. Being the most active member of the Islandshire Merry Man Club, he'd found the perfect large plush of Little John the Bear from Disney's animated Robin Hood. "This is exactly what I need. He'll look great sitting in the Merry Man clubhouse. Wait 'til the other chaps see him." Such a lot of happy customers. Phoenix was feeling pretty happy, too. A little tired, but happy!
By now, Jill and Silver had selected robes and dressed their Baby Yodas. "Stand still, girls, and hold your Babies. Smile. Let's have a birthday picture."
"Time to get them ready for their trip home. Oh, and don't forget their special birth certificates and collectible photo inserts." "Oh, boy! Thanks! Those are neat. That'll look cool on our bedroom wall . . . or maybe as a decoration on our pin board." The twins closed the boxes and paid with their birthday present: a Build-a-Bear gift card. "Thanks for a great birthday, Phoenix!" They chatted and giggled the whole way home . . .
Customers continued to file in and out, the little bell on the back of the door nearly always jingling its song. Phoenix went to see if she could help anyone, but it looked like they were all doing very well . . . except for poor Kelly, that is! Oh, my. She was still having trouble making that final decision. Wendy and Johanna had arrived and thought they might be able to help their friend make up her mind.
"What about a bear? Or a seal? Ooh, that penguin is super cute! Then, there's always Baby Yoda, you know. He's so cute that you just have to love him -- and he's the newest thing." Johanna made her suggestions in her best selling voice. Wendy looked at everything pointed out, and while Kelly still couldn't decide, Wendy knew that she needed to go home with her own Baby Yoda. She selected a cute face from the top of the pile and headed right over to the stuffing machine.
In the meantime, Masami and Sun-Ho were digging through the bins of plush. It didn't take too long to find what they were looking for. Masami spotted the perfect unicorn-colored llama that just happened to match her outfit (a very color-coordinated gal). Sun-Ho's choice was more in the line of his favorite theme: UP! Since Build-your-Own-Kevin plushes weren't available, he opted for . . . yep, you got it . . . "Oh, Masami! Look at that . . . SQUIRREL!"
"If you guys will just step right over here, we can get your new friends in their boxes for the trip home," said Phoenix, holding out a cute little cardboard house. Masami's llama looked almost excited to be getting into it! Kelly just stared, wondering if she should have chosen one of those . . .
The shop was really filling up now, and customers were crowding in. Benny and Raito came in together, with Nanea and Janie close behind, leading everyone's favorite Islandshire Grand Champion chicken on her leash. Raito had quite a shopping list, with plans for taking presents home to friends. He and Benny got right down to business and started looking at the Baby Yoda choices.
It did not take long for Raito to start filling his arms with Baby Yodas. "Let's see . . . I need to take one home for my sister. She'd never forgive me if I came home without one for her! And I definitely need one for Angela . . . and I can't forget Wanda . . ." Benny started filling his arms with the matching outfits and suggested buying one of the pre-stuffed display models to save time in the stuffing line. "Great idea, Benny!"
While the boys were picking out their Baby Yodas, Nanea and Janie took Flossie over to see the stuffing machine. The bouncing motion of the stuffing seemed to mesmerize Flossie, who just stared with deep concentration.
"Excuse us, girls." Benny and Raito came up to the stuffing machine with their arms full of Raito's purchases. "We've got a lot of stuffing to do!" Janie's eyes got as big as saucers, and Nanea wondered silently how Raito was going to fit all of that into his suitcase with the other souvenirs he was already taking home.
Phoenix came over and fit one of the unstuffed Baby Yodas onto the end of the stuffing machine. "You can turn the crank, Raito. That gets the stuffing spinning right into your plush." Raito couldn't get started fast enough. "Oh, boy! This is cool!"
Obviously, the boys were going to be at this for quite a while, so Nanea and Janie decided to show Flossie all the plush choices. "Let's start with Baby Yoda, since that's who everyone is excited about," said Janie as she sat down to put a Baby Yoda in front of Flossie. "What do you think?"
Flossie waddled over to stand near Baby Yoda and gave him one of her very serious looks. She let out one small "cluck", which clearly meant that she did not want to take one of these home. "Don't worry, Flossie! There are all kinds of other stuffed animals to look at. Let's go over to the shelf." Janie dearly loves Flossie.
As Nanea and Janie made their way across the shop, they noticed Mabel and Joan on the hunt for something cuddly. Bunty's cousin, Sioned, was chatting with Kelly and showing off the cute little Irish bear that she planned to take home. Kelly thought he looked pretty cute, but she still couldn't decide on what she should take home.
"Here's the perfect little kitty cat," squealed Mabel, holding up a calico kitty with a lot of personality and very soft fur. "Oh, yes! This is just what we're looking for." The twins marched off very happily with their new little friend packed safely inside its cute "house box".
Janie and Nanea stood in front of the wall of plush and let Flossie survey the shelves. Janie wondered how a chicken was going to make up her mind. Nanea was pretty sure she knew what Flossie was going to pick, but she didn't want to say anything before Flossie made her own decision. Can you guess which one Flossie will pick?
Well, if you guessed the little pink and red chicken, then you're right! Flossie hopped right up to the shelf to nudge the cute little plush. "That's what you'd like, Flossie? Alright, we'll go get a box for her." Janie couldn't decide if Flossie thought it was a long-lost cousin or just something to look at. It didn't cluck back . . .
"This is a first! A chicken plush for a Grand Champion chicken," said Phoenix when she brought the box. "I think we should have a picture of you guys with Flossie. Say 'cheese'!" Even Flossie looked like she was smiling.
By this time, Raito and Benny had everything stuffed and boxed. The Baby Yodas were so cute that Benny had decided to take one home for himself. (Move over little Olu and Minnie Mouse, because a newcomer would be joining the plush collection in the Island House!) It wasn't hard to find a Baby Yoda that had just the expression he liked, but it was really neat to find a plush shark lurking at the bottom. "Hey, man! Look at this. They've got a plush shark. I definitely have to take this one home." Benny grinned while Raito admired the shark. "What's your fascination with sharks, Benny?" Nanea heard the question from across the store and came running over to say, "There isn't time to hear the story now . . . maybe later over a campfire."
The happy group left with all their boxes of plush, Flossie waddling out in her own champion-chicken fashion. The shop was emptying out by now, but there were still a couple of shoppers -- including poor Kelly, who just couldn't make up her mind. Bunty and Eliot came in, pushing their Godchild, Truannie, in her pram. The sight of such a cute little baby took Kelly's mind off the plush for a few minutes. "Hello, cutie pie! Are you here to find a new toy?" Truannie looked up with her round blue eyes. "Googy."
"Oh, look! Here's the perfect pet for you, Truannie." Bunty put a cuddly white cat into the pram. Truannie immediately sucked on its ear. "Googy." "That's what she says when she likes something." Eliot was a little more realistic in his interpretation. "That's what she says for everything. It's the only thing she says."
While Eliot pushed Truannie's pram around the store, Bunty did a little shopping of her own. First, she found an adorable black-faced sheep that would look just fabulous on her bed. Then, she found an amazingly fluffy lamb that fairly jumped into her arms. "Brighton really needs this lamb! I just have to get it to send to her. What do you think, Eliot?" But Eliot hadn't heard her; he was in deep conversation with Truannie.
Sioned, standing near the shelf of plush, had already found a little Irish bear for herself. "Bunty, you just have to see this very cute bear here. Doesn't he make you think of something?" she asked, as she held out the light pink bear.
"Oh, yes! Our Joint Venture!" said Bunty. "He'd make a perfect mascot, wouldn't he? Shall we buy him?" It was a purely rhetorical question, since the girls had already moved to the checkout counter and were sliding the little bear into a box. (More about the secretive Joint Venture is forthcoming in a future issue of the Gazette.)
"Thank you so much, Phoenix! This has been a great shopping experience. We'll have to bring Truannie in again for another plush, but she needs to get home now." Sioned left with the trio, leaving only Kelly in the shop with Phoenix. "It's almost closing time, and I still haven't made up my mind. There are just so many cute animals . . . and I like them all."
While it crossed Phoenix's mind that there weren't as many cute animals left to choose from as there had been when Kelly was one of the first to arrive this morning, she didn't think that mentioning it would help the situation. Instead (being a very caring salesman), she took Kelly over to the shelf and pointed out a very colorful cuddly bear. "You know, I think you should really consider this bear. He's got French Fries on his little patch, and that's almost your favorite snack. He might be just the one for you."
"He's perfect! Why didn't I notice him before? Wait 'til I show Lori what I picked out!" Phoenix boxed up the bear, and Kelly walked happily out of the door, humming all the way.
Whew! What an exciting day! Phoenix locked the door, placed the "Closed for the Day" sign in the window, and fell into a chair. Everything had gone off quite well, and even the stock of Baby Yoda had lasted through the all-day rush. It's a good thing she had the weekend off, though, because it was going to take a lot of time to restock the shop. "Ah, well, never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. I think that's the way the saying goes . . ." Right now, it was time to head over to Connie's house (taking along her own cute Baby Yoda, of course) to relax and watch a movie . . . a quiet movie . . . with a small cast and little noise . . . maybe a silent . . .
Pop really outdid himself in the workshop this year. He's been working on homemade Christmas presents for some of the dolls since early this Summer. It's been a lot of fun, because we all knew something of what he was making for one of the others. Here are some preliminary pictures of everything, and you'll be seeing more of all of this in later photo shoots!
Mina's Pottery Wheel
Mina received a fabulous workshop setup from Dad last year -- including tools, a tool box, work bench and a forge. This is all based on a computer game that Elizabeth is keen on called Return to Mysterious Island. One of the other very fun pieces in the computer workshop is a pottery wheel, so Mina has been asking for this addition to her workshop.
Click on images to enlarge.
The stand itself is made of wood, but since the "real" one in the game is made of stone, Dad plastered over the wood to give it a stone-like texture. He then painted it to look like a sort of rough marble. The rotating wheel for the pottery actually spins!
Harold's Ham Radio
Harold's personality really came to life at Bunty's Wool Show this Fall. When the new PC system for the show arrived (the old karaoke boombox and microphone), he discovered that he just LOVES microphones. Dad decided to make a whole Ham Radio setup for little Harold, and this thing is absolutely amazing!
The radio comes in a real military-style army-green packing case and features a plug-in telegraph key and a microphone (the microphone being the only piece in the set that Pop did NOT make). The radio itself has all kinds of knobs and dials, and the screen lights up to "turn on" with a slider button hidden on the bottom. For accessories, there is a World Time Zone chart, a Morse Code chart, two radio manuals, a notepad and some pencils (totally made by Pop). This whole set is totally amazing!
Click the images below to view at full size.
I think most of you will remember Nachito's Fishing Equipment, Bait and Tackle shop that Dad made last Christmas. Well, this is the next part for that set up. Mom has been wanting a boat for him, but the options are quite sad. There was Caroline's Skiff that was way to small in scale to look like anything with the 18" dolls, and there was a plastic fishing boat from Our Generation -- but there was too much pink on that one for Nachito -- and a bit too much plastic. We'd kind of resigned ourselves to an imaginary boat . . .
Dad has always loved sailboats and sailing ships, so he decided to make one from scratch. It's solid wood (and I mean real wood -- not this wood composite that the doll companies use to advertise supposedly "real wood"). He had to actually soak the side pieces to curve them for bow. And to make it versatile and easy to store, every part is removable! The sail and rigging and poles come off, which means it can also be used as an old-fashioned rowboat (oars are hiding down in there). The tiller also comes off, and Dad is working on making an outboard motor to attach back there as well. If you look in one of the pictures below, you'll see there's even a little anchor on a rope!
Bunty's Spinning Wheel
And for Bunty, there was a real surprise waiting! Her own doll-sized version of the Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel! This is a modern design wheel that's quite portable -- and was a total surprise for Bunty and me!
Bunty was pretty excited to see this red polka-dotted box under the tree with her name on it . . .
When she finally got a peek at what was inside -- well, the shock was pretty great!
This was a pretty big item to get out of the box by herself, but Harold was so busy tapping away on his new telegraph key that he didn't hear Bunty asking him for help. Where are the boys when you need them?
Oh, well! All the excitement gave Bunty enough energy to snatch that spinning wheel out of the box on her own. There was even a brand-new manual to go with it!
He actually made a digital model of the wheel and all the parts before cutting anything out of wood. The wheel turns, and the pedals move up and down and everything.
And just in case Bunty can't take her wheel with her . . . he also made three drop spindles for her!
I haven't had the chance to take more photos of these things yet, but they'll be appearing in some set-ups and scenes to come! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, because I probably forgot to mention something. These were some really fun surprises.
Looking forward to seeing the new Girl of the Year 2020 on Wednesday, and we plan to go to the store to see her (weather permitting). Check back for pictures and reviews of all the new AG items.
All the waiting was certainly worth it! The Nutcracker uniforms arrived a few days ago, and Eliot couldn't be happier! He's been aching for a Coldstream Guards uniform for months, because he wants to dress like his ancestor who died in the Crimean War. That was a bit of a tall order, but Elizabeth did get him closer by giving him a Coldstream badge for Christmas --- along with a fabulous sword (antique letter opener) and Bearskin helmet!
First off, a few words on the quality of the Nutcracker/Clara set: My sister and I each got a uniform, and I was fortunate enough to know two people on a doll forum who wanted to split the cost and take the Clara outfits. I did have a peak at them before sending them off, though. They were cotton fabric with a sewn-in slip lining. Personally, I thought they felt very similar in make and quality to Nellie's meet dress --- which doesn't really help anyone who hasn't seen her meet dress. But if you have, the Clara dress was very similar. The shoes looked adorable.
The Nutcracker uniform is great! It is much better quality than I'd expected. To be honest, I've been wanting a Coldstream Guards uniform for Eliot for so long that, had these appeared in the AG store, I'd have happily paid the $75.00 just for his set. Crazy, but hey! It beats my sister and me spending the Winter making one up ourselves, right?!
The jacket is a plush velvet type of fabric. Not lined, but that would probably have made it bulky. Eliot changes pretty often, so I'm not too worried about staining. I actually have my Eliot (Logan head) on an old Jess body, because I wanted the taller body with the normal hands (he uses a fishing pole and scooter --- neither of which works with the Logan hands). That means he's not as petite as the newer dolls, but this outfit fit him fabulously. The gold designs are embroidered. The black collar, cuffs and belt are a high-quality vinyl made to feel like bi-cast leather. Much more supple and soft than I thought. It's not the cheap stuff that feels like it will crack in a few months. The belt buckl is metal. Very easy to put on, and it fits well.
The boots have nice molded plastic soles (like the shoes in Luciana's Flight Suit) that I really like. The dolls can stand in them very easily. The boots went on super well, and the velcro up the back closes over the pants with no problem.
The pants are a THICK heavy-weight fabric. Wow! I expected thin little leggings from the photos, so I figured I could always use the white pants from the old Equestrian outfit. But these are just as nice and fit really well! No velcro, just elastic waist, which I really like.
The included helmet was also cute. Made of the same red velvet as the jacket and with matching gold embroidery. The chin strap is a piece of gold elastic. As Eliot already has his Coldstream helmet, he hasn't actually worn the Nutcracker one -- but it's very cute.
Click through the photos above to see more of the uniform. (Right-click on an individual picture and select "Open image in new tab" to see at full size.)
I cut a piece of grosgrain ribbon to make the white sash. His Coldstream Guards badge is actually a lapel pin on the ribbon sash.
And here are some pictures of his Bearskin helmet. Elizabeth made the pattern for this up herself. It's faux black fur, all hand sewn. There is a padded wire frame around the bottom half of the hat to keep the shape nice. This is covered over by a wide band of unbleached muslin which protects the doll's head from either shine marks or staining (faux fur can be a really bad stainer). The chin band is a thick gold-coloured cord, and the red plume is hand-made on a think wire to stand straight under all conditions!
Click through the photos above to see more. (Right-click on an individual picture and select "Open image in new tab" to see at full size.)
All in all, I haven't been this happy with an AG purchase in ages! Definitely worth the wait, and I'm so glad we ordered on the preorder. For anyone waiting to get one, these will be available on the American Girl website on October 1st. They are a limited production, so they'll only be available while supplies last.