Let me share this magical experience with you. This is a quintessential moment of “you get what you pay for”. Yes, I absolutely knew what I was getting into when I picked this gem off the shelf.
It was half price, and cost me a whopping 6.50 Euros. Now, why did I invest in this piece of cra … plastic? Those of you who have been following my blog for awhile have seen my adventures in the ball-jointed-doll making world. I really do enjoy dolls and miniatures and all things “mini”. I don’t know why it’s so much fun to see every day items made tiny; it just is. So I embrace my crazy little hobby with joy. 🙂
Part of that hobby is getting down to the nuts and bolts (sometimes literally!) of how a doll is constructed. Awhile ago, I bought for myself a Made to Move Barbie so I could study how that particular doll moves and poses.
I’ll do an actual review on this type of doll later on for those of you who are interested. But for now, I can tell you that I was quite impressed with the quality of the Made to Move Barbie and the range of motion that she has. Excellent pose-ability. She can even sit with her legs crossed! I really hope whoever designed her joints got a promotion.
I was curious to see what Mattel had for us in terms of flexible dolls with a male body type. And that’s where I ran face-first into disappointment. There are no Made to Move Ken dolls. That’s right. Barbie can’t do yoga or go cycling with her boyfriend because his joints are woefully inadequate to the task. (Note: The Fashionista Ken doll line used to have flexible joints, however, the current generation has the old stiff joints and immovable arms. Why Mattel?)
Now, in order to check out the joints of a “Made to Move” Ken type doll I could either shell out for something like this:
And wait for him to arrive in the mail just so I can peek at his joints. Or I could grab this hunk right off the shelf at Hong Kong.
So, without further ado, let’s get acquainted with Mr. Kevin, first name “Cool”.
There is literally no text on this box other than what you see here. No explanation. Kevin has been cast adrift in this world with no idea of why he was made or for whom. Kevin will have to make his own meaning, just like the rest of us. (Okay so there’s a warning at the bottom telling you not to let your 0-3 year old eat it.)
Yes, his leg returns to that position if left unattended, in case you were wondering. Kevin has no idea what “socks” are. What are you talking about?
So that’s how far his elbows bend. On the upside, he actually has his fingernails sculpted in which is more than I can say for most Barbie dolls.
He can almost kneel.
He can almost sit. I had to put him on my leg to take the photo because he can’t quite get his legs at a 90 degree angle. Needs to be tilted forward a few degrees or he falls over backwards.
Okay his ankles are actually slightly more flexible than mine. Not bad.
His sleeveless sweater has a hood. Okay.
Yes, his Velcro “fly” is in the back. His pants conveniently fit over his adult diapers.
So … I’m fairly certain that whoever sculpted Kevin’s chest has never seen a man without his shirt on before. Pectoral muscles actually have connections under the arm and do not come to a point near the diaphragm unless you have your arms above your head. Thus, I can only conclude that Kevin’s chest is an artistic representation of surrender that the artist felt when the realised they weren’t getting paid enough for this.
I … well I would give a warning for nudity but Kevin is incapable of being naked. Ever. And it looks like it wouldn’t matter even if he was.
The only thing I can conclude is that these legs were actually sculpted for another doll who was smaller.
Well, that’s better than I can do. Good job Kevin.
Kevin’s bionic legs. No attempt made to conceal the pins of the hinge-joints that let his legs and ankles bend. Or trim the excess plastic left behind.
The leg joints are reaaaally loose.
The slapdash paint job on his hair is really noticeable. Parts of his hair are left uncoloured while there are flecks of blond paint are all over his ears and forehead.
The moral of the story is: pay your artists what they deserve. It costs a certain amount of money to create and ship a piece of merchandise. If you’re not paying that price, someone, somewhere up the line is getting cheated out of their money. That will show up in the quality of the product.
You can tell when the person who made the product didn’t care about the result. You can tell when something was pumped off an assembly line by people who just wanted to earn a pay cheque and eat and pay the rent. Those aren’t bad people. They’re doing an honest day’s work and they deserve their earnings.
There’s a market for 6.50 euro dolls. Many children are perfectly happy to receive Cool Kevin and play with him. But if you want something of higher quality, something that someone put a piece of their heart into and sent to you with pride, you’ll have to turn to small, independent artists. And, yes, you’ll have to pay us. Our goods come out of closet-sized workshops where we work alone, using single moulds to produce one-of-a-kind items one at a time. The piece that you’re buying didn’t just zip past us on a conveyor belt. We literally spent hours looking at it, working on the details until we were sure it was up to our standards.
We can’t hope to compete with the manufacturing power-houses of China. Most of us don’t want to. So, please, if you can’t afford an item that you want from us, just be honest about it. We know our goods aren’t within everybody’s budget. They’re not “too expensive”. They cost what they cost and can’t be made for anything less without us taking a financial loss.
If you tell us “I could get that at Walmart for a quarter the price!” or “I could make that myself for less!” then please do so. If you’re asking us to match sweatshop-labour prices for custom-made art: you deserve a Cool Kevin.