Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review of Harmony Club Dolls "Summer"

I recently discovered Harmony Club Dolls, whose motto is "Peace, Love, Harmony," when I ran across them in a search for doll clothes. I'm always interested in new doll companies, especially in this cut-throat toy market that can chew a doll company up and spit it back out before I even hear of it, and this one has particularly appealling looking dolls. I decided to order the Rock this Town outfit Summer, the blue/green-eyed strawberry blonde, and a Halloween outfit for her, after I was sent a coupon code for 20% off my purchase. With accompanying $5 flat rate shipping, this brought my total down to under $100--hardly my $21 bargain from Saturday, but all the same, a total I could live with for a doll and two outfits total. She took a week to arrive from date of shipment, and showed up on my doorstep yesterday morning.

Note the edits after the jump!

I found out via this AG Playthings thread before Summer arrived that Harmony Club buys wholesale dolls from China and restyles them. Soon they plan to develop and market their own dolls with unique faces and independent designs. For now, they buy dolls, remove the rooted hair, apply premium wigs, and style the outfits from pieces also bought wholesale from China.

I did a bit of investigation and pricing, and realized a few things: the dolls they use retail for $40 to $60 in the USA, so aren't cheap, but the rooted hair is, and is a pain to remove, so the wigs are a serious improvement; the minimum wholesale quantity for the dolls from the factory is 300 pieces, which puts the whole venture out of my financial capability; the wigs really are very good premium wigs, as I've used them myself and can vouch for the quality; the clothes are reasonably good quality and carry The Doll Clothes Store label. The dolls do as well, and I'll get back to that in a bit. Overall, I don't think I could put this same doll myself together for the same price or with the same panache--so I'm not at all complaining about the sourcing.

EDITED TO ADD: I just received an email from Karen Elliott of Harmony Club, and she graciously gave me permission to quote the following here:

While we purchase these dolls from a wholesale supplier, The Doll Store, the manufacturer of these dolls in China will also produce this same doll for other stores in large quantity. We will be discontinuing this doll, however, once we receive our own custom designed product which will be trademarked with the Harmony Club Dolls imprint on the neck. We expect it to be of even higher quality and made with similar hair. I will be receiving a sample later this week. I would be happy to send a picture to you for your site.

That picture should be coming super soon, so stay tuned!

More editing! Here is Harmony, the new doll with the dance theme:

And here is Jazzmin:

I found also that the company was responsive to my questions, and was cheerfully willing to accommodate an upgrade change I wanted to make before the doll was shipped (from doll just in underwear, to dressed doll).

Now to Summer's arrival: the box.

 Nice, sturdy, basic shipping box, arriving intact (thanks, USPS!). I was rather pleased to see a logo label instead of the usual pre-populated form label; it adds a little "a real person actually handled this" feeling to it. Not that that matters so much on the outside, or probably to anyone else on the planet. ;D
Inside that box is the doll box, which is a pretty standard large white cardboard folded gift box with a label carefully affixed to the front.
I think it's a nice label and logo, given that one of the aims of the company is to appeal to mothers of dancers and girls who dance, according to the website. I haven't seen any evidence of that goal yet, aside from the mention.
Ooh, lots of purple tissue. I do loves purple. The Rock This Town outfit is in a nice plastic bag, also with a logo sticker, because Summer arrived wearing....

 ...her specially ordered pumpkin outfit! How cute is this? Extremely, that's how cute.

Now, how to get her loose from the packaging?
One. Single. String. Oh. Em. Gee. Some folks may criticize this as a lax way to secure a doll to a box, but I could not have been more thrilled to see the doll secured AND easy to remove from the box. Hallelujah, say I. I've done plenty of package-wrassling in my time (do not get me started on those BFC Ink doll packages), and this was just a total joy to see.
 Here she is with her hairnet removed. What's with that swoop of shorter hair there? I think it's supposed to be a wispy bang, but it just falls into her face. Thwoop.
Her eyes are really nice, and seem to change a bit with the light--now blue, now green, now aqua. They roll back to sleep and then to awake easily and smoothly and are aligned well. Her eyelashes are a bit stiff but don't pull out. Now to get her out of the box, and check out her hair.
My second Oh. Em. Gee. Look at that hair! GORGEOUS, with tones, so it looks realistically colored. It's a strawberry blonde, and I recognized it as the same as a wig I'd bought for a different doll from Bavas International, although not the same size. If I tug gently on the back curls, the hair length is to her ankles. My Rapunzel-soul couldn't be happier.

The wig seems to be glued rather far down on her head and into her face, but the effect is really nice overall. It looks pretty natural from the side.
I also like the way it's placed around her ears, not just  aside them or (heaven forfend) covering them.
On the left side, I can see a bit of wig cap when I sweep her hair up.
I can't see wig cap at the back of her head when I pull her hair at a part, though, so ponytails should look quite nice and natural.
The hair looks redder or blonder according to the light, btw, and the light here is varying, as it's a cloudy day and I had to use flash in some pics to get a clear view. And speaking of view, here's the back of her outfit. Both the skirt and the shirt have velcro closures all the way down so the garment comes off and goes on nicely without tugging.
I love love love these tights--look at that bum panel! The tights don't restrict the leg or hip movement. More doll clothes should have this in tights and leggings, it really makes a difference in how the doll moves and the clothes fit.
The front of the tights, and her cloth chest and belly, which seem to be reasonable quality cloth and well-stuffed.

I want these shoes in MY size, they're just that great. They come off and on easily, and she stands like a rock in them.
UNDERPANTS! YAY! All dolls should have underpants, dammit. Seems that that's the least a doll company can do, and yet so many of them don't. I was pleased to see these.
Lower torso from the front. See that groove in her upper thigh? That makes a big difference in how a doll sits, and we'll get to that in a  minute.
Her nails on her hands and her toes are very lightly and naturally polished, and it's a nice touch.
Dolly bum! She's made for solid standing and sitting.

Not what you don't see: the tag that should be somewhere on her side to state where the doll is made and of what, especially the stuffing. I think Harmony Club took those off, unless the factory just didn't provide them, as I also don't see an obviously torn tag or resewn seam. I'm just as happy with that, myself, but I don't know how a parent would feel about it.

Her vinyl neck is clearly marked "Doll Clothes Store." I'm very curious, after an internet search, if The Doll Clothes Store has gone out of business--does anyone know? The cloth body is secured in the neck flange by a sturdy zip tie.

Now we sit. And rather nicely, at that. Here's where the thigh groove comes in: it allows the leg to move without the splaying that occurs with other 18" AG-compatible dolls, including AG. I like it. She sits well and didn't fall over.
Here's the tag on the inside of the vest that goes with the Rock This Town outfit.
Jeans and cool sneaker-boots.
Along with a tank top, and here you have a complete outfit, which really doesn't look like the outfit on the website, which had a black tank, zebra-striped tights, and red and black boots. I know, Some Substitutions Might Be Made, but the only part of it that's as advertised is the vest--but I have to say I really do prefer the jeans to the tights.

Overall (--I need a catchy phrase here, I'll get back to you on that--): I'm very pleased with how the entire doll comes together, and I just love her. I really can't wait to see what this company comes up with, however, that makes it truly a unique doll line. As it is, I see her as a really nicely done modification of an existing doll, not as a singular doll vision. I'm glad I have her, though, and as soon as I get that pesky little wispy bang swoop taken care of, you'll see more of her in DBB. I do plan to change her name, btw, to something I prefer to Summer, like maybe Autumn. I'll get back to you on that, too.


  1. I think I'm in love with those upcoming models. And I quite agree about underpants and bum flaps! Great review, with some real information. ;-)

  2. The Doll Clothes Store didn't go out of business :) I did a check online, it's www.dollclothesstore.com I found several of the Harmony Club's outfits on there.

  3. I am an adult collector. I have 30 AG dolls and 150 other dolls. Been on the fence about these dolls. Think I'll buy one now. I appreciate your honest review. Thanks.


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