In response, I got a lovely reply from Aileen Le, who is, according to her email signature, the Brand Ambassador for the company. Aileen offered to send me an outfit from their line for me to review, as their outfits are made to fit most 18" dolls like AG. I of course said "Of course!," and a few days later I got a little box in the mail from Pen Pal Girls.
And here's what was inside the box:
I do love when the packaging reflects the concept behind the product, and this really goes beautifully with the international pen pal theme that this doll company is going for.
Star Doll Dress, and the dress is, indeed, a sparkler! The stripes are reminiscent of zebra stripes, and the sequins aren't glued, they're sewn on by machine with clear nylon thread.
The interior is well finished, although instead of that neck and armhole facing, I wish I'd seen a lining. The velcro matches, huzzah, instead of just being a generic white or beige.
Madame Alexander Fashionista, Cecilia, who loves to be on the forefront of fashion and parties. The dress fits very well, hangs very nicely, and is just exactly the right hem length for my tastes.
I'm impressed by the quality of the dress and the shoes. I do wish tights of some kind had been included, even just plain white or grey, to finish the outfit off. An accessory also seems to be called for, such as a glittery purse. Also, truth to tell, the shoes and the dress don't really seem to go together: the dress is more adult than the shoes. The only thing they seem to have in common is their party time sparkliness. The outfit retails for $28 on the Pen Pal Girls site.
I do wish I had one of the dolls to compare their quality to AG and MA. So far there are two available, Emma from the UK, a suburban girl from London, and Cady from China, who lives near Kowloon Bay in Hong Kong. The price for each dressed doll is $85, and on eBay the shipping is only $5. The bodies are intended to be compatible with American Girl, Favorite Friends, Springfield, and other comparable dolls.
The Pen Pal Girls website is interactive, with games and "pen pals" with letters from some dolls and real girls as well. Aileen also sent me a couple of downloads of photos and a nice PDF media kit that Blogger and Adobe won't let me show you (grar!), but I've gotten a sense that this is a serious small company with a solid business plan and a real vision that intends to stay in the business for the long haul. I wish them all success.