Let's take a look at Zylie the Bear, shall we?
According the the company website, "Zylie is all about ADVENTURE!", and Zylie and friends are meant to be good companions on a chilld's adventures, whether it be literal travels or just the journey of growing and thriving. Zylie has two bear friends, Shen the Panda, who is also available now, and Kiki the Koala, who isn't available yet. She also has a little brother in her storybooks, Theo, who isn't a doll yet but I hope will be, because she needs her pesky little brother at her side to keep her on her toes.
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Here is the box that sat expectantly on my porch on my birthday:
Wow, colorful! The shipping box just looks happy and made me want to tear right into it and see what's inside. It's sturdy, didn't even need to be taped, and will make an excellent storage box for Zylie and all her stuff.
Matching interior wrapping tissue to heighten the anticipation and keep the box window nicely un-scratched in transit. And what's this note?
How nice! Yes, it's hard to read, because my phone hates me. It's a sweet little note basically saying "Thank you for reviewing Zylie and have fun!" It was a nice touch.
I gently push the tissue aside, and....here's Zylie!
I like the presentation here--not too fussy and very appealling. I can also see exactly what's included.
I love that her nose is stitched and waxed--that's a genuine quality touch. Her fur is also multicolored, a nice warm tan with darker flecks throughout. It's very pretty and quite soft.
Profile. She's very happy to meet you.
Here's Zylie's first adventure book.
And her bag and essential papers.
The back of the box has good graphics and shows the other dolls and outfits. Note that it says "Outfits fit most 18" dolls." We'll get to that later.
The box opens easily at the top, and the inner cardboard that Zylie's attached to slides out smoothly. AND LOOK--only three twisted wires attaching the bear and her bag! I almost cheered. They were easy to pull loose--yes, truly, I didn't untwist them, I just pulled to either side of the twist and they came right out.
And here is our main attraction, free of box and constraints and ready for adventures. Wave hello, Zylie.
Inside of her orange felt shoulder bag is a diary with blank pages that can be written or drawn on. I didn't expect it and was pleasantly surprised.
Her passport and map, essential for adventuring.
This is a terrible photo and I apologize, but it at least shows Zylie's essential passport info. Note the stamped number, you'll need to hang on to that.
The passport has several blank pages to add visas and stamps to, which adds to some creative fun, and again, note the number. And ignore my crap photo editing. Thank you.
Zylie has a wish list. Very international, this bear.
The map folds out, with red dots for the places Zylie has wish-listed. England has disappeared into the Atlantic, I fear, but it's good enough for Zylie's wish list.
All this fits nicely into the bag, which could also accommodate a crayon or two and some play money for the serious adventurer.
Here's the title page of the storybook, which is hardbound with stitched signatures and has very nice graphics. I have to confess that I haven't read it yet, but I did flip through it, and it looks fun and informative.
And now she has her bag full and is ready for anything.
"What? You want me to take the clothes off? Awwww, I was just ready to head out the door!"
Here you can see the nice felt buttons on the coat that don't pose any choking hazards.
Her top is long enough to be a dress, and is very cute.
From the back. There's a velcro closure all the way down, or at least as far as it goes, about a third of the way down the skirt. The skirt got rumpled in the packaging but that's easily remedied.
She's also wearing jeans, with a nice Z on the working back pockets. This is fresh out of the box, and was closed a bit crookedly at the factory--the velcro is actually just fine and closes neatly.
Here's a feature that's essential in getting pants of any type over Zylie's bear feet, and ...
....it closes nicely with a stud accent. It looks really good on her. Outstanding design.
BEAR NEKKID. She has standard joints at her neck, arms, and legs. Her legs seem a tad loose to me, but I didn't have any worries that they'd fall off or the joints would come apart. There's no pivot here, so movement is restricted to up, down, and in a circle, if you like your bear to be a bit of a contortionist.
BEAR BEHIND. She has a thinner bum that on most plush bears, which makes sense, given that she's made to wear doll clothes.
Her tags are on the back seam of her her left leg.
The inside of the jeans are nicely finished, with very few stray threads and not much unravelling. The velcro area at the ankles is reinforced with extra fabric.
The dress bodice is lined with a sheer synthetic fabric, and tagged.
The trim is finished rather nicely, without just being roughly cut off, like some other doll clothes are (which just drives me nuts--why put it on there if you're going to finish it badly?). It's very nicely made, I'm impressed.
Even the fleece coat is lined, in Zylie's signature bright orange. No stray threads--good care and work went into the design and making of these clothes.
The box states that the clothes are compatible with 18" dolls, so I decided to play with that idea and redressed Zylie in some clothes I'd made for American Girl and Madame Alexander play dolls. I apologize for the rumples, but it's my own sewing, so who cares? You can see that the sleeves are VERY tight, and I barely got them over her paws. I don't even want to tell you the naughty words I said getting those bloomers on, but they did go on. Her arms really can't move in this, though, which I'm sure would frustrate a child to no end. She can't sit down in the tight bloomers, either. She looks unhappy, and I felt sorry for her and took this off her pretty quickly.
Despite the tightness, though, doesn't Zylie look adorable? I think with some size adjustments in the pattern, especially in making the sleeves roomier, I could make Zylie some pretty nifty stuff from the existing 18" play doll clothes patterns I have. That's very important to me, as I enjoy sewing things for my dolls.
For a fair comparison and a clothes swap, however, I needed a comparable fit model, and I happen to have this cute Madame Alexander Favorite Friends doll, "Monkey Love," whose name is now Emma:
I started by getting them both BEAR NEKKID! again (I'm so sorry, I'll stop now--I really am much too easily amused), and tried Emma's clothes on Zylie.
As you can see, Emma's leggings...well, that's as far as we got them. Those feet are not compatible with pants and leggings sized for average 18" doll legs and feet. Don't even think about trying the AG/MA shoes on her. She is designed to be bearfoot (..really, I'm so sorry...), though, which makes fewer things to lose/ worry over in real play. I don't have any Build-A-Bear shoes to try on her, so I don't know if those will fit. Zylie's feet are longer and thinner than the average bear, though, and I'm thinking that they wouldn't fit right. I don't think the BAB clothes would, either, because Zylie is taller and thinner and more doll-like in proportion.
The dress and vest went on okay, but, again, were quite tight.
Bursting at the seams!
The hair bow fit exactly right, though! How cute is this?
Now Emma tried on Zylie's clothes, and....
....the jeans slipped right off her. I pulled them up a couple of times, and they kept sliding right back down.
The dress is too wide in the armholes, which made the whole piece ride ride up on her shoulders.
From the back.
With the jacket on, however, the ensemble looked really cute, as long as the jeans stayed up. Which they didn't. But I got the picture, anyway.
The jacket is clearly too big, but doesn't it look great all the same? This is definitely a piece that will serve multiple dolls. It is just that nice and snappy. The too-bigness makes it look like a swing coat on Emma, which is quite stylish.
Just a barefooted height comparison. Zylie fits right in next to her human sister.
Bottom line: I really like Zylie, and am seriously considering buying Shen the Panda, as well. Zylie's very pretty and soft, is a great size and shape for kids who'd rather have a plush animal than a doll, and she seems sturdy enough for younger kids (4-8 years) who aren't old enough for the play dolls yet, but are also too old for just a simple plushie. The clothes are very, very well made, so I'll probably buy some of the available outfits--I really love the "Down the Pleated Path" set.
The clothes really do seem too large for other 18" play dolls, though, and those other dolls' clothes are too tight for Zylie. Loose sleeveless dresses and tanks might be wearable, and there are of course several available outfits made just for Zylie and Shen that are well made and attractive.
Remember when I said to keep that passport number in mind? There will be online adventures for Zylie and her friends, and the passport number will be necessary to access the games and interactive content. The page isn't live yet but it looks like they have some fun stuff planned. There is also a blog, which IS live and has some neat stuff on it (crafts! places to go! Zylie in action!) and some user photos from fellow adventurers.
So: Zylie is a recommend, especially at her reasonable price point, and the clothes are excellent. The company seems to have a real enthusiasm and vision for what they do, and I very much hope they succeed.
See you on an adventure!