If I had to choose just one word to describe the new West
Coast Kids dolls it would be "quality". Everything about these
dolls is the best of the best: vinyl, body sculpt, wig, eyes, and so on.
The first doll that was released, Summer, has a wig with two different
tones of blond hair mixed in and that is nicely styled. The eyes have
great depth and sparkle. The face paint is wonderful with the best
eyebrow painting I have seen and lips that are shaded, not just one
tone. The vinyl color is natural and the extra blushing on face and body appropriate
for girls who spends a lot of time outside. The torso, arms and legs
have the most detailed sculpt I have ever seen in a play doll with
lovely definition from muscles and bones. The dolls' stringing is top notch and you can tell
they will stand up well to years of play.
interviewed the dolls' creator, Kathryn Pardee, by phone and asked her
what made her decide to start a new doll line. "I wanted to see a doll
that was about creativity and imagination, and sharing time between
mother and daughter, not just about buying her every new outfit that
comes out." So, along with the first doll, West Coast Kids released two
patterns and several more have come out since.
Kathryn's background is in fine art. "I have a
Bachelor of Science in
Design from University of California, Davis. I have been a professional
figurative watercolor artist for 10 years and a porcelain doll maker
than physically sculpting the doll herself, Kathryn made "painstakingly
photorealistic" renderings in pencil from all angles to represent a
typical ten-year-old girl, then hired industry specialist Sandra Bilotto to sculpt the
parts and make the initial molds. "I was very concerned that the joints
on the doll -- I wanted them to move naturally and be very sturdy." Once
the molds were made and she was happy with the samples, production molds
were made at the factory (in China). "They
then poured vinyl into the production molds and sent me 3 dolls in
pieces which I painted with an airbrush. They then copied the
painting." Kathryn worked closely with them to make sure
the quality was to her exacting standards.
"I wanted an all-vinyl doll because
they look more real to me than a doll with a cloth torso." The eyes were
intentionally exaggerated and enhanced with applied lashes above and
"she is still a fantasy."
The dolls have been advertised through large ads in major doll
magazines which is getting the attention of adult doll collectors even
though the dolls were designed for children. Judging from the reaction
of my daughter, who appropriated Summer immediately,
renamed her Truly and carried her off to her room, she will be a big hit
with them. "One grandmother called me", Kathryn said, "and told me she
was buying Summer to play with herself and that she'd let her
granddaughter have her after she was gone." At $115, these dolls are at
the high end of the play doll market, but this is truly a case of "you
get what you pay for".
The dolls come in a sturdy presentation box, shown to the right, and
are fastened in well though not excessively. Summer, who is named after
one of Kathryn's daughters, has an extra outfit packed in the box with
her which includes a cute squash paddle with the company logo on it (a
young girl with butterfly wings holding her doll). The doll also has a
certificate of authenticity signed by the creator and a card describing
her and listing care instructions.
second West Coast Kids doll, Sierra, was introduced in July 2006.
Sierra is a brunette with green eyes, like Kathryn's other daughter Sierra.
Sierra only comes with one outfit but it is quite elaborate. Sierra lives in the mountains of California and likes to hike, snowboard
and rock climb. Her accessories will include a snow board (with custom
graphics of the night sky), backpack, tent and sleeping bag.
If you collect other dolls, you will find that these are most similar
to the Magic Attic Club dolls. The pictures below show
how Summer (on the left) compares to Magic Attic Club (in the middle)
and also an American Girl (on the right). The West Coast Kids doll is slightly
taller and slimmer
than Magic Attic with a more defined
waist. Her arms and legs are slightly longer.
("The drawings for
Summer were done to scale using the typical profile for a 10 year old
child’s anatomy," says Kathryn.) Her arms look longer mostly because
they are not as bent at the elbow as the other dolls'.
Even though the West Coast Kids' waist is slimmer, her hips are about
the same size as Magic Attic, so she fits quite well into their clothes.
On the left you can see Summer wearing Magic Attic Club Chloe's starter
outfit. The sleeves are a little too short for her but everything else
fits well, including the shoes. This is wonderful news since this means
that the dolls will have almost endless wardrobe possibilities. For
instance Summer can wear the cute beachwear from the
Dream Doll Designer Summer Sizzle
collection, such as this white seersucker sundress shown in the picture
on the right. With their elegant body sculpt, Summer and Sierra will also look stunning
in the fantasy creations from
Carpatina Dolls and
Being 18", she can also use all these dolls' accessories and even the
furniture and extras from the American Girls, though their clothing would be
Kathryn designs the clothing for the dolls, and they are cute and well made.
shoes are particularly
nice and realistic. Notice the excellent detail in the sandals of the
black bikini beach outfit to the left. This is a the second outfit which
is included with Summer.
As mentioned earlier, Kathryn also designs
sewing patterns for the dolls, "though one of my daughters creates the
knitting and crochet patterns." The two pictures to the right are
examples. The Snow Queen gown and cape is sure to capture the imagination of any little (or big)
If your doll is coming to live in a colder climate, like mine, you'll appreciate the new snowboarding and hiking clothes that were
recently released with Sierra. Naturally, all the clothing fits both
dolls. Below is Summer in the new Snow Board outfit and Sierra in the
Cold Weather Back Pack outfit she comes in, which is also available
recently joined her sister at our house and she is stunning. It is a
good thing that we don't have to worry about sibling rivalry between our
dolls because I think she is even more fabulous than her sister. Since
she arrived in July, she immediately changed into a shorts outfit to
explore our yard. This Warm Weather Back Pack outfit features very
realistic details like the zip-off pant legs and another pair of
fabulous hiking boots, in brown as opposed to her starter outfit's black
I think it is wonderful to have these new dolls on
the scene with so much to offer. Sierra was even better than I expected
her to be and I look forward to more and more quality offerings from
West Coast Kids.