Monday, January 6, 2014

Extra Special Grace

If you are a frequent visitor of the AG Facebook page, you will remember that back around February/March 2013 there was a huge amount of spam (I'm sorry but when it gets to that level of annoying it's spam) about people wanting AG to create a doll with Down Syndrome. I didn't really want them to but that's because I'm 99% sure they would mess it up, but through that whole mess I found Connie Feda and this website. Connie has a daughter with Downs, you can read all about their story here but to recap for you; when her daughter was about nine she (the daughter)  noticed that there were no dolls that looked like her. So Connie set out to make one, and that is how you make a difference in the world people!

By the time I found out about Connie and her mission she already had a doll artist on the case and she had a few pictures. I saw this one:
totally stolen from google!
And I fell in love.

I don't have Downs and nobody in my immediate family does either. So you might be asking yourself at this point why would I be interested in a doll that has Downs. Well there are two reasons; one that is pretty shallow and another that isn't! The first reason is that I like diversity in my doll collection and not only is that doll up there beautiful but I have nothing like her!

My other reason is a bit more complicated. Before I moved this summer, I worked for three years as a Special Education Paraeducator in Preschool. It was a job that I kind of fell into but that I loved. During that three years I worked closely with a lot of kids with a lot of needs including two little girls with Downs! Around the time I found these dolls I also knew for sure that I would be moving and that it would be my last year. Leaving was very hard and so I wanted one of these dolls as a reminder of three amazing years doing a job that I actually felt was important! So that is why I wanted one.

I preordered my doll in March and I chose Grace. I picked her because Grace is a very special name to me and she has my favorite hair (red) and eye (green) combination! So then I settled down to wait. While I waited Connie kept us updated though her Facebook. It was fascinating to see all the decisions and steps in making a new doll. It really gave me a whole new appreciation for how long and difficult the process is! I also found out about Kickstarter for the first time and supported them through that too. The wait to get Grace has not been boring!

Finally in November they were ready to ship. Now thanks to FedEx not being exactly reliable getting Grace once she was shipped took forever! FedEx held her in their warehouse here in the city that I live in for an entire week. So frustrating!! But finally she made it to her new home and today, in a post that is a LONG time coming, I'm going to share her with you!

The dolls are officially called Extra Special Dolls and I think it's so sweet that they put their sticker on the outside of the box! I love the logo.

I was honestly kind of nervous to open up the box. I had Grace built up so much in my mind that I was pretty afraid I would be disappointed. I wasn't!
First Peek!
  It was love at first site. Grace is everything I'd hoped for!
Those ribbons got recycled!

She was tied into her box with white ribbons at her neck and ankles.

And her gorgeous hair was protected with a hairnet.
Already loving that sweet little face.
Here she is freshly out of the box:

Finally I got to take the hair net off and.....
Her hair is gorgeous. It's a beautiful carrot red and it's soft and silky and very bouncy AND VERY CURLY! But it was a bit wild straight out of the hairnet! Her bangs were especially crazy!

Before I went any further I decided that I had to do something about that. So committed a cardinal sin against doll kind. I brushed out her curls....
I know, trust me I know, but in this case it was necessary! I then very carefully with water and my fingers separated and curled her hair until I got this:
To me her hair wasn't very manageable before but now I'm not afraid to play with it and those kind of curls are easy to maintain. I do want to say that her wig is very high quality! Even with all the brushing I did her hair remains soft and silky to the touch and there is no frizz.

Her wig cap isn't covered by short hairs but it doesn't really need to be.
Yes when her hair is in pigtails you can see it but otherwise her hair is thick and it's not visible!

I did put her hair in pigtails so I could get some good shots of her with her hair out of the way.
Her 'meet' outfit
Isn't that adorable?!

One thing that I really like about these dolls is that they are meant to be companions and therapy tools. So she comes with a very cute little outfit that has no velcro! To help kids learn everything buttons, ties, zips or buckles including her pink, fleece sweater.
It has three working buttons down the front.

Her sleeveless dress is made of cotton with a cute flower print. It is also decorated with a large fabric flower.

The fabric flower snaps on and off!

The dress is closed with a full sized zipper in the back.

It works beautifully!

Around her waist is a pink, fake leather belt that has a working buckle.

She also comes with a pair of very well made, little white ankle socks.

And a pair of pink canvas tennis-shoes!
They have a soft foam sole and longer laces which is helpful even for me when I'm trying to tie shoes this small!

Under all of that she has a pair of dark pink undies with white lace around the leg holes and waist.
They are super cute and kind of baggy in the butt! All of her clothing is very well made. Every seam is finished and there are no loose threads. I'm very impressed with the quality!

Grace has five points of articulation.
They are at her shoulders, hips and neck. Her head is poseable like Kohanna and Matilda which is a very nice feature. Her neck joint is a bit stiff though so her head tends to want to snap back to it's original position. It will stay put for a little while before it does that so it's not too bad.

She has a cute little tushy too!
She easily stands by herself while wearing shoes. Without shoes she can stand on her own but her feet are not totally flat so it takes some fiddling. 

She also has the most adorable belly button on a doll I've ever seen!
Did you see the cute? Go look again! AWWWWWWW!

Because most children with Downs are taught sign language Grace's left hand is molded in the sign for "I love you."
This also highlights my favorite feature of Grace's hands! See that adorably bent pinky?
One of my girls had that! It kills me with the cute! Her hands are so detailed. She even has a single palmar crease which you can kind of see in the above photo. This hand can make shirts a bit more difficult to get on but you just have to ease the shirt over fingers and then her thumb!

Please ignore my crazy dry hands!
Her nails and the creases on her fingers are beautifully done. She even has little dimples at each of her knuckles!

Her feet are just as detailed and well done. She has what's called sandal gap. A sandal gap is one of the soft markers for Downs and for my doll's purposes just means she has a space between her first and second toes.
This also means that she should really be able to wear doll sized flip flops. I'm kind of excited about that!

The Extra Special Dolls logo is imprinted on the bottom of her right foot.
I'm sorry my camera wanted to focus on everything but the bottom of her foot that day so it's a bit blurry but in the middle of the logo is says ESD for Extra Special Dolls.

I still can't believe how detailed she is. It's not the big things that mark Grace as having Downs. It's all these little details. Like her lower set ears:
Note those rosy red cheeks!
I think that's where previous companies have gone wrong and where I think AG would have gone wrong. Previous dolls with Downs focus on a lot of obvious things like a protruding tongue and it ends up making the doll a caricature instead of a companion that a child can connect with! I've heard it said that these dolls too idealized. Do you know any real live girls that look like AG dolls? Dolls are supposed to be idealized.

Moving on! Her happy smile is wide with six teeth showing.
I think her lips are almost too dark but still the painting is so nice. I can't find one thing wrong with it!

Grace has lovely dark green eyes with applied top and bottom lashes. Her eyes are so dark it's hard for me to get a clear picture of them but I think they are very realistic. I can't really even see her iris pattern!
She also has beautifully hand painted light red eyebrows. I know it looks like my doll has a paint defect on her eyebrow but it's just a glare from the light. 

Of course I wanted to compare her to my other large dolls.
Ivy, Grace, Kohanna and Matilda
Her body type is most similar to Kohanna's. In fact their chests and hips are nearly identical in width. Grace however has smaller shoulders and a cute little pot belly! She is far more slender than Ivy, but in fact Ivy is the one she can share clothes with:
Ivy's pants are a bit too big but her top and boots fit perfectly! Grace's dress is tighter on Ivy but it still fits nice. Kohanna's clothing doesn't even come close to fitting and neither does Matilda's! Matilda is such a teeny little thing and Grace is very sturdy!

Shoes can be a bit of a problem for Grace. Her feet are similar in size to AG feet but they are a tiny bit longer. Hard shoes are a no go but shoes made of flexible material fit well!

Before Grace arrived I decided that I wanted to buy her one outfit from each of my favorite off brands of doll clothes and try them on her for this review! She is a new doll from a new company and I thought it would be useful to see how different brands fit.
She got a dress from Our Generation, a pants outfit from My Life As and a tunic and leggings outfit from the Springfield Collection.

The OG dress is a bit loose around the waist but it fits well at her shoulders.
With a bit of work the shoes also fit. I didn't get a picture of this but the fur jacket was too bulky around the underarms and so it made her arms stick out!

The My Life As pants were loose around the waist like Ivy's pants.
But the top fits perfectly!
She looks good in pink!

I think of all three brands the Springfield Collection fits Grace the best. In fact I went back out and got her a few more things from them!
The tunic and leggings fit great. No sagging around her rear end!

Springfield Collection jeans fit like a dream around her waist!
And while this top was just a bit loose around her shoulders I still think it looks nice. The shoes also fit easily. Like I said earlier as long as the fabric is flexible the shoes will fit pretty well.

I also tie-dyed her a Springfield Collection dress to match a headband I got as a Kickstarter reward!
It too is just a bit loose in the shoulders but it fits perfectly everywhere else!

We had a bit of sun last week so Grace and I decided to head outside and take a few extra pictures for this review. Honestly I had a hard time stopping. She's a very photogenic little lady!

Grace watching the sunset

Grace in the yard

Sitting on the fence

Too warm for a jacket

Oh Grace loves this tree!

Quick outfit change and then back to the tree!

Glamor shot in the sun

I really adore this doll. She's so lovely and I am highly impressed by her quality. She easily stands up with the bigger name companies' dolls. I can't stop playing with her bouncy curls and taking pictures of her sweet little face!

 If you would like to purchase an extra special doll you can do so here. They currently have 18 girls and 9 boys but they are selling out fast! My favorite boy is Ian and I'm so tempted to get him but instead I'm going to be buying a doll (one with straight hair) to donate to someone else! They are currently $95 so very reasonable and I personally really enjoy supporting a mom's start-up company! Buying Grace has been a wonderful experience and I'm so glad I got her. She's a great addition to my collection.

Thank you all for being so patient. I know I've been hinting about Grace forever but I think she's totally worth the wait! I got some cute outfits for my dolls as gifts this year so I will be reviewing those soon. I hope you enjoyed this look at a brand new doll from a brand new company and I'll see you soon!


  1. I love this doll!!! I know a little girl who will love her too !!!!!!

    1. Isn't she adorable? I highly recommend her!

  2. She is the best doll I've seen depicting a child with Down Syndrome. My only reservation is the hair. Those curls would be challenging for me, an adult, for most children and without any doubt for those who are not adept at hair care. I wish an easier care wig had been selected for her so she could be a play doll without snarled, matted hair.

    1. I agree to some extent, luckily there are a lot of options for straight hair on the website! They made one called Amanda that I almost switched to, she has straight red hair and freckles! I do have to say that Grace had one of the best curly wigs I've ever seen. I've brushed out her curls several times and her hair hasn't matted at all! Her ends aren't even a little frizzy which I find amazing. I think she'll hold up pretty well but you're right in that curly hair can be very hard for kids and some adults.

  3. She is just amazing!! I cannot believe that she's only $95 with all of the subtle details that are included. I am just astounded by her. What a gorgeous and sweet doll she is.

    1. I know! Isn't that such a good deal? I'm really tempted by a couple more of them (Ian and Amanda) but I'm trying to behave!

  4. Hi, I just found this blog! I am AnonymousA! I love her, and now I want her! Her hair is gorgeous, I love red haired dolls!
    - AnonymousA

    1. Glad you found us! Isn't she so sweet? Red hair is my favorite too :)

  5. The more I look, the more I like her. At first I was a bit meh about her - her face looked a bit mean to me. (It's probably because her teeth - I'm not really fan of dolls, that show teeth in smile and she's show more teeths that for example AG dolls) But after I came back her, I can't see it now - her face is sweet and cute.
    I'm not really fan of her hair - while I really like red hair, her locks makes her head too big for my taste. My personal favorites are Midori and Jane from girls and Ian from boys - they are just too cute.

    1. Isn't Ian adorable!? I love those freckles and I'm really glad you went and looked around! Jane and Midori are super sweet! Grace does have a very unique face which is part of the reason I got her. I don't think there is anything like these dolls out there and that is very exciting to me; plus getting the chance to support a mom's start up company! She does have a ton of hair LOL!

    2. Yes, Ian is superadorable. If you ever plan to get another ES doll, get Ian - I would love to see more photos of him.
      I wonder if there are more than one head mold from them. I try to look on their site, but it was too hard to tell. (They definitely need better photos of dolls)
      Yes, I don't think either, that there is anything like these dolls and this came for person who isn't really fan of this kind of dolls. (I prefer smaller /Barbie sized/ and more articulated dolls than AG or ESD) They are really thought out and full of little details.

    3. Oh if I get another one it will for sure be Ian! I want to say there is only one face mold, but there could be more. I'm not sure if the boys got their own and I remember around the time of the kickstarter she was trying to get enough for an Asian mold too but I can't remember if that happened and I can't tell from the pictures. I believe she is working on getting better pictures so maybe we'll be able to tell then!
      I don't even think I covered half of what impressed me in this post! Her mouth has such depth in person and the vinyl is very high quality! There are just so many little details that I love. Connie did an amazing job!

  6. I have both Grace and Ian. He is a "love". Was glad to see what you did with her hair. It was really hard just picking two.

    1. Ian is such a doll! I'd love to have him, but I'm trying very hard to only spend money on my next project! Thank you! Grace's hair isn't too hard, I just experimented till I found something I liked!

  7. Super review and beautiful photos. I do like Grace in the purple outfit and with her hair in the ringlets you created.

    1. Thank you! Grace is such a sweetheart!