This holiday season, I will be doing a series of giveaways—all of brands I believe in—brands that seek to empower or support girls in some way.
First up is “Lottie,” which I am happy to introduce to you today. Lottie is a recent arrival in the girls’ fashion doll scene, produced by an indie company in the UK to give girls a healthy doll to play with. I really like what they’re doing.
The dolls’ bodies are modeled after the typical proportions of a 9-year-old girl, and though they’re fashionable, they are not sexualized. The Lottie line launched in 2012 and has since won 12 awards in the USA and UK. Press and blog coverage has been generally positive, though some reviewers of Lottie’s debut offerings wished the line had gone further in defying stereotypes.
Well, good news: The newest dolls introduced a lot of variety to the brand. As co-founder Lucie Follett explained to me, “When we launched Lottie, we wanted to get our product on the shelf, and buyers are reluctant to stock anything without TV advertising, especially from a new brand with no track record or sales.
“Therefore, this stance informs the development process,” Follet continued. “We knew from the get-go that it was necessarily going to have to be an evolutionary process. For various reasons, we could not immediately jump in with the more adventurous doll themes we envisaged for Lottie: As a new, untested independent brand without TV advertising, retailers were unlikely to want to take on anything too radical or extreme.
“Because of this, our doll themes in year one were more conservative than we would have liked. We have since pushed on from our work on body image in year one to create doll themes that we know are much needed and go beyond the conventional stereotypes.”
Now, in addition to the debut collection which featured dolls such as pink-themed “Spring Celebration Ballet Lottie,” “English Country Garden Lottie,” and “Pony Flag Race Lottie,” Lottie now includes a wider color palette and more varied themes. For example, “Robot Girl Lottie” builds robots; “Kawaii Karate Lottie” is inspired by Sensei Debi Steven of London; and “Pirate Queen Lottie” is inspired by the real-life Irish Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley who lived in 16th-century Ireland. (As Follett told me, “Lottie will never be a Princess—but a Queen, yes indeed! They wield power.”)
Last night, I convened my “kid test team”—my son T, age 5, and his friend E, age 4—to check them out. (T is usually all about trucks and cars, but when his girl friends come over, he will play dolls with enthusiasm.) E’s mom, Jess, who is a science teacher, also explored the toys with us.
We opened the box together, and E exclaimed, “Oh, they are cool!” T cooed when he saw the Pirate Queen: “Aw, she’s cuuuuute!” As Jess helped me open all the packages, she commented, “I love that they’re not princesses or divas, and the bodies are very proportional.” But, noting that she is a tree-loving hippie, Jess added: “If they’re advertising that the boxes have minimal plastic, I wish they could have gone further—why are the Autumn girl’s hat and scarf in the box in separate plastic bags, when she could just be wearing them?”
E adored Autumn Leaves Lottie and was eager to explore her outfit and play with her dog, Biscuit. Meanwhile, T enthused over both Pirate Queen Lottie and Busy Lizzie, the robot.
The kids experimented with everything. E liked the dolls’ clothing and, when I asked if they were easy or tricky to dress and undress, she said that they were pretty easy—“only a little tricky,” which mom Jess appreciated: She said that E can’t dress her Calico Critters on her own.
The clothing seemed to be of good quality; Jess and I liked that Autumn Leaves Lottie’s jacket was soft and felt-like.
We also liked that the dolls were able to hold the pirate cutlass or the leash for Biscuit the Beagle, as so often fashion dolls aren’t able to hold objects.
The dolls’ hair was also lovely—soft and nice to play with. But T remarked, “I wish all of the girls came with a brush for their hair in case it got messed up.” He had me use my fingernails to smooth down Pirate Queen Lottie’s hair several times during play.
We opened Busy Lizzie last, and T and E were fascinated with the idea of building a robot. They enjoyed switching out the robot’s arms and top pieces; T decided that when the robot wore blue hair on top, it was a girl, but that when it wore its little dome with antenna on top, it was a boy.
Lizzie came with a frying pan and spatula (the toy’s back story is that Lottie was building a robot for her science fair and thought it would be great if the robot could help her do chores), and T declared that the yellow arms were for cooking. Although the dolls were easy to dress and undress, it was a little tricky for the kids to force the frying pan and spatula into Lizzie’s hands, and the spatula broke right away. There was also some confusion about the extra set of shoes; we thought they were meant for the robot, but the robot’s shoes don’t come off. They do fit on Lottie, though—and T had fun putting a spare shoe into Lizzie’s central compartment that opens.
When T woke up this morning, he asked if we could play with “the girls” again.
I’m frankly impressed that he has been wanting to play with them today, too. He has never played with dolls independently before—only when girl friends are around. So this is a real first for us. It reminds me of what happens when TV shows featuring girls are done really well: boys defy expectations by enjoying them, too.
When I asked T why he liked them so much, he said, “They have fun things!” Then, he picked up Pirate Queen Lottie and had her say to the other Lotties: “Who wants to find a treasure chest???” The accessory packs are a real hit, adding value to the kids’ imaginative play.
SUMMARY: Lottie is a doll worth recommending—a brand I can believe in. Key points:
- The body type was created with care. The relationship between dolls and girls’ body image was central to their construction, and I can see this clearly reflected in the product.
- I liked the themes we were given to review. They were a refreshing change from the fashion-and-shopping orientation of most fashion dolls, and they really engaged the kids’ imaginations.
GIVEAWAY: Would you like a Lottie doll, too? Enter below to win by 11:59 p.m. EST, Friday, November 29! Two winners will be selected; one will receive Pirate Queen Lottie with her accessory pack, and the other will receive Robot Girl Lottie with her accessory, the Busy Lizzie robot. This raffle is open to residents of the continental U.S.A., and the prizes will be sent to the winners by Arklu.
Note: I will post a giveaway from another brand I believe in on Saturday, November 30. Be sure to check back!
DISCLOSURE: Although Arklu sent me three Lottie dolls to review, all opinions expressed here are my own and have not been previewed by the Arklu company.