Image: Autumn Leaves Lottie and Biscuit the Beagle Dog Accessories in our garden.
I turn down almost all offers to review products on this blog because I generally hate that stuff but when British toy company, Arklu approached me with a fashion doll that they hoped would appeal more to feminist mothers, like me, I decided to give it a shot.
Lottie is a quintessentially British creation – so much so that the range includes English Country Garden Lottie and Picnic Set Accessories – and it is set to compete against Barbie and Bratz. I’m not a fan of either of those dolls so I’m interested in toy companies that recognise the problematic aspects of both Barbie and Bratz.
So, after the introduction, having now had the doll for two weeks, what are mine and my seven year old daughter, Lauca’s thoughts?
Some initial observations – Lottie is no radical feminist creation. There isn’t huge diversity here – while Festival Lottie is black everyone else in the range is white and all dolls have distinctly Anglo features, like little button noses and straight hair. And on the topic of diversity, in all her versions she looks consistently middle to upper-middle class (eg. Pony Flag Race Lottie), and her accessories do not include wearing glasses or using a wheelchair or anything revolutionary like that. She’s also skinny and though her body has been designed to be more ‘childlike’, she still has that fashion doll’s over-sized head thing going on. The makers are not exactly breaking out of stereotypical girly images either with Lottie (eg. Ballet Lottie), but then there is a good argument to be made here that fashion dolls appeal to children who want to play with girly looking dolls and I would agree with that.
Here are some things I really liked about Lottie. The Autumn Leaves Lottie, which was sent to Lauca for review, isn’t dressed in pink. By happy accident Lauca’s favourite colours are currently purple and green so this doll was a hit and we both thought it was refreshing to see a fashion doll not carried away with pink. All the Lottie dolls also wear flat shoes – in fact, the Autumn Lottie is in boots, which I love – and because there are no high heels they can stand up unassisted during play. Fashion is individual but I find their clothing seriously cute and not unlike clothing I would buy for Lauca – hello stripey tights. The Lottie we received is also dressed in an outfit that suggests a life of play rather than performance for this character, which we both appreciated. And the range also includes a Snow Queen Lottie, something that charms me because I like the idea of queens better than princesses given that queens tend to have actual power and are not celebrated exclusively for their looks. Arklu have also intentionally set out to avoid making their dolls overly sexualised or consumerist as young girl characters, and I think they’ve succeeded at this. Lottie doesn’t wear make-up, for instance, and none of her packaging is about ‘going shopping’. The packaging is also attractive and sturdy enough that the box may be re-used for carrying the doll about. Finally, Lauca really likes her Lottie doll and though at seven years old she is towards the upper end of their target market – 3-8 year olds – she has so far stayed interested in the toy which is obviously an important part of the review and she was very keen for it and Biscuit the Beagle Dog to receive a positive review from us.
In accordance with standard disclosure guideline, please note that a free product was supplied to me for review and that I was not paid for this review and nor did the company see my comments prior to posting it here. For more information about Lottie check out their website.