Ruby Red Fashion Friends doll – Hanna

★★★★★

Oh, my goodness, she’s cute.

Hanna is a vinyl, 14” (36 cm) doll from Ruby Red Fashion Friends, sculpted by Dianna Effner. Great as a play doll or collectible.

I’ve been a long-time collector of American Girl dolls. Pretty brand loyal. A few Our Generation outfits and accessories here and there, but when it comes to the dolls themselves, none of the other companies grabbed me. So it took me a hot minute to consider Ruby Red Fashion Friends dolls. They kept popping up on my Instagram feed, though, and what is Instagram but an endless commercial for the next thing you want?

I’d seen dolls by Dianna Effner before — mostly Little Darlings, which appear to all be one of a kind, painted by the artist herself. Even while she was alive (she passed in October 2020), these would go for hundreds of dollars. But their faces were so adorable — like a three-year-old who never screamed.

More in my price range was Maru and Friends: mass-produced vinyl dolls, also sculpted by Dianna Effner. They intrigued me, but the dolls themselves looked quite serious. Their arms may be too long? I don’t know, something keeps making me pause. I might end up with one. Like, Maru’s face is really, really pretty.

Ruby Red Fashion Friends dolls debuted in November 2019. Of course, during lockdown, I had all the time in the world to fill my virtual shopping carts with them. The American Girl blogs and Instagram accounts I was following started collecting them. Their faces looked so similar to the Little Darlings (more than Maru and Friends), so I had a look at their website (https://rubyredtoys.com). Lucky for me, I could buy one in the UK (thank you, mydollbestfriend.co.uk!), and I played the whole which-one-would-I-buy game and fell for Hanna.

I love dark-haired dolls. Ever since I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation as a kid, Deanna Troi’s black irises cemented my love for dark eyes too. Hanna’s sweet little face and cute bob kept her ahead of all the other choices. Charlotte gave me pause because of the whole British royalty thing, but she was so limited that I had no chance of actually buying that one. Likewise, the limited edition Christmas dolls (those dresses!). My first instinct on stuff like this is always right, so I stuck with Hanna.

I usually earmark all my extra money for American Girl things I find on British eBay since it gets so pricey, but I’ve gotten a lot of AG things lately thanks to my mom. Honestly, I wanted something different. I bought a record player and some vinyls, books, and puzzles because we’re still locked down here in Scotland, and I kept looking at Hanna online. By the time I finally decided to get her, I’d save up enough money. Before I changed my mind, I placed the order.

Thanks to Covid, it took a month before I got her in the mail (backordered — no complaints to mydollbestfriend.co.uk), but worth the wait.

And now everyone’s favourite thing to do online: watch someone else open their mail.

The mailing carton was nice and sturdy, and the doll box was wrapped in a plastic bag. No dings or damage anywhere.

With the slice of a few strategic stickies, the doll portion slides right out. I couldn’t figure out how to disassemble the box to cut the elastics from the back, so I snipped them (I’m an adult, so I didn’t need to call my mom), and she was free.

Something that stood out immediately was the quality of her clothes. Hanna’s outfit is denim and something soft and sheer. They lined her fishnet tights with stretchy, flesh-coloured fabric. The shoes are sturdy. Her hair is a thick wig — pretty difficult to see the tracks underneath. Very soft, quality hair.

Hanna’s details are stunning. Painted fingernails, inset eyelashes, and plenty of blush on those cheeks (AG, again, skimping on the face paint sometimes). Her eyes are glass (or plastic?) but don’t blink.

One other thing Hanna has over American Girl dolls is her arms and legs bend. The vinyl is smooth, almost like porcelain. Great range of motion for the head (can look up and down or tilt for a little more “awww”).

So, I spent £109 ($153 USD) on this girl (after checking the website again today, the price has gone up to £119). Was that price worth it? Considering I’ll pay $115 USD for an American Girl doll, Ruby Red Fashion Friends isn’t a huge leap. (Or if you live in the US and pay US prices, they’re $129 — so enjoy that.) I won’t buy the entire line, but with the frequency they’re coming out with new characters, one or two more might not be out of the question.

Because Hanna is 14” tall, like American Girls’ Wellie Wishers line, she acts like a little sister to my existing doll collection. In that way, the furniture and accessories I already have are the perfect size for her. The clothes will have to come from somewhere else. Either fork over £42 for an official Ruby Red Fashion Friends ensemble, go for a Wellie Wishers or Glitter Girls outfit or make my own. We all know I’m gonna get crafty.

Whether you’re a doll collector or you have kids who still play, I’d recommend this doll. She seems sturdy enough to endure playdates, and pretty enough to sit on your curated shelf. I wish I’d had this doll when I was growing up, but honestly, that price is way too high. Kid me never had a chance.

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