When I told the girls we’d been invited to the UK launch of I’m a Girly dolls, eight-year-old Lil Sis was wide eyed with excitement, while 10-year-old Big Sis was markedly less enthused.
‘I’ll come along, but I’m a little bit old for dolls,’ she shrugged, as way of explanation.
‘That’s fine, but think you might be surprised,’ I told her. ‘These are different to anything you’ve seen before.’
‘Yeah, maybe,’ she replied, not looking convinced.
We arrived at the balloon-lined Marylebone venue on one of those chilly blue-skied days that make me fall in love even more in love with London. We’re early, but there’s already a line snaking out the door; it seems this Swiss brand is already making a big splash in the UK.
Inside, the girls are handed lavender ‘I’m a Girly’ robes to wrap over their clothes, and we’re directed upstairs (FYI: if you’re a bit ‘Huh?’ about the name, bear in mind that it has come directly from the original Swiss range and has been a little bit lost in translation – hence the phrasing may seem a bit unusual here in the UK).
Before we even reach the landing we can hear the excited buzz of voices. We walk into a Hollywood-style dressing area, complete with red carpet, velvet rope and logo-stamped step-and-repeat. In the next room, we discovered an illuminated purple catwalk, and finally came face-to-face with the I’m a Girly dolls we’d heard so much about.
They were bigger than we all expected, just shy of 20 inches tall, with quite life-like features.
What I immediately loved about them was the more realistic, child-like proportions – no impossibly tiny waists, or chopstick-thin legs on these dolls. And I was impressed to see a range of looks – yes, there was the Zoe doll, with long blond hair, but there was also Jasmine, with masses of dark-brown spiral-curls, and Kayla, with straight dark hair. Lucy had a long, straight mid-brown style, while Lola had eye-catching lavender locks.
They also had a range of different complexions, from peachy pink to olive brown – a more realistic representation of children in the real world, and a step in the right direction towards real diversification.
Big Sis went straight for a Jasmine doll, with her curly hair and gorgeous dark skin.
Lil Sis found a doll with waist-length candy-pink hair, which she immediately began to brush and style (Lil Sis is our resident hairdresser and spends ages creating her own intricate styles at home).
To one side was a wardrobe jammed full of doll outfits in a huge range of styles – from fluffy onesies, to funky leather biker jackets. There were also bags, hats, sunglasses and a shoe collection I could only dream of – from strappy sandals, to cool trainers, to studded rocker boots.
Also, slightly disturbingly, there appeared to be several scalps lying on the catwalk. ‘Mummy, why does that doll have no hair?!’ Lil Sis whispered, pointing towards one that was, indeed, completely bald.
‘Well, that’s one of the really unique things about these dolls,’ I explained. ‘They come with wigs that you can switch around if you feel like changing the colour or style. In fact, you can even cut their hair.’
‘Coooooool,’ she breathed.
I realised I couldn’t see Big Sis, and discovered her with her nose buried in the accessories wardrobe. ‘I’ve found this jacket and dress, but now I just need to find the right bag to go with it,’ she explained.
‘Hmmmm… having a bit more fun than you thought you would?’ I teased, and she smiled back. ‘Mummy, these are nothing like I thought they’d be – these dolls are AMAZING!’.
That’s the thing about the I’m A Girly range – they’ve actually been designed by a ‘Kids4Kids’ panel of 9-13 year-old boys and girls to appeal to kids too old for baby dolls, but not ready to give up imaginative play just yet.
They’re made of top quality materials, and the packaging can even be reused as wardrobe or a place to store the doll.
Big Sis had found a spare wig and was curious to see how they interchanged, so we removed the curls and replaced them with straight purple locks. It took a little bit of wriggling and wrangling (the wigs have a cord around their circumference that slots into corresponding groove around the top of the doll’s head, which is then pulled tight to ensure a secure fit), but was easier once I got the hang of it.
As well as switching wigs between the dolls (if you’re lucky enough to have more than one) you can buy additional styles from the website, including bright blue, ombre and extra-long versions you can cut at home.
Suddenly, one of the I’m A Girly team climbed up on to the catwalk. ‘We have a very special guest joining us here today,’ he said. ‘It’s Tiana from Toys and Me!’
The girls turned to me, eyes wide; Tiana was the first ‘kid celeb’ they’d followed on YouTube, and the person almost entirely to blame for the pretend vlogs my girls endlessly filmed at home.
‘Is she really here?’ Lil Sis asked.
There was a commotion by the door, and the audible sound of sharply-inhaled breaths and excited squeals. Then Tiana appeared on the catwalk with her mum and dad.
Big Sis instantly dropped the last vestiges of her ‘too-cool-for-school’ act and turned total fangirl, whipping out her iPhone and recording Tiana’s every move so intently you’d have thought she was filming a BBC documentary.
After shadowing her around the room for 20 minutes the girls came back, grinning from ear to ear.
‘Mummy, look!’ Lil Sis blurted, literally thrumming with excitement. ‘I had my photo taken with Tiana!’
‘I take it all back Mummy,’ Big Sis, ‘this is the BEST DAY EVER!’
PS: guess what Swiss doll has ended up on BOTH of the girls’ Christmas wish lists?!
I’m A Girly dolls are available exclusively from Harrods and Hamleys, and from the I’m A Girly website.
• we attended the UK launch as guests of I’m a Girly, and received a complimentary I’m a Girly doll. This post is part of a paid project with I’M A GIRLY and BritMums, promoting the I’M A GIRLY Fashion-Dolls, new high-end fashion dolls that just landed in Harrods and Hamleys. They are hip, cheeky, trendy and a bridge between childhood and teenage years. See the dolls and accessories at https://www.imagirly.com/uk/
Read about what we thought of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pantomime at the Wycombe Swan theatre