PAT 30581401

Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM

 

We've got Hasbro's Jane, Dragon's Winona, the JAKKS Pacific girl, Blue Box Intl's CY girl, and soon, 21C's Matilda. It's been convenient to name figure types by company name or by the character name, but what do you do when several companies use the same body? That's the case for Source Tribute's "Selena" and Twilight Magic Work's "Kelly" dolls. Technically, they're both patent #30581401, and they're virtually identical except for a few cosmetic differences. So I'll refer to 'em as "Pat"-type dolls since it's a lot shorter.

My guess is that these Pat dolls were designed and manufactured by a huge, faceless three-ideogram company deep in Mainland China's plastic belt. Small distribution companies made up of little people like you and me (but with deeper pockets, or who are willing to take on the debt) probably pick from a catalog and tell 'em what they want done special. That's the only explanation I can venture for why Selena's got polite breasts and busty Kelly's got nipples. Kelly's got a belly button too. And some nether-region detailing that polite figures don't have. Other than that and a few other minor things, the overall construction features are identical.

What's kind of startling about the construction is that it's not a direct rip-off of anything that's been recently produced by the big companies. In fact, the basic design is vintage-- taken from the original Hasbro GI Joe, but adapted to the female form and produced in the types of plastic which are currently popular. The only major construction difference is the head-- the neck is molded onto the upper torso instead of being a separate neckpin, and the head is speared onto a small pin, like a Barbie's head. Also, the torso is not blow molded, but made of two halves, secured by four screws.

This type of body has its advantages and disadvantages, which you're probably familiar with: The figure can't be posed sitting down well because the leg's ball & sockets won't let the legs move far enough. Of course, the leg/hip seam looks much better than the more common pressure-tensioned joint found in most modern dolls. (Mattel has improved this elastic-tensioned design by independently cross tensioning the legs, instead of using the same elastic to tension the hip section to the torso.) Elastic cross-tensioning the arms (versus pressure tensioning the arms between the torso halves) means that they're less likely to go "floppy" as a result of wear. It's just a personal prejudice, but I don't think the molded neck is an improvement. Although it does allow a more realistic taper from shoulder to neck, I think a lot of the doll's expressiveness is sacrificed when you can't cock the whole neck at its base. The "modularity" of parts in the vintage-style figure still seems like a good idea, although it's mostly been used for Cotswold style part-swap repairs and simulating amputations. Someday, someone will produce the "Popeye" forearm... but why?

In practice, the Pat doll has some shortcomings which aren't related to its near-vintage design: Generally, the hinge joints are looser than they should be and can't be easily tightened. That's because they've "improved" the specs by using flexible PVC and plastic hinge pins. It's difficult to metal rivet tension that stuff-- I've tried, and the friction just doesn't seem to increase much. They also use it in the limbs, which seems to make the doll heavier and therefore more difficult to pose standing. Sigh... That's really a shame because this is a well-proportioned female figure. She's just a tad long in the legs, but has a fairly realistic svelte body shape (not outrageously voluptuous like the CY Gals) without the humongous articulation seams and gaps of most modern figures. One weird thing is the way that the shin/knee hinge is aligned-- it's off-center, and appears to be a peculiar case of sloppiness in the production of the mold master. Besides this, the kneecap placement on the shin section was a poor decision-- While it mimics the design of vintage Joe, the kneecap is more appropriately placed on the thigh section, where the hinge guts aren't as exposed when the hinge is bent and the underside seam is better concealed by the shadow. (See? I have thought about the subtleties of figure design...)

As for the particular characters and their outfits-- Kelly & Selena --I confess that I didn't buy either for those attributes: I was more interested in the construction. However, these seem to be moderate grade quality. Selena's face looks very doll-ish and Kelly's sorta Sharon Stone features seem flat and chiselled. They both have really big and out-of-control rooted hair. The outfits and accessories are of a similar grade, with Kelly's outfits exhibiting a higher quality of production. Kelly also comes with a spare set of hands, more accessories (spurs, revolver, hat), a second dress and sash. (Even though I'm from Texas I'm not really big on cowboy chic, so don't expect this to spawn interest in that genre.)

Despite some shortcomings, this is really quite a good figure design, and I'd have expected something like this from Hasbro as a natural evolution from the vintage Joe. I've never seen Hasbro's high-dollar vintage nurse in person (which is a good thing, given that I'm adept at destroying collectability), so it's possible that I'm giving the manufacturer more credit than is deserved?

 

--Jimbob, 12/17/00

Why do you need nipples if you dress like this?

 

(BTW, I changed all references of "Dusty" to "Kelly" after I accidently read the box. Dusty...Kelly... Heck what's the difference? They both sound like exotic dancers' names to me!)