Merry Christmas to Me!

When my husband and I were first married I collected teddy bears. I still sort of do, just not with the same enthusiasm as I used to. One of my favorite companies was North American Bear, but in comparison to other companies at the time, they were quite a bit more expensive. One of their lines, Muffy Vanderbear, was considerably more expensive, but was also one of the first to feature bears dressed in adorable outfits. I thought they were the cutest things on the planet, and then they came out with one that completely snagged my heart–Muffy Snowbear. Unfortunately she was more money than I could justify at the time, we were just getting established, dealing with home ownership and all that went with it, and I knew if I spent that much money on a bear, I would be in trouble.

Several years later when our financial situation was better, I started collecting bears seriously and I purchased the annual Christmas bear each year for several years. Muffy Snowbear was that elusive bear that I couldn’t get my hands on though, finding her was difficult at best. Keep in mind, this was before the internet was so prominent and Ebay didn’t exist. Little did I know that my husband had also been doing some searching, and for our anniversary that year he surprised me with one! I was so pleased until he told me how much he ended up paying for her, eek. To make matters worse, Muffy in general has decreased so much in popularity, there is no way I could ever get even a fraction of that investment back now. Oh well, I still love her and the fact that my husband jumped through so many hoops to get her for me was the sweetest thing ever.

2013 the AG GOTY was Saige. I thought she was so cute, and it didn’t help that my husband and I had been to Albuquerque in the autumn of 2012 to go to the hot air balloon festival. And she had a border collie.  The problem was that my husband had just changed jobs and until I was certain our finances were secure, I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on a doll. Ugh, not again. Flashback to Muffy Snowbear.  So I passed on Saige. And then I spent a good part of 2014 kicking myself for not getting her, it was that nagging thing stuck in my brain.

Several weeks ago I decided to start seriously looking for Saige on Ebay. Holy cow, I couldn’t believe how much she was going for!!! After doing some research, I decided that instead of getting a new/never removed from box doll, I would look for a used one. I knew enough about treating hair that I wasn’t scared of getting one that needed some work. After poking around for a while, I finally came across one that was interesting, so I kept an eye on the auction. And I won! The seller had good feedback, she looked like she needed some work but was in good condition otherwise, and she even had the ring she originally came with.

She arrived this past Wednesday. I got her out of the box and she was exactly as described. The only thing she is missing is her undies, that cracked me up because none of the used dolls I’ve purchased have had them, I guess that is my destiny. The doll was in fantastic condition, she really doesn’t look like she was played with very much. The hair though-yowsa! Every bit as bad as it looked in the photos, I’m not sure if she belonged to a too young child, or if her hair was combed with the wrong kind of brush, but it was one tangled mess. Put it this way–when I first started working on her, I thought she had a bald spot or two, but the truth was it was hair that was pulled to the wrong side of the wig and stuck that way due to tangles. I had my work cut out for me.

Here are pictures of her straight out of the box:
Saige 1Saige 2

First thing I did was cut the pony tail holder from her hair. I didn’t even want to try and remove it the regular way for fear of making things worse. I got comb and brush out and had my bottle of water ready. When I started I could barely get a comb through the top layer without running in to a major tangle. At this point I was thinking maybe I would be further ahead to stick her back in the box and ship her off to the doll hospital. When I was looking for a used doll, this was a factor in what I wanted to pay just in case. Even if I had to do this, I would still be further ahead than if I had bought a NRFB. But I wasn’t giving up!

I decided the best way to deal with this was to section the hair off about a half inch at a time and just start working on it until I could get a comb through the entire length without difficulty.  I started at the bottom of each section and worked my way to the top.  This actually worked quite well, and about 20-30 minutes later, I was about halfway around her head.

Saige 3
See how much better the right side looks!!!

Saige 4
I kept combing, working my way around her head. At that point I had to quit because we had plans to go out to dinner, so I set her aside until we got back.  Here is what it looked like when I stopped:

Saige 5

After we got home I started working on her some more. This time I added braid spray to the mix. I also decided that as I worked on a section I would finger curl it because not only did I want to see what it looked like, it also made it easier for me to see what I had done and what I hadn’t.
Saige 6
At this point it was bed time, so I spritzed her hair all over one more time with braid spray, combed it through and set her aside. I figured it was good to let it soak in a bit overnight.

The next day I still wasn’t 100% satisfied with how it had turned out. Yes, it was a HUGE improvement, but I decided to take it one step further. I decided to try doing a hot water dunk. No Downy, I just wanted to use hot water to take some of the frizz out. I boiled water in the tea kettle, poured it in the bowl, let it cool for a few minutes, then stuck the hair in, left it in for about 2 minutes. I took it out at this point, blotted some of the water off, divided the hair in two sections and then dunked again, each half at a time. In each of these dunks, I only left the hair in for about two minutes since I didn’t want to remove too much of the curl. I have to say that this worked very well, it took quite a bit of the remaining frizz out of it without making her hair poker straight. I carefully combed it out, then let it air dry, combing it every so often in the drying process. Once it was dry, I decided to trim the ends as they were still bad. Then I spritzed it with braid spray, combed it through well and then pulled it back in to a ponytail.

Saige was so happy with how it turned out, she wanted to cheer!!!!
Saige 7 Saige 8

Here are pictures I took the following morning with her hair down so you can really see how much better it looks. I need to trim a little more of the bottom to even it up, but overall, I’m really pleased with how her hair came out.
Saige 9Saige 10

Here is a before and after:

Saige 2 Saige 8

Quite the difference, huh?  I just want to thank Nethilia over at American Girl Outsider for her discovery of how well braid spray works on AG wigs.  I don’t know that I would have even attempted it if it hadn’t been for her sharing this tip as well as her photos of before and after on several dolls.  I saved quite a bit of money by purchasing a used doll and other than the energy used to boil some water and some sweat equity, it didn’t cost me much to refurbish her hair.  Well worth it!  I’m all for rescuing anything from a landfill, and I know of instances where people would have thrown a doll in this condition in the trash.  😦  She doesn’t look like brand new out of the box, but that’s okay, I’m not a “leave the doll in the box and ooooh and aaaaah over her” type of person.  I “play” with my dolls!

The cheerleading outfit I just got from AG during their CyberMonday week specials.  I thought it was cute, but what really sold me on it were the tennis shoes.  My husband even thinks they are cool.  They are even cuter in person!

Saige 11

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12 thoughts on “Merry Christmas to Me!

  1. Super job, Flo! All of my AGs are used. The one that was in the worse shape was one I got for free. My niece (who’s grown) has a co-worker that was a kid when Pleasant Company first launched the AGOT line, and gave me her childhood friend. She’s AGOT #20 (Melody) w/ blonde hair and grey eyes. She’d been stored in a attic all this time w/ her hair in a braid, and a mean case of silver eye. Her eye’s been fixed and I’ve fixed her hair (even though it was cut), w/ fabric softener, hot water and braid spray. She’s pretty close to her former glory. I went to Seattle to visit my niece and brought Melody w/ me. She got to visit her former doll mommy, who was happy Melody had found such a good home.

    • She’s my third used doll and I really have to say that I’ve been very pleased with all of them. This experience with hair gives me even more confidence in buying another used doll as well, I know I can do it! I still may give her a Downy dunk later on, she still has a few frizzies, but nothing I can’t live with. You can get such great deals by buying a used doll, and I enjoy the challenge. Did you take before and after pics of Melody? If so, shoot them to me in an e-mail, I’d love to share them here on the blog.

      I haven’t encountered any dolls with silver eye yet, but I’m sure somewhere along the way I probably will. At least with AG, they back them up, so not a huge concern. Something I’m itching to try is an eye swap to make a unique doll but I’m not quite there yet. My biggest issue is I’m not sure that I will be able to get the eyes back in, I have terrible arthritis in my hands and I understand that putting them back in can be a bit of a chore.

  2. Funny you mention Muffy… I had a Boyd’s Bears phase in the early 90s. Their crazy CEO used to come on Home Shopping channel a couple of times a year.
    Thanks for the details on Saige’s hair. The wig spray was a help, but I look forward to another crack at her dry hair soon. I’m going to get some braid spray.

    • Oh gosh, I remember when crazy Gary used to show up on QVC too, he was nuts. He always embarrassed the heck out of Mary Beth! I have quite a few Boyd’s too, the perils of living in the same state as their flagship store that used to be in Gettysburg. It has since closed. Did you know that they have quit making bears indefinitely? I just found that out a few weeks ago.

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