Na!Na!Na! Pom Surprise (do I call them Pom dolls or Na!Na!Na! dolls?) Have been out since about 12/2019, but their boxes are completely opaque so I while I remember seeing them when I wandered through the doll aisles, I had no idea what they were until a friend of mine sent me pics of hers.
And I wanted to squeeze one.
So here we are!
*Ahem* Na!Na!Na! Pom Surprise dolls are another new line by MGA of Bratz fame and more recently LOL Surprise. MGA is not afraid of innovation, and is pretty on point for spotting trends.
Pom dolls combine a few recent trends. They're generally referred to as plush fashion dolls but that isn't exactly true, they're more of a hybrid with a cloth cover over a hollow vinyl head and either firm foam or vinyl over foam body, which gives them the plush look with a little bit more articulation/uniformity of a vinyl doll. They remind me a bit in this regard of Santoro London's Gorjuss doll line of articulated vinyl with a plush aesthetic.
The 'Surprise' part comes from the blind box trend. It isn't a fully blind box: there are little stickers with a symbol on the box so if you look up the doll key on their website, or have one from another doll in the series, you can tell which doll you're getting. This seems like a good way to make sure your kid gets the surprise they want without tipping them off that it isn't just luck. They also have a cute balloon and confetti popping gimmick to open them, enhancing the surprise part. Presentation is important!
Finally the body is more chibi than fashion doll: big head, short, pear shaped, thick limbs. This has been a trend for some time in dolls, fusing the exaggerated pear shape starting in artist BJDs with anime chibi aesthetic seen in action-figurey type dolls like nendoroid. This hit mainstream fashion dolls with Pure Neemo and Obitsu in Japan years ago.
/end educational blurb
Now one of the things that kept me from getting another LOL Surprise fashion doll was the bad quality control. Eye wonk is nearly universal. I expect some eye wonk, but I'd totally be the person comparing 3 different dolls in the store to see which one was wonk I could live with. Surprise dolls means surprise wonk. And, eh... we got some issues.
Aspen Fluff was the worst of the two. The vinyl(?) shell of her head under her cloth skin came out of the box with dents. Her hat was also sewn on in a way that the back of her hat/hair wefts were turned up and couldn't be flattened against her head for a natural hair fall.
I fixed her dents by heating up her head with a hair dryer on high heat and a bit of patience. This is a well known trick for restoring misformed vinyl to its original shape, I've been using it since my MLP days!
The hat twist/wig thing was more of an issue. I fixed it sort of by seam ripping it free from where it was sewn to her head, but even then it wasn't great. She had some cut plugs on the front of her head that make her already thin hair even thinner. I think most of the dolls have curly hair to disguise the thinness as their 'wig' is only a single line of weft.
Not sure if I'll make her a full scalp or just give her hat better wefts from some of the hair I have lying around (<-another one of those things you really can't say to non-doll collectors without them thinking you might be a serial killer), but it lies a bit flatter on her head now that it's no longer sewn on.
Misha Mouse just had a really asymmetric hairline. Her hair half covers one eye and barely covers the other ear. I turned up the hat brim and saw... more cut plugs. I think in this case she was originally sewn with too much on the other side and whoever cut it back probably should have only cut like 2 plugs vs 6.
But this was a really easy fix. I took a couple of plugs from the 'too much" side, pulled them across the forehead to the 'too little' side and sewed them into the hat brim where the cut plugs were. The pulled across section forms a loopy bang bit. It actually came out super cute, now she looks like she has the hair style of her cartoon avatar:
And really, these are not huge issues. It doesn't require you to acetone and repaint bits of your dolls face like eye wonk does, the fixes I did were all pretty easy and could be done by anyone. It's still wonk, and made my immediate reaction be "CU-WTF?" instead of a straight "CUUUUTE" but obviously I am a doll collector.
Now that I've covered quality, let's get onto the fashion part of fashion doll:
These dolls are 5-point articulated just like the original Barbie for dressing/posing purposes. That's where the comparison ends. The limbs can turn, which means the arms go up but not out, and the legs go um, sideways, but they can't sit. The articulation is so bad I kind of wonder why it's there at all. The soft limbs bend great, which is what makes them easy to dress far more than articulation.
Can Pom dolls share clothes with anyone? Here's the obvious comparison:
Definitely not with MGA's other major fashion doll line, LOL Surprise! Noooooooooope.
But as I squished that cute little body in my hands it felt familiar so I tried on some of the clothes I've made for my 'Chibi' size dolls, which include KikiPops and Realfees:
Now we're getting somewhere!
There's a little bit of weirdness in the shoulders because the underarm is at the same level as the underbust (vs overbust on most other dolls) but it's more of a 'could be fixed with an alternate cut line' issue vs a size-breaking issue.
Let's see now the numbers line up:
Pretty good! It's not even the outlier, it's closer to Realfees than KikiPops are.
I will take a picture of these dolls side by side but the other two currently have their heads off for new faceups so any picture I took would be a bit...unsettling.
These are really cute! I didn't bother to mention things like the excellent clothes (always a MGA strong point) as most reviews cover that kind of stuff. It's waaaaay better than anything I've seen in a playline for years. Their underwear is printed on and themed to each doll,which I usually hate but since they have cloth skins, their cloth undies look right. It's also the smart choice because given the dolls are so small all over, non-printed socks would be super chunky, and this allows for them to look like they're wearing elaborate layered clothes without the bulk. The clothes that are sewn are well designed for the small size and have a good composition of color and texture--Aspen Fluff even has a puffy jacket with actual puffs!
These will be very easy for the customizing-curious to get their feet wet. The wigs are a strip of wefted hair sewn into the rim of the hat, all the faces are the same (so no real pressure to make a unique face) so sew up a hat with some hair trim and a little outfit and you've got a whole new character. Nothing hard like painting, dremeling, or even popping off heads!
The only think I'm kind of eh about is that all the girls do have the same face. Come on, they each get individual themed screen painted undies, but nobody gets a different makeup or expression? A smirk? A winky face? Something? Without more differentiation between them, you can't really get more than a couple without them all kind of looking the same.