Fashion dolls were not built to have adventures – they were built to model fashions. The store shelves include some half-hearted nods to a life beyond the closet, but they largely support the most mundane day imaginable – including playsets for, I kid you not, cooking spaghetti and cleaning up dog poop.
So, when I went to create my own doll adventures, I populated it with one-of-a-kind dolls and custom made dioramas.
Imagine my surprise when Hasbro released an actual adventurous doll with an actual adventurous playset – a Moana doll and some adventurous critters on an outrigger canoe.
My favorite feature of the doll are her feet.
Look at those feet! Those aren’t little princess feet that you can cram into a glass slipper. They’re the big, sturdy feet of someone who can run and play.
Here’s the doll sitting on her canoe. Note that the doll that comes with the playset doesn’t have articulated elbows – I bought an extra doll for the articulation. But she’s otherwise just the same as the doll that comes with the canoe.
The canoe rolls forward on wheels in a kind of a rocking motion, and there’s even a little lamp that projects starlight on the wall (which I haven’t tried out yet.)
It’s hard to define the line that separates this adventure-ready doll from pretty much every other fashion doll out there. Barbie has adventure-worthy accessories, but it’s as if they’re meant to go with her outfit instead of designed to be part of an adventure. The Moana playset isn’t plucked out of a coordinated closet – it’s a snippet pulled from a larger adventurous life, from the tip of it’s fabric sail to the bottom of her big, sturdy feet.