Mason - A Boy Story Doll Review

Dear Diary,

Jesse:  On 31 December 2016, I wrote a post about Boy Story, a doll company working to breakdown stereotypes regarding which genders are allowed to play with dolls.  Since then, I decided to go one step further and show my support of their efforts by purchasing one of their boy dolls, Mason.  Rather than ordering through the company's website, I bought the doll directly from one of the retailers which sell them.  It seemed to be a good way to show the retail market that people want this kind of doll.

Mason has been at my house, in his box, for quite a while now and I finally decided it was time to take him out of the box and to have a good look.  I'll share here my opinions on what I found.

The Box


The box is a nice presentation box with a book cover style lid. Inside the front cover are suggestions on how to play with Mason:


The back of the box talks further about the possibilities of play with Mason.


The Doll

Mason is an 18" doll, made along the lines of the generic 18" doll.  The head and body are proportional (the head looks oversized in the photos but it's not), along with the extremities. 


He has a nice face and definitely does not look like a girl doll converted to a boy doll.


I wondered what moulded plastic hair would be like.  Actually, it's very nice.  Given that this doll is for children to play with, the moulded hair is a most practical idea.


He has shiny, bright eyes which are very attractive.  His smile is charming and not stupid.


The clothes are well-made and substantial. The shirt has buttons and button holes!  The only velcro is on the fly of the jeans and the back of the T-shirt.  I purchased a jacket and cap for an 18" doll off eBay and I tried them on Mason but they are too small. I think he may need custom-made clothing.


The boots are standard size for 18" dolls.


Mason has 13 moving joints which allow him to be posed in a wide variety of positions.  The extremities are plastic while the body is stuffed fabric.



Overall Impression

This is a very nice boy doll for play.  He is substantial, sturdy and attractive.  He looks like he could sustain some rugged play without falling apart.  His face is unique and he looks like a boy. The clothing is well-constructed and not cheap-looking.  He can wear off-the-internet shoes and boots.

What I didn't like

The plastic inside the box which protects the doll was cracked, broken and had brown paint (the hair colour?) on the inside.  I find this strange since the doll couldn't rub against the plastic.  This is just carelessness at the factory and a lack of quality control.

The doll is tied down with heavy metal wire.  I was certain there would be damage to the plastic but thankfully there was none.  It was difficult to unfasten the doll from the box because of the gauge of the wire and the over-tying of it. This seems to be senseless and a child would not be able to do it on his/her own.


The two children shown playing on the back of the box both look to all appearances to be girls.  When I queried the people at Boy Story, they told me one was a boy.  Androgyny notwithstanding, neither I nor anyone I showed it to, can see it's a boy.  If the company is going to aggressively market to boys, then it seems to be essential that they show boys playing with Mason.  If a boy, or his parents, took a look at the box in a retail store, there is little to demonstrate that boys might want this doll.  Let's not forget that it's not just making the doll appealing to boys; that's maybe the easiest part.  The difficult part will be convincing parents that it's ok for their son to play with a doll.

The ideas suggested as possibilities for playing with Mason are really only watered-down versions of socially-acceptable gender-specific boy play.  I felt that they missed out on giving Mason a wider appeal by broadening his characteristics.

I believe there is be a huge disconnect between the philosophy stated on the company website and what is printed on the box.

Conclusion

I give the company and the doll 2 thumbs-up.  

The doll is a winner and worth the purchase for some lucky boy. Because he looks like a boy, I feel that real boys will be able to relate to him more easily.  The moveable joints are always a plus in my opinion.  They give a whole new range of play possibilities.  This is meant to be a toy, not a cabinet doll. But, I can see adding him to a doll family as he has a winning personality and is posable.  Our son, as well as our nephews, each received a boy doll from us when they were young (one had a My Buddy doll) which they played with.  I think Mason is far superior to those boy dolls which were available 20+ years ago.  I should add here that there is a African-American boy version available and I believe the company is looking to expand its line to include a number of races.

I think that the company founders' hearts and heads are in the right place and the premise underlying their company philosophy is sound.  I applaud their support for gender equality, recognising that this applies to both boys and girls.  I didn't like what was on the box for the reasons I listed above.  The problem may be that the owners are two women who are thinking like women and perhaps they need more male consultation with the advertising on the box. 

This company deserves the support of the doll community.  All things considered in today's reactionary society, they have an uphill battle.  I have confidence that those who support the values espoused by Boy Story are actually in the majority; it is in our power to further these values.  We can do just that by purchasing one of their boy dolls to support Boy Story.  My intention with this posting is to bring Boy Story to the attention of a wider audience.  I also hope that my comments may bring changes so that more boys get a Mason of their own.  

Since I first posted about Boy Story, their website has expanded. Please go now and take a look at it:  
boy story.com.


Comments

  1. Great review! I was just looking at these dolls online the other day and thought that they looked pretty nice. I agree that the molded hair is probably a much more practical choice for a boy's play doll. Also when it comes to hair, there can be a huge disparity between promotional photos and what the actual doll's hair looks like in real life. I've noticed that with both the AG Logan and Lammily boy dolls. With molded hair you at least know that the doll you get is going to look exactly like the the photos. I do hope that they introduce a variety of clothing sets for the boys. I think it will be a key to their ultimate success.
    Steve

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  2. Great review Jesse. I have seen one of these dolls in person, the other boy, and liked what I saw, and think he would make a great doll for a boy. Like you, I couldn't understand the packaging pictures. I think the child in the top picture is a boy - the one with the longer hair - but I do think they could have approached this much better. Perhaps you are right about the reason behind the owners thinking like women, or perhaps they haven't had enough experience of boys and boy play, but also as you say, their hearts are clearly in the right place, they just have to 'think' a bit more. Not sure if that comes across correctly, but I could see the potential for much better 'shelf' appeal in reeling in the parents of boys. Having moulded hair is a very good idea - thinking back to when my boys played with their boy dolls, I think my eldest was given a Buddy doll, I am pretty sure he didn't play with him much, but preferred his other boy doll that had much shorter and tighter hair.

    I like the way they are jointed and can hold different poses, that adds to play value immensely in my opinion.

    As for packaging, why do companies make it virtually impossible to get into the box, or get the doll out? Simple ribbons would suffice and some companies have taken on this philosophy. The Makies company (sadly gone now) tied their dolls with ribbon, and it was so easy to debox them and start playing with them! None of the frustrating cutting or unwinding of stiff wires.

    I hope they do well. The clothing and footwear looks good and it will be interesting to watch and see what happens with this company .

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  3. Very good review Jesse....perhaps you ought to contact the company for a job in their PR Dept :)
    I know where you are coming from regarding featuring just boys on the packaging, but I think they are trying to promote the doll is for KIDS...and it is fun to play dolls with your best (girl) friend or sister! They are very handsome dolls to that would appeal to the female half of the population too! Good luck to them..hope they do well!

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  4. Very interesting review on these dolls Jesse. I think he does look like a proper boy doll and his hair and face are great.
    Is this a new company? that could be why the children on the box appear to be girls, are they hoping that the doll will appeal to girls too ! but have missed the fact that they need to be boys who look like boys on their boxes!
    I wish them well in their aims but I think all doll manufacturers should include decent boy dolls in their ranges so that boys have a choice , where is the American boy doll? I cannot believe what a market these people are missing.
    but basically it will come down to parents allowing their children to be children and play with and buy whatever they want rather than steering their boys away from dolls because they don't or cannot deal with other peoples stereotypical reactions!
    I think society is moving forward on these issues but like all things it's a slow process and and there will always be someone out there who'll be horrified their boy wants a doll where as they'd much rather he was hanging his teddy for a tree and shooting at him!
    I wish them well , their doll is great and time will tell if they're aimed him right.

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  5. Thank you for sharing him with us, he's a lovely looking boy doll. I'm not really into this type of Doll as a collector but I'd buy him for a boy or girl especially to show e my support to their philosophy!

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  6. My son had his own Cabbage Patch doll (he named her Rosy)and a My Buddy doll and he dearly loved them both. I saw no reason why he shouldn't play with his sister and have his own dolly friends. He is now grown and a father of his own son. I thought your review was excellent.

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  7. If we can find out where this company is lurking, one of these boys is likely to move in with my little grandson for his birthday early next year. We have been looking for one that looks realistic, masculine without being adult or militaristic and has hair that can withstand toddler hugs. Like his father before him, he has both a girl and a boy baby doll as we believe in active promotion of boys as future fathers/uncles/friends, but a companion doll would also be well received. So, thanks for this balanced and thoughtful review Jesse. It is most helpful.

    I do wonder whether the two women who set up the company used their own children on the packaging. It is unfortunate that the child with longish hair, who may well be a boy, gives a slight indication that the dolls are intended for boys who are being raised more as 'gender neutral.' Given that the doll is designed to look more traditionally boyish, it seems odd not to show such a little lad playing with it. But it is a minor point as children look at the product and only see packaging for its other play possibilities. The main potential problems will be in getting stores to display them in areas where boys and their parents will see them, rather than hiding them amongst the girl dolls and selling them merely as brothers for girls' existing dolls, and in getting people who enjoy making and selling clothes for dolls to create outfits for boys, as there is still less interest in creating for them than in sewing or knitting pretty, girly stuff.

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  8. I really enjoyed reading about your doll. Another doll I haven't heard of before. Although my son didn't have a boy doll he was happy playing with my daughters dolls. He would cuddle the baby dolls and change their clothes quite tenderly, He has always been quite a gentle boy ( now 25 ) and I always thought he will be a a very good dad one day ( yet to happen ) I do think boys should be encouraged to play with dolls and not made to think dolls are for girls. As more and more men are now being stay at home dad's looking after the babies and children it can be very practical too :) jane x

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