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.

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