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In the Spotlight
Spring Awakening: Bunnies, baskets, babies, and divinely inspired dolls—including the pope—define Easter.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 14:14

I imagine it’s a sign of the times that even the Easter Bunny has grown more health-conscious. The altruistic rabbit isn’t as fretful and haranguing as New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, but there is definitely an emphasis on “goods” rather than “goodies” this holiday season.

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On Your Toes: Madame Alexander keeps dance fans cheering with their ballet beauties and cuties.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 15:34

When I was a very young girl, I loved the ballet. My family, which was not very big on the notion of formal extracurricular activities, knew that I loved to dance, but they didn’t mentor that drive. I vividly remember showing off my self-invented twirls and “en pointe” pirouettes in my home’s garage. Warning to all kids at home: don’t attempt several quick, tiptoed spins on a concrete-slab surface! I lost my balance, was dizzy from the twirling, and fell face-first onto the garage floor. I was bruised and battered, and I knew in my eight-year-old soul that this wouldn’t have happened if I had had a barre to hold on to.

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Return to Oz: More wizardly and magical dolls crop up along the collectible brick road.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Thursday, 14 March 2013 20:15

Well, I have to admit, I was caught up in the cyclone juggernaut that is “Oz: The Great and Powerful.” My family caught a Sunday matinee (in 3D) and we were transported to a land of enchantment, excitement, good humor, and incredible special effects. It’s interesting that the critics have gotten out their pointy sticks and are jabbing at this Disney vehicle. If the Wizard were truly departing Kansas courtesy of a hot-air balloon, the newspaper, television, and Internet scribes would have deflated his escape plan. They really hate this eye-popping, eye-candy two-hour confection.

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Oooh’s and Ahhh’s: Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful dolls are works of wonder.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Thursday, 07 March 2013 16:12

I might not know what I’m going to be doing five years from now, a year from now, or even six months from now—believe me, this shunning of long-range planning makes me a nightmare client for financial advisors everywhere. However, I do know one thing for sure. If Snow Storm Saturn doesn’t hit us tonight—threats are saying 6 to 9 inches in my neck of the woods—then I’m going to the movies this weekend to see “Oz: The Great and Powerful.” http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/oz-the-great-and-powerful/

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Toy Fair 2013: Dying for a good time? The Javits Center was alive with wicked and wondrous collectibles.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 18 February 2013 21:13

February means a lot of things to me: Valentine’s Day, mini winter break for the children, and endless discount codes for Broadway shows. (Producers realize the demand for their offerings declines in chilly climes, so reduced prices abound!) Yes, for all of these great occurrences, there is one event that stands out the most: Toy Fair!
    Held at the Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side, Toy Fair (TF) is a four-day celebration of all things jaunty, juvenile, and jubilant! Despite the absence of real-live kiddies—no children allowed—the spirit of what entertains the tot set and what grabs at the older enthusiast waits around every corner.

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Worldwide Wonders: Collectors set records with their doll passions and obsessions!
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 11 February 2013 15:25

My daughter is in second grade and her math class is expanding beyond basic addition and subtraction. When she was younger—that phrase makes me laugh as I type it, because 8 is so gosh darn young—but when she was around 5 or 6, she’d demand math problems just for the fun of it.

I’d be shampooing her hair, and her tiny, little, breathy voice would ask, “Mommy, give me some big numbers to add. My brain wants to work!” And I’d roll out all variations of “pluses” and some “minuses” too. (Jane insisted that the washing and massaging of her scalp made her brain come alive, and it wanted to be exercised as well.)

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Guys and Dolls: A “manly man” gets in touch with his “Chatty Cathy” side.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Tuesday, 05 February 2013 17:22

Like many other Americans—and actually citizens the world over—I took part in the annual ritual of Super Bowl watching and snacking. Since I didn’t have a preference for either team, and wasn’t really all that interested in the outcome, I spent a lot of time refreshing drinks and microwaving nachos.
    In between plays, I schmoozed and gossiped. Okay, I admit it—I even talked and chatted during the game. Because of my magpie status, I was asked a few times to stay in the kitchen, which is what I ended up doing.

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On the QT: “Django Unchained” dolls have gone underground and are netting record prices.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 28 January 2013 21:23

Director/producer/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino is turning 50 years old in March, but he doesn’t show any signs of mellowing or chilling out with age. Nope, instead the self-proclaimed “film geek” is stirring up controversy and stealing headlines with his latest film, “Django Unchained.” In case you’ve been snoozing for the past month, “Django Unchained,” or “DU,” is Tarantino’s blending of a spaghetti-western with a black-exploitation-movie vibe. It’s supposedly paying homage to the Sergio Leone European-existential epics that made Clint Eastwood a superstar as the “Man with No Name.” Tarantino is a bona fide expert in cult films, classic Hollywood, and movies that have made a difference in the social climate. He really knows his stuff, so he must have known somewhere in his subconscious that “DU” was running the risk of shaking up the status quo.

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Inauguration Ideal: Dolls venerate the highs and lows of the highest office in the land.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 21 January 2013 15:55
The past three days have been officially labeled as “Inauguration Weekend,” and while Washington swells are dressed to the nines and burning the midnight oil, I’m home with the kiddies playing Clara Barton. (Incidentally, the town next to mine has a district called the “Clara Barton downtown” that honors the venerable American Civil War nurse.) Both my children are suffering from some form of the flu/virus/colds from hell and are shivering and hacking away. During the nursing and soup making, I’m listening to the radio give a play-by-play of the upcoming presidential festivities.
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Ikea Ideals: Like a well-loved dollhouse, there’s always room for dreams and desires.
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Thursday, 10 January 2013 15:52
One of my favorite pastimes is heading to Ikea. Luckily for me, my friends and family know my obsession with snap-together sofas and “easy”-to-assemble armoires. At Christmastime, I’m fortunate that I almost always get presented with an Ikea gift card, which means that I have the chance to take my holiday cash in my hot little hand and trundle home with some attractive, boldly colored accessories.
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