Doll Collecting, Our Generation
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Our Generation Way to Grow Set (or, The Gnome Set)


In my little area of the world, it’s always a gamble trying to guess when things will go from “hot” to “absolutely unbearable”.  We have crossed that line within the past week.  I have cardiovascular problems and ever since I had my heart attacks, I start having real issues whenever the weather hits the triple digits.  I realize everyone gets uncomfortable in the heat, but I get sapped of strength and energy pretty fast and if I don’t watch it, I’ll be bedridden for the next several days.  If I don’t have to be at work or at the clinic, the hours of noon until around four are spent inside usually curled up with a good book, with the air conditioner on blast and the outside soundtrack of cicadas on an endless loop.  I do have to say, there is something to the concept of an afternoon siesta.

My husband, Forehead, was out of town for the weekend and after spending Friday night left to my own devices and watching home decorating shows (always a road to disaster) I decided to do my spare bedroom (also known as the doll room) over in Tiffany & Co. blue.  It’s a rental so I can’t paint the walls, but I could do the bed linens, curtains, maybe a rug or two.  What could possibly go wrong?

To avoid the heat, crowds, and traffic, I set my alarm to get up early for a Saturday so I could go in to Target and get out before everyone else did.  After my cart was piled high with new sheets, comforter, pillows, rugs, etc I decided to see if any new Our Generation stuff had popped up.  Friends on doll boards had reported seeing new items, and I’d gotten pretty discouraged at coming up empty handed on new items for the past month or so.

When I launched this blog I didn’t think I would be reviewing or photographing Our Generation items as much as I have been, but I really love some of the stuff they’ve been coming out with.

Someone I’ve met through the doll boards has become a good friend of mine, and she had been looking for the Our Generation Way to Grow set for quite some time.  I seem to have a knack for finding special items, so I decided to keep my eyes peeled for this set and let her know if/when I found it.  I really wanted to find a way to repay her kindness to me, and tracking down OG items (which can be surprisingly irritating and difficult to do) sounded like a good way to do it.

I was expecting to see more of those Berry Salon Sets that simply will never go away, but yes, that’s it, it was there, complete with little garden gnome!  And as I looked at it in my cart, the more impressed I was with it.  That Way to Grow set lit a fire under me and I sped to two more Targets that were close by, hoping for a second one, but no dice.  I’m not worried–one more will pop up eventually.

I text the good news to my friend and she very kindly allows me to break the set out of the box for the purpose of reviewing it here on The Mouse Lair.  I didn’t want to destroy the mintyness of her garden set box, but she said as long as I could get it all back in the box to go for it.  This actually made me very nervous, as I haven’t had a good track record with OG packaging (when I was trying to remove the diner, I was crashing around and swearing and making so much noise that Forehead came running down the stairs to see if I was okay) so I approached the box like a surgeon getting ready to cut someone open.  Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as that wretched diner and nothing got torn, lost, broken, or stolen by a treacherous dachshund who likes to chew on doll accessories.

In the evening I rush out to get photographs in that small window of time between “not blazing heat of death” and “losing all the light”.

Behold!  I sure hope Lanie doesn't see this set...

Behold! I sure hope Lanie doesn’t see this set…

Target!  For the love of God!  Start stocking this item, because I want one for myself!

Uh oh.  No!  No!  Bad Lanie!  Get away from that!

Uh oh. No! No! Bad Lanie! Get away from that!  It’s not ours!

I also found three of the newest accessory sets that will be photographed and reviewed here in the next couple of days (campfire set, explorer set, and car wash set).  You guys…I think this Way to Grow set is one of my favorites.  Not in the least because it comes with this:

Your friend and mine, the garden gnome!

Your friend and mine, the garden gnome!

Let’s look and see what else is included in this set, which retailed for $24.99 in my area:

125Also comes with a flower box, wheelbarrow, assorted vegetables, a bag of potting soil.  The bag is sewn shut and it feels like there is polyfill in there.  The tomato I recognize from another set, and the lettuce, carrot, red pepper, and eggplant are a decent for-scale size.

126Watering can (the handle moves), hand rake, spade, and clippers (which also open).  None of these items feel flimsy, which I like.

127On the right you can see a sheet of stickers to put on the seed stakes above it.  I wish they had included more seed stakes–you can only put one on each side, and I’m not sure how many times you could peel on/off the stickers before they tore or lost their adhesive.  I really wish that the stakes and stickers had been magnetic, to increase the play value.  This reminds me of the bistro sign in Grace’s set–how are you supposed to keep playing with it after you’ve stuck a few of the stickers on it?  Also pictured here are the seed packets, made of a glossy paper, and gardening gloves.  I like how the gloves aren’t made of the same fabric on both sides.

The neck kerchief and sash are from the OG Camping Set, which will be reviewed soon.  I already have the photos shot, I just need to watermark them and write it up.

The neck kerchief and sash are from the OG Camping Set, which will be reviewed soon. I already have the photos shot, I just need to watermark them and write it up.

Wheelbarrow at work.  Here, next to Lanie, you can see the only real quibble I have with this set–the wheelbarrow is too small.  The handles barely come up to her knees.  The wheelbarrow will look nice by itself or set up in a diorama display, but something just looks off when it’s next to one of the dolls.

129Lovely Lanie and the flower bed.  I don’t have a problem with the scale of this; it looks fine.  The green plants on either side are made of a flexible plastic, and the daffodil-types in the middle have fabric petals and a fuzzy, poofy center.

The Omnigrid of Scale

The Omnigrid Square of Scale Part I

Part II

Part II

Part III

Part III

I need to figure out a way where the sunlight behind me doesn’t cause a glare on that Omnigrid ruler.  I know you can still see the lines but the overall look of the shot has been bothering me.  I might end up taking them inside on a piece of foamboard or something.  Hopefully this will give you some idea of the measurements and scale of each piece.

It is annoying beyond all belief that this set, which has to be one of my favorites (the Car Wash set is tied, or at least up there with it) has been nearly impossible to find.  I think I can count on one hand how many people on the doll boards have found one, and my friend told me that this one is the first sighting anyone has had in a month–maybe two.  And it’s a fantastic set–I can see lots of play value here for the target market and an adult collector could get a lot of mileage out of this set for dioramas and setting scenes.  After examining this and the other accessory sets I bought, I firmly believe that Target could do some serious damage to American Girl in the competition department if they could just get the stuff like this in the stores!  Most of the reason I’ve reviewed more OG stuff than AG stuff at this point in time is because it’s easier and cheaper for me to pick up these accessory packs at the store than it is to 1) deal with AG’s dumpster fire of a website 2) day trip to Kansas City, my nearest store 3) wait for something to be shipped from Middleton, WI 4) wait for free shipping because Amazon Prime and Zappos have spoiled me; I hate paying for shipping now.

To be fair, I think that things have been getting better–I’ve noticed that the stores in my area will get one shipment of one new item each, and then a couple of weeks or a month later, multiples of the new items will eventually show up.  I sure hope that happens with this garden set.  I have no idea how they decide where this stuff goes, but the thrill of the hunt is half the fun for me–the game is on–and the next item on my list is that sewing set.

In closing for today’s post…anyone here see the movie Amélie?  It’s one of my favorites, and an adventurous traveling gnome appears and sends pictures home from his visits all over the world.  So I couldn’t resist making some mischief with this little gnome before I sealed him back up in the box.

Isabelle notices someone new on the shelf...

Isabelle notices someone new in the parlor…

“It’s better to help people than garden gnomes.”–Amélie

Relaxing on the island of Guam

Relaxing on the island

“I am nobody’s little weasel!” –Amélie

...and my favorite picture of this post.

…and my favorite picture of this post.

“At least you’ll never be a vegetable.  Even artichokes have hearts.” –Amélie

That’s it for today, folks.  A great big THANK YOU to MK for letting me open the box and photograph this set to share with you here.  More OG reviews to follow very soon, so stay tuned to this station.

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