Up until now, Avantguards were the 16" dolls of Integrity. They were very coveted at the beginning, later becoming increasingly repetitive and finally were neglected even by their makers. Now they have a totally new body, with different articulation, more sculpts (compared with only one on their previous incarnation) and additional skin tones! And they are called FR16 now. They were first unveiled at the Integrity convention back in October and they have a storyline that connects them with their smaller scale counterparts. So how are they this time around?
Press Magnate Saskia Tate is the first doll. I think this sculpt is the old Avantguard one. She has a Caucasian skin tone, rooted hair and a brown/caramel make up - sporting eyelashes too. A white blouse and a black leather skirt complete her look. Her accessories include a red clutch, bracelet, stud earrings, black shoes and a black fur scarf. She's nice but not the kind of doll I would expect from the successor line of Avantguards.
Fit To Print Anais McNight is the dark skin tone doll of this collection. Saran rooted raven hair pulled back in a sleek ponytail, smoky tones in her make up and probably the same sculpt as Spring Kissed Avantguard that was the premium bonus doll for W Club members last year. Probably the most sophisticated one of the bunch. White sleeveless blouse with black cigarette pants, an envelope leather bag, strappy heels (without platforms, finally), fur capelet, bracelet, stud earrings (no budget for big gorgeously detailed earrings at this scale is a shame). They call the outfit edgy in the company email but actually it is what any career woman would wear at the office (minus the capelet). Christopher Cane is edgy, not this.
Main Feature Elsa Lin has a new Eurasian sculpt and skin tone. She does not look very Asian to me but she's the most interesting face of the bunch. Probably this is the reason they gave her the worst outfit. Yellow? Come on, it is not even fashionable! It is channelling Adrian and his 30s gowns but fails to capture the magic. No indication of what shoes she will have. Her glued back short hair probably make her ideal for wigs. Love the bag, this is what Monogram Allure should have had too.
Perfect Layout Freja Mossimo is the Latina of the bunch. She has the old Avantguard sculpt but with a very different make up than Saskia. Her outfit is very plain for her - the blouse is boring (colour blocking is out out out) and the draping of this skirt looks bad even at the prototype stage. Her accessories are great though - the bag, shoes and bracelets are gorgeous. She will probably look better redressed.
So what is the verdict? No more fashion forward looks from the 16" Integrity dolls - they became just blown up versions of the FR2 line. I do not see the attention to detail that the larger scale needs and also at this price range, the earrings should have been more than simple studs. I love the make up most of them have but it still needs fine tuning. The new body does not fit the old Avantguard fashions easily - it is slightly larger at the hips, so be careful with that.