Cute Dolls – Cartoon Doll Emporium

 Site: Cartoon doll Emporium
URL: http://www.cartoondollemporium.com/
Audience: Girls of about 8 to 14
Cost: Free, some content is restricted to Paid “Premium Princesses”

Todays pick is Cartoon Doll Emporium, another large social networking/dollmaker site.  They have a notice for parents, billing themselves as the “safest and most creative virtual world for girls”. I am not sure how accurate that statement is, but things are moderated in real time which is nice. The artwork is fun and colourful, lots of giant heads and big eyes, and the dolls are unique. The magority, of the newer ones at least, are “click to mix and match”. Some of their older content has changable colour as well or drag and drop pieces. (You have to hunt around for it a bit; when you go to dolls section type drag and drop into the search bar on the right hand side.) On the plus side, most of the dolls have some kind of animation and animated props or backgrounds which younger kids will love.

My avatars on CDE

My avatar and alter avs on Cartoon Doll Emporium.

As with most of these sites, they have blogs, user profiles, forums, clubs, etc… They also have cartoon dollars which you can earn by surfing their site and participating in activities, and a fun little mini economy. They also have a neat little scavenger hung feature that gives you clues and sends you to find certain dolls. There are item prizes for each hunt. I found much more free content on this site than star doll, though its definatly for a bit younger users.

My room on CDE

My personal space on Cartoon Doll Emporium.

Cartoon Dollars can be spent buy items that improve your “Doll Avatar” and the “Doll Room” featured in your profile. (Both the avatar and the room let you choose your pieces, but you can’t move anything around.)When you are bored of your old items, things like furniture and outfits) you can set them for sale in your personal store for other users to buy. You set the price on the items you sell, so are some interesting prices on “Rare” items and such. It also means that its possible to get some of the premium content without paying real money for it 🙂 When you are on your profile page, on the bottom right is little box labled “Wish List”. Make sure you check that out; when you have items on there, even Premium princess ones, you can click on “Buy” and compare prices in the mall and various user stores.

My CDE store.

My CDE store.

Cartoon Doll Emporium (CDE) has a tons of super fun features, unfortunetely a lot of them are very buggy. Their currency system doesn’t allways reward users, their auction feature was broken when I visited (it kept my cartoon dollars even though I didn’t win any bids). Some of the games, like the scavenger hunt, don’t update unless you hold shift down and refresh your page (it also sometimes fixes money display bugs). Another bug I noticed while on the scavenger hunt, was that their site ads often covered the clue. If that happends to you, go back to the main scavenger hunt page to read the clue, its on the left hand side of your profile page under Games > Scavenger hunt. I did send an e-mail mentioning a few of these problems, however they only responded to the auction problem and said that they where working on it.

All in all though, I do enjoy the amount of honestly free content on Cartoon Doll Emporium. The dolls are really appealing, and the little economy is fun. As long as you are not easily frustrated by bugs, I recomend the site 😉 And if you just want to browse around a little, you don’t need to be a member to play with the dolls.

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Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

To get things started… Stardoll.com

***Since I origonally wrote this, stardoll has changed many features and isn’t as good for free memembers as it was. I will try to do a new review with updates sometime soon ;)***


As of about an hour ago, I decided to start a blog as a place to review some of the wonderful free (or at least partly free) games and activities I have stumbled over in the past few years. If you would like to know a bit more about me or why have started this, just check out the “About” section. In the mean time, lets get started with Stardoll.com.

  • Site:Stardoll
  • URL: http://www.stardoll.com/
  • Audience: Girls of about 8 to 14
  • Cost: Free, some content is restricted to Paid  “Superstars”

Stardoll is a  fun dollmaker/fashion/celebrity site. Its mostly aimed at girls from about 8-14, though parts of it could certainly entertain a bit broader audience. It has free membership for the basic content, but for more than that you need to pay a monthly fee to become a “Superstar”. You can find me under the name Cind.rella 😉

The main free content is the large collection of dolls based on celebrities. Each doll has its own wardrobe of clothing that can be used in the basic drag and drop style.  The graphics are flash aiming for realism, so they don’t have much charm, but most girls will enjoy it for a fashion game. These are very basic doll makers, they have no recolouring options (not even multiple colours of the same pieces) and no layering (aggravating) . Still, for younger girls, they are probably fine. They also have a few free games, some of which can be used to earn some extra stardollars. Unfortunately they have that listed as a short term feature. Enjoy it while it lasts.

"Me" doll creation

"Me" doll creation

When you first join, you get to create a “Me” doll that you will then be able to dress up in clothing you “buy” for stardollars. You are given stardollars for signing up, but after that they become quite difficult to earn (you are given an allowance with a paid account). My advice it to very carefully think through your purchases if you don’t intend to get a paid account. Those might be your only stardollars, other than occasional promotions and contest wins.

My Stardoll Suite

My Stardoll Suite

Once you have your doll finished, you will have access to several features. Each member gets a suite (house), an album, access to scenery, a blog, and a guest book. You also have access to some social features like messaging friends and joining clubs, though parental permission is required for users under 13. Your suite can be decorated however you like, but you will probably be limited by a lack of funds. The paint bucket lets you change the colour of the walls, and the pink controls that appear around selected objects let you scale, rotate, and layer your furniture pieces. The album is just a fun little journal or photo shoot type book. When you make celebrity dolls, you have the option of saving them to your album, you can also save snap shots of yourself. You can then arrange those pictures along with the provided text and clipart to make a fun little book. (Free users only get 10 pages.)  The blog is self explanatory, as is the guest book. But by far my favorite feature was the scenery.

A scene made in the stardoll Scenery maker.

A scene made in the stardoll Scenery maker.

Scenery allows you to select a background image (like an ocean or a comic book page) that comes with a collection of them related pieces to play with. You will also have access to your me doll, a selection of celebrity dolls, your friends me dolls, and items and clothing that you have purchased.  Dolls and other items can be rotated, scaled, and manipulated within this environment to make some super fun pictures. When you pull clothing over a doll, it will snap to the size and rotation of that doll. So if you want something to go over the doll, but not snap to her (say to use a dress as a blanket or something) keep your mouse pointer from hovering over the doll itself. I highly recomend taking a stab at building scenery 😉

There are other things to do as well, the magazine link has current contests and articles for those interested in fashion and celebrities. There are also quizzes to attempt, interviews to watch, and you can vote on other peoples me dolls. Shopping is fun as well and has a nice little change room and shopping cart functions. You can still try on things even when you can`t afford them.  A tip for non-superstars, ignore items that have the gold star next to them when you are shopping. Only paid memeber get access to that stuff 😉  The other feature I loved, though its pretty restricted for non-superstars is the design area.

Shopping and clothing design at Stardoll.com.

Shopping and clothing design at Stardoll.com.

You basically get to build your own fabrics patterns from little shapes tiled in different ways,  and then you make them into furniture or clothing. I loved playing with this feature! The sad part is, that only  a few pieces of clothing can be perchased by non-superstars. You need a paid account to purchase any of the furniture, and most of the clothing. Paid accounts can also add iron on transfer type things to their finished garments. Still, its well worth spending a bit of time playing in the design studio.

As much as I love doll makers, I am not a fashion focused person. And I really don’t care about celebrities (nor do I think they are particularly good role models for children). Those things aside, they do have quite a few fun activities (paid and free) that I’m sure many tween girls will love. The free stuff is fun enough to be worth exploring for a bit, and if my daughter was really into dollmakers, fashion, and celebrities I would consider getting her a paid account (or at least testing it out for a few months).

One last thing to consider though, Stardoll stresses that they are a safe site,  I did have a few concerns. I didn`t see any bullying, bad language, or would be predators… but the kids on this site have figured out all kinds of cheats to help them get more free stuff (involving things like using proxy servers). Some of the links the kids posted lead to sites with questionable content for young eyes. In my opinion, all web sites can have this problem. The best solution is to let your children use this, or any other online game, only in rooms where they can be monitored.

Published in: on August 8, 2009 at 7:08 pm  Comments (2)