22 Sep 2018

Polly Pocket reboot and Shopkins lil' Secrets


tiny... toys guys!

See, I was a kid of the 90s, an era of tiny toys and ridiculous randomness. So of course I grew up with Polly Pocket and Mighty Max.

I only ever had one Polly Pocket as a child, they were expensive and my parents were pretty strict about toys, I had to buy most of my "not special occassion" toys out of my own pocket money and we had rules against me asking for things.
So I had ONE solitary Polly Pocket, a locket one

It looked like this (Picture from OnlyPollyPocket.com)

It was small and didn't have much to it, it was nothing on those big elaborate sets I saw in catalogues or that some of my friends had. Oh I thought they were wonderful, but like Sylvanian Families, far far too pricey. And to be fair, my pocket money was mostly at that point spent on Littlest Pet Shop (my obsession at the time) and Goosebumps/Fear Street/Point horror books (my OTHER obsession of the era lol)
Lemme tell you, $5NZD a week didn't go very far in 1995. Ahem.
Then again I was a pretty lazy kid and did like no chores so my parents were basically just giving me money for existing, which was kinda nice of them right?


Polly Pocket spent decades in the hands of Mattel being made less and less pocket sized and more and more "just another small doll"

But she's BACK! 2018 and tiny Polly with a bloody playset that folds up is BACK!

So, let's see how she stacks up!

Now, I searched the damn stores for new Polly for a good week or two. Entertainer at the time hadn't restocked, or decided to HIDE them (their new store SUUUUCKS, the layout is chaotic and it's impossible to find anything without asking. i hate it) and the big department store ONLY had a huge pile of ONE budget set, ALL Polly.

I didn't want Polly, I wanted her friend Shani because she has glasses omg. <_< I like dolls with glasses okay?

Also blonde dolls bore me. I'm totally blonde dolled out and kinda a bit biased against them.

So while I lamented Amazon's "available in stock in 2-3 months" nonsense and huffed about not wanting to pay postage and order online, Husband appeared from the supermarket with this:

No, it's not Polly Pocket, it's Moose Toys yet again pilfering my childhood for toy ideas!

oh Moose, I love you.

This is a Shopkins lil' Secrets, a spinoff of their very successful anthropormorphic food line (those are words I never thought i'd type).

Shopkins are blind bag toys and spun off already a doll line called Shoppies who remind me of Cherry Merry Muffin (it's the living kitchen appliances and blocky heads okay?) which in turn got another spinoff Shopkins little places. So it's like they just keep shrinking em down till eventually we got... this.

I don't collect Shopkins, I try not to collect blind bags because they clutter the place up terribly. I stop at a couple and then that's it. Shopkins just never appealed and much as the Shoppies remind me of Cherry Merry Muffin, the first doll line I ever collected (I was like 4 ahaha) I can't justify the £15 price tag nor find one I LOVE enough.

So no comparisons there.

But this thing, this thing LOOKS like Polly Pocket! It doesn't look like Shopkins at all.

Looks like they're doing these lockets (there's around 8 of them I think) and these:

which are mini playsets shaped like a padlock.

It's a cute twist on the Polly Pocket idea which originally was small makeup compacts and things like that.

These are £5, the same price as the Polly Pocket small locket sets which I was looking for.

What a great price! With toy prices hiking steadily it's so nice to see some toys that aren't blind bag tat priced at a point that's actually pocket money level!

The packaging is very simple. The top piece is a plastic kinda box with this plastic inside it and a small rectangular box underneath.

I admit, initially I just thought the box was a waste of space and simply there for the graphics but I was wrong, it actually opens...

And inside I found a string and a pamphlet.

The pamphlet shows all the different ones available. There's two sides and only 4 are currently out, the others are "coming soon".

I kinda like Coralee, she looks cute. And her locket is star shaped, just like my childhood polly pocket!

These things also have the typical "Shopkins" gimmick, a blind bag. Each set comes with one of 3 "mini shopkins". It's something I could take or leave, but I do appreciate that it's mixing the blind bag aspect that's so popular with a toy you can actually SEE what you're bloody getting before paying money for.

Seems a nice compromise.

The one we got is some sort of anthropomorphic stereo that looks like a bag... I dunno man, it's weird.

and it's absolutely tiny! It's like the size of my thumb nail or something. TEENY. Easily swallowable, easily vacuumable. Welcome to the 1990s! hah.

This is everything you get for your modest £5. Doll, mini shopkin, string and locket playset.

The outside of the locket is shaped like a musical note with er... a wing.. and SPK (shopkins?) on it.

Sadly while the packaging says you should wear this around your neck, neither myself or husband could fit the string over our big fat adult heads. Even my 11 year old couldn't get it on so yeah, it's a very very small string and it's not really adjustable, the big pink bead doesn't do a lot. It doesn't even move. I dunno what its purpose is aside from hiding the knot or whatever they used to link the string together.

The playset itself is music themed and a bit chaotic. There's some sort of cluttered music room at the top, part of it's molded and part is a decal. The unpainted molded bits are VERY Bluebird Polly Pocket I have to say.

The disco ball moves side to side likea metronome, I don't really know why. 

The lower floor has uh.. I think it might be a bar or something? It's shaped like a keyboard with little molded keys but it looks to have a cash register on it so I haven't a clue.

There's also a purple djing set, a record player beside that and uh... nope not a clue what the white squares are meant to be. Cds? Records? OOOH it's a music shop!? That doesn't really explain the stage and disco ball though.

Or the sofa. Record stores don't usually have sofas right?

Seriously it looks more like some weird music themed nightclub to me ahahah.

There's two indents that little doll can fit into. A gold circle that you can uh. move back and forward between the djing record player thing and the till and another behind the counter.

She can also stand on the little stage bit at the top.

This set is feeling so very Polly Pocket. 

Alongside a vintage Bluebird Polly you can see how similar these things are. The Shopkin is just a tad taller.

They even have the same waist hinge that allows them to sit down.

Though the Shopkin has a smaller base than the Polly, making me wonder whether they could use one another's playsets at all.

I just so happen to still have one Polly Pocket playset from the charity shop lol, and it turns out that they.. kinda can. Polly can't slot into the sockets on the Shopkins set but she can balance on them pretty well. Meanwhile the Shopkin is a little small for the indents of the Polly set but can stand in them. She falls over a lot but to be fair, the two pollys I have for this set don't always fit into the sockets properly either and fall over a lot as well.

We ALSO had this Mighty Max playset. Sadly we don't have a Mighty Max, but for those who didn't grow up in the 90s, he was basically "polly pocket but for boys" so he got these wicked cool playsets shaped like monster heads that came with a story about how this kid in a sideways cap that uh... teleported him into the horror zone or something? (90s remember) once there he kicked butt and saved the day because of his... uh.. yeah I dunno actually how the kid saved the day, he just did. There was even a cartoon series and a comic book man!

This set I found in a charity shop and bought for my husband because he, like me, has nostlegia for these sets. It even has an iron maiden and an electric chair for torture! I mean wth 90s toys? wth?

Unlike Polly sets, there's no obvious indents for the base of the max. I think the figures were a little more free standing.

But Shopkins being the same sort of scale can take on the role of chief torturer <_<

A role i'm sure she relishes.

I might not have gotten the Polly Pocket I wanted, but this Lil' Secrets Shopkin is a pretty damn good substitute. She is, like so many Moose toys, VERY nostelgic feeling while still being brand new.

But, a few days later I FINALLY found Polly Pocket in the Entertainer! they WERE hiding them!
Ironically, opposite the Shopkins lil' secrets display stand. *sigh*

Here she is! Shani!

The new Polly Pocket range is getting a tv show, which from what I can establish involves a magical shrinking locket. Not exactly the most original of ideas but hey, we'll see what they do with it.

As a result the new Polly Pocket toys come in two sizes. The small ones that are more like the traditional Bluebird toys, and bigger 6 inch ones more like the later Mattel mini fashion doll ones.

Those have not been released in the UK yet, except one big playset that includes both big and little Polly.
Which is a shame as i'd have loved a bigger Shani to compare. Oh well.

The Polly Pocket packaging is, I have to say, more eye catching than the minimalist Shopkins packaging. 

Apparently there's a website too.

It has videos and all sorts. it's kinda cute.

Blister pack is easy to open and this is what you get.

I don't really know what "smart stick" is, especially as everything else refers to it as "polly stick"

The pamphlet in the box explains how to uh.. attach the keyring thing to your locket? and see, polly stick!

And again, Polly Stick.

The picture of the marshmellows confused me SO MUCH till I looked at the playset again and realised the floor was made of them.

Seriously wtf is that about?

The little fire thing spins around.

Shani was... a bit tricky to get out of the packaging because I did NOT expect her legs to be RUBBERY and kinda squishy.


I thought she was entirely hard plastic and just had some sticky shit on her feet but nope, her WHOLE legs are rubbery and it's bizarre.

I don't know how well that'll age.

She also comes with a er... three sticks with a pot to go.. over.. the fire? and a purple telescope. And a red first aid kit that actually does open and has tiiiiny molded (but not painted alas) things inside but the hinge is so small, so thin and so fragile that just opening it a tad to peek inside left massive stress marks and I am NOT trying it again, i'm certain it'll break.

What IS the point Mattel of making a bag that opens if you aren't going to make a hinge strong enough to cope with it being OPENED!?? Idiots.

The orange tend piece folds down to have a lovely evening scene. there's a bedroll molded onto the inside of the orange uh.. balcony? so Shani can sleep under the stars. Aww.

of course, here's the point where I start to discuss the problems with this little playset.

See, first of all, Shani has NO waist joint, so she can't sit down. That means the little logs around the fire? utterly useless. She DOES stick to the marshmellow floor very well, but it's literally the only bit she sticks to. I mean I tried to see if she'd stick to any smooth surface but nope. She doens't stick to glass ot the fridge or metal or plastic or anything, just the marshmellow sticker floor. Weird.
I still don't see why making her able to stand on one teeeeeensy bit of the playset was in any way useful or meant she needed to have rubber legs. I mean only her BOOTS needed to have this sticky rubber shit so why make her so noodly?
It's wiiiiierd.

The playset itself is nicely moded with lots of bright colours, some of which are utterly unrealistic.

Her pot o' stew or whatever she was trying to cook sadly cannot fit over the fire so alas, she's gonna have to eat it cold. Sorry Shani.

The actual doll isn't badly printed. Her details are all stamped decals and have a little fuzziness and pixilated-ness to them but given she's tiny I can forgive that. I looked at a lot in the store and there was some variation in the quality of the print, none are very clear and all of them look a little... I dunno, not quite solidly applied, a bit unclear.

I think she's dressed like a scout of some sort, she has a sash of badges.

her hair is tied back into two molded pigtails and she has giant printed on glasses, cute.

Her arms don't move at all either, she's basically a static tiny figure stuck forever in a T pose. I have to wonder if maybe molding her with her arms DOWN might have been a little more... versatile.

She's bigger than the old Polly Pockets by nearly a nead, and wider with her big clompy sticky rubber boots.

She can kinda.. sorta... hang out in Polly's old playset in that she's almost to scale with it, but she can't stick to anything and her rubbery noodle legs make her jiggle like jello so she jiggles herself over all the time.
It's annoying.

I feel like if her legs were solid she'd actually stand a lot better.

And the old Polly's can hang in Shani's camp, though neither of them would stand up because old Polly Pockets are really top heavy and have iffy hinges after years of play.

But now it's time to discuss another oversight from Mattel here.

See, Polly Pocket playsets were designed so that all the little dollies and accessories fit INSIDE the playset right? So when you were done playing it all tucked away nice and neat and safe.

well, see, Mattel being the "geniuses" they are, decided naaaah, we don't need the playset pieces to fit INSIDE the playset. We'll make them big, bulky and sticking out in 3 different directions so they'll need to be left out of the playset and get lost.

It takes a good 5-10 minutes of careful tessilation from an ADULT to get the locket to even BEGIN to close. There is no way a child can do this.

and even with the pieces carefully positioned the playset doesn't close fully.

thankfully the little lock mechanism on the front keeps it from popping open again but frankly, this design oversight is unforgivable to me. What the hell were Mattel thinking here?
Oh.. oh right.. Mattel don't bloody think do they?

Again, Idiots.

The Polly locket thing itself is a comparable size to the Shopkins one, but instead of a string to wear it on it comes with this odd flimsy orange keyring thing. Are you supposed to hook it onto a string? What are you supposed to do with it? I don't understand.

and that orange keyring thing is NOT strong enough to secure it onto anything without snapping.
Not only is it made of shitty cheap thin plastic, the "clasp" on it is completely useless and the slightest bit of pressure put on it and it pops right on open again.

The two playsets close differently as well. While the Shopkins uses the traditional tab closure method, the Polly Pocket set has a little lock button that you have to push upwards to unlock the latch. It can be a bit fiddly with both of these but I find the little lock button gets stuck more often and can be really awkward to convince to unlatch.

Still, it looks nice and the fact it actually LOCKS rather than closing with a tab means it can stay shut even when the sides are bulging out a bit from the contents being TOO BIG FOR THE PLAYSET.

Both these sets cost £5 and you DO get more "stuff" with Shani but i'm not sure how much her pot thing and the telescope that can't actually fit on the balcony with her actually really add.
I mean they're cute, but not being able to store them inside the playset and not being able to actually even play with them INSIDE the playset seems... redundant. Surely the whole point of the playset is that the play happens inside of it? not on the table/floor outside it?

With the Shopkins set the little doll 1: can sit down and 2: has little slots she slots into nice and securely so she can stand up and be positioned in different spots around her set.

Shani unfortunately doesn't really.. fit... she can stand between the logs and in front of the fire but it's a tight fit with her giant clompy feet and because there's no "polly stick" on the inside of the tent/balcony piece and her rubbery legs make her super unstable, she can't actually stand on the balcony section anyway. But because that section is so small as well, you can't fit both HER and the telescope up there. Basically she can lie on the bedroll up there or she can stand on the marshmellows.

Meanwhile Shopkins girl can serve at the till, swoosh backwards and forwards between record players and the till and stand on the little balcony stage thing.

oh AND can sit down on the damn sofa. She slides off it of course, but at least a kid can MAKE HER SIT DOWN.
All Shani can do is lay on her back or flat on her face with her arms sticking out like a starfish or something.

It is... bizarre.

And I will give Shani cute points. She IS a really cute looking little doll. Her playset, despite the massive design flaws IS a cute and appealing little thing. I prefer its more traditional locket shape and the dark blue colouration to the incipid pink of the Shopkins set. The Polly Pocket set is more colourful in general, which I appreciate, though looking at other Shopkins lil' secrets sets, they aren't ALL pastel tones and are actually just as varied and colourful as the polly sets.

I prefer the Shopkins doll, she's more traditional Polly and feels better thought out. Sure Shani is cuter to me, but the Shopkins figure has a superior design with a waist joint and looks so much like a vintage polly pocket that i'm actually quite surprised. Moose managed to make a toy that was more Polly Pocket than the new rebooted Mattel Polly Pocket is!

I don't LIKE this "polly stick" nonsense, give me a nice indent/slot or hell, go Mighty Max and just create a doll that can stand the fuck up on its own! The rubbery legs of the new polly figures is extraordinarily offputting. they just feel icky and i feel like they aren't going to withstand play or the passage of time well at all. I'd have much rathered the figures had normal hard plastic legs, it would have made them more study to play with, easier to clean (that rubbery shit attracts dust and dirt like crazy) and able to stand up better.
I'm rather disappointed with the direct Mattel took there.

For a fiver, neither are bad toys, but I feel like the Shopkin set was a little better thought out as a complete thing. The doll and her little stereo buddy fit inside it just fine, the string around makes it clear that it's a necklace you wear and the way the string attaches is sturdy feeling. It looks like a toy you legitimately COULD carry around with you and not have to worry about it bursting open or falling off and getting lost.

The Polly Pocket set, the accessories don't really fit inside of it, defeating the point entirely. If you do spend the time to get the pieces all in and ram it closed there's that worry it'll still burst open on you and the shitty orange keyring thing is weak and useless for doing anything other than possibly attaching this thing to a string you hang over your dresser mirror. There's no way you'd attach it to a bag or wear it around your neck, it's far far too weak a connection point. You could loop a string/chain into the part the orange keyring goes through instead of course, but that doesn't seem to have been Mattel's INTENTION. I don't quite understand what the little playset is supposed to BE in that respect. Is it a keyring? is it a locket? It's very very small (both playsets are only about 5 cm across) so definintely something easy to lose down the back of a sofa. Having it attach to something means it's less likely to just disappear, but what is the polly one supposed to attach to? A schoolbag?

Polly Pocket is BACK people, but she's not called Polly Pocket anymore. She's called Shopkins Lil' Secrets.


  1. Thanks for the review I was really curious about the sizes wtr old polly pokcet.
    I used to buy the knock off miniature playsets from Boyes and call them polly pockets LOL

  2. Great review. My daughter has both sets as well and she far prefers the Shopkins one - it's so vintage PP!

  3. I have some extra maxes if you want one for your set. Hit me up and I'll just ask you to pay shipping.

  4. The pink bead on the string pops apart like a snap. Thats how you wear it.