3 paper doll apps that take paper dolls into the digital age

I think for those of us moms with fond memories of playing with paper dolls, there’s something really lovely about seeing how they’re being translated for the tablet age. I love that even on the road, without a pair of scissors, my girls can dress up their digital dolls with the same level of creativity and imagination. Here are three worth checking out.

Papertown Friends

This remains my favorite of all the paper doll apps we’ve tried. The cut paper illustrations are gorgeous, courtesy of creator and former Martha Stewart Art Director Robin Rosenthal, and there are enough characters and costumes to keep even my six year-old happy for a good long time. Let’s just say when I check my iPad photo gallery, there are a whole lot of saved Papertown Friends in there; most involve a baby wearing a superhero mask. I’m just waiting for an update with a dozen more friends. Best of all–boys love this too.

($1.99 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)

Girls Can Be Anything kids' paper doll app

Girls Can Be Anything Paper Dolls

Created by mom Aliza Sherman of Media Egg, you’ve gotta love the name for starters. The highlights include very cute, non-hoochie illustrations of girls and 7 shades of skin color. The one issue: the name is a little misleading. The girls are depicted in scenes like the woods, the beach, or a city street, but that’s more like Girls Can Be Anywhere. The name evidently refers to a suite of apps meant to expose 4 year-olds to positive, age-appropriate images of girls (mercifully free of sweets as well). And it succeeds in that. Still, I’m hoping that future accessory pack updates include some pirate eye patches, baseball bats, or archeology tools.

($.99 for iPhone, iPad)

Usborne Dolly Dressing app

Usborne Sticker Dolly Dressing

If you’re familiar with the UK’s Usborne paper doll books, you’ll know exactly what to expect from this digital adaptation that just launched in the US. The thing that’s great about this iPad app is that there are a lot of scenes, dolls, and accessories, which helps to justify the higher price. You can even customize the dolls themselves, including their names and skin colors, and then bring them to life by dropping them into a scene and moving them around with their friends like with real paper dolls. Even tween girls will get a kick out of it.

On the downside, this app makes use of every girls stereotype — the scenes include a wedding (my personal pet peeve), disco, dress shop, and sweet parlor. There’s not even one token sports scene unless you count the beach and the riding stable. Come on Usborne, toss us progressive mamas a bone! The excellent functionality plus a few more aspirational options would equal a really winning app.

(priced in pounds; about $6 US for iPad)

Have a paper doll app you love for Android? We’d love to know about it!

Cool Mom Staff

We spend our time looking for cool stuff so you don't have to. Hope this one fits the bill.

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