Friday, June 16, 2017

Journey Girls Bike Set

Calista Gets a New Bike!


Journey Girl's bike is not a new item, rather it is a rerelease of a bike that made its debut in 2013.  In 2014 it started showing up in its current state.  Originally the bike was light blue with purple accents, had black tires, and a white basket and handlebars.  The "new" version is mostly a salmon pink with teal blue accents, white tires, and the same white basket and handlebars.  The set comes with a helmet to keep you Journey Girl safe and retails for about $30.


I have two Our Generation bikes (both identical) that I love, which is why it took me a long time to decide to get this bike.  The Our Generation bike is made of metal, with real rubber tires, training wheels, and a "working" chain.  It is very sturdy and resembles a real bicycle.  The Journey Girls bike is made of plastic, feels very light, has plastic wheels, small balancing wheels, and a non-working chain.  The Journey Girls bike is $10 less though, and it comes with a helmet.  Is the Journey Girls bike worth the $30?


As I mentioned, the Journey Girls "Cruiser" is very light weight due to it being made entirely of plastic.  The only metal on the bike are the screws that hold the plastic pieces together.


Is the fact that the bike's frame is not metal a big deal?  Not really...I mean we are talking about a doll bike.  So it doesn't have to hold much weight.  The plastic is plenty solid for normal play.  If a child pushes down too hard on handlebars, I do fear that weak points will be shown and the plastic may break, but that is just a theory, not a truth.  Salmon pink colors the entire frame, with a Journey Girls sticker on the crossbar.


My sticker has a part that is bubbled and no matter how much I struggle with the thing, I can't get it to stay down.  Both the sprocket (gear) and the chain protector have the same style of sticker on each piece, with the later again sporting the Journey Girls name.


Teal fenders add another color that carries over into the handle grips and the foot pedals.  Plain white adorns the handlebars, the little front carrier basket, as well as the plastic spokes on the wheels.  The rims of the wheels are a strange mauve/purple color that is also on the rim of the basket.  Tassels hang from the handle grips bringing back memories of my banana seat bike I had as a kid.


On the back of the bike on top of the fender is a carrier rack made of gray plastic, the same that can be seen on the cranks, the little bell on the handlebars, the fender stabilizers, and the small stabilizing wheels on the bottom of the bike.


Off the carrier rack is a large curved piece of plastic that almost looks like the back of a seat, which is essentially what it is.  It is made to help sit your doll up straight.  However, I found that I didn't need it once Calista's feet were strapped in and her hands were on the handlebar grips.  So I popped it out.


If you flip the bike on its side you will see where the seatback is clipped into the carrier rack.  If you push on that area the seat back should come out.  You make to squeeze the end together a little using a tweezer or pliers.


The bike looks much more realistic without the seatback and the dolls don't need it.  Plus it makes more room on the carrier rack this way.


The seat of the bike has a fabric cushion with the same design on it as the stickers that adorn the crossbar.  It is a cute touch and is one place that the Journey Girls bike betters the Our Generation bike, which has only a plastic seat. (ouch!)  The seat is positioned so that there is really only two positions that the pedals can be placed.


When the pedals are flat, parallel to the ground, both Calista's feet can be placed on the pedals, either with the right foot forward or the left foot.  Without any movement in the Journey Girls knees, these are the only two positions that work.


To hold Calista's feet on the pedals a loop of elastic sticks up from the top surface of the pedal.  By slipping these around her shoes she is able to stay seated on the bicycle very easily.


The handlebars look a little goofy when you first look at them because of their shape.  Again they remind me of the tall handlebars that my banana seat bike had.  When you put your doll on the seat and strap her feet in, you will find out quickly why the handlebars are shaped this way.  Calista's hands fit perfectly on the handgrips!


Much better than on the Our Generation bike, which uses rubber loops to hold the dolls hands on.  You are even able to turn the handlebars to either side a little, not much, but a little.  Tassles hang down from the ends of each handgrip in colors that match the scheme of the rest of the bike.


The tiny basket on the front of the bike has the "JG" symbol on it, so you can tell who made it as it comes towards you too.


One issue with a bike is that it is very difficult to balance without motion.  Because of this issue Journey Girls has added a small kickstand with two little wheels on it underneath the pedals.  Although not as realistic as the training wheels that are on the Our Generation bike, these wheels do just as good a job of keeping your doll and her bike upright.


You can pull the wheels off, but then the bike doesn't stand on its own.


I'm not sure if I like these tiny wheels or the training wheels of the Our Generation bike better.


I can take one training wheel off so that you don't really see the other one as I photograph, but the little wheels are alway there.  Very smart of Journey Girls to make the wheels gray so they blend in more with blacktop and cement (I'm sure that's why they picked that color).


Now onto the most frustrating part of this set; the helmet.  I was super excited that the Journey Girls set has a helmet.  It's a great way to promote safety through play.  If my doll wears her helmet, I may be more likely to when I ride my bike.  and the helmet is really cute with the front being plain white with the "JG" symbol on it, and then the helmet fades to the purple that is on the basket lip.  It's a cool design.  Sadly the helmet does not fit.  Well, that isn't completely true.  The helmet fits perfectly on Calista's head, but getting the strap buckled is a lesson in patience.


The parachute cord buckle is difficult to get together because the straps are so tight, even when they are loosened to their full length.   It is nice to have a buckle though compared to velcro...so good job on that part Journey Girls.  The old Journey Girls dolls are a little easier to get the helmet on.  And if your doll has a ponytail, it has to be low and loose to get the helmet on.


As with other Journey Girls products, this could just be an issue with my set.  Fitment can vary from set to set.  If it does not, you may be helping your little one get this helmet on and off a lot. Or like my Calista...she just rode unsafely!  One more issue with the helmet; the straps are pegged on the inside of the helmet with a tiny bit of the strap poking out after the peg.


This piece of strap grabs Calista's hair every time the helmet is adjusted or taken off.


When her hair was in a ponytail the strap would pull chunks of hair out of the ponytail...annoying!


Rating
All ratings are out of 10

Playability 8 – This is a fun bike.  It is easy to get Calista on and off, you can play with the little wheels on or off, and it is a cyte bike.  I wish that the basket on the front was a little bigger, but the added rack on the back is helpful for carrying more items.  Good fun.

Value 7 – For the price you get a nice little bike that is pretty good quality.  Compared to the Our Generation bike or an American Girl bike, this one seems on the cheap side.  It's made of plastic rather than metal (although it is a sturdy, good quality plastic), the wheels are plastic rather than rubber, plastic spokes compared to metal spokes, and a non-functioning bell, all make this feel a bit cheap, especially compared to the Our Generation bike.  All that being said, I still really like this bike for the price.  I think this is about what I expect for a bike this price, and I am suprised by the OG bike.

Quality 7 – Again, the bike is made of a solid plastic with good quality all around.  Some of the thinner plastic pieces are flimsy (like the fender stabilizers and the little wheels to balance) and there are visible screws that could be hidden better.  The stickers have some issues.  Overall, though this is a great bike.

Overall 7 – Buy this bike when it goes on sale it will be well worth it.  Even at it's normal price it is a good bike.  Yes it has some flaws.  And the helmet doesn't fit real well.  As a whole though, this set is really neat.  I love that Calista fits on it perfectly.  Her hands and legs look comfortable.  It just fits a little better than the Our Generation bike (not surprising...well maybe a little, since some of the JG items don't fit JG dolls all that well either).  If you are looking for a fun way for your doll to get around (that is aage appropriate...who has ever let an 8 year old drive a car by themselves) than this is the perfect set for you.  Pick it up when a sale comes or a 15% off coupon.



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Meredith's Swimsuit

Our Generation At the Beach With Meredith


As summer peaks out from winter’s storm clouds, Our Generation begins releasing some of its summer clothes, including this outfit, “Day at the Beach”.  Included in this set is a purple halter neck, ruffled bottom swimsuit, a swimsuit coverup, sandals, a camp cap, a fishing net, and a bucket of minnows.  This deluxe outfit retails for $17.99.


I love Our Generation swimsuits!  They are made well with material similar to real swimsuits.  They are cute.  They cover up the dolls midsection….which I like because personally the cloth tummy always looks strange to me in photos.  This suit is a full covering suit with a high halter neckline.  The light violet suit has purple popsicles patterned all over it, with a ruffled skirt at the waist.


On Meredith, I think I ended up tieing the straps a little tight, which pulled the suit up too high.


The fit is a little loose at the bottom on Meredith, no matter how tight the neck straps are.


Made of a light white cotton material, the cover-up is super simple.  The large v-neckline allows a hint of the swimsuit to peek through.


Big, loose sleeves are accented with teal piping around the cuff.  This stitching continues down the sides of the cover-up and then around the bottom of the skirt.   Slight tapering at the waist helps the cover-up look more like a dress than a potato sack.


A button on the back of the cover-up allows it to easily be put on and off.  Although it’s simple it’s great to have the cover-up to help make this set more of an outfit than just a simple swimsuit.  Meredith can now walk along the beach or play in the sand, and try to find fish in the water.

This is the second time that we have seen the “OG Summer” hat.  This one has a bright neon orange brim and a neon pink mesh back, with the “OG Summer” printed on the solid white front of  the cap. There is a small piece of Velcro at the back to adjust the cap for just about any dolls head.


I also love that it has the little opening in the back for Meredith’s ponytail to stick out.  I’m so glad that Our Generation gave us this cap rather than another pair of sunglasses.


The heart shaped fishing net is actually a repurposed butterfly net from some other sets.  How do I know this?


Well there is a butterfly stamped in the plastic where the handle meets the net.  Still cute.  The purple plastic handle does not stay in Meredith’s hands without some tape or a binder.


I love the small holed net material, perfect for catching minnows.

Speaking of minnows…Meredith’s bright neon orange sandpail is full of “water” and little tiny minnow.


The clear plastic is almost up to the rim with little silver fish swimming around in the water.  Very cute!


The yellow handle of the bucket can go around Meredith’s wrist, but she needs some tape or a binder to hold it in her hands normally.


Little teal jelly sandals complete this set.  Like other jelly sandals before, these have small openings in them to give them a woven look. They have a strap across the top that latches with a post on the ankle of the shoe.


It can be a bit challenging to get the strap onto the post, but it’s not impossible.  The shoe is wide on Meredith’s feet, but not so much that her feet slide around.



Rating
All ratings are out of 10

Value 8 – Since this is a Deluxe set it cost a little more at $17.99.  I think the set is worth the price, but it isn’t quite as exciting as the boogie board set.  Most of the set is recycled; we’ve seen the separate pieces in other sets before.  The suit is very cute, but it isn’t completely new.  It is great to have the hat rather than sunglasses, but again, if you have the camping outfit that came out earlier this year…you have a very similar hat.  The shoes, bucket, and fishing net (or butterfly net) have all been used in other sets before.  Really the only new thing is the cover-up.  But just because none of the things are new doesn’t mean this is a bad set.  On the contrary, this set is fun and has a lot of playability.

Fitment 8 – Although there is some loose fabric on the swimsuit, it still fits Meredith well, especially if the tie is tight.   The cover-up is loose and looks big, but that is probably by design.  The little jelly shoes fit like all OG shoes do; a little wide, but just the right length.  And it is awesome that the hat has some adjustability to help it fit on every dolls head.

Versatility 5 – This outfit gets an extra point for versatility due to the fact that it comes with the cover-up, compared to the boogie board outfit.  Plus the fact that the swimsuit is an actual swimsuit rather than a wetsuit helps in this rating.  All of the accessories can be used for other outfits…well outdoor, beach outfits.  The fishing net can be used with a different outfit for catching butterflies.

Cuteness 8 – While the wetsuit was more practical, this swimsuit is all cuteness.  The purple color, the little popsicle print, and the ruffled tutu skirt, make this swimsuit super adorable.  The hat, with it’s opening in the back for ponytails….cute!  Jelly shoes…always cute (well maybe not always, but in this case they are).  Even the cover-up is cute.

Overall 8 – Both the boogie board outfit and this outfit get the same score, but for different reasons.  The boogie board is awesome as an accessory set and it’s good to have the wet suit.  This set, the accessories are good, but the swimsuit is really cute!  And I love the hat!  It is definitely going to find it’s way into different summer outfits.  Although I really like this outfit and the accessories that come with it, I would wait for it to go on sale.  I think this set is a great $15 set.  Especially if you don’t have the accessories or if you need another swimsuit for your pool party!



AG Note

Even though the Journey Girls and American Girl dolls are the same height, some outfits fit one or the other better than the other.


This swimsuit fits better on Lea than on Meredith, maybe just because of the way that I tied it, but it still fits better.  Although I really don't like the cloth body showing around the neckline.


But that doesn't change the fact that the swimsuit and the cover-up fit perfectly on Lea.


The shoes are tight and are a little difficult to clasp shut.  However the shoes are difficult to clasp on Meredith too, so it is probably the clasp, not the actual size of the shoe.


All of the accessories need to be kept in Lea's hands with tape or rubber bands, but that is no different than with Meredith.


The hat is smaller on Lea's head since American Girl's heads are a little larger, but it still fits really well.  This is another set that fits both Journey Girls and American girl really well.  And it is such a fun set...you should definitely pick it up!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Our Generation's Boogie Board Set

Mikaella Goes Boogie Boarding


Winter in Minnesota makes taking photos and reviewing summer swim outfits rather difficult.  Well photographing swimwear in a natural setting is difficult to do in the winter.  So this review is timely in the sense that it is now coming into bathing suit season, but not so timely in the sense that this outfit came out closer to Christmas time.  Simply called “Boogie Board”, this outfit includes a wetsuit, sunglasses, water shoes, and, of course, a boogie board.  For $12.99 it seems like a pretty good deal.


There are two large pieces to this set, the boogie board and the wetsuit.  Since the wetsuit is the outfit, let’s look at that first.  Made of a stretchy polyester fabric, the mostly pink and blue wet suit has long sleeves, but only board shorts length legs.   Pale pink covers the arms, while a patch of white runs down the sides, a bright blue makes up the middle of the suit, and bright pink accents the sides of the shorts.


A rather unproportionally large zipper runs up the front of the suit, ending at the high, matching bright pink collar.  The size of the zipper makes it very easy to get up and down, which is probably why this size was picked rather than a more proportionally accurate small zipper.


The suit is big on Mikaella, but fits well due to the materials innate stretchiness.  You can really see the bagginess in the sleeves and around the waist.


A positive about the fit is that the looseness does make it much easier to get on.


Made of hallow plastic, the boogie board has similar colors to the wetsuit, although yellow is the main color in the board.  Two thirds of the board is yellow, with three zig-zag stripes (a pink, a white, and another pink) breaking up the yellow from the blue side on the right third of the board.


The underside of the board is all yellow.   In the middle of the board at the top there is a black plastic loop.  An elastic cord is connected to this loop with a Velcro strap at the end to go around your dolls wrist or in Mikaella’s  case, her ankle.


So when she wipes out the board doesn’t get too far away from her.  Mikaella can kind of lay on the board and hold it, but to support herself on the board I had to use a hair binder.   And just in case you were wondering, the board floats on its’ own, but not with Mikaella on it…for that I had to use some rocks underneath.


The color scheme of this set is carried over into the sunglasses too, with blue and pink fading into each other on the frames.


The big lenses have a bit of a blue tinge to them and are not very dark.  Although they fit well around Mikaella’s ears and sit correctly on her nose, the glasses still fall off pretty easily.


Made of clear pink plastic the shoes have a slit up the back to make them easy to get on and off.  There are rows of little bumps, like gripper strips, but all over the shoes rather than just on the bottom.


Still wider than most Journey Girls shoes, these are one of the best fitting pair of Our Generation shoes I’ve seen.  They fit especially well around the ankles, which is surprising since OG dolls have thicker ankles.  Cute little water shoes.



Rating
All ratings are out of 10

Value 9 – At $12.99 this is a great outfit with a really cool accessory.  There is nothing much to it other than the wetsuit, but that is well made.  The boogie board is colorful and fun, as are the shoes and sunglasses.  There really is nothing to fault in this set.

Fitment 8 – Even though the suit is loose, it still fits Mikaella well and does not look bad on her.  Unlike so many OG shoes, these ones fit Mikaella well.  As do the glasses.  My one fitment complaint is…I would love to see something on the side of the board to hold her hands to it.  Not a necessity, but it would be awesome!

Versatility 4 – I don’t know anyone that would buy a bathing suit or a wetsuit and think they were going to get some other use out of it other than using it for swimming.  It’s no surprise then that this outfit doesn’t have much versatility.  The accessories can be used with other outfits.  The shoes would be great with other beach type of outfits.  The glasses can go with almost any outfit.  And any doll  in a swimsuit can use the boogie board.  So even though the outfit itself is not versatile, the set has some versatility.

Cuteness 6 –  Again, I don’t know that many people think of a wetsuit as cute…but this one is cuter than most with its multiple colors.  Personally, I think one of the cutest parts of this set are the shoes.  They aren’t the fanciest shoes or the most beautiful, they just look like fun, running around at the beach shoes!

Overall 8 –  This number isn’t really an average of the points, because this outfit is so specific to one use.  So why 8?  Well, the suit is made well with a great zipper up the front.  The shoes fit great as do the sunglasses.  Finally, the boogie board is great accessory, whether you are using it for pretend play, or you are brave (or not so smart…like me) and use it in the water.  And for this price, it is an awesome deal!  Pick it up when you see it!



AG Notes

Swimsuits are great because they have a little bit of give in the fabric.  This means that the swimsuits can fit the Journey Girls and the American Girl dolls equally well.


This suit fits perfectly on Saraphina, pulling up with no issues of sticking.  The one place it is interesting is on her legs, where the suit sits right above the cut in her vinyl thigh.  It in no way hinders the outfit or Saraphina, but Mikaella looks better with her straight leg.


The glasses have the same issue that they did with Mikaela.  They fit, but fall off easily.  The shoes are tight on Saraphina's feet, barely fitting.  The back part of the shoe does not close all of the way as it does on Mikaella's foot.


And of course the boogie board works great for Saraphina.  Her arms come in towards the center of her chest just a little bit more, making it easier for her to hold the board.  Another great set for both Journey Girls and American Girls!