Saturday, September 16, 2017

Australia Mikaela Review

A New Australian Outfit for an Old Mikaella

Most of the new Australian Journey Girls are just re-releases of past years dolls with new outfits.  A few of the dolls have new features, like Callie's new hair and skin color, or Kelsey's new hair color and freckles.

Mikaella is one of the dolls that has not been changed at all.  She comes with a new outfit that includes a white lace dress, a sewn on belt, a green jacket, gray socks, a hair clip, a purse, and brown boots.

The dark green jacket almost looks military in style. It is mid-thigh length, just shorter than the dress. Made of a sturdy cotton the jacket has sewn cuffs on both of the arms as well as nice stitching along the edges of it.

There are four pockets on the front of the jacket, two on each side.  Except they really aren't pockets, just the top flaps of pockets.

There are also sewn in loops of cording with a spring loaded cord toggle on them on each side of the front.  They aren't long enough to be used to close the front of the jacket, they are more just decoration.

On the inner sides of the jacket, there are pieces of elastic that help keeps the jacket on and make it more form fitting.

It's a great piece that can be used for many other outfits.  Be aware that there are I-fasteners hiding near the collar and at the bottom of the jacket.

Clip them to take the jacket off.

The white dress is made of two layers; a top lace layer and a bottom cotton layer that the lace layer is attached to at the neckline.   The skirt is a bit short.   It stops high up on Mikaella's thigh, just hiding her underwear, and barely longer than her jacket.

It would be nice if it was a little closer to her knees.  A circle pattern runs throughout the lace, with larger circles that look like tires (with spokes) and smaller solid circles randomly placed around the larger one.

A simple rounded neckline and thick shoulder straps complete the simple but elegant dress.

Velcro runs up the bodice of the dress for easy on and off.

At first glance, the brown leather belt looks like it can be adjusted.  It kind of can.  It is sewn in at the back by the velcro and then again on the side seams.

The belt is so long that if you tighten it so that the dress is fitted, the strap goes all the way around Mikaella to her back.  There are no loops to hold the belt strap, so it hangs awkwardly.

It would be awesome to have this as a real accessory, not attached to the dress.  Or even if it was attached to the dress, maybe only be attached in the back.  Still, it adds to the outfits and looks nice.

Unlike Callie's boots, Mikaella's boots are old news.  The brown plastic boots have a huge gap in the back to make them easy to get on and off.

They are all one color.  Which is sad, since they could at least have different colored soles or laces.

Even though the boots aren't exciting, they go really well with the outfit.  Like Callie's outfit and boots, Mikaella's feels both pretty and rugged at the same time.

Hiding underneath her plain boots are some dark gray socks.  The top of the socks are folded down and hemmed to make a white cuff.

On my doll's socks, the cuffs are different lengths.  Kind of a tube sock, there is no real heel on the socks...but there kind of is.  Not a huge deal, except that the little heel is in an awkward place that turns the seem on the toes of the socks.  So there is a bit of extra flopping fabric at the end of the socks. Really not a big deal, more of an observation.

Mikaella also comes with a hair charm.  The gold butterfly charm is attached to a lavender bobby pin with a braid of purple, pink, and gold string.

A very simple little accessory.

Finally, Mikaella has an over the shoulder purse.  Made of leather, the light brown purse has a leopard print accent flap.

Held down with Velcro, the little purse can hold very little.  The strap comes folded up in the package, making it difficult to get on Mikaella's shoulders because of the folds that stay in the leather.  I'm sure with some more play, the folds will come out.

All ratings are out of 10

Value 8 – There is a lot to this outfit.  I only wish that you could get it without buying Mikaella.  I don't need another Mikaella doll, as I am sure is the case with some of you.  That being said, if you can sell the doll, or donate her, or customize her to become a new doll, the outfit is definitely worth the cost.  This is comparable to a $20 Journey Girl outfit.  The dress is made well, the jacket is nice (it would have been awesome with real pockets, the socks are nice, the boots are okay, and the hair charm and purse are nice little pieces.

Fitment 8 – I am surprised more and more at how things from Journey Girls don't really fit the Journey Girls!  The dress is short...just a little bit when Mikaella is standing, but a lot short when she sits.  The socks are not quite long enough to stick up over the boots and they fit funny.  Everything else fits great.

Versatility 9 – I like this outfit for its versatility.  The dress can be so incredibly fancy looking with the right shoes and accessories (even with the dumb sewn on belt).  The jacket can be used with lots of different outfits.  And the socks are a great addition, especially for outfits that are for exploring or being outside.  The boots, hair charm and purse can be used with just about any outfit.  Great pieces for your dolls wardrobe.

Cuteness 9 – Even though the dress is short, it is really cute.  And I love the contrast between the military style jacket and the lacy dress.  It makes for a really great outfit.  It's nice to have the pop of color in the hair charm.  Just a really cute outfit. (The second of the Australian bunch!)

Overall 8 – Without the doll, this outfit is a nine, because you have to buy the doll with the outfit it's an eight.  There isn't anything wrong with Mikaella; it would just be awesome to be able to get the outfit without having to buy another doll.  This outfit is another good quality, cute design, well thought out release.  In years past there have been half the dolls that I have skipped because their outfits were not very neat.  This year Toys R Us is going to take all of my money.  Lee, Callie, and Mikaella have all had very cute outfits.  If you don't have Mikaella, this doll is well worth the $40.  If you do have Mikaella...wait for a sale to pick up this really cute outfit!

AG Note

Guess what...the boots don't fit.  Neither do the socks.  Not surprising as they are difficult to get on Mikaella at times.

The socks get to Saraphina's ankles and then stop.  So no shoes or socks.

The dress fits, but just barely.  I really had to pull to get the Velcro latched, but it did stay velcroed.

The belt still has plenty of leftover length.

Although the jacket does fit, Saraphina can't raise her arms past her waist.

The jacket does stay close to her body, thanks to the pieces of elastic on the inside.

 Obviously, the hair charm and purse fit Saraphina just fine.  Overall this outfit would be worth the cost to share with your AG dolls.  I wouldn't buy it just for them though, as it really is very tight and prevents playability.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Australia Callie Review

A New Callie: Australian Callie Review

As the Australia Journey Girls are starting to be released we have been able to see the new dolls.  Although most of the dolls are similar to last years, just with new outfits, Callie is one of the dolls that received a little more of a make-over.  She has lighter skin, lighter hair, and a new hairdo.  She comes in a jean mini skirt, a white long sleeved blouse, a rust colored jacket, and has on over the knee boots.  The questions is; is she enough different to warrant the purchase of the new doll?

Side note:
My Callie was shipped to me from Toys R Us.  I have never had any issues with them before.  This time Callie's box was crushed.

She wasn't damaged, but the box was so smashed that her feet were actually loose from the cardboard.  The plastic twist ties had pulled through the cardboard!

The shipping box was in perfect condition, so Callie's box was squished before she was packed for shipping.  Okay...enough about that...on to the review!

There are two differences that you will notice immediately, compared to last years Callie doll.  The first is that her skin is much lighter, close to Kelsey's skin color.  I would love to know why Toys R Us decided to change this.  Personally, I don't mind the new color or love either color, I'm just curious what prompted the change.

You can see from the photos that her new skin color is drastically different than her predecessors.  I was hoping that since Toys R Us changed her skin color, they also fixed some of the issues with the joints and vinyl, but these still seem to be the same.

The second thing that is an obvious difference from years past is that Callie now has bangs.  The 1st year Callie was released she had bangs, but by the second year, they were gone.  On the original Callie, her bangs were longer, a little fuller, and wider.

The new bangs are obviously the opposite of these, only covering part of her forehead.  Also, some other fans have noted that their Callie's bangs were not cut well.  Not surprising as all of my short haired Dana dolls had horrible haircuts straight from the factory.  So you may have to trim up Callie's new bangs.  But they are cute!

Callie is the fashion guru of the Journey Girls group.  She enjoys picking up specific fashions from the regions she visits on her trips with the other Journey Girls.  I'm not sure that her outfit is the quintessential Australian outfit, but it is fashionable, cute, and practical.  The outfit starts with a rust orange thigh length vest.

Four pockets adorn the front of the vest, although none of them are true pockets, just upper flaps and stitching to look like pockets. a brand collar looks good down or up, depending on your mood.  

As you take her out of the box there are I-fasteners hiding at the top and bottom of the vest...because it might move....OH NO!!!

The sides are gathered at the waist, with an elastic band sewn on the inside.

This gives the vest a fitted look, while still allowing it give for other dolls.  Most of the stitching is well doll, with a few awkward stitches around the waist, being the exception.  As with all Journey Girls outfits, the quality can vary from doll to doll.

Similar to purple top that came in last years "Super Fashion Pack", the white shirt that Callie comes in has long lace sleeves, with lace across the top of the shirt on the front.

Beautiful as the lace is, getting Callie's tiny fingers into her shirt can be a bit challenging as her fingers want to get stuck in the tiny holes.

The back and bottom part of the front of the shirt is normal cotton t-shirt material.  Although the shirt is long, it does not flair like the purple shirt from last year.   Up the back is velcro, but unlike in years past the shirt is cut all the way down, making it possible to take the shirt off without having to go over Callie's head or feet!

YAY!!!!    It's great to have a fancy t-shirt rather than just a plain old white t-shirt.

Callie has a beautiful mid thigh jean skirt with three front pleats.  The middle pleat has brass buttons down the middle of it, with one extra button on the waist line.  Ruffles run down the outside pleats.  Fake stitched in pockets finish out the front of the skirt.

As intricate as the front of the skirt is, the back is just as plain.  The only thing on the back is the Velcro.  Like most Journey Girls outfits that are made of dark material, there is a white mesh material on the inside of the skirt to protect Callie's vinyl from color transfer.

The darling combination of the skirt and the shirt works perfectly with the more utilitarian look of the vest, making this a very fashionable outfit.

But wait...there is one more piece that really adds to Callie's outfit...her shoes!  What!  Usually, I glaze over this section of the review because Journey Girls gives us the same old boring shoes (i.e. plastic flats or sandals), but not this time.

Not only are Callie's boots new, but they are a part of the fashion of her outfit.  The over-the-knee "leather" boots are tan, with a dark brown plastic sole.  At the top of the boots is a shoe lace to tighten the boot, with the tie in the back.

There is just enough play in the leather to make it around Callie's ankle without too much hassle, but it's not so loose that the boot looks wonky.   The boots have a mesh layer inside also.

The best part is that the boot works perfectly with the utilitarian, cutesy vibe the rest of the outfit has.  Take the vest off and the boots look like Callie could go out for a fun time with the rest of the Journey Girls.

Keep the vest on and the boots make her look like she is ready to do some hiking in them.  

So great to see new shoes!!!!  SO AWESOME!!!!!

Okay...calm back down.  The set comes with two more accessories.  To accent Callie's new hairdo, she has a brown leather headband with a double bow at the top.

The color comes close to matching the rust orange vest but isn't quite the same.  Finally, Callie comes with a little yellow snake skin clutch.  A leather wrist strap matches her headband and helps Callie hold her little clutch.

A fabric silver clasp hides the piece of Velcro underneath that actually helps keep the little clutch closed.  Altho tiny, the clutch is cute and adds some color to the outfit.


All ratings are out of 10

Poseability - 7 – She is better than the special edition dolls, but still not great.  Callie's leg joints are not as nice as Ilee's.  Her left arm is super stubborn and her head is down right difficult to move.  Why can't Toys R Us make a good doll joint?  I'm sure there is something with patents, but gee whiz...these things are not great.  I'm not going to complain about the splaying legs because honestly, almost every 18" doll has this issue.  What I do have an issue with is the hip joint does not move correctly to make balancing Callie easy.  Move the leg forward and it also moves out.  So to balance her she often has to have her legs in more of an open position.  The most frustrating part about the joints is that this doll is going to be different than your doll.  Ugh!!!  Why the 7 then?  Because she still has the ability, after some wrestling with her, to tilt her head, to balance (usually), and pose in positions that look natural.  So...still pretty good.

Quality - 7 – All of Callie's clothes are very nice quality, some of the better clothes Journey Girls has put out.  Callie herself is a mixture of good and not so awesome.  Not mentioning the joints, Callie has bang problems, with hair not being even or cut badly.  The new darker lower eyelashes are not always on the eyelid.  Check each doll as some are better than others.  And Callie is the doll with the worst wondering eyes of all of the Journey Girls.  It always seems like one of them is looking off to the side.  Out of a stock of 8 dolls, I found one that is even close to acceptable.  Maybe I am too picky.  Still, Callie has great vinyl and awesome clothes.  My doll's hair is nice and thick, but I know some other people have said that their doll's is not very thick.

Adorableness - 9 – I love Callie with bangs!!!!  I also like the new hair color and I even like her new skin color.  She is a very cute doll with a beautiful face.  I am so glad that Toys R Us has kept the original face mold rather than going to the new one.

Compatibility - 6 – So everything but the boots "fit"...meaning I can get them on an American Girl doll.  But boy are they tight.  The shirt just velcro and barely fits over the AG dolls hands.  The skirt JUST Velcro's., and I am sure that once you move the doll around it will pop open.  The vest fits great thanks to the elastic bands in the sides.  SO not a bad outfit, but not one that can easily go on other brand dolls.

Overall Score - 8 – Australian Callie is amazingly cute.  Her bangs, her outfit, those boots!  All add up to a great doll.  Yes, Callie has some issues, most of which are inherent to the Journey Girls line.  Knowing that the joints aren't going to be perfect and that you are going to have to search for an amazing doll, is part of buying a Journey Girl.  Honestly, though, the last American Girl I bought, I had to search for a doll that had good eyes and great paint...and they are 3 times as expensive (and not as cute).  This iteration of Callie is definitely worth picking up, especially if you don't have an original Callie with bangs.  What do you think about her?  Do you like her bangs?  Comment here...or find us on Facebook.