Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Winter Fun

Kelsey and Dana Go Tubing

On a beautiful Minnesota winter day, meaning the temperature is just above freezing, Dana and Kelsey grab their winter outerwear, getting ready to go tubing.  They grab their matching donut snow tubes after putting on their snow-pants, jackets, hats, and boots.

They arrive at the hill, joyfully bounding up to the top.  Kelsey turns to Dana, "I'll give you a push so you go super fast!"

Dana hesitates, but sits down in her donut tube.  "Let's do it!"

Kelsey begins pushing Dana's back, running behind her as she closes in on the lip of the hill.  Once she crests the lip she gives Dana one final shove, then runs to get her own tube.   Dana squeals with glee as she cruises down the hill. 

Kelsey runs to the lip of the hill, jumping on her tube.   She flies down the hill, laughing as she goes.

Dana slows down as she gets to the flat area at the bottom of the hill, allowing Kelsey to catch up to her.  They both race up the hill again. 

This time down each of them run and jump on their tube together.   Neck and neck, they slide down the hill.   Kelsey begins to pull ahead of Dana, then suddenly she hits a bump.


Dana rushes over to Kelsey, "you okay?"

"Oh yeah," Kelsey giggles as she gets up. 

Grabbing their tubes they make their way up the hill again. 

After many more times down the hill, they call it a day.

"Before we leave, let's get a hot chocolate from the lodge." suggests Kelsey.

"Oooo...that sounds wonderful!" agrees Dana.

Sitting on one of the benches the girls drink their hot chocolates, enjoying the beautiful scenery as well as their hot drinks.

"This was a lot of fun!"

Kelsey nods, "absolutely!"

Monday, February 3, 2020

Amazon Exclusive Journey Girls Outfit

Megan Wearing a Blue Dress

As Toys R Us is still figuring out their online presence they have begun distributing items through Amazon.  Besides the Japan line of dolls, they have released four outfits to go along with the dolls.  Over the next month I will review all four of the outfits.

The first of these four is a royal blue, knee length dress, silver sandals, and a silver handbag.  This outfit, along with the other outfits released this round, have some interesting qualities that we will look at.

Although the dress stops around the knees, the sleeves go to Megan's wrist, with open shoulders and a high neckline.  The blue fabric has a slightly lighter blue, lace overlay.

On the back of the dress is Velcro to help get the dress on and off easily.  Thin fabric hems the sleeves, neckline and hemline of the dress.

Made of really good quality materials, this dress feels very high quality.   The strange thing is it does not feel like the dress is made for the Journey Girls dolls.  Megan looks like she is swimming in this outfit.  The waist is much larger than normal for a Journey Girls outfit, as are the sleeves.  In years past the Journey Girls outfits have fit snugly on the dolls, making it a challenge for the clothes to fit American Girl dolls and Our Generation dolls.  This dress is much looser and fits the American Girls much better.

Not sure if that just happened, or if it is purposeful.  As happy as I am for the versatility to now use the outfit with AG dolls, I am a little disappointed that the outfit doesn't really fit the doll it was originally designed for.

Shoes can make or break an outfit, or in some cases just be there.  These shoes are similar to other sandals/shoes released with other outfits.  The silver leather wraps around Megan's toes, goes up to her ankle as a single large strap, wraps around her ankle, and goes down her heal.

There is Velcro on the back to make it easier to get the sandals on and off.  Unfortunately the sandals are a little difficult to get on.  You really have to shove the doll's toes into the sandal to get the Velcro to close.  Personally, I am not fond of the bottoms of the sandals, as they are so smooth the dolls slide on almost all surfaces.   Maybe only a big deal to people like me that pose the dolls, rather than play with them.

Matching the silver sandals, the handbag is made of the same silver "leather" that the shoes are.  On the flap of the purse are three lines formed by the leather being pinched, giving a little design to the purse.

Also on the flap is a small piece of Velcro to keep Megan's valuables safe inside.  The wrist strap made of a rope like material is a perfect size; big enough to get the purse on Megan's wrist easily, but not big enough that it falls off.  It's a simple, cute purse.

All ratings are out of 10

Value 7 – Although the $14.99 price is less than the normal TRU cost of $19.99, there isn't much to this outfit. The value is really in how well the dress is made, as well as the handbag.  It would be nice to get another accessory.  Maybe a necklace, or a headband or even tights.

Fitment 7 – Megan looks as though she is swimming in this dress, which is strange for an outfit specifically designed for the Journey Girls. My guess is that TRU decided to make the dress fit other types of dolls better.   Even the sandals, which will not fit other dolls, are difficult to get on Megan's feet.

Versatility 6 – The dress doesn't have a lot of options for different uses.  The sandals and purse can be used with many different outfits.   Maybe if you add other accessories you can use the dress in different situations.

Cuteness 6 – This was my least favorite of the four outfits that can be found on Amazon right now.   The fabric is really beautiful, but the design just doesn't lend itself to the Journey Girls.  I still like it, but it's lower on the list than any of the other outfits available from the Japan line.

Overall 7 – Such a well made dress should have a higher score, but the design of the dress just isn't great.  Along with the issues with the fit, and the lack of much in the way of accessories, this outfit is just okay.  If you love the design of the dress than it is worth the $15.  If you don't love the design, I think the outfit is worth closer to $10.  I do really like this outfit on dolls with blue eyes (Meredith, Dana, Kara Rose, Mikaella, and Giovanna) as it brings out their eyes.

As Toys R Us (or TRU Kids) starts the process of redefining themselves, it would be wonderful to see them spend some time with the Journey Girls.   I have been very happy to see their social media presence expand (go follow their Instagram account @journeygirlsofficial or check out their web page - but the product is still the same.  The Journey Girls have always been travelers (maybe that is going to change).  It would be awesome to see accessories that better fit the girl's stories and personalities.  Personally, I would love to have accessories other than purses. One of the things that I love about Our Generation outfits is that many of them come with little accessories like a necklace, a camera, or a drawing pad.   It would be great if there were accessories for the different doll's personalities. Such as a book about animals, or a ticket or map from the local zoo for Dana.  Or some local treats for Mikaella (the baker).  We'll have to see what TRU decides to do.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Journey Girl's Sequin Pop-Star Dress

Chavonne Shows Off her Inner Pop Star with Journey Girl's New Outfit

New outfits for the Journey Girls were released back in September...and I am finally getting around to reviewing the outfits.   One of the most interesting outfits that was released was the Sequin Pop-Star dress.  It includes a one piece top and skirt, knee-high boots, cat ears headband, and a fabric microphone.  A very different outfit from what has been released in the past.  Let's take a look at the outfit.

Since the top and skirt are attached, we will look at that first.  The skirt is a simple black material with tulle over it.  Stopping just above the knees, the skirt flares out at the waist.  It would be nice if the skirt was separate from the top, but it makes sense that it was made this way.  Separating the skirt from the top is a black ribbon. 

Similar to the skirt, the top is made of two layers.  The underneath layer is a white material, similar to the material we see on the inside of many of the Journey Girls outfits to help with color transfer, with a black fishnet material over it.  Attached to the material are gold and rainbow colored sequins.  Arranged in a few different designs, the gold sequins are in vertically lines, flower shapes, and curled lines. 

Between the gold designs are curled designs of multi colored sequins in a rainbow pattern.  Filling the front and back, the sequins go all around the top.  Like most outfits this one has Velcro up but the length is different.the back to make it simple to get on and off.  Even though the skirt and top are not separate, this is still a really nice outfit.

New shoes are always nice.  These boots are similar to some of the boots that have been released in the past, but the length is different.  These are the first that I know of that go to the knees, or just above the knees. 

The normal plastic style of shoe/boot will not work with this style of boot, so Journey Girls made the boot out of fabric.  Like most of the new shoes, these have the slippery plastic soles.  Attached to the soles is a black semi stretchy material that makes up the boot.  To me the material makes the boot feel more like a sock than a boot, but it does make it easier to get on than a stiffer material would.  At the top of the of the boot are strings to tighten the boot and keep it up on Chavonne's legs. 

I think the little bow at the back of the boot is cute.  The best thing about these boots is that they are the perfect match to the top.  They really pull this outfit together!

Often times hair accessories are elastic with something on them...a bow, a flower, some sequins.  Little cat ears have not been done before.  And glitter cat ears at that!  That's right, atop the ribbon and elastic headband, two little fuchsia cat ears stand up at attention. 

The fuchsia matches the color in the top.   A very cute and creative addition to an original style outfit.

Probably the most interesting part of this outfit is the microphone, for many reasons.  First, it is an accessory with a story.  Purses and headbands can be for anything.  A pink sparkly microphone can only be for a pop star.  Okay, maybe not only for a pop star, but it does say confidence and awesomeness if you do anything with a pink microphone.  Second, the microphone is made of fabric.  An interesting choice for an object that is normally made of plastic or metal.   It is kind of like it's supposed to be a fun pillow rather than an actual microphone. 

Third, it's a new and thoughtful accessory, in my mind, made especially for Chavonne.  Why Chavonne?  When the Journey Girls were originally introduced they each had a story and personality. 

The Japan line mentions each girl's interests on their boxes, but not to the degree that the original stories were fleshed out.  Originally, Chavonne was the singer of the group.  It is awesome to see accessories that go along with the girl's personalities.  Two complaints with the microphone (both minor).  One; is that this microphone is huge and does not fit in Chavonne's hand very well.  And two; the tag on it is larger than the microphone.  

You can't even tuck it anywhere.  Spare yourself the frustration, just cut it off. Other than that...I love it!  A plastic one just couldn't get the glitter and look of this fabric one.

All ratings are out of 10

Value 8 – It would be awesome to have the skirt separate from the top, but it also makes sense that it is not.  There are a couple of new accessories in this set, plus new boots, which help the value.  Like most of the Japan line, this outfit is well made.

Fitment 9 – Besides the microphone, everything fits well.   The boots can be a little bit of a challenge getting over the foot, but then they slip on easily.  As with the blue outfit, this one is a baggier than Journey Girls outfits of the past.   It still fits and looks good, it's just loose compared to past outfits.

Versatility 7 – More versatility would have been available if the skirt was separate from the top, but even with them attached there is some versatility to the outfit.   This could be a fancier outfit if paired with the right shoes and maybe a scarf or sweater.  The boots are the most versatile part of the outfit.  Cat ear headbands have some versatility...but can't be used for every outfit.   And although I would love to have a pink glitter microphone to speak into at all times, it's probably not usefully for everyday outfits.

Cuteness 9 – I love the colored sequins on the top.  The skirt is a simple but cute design.  And the boots really help make the outfit.   I can't forget about the cutest part of the outfit...the glitter cat ears.  Just saying "glitter cat ears" is cute.  This is a very fun outfit that fits Chavonne's personality perfectly.

Overall 8 – This is a strong 8.  The outfit is made really well, it is very cute, and it has some great new accessories.  There are no real issues, just small things that can be improved on.  This is definitely an outfit that you should pick up.  It is well worth the $14.99.  Find it on Amazon.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Journey Girl's 2019 Special Edition Dolls

Journey Girls Releases the Japan Special Edition Doll

As Toys R Us continues re-establishing themselves, they also have begun investing in their brands, including the Journey Girls.  This year there are two versions of the Special Edition doll.  One is the standard blue eyed, blonde haired doll that permeates the Journey Girls line. 

The second is a brunette with hazel eyes and dark skin.  It's really nice that TRU gives us a doll other than the blonde haired blue-eyed dolls that out sell all of the other dolls. 

Both dolls have Callie's face mold.  The doll has no name, allowing for you to name her yourself.  She comes with a beautiful red dress, gold sandals, a matching necklace, bracelet, and barrette, a fur stole, and a hand purse.  As this doll is a special edition, she costs a little more.  Compared to the standard dolls, at $34.99, this doll is slightly more at $49.99.  Is she worth it?

The doll comes in a brown cardboard box that opens from the top.

The standard Special Edition box is inside.  Curved plastic shows off the beautiful new doll inside.

Getting her out is a challenge and will ultimately destroy her box.

Cut the top loose of the sides (there are tape circles and glue around the top of the plastic handled top).

Pull it off, and then you can pull the backer cardboard with the doll attached out of the box.

There are pieces of string holding the dolls hair to the cardboard.  Cut it, as well as the I-fasteners that are on the back of the cardboard.

You will also have to undo the twists around her ankles.  One the front of the cardboard, release the dolls arms by cutting the plastic straps.

There is a clear rubber band around her neck that can be cut, or pulled off of the holder.

A piece of clear plastic is under the front of the dress.  Find the I-fasteners to release the dress from the plastic.

Finally there are I-fasteners holding the dress pleats and the stole to the doll.  Once you find these you should have a doll free from her backing!

I am going to make a few comments on the doll itself before moving onto the dress.  It is wonderful to get the Callie mold as a new doll.  I really like the darker skinned doll, but the blonde works really well also.  As with most of the Callie dolls, her eyes look a little off.  This has been an issue with the Callie dolls for years, mostly because the shape of her eye sockets make it very noticeable if the eyes are even a little bit off. 

It isn't anything that would make me second guess buying the doll, it's just something to note.   When Toys R Us was open I would search through their entire stock to find one Callie doll with both eyes looking straight ahead.   Right now that isn't an option unless you are in the New Jersey or Atlanta area.

The bigger issue is still the joints.  My blonde doll has one arm that moves incredibly easy, while the other one is very hard to move.  Still, she is okay.  My brunette is not.  When I went to turn her head it snapped off. 

Her arms are also very tight.  When my second doll arrived, I slowly turned her head.  It became loose, and then fell off.   The same area of the joint snapped off.  Although it's not very difficult to fix the joint and make it work better, it shouldn't have to be done on a brand new doll.   

Journey Girls reached out to me and assured me that they are working on the issue.  If you buy the doll for a child, move the joints before giving the doll to them.  Just in case!  If the joint does break, check out this YouTube video on how to fix the joint. 

Okay...on to the dress.   As frustrated as I was with the joints on my doll, I was also just as much enamored by the quality and beauty of her dress.  The bright cardinal red satin dress has a high cut in the front and a flowing train on the back. 

Large pleats at the front of the dress make it possible to see the gold design on the underside of the dress. 

Part of the reason this dress feels so well made is because of the red and gold satin fabric on the inside.  The Australian line dolls also have a beautiful satin dress, but the fabric is thinner, because it is a single layer, compared to the double layer on this doll's dress.   Because of the pleats on the front, the dress can stick out and ride a little high on the doll.   On the top, the material is gathered, creating waves or wrinkles. 

A fabric flower made of the same material as the underside of the dress is on the right side of the waist.  Thick straps lead to a short v-neck that is accented by a small fold over collar. 

There is a small amount of tulle underneath the dress (almost like a tutu) to help fluff the dress at the dolls waist. 

Like most Journey Girl's dresses, this one has Velcro from the waist to the neckline on the back of the dress. 

Although this dress is fairly simple compared to some of the past Special Edition dresses, it is one of the most well made dresses, and the feel of it is awesome!

Toys R Us has done a great job of adding elements to make the Special Edition doll...well..special.  Since the release of Giovanna with the Italy release, all the Special Edition dolls have had pierced ears.  It's a really great feature that differentiates the dolls from the main line.  Along with the earrings, other matching jewelry is included with the Special Edition dolls.  This years doll has earrings that look similar to a flower, with a "diamond" in the middle and gold petals surrounding it.  

Continuing with this theme, the doll wears a gold necklace with on of the flowers as a charm.  The necklace is closer to a choker so that it shows above the v-neckline.  A bracelet with the same flowers also features "pearls" in a flower, two pearls, pattern.

She also has a barrette that is decorated with three of the flowers. 

The addition of the jewelry really makes the doll look elegant.  It is a great addition and can be used with many other outfits.

It's nice that Toys R Us has gotten away from the plastic flats that every doll used to come with. 

Although the basic design of the shoes that come with this doll is very familiar, they are enough different that they feel new.  The sandal bottoms are the same as many other we have seen in the past.  As I have said in the past, the only issue I have with these is how slippery they are on the bottom. 

A thick gold fabric strap goes across the top of her foot.  On my doll's shoes there is some minimal fraying along the edges of the fabric.   Nothing horrible.  Identical fabric goes around the ankle and is attached to the back of the shoe at the heal.  Two small gold fabric flowers are on the strap that goes around the ankle....a little off to the side, on top of the area that has Velcro.

The stole wraps around the dolls shoulders and clasps in the front.  It can be difficult to get the clasp undone, but once you figure out the angle for yours, it's pretty easy.  

A light tan faux fur on top, while underneath is a silky, light gold material.  

There is nothing fancy about the stole, and in my opinion, the dress doesn't need it.  That being said, it is nice and well made.

Last we have the little hand purse.  With fabric matching the dolls sandal, the little gold purse goes well with the outfit.   It is a simple pouch with a fold-over top.

A small piece of Velcro on the pouch makes it so that you can close the purse.  Instead of having the Velcro attach to another piece of Velcro, the entire inside of the purse is made of a soft material that sticks to the Velcro.

It makes it much easier to close the purse.  On the right side of the purse is a red tassel, tying in the color of the dress.   The purse is cute and the doll can hold it with no real problem. more last.  Normally I don't really talk about the dolls underwear.  Since (some of) the dolls have been being released with underwear (dolls with skirts get underwear, but one's with pants do not) they have been about the same.  Although the Japan release has seen some improvements in the quality of the underwear, there hasn't been much to note.  This doll comes with some fancy underwear.

A light gold silk material, like the material on the underside of the stole, makes up the majority of the underwear.  Looped lacy material adorn the openings along the waist and legs.   Since the dress has a higher cut in the front these fancy underwear sometime peek out, so it's nice that they were included.

Note - As I mentioned before Toys R US and Just Play reached out to me about the joints.  They have been working on a solution to the issue.  A doll was sent to me with the new/improved joints.  When I first moved the new doll's arms a familiar clicking feeling greeted me.  As I slowly and gently moved the arm up and down the joint became smoother.  There is still a small amount of clicking or getting stuck, but nothing like my other doll.  The neck joint also stuck a little at first, which made me really nervous, but with very little force, I was able to turn her head.

This joint is AWESOME!

There is enough resistance that the head stays in place, even when it is tilted.

Not enough resistance that the head can't move.

There is no clicking in the joint.  It moves smoothly and stays where it is left.

I hope that Toys R Us and Just Play are able to consistently replicate this joint as that has been a concern.  If this doll is any indicator...Journey Girls fans are in luck, because it is a great improvement!

All ratings are out of 10

Value 7 (10) – Why two scores?  Because of the joints.  With the old joints, this doll makes me nervous.  Even though my blonde doll's joints are better than my original brunette, the joints are still stiff and click into place.  The new doll has amazing joints that work perfectly.  As with most of the Special Edition dolls, Toys R Us puts a little more into the outfit and accessories than with the main line dolls. This dress is one of the best made dresses that they have released.  The necklace, barrette, bracelet, stole, and purse are all great accessories.

Fitment 9 – The dress fits perfectly, although the cut of the dress is a little high in the front.  All the accessories fit well, although the necklace is tricky to latch and the stole can be difficult to hook.  Otherwise there are no issues with fit, unlike some of the other Journey Girls that have recently been released.

Versatility 7 – As with Special Edition dolls of the past, the dress has very little versatility.  It is always going to be a fancy ball gown, which is fine, as it is an awesome gown.  The other accessories are all able to be used with many other outfits.

Cuteness 9 - If you can't tell I like this dress!  It is awesome! The design is unique, with the long train and high cut up front.  It's made of great material.  And the color is beautiful.  The dolls themselves are also extremely cute.  I love the Callie mold with the new skin and eye colors.

Overall 7 (9) – Without the joint issues, this new Special Edition doll is a 9.  With the joint issues, it's a seven...maybe below.   It's hard to give a great score when the doll breaks or has the potential to break.  However, if Toys R Us has changed the tooling and was able to fix the joint issue than this doll is amazing. The dress is so well made, designed, and pretty.  All of the accessories are beautiful.  Really a great doll.   And if you are one of the unfortunate ones to get a doll that has some joint issues, here is how to fix it.