Journey Girls Dolls...a Little Rant
I am going to start off by apologizing for the length of this post and also warn you that it is a bit of a rant on the state of the Journey Girls. That being said...I would love you comments on how you fell about the Journey Girls and what could be improved. You may now continue reading...
As I was discussing when the new Journey Girls would be coming out with one of the local store employees, they mentioned that the Journey Girls are not a real hot seller. I wondered about this, especially how it may relate to the release of the new Journey Girl dolls.
Journey Girls sales are very different than American Girl sales. Since American Girl started in 1986 they have sold over 153 million dolls!!! That is 5.1 million dolls per year for 30 years. In contrast Journey Girls hit their 1 millionth doll sold this past year. That means that Toys R Us sells about 200,000 dolls per year. Comparing the two brands is not really that fair since they are not on the same spectrum, but I would hope that Toys R Us is striving for numbers similar to American Girls.
|Ce;ebration of the one millionth Journey Girls doll sold!|
None of the social media took off the way it was hoped it would. Instagram has 2,200 some posts under #JourneyGirls. 1/4 of the photos with that tag have nothing to do with the Journey Girls. And only a few of them are from Toys R Us. Most are fan photos (which is awesome). For reference, #AGIG (stands for American Girl Insta Gram) has over 600,000 posts and American Girls official hashtag #Joy2EveryGirl has 60,000 posts. Granted American Girls account has been around longer, but it gives an idea of Journey Girls popularity. Maybe a better comparison though, would be to Our Generation dolls, which has 1,800 posts for their #ogdolls.
Who cares though? Well, Toys R Us probably does, as well as their investors. And why should that matter? They determine whether or not, we the collectors, will have Journey Girls to collect and play with. If there are not enough sales, or if the sales don't increase by the percentages they hope they will, the company may not produce the dolls anymore. There is no indication that Toys R Us is stopping production of the Journey Girls, but there are suggestions that the line is struggling.
Since it's introduction, the Journey Girls usually have two releases each year; one in February or March, and another closer to August or September. So far this year, there has been no introduction of new dolls. New outfits have come out, as well as accessory packs, and "new" furniture (in reality most of the furniture is the same, just new colors or less accessories with the furniture), but no new dolls.
|Set is being clearance out. It's being replaced by the amazingly different set seen below.|
|Huge improvements! Wait wasn't there an area rug in this set last year?|
Also, for the last three years the Journey Girls have traveled to a new city with the beginning of the new year. In past years the city has been changed as the new dolls come out in spring. The box art on the front and back change depending on where they are traveling that year. However, there is no indication that the Girls will be leaving Italy this year, if the box art is any indication.
|Kyla is visiting London (as you can see from her box).|
|Mikaela is traveling to Italy. Will she ever leave?|
|More items then normal are being clearanced out this year.|
|Not as bad as with Mikaela, but still Toys R Us had too many Giovannas.|
In that spirit, I thought, "What would I change if I ran the Journey Girl line?" So here are my thoughts:
Make the dolls higher quality
The Journey Girls are good dolls. They have beautiful faces, with gorgeous eyes. The body style, with the 1/2 vinyl chest piece, is a wonderful design. But the dolls have some issues. The arm and leg joints are not amazing. It would be great to have more articulation in the shoulder, allowing the arms to go out to the side more. The leg joints cause the legs to splay out in the splits because of the way they are situated. And both the arm and leg joints have issues with breaking. The joints could be better if they were similar to American Girl joints or Adora Friends dolls. Both have cup and string joints.
|Issues with joints breaking or coming apart sometimes occur with the Journey Girls.|
The vinyl itself has had issue with discoloration. A whole batch of dolls came off of the assembly line and made it to stores with dark vinyl mixed into the peach colored vinyl. My Kelsey has this issue. She has spots, some that look like freckles, others that look like bruises. The spots that look like freckles I made look like freckles and added more freckles. But the bruises will not come off, even with vinyl doll stain remover. The issue showed up in the London line in Callie, Dana, and Kelsey. There is also an issue with color transfer to the vinyl. Although the color transfer is really a problem with the clothing dye, Journey Girls are more susceptible to the color transfer because of the vinyl that is used. Use of a higher quality vinyl would alleviate most of the color issues.
|Black marks left buy the houndstooth skirt on Giovanna.|
|Paris Chavonne came with these lovely marks on her from her dark blue dress.|
|After wearing the purple Celebrate dress Callie had marks on her back and across her chest.|
|Although the rooted hair is nice, it could be improved with a little more of it.|
And that is the last thing that Toys R Us needs to improve on for the dolls; consistency. Each dolls joints are different feeling; some are tight, others are loose, others have one tight and one loose. Some dolls have their eyes perfectly straight in their sockets, others are cross eyed (although, American Girl has the same issue, just not quite as bad). The sewn seam in the back is sometimes straight, sometimes crooked. On one of my dolls there was actually stuffing popping out of the seam! I have had two of my dolls come to me with marks on them.
American Girl dolls are great, but in my opinion are not perfect. The Adora Friends doll are much closer to perfect. The joints are better, the hair is rooted and there is more of it, and the vinyl is great (they even have painted nails and shading). I don't like the face sculpt as much as the Journey Girls, I am not a huge fan of the blinky eyes, and I prefer the Journey Girls neck joint. That being said, if Toys R Us mimics any doll, The Adora Friends doll is who I feel they should mimic. And at $69.99, they are a decent price.
|One of the best made 18" dolls (In My Opinion) are the Adora Friends dolls. This is Alyssa|
|Not only are her toes painted, but she had blush on the tops of her feet.|
|Look how cute her hands are...although I do like the definition in the Journey Girls hands better.|
Make the clothes higher quality
I have had three Journey Girl outfits transfer color to a Journey Girl doll straight out of the box. Because of this I usually soak all of the clothes I buy for the Journey Girls. I recently bought a new dress from Journey Girls and did not soak it, believing that Toys R US had solved the issue with color transfer. I was severely disappointed when I found black marks on Giovanna because of a skirt I had put on her. The dye issue has obviously not been resolved.
|Marks from the purple Celebrate dress. All Journey Girls clothes should be washed before they are put on your dolls.|
Consistence is also an issue with the Journey Girls clothing. Stitching is not always great. Size can vary wildly from outfit to outfit; even two of the same outfit can have a different fit on the same doll. Materials on some outfits are high quality and on others are not very good. Outfits at the same price range are drastically different in quality.
|Although very cute, this outfit is much more simple and has less to it then the outfit below.|
|And both outfits cost the same amount.|
|Ooo...lots of shoes! But all the same.|
|Toys R Us...I need some different styles of shoes!|
For some of you that have been collecting the Journey Girls for the whole five years that they have been out, you may have seen outfits that seem familiar. There have been a few outfits that have shown back up, in a little different form, a few years later. Also in many of the smaller accessory packs there will be a new scarf and mittens, but the hat is the same one that comes in another set. And I won't mention the shoes. The only real variety in the shoes is the color.
|Those glasses look suspiciously similar. And I think I have 4 iPhones with Meredith on them...at least put a picture of a different girl on the phone.|
|Pink and blue.|
|Pink and blue.|
|Pink and blue...oh and lavender!|
|Love the variety of clothing, but wish there was even more.|
I am not a marketing guru. I am not in sales. I have no knowledge of how a company's advertisement for a product translate into sales. I do know that social media is a huge avenue of free advertising (or complaining) for products. I have also seen how other products I buy pull me in to want to purchase them.
When I began this blog and subsequently the Journey Girl Facebook page, I was disappointed with the lack of information out there about the Journey Girls. I was a bit surprised that there wasn't a Journey Girls Facebook page. I am still a little surprised at how little activity there is with the Journey Girls on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest (I have Twitter account too, but haven't used that yet). It's understandable though in the sense that Toys R Us is a toy store selling many brands of toys. Journey Girls is one of there exclusives, but it's not their only product. And from the sales information I shared before, The Journey Girls are not a high income product (I would assume). That being said, it would be great to see a little more support for the community of fans that the Journey Girls have created.
So, here is my two cents on what may help the Journey Girls along on the road towards American Girl like sales: Release Dates, Global Releases, and Support (and the aforementioned quality improvements).
There are sites that start talking about the new Girl of the Year (American Girl doll) 6 months ahead of time! Excitement is generated by anticipation. Without knowing when something will be released, there can be no chatter about what the new items will look like, what people will buy, there is no anticipatory excitement. The only "wow" factor is when you walk into the store and see the product. "Wow! I didn't know they were coming out with that." Release dates don't have to be the same time each year, and they can be pushed back, if need be. Having releases narrowed down to the month is still better than guessing if a product will ever be out.
Along with release dates is the need for releases around the globe to be similar. It is disheartening to see Chavonne on the back of the box in Australia and yet never be able to purchase her! Now, not everything needs to be distributed to every market that Toys R Us services, but not having the main dolls out in all the countries is a shame. Especially when they are all on the back of the box. Chavone and Callie are great examples of this issue, but so is Kelsey. When the first wave a Italy Journey Girls was released, Kelsey was shown on the back of the box with a beautiful stripped maxi skirt on. At one point I found her online in Canada. I went every week to at least two Toys R Us's hoping to find Kelsey in her maxi dress, only to find out months later that she was a special edition, only released in Canada. Not cool!
|Why can't Chavonne go to Australia?|
|Why is Kelsey wearing an outfit that was never available?|
So there you have it!
|One of my favorite photos of Kelsey!|
Now it's your turn. What do you think will make Journey Girls better? How can they become an amazing doll? Would you be willing to pay more if the doll was better? Comment below...or join the discussion on Facebook.