Sunday, December 2, 2018

Meredith: Journey Girl's in Japan

Reviewing the New Japan Release Meredith Doll

Amidst all of the sadness (and some anger) of Toys R Us closing due to bankruptcy, it was rumored that the Journey Girls may get a second life.  I believed, as did many others, that this meant another company would buy the rights to the Journey Girls brand from Toys R Us as part of the bankruptcy deal, then sell then in their store/online.  The investors at TRU had other ideas though.  They ended up filing to keep the Journey Girls (along with Imaginarium, Fast Lane, and a few other intellectual property rights) and sell the toys themselves to companies.   This has made it so that they Journey Girls live on, but in a limited way at this time.

Journey Girls can be found at Kroger owned stores around the country.  From what I have found online, they sell last years Australian release dolls, and the new Super Fashion Pack, but only in store, nothing online.  Shopko has two dolls from last years release (Kyla, and Mikaella), the new Dana and Meredith doll, and the Super Fashion Pack, both in stores and online.  Right now, there is no information as to if more of the dolls will show up on shelves.  Hopefully they will.  Keep an eye on the Facebook page and on Instagram for news.

For this new release Meredith comes in a cornflower blue sweater, with a black plaid faux long sleeve shirt underneath. She is wearing a knee-length black leather skirt, black and gray loafers, and has a bright yellow hand bag.  Meredith is the same doll as the Australian release, just with new clothes.

That means that she comes with the same issues as last years dolls.  Her joints are tight to the point that they are hard to move.  And knowing how the joints work, it makes me nervous to move them when they stick, because the plastic rod that holds the joint together is liable to break.  My Meredith's head and right arm are extremely bad.  Her left arm is okay.  You can lessen the likelihood of the joint breaking by slowly moving it up and down.  You will feel the joint pop into resting places as you do this.  Keep moving it until those pops are less noticeable.  If you hear clicking when you move the joint, that is a bad sign.  The joint could already be breaking.  Again, very cautiously move the joint back and forth to help make it less vulnerable to breaking.

Before Toys R Us changed to the new face molds, the Journey Girls sat decently.  They had the typical 18" doll issue of spreading their legs very wide to stay upright, but it was close to how American Girls and Our Generation dolls sat.  The newer dolls are just a few degrees from doing the splits completely.  And Meredith won't sit at all unless you put her arms back.

This is due to where the leg joints are placed in the cloth body, and the fact that the Journey Girls have not butts.  American Girls and Our Generation dolls have the legs further forward, and then have stuffing in the back.  Journey Girls legs are more in the middle of the doll, so when they are moved for the doll to sit, she can't really do it without some help.

The last rant I have is about the vinyl.   I don't know if the vinyl has changed since the Journey Girls were released.  What I do know is that outfits stain the Journey Girls dolls and don't stain other brands of dolls.  Even after washing outfits I have still found stain marks on my dolls.  Some of the worst stains were on the dolls when I bought them (like Chavonne) There have also been issues with discolored spots in the vinyl(my very 1st Kelsey has this issue).

On to the review of Meredith's outfit.

Meredith comes wearing a bright cornflower blue sweater with cuffs, a collar, and an untucked bottom of a checked shirt.  A tight weave and a polyester fabric make the sweater kind of flat.  This is definitely not a heavy wool sweater.  I personally really like this color.

It brings Meredith's eye color out really well.  The black and white checked shirt under the sweater looks like it is a separate shirt.  Unfortunately that is not the case.  Sewn into the sweater, the shirt is really only the cuffs collar and the untucked end of the short.  It would have been awesome to have the shirt separate from the sweater.  This design makes it much easier to dress the doll as you don't have to hold the shirt sleeve as the sweater goes on.  As with most Journey Girls tops, this one Velcros in the back, only opening 3/4 of the way down.

Meaning you have to slide the sweater up Meredith's legs.  Inside the sweater is a layer of white fabric, protecting the vinyl from the bright blue pigment. The length on this top is perfect and the fit is great!

The black "leather" skirt is knee length on Meredith.  Although the skirt will rise up higher, especially after you sit her down.  When Meredith sits down the skirt becomes a micro skirt as Meredith's spread out legs pushes the skirt up higher on her body.

The "leather" skirt is made of three pieces of fabric, a middle "V" section with two pieces that wrap around to the back on either side.  On the back of the skirt a one inch slit at the top makes it easier to get the skirt on.  Velcro on the slit holds the skirt up.

There is a second layer of black fabric under the leather.  It is shorter than the leather skirt, so you don't see it at first.  The skirt's fabric is thick, strong, and really nice.  Even though it is does not fit Meredith well when she sits, this skirt is still awesome!

Journey Girls have come with the same types of shoes for awhile, but this year most of the shoes are brand new designs.

Meredith comes with black loafer style shoes, which is a new design.  There is grey on the tongue of the loafer, but nothing much else distinguishing on it.  Like most of the plastic shoes that Journey Girls makes, these loafers go on easily.

I love this design and I'm glad to see a different shoe other than the dress flats that we were getting for so many years!

Meredith's purse is a bright yellow, leather, handbag.  The straps aren't quite long enough to go around her shoulder, but they will fit around her wrist.

At the top of the purse a piece of Velcro keeps the purse closed.  A small "heart" charm hangs from the handle, made of the same leather as the bag.  This purse is made really well.

The leather itself is very nice, but so are the seams and the design.  I do wish it could be worn around the shoulder, but it looks lovely on Meredith's wrist, bringing a pop of color to the outfit!

A few years back Journey Girls started to release their dolls with underwear.  Yay!  It wasn't the best a matter of fact it was kind of awful.  Last year with the Australian release two underwear accessory packs were available, both of them were made really well.  Meredith comes with better undies than we've seen in the past.

They are made of a stretchy cotton, rather than the stiff cotton that the old ones were made of.  These underwear actually fit on the doll's waist and legs, compared to the old ones that were baggy.  A nice unexpected surprise

All ratings are out of 10

Value 8 – The design of this outfit is good.  Having a sweater over a long sleeve shirt is a great look, but I wish that it really was a sweater over a shirt.  Compared to Dana's new outfit, Meredith's seems like it is missing some accessories.  That being said, the skirt is made extremely well, the new shoes are really cute, and the accent purse is made really well.  I am not fully including the doll in this review number, as the doll would bring the outfit down to a 5 or 6.  These joints are just not good!

Fitment 8 – Perfect fit for the clothes when Meredith is standing, but sit her down and the skirt covers nothing.  That really isn't the fault of the clothes designer, as the skirt is about the right width if Meredith's legs bent straight out when she sat, it really is the design of the doll.  The skirt could be a bit looser on the bottom to accommodate the leg spread though. 

Versatility 8 – Again, if the top was actually two pieces this would get a higher rating, but since it is one piece, there isn't as much that you can do with it.  The black leather skirt has huge potential to be used with many different types of outfits.  As do the shoes.  They are great for school outfits, casual outfits, they go with jeans or skirts.  Good job with the shoes!  And an accent purse is always welcome!

Cuteness 7 –  Not my favorite outfit, especially in this release (oh I hope they release Ilee!!!).  But it is cute.  I especially love how much it brings out the color in Meredith's eyes.  The skirt and shoes are my favorite part of the outfit.  I feel like the top could be all sorts of different things and it would still work for this outfit.  Maybe a Japanese sports team jersey, since Meredith is the sporty girl.

Overall 8 – It is better than other release outfits.  Every release there are outfits that really stand out is great and others that feel like the design team says, "well we need a few more outfits, what can we piece together?".   That's what this outfit feels like.  It has no vibe specific to Japan, nothing that says this is obviously Meredith's outfit, nothing that stands out as extraordinary.  It's a good outfit, just nothing outstanding.   If you don't love it, wait on buying the doll.  Hopefully the other dolls will be released early 2019 and we can get some of the other outfits!