I first discovered Harumika during one of my aimless roaming missions in the Target toy department. I think I was looking at the Moxie Teenz dolls, and Harumika was in that same aisle. There were only a few sets on the shelves, and they weren't prominently displayed or anything, but the sparkling pink and black packages and unusual name caught my eye. I read all of the boxes and peered inside them. I found myself intrigued by the no-sew fashion design concept and also by all of the colorful fabrics that were included in the sets. I bought a variety of sets for my eldest niece because she is passionate about fashion design and loves to watch Project Runway.
I can't find Harumika at my Target store anymore, but they do carry them at Toys R Us (not necessarily online, but in the stores there's a nice selection). There's a good selection at Amazon, too, but I never trust those prices. I have a mannequin to de-box and share with you so that you can get a better idea of what these toys are all about. This one is "Victoria" and I think I got her for $17.99 at Target a while back:
|Back of the box|
The doll detaches from the cardboard incredibly easily (it's just the very flexible clear rubber bands holding her in). Those three pieces of trim on the upper left are held in with plastic ties, and they are the hardest things to get out. The ties leave small holes in the ribbon.
|I have some work to do before I can recycle that cardboard.|
Here's Victoria against a blue background so that you can see her body a bit better:
She is pure white with unpainted features. The wig is awful. I don't think it is possible to get it to stay on the head without glue. Strong glue. It looks unruly when it's on, too, so I don't see the point in gluing it. Oh well--who needs it. This toy is not about the wig!
|She has textured boxer short underwear and an athletic style bra.|
Here are the slits on the back of the mannequin:
Those holes in the plastic have rubber inside them that grabs and holds the fabric when it is pressed into the slit. It works really well. The slits on the arms and legs are more useful for the specially-cut fabric that is available for making pants and shirts. The fabric in this set is just rectangular, so we'll see what can be done just with that.
You take a piece of fabric and wrap it around the model:
Then you push the ends of the fabric into the rubber-lined holes until everything stays put.
|It even looks kinda cute in back--like ruching!|
|Ta-da! Fashion designer extraordinaire!|
|This one is kind of messy in back...|
To make these next dresses, I just grabbed a rectangle of some purple coat liner I had laying around and added that to the mix:
At this point, I am starting to feel some serious fashion skills emerging from within! I might have missed my calling! But seriously, I think it is great how quickly you can get the hang of this toy and start to feel good at it. It is very empowering.
I have given both of my nieces (ages 11 and 5) collections of Harumika as gifts and have had a blast doing some awesome designing with both girls. These toys are accessible to that whole age range, but perhaps girls in the 6-10 age group will be the most excited about them.
Our extended family played a wonderful game with Harumika a few summers ago. Two of us were chosen as judges and the rest were contestants in a Project Runway style challenge. The judges would announce a category (ball gown, cocktail dress, most original design, etc) and then the contestants would take turns selecting a piece of fabric or trim from a big pile (this got pretty competitive!) until everyone had two or three pieces. We'd then have 10 minutes to complete our looks before the judges would give their critiques and announce a winner. It was so fun, even the boys (and men) joined in. Here's a snapshot of a dress my niece made for one of the contests:
|Isn't she talented?|
|Who do you think should have won?|
Bottom line? This is a fantastic toy. It is easy to use for a wide age range and is highly rewarding. You can have a big fabric collection without purchasing tons of sets or spending lots of money. If you are looking for even more variety, there are several add-on sets that will increase your designing options, like a party skirt attachment for the dress forms or a dog accessory pack.
When my kids were younger, I was always on the lookout for things we could do together that were fun for me and them. This toy fits that bill. I could play with it for hours, and if a child comes along who wants to play with me, that's even better. It seems to be getting harder and harder to find, which I hope doesn't mean that it is being discontinued. This is a toy I'd like to be able to pull out and and share with my grandkids.
From the box: 6 and up. I think 6-10 is the ideal range but kids a bit younger and adults a lot older can also appreciate it!
Good value, especially in terms of dollar per hour of contented play time.
Mannequin is plain plastic, with a horrible wig, but the fabrics and trims are very nice quality and the fabric-tucking system works really well.
Lots of plastic garbage and very little recycling. Easy to get everything out quickly.
No. This is more like a craft project than a doll.
Incredibly versatile. You can keep adding new fabrics to this toy for endless design possibilities. There are also add-on sets that increase your options. You can make up family/party games or set individual design challenges.