There's a lot to see here, so without any more delay, let's look at Our Generation Jenny and her Gourmet Kitchen Set. Fasten your seat belts.
|Our Generation Jenny and her Gourmet Kitchen.|
So, I actually first saw this set on the Target website. I was searching the supply of Our Generation articulated horses, and my kitchen radar went off. The set sells for $61.99 and comes in grey and red. While I might have slightly preferred the red kitchen in the pictures, that color was temporarily sold out, and I thought the grey was more realistic.
I ordered the grey set and eagerly awaited its arrival. Here it is:
It looks amazing. Everything is tantalizingly displayed in an enormous cardboard window box. You can see all of the accessories clearly, and they look great. I was delighted with this purchase, and couldn't wait to rip it open and start my review.
However, before I had a chance to de-box this set, I was at one of my local Target stores and noticed that they were carrying a similar-looking product, "Jenny and her Gourmet Kitchen Set." This set comes in a less-flashy cardboard box with no window. It has all of the exact same kitchen items, but also includes Jenny herself and some extra outfit pieces. It costs exactly $61.99--the same as the other set. So...which one would you pick? The over-packaged kitchen on its own, or the economy-packed kitchen with a free $20 doll and outfit? Not a hard decision, at least for me. I returned my mail-order kitchen and bought the Jenny set from my local store. Interestingly, the other Target store nearby carries the kitchen set I ordered in the mail--and not the Jenny-plus-kitchen set.
I hope I'm not the only one who thinks this is really strange. Are they doing some market research on us over a Battat? Are they trying to test whether we think a fancy display box is more important than the actual the contents of the box? If so, I think it's a risky experiment. If I had opened that large window box and wasn't able to return it, I'd feel pretty cheated when I realized that if I had simply gone to a different store, I could have gotten a much better set for the exact same price.
|Same price, very different products.|
|R.V. having fun yet?|
The outside of the camper is made out of grey plastic. The plastic is a bit flimsy, but the size is very impressive. Inside the camper, there's a kitchen and a little sitting area. The kitchen is quite detailed and seems to have a good number of accessories.
The Our Generation dolls would be very cramped inside of this R.V. A doll couldn't lie down on that little couch (it's too narrow), but I think a bed pulls out from the area underneath the couch. That's pretty cool.
The R.V. set is neat, but for two dollars more, I think Jenny's Gourmet Kitchen is a better deal--especially because you essentially get a free doll.
The kitchen set comes in a very plain cardboard box. There is no plastic on the box and no way to confirm the contents. It seems a little hard to believe that they've packed an entire kitchen set and a doll into this box. It's a big box, but it's not enormous.
This set also seems to include a book--which I did not see in the other set.
There's a huge list of contents on the back of the box. I scanned this pretty thoroughly before I returned the other set, and everything that I could see in the other set is included here--plus the addition of a doll, her outfit, her cooking clothes, an extra pair of shoes, and a book...and maybe more.
With one end of the box open, you can see how everything fits like puzzle pieces into the small space:
I left the two big kitchen pieces in the box at first. Here is everything else that is in this set:
The first thing I noticed is that Jenny is an Our Generation poseable doll. This is fantastic because ever since my review of Charlotte (who is not poseable), I have been wanting to see what this other style of Our Generation doll is like. The poseable dolls cost around $23 on their own, which makes this kitchen set an even better deal.
Jenny is really cute, with bright olive eyes and very long blonde hair. She comes wearing a ruffled white collared blouse, a pink corduroy skirt, underwear, socks and yellow shoes.
My doll's face is warped, which makes one of her eyes glance off to the side a little bit. Also, she has the same purple lips that my Charlotte has. I don't think this is a great color choice for lips.
The eyes are neat, though. While Charlotte had an almost floral pattern to her irises, Jenny has notched edges on her irises that remind me of gears:
The posing is a pretty big disappointment. Rather than actual joints, Jenny has a wire armature inside arms and legs that are made out of flexible vinyl. Her limbs can bend, but they look really funny when they're bent:
I would say that these limbs fold rather than bend.
What's worse is that if the limbs are left in a bent position for a while, the vinyl doesn't immediately go back to it's rounded shape when the limb is straightened. Here's Jenny after her left leg was left in a bent position for a few hours (both leg wires are completely straight):
Jenny's hair is long and wavy. It is very easy to brush and feels great. I am curious to see how well this hair stands up to play because it seems wonderful right out of the box. Even though the hair looks thick and full from a distance, it is a little thinly rooted toward the back of her head.
The vinyl in Jenny's limbs is softer than the vinyl in Charlotte's limbs, but other than that, it is difficult to tell which body is which from a distance:
Jenny seems to have wire armature in her torso, too, allowing her to do some pretty impressive back bends:
So, the posing doesn't improve these dolls at all, but I can't say that it makes them worse. I don't really like the look of the bent limbs, so I just won't bend them.
Jenny comes with a hardcover chapter book, The Sweet Shoppe Mystery:
The cover art is really nice, but the pictures inside the book have a different style and are in black and white:
I started reading this book, but it didn't really pull me in. The writing style is very casual, using Jenny's voice in the first person.
So, I had a hard time figuring out where to start with this review. There's so much to look at, it's a little hard to focus. I decided to open up the plastic bags of accessories one at a time and save the larger kitchen appliances for last.
This first bag, from what I can tell, contains items that are only found in the kitchen set that includes Jenny.
There is a cardboard bookmark and a small catalogue displaying some of the Our Generation outfits :
There is an amazingly cute plastic and cloth pastry decorator:
There's an extra pair of mint green sneakers:
These shoes are fairly plain, and the fit is a little big on Jenny, which is odd.
There's also a cloth tote bag that says "Li'L Chef" on one side:
|Ugh. Weird capitalization.|
And an apron:
The apron has a bib and ties that are made out of a translucent pink material that feels almost like plastic. The bib has a slightly messy applied design that says, "i Baking," with a heart behind it. I'm trying hard to ignore the grammar on this decal.
Jenny also comes with a chef's shirt and hat:
The construction here is nice. All of the little pink plastic buttons are anchored through the shirt--not glued to one side.
The last thing in the bag were these little checkered oven mitts. They fit Jenny nicely and have ruffled edges and a loop of fabric that could be used to hang them on a hook:
Already, Jenny with her cooking outfit makes a pretty nice toy set. Many of the accessories fit into the cute tote bag, and the chef's outfit, in particular, looks great on Jenny.
The next bag I opened contained a bunch of accessories for the kitchen:
My favorite item from this group is a mini set of pink measuring spoons:
I also love this liquid measuring cup:
I holds real liquid:
There are six small shakers with differently-colored removable lids:
There are two plastic potted plants, and while the green in these pieces adds some nice color contrast to all of the grey and pink, the plants themselves are clunky and a little odd. One of them is a cactus, and the other looks like broccoli, but might be something like parsley:
These two items look like mugs:
...but that's a pretty unstable design for a coffee mug!
There are three pink plastic canisters that really open:
There's a piece of swiss cheese:
What on Earth is this? There are three attached oval shapes that kind-of look like eggs, but they're all different sizes, and they're much too big to be chicken eggs. Ostrich eggs, maybe? Huge mozzarella balls? Alien pods?
Take me to your leader...
There's a large oval sponge:
And a pink plastic phone:
I like these two little cans:
They don't open or anything, but the picture on the tuna fish can is adorable. The designers even got the anatomy correct on the tuna, with two dorsal (top) fins and two ventral (bottom) fins:
Last, there were three baking trays in this bag: a muffin tin, a flat baking sheet, and a bread pan. They're all made out of the same grey plastic:
The second bag I opened had another random collection of kitchen items:
My favorite thing in this bag is the pitcher and cup set. These are made out of translucent red plastic and look very realistic:
I took the pitcher and a cup outside and filled them with real juice:
The pitcher is not water-tight. It has a seam in the middle that is loose, and so all of the juice leaked out. In fact, this pitcher runs the risk of splitting right down its seam.
The cups are great, and hold liquid very well:
This bag also has some colorful heart-shaped and star-shaped baking pans, two cookie cutters, and four polka-dotted pink plates.
There's also another muffin tin, but this one is made out of a shiny silver plastic and is square-shaped:
Here are the two muffin tins together so you can see the differences:
So, at this point in my de-boxing, all I had left to open were the refrigerator and the main kitchen piece. I was getting a little worried, because several of the cool accessories that I had seen in the other kitchen set hadn't shown up in my set, despite being included in the long list on the back of the box.
Still, I forged ahead to look at the refrigerator. The fridge is large and heavy. It has a solid white plastic back and is a substantial 5.5 inches deep. It is made out of shimmery grey plastic and has pink handles and a purple pretend water dispenser:
The edges of all the handles are shaped like flowers:
The doors open in a satisfying way--you have to put a little effort into pulling them open--almost as if they seal closed like the doors on a real fridge. When I opened the doors, I was delighted to find two more bags of accessories. De-boxing this set is like opening about ten different presents. It's really, really fun.
I put the bags aside and took a closer look at the interior of the fridge. There are three main shelves, two with drawers that open and close. The drawers can be moved around to sit under different shelves, and the shelves themselves look like they can be removed and repositioned:
Actually, the shelves don't slide out of the fridge very easily. I had to bend and twist this one to get it past the doors. I won't do this again for fear of breaking the shelf.
One of the refrigerator doors has four stationary shelves, the other door has two covered shelves with lids that open and close. All of the shelves are decorated with pink flowers and pink trim:
At the bottom of one refrigerator door is this funny unit with a hole at the bottom. I have no idea what this is for. It looks like a dispenser of some kind:
The back of the fridge is decorated with a sticker that has pictures of food. The food is not aligned with the shelves, so it looks like it is floating:
This is a wonderful refrigerator. It is heavy and realistic with several moving parts. It does not seem the slightest bit flimsy to me. The only notable flaws are that the shelves don't slide out easily and I think the decorative sticker is unnecessary.
The bag that was stored in the freezer compartment holds a lot of items that are individually wrapped in tissue paper:
This bag has several food items in it, and a few kitchen utensils as well, like this delicate serving spoon:
There's a wonderful beater unit:
Two pink bowls with flower decals:
A spray bottle:
A soap dispenser:
A pink-handled whisk:
And a rolling pin with red handles:
Now, for the food! There are three chocolate chip cookies:
Two plastic triangles that are painted to look like they have layers--maybe these are sandwiches or pieces of cake?
The banana is my favorite piece of fruit. It has some strange molded marks on one side, and a Battat stamp, but it is really nicely painted and has a great shape:
|The bananas are very realistic. It makes me hungry.|
The sundae is permanently attached to a clear plastic dish:
|A dish with a handle.|
Fresh tongues on strawberry ice cream Marshmallow on chocolate ice cream
Fudge sauce on vanilla ice cream ???
This bag also had six colorfully frosted cupcakes:
And two nondescript (chocolate chip?) muffins:
The muffins are way too big for the long muffin tin. Actually, the cupcakes don't fit perfectly into this tin, either:
They fit well enough, though. If they jammed any further down into the cups, they might get stuck:
The muffins fit into the smaller muffin tin...sort-of. They stick up out of the cups a fair bit, and they also bang into each other when they're placed side-by-side:
The muffins and cupcakes are fun and detailed and I doubt there will be many complaints from kids, but I wish that there were four muffins (to fill the pan) and that these baked goods fit into their respective pans a little bit better.
The other bag that was hidden inside the fridge is filled with paper goods:
There's a bright yellow sign advertising the Sweet Shoppe and a certificate acknowledging that Jenny graduated from Queen Bea's cake decorating school. These are both in reference to the story that is included in this set.
I was interested to see that this bag contained a cardboard egg carton:
|Not eggs, apparently.|
There's also a school cookbook (the pages turn, but they are blank):
And a loose recipe for making strawberry cupcakes. I thought about testing this recipe with real ingredients...until I came to the part about baking the cupcakes in sunshine.
|Hello, Salmonella food poisoning!|
There's a blank sketch book that seems a little out-of-place, but is still really cute:
There's a cardboard ice cream cone box:
And a cardboard hamburger box
A paper bag for pastry flour:
A cardboard butter box:
And two cartons of milk--a larger (half gallon) 1% carton and a smaller (quart) 2% carton:
There's also a carton of organic fruit juice:
For the freezer, there's a colorful box of fruit pops:
And there are two boxes of cereal: one is a honey crunch variety that my son might eat:
The other is a strange sugar-free, high-fiber, whole grain, raisin flax cereal that seems to be sending some unsubtle messages about healthy eating.
My favorite piece in this bag is the tiny box of hot chocolate mix.
The box advertises "6 sachets" of cocoa:
And six tiny envelopes are actually included:
And they all fit into the box:
The red plastic cups fit in the water dispenser, but they teeter on the edge and fall out easily:
The butter won't fit in the compartment that looks like a butter drawer:
The eggs fit nicely, though:
The small milk and the juice fit in the door:
The fruit fits nicely in the big drawers, but the whole bottom shelf tips forward when you pull the full drawer out:
There are only two items that seem to be appropriate for the freezer, so it looks a little empty. I could have included the hamburger, I guess, but I needed that box to make the upper part of the fridge look full.
At last, I was ready to take a look at the rest of the kitchen. This piece is really large and includes a stovetop, an oven, a microwave, a sink and a dishwasher. Like the fridge, this unit is heavy and solidly constructed. Many doll kitchen sets have plain cardboard backings on them, but this set is made completely out of thick plastic--including the fake tile wall over the stove.
The left side of the kitchen has the microwave and the oven:
The microwave is not as amazing as the one on the American Girl Campus Snack Cart, but it has some pretend controls and a door that opens:
The stovetop has raised pink plastic burners:
The oven has five tiny knobs that actually turn, a storage drawer that opens (with a pot already inside!):
The main oven door also opens, and inside are more surprises!
Inside the oven, I found a pink dish drainer:
And a tissue-wrapped stack of bowls:
On the right side of the kitchen, there is a sink, a window, two shelves and a dishwasher. I was especially excited to see the dishwasher.
The faucet and the handles on the sink move:
The dishwasher opens to reveal more stuff!
Inside the dishwasher, I found a mat for the dish drainer, a cake display stand, and a pink plastic basin that looks like a baby bath.
The basin fits across the sink, and the dish drainer and mat can squeeze in to the counter space next to the sink:
The cake stand doesn't hold the cupcakes and muffins very well. I had to jam the muffins into the lower tiers and the cupcakes won't fit on that bottom shelf at all:
The dishwasher has a sticker with some direction icons on it:
Inside the dishwasher, there are three baskets for storing dishes. These slide in and out:
The kitchen has the opposite problem of the refrigerator: it can't hold enough accessories. If I fill all of the available spaces, I still have things left over:
|Like my real kitchen.|
To be fair, I didn't cram things in as much as I could have. I tried to arrange the shelves neatly, leaving a few gaps:
I could store all of the baking pans in the space below the oven:
And could fit the cereal and the flour into this narrow little cupboard:
The dish drainer is really cute, but it doesn't hold the plates. They just perch on top of the slots that look like they're designed to hold plates:
The dish drainer can hold the bowls nicely, though, and two of the four cups:
The dishwasher acts as great storage for any of the plates and utensils that won't fit elsewhere:
The storage down the middle of the kitchen is awkward. That circular cabinet can't hold much, and the tiny molded shelves can only hold only one or two small things:
A few plastic hooks would have added some nice storage options, especially because the cloth hoops on the oven mitts and the plastic ring on the measuring spoons both seem designed for hanging:
Here's Jenny in her kitchen.
The scale isn't great. Most kids are significantly shorter than their refrigerators (this was the best real picture I could find for reference). Making accessories that are accurately-scaled to 18" play dolls is a bit unrealistic, though. To be accurate, this kitchen would have to be huge, and that would make it expensive and difficult to store.
My American Girl, Keira, fits into the kitchen exactly as well as Jenny does:
If I'm sitting above the kitchen and looking down on Jenny, the scale looks better somehow:
Jenny was excited to start cooking...but I'm not sure she'll be able to do much with that tiny spoon!
Carpatina Erin fits the kitchen slightly better because of her slender proportions:
Lorifina is slightly taller than Jenny and Erin, but I still wondered if she might be a good fit for this set because she is so much slimmer than the 18" dolls. In the end, I think she's simply way too tall:
My singing Disney Store Cinderella fits really nicely into this space. I am a few inches taller than my fridge, so Cinderella's relative size seems about right to me:
A few of the accessories are a little bulky for Cindy, though. For example, the cupcakes would be huge and the red plastic cups would be like the Big Gulp from 7 Eleven.
Cinderella is wondering where dishwashers were when she was slaving away for her evil stepmother...
|Where have you been all my life?|
|A dream is a wish your heart makes...|
Some of the accessories are a bit large for her, too:
|That's a big muffin.|
Moxie Teenz are too small and are dwarfed by the large, bulky appliances:
I changed Jane out of her pajamas and let her have a go at baking some cupcakes:
Something that bothered me as I played around with this kitchen is that blank window:
I enjoyed the horse in the window of Hayden's house (oh yeah--that's yet another kitchen play set I have!). In the end, though, maybe a blank window is a nice opportunity to customize this kitchen for different moods. Some days it might be nice to look out over the ocean:
Or perhaps a castle scene would fit better with some games?
You could even get exotic:
Or invite some animals that would make certain Disney Princesses feel more at home:
Depending on who was visiting the kitchen, you might even want to go a little bit creepy and zombie-apocalyptic:
Here are a few last pictures of Jenny and her kitchen. I wanted to get at least one picture that included everything in this set. You can't see every last accessory clearly in this next picture, but it gives a general idea of how incredibly large this set is:
Bottom line? I could only come up with a few critiques as I was playing with this set. The refrigerator shelves don't move as easily as they should, and it's hard to fill all of the fridge compartments with the food items that come with this set. In contrast, the rest of the kitchen is short on storage space and can't accommodate all of the non-food accessories. I would happily trade several of the larger accessory items (the wash basin and the cake display tray, for example) to get more food.
Jenny herself is really cute. She has pretty eyes and her hair is very soft and easy to brush--as least before it's been exposed to any kind of serious play. Jenny's posing is a bit of a disappointment, though. I'm not sure what kind of articulation I was expecting, but I don't really like wire armature. When Jenny's limbs are bent, they look folded over and strikingly un-realistic. On the other hand, Jenny's bendable arms come in handy in the kitchen when I want her to hold a bowl or another large accessory. Also, Jenny's bendable torso adds a nice dimension to her range of movement without making her look strange.
Overall, this toy is amazing. It is sturdy and detailed and has an incredible number of moving parts and well-made small accessories. $62 is a lot of money, but if you subtract the price of the doll and her extra clothes, the actual kitchen part of this set costs $40 or less. Considering the other dolls and play sets in the $40 price range (the Monster High Headless Headmistress set, Princess & Me dolls and Liv Hayden's House come to mind as interesting comparisons) this set is a bargain. The play value here seems huge--even the entertainment value of taking everything out of the box is impressive. The Our Generation Kitchen Set that does not include Jenny and the extra accessories should not be the same price as this set. $40 would be a good deal for that set.
I love the open-ended versatility of toys like this. Not only will the kitchen work for Our Generation dolls and American Girls, but several other sizes of doll could step in and use this kitchen effectively. Creative children will probably even have their favorite stuffed animals shuffling around this bright space cooking up some muffins. You don't even need a doll to play with this set. I can picture different families using this toy to stimulate some wonderful activities. Kids could sculpt food items out of clay and add them to the refrigerator until it is bursting with goodies. Little ones could "cook" in this kitchen while Mom makes dinner. Favorite recipes could be copied into the blank recipe book--and then tested in a real kitchen. Different pictures could be drawn or printed out to be taped into the open window...transporting this kitchen to any landscape imaginable. Dishwasher loading skills could be learned! Oh, the possibilities.
I predict that this particular set will get much harder to find as the holidays approach. It's rare to get this much "wow" for such a reasonable price. There's a giddy, fun factor associated with toys like this that seem to offer so much more than what you pay for. I hope limited availability doesn't skyrocket the cost and ruin the fun.