Saturday, August 8, 2015

Project Mc2 Dolls by MGA Entertainment

Ever since my friend Melissa told me about the new 11-inch Project Mc2 play dolls by MGA Entertainment, I have been looking forward to writing this review.  There were a ton of things to get excited about with this new doll line.  First of all, the promotional pictures of the dolls make their articulation look incredibly promising.  Also, the girls all have realistic-looking inset eyes that make me think fondly of Spin Master's discontinued Liv dolls.  The icing on the cake is that this new group has a science-based theme, wonderfully geeky personalities, and creative, project-based accessories.  Sounds like a dream come true for me, doesn't it?  Many of you thought so, and generously took the time to email when you saw these dolls show up in stores.  Thank you so much for each and every message--you guys know me well.

This doll line is based on a live-action television series following a group of smart tweens who belong to a secret spy organization called NOV8 (for innovate).  The four members of NOV8 use their S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) skills to go on missions.  The series premiered yesterday on Netflix.

I was in such a hurry to get my hands on these dolls, I ordered all four of the characters on eBay the instant they appeared.  Unfortunately, as those of you on Facebook already know, I ordered too hastily to notice that the dolls I bought were the $14.99 basic versions that have limited articulation.  To get a doll with the number of joints shown in the promotional pictures, you have to order one of the more expensive Project Mc2 playsets ($24.99).  The great thing about ordering the sets, however, is that each one comes with a doll and a fun-looking science-based activity.  After realizing my mistake, I immediately bought one of the sets: McKeyla's Lava Light.  In this review, I will look at McKeyla and her activity, and will also de-box one of my basic dolls for comparison.  Brace yourselves, folks, this is a long one.

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Project Mc2 "McKeyla" from the McKeyla's Lava Light set, $24.99.
Two things worry me when I buy dolls from MGA Entertainment: packaging and hair.  I've had a lot of bad experiences over the years with this company, and I wasn't completely thrilled with their recent Vi and Va collection.  However, MGA has also produced several dolls that I consider to be great (I really like the Moxie Teenz) and so I was cautiously optimistic when I received my Project Mc2 girls.

My first impression was that the packaging is very attractive.  It's covered with colorful graphics and the box has an interesting shape:

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Eye candy.
The back and sides of the box are made out of cardboard, and the protruding plastic window is framed by a narrow cardboard border:


The sides of the box are also fully decorated.  Along the right side of McKeyla's box are the S.T.E.A.M. words, with "art" highlighted.  I don't know if this means anything specific to McKeyla, though.  In the show, she is the leader of the group with an education in "basically everything that ends in -ology."


I'm used to seeing the S.T.E.M. acronym, and have to say that I appreciate the inclusion of "art" in the S.T.E.A.M. version.  In my own life, I've certainly found that artistic endeavors often foster or improve S.T.E.M. subjects.

Another thing I want to stop and say here is that, while I really like the Project Mc2 box art and think the presentation of this doll is great, I'm wondering more and more these days at the necessity of having such ornate packaging.  It's starting to feel a bit like an arms race to me: every doll I review has fancier and more elaborate packaging than the one before.  If all toy companies would back off a bit on the overkill, that would suit me just fine.  It's really such a waste in the end.  As pretty and creative as McKeyla's box is...it's already in the trash.  A colorful pamphlet inside the box could convey all of the same information--and would be easy to keep.  

Imagine what all of the time, money and creativity that went into the box design could have done to improve the actual doll?

Here's the Project Mc2 logo:

I like the atom graphic in the background.
The name of this doll collection refers, of course, to Einstein's famous mass-energy equivalence equation: 
E = mc2

This states that energy (E) is equal to the mass of an object (m) times the velocity of light in a vacuum (c) squared.  So, intentional or not, it's like saying that the name of the doll line is Project Energy.  There's definitely a lot of energy in the television show.  It's very hyper and goofy.

The actual double meaning of the Project Mc2 title, however, is that McKeyla's full name is McKeyla McAlister--with 'Mc' appearing twice.  McKeyla herself should know that to square both the 'M' and the 'c,' however, Project Mc2 should be written like this: Project (Mc)2.  And, just for the record, I don't really understand why two of something implies that the thing has been squared.  That's rarely true: 2x = x2 only when x=2.

I chose this particular set from the four available options because McKeyla is the main character in the television show--and because I liked the look of her lava light activity:


In addition to the lava light kit, McKeyla comes with several smaller accessories:


The back of the box is covered with colorful information, including directions for the lava light activity, a brief description of McKeyla's personality, and some pictures of the other dolls in this wave:


There's also a photograph of the actor who plays McKeyla on the television show:


McKeyla is a writer and a hipster.  I've been meaning to look up the word "hipster" for several weeks now because whenever I'm reading about potential colleges for my firstborn, the descriptions say that the student body includes "a lot of hipsters."

Ok, here we go: according to the Urban Dictionary, hipsters "value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter."  That's not what I assumed hipster meant (honestly, I thought it had to do with pot) but now I feel a lot better about certain colleges!


Also, McKeyla likes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries) and magic tricks, which is awesome.  I like those things, too.

The only thing I don't like about McKeyla's profile is the "I'm smart, get over it" catch phrase.  That seems nasty to me.  The character in the show is a little bossy and critical, though.

I'm over it.
McKeyla also claims to be an undercover spy--"like every other teenaged girl."  I thought this was a joke at first, but McKeyla actually is an undercover spy in the television show.  Her mother is also a spy called The Quail.  One of the things I appreciate about the Project Mc2 show is that The Quail is played by Danica McKellar (adorable Winnie from The Wonder Years) who is a brilliant mathematician in real life.  She went to UCLA (do they have a lot of hipsters there, I wonder?).

At the bottom of the box, there's a photograph of the four highly-articulated dolls in the Project Mc2 line:

Bryden, McKeyla, Adrienne and Camryn.
All of the names in this series are slightly unusual.  I'm often amused by what my computer's spell check thinks I'm trying to type when I enter an unusual name.  McKeyla, for example, becomes "Muckily."  So, if you see the word muckily pop up in this review every now and again...you know why.

The only doll I have from the articulated group is McKeyla, but I do have (by mistake) all four dolls in the basic series.  I'll quickly show you their boxes and faces.



Bryden Bandweth is the basic doll that I will de-box later in this review.  Here's a preview of her face:


She has medium brown skin, bright green eyes (!) and dark brown hair.  Bryden's character is interested in technology, music and photography.

I showed the basic McKeyla over on Facebook (still in her box).  Here's the picture from that post:


McKeyla has bright green eyes, pale skin (with freckles!) and brown hair.  She reminds me a lot of Liv Katie.

Adrienne Attoms has light brown skin, blonde hair and dark brown eyes:

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Adrienne is originally from Spain.  She loves rescuing animals and doing culinary chemistry.  I also love rescuing animals...and am an excellent culinary consumer.

Here's a close-up of Adrienne's eye:


I love Adrienne's shirt--it has little cats all over it, some of them wearing glasses:

Schrödinger's shirt?
All of the dolls' outfits are taken directly from the television show.  The show is filled with color: the science experiments, lab equipment, house decor, electronic devices and clothing are all multi-colored and brightly cartoon-like.  In fact, now that I think of it, many things about the show are like a live-action cartoon.

Also, the characters in the show are often wearing huge, fancy, colorful glasses.  You can see that the Adrienne doll is holding a pair of purple glasses in the picture, above.  A few of the other dolls come with glasses, too.  I have not had a chance to try any of the glasses yet.  I hope they fit well because I really like doll glasses.

I like cat glasses, too.
I happen to have also seen the articulated Adrienne, and the two versions of this character are pretty similar, but not identical:


Basic Adrienne has lighter hair and darker lips than her more expensive counterpart.

Last, here's Camryn Coyle who has light brown skin, light brown eyes and burgundy-red hair:


Camryn rides a skateboard and enjoys taking things apart to figure out how they work.

Here's a close-up of her eye:


At this point, I was struck by something.  This is going to seem like an epic tangent at first, so bear with me (or maybe skip this part).

I was really happy last month when the entrepreneurial iBesties group got their full Kickstarter funding.  A few of us chatted about this over on Facebook.  To get everyone up to speed, iBesties are designed to be "dolls for future technology and business leaders." The iBestie dolls look nothing like the Project Mc2 girls, but there are several parallels in the characters' personality profiles that I find really interesting.  
Let's take a quick look:

Here are the Project Mc2 doll profiles (paraphrased from the Project Mc2 website):
Bryden ("Stand Back--I'm Trending!")--the tech genius who loves tweeting and instagramming about music, technology, etc.  Always has her phone or computer nearby.
McKeyla ("I'm Smart, Get Over it!")--the snarky spy leader of the group.  She's a writer and also enjoys reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels and performing magic tricks.
Adrienne ("She's Pretty, Brilliant!")--a culinary chemist who mixes her love of chemistry with her talents in the kitchen.
Camryn ("Nailed it!"*)--she has a high IQ and enjoys taking things apart. She loves riding her customized skateboard.  *She also has the best catch phrase...by far.

And here are the iBesties (paraphrased from the iBesties website):
McKenna ("Business Boss")--in honors classes at school and on the cheerleading squad. She's good at math and finance, making her the business guru for the iBesties team.
Sunny ("Coding Queen")--calm, cool and logical.  Sunny's idols are Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.  She's an excellent coder and prides herself on being inventive and forward-thinking.
Sarah ("Bestie Blogger")--this dreamer loves reading and vintage items. Her cat is named Puck after the Midsummer Night's Dream character. She has her own blog.
Jada ("Graphics Guru")--this self-declared superstar sings, dances, and rides a skateboard.  She's a free-thinking artist who loves graphic art and website design.
Ryleigh ("Gadget Girl")--competitive and tough with a great sense of humor. Ryleigh loves to take things apart and put them back together again.
Izzy ("Digital Diva")--outgoing and very savvy about current trends. She is a master with social media.

It's neat to see some new doll personality archetypes emerging with these two S.T.E.M.-based lines.  There are the future engineers who take things apart (Ryleigh and Camryn--Goldie Blox would also fit into this group), the trendy social media girls (Bryden and Izzy), and the well-read writers (Sarah and McKeyla). 

There are also a few unique personalities: Project Mchas the only chemist character, and iBesties includes a coder, a math/business expert and a graphic artist.

These personalities are merged with more traditional doll traits like the love of music, a good fashion sense, popularity at school, caring for animals, playing sports, and--curiously in both groups--skateboard riding.  Liv Katie rode a skateboard, too.

Anyway, it's going to be really fun to talk more about the iBesties in March, but for now--let's get back to McKeyla and her box:


I don't have a great track record for figuring out doll boxes with perforated panels in the back, but this time I was determined to get McKeyla out using this panel.  

The first layer of of cardboard folded back to reveal an instruction sheet and another layer of cardboard (also perforated):


I broke the perforations on the second panel, hoping to pull the backdrop and doll right out, but it wasn't quite that simple.  McKeyla's hair and a few of her accessories were attached to both sides of the panel, blocking the opening.



By cutting all of the visible ties and ripping the left side of the backdrop, I was actually able to pull everything out pretty easily:

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This version of McKeyla looks exactly the same as the basic version:


The basic doll's hair looks lighter in my picture, but it's actually the same almost-black shade as the other McKeyla's hair.

Incidentally, neither doll has the same eye color as the brown-eyed actress on the television series.

Most of McKeyla's accessories were easy to detach from the backdrop, but McKeyla herself was mounted on a plastic base that was attached to the backdrop and also plastic-tied to the doll's head:

Are you kidding me?
I ripped the doll and the plastic mount off of the backdrop and figured I'd deal with it separately.

Here's the backdrop with everything removed:


It has some geometry and algebra at the bottom:


The way McKeyla came out of her packaging--anchored to a plastic mount with incredibly messy hair--pretty much sums up my typical experience with MGA dolls:

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Classic MGA.
For extra fun, the plastic ties holding McKeyla's head to the plastic mount were sealed in place with wax or glue of some kind:

Why, MGA? Why???
If I had cut these ties, I would have had to do it from the side with McKeyla's hair, and I knew that would end badly.  Instead, I used brute force to yank the plastic mount off the ties.  This left the ties (all five of them...) still in McKeyla's head:

(Plastic ties)5
I'll get back to McKeyla in a sec, but first let me show you all of the accessories that she came with:

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Lots of goodies.
She comes with a plastic lava light for the activity, and also a waist grip stand:


The stand has a molded Project Mc2 logo on the base:


She also comes with a backpack:


The backpack is made out of white semi-flexible vinyl.


The straps of the backpack attach with small pegs that can be pulled out:


The front flap of the pack also lifts upwards to reveal a small opening:



A few small things might fit inside this pack, but it'd be hard to get them out.


McKeyla also comes with a composition notebook and a small red thing that says Project Mc2:


Both of these are made out of hard plastic and are decorated with stickers.


The composition notebook has neat designs on the front, but is plain (with big holes) on the back:


The notebook opens...and actually comes right apart if you open it, ah, too vigorously:


There's a secret compartment in the notebook...


...and the red plastic thing fits right inside:


After watching the television show, I know that the red plastic thing is McKeyla's tablet computer--which has a sentient cartoon face that talks to her all of the time.  She hides this tablet in her notebook when she's at school.

McKeyla's last accessory is this cool-looking (but useless) beaker-shaped comb:


Ok, (finally!) here's McKeyla:


At this point, she still had her hat plastic-tied to her head, one arm tied with thread to her shorts and some of her hair tied to her shirt.


Her hair was extremely messy, with several scraggly clumps falling out in back:




Getting the plastic ties out of the hat was a challenge.  The visible ends of the ties were actually under the hat band:


In one case, the tie was actually glued under the hat band:

That's not fair.
I had to cut the ties close to McKeyla's head, and so of course I snipped some of her hair in the process--it was unavoidable.  

Also, the ribbon in the hat band has some gaps in the areas where the plastic ties were set:


The hat is made out of thin plastic and has a black fuzzy flocked top.  The inside of the hat is bare plastic and was filled with tissue paper:


With the hat off, I could get under McKeyla's hair and snip away the remaining plastic tie ends:

Because it's no fun to get poked by those. Ow.
Here she is, free of all plastic ties and packaging remnants:


McKeyla doesn't balance very well on her own.  Her legs are thin and flexible and her knee joints buckle pretty easily.  She was frequently toppling over during my attempts to take her picture:


So, I got out the stand.  This stand is made out of plastic, but the plastic is unusually bendy.  It seems really cheap:


Normally, I can't bend a doll stand that far with one finger.  Or even with all of my fingers.

Ever After High stands don't bend at all.
In the Facebook discussion, Amelia suggested that the Project Mc2 stands should have been designed to look like retort stands.  That would have been incredible.  An amazingly clever idea from Amelia...and a big missed opportunity for MGA.

Still, the stand works well to hold McKeyla upright:

The base could be a little bigger...
I absolutely love this doll's face:


To me she looks kind, young, fresh-faced and lovely.  Her features are versatile and could be part of any number of creative games.  She reminds me of several kids I know--and strikes me as someone I would like.

I tied the ratty hair back so that I could get a better look at her pretty face:


McKeyla has tiny freckles across her nose.  The freckles are really well done.  She has a relatively large mouth with a few line details in her lips.  She has a very subtle, sweet smile.  

Her medium-brown eyebrows do not have any detail and look a bit harsh next to the delicate freckles and pale pink color of her lips.


McKeyla has large, inset green eyes that are very well positioned.  She has applied lashes above her eyes and painted lashes both above and below her eyes:


I don't like McKeyla's profile quite as much as I like her face from the front.  She has simplified ears and a very large wedge-shaped gap between her upper and lower lips:


McKeyla's green eyes are her most arresting feature.  The iris detail might look a bit fake up-close, but the effect from a distance is very realistic.


The upper lashes are all in a single strip that's rooted into the top of the eye:


You can see the lashes disappearing into a slit above the iris in this picture:


In fact, the eyeballs are not hemispheres as I originally assumed.  The whole eye is actually flattened at the top, right where the eyelashes attach.  This is barely noticeable with a front view of the doll...


...but when I tip her head down a little, you can see the pupil reflected in the flat top edge of the eye.  It looks like McKeyla has two pupils:

2(pupil)
The flat edge is also visible when I photograph the eye from the side and looking down, like this:


I mention this just because I like to know how things are put together--not because there's any problem with this design.  Knowing the shape of the eye might also be helpful to potential customizers.  The eyes look perfectly normal and lovely when I'm just holding the doll in my hands.

McKeyla is wearing a three-piece outfit that includes overall shorts, a graphic tee, and a leather-sleeved denim shirt.  Again, this outfit is right out of the television show--and very well-replicated.


McKeyla has a small ring on her left hand:


The ring sits in a hole that goes all of the way through McKeyla's hand:


When I tried to remove McKeyla's shirt, her whole hand came off, so I can show you another view of the ring...


...and demonstrate that it's removable:


I'm a hypocrite because I love that the ring is removable, and I surely would have complained if it wasn't, but I also know that if I don't glue that thing in place, it's gonna get lost within the week.

McKeyla's outer shirt (jean jacket?) has yellow/orange stitched details and two decorative pockets.  The sleeves are made out of imitation leather.


The construction of this shirt is fine, but the fabric is really thin.  It also still has wrinkles along the sides from where a large plastic tie held McKeyla's waist secure in the box.


Under the outer shirt, Muckily is wearing overall shorts and a graphic tee:



The shorts are ultra-short and the cuffs tend to get stuck up in the gap of McKeyla's hip joint:


The straps of the overalls are permanently sewn to the front of the shorts.  The metal buckles are only decorative:



In the television show McKeyla has the straps of her overalls hanging down, like this:


The straps have a clear plastic coating on the back side, presumably to keep the fabric from unraveling:


The plastic makes the straps a little stiff....


McKeyla's shirt has a large printed picture of an owl wearing huge red glasses.  I know owls are a symbol of wisdom and everything, but how did this shirt get past the editing department?  The placement of the glasses is really unfortunate:

Hooters for geeks.
McKeyla is also wearing light grey socks (leg warmers?) and red hiking boots:


The boots have very wide slits up the back:


However, the slits definitely don't make the shoes easy to remove.  

I got the left shoe off with a bit of tugging, but while trying to remove the right boot (which was really hard)...I pulled McKeyla's whole lower leg off:


Happily, the leg is supposed to come off (not sure why) so it snapped right back on.  It was, however, easier to get the boot off with the leg detached from the body.

The boots are made out of flexible red vinyl and have black treads and painted white laces:


There's a lot of detail on the bottom of the shoe, including a little Mcmark:


It would have been really cool (and geeky) to have the Mclogo printed backwards on the bottom of the shoes so that McKeyla's footprints left the letters facing the right way.

The red vinyl portion of the boot has some molded zippers and stitches, but these are pretty hard to see.


McKeyla's socks do not extend down over her feet.  Look at how cute her feet are though:

Those are really great feet!!
She has flat feet with no articulation at the ankles.  This is pretty rare in the doll world.

The leg warmers have (random?) letters and numbers on them:



I was happy to discover that McKeyla actually balances on her own better without her shoes than with them.  She doesn't balance perfectly, mind you--but better.  I think maybe the bulky socks were making her tip in funny directions.

In any case, she has a hard plastic body with a vinyl head and vinyl lower limbs.  She has eleven points of articulation:

(Liv joints) - 5

The thing that struck me about McKeyla's body right away is how ultra-skinny it is.  I think her arms and legs are the most noticeably thin features--they are practically the same width throughout their entire length.  Pre-teens can be super-skinny, granted, but this seems extreme.

Also, the collar bone and ribcage areas have more bony protrusions than I'm used to seeing on a doll:




She also has no belly whatsoever:

belly = 0
The other thing I noticed about McKeyla's body design is that she's wobbly.  Her head bobbles around and her arm joints don't hold poses very well.  

The thin, slightly bendable vinyl limbs combine with the loose joints to give the doll a slightly fragile/cheap feel overall.  She does not feel solid and sturdy in my hands.


Her head has a great range of motion, though.  She can tip it from side-to-side...


...and also look up, down, and all around:


McKeyla's shoulders have rotating hinge joints that can lift straight up to about a 90 degree angle from her body:


Her arms can also spin around:


She has a bit of a wide gap around her shoulder joints:


McKeyla also has hinged rotating elbows and wrists:


Her lower arms are wider near the elbow--but only in one plane.  From one angle they look like this...


...but a quick twist of the lower arm reveals a different profile:


The shape of the elbow joint itself also makes it so that the arm can only bend if it's lined up correctly, like this:



If the lower arm is rotated 180 degrees, it won't bend much at all:



This movement is actually quite realistic, but makes it a little tricky to manipulate the arms when they're covered up with clothes.

McKeyla can touch her head, but she can't quite rest her hand on her hip:


Her arm bends enough to allow her hand to touch her hip, but the elbow joint won't hold this position.  

She also can't hold her hands up in a questioning pose--they just flop down:


And she can touch her stomach (or non-stomach)...


...but the slightest shift in movement will cause the arm to fall down:


Overall, McKeyla's arms and head are capable of great poses, but the joints are too loose to hold many of those poses.


The floppy nature of McKeyla's arm joints might have something to do with the super-tiny pegs that hold these joints in place:


I worry that it won't be too long before the lower arms start to fall out really easily.  On the other hand, Monster High joint pegs are tiny, too, and they seem to stay in place pretty well.

McKeyla's leg joints feel more durable.  She flops backwards at the knees occasionally, but because the vinyl in her legs is thicker and her ankles are unarticulated, she has more stability in this area than she has in her arms.

Her hips have a hinged ball joint.  If her legs are moved straight out to the sides, she can almost do a full split:


With her feet rotated up, she can do a full split:


She can also do a front-to-back split, but this doesn't look quite as graceful:


Here's a little peek at the joint:


McKeyla can bend her leg forwards to a 90 degree angle at the hip, and just shy of a 90 degree angle at the knee:


She can't stick her leg straight out behind her, though.  Backwards leg movement at the hip requires outward rotation (hence the funny-looking front-to-back splits):


She sits in a chair really nicely, though:


McKeyla has some rotation at the knee, but this movement is stiff:



She has the most adorable foot mold, with nice toenail details and everything:  


Look at the little creases on the bottoms of her feet!

Some of the best doll feet I've ever seen.
At just under 11 inches, McKeyla is roughly the same size as a Liv doll.  Here she is with Hayden:

Liv Hayden, Project Mc2 McKeyla.
McKeyla makes Hayden look very broad-shouldered and thick-legged.  The two are similar enough in size, however, that a lot of clothes-sharing (albeit imperfect clothes-sharing...) is possible.  

Hayden can wear McKeyla's full outfit nicely:

Hayden in McKeyla's outfit.
However, the shirt is a little tight, the hat is too small and the shoes are slightly big.


McKeyla can also wear a large assortment of Liv clothes, although they tend to be a little baggy on her--especially in the chest, neck and at the tops of her legs:

McKeyla in Liv clothes.
For example, Hayden's dress looks pretty, but hangs off one shoulder:

McKeyla in Liv clothes.
And Hayden's shorts fit, but have a little extra room in the waist:

McKeyla in Liv clothes.
Long-sleeved shirts are a little...long:

McKeyla in Liv clothes.
There are a lot of dolls in the 10 to 12-inch category, so I just chose a random few of them to compare with McKeyla.  

Because I reviewed her so recently, here's Mal from the Disney Descendants collection:

Descendants Signature Mal, Project Mc2 McKeyla.
Mal is much paler and more shapely than McKeyla (especially in the legs).  It's interesting that Mal actually has a thinner waist than McKeyla, but McKeyla comes across as the skinnier of the two overall.

Mal can wear McKeyla's outfit--excluding the shoes:

Descendants Mal in McKeyla's outfit.
The outfit looks better on Mal than it does on McKeyla, if you ask me:



And McKeyla can wear Mal's outfit, but the jacket is just as restrictive on her as it is on Mal:

McKeyla in Descendant Mal's outfit...against her will.
Here's McKeyla in Descendant Audrey's much cuter and more comfortable pink dress:

McKeyla in Descendant Audrey's dress.
Here's McKeyla with Barbie and the Disney Store's Rapunzel:  

Barbie, Project Mc2, Disney Store.
McKeyla has a much younger body type than the other two, but there's still a decent amount of clothes-sharing possible here.

McKeyla can wear some Barbie dresses, but I don't have any Barbie pants that fit over her flat feet.

McKeyla in a Barbie dress.
McKeyla can also wear Disney Store doll dresses, but they're a little long and also baggy in the neck.


I left the picture, above, in the review so that you can see how McKeyla's head tends to flop around.  She wasn't always agreeably looking at the camera, that's for sure.

McKeyla in a Disney Store dress.

Disney Store dolls can wear McKeyla's outfit (although the shoes are really big):

Rapunzel in McKeyla's outfit.
And Barbie can wear McKeyla's clothes, but not her shoes--and the shirt is really tight.


McKeyla is so thin that I wanted to compare her to a Winx Club doll, too:

Winx Club Bloom, Project Mc2 McKeyla.
I didn't even try any clothes-sharing with these two, though, because Bloom is quite a bit skinnier in the waist and hips.

I also wanted to compare McKeyla to one of my Moxie Teenz dolls--not to explore clothes-sharing options, but just to see the similarities between these two MGA doll lines.  Here's McKeyla with Melrose:

Moxie Teenz Melrose, Project Mc2 McKeyla.
Melrose is much taller than McKeyla, of course, but she's also more solid-feeling.  Her body is made out of hard plastic and all of her joints (except for perhaps her ankles) hold their positions well.

The Moxie Teenz have beautiful inset eyes, torso joints, nicely-shaped bodies and pretty faces, but I prefer the Project Mc2 faces.  Also, while I used to like the Moxie Teenz wigs a lot, for some reason several of mine refuse to stay on the dolls' heads anymore.  It's very frustrating.  

Maybe McKeyla would make a nice, gangly younger sister for one of my Moxie Teenz?  She and Tristen share similar coloring:


The last doll I wanted to compare to McKeyla was a basic (minimally-articulated) doll from the Project Mc2 line.  I chose Bryden Bandweth for this comparison: 


Bryden is the social media and technology expert of the group.  In the television show, she's ultra-spazzy and always talking.


In general, de-boxing Bryden was similar to de-boxing McKeyla, but Bryden's box is smaller.  Bryden had her own version of the wax-incased plastic tie insanity going on near her head:


Here's Bryden fully de-boxed:


It might look like she's standing strangely--she is.  This doll cannot stand upright with her shoes on.  The shoes tip her legs backward so that she has to lean forward in order to gain her balance:


I took Bryden's shoes off and discovered that she actually has high-heeled fashion feet--not the flat-footed mold that McKeyla has:

She also can't sit flat on the ground while she's wearing her clothes.

The basic dolls do not come with stands (just another beaker-shaped comb) so I used McKeyla's stand to help poor Bryden:


Even though her dark skin/dark hair/bright green eye combination is highly unusual (and nothing like the actor on TV...) I think it looks exotically beautiful--like the famous portrait of that Afghan girl.

I love the pencils on the shirt sleeves...
but the words?  Yikes.
Bryden has a very different hair texture from McKeyla.  Her hair fiber is basically straight, but it's been set into fine crimps:


This hair is much nicer right out of the box than McKeyla's hair.  The ends are coarse, but there's no immediate need for a boil wash.

Here's a closer look at Bryden's face:  


I think all of the Project Mc2 dolls have their own face mold.  They are all very, very similar, but I've found some little differences.  For example, I can count different numbers of lines in the lips and see small variations in the shape of the noses.


Bryden's green eyes are also a slightly lighter, more sage-green color than McKeyla's green eyes:


Here's McKeyla's eye for comparison:


I wanted to see if--even without her restrictive clothing--this doll actually can't stand up straight in her shoes.

Indeed, this seems to be the case:

Fail.
That's pretty terrible engineering, if you ask me.  Camryn would not approve.

Bryden does not have a ring in her left hand, but she does have great molded creases on the bottoms of her feet:


And she can sit on the ground just fine with her clothes removed:


The seams along the sides of her legs are quite obvious, though, for some reason:


Here's Bryden next to McKeyla:

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These two have the same torso, but Bryden's arms and legs are solid, unarticulated plastic (and she can't stand on her own with those fashion feet).

Bryden doesn't escape the floppiness syndrome of this line, though.  Her neck and hip joints are loose and her legs, in particular, flop around quite a lot.  Still, I find myself (maybe?) preferring the more solid-feeling body of this under-articulated doll.  Who would have guessed?  I keep subconsciously trying to bend her arms, though, which might end badly.

If I had to pick one of these dolls for a younger child, I'd certainly pick one of the basic dolls over the more fragile articulated girls.  Maybe my eBay purchase wasn't such a mistake after all?

I also really like Bryden's face and hair:



Even after brushing, the hair retains its kinks and is reasonably soft and easy to manage:


I like this doll, but she doesn't remind me at all of the character from the television show.


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At this point, I decided to brush McKeyla's hair out to see what would happen.  The hair was hard to brush and a lot of strands came out.  

The end result was an unattractive frizzy puffball:



The rooting is nice and dense, though:


I simply could not get the hair to look nice.  It's so scraggly:


I decided to boil-wash McKeyla's hair--brushing it a lot more throughout the process.  

It took a while to get all of the tangles out, but the hair was smoother and easier to manage afterwards:


The water in my washing bowl took on a slippery, soapy quality after I dunked McKeyla's head a few times--probably from the huge amount of styling product that was in the hair.  In fact, even after McKeyla's hair started to dry, I could still feel that there was some styling product left behind.

Greasy when wet.

When the hair dried, it was still frizzy and coarse at the ends, but it was more fun to play with:


Here's McKeyla back in her original outfit:


After the overalls were put on and taken off a few times, the edges of the straps started to unravel.  I guess the plastic backing couldn't prevent that from happening after all:



If I look past the unintentional Hooters quality of the outfit, McKeyla looks pretty cute.  I think she needs a serious haircut, though.


I was able to get McKeyla to touch her face for this picture...


...but realized that it was only possible because her lower arm was getting pulled out of the socket:

Sigh.
I also wanted to try out the backpack accessory.  I was worried that the stiff vinyl would make it difficult for McKeyla to wear, but it actually fits over her shoulders nicely:




Even with all of her joints, I found this doll hard to play with.  She doesn't have a huge repertoire of poses that look good.

Awkward.
Better?
I like the way the hat looks, but there's no way to keep it in place on McKeyla's head after the plastic ties have been removed.

I'm told that this is a hipster hat.
If MGA had made McKeyla's shorts just a tiny bit longer, they wouldn't always be getting stuck in the hip joint...

Leg wedgie.
Notice how the hair is already starting to get frizzy again...
To get McKeyla to hold her notebook and tablet, I had to rubber-band her hands together:  


After I was finished posing McKeyla, I decided to try out the lava light activity.  I really wanted a lava lamp of my own when I was a kid, but I think my parents were afraid that it would make a huge mess or something.  As an adult, I've never bothered to buy one for myself...and so this is the first lava light I've ever owned: 

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The instructions list the extra things that are required to complete the activity, including "white effervescent tablets."  I wasn't completely sure what this meant, but assumed it was something like Alka-Seltzer.


I also read in the directions that I would need batteries:


{batteries} {lava light kit}
So, I ran out to the store and bought some effervescent tablets and batteries, all of which cost me about $12:

Total cost of doll = $37.
When I opened the battery compartment of the lamp, however, I discovered that the kit actually does come with batteries (which it says on the outside of the box).  Mixed messages from MGA, but: there's no need to buy batteries for this set!

The colorful directions on the back of the box summarize the more detailed instructions that were inside the box:


The basic idea here is that there's a small amount of colored water at the bottom of the lamp and some oil floating on top of the water (because oil is less dense than water).  The effervescent tablet falls to the bottom of the lamp where it reacts with the water, causing colored bubbles to move up through the oil.  It's very simple--but clever.  

Oh, and the batteries are just to make a small red light flash in the base of the lamp.  The effect is barely noticeable in daylight.

The more extensive directions make it very clear that there should only be only one drop of food coloring for every cup of water, so I did exactly that.

Ready to go!
I dropped the piece of effervescent tablet into the lamp...and it worked!

Bubbles!
Here's an out-of-focus video to show you the action:

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There's a lot more fizz than you'd see with a regular lava lamp, but these smaller bubbles are fun to watch (and photograph).  

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What the directions don't say (but should) is that the bubbles are caused by a reaction between sodium bicarbonate (like baking soda) and some kind of acid--probably citric acid (like what you'd find in orange juice).  Both of these substances are inside the effervescent tablet.  As the tablet dissolves in water, the sodium bicarbonate and acid mix together and create carbon dioxide gas (CO2).  Here's a likely equation:

H3C6H5O7 (citric acid) + 3NaHCO3 (sodium bicarbonate) --> Na3C6H5O7 (trisodium citrate) + 3CO2 (carbon dioxide gas...bubbles!) + 3H2O (water)

Adrienne would appreciate the chemistry here--she should have mentioned it!

I tried to capture the red light as it turned on and off, but it's hard to see...


...unless all of the room lights are turned off:


Here's a video of the lamp in the dark:

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The bubble action lasts for a few minutes and then stops. 

I was not super-impressed with the color of my lamp's pale blue bubbles, so I filled the lamp again, and this time I used many drops (6? 10?) of food coloring per cup of water.  I just squirted a lot of color into the water.  

I like this better:

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Here's one last low-quality video for you:

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The lamp can be used again and again--without having to refill the water or oil.  You just keep adding effervescent tablets when you want to see bubbles.  It's really fun.  I've been keeping my lamp in the kitchen, though, just because I don't want oil and colored water to leak out anywhere else in the house.  The seal on the lamp cap seems fine, but I'd be hesitant to let a kid take this off into his or her bedroom.

Making this lamp was a fun, quick, repeatable activity.  The lamp itself even has some staying power as a cute decoration.  It makes me curious about the other playsets.  Also, Project Mcoffers some stand-alone activity sets that I'm very curious about.  There's a Soda Pop Science set, a Bubble Gum Lab and McKeyla's Ultimate Lab Kit...to name a few.  These are starting to show up online and can also be seen on the Project Mcwebsite.  I'll admit that I really want McKeyla's Ultimate Lab Set...for myself.

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Bottom line?  Whoa--there was a lot to look at with this new line, and it was a bit of a roller coaster ride for me.  My expectations surrounding a new kind of doll certainly influence my final opinion, and perhaps that isn't fair.  However, when I heard about this highly-articulated group of dolls with natural faces, inset eyes and a S.T.E.M.-based theme...well, my dreams and expectations were really, really high.  I assumed I would fall completely in love with the Project Mc2 dolls.  That didn't end up happening.  My overall impressions about this line are actually quite similar to my overall thoughts about MGA's discontinued B.F.C. Ink girls: the dolls are completely adorable to look at and have an impressive number of joints...but the articulation is loose, the hair is not as nice as it should be, and the packaging is grossly overdone.  However, unlike B.F.C. Ink, Project Mchas a few things that keep me from dismissing the line.  I guess I'd summarize my reaction by saying that I like these dolls despite my better judgement.  I'll explain.

First, the hair.  I'm getting tired of doll hair that comes already tangled and caked with so much styling product that it can barely be combed--certainly not with the tiny decorative plastic combs that come with the doll.  How is this practical?  Doll hair is for playing with.  It should feel nice to the touch and be easy for kids to brush and style.  McKeyla's hair was completely unmanageable right out of the box.  It was tangled, uneven and messy-looking.  Even after a boil wash, I couldn't run a comb through the hair because of the coarse, tangled ends.  Only after I (in a fit of frustration...) chopped off the bottom three inches of McKeyla's hair did she have smooth, reasonably attractive locks that are pleasant to deal with.  Now I'll have to wait and see if the newly-cut ends of hair stay nice over time, or if they eventually turn coarse and frizzy.  Bryden's hair was better out of the box than McKeyla's, but it still has coarse ends.  This seems like a situation similar to the Descendants doll line--where some of the characters have good hair and others do not.  McKeyla does not have good hair, at least not without serious help.

McKeyla after her (hack job) haircut.
McKeyla's articulation is good on paper: she has eleven joints, and most of them are rotating hinges that offer a good range of motion.  These joints behave strangely in person, though.  McKeyla's head bobbles around and her arms can't hold poses very well.  The hip joints on these dolls also tend to be loose.  McKeyla's lower arms, hands and lower legs are all designed to come off, but they can also come off during regular manipulation of the doll. I find the shape of McKeyla's body to be startlingly thin--especially the legs, although this might be more of a personal taste reaction.  The loose joints, bendable vinyl and thin shape of the limbs combine to make McKeyla feel fragile and inexpensive.  However, on the good side, I think this doll has really great feet and I love that her ankles are unarticulated.  Ankle joints would have been too floppy and difficult.  I also appreciate the uniqueness of her body shape, even if it does strike me as too skinny.  Despite their atypical bodies, McKeyla and Bryden can share clothes with a lot of other 11-inch dolls, including Barbie, Disney Store dolls and Liv...they just can't share shoes with each other.

So, what are the main redeeming qualities of the Project Mcdolls?  Well, to me it's the faces, the clothes (for the most part) and the themed accessories.

I love the faces and eyes on these dolls.  I also like that each character has her own face mold--however subtle the differences might be.  The dolls don't look anything like the characters in the television show, but I actually think this is a good thing.  For me, the show didn't add much to the doll line.  If anything, its cartoon-like, unrealistic approach took away from the cool S.T.E.M. theme.  I wish the characters were thinking hard or solving mysteries or something--not just running around and making advanced science look like frivolity.

I also think the clothes in this line are cute and creative.  McKeyla's owl shirt and ultra-short overalls are not my favorite ensemble, but overall MGA has done a nice job of replicating the outlandish outfits from the television show.  I think Adrienne's cat shirt is awesome, as are many of the graphic tees with their geeky slogans and designs.  The unraveling overall straps are the only construction flaw that I've found so far.  In general, the quality of the clothes seems fine.  The shoes are the exception here: McKeyla's right shoe is frustratingly hard to get off and Bryden can't stand up straight in her shoes.

Last, I had a surprising amount of fun with the lava light activity.  It's not very scientific, granted, but it's well-designed, easy to do, and would be a great little afternoon activity for a child.  Even my teenagers were impressed by the completed lamp.  If the other Project Mc2 sets (many of which do look scientific...) have this same level of quality and entertainment value, I'd be very eager to buy them for a younger niece or nephew...or even just for myself.  Science is fun.

In the end, the charming faces, geeky outfits, accompanying activities, and emphasis on science and technology make me want to buy more of the dolls in this series--despite the glaring, frustrating flaws in articulation and hair quality.  Darn you, MGA.  You've blinded me with science.

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72 comments:

  1. I've been hoping you would do a review of these girls!

    While I find them really pretty (especially Miss Attoms), they certainly dropped the ball with the body. Not just the articulation, I'm not a fan of the design! If I remember correctly, Adrienne and Bryden have fashion feet and Cam/McKeyla have flat feet. Odd!

    The hair, according to a few people I know that have the dolls, is saran so it's definitely do-able and shouldn't suffer any damage after cutting it. McKeyla's looks so ratty out of the box!

    Overall this line is not my favorite but I'll be sure to get Adrienne and Bryden some time- I love that they went for a textured hair on her!

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    1. Adrienne is really pretty, I agree. I'm curious to examine her hair because it looks a little smoother than McKeyla's (not hard to do...). I also think Adrienne has the best clothes. :)

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  2. Those faces are just so darn cute... We love Moxie teens in this house and even with the articulation issues we would definitely love these girls. (Even without watching the show.)
    FYI here is a link to the famous portrait of that Afghan girl that Emily refers to (I think)
    http://i.ytimg.com/vi/ciXIaCF80ao/maxresdefault.jpg

    Thanks for another great review Emily!

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    1. Thank you for the link, Sumax! That's the one. I am in love with that portrait. It's so hauntingly beautiful.

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  3. Also, I forgot to say, we use blu-tack to keep wayward Moxie girl doll wigs on. (Mind you, it can be a bit messy removing them.) We have also re-wigged one with a BJD wig.

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    1. Great tips! Thank you. I actually wouldn't even mind gluing some of the wigs on at this point, but I was really surprised to see that the wigs had completely lost their grip these past few years! When they were new, I found them reasonably secure--at least for display and light play.

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  4. I need these dolls! But my wallet is still recovering from the descendants dolls, so I guess I'll wait just a bit, it'll make everything more exciting once I get myself an Adrienne, there's nothing more satisfying than finally getting a doll you've been wanting fresh from the store. Great review, as always!

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    1. I hear you! July was such an expensive month. Ugh. I also agree that waiting for a doll can be part of the fun. I love the anticipation and dreaming stage. :)

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  5. Hi Emily,
    You know I was super excited for this review, so thank you so much for posting it.
    I'm rather disappointed with the end result of these dolls. Camryn's hair looks so beautiful and I love Bryden, however if the articulation is really that bad I don't think these girls are all that worth the money. Also while the science projects seem fun for kids they're kind of basic for teens/grown ups, especially Adrienne's volcano. And it is disappointing that there's no scientific explanation in the instructions.
    My original plan upon seeing these was to get Bryden and boil her hair to look more like Honey Swamp's tight curls and see if I could swap her eyes with Adrienne's, so that she would have brown eyes. But the poor articulation scares me. I guess maybe I'll wait and see if there's a sale on these girls and if so I might pick up a Bryden. I'm sad that these girls didn't get a very good rating from you.
    I value your opinion a lot and I love how thorough you are with your reviews. Thanks for probably saving me a few bucks! :P
    Best wishes, Muzzy

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    1. Oh, thank you, Muzzy! I wanted to like the dolls a lot more, too. It's hard, because after I spend a lot of time with a doll, I tend to start feeling affection for it, regardless of the flaws. This might be a case where another character would have made a better impression. I'll probably review a second doll in the articulated series at some point, just to double-check my conclusions. Well, and also because I want to do another one of the activities. :D They're really simple (and I totally, 100% agree that they should have some explanations with them...) but I like that little lava light!

      I actually like my unarticulated Bryden more than McKeyla, which is weird, and those basic dolls are $10 less than the sets, so there might be some fun body-swapping possibilities....I'll have to look into that, too.

      How would you have gotten Bryden's hair to go into tight curls? That sounds like a fun project! :)

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    2. There was a tutorial that My Froggy Stuff on youtube made a few years back where she wrapped the doll's hair around pipe cleaners, boiled it for 10 seconds or so, and then let it dry completely before removing the pipe cleaners. She got some pretty cute results! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgcEUL9jw1s
      I would love to see what fun things you do with these girls in the future! :D

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  6. As the wife of an IT guy of over twenty years, all I'm gonna say is that the iBesties could have picked better coding heroes than Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. Maybe Admiral Grace Hopper. That would have encouraged a little research, too.

    I'm think the iBesties and these dolls will get too mixed up in people's minds. I certainly got confused when I saw the Project MC2 dolls earlier today at Target.

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    1. Well, now I have to look up Admiral Grace Hopper! I love the idea of making the idol a woman, too. I guess they were trying to stay mainstream, which is unfortunate. I'll admit that I like the iBesties personality profiles and overall concept better than MC2, so I really hope the dolls are well-made and appealing.

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    2. "Under the outer shirt, Muckily is wearing overall shorts and a graphic tee:"

      Who's Muckily? Darn autocorrect😉😉

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  7. Great review, Emily!

    I know this tends to happen to us, but I'm in the process of working on a review of the articulated Project MC2 Mckeyla, too. Great minds must think alike. ;) It was interesting reading your thoughts. Mine are pretty similar, although I ran into a problem with my Mckeyla's arm, and my doll's head didn't have quite as much articulation.

    Would you mind too terribly if I still put my review up? I was planning on getting it up early this next week. I would love to start by linking to your review, which is much more detailed than mine will be. Let me know what you think. :)

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    1. Of course you should still post it! Please!! I know how you feel, though. I never even look for other reviews the week I'm writing one, because I feel so discouraged if I find something similar. There's a lot of curiosity about these dolls...and a lot to say about them. I'm eager to read what you think! :)

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    2. Thanks, Emily. :) It's funny how often we end up thinking of reviewing the same dolls. I just didn't want you to think I was copying you.

      I love your detailed review, and your scientific explanations made me realize just how out of my league I am with the formulas and ewuations and such. ;) Mine will definitely be more of an artsy, non-science-loving person's take. ;)

      Have a great day! I'll let you know when the post is up.

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    3. I feel the same way! But I know you're not copying--the new doll lines are going to get reviewed by everyone, and that's a good thing! Your review will no doubt be a breath of fresh air for those who don't want a science lesson. ;D

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    4. That is hilarious, because I saw these girls in Target and was planning to buy a couple of them as well to put on my blog, DollyPanic. (And also because I like them. ...) They're so cute! I wasn't aware the $15 dolls had no arm and leg articulation. I'm glad I know that now. I really love the face on McKeyla. My Top Two characters were actually the same ones Emily just presented for this review. Great review, Emily, and if I mention these dolls on my blog at all, I'll link to your review. Hugs.

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  8. P.S. Any tips on how you got the 2 to actually be "squared" instead of just a regular 2?

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    1. I use copy and paste "technique", just because I can't remember how to properly do it :D

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    2. You have to hack into the matrix, beastsbelle ;) What I mean is that you have to go into the html code and add superscript tags around the 2 (I can't type these in the comments because the blog thinks I'm actually trying to tag something--it's just the letters 'sup' in tag format). After doing that once, you can copy and paste for the rest--much easier! :D

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    3. Thanks for the tip! I'll see if I can get it right! ;)

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  9. Thank you so, SO much for this review Emily! It's thorough and wonderful. I was really sorely tempted by Bryden (while I know her unnatural bright eyes combined with her darker palette don't appeal to many people, they edge into fantasy eye territory...which is always a very happy place for me :D) but now that I know how frustrating the articulation is, I won't be buying these unless they go on sale. So a big thank you to you for saving me the frustration and money! This review reminds me of a comment someone posted on I think your Vi and Va review--I don't remember the exact wording, but it said that MGA seems to very often have great doll line concepts, but the quality and execution always lets them down. I think that, sadly, summarizes the Project Mc2 dolls as well. :( I can't figure out why non-strung joints would be that loose? Just bad fittings I guess. Maybe Camryn can figure her own joint engineering flaws out? ;)

    Oh, and I found one 'Muckily'--right after you took Mckeyla's jacket off and are examining her suspenders and t-shirt.

    Ugh, I can't write a short note, but one more thing: the Disney Store has gotten in the exclusive Descendants dolls now and there's way more than I thought there would be. Carlos and Jay are available separately, so that's fun.

    Thanks again for saving me from buying Em!

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    1. Hi Melissa! Thank you for alerting me to these dolls in the first place! :D I had a really fun time reviewing them, despite the frustrations. That comment about MGA is spot-on. They do have some wonderful ideas, but the execution is underwhelming. I feel like all of the cheapest materials were used for these MC2 dolls--especially apparent in the bendy stand and the doll's vinyl limbs.

      Did you really find a Muckily?? Ha! That's awesome. I was battling the computer on this the whole time--Muckily and 'Bestirs' for iBesties. I bet there's a way to teach spell check new words, but I was too lazy to figure it out. ;)

      I have seen the Disney Store Descendants. They seem similar to the regular ones but $10 more expensive. Not thrilled to throw money at Disney Store these days, but I'll check them out again! I am curious about Jay.

      I will email you back, too...sorry! I get swallowed up by these reviews and can't get anything else done.

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    2. If only MGA followed through with the excellence of their concepts--then they'd have a huge share of the doll market, and we'd all have loads of fantastic, high quality doll lines to choose from! Maybe one day.

      Oh, 'Bestirs' made me laugh! Bestiary! Hm, I'm not sure if this is how it works for the program you use, but for a lot of engines if, after you type the word and it is marked as wrong, if you right click on it, a menu drops down and you can select 'add to dictionary'. I can't count how many words I've had to add to my collective 'dictionaries'--spell check has a seriously lacking vocabulary for something that's determined to correct you all the time! ;P

      Oh, I didn't know the Disney Store dolls were that much more expensive! Here the Descendants are $25 for the Signatures and $35 for the Coronation and I'm constantly forgetting exchange rates. That's rather terrible that they cost so much more from there! Though now there are those Attractionistas dolls up on it too. They're pretty, but they seem to have only five points of articulation and non-removable outfits, so much more as a display-only doll, I'd say. :/

      I totally understand; not to worry! I get fixated on things extremely easily myself...most of them are pretty peculiar too! Like how to rid one's house of sticker glitter...

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  10. she`s cute. Not my fave though. Can she share bodies? I``d like to see her on a Barbie or Liv body. BTW, New Bratz are hitting stores, if you`re interested.

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    1. I'm very tempted to try a body swap with McKeyla, in particular. She's really pale, though, so it might be hard to find a good match. I'll post if I find anything that works!

      I have a few of the new Bratz dolls here in the house, but I've been too busy to even open the shipping box!! So sad. It was supposed to be my reward for finishing this review...so maybe I will take my first look at them later this morning?? :D I love the promos of the pink-haired Cloe...

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    2. I want to know, too. I'm afraid to try--can they go on the Descendants bodies? Super-Clod me will break the poor thing, probably. I bought the $15 McKeyla last week, and I got as far as removing the outer box. Not ready to tackle the removal process.I want to buy the rest of the dolls, but would like to know about the body swap. Help, anyone? Thanks

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  11. "I'm wondering more and more these days at the necessity of having such ornate packaging."

    There are so many dolls on the shelves that all the makers are trying to make their dolls pop out at you.

    "And, just for the record, I don't really understand why two of something implies that the thing has been squared. That's rarely true: 2x = x2 only when x=2."

    The comments won't allow the power (the little number in the corner). That little number can be any number. If it's x3, that's x to the third power, or x*x*x x4 is x*x*x*x, and so one. There's no reason not to have a power of 2. It's called squared because it's how you find the area of something squares. Take a square of land, and the length and width will be x2, or 2x as you say, but it's the area of a square. Squared.

    Hipsters...oh, god. No. They tend to be pretentious, and there's a reason a lot of people snark on them. Think of the stereotypical beatnik. Add in a pretty hefty dose of entitlement. Now you're getting closer to what a hipster is. To be frank, people I know who identify as hipsters are some of the stupidest people there are. Since I live in one of the hipster-hubs of the US, I know quite a few of them, and believe me, Portland in general wishes the hipsters would get the hell out of here. Colleges think that hipsters sound alluring to teenagers, like saying "lots of hippies!" in the 60's might have sounded cool to the teens of that time.

    Well, I got that far so far, and have to go start this show for my daughter to see if she likes it.

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    1. Oh, no! I see the word 'hipster' everywhere! It's helpful to hear this more realistic definition. Maybe we should steer clear of the colleges that are actively trying to attract this crowd? One of my kids pointed out how snobby some of the tee shirts are in this line ("I AM the sharpest pencil in the box!") which, frankly, I hadn't even noticed. That seems to fit more with the impression you have of the pseudo intellectuals. Sigh.

      With the x squared example, I was trying to say that 2 of some number is equal to that number squared (or that number to the second power) only when the number is actually 2. So, 2 x 2 is the same as 2 squared, but there's no other number for which that works. For example, 2 x 4 is not the same as 4 squared, and 2 x 6 is not the same as 6 squared, etc. I was thinking, "why would two Mc necessarily be the same as Mc squared?" However, given that 'Mc' isn't a number at all, my argument is pretty lame. Might have been a little hipster-y of me, come to think of it. ;)

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    2. Well there is hipster as an aesthetic style and then there is the hipster personality type. I think MGA was going for the first one not the second. You do not have to have the hipster personality type to dress in a hipster style but usually people with hipster personalities will dress in a hipster style. It's kinda like how someone can dress goth but still be a generally cheerful person but gloomy goths generally dress gothic.

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  12. My 5-year-old was hooked before the opening credits were finished.

    To get those plastic ties off, I use a small pair of pointed embroidery scissors. Easy to get right next to the scalp without snipping hair.

    (This show is kind of annoying me now....)

    It took me a minute to get what the problem with the shirt is, and it's still not a problem, in my opinion.

    Interesting that Bryden's eye makeup is pixelated. And I think her eyes and McKeyla's eyes are green just for some variety. All the actresses have brown hair.

    My daughter's losing interest in the show already, but she loves science, and so I may get her one or two of these dolls to see if they keep her interest the way the Monster High dolls have.

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  13. Thanks for the excellent review! I haven't heard of these dolls or the show but I think it's a good idea, teaching young girls (and guys) about science and making it groovy ;-) Mmm I wish they were more nicely made, like their faces are so beautiful but the fact that their hair and bodies are a bit.. Meh. That puts me off a tad :( But I think I might invest in one of the sets and see in person! Also my favourite characters would have to Bryden! She looks very exotic and I love it!! ^.^ Thanks again for the review Emily :D
    -Lydia
    http://dollyfernfriends.blogspot.co.nz

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  14. I've had the hardest time trying to comment ! Is it this difficult for everyone? LOVE faces, will def rebody.

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  15. Hi Emily!

    I'm not going to lie, I've been eagerly awaiting this review. When I saw how MGA combined the science theme with the "traditional" femininity seen in dolls and society, I fell head over heels in love. But I ( reluctantly ) had to tell myself to wait for in depth reviews on this line, due to how much they'd cost in SGD ( about $50! ) And I'm glad and kind of upset with myself for doing so, because I really wanted to love this line enough to have either McKeyla or Adrienne in my hands.

    But after seeing how you and a few others comment on how loose and cheap the articulation is, and how the hair quality is coarse and scraggly out of the box, I think I'm better off with an EAH doll. Which is kind of saddening. The concept for this line had so much potential, I would have loved to give it the support it deserves! Unfortunately, the execution doesn't deserve as much.... Oh well. Maybe I'll still get Adrienne when these go on clearance sales? Her hair doesn't seem as bad in a review by Rayedelsol: http://rayedelsol.com/project-mc2-adrienne-attoms/ I also really like her socks.

    Thanks for the review, Emily! :D

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  16. Ooh I hate those plastic tabs in the heads. I posted a video a while back on Tumblr with how I remove them. Sometimes they break, but they usually come out. It might help with deboxing future dolls, if you want to take a look.
    http://cheshiretiffy.tumblr.com/post/113107167988/the-best-way-ive-found-to-get-those-annoying

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  17. I noticed these dolls on the self last week and was looking forward to seeing your review of them - I'm glad I waited, because from my quick glance a the shelves I'd had no idea there were two different body types.

    It's too bad that both bodies have engineering problems, because the concept seems so solid. Still, it's nice to see that the faces are just as appealing out of the packaging as they were on the shelf!

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  18. As always, a great review. Very detailed and thorough. I haven't seen these dolls out anywhere, but after seeing your review, I won't be adding them to my collection. I am not a fan of the big headed dolls and the poor body quality is a show stopper for me.

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  19. Super glad you've reviewed her! I've been looking at them and had to leave the girls behind a few times but definitely wanted at least a Bryden & Camryn (skinny box Bryden almost came home with me and would've had she her articulation). I'm curious about them and can tell I'll like the series but don't want to watch it until I have at least one of the dolls ;3

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  20. I watched The Doll Circle's review on the articulated Camryn awhile ago, and I believe that they had a similar experience with loose joints and the hair. It's rather disappointing.

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  21. Faces are so cute! Bodies are blah. I think I will buy from the cheaper, non-articulated line for face + clothes, then re-body with a Descendants doll body. Descendants have the opposite problem for me, I like the bodies but I am kind of iffy on the heads. So if I take parts of each doll that I like and combine... problem solved, perhaps? :)

    I think Bryden and McKeyla are my favorites. I love that the clothing is so many separate pieces. And omg, the clothes look GREAT on Descendants body! Indeed, better than the clothes that those Descendants dolls originally come with.

    I'm curious about what could be done customization wise... I'd like to try repaint but I don't know how one would keep the sealant from mucking up the eyelashes and inset eyes. Hm.

    Nonetheless, I guess I hold out hope for perhaps better engineered bodies in the future. From my experience, I doubt they'd shell out for revisions of the actual shapes of anything, because tooling the molds is extremely expensive, BUT if the problem with the loose joints is not the tooling but the particular plastic used shrinking too much then there's a chance that it could be easily solved.

    I kind of like where the fashion is going but not sure it always pulls together. Also, smarmy bragging about your supposed brainpower just comes off as both tacky and just plain... stupid. Who would wear that, really? There's a difference between confidence and arrogance.

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  22. Thanks for the thorough review, Emily. We can always count on you. I was curious about these dolls but before I went out and bought one I wanted to read your review first. Their bodies are disappointing. With all of those problems they are priced too high. But I may get one and do a body swap and maybe an eye swap for Bryden.

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  23. What types of shoes can fit on bryden and what types of dolls can fit bryden's shoes?

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  24. I saw a picture of these dolls on another blog, and I really wanted you to do a review on these dolls! Then, I went on your blog and I saw a review on them! I was super excited to read it! After reading it though, I was slightly disappointed in the quality of the dolls, but I want one for myself! Great review! Are you going to review the rest of the dolls you bought?

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  25. Great and very thorough review, as always a delight to read.

    It's a pity that MGA has great doll concepts, but always seems to drop the ball on the execution.

    Regarding plastic ties in doll heads: I'm ripping them out with the tongs on my Leatherman multitool. It's a brutal, but working approach, when done carefully. I had good results on MH and EAH dolls, getting the plastic ties out completely, and mostly good results on MGA dolls (older Bratz), because the plastic ties seemed to be glued in.

    Gamer-kun

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  26. Do they all have STEM puns for last names? I see Attoms (atoms) and Bandweth (bandwidth), anything else?

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    1. I wonder if Camryn's last name (Coyle) is for the Tesla coil?

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  27. I like the 'I'm smart, deal with it,' catchphrase despite the implied 'arrogance' because girls are so often told to tone down their confidence, be quieter, more modest, and more unassuming, to not take credit for their own ideas and to not be pushy or bold. I like 'I'm smart, deal with it,' in the context of a girl specifically excelling in science and having her intelligence most likely called into question constantly. Boy characters get away with this in spades: Iron Man is more than just slightly arrogant, Hawkeye is cocky, Hans Solo, Captain Kirk, and everyone finds this appealing and lovable. I don't see a problem with getting girls to be confident about their smartness as long as no one's being put down or insulted. (A shirt saying 'you're not as smart as me' or 'surrounded by idiots' would have been crossing the line, to me.)

    I have the basic Bryden doll and I was worried about leg joint looseness, but she's fine out of the box! Hair's definitely a tad dry, though, but I like the texture and crinkly kink in it. I think I'll pass on the articulated ones, after reading this review and a few others that make a point of mentioning the light, cheap way they feel. I'm happy with my solid, unarticulated Bryden, although I reaaally like those adorably sculpted feet on the more expensive dolls!

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  28. Re the hair: is it gel that can be washed out, or is it glue leaking from inside the head?

    My hopes for this line were high too, so it's disappointing to hear about the floppy joints. Agree about the body proportions and weird sticky-out-y shoulders. On the other hand, I really like the clothes, and the red boots! I'd definitely get one, maybe as a body donor (floppy joints are better than none).

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    1. The gel can be washed out. I just got two today, and it's definitely not glue leaking from inside the head. The joints are fine on the two I got, too. Not as nice as you'd find on $100 collector's dolls, but nice enough for the price.

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  29. For me at least, the body can be a deal-breaker. I adore the face (although I do wish they had a blue-eyed doll), and each character has unique looks (I love Bryden's light green eyes, she could almost be Afghani), but something doesn't sit right with me about their bodies. I don't know, it's probably the fact that they add little details like the design of the arms and the decision to add sculpted bones in order to make it seem more realistic, but then the bodies have no stomach, yet out-of-proportionally large rears and busts. Also, their limbs are sticks! They almost make the body look to thick to hold them. I'd be interested to see a Liv/Mc body hybrid. I hope MGA goes back to the drawing board on these before letting another doll line of theirs flop (which seems to be a trend with them).

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    1. PS: Are you going to look at the My Imagination 18-inch dolls by Tonner when they come out?

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  30. I would like to know what shoes can be used in PMC² dolls and if their shoes fit other dolls
    I loved the review!! Those dolls are amazing!

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  32. Hi Emily,
    As always, a wonderfully thorough review.
    I was just wondering if the Project MC² dolls can share clothes with Ever After High dolls?

    Jo

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  33. Hi! These dolls are really nice! I like MGA so much :-) amazing review!

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  34. I'm really glad I waited for reviews on these dolls, I like them a lot but the joints are sadly cheap it seems. I was going to get the jointed McAlister doll but now I think I'll try one of the basic ones first... I'm glad your reviews are so honest.

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  35. Great review! I appreciate seeing both body types. The fashion feet on the non-articulated body make me think the articulated doll is more in line with the science concept of the line. Still a lot of dolls have so many issues that they're opportunities missed to be successful.

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  36. I've already seen MC2 heads put on Ever After High bodies and the effect is super cute. I myself am thinking I'll try Liv bodies. Those faces are too darn charming to deny, but I don't really care for their bodies or clothes.

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  37. Thanks so much for the thorough review! I had a TRU coupon so decided to use it on articulated McKeyla after seeing her on your blog. Her joints are fine and hold poses so she will keep this body. The left elbow is a little weak, that's the only problem and I'm OK with that. I agree the legs are a little on the stick thin side but they'd look fine in pants, it's the darn short shorts. TRU had two McKeylas in stock, the one I left behind had a good chunk of the lower lip paint missing so, sigh, apparently that's something to look out for.

    They remind me so much of Liv dolls, which is great because I still love Liv. :)

    It is a shame the articulated dolls are $25, that seems like a lot of money for a doll aimed at tweens and young teens when Monster High budget dolls are so much cheaper and still cool. Hopefully there are future waves that don't have a project so they're cheaper. I'm guessing articulated doll sans project would knock $5 off the price? I'd like to eventually have one of each articulated girl represented in my collection but will need to wait for clearance sales.

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  38. "Blinded me with science"--snicker!snort :)

    Great review; glad now I got the basic McKeyla, as I am not a huge fan of over-articulation.

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  39. EXCELLENT review - I've been waiting for this since the teaser photos of these dolls started showing up!
    I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that since there are four dolls with an even split on the foot molds - 2 fashion and 2 flat - the lower legs being detachable MAY enable you to swap feet between them if you have all four. Maybe.

    I'm in agreement with a lot of the commenters; those bodies are serious deal-breakers, cute feet or no. I'm thinking of picking up basic Bryden myself and swapping her head onto something else.

    Random tidbit, that backpack is the exact same one as comes in one of the Bratzillaz fashion packs, just different colors.

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  40. wszystkie mc2 project dolls podobają mi się bez zastrzeżeń :)))
    będę polowała do skutku na całą uroczą czwóreczkę panienek ♥

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  41. Hi! can you prove McKeyla's overall in any EAH doll?
    Also do you know if Lottie clothes can fit in EAH dolls? I mean overalls, shorts and shirts?
    Thank you very much.

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  42. HI love the review love the dolls, however, my doll (Mykala) came off after one week. Going to see if Target will replace it.

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  43. Hi Emily! I finally got my McKeyla review up after all this time! You can see it Here if you're interested.

    I linked back to your review and mentioned you several times since you went into so much more detail.

    Have a great week! :)

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  44. I have 3 of this dolls.
    Mckeyla core edition, gorgeous face I even like the hair . Bryden? The girl with dark skin and green eyes , the second edition budget doll with the lighning bolt esrrings. Ivlove her too and her clothes! Cool retro 80s look so cute awesome crimped hair , and Mckeyla with the lilac hair. Shes so pretty love the hair color.
    I adore their head , most beautiful faces out there in playline For me.
    The body is really dissapointing in both articulated and non- articulated version.
    I dont have any problems with the torso , but the limbs and super skinny necks bother me. I love her pelvic region and her waist , I even like their flat flat bellies, but the legs and arms that make her shoulders look droopy turns me off.
    I hate the fact that Mckeylas all come with the super flat manly feet ew. I highly preffer the pointed dancer feet its just more feminine to me.
    Their faces dont dissapoint. Gorgeous faces although Miss Atoms eyes and sculpt are not to my liking . The redhead doesnt capture my attention either. Must be the sculpt.

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  45. Wow, thanks for this review i almost bought one but, this review has made me have second thoughts.

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  46. hola yo tengo la misma muñeca (solo que sin accesorios porque la compre suelta) y la mía si se mantiene en pie, con o sin zapatos, y no tiene flojos los brazos, el único pero que le pondría es que su pelo es un desatre y que no son baratas.

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I value and welcome all opinions, but comments with abusive or offensive language will be deleted.