Today I want to show you something called the Mommy-to-be Judith doll. This doll was developed in Europe (I think?) and introduced into the United States in 1991 (back when I was a kid). There's not much information about these dolls on the internet, but there's a Chicago Tribune article from 1992 that's been archived online. This article states that Judith is believed to be the first pregnant play doll distributed in the United States. That's pretty cool! Of course Mattel came along a decade later with their pregnant Midge doll, but the Judith Corporation was apparently first on the scene.
So why is Judith a good doll for the Sunday Surprise? Well, because the gender and appearance of her little baby is a mystery! And, what makes this doll unusually fun is that the company put boy babies in half of their dolls and girls in the other half (according to the Tribune article). So I have an actual 50:50 chance of getting a little boy today! Better yet, I'm going to de-box two Judith dolls, and while this won't change the odds of either baby being a boy...at least I have two chances.
|Mommy-to-be Judith doll (1991).|
The original release of Judith dolls had two variants--black and white--each wearing the same outfit. My favorite is the black Judith, and apparently I'm not alone in this assessment because she tends to be the more expensive of the two.
With shipping, this doll cost $32.75:
Judith came in a pink cardboard box with a partial plastic window.
The front of the box is decorated with photographs of the doll and her baby-producing belly mechanism. The first picture shows the pregnant doll:
|With a really nice bra that isn't included.|
The other pictures show how the (redheaded!) baby pops out to expose Judith's perfectly flat belly:
|If only it worked that way.|
There's some criticism floating around about how unrealistic this magical baby-producing belly is, but it doesn't bother me. I mean, I wouldn't expect (or even want) a doll with a realistic birthing mechanism. This looks like a clever design.
At the bottom of the box, the doll is awkwardly described as "pregnant Judith with a baby in her stomach." The stomach is a digestive organ. For digesting food. Being pregnant and having a baby-filled stomach are two very different things:
|Which one is it, Judith?|
A pregnant doll sounds fun, but if Judith has just eaten a baby, well...that's not the kind of surprise I'm looking for. It would imply a completely different baby delivery mechanism, too.
There's a section of text that appears on either side of Judith's box:
This blurb mentions the other accessories available in this line, including Judith's husband, Charlie:
|Husbands are the best accessories.|
The back of the box has pictures of some of these accessory sets (all modeled by the white version of Judith):
One picture shows Judith in a new outfit wearing a baby carrier:
I'm not sure what the "not included" caption refers to here. Is the baby carrier not included with that Judith doll, or do they just mean that none of these things are included with the doll I bought? Or, is the baby carrier--like the maternity bra--just a prop for pictures?
Anyway, the other picture shows a frazzled-looking Judith in a different outfit with her baby in a crib:
|Judith...reaching for martini.|
The crib isn't included, either. Not including things seems to be an emerging theme with the Judith line.
I guess this photo is showing two accessory sets: Judith and her baby, and then the separate baby crib? It's all slightly confusing.
The doll is made in China using free adult labor, which is nice:
The adults weren't working for free, presumably, but just working of their own free will. I don't think I've ever seen this kind of statement written on a doll box before. Does that mean that free labor is implied these days, or that we no longer pay attention? That's a sobering thought.
Judith is also advertised as being Europe's Doll of the Year for 1991:
Judith herself is mounted on a bright pink backdrop that slides out of the main box:
She has curly dark hair with some kind of hair ornament peeking out:
Judith has tiny little feet that are packaged without shoes:
The shoes are in a plastic bag that's attached to the side of the backdrop:
Judith has sensible, flat-soled sneakers that seem like a responsible choice during pregnancy:
The shoes have some molded detail, but the molding job is sloppy. All of the edges are ragged and the vinyl is thin and warped:
Judith's feet are set at a bit of an angle. The arches aren't flat, but they aren't as sloped as, say, a Barbie doll's fashion feet:
|They are about the same size as a Barbie foot.|
The legs are made out of rubbery, flexible vinyl, though, so if any weight is placed on Judith's feet...
...they suddenly sit flat against the ground.
These feet don't mix well with the shoes, though. When Judith wears her sneakers, her legs tip backwards to try and accommodate the sloped arches:
She cannot balance on her own at all, and does not come with a doll stand.
I used one of the Kaiser stands I have laying around, and this worked well:
Judith's acid-washed jean dress is straight out of the 80s. Her iridescent little hat doesn't match the casual style of the outfit very well, but it's a fun accent:
The outfit is all one piece that closes in back with a partial velcro seam.
The outfit is not especially flattering because it's not tailored to fit Judith's pregnant belly. However, the shape will probably work with the flat, post-baby tummy, too.
The little hat is shaped like a leaf and attaches to Judith's head with a band of elastic:
There's also a white rubber band holding Judith's hair, but this band has lost some of its elasticity over the decades:
The hat is made out of stiff fabric and is stitched into a leaf-like shape with a midline seam:
There's a tiny pearly bead at the front of the seam:
I took the rubber band out of Judith's ponytail and parted the hair in back to get a look at the rooting:
This pattern looks really sparse, but the volume of the curls makes Judith's hair feel nice and full.
In fact, there's an impressive amount of volume when the hair is loose:
I tied the curls back into a single ponytail. I think this looks good:
I really like this doll's face. She has a peaceful, kind expression and her coloring is subtle and attractive:
Judith has brown eyes with huge, dark pupils. The proportions in the eyes seem weird at first, but I think perhaps the black area that looks like a pupil is actually meant to be a very dark iris. This is how it comes across from a distance, anyway.
The eyes are accented with some pale brown eyeshadow that almost matches the brown in the eyes:
Judith has a wide nose and thick, bow-shaped lips that are painted a natural light peach color:
Judith's profile is dwarfed by the volume of her thick hair:
Here's a closer look at her face in profile:
She looks happy and satisfyingly realistic.
I like her best in half-profile:
The dress is a little hard to remove, mostly because it only opens part of the way down the back, but also because Judith has rubbery limbs that create friction against the fabric.
Here's the dress (the thick denim fabric allows this piece to stand on its own!):
Under the dress, Judith was wearing some maternity underwear:
The underwear helps hold the belly in place, which is nice, but it's pretty funny-looking, especially when coupled with Judith's egg-like profile:
|Humpty Dumpty undies.|
That picture makes me think of this.
Here's the view from the back:
|Do you think Judith was made in China?|
From the back you can also see that Judith's torso is held together with a few inset screws. Her back is marked "Judith:"
Here's the torso without the underpants:
It's not the most realistic pregnancy shape, but it's good enough to get the point across:
The profile view makes me think of plastic Easter eggs, though:
Judith has seven points of articulation (neck, arms, hips, knees). Her arms and legs are made out of bendable vinyl and her torso is hard plastic.
She has internal click joints in her knees:
Her elbows do not have any joints, but the vinyl is soft enough that she can bend her arms a little.
She has a gold dot on her left hand to represent a wedding band:
I tried to pose Judith at this point in the review. She can't do splits or sit upright on the ground...at least not with her belly in place:
As I was posing Judith, her belly kept threatening to pop off. I decided that it was a perfect time to deliver the baby!
This time I'm going to do things a little differently, though. Because I have realistic odds for getting a boy or a girl baby, I'm going to pick two names before I reveal the baby...just like real life!
I mixed things up by using Bounty.com's baby name generator to choose a surprise first name. Once I had the first name, I headed over to Bestlittlebaby.com's middle name generator to pick a middle name!
First, if it's a boy, he'll be called...
Matteo! Ooh! I really like that. I got lucky.
I plugged Matteo into the middle name generator, and actually got a bunch of options that I could choose from:
This is tough. I was hoping for just one name...but that's ok. I think I like Matteo Raoul the best. It has a nice ring to it.
Now--on to the girl name!
Imaan! Wow. I swear this name was random, but it's oddly coincidental to the review since the model Iman married David Bowie in 1992 (right after the Judith doll came out) and David Bowie just died this year. :(
Anyway, here are the middle names that were offered for Imaan:
Of these, I like Shaunte and Cadence best. I like Shaunte because it reminds me of shanti, which means peace. I'll pick Cadence, though, because it's a musical term and, well, I'm thinking about David Bowie.
So...the baby will be Matteo Raoul or Imaan Cadence. Cool names.
Are you ready to meet him or her?? I am!
What do you think it will be?
The belly is held onto Judith's torso with two little clips--one on either side. These are really easy to release...
Once those clips were free, the belly just tumbled right off! And there was the baby:
It occurred to me at this stage that I had no idea how I was going to know if the baby was a boy or a girl. There's no diaper or pink bow or anything like that.
I had a moment of dread when I wondered if this was just going to be a generic baby with no gender whatsoever. Little Mataan or Imatteo, I guess?
I wiggled the baby around a bit and then, snap! The flat tummy piece sprung up from inside Judith's torso and pushed the baby all of the way out! Whoa!
This really is a neat mechanism. The flat belly is spring-loaded, and so it can be pushed back inside the torso, like this...
...and the baby can fit back inside to re-enact the "birth" over and over again. Fun!
Here's the little baby:
I sat it up and--oh, hello! I suddenly saw how I was going to determine the gender:
This little fellow is anatomically correct...and HE IS A BOY!!!
He might also be a demon, though. Look at those eyes:
|My daddy is Chucky...uh...I mean Charlie.|
He has a funny little pudgy face and red demon eyes. I might have to get out a dark Sharpie pen or something to fix those. It's unnerving.
Little Matteo has five points of articulation and is made out of semi-soft solid brown vinyl. He has beady eyes and huge fists, this kid, but he's pretty cute for such a tiny little doll.
Here's a look at Judith with her newly-transformed body:
I was able to pose her more easily without the pregnant belly in place.
The forward movement of her legs is limited, but she can still do convincing front-to-back splits:
Her hips and shoulders do not move from side-to-side at all, though, they're just simple rotating joints.
Judith does not have too many posing options. She can sit on the ground, but even without her pregnant belly, she can't sit fully upright in this position:
Judith is about the same size as a Barbie doll, although her shape is more simplified and angular:
|Judith doll, Made-to-Move Barbie.|
To compare pregnancy shapes, here's Judith next to Mattel's Happy Family Midge:
|Judith doll, Happy Family Midge.|
Midge's belly attaches with two magnets and has a more graceful, natural shape:
Under that belly, Midge has a typical (solid) Barbie body.
Here's another shot with Judith and her pregnancy belly so that you can compare the two:
Midge's maternity outfit is more flattering than Judith's, too. Judith can wear Midge's dress, though...kind-of. The fit is not perfect, but it works:
Matteo and Midge's baby (Nikki) are also about the same size:
|Happy Family Midge's baby (left) and Judith Mommy-to-be's baby (right).|
Nikki is a little smaller, but that doesn't prevent her from looking like she's going to haul off and punch Matty in the nose in this next picture:
|Why I oughta...|
Poor little guy. I think those red eyes really tick people off. He's a bit like Rudolph the reindeer, I guess.
Matteo is just big enough that he can't fit into Nikki's little shirt...which is too bad, since he doesn't come with any clothes of his own:
Judith does not have a Barbie-esque hourglass figure, so I was curious to see how she compared to my Lammily Photographer, Aurelia:
|Judith Mommy-to-be doll (left) and Lammily Photographer (right).|
There are some pretty big differences here (even if you ignore the contrast in skin tones...). Aurelia has a longer (wider) torso, more shapely limbs, and a smaller head.
I put Judith back in her original outfit:
As predicted, this dress looks fine without the baby belly, but it's pretty shapeless and outdated.
I decided to try some Lammily clothes on Judith. From the Scottish outfit, the pants are too loose but the top fits well:
|Judith doll in Lammily clothing.|
I settled on this combination of the original Lammily shirt and a Curvy Barbie skirt:
|Judith doll in Lammily and Curvy Barbie clothing.|
The denim ombre shirt is a nice way to pay homage to Judith's original outfit while also modernizing her overall appearance.
One of the biggest problems with the Judith doll is that she doesn't have enough arm articulation to actually be able to hold her baby. This seems like a pretty big flaw for a doll that's all about pregnancy.
I tried tying Matteo onto Judith's hand...but this didn't create quite the right emotion:
|Her serene, loving face suddenly looks distant and calculating.|
|Fun with baby.|
Matty is dressed in a mini Cabbage Patch diaper in these pictures, by the way.
Judith can hold Matty out in front of her--like in the cover shot--but he's always at arm's length, as though she's not quite sure what to do with him:
|Here. You take the demon baby.|
I tried to use the flexibility of Judith's arms to my advantage. I tied one of her hands to the opposite elbow, hoping this would create a cradled space for Matteo:
I fine-tuned this by tucking Judith's free hand into her sleeve:
I think this is as good as it's going to get.
Towards the end of my photo session, I tried to make Judith sit down, and her left leg snapped off:
I find this break really confusing. I can't tell exactly what happened.
Here's the hip side of the joint:
And here's the leg side:
The ragged-looking part in the middle is made out of hard (but crumbling) plastic, and the surrounding area is soft vinyl.
There doesn't seem to be anything else rattling around inside the torso. So what exactly broke? And what was creating the hip articulation to begin with?
My best hypothesis is that the plastic peg of the joint reacted with the vinyl in the leg and the peg just slowly dissolved over the past 27 years.
With Judith #1 out of commission, I turned my attention to Judith #2, who I'll refer to as Judy:
Judy's packaging is exactly the same as Judith's:
But her face mold is different. It has a tinge of crazy in it:
Sadly, Judy didn't even make it out of the box with her legs intact.
Her legs were being held in place by the wire ties in the backdrop--and nothing else. The right leg fell off as soon as I detached Judy from her packaging:
This break doesn't add many clues to my analysis of this problem, except that maybe there's even less plastic left in the middle of this joint:
Here's the hip side, for anyone who's curious:
This side looks like it has some clear glue around the joint...but that really doesn't make any sense to me.
Let's take a quick look at Judy despite her broken leg.
She has wild, thin, flyaway platinum blonde hair tied into a ponytail and accented with a pink scrunchie:
Her bangs are huge.
I took the ponytail down and discovered that Judy has even less hair than Judith. The whole back of this head is bald--the only rooting is along the hairline:
I brushed the hair out. The fiber is soft, but not sleek and shiny--it resembles synthetic mohair.
While I was brushing her hair, Judy's head popped off:
I might be the only one in the world who remembers this silly rhyme, but I can't look at the picture, above, without thinking to myself, momma had a baby then her head popped off! We used to sing that while decapitating dandelions. Please don't judge.
Anyway, looking at that exposed neck joint, there's really not much to prevent the head from popping off any time, but this is normal for a Judith doll. The other head does this, too.
Fortunately, it's easy to pop the head back on:
|Oh man, that hair.|
I pulled Judy's thin hair back into a ponytail and lifted her bangs away from her face so that I could look at her features:
|I don't like how she's looking at me...|
Most of Judy's eye paint is blue--including her eyelashes and pupils:
She has a bit of a sideways glance...or appears to. Her irises are actually positioned right in the center of her eyes. The reflective dots give her the impression of looking off to the left.
She has a (slightly forced) toothy smile and dimples:
This face is a lot like a Barbie face...but with an extra dose of crazy thrown in. One of the many reasons that I prefer the black Judith doll is that her face mold is original.
What's sad is that I barely cared what Judy's face looked like at this point--or that her leg had broken off, for that matter. I just wanted to see that surprise baby! Maybe it has red hair!!
Time to deliver another baby!
I'm going to pick baby names again, because it's super-fun for me. I hope you guys don't mind.
For a boy, Judy has decided to choose the name...
Alae. Alae? I've never heard of this name before. It's not my favorite, I'll admit, but that might just be because it's one consonant away from being "algae." Algae is an awesome group of organisms, but would not be a great name for a kid.
I need to pick a strong middle name to balance this out:
Not Herb. Let's just get that out of the way.
This is tough. Alae Ainsley is too alliterative, Alae Maddison is a bit too feminine...how about Alae Quintrell? I like how that rolls off the tongue. I also like Alae Bensen. I'll go with that.
Let's hope for an easier mission with the girl's name:
Phew! Sianna is nice. Kinda like Sienna, but with a twist.
And to go with Sianna, we have...
Oh, wow. I feel like a lot of these don't go at all. Like Sianna Sandria and Sianna Vivianna? Too much repetition.
I guess I like Sianna Carden. That's an unusual pick, but it balances Sianna well.
Ok, Judy....let's see if you have a little Alae Bensen or a little Sianna Carden in there!
Place your bets!
I released the tabs and got a peek...
Then, when the belly popped off, I got a full-blown look at the RED HAIR!!
And then, Sianna boldly revealed herself!
Here she is:
She has Judy's
psycho bright blue eyes, that's for sure!
What's neat here is that Sianna has the same body mold as Matteo, but she has a different face mold--and different hair:
Here are the two little tykes together:
As I took this shot from the back, I think Sianna got her first look at what makes boys different from girls...
|What in the world is THAT??|
I'm pretty attached to these funny little goofballs, which is probably a good thing because they're about all I have left at the end of this review.
The Judith duo is a bit of a loss overall because of their irreparably broken legs...although I appreciate the fact that these two lost opposite limbs:
|I can work with that.|
The black Judith has a wonderful head, so I'll definitely keep her around and try to find a body donor for her (she'd be great on a Liv body!). So far it's been challenging to match her particular shade of vinyl.
Bottom line? I had a blast with these dolls. Not only did I get to travel back in time about 30 years to view America's first pregnant fashion doll, but I got two surprise babies...one of whom is a boy! Finally!! And not only that, he's an anatomically correct boy, which is awesome (and rare...at least in the doll world).
However, I have to caution against buying these Judith dolls on the secondary market--especially if the price is over $20. Had only one of my dolls' legs fallen off, I could have attributed the mishap to poor storage conditions or a freak defect. The fact that both of these girls lost a leg in the same way suggests that there's a serious design flaw that cannot stand the test of time. To corroborate this, I've read some reviews online that report similar occurrences. Judith is not an especially well-made doll.
If you're like me, though, and would cherish a fun trip back in time or a great surprise (with a cute squidgy-faced baby as a souvenir!) then Judith might be the right doll for you.