My Way Kids by Geppeddo

 This is a cross-post from the My Twinn Project Shop--for reference.

...anyway, for those of you who, like me, were clueless about these little dolls, I'm going to do a Toy Box Philosopher-type introduction and review of this unusual line!

My Way Kid doll, 2001-2004.
I stumbled across these dolls while I was doing one of my semi-regular eBay My Twinn hunts.  eBay's recommendation software must have been in gear, because a little thumbnail picture from a My Way Kid auction popped up on my screen out of nowhere.  The doll looked like a mini My Twinn!  I was instantly curious.

I took a look at the recommended auction and then did a search to see what other My Way Kid items were available on eBay (answer: not a lot).  Eager for more information, and giddy with the prospect of a new type of doll to research, I quit eBay and started a more broad internet search, hoping to spend the entire afternoon learning about these dolls.  My search only lasted about four minutes, though, because there's practically no information to be found about the My Way Kids.

All was not lost, though, because Maria at Just Magic has a lovely write-up on the line, including several pictures and a broad overview of the Geppeddo company as a whole.  It's definitely worth a read.

I learned from Just Magic that these dolls were produced between 2001 and 2004, and were sold in mall kiosks.  Kids could choose the combination of eye color, hair color, hair style, skin color, and face mold that they wanted, and then the corresponding doll would be assembled for them while they shopped.  How fun is that?!

The Just Magic article is great, but I wanted to know more.  I went back to eBay and purchased a few of the dolls just to see what I could learn from them in person.

Here's one of the girls I bought:


This doll cost me $20 plus shipping, so about $35 total.  She came wearing underwear, a nightgown, and matching bunny slippers.  I think the bunny slippers are adorable!

This is what the underwear looks like:


The tank top opens in the back with nice, chunky plastic snaps.  This makes it so much easier to put on and take off than the My Twinn underwear!


Here's a closer look at her face:


She has an uneven, messy wig, bright blue eyes, and an endearing smile.

The wig is of fair quality.  It's not as nice as My Twinn or American Girl wigs, but it's reasonably thick and has a decent texture.  I found the overlong bangs a hassle to deal with, though, so I pulled the wig off.  It came off really easily.  It's a wonder it hadn't fallen off by itself in all of these years.  

Here's a look at the head without the wig:


These dolls have plastic inset eyes with a fairly good level of detail.  Some of the eye colors are much better than others.  I think this electric blue is one of the least-attractive colors.

The dolls have applied upper lashes and painted lower lashes.  Their eyebrows are painted in a series of very simple, widely-spaced lines:


Here's one of the more appealing dolls that I bought, to show you a bit of variety:


This one has very pretty green eyes and red hair (more lopsided bangs, though).


She comes with a little plush teddy bear who's wearing a coordinating outfit (and matching bunny slippers!):


The bear's shirt is removable, but the slippers are not.

As I understand it, each doll also came with a tag to document all of the different features that were chosen.  This tag is from a different doll, not the one shown above:


You'll see on that tag that the face is listed as "Freckled Cutie."  My research turned up three different My Way Kid face molds--and three skin tones.

Here are the three skin tones:

My Way Kids skin tones: dark, medium, and light.

You might notice that the tops of the dolls' heads (the pates) do not always match their skin tone.  These pates all seem to have been the same, medium color.

Each of these dolls also has a different face mold, and each face mold has a name given to it by Geppeddo:

From left: Cutie, Tender, and Mischievous.
Let me show you all three of the faces again, but all in the medium skin tone so that the differences are easier to spot.

Here is the Cutie face:

Cutie
This is the Mischievous face:

Mischievous
And this is the Tender face:

Tender
The Cutie and Mischievous faces are quite similar, but you can see on close inspection that the Cutie face has a wider smile and eyes that are angled.  The Tender face is very different from the other two.  It reminds me of a baby doll face.

I have two reasons to believe that there was a fourth face mold at one point.  One reason is that I've seen a face label that says "Innocent."  The other reason is that the catalog picture posted on the Just Magic site has a doll with a face that is different from the three I've shown you here.

I hope it's ok to re-post the thumbnail so you can see what I mean:

Not like the others.
It's possible that the doll in this picture was just a prototype who was never made, but it could also be the Innocent face.  Either way, I really like the face and wish I could find one!

With all of that information under my belt, I wanted to see what kind of quality and customization potential these dolls have.  Many of the ones I've seen on eBay seem like they could use a little makeover.

For experimentation purposes, I found this wig-less, naked My Way Kid on eBay for $8.00:

The guinea pig.
This girl has the medium skin tone and the Mischievous face mold.

These dolls are over 19 inches from head to toe, and so they're taller (and much slimmer) than 18-inch play dolls like My Twinn and American Girl:

My Way Kid (left) and 18-inch My Twinn (right).
The My Way Kids have vinyl feet that slant upwards at the heel--like the dolls are about to stand on their tiptoes.  This is a terrible design that makes no sense to me:

Why would you make doll feet like that?
This foot shape means that the dolls have a horrible time standing on their own--especially when they're barefoot (or in, say, soft slippers).

My first undertaking with this doll was to try and flatten her feet so she could stand on her own.  I sat her under a hair dryer until the vinyl in her ankles was soft, and then I held her in place with her feet flat while the vinyl cooled.  This took *forever* and was not a very fun way to pass the time.

The feet actually stayed a bit flatter for a while, but the vinyl is gradually going back to its original position.  So, unfortunately, I don't think that I've found a way to fix the angled feet. 

Even with slanted feet, this doll can still show off some of her armature flexibility--in fact, she balances better in strange positions than she does standing straight!


She has some side-to-side mobility in her legs (I didn't want to split any seams by trying dramatic splits!) and can almost do full front-to-back splits:


She can strike (and balance in) a nice walking pose:


Although it's odd to me that her vinyl arms and legs extend above the knee and elbow.  The doll would move better (and the movement would look more natural) if the vinyl parts ended right at the knee and elbow joints.  My Twinn makes the same mistake with the arms (which is why My Twinn arms can look so bizarre), but the knee joints are done pretty well.

She can also sort-of sit down, although this is hard to achieve and doesn't look very natural:


She's quite a bit less flexible than a 23-inch My Twinn doll.  The absence of articulation in her ankles is particularly noticeable.  I love the idea of an armatured doll, and I especially like this style of armature (it's the same plastic linked armature that's found in My Twinn dolls), but I'm not sure how this body design offers more flexibility than the simpler design of an American Girl or 18" My Twinn.

Let's move on and take a look at the head:


I like her pretty brown eyes and cute grin.  You can see that she has a funny, lopsided seam running along the top of her head, though.  We'll look more closely at that in a second.

The My Way Kids have body tags, but unlike the tags on the My Twinns, these tags don't have any useful information about manufacturing date:


Here's the doll from the back, where the head seam is even more noticeable:


An important difference between My Way Kids and My Twinns is that My Way Kids do not have a seam in the back of the fabric torso that can be opened.  All of the My Way Kid body seams are stitched tight and meant to be left alone:


No access.
This does not bode well for any kind of deep cleaning or armature repair.  That said, the body feels nicer than I thought it would.  The fabric areas are stuffed very tightly, and the whole doll has a substantial, heavy feel.

I was incredibly curious about the head design on these dolls, and I imagine that you're starting to wonder what's up with it as well.  Let's take a look at that strange head seam!

There's certainly nothing subtle about the seam.  It gapes open a good eighth of an inch in some areas:


Geppeddo's way of dealing with this seam was to give all of the dolls long bangs.  The wigs are actually attached only to the pate of the head, too, so if you lift the bangs up, the head seam is painfully obvious:


This design makes sense in light of the fact that the dolls were assembled quickly in mall kiosks.  If the wigs are pre-attached to the pate of the head, a vendor would only have to grab the right pate and secure it to the head; no glue required.

The seam on the head also allows for easy access to the interior of the head and the eyes.  In theory, the top of the head can be removed with a simple counterclockwise twist:

Ta da!
As someone who has spent many hours trying to force new eyes into the front of a My Twinn doll's face, the idea of easy eye access was thrilling!

Unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as that.

If you look at that picture again, you'll see that each side of the head has a plastic section that's lighter in color than the vinyl head.  That's the locking mechanism.  

The plastic flanges from the top part of the head (labeled A and B) are meant to slot into the notches (also labeled A and B) on the lower part of the head:


Once the flanges are lined up with their corresponding notches, a simple 180 degree clockwise twist locks the flanges and secures the head into place.  

The problem is that the mechanism creates an extremely tight fit.  I was unable to twist the head off without breaking one of the plastic flanges.  Closer inspection will show you that flange A had to be glued back into place:

Oops.
I used hot glue to fix the flange, and the nice thing about this type of glue is that it has some flexibility. With the repaired flange, the pate can now be taken on and off with relative ease.

My experimentation with these dolls leads me to believe that the heads were designed to be put together easily, but not ever taken apart.  Makes sense if you think about it: the vendors needed to be able to customize the eye color and then close the head.  But having the tops of the heads come off once the doll went home with a child?  That was probably not a desirable outcome.

So the heads are way harder to get apart than I had hoped, but let's move on and get a peek at what's actually happening inside!

Here's a close-up of the eye area.  Once again, there's a plastic mechanism in place that's designed to make customization easy:


There are three small plastic pieces behind the eyes.  The largest piece locks the other two pieces in place.  The locking piece can be removed by sliding it upwards and out of the head:


The remaining two pieces have extensions that fit into the backs of the eyes, holding those in place.  Once the locking piece is gone, these eye holders fall right out:


With all of the plastic pieces removed, the eyes can be popped out by gently heating the vinyl.

So, while the head mechanism isn't quite as durable as I'd hoped it would be, it still makes eye customization super-easy.  Like the Geppeddo vendors who did this work decades ago, I could change a doll's eyes from green to brown in about thirty seconds if I had to.

Removing the head is an important step in many of my makeovers, so I was eager to see how My Way Kid heads are attached.  As it turns out, the head and body connection on the My Way Kids is similar to that of My Twinn dolls, but there are a few key differences.  

Both dolls have a seam in the top of their fabric torso that accommodates a cable tie.  The cable tie then tightens the connection between the vinyl neck and the fabric torso.  One difference is that the cable tie on a My Way Kid slots in from the side of the neck, not from the back of the neck like we see on My Twinn dolls:

A strange choice.
This means that the cable tie is more visible than it is on a My Twinn.  And more visible than it needs to be.  It's a sloppy design, if you ask me.

Once the cable tie is cut, a My Way Kid's head will come tumbling off.  This is because there's no glue attaching the vinyl head to the armature, just this three-pronged plastic plate:


The prongs on the plate fit into three of the four holes on the bottom of the head:


Once I had examined the body, the eye mechanism, and the head connection, I felt like I had a good idea about the ways in which I could (and couldn't) work with this brand of doll.  Eye and wig replacements will be easy, but because of the construction of the cloth torso, any kind of body repair was going to be a challenge.

And body repair is something that I was hoping I'd be able to do.

My $8 doll had several imperfections that highlight some of the manufacturing flaws in these dolls.  For example, many of the stitches connecting the fabric torso and the vinyl limbs looked like they were coming loose...or simply missing:



With a My Twinn doll, I would fix seam damage like this by taking the doll apart and reinforcing the seams from the inside using vinyl glue.

Because of the seam structure on these dolls, though, it is not a simple thing to take the bodies apart.  I have tried it, but it's not something I'm going to be doing regularly.

Instead, I just put a line of glue around each place where vinyl meets fabric.  This doesn't look great, but I hope it will reinforce and stabilize the area:




The other issue with this doll was that some of the fabric seams were coming undone:


This type of repair is easy to do...although at this point I hadn't yet found a thread color that matched the body very well!


Overall, these dolls are of much lower quality than the My Twinns.  Some of the dolls are very cute straight from the factory, but others have serious aesthetic issues and even some structural worries. On the other hand, the dolls are an appealing size, their substantial weight makes them satisfying to tote around, and their internal armature makes them fun to play with.  The dolls also have several features that will make them easy and fun to customize.  

I want to share my first effort at customizing one of these dolls, but for the sake of thoroughness, let me first show you one of the all-vinyl My Way Kids.  These dolls were made before the cloth-bodied girls, and they are much harder to find on the secondary market.

The vinyl girls are 18.5 inches tall and have nine points of elastic-strung articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees):


This doll also has slanted feet and requires a doll stand.  To make matters worse, you'll see that the stand (which came with this particular doll) has been in place so long that it has damaged the vinyl around the waist, causing it to pinch inward:


This doll has a face that resembles the Tender face on the cloth-bodied dolls:


Here's a closer look at the face with the wig out of the way:

My, what big eyes you have!
And a reminder of what the Tender face looks like:


The all-vinyl doll's face has wider eyes and a more pronounced mouth than her cloth-bodied counterpart.

You know I love making GIFs, so here's a quick GIF comparison of the two faces:


The Tender face is basically a squinty-eyed, squished-down (slightly pissed) version of the vinyl doll's face.

Anyway, the all-vinyl doll has joints at the elbows and knees, much like A Girl For All Time or Kidz 'n' Cats dolls:


These joints do not bend very much at all, though, and they do not hold their pose once they're bent.

The all-vinyl dolls do not have a seam on their heads, either:


And there's no access point in the back of the head:


I'm assuming that this version of the doll was not offered for short-term customization in a mall, but perhaps I'm wrong.  It would be possible, in theory, to have bodies on hand with various eye colors, and then just apply the appropriate wig when an order was made.  It wouldn't be as materials-efficient as the eye-swapping mechanism, that's for sure, but it could work.

These dolls are at least an inch shorter than the cloth-bodied versions, so clothing options will be different between the two:

My Way Kid vinyl doll (left) and cloth-bodied doll (right).
I wouldn't be surprised if the vinyl dolls can share clothing with several of the other slim 18-inch dolls, but the cloth-bodied girls are so far proving difficult to dress.  

I've tried some items for Hannah Gotz (too small) and some vintage outfits (also too small), but am still looking around for possible matches.  As I mentioned earlier, I have an order in for some Just Pretend clothes, and I'll report back here if those fit.  I no longer own any American Girl clothing (which is sad), but I assume that it would be too short and too loose for the most part.  Maru and Friends clothing might be a possibility, but I no longer have any of that, either, and I worry that the arm holes would be too narrow for the bulky My Way Kid arms.

So, that's my overview of the My Way Kid line!  The dolls aren't quite as nice as they were in my imagination (I was truly picturing a mini My Twinn), but they definitely have some charm.  My main reason for buying a few of these dolls was to see what kind of customization I could do.  For the last little bit of this post, I'll show you what happened to my $8 experimental My Way Kid.

I'm going to give all of these dolls simple, four-letter names--just to limit the name choices a bit.  I've been calling this particular girl Bargain Brie.  Here's Brie's head as it looked right after I removed it from her body:


She had some shiny residue under her nose and a few areas of scuffed paint.

Here's a closer look at her brown eye and her sparse eyelashes:


The eyes are fairly nice.  They're not as pretty as some of the My Twinn eyes, but they're quite realistic, especially from a distance.  Eye swapping is so easy with these dolls, though, that I decided I would change the eyes--just for the fun of it.

Here's Brie without her eyes or eyelashes:


With the eyes and eyelashes gone, I gave Brie's head the same treatment I give to all My Twinn heads: I washed it with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, stripped the factory paint, washed everything again with soap and water, and then I gave it a clear coat of matte sealant.


The lips are almost non-existent on this Mischievous face mold.  With all of the paint gone, I had a really hard time telling where they should be placed!

Since this was my first My Way Kid makeover, I decided to play it straight and follow the mold as carefully as I could.  This made for some extremely thin lips:



I like this particular face mold because it will give me a lot of freedom with the lips in the future.  With so little molded definition, I could paint some pretty large lips and it would still look ok!

Next I painted Brie's eyebrows:


The contours of this face are really begging for "worried" eyebrows.  This will be something I have to work hard to avoid in the future.  For Brie, I was happy with this look.

Next, I replaced the eyes with some oval glass eyes.  I had to gently heat the inside of the head to soften the flap of vinyl that holds the eyes in place, but then the new eyes slid right in!  I secured them with a glob of hot glue:


The glue on the back of the eye sockets will limit the future customization potential of this doll a little bit, but hot glue is really easy to work with.  If I ever changed my mind about what color eyes Brie should have, I'd only have to re-heat the inside of the head, pull away the glue, and insert new eyes.

I also used a line of hot glue to secure the top of the head (and fill some of that gap!).  Again, this could be reversed pretty easily if I ever needed to access the eyes:


I gave Brie a few freckles, and then her face was done!


I really love the grey color of her new glass eyes:


I glued Brie's head to her armature, and then I did my best to close the neck (which had started to come apart a bit at the seams.  You'll notice that I tucked the thick part of the cable tie as far towards the back of the head as I could get it:


I gave Brie new eyelashes (these were cut from an eyelash strip that I had leftover from 18-inch My Twinn customization).  I tried painting on the lower lashes, to mimic the original eyes, but this looked silly and didn't match the applied lashes, so I left the lower lids bare:


I also gave Brie a new wig (with no bangs!) and glued it just in front of the head seam so that the seam is now completely hidden from view.

The last thing I did (and this is what took me the longest) was to sew a little peasant dress for Brie.  I am not a seamstress by any means, but my mom gave me her old sewing machine, so I've been doing my best to slowly learn some of the basics.

After three mock-ups and lots of ugly, ill-fitting dresses, I finally came up with a design that I like.  

Here's Brie in her new dress!


Brie's wig is one that I've had around for ages.  I think it's from Exquisite Doll Designs (on Etsy).  It's a gorgeous, subtle red color:


The variety 11" wigs is staggering--especially compared to the slim pickings for 13" My Twinn wigs.  Because American Girl customization has become so popular, beautiful wigs in this size are everywhere.  Even with Monique closing shop, there will be no shortage of cute wigs for the My Way Kids!

I've paired Brie's dress with some 69mm boots.  These are a little too tight for her, but they work well enough.


I added a foam lift into the heel of each shoe (you can see how my glue job caused a small crease at the side of one boot).  The foam insert tips Brie's weight forward a little bit and helps her to balance on her own.


Since the boots are so tight, you can see the curve of Brie's heel in that picture, too.  It's about a half inch higher than the bottom of the boot.

With her new boots, Brie was able to pose for me without doing a faceplant every three seconds:



Here she is for her front-facing portrait:


With her obligatory before-and-after GIF!


Brie's coloring looks completely different in those two shots.  They're taken in exactly the same location with the same camera settings.  Neither is completely accurate (before is too dark and after is too light), but the before shot is probably the closest.  I spent ages trying to take a picture that would capture the vinyl color accurately, but something about that blue dress and red hair really messes with my camera!

I also tried taking a picture of Brie with another My Way Kid who has the same skin tone.  This girl's coloring tends to look accurate in most of her pictures:


They both look slightly lighter here than they are in real life, but this photo is closer to reality.

I also snapped a picture of Brie in the natural light, but this just makes the red and yellow in her coloring stand out too much:


Anyway, here are a few more pictures of this little imp, showing off her limited posing capabilities:









Exploring the My Way Kid line offered some disappointments, but I still find myself intrigued by this brand.  

On the down side, the dolls are not as flexible as I had hoped, and they can not stand on their own.  There are also some manufacturing defects here and there (loose seams, careless face paint, lopsided wigs, crooked eyes) that detract from the overall appeal of the line.  They're not as well-made or durable as 23-inch My Twinn or American Girl dolls, but they are still better-made and more interesting than many play dolls of this size.  A real limitation of the brand is that there were very few clothes made specifically for My Way Kid dolls, and their odd body shape limits clothes-sharing with any current doll line.

As a doll repair artist, I'm troubled that the bodies are not designed to be easily disassembled and fixed.  This disappointment is compounded by the fact that some of the dolls I purchased have fabric-to-vinyl seams that could use some work.  I'm also bummed that the pate can't be more easily removed from the top of the head.  These two criticisms feel a bit unfair since they are specific to me and my desire to restore and customize the dolls.

But customization is where I think perhaps these dolls can shine.  I had a fun time painting Brie's face, and I could barely believe how easy it was to replace her eyes!  Furthermore, the variety of 11" wigs on the market gives these girls so many more hair options than can be found for the 23-inch My Twinn dolls.

When my first internet search turned up so little information about the My Way Kids, I'll admit that I was pretty disappointed.  But after some reflection, I find that I'm actually drawn to this scant online presence.  It makes the dolls feel special and mysterious--like digging up a time capsule that's been buried for 20 years.  These Kids are certainly a refreshing contrast to the ubiquitous American Girl.

I'm not sure where to go from here.  I had a really great time with Brie.  Her size and impish face made her a fun diversion from working on My Twinn dolls.  She's going to hang out here with me and be my model so that I can work on some other clothing options.  I have two other My Way Kids that I have customized, though, and I'll probably put those in my Etsy shop at some point and see what happens.  I'm tempted to sell these dolls in a way that mirrors their roots; by offering each customer a chance to select certain features.  But I probably can't get enough inventory to make that work.  We'll see.  I'm certainly open to suggestions.

For now, though, I'm curious to know what all of you think about the brand!  Did you know about it? Do you like it?  Did you ever see these dolls on display at a mall?  Do you remember how much they cost? Did you own one as a kid?  If you did own one of these dolls, please, please share your experience!  I'm dying to know more.  I'd love to hear stories about how they were sold, what the different options were, and how exciting it must have been to order one at the mall and then eagerly wait while she was assembled just for you.

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