Sunday, November 11, 2012

Momoko "Love DHEXl" 10th Anniversary Doll by Sekiguchi

When I started to be interested in Pullip and Blythe dolls a few years ago, I noticed the name "Momoko" popping up in the chat forums and blogs I was frequenting.  I have admired pictures of Momoko dolls ever since this first introduction, but have always stopped just shy of buying one because of their high prices.  During my recent Tangkou review, Momoko's name cropped up again, and this time I decided that it was time to learn more.

Momoko is a line of highly articulated 10.5 inch plastic fashion dolls made in Japan.  The dolls have childlike anime-style faces and wear very detailed outfits in a wide range of styles.  There have been Momoko dolls dressed in wedding gowns, gothic robes, office wear and even a cheerleader uniform.
Momoko dolls were first produced in 2001 by the small software company, PetWORKS.  The first dolls to be made were called DHEXs and DHEXl.  The cryptic acronyms come from "Doll Head EXhibition," the event that hosted the debut of this line.  The "s" and "l" after the acronym stand for "short" and "long" haired versions of this first doll.  I am grateful to the barbigirl website for providing this information and for having lots of wonderful reference pictures.

In 2004, the production of Momoko dolls was passed to the Sekiguchi doll making company, which is where the dolls are made today. Sekiguchi also makes the Monchhichi monkey dolls that first appeared back in the 70s (licensed by Mattel in the US).  Do you remember those Monchhichi commercials?  They're still stuck in my head thirtysomething years later.

I chose the 10th anniversary "Love DHEXl" doll because although she is made by Sekiguchi, she honors Momoko's PetWORKS roots:

Sekiguchi Momoko, "Love DHEXl"
For a 10" doll, the $140 (and up) tag on most Momoko dolls seems steep.  In the US, you can find a big selection of these dolls on eBay, Cherished Friends has a few from time to time, and Amazon has a couple.  I bought my doll on eBay for a lower than normal price ($130).  She retailed for $169.99 (!!).

The box arrived a little bit dented from travel.  It's a pink cardboard window box with a cardboard half-sleeve that covers the bottom of the box and keeps the front flap closed:

The box has a very minimalist pink and white design.  Most of the printed words and logos are on the removable sleeve (and most of the writing is in Japanese):

There's a circle with the name of the doll, "Love DHEXl" and a crest with the Momoko peach logo.

Here's the crest up close.  Is it just me, or does that peach logo remind you of a naked bottom?  I can't see past it:

On the front of the sleeve, in English, it says, "1:6 scale real fashion doll." All of the "o" letters in Momoko have naked bottoms peaches in them:

Not an imaginary fashion doll.
The cardboard sleeve slides off and then a windowed panel on the front of the box swings open to reveal the whole doll:

She looks very sweet and a little bit timid about the outside world:

The doll is attached to a shiny cardboard insert that slides right out of the main box:

It's peachy.
All of Momoko's accessories are taped to the side of the box.  She has white boots and a headband:

I was nervous at first because I couldn't see any more accessories.  One of the reasons I chose this doll was that she comes with a mini Momoko DHEXl doll and I love miniature things.  Luckily, the mini doll was just hiding behind her impressive hair.  Phew.

To get the doll out, I just untied three wire ties. If I hadn't been going after those wire ties, I might have missed the stand that's in a bag taped to the back of the insert:

The stand comes in three pieces: a plastic base and grip and a metal rod.

It's a little crooked.
I found the stand difficult to use.  The plastic gripping part sits awkwardly right at Momoko's bust line and her feet don't touch the ground:

The stand interferes with her arm movement, too.
Look, Mom--no feet!
I thought maybe her shoes would help with this problem, so I detached all of the accessories:

Her white vinyl boots have lots of molded detail and a careful paint job:

Look at the painted stitches!
The boots have slits in the back, but they are slightly off center and very hard to see:

Here I've stretched the seam so that you can see that it exists:

Indeed, with the shoes on, her feet touch the base of the stand a bit better.  It's still not a great stand, though.

The good news is, she doesn't need a stand at all--especially with her boots on.  She stands like a champ:

Like a rock.
She comes with a plastic band around her head to keep her hair in order.  With the band removed, her hair is a little flat, but this is easily fixed with some brushing and fluffing:

Her honey-colored crimped hair is very nice.  The style made me worry that it would frizz all over the place, but it behaves beautifully.  It has a soft, smooth texture and is clearly styled with some kind of hair gel, because there is virtually no static and no flyaways.  The application of the gel is restrained, though, because there aren't any clumpy hard parts or any greasiness.  It's wonderful hair--especially for such a small doll.

It's hard for me to get a clear photograph of this doll's face.  One problem is that her head is tiny, but it's also that she has very thick bangs that crowd her features:

I pulled her bangs back with a clear rubber band and it helped a little:

You can see her cute eyebrows and her brown painted eyes better this way.  The hair that is still on her forehead in the picture below is actually stuck there and is not easy to detach.  This doesn't bother me since I wouldn't style her hair like this permanently, but I just thought it was an interesting discovery:

I really like dolls with side-glancing eyes.  I feel like they have a lot of personality.  Momoko's slightly open mouth is nice, too, but I wish her lip paint was a bit more interesting.  It's an opaque peachy color in real life and I had pictured it more as a slightly glossy nude color.

She has large ears that stick out slightly and an exaggerated profile with an upturned nose--both qualities that I find very endearing in a doll.

Here are the other accessories out of their bags. There's a white headband, the mini doll and what looks like a small pink plastic (peach-shaped) stand for the mini doll:

The stand works really well and the doll is an adorable replica of the original DHEXl.  If only I had a small enough paint brush and a steady enough hand to paint a face for her!

The headband has a cloth bow and tiny little gripping teeth along the inside, but the plastic is really thin and flexible so I can't imagine it working as an actual headband:

Sure enough, the headband doesn't have enough weight to sit flat against her head or to pull her hair back.

This Momoko's dress is unusual.  The outer layer is a white pinafore.  The top of the pinafore is a halter top that sits low on the doll's chest and ties behind her neck.  The middle part is white tulle mesh and the skirt is an asymmetrical white cotton ruffle.

The pinafore closes in the back with a single metal hook.  This hook comes undone pretty easily.  The cotton ruffle continues along the back of the pinafore and is joined by an additional tulle ruffle on one side.

Here you can see what the back of the dress looks like with the pinafore unhooked and pulled forward.  

Here's the pinafore by itself so you can see its asymmetrical shape:

There's actually a little pocket in the white cotton ruffle of the skirt:

Underneath the pinafore, the doll is wearing a fairly simple white jersey knit sundress with a peach print that that'sa little different from the peaches on the box.  This one looks more like a peach, but it has a huge leaf or stem or something:

The dress has some lace detail along one side of the neck and along the hem: 

I love the delicate ribbon sleeves.
The knit jersey is cut up high in back to reveal a ruffled cotton underskirt:

Under the folded layers of ruffle, there's another underskirt made of an off-white lightweight cotton.  The underskirts are not hemmed as carefully as the outer dress and the pinafore:

The dress closes in back with a single white pearl button that slides into a loop made of thread.  This is a fiddly closure.  It's hard to get the button through the loop, it often slips out, and the thread on my doll's loop is already falling apart.

I was surprised to see that under the white dress, Momoko is wearing a pair of hot pink shorts:

All of the nearby body areas are wrapped in a secure layer of plastic to protect against staining.  This is a good thing, because those shorts are very bright.  They have some wonderful seam and pocket details and are really well sewn:

The back closes with a single metal hook at the top, and the seam below the hook is messy, especially in comparison to the perfect tailoring in the rest of the shorts:

The white dress is not protected against these bright shorts and unfortunately, that lead to a small pink stain on one side of the skirt.  I don't think I'll be using the shorts on any of my dolls and I'm a little confused as to why they're part of the outfit in the first place since they're not visible when the dress is on.

Momoko has 14 points of articulation.  Her body is made out of a very solid-feeling plastic.  The general shape of her body is nice, although I think the high-cut hip joints are a bit awkward:

She has hinged and rotational movement at her shoulders and elbows, but just hinged movement at her wrists.  Although most hand positions can be achieved by rotating her arm at the elbow, it would have been better if her wrists could rotate, too.  

She has minimal side-to-side motion in her hips but excellent front-to-back movement.  After a bit of posing, the hip joints became a bit loose and floppy.

Her torso joint swivels a bit to either side but doesn't turn a full 360 degrees:

Her knees and ankles have only hinged movement, but she can kneel really well:

She sits really nicely in the bar stool from the Bratzillaz Cafe Zap set.  I'm starting to think that those bar stools are going to come in handy quite a lot.

The red chair from the Monster High Coffin Bean set doesn't look quite as comfortable:

Her left elbow joint is always trying to slip out.
My doll has a crack starting in her left ankle.  This is a disappointing flaw in such an expensive doll, particularly because it creates a weak point that will be stressed every time I put on or remove her boots.

At just over 14 inches tall, Momoko is unlike most of my other fashion dolls.  She is short in stature when compared to Barbie, ITBE, and Disney Store dolls:

Disney Store Rapunzel, Barbie Basic, Momoko, Barbie Fashionista, ITBE
Apart from her height, her proportions look most similar to a Barbie Basic body.  Indeed, while regular Barbie clothes have a baggy fit, the Barbie Basic little black dresses fit nicely.  This could be because those dresses have some stretch in them:

I didn't expect Liv clothes or Monster High clothes to fit Momoko.  Here's a comparison shot of those three dolls:

While Liv tops are a bit baggy in the shoulders and bust area, Hayden's shorts actually fit pretty well:

Monster High clothes are way too tight:

Although Poppy Parker also wears the Barbie Basics dresses well, she towers over Momoko:

And Poppy's silk dress is way too big for Momoko:

One of you mentioned to me that the Tangkou body is very similar to the Momoko body--and this is very true.  Here is Momoko with a Pullip and with Tangkou Loli:

Who is this pinhead standing between us??
Pullip is wider through the hips and thinner at the waist and has an extra torso joint.  Momoko and Tangkou are very similar, right down to the specific way each of their joints moves...and the high-jointed appearance of the hips.

Here's my Hestia doll, Isora, who has the same body as Pullip, but is easier to dress:

Isora can wear Momoko's dress nicely.  I've heard that Momoko can also wear Pullip and Hestia clothes, but I don't have any simple outfits to test this with.  As an aside, Isora is a neat doll with incredible eyes.  She also came out of the box broken in three places.

Tangkou and Momoko can trade clothes, but the proportions of the Tangkou dress are way too big for Momoko's petite features.  The fit is also not quite right through the shoulders.  Momoko's shoulders are lower than Tangkou's.

The Cutie Pops are smaller than Momoko, so sharing clothes there is not an option...

I heard that Momoko can share some clothes with Only Hearts Club dolls, so I decided to give that a try:

Doesn't look too promising...
My Dal is wearing most of my Only Hearts Club clothing because that is a really good fit:

Dal Chibi Risa in her own shorts and Only Hearts Club tops.
The tops seem a bit short for Momoko,  Here she is wearing an Only Hearts Club tee shirt and her own hot pink shorts:

The Only Hearts Club vest looks cute, but again, it is just a bit too short.

Here's another full Only Hearts Club outfit and you can see that the pants are waaay too short (and tight) and the tops are short, but look more acceptable because it could pass for a cropped style fashion statement.

So, Momoko is not going to be able to share clothes with a ton of different dolls, but with the few things I tried, I'd say Pullip clothes will probably fit, some stretchy Barbie clothes look nice, and maybe the occasional Only Hearts Club top or Liv piece will work.

Here's Momoko back in her original outfit showing off a sample of her myriad posing options:

Her arms can get stuck going off in the wrong direction...

But that's easily fixed:

She can stand solidly on her own, even when she's not in a classic face-front feet together pose:

Bottom line?  Because I have have known about Momoko dolls and looked at their pictures online for a long time now, I find myself comparing the qualities of the real life doll to my long-standing preconceived notions.  Overall, there are very few surprises. I think these dolls are very well represented by their photographs.   

The body is the same size as a Pullip body, but the smaller head makes a bigger difference in the perceived size of the doll than I expected.  A Monster High doll is probably the closest in overall size and weight.  The body is made of a high quality plastic and doesn't have a hollow or cheap feel to it at all.  The loose hip joints and cracked ankle are disappointments.

Her face is not as nicely painted as I'd hoped.  For some reason, I was expecting a more nuanced face--like Poppy Parker or some of the better-painted Jun Planning dolls.  The eyes don't have much depth to them and the lips are also very one-dimensional.  It's a play doll face.  On the other hand, the hair is nicer than I expected.  It is very thick and full for such a small doll, yet it is easy to manage and has a beautiful, realistic color and a fun crimped style.

The clothes are both better and worse than I expected.  The style and creativity of the outfit is great.  It has layers of asymmetric ruffles and lace that make it very three-dimensional, youthful and fun.  The stitching is meticulous and thorough...for the most part.  The back of the shorts and the closure of the dress leave a little something to be desired.  I also wish the shorts had been packaged separately or just left out.  They don't add much to the overall appeal of the doll, and the stain they left on the lovely dress is a heartbreak.  The clothes are very similar in overall quality to the clothes of most Pullip dolls.

As for the accessories, the headband is a throwaway, but the miniature doll and the white boots are fabulous.  I adore the mini doll most of all, and think she makes a wonderful, sentimental companion for this 10th anniversary celebration of the DHEX Momoko dolls.

She is an adorable, nicely made, highly posable doll, yet I have some lukewarm feelings towards her. Her appearance makes her seem more like a play doll than a display doll, and yet her price and the durability of her clothes put her solidly in the collectible doll market.  Personally, shopping in the $150 price range, I would probably tend towards buying another Pullip doll or a 12" Integrity doll before I purchased another Momoko.

Age Level
10 and up--this is a collectable doll, not a toy.  The outfit, in particular, doesn’t seem constructed for play.
These dolls should be competitive with Pullips at $90-$130.  They overshoot that a little bit. 
The quality overall is very good.  The body is highly articulated and made from a solid plastic.  It’s hard for me to tell if the crack in my doll’s ankle is a common occurrence or a fluke.  The hair is soft, thick and manageable.  The clothing is creatively designed and beautifully stitched although some of the closure areas could be more effective and durable.
Excellent.  The box is mostly cardboard and it is very easy to remove the doll and her accessories.
Yes.  She is a limited edition collector’s doll and ties to the original DHEX line make her very appealing.
The high degree of articulation and sweet, generic face of this doll make her very versatile.  The diversity of the personalities and outfits in the Momoko line demonstrate the range of characters that are possible with this doll.  She doesn’t share clothes with many of the dolls I own, but could probably wear Pullip outfits, some Barbie dresses and a few Only Hearts Club and Liv pieces.
This Momoko is a very sweet, appealing doll and I had a great time photographing her. Her small size and big price will probably prevent me from ordering another one unless I see an outfit that is just spectacular...or a nice sale.


  1. Great review! I think I had similar preconceptions about Momoko dolls, and your review confirmed many of my feelings: she's a pretty doll, but very overpriced. Though the body is much nicer than I thought, I'm not a fan of how many Japanese dolls have hinged and not rotational wrists, it makes posing naturally difficult (Hasbro will sculpt some Transformers' arms like this and it drives me batty). I think I'm more likely to pick up a Pullip than a Momoko now.

    How/where was your Isora broken? I picked up a Hestia and a J-Doll last December when Tuesday Morning stores received discounted dolls. My Hestia, I believe it's the pink/white Ribon version, was wonderful. Beautiful packaging, well-made outfit (even if it was a bit frilly for me), and great wig. And who cannot resist those inset eyes? I found Hestia worth the $30 TM priced them at and much more, so I'm interested in the story of your broken Isora.

    As for the J-doll, I sold her. Possibly because she was the pink rocker girl with lime green eyes, but I found her quality very poor, especially compared to Hestia. I think I only kept a cute metal heart necklace! But I do like the J-Doll face and am drawn to the more realistic, and more expensive, versions out there...but I get the feeling that, like Momoko, they're cute but a bit lackluster when you get them in your hands.

  2. Hi Gatsby, thank you for sharing your thoughts about these dolls!

    I got my Isora at Tuesday Morning, too! I could not believe the price. I even went back the next day to buy the other Hestia they had, but she'd be snapped up. My Isora is broken at both of her wrist joints. They came almost completely shattered. I super-glued them back together, but now she has no wrist articulation at all. Her outfit is also in bad shape--the skirt is torn and the blouse was badly stained. She was quite a disappointment, but for $30, it was nice to get my hands on one of these dolls and see what they're like. I think I must have just had really bad luck with my doll because I've never had a Pullip body break like this. I do love Isora's hair and eyes and might try to re-body her someday.

    "Lackluster" is a good word to describe Momoko-even though she's very sweet. For the price, I expected her to be somehow more than what she seemed in the pictures, but she's not. I am now quite curious about some of the less expensive anime-faced dolls like Juku and Kurhn...they might be an excellent (much less expensive) alternative to Momoko!

    1. I just remembered I had an issue when I bought both dolls in which a wrist joint had a bit excess plastic flash and I had to do a bit of trimming with an exacto knife to make sure it didn't crack at the seam when the wrist moved. So I just pulled out Hestia to check, and sure enough, it was her! She's fine now, but maybe there was an ongoing issue with the Hestia line's wrists?

    2. Hello! I just wanted to add my 2cents, I bought both Hestia girls at Tuesday Morning and the wrist joints on both (both wrists!!!) completely shattered. I was very upset!! The bodies were VERY disappointing but I looove the clothing (: One of my blouses is also stained (likely the one off Isora) but I still like it.

  3. I always though the Momoko dolls looked really pretty, but their price is too high for me, and after seeing all your pictures (which I love how many pictures you always have!) her joints look a little strange to me, like they're on the verge of falling out.
    I've never heard of Hestia dolls before though, she looks really pretty.
    Great review!

  4. I had thought of buying a Momoko doll before and decided on a Pullip instead. After reading your review I'm glad I went with the Pullip. Thanks again for another wonderful and insightful post.

  5. As always, a great review. I really appreciate the trouble you took to try on the clothes and take comparison shots with other dolls; it's always hard to imagine how a doll you've only seen on Flickr or eBay would compare to others.
    While I've had my eye on Momoko for a couple of years I've never bought one because her face seemed cute but unimaginative.Now that I think of it it's her clothes that have me drooling not the doll. I like their realistic colors and designs. After reading your post I'm sure that unless her price comes down quite a bit I won't be getting one, I'd sooner just buy her clothes.
    I've only seen a few Kuhrn dolls but they certainly seem worth their price and even a bit more. I like Pullip's faces but not their bodies and I'm not sure about the quality of their clothes so I'll wait to see if you ever review one of them to decide if I want to get a complete doll instead of just a nude one or a head to rebody.
    Thanks again for doing these.

  6. I love the one Momo I have, but before I bought her, I joined a flickr group and the big issue was that these dolls do have weak joints and their ankles esp. are prone to cracking, so to just be careful about shoes etc. Other than that I love my doll and I hope you love yours too!

  7. One thing I love about the Momoko dolls is that their faces look like real Asian girls, not like anime girls and not like European girls. Thank you for an awesome review.

    1. This is what I like about Momokos too. They look Asian and not overtly anime despite having simple features and they don't tend to have the strong make up that so many dolls tend to have. Too bad they're so expensive though.

  8. Thanks for this review!
    I think she has a very sweet expression on her face, something I really like to see on a doll.
    Her outfit looks a bit weird to me, a bit messy. But the mini doll is fabulous, as is the mini stand and the little pocket for the doll.
    The boots look nice too, although they looked a bit pink in one of your pictures and I liked that colour better for the boots xD
    Overall, I think you made an excellent decision in buying her. She's one of the few collectible Japanese dolls that really speak to me and it's a shame she's so expensive :c
    I'm sorry about the flaws (stand, stain etc.) but I think the good aspects overpower the bad aspects here.

  9. Hello from Spain: I like Momoko dolls. They are very nice dolls. The clothing is gorgeous. Her hair is beautiful. Great job information. Keep in touch

  10. What a funny coincidence! Yesterday I was thinking of asking you if you owned any Momokos and what you thought of them. I really adore their sweet faces, and have for a while, but looked them up on eBay for the first time a few days ago and was totally shocked.

    The mini doll had me excited and thinking about a possible future splurge, but many better quality minis exist. Its a shame Momokos are so overpriced.

  11. Thank you for this review. I've been tempted by Momoko, but after seeing your in-depth review, I don't think they are for me. I think they are too expensive for the value provided and at that price point there are many other dolls to choose from. Guess this makes up for the Pullip I ended up buying after reading your Pullip review! Love your blog and always look forward to your updates.

  12. I'm glad to see this review! I like Momoko dolls in general because their clothes are quite well made and it just makes them look really fashion.
    Face wise they seem a bit expressionless, although the ones with bolder lips have a little bit more of life. So basically I agree with everything you said, considering the price I'd much rather prefer having another doll (like an Ellowyne Wilde in my case xD).

  13. Momoko's plastic is known for being brittle, and action figures with of the same material tend to crack, too (like at the ankles). I've heard from people that the newer Momokos are prone to having their necks break, while wrist and ankle breaking comes with the territory. I was given my Momoko as a gift, and I've rebodied her, fearing it would break. The neck on mine is starting to show stress lines, though I've only removed (softened, warmed) heads from it a few times.
    While I'm at it, have some comparison/reference pictures:

    Neck post:

    Body with Fashionistas, Pivotal, and MH male (pants don't fit, shirts do):

    Momoko head on 25cm Obitsu body:

    Barbie head on Momoko body:

    1. Thanks for showing this, it's interesting but I was wondering if Momoko can still wear her old clothes and shoes on the Obitsu body.

    2. Jenna Starry-NightsJuly 2, 2013 at 10:49 PM

      I believe she can.

  14. Great review as always! Coincidentally my first Momoko doll arrived about two weeks ago now. I got number 8 from the Wake Up line (google WUD008 for pics). She's beautiful, but she set me back quite a lot and I agree that you should get more bang for your buck. The wrists having no pivot is the biggest disappointment, and I wish she could touch her face. I'm happily looking for new clothes for my girl but I'll have to consider carefully before buying another.

  15. Hi Emily, I thought it would be nice to update you on new MH releases, Mattel is going crazy! xD
    I'm sure you've already seen some of them but I thought it would be nice for others to see these, too!

    Scaris Cafe: (I love, love, love this one! No doubt it's going to be so expensive if it comes to the Netherlands!)

    Abbey's bed:

    Frankie's vanity: (Amazing, I hope to find Cleo's vanity in stores some day and I'll be hunting for this one, too!)

    Cam Harpy and Siren:

    Scaris dolls: (Skelita has a real skeleton torso, I love her!)

    Scaris basics:

    Scaris car:

    Ghouls alive (these make sounds/light up/move):

    Deluxe fashion packs: (great comments on Frankie's blog: Dolls from planet mu)

    Back to school fashion packs: (great comments on Frankie's blog: Dolls from planet mu)

    Dance class ghouls:

    Picture day:

    So, everybody is updated now, I think :)

  16. Wow Emily I can't believe I'm posting on your blog! It's just too exciting to accually talk to you!

  17. Yeah, I basically agree with previous commenters: lovely facemold and the clothes are gourgeous, but the price and the hinged wrists put me off. I've also read about the issues with brittle plastic - I was scrolling down wondering whether you'd experience that problem... Too bad, she'd be a very nice doll otherwise! She poses well in your pics, and those shoes look really well made. If I could afford I'd buy one and put her head on an Obitsu, like others have done. Anyway, thanks for the review, it was really helpful!

  18. Really great review; thank you very much! My best friend and I are looking (and ogling) at Momokos, and your thorough review is so helpful toward making a decision. Such a shame about the brittle plastic and the cracks...especially on a doll that is not exactly cheap. I think the ankle crack would stress me out:(

  19. Thanks for review

    My Momoko doll broke the leg last week due to nothing.. her neck crack. I read some review and asked my favorite doll shop, the owner has still agreed due to her Momoko's leg crack but she rare saw the neck crack but we searched on google and saw some have the same case as mind.

    Momoko 's body is scale from Japanese and Asian girl body and size. It's the reason why barbie or American girl dolls can't be worn. Her size is fine for J-doll, Blythe, Pullip , Licca and Jenny.

    I wanna buy a new Momoko but I fear she will broke any parts of her body so much!!!

  20. Hi, can you tell me, if Momoko´s shoes fit Liv Doll? Thank you.

  21. I really love this post with all the details and pictures! This a great resource for doll collectors! Thank you for doing this!!!!