Saturday, April 13, 2013

Juku Couture "Hayley" by Jakks Pacific

Update: two quick announcements: thanks to a reader suggestion, you can now translate the whole blog into the language of your choice with the Toy Box Translator (on the right).  This is fun even if you speak English.  I love the Latin translation of the blog title, In Toy Box Philosophus.  Classic.  Also, you can now follow the blog by email.  Hope that works.

Juku Couture dolls are 9 inch articulated plastic fashion dolls with inset eyes.  The dolls are named after a Japanese fashion trend called "Harajuku" that involves combining lots of mis-matched fashion elements into a personalized look.  The dolls are dressed in multi-layered outfits with pieces in contrasting styles and colors.  These dolls were released by Jakks Pacific in 2008 and, from what I can tell, were discontinued after only four waves: Series 1, Series 2 (called "In the Wild"), a 2009 re-release group, and the "Global Good" series.   Each release of dolls has four different characters, Hayley, Jun, Kana and Audrina.

The dolls originally sold for $19.99, and can now be found on eBay and Amazon for significantly more or significantly less than that.  The 2009 re-release dolls are thought to be of lesser quality than the originals, and they seem to be the easiest group to find.  I bought Hayley from the 2009 re-release series for about $10 on Amazon:

Juku Couture re-release Hayley (2009) by Jakks Pacific.
I really like the Juku Couture boxes.  They are a reasonable size, and they are beautifully decorated.  They're in the shape of a half-tube with a rounded plastic window in the front and a flat cardboard back.  The front is colorful and the back is packed full of information.

Significant glare makes the doll hard to photograph in her box:

Decorative cardboard pieces wrap around the sides of the plastic window.  I like the gothic font and watercolor-style scrolled patterning on this part of the box:

There are two small cardboard pop-up decorations next to the doll.  One advertises her posing abilities:

The other cutout is partially hidden by Hayley's leg, but I think it's promoting the mis-matched fashion:

There's also a small decal that advertises an online game site (that still seems to be operational):

The back of the box has a brief description of the girls' mix-and-match style concept:

There's a photograph of all four of the doll in this series.  I like Audrina's red hair, but I don't love her outfit.  I think Jun (far right) might be the prettiest of all the dolls, but she's also among the most expensive at this point.

From left: Kana, Audrina, Hayley, Jun.
To the right of the doll photos is a list of everything that's inside the box.  This list seems unnecessary and it's a little confusing.  It's basically just a list of everything the doll is wearing, but a few of the line breaks come in strange places: 

What's a "studio button?"
I like the short descriptions of each doll.  These list each girl's hometown, hobby, career goal and a few other details.  The careers are what you'd expect for a line of fashion dolls: actress, fashion designer, singer and veterinarian.

Hayley is from Sweden and her doctoral aspirations are impressive.  Notice the asterisks in her bio, though.  Next to the pet description, there's an asterisk to clarify that Bear, Hayley's pet Maltese, isn't included.  Fair enough.  But next to the style description, there's an asterisk noting the absence of a visor.  A visor?  What on Earth are they talking about?  I don't see a picture of a visor anywhere on the box.  Is there something inherent in preppiness that automatically requires the presence of a visor?  

Warning! Visorless preppy in box.  Do not panic.
I cut the tape along the bottom of the box and slid the interior cardboard insert out without damaging the box.  The doll is mounted on a plain, refreshingly uncluttered piece of sky-blue cardboard:

She's held in place by seven wire ties and some barely visible fishing line:

I cut the fishing line and untied all of the wires and had the doll de-boxed within a reasonable amount of time.  Here she is:

Before I get any further with Hayley, let me show you a few things about this doll in comparison to the first wave (2008) Audrina doll (which I also found on Amazon for about $25, before the prices got insane).  Here are the two dolls side-by-side:

Look at the outfits--they are very, very similar.  The jacket, capri pants, socks, shoes and tie are the same on both dolls, although Audrina's shoes have some additional painted detail.  The two skirts are made out of the same plaid material, but Audrina's skirt is layered and more elaborate.  Audrina's blouse is different.  Audrina also has a purse and a pink vest that Hayley does not have.

Audrina has "True Eyes."
This begs the question, if Hayley's favorite style is (visorless) preppy then why is Audrina wearing the preppy outfit in this wave?  What was Hayley wearing back in 2008?  Let's take a look at the back of Audrina's box:

2008 box.
Whoa.  Wait a minute--apparently, in 2008, Audrina was the preppy one and Hayley was sporty.  Also, the original Hayley had a bulldog named Bailey.  If you recall, my 2009 re-release Hayley has a Maltese named Bear.  What happened to poor Bailey? 

Check out Jun's profile, too.  The original Jun has the same pet (a Chihuahua named Belle), but she used to enjoy classical music and dreamed of being a biologist!  Ack!  What happened??  There are lots of differences in the bios, and I'm not sure I'm happy about all of them.

And--look at what (sporty) Hayley is wearing on her head:

That's a visor.
This explains the visor asterisk, but I don't understand the motive behind randomly changing some of the doll's styles, career aspirations, hobbies, favorite colors and pets.  Talk about identity crisis.  I mean, what's wrong with wanting to be a biologist?  Sheesh.

I guess I should get back to Hayley.  I feel like I know her a bit better now, at any rate.  I think she probably misses her dog Bailey a lot and wonders why Bear doesn't shed.  She probably also secretly wishes that Jun would chat about genetics and mitosis with her, like the good old days, instead of constantly enthusing about the next new fashion trend.  Through it all, though, she's clung to her dream of becoming a veterinarian.  I like this girl.

Hayley stands remarkably well on her own, despite some weak ankle joints.  

Hayley's face is very distinct.  She has a short, broad forehead that tapers into a delicate chin.  She has oversized inset blue eyes and freckles.  

Here's a close-up of the 2008 Audrina for comparison.  She has heavier eye makeup, no eyelashes, a longer, narrower face and less distinction in her eye detail.

Look in to my are getting sleepy...
Hayley has thick rooted hair that is pulled back into two ponytails.  On each side of her hair, she has a small plastic star barrette with colorful ribbon streamers.

Hayley's ponytails are creatively done.  The hair around her face is pulled straight back over her head into a single clear rubber band at the back.  This hair is divided into two sections that merge with more conventional side ponytails.  The ponytails are are syled into two big, messy sausage curls:

I decided not to take the hair down because I like this style, and also because I think the underlying rooting pattern is strange and might not be conducive to re-styling.  The hair near the top of her head is rooted without a part, and with some large gaps.  The back of her head is rooted with a center part.

Having glanced at Audrina's more elaborate version of this outfit, Hayley's ensemble seems relatively plain, but there's still a lot going on:

On the top. Hayley is wearing a white blouse, a purple jacket and a yellow and green checkered ribbon tie.

The tie and jacket are sewn to the blouse with loops of thread that need to be snipped:

The tie hangs all the way down past the hem of her plaid skirt:

The jacket is made out of purple denim.  It has four decorative gold bead buttons and pink ribbon accents around each sleeve.  The sleeves have a nice wide cut to them, which makes dressing and undressing very easy.  

The collar is very large, and sticks straight up in true preppy style.  It seems well stitched:

Underneath the jacket, Hayley is wearing a short-sleeved white blouse with a small collar:

The blouse is made out of a thinly woven fabric.  It has a decorative seam running down the middle in front.  There are a lot of loose threads hanging off this shirt. 

The shirt closes down the back with a long thick piece of velcro.  In areas where there is just a single layer of fabric, the shirt is semi-transparent.  This makes all of the hemmed and layered areas quite obvious.  

It could be that the designers were going for a sheer, gossamer look with this blouse, but the chunky, uneven hems and loose threads make the transparency seem more like the unintended consequence of using cheap fabric.

The plaid mini skirt has a simple gathered elastic waistline:

It is hemmed with white and silver lace:

Under the skirt, Hayley is wearing bright pink knitted capri leggings:

She has neon yellow ankle-high socks and royal blue shoes.  She shoes are tied to her feet with clear rubber bands:

The shoes are large and clunky and have a very crude opening in the ankle strap.  They are way too big for this doll's feet.

Frankenstein called: he wants his shoes back.
Hayley's hard plastic body has 14 points of articulation.  She has ankle and wrist articulation, and a nice   lower torso joint.  She has movement in all of the right places, with a few small disappointments: her neck joint will only swivel--it doesn't tilt up or down.  Also, her knees are simple hinges and have no rotational movement.   Her elbow joints are prone to slipping out of place a bit, much like Pullip arms.

Similar to China Girl, Hayley can do jumping jacks with her hips in their normal position...

...but can do full side-to-side splits if you rotate her hip joints upwards:

At first I thought she had a crack in the back of her knee joint:

But actually both knees look like this--it's just a seam.

As I played around with this doll, I found that she is much more inclined to strike unusual poses than conventional ones.  Maybe it's her yoga training or something?

She has nice rotational movement in her wrists and can touch the tips of her fingers to her mouth.

As she was doing this yoga exercise, I noticed a small growth on her right hand:

It's just an molding remnant along the seam of the hand: 

Unfortunately, Hayley has the same sitting affliction as the newer Disney Store Cinderella.  It is impossible for her to sit in a chair with her knees together:

With her knees straight, though, she's able to sit a bit more elegantly:

And she can kneel like a champ:

Juku Couture dolls have a unique 9 inch size.  Hayley has a large-eyed, articulated style similar to Momoko, J-Doll and Kurhn, but she is significantly shorter than her Asian cousins:

She makes a nice little sister for a J-Doll or Momoko:

In turn, she could be a big sister to Lottie:

Even though they are quite different in size, Hayley and Liv have a lot of similarities.  Hayley strikes me as an ancestor to Liv.  Because Liv was introduced in 2010, right after Juku Couture was discontinued, I wonder if there was any real inspirational connection between these two lines?

They both have exaggerated inset eyes, similar joints, sturdy construction and an unglamorous, wholesome appearance.

The big differences between these two dolls are that Liv can sit better than any doll I own, she can look up and down, and she can wear different wigs.

Hayley is most similar in size and scale to Barbie's sister Stacie and Only Hearts Club dolls like Anna Sophia:

Stacie, Hayley, Anna Sophia.
Stacie's dress is a bit loose on Hayley, but her shoes fit perfectly:

Stacie's shoes fit better than Juku Couture shoes.
Stacie wears Hayley's outfit well, although the blouse is just a tiny bit tight:

It is a huge pain to dress Stacie because her thumb is set at a right angle to her hand.

Hayley's outfit also fits Anna Sophia, in fact Anna's plush torso compresses to allow the tight blouse to close completely in the back.

Only Hearts Club tops are loose on Hayley, but the pants are almost perfect:

I bought an additional fashion pack so that I could get the most out of the mis-matching Harajuku fashion concept.  The fashion pack I chose is called, "Girl's Night Out." These fashion packs can be found fairly inexpensively right now.  I got this one for about $7.

While this set certainly increases the choices I have for dressing Hayley, I wouldn't call my options limitless.   

In fact, with a dress, a skirt, a top and a pair of tights there are only about six standard options and maybe a few more strange ones, like wearing lace tights and a fuzzy hoodie vest...and nothing else.

My favorite piece in this set is the fuzzy hoodie.  I love the mix of bright blue and orange, and the quilted pattern on the blue fur looks great.

The purple patterned velour skirt has a wrap-around design that closes in front with velcro.  It has a cute pink ribbon belt with a plastic decorative buckle.

The mini dress is made out of slinky rainbow fabric with tiny reflective silver dots.  It reminds me of those inexpensive little sand frog stuffed toys you can buy.  There are a lot of those lying around my house.  

Here is Hayley modeling some of the different wardrobe options available to her with the new fashion pack.

Without the yellow socks, Hayley's blue shoes are dramatically oversized.  They don't even come close to fitting.  I need to grab some more of Stacie's shoes for her!

As I dressed and undressed this doll, I noticed that the white blouse wasn't holding up very well.  There are a lot of loose threads that can get caught on Hayley's hands:

And the hem of one sleeve pulled loose and is starting to unravel.  Also, notice how the elbow joint is slipping apart:

The blue hoodie doesn't fit over the blouse very well.  It can't be closed in front:

However, it can be worn on its own and looks great:

This next look probably matches too well to be Harajuku, but I like it anyway.  I am a matching kind of person.

The mini dress is cute (and very short!) and it goes well with her hair ornaments:

Hayley's thumbs kept poking holes in the fabric, though:

And there's a huge stitching defect in the back of this dress:

It's great that these three little dolls can share clothes, and the discontinued Juku Couture items offer an inexpensive way to add to your collective wardrobe.

Here's Hayley back in her original outfit:

Bottom line?  I have been reviewing a lot of Asian or Asian-inspired articulated fashion dolls recently.  Momoko, Kurhn, J-Doll, Pullip and Tangkou all seem to have something in common with this little Juku Couture character.  The question is, what do Juku dolls offer that makes them distinct from these other lines?  What stikes me about this doll, aside form her unique size, is how spunky she is.  She radiates a youthful energy that is missing from the other dolls I mentioned.  Her 9" stature and odd face do not make her statuesque or beautiful, but she has an unexpected realism in her exaggerated features that reminds me of real children I know and makes me smile.

I had a mixed reaction to this doll's clothing.  I love the overall look of the clothes, and the eccentric craziness of the mixed styles.  I also like that the clothes can be shared by Barbie Stacie and my Only Hearts Club gang.  However, the quality of the clothing is a drag.  The white blouse is falling apart, the shoes don't fit, the rainbow dress has holes poked in it and a glaring sewing defect in the back.  Furthermore, after seeing the first wave Audrina's more detailed version of this same outfit, I can't help but feel a little gypped.  I can only imagine how collectors must have felt as they waited excitedly for the 2009 dolls, only to find them wearing watered-down versions of outfits that had already been made.

This doll's articulation is not perfect.  I wish she had a head that could look up and down, and I wish her knee articulation accommodated a normal sitting pose.  However, her body is solid and well-constructed.  She doesn't have obviously fragile joints, and she is made out of sturdy plastic with a satisfying heft.  She can strike a ton of zany, fun poses, and can stand very nicely on her own.

This line has been discontinued for a while now, and the dolls are getting harder to find.  Some of the characters have become quite expensive.  It would be hard for me to rationalize spending $60 on a 2008 Juku Couture doll when I could get six Cutie Pops for that price.  However, a few of these dolls can still be found at or below their original retail.  I have to say that for what I paid, this plucky, preppy little doll brings a fun energy and enthusiasm to my collection.  The fact that I see her as something of a precursor to the Liv line makes her even more appealing.  I wouldn't mind seeking out a few more of her friends.


For Holly--you're right about Lottie and the Swedish Kitchen!  I'm not sure the Chef is happy about the interloper...but I am!  :)


  1. Thanks for review. Juku Couture can also share tops with Lottie, and Lottie can wear her tops. I've learn that recently, also can share bottoms to extend, expect the legging are too long. Also, their hands, and feet are removable like monster high, though it's hard to tell.

    1. Wow! Thank you for all of that great information! I wouldn't have thought to try sharing Lottie's tops with Hayley! I love Lottie's clothes, though, so that's great to know. :)

  2. The variety of dolls you review are just one of the many things I absolutely love about your blog. Recently I was watching a show on TLC about collecting obsessions and one of the stories was about a women who had Raggedy Anns all over her house. At first I thought how boring is that, then I was envious thinking about how easy it would be just to focus on one doll. My doll buying is kinda all over the place and you just happen to be my enabler with some of my purchases.

    This particular doll will be a pass for me but I do love the inset eyes.


    1. Hi Tina, I know what you mean! Oh, my goodness--to have a themed collection would be so nice some days. I love the idea of an Alice in Wonderland collection or a Raggedy Ann collection. That would make it so easy to say, "THIS is what I collect" and have a clear statement about my dolls. It seems like a themed collection would limit spending and doll number, too, doesn't it? I used to try and focus my collecting on Cinderella, but the thing is, there are a TON of different Cinderellas out there! In some ways, it's no more limiting than any other kind of doll collecting. So, we might as well just collect whatever we like, right? :D I'm really glad that you appreciate the diversity.

      Do you have a special kind of doll in your collection--a favorite character or brand? I find that while I love to look at many different kinds of doll, I do end up with clear favorites.

  3. Excellent review as always, juku dolls are cute and the size is great but I prefer to liv dolls

    1. Thank you! I prefer Liv, too. Too bad both of these neat dolls have been discontinued! :( Maybe there's another company out there working on the next doll like this. I hope so!

  4. Hello from Spain: nice report. I see the details of this doll. I like clothes. Stacei is very pretty. In my country we do not know that doll. We keep in touch.

    1. Thank you, Marta! You don't have Barbie's sister Stacie in Spain? That's interesting. I like Stacie's face and body mold, but she isn't very flexible. I wish Mattel would make a more articulated version of her--then she'd be great!

  5. I didn't know this doll, I quite like her! Some of the fashion items aren't my style but her overall look is quite unique and youthful, she indeed looks like a younger Jdoll.
    Thanks for sharing!

    P.S.: Speaking of Asian dolls, a few months ago I found a new line (my wishlist is surreal at this point LOL) they're called Lila dolls and are from the South Korean company Soom. Had you heard of them before? They're expensibe bu I can't get over their sad-puppy like face xD

    1. Hi Moni! Oh yes, SOOM is a dangerous place to go "window shopping." I used to lurk on that website like an addict, waiting for their spectacular fantasy-themed dolls of the month to be released. Those dolls would easily cost as much as $1,800. Ouch.

      I had not seen Lila before (mostly because I no longer allow myself near SOOM). I can see why she's made it on your wish list! She's captivating! I might be in real trouble. She's the same price as a Tonner doll! That's at the high end of prices I tend to consider, but she looks very unique. You're right--there's something about her eyes! I like that she is so much easier to order than the regular SOOM dolls, too...but I guess that could be a problem! :-O

      Thank you so much for the great tip! I think I know where I'll be spending the rest of my morning. There's nothing as fun to me as a new doll website to explore! :D

    2. By the way I meant to write expensive* and but*, I guess I was a bit too excited when I wrote that.

  6. I have the couple of dolls from the original line and I also have the 2009 set. I didn't pay the high price they had for them. I stalked them until they were marked down. I found the original set from a seller on Live Journal. She was selling them for $7 and I jumped when I saw them. No original packaging but who cares I wanted the dolls. The originals kind of laugh at the 2nd versions. I also got all the clothing packs when they went on clearance too. These girls are addictive and I enjoy them :O)

    1. I like your comment, "the originals kind of laugh at the 2nd versions." That is too funny! I can picture it in my head!

      I think I found these dolls a bit too late in the game and missed all of the really good deals. I would very much like to have a few more, but can't see spending much. You got an amazing deal at $7 per doll! Wow! It's hard to do better than that for such highly articulated, personable dolls. Their size is really nice for collecting, too, because they don't take up much space--even if you have them displayed in interesting poses. :)

  7. I love her! This post, as always, was hilarious!

  8. She is very cute. I'm not sure if I would want her, but the funny thing about your blog is that dolls that don't particularly interest me at first become more and more appealing every time I look at them. I look at my doll collection and I see quite a few dolls that I felt sort of "meh" about when I first saw them here and then suddenly I just loved them and had to have them. Your J doll is slowly moving towards the top of my wish list :/ I adore her hair.

    I have two Lottie dolls. I just loved them at first sight. They are just so sweet and I find the size of those smaller dolls very pleasing to hold.

  9. Gosh! I don´t care about the dolls you are reviewing as long as you make me laugh out that loud! The image of bailey the dog saying that comment about eating the visor....hilarious! The dolls are strangely attractive, though. Maybe a themed collection is way more focused,but I enjoy the variety that only the whole range of dolls can give to you. I love collecting a lot of different kind of dolls. By the way, I´m spanish and of course we have stacey doll. Emily, thaks a lot, your posts always makes my days.

    1. Your comment made my day! Thank you so much. :)

      I'm glad you have Stacie in Spain--she's cute. I might prefer her face to Barbie's, actually! I'm glad you agree about variety in dolls, too. It is so amazing what great doll choices there are these days. I like to think about Baby Dimples and the 1920s and imagine how many dolls were available then--not many, I think! We are fortunate to live in such a rich doll world.

  10. I'm always interested in how the clothes work on bigger dolls with similar torso size, for example monster high dolls with their small bodies.
    I'm from Sweden and over here the range of dolls and clothing packs are very limited, and expensive. Always on the look out for clothing and dolls that can work with my MH and older (90's and earlier 00's) Barbies. I have yet not tried other dolls, but am very curious on the Ellowyne Wilde dolls, for example.
    Your reviews are amazing and very informative!

    Love from Sweden

    1. Hi Pia! Thank you! I have heard that the Disney VIP clothes work well for Monster High dolls. Have you seen those? Here's an example:

      They're pretty cute clothes!

      I would love to do an Ellowyne Wilde review some day--I don't have one of those dolls at the moment, but a few of the new ones are sooo tempting! Amazing clothes! I LOVED the debut Lizette, but I missed out on her.

  11. Since these dolls are around the same height as the Swedish Chef, how well do they fit in his kitchen?

    1. I love the way you think, Holly! I got really excited to try Hayley in the Muppet kitchen, but you've uncovered a year-old error on my part. The Swedish Chef is only 6 inches tall without his hat--not 9. I have no idea why my previous post was so wrong about this! Wow. I wish I could find a doll to share the kitchen with the Chef, but Hayley is just a little bit too tall. Sorry! :(

      I went back and changed my old review--I never would have noticed it without you! Thanks! :D

  12. That's really too bad, Emily. I'm glad to have helped inadvertantly correct your review, though. So... how tall are Lottie and LPS Blythe again?

  13. Hi Holly, Lottie is 7 inches tall and LPS Blythe is just a hair over 4.5 inches. Good call with Lottie! She fits the kitchen perfectly! I added a picture for you, above. :)

    1. Hahahaha, the way you set the scene is perfect! Thanks for checking for me and for adding a reference photo.

  14. Another hilarious post. XD

    I like the mismatching theme they have going on, very 1980's. :D

  15. How do they size up with the Little Mismatched girls?

  16. Great review :D I think she looks cute with her freckles :3

  17. please no more expensive dolls, are a frustration for me, I love when you talk about dolls known and accessible

    1. you can't tell her what to do

  18. Just a few words from France after a hard and boring working day. I am not into the kind of dolls you review but I like your blog for its precision (so helpful when thinking about buying a doll on the net) and its humour. Just keep on.

  19. Laughed at the bulldog comment! Would the clothes for this doll fit monster high?

  20. ...traigo

    desde mis



    CON saludos de la luna al
    reflejarse en el mar de la



  21. Hmmm, my 90's era Whitney & Stacie dolls have great articulation. Maybe you could switch their chub heads for the QT-new Stacie sculpt. They're gymnastic series.

    I didn't know they came back diluted. They needed to be better. I recall seeing them & being excited until I noticed how cheap & not as cool as true harajuku the clothing was. Sad it got worse, but great review~!~as per yoosh<3

  22. I'm so sorry I didn't comment earlier! School and laziness got to me and I took a ''doll break'' But now I'm back! Lol xD
    I really like the concept of a Harajuku inspired doll line. If only the clothes were of a better quality. It's a shame the blouse is falling apart and the shoes are too big (love the Frankenstein though!) But I really like the fashion pack clothes, especially the hoodie and the rainbow dress! (I collect those sand frogs/snakes/other animals)
    It's also a bit weird that the designers changed the bios, why would you change biologist into fashion designer? xD
    I think Hayley's face is very special. I love the large eyes, she looks very sweet. She's not my fave though, Jun looks like a dream!
    Thanks for this review Emily, it's always nice to learn about other doll lines! :D
    By the way, I finally got Cleo's vanity! I've been wanting that thing since it first came out but it never appeared in stores where I live. Me is happy ^^

  23. I have found that Juku Couture dolls can also wear Bratz clothes, which are not too hard to find on eBay. So my Juku, Kana, has a ton of cool jeans to wear.

    I was lucky enough to find the Juku Couture dolls on clearance at Target several years ago, and got them for my girls (and me!)

  24. I love you blog. I am blogger too (from Spain) and have one doll (almost) in common with you: LOTTIE. It´s one of my favorites of my collection since I have her. In this post I see one of your Lotties in a Sweddish kitchen at the end of the post and I have a question about. Which company make these kitchen? It´s gorgeous. I´m looking for one for the Lottie size, but I have no idea about...
    And about yor J-Doll. She has a very cute face. I like so much her expresive eyes. Congrats for having her. If you want to visit my blog is: