Thursday, June 29, 2017

Kuu Kuu Harajuku Dolls by Mattel

At the end of May I was looking at the new wave of Project Mc2 dolls on Amazon (apparently I can't stay away from those science girls!) when a recommendation popped up on my screen: Mattel's Kuu Kuu Harajuku dolls.  I had never heard of these dolls, but they looked really cute in the pictures.  At the time when I was shopping, there were three ten-inch fashion dolls and five four-inch mini dolls available.

The fashion dolls are a bit like a mash-up of Ever After High girls and Little Charmers (with big oval heads, round eyes and good-looking articulation), but they also have Japanese Harajuku-themed accessories...similar to the Shibajuku Girl dolls I reviewed back in December.

The dolls are based on an animated television show inspired by Gwen Stefani's 2004 Harajuku Girls song.  The show's five main characters, G, Angel, Music, Love, and Baby are based on Gwen Stefani and her four (controversial) Japanese backup singers from the Love. Angel. Music. Baby. album.  Dolls were made from each of the five main characters.  I chose to purchase large and mini versions of "G," the lead singer and alter ego of Ms. Stefani herself:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku "G" fashion doll ($19.99) and mini doll ($5.99).
I re-visited Amazon last week as I started to photograph G for this review (just to double-check prices and see what other items were available) and I noticed that the fashion dolls are no longer in stock--only the minis.  In fact, there's no information about when the larger dolls might be back.  Amazon states: we don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.  I suspect there was just a snag in early production, but can't find any new information anywhere.

While we wait to see if and when the dolls will come back in stock, I'll share my G with you and let you know if I think she's worth waiting for.

In addition to the two G dolls, I also purchased the extra Rainbow Unicorn fashion pack ($9.99) because...well, rainbows and unicorns.

Here's my haul:

I'll start by looking at the ten-inch G doll:

Here's a picture of her next to a boxed Made to Move Barbie so that you can see how big she is:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku G with Made to Move Barbie.
From looking at online pictures, I got the sense that G was much shorter than an Ever After High doll, but with a similarly-sized head.  As you can, she's actually quite large.  I'll do a few more size comparisons later, but I wanted to show you how big the box is right off the bat.

The box is heavily-decorated and features the disco ball title graphic from the Kuu Kuu Harajuku television show:

Ok, so is the name of the show a play on "ku ku kachoo?"  Like in the Beatles song?  I don't know how else to make sense of it.

The bottom of the box has a cartoon version of G, accompanied by a few smiley, kawaii-style objects:

The back of the box is bright and fun.  It has a large photograph of the doll and some emoji-enhanced text:

The text describes how G is the level-headed lead singer of the "HJ5" (Harajuku 5) band:

The picture of the doll is accompanied by a description of how the little Harajuku charms can be used on the doll or on the human-sized barrette accessory that's included:

At the very bottom of the box, there are photographs of the four additional dolls in the series: Baby, Love, Music and Angel.

From left: Baby, Love, Music and Angel.
Amazon had G, Angel and Love in stock back when I first noticed these dolls.  I haven't seen the television show, so I didn't choose which doll to buy based on their personalities or anything like that.  I bought G mostly because she's the lead singer...but also because my grandmother's nickname was G.  If the dolls ever come back into stock, I'd love to have Baby or Music.

G comes mounted against a colorful cardboard backdrop.  The plastic front of the box was very easy to rip off of this backdrop--no scissors necessary.

I carefully cut G and her accessories away from the backdrop so that I could get a better look at the picture.  It's really cute:

The backdrop shows a city scene that must be from the television show.  The buildings look futuristic and several of the objects have happy Harajuku faces... 

...or scared faces, as the case may be:

Much like the Shibajuku Girls, the Kuu Kuu Harajuku characters all come with accessories that can be shared between the doll and its owner.  

Baby comes with two small bow barrettes, Love comes with a bracelet, Music comes with a keychain, Angel comes with two small wing barrettes, and G comes with one large black bow barrette:

The barrette is hollow and has a thin plastic grip that snaps open in the back.  It looks and feels flimsy:

That would never stay in my hair.
The bow has numerous holes for the insertion of Harajuku charms:

G comes with four plastic charms, each with a short peg in the back:

The edges of the metallic paint are peeling on some of the charms:

Here are G's four charms inserted into random holes:

My favorite charm is a tiny interpretation of G's own face:

There's also a pair of silver notes with a little smiley face:

And a blue microphone with a heart on the handle:

The last charm is an upbeat silver strawberry:

The Harajuku accessories are ok, but the barrette doesn't seem very practical and the charms do not have a lot of detail.  I prefer the colorful barrettes that came with my Shibajuku Girls.

My initial impression of G herself was not great, either.  First of all, despite her bulky shoes and multiple joints, I had a really hard time getting her to stand up on her own:

Leaning G.
She kept tipping sideways or falling over backwards.  I tried to figure out what was going on.

One problem was that G's knee joints were stiff right out of the box, and I had no idea how they were supposed to move, so I didn't try to force anything.  Also, it looks to me like her left leg is quite a bit shorter than her right:

That doesn't help.
I simply could not get both of her feet to sit flat on the ground at the same time:

Another frustration was that the hem of G's dress was flipped up and crooked, and I could not get it to stay flat for very long:

Also, when I removed the rubber band holding G's jacket in place, her strapless dress slid right down to reveal her bare chest.  Sigh.

However, after I straightened the hem of the dress and pulled up the bodice, everything looked good:

This dress causes ongoing trouble, though.  It slides down all of the time and twists around on G's body.  I wish Mattel had added some clear vinyl straps or something--anything--to keep the dress in place.

Perhaps the worst flaw of all is that my G has a scuff on her lower lip and a gouge in the vinyl on her chin:

I was determined to give G a fair chance, though, so I got a little braver with my manipulation of her legs, and discovered that (spoilers!) her knees bend and rotate, so I was able to maneuver her feet into a weight-supporting position:

Let's start over!  Here's G:

The hem of her dress is still wonky, but she's standing upright and she looks good.  She looks a heck of a lot like Alice and Wonderland, though.  Perhaps the Alice outfit is in reference to Gwen Stefani's What You Waiting For video?  Or maybe I'm just missing something from the television show.

G's face reminds me a lot of Ever After High...until I'm looking at it next to an actual Ever After High doll face.  See if the same thing happens to you.  Here's G's face on it's own:

Familiar, right?
But here are some actual Ever After High faces from my Holly and Poppy review:

They look angry in comparison.
And here's G alongside (angry) Ashlynn:

They're really quite different.

This is the other doll that G reminds me of--Posie from the Little Charmers:

Little Charmers Posie doll.
She's not angry, that's for sure, but her head and eyes are proportionally much larger than G's.  

Is there another doll who looks like G that I'm just not thinking of?  Hm.  In any case, G's face feels a lot like something I've seen before.  It's not groundbreaking or unique.  It's definitely cute, though.

G comes with her yellow-blonde hair tied into two side buns.  She has a shorter section of hair that's pulled across the top of her forehead and secured with thread.  This section of hair has some white highlights and a few opalescent glittery strands.  She's also wearing a plastic headband with a large black bow:

The bow has a single hole in the middle... the Harajuku charms can be used here, too:

G has large, round brown eyes with heart-shaped reflective dots:

She has thin bands of purple and pink eyeshadow, and then the remaining space between her eye and her eyebrow is decorated with a clear silver glitter gloss:

The eye paint is nicely done with no glaring defects.

Something must have scratched G's face during manufacturing, though.  The missing paint in her lower lip and the dent in her chin look like they were both caused by something sharp scraping down across her face:  

G's nose is by far the smallest feature on her face.  It might not be as nonexistent as a Bratz nose, but it's super tiny.  I think the reflective heart in her eye is bigger than her nose:

G's black headband is secured to her head with three plastic ties:

I cut the headband away from head.  The bow section is hollow:

And--like the Mattel Wonder Woman dolls--this headband has holes in the sides specifically for the insertion of plastic ties.  Massive packaging overkill, if you ask me.

Here's G without her headband--notice the fun diagonal part in the back of her hair!

While I was inspecting G's hair and headband, her dress hem had a chance to curl up again:

G is wearing a grey cropped jacket over her blue dress.  The jacket is designed to stay open in front, showcasing the small black plastic bow at the top of the dress' bodice: 

The jacket is unlined with narrow seam allowances.  The edges of the white fabric (on the collar and cuffs) look like they were singed to prevent unraveling.  These areas are not stitched: 

The jacket is easy to pull off over G's hands, but a little harder to get back on.  I pulled pretty hard but was unable to remove G's hands, so I suspect they're meant to stay in place.  That's fine with me--I get a little tired of pulling doll hands out and putting them back in again.

Underneath the jacket, you can see that there's nothing to hold G's strapless dress in place: 


If the dress wasn't so hard to keep in place, I'd be really fond of it.  It has a white panel down the front with glittery zig-zags, and a fun tulle layer over the skirt:

The main skirt has a cute (but unruly) two-layered ruffle at the bottom.  A line of black piping (with another plastic bow) sits just above the ruffle and breaks up the pale palette:

The dress opens down the back with velcro...but it needn't bother.  The dress easily slides off, with or without a velcro seam.

Here's the dress on its own:

It's decently constructed, but again--all of those seam allowances are so narrow, it'd be easy for something to pull free:

Under her dress, G is wearing white tights, striped leggings, and off-white vinyl sneakers:

The sneakers are pearl-colored with black painted laces.  They don't really match the rest of the outfit.

Each sneaker has a hole on the outer edge for a Harajuku charm:

One of my doll's shoes has an orange color defect in the back: 

The treads on these shoes are fun.  They have traditional tread lines mixed with a collection of differently-sized molded lips:

The tights and leggings cannot be removed until the shoes are off:

Even with the shoes gone, it was a little tricky to get the tights off over G's feet.  I ended up pulling the tights and leggings off together (even though they are separate pieces) just to make redressing easier.  I recommend this approach.

G has a hard plastic torso with vinyl limbs and eleven points of articulation:

She has a slender profile with minimal hip and chest definition:

G has molded underwear and a few manufacturing markings on her back:

Despite the fact that this doll has yet to see the store shelves, she bears a 2016 copyright:

G's neck is ball jointed and has an excellent range of movement.  She can look all around...

...and can even tilt her head to the side, which I think is adorable:

G's shoulders are a little stiff, but they have hinged rotation and can lift up...

...and spin around to strike almost any position (as long as her huge head is out of the way!):

Her elbows and wrists also have rotating hinge joints, and can each flex to about 90 degrees:

G's excellent arm articulation and large head combine to make it easy for her to touch her face and hair:

She can also rest her hands on her hips with no trouble:

G's hips allow her legs to move apart a little from side to side:

And she can do full front-to-back splits:

This range of movement means that she can sit on the ground with her legs together...

...and also with her legs slightly apart:

I gave this away already, but G's knees can bend and rotate.  They were stiff right out of the box, but a little bit of movement got them loosened up.

In fact, she can sit cross-legged on the ground...and it almost looks comfortable!

With a little counter levering, G can also kneel...

...on one or both knees:

She's awesome at chair-sitting:

Despite my initial concerns with those stiff knees, this doll has excellent articulation.

Here's G next to my Ever After High Apple White doll:

Ever After High doll (left), Kuu Kuu Harajuku doll (right).

G has a simpler body shape than Apple.  Neither G's torso nor her limbs have the same level of definition.  G's body is also a little shorter than Apple's, although her large head size makes up part of the discrepancy in height.

Here's G with my Pullip doll, Eos:

Pullip doll (left), Kuu Kuu Harajuku doll (right).
These two have similar proportions and a similar body style.  Eos has more points of articulation, but G moves much better.

I hunted around for more large-headed dolls to compare to G.  Here she is with my beloved (and discontinued) Cutie Pops girl, Crystalina:

Cutie Pops doll (left), Kuu Kuu Harajuku doll (right).
Again, G's body is vastly superior to Crystalina's, but I do love the character in the Cutie Pop faces.

G does not have much in common with Pinkie Cooper at first glance:

Pinkie Cooper doll (left), Kuu Kuu Harajuku doll (right).
But Pinkie's clothes actually fit G remarkably well.  I confess that I forgot to take photos of G in Pinkie's dresses at this stage of the review (while G's hair was still in its factory style), but never fear!  I'll show you a few shots at the end.

Many things about G are similar to a La Dee Da doll, although the face styles are quite different and (once again) G's articulation is superior.  Here's G with Dee from the Dots of Style wave:

La Dee Da doll (left), Kuu Kuu Harajuku doll (right).
While Dee can't wear G's clothes, G can wear Dee's dress pretty well:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku G in a La Dee Da dress.
Last but not least, here's G with my Equestria Girls Rainbow Dash:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku doll (left) and Equestria Girls doll (right).
These two have very similar torso proportions, so it's no surprise that they can share dresses.  G's dress is a little tight on Rainbow...

Equestria Girls Rainbow Dash wearing Kuu Kuu Harajuku dress.
But Rainbow's dresses look amazing on G--the bright red in the clothes goes really well with G's lipstick:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku G wearing Equestria Girls top.
Kuu Kuu Harajuku G wearing Equestria Girls dress (left) and top (right).

I also bought G a rainbow outfit of her very own, so let's take a look at that next:

All of the outfit sets come with Harajuku charms and accessories that can be shared between kids and their dolls.  The Rainbow Unicorn outfit comes with a keychain that doubles as a doll purse.  The four charms that come with this purse look a little more detailed than G's charms:

The bottom of the box has a picture of all five members of HJ5:

The back of the box has a photograph of Baby modeling the Rainbow Unicorn outfit:

Baby looks great!  I like her pink hair streaks and purple eyes:

There's a smaller photograph towards the bottom that shows the other four outfit sets in the series:

These are all cute, but none of them stand out to me the way the Rainbow Unicorn outfit does.  My favorite of these four is either Love's berry-covered ensemble (mostly because of those glasses!) or G's orange and green sushi-themed confection.

The plastic front pulls easily off the backdrop...

...and the outfit pieces are all fairly easy to cut away from the decorative backdrop.  Once again, I really like the backdrop art.  It's bright and fun, depicting a scene from a small shop or bedroom:

Here's a closer look at the heart-shaped dresser at the back of the room:

The Rainbow Unicorn pack comes with a dress, a jacket, boots, a purse/keychain, four Harajuku charms, two wrist cuffs, and a headband:

The boots grabbed my eye right away.  On closer inspection, though, they're not actually boots.  They're vinyl unicorn sneakers with mismatched socks molded onto them:

The little unicorn faces are flat, with no protruding nose area, so they don't look very equine, but they're still charming:

Up close they get a little less charming, though.  The black paint from the eyes and mouth streaks out onto the white face, making the features look cobwebby and creepy:

There are some other minor paint imperfections as well--like the sloppy stripes at the top of one sock: 

The key ring from this outfit has a flat unicorn face that matches the shoes:

The pink plastic ring is easy to detach, transforming the piece into a purse:

The unicorn face on the purse has a printed blue horn and some matching blue streaks in the forelock. There are also holes in each ear for Harajuku charms.  The back of the purse is blank, but has some additional holes for the charms:

Sadly, the purse does not open.

Once again, it's best not to look too closely at the unicorn's face--the black paint misses its mark in several areas:

The purse is a great way to display the Harajuku charms that come with this set, though.  

First, there's a pink and blue cupcake:

I love the sprinkles in the frosting area, but the face does not look great.

There's also a drink with a straw:

A happy cloud:

And a fancy cake:

These charms do have more detail than G's charms, but the detail isn't very well done.  There's smeared or streaked paint everywhere.  Even though these charms are tiny, the flaws are visible at normal magnification.

The dress in this set comes with a rainbow-collared jacket that's very similar to G's grey jacket:

The jacket doesn't close on its own, but comes tied to the dress with a clear rubber band:

This jacket does not have contrasting cuffs, but otherwise its construction is the same as G's jacket:

Underneath the jacket, the dress is sleeveless, but not strapless (thank goodness!).  The bodice has a printed collar design on the front:

And a velcro seam down the back:

The skirt is made out of a shiny purple polka dot fabric and has three colorful tulle ruffles around the bottom:

The ruffles and stiff fabric in the skirt help give this dress a great shape...and keep that shape.  

Here's G modeling the dress, wrist cuffs and purse:

The headband from this outfit is flat, so it's hard to photograph unless it's propped up or on a doll's head:

Here's G wearing the headband:

The center of the bow has yet another little unicorn face:

Do we dare to look at the face up close?  

It's probably not a good idea, but here you go...

Oh, man.  That might be the worst paint of all.  I can't tell if the poor unicorn looks sad or demonic.

I thought that the Rainbow Unicorn shoes would be really hard to get on because of those tall, stiff vinyl socks.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that they slip on with no trouble!

The shoes also look really cute and help G balance well.  I like these shoes a lot more than the sneakers from G's outfit.

Here's the outfit without the jacket or any of the Harajuku charms:

Even though there are several options for where to place the Harajuku charms (purse, shoes, headband), I think they look best when they're all clustered together on the headband:

Here's the entire outfit with and without the purse:

I really love this outfit on G.  I think it suits her even better than her original outfit, although--again--I haven't seen the television show, so I don't now anything about G's personality and whether or not a rainbow unicorn outfit would be suitable for her character.

At this point in the review, it finally occurred to me that I should take a picture of G next to one of my Shibajuku Girls.  Here she is with Namika:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku G (left), Shibajuku Namika (right).
It's funny how direct comparisons between two dolls can bring out the best or worst in them.  I really like Namika, but next to G, she looks bug-eyed and strange.  G is also much easier to pose and play with than Namika is...and it's really hard to beat that cheerful Rainbow Unicorn outfit.

I put G back into her original dress so that she could meet her four-inch mini me:

The mini Kuu Kuu Harajuku dolls come packaged in what is essentially just a smaller version of the fashion doll box.  Most of the cover graphics are the same as what we saw on the larger G's box, and even the vague heart shape of the plastic shell is similar:

The back of the box shows a photograph of the doll and an explanation for how the Harajuku charms can be swapped...

...and there's a small photograph of the other mini dolls in this collection:

In this case, I think Angel and Baby are my favorites.  If the current prices on Amazon are any indication, Baby, Angel and Music (who each cost about $15) are more popular than G and Love ($5.99).

The backdrop of this box is a small version of the backdrop on the larger G's box:

Mini G comes packaged inside a molded plastic shell: 

Everything pops out of the shell quite easily.  

G comes with four Harajuku charms and a glittery child-sized ring:

The ring is made out of vinyl and has holes for the Harajuku charms.  I'll use the ring to prop those charms up for a few quick pictures.

First there's a shouting red megaphone:

There's also a pair of bright red lips (which I think are upside-down here):

Incidentally, the ring has molded lips all along its edges, too:

There's a pink version of the happy music notes that we saw with the larger G:

And a pink version of the microphone, too:

The black paint on these last two charms isn't applied perfectly, but I like the extra detail it adds to the charms.  

Compare these charms to the metallic ones I showed you earlier:

The G doll stands well on her own--at least when she's wearing her sneakers:

Based on the box art and what I've seen of the television show, this doll looks more like G than the fashion doll, but I don't like her face as much as I like the larger doll's face:

Here's a promotional shot from the television show so you can see what I mean:

Mini G has enormous brown eyes with pale yellow iris lines.  She also has prominent, heart-shaped reflective dots in each pupil.  I think that the arc of her thin eyebrows extends a bit too far towards her nose, making her look irritated or devious from certain angles:

The face paint is very nicely done for the most part, but this doll looks funny to me.  Her features are a bit too exaggerated and her expression a bit too severe.

Her molded blonde hair has the same cool diagonal part in back, though:

The top half of G's outfit is painted right onto her body.  There are some nice silver details at the neckline:

The pattern does not continue onto the back of the jacket, though.  G's back is plain grey and is covered with a molded copyright:

The skirt is made out of soft vinyl and is removable.  It attaches in the back with an elongated peg-and-hole clasp:

Here's a closer look at the clasp on the back of the skirt:

It's really easy to undo the clasp and get the skirt off, and a bit harder to get the clasp fastened again.

The shoes are also removable, and they pull off easily thanks to long slits in the back:

Here are all of the removable pieces of clothing:

The sneakers have painted blue socks at the top, but these are only painted on the front half of the shoe--the back is plain white:

I think it's neat that the treads of the small shoes look just like the larger shoes:

Each sneaker has a molded lip design on the side and a small hole for a Harajuku charm near the toe.

All of the charms are interchangeable--meaning that they fit on both sizes of doll and also on all of the human-sized accessories.  

As an example, here's one of mini G's charms on the larger G's shoes:

The blue skirt has two places for charms to be placed.  The black bow that came attached to the left side of the skirt is removable and can be interchanged with all of the other charms:

Underneath the skirt, G's legs are painted white to look like tights.  Her foot mold has individual toe detail, which I always think looks really funny with painted legs:

Her feet are quite realistic, though, and very large!

Hobbit feet!
Notice how well G is sitting on the ground in the picture, above.  She cannot sit like this when she's wearing her skirt.  The skirt is too tight and too inflexible to allow the legs to move that much.

G has a vinyl body with a hollow plastic head.  She has five points of simple rotational articulation (neck, shoulders, hips).  Her legs are a medium-soft vinyl and can bend with some effort while her arms are markedly softer and can bend a lot.

G's headband is painted onto her hair.  This area of the head has three holes, all of which can accommodate the removable black bow decoration

The other charms can take the place of the bow, too, but I think this looks a little silly:

G is taller than a Shopkins Li'l Shoppie doll like Rainbow Kate:

Li'l Shoppie doll (left) and Kuu Kuu Harajuku mini (right).
And she's shorter than a Littlest Pet Shop Blythe mini:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku mini (left) and Littlest Pet Shop Blythe (right).
I think some of the other dolls in this series are more appealing, but mini G is still a manageable, affordable toy for fans of the Kuu Kuu Harajuku cartoon.

Here are a few pictures of big G and little G together:

10-inch and 4-inch Kuu Kuu Harajuku dolls.

10-inch and 4-inch Kuu Kuu Harajuku dolls.
And here are a few more pictures of big G all on her own--she's really fun to pose:

The pieces from G's regular outfit can be mixed with the Rainbow Unicorn pieces, but nothing matches very well:

Throughout this review, as I posed G and changed her clothes, I noticed that some of the hairs in her side buns were slipping out of place:

Also, there were an increasing number of stray hairs sticking out because of the numerous headband changes:

I decided to see what G would look like with her hair down.

The buns were held in place with a loop of fairly loose rubber band.  It was really easy to release the buns and make two wavy ponytails, like this:

This is the most likely outcome for a G doll that's getting played with a lot.  I think the ponytails look sweet, though  

The ponytails themselves are held in place with many loops of very tight rubber band, so it was harder to let those down.  It would take a lot of play for the ponytails to come out on their own.

Here's what the loose hair looks like in back--the diagonal part mostly disappears into the waves of hair:

And here's how the hair looks from the front:

I got out my wire brush and gave the hair a thorough brushing.  The fiber is smooth and soft and feels great.  

It looks great, too:

The rooting is dense and even:

This hair did not need a boil wash.  In fact, I was thinking that I might keep the shorter bangs section tied in place because it looks really nice like that.

However, I noticed that the more I brushed the hair, the stickier my fingers got.  It was pretty unpleasant.  I investigated around the head and found a large patch of tacky glue at the back of G's head, right near the brand mark:

I decided to take the bangs down and rinse the hair out.

Here's how the bangs looked right after I cut the threads:

And here's how the hair looked after I'd washed and dried it:

Kuu Kuu Harajuku G doll with hair taken down.
The shorter hairs from the bangs blend in with the longer hair pretty well, especially at the side.  However, some of those iridescent tinsel strands got kinked and messy during the wash:

It was fairly easy to find that diagonal part and re-create the ponytail style:

If the ponytails are placed forward on G's head, they can capture the shorter hairs from the bangs:

I think ponytails really suit her.

The headbands can also be used to pull the shorter hairs away from G's face.  The black headband is especially good at this:

Although it leaves small sections of hair on either side that can't be pulled back:

The unicorn headband is not as long as the black headband, so it leaves behind larger sections of hair on either side of the head:

My favorite little plastic clips (the ones I think should come with every doll) are great for controlling the bangs, too:

Another option is to tie the bang section back with a rubber band.  The little pink wrist cuffs that come with the Rainbow Unicorn outfit are perfect for concealing the rubber band, too:

As promised, I'll finish up by showing you a few pictures of G wearing Pinkie Cooper's clothes.  These dresses fit very well and I think they look great on G!

Kuu Kuu Harajuku G in Pinkie Cooper dress.

Bottom line?  When I first took G out of the box, her scratched face, stiff knees and poor dress design all made me think that the review was not going to end well.  However, these flaws seem minor as I look back and assess the doll as a whole.

I'll summarize my criticisms of this doll and then explain why they don't matter much to me.  G's scratched face is not worth further comment since it's likely a random occurrence.  The design of the dress can't be dismissed as easily.  Not only does the hem of the dress refuse to lay flat, but the bodice is loose-fitting and has no straps or it falls down and twists around all of the time.  In addition, the jacket can be a little hard to get on over the hands (which are not removable) and the sneakers don't really match the rest of the outfit.  Why do these things not bother me, then?  Well, I like the way the clothes look when everything's arranged just right, and I appreciate the little details in the outfit--like the tulle-lined ruffle on the dress, the cuffs on the jacket, and the layering of striped leggings over full tights.  Also, the shortcomings of G's signature outfit are absent in the Rainbow Unicorn ensemble.  This fashion pack is a great value, with a dress that stays put, shoes that are colorful and fun, and many adorable unicorn accents to boot.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that G can also share some of the clothes from other doll brands.  Equestria Girls and Pinkie Cooper dresses fit especially well.  So, G has plenty of clothing choices available to her, and this makes the flaws in the original dress seem less critical.

My other main issue with G was that I couldn't get her to stand up straight (or stand up at all) when I first got her out of the box.  Thankfully, this difficulty was short-lived.  Once her stiff knee joints loosened up, G became easy to balance and pose.  In fact, her eleven points of articulation allow her to pose better than most play dolls.  Her outstanding head and arm mobility, in particular, add a lot to her charm.

A few other little complaints cropped up throughout this review.  First of all, the details on many of the smaller accessories (like the Harajuku charms) are not painted very well.  Faces that look cute from a distance are sloppy (and a little spooky!) up close.  In fact, I found the Harajuku charms to be fiddly and hard-to-use overall.  I prefer the bulky, colorful Harajuku barrettes that come with the Shibajuku Girls.  Accessories aren't foremost on my mind when I'm assessing a doll, though.

One other strange thing I encountered during the review was that G's head and hair were quite sticky--perhaps from glue that leaked out of her (hard) head?  I had to stop taking pictures and go wash my hands several times while I was inspecting the hair.  Granted, I only noticed this after I took G's hair down, and then I didn't notice it again after the hair was washed, but I'll certainly be on the lookout for the stickiness to return.  On the plus side, G has dense, soft, lovely hair that looks just as good down as it does in its factory style.

The Kuu Kuu Harajuku girls are yet another line of dolls with oversized heads and huge eyes.  That style is getting overdone these days, but it's hard to deny that G has an irresistibly charming look about her.  She reminds me of some of my favorite dolls from the past--like Cutie Pops and La Dee Da.  She's also similar to dolls like Ever After High, Pullip, and Shibajuku Girls, and will likely appeal to some of the same audiences.  I find G easier to manage than most of these other dolls, and surprise myself a little by liking her best.

I hope the ten-inch Kuu Kuu Harajuku fashion dolls come back in stock soon.  To me, they are a better option than the equivalent mini figures, and--despite not really offering anything truly new--manage to be an exciting addition to the doll market.  I suspect they'll be very popular with fans of Gwen Stefani and the Kuu Kuu Harajuku show, but also with collectors like me who are simply looking for a new play doll to bring a spark of sweetness and personality into the mix. 


  1. Great review, as usual. Have you seen the newish dolls? There 18 inches and I think they they have a similar construction to that of a karito kid or my life as.

    1. I saw them and they are very pretty dolls with unique faces!!!! They have two dolls at the moment, but there are several characters in the series. One of my favorite dolls that they have is Cara. I'd love to see you review her. She is $88.

  2. I think the name is just a stylization of "cuckoo Harajuku".

    I don't know. The faces look off to me. Something about the lips looks too mature or maybe too small and puckered for her to feel sweet to me- notably, she looked a lot better when not wearing her headband and with a more sophisticated outfit.

    There's a new brand of dolls called "SmartGurlz", which, despite the awful name, look rather pretty- they look sort of like Kurhn dolls, and they come with robotic scooter vehicles.

  3. they remind me very much of MGA dolls, specifically the Bratz Kidz and the Yummi Land dolls. It's that very very sort of flat, round Stewie Griffin football head lol.

  4. You said this doll looked like someone besides Ever After High and the Little Charmers, and I want to offer my own guess. She reminds me a lot of that Princess Malucia doll that you reviewed sometime back. They have the same smile, but I think G is bigger than the princess is. Thanks for the review; now I want one of these myself, LOL!

  5. they kind of seem in the same family as the shibajuku girls albeit slightly more original (debatable) since shibajuku was a really obvious and poor bootleg of pullip

  6. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the "kuu kuu" in the line's name comes from the Japanese pronunciation of the English word "cool."

    Interesting line, though! G's not my favorite of the bunch from what I have seen, but I definitely like her a lot with her hair straight and out of the buns.

  7. The tv show was on Nickelodeon for a while but then they stopped showing it, I do why. I did manage to see a few episodes of the show and from what I can remember G was like the leader of the group/more level headed one when it came to their career etc. On a side note they made harajuku dolls back in the early 2000s when L.A.M.B. was popular and they actually made a Gwen doll in that line. But I think they're hard to find on the second market. Oh and you should totally check out the. Harajuku girls perfume line, they have ADORABLE! Bottle toppers that are so worth getting the perfume for just for the toppers lol..i should know I have a few myself, well ok and I really love the perfumes lol!

  8. I've been eying the Harajuku dolls for a while! That rainbow unicorn outfit is my favorite too so I'm glad its pretty good.

    Can Harajuku and Cutie Pops dolls share charms/pops? I feel like the fullsize ones probably won't be able to but the minis might.

  9. It would be cool ir you make a comparison between vintage Jem and Jem Made by Integrity, now that the later ones are being discontinuated.
    Luis from México

  10. It'd be nice to know if they're ever coming back. IMO they're much cuter than the Shibajuku girls. I was surprised at the size difference between the two.

    Btw, I ordered an inexpensive lavender doll wig with bangs off amazon for my Blythe doll. It fits the Cutie Pops perfectly and -- sigh -- confirmed what I've long thought: IMO, those dolls would've sold better if they had regular doll hair instead of molded vinyl. :( SO cute!! I still have all of mine on display, for some reason they appeal to me, even with the vinyl hair.

  11. I love how indepth your reviews are-- really helps me make my decision!! I'd been eyeing these girls for a while... I might get a fashion pack if they can swap with Monster High/Ever After High, but still not sure... Anyway, thanks for your awesome reviews!! :)

  12. Her face bares a strong resemblance to Gwen Stafani herself. It's weird, because the proportions are all off and such, but I got a very strong Gwen vibe from her before I even clicked on the fill review and saw that she was based on Gwen. Something about their mouths and face shape reminds me of her. Anyways, great review as always! I would love for you to review a couple of the other girls and extra outfits if they ever come back in stock!


  13. I like these dolls but something about them feels off to me, Kind of like the enchantimals I don't know if I'll be getting any of these... I'm starting to hate big headed dolls since that's most of what's out right now but I'll have to see them in stores to be sure.

  14. I hate to be "That Person" but "Koo Koo Kachoo" is most famously a line from Mrs. Robinson, which is by Simon and Garfunkel. :) Okay... I'll go back to enjoying the dolls now!

    1. It is also in the Beatles I am the walrus, which came out before Mrs. Robinson.

  15. I found G & Love at a local Walmart for $18 & change. I've read some people are having trouble with the limbs breaking. Are these dolls fragile? I want to give them as gifts, what age group would you suggest? Do you think she is a play doll or more of a display collectible doll? Thank you for the great review & comparisons.

    1. They're certainly meant to be play dolls. It's probably more about the play style of the child than the exact age, but I'd say 6-10 year olds would be the target. Very similar to Ever After High. My G's limbs are holding up well. I was even tugging on her arms at one point during the review to see if the hands are meant to be removable. The knees also feel sturdy...although they were quite stiff at first, so perhaps bending them too quickly or aggressively right out of the box can cause breakage? I can definitely see that being a problem for energetic kids. I'm sorry to hear that people are having trouble, though. I think G is a really delightful play doll! Nice to know that the dolls have come into stock at some stores.

  16. As always your review leaves me with no qualms about saving up vs spending. Im waiting for prices to drop ,but definitely spending! Thank you!

    Eyeing the quality of fully stocked sections of these dolls I was dismayed by the very poor clothing and paint. Each unicorn outfit I've seen in person looked worse than a lot! You got really lucky with that esp.

    With their giant heads they feel like the product of Bratz and Shopkins Shoppies to me; can she borrow clothes or accessories from either of them. I'm happy she has feet; the giant shoes had me suspecting pegs. But is there any shoe sharing twixt MH and EAH? Its Mattel after all so I'm hopeful. I've finally got a skin tone match with this line and will be rebodying, so I will eventually be able to try on Bratz clothes.

    I'm wishing with all my heart they fit into Bratz clothes. Bratz are absolutely the best fashion dolls in my opinion cuz their outfits are so... realized, and realistically on trend.

    On a side note, it's so not cool that Gwen hired Japanese girls to follow her around and the way she copied the, then, underground and unknown fashion of Harajuku to seem original and promote herself is borderline cultural mis appropriation. I was so mad at that stunt she pulled to get back in the spotlight. I used to like her sooo much and still listen to the first No Doubt album from time to time. Wug having to support her by buying these dolls, but I must lol.

    It's really sad the show and dolls are just like real life with her background groupies in similar drab school uniform attire and Gwen being unique and wearing fun fashion.

    They really should have,I think, put the extra fashion pack outfits on the remaining dolls and had the school uniform on a hanger in the box. Even tho the sushi and unicorn are the absolute best coords, itd be so great to use parts of the kawaii fashions with the uniform just like any young girl would do in real life to express her individuality.

  17. Oh! It's no wonder someone commented G looks like Gwen Stefani. I noticed in your shot of the back of her head it says HARAJUKU LOVERS, and that reminded me of a sample card I got years ago working at the mall...

    Harajuku Lovers is Gwen Stefani's perfume line!