Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Our Generation Science Accessories

I had a hard time figuring out what to review this week.  At Maricha's request, I tried to review a Fingerlings monkey (they seem easier to find now), but my studio set-up doesn't work well for reviewing interactive items.  The monkey I bought is cute, but mechanized toys are not really my thing, so I took a few pictures and now she's on her way to a gently used toy drive for the holidays.  Sorry, Maricha!

I also contemplated reviewing two of my new Maru and Friends Mini Pals (Raven and Halle), but I just did a Mini Pal review recently, so that didn't seem like the right choice, either.

Then, a comment on the Create Your Own American Girl doll review caught my eye.  Lurkins wanted to know more about Our Generation Suyin (she's the doll who modeled Eliza's glasses).  Is she as cute as she looks in the promotional pictures?  Is her hair terrible?  I've had Suyin and a few other Our Generation dolls for several months now, and have never quite been motivated enough to build a whole review around them.  Lurkins' question and some of the new Our Generation accessories finally gave me the inspiration I needed to figure out today's review.

This review will actually be a mishmash of all the ideas I mentioned above.  I'll look mostly at the Our Generation Science Lab set, but I'll also give a quick rundown of my thoughts about a few Our Generation dolls, I'll offer a peek at a Fingerlings monkey...and I'll even show off two of my Mini Pal friends:

Maru and Friends Mini Pal, Chad, with Our Generation Science Lab set ($29.99).
First, let me show you a few pictures of Zoe, my Fingerlings monkey.  I found her at Target for around $24.  She came with a plastic jungle gym:


I imagine that these toy monkeys were inspired by pictures of Cebuella pygmaea--pygmy marmosets, also known as "finger monkeys."  I used to show pictures of them all of the time in my biology class because they're attention-getting and adorable.  This link will take you to a wonderful photo (by zoo photographer Cherl Kim) of a baby marmoset actually gripping someone's finger.

Here's a photo of an adult marmoset in the wild:

Zwergseidenäffchen jk

The toys don't look much like actual marmosets, but they do have bendable vinyl limbs that allow them to grip a human finger:

In fact, their grip is so firm that they can even hang upside down with little risk of falling:


On Zoe's back, there's a large speaker, a battery compartment, and an on/off switch:

Zoe also has hidden sensors on her head that, when touched, initiate certain actions.

Mostly, Zoe turns her head back and forth, opens and closes her eyes, and has a range of vocalizations, like this one:

And this one:

You might hear me making kissing noises in the first video.  That's because it says in the instructions that if you blow Zoe a kiss, she will return the favor.  They actually mean that if you forcefully blow on Zoe's face, she'll make kissing noises.  She'll also fart (burp?) if you touch both of her head sensors at once.  Lovely.

The jungle gym snaps together pretty easily and offers Zoe a place to hang when you don't feel like carrying her around.  To me, the large size of the gym negates the appeal of Zoe's portable, unobtrusive size.

Besides, there are other things around the house that Zoe can cling to.

Mini Pal Chad with Fingerlings Zoe.
Anyway, she's a cute little toy, easily worth $10-15. 

When I was shopping at Target for Zoe, though, it was the Our Generation aisle that really grabbed my attention.  There are a ton of new dolls and accessories available.  There are pets (including little parakeets!), horses, retro-themed items, musical instruments, a veterinary clinic, scooters and airplanes for the Lori dolls...more things than I can remember!  And everything seems reasonably priced, especially after shopping at American Girl.

I came home with these three science-themed sets, which will (eventually) be the focus of this review:

The large Science Lab set (in back) and in front, the Life Science set (left) and Lab Class set (right).
Before I dig into the science accessories, though, let me quickly show you a few of the Our Generation dolls that I've purchased over the past year.

First, here's Ilyssa and her Boston terrier, Indyana:

I really like the Lori characters that come with pets, and because I used to have a Boston terrier of my own, this pair was a clear choice.

Ilyssa comes with a purse and glasses, and Indyana comes with a rope leash.

Ilyssa's outfit consists of a fur vest, a grey long-sleeved tee shirt, and some clashing purple leggings.  Her shoes are buttery yellow flats with glitter thrown at them:

The clothing is fine.  It has very narrow seam allowances, so curling edges are an issue, particularly around the neckline and cuffs of the shirt.  My biggest problem with the outfit is that I don't find it very attractive.

Ilyssa's glasses have heart-shaped lenses and blue frames that kind-of match the vinyl trim of the vest:

It's hard to get the glasses straight.
Ilyssa has the same face mold as the other Lori dolls and her brown eyes are nicely-set.  Her black hair is long and silky, but the waviness from the factory braid makes it a little hard to tame.

The cloth body on this doll is really sloppy, though.  It's lopsided in shape and has crude seams.  It's a real challenge to get Ilyana to stand up straight.  The the color of the cloth doesn't even match the rest of the fact, it makes the vinyl parts of the body look strangely green to me:

The little dog, Indyana, is sort-of cute, but she doesn't look much like a Boston terrier up close.  Maybe she's supposed to be a bull terrier or something?

That is not a Boston terrier face.
Also, her painted eyes are too light and they have way too much white showing...not to mention the little paint defects around the edges.  She looks terrified:

No!  Not the toenail clippers!
Overall, this is a pretty cute pair, but there are a few lapses in quality control, namely the construction of the cloth body and the paint defects on the dog.

Lori doll Ilyssa with Indyana.
The other mini doll I chose is May Lee.  I was hoping she'd be a good mini-me for Suyin:

May Lee's bulky, lace-lined silver sweater accentuates her barrel-chested shape:

Her hair is very silky and straight, but her bangs stick out and look pretty silly most of the time:


May Lee is wearing cute blue capri pants and little silver shoes with bows on the toes.  Her pants are fully lined, but this makes them super-tight and extremely hard to get on and off.

May Lee's body is a little less crooked than Ilyssa's, but the seams are still sloppy.  The biggest problems with May Lee are her too-tight pants, her unflattering sweater, and her wonky bangs.

I bought a few of the larger Our Generation dolls, too, mostly to explore some of the new ethnic diversity in the lineup.  The first girl I chose was Neveah:


Neveah is one of the dolls with extremely long hair and an extendable hair gimmick.  I've always been curious about this feature.

Her hair is a lovely dark brown color, with streaks of lighter brown mixed throughout.

There are three braids that come out of a hole in the top of Neveah's head:

These can be short:

Or, if a button on Neveah's back is pressed...

...the braids can be pulled out so that they're longer:

To shorten the braids again, the button twists around to wind the braid back into the head.  It's pretty fun to play around with this feature.

The hair is impractical for play, though.  I always like the idea of super-long doll hair more than I like the reality of it.  I mean, it looks good and feels great right after it's brushed, but it's really hard to keep it untangled and looking nice...even for me.  I can't recommend giving this doll to a younger kid because the hair would be frustrating.

I do like the pink hair extension that comes with Neveah:


It has a clear rubber band at one end that can loop onto Neveah's rooted hair.  It's not attached to the pink flower headband.

Toy Box Philosopher

Neveah's outfit is nice.  I like the mix of colors and styles with the lacy pink dress and the olive green vest:

The vest has ruffled cap sleeves and a gathered waist.  It's very lightweight and wrinkles easily.

The lace dress has a simple, sleeveless shape:

The lace is sewn to a skin-colored lining...but the lining doesn't match the actual color of Neveah's skin:

Neveah has a wonky left eye (it points downward) and a shade of dark lipstick that's just a little too purple for my taste (I think purple makeup makes dolls look dead).  The color looks good in photographs, though:

Here's a closer look at Neveah's right eye.  There's some nice iris detail in that dark brown shade:

Ilyssa makes a pretty good mini-me for Neveah, especially when she's redressed in a short pink dress:

Notice how green Ilyssa's vinyl looks in comparison, though.
That brings me to Suyin, the doll who made an appearance in Eliza's review:


I agree that Suyin is not as endearing as she seemed in her promotional pictures.  There's something about her expression that's not what I expected.  However, she's not a bad doll.

Her hair is a little too long, and comes with crimps from the rubber bands that held it in place.  The hair fiber also has a synthetic tackiness and lacks the fluidity of Eliza's lovely wig.  However, the hair is smooth and shiny and feels nice to the touch.

The hair is parted on the left, and so it tends to fall into Suyin's face.  I like it best when the thicker hair on the right is pulled back with a small clip:

Suyin's outfit looks great.  I like the combination of her simple grey knit dress with the fleece-lined pink suede jacket.  The jacket has a working plastic zipper and is partially lined:

The only problem with the jacket is that--like Ilyssa's vest--the fabric is very thin and wrinkles easily.

The underlying dress is sleeveless, with arm and neck holes that are lined with white netting...that tends to stick out:

I have no idea why Suyin's shoes are pastel blue.  They don't match anything else in the outfit.

Suyin has a different face mold than Neveah, but the two are very similar.


May Lee is a good mini doll for Suyin, although she'd be even better with no bangs and shorter hair:

The last large Our Generation doll I bought is the flexible Nahla:


She has a wire armature in her arms and legs that makes her more posable than the regular Our Generation girls.

Nahla has an interesting combination of hazel green eyes, dark skin, and curly dark brown hair:

Her jumpsuit outfit is a little ridiculous (it might work for a three-year-old) and I can't say I like the neon orange accents.

However, Nahla comes with a variety of gardening accessories, including these awesome little pink Croc-style sandals!

I don't know if kids still wear Crocs and decorate them with plastic charms, but I clearly remember the days when my kids were captivated by this trend.

Nahla's hair is side-parted and comes tied in two low ponytails.  She has an ugly vinyl bow on the right side of her head:

She has a face mold that's distinct from Neveah and Suyin.

Her green-grey irises are pretty, but they're very small and make her look constantly surprised:

No!  Not the hairbrush!
Here's a closer look at one of the decals:

I like Nahla's hair quite a lot.  She has natural-looking curls that--don't worry--I didn't brush.  When I let her ponytails down, I just used my fingers to smooth the hair:

I like the flexibility of this armatured body (especially in the arms)...

...but after I left Nahla in a sitting position for a few weeks, I had a hard time getting her to stand up straight.  The vinyl in her legs was kinked from being in a bent position (it's still kinked, for that matter), and as a result I haven't been able to get her legs to be completely straight again.

It's a hard call who I like best out of my three new Our Generation girls.  Neveah's overwhelming hair and purple lips are her weaknesses, and Nahla's babyish outfit, startled expression, and weird armature put her at a disadvantage.  That means that Suyin, although not as good as I hoped she would be, is probably the best of this trio.

Now--finally!--we get to the heart of the review.  The Our Generation science set!  It comes attractively packaged in a bright pink cardboard box with a molded plastic cover: 

Our Generation Science Lab set, $29.99.
The back of the box is bright orange with a large pink text box, a smaller orange text box, and two photographs of the set:

Here's a closer look at the text on the back--it's not always the same:

What did the polar bears do wrong?
The smaller orange text box has a list of contents:

I hope it's not actually a functioning Bunsen burner...
They chose one of my favorite dolls (Sia, the redheaded scientist!) to show off the set:

I think Battat should have given the skeleton the same proportions as the doll--namely, a much larger head.  That would have been more entertaining.

All of the items in this set come attached to a bright orange backdrop that slides out of the main box:

The plastic shell has a few cardboard decorations that advertise a microscope with working light and lens:

And a Bunsen burner that lights up!

Ah.  It's a functional light.
It's a little tricky to get the plastic shell separated from the cardboard.  I used my heavy kitchen scissors to cut around the edges and pry it out.  Once the shell is separated from the cardboard, the two sides open and all of the pieces tumble free.

Here's everything in the set:

Everything in the Science Lab set.
The plastic skeleton comes with its own stand:

The skeleton has holes in both of its feet and a peg on the top of its head, but neither of these things is  necessary for using the stand.

Superfluous holes.
Instead, the stand works simply because the pole inserts directly into a small hole under the skeleton's pelvis.

The stand doesn't hold the skeleton very straight.  It tends to lean backwards:

The skeleton has five points of articulation (limbs and jaw) and the backbone is made out of slightly bendable vinyl so there's a bit of movement in that area, too.

Some of the molded details are a little strange--like the clavicles (collar bones) that bow upwards:


Here's a comparison picture:

The shoulder blades or scapulae also look odd to me:

The worst problems are in the face, though.  The teeth are made from a separate piece of plastic, and so there's an illusion of gums.  Skeletons shouldn't have gums.

Also, the skeleton has a very porcine snout:

The jaw comes rubber-banded together, but when the band is removed, the mouth hangs open all of the time:

It's laughing at me.
That's actually what a real skull would do, but it's still unnerving.

The limbs (especially the arms) fall out very easily...

...which is no surprise since they're attached to the body with short, smooth pegs:

Basically, the skeleton seems cheap--especially after spending time with the delightful and well-constructed Pose Skeletons:

Our Generation skeleton with a Pose Skeleton.
The other large item in this set is the white lab table.  Many of the smaller accessories come packaged on top of this table:

The table has four wheels with silver swivel-mounts:

The table itself is plain plastic and feels lightweight and a little fragile, but the wheels are great--and fully-functional.  They actually roll and swivel:

Here are all of the smaller items that were displayed on the table:

I'll look at these one at a time.  

First, here's the Bunsen burner and its boiling flask:

The flask has some green plastic "liquid" inside, and fits nicely on top of the burner:

The button on the bottom of the burner causes the light to illuminate:

It's a blue light, too, which looks convincingly like a gas flame.  The light stays on until the button is pressed again.  Here's a picture in lower lighting:

There's also a 250ml beaker with a cylinder of blue plastic inside:

The blue cylinder does not come out.  It looks more convincing as a liquid from the side than it does from the top:

There's an Erlenmeyer flask with pink "liquid:"

The pink plastic piece moves around a little inside of the flask:

There's a small plastic measuring cup:

And two vials of pretend dye and vinegar, accompanied by a pink-bulbed pipette:

The pipette does not work.  It's all solid plastic:

The little vials are great.  Their labels are not adhered very carefully, but I like how the level of liquid is different in each bottle.  Here's the vinegar:

And here's the neon orange dye:

There's also a bottle of baking soda.  I think maybe a volcano experiment is being planned here...

One of the Project Mc2 dolls (Adrienne, I believe) comes with a simple baking soda and vinegar volcano experiment.  But no!  I must resist.  I am not buying another Project Mc2 doll!

The baking soda bottle does not open, but the baking soda has a realistic molded texture:

The set also includes three test tubes and a rack:

These are not very well made.  

The yellow tube, in particular, is a mess.  Notice how the yellow plastic is positioned too close to the top of the tube, so it's been fused to the stopper:

This seems to have caused some melting of the yellow plastic and some cracking in the sides of the tube:

The blue tube shows how these should look:

There are still little cracks in the tube, though.
The test tubes and rack might look familiar to you. This is because they're similar to the tubes and rack included in the American Girl science set that I reviewed several years ago:

American Girl test tubes (left) and Our Generation test tubes (right).
The American Girl set costs $36.  It has a few pieces in common with the Our Generation set (the test tubes, the text book, the apron, and the microscope) all of which are of higher quality.

The Our Generation set came with a molecule model that's made out of vinyl:

There's some white residue on a few of the balls, and some minor paint defects throughout:

My bigger problem with this molecule is that I don't think it represents a real molecule.  It's in the shape of a simple hydrocarbon called butane.  That name might sound familiar because it's a popular kind of fuel for lighters and torches.

However, hydrocarbons are made out of only hydrogen and carbon, so there should only be two kinds of atom (or two colors of ball) in the model, like this:

I guess that wasn't colorful enough.

Speaking of hydrocarbons, there's a miniature (cardboard) Periodic Table of the Elements, so kids can actually look up hydrogen and carbon if they want:

The set also comes with a pen and a pencil:

The pencil does not work, but it looks very realistic:

The pen reminds me of a Sharpie.  It doesn't work, either...

...but the lid does come off!

I wish they'd put a dab of red paint on the tip of the pen.  I can easily add that myself, though...with red Sharpie!

The set has some nice-looking yellow safety glasses:

And these fit the dolls very well.  Here's Nahla modeling them:

I was very excited about the set's three books because for some reason I am obsessed with miniature books (always have been)...especially if they have real text inside!

The composition notebooks are wonderful little replicas:

Why are Science and Chemistry different subjects, though?
And they have perfect little lined pages:

The pages are bound poorly, though, and the spine on this notebook broke the moment I opened it:

I was most excited about the physics textbook.  It doesn't have a very exciting cover...

Way to grab a person's attention, physics.
But the sides of the pages have a color tint to them, a good indication that there's text (or pictures) inside:

Sadly, the whole book is just blank blue pages.  Major disappointment:

You'll remember that the American Girl science textbook had legible words and illustrations.  It even made some sense.

While we're on the topic of the American Girl set again, let's compare the two microscopes.  Here's the Our Generation scope:


It has a small on/off switch on the stage:

This controls a tiny light in the middle:

The eyepiece also moves up and down when the silver knob is turned:

The box advertises this microscope as having a working lens, too, so I investigated further.  

A real microscope has multiple lenses--one in the eyepiece and an assortment of objective lenses closer to the stage that can be used to zoom in and out on the specimen.  

This microscope has an eyepiece lens in the sense that it's possible to look into the eyepiece and see light.  It also has three pretend objective lenses:

Objective lenses.
I had a hard time getting these to move, but they actually do rotate around.  It doesn't make any difference which one is aligned with the eyepiece, though, since none of them actually have real magnifying lenses.

The set does not come with any slides, so I made my own by sandwiching a tiny flower in between layers of clear packing tape:

My homemade microscope slide.
The light under the stage is powerful enough to shine through parts of this flower:

This was hard to photograph.  Mostly you just see lots of my fingerprints on the tape!

Looking through the eyepiece is pretty unrewarding.  I was not able to see anything but a slightly colored blur:

However, looking at the flower on the stage without using the eyepiece at all is pretty neat.  I was finally able to adjust my camera's light sensitivity so that you can appreciate what I was seeing in real life:

Not bad!  I like it when a toy offers some reward for an external project--like making slides.  I would have had fun making mini slides for this scope with my own kids when they were younger.

Here's the Our Generation microscope next to the American Girl microscope:

Our Generation microscope (left) and American Girl microscope (right).
The American Girl microscope feels more substantial and the parts are less wobbly and fragile.  Also, the American Girl scope uses a small mirror instead of a light, so it doesn't rely on batteries.

Best of all, the American Girl microscope came with mini slides...

American Girl microscope and slides.
That can actually be viewed through the eyepiece:

The last thing that came with the Our Generation Science Lab set is this blue apron and mittens:

Both are made out of a slightly shiny, crinkly polyester (?) fabric.  The apron attaches around the neck with velcro and ties at the waist.

That's everything that came in the Science Lab set, but Target has a few smaller science-themed sets for sale, too.  I wanted to quickly see what they can add to my growing lab.

The first one is called Lab Class:

Our Generation Lab Class set.
The packaging is a miniature version of the Science Lab set.  It has slightly different text on the back, though:

Here's everything in this set:

The safety glasses, the measuring cup, and the pipette are all differently-colored duplicates from the Science Lab set.  The vinegar, dye and baking soda are exact copies:

All of the repeats.
These are the new items:

A volcano and a bottle of detergent.
The bottle of detergent is fun.  I'm not sure what it's for (cleaning up the lab?) but I like the shape of the bottle and the bubbles of fake green liquid at the top:

The volcano looks pretty cool, too...


And pushing the button on the base causes the red lava to illuminate:

Here's another shot with darker lighting:

I think these sets cost around $6-7, though, so if you already have the Science Lab set, it's probably not worth $7 to get a volcano and a bottle of detergent.

The second small set is more biology-themed.  It's called Life Science:

Our Generation Life Science set.
This set includes a book, a poster, an anatomy model, and another (differently-colored but still incorrect) butane model:

After seeing the physics textbook, I had pretty low expectations for this small biology book.  The cover is in French on one side:

And in English on the other side:

And, not surprisingly, all of the pages are blank:

Also, once again, the book is poorly bound, so the spine is already coming apart:

The poster is made out of frosted clear plastic, so I guess it's more of an overhead projector transparency?  Does anybody use those anymore?  

The transparency shows the silhouette of a girl with all of her organs leaping out.  What's worse, the organs seem happy about this exodus:

Traitorous innards.
I think the picture might work with the x-ray viewer that comes with the veterinarian set?  That's the only explanation I can think of for the transparency.

The highlight of this set is the little cut-away torso model:

Several of the pieces are removable, starting with the ribcage:

Underneath the ribs, the heart, lungs, liver, stomach and intestines are all visible:

The lungs slide out...

...which gives a clearer version of the heart, complete with the great vessels (the aorta and superior vena cava) coming out at the top:

I think the dark red around the heart is supposed to be more lungs?  That's a little confusing.

The liver comes out to reveal a very flat-looking stomach:

There's no diaphragm, and the stomach doesn't really look like it connects to an esophagus, but I'll try not to be too picky.  It's a fun little model.

Everything fits back together nicely and the ribcage holds it all in place:

This set does offer some nice additions to the Science Lab set, and I think the torso model makes it worth the price.  

There's a third small science set called Under the Microscope that includes glasses, a microscope, a flask, and the test tube rack--all repeats from the Science Lab set.

I wanted Nahla to model some of the pieces from these science sets, but she was having a really hard time standing up straight, and she also looks really large and uncomfortable:

Is it going to explode on me?!
In fact, this is something that bothers me about many of the 18-inch doll accessories on the market: the dolls are too big...or the accessories are too small.  Very few things are scaled correctly for the odd proportions of 18-inch play dolls.

I set out to find a doll who's well-suited to this science lab.  

I figured a good starting point might be to look at the skeleton and see which of my dolls have similar proportions:

First, I tried my WellieWisher, Kendall.  The WellieWishers are shorter and more slender than the Our Generation crew:

Our Generation skeleton with WellieWisher Kendall.
Kendall is still too big, though.

Next, I went much smaller and tried a Made to Movie Barbie:

Our Generation skeleton with Made to Move Barbie.
That's not a bad match, actually.  The skeleton has larger chest area and is a bit taller than Barbie, so I tried Ken next:

Our Generation skeleton with Texas A&M Ken.
That's a really good match.

Other Ken-sized dolls are good, too, like Multiverse Wonder Woman:

Our Generation skeleton with Multiverse Wonder Woman.
The discontinued Moxie Teenz are a good match, too, except for their huge heads:

Our Generation skeleton with Moxie Teenz Bijou.
My Moxie Teenz Melrose (wearing a Liv wig) wanted to try out the Science Lab set:

The table is a good height for her, but some of the accessories (like the pen and pencil) are too bulky:

I think the lava experiment is Melrose's favorite!

The science accessories might work well with Melrose, but because the Moxie Teenz are discontinued and hard to find, this is not a very helpful suggestion.  

I searched around for other dolls who are similar in size to Melrose, but there aren't many.  There's my Endless Hair Kingdom doll, but she's a little tall:

And she's not dressed for the lab.
Then it struck me.  The Maru and Friends Mini Pals!  Why did it take me so long to think of them?  They're the right height, and because they're proportioned like children--not adults like Barbie or Melrose--the bulkier Our Generation accessories might be more in scale!  Let's take a look!

Here's Chad meeting the skeleton:

Our Generation skeleton with Mini Pal Chad.
If I ignore the head size difference, these two are a pretty good match.

And the lab table is a perfect size for Chad!

He was mesmerized by that Bunsen burner's blue light:


Chad seems to be a natural chemist.  He immediately got to work trying to figure out what that mystery molecule is supposed to be!

He also wanted to try out the microscope:

Notice how the straight up-and-down shape of this scope makes it hard for Chad to look through the eyepiece, though:

The American Girl microscope is better positioned...and looks really perfect with Chad:

Another happy discovery I made is that the blue lab apron actually fits Chad pretty well.  I just had to tie the straps behind his neck instead of using the velcro:

It's amazing how much more fun I started having with these science accessories once I realized that they work so well with the Mini Pals!

In fact, Chad was having so much fun that some of the other Mini Pals started to get jealous.  I did a survey of my five girls and decided that Halle--a newcomer--was dressed most appropriately for the lab:

Mini Pals Chad and Halle.
Incidentally, there's already another new Mini Pal (Jamie!) up for preorder on the Maru and Friends website.  She looks amazing and reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.

Halle comes wearing a knitted white cape over a simple long-sleeved tee.  Her pants have a leopard print and are worn with grey sueded boots.


Here's the outfit with the cape removed:

Halle's body is a little different from the other Mini Pals I own.  Her vinyl is harder.  It's not completely rigid, but it's less pliable than Savannah, Maru, Tanya, and Chad's vinyl.  It does not make a huge difference.

Halle has short curly hair with dark brown eyes and rosy cheeks:

She's gorgeous:

Toy Box Philosopher

More importantly, she was very eager to learn about science!

She was not thrilled to discover that there's nothing written in the books, though.

So, instead of reading, she grabbed a notebook and headed for the lab!

Halle discovered that she has a real knack for biology: 


...particularly for anatomy (a child after my own heart!):

But of course nobody can resist testing out that volcano!

Bottom line?  I talked about a lot of different things in this review, but I'll stay focused on the $30 Our Generation Science Lab set and the two smaller science-themed accessories--Lab Class and Life Science.  

In the large set, there are some real treats and a few disappointments.  Here's a summary:

The skeleton is the biggest disappointment.  It's only minimally articulated, the mouth hangs open, and the limbs fall off way too easily.  The construction is also cheap, and so the skull looks funny and some of the bones are warped.  The whole thing has a greenish tinge.  The stand is also flimsy, and while it's easy to use, it doesn't do a very good job of holding the skeleton up straight.

The books look wonderful--especially the super-realistic composition notebooks.  However, the physics textbook does not have anything written on the pages, and all three books have weak bindings.

The molecular model is a great idea, I just wish that it represented an actual molecule--and came with an explanation.  Missed learning opportunities always bug me.

The test tubes are another disappointment.  I received one badly damaged tube, and even the normal tubes have small cracks and imperfections.

On a more positive note...

I like the microscope.  It's not quite as fun as the American Girl microscope, but it has some moving parts and it's actually possible to illuminate a specimen with the small light.  I'll confess that my initial reaction to the microscope was disappointment, but after I figured out how to move the objective lenses and I started to make my own packing tape slides, I changed my mind.

The Bunsen burner and flask are great, too.  I love the little blue light on the burner--it looks very realistic.  In fact, all of the little containers--flasks, beakers, vials--are great.  They're nicely reproduced and make the lab set-up colorful and interesting to look at.

The table is also nice.  It feels lightweight and a little fragile, but the working wheels are fun and it's a great way to display and play with all of the small accessories.

The clothing is a mixed bag: the mittens are pretty silly, but the blue lab apron and safety glasses are well-made and practical.  They teach good lab habits, too!  I liked the apron even more after I realized I could use it for my Mini Pals.

Of the two smaller sets I looked at, the biology-themed Life Science collection has the least in common with the large Science Lab set.  The book and transparency in the Life Science set are lame, but the anatomy model might be worth it.  The volcano and detergent bottle are the only things in the Lab Class set that make it distinct from the larger set. While the volcano is certainly not worth the full price of the set, its light-up feature is fun and it's nice to have a volcano to go with the baking soda, vinegar, and dye.

For me, the best part of these accessories is that they go so well with the Maru and Friends Mini Pals.  With the holiday season upon us, I think a wonderful gift would be a Mini Pal doll with some of the reasonably-priced Our Generation accessories to go with her (or him!).  With that in mind, watch for a follow-up review in the next week or so where I'll look at a few more Our Generation extras to see which ones my beloved (and spoiled!) Mini Pals like best.


  1. I had seen the lab kit and wondered about the possibility of using it with 1:6 dolls. The Maru and friends dolls seem super well-suited to it, though!

  2. Halle is so pretty! Somehow I don't remember coming across any Our Generation tiny dolls or sets - they're sweet.

  3. My mini science set looks different and seems to be in better condition but that might luck of the draw, for example my microscope is blue and can be tilted back and forth a little bit, but I live in Australia.

  4. I am surprised you managed to find these in stores. I keep looking for the small accessory sets (which aren't sold online) but I only saw one in the store once, and it was on the other side of the state. The other problem with the OG accessories (and, frankly, American Girl, anymore) is what you pointed out: everything is too small. It's nice to see how perfectly everything fits the Mini Pals. Suddenly a whole new world of awesome toys (they also have a set with tools and a little birdhouse, my personal fave) is open to a line that doesn't really have any accessories.

    Nahla's facemold is left over from when Battat's 18" doll line was Collector's Lane. If you have a mini Vanessa to go with your mini Rachel, I bet she'd be a perfect mini-me for Nahla.

    The gloves remind me of the giant blue dishgloves I had to use whenever working with HF in my lab, or the big unwieldy mitts we use for taking things out of this very hot oven. It's too bad the textbooks are blank. I've managed to collect all (well, most... I haven't got the readers from the 1800s girls, just because they're so hard to come by) of the American Girl textbooks, and they're some of my favorite toys. When I was a kid I even made a paper-bag book cover for mine that matched the ones we had to make for our real-life textbooks.

    In conclusion, thank you sooooo much for answering my questions AGAIN! I am delighted and so happy that my comment inspired you. I think I've read every post in the blog, and I'm always checking to see when you put something new, so it's great to have done a teensy thing to help, albeit inadvertantly.

  5. Hi! I love your blog!
    Have you ever heard of Club Hello Kitty dolls? I think you may like them.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I have the smaller science sets from last year but haven't found the big lab set yet. Can't wait to get it. The American Girl set looks good but it's been out of production for a few years and it's pricey on eBay. I do have the AG telescope, which is nice and comes with little "slides" to cover the lens so you can look through it. I heard that there will be more science stuff next year, too... Hint: space! I hope the AG stuff inspires more science toys from Our Generation. The quality isn't always the same as American Girl but the prices are more affordable and they come with a lot more pieces.

  7. All dolls with Nahla's face mould have the eye issue, and it's not too-small irises, it's too-large eye sockets. The Collector's Lane dolls have the same problem. And the full size May Lee face mould has a similar issue - eye sockets which are too tall and so the expression is wrong. You would think OG would have figured it out by now.

    Nevaeh and Suyin (as the more recent African and Asian OG face moulds) are an improvement, I think, although I agree that Suyin is not as pretty as in her promotional photos. I have not seen either in UK toy shops (there are basically two importers/distributors, Smyths, the national chain like Toys R Us, and John Crane, selling wholesale only to indie toy shops; neither has the full OG range) but hopefully as both moulds get used more they will start to show up.

  8. How does the table measure against a Barbie? Is it too oversized?

  9. Ohhh, I'm glad there's more than one science kit, actually! When I was a kid, I think the only science things I saw were whatever came packaged with veterinarian Barbie or scientist Barbie, not extra kits with more things.

    Overhead projectors are totally still used. I graduated college two years ago, and we were still using them. Not everyday, but they're useful for things where a teacher/professor wants to show how to do something in real time with students' input, versus just one way of doing it. Granted, I think we got more use of them in the social sciences department than they did in biology.

  10. I really love your Maru and friends collection, all they are so adorable!

  11. Thanks so much for reviewing the Fingerlings Emily, I knew you'd be impartial.:D
    I'm so glad the science sets suit the Mini Pals, they're the same size as the Corolle Chéries I've given as gifts over the years so they'll be interesting accessories for them. I'd bought a OG salon set at Target a few years ago and it also seemed more in scale with 13 inch dolls than the 18 inch ones it designed for. It's the same problem with Barbie's Mattel furniture and playsets being better suited for Skipper. I suppose Mattel's loss is Gloria playsets gain but it's a pretty odd problem.
    I'm a bit disappointed that the equipment ends up looking more like set props. They could have at least made them like those baby doll bottles that seem to pour empty when you tip them on their sides.If they weren't going to write in the books anyways, why not make them solid plastic? it's a bit of a waste of paper.
    Still, I do think they're lovely and since a child probably has similar, working, science toys,or can get them, having these around will encourage them to use those.
    Thanks for these reviews and all the others. It's a delight to see and read your posts. Happy Holidays to you and your loves ones!