Thursday, February 24, 2022

I'm a Girly Doll

I'm a Girly is a Swiss doll company that launched in 2017 and expanded into the United States market in 2020.  The dolls seem to have been (still are?) quite popular in Europe, but didn't make as much of a splash here--perhaps because they occupy the same niche as American Girl.  The mission of the company is to produce "sustainability with style" by using top-quality materials and as little waste as possible.  That's certainly a mission that I can get behind, although nothing specific about the realization of this goal is mentioned on the website--beyond the fact that the cardboard packaging can be reused or recycled.  

The thing I find most unique and interesting about the I'm a Girly brand is that the design of the dolls is overseen by a group of children, the Kids4Kids team.  These boys and girls (ages 9 to 13) were instrumental in tweaking and perfecting the first prototypes, and continue to be involved in designing and testing the dolls' accessories and clothing.  Specific items of I'm a Girly clothing can be attributed to specific young designers or design teams, and I can't imagine anything more exciting or empowering for a child!  What a great idea.

I happened upon this brand only by chance.  I was browsing the Target website, looking at some of the ILY 4ever Disney dolls, and the thumbnail of an I'm a Girly character popped onto my screen.  I was captivated by the doll, but her $80 price was high enough to give me pause.  I continued my search on Amazon, where I found several of the dolls being offered for under $20.  That seemed way too good to be true, but I took a chance and ordered the least expensive character, Lucy, who at the time was $9.92 (with free shipping).

I'm a Girly doll, Lucy, MSRP $79.99, on sale for $9.92.

Another interesting and unique feature of the I'm a Girly dolls is that they have interchangeable wigs.   In their advertising, the company mentions that the wigs can be styled and even cut--and then you can just buy a new wig whenever you want and start again.  Unfortunately, I was only able to find two replacement wigs options here in the United States.  Both of them cost $19.99, one was on sale for $13.

The extra wigs in this line made shopping for the dolls a little confusing.  Some of the listings on Amazon show a photo of a doll alongside a $79.99 price that's been crossed out, with the sale price written in:

It's pretty clear in that listing that the price is for a doll, and she's been heavily discounted.

But other listings (like the one where I found Lucy) show the original price as being something stupid-low like $12.20, which simply isn't the MSRP for the doll in the photo:

That discrepancy made me feel almost certain that Amazon's advertising about this doll was mixed up and that for $9.92 I was going to get an I'm a Girly replacement wig, not the whole doll.  Honestly, that would have made a lot more sense than the doll costing $9.92.

However, two days after I placed my order, I got Lucy herself in the mail!  She arrived in a brown shipper that contained a large cardboard window box:


The glare is a bit less distracting in this picture:


This box was large and heavy and it immediately struck me that I wouldn't even be able to ship a doll like this to somewhere else in my same state for as little as $9.92.  The price is absolutely stunning.

The front of the box displays Lucy's name prominently and also shows a few small photographs of the wig-changing process:


The sides of the box are covered with text and photos that I'll show you in more detail:


One side lists some of the points I've talked about, including the Kids4Kids design team, the sustainability mission, and the interchangeable wigs:


Apparently some of the replacement wigs are extra-long, like the one shown in this picture:


A wig like that would have been a fun product to include in this review, but I couldn't find it anywhere.

The other side of the box has a picture of the Kids4Kids design team:


There's also a description of how the cardboard box can be turned into a wardrobe to store the doll's clothes:


The back of the box has a lovely pastel rainbow design and is covered with colorful pictures:


The top photo shows all of the available dolls:

From left: Lola, Jasmine, Robyn, Mia, Lucy, Zoe, and Kayla.
Jasmine is the one who caught my attention on the Target website.  I find the combination of her soft hair and sharp features unusual and fascinating:


Jasmine isn't listed on Amazon, unfortunately.

Other photos show some of the additional outfits and accessories that are available:

I love the tie-dyed dress!
But, again, I wasn't able to find any of these outfits for sale here in the United States.

Some of the clothing, like the unicorn pajamas (love!) and the striped tee shirt, are available at Target:


The bottom of the box has some pictures of children "playing" with the dolls:

If we pull her apart, will our wish come true?
Or just posing dramatically with the dolls:

Dial back the smolder, kids. This isn't the cover of Vogue.
One thing that the box does not show is the other products in the I'm a Girly company's lineup.  

I'm a Girly also sells styling heads (called I'm a Stylist) and 14-inch dolls called I'm a Wow.  Here's an example:

I'm a Wow Chloe doll, $34.99.
The I'm a Wow dolls are basically miniatures of the I'm a Girly molds, but with rooted hair instead of wigs.  I purchased one of the I'm a Wow dolls out of curiosity, but I wanted to keep this review focused on Lucy as much as possible.  I would be happy to review an I'm a Wow doll in the future if there's any interest.  

Lucy was attached to a pink cardboard backdrop via large cable ties at her ankles and neck.  The ties were padded with foam.  The top cable tie had pulled out of the cardboard and so Lucy was flopping around in her box.


She was very easy to remove from the backdrop.

Her hair was secured with a black hairnet and tied back into a ponytail:   



I let the hair down and brushed it out.  It's a very pretty, natural brown color with highlights:


Lucy has a friendly face with features that are more angular and realistic than most 18-inch dolls:


Her face reminds me most of a Karito Kid, although I slightly prefer those faces.

You can see the shape of her face a bit better when her hair is clipped back:


In profile, Lucy has a straight nose (not a little ski-jump nose, for once) and some exaggerated depressions under her eyes: 


I'm not crazy about Lucy's lip mold.  I think her lower lip protrudes a bit too much, especially for her smiling expression:


She looks like her jaw is jutting out in defiance or something.

If Lucy's hair is pulled back, you can also see that she has an awkward jawline.  The width of her head continues too far past the molded jaw:

Or maybe her neck is just too thin?
Her ears are pieced, though, which is a nice detail!  I wish I had some earrings on hand for her to wear.

Lucy's eyes are inset acrylic and they do not open or close.  They're a yellow-ish brown color that almost matches her hair:


There's interesting detail in the irises of these eyes, but the color isn't very realistic.

Lucy has painted eyelashes on the top and the bottom of her eyes, and she also has applied lashes on the top.  Her eyebrows are a series of simple lines painted in a reddish-brown color that doesn't match her eyelashes or her wig:


Lucy's wig is made out of Kanekalon fiber, so it's soft and has some shine:


There was a lot of shedding hair when I first started to manipulate this wig, but it has gotten considerably better over the past week.

Overall, this wig is great, but it doesn't feel quite as soft or silky to me as some of the custom wigs that are available right now.  There's a tiny bit of synthetic coarseness.

The wig is designed differently from the wigs that I'm accustomed to.  There's a layer of hair that falls straight down around the hairline, but above that there's a thick band of fabric mesh:


Here's a closer look:


This band is part of the mechanism that allows the wig to be tightened into place.  I can see why it's necessary, but it might make the wig less desirable for anyone who was thinking of using it on an American Girl or similar doll.

At the back of the head, you can see more of the black mesh band, and also two pieces of string that hang down over the neck.  These strings are meant to be loosened or tightened during wig removal and replacement:


I'll talk a bit more about the wig changing process later in the review.

Most of Lucy's wig is densely-sewn, and so her hair can be gently parted in back without exposing the wig cap:


While I'm on the topic of hair, let me show you an example of one of the I'm a Stylist heads:


I assume the wigs on these heads are of similar quality to the doll wigs, which is to say they're quite nice and would be fun to brush and play with.  Also, because the wigs are replaceable, there's a lot of potential for hairstyling (and hair cutting!) experimentation.  Apparently the heads can even tolerate real makeup application.  The I'm a Stylist heads originally cost $89.99 and are now usually on sale for closer to $65.

I find the styling heads appealing (I never had one as a kid), but let's stay focused on Lucy.

Lucy came wearing a three-piece outfit that consists of an imitation leather jacket, a sea green skirt, and a matching long-sleeved tee:


The jacket has some nice metal details.  For example, the belt at the waistline has a working metal buckle:


The zipper in front works smoothly and feels heavy and durable:


There are even zippered pockets on either side of the jacket.  The zippers themselves work smoothly:


But the pocket is not actually a pocket.  The zipper simply opens to reveal a hole through the jacket.  It looks convincing, though:


The jacket's cuffs come folded up to reveal a peek of color from the shirt, but they can be folded down, too:


There are even little metal snap decorations on the corners of the jacket's collar:


The jacket is finished nicely on the inside, too.  It helps that the back side of the imitation leather fabric has a soft, fleecy feel:


The jacket fabric is supple and soft, so it's easy to take off and put back on again.  Also, Lucy can move her arms without any trouble when she's dressed--something that's not always true of imitation leather clothing.

I've seen some imitation leather doll clothing age poorly over the years--much the same way that imitation leather furniture ages poorly (especially after being licked by dogs...).  But for now, at least, this jacket looks really good.


I'd say that this jacket is worth the $10 I paid for Lucy all on its own. The most similar item that I could find at the American Girl store is Makena's jacket from her accessory set.  This set costs $35 (but also includes a purple purse and a notebook):


Underneath the jacket, Lucy is a wash of seafoam green:


She's wearing a long-sleeved jersey knit top and a short skirt with a tulle overlay:


Both pieces close in the back with velcro:


The velcro has to be handled carefully or it will snag the tulle on the skirt.

Both pieces are made very well.  Aside from the velcro closure, the construction is what I would expect from real children's clothing.


You can see how all of the seams are serged and neat:


Lucy is also wearing little canvas sneakers that match her skirt and shirt:


These shoes are super-cute, feel well-constructed, and look like they might fit American Girl dolls:


Speaking of American Girl dolls, I don't actually own one anymore!  Yikes.  I might have to remedy that, especially with the temptation of the current Girl of the Year, Corinne.

I was curious to know how the I'm a Girly body compares to an American Girl body, though.  If clothes-sharing is an option between these two brands, that would impact Lucy's value.  In addition, there are very few I'm a Girly outfit sets available in this country anymore, so the size of Lucy's wardrobe will depend on how well she can share with other brands.

At first glance, Lucy looks quite different from an American Girl.  Her body is made entirely out of vinyl, and she has a slimmer torso than American Girl, Our Generation, My Twinn, and other standard 18-inch dolls:


I find it interesting that the I'm a Girly company boasts "realistic proportions" in their dolls.   It's a nice doll body, sure, but realism is not what leaps to mind when I look at it.  I found this mannequin of a nine-year-old to use as a rough idea of a real child's body:


Compared to this mannequin, Lucy's head is really large (although not by the current doll market standards!) and her limbs are very thick and short.  It's like a toddler body with an older child's head.

Anyway, I still have my custom 18-inch My Twinn doll, Annie, who has the same body as an American Girl, so I was able to use her for comparison:

I'm a Girly doll next to an 18-inch My Twinn.
Lucy is slightly taller than Annie, and she definitely has a slimmer torso.  The arms and legs of these two dolls look incredibly similar, though.


In fact, the two girls have identical hand molds:

I'm a Girly hand (left) and 18-inch My Twinn hand (right).
I'm a Girly hand (left) and 18-inch My Twinn hand (right).
Notice that Lucy's fingernails are manicured, with a touch of gloss and little white tips:


Lucy and Annie have seemingly identical feet, too, which is good news for shoe-sharing:


There is definitely some clothes-sharing potential between Lucy and Annie, but it's not universal.  Annie can squeeze into Lucy's long-sleeved tee, but the skirt is way too tight:

18-inch My Twinn wearing I'm a Girly.
18-inch My Twinn wearing I'm a Girly.
The leather jacket fits Annie with ease:

18-inch My Twinn wearing I'm a Girly.
18-inch My Twinn wearing I'm a Girly.
And the shoes are perfect:


I don't have any 18-inch My Twinn clothing, but Annie likes to wear Our Generation clothing, so I was able to try that on Lucy:

I'm a Girly Lucy wearing Our Generation.
The jacket and dress from this outfit work well on Lucy, but the vinyl shoes were way too tight.

Here's Lucy in just the dress and the leggings:

I'm a Girly Lucy wearing Our Generation.
The leggings look fine, but--as you would expect--they're very loose at the waist:

I'm a Girly Lucy wearing Our Generation.
Since I've recently gotten interested in Geppeddo's My Way Kids, I was curious to see if Lucy's clothing would fit these dolls.  Here's Brie modeling Lucy's shirt and skirt:


The clothing fits, but the shirt does not conceal Brie's awkward neck joint, and the skirt isn't long enough to cover the fabric on her legs:


Lucy has a fairly standard vinyl play doll body, but let's go back and take a closer look at it:


She has five points of elastic-strung articulation (neck, shoulders, and hips).

Her arms can't lift straight up very far:


But they spin all of the way around for a lot more options:


She can't slide into side-to-side splits very well:


But her front-to-back splits are excellent:


She can also sit on the ground:


Lucy's posing options feel limited to me.  In theory she shouldn't feel any less articulated than an American Girl or equivalent.  In fact, her elastic-strung head is more mobile and expressive than an American Girl's head.  But somehow the limbs feel more stiff.

I quickly compared the limb maneuverability between Annie and Lucy, just to see if there was something I was missing.  Annie can lift her hand out and up to the side very easily:


But Lucy can also do this, even if the movement is stiff:


Annie's legs can be maneuvered into full side-to-side splits:


But so can Lucy's:


I think in the end it's just that Annie feels more flexible because she has a soft torso, and also because her limbs are not strung very tightly.  The loose stringing has a downside, too, because Annie can barely stand on her own.  Lucy is quite solid on her feet. 

Here's a quick look at Lucy without her underwear:


I've seen this butt before, but I can't place it:

I've seen you, too, Emily.
I wish I still had one of my slim 18-inch dolls, like A Girl For All Time, Carpetina, or Kidz 'n' Cats.  It would be interesting to see how Lucy's torso proportions compare to those dolls.  From my memory, I'd say she's most similar to Carpetina.  But all of those slim dolls are shorter than Lucy.

Here's Lucy back in her skirt and top:


Throughout all of the manipulations so far in this review, Lucy's wig held tight to her head.  I was flipping her around, dressing her, combing her hair, clipping her hair, etc., and the wig didn't budge.  That was extremely encouraging.

If it weren't for the static in my basement, this wig would behave beautifully.


I was curious to see how the wig was held in place and how easy it would be to change, though.


I flipped Lucy over and inspected the little black ties at the back of her head:


These ties came secured into a double knot.  It was tricky to undo the knot, especially because of all the hair in that area.  I finally got the knot untied, though, and was able to loosen the wig:


The ties are designed to tighten the wig into a groove that runs all of the way around Lucy's head:


The groove is quite wide and deep:



The wig had been concealing some marks on the back of Lucy's head, including identifying marks on the upper scalp and the I'm a Girly logo on the neck:


The inside of this wig is atypical in that the wig cap is not visible.  Instead, there's a layer of pale mesh lining the cap:


My curiosity demanded that I remove the mesh.  

Underneath, there's a black wig cap.  It's much easier to see the wig tightening mechanism with the mesh layer gone:


There's a band of black fabric with a long black string running through it--like the waistband of sweatpants.  If the black band is positioned in the groove of Lucy's head, the strings can be tightened down to hold the wig securely.

I had actually played around with Lucy's wig for quite a while before I removed that mesh layer, and during that time I found it extremely difficult to put the wig back on.  This review was going in a very different direction at that point.  I couldn't see anything besides the mesh, and so I couldn't get that black band in completely the groove.  This meant that every time I tried to tighten the wig, it slipped off.  It was incredibly frustrating.  I could not figure out how such a bad design had become so popular in Europe.  Turns out that the mesh is the only bad part of the design--everything else is great.

Without the mesh layer, you can actually see the black band fitting into the head groove


And then tie the strings as tightly as you want:


I have no idea why that mesh layer was there in the first place (to prevent staining on the vinyl, perhaps?) but it made the wig so much harder to use.

Anyway, once I figured out the strings, Lucy's wig stayed in place nicely every time I swapped it:


I wanted to try a variety of hair on Lucy, so I bought this I'm a Girly pink replacement wig from Amazon (on sale) for about $13:


The box design is very similar to what we saw on Lucy's box.  It has several colorful pictures of the dolls on the back:


There's that ultra-long wig again:


But this picture is new:


It's fun to see Jasmine in a different outfit, and I also like those white dresses.  Too bad more of these things aren't for sale in the United States!

The wig comes with a collapsible cardboard stand:


The stand is a bit flimsy, but it's a nice way to store the extra wigs:


The wig cap on the pink wig is visible, with no mesh in between, and the tightening mechanism is made out of lighter fabric:


Since this wig doesn't have a mesh layer, the tightening process was easy right from the start:


The texture of this wig feels a tiny bit more synthetic than the brown wig, but it's still nice, and the mix of pink colors is very pretty:


I'm not sure that the seafoam green outfit is the perfect pairing for this wig, but it certainly makes Lucy bright and cheerful!


I tried clipping the wig back and toning down the outfit with the black leather jacket:


A little better, I think.


The only problem is that when the hair is clipped back, the mesh band around the hairline is visible in some places:


I have a pretty big stash of 11-inch wigs on hand for the My Way Kid dolls that I work on, so I tried a few of those on Lucy.   I really like how this textured black wig goes with her olive skin tone and black jacket:


This wig is form Etsy and cost $29.95.


Lucy's original wig is nice, but it does not compare to this beautiful wig.  The feel and thickness are much better on the custom wigs.  But when you consider Lucy's price, her wig is extraordinary.

This wig pulls back nicely, too:


The I'm a Girly wig mechanism is pretty cool.  I was really skeptical at first, since Lucy's wig was so hard to figure out, but with the pesky mesh out of the way, it's a good system.  The only problem with the I'm a Girly wigs is that there are so few of them on the market--at least in this country.  Fortunately, some custom 11" wigs that are designed for American Girls will also work on these dolls, although they'd probably have to be glued in place to be secure enough for play.

I was intrigued enough by Lucy at this point that I bought a few more of these dolls on Amazon.  I thought it would be fun to compare the different characters and outfit pieces.  I didn't purchase the redhead, Robyn, because she was over $30 at the time, but I did buy Lola and Zoe.  Here's my trio (they cost about $36, all together):

I'm a Girly dolls, from left: Lola, Lucy, and Zoe.
Lola comes wearing a purple wig and wearing a fancy sequined "ballet" outfit:


Lola's wig is a gorgeous mix of purples.  I don't think I've ever seen a wig quite like this, and I've seen a lot of wigs!

Lola is the only one of the sale dolls on Amazon that doesn't have brown eyes:


Her electric blue eyes are striking, but they're not very realistic.

Lola has the same face mold, skin tone, and face paint colors as Lucy:


I wish that the company had chosen a less orange-toned lip color for these dolls.  It really clashes with Lola's eyes and hair:


Lola is wearing a cropped halter top covered in rose-pink sequins.  This is paired with a tulle-covered skirt that's very similar in design to Lucy's skirt.  This skirt has a sequined waistband to add some extra sparkle:


Lola's shoes are supposed to look like ballet slippers (I think?) but the long ribbon laces are absurd.

That's an accident waiting to happen.
The outfit pieces open in the back with velcro:


I thought that perhaps I could improve the appearance of the shoes by wrapping the long laces around Lola's calves, but the ribbons aren't quite long enough to do this gracefully:

At least she won't trip.
I was excited to try out the pink wig with Zoe's pink sequined outfit, but unfortunately the pink shades do not match:

I guess the wig is more of a coral color.
Zoe has the same skin tone as Lucy and Lola.  She comes with a blonde wig and oddly light brown eyes:


I ordered Zoe because I liked the look of her peasant top and jean skirt outfit:


The shirt is made out of a semi-transparent gauzy fabric with a dark blue floral print.  Unfortunately, the dark flowered areas have left stains on Zoe's arms:


The shirt closes in back with velcro, but the skirt opens in front with a button:


The skirt is tight-fitting, and I found the button hard to open and close:


Also, there's no zipper below the button, so the skirt gapes open a bit at the top.

Zoe's outfit includes some imitation leather fringe boots.  Annie immediately stole those.  They're much nicer than the vinyl boots that came with her Our Generation outfit:


The big problem with Zoe is that her brown eyes are undergoing some kind of fading and clouding process:


Here's a closer look:


It's hard to imagine what caused this (extreme heat or cold, perhaps?), but her eyes look like they have little cracks or bubbles throughout:


If you look at her eyes from an angle, they can appear to be completely white:


That is really not okay.  I have seen too many dolls with faded eyes at this point.  I know how this story ends.

I actually got one more of these dolls: Kayla.  Kayla didn't show up in my original searches for some reason, but when I visited the I'm a Girly page on Amazon, I found her.  And she was also under $10!


Frankly, I wasn't too excited about how Kayla looks in person.  She's not as pretty as Jasmine:


Her eyes look faded and her lips are too bright and orange for my taste.

Her outfit is nice, though.  It's a simple, well-constructed blue sweatsuit with a cropped top:


The pants have a working tie at the wasit and the top opens in back with velcro:


The shoes are high-top sneakers with leopard print details.

Judging from the four characters that I bought, there's some variety in the quality of the outfits, but it's impressive overall.  I love Lucy's and Lola's outfits (except for Lola's bizarre shoes), and Kayla's outfit is well-made and practical.  Zoe's outfit is less appealing.  Aside from her boots, which are fun, her clothes aren't very usable.  The shirt causes stains, and the skirt is hard to fasten and has a gaping fly.

There's no variety in face molds (all of the I'm a Girly dolls have the same face), and some variety in skin tone.  I think there are three skin tones in the collection: Lucy's olive complexion, Kayla's darker coloring, and then I think (but can't confirm) that Robyn the redhead and a girl named Mia have lighter skin.  Here's Mia:


She looks pretty much the same as Lucy, Zoe, and Lola here, but in some of the promotional videos she looks lighter.  I don't want to spend $80 to find out for sure, but if I ever discover something definitive about Mia's skin tone, I'll update.

There's some variety in eye color, from what I've seen, but not much.  Lucy, Kalyla and Zoe have brown eyes (as does Robyn), although Lucy's eyes have more of a yellow cast than the others.  Lola's eyes are blue (as are Mia's).  Overall, I don't think the eyes on these dolls are very good.  First of all, the colors aren't great.  Lucy's eyes are very yellow, and Kayla's eyes look faded.  Lola's eyes are okay, but they're unrealistically bright.  The biggest problem, of course, is Zoe's eyes.  These are extremely damaged and need to be replaced.

For me, the eyes are one of the most important parts of a doll, so I decided to pry Kayla's eyes out to see what size and shape they are and if it would be possible to replace them.

Fortunately, the eyes came out of the head quite easily with a little heat from a hair dryer:


This eye is 18mm in size and is oval-shaped.  It looks like there's some fading or damage around the entire edge of the iris.

Here's what the empty eye socket looked like:


As an aside, it's pretty amazing that I was able to remove Kayla's eye without damaging her eyelashes with the heat.  Those are some resilient lashes!

Anyway, eye sockets like Kayla's are easy to work with (a lot like My Twinn eyes), but there aren't too many oval eye options on the market right now.  I like the Pabol glass eyes that I use for My Way Kids, and those are oval-shaped and come in 18mm.  They're a bit expensive ($15), but I really wanted to see how they'd look on Kayla, so I ordered a pair in dark brown.

To my delight, the eyes slid in very easily...but Kayla looks like a cartoon character now!   


I'm not sure if I love the new look or hate it!  It's certainly different.  I made the mistake of removing her factory lashes during this process.  I think some new lashes would help soften her look.

There's a lot more sclera visible in these new eyes, and so they give Kayla a startled expression.  This expression, paired with the bright orange lips, make her look pretty silly.


I was discouraged about Kayla's makeover at this point.  I was hoping for some of Jasmine's drama and beauty.  I decided to order Kayla a curly wig like Jasmine's and then give her some proper attention once the wig arrived. I'll update on Patreon.

I didn't want this review to go on hold while I waited for Kayla's wig, but I was still curious about the makeover potential for these dolls.  So, I decided to do a full repaint and re-wig on another Lucy doll.  

Here's the result of that effort.  I call this girl Sage because of her sage-green eyes:


I gave Sage very soft, natural makeup.  This was partly an overcompensation for the orange factory lip paint, but I also thought that a lighter lip might de-emphasize the jutting shape of her mouth.  The final face-up might be a bit too light, but it will certainly offer a contrast to the original Lucy.

Sage is wearing a ginger-blonde wig from Exquisite Doll Designs (~$35):


The wig is gorgeous and sleek, but it doesn't fit the I'm a Girly head perfectly, so there's a little bubble of wig cap that sticks up at the back:


There's very little that can be done to adjust the eyes on a doll like this (without cutting open the back of the head and removing the vinyl eye sockets), and since these eyes had slightly offset pupils, Sage has slightly wonky eyes:


These eyes show a lot of sclera, just like Kayla's, but somehow Sage doesn't look quite as surprised as Kayla.


With the re-paint, I lowered the position of the eyebrows and gave Sage some extra blush and very light freckles.


Here are Kayla and Sage together:


It's fascinating to see how different these two girls look!  Kayla makes me giggle.

And here are Lucy and Sage together:

I'm a Girly Lucy doll before (left) and after (right) a makeover.
Each of them is pretty in their own way, I think.  I wish I'd been able to find replacement eyes with slightly larger irises, but the proportions of Sage's eyes are probably more realistic.


To end the review, I wanted to get a few pictures of Lucy and Sage in the natural light, so I took them on a walk along a nearby canal:


The scenery was beautiful and the weather was extraordinary (around 65 degrees...in February!), but the bright sunlight made it hard to get clear photos.


I retreated to my backyard later in the day to get some shots in lower light:


I've been through a lot with Lucy during this past week, and I've come to find her very sweet and pleasant to have around.


Learning how to use her wig was a huge step in seeing her true potential.  By the time I had her outside for these pictures, I wasn't stressed about the wig at all; I was treating it like any other fully-secured doll wig.



I've even gotten used to those yellow eyes!


Here's Sage along the sunny canal:


Our favorite thing to do was hide next to trees and check out the Canada geese!



But, again, most of those photos were too bright, so here's Sage in the shade of my backyard:



Sage looks lovely unless I turn her head and move her hair in such a way that her strange jawline is visible!


Partial profile shots are safer for her:



Bottom line?  It's hard to be critical of a doll that cost less than what I'd pay for shipping on most of my other doll purchases.  I keep looking at Lucy and thinking that her jacket alone is worth at least $10.  But I'll pretend for a moment that I paid full price for Lucy so that I can summarize some detailed thoughts about the different elements of this brand.

Without even considering her outfit or her wig, Lucy is a solid doll.  Her body is made out of high-quality vinyl that I could heat, wash, and sand with no trouble.  She is sturdy on her feet, and her five points of elastic-strung articulation allow her to pose about as well as an American Girl doll.  Her skin tone is medium, so she can represent a variety of ethnicities.  Many of her facial features are realistic, although a strange jawline and jutting lower lip lessen the appeal slightly in my eyes.  The factory paint on the four dolls I bought is quite heavy-handed, with a lot of orange pigment in the lips.  The eyebrows are painted in generic hues, presumably so that they don't clash with any of the replacement wigs.  

I want to address the inset eyes on these dolls separately because they have some serious problems.  First of all, most of the dolls have brown eyes that I don't think are very attractive.  Lucy's eyes are quite yellow, and Kayla and Zoe have light brown eyes that look faded.  Zoe's eyes aren't just faded, either; there's some strange process that has damaged or is damaging them dramatically.  She definitely needs an eye replacement.  That's not something a lot of customers want to pay for or deal with, and there aren't many high-quality oval eye replacement options on the market right now.  I've watched a lot of companies (particularly smaller start-ups) struggle with the long-term quality of acrylic eyes.  There's sufficient evidence for me to be concerned about the viability of the I'm a Girly eyes.

Lucy's clothing is really great.  Her imitation leather jacket, in particular, is attractive and beautifully made.  The fabric is soft and supple and is decorated with lots of metal accents, including three working zippers.  The jacket is easy to put on and take off and does not restrict Lucy's movement.  The jacket also fits my 18-inch My Twinn doll, Annie, and would fit American Girl and Our Generation characters, too.  Lucy's tee shirt and skirt are also very well made and look nice.  Unfortunately, the skirt will not fit wide-bodied 18-inch dolls (I don't have any slim 18-inch dolls to try it on).  I got an up-close look at some of the other I'm a Girly outfits, too, and I really like most of the pieces.  Lola's sequin-encrusted ensemble is very pretty, and Kayla's blue tracksuit is well-constructed and practical.  A few of the other clothing pieces I looked at are not as good. For example, Zoe's peasant top looks lovely, but the darker areas leave stains on the vinyl.  Zoe's skirt is also tight hand hard to fasten.  Lola's ballet shoes are ok, but the ribbons are too long to be tied conventionally and too short to be wrapped around her legs.  It's sad that most of the tempting outfit options pictured on the I'm a Girly packaging are unavailable (at least in the United States), because I'd have been interested in many of them.

The wig design on these dolls was a real frustration for me at first.  While the wigs were all securely positioned when I de-boxed the dolls, I was unable to recreate this stability during wig changes; the wigs kept constantly slipping off every time I moved the doll.  However, once I removed the mesh layer inside Lucy's wig, I was able to see what I was doing.  Now I find it quite easy to position a wig and tie it into place so that it won't fall off.  I was able to carry Lucy around in a bag on my walk, pull her out several times for photographs, drop her on the ground (oops...), and the wig stayed firmly in place the whole time.  It's a very clever system in the end.  In addition, while the hair fiber isn't quite as nice as what can be found on premium custom wigs these days, it's very good: soft and smooth and fun to brush.  The biggest problem with the I'm a Girly wig system is that there are currently only two replacement wigs available for purchase in this country.  As a consolation, wigs designed for American Girl dolls fit the I'm a Girly head quite well, and could be glued into place for any kid who wants a change.

The I'm a Girly dolls offer an interesting canvass for someone like me who enjoys doll customization.  The eyes are easy to swap, the quality of the vinyl is high, and there are a lot of wigs on the market that will fit these heads.  That said, glass eyes cost $15 and quality wigs cost around $25, so even a basic customization adds $40 to the price of the doll. 

At full price, I probably wouldn't recommend one of these dolls--mostly because of the risk of getting damaged eyes or eyes that will fade or deteriorate over time.  Also because there are limited accessories available on the market right now in this country.  At the sale prices, however, there are a lot of good reasons to check out the I'm a Girly brand.  The dolls with good eyes are delightful, and worth way more than $10.  It felt like daylight robbery to buy Lucy at the price I paid.  Furthermore, some of the outfits are worth $10 on their own--as are the wigs if you have use for that kind of thing.  And if you're a person who likes to customize, you will certainly get $10 worth of fun out of any of these girls.  I certainly did.

37 comments:

  1. I enjoy so much this review!

    I'm from Spain so I can't order one of this, but the price is amazing... I wish a Lucy and her outfit for my American Girls and Our Generation.

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    1. Thank you, Lilium! Isn't the price incredible? It's probably the best doll bargain I've ever found! I wish you could find them in Spain.

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  2. I am so in love with Sage and Zoe! I would love to add them to my collection. Absolutely beautiful girls!

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    1. Thank you! I think Zoe is super-cheap on Amazon right now. Just beware those eyes! ;)

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  3. Excellent review as always! I do want to know though if we’re going to get to see the MyTwinn Cinderellas anytime soon? I was really looking forward to that.

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    1. Hi Rae, I am very anxious to get back to the My Twinns! It's just hard to fit them in. I'd forgotten how this blog is a 24-7 job, lol. But I was thinking the other day that perhaps using the weekends to work on the doll projects would be a sustainable plan. Sage was a bit of a warm-up for getting that plan in gear. :)

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    2. I hope it's not becoming stressful again. We've been so spoiled with so many new reviews in such a short period of time. :3 I say work on what you want to, when you want to, and produce content as you feel like. We your audience love you and would hate for you to get burned out because you can't work on your projects anymore or something. <3

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    3. You are the best. Thank you for this very thoughtful note!! I'm not burnt out at all--sorry if I made it seem that way. On the contrary, it's that I have so many things I want to do and only so many hours in the day. It's a wonderful kind of busy. :) Thank you again, though, for checking in and being so kind. <3

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  4. Lucy looks a lot like someone I know, especially after her transformation to Sage! The problem is, that person is 30. She reminds me of your old Mackie in that respect - an oversized mature head on a body with toddler proportions. It would take some getting used to, but at the price you paid you get a lot, whether you like sturdy play dolls, good outfit pieces or good bargains for makeovers.
    As an aside, do I understand correctly that we'll be seeing My Way Kids on the other blog again? I miss your projects and now that I'm on a restoration kick I feel like reading the blog from the beginning to motivate me.

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    1. Yeah, I totally see what you mean! The body proportions are like those of a five-year-old, but the heads are way more mature.

      I fully intend to start up the My Way Kid makeovers again, it's just that this blog takes literally *all* of my time. Now that I have a pile of reviews under my belt, I might be able to ease off a bit and spend the weekends doing doll projects. That's my hope! I spent some time last weekend working on Sage, so it's a start. :)

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  5. I think the face sculpt is really lovely and good customizers could do wonderful things with them. But the size of the head is too off-putting for me. I'm really bothered by how large it is- and not in an "ironic" way like Blythe dolls. To me it looks like they stuck an adult's head on a kid's body. Too bad because it really is very lovely.

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  6. Don't give up on Kayla! Sage cleaned up well, and I bet Kayla will too. I think it's her garish lips that look cartoony, not her eyes.

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  7. On a whim, I went back to one of your old reviews and imagine my shock and utter delight to find you came back to us with your wonderful reviews! Oh, I'm so happy to see you back and I see I already have quite a few new ones to read! Your reviews are always the best and most throughout around and were badly missed. Nothing against the current social media 'scape (I love it!) but some things just work better in a long form blog. Plus even the toys that might not be my cup of tea you make fun to read about! Welcome back! You've made my month!!!

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  8. This was a very interesting review. I see it pays to keep an eye on the stray things that pop up on Amazon from Europe or Canada. Like Cirquemom above said, the heads just seem way too out of proportion for me. If the heads were smaller, I’d probably snap one up. Emily, the photo with the empty eye socket was SO CREEPY! Your face-up is just lovely, almost making her look like a different doll, and most certainly bringing her to life.
    Check out the 18” “doll fun” line on amazon. I got the redhead (now on her way to Ann Arbor) and really liked her and her proportions. That said, the marketing is very weird, as she’s supposed to be going to or off in college, but any other separate outfits are really childish. She is slimmer than AG. I just really liked her gentle face sculpt. Dang it, now I want the one with the blue hair! Oh yes—her clothes were AWFUL; ill fitting with cheap fabrics. Ick.
    And yes, I’d be very interested in the 14” WOW girly doll.

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    1. That's too bad - I've seen those on Amazon and had one on my wishlist for a while in case she went on sale, since $50 is too dear for my wallet when it's unclear what you're going to get. The clothes in the pictures looks nice for most of the dolls. Like, in the pictures Mila's coat and bag look quite attractive. Alas.

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  9. Let me clarify—the line is DOLLFUN, and the one I got was Mila. She actually has nice long hair, but bangs that would never lay flat. Ever. Even with gel. Maybe the clothing on the other ones is nicer; I still like their face sculpt and slimmer, well proportioned size. Check them out.

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  10. The odd thing is Sage resembles a My Way kid now! These are cute dolls, but their heads are just odd. Its like they put the wrong head on the body. But the price of them is so low, you can also buy them just for the clothes. lol

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  11. I read the review thinking, "I wonder what it would look like if she did a makeover" so I am so glad you did. And now I am off to see whether I can find this doll at bargain prices.

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  12. Sage reminds me of Lea Clark, it’s a shame you don’t have her anymore but it would be cool to see them side-by-side!

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  13. Sage is stunning, I was so glad to see you attempt a repaint.
    I think repainting in general is such a fun new direction for this blog, you are extremely talented!

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  14. Oh my, I‘m Swiss and I never ever heard of them. That‘s shocking, haha. I googled them after I read your review and they are around 150 USD here, and not all are available. But I‘ll keep an eye out and maybe we‘ll find the Rapunzel wig :)

    By the way: your repaint looks so so so much better ❤️❤️❤️
    Her original face looks a bit „bitchy“ to me (I guess they were created in Zurich, hahaha), but your repaint is so sweet 😍

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  15. I immediately went and ordered Lucy after reading this. Your presentation of her totally sold me. She is lovely and at $10? STEAL.

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  16. I've seen these girls on Amazon and for some reason I find the name "I'm a girly" to be really off putting.
    That said, your repaint is beautiful.

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  17. The makeover you did is absolutely gorgeous. That face-up just brought the doll alive. I mean, the original face is fine, but the softer makeup is way nicer.

    and... yeah, just for the shoes and the fun of deboxing a new doll... I also went and bought her (like other reviewers...) and several of her $10 friends. You couldn't even buy a t-shirt for an American Girl doll for that price. XD

    I for one am also interested in seeing the Wow girl reviewed as well - especially as a comparison to her larger sister. (And I'm glad to see Annie is doing well. ^_^ )

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  18. Oh yeah, and AG Corinne... I've never been so tempted by a Girl of the Year. She's a gorgeous doll (at least in the photos). But... welp, AG priced me out a couple of years ago, and I don't care for Corinne's meet outfit, which makes it impossible for me to justify shelling out 110 bucks for her (plus shipping!), especially since the AG store near my home closed abruptly last year so I can't see her in person, either. And their shipping prices are.... hefty. *sigh*

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  19. This is normally not the type of doll I would collect, but I am thoroughly surprised by the wigs and some of the clothing items. Lucy's wig looks really pretty -- and her leather jacket is better than most clothing pieces I own! The weird disjunction between the body and face (the former looking like it belongs to a much younger child) is something I noticed right away. However, I must say, your repainted and re-wigged doll is STUNNING. The I'm a Girly company should definitely ask you for some creative advice because their dolls would absolutely fly off the shelves if they had faceups like yours.

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  20. What a fun review. I am amazed at the price cut! Wow! And the wigs are a really nice idea.

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  21. I feel like these dolls have a melancholy look. Their eyes are deep set, which create shadows, and these make the dolls look tired. So interesting.

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  22. I discovered this blog a little while ago and I just wanted to say thank you for your fair, well structured reviews! I recently have been more intrested in dolls, it kind of combines some of my hobbies - 3d modelling, sewing and character design and its nostalgic to think about the time when I was small and being in a toy isle in a store would be really exciting. Your blog is also nice to get my head away from the stresses of making my portfolio (Im trying to get into college for 3d modelling and/or animating and they need one).
    Keep up the good work :)

    (I also think this doll looks a bit weird as the doll looks like its for a young child while the head looks like an adult/teenager, but its still pretty pretty)

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  23. WOW Sage is such a transformation. I remember seeing these when they first came out in Hamleys. I was impressed by the wig quality but really not at all enthused by the face mold. It's kinda too realistic, too mature and the factory paint work is... not great. But your repaint softens it off so much.
    i'm impressed!

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  24. WOW... Sage is such an improvement on the Lucy faceup! After you replaced the eyes, and repainted and rewigged the doll, her face finally "clicked" and began to look right to me. It's amazing how you were able to make that head sculpt look so much prettier (in my opinion) and so different from the originals!

    Speaking of which, it's such a shame all the characters in this line share a single head sculpt. When looking at many of them together, they all began to blur together a bit because they kind of looked like the same person with different clothes and hair. However, since you proved it is possible to make this sculpt look different using paint application, it is a real shame that the original line didn't do that.

    For the price you got these dolls though, they're amazing, but for their proper price, I don't see them being terribly worthwhile. This was a really fun read though, thank you!

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  25. I purchased Kayla when she was still about $30 and never regretted it! Once the markdowns happened I picked up the rest. They are the same size as my Carpatina and Magic Attic dolls.

    Sage is stunning. I love her green eyes. It's good to know about the eye options for replacement.

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  26. I’m normally not interested in dolls of this size and type, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find any such dolls appealing. Sadly, in Lucy’s case this isn’t so: I really don’t like her face mold, she looks like a grown adult to me – a tired one, even, probably because of those depressions under her eyes that you’ve also pointed out. The strange disconnect between her facial and bodily features (she basically has a grown woman’s head on a young child’s body) only adds to this. Too bad, because she speaks to me on so many levels otherwise: I really like her two-toned eyes (that's exactly how my eyes are, but mine are grey with a hint of bluish green on the outside), the wig-changing feature, and her outfit – both its style and the colour coordination in it. And I probably even have a slight greenish tint of envy because I’ve been on the hunt for a similar pleather jacket for myself, for years now – with no success (they’re all too wide or too short – or both). I find the concept of kids taking part in the designing process really interesting and awesome, but it would be even more interesting if we had a chance to know more about where and how they have been involved in the process. I’m really wondering how this head mold came to life – and how the real target market, children, react to it. For a long time during the review, I thought the poor dolls fail to appeal because the head mold is unappealing (though I do not specifically see any issue with the jawline, I was looking at your pictures for a long time, but I do not see where the strangeness is supposed to be :D) – and then Sage came in, and blew my mind! She is gorgeous! You’ve completely transformed her into a lovely character! This makes me wonder whether it’s actually the head mold that’s bad, or if it’s just difficult to paint beautifully – and while you succeeded in this, the factory face-up failed massively. Whichever it is, this transformation really shows not only how much a good face-up can mean, but also how great skills you’ve developed over the years you’ve spent working on the My Twinns! It’s hard to believe it’s the same head mold – especially in the pictures where Sage’s next to Kayla!

    That said, the natural light does good to Lucy too – I find she looks much better in the pictures you’ve taken ourside. Probably because the light washes out strong features like the depression under her eyes a bit, making her look somewhat younger and less like an adult stuck in a kid’s body?

    As for the seafoam green outfit paired with the coral wig, that *was* the perfect pairing to me! :) I really liked Lucy sporting that look, it somehow transformed her face a little as well (probably the lighter colour also helped with not darkening her facial features so much?), and I really loved all the pastel together!

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  27. I hopped on and was able to order myself one at the sale price! She looks lovely, great review as always and BEAUTIFUL face up! -Micah

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  28. Having watched the prices carefully until the redhead doll got down to $15, I can now report that she has the same skintone as the other white I'm A Girly dolls. She has hazel eyes, the same design as Zoe's, and freckles which are very natural-looking. Kayla has the same eyes as Lucy's. However, I can attest that Kayla's facemold *is* different - her nose is slightly wider and rounder, which I like. The red wig is a kinda darker red, and the bangs aren't bad, but they do accentuate the circles under the dolls' eyes because they cast a shadow on the doll's face. Also, the red wig has a black wigcap, and that left stains on the doll's head. Also, her outfit is crazy - well-made, but... quite crazy. I do not regret the purchase though. Now I've gotten all five available on Amazon (the pink wig is sold out) and they're very, very fun to play with. There's also a spectacular blue wig available on Target - I sure wish *that* would go on a crazy sale, too. XDX

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    1. I lied, the redhead has a *very* slightly lighter skintone. The difference is incredibly subtle. The redhead's eyebrows are also lighter in tone which makes her face look less severe.

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  29. I really did not like the faces of these dolls throughout the review... but repainted Sage completely floored me! She's so beautiful! 😍

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