Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Spring Break with Lena: B-Kind Mini Dolls by Jada Toys

In the ongoing saga of TBP mobile, I found a fix for the logo and have reverted back to a more mobile-friendly view.  I've also added a search feature to the drop-down menu.  The blog was designed using a laptop view, so it's heavily optimized for that, but it's not 2012 anymore, is it?  Since I'm always on my computer, I've been remiss in making the mobile experience better--sorry.  I will continue to investigate ways to improve.  Thank you for the input--keep it coming!

Anyway, here we are, already on day three of the spring break celebration!  Thank you to everyone who is joining the fun in the comments section--I always love reading what you have to say.  This review will be on the shorter side, since I know the middle of the week can get hectic--or at least it gets hectic around here!

Nothing felt hectic on St. John, though, as Lena and I spent the week welcoming various doll guests to join us for a little chat and some time at the pool.  The guest list has been fairly diverse so far: yesterday Lena got fooled by a Cutie Reveal Chelsea in a toucan suit, and today she's going to meet a young girl named Turquoise Ann who is passionate about saving the ocean.  The face of today's guest might look familiar to you, if you read my earlier B-Kind review, but her size is quite different!

B-Kind mini doll Turquoise Ann by Jada Toys, $9.97.
As usual, Lena started her day at the pool--trying out a new swimsuit!

How do you guys like this one?
But she hadn't been lounging for very long when Turquoise Ann showed up!

Hi Ann!  You're not a bird in disguise or anything like that, are you?
Ann was a little shy at first, but her turtle pet, who I named Chellie, was not!

Aren't you the cutest thing!
Emily, I'm going to snuggle with Chellie for a bit.  Can you introduce Ann to everyone?
Ann is part of the eco-friendly B-Kind brand that was introduced to Walmart stores in late 2021.  The first dolls is this series were 13-inch, well-articulated girls that came with DIY projects--like the Brianna doll that I reviewed.

The B-Kind mini dolls came out last fall.  These newer dolls are only six inches tall, and they don't come with a project.  They do still come in environmentally friendly packaging, though, with a cardboard box, fabric handle, and natural dyes:

The side of the box has some information about Ann, and also a few tips about how to save the ocean:

Ann likes surfing and paddle boarding.  Like her larger alter ego, Koral, she wants to save the oceans:

The tips for saving the ocean are basically eco-friendly project ideas.  The suggestions are simple things that kids could do at home, like making a beach tote from scratch or tie-dying old clothing--basically things that reduce consumption and waste:

I asked my husband, who is an oceanographer, to give me his own three tips for how to save the ocean, and he replied:
1. Stop climate change.
2. Stop climate change.
3. Stop climate change.

It was actually sobering to see how much less healthy the coral in St. John looked during our recent visit compared to how it looked on our trip ten years ago.  Sadly, as the water temperatures rise, coral are more and more vulnerable

Do you want to know why coral are vulnerable?  I'll tell you.  First of all, coral are animals that are closely related to jellyfish.  Some baby coral even look a bit like jellyfish!

It's so cute!
Healthy coral get their bright colors from symbiotic algae.  These algae live inside the coral and produce nutrients from photosynthesis.  Some of those nutrients add to a coral's diet:

Those coral look really happy.
As water temperatures rise, coral are forced to eject the algae that live inside of them.  This causes the coral to lose all of its color in a process called bleaching:

Bleached colony of Acropora coral
OMG, Emily!  That's so sad.
Bleached coral aren't necessarily dead, but they're not healthy.  Because of the missing nutrients in their diet, these coral can't grow or reproduce efficiently, and they have a higher mortality rate.

Anyway, I see where my husband is coming from, but kids can't do much about climate change all on their own.  So producing less waste is a good start.

The back of Ann's box has a paddle board and oar that can be cut out and played with:

Don't put that in the pool, Ann.
At the very bottom of the box, there are small photos of the other four dolls in the series:

They all have really lovely names, but I've noticed that two of the girls, Harmony Sue and Summer Bree, never made it to the shelves...or haven't made it to the shelves yet.

According to the B-Kind website, there are only three mini dolls:

It's too bad about the missing characters (I especially like the redheaded Harmony Sue!) but it hardly matters for today because Turquoise Ann was the perfect companion for an island vacation!

Ann came mounted against a cardboard backdrop, with a few small accessories arranged around her:

Most of the items were easy to snip away from the cardboard, but Chellie the turtle was secured to the backdrop with a pink plastic screw in her belly:

Here's everything that was in the box:

The smaller accessories include a water bottle (which is a good way to avoid using disposable plastic bottles!), some fuzzy stickers, and a small brush:

The best accessory is Chellie:

Chellie's head faces downwards a little bit, but when she's propped up you can see her adorable smile!

I love Chellie!
Chellie has molded hearts on her shell, and a painted pink headband with a bow:

She also has a big hole in her belly where the screw used to be:

That's turtle cruelty!
Chellie looks like a green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas.  These are the most common sea turtles, and are fairly easy to spot in the waters off St. John.

You might remember this picture of a sea turtle that I showed you in the Mattel Mermaids review:

Is that one of Chellie's relatives?
You'll notice that this fellow is happily grazing on some sea grass.  Another problem we noticed on St. John is that there's a lot of boat traffic (mostly massive catamarans) and some of the boats decide to ignore the rules and drop anchor in the shallow waters--where the turtles graze.

Boat anchors drag on the bottom of the ocean and pull up the sea grass, leaving the poor turtles with less food to eat.

So that's another thing that people could do to save the ocean: keep your boats and their anchors out of the shallow water, and make sure Chellie and her friends have enough to eat!

With a face like that, how could anyone take her food away?
Now let's meet Ann herself:

Her facial features are very similar to the original B-Kind girls:

Here's a shot of B-Kind Brianna as a reminder:

Ann's side-glancing eyes have a lot of the same detail that we saw in the larger dolls (i.e. lots of reflective dots), but the color is more vibrant and clear.  I really like Ann's detailed eyebrows, too, with their dozen or so individual hair lines drawn in.  I'm not wild about the glitter in her eyeshadow, though:

Ann should know better: glitter, like all microplastics, is a problem for the ocean.  It can slip through water filtration systems and contribute to marine debris.  Worse yet, animals might mistake glitter for food and eat it by mistake.  Yuck.

Ann might be wearing biodegradable glitter, though, which would be awesome.

Her lips aren't painted with as much precision as her eyes.  There's some color bleeding over the lip margins, and I'm not wild about the bright pink shade:

Ann's outfit includes blue shorts and a tie-dyed tee shirt that says "save the ocean:"

The shirt is nicely made, and I like that Ann has taken her own advice and up-cycled an old shirt!

The inside seams are neat, but the fabric edges are not reinforced:

All of the details on the shorts are printed, not sewn--including some shell patterns that look a bit like handprints:

The placement of those shells could be better.
Some of the stitches around the waist of the shorts are messy:

And the shell design placement is even worse on the back!

Oh, dear.
Ann has pink sneakers with molded laces and a wave and star (starfish?) pattern on the treads:

She also has a pink starfish barrette with light blue dot decorations:

The barrette has a simple folding clasp in back:

I tied Ann's hair into a bun so that we could get a look at her body design.

She has a plastic torso with vinyl head and limbs, and five points of simple articulation:

Her shoulders and hips do not have hinges, so she can only spin her limbs around.  This allows her to sit on the ground:

She can also raise her arms and do front-to-back splits:

Ann has a detailed hand mold, but some of her body seams are visible:

She has realistic feet, too, although there's some scratching in the vinyl of her lower legs:

Ann has generic-looking marks on the back of her body, with no mention of Jada Toys or the date of manufacture:

Her hair feels great and is thick and wavy, although there are always little strands sticking out every which way--even right after it's been brushed:

The rooting is fairly dense, though, and the scalp is nicely camouflaged:

I put Ann back into her outfit so that she could test out her accessories.

As usual, the plastic brush is too small to be of much use, but the water bottle is a thoughtful accessory, and Ann can hold it:

But she'd rather spend time with Chellie:

Wouldn't we all!
While we're on the topic of B-Kind dolls, I should mention that there's also been a second wave release of the larger dolls.  I was curious to see what Jada Toys had changed about this brand, so I bought the newer version of Brianna--the character I reviewed in 2021.

You might recall that the original B-Kind dolls came in open-faced cardboard boxes with their DIY projects arranged tantalizingly around them:

First wave B-Kind Brianna.
Because of the open-faced boxes, I had a lot of fun inspecting these dolls at Walmart.  I could check for wonky eyes, feel the fabric of the outfits, and enjoy all of the little details in the projects.  However, I noticed that some of the accessories (like Brianna's white clothing) were dirty or damaged because of their exposure.

The newer dolls come in plain cardboard boxes that are less fun to look at, but certainly better at protecting the accessories:

Brianna was attached to an open-faced carton that slid out of the main box:

I was surprised to see that Jada Toys has completely changed the face design!

That's not the Brianna we know!
Also, the cool DIY project has been replaced with a few plastic accessories:

So lame.
Here is the old Brianna (left) next to the new one:

It's like they're morphing into Rainbow High dolls.
While the older version has a large, reverse pear-shaped head with painted eyes that look inset:

The new version has a smaller, rounder head with actual inset eyes:

Here's a closer look at the old Brianna:

And here's the new version:

I would have predicted that I'd prefer the version with a rounder head and inset eyes, but I don't like the new Brianna much at all.  Her face looks too generic, and while her gaze is more focused, I can't say that I like the effect.

Also, even though the old and new dolls appear to have the exact same body, this new doll has a head that tilts upwards all of the time:

Looks like she's dreaming of a project.
And her profile is not as sweet as it is on the old Brianna:

Second wave Brianna.
Here's the old Brianna again for comparison:

First wave Brianna.
The new Brianna has essentially the same hair as the older version (it still feels great!), but there's more pink--especially at the front of the head.

The second wave clothing is equivalent in quality to the older outfit, although the new doll's style is more modern, with a jean jacket, cropped tee, and hot pink mini skirt:

The pink skirt has caused some staining on Brianna's hand, though:

I stopped playing with the new Brianna at this point and put her in the Goodwill bin.  While the new clothes are more trendy and modern than the first wave wardrobes, I don't think the change in the dolls' faces was for the best.  I found the first wave girls quite charming, and the new ones are bug-eyed and look permanently startled.  I assume these newer dolls are still eco-friendly (using recycled plastic and natural inks) but this information isn't advertised on the packaging anymore. 

The biggest loss with the new wave, of course, is the absence of the DIY project.  I thought all of the first wave projects looked so fun and creative, and I basically chose the doll I wanted because of her project!  With an MSRP of nearly $30, the price of these second wave dolls has not decreased, either, which just makes the lack of a project all the more disappointing.

As lukewarm as I feel about the new large dolls, I think the B-Kind minis are really cute.  And speaking of which, we should get back to Lena and Turquoise Ann!

So, do you and Chellie want to check out St. John?  I think Emily needs some photos.
Ann was happy to explore around the house for a little while, because there were all kinds of ocean-themed items in the yard!  This brain coral skeleton was one of her favorites:

And she enjoyed gathering and identifying all of the shells that were scattered in the garden:

The cowrie shell has a really unique, rounded shape, and Ann wanted everyone to be able to see what a cowrie looks like when it's still alive:

Like a snail with a strange shell!
But when she glimpsed the view from one of the high balconies, she wanted to go see the ocean!

So, we took Ann and Chellie to our favorite snorkeling beach, where they had a front row seat to the ocean:

Ann didn't go into the water, which was a surprise to me, but she told me all about the shoreline and how we have to be careful to protect it:

She explained that baby sea turtles, like Chellie, need to be able to climb onto the shore to lay their eggs.

Chelonia mydas Baby Sea Turtle

But if the coastline is over-developed, the turtles don't have anywhere safe to put those eggs.

I figured that somebody who worries about the ocean as much as Ann would be depressed all of the time, but she's surprisingly optimistic.

She chattered excitedly about the turtle rescue groups on St. John that are doing their best to protect the nests and make sure that as many baby turtles as possible get safely out to sea.  I can totally picture Ann working for one of those groups when she grows up.

After a long day at the beach, Ann was excited to get back to the pool and tell Lena all about her adventures...and Chellie was eager to get in some more cuddle time:

I need a pet turtle, Emily.
That brings us to the end of another day of virtual spring break!  I had a fun time learning ocean facts from Ann, and I know Lena loved getting to know Chellie.

There's nothing especially remarkable about the B-Kind mini dolls, at least in terms of their basic design.  Ann has a cute, highly stylized face, minimal articulation, and thick, wavy hair that feels great and is fun to brush.  She's a nice size to carry around, and her simple wardrobe would be easy for kids to manage.  She's not so different from a standard Chelsea doll, except that her hair is much thicker and more fun to play with.

What I think makes Ann special is that she offers a way for parents and kids to engage with important world issues.  First of all, her packaging is attractive and nearly plastic-free, which sends the message that not all toys have to come immobilized inside hard-to-open plastic shells.  Also, the simple "save the ocean" message on Ann's shirt could send children down a path of learning about sea life and how humans can help or harm those precious creatures.  And the inclusion of an absolutely adorable sea turtle pet is a great way of helping kids relate to and empathize with those creatures.

B-Kind will not have an easy time competing with the glitz, glamour (and plastic!) of the big-brand dolls--especially if Jada Toys keeps making changes that minimize the best parts of the brand.  But I hope that while these eco-friendly girls are still on the shelves, they can help to inspire a new generation of forward-thinking people who are passionate about the ocean.


  1. For some reason, every picture is showing up as the new header. When I click on it, I can see the actual picture. So strange! Thanks for your work trying to find a good format for everyone!

    1. Oh, dear. On your phone, or laptop?

    2. I have the same issue and I'm using my phone to read the blog

    3. I’m on my phone. Looks like it’s working again! I can see all the pictures in the main text.

    4. If you refresh it should be fine again--sorry! Back to the drawing board... ;)

  2. Same exact problem. Every single picture in this post is of the girl in your header. It's just her face over and over, all the way down. Actually made me laugh as I scrolled, but at first, I was like, 'Wait a second...that's not a doll.' In other words, it took me a moment, then it became amusing. I'm sorry, tho, your blog is having technical difficultites. Best of luck with getting it sorted.

    1. Oh wait, upon refreshing, the real pictures loaded! O-O

      How strange.

      For research purposes (I guess you'd call it), I too am viewing this on a phone.

    2. I reverted back to the old code, so if you refresh it should be fine again--with a blurry logo, lol! :P

  3. I'm surprised to see that B-Kind got another wave, as well as mini dolls! I still really like the eco-friendly idea behind the brand and the projects of the first wave dolls were truly awesome, but I wasn't too keen on their faces. I think the stylized face almost looks better on the mini doll, but Chellie does steal the show a bit!
    Even though I'm not a fan of the first wave faces, it's disappointing to see that they're even worse in the second wave. They clearly tried to go the RH route with the inset eyes, heavier make-up and more trendy clothing, but it honestly just made the line more generic, and the dolls seem less charming and sweet than the previous ones. What a shame the eco-friendly projects got tossed as well. Everything Jada Toys could've done wrong with a reboot of the line seems to have happened. It's nice that the minis at least still have that eco-friendly message attached to them, though. I guess it's just a tough world out there for toy companies trying to battle MGA and Mattel in the doll aisles.

    Loved all the nature facts in this review, btw!

    1. Thank you, Tali! You hit the nail on the head, for sure. I totally agree with everything you said. You make an especially good point about the stylized face being better on the smaller dolls. I hadn't really thought about that, but it's even more true in person! The features don't seem as strange when they're tiny. I really wanted this brand to succeed, so I'm bummed about the changes.

  4. As the other lone person still using Blogger to host their site, I've been reading your blog for years -- I work in tech, if you ever need help, you can reach out to me, one doll lover to another!

    1. Hi Morgan, that is SO incredibly kind of you!! Thank you. I think I got everything fixed, although I've said that before and had to eat my words, lol! I do feel like a fossil some days because I'm still using Blogger, so it's nice to hear that I'm not alone! We hold-outs probably need to stick together. ;)

  5. Ohhh I‘m late to the party - so everything looks fine to me and I love the new header pic ❤️ And wow Lena, I love your bikini and your beach poses!

    And I might be alone, but I love second wave Brianna. She looks adorable and reminds me of Luna Lovegood :)

  6. I love the message of these dolls! It’s too bad they stopped including the craft (and didn’t the old box make a vision board or something like that?). I thought they were a sweeter and simpler alternative to all the Lol omg and Rainbow High dolls out there. Also, did you know the initials of the dolls spell B Kind (Brianna, Koral, Ivy, Nora, Daisy)?

    1. Amy! Wow, I had not realized that at all! That's so cool. You have an amazing eye!

  7. MnGrl here. I view your blog on an older iPad, and have no issues excepting the ongoing comment section that down list my name as it used to. Anyway, I enjoyed the original B-Kind dolls and found them refreshing. However when I saw the shot of the “new and improved” version of the larger doll I blurted out “ACK!!!” Like the old saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Neither version is carried at our local Walmart and I haven’t bothered to look online.
    Have to say Emily, it feels like Christmas to-get so many new blogs in a row and that is definitely helping get though this endless winter. Now don’t burn yourself out!

  8. Looks good on mobile now to me! I am loving these posts, very cute dolls to see with Lena and lovely photos by you as always. I used to not see the appeal of smaller dolls at all, I only was interested by glamorous and mature dolls, but little ones like these in the last few posts have slowly become quite endearing to me. I appreciate the mobile version being easy to read because I read your site on my work breaks sometimes to de-stress! Thank you for the many reviews.

  9. I love all the photos of Ann exploring! The brain coral skeleton is SO cool. These dolls are so cute and have a lot of personality.

  10. Chellie is so stinking cute! I never actually thought about cowrie shells being, you know, real shells, so thank you for the picture.

  11. While I don't mind the design of the newer doll, losing the craft was a pity, I think. The packaging is great, and it's good to keep the messaging, but having a handy thing for a kid to learn from must have been helpful in cementing little things they can do to help the environment.