Saturday, September 23, 2023

Patron Post: Kidz 'n' Cats Jennet by Sonja Hartmann

One of the interesting things about blogging for a decade is monitoring which dolls have endured that expanse of time and which have been discontinued.  For example, it doesn't surprise me that American Girl is still alive, thriving, and pretty much unchanged from 2013.  And it's great that some smaller 18-inch doll companies, like A Girl for All Time, Carpatina, Maru and Friends, and even My Salon Doll are still making their products.  Other brands have not been as fortunate.  My Twinn dolls, which are close to my heart, were discontinued in 2016--possibly because of widespread eye problems.  The Extra Special Dolls met a similar fate.  But another casualty of the last decade, and one that took me by surprise, was the Kidz n Cats line by Sonja Hartmann.

I've actually written two reviews of Kidz n Cats dolls in the past: a comprehensive review of Evita in 2013, and a shorter look at two Henriettes in 2018.  And I guess we can count the brief review of the mini doll, Annie, too.  In all of those cases, there were a lot of quality issues and design disappointments that prevented me from thoroughly enjoying the dolls.  Frankly, I struggled to see why the brand was so popular.

But then my lovely new patron, Lillian, suggested that I take one more look at the Kidz.  She even suggested a specific doll, Jennet, who happens to be a character that I remember admiring a great deal back when she first came out in 2016.  So, because of some pangs of nostalgia over the loss of the Kidz n Cats brand, and because I cherish my patrons, today I'll be talking about Jennet:

Kidz 'n' Cats Jennet, by Sonja Hartmann (discontinued).

There are very few Kidz n Cats dolls left to be purchased new-in-box from retailers, but it looks like Samantha's Dolls still has some for around $180.  

I was picky about which doll I got, though, and so in order to find Jennet, I had to turn to eBay.  I feel fortunate to have found a used doll for a great price ($169).  Thank you to the friendly seller, goatday, who is also a reader of this blog!

Jennet came with her original packaging, which I always like to see:  

This packaging is simpler than the other Kidz n Cats boxes I've dealt with.  It's basically a plain cardboard window box with a small cardboard decoration at the bottom:

The back of the box has some text in both German and English:

The text highlights the dolls' versatility: they can be played with in the water or snow, their hair can be combed and styled, and they are made out of unbreakable vinyl.

The photograph at the bottom of the box is of Jennet and two of the mini dolls:

I snuck a quick assessment of a Kidz n Cats mini doll, Annie, into my 2018 Kruselings review.  The mini dolls were not very well made, furthering my disappointment with the Kidz n Cats brand.

Here's a reminder of what my Annie looked like:

Kidz 'n' Cats mini doll, Annie.
There are so many problems visible in that one picture, I don't even know where to start.

Jennet, however, looked beautiful right out of the box!  I love her short hair and bright yellow coat:

Even if Jennet was wearing nothing but that coat, her outfit would still be better than Evita's lacy cowgirl getup.  Would you agree?

Ye haw.
Jennet's coat is amazing.  It has so many little details, including a working hood:

And the hood is lined with a bright green and red fabric that looks striking:

Jennet's face is lovely, too, although her hair is a bit messy in this photo:

Even with the messy hair, she still made a better first impression on me than poor Evita:

On closer inspection, you can see that Jennet has bright green eyes, natural lips, and a really cute face mold:

She has a different face mold than all four of the other Kidz and Cats dolls that I've seen in person.

I like how there's a hint of a smile in her features:

Jennet has delicately hand-painted eyebrows that match her complexion nicely, and her eyelashes match each other, which is not something that was true of my brunette Henriette doll from 2013:

I absolutely love the color of these eyes, and they haven't faded (or cracked) at all in the last seven years:

Jennet has applied lashes on the top and very faint painted lashes on the bottom,  Neither style of lash overwhelms her beautiful eyes.

My doll has two defects, presumably both from being out of the box for a while: the tip of her nose is scuffed (which you can see best in the previous photo), and part of her lip paint has rubbed off:

I guess it's possible that these defects were present even when the doll was brand new, but it's more likely that they are due to normal wear and tear.  As glaring as the missing lip paint is in these photos, I barely notice it in person.

Also, adding a bit of asymmetry to Jennet's face gives her more personality.

Jennet's face is really sweet, but it only barely eclipses her incredible jacket.  Let's take a closer look at the jacket:

It has a black plastic working zipper down the front, and working flap pockets on each side.  And because of her arm articulation, Jennet can even tuck her hand into a pocket!

It's a tight fit, but I'll call it a win:

The jacket also has a working drawstring along the bottom that can be cinched in:

And the hood fits over Jennet's head:

I like the gathered detail at the waist of the jacket, and how it's mirrored in the elbow area of the sleeves:

There's even a cute little Kidz n Cats tag tucked into the right side seam:

The best thing about the jacket, though, is that it's fully lined in that elaborate green and red print:

Which means that it's also reversible:

I love how the reversed jacket looks!  It's so different from the plain yellow:

It brings out the green in Jennet's eyes:

The balance and use of color in this outfit is excellent.  I like the little flashes of purple in the scarf and the hair clips:

Jennet's hair was a mess, though, so I removed the clips in order to tidy things up.  

Here are the clips on their own:

They have some green flecks, presumably to match the green in the jacket, but they look a little cheap to me.

The clips in the promotional photos were slightly different:

Underneath the clips, there was a (disintegrating) rubber band holding a section of hair in place:

I removed the rubber band and brushed the hair:

While Jennet's hair was loose, I inspected her wig.

The color of the hair is natural and pretty, and the fiber feels great and looks shiny and smooth, but there are a lot of thin spots:

The wig cap is visible almost everywhere.  It's most noticeable along the side part at the top of Jennet's head:

It would have looked better if she'd had a rooted part.  But I guess this way, in theory, you could choose to part the hair wherever you want.

I clipped the hair back away from Jennet's face using a few different clips that I had laying around.  This yellow clip is nice because it matches the bits of yellow peeking out in the reversed jacket:

I was reluctant to remove the jacket, but there's a lot more to this outfit that we need to see!

Underneath the jacket, Jennet is wearing a grey tee shirt dress with a graphic design on the front:

The design says "Nature Mission" and has a mouse head and what looks like crosshairs (??):

I'm comin' for you, Mickey.
Here's a closer look:

Like the reticles on some serious binoculars?
Okay, so maybe it's not crosshairs, but rather x and y axes with a circle drawn around them?  Whatever it is, it's TOP SECRET.

The dress opens down the back with a full-sized metal zipper:

The absence of velcro is hugely refreshing.

Before I took the dress off, I wanted to remove the purple scarf:

This was tied around Jennet's neck with a simple knot:

Underneath the scarf, the neckline of the dress is high-cut with a nicely-finished edge:

The construction of the dress is excellent, with neat seams and serged edges:

It's made better than some of my own clothing.

Under the dress, Jennet is wearing some very baggy purple tights and black boots:

If the crotch was any lower, she'd be a penguin.
The waistband of the tights is just barely holding everything up:

Hang in there!
I suspect the elastic has lost some of its stretch over the years. I can relate.

The boots are made out of sueded imitation leather and have red leg warmers peeking out at the top:

The boots zip open down the back and are very easy to use:

They are not lined on the inside; the lighter back side of the sueded fabric is visible:

The boots were hiding a pair of red leg warmers with black text all over them:

The text includes words like "nature," "saving," and "future."  Saving nature for the future?

The leg warmers caused some pink staining on the underlaying tights:

Jennet's body is free of stains, though, which is great:

Her body is made entirely out of vinyl, and she has eleven elastic-strung joints.

She is a slender 18-inch doll, so she is significantly skinnier than an American Girl like Corinne, and significantly taller than a 14-inch Glitter Girl like my Odessa:

From left: Glitter Girls Odessa, Kidz 'n' Cats Jennet, and American Girl Corinne.
There's an illusion in that photo that Corinne is taller than Jennet, but the two dolls are close to exactly the same height (just shy of 18 inches).  Corinne's upper body is just tipped towards the camera.

I've gone through the Kidz n Cats articulation in depth before, but that was 10 years ago, so I might as well do a cursory refresher.

 Jennet's elastic-strung head can look up and down:

And also tip from side to side:

Her head can still hold a position well, too, even after all these years.

Her shoulder joints allow her arms to lift straight up and away from her body, but they can't stay in a raised position.  I can only demonstrate the extent of her shoulder mobility with this slightly awkward pose:

That's a good one-armed push-up. 
You can see Jennet's funny elbow mobility in that last picture, too.

Jennet's elbows can bend to about 120 degrees, but her left elbow can't hold that pose:

In fact, her elbows don't behave uniformly at all.  At rest, the right elbow is in a noticeably more bent position:

That's because there's a small defect in the vinyl of the lower arm on that side:

I might be able to fix that or make it less pronounced if I heat the vinyl.

Jennet has nicely-detailed hands with reasonable wrist articulation:

Her fingernails are painted a very delicate pink:

Jennet's elastic hips allow her to do full front-to-back splits:

And she can sit upright on the floor or in a chair with no trouble:

The elastic in Jennet's legs is loose, and so it's possible to pull the lower leg really far away from the joint:

In my time with Jennet, the loose elastic was most apparent when I was trying to hold her by both lower legs--to take a photo or carry her around.  When I did this, the weight of her upper body would cause her knee joints to collapse, and she'd basically fold in half at the knee.  It was frustrating and a bit alarming.

This is the thing that really bothers me about elastic-strung dolls.  When all of the elastic is shot, what am I supposed to do?  Some dolls, like BJDs, are designed so that they can be re-strung, but I'm not sure if a similar thing is possible for a doll like this.

From what I can tell, the elastic is rooted into a vinyl stopper that is sealed inside the lower leg.  I guess maybe I could cut off the top part of the lower leg, attach new elastic to the stopper somehow, and then glue the leg back together?  It's probably not something I will ever try.

Despite the loose elastic, the leg can still hold a slightly bent position:

Which is enough to replicate a casual walking pose:

Jennet has nice feet, too, with some blushing, well-delineated toes, and lightly-painted nails:

All in all, Jennet's articulation allows her to strike a few interesting poses...with a bit of a wonky arm on one side:

The Kidz n Cats articulation is much the same as I remember it.  The joints are good, and they allow for a lot more flexibility than most 18-inch dolls.  This particular doll happens to have a defect in her vinyl that impedes the movement of her right arm, but I might be able to fix that with some dry heat.

The only real problem that I can see with dolls like Jennet is that the elastic will inevitably loosen over time; I'm starting to see this already with seven-year-old Jennet.  For now, though, the joints still have enough tension for Jennet to stand on her own, so hopefully she has a few more good years left in her.

I put Jennet back into her wonderful clothing for some more photos:

She can hold her arm in a waving position for a few seconds,

But then the shoulder joint collapses and her wave becomes less exuberant:

I like Jennet best when she's in her coat:

It's such a nice piece of clothing, and something I can picture a real little girl wearing:

It's fun to play with the flashes of color that the coat's lining provides, also:

And the reversed coat offers my favorite look of all:

Not only is Jennet's outfit great, but she has my favorite face mold of all the Kidz n Cats dolls that I've ever owned or seen in person.  She's such a happy, quizzical girl:

I felt like Jennet was definitely worthy of an outdoor photo session, especially since the color of her vinyl can look a little green against my backdrop.  

So last weekend, bright and early, I took her on a sunrise walk at a local park:

She was a little sleepy at first, but the excitement of the new location woke her up.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, both Jennet's yellow coat and the goldenrod in the meadow seemed to glow!

Around the bend of one path, Jennet spotted a pond covered in rising mist:

She wanted her picture taken in front of this beautiful sight:

Further down the path, we found a cluster of old vines that Jennet wanted to explore:

She wondered how old they were and how they got so twisted around one another.

Just beyond the vines, Jennet found some fully-blooming thistles that almost matched the purple in her scarf!

I wish I'd captured this better on camera, but as I was taking Jennet's photo amongst the thistles, a hummingbird flew right into the shot!

You can almost make out the bird-like shape.  I knew it was there because I heard those unmistakable wing sounds:

Hummingbird photo bomb.
What a magical experience!  Jennet is sad that she was facing the wrong direction and missed the whole thing.

But she made another neat discovery, which was this double-layered horizontal spider web:

These delicate, basket-like webs were strewn all across the meadow:

I tried to look up what type of spider creates this style of web, but didn't have any success.

As we left the park, Jennet was filled with wonder for all of the neat things she'd seen!

I forgot to zip Jennet's coat up in the reversed configuration, which is my favorite look for her.  So when we got home, she allowed me to snap a few more quick pictures in our garden with the coat fully zipped: 

Bottom line?  Left to my own devices, I might never have realized that the Kidz n Cats had been discontinued, and I certainly never would have purchased another doll.  I'm grateful that things turned out the way they did, because this was by far the best experience I've had with the brand.

So many of the issues that I had with Evita are not a problem with Jennet.  First of all, I didn't really like Evie's face mold or her face paint.  Jennet's face mold is charming, and it's painted with subtle, natural hues.  I also felt like Evita's outfit was tacky and bland, and not something I could picture a little girl wearing.  In contrast, Jennet's outfit is wonderful.  The reversible jacket is the star of the show, with its working pockets, durable zipper, drawstring hem, and full hood.  It's a wonderful piece of clothing that I'd happily buy for a real child.

My experience with Jennet also sidestepped many of the quality control issues that I had with Henriette, Evita, and Annie.  While Jennet has some missing lip paint and a scuffed nose, I suspect that both of these problems were the result of wear and tear over the years, not manufacturing defects.  The puckering in Jennet's right elbow joint is more likely to be a problem that she had right out of the box.  This defect restricts the movement of one arm and prevents the doll from being symmetric.  It's possible that I'll be able to fix the joint with some heat and pressure, which is easier than repainting a face, replacing eyelashes, or dealing with cracked eyes--all things I've had to do with previous Kidz n Cats dolls.

My two biggest complaints with Jennet are that her wig is a little thin, and her elastic-strung joints are starting to loosen.  The wig could easily be replaced if I ever felt so inclined, but the failing elastic is a harder problem to manage.  Hopefully the joints can hang in there for another seven years or so.

Thank you so much, Lillian, for reminding me about the Kidz n Cats dolls and for focusing my attention on Jennet.  Without your suggestion, I never would have given this brand another glance, and I would have missed out on this bright-eyed cutie and her sweet smile:


  1. Beautiful! I also have Jennet, though I rewigged her in brown. She was my very first NIB doll!

    1. Ooh! She'd be so gorgeous as a brunette! I love that.

    2. She made a pretty good mini-me back then! Here's a photo from about 2017:

    3. That is SO wonderful! You're even more beautiful than Jennet. Matching outfits and everything! Mini me, indeed. Thank you for sharing. ❤️

  2. I love her gently realistic face mold!! Beautiful!! And only 18 inches too. The 18 inch My Twinns don’t replicate the realism in the 23 inch dolls as well. I can see why this line was popular!

  3. That coat is amazing! Very cute outdoor photos. Her clothes are so detailed. This type of doll looks so tiny next to American Girl.

  4. Beautiful doll, and I too love the coat!! I had a pretty Kidz n Catz back in the day, but the realism of the face put me off for some reason. They're so perfect for photographers, and I find myself tempted now that I've seen yours! -Micah

  5. As someone who loves to wear things with words that are confusing and nonsensical, I would wear that sweatshirt.

  6. Jennet's face mold is very sweet and honestly looks a lot more appealing to me than the face molds of the other Kidz 'n' Cats dolls you've reviewed (Evita especially looks like she REALLY needs to pee). Her clothes are also awesome and her style seems realistic. I like that all the layers make different outfit options possible. I could definitely see Jennet be a child's favorite doll!

    Also, I have to say that this is some of the most stunning outdoor photography you've showcased on the blog, Emily! Really amazing pictures, with an environment fitting the doll perfectly.

  7. Yay, I’m so glad you were able to get her!! She does have an adorable face mold. I’ve had a soft spot for this brand ever since your review of Evie inspired me to get my Julia, it was wild to see my name mentioned in a blog I’ve followed for so long haha

  8. She has such a sweet face, and looks so natural in the outdoor photos!

  9. Wow, she looks leagues better than the dolls in your previous review. And elastic not withstanding, her whole outfit is well done. The reversible coat is a very nice touch.

    I've never seen a web like the one you found, how interesting! I wonder what it's function is?

  10. She’s so cute! I definitely think the mouth not having exposed teeth looks much better. While Evita looked like she was trying to laugh through her teeth, Jennet has a sweet smile! Even with the defect it kinda gives her a cute little smirk!

  11. Kidz and cats were wonderful dolls and are a huge loss to the 18” doll market. They made the most expressive and fun boy dolls, with real attention to detail in their outfits not just another football kit! Both my children, boy and girl had some and their stringing and ability to pose stood up to five years of intense medieval style battles and creative play. The ability to change the wigs out to BJD styles and the full vinyl bodies with no cloth made clothing a dream. They could sit with their legs closed and their less bulky bodies were easier for smaller hands. The teeth face mould was discontinued early on and they never showed their teeth again. Love your pictures and great to see you take a fresh look on these beautiful dolls.

  12. I remember reading your review of Evita and thinking that she wasn't a great example of the line. I have one Kidz n Cats doll, she came with simpler clothing so was a bit cheaper (a good thing in my opinion to have the option). The good face moulds among the line are really lovely child faces, but Evita's was definitely off somehow.
    Most European dolls have closed mouth expressions, compared to US ones that are often open mouths, and I have to say that I prefer closed mouth moulds usually.

  13. I have 11 Kidz n Cats dolls and I was very very picky about which doll I chose to purchase because the whole line was made by 4 different manufacturers. There is a difference between manufacturers for sure. My Jennet is different than yours and it shows. The face molds for the different dolls have names. This one is called Mischievous. There are 6 dolls with this face mold: Jennet, Robert, Marina, Niko, Julika and Salina. The only one I didnt purchase was Salina. I didnt care for her coloring. I wish I could share a photo because this face photographs beautifully. Their outfits are all wonderful, but Inagree, Jennet's coat is special.

  14. Your girl is very pretty! :) Thanks for the great review. I have one just like her due to arrive tomorrow from an eBay buy. I caught the Kidz n Cats bug last year after a friend sent a message about several on eBay. I'd not purchased any new dolls in years due to space constraints and had sold many in the last 5 years or so. Well, I fell in love with the the KnC dolls, this new one will make six! I don't think I'll get anymore, six is plenty!

  15. Thank you for the great review. Lovely photos! I am considering adding this line to my doll family. I fell in love with two that my friend has. Wish me luck!