Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Journey Girls: Meredith & Kyla Eye Swap

Meet Meredith and Kyla, both 18" Dolls made by Toys R Us for around $30 each.

These Journey Girls Dolls were amount the first 18" Dolls I've bought outside of American Girl. The others were Disney Princess and Me dolls I bought at the same time to be reviewed in another post. What ultimately lead me to these dolls was a desire for a medium-skinned doll with blue eyes.

I've been wanting to make this particular doll for several years now. When I first saw AG's Girl of the Year, Kanani, I thought she'd be perfect if only her eyes were blue. I conspired to get her and swap eyes but was advised by DH to wait until Christmas. Then Kanani sold out. I realized later that an eye swap wouldn't have worked anyways due to the skin part on all blues eyes being too light. I still kind of want Kanani anyways but with an eBay price around $200... yeah.

But the Journey Girls dolls do not have sleep eyes. They have cute faces and Kyla's skin was perfect. I could finally begin my quest to recreate my original character, nerdily enough, based off the show Avatar: The Last Airbender. That's right, my girl is a water bender. I'm coming out of a slight obsession with this show that's lasted through several years, three costumes, and an immersive roleplay on Second Life.

Moving on...

Long story short, I bought both these eyes with the intention of swapping their eyes, despite not finding any information about anyone ever attempting to do this with the Journey Girl line. Going off what I could find about other similar dolls, I decided to first attempt the hairdryer trick. For those who don't know, this involves heating the vinyl around the eye for 3+ minutes until its soft enough to pop the eye out. It sounded easier than it was. It took me more than a few tries to get the hang of it but eventually I did. After taking Kyla's brown eyes (Which are beautiful, by the way) out, I unboxed Meredith and did the same for her.

Putting the eyes back in was far more difficult. As much as I tried with the hairdryer, it refused to work. I was forced to resort to dunking the poor things into near-boiling water.

First, I boiled the water. Once boiling, I poured it into a baking dish then quickly dunked the doll's face into the water for three minutes. Afterwards, I quickly dried the water out of the eye socket and put the eye in.

Understatement of the year.

Putting the eye in was VERY VERY DIFFICULT. It took me about an hour to figure out how to get just one brown eye into Meredith. So please don't attempt this unless you have a lot of time, experience, or patience. My ultimate technique involved trying to insert the eye in the center of the socket, starting perpendicular and pushing inwards. I tried to illustrate with this photo, but honestly... I doubt it will help much.

After I got the first eye in, I started the process over for the second eye. This time, Meredith lay on her side to avoid getting the eye wet. This made it unavoidable to get her hair wet, but it doesn't seem like there was really any damage from this.

After just two rounds of soaking I managed to get eye #2 in, completing Meredith's eye swap.

It didn't turn out entirely perfect. I tried to use the hairdryer to loosen it up and move the eye around a bit but it didn't really work. I had the same problem with Kyla.The hairdryer helped me save some of her eyelashes caught beneath the vinyl but by then they were already crushed. Luckily, I don't think it looks too bad.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with Meredith yet. I may sell her if I can find a buyer, or make her into another character. 

The Hobby Lobby Cabinet

I bought this mini cabinet from Hobby Lobby some time ago, intending on finishing as a display for my doll food. I promptly covered the glass, took off the hardware (grumbling about how one side was higher than the other) and pre-stained the wood. Since then, its been sitting in the basement, waiting for me to finish. I didn't think to take any photos of the before, so the image above is from Hobby Lobby's website. Yes, even the display image has the hardware on wonky.

Today I brought the cabinet up to take a badly-lit phone photo for you. Molly shows how much taller she is than the cabinet, and you get to see the current color of the wood.

I've seen these cabinets floating around etsy and Pinterest, painted to be used precisely for AG dolls. One Pinterest dollhouse had the cabinet upside-down and hanging from the ceiling in their kitchen. I think its sized perfectly for that- and I'd love to use it that way too if I had both the room and energy to build an AG dollhouse.

I'll update when I manage to continue this project. I have several going on right now so it may be a while. I figured in the mean time I'd get this post up to help motivate me and to help anyone interested in buying one of these the scale.

Journey Girls Ski Lodge Set

A few weeks ago I decided to take advantage of a 20% off sale and get the Journey Girl's Ski Lodge from Toys R Us. I had never seen anything from this brand in person but it looked cute online. I've wanted a doll-sized fireplace since I was young and would set up Christmas each year for my sister's dolls. My childhood fireplace was a badly-painted piece of cardboard with a string across it to hang my youngest sister's socks. Good times.

So I bought the Journey Girl's Ski Lodge... because as much as I love American Girl's beautiful parlor for Caroline, that thing costs $300. Maybe someday. When I have a place to put it. If I can convince myself to throw that much money at a non-doll doll-item.


Its a cute set. I pretty much knew what I was getting myself into as far as quality goes so there were no real big surprises. Anyone who's read any reviews knows that the chairs are a bit too small for AG girls to fit into properly. The little cushion had to be taken off to get her in.

I'm not really fond of the bright blue logo stamped on the front. If I were to keep the rest of the set, I'd want to repaint the chairs.

The coffee table is okay. I honestly don't have much of an opinion on it. Its just kind of... there.

Rug is hideous. But I've never been fond of animal print so maybe its just me.

The TV surprised me by being made of wood. I don't know why, but I expected it to be plastic and none of the reviews I had read said otherwise.

I may just be spoiled by AG food, but this food is cheap looking. I never took it out of the plastic. If and when I do, I'll add pictures of it as well. The photo I took through the plastic turned out way too blurry and is packed away in the box with most of the set at the moment.

And now we get to the main event - the fireplace.

Its a decent size. It came in three pieces that required a screwdriver. The stone facade is just paper. I hadn't noticed this from pictures online, but there are splotchy colored blots over the stone that are kind of ugly. The bricks on the inside are also paper. They have a slightly colored gradient added to them that I suppose is meant to make the center of the fireplace brighter... as if the fire is casting shadows onto it? I'm not really sure. I may eventually try to make my own paper to replace the ones the set came with.

Now this is the part where I both complain about Journey Girl's Quality Control and praise Toys R Us's customer service.

The paper was peeling off in places that made it impossible for me to fix without entirely disassembling the fireplace. I might have just dealt with this myself - After all, I was already thinking of replacing the paper, but that wasn't the only problem. There was a dent on the mantle.

I tried to ignore it, to pretend it didn't bother me. But it did. A lot. So a day or two later I called customer service and got a label to ship it back. They were very easy to deal with and I commend them for that. A few days later my new set arrived via UPS. It took me a few days more to ship the original set back- it was hard to get out of the house with a giant box and a six-month-old baby. UPS couldn't pick up the package themselves without charging me and that just wasn't going to happen.