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. 


  1. Wow! It would never occur to me to do eye transplants on dolls. (Head transplants, yes.) I have just discovered Journey Girls and am hoping to find one in a thrift store so I won't have to pay full price for one. Their smiles are almost as cute as the Maplelea dolls' smiles.

    I found your blog when I googled Journey Girls. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks! I think they have pretty cute smiles myself. I have a lot more to do for my custom doll but am waiting on finding the right wig for her.

      Good luck with your search for a thrift store doll. I got mine when they were on sale on the website. You could always keep your eyes open for a good coupon or sale if finding one used doesn't work out.