I recently received another nicely sized box from JAKKS Pacific, introducing me to a new product line, Gift 'Ems. These adorable little dolls stand at about an inch and a half tall, and include a plastic two-inch gift box with a lid. The box comes apart, and inside includes a miniature diorama photos of the doll's home city.
I'd guess the target age of these dolls is probably 4-7 year-old girls. This first collection includes 84 different dolls, and they are quite cute. The dolls themselves come apart--you can mix and match their hair, heads, upper bodies and lower bodies, as shown in the photos below.
The mixing and matching could be endless! The parts are pretty small--too small for a child under three, according to the box.
According to the included literature, there are four different lines to collect: Day, Night, Swim and Snow. Then, dolls are rated as Common, Rare, Ultra Rare, Special Edition, and Limited Edition (though edition sizes are not actually mentioned). For instance, the dolls in this 3-Pack were Julissa Juan (from San Juan, Puerto Rico): Day, Common; Penelope Parthenon (Athens, Greece): Swim, Common; and a mystery doll, Anna Autobahn (Berlin, Germany): Night, Special Edition.
I think they are quite cute, and what I really like about them is:
- They will help establish collectors. I think about this regularly. When we have kids growing up in such a digital world, we aren't doing ourselves any favors in excluding kids from attending doll meets. This kind of toy is perfect for establishing younger collectors in their own form--we had Pogs, Beanie Babies, Webkinz and the like in the past, and this is a great alternative.
- There are styling opportunities, but no magnetic pieces and no tiny shoes. As a mother of four, I can't tell you how many times I've stepped on a tiny half of a plastic shirt in bare feet, or how many times I've vacuumed up little doll clothing! These are a softer, more flexible plastic, so it's easier for small hands to manipulate as well.
- As always, I enjoy toys that include storage space as part of the design. The boxes, the Hotel & Spa, and the Tour Bus all are perfect for storing the dolls, and that's a great thing. I love the fact that the storage items can double as playthings. Good thinking, and great design!
- Semi-educational is better than non-educational. I like the travel theme, and I have to admit, I find the quirky, kitschy names pretty cute. I hope others won't be offended--which could happen, I suppose.
A few things that I wish they had done better:
- They had a great chance for ethnic diversity, and they took it on the international dolls, but as I'm looking at the American dolls, I see two Latinas from Miami, and otherwise, no women of color. What the hell, JAKKS? The US is a melting pot! You had the perfect opportunity--and I see you took a chance on fun hair colors for the dolls from New York and Seattle, but what about the other ten dolls? Come on. Maybe in future series you could improve that just a little bit?
- I think this could have been geared toward an older audience if there weren't quite so much pink and purple in the accessories. The Tour Bus (review in the next post) is a great example. Why not make it red, like the real double-decker buses in London? Maybe that isn't the market they are going for, and maybe the market JAKKS wants is a younger one. But still. My own girls wanted aqua, blue and realistic-looking stuff, even at younger ages.
- Ease of use. Seeing that a younger audience is intended, some of the items seem to need adult assistance. The Tour Bus (review forthcoming) has a removable top, but only with brute force from an adult. Perhaps this will get easier to remove over time, and again, this is only my opinion.
All in all, I think these are cute. And I can't wait to see my niece and nephew fight over--er--play with these new toys! Keep reading! I'll post photos of the Tour Bus and Hotel & Spa next.