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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Across the other pond, part 4: Takara Jenny review

I was hoping to get all these reviews done before Election Day, but at the rate I'm going I'll be lucky if I get this one up ON Election Day!  Lord have mercy, I am so ready for this election to be over!  I know who I want to win, I know most likely WILL win, and let me just say that the two don't match.  Negativity purged, it's time for my third Japanese doll.  From Etsy and eBay come two examples of another Takara doll named Jenny.  The doll on the left is from the same Etsy shop that sent me my Licca, and the one on the right is from eBay.  Neither of them were dressed like this when they got here, by the way.
They LOOK exactly the same, but I can tell them apart because the Etsy doll has a squishy head.  The eBay doll's head is more firm.  I remember playing that same game with my Barbies when I was small; some had soft heads and some had hard heads.  I liked soft heads better for some strange reason.  I was a weird little kid.

Jenny, from what I understand, never caught on quite like Licca-chan did.  That surprised me at first because she's got a very interesting history, with roots that go back to...BARBIE???  Yep, Barbie.  Jenny doesn't really look the type, does she?
According to this site, Barbie didn't sell well in Japan.  Mattel and Takara collaborated to make Barbie more appealing to the Japanese, who by that time were quite used to Licca's cartoonish cuteness.  After the collaboration ended, Mattel moved on to a similar venture with Bandai (creating those uber-cutesy Ma-Ba Barbie dolls), while Takara renamed their doll "Jenny."  The same site explains how the doll got the name Jenny instead of something Japanese, and I think this commercial may too...though y'all will have to know Japanese in order to understand what Jenny is saying.  It is possible to hear Jenny referring to both her old name and her new name, but I can't understand a word of the rest of it.

Since they are both Takara dolls, Jenny and Licca are very similar.  However, they are also different in several crucial ways.  Their faces are highly different.
Both dolls have big eyes and closed smiles, but Jenny has flatter cheeks and a narrower chin and nose.  I'm not going to lie about my preference; Jenny is cute, but I like Licca's fuller face better.

Jenny is taller than Licca by about an inch, and shorter than a nineties-era Barbie by about half an inch.  (FYI:  I took the picture below before I bought Jenny any shoes.  LOL)
Like Licca, Jenny is a blonde.  
It's a different shade from Licca's, albeit slightly.
Jenny's hair is a shade of blonde that I'd call "ash blonde."  It's a smidge darker than Licca's, and very similar to the ash blonde hair found on old Twist 'n' Turn Barbie dolls.  Both of my Jenny dolls wear their hair loose with bangs, though I have seen a few dolls with other styles.  One of my girls has a fair amount of flyaway hairs which is annoying, but it's not a huge problem.  Neither of my Jenny dolls have thinning hair like Licca did, by the way.

During my searches online I saw a lot of dolls that were labeled "Licca/Jenny," suggesting that I'm not the only one who's had trouble differentiating the two in the past.  When placed together it's easy to see the height difference between the two dolls, but when an eBay post only has a head shot things get a little tricky.  Eyes are the easiest way to tell these two apart.  Remember from my last post how Licca's eyes are round and to the side?  Jenny's are neither of those.  Or my Jenny's eyes aren't.
I've since learned that newer Jenny dolls have rounded eyes like Licca's, but my Jenny has centered brown eyes that slant downwards.  She has long eyelashes and appears to be wearing some fairly heavy eyeliner.  Like Licca, her eyes have three reflective spots, two white and one blue.  I'm particularly glad that these Japanese dolls have those spots painted in their eyes, as they'd look terribly blank without them!

Also like Licca, Jenny has small, pink lips in a closed smile.
I like Jenny's lip color better than Licca's.  It looks more like...well, like everyday street makeup!  I like Licca's smile better, though.  I also like Licca's paint job better; Jenny looks like she's been wearing her lipstick all day and hasn't bothered with a touch-up.

Both my Jenny dolls have pierced ears.
Unlike most Barbie dolls (and again, like Licca), Jenny's earrings can come out and be switched around.  Neither of my dolls have their original earrings; both pairs belong to outfits that I bought separately.  This is a cute little touch, but I wonder if these dolls ever have problems with green ears like vintage Barbie dolls do?  My two pairs of earrings are made of metal, after all...or they feel like metal.  I don't know if Jenny dolls have this problem, but it might be best to play it safe and coat these earrings with Super Glue.

Like Licca, Jenny came with a ballgown that I don't think is original to her.
It's made out of soft black material that has nice drape.  The waist is trimmed with a silver sateen bow.
The chest is trimmed with this faux mother-of-pearl button and by this gold loopy trim.
The loopy trim extends over the shoulders and down the back.
The sleeves (yes, this dress has sleeves) are trimmed with black lace...
...as is the hem of the skirt.
The sides and back of the skirt are spangled with spots of gold glitter.
It's a beautiful dress.  Mama and I are both ga-ga over it.  I like Jenny's gown way better than I like Licca's.  Both gowns are put together nicely and fit the dolls well, but Jenny's gown doesn't make annoying noises when it's manipulated, and the fabric has much better drape.  Jenny didn't come with shoes, which is a shame.  I had to hustle around and find some shoes that go with everything...and I'm still searching for the perfect ones.

Underneath her clothes Jenny has a body that is similar to Licca's, but on a different scale.
Jenny has longer limbs and surprisingly, a bust that is less defined.  Given Jenny's height I would've assumed she'd look more...well, more "womanly" than Licca, but that's not the case.  Jenny is jointed the same way Licca is, with swiveling hips, shoulders, waist, and neck.  Her knees bend with internal wires, like so.
Since Jenny's legs are longer than Licca's, she can cross her legs at the knee.  Licca can only cross her legs at the ankle.
I think Jenny's arms are supposed to bend too, but the eBay doll's arms are worn out.  I've also learned since Licca's review that her left arm is worn out as well.  Still, my particular doll can do more than the eBay Jenny can.
Strangely, though eBay Jenny has a waist joint, she can't twist at the waist.  My Licca can.
To give Jenny's whole doll line a fair assessment I looked at the doll I got from Etsy too.  Her elbows both bend and her waist twists.  She moves in every way that Licca can, so it would be fair to assume that most Jenny dolls can.
Jenny clothes are not as easy to find as Licca clothes, though there are some options on eBay.  I've heard and read that Teen Skipper clothes could work, and while digging through my multiple boxes of doll clothes I found some more things that were designed for slim fashion dolls.  So I had a little fun and tried out multiple pieces.  These first two dresses are both Barbie Fashionista dresses.
The flowered dress on the left is a little big around Jenny's waist, and the periwinkle dress is big around her shoulders.  In both cases the fit is good enough that I'd put the doll in them again.  Just keep in mind that modern-day Barbie clothes do fit Jenny and her like-sized friends, but the fit isn't always 100% spot on.  

This next outfit is a stock outfit belonging to a Mattel Starr doll.
Well okay, it's not Starr's outfit, but it DOES belong to one of her friends.  This particular outfit belonged to Kelley, but as usual I digress.  Kelley is wearing the shoes from this outfit so I couldn't try those on Jenny, but the rest of the outfit fits just fine.  The sleeves are a little too long, but that's nothing I can't remedy by simply pushing up the cuffs.  I have some more Starr clothes, but surprise, surprise, my Starr dolls are wearing those.  I'll have to dig them out and see how Jenny looks in Starr's other frocks...and vice versa.  For now I'm cautiously saying that Jenny can wear Starr's duds, but good luck finding any because Starr's been out of production for thirty years!

This next outfit is a pair of mismatched pieces with uncertain origins.
The pants are tagged "Barbie" but look too slim to be Barbie's, and I'm completely clueless about the jacket.  I do know that the jacket was clearly intended to be worn over something; maybe it goes with Kelley's outfit???  Stock photos do show a red vest, but I don't think this is the red vest in question.  The pieces fit Jenny nicely, and the jacket even has a built-in scarf to tie closed over the open part.  Still, I'll definitely need some sort of blouse to go under that jacket before Jenny wears it again.  The whole shebang does fit, though.

Next is the dress that I was most curious about, and another one that you saw above.  This dress belongs to Totally Yo-Yo Skipper.
This dress is made out of a soft, stretchy knit so it glides easily over Jenny's curves.  It's a little big around the waist, but nothing that is super-obvious.  The shoes originally went with Skipper's extra outfit (Totally Yo-Yo Skipper came with two dresses) and they fit Jenny like they were meant for her.  I don't have much else for Teen Skipper, but buried somewhere in my box of stuff is a snow suit.  The pants do not stretch, the shoes are not open-toed, and I'm dying to dig it out and try it on Jenny.  I have another Takara doll on her way that's Jenny's size, so if I can find the snow suit I'll put it on the new doll.  Stay tuned!

I've also got this Bandai Barbie dress.  
You may have figured out from the first photograph in the post that this fits Jenny, but I doubt you knew it wasn't a Jenny dress.  Well...maybe technically it is.  Bandai Barbie and Jenny are both derived from the same doll (Takara Barbie), so maybe one could consider the two related.  Either way this dress fits Jenny like it was made for her.  The sleeves are a little big around the cuffs, but nothing anyone would notice.  It's a VERY nice product, too.  It's nice enough that I'd like to find some more Bandai doll dresses and see if they're as nice.

Now guess what time it is???  It's good stuff/bad stuff time!

*Strictly my opinion, but Jenny's not quite as cute as Licca.  Maybe that's why she's not as popular with the Japanese.
*Stock outfits are not as easy to find for Jenny as they are for Licca.
*The makeup's not great on my particular dolls.  Both have lipstick that looks worn, though it's fine from a distance.

*Similar in size to Barbie, meaning that they can share some clothes
*Hair is intact, unlike my poor Licca's hair
*Can wear clothes from other dolls besides Barbie
*Can move in a couple of ways that Licca cannot
*While maybe not as cute as Licca, Jenny still projects an image of sweetness and innocence.  She looks friendly and approachable, just like Licca does.

When Jenny first arrived in the mail I was afraid I wouldn't like her.  She's definitely a nice little doll, but she lacks Licca's round-eyed, round-cheeked charm.  As time went by I grew to like Jenny quite a bit, but I didn't fall in love with her all the way until I started playing around with clothes.  She can wear so many things, and her anime-style face adds a whole new spin on my old Skipper threads.  She can wear things that Licca cannot, making her much more versatile.  And due to her height she fits in a little better with Barbie.  In short I can't say I'm sorry for bringing Takara's red-headed stepchild home.  She's proven to be a delightful doll, a superb companion for both Licca and Barbie, and a nice intermediate between the two.  Jenny is a must-have for anyone who likes foreign fashion dolls.

See you soon,


  1. Loved this review! I don't have any Jenny dolls that I know of. I do have the Grandma and the Father dolls though. It is possible that one or more of the heads I purchased as Licca heads were Jenny heads, I suppose. I found the history you shared very interesting including the information on the various Japanese Barbie versions. Thanks for sharing!

    1. The heads you had all looked like Licca heads except for the boy; he looked like Jenny's beau Jeff. So glad you like the series! I'm not done with it, believe it or not!

    2. Hey there! I've been a fan of Jenny for many years and I have several dolls of her and her friends. She is similar in size to the petite Fashionistas, and also vintage (1966-1975) Francie. I've also gotten some Licca friend doll heads from Aliexpress, and found I like them on Jenny size bodies. I have never been much of a fan of Licca, because she's only 11 or so, while Jenny is about 15 or 16. Jenny's friends range in sizes from 10.5 to 11 inches, but should still be able to wear Barbie things. The Sparkle Girlz outfits (sold at Walmart) will also fit her. Enjoy your Jenny! :)

    3. Interesting, most of the folks I've talked to prefer Licca to Jenny! I like Jenny a lot though, and her Korean lookalike Mimi too. I have indeed learned that Jenny can share clothes with the Sparkle Girlz and with petite Barbies, which is good to know because there's always a whole bootle of stuff for the Sparkle Girlz to wear! Have you ever seen Mimi? She looks just like Jenny and she's adorable.