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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Irwin Sailor Mercury

HEADS UP:  I've been having some computer woes and my tablet won't do Photoshop.  Hence the lighting in these pictures will thus be all over the board.  I apologize in advance for any ill-lit photography.

I'm not a hardcore anime fan yet, though I do enjoy it.  The doll that I'm reviewing for Throwback Thursday is a member of Sailor Moon, an anime that I've been working through over the past months.  For those that are uninitiated, Sailor Moon is another magical girl anime, based on a group of teenage girls from Tokyo who have to protect their world from a race of evil aliens.  I have a lot to say about the DiC dub of Sailor Moon and not all my opinions are positive, but let's not open up that discussion here.  Regarding the doll, Sailor Mercury would not have been my first choice, given what I know now about the characters.  Had I been able to afford a Sailor Jupiter doll she would've been the one I chose.  She's sort of redheaded and she wears green, a combination that is dear to my heart, and she is tough as nails.  But for some strange reason Sailor Jupiter dolls are hard to find at a price I can currently afford.  My next choice would've been Sailor Venus because she's got a cute personality, but she's blonde and I've already got too many blonde dolls.  So I settled for this very cute Sailor Mercury doll.
Her real name is Ami Mizuno, or "Amy Anderson" in the DiC dub.  Apparently the surname "Anderson" was only used in one episode, after which the surname "Mizuno" was returned.  "Anderson," continues to stick in some circles, however.  The name "Ami" can mean either "Asian beauty" or "second beauty," while the last name "Mizuno" contains a kanji relating to water.  Both of these names make sense, as Ami is the second main character introduced, and because her sailor attacks are based on water and ice.  Personality-wise Ami is depicted as a quiet, sweet, extremely intelligent transfer student with a knack for technology and a fondness for swimming.  Her signature color is blue, and her attacks are based on technology and music in addition to water and ice.  The DiC dub depicts her as having a British accent for reasons I'll never know, though it suits her.  As always, let's start with hair.
BLACK???  Ami is supposed to have blue hair!!!  That doesn't please me one bit, because I love dolls with blue hair.  It's not nice hair either!  It's stiff and wiry like nylon.  If Ami's hair is any indication of the quality for this line, maybe it's a good thing that I was unable to land a Jupiter doll (her hair is long).  This hair is mercifully short and fairly thick.  I can see Ami's scalp right at the very top of her head where the part gaps open, but her scalp is painted black so the gap isn't terribly obvious.
In the anime Ami wears her hair parted on the left and her bangs are swept to the side.  This doll's hair is a little fluffier than Ami's should be, but other than that the style is dead on.  In spite of that I'm still mega-bummed about the hair being black.  One of my favorite things about anime is the ridiculous hair colors that crop up.  This trait is unfortunately not as prevalent in Sailor Moon as it is in other anime; out of eleven main characters, four have unnatural hair (Mercury, Saturn, Neptune, and Chibiusa), and of those four, only one (Mercury) appears in the first season.  My Ami's having black hair drops that number to three.  However, the style and the length are right, so that's a plus.

Underneath her hair Ami sports a tiny pair of ears, complete with tiny blue earrings.
In the first season of the anime these earrings are fairly important, as Ami uses one to work one of her technological gadgets.  On the doll, they're just spots of blue paint.  Nothing special, but nothing to fall off and get lost either.

Ami's other piece of jewelry is this tiara, made of gold plastic with a blue "gem" painted in.
This tiara is fairly important for the sailor senshi, because they can double as weapons when they battle, though I've only seen Sailor Moon herself do this and only during the first season.  Ami's tiara doesn't come off and it's a little crooked.  I can tolerate it being a little cockeyed if it won't fall off and get lost, but I'm not terribly tickled about that ding in the plastic.  Ami came NRFB so that had to be some sort of flub at the factory.  Nothing I can't cover with gold paint.

Ami's eyes are large like an anime character's eyes should be, and blue like her hair should be, with eyebrows in a relaxed position.
I've read online that Irwin's Sailor Moon dolls varied considerably, with some being "pretty" and some being "ugly".  The "ugly" ones have flat faces.  My Ami has a small nose that's really more of a protuberance in the vinyl than an honest-to-God and red lips that also are not molded.  Not a good sign.
These lips aren't accurate to the anime.  Sailor Moon occasionally wears makeup in the first season of the anime, and all four of the Outer Senshi wear makeup when they're in uniform, but as far as I know Sailor Mercury never does.  Nail polish, yes, but not makeup.  I love the color and shape of these lips, though.  Up close they look a little ragged, but at a normal distance they're fine.
Unfortunately, due to her extremely flat profile I believe that my Ami is indeed one of the "ugly" dolls.  She doesn't look ugly to me!  The worst critique I can muster up is that all of the characters look the same:  blandly sweet.  A blandly sweet expression is alright for the nicer characters like Ami and like Sailor Moon herself, but I'd have preferred a tougher visage for dolls like Sailor Mars (who can be a bitch) or Sailor Uranus (who flat-out IS a bitch).

Like my little Mami, Ami is clad in her magical girl uniform.
In keeping with the "sailor" title, Ami's magical girl uniform is done up like the sailor fuku so common among Japanese schoolgirls.  Not all sailor fuku are one color like the one in the link is; usually the bodice and sleeves are white, while the skirt and shoulders are plaid or some solid color.  Sailor senshi uniforms appear to be based on this.  Ami's bodice is white, while her hood and skirt are royal blue.
Said skirt and hood are both folded a little from being in a box so many years.  The hems are trimmed with gold ribbon, a touch that is not found in the anime.
The skirt has a few well-placed pleats sewn in, plus a white satin band that I guess is supposed to simulate a waistband.  The pleats are hard to photograph, but they're well-executed and nicely spaced.
Underneath the skirt Ami wears a pair of white skivvies and a white extension of the bodice that keeps her skirt in place.  Nice and modest.
Both the white and the blue fabric are knitted.  The bodice is very closely fitted to Ami's body but stretches a bit, while the blue fabric doesn't stretch at all.  The dress fastens in the back with old-style Velcro.
The bodice is trimmed with a crookedly-sewn pale blue bow and a royal blue button...
...and a matching bow in back.
I have to be extra careful with the Velcro here, as it has grabbed the bow and snagged it a bit in the past.  The ends are finished so the ribbon won't unravel completely.

The button on the front bow is a bit interesting, as in the anime this button can be either round or heart-shaped.  Either one is right, apparently.  A similar discrepancy can be found in Ami's choker, which I forgot to photograph.
It's just a simple strip of royal blue fabric.  It can be either plain or adorned with a star; again, either one is right.

All the senshi wear gloves of varying lengths, with Ami's coming to the elbow.
These are made of the same fabric as the dress and have some stretch.  The hands look more like mittens than honest-to-God gloves.  I know why the gloves are done like this, but I still think it looks clunky.

Topping off the look are these blue boots.
All of the senshi wear shoes that match or coordinate with their uniforms and inexplicably, most of the shoes have...high heels???  As active as these girls are that's hardly practical, but that's what they wear.  Ami's shoes are no exception.
The upper cuffs are painted white, and the rest of the shoe is unpainted blue plastic.
These shoes have no slit cut down the back, which is somewhat problematic for reasons that will soon be revealed.
Overall I'm mostly pleased with the way my Ami is dressed.  She's accurate to the anime and her clothes are reasonably well constructed.  The back bow can snag if treated carelessly and the front bow is crooked, but otherwise the outfit is alright.

Alright...with clothes out of the way let's take a look at this body.  This...body!!!
This is the absolute last type of body I'd expect for Sailor Mercury.  It's trim but very athletic, more like a body I'd expect Uranus or Jupiter to have.  Ami's arms and legs are much thicker than a Barbie's...
...and her feet are very big, almost as big as Monster High feet.  Thus why removing those boots is tricky without a slit.
Ami's body is very muscular in appearance, but she does have some bone structure visible.  Her chest has sculpted clavicles.
Thick vinyl limbs usually indicate stiff joints, and indeed Ami's mobility is mediocre.  She has rotating joints at her shoulders, hips, and neck, plus internal click knees, but the range of motion isn't great.  Ami's neck can only rotate.  I wish it could tip too, but it doesn't.
Being thick vinyl against hard plastic, the hip joints have a lot of friction.  Ami can get into positions that my other dolls can, like so...
...but I have a very hard time getting her hips to cooperate.  The knees are not particularly flexible either; this is the extent of their mobility.
Two clicks.  Not great, but better than no joint at all.

Ami's torso is smaller than the average Barbie body so I have my doubts about clothes sharing.  But just for the heck of it I'm going to try it anyway.  I'll start with the outfit that my Fashion Fever doll was wearing.
That's not a very promising start!  The shirt fits, but the jeans are too tight.  They almost made it all the way up, but when one's drawers are peeking out almost doesn't cut the mustard.  So my Barbie jeans and pants are out.  Good thing I have tons of dresses!  This one is from Olivia's Doll Closet.
This one is loose around the waist, but it fits Ami without a fuss.  Much to my chagrin the seams are beginning to pull apart in places.

This next dress is one I use a lot for dolls that have little to wear.  Right now one of my old Starr dolls is using it, but she's willing to let Ami borrow it.
Okay, I lied.  It's really a skirt and top, not a dress.  It fits Ami pretty well, though.  The black tube top underneath was a bit of a squeeze, but the skirt and outer top were no trouble at all.

Starr's friend Kelley usually wears this next outfit.
This too fits without a lot of problems, though the sleeves are a bit tight.  The skirt, by contrast, is a little loose at the waist but not ridiculously so.

Last dress for the time being is an Etsy find, one that I usually put on Princess Tiana.
Ami rocks it just like Tiana does!  It's a little loose around the shoulders, but not terribly so.  If I'm ever in the mood to redress Ami she'll probably get this.  All she needs are shoes.

Oh yes, shoes!  I was worried about shoes for Ami since such a highly arched foot can look a little silly without shoes.  Monster High to the rescue.
I don't know if all MH shoes will fit Ami, but Operetta's mules are a near-perfect fit.  So we've established that Ami can wear some clothes intended for other dolls.  Unfortunately the opposite is not true.  Barbie and Tiana couldn't wear Ami's uniform, and neither could Starr or her friend Kelley.  It was too tight for all of them.

Just for kicks, here's how Ami compares visually to my other anime doll, Mami.  It's Tokyo versus Mitakihara City!
Needless to say these two will not be swapping uniforms.  According to their respective wiki pages, Mami should be about 5'1" and aged fifteen, while Ami should be about 5'2" and aged fourteen.  When I pair these two together Ami towers over Mami.  They make a visually interesting pair though, with one being dominantly blue and the other being dominantly yellow.

Time to sum it up now!

*Hair is low-quality, thin around the part, and the wrong friggin' color.  Ami's hair is supposed to be blue.  Not black, blue.  BLUE, BLUE, BLUE!!!
*Tiara is off-center and missing paint
*Front bow is crooked
*Both bows can snag on the Velcro if not treated with care.
*Shoes are hard to get off.
*Stiff body

*Accurate portrayal of the character.  Sailor Moon fans can tell at a glance that this is Sailor Mercury.
*Hair may not be the right color, but it IS the right style.
*Cute face
*Clothing is well-constructed and attractive
*Shoes don't fall off.
*This doll can stand on her own if balanced properly.  I forgot to mention that above.
*Can wear some clothes and shoes meant for other dolls.

I'll admit it:  reviewing Ami wasn't as fun as reviewing Lime Chiffon was last week.  That's not to say that it's not fun owning Ami.  On the contrary, I love having this bookish little sailor senshi around!  Ami is cute and mostly accurate for the anime, and her clothes are well-made.  Redressing her WAS fun; I always enjoy playing Dolly Dress Shuffle.  However, I wish her hair were blue.  I don't know if a reroot is possible with these dolls but if it is then that may be in my girl's future.  Also, Ami is very, VERY stiff.  Her hips joints are hard to manipulate, her knees have a poor range of motion, and her arms only rotate at the shoulder.  Now that I think about it, I realize that the jointing is what bothers me the most about Ami; she's a sailor senshi, and sailor senshi are very active.  Thus I'd expect a doll based on an active character to have more joints so she can strike more poses.  It would've been great if this doll had had enough joints to strike her...well, I call it her attack pose, the pose each girl strikes when her transformation from regular girl to magical girl is complete.  This is what Ami's attack pose looks like.
My stiff little doll has no hope of striking this pose and I think that's a shame, but in my Ami's defense, very few of my other dolls can strike that pose.  My Monster High dolls probably could, and my Made to Move Barbie definitely could, but that's it!  So I should probably cut Ami some slack.  She looks cute with Mami, even if the two are massively out of scale.  And I love having a doll that looks like one of my favorite senshi!  



  1. Cute review, Sarah! You know I'm a big Sailor Moon fan! These "ugly" dolls came out when I was a bit too young, but I do have the "pretty" version of Sailor Neptune. At one point I had nearly all the senshi/scouts both 16" and 12". I really love seeing Amy/Ami in all the different fashions but naturally I think her fuku/uniform suits her best. If you want to look on the secondary market, a "pretty" version of Mercury should be easy to find. You'll be pleased to know she also has the anime accurate blue hair. :)

    1. Good ol' Neptune...I'd love to just slap her, she's so cotton-pickin' perfect. LOL, I'd love to see your doll though. I think the Neptune dolls have some of the best hair. I'm surprised you don't still have Saturn!

      I did see a blue-haired Ami very recently, as you said. I may get her...I haven't decided yet.

  2. I had trouble enjoying the Sailor Moon series until I found the manga. I think Jupiter is my favorite, also. (Ugh her endless "blah blah my ex-boyfriend" thing in the DiC dub was *tiresome*! I was surprised how much I liked her when I discovered the manga!) She's such an interesting study of contrasts. As one of my friends described her: "look like Barbie, punch like GI Joe!" I don't have any of the dolls, but I do have the Jupiter Figuarts figure, which is just amazingly done.

    Wow though, I am amazed at how big the doll's feet are! Be warned, I've seen a few Sailor dolls on the secondary market minus their tiaras- and there are pegs helping hold them on there. Lose the tiara, and your doll's got a hole or two in her head!

    1. Oh my, thanks for the warning about the holes; the absolute last thing I want for Ami is a hole in her head with nothing in it! She's got a lot of glue underneath her tiara so I doubt it'll be going anywhere, but that's good to know nonetheless.

      I could write a term paper on all the problems with the DiC dub. The voice acting is good, but the doctoring of the last battle in the first season is outrageous. And I don't understand that "Haruka and Michiru are cousins" thing either. They are so obviously not!!!

    2. "Cousins", lol. Yeah, that just made their relationship WEIRD.