Last year Ghoulia13 and I each purchased a couple of dolls from YouDolls. YouDolls are customizable 1:6 scale fashion dolls. They began as a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015, and were subsequently produced by MacMillan Toys. When I purchased my YouDolls I was so behind in blogging that I put them aside with the intention of reviewing them. Needless to say, they are still in their boxes.
As I mentioned above, YouDolls are customizable – to a point. Unlike completely customizable dolls such as Makies, which allowed buyers to customize facial features, YouDolls all come with the same face. It’s a pretty, girl-next-door kind of face with a pleasant facial expression that doesn’t go overboard on makeup. For $39.99, customers on the YouDolls website could choose a doll with a variety of skin tones, eye colors, and hair styles. However, they couldn’t combine a particular hair color or style with a particular skin tone and eye color. Instead, customers had to choose from fifty different pre-produced combinations of skin tone, hair color, hair length, and eye color. It certainly had more options than, say, Create-a-Bratz, but it still limited the possible combinations of hair color and hair styles. For example, I wanted a redhead with blue eyes and long straight hair with bangs. YouDolls only has four redheads out of the fifty choices. All of them have long wavy hair and no bangs. Three of them have fair skin, one each with brown, blue, and green eyes; and the fourth has green eyes with the medium skin tone. The blonde and brunette hair colors come with long straight hair with either bangs or no bangs, but the short and medium hair styles are all straight with no bangs. If you want an edgier YouDoll you can get one with pink hair, but only in the fair skin tone, with blue eyes and with straight long hair and no bangs. To get an idea of the choices available, here is a screenshot from the YouDolls website of some of the options.
Despite the customization restrictions, however, YouDolls does a commendable job of representing diversity. Once the doll selection was made, customers chose an outfit and an accessories pack for their doll. The clothing looked like clothes real people would wear rather than the ridiculous fashions some dolls come with. There were options for dressy, casual, and sporty styles. The doll came in a presentation box featuring a backdrop that customers also chose from a number of options. The final touch? You got to name your doll.
Despite not yet having opened my two YouDolls, I decided I wanted the doll with pink hair. So I went to the website and chose my doll, outfit, accessories pack, and backdrop. I even named her Pinkie. But when I hit the Checkout button, I got a message saying the website’s checkout feature was disabled. I searched Google to see if YouDolls were discontinued, but I didn’t find any information about that. I did, however, discover the YouDolls Box, a monthly subscription box for YouDolls. I don’t know what happened exactly with YouDolls, but if I had to guess I’d say they went out of business and are selling off their remaining dolls through the subscription box service.
Offered by the subscription-box company Cratejoy, subscribers can choose to receive dolls from one of the three skin tones or a combination of all three. Other than that, they have no choice as to which doll they receive. The doll is dressed and comes with some clothing and accessories, all in a generic box. The website says customers will receive “a brand new looking doll.” I don’t think this means they’re used dolls, I think it means that they’re probably surplus so they’re not packaged like new, never-removed-from-box dolls. The subscription box costs $25 rather than the $39.99 price for the YouDolls in the fancy box.
When my first doll arrived, I could see that the promo photo did not lie – it came in a plain shipping box with a YouDolls sticker slapped on it. It’s a far cry from the pretty presentation box that my first YouDolls came in.
The promo photo for the YouDoll Box shows some of the accessories that come with the doll. It shows eight pieces, but it shows the shoes separately. I received seven accessories, plus the shoes (which are fabulous!), which were on the doll when it came.
A laptop computer
A flat-screen t.v.
A fashion magazine
A wristlet purse that matches the dress the doll came in
A slice of cake
A hair dryer
I already have the suitcase and the laptop from my first YouDoll, and I received a flatscreen t.v. as a freebie with it. I expect I’ll get more duplicate accessories with future YouDolls boxes as they use up their remaining accessories.
Now on to the doll itself. Once I took the doll out of the box, I was surprised at how lightweight it is. The torso is one solid piece, and the arms and legs are articulated. The articulation is clumsy, with limited range of motion. The shoulder joints have the ball shape that allows the arms to move out as well as up.
However, the elbow joints don’t allow the arms to move inwards too well. This doll can’t pass my articulation test, in which I put the doll’s hands over its mouth in mock surprise or horror. This is the best she could do:
The body reminds me of the cheap generic Chinese fashion dolls one buys from Ali Express. I was a tad disappointed. At least she can use her hair dryer.
Here she is enjoying some of the other accessories she came with.
YouDolls were a great idea that, sadly, couldn’t make an impact in the highly competitive fashion doll market. With their wholesome appearance and a wardrobe refreshingly lacking in bright pink and glitter, they were a positive alternative to many established fashion doll lines. I’m sure many little girls had a great experience picking out their dolls and outfits from the original YouDolls website. The YouDolls Box would make a great gift for little girls who would enjoy receiving a surprise doll every month. However, the body is cheap, and adult collectors might be disappointed. I’m not sure that even the reduced price of $25 is justified. I wonder if YouDolls are making more dolls just for the YouDolls Box, or if eventually the YouDolls Box will disappear once their supply of existing dolls is depleted.
I subscribed to the YouDolls box because I saw it as a great way to build my YouDolls collection. However, seeing the quality of the body, I think I’ll just get one or two more, mostly in the hope of getting a few more clothing items. As the Cratejoy website says, I can cancel at any time. But I have my fingers crossed that I’ll get the YouDoll with the pink hair in one of my boxes. I can always put their heads on Made-to-Move Barbie bodies.
Do you have a YouDoll? What do you think of it?