This is a guest post from JGKelsey.
Barnes and Noble has decided to vie for your hard earned dollars this holiday season by introducing a new line of 18” dolls exclusive to them. The Espari line, made by Lotus, has four dolls: Kayumi, Annalyn, Marnie, and Lily Ria. They are designed to promote the uniqueness of every girl. The retail for $59.99 and can be ordered online or found in most stores.
The Espari dolls look very similar to the Journey Girls dolls sold by Toys R Us. I decided to purchase Kayumi to see how the Espari dolls compared to the Journey Girls and American Girl dolls. Kayumi has blond rooted hair and bright blue fixed eyes. She comes in a pink tulle/taffeta frilled gown, with a gold purse, and pink plastic sparkly shoes. Like the Journey Girls she has a vinyl breastplate and cloth body. She has five points of articulation; her neck, shoulders, and hips. The joints are ball joint, but not a full ball like Kidz N Cats.
Once Kayumi was out of her box I noticed that the back of her gown only had a piece of Velcro at the waist and then was open all the way down. The gown is removable, revealing a pink knee length satin dress underneath. This is one of the things that is unique to the Espari dolls. The outfits have elements that are removable or reversible. So each outfit has a few different designs built into it.
Kayumi looks very similar to Meredith of the Journey Girls. At first glance the faces almost look like they are from the same mold. But from the side the differences in the molds can be seen. Kayumi has bigger eyes that are set lower on her face. Her lips are open rather than closed. And her jawline isn’t quite as pronounced. I like her face. It is very similar to the Journey Girls faces, which I think are very cute. Kayumi’s eyes are a little crossed. I looked at five dolls (which means I went to two different stores…each store only has two or three of each doll) and this was the best of all of them. A little disappointing especially since they are fixed eyes, not sleepy eyes, like American Girl dolls.
Kayumi’s joints are all stiff. Her head was very hard to turn at first and was impossible to tilt. After awhile it became easier to turn her head, but tilting it was still a bit of a challenge. It is wonderful to be able to tilt Kayumi’s head, especially for photos. Her shoulder joints were also stiff, but not hard to move. There is more movement in them than Journey Girls should joints, and an equal amount of movement as American Girls. American Girl dolls have more rotation than Kayumi, but they arms go out to the side to the same height.
Kayumi, unfortunately, has a similar hip joint to the latest Journey Girl, Mikaella. Kayumi’s joints are even worse because they are at the bottom of her torso rather than on the side, like Mikaella’s. This means that Kayumi does the splits to sit. Even with her legs as wide as they can go, she still cannot sit without using her arms to support herself. If Kayumi is only going to stand it’s not a big deal, but if she ever wants to sit and play games or have a picnic, not so good!
Kayumi is thinner, like the Journey Girls. This means that American Girl clothes are a little big on her. It also means that Kayumi’s clothes don’t quite fit American Girl dolls. I was able to put her dress on Gabriella, but it didn’t Velcro shut all the way, and it was a tight squeeze. Kayumi’s shoes fit Gabriella, but only because the plastic was soft enough for Gabriella’s toe to stick out.
Barnes and Noble has come up with a very cute doll in Kayumi, along with the other Espari dolls. She has a gorgeous face, with beautiful eyes, a very cute and versatile gown, and quality vinyl. Her leg joints are horrendous and are a surprise at this price point. Even with her faults I am glad that Kayumi joined my collection. You’ll have to decide for yourself, if she, or her fellow Espari dolls, join your collection this holiday season.
You can see even more photos and commentary on these dolls at JGKelsey’s site, My Journey Girl Adventures.