Thursday, July 15th, 2010...1:21 pm

TakaraTomy’s Jenny Doll Returns in 2010

Jump to Comments

I was very excited this week to discover that Takara Tomy of Japan has a brand new Jenny website, just in time for her 25th anniversary.

The Jenny doll is Takara’s Barbie-equivalent… only she’s not, really, because the premier Japanese fashion doll (the one as ubiquitous in Japan as Barbie is in America) is Licca-chan, also by Takara. Licca has been beloved by little girls in Japan since 1967. Meanwhile, Jenny came on the scene some 20 years later, and was initially sold as Takara Barbie under license from Mattel. Licca is occasionally imported overseas as “Lisa”; Jenny hasn’t had that kind of luck, at least as a playline doll.

Over the years, Takara has seemed at a loss as to what to do with Jenny. There have been a few attempts to revive her as a playline doll (Angel’s Garden, which was anime-inspired; Fashion Station, which focussed on modern fashion), and many attempts to market her to collectors. They’ve done collaborations with lolita fashion brands! They’ve come out with monthly themed Calender Girl dolls (the last of which was cancelled, allegedly due to copyright issues over Rose of Versailles)! They did work uniforms, historical fashions, school uniforms, anything that might appeal to adult collectors. Transformers fans who remember Sports Label (Optimus Prime and Megatron transform into NIKE Sneakers! With real laces!) may recognize a pattern.

Judging from their own timeline, it looks like Jenny disappeared from the market around 2007. But she’s back, for her 25th anniversary!

I desperately wish that the Jenny website wasn’t so Flash-centric. Jenny’s Fashion History is a marvel, highlighting some of Jenny’s takes on then-contemporary fashion. I gasped as I recognized some dolls that my sister and I had owned.

There’s also the History of Jenny’s Faces and Bodies. I really hope that Takara is considering publishing a definitive Book of Jenny for her 25th Anniversary, because some of this stuff is too good to lose when they next shut down and revamp the Jenny website. Until I read this history, I had never realized that the Angel’s Garden Jenny doll had angel wings in her eye-print! Both the Fashion History and Face/Body History pages are written in a style indicating that they’re aimed at adult (well, teen-and-up) readers rather than small children, which raises my hopes that they might produce a collector-oriented tome in the near future.

Here’s a sad bit of trivia: In 2006, they did a big picture of all of Jenny’s friends for her 20th anniversary, including several who are simply “Jenny Friend” due to licensing issues related to the name. (I believe this includes Juliana, who was named for a London nightclub, and Chelsea, who shares a name with a Japanese brand of caramels.)

Now, in the year 2010, in preparation for her 25th anniversary, all they have added are her two new friends from the new playline. That’s it.

So what about this new playline? Well, the Love Jenny playline includes four dolls, each with her own gimmick.

Jenny has clip-on hair extensions. Her official style is “Cool”, which is “based on LA fashion, which uses casual items such as t-shirts and denim, adding punchy elements such as skull motifs”. This is a callback to the doll’s original concept; Jenny is supposedly from LA, so it makes sense that this would be reflected in her fashion style.

Mirai is one of two new friends.
EDIT: My mistake – According to Jenny’s, Mirai was first introduced in 2007.
She comes with pens so you can streak her hair blue or pink, and draw on her. She’s a modern girl from Tokyo whose hobbies include collecting cosmetics, listening to music, and karaoke. Her favorite colors are emerald green and blue, and her fashion style is Pop Casual (colorful, happy). Basically, she dresses like I did around age 12.

Jessica is the other new friend, and I’m still trying to decide whether the fact that she’s from New York means that she’s some oblique attempt to cash in on “Sex In the City”. Jessica’s interests include shopping for clothes for her beloved dog, dancing, and the colors pink and black. Her fashion style is Hime-Gyaru (Princess Gal), which is “aggressive minx-type fashion, preferring princess motifs like ribbons and roses”. Her toy gimmick is that you can set her hair in curlers (or twist it around your finger for a minute) and it will hold gentle curls and waves.

Ayano is from Tokyo, loves Kira-Kawa (Sparkle-Cute) deco, nail art, and making sweets. She’s the token sweet girly girl who loves light pink, blue, and white… basically, she is the doll I would have wanted at age 12. (I was slow in giving up childish things.) Her play gimmick is more Kira-Kawa deco, letting you decorate her hair and face. Her fashion style is officially Love-Kawa (Lovely Cute) style, a girly style that incorporates frills, lace, ribbons, flowers, and hearts.

And finally we have Shion. Shion debuted in the first year of the Fashion Station line, where she was the representative for cool chic fashion. In the second year, she inexplicably became the new spokesmodel for Sweet Bambino, the sweet girly fashion house. This time around, they’ve put her back in her element by giving her “Big Sister” fashions, which feature “elegant silhouettes with feminine colors such as white and purple, and airy skirts and blouses”.

Now, several times I’ve wanted to snark at the play patterns for these dolls with a snide “Oh, I’m sure moms are going to LOVE that.” Scribble all over dolly’s face and hair! Stick bling on dolly, and probably mommy’s things while you’re at it! But Shion, I feel, takes the cake.

Shion’s gimmick is that you can give her an “airy cut” (a shaggy cut, created by thinning out her hair to make it less “heavy”) “just by combing her hair!” Given that Shion comes with a mat for when you’re giving her an airy cut, I’m pretty sure that means the comb is actually cutting the hair, probably via an embedded razor blade. Unless Takara has taken steps to make sure this can’t be used on little kids’ hair, I can easily imagine some scary situations. Let’s hope the cutting-edge in that comb is very securely fastened.

Comments are closed.