I haven't done this warning in a bit, but this review will include pictures of an undressed doll with a developed figure later on in the post. If this offends you in any way, you might want to skip it. :)
This is a post that has been in the works since early August. I first heard about the Project MC2 dolls this past summer when I came across some stock photos someone had shared on Flickr. I loved the dolls' faces and was excited to discover they were produced by MGA Entertainment, the same company who made the Moxie Teenz dolls I loved so much (and also Lalaloopsies, on a completely unrelated side note). ;) McKeyla was my favorite, partially because her eyes were almost the same color as mine, and partially because I thought she might make a great younger sister for my Moxie Teenz Tristen doll.
I found McKeyla at my local Target in August. I got her home, deboxed her, and started taking a ton of pictures for my review post. Then, before I was finished, my bloggy friend Emily over at The Toy Box Philosopher did her own wonderful review of McKeyla, which you can read HERE. This tends to happen to the two of us every once in a while since we have such similar interests. ;)
Be sure to check out her post. It's well-written and full of more scientific knowledge than I could ever hope to include in anything I write. ;) (I'll admit it...I pretty much got this doll because I thought she was cute, not for the scientific aspect.) :}
I decided to wait on my post for a while. Then school started, and my Skinny Jeans course at the gym started, and the next thing I knew it was November and I still hadn't gotten the post up...until now.
So, now that I've gotten all of that exposition out of the way, let's get on to the review! :)
The Project MC2 dolls all share a scientific, "studious is cool" theme. Each of the four characters have a different set of interests, and each doll comes with a simple science project for kids to try.
Here's McKeyla, still in her package.
Her accessories (more on those in a bit).
Box details from the front:
As you can see, she comes with a DIY lava lamp.
The top and sides of the box, with lots of school and science-themed decorations. You'll also notice the doll line's motto, "Smart is the new Cool":
Each of the doll's boxes have elements from the periodic table that form little messages, such as oxygen magnesium for "OMG". I really don't care for this phrase as I don't like using God's name that way, even in abbreviated form. And now I'm really hoping that these actually are elements (sorry, Mr. P, high school chemistry was a long time ago). ;)
Again, if you're looking for a more scientific angle on this review, check out Emily's. I read hers and instantly realized my scientific inferiority. ;) (P.S. I'll probably refer to Emily a bit in this review because we shared some similar thoughts on some things. However, I purposely didn't reread her whole review before posting this so my thoughts would be fresh and my own.) :)
The back of the box is quite busy.
First, we have McKeyla's profile picture, featuring a photo of the actress who played her in the corresponding Netflix miniseries (more on that later in the post). We also have her catch phrase, "I'm smart, get over it!"
On a side note, I wish toy companies would feel they could encourage girls' interest in using their brains without encouraging them to be rude about it. :(
McKeyla's bio from the back of the box. It's a little trendy for me, but like I said, I pretty much bought the doll because I liked her face, not because I fell in love with her predetermined personality or couldn't wait to try out her lava lamp experiment. ;)
Speaking of which, the back of the box also shares simple step-by-step instructions for making the lava lamp.
At the bottom of the box is a picture of all four dolls. As is often the case with stock photos, the dolls themselves look fairly different from these photos. And even in their actual doll form, none of them look all that much like the actresses who portray them, aside from Adrienne. Camryn is the most different in doll form. I thought she was Hispanic until I saw the picture of the actress portraying her, who is of Asian descent. I wish they could have gotten Camryn's doll to look a little more like her. That being said, all four dolls are stunning in person. They have such sweet, expressive faces, especially McKeyla and Bryden.
The Project MC2 logo.
The back of the box had this punch out section that I thought might help me open the package.
It didn't end up being all that helpful.
However, I was able to get the clear plastic cover off fairly easily.
She's so pretty! :D
But oh my goodness...this doll was hard to get out of the packaging! As I struggled with plastic tie after plastic tie threaded through her hair to numerous pieces of clear plastic casing, I flashed back to opening my Moxie Teenz and how long it took me to get them out of the packages. Ugh. Not fun.
She had a band around one wrist...
...clear plastic around the other...
...and one section of hair sewn to her jacket.
After a while, I finally freed her from all of the thread, plastic, and more, and she was out of the box! :)
The first thing I noticed, which caused a bit of concern, was the amount of hair that was coming out of her scalp. :(
Never a good sign.
I also noticed that the one strand of hair that had been attached to her clothing was stiff and crunchy with gel.
And then I noticed this, which caused even more alarm. Her right arm was unattached at the elbow!
The forearm had a little peg at the elbow...
...and her upper arm had a hole for the peg to fit into.
So thankfully, I was able to fix her arm fairly easily. I'm not sure if these dolls are designed to come apart, or if mine just had a faulty joint.
McKeyla has a lovely face that is wonderfully photogenic. I love the unique color of her eyes. It's close to mine, although mine have a bit more gray added to the green. :)
McKeyla had a hard time standing up on her own. Part of this was her hair and part of it was her design. I'll go into that a little more in a bit.
McKeyla from the back. Her hair is super long. Unfortunately, it's not the greatest quality. I didn't get a chance to play with it much, but I have no doubt it would turn to a tangled mess pretty quickly.
Let's take a look at McKeyla from head to toe. :)
On her head is a fuzzy black fedora. Oddly enough, she appears to be wearing it sideways. Unless that's a new trend I don't know about. ;) Maybe we're supposed to be wearing them sideways now. Or, if she's a hipster, maybe wearing her fedora the usual way is too mainstream. ;)
Another look at the fedora with slightly different lighting. You can see part of one of the plastic ties that attaches the fedora to her head. (Why, MGA, why?)
The bottom of the fedora is not flocked like the top.
We have to pause a moment and get another good look at this gal's sweet face. I love her pretty eyes, "real" lashes, and the light spattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks.
Her outfit consists of a cute owl shirt, a denim and leather-look jacket, and a pair of extremely short overall shorts.
She has an MC2 ring to go with the theme.
The ring comes out, leaving a rather messy hole in her hand.
The ring, like most fashion doll rings, is just a square with a peg at the back that fits into the hole.
McKeyla also has light gray patterned leggings and red boots.
The leggings end at the ankles. And just FYI, it's super hard to get the boots back on over these things once you take them off! :(
Her boots are super cute. I forgot to get a picture here, but in the earlier picture that shows McKeyla from the back, you can see that MGA put slits in the back of the boots to make them easier to get on and off.
Here's the outfit without the jacket.
The owl shirt is pretty adorable, although the owl looks slightly perturbed. ;) Emily's doll's version of this shirt had the glasses in a rather inconvenient spot, but as you can see, this doll's shirt has better placement.
The overall straps are very thin and stiff, so they stay in place with little problem.
Her overalls are also extremely short, and the hem of the shorts likes to get caught in her odd hip joints, which is a bit of a pain.
McKeyla comes with instructions and several accessories.
Here are the instruction pages, which include more details on the lava lamp experiment:
McKeyla also comes with a rubbery-plastic backpack, a plastic composition book, and a plastic tablet.
The backpack is cute and has nice paint detail.
It has straps at the back that fit nicely over McKeyla's shoulders...
...like so. ;)
A view from the back.
The backpack opens and has a post and hole to keep it closed when needed.
The composition book from the front...
...and the back.
It hinges open and has an empty slot for the tablet to fit inside (this is part of the plot in the corresponding Netflix miniseries).
It fits perfectly inside.
I thought it was a shame, however, that the notebook would not fit inside the backpack. You'd think it would have been designed to fit. When I first opened everything, I assumed the whole reason the backpack could open was so the notebook could fit inside. Apparently not.
McKeyla comes with this blue test tube comb...which I would NOT recommend using on her hair. ;)
She also came with a plastic stand.
It has the MC2 theme on the base.
Since the stand itself is just a plastic rod, it's not the best doll stand I've ever used, but it works better than I expected it to.
As you can see from the previous pictures, I decided to remove McKeyla's hat. (I changed her pants, too, but I'll share more on that in a bit.) Removing her hat was not an easy task. It's been a while since I deboxed her, so I'm having a hard time remembering what I did. The plastic ties were so tight that I couldn't figure out a way to cut them off without messing up the hat. I'm thinking that I may have pulled the hat off without cutting the ties, but that seems unlikely. Anyway, the point is, I managed to get the hat off.
The plastic ties from the fedora were still in her head, and it was super hard to cut them out without cutting her hair, too. I managed to pull it off, though. I am really looking forward to the day when doll companies decide to stop putting these things in doll heads.
She's even prettier without her hat. :)
A closer look at her eyes and freckles from the front...
...and the side.
Now that they're exposed, here's a look at her cute, understated ears.
Her head had less mobility than I expected. It turned back and forth.
It could tilt from side...
...to side, but no farther than this. I couldn't get her to look up or down at all. I found it interesting that Emily's version of McKeyla had a much better range of motion in her head, so I'm wondering if this varies from doll to doll.
One of the things that surprised me the most about this doll and was also a pretty big disappointment was the cheap feel of her plastic. She is all hard plastic, firm enough to feel solid instead of hollow, but light enough to feel poorly made. I hate to even say that, but when I held her, she felt like a doll that was not sturdy and would not last.
As I did the minimal posing required for this post, her joints would loosen, as pictured above. I was able to correct this, but the fact that it was happening at all concerned me.
Still, I love her sculpt. The hands are nice...
...and the feet, too.
Her knees have an interesting articulation.
A view from the back.
While they can bend nicely for a sitting position...
...she is nowhere near able to sit on her knees. This is as close as I could get her to it.
She also is not able to sit up very straight, but this is mostly because of her shorts and the way they interfere with her hip joints.
When I undressed her, she was able to sit a little straighter.
She does fairly nice sideways splits in clothing. (Pardon the change of outfit...more explanation of that later.) :)
I decided to move on and do my usual pictures of different poses.
And that's when the trouble with her elbow began again. Throughout this photo shoot, almost every time I moved her right arm, the forearm fell off. It got very frustrating.
Still, I pushed through and got some great pictures:
Seriously, this doll cannot take a bad photo. ;)
I decided I'd go ahead and undress McKeyla and get a better look at her articulation. Her sculpt isn't bad appearance-wise, although like most fashion dolls out there, she's pretty skinny.
Because of her light plastic body and the weight of her hair, she tips over really easily.
I was able to get her to stand with a bit of support from the cardboard backdrop behind her.
McKeyla from the back.
Without her clothing, she has a bit more flexibility.
She can do sideways splits.
Front to back splits, not so much. ;) It's basically the design of her hip joint and the way the her bottom curves around her hip that prevents her leg from going back.
And yes, I put her in a princess dress, 'cause that's how I roll. ;) I love making my dolls a little more feminine and delicate. This is a Disney Store Rapunzel dress that really brings out the green in her eyes. She could almost pass as Melody (Ariel's daughter) in this.
The dress is a bit gappy in the bodice, but it works.
I decided to try her in a high-necked Barbie dress, too.
Again, it's a bit gappy at the top, but it's doable. Especially with the higher neckline.
Next, I thought I'd try out some LIV clothes on her. I love how this outfit looks.
Especially with the bandana.
I decided to go back to her original shirt but keep the longer, more modest bottoms for the rest of the review. :)
When I first saw these dolls, I imagined them to be about the same size as Barbie dolls. But they're actually a bit shorter. I apologize that I don't have the actual height of the doll. (Again, check Emily's post because I'm sure she included that.) However, I did take just a few comparison photos with some of my other fashion dolls.
Here's McKeyla next to one of my LIV Daniela dolls.
And here she is next to my Moxie Teenz Tristen. I was really hoping these two would make good sisters. However, seeing them together changed my mind. They're just the wrong scale for each other. Height-wise, McKeyla would have to be about eight or nine years old.
But McKeyla's face is much more mature than that of an eight or nine-year-old. I did find the differences and similarities in these two faces interesting.
Here the two are with my Moxie Teenz Gavin doll. Tristen and Gavin are sister and brother in my doll universe. :)
So, as much as I love all three dolls, I decided that I wouldn't have McKeyla join my Moxie Teenz family. It's just not quite the right fit. ;)
"Need a hand with this review?"
And then her arm came off yet again, reminding me of more pressing problems than conflicting scales. :(
I popped her forearm in again and then noticed the look of her elbow joint. It didn't look like it was going to hold out forever. The plastic looked like it might split.
I noticed similar issues in her wrist joints:
Her left wrist had a split that was starting to affect her wrist mobility.
It would be one thing if it was just a matter of popping her limbs back in place, which would be annoying but doable. I just didn't like the look of those joints, and I figured it would be better to return her before it was too late.
Because I decided to return her, I can't demonstrate the lava lamp or check on how tall she is or anything else. I was super sad to part with this doll but it seemed like the smart thing to do. :(
Before I move on to my ratings, I wanted to briefly mention that the dolls have a corresponding three-part Netflix miniseries, also called Project MC2. I'm not going to spend too much time on the miniseries, but I will share just a few thoughts.
I think the idea behind the miniseries is good. Getting girls interested in science and technology is a great idea. However, I hope I don't sound like a total snob, but I personally found the show itself pretty painful to watch. For one thing, the acting was horribly stilted and unnatural, full of overacting, awkward pauses, and odd facial expressions. I actually found myself cringing during a lot of it.
For another thing, and I'm going to totally date myself here, but I really don't get the point of talking in hashtags...or any of the other "cool" cutesy talk used in this series. And honestly, I'm not interested in having my girls walking around saying "hashtag amazeblogs", or "totes adorbs". Maybe I'm just getting old and unable to relate to tweens. I don't think my oldest or any of her friends talk that way, though, and I'd rather not have them start.
Okay, so those last two complaints are a bit on the petty side. On a more serious note, I had a problem with the portrayal of the male characters in this series. I've noticed a disappointing trend in today's entertainment. In order to create strong female characters, the screenwriters seem to feel the need to dumb down the male characters, especially in family shows. This one was no different. The prince character in this series was a spoiled, selfish young man with no thought of anyone but himself. And yes, he changes in the end, but still. I get that we need to get rid of the cardboard cutout prince charming portrayal, but do we always have to swing to the other side of the spectrum? Does every man have to be either evil, stupid, or annoying? In so many of today's sitcoms, those seem to be the choices we get for our male characters. Couldn't there just be a normal guy who is nice overall with an odd hobby or a weird quirk on the side?
I also was not impressed with Cam's dad at one specific point in the story. After Cam's dad shared concerns with Cam and Bryden over weird activity going on at his place of employment, Bryden (the techie of the group) offered to hack into the company's security system to see if they could find anything suspicious. Cam's dad assured her that she couldn't get into the system, but she hacked it in a matter of seconds (slightly unrealistic, but we'll ignore that for now). His response? "Man, you're good at that!" Then they proceeded to look over the footage.
Um, does anyone else see a problem with this? He did tell the girls he was going to talk to security at the end of the scene, but don't you think he'd have some sort of repercussions from allowing a minor to hack into his company's security footage? Just sayin'.
It's been a long time since I watched the whole thing, and I only rewatched the first episode for this review, so that's all I'm going to say about the show at this point. It had some cute parts, but overall I didn't find it all that appealing. I decided it was not something my girls needed to watch.
I realize a lot of you may think I'm being overly picky about this whole thing. I mean, it is a kids' show, after all. But the way I see it, if there are movies out there like Inside Out, Tangled, Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon, or TV shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, with great storytelling and awesome acting that I can truly enjoy with my daughters, why waste my time and their eyeballs on stuff that is less-than-stellar? There are only so many hours in the day. I want to use them well.
As far as getting my girls interested in science, they have some pretty awesome science teachers at school that are making science fun. And they don't even speak in hashtags. ;)
All right, ranting over. Honest. :}
P.S. You are perfectly free to disagree with my ideas on this. Each of us have to pick our parenting battles in our own homes. ;)
All righty, it's time to take an overall look at my poor little McKeyla.
In spite of all of her issues, McKeyla has some great features, especially the detail in her face. Her outfit is pretty cute, too, aside from the too-short shorts that get stuck in her hip joints. ;) I'm docking a point for her poorly-designed body and low-quality hair.
Posability: 3 out of 5
Sadly, I have to go pretty low on this particular doll for her posability. In fairness to the doll line, if mine was simply defective and I was able to review one with an arm that stayed in place, I'd give her a 4 out of 5, because she does have some nice posability in her arms.
Playability: 3 out of 5
According to Amazon.com, the recommended age for these dolls is ages six through twelve. To be honest, I would not purchase this doll for my seven-year-old. These dolls would be much too fragile with their cheaper plastic and dainty joints for her to play with without breaking. Even my nine and eleven-year-olds, who are more careful with their things, would be frustrated by the quality of this doll. Her hair would also not lend itself to rigorous playtime.
Price: 3 out of 5
I hate doing all of these threes, but I honestly can't see spending $25 on a doll that is so poorly made. I think at this point I'd rather spend the $14 on one of the simpler dolls with straight arms and legs, although I'd miss the extra articulation of the more expensive dolls. Perhaps the less articulated dolls would be sturdier, though.
Bonus Category (up to 5 points available): 3
I'm starting something new with my review posts, a bonus category. Because here's the thing. Even with my low ratings and all the issues I had with this doll, I loved her. This was probably the hardest doll I've ever had to give up. I completely fell in love with her beautiful face and delicate features. I loved how photogenic she was. And to be honest, even though I realize I run the risk of facing some of the same issues, I've been tempted to buy another one. I'd debox her, redress her, and leave her on display somewhere so her arms would hopefully stay in place. It's tempting, but the fact that I'm running out of space and trying to be wise with my doll budget makes me hesitate to give in. While I struggle over the decision, I'm giving her 3 bonus points for capturing my heart in such a way.
I think that the Project MC2 line has such great potential, and I would love to see MGA redesign the bodies to make them stronger and more durable. Better quality hair would be wonderful, too. These dolls are so lovely, and the idea of promoting science, technology, engineering, art, and math through a doll line is brilliant. However, at this time, much to my regret, I can't fully recommend them.
But I still want to get another McKeyla. Silly me. :}