I've only been on eBay for a short time, and perhaps like many of you, I started out looking for one thing and that opened up about a hundred others. I used to collect Japanese toys in the 80's and remember seeing these beautiful dolls. They attracted my attention because they were so unlike the Barbie's that I grew up seeing. They had large round eyes, realistic outfits (stockings, gloves, very classy), and I always wanted one. Of course being a guy and a punk that didn't happen. Years later I still collect toys and (yes, gasp) dolls. And the doll I remembered from long ago, the Takara JeNny doll.
As I said I'd only been on ebay for a short while, but looking at the JeNny dolls for sale, I noticed that many American sellers aren't familiar at all with the doll, and I couldn't find any info for her here either, so.....I'll give it my best shot and hope this helps.
(Revisions part duex-i'm getting there!)
There are many dolls I'd like to include here, costumes/uniforms of History, more on the JeNny 18's, the A.G.I.S Slice of school days, Dolls of the World, Cool and Berry, Photo Genic, Jojoco, Excelina, Coordinate, Urban furniture, Hair Coloring JeNny....gasp.....and these JeNny NY Collections that date 81'. I'll be making some changes to this, I wish they'd let me add more pictures, I've been kinda lazy for some time, when you get older life gets in the way, heh. So over the next few weeks ( I just figured out where ebay moved the edit button after the changes months ago) I'll be making gradual changes, and I may add links to some eBay stores (the stores are willing but getting ebay to say it's cool is another thing, they really make it hard!) that I've bought from that usually carry JeNny and Licca. Thank you everyone who's stopped by, or asked questions, you've help me make this a little better!
Barbie was originally made in Japan, but was too duanting a figure for the Japanese mindset of the time. In 1967 the Takara Co. came out with the Licca doll, which was Japans' favorite for years (still is!), so it's probably no wonder that when Mattel went looking to try to break in to the Japanese market they struck a deal with Takara. From 1981 till the licence expired in 85' (or early 86') the Japanese Barbie, with its smaller frame, large eyes, and bendable body sold very well and became a huge success! In a culture where women still hid their mouths when they smiled, a closed mouth "Barbie" also helped to increase sales! And, as one 6 year old Japanese girl was once quoted as saying upon seeing a replica 60's Barbie, "I want Licca, cause her (Barbie's) eyes are scary." (Barbie's Journey in Japan-NY Times article Dec 96')
For whatever reasons the licence expired and with the explaination that "Barbie" had starred in a play as a character named JeNny and became so famous as that character she changed her name! And so the JeNny fashion doll was born. I remember long ago JeNny dolls had a penchant for summer dresses and sun hats and came in thin pastel boxes. Over the years the JeNny dolls have changed styles and hair-dos but have kept the same body style. With her signature ring in her right hand and earings shes' been everything from a debutant to a Playboy Bunny?! (yes there's even an outfit like that!) I always thought she was French (perhaps a distorted memory from the past), it turns out JeNny is American, from LA. A model, pop star, ballerina, actress, this chick does it all! Loves painting, sports, movies, and making friends...Her father is a producer(?) and mom is a fashion designer. WOW.....so the story goes.
She was number two in Japan (next to older, shorter, similar sister Licca-chan) until the mid 90's when Mattel, still trying to crack the asian market, revamped Barbie, brought in a Mr. R. Weber (who helped other companies to cross over) and by the end of 96' started to elbow it's way into Japan, the stigma of American might and prosperity on the minds of the generations surviving WW2 finally a thing of the past.
In a sense the competition probably brought the change from the more poufy dollls to the Calender Girl series. A series which, not only whimsical (Birthday Drink Calender Girl!? I'm a mimosa), to the martial (Uniforms of History, there's a JeNy in 40's motorcycle gear with goggles). With all of them reflecting a part of Japanese culture. The details are amazing, if you look to the back of the School Uniform collection you'll see 12 beautiful real school uniforms, that many girls in Japan still wear, along with their ID's, book bags, scarves and sweaters. Some of JeNnys' outfits are based on popular Japanese film characters (like the ninja) or Pop Idols, singers who enjoy short term fan success and usually use elaborate costumes in their shows.
There's been many series, from the Fairy Tale (the Alice in Wonderland doll is gorgeous) to her Calender Girls (a doll for every month). Series have included Birthstone, School Uniforms, Uniforms of History, and even the Music JeNny dolls (punk, country, and even reggae) with a different doll for every type of music! She's been a ninja (similar to the Japanese movie Azumi character, cape and all), samurai, giesha, all the way down to a teeny bopper and hip hopper. JeNny has more than 30 friends and 5 boyfriends (there may be more). So if you see Shion, Sayaka, Aya, Naomi, Flora, Erika, Jeff-That Guy That Looks Like Takara Barbie Ken, and.........gasp! well, you get it, all in all a very popular girl!
(below different packages for Calendar Girls)
JeNny, Another Yourself (as some boxes say)
(Below is a basic buyers discription of the Takara JeNny doll, I'd like to recommend browsing the Takara Jenny & Friend ID. You CANNOT purchase dolls from this site, it is only a discrption guide for Takara Jenny Dolls, Takara Barbie, and Jenny 18's. But it is awesome, (yes I take away from myself for you!) it doesn't come up on regular searches easily soooo....)
The true JeNny Doll is about 11" tall (about the same as a Momoko), has rooted hair (all colors and styles) and she's unusual in that she has vinyl (not hard plastic or rubber) arms, a hard plastic torso (commonly with the ability to twist at the waist), and she has wire armature arms and legs. She can move in most any postion and can be posed quite easily, and with the wonderful extra's that come with her, makes for a great display! Of course with some dolls once you start to bend the legs I've noticed that in some there seems to be a little cracking (like when you bend an old piece of gum), it's just the factory material, is slight, and doesn't affect the mobility, BUT, if you like your dolls displayed mint, it's best just to set them on their stands. Yes, even before some other dolls got into it, JeNnys usually came with stands, they're clear plastic and just hold the ankles, for me they're much better than the easy-break plastic or ugly hanger ones. Now although there are many dolls they all have the distinctive eyes, earrings, and ring in the right hand that can only be a JeNny doll.
JeNny has the look of a second year high school student, but Takara did make special edition Miss JeNny Eighteen dolls. A more "adult" doll, this came with a collar that's molded and longer legs, the head is thinner, more American but her eyes are the same. In some cases the Totoco and specially offered fan club JeNnys have ball jointed arms and special outfits in a limited series (like the Luxury Selection Zion).
THE TAKARA BARBIE
The Takara Barbie, ah yes, without her there would be no JeNny, the taller (than Licca) mold she's based on. Well this is cake, in more ways than one! Not only do all of them say, that's right, BARBIE. The Barbie is in that fantastic 70's-80's style, it's also in Kanji (Japanese) in similar coloring, and the Takara brand is on the box, unlike the MaBa mixture. Now remember, the years of contract were 81'-86' (which can be a pain in the behind since so many other Takara dolls just show those copyright dates together instead of the date of issue, grrr.). Also the all capitals TAKARA somewhere, usually bottom of back of package. The Takara Barbie seems to flucuate in price, from $50US up to $200US but ususally Buy it Now's for over a hundred, if you're lucky you can find one that asks for best offer. So if you've got one from a private collector for under $80US, grab it! Well, you know, if you're a Barbie collector, heh. Now I'm not saying you'll make big bucks off of it, all buyers know it's really whether or not there's a market for it and if the money for that market is out there. But again, this about collecting. Below I've found some photos, starting left to right: Back of the Barbie Kimono, front of same, Casual, Candy Pop (which really brings home the 80's for me).
THE MaBa BARBIE
I want to mention the MaBa Barbie here because after the contract ended with Takara, Mattel made a deal with Bandai (hence MaBa). The dolls are very similar, but there are some differences and they are dated between 86'-89'. The dolls are a few centimeters taller than JeNny and their faces are thinner like an arrow pointed down. The boxes will say both MaBa and have the Mattel symbol. These are still very nice dolls, fantastic for collectors and I don't knock them at all, but this is about JeNny collecting!
(if the pix are hard to see, save as, and blow them up at home!)
The Licca doll or Licca-Chan (ch-aah-n, an honerific used to express childish cuteness used mostly for girls, children, pets and sometimes lovers). Created on July 4th 1967 by former Shojo Manga Artist (and wife of famous Leiji Matsumoto) Miyako Maki, almost every Japanese doll since then has incorporated parts of this fantastic anime inspired look. Licca or Licca Kayama is the one whos' half Japanese and French! She has a complete family, even Grandparents and cousins, all with complete information and backgrounds. Licca is supposed to be a 5th grader and 11 years old. Her favorite books are Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, and she loves Doraemon (a famous Japanese icon, a robotic cat with no ears). Liccas body, hieght, and features (except for the eyes) were all modeled after the Japanese girls' figure. Since her introduction she boastes about 50 million in sales. Licca, made by Takara is often up for sale with JeNny in the same ad, they are after all related (some, but not all, have either or both earings and rings), but they are still different. Liccas' Cutie Kids, Castle, etc, come in sizes between 8" and 10 1/2", you'll notice her face is even more rounded, childlike, and she has completely separate accessories to fit her. In other words a Licca Fashion may not fit a JeNny or be as detailed. If you have a all Japanese lettered box her name is under that portrait or right in front and the kanji looks like 'Jtl5#h (if that helps? I can't add it in). She has her own collectors and even a cartoon, but without her or Miyako Maki there would be no JeNny doll!
PURCHASING YOUR JENNY
JeNny dolls all have the JeNny (capital N in the middle) trademark, with a photo of JeNny next to it, some simply have JeNny in a oval or...? and say "Another Yourself" on the boxes and most can be found under the Licca, and Barbie names as well. This is mostly beacause sellers will try to put in more names to pick up more buyers on searches, IT DOESN'T MEAN A LICCA IS A JENNY! Or that because the ad says Barbie it's a Takara Barbie. The dolls say Takara Japan on their lower backs (one over the other). Like most doll companies they have their phone number on the side of the box (most on the bottom starting with the country code 03 or 06etc.) BUT the real vintage dolls will NOT have a World Wide Web address! Usually located on the bottom of the box, so always ask if told it's from the 80's or early 90's becuase they do make special re-issues. There are, on some Calendar Girl packages a creation date, or a date of issue with copyright.
Have a care when buying USED dolls, always ask if there is anything missing, or whether there is any damage (I'm too trusting myself!), find out now and save yourself the dismay! Most sellers are very good about it, but some might just omit something to get a better price. If you feel if-y, chances are the same doll will come up again, maybe new and cheaper! Also, if you're very particular about the packaging of your dolls, let it be known, even NIBs' can look a little roughed up. Sometimes these dolls are made, sent to one place, overstock sent back, etc, etc. You can order a NEW doll but the box can sometimes look worn or beaten in, ask your seller, the overseas eBay stores I've dealt with were always more than happy to send pics and answer questions. Some Takara dolls, Licca, JeNny, Anime specials (if you don't see the Takara name on the box), have a small white sticker, with black writing that looks like a backwards E, h looking n, and if you squint at it what looks like a 5 (sorry, and eBay only allows 10 pics).
Like Barbie, JeNny comes with many accessories, playsets, clothes and of course you can always buy an inexpensive base model (just bathing suit and shoes). She IS the Japanese Barbie so like Barbie there are many made and played with by children and adults. And like her counterpart there are collectors editions, but if you ask me JeNnys have always been a little more accessible, when I say that I mean for a collector and for those starting out in collecting. They're a great foriegn doll, for a fantastic price!
The Calendar Girls are actually pretty common and usually sell for around $20 to $30 US. As always there are some more sought after than others, but with a little digging on eBay I was able to find most of them at the aforementioned price. I'm always looking for a deal and I'm unbelievably impatient so if it's only a matter of a dollar or two I find one can always pick up a near mint, displayed JeNny with a little searching.
The dolls are numerous and you can get a really awsome set of dolls for under $20 US each, it's those overseas shipping charges that get us, but keep looking, average shipping should be about $18 US give or take, but I've seen as low as $9 US. Of course there are specialty dolls like the JeNnys Club and Totoco Dolls. Totoco is a specialty store in Tokyo that began offering JeNnys to the dolls fan club many years ago. They have produced 10 limited editions a year (of 100 to 200) since the early 90's (that I know). A lot of JeNnys Club dolls I've seen normally (HA! thought I was gonna say usually!) come in fancy underwear with the JeNny name printed white along the band.. As always, with every doll there are these limited editions, but most prices are very reasonable averaging at around $20 to $80 US. There are always a few exceptions of course but I haven't seen any over $150 US (in extreme circumstances). Because of the quantity of dolls around $20 US don't be afraid to open and play with them! Sometimes you just can't help it! Real fans will always buy a doll they may not be able to find for a reasonable price, opened or not, as long as (ok, this is hokey coming from a guy) they're cared for and loved.
JeNny is everywhere, you can even find her commercials on You Tube, I myself have seen a live action (with dolls) series (JeNny Kuwaii! Sweets Angels, subtitled) of JeNny and friends saving the earth for sweets and fashion!. There are JeNny fan clubs and sites galore, all one has to do is search for and you'll get a thousand hits on eBay. Now, I'm no expert and I don't know everything but I hope this has helped and happy collecting!
If anyone has an more info on JeNny they think is important please contact me and let me know!