Last year KidsGive sent us the Gia doll from their Karito Kids doll collection. I liked the doll and what the company stands for so much that I requested the Lulu doll who is from Kenya because I want Anya to have a diverse crew of dolly friends. (Check out our review here.) She really enjoyed them, especially undressing them and having us redress them. But since I always knew that Anya was much younger than the targeted age, I was thrilled when they released their new Travel Charmers line.
Suitable for a younger age range (3+ instead of 6+), the Travel Charmers ($20) are smaller, soft, lower cost versions of the five original poseable dolls: Zoe from the US, Pita from Mexico, Lulu from Kenya, Gia from Italy, and Wan Ling from China. Totally huggable and cute, they will likely draw a comparison to Groovy Girls, like the original dolls are occasionally compared to American Girl dolls. While the Karito Kids dolls’ stories center around drama in their native lands, the Travel Charmers visit other countries and are dressed in the local wear. For example, Gia, who hails from Italy, visits France and is decked out in ooh-la-la Frenchy wear, including a fuschia and white striped top, black skirt, matching striped tights and shiny shoes, complete with a beret (mais oui!). While the original dolls come with hardcover books (also sold separately for $11) that let you delve inside the characters’ lives, the Travel Charmers each have blogs.
Anya loves her new Gia doll but refuses to let us call the doll "Gia" because Gia is the other doll! They can’t both be called Gia! Of course, the rest of her dolls have the same name ("Baby Mama") but you can’t reason with a three year old.
Each dolls comes with a Jibbitz-style charm (thus the name "Travel Charmers") that can be added to the corresponding bracelet ($8) that can be purchased separately – they include charms depicting recognizable icons from the dolls’ home country. For example, Gia includes a diamond shoe, flower, and sunglasses, which are all part of the original dolls’ story. While I like how that ties the story to the original doll, for a 3 year old who won’t be exposed to it for at least a few years, it’s seems a little random and unrelated. (The other dolls’ bracelets’ charms are a little more obvious, like New Yorker Zoe whose charms are an apple, cab and guitar.) Of course, like Jibbitz, the charms can also be worn on Crocs. Not aCrocs girl, Anya really liked the bracelet and wore it a few days in arow.
Rounding out the story of charity and philanthropy, like the Karito Kids, each doll comes with a code that can be redeemed online. Instead of collecting points to buy more stuff, redeeming the code allows the child to decide where 3% of the purchase price is to be donated via Plan USA, a global children’s charity which helps distribute the donations to the different causes or "projects." Since KidsGive was founded, these funds have bought 22,500 mosquito nets for 357 remote villages in Kenya, 3,200 textbooks for 976 kids in Mali, 6,800 chickens and the eggs they produce for 976 kids in China, and built 19 houses for Honduran families.