Well. This was an excellent Toy Box Philosopher moment. I was dying to learn the whole story behind these dolls and their show. I plunked down $20 for the doll and skipped out of the store, feeling like I had the last Winx Club doll on the planet and that I must be the luckiest person alive. I came home to do a little research, and it turns out that these dolls are not, in fact, impossible to find. You can get Bloom on Amazon for three dollars more than what I paid (with free shipping). The other characters are a bit more expensive. I think I might have picked the least popular doll in the group, but that's okay because I love her red hair. Here's Bloom, my Winx Club fairy:
|Winx Club Believix "Bloom."|
First of all, try to say "Winx Club Bloom Believix (by Jakks)" five times fast...or type it for that matter. Jeez. The Winx Club name is cute, but the Believix part seems a little cheesy. I guess the "x" on the end is a theme for these dolls, though, because an earlier version of the dolls (made by Mattel) was called "Enchantix."
Ok, but I'm rushing ahead. Let me back up and tell you what I know about the Winx Club. It is a group of fairy friends who have special magical powers called "winx." The story was introduced as an Italian TV show in 2004, but has since gone through some English language iterations, most recently a Nickelodeon version that began airing in 2011. There have also been two Italian feature length movies (with American voice versions). I am guessing that it's the newer Nickelodeon show that is causing excitement for the dolls, but based on the clips I watched on You Tube, the earlier 4Kids Entertainment version of the cartoon seems more appealing. From what I saw, it struck me as kind-of Pokemon meets Avatar meets something with fairies. Overall, this show seems to be a big success and has lasted almost a decade.
The picture on the box doesn't really look that much like the animation in the TV show, but more like the character in the movies. I actually think Bloom looks a bit creepy on the box:
|Resistance is futile.|
Just one more piece of trivia and then I'll stop...Mattel actually made several waves of Winx Club dolls between 2004 and 2009. They are cute, and seem to have bendy limbs instead of jointed articulation. There's a nice list of them on Amazon.
On the back of Bloom's box, you can see the full array of dolls available in this line: Aisha, Tecna, Flora, Musa, Stella and Bloom. Bloom is the only name that doesn't end with an "a."
This picture of Bloom is better than the one on the front of the box. The caption says that she is the fairy of the "Dragon Flame." I don't know what that means, exactly, but I love dragons so it seems like a good thing.
I obsessively read all of the packaging when I have a new kind of doll in my hands, so I'll show you one more caption from the box that seems a tad cultish:
|You will be assimilated.|
|To get a preview of all of the plastic and tape that's holding your doll hostage?|
This process also completely ruins the cardboard perforated panel. Am I missing something here? Please tell me if I am. It really seems like they put a lot of effort into designing an accessible package, and yet I had to rip into this thing like a hyena:
There's a little membership card in there, which I think will give you access to some of the features at the Winx online site that are not available to commoners.
All of the plastic and tape that you could see through the perforated panel on the back of the box had to be cut in order to extricate Bloom. In addition, she had several plastic ties anchoring her solidly against the cardboard backdrop. It's not very good packaging, but I've seen worse. Here's what's in the box:
|Bloom, her wings, her comb an a membership card. No stand.|
|Furthermore, her legs look warped and bendy.|
Look at her sweet face:
Her hair is stitched to her outfit in two places:
Be careful snipping these threads. They are very tightly sewn and hard to snip without catching the fabric.
She's wearing a blue iridescent cheerleader outfit with pink tulle accents.
|Eeek! That's a short skirt!|
I won't discuss the style of the outfit at great length. I never cared much what my dolls were wearing when I was a kid, and I certainly wasn't trying to dress like them. Most of my dolls got stuck in Dorothy's gingham dress or the Sunshine Family's farm clothes. Still, this is a very skimpy outfit (even for a fairy) and some parents might be troubled by it.
She has very long, wavy bright red hair. I love the color, especially with the royal blue in the outfit. The hair style has two curled tendrils that hang down around her face, and then some twisted strands ornamenting the back:
The brush works well to comb out her hair, taking with it a fair number of shedding strands:
After having just reviewed the Disney Store's Rapunzel, this hair looks pretty awful. It looks like the kind of hair that will end up in tangled clumps. Those ends, in particular, are very coarse and frizzy. Thankfully, I have learned the art of boiling hair, so Bloom will have to undergo some "spa treatment."
Bloom comes with a pair of detachable plastic wings. They are transparent with blue and pink designs printed on them. The edges of the wings are lined in blue glitter. The glitter is glued onto the wings pretty well, I have about five pieces on my face and there's a little bit scattered around everywhere this doll has been, but it's not bad at all.
The wing unit comes in three pieces. There's a central pink connector with two hinged attachment points for the wings themselves. The hinged attachment allows the wings to move freely in a convincing, synchronized fluttering motion. It's pretty neat. The pink connector inserts into a hole in the back of the doll:
|The hole is in the shape of the Winx symbol...cute and effective.|
The two wings snap onto the pink piece. It's not a very secure connection and one of the wings falls off all the time. I'm not sure why they didn't just permanently connect the wings to that pink piece at the factory.
The wings look very nice--the size is perfect, and very dramatic.
Here's the big problem with the wings: the doll is positioned in the box like this, with her head turned to one side and her hair falling over her left shoulder:
If you face the doll's head to the front, with her hair down her back, the mass of hair has to be wedged in between the two wings:
This makes the wings fall off, and also completely inhibits the fluttering movement. The only way the doll can flutter is if her head is off to the side...and then she can't see where she's fluttering! Also, with the hair wedged between the wings, she can't move her head much.
|I believix we have a problem here.|
Her face is really sweet, though, and I like it even better than the faces of the cartoon characters. She reminds me of Ariel from The Little Mermaid (probably just because of the hair):
She has wide-set bright blue eyes and natural face paint:
There's a bit of glitter above each eye, but on my doll it's much more noticeable on the right side of her face:
The weakest part of this doll's head mold is her profile. There's no sculptural definition around her eyes, and they are set pretty far apart, so in profile they look flat and oddly shaped. In a way, though, it makes her look more otherworldly...like a fairy should look.
Let's look at the outfit in more detail:
The majority of the outfit is made out of a blue iridescent vinyl material. There are several accents made out of pink tulle and a matching light pink mesh fabric.
The top has blue stitching all around the edges, but the blue material doesn't seem to require a hem. It closes in the back with velcro:
The skirt has some pink stitching, which looks great, and a velcro closure. It also has one of those plastic "thong" strips to prevent the skirt from riding up on the waist.
Bloom is wearing pink knee high stockings and blue high heeled shoes. Look at how warped the lower part of her legs is...a familiar problem this week.
The stockings are always falling down because there's no rubbery ring or elastic or anything to hold them up at the top.
The pink of the stockings and the blue in the shoes are very different shades from the pink and blue in the skirt and top.
The shoes are simple and functional, with the Winx symbol on the bottom:
Underneath the clothes, Bloom has a highly articulated body that is made out of a combination of hard plastic and bendable vinyl. Her head is a little bit large, but nowhere near as big as a La Dee Da doll's head or even a Liv doll's head. She has skinny arms and incredibly long and spindly legs:
From what I can tell, her arms, hands and lower legs are bendable. It's unfortunate that her lower legs are so warped. It looks silly and makes it impossible for her to stand. The warping makes the legs tend towards a crossed position, which actually looks ok (even though the tibia doesn't bend like that):
She has 11 points of articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees). The range of motion in some of these joints is not great. For example, her neck doesn't have any up and down motion and her elbows can't bend past about a 120 degree angle:
Both the elbow and the knee joints can bend a little bit in the wrong direction, too, giving her the potential to strike some unusual poses:
|Look at the angle of her knees!|
She can also strike some great realistic poses, including both kinds of split:
And a nice normal (modest) sitting position:
She has some very slight rotational movement in her knees, and so she can tuck her feet off to one side when she sits.
Her torso is very long and skinny and reminds me a bit of a Monster High doll, without the dramatic sway back.
In fact, she's quite a bit taller and wider than a Monster High doll. Here she is with a lineup of the usual suspects:
|New Rapunzel, Fashionista Barbie, Banana Legs, Monster High Clawdeen, Liv Katie|
Despite the dolls looking fairly similar in size from a distance, there's not a lot of potential for clothes sharing. Bloom is too large for Monster High clothes and too skinny for the other dolls' clothes. Clawdeen can wear Bloom's skirt:
But the top gapes open at the chest and is too loose around the neck:
Bloom can wear the Disney clothes (and Barbie clothes) but they're too big for her. From a distance this dress looks ok, but it's loose around the neck:
Monster High clothes are way too tight:
|In Skultimate Roller Maze Lagoona's dress.|
One good fit I found was that Liv can wear Bloom's shoes. They're a tad too big, but it's convincing:
It's tricky to get Bloom re-dressed. The sleeves of her top are pretty tight for her splayed fingers:
Also, the outfit is showing some signs of wear...with just one redressing session. Notice the stitching around the neckline:
Look at the side seam and the frayed bottom edge of the shirt:
Also, the seams of the sleeves turn inside out when you redress her, and this looks messy:
|This looks fine...except for the legs.|
And here are some of her better poses:
Bottom line? I know the Winx Club dolls are popular (if the Toys R Us in Maine is any indication). It's not hard to understand this instant success--the dolls portray characters from a popular TV show that has lasted nearly a decade. Fans of the show who collected the Mattel dolls have been waiting since 2009 for a replacement. Without having followed any of the shows myself, I can't fully appreciate this component of the doll's virtues. I do understand that for a fan who has grown attached to Bloom's character over the years, this doll will hold a special, emotional appeal.
In terms of the quality of the doll, she has several distracting flaws. Her hair is thick and very frizzy at the ends, which makes it prone to tangling. I had too many dolls with this type of hair as a kid. It's heartbreaking to have a beautiful doll with terrible hair. Also, Bloom's lower legs are made of a bendable vinyl, and in the case of my doll, this vinyl is torqued into an unnatural position that makes it hard for her to stand. She is highly articulated, but the range of motion in her elbows and neck is not optimal, and her knee joints overextend into an odd bowed position. I am not a fan of Bloom's outfit. It is at bit too Lolita for my taste, and it shows some early warning signs of not being able to hold up well over time. Last, while the wings are a fun and dramatic feature, they fall off too easily, and the doll's hair completely interferes with the awesome fluttering motion. She also can't move her head much with the wings in place. I am so tempted to give this doll a short haircut (like the Tecna character). This would quickly solve two of her major problems.
Note: I boiled and cut Bloom's hair for a significant improvement. Boiling alone was not enough...the ends were still really tangled.
The positive things about this doll are the very things that attracted me to her in the store. She has an innocent, lovely fairy face. She looks approachable and friendly. The color and thickness of her hair are great. I also like the style of her hair--it's simple and combable, but it has the fancy-looking twists in the back to keep it from being plain. The wings are a great accessory, and one of the most interesting features of the doll. I appreciate that the wings are so big and movable. When the hair is out of the way, the wings have a very realistic fluttering motion that adds to the doll's personality. You know me well enough by now to know that I love to see a $20 play doll with this level of articulation. The articulation isn't perfect, but the doll can strike a lot of poses and sits beautifully. Last, as I said before, this doll would be a great companion or display item for a person who enjoys the popular TV show.
4-15 (per the box) I agree, with maybe the adjustment of 5-20 based on the timeline of the TV show.
$20 seems slightly high, especially when you look at what you get for under $20 from Disney and Monster High.
The doll is highly articulated. She has thick, rooted hair, but the hair has coarse ends and is prone to tangles. Her clothes are scant and simply constructed--might not wear well. Nice face paint.
Lots of plastic, takes a fair amount of effort to get the doll out. The doll’s position in the box has deformed her legs and left marks on her hands.
No. This is a play doll...although some of the older Mattel dolls are fetching good prices on eBay right now.
Her face is very friendly and versatile. The fairy wings are removable, so she can be a normal girl, too. She can’t share a lot of clothes with other doll lines.
Conflicted. There are a lot of flaws that prevent this doll from earning my unreserved recommendation. She has a ton of potential, but needs a little work.