The debut Patience doll, Garden Patience, was a gorgeous little redhead with bright green eyes and an amazing, romantic dress. When this doll was announced, I was so wrapped up in other things that I missed the beginning of pre-orders. I want to kick myself now, because this gorgeous little doll sold out in a flash. Unwilling to pay the high secondary market prices for Garden Patience, I had to be, ah, patient and wait for the new dolls to arrive. I was thrilled when a trio of Patience dolls was released for pre-order before Christmas. All of these newer dolls are still available on the Wilde Imagination site, and so I figured that this could be a good time for a review.
The Patience dolls are limited to 300 pieces each and cost over $150. The available dolls are called "Wonderland Patience" (an Alice in Wonderland doll, $169), "Tokyo Patience" (a lovely brown-eyed Japanese girl, $199) and "Ahoy Patience," the doll whose platinum blonde bob and sailor dress tempted me the most:
|"Ahoy Patience" by Wilde Imagination, $169.|
The name, "Patience," is printed in raised, metallic gold lettering:
The top of the box lifts off to reveal a white interior and a tissue-covered doll.
This was my first glimpse of Patience, peeking tentatively out of her enclosure:
The first thing I noticed about Patience is that her eyes move--on their own. I read the description of this doll on the Wilde Imagination site, and it says she has, "eyes that move from side to side as she contemplates her next adventure." I assumed that she had eyes that could be moved--like a Pullip doll's eyes. But these eyes are weighted at the back so that they move all by themselves whenever the doll's head moves:
This feature makes Patience seem alive--her eyes track me if I move her head around in just the right way. It's pretty neat...and a little unnerving. I'll show you the eyes in more detail later, but another thing about the eye mechanism that struck me right away is that each eye moves independently, and so the eyes can become epically wonky if the head is positioned in just the wrong way:
|Patience the insect?|
Patience comes with a metal waist grip stand. I probably won't even get this accessory out of the box because I don't like this kind of stand, and the doll has great balance on her own.
Patience also comes with a separately-packaged wide-brimmed sailor beret and a pair of simple imitation leather shoes.
The hat is navy blue and trimmed in red plaid:
The hat is solidly stitched, fully lined, and accented with a white satin ribbon.
The hat can be secured to the doll's head with a thin, clear rubber cord:
The shoes are dark cobalt blue and have elastic straps across the top:
|Very practical shoes.|
Patience herself is wearing a multi-piece sailor outfit accented with red and white stripes and red plaid. Her platinum hair is styled in a short bob and is protected with a white hair net:
The hat frames her face beautifully and the transparent cord grips snugly and unobtrusively under her chin:
Patience comes with her arms wrapped in clear plastic. This must be for protection against the red dye in the sleeves of the dress:
With her arms unwrapped, Patience has good arm mobility, and is even able to touch her face in certain positions:
I was very quickly smitten with this doll's charming face, but her eyes do slip into strange positions quite frequently. To put it in technical terms, she suffers from strabismus. This is when the eyes are not properly aligned with one another.
During my photo shoot, often the slightest adjustment in body position would send her eyes careening off in opposite directions:
Focus, Patience! Focus!
Let's look more closely at that eye mechanism. Patience's eyes are usually aligned nicely and are both glancing off to one side or the other:
When her head is tipped to one side, both eyes will look in the opposite direction:
If she looks up, or is laying on her back, her eyes will be reasonably straight, although it is difficult to get both eyes to face forwards when the doll is in most normal upright positions.
|That right eye is wandering off...|
|I have no idea how I got this shot.|
If her face points down, she is likely to have divergent strabismus (or be wall-eyed):
|No one's sneaking up on me now!|
And occasionally, in rare situations that I don't completely understand, she'll get convergent strabismus (or be cross-eyed):
|Wait...are there two of you??|
When she's overcome by these fits of strabismus, all it takes is a tap on her head or a small change in position, and both eyes will be back on the same page again:
This doll has dark blue inset eyes framed with black painted and applied lashes. Her eyelids do not open and close, but are fixed in place. Her eyebrows are delicately drawn in medium brown:
The iris is opaque and not very three dimensional. It has a central raised gear-shaped area surrounded by a painted navy blue rim.
If you look at the eye from an angle, you can see that there is some depth to the pupil. It appears that the pupil is actually a hole cut into the surrounding blue iris. This is a neat detail and is anatomically accurate, since our pupils are dark holes surrounded by the colorful muscles of the iris.
|Look into my eyes...|
Patience has bright red full lips and a delicate nose:
She wears a short platinum blonde wig with bangs. This wig has a lot of styling product around the doll's face, where the hair is shaped into two thick upturned curls.
At the back of the doll's head, the hair is free of styling gel, and this area is extremely prone to static flyaways.
The difference in the behavior of the hair from front to back is a little frustrating to manage: the front can't be brushed, and the back can be brushed, but it's best to have a way to tame the static afterwards.
The wig is not impressively thick and a good amount of netted wig cap is visible if the hair is lifted up. The hair is soft, but not silky or shiny.
The hair feels nice to the touch, but has very limited movement--partly because of the short length, and partly because of the stiff areas around the doll's face.
I have always had a special fondness for sailor dresses, thanks in part to a special sailor girl in my life. This dress has a nice balance of traditional elements and quirky extras. The clean blue and white lines of the main dress are satisfyingly nautical, and clearly demonstrate the Royal Navy roots of this style. The striped sleeves and stockings add a Raggedy Ann quality to the ensemble, and the red and blue plaid trim contributes a unique Scottish twist.
The dress closes down the back with metal snaps.
The sleeves and plaid underskirt are all attached to the main body of the dress.
This dress has wonderful details, including puffed sleeves, a completely lined bodice, and tiny little red buttons sewn carefully onto the high waistline.
The plaid underskirt is attached to the waistline of the dress via a shiny white slip. This allows the blue skirt to move freely and creates a nice layered effect.
The underskirt is stitched like a kilt, with intricate pleats that are sewn together at the top of the skirt:
Under the dress, Patience wears blue pantaloons and knitted red and white striped tights:
The pantaloons have an elastic waist and are trimmed at the knees with white satin ribbon:
The tights also have an elastic waist, and are worn over another pair of sheer beige stockings that protect the doll's legs from the red dye.
I was so excited to see the design of Patience's highly articulated hard plastic body. She has 16 jointed regions, and her elbows are double-jointed, so I could argue that she has a total of 18 points of articulation.
*Update: Nealie pointed out in the comments section that this is the same body as the Tonner 12" Harry Potter dolls. I was able to find some undressed pictures of Hermione on eBay to confirm this. The hands (and maybe feet?) are different, but the bodies look otherwise identical! Thank you so much for the excellent tip, Nealie! This means Patience can share clothes with the Harry Potter crowd!
Her head is fully posable, with both rotational and up-down movement. Her shoulders and wrists are simple hinge joints, but her elbows have a separate peanut segment, giving her great flexibility in this area:
She can flex her elbow joint well past 90 degrees, revealing a funny little wedge section on the back of her elbow that gives her arm a smooth profile when it is fully extended.
Patience has elegant hands with long, slender fingers:
The torso joint allows some side-to-side movement, but not any front-to-back mobility.
Patience has ball jointed hips, but the shape of her bottom limits the range of motion. She cannot do full splits in either direction.
|This is a split! Really, it is!|
In contrast, she has excellent knee movement, thanks to another unique-looking joint. The knee is essentially just a hinge joint, but it has a knee cap piece that conceals most of the hinge when the leg is bent, and an angled cut that looks great when the leg is completely straight.
The knee cap piece not only conceals the hinge joint, but is a nice approximation of the knee bone, or patella.
The back of the leg is this doll's least attractive area (is this anyone's most attractive area?) since the piece that conceals the hinge doesn't look as anatomically natural on the back side of the knee.
Patience has a well-concealed extra area of articulation at the top of her thighs. This joint allows her lower legs to rotate through a complete 360 degrees.
So, she can turn her knees outward:
She can do a little jig...
Or...she could hold a book or something with her feet, if she really wanted to.
|One hundred and fifty second position.|
...or basic yoga.
Speaking of feet, Patience has lovely feet, too. The delineation of each of her toes is quite beautiful and not something that I often see on a doll. It almost looks like all of her toes are completely separate:
|I wish my feet looked like that.|
All of this impressive articulation gives Patience some great posing options. She can walk, run and march with ease:
|I learned this at the Naval Academy.|
What sets Patience apart from the crowd, though, is the many different, natural ways that she can sit and kneel:
I wanted to compare Patience's body to a few of my Tonner dolls. For some reason, I assumed that she would have a body similar to the Ellowyne Wilde body, which is the same body used on Tonner's Disney Rapunzel doll. In this picture, Rapunzel is on the left and Tonner's 16" fashion doll Cami is on the right:
In fact, Rapunzel is quite a bit larger and taller than Patience. Patience also has more childlike proportions throughout her body:
I am particularly struck by how clean and subtle Patience's knee joints are in comparison to Rapunzel's thick (crooked), visible hinges:
The two dolls have similar torso articulation, but the torso shapes are very different. Clothes sharing is not an option with these two.
Here's Patience next to one of my older Tonner Alice in Wonderland dolls, "Afternoon Visit." Alice has the same body as Tonner's Marley and Agnes Dreary:
|And Emily's worried about the static in my hair??|
I think I was inspired to compare Alice to Patience because I have Alice dressed in the Boating Party outfit, which is very nautical:
|We're kinda like twins, except her head is tiny and her hair is alive.|
These two are almost the same size through the torso. Patience, being the more slender of the two, can wear Alice's clothes, but Alice can't quite get Patience's dress snapped up in back--it's very close, but the snaps look strained.
Alice's sailor dress suits Patience perfectly.
Again, Tonner 12" Harry Potter child dolls have the same body as Patience and can share clothes with her.
Patience's large head and movable eyes remind me of a Pullip doll. Her size and high level of articulation remind me of my Zapf Cinderella. Here are these two dolls next to Patience:
|Zapf Little Cinderella, Patience, Pullip (Shinku Rozen Maiden).|
As you can see, compared to Patience, Pullip is much smaller, daintier (and more fragile!). Cinderella, while depicting a child of a similar age, is thicker and blockier. Clothes sharing is not an option with these dolls. Patience can wear Cinderella's clothes, but they are quite baggy.
Last, here is Patience with some play dolls--Liv Hayden on the right and Moxie Teenz Melrose on the left. While Melrose is about the same height at Patience, she is a completely different scale. Hayden is also dwarfed by Patience's impressive size and enormous head.
|Moxie Teenz Melrose, Patience, Liv Hayden.|
This doll is a joy to photograph. Her brightly colored outfit and exaggerated features love the camera, and her movable eyes make her seem like she's posing coyly for every shot...with a few eye positioning mishaps, of course...
Bottom line? Initially, Patience seemed to me like a Pullip or Blythe imitator, probably because many things about her are reminiscent of those dolls. She has a large head, big movable eyes, cartoonish features and a very flexible body. However, several things about this doll make her refreshingly different.
First of all, her articulated body has reasonably normal proportions for a young child. Aside from her huge head, she is fairly realistic--not ultra-skinny or exaggeratedly curvy. Her hands and feet are especially pretty with an unusual amount of molded detail. Also, her joints are solid and sturdy without being chunky or unsightly. She poses beautifully and I never once felt like I was going to break her. She balances extremely well and has little or no need for a stand.
Also, this doll is an atypical size. She is larger and more solid than a Pullip, but is still smaller than many other Tonner and Wilde Imagination dolls. This puts her in a bit of a bind for clothes sharing, but I did find that she is able to wear some clothes that are made for the Tonner child dolls like Marley Wentworth, Agnes Dreary, and the first Alice and Wonderland. It's a shame that Patience can't share her clothing with more dolls because she has a fun, creatively-designed outfit that is made with a great deal of care and attention to detail. I love Patience's quirky nautical dress and outrageously large hat.
The most strikingly unique thing about this doll, though, is her eye mechanism. Each eye appears to be individually weighted so that it will move back and forth as the doll is repositioned. I have never seen a doll with this feature, and it adds a startling amount of personality. When I first opened Patience's box and pulled back the tissue paper, I must have bumped the edge of the box or something, because Patience shifted and her eyes tipped up to stare at me. It was an unnerving, unexpected moment that instantly gave Patience more presence and character than most of the dolls I have owned.
This is not a perfect doll. Her hair has crispy, gel-caked sections mixed with loose, static-prone areas, making the wig difficult to brush or style. The wig is also a bit on the thin side. Another issue is that the price of these dolls seems high, but many of the Tonner and Wilde Imagination prices take my breath away these days. With so few complaints about quality, perhaps the price is justified. While I don't regret what I paid, I'd have been happier if she cost closer to $100 than $200.
Patience's most glaring "flaw" is that her eyes can go wandering off into different directions, leaving her with some pretty silly expressions. The thing is, when I think back on photo sessions with my own young children, I am hard pressed to recall a single event that didn't involve a few crossed eyes, pulled faces or fits of giggles. So for me, anyway, Patience's unruly eyes just end up adding to her youthful charm. This technicolor caricature is a surprising mix of elegance, innocence and downright goofiness...and she has completely won me over.