I reviewed the Disney Store's 16" Singing Elsa doll a few months ago, and so today I want to give you a quick overview of one of Mattel's musical dolls, Musical Magic Elsa. There is also a Musical Magic Anna, and these dolls have a retail price of around $26 each. Musical Elsa, like every other Elsa doll on the planet these days, has become quite scarce, and so her current asking price is more like $50-$60.
|"Musical Magic Elsa," by Mattel. Not worth $50.|
This doll's musical feature is activated by touching two metal discs on the palms of her hands. The box has holes in the plastic window so that you can sample the music before you buy her. This test gives a very short snippet of music, rather than activating the full song.
Apparently the Anna and Elsa dolls are designed to be able to sing together when they join hands:
|That's a very cute idea.|
Elsa's ice dress looks really frumpy in the box. This is partly because of the clumsy yoke neckline, and partly because one of the plastic strings that holds the doll in place is wrapped around the train, making the outfit look like a loose-fitting, dropped-waist pinafore...or maybe a flapper dress:
|Pilgrim ice couture.|
Here's Musical Elsa removed from her box. The dress looks a little better with the train released from the packaging, but it's still not a very attractive dress:
Elsa has a sweet, slightly blank face with features that are very similar (identical?) to the Mattel Anna doll:
She has very large blue eyes set at an exaggerated downward angle:
Elsa's hair is styled into a messy, lopsided, thick ponytail with one stray curl of bangs in the middle of her forehead. This might be the worst I have ever seen play doll hair look right out of the box:
Elsa is wearing a large, glittery blue plastic tiara. The tiara is held on with a clear head strap, but is also stapled to her head with plastic ties:
Elsa is wearing a tunic-style cape and a blue skirt with an elastic waistband. I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see that the pretty snowflake decorations on the cape do not continue in back. Ironically, it's the back of the dress that really needs some decoration--to hide the obvious singing apparatus.
|Only the side panels have snowflakes.|
The bodice of the dress is part of Elsa's hard plastic body:
The fabric of this outfit is extremely cheap and very few of the edges are finished. The neck piece is sewn all around both edges, but it's not sewn particularly well:
The polyester skirt is simple and unadorned, but it's very easy to slide on and off and would be perfect for younger children just getting started with changing the clothes on their dolls.
|A few holes and wrinkles from the packaging.|
The design of the cape makes this piece of clothing slightly difficult to put on and take off. The garment opens in the back, but only at the top. In front, the collar prevents the cape from sliding on over Elsa's shoulders. You have to have Elsa step into the cape, pull it up, wrestle her arms into the arm holes, and then fasten it in back.
The shoes on this doll are a vast improvement over the Disney Store Elsa's blue slippers:
I think these shoes are the only thing about Mattel's Elsa that is superior to the 12"Disney Store Elsa dolls.
|Disney's 12" Elsa (J.C. Penney version), Mattel's Musical Magic Elsa.|
Musical Elsa's body has only five points of articulation (her knees don't bend). Her hips have ball-jointed movement, but her shoulders can only spin around. Her head can look up and down a little bit.
In order to facilitate activation of the music and lights, this doll's arms are slightly bent at the elbows, and angled away from her body. This position is great for triggering the song (and joining hands with Anna, as we'll see...) but it's not so great for playing or posing.
Elsa has a very glittery, translucent torso with a molded snowflake pattern This area lights up when the music is playing.
Her neck is adorned with lace-like bumps painted pastel blue:
The back of the doll reveals all of the features necessary for the song mechanism. There's a small speaker, a battery compartment and a plastic tab that prevents the whole song from playing in the stores.
Unfortunately, this doll is made in Indonesia (and she has a very hard, probably glue-filled head).
Elsa can achieve a few stiff-looking poses:
At this point, I was anxious to activate the musical part of the doll. In order to play the song while I was filming, I attached a wire to one of Elsa's hands and then touched the other end of the wire to her other hand once I got the camera ready:
As you can hear, there are no words to the song, but it is a fairly pleasant (maybe slightly shrill) version of Let it Go. It's hard for me not to love this song in any form. The nice thing is, Elsa stops singing once the connection between her hands is broken, so she can't be left crooning on for ages like the Disney Store dolls. I do wonder how easy it is for younger kids to maintain this connection throughout the whole song, though.
As much as I enjoy the a cappella Let it Go sung by the Disney Store's Singing Elsa doll, this instrumental version really invites a child (or adult...) to sing along.
I detached Elsa's tiara from her head so that I could get a better look at her hair.
This doll's hair looks much nicer once it's taken down. It is very thick and reasonably soft. While it brushes out well, I had a hard time re-braiding it in a way that looks tidy. I think part of the problem is that the hair isn't long enough for a solid braid, and also that the ends are quite rough and tend to frizz out.
The hair around Elsa's face is pulled into a ponytail at the back of her head:
This leaves some visible roots on either side of her head:
Of course I had to see what Anna and Elsa sound like when they're singing together. I was very curious about how this would work.
Rather than playing an instrumental version of For the First Time in Forever (as I had hoped) Anna just plays back-up to Elsa's song:
The mechanism for making the dolls sing together is actually quite clever: the metal contact points on the dolls' hands stick to each other with magnets, so it's very easy to activate the songs and keep the dolls connected until the music is finished. The problem is, the dolls will keep singing until you pull them apart.
When Anna and Elsa are first connected, they play their songs in synch...but painfully out of tune:
The bigger problem is that if they are left connected, they will continue to sing...but will get increasingly out of synch. It becomes downright unbearable after a while:
Bottom line? I am ridiculously excited to have the Frozen DVD in my house. I cannot wait until this weekend, when I plan to make some serious popcorn and watch this amazing movie again...and then maybe again. Unfortunately, I am not as enthusiastic about the Musical Magic Elsa doll. I certainly don't think she's worth the inflated prices on eBay and Amazon. She is minimally articulated, with awkward, half-bent arms that stick out from her body. Her clothing is very cheaply made and is nowhere near as attractive or movie-accurate as the Disney Store outfits. The combination of a molded bodice and an elastic-waisted skirt is a great idea for making the doll easy to handle for younger children, but the awkward tunic-like cape negates this by being unnecessarily difficult to use. This Elsa's face is not bad--she's happy and bright, but her features are missing all of the movie character's wonderful spunk and personality.
This doll's electronic features will probably delight younger Frozen fans, provided that the activating mechanism isn't too difficult for small hands. Elsa's blue illuminating torso is quite pretty. In fact, the glowing plastic bodice of the dress is the best part of the whole outfit. The instrumental version of Let it Go might be missing Idina Menzel's voice, but it will invite children to sing the words themselves, karaoke style. Singing along to the music (as I've discovered from personal experience) is really fun (although maybe a little off key...). Whatever you do, though, don't let the two sisters sing their duet. It's a train wreck.
The Elsa doll market is difficult to navigate right now. Prices and availability are highly unpredictable, and while reason and experience tell me that both the Mattel dolls and the Disney Store dolls will come back into stock eventually (at their regular prices), how much help is that for an excited young child who desperately wants a Frozen doll to play with now? Given the current market, I would say that if you are shopping for a child, and can find this Musical Magic Elsa for $25, go for it. That's about as good as you'll get right now, and the musical element of the doll is a fun reminder of the movie. However, if all of the prices remain inflated, I'd much rather pay too much for a Disney Store doll than for a Musical Magic doll. The Disney Store's 12" Elsa has more articulation, a beautiful outfit, softer hair, a more unique face, and better overall quality. Even my J.C. Penney version of Elsa, with her simplified dress and unarticulated arms, is a superior doll in my opinion.
I think that the best option by far is to get a Disney Store Elsa doll at its normal, reasonable price. That seems a bit like a fairy tale right now, granted, but the dolls will be re-stocked eventually, and they--just like the DVD, will surely be worth the wait.