Bandai's initial release of Legends of Oz toys includes three different 11" Dorothy dolls ($16.99-$24.99), a larger scale 15" child Dorothy ($19.99), and two sets of small secondary character figurines ($11.99 per set). I was drawn to these toys not just because of their association with the Wizard of Oz, but because all of the dolls have very sweet faces. I decided to review the 11" Dorothy that comes with a Toto companion, since this particular doll is in the middle of the price range and I am a fan of Cairn terriers (note: Dorothy can't actually hold Toto on her own):
|"Dorothy & Toto" by Bandai, $19.99.|
Bandai is a huge Japanese toy and video game company. I think they're the third largest toy producer in the world. However, when I think of Bandai, I don't think of fashion dolls--I think of Power Rangers and Pokemon. This company does have several doll lines, though, including Sailor Moon figures, Strawberry Shortcake dolls and Harumika. Harumika has just released a new group of smaller dolls called Locksies. I saw some of the Locksies at Smyths in Edinburgh. The dolls are a little bit funny looking, but I like that the Harumika fashion design concept is being updated and continued.
I'm pretty sure that this Dorothy is only the second Bandai doll I have ever owned, so I really didn't know what to expect in terms of quality. The faces on these dolls are all very nice, but when I peered into the boxes I wasn't too excited about what I saw. None of the dolls have any visible articulation in their lower limbs, and I feared that the limbs were made out of cheap hollow plastic. In addition, my doll's outfit appeared simple for her $20 price, and the black Toto accessory looked featureless and nowhere near as appealing as the goofy animated character from the movie. Here's a picture of the animated Toto:
Now, compare that charming picture to the photograph of the Dorothy doll with her Toto accessory:
|Not quite the same dynamic.|
Because of these less-than-promising observations, it actually took me a week to decide that I wanted to purchase one of these dolls for review. I'm glad that I did, though, because there were several nice surprises.
Clear tape circles were placed all around the edges of the box, too. I tried cutting the tape circles and cutting some of the plastic tabs, but in the end it was simple, primitive, tugging and ripping that finally got the job done:
Once the plastic was separated from the cardboard, the de-boxing got easier. Both Dorothy and Toto were held in place mostly with clear rubber bands (no plastic ties in Dorothy's head! Yay!). It only took a few snips with the scissors to free them from their plastic holders. There's a lot of hard-to-manage waste with this packaging though:
Dorothy comes with a purse, and this accessory provided a little extra challenge at the end of the de-boxing. This purse was nailed to its support with about six tiny, tightly-fitted plastic ties. I wonder if the machine used for applying these attachments is super-fun or something? I picture it as being like a miniature nail gun--its wielder gleefully zapping plastic ties everywhere possible while the other workers look on with envy.
|Plastic ties everywhere.|
I did manage to cut all of the ties (from the back, with the clear plastic acting as a protective guard) and remove the purse. It's made out of a lightweight denim fabric and has a bronze satin ribbon handle:
|Even the flap is plastic-tied shut.|
The purse is simple and small, but seems well made. The box advertises that the China Princess figure can fit inside of this purse.
Here's a picture of the figure set that includes the China Princess. The princess herself is about 3 inches tall:
When I was younger, my sister and I had all of the Mego Wizard of Oz dolls. Dorothy and Glinda from this set were probably the dolls I played with more than any others, because they were just the right size to ride on my Breyer model horses. Not only did I invent Wizard of Oz games with these dolls, but Dorothy and Glinda branched out to become a huge variety of other characters in my mind--from princesses to modern day girls.
I've shown you this picture before, but here's my old Glinda (in Dorothy's dress) outside with some of my horses:
|She was the owner of a huge horse farm.|
The back of this box has a picture of the Emerald City playset. My sister and I also had this--it was made almost entirely out of cardboard, so it didn't last, but it was really fun:
Here's Dorothy herself--she's eight inches tall and comes with a Toto figure and a big plastic yellow basket:
This Dorothy's face looks a little bit like Judy Garland, I suppose, but it's not very expressive--I always preferred the Mego Glinda doll because of her red hair and big smile.
Little Toto has not weathered the years very well, but you can see the nice molded detail in his coat and his painted red tongue:
|Not sure why they didn't paint the collar and tag.|
I wish they'd given his eyes a little color, though--he's got a creepy, blank-eyed stare and the hair above his eyes makes him look grumpy:
|I've been in a box since 1974. What did you expect??|
Because I spent so many hours with these dolls when I was a child, they were in the back of my mind throughout this whole review. Now that you've met them, let's go back to the Bandai Dorothy...and her little dog, too.
This Toto looks like he is made out of dense black foam (like a yoga mat or a worry ball) but he's actually made out of black hollow vinyl. His body is pretty hard, but he will compress if he's squeezed.
He stands upright, resting on his haunches with one forepaw raised higher than the other:
I expect figures like this to have a visible (often unsightly) midline seam, but Toto is seamless.
His dark color hides his features, but he does have painted eyes, a painted collar, and his own cute painted red tongue:
Maybe if the whites of his eyes were showing just a little at the edges he would have more expression?
So...even though this Toto is unarticulated and his eyes are hard to see, he's cuter than I expected. Dare I say it, he also looks more like a Cairn terrier than the Mego Dorothy's dog.
Dorothy does not come with her own stand, and when I got her out of the box she would not balance on her own--despite some pretty large boots.
The boots came encircled with plastic for some reason. I removed this plastic and put the boots back on. The boots are very loose, and slide on and off easily. They also wiggle around a lot and leave big gaps around Dorothy's calves.
I put the boots back on the wrong feet (they are loose enough to fit either foot easily) and for some reason this fixed Dorothy's balance problems:
She still doesn't balance very well, and she can't stand in anything other than a perfectly upright position, but it was nice to be able to get her to stand alone.
Dorothy has a friendly face with a serene, inquisitive expression. Unlike the original Dorothy, this doll has blue eyes. She is wearing her hair in the traditional long pigtail style, though, and has blue gingham in her dress that hints at the original Dorothy's signature outfit.
I looked up a synopsis of the Legends of Oz movie to learn a little more about this particular Dorothy. I read that the new movie is based on a book written by the great-grandson of Frank Baum--The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author. The story takes place right after Dorothy returns to Kansas from her first adventure in Oz. Apparently the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion have all been captured and Dorothy's help is needed to rescue them.
So--this is supposed to be essentially the same Dorothy that we saw in the original movie, at around the same age.
Dorothy has raised brown eyebrows and bright blue eyes. The style of her eyes and face reminds me of a Winx doll:
She has rosy pink lips with a little bit of shimmer in them:
Dorothy's profile is also similar to the Winx doll profile. She has a gradual slope to her nose, a tall forehead, and small ears:
Her hair appears medium brown from a distance, but is actually a mix of auburn and light brown strands. It's a very pretty color--almost red in some lighting:
The ends of the braided pigtails are coated with styling product and shaped into little curls:
Dorothy is wearing a short denim pinafore with a collared gingham shirt. The hemline of the dress is asymmetric, but the whole skirt is so short that it's difficult to see the difference in length. For a long time during this review, I simply thought that the skirt wasn't laying flat or had been cut unevenly by mistake. In the pictures below, the shape of the skirt is clearest from the back: the skirt is shorter on Dorothy's left than it is on her right:
The dress has a bronze satin ribbon belt that matches the handle of the purse accessory:
This outfit looked very simple to me at first, but the detailing is actually quite nice. The gingham shirt is well-shaped--with a collar that lies flat and crisp cuffed half sleeves. The details in the denim dress are stitched in gold thread.
The satin belt isn't removable, but the belt loops are realistically sewn:
The dress is all one piece, and it is very easy to get on and off. The back closes with two separate pieces of white velcro:
Even though the shirt is attached to the rest of the dress, the shoulder straps are free, giving the outfit a convincing layered appearance:
The longer side of the skirt has a stitched, decorative pocket flap:
All of the seams in this dress look sturdy, and there are no loose, frayed ends in sight:
I wish the dress was a little bit longer. First of all, you can see all of the way up Dorothy's skirt while she's still in the box, and she doesn't have any cloth or painted underwear. I find this off-putting. Second, I think the asymmetric style of the dress would be more apparent if the overall length was longer and the difference between the two sides could be greater. Otherwise, this is a nice, sturdy dress that compliments Dorothy, is easy to get on and off, and is pleasantly reminiscent of the original movie dress.
Dorothy can't stand without her boots, so here she is propped up on a Zeenie Dollz stand:
The first thing I noticed about Dorothy's body was its weight. She is not a light, cheap-feeling doll. Her torso is hollow, hard plastic but her limbs are made out of solid, flexible vinyl. This isn't the sticky, rubbery vinyl that is found in some dolls' legs (like Bratzillaz or the click-kneed Disney Store dolls) but a substantive, smooth material that flexes without being wobbly. I don't think I have ever seen a doll with this style of limb before.
The bendable limbs do not have any internal joints, so Dorothy technically has only five points of articulation. Her head can look around and tilt up and down a little. Her arms are articulated at the shoulder, and can rotate all of the way around and lift up and down:
The rest of the arm is bendable, but can't hold any positions without pressure being applied:
Dorothy's hips only have limited forward and backward movement. She is not able to do side-to-side splits at all.
Her legs are not as bendable as her arms (probably just because they are thicker) but they still allow other poses to be held temporarily:
I think articulated knees would make a big difference with this doll, but I am not sure what kind of knee joint to suggest. Internal joints are too fragile, and hinged knees wouldn't work with this material.
Dorothy cannot do full front-to-back splits, and so she can't hold this position...
...without tipping over onto one of her arms for support:
Dorothy's unarticulated knees and heavy legs make it impossible for her to sit in a chair, but she can sit on the ground, without even using her arms as supports:
Dorothy has molded, unpainted underwear with her copyright information on the back:
This doll's feet have slightly raised arches and a nice, graceful shape:
Her hands have more detail than her feet, with molded nails and some separation between the fingers:
Dorothy's body proportions are on the natural, realistic side of the fashion doll spectrum, and remind me most of Liv or Disney Store bodies:
|Liv in Wonderland Alexis, Dorothy, 2012 Rapunzel.|
Liv Alexis can share Dorothy's dress, although it seems even shorter on her:
|The boots are too big.|
This dress goes nicely with Alexis' coloring:
And Alexis has articulated arms that can actually hold little Toto:
Dorothy fits into most Liv clothes, especially loose-fitting tops like this coat:
However, the bodices can be slightly tight on some outfits. This Liv dress is tight through the chest, making the skirt stick up in front:
Dorothy also fits into many of the Disney Store Princess outfits, but again the chest area is a little tight and the dresses don't always close perfectly in back.
Here's Dorothy next to J.C. Penney Elsa, who has internal knee joints and rubbery legs. I also put Moxie Girlz Kellan in the picture because I thought perhaps her torso size would be similar to Dorothy's, but she's actually quite a bit smaller.
|J.C. Penney Elsa, Dorothy, Moxie Girlz Kellan.|
Dorothy reminds me of my Kurhn doll, so I wanted to get a picture of these two together. I also added Barbie Midge as a reference:
|Barbie Midge, Dorothy, Kurhn.|
Dorothy and Barbie can share clothes, but yet again Barbie's outfits are a little tight in the chest for Dorothy (that was a surprise). Midge's blue dress works nicely because the top is made out of a stretchable knit.
Dorothy's dress is really short on Midge:
|And the boots are way too big.|
I was eager to unbraid Dorothy's hair for closer inspection, but since I can never seem to get hairstyles back into their original form, I took a few more pictures of her with the crispy pigtails first:
Of course Toto wanted to join in...
When I unbraided Dorothy's hair, I was relieved to find that it is only crispy at the ends. There isn't any styling product anywhere else. The hair comes down in crimped waves with a rooted part in the back:
There were a few chunks of styling residue:
I broke up the stiff clumps of hair with my fingers and then brushed everything out with my wire brush:
The hair is smooth and silky at the top, and rougher at the ends where the styling product was. It has a lot of volume:
The hair fiber feels soft and springy and is easy to brush. It is rooted in rows near the doll's face, like this:
And the rooting becomes more random at the sides of the doll's head, like this:
It's fun to play with the volume in this hair:
I tried re-styling Dorothy's hair into a single ponytail, but it took a few tries to tame the waves and get it reasonably neat:
Despite her blue eyes, Dorothy reminds me of Disney's Belle with her hair like this:
So I had to put her into Belle's dress for a minute:
|She makes a nice princess.|
This isn't a comparison review, and there's really no good reason to compare the Bandai Dorothy to my old Mego Dorothy, but I'll still say that overall, Mego Dorothy's articulation is far superior:
|Bandai Dorothy had to be wired into that chair...|
As for the little dogs, despite my nostalgic attachment to the Mego Toto, I find myself enjoying the Legends of Oz Toto much more than I predicted I would.
The last thing I did with Dorothy is give her hair a quick boil wash to straighten out the braid crimps.
After only one quick dip in the hot water, the hair came out smooth and soft and easy to manage:
Here's one last sequence of pictures with Dorothy and Toto--Dorothy back in her original braids. Note: her hands are tied together in these photographs since they cannot hold this kind of pose on their own.
Bottom line? I was anticipating a stiff-limbed, hollow plastic doll with a cheap outfit and an inexpensive-looking, unarticulated pet dog. That is not what I found.
First of all, Dorothy's body construction is unlike anything I have reviewed before. She has dense, flexible vinyl limbs that do not feel sticky or rubbery. There are no internal knee or elbow joints, so the doll can't hold poses in these areas. This makes her stiff and difficult to photograph, with a very limited number of possible poses. She can't sit in a chair at all. I wish that her hips, in particular, had some additional side-to-side movement, since this would increase her posing repertoire and also help with her overall balance. However, her limbs bend easily, making it possible to manipulate her into a wide variety of temporary poses. For a child holding her and acting out a game, I imagine this would be very satisfying. Overall, the body has a nice, solid weight--there's nothing cheap-feeling about it.
The outfit is a little skimpy. I wish the skirt was longer so that the asymmetrical style would look less like a mistake. However, the construction of the dress is great. It's all one easy-to-use piece, despite looking convincingly like a separate shirt and pinafore. The details are good--especially in the tailoring of the blue gingham top. The boots are not as nice as the dress. They are rubbery and loose, and while they slide easily on and off Dorothy's feet, they wobble around a lot and don't help with the doll's balance as much as they could. The purse is a cute, simple accessory and goes nicely with Dorothy's outfit.
The hair was one of the best surprises. It has a beautiful two-toned auburn brown color, and aside from the crispy curled ends of the pigtails, it is silky and free of styling gel. It is rooted well enough to have a lot of volume, although the frizziness of the brushed-out braids makes re-styling a little tricky. A quick boil wash makes a wonderful difference and I highly recommend this if you're going to take the doll's hair down.
I still don't think that the little Toto figure is as cute as the animated character in the movie, but he has more expression and detail that I expected, and I am impressed with the solid, seamless construction of his body. He makes a nice companion for Dorothy, although I wish that she was able to hold him without the help of rubber bands.
Overall, Dorothy is not the kind of doll that I, personally, tend to look for--mostly because her articulation is so limited. I find her face and hair beautiful, but she simply doesn't hold poses expressively enough for me. However, this doll wasn't designed with someone like me in mind. Dorothy (like the Legends of Oz movie itself) is intended for young kids. She is sturdy and well-made, and her bendable limbs will come to life in the hands of an imaginative child. Beyond being a nice souvenir from the movie, this doll's nonspecific face and clothes-sharing options make her quite versatile. Like the Mego dolls from my past, this Dorothy could gracefully take on any character that her young owner might wish.