Friday, October 17, 2014

The Elsa Mini Doll Wardrobe Set from The Disney Store

To follow up on Zoe's great review of the Frozen Ice Skating set, I want to do a quick review of one of the other new products from the Disney Store: a Mini Doll Wardrobe set.  There are quite a few of these new wardrobe-themed playsets available on the Disney Store site, and they include characters like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and even the Frozen princesses.  When I saw that the wardrobe version of mini Elsa is wearing her blue ice dress (rather than the coronation clothing of the first mini Elsa), I knew this was the set for me--especially because it's hard to know when these items will sell out again!

I will try to give a fair, objective review here, but you know what a soft spot I have for perfect little miniatures of larger dolls...and just look at these two!

Elsa Mini Doll Wardrobe set
J.C. Penney 12" Elsa doll (left) and Elsa from the Mini Wardrobe set (right).
The wardrobe sets cost $24.95 each.  If, like me, you have to order online, shipping and tax raises this to just over $30.  The set appears to deliver a lot for the price, though, and all of the items come nicely displayed in a rectangular window box:


The back of the box has a minimal amount of text and two small portraits of Elsa and Olaf.  


The set has many pieces, including two complete outfits and a mini Olaf figure...which was a big selling point for me.

At least Olaf got billing over the hangers.
Here's another picture of the display, with the glare-inducing plastic window removed:

Elsa Mini Doll Wardrobe set




Many of the items in this set are enclosed within plastic casings that attach to the cardboard backdrop with little tabs.  You can see a lot of the tabs sticking out the back of the cardboard, here:


These tabs can be folded and inserted back through the cardboard--releasing the items without the need for scissors.  De-boxing wasn't quite this simple, though, as some of the accessories were tied in place with wire, thread, or the dreaded plastic ties.

The wardrobe, Olaf and the little stool were very easy to remove:


But the doll, her outfit and the smaller accessories required a bit more work:


The dressing screen, dress form, tiara, shoes and hangers were all enclosed within plastic, and the doll and outfit were secured with thread, wire, and plastic ties.

Freed from their plastic shells.
Here's everything that was in the set:


I could not get Elsa to stand up at all--unless she was leaning against the heavy wardrobe:


Closer examination of her feet helped explain this.  Elsa's tiny feet are pointed--more like ballet feet than fashion feet, and they're also made out of a very bendable vinyl.  Her slipper shoes come tied to her feet with clear rubber bands:

Even the rubber bands are criss-crossed to resemble ballet laces.
While it's not a perfect fit, I found that I could use an old Littlest Pet Shop Blythe doll stand to help Elsa stay upright.  The waist grip of this small stand can fit around the middle of Elsa's rubbery thighs:


I was struck by what a perfect replica this little doll is to the J.C. Penney version of the 12 inch Elsa doll.  Without scale references in the photographs, I think it's hard to tell that this doll is only 5.5 inches tall.


I think Elsa's face and hair are particularly good for this size of doll:

Elsa Mini Doll Wardrobe set

Her hair has the same long braided style with (crispy) curled tendrils swept back over the top of her head.



She has bright blue side-glancing eyes and heavy purple eyeshadow

Elsa Mini Doll Wardrobe set

Here is the 12 inch Elsa's face (left, below) next to the mini Elsa's face:


I almost like the mini face better!


There are some small bubbles and paint defects on the mini doll's face that are clearly visible in extreme close-ups, but these imperfections are almost impossible to see in real life.


One of the reasons I have been comparing this mini doll to the Parks or J.C. Penney version of the 12 inch Elsa doll is the dress.  The dress does not have any detail on the train like the Disney Store's 12 inch Classic Elsa.  Instead, this doll wears a blue dress with a sparkling bodice and a glittery sheer train with no ornamentation:


The bodice does not have a sweetheart neckline or a v-shaped waist, but it does have fitted darts on the sides and long sheer sleeves:


The satiny blue skirt of the dress has a high slit with unfinished edges:


The dress closes in back with a small strip of velcro, and is pretty easy to get off.


The detailed stitching on the inside of the dress looks impressive, and other than a few unfinished edges, this garment seems very well-made for such a tiny thing.


Here's mini Elsa next to the 12 inch J.C. Penney Elsa--you can see how similar the dresses are, and also the relative size of the two dolls:


There are just slight differences in the cut of the bodice and in the degree to which some of the edges are finished.   


I get such a kick out of the similarities between these two!  So many things are the same--from the fabrics in their dresses to the shape of their arms:

I tried a mini Pullip stand to show off Elsa's articulation, but as you can see, this stand isn't a great fit, either:


I have never de-boxed a Disney Store mini doll before, so waiting to see the body style was really suspenseful for me.  I did not expect articulated knees on this doll, but she actually has tiny internal click knee joints!  Even though this style of knee joint is not my favorite in general, it was pretty cool to find it on a 5 inch doll.  

Elsa has a grand total of 7 points of articulation--the same as the J.C. Penney 12 inch Elsa doll.  Her arms are rotating hinges, and can spin all around and also lift up and away from her body:



Elsa's legs are made out of a very flexible vinyl, but they still have miniature t-jointed rotating hips:



The movement in Elsa's hips has a slightly different, less-precise feel than the movement in her shoulders.  This is because of the rubbery vinyl material in her legs.  Still, Elsa can sit on the ground, do decent side splits...


...and excellent front-back splits:


The internal knee joints have a pretty good amount of flexibility--better than the 2014 Disney Store 12 inch dolls, that's for sure.


Elsa can even sit on the small stool that comes with this set:


The top of the stool has a simple gold pattern on it:


The shoes had fallen off at this point, but look at what the rubber bands did to poor Elsa's feet!


Without those rubber bands, though, it's very difficult to keep the shoes on Elsa's pointed feet.  They fall off constantly.  I am no fan of painted shoes in general, but that might have been a more practical solution for a doll this small.

Slippery slippers.
This set came with an extra outfit for Elsa.  The dress looks just like the one from the Frozen Mini Doll set, but it comes with a purple cape:


Here's the dress up close:


The dress has a glittery skirt and a plain bodice with a sweetheart neckline.  Under the blue part of the bodice is a high-collared black blouse with three-quarter sleeves.  The edges of the sweetheart neckline are not finished, nor are they attached to the underlying black blouse.

The cape also has a high collar and a small square of velcro at the front:


This dress fits Elsa very nicely, although it takes an extra minute or two to get the small sleeves on over her fingers.



The cape can fit over the dress, but it's very tight.  The velcro looks strained and the cape hugs Elsa's shoulders:



The cape's volume is mostly in the back, and it's a bit creased in this area (and also has a few visible holes from the plastic ties):


To help store her extra outfit, Elsa comes with a dress form:


This item is made out of hollow plastic and is very lightweight. It falls over easily.


The dresses do fit nicely on the form, though:

Invisible Elsa.
The focal point of this set is a large purple wardrobe:

It looks great.
The wardrobe is made out of fairly heavy plastic, and has two decorated doors that can open and close:

The rectangular holes at the edges of the doors are so you can grab the doors with your fingers.
Inside, the wardrobe has two light blue hanging rods:


The set's two pink hangers fit nicely on these rods:


But with a dress on the hanger, the fit is not as good:


The dresses do fit on the hangers, but the arms of the hangers are pretty short, so both dresses tend to slip around or fall off the hangers completely.

The doors of the wardrobe can come off (intentionally or not) but they can be re-seated without too much trouble.  I do wonder if repeated detachment of these doors might weaken the connection over time.


This wardrobe looks great, but it's hard to use.  Maybe my hands are just too big?

The set also comes with a black plastic dressing screen that is decorated on one side:


The panels of this screen can also fall off or be removed, but they'll go back on again.


The screen is a little short, but would preserve some of Elsa's modesty if she needed to change.


Olaf is such a great character in the Frozen movie, I smile every time I think about him.  I have seen some figures that don't do this goofy fellow's features any justice, but this version manages to replicate some of Olaf's charm:

I'm Olaf and I like warm hugs!
The wide, toothy grin is great, and I like the detail in the large carrot nose:

I don't have a skull.  Or bones.
There are some sloppy painting defects here and there, but nothing too glaring:


The most awkward part of this figure is the seam between Olaf's head and the top of his mouth.  This seam has a visible gap that I think interferes with the snowman's expression:

In summer!!
This is not the best interpretation of Olaf that I have seen, bit he's a good size for Elsa and a fun accessory.

The set also comes with a small plastic tiara for Elsa.  It's a little tricky to fit this on her head without disrupting the hair, but it can be tucked in under the curled tendrils:


As you can see, the headband doesn't lay flat against Elsa's head:




I like Elsa in her coronation gown, but I prefer her in the beautiful blue ice dress, so I decided to change her clothes again before doing some comparison shots.

Changing Elsa back into her ice gown was tricky.  Again, the tight sleeves are hard to navigate with Elsa's splayed fingers.


I was nervous about poking a hole in the sheer material of the sleeves. However, even though Elsa's arms and hands are made out of hard plastic, her fingers are so small and thin, the plastic has a lot of bend in this area, and the fingers can be pushed through the sleeves without much risk of poking holes.  Having said that, I wouldn't advise using force to get the arms through.

Another problem is that there's a folded hem on the inside of each sleeve cuff and if Elsa's hand gets stuck there, her arm has to be backed out and re-positioned.  Unfortunately, the more this hem is snagged, the more it sticks out and gets snagged again.  I suspect that dressing this doll could get very, very frustrating for young children.

I did manage to get this doll in and out of her dress several times.  I noticed that the more I dressed this doll, the harder it got.  One time, I taped her fingers together with a small strip of masking tape.  This strategy helped, but it was fairly time-consuming and isn't practical for kids.  

Good thing the dress looks so nice once it's on!



Here's Elsa in a lineup with some of my other small dolls.  As you can see, Elsa is in a size class all her own:

Littlest Pet Shop Blythe, American Girl mini from McDonald's, Elsa, Moxie Girlz Tally, Ty Li'l Ones.
Of the dolls I own, the most similar in scale to Elsa is my mini Barbie Rapunzel:


This Barbie is cute, but she has slightly freaky purple eyes:


Here are the two dolls without their clothes so that you can see the differences in their bodies:


Barbie is taller and significantly wider in the chest than Elsa, and so these two can't share clothes.  Also, Barbie can't bend her knees and has simple rotating hip joints that can't move from side-to-side.  However, I do like Barbie's impossible-to-lose painted shoes.

The last thing I wanted to do for this review is take Elsa's hair down to check the rooting. 


She has an impressive amount of blonde hair.  There's a lot of styling product in this hair (especially at the top) so it's hard to gauge the texture of the hair fiber, but the thickness looks and feels good and there are no obvious bald spots in back.


If the hair is parted, the rooting looks a little thin in back, but I think this is pretty good for a 5 inch doll.


The best thing about the hair is that it was easy to get back into the original style.  Those shorter tendrils might become messy and hard to manage over time, but at least the long braid can be undone and then successfully restored.

Here are a few more pictures of Elsa with Olaf:

Elsa Mini Doll Wardrobe set
She's en pointe!


Elsa Mini Doll Wardrobe set



Elsa Mini Doll Wardrobe set

Bottom Line?  As an adult collector and a huge fan of miniature dolls, I enjoy this set simply because of Elsa.  She is a very nicely-done replica of the larger Disney Store dolls.  I think her face has a lot of character and doesn't seem distorted or simplified from the full-scale version.  Her hair is long and easy to style, although I suspect that the crispy tendrils of hair around her face will relax and become messier over time.  Her dress is a wonderful replica of the J.C. Penney 12" Elsa doll's dress (or the 16" Singing Elsa's dress) and adequately captures Elsa's ice princess look from the movie.  Even the articulation on this doll is great.  I was delighted to find seven points of articulation, including click knee joints that seem to work well.  

The majority of the accessories are fine, but I don't feel like I will ever use them.  They seem better designed for display than for play.  The wardrobe looks beautiful and has a nice, hefty weight.  It's also easy to open the doors.  However, putting the clothes on the hangers is difficult, and then getting the hangers onto the hanging rods without dropping the dress is harder.  Even when everything is in place, the dresses are too long to fit in the wardrobe nicely.  The dress form and the changing screen also look great, and the dress form holds the dresses well, but both of these items are light and flimsy.  The dress form topples over all of the time and the dressing screen tends to lose its panels.  The tiara is pretty, but it's hard to put on Elsa's head without messing up her hair.  The shoes look like ballet slippers and fall off way too easily.  The stool is fine, and Elsa can sit on it nicely, but it's generally unremarkable.  

My favorite accessories in this set are the extra outfit and the little Olaf figure.  Olaf has some paint defects and an odd-looking facial seam, but I can let it go.  Elsa's extra outfit looks great when it's on, and even includes the purple cape from the movie.  The problem with the extra outfit is that pulling the sleeves on over the doll's hands is too hard to invite frequent outfit changes.  In fact, that's the biggest problem with this entire set: it's a set designed around a huge wardrobe and multiple dresses, but changing the doll's clothes is hard...and actually gets harder the more you do it.

If this well-done mini Elsa had been offered separately for $10 or under, I would be unreservedly ecstatic.  Furthermore, at this lower price, I would also be busy right now--heading back to the Disney Store to purchase more mini princesses.  I absolutely adore this doll and think she is a wonderful replica of my 12 inch Elsa, but for $30, I feel bogged down by all of the mediocre extras that I didn't need.  Elsa is a gem, but her unnecessary accessories don't quite measure up.

Elsa Mini Doll Wardrobe set

19 comments:

  1. Great review, Emily! I completely agree with you about all of the "extras"...it's such a bummer that they don't just sell her separately (for all of us grown-up collectors that just want the flippin' doll, lol.) I love the shots of her next to the 12in Elsa..it makes her so tempting to collect!
    Olaf, such a charmer. I can almost picture the words coming out of his mouth..."I like to consider myself a love expert" ;)

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    1. Hi Farrah! I know what you mean about Olaf! It's hard not to love every incarnation of him. This is a pretty cute figure, too, and I am glad he's in scale with Elsa. The mini dolls sold on their own would be like candy to me--so hard to resist not collecting all of them! I can also see kids toting these small dolls around everywhere. They'd so easily fit in a purse or even a pocket! My Elsa is perched on my laptop right now--keeping me company as I type. ;D

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    2. Lol, love it! I have one of the mini Sparkle Girlz perched by mine computer ;)

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  2. This was interesting to see; I'd never seen an out-of-box Disney Store mini doll before and had always assumed that they were non-articulated figurines. I'm impressed to find out that I was wrong!

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    1. I assumed the same thing! I am so glad I decided to de-box this set. Now I am curious about the articulation on the mini boy dolls!

      I am feeling more impressed with this mini Elsa than I was with the newest 12" Disney dolls! That might be due in part to the fact that Elsa's new and she's better than I expected, but still. She's a great mini.

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  3. "But I can LET IT GO..."
    #lovefrozenpuns
    I seriously do love frozen puns!

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    1. LOL! Sorry! I am wondering if there will ever be a day in my house when we stop singing "Let it go!" every time someone accidentally adds that to their sentence. ;D

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  4. I am so impressed by mini Elsa! I was definitely not expecting her to be such a well done doll--she's wonderfully made, especially for her size. It's disappointing (but perhaps not unexpected?) that she's so hard to dress.

    Even if her wardrobe isn't practical, I love it, too--this is a really beautiful set.

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    1. Hi Holly! Isn't Elsa great? You're right that it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise that she's hard to dress. I don't see an easy way around it, either, except if maybe the hands were more rounded and ball-shaped...or if the sleeves on the dress were short (but that wouldn't look anywhere near as good).

      The wardrobe and other accessories really do look nice, that's true. The painted flowers give a wonderful backdrop for the doll and are very true to the movie. These pieces could be used to create a very nice diorama!

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  5. I've been so tempted to get this set, but I also want the toddler animators collection Elsa. They're both around the same price, what would you recommend?

    p.s: have you checked the new Gogo Tomago doll, from the upcoming movie Big Hero 6. I'm hoping you review her at some point

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  6. Man... if this had existed when I was a kid, I would have just adored it. I loved little dolls with extra clothing. As an adult, I'm not really into movie spin off dolls, but as a kid, I would have played with this for hours. Now I have to go check out the other sets. :)

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  7. why does she suddenly have black shoes at the end

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  9. Thanks for the review!. The doll is beautiful but as you say the price is excessive with all the extras (in Spain it's 30 euros!). I was thinking about getting a mini princess, probably Elsa, and changing the body to a picconeemo azone, because the head is great but I don't like the body so much.

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  10. I saw these sets at Disney World last month and really fell in love with the look of the mini dolls. I ended up purchasing the 4-pack Frozen set because like you, I didn't feel the wardrobe and extras were worth the additional price. Plus who can resist mini Hans and Kristoff?

    Great review, though I was hoping there would have been a comparison photo with the 17" singing Elsa.

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  11. Muy hermosas! Yo quiero uno!

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  12. Have you tried the set with all four characters? It is amazing. I love all the dolls and was surprised at how articulate they were, as well as the detail. It's amazing. Thanks for your detailed reviews - it makes buying some expensive dolls easier when you know what you are getting.

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  13. Great review, and I agree about the useless accessories.
    But I disagree about the painted shoes.

    Have you ever taken a photo with the mini, the regular and the maxi singing dolls all side by side? I think that it would be very nice to see.

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