Oh, and coincidentally, the Descendants movie premiered yesterday on the Disney Channel (I haven't seen it yet).
With many dolls lines, looking at one of the characters is sufficient because all of the dolls share certain basic features. One of the things I like best about the Descendants dolls is that each character has his or her own unique head mold and coloring. For that reason, my experiences with Jane, Audrey and Lonnie were all a little bit different...and resulted in me liking one of these dolls much more than the other two:
|Coronation Jane, Coronation Lonnie and Signature Audrey from Disney's Descendants movie.|
I won't tell you which doll I like best right away because I want you to be able to form your own opinions, but there was a very clear "winner" for me among this group.
What I will tell you, though, is that I was looking forward to Jane the most. This doll's friendly face, red hair and freckles made me pretty sure I would like her even before I saw her in person.
Jane's box looks very much like Mal's, with a flat corner on one side and a black, white and pink color theme:
As a quick reminder, these dolls come in two versions, the Signature (basic) dolls which are $20 and the Coronation dolls which are $26. Jane is in the Coronation series, Mal was in the Signature series.
Jane's symbol (seen in the upper right hand corner of the box) is not as exciting as Mal's dragon, though. It's just a simple bow:
Jane is the daughter of the Fairy Godmother and is one of the "good" students in the Descendants movie. She attends Auradon Prep with Prince Ben and the other fairy tale offspring.
The blurb on the back of Jane's box reads, "Daughter of the Fairy Godmother, the magic is in her heart." That doesn't give away much, but hints that she's probably a sweetie.
Judging from that one picture of Brenna D'Amico (the actor who plays Jane) on the back of the box, I don't think the doll is a good likeness. After looking at a few other pictures of Ms. D'Amico online, however, I see more of a resemblance. Once again, it's not the most flattering box image.
Jane comes attached to a pink and white backdrop:
My doll had a single strand of hair wrapped around her face, and some unruly tendrils of hair on either side of her head:
All of the accessories (including the shoes) were displayed next to Jane in clear view. None of the Descendants dolls, not even the more expensive Coronation variants, come with stands.
Jane's skirt was held in position by a cardboard half-circle:
Instead of the traditional six million tiny plastic ties attaching the skirt to the backdrop (all leaving tiny holes in their wake...) this skirt was attached to the backdrop with two simple--but effective--cardboard flaps:
The flaps held two large sections of skirt firmly against the backdrop, but they were very easy to release--I only had to push the flaps inward and the skirt was free:
This is a great system! I hope more companies will follow Hasbro's lead.
I never noticed this with Mal's box, but the backdrops have silhouettes of a few of the Disney characters. On this box, it's Sleeping Beauty, the Fairy Godmother and Mulan:
Those three silhouettes are the same on every Auradon Prep ("good" character) box. The Isle of the Lost ("bad" character) boxes have purple backdrops with different silhouettes.
Almost all of Jane's accessories are the same gold color and they have no painted detail. She comes with a bracelet, shoes, and a small clutch purse:
The bracelet has Jane's trademark bow on the front:
And some molded scrolls on the sides:
Her strapped, high-heeled shoes have huge bows on the back:
Her clutch has another big bow...and does not open:
Jane also comes with a ring for a child to wear. This ring is mostly gold, but has yet another bow (this time painted pink) against a white background:
The sides of the ring are especially pretty, with little cut-out hearts and some molded scrolls:
Jane's shoes give her decent balance, but it's tricky to get her legs positioned just right so that she doesn't topple over. I used an Ever After High stand to support her in a lot of the pictures.
The cardboard tabs that held Jane's skirt in place left some wrinkles behind, but I much prefer those wrinkles to the permanent holes left by plastic ties.
My Jane was pretty scruffy right out of the box. The tendril on the right side of her head had a mind of its own, and I couldn't easily move that strand of hair out of her face:
Jane comes with a gold plastic headband in her hair and the headband is decorated with...wait for it...a bow:
The headband was tied to the hair in two places:
Jane is also wearing pink plastic earrings--her only accessory that isn't gold.
|Still has a bow, though.|
Jane comes with an elaborate hairstyle, but I didn't really like how it looked. The tendrils on either side of her face were tied with burgundy thread, but they were so short and curly that I couldn't make them behave:
I didn't really want to take many more pictures of Jane with her hair looking like this...
|Makes me think of Wendy's fast food...|
...so I immediately started to take it down.
Large sections of hair were pulled back from around Jane's face and twisted into a small ponytail at the back, and then all of the hair was tied into a thicker ponytail:
There was an additional small piece of hair on the right side of Jane's head that was looped up and over the ponytail sections to come down and frame Jane's face:
The hairstyle on this doll might be over-ambitious, but the hair color is wonderful. She has at least three different shades in her hair: brown, deep plum red and burgundy.
The first thing I did was take out the big ponytail at the back:
This revealed that the ponytail twists were each held in place with their own clear rubber band. I took those out, too.
Last, I cut the threads that were holding the curly tendrils on either side of Jane's face and...ta da!
Her hair came down...in a big, coarse, frizzy mess.
I knew that Jane had a boil wash in her future, but before I dunked her, I tied her mane back to get a good look at her face:
She has huge, bright blue eyes, an open-mouthed smile and a lot of faint freckles. For some reason she reminds me a lot of Disney's Belle. She could easily have been Belle's daughter.
Her eyebrows give her a slightly nervous expression, which reminds me of what Charlotte said about how eyebrows can completely change the personality of a doll. So true!
The eyes are framed with black lashes and some faint pink eyeshadow. The whole area above the eye is also coated with a layer of fine, clear glitter:
Jane's eyes are done in the same basic style as Mal's, but the size and shape are different. I really like that all of these dolls have their own eye type--not just the same stamp in different colors. Here's Mal's eye as a reminder:
Jane's teeth are very subtle and well-done, and her lips have a nice bright pink color with a little bit of glittery shine:
Jane is wearing a blue ball gown with lace detail and a ribbon-belted waist:
The dress' collar is made out of vinyl and is sewn to the top of the dress. I like the color and cut of this gown, but I don't really like the vinyl collar.
The crude stitches that hold the collar to the dress make me think that this accessory was designed to be removed:
|I removed it right away.|
Jane's body shape and articulation are the same as Mal's, but I had a really hard time getting Jane's knees to bend for the first time. I really thought I was going to break her. In the end, I did get both knees to bend without breaking the joints, but I moved very slowly and carefully.
Next, I boiled Jane's hair and tried to smooth it out. I really wanted to cut the rough ends off, but decided that for this review I would keep all of the hair in tact.
The hair looked great when it was still slightly damp--nice and smooth with a little bit of curl at the ends:
I love how all of the red highlights look when they're mixed evenly throughout the hair.
The rooting is nice on these dolls, too, with very dense hair along the part, and then wider rows towards the back of the head:
As Jane's hair dried, it got pretty frizzy again...but the color is so much fun to play with! Here she is back in her (collar-free) dress:
The gold headband can be used to help tame the hair a little:
I tied Jane's hair back just a little at first:
But then I got frustrated with the coarse ends and eventually tied all of the hair into a braid. This is how I like Jane the best:
Here she is with her original accessories back in place:
As much as I like the color of Jane's hair and the color of her dress, I don't feel like the two go together very well. I think that the pink earrings and pink bow of the dress' collar are supposed to coordinate with the red in Jane's hair...but this doesn't work for me because they don't actually match--they clash. Furthermore, the gold in Jane's headband doesn't really match the glittery gold in her dress.
As many of you know by now, I am a matchy-matchy type of person.
So...I dug around and found a burgundy Stardoll dress for Jane to wear. I paired it with Frights Camera Action! Clawdeen's belt--which goes with the headband and shoes:
I like this look a lot better for Jane:
My experience with Jane was very similar to my experience with Mal. Both dolls had hair that was unacceptable right out of the box, and both had outfits that didn't completely work for me.
Jane had the additional problem of being difficult to move at first, and her hair remains coarse and unruly even after washing. In contrast, Mal's hair turned out very nicely after a boil wash and a quick cut.
On the other hand, I prefer Jane's freckled face to Mal's, and also like Jane's slightly darker and pinker vinyl color. I adore the colors in Jane's hair.
Let's see how the Audrey doll compares to Mal and Jane:
This is the Signature (basic) version of Audrey, and so her box is smaller than Jane's. Her symbol is a flying bird, which is better than a bow but not quite as fun as a dragon:
The words on the back of Audrey's box say, "Daughter of Sleeping Beauty, waking her inner beauty." That's not very creative in the rhyming department. It also implies that Audrey might be a pill at first, but then finds her better self or something like that. I have no idea if that's actually Audrey's story arc in the movie.
I think the doll looks more like Sarah Jeffery than the picture on the back of the box. How do they get these shots? That dress is super-cute, though.
Audrey has the same pink backdrop as all of the other Auradon Prep dolls:
Unfortunately, I got an Audrey with slightly wonky eyes:
Unlike Jane, Audrey comes with accessories in a range of colors with a lot of painted detail. I wondered if this was a difference between the Coronation and Signature dolls.
Audrey comes with a purse, a bracelet and a pair of shoes:
The shoes look really nice when they're not on the doll. They have a painted white pearl border and silver roses on the heel:
However, something about the style of these shoes makes them always look like they're on the wrong feet:
They're just not as cute when Audrey is wearing them.
The bracelet is really nice, though:
And the purse is great--although the decorative theme here is all about flowers, not birds. Because Jane's bow symbol was so pervasive in her accessories, I assumed that Audrey would have a lot of bird items accompanying her. Incidentally, the Coronation version of Audrey has a lot of birds in the accessories.
There is a little bird sticker in Audrey's purse, though!
Here's Audrey herself:
This doll's hair was the first thing to grab my attention. It's hard to ignore. She's got a rat's nest of matted hair in the back, a lopsided headpiece hanging off the left side of her face, and a strange curl sticking out straight to the right:
The texture of the hair is really bad. Also, it came matted down with a large quantity of stiff, slightly sticky styling product. This whole mass of hair moved as a single clump:
The hairstyle was also highly unflattering.
I like the cute bird design on the headpiece, but there's just way too much going on here.
The headpiece was tied to the hair with white thread, and the hair itself was tied back with brown thread and rubber bands on either side. What a mess.
Underneath her mass of hair, Audrey was wearing cute little rose-shaped stud earrings:
Once again, I was dealing with a doll that had unmanageable hair right out of the box. There was simply no way to make this doll look good as she was presented:
I snipped the threads holding the headpiece in place and took that off. This revealed a brown rubber band in the hair underneath:
I took the thread and rubber bands out of Audrey's hair and tried to brush it out. That didn't help.
Brushing this hair did cause sticky white flakes to rain down all over my clothes, though.
Even with a lot of the styling product brushed out, the hair maintained a slightly sticky, dry feel.
I can't picture giving this doll to a child without doing something to the hair first. The little sticky flakes of styling product would get all over the place. Yuck.
Using my fingers to smooth the hair, I was able to get poor Audrey to look a little bit better:
She has such a cute face, but the hair is overpowering. Another boil wash was certainly necessary.
Before I got Audrey wet, I inspected her outfit. One of the reasons that I chose this version of Audrey is that I really like her short pink dress:
The vinyl belt matches the design of the headpiece, but the concept works much better as a belt.
The belt unfastens and can easily be removed:
The top of Audrey's dress has a mesh neckline accented with bright blue ribbon stripes and a collar. This area is a little lopsided on my doll, but I still really appreciate the design.
I boil-wahsed Audrey's hair and re-dressed her. The washing removed the remaining styling product from the hair, which was nice, but didn't make a huge difference in the texture or volume.
The hair is thicker on the right side of Audrey's face, so pulling that part of the hair back makes it much easier to appreciate her features:
Audrey has wide brown side-glancing eyes and a big toothy smile:
Audrey is showing more teeth than Jane, but I still think the mouth is nicely done.
My doll has a bit of hair stuck into the matte pink paint of her lips, though.
Despite her slightly wonky gaze, Audrey can be made to look at the camera:
I think Audrey's face is really adorable.
The shape of Audrey's eyes is very similar to--but not exactly the same as--Jane's eyes. Audrey's upper eyelid is set a bit lower, and her eyebrows are higher--removing the apologetic look that Jane has.
Here's Jane's eye as a reminder:
In contrast to my experience with Mal and Jane, I liked almost everything about Audrey's outfit right from the start. I just didn't like the headpiece very much. With the headpiece removed, I didn't feel the need to supplement or change this outfit in any way.
I did struggle to find the right style for Audrey's washed hair, though. I tried just the single hair clip at the side:
This looks ok in pictures, and it frames Audrey's face nicely, but the hair just doesn't feel very good or move well at all.
I ended up feeling--as I did with Jane--that the hair looked best when it was pulled all of the way back away from the face. In Audrey's case, this involved twisting the sides into a big, lose ponytail:
After looking at Audrey, a definite trend was emerging with these dolls: they do not have good factory hair. Audrey's hair is probably the worst of the three so far. Boil-washing her hair removed the sticky styling gel, but the hair remains coarse, tangle-prone and hard to play with. I also think Audrey has the least interesting color of hair--nothing as fun as Mal's purple streaks or Jane's mix of red highlights.
On the up side, Audrey has a nice vinyl color (it can look a little green in pictures, but does not strike me that way in real life) and an adorable dress. Not only does the dress compliment Audrey's coloring, but it has a great mix of modern elements and reminders of the original Disney Sleeping Beauty character. I wish that the shoes looked less frumpy and that all of the blues matched...but those are relatively small criticisms.
The last character I will look at today is Coronation Lonnie. She is the daughter of Mulan:
Mulan's name has something to do with an orchid (most translations say "wood orchid") so Lonnie's symbol is a flower (an orchid--or maybe a magnolia, which is a "woody orchid").
I have to get this off my chest right at the beginning: I do not care for this girl's name. It follows along with the cutesy naming theme of the other Descendants characters, but I don't feel like it works at all. First of all, it's very masculine--short for the Germanic name Alonzo, I think. Also, it's not even vaguely Chinese. Why not Lei (meaning flower bud) instead? That seems perfect for the daughter of the magnolia flower warrior. Even a different spelling, like Lani, would be better in my eyes.
I might call her Lei or Lani after I'm done with this review...or even Leilani (which means "heavenly flowers" and is one of my favorite names). Leilani sounds a lot like Mulan, but it's Hawaiian in origin--not Chinese.
In any case, Lonnie's saying from the back of the box is "Daughter of Mulan, blossoming new friendships."
The picture of Dianne Doan is pretty good. One of the best box pictures in this line, I'd say. The doll vaguely resembles Ms. Doan, and the dress is a wonderful replica:
I think this doll has a beautiful presentation. No wonky eyes or stray hairs:
Lonnie's accessories contradict my earlier assumption that the Coronation dolls have simpler, un-painted accessories. Lonnie's shoes and clutch purse are both gold, but she also has a bright red comb, and all of her accessories have painted details:
She comes with a magnolia ring for kids to wear:
All together, Lonnie comes with a ring, a purse, shoes, and a dragon comb:
The shoes have molded leaves along the sides and a blue painted accent in the front:
The ring has a sparkly pink flower against a blue background:
And un-painted molded flowers along the edges:
The purse doesn't open and seems drab to me, even though it has some blue painted geometric shapes along the side:
|Lonnie stole this from Cleo de Nile, I think.|
The best accessory is this red and blue dragon comb. It's really cute:
It even has two little beady blue eyes in the front:
I assumed that Lonnie came with the dragon comb instead of a bracelet, but she comes wearing a simple pink bracelet, too:
Lonnie actually balances pretty well on her own. Her shoes have nice sturdy heels.
As we saw with Jane, the packaging creates some wrinkles in the back of the dress, but these hang out over time.
Lonnie's hair looks nice right out of the box:
There are a few areas of hair in the back that are stiff with styling product, but it's not overwhelming:
Lonnie is wearing a small comb tiara with a shimmering pink flower:
And she has the most incredible little origami crane earrings. I love these:
Lonnie's hairstyle is fairly simple. There's a twisted bun on the left side of her head...
..and a plain little side ponytail on the right:
The tiara is sewn into the hair:
But it also has comb-like gripping teeth, so presumably it can be used even after the threads are cut.
At first I figured I would leave Lonnie's hair in its original set and not even cut out the tiara. She looks really nice with no modifications:
Ok, so I've given it away already, haven't I? Lonnie is my favorite of all the Descendants dolls...by a long shot. There's no point in trying to keep that a secret anymore. She's gorgeous.
She has a serene, closed-mouth smile and light brown eyes:
Lonnie's smile is similar to Mal's but I'm still pretty sure that each doll has her own unique face mold. Mal's nose is different and her upper lip is painted and molded differently:
Lonnie's eyelashes have the same style as the other dolls' lashes, but they are brown--not black. She also has fewer lower lashes. I like the shape of her eyes and the subtle peach eyeshadow that coordinates so well with her dress:
Lonnie's gown has the high collar and shimmering floral print of a qipao, with a wide belt and sleeves more like Mulan's Hanfu clothing:
I thought at first that the asymmetrical neckline of the dress was meant to make it look like a wraparound style, but after seeing the dress from the movie, it's clear that this is intended as a modern update:
All of the details in the dress are nicely done, and the fabric has a substantial weight--not the flimsy synthetic feel of many doll clothes.
Even before I did anything to Lonnie's hair, she was extremely photogenic:
After I snapped these pictures, I tried brushing Lonnie's hair.
I don't know if you can see this in the pictures, but brushing generated a fair number of sticky white dandruff flakes--especially in the ponytail on the left side of the head:
This was really, really minor compared to the dandruff dump on Audrey and Mal, but it did make me want to take Lonnie's hair down and wash out all of the gunk.
Her hair washed out really well, but the kink from the twisted bun was hard to get rid of. You can still see a wave in the hair on Lonnie's left side:
The hair has a nice, smooth texture and is very fun to style.
I love pretty much everything about Coronation Lonnie. She has a beautiful face, great hair, an attractive outfit and fun accessories. Her earrings and dragon comb are especially awesome. Even though I did boil wash Lonnie's hair, it would have been fine to display or play with it in its original style. I highly recommend this doll.
Now that I have de-boxed four out of the five female Descendants characters, let's take a look at the range in vinyl colors. Each doll has her own shade:
|From left: Mal, Lonnie, Jane and Audrey.|
Mal is extremely pale, Lonnie has a yellowish hue (especially when she's standing next to Mal or Jane...), Jane is pink and Audrey is light brown.
In these lineups, Lonnie looks too yellow, Jane looks too pink, and Mal looks ghostly pale. However, all of the dolls seem fine when I look at them alone.
The only female character I haven't de-boxed yet is Evie. I have Evie, but she's in a set with Carlos...who I want to review separately.
Evie has electric blue hair and a mischievous grin:
Evie also has her own skin tone; she's close in color to Jane, but has more of a brown tinge than a pink one.
Here's Jane's leg on top of Evie's:
Actually, a better way to show the full range of skin tones is to just show the hands. Since these dolls have removable hands, I was able to include Evie's hand in a lineup--without even de-boxing her.
|From left: Mal, Lonnie, Jane, Evie and Audrey.|
Here's another angle:
|From left: Mal, Lonnie, Jane, Evie and Audrey.|
And here's a closer shot of the three most similar hands:
|From left: Lonnie, Jane and Evie.|
I think I like Evie's vinyl color best.
*Update! By request, here's a picture of Audrey with Monster High's Clawdeen to put the darker skin tone in some context:
*Update! By request, here's a picture of Audrey with Monster High's Clawdeen to put the darker skin tone in some context:
Here's a quick look at all of the faces so far so you can see the differences and pick your own favorite:
Audrey and Jane compete for the cutest face (it's those huge eyes...), with Audrey winning by a little bit in my eyes. Lonnie is the prettiest, and Mal looks like a cunning troublemaker.
Here are the faces again up-close, just in case you want to see anything in more detail.
And Evie, too:
Now, here's another look at the full-body shots of each doll that I have de-boxed:
I really like Lonnie and Audrey's outfits just as they are. Jane's dress is okay without the vinyl collar, and I like Mal's strange jacket least of all.
I like the color of Jane's hair the best, but I vastly prefer the texture of Lonnie and Mal's hair. Audrey's hair is a huge mess, and Evie's hair looks frighteningly similar to Audrey's. I suspect that all of these dolls have low-quality nylon hair, and the only way this fiber works on a doll is if the hair is perfectly straight.
In terms of accessories, Jane's are the most boring (almost all gold with no painted decorations) while Lonnie's (the crane earrings!) and Mal's (the dragon book!) are the most interesting.
Mal and Audrey's accessories.
Jane and Lonnie's accessories.
Mal still has the best shoes:
|From left: Mal, Lonnie, Jane and Audrey's shoes.|
Comparing the outfits and accessories of these dolls isn't really all that useful, since two of them are from the Signature group and two of them are from the Coronation group, but I can't help myself from comparing. I like running little contests in my head.
The face, skin tone, and hair comparisons are more worthwhile, since these features seem fairly constant from one group of dolls to the next.
Here's one last picture of each of my dolls as they are now--redressed and/or fixed up
|Disney Descendants Signature Mal (redressed with her hair cut).|
|Disney Descendants Signature Audrey.|
|Disney Descendants Coronation Jane (redressed).|
|Disney Descendants Coronation Lonnie.|
Bottom line? My overall thoughts about the Disney Descendants line have not changed much since I reviewed Mal.
In general, these dolls have serious hair issues. Three out of my four dolls had hair that really needed to be washed and re-styled. Mal and Audrey were the worst, but I wouldn't give any of these dolls to a child without first washing out the styling product residue. The simple act of brushing the un-washed hair made a huge, sticky mess all over my clothing. Even after washing, Audrey and Jane's hair is still dry and coarse. Coronation Lonnie is the exception here. Her hair had a bit of styling product in it, and the hair is certainly better now that it's washed, but overall she has very nice hair and I would happily give her to a child right out of the box.
The outfits are also hit-or-miss in this line. The dresses all seem well-made, but the overall style and cohesion of the looks is less reliable. For example, I really love Lonnie's gown and think it compliments her accessories and makeup beautifully. However, Jane's dress has a strange vinyl collar and the pale blue palette doesn't do anything to show off her unusual burgundy-streaked hair or plentiful gold accessories.
I'm still excited about the great articulation in these dolls, although Jane's ultra-stiff knee joints gave me pause. Jane is fine, but it felt for all the world like I was going to break off her legs while trying to bend her knees for the first time. This is a lingering concern for me.
The great news is that my hopes about the diversity in this line have proved true. Each of the female characters has her own unique face mold and skin tone, which is fantastic. This variety has created five very distinct dolls, each of whom has at least a few features that I really like. The variety has also managed to produce one doll that I completely adore: Coronation Lonnie. I'm very curious to see if people all react differently to these characters and their fun mix of qualities, or if the majority of opinions will converge on the same favorite. Which girl do you like best?