I was doing some college shopping at Target with my husband, and we, you know, just happened to pass through the toy aisle. He was geeking out over Project Mc2 Bryden's coding shirt while I wandered further down the aisle and discovered some highly-articulated dolls from Bandai that showed real promise: they had appealing anime faces, visible wrist and elbow joints (yay!), and only cost $14.99 each. There was even an intriguing ladybug theme...which I didn't quite understand. The only problem was that I had no idea who the characters--"Miraculous" Marinette and Adrien--were. Remember, I don't have cable television in my house, nor do I have any children under the age of sixteen.
I left these two in the store that day, but they were never far from my mind. A few weeks later, when life settled down a little, I finally watched the Miraculous show...and then quickly went back to the store and bought the dolls. This show is great--I love it! I think I even binge-watched it, although my kids tell me that I don't understand the true intensity associated with that term. I watched nine episodes in one day. Does that count? Regardless, the only question I had after watching the show was; are the dolls worthy? Today, I'll answer that question by taking a close look at both the Marinette and the Adrien doll from this series:
|Marienette (left) and Adrien (right) from the Miraculous television series. $14.99 each.|
The Miraculous television show is a CGI cartoon that was created in France by Zagtoon and Method Animation. It airs in the United States on Nickelodeon (with dubbed voices). The full name of the show is Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. The basic plot is that two French teenagers (Marinette and Adrien) have the ability to transform into magical animal-people with special powers (Ladybug and Cat Noir). These young superheroes are tasked with keeping Paris safe from an evil villain (Hawk Moth) and the innocent people he enchants to do his bidding.
Bandai's 10" doll collection includes four dolls: Marinette and Adrien as normal high school students, and also each character in their magical animal form. When I was at Target, the only dolls in stock were the plain clothes versions:
There's a strong ladybug theme to the packaging, but otherwise it's hard to tell from looking at these two dolls what the premise of the television show might be. I mean, a ladybug is not an obvious choice for a superhero...although it ends up being an excellent choice. Still, I had to watch several episodes of the show before I actually understood what was going on.
Today I will honor the ladies first (or ladybugs first...) tradition and look at Marinette before I look at Adrien:
The front of the box has a picture of the CGI Marinette character--I think she's adorable:
|And she has blue hair, which is awesome.|
Those big, blue CGI eyes make me wish that the doll had inset eyes. That would have made her much more accurate to the show. Plus, I really like dolls with inset eyes.
The side of the box has a picture of regular Marinette standing next to Ladybug (who is essentially just Marinette in a bug suit with a small red mask:
What I think is funny about Ladybug is that nobody in the show knows who she is (not even Marinette's closest friends). I don't think that skimpy mask would actually hide someone's true identity. Although...Clark Kent seems to get away with hiding his Superman identity by wearing a pair of glasses, so what do I know?
The back of the box has a picture of the cartoon Marinette alongside the prototype doll:
You can see already that the clothing on the doll is a good match:
At the top of the box is a very brief description of Marinette's character--in seven languages:
It says that Marinette transforms into Miraculous Ladybug with the help of her pet, Tikki.
It took me a while to figure out the role of the small pets in Ladybug and Cat Noir's transformations. The pets are pictured on the fronts of the boxes. They're tiny, flying, humanoid versions of a ladybug and a cat:
Ladybug's pet, Tikki, and Cat Noir's pet, Plagg.
These little guys are called Kwamis and they help Marinette and Adrien transform into their superhero selves. Also necessary for the transformation is a special jewel object called a Miraculous...hence the name of the show. The Kwamis can go inside the Miraculous jewelry and offer special powers and special weapons to their wearers.
Ladybug's Miraculous is a pair of earrings. Tikki goes into the earrings when Marinette becomes Ladybug. Ladybug's special power is called Lucky Charm. This power creates an object that will help Ladybug out of her current predicament. Ladybug's weapon is a yo-yo...which is also a compact. This is slightly confusing to me. The yo-yo makes an awesome weapon, though.
Cat Noir's Miraculous is a ring. His Kwami, Plagg, goes into the ring during his transformation. Cat Noir's special power is called Cataclysm. This power allows him to destroy something with a swipe of his paw. Cat Noir's weapon is an expanding staff that he likes to twirl around.
The back of Marinette's box has small pictures of the Ladybug and Cat Noir dolls. These dolls come with their special weapons, but the Miraculous jewelry is missing. The earrings and ring aren't on the plain clothes dolls, either. Did the doll designers even watch the show? These details are pretty important.
As a little aside: when I'm watching the show, I giggle every time Hawk Moth says "Bring me their Miraculouses!" (he's constantly trying to steal Ladybug's earrings and Cat Noir's ring). I don't think the word "miraculous" was meant to be pluralized. Hawk Moth is this big creepy guy and he always ends up sounding silly or drunk when he says this.
|I'll have your Miraculoussessesss...es?|
I like the word "Miraculi" much better. Sounds more sinister and commanding.
The back of the box makes it clear that Marinette cannot stand on her own, which is too bad.
The Marinette doll is mounted on a cardboard backdrop that slides out of the main box:
Marinette is attached to her backdrop with about eight clear rubber bands and (unfortunately) two plastic ties in her head.
The backdrop has a picture of Marinette's room:
Marinette is very interested in fashion design. She's also very interested in Adrien...but she has no idea that he's also Cat Noir. While most of the girls in the show think Cat Noir is very attractive, Marinette (and therefore Ladybug) have absolutely no romantic interest in him. Conversely, Adrien is not very interested in Marinette (they're just friends) but Cat Noir has a mad crush on Ladybug. It's kinda like a love triangle...except there are only two people involved.
Here's everything that came in the box:
Marinette comes with a pink vinyl backpack that has a messenger bag shape:
The pack has a molded scroll design on the front with an "M" for Marinette:
The pack has vinyl straps that do not detach:
As cute as the backpack is, it does not open at all.
This is an odd choice for an accessory. It doesn't look like Marinette's backpack from the show (that one has a more traditional, rounded shape). Furthermore, her small purse (the one she's always wearing) would have been a much more obvious accessory.
The pack fits nicely on Marinette's shoulders, though:
I was happy to discover that it's actually possible to get Marinette to stand on her own--but only when she's wearing her shoes:
Marinette wears the same outfit in all of the Miraculous episodes. The doll comes in a very good replica of that outfit.
The jacket opens in the back with a full velcro seam, which is a little strange--given that it's a jacket. Why does it have to open in the front and in the back?
Marinette's hair is dark blue--not quite as vivid as the color of the cartoon Marinette's hair, but a pretty close match:
Her hair is worn in two thick ponytails that hang down her back:
The cartoon Marinette's hair is significantly shorter, with ponytails that stop at her shoulders.
Marinette also has parted bangs and two small tendrils of hair hanging down at either side of her face:
The hair has some styling product in it, but still comes out of the box looking scruffy.
Marinette's jacket has a high, stiff collar. This collar looks good, but makes it slightly hard to get a clear look at her hair and face.
I decided to take the jacket off before I took Marinette's hair down or tried to photograph her face.
The jacket is partially lined with a soft flannel polka dot fabric. I wish the lining didn't stop so close to the front of the jacket. It tends to stick out.
Also, I was surprised to see that the jacket is attached to the underlying shirt near the sleeves:
The top is all one big piece...which is why it has to open in the back. I should have seen that coming.
Anyway, given this discovery, I decided to leave the jacket on--collar and all--rather than undress Marinette prematurely.
I took her ponytails out and brushed her hair:
The hair has a slightly greasy feel and sheds some little white styling product flakes when it's brushed.
I love the color of the hair, though. It's a mix of blue and black strands. It doesn't feel as nice as some doll hair (nowhere near as nice as Ember Evergreen's hair, for example), but it's not bad, either. I will probably boil wash some of the styling product and kinks out when I get a chance.
I tied the hair back into a single ponytail so that I could photograph Marinette's cute face:
She has a really sweet face, but the resemblance to the television character is not especially strong. Again, I think inset eyes would have been an excellent choice for this doll. Still, her face paint is very well-done:
It's a little easier to see things clearly when the bangs are pulled away from the forehead:
I particularly like Marinette's raised eyebrows and subtle smile. Her face has personality. I believe the character is meant to be bi-racial, with a Chinese mother and a French father. This is not especially apparent in her face. Her hair does have the "so-black-it's-blue" look that is often seen in comics and cartoons, though.
Her eyes are three different shades of bright blue, accented with eyelid creases, brown eyeshadow, thick eyelashes, and a single reflective dot in each eye:
The paint is vivid and crisp, with clear lines. At high magnification, the brown eyeshadow has a faint dotted pattern, giving that area a softer look than the rest of the paint:
My doll has a very faint brown paint line smear over her left eye (this is hard to see under normal magnification).
The smiling mouth has a bow-shaped upper lip and is painted bright pink:
I prefer the television character's lighter, natural-colored lips.
Marinette has a nice profile. Her nose is certainly blunted, but it's much better than, say, a Bratz nose:
As predicted, Marinette's jacket and tee shirt all came off in one piece:
The jacket/shirt combination seems like a bit of a shortcut, but it's easy to manage and looks nice when it's on, so it's probably a reasonable decision for a play doll.
The construction of this garment is good, and I like the little details: the folded jacket cuffs, the full collar, and the vaguely ladybug-like polka dot lining of the jacket.
Perhaps the only thing I'd change here is to have the jacket's lining go all of the way up to the seam with the tee shirt. When the unfinished edges of the lining are exposed, the jacket looks sloppy.
Marinette is also wearing pink jeans with polka-dotted cuffs that match the jacket:
My doll's jeans are a little crooked at the waistline:
All of the details on these jeans are sewn with white thread. Aside from the designs being slightly askew in some places, the pants look great.
The cuffs are my favorite part--flannel lined jeans are the best:
Marinette's shoes are plain pink slip-ons. They come tied to her feet with clear rubber bands. Unfortunately, the shoes don't stay on very well after those bands have been removed.
In the television show, Marinette's shoes have a delicate black rim and a black bow in front. I wish these shoes had been given those little painted details.
Marinette has delicate feet with unarticulated ankles:
She has a slightly elevated heel, so she can't stand on her own without shoes.
I used a Blythe stand so that I could get some pictures of Marinette's body shape and articulation. She is 10.5 inches tall and has eleven joints (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees):
She has skin-colored molded underpants with a ladybug spot pattern:
She has 2015 Zag and 2016 Bandai copyrights and was made in China:
Marinette's shoulder joints are rotating hinges. They can lift up to a 90-degree angle without rotating:
With the rotation, they have a full range of movement.
Her elbows are also rotating hinges, but they can't bend past about 60 degrees in either direction.
This limited movement means that Marinette can't touch her face or rest her hand on her hip. She can put her hand on her upper thigh--but that's it:
Marinette's hands both have the same shape. These hands are attached with pegs that do not have any hinged movement. This means that the hands can spin around, but cannot bend at the wrist.
Marinette's hip joints are rotating hinges. The side-to-side movement of the legs is limited by the shape of the torso, though:
The upper edge of the hip joint (the bottom part of the underwear) prevents the legs from doing full side-to-side splits:
She can do full front-to-back splits, though...
...although this pose appears to be putting some mild stress on the seam of her torso:
She can sit on the ground with her legs close together:
And can sit nicely in a chair:
Her knees are rotating hinges, so she can even cross her legs to some degree while she's sitting:
...or while she's standing:
Her knees do not quite bend to 90 degrees, though, so she has a hard time kneeling. She can only do this if she leans way back and uses her arms for balance:
Here's Marinette next to a Made to Move Barbie so you can get an idea of how tall she is:
|Miraculous Marinette, Made to Move Barbie.|
She's a good little sister height next to Barbie.
She's about the same height as a J-Doll, although the J-Doll/Pullip body is more slender in the waist:
|Miraculous Marinette, J-Doll.|
I'd say Marinette is closest in size and shape to my Kurhn doll:
|Miraculous Marinette, Kurhn doll.|
Just for fun, here she is next to my other Bandai doll, Dorothy from Legends of Oz:
|Miraculous Marinette, Dorothy from Legends of Oz.|
I actually think Dorothy's face looks more like Marinette than the Marinette doll!
I put Marinette's hair back into ponytails and re-dressed her for a few more pictures. I discovered that it can be a little tricky to get the jacket back on. The cuffs are tight and get stuck on Marinette's thumbs.
Here she is, re-dressed and showing off a pose that she can strike without the help of a stand!
It's hard to pose her with the backpack because it's quite heavy and tends to knock her over.
Marinette is a very cute doll. She doesn't bear a huge resemblance to the television character, but she's appealing in her own right. Her clothing is a wonderful replica of the character's everyday outfit...with the exception of the book bag, which I think should have been replaced with the smaller purse that she's always wearing in the television show. The one-piece top was a disappointment to me initially, but I acknowledge that that this is probably an easier-to-manage option for kids. If the jacket half of the top had been fully-lined, I'd be happier with the overall construction of the piece. Marinette has a lot of joints, but they don't move as well as I'd hoped. Her elbow and wrist joints are the biggest limitations. I think the addition of a hinge in those wrists would have added a lot to the expressiveness of Marinette's poses. Despite some little shortcomings, this is still a great doll for $15.
Now, let's take a look at Adrien! His box is very similar to Marinette's:
There's a large portrait of the CGI Adrien along the side of the box:
On the back of the box, there's the same picture of Adrien alongside a prototype of the doll:
The description of Adrien is really brief:
He's the cute and popular friend of Marinette...or maybe Paris is the cute and popular friend of Marinette. The grammar is not stellar--but it's probably translated from French.
That's all the information we get about Adrien. This show is so complex and fun, why not give a little more background to help people out? For example, Adrien is secretly Cat Noir! And Cat Noir is secretly in love with Ladybug. Or perhaps the fact that Adrien is super rich but has a difficult home life, or that he enjoys fencing and is a model.
The side of the box reveals Adrien's connection to Cat Noir by showing the two identities together:
The Adrien doll is mounted on a backdrop with a picture of Adrien's massive room:
I think this doll looks more like the television character than the Marinette doll:
Adrien's head was secured to the backdrop with a plastic shell--not plastic ties. This was a nice surprise.
Adrien comes with a fencing foil that's rubber-banded to his hand:
The foil is made out of bendable vinyl, which is a good safety choice, but not a great sword choice. It's a little warped:
I snapped a few pictures because I was worried that the foil might fall out of Adrien's hand after the rubber bands were cut...
But the grip of the foil actually fits Adrien's hand really well, and he can hold the sword nicely without the rubber bands:
Adrien comes wearing the outfit that he wears in all of the Miraculous episodes:
After inspecting Marinette, I was not surprised to see that Adrien's white shirt opens down the back--and that the back of the shirt is vaguely transparent (with no sign of the black tee shirt):
This concept worked better with Marinette's opaque jacket.
I need to think of a name for these funny shirt/jacket combination pieces. Shackets? Jirts? Tee-jackets? T-jacks? I don't know. I guess I like shacket best.
The designers could have at least lined the white shirt with black fabric so that the contrast between the front and back (and sleeves) wasn't so extreme:
Like Marinette's jacket, Adrien's white shirt is only partially lined in front...
And the seams with the black tee shirt are right in front of the sleeves:
I think Adrien would look great wearing just the black tee shirt, and really wish this was an option:
Adrien said he didn't mind posing for his head shots without his shacket, so I took it off.
The shacket opens all of the way down the back, so at least it's easy to get on and off.
Here it is on its own:
Adrien has a well-muscled chest...perhaps explaining his eagerness to pose without his shirt.
The black part of the shacket left dark stains on his upper arms, though:
Both dolls have a discrepancy between the color of their vinyl heads and the color of their plastic torsos. This difference is a bit more pronounced with Adrien, whose head looks a tad yellow compared to his chest:
Adrien has bright green eyes and molded yellow hair. His hair is more of a natural blonde color in the television show, but the molded spiky style looks just right:
I like that the molded hair has a random pattern of spikes--it looks different from every angle:
The molded hair comes down to partially cover Adrien's eyebrows, which is a nice realistic touch. The hair is molded directly to the face and the yellow color is painted on:
Adrien's green eyes are bright and clear, with two contrasting shades of green in the iris. Again--these eyes are probably not as character-accurate as inset eyes would have been, but they're nicely done.
It's odd that Adrien does not have any painted eyelashes--nor does he have any hair detail in his eyebrows. From what I can tell, none of the male characters in Miraculous have eyelashes, though.
Here's Adrien's profile:
He has a funny seam right along his jawline. This seam continues through the back of the hair:
Adrien's lips are painted a very pale peach color. This paint has some tiny air bubbles in it, but these can't be seen under regular circumstances:
Adrien is wearing blue jeans with stitched details:
The jeans have a small velcro seam in the back:
The pant legs are tight-fitting, though, so the shoes have to come off before the jeans:
Adrien's shoes are orange sneakers with white laces and soles:
I'm glad that Adrien's shoes have painted details. They look great (and they stay on really well, too):
The sneakers left a small orange paint mark on one of Adrien's feet...but look at his ankles!
His ankles are articulated! This was a great surprise after Marinette's leg design.
Here's the rest of Adrien's body:
He's 11.5 inches tall and has thirteen points of articulation:
He has skin-colored molded underwear in a classic brief style:
He also has the 2015 Zag/2016 Bandai copyrights.
Adrien's upper body articulation is a lot like Marinette's. He has rotating hinge shoulders that can lift straight up:
And can also spin around.
Like Marinette, Adrein's elbows only bend about 60 degrees in each direction:
This limited movement is due to the shape of the upper arm--it's cut straight across with no angled area to accommodate the lower arm:
Adrien's wrists are also non-hinged pegs, so they can only spin around:
Like Marinette, Adrien's hands are both the same shape:
I always want to pose superhero characters with their hands on their hips--like Superman. But Adrien's hands can only reach the tops of his thighs:
In the lower body, Adrien and Marinette's articulation starts to differ. For example, Adrien can't do full front-to-back splits:
This is because the back of his underwear limits his legs' movement:
However he can do side-to-side splits:
He can also sit pretty well in a chair (although his thighs are super-long):
But he can't even come close to crossing his legs in this position--despite the rotating hinges in his knees:
He can sit on the ground with his legs fairly close together:
Adrien's knees do not bend as much as Marinette's:
So he can't kneel at all. He can sit on the ground with his legs crossed like this, though:
And he has the added fun of articulated ankles! These joints are rotating hinges and have a good range of motion:
Adrien's extra ankle joints allow him to balance in a much wider range of poses than Marinette. I even got him to do this unassisted...
|Whatever this is.|
...although he only stayed upright for about 30 seconds.
He held this pose slightly longer:
The added flexibility is great for a superhero character. I think he looks ready for action!
Here's Adrien next to a Ken doll for size comparison:
|Texas A&M Ken, Miraculous Adrien.|
This is the Texas A&M Ken doll that Chelly recommended (he plays Romeo in her still-in-progress video production):
I think Ken is better-looking than the Prince from my Disney Cinderella set, so Ken got to steal Kit's clothes:
The fit is a little loose (especially those boots--they're HUGE), but doesn't he look handsome?
He has the best male play doll hair I think I've ever seen. And awesome articulation. Chelly was right--this is a great Ken doll!
But we should get back to Adrien, who is also a great play doll.
Here he is, back in his full outfit:
To me, Adrien looks a lot like the television character. Also, even before I knew anything about Miraculous, this was the doll that drew my attention in the Target aisle.
Boy dolls are rare, and it's fun to see a completely new character:
For all of his joints, though, Adrien is limited in his posing--especially if I want him to balance on his own.
You'll notice that many of my shots are just full-body and close-up versions of the same pose. This is because every time I got Adrien balanced, I was reluctant to move him!
The fencing foil might be floppy, but it's a really fun accessory, at least for photography.
Adrien is very similar to Marinette in many ways, but he ends up being my favorite of the two because of a few key differences. First, I think he more closely resembles the television character Adrien. There are a few small discrepancies--like the exact color of the hair--but I think he's easily recognizable. Also, his fencing accessory is accurate to the show, and also very fun to play with. Last, the addition of articulated ankles makes a big difference in the maneuverability of this doll. He can strike and hold a lot of poses that Marinette cannot. The biggest downside to Adrien is that his "shacket" top is see-through in the back and has a stiff collar that always sticks up.
Here are Marinette and Adrien together:
Of course when they're living their every-day high school lives, Marinette has a hopeless crush on Adrien...
...but when they transform into Ladybug and Cat Noir, it's Cat Noir who is hopelessly in love with the disinterested Ladybug!
After seeing the show, I found it hard to resist the superhero versions of these dolls. I'll show them to you really quickly.
These dolls share a mold with their plain-clothes alter egos, but they have painted masks and colored hands:
Here's a picture from Ladybug's box so that you can see what the animated character looks like:
She wears a textured, skin-tight ladybug suit and has her yo-yo tied around her waist. She's awesome.
Ladybug has many qualities in common with Spider-Man. I assume this is intentional. She uses her yo-yo in much the same way that Spider-Man uses his webs, grabbing onto things and swinging from building to building. The style of her movement often mimics Spider-Man, too. In one episode, Dark Cupid, Ladybug even hangs upside-down to kiss Cat Noir, mirroring the iconic scene with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.
I've noticed a lot of little similarities to other shows while watching this series, but I have no idea if they're intentional Easter eggs...or just my imagination. For example, the villains in the Darkblade episode remind me of the Twili from Zelda, Twilight Princess. And the Dark Cupid villain is pretty much The Falcon turned bad.
I had some fun playing with the Ladybug doll. She doesn't come with shoes, so she's even harder to pose than Marinette, but she looks really neat:
I love the contrast of her dark hair against her bright red suit.
The masks in the television show appear magically on Marinette and Adrien's faces during their transformations, so the painted-on look of this mask is perfect.
...well, it's perfect except for the fact that Ladybug's eyelid creases (and eyeshadow?) show through. I think it would look slightly better if just the eyelashes peeked out:
Ladybug's accessory is the open compact/yo-yo:
She uses this compact to trap akuma--which are magical butterflies that Hawk Moth uses to infect his victims. It's complicated. Anyway, I wish the accessory was in yo-yo form and had a string that could wrap around Ladybug's waist. That would be accurate to the show and really fun to play with--as long as the string was a safe length for kids.
I worked for about twenty minutes to get Ladybug to balance in this position, ready to capture an akuma!
|Time to de-evilize!|
As a fan of the show, I can say that it's super-hard to own the Marinette doll without also wanting the Ladybug doll. But then suddenly it costs $30 to have a full representation of this character.
I'd have been eager to buy a slightly more expensive Marinette doll that also came with the Ladybug suit and red replacement hands. The mask would be the only thing that would be hard to replicate without painting the doll's face. I bet Bandai could have come up with something great though--like a thin, bendable vinyl mask.
Now here's Cat Noir:
And here's the box art so that you can see what the television character looks like:
He looks slightly evil or mischievous here. He's definitely mischievous, with a cheeky, funny personality. I really love this character.
Again--the doll looks a lot like the cartoon character:
His mask is also painted onto his face, although the paint job here is a little spotty:
Notice that Cat Noir's eyes change color and shape when he's wearing his mask. The white parts of his eyes turn green and the irises become cat-like. This happens in the show, too.
This doll has molded cat ears coming out of the hair. The ears are painted black, with a few ragged bits around the edges:
I love that the doll even comes with a little (working) jingle bell at his neck. This is a great part of the Cat Noir costume. It's especially funny when Ladybug is teasing him, calling "here, kitty, kitty!" The rapport between Ladybug and Cat Noir--and their romantic tension--is a big part of what makes this show such a success.
Cat Noir's tail is a belt that hangs from his waist. It looks amazing and the concept is great, but the attachment site on my doll's belt is weak and it falls off a bit too frequently.
Cat Noir also comes with his expanding staff...although this staff is in a permanently short position.
Cat Noir's black bodysuit has some subtle patterns along the front and across the sleeves:
The suit has a seam in the back with multiple small pieces of velcro. I wish a single strip of velcro had been used instead, because the seam is hard to close and it puckers a lot.
Because of the staining from Adrien's black tee shirt, I was a little worried that Cat Noir would be stained all over his body...but he is not. It's all clear:
Cat Noir is wearing large, sturdy boots that really help with his balance. He's very fun to pose--especially with that tail!
I think this pair is even more fun than Marinette and Adrien. They are delightfully unique dolls, and they bring out the personalities of the television superheroes. I'd say that if you can only buy one version of each character...these two are the special ones.
Bottom line? My analysis of these dolls is intimately connected to my discovery and enjoyment of the Miraculous television show. I liked the dolls a lot the very first time I saw them (mostly because of their unique faces and their visible body articulation) and I almost bought them without knowing anything about the television show. However, $30 was a bit too much for that kind of impulse. The dolls did inspire me to find and watch the show, though. If Miraculous had been underwhelming, I suspect I never would have re-coinsidered buying the dolls. But the show is awesome. I've watched the entire first season and will probably purchase the second season soon. I would have been completely obsessed with this show when I was a kid. Watching the show made me want the dolls a lot more--enough to buy all four of them, apparently. And I treasure the dolls all the more for how they remind me of the adventures I've watched. However, my interest in the show has also made me more critical of any inaccuracies between the dolls and the animated characters. I guess it's a double-edged sword.
I've mentioned my criticisms of these dolls throughout the review, but I'll quickly summarize them again here. Without bringing the television show into play, my biggest critique is that the joints--particularly the arm joints--do not move as well as they could. I always make this comment cautiously, because having joints in any capacity is certainly preferable to having no joints, but still. I want a highly-articulated doll to live up to its potential. These dolls feel stiff to me. Also, the shirt-jacket combination tops are frustrating. They're probably designed with budget or ease of use in mind, but I'd rather have separate pieces. In terms of construction, the clothing is made well, but again--the tops fall short because neither jacket is fully-lined and Adrien's shirt is transparent in the back. Also, Marinette's shoes fall off easily.
If I compare the dolls to the television show, I uncover a few more faults. Overall, I find Adrien more true to his character than Marinette. His hair is brighter yellow than the animated Adrien's hair, and he would benefit from some realistic inset eyes, but otherwise he's easily recognizable. Marinette is cute, but I don't see much of the cartoon character's personality in her face. Also, her hair is way too long, her lips are too bright, her backpack is the wrong design, (her accessory should have been a purse) and she, too, would be so much more accurate with big inset eyes. Perhaps worst of all, though, neither character is wearing his or her Miraculous jewelry. Marinette's earrings are the most obvious omission. The Miraculi are the whole focal point of the show.
Of course the dolls have plenty of good qualities, too. Despite the awkwardness of the shirt/jacket tops, the design of the clothing is nicely-detailed and very accurate to the television show. The face paint on both dolls is very bright and clear, with only minor defects. Marinette's hair has a wonderful color and a decent texture. Although the articulation isn't perfect, both dolls have a lot of joints--Adrien even has articulated ankles. But it's the personalities of these dolls that really make them shine. I know that some of the spunk and charm I see is due to the expert storytelling and character development of the Miraculous television show. But because I saw the dolls before I saw the show, I also know that these dolls have personalities that can stand on their own.
I always look at a new doll with a critical eye, hoping for some level of manufacturing perfection that I rarely find. Adrien and Marinette might not be perfect, but I think they're unique, charming and well-made for their $15 price....and they're wonderful souvenirs of the show. I suspect that none of the little flaws I've mentioned here will mean anything to a child as they recognize their heroes, tear open the boxes, and start off on their own Miraculous Ladybug adventure.