Sunday, August 13, 2017

Enchantimals by Mattel

Today I'm going to review Mattel's newest sensation, the six-inch tall, animal-like Enchantimals.  I came across these little dolls almost by accident a few weeks ago while I was researching the new Monster High Family line (which also includes several six-inch animal-like characters).

Instead of leaping right in and introducing the Enchantimals, I though maybe I'd change things up and try to describe what it's like here in my house as I type up these reviews.  First of all, there are animals everywhere.  I usually have my chronically flatulent mini poodle, Zelda, curled up on my right side and my mutt, Pants, cuddled as close as Zelda will let him get.  A parakeet cage sits immediately to my left, and this houses our two male birds: Bundy and Griffin.  Griffin is always very interested in what I'm doing.  His favorite activity is to "help" me type (in other words, to sit on the keyboard and pull up on the computer's keys with his beak...pooping on my track pad as he works) but when I don't let him do this, he sits in his cage and looks over my shoulder, offering helpful chirps (or squawks) when he feels they're necessary.

While all of this is going on, my youngest son (now 17) is practicing the piano about ten feet away from me.  I say this like it's always happening...because it is.  In fact, a few of you might have noticed him in the background sound of my WuvLuv videos.  I enjoy listening to the piano while I work, I do, but the problem is that my ancient dog, Padawan, imagines himself an excellent jazz singer.  So, he's often accompanying my son's practice with his geriatric howl.  Better still, all three of the parakeets tend to sing (or squawk, depending on whether or not they like the song...) to the music as well.

So, basically, everything I do is set against a background of piano music, animal noises, and pet interference companionship.  This can be distracting some days, sure, but today--as I review an animal-themed doll line--it feels totally natural.  Speaking of nature, I'll start things off by showing you one of my Enchantimals (Felicity Fox) outside enjoying the brilliant colors of summer:

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Enchantimals Felicity Fox by Mattel, $7.99.
One controversial issue surrounding the Enchantimal's release is the notion that these little dolls are replacing Ever After High in Mattel's lineup.  I don't know if the Enchantimals can be called replacements, exactly (they don't have too much in common with Ever After High), but it's true that Mattel has canceled Ever After High (with Monster High not far behind?) and seems to be focusing their attention on these new animal-loving girls.  I stopped purchasing Ever After High dolls a while ago, so I can't say that I'm upset about the shift, but it's also hard not to keep Ever After High in my mind as I review these new dolls...wondering if they can possibly rival the fun I had with my first Ever After High (or Monster High) girls.

There are already a large number of Enchantimal characters to choose from.  I haven't seen these dolls in stores yet, but I counted 13 different products in Mattel's online store.  To me, the most tempting of these offerings are the six basic dolls that come with one animal companion.  These retail for $8 or $9 (depending on the store), so I bought three of them.

My first choice was Lorna Lamb, because of her unique white hair:



The Enchantimals come in refreshingly small and minimalistic blister packs. 

The box art is charming--perhaps more charming than the dolls themselves:


The back of the package has a small blurb about the Enchantimals in general and a description of Lorna's character:


The Enchantimals are girls who share a special bond with their matching animal friends.  Lorna is the over-competitive and athletic member of the group:


Mattel didn't go with a stereotypical depiction of a sheep here, which was wise.  I got this description of actual sheep behavior from A Beginner's Guide to Raising Sheep:

Sheep are best known for their strong flocking (herding) and following instinct...When one sheep moves, the rest will follow, even if it is not a good idea.

Needless to say, "follows her friends even when it's a really bad idea" does not work well as a doll personality.

Lorna was attached to the backdrop with a few long plastic ties and, not surprisingly, two short (really tight) plastic ties in her head.  Here's the backdrop on its own:


Lorna comes with a sheep friend, but it's really hard to figure out this little companion's name.  The pet names are not listed on the packaging.  Were these names an afterthought, I wonder?  

The Enchantimals website offers names for what appear to be the main characters:

Felicity Fox with Flick
Patter Peacock with Flap
Bree Bunny with Twist
Sage Skunk with Caper (cute names!)
Danessa Deer with Sprint

The other pet names are not listed here, but I found some of them in the Mattel shop product descriptions.  Here's a list of the rest of the characters' names:

Lorna Lamb with Flag
Fluffy Bunny with Mop (bo-ring)
Merit Monkey with Compass (my two favorite names)
Taylee Turtle with Bounder (cute!)
Karina Koala with Dab
Bren Bear with two unnamed bears
Fanci Flamingo with two unnamed flamingos 
Ohana Owl with two unnamed owls (why don't the paired pets get names?)

I can't say that I like many of the names in this series.  They're a little predictable and repetitive  (Flick, Flap and Flag?).  I'll never keep those straight in my head.  A few of the names are creative and cute, though.

Here are Lorna and Flag:

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Flag is a crazy little peg-legged sheep with a mass of curly white hair on the very tip of her head:


The curly hair is cute and silly, but it looks wrong to me--like a poodle, not a sheep.  I think of sheep as being big balls of fluff with little heads sticking out, not the other way around.

Flag has painted details on the front of her body, but the back of her body is blank.

She has brown eyes, rosy cheeks, pink-lined ears, and a cluster of orange flowers on the left side of her head.  Her body has a few areas of painted white curls that look like maggots:


I don't reference maggots randomly, by the way.  Domestic sheep are actually prone to a condition called fly strike or myiasis, where flies lay their eggs in dirty, thick wool...and well, you can guess what happens next.  Moving on.

Here's Lorna:


Lorna does not balance well on her own.  It was actually quite difficult to get her to stand up for these pictures.  Even when she's standing, she's often tilting to her left side.  I think this is because her right leg is noticeably longer than her left:


You can see this a little better from the back:


Sometimes when dolls have one leg longer than the other they can be made to balance by positioning the longer leg forwards or backwards in a walking stance.  This does not work with Lorna at all.  She can only stand up if both of her legs are right next to one another.

The curls in Lorna's hair arrived a little flattened in back...


...but they were easy to fluff back into a nice rounded shape:


I love Lorna's huge, soft curls--they look very ovine to me--but they cast a big shadow on her face that makes her difficult to photograph.


The rooting density is great--this is nice, thick hair:


I tied the hair back into a short, thick ponytail so that I could get some light on Lorna's face, but look at what I uncovered!

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She has spoons coming out of her head!
She has pink handlebar ears that look absolutely ridiculous when her hair is pulled back


As a reminder, the box art depiction of Lorna showed cute, floppy pale brown ears with pink interiors:


The actual ears are all pink, so the bizarre stalk-like base of the ear is not camouflaged in the hair at all.

The front side of the left ear has a cluster of painted orange flowers:


The back of the ear is blank (with little patches of a mold-like stain):


I thought that the ears on these dolls would be attached to some kind of headband, but they're permanent.  This begs the question: are the dolls supposed to be animal hybrids?  Kinda like Monster High?  Or are they just dressed up like animals?  All of the descriptions online are pretty vague.  I even watched several of the videos on the Enchantimals website, but there's no backstory.

Lorna's face is very humanoid, with the exception of her black, dog-like nose:


Real sheep have skinny, slanted nostrils:


Lorna's head is molded in shimmery butter-yellow vinyl.  Her head is very hard and not compressible.

Close inspection of her facial features reveals a dotted pattern in her eye and eyebrow screening and numerous small paint smudges around her eyes and nose:

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To me, Lorna looks like a child from the Ever After High series who's all dressed up and ready to go out trick-or-treating.

The Enchantimals all have molded clothing on the tops of their bodies and removable fabric skirts on the bottom.  Some of them have small plastic or fabric accessories.

Lorna is wearing a painted green tank top with a floral print skirt.  She has a pink plastic boa-like scarf accessory:


It's not a very athletic outfit, if you ask me.

The pink boa moves around a lot and gets in the way of Lorna's movement, so I kept it off most of the time.



Lorna's painted green tank top has a lot of detail.  There's a lacy pink collar at the top, with two matching hearts down the front.  The hearts are surrounded by leaves and flower-like scrolls: 


The back of the tank top is completely undecorated:


The skirt has an elasticized waistband with purple stitching that looks nice.  The fit of the skirt is tight, so it stays on well but isn't too hard to get off.  It's a little hard to get back on if Lorna is wearing her shoes, but when she's barefoot it's no problem.

The scalloped bottom edge of the skirt is unfinished:


The green of Lorna's tank top continues under the skirt.  This makes it look like she's wearing a fancy leotard:

That's a bit more athletic.
There's a little overhang above Lorna's waistline.  This does a nice job of preventing the skirt from riding up:



Lorna's boots are really cute.  They're molded to look fleecy and soft, with little sheep faces at the toes:


Sadly, the molded flowers on each side of the boots are not painted, and so they blend in with the rest of the shoe.

Lorna's boots each have a small hexagonal hole in the bottom.  These holes look like they were designed to fit onto a peg--perhaps to help the dolls stand up on their own?  Unfortunately, the dolls do not come with pegged bases or stands.  That would have been an excellent accessory, given how poor Lorna's balance is.


Under her shoes, Lorna has gracefully arched feet with realistic detail:


I was surprised by how pretty and detailed the feet are:



Lorna's body has five points of articulation.  Her head can spin around, but it cannot look up or down:


A little extra movement in Lorna's head would have made a big difference in her expressiveness.

Her arms have hinged rotation, so they can lift up:


And they can also spin around...although Lorna's big ears and bent right elbow restrict the arm movement to some degree:



Lorna has delicate, expressive hands with long fingers.  Her left arm is slightly bent at the elbow and has partially-splayed fingers.  There's a large gap between her pointer finger and the rest of her digits:


The right arm is bent more at the elbow but has the same finger positions in the hand:


The bent arm is good for waving...and it almost looks like she's doing a Vulcan greeting:

Live long and do pretty well.
Lorna's hips allow her legs to bend forwards, so she can sit on the ground:


Or do a high kick:


However, the legs do not bend backwards, nor do they move from side to side at all, so Lorna cannot do splits.

There is some flexibility in the vinyl of her legs, though, so she can bend into a few strange positions:


Lorna's limbs are a sparkly butter-yellow color just like her head, but there might be sightly less shimmer in the vinyl of her limbs.  I tried to show a comparison of the two vinyl shades here...


...but it's hard to appreciate the difference.  Overall, the match is very good.

This doll does not have great articulation.  I think this is puzzling, especially because--with brands like Monster High, Ever After High and Made to Move--Mattel has developed a great reputation for designing play doll articulation.

The other thing that's puzzling about the poor balance and articulation in these dolls is that Mattel seems to be marketing them with short stop-action videos.  If you ask me, the stop-action genre only exacerbates the dolls' stilted movement.  In addition, if I was tasked with trying to get this doll to stand up throughout the painstaking process of making a stop-motion movie, I'd lose my mind.

This was the best independent pose that I could manage for Lorna:  


Some of the early negative reviews of these dolls were due to the fact that shoppers were ordering online and did not understand how small the dolls are.  So, let's look at a few size comparisons.

When I first heard about the Enchantimals, I immediately thought of the Forest Pixies from Ever After High.  These are animal-themed characters from the Dragon Games movie.  Here's Deerla, the Pixie doll that I own:

Ever After High Forest Pixie, Deerla.
Deerla is even worse at standing on her own than Lorna is.  It's almost impossible to get her to balance.  I propped her up against a doll stand for this picture:

Ever After High Deerla and Enchantimals Lorna Lamb.
At first I assumed that the Enchantimals would be the same size as Deerla, but they're quite a bit smaller.  The Enchantimals also have flexible vinyl limbs while the Pixies have hard legs.

I like Deerla's face a lot.  The paint is much more precise and richly-colored than it is on Lorna's face:

Ever After High Deerla.
Deerla also has an adorable fawn on her left shoe:


But she's a cheaply-made doll overall.  She only has five points of simple articulation, and her outfit is unremarkable (with printed fabric only on the front):


The deer print is fun, but the most noticeable deer silhouettes (the black ones) are upside-down:


The Forest Pixies and the Enchantimals have a lot in common.  I wouldn't be surprised if someone at Mattel got the idea for the Enchantimal line by looking at the Pixies.  I like the Enchantimal body better than the Pixie body, but I think Deerla's face is much nicer (and more animal-like) than Lorna's.

Speaking of deer-themed dolls, here's Fawntine Fallowheart, my only Monster High Fright-Mare:

Monster High Fright-Mare, Fawntine Fallowheart.
I really like this doll.  I intended to do a review of her, but it's one of those things that never got to the top of my list.

Toy Box Philosopher

She has wonderful little details (like the skeletal birds that perch on her antlers) and a sassy, pouty face with piercing green eyes.  She also has great articulation, considering her small, centaur-like body.


Fawntine is slightly shorter and more petite than Lorna:

Fright-Mare Fawntine Fallowheart and Enchantimals Lorna Lamb.
I like Fawntine much more than Lorna.  She's simply a more interesting, unique, detailed, and expressive figure.

The Enchantimals are a great size to be younger siblings for the regular-sized Ever After High gang.  Here's Lorna with my lovely repainted Briar Beauty (by Milklegs):

Ever After High repainted Briar Beauty with Enchantimals Lorna Lamb.
I found it very interesting that Briar, who has eleven points of articulation (and therefore eleven possible sources of instability), stood on her own for that picture, above, while Lorna tipped over multiple times.  In fact, I ended up using Briar's hand to help balance Lorna.

I know I'm obsessed with balance, and I realize that when kids are playing with their dolls they don't necessarily care if those dolls can stand on their own or not.  I like my dolls to balance in the studio when I'm photographing them, but it's more than that.  In my experience, dolls that are well-designed and carefully manufactured tend to be able to stand on their own--no matter how many points of articulation they might have.  So--for whatever it's worth--I see the lack of balance in a doll as the symptom of lower-quality production.

As I posed Briar and Lorna together, it was impossible not to notice the difference in personality between these two.  Granted, Briar has the benefit of a gorgeous custom face-up, but even without it, her body language radiates so much more expression than Lorna is capable of:


In fact, I think both Ever After High and Enchantimals suffer from slightly bland factory faces.  It's just that the Ever After High dolls can compensate for those faces with their amazing articulation.

The Enchantimals are certainly not going to replace Ever After High in any of the ways that matter most to me.


Lorna also reminds me a bit of Princess Malucia from Barbie and the Secret Door.  Malucia is quite a bit taller than Lorna, though:

Princess Malucia and Enchantimals Lorna Lamb.
I also want to compare Lorna to another one of Mattel's new ~6-inch characters, Pawla Wolf:

Monster High Family Pawla Wolf.
Pawla costs the same as Lorna ($7.99) but is slightly shorter, at only 5.5 inches tall.  I bought Pawla with the intention of reviewing her and the rest of the new Wolf family, but I have to say that I'm not very fond of Pawla at the moment.  Her hair is a mess, her face is off-putting to me (my doll has a big paint defect in her lips), and her huge arms can barely move before they bump into her head:


Here's Pawla with Lorna:

Monster High Pawla Wolf and Enchantimals Lorna Lamb.
Pawla stands on her own reasonably well, but nowhere near as well as you'd expect with those big paws.  Between these two dolls, I prefer Lorna...although Pawla is much more animal-like.

It seems like Mattel must have done some market research and determined that people are looking for smaller dolls?  Animal dolls?  Or just cheaper dolls, perhaps?

The doll who I think is most similar to Lorna is this pink-haired sprite from Barbie's Star Light Adventure:


I have not seen that show, nor does it say anything about this character on the box, so I don't know anything about this doll.  I just thought she was cute.  I call her Harmony (from a fairy name generator).  

She has a really sweet face and I thought she would make a nice younger sister for my Ever After High girls:


Here's Harmony next to Lorna:

Enchantimals Lorna Lamb and Barbie Star Light Adventure sprite doll.
Like Lorna, Harmony has a molded leotard-style top with a removable (vinyl) skirt.  Here's her body with the skirt removed:


She has an indentation around her waist to hold her skirt in place.  I think Lorna's molded clothing is more natural-looking, with a better color palette: 

Barbie Star Light Adventure sprite doll and Enchantimals Lorna Lamb.
Harmony can wear Lorna's skirt and shoes:

Barbie Start Light Adventure sprite doll wearing Enchantimals skirt and boots.
I wasn't sure that the shoes would fit at first, though, because Harmony's feet look larger to me.  Perhaps Harmony's lack of toe definition just makes her feet appear bigger?

Barbie Start Light Adventure sprite doll foot (left) and Enchantimal foot (right).
In any case, Lorna can wear Harmony's vinyl skirt and boots, too...but the boots make her even harder to balance, which I wouldn't have thought was possible.

Lorna Lamb wearing Barbie Star Light Adventure sprite clothing.
The difference in Lorna's leg lengths is even clearer with these shoes:


The vinyl skirt is a little hard to get on, and it limits the movement of Lorna's legs, but it looks pretty good with the rest of her outfit:

Lorna Lamb wearing Barbie Star Light Adventure sprite clothing.
Notice that the back of Harmony's vinyl skirt isn't decorated at all.  Was it that hard to extend the silver paint for two more inches?  I prefer the Enchantimals' fabric skirts.


Here are a few more picture of Lorna before I move on to the next character:

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When I first started looking at the Enchantimals, the dolls with excessive face paint were low on my list.  That's one of the reasons that Lorna appealed to me so much--other than her black dog nose, she has a plain face.  I see more clearly now that the animal faces are the Enchantimals' defining feature, so I appreciate them more.

After I'd been looking at the dolls for a while, I decided to take a risk and order a doll with a lot of face paint.  In this category, of course my first choice was the redheaded Felicity and her fox friend, Flick:


The cartoon of Felicity and Flick is adorable:


The cartoon depictions of the Enchantimals are wonderful.  I wish the dolls looked more like the box art.

Felicity's box is identical to Lorna's, except for the fact that it has a different character description on the back:


Felicty is clever and quick, which seems like a fairly generic profile for a fox character.

Here are Felicity and Flick out of the box...

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...and Felicity can't stand up at all in her shoes.  Not at all.  I captured the picture, above, as she was tipping over.


Since Flick was left all alone in that last picture, let's take a look at her first.

Flick is waving with one paw and has the other paw resting on her right hip--that, or she's striking a Saturday Night Fever disco pose.  Hard to tell:

Stayin' alive!
She has big blue eyes and a yellow flower on her left ear:


Flick has a dotted texture all throughout her face paint.  This is especially obvious around her nose and cheeks, where the white paint is thin:


Like Flag, Flick does not have any painted details on the back of her body:


Flick's long tail is made out of orange imitation fur that's folded on itself and stitched down the middle:


The seam is quite obvious from some angles:


The tail attaches to Flick's body through a hole in her back.  The base of the tail is connected with elastic, so the tail is quite flexible and can be pulled out of the body a little bit:


I like Flick more than Flag.  She looks convincingly like a cartoon fox, and her furry tail makes more sense than Flag's topknot of white curls.

In order to get Felicity to stand on her own, I had to give her Lorna's shoes:

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Let's take a quick look at Felicity's shoes before I set them aside, though.  They're red pumps with molded bows on the front and back:


The front of the shoe also has a small molded ball that looks like a little jingle bell on a string.  I'm not exactly sure what it's supposed to be.  On the website, the cartoon Felicity is wearing shoes with little fox faces on them--they're great.  Here's a low-resolution screen shot of those shoes:

And here's a close-up of the doll's shoe:


I don't think these shoes have fox faces on them.  I zoomed in and enhanced the contrast in the photo, above, just to double-check:


I see a bow and a jingle bell, but there's a molded shape underneath the bow.  Do you guys see a fox? Where would the eyes be?

Anyway, the backs of the shoes are definitely decorated with little bows:


Felicity has the same kind of tail that Flick has:


At first, I thought perhaps the tail was attached to the waistline of the skirt...


...but it's actually connected to Felicity's body

That's not where a tail should be.
The tail is attached to the body (in a bizarre location) with an elastic string that loops into a hole in Felicity's back--very similar to the tail connection on Flick's back:


If the tail gets worn out or dirty over time, it could easily be cut away from the body.


I love the bright orange color that dominates Felicity's outfit and face paint.


Her mask-like face paint is especially striking, although it doesn't make me think of a fox:


To me, the flame-colored, feathered spikes around Felicity's eyes seem more reminiscent of a phoenix.  There's also a moth or butterfly-like quality to the design, perhaps because of the yellow section that runs down the bridge of Felicity's nose.  That looks like an insect body to me:

Toy Box Philosopher

The brilliant, warm colors of the face paint are nicely contrasted by Felicity's icy-blue eyes and dark eyelashes:


The dotted texture of the face paint detracts somewhat from the clarity of Felicity's features (and it's smudged in several areas) but overall, I think her facial screening is more impressive than Lorna's.

Felicity has two vinyl ears attached to her head.  The left ear is decorated with a painted yellow flower.  In one of the stop-action Enchantimals videos, Felicity spends a significant amount of time wiggling her ears back and forth--in fact, that's basically all she does.  After watching that video, I was surprised to find that my Felicity's ears don't move back and forth at all.  That would have been a fun feature.


Felicity's dark auburn hair comes styled in two long ponytails, but these are easy to let down:


The hair is rooted with a side part on the top and a center part running down the back.  My doll's hair never quite relaxed around the center part in back.  Washing or wetting the hair would probably help eliminate the gap that runs along the part:


Both the color and the texture of this hair are very nice.  It's smooth and silky, and the rich purple-red hue is something I don't see very often.  It reminds me of Viviana's hair from the short-lived Vi and Va line.

The rooting is excellent, with dense hair plugs all down the part line and around the ears:


Felicity's painted top looks like an orange vest over a white, cap-sleeved blouse.  Her floral skirt has an orange-stitched waistband and a straight (unfinished) bottom edge:


The painted detail in the top isn't super-crisp (especially in the red flowers), but I like the shape of the shirt.  The cap sleeves are cute without interfering with Felicity's arm movement.


Felicity has the same articulation as Lorna, but her arm and hand molds are different so she has some different posing options.  Her right elbow is bent even more than Lorna's, making it possible for her to touch her face.  This is my favorite pose for Felicity:


Felicity's right hand has an extended pointer finger and thumb, but the other fingers are gently curled under:


Felicity's left elbow is bent slightly, and her left hand has all of the fingers molded together in a good handshaking pose:


Lorna and Felicity also have different skin tones.  Lorna's vinyl is pale yellow, while Felicity's is shimmery pink:


Here are Lorna and Felicity together, without their fabric skirts (Felicity had to borrow Harmony's boots in order to stand):


Here are a few more pictures of Felicity--it was easier to photograph her while she was sitting down:


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Although I did get her to stand for one picture with Flick (using shoes from the last doll I'm going to show you):

Toy Box Philosopher

You can probably guess from the color scheme of those borrowed shoes which doll I'm going to show you next...

...it's Sage Skunk and Caper:


I chose this character for a couple of different reasons.  First of all, she's a skunk, and skunks are not something you see too often in the doll world.  Also, she has interesting hair, as we'll see.  But also, she has a different skin tone and arm mold than both Lorna and Felicity.

From what I can tell, there are three different arm molds within this collection.  All three of them are in this review.  Skin tones are a little harder to determine without seeing all of the dolls in person, but at a minimum, there's pink (a few different shades, perhaps?), yellow, light brown, minty green and pearly white.  

Another variable is the face mold.  I've detected what I think are at least three different face molds.  All I have for evidence is little snippets from promotional pictures.

Bree and Danessa have the same face as Felicity and Sage:


Patter has a unique smile, from what I can tell:


Lorna's face appears to be the most common, but I'm not positive that all of the closed-mouth girls share this face.  The different paint designs makes it hard to tell.

Here's Lorna's face again for reference:


She has a bow-shaped upper lip, a thick lower lip, and faint dimples at the edges of her mouth.

I'm pretty sure these first five characters have the same smile as Lorna: 



The last two seem a little different to me, but it's probably just an optical illusion:


If anyone owns any of these dolls and can comment about the face mold, that would be great!

As an aside, I asked my husband to guess which animal each of these faces was supposed to represent, and he only got three of them right.  He correctly identified Ohana as "some sort of bird" and Fluffy and Bree as rabbits.  If you're curious, you can scroll over each picture to see what his actual guess was for each face.

In any case, Sage's box art might be the best of all.  Look at how happy she and Caper are!


Sage is a prankster and a problem-solver:


Here's a better look at the box art, since it's so sweet:


I wish the Sage doll had a smile as joyful as her cartoon self.  Her expression is wooden in comparison.  She has a nice outfit, though, with one of the more cohesive pairings of top and skirt:

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Caper is an adorable animal friend, with a big smile and a bright pink flower on her head: 


Caper's facial screening has a very obvious dot pattern, and quite a few cracks, lines and smudges:


Here's a really close look:


Caper's white belly has dark spots and scratches that don't come off:


Caper's black and white fuzzy tail is attached to her body the same way Flick's tail is attached--with a loop of white elastic.  And, like the other animal figures, Caper has no painted detail on her back:



Sage's white-striped boots allow her to stand better than the other Enchantimals I have, but her balance still isn't very good.


Sage's most distinguishing feature is her hairstyle.  Her long hair has the appearance of being shaved close to the scalp on the right side: 


The left side of Sage's head is rooted normally, with a wide stipe of white hair on top and some black hair peeking out from underneath:


My doll has some tangled hairs near the border of her shaved head and her rooted hair:

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I did my best to tidy the hair in this area.  There are a few lingering stray hairs, though--including one that's stuck to Sage's right ear.

The vinyl on the back of Sage's scalp (the pate) has a different texture from the rest of the head, and so this area looks funny up close:


This hair fiber does not feel quite as nice as Felicity's hair.  There's a synthetic squeakiness to it and it tends to look scraggly.

Sage has lilac skin and darker purple eyes.  Her animal paint consists of a fuzzy-looking blaze of white down the middle of her face.  The intensity of this face paint is a happy medium between Felicity's bright mask of color and Lorna's simple black nose.



Sage's screening is pretty good, with just a few stray flecks of paint here and there. 


The dark pink eyeliner and red shading below Sage's pupils make her look a little bleary-eyed:


Sage has a pink flower on her left ear.  The flower on my doll's ear has some cracked paint in the middle:


Sage's right ear is solid black.  The ears were designed to sit just above the rooted hair, so the absence of hair on the right side of Sage's head means that the ear does not sit flush against the head.  This looks sloppy:



Sage's colorful outfit includes a black plastic muff with pink flowers and leaves on the front.  This piece coordinates well with her black floral tank top and printed skirt:



The muff looks nice, but because it slides around a lot and interferes with Sage's arm movement, I didn't use it very much.


The tank top has an intricate painted pattern on the front, but my doll's paint is smudged and uneven just below the neckline--almost like the whole pattern melted downwards before the paint could dry:


Here's a better look--it's pretty bad:


Sage's tail is mostly black fur, with a band of white down the middle.  It's attached the same way as the other tails:


Sage's wedge-heeled boots are molded to look like they're made of fur.  The white lines that run down the front of each boot have smooth edges and no fur texture, though:


Sage has a slightly bent left arm. The fingers on her left hand are all molded together and extended:


Sage's right arm is mostly straight, and the fingers on that hand are arranged in a similar way to what we saw with Lorna's fingers.  There's a small gap in between the pointer finger and the other fingers:


Overall, Sage's arms and fingers seem more muscular and less delicate than the other two dolls' fingers.  It's a subtle difference, but I don't think I'm imagining it.  Here's another look at Lorna's hand for comparison:


I probably like Sage's skin tone the least of the three dolls I have (purple skin and purple makeup are rarely my favorite choices).  I'd love to see what this character would look like with pitch black skin and a bright outfit.

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Sage's strength could have been her edgy hairstyle, but unfortunately the hair fiber and the unconventional style often conspire to make the hair look messy and scraggly.  The exposed pate and elevated ear on the right side don't help matters.

Toy Box Philosopher

Still, this doll's colorful outfit set against the bold black and white elements of her body go a long way towards making up for those flaws.

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All of the Enchantimals can share skirts, but many of the prints clash with the tops when they're on the wrong doll:

Enchantimals with swapped skirts and accessories.
Here are all three of the dolls, back in their original outfits:

Enchantimals Sage Skunk, Felicity Fox and Lorna Lamb.
I felt so sure that I would like Lorna the best, but ended up liking her least.  Felicity, who I was reluctant to buy, is now my favorite.  I just wish she had better shoes.  Here's a quick rundown of my thoughts:

Hair: Felicity's hair is a beautiful color and feels great.  It looks good in ponytails and when it's let down.  Lorna's hair is really fun--easily her best feature.  It overwhelms her plain face, though, and necessitated a very bizarre ear design.  Sage's hair is great in concept, but the execution--with the scraggly hair fiber and the exposed pate and ear base--are not so great.

Outfit: All of the outfits have a floral theme.  In my eyes, they're all a little busy and uncreative.  There are paint defects on all of the dolls--some worse than others.  Sage's outfit is the most cohesive, and Felicity's outfit is interesting because of the unique shape and bright orange color of her top.  Lorna's pink boa accessory seems unnecessary.  It clashes with the rest of her outfit and gets in the way of her arm movement.  Sage's muff is more useful--it compliments her outfit and stays in place better than Lorna's piece.  Felicity does not have an extra outfit accessory.  Lorna and Sage have cute boots that allow them to stand on their own...sometimes.  Felicity's pumps are uninspired and don't match the rest of her outfit.  Also, the pumps do absolutely nothing to help Felicity stand on her own.

Face: without their flamboyant animal-themed face paint (and ears and tails to a lesser extent...), the Enchantimals would just be yet another line of minimaly-articulated dolls with molded clothing.  So, the face paint is probably the most critical feature in this doll line.  With that in mind, Felicity's face paint wins by a landslide...even though I don't think it makes her look anything like a fox.  Lorna really loses out here, because her only interesting facial feature is a dark, dog-like nose. I wish Mattel had given her a more obvious ovine feature (horizontal slit pupils, perhaps?).

Here are the three animal companions:

Enchantimals Flag, Caper and Flick.
Flag, the sheep, is pretty ridiculous.  I mean, she makes me giggle when I look at her, so I guess that's a good thing, but she's not much like a sheep in appearance or size.  The other two are really cute, with their happy faces and fuzzy tails, and are fun accessories for the dolls.  

None of the animals have great facial screening, and they're all completely blank on the back.  My bigger critique of this trio, though, is that they don't have a brand-specific look--their own unique set of features.  I would be hard pressed, years from now, to recognize these little critters as coming from any particular brand or collection.

I left the little animal friends at home and took the three girls outside for a few pictures in the sunlight.  I went to a local garden and tried to pair each doll with a flower or plant that had something in common with her.

First, I photographed Lorna with what I think is a Hydrangea tree.  The clumps of white flowers remind me of her hair:

Toy Box Philosopher

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The stripes on these variegated leaves made me think of Sage...

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...but I found an even more interesting background for her with these bizarre-but-beautiful hanging pink flowers (an Amaranthus species, perhaps?):


Toy Box Philosopher

With Felicity, I wanted to find a really nice backdrop that was lit up with sun.  This plain tree bark was nowhere near colorful enough...although the sun catches her hair nicely:


These orange flowers were great for bringing out the color in Felicity's face...

Toy Box Philosopher

...but I think these lilies offer the best possible color match, with their brilliant mix of yellow, red and orange:

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Bottom line?  If I look at the Enchantimals as a replacement for Ever After High or Monster High, they come up short--literally and figuratively.  They're not as detailed or creative, they're not as well-articulated, and they're much smaller.  They seem geared towards a younger audience--perhaps 4 to 7-years-olds as opposed to the 6-to-adult crowd that has been enjoying Ever After High.  I suspect that anyone who is looking at the Enchantimals as a substitute for Ever After High will be quite disappointed.

But I don't actually see these dolls as replacements, nor will I evaluate them as such...for the most part.  They're just a new line from Mattel, with faces that happen to be similar to Ever After High.

This line has a few shortcomings.  The painted elements of the dolls and the animals are a little sloppy.  All of the face paint is done is with a matrix of tiny dots, so it doesn't have the bright clarity that some other small figures possess.  Also, the dolls don't balance well at all, often because of a difference in leg lengths.  The dolls have simple articulation, which is fine, except for the fact that many of the promotional films I found online are done in a stop-action style.  Dolls with limited movement (and poor balance) are not especially well-suited for stop-action projects, so the pairing feels ill-conceived.

All of the dolls are dressed in painted leotards with removable fabric skirts.  I don't really like painted or molded clothing (mostly because it restricts a doll's versatility), so this formula for outfitting the dolls is a shortcoming in my eyes.  However, because it can be hard to dress and undress small dolls, I can certainly understand the choice--especially for the intended age group.  The skirts are easy to get on and off and they stay on nicely.  I wish that the three dolls I own had more originality in their clothing, though.  The clothing is supposed to reflect nature and the outdoors, but I would have preferred it if each doll's outfit related to her specific animal theme (maybe by hinting at that animal's habitat?) rather than simply displaying an overabundance of flowers.

On the positive side, the dolls are meant to inspire play that centers around an appreciation for animals and nature, which is certainly a theme that I enjoy.  Animals and dolls are frequently paired together, so that's nothing new, but the Enchantimals are a little different because each doll has a human-shaped face that's been painted to resemble a certain animal.  It's fun to see the variety of ways that face paint can be used to reference an animal.  In addition, many of the characters have an appropriate (non-removable) animal tail or (immobile) ears.  A few of the dolls have hair that reflects something about their animal companion, too, and the quality of the hair is very good for the most part.

Here's where I think a reference to Ever After High and Monster High is relevant: the Enchantimals would seem more original if it weren't for these other Mattel brands, which have been producing similar-looking animal-like dolls for years.  What makes this repetition even more obvious is the fact that Mattel is concurrently releasing their Monster High Family line, which features animal-human hybrid dolls that are the same size as the Enchantimals.  From what I've seen so far, I prefer the Enchantimals to the Monster High kids, but I still feel like animal-themed dolls of this style have been adequately represented on the market for quite a while.

Overall, I think the Enchantimals are cute, but there's nothing new, exciting or high-quality about their design or construction.  I don't feel a special connection to any of the characters--in fact, I have a hard time keeping the range of animals straight in my head.  The Enchantimals are all based on the same basic idea and executed at a basic level.  The $7.99 price reflects the level of construction, though, so the dolls end up being fun little companions for under $10.  I suspect these dolls will be quite attractive to younger kids.  As for me, when I look at the picture, below, I see all of the smiling faces, but don't really sense much personality or emotion in those faces.  The dolls' bland expressions sum up how I feel about the line: the Enchantimals are sweet, but don't inspire any kind of emotional reaction--good or bad--from me.

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Enchantimals by Mattel.

23 comments:

  1. Wow i didnt even know ever after high was discontinued. That is very sad, as i thought the dolls where cute and imaginative even though i never got one. The Enchantimals are cute, however they look cheep and slopilly made and dont even come close to replacing ever after high. The molded/painted on clothing is another pet peeve to me because you cant do as much with the doll as ones with removeable clothing. I feel these dolls may be very short-lived unless Mattel improves. I have actually been with this blog for 2 years now and havent really commented till now. I love your project MC2 doll reviews and i do hope you do a review of Devon because i am so curious to see her because i cant find any other review! Thank you for the great review.

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    1. I do have another Mc2 review on the horizon, so I can definitely look at Devon when that time comes. I can't seem to stay away from the Mc2 line! The science themes and pretty faces always draw me back in. :) Thank you for the suggestion!

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  2. makijaż jak wprost ze starego komiksu...
    i choć te buzie są jednakowe a mocowanie
    ogonków mocno mnie rozczarowało - pragnę
    kilku przedstawicielek z EnchanTimals :)

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  3. I'm really not surprised ever after high is being discontinued. When they were first released, I never saw them as having the same uniqueness and fun as the monster high line. I thought ever after was a bad idea to begin with, but that was an extremely personal bias and I ended up really liking a few of the dolls anyway, though none of them ever ended up joining my monster high collection.

    The reboot of the monster high line was the death knell for both lines, I think.

    As for the Enchantimals, I think they're cute, but that's about it. It looks like an attempted "kid-friendly" mash-up of the two lines without much of the creativity that kept ever after and monster high going as long as tgey did.

    I do like the 6 inch size, though. Some of my most played with toys were my 6 inch sailor moon dolls andthe versatility with that size was fantastic. I do hope 6 inch dolls are a trend that sticks around for a while, and I hope the enchantimals gain a little of the magic that made their predecessors so wonderful.

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  4. Lorna and Sage do have interesting hair, even though I hate Sage's "do" on real people. Other than that, these dolls just seem boring to me.

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  5. the ears and sloppy paint are disappointing but I suspect as a kid i'd have been ALL OVER these.


    smaller dolls I think is because research has suggested that actually, younger children prefer a smaller doll. they can be carried around easier but also smaller hands make holding a smaller object easier.
    This is why Lottie dolls are as small as they are for instance.
    So that could be what Mattel were going for there, a 4-8 demographic and thus, 6 inch tall dolls (seems to me the inches tall correlates well with the age bracket lol. Dolls for 6 yr olds are 6 inches, dolls for 10 year olds are 10 inches)

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  6. I was excited a few months ago when I saw images of these. They are cute. But the molded on clothing, permanently attatched ears and messy, pixely paintwork ruins it for me.
    And wow! Way too many characters for a first release of a toy line!

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  7. I was at Toys R Us with a friend last night, and we ended up looking at the Enchantimals display. While we both thought that some of the dolls were pretty cute (especially Sage, Felicity, and Patter), neither of us seriously considered purchasing one. We were both just super underwhelmed by the dolls' lackluster face paint, molded tops, and un-articulated bodies. Now that I know that some of the girls' tails are inexplicably connected to the middle of their backs, I'm even MORE convinced that this line just isn't for me. I MIGHT be tempted to get a Daneesa to serve as a "little sister" to my Isi Dawndancer Monster High gal, but that's only if she gets released on her own (as opposed to part of a two doll + two pet playset).

    You DID answer a question I had about Lorna, though! When I saw her in the store, I said to my friend, "So, are her sheep ears glued to her hair, or are her ears attached to her head and just super long? I think they would fall off really easily if they were stuck to her hair, but giant ears would look kinda silly if you pushed her hair back." I got my answer, and yes, they look completely ridiculous. I actually snorted out loud when I saw that picture...

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  8. Thank you so much for your honest and detailed review. I keep looking at these at the store, but I haven't yet been all that tempted to purchase one. I think the price point is too high for the limited articulation and molded on clothes. I might be tempted to buy a few if they were $5 each. I think that would be a better price for these. I don't understand why companies don't add more articulation to their dolls. It's not like its impossible to add articulation to smaller dolls - both the Shiba-cuties and Madame Alexander Travel dolls are small and they have a bit more than the standard articulation. One of the main reasons Monster High and Ever After High were so popular was the great articulation. Once Mattel starting removing articulation from these dolls they stopped selling well. You would think Mattel would have made the connection. Oh well I guess not...

    I'm still waiting for a company to make my ideal doll - a mini doll with similar proportions to an American Girl or Our Generation Girl mini doll with lots of articulation. I want a doll this size that can bend its elbows and knees - is that too much to ask?

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    1. I have not seen the Shibajuku Minis so I don't know how they actually feel but going by looks their joints look rather fragile and like they couldn't stand up to a child's rough play. As for the MA Travel dolls the legs and arms are much thicker than these. I think for a mini doll to be articulated it can't be willowy unless it's meant for older kids.

      As for MH and EAH, MH was lagging even before there were unarticulated options and EAH never generated the kind of sales Mattel had been hoping for.

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  9. The only two of these I considered were Sage and (Pitter? The Peacock), and honestly Sage is just so unsettling from these pictures...she looks like an alien trying to impersonate a skunk in Mattelworld.

    Even at this price I expected slightly better QC.

    Also while I haven't seen any confirmation, yeah EAH is probably dead. And I'm mad we never got a second Faybelle.

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  10. I think these are more like an animal themed cross between a Chelsea doll and a Shoppie than EAH.

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  11. I thought these dolls were part of the Eah line, I guess they aren't? They're actually a line of their own.. huh! While I think these dolls are super cute, I don't see myself buying them, although I would love to get the Flamingo set, cus hello! Flamingos haha. Of course I have to comment on the la k of articulation! If there was some actual articulation it would have made me more interested in these dolls I think. Is Eah really being discontinued or is it just their tv show? From what I understand there is supposed to be new dolls coming out later in the fall or something. Not that I can say I'm sad to hear about it, I've not bought or been interested in buying any Eah in a LONG time. I'm more interested in the DC superhero girls lately. Anyway! Great review Emily, I enjoyed reading about these dolls!

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  12. Wow, these are worse than I expected. These dolls could be cute if the execution were better, but this just seems sloppy. I think my favorite part of this line is the animal companions, most of them could look awesome with a bit of a repaint. Not sure what can be done about the dolls, though. Mug them for their shoes, perhaps?

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  13. Had determined not to buy one. Then I say Taylee Turtle in Toysrus. Left without her, and returned the next day to snatch her up as soon as the store opened. Separated from the rest of the line, she is kind of alien-like, which is a good thing to me.

    There were three Turtle girls available; one with very vibrant face paint, a mediocre one, and one with very little coloration on her face. Normally, I go for intense color, but in Taylee's case, strangely, I chose the very pale girl. And I love her. She also has knee articulation to ride her bike.

    Her turtle pal is adorable. Probably the turtle and skunk are my fave pets. Can't say I'm a fan of the others much.

    I'm very mad at Mattel for the cheesy quality and blah faces. They have huge potential for extreme personality and cuteness. The box art of Taylee Turtle is the best! Having said that, and purchasing Taylee, I kinda want Lorna, Sage, the owl, and the flamingo gal. Not sure if I want to actually buy them because I don't want to support the execution.

    Also, I'm taking another look at the Ever After Pixies which I had also rejected for the same reasons when they came out. Now I'm torn between buying more Pixies and Enchantimals

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  14. I think toy companies are in critical situation right know, kids simply don't play with toys like dolls anymore, even at younger age they prefer technollogy over toys. This reflect in the overall sales of toys and thus in the quality of the product. Just look at Barbie from the 90's and early 2000's, yeah they didn't have the articulation we have now, but the fabrics, the accesories, the designs were even better than collector items from today. Even the face screenings were different with each release. You could see a barbie with green eyes and golden blonde hair and a platinum blue eyed girl with red, pink and even orange lipstick. different eyes, eyebrows and facemolds. Now we have the same dolls over and over again. I think thus has to do less with the companies and more with the change of the times. It's very sad. I am focusing instead on collecting older dolls, even if they are more expensive.
    You just get a whole different feeling from opening let's say a Generation Girl Barbie than any fashionista from today. I think that would be an interesting post to make.
    greetings from Mexico.

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    1. This is very insightful, Luis. Your comment makes me think hard. For example: it feels like, despite this trend of decreasing interest in dolls, toy stores are increasingly packed-full of choices (many of them small and short-term gratification type objects). Could it be that toy companies are overcompensating for declining sales with these desperate attempts to grab kids' attention? For me, it's a disturbing trend. I like the idea of a post that addresses this--thank you! :)

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  15. The Monster High Garden Ghouls line includes three insect-pixie dolls even smaller than the new sibling dolls. Might be worth a look.

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  16. i would have loved these as a kid, but now they seem pretty lackluster. by the way, i might have asked before, but have you seen the forces of destiny dolls yet? they're star wars dolls and they're pretty cute (and badass) but they all have molded clothing except for endor leia. :(

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  17. The Enchantimals have very cute artwork but the dolls are just... meh. No articulation, moulded clothes, creepy smile, face paint and ears... If I had to choose one I would probably go with the owl set - the birds are adorable and they have nice accessories (the nightcap!). The owl girl doesn't look that bad (at least she's smiling with a closed mouth).

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  18. I love animals, so I was really excited for these dolls- but I was pretty much let down at first impression after seeing them in person. I know with the cheaper prices and age range they had to make "some changes" but they're just generic faces with slightly different skirts and nice hair; they lack the charming details that made the MH and EAH dolls much more enjoyable. The difference between art and actual doll always bothered me, but I tolerated it because I was still impressed with the dolls; which I think actually hurts this series. I was planning on getting Bree, but after actually seeing them at the store and in video reviews, I decided to hold off on them.

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  19. I found a new surprise doll that you might be interested in. They are lalaloopsy paint can series 2 (in series 2 the cans are purple, series 1 has a bright pink can). They cost about $5.00 at Walmart. I got 1 and I enjoyed the mini doll so much I want to get a couple more. In series 1 you got a complete doll, That you can't switch the hair outfit and shoes (at least that what I think series 1 looks like, I don't have any series 1 I just saw some pictures online). But, in series 2 you get a doll, outfit, accessories, wig, and a checklist poster. They remind me of the surprise LOL dolls, but they are cheaper, and they don't have a water feature. Also, the lalaloopsy mini doll is not naked if she is not wearing her outfit.

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  20. These are cute. I love their companion animals. Not a must have for me, but I can see they should be popular. So very sad about Ever After High.
    ~Xyra

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I value and welcome all opinions, but comments with abusive or offensive language will be deleted.