Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fan Girl Black Panther and Black Widow by Madame Alexander

During my final shopping trips to Toys 'R' Us a few weeks ago, I purchased a few things to review in depth, including two of Madame Alexander's Marvel Fan Girl dolls: Black Panther and Black Widow.  The Black Panther character was sold out at my local store, but she was still in stock online (and even on sale!).  So, I purchased Black Widow in person and ordered Black Panther online.  Black Panther took forever to ship, but I feel fortunate to have ordered her before the Toys 'R' Us website shut down.  These dolls were Toys 'R' Us exclusives.

One interesting thing about the Fan Girl line is that each character has a variant that's harder to find than the standard-release version.  These variants are called Fan Girl Finds and have specially-marked boxes.  The Fan Girl Finds cost the same as the other versions of the same doll.  For reasons I don't completely understand (movie popularity?), both of the Black Panther variants cost considerably more than the other dolls.  Toys 'R' Us sent me the Fan Girl Find variant of Black Panther ($79.99) and I purchased the regular version of Black Widow ($49.99).

In this review, I will take a close look at my Black Panther doll and do a quick overview of Black Widow.

Black Panther Fan Girl, gold variant ($79.99).
The Black Panther doll comes in a large black cardboard window box:


Black Panther has some extra accessories that come displayed next to her in the box (a jacket and a headdress).  When my doll arrived in the mail, her headdress had come detached from its plastic mount and was rattling around.

The upper left corner of the box window has a little seal that identifies this particular doll as a Fan Girl Find:


The variants for all of the characters are as follows:

Black Panther: variant has a gold headdress and necklace instead of silver headdress and necklace.
Black Widow: variant has a red hat instead of a black hat.
Captain America: variant has a star on her headband instead of a plain headband.
Spider-Gwen: variant has silver glasses instead of white glasses.
Iron Man: variant has rhinestone buttons on her bodice instead of painted buttons.

Most of these variations are really hard to detect (especially Captain America's headband) but some are obvious (like Black Widow's hat).  I actually don't like the red hat version of Black Widow...and I'm not sure I like the gold version of Black Panther as much as I like the silver version.

One reason I don't love the gold accents on my Black Panther is that everything else about the design of this doll and her packaging is silver (vibranium?).  

The box has a metallic silver border around the window and matching silver writing:


There's even a metallic silver Black Panther head on the bottom corner of the box:

This looks like a Transformer symbol to me.
One side of the box has a large (partial) portrait of the Black Panther doll.  The other side has purple text written along a beveled edge:


Here's a better look at the portrait:


The art work is very nice:


The back of the box is mostly purple, with some concept art for Black Panther and a row of small portraits showing the other characters in the line:


Here's a close-up of the concept art:


There's a bit of text in the middle of the box, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me:


I mean, it makes sense right up until the part where it says "these heroines are so much more - they are your reason for being."  What?  What heroines are they talking about?  I thought they were talking to fan girls, not about them.  Only one of the Fan Girl dolls is inspired by a female superhero.  Also, isn't it a bit dramatic to say these heroines (whoever they are) are somebody's reason for being?

Are they implying that the Fan Girls are fashion heroines?

Maybe I'm just being dense, but it all seems weird to me.

Anyway, here are the portraits of the other four dolls:


I've seen all of the dolls in person at this point, and while I really like Black Widow, I wasn't very tempted by any of the others...even though Spiderman is my favorite superhero.  

Spider-Gwen's name seems out-of-place, too.  Gwen must refer to Spiderman's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, but all of the other dolls are simply named after the superhero that inspired their design.  I mean, why isn't the Iron Man doll called Iron-Pepper?

I'm not really enough of a fan girl myself to comment on any of this, so I'll move along.

Black Panther and her accessories come attached to a purple cardboard backdrop:

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The doll, headdress, and jacket each came attached to their own molded plastic mount.  The stand was rubber-banded to one side of the backdrop.

Here's the packaging wreckage: 


And here's everything that was in the box:

Black Panther, three pieces of a stand, a jacket, and a headdress.
I'll look at the headdress and the imitation leather jacket a little later in the review:

See you later.
The clear plastic stand is made out of three separate pieces:


Here are the three pieces assembled:

(It's easy to assemble)
The stand's base has "Fan Girl" written in silver cursive:


The saddle part of the stand slots into the top of the pole, but it has a series of small pegs that allow the height to be adjusted quite a bit:


It's hard to adjust the saddle, though, and every time I try this, I worry I'll break one of the pieces.

I'm not actually sure why the stand is adjustable, either, since if the saddle isn't in its lowest position, Black Panther can't get her feet on the ground:


After I pushed the saddle all of the way down, Black Panther's boots were perfectly aligned with the stand's base:


It's possible to balance Black Panther without her stand, but she tips over frequently and is much better off with her stand.  I'm really glad that the stand is made out of clear plastic, because it isn't too noticeable in photographs. 

Here's a look at Black Panther exactly as she was right out of the box:



Her hair has beautiful twists in the front and along the back of the hairline, but she also has a large section of curly hair on the back of her head that is loose.


The back of my Black Panther's hair got messed up and flattened by the packaging:


I tried to check out the rooting pattern, but there were plugs of hair going in all directions!


I sorted things out the best I could, and uncovered a fairly sparse rooting pattern on the back of the head:


I brushed the loose hair a bit with my fingers, and discovered that it has more than enough volume to cover the back off Black Panther's scalp.  In fact, the hair looks very thick and full:



I much prefer the twisted sections of Black Panther's hair, though, and really wish that the doll had come with a full head of twists.  That's one thing that might have justified her inflated price.

Throughout the review, I found myself arranging her hair so that I couldn't see much of the loose strands in back.


The twisted hair is really cool, and I love the occasional silvery-white twists that accent the dark black color. 

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My doll came with one silver twist of hair stiffly adhered to the right side of her head.  I though it was meant to be glued there, but I think perhaps it just got stuck in that position because of too much styling product.

Underneath the stiff twist, my doll has a rash of strange white dots along her hairline:

Um...yuck.
In addition to the twists, Black Panther has two hard, coiled sections of hair on either side of her head that look like panther ears!  This is a wonderful feature:


I'd love to know if there's something underneath those ears, helping them to hold their shape, but there's no way I'm taking them down!


I did my best to pull Panther's hair away from her face so that I could get an unobstructed look at her features.

I think she has a gorgeous face.  She doesn't look entirely human to me, which might be because of the ears, but could also be due to the fact that she has highly exaggerated proportions, with a tiny blip of a nose, massive eyes, and a round head:

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It could also just be that I've been looking at a lot of My Little Pony Equestria Girls recently, and so I have pseudo-human dolls on my mind.

Panther's profile accentuates her tiny, ski-jump nose and her huge, heavily-lashed eyes:


Black Panther's pale grey eyes are painted, and are accented with bright red eyeshadow and some brown "tribal" face paint designs.

face

You might notice little pieces of cut hair sticking to Panther's face in many of these pictures.  The hairs are everywhere...even on the stand.  I think they're shedding from the fabric of the skirt.

Black Panther's lashes are rooted into her brow, which is unusual for a doll with painted eyes.  I've seen this type of lash with inset eyes, but painted eyes usually have strip lashes that are glued in place.


The thickness of the lashes looks great.  There's a row of painted eyelashes behind the rooted lashes, but they're positioned so close to the eye, they're almost impossible to see unless the rooted lashes are bent forwards.  I appreciate this because it always seems silly to have two rows of lashes over each eye.


Panther's lips are painted with two shades of red.  My doll's top layer of bright red paint is slightly offset from the underlying plum-toned layer:


I never would have noticed that without a zoom lens.

Overall, the face is painted beautifully, with vivid colors and only minor, barely perceptible defects.

The neckline of Black Panther's outfit has a lot going on.  There's an imitation leather choker that sits right above a complex golden necklace.  The necklace is sewn to the dress with several layers of secure-looking black thread, which made me unsure about whether the necklace is supposed to be separate from the dress or part of it:


I ended up leaving the necklace attached to the dress, which, in retrospect, I think might have been the wrong choice.  Sorry about that.  At least with the thread in place, the necklace stays well-aligned with the bodice...and I won't loose it.

The choker is decorated with the Black Panther emblem and closes in back with a small square of velcro.


I like how the neckline of the outfit looks without the choker.  There's enough complexity with the necklace, the diamond cutout, and the contrasting fabrics of the bodice:


Black Panther comes wearing imitation leather arm bands.  These don't really match anything else in the outfit--texture-wise, that is.  They're shiny (not like the matte imitation leather of the choker) and have a very simple shape. 

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I don't think the arm bands add a lot to the outfit, especially since Black Panther comes with a cropped jacket that covers her arms and has a very similar effect.


The arm bands slide off very easily:


They're hemmed at one end and not the other:


With all of the black in Panther's outfit, I was sure I would find staining on some parts of her body, but I did not.

That doesn't mean I liked everything I found under those arm bands, though.  Black Panther's arms and hands are plagued by a collection of defects that range from small irregularities in the vinyl:


To large areas of scuffed and missing paint:


The missing paint is most noticeable on Panther's hands:


On the palm of her hand, it's hard to tell the missing paint from all of the shed hairs!


I don't think I've ever seen a doll with a painted skin tone.  Not a doll in this size and price category, anyway.  I have no idea why Madame Alexander chose to paint the skin rather than just molding the arms in brown vinyl.  It was (clearly) a terrible choice.

Let's take a close look at the rest of Black Panther's outfit, and then I'll inspect her body for more of these paint defects.

Her outfit is composed of a corset top and a two-layered skirt:


The corset is sewn from two contrasting black fabrics, one of them sueded and the other smooth.  The sueded fabric catches my lights funny and looks reddish in some shots, but it's not at all red in real life.  It's pitch black.


The back of the corset has metal grommets with a black ribbon strung through them.  It looks great:


I didn't want to completely remove the ribbon, so I left the corset in place until I could slide it off over Panther's hips.

Her skirt is long in back and angles up to an open front:


The two sides of the skirt meet in the middle right near the waistband, but it isn't the kind of garment you'd want to wear without opaque tights. 


The waistband closes in back with a bit of velcro and so the skirt is easy to slide off.


The top layer has dalmatian-like fuzzy spots (the culprit of all the shedding, I suspect) over plain black netting:


The bottom layer is black canvas with a surged edge:


Under the skirt, Panther is wearing textured black tights:


The tights have a shiny snake skin print:


And they have full toes:


Black Panther's shoes are heeled boots with spiked toes:


It's nice that the spikes are painted silver...


...although the paint work is a little sloppy:


I like the molded folds at the top of the boots, and the three silver spikes along the back:


The soles of the boots are also painted silver, and each boot is marked with its correct side–right or left:

Notice that there are still tiny hairs...everywhere.
I wish the boots had stuck to the concept art a little better, because these blue (fully-spiked!) shoes are awesome:


With the tights and the boots removed, I was finally able to loosen the corset enough to slide it over Panther's hips:


The gold necklace is made out of lightweight plastic.  Seeing it like this, I feel silly for not detaching it from the corset!


The outside of the corset is sewn together from six separate pieces of fabric that alternate between soft suede and shiny satin.  Here's a closer look at the contrast:


The corset itself is fully-lined:


And the lining is also sewn together from six separate pieces:


I wish the white lining wasn't visible from the outside of the corset (it's especially visible around the diamond-shaped cutout) but I prefer that to having stains on my doll!


As it is, I could not find a single stain on my Black Panther's body.

Her torso is made out of hard plastic but her head and limbs are vinyl.  She has eleven points of articulation:


Panther has fashion-heeled feet and so she can't stand on her own, but unfortunately the stand (even with the saddle on its lowest setting) isn't low enough to support her without her shoes:


She has an even harder time balancing on the stand when she's facing backwards:


So, I guess this is a good reason to make a doll stand adjustable: to accommodate a doll both in her shoes and barefoot.  Too bad Madame Alexander made the stand adjustable in the wrong direction.

There's a bit of a color difference between the plastic torso and the painted vinyl limbs.  The difference is not quite as noticeable in real life as it is in these photos, but it's definitely noticeable:


Black Panther has a slender body with a small chest and a bit of a sway back:



The back of her torso has a few scuffs which I suspect are from the metal grommets of the corset:


Here's a better look:

Thank goodness her torso isn't painted!
She also has molded star-pattered underpants that are a nice fit for the superhero theme:


Black Panther's neck joint allows her to look from side to side:


And also up and down...but only a tiny little bit:


She has hinged rotation in her shoulders:



And also hinged rotation in her elbows and wrists.  Both her elbows and her wrists can bend to about 90 degrees:


Her lower arms get rotated into the wrong orientation pretty easily, though.  It can be hard to tell if they're facing the right way, except for the fact that if the arm is backwards, the elbow will no longer bend to 90 degrees:


The wrist can bend backwards to just shy of 90 degrees, but the elbow does not bend backwards at all...which is realistic:


Black Panther can touch her fingers to the top of her head, but she can't quite bend her arms enough to touch her face or her upper torso:


She can fold her hand together at the level of her belly:


Black Panther has hinged rotation in her hips, but not enough for her to do full splits in either direction:



She can sit flat on the ground with her feet pretty close together, though:


She can bend her knees to about 90 degrees...


And can also rotate her lower legs at the knee:


She cannot kneel on her own, though:


She has very high arches in her feet and no articulation at the ankle:


She can't balance in too many poses without her stand, but I was able to get her to stay upright like this:


All of the vinyl parts of Black Panther's body appear to be painted, and there are little defects in all of these areas.  The joints are particularly messy, and they accumulate new scuffs whenever the doll is posed.



There's an expanding crack in the vinyl just below this joint, too.
In addition to a few chips in the paint at the top of the legs...

By the end of the review, there were several more chips near the hip joint.
...my doll's leg also has a funny petal-shaped defect in the vinyl:


The hands are still the worst, though.  They're totally unacceptable for any doll, let alone one that costs $80.


I'm embarrassed for Madame Alexander.

Black Panther is quite a bit taller than a Barbie doll:

Madame Alexander Fan Girl with Made to Move Barbie.
And almost exactly the same height and size as a Moxie Teenz doll:

Madame Alexander Fan Girl (left) with Moxie Teenz doll (right).
In fact, the Fan Girls can share Moxie Teenz clothes (but not shoes) nicely.  Too bad the Moxie Teenz are discontinued!

Madame Alexander Fan Girl wearing Moxie Teenz clothing.
I wondered if the City Girls might be similar in size, too, but they're much taller than the Fan Girls:

Madame Alexander Fan Girl with Tonner City Girl.
Before I redressed Black Panther, I decided to brush her hair.  I try to be really careful with curly-haired dolls because sometimes brushing can make their hair a terrible mess...but with Black Panther the hair seemed more wavy than curly, and so I thought it would be ok.

Brushing was not a huge mistake in this case, but I don't think I'd recommend it.  First of all, I had to be really careful to keep all of the beautiful twists out of the way so that I didn't snag one of them with the brush by mistake.  Second, the hair gets really frizzy after it's been brushed:


The added volume makes it harder to minimize the loose hair in favor of the twists:


I definitely prefer shots where I can only see the twisted hair:

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When I redressed Black Panther, I decided to try out her jacket instead of the arm bands.  

The jacket is made out of imitation leather, but it doesn't have the "wet shine" finish that the arm bands have.  It also has some silver tooth-shaped decorations along the sleeves:


I like the way the jacket looks more than I like the way the arm bands look:


The jacket is cut high in back so that it does not block the beautiful corset lacing:


The jacket adds some edginess to the otherwise soft and fuzzy corset and skirt outfit.  


I especially like how the tooth design on the sleeves coordinates with the necklace...I just wish that I had gotten the silver necklace that actually matches the jacket (and the hair).

The headdress that came with this doll is also gold, which--again--seems out-of-place in this ensemble.

The headdress is made out of lightweight painted plastic, just like the necklace:


There's one jewel-like design in the middle of the headdress that I think has been painted silver...either that or the gold paint is just wearing off:


I struggled a bit to get the headdress over Panther's head correctly.  The plastic is thin so it has some bend in it, but I didn't want to bend it too much for risk of breaking it.  The hardest part was getting the loops over Panther's coiled ears.  These sections of hair can not bend out of the way at all.

Here's my first attempt:


The two sections that run underneath Black Panther's eyes are riding up a little too high here, but I couldn't push the headdress down any more than this because of the bulk of the hair:

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In the back you can see the other side of the two ear loops, and a small section of headdress that sticks straight down:


I wondered if perhaps the ear loops were supposed to include a few sections of hair?  This might allow the headdress to sit a little lower on the face. 

So I repositioned the headdress, very carefully separating out a few twists of hair to thread through the sides:


Black Panther's eyes aren't blocked anymore, but the top of the headdress doesn't look very good:


Although it looks better form some angles than from others:


I think I must've had it right the first time, with the whole headdress on top of the hair:

Toy Box Philosopher

The headdress looks pretty cool from some angles, but I was really stressed about messing up Black Panther's twisted hair, coiled ears, and face paint as I maneuvered this thing into place.  It's not an easy accessory to use.

The headdress could have been really delicate and beautiful if it had been made out of a thin metal chain or even some connecting strands of metallic beads.

Here are a few more pictures of Black Panther without her headdress:



I like the little leather jacket, but I think my favorite look for Panther is without the jacket, the arm bands, or the leather choker:


I tried my best to conceal the messy loose hair at the back of Panther's head for most of my pictures, but you'll notice it peeking out in scruffy tufts here and there:



The loose hair does provide nice support for the twists, allowing them to fan out and have some implied movement:



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I was able to balance Back Panther in one action pose without using the stand.  It's a strange pose, but she's holding it all on her own:


Overall, this is a visually striking doll, mostly because of her unusual facial features, gorgeous face paint, and (partially) elaborate hairstyle.


Her outfit and articulation are very nice, but fall short of being exceptional.  Her painted limbs are an unfortunate disaster.

I was curious to compare Black Panther to Black Widow for a few main reasons.  First of all, Black Widow is $30 less expensive than Black Panther, so I wanted to see what makes up that difference.  Also, Black Widow does not have dark skin, so I wondered if she would have painted limbs.

Black Widow comes in a smaller box than Black Panther.  There are no accessories mounted next to her, either, just the stand attached to the left side of the backdrop:


The other three Fan Girl characters have boxes that are this size.

One side of Black Widow's box has a partial portrait that looks great:

Sassy.
The back of the box features some concept art--just like Black Panther's box:


I love looking at this section of the Fan Girl boxes.

I ran into a small problem as soon as I got everything out of the box.  Black Widow's stand won't slide under her form-fitting dress, so the dress has to be partially unsnapped in order to position the stand!


I also figured there wasn't much hope that this doll could balance on her own, given that her high heeled shoes are...well, without heels:


I finally got her balanced on the stand with her dress snapped back up:

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Black Widow comes with her hair tied off to one side with three loops of red thread:


Her veiled hat, which has the Black Widow symbol printed on top, comes plastic-tied into her head:


To make things even more complex, the bright red hair is framed by a dramatic high collar that is attached to the head at the back:


All of this looks great, and perhaps the doll could be displayed without removing any of the attachments, but I wanted to be able to remove the red threads and brush the hair, so I set about cutting all of the threads and ties.

First I removed the hat:


The hat is made out of vinyl and has a tulle veil stitched to the inside:



With the veil gone, Black Widow's face is much easier to see:


I love the combination of flaming red hair and leafy green eyes!

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Next, I cut all of the threads that were holding the hair in place:


The hair was tied into a side ponytail with a big rubber band.


There's a section of hair towards the front of the head that was not included in the ponytail:


The weight of the loosened hair caused the dramatic collar to bend backwards.

It's possible to sweep the hair to the front and get the collar to stand up straight again:


I removed the rubber band and brushed Black Widow's hair:


The hair feels wonderful.  It's silky and smooth and has a lovely shine.

There's a densely-rooted side part on the left side of Black Widow's head:


And a more sparse rooting pattern at the back of her head:


The hair color is hard to capture with my camera, but it's a vibrant bright red with strawberry blonde/orange highlights:


I tied all of Black Widow's lovely hair back into a single ponytail.  This style flattens the collar, but I think it looks fine:


Black Widow has the same face mold as Black Panther, but there are a few differences in her face paint.


First of all, Black Widow does not have any decorative face paint...or even much makeup to speak of, aside from her dark red lips.  She also has slightly smaller, more fine-lined eyes than Black Panther.

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Also, she has some hairline texture in her orange eyebrows:


Unfortunately, my doll's left eye has a few mangled eyelashes that are difficult to straighten.  Also, the painted lashes on her upper eyelid are more obvious than the barely-visible lashes on Black Panther:


Black Widow's lips are a dark maroon set against an even darker shade.  The effect is like that of a lip liner.  There are a few paint defects in the outer line of paint along my doll's upper lip:


My doll also came with a section of what looked like scuffed vinyl at the very top of her forehead:


Fortunately, I was able to rub those marks away with my finger.

I like how different my two Fan Girls look, despite their identical molds:

Fan Girls Black Panther (left) and Black Widow (right).
Now let's take a quick look at Black Widow's dress.

It's tightly-fitted through the torso and hips with a mermaid-style flared skirt at the very bottom:



A flimsy imitation leather belt decorates the waistline.  This attaches with a square of velcro and is easy to remove:


The dress doesn't really need a belt in my opinion.  I think that the delicate darts and the elegance of the shantung-like fabric are appealing enough on their own:



The bottom of the skirt is made out of different fabrics than the rest of the dress.  There's a black tulle underskirt with a soft, slightly shiny woven material on top:


As we saw before, the dress unsnaps all of the way down the front, making it very easy to get on and off.  The snaps are made out of black plastic:


The inside of the dress is fully lined...in black.  However, there's no staining on this doll, either.


Here's a closer look at the fabric of the skirt:


And the net-covered high collar:


Black Widow's shoes are very plain black heel-less pumps:


They're really fun to look at, but seem wholly impractical.


I won't pretend that I was surprised to see that this style of shoe exists in real life:


Wearing that kind of shoe around must be an excellent workout for the calf muscles!

I actually worked for a bit and managed to get Black Widow to balance on her own in these shoes!


It wasn't easy to do this, but I wanted you to know that it is possible, at least.


Black Widow has the same exact body style as Black Panther:


I think that the color mismatch between her torso and her limbs is even more noticeable than it was with Black Panther.  

Her head, in particular, is much redder than the rest of her body:


In fact, her head makes the rest of her body look a little green.

Happily, Black Widow does not have painted limbs, and so her skin isn't flaking off:

Thank goodness.
Black Widow looks great in Moxie Teenz clothing, and could certainly shed her fancy gown and become a regular fashion or play doll:

Madame Alexander Black Widow wearing Moxie Teenz clothing.
Madame Alexander Black Widow wearing Moxie Teenz clothing.
Redressing Black Widow for her final photo shoot has some complications.  Not only did I have to dress her with the stand in place, but I had a hard time getting her splayed fingers through the thin (lined) sleeves of her gown:


I adore Black Widow's hair, but its bulkiness doesn't work well with the collar of the dress.


I experimented with a French braid to see if that might be an elegant way to contain the hair...


...but there are too many different lengths of hair, and all of the braids I tried looked too messy:


The hair can be swept forward while the collar is up, but this style (while dramatic) doesn't feel polished enough to match the sleek dress:


An up-do would probably be the best solution for this doll.  

It would take me a lot of time to engineer a permanent bun, but here's a quick approximation of how it might look:


Madame Alexander

This hairstyle even looks good with the little pill box hat:


Black Widow's long sleeved dress made it hard to pose her arms.  I wasn't able to orient them into the correct position unless I rolled up the sleeves and looked at the joint.

Remember that if the lower arm is rotated backwards, it's unable to bend to a full 90 degrees:


Once the arm was oriented correctly, though, I was able to get the pose I wanted!


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Here are a few more shots of this red-haired beauty:


The hair on this doll is just wonderful.  I love how it looks and how it feels.  

It can seem a little scraggy in some of the pictures, but in person it's hard to resist.


The drama of the hair and the gown pair incredibly well together.


Madame Alexander

I could photograph this doll all day.

Toy Box Philosopher

Toy Box Philosopher


Toy Box Philosopher

Bottom line?  Madame Alexander's line of Fan Girls are female fashion dolls dressed in outfits inspired by a favorite superhero.  I found this concept very odd the first time I heard about it. Personally, I'd rather have an action figure of the actual superhero, like Hot Toys' Black Widow or the 12-inch Marvel Legends Black Panther by Hasbro.  However, the idea behind the Fan Girls is certainly unique, and the dolls are interesting to look at.  I find some of them much more appealing than others, though, and even between my two favorites--Black Panther and Black Widow--one of them is a much better buy than the other.  I'll lay out a quick summary of the differences:

Body: both dolls have 13.5-inch bodies with eleven points of articulation and good flexibility.  Both dolls also have noticeable (but minor) differences in coloring between their heads, limbs, and plastic torsos.  I think that of my two dolls, Black Widow has the more obvious mismatch.  Black Panther's dark skin tone is painted onto her limbs, and the paint is chipped or peeling in many places, most glaringly on her hands and near every joint.

Face: both dolls have beautifully painted eyes with thick, rooted lashes.  My Black Widow has a few bent eyelashes. Black Panther's decorative face paint and large grey eyes combine to give her a unique, fantastical appearance that sets her apart from other fashion dolls.  On the other hand, Black Widow's face is more versatile; she could be used as a regular fashion doll.

Hair:  Black Panther's twisted hair is amazing.  If her entire head of hair had been styled this way, I would have been hugely impressed.  As it is, the wavy loose hair at the back of her head looks scraggly and unkempt, especially in contrast to the sleek, even twists.  Black Widow's hair is not as elaborate, but the color and texture are wonderful, and the drama of the hair pairs really nicely with the black outfit.  I had a great time playing with Black Widow's hair!

Outfit: both outfits are almost entirely black, and yet neither caused any staining on the dolls' bodies.  Wow!  Both outfits are also well-made, with lined interiors and careful details.  For me, Black Panther's outfit lacks cohesiveness.  Everything is black, sure, but the shedding fuzziness in the skirt (and the suede in the corset) are in disagreement with the more severe, tribal elements of the outfit, like the toothed necklace, spiked boots, and edgy leather jacket.  The flimsy plastic headdress is hard to use and doesn't seem to fit very well.  I just feel like the outfit doesn't have a clear statement to make.  In contrast, Black Widow's simple black mermaid dress--with its enormous collar, fitted silhouette, and multi-layered skirt--is understated enough to allow the doll's face and hair to command attention, but dramatic enough to give the doll an abundance of elegance and personality.  The only small complaints I have are that the body-hugging fit of the dress makes the stand hard to use and the hat (once the plastic ties are cut) has no way of staying on the doll's head.

Price:  I did not find enough difference between these two dolls to justify the $30 difference in their prices.  Black Panther has a few extra outfit elements (the jacket and the headdress) but even with these pieces, her overall look fails to wow me the way Black Widow's does.  The hairstyle is probably the biggest reason for the price hike, but the twists would have to cover the doll's entire head before I would put their value anywhere near $30.  I own a $25 doll with a full head of braids.  It can be done.

I went into this review assuming that Black Panther would be my favorite Fan Girl.  In the end, she was a bit of a disappointment.  The let-down was mostly because of her flaking skin, but also in part because of her underwhelming outfit and flimsy plastic headdress.  I have no regrets about exploring this new line of dolls, though, because Black Widow ended up being much better than I expected.  I love almost everything about her, from her amazing hair to her beautiful outfit.  Best of all, I can forget the whole Fan Girl premise and just imagine that I have an evening gown version of Black Widow herself.

Madame Alexander's Fan Girls: Black Widow and Black Panther.

29 comments:

  1. I think Black Panther's doll is the most striking and beautiful of the group, but what a shame that she has all those paint defect issues! I'm pretty sure I heard online somewhere that her "cat ears" are just glued on, so I'd be hesitant to try taking them down.

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  2. Spider-Gwen is Gwen Stacy, but from an alternate timeline where she's a superhero herself! Her look involves a white-hooded costume with pink accents, and the Fan Girl doll riffs on that theme fairly well.

    Madame Alexander definitely seems to be still learning how to make a modern-style fashion doll.

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    1. In my opinion, MA did a fantastic job with the Alexandra Fairchild Ford fashion doll line. Unfortunately for them, Tonner jumped into that 16" market and beat them out. The clothes for Alexandra and friends were especially gorgeous.

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  4. I haven't finished the review yet, but I thought I'd let you know that Spider-Gwen is an actual super-heroine in her own right. There was some comic book story-line where she was brought back from the dead (as they often do) and she got the same (or roughly the same?) powers as Spiderman. It is kind of a dumb superhero name but at least it flows well.

    Incidentally, I'd love to see Iron-Pepper. That sounds delightful. Maybe she has to fill in for Tony when he's too hungover one day? So she's getting the hang of the suit, enjoying herself, and then cursing him softly when things take a turn for the worse, as they inevitably do, before saving the day. And then she confuses Thor, who suspects she's actually Loki, until she talks him down (or her down... Thor is a woman in the current comics. I don't read that many comics these days but I'm somewhat aware of this stuff.) XD

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    1. Pepper does have her own suit which she is called Rescue. In universe Spider-Gwen is called Ghost Spider which I do like the name of.

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    2. Oh, awesome! I'm sure Pepper is his backup when Tony gets in a tight spot. Also, Ghost Spider is way cooler. I guess people just started calling her Spider-Gwen to be cheeky and it stuck (or the company assumed it'd make more sense for the fans to call her that, so the fan dolls do? It's a bit odd, the whole backstory with this particular toy-line.)

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  5. Nice review. I am shocked by the paint issues on the Black Panther Fangirl. About Spider-Gwen... In one universe, Gwen becomes a spider-powered superhero. So the doll is a woman doing a fangirl cosplay of spider-Gwen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider-Gwen

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  6. lalki ciekawe i ładne -
    rozczarowałam się jednak
    jakością - Marvel pożałował
    na plastiku, a przecież stroje
    są świetne i twarze urocze...

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  7. In an alternate timeline, Gwen Stacy's the one who got bit by the radioactive spider, becoming Spider-Gwen. Not to be confused with Gwenpool(real name: Gwen Poole) who's unrelated to Deadpool, but has the 4th wall breaking power because she's from the real world.

    Black Widow's inspired by a literal widow, she's dressed for a funeral. ;) These dolls are made to be displayed mint in box though.

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  8. Spider Gwen is a different character to Spiderman, as other's have stated. She's pink and white and lives in another universe. There's also spider woman. There's a huge spider family lol.

    I don't GET these dolls, they just confuse me. Why inspired by heroes rather than making dolls of the female heroines? A spider gwen and black widow doll would be amazing! And a few of them if you didn't know what they were referencing you'd have no way of knowing what the hell they were. I mean, the Black Panther one just looks like a dark skinned lady in some fancy dress, the black widow one just looks like a 30s starlet (she IS beautiful though) so the super hero element is rather lost in these I feel.

    The painted vinyl makes zero sense to me, why would you do that?

    Even if a doll is "supposed" to be displayed mib (why make it articulated then?) for the price they're asking there's just no excuse for such cheap shoddy workmanship on the body.
    and the variant prices for such minor variants? that's taking the mick.

    They are pretty dolls though. I don't like Black Panther's silly face mask thing, I think it looks ridiculous, but her facemarkings underneath are cool.
    Black Widow is definitely the prettiest though. She looks like a disney character from some sort of noir thing, which is an awesome combo in my mind. Noir disney lol.

    Do you think their hands might come off? Narrow sleeves usually suggest to me that hands should come off.

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  9. Great review! I personally adore the Black Widow and Iron Man dolls, but am kinda meh about the rest. Toys R Us exclusives never make it here into Europe anyway. It's a pity that the Panther doll has so many defects!:( And does your statement about the Equestria Girls mean you bought some? If so, do you recommend them? Have a nice day

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  10. I saw these dolls online and these two were my favourite as well. I really liked Black Panther's outfit and hair in other reviews but I was surprised nobody mentioned the painted limbs! This is truly appalling. The design is great, the execution is terrible. Also, that is not how one laces a corset. It should look like a row of "X"s and ideally tie in the middle with loops (not to boast, but it can be done in doll scale: https://bit.ly/2qNKNFT). With the wrong lacing pattern it will stretch and distort in time.
    I don't think I want this doll any more, since there are no body alternatives for it that could also wear the clothes and shoes. I mean, she'll probably look fairly good on display but the price tag is ridiculous for a doll with such a defect. Black Widow is a much better buy. Thank you for the review on both of them, it was useful as well as entertaining.

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    1. The wrong lacing pattern won't make a corset stretch and distort in time. It won't actually have any effect on the corset, other than the X-pattern makes it easier to tighten. What's important in lacing is that it ties at the waist since that's the area of most stress. A real human corset should have a waist tape as well, to help take on the strain. Even the best-made corsets, if made in natural fibers as they should be, WILL have some stretching over time. It's just part of being a garment made under natural fibers and worn under stress.

      I'm a corsetiére, my corsets start at $600, and I'm never out of clients. Corsetry is very serious business.

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  11. Those flaming Black Widow's hair is amazing! *_* I even kind of want this doll now.
    Black Panther's ears are cute! The flaking paint on her limbs is disappointing though. I wonder why there's even paint instead of usual brown vinyl.

    Also excuse me, but I saw a typo... "Black Widow has a few extra outfit elements" - did you mean "Black Panther"? :)

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  12. Black Panter was a SDCC exclusive, that is the reason for her higher price.

    The quality issues are very serious for their price, yikes. Thanks for your deep reviews.

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  13. Mannnn that Black Widow doll is gorgeous! I love the idea of the Fan Girls line and would love to have one someday - just not the Black Panther, that flaky skin is disgusting XD

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  14. Yeah, I do with that they had just made dolls of the heroes...or maybe have them wearing superhero merch or something, more like a fan girl
    -Genya

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  15. Oh, Spider-Gwen is hero on her own. Where Gwen Stacy was bitten and Peter died. (Sorry, huge nerd here!)

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  16. Your so lucky to have been able to get a couple of these dolls! I really wanted to get black widow but my TRU didn't have her and I didn't even think about looking online *facepalm*

    Lovely review though! Loved seeing a up close personal look at these dolls. Both dolls are so pretty!

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  17. The dolls are "cosplaying" for what it's worth. Hence they're not the heroes or straight up wearing hero costumes or just graphic tee's.

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  18. I keep telling myself "I don't need her I don't need her" but your review has me wanting the Black Widow doll, it probably doesn't help that I love Natasha in the comics and that only fuels my want for the doll lol.
    It should probably be mentioned that Spider Gwen is a thing that happens in the comics.
    - L

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  19. Emily, I think you will love this but Barbie has made a made to move doll with a curvy body as well as a curvy body done as a mermaid. The mermaid was sold before I get her but the made to move doll is on my desk right now.

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  20. I don't think I've ever seen a doll with a painted skin tone. Not a doll in this size and price category, anyway. I have no idea why Madame Alexander chose to paint the skin rather than just molding the arms in brown vinyl. It was (clearly) a terrible choice.

    yeah, myfroggystuff noted this too. I was all about talking myself into BP but the painted skin made me so mad that I just couldn't. Her head is gorgeous tho, and deserves a body that actually matches and at least with some time you could twist the rest of the hair? Still, very disappointing on the whole.

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  21. Good review! I agree with you on the variant coloring. (Maybe if the rest of the accents were gold too?) I do have to say though, I'm kinda glad I didn't fork over the money for this. The half-hair and shedding skin are disappointing.

    BTW, did you hear that Toys R Us is still around in Canada? I know it may not be helpful to you, but still.

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  22. Did you try the outfits on the moxie teenz? Because the clothes are pretty beautiful, amd if they don't transfer I'll have to make my own, which I'm thinking of doing anyway.

    I love my moxie teenz dolls, and they are actually similar to the 18 inch mh dolls in measurement. Their thighs are the exact same height.

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  23. Emily, Disney Store released an Black Widow action figure an few years ago. She was $34.99 and an nice addition to my action figure and doll collection. She's my favorite action figure. Also, Just Play just released an Deluxe Articulated Spirit as an Target Exclusive. He is only $27.99 and moves fairly good.

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  24. I actually like the collar weighed down by the hair better, to be honest!

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