Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nu Mood "Jess" by Tonner Doll: Cinderella Reincarnated

Robert Tonner's Basic Cinderella is probably my favorite doll of all time.  I have a huge emotional attachment to this doll and have collected almost every single Tonner doll that shares her face, including all of the newer "Cami" dolls that have a slightly re-sized version of the Cinderella face sculpt.  You might remember from my earlier post that I haven't been too happy with the more recent changes in these dolls. The introduction of "Wigged Cami Too" marked the first time since the debut of the Cinderella face that I decided not to spend my money.  I still have no interest in buying that doll.

Right before IDEX, Tonner premiered his "Nu Mood" line of basic dolls.  These dolls each have one of three body types (Curvy, Dance or Fashion) and they share interchangeable hands and feet and a mix-and-match wardrobe.  This is a cool idea, especially since one of the options for the switchable feet is ballet feet.  I really liked the New York City Ballet line of Tonner dolls, and seeing the re-introduction of the en pointe feet was good news for me.

Better news for me was that one of the Nu Mood characters has the Cinderella face.  Her name is Jess, and she comes with the Dance body.  Perfect.  These dolls retail for $59.99, but mine was less expensive because of a pre-order special.  I haven't paid this little or been this excited about a new Cinderella-faced doll for a while.  The thing that had me the most excited is that in the promo pictures, Jess looks like Cinderella, not Cami.  Don't get me wrong, I love Cami--I adore her, but seeing a new Cinderella after all of these years was like seeing a beloved old friend.  She arrived on Thursday and I have been patiently waiting for the weekend to get her out:

Tonner's Nu Mood Jess
Let me back up just a bit and show you her packaging.  This was a nice surprise.  Often, the Tonner basic dolls come in plastic boxes with the dolls wired-tied in place.  The plastic boxes are a pain and the wire ties often leave shiny marks on the neck.  Jess came in the more traditional white shipper and cardboard box:

She doesn't come with a stand. 
I love this packaging.  You untie two white satin ribbons and the doll is out.  Done.  Simple.  Recycle everything.  She comes in a straight-forward white leotard with a ruffled tulle neckline:

First things first, I had to examine her face.  I love her face!

Actually, I didn't get a perfect face.  Mine has some screening issues around the eyes and nose.  This is a bummer, but it is just one of those bad luck things with Tonner dolls.  Mistakes don't happen often, but they do happen:

The hairline around her ears is a little strange.
Do you see the red smudging near the corner of her eye?

I could send her to Tonner for a replacement, and I'm sure they'd be super-awesome about it, but the smudging isn't that bad and I think I can ignore it...or maybe go after it very carefully with a Mr. Clean magic eraser.

I compared Jess to several of my other Cami and Cinderella dolls.  My Cherished Friends exclusive Cinderella Brunette also has brown eyes, so I did a comparison shot with her:

Jess' face looks slightly slimmer than Cinderella's
And of course I had to compare her to the original Basic Blonde Cinderella:

So lovely.
And to Basic Blonde Cami:

I love this Cami, but I might prefer Jess' facial screening.
I think she makes the most recent Platinum Cami (with inset eyes) look absolutely ridiculous:

Jess looks so serene and beautiful!
I am SO happy with her face.  It is painted with the sweet innocence of the Cinderella line, but it has a slightly slimmer shape which gives her a more modern and less Disney-like appearance.  

Her body is harder to love right off the bat.  She has a normal small-chested Tonner fashion body, but with detachable ballet feet.  The first thing I noticed is that she can't sit very well:

Her knees are pushed very far apart and her ankles have to be crossed.

Look at her sitting next to Basic Blonde Cinderella.  They essentially have the same body, except for Jess' ballet feet and smaller chest.  Why can't Jess sit as nicely as Cinderella?

I added Antoinette into this picture.  She sits beautifully!  Notice the different skin tones, too.  Cinderella is slightly tan, Antoinette is very pale and has a grey-ish tinge, and Jess is a little bit yellow.

Jess can strike some interesting poses, but her body is nowhere near as flexible as the Antoinette body, and she doesn't have the out-turned knees of the NYC Ballet body, so it's a bit of a struggle to get her to look convincing as a ballerina:

Her arms have the same flexibility as the Tonner fashion bodies.  She has a torso joint, but it is very stiff and can't move much in either direction:

This is as far as her torso bends to her left.
Her waist swivels 90 degrees in both directions.  This is nice, but can look a bit odd...

Here's a full-length line-up comparing Cinderella, Jess and Cami:

I wonder why Tonner didn't use the Antoinette body for Jess?
Jess' feet rotate at their attachment point, which is great...

...except not all of the rotations are realistic:

Here is one of the NYC Ballet dolls, Sugar Plum Fairy:

She has the "Emilie" head sculpt and a special ballet body
Let's have a dance-off between Sugar Plum and Jess:

Emilie has much better side-to-side leg movement

Emilie can kick higher.
Hmm.  I am not sure who wins.  Probably a hair.  Emilie definitely has more flexible legs and can strike some of the more realistic ballet poses.  Her side-bending knees add to the realism of many of her poses, but those joints also make some poses awkward.  For example, she can't rotate her feet in or out at all, and so when she kicks her leg up, the ankle joint can look a bit unnatural.  Jess actually keeps up with Emilie better than I thought she would.  

Here are the two body types side-by-side.  Emilie is taller, and the height must come from the upper leg or the neck.  I can't see any other differences:

Jess' calf-ankle alignment is wrong when she strikes this pose.
For the record, Emilie has an even harder time sitting than Jess:

The NYC Ballet clothes fit Jess perfectly:

Although Jess can't sit in a conventional way, or share the couch with anyone very gracefully, she can get comfortable if given some space and some time:



Bottom line?  For $50, this is the best Cinderella-faced doll I have bought in a while.  I am sure Robert Tonner isn't listening to me, specifically, but I feel certain he listens to collectors in general because most of my complaints about the recent Cami dolls (too expensive, badly set eyes, sloppy painting, ugly plastic boxes) were addressed by this doll.  Although she has facial paint flaws, they are minor and potentially fixable.  Her body, while a bit awkward in the classical sitting position, can do a fair imitation of the beautiful dance posing offered by the NYC Ballet dolls.  I am not sure how feasible it would have been to put the ballet feet on an Antoinette body, but I think that would have been a superior choice.

Best of all, Jess has the sweet, soft, serene Cinderella face that I fell in love with six years ago.  I am so happy to see this face again and will give this doll an honored position in my treasured Cinderella display.

Age Level
10 and up
Very good value, especially for $54.
Good quality.  Paint flaws are a small risk, but otherwise the facial screening is great and the hair and vinyl are on par with more expensive Tonner dolls.
Excellent.  All cardboard, doll held in with two ribbons.
Yes.  Limited to 500.
The ballet feet limit the play options with this doll.  However, interchangeable hands and feet can be purchased separately, and these would add significantly to the versatility, while also offering a new twist on a conventional Tonner doll.  
Recommended.  This is a well-made doll with fun new features, offered at a reasonable price.



Skin color comparison for Alison:
Jess on top, Emilie on bottom

By request: comparison pics with bloom skin tone Antoinette ("Sweeping")

Natural light--Jess on the left
Indoor light--Jess on the right
Neck comparison 
Sweeping 'cause she's lovely. :)


  1. Wow. This is an excellent review. Very good to see Jess next to a NYCB Emilie--I wouldn't have guessed there was a difference to the bodies, actually, without seeing them in person. How are the colors between Emilie and Jess? Would you deem close enough for a torso style body swap?

    I suppose I'll have to start looking for some NYCB outfits! Thanks for sharing your photos!

  2. Thank you, Alison! The dolls are definitely a different color. Jess has a yellower tan than Emilie. So, you are thinking of putting one head and torso onto the other doll's hips and legs? With an outfit in between to distract the eye, I think that might work. I'll take an up-close picture of the two dolls' arms for you to give you a better idea of the difference. I'll stick the picture right up above at the bottom of the review. Hope that helps! :)

  3. Very helpful review. Just wondering if it's possible to swap torso's with the Antoinette mannequin bloom doll.

    1. Well, I am no help with swapping torsos because I have never tried that...but I can compare the bloom skin tone to Jess' skin tone if you want. I have Antoinette Sweeping, and I think she has the bloom skin tone. I'll put some pictures up for you in a bit...right under Alison's.

    2. Thank you so much for your help. The other query please, is whether the neck sizes are the same.

    3. The neck sizes are not the same between Jess and Antoinette. The skin tones look like a pretty good match, though. I finally found Sweeping and am posting pics now...

    4. The photo's are a great help, see what you mean about neck sizes thank you. It’s very useful having someone to advise and show all the differences between these dolls.

  4. Your blog is so wonderful and helpful. Do you know if any of the Tonner ballet dolls were made with the same knee as Nu Mood Jess? For example, Wood Nymph? I noticed today that is what mine has, and I'm sad. I think I might have bought a Frankendolly on eBay from a seller who did not describe it :(