Saturday, October 6, 2012


As you might have heard or noticed in the stores, Disney recently released Cinderella from the Blu-Ray DVD.  I already own the movie, but this is still a pretty exciting time for me.  It's not so much the Blu-Ray version of the movie that I find exciting, but the fact that many stores have new Cinderella displays with all kinds of dolls and outfits and sparkly blue decorations.  These gaudy displays brighten my day and put a child-like smile on my face every time I see them.  I absolutely love Cinderella.

Why do I love Cinderella so much?  Well, first of all, to be clear, it's the general story that I love, not just the 1950s Disney movie version of the story.  I like the Disney movie a lot, but it's the plot that has always captivated me--in all of its incarnations.  I guess I just enjoy the rags-to-riches fantasy, mixed with fairy tale love.  I also cling to the notion that kindness, generosity and hard work will prevail over selfishness, greed and vanity.  Ever since I was a child, my imaginary stories have all revolved around some version of this tale...usually with lots of horses added into the mix.  I have two favorite versions of the story.  One is the 1998 movie Ever After, starring Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott.  I love Barrymore's spunky interpretation of Cinderella and Scott's petulant prince.   My other favorite Cinderella story is Julia Quinn's intelligently written romance novel, An Offer From a Gentleman.  It's a bit of a guilty pleasure, but I find the book completely charming. It is a relaxing, Austin-esque escape from reality.

Anyway, I have many Cinderella dolls in my collection, and I thought that I'd quickly share some of these beauties with you to celebrate the DVD release and also to mark the arrival of Disney's limited edition 18" Cinderella doll:

Disney Store 18" Limited Edition Cinderella.
I was very happy with my 18" Merida and my 18" Rapunzel, so I bought this doll without hesitation the very first time I saw her on the Disney Store site.  She was $100 and I had a coupon for free shipping.  She is sold out now, but you can still find her for the normal retail price on eBay--if you sift through all of the inflated $200-$400 auctions.

As a quick aside, the Disney store has a whole new line of new 11.5" villain Designer Collection dolls ($80 each) and a gorgeous (but expensive!) 18" Merida and Elinor gift set from the movie Brave.  I am still undecided about whether to buy any of these, although I love the Brave set and know the clock is ticking....

Many of the limited edition dolls have these ridiculously long eyelashes.  I wish they didn't--I don't find the lashes attractive or accurate.  

Cinderella's outfit has the general shape and color of the classic blue gown, but it is decorated with hundreds of tiny rhinestone accents that are densely clustered on the bodice and then rain down over the skirt getting more sparse towards the hem:

She wears the traditional blue headband, which is also sprinkled with rhinestones.  While I like the rhinestones on the dress, for some reason the gems look too much like polka dots on the headband. Instead of a plain black choker, this doll is wearing an intricately beaded necklace with loops of black beads that hang down and cover most of her neck:

A far cry from the simple hairstyle of the movie character, this doll's yellow locks are styled into a mass of tight curls that are perched on top of her head.  She wears a spidery beaded ornament on one side of her hair.  She has a tendril of hair that falls down over her right ear, and I find this to be a little bit messy-looking, especially in combination with her curled bangs.  I love her side-glancing blue eyes but am not crazy about that frosted pastel pink lip color.

This doll strays from the typical Cinderella look, which would be fine with me except for the fact that she has so many glammed-up features, the innocence of the character gets a bit lost.  I think the Disney designers were trying too hard to make her special, and unintentionally made her slightly disco.  Overall, though, I like having a new, sparkly version of a beloved character.  With a few small alterations (removing her hair ornaments and necklace...maybe trimming her eyelashes??) she will be great.

Another relatively new addition to the Cinderella doll market is Threadarella, the Scary Tales Frankie Stein:

With typical Monster High attitude, this doll doesn't even try to look like Disney's Cinderella.  Her gown is a jumble of asymmetric shapes and textures that look as though they might have been sewn together by mice.

The dress has elements of a ball gown--the princess waist, the puffed sleeve and the blue peplums, but the waistline is purposefully off center, there is only one puffed sleeve, and the skirt is an eclectic mix of plaid satiny material, blue and silver buntings and a black mesh underskirt.  The dress is fantastic.

The shoes are amazing--they have scissors for heels and the laces are meant to be red thread, with the needle still attached.  The doll can even stand on her own in these creations.

Frankie's face is a very typical face--no extra glitter, sparkle or ornamentation of any kind.  I guess I wish she had a face that was special in some way.  She wears a silver, red and blue plastic crown-shaped headband.  This thing made a huge mess on the front of the box--a lot of the red paint rubbed off on the plastic window.

Frankie's hair is a mess.  It's styled into a ponytail, with big ringlet curls in the back. The curls puff up and frizz out all over the place and I found it impossible to get the hair to fall neatly around her face.  I also think this particular salt and peper blend of hair color is unremarkable and does nothing to compliment the outfit.  I wish she had Cinderella's yellow hair mixed with black streaks, or maybe white hair with blue streaks instead?  Anyway, her dress is quirky and fun and her shoes are clever and cute--she is definitely worth $22.

Let me show you a very special doll.  A dear blog member who lives in the Netherlands sent me the Cinderella doll on the left in the picture below.  I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of this gift, and also fascinated by the appearance of the doll.  She is a Disney Cinderella, made by Simba Toys, and she looks nothing like any of the Cinderella dolls I've seen in this country.  For comparison's sake, I purchased a doll that I feel is the most similar thing available in Maine--Mattel's Disney Cinderella.

Simba Toys Disney Cinderella (Netherlands) and Mattel's Disney Cinderella (USA).
The Mattel Cinderella (Target, $10) doesn't do much for me.  She has a cute blue gown, but it is very stiff and has no drape or movement.  Even though she has a rubber band attached to her gown, presumably so that she can lift the skirt out to twirl and dance, there's isn't enough fullness in her skirt for this to work.  It looks silly.   The dress has a lot of ornamentation, including a sparkling printed pattern on the bodice and tiered frills running down the front of the skirt.

Her face is fine, I guess, but I don't really like the open-mouthed half-smile.  She doesn't look sweet and innocent to me.  I can appreciate many versions of Cinderella, but this one just doesn't look like a Cinderella to me. She looks a lot like Barbie. 

She's wearing a necklace and a huge tiara, both significantly more ornate than the classic Cinderella look.  She has only 5 points of articulation (neck, shoulder, hips), so she can't sit down very nicely.

In contrast, the Simba Toys Cinderella looks lovely to me.  I like the simplicity of her dress.  The blue color is elegant and the skirt is nice and full.  The black elastic choker looks great and the plain blue headband is perfect.  This girl has 7 points of articulation, including internal knee joints that allow her to sit.

Her hair is simply done--its just a ponytail that is twisted onto the top of her head.  Presumably this is so that it can be easily taken down and played with.  This is a nice feature and one that I haven't seen before.  The hair looks a bit messy, but that might be a good trade-off for having a style that can be brushed and enjoyed.   I don't think you'd be able to take the hair down on the Mattel doll.  I should try that sometime--it'd be an interesting comparison between the two dolls.

That's a style I could recreate if I had to.
I just love this doll's face.  She has a sweet, beautiful face that looks very kind and friendly...just like the wonderful young lady who sent this doll to me.  :)

When I look at these two dolls together, I see one Cinderella, and one Cinderella impersonator:

This next doll isn't photographing very well, but I still want to show you my Disney Store bride Cinderella.  She still pops up for sale on the Disney Store site every now and then, but at the moment you can only purchase this doll as part of a badly reviewed set.  She has the older, rubbery click jointed knees.  I love her gown, and of course I love the articulation in the Disney Store dolls.

Here are the three 12" Cinderellas together:

They wanted to show off their glass slippers, but got a little carried away.  Although you can't tell from the picture, the Simba doll and the Disney Store doll both have clear plastic "glass" shoes, but the Mattel doll has opaque pearlized white shoes (that always fall off).

Frankie was quick to inform me that she is a 12" Cinderella, too, although she definitely isn't wearing glass slippers!

Unlikely BFFs.
As much as I love all of my Cinderella dolls, there is simply no rival to the gorgeous Cinderella dolls made by the Tonner Doll Company.  Whether they are 14" 16" or 22" tall, these amazing treasures are the pride of my collection.  I am planning a full re-shoot of all of my Tonner Cinderella dolls, but in the meantime, let me show you the two most classic versions.  First, the 22" American Model Cinderella:

Her dress is very simple, but its sheer size and quality make it magnificent.  Most of the dress is pale blue tulle layered over satin.  The sleeves and peplums are a gauzy, sheer white fabric.  The full skirt cascades down over an impressive petticoat.

This doll does not have the American Model face.  Her head mold was inspired by Tonner's 16" Cinderella face and the resemblance is clear.  If I could change anything about this doll, I would shift the angle of her eyes down a little bit so that she's looking more straight ahead.  Her upward glance can be striking in some poses, but face-on, it is wonky--almost like her eyes are rolling up into her head a bit.

See how close to her upper eyelids her pupils are?  That's my only criticism of her face paint, though.  She's a beautifully painted doll.  Her hair is in a fairly simple up-do that is a perfect style for Cinderella.  There are a few stray short hairs on the top of her bun and the bangs are lopsided, but the overall effect is good--especially without the headband:

She was not a cheap doll ($200 on the secondary market) and so I wish she had neater hair and different eyes, and of course it'd be incredible if she had bending wrists, but despite those complaints, this statuesque princess is one of a handfull of dolls in my collection that I never even think of selling.  

Last, here is one of my very favorite dolls of all time, Tonner's 16" Dreams Come True Cinderella, in her gorgeous, beaded blue gown.

To me, this doll is perfect.  I think Tonner got her exactly right.  She epitomizes Cinderella to me far more than any of the Disney dolls.  I get emotional and overly dramatic every time I think or write about her.

She is regal, but sweet.  She is elegant, but not overdone.  She is clearly Cinderella, but she's not at all cliched.   At 16" tall, she is impressively large, but not unmanageable.  Her hair is the perfect color--not too yellow, not too white.  The hairstyle is impressive, flawlessly executed and accented with a tiny, delicate rhinestone tiara.

Her dress is hand beaded--no two of these dresses look exactly the same.  I had to buy another dress on eBay just to see this for myself.  The fabric swishes and drapes effortlessly around her, but the beading gives the dress a pleasing weight and substance.  I look at this doll in her beautiful gown and I can picture her dancing with the prince and then pausing, startled, as the clock strikes midnight.... 

...and then hurriedly gathering her skirt to run away from the castle before her secret is revealed.

While I have always loved Cinderella, the real obsession began with the production of this doll.  I suppose every collector has a favorite doll that speaks to them in ways that other dolls simply cannot--a creative inspiration or muse of sorts.  Thank you, Robert Tonner, for giving me my muse:



  1. can't take my eyes off the Tonner's Cinderella!amazing!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Oh, I love this post so much Emily. The way you talk about these dolls, with so much passion.
    You thank Robert Tonner for your muse? I thank you for this wonderful post.
    I'm glad you liked the doll so much, I hope you enjoy her as much as I enjoy the dolls you've sent me ♥

  3. Don't know if there is an english-dubbed version of this film, but if there is, you should try to get your hands on 'tri orisky pro popelku' or "Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel" (probably 'three hazelnuts for cinderella')It is a czech-german co-production from the late seventies, I think, and one of - if not THE - most beloved christmas movies in Germany. Although in that movie, Cinderella is shown more emancipated, adventurous - even a little more cheeky than usual. She outshines her prince even when hunting... Still, your dolls are beautiful, though, the Mattel playline doll doesn't do much for me, either. I can very well understand your 'obsession' with the Tonner dolls. They seem serene...

  4. Wow, I agree...Tonner's Cinderella is amazing! :) I don't know that Tonner dolls will ever be in my budget, but I sure love looking at them. ;)

    Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite, but I do have a soft spot for Cinderella tales as well. ;) "Ever After" is one of my favorite versions of Cinderella too! It came out when I was in high school, and there were several of my friends and I who watched it enough that we were able to quote it regularly. :)

    Thanks for a fun post!

  5. The first Cinderella kind of reminds me of the Disney Princess Designer dolls that came out a while ago. She looks nice, but I agree with you that they tried to "glam" her up and it turns out being too much.
    That last one is very beautiful and delicate looking! What a nice collection you have :)
    By the way, have you seen Marina Bychkova's Cinderella? I think her dolls are the most beautiful I've seen... but also the most expensive!

  6. They're all lovely, but yes, those Tonner girls are *breathtaking*! I particularly love how the dress of the first Tonner Cindy is exactly the right colour as used in the Disney movie - not a solid blue like the play-line dolls, but rather white with a single drop of blue in it. I'm really envious, Emily! Can't wait for your next post already! :3

  7. wow I love the Tonner dolls... new to them and they are so beautiful

  8. I love Cinderella. My favourite movie is also the Ever After version, and my favourite musical The Slipper and the Rose.

  9. Oh my goodness, the last Cinderella looks like she stepped out of the old Fairy tale books! She's breathtaking:)

    I have to admit I squeed a bit when you mentioned Ever After and An Offer from a Gentleman; they are two of my favorites as well:)

  10. The Tonner Cinderella is divine! I would love to see an Ellowyne version of Cinderella done by Tonner - I bet that would be a neat take on a classic.

  11. Hello from Spain: Cinderella is also one of my favorite princesses. I love watching the blue suit. I have the Cinderella of Simba but I like the Disney. I love your photos with the glass slippers. Tonner Cinderella is gorgeous. I think the most expensive dolls are always the best and most elegant. Keep in touch

  12. This is an amazing review! I love the whole wedding theme. Did you see the wedding dress here: definitely makes me think of my dream wedding!


  13. You sure have an awesome collection of Cinderellas!
    The photo with the glass shoes made laugh out loud, I'm sure that Moulin Rouge had been pride of them!

    And gosh, I hope that Monster High never run out of their rebellious ideas!
    Their fairytale collection with Frankie, Draculaura and Clawdeen is genial, can't wait for their next step!

  14. Love the Tonner dolls, they always have a beautiful take on the fairy tale princesses. Your collection is amazing.

  15. I love the Dreams Come True Tonner doll as well. Gorgeous! I found a Cinderella artist doll on eBay right now that looks a lot like her.

  16. Hello Emily!
    I love reading other people's doll reviews. It's fun hearing opinions!
    I personally disagree about the eyelashes (I think they're absolutely BEAUTIFUL, and it's making me wish ALL my dolls had rooted eyelashes), however you make a lot of good points!
    The Tonner doll is absolutely stunning!

  17. Amazing....... Would you mind making a comparison and taking down the two doll's hair? Thank you.

  18. My goodness, those dolls are gorgeous! My favorite has got to be the bride version, simply because the sky-blue ball gown is everywhere. I would love to see a Disney Cinderella doll in that pink dress which her critter friends made for her.

    Even though I love gothic dolls and figures, I really dislike the MH fashion dolls. I can't stand that club wear fashion that almost all those cartoonishly stylized dolls wear. I did, however, read your review of the...Once Upon A Zombie (I think?) doll, Rapunzel earlier today, and I liked the look of them a lot. That review was from a few years ago, though, so I have no idea if I could still find any. But I liked that Cinderella, too.

    One thing about the Disney Cinderella dolls that bugs me a little, though, is when she doesn't come with her white gloves. I understand that cloth gloves on dolls are usually off-putting, but Classic Disney Cinderella looks so incomplete without them, I think. I got one of those original classic dolls whose gowns were COVERED in glitter (blegh, sparkles are pretty n' all, but I hate glitter because it gets everywhere!). They were on the older bodies, too. But she came with her white gloves and they managed to execute the blobby seams on the fingers fairly well, to the extent that they don't distract from her overall beauty. It wasn't until they put the dolls on the flexible new bodies (with much more shoddy dresses) that I noticed the lack of gloves on Cinderella, Belle, and Tiana. I guess it's just a pet peeve of mine, though.

  19. Recently I heard that Groove announced a Pullip Cinderella, in a classical Disney princess image. I immediately thought of you and wondered what would you think of it. The doll is to be released yet though.

  20. Do those Tonner dolls have glass slippers, perchance?

  21. Where's Cinderella's daughter? Ashlynn Ella? I think your Cinderella's are all beautiful! I share a Cindrella doll with my sibling and she even came with Gus Gus and Jack on thimbles. Cindrella has always been my favorite Disney Princess!