Sunday, October 14, 2012

Evangeline Ghastly "Dark Angel" by Wilde Imagination

Evangeline Ghastly is an 18.5" ball jointed fashion doll designed by Joe Petrollese and sculpted by Robert Tonner.  Evangeline is marketed through Tonner's company, Wilde Imagination, which is also home to the popular 16" vinyl doll, Ellowyne Wilde.  Evangeline Ghastly made her first appearance in 2007 as a resin doll.  Back in 2007, my doll collecting tastes were much narrower than they are today.  At that time, dazzled by Tonner's beautiful new Cinderella sculpt, I had little interest for the bizarre, dark-themed, and relatively expensive Evangeline.  When I saw her bug-eyed, lanky-limbed promotional pictures, I pretty much laughed and shook my head, grateful that I wasn't going to be tempted into collecting a new line.

Evangeline's exaggerated features fit well with her over-the top back story.  She is a mortician's assistant, lives in an attic, dresses with a flamboyant Victorian style and has a humanoid pet skunk.  The Wilde Imagination website says that Evangeline was inspired by Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, among other quirky icons.  This is a fun fact for me because seeing the Tim Burton line of Tonner dolls in person (during my trip to the FAO Schwarz store in Manhattan in June) was a big contributor to my new-found appreciation for the darker, stranger dolls in Tonner's diverse lineup.  If it weren't for this new perspective, I don't think I ever would have given Evangeline any serious consideration.  Two other things contributed to my willingness to acquire an Evangeline doll.  First, in 2009, Wilde Imagination added a vinyl version of this doll to their regular collection.  This dropped the price considerably, and also eliminated the concerns about yellowing and breakage that come with most resin dolls.  Also, I recently found a collector who was willing to take a doll I didn't want anymore in exchange for this intriguing Tonner Con vinyl exclusive Evangeline, "Dark Angel:"

Evangeline Ghastly "Dark Angel" by Wilde Imagination,
LE 200.
My Evangeline's box and shipper came very badly damaged, but fortunately, the doll herself was in perfect condition.  The box is just like the Tonner Doll boxes--a cardboard shipper with a decorated cardboard box inside.  Dark Angel's box is mostly black with the Evangeline Ghastly logo--a full yellow moon with "Evangeline Ghastly, she's a whole other story" written over it.

The doll is tied into the box with two white satin ribbons.  Her accessories are packaged in plastic bags and stapled to the edges of the box.  She came with a large hairnet over her face and hair:

I was surprised and disappointed to find that this doll does not come with a stand.  I really like Tonner stands, especially the newer saddle stands, and I am always glad to add another one to my collection.  Tonner 16" stands do not work with Evangeline because of her height, so I'll have to go on a quest for the perfect stand.  A bit of a pain.  Ok, updated to add that the search for a perfect stand was quick--you can get one from Wilde Imagination, but it's $15.  Yikes! 

She comes with a necklace, a pair of wings and some fingerless gloves.

Every girl needs a pair of wings.
Here's the doll without any of her accessories attached:

Her hair is fixed into a long, low ponytail tied with a big ragged-edged satin ribbon.  This style came out of the box looking pretty bad, but was easily straightened out:

This doll's face grabbed my attention the second I opened the box.  The combination of bright red lips, pitch black hair and huge, heavily-lined eyes is arresting:

Her inset eyes are made of plastic, but have a very realistic mix of greens and browns.  Unlike the resin Evangeline dolls, which have interchangeable eyes, this doll's eyes are not meant to be removed.  Her eyes are very evenly set--no signs of wonkiness here at all.  This is a stark contrast to the poorly-set eyes of some of the newer Tonner Cami dolls.  Dark Angel's eyes are positioned in a slightly upward-glancing stare.  This adds character to her expression, but it's harder to get her to look at the camera:

She has dramatically long applied eyelashes and dark painted eyebrows with a severe slant.  Her eyes are lined with thick black paint, making them look even bigger than they are:

This face is hard to characterize.  The eyes are dark and hard and almost angry from some angles:

The mouth area is sweet and lovely, and the large upturned eyes without the dark eyebrows look wide and innocent:

Looking at her from above, she appears angular and strict, with a tinge of crazy mixed in:

Her profile reveals this cute little ski jump nose and a slight overbite.  Her features suddenly look almost childlike:

You can even catch her looking startled:

Tonner and Petrollese packed a ton of conflicting personas into this doll's face.  I am now quite curious to see more of the Evangeline dolls in person because I suspect that different makeup styles make a huge difference in bringing out different elements of this doll's look.

Evangeline came with these two black lace fingerless gloves:

The gloves are pretty, and fully lined, but unless I am missing something, there's absolutely no way they'll fit over this doll's hands.  I tried, and the seam started ripping.  It's not like Tonner to include an accessory that doesn't fit, so I'd love to say that I'm just lazy or clueless, but in this case I really think getting the gloves on is impossible:

Cut off that thumb and they'd go on with no trouble.
The choker neck ornament is a black velvet band edged with tulle ruffles and accented with a rhinestone circle:

This necklace goes on beautifully and snaps securely at the back.

I have to say, I expected this doll to be caricatured and a bit strange (and she is) but I never expected that she'd be beautiful.  With her Snow White coloring and her long lace gown, she's quite beautiful:

Dark Angel comes with a large pair of black cloth wings.  The insides of the wings are decorated with layers of ruffles, alternating between a black satin fabric and a gauzy black organza.  The edges of the wings are trimmed in delicate black lace.  The layered effect gives the piece a decidedly feathery appearance that I love. 

At the bottom of each wing, there are strips of fabric that flutter around and flow down to pool at the doll's feet.   

The back part of the wings, the part that would be visible from behind the doll, is not as interesting. This side is decorated with black lace and a huge black satin bow.  The bow looks out of place to me.  Nothing about this is reminiscent of feathers--it looks more like a big tacky black box of Valentine's Day candy.

The wings attach to the straps of the dress with two tiny eyelet hooks.  It is very fiddly to get the wings to stay on.  I can attach one side easily, but then when I bend the wings to attach the other side, the first side falls off...and so on.  Furthermore, the heavy wings hook to the thin lacy straps of the dress, so the connection is floppy and insecure.  Metal snaps attached to the back of the dress might have worked better, although this would have been more of a blemish on the beautiful white dress.

Once the wings are attached, and before they fall off again, Evangeline is extremely photogenic:

The wings are a fun accessory, but by far the best element of this doll's wardrobe is her long, elegant lace gown.  It is exquisite:

The dress has a fitted bodice with a mermaid waist that flares out into a soft cascade of tiered ruffles.  The bodice is held up by traditionally-placed straps, but there is a second strap sleeve on each side that is designed to sit off the shoulder.  The whole dress is white lace, with the exception of an oddly-placed black satin half-bow.  This sits at the far left side of the neckline and runs vertically along the line of the doll's arm.  I like the element of contrast that the bow offers--both in terms of color and also because it is aligned perpendicular to the hair bow, but I think I would have preferred this dress unadorned.

That bow would drive me crazy if I were wearing it.
The bottom of the skirt is very full and long, so the dress rests on the ground and flows behind the doll like a train.

The construction of the dress is wonderful.  All of the stitched details are nicely done and the whole bodice is lined.

Under the dress, Angel is wearing pantyhose and a pair of plain white pumps:

The shoes are nicely made, but not remarkable in any way.  Also, I found it hard to position this doll's feet flat on the ground when she was wearing her shoes.  One or the other of the high heels was always up in the air, or if the shoe was flat on the ground, the doll's foot was lifting up out of the back of the shoe.

This doll has the newest version of the vinyl Evangeline body.  At 18.5" this body is slightly taller than the older 17" body.  The new body also has 15 points of articulation, which includes ankle joints that were not offered on the original vinyl bodies.  Also, the design of the elbow, knee and torso joints has been upgraded.  

Vinyl body 2.0.
Evangeline can look up, look down a tiny bit, and swivel her head all of the way around.   She has a double-jointed torso, and both joints are smooth and natural in appearance. 

The upper torso joint sits just under the bust, and this doll's, ah, healthy proportions do an excellent job of hiding the seam.  The upper torso joint allows her to mover her shoulders forward and back, and also from side to side.   

Naked goth yoga.
The lower torso joint sits at the level of a low-rise pair of pants or underwear.  This area allows her to move her hips from side-to-side and also to bend backwards.  She can't lean forward much at this joint.    She's really skinny and tall, but the contours of her body are very naturally and carefully sculpted.  Notice how the curve of her waist adapts to this extreme position:  

The lower torso joint is slightly looser than I'd like.  It's a bit of a challenge to get her to stand straight upright--this is a more typical posture:

The shoulder joints are hinged, and rotate 360 degrees.  The elbow joints are double-hinged, with a separate peanut segment in between the upper and lower arm:

The new elbow joint allows for excellent flexibility.  Not only does the joint bend to the extent that Evangeline can easily touch her face and head, but the lower arm rotates around the peanut joint for added posing options.

The knees have a similar double-hinged peanut joint:

This style of joint is very attractive in the knee--more so than in the elbow.  I think this is because the middle piece resembles the shape of the patella, or knee cap bone:

As with the arms, there is significant rotational movement in the lower legs:

The hip joints don't have great side-to-side mobility, but I didn't notice this as a limitation in my posing sessions.  Honestly, she can do the splits about as well as I can:

That's right--I'd like to see you do better!
I don't think that this body is strung at all.  The older vinyl body was strung, but I can't pry these joints away to reveal any elastic or string.  I actually prefer this style of joint in my vinyl dolls because the  tightness of the joints holds up better over time.  

The body is very fun to pose.  It looks lovely and graceful, and can do just about anything I want it to do:

She does front splits waaay better than I do.

She can sit beautifully:

And, because of the extreme mobility of her joints, she can also sit in, shall we say, a more abstract way:

So, the body is pretty amazing, but check out these hands::

Wha--what's wrong with my hands?
I didn't even notice this right away, but she has these huge, cartoonish hands:

The hands are crudely sculpted with insanely long fingers.  I look at these fingers and I automatically think about balloon animals:

Or bananas.
They're like aye-aye hands or frog alien hands.

The hands look different from the older vinyl Evangeline hands, at least from the pictures I could find online.  They're a bit more splay-fingered.  Maybe this is why the gloves don't fit?  Perhaps they were designed for the older dolls?  

Here's a lineup with two of my 16" Tonner dolls, the Knave of Hearts Cami (Antoinette body) and Far East Stella (regular Tyler Wentworth body):

Stand up straight, Evangeline!
Evangeline's body is taller, skinnier, bustier, and much, much paler.  Here's a side-by-side hand comparison with Cami.  It's funny how the finger positions are almost identical, but the proportions are completely different:

Here's Evangeline touching her face with Cami's hand (left) and with her own hand (right).  Evangeline has freaking big, chunky hands.  'Nuff said.

Evangeline's clothes are (way) too big in the bust for the Antoinette body, and a bit too long for both Tonner body types.  Because this particular dress is designed to be a bit long, Stella can get away with wearing it.  She actually wears it very well:

This would make a wonderful wedding dress.  Here's close-up of Stella, just because she's so lovely:

I took Evangeline's ponytail down so that I could get a better sense for the quality of her hair.

The hair is thick and long and the cut is fairly even, but the hair quality is not as good as I'd expected.  It's not bad hair by any means--it's soft and easy to brush, and it looks good, but it's not silky smooth like some of my other Tonner doll's hair.  Also, within a few minutes of brushing it, it tends to get messy again...not tangled or anything, but it just doesn't want to lay flat and smooth.  

The rooting is a little thin on top, but the dark painted scalp helps conceal this with most hairstyles.

Evangeline is too tall to share clothes perfectly with my Tonner dolls, but they fit well enough that I thought I'd try her in this red sequined dress from "Eternal Love Holiday Dreams" Sydney:

The dress is too short, but it goes beautifully with Evangeline's coloring:

I got a bit tired of the black bow on Evangeline's dress.  It provides a nice balance to her black hair, but it's always in the way and it kind-of looks like a handkerchief or a napkin in some pictures:

So, I snipped it off:

I like Evangeline best this way, her hair loose and nothing to distract from her unique face and gorgeous dress:

This doll's amazing articulation, striking face and the drama of her wings and gown make her incredibly fun to pose and photograph:

Bottom line?  If I had never seen or heard of this doll, and you handed her to me with no introduction, I'd know immediately that she was made by Robert Tonner.  The quality and color of the vinyl, the simplicity of the box, the style of the face, the quality of the clothes...these things all give away her lineage.  However, I also think that this doll is genuinely unique.  She has a distinct peculiarity to her--from her large inset eyes and angular face to her exaggerated cartoon-like hands.  She is full of contradictions: she can look evil from some angles and innocent from others.  Her long body can look lanky and awkward in some positions, and sublimely graceful in others.  Her hands are huge and unrealistic, but the elbow and wrist joints allow these mitts to be surprisingly expressive.  She morphs back and forth between a gawky caricature, a gothic villain and an elegant, unexpected beauty.

Whatever the old vinyl body was like, this new body is an excellent mix of the flexibility of a resin ball jointed doll and the durability and simplicity of a vinyl doll.  I think the sculpture of the hands is crude compared to the graceful lines of the rest of the doll, but then again, the goofy hands add to the dolls originality.  The lower torso joint is a bit loose and the doll can't stand very well on her extremely high arches, but overall this body is very fun to pose, with more flexibility than any other doll I have reviewed recently.

I got this doll in a trade, but before she sold out her retail price was $260.  This is slightly more than half of what the resin Evangeline dolls cost.  It's a lot of money.  If you break it down, though, the outfit alone is probably worth about $100 on today's market.  Even if I hadn't liked Evangeline, I would have been delighted to have her dress in my collection.  The doll herself, because of her inset eyes and high level of articulation, is worth another $100.  The small edition size (200) of a convention exclusive doll contributes to her value slightly.  In the end, the price tag is a little high, but the regular line vinyl Evangeline dolls ($190-225) come close to getting it just right.  These dolls are a nice alternative for collectors who admire the look of the resin Ms. Ghastly but don't want to sink $500 into one purchase.

After all of these years of resisting, I think Evangeline joined my collection at just the right time.  I adore her sultry strangeness and welcome her mix of drama and attitude into my increasingly diverse collection.  Love or hate her unique style, Evangeline is not a doll that can be easily ignored.

Age Level
10 and up--this is a collectable doll, not a toy.
While this convention exclusive doll is slightly overpriced, the regular line vinyl Evangeline dolls are a good value.
The quality overall is very good.  The inset eyes are well-placed and detailed.  The face paint is free of defects. The doll is highly articulated and the joints are well-designed.  The dress is beautiful and well-made. The hair is the only slight disappointment with rooting on the thin side and a less than ideal texture and appearance.
Excellent.  Typical Tonner cardboard box and shipper with satin ribbon ties inside. Easy to remove doll.
Yes.  Limited edition of 200 and a Tonner Con 2012 exclusive.
Highly versatile face.  This doll can look gothic, sweet, angry, confused, innocent, even beautiful.  She can adopt a wide range of personalities.  Her high degree of articulation adds to her versatility.  There are very few poses she can’t strike.  I wish she could share clothing more readily with other Tonner dolls, but she’s taller than the 16” fashion dolls and much bustier than the Antoinette dolls.
I am thrilled to finally have an Evangeline doll in my collection.  Now I covet the resin version....


  1. I don't have Evangeline, but I have seven Ellowyne's and one trick I learned when dressing them is to remove their hands when putting on long sleeved items and then put the hands back on when the item is in place. This may the secret to those gloves. If that doesn't do the trick post your question on the Wilde Imagination Facebook page and I guarantee someone will know the answer.

    As always, I LOVE your photos and the completeness of your reviews.

    1. That might be my problem! I tried pulling the hands off, but I chickened out before I pulled too hard. I might have to go back at it with some determination! :)

    2. Wait, you can take off Ellowyne's hands? I never knew that! How easy is it? I'd probably be too chicken to try it with mine, though. :)

    3. Ellowyne's hands do come off and you do have to get a little rough with them (same goes for putting them back on), but I have been assured by the Wilde staff that it is okay, and that they are made for that.

      So, be brave, and remove hands at will. It's not too bad once you do it a few times.

    4. Ok! I will grit my teeth and pull those hands off!! Eeek! Thank you so much for the tip, Char--I should have known it wasn't impossible.

  2. I have to say your so lucky! I'm totally in love with Evangeline, I think her weird looks are what make her beautiful. I so wish that I could gain one of these dolls someday.

    1. I hope you get one, too! She really won me over with her odd charm. I had to watch "Corpse Bride" right after I got her, too, and now I think I like her even more!

  3. The new Evangelines' hands do come off, unlike the older vinyl ones. My husband and I spent various parts of 3 days this week trying to put one of my Evangelines back into her original outfit. For those hands, wrapping them in saran wrap - taped down, and lots of elbow grease seem to be the only solution.

    Great review. I think her outfit is just lovely and the wings are amazing (they are on my "someday" wish list).

    1. Yikes. Saran wrap? Tape? That's a big production! It seems like the newer vinyl doll has a lot of great changes--including the removable hands. The wings are very dramatic and make posing her a lot of fun. Not sure if they'd work with other Evangeline outfits--I guess you'd have to sew little loops for the hooks to grab? You can have my wings if you want--I adore the white dress, but don't need the wings. :)

    2. Sorry for being a "necroposter", but I've just recently found your blog. Yes, the key to putting on long fingerless gloves is removing the hands, AND squeezing the hand into the glove from the other side, where the four fingers are supposed to go. This way, the fabric slides into place very smoothly. Works only with fingerless gloves though, the regular ones just lay around unused amond my doll clothing.

  4. It's great to see her from so many angles, I don't think her promotional pictures always do her justice.

    1. It's true--I think the promos can't capture her multiple personalities very well. I'd LOVE to see a whole bunch of these dolls in person. I think I would be surprised by which ones I like and don't like!

  5. I like this review. Evangeline is not in my present collecting range. :) The profile shot and at least one other head shot remind me of Judy Garland. :)

    1. Oh, yeah! I can definitely see that! Especially the cute profile, I think.

  6. She's not a doll I would collect, but as always, love the detailed review, Emily!

  7. Oh, and I FINally figured out how to log in here so I can post comments and play with the others yippeee!

    Which doll is next, Emily? LOVE your BLOG!!!

    1. Yay! :) I'm sorry the log in was giving you trouble before.

      Thank you so much for reading--I have an idea for the next blog, and I'll give you a hint. It's not just a doll, but a doll and her accessories. It's actually TWO doll accessory sets, and there will be a comparison. I love a good comparison! ;)

    2. Enjoyed your review, just started collecting Evangeline ghastly. I absolutely love her. Am dying for a resin one though.

  8. She is amazing! I love my Evangeline! I have an old one though. I like her cartoonish hands, I think she is so magnetizing, because she doesn't look real! You must be carefull with the dark clothes, I sold one Evangline coloured by her original outfit very badly :(

    1. Thank you! She is pretty special. The cartoon hands are definitely growing on me! They give her an awkwardness that's relatable. I think we all have a feature here or there that we think is too big or something! ;) I'll watch for staining--especially with the wings and gloves (if I get them on). Staining is such a sad frustration.

  9. very pretty doll I would say!The only bit I don't like is her chunky hands....way better she looks with Cami's little hands.But nevermind!I love her anyway!

  10. Beautiful doll and I love how you showcase her versatility! The large hands rather look like a mistake, but apparently Evangeline's other incarnations also have them so they must be an intended feature, and they do give something of an endearing "gawkiness" to her.

  11. Thanks for this great review!
    I like her look, her gown is AMAZING (definitely one of the most beautiful doll dresses I've ever seen) it looked better after you cut that ribbon off. The dress didn't need that ribbon xD
    I immediatly noticed her big hands, even though they add to her unusual look, I really like the size of the normal Cami hands on her.
    Her hair looks great in a ponytail but even better loose, she looks much more gothic like that.
    Overall I really enjoy looking at this doll, she is mysterious and beautiful at the same time :)
    By the way, I laughed at that naked goth yoga comment, hahahaha xD

  12. When I first saw this doll I was like you back in 2007 "Well, I'm not into her, she looks kind of dark and bizarre" but she's slowly growing on me :)
    However, I like Ellowyne Wilde sooo much! They look so pretty, I need to get one! lol
    I also find their new tiny BJD, Amelia Thimble, very cute!

  13. Another great review! Congratulations on your Evangeline! I'm a big fan of this doll, but then I tend to like my Gothic with a touch of whimsy. Evangeline fits that bill. I happen to have all three types - the first vinyls, a resin and the current "hard plastic" body, which is how most Evangeline collectors refer to it. The first vinyls are great in that they are slightly smaller (I believe by about 2 inches) than the current hard plastic and resin dolls. That means they can fit into other Tonner dolls' clothes better - so long as they don't have slim fitted sleeves, of course. They also have smaller hands, so if the extra large hands bug anyone, the first vinyls are the better choice. However, those dolls don't pose as well as the resin or newer hard plastic bodied dolls. That was one of the big reasons behind the redesign. Also, the hard plastic bodied dolls are now the same height and have the same larger hands like the resin. So all the dolls have pluses and minuses. My favorite? Without a doubt the resin. I have just one, Forever Ghastly, and she's gorgeous. I was always able to talk myself out of getting a resin until I met this doll, face to face, and was totally smitten with her. It's true that most resin dolls will yellow over time, but I've had plenty of vinyl dolls that didn't hold up well either - yellow headed Francie, brittle bodied early FRs, etc. Still, it's a big expense, so if you can get one on sale, the way I did mine, and you really love the doll, then I think it's worth it.

  14. Hi Emily,
    I want to ask you something. Do you still have that card and trick or treat basket from that Clawdeen Wolf doll I won with the contest?
    I really wasn't bothered about the missing pieces when she came and didn't even notice it at first(I'm still really happy with the dolls) but I just saw your old review and especially thought the basket looked really cute :S
    It doesn't matter if you don't have them anymore, I'll understand it :)

    1. I found the basket! I'll send it to you right away. :)

    2. Thanks Emily, you're amazing :D

  15. Hello from Spain: she's not a doll I would buy, but as always, love the detailed review. For me this collection of dolls have a sad face or melancholy. Keep in touch

  16. I helped a collector get the gloves on her doll while at Tonner Convention earlier this year. I squeezed the thumb in, stretched the glove and pulled it on the hand/arm. I might have twisted the glove around to get around the splayed fingers. Repeat the squeezing in the the thumb and stretching the glove until the glove is on. I was afraid I'd rip the gloves, but I didn't.

    Stacy in IL

  17. I've been staring at her for a while now but I still haven't gotten myself up to buying one. I wasn't sure about the new body but it seems fairly posable. I am a little concerned about the inability to stand tho since I don't own any doll stands and she doesn't come with one. Considering the hefty price I don't see why they can't throw in a stand that retails for $15.

    My main interest as always for dolls is repainting so if a wigged resin evangeline comes out with an incredible outfit I would get her. I'm not so interested in the last one the offered since the outfit was a bit lacking.

  18. I love your reviews. I agree about the hands being large, but I noticed that some of the Ellowyne Wilde dolls hands seem out of proportion as well.

  19. So nice to find a thorough review of Evangeline! Thank you! I have been a fan of this doll for a while now, as I love the blend of high fashion, gothic mystery and the refinement of Tonner's sculpting. Despite the current taste in the doll market for monsters, I agree with you she remains unique. But I am really disappointed by the look of the newer versions. So much so that I had to write to the company to tell them so! No answer, of course. They have softened Evangeline's features, made her seem prettier and so imho taken away the very traits that gave her charm. The eyebrows are definitely less arch and sinister, the nose seems less "pug" to me and thus less skeletal... But I was happy to read that you found this new version has different "looks" from different angles. Slightly crazed is a look that would be spot on as are those large clumsy hands, which I take as a wonderfully inspired Frankensteinean accent. I was also surprised to see you mention some of the flaws I wouldn't expect to find. At this price point the doll should have better hair. Not too sure what to think about Parnilla...

  20. Thanks for the review I love her! She reminds me of Regina from Once Upon A Time.

  21. Love your pictures and your detailed review. I have her but I have not deboxed her yet.

  22. She looks like Morticia Addams of the Addams Family.

  23. I have several Evangeline dolls and Parnilla. I love the story line created by Wilde to go with the doll and her clothing is exquisite. The Wilde dolls are my favorite. Your review was one of the most complete. Look forward to reading more of your reviews. I am so glad that you enjoy this doll as much as I do.

  24. Hey Emily, if you look at Evangeline's family tree on the wildeimagination website it mentions that the big hands are a family trait.

  25. If she's based on the Corpse Bride, then this is why she has hands like that:
    I think the designer of the doll wanted her to share hands with Emily (Corpse Bride), but the result wasn't that good, since Evangeline has a more realistic appearance than Emily.
    Still, this doll is pure beauty, I wish I had her as well.