Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Flora, Fauna, and not so Merryweather," an Ellowyne Wilde Doll by Wilde Imagination

It is my privilege to introduce another accomplished guest reviewer today.  I should have put "guest review" in the title of this post, but the name of the doll is so wonderfully long, I had to cut the rest of the title short!  My guest goes by "N," and is a fellow blogger and doll artist.  N's writing over at Paper Doll World focuses on her wonderful handmade paper doll collection and the many accessories she has designed and made for those dolls.  N's paper dolls are modeled after characters from doll lines such as American Girl, Wilde Imagination, and Ever After High.  I highly recommend taking a trip over N's unique site.  The world she has built for her adorable dolls is rich food for the imagination.  N also collects some three dimensional dolls, including...lucky for me...Ellowyne Wilde.

I have had many requests to include an Ellowyne Wilde review on the blog, but for some reason I never get around to adding one of these dolls to my collection.  I had one years ago (before I started the blog) but I wasn't crazy about her inset eyes and she was a basic doll, so she didn't have one of the extravagant and creative outfits that tend to come with the dressed dolls.  I have reviewed Robert Tonner's first Disney Showcase Rapunzel, a doll that shares a body style with Ellowyne, but it's really high time that Ellowyne herself joined the crowd of reviewed dolls.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when N emailed to ask if she could review this particular doll.  Without further delay, I will turn the blog over to the multi-talented "N" and her Ellowyne Wilde doll, "Flora, Fauna and not so Merryweather."

"Flora, Fauna and not so Merryweather" by Wilde Imagination...
playing with some of the Paper Doll World dolls.
Ellowyne Wilde is the titular character of Robert Tonner’s company Wilde Imagination. First produced in 2006, Ellowyne has a backstory as dramatic as her name - she lives in San Francisco right on an earthquake line, and spends her time with Sybil (her cat of nine personalities), visiting thrift stores, or meeting with her psychologist to take care of her chronic ennui and melancholy. I first discovered her two years ago and fell in love with her beautiful face sculpt and outfits, but was quickly put off by the price tag.  The “basic” doll, who arrives wearing a basic white romper and heels, costs about $99, and the “dressed” doll, who arrives in a full outfit, costs almost $200.  So I put her on my wish list and waited for the someday when I’d be able to afford one.

Fortunately, every once in a while Wilde Imagination has sales, so if you’re patient and watchful you can get lucky. That’s what happened with “Flora, Fauna, and not so Merryweather” - she was an exclusive doll from the January convention, and with a 25% off deal and free shipping, plus a markdown, she finally arrived at my doorstep in June.

Ellowyne arrived in a long, thin, decorated box, like all other Tonner dolls do. The design is very ornate and fussy, which fits with Ellowyne’s obsession with vintage thrift finds.

The interior is covered in tissue printed with the same design decorating the box:

Ellowyne was tied down with a few white ribbons, and her accessories were stapled in plastic bags to the sides of the box. “Flora, Fauna, and not so Merryweather” came with a pair of shoes, a stand, and a certificate of authenticity. Most dolls come with a poem, but since she’s a convention exclusive she got a certificate instead. Laughing over the maudlin poems is one of my favorite parts of browsing Wilde Imagination’s website, so I was just a little disappointed that mine didn’t come with one.

The contents of the box: 

The stand is a basic saddle stand, which is great for supporting the doll without crushing the outfit like a waist-grip stand would. 

The shoes are simple brown lace-up heeled boots. I keep the laces double-knotted because they find a way to come undone somehow. They look like something you might find on a style blog - fashionable and trendy, but would never end up in my closet. (Now that I think about it, that applies to most of Ellowyne’s clothing...).

Here's Ellowyne herself straight out of the box: 

Ellowyne Wilde

Her hair looked awful coming out of the box: 

But after five minutes or so of brushing and spraying with water: 

Much better.
This is my first purchase from Wilde Imagination, so I’m curious - do all of their dolls arrive with messy hair? The strain of travel probably doesn’t help, but the fact that the hairnet didn’t even cover all her hair, let alone her face, bothered me a little. This hair problem may have more to do with this specific doll; as you’ll see later, her hair is rather difficult to manage.

Ellowyne came with her hands wrapped in plastic and with a Wilde Imagination tag around her wrist:

I didn’t have to fully undress her to remove the plastic, but it took a little sleeve wrangling and worry that I was going to pull her hands off. To all other Wilde newbies, the hands are supposed to be removable, so don’t be like me and dial the Tonner Doll Hospital when you look down, see a hole in your doll’s arm, and realize you’re holding a little plastic hand.

The colors in Ellowyne’s outfit are mostly earth tones of brown and green, with some cream and pink to provide some contrast. By far the best part is the jacket, which is made of shantung and is full of great details:

Ellowyne Wilde

My favorite detail is the flower cluster on the shoulder. The flowers don’t look very realistic, but the colors are beautiful and they are the perfect accent to the jacket.

The pockets really open, and are big enough to fit a fingertip.

The button centers are an olive green that matches the jacket, and the edges are finished to look like antiqued bronze. They look perfect, but aren’t functional -the jacket closes with three snaps.

The stock photos make it look like the braided bow is a drawstring closure, but in reality it’s just a decoration. It looks nice, though, and the brown strands are the same material as the shoelaces.

The jacket is fully lined, and the shade of white matches the white embroidery on the jacket.

Here you can see the jacket’s snap closures. My jacket’s lining came with an odd stain that won’t come out (I think it’s some sort of glue), which was a little disappointing but isn’t such a big deal since no one will see it.

The embroidery continues on the back:

Underneath the jacket is a pink top and brown corduroy skirt.

The coral color is beautiful and proves wrong the idea that redheads can’t wear pink, but the skirt hides a secret…

That's not a's a battle station bodysuit!
It’s not a shirt at all, but a bodysuit! More specifically, it’s a bodysuit without a crotch closure, which makes it a pain to remove. As you can see, the only closures are two snaps in the front, which means that to remove it you need to unsnap them and ever-so-carefully peel the bodysuit off the arms, twisting and contorting them to make sure that the bodysuit doesn’t tear, then gently pulling it off the hips and down the legs. Because of all the ceremony required to remove it and put it back on, this is my least favorite part of the ensemble. The upside is that it fits beautifully and can be put on without taking off Ellowyne’s hands.

The coral color matches her fingernail and toenail polish:

The skirt, on the other hand, could not be easier to deal with. It’s a velvety brown corduroy with a single snap closure. The only problem I have with it is that it has to be fastened at just the right spot on Ellowyne’s hips or else the snap won’t close.

Overall, it’s a well-made and versatile piece that can work with many things in a wardrobe. After the jacket, it’s the best part of the outfit.

Under the skirt Ellowyne wears two pairs of tights - a knit cream and brown striped pair, and a sheer gold pair (presumably to protect the legs from the dye, but would also work with a fancy dress):

Ellowyne has a narrow face with inset hazel eyes (they were advertised as “misty sea-green” but they look more green or brown depending on the lighting) that are further emphasized with a lot of smoky eyeshadow and black eyeliner. When I first took her out of the box, my first thought was that she had raccoon eyes.  It took me a while to get used to it, and while I wish that the design for this particular doll had gone a little easier on the eyeshadow, it definitely makes her eyes more vibrant:

Ellowyne Wilde

She has a delicately carved philtrum and coral lips, with a little black line between the lips that is more pronounced in the photos than in person. Her blush isn’t what some Blythe collectors call “clown blush” - it looks subtle and natural, and really helps to brighten her face.

Ellowyne Wilde

“Flora, Fauna, and not so Merryweather” has waist-length wigged hair. Wilde Imagination calls it chestnut, but in person it’s more of a chocolaty auburn. It looks vividly red in direct sunlight and different shades of reddish-brown in different lights. I expected that the hair would be loose, but it came styled in a half ponytail tied with an elastic band and a piece of hair to cover the elastic. Mine didn’t look so neat - the loop of hair is below the elastic band, and a little gentle tugging didn’t work to put the hair back over the elastic. I don’t want to mess up the hairstyle, so I left it alone, but if anyone has advice for fixing it I’d be grateful.

The hair itself is smooth and soft, but not silky. It seems to be free of styling product, but requires constant maintenance to stay neat - honestly, it gets flyaways if you look at it crosswise. Every five minutes while taking these photos I had to stop and use a little water and a brush to fix her hair. It’s also impossible to brush straight through her hair because of the hairstyle, which means that the top has the hardest time staying neat. The hair feels great without any styling product, but if a little would keep her hair from getting so messy (which it does on its own - no rough play for her!), then I would be all for it.

The wig attaches to her head with two Velcro dots. The crown of the wig has an elastic band to stretch over her head with just the right fit:

The rough side of the Velcro is glued to her head, so that when the wig is pulled on the Velcro doesn’t scratch her head. Even though no one will notice if her scalp is scratched if her wig is on, it’s a great detail and I love the fact that the designers thought about something so small as this.

“Flora, Fauna, and not so Merryweather” has both eye-length blunt cut bangs and two longer wisps at the sides of her face. The half ponytail hairstyle pulls back her hair at the sides and exposes the elastic of the wig, and the wisps help hide that, as well as add to the elfin feel of her face:

With her wig off it’s easier to see her profile:

Everything about her face conveys delicacy, but at the same time there’s an alertness or awareness about her - not in a creepy way, but it definitely feels like there’s something more to her than just any arbitrary doll.

I’m going to digress for a moment to discuss two debates in Ellowyne collecting - wigged vs. rooted hair, and inset eyes vs. painted eyes. For the sake of comparison I brought out my one other Ellowyne, an eBay find called “Behind Blue Eyes.” This doll has rooted blond hair and painted green eyes:

“Behind Blue Eyes” has heavily curled and styled hair absolutely full of styling product. I can’t really check the rooting because of her hairstyle, but from what I can see without damaging it, the plugs are very close together and the scalp is painted a sandy blond. The hair definitely feels different from “Flora, Fauna, and not so Merryweather”’s product-free hair, and it does have the advantage of always being positioned properly (which can be tricky to get right with a wig) but in its own way it’s as difficult to keep nice. 

My personal preference is for wigged hair, both for greater customizing opportunities and because I make miniature hats. Removable hair makes it easier for me to accurately size the hats without ruining their hairstyles.

“Behind Blue Eyes’s" eyes are painted beautifully, with delicate blue eyeshadow and dark lashes. Two white dots and some shading at the bottom of the iris help create the impression of dimensionality. The painted eyes give “Behind Blue Eyes” a more serene expression, yet they lack the alertness of the inset eyes. Both pairs of eyes are beautiful, but the painted eyes make it very clear that Ellowyne is a doll, whereas the inset eyes make her seem almost alive:

*These two dolls actually have the same skin tone, it's just the lighting that makes them appear different in the pictures, above.
Ellowyne has 12 points of articulation and a pretty good range of motion. Her chest joint isn’t so flexible; this is about as far as it can move to the left and right, and it can barely move back and forth:

Her shoulders, elbows, and wrists all have hinge joints and allow for a great range of motion and expression.

Her hands are elegant and beautifully detailed:

Her side-to-side splits aren’t very good, but her front-to-back splits are fantastic.

Her knee joints are a disappointment compared to her wonderful arm joints - they’re clunky, unattractive, and are pretty limited in terms of posability:

Ellowyne’s ankles and waist are not articulated. She has fashion feet, which means that she has a hard time standing without support. Even with shoes, she floats above the base of her stand:

While her feet aren’t nearly as nice as her hands, the ankles look pretty good:

Ellowyne sits well with her legs straight ahead, with crossed ankles, and with both feet tucked up with her:

I don’t have very many dolls to compare to Ellowyne, so instead of comparing body types I decided to compare similar physical characteristics. I borrowed my sister’s American Girl doll Mia and used my own A Girl for All Time Clementine to provide a small assortment of redheaded dolls with green eyes:

American Girl, Ellowyne Wilde, A Girl for All Time.
Clementine (right) and Ellowyne are the most similar on paper - both are 16 inches tall and are all plastic (though Clementine is all vinyl and Ellowyne is both vinyl and hard plastic) - yet it’s clear from their face sculpts which one is the plaything and which is the collector’s item. Mia and Clementine both have sweet, open faces. Ellowyne looks older and more self-aware.

All three dolls are marketed as redheads, yet when placed together they have a wide color variation in their hair. Mia’s hair looks blonde compared to Ellowyne’s dark hair, and Clementine’s bright red hair makes Ellowyne’s look almost brown:

As with the hair, their green eyes are all different too. Mia has decal eyes that look more hazel with flecks of green, and black lines through the iris to make it appear more lifelike. Clementine’s eyes are the least lifelike, with the two-toned green irises and gray feathery lines. Ellowyne’s eyes look the most lifelike, with a realistic mix of hazel and green in the irises, and natural-looking black detailing.

...and closer:

Ellowyne is the most photogenic doll I’ve ever owned. Her bright hair, big eyes, and delicate features look good under any lighting, but when I took her outside for a few photos, she shone.

These photos were taken at a local college campus. I got a few odd looks and mosquito bites, but it was worth it.

Ellowyne Wilde

I had to take just one with both Ellowynes:

Ellowyne Wilde

The rest of these photos were taken in my yard:

Ellowyne Wilde

Ellowyne Wilde

My sister wanted to take a few photos too.  She’s quite a bit younger than me, and this was her first time doing doll photography. I was so impressed by her photos that I had to include them:

Since my main doll focus is paper dolls, I thought it was only fitting to take a picture of Ellowyne with them.

Bottom line on Ellowyne: With her distinctive face (specifically her dramatic eye makeup) and melancholy personality, Ellowyne definitely isn’t for everyone. Her price tag is a bit of a turn-off for collectors with smaller budgets, and her leg joints are clunky and don’t provide much posability. She has difficulty balancing without a stand, though this is lessened when she is wearing stable shoes. In the case of “Flora, Fauna, and not so Merryweather,” her wig is frustrating to maintain and her circles of dark gray eyeshadow take some getting used to.

Yet despite all these things, there’s just something about this doll that makes her hard to put down. I don’t know if it’s her eyes, her face, or her gorgeous clothes, but she comes alive in front of a camera and makes me smile every time I look at her. When I’m in a creative rut, she is my muse; because of Ellowyne I learned to sew and make miniature hats, and to experiment more with papier mache. It’s a rare doll that makes you feel complete...that you don’t need to add any more of that type to your collection because she alone is so satisfying. For me, “Flora, Fauna, and not so Merryweather” is that doll, and for those reasons I am so glad that she lives on my shelf. 

Ellowyne Wilde


  1. Lovely review!
    I adore that skirt and body-shirt. I would love them in my size!
    Thankyou for the very awesome review.

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  3. Thanks for doing a review on Ellowyne "N". I am very curious about these dolls, but I don't own one. I've gotten very close to buying a Prudence and I really love Lizette, but something always stops me when it gets time to part with the cash. I think I prefer the painted eyes to the inset, as the racoony makeup is very off-putting to me, though I guess it wouldn't be too hard to re-do the eye makeup of an inset eye doll. Ellowyne's face reminds me of dolls I had when I was very young, and for that reason I will always find her endearing.

  4. Nice review! For the hair, I recommend a crochet hook for getting those fly-aways back under the loop.

  5. I wanted that doll when it was on sale! Instead I got a basic Amber thru eBay. Now I have to learn to sew! Congrats! Great review!

  6. Gorgeous doll, gorgeous photos!

    She reminds me a little bit of Uneeda's Dollikin from the 1950s, but upon comparison, I think it's mostly the roundness of the cheek/jaw and the sense, from her expression, that she's quietly musing on a really fascinating life, both inner and outer.

  7. I too have Ellowyne on my wish list and really appreciate this review. The photos are enlightening and informative, particularly the comparison photos with Clementine and Mia and the nude ones showing how she can move. I will be looking for a sale.

  8. Beautiful photos! I have been wondering if I do get either, weather to get an Ellowayne or a Déjà Vu doll. Love her shoes and jacket. Thanks for the detailed review!
    - Zoë from

  9. She is so lovely...her eyes are amazing! I really like the last photo :)

  10. I like her acrylic eyes, wig and clothes. This is a great review. It's nice to get to see her in more detail. Unfortunately, I won't be able to get one but I did get a City Girls Billy. She's a nice alternative.

  11. Hey, Emily could you please do a review on a lalaloopsy girl?

  12. Very well done review--I think you did a great job of covering all aspects of the figure (clothing, articulation/poseability, etc.) and your photography was also excellent. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather is a lovely doll (and she has a delightful name to boot!)

    I'd like to have an Ellowyne doll like yours, but, alas, they're definitely outside my budget--perhaps I'll get lucky and find one at a thrift store someday. If not, I'll just have to be content with my similar, albeit smaller, Liv and Moxie Teenz dolls.

    I'm also in the camp that believes inset eyes look much better than painted ones (although painted eyes certainly aren't a deal-breaker), and I also prefer removable wigs, both for the customization options and the ability to just get the hair out of the way altogether when you need to. I recently made a pair of glasses, from scratch, for my Liv "School's Out" Sophie doll and it was so much easier to size them to her face without her tresses getting in the way.

    I'd like to try my hand at making some paper dolls, like you do, one of these days too. On a whim, I bought a cheap one, from a local Dollar Tree store last year, that I had some fun with, but I haven't messed around with one since then.

  13. All those who are looking to own an Ellowyne - do not let the price tag despair you. I own 9 Ellowynes and have gotten most of them on great sales through the Wilde Imagination site. If you sign up to their mailing list you get notices of great sales - I have gotten fully dressed Ellowynes (Great Depression, Serious Intention) for less than 80 USD. I have a basic wigged Prudence that I paid 49 USD for !!!! They have Black Friday sales and Factory sales and the prices are much better than e-bay. You need to stay elert to the sales and bide your time but it's worth it.

  14. N, this is a wonderful review! thank you very much. We enjoy your blog, but don't always get to see it as often as we once did - wish I could follow by email so new posts would go directly to the inbox.

    Anyway, back to the doll review in hand. Not so Merryweather is gorgeous! I love her face, hair color, and those boots! Outstanding!

    Thank you again for a great review and guest post.
    ~Xyra (Melody's human)

  15. it's hard not to love such a beautiful doll with those photos so cute

  16. Hi, i'm keira, your blog really inspires me and when i'm older i want to do a doll blog too! i think Ellowyne dolls are really pretty, but they are very expensive and the closest thing i had to her was th moxie girlz doll, Ida. i decided to dress her in an wilde-ish outfit, and i renamed her Ellie- after ellowyne of course! when i get a blog i will definitely post some pictures of her!