Friday, August 15, 2014

"Doc McStuffins" Dolls by The Disney Store and Just Play

My husband was reading the New York Times the other day and stopped to ask me if I knew anything about Doc McStuffins.  I giggled a little at the name (while picturing Doctor Dolittle, Doctor Who and other such doctor characters...) and said, "nope."  Well, as it turns out, I should have known about Doc, because she's the lead character from a new animated Disney Junior television series called Doc McStuffins.  This show has become incredibly popular among preschool children (and their parents) and the merchandise is starting to appear in all of my favorite stores.

Dottie (aka "Doc") McStuffins is a six-year-old girl who has a special way with stuffed animals and toys.  Following in the footsteps of her physician mother, Doc has set up a small toy hospital inside her backyard playhouse.  In each television episode, Doc fixes or helps a different toy, imparting simple bits of wisdom along the way...and glowing with a kindhearted, intelligent personality.

Miss McStuffins got the attention of the New York Times because she's black, and because she represents a success story for Disney--a company that has been working hard to overcome the racial and gender stereotypes of their past.  I certainly recommend taking a look at the Times' article.  It's short, well-written, and it outlines the reasons why this show is a big deal, both for Disney, and also for a multitude of families who have been waiting for an African-American roll model just like Doc.

I watched several episodes of Doc McStuffins and quickly became enchanted.  It's fantastic.  If my kids were younger, this is what we'd be watching.  When I was a child, Doc's animal-loving personality and affinity for toys would have made her my hero.  As a quickly-converted fan of this show, my first question became: "which is the best Doc Mc Stuffins doll out there?"  Today, I will review two of the larger Doc dolls.  One of them is sold at the Disney Store, and the other is made by Just Play and can be found on the shelves of Toys R Us, Walmart, Target and other big box locations.

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store
"Doc McStuffins" doll from the Disney Store, accompanied by Just Play figures
"Lambie" and "Stuffy."
I am not sure exactly when the Doc McStuffins toys started appearing in stores, since I have only recently been on the lookout for them.  I do know that the show premiered in March of 2012, so it's been around for a while.  Recently, I have noticed that the Doc toys are becoming abundant at my Target stores and have even taken over some of the real estate that Monster High and Ever After High used to occupy.

I tried to capture the variety of Doc McStuffins merchandise with my (not-so-great) cell phone camera.  There's a dress-up doctor's coat with a few accessories:

There are plush versions of some of Doc's toys, including Lambie (her lamb), Hallie (the hippo), and Stuffy the dragon.  There's also a range of smaller dolls and figures and some child-sized doctor accessories:

The smaller figures aren't as cute as the larger dolls.
I love the plush dragons--especially the larger one in this picture:

There's even a Doc playhouse set, but the house doesn't look much like Doc's playhouse clinic from the show:

The doll I chose to buy was the 12" Just Play version of Doc that comes with talking Lambie and Stuffy figures: 

This set retails for $37.99 (Target) or $39.99 (Toys R Us).  For some bizarre and wonderful reason, I was able to find it brand new on Amazon for $20.  That's not how the Amazon secondary market usually works, but I'm not complaining.  Anyway--because I found this set for such a bargain, I thought it was equivalent in price to the other doll I bought, which is the Disney Store's $24.95 Doc doll.  In most retail scenarios, The Just Play set is at least $10 more than the Disney doll.

This comparison will still work, though, because the Just Play doll from my set is also available on her own for $21.79.  The only difference between the single doll and the one I have is that the single doll comes in a pink coat instead of a white one:

So, I will show you the extra Lambie and Stuffy figures from the Just Play set, but I won't consider them in my comparison of the two Doc dolls.  

Doc and her friends come in a large, heavy cardboard window box.  The back of the box describes some of the features of this electronic set:

The Doc McStuffins television show has a fairly reliable formula.  Doc meets a toy in need, she gives it a check-up, she makes a diagnosis, and then she fixes the toy and the toy feels better.  Two of these stages have a catchy song associated with them.

This Doc doll sings the check-up song, Time for Your Check-Up:

Then, when Lambie and Stuffy sit on the table together, they sing the song about feeling better, called I Feel Better:

The bottom of the box has a ton of writing on it, including credits for the songs, and instructions for how to change the batteries:

I think it's funny that they credit the performances to "Stuffy and Lambie" and "Doc McStuffins," not to the actual actors (Robbie Rist, Lara Jill Miller and Kiara Muhammad):

The caution section is also pretty interesting to read.  Apparently, if I change or modify Doc, I might lose my authority to play with her:

Also, Doc might cause harmful interference to my TV reception.  
Doc and her accessories are attached to a colorful, three dimensional cardboard backdrop that slides easily out of the window box:

This packaging looks like a nightmare to manage, but it's actually quite simple to get everything detached from the cardboard.  I undid the tape on the back (this was the hardest part), snipped a few plastic threads, and pushed all of the plastic tabs through the cardboard.  After doing this, I could remove everything from the front pretty easily without damaging the background at all.

The cute drawings on the wall of the cardboard playhouse look like the pictures Doc makes in her Big Book of Boo Boos--to keep track of the cases she has cured.

Here's Doc and everything she comes with:

Doc McStuffins doll by Just Play

The Lambie figure is made out of hard plastic and has stiff vinyl limbs.  She has four points of articulation (her four legs):

Her skirt is plastic, and is painted opalescent pink:

Lambie's limbs are very stiff and hard to move, but she can be made to stand (although her rounded feet make it impossible for her to balance on her own):

Overall, the painting on this figure is pretty good, but there are a few areas of thin or rubbed paint, like here on her left foot:

Lambie is cute, and has a good resemblance to the character from the show.  My only complaint is that she doesn't look at all fuzzy or soft:

The other figure, Stuffy the dragon, is my favorite:

Doc McStuffins Stuffy figure

Stuffy is made out of hard plastic and has a flexible vinyl head, limbs and tail.  He can move all four of his legs, but can't turn his head or move his tail...

...even though it looks like he should be able to move his tail:

Stuffy's limb articulation is also really stiff, but he can balance in both a sitting and a standing position:

Doc McStuffins Stuffy figure

Doc McStuffins Stuffy figure

The music and voices in this toy come from within the examination table.  This is a heavy accessory with no moving parts.  It is decorated with two stickers and has some molded details on the back:

The top of the table has specific places for Lambie and Stuffy to sit (Stuffy on the right and Lambie on the left) and a heart-shaped speaker in between.  There's also a small button in the shape of a bandage:

When the table is switched to the "play" setting, it can be activated by the Lambie and Stuffy figures.  The "try me" setting has only a limited inventory of sounds.

If each figure sits in their spot, they should speak a range of phrases.  The bandage button can be pushed at any time to activate a sound from any character that is sitting in the correct location.  If Lambie is on Stuffy's spot or vice versa, they won't say a word.

I enlisted the help of one of my kids to demonstrate how this table works.  First, here are each of the characters saying something separately:

Stuffy doesn't balance as solidly as Lambie, and so he had some trouble activating the table:

Here are both of the animals talking successfully...

With some patience, they can even be coaxed into singing their duet:

The I Feel Better song makes me think of a similar song in Legally Blonde (the musical) called So Much Better.  Also, incidentally, the title song to Doc McStuffins reminds me of the Michael Buble tune, Haven't Met You Yet.  The songs are very catchy and have been stuck in my head for the last week.

Doc McStuffins Lambie and Stuffy figures

Doc also comes with her doctor's bag and two instruments: an otoscope and a thermometer:

The bag is made out of purple plastic, but the top third is coated in pink glitter.  There's also a small heart bandage sticker decorating the front of the bag:

The bag opens, but it doesn't open out in both directions from the midline the way a real doctor's bag would (or the way Doc's bag in the cartoon opens).  It opens more like a lunchbox:

The instruments are also made out of purple plastic, and each has a handle that is coated in pink glitter.  The thermometer has a sticker indicator that shows faces in various moods:

Unfortunately, the sticker is already peeling off:

The otoscope is simple, with no holes or sticker decorations:

Doc can't hold any of these accessories, but the instruments fit very nicely into the bag:

Now, let's take a look at Doc herself.  The first thing I noticed about this doll is her weight.  She is quite heavy, and feels pleasingly substantial and solid in my hands.  She gives the impression of being sturdy and durable, and she stands very well on her own.

Doc comes wearing her signature outfit--a white doctor's coat, a purple and white striped sweater, a pink skirt, polka dotted capri pants, and pink glittery sneakers:

Doc McStuffins doll by Just Play

Unlike the cartoon version of Doc, this doll has her hair in two long, straight braided pigtails.  In the television show, Doc's hair is short and curly, and is styled into two cute upturned braids.

Doc is wearing a stethoscope around her neck, and the instructions on the box say to press the stethoscope to hear her talk.  The stethoscope itself doesn't actually make any sound, but it rests right next to a button on Doc's body, so pushing on it depresses the button and activates the sound:

Right out of the box, Doc says a few phrases:

She also sings Time for Your Check-Up...although the song ends very abruptly:

She's probably disabled by a "try me" setting, so we'll come back to this in a bit.

Doc's leggings and sneakers are not removable.  The leggings are painted onto her legs, and the sneakers are molded to her feet.

It was also clear right away that the details of her doctor's coat are decals--not real pockets or buttons:

Doc's face is sweet, but it's pretty bland. It doesn't fully capture Doc's personality:

Doc McStuffins doll by Just Play

This doll's hair has a crooked part that comes up the back midline of her head and then veers off to the right:

The front of Doc's hair is decorated with a glittery pink flower headband just like on TV:

The headband is tied into Doc's hair in the front with pink thread and also attached with a clear rubber band.

The hair is rooted into widely-spaced rows that are visible if the hair is parted slightly:

Here is the headband removed from Doc's head:

The glitter coating is thin in some areas.
Without the headband to hold it, Doc's hair relaxes down towards her face a little, and her angular side part is more visible:

This doll's eyes are wide and pale brown.  The scalloped shape of her eyelashes mirrors the style of the television character nicely, but the color of the eyes is wrong.  Doc should have very dark, rich brown eyes that appear almost black from a distance.

She has three cream-colored freckles on either side of her nose, just as she should:

Her mouth has a friendly smile, but again, it's missing Doc's quirky individuality.  Doc's mouth often has more of a thin curl to its smile than this.  

My doll also has a small shiny rub on the tip of her nose.
The plainness of this doll's expression reminds me of the contrast between the expressive Disney Animators' Collection toddler Anna doll, and the more generic Anna doll that is sold through J.C. Penney.

Doc's stethoscope was tied to her coat, and the coat was also tied down to the underlying shirt:

Once the thread is cut, it's easy to remove the stethoscope.  This accessory is made out of hard plastic and has a small amount of bend in the earpieces.  The decoration on the front is a sticker:

With the stethoscope removed, the front flaps of Doc's coat open to reveal more of the underlying clothes:

As it turns out, Doc's outfit is all one piece: the coat is attached to the skirt and shirt at the sides:

The skirt and top are made out of stretchy synthetic knit with a bit of sheen--it reminds me of bathing suit fabric.

The whole outfit opens all of the way down the back with a long strip of velcro.  The construction of this outfit is nicely designed to make it very easy to get on and off.  It seems great for younger children who are just getting started with dressing and undressing their dolls.

Here you can see how the front of the shirt and skirt are sewn into the body of the coat:

The outfit is made so that the sleeves of the sweater appear to extend out from under the doctor's coat cuffs:

Here's Doc without her clothes:

Her body is made out of hard plastic and her head and limbs are vinyl.  She has some bend in her arms, but negligible flexibility in her legs.

You can see that the voice activation button is placed so that it looks like a belly button--I think this is very clever.  The large star-shaped speaker sits just above the belly button:

In the back, Doc's battery compartment is clearly visible:

She takes 4 LR44 1.5 volt batteries.
Along the right side of the doll is the on/off switch that does, in fact, have a "try me" setting.

With Doc in her fully functional "play" mode, she sings the complete check-up song:

Doc has five points of articulation (neck, shoulders and hips).  Her head has nice rotation and doesn't tip up as it moves around:

Her arms rotate all of the way around, and also hinge up and away from her body:

Again, the hard vinyl composition of her arms gives them some bend that doesn't show up in pictures, but would add a little to her flexibility during play. 

Doc's legs have simple hinge movement.  They can move forward to about ninety degrees from her torso, but they don't move back at all:

The hip joints look very rugged:

Doc's hip articulation allows her to sit nicely on the floor, but she can't do any splits.

When she sits like this, a bandage pattern on the bottom of her right foot is revealed:

I don't really have any other dolls in this size category, but I wanted to show you Doc next to a Disney Store toddler because they seem to be in a similar niche of the market.  As you can see, Animators' Collection Anna is quite a bit larger than Doc:

Disney Store toddler Anna and Just Play Doc McStuffins.
On the other hand, Doc is quite a bit larger than many of my other large-headed dolls.  Here she is next to a Crown Cuties Cutie Pops doll (who is also about the same size as Pullip, Blythe and Tangkou):

I thought another valuable size comparison would be to Sofia the First, the television-based Latina character who typically shares shelf space (and probably a viewing audience) with Doc.  However, I don't own any of the larger Sofia dolls, so I'll have to settle for this in-store comparison picture:

Sofia is quite a bit smaller than Doc.
After I took plenty of pictures, I decided to let Doc's hair down.  Despite the widely-spaced rooting rows, this doll actually has a thick, full head of hair: 

The hair is dark brown, but it has a lot of lighter brown highlighted streaks:

Here's another look at the rows of hair:

This hair is frizzy, but it brushes out easily...adding even more to the volume:

It's not too difficult to get the hair back into braids, but they don't look anywhere near as tidy and smooth as the original hairstyle:

...and I had trouble getting the hair to re-part nicely along the back:

Here are two last pictures that I took of Doc and her friends before I messed up her hair:

Doc McStuffins doll by Just Play

Doc McStuffins doll by Just Play

The other Doc McStuffins doll I bought is from the Disney Store.  This doll is about eleven inches tall and also has a singing and talking feature.  She costs $24.95.  

This Doc comes in a cardboard window box:

The sides of the box have partial windows, and also some pictures of the television characters.  This is an especially cute picture of Doc with Lambie and Stuffy:

The back of the box has a different picture of Doc with her animals (this time including Hallie the hippo and Chilly the snowman):

Hallie the hippo is great--her character is voiced by Loretta Devine, who has been in tons of movies, and was also in Grey's Anatomy, which is one of my favorite television shows.

The bottom of this box is also packed with text, but it's slightly less complex than the Just Play doll's box.

Doc is attached to a purple backdrop that slides out of the window box:

This packaging looks less complicated than the Just Play box, but it was actually harder to remove the doll.  She's attached to the cardboard with wires around her neck and around both feet:

Once the wires were cut, there were still some secret attachments that needed to be addressed.  For example, Doc's stethoscope was plastic-tied to the packaging behind her neck:

Cough! Choke!
Even Doc's red hair bands were attached to the box with plastic ties--a system that caused one of the bands to be left behind when Doc was removed from the box:

Fortunately, there was also a clear rubber band holding the hair in place.

Here's Doc out of her box:

This is also a pleasantly heavy doll.  I am so accustomed to Monster High and the Classic Disney Princesses, that the weight of these larger dolls really surprised me.  

Doc comes in her signature outfit and wears a stethoscope.  She also carries a doctor's bag, but doesn't have any instruments to go inside the bag.

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store

The activation button for this doll's voice is on her belly and is much larger than it is on the Just Play doll, and so I was constantly hitting the button by accident.  When she's in her "try me" mode right out of the box, this is what she sings:

Right away, I like that the Disney doll doesn't have an instrumental accompaniment to her song.  This makes for a much clearer recording.

This doll has a very expressive face compared to the Just Play Doc.  The overall shape of her head is more cartoon-like and exaggerated, and she has an impish smile, raised eyebrows, and side-glancing eyes:

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store

This Doc has darker brown irises than the Just Play doll, but they're still pretty light compared to the animated Doc.  The eyes have some extra sparkle in them thanks to metallic gold iris lines.  The gold gives the eyes a nice warmth, and make Doc's gaze seem more focused.

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store

She also has three faint freckles on each side of her tiny nose:

This doll's smile has a nice bowed curve to it--not exactly like the cartoon Doc, but more accurate than the Just Play doll.  I think her teeth are fine, but I'd love to see how she'd look with a closed-mouth smile.

Doc's hair is rooted with straight, shiny fibers.  The style is very angular, with the hairline taking a sharp turn inwards at the side part:

Doc's pigtails are short and twisted, and they curve upwards at the ends without the help of any obvious styling product.  I think the twists themselves hold the hair in place like this:

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store

Doc has a glittery pink headband that is tied into her hair in almost exactly the same way as the other doll's headband:

The headband is also secured by a clear rubber band that stretches around behind the doll's head.  I cut this band off, but I'm not sure I was supposed to do that.

As with the other Doc, a peek at the scalp revealed fairly wide rooting rows, although these are a bit closer together than the rows of hair on the Just Play doll:

This headband looks similar overall to the other Doc's headband, but the band is narrower, the plastic is thicker, the flower is smaller, and the glitter application is more even:

Here are the two headbands together:

Just Play headband (left) and Disney Store headband (right).
Doc's hair doesn't change much at all with the headband removed, but it's easier to see how the hair is gathered together and tied with thread on the left side of the head:

Doc has the same angled part that the other doll has.  This Doc has more visible styling gel on the top of her hair, though:

The doctor's bag looks very similar to the one from the Just Play set.  In fact, at first I assumed that the two bags were identical.  One fun difference is that the Disney Store doll has a gripping hand on her right side and can actually carry the bag:

The bags have some differences, too.  The Disney Store bag is made out of a darker purple plastic and has a less colorful sticker decal on the front:

But it opens down the middle like a real doctor's bag:

Here are the two bags together:

Just Play bag (left) and Disney Store bag (right).
Doc's stethoscope loops around her neck and the two ear pieces are attached with a small section of clear tubing:

The tubing is removable.
This stethoscope is made out of bendable vinyl and has a lot more flexibility than the Just Play version.

It also has a molded bandage pattern on the chest piece instead of just a sticker:

Here are the two stethoscopes side-by-side:

Just Play stethoscope (left) and Disney Store stethoscope (right).
Doc's coat is made out of shiny white material that is thinner than the fabric of the Just Play Doc's coat.  Also, this coat does not open all of the way down the back, so it is slightly harder to get on and off.

This coat has real sewn-on buttons and working pockets:

The coat is attached to the shirt and skirt at the side, just like it is on the other doll:

The shirt has glittery purple stripes and the skirt has two colors of jersey knit--purple near the waist and pink at the bottom:

There's also a patch of purple knit fabric lining the top of the shirt:

And the sleeves of the sweater (which are made to look like they stick out past the cuffs of the doctor's coat) also have a purple knit stripe:

Doc's polka dotted leggings are made out of stretchy knit fabric and have an elastic waistband:

With the coat gone, the large voice activation button is clearly visible--with the speaker positioned right on the button:

This doll's on/off switch is located along the left side of her body, and also has a "try me" setting:

This doll's shoes and socks are also removable:

She's wearing little pink knit peds and glittery pink vinyl sneakers:

This doll would be harder for small children to dress and undress than the Just Play doll, but her clothes are more detailed than the other Doc's clothes.

As another aside, I was looking at J.C. Penney's version of Doc McStuffins online, and it seems like that doll (which costs $22) is the same as the Disney Store doll in almost every way, but has painted-on leggings with what look like removable shoes and socks.  I can't tell exactly what's going on from the two catalogue pictures, but it's pretty interesting.

Underneath her clothes, Doc has painted purple underwear:

Her battery compartment is on her back:

She takes 3 LR44 1.5 volt batteries.
With the doll in her fully functional voice mode, she can say several phrases:

And also sing the full version of the check-up song:

Doc's body is made out of hard plastic and she has vinyl limbs and a vinyl head.  She has nine points of articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hips).  Her head rotates all of the way around in a nice straight plane:

Her shoulders are rotating hinges, so she can lift her arms away from her body, and spin them all of the way around:

Her elbows are also rotating hinges, but they only bend to about 120 degrees:

The inclusion of wrist articulation is great, and these joints have nice, expressive movement.

At first, I didn't think that Doc's hip articulation was very good, because when I tried to get her to sit on the ground with her legs straight out, she couldn't do it:

Her hips can't bend enough to allow her bottom to hit the ground:

However, after a little manipulation, I realized that the has great rotation in her legs.  If the joints are rotated the right way, she can strike a lot of different poses.  

She can do front-to-back splits:

She can almost do full side-to-side splits with this hip rotation...

But with her feet facing back, she can do the full split:

And, she can sit nicely on the ground, she just has to have her feet spaced apart a little:

This is a very fun doll to pose:

(and she has really cute feet):

With her bent fingers, she can even do what I like to call the "now I've got you in my clutches!" pose:

Here are the two Doc dolls together without their clothes.  The Disney Store Doc can't stand on her own without her shoes, so I rigged a doll stand to help her out:

The Disney Store doll (left) is slightly shorter than the Just Play doll (right).
The Just Play doll has a lighter, more orange-tinted skin color, and her hair is lighter because of the pale brown streaks.  The Just Play doll also has a much wider torso and a blockier stance than the Disney Store doll.

Here are the two girls with their clothes:

The Disney Store Doc's outfit looks nicer and more detailed overall, and I love that she can put her hands in her pockets!

About half way through the review, I wondered if the Zapf Little Princess dolls might have a similar torso size to one of the Doc dolls (since I have a lot of clothes for my Zapf Cinderella....), but unfortunately, the Zapf body is quite a bit taller and wider:

Of course the Just Play figures and accessories are compatible with the Disney Store Doc: 

And what's really nice is that this Doc's articulated arms make it possible for her to actually hold and cuddle the animals:

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store

I took these last few pictures of the Disney Store doll before I let her hair down:

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store

Doc McStuffins doll from Disney Store

Unfortunately, I only got about this far in taking down the pigtails, because I realized that the hair is not meant to come down:

The hair on the top of Doc's head is gathered into a ponytail, but it's cut short right past the rubber band.  The length in the visible pigtails is all from a thin layer of hair at the bottom of the doll's head:

I suppose that the thickness of the hair at the top of Doc's head is too much for the wispy, upturned pigtail style, but this solution seems very poorly designed for a children's toy.

I didn't take the hair all of the way down--I felt sure it would look awful and be almost impossible to put back in place.  With the pigtails untwisted, my options for recovery were to leave the hair untwisted and crimped, or to try and braid the loose ends back into a pigtail.

The unbraided hair looks fine, and hides the cut-off ends pretty well:

But re-braiding didn't work well for me.  The braid is messy and doesn't conceal the stub of cut hair much at all:

This is pretty bad.  The doll would have been better with molded plastic hair.  And the thing is, if the rooted hair had been short and curly like the cartoon Doc's hair, it wouldn't have had any issues.  I know Disney can make the right kind of hair, too, because the Small World doll "Kenya" has wonderful short curly hair that is thick, soft and looks great:

Kenya's hair is too long for Doc, but it's so dense that it could be much shorter and still cover the scalp.  Sigh.

Fortunately, I have this picture of the two Doc dolls together before their hair was mangled:

Doc McStuffins dolls

Bottom line?  As with many of my comparison reviews, I am going to break down the details of these two Doc McStuffins dolls into a few critical categories.

Face:  The Disney Store Doc doll has an accurate, lively, incredibly cute face.  She captures a lot of the television character's unique look and personality with her bright smile, expressive eyes, and darker coloring.  The Just Play doll's features are more traditional and bland.  She's missing the oblong head shape, the goofy smile, and her eyes seem blank in comparison.  I think that the Just Play Doc is cute, and on her own she looks like a fine Doc, but side-by-side with the Disney doll, she can't compete.  I absolutely adore the Disney Store Doc's face.

Clothing and Accessories:  The better choice in this category is dependent on who the doll is for.  I think that the Just Play doll would be better for younger children.  She only has one removable piece of clothing (her combined coat/shirt/skirt) and this garment opens all of the way down the back for very easy dressing.  There are no tights to pull on and off and no shoes to lose.  However, the Disney Store Doc's outfit has better details and looks nicer.  For older children (and adults) the working pockets, real buttons, removable tights, and tiny shoes and socks are wonderful...and greatly enhance the doll's versatility.  The accessories of these two doll are similar.  I slightly prefer the Disney Store doll's flexible stethoscope and the more accurate opening style of her doctor's bag.

Articulation:  The Disney Store doll has much better articulation.  I love her articulated elbows and wrists.  She can scratch her head and cover her eyes and even has a special hand for carrying her doctor's bag.  For a character who is constantly tending to toys in need, this doll's ability to cuddle and hold things seems essential.  Despite her large number of joints, the Disney Store Doc feels sturdy and solid.  Her limbs don't flop around and her joints don't seem thin or fragile.  The only flaw with this doll's body design is that she doesn't stand well on her own without her shoes--and even with her shoes she's nowhere near as well-balanced as the Just Play doll.  The Just Play doll has chunky, sturdy joints and can sit on the ground beautifully, but her stiff vinyl arms don't offer a lot of posing options and she can't hold her toys or her medical instruments.

Electronic Features:  Both dolls can speak phrases from the television show and they both sing the Time for Your Check-Up song.  I like the Just Play doll's activation button better.  It's cute and small like a belly button, which means that it isn't constantly being pushed by accident.  The Disney Doll's button is large and super-easy to push, and so I found that I was frequently activating her voice when I didn't want to.  Luckily the on/off switch solves this problem nicely.  Once the sound is activated, I vastly prefer the Disney Store doll.  The spoken phrases are equivalent between the two dolls, but the a capella singing of the Disney Store Doc is much easier on the ears than the musical accompaniment in the Just Play doll's track.

Hair:  I find it odd that both of these dolls have fairly long, straight hair.  I would have preferred it if they'd had tight curls more similar to the television character--something like a close-cut version of the Disney Store's Small World Kenya doll.  The Just Play doll's long braids don't look anything like what Doc's hair is supposed to look like, but at least the hair is thick and soft and fun to brush.  Even if the braids are let down, this doll's hair could be re-styled in a number of different ways.  For the Disney Store Doc, though, the hair is a fatal flaw.  The upturned pigtails are perfect for Doc's character, but the hair isn't meant to be let down.  Furthermore, the hair isn't secured well enough to ensure that it stays permanently in the factory style.  Making a play doll for preschoolers with rooted hair that looks bad when it's down (and can't go back up once it's down...) is not a good move.  This error is even more frustrating because it could have been avoided by just making the hair more faithful to the character.

I absolutely love the Doc McStuffins television show.  I also love almost everything about the adorable Disney Store's Doc doll, and would have easily picked her over the Just Play doll...until I examined the hair.  It's sad to have a doll come so close to perfection but then fail in such a critical way.  The Disney Store's Doc would be fine for collectors and adults, but that's not her core audience.  She might also be fine for some younger kids, but the hair is certainly a risk.  If Disney re-designs this doll with curly, short hair (and pigtails!) I will be the first one to offer my enthusiastic endorsement.  Until then, I have to say that the bland-but-durable Just Play doll is a safer choice--especially for kids who like to take down or style their doll's hair. 

Doc McStuffins dolls  


  1. I think I like the Disney store Doc better, but it's such a shame that her hair was well... like that. Maybe one day I'll get her and re-wig her hair. Now I'm just gonna be honest here I am a bit (very) jealous of that lamb, it just looks so cute and fuzzy. (The cartoon, definitely not the plastic one) The just play doll reminds me of a Dora doll I had when I was little. The only thing is I'm a little bit confused as to why the Disney one would have so much articulation for a doll with an audience so young. Anyways nice review.

    1. Hi Alice, I was also thinking that the Just Play Doc resembles Dora a little. That would have been a good comparison, too, but sadly I don't have Dora. I did notice some cute new Dora dolls on the shelves, though! I think the Disney Doc doll with new hair would be perfect. :)

  2. Great review, as always! I can't believe you picked this doll to review as I was checking her out when I was recently at Target. This is the first I noticed her, though I might have mistaken her for one of the Dora sets in the past. I was tempted to buy but went with the mini Moxie Girlz instead. I wasn't so thrilled with the size and scale of this doll, and mini versions in particular did not look as nice as some of the other dolls. We only have one mini Sophia set and there isn't much interest shown in it. She is really cute so I may get one yet, but a smaller version that 12 inch.

    1. Thank you so much, Cath! Those mini Moxie Girlz are really cute, aren't they? I am working on a short review of them. They're flying off the shelves around here. I spent a long time looking at all of the different Sofia and Doc dolls in the aisles of Target, and I think that you're exactly right--the smaller Doc dolls are not as cute as the larger ones. I also think the opposite is true for Sofia--she's cutest in the smaller scale. It would be nice if these dolls were compatible in their various size scales. I can imagine many fun games with Doc and Sofia together. :)

  3. The just play Doc face remids me vagely of Dora... -GEM

    1. That's a good point. Give the Just Play doll a shorter haircut and she could pass for Dora!

  4. I have my 2 yr old on my lap while reading this review and she is drooling over Doc. What a great comparison! Both of my girls are completely smitten with this character and show, but we don't yet have any Doc dolls. I had no idea that the Disney Store one existed and I would've chosen her in an instant based on her face, pigtails and removable clothes had I not seen this hair debacle. Yikes, yup...she would've been a train-wreck within a matter of hours at the mercy of my two :) Does her glitter get all over the place?
    I also agree about the hair and I'm really glad you "risked" taking it down in both instances.
    I think it's important to be able to love a doll that looks like you; someone you can relate to and this would include having the same same hair texture and eye color. I love that little Small World Doll you showed as a comparison. It would be amazing if they could make another Doc in the future that has those adorable tight curls and darker irises to be truer to the little Doc we all know and love. The Just Play doll looks like a completely different character!

    1. Thank you Farrah! Isn't the show sweet? I'd love to go back in time and watch it with my stuffed-animal-loving two year old. :) I have to admit that I bought six episodes while I was writing the review and watched all of them (at least once)! I almost cried at the episode where the stuffed giraffe is stuck in the claw machine. So cute.

      Since I could barely keep the hair together on the Disney doll, I figured it wasn't fair to expect a toddler to do any better. It's such a strange choice of styling. I totally agree with everything you said about the authenticity of the hair and how it's an important part of Doc. I hope Disney re-thinks this, too. I really want to love their doll.

      The glitter is plentiful, but it didn't shed a ton on my table...which is a bit of a surprise. Some of the Classic Disney Princesses are worse. Maybe it's because most of the glitter is on the doctor's bag and I didn't play with that very much? You can see in some of the pictures that the glitter does stick to other parts of the dolls themselves, but I'd say there was less shedding than anticipated.

  5. Disney Store Doc is so cute! The hair is a big disapointment though.... Maybe you could re- root her hair? The Just Play doll, bland as she is,is a good doll for younger children. If I were to buy the Disney doll I would wait a bit for the hair problem to be fixed.
    - Zoë from

    1. Hi Zoë, I think a re-rooted Disney Doc is a fantastic idea. I really need to learn this skill myself some day because I have seen so many glorious re-rooted dolls out there in the world! Sigh. It would be a great fix for poor Doc.

  6. Boy, was my 3 year old niece excited to see this review! She owns the Just Play one (which she brought over to sing to me while I read the review). You are spot on with your assessment it being good for little ones; my niece has no difficulty dressing her plus she can not lose the shoes! I've had to glue Stuffie's wings (the thin part that attaches to his back) due to the plastic being weakened from being "flapped".

    Thanks to your review I realized niece's doll was still on Demo mode, she is delighted that Doc sings the whole song now:)

    1. Hi Desiree! Thank you so much for the feedback--it's wonderful to hear that your niece can dress the Just Play doll with no trouble. That seems very impressive to me! I'm sorry to hear about Stuffy's wings, though. I just love his TV character, and the little figure is a great likeness. Sounds like he gets a lot of attention from your niece.

      I'm also glad your Doc is singing her full song now. Despite myself, I like all of the songs on the show and find myself singing them in my head--or much to my family's dismay, out loud in the car or with my morning coffee. :D

  7. God I love Legally Blonde. I have that song in my head and I had to go watch the video of Laura Bell Bundy being a total boss when she kicked her shoe into the audience a bunch of times. Cause I'm a dork.

    Speaking of musicals, since I didn't know you were a musicals fan! With the Into the Woods movie coming down the pike this winter, what are your thoughts on dolls related to that? I can't lie... I'm more than a little apprehensive. Into the Woods is not a fashion doll type of Disney movie, it's so much the anti-fairytale-fairytale that it's hard to picture my gritty Cinderella as a fashion doll. Plus I'm just not sold on Anna Kendrick (don't get me started on the film version of The Last 5 Years). So I'm really... just not sure of this. I'd love to get your take on it.

    1. Well, let me start by saying that I'm not a very good musical fan. I like musicals a lot, but it's a relatively new phenomenon born out of my eldest son's love for musicals. He was in "Legally Blonde" last year and "42nd Street" the year before...and so I know those two musicals really (really!) well. :)

      I am hysterically obsessed with the Disney live action "Cinderella" slated for 2015, so I tend to just get irritated that "In the Woods" pops up when I'm trying to search for that. Seriously, though, I'm excited about the Woods movie and the inevitable dolls. I like Kendrick for Cinderella (pretty in a gritty way?), but I have only seen her in Pitch Perfect, boggling my mind with her cup-flipping. I agree that the dolls need to be careful. I hope they don't make them boring and vacant...and I hope the costumes are elaborate. The Maleficent doll was nice, and so I hope this is a good omen for upcoming releases that are on the serious/dark side. I'm guessing the Disney dolls will be in the $35-$40 range, though. Which is good and bad.

      Maybe I should try and watch the musical while I am waiting for the movie. Then I can speak more intelligently...

    2. Well, I'm obsessed with musicals, so I can surely help you should Into the Woods dolls come along!

      The upcoming movie pulls a lot of it's inspiration from the two outdoor productions of the show in London (which you can buy online here) and at Central Park. I very, very much love the Central Park production, which starred Amy Adams as The Baker's Wife, Donna Murphy as The Witch and Jessie Mueller as Cinderella. There's a bootleg clip of Jessie singing my favorite song from the show, "On the Steps of the Palace" here.

      My worry about the costumes being elaborate is that they're not overly so. With inspiration being pulled from the outdoor productions, they weren't particularly elaborate (Little Red ran around in jean shorts and a bike helmet. For most of the show, except when she was at the ball, Cinderella wore a ratty dress, glasses and Chuck Taylor All-Stars, etc.) So, I do very much worry about the Disneyfication of this musical, and there being too much of a departure from it's original intent. I'm going to go to it, of course, because it's my favorite musical of all time, I'm just cautiously optimistic at this point.

  8. I just love Doc McStuffins <3. The show has such lovely story lines and super cute catchy songs. I wish that my 2 year old daughter was more into it, but perhaps she is still a little young. She does get excited when she sees the merchandise in the shops. I much prefer the Disney Store dolls as her face is most like the TV character. Her hair is so disappointing though!! I think that it looks so cute up but how awful that you cannot take it down if you want to. What were they thinking?!

    1. Hi Nat Kat!! Oh, I know--what were they thinking with the hair?? I am actually quite sad that my Disney Doc's hair is down and un-fixable. She would be such a great doll for display, since thinking about the show makes me happy. I do think 2 is pretty young for TV--or at least that's the age where I remember wishing desperately that my son would watch Blues Clues for a half hour (so I could sleep!) but he got very easily distracted and wanted to get back to our games. You can always be like me and watch it at night without the kids. ;)

  9. Oh that Disney doll's hair is a disaster! So sad, because otherwise so darn adorable. I love your little videos, especially the one where the toys aren't behaving. ;)

    1. Hee hee...there were several takes of misbehaving toys, and I had to pick just one. :)

  10. Doubt if you will be back here but anyways...

    I fell totally in love with Doc McStuffins when she first came out. I would watch with DGD and have so much fun. She got a Doc doll that came with a small stuffed Lambie and both could talk and Doc sang. Never checked for the "try me" button! oops!

    On an unrelated note, where have you found clothes for your Zapf Cinderella doll? I have Sleeping Beauty and having a heck of a time finding clothe and no luck with shoes. Can she share shoes with another doll? If so, which one?

    My best,

  11. I don't understand why they made the doll version have straight hair. Texturism is an issue and and who ever made this doll carried out the concept that kinky hair is not good hair. It's so sad too because there are so many black girls who struggle to love their kinky hair.