Thursday, September 18, 2014

Princess Malucia from "Barbie and the Secret Door"

Like my previous reviews of the Kitty Surprise toys, this is a post that I didn't plan on writing.  During one of my "research" outings a few days ago, I saw a doll in the Barbie section that stopped me in my tracks.  I'd never seen this particular doll before, and she intrigued me to the point that I put everything else on hold so that I could take a closer look at her.  Judging by other pictures that are cropping up on places like Flickr, I am not alone in my reaction to this character.

Let me back up, though.  The doll I'm talking about is "Princess Malucia," the antagonist in the recently-released Barbie movie, Barbie and the Secret Door.  Why is this doll so interesting?  Well, she's a relatively new Barbie character with a new face, which is newsworthy enough, but the reason I had to buy her is that her face bears a striking resemblance to the Ever After High characters:

Barbie's "Princess Malucia" flanked by Madeline Hatter (left) and Poppy O'Hair (right).
In fact, when I first saw this doll in the Barbie section, my reaction was that she must be in the wrong area.  Then I wondered if she was a strange Ever After High knock-off?  The experience reminded me of when I first saw those La Dee Da copies in Edinburgh.  After a few seconds, it sunk in that this was a Barbie character that just happened to resemble Ever After High...which is not so shocking since both doll lines are owned by Mattel.  For some reason, though, I can't resist investigating this type of unexpected similarity.

Malucia is nine inches tall (smaller than the average Barbie doll), and costs $10.99.  She comes in very simple plastic blister packaging with a cardboard back:

I hadn't heard of the Secret Door movie when I first saw this doll, so it took me a while to figure out who she was meant to be.  In tiny white writing on the back of the box, right next to the large Barbie and the Secret Door decoration, it says "Princess Malucia™ Doll."

Barbie and the Secret Doll Name.
Malucia is the ten-year-old villain in the Secret Door movie.

There's a very small screen shot from the movie that shows what Malucia looks like, but you have to peer really close to see anything:

I rented Barbie and the Secret Door and took a few pictures of Malucia while I was watching.  As an aside, it's not a bad movie, but little Malucia unabashedly and thoroughly steals the show.  Her song, "I Want it All" is great.  It reminds me in concept of Veruca Salt's "I Want it Now" from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Anyway, here's Malucia as she looks in the movie:

She's very expressive, and has big emerald green eyes and bright purple hair with bangs:

Neither the doll nor the box graphics look anything at all like the movie character:

Having seen the movie, I really wish there was a doll who looked like Princess Malucia.  She'd be very unique and fun.

This doll comes with a pink crown and a matching scepter.  The scepter is a critical part of the movie plot, because Malucia is stealing everyone's magic and storing it in this staff. 

Barbie Princess Malucia doll

The scepter is molded in a translucent pink vinyl and does not have any contrasting colored decorations.  It only vaguely resembles the scepter in the movie.

Malucia's crown and dress don't look much like the movie, either.

The crown is made out of the same pink plastic as the scepter.  It is mounted on a headband and has a decorative extension that hangs over the doll's forehead:

Barbie Princess Malucia doll

The crown is held in place with a clear rubber band that can easily be stretched and cut.

Here's the crown on its own:

Unfortunately, removing the crown (at least the way I did it...) messed up Malucia's ponytail hairstyle:

I decided to just take her hair down right away and see if I could tidy it up.  She has an impressive volume of purple hair with pink streaks throughout.  The hair fiber is soft and shiny, and it feels great.  It's impressive hair for an $11 doll.  

The hair also has a lot of curl, so it's quite unruly when the ponytails are removed:

There is a rooted part down the back of the head.

Barbie Princess Malucia doll

This doll does not have bangs like the movie character, but I think that was a good choice.  Play doll bangs seldom look good to me.

I tied the hair into a single ponytail to get a better look at Malucia's face:

She looks much more mature with this hairstyle.

She has violet eyes with darker purple accents, which is completely inaccurate to the movie.  One of the reflective spots in her eyes is star-shaped, the other is a simple dot.  She also has very dark, long eyelashes and two layers of pink-toned eyeshadow.  It's a pretty grown-up face for a character who is supposed to be a spoiled young child.

Barbie Princess Malucia doll
Not the face of a ten-year-old.
These fantasy eyes and long, dark eyelashes remind me more of a La Dee Da doll than of the spunky, trouble-making Malucia character.

Not the face of a villain, either.

She has a small heart-shaped mouth with bright red lips and a sweet little smile:

The face has a clear resemblance to Ever After High dolls, and I'll look more closely at that in a minute, but I also noticed that the hands have a shape that's similar to Ever After High, too--with the two middle fingers pressed tightly together:

It's the inverse Vulcan salute.
Prosper and long live!
Here's Malucia's hand with two Ever After High hands:

Malucia's hand (left), Madeline Hatter's hand (center), Poppy O'Hair's hand (right).
Malucia's hand looks like a simplified and shortened version of the other two.  The basic shape is the same, but the detail is nowhere near as good.  The hand is also made out of hard plastic rather than the flexible vinyl of the Ever After High hands.

Let's take a quick look at Malucia's dress.  It's made out of very stiff fabrics and is all one piece.  There's a partial pink vinyl belt at the waist, and glitter all over the skirt (although not much glitter shedding, thank goodness).

The dress opens in the back at the top:

The puff sleeves are gathered with elastic, and the elastic is nice and loose (without looking loose), which makes it easy for many different dolls to get their hands through the sleeves.

The skirt has a bow print with lots of stars and glitter.  The hem is trimmed with blue tulle:

The dress is easy to get on and off and seems durable.  The mix of prints, colors and glitter is not really my taste, nor do I like the super-stiff fabric.  My biggest complaint about this dress, though, is that it doesn't look like the dress in the movie.  It actually looks more like an Ever After High dress, with it's eclectic patterns and Lolita style.   

Malucia's movie dress is really fun, frilly and layered.  The best picture I have of this dress is the screen shot on the box.  It gives at least a general idea of the design:

Some glitter, but no prints anywhere.
As you can see in the picture above, the movie Malucia is wearing flat purple shoes that resemble ballet slippers.  

The doll's shoes have very high heels and are molded in pink vinyl that matches the crown and scepter.  These shoes have flowers decorating the front and (like the movie shoes) butterflies on the back:   

The butterflies are cool.

There are also butterflies molded to the sides of the heels, but they're hard to photograph.

The pink hurts my eyes.
Underneath the shoes, Malucia has thick feet with arched soles.  In fact, her feet are almost as thick as her calves.  She cannot stand on her own unless she is wearing shoes:

Those are bizarre feet.
The seams along her legs are shiny with glue and not particularly well finished.

There's also a visible gap at the toe seam.
I put Malucia's shoes back on so that she could stand up and show off her articulation:

She has five points of articulation (neck, shoulders and hips).  One thing that's frustrating about this doll's resemblance to the Ever After High girls is that she doesn't move like the Ever After High girls.  Her neck joint wobbles a lot and can't look up or down very much. 

Her arms can hinge away from her body this far:

And the arms can also rotate all of the way around.  This movement allows her to raise her right hand over her head and touch her left hand to the side of her face and head:

As with the legs, the seams along the arms aren't very attractive, but at least there's no visible glue here:

Malucia has ball-jointed hips, but she can only do side splits to this extent:

She can do full front-back splits, though:

And she can sit on the ground pretty well, although her bent arm makes it a little hard for her to balance like this:

Her back is marked with a 2013 copyright and a "made in Indonesia" stamp.  She has a hard (glue-filled?) head to go along with that mark.

Malucia is about the same height as Barbie's Stacie, but their bodies are very different:

The small difference in height is probably just Malucia's taller shoes.
Stacie has broader shoulders and a wider chest. She also has rubbery legs with internal knee joints, and her hips are not as flexible.

Stacie can't really wear Malucia's dress.  It's very short...

...and it doesn't close in back:

Malucia can fit into Stacie's dress, though. Because this particular dress is meant to be tight on Stacie, it looks fine on Malucia's smaller frame:

Now, for the comparison I was most curious about!  I was anxious to see how similar Malucia is to the Ever After High dolls, and if perhaps she could make a good younger sister for these characters.

Here I have Malucia alongside "Getting Fairest" Madeline Hatter and Poppy O'Hair:

Malucia's body is quite different from the Ever After High bodies.  Not only is she far less articulated, but the shape of her features is different--and more childlike in proportion.  

The things that strike me as being similar between these two body styles are the contours of the long skinny necks, the shape of the legs, the position of the fingers, and the rough shape and design of the head and face:

Here are Madeline Hatter and Holly O'Hair's faces up close:

In comparison, Malucia has a more pointed chin, better-defined cheeks, and a smaller mouth with a full lower lip:

Here's Malucia next to Maddie:

And here are Holly and Malucia side-by-side in the same photograph, so you can get an idea of the difference in size and vinyl color:

Princess Malucia Ever After High

The resemblance is not as exact as I thought it might be, but the two faces are still very similar.  The biggest difference is in the mouth and chin shape, and in the painted style of the irises.  I can't get too worked up over the "copying" seen here, since it's just Mattel copying itself.  I guess the bigger issue for me is that it's depressingly unimaginative to just re-do the Ever After High face...especially when there's such a unique and interesting movie character that could have been used to inspire this doll's features.

Despite the large difference in head size, these dolls can actually share clothes.  Here's Maddie's nightie on Malucia:

The length is better on this doll than it is on Maddie!
And here is Malucia wearing Poppy's dress:

Malucia's dress is short on Maddie...

...and even shorter on Poppy, but it fits surprisingly well through the torso on both dolls.

I tried to get Malucia's hair back into its original ponytail style for the few last pictures.  The ponytails are pretty unruly and could use a good boil rinse.

I think Malucia makes a cute younger sibling for my Ever After High dolls--especially the purple-haired characters like Maddie and Poppy.  If she came on a higher-quality body with the same level of articulation as the Ever After High dolls (and maybe with normal-colored eyes and younger facial screening...) she'd be a wonderful little addition to that line.  

Princess Malucia Ever After High

Princess Malucia Ever After High

Bottom line?  Looking at Mattel's new Princess Malucia makes me imagine two dolls that I would love to see on the market.  First, I would be very interested in a doll that actually resembles the Malucia villain from the Barbie and the Secret Door movie.  Everything from that character's expressive face to her over-the-top dress could have translated into a fabulously unique doll.  Second, I think it would be great to see younger siblings for the Ever After High dolls.  If this Malucia's head had been attached to a higher-quality, better articulated body (maybe with slightly younger-looking features or face paint) she could have filled that niche beautifully.  As it is, this doll falls short of living up to either of these visions.  She doesn't capture any of Malucia's personality, and while she's more successful as an Ever After High sibling, her body and clothing are not quite up to the caliber of that line.

However, for $11 this doll is not a bad deal.  Her face is sweet and her hair is colorful, thick and soft.  Her body and dress seem durable.  I'm sure she will help some kids re-live the cute story from the Barbie movie, and there's currently no better younger sister option for the Ever After High dolls.  However, I have a hard time getting past the fact that when given a brilliantly bratty, show-stealing character as the inspiration for a new doll, Mattel simply punted and recycled an old idea.

Princess Malucia

*Update 9/19: I have had several questions about swapping Malucia's head onto an Ever After High body.  This is a neat thing to consider, but head removal is by no means my specialty.  I usually break dolls when I try to swap heads.  However, with the help of the wonderful tips on Roxanne's site, I managed to switch heads between Madeline Hatter and Malucia.  

This is what a headless Malucia looks like:

Simple peg connector.
Maddie's decapitated body looks much more intimidating.  There's a huge plastic spiky prong that sticks out of the neck.  I didn't take a picture of that because I was in a hurry to get Malucia's head in place.

I boiled both heads (to soften the vinyl) and then quickly did a head swap before the vinyl hardened again.  This is what I got:

I may not know much about head exchanges, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that Maddie's head does not work on Malucia's body:

It's a virtual planetoid!
Malucia's head on Maddie's body has more potential.  It can either perch on the very top of Maddie's neck (photos on the left side, below) or be pushed down over the ball at the top of the neck (right, below):

     Long, strange ball-top neck                               Short, less flexible pushed-down neck

I assume most people would prefer the head pushed down (the other option looks pretty ridiculous), but in this position, the doll can't move her head up and down.

Small price to pay.

The vinyl is not a perfect match with these two dolls (Malucia is paler with less of a yellow tinge), but it's the closest I could find among my Ever After High dolls.  I also think the taller Ever After High bodies might look too big for this head.

I don't know if I like this switch or not.  It's ok, but I'll probably put the heads back on their original bodies. What do you guys think?


  1. Kind of unrelated - but I'm really loving these spontaneous, unplanned reviews! Although I am still curious to find out what you have planned...

    1. Thank you, Sherry! This week has been a strange (but fun) one, that's for sure! :D I am looking forward to finishing my planned review--it's a neat doll and I just need to do her final photo shoot. I'll give you a hint that she's in the slim 18" scale. ;)

  2. Hi!That's sooo pretty! *^*

    I loved Barbie's movies,but now i seem boring and without argument...I had all in VHS and DVD and the last I had is Barbie in a mermaid tale 2,now I saw the newest at TV.Sorry for my English.

    Kisses from Spain!

    1. She is pretty, I agree. After watching Barbie and the Secret Door (and some of the Life in the Dreamhouse episodes), I would be interested in seeing the Mermaid Tale movies, too, or maybe one of the older ones? Do you have a favorite to recommend? These movies are very fun to watch while I am sorting through pictures! :)

    2. My favorite one is Princess and the Pauper. It has catchy songs and a very over the top villan. Rapunzel, Swan Lake, and 12 Dancing Princesses are also quite good.

    3. I have a soft spot for Magic of the Pegusus, for just what they got away with. Barbie tries to outright to kill the villian and the love interest gambled away his father's money and the fake outtakes and funny. Plus the sidekick is a polar bear.

  3. What a pretty doll Princess Malucia is! The pointy chin gives some character that I find to be missing from the EAH line.

    I wonder if somebody at Mattel had the brainstorm of "We should try to lure our EAH buyers to Barbie! Both lines have princesses! Natural crossover!" Otherwise, this design is just... odd. Judging from the screenshots, the original character looks to be at the same level/type of realism as Barbie's younger sisters, except for the big purple hair. I would have expected a purple-haired, slightly big-eyed doll on a Stacie body.

    If EAH decides to do younger sisters, they'd better be articulated!

    1. That's a really excellent observation about the chin. I also find the EAH faces a bit too round, and the defined chin is a nice change.

      The crossover idea is interesting--I hadn't given Mattel that much credit. I figured it was more of a "well, we already have a plan for this style of doll, let's just do that again." But I'll admit that's pretty cynical. It's actually not a bad way of luring collectors who prefer EAH into the Barbie section. It worked with me! ;)

      And yes, I totally agree. Malucia's head would be ok for an EAH sibling, but I'd sure expect a better body under that label. I mean, can you imagine all of the EAH characters sitting down for tea at Maddie's, but the little sisters all have their unarticulated legs sticking straight out from their chairs? Gah!

  4. Hi Emilly Maryann here! I saw Malucia yesterday but wasnt sure about i love her!i will tatally be getting her! Plz Emilly check out my previous comment on the previous post!

    P.S. i have seen the newer Movies and none seem as nice as the older Barbie movies i watched on my 6 i will watch that one though!

    1. Hi Maryann! I will go back and check out your earlier comment, sure! Also, maybe you have an older Barbie movie to recommend? I feel like I need to catch up a little bit. :)

    2. You should totally watch Barbie as the island princess,The diamond castle,Swan lake,Rapunzel,Princess and the pop star which is actually,a modernised version of the princess and the pauper which i recommend too and last but not least Mermaidia it would be nice to write a review rating and telling us your experiences with those movies :)


    3. Thank you for the suggestions, Maryann! That's a long list! I'd better get started... ;D

    4. I just watched the freaky fusion movie and i highly recomend. it too! ;D

  5. What a difference from the film version. This makes me wonder how much the other Barbie doll designs stray from their film counterparts. I initially wanted Malucia to look a bit more like an EAH doll so she'd fit in with them flawlessly, but there's something about her smaller head and the shape of her face that I prefer more. Now I wish EAH dolls looked more like her. I never understood why they made the heads so round.

  6. these would be a good idea for a younger child. i definatly am going to look out for one!

  7. The first thing I thought of when I saw that doll was how much she resembled the EAH dolls.

    Disney also did a song called "I Want It All," sung by the Sharpay character in High School Musical II. Yes, my daughter was a tween when the HSM movies were coming out.

    1. Honesty compels me to add that "I Want It All" is actually from HSM III. In HSM II, Sharpay wanted "fabulous." I think Sharpay and Malucia would have hit it off.

    2. LOL! Now you've admitted to watching all three movies, Barb. ;) Actually, now I should confess that I watched the first movie with no tween girls in the house whatsoever. It's a classic! I will have to see the other two so I can hear that song...

    3. My girls even had the HSM trivia game, and a few of the dolls. And I wanted to add that Sharpay even mentions Maine in "I Want Fabulous." I'm sure there are YouTube videos or something.

  8. HI! this is totally unrelated but are you still planning to review the lollipop girls dolls. the ones you mentioned in last years review from panama

    1. I still have them, but I keep putting off the review for some reason. Ah! I will try to get to that. Thank you for the reminder! :D

  9. I'm curious if she can swap head with the EAH-dolls. Her smaller head would be more in proportion to their bodies, and the extras articulation points would do her well. Please tell us if you decide to try!

    1. Oh, yes, that would be interesting!

    2. Good idea! I might try that. I am not the best with swapping heads, but I'll let you know what happens...

    3. Hi again, Pia and Katla...I tried head swapping! Not sure if it was a success or not. I added some pictures to the end of the review. Let me know what you think!

  10. I wonder how the Malucia head would look on Maddie's body, the "skin tone" looks like a pretty close match to me.

    I haven't seen this doll in stores, but I have been very tempted by the prince doll from the Secret Door line.

    1. They do match pretty well--Maddie is more yellow and Malucia more pink, but it's close. I might try a head swap if I get brave. I will add in some pictures to this review if it works!

      I didn't know that there was a prince doll from the movie! Haven't seen him in stores yet. Now I will have to keep an eye out. He played a very small role in the movie, but he was handsome! ;)

    2. Hi again Presto, I added some pictures of a head swap at the end of the review if you want to see how it turned out!

  11. "Ever After High sells and Barbie doesn't, so let's make a Barbie doll that looks like an Ever After High doll, and who cares if the doll looks nothing like the animated character because she will sell!!!!!", said the evil genius at Mattel.

    Too bad though. I would have loved if this young Barbie character was still recognizable as a Barbie character. I do love Princess Malucia as Poppy' s little sister, however.

    After your recent reviews of mini dolls, I thrifted some Barbie Kelly dolls, and now I have a small, small doll collection of Kelly and Chelsea dolls that I have already began sewing and crocheting for. Thank you!

  12. When I saw this doll a couple of weeks ago I thought exactly the same thing: Ever After High younger sibling! Side by side they do look more different than I thought though. As for the hands, I thought you were going to say "Don't live long OR prosper."

  13. They could have given Malucia so much character! I need a sarcastic-looking doll in my collection. :)

  14. I like the doll except for her long legs and stupid high heel feet. 10-year old girls need not be encouraged to ruin their feet.

  15. I think that she is very cute as a stand alone doll but it frustrates me when dolls don't resemble their TV/movie characters. Why do they play around with the dress designs when every one has a clear idea of what it should look like? I do love her size though. I will keep an eye out for the movie. It sounds interesting :)

  16. Hmmm, she's kinda cute and reminds me of a doll I had in the 90s.
    Oh, by the way, I found something really great to tame dolly hair without her loosing half of her hair: a tangle teezer :D
    It's really great for human hair and it also works with dolls too. I tamed my Rapunzel's hair with it :D

    Have a lovely day


  17. I saw this doll at TRU at the end of July and absolutely loved her, cute face, colorful hair, killer shoes like Monster High, bought her immediately and find myself playing with her all the time!

    I just bought the movie at Target (got a free mini Barbie with my purchase so color me happy!). When I watched the movie (which I really enjoyed, BTW) I was very surprised to see that the doll and the movie character had basically nothing in common! Even the scale is different. And you're right...Malucia is a force of nature and her song, "I Want It All" is a show stopper!

    I didn't pick up on the resemblence with the EAH dolls and even now after reading your review I still don't see it. But that could be because I'm not a fan of the dolls.

    Thanks for another excellent review! Your photos are always fabulous.

  18. już ją chcę - szkoda, że w Polsce jeszcze nie zawitała :(((

  19. Thank you for this review ! When I saw Malucia, the resemblance with EAH dolls was obvious, A cheaper version...
    The problem : in France, this doll is sold....25 euros = 32 $ !!!
    It's definitely not worth the price.

  20. I hope you switch Maddie's and Malucia's heads back, because this Frankenstein switch is quite unsettling on both dolls. Of course, it's your dolls, your choice, but they just look really freaky to me.

    I think it would have been really cool if doll-Malucia actually looked like movie-Malucia.
    I mean, I was excited, as this is most likely the first barbie villian to ever get any merchandise of their own, but now that I see what a mess Mattel made, I'm quite dissapointed.
    I mean, Monster and Ever After High have such great quality, so why would the same company make a cheap ripoff of their better lines?

    Also, doll-Malucia is not very age appropriate. No ten year old should be encouraged to wear heels that high, or makeup that mature. If even Barbie's sisters look and dress age appropriate, why not Malucia?
    Why didn't they just re-use one of the barbie sister molds, and make a new character head mold that looks like movie-Malucia?

    Rant aside, Malucia was pretty much the best part of the movie.
    Way to make a cheap ripoff of yourself, Mattel.

    As for the old barbie movies, Barbie in the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Rapunzel, and Princess and the Pauper were always my favourites. Pretty much since early childhood.
    Seeing as you meant to watch all these movies, I thought you might like a link to a site that has all the barbie movies.
    I hope you find it useful. :)

  21. Colour seems off with Maddie's body. She may look better on Lizzie's body. Also, a heading pad (ie electric blanket) is what I I use for head swapping. It is faster and you can retain the hair style and other features.

    I really liked this doll. She's a good price and she's cute and I have no desire to see the movie. I really want to have a few to reroot and repaint. She'd make a wonderful little red riding hood!

  22. As always, I love your review and how detailed you get. I think Malucia makes a great little sister for Maddie and Poppy. As you noted the head switch only worked 50%. Malucia's head was okay on Maddie's body, but not vice versa.I'm thinking 12 not 10 years old.

  23. I saw this doll at Toys R Us and definitely did a double-take! I marked it mentally as a "maybe later." After this review I think I'm going to have to go back and get her to be a "younger sister" to the EAH girls. I think she fits in well with them, especially with Poppy and Holly. Her dress reminds me of the vibrancy of Holly's while I can pretend that poppy has made her up for fun (since she looks a touch young to be that made up to me when compared to sleep Maddie).

    I think that the body switch actually works very well for her. Maybe in the future there will be a smaller EAH doll which will be a better color match. I think if you just look at the last shot she looks very proportionate--it makes me sad YET AGAIN about the huge EAH heads; they would've looked great around Malucia's size! Only think about the body switch is that I don't think she'd look as good displayed with the EAH dolls. Oh, well. Still fun to play around with. Thanks for the extra photos (and for tackling an experimental head swap)!

  24. Thank you for posting such a great article! I found your website perfect for my needs. It contains wonderful and helpful posts. Keep up the good work!

  25. What a coincidence! I was just looking at this doll the other day and wondering about upgrading her to a EAH body, since her head in my opinion looks like what the EAH heads *ought* to look like. Too bad Mattel can't stick to one type of neck connector... If you're in the mood for some DIY you could make the head fit better by carefully carving (or dremeling?) out the inside of the neck hole.

  26. She's so cute! I might have to do something about her articulation though... Maybe an Obitsu?

  27. I too agree that Malucia doll doesn't look like the one which is shown in the Barbie the secret door movie. Looking at her face, it is quite similar to EAH dolls. Thanks for the review.

  28. Hi, I comment just to tell Malucia can wear Howleen Wolf shoes ( Monster High).
    I try with my "Dance Class" Howleen, and it fit well.

  29. me pareció que la cabeza de malucia era un poco pequeña para ser hermana menor de EAH su cuerpo no me gusto mucho no tenia el aire de EAH ya que sus manos y brazos son mas delgados sin obviar que no era articulada en codos manos y rodillas si le borraran el maquillaje de la boca y le hiciesen uno mas pequeño y delicado talves pudiese ser la hermana menor de alguien en EAH