Monday, October 27, 2014

"Basic Patsyette" by Tonner Doll

Robert Tonner is one of my favorite doll designers.  A few of his Cinderella and Cami dolls rank among my all-time favorites.  However, it's been a while since I have reviewed a Tonner doll, and there's a great variety of new faces and characters to choose from right now.  For example: I am crazy about the Sheldon and Amy dolls from The Big Bang Theory collection, I'm thrilled to see the return of Tiny Kitty, and I'd absolutely love to have another Deja Vu girl in my house.  However, the rascal who grabbed my attention this time around is the 8 inch redheaded Patsyette.  With Tonner's high prices, this basic doll's relatively low $69.99 cost was also part of her appeal.

There's not a lot of information about Patsyette on the Tonner sales page.  She is introduced as "brand new" and credited to the Effanbee doll company (now owned by Tonner).  In fact, the Patsyette character has a rich history.  She was first produced in 1931 as the little sister of Effanbee's popular Patsy doll.  Patsyette was re-introduced in 2004 with a face sculpted by the original Patsy artist, Bernard Lipfert.  After another short retirement, the newest version of Patsyette debuted in 2014 with a brand-new face and the articulated Betsy McCall body.  While I have enjoyed all of the incarnations of Patsyette, it is the newest version of her face that I could not resist:

Tonner Basic Patsyette
"Basic Patsyette" by Tonner Doll, $69.99.
Like many Tonner dolls, Patsyette comes inside a cardboard box that's enclosed within a white shipper.  These dolls rarely get shipped in just the shipper, though.  My doll was mailed inside a brown mailing box about three times as large as the shipper.

This doll's inner box is light pink, with a very simple "effanbee" written across the front:

The doll is held securely inside the box with two white satin ribbons, the lower of which is padded with a rectangle of foam.  The packaging is very plain and the de-boxing could not have been any easier.

Little Patsyette is stable on her feet and can balance by herself:

Tonner Basic Patsyette

This basic doll comes in a very simple white stretch-knit jumpsuit with tights and vinyl shoes.  The tights look weird with the short jumpsuit, but it's nice to have them on hand as an accessory for other outfits.

I wanted this particular doll because of her hair and eye color, but it would have been a better financial decision to buy a non-basic doll.  My basic doll cost $70.  The non-basic, fully-dressed Patsyette dolls cost $90.  The outfit sets (dress, tights, shoes) on their own cost a whopping $80.  So, for me to have the doll I wanted with a full outfit would have cost $150.  That is too much.

Also...if the full outfits alone are worth $80, and the dolls with full outfits are worth $90, it suggests that the Patsyette doll herself is only worth about $10.  This would mean that my basic doll's simple outfit is responsible for $60 of her price...which is completely ridiculous.  

I tried hard to figure out a better rationalization for these unintuitive prices.  I noticed that the outfit-only sets have smaller edition sizes than the dressed dolls (250 as opposed to 500).  Also, the fabrics and designs on the outfit sets might be higher-quality than those on the dressed dolls.  My favorite outfits are, in fact, the ones that are sold separately.

Still, an expensive doll with affordable clothing makes much more sense to me than outfits with substantially higher price tags than their intended doll.

I definitely didn't buy this particular doll for her outfit, though.  I bought her because of this face:

Tonner Basic Patsyette

Patsyette has short bobbed auburn red hair with wispy bangs.  Her bangs looked pretty ragged and uneven right out of the box (see above).  The rest of her hair is nicely smoothed down with some judiciously-applied hair styling product.  The hair is pulled away from her face with two small ponytails, one of which is decorated with a black ribbon bow:

I trimmed the bangs a little and arranged them more evenly across Patsyette's forehead:

Tonner Basic Patsyette
This doll has very large, hand-painted green eyes that are glancing slightly upwards.  Her eyebrows match her hair color nicely and have some brushstroke detail.  She has serious, slightly pouty rosebud lips:

Tonner Basic Patsyette

Patsyette's jumpsuit is well-made, but it reminds me more of underwear or pajamas than of a full outfit for a child in this age range:

She looks three or four-years-old to me.
The edges of the neck, sleeves and shorts of the jumpsuit are decorated with delicate lace.  The slightly dropped waistline has a black ribbon sash that matches the hair bow.  The whole outfit is one piece and closes in the back with three metal snaps:

Under the jumpsuit, Patsyette is wearing white patterned fishnet tights and black dress shoes:

The tights have an elastic waistband and are easy to get on and off.

The molded shoes are made out of flexible vinyl and have a peg-and-hole strap than can be unfastened:

These shoes look fine from a distance, but closer inspection reveals rough edges and many molding imperfections:  

These are pretty unremarkable shoes compared to a lot of the doll shoes that I have seen.  The comparison that immediately leapt to my mind was with the older American Girl mini doll shoes, like Kit's sandals:

American Girl Kit's sandal.
These are so carefully made and detailed...and they came on a $25 doll.

Patsyette has the same body as Tonner's 8" Betsy McCall doll, a body which is has also been shared by the discontinued "Kickit" dolls, Santa's Little Elves, Luna's Little Martians, and probably some others that I am forgetting.  

This body has seven points of articulation (neck, shoulders, hips and knees):

This body has a curvy waistline that doesn't fit with what I would picture for a three or four-year-old child.  Also, the knee joints look top-heavy and ungraceful from the front, and the arms are too short.  The body is made out of hard plastic.  The color of the plastic is nice (Tonner's "bisque" skin tone) but the body is pretty lightweight, so Patsyette doesn't really feel like a $70 doll in my hands.

Patsyette has great head mobility.  Her neck joint was stiff at first, but with a bit of manipulation it can now look up, down, and even tilt to the side in an endearing way:

Her shoulders are rotating hinges with a ball-shaped joint:

She has quite a bit of detail molded into her hands on both sides:

Patsyette can move her legs forward at the hip really well, but the range of motion is not as good to the back.  For this reason, she cannot do full front-back splits:

She has no sideways movement in her hip joints whatsoever, and can't do side-to-side splits.

Her knees do not rotate, but they can bend to about 90 degrees, allowing her to kneel on one or both knees (if she leans backwards a little for balance): 

Patsyette can sit nicely on the ground with her legs out in front of her:

And she can also sit well in a chair:

The insides of her knee joints have some whitened signs of wear:

The sculpting in her feet is not as detailed as it is in her hands, but she has little toenails:

This doll's balance is good.  She can stand, sit and kneel without assistance, and she can hold a nice walking pose without toppling over:

I don't own any Betsy McCall dolls anymore, but I do still have this Kickit girl, "Little Mischievy:"

Patsyette (left) and Kickit "Little Mischievy" (right).
Little Mischievy retailed for $74.99 back in 2008.  You can see that she and Patsyette have the same body--Patsyette just has a different plastic and vinyl color.  I much prefer Patsyette's expression and eye shape:

I have had several Tonner child dolls through the years and I have never been completely happy with any of their faces.  Little Mischievy, above, is a great example of this.  She has nice hair and I love the color and style of her eyes, but her pinched expression has never won me over.  Patsyette's face, on the other hand, is pretty much exactly what I have been hoping for all of these years.

Patsyette fits perfectly into the Kickit clothing, and I love her in Mischievy's black and white sailor dress:

Tonner Basic Patsyette
Patsyette wearing a Tonner Kickit dress.
Patsyette is also similar in size to Helen Kish's Riley-sized dolls.  Here she is next to Jada (from Mary and Her Little Lamb, 2007) and Raggedy Riley (2006):

From left to right: Kish Jada, Tonner Patsyette, Kish Riley.
The Patsyette body looks strikingly hourglass-shaped and short-armed next to the more realistic child bodies of the Kish dolls.

The Kish girls have little tummies, and so Patsyette's knit jumpsuit stretches pretty tightly on them.  Riley-sized clothing is loose on Patsyette, especially in the waist and arms.  Dresses work ok, but Riley's pants are too tight on Patsyette.

Kish Jada and Tonner Patsyette trading clothes.

Tonner Basic Patsyette

My Raggedy Riley tends to wear this little blue embroidered Boneka dress (made for 7" dolls), which fits Patsyette nicely:

Patsyette in a Boneka dress.
Here's Patsyette next to a range of mini dolls from American Girl and Our Generation:

American Girl Rebecca, BeForever Kit, Patsyette, Our Generation Sienna.
Patsyette is slimmer in the waist and taller than these girls.  She can fit into their clothes, although the dresses are too short and the pants and skirts are loose.

Patsyette in American Girl BeForever Kit's dress.

Patsyette in Our Generation Sienna's outfit.
The American Girl and Our Generation mini dolls can wear Patsyette's jumpsuit, too:

AG Kit in Patsyette's jumpsuit.
Patsyette is also similar in height to the Paradise riding dolls I recently reviewed.  Unfortunately, the Paradise clothing is too tight for Patsyette.

Yep.  I got the redheaded Paradise rider, too.
For a few more reference points, here's Patsyette next to Licca-chan and Lottie:

Left to right: Licca-chan, Patsyette, Lottie.
For some reason I have completely lost all of my Lottie clothes at the moment (I tried out a new storage system, and you know how that can go!), but I don't think those clothes would be big enough for Patsyette, anyway.  

Surprisingly, my Licca-chan's dress looks pretty nice on Patsyette, although I don't think clothes-sharing between these two dolls would be at all reliable.

Patsyette in Kindergarten Licca-chan's outfit.
I first became interested in 8 inch dolls like Kish's Reilly and the Tonner Kickits about ten years ago.  At this time, my collecting was focused mostly on 16 inch Tonner fashion dolls, and I loved the idea of having child dolls in the same scale--so that I could create little families.  None of the 8 inch dolls I had back then ever quite fit the bill, though.  Reilly and her friends came the closest, but they still didn't blend with my Tonners quite the way I wanted.

I was very anxious to see how this new Patsyette would look with some of my beloved 16 inch Tonner girls.  Here she is with the redheaded Christine Daae, Tonner's Phantom of the Opera character with the Cinderella face mold:

Patsyette's facial features are pretty big compared to Christine's, but the painting style, body type and hair are a great match:

Christine Daae and Basic Patsyette
Tonner's Christine Daae with Basic Patsyette.
I just love Christine Daae, so here are a few more shots of her:

I paired Patsyette with a few more of my Cinderella dolls, and all of them look good with her, but the character who ended up spending the most time with little Patsyette was (surprisingly) Deja Vu's Penelope Brewster.  

Penelope was reluctant to engage with this little tyke at first...

But Patsyette has an endearing persistence that is apparently quite hard to resist:

Penelope Brewster and Basic Patsyette
Is this how you hold one of these things?
Penelope Brewster and Basic Patsyette
Whoa.  You're actually pretty cute.
Even after agreeing to hang around with Patsyette, Penelope drew the line at actually playing an imaginary game with her...

No, no, that's fine--you play, I'll watch.
However, once again, Patsyette's persistence eventually broke down Penelope's lofty resistance, and the two were soon engrossed in an epic stuffed animal adventure with Patsyette's two favorite toys.

Penelope Brewster and Basic Patsyette
So, wait.  Does the Tiger Prince know that Snowflake likes him?
After that, there was simply no separating these two.

Penelope Brewster and Basic Patsyette

Penelope Brewster and Basic Patsyette

I really like Patsyette in the Our Generation dolls' modern clothing.  Even though some of the pieces are a bit loose, the styles and soft fabrics on these clothes are nice--especially given that they're taken from $10 dolls. 

Tonner Basic Patsyette

Patsyette in OG Kendra's outfit.
Update: thanks to Smaller Places' excellent observation about their facial similarities, here's a comparison between Patsyette and the Moxie Girlz mini doll, Tally.  

These two both have upward-glancing, oversized green eyes:

What a difference the hand-painting makes, though!
Here's Patsyette back in her original outfit for a few more pictures:

Tonner Basic Patsyette

Tonner Basic Patsyette

I think my favorite outfit for Patsyette is the Kickit sailor dress.  It's especially neat that the black ribbon trim on the dress perfectly matches Patsyette's hair ribbon, and Patsyette's white tights and black shoes happen to coordinate perfectly with the dress:

Tonner Basic Patsyette

Bottom line?  I really love this doll.  I think she's adorable--mostly because of her endearing face.  She has a soulful expression and lovely hand-painted eyes with great color and depth.   I also like the color and cut of her saran hair, and only take small issue with the uneven and unruly shape of her wispy bangs.  It is hard to keep this part of her hair looking good, making me think that she didn't really need bangs at all.

Patsyette has pretty good articulation, but given the superb movement of some of the larger Tonner dolls, I wish there had been a few upgrades to the old Betsy McCall body.  For example, the lack of sideways hip movement and the absence of elbow articulation are particularly noticeable.  Adding these two joints would have made a timely improvement to a well-balanced body.  Given that the body is fairly lightweight and plastic, I also think that better articulation would help justify Patsyette's price.  The doll looks great dressed, but when she's undressed there are a few minor body proportion problems.  The arms are short and the torso shape is more slim and curvy than I would expect for a three or four-year old child (which is how I imagine this character).

The clothes on this doll are nicely made, but they're plain enough that my first thought was to find her something prettier to wear.  I am fortunate to have a Kickit sailor dress that fits her perfectly, but I suspect that many collectors who buy this doll will immediately seek outfits that flatter her better than the simple, stretch-knit jumpsuit she comes with.  I found the molded black shoes in her ensemble especially disappointing--they're no better than the shoes on most $20 play dolls.  Because Patsyette comes in such a plain outfit, I find this doll's $70 price difficult to justify.  Furthermore, the outfit sets that are sold for Patsyette are even more expensive than the basic doll ($80), making them something I will not consider--no matter how lovely they look.  I would be much happier with $70 dressed dolls and a selection of $30-40 outfits.  

For me, one of the best things about this doll is that her size and facial features make her a wonderful child for the 16 inch Tonner dolls.  After years of settling for dolls like Kish's Riley or Tonner's Betsy that don't quite match in style or scale, it's really fun to have found such a good fit for my Tonner families.  What would make Patsyette even more compatible with the larger Tonner dolls is if she had better articulation.  As I posed Patsyette with Penelope Brewster, there was a clear inequality in what these two dolls could do.  

As much as I like Tonner dolls in general, the child dolls from this company have never completely won me over--until now.  Patsyette's wide eyes and expectant little face had me hooked at first glance.  I don't think the pricing or the articulation on this doll are ideal just yet, but a few small changes would make a big difference.  For the moment, Patsyette's captivating face is enough to make me see past her flaws and keep a hopeful eye on this line's future.

Tonner Basic Patsyette


  1. How does Patsyette get along with the Moxie Girlz minis? Her face is reminding me of them, but I could easily be hallucinating from insufficient coffee.

    She's completely adorable with Penelope!

    1. I think you're right! There's definitely something similar in the eyes. I will run and get a picture of the two of them for you. Excellent idea--especially if you're operating on a coffee deficit! ;D

    2. Thank you for the new photos! Yep, I'm not imagining it -- when they're together, it looks like Patsyette is being gracious about a large doll that's meant to look like her.

    3. You are very welcome! It does look like Patsyette is humoring someone, doesn't it! So glad you made this suggestion!

  2. Cute! It's too bad hat she's not better articulated.

    1. Yes, I totally agree, Noelle. Just a few upgrades to the articulation would be SO nice...

  3. I really like the style of the eye painting on this doll - cute, but not too cute, if that makes sense.

    I'm not generally a huge fan of this style of child doll, but seeing your photos of her with the 16" dolls certainly sells her as a lovely accessory piece for them, which wouldn't have occurred to me to look for before!

    1. I get what you mean about the eyes! It's my favorite of her features. In general, I feel like a doll's eyes are the most critical detail, and Tonner tends to do them very well.

      I think my fascination with doll families must carry over from my youth, when all of my toys (horses, stuffed animals, dolls...) had to be part of a family. I am not quite as fixated on this now, but I like how you describe Patsyette as a great accessory. She certainly adds to the personality of the larger dolls in a neat way--just like a good accessory!

  4. Awesome! I would love to own this doll =) She is so beautiful and unique and looks amazing =) I also like the style of the face and the face mold. So realistic!

    I'm not really liking her body style, since kids aren't realistically skinny like that, but it's just an art style =P The doll also looks like she could be the child of Christina Daae and Penelope could be the teenage babysitter!

    1. Yes!!! You hit the nail on the head! She should be Christine's daughter because of the physical resemblance, but Penelope is the awesome babysitter! I love it! :)

    2. Thanks =D I really love the doll and wish I could get her despite her $70 price =P And Christine looks awesome. Dress her in some regular clothes, put Patsyette in her arms and you got Mother and Daughter! (Sorry for late answer)

  5. Emily could you do a review on Mini Anna wardrobe set?

    1. That's an interesting idea. I do own this set...maybe I could do a short follow-up review to the Elsa version? Is it the Anna doll in particular that you're curious about, or the whole set?

    2. I'd love it too. I think I'm the only one who wants those wardrobes and cares nothing about the dolls. ;)
      -different anon

  6. I've also found her gorgeous face extremely enticing, but have been totally put off by the price, and lack of articulation. Thank you for doing this review. As adorable as she is, I don't like this body at all, especially the chunky thighs (got my own to contend with). As you say, this body is overdue an update so I'll wait and see what happens.

  7. So cute, I'm always temped by the 10" Patsy dolls

  8. I'm new to the world of doll collecting, but is that an acceptable paint job for a $70 doll? Her eyes look poorly painted, although her expression is sweet.
    As a side note, I love your blog!!

  9. Yay you did a Patsyette! I love these little gal's, they're just so darn cute! I mean look at their faces, I bet they'd look good next to an Ellowyne. I just wish that they were less than what they are, the price seems a little too high for me. I think if they would add some arm articulation, they'd be all set! I really don't like stiff arms. Oh! And. K love! Your Christine Daae doll, shes so pretty! Ive never seen that tonner doll. You been holding out on us? Haha

  10. Great review, I also have an 8" Tonner doll, Betsy, that is currently wearing Licca clothing.

  11. You have such a talent for doll posing..I love the shots of them playing with the stuffed animals! I especially LOVE that Christine doll...she is gorgeous! I am also very fond of the Tonner Cinderella facemold. Great review! This doll looks like she was a lot of fun to play with and I think she looks really cute in Kendra's outfit :)

  12. Aww she's so cute! The thing that first struck me was that she resembles Cinderella/cami a lot! Hr arms are very short, and she has an awkward body shape, but her face is so cute! Once again, a faboulous review.

  13. I must say that I think Tonner's prices on all their doll clothes are too high. It prices many out of the market to buy anything. I love the Kick-It dress on Patsyette and love Patsyette but agree that for the price, she should have more articulation and nicer clothing.

    I have Patsys and Ann-Estelles, but very few of the old Patsyettes. I must say I like this version so much better than the one from 04-05. I love how well she goes with other dolls in the Tonner line.

    I also agree that Patsyette might be a little slim in the tummy, but I've seen a lot of 3-4 yr olds that thin. I have always thought the Kish small dolls have too big a belly, like it's distended. I love them anyways though. LOL!

    Maybe, someday, Tonner will see what they are doing with the outfit prices and adjust them some. It's a pet peeve of mine when companies start thinking they are doing you a favor by selling you something. I love the Wilde Imagination line but I was more than a tad upset when I saw they change a handling and processing fee on top of a fairly hefty shipping charge. That just seems a bit cocky to me. Charging me for selling me an expensive doll that if no one bought, you wouldn't need a processing fee because you wouldn't "be" in business? {okay--rant over}

    Emily--love your new doll friend and at least you can get her outfits for $10 or less through OG, but that Kick-it dress is absolutely adorable.

  14. I LOVE your reviews Emily! It's great how you always add a bit of humor to them. P.S. Where did you get those spectacularly cute mini stuffed animals? (the tiger prince and snowflake)
    Yours truly,

  15. Nice review! it's neat to see all of these mini dolls together for comparison. When ever I get a new doll I always love to try on lots of outfits to see the differences.

  16. So cute!!!! I want her! First, though, I want Maudelynn Macabre. Do you think that the two would be compatible???

    -Morgan .B

  17. Hello Emily! I just want to suggest reviewing a Disney Animators doll. They are toddler princesses and I'm thinking of getting one. Thanks, and I hope to see more of your amazing reviews!

  18. I love these dolls. I have two already (this one as well as the blonde that came in the frilly blue dress), and will be getting a third one later this year when the new ones come out. I totally agree with everything you said in the review. I fell in love with their faces, but I really wish their bodies would get an upgrade. They at LEAST need better arms. I hate their arms and really wish their legs swung out at the hips, but their faces are so beautiful that I can forget about their not-perfect bodies.

  19. Have you seen the old Tonner Kripplebush Kids (or maybe it's Kipplebush, can't remember). I have two of those (one is a redhead) that I still think are the best kid-looking dolls from Tonner. Not articulated, though.

  20. She has a lovely face! You have outdone yourself in this review. I need to keep repeating... I don't need a new doll right now... I don't need a new doll right now... I don't...

    I'm wondering how she would look with the painted eye Ellowynne?

  21. thank you for sharing this with me... I really enjoyed looking at everything... I collect Brenda Starr - 16 inch dolls, 12 inch the first 1960s about. and the last one bendable limbs. I have Tonners, Alexanders, --16 inch / 17 inch dolls, 22 inch American Model dolls also. This was such a treat to view... Thank you again.. She such a cute little doll. I don't collect Barbies, use to sew for them when my Nieces were very young... hard to sew for. I bought a doll 2006 or so that was sold as Brenda Starr daughter .. she is in a high chair along with my Brenda Starr and Basil father.. thanks again... loved it...

  22. After reading your review, I wanted to own my own Patsyette, and started searching around online. I discovered I had all of the Effanbee Wizard of Oz dolls, and I had no idea they were even Effanbee.