Friday, May 15, 2015

"Frozen Fever" Anna and Elsa Dolls--A Comparison Review!

After limping along for a few months, my valiant six-year-old computer finally reached the Point of No Return.  It might have--just a thought--had something to do with the 28,000 photographs stored on its hard drive.  Anyway, I have been transitioning to a newer computer over the past few weeks.  I knew this would be a challenge (let's just say I'm not someone who thrives on change...) but it was trickier than I expected.  The biggest hurdle was to move from my ancient iPhoto software to a fancy modern photo processing program.  You might notice a few changes and quirks as I continue to get used to all of these new-fangled things.

I probably should have written a few shorter reviews as I got accustomed to my new set-up, but a side-effect of my aversion to change is that I pretend everything is going to stay the same...and I don't plan ahead.  I just stubbornly do what I would have done in a never-changing world.  Basically, I was really looking forward to writing this Frozen Fever comparison review and didn't want to compromise. took me a while to finish.

Both Mattel and the Disney Store made Anna and Elsa dolls for the Frozen Fever short film that accompanied the recent Cinderella movie.  I loved this short film--especially when I was watching it in a movie theater full of little kids.  The giggling was contagious.  I really wanted to have a doll souvenir from this cute film--like I do for most Disney movies.  I typically prefer the Disney Store versions of movie-themed dolls, but when I saw that Mattel had changed their Frozen dolls for this release (Anna has a really different face mold) I thought it would be fun to do another comparison.

Mattel's Frozen Fever Elsa (left) and Anna (right), $14.99 each.
For those who have not seen Frozen Fever yet, I snapped a few screenshots from Disney's official trailer so that you can see how Anna and Elsa look in this short.  I figured it would help us gauge the accuracy of the dolls' outfits and hairstyles.

Here's the scene at the beginning where Elsa makes Anna's dress fancier:

The short has a single song, "Making Today a Perfect Day," and while I didn't think much about this song while I was watching the film, it's actually quite catchy and was running through my head constantly as I wrote this review.  It has this refrain, I'm making today a perfect day for you, which is super-fun to rhyme.  It seems like the songwriters must have had a blast with this one.

Here's a decent shot of the back of Elsa's dress and the back of Anna's hair:

e   We're singing a birthday song to make your wishes come true! e
This next picture really only shows the very tops of the dresses (especially Anna's brooch and Elsa's jeweled neckline), but I love the expressions on the girls' faces:

e    We're making today a smiley face all shiny and new! e
You can also see that Elsa is wearing her classic hairstyle, but has a few purple flowers in her single braid (neither of the Elsa dolls have these little flowers).

This shot is ok of both outfits--nicely showing how Elsa's train is transparent.  You can also see the braided hair on the top of Anna's head.

e    We're making today a perfect day for you! e
Now we're ready to look at the dolls.  The Disney Store dolls come in a boxed set of two, but the Mattel dolls can be purchased separately.  I will look at the Mattel dolls first and then review the Disney Store set at the end.

The Mattel dolls cost $14.99 each and can be found on the shelves of stores like Toys R Us and Target.  This price is the same as most of the Disney Store's single Classic Princesses, with the exception of the Frozen dolls (which are $16.95).

Anna and Elsa come in identical packaging:

Mattel's Frozen Fever dolls.
The hourglass-shaped boxes are mostly plastic but have decorative cardboard backs:

The art at the bottom of the boxes is from the original Frozen movie--it has not been updated for the short.  The dolls are called "Birthday Party Anna" and "Birthday Party Elsa."

I love how Olaf is peeking up from the bottom!
I will look at Anna first, and then Elsa.

The back of Anna's box is also decorated with pictures from the original movie--with the princesses wearing their familiar winter outfits:

Anna is very well-displayed in her box, so it's easy to see what the new face looks like right away:

I don't think this face looks much like the movie character.  Also, the hair has been changed to a two-toned strawberry blonde color that is not movie-accurate.

It's hard to find a clip of Anna smiling like this, but here's one from the original Frozen movie:  

I see very little likeness.  What do you guys think?

The plastic portion of the box was attached to the cardboard with a series of tabs that had to be unfastened.  This was easy.  

Anna appeared to be attached to the cardboard with only two loops of plastic (one around her waist and one around her ankles)...

...but of course she also had more than her fair share of plastic ties in her head and at the edges of her skirt.  Actually, this doll had six (six!) plastic ties in her head.  I think that's a new record.  Here's the evidence:

Like target practice.
Something must have malfunctioned at the factory, too, because in addition to the ties that held her in place, my doll had four more plastic ties randomly sticking out of the back of her head (not attached to the cardboard at all).  One of these might have been to hold the hair ribbons in place, but the other three had no function whatsoever.  Just a special gift for me:

e     We're making de-boxing extra fun for you!  e
My other de-boxing disappointment was the discovery that this Anna isn't wearing tights...her legs are green:

Minty fresh.
I am never in favor of perma-tights on dolls.  It seems so much better to just leave the legs bare.  No one would have minded Anna's lack of tights, Mattel.  Promise.

Once my green-legged Anna was removed from the box, I could get a good look at the cardboard backdrop--it's a scene from Arendelle:

This is a slightly different scene from what was on the original Mattel Frozen boxes.
Here's Anna, out of the box and standing very nicely on her own:

This doll's unique face mold is what drew me to her initially, but it was her outfit that stole my attention right out of the box--and not just because of those mint green legs.   

Anna has a fully-printed skirt, a separate vest, and a fairly detailed hair decoration.  These days, when so many of Mattel's Barbie and Disney dolls seem to have simplified (or molded) clothing, little touches like this are great to see:

I wanted to remove the outfit and inspect it more closely right away, but I forced myself to slow down and take a good look at Anna's unusual face first:

She has side-glancing eyes with baby blue irises that are surrounded by a darker royal blue rim.  The movie Anna has turquoise eyes with a lot of green in them, so blue is an atypical color choice for this character.

The reflective markings in the eyes are also unusual: there's a traditional white dot in the upper left quadrant of each eye, but there are also two rectangles of white below each pupil.  I think the rectangles look a little odd--especially in Anna's left eye.  I'd love to see how the eyes would look without these markings.

Anna's cheeks are covered in light brown freckles and she has matching brownish-red eyebrows.  Even her eye shadowing and lower eyelashes are light brown.

She has a toothy smile that's pretty engaging, although there's something about the bulge in the lower lip that doesn't seem consistent with a wide smile to me.

In these extreme close-ups of Anna's face, you can see quite a few shiny areas.  This is residue from the hair styling product.

The hair needs a large amount of styling product to keep its gravity-defying shape.  The back of Anna's hair is lifted up into a curled bun.  This area of the hair is rock hard.  There's also a small twist of hair that runs across the top of Anna's head which looks very pretty:

At the back of the curled bun, there's a small fabric sunflower decoration that is attached to three blue satin ribbons.  This also looks really nice:

Anna has very thick, short, blunt-cut bangs.  I am not a fan of heavy bangs on dolls, but this style is quite accurate to the movie:

Still, I wanted to get the bangs out of the way so that I could see the entire face clearly.  I looped a rubber band around Anna's head and used it to pull the bangs back:

Do those eyebrows make her look slightly angry?  Crazy?
The bangs were not rock-hard like the back of the hair, but they did have their fair share of styling product...making it hard to get them to lay flat again after removing the rubber band: 

I will take Anna's hair down at the end of the review, but I wanted to leave it up for as long as possible--just in case it looked awful without the bun.

For now, let's look at Anna's dress:

Here's one of the screenshots again for a little reminder of what the movie dress looked like:

Overall, the Mattel dress is a very good replica.  In fact, I feel like the dress is the biggest (only?) reason why this doll is clearly recognizable as Anna from Frozen.  

The skirt on the dress is not as full as the skirt in the movie, and the decoration on the bodice is a little bigger on the doll dress than it is in the movie, but otherwise most of the details are great:

The vest is separate from the dress and is made out of a thin sueded material.  All edges of the vest are left unfinished.

The back of the vest has a flower pattern, but the fabric on my doll's vest is wrinkled, so the pattern is obscured.  I wasn't able to flatten the wrinkles out with just my fingers.  Maybe a warm iron will help?

Or maybe just melt the vest?
The vest is not the best part of the outfit, but at least it is separate from the dress and can be removed.

Underneath the vest, the dress has a yellow high-collared blouse with a printed brooch:

It is made to look like there's a satiny blue corset over the blouse, but the entire top part of the dress is actually cut from one piece of fabric--the differently colored areas are printed.  The gold braid that trims the corset section helps disguise the fact that the pieces are not actually separate. 

The skirt is made out of a stiff, shiny blue fabric and has a summery printed hem:

I love the little bees that appear on the left side of the dress:

Because the dress is all one piece it is very easy to get on and off.  

Anna is wearing dark blue high-heeled shoes.  These are not like Anna's slippers from the movie, but they fit the doll's fashion feet well and help her stand.  The shoes come attached with clear rubber bands:

This looks so Wicked Witch to me....
These shoes have a bit of metallic sheen in the dark blue plastic.  There's also a faint molded decoration on the toe of each shoe:

This doll cannot stand up without her shoes, so I put them back on for her body shots.

Anna has a hard plastic body with only five points of articulation.  Her green legs go up to her hip joints...and then stop abruptly.  The green legs would look more like tights if the underwear region was painted to match.  As it is, Anna looks like she's wearing a skin-colored, long-sleeved leotard over a pair of green tights:

There's a molded pattern on the skin-colored underwear, making the whole thing even more confusing.

In any case, Anna has great neck articulation.  She can move her head all of the way around, tilt it to the sides, and look up and down.  This style of neck joint works with the side-glancing eyes to give Anna a lot of personality.

Anna's shoulder and hip joints are both rotational hinges, but they have limited hinge movement.

Anna can do full front-to-back splits, though, and lift her arms straight above her head:

e    Watch while I do a perfect front split for you! e
When she sits on the floor her legs stay fairly close together and her hands lay nicely against the ground, however, she would not be very graceful sitting in a chair. 

When the Frozen dolls first came out, I did a quick comparison review of the Mattel Anna and the Disney Store's Anna.  Here's the Mattel Anna from that review so you can see how the face has changed with the Frozen Fever release:

"Sparkle Princess" Anna (left) and "Birthday Party" Anna (right).
I don't think either doll looks much like Anna, but the older doll comes closer.  The newer face seems more realistic to me, but I prefer the older face's eyes and closed-mouth smile.  Other things I like about the new face are the side-glancing eyes (they add a lot of personality) and the paint style of the eyelashes.  The newer Anna also looks less vacant.

Mattel's "Sparkle Princess" Anna (left) and "Birthday Party" Anna.
I like the silky hair and hair color of the older doll better than the streaked, hard-as-rock hair of Frozen Fever Anna.  Also, the older doll's eye color is more accurate to the movie.

I think the older face with side-glancing eyes would be adorable.

I much prefer the newer doll's body, though.  The first Anna's molded, glittery bodysuit seriously limits her redressing options.  Even with her green frog legs, the newer Anna is more versatile.  

All of the ingredients for a nice Anna are right here....but they're not all on the same doll.  If I could swap the legs and heads on these two torsos, I'd have one Anna that I was quite happy with.

e         I'm gonna start swapping body parts, you two!  e
These two dolls are based on the same basic body shape, so they can actually share clothes to some degree:

The problem is that the first Anna's molded clothing makes the Frozen Fever dress very tight...with long, clashing sleeves:

And the original Anna didn't come with a removable top for the Frozen Fever doll to share.  She tried to cover up a little bit with her own vest...but it doesn't quite do the trick.

Aladdin couture?
Here are a few more pictures of the Mattel Frozen Fever Anna back in her original outfit:

The only other Mattel Elsa doll that I've purchased is Musical Magic Elsa--I never bought the Sparkle Princess doll that goes with my Anna.  My relative inexperience with these dolls made me even happier to get my hands on the Frozen Fever Elsa.

This doll comes in exactly the same kind of box as Frozen Fever Anna...but the dolls don't share much beyond that.

Elsa has vibrant face paint that's done in a very different style from that of her sister:

Birthday Party Elsa

Elsa also didn't have six plastic ties in her head--just two.  And she had an extra loop of plastic around her braid.  She was a little easier to get out of the box.

Elsa stands fairly well on her own, but not as well as Anna.

Birthday Party Elsa

This Elsa has her platinum hair in a single braid, but the hairstyle has a few little details that make it fancy.

Birthday Party Elsa

In the back, there's a section of hair at the top of the head that's gathered into a small ponytail right before it enters the braid:

The braid itself feels pretty soft, but the curl at the end is plastered with hard styling gel.

There's also a pink fabric flower with a glittery snowflake accent plastic-tied into the right side of the head:

And there's a curl of bangs on Elsa's forehead that's actually rooted into the head at both ends so that it can't move:

Elsa has a pretty face with vivid coloring.  Her large eyes are bright blue and are framed with dark eyelashes and two shades of purple eyeshadow.  Her eyebrows are solid dark brown and her lips are an almost neon shade of deep pink.

Birthday Party Elsa

It's interesting to me how dissimilar the painting style is between Anna and Elsa.  Anna has different eye shape, different reflection marks, different eyebrows and slightly different eyelashes:

This Elsa's face is also quite different from my Musical Magic Elsa.  I don't actually know where that doll is at the moment (toy drive, maybe?) but I did manage to find an old photograph of her to show in comparison:

I vastly prefer the look of the new Elsa.  Her eyes have a more natural slant and her face is so much more lively and attractive.  My hat is off to Mattel for this improvement.  The style of the newer eyes is a little familiar, though--maybe some eye-painting tricks have crossed over from the Monster High line?

As with Anna, the side-glancing eyes also add a lot to this doll's personality:

Birthday Party Elsa

None of the screenshots I took from Disney's trailer were clear enough to see much of Elsa's dress, and my memory of it isn't great.  Here's a little snippet from a screenshot I found circulating online:

Perhaps the biggest difference between the doll's dress and the dress in the movie is the color palette. The movie dress is a beautiful emerald green.  The Elsa doll has a lot more blue in her dress--it's a deep teal color with a variegated skirt.

To simulate the asymmetrical petal pattern on the dress in the movie, this doll's dress has an angle-cut bodice made out of a patterned fabric.  Also, the neckline of the dress is made out of glittery tulle to replicate the jeweled neckline in the film:

I am not wild about the cut and print of the bodice on this dress.  It strikes me as more cheesy 80s than Disney Princess.

The back of the bodice is made out of the same fabric as the skirt and closes with a generous velcro seam:

The patterned part of the bodice is sewn into the rest of the dress at the sides, but the bottom edge is loose--as though it was a separate piece:

The skirt of the dress is made out of a synthetic knit with a bit of stretch in it.  There's a high slit on the right side:

The dress train is made out of blue tulle decorated with pink glittery flowers.  It looks very nice and is reasonably soft and flowing (with the exception of the flower areas, which are stiff from the pink paint and glitter):

Elsa's shoes are made out of bendable vinyl.  The heels are especially bendy because of their thin structure.  This is the reason why Elsa doesn't stand up on her own quite as well as Anna.

The shoes also tip backwards a little on their flimsy heels:

Elsa's body is similar to Anna's in many ways.  It is made out of hard plastic and has straight arms and five points of articulation:

But she does not have green legs...thank goodness.
Elsa has essentially the same body as my Cinderella bride doll, except that Cinderella's skin tone is darker and her arms are bent in a more expressive way:

"Birthday Party" Elsa and "Cinderella Wedding Day" (Mattel).
Elsa is taller than Anna and has wider hip region.  The two dolls have the same arm and leg shape, but Anna's limbs are shorter.

The different torso shapes are the biggest obstacle to clothes-sharing between these two.  Anna's dress is too tight and too short in the torso for Elsa, and Elsa's dress is a little baggy and long on Anna.  The shoes can be shared, though:

Mattel's Anna can share clothes with the Disney Store dolls a little bit better than this, but not perfectly.

I don't know whether the Anna doll is shorter and skinnier than Elsa because that's her character's body type (Anna is the shorter sister in the movies...) or because those features are supposed to make her look younger.  With the girls estimated at 18 (now 19) and 21 years old, I think they'd be pretty much done growing at this point.

The construction of Elsa's dress makes it a little tricky to put back on--Elsa's legs get stuck in between the skirt and the bodice like this:

Tarzan couture?
Here are a few more pictures of Elsa with her dress back on the correct way:

Birthday Party Elsa

Birthday Party Elsa

Birthday Party Elsa

And here are the Mattel sisters together.  I like how they can look right at each other:

Mattel's "Birthday Party" Elsa and Anna, from Frozen Fever.

This little Mattel Olaf character (who sings In Summer) is about the perfect size to go with them!

I bought the Mattel Anna and Elsa dolls while the Cinderella poll was running, but I'd actually purchased the Disney Store's version of this pair quite a bit earlier--right after the Cinderella movie came out, in fact.  Given the Disney Store's track record for keeping Frozen dolls in stock (although this has improved significantly in recent months...), I figured I should grab them while I still could.  The dolls are still in stock as I type and cost $34.95.  This works out to just over $17 per doll, so about $2 more than the Mattel dolls.  Not a huge difference.

The sister set comes in a large, mostly-plastic display box with a decorative cardboard back.  There's lettering on the plastic front of the box, but it's hard to read with the colorful dresses in the background.

Summer Solstice Gift Set
The Disney Store's Frozen Fever Elsa and Anna gift set,
The dolls are posed holding hands, with Elsa gazing lovingly at her sister.  Anna looks like she's preoccupied by something to the left of the camera, though.  Kristoff, perhaps?  Or maybe a yummy sandwich?

The plastic part of the box has a few decorated areas.  There's a small picture of Olaf peeking out from behind a sunflower:

Or is he eating that flower?
And a picture of Anna and Elsa wearing their Frozen Fever outfits:

The style of the art on the box is different from the computer-generated art in the movie.  This same style of drawing is on the back of the box:

Here's a close-up:

The style of the art is nice, but I would have preferred to see some shots from the actual movie--like we had with the original Disney Store Frozen doll boxes.

Anna and Elsa were secured to the backdrop with a few plastic loops, some clear rubber bands, and plastic ties in their clothes and heads.  They were mounted on molded forms to support their body positions.  

The backdrop has the same picture of Arendelle that's on the back of the Mattel dolls' boxes.

With the dolls removed from their packaging, I could get a clearer view of the lettering on the plastic.  It says that this set is called the "Summer Solstice Gift Set."

Like the first Frozen dolls, these two have the older hinged-knee body design.  This body style balances pretty well right out of the box, but within minutes the ankle joints loosen up and the dolls have real trouble standing.  My Anna doll was particularly bad in this respect.  I did manage to get the pair to stay upright for their first picture, though:

Summer Solstice Gift Set

Part of Anna's balancing problem was due to the fact that her slipper-like shoes were held in place with clear rubber bands that created bumps on the shoes' soles.  There was also a funny white residue on the shoes when they first came out of the box.  This was easy to wipe away, but I am not sure what it was.  The residue is partially wiped off in these pictures, but you can still see some of it right around where the rubber bands are:

Unfortunately, this doll is also suffering from the green-legged syndrome.  I thought perhaps the Disney Store would splurge and give us real tights.  Sigh.

Anna's balance is a little better with the rubber bands removed, but her ankle joints are still too weak to support her well.

After getting this girl to balance, the first thing I noticed was that her dress has pockets!  She comes with her left hand tucked inside one of them:

This is such a neat detail.  I love it!

Anna's other arm is out of the pocket and sporting a bracelet:

The bracelet is made out of translucent blue vinyl and has three decorations: one sunflower and two snowflakes.

Like the Mattel Anna, this doll has a very movie-accurate outfit complete with a separate vest and an ornamented up-do hairstyle.

Summer Solstice Anna

The back of the hair is decorated with a plastic sunflower button and two colored ribbons.

Anna's hair is a beautiful pure red color.  And, as in the Frozen Fever movie, all of the icy streaks in her hair are gone.  This doll's bun looks more authentic than the Mattel doll's over-styled curl, too, but there's no decorative braid or twist across the top of the head.  Also, the blunt-cut ends of hair that stick out from underneath the bun make me nervous about what the hair will look like when it's let down.  We'll check on that a little later.

This Anna seems to have the exact same face as her predecessors at the Disney Store.  She has turquoise green side-glancing eyes and a lopsided, closed-mouth smile.  Her nose and cheeks are lightly blushed and she has some nicely-done freckles across her cheeks.

Her eyes look a little wonky from the front, but she is able to look at the camera pretty well:

Here's the first edition Disney Store Anna doll for comparison:

The first release Anna doll from the Disney Store.
I pulled the first edition doll's hair back so that you can see how similar these two are--even the cut of their wispy bangs is the same:

Some minor differences I notice are that the Frozen Fever Anna has lighter eyebrows, paler eyeshadow, and smaller iris lines in her eyes.

Almost identical.
Disney Store dolls usually have more elaborate (and more glittery) outfits than their Mattel counterparts.  This Anna is no exception.  The colors, layers (and pockets!) of Anna's dress are more impressive right away:

The skirt has a pocket on each side:

Although these pockets are actually just little fabric tubes that open under the skirt:

This design is clever because it reduces the likelihood of hands getting stuck inside the pockets...and Anna can shove her hands as deeply into these pockets as she wants!  She just can't carry around loose change...or spare carrots.

Investigating the pockets led me to the wonderful discovery that the dress has a yellow tulle petticoat.  I love the color choice for this part of the dress, and it gives the skirt a very nice shape.

Anna's sun-shaped brooch is made out of plastic and is permanently attached to the dress' collar:

Anna's vest is made out of a heavier fabric than the Mattel vest.  It has stitched arm holes and a blue glitter accent along the unfinished edges.  It is completely wrinkle-free.

The designs on the sides and back of the vest are applied--not printed into the fabric.  They have a three-dimensional presence that almost makes them look embroidered.

The back of the vest is especially nice:

And my two little bee friends make another appearance:

   e       Buzzing around and making these clothes so cute!  e
Here's a look at the stitching from the inside of the vest:

Underneath the vest, Anna's dress has a creamy gold blouse with a deep blue, glittery corset.  The fit through the waist is not perfect with this dress.  I couldn't get those wrinkles to smooth out.

The top part of the dress is separate from the skirt and opens down the back with velcro.

The Mattel doll's blouse and corset were all one piece and were stitched to the skirt.  This made the dress very easy to get on and off.  The Disney Store Anna's blouse and corset are attached in the back and along the sides, but most of the corset area is left unattached--to simulate two separate pieces of clothing.  This is best seen with the top removed from the doll:

While most of the construction of this piece is great, the top edge of the corset is left unfinished, and I think the little fraying threads look a little sloppy against the smooth light fabric of the blouse.

The skirt has a thick waistband and a few pleats along the top to create fullness.  It has a small square of velcro in the back.

The yellow petticoat is sewn right into the main body of the skirt, which helps with easy dressing and undressing.

Anna's shoes are simple black slippers--the same exact mold as the original Elsa's blue shoes.

Although this Anna has permanent green legs, at least the color extends up into her underwear region.  This makes the tights looks slightly more realistic than they do on the Mattel doll.  I am still no fan of green legs, though.  

I am also not a fan of these hinged knees.  When I was reviewing my Disney Store Cinderella (and my Disney Store Merida and Ariel...) I figured the hinged knees must be better than the fragile, wobbly legs of the dolls I was looking at.  Now I am not so sure.  Poor Anna's legs are warped, not very attractive, and don't really help her stand up.  Also, the color of green on the lower (vinyl) part of the leg is darker than the green of the upper (plastic) part of the leg.

It's not easy being green
I've said these things before but I'll say them again: no tights would be better than permanent green legs, and Disney--please, please fix the tragic legs on your otherwise awesome dolls.  It's ridiculous.

The Frog-Legged Princess.
Here are both Anna dolls together for a side-by-side comparison:

Mattel Anna (left) and Disney Store Anna (right).
First of all, the Mattel Anna doll stands up on her own significantly better than the Disney Store doll.

When I compare the two outfits, I feel like the Disney Store Anna's dress looks more lush and expensive.  The darker colors and contrasting textures are really nice.  The little details in the Disney Store outfit--like the pockets and the yellow petticoat--are especially fantastic.  However, the Mattel doll's outfit is much easier to manage.  The Mattel outfit also fits the doll a little better.

The Disney Store Anna's vest is vastly superior to the Mattel vest.  There's absolutely no contest here.

I also find the Disney Store Anna's face and hair much more appealing than the Mattel Anna.  I think the Mattel Anna's expression is cute, but she doesn't look like Anna to me--and the streaked hair doesn't help.  It almost makes her look too old.

Here are my two Disney Store Anna dolls together:

Summer Solstice Anna and the original Disney Store Anna.
I really like the new Anna and prefer her outfit to that of the original doll.  Both outfits suffer from trying to create a layered look in the top.  The result is rumpled and a little bulky.  However, the Frozen Fever outfit's rich colors, sunny patterns and little extra details make it my favorite of the two--or maybe I am just finally getting tired of seeing Anna in that same old winter outfit.

Of the two undressed dolls, the original is still my favorite--simply because she has normal-looking legs.

Here are a few more pictures of the Disney Store Anna:

Summer Solstice Anna

Summer Solstice Anna

Summer Solstice Anna

Now let's take a quick look at the Frozen Fever Elsa that came in the Summer Solstice set.  She was packaged with the train of her dress plastic-tied together in the front.  She looks like she's trying to hide the rest of her dress so that she can surprise you with it:

Summer Solstice Elsa
The Disney Store's Summer Solstice Elsa.
These plastic ties are so abundant, I feel like pretty soon we're going to see doll clothing that's actually stitched together with these little irritations.  I simply don't see the need for them in most cases.

This doll has the worst balance of the whole Frozen Fever crew.  I think the stiffness of her train was keeping her upright in that first picture.  I had a really hard time getting her to stand up after that.

e        My mood is getting bad (and my language, too!)  e
The pose below lasted for about ten seconds, but it offers a nice view of Elsa's dress.  I like the lighter, muted teal color of this dress better than the darker Mattel outfit.  It looks really pretty:

I was having such a hard time posing this doll, I had to investigate the legs right away to see what was going on.

Oh, man.  I thought Anna's legs were bad, but these legs are really badly warped.  The knees don't even bend properly--and the legs are placed that far apart because that's as close as they'll get.

Also, apparently the skirt doesn't like being wadded up.  It held on to some pretty bad wrinkles after my little inspection:

The bottom of the train was also pretty badly wrinkled, but this was from being in the package.

This was not a great start to Elsa's review.  I pulled myself together, grabbed a couple of doll stands to keep Elsa upright, and forged ahead...hoping that the new-found heat and humidity here in Maine would help smooth out that dress.

This Elsa is wearing her hair in an almost identical hairstyle to the original Disney Store Elsa doll, but she has the addition of a plastic flower ornament on the right side of her head:

The tendrils of hair that frame Elsa's face are taped to the back of her head--just as they were with the original Disney Store Elsa doll.

Even with the tape removed, there's a ton of styling product in the top part of the hair, so the bangs stay pretty much where they were.

This Elsa has the same face as the original Elsa, but I find this version prettier--maybe because of the pink in her dress and how it compliments her complexion, or maybe just because this doll's eyes are not as wonky as some:

Elsa has side-glancing bright blue eyes.  I have seen (and owned) several versions of this doll with eyes going off in crazy directions. These eyes look ok to me:

Here's the Frozen Fever Elsa alongside my Parks version of the original:

And here's a larger picture of the Parks doll's face (mine has a defect in her left eye...):

The "Parks" version of Disney's Elsa (from J.C. Penney).
Differences between these two are very subtle, but I think the new doll has a pink shade to her lips while the original Elsa's lips are more red.  Another difference between these two is that the Frozen Fever doll has glittery pink eyeshadow--not the purple shade that's on the original doll.  I think this color looks great.  It matches the pink flowers in the dress and gives Elsa's face a healthy glow.

The Disney Store interpreted Elsa's Frozen Fever dress in a slightly different way than Mattel.  The main part of the dress is all made out of the same kind of shimmery dark teal fabric--without a separate asymmetric bodice section.

Summer Solstice Elsa

The neckline of the dress is made out of a sheer white net with a bit of shimmer.  The neckline has both printed and fabric flowers.

There's an asymmetric petal and flower print on the bodice of the dress that I think is a really good representation of the movie dress:

Here's another reminder of what the movie dress looks like:

The train of the dress is similar to the Mattel doll's train, but it's made out of a stiffer tulle...and it wrinkles very easily.

Also, the side of the train ripped off the rest of the dress when I was trying to get the velcro undone:

Very fragile fabric.
Elsa is wearing blue high-heeled shoes that are (at least stylistically) a huge improvement on the frumpy slippers that the original Disney Store Elsa doll came wearing.

Her left leg is stained.
The shoes are made out of flexible, glitter-infused vinyl, and so they don't do much to help this poor doll stand up.

These shoes are not quite as bendable as the Mattel shoes, but they also have a tendency to tip backwards at the heel:

Elsa has the same body as the original Disney Store Elsa doll

But not only are her legs warped... of her hip joints does not move forwards at all, so she's can't even sit down.

 e         Broken hips on a doll who's brand-freaking-spanking-new!  e
This is just inexcusable for an almost $20 doll.

How many times have I said that I am completely fed up with Disney Store leg articulation?  I have to stop buying these dolls.  It's just so frustrating because almost everything else about the dolls is so hard to beat in this price range.  I would think the company's pride would prompt them to fix this one thing.

Here's Frozen Fever Elsa next to my Parks Elsa.  This isn't a great comparison because the Parks doll is simpler (and less expensive) than the regular Disney Store Elsa doll.

Summer Solstice Elsa (left) and Parks Elsa (right).
They are very similar so it's hard to choose a favorite.  If I could only have one Elsa doll, it would definitely be the original one in the famous blue ice dress.  However, if I ignore the gimpy legs, I'd say that this new Elsa brings a warm, pretty look to the character and is worth owning even for those who have the original.

Summer Solstice Elsa (left) and Parks Elsa (right).
Here's the Disney Store Elsa next to the Mattel Elsa:

Mattel's Elsa (left) and Disney Store's Elsa (right) from Frozen Fever.
As usual, the Disney Store outfit is better here.  I like the smoother lines of the the dress and think the neckline is especially beautiful.  I do wish the Disney Store dress' train wasn't so stiff, but it isn't a huge deal.  While the Mattel Anna got points for having a very easy-to-use version of her dress, I can't say the same for the Mattel Elsa.  The separate bodice section on this gown makes it hard to get the doll's legs in the right place when she's being dressed.

The faces are both nice.  I guess I am used to the Disney Store doll's face and slightly prefer it, but Mattel has done a good job of updating their Elsa to make her prettier and more charismatic than their earlier dolls.  The Disney Store Elsa has the right color of hair, and I like how the wispy bangs stay in place when the doll is new.  However, I know that over time these tendrils of hair will come loose and become harder to manage.  While I am not crazy about the Mattel doll's permanent forehead curl, I do appreciate how her simple hairstyle will probably be easier to maintain over time.

The DisneyStore's Elsa (left) and Mattel's Elsa (right) from Frozen Fever.
It is striking how much darker the Mattel Elsa's skin tone is when they're side-by-side like this, though.  I prefer the Disney Store doll's almost translucent, icy paleness because it suits the character so well.  Still, the Mattel doll's more butter-like complexion makes her more versatile.  She could easily be used in games that had nothing to do with Frozen.

The DisneyStore's Elsa (left) and Mattel's Elsa (right) from Frozen Fever.
Here are a few more pictures of my Disney Store Elsa:

Finally, here are some pictures of my Disney Store Anna and Elsa together.  They can also look at each other pretty well:

Summer Solstice Gift Set
Summer Solstice Elsa and Anna from the Disney Store.
And they're fun to long as Anna doesn't have to stand and Elsa doesn't have to sit.

Summer Solstice Gift Set

Summer Solstice Gift Set

The very last thing I did for this review was to take the hair down on both of the Anna dolls.  Up-do hairstyles can hide some pretty strange secrets, and I wanted to be able to tell you what those were.

Here's the Disney Store Anna right after I cut the rubber band out of her bun:

That's actually what she looks like in parts of both movies!
Talk about gravity defying hair!

The hair is well-rooted, though.  No bald spots hiding under that bun, anyway.

The plastic sunflower ornament was tied into Anna's hair with brown thread.  It was easy to cut out, but I won't be able to use it again without sewing it back in place.

I boil-washed Anna's hair for quite a while.  It usually only takes two or three quick dips into hot water before a doll's hair starts to behave.  After leaving Anna's head in the water for five minutes, she still had a lot of left-over kinks and bends in her hair.  This is how it looks now:

Summer Solstice Anna with her hair let down.
It's not awful.  The ends are uneven in some places and the cut looks a little ragged, but there's nothing here that would prevent a child from loving or playing with this doll.  I won't be able to re-create the original bun, but there's enough length in the hair that I bet there are a few other hairstyles that would look really nice.

When I first took the rubber band out of the Mattel Anna's hair, it didn't change very much:

There was a ton of styling product in this mane.  Again, though, the rooting is plenty thick:

This doll's hair decoration is made out of two pieces of sunflower-shaped fabric.  One side of the sunflower has a printed design, the other is plain.  The ribbons were plastic-tied into Anna's head, so it would be hard to re-use this piece, too.

I decided to leave the twist at the top of Anna's head intact and just boil out the bun.  This came out surprisingly well:

The hair still has a fair amount of styling product in it, but it falls in these beautiful layered waves that look amazing:

I'd even venture to say that this doll looks better with her hair down than she looks with it up!

Mattel's "Birthday Party Anna" with her hair let down.
Bottom line? I've shared most of my thoughts and comparisons throughout this review, but I'll sum things up for you here.  Each doll has a number after her name and that is my overall ranking for that particular doll--with 1 being my most and 4 being my least favorite.

Mattel Anna (#4): I don't think Anna's face and hair look much like the movie character, but she has a cute expression and her hair looks great when it's let down.  I like her as just a regular doll, but not so much as a Frozen Anna doll.  This doll is not highly articulated, but she has good balance and excellent head movement.  Her outfit is very movie-accurate and easy to play with.  The outfit also has better detail than many Mattel clothes.  Anna's smaller body size makes clothes-sharing unreliable with other Mattel and Disney Store dolls.  The only thing that limits this doll's versatility is the color of her legs.  Permanent green legs were a bad call--but the Disney Store made the same call.  This version of Anna strikes me as sturdy and low maintenance.  She would be a good pick for younger children.  

Disney Store Anna (#1): this Anna's face and hair color are great--very reminiscent of the movie character and very similar to the first-release Anna.  The outfit is even more attractive and movie-accurate than the Mattel doll's dress.  The vest, pockets and yellow tulle underskirt are fabulous details that really stand out to me.  The top part of the dress is a little messy-looking and doesn't fit perfectly, though.  Still, I like this outfit even better than the original Disney Store Anna's clothes.  Anna's red hair is ok when let down, but it's probably best to keep the lovely bun in place for as long as possible.  This doll is highly articulated with excellent arm and head movement.  However, she has green, warped, hinge-kneed legs that really detract from her overall appeal.  Also, weak ankle joints make it very hard for her to stand on her own.  I think this doll is the best choice for older kids and collectors.  She is my favorite of the four Frozen Fever dolls.

Mattel Elsa (#3): the face-up and expression on this doll are much better than the other Mattel Elsa dolls I have seen.  She is quite lovely and definitely brings to mind the movie character.  At the same time, her coloring and features are generic enough that she could easily be used for creative games unrelated to Frozen.  This Elsa's dress is not as elegant or streamlined as the dress in the movie or the dress on the Disney Store doll.  It is my least favorite piece of clothing in the group.  In particular, I am not wild about the color or the design of the bodice.  The two-part construction of the dress makes it easy to get the doll's legs stuck in-between the bodice and the skirt. Again, the Mattel dolls do not have great articulation, but at least the joints that they have work.  This doll almost edged out the Disney Store Elsa because I was so frustrated with the latter doll's leg articulation.

Disney Store Elsa (#2*): this is a beautiful version of Elsa.  Her dress is elegant and flattering...although some of the seams are fragile and the fabric wrinkles easily.  The delicate blue shoes are a great improvement over the original Disney Store Elsa's frumpy slippers.  This doll's hair and make-up are almost identical to the other Disney Store Elsa dolls, with the exception of a new eyeshadow color that really compliments the doll's complexion and outfit.  If I ignore this doll's legs, I think she is the best Frozen Fever Elsa choice, but in my mind she doesn't trump the original Disney Store Elsa.  It's hard to beat that ice dress.  My only serious criticism of this particular doll is that her leg articulation is terrible.  My Elsa has badly warped legs and a hip joint that won't even move.  She should be sent back to the store for a full refund.

*I really had to (reluctantly) disregard the hip defect in this ranking since--I hope--not every doll will have this flaw.  

Overall: As usual, I prefer the Disney Store set...but I am really losing patience with the ongoing articulation issues.  I can no longer dismiss my experiences as random flukes--almost every single Disney Store doll I have purchased in the last year has been seriously flawed.  The thing is, with the prices of these four dolls being so similar, the superiority of the Disney Store outfits alone makes it hard not to pick them as favorites.  Plus, the Disney faces are really hard to beat and the arm articulation is excellent.  Mattel definitely upped their game with this Frozen Fever pair, though, and there were several times during the review when I was having more fun with the simpler, easier-to-manage Mattel sisters.  All four dolls have things to recommend them and things that could be better.  I like all of them to some degree and yet...none of them is the perfect doll for me. 


  1. Love the Makeover! Disappointed by the Disney Store Leg Articulation. I`d prefer Barbie Fashionista knees.. Mattel is really improving though! Their new Rapunzel face mold is adorable! And their Fall products aren`t looking so bad, either! I think new Anna`s face is cute. The eyebrows and side glance do a lot. Elsa`s face is prettier, love the lashes and the pretty coloring. The dresses are plaay quality, but for $14.99, they`re WAY nicer than the original Mattel Dolls. On the DIsney Store dolls, I dont like how they just used the same faces without variety. Love the dresses and the articulation, except for the fact your dolls are defective. Disney Store should just copy the Barbie Style Body, because I love rotating knees! Overall, Mattel Head, Disney Sotre Body and Dresses, Mattel Price. BTW, this review took longer than expected! Busy?

    1. BTW, this review took longer than expected! Busy?

      Not trying to be rude, but did you read the first two paragraphs of the review? Also, I believe Emily is still recovering from a broken leg if I'm not mistaken.

    2. This is a great summary! Yes! Especially the part about putting the Barbie rotating knees on the Disney Store dolls. Could not agree more. :)

    3. Also, I totally understand the frustration about how long the review took--I was frustrated, too! ;) It is such a busy time of year, and the computer swap didn't help. Anonymous The Second, you are incredibly thoughtful and kind to remember my leg! It is doing SO much better, but I am still playing catch-up. Thank you! :)

  2. A nice review! Worth the wait haha. As for my own opinions, Mattel Anna's doll doesn't look like the movie character, but I actually find myself preferring it. If just because I can't really tell the Disney Anna and Elsa faces apart; I like the more unique look.

    However, if I'm just going by accuracy and quality it's hard to beat the Disney ones for the price, they really need to work on those legs though. I recently bought my first Disney store dolls and was surprised at how much more rubber-y they were than the Barbie fashionista bodies. I wonder if a plastic change to something a little less soft would make the difference? If nothing else the Legs might not be as prone to warping.

    1. I think you identified the exact problem: the lower legs on the Disney Store dolls are too bendable to work with that style of knee joint. I know that the vinyl part of the leg can be straightened, but a harder plastic would offer a more permanent and reliable solution. That can't be too hard to change, right? Especially if changing the color of the legs is so easy... ;)

  3. What gorgeous dolls! I just LOVE what mattel is doing with their disney line! They still don't beat the disney store dolls, but i would not hesitate to purchase them! The disney store dolls are amazing, as usual, but those legs.... They're AWFUL. Please do not give up on disney! You've seen Mattel's transformation, Disney is not far from theirs!

    1. I could not agree with you more, Clara! Mattel has done a really nice job with these. I think the Mattel pair are the Frozen dolls I would buy if I had 4 or 5-year-old kids wishing for an Anna or Elsa. But personally, I adore the Disney Store crew and I won't give up on them. I am just waiting for the day when I can say, "They fixed the legs! This is the perfect doll!" That will be a good day!! :D

  4. Blah, those legs! Off with them!

    The Mattel Anna is cute. With her hair down, I can imagine her in a cute 60s dress and a name like Sandy Loo!

    1. Sandy Loo! I love it, Connor! Perfect image for her cute, friendly face. :)

  5. Here's a quick tutorial on how to fix warped Disney Store doll legs:

    1. Thank you, Emma! I will do that. I could live with the warped lower legs (although the manufacturing solution is fairly simple...) but it was Elsa's hip that really irritated me this time around. She just can't bend at the hip. At all. It might be fixable, but it'll require some pretty involved surgery. Grumble.

  6. I love that you always go to the trouble of taking down and washing their hair. I had gone through the review thinking that the four dolls were nice enough but without any real standout features, and then got to the photos of Mattel Anna with her hair down and it completely changed my opinion on that doll!

    1. Thank you, jSarie!! I'm glad you find it helpful. I am always super-curious about hair. Was your opinion changed in a good way? Personally, I was amazed by Anna's hair. I totally didn't expect her to look so lovely! :)

    2. It was changed in a good way - in it's default style it seemed like too much hair for her head size (one of those things that probably wouldn't bother most people, but that I find distracting) but down it's clear that it's actually proportional. :)

  7. This is a wonderful review as usual, Emily! However, I recently reviewed the Mattel girls on my blog and noticed something that I thought I should pass on to you. Frozen Fever Anna doesn't actually have a new face mold- just a new face up. Her teeth are painted on, not molded on, and when I carefully studied the two Mattel girls side by side I noticed that the shape of their eyes and cheeks and everything are exactly the same. Thank you for another super awesome review!

    1. My Frozen Fever Anna definitely has a different mouth mold because her teeth are set in from her lips in profile. I should have posted a silhouette picture to show this. You're right that the rest of the dimensions are the same, though! They didn't change much to get a completely different look! Very cool. :)

    2. Oh my gosh, when I looked again last night you were right! It was so slight I didn't even notice!! Sorry for coming over here and being totally wrong... I hope I didn't come off like a total know it all! I'll have to go fix my post!! Thank you!

  8. You absolutely can swap the legs and heads on your Mattel Annas if you really want to. Heads are easy enough, but the legs are a little more difficult and have a risk of damaging or breaking the body. Sit their butts in some hot water for a while, then you rotate the legs upward past where you think they should go and they ought to pop right off. Then you wrap the doll in protective fabric like a couple of wash cloths, etc. and tap the hip with a hammer to put them back on again.
    Dolls Ahoy does this when she gets a body with articulated arms, but stiff legs, and a body with stiff arms and articulated legs.
    Articulation is good.

    1. I might try this, Tiffy! Thank you! It'd be worth it just for a picture of the doll sitting in hot water with her legs sticking up at funny angles... ;D

  9. Unless they both have elastic in the hips, or one has elastic and the other pegs.
    If they both have elastic, just snip it, swap them, and sew in new elastic. If they have different hips, then it's more complicated.

  10. Unfortunately, the Disney brand is +$19 if you are (like me) looking to purchase only one of the dolls. q: I always do love your reviews! ^^

  11. I like Mattel Anna's face. Not a good representation of the character, but she looks like a celebrity whose name escapes me right now. She also kinda looks like one of your Wildflower dolls, Tara, perhaps? You should do a photo comparison. Not a big fan of Disney Store Anna's face, actually. She kinda, I don't know, looks borderline stoned. Just me? Okay.

  12. I don't know if it's just me, but Mattel Elsa's complexion looks a little off. Especially in her face- like someone with too much foundation on.

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  13. I'm serious to find out why my comments disappear almost every time I make one. It's getting to the point where I wonder why bother. The comment I wrote for the dolls disappeared just now.

  14. These dolls look so cute, now I want all of them and the Frozen Fever Limited Edition dolls that are coming out in November! I have a blog post about it, but don't really know that much about them- they're coming out with a Troll Wedding Anna and Kristoff too! Here's a link to my post- I have all the photos of the new LE Frozen dolls I could find:

  15. Dear toyboxphilosopher,
    I just wanted to say I really enjoy your reviews.
    Also, I received the Disney store frozen fever dolls for Christmas and my Elsa had the same or similar problem with her hip joint. It wouldn't move. I don't know if you could fix your Elsa but I wanted t tell you how I fixed mine. I just tried to push her leg a little farther forward than it could go and it popped back to normal. I think the joint got stiff from being in the box for so long.(it happened with one of my fashionists s a few years ago) I don't know if this the case with your Elsa but I hope this helps you.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Great review as usual. I discovered your blog only today but I'm eagerly reading some of your reviews.
    I've bought the Disney Store set of Frozen Fever dolls just two days ago after seeing they look a lot better than Mattel dolls (and in Italy they are also a little cheaper since Mattel dolls are 20€ each and Disney Store set is 35.90€).

    Since I'm a collector, I've seen the Disney Store set is way a lot better, both for the dolls look, and especially for the details in the outfits. I'm not going to play with the dolls, so I can stand their weird legs at least until I don't debox them.
    What I really cannot stand in Mattel's versions of these dolls is Elsa's double rooted hair, and especially the printed brooch on Mattel's Anna's dress. That's a terrible detail. I also don't like Elsa's asymmetrical cut on her bodice and Anna's front only golden trimming on her corset.
    But still I appreciate that the black corset is not printed on the blouse, and the bolero vest is not sewn on the dress.

    What I especially like in Disney Store dolls outfits is that the black corset on Anna's dress is a different layer on the blouse, and is not stitched in it, and the tiny flowers popping out on the neckline of Elsa's dress that are a pretty detail. I also like that Anna comes with the bracelet that was one of Elsa's present for her.

    I must say that, after reading your review, I double confirmed that choosing the Disney Store dolls was the right choice.
    Still, you are tight about Mattel's dolls being the best choice for little children that wants to play with dolls and don't care for details.