Friday, July 22, 2016

DC Super Hero Girls "Wonder Woman" by Mattel

Well, that was a long delay in between reviews.  As many of you know, blogging was getting complicated for me, but then life got pretty complicated, too, and I needed to step away from the computer.  But I can't seem to quit dolls, and I also miss you guys.  So...I'm back.  As a kind-of warning, though, I don't think the blog will be exactly the same as it was before.  Specifically, I no longer think of this as my job, and can no longer attempt to buy and review everything new or popular.  But I'd love to review and talk about whatever doll passion or project I happen to be wrapped up in at the moment--or share some of my older dolls with you.  Despite the changes, I hope that this will still be a useful or diverting place for some.  Thank you for coming back, and thank you for all of your kind messages and heartfelt concern.  That's all I'll say for now because there are a lot of dolls to talk about!

While I've been away, Mattel has been taking the play doll world by storm. Specifically, the new Barbie body types and the awesomely powerful Super Hero Girls are turning a lot of heads...including my own.  I actually want to credit Mattel (and a few others) for luring me back into active doll collecting.  Today I'll be looking at two of Mattel's DC Super Hero Girls: Wonder Woman and Power Action Wonder Woman.  This teenaged version of Wonder Woman is a main character in the new Cartoon Network series, DC Super Hero Girls, but I won't pretend I knew that when I bought the dolls.  The fact is, I've always loved Wonder Woman more than the other female super heroes.  I even had the Underoos, if you must know.

I'll do a thorough review of the debut Wonder Woman doll and then I'll take a look at the Power Action version to provide some comparison--and also to make up for lost time.

DC Super Hero Girls debut "Wonder Woman," $19.99.
I actually bought the debut (first wave) doll several months ago--right after I wrote my last review, now that I think of it.  I found her (and Batgirl) at my local Target store for $19.99 each.  I didn't decide to buy the Power Action doll until just last week when Amazon was having a special sale.  The Power Action dolls retail for $24.99, but Amazon was offering Wonder Woman for $17.99.

There's already a third 12-inch version of Wonder Woman in this series: Training Action Wonder Woman.  She appears to be the most basic of the three options (molded clothes, no articulation in the arms) and retails for just under $10.  I have not seen her in stores and did not purchase her.

Here are my two Wonder Women still in their boxes:

Power Action Wonder Woman (left) and debut Wonder Woman (right).
Power Action Wonder Woman's box is the larger of the two, despite the fact that this doll and her accessories take up less space than the debut doll.  The Power Action box also has a more complex cardboard-based construction.  The original box is a simple plastic blister package on a cardboard backing.

The decorative graphics on the two boxes are very similar, but not identical.

In both photos, above, the Power Action doll box is on the left.

Power Action Wonder Woman (left) and original Wonder Woman (right).

Here's the first wave Wonder Woman to start things off:


The box is very brightly-colored and appealing, and I really like the graphic version of the character:

The box art is not exactly like the animation on the television show, though.  Here are a few screen shots from the cartoon for comparison:

I watched the first episode of this series (free to view on the Cartoon Network) and enjoyed most things about it.  The animation is ok and the plot was fun and engrossing--while predictable.  If I had appropriately-aged kids, I would watch this show with them now and again.

A few of the voices bothered me, though.  Supergirl sounds too wimpy (maybe that'll get better as she gains confidence?) and Harley Quinn's voice is nerve-grating.  Wonder Woman and Batgirl are my favorite characters.  Batgirl is voiced by Mae Whitman from Parenthood (I'm a huge fan).  

I think Batgirl's mask looks a little funny on the show.  The eye holes extend up above her eyebrows, which strikes me as unusual for this kind of mask.  The character looks really cute when she's not wearing the mask.

Geepers, creepers.

The doll's box art is better:

As much as I enjoyed the show, I have a few unanswered questions that perhaps you can help me with.  First of all, when did Wonder Woman learn to fly on her own (in my day she needed an invisible jet)?  

And also, what in the world is the unicorn/cat creature hanging on Supergirl's bedroom wall??

Is that a thing?
And, incidentally, how does Supergirl have a horse riding trophy (see above) if she just fell to Earth four weeks ago?  That's pretty impressive...although she is Supergirl.

Anyway--sorry, back to the doll box.  The back of the box has a massive version of the cartoon character along with a paragraph describing the show:

Here's a close-up of the paragraph:

The supernatural high school theme of this show is ridiculously similar to Monster High, of course, but it's clearly following a formula that works.  It's not like I'd complain if there were a million Cinderella story re-makes.

The bottom of the box has some biographical information about Wonder Woman (again, a very familiar format) and small pictures of the other first wave dolls:

I forgot that Wonder Woman's lasso is a "lasso of truth." It compels captured bad guys to be honest about everything.  Pretty handy.  

Despite the box's simplicity, I found it a little hard to open.  I had some difficulty cutting the tabs that attach the plastic window to the cardboard.  It wasn't a big deal, but I had to upgrade to some serious kitchen scissors.

Wonder Woman was displayed against a backdrop of Monster High Super Hero High:

She was held in place with six or seven thin plastic bands that were easy to snip.  She was also mounted on a piece of molded plastic that I cut away from the backdrop.

Here's the backdrop with the doll and plastic removed:

There's a cardboard "student ID card" accessory included:

Nearly invincible?
My ID card came bent and creased in several places:

Apparently the card isn't even remotely invincible.
I don't think I'll count this as an actual accessory.

Here's Wonder Woman fresh out of the box...with the plastic still attached to her head:

That plastic was nailed to her head with three (really tight) plastic ties.  I had to seek out some curved fingernail scissors to cut these ties.  Do kids just yank hard to free the heads on these dolls?  I'll admit I didn't try that.

At this stage, there were just a few clear rubber bands left holding the shoulder piece and lasso in place:

Here she is with all of the packaging removed:

True to advertising, Wonder Woman stands very well on her long as she's wearing her boots.

Notice the huge slit in the back of those boots.  This is a bit of an eyesore, but it makes the boots really easy to get on and off.

Unfortunately, without the clear rubber bands to hold her outfit pieces in place, this is how Wonder Woman looks most of the time:

A little disheveled.
That shoulder armor, in particular, does not stay in place at all.  I had to re-position it for every single picture.  I can't imagine that it's easy to play with.  I'm tempted to glue it to the shirt.

Wonder Woman's head is hard (glue-filled?) and her hair feels like synthetic mohair, with a soft but frizz-prone texture.  Most of the hair is pitch black, but there are five streaks of electric blue:

Here's the hair after it's been brushed:

And a view of the streak pattern from above:

This is not my favorite hair fiber, but I love the color choice.  As a kid, I was always fascinated by how graphic artists use blue highlights to make black hair look shiny.  I remember this mostly from Archie and Veronica comic strips.  In my eyes, the blue streaks in this hair are a nice nod to comic book art. 

This doll's coloring and outfit make her clearly identifiable as Wonder Woman:


The outfit is a good replica of the cartoon version, too:

Wonder Woman's outfit has gone through many different interpretations, but perhaps her most iconic and unchanging piece of clothing is her gold star headband:

This headband is (of course) attached to the doll's head with two plastic ties:

Again, it's a little hard to get good purchase on these ties with regular scissors.  I had to pull out the fingernail scissors again.

The headband is made out of flexible gold vinyl and has a painted red star on the front:

My doll's headband has a tiny paint defect in the middle of the star.
Here's Wonder Woman with her headband removed (and her hair already looking frizzy at the ends again):

Unlike the shoulder piece, the headband stays in place very well even after the plastic ties are removed.  It's nicely designed and easy to play with.  It also looks great:

In contrast, the shoulder armor and belt are so loose and movable, I found them irritating.

Fortunately, both pieces have attachment points in the back and can easily be removed.

They're made out of matching flexible gold vinyl (slightly more flexible than the headband):

With the vinyl accessories removed, I was able to pull Wonder Woman's hair back and get a close look at her face paint.  Her coloring matches her outfit, with bright red lips and vivid blue eyes:


Her face style is very reminiscent of Monster High...with a little Disney Princess thrown in.  This doll vaguely reminds me of Headless Headmistress Bloodgood combined with Princess Jasmine.

The Wonder Woman doll has a darker skin tone than the other DC Super Hero Girls I own.  This skin tone variety isn't as obvious in the television show or box art.  Here's a comparison of some of the television characters:

Posion Ivy (ultra pale) on the far left with Wonder Woman (pale) on the far right.
In this shot Supergirl and Batgirl appear to have the same skin tone, Wonder Woman is slightly darker.
And here is the box art from the three dolls I own (I think the box art for this line is beautiful, by the way):

In these pictures, Batgirl and Wonder Woman have a similar skin tone and Poison Ivy is the palest of the three.

With the dolls, Batgirl and Poison Ivy have paler vinyl than Wonder Woman.  I have not seen Supergirl or any of the others in person yet.

I can't offer the greatest vinyl comparisons with the dolls since two of mine are still boxed, but here's my best effort:

Poison Ivy, Batgirl, Wonder Woman.

In person, I'm hard-pressed to tell the difference between Batgirl and Ivy's vinyl, but I think Ivy is slightly paler.  I like Wonder Woman's coloring.  I think it suits her, and it really makes her lips and eyes stand out.

I also like Wonder Woman's profile.  She has a small nose, but it's regal and straight.  No exaggerated ski jump here:

She has nicely detailed ears, too:

My doll has a few paint defects near her eye, the most noticeable of which is a streak in her eyelid paint:

Otherwise, though, the eye paint is good and I really like the look of the three-toned blue iris.

My doll's lips are primary red and are well-screened.  She does have a small hole in her chin, though, which looks like a speck of dirt from a little distance away.

Wonder Woman's eyes aren't wonky, per se, but they're very wide-set and have a concave slope that makes it hard for her to point both eyes directly at the camera.  Maybe for this reason (or maybe just because I like her nose and profile...) I often found myself photographing her slightly from the side, like this:

Or like this:


When I first got Wonder Woman out of her box, I thought she was wearing a jumpsuit.  Her pant waistline fits very snugly up against her shirt.  The two velcro seams in the back of the outfit gave away that she's actually wearing separate pants:

Wonder Woman's shirt is a tight-fitting jersey tee made out of two different fabrics:

The red part of the shirt has metallic stars on the front, but is plain in back.

The shirt won't come off easily without first removing the silver gauntlets (bullet-deflecting bracelets) on Wonder Woman's wrists:

In order to get the bracelets off, Wonder Woman's hands have to be removed.  Here's one of the bracelets: 

These are made out of silver vinyl and have intricate molded details.

I have mixed feelings about removable hands.  They can make dressing and undressing a lot easier, that's for sure, but they're also a hassle to deal with, and they run the risk of falling off and getting lost.

Here are Wonder Woman's strong, gripping hands:

The hands are anything but graceful.  They look very powerful to me, but also a little skeletal from the knuckle side:

Li'l bit creepy.
The attachment peg is much thicker than those found on Monster High and Ever After High dolls.  The hands pop in and out very easily.

The molding lines on the back of the hand almost look like veins:

As it turns out, Wonder Woman's pants and boots also have to be removed before her shirt can come off.  It must be a leotard-style shirt.

The pants are form-fitting and sleek.  The sides are decorated with a dark blue ribbon with white star decals:

The detail and construction here are nice:

Wonder Woman's boots are bright red and made out of thick, heavy vinyl.  They feel substantial.

There's not a lot of detail in the design of these boots--although I'm not sure what additional details could have been added.  Maybe some contrasting colors in the stitching?

Each boot has a white wing on the outside, a molded star on the inside, and a white painted stripe down the front:

There are also some molded stitches that run the length of the boot:

For some reason the little girl in me feels like these boots should be super-shiny.  Like patent leather.  But maybe that would be tacky.

Ok, on second thought, let's be honest: this outfit has already gone into the delightfully tacky zone.  The boots should be shiny!

Underneath the boots, the pants have a tapered, ankle-length fit, like leggings:

Wonder Woman has very graceful feet with a fashion foot arch.  They don't really match her hands:

She has small, slender, slightly bent toes with a gap in between her big and second toes...almost like she's designed to wear flip flop sandals:

It's a very pretty foot mold, if you ask me.

Ok, so finally here is Wonder Woman with her full shirt revealed:

This patriotic, leotard-style shirt is fun because I'm obsessed with the new U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Team right now (who isn't?), and leotards with red stars make me think of that team.  

To me, those extraordinary young ladies are real-life super heroes.  There was an article about them recently that was titled, Here Are the 5 Superhumans Who Just Made the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team.  No kidding.  And the picture that went with the article dropped my jaw.  So impressive!  I can't even do a handstand unless I'm under water.

Anyway, I think it's funny that these Olympic gymnasts are stronger and more impressive-looking than the fictional DC Super Hero Girls characters.  There are some modern graphic representations of Wonder Woman and action figures that come a lot closer to emulating (even exaggerating) the muscular, toned body types of real female athletes.  But these particular dolls are definitely scrawny by comparison.  I wish there were U.S. Olympic gymnast dolls on the market.  I'd buy the whole set in a heartbeat.

Here's Wonder Woman with her best gymnastics move:

Watch out, Simone Biles!
With all of the clothing finally removed, let's see what kind of muscles (and joints!) Wonder Woman actually has.

She sports an impressive twelve points of articulation:

Because of her fashion feet, though, she cannot stand on her own without boots.  I used a Project Mc2 stand for her (even though it's a feeble stand).

She has a slender, sway-backed, long-legged, small-chested body that is clearly drawing from a Monster High influence.

Here's a closer look at the upper joints:

There's a fair amount of muscle definition in the body mold, especially through the arms.  Maybe this isn't impressive when compared to Olympic athletes, but it's noteworthy in the fashion doll world.

DC Super Hero Girls

Wonder Woman's arms hinge up this far without rotating at the shoulder:

Shoulder rotation allows her to lift her arms straight above her head...

...and strike a large variety of other arm poses.

Her elbows and wrists also have hinged rotation and can bend to almost 90 degrees:

The torso joint moves from side to side...

...and also a little bit from back to front:

The torso joint also twists, which was a fun surprise!

DC Super Hero Girls

In fact, this joint can twist all of the way around so that Wonder Woman is facing backwards.

Her leg movement is not quite as impressive as her arm and torso movement, but it's still good.  She can only do side-to-side splits this far:

Even with her hip joints rotated, she still can't do much of a split:

There's a little bit of side-to-side movement in her legs when she's sitting on the ground, so she can also sit with her knees closer together, like this:

Or really go nuts and sit like this:

In addition, her legs can kick forwards like this:

And she can kick backwards to some extent...

...but only when her leg is twisted outward:

So she can't do full front-to-back splits very well.

But she can at least make it look more believable with her back leg bent:

The knee joints have hinged movement--and also rotation, although for a long time the joints were so stiff* that I just assumed they didn't rotate at all.

In fact, I got through most of the review before I discovered the rotational movement.

It was like Christmas!
*To be clear, I don't see this stiffness as a bad thing--as long as I eventually discover what the doll can do!  In fact, slightly stiff joints are way better to me than loose floppy joints.

She can't kneel on the ground because her knees don't quite bend enough (I'm holding her up in this picture):

But she can kneel like this...which is something.

She can also sit reasonably well on a chair (or on a Makie tube, as the case may be...).

Here's Wonder Woman next to a standard Monster High doll so you can see how tall she is:

Monster High Clawdeen, DC Super Hero Girls Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman is taller than Clawdeen, and her proportions are not quite as exaggerated, but the two share a similar body style.  I notice that there's even similarity in the toe placement on their feet.

Wonder Woman is shorter than dolls like MGA's Moxie Teenz, although these two also share a fair number of body shape and articulation features:

DC Super Hero Girls, Moxie Teenz.
Last, here's Wonder Woman next to Made to Movie Barbie (one of my all-time favorite play dolls).  I find the head size contrast particularly interesting here:

DC Super Hero Girls, Made to Move Barbie.
I don't think that Wonder Woman looks any stronger than Barbie.

As a little aside: one of the things that has to change about this blog is my presentation of size comparisons and clothes-sharing options.  I know that this information is useful (I often go looking for it myself!), but it's the main reason that I got into the habit of keeping an unmanageable number of dolls and doll clothes in my house.  

I have kept a small collection of dolls around for size comparisons, but I will no longer attempt to make any comprehensive clothes-sharing statements.

As I re-dressed Wonder Woman for her photo shoot, it occurred to me that she has a small loop on her belt that I'd been ignoring:

Since her lasso has a short peg at the top...

...I figured that the peg must go into the loop, which it does:

When the lasso is hung this way, though, it causes the rope to curl back around Wonder Woman's legs in a slightly awkward position:

She's gonna trip on that...
I'll admit that the rope looks pretty dramatic curled around her leg like that during action shots, though:

Wonder Woman

Posing Wonder Woman with the lasso reminds me of posing Monster High dolls with dramatic tails.

The lasso is a fun accessory, and I think it looks great when it's hanging down:

Several of this doll's promotional pictures have the lasso positioned like this...

...which looks pretty cool, but I'll confess that I'm the type of person who has trouble with the loops of rope in her right hand "hanging" sideways like that.  The laws of physics are a comfort to me.

This position works a little better:

Gravity in action.
And even this is acceptable because of the implied movement:

But mostly I found myself posing Wonder Woman with her lasso loops hanging straight down:

She doesn't have an invisible jet, she has an invisible dog!


I think she's choking her dog now, though...
The lasso is a great accessory for photography, and probably really fun for play, too.

I also enjoyed snapping close-ups of Wonder Woman's face.  I like how the colors in her face and hair naturally coordinate with her outfit:

I especially like how the blue in her eyes matches the blue in her hair:

With all of her super hero accessories removed, Wonder Woman can look like a fairly normal teen.  

Here's the Diana side of this Wonder Woman:

And now here are a few more super hero poses to end this part of the review:

This doll is mostly what I expected she'd be--no big surprises.  My main criticisms of her are the following:
Her vinyl outfit pieces are too loose--mostly that shoulder armor.
Her hair gets very frizzy at the ends.
It's not simple to remove her outfit, especially her shirt.
Her body is not very muscular for a super hero.  

The things I like best about her are the following:
She has great coloring in her hair and face.
She has a bright, well-made outfit that makes it clear she's Wonder Woman.
Her lasso is fun.
Her body articulation is great overall.
She's quite versatile.  Without her super hero clothes, she could be a regular teen.

I was fairly certain that the fully-articulated debut dolls in the DC Super Hero Girls line would be my favorites. The other versions of the characters have molded clothing and fewer joints--not good selling points for me in general.  However, when Amazon had their special sale on Power Action Wonder Woman, I thought she might be a fun contrast for this review.

At $24.99. the Power Action dolls are currently the most expensive offerings from the DC Super Hero Girls lineup.  Let's take a look at what you get for the money.

The box is really big.  If you peek down into the box from above, you can see that there's a lot of empty space.  This frustrates me, but it's probably a successful marketing trick: dolls in small boxes don't look as valuable (or something like that).

This doll has slightly different box art than the debut Wonder Woman:

Here's a side-by-side comparison:

Power Action Wonder Woman (left), debut Wonder Woman (right)

This doll has some electronic features that can be tested while she's still in her box: 

The back of the box has a lot of the same information that we saw on the debut doll's box.  There's the same paragraph about Super Hero High, the same bio information about Wonder Woman, and (oddly) the same photographs of the other dolls.  I would have thought that this box would showcase the Power Action dolls.  Huh.

This doll emits flashing lights at 5-30 cycles per second, apparently.  

Maybe this is a common warning, but I don't remember ever having seen it before.  It inspired me to do a little reading.  I suspect that this warning relates to photosensitive epilepsy (seizures triggered by flashing lights).  This is pretty rare (only about 3% of epileptics have this trigger), but the frequency of flicker that's most likely to cause seizures is--you guessed it--5 to 30 cycles per second.  So now we know.

This box was easier to open than the debut doll's box.  The tabs that secure the edges are made out of cardboard (not plastic) so they can be easily bent or ripped to get the sides detached:

This doll was mounted against the same Super Hero High backdrop:

She also comes mounted to a plastic way of three (very tight!) plastic ties in her head.  Groan.

This Wonder Woman comes with her shield instead of the lasso:

The shield is attached to the doll's arm with some incredibly elaborate packaging:

Looks like she had a run-in with Spider Man.
There's a plastic shield-shaped holder that actually loops around the doll's arm and supports the shield.  It's held in place by three or four clear rubber bands.  Here's the plastic shield holder after the shield was removed:

That's a pretty good shield all on its own.
I honestly feel like there was more thought and engineering invested into the packaging of the shield than into the shield itself...but I'll get to that later.

The shield attaches to the doll with a wrist clip on the back:

The front of the shield is decorated with a few stars and the Wonder Woman emblem:

It's not quite as fancy as Wonder Woman's shield in the television series.  That shield has an attractive band of blue around the outer edge:

I like this shield design better.
I searched around a bit and couldn't find a consistent design for Wonder Woman's shield, but most interpretations have a mix of red, blue and gold in their design.

Here's Wonder Woman without her shield and packaging:

I was excited to see visible hinges in her knees!
Her arms are permanently positioned in a fighting stance with the right arm higher than the left:


Her elbows do not bend at all.

Looks like she's about to battle herself here...

Her clothes are molded and painted onto her body.  Her shirt has some realistic creases along the side that look nice.  I also like that her shoulder armor stays in place! 

She has a subtle lever on her back for activation of the electronic features.  She also has a (less subtle) circular speaker on her back.

There's a flexible gold vinyl lasso permanently attached to her belt:

Her pants have a molded star pattern along the sides, and the little stars are all painted white:

The paint on my doll's pants is not lined up with the molded pattern on one side:

Just a little bit off.
Wonder Woman is wearing red boots that do not come off.  They have a molded star on the inside and an attached white plastic wing on the outside:

These boots are shiny!
This doll is wearing her hair in a side ponytail and has a gold vinyl headband that looks identical to the one on the debut doll:

It's certainly attached in an identical way:

Of course it is.
The two headbands are, in fact, exactly the same--except for some small differences in paint quality:

First wave doll's headband (left), Power Action headband (right).
Wonder Woman has silky smooth hair--a different fiber type from the debut doll.

The hair is black with four blue streaks.  It's cut slightly shorter than the other Wonder Woman's hair.

This hair also has a deep crease from where the ponytail holder used to be:

A boil wash will fix that.
I don't see any difference between this doll's face paint and the other Wonder Woman's face paint: 

In the side-by-side pictures, below, the debut doll's vinyl looks darker, but that's just a lighting artifact.  In person they are virtually indistinguishable.

My Power Action doll has a shiny mark on her forehead from the too-tight headband:


This doll does not have as much articulation as the debut doll, but she has more joints than I originally thought.  I'll quickly walk you through them.

Her shoulder joints rotate, but this motion is coupled with the sound and light features of the doll, so I'll talk about that separately.  

The shoulders also have a hinge joint:

Here's a better look at the underside of the shoulder armor while we're here--for anyone who's curious:

The shoulder hinge means that Wonder Woman can lift her arms up to some degree.  She can go from this position close to her torso... this position further away from her body:

This allows for some variation in her arm poses.

She also has a point of articulation at the wrist.  The fisted hand and gauntlet rotate together around the lower arm.  

So she can twist her hand inwards and outwards like this:

The wrist movement is a little stiff and took me a while to discover.

The construction of the arm is a bit of a mystery to me. I suspect that the fist and the gauntlet are all one piece.  I'd say that the whole thing is made out of silver vinyl and the hand is painted with skin tone.  This hypothesis is supported by a few stray spots of skin-colored paint and the haze of silver that peeks through at the edges of the fingers:

However, then there are little spots of stray silver paint on the arm that make me second guess myself:

In either case, the bracelets are made out of vinyl and have a molded pattern similar to the other doll's bracelets--but without the background texture:

Here's a comparison:

The lever on the doll's back controls the rotational movement of the arms.  If the lever is pushed, the right arm moves downwards and the left arm moves upwards (simultaneously).  The arms snap back into their original positions when the lever is released.  This motion also activates sound and lights.  The same effect can be achieved by simply moving one of the arms up or down.

Here's a little movie to show you how it works:

The doll speaks four phrases, always in this order:
Save the day alarm!
Awesome hero-ing, Supers!
Follow my lead!
Let's super-speed this!

In between each phrase, there's a different sound effect.

When the lever is pushed, the gauntlets also light up in red and flash (between 5 and 30 cycles per second...).  Here's a still shot of the lights:

These lights are small and easy to miss, especially in the day time.

Even though Wonder Woman is supposed to be an expert at hand-to-hand combat, it bothers me that this doll is always fighting.  She should be called "Punching Action Wonder Woman."  The punching action is fun to activate, sure, but I didn't actually see Wonder Woman punch anyone in the cartoon...and I'm not sure I'd want to.  It's not really that kind of show.  Maybe this movement is supposed to represent her deflecting bullets with her bracelets?  Hm.

In any case, let's take a minute to explore a few of the non-violent activities that these fighting arms could be used for during play:

Knocking on a door.
Ooh, I caught a bug!
Milking a cow?
Driving with one elbow resting on the open window...or maybe that's pushing it.
Fist bump!
Yeah.  She's pretty much always fighting.

This Wonder Woman is also articulated at the hip and knee.  The lasso is flexible enough to accommodate the right leg kicking forwards:

But this is as far as the leg can move forward at the hip:

These legs cannot move backwards at all.  This is a slight difference from the debut doll-- explained by the differently-shaped bottoms:

The knees have hinged movement similar to what we saw on the other doll:

That's a pretty cool pose--like a martial arts stance.
The knees even rotate...

...although I'm not entirely sure that they're supposed to.  This movement is very stiff.  Stiff in a bad way.  In addition, the design of these knees is slightly different than it is on the debut doll.  

The Power Action doll has a rectangular peg connecting her knee to her upper leg while the debut doll has a rounded peg attachment.  Rounded pegs are much better at rotating:

The inside of the left thigh houses a small battery compartment.  There is no on/off switch for the sound feature on this doll, so removing the batteries is the only way to play with her in silence.  Believe me, I know this to be true.

Wonder Woman's limited hip movement makes it a struggle for her to sit upright on the ground:

She does even worse sitting in a chair:

Curse you for giving me these hips, Zeus!
Wonder Woman has blue vinyl legs, but the tops of her pants are painted onto her body.  This leaves some areas where the unpainted plastic is visible:

It's nice that this doll has some articulation.  Personally, though, I felt constrained in my play by her inability to sit and the activation of the sound feature with every bump of her arms. 

Wonder Woman's only accessory is the shield.  It snaps onto her wrist like this:

The problem with the shield design, as I see it, is that the "w" emblem on the front is tipped sideways when the shield is raised:

Sideways shield.
Contrast that to the position of the shield in its packaging:

Upright shield.
Or the position of the shield in the box art:

Another upright shield.
A shield is usually engineered so that the emblem is upright when the arm is in a defensive, flexed pose--you know, so that your enemy can see the full glory of your insignia.  The shield should be pointed sideways only when the arm is relaxed and straight.

If the shield is positioned on Wonder Woman's right arm and the arm is lifted away from the body, the "w" almost points upright:

That's the best I can do.
I guess this isn't a huge problem, but it's funny to me that Mattel would go to such lengths to have the shield packaged with the "w" upright...and then make it impossible for buyers to achieve this same position with the unboxed doll.  Oh, well.

Here are a few shots of Power Action Wonder Woman with her shield:

Knocking on a door with her shield.
Here are both of the Wonder Woman dolls together:

Power Action Wonder Woman (left), Wonder Woman (right).
I can certainly say that the debut doll is my favorite of these two overall, with her fabric clothing and great articulation, but each doll has pros and cons that are worth noting.

Power Action Wonder Woman (left), Wonder Woman (right).
The original Wonder Woman doll has real clothing and great articulation, but her hair is frizzy and her shoulder armor is so unstable that it's ill-suited for play.  Both vinyl parts of the outfit move around a lot and can lessen the sleekness of the overall look.  The bottom part of the outfit (pants and boots) are more detailed on this doll than they are on the Power Action doll.  The little pieces (bracelets, hands, belt) in this set might be problematic for little kids.

The Power Action Wonder Woman doll has molded clothing and limited articulation, but she has nice hair fiber and she feels very sturdy and compact--with no wobbly or removable parts.  I also think her shirt and shoulder armor is more attractive than it is on the other doll...even though it's not removable.    The lower part of the outfit is plain.  I don't care for the unrelenting sounds that come from this doll, or the fact that she's always punching, but I can see how some of the mechanized features might be fun for kids.

It's hard to pick which accessory I like best.  The lasso is dramatic for posing and photography while the shield orientation makes it frustrating in this context.  The shield might be more fun in a game, though, since it's easy to use and can attach securely to the doll.

Despite my personal preference, the Power Action doll might be better suited to young kids: fewer small parts, easier-to-manage hair, fun lights and sound.

In an effort to create one ideal Wonder Woman doll from these two, I'm considering a head swap.  I really like the Power Action doll's silkier, shorter hair (probably with a boil wash to remove the kinks).

What would also be great is if the articulated Wonder Woman could use the Power Action shield and make it look good.  Let's see if that works.

The shield actually does attach to the debut Wonder Woman's bracelet, which is a good start:

The shield stays in place pretty well, too.

And this doll's more flexible arms allow the emblem to be rotated into an upright position...but only if she holds her arm straight up in the air:

Most of the time, the shield's orientation is the same as it is on the Power Action doll.

Which still looks cool.
Bottom line?  When I think about it, there's not much new with this line.  The design of the dolls is familiar, the high school setting is commonplace, and the characters are well-known and beloved.  The strong, magical female-centered theme is great, but it's not really that unique anymore, either.

The familiarity of the line doesn't make it bad, though.  These are fun, well-made dolls, and I'm happy to have a few of them in my collection.  I find them a welcome change from Monster High dolls--without straying too far from that well-loved path.  I would prefer realistic Hot Toys versions of my favorite super heroes (both male and female), but this line is a nice, affordable way to introduce a great cast of iconic characters to girls who might not otherwise seek them out.

I'm distracted in my analysis of the Super Hero Girls by the idea of U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastic Team dolls.  How amazing would that be?  They'd have to be really well-made, of course.  But the concept has it all: girl empowerment, ethnic diversity, inspirational themes, trendy topic...and great accessory potential.  The dolls could have everyday clothes, team uniforms, gymnastics equipment, travel gear, truly muscular bodies and--of course--incredible articulation.  Best of all, they could come with true stories of hard work and success.  Real-world super heroes!  Perhaps this year's team will inspire that fantasy to become a reality some day.  

In the meantime, I'm having plenty of fun revisiting old childhood fantasies of flying jets and magic lassos with these two colorful, cheery, take-charge Supers.


  1. You've definitely been missed, so it's great to see you and your blog pop back up to the top of the feed! :)

    This was a great review (I wouldn't have even noticed the lack of clothes-sharing information if you hadn't mentioned it) - I love the concept of the DC Super Hero Girls (although I went for the action figures rather than the dolls), so it's great to see the details of both the original and the Power Action bodies. It was interesting to see that these dolls are a little taller than similar fashion dolls - the action figures are slightly shorter than similar figure lines, so it surprised me to see that the opposite was true for the dolls.

    And again, it's great to see you posting again and I hope your break from it all was a satisfying one! :)

  2. So glad you're back! It was such a pleasant surprise to see a post from you in my feed. :D

    I have to admit, I stopped buying products from DC years ago because I was tired of their misogynistic statements and tendencies, but these dolls have been tempting me when I've seen them... especially Batgirl! (Even if it's a bummer she's Barbara and they're probably never going to include Cassandra or Steph in the line.) It's always fun to see well thought out reviews like this because it's a chance to see them out of the box and played with without actually making the purchase yourself!

    Anyway, glad to hear things are clearing up for you and excited to see what you have lined up next.

  3. Delightful to see you posting again! I don't mind what sort of dolls you review, new or old. I like the way you talk about them, and your excellent photos. Reading your blog over the years has made me more open-minded about dolls and able to appreciate a great variety. Even when I think I won't be interested at all, I find myself drawn in, analysing the details and learning. It's really a fascinating topic!
    Wonder Woman is really pretty. From some angles she looks appropriately determined. The pictures of the 'alternatives to punching' cracked me up!

  4. Another great review! Thank you. I really love the face of WW doll. I wonder how her head would look like on Barbie's body, considering the size of WW's head...

    Have a nice day!

  5. YAY!!!!!!! You're back! :D I missed you a lot! :D I love your pictures of Wonder Woman...I almost got her after I got Batgirl, but I ended up returning her.

    Also, I think Mattel made a Made to Move Barbie look-alike for Gabby Douglas...

    I thought she was really cute, but could use some more muscles. :) Anyway, I'm so so so so glad you're back and doing okay! <3

  6. It's good to have you back. No one reviews dolls like you one! You are so thorough (it's the science major in you). And your photograpgy is amazing! I have the first wave Wonder Woman and absolutely love her. Thanks for coming back to us.

  7. Hi! I'm so happy to see you, and I'm glad you've made some changes that will simplify things for you. I will enjoy your blog any which way you make it happen. Big hugs and thanks for another great review. :)

  8. Welcome back!

    Re the clothing, would pooling resources help? I always mean to do those helpful "who wears what" things but generally I get lazy/impatient and forget lol. I'm a slacker.

    Anyway, missed your reviews and glad you see you're back, even if it is in a reduce capacity. Your reviews always catch something I missed, I always have to read em after I pose mine to see what I forgot lol. And then almost always it's like "wait.. that comes off!??? " or "how'd I miss that detail?"
    You have a great eye for it.

  9. So glad to see you back, Emily!

    I've been highly considering getting the Harley Quinn doll from this line, since she's my favorite comic book character, and these dolls look so fun to pose you may have just convinced me to run out and get her.

    Anyway, I've really been missing your reviews and I'm glad you've decided to start them again, even if just with older, more affordable dolls, and/or less often. I'm sure it's much more reasonable to only do a review every month or two, instead of 2 or 3 every month!

    1. I have Harley (despite her painted legs) and love her. So many fun poses with her mallet!

      So happy you are back, Emily!

  10. Squeeeee!!! Hello hello hello!

    What an awesome surprise, you have been missed. I have all three Wonder Woman dolls. I got the budget one at Walmart. I think it's not bad for a budget doll, full rotation in shoulders and head, and she still so substantial in your hand! There is a new one coming out as well with her invisible jet. Lots of exciting things happening in doll world.

    Finally got my first Hot Toys action doll, Wonder Woman!

    Anyway, so glad you are back.


  11. WOOHOOO! Miss Emily is back! So good to read from you ;)

    The changes you have announced will quite probably not take away your thoroughness and your passion for the Hobby we all love so much. I have always enjoyed your posts and most certainly will do so in the future.

    And now I will go reading your fresh post ;)

  12. You're back!!! Yay!

    Your review inspired me to get out my DC Super Hero Girls Bumblebee and see who else's clothes she can wear. Her options for sharing in playline dolls turn out pretty limited, so I guess it's a good thing that I sew... or plan to sew... or think about sewing.

  13. It's good to have you back. No one reviews dolls like you one! You are so thorough (it's the science major in you). And your photograpgy is amazing! I have the first wave Wonder Woman and absolutely love her. Thanks for coming back to us.

  14. Thanks for the review! I've seen these in stores and I thought they looked pretty cool, and was considering getting Wonder Woman, (even if I'm not a huge fan of the new cartoon - the Wonder Woman show from the 1970s will always be my favorite).

    ~Lydia~ <3

  15. Oh Emily I'm so glad you're doing well. I have been checking the blog periodically for an update (every day in the beginning, but then went down to about once a week) and I jumped out of my chair when I saw a new posting. Great job as always can't wait for more from you :)

  16. So nice to see you back! Your humour and thorough reviews have been missed.

  17. I'm so glad you're back! You have been missed!


  18. Welcome back!

    I find it interesting that a nicer hair fiber was used for the doll that is apparently intended for less "fashion" play. It's too bad that the cut of the nicer hair is so short (and scraggly), or you could just swap out the heads.

  19. It's great to read you again. I was worried about you.
    I can't even imagine the time it takes just to blog much less put together a pictorial review so I'm thrilled with whatever you can manage. I would be just as delighted with reviews of dolls from the past, both near and far: some dolls just never got much of a chance and, let's face it, no matter how long ago they came out, those of us who want to get one can find it on eBay just as easily as any new release.
    I like this new Wonder Woman( the first one), a few years I found a vintage one from the 70s or 80s with part of her outfit painted on.Luckily she's wearing that bathing suit costume from the show or she couldn't be redressed. I know doll makers also put molded on outfits for ballerina and fairy dolls and never like it on them.
    Since their faces are so alike, you're right to want to exchange heads to have more manageable hair.
    Thanks for another great review Emily, and it's wonderful to hear you're OK.

  20. So happy to see you again <3 Welcome back!

  21. So glad to see you back Emily :)
    Even if there was no more articles, I always came back from time to time, just in case... And it was a great surprise today!

  22. I'm so glad you're back and I cannot WAIT to see the rest of the dolls in your collection! I feel like you've only shown us a small portion of your collection, and I just so happy you haven't left us for good. <3

  23. So glad you and your blog are back Emily. You were certainly missed. It's your writing style, humour, curiosity and fresh point of view that make this blog what it is, and not the age or novelty of the dolls you review. Even old dolls deserve attention and tender loving care. I am still waiting for your Tulabelle review so keep them coming.

  24. Yesss, you're back!!! I missed you and am so glad you posted again :-). A wonderful review as always, with the good old Emily humor :-D. The speaking doll is my favorite of the two, that's a nice extra. I have been concentrating on vintage dolls myself lately, so I have no idea anymore what new doll lines are in the stores! I would love to read more reviews of your older dolls. Your idea of Olympic gymnast dolls sounds awesome, it would be so interesting to see such dolls in well made clothes and with good articulation.
    I don't comment usually, but I just wanted to say that you were missed a lot! Julia

  25. So! I literally just created a Blogger account to be able to comment on this blog under some kind of name...let's see if this works.

    Emily, though I haven't really ever commented on your blog before, I've been reading it for quite a while and I can safely say that no other doll site comes even close to the level of near-perfection Toybox Philosopher has achieved. As I'm sure you've been told multiple times before, your thorough manner and eye for detail are darn close to superhuman. (Which I suppose is pretty appropriate for a superhero doll review...) Despite this, you've always managed to maintain a tone that is simultaneously engaging and relentlessly respectful. I find this particularly remarkable considering that this is the internet, where people will tear each other to shreds and be generally hateful and rude over the most trivial things. You and your blog are rare gems.

    That said -- and trust me, I'm definitely not saying this to be cruel or to tell you you're not doing good enough -- I feel like just a bit of your usual humorous tone was missing from this particular review. I mention it because you've also said that life is "pretty complicated" for you right now and I have to admit that even though I'm overjoyed to see you alive and well, I'm still a bit worried about you. Maybe you're just tired, or maybe I'm even just imagining things, but if you ever need to talk about anything, I'm here and I'm sure many other more regular commenters are here too.

    Or don't, I'm just a robot on the internet and I don't want you to feel pressured or anything. Beep boop.

    Would it help your situation at all if people bought you things to review (with your permission)? Though I'm not swimming in money myself, I'd gladly contribute a few toys out of my own pocket just to see your thoughts on them. Then again, shilling seems to be a fairly big problem on doll sites and your tactful but straightforward honesty is another thing I really enjoy about your writing style, so erf. I understand if you don't consider that a viable option.

    I'm going to cut myself off here and wish you the best. It's very good to see you again and even if Toybox Philosopher can't operate in the same capacity as before, having it at all is something I'm immensely grateful for. Thank you so much.


    1. You are a sweetheart--thank you! I am truly fine. Not that I wouldn't enjoy having a coffee and a chat about life with anyone and everyone on this page! The humor was probably missing because I was focused on just getting the review finished. I have to get back up to speed! I'm sadly out of shape with this blogging thing... ;D

  26. I found that the hair on my articulated Wondy that I bought in February is actually pretty nice and easy to manage. It hasn't frizzed up yet for me. I wonder if there's a quality control issue going on.

    Also, it's great to see you back and to see how the action one works. I've been curious!

    1. Thank you for the hair information! That's very good to know. :)

  27. I'll be honest, I'd be thrilled to bits to see you're back even if you WEREN'T reviewing a doll in which I'd been interest, so that's just icing on the cake. Your fans adore you no matter how you adapt the blog (it's YOUR blog, after all!), it's just such a delight and major relief to see you back. Thanks for coming back and for dropping a line for your fans. <3

    Random fun fact: Mae Whitman also does the voice of Tinkerbell in the movies! Although I will always think of her as Ann from Arrested Development (her?).

    1. Mae Whitman is also the voice of Katara in Avatar the Last Airbender, one of the best shows in recent times!

    2. Oh--I love Katara and The Last Airbender! Wonderful shows. I didn't know that Katara is Mae Whitman. She's awesome.

      I also love the Tinkerbell movies! Ms. Whitman has excellent taste, doesn't she?

  28. It's good to see you back, and I hope you're doing better. We're here to support you!

  29. Seeing a new post from you made me unreasonably happy! Glad you're enjoying the new dolls!

  30. Happy dance here in Germany! Good to hear from you, Emily!

  31. Hi everyone!! Thank you for these wonderful comments! It's really touching to see so many familiar names and avatars. Thank you again for coming back to check in. I love how I always learn something new about a doll line from the comments of a review. The wisdom of crowds is a beautiful thing. I also just feel incredibly uplifted by your generously kind words. You all motivate me like nothing else: I'm obsessively working on the next post...which will be a little different. ;D

  32. Hi! Welcome back! You have been greatly missed and thought about frequently. And what a way to power back on the scene but with a Wonder Woman review (or 2). Thank you for the great review. I like both dolls, but my favorite of the two has to be the first. Mostly because you can change her clothes, but I also like her hair better.

    I am sorry to see the clothes sharing piece going by the wayside. That was extremely helpful for me when trying to clothe the Eden Toy Madeline I found at a flea market.

    Thank you again; it's great to see you back in my inbox. :-)

  33. Oh, I forgot to mention the uni-kitty. Supergirls' poster looks like the real version of the character in the Lego Movie. Uni-Kitty is awesome!

  34. Its great to see you back! I was very curious about what you thought of the new Barbie bodies and the Super Hero Girls. I haven't noticed much else interesting in doll land, but hopefully we hear your thoughts on the Monster High revamp sometime.

    I really don't blame you at all for wanting to cut back, but have you considered Patreon? Your blog is incredibly high quality and your reviews are the most detailed I've seen. I'm sure at least some readers would be happy and able to donate to help keep the cost of new dolls down for you.

  35. What a treat to see a new review! And I think I speak for the masses when I say please do not apologize for the hiatus. We are just happy to enjoy whatever posts you bless us with. This is one of the best blogs on the Internet, regardless of subject matter. You truly are a talent, and I welcome your return!

  36. I missed your reviews so much! I've been here from the beginning and have been regularly checking your blog hoping you would come back. I even have your blog still tagged to my front page. You're an inspiration to me. I think you have such a natural engaging voice when you write and it just sucks me in completely every time. It was a treat for me when you had prompt weekly uploads and now it will still be a treat whenever you make new posts! You're just a delight to read and I am a big fan. I started reading in 2012 and I'm still here checking all the time so that definitely means something! Thank you for all the enjoyable nights I spent admiring your beautiful doll pictures and funny comments. Thank you for this blog. It will always be special to me no matter what the future holds.

  37. It's so nice to see you posting again, and I'm glad that everything's okay. I'd much rather have the rare post from a blog I love than daily content that isn't saying much. Please continue to put yourself first with this, when it comes to stress, space, money, etc. I don't usually purchase play dolls, but I enjoy your reviews because of the honesty and the humor more so than the specific doll. I would equally enjoy any posts about what you already have instead of the latest new and shiny.

  38. Welcome back! I was afraid your blog was gone forever and was so happy to see a new post!
    Even if your new post will be different, your old posts will still be available and helpful for other collectors! Thankyou for sharing them!

  39. Glad to see that all is well! I got my debut Wondy back in April as a birthday gift from my brother, and I love her. Your review made me want to go get her off my shelf and play with her.

  40. Glad to see that all is well! I got my debut Wondy back in April as a birthday gift from my brother, and I love her. Your review made me want to go get her off my shelf and play with her.

  41. Omg! Emily is back!! Yes, you have no idea how much I missed your posts. I was constantly checking your blog for any news haha, I'm happy to see you back and hope all is well!

    I wanna say that I absolutely love the DC superhero girls! I think its so great that Mattel made something for us comic book lovers in articulated doll form like this. I myselk have Poison Ivy my fav Batman villain before Miss Harley and Catwoman haha! But she's still in box and I've been trying so hard to decide if I should unbox her or not. Do you have batgirl? She's so cute! As the only one I haven't seen in person, bumblebee has a really pretty skin tone and her hair is half real half painted on. Because she has that half shaved hair style. Did you known that at SDCC this year announced they would be making wonderwomans jet? It looks pretty cool, they're also going to release Starfire from Teen Titans and they did a Kantana as a SDCC exclusive, hoping for a regular release eventually, as well as a Catwoman doll. Oh as far as clothes sharing, from what I've seen on Instagram it looks like the DC girls could possibly wear barbie clothes and maybe squeeze into some bratz. Just thought I'd throw that out.

    Anyway, its great to see you around again! I can't wait to see what changes you make to the blog..hopefully it'll still be dolly goodness! :)

    1. I meant batgirl is the only one I haven't seen in person.

  42. Oh im so glad your back! I have loved this blog and when you where gone so long i almost gave up that you would come back! Also i have a question: have you ever reviewed lps (littlest pet shop) on this blog?

  43. Oh and if you are into lps are you a G2/G1 person or a G4 person. Im a G2 person even though i like and have some G4s. Thank you!!!!1!!!!

  44. Oops i found your review on the blythes and i am wondering if you could do a review on the pets themselves. Sorry for bothering you. Thanks again.

  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

  46. Yay, I'm happy you're back! I checked this blog at least once a week, in hopes that my favorite reviewer would have time to come back!

    Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of the DC girls; aside from the bodies! I love how slightly-muscular they are, and they have such pretty and thick legs! I'm not a huge fan of hero or comic dolls, so the three I have (my favorite being Super Girl) are all redressed and restyled. That's probably why I'm not a huge fan- I'm a fashion doll collector and these dolls' faces are very not-glam (and kind of generic looking outside of the Hero theme) but I do like the few I have and I NEED the Starfire doll!

    I had no idea Wondy had Kanekalon! The ones I've seen online and in person definitely had saran, so I wonder if it's a production variation. I'm kind of happy about it, honestly, because it'l be easier to give her a sleek straight style. Also- the glue appears to be the newer, more stable type; I restyle my dolls (which usually requires heat in the form of boiling water and a flat iron) and that normally disrupts the 'bad' glue and causes it to leak faster. I've had my girls for a few months and haven't noticed a blip of glue- and I'm a HUGE hair nut that notices everything.

  47. I'm sooo glad you're back! You should do a review on one of the Monster High reboot dolls or a review on one of the new Disney Princess Hasbro dolls.

  48. Great to see you're back! Might I suggest a Paypal button so we could chip in to cover dolls? You could even have a few buttons for different dolls, and we can "vote" for the dolls we want by trying to put that doll's Paypal over the top. :)

    I HATE the detachable hands and limbs. No matter how hard my daughter tried, those limbs get lost. None of her MH dolls are still complete because of this.

    I think the debut doll's head is very pretty. If it wasn't for the detachable wrists, I'd pick her up.

  49. Emily--I am SO glad you are back!!! I have missed not only your reviews and dolls, but your hilarious and entertaining commentary! I would be happy to pay to subscribe to your blog anytime, so keep that in mind. You should know that your blog is more than about dolls--it is a really fun escape from the routines and trials of every day life. So even if you are not reviewing new dolls, or even very frequently (one can hope, though!) it is SOOOOOOO good to have you online again!

  50. omigosh, you're back!

  51. Ahhhhhh I'm SO glad you're back, its been a pretty long day and this news cheered me up so much. I think the new approach to your blog sounds great. I'm looking forward to your posts!

  52. Ahhhhhh I'm SO glad you're back, its been a pretty long day and this news cheered me up so much. I think the new approach to your blog sounds great. I'm looking forward to your posts!

  53. I like your reviews and like the rest am glad to be back. That said my comment is in regards to epilepsy. I have it, and while I do not in fact have the light triggering kind, flashes of light, even fast dark to light transitions in TV can trip migraines which for me come before seizures, so its a good warning. I am a gamer and a doll collector, and a comic book geek so I admit I own this entire line and have since before your review but not the power action set due to the warning. With seizure disorders there's a lot of variety and more to the warning than you know.

  54. Glad your back! Love reading your blog. Can you post on FB when you make a new blog entry?

  55. Hello, i have a 80s Jem, and i would like to know if any DC superhero girls shoes would match Jem? Because its feet are too big to wear Monster High/Ever After High shoes