Showing posts with label movie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movie. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fan Girl Black Panther and Black Widow by Madame Alexander

During my final shopping trips to Toys 'R' Us a few weeks ago, I purchased a few things to review in depth, including two of Madame Alexander's Marvel Fan Girl dolls: Black Panther and Black Widow.  The Black Panther character was sold out at my local store, but she was still in stock online (and even on sale!).  So, I purchased Black Widow in person and ordered Black Panther online.  Black Panther took forever to ship, but I feel fortunate to have ordered her before the Toys 'R' Us website shut down.  These dolls were Toys 'R' Us exclusives.

One interesting thing about the Fan Girl line is that each character has a variant that's harder to find than the standard-release version.  These variants are called Fan Girl Finds and have specially-marked boxes.  The Fan Girl Finds cost the same as the other versions of the same doll.  For reasons I don't completely understand (movie popularity?), both of the Black Panther variants cost considerably more than the other dolls.  Toys 'R' Us sent me the Fan Girl Find variant of Black Panther ($79.99) and I purchased the regular version of Black Widow ($49.99).

In this review, I will take a close look at my Black Panther doll and do a quick overview of Black Widow.

Black Panther Fan Girl, gold variant ($79.99).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spirit Riding Free Toys by Breyer and Just Play

The original Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron movie by DreamWorks came out in 2002--the year my kids were two and four years old.  My four-year-old, in particular, was obsessed with this movie, in part because of the impressive steam engine featured in one of the climactic scenes.  At that time we were all listening to a series of tapes (yes, cassette tapes...) with songs about the construction of the transcontinental railroad, so both boys liked everything that had to do with trains.  Anyway, I loved the movie because of all the horses--and because the horses weren't given silly human voices.  Matt Damon adds a voice to some of Spirit's thoughts, but this is a rare occurrence, used only to forward the plot or explain a complicated scene.  The human protagonist in this movie is a kind-hearted Lakota teenager named Little Creek who yearns to ride Spirit, but knows when to stop trying.  It's a wonderful movie that will always have a special place in my heart.

In May of this year, DreamWorks premiered a new animated series on Netflix called Spirit Riding Free.  Season two of the series was released last week.  Fans of the original movie looked forward to this series with great anticipation, many of us hoping to rekindle the excitement we felt fifteen years ago when we were first introduced to Spirit's Wild West.

Both Just Play and Breyer have released a whole collection of Spirit Riding Free toys, and I will look at several of these in today's review.  I want to start the review by showing you something I bought right after I watched Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, though.  This is Breyer's 2002 model of Spirit himself:

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Breyer horse model, 2002.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Comparison Review of Three Mattel Wonder Woman Dolls

After watching the Wonder Woman preview fifteen times, I finally got a chance to go and see the real film.  It's amazing...or it has many moments of being amazing.  For example, I got choked up during all of the battle scenes--and now I see that I was not alone in having this reaction.  I mean, the battle scenes, for goodness sake!  Those are usually my least favorite part of a movie.  I actually found the love scenes in Wonder Woman tiresome and unnecessary, which is totally backwards for me.  As much as I enjoyed this movie, it didn't completely live up to all of my expectations.  In fact, my son and I critiqued the movie for the whole drive home--while cheerfully agreeing that we both loved it.  I kind-of knew something like this would happen, though, because when I'm obsessively eager to see a certain movie, my expectations get unrealistic and there's an inevitable (often temporary) let-down.  The same thing happened with Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast--except of course with those movies I enjoyed the fight scenes least and cried during all of the romantic scenes.

As a long-time fan of the Wonder Woman character, I've been thrilled to see all of the new dolls and action figures that have debuted during the past year or so.  There were a few Wonder Woman dolls released with the 2016 Batman v Superman movie (in which Wonder Woman has a cameo), and those offerings have probably tripled with the opening of the new film.

In this comparison review, I will look at a mix of dolls from Wonder Woman and Batman v Superman.  Strangely, all of these dolls are made by Mattel:

Black Label Batman v Superman Wonder Woman, Multiverse Wonder Woman, Battle Ready Wonder Woman.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Endless Hair Kingdom Barbie by Mattel

I've been going to Toys R Us every week for the past month, trying to find something new and exciting to review.  This is often a slow time of year (after the holidays but before summer) for new doll releases.  In fact, I've been noticing absences from the shelves more than additions: Bratz dolls have been discontinued and are gradually disappearing, the Journey Girls have been replaced by American Girl, Winx Club dolls--and their Make it Pop imitators--are gone, and although Cabbage Patch Kids are still around, they look really different under the Wicked Cool Toys label.

Amidst all of these changes, evidence suggests that Mattel might be doing well--recovering from their multi-year financial slump.  I don't have a lot of data to support this, but the Toys R Us doll section in South Portland is certainly dominated by Mattel these days: there's Barbie, Ever After High, Monster High, My Mini MixieQ, DC Super Hero Girls, Loving Family...and of course the whole American Girl mini-store.  The only chink in Mattel's armor seems to be the fact that Hasbro scored the Disney Princess license.

Mattel's dominance doesn't bother me the way it used to.  I think this company is starting to make a lot of great changes.  While I've all but lost interest in Monster High and Ever After High, I'm very excited about some of American Girl's new releases: the WellieWishers, Melody, Gabriella, Logan, Z and Nanea.  The Barbie aisle is more exciting to me now than it's ever been, too, with the brilliantly-articulated Made to Move characters and the diversity of body types and skin tones in the Fashionista line.  In fact, the most interesting doll I found at Toys R Us last week is a Barbie doll.  This doll is from Mattel's Endless Hair Kingdom collection.  She caught my eye because of her size (about 17 inches), her great articulation, and her very long hair:

Endless Hair Kingdom Barbie, $24.99.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Dolls from Hasbro and the Disney Store: The Beast

This is my second comparison review of dolls from the new live action Beauty and the Beast movie.  You can find my review of the Hasbro and Disney Store Belle dolls here.

I was much more excited about the Beast dolls from these two companies than I was about the Belle dolls--in part because of the underwhelming promotional pictures of the Disney Store's Belle, but also because the Beast is simply a more unique, intriguing figure.

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy reviewing the Beast--especially the Disney Store's version--but this fascinating character also somehow managed to make the unfortunate Disney Store Belle doll more appealing to me.  The two dolls compliment each other quite well, and bring out something...well, something that I didn't see before:

Toy Box Philosopher review
The Beast and Belle from the Disney Store, $34.95 each.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Dolls by Hasbro and the Disney Store: Belle

Last year, when I was re-thinking this blog and figuring out how to keep it in my life, I made a few resolutions.  One of them was that I would never feel obligated to buy another Disney Store doll.  Why? Well, when I first started collecting these dolls (back in 2012), I was blown-away by the high-quality product that Disney could offer for under $13. Over the years, though, the dolls have suffered a lapse in quality and an increase in price…to the point where I started feeling bad every time I made a Disney Store purchase.

So why am I reviewing a Disney Store doll now?  Well, frankly, it’s because I’m a total sucker for Disney movies, and I get a little obsessed when a new one comes out. When the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie was announced, I eagerly waited for the release of the associated dolls…and then bought all of them. I can’t say that this was a wise decision, but at least I’ll get to share what I learned with all of you.  In a short series of (not necessarily sequential) posts, I'll look at both the Disney Store and Hasbro’s versions of Beauty and the Beast's main characters.  I’ll start things off today with each company’s yellow-gowned Belle doll:

Beauty and the Beast's Belle from the Disney Store, $34.95.
(Shown on a Barbie Made to Move body)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

"Hermione Granger" by Star Ace Toys

In my post about Mattel's 2001 Hermione Granger play doll, I mentioned that I had another Hermione to review.  Several of you guessed correctly that it was Star Ace's new sixth scale figure from the My Favorite Movie series.  Aside from the fact that both of these Hermione dolls portray Emma Watson's version of the beloved character from The Sorcerer's Stone, they have very little in common.  First of all, the Star Ace figure costs about ten times as much as the Mattel doll: a whopping $210, to be precise.  However, Sideshow Collectibles has a great payment plan, and so I was able to make this purchase slowly over a period of almost half a year.  There are other differences--in size, quality and articulation to name a few, and also the fact that Star Ace's Hermione is not yet discontinued and can still be found for sale in several online locations.

The biggest difference between the two dolls, however, is that Star Ace's Hermione is strikingly realistic:

Sixth scale Hermione Granger by Star Ace Toys, $209.99.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sadness Figures from Pixar's "Inside Out"--A Comparison Review!

The Pixar movie Inside Out was released on DVD last week, and to celebrate I decided to review two different versions of Sadness--my favorite character from this show.  I absolutely love Inside Out, but when I watched it in the theater, I had to constantly battle with myself to suppress tears.  At one point I made a strange strangled noise to try and control an anguished sob, and the lady next to me shifted in her seat to increase the distance between us.  I don't blame her.  But there were other times during this movie--mostly when Sadness was talking--that I laughed until I was wiping away tears for the opposite reason.

As some of you might remember, my oldest son is getting ready to leave home and go to college, which is hectic, exciting, scary, wonderful...and sad.  Frankly, I walk around most days feeling emotionally stunned.  So this is a good year for me to latch onto a movie that deals with emotions and kids growing up.  And a good year to appreciate the delicate balance between joy and sadness.

I wanted a memento of Sadness from the movie, preferably one that would repeat some of the lines that made me laugh so hard.  As far as I know, there are only two large (non-plush) talking Sadness figures, one by Tomy and the other from the Disney Store.  I bought both to see which one captures this melancholy blue heroine the best:

Tomy's Sadness ($24.99) and Deluxe Talking Sadness from the Disney Store ($19.95).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Disney Fairies Dolls by the Disney Store and Jakks Pacific, Part Two: Periwinkle

This post is a companion to Melissa's great comparison review of the Tinker Bell dolls.  Thank you for all of the helpful background information and for your careful evaluation of the dolls, Melissa!  I agree that the Disney Store's Tink seems more appealing overall.  Her face is so darn cute, and I kinda like her movie-accurate leaf dress...even with the excess of "pixie dust."  Of course, it's not shedding glitter all over my house.

In any case, now it's my turn to take a look at the Disney Store and Jakks Pacific interpretations of Tinker Bell's wintery sister, Periwinkle:

Periwinkle dolls by Jakks Pacific (left), $14.99 and the Disney Store (right), $14.95.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Disney Fairies Dolls by the Disney Store and Jakks Pacific, Part One: Tinker Bell

I'm struggling with the fact that school starts for my kids in one week.  One week!  How did that happen?  What's worse is that I know there are kids across the country who have already started their classes, which seems crazy.  I always have a hard time buckling down to write reviews (or do anything productive, for that matter) when I'm faced with the last few precious days of summer.  However, this year I'm fortunate to have the assistance of some wonderful guest reviewers.  Today, my Canadian friend Melissa is here to help me tackle a comparison review of Disney Fairies dolls made by the Disney Store and Jakks Pacific.  You might remember Melissa from her thorough BEGoth doll review.

Incidentally, Melissa is also the person who got me hooked on Disney Fairies movies.  I was reluctant to watch The Legend of the NeverBeast because many online reviews say it's really scary and kinda sad...which it is.  But Melissa assured me that it's also great...which it is.  I loved it.  I cried a lot, but oh, how I loved it!  Fawn is awesome.  I also watched The Secret of the Wings, which isn't quite as good in my eyes, but is especially relevant to this pair of reviews.

In this post Melissa will compare the Disney Store and Jakks Pacific Tinker Bell dolls, and then I will waltz in for Part Two and compare the equivalent Periwinkle dolls.  I figured this would be a good way to have both fairy sisters represented...and also to provide two separate opinions about these very different brands of doll.

Tinker Bell by Jakks Pacific (left) and the Disney Store (right).

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Disney Descendants Doll Update Review

I have already reviewed the Disney Descendants Mal doll by Hasbro, but before I found her--unexpectedly--at Toys R Us in early July, I had pre-ordered several of the other Descendants characters.  In this update post, I will quickly share some of those other dolls with you.

Oh, and coincidentally, the Descendants movie premiered yesterday on the Disney Channel (I haven't seen it yet).

With many dolls lines, looking at one of the characters is sufficient because all of the dolls share certain basic features.  One of the things I like best about the Descendants dolls is that each character has his or her own unique head mold and coloring.  For that reason, my experiences with Jane, Audrey and Lonnie were all a little bit different...and resulted in me liking one of these dolls much more than the other two:

Jane, Lonnie, Audrey
Coronation Jane, Coronation Lonnie and Signature Audrey from Disney's Descendants movie.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Disney Descendants "Signature Mal" Doll by Hasbro

The Disney Channel is releasing a movie at the end of the month called Descendants.  This show is set in a modern-day imaginary kingdom and focuses on the offspring of famous Disney characters.  Re-imagining fairy tales has been an extremely popular theme these past few years--both in the movie/television world (Maleficent, Cinderella, Snow White and the Huntsman, Once Upon a Time, etc.) and in the doll world (Ever After High, Once Upon a Zombie, Fairy Tale High, Tonner's Re-Imagination line...and probably a few that I'm forgetting).  It's especially noteworthy how similar the Descendants premise is to the the inspiration behind Ever After High.

The Descendants movie plot centers around Ben, who is the son of Belle and the Beast.  The teenaged prince decides to invite several of the villain's kids (who have grown up banished on the Isle of the Lost) to attend his fancy prep school...and then--if I am judging from the trailer correctly--promptly falls in love with one of them.  The villain kids feel torn between the wishes of their evil parents and a growing fondness for Ben and his royal friends.  Several things about this whole set-up are confusing to me (do all of the fairy tale characters live in the same kingdom?  Are they all the same age?  Why does Ben get to be the leader?  Didn't most of the villains die before they got to reproduce?) but I'm willing to wait and see if everything is explained in the actual movie.

I thought that the 11-inch Descendants fashion dolls were being released just before the movie (on July 20th), so I pre-ordered a few of them and was eagerly anticipating their arrival.  However, last weekend I was visiting a Toys R Us store up north and found four of the dolls already in stock!  This was a nice surprise, so I jumped on the chance to do a review of one of the characters I didn't pre-order--who actually seems like she might be the star of the whole movie: Mal, the daughter of Maleficent.

Doll review
Disney Descendants "Signature Mal" doll, $19.99.

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.  So...it 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.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Cinderella and the Prince" from the Disney Store and Mattel's "Cinderella Wedding Day"

I'm back!  For those of you not on Facebook, I'll fill you in: I was in a bad car accident right after the Phicen review, and I broke my leg.  Everything is going really well, but I am about the slowest person on the planet right now, so it's just taken a really long time to get back on track.  The other thing is, this review is super-long and involves three dolls, so it would have taken me a while to create even with two fully-functioning legs.  I could have just chosen to review a simpler doll, I suppose, but this review involves Cinderella, and when Cinderella is on the scene, I find it difficult to think rationally.

Have I mentioned that I'm ridiculously excited about Disney's Cinderella live action movie that is coming out in 18 days on March 13th??  I've read comments around the internet suggesting that Disney really blew it by making another Cinderella movie, and that everyone has seen the story enough times already.  I respectfully disagree.  For me, this movie is (in true Disney fashion) a dream come true.  I never dared to even hope that there would be another Cinderella movie...but here it comes.  Premiering in less than a month.  I have watched the trailer for Cinderella about thirty times now (no exaggeration...) and it makes me weep every time--especially the part when Ella's mother says, Where there is kindness, there is goodness, and where there is goodness...there is magic!  Ahh!  Goosebumps!  It's going to be an amazing movie.  It has to be.

Of course I have also been anticipating the new Cinderella doll lines with significant enthusiasm.  Both the Disney Store and Mattel have produced versions of the main characters, and I thought it would be fun to do a comparison of the first pair of dolls I was able to get my hands on: "Cinderella and the Prince" ($69.95 from the Disney Store) and "Cinderella Wedding Day" ($29.99 from Mattel).

Cinderella and the Prince dolls set
Cinderella from the Disney Store's "Cinderella and the Prince" set.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The "Honey Lemon" doll from Big Hero 6

I stumbled on the Honey Lemon doll one day while I was casually browsing through the Disney Store's online collections.  At that time, I didn't know anything about the Big Hero 6 movie--I just noticed that there was a new redheaded Disney doll who looked really fun and full of character.

A few weeks ago, Christina recommended Honey Lemon to me over on Facebook, and I figured it would be a good time to actually see the movie and think about doing a review of the doll.  I still didn't know the story of Big Hero 6 when I went to the theater last week (the title doesn't give much away).  I knew the movie was loosely based on a Marvel comic book series by the same name, but that's about it.  I don't want to give away too much about the movie to any of you, but it's really a delightful, action-filled film with tons of heart.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and was even laughing out loud (and crying a little, too) on several occasions...even though I was the only one in the theater.

I think the Disney Store has only made articulated dolls out of two characters from this movie so far: Honey Lemon and Go Go Tomago.  Neither of these girls are the star of Big Hero 6, though.  The movie is carried by an engaging 13-year-old genius, Hiro, and his huggable robot companion, Baymax.  Still, Honey Lemon is a kind, brilliant, zany addition to the story and it's a treat every time she is on screen.  Although I'd really love to have a Hiro doll in my collection some day, for now I am happy to have the cheery, redheaded Honey:

Big Hero 6 Honey Lemon doll
The Disney Store's "Honey Lemon" from the Big Hero 6 movie.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Princess Malucia from "Barbie and the Secret Door"

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

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

Barbie's "Princess Malucia" flanked by Madeline Hatter (left) and Poppy O'Hair (right).

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Maleficent Doll Comparison Review

I have been eagerly anticipating next week's release of the new Disney live-action movie, Maleficent.  First of all, Maleficent is brilliantly named, and perhaps the best Disney villain of all time.  I mean, she turns into a dragon at the end of Sleeping Beauty, which is pretty hard to beat for diabolical awesomeness.  Second, the trailer looks great and I love the idea of a fairy tale being told from a different, darker perspective.  I expect something similar to Wicked, the book-turned-musical that tells the story of The Wizard of Oz from the Wicked Witch's point of view.

Unlike Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, this movie seems to be geared towards older children and adults.  It has a PG rating, but seems darker than most Disney movies.  Angelina Jolie's creepy-eyed portrayal of Maleficent might be too much for young viewers--her chilling laugh and eery smile are enough to make me jumpy.  The dolls for this movie also seem to be designed for an older crowd, too, which offers a nice contrast to my last review.

Both the Disney Store and Jakks Pacific have recently released 12" dolls based on characters from the Maleficent movie.  The Disney Store currently only has Aurora and Maleficent ($34.95 each).  Jakks Pacific has basic Aurora and Maleficent ($19.99 each), Coronation Aurora and Maleficent ($39.99 each), and also a Diaval figure that is available in a two-doll set with Coronation Maleficent.  In this review, I will contrast the Jakks Pacific basic Maleficent with the Disney Store's version.

Disney Store Maleficent
The Disney's Store's new 12" Maleficent ($34.95).

Friday, May 16, 2014

Dorothy & Toto from "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return"

The animated movie, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return premiered on May 9th and is getting perplexingly polarized reviews--people either love it or hate it.  I watched the trailer, but probably won't see this movie myself since it seems to be intended for a pretty young crowd.  I do have a general fondness for the original Wizard of Oz movie, though, based on our family's tradition of watching this classic every year when it aired on television.  I always forgot from year to year that the movie starts in black and white and then bursts into color once Dorothy gets to Oz.  For some reason, that effect was perpetually magical to me.  Anyway--because of this fondness, I always stop to look at Wizard of Oz merchandise at the toy stores.  A few weeks ago at Toys R Us, I noticed a brand new group of attractive-looking Dorothy dolls and stopped to investigate.  Seeing these dolls is actually how I first learned about Legends of Oz.  The new dolls are made by Bandai, and are designed to resemble the animated Dorothy from the movie.

Bandai's initial release of Legends of Oz toys includes three different 11" Dorothy dolls ($16.99-$24.99), a larger scale 15" child Dorothy ($19.99), and two sets of small secondary character figurines ($11.99 per set).  I was drawn to these toys not just because of their association with the Wizard of Oz, but because all of the dolls have very sweet faces.  I decided to review the 11" Dorothy that comes with a Toto companion, since this particular doll is in the middle of the price range and I am a fan of Cairn terriers (note: Dorothy can't actually hold Toto on her own):

"Dorothy & Toto" by Bandai, $19.99.