New (used) Animators’ Merida!

If you have been following my posts, you know that the next doll I wanted to eventually add to my collection was… Ariel. I am still hoping to own her one day, but in the meantime I saw a very good offer online for a used Merida doll and I decided to take advantage of it.

By the looks of it, the doll was in a good condition, despite probably coming from a child’s collection (she was sold among other children’s toys), and, what is totally unheard of pre-loved kids’ dolls, she had shoes!

Both shoes! Can you believe that? πŸ™‚

Alas, my seller thought it was a good idea to send her in a bubble envelope. That’s irresponsible packaging.

Merida's feet in bubble wrap

She was about ready to get out of it, too. All that pent up Merida energy πŸ™‚

I wasn’t thrilled to see how she’s handled traveling in pretty much a loose bag…

Animators' Merida opening a package

Even if her hair was in a decent state at the time she was put out for sale, it wasn’t so anymore after her difficult journey.

The most disturbing part was the mist of frizzy hair surrounding her head:

Animators' Merida frizzy hair

Deciding to buy second hand I took comfort in the fact that doll hair can be restored if needed, but it wasn’t my plan for this doll initially. Now this necessity was looking me in the face from behind her out of control curls.

Even knowing that the hair situation is serious, I honestly considered leaving it as it was – at least for one “thrash the doll” photo shoot, because a) it is in Merida’s character to have her hair somewhat messy and not care, b) I knew that if I put a lot work into fixing her, I will be skittish about having her outside doing the very ‘adventurous’ things she is meant to do.

Finally, I decided I had to redo her curls if I were to fully enjoy her as a new doll.

And here she is after the operation:

Animators' Merida fixed hair

I do not claim that the hair is now the best it can be, but it’s certainly an improvement. Keeping in mind that I can’t be the only person facing the problem of ruined doll hair I intend to devote a separate post to explaining how to re-do dolls’ curls.

Call me a hygiene-freak, but I also scrubbed her clean and hand-washed her clothes and shoes, because it bothered me that I didn’t know where she’s been and what she’s been up to. I also ironed her dress on a low setting, avoiding the pattern area altogether, because it was a bit creased. It still is ever so slightly, but I didn’t want to go overboard and ruin it.

Disney Animators' Merida 2015

Now that she is nice and neat I feel like I can say a few words in the way of an informal review.

Based on her dress, she is the latest version of the Animators’ Merida dolls – still available at the Disney Store. I believe she is from 2015, but I am not entirely certain.

Her dress is reminiscent of the first series of the dolls, with two major differences: the new dress lack the sash, but it does have an interesting print near the hem. I would have liked the sash, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to add, while the Celtic pattern would be hard to come by in fabrics and other doll clothes, so I am glad it’s there on my doll’s dress. (There is also the second edition green-dress Merida – I like the colour of her dress the most, but then the shape looks too modern to me. Have no fear! I will sew something green for her to run around the forest in :))

Animators' Merida shoes, tights and pattern

I am overjoyed to have another pair of shoes to match with my handmade outfits, and they are lovely! It’s a great colour which will naturally work with certain blues, provide a pop of colour in more low-key outfits and should be sweet in combination with various pastels. I also like the shape of the shoes a lot – as much as I love Mary-Jane shoes, the ones that most Animators’ dolls wear are a little bulky. It’s not so with these cute flats, the shape is very graceful and versatile. I must admit that these shoes were a big incentive for me to buy the doll.

The tights are not elastic at all, which I believe to be the reason why they wrinkle at the ankles. That’s a little unfortunate.

Another great reason to have this Merida doll in your collection is of course her unique facial features:

Disney Animators' Merida face 1

Her mischievous smile proves that the creators of the Animators’ series know how to pour the characters’ personality into a doll, in my opinion better than in any other line of Disney dolls. However, she is not only precious as an accurate representation of Merida, she is a fun and unique doll regardless of what sort of character she will be in her owner’s imagination.

I am not even a huge fan of Brave, but this little rascal is too cute to pass up.

Despite certain challenges I am pleased to have purchased this particular doll. I did have to put my time into restoring her, but thankfully I did have the time to spare, and she cost half of what Animators’ dolls in similar state (and often without shoes!) cost. She has a lot of unique personality and I can’t wait to sew something designed especially for her, whether medieval or modern in style πŸ™‚

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Rapunzel goes to Rogalin

Today I was on a trip to Rogalin. It’s been five years since I visited its beautiful park and I was really glad to be able to go again. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking Rapunzel with me.

The weather wasn’t great and, let me say this up front, neither are the photos. Their redeeming quality is that they look very much like normal family photos taken on a trip, and I wanted share them as such:

Rapunzel in RogalinRapunzel in front of the palace

Rapunzel on a trip.jpgRapunzel with 700-hundred-years-old oaks

Oddly, both the top and the dress are loosely based on the free pattern from Ninnuska. Theoretically it’s a bathrobe pattern (well, I think it is :)), but these were one of the first pieces that I sewed and I didn’t know of any more appropriate pattern to base a top or dress bodice on. The pattern is for an item of clothing that opens at the front, but I didn’t know that and it works well the other way around πŸ˜‰

My April Blossom

Rapunzel Animatora' floral dress

This floral dress is something I sewed a few weeks ago and I couldn’t wait to try it on Rapunzel. I think it suits her rather well.

The dress is based on the Mimi Sewing Pattern for Disney Animators’ Collection Princess Toddler Doll by Dolly Delicacies and no, unfortunately I’m not payed to say that πŸ™‚ I made some changes to the pattern: my dress is longer and the sleeves are more puffy.

Rapunzel Animators' on the grassJust smell the grass, the dirt, just like I dreamed they’d be…

Rapunzel Animators' with a jug

It was something about this dress made me want to take a photo at the side of water, with the ‘model’ holding a jug – I think it reminds me ofΒ  a vintage poster I saw a long time ago, but the exact memory is lost.

DSCF8170.jpg

Vintage photograph edition. Now this kind of reminds me of family photos in my grandmother’s garden.

Rapunzel Animators' by the water

The trees are in bloom, and it won’t be much longer, it never is. I wanted to take advantage of it, but the actual blooms were out of the reach of a 16 inch doll. Perhaps you can see some petals one the ground, though.

Rapunzel Animators' by the trunk

This Rapunzel won’t be spending her life in a tower πŸ™‚

Washing Rapunzel’s hair

As I mentioned in my previous posts, the new doll had “crunchy hair” from the amount of gel that was in it. It’s a little scary to put a brand new doll into a bath, but I was convinced it was necessary. For a somewhat scary operation it turned out to be kind of fun and produced a few cute photos that I wanted to share.

Please excuse the doll nudity πŸ™‚

02b Rapunzel washing hair

I washed her hair pretty much like any hair (I did use a gentle organic shampoo. I’m sure vinyl skin is very sensitive :)). People advise using conditioner on dolls to facilitate brushing, but she didn’t have any tangles and I wanted to see what her hair is like without any product whatsoever.

03 Rapunzel washing hair

I intended not to mess with the original parting, but a few strands got displaced anyway. I had to move the hair strand by strand to restore the criss-cross pattern that ensures there are is no blank line in the middle.

04b Rapunzel washing hair

I learned a few things about doll hair in the process. Looking at online auctions of used dolls used to make me wonder how children manage to make straight-haired dolls look like poodles. Well, now I know. The hair is slightly elastic. If you pull on it too hard while brushing it stretches and then springs back curled up. It only happened to a few individual hairs in my case, but I can see how harsh brushing can turn it all into a frizzy mess. Even if it does happen there are ways of restoring it, just look around on YouTube or Google (I haven’t tried any of them myself yet).

Another tip I can share is that it helps to put a small pillow under the hair while brushing.

05b Rapunzel washing hair

All done and lovely, if still wet.

Disney Animators’ Collection Rapunzel Review

I gave a lot of though to which doll I should choose.

I liked both Rapunzel and Ariel very much, but I decided to give Rapunzel a higher priority, because I relate more to her as a character.

Even with this decision out of the way, my dilemmas had only begun. Perhaps, even almost certainly, I was taking this too seriously, but since there were two models still available online (2013 and 2015), I spent days weighing the advantages and advantages of each (I’m sure there are people out there who give less thought to buying a car). I by far preferred the dress on the older model, but I wasn’t even certain the doll would spend a lot of time wearing her original dress. The greatest drawback was that her lips were purpleΒ  – it seemed like a colour that would clash with the more neutral clothes I prefer to sew with. The actual doll seemed more important than the dress, and so I went with the 2015 version.

Even though I’d seen countless photos and videos, I wasn’t 100% accurate in my imaginations, so it’s time to weigh them against reality.

I would like to first discuss the design in general, and then the execution of the particular doll that I own.

01 Disney Animators' Rapunzel Review

In terms of design, I am very pleased with the doll.

I especially love that this doll, and all dolls in the collection, look so much like their charactersΒ  in the films. I have never seen dolls which would be closer depictions of the animated Disney characters, and that even though they are made as toddlers.

I knew vaguely that each doll in the Animators’ collection has a unique face mold, but I when I put my dolls side by side, I was surprised how different they were – they do share the same style, but their foreheads, cheeks, chins etc. have different shapes. The colours of their complexion also vary. Both dolls’ skin has a matte finish, which is a positive for me.

I’ve read and heard a few people say that the Rapunzel dolls look sad. I disagree. To me she looks pensive. I like her like that, not only visually, but also in that it gives her more personality. I think it’s a bold step to make a Disney princess doll without a cute happy smile, and I applaud this decision. To me it’s one of many proofs that they are something more that simple children’s toys – to me, they are Disney art poured into a tangible object, and I love that πŸ™‚

As I mentioned I quite like the lip colour, I believe it’s the most neutral one on an Animators’ Rapunzel so far, which is a good thing. It’s still pretty pink – I am under the impression that cameras tend to render it as a bit more peachy than it actually is (good luck trying to establish the ‘real’ colour of a doll’s features based on even a high number of photos – I did that and I still was a bit surprised when I saw the colours in person).

04 Disney Animators' Rapunzel Review

I was rather disappointed when I first saw this model’s dress online. For me, it doesn’t make sense to have an opened top layer that is identical to the fabric at the bottom. I like this cut a lot, but to my mind the layers should at least have different shades, and I feel quite strongly about that πŸ™‚ That said, when I saw the dress with my own eyes I decided that it is better than I expected – it’s pretty enough for me after all. I do like the bodice, which has stayed unchanged from the previous releases. The dress looks neat and is pleasant to touch.

The dolls hair, on the other hand is simply delightful to touch! It’s smooth, it’s long, it’s shiny πŸ™‚

I was well aware that Rapunzel doesn’t come with any shoes, and I know that it’s intentional, but I am not happy about that. I’d like her to have something to wear with the outfits I make. What is more, if I ever do buy Ariel, the shoe crisis will only deepen. Ideally, I wish they would box them barefoot, but put a pair of shoes in the package. I’d be happy to pay a reasonable price for spare ones, too.

Rapunzel comes with a stuffed Pascal. He’s kind of flat and useless and I don’t care for him πŸ˜‰

Overall, it’s a very cute doll. I think that the design of the doll itself is great, but since the outfit has changed slightly with each line, the design of the dress has perhaps suffered slightly from the imposed changes.

02 Disney Animators' Rapunzel Review

However, I also wanted to point out some problems which are not inherent to the design, but seem to be the problem of this particular doll that I own.

I had seen online that some dolls seem to have better rooting than others. I dreaded the though that mine could be one of those less blessed with hair, but since I ordered online, there was no way to find out. Unfortunately, it did turn out to be kind of poor.

03 Disney Animators' Rapunzel Review

The spaces between the individual strands are quite wide, even more so farther away from the hairline.

My Belle’s rooting is way better at the hairline, I’m not certain about the scalp overall. Her strands are finer and more densely rooted, and because of that much less obvious. However I’m wondering if it’s even fair to compare their hair in terms of quality. I think rooting may vary quite drastically between different dolls in the series (seeing Tinkerbell’s hair for example…) depending on their hairstyle – Belle’s hairline is more exposed. Even so, based on other people’s photos I think that there exist somewhat better rooted Rapunzel dolls. The fact that mine isn’t on of them was a disappointment for me.

Her hair has a lot of gel in it, so much so that it stands at the hairline. Perhaps it will lay flat after washing and that will help conceal the gaps.

Other than that, the hair is gorgeous. The unimpressive little strands amount to surprisingly thick, lovely hair farther away from the head.

01 flaw

There are some other minor defects, but they do not bother me as much, because they are either less visible, or likely possible to be fixed. One eye’s corner has little specs of paint, and a fraction of the skin-coloured outline is missing. There is some varnish next to the other eye which looks a bit like a tear. There is also some misplaced varnish on her right arm. The rubber band by which Pascal was attached left an indentation in the other arm. Her underwear is unevenly sprayed on.

 

On the positive side, there is virtually no staining on her body, even though it seems to be a fairly common problem among the Animators’ dolls.

I had put so much thought into choosing the right and perfect doll for me that at first it was a little hard to accept that there are some flaws. When you shop online, the unboxing is the ultimate test of what you really got and, at least for me, there is some pressure in that moment. I worried what happens if it’s not perfect and guess what – it’s not.Β But only a day has passed and it already matters less. I suspect none of them are impeccable, Belle had some imperfections too. It’s life in a nutshell πŸ˜‰

Overall, I am definitely happy to have Rapunzel in my tiny collection. It is a beautiful, adorable doll, and on top of that, one based on my favourite Disney film of the recent years. As a doll sewist, or whatever it is that I am, I am especially excited about her as a new model, bringing in new colours and new opportunities. But ever before I manage to create something special with Rapunzel in mind, she brings me joy just standing there and being pretty πŸ™‚

Rapunzel’s Arrival

New Disney Animators' Rapunzel 001b

Say hello to my new doll – Disney Animators’ Collection Rapunzel (no, you don’t really have to) πŸ™‚

She arrived yesterday, and I intended to unbox her today in the morning to ensure good light for photos, but unfortunately I decided against waiting πŸ˜‰ Since we live in a day and age when boxes are apparently extremely important, here is an ‘in-the-box’ photo from last evening:

New Disney Animators' Rapunzel 000

New Disney Animators' Rapunzel 007

My dolls getting to know each otherΒ  A comparison photo of Belle and Rapunzel. Rapunzel is as taken out of the box, Belle has been out on a few adventures and has had her hair restyled slightly.

New Disney Animators' Rapunzel

 

She’s adorable, right?