Mulan in the gardens

Springtime continues, and so do opportunities for many pleasant walks in the nature ( I’d probably miss most of them, if I wasn’t motivated by my dolls).

Still in the botanical garden, I found a spot that suited Mulan quite well.

It was a peaceful day with very few people in the garden, which I certainly appreciated. The sun was gorgeous too, but sometimes a challenge as well – too much direct sunlight and the doll’s lashes cast very dramatic shadows. (This picture, I felt, was still OK, but many had to be discarded)

I really wanted a photo of Mulan looking up from her fan, but I couldn’t quite get it right. This is the next best thing I was able to achieve – not what I had in mind, but I kind of like it anyway 🙂

The ground was not only covered with petals, it was overgrown with moss –  nature kindly provided doll-sized ‘grass’ for me 🙂

I hadn’t been to the botanical garden for years prior to this spring, and I didn’t realise it even had a Torii gate, which made the setting even better! By the time I discovered it, my camera battery had already died, but agreed to start back on for a few more pictures, as if understanding the gravity of the situation 😉 I would have been inconsolable otherwise.

The sign said that this was a Japanese gate… but perhaps Mulan is travelling?

Having rediscovered the botanical gardens makes me want to come back again soon. Different sections had a different feel about them. On the other hand, some cityscapes would be a nice change, if only I can find the courage to take a doll to a place that public. I really want to, but it’s an internal battle 🙂

Thanks for reading, I hope you’re all enjoying spring and enjoying your dolls 🙂

Advertisements

Hasbro Royal Collection Deluxe Mulan

I gladly say that, in my opinion, Disney Store makes the best Disney Princess dolls there are. However, I have to say I have found an exception. I think Mulan dolls by Hasbro are better depictions of the character, and this one is the most elaborate of them all so far:

Now, if you already know you like this doll, you should know that at the time of posting this, the doll is on sale for 10,78 USD from 29,99 USD on Amazon.com (it is an Amazon Exclusive), so feel free to drop the reading and go buy her immediately :). If you’re not so sure, perhaps this review will help you decide whether she is worth adding to the collection. Oh, and perhaps I should mention I’m not paid to say any of that – I thought I’d share what I think is a cool find 🙂

My package traveled very far very fast, and unfortunately the box cracked in transit. That’s not a huge problem, since I was going to unbox her anyway. It is a very pretty box, though, that I think in-box collectors will appreciate:

I certainly appreciated the lovely images that looked very true to the animation.

P1150612.JPG

This is the first Hasbro doll in my collection. I must say that when it comes to the unboxing process, it was every bit as tedious as with other brands. Countless, countless tiny tabs, there is always at least one more hiding when you think you got them all. On the positive side, if you want her shipped to Mars, she won’t budge in her box.

At first glance, I’d say Mulan looks very sophisticated and overall gives an impression of nice quality.

She has a face that is reminiscent of the animated style of the film, finished off with ‘real’ eyelashes:

She is wearing removable earrings and a lovely crown with a lotus flower. The crown is attached with both a comb and some thread, for good measure. I am uncertain how well it will stay on with the thread removed.

Her hair is styled. Nothing extremely complicated, but just elaborate enough. She has some green tinsel in her black hair – this, I’m not a fan of…

P1150637.JPG

The hair is long, it reaches well beyond her hips. It is smooth and completely free from any styling product.

Her dress, a ‘hanfu’, I would (ignorantly) assume, is made of satin-like material, printed with flowers and some glitter accents. The blue and red middle section is permanently attached to the dress (unlike the sheer, light blue shawl, in other pictures – after you remove the one last hidden tab, that is).

P1150647

The sleeves are quite impressive:

P1150629b.JPG

Her shoes are not quite as thrilling – they basically scream ‘playline!’:

P1150654.JPG

They are on an incline, but without a heel or a platform – it’s like she’s wearing flats and standing on the tips of her toes.

There is a two-toned fan that she can hold on her own. I think it’s a very nice accessory:

P1150644.JPG

Finally, the set includes a stand. Like the shoes, the stand looks kind of childish, but is nonetheless a welcome and practical addition. It’s going to be neccessary, given the shape of her shoe-soles.

P1150665

That concludes the list of accessories. Now onto her articulation! She has articulated elbows and wrists, which I believe is an upgrade over the classic Hasbro princesses. Unfortunately, the joints do not allow the arms to bend nowhere near a 90 degree angle:

P1150655.JPG

The knees do not bend at all, the legs are just solid plastic. The legs do go to the sides a bit, as above, and front and back, as seen below.

P1150656.JPG

The articulation is, therefore, mixed. Even an internal knee joint would have allowed the doll to sit on chairs with a semblance of grace; no such luck. The arms, although limited as to the angle of movement, do allow just enough poses to make photography options more varied.

Since Mulan is my only Hasbro doll, I was wondering what kind of clothes that I already have might fit her. Supergirl’s outfit (DC Superhero Girls) fits, but that’s not really a viable option:

P1150657.JPG

Original Barbie clothes sort of fit, with some room to spare:

P1150660.JPG

Now, Petite Barbie clothes fit really nicely!

P1150661

P1150663

Barbie shoes are definitely too small, but some Ever After High / Monster High shoes can be squeezed on – if you don’t mind that she’s levitating a tad:

P1150658.JPG

EAH / MH clothes, however, are way too tight. So much so, there are no images available 🙂

Finally, let’s talk about the overall impressions.

P1150677.JPG

Unlike e.g. Disney Store Limited Edition dolls (but perhaps somewhat like their Special Edition releases), I feel like this Deluxe doll by Hasbro is intended for children, but perhaps as an extra special gift. This is of course no reason not to buy one for the collection! When it comes to her appearance, I don’t think she is lacking in any way at all. Her ‘compromise’ of an articulation gives away that she isn’t as top notch as she could possibly be, but it is her shoes and the overly sweet and childish-looking stand confirm in my mind that she was meant for a younger audience. And that’s fine – after all, adults shouldn’t have all of the Disney fun.

Is she then worth her price? She is beyond a doubt worth her discounted price. When it comes to the full price – close to 30 USD – I think she should have the full articulation to fully deserve it. That said, it won’t matter if she’ll make you happy with her striking looks alone, especially for those who decide to keep her in her lovely box.

Personally, I think she looks beautiful and have no regrets 🙂

P1150627.JPG

 

 

 

A little more Little Kingdom

My personal Frozen fever continues… with a little side of Cinderella.

P1150504

I recently went to an outlet store with a view to buying some pretty mundane stuff and they happened to have lots of awesome toys at a 50% and more discount, among them, the Little Kingdom Frozen series. And a single Cinderella.

P1150507

I really like the Little Kingdom, and Anna and Elsa are especially cute. After a moment of deliberation, I grabbed the “Royal Chambers” playset for half of the regular price.

P1150520

It is a two-level mini-castle with opening doors, a working swing, a movable bed and chest and a detachable fence that helps connect the set with other ones in the series. The stained glass also rotates to show an alternate view: spring Arendelle scenery. It is decorated with traditional details.

P1150522

The chest is a great accessory. It actually holds the snap-ins and Elsa’s gloves. She has tiny removable gloves (Elsa is shown wearing them in the previous picture)!

The front of the castle is just solid violet plastic. It would certainly look lovely with the details painted in.

P1150526

Elsa’s outfit is the coronation dress. Her hair is also styled as in the coronation scene . Her cape comes off, and you need to do just that to let her use her swing:

P1150523

I don’t know why Elsa’s body is a block of plastic, unlike the usual design with actual legs and a removable skirt. I thought maybe it was the only way for her to sit in the swing, but no. My other Elsa sits just fine, if not better than the one from the set.

P1150524

I already have an Anna to keep her sister company, but I bought even more friends. This here Kristoff was marked at a price that translates to roughly 1,75 USD!

P1150509

He can wear his snowshoes and hold his lantern. He moves his legs and arms and his hat is removable – no pegs, it just sits on the head. He comes with a Husky (?) and a bone for the puppy. Too bad Sven wasn’t included.

I have really wanted an Oaken for a while, and that was before I found him on sale – same price as Kristoff’s. I’ve wanted him because I love the cute detachable skis – they remind me of a Kinder egg toy I had a child and which I loved – a skiing frog, whose skis I unfortunate lost, ending the fun.

P1150514

Oaken’s hat also comes off, although leaving a hole in his head (where the peg goes). His backpack is also detachable and it opens. You can put his bunch of carrots in it. Again, too bad Sven isn’t around to enjoy these.

P1150516

He can move at his waist and at his arms, but not a lot. They also look like noodles looking from the side:

P1150512

Only slightly creepy 🙂

Here are all my Frozen characters together, including my previously bought Anna:

P1150529

Then there is Cinderella. I don’t find her quite as cute as the other characters, but she was discounted to about a dollar, so definitely worth it, even just for the accessories.

P1150517

To me, she has slightly crazy eyes, but is adorable otherwise. I certainly like the colours on her.

P1150518

Everything except the playset was kind of beat-up, which is a shame, as I would have gladly bough a few more pieces as gifts for the kids in the family. I did take just one more playset to gift away.

All in all, it was a very lucky shopping trip. I really like the design and the quality about the Little Kingdom series. Admittedly, I don’t expect to find as many creative uses for these toys as I do with full-sized dolls, but I am thinking about at least upgrading the castle with some paint details and snapping a few pics. Anyway, it would have been a crime not to bring them home 🙂

Mini Review: Disney Little Kingdom Elsa

One of the little secrets that most people in my life don’t know is that I like many of the same things that the kids in my family do. I prefer to keep it that way, but there is always a chance of them stumbling upon my blog 😉

Recently in particular, my nieces got a little Elsa figure each. I saw them and thought they were actually really cute! Perhaps I would have forgotten about the toys by now, if they hadn’t been popping up everywhere in shops at the moment! Many a time I stopped to admire them and moved on, because I thought the prices were a little excessive (end because even adults need an excuse to spend money on toys :))

Finally, I stumbled upon a single, tattered and significantly discounted Little Kingdom cutie. I hesitated because I am not a huge mini figure collector, but I did like her, and she was only half the original price, so I though, now or never.

From the box we can learn that these are made by Hasbro. Actually, I didn’t know that, but it makes sense given their cooperation with Disney in the doll department.

Elsa was safe and snug in a plastic tray:

…but, as if there was any chance of her escaping, she was also secured with a tab, which caught me off guard. Why does there always have to be at least one tricky tab?

Luckily, being a tab-cutting veteran, I dismantled the packaging and set the lovely Elsa free. Isn’t she just precious?

I thought I knew what I was getting, but I was struck by how well-made she feels in your hand. While her flesh-toned pieces and the snap-ins are made of the hard plastic that I had expected, the rest feels like vinyl – whatever it is, it feels great.

Her little face is soo adorable.

Little Kingdom Elsa

I fully expected all the mini-dolls in the series to have the same style of eyes and other facial features, but if you can see

They all have slightly different eyes and smiles. That said, Anna and Elsa are towards the top of the cuteness scale, in my opinion.

Back to our figure. Here she is, seen from the back. The sculpting of her braid is fairly intricate!

Here are the snap-ins that I have mentioned:

Is that you, Marshmallow? I don’t know who would like to accessorize with a snow monster. I like the snowflakes, at least in theory. In reality, there aren’t many viable configurations for these pieces:

no…
uh, no.

I prefer to keep it simple. Luckily, her dress is cute in itself.

The top, the overskirt and the long skirt are separate pieces. I really like the style they create altogether.

I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but ever since I saw my niece’s Elsa – in the same style dress, but with a feather-like ice crystal in her hair – she keeps reminding me of a flapper girl (this Elsa).

I like how each part is slightly different in colour, texture or opacity. The top is pearly, the overskirt is glittery, and the long skirt is translucent with lovely snowflake designs:

…and I like how her little foot peeks through 🙂

The pieces are easy to remove, and are supposed to be mixed and matched with other sets. The top part of the skirt ‘unfastens’ in the back:

Unfortunately, the outfit kind of needs the glittery layer. Without it, there is a gap in the front.

On the other hand, you can definitely pull down the long skirt, creating a cute short dress:

Her legs and shoesies are adorable – even though everything is painted on.

The little top has a little problem – if you lift up her arms, the sleeve pops off. However,  I don’t really see a good way to avoid this myself, so it’s a minor complaint. Also, if you remove it, there is an unattractive hole in her chest area. I wish you could cover it with one of her snap-in decorations for a sleeveless but gap-less look.

One the mentioned minuses also brings me to a major plus – she is quite well articulated! She can sit, and each of her limbs moves individually. I completely did not expect this! I thought they were completely stiff figures!

I had to lean her against something for this particular shot, but she can actually stand on her own, too.

This isn’t all – she has head articulation too! It moves in every possible direction. The movement is smooth and feels… just right.

Little Kingdom Elsa

All these discoveries made me rethink my stance on their pricing. These is a very well made little toy!

Overall, she is adorable and she knows it 🙂

In conclusion, I was very positively surprised with this Little Kingdom figure. I have learned to resign to declining quality in toys, but in this case, everything exceeded my expectations. I do think my child self would have enjoyed playing with a mini-doll like this. From a collector standpoint, I also think there is much potential. Their vinyl-like material reminds me of popular vinyl collectibles like Funko Pops, and while Little Kingdom princesses are designed for play rather than display purposes, they too have this kind of simple yet appealing stylisation about them. I don’t know if I will be spending a significant part of my doll budget on these minis, but if I ever stumble upon a great deal like this, I will gladly get Elsa a Little friend.

P.S. Nobody pays me to like these 🙂