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Saturday, February 15, 2014

My favorite princess

Princesses have always been a popular thing with little girls and with a fair percentage of doll collectors.  They are clearly popular here on Blogspot as well; Beastsbelle's favorite princess is obviously Belle, from "Beauty and the Beast," and Miss Emily likes both Cinderella and Rapunzel (particularly the way Rapunzel is portrayed in "Tangled").  Given their open fondness for a particular princess, I believe it is my turn to discuss this topic.  My personal favorite princess has always been Sleeping Beauty.  Yes, I know that she's the most...well, the most repressed, as the feminists would say, but there are positive things to be said, at least for Disney's portrayal of Sleeping Beauty.  Aurora is kind to animals and respectful to her elders, has an active imagination, and is willing to do chores without complaint (remember that when her character is introduced she's picking berries for her guardians).  Yes, she spends half the movie asleep and part of her waking hours dreaming of a prince that will magically appear in her life, but cut her a break!  She's only sixteen, and most teenage girls love to dream.  Besides, I've always loved the story, especially the way Disney tells it, complete with fairies, a hunky prince, an unabashedly evil villain, and a fire-breathing dragon.  It's that stereotypical fairy tale that everyone talks about, and I eat it up with a spoon!

That being said, there doesn't seem to be the abundance of Sleeping Beauty-themed dolls on the market, at least, not in the current collectors' category.  Playline dolls, on the other hand...oh, there's plenty!  Of course there's Mattel's Disney Princess Aurora, the only Sleeping Beauty that I currently own.  Here she is with one of her buddies.
She was a gift from a caring friend during my final year of college, so she's special to me.  There's nothing that really sets her out from other dolls aside from the head mold, but I still love her.  I would love to have some variety to compare her to, though.

Apparently I picked the right time to start looking, because there are several options in the toy realm.  Keep in mind that I DO NOT OWN ANY OF THESE DOLLS LISTED BELOW.  The photos are stock photos.  I'll also be switching back and forth between the names "Sleeping Beauty" and "Aurora," with the name "Aurora" being used solely for dolls based on the Disney princess (in other versions of the story her name varied).  The first one is of Once Upon a Zombie Sleeping Beauty.
Sleeping Beauty is one of several princesses that WowWee has chosen to portray in their princess-zombie line.  They all look great, but I love this take on Sleeping Beauty.  The idea of taking normal fairy tale princesses and throwing in elements from a current trend (zombies are very trendy right now) was risky, but it made for a surprisingly effective product.  I also like how this particular Sleeping Beauty bears resemblance to her Disney self with that blue dress.  Most dolls and artwork depict Sleeping Beauty as wearing pink (including my own doll), but in truth she wore blue during most of the movie, only appearing in pink at the end.  Of course, the original fairy tale doesn't specify what color she wore, but it's still cute to see WowWee give a nod to the common perception of Sleeping Beauty.  I don't have this doll, by the way; Miss Emily gave both Rapunzel and Belle good reviews (Rapunzel pulled the idea off more effectively in her eyes), so I may have to sniff one of these out for myself.

Oh yes, there's also Fairy Tale High's take on Sleeping Beauty.
Miss Emily also reviewed a couple of these dolls and didn't care for them much; she reported that the hair was bad, the faces lacked character, and the dolls generally felt like cheap Ever After High clones.  I have seen these in stores, and I'll add on the fact that none of the dolls really look like the fairy tale characters they're supposed to portray.  The Little Mermaid and Snow White gave it the old college try with their outfits, but the rest of these dolls could be anyone.  Suppose you found Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella out-of-box.  If you tried to identify either of them, would you be able to tell that they're supposed to be teen princesses?  LOL, I didn't think so!  However, I like this Sleeping Beauty enough to try to find her, if for no other reason than for her clothes.  Her clothes fit Winx dolls, and my Musa could really use some new threads.  Besides, my opinion might be different from Miss Emily's; I might absolutely love these dolls.  Lastly, she'd serve as an interesting comparison to both my Disney Aurora and to Zombie Sleeping Beauty (they're all a similar height).  That is, if I can ever GET Zombie Sleeping Beauty!

Ever After High also threw their hat into the ring; one of the first four characters is Briar Beauty, daughter of Sleeping Beauty.  She's not Mattel's first foray into the realm of Sleeping Beauty, but she stands out from the rest because she's...different.
Pink.  I'm allergic to that much pink on a doll...and not in the normal, sneezy way. <wheezes and gasps for breath>  Where's my epi-pen?  LOL, I do like the reference to Aurora's alter ego, though; in the Disney movie and the old Brothers Grimm fairy tale her peasant name was Briar Rose, and Briar Beauty appears to be going in that direction.  I also like Briar's darker coloring.  All of the other Sleeping Beauty dolls I listed are blonde and blue-eyed (spoiler alert), so seeing this brunette, brown-eyed portrayal is a breath of fresh air.  Yeah, I know she's not full-blood Sleeping Beauty, but she's in the family so she counts.  I won't be running out to find Briar just yet, though; this particular Briar is a bit underwhelming, and the Legacy Day doll doesn't set my world aflame either, though the pink streaks in her hair are cute.  These dolls evolve and change almost as fast as Monster High does, so all I have to do is sit back and wait for one that really blows me away.  Patience will be key here; Mattel is only now releasing a Draculaura that I absolutely must have (the new Art Class doll is to die for), so it might be a year or two before I see a Briar Beauty that takes my breath away...if the line lasts that long!

Madame Alexander has also been heavily involved with Sleeping Beauty and with fairy tales in general.  I have been a Madame Alexander fan since I was a little girl and that may affect my judgement just a bit, but the MA Sleeping Beauty dolls are some of my favorites.  Some of these dolls are older than the movie is.  These are usually easy to pick out; they're dressed in some color like light pinkyellow or red.  My personal favorite is this one:
This doll dates from 1959, the year that the movie debuted.  She is a retooled Cissette doll.  Most Cissette dolls had high-heeled feet and jointed knees, but in this case Madame Alexander made an exception, giving Sleeping Beauty flat feet and stiff knees.  I appreciate the fact that she too is wearing blue; after the movie was released Madame Alexander was very keen to stick to the image that Disney had set.

Madame Alexander doesn't always make Sleeping Beauty fly solo, by the way.  They released a group of dolls a couple of years back (2011, was it?), including Aurora and the good fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather.  I was hoping to find a picture of the group together, but I only found this image of Fauna.
There was also the Storyland collection, consisting of the same characters.  Aurora/Sleeping Beauty is in her usual blue, but has long ringlets this time.
The good fairies also look quite a bit younger.  Remember that in the movie they look like elderly ladies.  This is the Fairy of Beauty (Flora), who is blonde:
The Fairy of Song (Fauna) appears to be a redhead:
And the Fairy of Virtue (Merryweather).  Of the three Storyland fairies, she most closely resembles her Disney counterpart; both doll and Disney character have black hair.
There are plenty of other Madame Alexander Sleeping Beauty dolls, more than I could discuss here.  So I'm going to jump over to Tonner now.  Tonner likes to dabble in fairy tales and fantasy; that's how Cami got such a beautiful face (she got it from Cinderella).  Aurora came in a 16-inch version and a 22-inch version.  This is the 22-inch version.
Like Briar Beauty, she's dressed in pink.  But this appears to be more of a rose pink than a bubblegum pink, so I can tolerate that (and maybe even love it).  It is next to impossible to tell from this picture, but 22-inch Aurora has a face that was inspired by the 16-inch Cinderella face (just like Cami).  Miss Emily touches on this in her review of 22-inch Marilyn Monroe, who provides an interesting contrast to Aurora.

Now, here's the 16-inch version of Aurora.  I don't care for her quite as much as I do the larger doll.
I'm not sure what it is about the smaller doll that makes me like her less.  It isn't the dress; again, that is a shade of pink that I could fall in love with.  Plus, the bodice is prettier than that of the 22-inch doll.  I think the face may be what put me off a bit.  Check this.
I can't help thinking that she's just a hair masculine-looking, mostly in the jaw.  The rest of the face is okay; the eyes are to die for.  She's not an ugly doll at all.  I just think that she lacks the softness and the innocence of the 22-inch version (JUST MY OPINION).

The same face is used for 16-inch Briar Rose.
Firstly, I am absolutely thrilled that Tonner chose to release Sleeping Beauty in her peasant-girl alter-ego.  I found nothing, repeat, NOTHING else like this online, except for the previously mentioned Briar Beauty and a few OOAK dolls that looked vampy.  Secondly, I really like this doll.  I like her better than 16-inch Aurora, which again is odd because the two dolls have the same face.  Yet when I look at the pictures together there seems to be something off, something different.  Here they are together.
I'm not sure whether these two dolls are colored differently or whether it's just a trick of the light.  I'd probably have to examine these two in person to discover which is the truth.  Not very likely that I'll do that, but it would be interesting to see.

Lastly, Tonner touched on my favorite character of the whole flick.  They made a doll in the likeness of the villain, Maleficent.
Tonner really went all out on this one.  His Maleficent is attractive, both in face and in dress, just like in the movie.  And yet she is very clearly a villain.  Nothing glammed up or toned down, nothing sanitized for overly-sensitive critics.  I think that if I were to complain about one thing it would be that she doesn't have her staff.  I always liked Maleficent's staff.  It had a round, glowing orb in the top part, and I always liked that.  What can I say, I like round things.  Always have, always will.  Anyway, the Tonner Maleficent doll doesn't have a staff.  That won't stop crafty collectors from making one, though!

There are other dolls out there that I haven't touched on; Effanbee had a very cute set several years back that included both Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming (apologies for that dinky picture).  Recently I've also been seeing Disney princesses in stores that are in toddler and baby form; I don't recall seeing Aurora in the mix, but that means nothing because I sometimes I overlook things.  In short, I plan on at least trying to own the Once Upon a Zombie and Fairy Tale High versions and any Briar Beauty dolls that might catch my eye.  I also like the Cissette-bodied Madame Alexander doll enough that I'll put out the effort to find her.  The Tonner dolls, the Effanbee dolls and the rest of the Madame Alexanders will have to come later since most are long discontinued, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled just the same.  After all, part of the fun of doll collecting is the chase!  And I don't have to have them ALL; some of these I am just content with looking at.  However, it's good to know that my lovely Sleeping Beauty isn't completely neglected in the dolly world.  In fact, she's very well represented, far more so than I ever imagined!

Yours truly,
RagingMoon1987

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