A Maleficent Doll Comparison Review

The Toy Box Philosopher
Reviews and opinions about dolls and doll-related toys.
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.
The Disney’s Store’s new 12″ Maleficent ($34.95).
Before I get to either of the new dolls, I want to show you my older Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.  I love that the Disney Store is still making dolls from this classic movie:
She has a green, hinge-kneed body with the usual 13 points of articulation.  Her outfit looks dramatic, but none of the jagged edges are finished.  My doll doesn’t get played with, so her dress still looks great, but I wonder how the edges hold up to lots of redressing and play?
This doll is still available at the Disney Store for $14.95.

Sometimes I’m on sale for $10.
I’m sure I am not the only one who was surprised and dismayed by the price of the Disney Store Maleficent dolls.  First release 12″ dolls have cost as much as $16.95 in the past (Merida, Elsa, Anna), but I don’t think I have ever seen one pushing $40.  I have always been able to order two Princess dolls and have them shipped to Maine for around $35–often less.  My jaw dropped when I saw the total for the Maleficent and Aurora pair: $79.85.  I could get an Integrity Dynamite Girl for that price.  Anyway, the price was my first clue that these new dolls might not be intended for younger kids.
At $20, the basic Jakks Pacific dolls are also more expensive than the older 12″ Disney Princesses, but not by as much.  I considered comparing the Disney Store doll to the Jakks Pacific Coronation Maleficent.  At $39.99, this doll is more equivalent in price, but her rooted hair and large wings would make the physical comparisons tricky.
So, the question in my mind was: is it worth the extra $15 for the Disney Store Maleficent doll, or has Jakks Pacific made a comparable doll for a significantly lower price?  Let’s find out.
Jakks Pacific “Dark Beauty Maleficent”:
First, I’ll show you the Jakks Pacific doll.  She comes in a window box with a white cardboard wrap-around back:
The doll’s stiffly-raised arm immediately gives away her lack of wrist articulation, although it wasn’t clear at this point if she had any elbow articulation:
The front of the box has a great photograph of Angelina Jolie from the movie:
The box is not rectangular–it has a wavy edge on one side:
The back of the box has a short summary of the Maleficent movie:
It also has a photograph of the doll with an inset of the basic Aurora doll, “Beloved Aurora.”
Still looking very stiff-armed.
The bottom of the box is made out of cardboard, and the flaps open easily, making it seem like the doll should slide right out:
However, because of the unusual shape of the box, the doll can’t slide out at all.  The edges of the plastic have to be cut or ripped apart in order to remove the doll.  Maleficent is mounted against a forest scene backdrop.  She is mostly attached with clear rubber bands and plastic cords, and is pretty easy to remove:
Here’s a first glimpse of her out of the box:
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
Disney Store Maleficent:
Now I will quickly compare the packaging on the Disney Store doll.  This Maleficent came in a mostly plastic package with a three-dimensional black cardboard backdrop:
The front and sides of the box are clear plastic with very little decoration.  The name of the movie, the name of the doll, a few Disney markings and a warning are the only things that obstruct a view of the doll from the front:
This box also has an unconventional shape: the front edges of the plastic window are angle-cut with a swirl pattern.  The sides of the box are mostly clear with black silhouetted trees and birds at the top.   This detail adds to the three dimensionality of the diorama backdrop and looks great: 
The back of the box is cardboard, and has a description of the movie and a photograph of Maleficent.  I feel like this description gives away a little more about the movie than the Jakks Pacific box.  I have been trying really hard not to read any spoilers, so I hope this doesn’t give away anything critical.
I love the spooky photograph of Angelina Jolie on the back of this box:
The plastic has tabs that are taped to the cardboard all of the way around the box.  Once these areas are cut, the backdrop can be freed.  
The background is dark grey with tree silhouettes, and there’s another layer of cutout tree branches set about a half of an inch away from that.  Maleficent herself is set the furthest forward, held in place with a clear plastic mount: 
De-boxing this Maleficent was more involved than it was with the other doll.  There was a thick wire tied around her waist, but this wire was enclosed within the plastic base:
I could have ripped the cardboard to access this wire from the back, but I was trying to keep the background intact.  I had to reach up under the plastic and snip the wire.  That wasn’t the worst part of the de-boxing, though. The worst part was dealing with the numerous black plastic ties.  These were very small and practically invisible.  They were attached all along the doll’s dress:
There are at least three ties just in this small area.
I have to pause here to tell you something pretty important.  Do you see the color of the dress in the picture above?  It looks dark purple to me–and the plastic ties look very black next to the skirt.  A purple-colored dress would have made sense, I suppose, given the color of Maleficent’s dress in Sleeping Beauty, but actually this dress is pitch black.  I mean, it is really, really dark black with no visible hints of purple whatsoever.  I was not able to find a camera setting that would show you this indoors.  I think the slight sheen of the shantung style fabric played tricks on my poor little camera.  Sorry about that.
Here’s the cardboard backdrop with the doll removed so that you can see the tree shape more clearly:
And here’s Maleficent fresh out of her box:
The Disney Store’s Maleficent.
Now I’ll show you these two dolls in a little more detail–starting with the Disney Store Maleficent because I am already talking about her.  After I have shown you each doll, I will put some of the pictures side-by-side so that you can see the differences more clearly.  I’ll use a lot of captions to try and avoid confusion between the two dolls.
The Disney Store’s Maleficent:
The Disney Store doll comes fully dressed and has a staff accessory.  The staff is made out of plastic.  It has a twisted base that is painted to look like wood: 
The top of the staff has a colorful painted orb that reminds me of stained glass:
This Maleficent has a molded headdress that is made from a separate piece of black vinyl, but is permanently attached to her head.  Her face is white vinyl and she does not have any rooted hair:
Disney Store Maleficent.
This doll has a wide jaw and high, exaggerated cheekbones and looks masculine from some angles.  There are two areas of blush highlighting her cheeks, and the terracotta color of the blush gives her a slightly sallow appearance:
Her greenish-yellow eyes and bright red lips stand out dramatically against her pale face.  The eyes are slightly askew, making it hard for this doll to look directly at the camera.  The quality of the painted features is excellent, though, and reminds me of some of my more expensive fashion dolls from the Tonner and Integrity lines.
The lower lip is very full, but the upper lip is too thin–at least if the goal is to accurately resemble Angelina Jolie.  There are four painted reflective dots along the lower lip, similar to the style of the Ever After High dolls :
Disney Store Maleficent.
I think this doll looks the most dramatic when she is in half-profile.  This angle accents her cheekbones and her arched eyebrows:
Disney Store Maleficent.
In full profile, Maleficent has an elongated head and no visible ears:
She has a sloping forehead and a nose with a high bridge.  Her chin is prominent and juts forward.  This profile doesn’t make me think of Angelina Jolie at all, but it has a lot of character.
Disney Store Maleficent.
The back of Maleficent’s headdress has some molded wrinkles and gathers, making it look convincingly like cloth:
Disney Store Maleficent.
Jakks Pacific Maleficent:
The Jakks Pacific Maleficent comes fully dressed, but without any accessories.  She also has a permanently attached molded headdress and no rooted hair.  
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
This Maleficent has a narrower face and chin than the Disney Store doll, with even more pronounced high cheekbones.  She does not have any blush:
Her eyes are bright yellow with a darker green border.  Her eyes are wider and lighter than the Disney Store doll’s eyes and they do not have as much shine or depth:
The quality of the painted features is not as good as it is on the Disney Store doll.  If you look closely, you can see some cracking on the eyes:
This doll has a bow-shaped upper lip and a thick, jutting lower lip.  The color is a basic primary red and does not have any reflective dots:
She looks like she’s pouting.
Maleficent looks striking in profile, and this doll has an especially nice jawline that slopes up gracefully to meet her neck:
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
The shape of this doll’s head nicely captures the abnormally severe cheekbones without looking masculine:
In profile, this doll also has a sloping forehead, a high-bridged nose and a prominent chin:
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
The back of Maleficent’s headdress is molded to look like it was twisted in place.  This is very realistic:
This headdress has a shiny finish–I prefer the matte finish of the Disney Store doll’s head.

Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
Here are some of the pictures of the two Maleficent dolls side-by-side.  The Jakks Pacific doll is always on the left, and the Disney Store doll is on the right: 
It’s interesting because the two headdresses have some of the exact same folds in them, but it’s as if the back of the Disney Store doll’s head was sanded down, eliminating the twisting detail.  I’m not sure what the purpose of this could have been, because that twist is a nice detail and it rounds out the shape of the head.
When I first bought these two dolls, I thought that they had the exact same head mold.  In fact, I still think that perhaps the two heads were cast from the same mold, and the small differences are just due to manufacturing variation.  The Disney Store doll’s face is made out of softer vinyl, so that could play a role in her slightly wider, more blunted features.   
The headdresses are all but identical, with the horns in the same position and everything.  I think the Disney Store headdress is just a modified version of the Jakks Pacific headdress.
Of course the painting and vinyl color make the biggest difference of all.  The Jakks doll’s eyes are wide and bright and can look a little frightened or sad from some angles.  The Disney Store doll’s face is more severe and masculine, and tends to look angry or threatening.  The paler face of the Disney Store doll sets off her features more dramatically, and her facial screening is more carefully done with better detail.
Disney Store Maleficent:
Now I will go back to the Disney Store doll and show you her outfit.
Disney Store Maleficent.
The dress is made out of a heavy black shantung fabric with a slight sheen and wonderful drape.  There wasn’t a single wrinkle in this dress when it came out of the box.  The dress is fitted down the length of the body, but has attached cape sleeves that billow out on either side when the doll’s arms are moved:
Again, the color of this dress is pure black.  It’s not even remotely purple.  The purple cast got worse in pictures where I was trying to put light on the little details–like this:
Ack!  It’s not a purple dress!
Lighting is so weird.
So, this isn’t a perfect solution, but I decided to shoot the rest of the outfit pictures in black and white.  This is more accurate than purple, and you’ll be able to see the true color of the dress at the end when I take the dolls outside.
The train in the back of the dress is spectacular.  It is composed of six separate panels, and is carefully sewn without a pucker or loose thread in sight.  The silky, heavy fabric hangs perfectly and is fun to manipulate:
Disney Store Maleficent.
The bottom of the train is trimmed in black satiny spikes.
Look at how nicely all of the panels in the train come together at the waistline of this dress:
The back closure on this dress is a different story.  The dress appears https://www.etsy.com/listing/185884796/alice-in-wonderland-ooak-handmade-art to fit perfectly from the front, but it can’t be closed smoothly in back.  The velcro has to be stretched to get it to line up, and even then it leaves a scrunched gap just above the base of the train:
The neckline of the dress has two overlapping leathery collars and a black teardrop bead decoration:
Each piece of the collar is two-sided so that there is no visible underside of the imitation leather fabric.
Disney Store Maleficent.
The sleeves span the full length of each arm and then arc gracefully down to a low-calf level attachment.
The two sides of the sleeve don’t gape open at all, but they are not stitched together and so they can be pulled apart to peek at the silky backside of the shantung.
The construction of this dress is very nice. It is a huge step above anything a Disney Store play doll has ever worn before.  Here you can see the careful midline seam on the underside of one of the collar pieces:
And the generous seam allowances in the panels of the train:
The dress is not lined, which causes some staining concerns, but I think that the increased thickness of a liner might have made the fit less precise.  Also, the construction is so nice that a liner doesn’t seem necessary.  The inside hem of the skirt is even edged in black lace:
Here’s Maleficent back in full, misleading color:
Disney Store Maleficent.
Jakks Pacific Maleficent:
The Jakks Pacific Maleficent’s dress is made out of a much more standard play doll outfit fabric.  It is shiny, wrinkled, and does not have much weight or drape to it at all.  This dress also plays some color tricks on my camera and can take on an inaccurate purplish tint, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the other dress.  
This dress has a similar style to the Disney Store doll’s dress, but all of the lines are simpler.  The main body of the dress has an a-line shape that does not fit the doll very snugly.  The bat-wing sleeves do not taper gracefully, but are cut at a straight angle in towards the body.  
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
The train of the dress is one single panel that doesn’t hang very well.  The orientation of the glittery stripes is carefully controlled on this dress, though, so that the stripes angle down and inward on each side and then point straight down in the train:
The collar is made out of black vinyl and is stitched into the neckline of the dress.  The shape of the collar is great, but the seam between the vinyl and the fabric is bulky and uneven.  The fit of the dress through the bust is also loose and has some unintended puckers.
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
The neck is decorated with a clear plastic gemstone that is stitched crookedly along the midline seam:
The two sides of these sleeves don’t hang together, but tend to gape apart.  
This dress is made out of sheer black fabric.  The sleeves aren’t lined, so light shines through.  This is a neat effect and it gives the dress a gossamer, floaty feel.
The bodice and front of the dress are lined with a stiff white material, but the train of the dress is unlined, so light can pass through this area, too.
The dress is covered with thin lines of applied glitter that sheds constantly and gets everywhere.
It’s all over my computer keyboard as I type…
Here’s a peek at the inside of the neckline–you can see how the vinyl collar is stitched to the fabric through four big holes.  I wonder how durable this will be over time?  It seems like the heavy vinyl will put a lot of stress on those stitches.
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
The dress closes in back with a strip of black plastic velcro.
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
These two dresses share a basic shape, but have many critical differences.    
The Disney Store dress is carefully made and the fabrics feels expensive.  It reminds me of a Tonner or Integrity garment.  The dress behaves just like silk shantung and hangs naturally in beautiful, wrinkle-free folds.  The collar feels like soft leather while holding an impressive shape.  Parts of the dress fit like a glove, with the glaring exception of the waist area in back.  
The Jakks Pacific dress seems to have a lot of shortcuts by comparison–with a un-detailed train, simpler lines, and a vinyl collar.  The fit is slightly loose and there are several areas with bunched seams and awkward wrinkles.  The fabric of this dress is thin and feels more like typical Disney Store play doll outfits–slightly stiff and prone to wrinkles.
Disney Store Maleficent (L), Jakks Pacific Maleficent (R).
Disney Store Maleficent:
When I tried to remove the Disney Store Maleficent’s dress, it did not want to slide over the doll’s hips.  At all.  I mean, I had to tug so hard that I was afraid that I was going to rip some seams.  There was a moment where I stopped to wonder if perhaps the doll was meant to be sewn into her clothes and not intended for play at all.
Sticking point.
I did finally get the dress off, and found a collection of black undergarments and accessories underneath.  These took me off guard initially for their very adult appearance:
Maleficent was wearing black fingerless gloves.  These came with plastic underneath, but still caused some staining on the hands.
The gloves are also very difficult to get back on, so I suspect they’ll end up at the bottom of one of my accessory bins.
Maleficent was also wearing a cracked leathery collar with velcro closure:
And very simple black plastic boots:
Disney Store Maleficent’s boots.
But can only move her legs from side-to-side this far:
She can strike a nice sun bathing pose:
But can’t sit in a chair very well:
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
Remember the hollow plastic that I feared the Bandai Dorothy’s legs were made out of?  Well, this doll actually has hollow plastic legs.  They are good for getting shoes on and off easily, but that’s about it.  I am not very fond of the warped, hinged legs of the newer Disney Store dolls, but unbendable hard plastic legs are worse in my opinion.
Disney Store Maleficent.
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
I will give the Jakks Pacific doll credit for being able to sit on the ground more elegantly than her Disney Store counterpart:
The Jakks Pacific Maleficent measures 12 inches to the top of her head and 13.5 inches to the tips of her horns.  This makes her about a half of an inch taller than the Disney Store doll:
Jakks Pacific Maleficent (L), Disney Store Maleficent (R).
Although the Jakks doll looks narrower in the chest than the Disney doll, the Disney dress won’t fasten all of the way up in back on her:
Jakks doll in Disney dress.
The Disney Store Maleficent can wear the Jakks dress, but the fit is loose–especially in the bust area where you can see several wrinkles:
Disney doll in Jakks dress.
The two doll can share boots, although the Jakks boots are large and gaping on the Disney Store Maleficent, too:
Of course the Disney Store doll can wear the older Disney Maleficent’s dress, and it looks really good on her:
And, in fact, the Jakks Pacific doll can wear the older Disney dress, too.  I actually like this dress on her better than the dress she came with.
Maleficent seems to belong in the woods, so I took both dolls outside for some quick pictures in the sun.  First, here is the Disney Store Maleficent:
You can see that her dress is very black.  Occasionally it will catch the sun and look a tiny bit purple in a spot or two, but natural lighting is much kinder to this fabric.
Maleficent’s green eyes seem to come alive in the forest:
I like how this doll can look very different, depending on how the light is catching her face.  If she is in direct sun, her cheekbones cast dramatic shadows over her overexposed paleness, and her beady eyes make her look like a hungry cat:
With indirect light, the richness of her lips and eyes illuminates her white face, and her dress looks wonderfully dark and shimmery:
Here is the Jakks Pacific Maleficent in the woods:
This doll’s eyes seem even brighter with the background of new leaves:
Here she is against the sun so that you can see the translucence in the sleeves of her gown:
Even with her severe face shape, this dolls wide eyes and pouty lips can make her look frightened–like she’s hiding or running away:
She can also look graceful and serene–like maybe we’re seeing a little of that “lost, pure-hearted young woman:”
Jakks Pacific Maleficent.
Bottom line?  So…is it worth the extra $15 for the Disney Store Maleficent doll, or has Jakks Pacific made a comparable doll for a significantly lower price?  Well, it almost feels unfair to compare these two dolls directly–they are not equivalent.  They are priced quite differently, and one is clearly a play doll while the other is more of a collectable.  If you are a collector looking for a display piece, I think that the Disney Store doll is the obvious choice.  If you are shopping for someone who wants to actively play with the doll, then the Jakks Pacific basic Maleficent might be more practical.  Let me break it down:
Face: neither doll has a great resemblance to Angelina Jolie, but I think Jakks Pacific got the closest.  The Disney Store doll is too wide in the jaw and her upper lip is too thin. The Jakks Pacific doll is too wide in the eyes, but the rest of her features are accurate.  Both dolls look good enough that it’s abundantly clear who they’re supposed to be.  They also both have dramatic, interesting face shapes that make them really fun to pose and photograph.  The quality of the face paint is not equivalent with these two dolls, though. The Jakks Pacific doll does not have as much detail in her features, and her eyes don’t have the same shine or depth.  The Disney face paint looks very richly colored and realistic to me, and it seems more durable.  I’d love to see the Jakks face painted like the Disney Store doll–I bet that would be amazing.
Clothing: the Disney Store Maleficent’s dress is made out of a beautiful black shantung with a lovely drape and feel.  Overall, the construction of the dress is meticulous and not typical of play doll clothing.  It is just as nice as many of the higher end fashion doll outfits I own.  However, my particular Disney Store dress is very difficult to get on and off, and it doesn’t close smoothly in the back.  In contrast, the Jakks Pacific Maleficent is wearing a dress that looks and feels a lot like many Barbie and Disney Store play clothes.  It is stiff and wrinkle-prone and the sewing is very basic.  There are several areas with sloppy construction.  The nice thing is that small construction flaws probably won’t bother younger kids, and the loose fit of the this dress makes it easy to play with.  I do worry about the long term durability of the vinyl collar, though.
Articulation: the Disney Store Maleficent’s articulation is exactly like other hinge-kneed Disney Store play dolls.  She poses really well in every part of her body except for her knees.  The simple hinged knee joints make sitting in a chair or on the ground very awkward for this doll.  In addition, the knee hinges tend to warp and don’t hold their positions reliably.  I was hoping that the doubled price meant newly engineered knees….but no, this is just a standard Disney Store play body.  The Jakks Pacific doll has very little articulation, and what she does have isn’t impressive.  She can’t lift her arms very high at the shoulder, her elbows don’t bend much or rotate at all, and she is completely lacking knee articulation in her hollow, plastic legs.  However, the stiff, straight legs do allow for easy dressing and good upright balance.
Price: the Jakks Pacific doll is much more affordable as a play doll.  You can almost buy both the basic Aurora and Maleficent figures for the cost of one Disney Store doll.  At $70 plus shipping for the pair, the Disney Store dolls have jumped out of the price range for casual purchase–at least in my opinion.  Even though the Jakks Pacific dolls are $15 cheaper, that doesn’t mean they are perfectly priced.  When I compare the Jakks Maleficent doll to many of my older $15-17 Disney Store Classic Princesses , I feel like the Jakks Pacific doll is inferior–mostly because of the deficiencies in her articulation.
I enjoy both of these dolls for the fascinating character they represent, but I prefer the Disney Store Maleficent.  I don’t mind paying more for a high-quality outfit, articulated limbs, and a realistic, well-painted face.  In fact, I would have gleefully paid $35 for an Elsa doll with better eyes and an ice gown as dramatic as Maleficent’s dress.  However, I am hoping that the increased Disney Store pricing is unique to products from the Maleficent movie–not the new normal.  It makes sense to create collectable dolls for what appears to be a dark movie aimed at mature audiences.  That said, I feel strongly that the more typical princess characters need to remain affordable and playable for kids.  That’s always been the Disney Store’s strength, and I’d hate to see it disappear.
Disney Store Maleficent.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit A Maleficent Doll Comparison Review


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