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I saw the Merida Toddler Doll on The Disney Store website shortly before Christmas and knew my daughter would love it. Last year we went to the cinema to see the Disney Pixar film 'Brave' (in which Merida is the main character) and my daughter has been hooked on the film ever since!
You never know what to expect when you buy online but I was very pleased when Merida arrived in the post. She was bigger than I expected and came presented in a lovely box. The box was made from cardboard, was nicely decorated and had a plastic front so you could get a good look at the doll. The Merida Toddler Doll is a Disney Store Exclusive and cannot be brought anywhere else.
The first thing to mention about this doll is how beautiful she is. She is absolutely adorable, I felt bad having to take her out of the box! If I didn't have children I would probably be tempted to buy the Merida Toddler Doll as a collectible piece to put out on display (it almost looks like a porcelain doll). She has beautiful red hair, which is thick and curly. She wears a silky blue dress with gold neckline (with detailed embroidery) and sash. She also wears white tights (and has gold knickers printed on her) and cute little slip-on blue shoes. The dress, tights and shoes can all be removed. She has a lot of nice detail, such as her little fingers and her ears. My favourite part of the doll is probably her face - she has big blue eyes, a tiny little sticky-out nose, chubby cheeks, freckles and her mouth forms a little smirk. I like the fact she's doing a cheeky smirk because she's such a mischievous character in the film, so it suits her well. I should point out that the doll is supposed to look like a toddler, not a doll that is designed for toddlers!
My daughter was absolutely delighted when she opened her Merida Toddler Doll on Christmas day. She wanted to play with it right away. The doll was held in with a huge amount of ties etc, but we got there eventually! Throughout the majority of the film Merida is a teenager, however the film begins when Merida is a young girl - my daughter pointed this out to me and told me that the doll looked just like 'little Merida' from the film! Quite often my daughter can be rough with her toys and dolls, however I've noticed that she's very loving and caring towards her Merida doll. She puts her in safe places, she plays with her nicely, she hasn't tried to undress her, she keeps her next to her bed when she sleeps - she really adores her! She hasn't put her down since Christmas and takes her everywhere with her. When asked what her favourite Christmas present was (and she got LOTS), she answered 'my Merida doll'. Her arms, legs and head can also be moved which allows my daughter to sit her down, stand her up and put her in different positions.
The doll is made from a thick robust plastic. It seems like really good quality and something which will last a long time. I thought the silky dress may snag easily but it's in perfect condition so far. Most of my daughters dolls have long straight hair and they get tangled (and therefore usually ruined) very quickly. Merida's hair is so curly and bouncy that it doesn't tangle and it doesn't need brushing - if pulled around the hair just springs back in to place. Another thing which seems to happen to most of my daughters dolls is that their shoes fall off too easily and get lost, however Merida's shoes are a perfect fit and only come off when they are purposely removed. The doll is a really generous size (approximately 41cm tall and 16cm wide) and seems very safe. There doesn't appear to be any potential hazards, however the doll is recommend for children 3+ years 'due to small parts' (the shoes or hair maybe?).
I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the Merida Toddler Doll, except maybe it would have been nice for her to have a little archery set since she uses it so much in the film (her first archery set is given to her when she's a young girl).
The Merida Toddler Doll costs £20.00 (although I managed to pick it up for £15.00) which I think is a reasonable price to pay for this doll - I've paid more for Barbie type dolls which are half the size and aren't half as robust or pretty! I thoroughly recommend this doll for fans of Brave.
I bought the Brave Toddler Doll for my daughter for Christmas after spotting it in the Disney Store, Hollie is a huge fan of both dolls and Brave so I knew she'd love it - and I wasn't wrong, in the two weeks which have passed since Christmas it has become a firm favourite and is now the doll she chooses to play with above any other in her (vast) collection.
It's a plastic doll which stands roughly 40cm tall, her arms and legs move (although do not bend at the joints) and she has the most wonderful red curly hair which we both immediately fell in love with. Merida (Brave) is dressed in a beautiful aqua-blue gown with gold detail, if you've seen Brave you'll be able to see from the piccie above that this doll looks amazingly like the toddler Merida who appears at the very beginning of the film. I personally adore the expression on her face, mildly perturbed but with a really natural look about her - and surely a facial expression which most of us mums recognise from our own toddlers when they can't get their own way!
Merida doesn't do anything apart from stand (or sit) around looking pretty, she fits beautifully in Hollie's dolls pram so her main purpose at the moment is being wheeled around whenever we go for a walk with our respective buggies. She doesn't actually lie very flat, I suspect this is due to the shaping of the doll and also the fact that she has a rather large head in relation to her body - this is necessary for the toddler cuteness which Disney have gone for, and to be fair this isn't really a 'pram doll' so I can't complain about that too much I suppose. We can't get Merida to stand alone for more than a couple of seconds, again probably due to the shape and size of the doll. This has frustrated Hollie somewhat as every picture we've seen of this Merida doll shows her standing, on Christmas night there were tears before bedtime when she realised she wasn't going to be able to stand her next to her other Disney dolls - she has very small feet (not forgetting the large head!) so I knew pretty much straight away that she was going to have her work cut out but whereas I'd be happy to lean her against a wall or the toy box, this solution is not good enough for my little madam and even though she knows it's not possible she still attempts to stand the doll up regularly.
This doll is so well made, as are most products I've bought from the Disney Store. Her hair is glossy and beautifully curled, I can tell even from just a couple of weeks of play that the hair is superb quality and isn't likely to become ratty any time soon - pulling one of the curls out gently I can see that they're shaped solidly into the hair so I don't think there are any worries about the curls dropping out, obviously curly dolls hair like this isn't suitable really for brushing so I've taught Hollie to smooth Merida's hair down with her fingers if it starts looking messy. To be fair to the doll however it doesn't seem to get messy, I suppose the beauty of the curls means any messiness is disguised and really just holding the doll upside down and giving the head a bit of a shake is enough to get her hair looking great again.
At present this is the only Brave related toy Hollie owns so she hasn't yet been able to really construct games based on the story, although she has a good go by using some of her smaller dolls in place of Merida's toddler triplet brothers and a teddy bear to represent the scary bear in the film. I love dolls like this as they really stretch her imagination and can be used in all sorts of games; Hollie's current favourite way to play with Merida is as part of her general 'dolly games' and there really is no rhyme or reason to these games so I won't elaborate! She also received a Brave dress for Christmas so loves nothing better than to wear this and carry Merida around with her; while I love the cute toddler look of this one, in retrospect I wish I'd opted for the more grown up version of the doll (if such a thing is available) as that one would have matched Hollie's dress so much better - but then again Merida wears pretty much the same dress all the way through the film so I don't suppose it matters very much...
The doll is going to be durable, I can tell this already based on the construction and strength of the leg and arm joints - also based on previous experience with these large character dolls from the Disney Store. Hollie is amazingly careful with her toys (particularly her dolls) so I can't see what damage is ever likely to befall Merida, her white tights will no doubt get grubby over time but they're fully removable for washing and I suspect tights made for prem babies would also fit the doll if you ever felt you needed to completely replace them. I'm mildly concerned about the shoes as these come off her feet and are made of the sort of soft plastic which could lead them to be squashed underneath something and inadvertently lost, I've tried to drum into Hollie that she must keep them on the doll or at least put them somewhere safe if she really needs to take them off - but then, as careful as she is, she's only five years old so the chances of her remembering my advice at all times is pretty minimal!
Toddler Merida is suitable for children from three years old, due to some unfathomable 'small pieces' which are apparently present. I've looked over the doll carefully and can't see anything which could pose a choking hazard, but then again I doubt a child younger than three would really have much fun with this doll anyway so maybe it's a good recommended age anyway - Mark thinks it's the hair which could cause the hazard, but to my mind it's so firmly attached to Merida's head that I can't see this myself.
I paid £15 for Merida, although the usual price is £20, and already feel that this was money well spent as Hollie has played with her for hours since she unwrapped the doll on Christmas morning - I'm sure it'll be a much loved toy for a long time and seeing the love on Hollie's face when she plays with her is priceless, making it one of her favourite presents of Christmas 2012.