Doll Review: Disney Store Classic Mother Gothel

The lack of good thrift stores in my hometown area was a big disappointment during my visit; so of course a few days after getting back to Canada I had to check out my favorite local secondhand shops.  Fortunately, my luck on that thrift store trip made up for some of my bad shopping luck in the States.  On the same day last week, I found a nude Monster High Lagoona doll for $2, a complete Novi Stars doll for $1, and a MIB Disney Store Mother Gothel doll.  The Disney doll was a little overpriced in my opinion (pretty much par for the course for Value Village), but I love the Disney Store face sculpts so much and the body looked really articulated, so since it was brand new I went ahead and grabbed it.


For those who don’t want to click the above link, Mother Gothel is the villain from the movie Tangled, Disney’s version of the Rapunzel story.  In the movie, Gothel keeps the young girl locked in the tower so she can use Rapunzel’s magical hair as her own personal fountain of youth.  Tangled is a movie I’m actually not really a fan of; I watched it once when I wanted something on while I was sculpting, and that was probably the only time I’ll ever view it.  There were some charming things about the film, but overall.. meh.  But this isn’t a movie review, so let’s move on – the dolls are pretty sweet.

The packaging on this doll is really basic and uninspired, and the flavor text is even kinda awkwardly phrased – but considering that these dolls retail for $15, or $10 a piece if you buy two (in the States – they’re a couple of dollars more in Canada of course)… I’d much rather have the boring box than pay extra just for pretty packaging.


The way the box is made you have to destroy it to get the doll out, which is fine since the box is hardly something anybody but a serious hoarder would want to hold on to.  When you rip open the back of the package to get to the attachments, it looks like there’s not much there holding the doll on, but it turns out there were actually a whole bunch of almost invisible little plastic tabs that were holding the clothes in place – there’s even some on the bottom of the box.  If you buy this doll, be careful that you’ve cut all those tabs or you could rip the clothing when you try to pull the doll out.

Because of the way I deboxed her, the first thing I saw when I pulled Mother Gothel out of the box was her back:


WTF is up with that huge bald spot?  No wonder she covets Rapunzel’s magical locks…

But seriously, the rooting on this doll is appallingly bad; there is almost no hair on the back of her head at all.  It’s going to take some serious restyling to even begin to cover that.


And look at her from the side, she looks almost two-dimensional:


I’m not even sure how you go about styling this type of hair – it’s very tightly curled so obviously brushing is out of the question, and it’s so wooly-feeling that I’m afraid wetting it would make it mat together even more.. If any of you have experience styling this type of doll hair, could I get some tips?


Anyway, here’s Mother Gothel from the front.  She looks much better from this angle, despite the weird box hair.

That face sculpt tho – it’s fantastic, and I’m thrilled to have this doll if only for that reason.  She has such an angular, interesting, mature face; it’s wonderfully different from the uber-lolita faces that most fashion dolls have.  I like that her eyes are painted at a side-angle, and her mouth is even sculpted with an upward quirk on one side to give her a fabulous little condescending sneer.


Dolls with sculpted facial expressions are grabbing my interest lately; Monster High doll Clawdia Wolf‘s grin is so weirdly charming, and I have repeatedly found myself picking up this Barbie doll and coveting her because of that quirky face sculpt – and that’s saying something because generally I make it a point not to collect Barbies.

But I digress..


Mother Gothel’s face sculpt isn’t exactly show accurate – it’s very close, but I think the animated character actually has even bigger eyes and wider cheekbones than the doll.  They also neglected to sculpt nasolabial folds, which is definitely a visible feature of animated Gothel’s face.  Oh well.

This doll’s face looks fantastic from every angle.  I can’t get over how unique and photogenic she is (even with bad lighting and a cell phone camera).

PicMonkey Collage

The Mother Gothel doll’s outfit is a simplified version of her clothes in the movie – she’s wearing a satiny red square-necked gown with long, flared sleeves, a satiny black cloak on top, and dark red pointy high heel shoes.  Because this is the “Classic” doll and not the deluxe version or whatever, the dress isn’t as embellished as in the movie, and the waist sash isn’t a true belt, being sewn onto the sides of the dress instead of wrapping all the way around.  The cloak is missing the hood, the clasp and some of the volume of the movie version; it does have shoulder seams though, which is nice because it fits the doll much more naturally than if it were just a rectangle of cloth.20140129_114251_resized_1

The dress looks pretty good from the front, and seems to fit the doll very well, but from the back you can see that it’s been sewn too small and the velcro doesn’t match up properly.  Not a big deal though, especially on an inexpensive doll; the dress looks fine from most angles.


Under the dress, this doll was wrapped in white tissue paper, presumably to keep the red color from staining her body.  I’m very glad they did that, and will have to remember not to store or display her without replacing the tissue.


20140129_114458_resized_120140129_114558_resized_1The shoes on this doll are really sad – actually, pretty much everything about the doll’s legs and feet just really sucks.  I was very much hoping that this doll would have hinged knees and jointed feet; I know some of these Disney store dolls do and it would have been super if mine was one of them, because the rubber legs she does have are some of the worst I’ve come across on a brand-name doll.

The biggest problem is that either the shoes or the feet are majorly warped, because the doll cannot stand with the shoes on at all.  When the doll is upright, the toes of the shoes don’t even come close to touching the ground; with the shoes flat on the floor, the doll leans forward to a ridiculous degree.

It also doesn’t help that the feet and ankles are very rubbery. Gothel is nigh incapable of standing; even when she’s propped up against the wall, her stupid jelly-like legs wobble and make her tip over, with or without the shoes.

The awful shoes aren’t even sized properly for the doll – there are creases on the sides of her feet from the shoes pressing into them (along with even bigger creases in her ankles from the rubber bands that were holding the shoes on – ugh).

20140129_115231Those are some tiny, shapeless feet; oh, how I hate them.  The only upside of this style of foot is that some of the miscellaneous shoes in my stash actually fit them; there’s one pair of (Barbie?) boots in particular that are very solid and help the doll to actually stand upright.  Too bad they don’t look very good with her dress. XD

The other issue I have with the doll’s legs are the knees – the legs are actually quite elegantly shaped, but they have rubber click-joints instead of the more poseable hinge knees that I was hoping for.  These are crappy even for click-joints, too; my 80s Barbie dolls had better knees than this.  Gothel’s knees click twice, which gives about a 30 degree angle – and then they keep popping back into the one-click position, which is very little bend at all.  The photo below shows the doll with her knees, elbows, and wrists fully bent:


come at me, bro

It’s way less articulation than I was expecting, but once again, for the price point I guess I shouldn’t be too picky.  It would be nice if she could reach her own face with her arms though, and sit in a chair with her feet on the floor.


hover feet

She does have some poseability though, and at least she does have wrist joints; that’s always a make-or-break on a doll for me.


The body sculpt is also pretty nice, aside from the feet.  Size- and shape-wise, this doll is most similar to Liv dolls, though Gothel’s bod is more life-like and expressive to me.  I wish I could put Gothel’s torso and hands onto a Liv body; that would make a nearly perfect doll.

PicMonkey Collage





11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jSarie
    Feb 04, 2014 @ 08:37:14

    What a great face on that doll! It’s a shame about the hair from the back and the lack of poseability, but that expression is wonderful!

    And can I say that I’m always impressed when people manage to find MIB items at thrift shops? Brilliant!


  2. sergionthemoon
    Feb 04, 2014 @ 09:24:14

    I’d like to have the limited edition of this doll, is more accurated and amanzigly detailed. Anyway you’ve been lucky to find her for that great price! I got lately DS Kristoff and Hans dolls from Frozen


    • DollNerd
      Feb 04, 2014 @ 11:22:35

      If there was a Disney store near me I would own so many more of their dolls, even though I’m not a Disney fan, generally. The limited edition dolls are definitely out of my price range though!


  3. barbielea
    Feb 16, 2014 @ 15:16:28

    What a shame about her hair 😦 this hair texture is difficult to style, but I have been able to rearrange bits on similar dolls by slowly separating a section with my fingers, repositioning it and then kind of patting it back into place. Maybe you could try this to cover her bald spot up?

    I have the same Mother Gothel and she doesn’t have the hair issue, although I noticed the same thing with the shoes that don’t angle properly, making her hard to stand up. Why can’t you put your Mother Gothel on a LIV body by the way? The neck openings look about the same size and although the colour match isn’t great I think you could probably get away with it. You’d lose Mother Gothel’s nicer hands, though.


    • DollNerd
      Feb 16, 2014 @ 15:37:22

      Yeah, I think I am just going to try gently pinning Mother Gothel’s hair into place and then leaving it for a while to see if it will take.

      I thought about putting her head on a Liv body, and I might, but like you said, I’d lose those nice hands and the overall more elegant body shape. We’ll see.. I might try some frankensteining. 🙂


      • L. Burke Ivey
        Jun 15, 2014 @ 13:51:31

        Wetting or heating the hair post-pinning might help it set better. If you give the frankenstein approach a shot, I’d love to see it. I have a box of Liv and Bratz doll “bits” and have been considering patching together a monster of my own, so it’d be nice to get input from someone who has attempted it.

      • DollNerd
        Jul 09, 2014 @ 11:02:00

        Maybe water and heat together?

        And I will definitely post photos if I Frankenstein her! Gotta get my craft room together so I can actually start working on projects. XD

  4. Autistic Zombie
    May 07, 2014 @ 05:23:25

    Try to pick it. Look at ways to style afros and densely curled hair, you are right to not brush it but delicately picking it could work.


    • DollNerd
      May 26, 2014 @ 13:43:33

      Thank you – I feel so dumb for not thinking of hair picks and irl afros! I guess in my head I was thinking that this curly doll hair is just so different from real people hair, but some styling tenets would still be the same obviously. Right now the doll is in storage, but next time I take her out for styling/photos, I will try that.


  5. L. Burke Ivey
    Jun 15, 2014 @ 13:53:34

    Wow, that face.. just stunning. Not sure it makes up for her shortcomings, though. Ha, I recently caved and bought that same Raquelle doll.. and I, also, make a point of not buying Barbies!.. but her smirk! I couldn’t resist. It’s just too great. So happy to have her on my shelf, smirking at everyone.


    • DollNerd
      Jul 09, 2014 @ 11:00:18

      The head sculpts are definitely the strong suit of the Disney dolls, though considering how hard it is to find a really well-articulated body on anything but MH/EAH at the toystore, I’m pretty happy with Gothel.


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