A cartoon's potential tends to be associated with the brand's ability to produce merchandise. Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exist because an executive realized '80s kids would collectively flock to the nearest Toys“R”Us to purchase a 3 foot 3 Optimus Prime or a talking Master Splinter. Sure, children watch Steven Universe, but are they willing to pester their parents for six straight months to buy a Steven Universe? Such a fine line differentiates failure from success.
Disney functions on a completely separate level to every other company in the business. Mickey Mouse's name is enough to turn a feeble project into a runaway victory with the potential for serialization. Disney's recent push to OWN all of Hollywood has greatly expanded the roster of iconic characters available to the corporation, but Mickey was doing perfectly fine before Star Wars or Marvel. Released in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs marked Disney's first feature-length animated production, setting a standard upheld by the company to this very day. Regardless of one's opinion concerning the studio's films, there is no denying Disney knows a thing or two about cultivating an image.
Disney is magic. Disney is creative. Disney is beautiful. Occasionally, Disney is a hilarious doll with barely a passing resemblance to the real deal! Now, to avoid any misconceptions, most of these toys are well-made; however, capturing Disney's magic in a plastic figurine is easier said than done. Here are 25 licensed Disney toys that look nothing like the characters!
24 Beauty And The Bieber
Its rare a doll is considered newsworthy. Coinciding with the release of 2017's live-action Beauty and the Beast, Disney produced a line of Belle dolls that garnered attention for all the wrong reasons. Toys based on real people are inherently complicated, especially when an entirely different celebrity is adopted as a source of inspiration!
Seeking to comprehend the chain of events responsible for blending Emma Watson with Justin Bieber, Cosmopolitan interviewed Robert Tonner, a prominent sculptor with experience crafting licensed dolls. The artist breaks down the item's glaring blunders and mentions dolls are idealized versions of the source material. Disney's cartoons are already perfect, but humans are slightly more refined.
23 Close But Not Quite Perfect
They gave Esmeralda a generic doll face. Usually, a licensed toy relies on its eye color and hair to convince fans they are the real deal. Otherwise, dolls seem to just cycle through five basic faces. The Hunchback of Notre Dame represents Disney at its least confident. The studio accepted the challenging task of adapting Victor Hugo's adult novel into a family picture while preserving the integrity of the source material. When the film works, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of Disney's best. Unfortunately, the film only hits the mark approximately 50% of the time.
Esmeralda is a one-of-a-kind female lead in Disney's history. She deserves better than a mass-produced face with a paint job.
22 Night Of the Living Aladdin
From the torso down, Aladdin's toy is an acceptable replica of the street rat's physique. Even though not without flaws, the solid paintwork helps push the merchandise over the line. Well, that would be the case, if it were not for the head! Aladdin's thinker seems to belong to a completely different toy. The head's skin color is a shade lighter than the rest of the figure, a flaw exasperated by the blatantly obvious connect point dividing the two sections.
Last but certainly not least, Aladdin's anime eyes are obviously intended to suck the soul of any hapless bystander who happens to stare in the figure's general direction. The doll in the background used to be a normal girl!
21 A Maleficent Doll!
2014's Maleficent reframes arguably Disney's definitive villain as a misunderstood anti-hero. Casting Angelina Jolie in the title role was a stroke of genius, especially considering the actress seldom lends her talents to modern blockbusters. Is the live-action adaptation any good? Well, Maleficent is a mixed bag.
Fittingly, this Maleficent doll is also a mixed bag. Merchandises based on live-action characters are tricky to competently pull off, as the plastic gloss automatically adds an uncanny element. While possessing a passing resemblance to the actress, the toy looks like an elf from The Lord of the Rings is cosplaying as Maleficent. Is that really a bad thing?
20 This Moana Is Looking Through Us
Frozen may be Disney's highest-grossing animated flick of recent years, but Moana has a solid case for being the best. Soaked in Polynesian iconography, 2016's gorgeous musical sees the typically Eurocentric studio respectfully tackle a regional culture without overly romanticizing the mythology (Mulan) or revising history (Pocahontas).
As the daughter of a village's chief, Moana is a Disney princess in everything but name. Now, in all fairness, the stubborn but relatable protagonist comes across as her own person, rather than a collection of traits best suited to represent Disney's brand. This doll has crazy eyes. Moana's Moana does not have crazy eyes.
19 Designer Ursula
Available for a limited time, this exclusive Ursula doll was designed by Disney artists as a collector's item for fans of The Little Mermaid. Obviously, the villainess shares very little in common with the cartoon's memorable antagonist; nevertheless, this is one incredible piece of merchandise! Ursula's dress is stunning, while the doll's expressive features add a touch of personality to what is essentially a piece of plastic.
Even with the new appearance, Ursula's essence remains firmly intact. Simply gazing at this creation should be enough to recognize the character being portrayed, which - as some other entries illustrate - is no simple feat.
18 Hannah Montana's Double Life
Disney Channel's performers might be as artificial as dolls, but literally turning Hannah Montana into Barbie seems a little on the nose. Some subtlety goes a long way! Personal preference notwithstanding, Hannah Montana left quite a significant impression on the cultural landscape. Disney sitcoms have been around since the '90s, but Hannah Montana's popularity ushered in a new era of teenage pop stars who have no business acting.
Hannah Montana's protagonist is more of a symbol than a real character. She is essentially a relatable Disney princess. The doll's universal design makes sense, as Hannah Montana amounts to more than just Miley Cyrus.
17 Sleeping Beauty Needs A Comb
Now, to be fair, Princess Aurora's sleep schedule is somewhat more erratic than the average person's routine. Her bed hair is perfectly understandable. After all, Aurora is known as Sleeping Beauty, not "recently woke up from an excruciatingly long nap to find a strange man staring down at me" beauty. All in all, she is about as presentable as could realistically be expected.
Evidently, Maleficent's enchanted apple caused Aurora's head to balloon in size. Magic is so unpredictable. Rubbing a lamp releases a genie, singing a song breathes life into snowmen, and fruit turn princesses into bobbleheads. Life is cruel.
16 Anna & Elsa
Prior to pointing out this entry's amusing characteristics, let's take a moment to appreciate the fine craftsmanship displayed in Anna and Elsa's dresses. They are genuinely lovely, especially the Snow Queen's icy gown. The attention to detail sets these two dolls apart from the competition, particularly when it comes to the intricate patterns on both dresses. Frozen has definitely spawned uglier merchandise.
At best, the dolls' faces might pass as belonging to Anna and Elsa's distant cousins. Elsa's neck is also quite long in the movie, but it is slightly more pronounced on a static figurine. Anna fares worse than her sister, as Elsa's milky complexion is at least somewhat distinguishing.
15 Jedi Mind Trick
For better or worse, Disney owns Star Wars. 2015's Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens ushered in a highly anticipated new era in George Lucas' storied franchise, and Disney has not stopped producing content. Created in anticipation of Rey's debut in J. J. Abrams' space opera, Mickey produced countless toys to celebrate the insane amount of money Disney is likely to earn through Star Wars.
BB-8 is perfect, but the same cannot be said about Rey. The scavenger's attire and weapon-set have been lovingly recreated, but the doll might have benefitted from the artist taking a closer look at Daisy Ridley's features. Here is a perfect Rey.
14 Mickey & Minnie: Just Wrong Edition
Vintage toys are awesome. Regardless of whether they age gracefully or like a cartoon of milk left out in the sun since October 16, 1923; ancient merchandise serves as a window to a bygone era of commercialism. Compared to the Mickey Mouse tasked with fighting the darkness in Kingdom Hearts III, this vintage doll is far less adorable and marketable. In fact, Mickey rarely looks this similar to a mouse!
Contrasting the doll to Mickey's various designs over the last century, one should be able to fairly accurately discern the toy's point of origin. 1935's Mickey's Garden was the first full-color short to feature Disney's mascot and one of only two to show Mickey wearing yellow gloves. By 1936's Moving Day, white gloves were in fashion.
13 A Toy's Smile
Kaiyodo's Woody clearly has a story to tell, but ignorance might be a healthier option. Developed by the Japanese company as part of their Sci-Fi Revoltech Series, this version of Toy Story's Woody fits the image of an outlaw better than of a sheriff. On a particularly boring afternoon, Andy envisions a parallel universe starring Woody's doppelganger.
Buzz Lightyear comes with multiple settings, so it is reasonable to assume Woody has a switch to activate "creepy mode." As difficult as it might be, try to ignore the smile and focus on the rest of the action figure. Kaiyodo's creation is quite stunning and detailed.
12 Olaf's Vacant Stare
Frozen spawned so many dolls, toys, games, action figures, and trinkets; parents will be examining Annas and Elsas for the next 50 years. When money is involved, Disney does not kid around. With a sequel set to land later this year, Frozen memorabilia is likely to experience another resurgence destined to dominate the Christmas scene for the foreseeable future.
All Olafs are born equal, but some Olafs are more equal than others. While not the worst example on this list, there is just something off about this stuffed snowman. Among mascots, Olaf is slightly goofier than most, but the movie's fantastic animation helps bring the character to life. Doll Olaf's eyes are completely vacant. Why so cold, O?
11 Winnie Before Disney
Prior to accepting Mickey as the supreme overlord of all cartoon characters, Winnie-the-Pooh entertained generations of readers. Written by A. A. Milne, the author named Pooh Bear and 100 Acre Wood's inhabitants after stuffed toys owned by his son, Christopher Robin. Nearly a century later, the original toys are available for everyone to see at the New York Public Library.
Considering Christopher purchased Pooh before Walt founded Disney, the studio played no part in distributing these culturally significant teddy bears to the public. The characters have changed a fair amount since the early 1920s, but Pooh Bear will always be Pooh Bear. Apparently, sadness is Eeyore's natural state.
10 A Frozen Smile
A smiling doll is a hard sell. Describing a smile as plastic is far from a compliment; in fact, the phrase implies the wearer's fake grin is covering up some hidden resentment or sadness. More often than not, toys are literally made of plastic; hence, a smiling doll masks a troubled individual who is dissatisfied with their current situation. Or, they work in the customer service industry.
Along with sharing identical faces, Anna and Elsa came across as models obligated by contract to grin. There is nothing sincere about the siblings' smiles. Next time you feel a friendly waiter/waitress are clearly sending signals, remember Frozen's princesses and their professional smiles.
9 A Stuffed Duck
Donald Duck is another mascot whose design evolved quickly following the character's debut. Leading a similar career trajectory as Mickey Mouse, Donald started out as a relatively realistic (cartoon) duck, before shifting to a more stylized form in subsequent shorts.
While clearly expertly crafted, this doll seems to be caught somewhere in the middle between the original and definitive models of the duck. Generally, Donald maintains the same wardrobe regardless of the short, so pinpointing the exact era is challenging. Without a mischievous grin or a barely coherent voice, Donald Duck is just not Donald Duck. Goofy is always Goofy.
8 A Tangled Recreation
Tangled brought Disney back to prominence. Now, to give credit where credit is due, The Princess and the Frog deserves praise for taking the initial step towards reaffirming the studio's supremacy over the industry. In the current decade, Disney has gone from strength to strength; Tangled set the pace, Frozen collected all the world's money, Zootopia impressed critics, and Big Hero 6 is a movie. However, the company needs to improve its toy game.
Rapunzel's freckles are way too pronounced, while the Princess' red lips overpower her surrounding features. In the movie, Rapunzel also appears to be tanner, but that may just be a side-effect of cartoon rain only falling when a character's sadness calls for it.
7 Mary Poppins, Not Quite Perfect In Every Way
Is Mary Poppins usually this intimidating? This vintage doll would not seem out of place alongside Annabelle and Chucky. In fact, horror's sinister stuffed toys stand no chance against Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews' nanny can be somewhat arrogant and pushy, but she always has the children's best interest at heart. Considering all the magical tricks at her disposal, a villainous Mary Poppins would be a devastating force for evil. Superman pales in comparison to Disney's legendary babysitter!
Want to ensure the kids never have another good night sleep? Position this doll on a shelf opposite their beds and let Mary Poppins work her magic!
6 Minnie's Duck Face
Whether deliberate or coincidental, you probably own a Mattel product. Founded in 1945, the American manufacturing company is responsible for Fisher-Price, Barbie, Polly Pocket, Hot Wheels, Masters of the Universe, and various other famous brands. Unsurprisingly, Mattel is no stranger to licensed merchandise, although few are quite as unintentionally humorous as duck face Minnie Mouse.
Disney is responsible for every unfortunate trend.
Mattel's Sing-a-ma-jigs line of toys equips several characters with unique songs and modes. Minnie's inflated lips are quite hilarious, but the doll itself is highly rated. Time Magazine named the Sing-a-ma-jigs as 2010's top toys. Weirdly enough, Minnie was not picked as the line's representative by the magazine.
5 Tinker (Barbie) Bell
Defunct in 2012, Tiger Electronics is primarily remembered for producing a string of handheld LCD games during the 1990s. While fun for the time period, Tiger's ports are better left in one's memory. Trust us, they are nowhere near as entertaining as you remember!
The games have aged poorly, but can the same be said about Tiger's toys? We cannot attest to the doll's quality, but Tiger's Tinkerbell bares a striking resemblance to Mattel's iconic Barbie figurine, just with a rounder face. The box even specifies that she is "Peter Pan's Friend," almost like the manufacturer feared customers might not be able to recognize her.
4 Hercules Learns Kratos Is In The House
Zeus' son looks terrified! Whatever the reason, Wonderboy clearly wishes to be anywhere else but here. Honestly, the toy's entire design is perplexing. Hercules' eponymous demi-god wears brown armor throughout the majority of the flick, which is not even close to this toy's admittedly awesome white attire. The hero's hair is fairly accurate, but Hercules' facial expression is all over the place!
Is he angry, surprised, or scared? Does he need to go to the bathroom? Regardless of what is the right answer, they are all weird directions to take a movie tie-in toy. Not necessarily bad, just weird. This Hercules hardly inspires confidence.
3 A Brave Attempt (Sorry...)
Pixar is Disney, but Disney is not Pixar. Brave serves as the latter's attempt to mimic the former's formula; unfortunately, Pixar sacrificed its own artistic integrity in the process. In the end, Brave is too superficial to pass for a Pixar project while lacking the playfulness to compare favorably with Disney's masterpieces.
Unwilling to marry her mother's suitors, Princess Merida rebels against the establishment, hightails it to a nearby forest, and basically uses an enchanted cake to poison the Queen. Does this sound familiar? Disney has been using a variant of this blueprint for decades! A generic backstory deserves a non-descript doll, and Merida earned one!
2 Mermaid Out Of Water
Points for effort, but TYCO's Ariel falls short of sticking the landing. Where to begin? In order to allow customers to alter the model's attire, the Princess' fin may as well be a bag wrapped around Ariel's legs. The mermaid's bushy ginger locks are not the easiest to replicate, and TYCO gave it a decent shot.
Assuming the box is not diluting the color's potency, Ariel's hair seems a tad washed out in comparison to the original model. The fact The Little Mermaid's protagonist is etched on the cover and readily available for a quick game of "spot the difference" does the toy no favors.
1 Vintage Mickey Is Best Mickey
If Kingdom Hearts ever elects to allow the darkness to consume Mickey, Square Enix does not need to search far for inspiration. Vintage Mickey is ghastly, and that is meant to be taken as a compliment! At one point in time, this item may have been viewed as a toy; nowadays, Mickey's creepy doll is a historical artifact. In 2128, Lara Croft will raid tombs in search of Steamboat Willie's mystical stuffed mouse of Disney.
Animators should also cherish Disney's doll. If a mascot as ugly as original Mickey has the potential to take over the world, then there is no such thing as a terrible design.