Tonner My Imagination Deluxe Basic Review

The wait is finally over; she's here: Tonner's My Imagination Deluxe Basic 18" Doll!

The release of the Deluxe Basic dolls trailed the My Imagination Starter dolls by about half a year, so to see them going out at last is a welcome sight.

Mine arrived in the usual set of nested boxes stamped with all the proper names and labels, though when I finally dug down to the bottom and pulled the innermost box out, I was greeted with these startling blue eyes looking right at me! The doll's head was turned in just the right way, so it was a little eerie, but wow, there are those gorgeous Tonner eyes all over again!

I pretty much had the same reaction with my Starter Redhead; these dolls have the most stunning eyes! And the crystal blue color was really beautiful (and looks to be somewhat different from the blue used on the Starter Blonde). This is what my Deluxe Basic looked like when I got her out of her series of boxes and was able to get a really good look at her.

Omygosh she's so pretty!

Deluxe Basic Secured to her Box

She was securely tied down to the box with a series of ribbons, though untying them was a breeze. After opening so many doll boxes where dolls are wired, glued, stapled, and just about bolted into the cardboard (you doll people know what I'm talking about) pulling on a few ribbons can be very appreciated. After all, we have to get to our dolls already!

Here she is out of her box and with her protective wrapping and hair net still on. First things first; lets get all the plastic off her and get a better look.

While removing her hair net, I noticed was she had a little sprinkling of trimmed hair on her shoulder, like she'd been given a last minute trim. It was only on one side. I wasn't sure what that was about.

Free at last!

I was focused on the wig initially. The quality was decent, though not top end. While it felt super soft and silky, the construction was not the best. I tend to work with a lot of wigs, and I can say they come in all ranges from just amazing to just awful. This one was just ok.

While I can excuse the odd flips and ridges as a result of the time spent compressed in a box, it was also a bit unevenly cut around he sides of he face. I noticed there was even a section near the bangs that looked like it was snipped right off. The strands on each side were still long, so the cut didn't make a lot of sense.  But this was probably that last minute trim I mentioned earlier!

My guess is the way the wig was stitched on the side of the forehead would have left strands sticking out through the bangs, so someone made a quick fix before boxing her up. Now there's just a gap in her hair! Better, right? Maybe not. 

I would guess that this is probably a very unique situation to my doll's particular wig and not a general issue with the brunette Deluxe Basic wig.

And whatever, I'm not going to get too fussed over an imperfect wig; it's only one of two and besides, I wasn't overly impressed with my Starter Redhead's wig either. But all was forgiven because these dolls are just so dang pretty.

Like her My Imagination Starter Redhead cousin, she has nice hand-painted brows and lips in a natural pink color and lightly blushed cheeks. Her eyelashes are very long and black. Her large "doe eyes" are a lovely, clear, bright blue color.

However, I noticed that her right eye (from my perspective) actually seemed a bit off. She has a slight wall-eyed look at certain angles. It doesn't stand out to me too much, but there is definitely room for improvement!

I've also heard comments about the My Imagination face sculpts, that they look upset or like "they are about to cry." I can see why some might think so, but this probably comes down to personal taste. I actually love the thoughtful, almost poignant expressions they have.

It was very quickly time to test out the other wig. So I removed the default one and opened up the package with the additional blonde one she came with. You can see she has four Velcro patches that circle her head on the front, sides, and back, to hold the wig in place. The words 'New 18" doll-1' are stamped on the back of her head.

Her other wig is a long, wavy, light blonde one. The wigs have corresponding Velcro patches on the inside of the wig cap. In all truth I'm not so crazy about the Velcro. I can see the value in the patches keeping the wig in place when brushing or styling, but all that Velcro around all that doll hair doesn't always make the best combo when snags come into play.

Blonde Bombshell

Here she is with the blonde wig, and the shoes included in her package. Wow I think this wig is my favorite! It just works better with her features in my opinion.

The blonde wig is about the same quality as the brunette wig, not perfect, but nice enough--and super soft and silky! There were no uneven cuts on this one, thank goodness, and both wigs are overall similar in quality I think.

The style did look a little flat on top to me, however. At first I thought it was because it had sat in a plastic bag stapled to the box for who knows how long. But later I decided it could just be the style. Perhaps a little spritzing and re-brushing will fluff it up.

Or maybe she just needs a glamorous comb over!

This wig has long, bouncy, Caroline Abbot-like waves that cascade down her back. It's definitely longer than the brunette wig. However, I noticed that the sides are a bit longer than the back is. I'm not sure why. It's also slightly thin on top and the wig cap sometimes shows through. But this is not an uncommon issue with some blonde wigs. Even so, it's still a very pretty wig.

How about a Ginger?

And while I was on a wig roll, I decided to try out a generic 10"-11" wig on her, just to check the fit. It was pretty exact! I like the look of this one, though the blonde one still suits her the best in my opinion.

Either way it's nice to know she can switch out her wig with any standard 10"-11" whenever she likes! A big plus for me. :)

My Imagination Deluxe Basic doll comes wearing a cute cotton stretch undergarment edged with lace and has a Velcro closure. This is the only article of clothing she has. She also comes with white slip-on shoes. The two look cute together.

She's ready to take a bow!

 Admittedly I couldn't resist playing around with her jointed knees while setting her up for photos. But more about that later!

Full vinyl body is a plus!

My Imagination dolls have full vinyl bodies, which is a nice feature for 18" dolls. The body seems to be constructed very much like the My Imagination Starter dolls, other than the bendable knees. So of course I had to do a comparison of the two.

My Imagination Deluxe Basic and Starter Redhead

Wow, this girl is tall! I hadn't really expected the height difference, and I'm not sure why there is one, but the length seems to be all in the legs.

Different Skin Tones

The Deluxe Basic doll also has a slightly different complexion, a more neutral or beige color as opposed to the Starter doll's rosy color. I don't know if this color difference runs all across the Deluxe and Starter dolls, or just some Deluxe and Starter dolls. . .  I only have these two for comparison.

But otherwise they are identical as far as face sculpt, torso, and arms. Like the Starter doll, the Deluxe doll has a smooth torso that is slightly wider across the chest than the mostly flat waist, which is not as typical for full vinyl child dolls, who usually have rounder bellies. It gives her a more mature look in my opinion.

Gotz Hannah and My Imagination Deluxe Basic

Like I said in my earlier My Imagination Starter Doll review, the dolls have an elegant look. The graceful upward bend of the wrists and the more open hands, as opposed to the "claw" grasp of most 18" dolls, add to this effect. And of course, the ball-jointed, bendable knees complete the picture.

The jointed knees are really what intrigued me about this doll, and the part I was most eager to have a look at!

The knee ball joints are partially hidden from the front.

I noticed first that the jointed legs are constructed in such a way that the ball joints mostly don't show from the front.

From the back

But they do show fully from the back.

My Imagination Deluxe Basic and Kidz 'N' Cats Jolina

They actually fall somewhere between a visible and hidden joint. Here is a side by side with a Kidz 'N' Cats doll, whose ball joints are largely hidden from the front.

I'm not sure if the joint style is just a general Tonner thing or a My Imagination specific thing, but the partially visible joints don't quite work for me. With some poses, the knees almost look backwards, as if the protruding ball joint at the back looks more like a knee cap. I almost feel the visible joint should be in front.

But I've been known to get nit-picky at times. The knees may look just find to someone else; I just thought I'd point it out.

Deluxe Basic doing the Contrapposto

Interestingly, I also noticed that it was easier for this doll to balance with her left knee bent (from my perspective) as opposed to her right knee (from my perspective). In fact I could barely get her to stand with her right knee bent. Her legs are slightly uneven from the hip, which may be the reason for it, although I'm not sure if this is just my doll or all Deluxe Basic dolls.

I wanted to put her in a classic contrapposto post, but struggled to get it right, especially with the right knee.

The right knee joint bends inward.

The right knee wanted to bend inward, so it put her somewhat off balance. I had heard there were a few production issues with the knee joints of the Deluxe basic dolls, and from the looks of it, they may not be fully resolved.

I do really like the flexibility of the joints though. She can easily bend her legs 45 degrees and hold that pose.  She can't exactly balance this way, however. She needed a bit of help from me!

She doesn't have the most lady-like sit, but I do like that her knee joints fold down easily.

And I just really like the look of the joints when they're visible as they suggest actual knees to me.

The knee joints make these dolls so poseable! Why no elbow joints?

And I have to wonder why Tonner chose to not give the Deluxe Basic doll elbow joints as well. I feel it would have made her much more poseable and versatile, and what's not awesome about that? It's just a bit disappointing to me that she's got non-bendable arms.

Perhaps Tonner felt it wasn't as aesthetic or appealing to the general 18" American Girl market to be extra-jointed. Or maybe they are offering something they feel is the best of both worlds? Or maybe, just maybe, they are planning to release a Deluxe Non-Basic doll in the future with bendable arms! I can dream, can't I?!

American Girl Caroline Abbot and My Imagination Deluxe Basic

During my last Tonner review, I stated the Starter dolls did not offer much versatility. Currently they still don't; you can get a light skinned doll in one face sculpt and in two shades of "pale." And as pretty as they are, they're still a little bit cookie-cutter.

However, My Imagination dolls will very soon offer a new ethnic doll with a unique face sculpt in a darker shade of vinyl--two separate darker shades in fact! I can't say enough good stuff about that. (And based on this Toy Fair 2016 picture, it looks like she's going to be a beauty!) Now whether they will eventually offer any additional face sculpts or perhaps even boy dolls remains to be seen. But having an ethnic doll join the My Imagination ranks is already pretty excellent. I'm assuming she will be offered as a Deluxe doll as well.

My Imagination Deluxe Basic partially-jointed doll gets fairly high marks overall from this reviewer. While she's not perfect and I may have the odd complaint (wig issues, eye placement, maybe slightly wonky legs) she is still pretty impressive! She has that unmistakable Tonner grace, and a porcelain-doll beauty with strikingly beautiful eyes that sets her apart from many 18" dolls. She is a worthy follow up to the My Imagination Starter dolls, and offers a fantastically fun option for customization with the default Tonner wigs, or any standard 10"-11" wig available! That is an instant win for me.

The long awaited My Imagination Deluxe Basic doll delivers! While she may not be quite as lithe and balanced as other hyper-jointed 18" dolls, she is also reasonably priced compared to them. At about $110, she is significantly less than Kidz 'N' Cats dolls, hyper-jointed Gotz dolls like Happy Kidz or Classic Kidz, and even the non-bendable American Girl dolls.



Ruby's picture

I'm so glad you weren't disappointed in her! We had a lot of the same impressions (my review is on my blog over at Dollation, but it won't let me add a link). I love your doll in the black curly wig. I think I'm going to go rummage through my wig stash. :)
Little Raven's picture

I'm sold on these dolls. Look forward to seeing where they go with them. Yeah I'm a doll wig junkie, love that these dolls can wear more than one, or even two.

I had a look at your review, excellent, always love your posts. Yes we seem to see many of the same things in these dolls. Loved how you gave Maya hand crutches, and that Ann Estelle outfit is to die for. :)

Arlette's picture

I have really enjoyed reading your review. She looks really adorable in the blonde wig. I am sure you will find her a suitable dark brown or even an auburn wig that will fit her perfectly. Waiting for the ethnic versions of these dolls to be released (hopefully before December).
Little Raven's picture

Thanks for your comments Arlette, and yes the wig options are fairly open, thank goodness. I'm so looking forward to the new ethnic dolls too.
Mari's picture

Thank you for your review and photos. I hope they do bendable arms also.can" t wait to see if he does that and maybe other eye colors or even one where you can change the eye color. Would love the Native American too.
Little Raven's picture

Agree, I check every couple weeks or so, hope we get to see the new ones soon!

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