Welcome to part 2 in a series dedicated to looking back at Tonner’s line of Wonder Woman dolls! Part 1 is here. This week we’re taking a look at the first vinyl and plastic doll, the 16″ Wonder Woman. She uses the first “bendy-wrist” Tyler fashion body with a bloom skin tone, has an edition size of 3,000 (the highest of all the Tonner WW dolls) and an original suggested retail of $124.99. Except for the gold bracelets, she’s wearing her classic outfit that she wore in the comics from 1982-1986 until DC rebooted her alongside the rest of their characters. Seperate outfits were offered as well, “Office Savvy” and “Amazon Princess”. We’ll take a look at these next week because I want to devote this post to the doll itself.
She’s very special for a couple of reasons: 1. She was simultaneously released alongside Supergirl, launching the DC Stars “Tonner Character Figure” line. 2. She’s my very first Tonner doll….ever. Yep, this is one that turned me from a die hard action figure collector into a full time doll collector.
I was a fan of the Lynda Carter tv show from the time the show first aired on CBS a year before I entered Kindergarten. At the time the 12″ Mego WW doll was a staple in almost every department store we went in. I asked Santa Claus for her every year, only to be met with disappointment every Christmas morning that she never came. I had the poster, coloring books, the little action figure, but my dad wouldn’t allow me to have the doll. Heck, I wasn’t even interested in dolls, I just wanted Wonder Woman but he never understood that. Years later as an adult I would eventually get one as well as the variant editons but the denial of that doll set into motion a lifelong want for a WW doll.
In late 2006 I had been a comics and toy collector for nearly 26 years at the time and I saw a listing for the 16″ WW offered in the back of Diamond Previews, the main distributor to all the comics stores in the country. I remembered the name “Tonner” from the porcelain doll that I had passed over years before because she was so expensive at the time ($500) so I preordered this one as a consolation for the one that got away. Three long months later she arrived at the store for pick-up.
To be honest I was expecting an overpriced Barbie doll and it didn’t take long to blow that thought out of the water. First, I untied the nylon ribbons securing her to the box. Wow, the weight of the doll was impressive! Not really heavy but substantial enough that I realized that I just paid $125.00 for something that’s more than a Barbie. Next, I twisted her head forward and carefully removed the hairnet. Out came the biggest mound of doll hair I had ever seen! A large mass of jet black hair in a spiral perm that gently bounced on her shoulders and cascaded down her back. I turned her to face me and that’s when I had a better look at her face. It was beautiful, noble, and had a dignified grace about it. I said “Oh my God….this is Wonder Woman.” I examined the face paint and couldn’t believe the detailing in the paint apps. Further proof that I didn’t just blow my money. I removed the plastic protecting her arms as well as on her ankles. The movement and articulation of the body was tight and smooth and she could hold a variety of poses.
I set her aside to unpack the accessories. I didn’t realize it from the solicitation that they were made from metal! The tiara was molded as one bright, shiny piece with the iconic red star and very heavy. The next item to get unpacked was the belt. Wow, again! It has a small hinge on one end, while on the other a clasp just like a piece of jewelry! The lasso of truth is attached and a nice gold cord with the perfect thickness used keeping it in scale with the doll. The gold bracelets were opened next and I still couldn’t believe gold metal was used! I examined each one and thoughts of Lynda Carter deflecting bullets from her golden bracelets immediately came to mind.
The last thing to be unpacked were the boots. Thoughts of Lynda Carter came again as I slipped the first boot on her foot and carefully zipped up the back. The other one went on just as easily and it was at this point that I started humming the WW theme. When I turned the doll up to get a look at how the boots looked, I was singing outloud: “Wonder Woman!, Wonder Woman!, all the world is waiting for you, and..” well, you know the rest…..or you should! The humming and singing went on the entire time I was putting her together and I could even hear the sound effects ringing in my ears throughout the process! The boots are the closest thing to the tv show boots that have ever been made, and to this day they haven’t been equalled even by Tonner themselves.
The belt was next to be put on. I had a little trouble getting it on because it fit so tight around the waist I didn’t want to damage the delicate clasp. The biggest complaint I hear (and I had trouble with this myself) is that the belt doesn’t rest directly on the top part of the blue briefs. A little bit of the red bodice peeks out the bottom. I had to work at pulling the upper part of the outfit up enough so the belt could go into place the way it’s supposed to.
The bracelets were next and it was a little rough getting them on. I didn’t know it at the time, but I could have just pulled the hands off, slipped the bracelets on, and then popped the hands back into place. Instead I scuffed her wrists a bit getting them on. They’re not supposed to dangle loosly above the hands. Instead, I pushed them up a little and bent them just enough stay into place. Now, that’s how Lynda Carter wore hers!
The tiara was definitely a challenge. It’s molded bigger that her head and the easiest way to put it on is to just have it around the outside of her hair. Nothing wrong with that since she’s worn it like that before, but not with this outfit. Instead the tiara should only be visible in the front and covered in the back. It took a few tries experimenting with different amounts of hair to loop through it to get it to stay into place. If it isn’t balanced just right it falls down to cover her eyes because of the weight of the metal. You can build up the back with some masking or electrical tape to keep it from sliding down.
For some reason the “W” emblem is a screenprinted decal instead of an embroidered logo like Tonner’s first doll. It would have looked much better that way, or at least with gold metallic paint. On the prototype pics it looks like plain yellow, but on the production doll it’s a golden yellow. I’ve bought several of this same doll over the years and I’ve had some nrfb, still sealed in the shipper arrive with a bright orange emblem. I assume that during the production process some of these left the factory with the color error so if you’re buying one examine the seller’s pics closely or just ask them what color the emblem is. Also, please note that this doll doesn’t come with earrings. I normally don’t use the earrings that come with my dolls anyway, but I had a couple of sewing pins that made a perfect addition to her look.
After setting her up on her waist gripper stand I set her over on the table next to me and just looked at her. I was so excited to finally have a WW doll that was *this close* to being accurate to the comic with a nod to the tv show. Despite the many things that could have been improved upon (and later were) I was in awe of the quality. It was also bittersweet at the same time because I knew that if I had her 30 years ago I would have loved her even more. I had been a hardcore action figure collector for many years (I even had all 3 WW Barbies) and this was the first time I had such an emotional response to a toy. It made me feel like a 6 year-old kid again. It brought back memories of that old house we used to live in and watching Lynda Carter deflect bullets on our old tv with the bad picture tube. It was like Christmas Day and finally having the opportunity to own my favorite character……and after 30 years it was definitely worth the wait!
Next week we’ll take a look at the “Office Savvy” outfit, “Amazon Princess” and the exclusive doll that wore the outfit.