Friday, February 16, 2018

Out of the Box: Disney Couture De Force 20th Anniversary Esmerelda Hunchback Notre Dame

While I've never been a big Disney collector, so many of my friends are (both real life friends and online doll/figure collectors) that occasionally I get swept up in their enthusiasm.  One recent case of this was the number of people I've seen collecting the Couture De Force resin figurines, which led to me picking up their Esmerelda figure, which was released to mark the 20th Anniversary of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 2016.

I've always thought that Hunchback was such an odd candidate for a Disney adaptation, and so even though it wasn't a completely successful movie I've always had a soft spot for it.  Perhaps it's because it was so oddly-themed that there's relatively little merchandise out there for it (I've long said that I'd love to buy a villain-themed snow globe that plays the Hellfire song).  Seeing this pop up, I decided to give it a try.

This figurine, in line with most of the Couture De Force line is 8 inchces/20cm in height.  The retail prices on the various figures in the line range between $44 and $90 USD, and Esmerelda landed right in the middle at $66USD.  The marketing promises that "faux gems, encrusted crystals and opalescent paint bring each sculpture to life".

Having seen reviews for some of the other figurines in this series I was excited to see this one in person. And while it's certainly a pretty figure I was disappointed over all.
Front view.
From a viewer's perspective, the most glaring issue is that the figurine's face sculpt doesn't actually look like the animated version. The sculpt is pretty, but if not for the signature dress she doesn't actually look like Esmerelda. In a low-priced play doll that would be fine (if not expected), but in a figurine at a much higher price point it just seems sloppy.
Back view.
From a display perspective, the detailing on the dress is lovely.  The sculpted and painted details are wonderful, and the semi-translucent, glitter-embedded scarf was great fun to photograph outside. The "faux gems" look a little silly up close, but from a distance they're acceptable - and when the light catches them there's a certain added charm.
Side view.
That said, the resin of this figure is incredibly light.  Picking this figure up, I was reminded more of the resin animal figurines you can buy at Dollarama for $5 (and that's $5CDN!).  If this were a line selling at half the price (perhaps in the range of $30USD) I would be less bothered, but for the actual price I wanted something more solid.
Given my issues with the weight and the lack of facial likeness I'm not sure this is a  figure I want to have on display. I've been debating keeping her just because of the relative rarity of Hunchback merchandise, but since I'm trying to get away from collecting figures that I don't want to display, I'm not sure I'm going to keep this one. We'll see!
A parting glance.

If you're a collector of the Couture De Force line, how have your experiences been?  Are other facial sculpts more like the characters?  I'd be curious to know!


  1. Oh that is a shame because some of the ones I've seen in photos look very nice and detailed. Having said that, your photos show an attractive ornament, but of course the lightness of the resin etc definitely would disappoint in that price range.

    1. They do look good in photos. Considering that I may have to dig out a copy of the book her movie is based on and try to take some artistic photos before I pack her back up! ;)

  2. Oh, well - that was a shame on an otherwise great looking collectible! She looks beautiful in these photos and in the shops, but of course one wants more when the price is like that.

    1. Yeah, she is very pretty. I almost wish I were a more devoted collector, because then I could just love her for her place in the line-up.

  3. I've never heard of this line before so you've introduced me to something new.

    I am sorry you got this one and it ended up disappointing. I agree with you on her face sculpt. For the price, she really needed to look like Esmeralda.

    I only collect the dolls in the Disney line and even with those I'm fairly fussy about which one I get. But it's nice to see the figures though.

    1. Faces aside, they're a nice-looking line.

      I hadn't heard of the line until recently myself. I actually found out about them via a book reviewer on youtube - she wasn't actually talking about the figures, they just stood out on her bookshelf in the background!

  4. I agree that the lack of facial likeness reduces some of the fun and excitement in receiving a collectible. Unless there's some other wow factor, that lack could ruin your appreciation for the object. I suppose you will weigh the pros and the cons of the figure in your collection. Good luck in your decision.

    1. Thanks, D7ana.

      I think you're right, the initial disappointment did stop me from fully appreciating this one. I still haven't decided what I'll do with her, but I do think it's worth giving her some more time. :)