Tonner Doll Winter 2018 release - Outlander Claire Fraser in the iconic Red Dress

After quite a lot of time and retailers publishing information before them, Tonner Doll finally releases the first official photos and information about Outlander line’s second and much anticipated doll, Claire Fraser in the famous red dress. Alongside her, the first couple of Mary Astor dolls (it is almost a year since they were previewed in Toyfair) will be also available to buy from their website, if you haven’t already preordered them from dealers. Claire has not even appeared on the Tonner Doll website. Their ultra limited editions mean they could be sold out already at dealers though. They will ship in late February 2018.

 Claire Fraser - T17OTDD01 - $235.00


Claire stands 16” tall, is made of vinyl and hard plastic and has 15 points of articulation.  Highlighting her blue eyes, her deep rich brown rooted saran hair is styled to accent her period gown. Made of a deep ruby-red taffeta the separate bodice of the dress is trimmed with tiny satin ribbons crisscrossed over the rib cage and cuff of the three-quarter sleeve.  Her drop-dead skirt is fashioned of the same taffeta as the bodice. Deep pleats add detail interest and richness to the full skirt.  Of course she needs something to hold the skirt up, so a tulle cage is included. Under all that are nude pantyhose (a nod to the modern) and costume accurate satin shoes with buckled straps to hold them in place. Her “ruby” and “diamond” rhinestone earrings finish off the outfit. Claire comes with an acrylic based stand.  Limited Edition of 300


Sooooo, here she is. She looks better than the first Claire doll. I love the look of the dress and how they managed to convey the same impression that the actress in the actual costume conveyed when first appeared in the corresponding episode. I’m glad I preordered her... but. There are some things that look weird or feel unnecessary. 


First of all. The shape of the décolletage is wrong. The original costume was designed with a very low neckline, as was the norm in that period, but Terry Dresbach, Outlander’s amazing costume designer wanted Claire without a corset, so that she could show more flesh, as described in the book. So she took a typical bodice of the era and deconstructed it, to make Claire more provocative, in an era where provocative was de riguere, especially in the court of Louis XV. 


The doll, on the contrary, is not provocative at all. Her breasts are completely hidden by the dress, even if you lower the front a bit. From the Tonner description above, it looks like the dress is two separate pieces, the bodice and the skirt. I wonder if that is the case in reality as well, but from the photos it looks like one piece - a real dress. I know it would be easier to put on as separate pieces, but it would not look right when the actress moved. Also, the bodice looks like it incorporates the front panel of the skirt, something that is not happening in the real costume. 


Now the skirt, apart from the non-separate front panel, also has different pleats. Terry Dresbach mentioned in an interview that she loves cartridge pleats, even though they are not very period appropriate, and that is what you see on this dress too. But the doll outfit has knife pleating. It is actually more correct for the period but not for this particular costume. It helps wth the volume and overall feel but it does not look right, despite the photographer’s effort to make the doll look like Claire in the publicity photo of her and Jamie going up the stairs.  I wonder how the back looks, cause the real one is this:


The back in the real dress has fastening (even though adult dresses of the period had front fastening) so that the dress can have the extra low décolletage sans corset look. It works. And below you can see the cartridge pleats in close up.


The doll description by Tonner mentions nude pantyhose as a node to modern times. Really? The whole dress design is a nod to modern times (inspired by Dior gowns and Gruau sketches of the late 40s) with Claire supervising its creation in the series. I’m pretty sure she did not have pantyhose with her - they did not even have any in her proper time period! Thankfully they got the shoes right, which are an amalgamation of Louis XV and modern era styles, thanks to Claire (and Terry Dresbach of course). They might have missed a buckle and strap or two but the feel is there.


Most of the other details are spot on. The crisscrossed bodice, the ribbons at the finishing of her sleeves, the volume, all look really good. Dresbach said that the actual costume took 15 yards of duchess satin to produce. I wonder how much fabric this doll needed. The use of taffeta is probably due to practical and production reasons but the fabric in the photos looks quite thin to mimic duchess satin, which is particularly luxurious and heavy.


The earrings, her only jewellery in the episode, look very close to the real thing. Pity she does not have the gorgeous Stag fan Claire uses throughout the ball. The hair has the proper volume and shape but could use some hairspray to keep it together - the photographed doll already has flyaways. Her face looks better in this release, more like Caitriona Balfe, the actress playing Claire, then the first doll.


I will do a proper review of the actual doll when she arrives , which will probably be sometime in March.


Doll photos courtesy of Tonner Doll, costume photos from Terry Dresbach’s blog