There may be a girl or two somewhere out there who doesn’t know that Queen Elsa and Princess Anna dolls, both inspired by the Disney movie “Frozen,” have dethroned Barbie as the most popular doll in the universe. But only a parent can know the havoc that this royal ascendancy has wreaked on pocketbooks throughout the land.
When I did a price check Monday on the Target Web site, the 18-inch-tall versions of Elsa and Anna were retailing for $75.99 and $49.99, respectively. When did doll sets start costing almost as much as a week’s worth of groceries for a low-income family of four?
The most popular version of the dolls appears to be a smaller, flimsier model called the “Frozen” Sparkle Princess Doll.
Elsa lists for only $14.99, but to get Anna — and eventually you will have to get the heroine of the show — it’ll cost roughly $24.99. And then you’ll be pressed for the wardrobe, starting with, say, a Queen Elsa tutu for $32.95.
Triple digits for a few pieces of molded plastic with hair and clothes that’ll last about a week in the hands of a 3-year-old? With any other toy, it would be easy enough just to walk away. Not with these dolls, not when diabolical movie merchandisers conjure up creations that mesmerize your children and leave them disappointed to the point of being catatonic if they can’t have one.
And especially not when grandparents show up.
“This Doll is sooo cooooollll!” wrote Rogersskip in a customer review of the Sparkle Princess Elsa Doll for Amazon on Dec. 18. “Our granddaughter loves it, or she would if Grandma would ever put it down.”
Another posted: “Great doll and so popular our granddaughter loved it and carried it around all day long.”
Yet another wrote: “Granddaughter will be a happy little girl. . . . Thanks!!!”
Grandmasheila posted in response: “Mine too.”
I haven’t seen the doll market go bonkers like this since Chucky the serial killer doll and his evil bride, Tiffany, became movie stars in the 1990s.
Even Barbie, in second place after 11 years as reigning queen of the doll world, still knows how to pick a pocket. The 2014 Barbie Collector Ball Gown Doll costs $109.99 at Target. The doll itself looks exactly the same as the one my younger sisters got back in 1960, when it cost less than $5.
Not to dampen the holiday spirit, but let’s face it: Santa is getting snookered, and you know who is going to end up holding the bag.
Barbie has a passel of ethnic girlfriends whose features are mostly distinctions without a difference from hers. And yet they all are priced differently. At Amazon, the white Barbie Entrepreneurial Doll was selling for $24.04 on Tuesday, while the African American Entrepreneurial Doll was listed for $41.41; the Asian version was selling for $22.88, and the Hispanic version was priced at $21.70.
When a disgruntled African American father in Cincinnati complained about a similar disparity on the Target Web site last month, Target told him that there had been a “system error” in the pricing. Soon after, the store where he shops reduced the price of both black and white Barbie dolls to around $20.
But the crazy pricing scheme remains in place at many outlets. Such as Amazon.
The father, Warren Johnson, told a Cincinnati television station that he and his 6-year-old daughter were looking at Barbie dolls online when she noticed the pricing disparity. “She just said, ‘Why does this black doll cost more than the white doll?’ ” Johnson told BuzzFeed. “And I just couldn’t explain it.”
There appears no end to the madness. Come January, filmmaker Tyler Perry is expected to debut his first animated film, “Madea’s Tough Love.” Madea, played in a series of phenomenally successful movies by Perry in drag, is crude and rude but beloved by fans for telling it like it is.
Madea drives a 1970 Cadillac de Ville sedan, sometimes packs a pistol and has no affinity for the men in her family who play with Barbie dolls.
So you better watch out, Barbie, and try not to cry, Elsa and Anna. A Madea doll could be coming to town next year.
I might even break down and buy one, if only to scare Chucky and his bride.
To read previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/courtlandmilloy.