I've been in love with Saint Tail since I first saw her image. Even though Kaitou Saint Tail is a minor mahou shoujo series, I insist that the character design, especially when it comes to her rich sparkling hair, is much more interesting than that of Sailor Senshi (sorry, Moonies) and just cries for figurines and dolls. The first doll was made the same year the anime was broadcast, that's 1996, while the second only appeared in 2015 in Takara retrospective doll series. Of course, I bought both, because I wanted to compare them! (One more was made in Korea, but I don't own it).
Let's start with the boxes. SEGA Saint Tail resides in a 30cm box with the distinctive black stripes and pink font that adorned all Saint Tail merchandise in 1996.
As you can see, it's a "scenic" box showing the view of the city and the cathedral playing an important part in Saint Tail's story. Besides the doll, it contains a wand and two character cards. Similar cards were sold with other character dolls in 1990s but were all different in size. These ones are 7.5 x 5cm. No stand included.
Takara Saint Tail comes in a standard Liccarize pink caleidoscope box with Saint Tail sticker. Inside there is a stand for the doll. These Takara stands haven't changed since the 80s!
A look at the back of the boxes. SEGA wins again.
The size of the boxes has already given you the idea about the height of the dolls. SEGA is 27.5cm tall, which is too tall for Saint Tail and gives her incorrect proportions, while Takara has a 22cm Licca body, almost ideal for the character.
Unboxed. Here you'll notice that they also differ in other respects.
Licca bodies are bendable, though not in the most convincing manner. In one of my video reviews I showed what their arms look like after they're bent... anyway, Takara Saint Tail can bend, while SEGA Saint Tail can't.
I think it didn't take you long to notice that the hair is VERY different. SEGA made her hair yellowish, which is only correct for some artworks, but at least it is thick. In contrast, Liccarize Saint Tail has the correct shade of orange, but not so much hair.
On the other hand, Takara Saint Tail's hair mousse allows to shape her ponytail the way it was in the anime:
Now to faces. SEGA did a fantastic job here. Look at the eye shape! The unnecessary detail is that her ears are pierced. No earrings, though.
Takara Saint Tail's face is based on the manga design...
...as well as the clothes. The bow tie in the anime is decorated with a brooch, while in the manga it's plain.
Other differences between the outfits are more related to quality than design. Takara's has an incorrect top - the neck is too wide - and it definitely took SEGA more seams and stitches to make the tail coat.
The original skirt is one-layered but shaded; both manufacturers imitated the shading by adding layers, two for SEGA and three for Takara.
Saint Tail's identity in the anime is a mystery, but a bigger mystery for me was her footwear. There's no visible transition between her tights and her boots. That's why SEGA gave her boots while Takara opted for shoes.
As for the gloves, SEGA thinks Saint Tail won't need fingers when stealing precious items, but Takara has thumbs up!
The hairbow by SEGA is too small but neat. Takara didn't even use the whipstitch.
In general, it's really sweet that older anime characters are not forgotten and still get their figures and dolls. Nostalgia is sometimes necessary , and it could also spark some interest in classics. Yet in this case I still prefer the 1996 doll.
Fun point: they look like mother and daughter!