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Friday, September 21, 2012

Mystixx Vampires...what a scoop!

Well, it's a scoop for me, anyway!  When it comes to dolls, I enjoy the obscure and the unusual, and I also enjoy rip-offs, believe it or not.  It's fun to compare the rip-off doll to the original product; most of the time the quality is the same or worse, but sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised to find a knockoff doll that's better than the product it's supposed to imitate.

What I've got for you today is a set of dolls called Mystixx Vampires.  I wasn't even aware of the existence of these dolls until I saw a picture on Facebook, and then I saw a blog entry by D7ana that discusses these (her blog and the entry regarding these dolls can be found here).  The blog entry was about two weeks ago, and there is a Flickr group devoted to these dolls, so this probably is old news.  But I'm touching on it anyway.  I can't give you a proper review since I have yet to see these unusual creatures in stores, but I can still share pics and the basic concept behind them.

Based on what I've read, there are to be at least four Mystixx Vampires, though only two are in stores right now.  This one is Kalani.  Her vinyl is a very light green:
And this one is Azra.  Her vinyl is gray:
The two other characters are named Talin and Siva.  Apparently they are not in production yet.

Obviously these dolls are meant to be a knockoff of the Monster High dolls, and one could say that they are influenced by the LIV dolls as well, since they are wigged.  They are enough alike the Monster High dolls that the Monster High dolls can wear the Mystixx clothes.  However, the Mystixx dolls are taller and chunkier than Monster High dolls, so I doubt that Mystixx can wear MH clothes.  Mystixx arms and legs are not jointed either.

In spite of the differences, these dolls are enough like Monster High dolls that Mattel may cry foul and send out a lawsuit; they have a bad habit of doing so.  But the box art of these dolls reveals an attribute that Mystixx Vampires have over Monster High dolls:
In case it's hard to tell from that box art, these dolls are two-faced.  One face is supposed to represent the vampire side of the doll's personality, and the other is supposed to represent the human side.  Each doll has two wigs and two outfits to coordinate with each personality; the human outfit resembles a school uniform, while the vampire outfit has more of a gothic flavor to it.  An image of Azra's two alter-egos can be seen here.

These dolls are original enough that I wouldn't mind finding one or two; they're enough like the Monster High dolls that they would fit into a group of them, but different enough that they'd stand out.  And as usual, I'm curious to see how these dolls will do in this increasingly competitive dolly world.  This should be interesting to watch.

In other news, my twenty-fifth birthday is in two weeks and one day.  Knowing my grandmother, she will probably have found another doll of some sort as a present.  Unless I have some sort of earth-shattering news to relate, you probably won't be hearing from me until then.  Have a good one.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New clothes for Blossom Flowerpot??? Maybe!

Frankly, I don't know why I bother to go to the toy section of the local Wal-Marts anymore.  The one in my hometown doesn't usually have much, and the one in the town north of here always has stuff I can't afford.  Thus I come away with a serious case of the gimmie-gimmies and drive my mom nuts on the trip home with idle dolly chatter.  This afternoon was no different; we went to the north town to eat and get some odds and ends.  Or rather, I went in; my mom's arthritis is acting up.  But I went in and saw the usual stuff that I salivate over (except for the Bratzillaz, which were sold out).  I also managed to knock over a row of Novi Stars and spent ten minutes playing fifty-two pickup.  On my way out, I saw something else that I hadn't noticed before.  New clothes for Lalaloopsy dolls!!!

Time for a slightly off-topic story.  This is my Lalaloopsy, Blossom Flowerpot.  She and the other Lalaloopsy dolls are advertised as being "for ages 4 to 104," but are dominantly marketed towards young girls.  In spite of that, a fair amount of non-children folks have taken to these dolls, including me.

My problem is this:  my favorite thing is to buy one doll from a series and then buy a ton of new clothes for her (or less often, him).  MGA has tons of clothes for Lalaloopsies, including party dresses, pajamas, costumes, and even swimwear.  Really cute clothes.  So how come my Blossom isn't wearing one of the extra outfits?  Well...I can't afford 'em, first of all.  Okay, I take that back; I can afford 'em.  But I'm saving my money for another very special doll.  The other thing is that there weren't a lot of options.  Of all the outfits MGA has to offer, I've only seen the swimsuit, one set of pajamas, and this cute little gingham party dress.  I still want that party dress, by the way.  But therein lies problem number three, my most hated problem ever in the doll world:  the clothes, ALL of 'em, are getting hard to locate.  Earlier this fall I went into Wal-Mart and saw no clothes, and only two dolls.  I thought "oh crap, the Lalaloopsy dolls have been discontinued," even though I'd heard no news saying that.

Apparently I was wrong!  The new clothes that I saw today weren't a new shipment of the same old thing (even though that would've suited me fine), but honest-to-God NEW OUTFITS!!!  There were only two of them, another party dress and another swimsuit, but they follow the usual Lalaloopsy trend of being super-cute and super-colorful.

Here's the party dress:
It's yellow, pink, and red, with white polka dots and white stripes on the trim.  Hmmm...interesting color combo.  I never have been a huge fan of red with pink, but this isn't so bad.  Anyway, the dress is shiny all over, and judging from this picture there may be a red petticoat underneath.  The thing I love the most about this dress is that it's polka dotted.  Just like Blossom Flowerpot's original dress.  The thing I like the least about this outfit is that there's no orange in it; Blossom has painted stockings that are orange and white, and they peep out from under her dress.  Maybe this one will cover that.  No biggie, I'd still put her in this dress even if it doesn't cover up Blossom's leggings.

And here's the swimsuit:
It's a pink and white outfit with horizontal stripes, and a polka dotted inner tube.  The material on the inner tube looks a lot like the material used on Coral Seashells' swimsuit, so I love the connection to another character there.  I also like the polka dots, of course!  In addition, check out those shoes!  Jelly sandals!!!  Firstly, jelly sandals were my favorite shoes when I was a kid (and unfortunately for me, also the most verboten).  Also...THEY'RE ORANGE!!!  They match Blossom's stockings easily.  They look yellow in the image, but trust me...in real life, they're orange.

Also the new swimsuit appears to be a huge improvement of the old one.  Here's what the old swimsuit looks like:
Now you may be scratching your head and asking, "What's wrong with that?"  Or, you may be a parent who bought this one and had to put up with those ribbons constantly coming unlaced and untied.  Apparently the ribbons are that skinny satin stuff that a lot of doll companies use, and they are very, VERY tricky for children to manipulate.  According to the reviews on Amazon, even some of the parents were too fumble-fingered to tie those laces!  In addition, the water wings were apparently very difficult to fit over a Lalaloopsy doll's hands; a few reviews on Amazon addressed that issue as well.  Now...I think the outfit is fine.  But I am not a parent, and I've always been good at tying ribbons into bows, so I WOULD like it!  

But then again, I may end up wanting BOTH of the swimsuits, because look what else I saw:
Charlotte Charades is in the building!!!

When I received Blossom Flowerpot (she was a gift), I promised myself that she'd be my only big Lalaloopsy doll.  If I got any more, they would be the little ones and serve as props for Daniela and my Monster High dolls to hold.  Looks like I may be about to eat my words!!!

And now my dog is whining, so I've got to let her out.

Hugs, kisses, and chocolate chip cookies,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Featherageous Jade review, plus a few other things

Remember the last post where I said I had a second doll to present to you?  Well, I only have one entry for the month of September and things have calmed down quite a bit (the past two weeks have been nuts!), so I may as well show her to y'all now, before she gets too dusty.

My doll is Featherageous Jade, a member of the Bratz Featherageous line (the one at right is not my doll, but a promo pic).  The Featherageous series is/was a set of play line Bratz dolls; instead of the focus being on a fashion theme (as is common for Bratz dolls), the emphasis is on hair play.  The idea is to cash in on the ongoing fad of braiding or clipping feathers into one's hair (you may have seen the human-sized extensions in stores, or on the heads of fashionable tweens, teens, and young girls).  The line consists of your four usual characters, Cloe, Sasha, Yasmin, and Jade, but my local Wal-Mart only carried Cloe and Jade.  I got my Jade on sale for thirteen bucks (she had been what I perceived as overpriced at twenty-two).  The drop in price on these dolls leads me to think that they are already old-hat, being phased out for the next lines of Bratz dolls; when I bought Jade the rack where she had once been were already stocked with this year's Christmas-themed Bratz and the Bratzillaz, plus a couple of new lines that I haven't learned the names of yet.  Check out the Christmas dolls...they remind me of how the Bratz USED to be!  Jade is my favorite from this series too; I'm a sucker for green.

Alrighty, back to the review.  I'm not a huge fan of opening boxes; I want to just rip the S.O.B. open and extract the doll PDQ.  So you won't see my Jade in her box; she has been opened and somewhat played-with.  But she's still good enough to review.  And I still have the box.  Here's what the back of the box looks like:
Anyone notice anything???  If you need a clue, scroll back up to the top and look at the doll's promo pic.  Now compare that to the box art.  In the artwork, Jade is wearing BLUE JEANS!!!  However, in the promo pic the doll is wearing what appears to be a one-piece dress.  And that is how the final product came out.  No denim in sight!!!  One can only wonder why MGA did that.  Perhaps the original plan was to produce these dolls in blue jeans?  I'll never know, but it certainly would've been more handy for me if Jade had been wearing jeans.  I'll reveal why a little later on...

Anyway, here is my Jade:
She has your typical Bratz features, with heavy blue eye shadow that matches her hair streaks and frosty pink lips.  I'm not a huge fan of the lip color; it looks good on camera, but it's a bit too bright for Jade's fair skin.  I much prefer the pale, icy pink that MGA used on my Bratz Catz Jade, or the bright red used on the Christmas Jade doll.

Like all of the Featherageous dolls, Jade's main feature and main selling point is her hair.  It's rooted, long, and black with blue streaks.  It's also made of the hideous nylon fibers that MGA seems so obsessed with.  It's course and wiry, not soft like Barbie's hair, or like the hair that MGA used on the earlier Bratz dolls.  It's also thinly rooted on all parts of the scalp except the hairline and the part.  So based on that I'm already not in love with the hair, and I really wasn't surprised that it would be of such poor quality.  With the exception of my Lalaloopsy doll, all of the MGA dolls that I've bought in the past year have had this stiff nylon crap.  However, most of the ones I own have mercifully short hair like Shania's:
Or hair that's been pre-styled and thus is not a huge problem, like Maci's:
OR they can wear a wig, like my Moxie Teenz Tristen does.
Jade has rooted, long hair!!!  Perfect for kinks, tangles, and knots.  I can only imagine what this will look like after some time in the hands of a child!

Okay, enough about the hair.  Let's move on to the body.  Jade has the body common to most modern-day Bratz, with ball-and-socket shoulders:
She's got painted-on drawers (which I always appreciate), click-joint knees, and hips that have front-back movement:
The legs don't move sideways much, but enough for that stand to go in.  Jade also has your classic neck joint, but the mobility of said joint is horrid.  She can pivot her head, but not much else.

Now for Jade's outfit.  As I noted, she's not wearing what her box art self has on.  She has on a one-piece blue and black striped dress made out of stretchy knit fabric.
The top of the dress has a pleather corset-looking piece with two shoulder straps, and the corset has painted-on circles that I guess are supposed to be buttons or rivets or some-such like that.
Those pleather straps feel extremely flimsy, by the way.  I had to be extra careful with those when dressing or undressing this doll.  Most of the seams on Jade's dress were well-finished and well-hemmed; the Velcro is on there securely, not just half-sewn on the dress like some doll clothes I've seen.  The bottom hem is another story:
There is a thread holding the bottom together, but it's not folded over and hemmed properly.  There are already a lot of loose ends hanging out.  I wonder how well this will hold up after being repeatedly put on and taken off the doll.  I don't plan on finding out; this doll is not going to be undressed too often.

Jade also has silver two-piece earrings which come out:
...and black high-heeled ankle boots.  You can see those in another pic, but here they are anyway:
That is already a lot of stuff, but there's more stuff in that box.  I've got the doll, obviously, but she came with quite a few accessories.  The Featherageous dolls come with a three-piece stand:
A large hairbrush:
Two silver hair barrettes for the doll (my doll is wearing those), and two blue barrettes "for YOU," as the box puts it:
Since this doll is supposed to be a toy I'm assuming the barrettes are meant to be worn by a child.  I'm almost 25, certainly not a child, so I'm probably not going to be using those.

In addition, there are two hair extensions included; mine are currently braided into Jade's hair, so I can't show you a picture of them by themselves.  Basically they are two foot-long pieces of pink hair (more of that nylon garbage) bunched together at the top with a plastic bit, and topped off with a plastic thread that allows one to hook the extension onto the child-sized barrettes.  I did try this; the connection was loose and the hair fell off easily, so I abandoned that idea and wove the extensions into Jade's hair instead (remember I did say I don't plan on using those barrettes).  Oddly enough, the theme here is "Featherageous," and the trend among us humans involves feathers as well, but no feather extensions come with the doll.  None at all.  Just crappy pieces of nylon.  But now that I think of it, feathers can be fragile, especially when they get old and dried up.  And they don't hold up well in the hands of a child.  Believe me, I know from personal experience!  LOL
This is what the extensions look like when braided in.  They are the pink strands.  The extensions are supposed to be striped, by the way.  They had black bands down the entire length of the piece, much like the hair of Monster High dolls Torelei Stripe and her two friends Meowlody and Purrsephone.  In case you are unaware of this, the stripes are painted onto the hair of all three of these Monster High dolls, and if the hair is brushed or washed the stripes will come off, like they did here.  As you can tell, the stripes on Jade's extensions have rubbed off as well.  I am aware that a Sharpie can fix this problem, but I'm not a huge fan of marking on my dolls (or parts of them) with permanent markers.

Lastly, the doll comes with instructions for how to style her hair, a packet of clear rubber bands, and this tool that is supposed to aid in the styling.  It's very thick and very, VERY stiff:
The instructions have three relatively simple styles; small buns (referred to as a rosette in the instructions), braids, and twists.  I have never been able to style my own hair in buns and thus was eager to try it out on Jade.  This is how it came out:
The pink extensions are woven in to the style, but don't show in the pic.  All I had to do was hook the plastic loop over one bun, and then treat the extension like the rest of the hair. My main problem was that huge tool that MGA included as a styling aid.  It was a great help, no doubt about that, but the loop definitely could've been a little smaller!  It was a real chore to pull that big stiff loop through such a small section of hair.  Also, the plastic bit at the top of the extension is very stiff and large, and thus difficult to incorporate into a hairstyle.  In this case I was able to conceal the plastic pieces under the buns, but if you buy this doll keep that little tip in mind.

After about three weeks of her looking like a punk version of Lady Liberty, I decided to give Jade a new 'do.  I took down those buns and this is the result I got:
Gotta love nylon hair...NOT!!!  It took some serious brushing to get this hair in some semblance of straight.  And that's where I'll give MGA credit...there wasn't much breakage or shedding.  I did have to wrestle with it quite a bit to get it untangled, though.  Not cool.

After battling to get the hair detangled, I settled on another style that I've never been able to do with my own hair:  two small braids pulled back to make a ponytail.  Again I wove the pink extensions in; this time the result wasn't so great.  It's very hard to conceal the plastic tip inside a braid, unless the braid is very thick, like the instructions suggest.  So keep that in mind too.  Other than that the style came out okay.  Here's what she looks like from the back (note the faint but still-visible stripes on the pink strands):
And here she is from the front:
There's still some wave left in the hair from those buns, and no doubt there will be more after I let those braids down.  I'm hoping that in the long run the hair will fall back into place; sometimes it does that.

Now...let's talk a little more about that stand.  First of all, I think it's great that this doll comes with a stand; she's the first Bratz doll I've ever owned that has that feature, which is regrettable, because Bratz Catz Jade would've benefited from a stand.  Said stand fits Jade in three places, in the crotch, and around both knees:
That's where the problem lies.  That blue dress that she wears is stretchy, but it is also very tight-fitting.  It's extremely difficult to get the stand on without it catching on the outfit like this:
This problem is easily remedied by simply pulling the dress down, but the fabric is both thin and knitted.  One wouldn't have to pull too hard to bust a thread, and voila!!!  Instant hole!  This is why I think the blue jeans would've been a better idea.  Check out Willow, one of my Barbie Basics dolls:
Roger Daltrey hair!!!

Willow has a stand not unlike Jade's and she fits on there with relative ease.  No dress to bunch up and pull down, no having to pull a tight dress down around a bulky stand either.  Yes, the jeans would definitely have been a plus for Jade.  Plus, they would have fit the Bratz' overall reputation for being casual and hip.  Jeans are definitely hip.  Jade's dress is more...well, more dressy!

Overall, I feel very...well, very "meh" about my purchase.  If I were giving out grades I'd give Jade a C, maybe a C+ for that stand.  Her hair is easy to style, but is of lousy quality.  Keep in mind that I'm an adult and thus can find a way to worm the styling tool through the doll's hair, so I WOULD find it easy to style.  But a kid would likely have trouble with this.  Mom or Dad will probably have to step in and help there, and they could very easily run into trouble as well.  As a display doll, Jade's fine.  But as a toy, she's not so great.  The clothes are cute.  The hair is cute.  The stand is an excellent addition, and the child-sized barrettes are cute.  The whole idea is cute!  But unless you're an adult collector or a very dexterous child, I can't see this being a beloved plaything.  Maybe if her hair were made up of something--anything--besides nylon, my verdict would be different.  Plus, there isn't really anything different about this doll; the hair play idea is cute, but it's been done and done and redone for countless lines of dolls.  If your kid wants a Bratz doll, I'd skip this one and go with one of the new Christmas dolls, or with these, the Bratz Midnight Mystique series.  The Mystique dolls come with wings and switch-around outfits, perfect for playtime.  Of course, I'm no expert, and I recommend reading the reviews on Amazon.com before purchasing ANY of these dolls.  Some of the reviews are stupid, but some are quite helpful.

In other news, the stores in my general area, the Wal-Marts and the Super Wal-Marts, the Targets and the sole K-Mart, are getting the fall's latest dolls in stock.  At last!  When I last went to a Super Wal-Mart (two days ago) they had Cutie Pops and La Dee Da dolls in stock, including Candi and Tylie, the two that I want. The Novi Stars are also there, and they got good marks from the Toy Box Philosopher (Miss Emily's superb review of Alie Lectric can be found here).  However, Miss Emily pointed out that the Novi Stars are overpriced; she paid twenty bucks for the doll, the same price that the average LIV doll cost.  Keep in mind that when one bought a LIV doll (especially one of the earlier ones), one paid for a doll that had fourteen joints, glass eyes, switchable wigs, and mix-and-match clothes.  That's a lot for a doll that only retailed for twenty bucks.  The Novi Stars, while cute, have very few of those attributes; all of them have stunningly beautiful eyes, but only one of them (Ari Roma) is wigged.  Their posability is limited (Alie Lectric and Una Verse can't even bend their legs), and they only have a few clothes.  Plus, the Novi Stars are small...maybe about seven inches tall or so.  Cute? Yes.  An interesting concept worth expanding?  Yes, if Mattel doesn't get their panties in a bind again (see my blog entry "Dolly Wars" for my reasoning on that).  Worth twenty bucks?  No.  Miss Emily says that the price should be reduced to maybe ten bucks, and I agree with her.  I just can't justify spending twenty dollars on a seven inch doll that only bends at the arms and neck (the one I want is Una Verse, who has fused legs, as I pointed out above).  I plan on waiting until these dolls are either marked down or discontinued before I buy one of them.  It always seems that the newest dolls, the ones that the makers plan on making a financial killing with, seem to be the most expensive.  I've noticed this with the Monster High dolls; the ones that are the newest tend to be in the highest demand, and thus the retailers jack up the prices.  Perhaps they are expecting Novi Stars to be a huge success.  We'll see, I guess.  I sincerely doubt they'll be MGA's new Bratz dolls, but we'll see.

As a final word, if any of y'all reading this are Jewish, I wish you a happy, somewhat belated, Rosh Hashanah.

Love to all,