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Monday, October 29, 2012

My first Living Dead Dolls!

After the furor of the past two weeks this week looks to be fairly calm.  I have two tests to study for, but frankly, I'm having a hard time caring.  In the meantime, I have a new review for you.  Remember when I promised at the end of the Bratzillaz review that I had a couple of new dolls to look for?  Well, I found them.  And I have yet to see a review on Blogspot of this kind of doll, so I'm presenting them to you.  Hey, I beat Miss Emily to the punch this time!  Selah!

(UPDATE:  Miss Emily caught up with me!  Check out her review of Tonner's Zombie Boy and Frozen Charlotte, one of my favorite Living Dead Dolls.  She ran into an unfortunate problem with Frozen Charlotte.)

Anyway, here is my new pair.  They are Living Dead Dolls, and their names are Beauty and Beast.
First of all, these dolls are extremely hard to photograph; this white background is the only one that works with them.  That being said, this was a case of love at first sight for me; I had embarked on one of my doll-hunting treks at a local mall, searching for Living Dead Dolls, Bleeding Edge Goths, and Little Apple dolls, all of which are high on my dolly bucket list.  Hot Topic was a strikeout, but Spencer's had these on sale.  Beauty was the one who caught my eye, and she was the one I wanted instantly.  When I learned that she had a male counterpart, I launched a search for Beast as well.  Spencer's had both.

Now, as usual, a bit of background info.  Living Dead Dolls are created by a company called Mezco Toyz.  There have been 24 waves so far, and there appears to be no end in sight, unlike the Bleeding Edge Goths, which have sadly been discontinued.  In addition to the 24 regular waves there are collectors' editions with glass eyes, rare variations of some of the common dolls, anniversary sets (mine are 13th Anniversary dolls), horror movie characters like Chucky and Freddy Krueger, mini dolls, two porcelain dolls (which I like), and sets that follow a theme like my pair does.  Most of the dolls appear to portray dead children, though there are also babies and adult-themed Fashion Victims.  Some dolls come alone, while others are packaged two to a box.  One creepy little set is even a pair of conjoined twins.  They are obviously of a Gothic theme and are completely unlike anything I've ever owned before.  Yeah, I have Meygana Broomstix and several Monster High dolls, but they are intended for kids and are nowhere near this creepy.  Living Dead Dolls (or LDDs) are definitely not your average dolly, and they're not for your average collector.  Some doll people look at these and say "Ewwww!" while others will say "far out, I've gotta have one of those!"  They even appeal to some non-doll people; my sister, who is mildly creeped out by most of my dolls, saw these and said "Now those are cool.  I wouldn't mind having one myself."  Based on that I may get her the Hansel and Gretel set for Christmas.  Or I may get that set for myself and buy her the Rotten Sam and Sandy set.  But I'm getting WAY ahead of myself here!!!

Oh yes, I said my pair was part of a theme.  Recently Mezco released a wave of LDDs entitled "Scary Tales."  These are parodies of popular nursery rhymes and fairy tales.  Mine are obviously based on Beauty and the Beast, and I made a reference to Hansel and Gretel.  Also in tow are Snow White and the Wicked Queen, and Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.  Each set has their own spin on the original tale.

Enough chatter, let's get down to business.  I'm going to start this review in a way that I normally do not, and show you the boxes that these dolls come in.  The box is a black coffin.  A COFFIN, FOLKS!!!  A dream come true for this aspiring mortician.  Here's what they look like in the box (apologies for the flash glare).
The boxes were already opened when I snapped this pic, but they originally came wrapped in shrink wrap.  I probably did some serious damage to potential value with this pair, but I don't plan on selling these so I cut the wrap off.  All it had was a sales sticker anyway.  The plastic lid on the front of these boxes has the name of the dolls prominently displayed, plus some cobwebs and sinister statements such as "I'm Dead."  My pair also has stickers saying "13th Anniversary" on the lids.  Like the dolls, the lids are difficult to photograph.  I managed to pull it off, but it's hard to see the details on them.
The box itself is sturdy cardboard with a matte finish.  My dolls have the standard black coffins; some of the other dolls come in coffins that are printed to look like wood.  Series 20, which had a Dia de las Muertos theme, came in coffins like that, as do the two porcelain dolls.  A coffin lid is attached to the back of these boxes with the Living Dead Doll logo imprinted in silver.  In order to get the lid on the box you have to remove the front plastic first.
The back of the boxes have information on the company and the makers.  It's really cute.
The boxes have a cardboard interior that is wrapped in tissue paper (Beauty's has a rip where Lady Klutz got too impatient).  Usually this tissue paper is red like here, but I've also seen images of black, white, and pink tissue.  Tragedy's first issue even had purple tissue in the box (second wave had the usual red).  There are probably other colors I'm missing.
Wrapped around the dolls' legs are strips of cardboard with the dolls' info and graphics on it.  I assume that these are the "chipboards" that the dolls come with.  These slide out on one or both ends to allow easier access to the dolls.
The chipboard poem for both dolls reads:
"Entombed in this horror by a single red rose
Two beings share a fate that neither one chose.
Each one trapped by the other, wanting to be released
But who is the real beauty, and who is the real beast?"

Ladies always go first, so here's Beauty.
Beauty is 10 inches tall with pale skin and purple hair with lavender streaks.  It was that purple hair that drew me to her in the first place.  When I was doing my research on the identity of these dolls, all I could remember was that purple hair, and I quickly learned that there were two LDDs with long purple hair.  The other is Tragedy.  My memory was flawed, so I thought Tragedy was my doll; the fact that both dolls wear black dresses didn't help the situation much.  If I'd looked closer I'd have been able to tell the difference, since Tragedy has a short dress and black hair with purple streaks (Beauty's hair is all purple).  It didn't matter; I'd have had to shell out the money for two dolls anyway, because Tragedy also has a male companion.  His name is Misery, and he reminds me a little of an undead Johnny Depp.

I'm really getting bad about going off on tangents, aren't I???  Let's look a little closer at Beauty.  Here's her hair.
Her hair is wavy and knee-length.  It's soft and smooth, and mostly tangle-free, and it falls beautifully around the doll's shoulders and face.  If this were hair school I'd give that a solid B; It isn't the best hair I've seen on a doll, but it's far from the worst!

It's thin, though.  The only places where her hair is thick are along the hairline and in her part.  Pigtails are out of the question here.  Her scalp is painted purple, which I much prefer over a pale head shining through.
I also ran into a fairly big snag, and wouldn't you know it's down front, close to Beauty's face.
It looks almost like that bundle of hairs decided to melt together!  If that were closer to the back of her head I'd just clip that and be done with it, but with it being so close to her face I don't dare.  Oh well, I guess it's better than a hair in the eye!  The rest of the hair covers that tangle fairly well, but beware.  If you brush her hair too much it'll get very frizzy.

Beauty's facial features are painted on.  She has pink eyes and black lipstick, and some decidedly evil-looking eyebrows and eyelashes!  Her face is free of shiny spots and paint flaws.  Whoever painted her made a sincere effort to do a good job, and it shows.
A 13 is printed on the back of Beauty's neck in accordance with the 13th Anniversary theme.  It is not painted as well as her face.
Shucks.  The smear of paint follows the neck of her dress, so that may have been what rubbed it off.  Makes me wonder if these dolls were dressed before their paint was fully dry.  Why on earth someone would do that is beyond me, but that appears to have happened here.

Now let's dribble off that dress!  LOL, I hope that didn't sound too suggestive!
It's a long ankle-length Victorian-style dress with matte black stripes.  The hem is edged with ruching.
The bodice has four buttons and a flap that give the illusion of an opening.  The sleeves are simple cap sleeves, and the neck is a sheer black material with black ribbon edging the neck.
The back closes with Velcro, so I'll have to be extra careful not to snag that sheer material with it.  Other than the sheer material the dress feels very substantial.  As long as I don't abuse it (and I don't plan on that) it should hold together for years to come.

Beauty wears black calf-length boots and short black knitted socks on her feet.
The socks are nondescript; they don't even peep over the top of the boots.  My assumption is that they are to assist in removal of the shoes.  If so, they serve their purpose well.  The boots are very easy to remove given the material they are made of; they are hard rubber or some sort of plastic.  Like LIV and Cutie Pops shoes, these shoes have slits in the back for further easy removal.  Shoes vary from character to character with LDDs; Beauty's are modeled to look like a Victorian high-button shoe, with molded little buttons and a high heel.
Underneath the dress Beauty has a hard plastic body.  Her build is chunky and unisex, with a short, plump torso and thick limbs.
Her fingers are short and stubby, with molded knuckles, nails, and palms.
Her feet and toes are sculpted in a similar manner.
The plastic is very hard, almost porcelain-like in both appearance and feel.  In fact, my mother thought these dolls WERE porcelain before I opened the boxes.  It is very pale, almost white in appearance, with a very slight hint of a humanoid pink tone.  And that pale body is where we've run into problems.  Look at this.  Her back and legs have stained.
Her arm and stomach are stained too.
She looks like an A-bomb survivor!  Apparently this staining is a common problem with both Living Dead Dolls and Little Apple Dolls; I've seen cases of it on Facebook, Flickr, and here on Blogspot.  I don't know if that mess will come off or not, but if it doesn't the clothes cover the stains quite well.  In fact, the stains may be coming from that black dress so I may not bother to try removing the stains.  The principle of it annoys me, though.

In addition to the stains Beauty wears black painted underpants underneath that dress, though I have no idea why; her dress covers all from the waist down.  If she were wearing a shorter dress like Tragedy and a lot of the other LDDs do, then I could see the need for these.  Maybe Mezco Toys uses the same body for a lot of these dolls?  I don't know, but I do like the painted-on undergarmets; if you have sickos in your family that like to upskirt your dolls (and I did once), then you grow to appreciate ANY sort of undergarment.  In fact, I got to where I preferred painted or molded underwear, because that meant that said sickos couldn't pull those off!

Yeah, moving along...one complaint I've heard from some Living Dead Doll collectors is a syndrome referred to as crooked hips.  Dolls with that may have crooked or uneven legs, and thus have trouble standing.  I'm not really sure what the cause of that is, whether it be a flaw in the torso mold or some screw-up with the legs, but Beauty doesn't have the syndrome.  Notice both her feet are flat on the floor.

She stands perfectly well with or without shoes, but I don't recommend trying to stand her when she's in sock feet, because she won't cooperate.

Some of these dolls come with accessories like death certificates and/or small items to hold.  These are concealed behind the box lining, so to get at these accessories you have to open the box and take the doll out.  Some dolls have all that, some have some of that, and some have none of that.  Beauty has no death certificate, but she does have a red rose to hold.  Note that the rose has a peg on the stem.
The palm of Beauty's right hand has a hole to accommodate that peg.  She can hold it pretty well, but it's still easy to remove the rose if you don't want her holding it.
That pretty much covers Beauty, so now let's take a gander at Beast.
Beast is 10 inches tall, just like Beauty.  Her shoes elevate her above him somewhat, but they're the same size.  I never dreamed I'd say this, but it looks like I may have more to say about the boy doll than the girl doll.  Look at his face!
It's a completely different mold from Beauty's (a lot of LDDs have the same head mold), and it's made of different material too.  It is shiny and has a slightly greenish-gray cast, adding to the undead effect.  The shine and the color MAY come from paint, but for some reason I'm doubting that.

Where do I start???  Hmmm...how about those eyes?  He's giving me the stink eye!
His eyes are a LOT more detailed than Beauty's.  Both are rimmed in dark, bruise-colored paint so that they look sunken.  The right eye is heavily lidded, and the iris is yellowed like he's taken a hit to that eye.  The left eye is open wide, and the iris is a stark white.  Both eyes have red sclera with minuscule white polka dots.  Anyone got any Visine?  LOL

Beast's eyebrows are thicker and shorter than Beauty's; they are also lower, as if Beast is lost in some deep thought.
"Hmmm...think, think, thunk."

He's probably got a lot to ponder, like where he got those cuts on his face!
Those are not just lines of paint, by the way.  The cuts are actual grooves in the plastic, painted with red paint.  Some very prominent staples hold these cuts together; these too are molded on and painted.  One cut even runs along the back of Beast's neck, right through the 13th Anniversary logo.
Ouch.  Maybe that's why our dear little Beast ended up undead.  Moving along, Beast's mouth is painted similarly to his eyes:  dark bruise paint directly on the mouth, and lighter paint rimming that.  He looks like he is in the process of rotting, which would make sense considering that these dolls are supposed to be undead.
Beast has sparse, stringy black hair, just a single line of it running through the center of his head, right where you'd put a mohawk.  It is cut flush with the scalp in places, giving it an even stringier appearance.
I'm glad Beast doesn't have much hair; the fibers feel suspiciously like nylon.  Whatever it is, it's stiff and wiry, and actually adds to the overall effect.  If this is nylon, it's finally found its place in the doll world.

Beast's clothes do not come off as easily as Beauty's, and the entire time I was wrestling them off I was afraid I'd tear something.  Beast is best left dressed.  I did get the outfit off though, and here's what it looks like.
At first glance it looks like Beast is wearing a three-piece suit, but he's not.  The shirt is sewn to the pants.  This "jumpsuit" of sorts closes with Velcro.
The shirt is white and feels like polyester or acrylic, I'm not sure what it is.  It has a white cravat at the neck...which doesn't like to lie flat!
The pants are black and feel like felt of some type.  It's surprisingly soft, not rough like that craft felt crap that I had to use in grade school art class.
Beast's coat is thigh-length and made of black felty stuff like the pants.
It has three buttons and closes down the front with Velcro.  Oddly, there is only one half of the Velcro present; the hook part latches directly onto the felt.
The sleeves have white ruffles that match the cravat on the shirt.
The collar is long and drapes over Beast's shoulders like a cape.  There is some red material running along the inside of the collar; I am unsure whether this is supposed to look like part of the shirt, or if it's just there to break up the monotony.
Interestingly, Beast's coat has padding in the upper back area.  I'm not talking eighties-style shoulder pads, thank God, but this!  It's that pillow-shaped thing in the center.
Apparently Beast is supposed to be a hunchback.  As if he didn't have enough woes already!  I didn't notice this when his coat was on, so this is an unusual surprise.

Beast's footwear isn't as interesting as Beauty's.  In fact, it's almost feminine in appearance, and for good reason.  These are the same shoes that a lot of the female LDDs wear!
The shoes are black T-strap style shoes  The socks are the same as Beauty's, cut low, in a stretchy black knit.  Again, I assume that they are there to aid in removal of the shoes.

My hypothesis that all Living Dead Dolls have painted undergarments got blown out of the water when I disrobed Beast.  As you can see, he has nothing underneath there.  His little butt cheeks are shining!

Other than a bare butt, Beast has the same body as Beauty:  hard, pale plastic.  He has the same fat little fingers and stubby little toes, and the same rounded torso.  He is a different color from Beauty, though; his body is sort of a snot color.  Beast's hips are straight too, by the way.  He stands just as solidly as Beauty does.  I at first feared that his hips were not straight, but I discovered that I had to play with his joints a bit before they'd straighten out.
Beast's body also has black stains in places, but he is nowhere near as heavily stained as Beauty.  I wonder if the different fabrics in their clothes caused this, or if it has something to do with a different type of vinyl?  I doubt the second theory for the most part, since the only difference in the vinyl appears to be the color.

Both dolls have similar range of motion.  Their necks are part of the head rather than part of the body.  They can swivel their heads and tilt them in most directions.
They can look down, but not up.
This has great potential, especially for Beauty.  With her upturned eyes she can look very sinister, given both the lighting and the angle of her head.

The shoulders are ball-jointed as well.  I am unsure of how the limbs attach to the torso, but they're definitely not strung!  The arms can move forward and back...
Put your right arm in, put your right arm out...

...and out away from the body.
Put your right arm in and shake it all about.  Or wave it, in this case.

The hips are not as good as the shoulders.  They can only move back and forth.  Due to the construction of these dolls' hips, they can only sit like this.
"Can we put our clothes back on now?"

The joints are really tight, by the way.  I had to play with mine for a bit to get the joints loosened up, especially in the hips.  No worries really, since I don't think these dolls were intended to sit.

To sum it all up, I would recommend these dolls to any collector over the age of fifteen, the age specified on the box.  I myself like these enough to want a couple more (the aforementioned Misery and Tragedy are high on my list).  Yes, some of these dolls have their flaws; the pale bodies are bad about staining, and sometimes the legs are uneven or poorly cast.  However, this pair is crawling with little details and flourishes that make them unique.  Beast has a beautifully sculpted face, for example.  He is very unique; no other LDD is quite like him.  The clothes are nice, though I'd take care when handling them (don't make a habit of undressing the doll).  The hair is average-good, not soft and silky like Candi's hair, but not course and tangled like Meygana Broomstix's hair.  And this pair is dripping with mystery and intrigue, something that not a lot of dolls have; I keep thinking back to that poem.  Who is the real beauty, and who is the real beast?
Is it me?  Is it you?

Having said that, do keep in mind that these dolls are not your average child's toys like the last few dolls that I reviewed are.  In fact, they're not really toys at all, at least not for small children.  If I could rate these like critics rate movies, I'd give Beauty and Beast a PG-13 rating.  Their clothes are more decorative than utilitarian, their bodies get dirty easily, and some versions can be downright scary (check out Dee K. and Bloody Mary).  If you have small kids, keep these dolls away from them until they're older, lest your children either ruin the dolls or have nightmares (or both).  If your kids are older or don't scare easily, or if you have a place to keep these dolls yourself, then I highly recommend these.  If your collection is dominantly a "sugar and spice and all things nice" type of collection, then these will add a totally new type of spice to the mix.  And if Gothic dolls are your preference, then these will fit right in!
I'm not sure when I'll get the body review for Meygana and her cronies done, since it will require a lot of pictures.  True to my word, I extended the review to be more than just three dolls.  Indeed, that number has doubled to six, Meygana and five other dolls that I had lying around my room.  I'll take some pictures and put that review together for you when I find the time.  Until then, I wish all of y'all a happy, safe Halloween, and a happy Dia de las Muertos (my favorite holiday).  If any of y'all are out on the east coast, please stay safe!  Hurricane Sandy is a'comin'!

Good night and God bless,