(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 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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Where do I start??? Hmmm...how about those eyes? He's giving me the stink eye!
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!
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'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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
"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!
Good night and God bless,