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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Novi Stars Sila Clops review

In honor of Halloween, I'm presenting something to you that is truly out of this world.  MGA Entertainment has had it's fair share of ups and downs with their dolls.  They've made a killing with Bratz and Lalaloopsy dolls, but several other lines have been...well, they were less successful, like Moxie Teenz and B.F.C. Ink dolls.  Right now it looks like their alien-themed Novi Stars are hanging in the balance as well.   According to this post by Kristi at Lemon Dolls, the dolls have not developed a strong online following, and in this day and age that's a big deal.  BratzBoulevard.com debunked rumors that the Novi Stars have been cancelled outright, but they did say that no new dolls are planned for spring of 2014.  On a positive note, the new dolls (Invasion, Super Novas, and Curl 'n Coil) are still on for this fall, and if sales pick up there could be more on the horizon.  In other words, you save this doll line by buying a Novi Star.  So I did.  The Super Novas haven't reached my neck of the woods yet, so I purchased Sila Clops and the two outfits that I didn't get last time.
She's hard to photograph.

What prompted me to get Sila now, you ask?  Two reasons.  One, the word on Facebook that not only were the Novi Stars being discontinued, but the stores weren't even getting new stock in.  I'm pretty sure now that this was either a hoax or an isolated problem for the person who made that comment, but at the time I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.  But I still wouldn't have bought Sila (or any of the Novi Stars) had it not been for Reason Two.  The Stars were on sale at Super Wal-Mart, and when I saw the $13 price tag on one of the few Sila dolls left I snapped her up.  Before the sale these dolls were twenty dollars, which I think is too much for such a small doll (Sila and most of her cronies are seven inches tall), particularly the ones that have frozen legs.

Luckily, Sila doesn't have frozen legs!  If she did that probably would've been a deal-breaker.  So what does she have???  Well...she's got a wig, for one.
The wig was tacked into the package in a manner similar to the Moxie Teenz wig that I bought last fall, and thus the hair was all mushed up.  The gap combed right out, but I absolutely HATE it when toy companies do that to wigs for their dolls.  Spin Masters never tacked LIV wigs this tightly!  In addition to that, the hair feels a lot like NYLON!!!  Sila's hair is fairly long, but it is also mercifully straight (unlike Meygana's nightmare hair), so this time I can overlook this little issue.  Furthermore, there's a lovely combination of colors.
The base color is...oh, I'd call that color magenta.  On top of the magenta base are pearly white highlights.  There's also these cute antennae.
These are made of silver plastic and fit into holes in the wig cap.
The holes are hard to find when the hair covers them, so I won't be taking Sila's antennae out much.  The antennae fight nicely into these holes, though; they won't fall out if Sila is knocked over.  The holes DO allow one to swivel the antennae and play with their arrangement a bit.  This adds an element of expressiveness.
The wig cap is clear, flexible plastic with thick rooting.
It's very similar to Moxie Teenz wigs and LIV wigs.  The Bratz Switch-A-Witch wig is completely smooth inside and is thus a bit different from the others.
It's a bit early in the review for this, but let's trot out some of my other wigged dolls and see who can wear what.  This will also give you an idea of how small Sila is.
Sila:  "HALP, I can't see!"

Sila can't wear LIV doll Daniela's wigs because of the peg.  Yeah, I know the peg can be cut out, but I don't really want to do that to any of my LIV wigs.  Daniela can at least try Sila's wig.
"Hmmm...I feel a little spaced out."

This wig looks cute on Daniela, but it's WAY too big.  I'd have to tape this to Daniela's head if I wanted her to wear it for any length of time.  Plus it doesn't cover her painted scalp too well; if you enlarge the picture you can see the dark painted hair peeking out from under the bangs.  Novi Star wigs are not an option for LIV dolls.  Moxie Teenz Tristen might have a better shot at sharing wigs with Sila since both dolls are products of MGA Entertainment.  Key word:  MIGHT.  Tristen's stock wig is WAY too long for Sila, and it gives off sort of a Rapunzel-meets-Amy-Winehouse vibe:
But the pink bobbed wig might look cute.
Or not.  I'll let y'all make the call on that one.  The cap is too short anyway.  If it came down a little further on Sila's head it would stay on better, but it's not, so the fit is lousy.  Now Tristen gets to try on Sila's wig.
Sila's wig fits Tristen about as well as her own wigs do.  In other words, they're just a smidge too big...but not too big that they can't be made to fit.  A few strategically-placed strips of moleskin would probably work.  I like how this looks on Tristen, too.  The wig is long enough to look nice and full, but it's not ridiculously long like Tristen's stock wig is.  This could in theory be made to work, so I'm calling this fitting a success.

Like Tristen, Bratzillaz are also made by MGA Entertainment so I thought my Switch-A-Witches might also have a stab at wearing Sila's wig.  I have all three of the first wave Switch-A-Witches, but to keep this review from being any longer I chose the yellow and white one, whom I named Bombus.  Unfortunately, Bombus's updo wig is WAY too small for Sila.  It doesn't even come close to fitting.
Too bad too, because that looks adorable with Sila's outfit.  Now let's put Sila's wig on Bombus.
The wig looks good with Bombus's top, but it's too big for her to wear without something holding it in place.  In short this experiment wasn't particularly successful; Sila can't wear any of her new friends' wigs, and her own wig will only be an option for Tristen...and even that's only after modification.  So let's discuss the style.  The back of Sila's hair is cut at a bit of an angle.  It's longer on one side than it is on the other.
I don't know if all Sila Clops wigs are like that or if mine is just a one-off, but I'm not going to complain too much since asymmetry is a common (and sometimes desired) feature of hairstyles.  The rest of the hair is long and straight...especially her bangs!
If her wig is not positioned correctly (like in the group picture above) her bangs fall into her face.  Sila's hard-plastic head has two protuberances on her forehead which are intended to prevent this.
I initially thought those were to help hold the wig on, thus I had the wig positioned incorrectly in the earlier pictures.  But even with those knobs the wig slides around a lot.  Sila has her fair share of Cousin It moments, and I spend a lot of time taking the wig off and setting it straight.  Luckily, Sila has a cute little head.
She doesn't have any painted hair or anything like that, but she does have adorable pointed ears and some silver earrings:
These are hard to photograph clearly.

The earrings don't come out, and for good reason.  One of these serves a purpose.  But first let's move forward to Sila's face.  She only has one eye, hence the name Sila Clops (a play on the mythological monster Cyclops).
Sila's eye is inset acrylic, similar to those of Bratzillaz, LIV, Moxie Teenz, and a few knockoff dolls.  I have a fondness for inset eyes on playline dolls, and Sila does not disappoint.  The iris is filled with purple glitter, and the pupil has...well, it has...I'm not sure what that shape is supposed to be!  Could that be a supernova, perhaps?  Or the Sun?  Or some sort of unusually-shaped galaxy?  I'm not sure!  Your guess is as good as mine on that one.  Either way, it's cute.

The top lid of the eye is accentuated by long purple eyelashes with glittery lavender mascara:
These eyelashes are stiff and prominent.  They are not quite as dramatic as those of some of the other Novi Stars, but they are still eye-catching.  Notice that some of the mascara has rubbed off in the center, which I predict will be a problem for these dolls down the road.

The upper lid has lavender, blue, and white eyeshadow.  The lower lid is not molded, but it does have some pale eyeliner painted on.
Topping off the eye is this cute eyebrow.  It's made up of three painted circles, which I think this gives Sila a bit of a cyberpunk vibe.
With the equipment I've currently got it's difficult to keep the eyebrow in focus without washing it out.  The circles appear to be white here, but they're really the same colors as Sila's eyeshadow:  lavender and blue.

Oh yes, I almost forgot.  All Novi Stars have some sort of selling point, right?  Each one of them either "does something" or has an attribute that sets her apart.  Alie Lectric lights up, for example, and Mae Tallick talks.  Sila has a light-up eye.
This is activated by pressing Sila's right earring.  One has to hold down the earring in order to keep the eye lit, thus why the earrings cannot be removed.  It's gimmicky, but it's still pretty cute.  Mama even got a kick out of it.

Let's go briefly below the eye to Sila's mouth (she has no lower eyelashes).
Sila has a small, painted mouth.  Her lips are white and are painted in a slight pucker.  There are no molded lips underneath the lip paint, and no nose either.  If it weren't for the eye Sila's profile would be completely flat.
The back of Sila's head has a compartment which I assume is for batteries.  It's held on by a screw.  Covering all that is a dark purple glittery coating.
As the light changes, so does this shade of purple.  Under the light of the camera this coating takes on an eggplant shade, but in regular incandescent light it has a dark magenta shade.  It's really pretty, and it's not just on Sila's head.  The whole body is also covered in this.
I originally thought that this glitter was molded into the surface of the plastic, but it's not.  When I flexed one of Sila's shoulders, some of the glitter shelled off.  This gives me some concerns about how well the coating will hold up over time.  Sila's shoes don't come off easily, so I wonder how long it will be before her heels start peeling.

Speaking of shoes, let's move on to clothing.  Sila's outfit is stylish and eye-catching, but it is also fairly conservative and deceptively simple.  She is wearing a silver bubble dress, a black vest, a bracelet, and magenta shoes that match her hair.
The dress is made of silver pleather.
The skirt is puffy and smooth to the touch, like those balloon vests that were so popular once upon a time.  It won't be falling flat unless it's smashed and held that way for a long period of time.  It's lined inside with sheer material.  The bottom of the skirt fits Sila very tightly.  It restricts her hip movement quite a bit, but that turned out not to be a big deal, as we'll see when I get to the body review.

The vest adds some attitude to the cute-but-somewhat-plain dress.  It's made of black pleather and has silver edging.
The bracelet is silver-toned plastic with spikes.  It matches her earrings...and it's very hard to get on and off!

The shoes are open-toed high heels with cuffs at the ankles.
The backs have slits, which I'm thankful for.
The shoes fit her feet closely, so those slits help with removal somewhat.  In spite of those slits wresting those shoes off is not an easy task.  Sila herself is no help; her body is hard plastic just like her head, so there is no give.  To compound things the head is mounted on a ball joint and pops off relatively easily, so I can't use that for leverage.
Have you lost your mind, Sila?

Some Novi Stars characters have drawn fire from critics in the past for being too similar to Monster High characters (see Una Verse and Abbey Bominable for an example).  Sila is not one of those; the only thing she has in common with Monster High dolls is the ability to pop apart at some joints.
The arms are attached by a hybrid ball-joint and peg.  The ball allows lateral movement, while the peg allows rotational movement.  This peg also allows the arms to be pulled out and popped back in, which makes dressing and undressing Sila much easier.  However, those pegs are small and slightly bendy.  Miss Emily voices a concern about the both the durabilty and the fit of these pegs in her Alie Lectric review, and this is another of her opinions that I agree on.  I do like the removable feature though, because it makes dressing and undressing Sila a hundred times easier (her hands are wider than some of her sleeves).  The arms can't pose very well due to their relative shortness and their lack of elbow joints.  Sila has one or two poses that she can strike, but that's about it.

Sila's torso is all one piece.  No joints at the waist or anything like that.
She has a protuberance on her chest where breasts normally would be, but there is no definition to the bump.  She also has no bellybutton, and her waist is...well, it's trim, but it's not painfully tiny like that of most other dolls.  Parents definitely won't be complaining about this little gal being oversexed!

The back is no more detailed than the front.  Sila does have a little bit of definition on her rear, but not enough that it shows in photographs.
Sila's legs present an interesting contrast.  Remember how slender her arms were?  Her legs, while shapely, are quite substantial.
She has ball joints at the hips that are strung with elastic cord.  Herein lies a problem.  The earliest Monster High dolls had elastic-strung hips, and the elastic Mattel used was very, VERY flimsy.  Amazon was littered with negative reviews from parents upset that their daughters' dolls had come apart, sometimes within fifteen minutes of deboxing the doll.  Mattel remedied this by utilizing stronger elastic, and then by doing away with the elastic altogether, as you saw in the Skelita Calaveras review (remember that her hips are peg/ball hybrids).  MGA is usually keen to avoid the mistakes that Mattel makes, such as providing two bodies for their Bratzillaz Switch-A-Witch packs, so I wonder why they'd use elastic on Novi Stars after so many people raised a stink with Mattel over the same problem?

Luckily, this saga has a happy ending.  The elastic used on Sila's legs is not the same as the stuff used on early Monster High dolls, but rather the tougher stuff that one sometimes sees on clothes for humans.  It won't last forever, but it's already stood up to some fairly rough treatment; during my struggle to get one of her shoes off one of the legs turned all the way around, so that the toes were pointing backwards like this:
I can't detect any floppiness or loosening in the hips after this treatment, so she should hold up.  Just don't make a habit of twisting her legs around if you have one of these dolls.  Don't fret if she does break, either; she's repairable.  If you have a busted doll on your hands, I refer you to this post by Nuu; the technique she presents works on early Monster High dolls, Novi Stars, and first-wave Barbie Fashionistas, all of whom have the same type of hip articulation.

Alrighty, where were we?  Oh yes, Sila's legs.  Sila's legs are molded in a knock-kneed position, with her feet far apart and her knees close together.  When her knees are correctly oriented (facing front) she can stand splay-legged, but that's about it!  One has to rotate her legs around the hip joint to get her to sit, and the result is...not how you'd want a doll to sit.
"Please don't photograph me like this..."

Back-and-forth movement is pretty lousy.  In the picture below the right leg is moved back as far as it can go, and the left leg is moved forward:
The sculpt job is great.  Sila's feet have molded high heels and four toes.  She's just a tad pigeon-toed.
Like Barbie, the Monster High girls, and the Bratzillaz, Sila and her Novi Stars friends won't be able to stand on their own.  Luckily, MGA has addressed that little problem, and that brings us to the subject of accessories.  Sila has four accessories:  a pet, a brush, a stand, and a card that has her info.  First, Sila's pet.  His name is 1-Eye.
Yes, I know it's trendy for dolls to have pets nowadays, but in the case of the Novi Stars I don't think it's really necessary.  I mean, 1-Eye is cute and all, but you can't do much with him.  His head swivels, but that's about it!  1-Eye can't stand on his own unless he's being propped up.  Some of the Novis can carry their pets in their bent arms, but 1-Eye is too fat for Sila to carry him.  Too bad, because that would have been cute.

Moving right along, Sila comes with a brush, which is a positive.
The older Novi Stars didn't come with brushes, so this is definitely an improvement.  I don't use this on Sila's hair, but a plastic brush is better than no brush at all.

Then there's the card, which was attached to the handle of the box.  Yes, I know the handle can double as a headband, but there's no way in the world that it would've fit my head so I chucked it with the rest of the packaging.  Here's the card.
It reveals a few things about Sila's personality.  Apparently she is optimistic, considers it a quirk to be bright-eyed, and wants to "light the way" for her Earth friends.  When I read that I instantly pictured Sila being some type of religious figurehead or spiritual guru, giving assurance and advice to both her Novi friends and her Earth friends.

This part makes me lift an eyebrow though.
When Miss Emily reviewed Alie Lectric, Alie's age was listed as "200 light years old."  This was problematic because a light year is a unit of distance, not a unit of time.  Based on that, I have to wonder what 37,000 lunar months will equal.  Gimmie a minute to consult Google...<pauses to browse Google>

...Apparently there is more than one type of lunar month.  There are five, in fact:  synodic, draconic, tropical, sidereal, and anomalistic.  The synodic month averages a length of 29.53059 days, while the other four all have an average length of 27 days (all have varying decimal values after that, but other than that the average is the same).  I am in no mood to plug all five sets of numbers in and get five different ages, so I'm going with the value that Google gave me:  2,991.52681 years.  Keep in mind that these dolls are supposed to be teenagers, so this would mean that Sila is one of her home planet's younger denizens.  Makes me wonder what the average lifespan is for creatures there!

Okay, back on track.  Sila's last accessory.  She has a stand.
It is shaped like a caricatured planet or moon, and it has indentations for her feet to fit into.  It glows in the dark and looks quite nice when the lights are out.  Unfortunately, the stand only fits Sila's stock shoes.  The shoes from her other outfits won't fit in there.  Sila also falls over a lot; if I don't have her feet positioned just-so then they won't go in the stand's holes and she'll tip over.   She is much more balanced than Cyanne is, though; Cyanne tips over if I sneeze in her direction.  Sila does not.

Since the stand doesn't fit those other shoes, getting Sila to model that blue dress I bought is going to be a challenge.  But I'm going to try it and the other outfits anyway, because it was my purchase of that outfit that led me to pursue a Novi Star in the first place.  Here's what Sila looks like in the Galactic Gown.
Here's Space Dreamer, a pajamas set.
And here's Winter Gear, a coat set.
Winter Gear fits the best, but getting those earmuffs to stay on her head is next to impossible.  I had to use a rubber band to get them to stay, and even then they're constantly wanting to pop off.  I probably will not be using those earmuffs unless I get a doll with rooted hair.  Galactic Gown is easiest to put on and looks stunning, especially against Sila's dark glitter-skin.  Space Dreamer is cute, but it's very difficult to put on and the fit is tight.  My particular Space Dreamer set also had a hole in the seam.  I can fix that hole, but finding that practically sent me into orbit (no pun intended).  Thank God this didn't fall into the hands of a child, or this would've been a serious disappointment.  Speaking of which...the Good/Bad section proves to be quite interesting.

*Nylon hair.  YUCK!!!
*Wig is hard to keep on, and when it is on it slips a lot.
*Sparkly finish may chip off over time, and the mascara will likely flake off of the eyelashes.
*Durability may be a problem.  The arm pegs are somewhat bendy, and the legs are strung with elastic cord that may break with age or if treated roughly.
*Hip mobility is poor.  Sila will most likely have to be posed in a standing position at all times.
*Moderately hard to dress and undress.
*Stand won't fit all the shoe options available with this doll line.
*Some dolls have paint flaws.  My Sila is immaculate in this department, but keep your eyes peeled in stores; sometimes those dinky little mouths are poorly painted.
*Gimmicky.  I like the light-up eye feature, but that places her firmly in the toy category.
*Pet is cute but unnecessary.
*Overpriced, though there are some great sales going on right now.

*Original.  She's an alien, for crying out loud!  How many alien-themed fashion dolls can you name?
*She's wigged.  This means if you absolutely hate those nylon fibers you can pick something of your own liking.  She can also share wigs with other characters like Mae Tallick and possibly Mimi Merize.
*The wig can probably also be used on dolls that AREN'T Novi Stars.  They didn't fit any of the dolls I've got on hand, but I'm willing to bet there are dolls out there than can wear these wigs.  My Scene Barbie may be a candidate...
*The eye is very pretty.
*The gimmick for this particular doll is cute.  Most children (and some adults) like things that light up, and Sila will probably be no exception.
*Lovely colors.  I love the deep plum shade that this doll is in.  I also like the fact that Sila is not dominantly pink, like some of her Novi Star cronies.
*She's not unrealistically beautiful.  She's cute and could be considered pretty by some folks (including me), but she won't be promoting unrealistic body images, for those of you who are concerned about such things.
*Well-dressed, not overly sexualized or vampy.
*Most of the shoes go on and stay on.  The only shoes that appear in danger of falling off are the slippers that came with the Space Dreamer outfit.  And frankly, those can be rubber banded on.
*She has a stand.  It's not perfect but as I've said before, an imperfect stand is better than no stand at all.
*Believe it or not, Sila is versatile...at least, if you're crafty like some folks are.  She can be sanded and repainted, rewigged, and possibly rebodied to become an entity all your own.
*She comes apart in places, allowing for easier dressing.
*I got her on sale!!!

In short, I like this line of dolls.  They're original, colorful, unusual, creative, and cute.  For some reason, Sila stands out from the others.  She's darker than the others (the rest of the Novi Stars stick to a dominantly pastel color palette), and she only has one eye.  Some people disliked Sila because of her single eye, dismissing her as "ugly" or "creepy," but I think it makes her more of an individual.  That being said, I'm glad I didn't pay twenty bucks for her.  Her leg mobility is a disappointment, her sparkly coating could come off over time, and she feels just a tad flimsy, particularly in the arms.  My feelings about her wig are mixed; I love the colors, the length, and the fact that the hair is straight.  I don't love the nylon fibers, the way it slides around, or the fact that she can't reliably share wigs with any of my other dolls. I also think Sila could have done without a pet, like some currant Monster High characters do (both the MH dolls I've reviewed, C.A. Cupid and Skelita Calaveras, come without pets).  Not all Novi Star pets are like 1-Eye; Tily Vison's pet has a head that swivels to reveal different personalities, for example.  But I think that in Sila's case an extra wig or a cute new outfit could've replaced the pet.  Overall, I like Sila.  I thoroughly enjoyed tinkering around with her and photographing her for this review.  I like her enough that she may accompany me to Mountain Home (she'd look fabulous on my nightstand), and I like her enough to recommend her to a child above the age of seven, or to an adult if she suits said adult's style.  However, DO NOT pay twenty bucks for any of these dolls except maybe the Curl 'n Coil dolls; the few people who have obtained those absolutely love them.  The rest of these dolls are gimmicky, slightly flimsy toys, and are not worth the twenty that they were once going for.  If you do have twenty bucks to spend and have a choice between a Monster High doll and one of these Novi Stars, I'd go with the MH doll unless you're absolutely determined to own a Novi Star yourself.  If you ARE determined, now is a good time because these are going on sale like mad.  I picked Sila up for fourteen dollars and some change, and in some areas the price has been lowered to around ten bucks.  So if Sila caught your eye, or if you have your heart set on one of her equally cute little cosmic chums, I say go out and see what's on sale.  I did...and without revealing too much about the next review, let me just say that I got a great deal on a friend of Sila's.  It's not Mimi Merize, but in my eyes it's just as good.  Stay tuned...

Happy Halloween!

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