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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Time to gripe: Monster High reboot

Let's talk about Barbie's...well, both of these are Mattel lines so I'm not sure if these dollies are Barbie's frenemies or rivals.  But let's talk about the Monster High dolls, those edgy, freaky-fabulous offspring of famous monsters and mythical legends that have been giving Barbie a run for her money lately.  The Monster High dolls remind me more of something that MGA Entertainment would've done, what with their Bratz-like proportions; big eyes, puckered lips, and slim, oddly proportioned bodies.  I absolutely love the Monster High dolls, to the point that they've taken over part of my bedroom.  In the past I've reviewed C.A. Cupid and Skelita Calaveras, shown how the Inner Monster masks looked good on the regular Create-A-Monster sets, lamented Mattel's oversight of new MH clothing sets, gawked at the new big dolls, and I've even cobbled together some knitwear.  Skelita Calaveras remains my favorite character, though River Styxx did give her a run for her money.  Being a mortuary student I feel a certain kinship with the daughter of the Grim Reaper.  Plus, River and Skelita have some of the same aesthetics, especially in the face.
This is where my gripe is going to get hypocritical.  Both River and Skelita are smiling dolls, which is not something one sees every day in the Monster High world.  Most of my other MH dolls have either a neutral expression...
...or they've got their attitude on.
Skelita and River are both smilers, as are Bonita Femur, Honey Swamps, and Clawdia Wolf.  In fact, I suspect that Bonita may be Skelita's mother's secret love child, since she's supposed to be a cross between a skeleton and the Mothman.  Or maybe the two are cousins.  Go figure.  Anyway, every so often we get a Monster High doll that's smiling.  With the exception of Clawdia, I've liked these happy little dolls.  Unfortunately, Mattel is once again mucking around with something, trying to fix that which isn't broken, and they are apparently revamping the Monster High dolls to where nearly all of them are smiling!  Look what they've done to Frankie and Draculaura!
The new faces are cute, but what on earth is wrong with the old ones???  These dolls are supposed to be freaky fabulous, not generically pretty like Barbie or cute and sweet like the Ever After High dolls.  Don't get me wrong, I like Barbie and EAH, but after growing up in a world full of perpetually happy playline dolls, it's nice to see something different.  Something edgy.  Something with a bit of attitude.  It's my opinion that edge and attitude are what made the Bratz such big sellers, and I believe the same is true of the Monster High dolls.  Heck, the dolls even look a little alike!  Check this out!
Meygan and Lagoona are very different, but they've got a lot of the same attributes.  Their expressions are similar as are their features.  They've both got full, pouty lips and big, made-up eyes that suggest a hint of personality.  Compare that to Barbie, whose wide eyes and wide smile remind me of something you might meet on Sesame Street.
That doll is a cute one, no question.  But if she could talk, I'd expect her to sound like a female version of Big Bird.  She'd walk up to whomever she met and go "Hiiiiiiiiiii, everyone!"  No offense meant to either Barbie or Big Bird, whom I'm still quite fond of at my age.  I don't mind the innocence that Barbie projects with her big eyes and her friendly smile, but the problem is that 99% of the Barbie dolls in stores look alike.  They all wear the same smile, and they all look perpetually cheerful.  Compare that to Ghoulia Yelps, who looks slightly perplexed, or Cleo de Nile, who looks slightly put-out, or Lagoona Blue, who always looks innocent and approachable.  These ladies do not wear plastic smiles, and yet they each have their own personality.  The new faces, with their overly large eyes and innocent little smiles, rob each character of much of her personality.  If that weren't bad enough, the new faces make the characters look highly similar to one another.  Mattel made that mistake once with the first wave of Ever After High dolls, and they appear to be doing it again with the Monster High dolls.  Don't believe me?  Check out this post by Kazuya Mishma.  Cleo de Nile still looks like Cleo de Nile, but Frankie, Clawdeen, and Draculaura all look similar.  The new face suits Draculaura, who has always had a bit of a sugar and spice attitude about life, but the same can't be said for she-wolf Clawdeen, who has always been sassy, saucy, and fierce.

I may live to eat my words, but I think this is a dumb move on Mattel's part.  Children seem to like the dolls the way they currently are; every girl I know under a certain age owns at least one Monster High doll, so they're obviously selling.  The new face IS attractive, and it would probably make for some decent NEW characters, but I feel that the OLD ones should be left as is.

Yours always,

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Twinn's not-so-grand finale

Right before the turn of the year the My Twinn Collectors group was in an uproar because of decreasing quality; cloudy eyes, receiving the wrong thing, disappearing black dolls, stuff like that.  I predicted that the company was closing, and that turned out to be true.  As of today, February 8th, 2016, My Twinn has officially closed.  Furthermore, they appear to be closing for good, and that sets the stage for an interesting backstory that played out on the Facebook group recently.  Some of my fellow group members received the wrong thing over the past month and a half, including one lady who had ordered eye replacement for her boy and girl dolls.  This lady, whom I'll call Miss A, is Hispanic, and she had two dolls, one for her son and one for her daughter.  Lo and behold, when she gets the package back, she had one black girl and one Hispanic girl instead of a Hispanic girl and boy.  The black doll was VERY cute; she had a full head of dark curls and a Cai head, just like Miss Emily's Sabrina.  She was adorable...but she wasn't Miss A's doll.  Miss A did get her boy doll back, and the cute little Sabrina-lookalike was on her way to her real home, but I'm not sure if My Twinn helped out or not.

Apparently Miss A wasn't the only one who had this problem.  The catch is that now My Twinn is doing nothing to help.  Another of my fellow group members e-mailed them and got the following response:

If you received the wrong doll we cannot exchange it for you at this time. We have completely closed and are not receiving any packages for exchange.

One straggler did remain so that customers would at least get a refund.

This latest closure looks to be final, as opposed to prior closures where a revival was attempted.  Not only have most of the employees headed for the hills, but all the unsold stock has been sent to charity.  And get this as well:  the 23-inch head molds were apparently DESTROYED!!!  So even if someone wanted a revival there would be very little to work with.  (UPDATE, 2/19/2016:  the molds were not destroyed, but rather taken by an employee and put in storage.)

The reported destruction of these molds makes me wonder now which of the current dolls will become the rare ones.  Past faces like Tamsen and Beatriz have become hard to find and eagerly sought-after by hardcore collectors, so I wonder if any of the others will become like that.  I doubt my little Ariel dolls will be considered rare, but we'll see in the years to come.  In the meantime, I'm going to prowl eBay for a black Denika.  Nope, I still haven't given up on that pipe dream!

Very truly yours,

UPDATE:  Miss A's Sabrina-lookalike came back to her today, so some little kid out there didn't get her doll.  I don't know what Miss A is going to do about that, but I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Twinn haul

In my last post I vocalized the impending arrival of yet another package, and the possibility that we might be blown away before the package arrived.  Well, the storm system came on Tuesday, bringing a fifteen-minute downpour, a single crack of thunder, an anemic-looking rainbow, and that's all!  Second time this winter that we've been warned of something coming, only to get relatively nothing.  In short, I didn't blow away, and I've survived to see my package from My Twinn.
I must say that our UPS carriers are some of the quietest I've ever witnessed.  I didn't hear the vehicle, and I didn't hear our carrier bring the package up to the door.  I didn't even know my package had arrived until I went out to start warming up the car for work.  Lo and behold, it was there.  Everything inside is for my larger doll, Rael.  I probably could've ordered some things for Xenia too, but finding clothes for her is so easy that I completely forgot to look on the MT website.  Shame too, because I might've been able to snag some outfits that matched Rael's.

Alrighty, let's start.  Each little outfit is packaged in a cute bag like this:
The plastic is thin enough to reveal a little bit of the fabric underneath, so I knew right away what this bag contained.  It had the denim dress, which was my favorite of the bunch that I ordered.
I loved the way this looked on the doll My Twinn used as their model, and I love how it looks on Rael.  I'm not sure if the material really is denim, but regardless of fiber composition it's a nice little dress.  The fabric feels thick and durable, and yet soft enough to feel pleasant to the touch.  The buttons, to my surprise, are real.  They go through honest-to-God holes as opposed to snaps or strips of Velcro.  They're well-sewn, but these buttons automatically render this dress unsuitable for small children, lest they detach, swallow, and inhale said buttons.

To my surprise, the dress came with some shoes.
Yeah, MT showed shoes with the dress, but I thought they had to be purchased separately.  The shoes are Converse-style sneakers with fake leather toes and rubber soles.  The laces are real, which means no shoving the shoes blindly onto Rael's feet.  Oddly, the rest of these sneakers are not made of a material that I'd expect; instead of pleather or canvas, the black material is velour.  It's soft to the touch and it makes the shoes a little easier to slip on, but the heel is bad to fold under when I put these shoes on.  I'm also glad that these aren't shoes for real children, as that velour would get filthy in a hurry.

Next is a pink outfit.
Okay, it's not 100% pink, but pink is definitely the dominant color here.  This outfit reminds me of a getup I wore on my first (and only) childhood fishing trip.  It's got a little sunhat, the presence of which required me to rearrange Rael's hair quite a bit.  I don't know if it'll ever be normal again, but if it's not, oh well.  The shirt further necessitated the rearranging of hair, because it doesn't open in back.  It slips over Rael's head just like a real shirt does.  It buttons up the front and has a real pocket on the left chest.  The jeans are your normal, run-of-the-mill cargo jeans.  The pockets and hems are stitched with pink thread, which helps tie the overall look together.  The pockets aren't real, which is a bummer, but real pockets likely would've driven up the cost of the outfit and added unsightly bulk.  The fly closes with Velcro and a snap, which is a cute touch.

Like the denim dress, this pink outfit came with a pair of shoes.
These are slip-on shoes, the kind that look like they're a bastardized cross between a loafer and a sneaker.  They're not my favorite shoe aesthetically, but I know from experience that shoes like this are extremely comfortable and convenient.  These are made of a pink suede-like material with white canvas interiors and white rubber soles.  They're more rigid than the black sneakers, so they slide on more easily.

The next outfit is also dominantly pink.
This shirt has a Velcro closure in back, so I don't have to yank this over Rael's head like the last one.  It's the same shade of pink, but that's pretty much where the similarities end.  The shirt has long sleeves, perfect for the current time of year, and the design on front is painted on.  From a distance it looks like fancy embroidery.  The leggings are black stretch-knit leggings that go with everything.  There's not much else to say about those; they look great on Rael, but I can remember having to wear stretch pants when I was a kid.  I was chunky when I was a tween, and the stretch pants didn't help one iota.

Again, this outfit came with a pair of shoes.
Of all the pairs of shoes I received today, these are my favorites.  They're white canvas with white pleather toes and white rubber soles.  The design is painted on the side, and the eyeholes for the laces are each painted a different color.  They are highly similar to my first pair of laced shoes.  I love the springtimey look of these shoes!  I'll have to find a cute sun outfit to go with them.

The next outfit...well, it looks like it might be an exercise set.
The shirt opens in the back, but not all the way, so I either have to pull this over Rael's head or over her feet.  Since pulling stuff over her head isn't much fun I elected to pull the shirt over her feet.  The shirt is decorated with printed flowers and butterflies in green, black, and lavender.  Other than that there's not much to say.  It's just your basic little T-shirt.  The pants are cargo pants, and they have pockets that actually open and close.  The right hip and left leg are emblazoned with more flowers, which helps tie the look together.  The fly snaps and Velcros closed, just like the jeans above.  The shoes, which I carelessly neglected to photograph, are purple and white sneakers with lots of detail.  The soles even have treads, for crying out loud!  This is a well-executed set, though it brings back memories of those hideous windbreaker suits that I had to wear when I was a kid.  I don't have a single positive thing to say about those.  At least these pants don't swish constantly, like my set did.  Lord have mercy, that was annoying.

Lastly, I got a pajamas set.
I'm not going to discuss this in much detail, because it's exactly the same as Xenia's set, only on a larger scale.  If you want to read about this pajamas set, you can find Xenia's review HERE.  As you can see below, the two make quite a pair in matching pj's!
I wish now that I hadn't neglected to pick up some other outfits for Xenia as well.  I believe the eighteen-inch outfits were on sale as well, and a couple of them matched some sets that Rael has.  I can still look for the sets on secondary market, but I do wish I hadn't overlooked them on My Twinn's site.

Well, that's a lot to think about, innut!  Time to relax!
Before I sign off, I should probably mention that Xenia's eyes are indeed turning.  I wasn't able to get a decent picture, but her eyes have a definite lavender hue.  I guess that's inevitable for the eighteen-inch dolls, but it certainly is disheartening.  It'll be interesting to see how Xenia's eyes look as they change though, so I guess that cloud has a silver lining.  See you soon!


Monday, February 1, 2016

The mysterious package

When one orders any sort of doll, be it a ball-jointed doll, an American Girl, or a Barbie, one tends to watch the mail quite a bit.  So it was with me this past Saturday.  My mother very kindly ordered some things for Johnny, and they showed up on Saturday, but I also got a pink slip.  Not the kind that says "YOU'RE FIRED," but the kind that the mail carrier leaves when you've got a parcel that was too big to carry.  The slip said the package weighed over a pound, so I figured that it was either Johnny and his stuff or a package of My Twinn clothes that I ordered around the middle of the month.  There was one serious problem with this thinking, though:  neither package had shipped.  Johnny's order still says "processing," and the My Twinn order had been filled but not put in the mail.  So I was at a complete loss for ideas...and I had to wait all weekend to see what the package was!

It turns out that I forgot about another thing that I ordered.  My mystery parcel turned out to be this.
Gabrielle Justine is an Etsy proprietor who makes unique little rag dolls, and that is where my girl came from.  This was another find of my mother's; she was surfing Facebook and found a link to the store on Etsy.  Needless to say my interest was piqued, and within fifteen minutes I'd picked out this blue-haired poppet.  She's about eighteen inches from head to toe.  Her eyes and mouth are painted, and everything else is sewn.  Her arms are jointed with little buttons, and her legs dangle like rag doll legs should.  Her clothes are not removable, but as well sewn as they are, no one would want to remove them!  Her hair and the flower decorations are wool, and the rest is one of my favorite fibers, cotton.  

I haven't had Azure, as I've chosen to call her, long enough to really get a feel for how well she's made, but I certainly do like her!  I love her color (blue, my second favorite color), I love the fabric, and I love the print (POLKA DOTS!!!).  How I managed to forget she was on her way, I'll never know, but it's good to have her home!  If rag dolls are your thing, Gabrielle has plenty of options to choose from.  You can get a blue one like mine, or a ballerina, or just about anything.  She offers other things too, like stuffed animals, pillow coverings, and cute little jewelry boxes!

With Azure safely in my arms, I can now settle back and wait for my other things.  The My Twinn clothes should arrive in the middle of the week, provided we don't get swept away by a tornado before then!  Gotta love El Nino and his goofy winter weather!  Anywho, if I survive Tuesday I should have a box coming with some My Twinn clothes for Rael.  My Twinn is apparently closing for good, and I got five outfits for a buck ninety each.  So...weather permitting, you may be hearing from Rael and Xenia later on this week.  

Best wishes,