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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,


  1. Hello from Spain: Fabulous review. Nice photos. Keep in touch

  2. I'm probably the only fan alive who is not surprised at how Mattel has rebootedone MH to look more creeping friendly. After all, Monster High was madestablished for one purpose...to compete with the Bratz back in 2010. I don't know if you were old enough to remember or understand what happened between MGAE and Mattel but prior to 2010 the two companties were bitter rivals because for the first time ever a doll line, known as the Bratz, was able to knock Barbie off her throne of glory. Mattel desperately tried to gain back its audience with Myscene & Flava dolls, but both proved less successful. It wasn't until lawsuits started flying between and really childish court sessions ending in a out of court settlement that Bratz were removed and so was Mattel Myscene dolls. Then the court allowed the companies to make revamped edgy lines this time fairly. Thus Bratzip came back with a new look and then Monster High was born.
    With Bratz no longer serving as competition to Mattel, they no longer see the need to keep up with the edgy trend that the Bratz started. The new trending dolls now are Princesses thanks to Disney's Frozen and Descendants. To compete, Mattel is less concerned with being original honestly because they were never that kind of company to begin with. They have always been about appeal. Dont get me wrong, I LOVE MH and EAH, but I know that when Mattel made them they did not any sort of creative vision. Simply nostalgia, top designers, and popular trends was how MH became a thing, unlike the Bratz whose previous designer was a visionary regardless of popularity. This is why I'm not surprised...Mattel has to appeal to retailers. Retailers like Walmart or target will put a damper on things too because they only buy what will sell. Retailers have gotten much Pickler because no one buys dolls anymore thanks to tablets and smartphones. So I can't say Mattel is completely at fault...but Mattel is not the kind of company to fight it either.

  3. Sorry if my previous comments have errors...I tried to type on my tablet and it kept auto correcting the wrong things.

    1. No sweat, chica. I have a tablet too and it gives me a lot of attitude with autocorrect. Your opinions are quite good, certainly things that I never thought of myself.