Friday, July 13, 2018

DEAR DOLL COMPANIES...

There's a terrible modern trend with doll lines that is leading to failure faster and faster.

A LACK OF CHARACTER DIVERSITY.

When I say character diversity, I don't mean by race or anything like that. I mean the creation of lines with several distinct characters.

Monster High did fairly well with diversity, although it was slow to start out. However, by the end, they were refusing to make characters the fans wanted. Namely, the boys. The handful of boys that got made got a few releases each, but instead of those, we should have seen more of the male cast, like Pharaoh (probably the most wanted of the missing males), Johnny Spirit, Andy, and my personal favorite, Romulus. Other boys got treated poorly. Deuce went from a chef, a concept that had a lot of potential, to a surfer-speak moron. Clawd was one of the smartest boys in school and he devolved into a series of dog jokes. Jackson and Holt were never developed properly and then tossed aside. Invisibilly had potential, but also never got the screentime he deserved, even having one of his dolls import-only for those of us in the US. The girls from MH got a bit of a fairer deal, but others never needed to exist at all. The interesting, unique, completely outside the box Operetta got replaced by the incredibly common, trite Catty Noir. Casta Fierce, the long-awaited witch, was toned down by being yet another pop singer like Catty, a concept the line never needed. Wydowna Spider never got her real chance to shine, despite being one of the best designed dolls in the entire line. By the time the reboot came around, longtime fans were very disappointed in the drop in quality and felt the cast and concepts were now too kid-friendly. (Not a point I agree with.) The reboot had some stellar things. I'm still mourning the lack of a Silvi Timberwolf signature doll! And the animation style for the new webisodes was far better than the CGI the older movies used, though not as good as the original animation style.

Monster High's sister line, Ever After High, started out immediately with problems. It introduced a large cast with several important male characters, then proceeded to barely make any of them, despite being far more relationship-focused than Monster High was, what with the whole destiny theme and so many prince/love interest characters. I think they did better than MH when it came to quickly producing more female characters, but the gaps left by the males were glaring. Only three boys got proper dolls with the same level of articulation as the girls: Hunter Huntsman, Dexter Charming and Alistair Wonderland. Daring Charming and Hopper Croakington II should have been part of the early lines with Sparrow Hood getting one shortly after. Daring finally saw two dolls much later, but with less articulation. Future releases brought in girl after girl, but every one ignored some of the best designs in the show: the background cast. There was a huge outcry when Rosabella Beauty turned out to be basically Briar in glasses instead of the background cast member many people wanted it to be. At the end of the line, the lovely animation designs were not getting dolls anywhere near as good. Meeshell Mermaid was the main victim of that and Justine Dancer suffered from a poor design both animated and in doll form. Random silly characters were getting dolls, like the stupid pixies. I'll forever be disappointed that the line ended before we got Ramona Badwolf, one of the best designs of the entire show. 

Winx Club, a line made by many toy companies over the years, has always been a victim of this lack of diversity. Over multiple lines by multiple companies only two of the male cast ever got made into dolls, even though every single one of them was an important character in the series. The primary villains got slightly better treatment...eventually. In the US, Mattel had control, but they only made one witch doll and without her proper makeup. I'm convinced the Winx line died in the US, because they kept making the same fairies over and over with only one boy and one witch to go along. Italian Giochi Preziosi gave us all three witches with the correct makeup, and years later, other companies made all three witches and even action figures of them. But other prominent characters were ignored. No doll of Princess Diaspro exists, despite her being a major character. No doll of Mirta, who would have sold well during Seasons 1 and 2. Only the European companies made Roxy. I could never understand why Jakks Pacific left her out when their inaugural Winx line was for Season 4, the season when Roxy is most important. The boys were a glaring omission from the Jakks action figure line, too.

You wouldn't think something Disney would be doomed to fail, but Star Darlings was one of the fastest failures I've ever seen. The line had an absolutely perfect set up. There were 12 diverse alien girls, each based on a zodiac sign. They had different body types, skintones, hairstyles, clothing styles. In alien form, they had shimmery skin and unnaturally-colored hair and eyes. But each girl also had a human disguise for trips to "Wishworld" (AKA: Earth). So right there, you've got 24 different dolls. TWENTY-FOUR. The initial lineup wasn't bad: 5 of the girls in their alien looks, plus 2 of their Earth looks, and 2 Earth looks for characters that didn't have an alien doll. Buuuut...that was it. Only one other unique doll was made, an alien look for one of the two that got an Earth look, but she had to be imported. What did Jakks make instead? Yeah, Jakks again, the ones that bombed Winx. They made the same alien characters over and over. And over. Packaged with fancy stands, packaged with rings, packaged with books, packaged with instruments. The same dolls over and over and over. This incredibly stupid lack of diversity mixed with the shocking difference between the decent book series and the terrible webisodes killed a promising property. Way to go, whoever made those decisions.

Back to Mattel. Their current mess up is DC Superhero Girls. This started out SO WELL. The character designs were excellent and plentiful, although leaving Katana out of the initial lineup was a flub. The webisodes and movies were fabulous. The books are great. Seems like they couldn't screw it up, right? Wrong. Lack of character diversity has brought this line to a new low. It's getting a Lauren Faust reboot with the flat out UGLIEST designs I have ever seen in my life. It didn't need a reboot. It needed a doll line that actually provided new characters for kids to buy, instead of Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Supergirl a million times. I'm furious that the reboot is so ugly and we'll never get dolls of Miss Martian, Star Sapphire, Lady Shiva, Big Barda, Thunder and Lightning, the Female Furies, Lena Luthor, Cheshire, any of the BOYS, Mera, Raven, the new Green Lantern girl, and the list goes on and on. There are more well-designed characters left unmade than ones that got made. But no, they didn't make the right doll choices, so the line is being overhauled by someone who has absolutely zero grasp of anatomy. I like some of Faust's stuff, but I wish she'd tried to do something with Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls instead of ruining a property that might have been fixable.

So now where are we? We barely have any character-driven doll lines thanks to these errors. Hasbro has the upcoming Marvel Rising line, which at least looks promising. There are several characters, including one male, in the initial lineup. And Just Play is producing the Hairdorables with 12 distinct characters that have specific interests, personalities and looks. Even their 2 additional looks per character as so well-designed and different that none of them feel like you're buying the same doll in a barely different dress. These two lines give me hope, but I want toy companies to look at the errors of these other lines I've mentioned. GIVE US MULTIPLE CHARACTERS. Never think repeating the same dolls over and over will make a successful line. It will not and in time, I'll be writing about you like this, too, unless you provide some diversity!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

NEWS: Hairdorables!

Just Play brings us a new blind boxed line called Hairdorables:
https://hairdorables.com/

For $12.99 apiece, you can get one of 36 different dolls. There are 12 characters with 3 different looks (2 rare dolls, 1 ultra rare doll). Each doll comes with 10 different surprises: a collector list, signature card, comb, stickers, shoes, accessories, etc.

These dolls look incredibly cute and I'm definitely going to be collecting a few, but I think I'll mostly be ebaying them, because $12.99 isn't cheap for not knowing who you're getting.

On the website, you can meet the 12 different girls and see art of their different looks. I wish they had the doll pics, too, but art is good.

BELLA: Blonde dancer whose favorite color is pink. None of her dolls are my style.

HARMONY: This neon yellow-haired musician has some Pizzazz going on! I love all 3 of her looks, but the first, shorter-haired one is my favorite.

NEILA: The outer space girl! Her alien look is by far the best, but both of the others are cute, too.

KALI: Science, tech and coding. All of her looks are cute. I'll need to see the dolls to pick a fave.

BRIT: The sporty one. Considering she plays multiple sports, I wish all her dolls had different themes, but they're all soccer. She's cute, but not one I'll seek out.

DEE DEE: The chef. Well, sweets chef. Points for them using the correct spelling of macaron! This one is much cuter in doll form than her art. Like from the art, you wouldn't think I'd want her, but I've seen 2 of the dolls (1st and 3rd looks) and she's darling.

WILLOW: A pastel unicorn fashionista. I have a feeling she'll be popular with the target market.

SKYLAR: The Hawaiian traveller. I like her 1st and 3rd looks.

RAYNE: Rainbow roller skater. Cute but not my style really.

NOAH: The leader. All of hers are stinking ADORABLE. And points for making the leader not pink, even though she does wear some pink. I want all of hers.

KAT: The animal lover. Cute, but not one I'll be looking for.

SALLEE: The white-haired artist! I love her! All three of her looks are gorgeous.

I don't know who my favorite is, but I definitely want a lot of these girls!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

NEWS: Hasbro Marvel Rising Dolls in December?

I was bored, so I decided to peruse the new Amazon listings under dolls. I discovered many from Hasbro with Marvel characters. After a bit of Googling, I learned about the new Marvel Rising franchise. These dolls all seem to be from that.

No pictures on any of the listings. Yet.

With a release date of December 1st and a price point of $12.99, we have:

GHOST-SPIDER (AKA: Spider-Gwen):

SQUIRREL GIRL:

QUAKE:

INFERNO:
(Unlike DCSG, they're actually including a guy! Shocking!)

AMERICA CHAVEZ:

America also gets a $24.99 secret identity doll:

And there's another secret identity doll that I think is Ms. Marvel:

There are two generic listings for January 15th:

$12.99 Signature:

$29.99 Feature:

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what these look like! Although part of me wishes for some more nostalgic characters, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

OVERVIEW: Charmin' Farm Friends Part 2

http://venivididolli.blogspot.com/2016/07/overview-charmin-farm-friends.html

I wrote my original overview for Charmin' Farm Friends exactly two years ago: July 8, 2016. Wow. I had no idea, but that's pretty cool.

Anyway, I decided to expand on that post, since I've gotten some new collection additions since.


This is my current collection of Fuzzimals, the poseable flocked figures.

After many years, I finally have added Hillary Jean Nay (the horse) to my collection. She was always my most wanted.

I'm not going to include a bunch of pictures yoinked from Google images because they're not mine, but I thought I'd try to make a little list of the color variants for the Fuzzimals.



PATTY JO SKWEEL (pig):
1) Pink with purple spots, purple ruff, and yellow gem. Hair is purple and yellow.
2) Pink with pink spots, purple ruff, and purple gem. Hair is purple and yellow.
3) Purple with green spots, pink hooves, green ruff, and possibly green gem. Hair is green and either yellow or white. 

ELLIE MAY CHOPPE (lamb):
1) Yellow with blue collar with purple flowers, pink gem, and pink and purple hair.
2) Pink body. I can't remember any other details and there are no photos of her, but I used to have a pink Ellie May. I traded or sold her probably close to 20 years ago.

ANNABELLE MOO (cow):
1) Green with pink spots and hooves, purple bow with 2 purple gems, and pink and purple hair.
2) Dark pink with lighter purple spots and hooves, yellow bow with 2 yellow gems, and green and purple hair.
3) White with either blue or purple spots and hooves, blue bow with 2 presumably blue gems, and blue and maybe purple hair. This description is based on a horrible, tiny photo. I should have bought this one on ebay, but while I was debating, someone beat me to it. I had no idea there were white Fuzzimals at this point and thought that despite being packaged, she was terribly sun-faded.

HILLARY JEAN NAY (horse):
1) Purple with pink spots, purple hooves, purple bandana with yellow gem, neon green mane, and dark purple tail.
2) Dark pink with turquoise spots, pink hooves, purple bandana with blue gem, purple mane, and turquoise tail.
3) White with blue spots, lighter blue hooves, lighter blue bandana with pink gem, blue mane, and yellow tail.

Let's move on to the Barnimals, which are the little figures with a sprig of hair.

These also come in a bajillion variants. They were sold individually, in sets of three, and in sets of four. Let's just make it as confusing as possible, Meritus! Yeesh! At least most of the time the only difference between the figures is the base color. As you can see in the pic on the right, the two genie lambs are the same, except one is pink and the other purple. Same with the cows. One is purple, one white, no other paint or hair color differences.

I think the best way to do this is list the sets that I know of, then split them up by character like I did with the Fuzzimals.

Set of 3 #1: This set I own. It's the purple lamb dressed as a genie (green hair), the pink majorette pig (blue hair), and the white tap-dancing cow (neon yellow hair). 

Set of 3 #2: White cheerleader cow in pink top and blue skirt (pink hair), purple lamb in blue dress with basket (lavender hair), and pink ice-skating pig (dark purple hair).

Set of 4 #1: Green horse in a bathing suit (maybe yellow hair), pink ice-skating pig (dark purple hair), purple cheerleader cow in white top and blue skirt (dark pink hair), and pink lamb in blue dress with basket (lavender hair).

Sold individually: Pink majorette pig, purple tap-dancing cow, green horse in fancy pink gown (lavender hair).

PATTY JO SKWEEL:
1) Majorette: pink
2) Ice skater: pink

ELLIE MAY CHOPPE:
1) Blue dress with basket: Pink, purple
2) Genie: Pink, purple

ANNABELLE MOO:
1) Tap dancer: Purple, white
2) Cheerleader: Purple, white. The white cheerleader cow is the only color change on an outfit that I've seen. It makes sense though, because a white cow can't wear a white top.

HILLARY JEAN NAY:
1) Bathing suit: Green
2) Pink gown: Green

These are the only ones I've seen of these so far. I assume the pig is always pink, and wonder if the lambs are all pink or purple and the cows all white or purple. The horse seems to be the least often included and has only been seen in green so far.

My collection has obviously grown in 2 years and more variations have popped up, so who knows where we'll be in another 2 years? Maybe I'll add a third part to this overview then!

PHOTO CREDITS: Mine.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

REVIEW: Hotel Transylvania Mavis Bats Out

More goth dolls? Yes, please!

I have to be honest, I don't like Hotel Transylvania. I might have enjoyed the movie, but pretty much my most hated trope ever is putting an attractive goth girl with a complete and utter ugly doofus. It happens A LOT. So I refused to see the sequel and won't see the third one.

I will, however, buy Mavis dolls and pretend she is an adorable vamp girl that is STILL TOTALLY SINGLE.

Bats Out Mavis is one of three fashion dolls currently out. This one and the bride Mavis from Hotel Transylvania 2 are $17.99, while the resort outfit (AKA: dark purple minidress) Mavis from HT3 is $12.99. All are on Amazon, along with a ton of other not-doll figures.




Bats Out was the obvious choice for me, since I love her simple outfit from the first movie. She's wearing that plus a bat ear headband and bat wings that are held on by two elastic loops per arm.

I honestly don't get the bat outfit idea. I would have preferred her in this outfit minus the bat stuff and with a figure of herself as a bat instead. Mavis doesn't need a bat outfit. She turns into a bat!




She's so cute though! They did an excellent job. I don't think she could look any more like the character. She's spot on.

Her hair is very gelled, which I hate, but on the plus side, when it's this gelled, if you wash most of it out, it still usually holds the proper shape without being stiff.




Let's get rid of that unnecessary bat stuff.

Mavis wears a simple black dress with fishnet sleeves. Those are attached directly to the dress. Each sleeve has a tiny thumb loop.

So how many of you think she's wearing tights?

NOPE. Those are two individual striped stockings. I'm not sure I've seen the likes of these since Lollipop Girls. They make for way better lines under the dress and allow her to have decent joint movement.





Her legs don't go straight out, but she sits pretty well anyway. (This photo was taken after I rinsed her gel out. Looks good so far!)

Mavis is articulated at the neck, shoulders, hips, knees and elbows. Not the wrists.

Gah, sorry, Mavis.
She DOES stain.

My doll came with plastic wrapped around each upper arm, but the black went through it and stained her arms anyway. Unfortunately, it didn't photograph well, but I think you can see the shadow of it, particularly on her right arm.

I'm not fully undressing her because those sleeves look like a pain to get back on right. And that was a wise decision, because I unhooked the thumbhole on her left hand to get that stray thread out of the sleeve and it was really hard to find the hole again. Just leave her sleeves in place! If you want a Mavis to redress, I recommend the HT3 resort dress doll.




A little size comparison. Mavis is 10.5" according to the Amazon listing. She's a teense taller than Twyla. Without shoes, they might be about the same.

Despite not loving what they did with the character, I adore this doll. Goth dolls are always welcome in my home and she is an absolutely darling one! And for a fair price, too. I may invest in both the others eventually. The resort one would be fun to redress and the bride minus her veil and bouquet just looks ready for a night out.

Well done, Jazwares.

PHOTO CREDITS: Mine.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

REVIEW: Barbie Fashionistas Rockstar Glam


 Yay, she's here! This girl was available for order on Amazon, but it said "ships in 1-3 months," so I waited a bit before ordering. I finally just placed the order, figuring I'd get her whenever, but it only took a week for her to ship. Now the listing says "1-2 months" so maybe she's shipping faster now.

This is the only one I really wanted from the new set. She does not disappoint!



I thought she looked like Zendaya in the promo shots, which was a lot of her appeal, but the actual doll doesn't. She's still really pretty though.

She wears one of the only interesting outfits in this set. 









And by "interesting," I mean one of the only ones that isn't utterly hideous. 

I mean, I'm old school. I'm still of the camp that a tee-shirt is not a dress. 

Just call me old-fashioned. 



It is a cool t-shirt though. The hem is a bit longer in the back. 

Her hair is actually mostly yellow. I didn't take a pic of the back of her head, because her hair is laying weird after being boxed and I wanted to do this review before she went to the salon. But the majority of the brown is in the front. 




She comes with these silly sunglasses, which she actually manages to make look good. 

Definitely my fave of the new batch of Fashionistas. I don't plan on buying any more, but we'll see when they actually appear in stores if any more win me over.

PHOTO CREDITS: Mine.

MONTH IN REVIEW: June 2018

Even though it's only the 27th, I'm going to go ahead and do my Month in Review for June, because I don't have a lot of things incoming. I do have one Fashionista that will likely arrive tomorrow, but she'll get a review, so she won't need a pic in this wrap-up anyway.

The reason I'm doing this is because someone knocked on our door at 3:30am and no one was there when I looked out the peephole, so I'm a little creeped out. I had my headphones in before that and two of the dogs looked up like they heard a noise, so I yanked my headphones out and a couple minutes later was the knock. The dogs barked then, but not the first time, so I'm thinking maybe this person knocked on a neighbor's door first? I don't know. No one seems to be around, but I'm too unnerved to go to sleep, so here we are.

Anyway, Party Pop Teenies are the first things pictured. I got these at the same time as my first Boxy Girls. I actually have two more that I never photographed. They're really cute and I wish the closer Walmarts had them.






And now bears. Of course.

Dally's been on my wishlist for over a year. I finally lucked into a great deal on ebay from a US seller, which I never thought I'd get. She's lovely in person with all her different colors.





The oddly-named Licky Tissue was one of my 2018 pre-orders. He's named after when a mom licks a tissue to wipe something off a kid's face. It's kind of a cute idea, I guess, but the name is just...no. I call mine Licky, but I'll think of something else eventually.









And this is Skip. He's odd because he photographs far more yellow than he really is, which I wish I'd known. I was expecting a yellow bunny, but he's like a dark cream color. Still nice, but I wanted that buttercream yellow.






Seraphina the bunny and Cody the wolf are Lumo Stars. These can be found at Target. I will get more soon!




This guy is possibly my biggest love of the month. I've been supporting the Lunar Lion since he first appeared in the "in process" Squishable designs.

He's up there in my top Squishables with the original gray alien and the Spooky Lil Monster.




My Lost Kitties! I just took a pic of these yesterday. I finally got my most wanted Flakes, the angry sweater-wearing blue one, and that's enough for me. I've gotten 8 and 2 are doubles, so no more. Not at $5 apiece.



And finally, my new Gund bears. Bleecker is on the left and Indigo on the right. I've got money set aside for a couple Charlie Bears pre-orders I think might come in soon, so I splurged on a couple cheaper Gund bears on Amazon to fill the bear void while I wait.

Indigo really is a very, very dark blue. He just photographs black.

That is it. Anything else will be lumped in with July or done in reviews.

PHOTO CREDITS: Mine.