Since I have talked quite a bit about Monster High already on this blog (also here and here...), I'll just get straight to the pictures. There were four of these sets in stock, and this was the only one that didn't have any dark face paint smudging on Howleen:
|Clawdeen and Howleen sister set|
Clawdeen is a very basic doll with no accessories. Howleen is presented like other first releases of a new character in that she has a pet, a diary and an accessory (in this case, a backpack). Neither doll comes with a stand. I think Howleen should have come with a black stand.
The box is just like other Monster High boxes. It is mostly cardboard, and it's decorated with tons of bright colors and little descriptions of the characters. Apparently, Holween is 14 years old and a bit indecisive. She has an eclectic fashion style and hair that doesn't always do what she wants:
There's also a section written by Clawdeen that introduces her younger sister with some mixed emotions. This is a pretty cliched introduction except for the part where Clawdeen complains that Howleen sometimes eats her shoes. That made me giggle out loud.
Holween's pet is awesome. It's a hedgehog with an orange mohawk named "Cushion." I don't love that name. I would've named him "Scratch."
Here's the cardboard insert removed from the outer box. The dolls are hard to photograph like this, mostly because of the dark colors in the background, but also because there's no sunshine right now:
It's really easy to get them out of the box, except for those dratted plastic ties in their heads. Here they are side-by-side so you can see the height difference in the new body:
|Howleen's hair is so big, they almost look the same height.|
|It looks great for a hard shell suitcase.|
|One of the straps has come unglued.|
|You can get it to open, but it is very stiff and inflexible.|
I didn't even look very hard at Clawdeen when I was in the store. She's an obligatory purchase if you want to have Howleen. I suppose I could resent this trickery on the part of Mattel, but actually this version of Clawdeen is pretty interesting and I am glad I have her:
Her dress has an iridescent green and purple leopard spot top that compliments her hair, and then a simple black skirt with what look like two huge zippers running down either side. The zipper detail is painted on the skirt.
The dress doesn't fit perfectly and has a tendency to do this in back:
|Nobody wants that silhouette.|
Clawdeen's eye makeup is a pale green with glitter accents. I think if just the top of her eye had the green on it, she'd look better, and maybe less like a raccoon. Because the color is so pale, though, I think she pulls it off.
She has light gold lips that balance the glitter around her eyes:
The hair is pretty coarse, but the colors are great. She has rich neon purple hair with green and black stripes around her face.
|The hair is really frizzy.|
Her shoes are fairly unremarkable. They look like they should belong to Cleo, especially with that asymmetrical stocking:
Some more shots of Clawdeen:
|Nothing matches exactly, but everything looks good together.|
Now, introducing Howleen and her crazy orange hair!
She's definitely got some attitude, and an 80's punk look:
There's a lot going on with her outfit. She has a graphic tee shirt, skimpy jean shorts and an odd asymmetrical belt/suspender type of thing running across her chest:
She's wearing an orange necklace with a thick chain and a wolf paw print pendant. I think there's also an "H" on the necklace. The necklace isn't very impressive. It's hard to see what the design is. There's a lot of that orange color and it is starting to hurt my eyes.
She has three contrasting bangles on her right arm that look neat:
|Yikes. Those hands are very intense.|
Over the shirt, she's wearing a cropped hoodie sweatshirt with a colorful wolf print design. The hood has holes for Howleen's ears, but has a hard time covering her big hair:
|Very busy print.|
I like the simpler look of her outfit without the sweatshirt. The tee has a picture of the phases of the moon, and then has a bite mark raggedness to the neckline. I be crazy about it if it were all black:
|Love the moon design.|
From the back:
|Nice print, slightly messy hem.|
So, I am sitting here feeling very judgmental about the theme of the clothes. It's very predictable. I mean, she's a werewolf's daughter, and all of the clothes have wolf paw prints and moons. Bo-ring. Even the color scheme, I'm thinking, wow, this is so Halloween. Then it finally occurs to me. Her name, Howleen, is a play on Halloween. I am so slow sometimes. Now it seems understandable that all of her clothes (and her hair) are Halloween colored.
Her shorts and suspenders aren't very Halloween, although the look is slightly costumey. I'm thinking Mario. Perhaps it is the suspender strap and the blue and yellow color scheme that make my mind go there...or just the fact that I've seen a lot of Mario in my house.
Howleen also has mismatched stockings. She has a long striped stocking on the right and then a short pink net stocking on the left.
|The stockings are great.|
The boots are a bit drab, but the style works well with Howleen's punky image.
Now, let's look at that orange hair, and her cute face.
|Rolling with the homies...|
Something about her eye makeup is too heavy. I am not sure if it's the chunky lines of the blue, or the black of her mascara. I appreciate that the eyeshadow isn't orange or yellow, but I wish it was a bit more subtle. The brown color of her eyes is beautiful and two-toned, but it's getting overpowered by the eye makeup.
She has very pink lips:
She has very tight, frizzy orange and yellow curls that are piled on top of her head to mimic a mohawk. Her wolf ears peek through the hair. Her right ear is a bit droopy. This is a fun detail:
Her left ear has a yellow safety pin earring that matches her yellow hair exactly:
Do you see the black hair in the picture above? Well, Howleen has several black hairs mixed in with her orange and yellow. Despite the Halloween theme, I am not convinced that this is intentional. It doesn't look that great.
|Here you can see other black hairs, and also the plastic tie that got left in her head.|
I also have a problem with the fact that the orange in her hair exactly matches the orange in her necklace, which is precisely the same orange as her tee shirt. Too much matching.
Howleen doesn't sit very gracefully in her tight shorts:
And it's worse from the back:
The backpack fits her pretty well and coordinates with her outfit:
But mine keeps falling off because of that broken strap. It'd be really simple to just glue that back together. Not a big deal.
Howleen's body is quite different:
Her hip joints are not strung. They have a plastic articulation. This doesn't seem to interfere with the flexibility much, and it might reduce the number of dolls with loose hips and pants that get stuck in the hip joints.
She has a slightly more filled out, athletic looking frame, at least in comparison to the normal Monster High body. Not as much of a sway back:
Here she is next to Clawdeen. There is a slight difference in skin tone. Howleen is lighter:
The doll's heads are the same size. Howleen's shorter stature is mostly due to shorter lower legs. Surprisingly, the torsos are the same length:
Howleen has very shapely legs. I like her legs better than the original legs, I think:
This body sits really nicely without clothes:
Strange knee joint. She has the same kind of odd indentation in her lower thigh as Nefera does:
Overall, I like the new body a lot. I like the absence of elastic in the hips, and I think the proportions are good and the more solid frame suits Howleen's tough character.
Here are some shots of Howleen dressed again:
It's difficult to pose those hands in a way that doesn't look threatening.
I mean, those are some serious claws. They're expressive, for sure, but I don't like them as much as the traditional Monster High hands.
|She looks ready to rip my head off.|
Luckily, you can swap hands between these two body types...and you can swap clothes (you can't swap shoes, though):
I think these hands soften her look considerably:
And she sits much better in Clawdeen's dress:
|It's actually a decent length on her!|
Unfortunately, you can only swap clothes in one direction. Howleen's clothes don't fit Clawdeen...or at least those shorts don't fit:
Here are the sisters together. They have some very striking contrasts:
Bottom line? Howleen is pretty cute. I like the new body type, especially because it can share some clothes with the taller girls. I think it is good that Mattel tried a different hand mold, but Howleen's hands are a bit too extreme and they end up limiting her range of expressiveness. In the end, this is not a big deal because Howleen and Clawdeen's hands are interchangeable.
If Howleen's hair color had been a shade darker and her eye makeup a shade lighter, I think I'd really love her look. As it is, the whole doll is a bit too busy and matchy-matchy for me. In contrast, Clawdeen is a pleasant surprise. Despite the bold, bright hair, Clawdeen's look is not overdone because her hair is balanced by a soft makeup palette and a simple dress.
In a way, this is an accurate portrayal of two sisters. The older sister has found a solid image that confidently portrays her personality, while the younger sister is still a bit of a hodge-podge of experimentation. I hope the Howleen character sticks around long enough for us to see her (and Mattel) work out a perfect style.