The first release of Novi Stars includes five characters, each with a different special feature. Mae Tallick is a pink robot who talks, Alie Lectric is a green alien who lights up, Ari Roma is purple with big hair (she smells), Uni Verse is silvery ice-blue and has glitter inside her legs and Nita Light has a white head and a transparent body and glows in the dark. I didn't see Nita Light until yesterday (at Walmart). If I had seen her sooner, she probably would have been my first pick (I love things that glow in the dark), except for the fact that she comes with a big plastic pod and is therefore more expensive than the other dolls.
Of the four dolls available at Target, I knew instantly that I didn't want Ari, the smelly one (even though she has neat-looking purple hair). I also didn't want Mae, the one that talks, because I like to invent personalities for my dolls. So, it was between Alie and Una. Una is the "prettier" of the two, but I was not very impressed with her glitter feature in real life. It just didn't seem that exciting. Also, the glitter was all pooled at the bottom of Una's legs and I knew I would worry about the water leaking out or drying up over time. Besides, Alie is green, which is perfect for my first alien doll:
|"Alie Lectric" Novi Stars doll|
Alie is a little 7 inch doll in a huge box. The box is about the same size as a La Dee Da or a Liv doll box, but the doll is half as big. The box is an asymmetrical plastic tube with lots of decorations. Alie comes with a glow in the dark stand and a little pet. These two accessories don't do much to help fill up the box:
The back of he box is shiny and colorful with decorative cutouts. It's covered with information about this new line:
The Novi Star slogan is, "What on Earth is going on?" This makes me think of another doll line I saw at Toys R Us the other day called "Out of this World." These dolls don't look much like the Novi Stars, but are similar in that they are humanoids from a fictional world, each with their own special feature. The O.O.T.W. dolls' features are hard to discern from the boxes, but I think one of the dolls projects little pictures on the wall and another can answer all of your questions (Magic 8 Ball style?). Those little dolls retail for $9.99.
|What on Earth is up with the capitalization?|
The Novi Stars are, apparently, "here on Earth to try new things, update the fashion trends and make new friends." Why, oh why, does fashion have to be such a huge part of every doll's personality? I mean, I love a fashionable doll, but can't they be, say, rocket scientists who happen to have a good sense of style?
My other problem with the paragraph above is that if Alie is trying to update the fashion styles on Earth, this golden dress might be considered new and trend-setting:
But what she's actually wearing??
That's a black denim dress with pink stitching and a rose accent. That's like, totally going back in time to the 1980s. Believe me, I know.
The back of the box also has some details about Alie, set up in a very similar way to the back of a Monster High box, but nowhere near as creative:
|She blushes in different colors around cute Earth boys.|
The capitalization on the back of this box is out of control. "Earth" is capitalized some of the time, but not always ("Earth math," but then "earth boys," etc.). The name of our planet should always be capitalized. Many of the other capitalization choices seem equally random.
My other grievance with this part of the box is that light years are a unit of distance, not time. Saying that you're "200 Trillion Lights Years" old (all capitalized...) is no better than saying you're five feet old or thirty nautical miles old.
Alie thinks Earth math is easy, but doesn't get static electricity. My two cents? Math is the only thing that probably doesn't change much from galaxy to galaxy, and she's just being lazy with static electricity. Static electricity is simply electrons moving from one thing to another. That's way less complex than, say, space travel.
So, can you tell that I had to start teaching again today? Yeah. I'll stop lecturing and get back to de-boxing.
On one side of the box is a very large picture of Alie. This looks great:
There are several elements of this cartoon version of Alie that I like better than the doll. For starters, the graphic Alie's got attitude (and a better dress).
On the opposite side of the box, there's a hole in the plastic so that you can test out Alie's light-up blushing feature and make sure the batteries haven't worn out yet:
The bright pink plastic handle on the box is supposed to double as a "hairband for you!"--but my kids say it doesn't fit me, so I can't attest to it's functionality. I love the idea of having parts of the box be useful. I don't actually think this box needs a handle, though, so it's a bit of a gimmick overall.
The tabs slide out of slots (there's no tape--it's pretty easy to get them loose) and then the top of the box lifts right off:
Looking down into the box, you can see that the doll is attached via plastic to the back of the tube, which is made out of two layers of cardboard:
The plastic tabs continue down one side of the tube...
...and along the bottom:
So, you can remove the bottom and then just uncurl the whole tube into a long strip of plastic and cardboard with the doll still attached:
More than half of the tube is made of shimmery cardboard, but it's covered with taped-on plastic attachments that hold the doll in place and plastic holders for all of the signs and accessories inside the box. This plastic is a hassle to remove from the cardboard.
When I got to about this stage of opening the box, I began to notice an unpleasant smell. I was outside, so I figured it was some rotting fungus or something like that. It was a sickeningly sweet type of smell. It turns out that the smell was coming from the doll. I specifically did not want the stinky Novi Star, Ari Roma, so this was an irritation. The good news is that now, about three days later, the smell is mostly gone, but I can still get a whiff of it if I put her right up to my nose.
With the box opened up flat like this, it's very easy to get the doll and her two accessories out.
She's tied in there with some clear rubber bands (very easy to cut) and plastic ties across her chest and anchored to her head. The accessories are attached with just the clear rubber bands.
So, while the box is vastly oversized, I do appreciate the originality in the design and the ease with which the doll can be removed.
Here's Alie with her pet and her stand--the pet doesn't stand up:
Alie can stand on her own if you're really, really patient and then don't move or breathe. She also comes with a cute little glow in the dark stand that is easy to use--Alie's shoes just pop into those footprints. The stand is in the shape of, uh, well it's like a cross between a skull, a moon, a flying saucer and a walrus:
The little pet is named Hi-Def (aka Face Plant) and is a hollow plastic pink-winged green alien. It almost looks like a baby version of Alie with wings. Maybe it's like the larval form of this alien species? It has no face, but rather a silver mask (face plant protection?) with a heart in one corner and a crack or something (face plant damage?) in the other corner. Honestly, the pet does nothing for me. Monster High pets are way better.
Here's Alie all by herself. She a cute little alien:
Her hair hides her backpack, which is the source of her color changing abilities:
MGA hair has not been impressing me lately, so I was especially interested in this doll's hair. She has hot pink rooted hair with black strands mixed in. The black hair is underneath the pink and only really visible from the front:
The hair feels pretty good. It's not coarse or tangled or anything, although it does have some white gel in it--more noticeable in some places than others. Alie's hair is styled in an angled cut, with shorter hair in back than in front.
The rooting is fairly thick and she has plenty of hair. I don't think you could put her hair into two ponytails without the scalp showing, but the length of the hair is going to limit styling options anyway.
|Her scalp is painted pink under the hair--no green showing through.|
She has bangs, which are fairly well done, although I tend to prefer dolls without bangs.
She also has a portion of her hair tied into a bow-shaped knot on the left side of her head. The bow is held in place with a clear rubber band and is a bit crispy.
Within about a day, the bow started to come undone:
Her silvery heart-shaped antennae are made out of plastic and can be removed from her head.
With the antennae gone, it is much easier to brush her hair. The hair sheds quite a lot with the first brushing, and is continuing to shed a few days later. I'd say she's usually in the process of losing about ten strands of hair.
I used a Liv brush to brush her hair. Here is how it looked afterwards:
The brush removed a lot of the white gel that was making her hair flaky and hard in places. The hair doesn't lay as flat or look as evenly cut without the gel, but it's much softer to the touch.
Here's a bad patch of the white hair product before I brushed it out--I'm not sure you can fully appreciate it from this picture:
Underneath her hair, Alie has a shimmery green slightly soft vinyl head. The vinyl of her head is green all of the way through, but the glistening finish is painted on. I hope the finish holds up well because it looks great. She has cute little alien/elf ears that are hard to see unless you pull her hair back:
|That's what my puppy's ears look like when he's in trouble...|
|Another reason why she shouldn't have bangs.|
The eyelashes are very, very long at the edges and are caked with golden glitter mascara:
The eyes themselves are really pretty. They have large black pupils with hearts and circles reflected in them. I found it very hard to not have other things reflected in her shiny eyes when I was taking these pictures. I tried to pick shots where you can see the clouds or the sky in her eyes--that's much better than my porch or the breakfast dishes. She has irises that are colored with lilac glitter.
|You, with the back porch in your eyes.|
She has no nose and her mouth has practically no molded contours. It is tiny and green and painted onto a slight protrusion on her lower face:
|The mouth paint on my doll is partially rubbed off.|
Alie's body is made out of a completely different material from her head. Her body is hard plastic and is a translucent lime green color with glitter flecks that are actually within the plastic. Some of the other Novi Stars have glitter glued onto their bodies. I think I prefer the glitter to be inside the plastic so it doesn't get all over the place.
I wanted to get a better look at the body, but one of Alie's hands was stitched to her dress, which made her pretty immobile:
|There was also a little plastic tie holding the two sides of the dress together.|
I got that hand free...
...and then noticed that the other side of her dress is plastic-tied together, too. Why? Good question.
Here she is with both ties removed. The dress hangs much more naturally this way:
So, anyway, I was playing with this doll's articulation, admiring the ball and socket joint of her neck that allows her to look up and down in addition to side-to-side...
|I have alien feet!|
|I have alien fingers!|
I'm no expert, but maybe it's normal for alien heads to fall off? In any case, I did find the wayward head handy for getting a better look at the body. Without all of that hair, you can clearly see her arms, dress and backpack:
She has three points of articulation--both of her shoulders and her neck. The arms rotate around a peg articulation, but they are also hinged and can lift up and down:
The backpack is much easier to appreciate with Alie's head gone. It is made out of gold colored plastic and has a riveted heart and some gears and knobs that give it a steampunk feel. I don't think the black denim dress looks steampunk at all, though, so I am confused about the overall theme of her outfit. The backpack is cute, but I wish it looked like cool alien technology or something, not just a collage of recycled ideas.
|80s teen steampunk monster fashion.|
The backpack is the source of Alie's colorful blushing. The rectangular peg is actually a small light that inserts into Alie's back and lights up her hollow, translucent body. The light is controlled by a heart-shaped button on the side of the pack:
It shines a green light most of the time:
It also cycles briefly through yellow:
And will flash deep red for a millisecond before going back to green:
The dress is very small and simple, but seems well made. The only area that concerns me is around Alie's waist, where the fabric is unraveling outside the pink stitches. If the unraveling stops at the stitches, it'll be fine (it looks like a fringe), but if the unraveling continues under the stitches and up into the bodice...that would be bad.
The dress is held in place with two separate strips of velcro which fasten around the opening that holds the backpack:
Aside from the huge tag, the inside of the dress is neat and tidy. The only area that isn't hemmed is the backpack hole--that's just a hole cut in the fabric with no stitching.
Alie's legs are completely unarticulated, but her shoes are removable. I'm not sure why this surprised me, but it did.
The shoes are simple, but they're made out of an attractive sparkling gold flexible vinyl.
I'm guessing that all of the Novi Star shoes will all have to be this basic shape in order to work with the stands.
Here's the body with all of the clothing removed (well, except that bracelet, which is still tied on...). To me, this looks like a tall alien with a tiny little head:
|Greetings, big-headed Earth creatures!|
She has high heeled arches and four dainty little alien toes:
The peg and hinge articulation of the shoulders is very easy to see with the translucent plastic body. The pegs and hinges are made out of a white-colored plastic.
The arms pull out really easily:
The arm joints seem really fragile to me. Those pegs are tiny. I wonder how they will hold up over time? With pegs that small, I'm thinking these dolls might have a hard time keeping their arms.
|Reminds me of the early Monster High loose limb problems...|
Here's what the body looks like if you attach the backpack and turn on the light:
The light does not lock in the "on" position, so if you want it on, you have to hold the button down. This will make it hard to play with this doll with her light on, but I suppose it makes it easier to conserve batteries. Speaking of batteries, the visible screw in the backpack suggests that it is possible to open the backpack and replace the batteries.
|A Happy Meal toy wouldn't have that feature.|
With three points of articulation, Alie doesn't have a lot of poses to show you. She seems more like a little figurine than a doll--more for display than for play.
|A simple ponytail shows off her ears.|
It's really fun to use her light-up feature in the dark, though. She'd make an amazing little night light:
This is undoubtedly a unique doll. I like to see something creative and different on the market. Aside from the Out of This World dolls (which look much more human), I can't think of a single other mainstream alien style doll, with maybe the exception of some toys that were made from movie characters.
In addition to being unique, this doll is also really cute, and has the added fun of a special light-up feature. I am slightly tempted to see what the special features of the other dolls are like. What I keep coming back to, though, is that this isn't a $20 doll. I'll admit that she's better than a Happy Meal toy, but does this look like a $20 haul to you?
Value is relative, so let's look at a couple of other dolls for size and value comparisons:
|Barbie Chelsea ($7), Alie ($20), Liv doll ( $20).|
Here are a few more dolls thrown into the mix:
|Lagoona ($14), Dee ($20), Chelsea, Alie and Liv.|
Even between these two...
|Alie and S'Mores ($10).|
Bottom line? This is a simpler assessment than I thought it would be. There's nothing strikingly wrong with the concept or the quality of this doll. Both are fine...for a ~$10 toy. The hair sheds a bit, but it's better than a lot of other MGA hair I have seen recently. The body is hollow plastic with virtually no articulation, but it's a sparkly green color and has a light-up feature that's fun to look at. The head comes off a bit too easily, but it has a cute design with great ears and fancy inset eyes. The arms also come off easily, and although this hasn't been a problem for my doll, the construction makes me nervous about the long term durability of these joints. The idea of an alien doll is unique, and this doll is a cute, quirky manifestation of that idea. If this was a line of $8-$12 dolls, I'd find them charming... and perhaps even slightly addictive.
It's the $20 price tag on this doll that ruins the fun for me. I feel like I'm being played. The expressive, creative and posable Monster High dolls are easily worth $20, especially when they come with pets and great outfits. The new Cutie Pops are worth $20 because of the mix-and-match fun they offer and the sheer number and quality of parts that you get in the box. You know I think Liv dolls are worth more than $20, with their unrivaled articulation, well-made and realistic clothing, and their gorgeous wigs. Just because Alie comes in a big box and shares a shelf with these $20 dolls doesn't put this little plastic alien in the same league.
4 and up because of small parts.
Overpriced at $20.
Decent quality with the following issues: head comes off easily, occasional paint defects, body is unarticulated hollow hard plastic, hair sheds, arms could fall off.
Interesting new tube-style box that is easy to open. Box is oversized with a lot of plastic decorations.
No. This is a play doll.
This doll has a unique design but is not very versatile. She can’t move much and relies on her stand for stability. This is more of a figurine than a doll.
If this doll were half its price, I would recommend it as a fun and quirky addition to the fall doll lineup. I just don’t think the doll has the quality, playability or staying power to be worth $20.