I think the original announcement of this news is the article written over at Bratz Boulevard. It's a great article with an optimistic long-term perspective, but it leaves me with some head-scratchers. First of all, it doesn't seem like a real hiatus if the dolls are are still being developed and sold in other countries. Does that mean that there will be some new Bratz dolls in other parts of the world, but they'll just be harder to get in the United States...perhaps with higher shipping costs? There's some equity here, given that the situation is usually reversed. The other thing that doesn't make sense to me is that quality is being cited as a reason for the re-invention of the brand. I don't know much about Bratz dolls, but I have quite a few Bratzillaz, and while the quality of these dolls was not great at first (Meygana's hair...ugh!), I have seen steady improvement over the last few years.
After hearing about MGA's decision, I'll admit that I did a bit of panicked Bratzillaz hoarding. I went to Amazon and ordered a few dolls from the Back to Magic series and a few from the Witchy Princesses line (they're all on sale!). All of my new dolls impressed me from inside their boxes. It was actually quite difficult to choose a single doll to review, so I decided to show you a doll from each group. Here are Angelica Sound (from the Witchy Princesses, $12.95) and Illiana Honesty (from Back to Magic, $13.98):
|Bratzillaz, "Angelica Sound" (L) and "Illiana Honesty" (R).|
The reason I am excited about this particular group of dolls is that they all come with bird cage hats...
...that glow in the dark.
|Bird GLOWS in the dark! Score!|
Can I just say, it's hard for me to imagine a company having trouble with sales when they're offering dolls with glowing bird cage hats.
I have always liked the style of the Bratzillaz box art. These cartoon versions of the characters are even prettier than the dolls. Angelica's drawing is especially nice because of the adorable little (glowing!) bird in her hat:
|He looks kinda sad, though.|
This wave of Bratzillaz features three princesses who were trapped inside of a book by the jealous Tona Toola. The other Bratzillaz hear the princesses' birds crying out, and this launches them on an adventure to find and rescue the princesses.
The princesses are named Carolina Past, Siernna Calmer and Angelica Sound. Each princess has a special power: Carolina can see into the past (I can see into the past, too, or at least the past few weeks), Siernna has the power to keep anyone calm (I wish I could do that) and Angelica has the power to manipulate sound (I frequently say "hush" to my dogs, but it doesn't do anything).
|Carolina actually has side-glancing eyes that look to the right.|
I have seen all of the Witchy Princess dolls in the stores, and I think Angelica and Carolina are the prettiest. Siernna has very pale forward-glancing eyes that make her look crazed. Also, what is up with that name? If anyone out there is named Siernna, please accept my apologies, but to me, this sounds like the drunken pronunciation of "Sienna"...or like how people might say that name here in Maine.
The box design for Bratzillaz has not changed much over the years from what I can tell. It is still fairly easy to pull off the plastic front of the box, which gives excellent access for removing the doll and her accessories. Angelica does not come with a stand, which is too bad. The Magic Night Out dolls came with stands, so I assumed that only the basic dolls like the Midnight Beach crew would be without them. Angelica does come with the useless plastic broom brush, though:
The only difficult parts of Angelica's de-boxing were the three (three!) plastic ties in her head, and this fancy hair-control extravaganza:
|Rows and rows of pink thread and plastic supports on either side of the head. Sheesh.|
Here's Angelica out of her box (I pitched the brush):
I was extremely eager to get a close look at the bird cage hat. It's a small domed cage attached to a black headband:
Siernna's hat has a different design, with a larger cage that's missing a floor--it just sits directly on the doll's head. Personally, I would not wear a bird cage hat unless the cage offered some line of protection between me and the bird. I have four birds, and I've seen what kind of mess they can make. No thank you.
Angelica and Carolina's birds have smaller, fully-enclosed cages. There's even a molded door area (but it doesn't open):
The bird is a very pale glow-in-the-dark greenish yellow color and has no painted details. He's a little hard to see through the chunky bars of the cage. He has bits of black string (hair? Plastic?) stuck on him in some areas--the most obvious one is on his beak:
Fortunately, the cage comes apart very easily (without breaking anything) and so I could remove the bird for a clearer picture:
This little guy doesn't glow very much--certainly nowhere near as brightly as what is suggested in the commercial. I tried to get some pictures of him glowing, but the light was too faint and it faded too quickly. This was a slight disappointment, but I'm still thrilled with the fact that he glows at all.
The cage sits off to one side of the headband, so Angelica has to wear the hat on one side of her head or the other. It doesn't fit on the left side because one of her hair twists sits too far back:
But it fits perfectly on the right:
Angelica has great hair. There's no comparison between this hair and the hair on the first wave Bratzillaz dolls. Her hair is very long and slightly wavy, yet it's not at all difficult to manage. The fiber is soft and smooth and has a fun two-toned sugary pink color that reminds me of Ever After High Cupid.
I love the three hair twists at the top of Angelica's head. This is a simple style that could easily be taken down, but it doesn't get in the way of brushing the back of the hair, and it adds a quirky element of fun to the character's style.
The only problem with this hair is that each twist is tied off with a clear rubber band that leaves a short section of hair hanging down the back of Angelica's head. Two of these sections are beautifully blended in with the longer hair, but on my doll one of the ends sticks out quite a bit and is hard to tame:
Angelica has pale pink side-glancing eyes with heavy eyeshadow. Her eyebrows are simple black lines, but she has some additional scrolling embellishments decorating her left eye:
Her eyeshadow has three bands: a pale outer band that starts right below her eyebrows, a thin middle band of bright pink, and a layer of dark burgundy above her eyes.
The eyes are very unique. The irises are pale pink with darker pink spikes and squiggles. The design almost looks like flames in some places:
Angelica's lips are painted a very dark maroon color with an overlaying clear shimmery gloss:
Angelica's black earrings have the same design as Fianna's earrings:
Because Bratzillaz dolls have no hope of standing on their own, Angelica borrowed a Kurhn doll saddle stand so that I could get a better look at her outfit:
I think my doll came with her shoes on the wrong feet:
Angelica is wearing a very simple gold cape over her dress:
The cape is too short to be dramatic, and it's made out of a very stiff, wrinkle-prone material:
The cape has a simple, cut-out shape with unfinished edges. There is a single tuck at the back of the cape, giving it a tiny bit of extra volume:
The cape has a velcro collar decorated with gold ribbon trim:
The main body of the dress is made out of a thick paisley print fabric. It has an asymmetrical neckline that is decorated with an intentionally lopsided band of lace. The sleeves are gathered with elastic into a small puff and have ragged-cut edges:
The bulk of the skirt is made from two layers of tulle that sit on top of a very simple black underskirt. The tulle is covered at the top with a short paisley skirt that is longer in back than it is in front. Another band of paisley is draped across the lower part of the skirt in front, leaving a small window of visible tulle:
I love this dress, but the white lace is my least favorite part. I think that the dress needs some kind of light-colored accent along the neck, but the lace blocks too many of the dress' great details. It's easier to see those details with the lace tucked out of the way like this:
Notice the seamed bodice and the funky drape of the paisley skirt. I especially like how the back of the skirt is horizontally pleated into three tiers:
The high sides of the skirt reveal the ragged layers of black and pink tulle:
Angelica is wearing silky, baggy thigh-high stockings with a patchwork print design:
|Ill-fitting stockings...but they're easy to get on!|
The black high-heeled shoes are made out of soft vinyl and are fairly unremarkable.
Angelica has a typical Bratzillaz body with rubbery legs and 12 points of articulation (without the dancing movement of the Magic Night Out dolls). She has opalescent white painted underpants and no witch mark:
Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Angelica:
You can see that pesky strand of hair that is often sticking out...
The cape really doesn't add anything to her look, but I took a few more pictures of her wearing it anyway:
The bird hat can be cumbersome (especially if Angelica is trying to keep her pet's perch flat!):
But all things considered, it's a pretty incredible fashion accessory:
The Witchy Princesses were at Toys R Us and Target for quite a while (they went on massive clearance at Target after Christmas) but I have only ever seen the newer Back to Magic Girls at Toys R Us. In fact, these dolls only recently showed up in that store--after I had already purchased my doll on Amazon.
The dolls from the Back to Magic series that tempted me the most were Meygana (my favorite Bratzillaz character) and the newer exchange student characters, Victoria Antique and Illiana Honesty. Of these three, Illiana Honesty seemed the most unique:
Again, there is lovely box art showing off Illiana's sparkling face paint and fabulous purple eyes:
The back of the box has a little bit of information about Illiana. She is an exchange student from a "different part of the world" (India), and her special power is being able to make everyone tell the truth:
This wave includes Meygana, Jade, Sashabella, Illiana and the exchange student from China, Victoria Antique. Victoria has the power to make old things new again. I understand Illiana's name--it's not Indian, but it's a play on, "in all honesty." Ha ha. Ha. The roots of Victoria's name are not so clear to me. Victoria is certainly not a Chinese name, and I don't see any way that it relates to her power, either. A quick search of Chinese names revealed that Xin (sounds a bit like "seen") means "new." That's what I'm naming my Victoria doll.
I've seen all of these dolls in person except for Jade. They're all nice (Meygana is amazing), but I noticed that Sashabella's outfit looks cheaper than the others, and her angle-cut bangs are a little odd.
Illiana does not come with a stand, either. Her only accessory is that dang brush. I wish she came with her adorable elephant pet! Sadly, this is only a cardboard cutout:
I can't find the elephant's name anywhere, but she's so cute. And pink:
The cutout on Illiana's left is a potion bottle with a stream of purple smoke that's supporting a book:
The book says "Tales of Texture" or maybe, "Tales & Texture:"
Each Back to Magic doll has a different textbook displayed next to them in their box, which for some reason is fascinating to me. I had to find out what all of the books are:
Sashabella: "Exotic Animal Languages"(fun!)
Meygana: "Broom Gymnastics." (awesome)
Victoria: "The Science of Brew and Renew." (I like science...)
Jade: "Fashion Magic" (ho-hum)
The most difficult part of getting Illiana out of her box were the two (two!) itty bitty little plastic ties hidden behind the pink elephant.
Here's Illiana out of her box:
|She really needs an elephant to keep her company.|
Illiana's witch mark is a pretend henna tattoo on her hand (she actually has this same tattoo on both hands):
I used an old Bratzillaz stand for Illiana--it works well with her bare midriff:
Illiana has very long, thick black hair with golden tinsel strands in it. I wish the tinsel wasn't permanently part of the hair. They could have just braided a few gold ribbons into this hairstyle and it would have had a similar effect. The hair is pretty messy right out of the box, with scraggly flyaways going everywhere.
Illiana also has a little gold witch had perched absurdly on the side of her head:
|It looks like a sugar cone suctioned to her head.|
The hat position is just ridiculous. I mean, clearly the hairstyle doesn't accommodate a hat, so the solution is simple: scrap the hat and add an elephant instead!
|Would you like sprinkles with that?|
This hat clearly had to come off, but it's actually stitched into the doll's hair (probably the only way to keep it in that gravity-defying position). I had to hunt down my super-small delicate scissors for this job..which took a while...so there'll be a few more pictures with the hat. Sorry.
Illiana has metallic gold plastic earrings (these are the same as Magic Night Out Meygana's earrings).
I think Illiana has a wonderful face. She has side-glancing sparkly purple eyes with five shades of eyeshadow. In addition, she has a symmetrical design of gold dots around her eyes:
She has shimmering gold, red, pink and white layers of eyeshadow above each eye, and a turquoise accent underneath each eye:
These eyes were very difficult to photograph. They are filled with glitter, but also have a faint white forked swirl pattern similar to what is in several of the other Bratzillaz eyes:
These eyes are not quite as amazing as Magic Night Out Meygana's eyes (which are probably my all-time favorites), but they're still pretty great. Here is my Meygana's eye, for comparison:
And Illiana's eye again...just for fun:
Illiana has deep red lips with a large patch of pink on her lower lip. This seems like an odd design choice, but it actually looks good from a distance, and it makes the lower lip seem shiny and less huge:
I finally found my scissors and cut the
sugar cone hat off, but Illiana's hair is still a mess:
She's wearing most of her hair in a high ponytail, but there's a small section of hair that is braided and wrapped around the ponytail holder. This looks great:
The end of the ponytail does not look so great--there are some extremely scraggly ends:
I left the small ornamental braid in place but unbraided the larger section of hair to see what the texture is like...and to neaten it up a little.
The hair was very smooth and calm at first, but when I brushed it...it came to life:
As you can see, the tinsel strands are only on the top part of the hair, and there aren't very many of them. The tinsel actually doesn't detract from the hair very much.
|Now that is impressive hair.|
This hair feels coarser at the ends than Angelica's hair, but it has basically the same texture, and it's certainly nice and thick. The volume reminds me of Zombie Rapunzel's hair.
My re-done braid is not much better than the original:
Illiana is wearing a cute sari-inspired outfit that consists of a cropped choli-style top, red plaid pantaloons (that remind me of Arabian harem pants) and a gauzy sash. My doll's outfit has pants that ride up higher on the left side. I am not sure if this is intentional or not.
The sash attaches at the doll's side with a small square of black velcro:
Unlike Angelica's wrinkled cape, this sash has some nice details and it adds flair to Illiana's outfit. It is made out of a sheer rose colored fabric, woven with gold thread accents to give it a subtle shine:
The sash wraps over Illiana's shoulder and then trails down her back. The section in the back has several pleats, giving it a nice thickness and some shape. The front of the sash is also pleated twice, and decorated with the familiar Academy crest that we saw with the first wave dolls:
Without the sash, you can see Illiana's pink blouse more clearly...and the impressive volume of her pants!
When I removed the pants, I was able to stretch them out and pull them into a reasonably symmetric shape, so I think the lopsidedness in these pants is just a fluke--probably just how the doll was packaged.
The pants are made out of a shiny plaid fabric with paisley accents. The waist and pant legs are finished with gold trim:
The waistline of the pantaloons is pleated and sewn like a kilt, giving the pants their ballooning volume:
There's a small gauze strap inside the pants to keep them from riding up:
Illiana is wearing gold high-heeled sandals:
Illiana has a standard Bratzillaz body. She is the same shade as Sashabella, and wears white painted underwear.
Here are some of my favorite pictures of Illiana. First, she was trying to demonstrate some classical Indian dance moves...
But then just gave up and worked the camera:
|Can't touch this.|
|I call this the "Superman" pose.|
And here's one last reminder of how cute Angelica is:
Bottom line? I was reluctant to review my first Bratzillaz doll back in 2012, and the horrendous quality of that doll's hair could have easily kept me away from this line for good. However, I have gradually eased my way into becoming a full-blown fan of these strange witchy charmers. A steady increase in quality and a good mix of new characters has kept the line exciting and fun for me. Illiana and Angelica are no exception to this trend. In my opinion, the right combination of hair, eyes and outfit is what makes a great Bratzillaz doll. Many of my previous Bratzillaz have fallen short in at least one of these categories. Despite tiny blips in quality here and there, Illiana and Angelica deliver quite well on all fronts. They are both easily worth their current $13-$15 price.
With all the talk of MGA's plans for this year, I have not heard anything about the specific fate of the Bratzillaz. Perhaps they will be revamped and re-released for 2015 along with their Bratz cousins? Who knows--maybe they will be unaffected by the hiatus completely. It also seems possible, though, that we are seeing the end of this line. If that turns out to be the case, count me among those who will be quite sad to see them go.