The Freaky Fusion collection is small (so far...), but awesome. The first releases are three hybrid monsters based on characters from an upcoming DVD. There is Siren von Boo, who is part mermaid and part ghost, Bonita Femur, a mix of skeleton and moth...and Avea Trotter, who is half centaur and half harpy. Bonita is my least favorite, just because I couldn't really figure out what she was supposed to be by looking at her. Siren is gorgeous, with incredible-looking long purple hair, a luminescent torso and a fancy silver tail. But Avea...she is my easy favorite.
I'll admit that I have been losing some of my interest in Monster High lately. Many of the newer dolls are great if I look at them individually, but as a group they all blur together. The Freaky Fusion line is a breath of fresh air. All three dolls are complicated and interesting to look at, and Avea stands out from the usual Monster High crowd like a neon sign. She is large, colorful, stylish, freaky, and, in my opinion, exactly the doll Monster High needed to rekindle the magic in this franchise.
|Freaky Fusion "Avea Trotter," $24.99.|
The basic construction of the Freaky Fusion boxes is the same as the traditional boxes, but they are slightly larger and have a new jagged shape that makes them easy to spot on the shelf:
The box art is great--making Avea look sinister (like a harpy) and seductive (like a horse):
So, in biology a hybrid is the result of mating two closely related species--like a lion and a tiger. Technically, Avea is a mix of three different animals, since a centaur is already a hybrid. However, I think some creative license is allowed here since harpies and centaurs aren't even real in the first place.
The back of the box has a layout similar to the Frights, Camera, Action! doll boxes:
There's a brief description of the movie on the back of the box. Basically, the Monsters find an old scientist's workshop that sends them back in time. In an attempt to get home, they go through a vortex that fuses some of the ghouls together. It would have been fun if some of the better-known ghouls had fused together--like a Clawdeen with an extra Ghoulia head or something. Oh, well.
There's also a full-bodied graphic of Avea:
|I like her wings in this picture.|
And a short bio stating that she's stubborn, likes to run a lot, and enjoys equestrian haute couture:
The bottom of the box marks this doll as coming from Indonesia, which is excellent news:
|No glue-filled head.|
Avea is attached to an elaborate cardboard background and comes with a yellow brush and a journal:
|4 legs = no stand!|
Here's the background with Avea removed:
It features a picture of the electrified vortex and the scientist's workshop from the movie.
Here's Avea with her journal.
I skimmed the journal and two things stood out to me: the image of Avea running fast and using her wings to catch the wind. That sounds really fun. Also, I saw the name "Neighthan Rot" and got really, really excited about a possible boy centaur/zombie type character...but Neighthan actually has a regular human body. Bummer. A boy centaur would be incredible.
Also, Avea's favorite color is red, but she's wearing pink. Red would have looked more equestrian, I think. Avea's outfit looks complex, and includes vinyl harnesses that extend over the horse part of her body:
Her upper body is particularly dense with clothing and accessories: she's wearing a feathered hat with a chin strap, a blue shirt with a ruffled collar, a pink plaid jacket, wings, two bracelets, painted gloves, and a long chained belt:
|There's a lot going on.|
I felt a little overwhelmed by Avea's complex outfit, so I decided to start at her head and work my way down, removing and inspecting all of the pieces as I went.
The design of her hat is very clever. It is a black top hat (a typical costume for dressage-seat equitation) with four decorative pink feathers and a chin strap that matches the harnesses in the rest of the outfit.
|Like a bridle with no bit.|
The vinyl strap attaches with a peg and hole closure under Avea's chin:
Without the hat it's easier to see Avea's horse ears and the shape of her face:
Her eyelashes are colorful feathers, which is one of this doll's harpy features:
The feathers are veined in black and colored in a stained glass style with red, green, and pink.
The outer edges of the eyes have two plumes that curve dramatically up and down:
Avea has dark purple lips with a subtle smile. I am not crazy about purple eyebrows and purple lips in general (the dolls look short on oxygen). The lips are nice on this doll, though, because they are quite dark and rich, but the eyebrows are lighter and I wish they were done in a contrasting color--like a blue that matches her hair and tail.
The wings are another harpy feature. They are short and curve over the doll's shoulders. There's so much going on with this doll, thought, the wings get a little lost. They hide behind her thick ponytail and get in the way of her arm movement.
Also, they don't stay in very well. As soon as I removed the clear rubber band, one of the wings fell off:
The wings have a different color scheme from the rest of the doll. They are shimmery black with teal tips. Since purple is not my favorite color for Monster High dolls, I wish Avea's whole body had this dark, metallic color palette. I think that would have looked incredible.
The wings have really nice feather details on both sides:
Here is Avea without her hat and wings. She almost looks like a standard Monster High doll from this view:
|Horse legs? What do you mean?|
There's still a lot going on in this region with Avea's layered, belted shirts and harness.
The belt can be detached from the larger harness by unfastening two pegs:
The belt also closes at the back of Avea's waist:
With these three attachment points unfastened, the belt can be separated from the rest of the harness and removed. It has a long chain-shaped decoration in the front, with a hanging horseshoe:
Here's Avea without her belt:
The turquoise shirt's ruffled collar sticks up way above the jacket's lapels and hangs down about an inch below the jacket's hem. I like this layered effect:
The jacket is made out of a stiff, shiny pink plaid material. It has several wrinkles, but also some intentional tailoring that's a little hard to see in these pictures. The sleeves are cuffed, and the jacket has a high-waisted seam that is pleated on the top.
The jacket closes in front with a small piece of velcro.
Here you can see the basic shape of the jacket, with it's large wing hole, folded collar, and pleated bust:
I am not in love with the pink plaid jacket, but the underlying turquoise blouse is wonderful. This piece is made out of a soft, floaty, chiffon-like fabric and has pretty lines.
It gracefully accommodates the wings with a low back. The ruffled collar attaches to a fitted tank top bodice and is balanced by the full, draping babydoll style of the shirt:
I was very excited to discover that under her shirts, Avea is sporting a new, articulated torso:
This joint can tip forwards and backwards a little, and can turn from side to side quite a lot:
There's a faint molded fur (feather?) pattern at the intersection of the torso and the horse body:
Here is the extent of the forward and backward movement--it's not extensive:
And here is Avea rotating her chest to the left...
...and to the right:
Avea's lower arms have a feathery pattern on the underside:
Her hands each have painted black riding gloves with decorative turquoise ruffles:
One of the bracelets is a purple spiral with an eyelet pattern and a molded buckle:
The other bracelet is a simple red band with a buckled strap:
Now for the most exciting thing about this doll--the horse body! I have to say, I almost squealed when I saw the articulation. I like Headless Headmistress Bloodgood's horse, Nightmare, but her lack of articulation seems out of character with the Monster High line.
But...I am getting ahead of myself. First, let me show you the harness. It is made out of black vinyl and is decorated with chains and horseshoes:
This piece of tack rides up in the back a little bit. Perhaps it is meant to do this, but it looks unnatural to have it levitating off the horse's back. It should lay flat as though it were made out of heavy leather and chains.
The harness can be unfastened by releasing a peg underneath Avea's belly. Here's the removed harness:
Avea is also wearing four black leg wraps:
These were rubber-banded to the legs when the doll was in her box.
These wraps fall off fairly easily, especially when the legs are being flexed.
Each wrap has six buckles painted in silver:
The straps do not extend all of the way around the wraps, but stick out a few centimeters on each side to grab the leg:
At last...here is Avea with all of her clothing and tack removed (the tail wrap does not come off):
The horse body has eight joints, giving Avea a grand total of sixteen points of articulation. Impressive.
Avea's body is purple, and she has lavender skullette dapples on the left side of her rump and at the top of her right foreleg:
She has a long-legged, slender body with good muscular detail.
Avea's shoulder joints are hinges that are most noticeable from the back:
She can swing each leg forwards and backwards through a range of about 120 degrees:
Her knee joints are also hinged, and they bend inwards to just over 90 degrees:
The front fetlocks also have hinges and can bend just past 90 degrees:
Avea's hooves have feathered coronary bands--literally. This is another one of her harpy features. The underside of the hooves is hollowed out with a realistic shape:
The back legs are only articulated at the hip, and can move backwards and forwards. As fond as I am of articulation, I think limiting the joints in the back legs was a good move. This gives Avea nice stability, and it avoids the funny backward-bending hocks that some toy horses have.
Here's Avea with her front and back legs extended as far as they will go:
And here they are pushed as close together as they will go:
In several of the pictures in this review (like the one directly above), Avea has the help of a supporting string so that she can demonstrate her running positions. However, her unassisted balance is quite good, and there are many poses that she can do without any help at all--particularly anything that keeps at least three of her hooves on the ground.
Avea's hair is bright blue with streaks of turquoise. It's a gorgeous color, and the fiber is shiny and straight with a slight wave. Avea comes wearing a single high ponytail:
The hair was pretty messy right out of the box, but a quick brushing helped:
Here's a picture of the color up close so that you can see the highlights:
The hair is rooted nicely and feels very thick and full.
The rooting is especially dense around each ear:
Here's a close-up of one of the ears. They have a nice pointed horse shape:
The hair brushes out well, and seems to have a thin coating of styling conditioner--not the white flaky product that makes the hair stiff and hard, but a smoothing agent that adds some slickness without being at all greasy.
The hair is cut in long layers and looks great. My doll's hair has a slight kink where the tight black rubber bands used to be, so I decided to give her a very quick boil wash.
After the boil wash, I had some trouble brushing the hair out--my brush kept getting stuck. It turns out that there were about five tight knots in the hair, and after I pulled these out, brushing was easy.
I really like her straightened, smooth hair. She reminds me of Lady Godiva like this:
Once her hair was dry, I put her back in the wonderful turquoise shirt:
Avea stands at about the same height as the traditional Monster High dolls. Her lack of shoes makes her slightly shorter. Here she is with first wave Clawdeen and Honey Swamp. Honey's hair makes her height a little hard to determine...
|Clawdeen, stop gawking and look at the camera.|
Several changes were made in body style between these two equines. Avea has smaller, less flattened hooves than Nightmare, and she does not have the strange hollowed areas in her upper limbs. Avea's limbs are proportionally longer an skinnier, which fits nicely with the general body type of the Monster High dolls.
Of course the most critical difference is Avea's wonderfully articulated limbs:
The only other centaur doll I have for comparison is the MiM centaur. As fond as I am of my MiM doll, the horse body is a disaster. It is completely out of proportion to MiM's torso, and the articulation is unnatural and awkward.
It took forever to pose this picture because MiM kept toppling over.
I wanted to compare Avea to my Rainbow Dash Equestria Girl, too, because both dolls have humanoid faces that are supposed to resemble horses.
I like Rainbow Dash, but her features seem more cat-like to me. I think Avea's tall, pointed ears and wide mouth make a big difference.
For Boat McBoatington: Here's a picture of Jane Boolittle with Avea. Their vinyl is almost the same color, but Jane is slightly darker...and I slightly prefer her skin tone because of that.
I really like the design of Avea's body. Even when she's not wearing anything, she's a fun, good-looking doll. I don't want to display her naked, but I do like the idea of her in a minimal top that shows off her shape. Here she is in the tank top from the Create-A-Monster mermaid set:
|The colors work well on her.|
I love how even in the simplest possible outfit, this doll is really exotic-looking and fun to play with. Mattel got the basics just right here.
The fun thing about Avea's wardrobe is that there are a lot of different combinations to try. She can wear just her blue shirt:
Which also looks good with the harnesses and wings:
For Aralis: she can also wear just the pink jacket, but it's pretty low cut and a little loose:
Here she is in both of her shirts and her hat, but without the harnesses:
She gives off a bit of a circus vibe in this look, I think:
Another fun combination I found was to put Avea in Clawdia Wolf's red jacket. This jacket is a bright, true red and is much more typical of equestrian fashion than pink plaid:
It's neat how a jacket that I didn't think worked for Clawdia at all looks amazing on Avea:
While I enjoy many of the outfit pieces, I think my favorite look for Avea is when she's wearing just the blue shirt. She's easy to pose like this, and I enjoy the simple balance of colors:
Bottom line? Well, it's pretty simple actually, but before I give you the simple version, let me point out a few specific problems and highlights.
The outfit is a little cluttered, but I love the design. The harness theme is brilliant--especially how it carries through to the strap of the top hat. The layered shirts create a very equestrian-like cravat and jacket look, yet the underlying turquoise shirt is lovely and feminine on its own. The pink jacket is my least favorite piece of clothing, and I think it's because of the pink color. I wish the jacket and hat feathers were bright red instead...but perhaps that would have been too conventional. I really like the look of the black leg wraps, but wish they stayed on better during posing. I had a few moments while I was dressing this doll where I wondered how younger kids would fare. Avea's long hair and large body can make manipulating the harness and shirts slightly tricky. Given the complexity of this outfit, though, it's pretty well-designed and user-friendly.
Avea's physical features are better than I could have hoped. Her face has a slightly severe look to it (especially when compared side-by-side to Siren and Bonita) but she is convincingly horsey and has a sassy personality. Her eye makeup is great, but I'd prefer a different eyebrow color. In fact, I might have chosen a different color palette for her completely, mostly because purple-faced dolls tend to look washed out to me--especially against my grey background. I wouldn't change her hair, though. It is a glorious two-toned blue color. It is thick and long and the fiber is soft and easy to manage. The centaur body is fantastic. It has a wonderful shape, great balance and it poses very realistically. The skullette dapples are a fun touch, as are the feathered, realistic hooves. The added torso articulation in the human body is brilliant and contributes significantly to the range of poses.
If Avea has a weakness, it's her harpy features. First of all, there aren't too many of them: just the wings, the hooves, the lower arms and the eye makeup. All of these features look great, but they don't add up to give a strong sense of bird-ness. Also, the wings aren't large enough to be really dramatic, and they fall out too easily to be practical during play. As much as I love the idea of a flying horse, I prefer Avea without her wings, and without her wings she's still amazing.
Avea's price is perfect. At $24.99 she doesn't cost much more than other Monster High dolls, and yet her horse body and complex outfit offer more than the usual amount of fun.
So that's the detailed picture, but as I said, the bottom line is simple. Halfway through this review, as I was posing Avea and playing with her different outfit combinations, it hit me like a brick...and I wouldn't say this without being sure: this is my favorite Monster High doll of all time.