Friday, September 18, 2015

Create-A-Bratz by MGA Entertainment

This is the first Bratz doll review I've ever written, which feels strange given the impact of this brand in recent play doll history.  I like MGA's spin-off Bratzillaz dolls, but have never been a great admirer of Bratz themselves--mostly because of their bratty, haughty image (brace yourself for some hypocrisy on that statement later on, though).  My feelings about Bratz dolls started to change after Samehch's 2014 guest overview.  Seeing the dolls through Samehch's eyes gave me a new appreciation for these personality-packed, fashionable characters.  In fact, I've actually purchased a few Bratz dolls for my collection in the past year.

At the time of that guest review, MGA had just put the Bratz line on hiatus in the United States market, preparing for a big 2015 re-release.  Bratz dolls continued to be sold in other countries during this hiatus.  The overseas selection during this time included a wonderfully clever and creative Bratz idea: the Duct Tape Fashion dolls.  As a person whose wallet is made completely out of Duct Tape, I heartily approve of this concept.  There's a very charming video review of Duct Tape Yasmin on YouTube.  Even though this particular video doesn't show how the Duct Tape customization works, I highly recommend watching it anyway--especially the part where the charismatic young reviewer expertly fills time while her poor father de-boxes Yasmin.  It's classic.

When the long-awaited 2015 Bratz dolls finally hit shelves in the United States this summer, I was underwhelmed.  I like the freckle-faced, pink-haired #SelfieSnaps Cloe and a few others, but as a whole, the dolls didn't immediately strike me as being obviously better than their predecessors.  To my unpracticed eye, it wasn't even clear right away what had changed.  However, Target stores have started offering a customizable Bratz doll option that did strike me as different and fun.  Today I will review one of these new Create-A-Bratz girls from Target and compare her to a few other Bratz dolls.  Here's my Create-A-Bratz, who I've named Sadie:

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Create-A-Bratz doll from Target, $49.99.
The Create-A-Bratz concept fits well with MGA's new image for their Bratz dolls, which centers on individuality and being unique.  This is ironic, though, because so many other doll lines are focused on being unique right now.  The whole premise is actually becoming the opposite of unique.

What I found immediately appealing about the Create-A-Bratz concept is that it involves an online customization tool.  This is nothing like the Makie Lab's tool, mind you, it's more equivalent to the old My Twinn "My BFF" customization process...but with more clothing options.  I love things like this.  Incidentally, My Twinn appears to have eliminated both My BFF and (as a friend informed me) all of their darker-skinned dolls.  Thumbs down.

Anyway, you can play with the Create-A-Bratz customization tool at Target.com without buying a doll, but I'll show you some clips from my own shopping experience.

The process does not have too many steps. It's basically:
1. Pick a hair color (red!)
2. Pick an eye color (green!)
3. Agonize over clothing for 45 minutes
4. Pay lots of money
5. Wait for doll to arrive

$52.75 with tax and shipping.
There's no separate option for picking a skin color, but the dolls do have varied skin tones.  For example, the blonde doll is the palest in the group and one of the brunettes has the darkest skin.  It's possible that all of the skin tones are different...I just can't tell from these pictures:

I like that there's a purple eye option!
All of the face molds look the same (as do all of the lip colors).  A lot of kids will be able to design a doll that shares their coloring, but some combinations are not possible.  For example, I'm a pale freckled person with brown hair, and that option doesn't exist.

The other neat thing about the doll-selecting part of Create-A-Bratz is that kids can make (and name) a totally new Bratz character--rather than adding yet another Cloe or Jade to their collections.  On the other hand, when I look at the head choices, above, I see (from left to right): Cloe, Meygan, Jade, Yasmin, and Sasha.  They're not dramatically different.

If planning a wardrobe from scratch feels too daunting, you can select from a bunch of pre-made looks:


Even if you start with this option, it's still possible to change or add anything you want later on.  

I decided to start from scratch and see what I could come up with.  The selection menus look like this:


You can tab between various screens: Dresses, Tops, Jackets, Bottoms and Shoes.  Each of these screens allow you to try items of clothing on your virtual doll to see if you like the way she looks.  Some categories have more options than others.  You can pick one item from each screen to "fill your closet." 

At first I was sure that I wanted Sadie to have this cute pink floral tiered dress:


But then I fell in love with this green jacket...


...and then I wanted everything in Sadie's wardrobe to coordinate with the jacket.  This was tough,  especially because the tiny pictures of the clothing are hard to see.  I literally spent almost an hour trying to pick an outfit.  It was an odd mix of frustrating and addictive.  In the end I had about three wardrobes that I wanted to buy.  It's a very clever marketing tool.

The pieces I chose are not necessarily my favorites from each section, but I was satisfied that they all complimented each other and Sadie well: 
Every doll comes with a basic pink dress and pink sneakers.  I didn't choose those.
Everything gets added to your cart as a bundle, but then appears in the cart as a series of individual (selectable) items.  If you click on an item in the cart, you're taken to a separate page with a nice, close-up picture of that item.  This is great for solidifying final decisions--but unfortunately I didn't realize it was there until after I'd bought my doll.  Here's what the tiered skirt looks like up close:


The clothing pages also have prices.  The tiered dress is listed at $7.00 on it's own...which is way too much money for such a tiny dress, if you ask me...especially because the new Bratz outfit packs cost $13 and come with two complete outfits (including shoes).

The system also makes it theoretically possible to purchase extra clothing without buying another doll.  You just add another doll bundle to the cart and then delete the doll or clothing pieces you don't want.  I don't know if it's actually possible to check out using this method, but you can definitely fill a cart with lots of clothing.

My doll was shipped the day after I placed my order.  I thought there might be a small waiting period involved--to assemble all of the clothing and such--but it was extremely fast.

The other great thing is that these Create-A-Bratz dolls don't come in typical MGA plastic nightmare boxes, they come in attractive closed-front cardboard boxes:

The box is decorated with shoes.
There's a metallic purple Bratz logo in front of a light pink and white print:


The top of the box has a darker red and white lip print and a fabric ribbon handle that's coated in glitter:



The cover of the box slides off to reveal the doll and all of her accessories:


All of the clothing I chose is sealed inside pretty little envelopes that are labeled with a relevant sticker.  The envelopes are lined up along the top left side of the box.  The extra pair of shoes is in an envelope inside small cubby at the bottom of the box:


This presentation is really attractive and fun, but if the box is opened in a vertical position, everything tumbles out:


This makes it easy to see the layout of the box, though.  Opposite Sadie there's a green cardboard insert that supports the clothing, and an orange-backed compartment for the shoes:


The clothing envelopes are held in place by simple semicircle cardboard cutout tabs, which is why the envelopes can't withstand the force of gravity.


Having all of the accessories fall out of the box might not be ideal, but it's worlds better than a box that's ridiculously hard to open.  Who would've thought that MGA would make a box that's too easy to open??  Not me.  But I stand corrected.

Sadie does not come tumbling out of the box, though:


She (and all of her hair) are anchored to the blue backdrop with a series of plastic loops.  Her feet disappear into a green cardboard compartment at the bottom of the box.


The green compartment is decorated with a business card-sized attachment that bears a message from Sadie:


She claims that I "rule more than unicorns," but that can't be true.  Remember: always be yourself, but if you can be a unicorn...always be a unicorn.  Unicorns rule the most.

It was pretty easy to snip all of the plastic loops that surrounded Sadie's body and hair.  However, there were two additional plastic loops around her feet, and these were hard to cut because they were within the green cardboard compartment.  Also, wouldn't you know it, Sadie had two plastic ties in her head, which were also very hard to cut within the confines of the narrow box.



So, de-boxing was not quite as simple as it first seemed, but it was still pretty easy--and way, way above average for this company.  Better yet, the box remains in tact and will be a great place to store Sadie and her wardrobe.

Here's everything that came in the box:

A dressed doll, five wardrobe items and a paper poster.
The poster came taped to the side of the box, sealed within a plastic bag:


Here's the poster folded open--with Sadie next to it so that you can see how large it is:


The poster is essentially an extra-large advertisement for the Create-A-Bratz concept.  It shows many of the different combinations that are possible:


There's one character who looks a bit like my Sadie:

Same hair, shoes and jacket.
I also like this Yasmin girl and her outfit/hair/eye combination:


Before I take a closer look at Sadie and her wardrobe, let me show you the other Bratz dolls that I have on hand for comparison.

First, this is Cloe from the 2013 My Passion collection:


At just under 12-inches (in shoes), Cloe is taller than most Bratz dolls.  She has highly articulated arms and internal click knees.

Next, I have Pink Winter Dream Meygan (from late 2012, I believe):


Meygan is closer to 10-inches tall, which is the more standard size for Bratz.

Because Meygan's face is covered with glitter, I also have Style It Nadine from 2012.  She has the same body as Meygan with a similar face, but she's glitter-free:


At Samehch's recommendation, I also have 2013 Totally Polished Meygan, but she's still in her box.  She has the same body style as My Passion Cloe.  She's my favorite of the bunch:


From the 2015 collections, I have an in-box #SelfieSnaps Cloe and a de-boxed Hello My Name is Jade.  Here's Jade:

 

I wish I could offer a few more comparisons but that's the extent of my Bratz collection to date.  

Sadie came wearing the pink dress and bright shoes that are included with all of the dolls:


She doesn't balance as well as I thought she would.  Those huge shoes should make her very solid on her feet, but she actually tips over a lot.  I think it's because these particular shoes have a slightly rounded bottom.  Hello My Name is Jade has better shoes that allow her to balance quite well in several positions.  So, there's clearly some variability in balance among these dolls that's highly dependent on the style of the shoes.

The pink dress is very thin and basic (but better than a naked doll!):


There's a pale line around Sadie's waist from where the plastic packaging loop was pulled tight:


The back of the dress is wrinkled and has a partial velcro seam:


The shoes are very bright and do not have any painted details--contrary to what is suggested on the Target website:


Here's a clip from the website so that you can see how the shoes are portrayed:


Even with my feeble background in Bratz knowledge, I could see right away that Sadie's face is very different from previous Bratz doll faces:

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Her head is very large and egg-shaped.  She has wide, front-facing, rounded eyes, which is not typical for Bratz dolls.  She also has thick, fairly straight brown eyebrows with individual hair detail at the inner edges.  Her lips are enormous.  Bratz dolls have always had big lips, but these seem even bigger.

Sadie has the very distinctive Bratz (and Bratzillaz...) profile, though, with practically no nose whatsoever:


She also has pierced ears, although I don't think the Create-A-Bratz collection offers any earrings at this point.

2012-2013 Bratz earrings will fit, though.
I suspect Sadie's half-profile looks different from each side only because of her asymmetrical hair style:



Sadie's facial screening is very well done.  The colors are bright and clear and I do not see a single paint defect:


Her lips are huge and have no variation in color and no visible teeth.  The lips are even more exaggerated on the cartoon versions of the new dolls.  In fact, when I first saw leaked pictures of the box art for the 2015 dolls, I assumed it was a joke.  The lips seemed far too exaggerated to be for real:

I do not find this box art attractive at all.
The lips are molded into a partially-open position, but, again, there's no shadowing and no painted teeth:


I find the lips overdone and wish they were smaller.  The bright red color doesn't soften their appearance at all.

Here's a close-up of one of Sadie's wide green eyes and thick eyebrows:


That green eye is bright, crisp and beautifully-done, but the style reminds me more of a Monster High or Ever After High eye than a Bratz eye.  Here's Duchess Swan's eye for comparison:


To fully appreciate the changes made to the Bratz face, let's take a quick look at Sadie alongside my older Bratz dolls.  First, here she is with 2012 Meygan:


Sadie's head is larger and more oval-shaped than Meygan's head.  Also, Sadie's eyes and lips are bigger and her eyebrows are thicker.

It's a little hard to see Meygan's features because of the clumped glitter on her face, but she has a distinctive painting pattern in her eyes, with large black pupils and three rings of color in the iris.  She also has an unusual half-circle eyeshadow pattern:


Here's Sadie alongside glitter-free Nadine, whose features are easier to see:


Nadine is similar to Meygan, but her upper lip has a different shape.  She also has less detail in her eyelashes.  Again, though, her eyes are narrow (with three-toned irises) and her eyebrows are skinnier, more shapely, and less-detailed than Sadie's eyebrows.  She has the same half-circle eyeshadow accent as Meygan: 


Nadine has shadowed areas painted onto her lips and a small band of teeth--unlike Sadie:


Here's Sadie with 2013 My Passion Cloe:


Cloe's eyebrows are more severe than Nadine's and Meygan's, but they still have less detail than Sadie's.  Cloe's eyes are narrowed and side-glancing, with lots of dark upper eyelashes.  She has three-toned irises with a slightly different pattern than what we saw on Meygan and Nadine.  She is also missing the half-circle in her eyeshadow:

She looks mad.
Cloe has teeth, and a few shadows painted on her lips:


Last, here's Sadie with my in-box 2013 Meygan:



Megan's eyes are like the other older dolls--narrowed and side-glancing with thick lashes and three-toned irises.  Her eyebrows are thin, low and a little fierce.  She has some slight shadowing in her lips, but no teeth:

She pretty, with just the right dose of attitude.
I figured that Sadie would have a different face from older Bratz dolls, but I was surprised to see that she's also different from the regular 2015 Bratz dolls.

Notice that the 2015 #SelfieSnaps Cloe ($16.99) has slightly different facial features:


Here are Sadie and Cloe side-by-side:


Cloe has thin raised eyebrows, a lined pattern in her irises, and teeth showing through her lips.  She looks a bit more like the older Bratz dolls, I think.  I find her more appealing than Sadie.  Her expression is more lively and engaged.

It's tough to tell for sure looking through the box, but Cloe appears to have high-quality facial screening, too:


Cloe's eyes might not be quite as perfect as Sadie's, but the differences are impossible for me to see from a normal distance away.

Cloe's partially-opened mouth has a few rubs in the pale pink lip paint, though:

I love her freckles.
As an aside, I have to show you Cloe's awesome pig phone case.  This is a great accessory:

Pig in underpants.
For another comparison to the regular 2015 dolls, here's Sadie with my de-boxed Hello My Name is Jade ($14.99):


These two are quite similar, but Jade's eyes are narrowed and her thin eyebrows have more of a severe slant.  Also, she has lined iris detail in her eyes that Sadie does not have.  Her hair looks asymmetrical because the left third of it is flocked--to make her head look shaved.

Unlike Cloe, Jade has some pretty glaring face paint defects.  Her mouth is asymmetrical, she has several dark spots and smudges near her left eye, and the black parts of her eye have small white specks in them.


Jade's lips are very bright red, just like Sadie's, but Jade has a tiny line of teeth peeking out, which I think makes a big difference in her expression:


Despite her defects, I like this Jade because she has a bit of an attitude--especially compared to Sadie's blank expression.  And I love her partially-shaved head and green-streaked hair:

I also like her kitty-sleeved plaid dress.
This is a small sample size for comparison, but I can make a few sweeping generalizations. The Create-A-Bratz dolls have bigger heads, rounder (front-facing) eyes and less detailed mouths than the pre-2015 Bratz dolls.  To me, this adds up to an appearance that has nowhere near as much expression or personality as the older dolls.  The older dolls might look a little bratty sometimes, but--like it or not--aren't they supposed to?

I expected Sadie to be different from the pre-hiatus dolls, but I didn't think she would be so different from the other 2015 dolls.  #SelfieSnaps Cloe and Hello My Name is Jade have narrower eyes and more expressive eyebrows than Sadie.  Also, Cloe and Jade have visible teeth, so their lips don't seem quite as huge.  Cloe even has some endearing freckles.  These regular 2015 dolls have a bit of attitude--not as much as the older dolls, granted, but more than Sadie.

I suppose it's pretty clear that I'm not smitten with Sadie's face (especially compared to some of the other dolls) but there are a lot of good things about her.  One thing I really like about the Create-A-Bratz line is that it's possible to choose a redheaded doll.  I have not seen any redheaded characters in the other new collections.

Sadie has very long, poker-straight, orange-red hair.  It's a beautiful, realistic color.  The hair comes tied back in a sleek, simple ponytail that's set slightly off to one side:


I took the hair down to check the rooting.  The hair fiber (saran, I believe) feels amazing--better than any Bratz doll hair that I have encountered.  It's thick and smooth and easy to brush.  It has a slightly greasy texture because of some styling product, but it's not crispy or anything like that.

Incidentally, my 2015 Jade also has nice hair fiber, so I suspect this is a feature of all the new dolls--not just the Create-A-Bratz collection.

There's a kink at the top of the hair from where the tight rubber band was holding the ponytail:


The rooting is decent, and the scalp is painted orange to make it less conspicuous:


There are a few stray hairs that hang down further than the others, but overall the shape of the hair is nice--with long, angled layers.


I really like the hair on this doll.  It's a beautiful color, it feels nice, and it's easy to brush and style.

Perfect play doll hair.

Like all Bratz dolls, Sadie does not have feet.  Her huge sneakers attach to little pegs at the bottom of her legs:



Here she is without her shoes:


Sadie has a hard plastic body with bendable vinyl limbs.  Her arms are really bendy--her legs slightly less so.  She has seven points of articulation, nine if you count the fact that her shoes can swivel around at the ankle.

Sadie's body has a brand new shape.  It's very small with pronounced hourglass curves and a slight swayback.  She wears pink painted underpants:


She's significantly shorter and smaller than the articulated 2013 dolls like My Passion Cloe:

Although her head is the same size as Cloe's...if not bigger.
Here are the two dolls again with their torsos lined up so that you can see the size difference more clearly.  There's no way they'll share clothes.


These two can share shoes, though, which was a nice surprise:

Cloe and Create-A-Bratz Sadie sharing shoes.
Sadie is more similar in size to my 10-inch 2012 Meygan doll. These two are essentially the same height, although Sadie has a larger head:


These pictures emphasize the difference in expression between the two dolls, I think.  Meygan looks suspicious and a little mad to meet her replacement...Sadie looks spaced out.

Sadie has narrower shoulders and more of a waist than Meygan:

2012 Meygan, 2015 Create-A-Bratz.
Another difference is that Megan's body profile is very straight, while Sadie has a pronounced curve in her back:

2012 Meygan (left) and 2015 Create-A-Bratz (right).

I'd say that overall Meygan has a younger or perhaps more athletic-looking figure.

These two can also share shoes:


Notice how much taller and thicker the Create-A-Bratz shoes are, though.

The differences in the dolls' body proportions make it impossible for Meygan to wear Sadie's dress:


Because she's the smaller of the two, Sadie can wear Meygan's outfit...although it's loose in the chest.



It's frustrating that the new body is not dramatically different from the old one, but it's just different enough that none of the new clothes will fit the older dolls.  

Sadie's articulation is similar to that of the 10-inch 2012 dolls, with a few notable differences that I'll point out as I go along.  

First of all, Sadie can tip her head down a little bit, but it always snaps back into a slightly upturned position.  In the pictures, below, I was trying to get her to look down (left) and up (right).  It's hard to tell that anything changed:


In contrast, my 2012 Nadine and Meygan can look up and down and can hold these positions.  Here's Nadine to demonstrate:


Sadie's head can twist all of the way around, but it tips upwards as it spins:


By the time she's looking all of the way backwards, her head is tipped really far up:


After some maneuvering, I was able to get Sadie's head to tip from side to side (and stay there):


The 2012 dolls can do this, too:


Sadie has hinged rotation at her shoulder joints--just like the 2012 dolls.


She can lift her arms up away from her body, and also spin them around:


Her vinyl arms are so skinny and flexible that she can even stick a hand behind her head...


...and cross her arms:

I call this her pretzel pose.
My 2012 Meygan and Nadine have thicker and less bendable arms, so they can't do this.

There's also a change in hand shape between these two types of doll.  The 2012 dolls have thicker hands with shorter fingers:

2012 Bratz hand (above) and 2015 Create-A-Bratz hand (below).
Here's 2012 Meygan's hand up-close:


And Sadie's hand:


Sadie has rotating hinge joints in her hips that allow her to do nice side-to-side splits:


The hips have a new ratcheting mechanism helps the legs hold their position:


This mechanism also makes it a little harder to get the legs to go back into a straight position, though.

The 2012 dolls can do similar splits:


Sadie can also do front-to-back splits, although at first she couldn't get past this position:


With a little flexing and maneuvering, however, she was eventually able to manage a full split:


Her legs do not form a straight line in this pose, though.  Her back leg sticks out at an angle:


2012 Meygan's front-to-back split is more in line: 


Sadie has hinged rotation in her knees as well.  This is a change from the internal knee joints of the older dolls.  Sadie's updated knee articulation has a much better range of motion than the older style:

2012 Bratz knee, 2015 Create-A-Bratz knee.

Sadie can also rotate her legs inwards or outwards at the knee, which is fun:


The improved knee articulation also makes it easy for Sadie to sit in a chair...although her huge shoes cause a bit of a problem:


2012 Meygan can't bend her knees as much, but at least her shoes don't get in the way:


Both Meygan and Sadie can sit on the ground, but Sadie has the added ability to rotate her lower legs:



Sadie is also pretty good at kneeling...and Meygan is not:


The head articulation is worse on the new Create-A-Bratz dolls than it is on my 2012 dolls.  However, the new hinged knee articulation is definitely an improvement, and the extra-bendy arms are fun, too.  Overall, the body changes are more minor than I expected them to be.  I thought there was going to be a huge re-design of these dolls!

Now, let's take a look at all of the clothes that came with Sadie: 


The dress envelope came sealed with a sticker version of the pink tiered dress that I really liked online:


The stickers do not represent what's actually in the envelope, though.  

The envelope itself is partially transparent and is decorated with a variety of pink and green dress designs:


Here's the yellow gingham dress I picked for Sadie:


This dress is even cuter in real life than it is in promotional pictures.  The details in the bodice are nice for such a tiny item:


The back opens with a partial velcro seam:


The dress is well sewn with all of the edges finished.


The dress is extremely short on Sadie (it would make a nice babydoll top!), but the color looks great with her red hair and green eyes:

Doesn't really match the pink shoes, though.

The next envelope I opened had a vest sticker on it with a red and purple jacket design in the background:



This envelope contained the green jacket that I tried to coordinate with everything else.  

The jacket came out of the envelope looking very flat...and shedding lots of green threads:



The jacket is made out of green denim and has a printed floral pattern along the bottom edge:


It has some glued-on silver buttons and a sloppily-stitched pocket:


The jacket has a lined collar and a center seam down the back with little (squished) tails at the bottom:


The sleeves have some stitched detail and two more glued silver buttons:


The jacket seems durable enough, but it doesn't hold a nice shape.  The collar and lapels, in particular, are very lopsided and won't lay flat.


The shape of the jacket doesn't improve much when it's on the doll.  The collar has a decent shape, but the lapels are still a mess:



The online picture makes it look so much better:


Also, pushing Sadie's large hands through the jacket sleeves is hard, and causes the edges of the sleeves to stick out and start to unravel:



The jacket looks best from the back--but I'll need to get out the iron to make that one corner behave:


I wanted to open the shoes next so that I could see if they coordinate with the dress and jacket.



I picked these shoes for their color, not even realizing that they have a delicate molded flower pattern all over them!  I really like this design:


There's a big emphasis on shoes in the re-vamped Bratz line...and the shoes are really big!


And, I think the shoes look good with Sadie's outfit--better than the neon sneakers, anyway.


Notice how Sadie is often looking up in these pictures.  This is her default head position when her body is balanced upright.  It's frustrating to me that her head can't move well enough to compensate for this.

I probably had the hardest time picking a top for Sadie.  In the end, I settled on a fairly simple purple sleeveless peplum top...the one that's actually featured on the sticker for this envelope!



When I was shopping online, I worried that the flared bottom of this piece wouldn't fit well under the green jacket.  I was relieved to see that the silhouette is actually quite rectangular:


The top has clear vinyl straps and opens all of the way down the back:


It's made out of a plum-colored thick jersey knit and decorated with bright pink stitching.  I like how the stitching highlights the princess seams in the bodice:


I chose a pair of regular blue jeans to go with this purple top.  The envelope for the jeans is actually decorated with a red miniskirt sticker:



The jeans have more detail than I expected.  They have real belt loops, tiny silver stud accents, and lots of decorative yellow stitching:



The jeans even have a little "B" patch on the back:


Perhaps this is a good time to mention the trouble I had getting Sadie's shoes to stay on throughout the review.  The shoes are tricky.  Sometimes they sound and feel like they've clicked into place on the leg when they actually haven't.  I can't always tell that a shoe is loose until I see that the legs are uneven...or until that shoe falls off and the doll topples over.  I actually have this problem with all Bratz shoes, not just these newer ones.  So maybe it's me.


Anyway, here's Sadie with her jeans on:


The detachable shoes allow the legs on these jeans to be ultra-skinny.  

The jeans bunch up a little at the very tops of the shoes:


At the waist, the jeans hang a little lower in front than they do in back:


I think the jeans look nice with the dark purple top:



An unexpected perk was that the stitching in the purple top actually matches the pink of the neon sneakers--so these shoes work well with the outfit, too:


The jacket has some pink in it as well, which nicely ties the whole look together:


I just wish that the shoes had some painted detail on them--they're too big to be so monochromatic.  The big chunks of pink don't balance with the rest of the outfit.


Overall, I'm happy with the wardrobe I picked for Sadie.  I really like the yellow dress and the jeans, I'm content with the purple top, but I'm disappointed by the green jacket.  Most of the clothing is well-made and highly detailed for its size.  I also like the brown shoes, and just wish they helped Sadie balance a little better.

It's interesting to compare the price of these clothes to the new fashion packs.  The packs retail for $13 and include two tops, two bottoms and two pairs of shoes for an average of about $2 per piece.  The Create-A-Bratz clothes cost $6-$7 per piece.  A price increase is justifiable because of the nice packaging and the time required to assemble the correct items, but tripling the prices seems excessive.

I'll share a few more pictures of Sadie in her original clothes at the very end of the review, but now I'd like to briefly compare her to a few non-Bratz dolls to see what clothes-sharing options might be available.

First, here's Sadie with my Pinkie Cooper doll:


I actually thought that these two would be more similar than they are.  Pinkie has much smaller hips than Sadie.  Still, the two dolls can share clothes pretty well--maybe because the dress styles I happen to have only fit tightly through the shoulders and chest.




Sadie's jeans almost fit Pinkie, making me think that some of the Create-A-Bratz skirts and shorts would fit.

I also wondered if, despite their height difference, Sadie and Ever After High Duchess Swan might be able to share some clothes.  They both have narrow shoulders and full hips:


Here they are on their knees so that the height difference isn't as distracting:


Indeed, Duchess can wear Sadie's yellow dress...although it's embarrassingly short:


Sadie's jeans are too short and tight for Duchess--although it's a closer match than I thought it would be.

Sadie can also wear Duchess' dress (which I've paired with Nadine's black boots):


I included the picture on the right, above, because it shows another one of Sadie's typical standing postures.  She often has to be tipped forward at the hips to keep her from falling over backwards.

I recently discovered that the Jakks Disney Fairies dolls can share clothes with Ever After High, so I wanted to compare Sadie to one of these dolls, too.  Here she is with Jakks Periwinkle:

Sadie's staring off into space again....
Periwinkle's blue dress is a little loose on Sadie, but it looks good:


By the same token, Sadie's yellow dress is tight on Periwinkle (and crazy-short) but it technically fits:


Sadie's jeans also fit Periwinkle pretty well, although I did not photograph them on her.

I decided to compare Sadie to a Monster High doll, too.  Here she is with my re-painted Milklegs Clawdeen Wolf:


Claudine's dress is too small for Sadie, but Sadie's outfit (kind-of) fits the skinnier Clawdeen:



For one last comparison, here's Sadie with her Bratzillaz cousin, Meygana:


Unfortunately these two can not share clothing.

I also went back and tried Sadie's whole wardrobe on my 2012 Meygana.  Nothing fits.

Hopefully these few comparisons will at least give you a general idea about what other dolls are comparable in size to the new Bratz girls.  I find it frustrating that the new Bratz dolls can't reliably share clothes with the older Bratz dolls--especially because the bodies weren't really changed that drastically.  The cross-brand clothes sharing options are better than I anticipated, but not extensive or reliable enough to be awesome.

Here are a few more picture of Sadie in the yellow dress--my favorite item of clothing for her.  I love how it looks with her beautiful hair:

review


I also really like the huge, exaggerated shoes on these new Bratz dolls.  Some of the shoe styles anchor the dolls nicely and help with balance, which adds to the appeal of the larger size.  However, none of the shoes that came with Sadie are very good at this.  Sadie is surprisingly hard to balance for a doll with enormous feet.

Overall, though, I think the shoes are distinctive, fun, and they balance out the dolls' large heads and long hair:


These larger shoes really take advantage of the peg-legged, footless Bratz design, too: it would be way too hard to dress a doll with feet this big if the feet weren't removable.  

I also appreciate the fact that the shoes are interchangeable with earlier Bratz doll bodies:


I feel like MGA is trying to make shoes an important feature of the Bratz image...which is great, as long as the focus on shoes isn't a replacement for the hallmark Bratz attitude.

Nadine can have it all: large shoes and attitude!
I struggled to come up with creative ways to photograph Sadie.  I don't find her to be an especially photogenic doll.  Her limited head articulation is a big part of the problem.  That--coupled with her front-facing eyes--makes her unexpressive and rigid.


Sadie's default upwards-facing head position can look dramatic...


...but I got tired of her always looking up and away from the camera.

The yellow dress does make a cute babydoll top!
For this picture I tried to make Sadie look like she's running, but it's really awkward:


The most expressive poses that I could find for Sadie involved manipulating her bendy arms.  For example, she can hook one thumb into the belt loop of her jeans to look relaxed and cool:


And pretty much the only way to make her look sassy is to cross her arms in frot of her chest:

My favorite look.
A lot of the pictures that I edited out of the review look like the one below--with Sadie hunched over, arms splayed, trying to stay upright...and gazing up into space:  


Sadie's hair is my favorite thing about her.  To try and maximize the appearance of the hair, I styled it into high side ponytails:


This doesn't look very good from the back...


...but I like the effect in front:


I finally started having a little bit of fun with these last few photographs.  The ponytails add a nice touch of movement and color:



There's something unsettling about the juxtaposition of youth and maturity in this doll.  I'm not sure I can exactly put my finger on it, but I know it's exacerbated by the short gingham dress and ponytails:

I'm five years old!  No...wait, I'm fourteen!  Twenty four?
With her rounded facial features and wide eyes, Sadie is more child-like than other Bratz dolls.  However, she's still made up to look like a teen or an adult.  I guess certain outfits and hairstyles just make me more aware of this.


Bottom line?  The idea behind the Create-A-Bratz dolls is great.  To have a semi-customizable doll like this readily available on such a large scale (with such a quick turnaround time) is very rare.  Choosing Sadie's coloring and wardrobe was fun and the process is easy enough for kids to complete without much help.  There's a wonderful sense of excitement and anticipation that comes with making decisions about a doll's appearance and then waiting to see how those choices turn out. This new way of buying Bratz dolls definitely fits with MGA's focus on individuality for the 2015 re-release.  However, despite all of the fun choices I had, I don't feel much of a connection to Sadie.

This conclusion is surprising to me because Sadie doesn't have a long list of flaws.  In fact, there are a lot of great things about her.  I think my disconnect is due almost entirely to the style of her face.  Her facial screening is very well done (maybe better than the regular 2015 dolls?), with vibrant colors and nice details, but the overall look is unremarkable to me...especially for a Bratz doll.  Despite some overly-exaggerated features (like those enormous lips), Sadie comes across as vacant and bland. She's caricatured, but has very little character.  Maybe MGA was trying for a sweeter, softer look with these particular dolls?  That doesn't strike me as true to the Bratz brand, though.  I prefer the side-glancing, coy, distinctive faces of the older Bratz dolls.  Every time I posed Sadie next to another Bratz, the saucy expression of the older doll always stole the shot.

The new Bratz body isn't dramatically different from the previous 10-inch Bratz body, which came as a let-down after the suspense of the hiatus.  However, I think most of the little changes were good ones.  First and foremost, I really like the new knee joints.  Rotating hinges are an improvement over internal knee joints--at least in my book.  Sadie can kneel and sit down in ways that were not possible with the older, click-kneed dolls.  I definitely prefer jointed arms, but I'll admit that Sadie's highly-bendable spaghetti arms are fun to twist and play with.  I also enjoy the new, exaggerated shoes/feet.  For me, the biggest disappointments with the new body are the poor head control and the fact that--despite all of the similarities--the new dolls can't share any clothes with their predecessors.  They can only share shoes.

To me, the best things about Sadie are her wardrobe, her hair and her packaging.  Not only was it really fun to choose Sadie's clothing, but most of the pieces are attractive, trendy and well-made.  The range of available designs is impressive, and will certainly allow kids to express their own individual style to some degree. The green jacket is the only item of clothing that I don't like.  Sadie's saran hair is worlds better than other Bratz hair I've seen.  It's top-notch play doll hair.  I love it.  It's a little greasy out of the box, but it's soft, silky and pleasant to brush.  It's also a gorgeous, realistic, bright red color that's currently rare in the Bratz world.  To top things off, the Create-A-Bratz dolls and their clothing are very attractively packaged in a hassle-free cardboard box that's a refreshing change from MGA's usual high-maintenance plastic packaging.

Even though Sadie's quality is good, her hair is excellent, her packaging is attractive and her wardrobe is cute (and fun to buy!)...I still feel like I'm left with an expensive doll that I can't get excited about.  To me, her face isn't sassy enough (or sweet enough) to be engaging.  If Sadie had all of her current qualities and a face that wasn't so cautiously neutral, I'd be way more enthusiastic.  For those who really like Sadie's face, I'd still recommend checking out the regular release 2015 Bratz dolls before splurging on a Create-A-Bratz.  As much fun as the online customization process is, it doesn't last very long...and it comes at a pretty significant price.  A week into owning Sadie, the most distinctive thing about her is that she cost over three times as much as the similar-looking dolls on the store shelves.  In fact, I like my new Cloe and Jade more than I like Sadie: they have the same nice hair and cute outfits, but on top of that they have guilt-free pricing and some personality.  In addition, the regular dolls come with a range of fun accessories (like pig phones!), and can expand their wardrobes with clothing packs that cost less than the Create-A-Bratz bundles.  I'd say that the $50 Create-A-Bratz price is only worth it if a specific doll or outfit isn't approximated in the regular line and carries a special importance to you or your child.

So, as someone who only started to appreciate Bratz dolls within the last year, and who used to find the brand too fierce-looking, here's the hypocritical part: for all of the good things I see in Sadie, I'm left simply wanting more brat in this Bratz doll.

30 comments:

  1. are girls with attitude and passion for fashion marked a before and after in the age of the dolls filled a gap in the market told the girls are beautiful and strong and down the pink

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  2. Agree re the face! In fact, that's the one thing that struck me as I read your review. I get the feeling they're trying to tone down the "bratty" fashionista aspect in favor of more natural-looking dolls, maybe due to all the criticism. Oddly I've never been a fan of Bratz, but now I sort of miss their original look.

    If the iPig came separately I would buy one for each of my dolls.

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    1. The iPig! XD That's awesome. I agree with you! I would like one in full size for me, too. :)

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  3. I enjoyed your review as always but I've just never found these dolls attractive. The lips are just too exaggerated. It looks like they had a mishap at the plastic surgeon. I don't see any improvement in the redesign.

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  4. I vastly prefer the old faces too. I wouldn't really call it 'bratty', more of a sultry disposition and an attitude of 'I don't care if you don't like what I am wearing' which seemed appropriate to me since so many conservative people initially complained about the clothing available to the line. At least they see to be trying to resolve some of the issues they had with their older dolls (hair and leg articulation) but the change to their face is something I just cannot get over.

    Also that change to their box art is hideous. Granted its a minute detail but it honestly looks like it was drawn by someone in Paint in under ten minutes, especially when you compare it to the artwork done for the older Bratz lines. And it's pretty dissapointing that every line has the same art for each character, even though they are wearing completely different outfits - it just looks lazy.

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  5. Two things that I have always disliked about the Bratz dolls are the lack (or nearly so) of a nose and the ridiculous giant lips. On Sadie, especially when her hair is in pigtails, it really looks like a little girl who's gotten into mommy's makeup and smeared lipstick all over her face. The huge shoes are interesting, but add to the effect of "playing dress-up in mom's stuff", to me. It's like she's clomping around in shoes many sizes too big for her.

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    1. That's a really good analogy, Presto! The "little girl dressing up" image describes my feelings about her mix of youth and maturity perfectly...it also explains the huge shoes!

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  6. There was so much hype about the new Bratz line that I really expected something different, maybe toned down somewhat. This was mainly because here in Australia there was a lot of publicity earlier this year about a mother who repainted her kids Bratz dolls and made them some sensible clothes. Here is a link to an article about it:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2919108/Trashy-Bratz-dolls-undergo-make-mother-photographs-earthy-scenes-playing-outside-way-kids-should.html

    I'm not saying we should all repaint our Bratz dolls, but to me these little munchkins are so cute. I really thought this was the way that Bratz was going to go.

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  7. Here is an interview with the woman who repainted the dolls:

    https://youtu.be/lG-7e1vaB18

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    1. Oh, yes! The Tree Change dolls! They're lovely. I think it's a wonderful idea and a striking transformation! Thank you for the links. :)

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  8. I have issues with some of the shoes too, maybe how small they are compared to the bendy legs. Ièm not sure but thinking they are on until they fall off has happened to me more then once

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  9. I'm psyched about the return of Bratz mainly since I can raid their clothing and accessories for use with MH dolls. As to the dolls themselves, I have always found those leg stumps creepy beyond words... And the lack of a nose just looks a bit strange to me.

    Back in the day when the competition was between Bratz and My Scene, I used to prefer My Scene because they -to me- looked like actual teenagers, whereas Bratz often looked more like preteens with a pound of makeup on.

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  10. Totally agree on the face -- my older Bratz, with the side-glancing eyes, exude personality. (My oldest Yasmin, a thrift-store find, is clearly a bad influence, but she's not bland.) The new Bratz look way too earnestly eager to be liked, when they don't go all the way to Vi's and Va's expressions of utter terror.

    I'd so looked forward to new Bratz and can't see myself buying any now. (Maybe one Yasmin for complete-ism when there's a close-out, but that's it.)

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  11. Great review :) I prefer the older faces actually. I had a few Bratz when I was younger (before I moved on to AG and Disney dolls) they used to be my favorite doll line. I was looking at Target.com to check out the new dolls and the Create A Bratz and I stumbled across the Study Abroad dolls. Upon closer inspection I found that their faces are very similar to the Create A Bratz faces. They seem to be the only Bratz dolls that share faces with the Create A Bratz.

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  12. I still don't know what to think about these new Bratz. The only thing I know for certain is I miss Braztillaz even with the flaws. A treat as always, Tina

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    1. Me, too, Tina! I'm not exactly sure why I like the Bratzillaz so much (maybe the fun eyes? The fantasy element?) but I hope they come back.

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  13. Never read a review here and then go directly to Target! I brought my first Bratz home.

    I love the clothes and hoped that the doll wouldn't be that bad. And she's not actually. I picked study abroad Jade and she's really cute but so top heavy! Her hair is lovely and thick, but she can barely stand. I still like her and don't regret buying her, but I think she'll be my only Bratz doll + fashion packs.

    Thank you for another amazing review. It was great seeing all the different faces. The older ones are so sassy!

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  14. The new face reminds me of Moxie Kids. I never liked Bratz, but at least the old ones had their "thing" that could appeal to some people. I think Bratzillaz went into a better direction, design-wise.

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  15. They need noses!!!

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  16. I was never a big fan of Bratz dolls but I prefer the older faces to the new ones, they have more personality. The new faces seem like a cross between the old faces and the Vi and Va faces. I agree that after all the build up with the year long hiatus the dolls seem to have improved very little. Thanks again for another wonderful review.

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    1. Thank you, Starr. I hadn't thought about comparing the new faces to Vi and Va. That's really interesting! I see some similarity in the round (slightly vacant) eyes, for sure, and maybe in the rounded, youthful head shapes?

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  17. The face seems blah and the price tag makes me go "yikes." You didn't tempt me on this one, Emily!

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    1. That's a good thing, though, right? ;D I feel the same way, Beth. You summed it up well.

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  18. We have a few of the older style Bratz lying around. I have to say that I much prefer the new face as it is so much sweeter. I find it hard to put my finger on what it is about these dolls that leaves me cold, but I think that it is mostly the detachable feet. I like the tiny nose and gigantic lips and their hair is always so soft and silky. The old dolls we have are fun to dress because the tiny clothes glide on so easily. However, my three year old daughter has no interest in them either and much prefers Barbie, Lottie or my Monster Highs.

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    1. I'm really glad to hear your thoughts on this, Nat Kat, since the new face doesn't resonate with me. I like to see the dolls from another point of view. I definitely see what you mean--there does appear to have been an effort to make the features sweeter and less sultry. I give MGA credit for responding to criticisms of their brand. I'm with your daughter, though--give me a Lottie or a Monster High doll any day. ;)

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  19. I personally don't care for the huge lips, but what ultimately resulted in me having to ban these dolls from my home entirely (they're the only doll line I've had to ban) is my daughter tried to mimic the attitudes, and that is NOT acceptable. After I banned the dolls, her behavior improved, though there is now a show on Netflix she keeps asking to watch, and I refuse to let her because I refuse to return to her wanting dolls that negatively influenced her behavior. Thankfully, the Monster High and Ever After High dolls mixed with some Disney Classic and Barbie dolls satisfy her.

    Don't think this house is goody-goody. We listen to Broadway without censoring anything (even Avenue Q and Book of Mormon), and I drop plenty of swears and f-bombs, but negative and bratty behavior isn't cute, and that's what we were having. Too bad. Some of the outfits are pretty cute. At least MH and EAH and Barbie and Disney trump there too. :)

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    1. That's really valuable to hear, Aria! The idea of kids emulating their dolls (and TV shows) is talked about a lot, but I don't have many first hand anecdotes describing this kind of thing happening in real life. I totally understand why you banned the dolls. I wonder if the new, more bland face of the Create-A-Bratz is in response to this kind of reaction? It's one thing for me, as an adult, to appreciate a little sass in my dolls, but it's another thing to invite a doll that provokes bad behavior into your home! Yikes. As you said, it's a good thing there are so many other fun and popular dolls to choose from. Thank you for sharing this perspective. :)

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  20. I'm really disappointed that the company decided to make the heads even bigger, and the torsos even shorter than they were before. What a let-down. It makes the dolls look alien, not human. I really hate the direction they've brought the dolls.

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  21. I'm probably the only one but I prefer the tall Bratz from a couple years ago, not enough to buy one but oh so close, especially the fingernail line and the armored mermaids. Like a lot of people I was not sold on the Bratz face originally, however they've been around so long that it doesn't bother me anymore. This doll looks bright eyed and curious for a Bratz, but for the price I'd rather just buy a non-custom Bratz doll that comes with an extra outfit. The new dolls look cheaper or more simplistic somehow, but I still like the clothing options compared to other doll lines.

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  22. Some of the new clothes fit the oldest dolls, like the ones that date back to 2001 and 2005. I bought all three of the new outfit packs and the only item I couldn't fit onto my old dolls was one of the pairs of pants. Great review, as usual. :-)

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I value and welcome all opinions, but comments with abusive or offensive language will be deleted.