Sunday, March 11, 2012

Monster High Review: The Howleen and Clawdeen Sister Set

I was at Target yesterday running an errand, and right there on the shelf was the new Monster High Howleen set!  I already knew I wanted this set from the promotional pictures because of Howleen's crazy orange hair.  Besides, I am always interested when a doll line premieres a new body type, and Howleen has a smaller body than the regular Monster High girls.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the shelf tag said that this set was $19.99.  At the checkout, I was unpleasantly surprised when, in fact, the set rang up at $29.99.  That's a good amount of money.  I guess if you reason that Howleen is like one of the $20 non-basic dolls and Clawdeen is added in there for $10, the $30 price isn't too bad.

Since I have talked quite a bit about Monster High already on this blog (also here and here...), I'll just get straight to the pictures.  There were four of these sets in stock, and this was the only one that didn't have any dark face paint smudging on Howleen:

Clawdeen and Howleen sister set.
Clawdeen is a very basic doll with no accessories.  Howleen is presented like other first releases of a new character in that she has a pet, a diary and an accessory (in this case, a backpack).  Neither doll comes with a stand.  I think Howleen should have come with a black stand.

The box is just like other Monster High boxes. It is mostly cardboard, and it's decorated with tons of bright colors and little descriptions of the characters.  Apparently, Holween is 14 years old and a bit indecisive.  She has an eclectic fashion style and hair that doesn't always do what she wants:

There's also a section written by Clawdeen that introduces her younger sister with some mixed emotions.  This is a pretty cliched introduction except for the part where Clawdeen complains that Howleen sometimes eats her shoes.  That made me giggle out loud.

Holween's pet is awesome.  It's a hedgehog with an orange mohawk named "Cushion."  I don't love that name.  I would've named him "Scratch." 

Here's the cardboard insert removed from the outer box.  The dolls are hard to photograph like this, mostly because of the dark colors in the background, but also because there's no sunshine right now:

It's really easy to get them out of the box, except for those dratted plastic ties in their heads.  Here they are side-by-side so you can see the height difference in the new body:

Howleen's hair is so big, they almost look the same height.
The backpack is a pretty cheaply-made accessory.  It has a nice blue and orange color combination that matches Howleen's outfit, but it is hard vinyl, looks unrealistic as a backpack, and mine came broken.

It looks great for a hard shell suitcase.
One of the straps has come unglued.
You can get it to open, but it is very stiff and inflexible.
My hedgehog is not painted very carefully, but he's still unique and cute. He has a smirky little smile:

I didn't even look very hard at Clawdeen when I was in the store.  She's an obligatory purchase if you want to have Howleen.  I suppose I could resent this trickery on the part of Mattel, but actually this version of Clawdeen is pretty interesting and I am glad I have her:

Her dress has an iridescent green and purple leopard spot top that compliments her hair, and then a simple black skirt with what look like two huge zippers running down either side.  The zipper detail is painted on the skirt. 

The dress doesn't fit perfectly and has a tendency to do this in back:

Nobody wants that silhouette.
Clawdeen's eye makeup is a pale green with glitter accents.  I think if just the top of her eye had the green on it, she'd look better, and maybe less like a raccoon. Because the color is so pale, though, I think she pulls it off.

She has light gold lips that balance the glitter around her eyes:

The hair is pretty coarse, but the colors are great.  She has rich neon purple hair with green and black stripes around her face. 

The hair is really frizzy.
I like the balance between Clawdeen's harsh hair and her softer makeup and sweet face.  She has a strangely glamorous, slightly retro overall look.

Her shoes are fairly unremarkable.  They look like they should belong to Cleo, especially with that asymmetrical stocking:

Some more shots of Clawdeen:

Nothing matches exactly, but everything looks good together.


Now, introducing Howleen and her crazy orange hair!

She's definitely got some attitude, and an 80's punk look:

There's a lot going on with her outfit.  She has a graphic tee shirt, skimpy jean shorts and an odd asymmetrical belt/suspender type of thing running across her chest:

She's wearing an orange necklace with a thick chain and a wolf paw print pendant.  I think there's also an "H" on the necklace.  The necklace isn't very impressive.  It's hard to see what the design is.  There's a lot of that orange color and it is starting to hurt my eyes.

She has three contrasting bangles on her right arm that look neat:

Yikes.  Those hands are very intense.
Over the shirt, she's wearing a cropped hoodie sweatshirt with a colorful wolf print design.  The hood has holes for Howleen's ears, but has a hard time covering her big hair:

Very busy print.
I like the simpler look of her outfit without the sweatshirt.  The tee has a picture of the phases of the moon, and then has a bite mark raggedness to the neckline.  I be crazy about it if it were all black:

Love the moon design.
From the back:

Nice print, slightly messy hem.
So, I am sitting here feeling very judgmental about the theme of the clothes.  It's very predictable.  I mean, she's a werewolf's daughter, and all of the clothes have wolf paw prints and moons.  Bo-ring.  Even the color scheme, I'm thinking, wow, this is so Halloween.  Then it finally occurs to me.  Her name, Howleen, is a play on Halloween.  I am so slow sometimes.  Now it seems understandable that all of her clothes (and her hair) are Halloween colored.  

Her shorts and suspenders aren't very Halloween, although the look is slightly costumey.  I'm thinking Mario.  Perhaps it is the suspender strap and the blue and yellow color scheme that make my mind go there...or just the fact that I've seen a lot of Mario in my house.

Howleen also has mismatched stockings.  She has a long striped stocking on the right and then a short pink net stocking on the left.

The stockings are great.
The boots are a bit drab, but the style works well with Howleen's punky image.

Now, let's look at that orange hair, and her cute face.

She reminds me a little bit of Tai in the movie Clueless.

Rolling with the homies...
Something about her eye makeup is too heavy.  I am not sure if it's the chunky lines of the blue, or the black of her mascara.  I appreciate that the eyeshadow isn't orange or yellow, but I wish it was a bit more subtle.  The brown color of her eyes is beautiful and two-toned, but it's getting overpowered by the eye makeup.

She has very pink lips:

She has very tight, frizzy orange and yellow curls that are piled on top of her head to mimic a mohawk.  Her wolf ears peek through the hair.  Her right ear is a bit droopy.  This is a fun detail:

Her left ear has a yellow safety pin earring that matches her yellow hair exactly:

Do you see the black hair in the picture above?  Well, Howleen has several black hairs mixed in with her orange and yellow.  Despite the Halloween theme, I am not convinced that this is intentional.  It doesn't look that great.

Here you can see other black hairs, and also the plastic tie that got left in her head.
I love the orange hair, but there's something a bit clown-like about it.  It could be the color of the orange, or also the fact that it is streaked with bright yellow.  Perhaps if it had black streaks, or just been a shade darker I'd like it more?  I don't know, but it's a bit too bright.  Just a bit.  If you ever watch Mythbusters, Kari Byron's hair is always a crazy-yet-pretty orange or red.  That kind of look would have been awesome.  

I also have a problem with the fact that the orange in her hair exactly matches the orange in her necklace, which is precisely the same orange as her tee shirt.  Too much matching.

Howleen doesn't sit very gracefully in her tight shorts:

And it's worse from the back:

The backpack fits her pretty well and coordinates with her outfit:

But mine keeps falling off because of that broken strap.  It'd be really simple to just glue that back together.  Not a big deal.

Howleen's body is quite different:

Her hip joints are not strung.  They have a plastic articulation.  This doesn't seem to interfere with the flexibility much, and it might reduce the number of dolls with loose hips and pants that get stuck in the hip joints.

She has a slightly more filled out, athletic looking frame, at least in comparison to the normal Monster High body.  Not as much of a sway back:

Here she is next to Clawdeen.  There is a slight difference in skin tone.  Howleen is lighter:

The doll's heads are the same size.  Howleen's shorter stature is mostly due to shorter lower legs.  Surprisingly, the torsos are the same length:

Howleen has very shapely legs.  I like her legs better than the original legs, I think:

This body sits really nicely without clothes:

Strange knee joint.  She has the same kind of odd indentation in her lower thigh as Nefera does:

Overall, I like the new body a lot.  I like the absence of elastic in the hips, and I think the proportions are good and the more solid frame suits Howleen's tough character.

Here are some shots of Howleen dressed again:

It's difficult to pose those hands in a way that doesn't look threatening.  


I mean, those are some serious claws.  They're expressive, for sure, but I don't like them as much as the traditional Monster High hands.  

She looks ready to rip my head off.
Luckily, you can swap hands between these two body types...and you can swap clothes (you can't swap shoes, though):

I think these hands soften her look considerably:

And she sits much better in Clawdeen's dress:

It's actually a decent length on her!

Unfortunately, you can only swap clothes in one direction.  Howleen's clothes don't fit Clawdeen...or at least those shorts don't fit:

Here are the sisters together.  They have some very striking contrasts:

Bottom line?  Howleen is pretty cute.  I like the new body type, especially because it can share some clothes with the taller girls.  I think it is good that Mattel tried a different hand mold, but Howleen's hands are a bit too extreme and they end up limiting her range of expressiveness.  In the end, this is not a big deal because Howleen and Clawdeen's hands are interchangeable.

If Howleen's hair color had been a shade darker and her eye makeup a shade lighter, I think I'd really love her look.  As it is, the whole doll is a bit too busy and matchy-matchy for me.  In contrast, Clawdeen is a pleasant surprise.  Despite the bold, bright hair, Clawdeen's look is not overdone because her hair is balanced by a soft makeup palette and a simple dress.

In a way, this is an accurate portrayal of two sisters.  The older sister has found a solid image that confidently portrays her personality, while the younger sister is still a bit of a hodge-podge of experimentation.  I hope the Howleen character sticks around long enough for us to see her (and Mattel) work out a perfect style.




  1. And I thought I was done for awhile with looking for any new Monster High dolls,except for Cupid. They are really kind of cute. Wonder when they will be available in the stores I frequent?

    1. I didn't expect to see this set yet, either! I figured that Meowlody and Purrsephone would be out first. It was definitely a fun surprise! I hope they make their way to your stores soon.

      I still haven't seen a single Cupid, either, by the way. She must be very rare!

  2. It's very disappointing that Clawdeen comes with her; I might wait her out a bit and see if I can't find her separately on ebay (as I did with Draculaura in the Clawd 2-pack). I would be so tempted to let her hair down ~ There is something so early 90s about her; like she ought to be on Ghostwriter or something ;) nice review, thanks

    1. She is SO early 90s--you're right! Part of her charm, definitely.

      I really like the Clawdeen, but I can definitely see how it would be a pain to pay the extra money for a doll you don't want. I think especially when a new character comes out, Mattel should offer it by itself. I would guess the odds are low that someone who wants Howleen doesn't already have Clawdeen.

      Good luck with your hunt!

  3. lovely post :)

    too bad these dolls aren't available in Manila yet - though I've read somewhere that they're actually being sold now in some store - perhaps, I just haven't seen them to the store I frequently visit.

    for now though, I'd drool over these dolls on your blog ^_^

  4. I love their crazy hair colors and that long stocking. I must be old, I want TWO matching long stockings. :) These are great dolls, even if I think Mattel is being greedy by selling a new doll with an old character most fans already own (but Clawdeen does have a new hair color, so that's a plus). It'd be a little weird if this is the only chance we have to buy a Howleen, so I think eventually they will release a solo little sis?

    I haven't seen Cupid in person either, she still has a shelf tag at WalMart but I'll probably fall over if I actually find her there.

    In the last month we've had two stores (Walmart and Fred Meyer) feature MH sales in their Sunday paper flyers and then post "yes, we have no MH dolls" apology letters on the shelves. SO annoying. I'm not falling for that again until we know the mysterious supply issue is resolved.

    1. There definitely seem to be certain stores that get first pick of Monster High stock. The Toys R Us in my area always has the most. The other day they had about 15 Operetta dolls, and that many or more Neferas. I have only ever seen 1 of each of those dolls at Walmart. On the other hand, when I went back to TRU two days later, all of the Operettas were gone, so my perception about stock could be based solely on my timing.

      They are elusive little dolls, that's for sure. :)

  5. I just love your reviews, they are so thorough and descriptive it feels like I'm the one doing all this fun fun fun deboxing :D I feel compelled to read even when it's about a line of dolls that I don't collect, like MH.
    I can see Howleen's smaller shoe size causing a lot of frustration to MH collectors. Shoe choices are limited no matter how you look at it, and even if there are more Howleens later on, I can't really see Mattel doing Howleen specific fashion/shoe packs unless they make more characters with the smaller body. Maybe they will :) I really hope it becomes a trend to have multiple body types within the same line easily available. The way Tonner Doll Company implemented it is great.

    1. Thank you so much, Alrunia! I couldn't agree more about the shoes. It is always a struggle to find shoes, and this just adds unnecessary complexity. I would love to see more of the smaller body MH dolls, though. I really like the shape. I ran into a similar shoe frustration with the Mattel Stardolls--it seems like they should share shores with Barbie, but they're not even close!

      Anyway--Tonner does a lot of things well, that's for sure (although Antoinette could have shared shoes with Tyler and that would have been ideal...). I hope I can get a few Tonner pre-orders in the house soon so I can shat about those dolls a bit more! :)

  6. Dear Emily,
    I discovered your blog yesterday and now I'm totally stuck!
    Your rewievs are amazing and your pictures really catches the dolls beauty, never stop blogging, please!

    Sorry for bad english, but youngers from Sweden can be addicted to MH-dolls too :)

    About this post:
    TOTALLY love Howleen's body, it looks so young and has lovely curves.
    Her little bend ear and crooked hands are adorable and reminds me of a playful puppy!
    I really want her, but then I have to get rid of her sister in some way...

    Lots of hugs from Sweden!

    // Flavour

    1. Thank you so much! Your English is fantastic. I totally agree about Howleen's body--it has just the right proportions. I was hoping there'd be another doll with her body out by now, but I guess we have to be patient. Don't get rid of her sister, LOL, this Clawdeen is gorgeous! ;)

  7. Why is everyone having some sales problem?? i think the east usa get not many dolls,but the west get tons. I can never find these dolls at my target. they dont even have a sales tag yet. i might have to but them somewhere else. i love that they put the duo, cause it would 40 bucks if they were not together.

  8. I might get Howleen on eBay, because I don't want to get Clawdeen. I wanted to get the Coffin Bean, and I don't want 2 Clawdeens.

  9. How tall is Howleen?

  10. Omg!!! I thought I was the only one who thought she looked like Tai!!! Lol I think it has to do with her complexion and face shape... That and when you give her orange hair. Lol I love the hands if you have both (regular and then the intense ones for fights/angry pics) I will definitely have to pick her up now!
    Also, I though her name was Howl-een like how werewolves howl at the moon... Maybe it is supposed to be like Halloween. Interesting :P

  11. I remember when I saw the first edition Howleen being crazy about her orange hair and fun sort of early 90's style but for some reason I never purchased her while she was still at a reasonable price. *Sigh*

    I wondered what your opinion of her new pink hair was? I personally am not a fan of it, I think the orange curly hair was nicer.

  12. Clawdeens gold shoes are the same soes in one of abbeys add on fashion packs, ecept abbies are white!

  13. I think the hedgehog's name is supposed to be "Cushion" as in "pincushion."