Thursday, March 22, 2012

Monster High Review: The Meowlody and Purrsephone Sister Set

There's been a lot of Monster High excitement lately, at least in my house.  Do you remember back in January when I mentioned that Meowlody and Purrsephone went up for pre-order on Toys R Us for about 5 seconds?  Well, I pre-ordered the set then, but didn't actually believe they'd ever come.  I mean, the whole Monster High availability thing has been strange, don't you think?  In fact, I'd love to collect data on this.  Which dolls are showing up where?  Here in Maine, we have a lot of Skull Shores dolls, and that's about it. The Sweet 1600 dolls were easy to find for about three weeks and have now disappeared.  There was one huge shipment of Nefera DeNile and Operetta, and then nothing since.  I have still only seen two of the original Abbey Bominables in the store and have never seen a single Cupid.  I think I'll start a new poll about this.  The old poll revealed that 62% of you think JAMIEshow Lee looks best without a wig, which is pretty definitive, so I think we're ready for a new poll.

Anyway, out of the blue, the feline twins arrived yesterday.  I have not seen them in stores here yet, so I am glad I pre-ordered.  I was a bit nervous about ordering these online, though, since hand-picking a Monster High doll is significantly safer than buying one sight unseen.  Still, I figured it would be educational to see the quality level of a random sample.  Here they are:

Monster High Meowlody and Purrsephone gift set.
My first thought on seeing the box was that the cats look just like their promotional pictures.  My second thought was that they look messy.  If you look closely, you can see loose strands of hair everywhere, the box is dusty and there are suspicious specks on their faces.  That made me slightly uneasy:

Shouldn't Meowlody's hair have a black chunk with white stripes?  That would've been better:

The box is the same as all of the other large Monster High boxes.  It is a densely decorated cardboard window box with an orange and red theme.

There are facts about the twin sisters on the back of the box for those who don't follow the cartoon series.  For instance, they enjoy science--especially genetics.  Cool.

When I removed the bright cardboard insert and looked at the dolls more closely, they looked less messy.  I think the plastic window on my box was pretty beat up.  

The color scheme is very striking.  Their eerie eyes beam out at you from amidst all of that red and orange:

Actually, the box says that their favorite colors are orange and "burnt orange," so I guess that second color isn't red, but more of a burnt orange.

Look at how their tails are carefully arranged to form a heart:

It says "exclusive werecat sister pack" on the front.  I guess these are exclusive to Toys R Us.  I didn't realize that, but Monster High Wiki confirms it.

There are still a few spots and bits of hair on their faces, but I'll see which of those I can get off with a cloth once they've been freed from the box.  At least the eyes aren't wonky.

The eyes are fantastic.
The lip paint goes waaay below that lower lip.
The only hard thing about de-boxing these felids is the hand shackle in the middle:

I always have to cut these to get the hands out.
Here's what is in the box:

Two dolls and a diary.
As with the Clawdeen and Howleen set, there are no stands and no brush.  This is slightly disappointing.  With these two, though, there are no pets, either.  No pets!  That's massively disappointing.  Ok, I'll admit, it seems a little strange for a hybrid cat-person to have a pet, since they are, technically, half pet themselves, but still.  I want a hedgehog or a piranha in a fish bowl.  It does actually explain in the diary that the twins used to have a pet canary, but they had to give it away because Purrsephone is allergic.  Hmm.  I don't watch the TV show, but this seems like a creative excuse for not including a pet.  I mean, why can't they get a new pet?  A lizard, maybe?  A chihuahua?  Despite the absent accessories, they did, of course, cost me $29.99 just like the Howleen set.  They're actually listed on the Toys R Us site for $35 now, which is ridiculous.  Way overpriced.

Let's forget about all that for a sec. and look at Meowlody:

Ok, so the hair doesn't look exactly like the promotional picture.  The striped hair looks cool, but it is very stiff and bent.  They just glopped it all together and then painted the whole chunk of hair as one piece.  I know this is how Toralei was done, too, but I still haven't gotten Toralei out of her box, so this is my first face-to-face encounter with the striped hair technique.

Raccoon tail hair!
The stiffness of it wouldn't bother me too much, but underneath the striped chunk of hair, the regular hair is yellowed with the same glue/gel/goop.  I might have to try and wash it out...risking the loss of those well-defined stripes.

What happens to the goopy, stiff hair when kids play with these dolls, I wonder?  Does that big clump of striped hair break apart into smaller clumps?  Does the yellow stuff eventually brush out?  I'd really love to know how these hold up over time with kids who are playing with them a lot.

Look at how neat she is, though:

I love her bright yellow cat eyes.
The hair in back is free of goop and very soft and manageable.  It shed a bit when I brushed it, but nothing out of the ordinary.

You can see her grey scalp through the pale hair, which is a bit weird.
I really love her mix of dark grey vinyl and pale platinum hair.  Her greyscale palette makes the yellow eyes and bright red lips stand out in an attractively creepy way:

The lip thing is still bugging me, though.
I'm not sure I like the large white patch on her face.  Perhaps thin stripes like Toralei's would have been better?  It's a realistic pattern for a cat, as you can see here, but I still prefer more subtle marks on the face.  Monster High is not about subtlety, though, that's for sure.

The bangs are very stiff and have some yellow goop on the very tips.  I tried to brush the hair a bit to soften the edges and get the yellow out, but it just made the edge of the bangs uneven:

I'll have to snip that...
Meowlody has very little in the way of jewelry.  She does not have earrings or a necklace.  She has some generic bangle bracelets on each wrist and a plastic purse that looks like a ball of yarn. 

The purse is a very clever idea, but in the end it just looks like a plastic ball of yarn.  It doesn't really say "purse" to me.  It doesn't open.  Compare it to one of Clawdeen's purses:

Now, that's a purse!
She has a pink glove painted onto her left hand:

There were complaints about the paint on Sweet 1600 Clawdeen's glove, and those seem to have been addressed with this doll (although Toralei has good gloves, too, and she came out before Sweet 1600, didn't she?).  Anyway--the glove is painted nicely, showing a little bit of grey wrist on the bottom of the hand.

Meowlody comes with a black pleather vest jacket.  The material is very thin...almost like paper. It has a little ruffle along the back hem and a silver ribbon belt.  The design is cute, but I can't help but wish that it had more cat-related details or some kind of theme.

Underneath the vest, Meowlody is wearing a tiger print shirt.  She's also wearing an orange denim micro mini skirt with black stitching.

The shirt opens and closes with velcro all the way down the back, except for a small part of the shirt at the very bottom of the hem that connects the two sides.  The connected part goes under her tail to cover her lower back.  You have to put the shirt on by pulling it over her legs.  It's a bit of a pain.

It is a fairly simple outfit, but the black and white shirt contrasts nicely with the orange skirt.  Remember how I said Howleen was too Halloween?  Well, you'd think there would be a similar problem with this outfit, but the skirt is a deeper orange, and it's pretty much the only orange, and so I think it works.

Uh, oh...thong ribbon skirt alert.
She's wearing knee-high black boots with molded bow details and pink heels:

They go on and off easily, which was a pleasant surprise.
Under the clothes, Meowlody's body is all grey.  It's a neat color and gives her a very dramatic look.  She has white stripes down her right arm and down her left leg.  Her tail rotates 360 degrees around, but it isn't bendable.  Forgive me, but I think it looks like a monkey tail:


I like how her tail can contribute to her expressiveness.

The hip joints in these dolls are not strung.  They have the newer plastic articulation.  I like this a lot better than the elastic.

There are a few messy areas on her body.  They look like smudges of glue:

And some sloppy seam work on her side:

Purrsephone is Meowlody's mirror image twin.  I think Purrsephone dyed her hair, because mirror image twins are always identical.  Other than the hair, they are perfect mirror images of each other.  What this means for these dolls is that Purrsephone's stripes are on the opposite limbs and her tail is bent the opposite way:

The hairstyles are the same (except Purrsephone's striped bit is on the opposite side).  Purrsephone's dark hair doesn't show any of the yellow staining, and you also can't see her scalp through it, so I slightly prefer it to Meowlody's platinum.

She needs a bit of a trim.
This doll has more facial defects than the other one.  She has smudged paint on her nose and some glue marks on her cheeks.  I think the doll's noses hit the plastic window on the box and this rubs the paint off.  The white parts of her face were clearly painted over the grey, and while I don't have any suggestions about how this could have been done better, it looks strange in the areas where there's some grey showing through the white.

The eyes are perfect on this doll, too.
You can see a small glue or hair gel mark on this side:

And a pretty large mark on the other side:

Also, it's funny how her lip paint doesn't match the sculpt of her lips--not just that lower lip, but look at the edges of her mouth compared to where the lipstick ends.  Huh.  Anyway, I had to put these two pictures together because I think it looks neat:

Notice, above, that the goop/glue marks on the side of Purrsephone's face came right off with a moist towel.  Phew!

Purrsephone has a very similar outfit to Meowlody's.  The jacket is red (also very thin fake leather) with a ruffle in the back:

This jacket has a much more interesting ribbon belt and also has some angled silver decoration in the front that is reminiscent of a military jacket:

This makes me think of Michael Jackson.
Purrsephone's boots are also tall and black, but aren't quite as interesting as Meowlody's:

They're also hard to photograph.
The two skirts and purses are very similar, but they have subtly different colors.  Purrsephone's is a deep red (burnt orange?) and Meowlody's is a deep orange.  The difference between them is so subtle, at first I just assumed they were exactly the same:

It looks like each girl is supposed to have a glove that matches her sister's skirt. It almost works, but Meowlody's glove looks pink:

Purrsephone's top is also a tiger print, but hers is, predictably, white with black stripes:

It's very fun to play with the tails.  Love 'em.
I had some fun with these two cool cats together:

Please let our bff Toralei out of her box!
There are no finer cat than we am.
Bottom line? There was a drop in quality control with these two, I think.  This depresses me a bit because I always thought Mattel was doing a good job of maintaining or even improving on the quality of these dolls as they rocket in popularity.  I have seen this kind of quality decline happen so many times, though, it doesn't surprise me.  The hair styling is messy, the face paint looks rushed in some places and there is an absence of the little details and accessories that make Monster High dolls extra special.  Of the three werecats, Toralei is my easy favorite.  I like the striped face paint better than the big white patch, and I prefer her short red hair:

And she has a pet.
Despite the quality issues, I do enjoy the dolls.  I like the concept of mirror image twins and I think these two play off that theme in a fun way.  I love how they look posed together.  I really like the dark grey body color and even though the tails looks simian, I think it adds a lot to the dolls' personalities and to their posing repertoire.  They're keepers.

As an aside--I am not usually one to mess with an original, but in this case, I had to see what could be done about the glue stains and the stiff hair.  I washed Meowlody's hair in warm water and it came out like this:

Not only did I loose the definition of the stripes, I'm loosing the stripes.  They wash out.  So now she has a lot of little black flecks of loose paint in her hair:

Oops.  Big mistake.
That's my fault, though.  I should have just left the hair alone.  I'll probably wash all of the black out now, so it doesn't look funny.  On the up side, her hair is soft and goop-free, and her bangs look much better, I think.  The glue mark on her neck did not wash off.  That's there to stay.

I have such mixed feelings about this duo.  I had a fun time photographing them, and I like them enough to keep them, but they leave me a bit worried about where the quality of Monster High dolls is headed.  



  1. Great review. I have seen these dolls in the store and all of them have some kind of defect. Rather it be marks on the face or paint missing or just plain in the wrong spot. I understand these dolls are selling fast and children don't look for defects, the price makes you think they would put more effort in. Like I said I know they are probably a rush job to get on the shelves but COME ON!!!

    As for Cupid, she was the Walmart exclusive and I only saw her at one store. They had five of her. I bought one and then they were GONE!!! I never seen her again. Same with the 1600 dolls and Dead Tired. The dead tired were EVERYWHERE during xmas now you can't find one!!!

    1. Yes--well said. The demand is high, but there's no excuse for putting a defective toy on the shelves. I guess I was relatively lucky with the quality of my set because most of the spots came off and all of the paint (except the nose paint) is good.

      Those Dead Tired dolls were everywhere, weren't they! I remember that. They even went on a huge sale right before Christmas--I think $9.99 at Toys R Us. I saw a few at our more remote Target a week or two ago, but it's mostly the Skull Shores dolls--and even then it's mostly Ghoulia and very few of the others.

      I am glad you found a Cupid! :)

    2. If u r still looking for a c.a cupid they just made new ones with a diray. but the hair is a big MESS. it is really bad. where i live they have tons of them, 1st wave lala, spectra, wave 2 dolls. best place to find them is walmart, i would say sat-sunday. -rebelmockingjay

  2. Hello from a fellow Mainer! I loved your review; still on the fence about buying them but leaning more towards getting them now...

    I saw a total of 3 Cupids; they were in the same store- 2 the first time (and I couldn't buy them at the time) and 1 the second time which I did buy. We must be in different parts of the state as I've only seen one Skull Shores doll and that was last month >.<

    1. Oh! You're in Maine and you found Cupid?!! I am so jealous! I am in the greater Portland area, so I go to the Walmarts in Falmouth and South Portland. Never a single Cupid. Not that I want to buy her--I just want to see her. I should scope out the Walmart in Windham, too, which is close.

      How do you like this Maine weather lately? It's pretty incredible. I almost went to the beach after work yesterday. :)

  3. I have only ever seen dolls at Target for some reason, any time I've gone to other stores they literally have no MH dolls at all but plenty of add-on stuff. It's always a little disappointing because I really like to look at all the options before picking which doll I want. Target only has Skull Shores right now, but I did end up getting the Draculaura (on sale even I think) recently and she is very nice quality - which only makes me want another!

    1. Oh--I love that Skull Shores Draculaura! I don't have her, but she is very cute. I saw her at Target the other day, too. Skull Shores is a very nice, relatively inexpensive group of dolls. Easy to want just one more. :)

      That add-on stuff is definitely easier to find. I wonder if a lot of people are buying that kind of thing? Today I saw what looked like big life size cardboard posters of the ghouls. I guess those would be fun for a Monster High themed room, but I wonder if a lot of it is just to offer as a consolation prize for little kids who come to the store and can't find a doll?

  4. Great review as always. :D

    I have never seen a Monster High Doll in any of the Targets or Wall-marts near me. Always empty shelving. I've found my dolls in the oddest stores. I picked a Skull Shores Ghoulia at Boscovs. They had a few of the basic dolls and even a Toralei. I didn't have enough cash to get both dolls so I went with my favorite Ghoulia. I also managed to find the Draculaura And Clawd Wolf Doll Giftset at Shop Rite of all places. The dolls are out there but it's a hell of a hunt to find them.

    1. It is a hunt, that's for sure! Wow--I have never even heard of Boscovs! Is that a department store? I saw a few at Justice and at Claire's earring shop, so that definitely supports your point that they can turn up in some very unique places! Glad you found that Ghoulia--she's great. I love her lip color and her hairstyle.

  5. Thanks for the review and photos! I haven't seen these in person yet but I haven't been looking too hard, I'm tired of the Monster High hunt. I'll look when I'm in a store with a toy department, but I've stopped making special trips to Walmart just to look for Cupid, etc. Ridiculous.

    Last Sunday I noticed my local Fred Meyer removed the MH shelf tags and moved other toys into the generous shelf space previously devoted to MH. I overheard a worker explain to a little girl they did this because they wouldn't get any MH dolls in for a few months. I don't think he was messing with her, he left to ask a supervisor about it and returned with that explanation.

    The very next day I went to TRU and they had over 30 MH dolls on the shelf (including Operetta and Nefera de Nile, two dolls I've seen just once or twice previously). These dolls weren't there a week before. TRU devotes more shelf space to Mattel (Barbie) than anyone else in the area so I think they're being rewarded.

    I buy groceries every weekend at Fred Meyer so I'll keep checking the doll aisle, just to see if it really does take months for FM to have them back in stock. I know not to believe everything store employees say, maybe he was given bad info or misunderstood what he was told. It just seemed weird they actually removed the stickers and filled up the shelf space with other toys. The store manager may have been fed up after the Sunday flyer ad a couple weeks ago that featured MH Dead Tired dolls for $8.99. They posted an apology letter on the shelf saying the dolls weren't in stock and they wouldn't issue rain checks. I bet they had a lot of angry parents giving them grief about it.

    1. Interesting! I have some intel. that supports your thought that Toys R Us has an advantage with the Monster High stock. I think you're absolutely right. I suspect some retailers will get weary of the angry customers and lack of product from Mattel. I can't blame them. It seems like an inherently emotional customer base--parents trying to make their kids' dreams come true...and having a hard time making it happen. :(

      For me, though, as I said to Alice, the hunt is still fun. I have nothing to loose--no one gets disappointed if I can't find a particular doll, and I get a huge rush when I find something "rare." :-D

      I'm sure Mattel knows exactly what they're doing...

  6. Interesting review again! I don't even know if these werecat twins will come to our country at all, it seems a lot of the MH dolls don't. And those dolls that do come, make only the briefest appearence nowadays before they are sold out. I think the stores here get very small shipments and because of the popularity are sold out in a blink. I have never even seen Gil or Cupid or Operetta in the toy stores here and the last time I saw such a basic doll as Cleo was last summer...

    For example, last week I went looking for MH in two of our local Toys'r'Us stores. The other had no MH dolls at all and the second place had only 4 boxes of the Sweet 1600 line, one Skull Shores Ghoulia and one Toralei. I grabbed the Toralei and asked the staff if they are getting new dolls soon, and they said they don't know.

    I am kind of getting tired of hunting these dolls, too.

    1. Wow, Alice! That sounds like very slim pickings, indeed. I think you're absolutely right when you say that small shipments arrive and are instantly sold out. That's the impression I get here, too.

      For the time being, I actually enjoy the hunt, as strange as that might seem. For me, toys that are hard to find are a bit more mysterious and fun. I should be a Monster High personal shopper or something like that. ;)

  7. The regular dolls haven't been that bad QC wise but these are store exclusives and it seems par the course that store exclusives are slightly lower quality for most toy lines not just MH. I have seen people use a black sharpie to get the stripes in Meowlody's hair. You could probably even make the black stripes thicker so it looks more like white stripes in black hair.

    1. I love that sharpie idea! That's a perfect suggestion. I had a mini Blythe doll once and I colored all her hair blue with a sharpie (to cover stains) and it looks great! The only problem is that smell. Yuk. :oP

      I hope you're right that it's just a store exclusive issue and not a general decline in quality. There shouldn't be poor quality store exclusives, of course, but better that then poor quality in all of the dolls!

  8. A very fair and succinct review! Here in the UK, if I find the werecat twins they always have these weird scratches on their legs, like someone took a razor blade to them. :/ I had to return the ones I got online as Meowlody's legs were just awful. I can understand how face paint errors occur, but how on earth do all those scratches get there?! Very mysterious.

    1. Hi Frankie! That is strange. I checked my dolls over again, just to be sure I didn't miss scratches like you described, and I didn't see anything. It is a mysterious problem, I agree! I can't imagine how the scratches get there...and how they get past quality control, but then again, lots of things seem to be making it past quality control. I am really sorry you had this experience. The dolls are so hard to find, getting a bad one must be such a disappointment!

    2. It is indeed strange - the scratches are kind of like laddered hosiery, lots of little cuts going down Meowlody's calf. :/ It's very, very weird, and as I didn't want to waste time seeing if I could buff them out, I simply had to make a return.

      I'm going to wait a month or so and then order them again. Maybe the next batch will be better...(not optimistic).

  9. We just got the twins today and there is something funky with their knee joints. The first set I brought home without realizing that M's right leg was snapped at the knee. So hubby went back on the hunt and found a set about five stores later that was intact. Yet, upon inspection we see that the left knee on the M from this box doesn't bend. We are not going to force it in case it is planning to snap.

    We're hanging onto the box etc. and if her leg snaps we will be contacting Mattel. They were very good about replacing Dawn of the Dance Clawdeen when the plastic strap that holds her legs on broke.

    1. I'm sorry you got a bad leg, Melissa! That's such a bummer. However, it's nice that Mattel will replace defective dolls--I didn't realize this. It's especially nice with the rarer dolls. I know people will sometimes settle for a less-than-perfect doll because they don't know if they'll ever find another one in the stores! Good luck with your new set. :)

  10. Emily, it was a exlusive werecat pack, not a werewolf one like you said it was.

    1. Sharp eyes! Thank you so much for the correction! :)

    2. Glad I could help! :]

  11. I actually have these two as well, and they were....wait, yeah, they were my very first Monster High dolls. I bought them second hand from a guy who had them only exposed, you know, collection and stuff, and at first I thought he glued the hair to look like that (I didn't know the company put such an awful ammount of glue in their dolls), so I tried to wash it off and I lost both black stripes.

    Still, their hair looks amazing now (no stripes though, but not awful lines of glued hair either), and they sure have fun with my Catrine, not letting me put them in a good position because they always have their tails in the way (sigh, cats these days). Even my cat behaves better than they do!
    But I still love that trio.

    Amazing review, as always, and glad to see I'm not the only one who got that case of glued hairdo and lost of stripes.