Showing posts with label Monster High. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monster High. Show all posts

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Monster High Haunt Couture Clawdeen Wolf

Monster High dolls were among the very first things that I reviewed ten years ago when this blog was brand-new, so they will always have a special place in my heart.  I delighted in their strange body proportions, excellent articulation, outstanding design, intricate accessories (those shoes!), and refreshing originality.  I've reviewed a lot of characters from this line over the years, both on my own and with the help of some wonderful guest reviewers.  When the brand was retired in 2017, I had mixed feelings.  In the year or two leading up to the cancellation, I had begun to grow weary of the overabundance of dolls on the toy store shelves.  The sheer number of characters made each individual doll feel less special.  And the dolls themselves were literally less special; the quality and attention to detail had begun to decline.  For the most part, the later dolls have simpler outfits, fewer accessories, more basic painted features, and lots of trouble with gluey heads and arms (or tails!) that fall off too easily.

After the dolls were gone, though, I missed them more than I thought I would.  Specifically, I missed the anticipation and excitement that surrounded the release of new characters.  There was always the chance that one of the new dolls would stand out from the pack.  Because the thing is, even as the overall quality and originality of the brand was declining, there were little bursts of brilliance.  Avea Trotter, for example, is still one of my favorite dolls of all time.  I also thought the Inner Monster series was a huge amount of fun.  There was a limited edition Draculaura released in 2015 who is beautiful (I owned her briefly), and the 2017 special edition of Zomby Gaga is incredible, too.  She's one of the rare dolls that I'll never sell.  So even though I coveted fewer and fewer Monster High dolls towards the end of their original run, the brand still had the ability to create some absolute treasures.

Over the last few years, mostly while I wasn't paying attention, hints started to swirl around that Monster High might reboot.  For example, in 2020, Mattel released a small series of movie-themed dolls (Pennywise and the Grady twins...covet!).  There was some buzz about a new animated television show and a new movie, too.  Then, finally, the official announcement came: new dolls would be released in 2022.  Despite the mixed feelings I'd had in previous years, I got very excited about this news; it was a chance to find some new treasures!  And the reboot wave looked like it might have some gems among it.  This group includes three collector's edition dolls; Draculaura, Frankie Stein, and Clawdeen Wolf.  Clawdeen has always been one of my favorite characters, so she's the one I chose:

Monster High Haunt Couture Clawdeen Wolf, $75.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Catwalk Kitties by Lanard

And now for something completely different!  Today I'm going to share the wacky world of Catwalk Kitties with you!  This is a discontinued brand of anthropomorphic play dolls that was introduced in 2005 by the Hong Kong-based company, Lanard.  

The Catwalk Kitties were not very popular in their time, judging by the fact that they were released in 2005 and discontinued in 2006.  I'm interested in the Kitties because there's speculation online that these fashion felines might have been Mattel's inspiration for Monster High, which debuted a few years later in 2010.  However, Mattel explored cat fashion themselves back in 2003 when they released the Lounge Kitties--a group of Barbie dolls clad in cat suits.  Regardless of who was inspired by whom, there have been some fascinating animal-themed play dolls in the past few decades.  In this review I'll focus mainly on the Catwalk Kitties, but I'll also do short comparisons to a Monster High cat and a Lounge Kitties doll--and I'll throw in a little Pinkie Cooper to keep the dog lovers happy.

Before I get started, I want to acknowledge two good friends and their roles in this review.  First of all, even though I mentioned the Catwalk Kitties briefly in my Pinkie Cooper review, I never would have remembered them if it wasn't for Katrina.  She sent me an excited message through Patreon when she found one of these dolls on eBay, and that's what got the ball of yarn rolling.  I also want to thank Darcy, who suggested that I review something vintage and strange.  What could be more vintage and strange than a big-headed fashion cat from 2006?  Also, Darcy loves cats more than anyone I know, so--Darc et al., this one's for you:

Catwalk Kitties Sienna, by Lanard ($114 on the secondary market).

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Enchantimals by Mattel

Today I'm going to review Mattel's newest sensation, the six-inch tall, animal-like Enchantimals.  I came across these little dolls almost by accident a few weeks ago while I was researching the new Monster High Family line (which also includes several six-inch animal-like characters).

Instead of leaping right in and introducing the Enchantimals, I though maybe I'd change things up and try to describe what it's like here in my house as I type up these reviews.  First of all, there are animals everywhere.  I usually have my chronically flatulent mini poodle, Zelda, curled up on my right side and my mutt, Pants, cuddled as close as Zelda will let him get.  A parakeet cage sits immediately to my left, and this houses our two male birds: Bundy and Griffin.  Griffin is always very interested in what I'm doing.  His favorite activity is to "help" me type (in other words, to sit on the keyboard and pull up on the computer's keys with his beak...pooping on my track pad as he works) but when I don't let him do this, he sits in his cage and looks over my shoulder, offering helpful chirps (or squawks) when he feels they're necessary.

While all of this is going on, my youngest son (now 17) is practicing the piano about ten feet away from me.  I say this like it's always happening...because it is.  In fact, a few of you might have noticed him in the background sound of my WuvLuv videos.  I enjoy listening to the piano while I work, I do, but the problem is that my ancient dog, Padawan, imagines himself an excellent jazz singer.  So, he's often accompanying my son's practice with his geriatric howl.  Better still, all three of the parakeets tend to sing (or squawk, depending on whether or not they like the song...) to the music as well.

So, basically, everything I do is set against a background of piano music, animal noises, and pet interference companionship.  This can be distracting some days, sure, but today--as I review an animal-themed doll line--it feels totally natural.  Speaking of nature, I'll start things off by showing you one of my Enchantimals (Felicity Fox) outside enjoying the brilliant colors of summer:

review
Enchantimals Felicity Fox by Mattel, $7.99.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Zomby Gaga by Monster High and the
Born This Way Foundation

Whoa.  What a wintry week we're having here in Maine!  Thursday was the second snow day in a row for the local kids, and we're looking at another two feet of snow for tonight.  I'm hoping to get this review posted before that storm hits!  So far we've been fortunate enough to keep power (and avoid any more branches through the roof) so it's been an excellent time for me to work on my next several reviews.  I'm really excited about all of the dolls that I have planned for the upcoming month...I just hope I can work as fast as my mind is racing!

This particular review has been a long time coming.  I pre-ordered Monster High's Zomby Gaga back in October (after Dmitry's excellent suggestion).  Zomby Gaga is a special edition doll meant to depict Lady Gaga from her Born This Way music video.  Zomby Gaga arrived in early January, but I've had a hard time tracking down the other doll I needed for this review--Robert Tonner's Zombie Boy.  Zombie Boy is the screen name of Rick Genest, the tattooed model who appears alongside Lady Gaga in her video.  I finally found the Zombie Boy doll safely tucked away on a back shelf.  He's fragile, and so I don't keep him on display.

The timing actually worked out really well, though, because the real Lady Gaga performed at the epic Super Bowl game last weekend, and so I've had her songs going through my head all week.

"Zomby Gaga" by Monster High, $23.99.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sunday Surprise: Toy Box Monthly Subscription!

I'm sure many of you have heard of subscription boxes like Loot Crate and Birchbox.  The idea is that you sign up to receive a mystery box of stuff every month.  These subscriptions have become so popular, it's now possible to get boxes with just about any theme you can imagine: pet supplies, books, cosmetics, food, crafts...and toys.

My son and I tried a subscription a few months ago called The Mystery Experiences Company.  This company sends out a detailed mystery to be solved every month--each with little puzzles, artifacts and clues to help with the solution.  This was fun, but we discovered quickly that we didn't have the time or patience to dig into a complex new mystery every month.  When I was canceling the mystery subscription, I spotted Toy Box Monthly.  For $20 ($15 plus shipping), this company sends a little box of mystery toys every month.  This sounded like the perfect thing for the Sunday Surprise!

I should mention right off the bat that the Shopkins Lil' Shoppie shown below did not come in the subscription box.  So why am I showing you a picture of her?  Well, I didn't want to give away what was in the subscription box (that would ruin the surprise!) but also, these Shopkins items will make an appearance at the end of the post.  That's all I'll say for now.

Shopkins Rainbow Kate ($5.49) and a Happy Places blind box ($2.99).

Monday, January 11, 2016

Photo Mission! (With a Mini Review of Posea Reef)

It's been a bit of a rocky start to the new year for me.  Family distractions caused me to take a step back and look closely at the blog.  When I first started blogging, I read an article describing how it can take, on average, five years of hard work before it's clear whether or not a new blog will be successful.  That seemed reasonable, and so I promised myself that I'd get to work and not worry too much about success (whatever that means) until at least four years had passed.  Now, four years later, I find myself wondering about the success of my blogging approach.

There are so many things I love about this blog--things that I consider a huge success.  First of all, I love to photograph dolls and write about them.  And, there's an incredible selection of amazing dolls out there to review.  I feel like the proverbial kid in a candy shop most days.  In addition, I get a lot of visitors or "page hits" (the brass rings of blogging) and am about to hit the 6,000,000 mark, which is unbelievable.  I also love you guys.  I'd wager that few blogs have such an amazing, kind, insightful audience.  But the bottom line is really all about...well, the bottom line.  The harsh reality is that this blog is losing money.  Lots of money.  Breaking even would be one thing, but losing money is starting to be bad.  This could be my fault, or just the way blogs are these days.  I don't know.  But I can no longer pretend that this is my job.  It's kind-of the opposite.

I like blogging too much to give it up completely, but my approach definitely has to change.  While I figure out what all of this means, I thought I would publish the wonderful contributions from the last Photo Mission.  I asked to see pictures of the interesting dolls for sale in your part of the world.  I added my own photographs to this post and will also include two short reviews.  One of the reviews is of a doll that I found during the Photo Mission: Monster High's new mermaid, Posea Reef. Snapping pictures of Posea on the store shelf was not enough--I wanted to get a closer look at her:

Monster High Posea Reef, $19.99.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mystixx Rococo Zombie Azra

I've been casually keeping track of the Mystixx dolls ever since my review of Kalani way back in 2012.  I think the brand might be discontinued (judging by Playhut's empty product page and the lack of dolls on the shelves), and frankly I'm surprised by how long they stuck around.  There have even been a few new waves introduced during the last three years.  The release that really got my attention, though, was the Rococo Zombies.  These bizarre dolls combine the trademark two-faced Mystixx head with a loose interpretation of 18th century fashion and cosmetics centered around a white painted zombie face--which was going to be my Halloween cover shot:

Mystixx Rococo Zombie Azra's face.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Khaki Girl" Monster High Knockoff Doll from China

Since Halloween is rapidly approaching, I thought it would be fun to look at some monster dolls.  As I hunted around for an appropriately spooky doll to review, I was struck by how many lines are still imitating the spindly look or supernatural theme of the mega-popular Monster High characters.  There are the Mystixx zombie and vampire dolls, the Zombie Girls, Midnight Magic Day and Night dolls, the Once Upon a Zombie line, Mattel's own Ever After High dolls...and even a bunch of shameless bootlegs of actual Monster High dolls.

It would be great to show off several monster-themed dolls this week, but as things are going I'll probably only get to one or two.  I'll start with a very blatant example: a knockoff copy of Monster High Clawdeen that I found on eBay:

Khaki Girl knockoff doll (left) and Monster High Scaris Clawdeen Wolf (right).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Ever After High Repaint Tutorial by Charlotte of Milklegs Dolls

I have been looking forward to this post for a long time.  My guest today is Charlotte--a talented doll artist from the United Kingdom who specializes in customization.  Charlotte mixes and matches bodies and heads (Azone bodies with Licca-chan heads is a favorite of hers...) and also repaints a variety of dolls ranging from Obitsu to Monster High.  You can see her work on Instagram and also on Tumblr.  Charlotte and I started communicating over a year ago, at which point she had a ton of great ideas for a customization-themed guest review.  My favorite idea of hers was that she share some of the techniques behind her beautiful repaints.  Well...as it happened, Charlotte got busy earning a degree and I got busy playing with dolls, and it ended up taking a year to pull this post together.

That all worked out for the best, though, because Charlotte has gotten even more accomplished over the last year, and has actually opened an Etsy shop (Milklegs Dolls) through which I was able to purchase a few of her repainted Monster High and Ever After High dolls.  So, in this post Charlotte will walk us through her repainting process and then I will share some pictures of my two exquisite Milklegs girls.

Ever After High Briar Beauty and Monster High Frights, Camera, Action! Clawdeen Wolf.
Repainted by Charlotte of Milklegs Dolls.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The 17-Inch Freak du Chic "Gooliope Jellington" from Monster High

Mattel seems to wait until my interest in the Monster High line is waning, and then they announce a very cool and unexpected new addition that gets me all enthusiastic again.  The last time this happened was in June of last year, when the centaur Avea Trotter came out.  In one fell swoop, that exceptional equine renewed my awe for the creativity behind the Monster High concept.  My enthusiasm also got a mid-year boost with the release of the Inner Monster dolls. This year, just as I started to skip the Monster High aisle at Toys R Us, or yawn as I scrolled through pictures online, the new 17-inch dolls were announced.  A Monster High doll this large would have been plenty exciting on its own, but these new giants also have an updated style of articulation.  Yay!  Monster High articulation is already so good, the idea of improved and increased joints on these dolls was enough to make me absolutely giddy with curiosity.

I want to thank everyone who emailed me about the appearance of the first super-sized Monster High doll: Gooliope Jellington.  Without your tips, I might not have noticed from the online pictures that Gooliope was any larger than a regular Monster High character.  This doll is scaled up so accurately that when she's photographed alone, she can easily be mistaken for an 11-inch doll:

Freak du Chic "Gooliope Jellington," $29.99.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Monster Exchange "Lorna McNessie" and Haunted "Vandala Doubloons"

Before I start this review, I just want to say a quick word about my email inbox.  I really love to get emails about the blog and recommendations for interesting dolls that I should look at.  However, I have recently become overwhelmed by messages and can't find the time to give everyone the response they deserve.  So, if you are waiting for a reply from me--I am so, so sorry for the long delay.  I will do my best to get caught up soon, but there never seem to be enough hours in the day!

One reason for my email ineptitude is that I spend way too much time photographing dolls.  This review, for example, was meant to be just of Lorna McNessie--one of the new Monster High "Monster Exchange" dolls.  However, when I was shopping for Lorna, the other new Monster High line, "Haunted," also caught my eye.  I've had several requests to look at both of these new groups of dolls, so I figured I would try to do one of each in the same post.  So...yeah.  It's another long review.

I'll start by taking a close look at Miss Lorna, whose red hair and Scottish ("Rottish") heritage was too much for me to resist--even for $23.  I'll end the review by taking a slightly less in-depth look at Vandala Doubloons, the fancy, ethereal daughter of a pirate ghost.

Monster Exchange "Lorna McNessie," $22.99.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Lammily Doll

Lammily is a unique new fashion doll who was released at the end of December.  The mainstream media is very interested in this doll, and has been since her conception in early 2013.  In fact, I didn't learn about Lammily through the usual doll collecting channels, but rather from my brother-in-law, who saw an article about her in The Atlantic last May.

Lammily was designed by graphic artist Nickolay Lamm, and the reason that she has captured such widespread attention is that she was designed to have the body proportions of a typical American teenager.  Unlike Barbie (and most other 12-inch fashion dolls) Lammily does not have an impossibly tiny waist, large chest, oversized head or spindly legs.  Mr. Lamm used body measurements published by the Center for Disease Control to ensure that his doll would not only be realistic...but would be average.  The word "average" does not tend to conjure visions of loveliness, but Mr. Lamm challenged this preconception and branded his doll with the inspiring logo, "Average is Beautiful."

I pre-ordered two Lammily dolls immediately after reading the article in The Atlantic (the dolls are $25 each).  This is exactly the kind of crowd-funded, vision-driven project that I love to see in the doll world.  I was inherently enthusiastic about the Lammily concept, but an email I received from Nickolay Lamm last May added to my excitement.  Mr. Lamm wrote seeking some advice about the doll's articulation--and you guys can probably guess that I, uh, had a fair amount to say on that subject.  Conversations back and forth with Mr. Lamm over the past few months have given me a fascinating glimpse into the creative process behind this unique new doll.  I have been on pins and needles to see how all of Mr. Lamm's ideas came together in the debut doll, and am beyond excited to share my initial impressions with all of you:

The Lammily Doll
The Lammily doll makes her entrance.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review Fusion #4

It's hard for me to believe that November is half over already!  There is so much excitement at this time of year in my house, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, the academic quarter ending, the first snowfall of the season, the big musical production at our high school, visits from family, and of course the beginnings of holiday shopping.

Amidst the happy pandemonium of the next couple of weeks, I'd like to try and do some shorter reviews of the dolls and toys that seem especially popular or interesting this holiday season, but I also want to squeeze in a few more guest reviews before I get too busy.  This Fusion post will attempt to address both goals: I have two really neat guest reviews to share with you, and I'll also offer my own quick evaluation of one of the most sought-after toys in this neck of the woods lately: My Size Anna.

My Size Anna (Target, $59.99).

Friday, October 31, 2014

McFarlane Toys' 10" Daryl Dixon Figure from "The Walking Dead"

I don't review action figures very often, but since tonight is Halloween, I am going to look at McFarlane's 10 inch Daryl Dixon figure from The Walking Dead.  Daryl (played by actor Norman Reedus) is my favorite male character in this gritty, gruesome and addictive television drama.  When I saw how accurate this figure is to Daryl's character, I knew he'd have to join my collection.  As an added bonus, it's nice to have this fearless crossbow hunter around to patrol my woods on such a spooky night....

10" Daryl Dixon meets a Gentleman.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Zombie Shake "Rochelle Goyle" and "Venus McFlytrap"--A Guest Review!

Over the summer, several of you asked if I would consider reviewing the Zombie Shake versions of Rochelle Goyle and Venus McFlytrap.  Within weeks of those requests, almost like magic, I got an email from Katla, a lovely Monster High fan from Sweden.  Katla emailed to ask if I would be interested in a guest review of this exact Zombie Shake pair...and of course I eagerly said yes.  Not only was Katla's email brilliantly-timed, but this is a set that I have been curious about myself.  I think Venus and Rochelle are two of the most interesting and unique Monster High characters.

I've really enjoyed getting a look at this fabulous zombie pair through Katla's artistic, detail-oriented eyes, and I hope you will, too.

Zombie Shake Venus and Rochelle
Zombie Shake "Rochelle Goyle" and "Venus McFlytrap," by Monster High.

Monday, September 22, 2014

"We Are Monster High" Five Pack--A Guest Review!

I am happy to share a guest review with you today, and am especially delighted to welcome back a previous guest, Toy Town, for another fun Monster High review.  Toy Town reviewed the Power Ghouls Cat Tastrophe doll for you last November, and is here today to look at the large "We Are Monster High" set.  This tempting multi-pack has five dolls, including a new character, Gilda Goldstag, and one of the elusive Monster High males, Sloman Mortavich--also known as "Slo Mo."  Please tell us more about this intriguing set, Toy Town!

Hello everyone, Toy Town here! Today, we will be looking at the new We Are Monster High 5 pack! I know a lot of you are wondering if it’s a must-have or not, so I’ll share my personal opinions about this pack and hopefully it will help you decide.

We Are Monster High
We Are Monster High set, $56.99.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Scaremester "Invisi Billy" by Monster High--A Guest Review!

I have two neat guest reviews for you this week, but they are about two very different things, so I decided that instead of doing a Review Fusion post, I will publish the reviews separately with a little break in between.

This first review is written by Ana, a new friend of mine from Italy.  I always get extra-excited to share reviews from different parts of the world, because I think they highlight the universal and timeless fascination with dolls in our culture--a phenomenon that makes me really happy.  Ana and her six-year-old daughter Ellie are fortunate to share a passion for dolls, and are both particularly fond of the Monster High characters.  Ellie is a girl after my own heart, and has an impressive collection of the Monster High werecats and werewolves.  Ana's own favorite dolls are Scarah and Venus, who she likes for their beautiful personalities.  From the short time I have known Ana, I can tell you that her personality is equally lovely.

Ana is just the right person to review one of the new Monster High boy characters, Invisi Billy, because she has an extensive collection of ghoulish guys and a keen eye for their similarities and differences.  Without further ado, I will turn the post over to Ana!

Invisi Billy Monster High
"Invisi Billy" by Monster High.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Inner Monster "Fearfully Feisty and Fangtastic Love" by Monster High

After finding Avea Trotter, who for me is the ultimate Monster High doll, I didn't think I would be spending as much time in the Monster High aisles of my regular stores.  However, I have found myself quite interested in seeing the new dolls come into stock--particularly the remaining items in the Freaky Fusion line.  It's fascinating to see the different combinations of characters.  So far, my favorites are Lagoonafire (Lagoona and Jinafire), Dracubecca (Draculaura and Robecca) and maybe Neighthan Rot...although I still think he should have been a centaur.

Anyway, while I was examining these mixed-up monsters last week, I noticed a lone box with a slightly different design sitting off to one side.  At first, the bright neon colors on this box reminded me too much of the Sweet Screams collection and I was a little turned off.  But then, I found myself seduced by how many accessories seemed to come with this doll for her relatively low price--it looked impressive.  Finally, a single sentence made me grab the box and head straight for the checkout: push brain to change my eyes.  Well, that's the kind of thing you don't have to tell me twice.  I was sold.  This ghoulish temptress had me at "push brain."

Fearfully Feisty and Fangtastic Love
Inner Monster doll, "Fearfully Feisty and Fangtastic Love" $21.99.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Freaky Fusion "Avea Trotter" by Monster High

I don't have to tell you how excited I am about one of the newest Monster High characters, the Freaky Fusion centaur, Avea Trotter.  I love how so many of you knew that this would be the perfect doll for me, and sent me links and tips when she was released--thank you!

The Freaky Fusion collection is small (so far...), but awesome.  The first releases are three hybrid monsters based on characters from an upcoming DVD.  There is Siren von Boo, who is part mermaid and part ghost, Bonita Femur, a mix of skeleton and moth...and Avea Trotter, who is half centaur and half harpy.   Bonita is my least favorite, just because I couldn't really figure out what she was supposed to be by looking at her.  Siren is gorgeous, with incredible-looking long purple hair, a luminescent torso and a fancy silver tail.  But Avea...she is my easy favorite.

I'll admit that I have been losing some of my interest in Monster High lately.  Many of the newer dolls are great if I look at them individually, but as a group they all blur together.  The Freaky Fusion line is a breath of fresh air.  All three dolls are complicated and interesting to look at, and Avea stands out from the usual Monster High crowd like a neon sign.  She is large, colorful, stylish, freaky, and, in my opinion, exactly the doll Monster High needed to rekindle the magic in this franchise.

Freaky Fusion "Avea Trotter," $24.99.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Frights, Camera, Action!" Monster High dolls--A Joint Review!

I am so grateful for guest reviews, because not only do I get a fresh, new perspective on a doll line, but I often get the motivation I need to review a doll that has been sitting in my house for ages.  Today, I am happy to get a chance to review a couple of Frights, Camera, Action! Monster High dolls, with the help of Grace, a 13-year-old doll friend from England.  Grace's perspective is especially valuable to me because she is the target audience for the Monster High franchise.  In other words, her opinion is what really matters.  Grace will share her Clawdia Wolf doll with you, and then I will do a quick review of my Honey Swamp doll.  I would like to thank Grace for her insights, her patience, and for inspiring me to buy a Clawdia Wolf of my own:

Frights, Camera, Action!  Clawdia Wolf.