:( what if you explained to me why monster high is great?
Are you sure you want this? Because even though Monster High is pretty much Ai’s Thing, I can’t deny I spent two hours last night bagging and labeling the accessories for 36 of these things, just because I wanted to. Also when I talk about Monster High I can play Devil’s Advocate and talk about the things that are wrong and changes I’d like to see.
(My GF really digs it when I play with her toys, so yeah, let’s do this. I’ve made one of these posts before but why not give it another shot.)
First off, Monster High is a line of Fashion Dolls by Mattel, the people who brought you Barbie. The website runs a series of flash animated webisodes and there have been a few television specials produced for Nickeldeon, also flash animated with the exception of the upcoming Valentine’s Day special which just looks generic as fuck okay, gosh.
There’s a series of YA novels out there too, and I’ve tried to read them, but they’re just utter trash. I mean, completely unforgivable. They’re rife with celebrity name drops and designer product placement and each character is only defined by the Cool Things they own and I make a habit of trying to suffer through terrible things just to say I did, but I just couldn’t make it through the monster high novels.
The basic gist of the franchise is this: monsters and creatures from popular media, literature, myth and folklore have teenaged kids, and these kids go to school together. The bullet point under this is that we are all different and unique and weird in our own ways, and it’s these quirks and differences that make us fucking awesome. The cartoons are pretty thick with morals and life lessons, mostly about acceptance, the importance of diversity, with an extra helping of teenage drama (friendship, dating, teenage awkwardness, embarrassment, popularity, trust issues, etc.) The first season was mostly 1.5 minute clips with no real cohesion as a story, but the second season had an ongoing continuity with slightly longer episodes. All of these can be found on the website, and maybe also youtube? I haven’t seen them all because I have a hard time relating to teenage girl bullshit, and unless the episode introduces a new character or centers heavily on Ghoulia, Ai doesn’t make me watch it.
But whatever, let’s talk about the dolls since these are the things that are spreading unchecked across our house.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the dolls, on subjects varying from the quality and durability of the dolls to how they’re essentially Bratz for Twitards, and I think anybody who has used these arguments Doesn’t Know About Toys.
Toys are not necessarily and exclusively for children. You can hand a five year old a Barbie doll because Barbie is made primarily of rubber and vinyl. She has no small removable pieces and your standard playline Barbie has no real bendable joints. Barbie is sturdy girl and can withstand a hell of a lot.
So I guess if you hand your 5 year old a Monster High-which dissambles at the wrists and elbows so they can get in and out of their clothes and accessories-you’re going to have a problem. The tiny pegs that allow the appendages to be removable are going to break if you’re not careful with them. A few other character have extra removable pieces, and if you give one of these to a very small child, your Lagoona Blue is going to end up finless, I’m sorry to say.
The fact that every MH doll comes with a stand is telling. They are playline: they’re meant to be played with—gently—and they’re also meant to be displayed, because they are unique and beautiful and detailed! Unlike your standard fashion dolls, every MH character has their own unique head mold.
Frankie Stein (1) has square features. She has a little square chin and a dainty square nose, and if you were to unplug all her hair, you would see the top of her head is even a little bit flat! Abbey Bominable (2) has a very sturdy jaw and a bit of an under bite to allow for her tusks. Toralei Stripe (3) has a boss little flat cat nose. Ghoulia Yelps (sans glasses) at (4) because I love her and she is my favorite. Lagoona Blue (5) has a very flat fishy nose, finned ears, and wide, protruding fishy eyes, and Spectra Vondergeist (6) has very high cheek bones and an almost sallow face.
At 12:00 is Lagoona’s Wave 2 Basic webbed fingers “hang loose” hand mold. Spectra at about 2:30; both her hands and her feet fade from white to transparent. Ghoulia again at 6:00 with the basic handmold most of the characters sport. Abbey at 8:00. Her hands are larger than any of the other girls’, and her claws more pronounced. Toralei at at 10:00. You can see her tail in this photo too.
They’re infinitely more detailed than Bratz will ever be. There’s something about the design of a Bratz doll that repulses a lot of us to our very core. We look at those enormous, amorphous blobs for feet and the weird, painted on clown lips and it just triggers the repulsion center of our brains somehow. I knew I hated them without ever getting my hands on one, and once I did (Ai and I spent some time using them to practice hair plugging and face painting) I realized how awful they really were.
Dawn of the Dance Frankie and I don’t even know who this Bratz is. Sorry, I don’t really care.
The molded features on a Bratz face is very soft and vague. Frankie’s is very detailed: she has actual nostrils for fuck’s sake, and her lipstick is actually confined to her lips.
(Most Bratz don’t actually have those little painted on panties, as far as I know.)
This is where I think most people (including me) find fault with Monster Highs. Their stretched torsos and arched backs cause a lot of negative reactions, and I get that. I think if you look at the whole picture though, Frankie has a lot of stunning detail in the torso. She has a delicate little collar bone, an acual tummy and hips, and, this is going to sound weird, but her breasts are actually kind of breast shaped?
Frankie has little shoulder blades!
All MH dolls are crafted to wear stupidly high heels, which is…exhausting. As someone who makes a habit of searching for flat footed toys for girls, This gets really old really fast. Granted they come in a variety of shoe styles, all of with are gorgeously designed. But at least they have toes, okay, toes that are shaped like toes. Not…whatever the fuck that is on the left.
(I’m secretly holding out for a younger, less sexualized Monster Jr. High line, but I’m confident in adding this to the list of things that will probably never come to be. I don’t object to the arched backs and 8 inch heels, I would just like for there to maybe be a girl character who didn’t fit this mold. Early photos of Howleen Wolf promise a more petite doll with lower heels, but we’ll see.)
Hands because just look at them gosh.
I don’t think the Bratz comparison is particularly fair. Especially when Bratz have literally been marketed as girls who care about boys, shopping, clothes and pretty much nothing else. There’s a layer of humor and irony beneath the characters of Monster High. Ghoulia Yelps is a zombie who has brains. She’s slow and inelegant and speaks in a zombie’s moan, but she uses her knowledge of things like physics to make the world work in her favor. Even her outfit has sneaky references to pop culture, namely the jacket Michael Jackson wore in the Thriller video. Draculaura is a vegan vampire. They’re just plain unique and fun and fuck the haters.
It’s fun as hell waiting for the new characters to pop up. Mattel recently trademarked the names Robecca Steam (steampunk robot please please let her be a steampunk robot) and Venus McFlytrap (I can’t see why they would use a BttF reference for a flytrap character aside from the convenience of “fly” in a pre-existing pop culture last name BUT SIGN ME THE FUCK UP) and I am basically shitting myself in anticipation.
And that is why Monster High is great.
In all fairness, you asked. :p
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