We’re back from the big apple! As you know, February 13-16 was one of the biggest toy trade shows in the world– New York Toy Fair. Even though it was my second year attending, I still felt overwhelmed. This year, I decided to invite Barbee0913, aka my mom, to attend with me. Trying to cover the show for one blog is a lot of work, let alone two! Over the next week or so, I’ll be putting out articles on what we saw at the show. This report features Mattel!
I’d like to say there were tons of exciting things on display, but alas, I can’t. There was a lot in the room, but not a lot when it came to what I traditionally look for– dolls! I’ll start off with the bad news. Ever After High wasn’t represented at all. They had some standees and a handful of Dragon Games dolls on display, but nothing new. I don’t even know if they had a rep manning the booth! It makes me worry about the future of Ever After High, to be honest!
Barbie was represented well enough. They, of course, had the new Fashionista‘s on display. In person, I’m still not completely impressed. I love the variety the new bodies will introduce to the Barbie franchise, but they still aren’t articulated. If I were in charge, getting all Barbie’s to be more like the Made To Move line would be my first priority.
Spin Art Barbie, coming in two skin tones, is kind of fun! Assuming Mattel has some refill packs or you’re crafty and can make your own outfits to use in this once you run out, this could be a fun ‘gimmicky’ Barbie for the crafty types.
This Starlight Adventure Barbie Hoverboard ties in with a movie we’ll be seeing later this year. I quite like this cool toy! If the demonstration model works anything like the one we’ll see on store shelves, kids will probably love it. It flew really well in the showroom!
The Presidential 2-pack will probably be a favorite of many, as well. The president wears red, white and blue and the vice president wears yellow. What I really like about this set is that as you will see in the pictures, Mattel is playing with diversity and pairing dolls of different colors together. Also, each has a different hair style.
The Flipping Fun Gymnast set is adorable, however gimmicky it may be. When you place Kelly (or Barbie’s student, I guess), on the balance beam and pull a lever, the talented student will flip and stick a solid landing. It’s really neat to see in person. The student character looks a little plastic, but for the effect, I can totally understand the reasoning.
Hello Dreamhouse is the big item Mattel seems to be pushing this year. It’s an interactive talking Dreamhouse that listens to you as you speak and responds back. For example, you can say “Hello, Dreamhouse. Can you turn the bedroom light on?” and it should turn on the bedroom light. Each room has a floor switch that will allow you to turn the lights on in any room that way, as well. If you say, “It’s time for school”, the house will react with a voice responding to you and turn on the ‘shower’. It’s a neat concept and kids will probably love it. Let’s hope it’s easier to put together than the past dreamhouses!
The Thingmaker dates back all the way to 1964. I remember it as a Creepy Crawler maker. 2016’s Thingmaker has lost the goop and molds and gained filament and an extruder. Yep. It’s a 3D printer. Priced at $300.00, Mattel could have a winner on their hands with this. The app this works with is already available. It allows you to create pre-programmed ‘things’, choose the perfect colors and send them to the printer.
As far as Monster High is concerned, there were some things on display. Dana Treasura Jones, daughter of Davy Jones, made her showroom debut, as well as Ari Hauntington. I love the color scheme they chose for Dana. It fits her theme perfectly. Ari, however, looks a bit like a Spectra clone.
This is Ari. The picture directly below is an interactive Ari that will sing at different ranges as you move your hand higher and lower in front of her. (You can see this in the video.)
This Ari is a basic Ari. She was on display with the Draculaura and Frankie that became famous in the leaked sizzle reel about the relaunch.
The Welcome to Monster High set, featuring Draculaura, is a cute set, but there’s not much to it.
The set comes with the Draculaura on the left, not the one decked out on the right, ready to dance.
A new theme for this year is “monster-cute”. These blind bag miniatures totally fit that bill. The first wave will be our favorite ghouls. Following that, they’ll have release others with different themes and patterns.
There were many other brands on display in the Mattel Showroom. You can see pictures in my Flickr album. Below are the video presentations from the booth.
One more Mattel video will be added to my channel, featuring the new American Girl building kits. I’ll add it here soon! (Keep an eye on my channel for it!)
Also on display were the new DC dolls, which I think I’ll save for their own post. Pictures can be found in the flickr album mentioned above.
Overall, it will be interesting to see what happens with Mattel this year. What I expected to see a lot of (Ever After High and Monster High), I didn’t. Do you see anything you like? Share your thoughts below!
I didn’t plan on reviewing this for the blog, but due to a surprising characteristic on the Frankie, it seems worthy of writing something up on this release. Here’s the gist– Designer Booo-tique Frankie comes with Frankie and five outfits for you to decorate with three thin fabric markers and stencils. You also get a small page of stickers you can use to add extra details to your designs.
As far as designing the outfits, there’s not that much to it. The outfits have one stretchy side and one non-stretchy side, which looks a little odd in person. The coolest of the outfits is made up like an adult coloring book with an intense pattern you can color in. Other than that one dress, the rest are free form. You can do whatever you’d like with them.
The reason I am writing about this set, though, isn’t because of the gimmick, but because of the Frankie. She’s super disappointing. Right off the bat, you’ll notice one very disappointing element– the lack of articulation at her elbows and wrists. Upon closer examination, you’ll notice another irritating feature. Frankie’s shoulder joints don’t swivel out. All they can do is move up and down. Her leg joints look normal, but who knows what will happen to them in the reboot.
As if that wasn’t enough, Frankie has lost the painted stitch marks on her arms and legs and has now received molded unpainted ones. The molded marks don’t stand out half as much as the 2D painted ones.
Body issues aside, what about her face? Both my mom and I thought the same thing when we saw her: why does she look so mean? Seriously, this Frankie looks far less friendly than other releases. Maybe it’s the dark make up around her eyes and the bright pink lip color, but she looks like she has a chip on her shoulder.
While I can’t say this is how the bodies will be come the 2016 reboot of Monster High, just today I saw a few budget dolls with the non-articulated arms. I really hope that they aren’t moving away from elbow and wrist joints, not to mention decent working shoulder joints.
For more details on this release, check out the video review (linked above). I wanted to make sure to cover the big stuff (like her cheap arms) in this mini written review, but skimmed over some of the smaller details.
What are your thoughts on the Designer Booo-tique Frankie? Let me know in the comment area!
So, the news of the Monster High 2016 reboot has clearly made some waves this past week. You guys have been awesome enough to share your thoughts on the subject, so I thought I’d share mine.
When Monster High first hit store shelves, it was a very exciting time to be a doll collector. The whole journey from when the line was first announced to their eventual debut was great fun to follow. And the doll hunts in search of trying to find the first wave? Tons of fun. My first Monster High purchase was Lagoona. I was so excited to find her on the shelf! And finding Holt and Ghoulia? Also some very exciting and memorable moments in my doll collecting career. Personally, I know that without Monster High, my blog wouldn’t have found as many readers as it has over the years, so I am very grateful to the line.
The first two and a half years of Monster High may be my favorite. We had some fantastic lines like the original wave, Dawn of the Dance, Dead Tired, Sweet 1600, Schools Out… You must agree with me that we had some really cool Monster High releases in the early years and the anticipation of finding new characters was super high. The whole line had an addictive quality about it. Much like Pringles, buying just one in a wave was nearly impossible. I most likely have nearly every Monster High produced during those years, because all the dolls were worth buying and I really wanted to have a complete collection.
That being said, the line started to fumble a little for me in 2014 and 2015. While I still enjoy the line, the addiction, the need, to buy every single one has long been gone. Now, I only collect new characters or re-releases that I think are pretty. I think a lot of us have been thinking the same thing this past year– that Mattel wasn’t paying enough attention to Monster High. They churned out a lot of dolls in the past two years and not all of them were made or designed well. Worse, some were just plain uninspired, stagnant and, dare I say, boring. A far cry from when they made their debut a few years prior.
So now it’s nearly 2016. The line has had 5 successful years under its belt. But here’s the thing– everything’s gotta change sometimes and it looks like it’s Monster High’s time to do just that. Mattel has been making small tweaks to the line all the way since wave one. Some have been amazing– like eliminating the rubber band bodies and using Create a Monster bodies instead. (My first wave dolls have terribly loose limbs now. So sad!) Other changes, like cutting back on the length of the outfits that were already super short to begin with, not so much. (Friendly hint, Mattel, some of us make our dolls sit and the outfits need to be a little longer to do that in a lady like fashion.)
So, this reboot isn’t the first time Mattel has tweaked Monster High. It is the first time, however, that they’ve decided to ‘go big or go home’. I understand why Mattel would decide to make one big change, over many small minor ones. They want their changes to make an impact, not just seem like a mistake.
As far as the plans for 2016, I’m not going to jump to conclusions just yet. Yes, the redesign is a far cry from what we’re used to, but maybe the changes will reinvigorate the line, give it new life. I agree with those that say the large eyes make the characters look younger, more like junior high students. I’m not totally against that, though. The new look is a complete rework of the gothic monster dolls we were introduced to, but the redesign is kind of cute. They definitely give off an anime vibe. In a way, it’s almost like Mattel is taking a cue from some of the customs floating around the internet, many of which have more of an animated look to them.
I can totally see why people would be upset, though, because this new look doesn’t exactly jive with the ‘freaky flaws’ mentality of the original design. The redesign is way more cutesy and young than the teenage monsters we’re used to seeing. But, thankfully, if the re-design isn’t your thing, there’s a whole back catalog of dolls to collect on the secondary market. Think about the doll lines we’ve lost over the past five years that only lasted one or two waves (Pinkie Cooper anyone?). No one can say we didn’t receive a nice selection of dolls and tons of fun memories over the past 5 years of collecting Monster High dolls.
I guess my opinion of the changes can be summed up with one statement: wait and see. I’m willing to give the reboot a chance, because I feel that the current Monster High line is running out of steam at a very fast pace and I don’t want to see it disappear from stores completely just yet. If that means the dolls regenerate a bit, I’m willing to wait and see them in person, with the power of Mattel’s marketing campaign behind them. Who knows? Maybe the new look will cause a whole new slew of collectors to be born? Or maybe not. All we can do is wait and see.
The Doctor may not be regenerating in 2016, but it looks like Monster High is. The ghouls we’ve grown to love will be losing their edgy look, starting (most likely) in the fall. The dark, gothic look is being replaced with“a fresh new look with new contemporary colors and graphics whilst still incorporating the iconic signatures that make the brand unique and relatable to the core audience of 6-10 year olds.”
Last night, there was a sizzle video posted with the blog entry from an official Mattel News page, Mattel EMEA, that made it seem like the major reason for the change was that people thought Monster High looked “too dark”. (Who are these people calling Monster High too dark? Clearly, they’ve never seen the Living Dead Dolls… And also, why is Mattel posting this info meant for partners on a site anyone can access? If you’re a Mattel rep and would like me to rework this post- ie: remove image or quote, e-mail me at the address on the sidebar.)
The sizzle video is now locked down. I was surprised to see it posted on the internet, to be honest– it was kind of rough and very much created to be an internal video, not something for us to see. Essentially, though, it was a short announcement about the upcoming changes.
Here’s a mirror of the video sizzle. The mirror was deleted.
It seems these new looks will correspond with new video content featuring monster origin stories and a new campaign, How Do You Boo, which will encourage “consumers to embrace what makes them unique and share how they Boo.”
Read the whole press release here. (The site now re-directs to Mattel.com.)
Ever After High is getting tweaked here and there, too, though not as much as Monster High, so far as I can tell. According to the Mattel newsletter, “the dolls will feature new face sculpts with a softer more open approach and the content will bring to life the exciting adventures of these powerful princesses!” The 2016 push seems to be around “Ever After High: Where Princesses Are Powerful”. (I don’t think Mattel is over losing the Disney Princesses to Hasbro yet…)
I’m still working through my initial thoughts on this, so I’ll post my opinions on this later. Until then, what do you think of the upcoming changes to Monster High and Ever After High? Let me know in the comment area.
One thing I love about YouTube is how it connects people from all over the world. A while back, I approached Eric from Te2Production about doing a mystery box swap. Essentially, we would each put together a box of mystery items for the other to open on their YouTube channel.
We both received our packages this week and can finally share them with you!!! I had a blast preparing Eric’s mystery box. In it I packaged a mixture of items he had on his wishlist and totally unique items that I decided he needed in his collection.
Here are a few highlights from what Eric received from me. Besides tossing in a few items I’ve been waiting to gift to the right people, I purchased a very affordable Pinkie Cooper (yes, our local Toys R Us still has this long gone doll line), printed a super cool Sailor Moon bookend on the 3D printer and purchased some of the new Disney Descendants dolls. To see everything that made the trip from the US to France, check out his video. (Eric said he’d release some subtitles in the coming weeks, but it’s completely watchable, even with the language barrier!)
Now, what did I receive from this epic exchange of dolls and toys? Let me show you!
Believe it or not, I didn’t buy many of the Monster High Haunted dolls, even though I found them to be really neat. Inside my mystery package were two– Draculaura and Twyla! There was also another Monster High doll, this one from Freaky Fusion, Cleolei!
This was a real surprise. Isn’t this Snow White cute? I adore her! She’ll fit in just fine with my Disney Animators Collection Mini Elsa. I had on my wishlist something ‘french’. Anything french. This Eiffel Tower sign fits the bill completely. It’s totally tourist’y and I love it.
One thing I learned when I studied in Florence a long, long time ago was that the children’s magazines overseas are way cooler than the ones in the US. Maybe it’s just my local stores, but I never see any stock of magazines with toys included. Above are two paper goods packaged in my mystery box. The first one is a Monster High magazine showcasing Lagoona. It comes with lip gloss! The second item is a Panini sticker guide for Frozen.
Eric is a Sailor Moon fan, so I wasn’t surprised to find something Sailor Moon in my box. This is a cute phone fob. Currently, my phone is wearing a Digimon themed phone fob, but I’ll be switching to this Sailor Moon one soon!
Here are some of the smaller items he sent. Little Miss must be bigger abroad than it is here. I’ve never seen any accessories, like pencils or notebooks, here in the States, just the books. Also pictured is a fantastic C3P0 magnet. (For those who don’t know, I collect C3P0 merchandise. See video below.) There was also a very cute dog eraser.
Last, Eric took the time to draw this amazing picture of me! I love it! It was one of the best things in the box. Not pictured is one last thing– a Disney Store Paris reusable bag. Perfect for packing these items up while I take my time opening them!
I had a lot of fun participating in this swap. Big thanks to Eric from Te2 Production on YouTube. I hope you had as much fun as I did!
And now, for the readers, have you ever participated in a mystery swap with a friend or stranger? What was your favorite part of the process? If you’re a blogger who is interested in doing something similar with me, let me know.