14 Oct 2013

Ever After High - Hunter Huntsman and Ashlynn Ella

Riding high on the success of Monster High, it's only expected Mattel would be setting there sights on another similar success story. Cue the fairy tale spinoff series, Ever After High. Featuring, instead of the children of monsters, the children of fairy tale characters. Princes, princesses, unicorns and fairies. It's the perfect concept for some super girly dollies right? I mean, little girls love them some fairy tale princesses.
But there's the twist, these aren't the characters we know from stories. These are their children, some more eager to follow in ma and pa's footsteps than others.

For those not in the know, the story revolves around your usual group of pretty young things. They attend a school for fairy tale characters and are supposed to follow their same gender parent's role, continuing the story in an immortal loop... their kids will do the same, and theirs, and theirs... 
So anyway, Apple White, daughter of Snow White is determined that she'll have her happily ever after, marry a prince, all that fun stuff while Raven Queen, daughter of the evil step mother, really would rather not be evil thank you very much.

Thus we get a divide. the "Royals", mostly a bunch of princesses who are quite happy to go off and marry their prince charming, and the "Rebels" a ragtag group of well.. anyone else who'd prefer to forge their own destiny rather than plod along a path already trodden. 

 As a universe, it's flawed on first exposure, but i'm hoping those gaping holes in the universe will start to close as the franchise expands.

My initial impression? Annoyance actually.
Now, anyone who knows me knows i'm an OBSESSIVE world builder and while I fully accept other people aren't nearly as crazy as me, several of the gaping holes in the story made me cringe. 

1: If Snow White married "prince charming", then wouldn't that make the son of "prince charming" also the son of "Snow white"? And wouldn't that then mean the daughter of Snow White is in fact, the son of prince charming's sister? ARGH.. does that mean she's supposed to marry her brother or was Prince Charming sneaking around the castle... if you know what I mean? (I believe this has been fudged to claim there's a whole family of prince charmings, but... doesn't that still mean they're related!? Kissing cousins? ew.)

2: If everyone follows their parent's destiny, what happens to those characters who die in the story without having kids? Where did their kids come from? Confused! 
Also, does that mean Apple pledging to follow her mother's destiny means her mother has to die because Snow White's mother was dead? So.. she's effectively signing her own mother's death warrent? What a loving daughter huh?

3: What happens to those extra children? The ones without destinies? For instance, the story only calls for one rapunzel so what happens to her sister?

4: In order to fulfil her destiny, Raven would have to marry Apple's father to become her "eeevil step mother". Nevermind the massive age gap and squick there, what about the fact that technically she's apple's mother's step sister anyway! Is anyone ever gonna mention this? 

5: Who in their right mind would sign off on a destiny that involved them dancing themselves to death in iron shoes? Or any of the other gruesome deaths of the villain's in fairy tales. (Though it would seem the evil queen isn't dead... so death doesn't really mean death in the EAH universe? Wth?) 

Anyway, i'm sure there's a whole load more. Maybe they'll explain it, or it'll just continue to bug me lol.

My crazy aside, the dolls themselves! I mean that's why you're actually here right?

So, my husband purchased Raven Queen and Maddie Hatter a while back, for himself. So I never bothered to review them. He has done so here: http://cypherdorranreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

However my love of male dolls meant I HAD to get the two pack all for myself bwhaha.

Hunter Huntsman, son of the huntsman from pretty much every fairy tale, and Ashlynn Ella, daughter of Cinderella. They have this sort of forbidden romance thing going on, which despite the cliche, is all kinds of adorable so shut up.

And here they are.

The EAH boxes are large, wide and plastic. Almost entirely.. plastic. I dunno but this seems a bit... wasteful on an environmental front to me. Oh sure it means you can see the whole doll but I kinda prefer the cardboard boxes of Monster High, they feel sturdier line up neater on a shelf.
Still, this box style does give us a very good look at our purchase.

The box is designed to look like a book, with a spine on one side.

It's cute, and fitting. This two pack is actually designed to almost look like two books side by side, but the title and picture would indicate otherwise. Confusing...

Anyway, despite their romance somehow Ashlynn is still a Royal, but we all know she's a rebel really so she should totally just stop faking boo.

The backing card is beautiful, depicting a sketchy book illustration of a tree and stream and all that fairy land prettiness. The words tell the story, but are in just about every language you can imagine. What's interesting though, is that if you translate it all, it DOES say stuff. It's a bit disjointed but it pretty much gives a blurb/description of the line's premise. I'd love to see someone translate the whole thing, when I first had a go I thought perhaps it was identical to the narrator's speech in the "World of Ever After High" video short, but it isn't. It's similar though.

It has some wonderfully interesting tidbits. "Headmaster Grimm lies" being a particular favourite.

The back of the box is split in two. Half pink for Ashlynn, half green for Hunter. (seriously parents? That name was the best you could come up with? Hunter.. the hunter? Wow... )

There's a bio for each character, the usual blurb about the line's premise and the website link. The bios are very similar to the Monster High ones, just with a fairy tale flavour.

What I do find interesting is that both these characters are vegetarian/vegan. Unusual. It makes particular sense for Ashlynn though, considering she can talk to animals. I'd be a bit freaked out eating something I was chatting to only a few hours earlier.

So let's open this plastic prison!

I admit, i'm a little apprehensive as the last fully plastic box I opened was a novi star box and it sliced my hand open. Ouch.
While this box has similar razor edges of plastic slicing doom, the tabs and floppyness make it a bit easier to open it without doing damage to oneself. 

Once in I notice this. Yes, that's Ashlynn's ring. A tiny item liable to be lost within about 20 seconds of opening the box had I not noticed it lying there. Must have fallen off her finger in transit.

Without the plastic glare, you can see the pair properly. We'll take a nice close look at each in a bit. Ashlynn's eyes match Hunter's shirt lol, cute.

 Just like Monster High, the Ever After High dolls come with a sort of diary or journal. They take the form of these bookmarks. It's a cute touch but they aren't the easiest thing's to open and read.

They're a bit tricky to get off the backing card, there's a "cut me" line but i'd really rather not cut these things.
They unfold into a crazy long piece of paper, I think I prefer the diary pages of Monster high.
The little doodles from the characters are however a very cute touch. Each character has added their own little illustrations and the diary is split into chapters rather than days, which is a bit confusing in terms of how much time has elapsed. But they're simple and don't tell much.  Just enough to make you go "d'aaaaw" which this pair seem to do a lot haha.

Don't you touch me!

Speaking of which, by the looks, they're supposed to be holding hands in the box. My pair however, seemed to be having some sort of lover's tiff. Perhaps that's how Ashlynn's ring ended up on the floor huh?

I freed Ashlynn first, as I was eager to get her out of that dress and into something that suited her complexion.

 The key is a hairbrush, cute touch but I never use the doll brushes. I have like fifteen billion of them lying around the house. I open cupboards, brushes fall out. One day they'll find me crushed under a mountain of the damn things.

 Ashlynn's handbag is a clock, which is awesome. It's very detailed but it doesn't seem to open. I also thing it's a shame only one side has a clock face. There's a sculpted on clock on all four sides but only the front has the clock sticker.

Her shoes are made to look like glass, which is again awesome! They're a cute twist on the glass slipper of her mother's story. The vines up her legs make me think of Lagoona Blue's shoes, but they work well here for this nature loving princess.

ARGH box hair!

Poor girl, her hair feels soft but damn is it frizzy and flat. I'm scared to run a brush through it, so finger combing for now.
let's see if we can fix this mess.

Hair is still frizzy and a bit beh but I think that's just going to be something I have to live with unless I boil wash and recurl.
Curled doll hair and long doll hair always seems to do this, yuck.

Ashlynn's dress is a sort of modern take on your traditional princess garb. The sleeves are poofy, the bodice fitted and the skirt a pencil style with flowers and vines on the overlay.
it's pretty enough but the colour does nothing for the poor girl. She has very tanned skin and strawberry blonde hair, the pale teal and pink clash terribly and just detract from what could have otherwise been a very striking doll. I can't wait to get her out of this unflattering thing.

The quality is good, what you'd expect from anything Mattel produces. Things are hemmed nicely, stitching is mostly neat, though my girl did have her dress half undone in the box lol. What WERE you two doing in there??

Her necklace is, I think, a birdhouse. it's kinda hard to make out and my eyes aren't what they used to be.

Like Monster High, EAH is giving all it's got in the shoe department. Every character gets unique shoes and they're incredibly detailed. Ashlynn's glass slippers have a swirled blown glass heel and leaves and vines trailing up them before turning into vines that twist around her legs. of course, I can't even begin to image she'd be able to walk in these if they really WERE glass (Glass leg braces?) but they look cool and fit the theme so who cares?
They're teal coloured like her dress, which is a beautiful colour and works better I feel than clear would have.

Her ring is a little golden bird. The ring actually fits over two fingers but won't stay on by itself, you have to elastic band it on or it'll just slide right off and fly away.

Ashlynn tops everything off with a pink headband depicting birds and foliage. Her hair is a bit complicated as well. There's a braid at the front, then a bump on top.

The bump is a loose ponytail over the top of a bun. While I think I might be able to replicate this, the lengths are all different and I wasn't certain it'd look good all down so I opted to leave it as it was. I'm bad with hair ok?

Ashlynn's earrings are gold heels and she has a little charm bracelet with shoes on it.

Now she wants me to free her man, so I best oblige before she summons the local wildlife to hurt me. Ahem.

Much better.

Hunter's hair is gelled to HELL and back. He has this long side swept style which i'm sure has a name but i've never known stuff like that. And the rest is flocked.
His undershirt is sleeveless and has a forest scene on it, while his hoodie is a combination of leather effect fabric (which is surprisingly soft and supple) and green cotton.  The hood even covers his head nicely, yay!

His pants are kinda beige coloured and quite thick.

the quality here is amazing, i'm actually really impressed. not only is the doll himself really HEAVY, his clothes feel amazing. Also, I totally want a human sized version of both his shirt and hoodie damnit.

The back of the hoodie is a different fabric to the front, a brown paisley pattern. Not sure why but it's pretty. I'm a sucker for paisley.

Hunter's satchel opens, and made to look like stitched leather despite being made of plastic. Love it!

he has a plastic brown cuff on one arm, I assume it's supposed to be leather but it's the least convincing of his accessories.

His shoes have been given a black wash and it really makes them pop. I'm so glad they did this, they could have cheaped out and not bothered but the wash gives these shoes such depth and makes them look worn and distressed.

Ever After High dolls stand pretty much the same height as Monster High. The girls are the same height give or take, as are the boys. But both EAH genders are substantially chunkier than their monster counterpart. The EAH girls do not use the Monster High body but rather, their own unique body with curved hips and a small bust. Their thighs are thicker, their arms are thicker, their heads are bigger... and flatter.. and rounder. argh.

The boys, well, Hunter is about twice the width of Clawd here. He makes Clawd look so scrawny and inadequate. There's no way these two can exhange clothing, look at Clawd's twig-like legs compared to Hunter's manly thighs!
Their heads seem a similar size, so go figure on that one huh?

Articulation in the girls is identical. Elbow, wrist, knee and your standard shoulder/hip/neck. The Ever After boys have wrist, elbow and knee but don't seem to have the random and inexplicable "why on earth would they need it?" ankle articulation of the Monster High boys. Seriously... are the Monster High boys supposed to wear heels? WHY do they have articulated ankles!? It makes no sense!

The pair had fun showing off their articulation before I whisked Ashlynn away for a makeover.

And while she's getting herself beautiful, let's re-examine this box.

I was curious about whether this two pack had stands. I remembered that the single dolls had them, but I wasn't paying attention when husband deboxed them. But given Mattel's recent trend of sporadic stand inclusion and such forth, I wasn't certain this set had them.
There is NOTHING on the packaging to indicate there's stands included. The back of the box makes no mention of stands, only that there's a diary for each doll inside.

Hmmm. Still, something about this fat piece of box bothers me. The only bit of the box that's taped down...

Let's see what's inside... This should totally have "open me" written on it.

Oh look, stands! Hidden away in the "spine" of the book. You know what Mattel? Some indication these were here would have been nice. You know, "stands included" on the back of the box, a little sticker on this compartment that said "open", anything. I wonder how many people have unknowingly thrown these away without realising.

And here those stands are. A silver one for Hunter, a gold one for Ashlynn.

For some reason they both have a clear strut. From left to right: Maddie, Ashlynn, Raven and Hunter. Look at how HUGE the clip on Hunter's stand IS!

The base is bigger and chunkier than the Monster High stands, which might hopefully help with balance. I doubt it though. These things always seem to topple over bah. otherwise the structure is pretty much identical. Strut clips into base, clip slides over strut and clips around doll's waist. The clips on MH and EAH look to be about the same width for the girls so are probably interchangeable.

 Oh and here they both are now, all scrubbed up, made over and ready to continue.

Well well Ashlynn, you do scrub up nicely. 

Hunter had a hair wash as well.

I didn't expect the EAH body to fit Bratz or Monster High clothing. They're chunkier than Monster high and yet, Ashlynn managed to squeeze into just about anything I tried on her. She even managed to pull of this Bratz number better than any Monster High doll could! No doubt thanks to having actual HIPS to fill it out a bit. I think she looks amazing in blue.

I'm sure Ashlynn has bigger lips than Raven and Maddie... is that a paint thing or does she actually have a subtly different face mould?

Either way, she stands out not only for her tanned skin but her far more expressive face.
I can't say i'm a fan of this giant moon faces, but Ashlynn has just enough personality to draw me in.

Ever after high are the same height as Monster High, making them taller than Moxie Girlz and old Bratz, but shorter than Bratzillaz and new Bratz. Bratz clothing seems to fit, I would imagine Bratzilla and Moxie clothing might be a bit too baggy though.

When I first saw the promos for EAH I thought "wow those look like Simba's Super Model dolls (on the right) but then I got Bryten down and wow... the Moxie Girl resemblance is a bit uncanny as well. They all have very flat, very round faces which are a bit... odd.

I can't help but wish EAH had gone more the Monster High route and given each character an obviously unique sculpt, but more than that, I kinda wish their faces looked more in keeping with the Monster High doll aesthetic. That they could cohabit a shelf and look like they belonged together. Sadly that's not the case, Monster High in my mind remains superior purely because of the sculpts on the dolls themselves.

EAH has the same amazing detail in fashions, the incredible shoes, the unique character aesthetics
and patterns and colour palettes, but the very samey faces kinda ruin it for me.
I know I know, very few doll lines before Monster High had a different mould for every single character... in fact... did any? but Monster High has spoiled me and as a spinoff, I  would expect EAH to exceed what Monster High lay down, not take a massive step backward right?
It feels very... safe. Very "little girl friendly" with big, happy, non threatening faces. A bunch of Caucasian or close to pretty princesses for parents to feel secure about their kids playing with (Ignoring the actual setting because parents never pay that much attention to that crap do we?)

Monster High took massive risks, EAH is playing it very safe in my mind. Oh the characters are cute and all, but the dolls could never be described as edgy.

I get they're trying to target a slightly younger demographic here, but the link to Monster High means Ever After High will FOREVER be held up against the franchise it spun off from. It's got very big shoes to fill and i'm not sure it can really do it. Certainly I don't find myself needing to have every single character released, unlike Monster High which still has me fiercely clutched in it's talons of obsession.

Will EAH manage to forge it's own destiny like the franchise's rebels? I suppose only time will tell.

2 Oct 2013

Novi Stars

Magic and supernatural is hot, so it made logical sense for aliens to fall nicely into the market Monster High carved out.
Besides, aliens are awesome and alongside monsters, provide an almost endless assortment of designs.

So MGAE came up with the Novi Stars, a group of vapid alien girls sent to earth to... i'm not entirely sure. I like to think they were actually banished to earth for being brainless twits but that's just me.

Anyway, as is currently the "thing" in doll lines, each Novi came with a puntastic name and a short biography detailing her "personality". I use quotes there because believe me, these girls haven't got any personality. But the dolls are cute.

Each doll also came with a gimmick but we'll get to that.

So the first wave consisted of 4 characters: Allie Lectric who lights up,  Mae Talik who talks, Ari Roma who has scented hair and Una Verse who has... um... snow globe legs?

Anyway, the first wave were CRAZY expensive. Each doll would set you back £20, which has my wallet quietly sobbing in the corner just thinking about it. There there wallet, it's ok.
Suffice to say, soon enough the line ended up on clearance and a year on, the prices have dropped to a far more sensible £16, right in line with Mattel's doll lines and the Bratzillaz. Awesome. Good to see MGA's learning something about price points at long last. I hope...

Anyway, I picked up Mae Talik and Ari Roma quite a while back but never got around to reviewing them. So better late than never huh? More recently I picked up a few more novis which we'll also be looking at. So let's get to it!

 The boxes are bulky as all hell, but they look kinda cool with the shimmery backing card and big bright images. Not sure what the slime is all about though.. the novi logo is strangely gooey. Because when I think "fashion doll" I think "Greasy slime", don't you?

Anyway, the boxes have a little handle which doubles as a "headband for you!", hmm.. we'll test this out later. It is kinda cool that each doll has a unique headband in a different colour with a different symbol, I like that touch even if I can't see anyone seriously wearing one as a headband... ever.

The box also informs me that they come with a glow in the dark stand and a pet, Ari's here is unsettlingly humanoid... i'm kinda freaked out by it. What IS it? A toddler? A doll? I don't even know man.

And in huge letters we have the proclamation of their gimmick. I'm scented at least sounds better than "I smell!" lol. Ari does smell though, of bubblegum. It reminds me so much of the 80s. Meanwhile Mae spouts glitchy vapid valley girl speak when you press one of her "ears".

The back of the box informs me the Novis are here on earth to teach US humans some stuff. Hmmm...
The slogan "what on earth is going on?" is kinda cute though.

Then there's a bio... and what a frustrating bio it is.
This is Ari's and they are ALL this vapid and shallow.

First the age, I mean.. do I even need to go there with this? Eons? really?
Her "mission" is to kiss an earth boy, so aiming high there girl huh?

Personality is two words... just... wow.

Her friends call her.. staria? Why not Ari.. being as it's your NAME!?? argh.
She doesn't understand hats... which kinda amuses me. 

So anyway, apparently she can't breathe earth air so has to wear that bubble on her head. I like the bubble, it's a cute touch.

I'm not sure if all the characters are supposed to be from the same planet or what... because if they are, that's one messed up and varied planet.

Anyhoo, Mae's bio is much the same. Apparently she's several billion years old, wants to be a pop star and she hates the beach (and yet, you can get a beach-line doll of her... consistency? What's that? Though in the same argument, why the hell does Monster high have Frankie who sparks electricity in water themed lines all the time? And why is the stone chick in a swim line? Oh toy companies, logic... )


 For some reason Ari's art is upside down. I... I think she's floating? but I don't really understand this. It's bizarre. All the others are the right way up so.. um.. yeah.

The first wave boxes are this odd kinda bean shape. They look like they'd be a pain in the butt to get open but actually they're quite easy. They unhook with little tabs on one side and just fold open like the Monster High boxes and the new Bratz boxes. YAY! Only gripe, the plastic they're made of is SHARP and I cut my finger open opening one of these. ouch.

 Tadah, all open. The whole thing totally unfolds and the top and bottom "lids" just pop on out.

 Unfortunately, the doll itself is then attached to a plastic stretcher. Took a while to snip and unpick all the tape and fastenings.

 Aaand she's FREE!

Ari Roma

So Ari Roma really does stink... it's not an unpleasant smell it's just really sickly sweet and strong.

Her entire body is encrusted in glitter, I suppose girls like glitter or something? Personally I find it annoying as it flakes off on everything and is rough to handle. I also think it looks odd to have a glittery body and pearlescent head, I dunno, it's just... weird.

The Novis are TINY, Ari here is only about 7 inches tall. They also have very limited mobility. Some of them can move their hips, but most are static and only have movable shoulders and heads. The shoulders are little pegs which mean the arms come off, presumably for easier dressing but they're so fragile they tend to just drop off when deboxing or simply handling the doll.  One of Ari's is SO prone to doing this, i've elastic banded it in place!
Surely a more sturdy peg would have been a better idea here?
And while the novis DID have fashion packs (3 of them, in the usual lazy mga style of having a pj set, a winter set and a random formal one because those are totally useful outfits to have right? why can't we have initial fashion packs every just be another casual outfit?) I cannot see these dolls as fashion dolls. They're difficult to undress (particularly Ari due to her glitter) and very flimsy feeling. Being as small and immobile as they are, they make better little figurines than the do dolls as such.
They look very cute on a shelf or desk though.

Ari's hair is a frizzy mess but I LOVE it anyway. It's crazy frizz and she's an alien, she can totally pull off the mad clown hair.
To one side there's random long straight bits which I braided because they looked messy and kept getting in the way. The weight of the braid helps keep that random long bit down.

Her antennae are attached into her head and have stars at the ends.

The helmet itself has gaps in it to allow the pigtails and antennae out. Hardly realistic if she's supposed to be unable to breathe our air, but oh well. The bubble has a sort of kitschy retro feel to it so I can forgive that sillyness as being part of the aesthetic. 

Inset eyes MGA always does wonderfully and the novis are no exception. Each has unique eyes. Ari's have little shooting stars and are a pretty glittery green colour. Her lashes are inset and encrusted with glitter as well. These lashes are crazy long and I can't see them holding up to play very well (but then I can't see ANY of the doll holding up to play) but they do work for the overall look.
Instead of eyebrows the novi girls have three dots and no nose to speak of, they also have tiny little mouths that you can barely see and adorable pointed ears that the hair almost always hides.

I do love this head mould, it's very alien but it's also rather cute. I like that they aren't just humans in odd colours with antennae on their head, they really do look like cartoon alien girls. Ari particularly reminds me of those retro sci fi posters from the 50s and there's something very retro 60s about that outfit. She wears a denim romper with a see through plastic sheath dress over the top and that collar is a separate piece as well.
While every piece can be removed, it's not something i'd like to attempt again. The glitter snags everything and she's so delicate feeling that i'm convinced i'll break her if I handle her too much.
Besides, I like this outfit. It's sweet.

This nightmare fuel is Ari's pet O2, I just... it looks like an anime child on crack. Those eyes.. the wide drooling mouth... *shudder* Horrifying.

These dolls also come with a glow in the dark stand. Oh it glows in the dark sure enough, but it is utterly USELESS as a stand. The foot pegs are shaped precisely to each character's feet which is all very well and good in principle, but for whatever reason the legs just won't FIT properly and Ari and Mae are constantly popping off their stand and falling off the shelf.
I've elastic banded them TO the stands now.

Overall, Ari is a cute little figure. Her pet is horrifying and needs to be hidden away least it come to devour my soul in the night, but Ari herself is adorable. Smelly dolls aren't anything new and I never understood their point back in the 80s when I was a small child, I still don't get it now. She smells of bubblegum.. why? Goodness knows, it's just totally random. It's like they had an idea for a name and built the gimmick around that. I'd sooner pay less and have no gimmick, but even with it, you simply aren't getting your money's worth here. The Novis are overpriced at £20, £10-12 is more about the region I would be comfortable buying them at.

Ari Roma gets 6 hideous toddler demons out of 10. She's cute but feels cheap.

Mae Tallik

 Mae Tallik is the airhead valley girl of the group, and given her friends are all airheads, that's saying a LOT.

When you press her ear she talks in a glitchy manner, and I keep expecting her to ask me to "gag her with a spoon". Like, whateverrrr, totally! and so on. Ahem.

Her hair is a wig which goes all the way down to her feet. It makes sense conceptually, why would a robot have hair anyway? But it also allows access to her battery compartment. My only issues with the wig are that it falls off constantly (there's nothing really holding it on) and the length means it just gets in the way. I really HATE princess length doll hair, it makes the doll's head heavier than the doll and means they always fall over, plus it always no matter what you do looks like a ratsnest.
The wig is ok nylon, but it's a pain in the butt to style or brush.

Mae's stand is also the WORST of the lot, her feet simply do not slot into the gaps because her legs don't want to be positioned in that precise way. They spring up and out and she promptly falls on her face. Gah.

Her good points however, are the detail on her body. She's sculpted with little rivets and metal plates all over, and a pair of skates sculpted to her feet.  She also has a little heart on her chest.
Of course, I can't look at her without comparing her to Monster High's Robecca Steam, who also has rocket skates and a little heart plate. Coincidence? Most likely they're pulling inspiration from the same source but it is a bit of a shame. If she were a Bratzilla, we'd likely have more a problem but the novis are different enough a line to get away with little similarities like this and not feeling like a knockoff.

Because her shoes are sculpted, mae has no shoes or a shirt in her box, just a little wrap skirt. One has to ask why she even bothered with a skirt lol.

Her antennae look like little bows and for some inexplicable reason her eyes have little alien skulls and crossbones in them. Wth? It's a very odd design choice, does she have death vision or something? Is she toxic? What's the deal with the skull and crossbones MGA!?

(Insert pet pic here)

Mae's pet is a teddy bear, whew... it's actually cute and doesn't look like it wants to murder me in my sleep. He's called 8bit, cute.

Anyway, overall she's a cute doll. I just wish she could stand up without falling on her face. Her stand sucks and her gimmick really adds nothing to her playability, after a few cycles of her small library of phrases, you're pretty bored of her stuttering valley speak. How many times can you hear her say "c cc cccosssmic" before you're bored?
That said, the detail of her body is fabulous, but her head keeps falling off thanks to a shallow neck socket and too much hair/wig. I think her head is supposed to come off for battery changing or something, but it's really irritating to have to pop arms AND head back on when you pick her up and she goes to pieces.

Overall, I give Mae Tallik 6 out of 10 unsettling skull motifs. I appreciate the details but I feel like they're not as refined as they could have been.

 Mallie tasker

A while back MGA revealed promos of two new Novi Stars. Mallie Tasker, who had 4 arms. And Tula Toned who was a mess of ideas smooshed together willy nilly.
My initial reaction? I WANT MALLIE!

I'm a sucker for a doll with multiple arms obviously, and if Mattel weren't gonna give us Wydowna Spider, i'd have to have Mallie.
HAH, well played MGA... well played.

No box images this time i'm afraid as I got this girl imported from the US and she came deboxed.

Anywya, this is what she comes with (Minus the pointless chunky hairbrush which I tend to fling aside anyway.)

Now, it took me a while to figure out who's crown belonged to whom as Tula Toned (the pink doll) has a yellow headband and Mallie (the yellow doll) has a pink one. Confusing!
But this one is hers, it has the same symbol as her antennae.

I'm pleased to say the stands fit better this time, aided by Mallie's strung  hips and more sensible placement of the foot sockets.

Mallie is a striking white tone with lovely pink and green makeup which goes well with her two toned eyes. Her hair is black with yellow streaks and fairly soft. It's a bit messy though, it's because it's so frustratingly long. It gets in the way of her arms which always irritates me. Seriously toy companies. hair this long is STUPID. Stop it.

Her little dress has to me, a kinda Chinese/Japanese vibe to it but I don't think that was the intention. It's a really sweet little wrap dress with a net trim. It has a big bow at the back which makes me think Japanese Kimono/Obi or whatever. It is all one piece, that belted bit doesn't come off.

Her antennae have little planets at the ends. Meanwhile her eyes have swirls in them. Why? I don't know. Thus far none of the novi eye designs have had any relation to the doll's concept. I think they just pull a pattern out of a hat.

Despite having four arms, Mallie only chose to accessorize one of them. She has a single bracelet which is made from brittle green shiny plastic.

Speaking of those arms, this is how they connect. They're made of a slightly squishy plastic which is supposedly stretchy but don't expect any Stretch Armstrong shenanagins here. They barely stretch at all, i'd go so far as to say they don't stretch at all, they just bend because they're squishy.

They are also totally immobile at the shoulder. I think they might with force move, but i'm not going to risk it. With fairly firm pushing, they wouldn't budge in the shoulder socket so I gave up on the idea.

Apparently her arms, yes.. only her arms, glow in the dark but i've not had a chance to test this out.

Her hair... it's not bad nylon, it's just... mediocre nylon at a length that makes it unmanageable and frizzy. Also the way she was held into the box leaves this odd part down the middle that I can't brush out without MORE damn frizz. I'm not sure the Novis can tolerate boil washing either so i'm reluctant to wet her.

She needs some restyling stat!

 Mallie's shoes have a funky chunky heel on them. I have no idea if they're meant to represent anything but they're fabulously sculptural. The paint work is a bit sloppy on them sadly, but I like they bothered to add the yellow contrast stripe. 

I am delighted that Mallie has strung hips, it means she can move her legs!!! So she can do this, and she can sit. She's the only one of my collection able to do this. It makes he less "static figurine" which is great. I can't say much more articulation would work at this scale though, the dolls are so small it'd just make them even more fragile. Knee joints could be nice though, so they could sit in a ladylike manner hahah.

 Back to the "wth?" Novi pets though... I knew 8bit was an anomaly, because Mallie's pet is this... thing. I don't even know what it's supposed to be but DAMN is it angry.
It sorta looks like a bug and a vase mated... like.. what is that base thing all about? Is it angry because someone shoved it into a pot? I'm just baffled and slightly intimidated by this critter. She looks like she wants to punch me! I'm sorry freaky bug vase! Please don't hurt me!


Overall Mallie is a cute doll. I love her multiple arms and that she really doesn't have much of a gimmick. The glow thing? Totally pointless as with all the gimmicks but at least it isn't one that gets in the way. She doesn't stink and she doesn't babble at me when I move her, this is a good thing.
With her hair pulled back slightly, you can see her cute little novi ears. I feel it's such a shame they continue to hide those little ears by giving the dolls more hair than body.
Sometimes MGA, less is more and shorter, better quality hair would be so much more desirable than crazy long cheap hair. Especially when you're charging £20 per doll. The quality doesn't match the price point at all.

She gets a solid 8 disembodied glowing arms out of 10.

Tula Toned

Tula Toned is a strange doll. Her promo art was kinda cute but then the promo of the doll was like.. YIKES what is this hot mess?
The mishmash colours, the "let's throw everything at this and see what sticks" design approach... the inexplicable splotches on her face? I hated her, I thought she looked terrible with a receding hairline and acne problem. (No offence the balding and acne ridden of course)

But husband insisted she had merit, and the more I saw of her IRL the more I warmed to her. I never was going to love her like I loved Mallie, but I began to get used to her strange design and when the chance to pick her up for less than a fiver came up, of course I thought "why not?"

So here she is in the flesh.. or rather.. the plastic.  She lost her little leg/shoe wings from the promo artwork and her wings aren't really sparkly but these are minor things. Honestly I think the wing things were just more "let's shove random things at this" design so I can't say they're missed.

Tula's yet another pink Novi, oddly I have mostly pink novi stars... go figure? Of the 11? characters so far released 5 are pink skinned, which is a pretty large ratio of pinkness. But oh well, girl toy = pink according to the media right?

Still, the pink doesn't bother me too much. It works with her mad concept.

She has one purpley blue eye (same colour as her hair) and one pink eye and both have little crescent moons in them.
For some inexplicable reason, she has little triangles doodled across her face, something that wasn't present in her promo artwork so seems a bit baffling. It's distracting I think, and messy. Why are they there? What are they supposed to be? Does she have some terrible Alien skin condition or did she get bored on the flight to earth?

She has little bat wings and a bright pink tail which is slightly bendy. And her legs are full of goo. They even call it "goo" on the box! Because we all know little girls LOVE goo!
It's just some sort of coloured liquid that slops around inside her hollow legs, much like Una Verse and Annie Artic. So it's a reused gimmick and one i'm SURE will not age well. I'm just waiting for reports of these leaking, gross.

Her hair is a wonderful indigo colour with white underneath, and it's styled into a sort of swirling fringe at the front. The only problem with this is that it really makes her forehead HUGE, but it does help show off her face doodle and the unique Novi face mould which is so often hidden by hair all over the place.
She still has a massive amount of hair though, it's thick and it's heavy and it makes her fall over a lot.

It's also oddly kinked due to packaging. I don't quite understand why the novis need to have foot length hair, it doesn't look nice and it just gets in the way. I'd prefer it butt length or even just knee length, but MGA are obsessed apparently with jamming as much nylon into a doll head as they can.
It is a really pretty colour though.
Not great quality but it's ok, just needs a bit of styling work. I am however, far too paranoid to try immersing a novi in water. But her hair could probably do with some nice hot water to straighten it out.

The wings and tail both come off. You can really see how much they just do NOT match the rest of the doll. I'm not sure why they decided to go with this bright orangy salmon colour for them while she's all purple and pale pink, they might have worked better in purple with that pale pink in contrast... hmm. Or just matching her skin tone you know? 
Still, they can be removed and chucked aside if desired.
They plug in quite nicely, the tail feels pretty secure when it's inserted and the wings have two little pegs holding them in place. They still fly off if you move her hair but that's a problem with all removable wings and insane amounts of hair. But at least the wings and tail mostly stay on, which is nice.

Her shoes are cute. no idea what they're supposed to be aside from geometric, but they're cute. The goo chamber inside her leg has really obvious seams and pegs, which is a problem with any clear limb like this.

The goo can travel up and down her legs when you tilt her... which I honestly can't see the point of but there you go. There's slightly more purple goo than blue goo which gives her a neat mismatched sock sorta look when standing. 

With her hair tied back a bit to try to tame that massive mane, you can see her little ears. I love the novi ears, why you gotta hide them all the time MGA?

Her pet is a... long eared.. thing with a tail that loops around it like a hula hoop. I really don't know but at least it's kinda cute and doesn't look like it wants to murder me. Unlike Mallie's pet (I'm sorry Vasebug don't hurt me!!!)

Now, I can't say Tula is a pretty doll, she isn't... but she's unique and interesting. Certainly risks were taken here, and insanity was embraced. She's a strange toy but there's no denying she's definitely alien.
An acquired taste certainly, Tula doesn't have the mass immediate appeal of some of the other characters but it's good to see MGA stepping outside the box and taking those sorts of risks creating Marmite dolls.

I give her 7 out of 10 legs full of probably not toxic goop.

Vera Tebray

Speaking of brave design choices and risk taking... Vera... a skeletal fairy with three eyes. Wth?

Apparently her wings flutter but we'll get to that.
Vera is one of the two "super Novas". This season we have 2 Novi lines each featuring two new characters only. The Super Novas and the Invasion dolls. I have no idea why they're two different lines with only two dolls each, it's odd. The invasion ones are slightly cheaper but I couldn't tell you why as I don't have one yet. Vera and Mimi, the super novas are bother £20 like regular novi stars so I have to assume they're just the next wave of standard. So why the new line name? What's super about them? I don't understand! They haven't got a super theme or anything, they're just two random new characters. Nor do the two characters have anything in common, unlike the invasion pair who are fire and ice themed.
so odd.

Anyway, vera art fail right here. This image bothers the hell out of me. It's difficult to see but the body? That's her BACK. Yeah.. somehow she can twist her head like some kind of freaky owl girl to look behind her while walking away. Maybe that's her super power? She's super skeleton owl head girl! marvel at her remarkably flexible neck which she uses to... do nothing of any import. Huh.

Anyway, massive art perspective failure aside, let's look at the actual doll.

The Super Nova boxes are different to the other boxes, they're mostly cardboard instead of a plastic case and not too difficult to open. Thank goodness. Also being cardboard, the box goes back together easier and I had no unfortuante slicing my hand open on the plastic incidents. Sadly, no "headband for you". ALAS! I was building such a collection of stupid plastic headbands to wear in public and embarrass the kids.

Vera uses a modified and unique sculpt with three eyes instead of the usual 2 and sculpted skeletal legs. Those legs are awesome!

She's another pink skinned novi, they seem to be predominantly pink but for a crazy skeleton fairy, I don't think she could be any other colour really. Fairies are all about the pink right? Personally I love the colour scheme because it's a sorta girly pretty colour but a really kinda freaky design. The contrast works really well.

Her legs are skeletal as are her wings, while her hands are clear and fade into the pink. She has three silver sparkly eyes with slitted pupils, the white part is just three lines but they kinda look like -_- faces to me hahah. Ghosty faces? Only two eyes have lashes, the central eye goes without. She also only has 2 eyebrow dots instead of the standard 6.

Vera's pet is called Fibi... lol cute. Get it? Like Fibia? ahem. I have no idea what this thing is, it's some sort of three eyed bone golem pink humanoid. It's cute.

Yet more messy too much hair. Vera's hair is pale pink with black streaks. It has this odd bun, twirl thing at the top. The hair gets in the way of her wings, her antennae.. everything in fact. 

Under all that hair she has some interesting skeletal wings in silver. They look a bit like Monster High Cupid's ribcage wings but manage to be unique by being more well.. fairy-like and less ribcage re-purposed. They attach via a sorta backpack box thing which attaches to her back. Those two prongs facing inward? Those are the prongs you're supposed to press to make her wings flutter. They are small and worse, they're POINTY. Oh her wings will flutter if you squeeze them hard enough sure, but it hurts! Maybe i'm doing it wrong. Her wings don't really move much, they're very stiff and the prongs are awkward to use. Her gimmick somewhat fails in that it's difficult to operate, especially with her hair down.

Her knee caps and ankle joints are tiny hearts, how cute is that?? Sadly her legs are not jointed, they're solidly cast. I can see why, they're be quite fragile if they were jointed but it's a shame. They look like they should be able to bend, but nope.
She even has little detailed toe bones! Eeeee, cute! (Yes, only I could call bones cute.. i'm odd ok?)

Vera has black shoes with a massive, curled pink, two pronged heel on them. They're very cool shoes.

They kinda remind me of some of Monster High Clawdeen's boots, mixed in with Picture Day Draculaura's strappy heels.

The Invasion novis have purple stands, they're identical to the regular stands except colour and not glowing. I really am not sure why they changed this, glow in the dark too expensive maybe?
She plugs in nicely though. Her two pronged heels make for a good solid anchor.

Look at me! I can stand!

I'm not sure what her antennae are, they're very different to the others. There's no obvious "shape" at the end, they're just this curled, almost organic fern frond shape. There's something somewhat antler about them, and I love them!

Her dress is simple like all novi outfits, but it feels fairyish. A big poofy shimmery skirt and a fitted silver bodice. She has a bone bracelet as well but it's huge and doesn't really stay on. 

Overall, Vera is an amazing little figure. She is utterly unique, she's alien, she's gothic, she's freaky but also cute. She's a terrific blend of edgy and cutesy and she just works. Who can't love a skeletal fairy girl?
Sure the skeleton wings make me think of Cupid from Monster High, but here it's just done so differently that one could hardly accuse her of being Novi cupid. That said... giving her a little bow and arrow.. <_< ahahah.
But anyway,

She's a risky design that's paid off. She stands out despite her pale pink tones. I adore her and while i'm not about to say she's perfect (her wing gimmick doesn't work and her hair is a mess) she's adorable and a wonderful Novi addition.

I give her 9 ghosty faces out of 10

In summary

I like the Novi Star line, the dolls are innovative in design and they are taking a fair few risks with their concepts, truely embracing the alien thing. How many other doll lines out there have a cyclops, a multi limbed character and half tv robots? There's a great deal of creativity and fun going into these characters, I only wish they were less well.. shallow in personality.

However, despite how much I like them, there is no way these dolls are worth the £20 asking price. The hair fibre isn't nasty, but it's certainly nothing amazing or luxurious either. It's standard cheap toy line nylon but rooted too thickly and too long to look decent. It just looks like frizz as soon as you debox.
The Gimmicks are very retro and appeal to me purely on that front, but they're also very very pointless.A lower price point and ditching those gimmicks wouldn't be a bad move imo.

In general the doll feels fragile, much more fragile even than the Monster High dolls. They just do not feel like they could deal with being played with even by a very careful child.
The arms fall off a lot, the stands can't support them and Mae's head fell off a few times as well!!

The later ones do at least stay on their stands and the gimmick thing seems to be falling a bit more to the wayside as they run out of easy ideas. How many more ways can they make a doll light up or fill with random goo and glitter? But they still have their faults and while they look pretty on a shelf, they don't make great playthings thanks to their static poses, fragility and frizzy hair, this is somewhat of a failure for a TOY line.

The line has potential amongst collectors if nothing else, but their biggest let down is still price point (Even at £16 they're a bit much for what you get) and their fragile structure.

If you see them on clearance, pick em up. They're certainly a unique addition to the doll scene. But I couldn't reccomend them as a toy for a young child, I have no doubt they'd break within about 10 minutes even with a careful child. And while i'm sure that goop inside them is non toxic, i'm not convinced it's washable and i'd sooner NOT have my sofa or carpet or indeed child covered in the stuff when the leg inevitably cracks and starts to leak.