24 Jan 2014

Monster High - Honey Swamp

Let's dive straight in. It's Honey Swamp!

Like Viperine, Honey has her air brushed looking artwork. I don't really like this image, she looks kinda creepy andnot in the good way. Her hair looks like she glued a sheep to her head rather than it being a proper afro like her doll, and there's just something very off about her face. I get what they were going for, but I really dislike this art style. 

 The back of the box makes up monster years ago. Swamp Monster years, which are special and different to Vampire and Werewolf and Boogieman years.
Man the aging of MH characters is confusing.

Honey is a stereotypical Southern Belle by the looks of things, which makes a degree of sense, though I keep expecting her to say "Well I do declare"as a spiffily dressed Gargoyle sweeps her off her feet.

This doll was purchased in the UK and i'm delighted to inform the UK collectors that yes, we have the exact same boxes and diaries as the US release. YAY! We often get the "international" version of things, and they suuuuck.

Can I just say I freaking LOVE Honey's hair? I know people were anxious when they saw her promo doll that the hair would be a nightmare, but I had faith in Mattel. I speculated they'd use the same fibre they used for My Scene Bryant, this thickly curled stuff that springs into thick coils. I was right, it is the same fibre and it's awesome.

Honey comes with two accessories, a video camera and a clip board.
I find it interesting that the clipboard the doll at comic con was holding had the name "Allie Gator" on it, and the Mattel website even list Honey's replacement arms as "Allie Gator arms"... hmmm... working name? Apparently there IS an Allie Gator in the movie, which is just plain confusing.

Anyway, the camera is just a camera, the clipboard clips. Not hugely exciting but they're cute enough little accessories.

Her hair was a bit flat at the back but just teasing it out with my fingers poofed it up nice.

Honey's hair is massive, tightly curled and tow toned green. It's all held in place with a hairband with a pink hat attached, and there's no way i'm trying to remove it because I don't know what her fro would do without it.

She has simple bubble? earrings, and her bracelet is similar. Is it frog eggs? Bubbles? pearls? I really don't know.

Honey's colouration is very very vivid. She's a saturated green that really does stand out. She's nothing like any of the other green/blue dolls, she's so much darker and brighter. She practically GLOWS in comparison to Frankie, Scarah, Gil and Lagoona.

She has teeth like Venus, i think they're supposed to be like Gator teeth but they look more like Venus flytrap teeth to me.
Her eyes are very strangely done, with white around the diamond pupils, the pupils in fact stand out over the top of her lashes, which is a strange choice. Usually the lashes go on top, you know.. like a real person's eyes. It makes her eyes stand out, that's for sure, but it also gives her a somewhat starey gaze.

Like Lagoona, she has webbed hands, but unlike Lagoona, the webbing is the same colour as her skin and not translucent.

Her dress is cute, a pastel purple blouse with a lace collar and faux buttons with a patterned poofy skirt with a vine and flower pattern (with monster faces in the flowers... whee. Look at them angry flowers! They so mad!)

Her belt is um... pink... blobby things. I'm not sure, I know nothing about swamps but i'm sure it's supposed to be something swampy.

This is where things get wierd. When I deboxed Honey I thought "hey, what's shedding?" as I noticed a lot of black fluff all over me.
Examining the doll revealed this oddness. Her underskirt, which I had assumed was going to be tuel or something, is actually fake... fur? What?

Dear god she's wearing a tribble!

This underskirt is frankly bizarre and mine sheds like crazy. It's annoying. I'm not convinced about this as a stylistic choice, what does fur have to do with swamps? And since when was it a good idea for a petticoat?
Well I suppose at least her... legs are warm?

Honey's shoes are stylised gator heads, they have teeth! They again remind me of Venus, but a closer look shows there's even a snarky looking gator eye (look at him, he's totally smirking) and nostrils and everything. Nice.

If there IS a gator monster in the movie, I wonder how she feels about the camera girl wearing Alligators on her feet.

Honey's body sculpt is unique again, wow... Mattel really went crazy with detail for this FCA line.

Honey even has custom panties, they're like leaves hahahaha.

She has vines crawling all over her.

There's vines on her legs.

There's vines on her body and arms.

and then there's these markings on her back which are reminiscent of a gator's skin.

The copyright info on Honey's body is shunted to one side to accommodate the vines. I find that interesting. Looks like the torso was designed and sculpted before they thought "oh yeah.. we gotta put copyright stamps here.. uh... "

Unfortunately at this point my camera died on me, so that's all the photos I got.

Overall i'm very impressed by Honey Swamp. I love her hair, her colouration is striking and she's the only character who's tried to pull off a Bratzillaz style fur number lol. Sashabella wants her petticoat back Honey.

I give Honey Swamp 9 leafy panties out of 10.
My only gripe with an otherwise beautiful and detailed doll is that underskirt, it doesn't feel like it's going to hold up to any sort of play and I don't like being covered in fur, I already have a cat to do that!

22 Jan 2014

Monster High - Viperine Gorgon

Oh heck yes Viperine.

So I ordered a bunch of dolls from Amazon US, because the UK was being slow getting stuff and was asking a staggering £20 for each of the new stars and Jane Boolittle which I felt was more than a little excessive.
Importing from the US, even including import and postage fees, still worked out cheaper. That's just silly right?

Anyway, amongst the dolls I ordered was Viperine. And believe me, I hoped and hoped i'd get lucky and not have any errored dolls.

They arrived this morning in a giant box and I eagerly got to pawing over them. Jane, Elissabat and Clawdia all seem fine but I wasn't certain about Viperine. Her glasses made it hard to figure out if she was errored or not and her placement in the box was messing with my perspective.

So I deboxed her to find out for sure.

I'm happy to report, she's got a slight error but it's nothing major like the eye wonk I thought I was seeing. Phew!

Anyway, let's get to that review shall we?

The Frights Camera Action boxes are ok, though they're not as striking as some of the other boxes Monster High has released.
The box itself has a sort of old movie billboard to one side with the MH logo, and a digitally painted image of the doll that I suspect is airbrushed over the CGI model. There's something very 3d animation about the art here. I don't like the 3d art on the boxes, I much prefer the 2d art style but oh well, cheaper and quicker to do it this way I suppose.

the backing card is a red carpet (Black carpet?) with cameras flashing and such forth. It's very appropriate for the theme but there's no hilarious little easter eggs that I could see (No teeny Deuce riding a far too small scooter at night for instance hahahaha, oh Scaris. Ahem.)


Here's that art work, it's not bad but believe me when I say Viperine has the best artwork of the bunch.

On the back of the box there's a full body image of Viperine on the black carpet, and an edited down bio, along with the blurb for the special this line ties into.

I like that they included a pronouciation guide for Stheno, because I sure as heck didn't know that was how you said it. I also love that they made another Gorgon as the daughter of one of Medusa's sisters from the myth, Stheno and Eurayle aren't exactly as famous as their little sister.

I have to admit, I laughed for quite some time at the "I'm a biter" comment here. Ooo errr Viperine, that's a little personal isn't it? *snicker* Methinks she's been hanging out with the Bratzillaz or something, coming out with that sort of remark. Hey girl, what you do in the bedroom is YOUR business ok?

Viperine really does stand out against this rather dull backdrop. All pinks and blues. She's hardly innovative in her colour scheme alongside all the other pink mh characters, but she looks good on the backing card, nice and bright.

That's a very uncomfortable way to hold a makeup brush though Vip.

She comes with this odd little horn brush and a makeup pallete, both of which can go into her little makeup case:

Which has adorable little fangs ahahaha. Omg it's so stinking cute, I feel like at any moment it'll sprout legs and toddle off.

Out of box, Viperine is pretty damn awesome. Her skin tone is very much that of an albino snake, a sort of pale peachy tan, and her hair falls in lovely thick curls at the front.

It's not quite so tame at the back. It's a bit frizzy at the ends but that's pretty normal for "box hair".

Working from the bottom, her shoes... they have this sorta mesh platform on them, fangs on the front, then they lace up and have snakes crawling around the tops of them. They're very cool boots, though it might have been nice if the laces had been painted as well as the fangs.

The dress is seriously 70s, made of cotton with a little pleated hem and an empire waist (that is, under the bust). The fabric has all these flowers and a very funky gorgon head printed on. I love that gorgon head. It's awesome and being sideways it's not immediately obvious what it is.
The top section is more a paisley fabric in a pretty purpley blue to match the hem.

The dress actually fits really nicely, no wierd fat belly like the promo images seemed to have at all. It's also made of nice fabric and feels like a proper dress, I want one in human size hahah.

The necklace she's wearing doesn't actually come off. It's moulded as one solid piece, presumably due to the weight of the snakes and the issues of keeping it ON if it had a slit like normal doll necklaces do.
I wonder why they didn't just give it a little clip latch like you sometimes see, seems an odd design choice and makes redressing her even more difficult. Her snakes already make it a pain to get her dress on and off, the necklace getting in the way just adds to the issue.
It also limits what you can put her into, it needs to be able to work with the snake necklace.

Of course that's not to say the snake necklace isn't freaking awesome, it's moulded to her bust so sits really nicely in place and just helps complete her outfit.

Viperine's snakes are two pieces. This part which is a removeable headband

And this bit which I believe is glued into her head.

The headband has a little peg that clips into a hole in Viperine's scalp. The hole is actually quite hidden when you remove the headband and brush her hair out, but I can see her being a nightmare for anyone hoping to reroot her with all these holes in her head.

Thing about this little peg hole though, is that it's really quite an elegant solution to the slipping headband issue. Once clipped in, it stays in position tightly and solidly, holding her hair in pace and even allowing for the little snake head to cheekily peer around her curl.

You can see here she has quite elongated ears, which is interesting. no earrings though, they'd just get in the way of all the other stuff she's got going on.

Her glasses have snakes twisting all around them. Sadly without the plastic packaging piece to keep them in place, they have a tendency to slip and fall off Viperine's face.

I'm not sure if she's pretty or creepy, or a bit of both.
Her forehead scales are lopsided, printed a little too much to one side but oh well.
her eyes might also be a little too low, not sure.

Anyway, she has somewhat narrow lips, little fangs, a very flat nose and a cleft chin, have we had a girl with a cleft chin before? Nice touch, her jaw line is quite squared and reminds me of her cousin Deuce.
Her eyes are pink with silvery flecks in, and she has silver eyeshadow which is nice and subdued, working great with her pink hair.

According to her diary, Viperine doesn't have a stone gaze. Only Medusa and Deuce can do that, but most monsters don't realise this. She wears glasses because they look cool, that's it. I like this touch, it fits with the legend and that kind of thing makes me happy.

Speaking of Deuce, it's cool to have a family member for him where it actually makes sense for them no to be mentioned earlier. I see no reason you'd never mention a sibling, but a cousin? I can believe that.

I also really do like that she's not just "Deuce but a chick", she's distinctly her own monster.

Deuce is a LOT more human than Viperine. I wonder if that comes down to their father's heritage? Viperine doesn't mention a dad in her diary, nor does Deuce but I always assumed his dad was a normie or something. Perhaps Viperine's dad was a more serpentine monster, or it's just one of those odd quirks of genetic throwbacks heh.

Viperine has a whole new sculpt. It's similar to the Gorgon cam, but it's been beefed up and made even more insanely detailed.
Viperine has shaped segments across her torso and "soft underbelly" effect on her inner arms and legs, along with all those scales.

This level of detail is crazy and awesome. I can sort of see why they've upped the price point if Mattel are going to be pulling hidden detail like this on a regular basis, because wow. 

As a final note, yes she came with a stand. At first I was thinking "ok, how do I get this on with the snakes?" but actually, the snakes have a convenient "parting" that's just the right size for the stand. Nice. 

So there she is, Viperine Gorgon. She's one heck of a doll.

Much as her colour scheme has disappointed a few, I actually quite like it. She's obviously inspired by albino snakes, which is a clever way to get around the "looking like Deuce too much" issue had they gone with green. She may be "yet another pink character" but her 70s Farrah Fawcett hair and boho clothing is something unique we haven't seen before. Her sculpt is remarkable and I honestly can't find any real legitimate faults with the doll. She's beautiful and inhuman at the same time, she's suitably weird and I still want her dress in human size damnit. Human ADULT size at that. You listening Mattel?

I give Viperine 9 inconsiderately placed love bites out of 10. She's awesome and well worth getting.

20 Jan 2014

Once upon a zombie

Monsters are hot property right now, and who doesn't love zombies?
Also hot right now? Fairy tale princesses.
So Wowee decided to blend the two and came up with Once Upon a Zombie, a line of zombified disney-like princesses.

heck... yes.

I've been wanting one for a while now, and my trip to Toys R Us netted me Belle. Oddly the ONLY one they had in stock.
at £14:99, I had to pick her up and see what I thought. Besides, i'm a sucker for a redhead.


I'm not totally sure "Belle" was the right sort of name to use here. It's a bit too Disney. She's supposed to be the "beauty" from Beauty and the Beast right?  But I suppose "Zombie Beauty" and "Zombie sleeping beauty" were too similar? 
Anyway, that aside, this is Zombie Belle. 

Now first things first, the box. 

I can't compare this one with the others in the set as they only had Belles in the store, 6 of them! but this particular character features an orange backdrop with roses and... stars? It all reeks of clipart honestly lol. The roses are cute though, it's those star things that let it down, they make no sense. Why are they here?

The plastic window has moulded detailing which really doesn't show up well in photos. At the top there's two moulded skulls and there's cracks in the window that make it look like the doll is trying to escape. Cute heh. 

Belle's also posed in a way that makes it look like she's trying to push her way out. (albeit a little casually, but the cracks are near her hands so I have to assume that's the intent) She's posed leaning one hand against the box edge. I do like it when toys react with their packaging, it's always amusing and clever. 

 The back of the box is a little cluttered for me, but I put that down to the international packaging meaning the blurb is repeated several times. 
The character art is cute, though looks very little like the doll itself. The hair is totally different and the doll hasn't got those bandages for starters. 

This is the "story" for this line. Some.. magic happened, now they're zombies. What do they mean by "empower"? Empower what? or whom? Themselves? Are they gonna go full on Zombie apocalypse and eat everyone's brains?
And it's hardly a secret if they know they're zombies. Oh i'm so confused.

There's also an app apparently, though I haven't downloaded it yet. Looks like you can... turn a photo of yourself green and add random effects and scars? Ok.. whatever.

At the bottom there's the 6 characters, and I have to admit, much as I like the artwork of characters, I do wish boxes would feature photos a little more often. So frequently the art and doll look nothing alike, i'd like to know what to expect.
I still find it odd Belle is "Belle" rather than Beauty, as all the others are named after their fairy tale. I have to continue to assume it's due to the sleeping beauty/beauty similarity.
Also kinda a shame they have 4 blondes here. They could have gone really mad and given the little mermaid blue or green hair or something, that would have been awesome. Just kinda a shame that out of 6 characters, 4 of them have the same hair colour.

Anyway, let's open this box already.

Oh dear, looks like we have a competitor to MGA on the "how long and how much will I injure myself opening this overly taped, over glued box" contest. the back panel you kinda peel back after removing tape on all sides (I HATE this box style, means you can't keep the box afterwards as you effectively destroy it opening it. Arghhh). Then there's those two orange strips that are not only taped, but GLUED DOWN. The tabs for the plastic front piece is taped under these, so you have to get under them to ease the tabs out. Wth? Why?

Hate it hate it hate it.

anyway, after a bit of a struggle, a lot of tearing of card and the use of a long needle and some scissors, I finally got the damn thing open.
Please companies, stop with the wasteful packaging. Can't we take a leaf out of Mattel's book and move to card boxes with tabs and next to no tape?

Got the plastic off, but it's not over yet. Noooo, she's tacked into the box with plastic ties, elastic and even sewn in. Argh. Snip, snip, snip.

Now just her hands are stuck. This kinda amused me, she looked like she was struggling against her puny plastic restraints.

One hand eased out easily, the other I had to have a closer look at. the tiny little gap just large enough for the wrist reminded me of the MH packaging, which meant her hand must come off right? Or else I was about to break my new doll.

Thank goodness I was right! The hands do pop off, and they do so quite nicely. the peg feels sturdy and strong and removal and reattachment doesn't need too much force, but likewise the hands don't just drop off when you move the doll. I approve.
The pegs in the hand actually feel a lot more robust than the MH ones which have a tendency to sorta bend and need some real force to jam back in. This one didn't feel like it was going to snap off, which is really nice.

The other stuff in the box, she hasn't got a lot. There's a brush with a stitched heart. And a stand, the clip is under the brush. The base under the doll herself, and the stand part to one side of her.

I like this stand. It's very lightweight, feels rather cheap however it goes together solidly. The upright clips into the base very securely, something that cannot be said of the MH stands that constantly topple out of the base section on me.
The clip slides down the strut as standard, but what I thought was a nice touch is that there's a little guide stopper just a little bit down the strut that locks the clip at exactly the right height for the doll. So you don't have to guess or slot the doll in then adjust the stand, you just pop her in and it's right. I like this.
Overall the stand just feels better thought out. It holds the doll, it doesn't fall over and it doesn't feel like it's going to break on me, unlike the Monster High ones that feel very brittle and a little shoddy honestly.

It's worth nothing the OUAZ dolls have no shoes, no jewellery and no bags. They come with a stand, a brush, a single hair accessory and their dress.
However, you can tell they put some effort into what little they did do.

Let's start at the top.

on top of Belle's head is a little tiny crown. It's somewhat hidden under all those curls to be honest, and not hugely interesting. It's just a crown. It's small, it's gold, it has little gems painted on it.

Belle has deep red/auburn hair, it's decent enough nylon, fairly soft to touch. It's style into three big curls. One either side of her face and one giant ponytail curl behind her. It's a little messy and a bit odd but she's a zombie, so it works fine.


Her eyes are inset and green, with lots of iris detail. They're a bit staring, but again, she's a zombie so it works well.

She has inset lashes, something you don't tend to see on dolls in this price point.

around her eyes is vivid green shadow, it goes nicely with her grey skin, giving her a certain... decaying beauty? I dunno.
Across one eye is a stitched scar. Each of the characters seems to have unique face stitch patterns, which is a nice touch.

her lips have a bit of fuzziness to the paint, ALL the 6 in the store did. I couldn't find a single one without that error. That said, I found none with wonk eye or any major flaws.

You can see her inset lashes a bit better here.
She also has this random error on her chin. It seems to be an air bubble or something that's left a tiny hole,which has something dark inside I can't get rid of. I have to assume it's a manufacturing error, but again, she's a zombie so minor blemishes can be forgiven. She's lucky she's undead, gives her a lot of leeway in terms of flaws lol.

She has a somewhat odd head. Her ears are really large and placed quite far back while the rest of her features are a little flat and her forehead slopes. It's not unattractive though, particularly alongside the lollypop headed flat faces of most modern dolls.

Her dress doesn't seem to fit her very well. The bodice part just seems slightly too long, i'm not sure if this was intentional or not though, given the tattered, rumpled look of the thing.

she has one sleeve, the other torn off. The hem is tattered and the whole thing is supposed to look worn and damaged.

At her waist there's a teeny little gold skull.

The single sleeve has a tattered cuff and little holes, which I find quite a cute touch. Makes it look really damaged. there's a lace underlay with a sort of cobwebby pattern.

The skirt has that same lacey underlay which is tattered and torn, as is the skirt itself. here's holes, there's tatters. Now i'm not certain this would all stand up to play but to be honest, the more damage would probably add more "authenticity" to her zombie look lol. Again, she gets away with a lot for being undead.

The dress is solidly constructed, the seams all feel sound and there's no fraying edges.  Aside from the fit being just a little wrong, there's nothing wrong with the dress. It's made of red satin fabric with gold satin and tuel of some sort.
It's a good little outfit with a bit of heft to it, it's made of decent fabric which is more than I can say for a lot of modern dolls.

She has beautifully expressive over sized hands and massive feet. There's no way she can wear any shoes, her feet are too flat and long. I like them though, they're well sculpted.

her lower legs are soft rubbery like the Bratzillaz, something that kinda bothers me because they warp. Again, zombie, she can get away with a twisted bendy leg but it still irritates me that companies keep using this really soft rubber for the bit of the doll that's going to support them when standing.

Nude, she's quite obviously very different to both Monster high and Bratzillaz. Her torso is quite long but also a lot more realistically shaped. She has a sway back, but she also has hips and a waist which is nice. Her head is more in proportion as well, though her arms are really overlong. This does however give her very expressive poses.
Her articulation is on par with both lines, if anything she has slightly better poseability than both thanks to her socketed hips. While Monster high now uses pegs that restrict the splaying of their legs, OUAZ can do full splits both ways which is cool. Her knees bend decently enough for most poses though her rubbery legs mean there's a lot in common with the Bratzilla on that front. The motion isn't quite as smooth as with the Monster high knees, but they do feel stronger and less liable to snap.

Belle's elbows bend fine, as do her wrists. She has great hand motion which will be displayed later on in this review.

Size wise, she's a similar height, but still broader bodied than the MH adults.

in fact, the closest body I could find in my collection was the new taller Bratz or Barbie bodies.

Belle CANNOT wear Bratzillaz clothes.

Barbie clothes are a little too large.

Taller Bratz (and therefore most likely Skipper clothes) fit her great in the top, though the pants were waaaay too long. Dresses and tops would work fine here.
likewise, Sasha could wear Belle's dress but it was a little baggy in places.

Overall I really do like this freaky girl. She's cute but she has the right amount of creepy and macabre. I know there's some who'd complain about the lack of shoes, but honestly I think it's an interested aesthetic and it works for the line. That said, this is NOT a fashion doll line. These dolls feel much more like something you'd see sold in Forbidden planet, collected by adults with a love for twisted fairy tales. As a playline doll, the lack of shoes and accessories is a problem. As a collectable? It's not. She displays great, she poses great and she's fun to photograph.
I just hope TRU get the others in stock soon, I'd like Rapunzel and Snow White.

Overall, I give OUAZ Belle 9 tasty braaaainssss out of 10. I really do like her. She feels of decent quality, the price point is just fine for what she is and she's got so much personality. how can you not love this crazy little redheaded zombie girl? She also fits in great with my other dolls, and has begun her own menagerie as you can see.

BONUS crazy posing time:

I've fallen and I can't get up!

 I see yoooou


 I'm a little tea pot....

Ronan:   Uh... I um... just remembered I have to be somewhere else.