25 Mar 2017

Living Dead Dolls Series 33 - Moulin Morgue - Maitre Des Mortes and Madame La Morte

Yep i'm back, kinda.

though I will warn you, my focus has shifted rather a lot due to recent events.

Honestly most playline stuff currently on shelves isn't working for me anyway, the doll aisles are very barren which added to me boycotting Mattel, leaves me with very little options for toy fixes.

So I returned to my Living Dead Dolls. Which I collect sporadically.
Series 31 I loved, series 32 I hated... a lot. Series 33 however? Back to the usual "i like a couple but not all of them" standard. And i'm good with this because these aren't cheap dolls. With 5 per series and 2 series a year plus special releases and LDD Presents and all that, it's not a cheap franchise to collect.

Add to that our terribly weak pound, prices for everything have skyrocketed. Last year these dolls were retailing for about £26. Now they're almost £30 each.
That's pretty painful.

So I can only justify ones I LOVE.
And I have a bit of a soft spot for black and white dollies.


I believe I talked about LDDs in a previous "stuff I bought this month" blog post, but this is the first full review i've actually given these guys.
Usually I feel like I haven't really got enough to say. They arrive, I open them, I take some pics, that's that. But I needed something to rekindle my passion and excitement and I felt like I needed to get back into the swing of reviews just to put nasty crap behind me and move forward.


these guys are getting the full review treatment. Ooo exciting.

Series 33 has a cabaret theme. Every series has a theme, some more cohesive and defined than others. 30 was "freak show", 31 was "things that go bump in the night", 32 was "vintage halloween" and 33 is "dark cabaret". I approve, I do like a bit of dark cabaret like I enjoy twisted circus and all that as well.

I own 2 dolls from series 30 and 3 from 31 but I really honestly didn't like 32. I felt like most of the dolls looked a bit... like someone scribbled on them with a sharpie and that was really off-putting.

Sharpie man... freaking sharpie.

Thankfully 33 are back to looking like proper ldds to my eye. No doodled on faces, no weird bright pop art colours (I get it, they were trying to go for a vintage postcard look but it doesn't work for me) back to blood spatter and black and all that fun stuff.

So let's look at my new dolls shall we?

We'll start with Madame, because she's the first one I bought.

And here is a story for you.

So i've been waiting for this series to hit the uk for weeks now and they finally did hit a couple of weeks back, but while Forbidden planet probably won't get stock for another 3 months (sloooow) everywhere else was already doing something i'd never seen with previous series as soon as they hit. They were raising the price of this one girl while the other four were remaining around about retail. So all the set would be £29 except the Madame La Morte who would be listed for £34:99 or something, and it KEPT happening. I've never seen this before, usually the prices don't start to do that with the popular one being sold for more until the sets are all sold out and on the second hand market. To be doing that brand new out of cases when cases are still shipping? that's weird to me.
I mean, series 30 it never happened. series 31 didn't either even though there was clearly one way less popular and two who were way more popular, their prices all remained level at retail. But the Madame, she kept being listed for a good £5 more than the others and it was worrying me. I thought there was a good chance I wouldn't be able to get her for retail if she was popular enough for the retailers to hike her price, so I decided I needed to buy these two NOW and not wait as I wanted to and would have previously done.
I didn't want to risk missing out. These are only produced in a limited quantity and when they're gone they're gone after all, but usually there are enough to go around.

Her price might come down again, who knows, but it's unlikely she'll drop below retail so that was my goal, find her for retail.
and I did. On Amazon via a third party seller.
Well, in the time it took me to add her to my cart, decide not to buy the Maitre and remove him, her price had hiked up by £10! with the same seller! But Amazon still let me check out with the price when I clicked "buy", so hmmm.
I half expected the order to be cancelled, particularly when that seller then dropped to being "out of stock"

Meanwhile I was watching the price of the Maitre and decided it was worth a cheeky check on Flubit (if you haven't heard of this, Flubit is a site that somehow magically undercuts amazon prices often using the same retailers. No idea how they do this, but it's a free service. It takes about 4 hours to get an offer so if you aren't in a hurry, it's worth a check to see if you can get a few quid off). https://flubit.com/referral-scheme/share/?key=57e5addc35f8630e50c97320e3d2f903 this is my referral link, you know, if you wanna go have a play.


I got me an offer on the Maitre for £3:60 off his retail price, so i accepted that and was told it would be dispatched by a company who's name I didn't recognise.

So I was expecting two parcels. One from Infinity toys with my Madame and one from the other retailer who was called Fireworks something else with Maitre.
Imagine my surprise then, when a single box showed up with Infinity's stickers on.
"oh" I assumed. "this would be the Madame. funny, this box is a bit large for one coffin."

Both dolls were inside.
Wierder, only one invoice/reciept and it's for the Maitre NOT Madame. There's no invoice for her at all.

I have to assume Fireworks and Infinity are the same company or something. Bizarre. But also, why on earth is there only one receipt and how'd they work out two orders from different sites were the same person?

Magic, dark magic. It's the only explanation man.

Flubit are in fact warlocks.


I got my dolls

As with all LDDs Moulin Morgue come in thick cardboard coffin shaped boxes with a plastic cover and celophane all around them. There's a label or "chipboard" on the front of the coffin with a little poem and the doll's name.

What I find amusing is that despite the "15 and up" label on the front, the bottom of the box actually states they're not suitable for children under the age of 3 due to small parts. For whatever reason i find the image of giving this to a toddler really dang funny okay?

"it's not blood no, it's uh.. ketchup sweetheart yes."

Anyway, opening the coffins is usually not that difficult. A lot of people elect to keep them in their display boxes forever, but I am not one of those people. I like to PLAY with my dollies damnit.
So purists, look away now as I tear this sucker open.

So, first you gotta get the saran wrap stuff off. with that off the plastic lid just lifts away and you're left with doll, tissue paper, the twisty ties and the chipboard.

I didn't get a picture of this for Madame so shhh.

Lift the chipboard, it's not attached to anything and comes away easily on one side like this. (aww look at the cute neon red windmill)

Next is the tricky bit. Because the dolls are held in with twisty ties, you can't just cut them (they're wire and pretty tight) so you have to caaaaarefully lift the tissue section out of the box.
this usually in my experience results in teeny tears.

However, these Morgue boxes are a bit different to the other boxes, they have these plastic sections up the top for the hats and heads to slot into which means the little tissue bed they usually lie on is really... really damn floppy and lifting this out has the "fun" extra problem that some genius decided to GLUE THE TISSUE PAPER to the sides of the fricken coffin.


I hate you whoever you were.

Because it wasn't weak glue, oh no, it was very strong glue and it resulted in massive tears in the tissue.


the top part is supposed to still be lined because it's glued down behind and around the plastic part. In regular coffins the WHOLE backing piece comes out, all the tissue, so there's no reason for it to be glued to the coffin walls.
But someone got a bit glue happy with series 33 and it makes me grumpy because it spoiled that nice red tissue.

Behind the card "bed" of the coffin is the death certificate which is, as usual, in a little baggy that's taped to the card.

Another unusual aspect of this backing card is this little raised bit. It's the support the plastic hat slot thing but you know what's underneath this glued very narrow bit of card?

The fricken twisty tie that goes around the doll's NECK.

I'm starting to think Mezco didn't want us opening these ones. Sheesh.

Thankfully the glue on the card is weak as shit.It is however really really sticky, this is probably the same stuff they used on the tissue which is why it tore because this glue is SO sticky it'll quite literally cling to anything that comes into contact with it.

Get that shit open and you can access the last twisty tie. There's 3, one for the legs, one for the waist and this one for the neck.

that done, the whole doll sliiiides on out of the plastic head rest.

And look, silica gel! I don't remember this in the other boxes. This is a new thing. It's tacked to the card and i'm cool with this. 

Phew, she's free.

And not looking too worse for wear. though my fingers are a bit sore from some over zealous twisty tie twister twisting those things super tight in the factory. Eeeeouch.
Come on guys, she's not gonna get up and walk about if you don't strap her down tight enough, yeesh.

And here's her death certificate. For some reason despite being curled into a roll it still has a huge ass crease across the middle like it was folded. Hmmm.

Her date of death is feb 27th 1915. Quite often the LDDs death date has some significance or is a reference to something relating to the theme of the doll.
https://iht-retrospective.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/1915-fire-destroys-moulin-rouge/?_r=0 This one is the date the Moulin Rouge burned down.

Now let's look at the doll herself.

Madame has heavy lidded "come to bed" eyes and a stark white face that contrasts with her pink skin. She has blood dripping down her face, her neck and across her chest.
She has a little beauty mark and cupids bow lips.

Her hair is big and curly and white but as is quite often the case, thinly rooted.

Without her hat you can better see what's going on. She has a receeding hairline with one side of the hair tied up in a little ponytail thing and a deep cut going the whole... way... around ... her face

She's either cut her face off and put it back on, or she's wearing someone ELSE'S face. Ehehehehehe.

She wears a little bow tie around her neck which attaches at the back with velcro. There's a white satin jacket and a blood spattered white gown with black ribbon and lace detailing.
there's blood on her hands and dripping from her throat suggesting something interesting is under that bow tie.

And sure enough, she's got a slit throat too.

Her dress is honestly a bit ill fitted around the bodice. LDDs don't have boobs but the dress looks to have been designed for a doll with breasts so it just bags wierdly around her chest.

The bottom part of the dress is a semi opaque black fabric (I don't know fabrics okay?) with a ruffled trim around it. Under that is a straight satin feeling black skirt that fits quite tightly to her legs. There's a ribbon around the waist that's sewn onto the bodice and ties at the back cinching the dress at the waist. It gives this illusion of a sort of apron. 

Here's her outfit off the doll.

The hat is flocked and soft and attaches with a little elastic band.

She has a little plastic skirt on to protect her legs from staining.

She has little witchy books with heels and molded buttons.

And then Maitre.
Like the Madame he's packaged with that hat plastic holdy thingie so yeah, same issues opening this box.

His chipboard poem references Cabaret, the song/musical. Aaand now I have that running through my head.
"she was the happiest corpse i've ever seen."


I love this guy's black and white look. It's very effective.

He's a white skinned doll with black cupid's bow lips and super asymmetric eyebrows. That raised eyebrow has such attitude. There's these thick false lashes painted on the edges of his eyes as well.

He seems to take a lot of inspiration from the MC from Cabaret, which I dig.

His eyes are wide and staring which along with those eyebrows give him quite an intense look.

Now I say "he" but apparently when asked whether this doll was "a boy or a girl" the creators simply replied "yes", so... go figure. I'm saying "he" because he looks so much like the MC.

Her has these two strands of hair glued down to her face and a lot of gloop/hair gel crap across his face which I had to clean off.
White skinned dolls show dirt SO easy, it's a real bummer.

Under the flocked tophat he has slicked back hair. What's nice is that while there's some product in the hair to keep it gelled, it's not sticky or hard or crunchy, it's actually still quite soft. I appreciate that.

He has black fingernail polish, cute.

It's hard to tell in photos but his white shirt is actually a crop top.

The jacket is really awkward to get off. the chain that holds it together doesn't unclasp or anything. It's JUST wide enough to slide on and off, but I wouldn't want to do it again. It was fiddly and I was worried I was going to break the chain by forcing it too much.

The suit jacket has a zig-zag intentionally tattered hemline and very wide collar that almost looks like giant shoulder pads.  It's made of the same suiting material they make all the boy suits out of.

Interestingly the trousers aren't fully white, they're sort of stained with ... well it looks like yellow. It's across the entire pant so it looks like intentional patina, though i'm not sure WHY or what it's supposed to be. Just dirt? bile? rinsed out blood? (which leaves yellowy brown stains, don't ask me how I know this lol) or just dirt? Who knows.

He has these elastic suspenders, a little bowtie sewn to the collar of his sleeveless croptop shirt and little fake buttons sewn down the front.

Can you see the blood under the shirt? Let's get a look at that.

He has a hole... right through his chest. The whole way through. (also no panties, scandalous)

A perfectly round hole, it looks like he was shot in the chest with a cannon ball or something.

And straight out the back.

Disappointingly there's no insert to make it look three dimensional, you can see the inner workings of the doll's joints but they could have painted the inside red or inserted a red cellophane tube or something? Just... something more you know? just to add that extra dimension.

Interestingly, it looks like the pegs for the arms and neck are moulded in red plastic. They aren't painted red, they look to be actually moulded red.
It was probably to reduce the risk of chipping and transfer when inserting them into the doll.

Here's his outfit. A lovely flocked tophat, pants with suspenders, croptop shirt and suit jacket with tattered hem.

Redressed you can see the yellow stains on his pants better, and how strangely shaped his shirt IS. It's more like a bib, it barely covers the shoulders at the back and comes down the belly button at the front.
I find it interesting his wound hasn't bled through his clothes. Did he get changed into clean clothing after he was shot or something? why isn't it bleeding through?

seems weird okay?

His shoes are standard LDD boots. They don't have that many shoe moulds for ldds, so you tend to see the same ones over and over. But that's not really a problem as this line is about the overall look, not individual cool shoes. Boots are boots, you don't really NEED multiple slight variations you know?

I didn't get a picture of his death certificate but his date of death is December 12th 1993, which is apparently the premiere of the Sam Mendes version of Cabaret (the musical)

It reads:

"The Master of Death welcomes you to the show
The audience is anxious for the blood to flow
The curtain arises and the performers take the floor
And our gracious Emcee showers the attendants in gore."

So I take it this is referencing the gaping hole in his chest right? I still say it's a cannon ball lol. 

And here they are together. I think Maitre looks kinda peeved while Madame's all "I am le tired... " (that was an obscure reference wasn't it?)

 Seriously though, she looks bored and/or sleepy. Maitre on the other hand looks about ready to shiv a bitch.

So they join the rest of my small collection on the shelf I cleared when I purged my MH collection.
As you can see, I didn't get rid of ALL of them, but I did clear most of a shelf so now the LDDs have a space of their own.
Which is nice.

So what do I think of series 33?

Well the usual gripes with LDDs are the thinly rooted hair and potentially staining clothing but they aren't play dolls, they're supposed to be displayed so thin hair I can sort of forgive so long as it sits nicely.
It disappoints me that Madame's dress is so baggy at the front, I think it looks like it's always falling down.
I'm worried the hats will stain their heads but they look so cool with them on nghh.

I love that both have little hidden details like the Madame's slit throat and Maitre's chest... hole. I'd love to know what that's actually supposed to represent.
I wish they'd added just a teensy tube inside there to really make that hole more effective. I might have to do it myself if I can find some plastic I can wrap into a tube shape and ram in there. I think it'd look cool.

I think Maitre is my favourite of the set. I like the Madame yes, but I feel like Maitre just has this real pop from his extremely monochromatic look. the white skin, white shirt, black hair and clothing is really visually striking.
As is that very stark makeup he has.

I'm glad to have them both. They fit in well with the rest of my crew heheh.

It's hard to give a number rating to Living Dead Dolls because they're so outside my usual review criteria. They aren't playline dolls, they're adult collectables designed to be displayed not played with. From a display perspective they work great, my only gripe is Madame's ill fitting gown (I keep wanting to pull it up for her, poor girl's got some major nip slippage happening... if she had nipples) but even if you view them as DOLLS, they're pretty robust little things. With only 5 points of articulation (hips, shoulders, neck) there really isn't much you can damage. The outfits are as always detailed and well made and look pretty dang good. There's no sticky hair, there's no iffy frazzled bits, the face paint is crisp and even. The quality control on ldds seems to generally be pretty good, aside from a few wonky legs here and there of course. I don't think i've ever seen one with actual wonk but then they're not produced in great quantity. These series they only produce a few thousand, rather than a few million like playline dolls. And generally they are made with a level of care.

This series annoyed me with the packaging because it tore the tissue and I know that's petty given I don't intend to ever display them in the coffins, but damnit, I like to keep the coffins as intact as possible even if the dolls won't be in them. The coffins are part of the doll and there's intrinsic value in the coffins and tissue to collectors. Making it so it's basically punishing deboxers seems like a bit of a dick move, particularly when so many of the details of these dolls requires you debox (like the death certificates and the hidden details they love to put in there)
If they hadn't glued the damn tissue to the inner sides of the coffin itself the plastic and card tray/bed would have slid out fine and very little would have been damaged. So why glue it?
Just.. eugh.

Pain in the butt to debox, but fun to play with once they were out. I just hope the next series is less annoying to open up. Three twistie ties is fine but damnit, glue and tissue don't mix and having to take the whole damn backing card apart to get the neck tie off was dumb.
Sort it out guys.

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