12 Sep 2017

Monster High - A retrospective in multiple parts - 2010, where it all began.

So i'm kinda on spend embargo for a while, saving up for something pricey on top of nothing in stores really motivating me to part with cash.

This means it's time to look back and actually appreciate dolls I already own, dolls I used to own and generally look back on a franchise that has meant a lot to me and really was the last straw in sucking me into the doll collecting world.




I started collecting dolls in about 2009ish... when I found a Wee 3 Friends doll in a charity shop for 50p or something silly and was taken by her adorable happy face and mop of curly red hair.
I no longer own that doll, but she was the start of a slippery slope that eventually led me to Monster High.

See, I eventually stumbled, a little late, into Bratz and My Scene and as My Scene started to become impossible to find on shelves but would sometimes crop up in TK Maxx, the My Scene collector boards were already getting a little quiet.

then Mattel announced Monster High in 2010 it was exciting, a line of universal movie monsters but a teen fashion doll? it was such a weird concept, one that I couldn't quite fathom as being aimed at kids. It felt much more like the sort of thing aimed at teens or adults who loved horror, especially with how detailed the product WAS.

When they hit the UK of course I knew I wanted a couple. Frankie and Lagoona were my favorites, and Deuce because omg boy doll.
Argos only got 1 or 2 at a time in, so the first doll to come home with me was Frankie Stein.


It was July, 2010. (Remember Moxie Teenz? dang they were gorgeous dolls too)

Let us take a moment to enjoy the original packaging of the Monster High dolls. The boxes designed to look like a Trapper Keeper/Book Binder, the puntastic description for each character, the individual colour pallettes and the DIARIES OMG.

the diaries were soooo good.

They built up a world, gave the dolls more personality than just the usual vapid "likes/dislikes" bios for things like Bratz dolls and every single one was written with a different "voice" and in a different font to emulate each character's handwriting.

Oh they were wonderful things.
I really miss diaries.

I remember the excitement when you got a new character to pull out the diary first and read it before anything else lol.


Also the stands that were colour coordinated!

Frankie's stand was slightly metallic grey.

She was a stunning doll like so much articulation, on par with the Fashionistas that were being sold at the same time.

The dolls were £14:99 and for the money you certainly got a lot. A complete multi piece outfit, there's a little button thing stitched onto the bottom of Frankie's tie which helps it lay flat, the hem of her dress has tuelle netting, she has a belt with studs and chains attached, a simple bracelet, earrings with bright blue metallic skullettes and black and white strappy heels.

She came with a pet dog... thing and a plastic molded handbag too.

These original dolls had elastic strung legs which meant they could get quite floppy over time and their arms were attached with a long peg that lacked a stopper, which meant they slid out too easily and didn't "lock" into place like later dolls.
this was remedied pretty quickly, by the time we got to the first budget line, Gloom Beach, Mattel were already making improvements to the engineering.


They were, at the time, such a unique line. Who'd have thought a green skinned frankenstein's monster girl with obvious stiches all over her including her face and bolts in her neck would prove so popular with kids!


I soon found Lagoona as well.

Her outfit was even more complex than Frankie's. She had fishnets attached to a swimsuit type leotard. Over that she wore a pair of gym shorts with a stretchy band at the waist and a matching hooded jacket with little "fin ears" on it.
She had a bracelet and a necklace with a sea horse, little platformed flip flops, knot shaped earrings and a pink flower barrette in her hair.

Her hands were webbed and she had transparent fins in her legs/arms and finned ears too.
She was slightly pearly skinned too.

Her hair was a bit frizzier, it was supposed to be curly but of course curls seldom come out the box well.

Her stand was teal... I think.
And her handbag doubled as a fishbowl for her pet fish.

Now, originally I had only intended to get these two but as time wore on and the more I saw of the other characters, the more I kinda wanted them.
I wanted Deuce, but he came in a two pack with Cleo who I didn't much like.
I found her outfit a bit odd and her face a bit too mean, also it was a toys r us exclusive and we had no toys r us near us.

until October that year when a huge brand new store opened in the retail park in our city.

I went on opening day, which was the middle of the week and it was absolutely dead quiet.
but they had a huuuuuge display of Monster High right near the entrance including those two packs!


I admit it, I spent like 2 and a half hours just wandering around this massive toys r us store, looking at everything.
2010 was an exciting year for dolls. Monster High was out, the 10/10/10 Bratz were out (and the qc was horrible), Fashionistas were fully jointed and included 2 fully articulated Kens, we still had good quality Moxie girlz (I really like the old Moxie girlz, they were really well made okay?), Moxie Teenz, Liv... I mean daaaamn...
my poor wallet was not happy with me lol.

Cleo and Deuce came with 2 pets, 2 stands and 2 individual diaries!
Deuce's stand was green, Cleo's was gold and the box was split down the middle in their signature colours.


Cleo's outfit never did much for me. it's a weird printed bandage bodysuit with a blue top thing over the top. She had a lot of bracelets, a neck bandage thing, a belt and a case thing that strapped to her leg and held what I assume was a phone.
She also had a handbag with a loop that could loop onto her belt as you can see here.
I think it was supposed to loop over her arm but it was a good way to keep the bag from getting lost lol.

She also had a metallic plastic headband that was quite fragile, ornate gold earrings and cute bandage effect boots.


Her hair annoyed a lot of collectors. In the art and animations it looked like thick blonde streaks but the actual doll got gold tinsel. Many felt blonde streaks would look nicer and the tinsel had a tendency to unravel to reveal the white thread inside it and generally just looked ratty fast.
it made brushing the hair quite difficult to do without damaging the tinsel stuff and a lot of collectors just plucked it out because it was annoying.

I hated it, but never tried to remove it.

Under the awful tinsel she had nice hair, except her fringe which was gelled to hell.

She had a pet snake.


Deuce had molded snake scale hair with a snake mohawk. He had a pierced upper ear and scales down one arm too.
His glasses were opaque, hiding his beautiful green snake eyes and arched eyebrows.

He had a pet rat.

His outfit was quite "skater" in feel. A wrist cuff, a chain necklace, a tank top with skull and er... cassette tape? with a sleeveless vest over the top and black trousers with abstract scale print. His shoes were slip ons with a white and black checkerboard pattern.
I don't know the name of this style of shoe okay?


Well now I had 4/6 of the dolls, I figured I should just get the others to complete the set and be done with it.

little did I know it would snowball.



Initially i'd dismissed Draculaura as being too "girly". She was just SO PINK and I really don't like pink.
but as time wore on I started to appreciate the irony of making the daughter of Dracula so dang girly and pink. It was quite funny really and her gothic lolita/victoriana look did kinda... appeal to me.

She was, like Frankie, packed 2 to a case (with Clawdeen and Lagoona 1 to a case of 6). However when I decided I wanted her, could I find her? HAH. it took weeks of harrassing both Argos' in town and stalking TRU to find her.

In the meantime I was plucking out of the tru assortments all the lagoonas and clawdeens i could find to send to people in the EU who still hadn't gotten ANY Monster High.
As they were shortpacked they were getting increasingly difficult to find for people, even within the UK.
I remember sending soooo many dolls to Italy and similar lol.
It felt nice to help out other collectors.
Even if digging through the assortments to resell was a bit naughty.

Finally I found a Draculaura and bought her. Her outfit was really nice. the top was a sort of shiny satin fabric with 2 pearly white buttons and fishnet sleeves. She then had a separate lace collar and a necklace over the top which I never worked out, it looks kinda like a star or a flower or something.

Her skirt was sinfully short, white satin with a netting trim and under that, fishnet footless tights.

Her boots were knee high and pink with hearts on them.
They were ROCK HARD and near impossible to remove without wrenching the doll's entire leg off at the knee.
Ever wondered why so many first wave Drac and Clawdeen's are missing a leg? THIS is why.
the shoes.
All of the shoes were really hard plastic but the boot style made them very very hard to get off. You had to heat them first or you risked actually destroying the doll in the process.
this is something Mattel also fixed, eventually. it took them quite a while to remedy this particular issue though.

I suppose they didn't expect people to redress the dolls. Which is odd given they sold fashion packs for them (they were sports outfits though which was pretty dull)

Drac also had a pink handbag, a pink stand and a ridiculous angry pet bat in a sweater.

Her earrings were simple white safety pins and these were a pain to get in and out as well. All the earrings were. the pegs were REALLY long but also really hard and a bit too big for the holes, so they took quite a lot of force to actually get into the ear hole again.
this meant a lot of these broke too, especially the dangly style ones.

New year came, 2011 was upon us, and Mattel released their new Monster High. A budget line of swimwear dolls called Gloom Beach, which featured a new boy character named Jackson and two new signature dolls. A boy, Holt, and Ghoulia.


And so began my search.

New catalogue day for Argos was Jan 22nd 2011. I got lucky in finding not just Jackson but Holt too. That said, i DID go to 4 different Argos stores across 2 cities.

Back then the search for new dolls was really exciting, and new catalogue day was a real event. They would have new stock in, rather than it being "due in soonish.. maybe" and they actually had a huge toy section. Now they have literally 1 page for dolls, it used to be about 8 pages.
So depressing.

Holt was for the longest time the only boy to get a single signature case release. He's the only boy to get two signature releases. Case A and Case B contained him. He was 1 to a case, but his case B ones are slightly different to his case A. Case A, which was released in Jan 2011 he had matte lips, case B which hit some time around March/April had shiny blue lips that made him look like he was wearing lipstick.

Now at this point, unless you'd read the non canonical and terrible novel tie in (which is terrible and not at all linked to the mh universe, I don't recommend it), you'd have really no clue who Holt or Jackson really were, especially not that they're the same person. Both are very briefly mentioned in Draculaura's diary as her next door neighbor (Jackson) and some DJ she meets who seems to know her at a party (Holt)
Deuce also mentioned Jackson as this Normie kid he meets who can play really good casketball and lends him his shades when Deuce's get broken during a game. 

All the diaries at this point were set before the first day of school, in the last 2 weeks of summer.

So it was kinda weird that Jackson, the character mentioned more got the slim box release while Holt, who appears so briefly with no explanation of who or what he is got a full signature doll.
Even weirder, it would be several YEARS before Jackson got a proper signature look and doll.

Because Jackson was a budget release he got no diary, but his box art DID feature Holt as Jackson's shadow, which I always thought was cool.

The little postcards they came with were addressed to friends. Jackson's was addressed to Deuce, who was listed as his BFF.

Holt's diary is frankly... really really weird. You find out next to nothing about him, he goes on.. and on.. and on about everyone else's parents.
Seriously if you can find it online, read it, it's a very strangely written diary.
Nothing like any of the others in the franchise.

Anyway,

Clawdeen was the last of the first wave signatures I needed. I left her till last because she at the time just... didn't do it for me.
She just had wolf ears, nothing else about her was wolfy and I felt that was kinda boring. Also I hated her shirt. This ugly peachy pink tanktop with a weird frill thing? It went with nothing and just was jarring and weird.

But she did have pretty auburn hair... and her skirt was gorgeous and her boots were cool.

It's funny because when Monster High first came out Clawdeen and Cleo were the dolls I liked least.
Now, Clawdeen is the doll I have the most examples of and I can't get enough of her.
Go figure.


I gave her a Bratz "Vamp" shirt becuase I thought it was funny.
The jackets are also Bratz (10/10/10 party yasmin I think)

She's really wall eyed. This was a big problem for the first wave dolls, a lot of them had quite oddly wide set eyes which made them look a bit... weird.
They also all had very similarly shaped eyes and brows, something that was changed after a while to give each doll not only a unique sculpt as they had originally, but a unique expression and "look" to the way they were painted too.

Take a look at the way they paint Clawdeen's eyes for instance compared to Draculaura's, or Frankie's. They paint them different shapes now, well.. before the reboot.

Anyway,

It's also worth noting that first wave Clawdeen had normal human hands. No claws. the claws were introduced in Gloom Beach and later cases of signature dolls had the clawed hand version seeded in.

Clawdeen's outfit had a pair of pinky peachy fishnet socks, knee high purple and black buckled up booty sandal things, a very very scandalously short purple skirt with netting underneath that showed off her butt (it was SO SHORT), a pinky peachy halter neck top that did up with a ribbon at the back of the neck and a jersy jacket with fur trim.
She also had two necklaces, a collar and a pendent, 2 gold hoops in each ear too and a very soft vinyl belt with gold studs.

She kinda showed off both her belly and her butt in that outfit lol. I always felt this outfit was very "Bratz" inspired.
It was exactly the sort of revealing thing Bratz used to wear before the 2010 grey knit legging obsession started (lol, the grey knit leggings omg)

She had a pet cat, which I always found amusing.

She also had a handbag. It was purple and black with zippers.


Jackson and Holt share a face mold, which makes sense given they're the same person. They also both have a hidden yin/yang tattoo on their backs.
How a 16 year old gets a tat, well.. who knows. I like to think it was Holt and Jackson woke up in the morning all "why does my back hurt so much?"

Interestingly, in the original diary for Holt his trigger to shift isn't music, it's night time. He laments he's never seen the sun and has to attend night school due to an unspecified "condition" his parents are really cagey about.

Actually he doesn't mention parents, just  his mother.
Which is weird.

Holt was a very odd doll to be fair. I mean, he's bright blue and he's dressed like Michael Jackson. In terms of boy dolls, he's a weird choice for the first single box release doll.
He didn't sell too well either, mostly because 1: he has seriously questionable dress sense and 2: nobody knew who the hell he was. See, with the other characters they'd been introduced more completely in the diaries and webisodes but Jackson and Holt didn't make their animated appearance for years!

Strange strange strange.

Holt's stand btw, is bright orange.
Jackson's was black like all of Gloom Beach.

Holt had a really complicated outfit. Stripey purple pants, a yellow belt with a yin yang, a white and black tank top split down the middle, a red plether jacket very reminiscent of the thriller music video, ugly as sin yellow and black high tops, a pair of headphones, a thumb ring!?? and even an eyebrow piercing.

The original mh boys didn't have articulated wrists. It was really annoying actually, it limited their posing.

Holt's hair was also cool, there was some sort of metallic stuff inside the clear plastic so it shimmers ever so slightly.
The flame effect is really quite creative.

He also came with a bag that was worn across the body like a satchel or something? It looks like a deck, there's dials and turntables on it. It opens up too. 

Jackson likewise had the eyebrow piercing and tattoo but no thumb ring.

His hair was blonde and black and kinda shaggy.

his outfit was a pair of swim shorts with lots of patches on, flip flops and a yellow shirt with stripes.

He came with a pair of orange shutter glasses, which interestingly always felt more like Holt's style than Jackson's. 

Both these boys really like their clashing patterns huh?


Another interesting little tidbit Mattel seemed to forget pretty rapidly was that in the original diaries Draculaura was being set up as the love interest for these two.
Jackson in fact begged her in her diary to turn him into a vampire so he wouldn't be a freak at school as the only normie. She refused.
She thinks Jackson is "cute" and similarly thinks Holt's kinda hot despite being super weirded out that he knows her but neither of them remember ever actually meeting.

Gloom Beach was a line I didn't intend to get many dolls of, but I ended up with 3. Jackson, Draculaura and Frankie.

The two girls were too cute to pass up and they were only £9:99!

They came with stands and postcards and a little accessory. Clawdeen had a frisbee, Jackson had a ball, Frankie had a bag and Draculaura, hilariously, had a bottle of SPF 5000 sunscreen.
Cleo also got a doll but I can't remember what her accessory was. I always felt her Gloom beach outfit was a bit er... inappropriate for a girl her age.
I remember at the time expressing this "I wouldn't let MY 16 year old daughter wear something that revealing!" and getting my head bitten off by a few other fans. Oops.

Seriously though, it IS a really revealing swimsuit. I wonder if that's why she didn't get a rerelease gloom beach doll while the others did.
Her outfit was too controversial lol.

I was still searching for Ghoulia, then I would have the signature dolls of each character.


I searched and searched and searched for MONTHS.
It was late March when I finally found her.
I had been trying every Argos and Tru in town since January, and I decided to check the huge Tescos supermarket a little further across the retail park (okay a good 10-15 minute hike across the retail park) and lo and behold, amongst shelves and shelves of random stuff, GHOULIA! they had two Holts as well.
random.

I remember texting my partner. "I FOUND HER!" with a photo of her in the tesco bag as I walked back across the car park lol.

Oh she was just everything.

She's still one of my favourite monster high dolls.

She has soft blue hair streaked with some brighter bits, huge white horn rimmed glasses, a green plastic headband, pink safetypin earrings that are identical to Draculaura's, just pink (why pink?), a blood drop? necklace and a complex multi piece red outfit.

it features a red, white and black striped sleeved leotard, fishnet gloves/sleeves, a cherry print vest (which is separate from the bodysuit), a piano key belt similar to Deuce's, 3/4 length red spotty pants and high black and white sneaker style boots. Like Clawdeen and Draculaura, her boots are really really hard to remove, they aren't quite as bad as Drac's, Drac's boots are spectacularly difficult to get off.

Her style I would call sort of Rockabilly inspired, and in fact a lot of her dolls had a distinctly 50s sort of look to them right up till Operetta was released and they realised they had two characters with the same colour palette (red and black) and the same style. Oops.

She also had a pet owl that could perch on her arm. Her stand was red.

Her bag was on a ribbon, unlike any of the other bags and was a giant cassette tape.

I love owls, I love zombies, I love Ghoulia.



Now mid 2011 in the US another line had been released. Dawn of the Dance.

this wasn't a line the UK saw, which sucked.

I really wanted neon haired Clawdeen because she had neon green hair and purple lips! COME ON! I had to import a used one.
Sadly she was quite badly wonky and I ended up selling her eventually and buying a replacement with a better face.
Neither of them have ever had the correct metalised plastic shoes.

She looks better in signature's strappy boots anyway I think.

What I always found impressive about Clawdeen, along with her ever changing hair styles and colours, was that the designers never forgot the one cardinal rule with her. NO SILVER, ever.
Even when she got a doll where every other character got silver metalised jewellery, she always got gold.
I love that attention to detail.

sadly the first wave of Dawn of the Dance, despite being amaaazing, never made it to UK shores.

We did however get the second wave.
Wierdly.

But we'll talk about those next time, when we recap Monster High, 2011 season.

the 2010 season, which extended into the first half of 2011 in the UK gave us 3 lines. Signature, Gloom Beach and Dawn of the Dance.
It worked out about 17 dolls for the season.

7 signatures
1 two pack
3 "deluxe" dolls
5 "budget" dolls.

9 characters were introduced this year.

  • Cleo
  • Deuce
  • Clawdeen
  • Frankie
  • Lagoona
  • Draculaura
  • Jackson
  • Holt
  • Ghoulia

We also got Monster High plushies


How freaking cute are these!??

They were £10:99 and dang I wish i'd gotten more.

Frankie here doesn't actually belong to me. She was bought for my eldest son, who was about 4 at the time and wanted a dolly of his own.
He clutched her all the way home, d'aaaw.


SO CUTE and cuddly!

Seriously, I want more of these.

They released all 6 original characters in this format in 2010-11 and what was adorable is that the boxes were written from their PET'S perspective, which was quite adorably funny.

So that's year 1.

What a brilliant year.

2 comments:

  1. I'm just going to cry. I don't know what to say. I really wish I could get that Ghoulia (which, BTW, doesn't belong to the same period as Operetta).

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  2. OMG, YES! I remember really wanting Holt because he was blue, and never finding him. I hated that they made the guys so hard to get. I remember the hype and the excitement, and how awesome the dolls were. I still have most of my collection. I'm loving your recap!

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