Over the past few days we've discussed both the aesthetic impressiveness of Monster High as well as the quality of the toys themselves. Today I'd like to wrap up by looking at both of these qualities in one doll- Jinafire Long, the golden dragon from Fanghai (If you haven't noticed already, puns abound in the Monster High universe!)
Like Skelita, Jinafire is an absolutely GORGEOUS toy. You know that feeling when you pick up a toy and the colors on the box art are way brighter and accurate than what's in the box? I've noticed that a lot lately with Transformers. Constructicons may be a wonderfully garish neon green on the box, but the toy inside is more likely to be a muddy pea-soup or olive drab. Not here! Jinafire's colors are some of the nicest, brightest, and most dynamic I've ever seen on any toy. The Greens, reds, purple and gleaming gold of her scales just seem to radiate their own light.
Being from Fanghai, Jinafire has lots of Chinese influences to her design. Her dress in particular is fantastic! Remember that incredible scene from Skyfall where James Bond and the assassin Patrice fight in front of the glowing neon of the Shanghai skyline?
Jinafire's dress captures the feel of that iconic Shanghai...Fanghai, that is, neon against a night sky. Being a dragon, the pattern is overlapping red and blue flames and she has an asymmetrical, sheer half skirt and sleeve with a red and blue scale pattern.
Check out that profile! Jinafire's earrings are red Chinese knots and she has a gold belt made up of beads and a golden coin with the Monster High skull logo. She has a hair stick with a big, flashy Chinese chrysanthemum on top along with flame details to either side. Her makeup is awesome! She has green eyes with reptile-looking irises and fantastic purple makeup and extra-long lashes. Despite the heavy makeup, Jinafire has an adorable, cherubic, sweet face. She's totally classy and fabulous, but it's pretty obvious that she'd also love to be your best friend! And like many of the dolls, she has a unique head sculpt with pointy, ridged ears.
And then there's the hair. THAT WONDERFUL HAIR! The green and black color scheme is striking, but it looks even better up in a bun with little flips and parts here and there. It's a complicated updo that not only looks good, but it draws the eye all around her face and head, accentuating all the other great makeup and accessory details.
One of Jinafire's most unique features is her dragon tail. While it's not posable or bendable, it's got a great twisty shape and flared green frill at the bottom. Once again, I can't talk about her beautiful colors enough. Many times toys and accessories that are "gold" end up more of a dull yellow. But Jinafire SHINES. Her scales really look like metal and catch the light whatever way you turn her. The green fringe just pops right out of the gold!
Just about every Monster High doll has gloriously iconic and intricate shoe designs. I think that's one of the things Equestria Girls was really going for with the big-boots look of their dolls. Unfortunately, even without all that space to work, the EQ Girls footwear can't hold a candle to these designs. The ankle straps are Chinese knots, similar to Jinafire's earrings. The heel is a twisting, Dead Space looking gold terraces. The soles are awesome gold pillows with dragon claws holding them in place. These shoes are TO DIE FOR. These are like million dollar shoes in the really real world! And Jinafire, she works them!
As I mentioned yesterday Jinafire is part of the Scaris City of Frights line. As a world traveler she has a fancy, unique suitcase with a Chinese dragon motif and gold flames.
Even the back of the suitcase is unique! I would have expected it to be completely plain or at least a reverse-copy of the front. But nope! Once again, Monster High has that extra bit of detail.
Jinafire's outfit is really lovely and a bit complex. I've been curious about how detailed her body is underneath, but I had some concerns about taking off all the layers of clothes and getting them back on correctly. But since I spent a great deal of time talking about Skelita's nekkid details, it seems important to see whether this doll has scales in all the right place.
Sure enough, her entire body is detailed with scaled and lizard-y touches! Like Skelita, I almost don't want to keep clothes on Jinafire because she looks just amazing as an au-unnatural dragon lady!
I'd like to talk for a minute, again, about the sheer volume of detail and extra work/expense that Mattel puts into these dolls. Jinafire's outfit is pretty form-fitting and covers her entire trunk, neck, and a good portion of her left arm. It would have been so easy to have a standard, unadorned body underneath the clothing. Most collectors wouldn't even notice as there are no plans to release alternate outfits for Jinafire. Kids would notice since the first thing a little girl does is strip down their doll and try and put some other doll's clothes on her! But not only do her scales follow the same pattern, but she has really beautiful plate scales on her belly and chest.
Jinafire is a doll for whom every part is custom made. From her dragon scaled arms, legs, and torso, to her head scuplt and ears, to even her hands which are beautifully lithe and clawed. There are no half-measures with this doll. She is beautiful enough and detailed enough to be a far more expensive collectors or limited edition doll. Instead, she's around $19 US just the same as Skelita and the other Scaris line of dolls.
The hardest part about this little project was narrowing down my reviews to three dolls. Every single Monster High toy I have purchased, $10 to $60 has been an incomparable value. The craftsmanship of the design, the color theory behind the characters and the individual dolls, the individuality of each toy and quality of the materials are unlike any major retail toy I've purchased in recent years. While other toys and toy companies are cutting corners Mattel and Monster High are actually raising the bar on the quality and artistic value of toys- ESPECIALLY girl's toys.
As I mentioned at the beginning of both this journal and this series of journals, my goal has been to show that Equestria Girls, as a toy line, was not inherently doomed. There are two great appeals of Friendship is Magic- the wonderfully-defined, interesting, and even flawed characters and personalities that inhabit Equestria AND the wonderfully talented team of artists, composers, actors, cast and crew at DHX. Unfortunately, the Equestria Girls dolls don't capture any of that magic. The designs, while colorful, don't take advantage of the individuality or themes of the show, the personalities or the traits that make a group of cartoon horses without hands feet or clothing so memorable and remarkable. When I would take part in discussions about Equestria Girls, with fellow pastel pony aficionados (Thanks for the awesome term, Cat!) and Monster High would come up, the comparison was either negative or completely unaware of what MH is. In reading my little reviews and learning a bit about Monster High, I hope more folks are enlightened as to what Monster High IS NOT. It's not empty or vapid. It's not cheap or condescending towards girls or women's self image. It's not Bratz. It's not Equestria Girls. Monster High is revolutionary and fun and represents a trend that I hope more dolls and more toys will learn from and follow.
Thank you SO MUCH, dear reader, for sticking with me and offering your thoughts, comments and opinions. I would definitely like to keep this series going, but on more of a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Bronycon is just about a month away and these photo-shoots and write-ups take time- time I'm rapidly running out of!
Let me know if there's any other topics, specific dolls, or suggestions on what to cover in the future. Thanks for being such a great audience and for encouraging my crazy-obsessive toy habits! <3
Take care everyone!