Yesterday I touched upon the idea that the real failing of Equestria Girls, at least insofar as the toyline, is that it is geared towards one specific goal- getting a piece of the monster-sized success of Monster High while ignoring the details that have made MH so successful.
With the next few installments, I want to look at these details, and how they relate to making the individual dolls so excellent and the line so successful. First up- theming and attention to detail, both of which are, in my opinion, the keys to Monster High's success and factors which set them apart from most every other toy on the market.
Each MH doll is a character with not only a distinct, canon personality, but is also based on a monster or fictional creature from folklore or horror films. My example today happens to be not only my favorite character, but also represents my favorite monster as well. Meet Ghoulia Yelps, the zombie and smartest ghoul in school:
In the Monster High web series and direct-to-disk movies, Ghoulia is a pretty traditional zombie- she shambles, her mouth hangs open, her eyes don't quite line up and she only speaks zombie, which consists primarily of moans, grunts and the odd "Send....more...para-medics...." (I may be lying about that last part, even though it would be awesome!) But she also happens to be the nicest of the main 6 (In this case, Ghoulia, Frankie Stein, Clawdeen Wolf, Cleo de Nile, Lagoona Blue, and Draculaura) a tremendous nerd with oversized hipster glasses who plays pen and paper RPGs and attends Comicon dressed as her favorite character Dead Fast. Oh, and did I mention she really does have brains? I mean, LOTS of brains as she happens to be a super-genius!
SUPER. GENIUS. Ghoulia is just pure awesome.
Getting back to the concept of theming, Monster High does a tremendous job of taking the details of the characters, in this case Ghoulia being a zombie, a geek, and a bit of a goth/rockabilly, and focusing on these details with every outfit and accessory that goes into the doll's package.
Every version of Ghoulia is very specifically a Ghoulia. Every outfit is customized to reflect her undead lineage and personality. At the same time, each version is completely different from the others. The specific doll I want to look at today is actually one of the cheapest, in terms of price, versions on the market- Skull Shores bathing suit Ghoulia. We'll look at even this value-priced doll that you can pick up for around $10 US has oodles of personality and attention to detail. So, without further ado,
As you can see, the usual Ghoulia elements are in place. Grey zombie flesh, blue hair in a retro style, oversized glasses, and rockabilly style. My only real complaint is that Ghoulia the doll is much less slouchy and mouth gape-y than her cartoon incarnation. On the upside, her hands and wrists are made for zombie poses and her knees and legs always seem to fall perfectly into a slightly awkward, shambling position, even when wearing heels!
What I really want to focus on is the amount of detail and consistency of theme goes into her outfit and accessories.
Starting with her clothes, Ghoulia's bathing suit is fittingly retro, with red fringe that simultaneously looks like a 1950s ruffle and dripping blood. The suit itself has a pattern of what looks like retro polka-dots, but when you look closer turn out to be blobs of toxic green Trioxin 245 splats! Perfectly zombie! The skirt/sarong wrap that goes around her suit has a lovely pattern that, again, upon closer inspection is- BRAINS! BRAAAAINS!
Ghoulia's shoes continue the trend of "Oh how pretty...wait a second, is that..?" At first glance they seem to be jelly-style high-heeled flip-flops...which they are. But they ALSO are made to look like dripping, coagulating blood! I would also like to note that while many characters have shoes that call attention to shapely legs or, again, reflect on their personal style (Cleo's shoes tend to be sandals with Egyptian themes, Draculaura loves Gothic Lolita-style mary janes and patent leather,) Ghoulia's always seem a bit awkward on her and pull her legs into a bit more of a knock-kneed position, which is absolutely adorkable and once again perfectly in line with the theme of the character.
Even tiny details like jewelry receive plenty of attention to detail. Gholia's fifties hair flip is held back with a tasteful bow...made out of brain tissue! Her oversized sunglasses are both hipster-big AND resemble steampunk-ish aviator goggles. Except in zombie neon green, naturally. Her earrings are different in each lobe. On the left side we have a skeletal torso...
While on the right it's another glob of red brain tissue. Her dripping bracelet matches her bloody shoes.
All of this represents a ton of design, thought, and consideration put into a $10 fashion doll. Which brings me to what I see as the biggest problem with the Equestria Girls dolls. Here you have iconic characters, each of the mane six being a unique, developed, and beloved personality with plenty of quirks, interests and eccentricities. Taking all this into consideration there is SO MUCH you could do to bring the dolls to life. Instead...well, just look at poor Rainbow Dash.
I know...I'm sorry. But we must.
Long, flowing hair and barrettes? Tons of makeup? Skirt? High heeled tennis shoes? Hair EXTENSIONS? What about this says Rainbow Dash? I mean...I guess there's a rainbow on her dress, so, points for getting that much right, but honestly, what about this doll reflects the character of Rainbow Dash or her personality as a strong-willed, athletic, competitive tomboy? I understand that these are fashion dolls meant to appeal to little girls, but it can be done without the generic, bedazzled approach of the Equestria Girls toys. Take a look at Physical Deaducation Ghoulia-
Tennis shoes! Shorts! Tee shirt! A bowling ball! And all of it while preserving the nerdy, awkward vibe of the character. That's what Monster High does so very very very well. The people behind the designs understand the characters, who they are, and are committed to creating unique, fun, artistic and intelligent designs. The Monster High motto is "Be Yourself, Be Unique, Be a Monster" and it shows in ever single doll and accessory at every price point.
Today I went over the wonderful amount of detail in the character's clothing and accessories and the importance of personality to the toy's design. Tomorrow we'll cover that a bit more AND look at the awesomely high quality and commitment to variety of the dolls themselves!
Thanks for reading! As always, if you prefer your long-winded rants about toys in Tumblr form, check out my updates over there! Otherwise, see you tomorrow with more Monster High-jinx!