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June 25, 2013
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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!

GhouliaCartoon by PixelKitties

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. 

GhuliaGroup by PixelKitties

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,

Mh 002 Sm by PixelKitties

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. 
Mh 003 Sm by PixelKitties

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!

Mh 004 Sm by PixelKitties

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. 

Mh 005 Sm by PixelKitties

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...

Mh 006 Sm by PixelKitties

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. 
RDDoll by PixelKitties

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- 

physDeadGhoulia by PixelKitties

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

 
Add a Comment:
 
:iconhorsesplease:
HorsesPlease Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
After reading this, I kinda felt like laughing at Hasbro:

Trying to rip-off a well-developed toy franchise by making a cheap, poorly-made, and awful rip-off.

AHAHAHA!
Reply
:iconpupshackle:
pupshackle Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I'm glad you wrote this, it gave me insight to the toy line I never had before, as an avid collector of all things unique and weird I would never have taken a better look at this 'girl toy' but now next time I go to a story I need to really take a look at them and see the incredible details you mentioned.
Reply
:iconpupshackle:
pupshackle Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I mean go to a store, lol, mistype!
Reply
:iconroxyfett007:
RoxyFett007 Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
this is really interesting, and you've only made me like monster high even more than xD
ghoulia is one of my favorite characters in the series. i love how she pretty much doesn't take crap from anyone, like toralei or anyone else making fun of her or zombies. cleo might be the exception though, but i feel that's only because they are such close friends. and cleo does treat her right like a good friend, like when she got her dead fast issue #1 xD
Reply
:iconmushroomjardin:
mushroomjardin Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013
Wow, that's a huge disparity... the mh dolls are pretty cool really, and the eqg dolls absolutely freaky besides being not unique
Reply
:iconkatlyon:
Katlyon Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2013  Student General Artist
I was working one day and found one of the Monster High Dolls that had been opened/damaged and had to be sent back. I took a second to read the back of it and I actually found myself genuinely interested. I'm not and have never been a doll type girl, but after reading the description on the back of that one - she was a Gargoyles daughter, I think - and seeing that there was a dragon one...Can we send these back about ten, twelve years? Kid me would die happy.

Anyway, good and solid points, especially poor Rainbow. Even just watching the movie  I found it hard to believe that Applejack, who works hard on a farm; Rainbow, who's stated as the captain of "like, every sports team;" and poor, shy Fluttershy all wore skirts as short as they did. I could see Flutters in a skirt on a day-to-day basis, but as shy as she is she'd probably wear a bit longer of one. 
Reply
:iconrocketslugrockscp:
rocketslugrockscp Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You do make a good point, especially when comparing the two dolls.

I've loved Monster High for a while. I might just invest in some MH dolls, as well as EQG dolls to maybe customize (they look more like Bratz dolls as opposed to their cartoony forms from the movie and cartoon!).
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:iconopus-13:
opus-13 Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013
Finally getting around to reading your comparison! Loving it so far. As a guy, I've never really been into dolls, so it's pretty cool to finally learn about Monster High and what it's all about. Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading the other two parts. ^_^
Reply
:iconqueerkitsune:
QueerKitsune Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I love Ghoulia! Scaris Ghoulia became my first doll solely because the pocket on her dress has a brain design.
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
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:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Ghoulia is so awesome! Pretty much any Ghoulia doll is an instant-buy for me!
Reply
:iconggod:
GGod Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013
The EqG dolls already look bad.

But when you painstakingly dissect their (many) flaws in comparison to the brand they were specifically created to draw customers from, wow.
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
There are definitely WORSE looking dolls on the market. The Equestria Girls toys have bright colors and aren't really ugly. But they also don't represent the diversity, fun and unique characters of My Little Pony. They could have done so much to make these toys worthwhile, but in the end, they're just kind of blah...
Reply
:iconanzul:
anzul Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Student General Artist
"Her dripping bracelet matches her bloody shoes"
read it in british voice.

a nice read, thanks P-Kitties.
and wasnt she green whit monochrome hair? or is that another character?

also, i saw bits of the 3d movie, it is funy!
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:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
LOL I didn't think of the Brit connection, but that works really well!

The character you're thinking of is Frankie Stein, who is another awesome character and toy! I especially love the version of her that lights up and shows her skeleton through her flesh and clothes.

I still need to get caught up on most of the MH movies!
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:iconanzul:
anzul Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2013  Student General Artist
wow, they do go far whit those dolls

mattel must realy OWN the doll market.
Reply
:iconkartoon12:
KarToon12 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's an army of Ghoulias! :XD:
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:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
There are never too many Ghoulias! =D
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:iconpj202718:
pj202718 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013
This is why the EqG will be nothing more than a curiosity. The designers never troubled themselves to actually think out what would suit the character's personality and interests at all. Anyone with two clues to rub together would have sat down, watched the series and asked himself 'How do I send the message that this is the same not-nearly-as-confident-as-she-seems athletic type we see on the show?,
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:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I'm sure the designers were under the same kind of limitations that the folks at DHX faced. Hasbro is the boss and I'm sure they wanted specific things based on what retailers want in girl's toys. Not to mention, toys are getting more expensive to manufacture and I have no doubt they wanted to produce the Equestria Girls line as cheaply and cost-effectively as possible.

That said, I wish they had really pushed the great personalities and particularities of the MLP characters we all know and love.
Reply
:iconender1200:
ender1200 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013
So in other words the toy makers have less artistic license than the writers of the show? (though the writers have quite a lot of it) This is bad business when you try to branch into a new line. The first designs are the ones that need to wow everyone into noticing you.
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:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I'm sure the toy designers do have much, MUCH less artistic license. Not only are they dealing with the whims of the manufacturer, in this case Hasbro, but also retailers and distributors who call many of the shots in terms of presentation and packaging. Then you've got issues of production costs, material costs, and the need to create expensive dies and molds for new, custom toy parts. It all comes down to many toy designers having their hands tied before even beginning to create a new toy.
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:iconpj202718:
pj202718 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013
Same here. Too bad that they have only the vaguest idea of what the series is about.
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:iconlightanimaux:
LightAnimaux Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Eww, that Rainbow Dash doll is ugly o_o
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I wouldn't even say she's ugly. The doll itself is pretty in terms of her shape and color scheme. But she sure as heck doesn't look like Rainbow Dash, or any kind of sporty tomboy, for that matter.
Reply
:iconestrellacorazon:
EstrellaCorazon Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That Rainbow Dash doll looks sooooo 1990s in comparison to Ghoulia.
Great commentary. I really want one of these dolls now!
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks so much! Definitely check out the MH dolls! They're lots of fun and totally affordable!
Reply
:iconbluepaws21:
bluepaws21 Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
makes me wonder who the heck they hire to make these toys... it also reminds me of the pony toys themselves, the G1 ponies had cutie marks on both sides of the toy! now they just put it on one side, it makes me sad.
wish you could work for the company that makes them...you know your stuff!
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I agree! I really want a return to cutie-marks on both size, dangit!
Reply
:icontwotigermoon:
TwoTigerMoon Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I've really been enjoying these series of journal entries. They are very informative and well thought out and bring up great points. Looking forward to reading more.
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you very much! I appreciate you reading and hope you'll stick around for more!
Reply
:iconwizardwannabe:
WizardWannabe Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013
Huh, I never noticed how much of a higher quality those MH dolls are, and cheaper too. What the hell is Hasbro doing?
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
They're trying to cash in with as little manufacturing output as possible. That, and playing it way too safe in terms of making the designs bland and (In the case of Dash, AJ, Twilight, etc) way too girly.
Reply
:iconwizardwannabe:
WizardWannabe Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013
Hm, I guess that sums it up doesn't it. So they want to compete with Mattel but do it with the least amount of effort necessary. Not the best idea they've had. Genuinely baffling.
Reply
:iconcrystalitar:
Crystalitar Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
heck, the dresses rarity makes in fim are better then the EQG clothes D:
Reply
:iconcrystalitar:
Crystalitar Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
yeah agreed, i hoped some were different in clothing, but i guess hasbro is only focused on cute aspects, not detail
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:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Exactly. And not just the detail, but they lost things like posability, and the addition of cool accessories.
Reply
:iconcrystalitar:
Crystalitar Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
yeah indeed, heck i think pokemon X and Y even has more accesoiries available >.>
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:iconl4m3ness:
L4m3ness Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013
mh, it feels to me like the colors on the Equestria Girls clash so hard with each other, whereas the Monster High dolls are actually kind of pleasant to look at.. and then you add all the cool designed details.. mmh.. Even though I never saw Monster High (nor the dolls before this post), the dolls alone have a lot of character to them just.. by looking at them.
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
They really have a lot of neat details and you can tell a ton of work and thought went into producing each MH doll!
Reply
:iconane-h:
Ane-H Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013
Loved the read. I look forward to reading the rest. The Return of the Living Dead references were awesome too. :)
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:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks! I'm relieved somebody caught those!
Reply
:iconqueenofshinobi:
queenofshinobi Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013
Hmmm, I may have to start watching Monster High. I loved your in depth analysis on Ghoulia compared with the terrible Rainbow Dash doll.
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Be aware that the MH cartoons are not nearly as good or deep as My Little Pony. They're pretty specifically toy tie-ins. Don't get me wrong, they're fun with lots and lots of horror references, but not nearly as awesome as the toys themselves.
Reply
:icontamalesyatole:
tamalesyatole Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
If only the designs were a little bit more faithful to the movie... also, wouldn't 6 mane characters + the "bad girl" be too limiting?
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I must confess, bad toy designs or not, if they release a Trixie I will SO buy her!
Reply
:icondinokat:
dinokat Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I'd been meaning to check out the Monster High webisodes on YouTude, thanks for the reminder.

I've just had a fun hour and a half, with more to come. Definitely a fun series, and I do agree, Ghoulia is awesome.
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:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
The webisodes and movies are fun, and I love them, but they're also somewhat disposable. MH is definitely a line that puts quality first and the advertising potential of cartoons and tie-ins are a distant second.

That said, I love all the horror references that only fans of grown up, gory, scary movies would get! Wonderful stuff!
Reply
:iconvest:
vest Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013
I have a sister in law who works extensively at Mattel in the design and presentation of their material (she's on the distribution/marketing side), and she could tell you just how obsessed they are at maintaining a consistent personality with all of their properties. Many late nights fielding phone calls with a retailer complaining that a character's design just doesn't fit with their catalog, while the design department would counter that it MUST be that color and that pattern or their customers wouldn't be able to identify the character immediately.

"No, it must be medium-small polka dots, white on purple, nothing else!"

"But it would clash with all the pink and yellows of the other products on the page!"

"Then they wouldn't buy it because they wouldn't know it's that character because kids are fickle and sensitive to change!"

And so on back and forth for hours into the night. I credit Monster High for nailing down a rock solid personality and presentation for their characters in all fronts; toys, tv show, and marketing.

If I get a chance, I'll relay your words to my sis, let her know you appreciate her bouts of involuntary insomnia.
Reply
:iconpixelkitties:
PixelKitties Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Okay, your sister is pretty much my new hero! Please let her know how much fans love hers and Mattel's work on Monster High and commitment to cool, unique, and thematic designs!

My husband works in product development and until I met him I never realized how much retailers, or more specifically, retail distributors, drive the very design of products, from the way it works to the way it looks, to the color of the box it comes in. He's frequently frustrated by uninformed requests for minor changes that can result in huge costs and setbacks.

With Monster High, the truth is that the uniqueness of the toys- their look, attitude, design, playability, and packaging are the very thing that set them apart and make them appealing to kids (and certain adults with Deviant Art pages) When they first showed up, I remember looking down the pink aisle and seeing this chunk of black. My interest was automatically piqued!
Reply
:icongreen-bradshaw:
Green-Bradshaw Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
RD's now 120% un-cooler.
Reply
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