Monday, September 3, 2012

Walk Like An Egyptian: Cleo De Nile Character Spotlight

I love Cleo De Nile. When I became aware of the Monster High dolls Lagoona was the one that first grabbed my attention. But Gloom Beach Cleo was the first MH doll I owned (still a great doll, by the way). And when I started watching the webisodes it was Cleo who immediately stood out to me.

Image: Mattel

This is the first in a series of character spotlights, in which I take a closer look at each ghoul individually, covering their monster inspiration, web series presence, and, of course, their dolls. When I brought the idea for this series up over at Monster High Dolls, Cleo was the first character mentioned as a good candidate to be highlighted, and I couldn't agree more. Cleo De Nile is the daughter of The Mummy. The most obvious reference point is Universal's classic film The Mummy, featuring the titular character portrayed by Hollywood legend Boris Karloff.

Images: Universal Pictures

Of course, Cleo's name directly references Cleopatra, the ancient Egyptian pharaoh who was also worshiped as a goddess. Another classic Hollywood film, Cleopatra, starring the late, great Elizabeth Taylor in a truly iconic performance, also seems to have influenced the character of Cleo De Nile. Her last name is a play on the Nile River (the longest river in the world, by the way) that runs through Egypt; Cleopatra herself gained much notoriety for the elaborate barges she would use to traverse the Nile. And she always did it in style.

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. Images: 20th Century Fox

Of all the characters, Cleo is the least "monstrous" -- her skin is a human tan color, she has no signifying monster details on her body, and she doesn't seem to possess any inborn monster abilities. She does use amulets and incantations to create "magic", but these are outward forces she likely picked up in ancient Egypt (in her bio it is stated she is 5,842 years old). The only real connection she has, physically at least, to her mummy ancestry in that her clothes always feature a wrap detailing of some sort. Her style seems to align much more with Cleopatra, but in a modernized way. She wears elaborate jewelry and shoes that are vaguely reminiscent of her namesake. Her hair, whether it's long or short, has a similar silhouette to Cleopatra, as well. And lastly, we are told she is royalty, another analogue to the real Cleopatra.

Image: Mattel

The character of Cleo De Nile is a cornerstone of the web series. She is the captain of the ever-present Fearleading Squad, the most popular girl in school, and a natural leader. Cleo is given many of the series' funniest lines and seems to be the most prominent comic relief character (along with Abbey and Draculaura). She also gets the most amount of screen time in the show after Frankie, so if Frankie is the main character, Cleo is right behind her. With the introduction of Nefera De Nile, Cleo's villainous older sister, we got to see another dynamic to Cleo's personality -- the sister who must live up to an older sibling. This added another dimension to her character, and went a long way in making her more relatable. Cleo adds a lot to the show, and to the world of Monster High in general. It wouldn't be the same without her.

Royalty. Image: Mattel

Initially she filled the role of the "villain", causing the other core girls much grief. But as the MH universe expanded other characters were brought in to play the antagonists to the girls. From that point on Cleo was written as a true friend to the other girls. In the web series Cleo is a petulant, melodramatic, drama queen. Despite this, she is very likable. Although her flair for drama can cause her to get down on herself, with a little help from her friends she always comes back around, and is ultimately the one who takes the lead to handle whatever problem is at hand. Thanks to her flawless style and moxie Cleo is an influential girl at Monster High; combined with her ability to make things happen (thanks to her family's wealth) this makes Cleo a strong contender to have in your corner. One of the most endearing things about Cleo is that, despite being a bit bossy and demanding, she never asks those around her to work any harder than she does. Cleo likes to succeed, and she understands this takes hard work. Nor is she selfish with her family's money. She loves her friends and likes to lavish them with things she knows they'll enjoy. She may be a diva through and through, but she's a diva with a heart of gold. Have I mentioned I love Cleo? Because I really do, a lot!

2.0 Basic Cleo

Dead Tired Cleo. Both images: Mattel

Unfortunately, Cleo sits alongside Lagoona Blue as the core character with the least amount of dolls released to date. This really disappoints me because, in my opinion, Cleo's dolls are always gorgeous and among my favorites of any of the characters. She's had eight dolls released to date.

Dawn of the Dance Cleo

Gloom Beach Cleo. Both images: Mattel

Cleo's dolls have striking green eyes, usually with a bit of yellow and grey mixed in as well. Her makeup directly references Cleopatra, with mascara that comes to a sharp two-pronged point at the edge of each eye. With one exception (Dead Tired), Cleo always has bangs. Sometimes her hair is long and other times it's shoulder length. It's always dark brown with tinsel rooted throughout (except for her Skull Shores doll). Cleo's most recent dolls have had prominent amounts of turquoise in the hair. I like this look for Cleo quite a bit. It really stands out from the other character dolls, not to mention it looks quite chic. I don't know if Mattel has pulled back the amount of Cleo releases to make room for newer character dolls like Abbey and Operetta within the themed lines, but I hope she starts popping back up more in the lines soon.

Ghouls Rule Cleo

Skull Shores Cleo. Both images: yours truly

And that's Cleo De Nile! Let me know what you think! Do love Cleo, too? What are your favorite versions of her? Have we seen too much or her, or not enough?


  1. Cleo is my very favourite character. I prefer all those short hair versions of her. Ghouls rule<3

  2. Make. More. Cleo. MATTEL!
    Seriously, I love this ghoul. She's so stylish and beautiful.
    Not to mention, she is the best character (IMO). True, she has flaws, but they make her more realistic. But her vanity & dramaticism are balanced with her leadership skills & generosity.
    There's a big difference between Cleo in 'New Ghoul @ School' & 'Scaris: City of Frights'.
    I also love how the MH writers made her BFF & boyfriend the smart girl & the rebel instead of making her the typical Queen B with a couple of clone-groupies.
    Love what she did for Ghoulia in 'Daydream of the Dead', so sweet! And while she has her issues with Deuce, at least she forgives him. Actually, I'd love to see some more character development between the two.

    By the way, you said Cleo doesn't have any 'inborn monster abilities'; she actually has the ability to charm snakes. Apparently she uses it to control Hissette, but she has sworn never to use it to manipulate Deuce. (school's out diary)
    Just thought I'd point that out. :)

    Obviously, Cleo is a parseltongue!

    1. I'm a big ol' Cleo fanboy so I'm right there with you. I feel that since she started out as the original "villain" in a way, that we got to see several facets of her personality, more than we have of the other core characters. It's really made her a more developed and well-rounded character than the others. I hadn't thought of the snake charming as being inborn, but yeah, it makes sense that it would be. It says a lot about her that she could easily control Deuce but doesn't. Cleo's definitely one cool chick! :D

      LOL at the gif!