Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Frankie Stein - Scaris Deluxe

One of the best things about Monster High is that there is a wide range of styles of the dolls. Like big hair and elaborate, costume-y outfits? They got you covered. Or maybe you prefer youthful looking dolls that come in specifically themed clothes like pajamas or skating gear. They have those, too! For me, I think Monster High is at its' best when they strike somewhere in between, with dolls that have colorful faceups and nice clothes that aren't limited by a strong theme. My favorite MH dolls tend to have bright yet subtle faces, nice, silky hair that isn't overly elaborate, and clothes that seem closer to genuine fashion than anything too costume-y. Which brings me to the deluxe Frankie Stein Scaris doll.

Ever since she's hit shelves I've seen some positive responses to her but the overwhelming majority seem to find her boring, bland, unexciting. When it comes to Scaris Frankie, I think the key word is subtlety. And I think the things that others find boring or bland with this doll are the very things that make me love her. The subtle details -- the nods to vintage fashion, the simple but expressive face, the loose but sophisticated hairstyle. When I look at my Scaris Frankie doll these are all things I see and they're the reasons I love this doll so much.

Like the other Scaris dolls Frankie has a portion focusing on her at the bottom of the box back. Her booklet functions the same as Rochelle's; it's more of a scrapbook/travelogue. She doesn't have any diary entries like Clawdeen, Jinafire, and Skelita.

Frankie has a simple faceup. She has yellow eyeliner and silver eyeshadow. A thin strip of silver also runs under the eye. The eyeshadow is topped by a very light shimmer that goes to her brows. Her lips are a fairly muted shade of navy blue and are mildly glossy. That's it for the makeup, very simple. And yet there's something about her face that seems so expressive. Scaris Frankie looks almost melancholy to me, in that glamorous, jaded way. Very Parisian. I don't think it was a conscious decision by the Mattel design team. But by the same token I don't think I'm imagining it. Whatever the case, I find this Frankie's face to be truly stunning.

Her hair is, well, glorious. The black and white streaks are your standard Frankie fare. The top has been pulled into a flat ponytail, similar to her I Heart Fashion doll. It's layered and lands just above her rear. It has an amazing wave throughout, very lush. The texture is smooth and very silky. I bought this doll at Toys R Us and there were several Frankie's on hand to choose from. Many of them looked like they had bad hair -- I chose the best of the lot. If you've gotten a Scaris Frankie with bad hair I suggest you call Mattel about it -- chances are they'll send you a new one. Because if you get a Scaris Frankie with good hair, well, it's not good hair, it's fantastic hair. I have no problems brushing it, and thanks to the large wave there are several different ways to style it without putting a single product in it. Throw her sunglasses on her head and you have even more options. In terms of style I simply love this look for Frankie. As I like to say, it's styled but not overly so. Between this and her SRM doll, I think I just have a thing for Frankies with mid-length, wavy hair.

Her outfit is 1940's by way of the 80's. She wears an electric blue top with a black print of tiny Eiffel Tower silhouettes, nuts, and bolts. It has a loose collar that can be worn up or down and short sleeves trimmed in black. The front of the top drops lower than the back creating the look of an untucked shirt. The hem is lined in hot pink and travels up the center of the bodice where it splits at the collar. There is a cinch above the navel of black ribbon. Despite being cinched this top fits rather loosely. The colors make this very 80's, but the cut and fit are pure 40's. Suffice it to say I love this top; I find it kind of extraordinary to be honest. It's sophisticated and reads as genuine fashion. It's haute. It's paired with a white miniskirt with a diagonal electric blue print of stylized stitches. The bottom is hemmed with black thread. Both the top and skirt are made of a smooth, silky knit. The skirt fits much tighter than the top making for a nice visual contrast. It's a great look -- fashionable without being overly fussy; dramatic in it's own subtle way. The colors, the fabric, the cut, it all works extremely well.

Frankie wears tall, black platform boots with a yellow lightning bolt down each side. There's lots of molded detail going on here -- straps, stitches, buttons, and little electricity bursts. The heels are jagged lightning bolts. The platforms, texture, and fact that they're combined with this specific outfit give them a fetish-y vibe. It's tres cool and a shining example of the subversiveness Mattel manages to sneak into these dolls. Just don't tell the kids. Or the parents for that matter.

The only accessories Frankie wears are her earrings and sunglasses. That's it. No bracelet, no necklace, no belt. And you know what? She doesn't need them! The outfit works great as it is, why muss it up by throwing in too many accessories? It'd just make this chic ensemble look busy. Her earrings are mismatched -- a cascading string of electric blue nuts on one side, a bright yellow screw on the other. Her sunglasses are matching yellow. I like how they did the colors on this outfit. Although blue is the standout color it's not overpowering. It's anchored by the black sleeve hems, cinch, and boots. The yellow works perfectly as an accent because it only shows up on the sunglasses, earring, and sides of the boots. The only pink is the trim of the top. This outfit was very well thought out. Oh and by the way, I like the sunglasses on Frankie but prefer them resting on her head.

Frankie comes with the requisite rolling suitcase. Hers is electric blue with a pink block baring a lightning bolt on the front. There's lots of molded details to make it look mechanical. The handle is yellow lightning jags. The back has the same print as her top molded into it while the inside has the standard pockets and padding.

Overall grade: A+ This doll exemplifies what I love about Monster High. She's fashionable, she's subversive, she's cool. Quality is high on this doll -- her faceup is near-perfect and hair quality is fantastic (not to mention the actual style is superb). She's not so overly styled that I feel I have to leave her on her stand so as not to "mess her up". She's pretty much perfect in her own subtle way.


  1. Frankie is my less favourite doll- but I have to recognize that this Frankie looks stunning!
    Maybe I'd prefer her without earring, hmm.
    I just fell in love with her hair!

    1. Well, I'm very partial to Frankie, she's probably in my top 5 ghouls, so you have to keep that in mind :) That said, yes, this Frankie is AMAZING, especially that hair! LOVE it, and love her!

  2. I just wanted to ask what you meant by "The platforms, texture, and fact that they're combined with this specific outfit give them a fetish-y vibe." It's tres cool and a shining example of the subversiveness Mattel manages to sneak into these dolls.

    What exactly does subversive mean to you? Or in general. How do you see the shoes combined with the outfit as fetish-y? Or what do you define as fetish-y? I just want to understand where your coming from, you are much more knowledgeable than me!

    1. Well, when you subvert something you take its established use or meaning and undermine or corrupt it. More often than not this is done in sneaky ways.

      In the case of this particular doll and her boots, well, firstly, Scaris Frankie's outfit is done in a very 1940's style, which by its very nature gives it a more vintage, mature vibe, than the typical MH outfit. As for the boots, I won't go too into detail on that, but tall, platformed, vinyl boots (and Frankie's boots here are meant to look like vinyl), are often associated with fetish clothing. This style of boot has been combined with the mature, vintage outfit. There's also the fact that this Frankie's design is associated with Paris, a cosmopolitan, fetish-heavy city.

      So where does the subversion come in? MH dolls are primarily marketed to a young audience, but having Frankie wear these boots undermines and corrupts the idea of what is acceptable to market to young consumers. But as I said up front, this is often done in a sneaky way. MH has done that here (not to mention many other times on many dolls!)

      Mind you, this is just my reading of the doll. I may just be off my rocker! ;)

  3. Thank you for explaining things, again! I'm not very good at analyzing things or forming an opinion. I don't know how to explain it. I just always ask others what they think of something. Writing papers that require me to give an opinion is hard for me as well. I guess I just don't trust myself or think I'm going to be wrong, even if there isn't any 'wrong' answer.

    1. Ah, I'm sure you're better than you think! And the more you analyze something (in this case, dolls), the more you pick up on. Of course, that's just the way I approach dolls. Everyone's fandom is different; I analyze and contextualize (as best I can) because that's what I enjoy. Others create really unique original characters, something I simply don't have a talent for. Meanwhile others throw themselves into looking into new trademarks Mattel makes in anticipation of forthcoming dolls. It's different for everybody. And as you point out, when it comes to opinions on art (which I consider dolls to be), there really is no wrong answer!

  4. I consider dolls to be art as well :)
    I have no talent for making customs either, looking at some of them it's just....mind-blowing! I don't know if I should go into buying customs as well...but for now, I'm admiring Monster High as it was intended. And of course I analyze my dolls! Or maybe the correct word is look and admire. How could not just pick one up and start looking at and feeling the doll all over. They are just so beautiful to me and they always make me happy when I'm sad. I consider them my friends. I don't have any friends really. I guess that is why I am so materialistic.

  5. I feel sorry for Frankie in this line. She gets so over-shadowed next to the other deluxe dolls, and probably a bit too unfairly criticised, to boot.

    She's still not my fave Frankie, or even in my top 5, but I'm growing to appreciate her.

    Maybe it's just me, but I'm getting some strong London-y vibes from her. I can't really explain it. It's like Rochelle is representing Paris (er, I mean 'Scaris'), Clawdeen is representing New York, and Frankie is representing London.
    All 3 cities are major fashion capitals of the world & it fits when you consider the storyline.
    They all contrast nicely with their westernised garb compared to the traditional-inspired Jinafire & Skelita.

    I also really like how her outfit is almost like a uniform, yet it's very playful & vintage.

    The only thing that bugs me is those earrings. *shudders*
    That screw is just too bulky.

    1. I totally feel bad for this Frankie -- she's definitely the "runt" of the group! But considering Scaris, in particular the deluxe dolls, is such a strong line, being the runt probably isn't too bad!

      I like your theory of Frankie, Clawdeen, and Rochelle representing each of the cities. And it honestly wouldn't surprise me if that's exactly what the designers had in mind when they made them. To me Frankie's outfit has a tailored look to it, it's structured. It's unique how the top fits loosely while the skirt is much more formfitting. I don't really mind the design of the earrings, but I don't have my Frankie wearing hers, either, so that probably says a lot lol.

  6. its weird my scaris frankie has a bolt earing that is blue and yours is yellow and the other nut earing is yellow and yours is blue... oh... and also my frankies hair is not that great because i see other ones in the store after getting and opening mine and i look at the hair on some of the ones in the store and i say why don't my frankies hair look like that !!

    1. I've seen a few dolls on Flickr that have the colors of the earrings switched like you mention. I guess it was just a variation that they figured didn't need fixing? I saw a lot of Scaris Frankies with bad hair which is a shame. Like I say in the review, when the hair is good it's pretty amazing. I think the bad hair is what turned a lot of people off this doll.