Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review: Jinafire Long - Scaris Deluxe

Ugh, you know... you know, sometimes it's just hard. Because sitting in my position, I know that if you've found yourself here it's because you wanna know more about this doll. Or because you want to see if my opinion of her reflects yours, or if it's different, then why. But damn if it's hard for me to not just pound out "Holy crap, this doll is awesome, y'all! She's the perfect plastic embodiment of why we all fell in love with dolls in the first place, for real, y'all! If you ain't got her yet, go find her now -- don't think about it, just do it! Y'all." And while that would certainly be good for a laugh, and reveal that spastic side of myself that occasionally rears it's geeky head, it wouldn't exactly make for a good read. And it would definitely be doing Jinafire a disservice. Because there are so many great details here, so many unique little touches, that make this doll, well, special. (Forgive the preciousness, but it's the truth.) And so we dig in...

First, how about some box back?

The box back is bigger than my scanner. Hence the "piecey" feeling of this scan.

So before we've even opened her we're already given the basic set up of this line (rather enigmatically, no less), and the basics of Jinafire, the character. Our girl Jina is a Chinese Fire Dragon, hot-tempered and headstrong, but also artistically driven. I like this girl already. Once opened, you'll find a diary of sorts inside. Although her booklet does have a few diary entries it also doubles as her sketch pad. I like this approach a lot. The diary entries give us a lot of insight into her personality and motivations, while the sketch pad portions offer some fantastic artwork -- a feast for the eyes, really, considering it all looks so good. The sketches, fabric swatches, and color studies all tie into the story that plays out in her diary entries. Smartly, Mattel has used these entries to establish Jinafire's character pre-Scaris. So rather than just throwing us right into "Jina does Scaris!", we get to know more about her personal life, with the final entry only hinting at her upcoming Scaris adventure. For an 8 page booklet that has as many drawings as it does words, it successfully establishes the whole story and character. This booklet is a master of multitasking, and it looks great doing it. See for yourself--

So we know her personality and her motivations, but what about the doll? I'm not even sure where to start. Okay, so being a Chinese dragon, instead of skin Jina has golden, shimmering scales. They cover her entire body except her face, lower hands, feet, tail front, and chest and tummy (I'll come back to that). Even the non-scaled portions have that set-in shimmer, and this is nowhere as evident as her face. It just seems to glow, to radiate. It's impressive and just plain beautiful. While I'm on the subject, yeah, that face. Yowzers. Jina's faceup is so detailed, so unique, so beguiling. She must be the prettiest dragon girl the world has ever seen. She has gigantic yellow dragon eyes with little strips of green surrounding the pupils. There's a white reflection dot accompanied by a white streak. These striking eyes could give Toralei a run for her money. Her eyeshadow is purple and follows the contour of her eyelid before sprouting dramatically in two directions at the edge -- upwards and downwards. There's no shadow under her eyes or above the purple layer up top. There's really no need for it -- the shadow is already enhanced by the natural shimmer of her golden skin. Her lips are the same shade of purple as her shadow and have a fair bit of shimmer going on themselves. Her eyebrows are a grey-ish brown color and have a unique tip that juts down sharply before going into the actual brow. It's a small touch but adds immensely to the uniqueness of this face. Her eyes and brows seem to be all about dramatic, sharp points and rich, striking colors.

When the promo pic of this doll leaked all those months ago I was immediately taken with her unique hairstyle. It certainly looked impressive. The thing is, Mattel can occasionally be a bit overly ambitious in their designs of these dolls, and while promo pics often look flawless, the reality of the doll you buy in the store can be a very different story. I'm happy to report that this ambitious hairstyle, however, has been manufactured perfectly! No weirdness with accessory placement, no odd rooting, no crispy gel. First things first: her hair is long, straight, and bright green with black streaks. The texture is comparable to Spectra's hair (that is, it's quite silky and soft), though maybe not quite as thick. She wears a hairpiece (I'm not even gonna pretend to know what it's called) that's a black wand that bares a golden ball of sorts (it's flat in the back), flanked by orange-red molded tassels at each end. Although they're molded the tassels hang loosely, creating a nice kinetic effect when the doll is in motion. Jina's hair looks like it may be sideparted, but I have my doubts. The front portion of her hair is split in two on her left. Some of it is banded at her right ear while the rest is pulled up into a circular crown that rests behind that golden ball. The strands of hair left hanging out of the crown rest naturally to the right. The rest of Jina's hair simply rests behind her unfettered, ending just below her rear. This is an extremely fussy hairdo and I'm amazed Mattel has been able to mass produce it successfully. For all that's going on here it really is flawless; it looks amazing. Good job, Mattel!

Jina wears a satin dress in royal purple. It has a print of red flames mixed with blue and black stylistic clouds. It ends above the knees in a diagonal cut. The right sleeve is made of the same material and leads into a high collar. The left sleeve is purple gauze and features a print of orange scales. It flares out dramatically. Over the dress she wears a gold belt; the shade is a bit brighter than her scales/skin. A medallion baring the infamous skullette hangs from the belt, in addition to a swathe of that purple and orange gauze. This dress is stunning. It feels extremely high quality; to say it's well-made is an understatement. The colors and textures are rich, a bit luxe even. The textures remind me of some of the best Blythe clothes out there. The belt is a great touch and I love the contrast the hanging gauze creates.

On her feet are platforms; the body is orange-red and wraps her ankles. The heel is gold and molded into the shape of a horn of some sort. The actual platform is molded as well and looks to be a round pad clutched into place by claws. They're stunning. She wears matching orange-red earrings that echo the detailing of the ankle wrap on her shoes. Her last worn accessory is an orange-red arm cuff wrapped around her right arm.

Jina is a fire dragon and as such she has several body mods reflecting this. Most notable is her tail. It's shimmery gold and curves into a green, leafy end. Although the tail isn't posable in that you can bend it around, it does twist within it's groove (a la the werecat twins), so there are some posing options here. I've also noticed it stays in it's groove remarkably well. The next mod is one I particularly love. Although her whole body is covered with scales, even her back and rear, in true reptilian fashion her chest and tummy are scale-less and instead broken into wide portions. This is one of those details that's rather small and perhaps even unnoticeable (you don't really see it unless you remove her clothes), but adds so much to the doll once you do notice it. These are the little details that I always say put Monster High above any other playline dolls. After all, Mattel could've just as easily left her entire torso scale-y, or just not modded it at all. The last dragon-y detail is her ears, which point upward sharply. Small, but worth mentioning.

As a deluxe doll, Jinafire comes with many extras -- stand, hairbrush, and booklet. Since she is a "travel doll" she comes with a rolling suitcase instead of a purse. The suitcase is red and opens on a large hinge. The front features a lot of detail -- a dragon, bursts of flames all around, and fans in each corner. It is topped by decorative golden flames. The back is a bit simpler but has some nice molded detailing as well. It's also here that you'll find the rolling wheels. Inside are molded pockets and padding. The handle is black and has a cool decorative shape similar to a pagoda. I've heard it said that these handles are retractable but I have my doubts on this one. Although you can pop the handles out of their sockets easily, once you do the handle becomes very loose and "clattery". Contrast this with Skelita's suitcase handle, which very obviously is retractable, and I feel my suspicions are confirmed. Not that it really matters; not being retractable doesn't take away from the suitcase at all.

I know these pics make you feel like you're in an Inception-like dreamland, but it was the best way to capture the details without a tripod.

Overall grade: A+ and then some. The design of this doll is ambitious and Mattel has pulled it off without a hitch. She's unique and very beautiful. But lots of MH dolls are unique and beautiful. Something about Jina feels "special"; she comes across to me as just a bit elevated above other MH dolls. The materials of her dress feel nicer than usual, her hair is elaborate and has been manufactured successfully, and the overall setup of the character is detailed and interesting. Her booklet is a step above the usual MH diary in that it both establishes the character while giving us some beautiful sketches to look at. To be honest this doll feels more "collector's quality" than the recent Scarily Ever After collector's doll line. When I took her clothes off to inspect her dragon tummy I hesitated, simply because I didn't want to "mess up" her look. Luckily her clothes went back on just fine. Bottom line: this doll is truly special, something you'll want to hold on to and cherish. You don't get that often in playline dolls. Jinafire Long is nothing short of remarkable.


  1. Great review! Who's the next? Rochelle or Skelita? I'll have to wait at least two months to get these Scaris beauties in my country.

    1. Thanks, Mummy! If I can pull it off, Skelita will be up later tonight, while Rochelle's will come tomorrow. I have a special connection to Rochelle and have been especially eager for her Scaris doll, and tomorrow's my birthday, so it just seems fitting for her review to go up tomorrow. That said, I still have pics to take, boxes to scan, and I haven't done a bit of writing for either review. I know for certain at least one of them will be up by the end of tomorrow.

      I see you're in Finland, is that correct? Don't feel too bad about having to wait for new dolls -- even here in the states it was a good two months from when Operetta, Rochelle, and Toralei first hit shelves before I could get my hands on them!

    2. Happy birthday! Great b-day present for you, the Scaris line. I am also a big Rochelle fan. I love Paris so Rochelle is my favourite doll. ( Robecca and Jinafire are amazing too. And Cleo is still my favourite character...)

      Yes, Finland. I'm trying to not feel bad but I'm so jealous! I Can't believe I'm over 20 and dreaming about new dolls.

      Pardon my English. Hope you understand.

    3. Thanks, Mummy! All that love for Cleo, Rochelle, Jinafire -- you have *great* taste in dolls, my friend! :) Don't feel too bad about being 20 and still loving dolls -- I'm in my 30's and still doll addicted lol.

      No worries on your English, it's fantastic!