It's December so you know what that means -- countdowns! Everywhere you turn in December you'll find year-end lists counting down the best music, best movies, best TV, internet memes, celebrity scandals, you name it. We humans love looking back over the year behind us, ostensibly to take stock of everything that happened and perhaps even indulge in a little reminiscing. For me, yeah, there's that stuff. But more than that I just plain love lists for the sake of lists. I make lists all the time, for everything from groceries to places I'd like to visit to, well, dolls. Going hand in hand with the list-mania is the fact that I also love to rank things. The thing is, I'm really not a particularly creative person, at least not in an artistic sense. I don't come up with cool OC's or create custom dolls. My doll appreciation is most expressed in analyzing, comparing, admiring. So really it makes perfect sense that I would do a year-end list of the best (to me) Monster High dolls. And since I now have a blog it gives me a voice(thing) to share all my thoughts on these wonderful little pieces of plastic.
I have set a few ground rules. Only dolls scheduled for 2012 release can be included. This means, for example, that even though Skull Shores started hitting shelves in 2011 they're eligible this year since they're scheduled release was 2012. Likewise, recent lines like Scaris and Picture Day aren't eligible since they're technically 2013 dolls. Also, I will only be including female dolls. Why? I don't collect male dolls. It's not that I'm anti-male doll, they're just not my thing. I'm Switzerland when it comes to them, totally neutral. Finally, I didn't compile my list using only dolls I own but all my favorite 2012 dolls ended up on my shelves anyway so everything you'll see here was decided based on actual dolls, not pictures online. One last thing: remember, these are my personal picks for the year's best. I'm not claiming these are 2012's best MH dolls period, just the best 2012 dolls to me.
Before we get to the list proper here are the "honorable mentions", the dolls that landed just outside the Top 10. They're not listed in any particular order but feel free to consider them 11 - 20 on the list.
- Ghoulia Yelps + Scooter
- Dot Dead Gorgeous Lagoona Blue
- Operetta Basic
- Skull Shores Frankie Stein Greyscale
- Skultimate Roller Maze Lagoona Blue
- Howleen Wolf Basic
- Ghouls Rule Cleo De Nile
- Dot Dead Gorgeous Ghoulia Yelps
- Frankie Stein as Threaderella
- Skull Shores Lagoona Blue
And now to the main event!
10. I Love Fashion Abbey Bominable
This is my favorite Abbey, thanks mostly to a striking faceup of matte paint and a chic ensemble. Excellent hair in both quality and style is a major plus. The legwarmers + booties are amazing. All the extra clothes and accessories didn't hurt, but her ranking here really does come down to just the actual doll and the outfit she wears in-box. She's pretty perfect.
9. Roadster Draculaura
I can be pretty hard on Draculaura, especially her newer dolls. I don't think it's any big secret that her dolls tend to be my least favorite. But this one somehow strikes a fantastic balance between appealing simplicity and retro style. Her sunglasses are leftover from 2010 and her shoes are a repaint of a pair already seen on Lagoona. Her faceup is nothing new. I really can't put my finger on just what it is that appeals to me so much about her. There's something vaguely 20's about her, maybe that's what it is? She photographs remarkably well and the hair is great, gel and all. She just works.
8. Skultimate Roller Maze Frankie Stein
I know I've already gone on at length in my full review about how great this doll is so I'll keep it brief. The colorful face is gorgeous and that loose hairstyle gives her a groovy, mellow vibe. If she came in a better outfit she'd be even higher on the list. Luckily there are plenty of Frankie fashions to go around so this girl is always looking stylish 'round here. I just really adore this doll, people. She never leaves the "A shelf".
7. Meowlady & Purrsephone
Is it cheating to include these two as one entry? Whatever, they came together, they belong together. In fact that's part of what's so fun about these two. If they sold just one of these dolls alone I don't think she'd be nearly as great as she is paired with her sister. They play off each other visually with mirror image stripes and opposite colored hair. Throw in those eerie eyes and incredible clothes (1982 called, it said good job!) and you have two cool cats worthy of their awesomely bad reputations. Do I think we'll ever see another release of these two? I could honestly see it go either way. And while it'd be cool to have even more versions of them, I'd be just as fine if this is all we ever get of the twins. These two dolls are great enough to stand on their own as representations of the characters.
6. Skull Shores Ghoulia Yelps
I know, I know. Mattel totally overshot it with this doll's distribution. But try to get past the burnout and remember the first time you saw her. That glorious hair, the vintage swimsuit and wrap, that colorful face. SS Ghoulia is a stunning doll in every way. She's a 50's beach babe bombshell, and that's amazing.
5. Venus McFlytrap Basic
Compared to the other new characters this year Venus actually seems a bit simple. No wings, no scars, no rivets. Maybe that's part of why she works so well. Sure, half her head is shaved and she's got vines threatening to swallow her whole, but when it comes to actually playing with and posing this doll she's very "no muss, no fuss". The fact that she's gorgeous and the side of her head that isn't shaved has looong, silky hair in two contrasting, fluorescent colors doesn't hurt. Consider me officially pro-Eco Punk.
4. Skull Shores Cleo De Nile
Pickings were slim in 2012 when it came to Cleo dolls. In fact we only got two, and one of them was in an exclusive pack that cost 50 bucks. A shame really since SS Cleo is not only the best doll of an already great line, she's quite possibly the best Cleo released to date. In an outfit that channels the 70's via Art Deco revivalism Cleo walks on heels of pharaohs, proudly displaying a black bob and turquoise bangs. Lips golden, eyes sharp, Cleo stands ready to ascend her throne. Then from somewhere in the back some Mattel exec yells "Get your ass back to Target! We got more Draculaura's to make!" Damn.
3. Kohl's Exclusive Operetta
In a slight variation of her fashion pack, Kohl's Operetta comes to us with dark, dramatic makeup and smooth, shiny hair. Basic Operetta may have the better hairstyle, but Kohl's Operetta has the better, well, everything else. Even the outfit retread works since the fashion pack was so amazing in the first place. Sultry and enigmatic, this Operetta comes across as a doll for grown ups. Not in any weird way, it's just that she doesn't seem like a doll that would particularly appeal to the kiddies. I may be wrong, I don't have kids so I wouldn't know. But here Operetta is fierce, dark, mature, retro, cool. She's the only doll that has truly lived up to the potential of this character so far, in my opinion. She hasn't moved from my "A shelf" since I got her and I don't see that changing any time soon.
2. Toralei Stripe Basic
If there's some ambiguity as to whether lumping Meowlady and Purrsephone together was cheating, there's none here. Toralei's release date was December 2011, technically disqualifying her from this list. But hey, December is almost January, and I couldn't get my hands on the doll until well into the spring anyway so she just feels very 2012 to me. She's so cool I might just make a rule saying this doll qualifies for every year, forever, anyway. So yes, Toralei is my #2 doll this year. Even if I didn't think she belonged here she'd probably cut me for leaving her out, so in she goes!
1. Rochelle Goyle Basic
Big pink eyes, cotton candy hair, and granite wings get 'em every time. Or something like that. Whatever, Rochelle is a beautiful doll and my #1 this year. She's stylish, she's unique, she's just plain fun, and that's what dolls are supposed to be. I'm already smitten and then some with her Scaris doll (expect an appearance next year), and look forward to many more to come.