Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: Catrine DeMew - Scaris Exclusive

I really should've known better. In hindsight, I knew this very thing would happen all along. Okay, so before I get to the review I have to tell you a story. Really it's more of a cautionary tale. Last week a fellow collector friend told me about a seller who had several Catrine dolls available. The woman was selling the dolls for a reasonable price (for a scalper), and shipping was free. The only catch was she had a very strict no refunds policy. I know quality control on these dolls is very iffy so it's always best to buy your doll in person, and that's what I always do. I don't buy from scalpers since it's ridiculous to pay hugely inflated prices for dolls that will eventually be ubiquitous, and I'm even leery of buying from the big box retailers online since Mattel's QC is so spotty. I thanked my friend for sharing the seller info with me but passed on buying for these reasons.

Two days later I'm making my daily morning Wal-Mart run looking for Catrine and ask an associate to check and see if any had arrived. He told me that several of the "cat dolls" were put out about 30 minutes ago, and within a few minutes some guy came through and bought all of them. In a moment of frustration I came home, jumped on the desktop, and bought a Catrine doll from the seller my friend had told me about. I reasoned that the price wasn't too bad, especially since shipping was free. Of course there was that worrying no refunds policy...

Cut to three days later and the doll arrives. Yes, I was super excited and eagerly ripped into the shipping container. That excitement quickly deflated as I looked upon a beautiful Catrine doll... with a huge chunk of paint missing over her left eye. Cue the sad trombone music. I emailed the seller about it even though I knew it was useless. She sent a quick response outlining her policy, the one I had already agreed to. I was stuck with the doll. I looked at Catrine -- so pretty and stylish despite the missing paint -- and went into "lemonade" mode.

Since the missing fleck included some of her black mascara in addition to some of her lavender eyeshadow and blue divider line I knew I wouldn't be able to repaint it. So I pulled out my fine point Sharpie and made the mascara over that eye just a little bit thicker. She doesn't look "correct" but she looks better than she did before. She's at least good enough to work as a standby until I can pick out a Catrine in person... and she'll work for today's review, too!

A few provisos: The poor girl's been through a lot so we ask that you refrain from pointing out her deficiency (she's already well aware of it). More importantly, do please keep in mind that she's still a gorgeous girl! And lastly -- avoid scalpers no matter what! In the end you'll only get burned. Sigh. Now onto the review!

Ever since I first saw pics of Catrine at last year's San Diego Comic Con I was hooked. I instantly fell in love with her and have been eagerly awaiting her arrival for close to a year now. That's a lot of expectation to live up to; now that she's here does she meet it? How about we back up a little first...

Catrine DeMew is the third and final new character introduced through the Scaris line. She's also the only exclusive, available at Wal-Mart (in the US, anyway). When I wrote my Scaris Clawdeen review I whined that she was the last deluxe doll I'd get to write about -- luckily Mighoula over at MHD wisely pointed out that, Hey, there's still Catrine, she'll probably be a deluxe doll, too! And Mighoula was absolutely right. Catrine comes in a large box with a diary, a stand, and full bio on the box back. The only difference is that, instead of a travel case, Catrine carries a purse. (Being from Scaris she has no use for a travel case.) Speaking of box back...

I said Catrine came with a diary but that's not exactly true. Her booklet is actually a portfolio showcasing her beautiful watercolors of various Scaris street scenes. You'll also find her chalk drawing of Rochelle inside. There's no text at all in her booklet. Check out some of her paintings...

Beautiful, right? Hey, wanna see something even more beautiful than those paintings?


Catrine is a werecat, a monster many MH fans are growing tired of since we have a small handful of them at this point. My opinion? As long as they continue to make them as cool, gorgeous, and unique as Catrine I say bring 'em on! Catrine has pure white skin; unlike the other werecat characters she has no stripes or spots. She sports a tail but unlike Toralei's it's not bendable. Catrine's tail functions the same as Meowlady and Purrsephone's tails; it's also almost the exact same shape.

Catrine has huge, striking cat eyes in two-tone colors, baby blue and ice blue. She has light pink eyeshadow that surrounds the entire eye and a bright blue divider line. There is no shimmer or glitter around her eyes. Her eyebrows are lavender and she has a black beauty mark under her left eye. Her tiny cat nose is highlighted with just a touch of purple paint on the bottom. She has full, puckered lips in shimmering purple. They're outlined in darker purple, a very cool effect. This is one of the more mature-looking MH faces. The beauty mark goes a long way in giving Catrine a sophisticated, retro vibe. From the moment I saw her last year I felt Catrine was possibly the prettiest MH doll to date, and seeing her in person isn't swaying me to think otherwise. She's simply stunning.

She has purple hair with a few bright magenta streaks. It's parted just slightly to her left and falls to her shoulders in thick curls. The doll comes with her hair gelled into a helmet. Gently brush it out and it will relax into the curls the way it was intended. Once brushed the texture is very soft. Not silky, but definitely soft. In keeping with the tone her faceup set, this is a chic hairstyle, something you'd see on a stylish adult. Mattel can tell us this doll is 17 but I'm not buying it. No Howleen-esque fauxhawks or Venus-inspired buzz cuts (much as I like those hairstyles) for this girl -- she's wise enough to know less is more. This hairstyle is timeless and she pulls it off perfectly.

Catrine wears a short sleeve top with horizontal stripes in various shades of purple, plus some black and white. Her short skirt hugs her abdomen before flaring into two layers. The top layer is black and has purple, magenta, and white dots. The lower layer features the same horizontal stripes as her shirt. I'm having trouble gauging this outfit. It doesn't seem to reference a particular era, yet it doesn't exactly feel modern, either. Whatever, I quite like it nonetheless!

Her shoes are platform heels. The body is lavender and features several fanciful straps and a rose bloom. The platform and heel is light pink. She also wears black fingerless gloves that are molded onto her hands. Even though fingerless gloves are pretty timeless, for some reason on Catrine these most definitely do feel retro. Matching them are her sunglasses, black Jackie O's with odd earpieces that curve upward. They're very stylish -- again, these are much more sophisticated than the usual outrageous sunglasses you'll find on the other dolls. She wears an artist's belt in lavender. Attached is a case holding her various colored chalks; a second case holds brushes of all different shapes and sizes. A small skullette adorns the belt.

Cinched around Catrine's neck is a long purple and black scarf. I love the exaggerated length -- it's impossible not to notice the scarf when it has a habit of perfectly draping itself on Catrine's shoulders and cascading over her belt, purse, etc. Also, if you've been to Paris you know they take their scarves very seriously. This adds immensely to Catrine's authenticity.

Her last accessory is her purse. It's black with a large, curling handle and features a purple Parisian skyline lit by the nighttime stars. It has a pleasingly fanciful look to it. The skyline side opens on two hinges. I doubt it's big enough to hold much, but at least it opens.

Overall grade: A+ and then some! Even with a paint defect this doll's overriding high quality shines through! She ticks all the boxes I love: subtle, sophisticated, gorgeous, French, etc etc. (Rochelle better watch out!) Seriously though, Catrine may just be the single most beautiful MH doll to date. I won't say that definitively, but she's certainly in the running. What little I know of her characterization I quite like. There's almost an air of mystery surrounding this Scarisian street artist. The doll is just so beautiful (Jeez, how many times can I say that in one review?), she's really something to behold. She may not break new ground like Jinafire and Skelita did, but damn if she isn't a shining example of Mattel at their absolute best! Yes, I'm a fan! Yes, I hope we see more of her! Yes, she's perfect! (Even with that little paint defect.) C'est magnifique!

By the way, when I do get ahold of another Catrine, she'll probably be showing up on the blog, too!


  1. John I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your well-written reviews (and this from an old English teacher).

    As for Miss Catrine, please tell her no one would every notice she's had work done! She reminds me of nothing so much as the great French actress Emmanuelle Beart, seen at the link.

    Her fashion seems like an updated version of what was worn in Paris in the very late 50s/ early 60s. The scarf coupled with that nice, broad batteau neckline and the fit/flare silhouette is what puts me in that mindset, but the low-riding, chunky belt put a whole new spin on it. In any case, thank you for making me think deep thoughts about a Walmart doll!

    1. Thank you for the kind words! It's not always perfect but I do what I can! I wasn't aware of Emmanuelle Beart, thank you for pointing her out. I have to agree with Vanity Fair -- she's stunning! I'm pleased to see Eva Green on their list as well, and you can never go wrong with La Deneuve.

      The general feel I was getting from Catrine was definitely 60s -- mostly due to the glasses and gloves -- but the skirt was throwing me off. Mattel does well with updating fashion from so many eras. It's almost a shame they market the dolls exclusively to kids because their references can be so rich and varied.

      There's an inherent ridiculousness to writing a blog about play dolls so I'm glad I can reach others and not go it alone! Thanks for stopping by and don't be a stranger!

  2. I love this review! Your descriptions and photos really capture her unique style and sophistication. Thank you for writing with such detail!

    1. Thank you for reading it! Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. For some reason this won't let me leave a comment linking directly to my LJ account (has, in fact, eaten my comment twice), but I just wanted to say this review is really fantastic and thank you for writing it. Your descriptions are amazing and you've really captured Catrine's unique style and sophistication. :)

    1. Thank you! I think when I really love a doll it comes through naturally in the text. I definitely had fun writing it!

    2. Forgot to add, your comment did come through those times, so not sure what happened exactly. Sometimes Blogger goes a little slow, maybe that was what it was. Let me know if it happens again.

  4. Catrine is an amazing doll and even though I know I probably can't get her, I feel honoured to just being able to look at pictures of her!
    She's a great succes and unfortunately it seems that scalpers also recognise that. I hope you find another Catrine soon! :)

    Btw, I've read all your blog posts until now.. consider me a big fan!
    I love the way you describe all the little details on the dolls (it almost feels like I have the doll in my hand!) and I like how you post other blog posts in between the reviews. It's a clever way to cause some variation!
    You're a great example to other grown man who'd love to collect dolls. There's nothing wrong with it and it just creates an opportunity to express creativity in a way others can enjoy from it too!

    1. Thank you, I'm glad my reviews can offer "the next best thing" to holding the doll! As for being an adult male collector, I just do what I do and try not to think about it too much. There are people out there who just don't get it, and that's fine. But I've loved dolls since I was a kid, and it's obviously followed me into adulthood, so I'm not going to deny what I'm passionate about. The people who don't get it can go about their lives and I'll go about mine.

    2. I've loved dolls since I was a kid, and it's obviously followed me into adulthood, so I'm not going to deny what I'm passionate about. The people who don't get it can go about their lives and I'll go about mine."

      I feel exactly the same way. Quite a few people have asked "aren't you a little old to still be playing with dolls?" and my answer is always no - dolls can be collected and enjoyed just like stamps, rocks, gadgets, and bring equal amounts of enjoyment! If they still have a problem after that, well, that's their issue. :)

      I'm glad my comments went through - Blogger was giving me a bunch of difficulty about leaving them. I use another service for my own doll blogs because I've just had so many problems with posting to Blogger and commenting to different people. It's especially irksome because I know how nice it is to get feedback, so I like leaving it for fellow doll enthusiasts!

    3. "If they still have a problem after that, well, that's their issue."

      And that's the key right there, isn't it? I don't judge others for their hobbies, I'd like the favor returned. But if it's not then so be it, it's for them deal with.

      Sometimes I think I'd like to switch to another service, but I feel at this point I'm pretty firmly ensconced here. I really don't know much about the other services, I should do some investigating...

    4. Oh, and what are your doll blogs, Sadie? I'd love to check them out!

    5. I've had a lot of luck with Weebly as far as ease-of-use goes, and friends have said it's really accessible with alternate browsers and screen-readers. I've received comments from people on livejournal, dreamwidth, insanejournal, as well as openID sources and a few other places. I haven't updated it recently, although I'm planning to within the next couple days.

      My main doll journal is located on Dreamwidth which has an easy cross-posting feature to update Livejournal simultaneously.

      There's a very active Monster High community on Livejournal where people post images people dig up of upcoming dolls, the webisodes (linked from their sources - YouTube and the Monster High section of Mattel's website). That's located here:

    6. Thanks for the tips, I'll kick a few tires on the other services. I wonder if blog post transferring is possible? If I were to switch, it'd be cool if there was an easy way to move everything here to another place.

      I'll check out your blogs, too! I'm always on the lookout for others as doll-obsessed as me lol.

    7. I went looking and it seems as though Dreamwidth only has import capacity from similar journal sites, such as LJ and IJ. (Same internal interface.) Blogger might have to be a manual switchover which definitely takes time - before import-features I once moved a journal with over a thousand entries to another service, entry by entry. It took me over four days and it was a nightmare!

      Dreamwidth treats its users really well - the site administrators are easy to contact with problems, bugs, and update prior to any downtime or if there's unexpected downtime. Basic users get 15 100x100px user photos (mine feature dolls 'cause I'm predictable) and they don't use ads anywhere on the site. Paid users get a wider range of customization options like custom mood themes and over five alternate stylesheets, although I find I only ever need one or two. I tend to switch between somewhat darker colors during the winter months and lighter colors during the summer.

      Besides the above, DW offers x-post features that are incredibly easy to enable. My doll journal on LJ is an exact mirror of my journal on DW - I only have to check a box on DW for that to happen. Livejournal is often where the communities are, and an account is required to access most of them. I keep the LJ for reading the Monster High community as well as a few other doll-themed groups.

      You're definitely not the only guy into collecting and reviewing Monster High - some of Flickr's best MH photographers are guys who work for catalogs and just happened to get into the fandom. Mattel has, perhaps somewhat unwittingly, created a doll franchise that encompasses an extremely varied consumer base - guys, girls, people who enjoy sewing (myself included), people who enjoy photography, fashion designers - it's huge, and I really have to admit I love being a part of it all. The dolls are creative and engaging and I hope they'll be around for a very long time.

      (In other words, come to the darkside - we have cookies! :D)

    8. Wow, thank you so much Sadie! I've never even heard of Dreamwidth. I'm not quite ready to commit to moving Voicething just yet, but for a while now I've been thinking of starting a sister blog to this one. Perhaps DW would be a good testing ground for the sister blog. The only thing is, my idea for the blog doesn't involve dolls, but rather my general observations on life, film, music etc. Although I was thinking it would also be a good place to discuss "behind the scenes" stuff about Voicething -- a sort of blog about, if you will. So it would at least have a tangential connection to dolls.

      As for LiveJournal, I've always heard about it, and have even read some stuff from there. But I have no idea how it works. I'm always looking for ways to connect to fellow MH fans -- sounds pretty great!

      I agree, I think MH has taken off even more than Mattel expected. At this point, it seems most in the doll collecting community have been affected by MH. To varying degrees, of course. Before I got into MH hardcore I was a huge Blythe fanatic (I still have all my Blythes), and I've noticed a lot of people in the Blythe community -- even the ones who are rather anti-corporate -- have gotten into MH. The dolls really are by far the most interesting, unique playline dolls. It's no wonder their appeal encompasses so many different people.

    9. Forgot to mention, Sadie, I LOVE your work! Your Jinafire kimono is truly beautiful -- great work! Since I use Blogger I couldnt comment over there, but wanted to let you know.

    10. Okay Sadie, I've set up Live Journal and Dreamwidth accounts. On LJ I'm voicethingmh79, on Dreamwidth I'm Voicething The Sequel. I haven't written anything yet -- still figuring it all out! lol

  5. Have you seen these John? :O

    It's a Scaris 2-pack with Lagoona and Cleo!! Looks like your Scaris adventure isn't over yet!

    1. Yes! I LOVE Cleo! I'm more mixed on Lagoona, but I can see her growing on me. As you say, the Scaris adventure isn't over -- can't wait to own, and review, these two!