Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2013 Doll Primer -- Part 1

With all the exciting doll reveals that have happened over the past few months, I felt it was time to take stock of what we've gotten in 2013 so far, and look ahead to what we have yet to get. This being Voicething, I wanted to approach it from a character-specific perspective. That is, take a look at each character, one by one, rather than looking at each line. I think this will be a good way to get a feel for the direction each ghoul is going in, design-wise, and help place them in the larger context of the MH universe. For full coverage including playsets, male dolls, and the like, I highly recommend Monster High Insider and Monster High Checklist. Keep in mind that, despite the plethora of dolls revealed, there's always the possibility there are still more to be announced. One we for sure don't know about yet is this year's San Diego Comic Con doll.

Catty Noir, is that you? Could you be the SDCC 2013 doll???

It seems only fitting we kick things off with Frankie Stein. The girl got off to a rocky start this year. Her Scaris doll received mixed reviews, some finding her a bit bland while others (like myself), recognized her subtle sophistication. This was followed up by her Ghouls Alive doll. Ghouls Alive is perhaps the poorest-received line to date, leaving most fans cold due to the odd restyling of the dolls to fit their "action". I personally really liked this Frankie, but I can see where people are coming from. Luckily for Frankie things are starting to turn around. Her Picture Day doll, who's started hitting shelves fyi, received cheers upon its' reveal. Ditto her Power Ghouls doll, Voltageous. Both of these dolls utilize bold blues and yellows, and have bright, cheery faceups, a direct contrast to her Scaris and Ghouls Alive dolls. The only other new 2013 Frankie doll (that we know of), is her 13 Wishes doll. This doll is getting mixed reviews, with most complaints coming down to her rather uninspired outfit (this will be a running theme for the 13 Wishes dolls). I'm afraid I'm in agreement; I love this Frankie's faceup and hair, but hate the outfit. Overall, 2013 is looking to be a mixed bag for Frankie. She's seeing fewer dolls released than usual this year, and I have a feeling by the end of 2013 the only two dolls people will really love are her Power Ghouls and Picture Day dolls. We shall see. It's worth noting that her original basic doll is seeing a re-release, a big plus for newer fans who never had a chance to get ahold of her the first time around.

Next we have Draculaura. By the end of 2012 fans were feeling some serious Draculaura fatigue. Many feel she has been overused in the lines, and the large amount of Ula dolls has lead to some rather uninspired designs. The sheer amount of dolls simply burned people out on her. Luckily, Mattel had just the cure in 2013: a Draculaura brought to you in unique, unexpected clothes, with interesting faceups and good hair. Imagine that! Her first doll, Scaris, was part of the budget line, so she didn't break the mold too much. But she was really pretty and well-made, especially for a budget doll. Her next two dolls -- Picture Day and Swim 2013 -- brought the new stuff, and some excitement starting building around this character again. Unfortunately, it seems that excitement may be short-lived, as her next doll is 13 Wishes. It's back to pink, dainty, sparkly, playline-style Barbie, with 13 Wishes Draculaura. Boo, Mattel. We'll also be getting a Die-ner playset featuring Ula. At first I thought this doll looked promising, but with the reveal of higher-quality pics, she seems like she may be more of the same. Some are excited about this doll, but just as many aren't. My opinion: her outfit looks great, the rest is a bit meh. There will also be a Music Festival Draculaura, released as a 2-Pack with Clawd. We haven't gotten HQ shots of this doll yet so it's hard to say, but so far the general feeling among fans is, again, pretty mixed. We're also seeing a re-release of her original basic doll.

It's a good time to be Clawdeen Wolf. Her Scaris doll has been extremely well-received, with many naming her their all-time favorite Clawdeen. Likewise, her Power Ghouls and Skultimate Roller Maze dolls have gone over very well. The only blight on her track record so far is her Ghouls Alive doll. As with GA Frankie, GA Clawdeen hasn't seen much love from the fans. It's not surprising, really. Have you seen her face? Yikes. The rest of the year looks like we may be seeing peaks and valleys for Clawdeen. She also has a 13 Wishes doll, and hers is getting mixed reviews. Personally, I feel about her the same as I do 13 Wishes Frankie -- great faceup and hair, horrible outfit. Response to her disco-loving Music Festival doll is mixed, with many labeling her a virtual repeat of her Power Ghouls doll, design-wise. I like this Clawdeen's hair a lot (it's definitely authentic disco), but I feel the colors of her outfit are all wrong. Deep blues and off-whites with some touches of glitter here and there would've been much more authentic. She will have a Ghoul's Night Out doll available in an exclusive 4-Pack. We haven't seen HQ pics of her yet, but reviews so far are mixed. The doll doesn't seem to bring anything new to the table for Clawdeen; she's a "bit been there, done that". On the bright side, her I Heart Fashion doll is getting rave reviews -- she's gonna be a popular one, that's for sure! Clawdeen is the last character seeing a re-release of her original basic doll.

Lagoona Blue is getting some much-needed attention from Mattel. She has no less than six dolls coming out this year, nearly doubling her total amount of dolls released to date! Lagoona is a fan favorite; good job listening to us, Mattel! Although her first 2013 doll was from Dance Class, a somewhat unpopular line, Lagoona is many peoples' favorite of the four. If nothing else, she gave us Lagoona's best hair to date, in terms of quality. This was followed up by her Swim 2013 doll, a very popular one with fans. It doesn't hurt that she's one of the most unique Lagoonas released to date. Her Picture Day doll just started hitting shelves and people for the most part seem to be loving her. Also hitting shelves is her Scaris doll, sold as a TRU exclusive alongside Cleo. Cleo is getting the lion's share of attention in this set; reactions to Lagoona are more mixed. And yet a third Lagoona doll is hitting shelves now, too -- her Ghoul's Night Out doll. Unfortunately, most don't seem to be feeling her. Complaints generally center around a cheap-looking outfit and lackluster hair and faceup. I think she looks pretty cool, but I'll have to wait 'til I see her in person before I really decide. Lagoona's last doll is from 13 Wishes. In a major departure for the character, Lagoona has gone freshwater and comes in day-glo colors, including her skin and hair. People are polarized on this one -- some love her, some hate her. Count me in the former camp. Can't wait to get my hands on this unique doll!

My dearest Cleo De Nile, oh what a great year this is for you! So far we know of only four 2013 Cleo dolls, but that's already twice as many as she got last year, and they're all great! So fellow Cleo fans, let's rejoice! Celebrate! Boss people around Cleo-style in honor of our favorite Egyptian princess. Well, maybe not that last one. Anyway, Cleo and 2013 go together rather well, as her Picture Day doll has been extremely popular. (I was unfortunate in getting one with bunk hair, but that didn't take away from her amazing clothes and faceup). Her Scaris doll is getting great reviews as well. I still haven't gotten my hands on the set, and it's really starting to aggravate me! But she certainly looks beautiful, probably the prettiest 2013 Cleo doll, in my opinion. We'll also get a swim Cleo that comes with a 13 Wishes-looking playset. Response to her has been positive, and it's no surprise. She's all fierce eyes and severe ponytail. Her last doll is from another 2-Pack, this time a Classroom set pairing her with her bestie, Ghoulia. With her gold lips and purple-streaked bangs, she's a mixture of old and new, and fans seem to be eating it up. Indeed, everything's coming up Cleo in 2013! About time, am I right?


Things are pretty quiet on the Ghoulia Yelps front in 2013. Her Scaris doll was a slam-dunk, especially for a budget doll. Her Classroom doll (paired with the aforementioned Cleo), looks pretty fab, as well. She has an interesting dress featuring a few colors we've never seen on Ghoulia before, and a new (for Ghoulia) hairstyle, and it's a good one! Other than that, her only other doll is in the Ghoul's Night Out exclusive 4-Pack. Fan reaction is a bit mixed, but I think she looks great! So while we may not be getting as many Ghoulias this year as we're used to, at least the ones we are getting all look promising. I love me some Ghoulia so I'm hoping there's still more of her to come this year that we just don't know about yet.

Spectra Vondergeist is in the same boat as Lagoona this year. That is, we're getting a lot of her, more than ever before! Although her Ghouls Alive doll didn't set hearts on fire, her Picture Day doll most certainly did. That success was followed up by Polterghoul, Spectra's Power Ghouls doll. Many are naming Polterghoul their favorite Spectra yet! Hitting shelves as I type is Spectra's Ghoul's Night Out doll. This Spectra brings a few changes to the character, most notably her hair. For the first time it's wavy instead of straight, and comes in a brighter magenta shade. Many are saying she is the only GNO doll they like. I know I certainly like her! Spectra's fifth and final (so far), 2013 doll comes with the Haunt The Casbah playset, and is another departure. This time her hair isn't just wavy, it's actually curly! Sweet! Her outfit isn't too exciting, but her face looks really unique. The doll is getting mixed reviews from fans, but the playset she comes with seems to be going over well. With the exception of her GA doll, 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year for Spectra! Clap for her.

Mattel turned approximately 98% of MH fans against Abbey Bominable by releasing about 12,649 different versions of her last year. This year they're wisely scaling back on Abbey releases. Her budget Scaris doll has generally been recognized as a snoozefest, bringing nothing new to the table in terms of face and hair. Her Picture Day doll has gone over much better, being the total opposite of the Scaris one -- brand new hairstyle, unique and unexpected clothes, and just being odd in a likable way overall. Her next doll will come in Music Festival form, donning some brightly-colored hippie duds. Reaction has been fair-to-positive. Personally, I may pick her up just for her wicked boots. Abbey's fourth and final doll, from a Classroom 2-Pack, has gone over extremely well. It seems everybody loves her! A lot of it is due to her unique, peppermint-striped ponytail hairstyle. This Abbey is paired up with Heath Burns. Considering this is Heath's first doll, and it looks to be his basic version more or less, you may have a hard time getting your hands on this one. Good luck!

Get 'em while you can, they're gonna go quick!

Toralei Stripe has been released in a TRU exclusive Fearleading 3-Pack with the werecat twins. This doll seems to be a re-release of her basic doll, but in a Fearleading outfit and with slightly altered hands (from what I hear). Still, basic Toralei was a hard doll to find last year so I'm sure many are thankful for this release. But the big news in 2013 for this character is her Power Ghouls doll, Cat Tastrophe! To say she's one of the most anticipated MH dolls of 2013 is an understatement. Everyone seems to like her, and seeing as Toralei is pretty popular in general, this Target exclusive may be hard to get your hands on. That's it for Toralei in 2013, but considering fans were left wondering there for a while whether there would ever be another Toralei doll released, this amazing new version of the character seems more than enough.

I have no words for how amazing this doll looks.

As with Ghoulia, things have been pretty quiet in 2013 for Operetta. Her first 2013 release was her Dance Class doll. I've already talked about fans' mediocre reaction to this line; Operetta was no exception. We didn't hear anything else about Operetta this year until her Picture Day doll was revealed. Fans got very worked up over her, what with the new mask and hairstyle; reaction was positive to say the least. Unfortunately, the manufactured doll seems to utilize the overused earring mask, and her hair looks pretty different from the promo pic, too. Excitement has deflated somewhat about this doll. But a lot of excitement has built up around Operetta yet again, thanks to a brand new reveal (just last week), of a doll that will be included in an exclusive version of Draculaura's Die-ner. To me, this is THE BEST Operetta to date, and I'm not alone in that thinking. Everyone's really worked up about this doll! Hopefully the manufactured doll comes out looking like the promo pic. If so, she will be pure doll perfection.. So. Can't. Wait. That's it for Operetta (so far), but this Die-ner doll may just be good enough that it's all we really need from Operetta this year (alongside the PD doll, of course).

Best Operetta yet, easily.

Howleen Wolf has one doll this year, part of the 13 Wishes line. Reactions from fans are mixed-to-positive. I really don't have much else to say. I'm kind of over Howleen, I think. I like this new doll, but I'd be fine if they stop releasing Howleen dolls altogether.

That's it for Part 1 -- tune back in for Part 2, where we'll be taking a closer look at Rochelle, Venus, Scarah Screams, new characters Gigi and Twyla, and many more! Til next time!


  1. Any idea when the music fest two pack will hit stores? I am willing to spend big money just to get a Clawd, but if the two pack is coming real soon, I may just wait...

    1. Welcome, Kris! We haven't gotten hard dates yet, but the Music Festival dolls (and presumably the 2-Pack exclusive), are said to be set for a fall release. That means they'll likely start hitting store shelves sometime this summer. MHInsider - mhinsider.tumblr.com - speculates that the Music Festival 2-Pack will be a KMart exclusive, but again, no hard facts on them yet. Hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I'm going to disagree with you on 13 Wishes Frankie & Clawdeen.
    I think their outfits are the best part about them!
    I noticed in this video (at 2:08) that Clawdeen's purple overskirt seems to be removable with a gold waist band hidden under her fabulous belt. I could be wrong, but without it, instant party dress! Awesome! Also loving the use of crescent moons & animal print combined with the zipper motif she loves (and no green, woohoo!).
    And Frankie's dress is gorgeous with it's angular cuts and contrasting colours.
    As for their faceups, I think Clawdeen is too monochromatic (all gold and hardly any purple), while Frankie's soft pink lips clash with the rest of her. I would have given her deep electric blue lips & some blue in her eye makeup.
    I do, however, agree with you on 13 wishes Draculaura. But who knows? Maybe I'll change my mind on them when they're released.

    As for Howleen I feel like she's too similar to Clawdeen 2.0 a.k.a. School's Out. I put a comparison on my flickr. The decription is from here.

    1. I hadn't noticed that about Clawdeen's skirt -- I hope you're right! That would be a big plus imo, because the skirts are a lot of what I don't like about them. I feel the outfits are just a bit too "foofy" for my taste, but I can see the appeal for some. :) I do love Frankie's hair, mostly because the muted blue streaks are something new for her.

      Wow, seeing SO Clawdeen and Howleen side by side they really are very similar! Not just the color palettes, but even the silhouettes, right down to the height of the boots! I do love Howleen's leather-look jacket! Actually, overall I really like this Howleen in general, but I'm just not a big fan of the character. I'm also not that into the shorter stature of her dolls. I far prefer the taller height of Nefera. I *love* her doll and wish we were getting multiple releases of her instead of Howleen.

    2. I love Howleen's jacket, too.
      I might just buy her for it. :D

    3. Hey, I just noticed something!
      That black dress (sans-overskirt) 13 Wishes Clawdeen wears bears a striking resemblance to the dress Draculaura wears with her roadster. The dress is short & form fitting, with an elaborate print, and the mesh part above the bust is a halter style.
      Actually, while I'm at it, ILF Scarah's green dress is also very similar, albeit in shape alone. Her's reminds me of the original Star Trek ladies' uniforms & the metallic costumes the alien women wore. I love it! I also love her flipped-out hair.
      Wait. I love everything about her!

    4. Hmm, good observation! I actually like the Roadster dress; if Clawdeen's skirt is indeed removable (it definitely looks like it is), I may have just found an "in" with that outfit. As for ILF Scarah -- there's nothing about her that's *not* amazing. Most anticipated 2013 doll for me!

    5. Here's a picture I edited of Frankie Stein 13 Wishes;
      That is how I imagined she *should* have looked.

    6. Thanks Listie :) Frankie is so very stun-gorge there! (Aka stunning and gorgeous) Frankie makes me sigh like a schoolgirl lol -- love her so much.

  3. I think these dolls are for the Halloween special, hence the fancy outfits. But I can understand why these dolls don't appeal to you (and others). I find the tinsel to be a nuisance on the fancier dolls.
    I love Frankie's hair too. I think this is only the second time she's had coloured streaks in her hair? After SKRM.

    Would also love to see more Nefera dolls. She & Cleo have such an interesting sibling rivalry dynamic. Like that scene in Ghouls Rule & the dilemna in Vol. 2 webisodes.
    Not to mention her diary, where she comes off as rude & haughty, but I feel she's also really lonely & insecure, maybe even a bit jealous of her younger sister?
    They're much more interesting than the Wolf sisters (and brother).

    1. In general tinsel=bad to me lol. Off the top of my head I can't think of any other Frankie dolls with colored streaks. Although her Sweet 1600 doll did have enough tinsel to practically be considered another hair color (gag). lol

      I agree that Cleo and Nefera have a more interesting dynamic than Clawdeen, Howleen, and Clawd. With the wolves it's more just the annoyances of having a large family and dealing with siblings of different ages. Cleo and Nefera are sort of lead on by their father in trying to win his approval, and he puts it in their heads that they are royalty and should be treated as such. Plus they are a lot alike in some ways and close in age, and Cleo has to live in Nefera's shadow. It's really interesting. I also like Nefera's diary, it gave us more insight into how she thinks and lets us see what motivates her. Unfortunately I feel that, for the most part, Nefera is pretty one-dimensional in the webseries. But I loved her diary.

    2. Aww... sweet 1600 Frankie isn't that bad. :(
      (I bought her mainly for her dress & skullette key)
      Too much tinsel, though. And a bad hair rooting job.
      I took it out of the ponytail & under that fringe & side swept hair it's kinda sparse. Oops. Oh well.
      I washed it too, so her tinsel is poking out in different directions, she's like Donald Trump just got out of a roofless convertible. haha


      But like I said, I mainly got her for her outfit & I may end up customising her.

    3. That Donald Trump quip has me literally lol'ing!

      It's funny you mention her dress -- I bought the doll too, just for that amazing dress! It's one of my absolute favorites! I love the unique silhouette, print, material, and way it lays over the bust -- it's really interesting and eye-catching! Funnily enough, though, I actually prefer it on my Ghoulia dolls rather than my Frankies.

    4. I wasn't joking about the bad hair (well, maybe a little).
      I posted a couple of pics on Flickr showing her thinly-rooted hair sans-ponytail.
      Pretty awful, isn't it?

    5. Yikes! Yeah that's terrible. Maybe a boil wash followed by ice water rinse would de-wackify it? Can't do much about thin rooting though :(

  4. I have another question for you haha. Have you ever attended SDCC 2010, 2011, or 2012? I guess a better question is if you own any of the limited editions or plan on owning one. I am SUPER psyched to go to SDCC this summer-my first time ever! And the only reason I'm going is for MH of course! I liked all three SDCC exclusive dolls so far but I want them to release something REALLY special this year so I can get my hands on it! Yay! Really hoping it's not Invisibilly. I love female dolls I don't care for male dolls at all. His doll may look cool but he won't have the gorgeous MH female body, hair, or makeup! Or clothes! Do you know if Mattel releases info on who or what the exclusive is before the con even starts? If so, when? Because I can't wait to find out!

    1. How awesome to go to SDCC! Congrats! Call it a hunch, but I have a feeling you'll have a blast! :D Unfortunately I've never been, and I don't own any of the SDCC dolls, either. (The only one I'd really want of the ones so far is DF Ghoulia -- I so covet that doll!)

      I'm on the same page with you about male dolls -- what fun is a doll with short (or no) hair to brush, and wearing boring guy clothes? Not much fun at all, if you ask me. lol

      I'm not sure how far ahead of the actual Con info on the exclusive is released -- I'm terrible with remembering dates on stuff like that. When I include that kind of info in any of my reviews I always have to research it and remind myself of when things were released.

  5. Yes! DF Ghoulia is amazing! She'll definitely be my first buy out of the three if I ever have enough money and she isn't all gone...
    The only male dolls I'll probably ever own are from packs with a female doll. Well if they ever do release the info, I'm sure you'll find out about it and hopefully write about it here!

  6. I love the box art of 'Mad Science' Classroom Ghoulia & Cleo.
    Their expressions remind me of Munch's 'The Scream' & Angelica Pickles from 'Rugrats', respectively. So hilarious. XD
    Ghoulia's dress also reminds me of the Periodic Elements Table & also a crossword puzzle. We shall see what the pattern really is when she's released.
    It's nice to see them together (alone) for once, as they are best friends.

    1. I can totally see that, especially Ghoulia's "Munch" face! lol

      I love Ghoulia's dress -- I can't recall seeing any other Ghoulia outfit that was quite this bright and made up of so many different colors! The pattern Scrabble pattern is super cool, too. I also like how the lab coats are coordinated with the dresses. And yes, seeing these two besties packaged together is nice.

    2. Turns out I was right about Ghoulia's dress pattern;
      It is a peridoc table of elements insprired dress featuring words like 'monster', 'freaky fab' and 'scary cute'.
      And Cleo's dress features DNA strands over her usual mummy wraps.
      They're so clever & subtle. :)

    3. Good eye! That HQ pic has me salivating. WANT!