Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Create-A-Monster Ice and Blob Girls

Create-A-Monster has always been a fascinating line. The idea behind it is pretty great: you buy starter packs containing enough parts to build two complete dolls. The dolls come unassembled and you put them together yourself. The starter packs can be augmented with several different add-on packs, bought separately. The idea is that you can mix and match the parts any way you like, creating your own unique monster. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Well, there were a few problems. Initially the two doll starter packs only came with one torso, meaning you could technically only build one doll at a time. This was met with much consternation from fans and collectors, and Mattel quickly went about re-releasing the first wave packs with two torsos. Now all starter packs include two torsos. The add-on packs didn't include torsos, or upper limbs for that matter, either. Again, fans were rather displeased about this. In response to the add-on torso controversy, Mattel released a special set of add-on torsos you could buy from their online store. Unfortunately, Mattel insists on continuing to release add-ons sans torsos. They learned with the starter packs so I don't really understand why they're still not including them with the add-ons. Seems kind of cheap and stingy if you ask me.

It's worth noting that CAMs have been a real blessing for customizers, who can build, paint, and mod their customs much more easily using CAM parts. The CAMs have also been influential on the designs of full-scale character dolls. Most notable is the Skeleton Girl add-on, an obvious  precursor to Skelita Calaveras.

We've seen a lot of unique monsters introduced through the CAM lines. Witches, Insect Girls, Sea Monsters, Dragons, the list goes on. Today I'll be looking at one of the newest CAM starter kits, the Blob/Ice Girl set. Starter kits come in a large, clear plastic box. The box doubles as a case, holding all the various doll parts in different compartments. This is actually pretty handy as it helps you keep everything in order. This becomes more helpful the more starter kits you accrue. Unfortunately, one bad thing about this packaging is that, rather than using a drawing of the characters like you always see on the boxes for the standard dolls, here a real picture is used. Aside from the fact that it's just not as fun as a drawing, there's the fact that the dolls are shown "mixed up", with their body parts all mismatched. I know this is done to highlight the "anything goes" nature of these sets, but it's really just not very attractive. And who besides maybe small children actually use the CAMs this way? If people were actually using them this way then there never would've been any controversy over the torsos and upper limbs in the first place. Not helping matters is that the Blob Girl looks like some weird elfen pixie in the cover pic. Not flattering, and not indicative of the actual doll you'll be getting. But hey, it could be worse: at least these aren't as bad as those AWFUL, TERRIBLE CGI renderings they used for the Ghouls Rule boxes. (Seriously, hate the CGI!)

But I digress. Let's talk about the dolls. This set contains enough parts to "create" two dolls. Our characters here are a Blob Girl and an Ice Girl. Since these two have fairly straightforward body types there are no "odd" pieces included, like tails or wings or clip-on ears. You get two wigs, one of kanekalon fiber, the other of molded plastic. You'll also get two dresses and one pair of shoes. I have to admit, loving shoes as much as I do, that I wish we got two pairs here, but only having the one pair isn't a deal breaker or anything. Looking at the pieces it's pretty clear which ones are for Blob Girl and which ones are for Ice Girl, and I'm not gonna deviate from that for this review. First, let's take a look at Blob Girl.

Miss Blob has a body of translucent, glittery, hot pink plastic. Since the body is translucent you can see the inner workings of the joints pretty well. The only place you can't see through are the lower legs, which aren't hollow. They're also just a tad darker than the rest of her body. She has some floating "blob" liquid molded onto her lower arms, otherwise her limbs are smooth. She also has the "finger point" hand mold, one of my personal favorites because it gives the dolls a little more versatility of expression. Although from the beginning I've felt the CAMs feel rather sturdy, Blob Girl feels a little sturdier than usual once put together. I'd say she actually comes very close to a standard doll in terms of how tight her joints feel, and how well they hold poses.

Blob Girl's head is made of hot pink, glittery plastic. Her face is both adorable and pretty. She's cute! She has large, orange eyes in a human shape -- no dragon-slit pupils or anything. Her makeup consists of hot pink eyeliner above the eye, and electric blue below it. It's all surrounded by a thick layer of light blue eyeshadow. She has fuchsia eyebrows and matching, glossy, fuchsia lips in a puckered shape.

In a new development for the CAMs, Blob Girl's wig is made of molded plastic rather than fiber. When I first learned of this I was skeptical. I love being able to brush my dolls' hair, and obviously you can't brush molded plastic. Once I actually had the doll in my hands and her wig in place I was totally won over! Miss Blob's wig is a hot pink flip. It features some "oozing liquid" molding, tying to her Blob theme, and flips outward just below her ears. Unlike the fiber wigs, which use a spear placed in the doll's head to hold it in place, the molded wig just clips lightly onto the head. It's rather heavy but stays in place remarkably well. There's something retro about it, a bit 60s. It's totally cute!

Blob Girl wears a minidress of aqua blue with a print of hot pink, liquid splotches on the bodice. It has short sleeves worn off the shoulder. Mine came out of the box with some frayed hemming on the left sleeve, but the dress can still be worn just fine. The material for the dress is a smooth knit. Although it's simple I really like this dress! The colors are pleasing and the print is interesting. I also like how the sleeves are worn off the shoulder. Paired with the dress is the set's shoes, simple hot pink numbers with dripping liquid heels, and matching ankle straps. Not amazing shoes, but not bad, either.

Next we have the real draw of this set for me, Ice Girl! Like Blob Girl, she has a translucent body showcasing her joints inside. Her non-hollow lower legs are a tad darker than the rest of her body, and look a little smoother, too. Being an Ice Girl, her entire body is molded of sharp angles and flat surfaces. Think of her as a really big, anthropomorphized Abbey purse.

Ice Girl's head is made of a beautiful, translucent blue plastic. Her eyes feature irises of blue and lavender stripes (very cool), and her simple makeup consists entirely of lavender shadow that surrounds the eye. There's no other colors here, just the lavender. Her eyebrows are dark purple while her lips are a gorgeous frosted pink. I gotta say, I love this doll's face! The striped irises are such a great, subtle effect -- it's just very unique. The frosted pink lips really pop! And the translucent plastic gives her an otherwordly radiance; she really glows! She's simply stunning.

Her hair is a wig of kanekalon fiber. It's not rooted very thickly but it looks good just the same. In fact, I'd say these kanekalon wigs look much better with the thick wig caps than the other hair fibers do. Ice Girl's hair is straight, landing above her rear. She also has bangs. The dominant color is ice blue although there are quite a few hot pink streaks mixed in, as well. Those pink streaks play off her frosted lips perfectly.

Seriously, this doll is gorgeous. Can we swap her out with Abbey as the "icey cold" main character?

Ice Girl's dress is another triumph of simplicity. She wears a halter dress in black. It has a print of snowflakes encased in blue diamonds. Interspersed among them are hot pink embellishments. There are also horizontal stripes of light pink and white icicles. It's not as busy as it sounds; in fact, it looks great! The colors all compliment her body, face, and hair, and the black anchors everything. Since Blob Girl wore the shoes with the pack, I paired the purple heels from Abbey's most recent fashion pack with Ice Girl's outfit.

Overall grade: A In general the materials used for the CAMs seems to be improving. There were a lot of complaints about the quality of the CAM wigs and Mattel seems to be responding with the higher quality kanekalon wigs, augmented with the new molded wigs. The bodies for this set feel sturdier than previous CAMs. Using translucent plastic for the bodies adds a lot of visual interest, and in general this set feels particularly creative. The Blob Girl feels retro and a bit kitschy, while the Ice Girl comes across a tad more glamorous and ethereal. Both faces are incredibly pretty, and the translucent plastic of the heads, particularly on the Ice Girl, gives off a beautiful, otherwordly glow. The outfits, while simple, are colorful, visually pleasing, and play into each character's theme in a fun way. All in all I'm very pleased with this set. The Ice Girl, who I'm totally loving in particular at the moment, may be my favorite CAM yet. She's stunning.

For a bit of fun I swapped their wigs. Take a look...


  1. I love this set so much!
    One of the toys stores here was having a sale a couple of weeks ago, CAM sets for only 10 euro's a piece, and it was the first time I ever saw a CAM set here!
    I really wanted to get this one but when I got to the toy store they only had 2 mummy/gorgon packs (wich I'm not interested in) and they had the older dragon/werewolf pack (which surprised me). I wanted to get that one but the Dragon had a huge red spot on her nose so I ended up leaving it there.
    I wish they had the blob/ice girl set, that's my fave.

    Also, I forget to tell you in my other comment: I love the new look of the blog! Especially all those little pictures of the dolls, brilliant!

  2. 10 Euros for a CAM starter set isn't bad at all! I hope you find them soon, Dailey! :)

    I'm glad you like the new look! I created the new logo pic in Microsoft Digital Image Pro. It looked really sharp and clear in the program, but when I uploaded it to Blogger it blurred the shots for some reason. I might try to tweak it some and see if I can get a little clearer.

  3. It's great that Mattel are cottoning on to the fans' complaints about the CAMs. First, they add additional torsos, next, they add a second wig. With any luck, they'll start to add second pairs of shoes. My only complaint now is the hard caps on the dolls' heads. It makes rooting hair much more difficult (for customisers). :(

    As for these two, I love their clear bodies, it's a nice step up from the earlier CAMs. The ice girl in particular looks almost mechanical. I love her dress, too! Me thinks Abbey wouldn't mind stealing it. haha

    I wish I could buy these locally, but they're just too dog-gone expensive. :(
    Mind you, there's no such thing as a bugdet Monster High doll in New Zealand. Sucky

    BTW, what future CAM monsters would you like to see, John?
    I'd love a robot/alien pack (yeah, I know they're more sci-fi than horror, but still), a phoenix/demon pack, and maybe some CAMs based on Greek mythology. I'd also love a cecaelia (half woman half octopus) add-on pack, like the siren. :)

    1. It's a shame there's such a markup for the dolls in your area. What's the deal, Mattel? Not cool.
      As for monsters I'd like to see, hmm, tough to say. I've always thought chupacabra was pretty cool. I *love* your idea for a phoenix! I love the whole idea of the phoenix, and it's one of the three animals that represents my Scorpio sign, along with the scorpion and eagle. (Scorpio is the only sign to have three animal totems, btw).

    2. Yippee! Glad you like my idea! If not a CAM, I'd love an official phoenix-inspired character. I'd also really love a Valkyrie girl. With a skin colour a bit like Cleo, golden-blonde hair, and a boho chic style would look totally awesome, IMO!

      I'm actually working on an OC at the moment. She's a hybrid of the CAM sea monster & 3-eyed ghoul, with black skin and purple/blue/green hair. Her monster parentage is Argos Panoptes (father) & a Nereid (mother). Can't wait to finish her!

  4. Here's an example of how expensive the dolls & playsets are in New Zealand;
    The 'core' dolls are usually around $35 (depending on where you go), but the 'party' dolls & GA! dolls & most playsets are about $60 here. The coffin bean playset recently got released here, and it retails for $80.
    Hence why I buy most of my dolls on Amazon (usually 2 or 3 at a time), so even *with* shipping, it's still cheaper.
    So unfair. :(

    1. Yikes, those prices are *insane*! $60 for Ghouls Alive? Screw that, not worth it! At all! Ditto the CAM sets, which can be pretty cool, but not $60 cool. At least you've found a way around that ridiculousness. I can only imagine what Bloodgood will cost. Yeesh.

    2. I know, it's bullsh*t!
      According to Jonathan (pukunui81 on Flickr), we're going to get the Scaris 2-pack sometime, but I *know* it's gonna cost a crap load (hence why I asked for your help), as I told you on another post, my first dolls were the Cleo/Deuce 2-pack for $20 reduced from $70. I guess that's not *too* bad, seeing as when I bought them they were on clearance, and 70 ÷ 2 is 35, which is what signature dolls usually cost (and the boys are super popular).
      He also told me we're not gonna get Bloodgood, which is a shame, but that's life. :(
      I love Amazon, but I hate having to put lower price above doll quality, because with online shopping, you can't choose what you get.
      I hate to sound like an ungrateful b*tch, but it annoys me when Americans complain about prices & not getting things first. Sorry.

    3. Yeah, I've talked with other international readers about the problems with exclusives and how they don't always make it to other countries. Very uncool. I'm lucky in that I haven't come across anyone complaining about the US not getting things first, just the usual of people getting worked up about a doll that's hitting shelves but hasn't reached them yet, regardless of where it was spotted first. I do it too. When I see a doll has started hitting shelves I get impatient!