Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: Picture Day Draculaura

"And now I find.... I've changed my mind..."

Back in the early 90's, as acid house was becoming the defining sound of that era's rave scene, Madonna was asked her opinion of this new style of music. "Techno equals death" was her succinct response. Nearly ten years later, after becoming the first artist to successfully bring electronica to the mainstream with her Ray of Light album, British dance music magazine Mixmag took her to task for her words, asking how she went from hating "techno" to becoming the de facto voice for it within the mainstream. She answered with a question of her own: "Aren't I allowed to change my mind?"

That quote is bouncing 'round my head as I begin this review. Likely because I imagine many of you are wondering why exactly the guy who made it clear he wouldn't be purchasing this doll now owns, and is reviewing, her. The short answer: I changed my mind. During my many doll runs over the past few months I've had the chance to inspect Picture Day Draculaura in person. She started growing on me. About a month ago I went so far as to actually buy her. I kept her boxed and hemmed on hawed about keeping her before I finally returned her. Last week I bought her again and this time it stuck. It took a while, but her pretty pink cuteness eventually won me over. Considering it was this very same scenario that lead to me buying Scaris Draculaura, I'm starting to wonder if there's some sort of diabolical genius behind Mattel's insistence on releasing so damn many Draculaura dolls. Whatever the situation, Picture Day Draculaura is now a part of my collection, and as you saw in the post title up there, today's review subject.

Wait, who are we talking about?

Oh, yeah!

Picture Day has been around long enough now that its been accepted as a new basics line. This time around Mattel switched things up by delivering the dolls to us in boxes themed to a school picture day. Looking at it now, this is a really clever way of giving us new dolls in basic outfits, but without having to do all that work of writing diary entries for the characters that develop new stories that may or may not mesh with the webseries. The included Fearbooks put the emphasis on the wide range of characters Mattel has developed at this point without coming across too "braggy" about it. And hey, stickers! Who doesn't love stickers? I know I do! No, really, I love these stickers. For that matter, I love this line. It's fun, it's a unique approach to doll presentation, and it's given us some great MH clothes. Picture Day Spectra's outfit in particular is an example of Mattel at their fashion forward best.

But what of Picture Day Draculaura? Well, for starters there's her school picture. All of the school pictures in this line have been great, and Draculaura's is no different. As you saw above, you can't actually see her in it. She's a vampire, remember? Can't be photographed. Instead we see her clothes, earrings, and headband seemingly floating in mid-air. Pure MH.

She of course includes the requisite Fearbook and sticker sheet...

And then there's the doll!

"God, you don't even know how glad I am 2012 is over! Aren't my new clothes fab? Why yes, I did get my eyes re-enlarged, as a matter of fact!"

As I've pointed out numerous times on the blog, 2013 has been good to Draculaura (so far). Among her three 2013 dolls (to date, of course), we've gotten interesting faceups, nice hair, and unexpected outfits. Quite a change from Draculaura 2012, aka Miss Zzzzz. For her Picture Day incarnation we've got bold darks and reds covering that face, with only a hint of the snore-inducing pink. Her eyes have a thin strip of eyeliner in a muted shade of fuchsia. Surrounding the entire eye is a thick layer of very dark grey eyeshadow. Dramatic, indeed. A translucent silver shimmer goes to her brows. Her semi-glossy lips come in pure red -- not candy apple red, not blood red, just red. I make the distinction because those other two reds have elements of pink in them while pure red doesn't, and her lips don't either. The only true pink to be found on this face is her cheek heart, light pink outlined in darker pink. But we see this so often on Draculaura its become almost an afterthought for me, I don't even notice it. In this case I just pretend it's not there. So yeah, this is one fantastic faceup for our favorite veggie-loving vampire. Dark and dramatic, yet friendly and sweet. Hey Mattel, more of this please!

Draculaura has bangs that come in an even mixture of pink and black. She has two thin pigtails knotted into small balls on her left and right that are mostly black but do have a few very thin pink streaks. The rest of her hair hangs loosely, landing below her rear with a mild wave. There's no pink at all here. My doll came out of the box with some nasty, flat, ratty hair. I boiled only the long portion in back and voila! Great hair!

I love Picture Day Draculaura's outfit. Of her three basic outfits -- Wave 1, School's Out, and today's doll -- this is easily my favorite. She wears a sleeveless, formfitting top in white with a black lace print. It has a wide black collar hemmed with white lace. The detail in the lace is astounding considering how tiny it is. Across the bust is a hot pink bow of ribbon. It's sewn into the hems of the shirt so it lays tightly. Two ribbons dangle below the bow, landing at the navel. Paired with the shirt is a hot pink skirt that lands a little below the thigh. It has a wide elastic waistband worn over the shirt. The skirt is pleated at the waistband where it flares into a large bell. Towards the bottom of the bell is a hem and more pleating where you'll find a decorative black print. Poking out under the skirt is a thin run of black netting. Everything looks and feels nice. Using elastic instead of a Velcro closure is extremely rare in MH fashion and works wonderfully here. It goes a long way in helping the bell of the skirt hold it's shape, not to mention it just plain looks great.

Draculaura wears black wedges with criss-crossing straps that climb her leg, ending in bows just below her calf. The wedges have some interesting "swoosh" details molded into them, and two tiny white skullettes adorn each shoe. In continuing the whaaat? tradition established by the other Picture Day purses, Draculaura carries a fuchsia heart-shaped purse that opens... from the bottom. Seems a bit impractical, no? Girl, it may look cute, but all your stuff's gonna fall out. Could be embarrassing. Don't say I didn't warn you. Anyway, it has some molded liquid running down it and a couple of cute little bats for good measure. The back is solid black and attaches to a simple handle.

In one of my favorite touches, Draculaura's earrings are dangling cameos of skull and crossbones. They're fuchsia while the skulls are white. Love these! For a while now Mattel has been sneaking elements of kawaii into Draculaura's fashion. This time it comes in the form of a fuchsia headband with a large bow attached. The bow is centered by a skull and crossbones that matches her earrings. I'm totally down with kawaii and am glad Mattel is, too. More, please! Her last accessory is her fuchsia Trapper Keeper-style folder.

Overall grade: A With Picture Day Draculaura Mattel has given her somewhat tired Lolita look a nice, hard, PUNK kick in the pants! Surely she (or one of Mattel's designers), shops at Heavy Red. Seriously, I love this look so much. The Victorian Lolita standbys are here, but the shoes, earrings and top scream punk. It's London 1870 meets NYC 1980. And it's all topped off (quite literally), with a cute kawaii bow. Beyond the clothes, Draculaura just plain looks cool here. Her makeup -- dramatic, fierce, and sweet, all at the same time. As I mentioned, this doll initially had some ratty hair, but it was such an easy fix! Now it's pretty much perfect. I know I've mentioned several times that I'm not a Draculaura fan, and I'm still not. But I'm fair enough to say when a doll impresses me and deserves your attention. And Picture Day Draculaura did and does. End of.


  1. Oh my-
    When I saw the photos of this Draculaura I was like WHAT? That doll REALLY is Draculaura? I mean, her face, to begin, almost hasn't got pink! But it stills looking like Draculaura! Okay Mattel, you deserve an applause for realizing that a doll can look sweet and Draculaura-ish (?) without TONS of pink!

    1. My thoughts exactly! If they made more Draculauras like this one, where she isn't overly sweet and not too pink, I'd probably be a bigger fan of her.

  2. She looks so cute in these pictures!
    I also love her outfit, her shoes are not the most complicated MH shoes but I actually really, really like them!
    Her make-up looks very special, that heavy eyeshadow together with those red lips make for an interesting faceup.
    The special elements like her awesome but impractical purse and elastic instead of velcro for the skirt make this Draculaura stand out from others.
    Spectra is still my fave from this line though, I can't help it!
    I wonder how PD Lagoona will stand up against these other fierce ghouls.

    1. Yep, there's definitely something "special" about this Draculaura that raises her above her typical dolls. The extra-dark and dramatic eyeshadow goes a long way in giving her some personality beyond just being "sweet". As for the rest of the PD dolls, I can't wait for any of them. My feelings are mixed on Operetta's original basic doll so I'm glad we're getting a new one of her (and I love her letterman jacket and new mask!) I'm a huge Frankie fanboy and PD Frankie looks incredible -- I'm loving the bright yellow they've added to her color pallette, and her face looks extra bright and colorful. Nice long ponytail, too. As for Lagoona, I know a lot of people find her dolls to be "samey", but I love them so much. They always stand out on the shelf, even if they do all look a little too much alike. I'm eager to see Lagoona with thicker curls like her PD doll has. It looks very glam. Hopefully the manufactured doll comes out like the promo picture.

    2. I'm really excited for PD Operetta, too! Her promo pic looks very promising.
      I don't find Lagoona dolls ''samey'' at all. Maybe that's just because I'm a big Lagoona fan but I feel that every Lagoona has a different vibe over her.
      Take for example Classroom Lagoona: She has a very sweet expression with her light pink lips and soft looking hair and DotD Lagoona with her fierce looking blue make-up and mohawk hair.
      Two completely different Lagoona's!

    3. I definitely agree ones like DOTD and the new Swim doll really stand out from the others. But I can see where others are coming from when it comes to some of her other dolls. I still love them all, though! Lagoona's the girl that got me hooked!

  3. I usually pretty much agree with you on all your reviews (and im a huge fan of yours... btw) but... i just don't agree with you on this draculaura review, yes i believe its better than some draculauras but i prefer a more subtle draculaura like the wave 2 dead tired doll... i think this draculaura looks a little racoonish and the top part of the dress is great but the bottom should have a better look than just a dull cotton, maybe a silk or mesh type (idk) i just wasn't impressed with it ... i have a lot of the different mh collections and every character in the collection starting at the 1600 dolls and all the way through to picture day and out of all the dolls i have picture day draculaura is my least favorite... any way im thinking about posting some pics of my collection on my face book page you should check me out sometime... (BTW... i think your cute !!)

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ricky! There's no rule that readers have to agree with my reviews. I'm always open to hearing others' opinions on the dolls, even if they're different from mine! :) I can actually see where you're coming from about the racoon-ish eyes. I've heard others say that about this doll. I got that same racoon-ish vibe from DDG Draculaura. When they surround her eyes with such a thick layer of eyeshadow it does create that kind of effect. For some reason the elasticized skirt just really works for me; I think a lot of it is because we just don't see that hardly ever in MH fashion. Thanks for sharing your Facebook, I'll have to check out your dolls, and thank you for the compliment. :)