Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review: Skultimate Roller Maze Clawdeen Wolf

I've had a long running affection for the Skultimate Roller Maze line. Every doll has a beautifully colorful face and neon green-streaked hair, and they've all come with stands and collector's cards. (Consider me an ephemerite 'cuz I love me some collector's cards!) Although the green streaks work better for some than others, with each doll its nonetheless given us a fairly unique hairstyle for that character. All the dolls have benefited from the bright makeup. Abbey in particular can be very predictable makeup-wise; her day-glo SRM face breathed new life into the character. As for the others, they simply looked great with all those vibrant shades decorating their eyes and lips. For me the only downside to the line has been the outfits; they're not bad by any means, but they've hardly been the stuff of fashion greatness.

We learned last year that a Clawdeen doll would be released in SRM form in 2013, and even got to preview her at San Diego Comic Con. To be completely honest I wasn't very excited by her. Clawdeen dolls already have a tendency towards neon green hair (it's one of her signifying colors), and she can generally be counted on to have a bright, colorful face. Including her in the line hardly seemed like an inspired idea. I should've kept in mind that when it comes to Monster High, these dolls can have a way of surprising you.

Before we get to the doll, let's have a look at her box back. It's pretty much in keeping with the other SRM dolls' boxes. No storyline or synopsis is given of what the line is about. It does, however, have a large pic of Clawdeen skating alongside the other SRM characters (well, except poor Ghoulia, who got the boot once Clawdeen's doll came on the scene). Unless I'm forgetting a scene from the Friday Night Frights special that promotes this line, they never skated in a roller rink like the one we see in the picture. Perhaps this pic is meant to represent the video game instead of the special. I don't have the game -- do they hit the roller rink in it? Whatever the case, there's also a closeup pic of Clawdeen, her purple and green hair billowing behind her in large curls. She looks great in the drawing, and we're given an accompanying quote: "You can't fang with me!" It's very Clawdeen -- full of attitude and confidence.

I placed the front of Clawdeen's collector's card at the top of this review; here's the back. The ghouls all look great, of course...

Now that we've investigated the box, let's get a good look at this new Clawdeen...

Surprise! I don't know if it was the so-so quality of the preview pics we got to see of SRM Clawdeen that threw me off or what, but this doll is quite the unexpected knockout! Not only that, but she's brought a few changes to the established tropes of this line. (Wait, can a doll line have tropes? Eh, let's just go with it!) It seems we have yet another stun-gorge Clawdeen on our hands here! This is her fourth 2013 release, and not counting her Ghouls Alive doll, they've all been fantastic! Perhaps even more impressively, they've all managed to be very different from each other, while all still feeling true to the character.

In a vast break from the other dolls in this line, SRM Clawdeen has a rather subdued faceup. She has eyeliner above the eye in "SRM green", but it's much more muted than what we saw on the other dolls. Beyond this, the only other color utilized around the eye is a shimmering bronze. It tops the green eyeliner and goes all the way to the brow. A minuscule strip also runs under the eye. Contrast this with the hot pinks, lemon yellows, and electric blues we saw on the other dolls and Clawdeen seems downright earthy by comparison. She makes up for this comparative lack of flash with another break from the other dolls: a thick coat of multi-colored glitter that lays atop the bronze shadow. Clawdeen's lip color is pure pink and semi-matte. The shade is rather light and matches the bronze shadow perfectly. The overall effect here is one of natural beauty, at least as far as that term can be applied to Monster High. You have to admire Mattel's sense of irony here: they took arguably the flashiest character in all of MH, put her in one of the flashiest lines we've seen yet... and gave her the mellowest face of any of the dolls. It works a charm, that's for sure. After two very high octane dolls in a row (Scaris and Power Ghouls), this laidback faceup is as appreciated as it is unexpected.

This time around Clawdeen has no brown whatsoever in her hair. Aside from the standard neon green streaks (which are particularly thin and wispy here), her hair is solid lavender. We've seen this before on her Ghouls Rule doll. What makes it great here is that, for starters, the texture is much better. This hair is soft, silky, and smooth. It's not dry in the least, nor is it prone to frizz (so far, at least). She has a part on her right in the front; the rest falls behind her ears unparted. It's all pulled into a tight ponytail to her left, where it cascades down her shoulder and arm in thick, lush curls. It's a great effect, the tightness of the crown giving way to the big waves of the loose hair. Clawdeen's hair can be very hit or miss in terms of quality -- here it's very much a hit.

From here on, Clawdeen aligns smoothly with the rest of the line. As a skate doll she comes with all the trappings: helmet, knee pads, skates. The helmet is solid neon green and has lots of random, leopard-ish spots molded into it. Sharp spikes line the center of the helmet and run from front to back. The chin strap is also spiked and leads to an abstract, geometric-shaped fastener. There are two boomerang-shaped holes cut into the helmet that slide perfectly over Clawdeen's ears. I didn't like how my other dolls looked in the helmets but I feel Clawdeen pulls the look off well. I think a lot of the reason is because her hairstyle simply works better with the helmet than the other dolls' did. Or maybe she just has the right attitude to pull it off? I'm not sure, but I've taken a lot more pics of her wearing the helmet than I did any of my other dolls. I figure that's gotta say something good about it.

Clawdeen wears matching solid green knee pads with a skullette molded into them. As with the other dolls, these stay on surprisingly well considering they just loosely clip onto the legs. Her skates have a solid purple body with more leopard spot molding. The top and hood are lined with spikes. The soles are green and have a row of spikes running the spine; the wheels are black and green. The skates are very pliable so they're easy to put on and take off, and the doll stands really well in them. In general the SRM skates have all been of good quality. It's kind of a shame I can't get more into this theme because it's being pulled off well.

Like the other SRM dolls Clawdeen wears a minidress made of a smooth knit, ending about halfway down the thigh. Most of the bodice is neon green with a black leopard print. On her right, the dress is solid black with two vertical runs of purple thread. There's no sleeve on her right. On the left is the leopard print, topped by a triangle of solid black material that works as the collar. Attached to it is a full length sleeve of green mesh. In the back the two pieces meet in the middle -- solid black on her right, leopard print on her left. The triangular collar and bottom of the dress are hemmed with orange thread. It's an interesting dress; there's a variety of textures, colors, and shapes. It's undeniably snazzy. And yet, for some reason, it doesn't really work for me. I feel this way about all the SRM dresses; they all have interesting things going on and are very unique, but I don't really like any of them. I think it's because they come across very much as "doll dresses". They don't seem rooted in real fashion; they're flashy toy outfits. Which is fine, of course. These are toys -- it's just not my thing.

The skate gear serves as Clawdeen's accessories. She doesn't have a purse, earrings, etc. She comes with a neon green stand (yay!), and the collector's card I mentioned earlier (another yay!).

Overall grade: A I know I've been giving a lot of A's lately, but everything lately has been good. That includes SRM Clawdeen. She has a beautiful faceup that's pretty scaled-back for this character. That it's for a Skultimate Roller Maze doll is doubly surprising. Coming off the heels of Scaris and Power Ghouls it's a real change of pace; Clawdeen is relaxed and mellow this time around. I especially love her hair and would say it's the best thing about this doll. The texture is the best we've had for a Clawdeen doll in a while. The colors are familiar territory but they fit this theme well; the style is new for Clawdeen and it simply looks amazing. The outfit and skate gear are ultimately neither here nor there for me. That goes for all the SRM dolls, not just Clawdeen. I don't especially like them but I can recognize that they're well-made. All that said, SRM has turned out to be one of my favorite MH lines. The real strength of these dolls has been the faces and hair. Clothes can always be changed.


  1. Maybe I'm imagining things, but, I think Mattel is getting a little bit lazy lately when it comes to colouring the little details of the shoes.
    Anyway, the doll looks great.

    1. You're not imagining things, Ainara. Over the past year or so Mattel has been painting in the details less and less. At this point it's pretty rare that a pair of shoes will have all its' molded details painted. It's unfortunate, because otherwise MH shoes are still the best around.