All week Mattel has been revealing the Ever After High dolls, one doll each day. The four core characters have all been revealed, with the possible Ashlynn Ella/Hunter 2-pack maybe being shown today. Response to the dolls has been very mixed. Even some who were into the line based on the webisodes have expressed disappointment. I think a lot of MH fans (myself included), thought EAH would be an edgy take on fairy tales, basically what MH is to classic monsters. While EAH is certainly more edgy than your typical princess doll line it definitely doesn't have the cool factor that MH has. As soon as we saw the webisodes and character designs I knew I needed to adjust my expectations. Mattel is pretty clearly aiming this line towards a somewhat younger demographic than MH. I bolded that line because it's probably the single most important thing one needs to keep in mind when considering EAH. I'll be upfront -- I love these dolls. And I think a lot of it is because I eventually realized -- and accepted -- that this wasn't going to be Monster High in a princess dress. Mattel probably shouldn't have launched EAH as a MH spinoff. I think people would be more accepting of EAH if it had been launched as it's own thing. In any case they are two different lines, and despite some similarities the appeal of each is unique. If you want more Monster High, well, there's always Monster High! There's no need to look to Ever After High for that since we already have Monster High. Ever After High is carving out it's own identity -- and it's a pretty great one if you ask me! Let's look at the dolls...
First up we have Raven Queen. I don't think Mattel could've done a better job of matching the doll to the character design! This is 100% the character from the webisodes. Great job, Mattel! Raven was the first doll revealed, and is clearly the lead character for the line (the Frankie, if you will). Immediately you notice how gigantic the doll's head is, it's very full and round. She looks a tad younger than the MH girls. Everything here looks really nice to me. Her outfit has a good mix of textures and the colors are deep and rich. The use of chains on various pieces give her a hint of punk while still playing into her queen theme. (By the way, anyone else getting shades of Rose Petal Place from the skirt?) Her hair is super long and looks very nice. I'd say we have a fifty-fifty chance of the manufactured doll having hair that nice. Her purse is a combination of minimalist studs and an ornate clasp. But the best thing about Raven is her eyes. Aside from the beautiful violet color they're detailed and striking. There's just a hint of fierceness there. Her eyeshadow is much more subtle than what you find on MH dolls. A smart choice on Mattel's part, if you ask me. In a running theme for this line, her shoes are rather amazing. Notice the shadowed silhouette of a raven behind her? Great touch!
Oh lordy, where to start with Apple White? What a beautiful doll! She doesn't quite match up with her character design like Raven does; if anything, she's even better than the character design! Her hair falls in long, blonde tendrils, perfectly matching the shades of red and pink in her dress. She has beautiful, watery, ice blue eyes. Notice how the lightly shaded grey eyeshadow plays off the blue? So nice. Again, there's just a hint of fierceness in these eyes. There are so many great details here! The ribbon crown, jeweled apple purse, bow tie shoes -- all fantastic. I can't tell if her ring is another bow or a butterfly. Either way it definitely works. It's here that we get confirmation that these dolls all use the same headmold. Disappointing, no doubt about it, but within the confines of the mold Mattel has managed to offer some variety among the dolls. All of Apple's colors play off each other well, not just in the dress and hair but even the blue of her eyes and the golds used for the jewelry. She comes across as effortlessly put together, a breath of fresh air compared to the overt color schemes of the other dolls. Impressive.
In Disney's version of Sleeping Beauty two of the fairies battle over what color Aurora's dress should be. Flora wants pink, Merryweather wants blue. I'm definitely a Merryweather -- "Make it blue!" Besides the suffocating PINK, Briar Beauty has a few other minor problems. Her tiara sunglasses are a clever touch but I wish the lenses were a more realistic dark color. I also would've liked her ring and bracelet to have been silver like her earrings. My last complaint is about the shoes. Nice design, but why aren't those details painted in? Briar is literally stepping off on the wrong foot in those solid pink shoes. Everything else is close to perfect. She has a caramel skin tone that plays off her pink eyes and auburn hair nicely. Like the other dolls she has plenty of small details. Most impressive to me are the thorn-wrapped tights. I'm also digging the choker/shoulder pad piece. Again I'm getting Rose Petal Place from the skirt, not a bad thing. I could be wrong but looking at Briar I'm thinking these dolls will have the matte facial screening seen on some newer doll lines. The recent Oz dolls had this style of screening and I really liked it. It's pretty different from how MH dolls are screened and I have a feeling it will be the final nail in the coffin of this line for some people. Well, if that really is how they're screened -- like I said, I could be wrong.
Finally there's Madeline Hatter. Here is where I see the only real problem for this line in using one headmold. Madeline's doll doesn't come anywhere near capturing the manic quality of the character, and I feel it's because of the mouth. Were that mouth opened into a wide smile showing the white of her teeth she'd be the excitable character we know from the webisodes. As it is she looks subdued, more thoughtful than manic. Not that she's unattractive, mind you. She has that distant, contemplative expression I'm such a sucker for in dolls. If anything, she's a serene beauty. It's just not right for this particular character. Beyond that, she's faithful to the character design. She's bright and lively, a bold mixture of colors and prints. There's a lot going on here but she's not garish in the least. Her teapot purse plays off the teacup headband, while her painted hands contrast her polka dot tights. (Speaking of, I love that all four dolls wear tights! I think I've mentioned in previous posts how much I love tights on dolls, and I mean it. Seriously, they add so much to dolls, especially these four.) Her curly hair is a cool combination of mint and grape. It looks great in the pic but I'm worried about how it'll be manufactured. To be honest, I hope it comes with the curls gelled into a helmet that we have to loosen ourselves. That's the only way I can see it working. Her upward glancing eyes look to be the largest of the four dolls, and her pearl and gold shoes are the best of the bunch. Despite the disconnect between character design and doll, Maddy is my favorite of the four after Apple.
Even though there are a few minor problems with a couple of the dolls I absolutely love them. The last time I was this excited for a new doll line was, well, Monster High. In fact, once the dolls are released I'll be switching the blog to full time coverage of EAH!* After all, once EAH takes off Mattel will be closing down MH anyway.** In the meantime a new webisode has been posted...
* Just kidding!
** Don't believe everything you hear.
Update: Came across a group shot of the dolls and it looks like Madeline will be a shorter doll than the others. You probably know I'm mixed at best when it comes to the shorter dolls. But I'm hoping her colorful design and general beauty can overcome any negative feelings I might have about her shorter stature. Anyway, check out the pic. I think the ladies look even better grouped together than they did in their solo shots!