Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

The princesses got dressed up as their favorite ghouls for Halloween this year!

Because she's rocking this outfit so hard and so right she made your mama look twice, here's a few more Apple shots.

It really is getting out of hand how I have yet to put this doll in anything she doesn't look flawless wearing.

Deal with the devil, Apple? If so -- it was totally worth it.

So, uh, Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Fashion Sticker Stylist

When I'm out on a doll run I'm a pretty focused guy. I generally know what I want, and that's what I zero in on at each store I visit. Each time I find myself in the MH section of any given store, my attention is devoted exclusively to the dolls. If it's not a doll or playset or doll-containing playset I really don't give a crap. There's literally hundreds of non-doll MH-related items for sale. These things litter the MH section of the toy aisle, usually forming a sort of day-glo perimeter around the dolls; a tacky ring of sorts consisting of nasty cosplay wig hair, cheap makeup, and weird electronic devices shaped like bats that I imagine break after two plays. Over the years I've gotten better and better at completely ignoring these items as I look through the dolls. Sure, they're there in my periphery, but I ain't about to waste my precious doll-hunting time actually, you know, looking at them.

But maybe I should re-think my approach. Just a few days ago I came across a clearance section at Kmart. This wasn't in the toy aisles but rather adjacent to them. Immediately that oh-so-familiar crest and pink and blue color scheme jumped out at me. They had MH stuff on clearance! Cool! I did some browsing and came across a cool-looking book called Fashion Sticker Stylist. It was hardbound, had a shiny, foiled cover, and was spiral bound inside, containing pages and pages of stickers, character drawings, color swatches, and more. Taking a closer look, I saw that it was a book devoted to using stickers of MH fashions to dress paper doll-esque representations of the core six ghouls, plus Spectra and Abbey! Holy crap! This kind of thing is so completely right up my alley that I practically could've created it myself (if Mattel would hire me and yadda yadda yadda). Anyway, finding this gem of a book is the Voicething equivalent to Indiana Jones finding the Holy Grail. I was sufficiently blown away. I didn't even have to think twice -- into the shopping cart went this glorious thing called Fashion Sticker Stylist, and with it a whole lot of happiness. (Since, as I'm sure you fellow capitalists know, happiness can be bought. Heh.)

First things first: based on the ghouls and outfits included in the book, in addition to the fact that I found it in the clearance bin, I'm guessing this came out last year at the very latest. It's definitely built around the wave two basics (aka School's Out). Which next has me wondering -- why the hell didn't you guys tell me this thing existed?!? You guys know I love paper ephemera, drawings of the ghouls, paper dolls, stickers. This thing's obviously been out quite a while! I almost feel betrayed! But hey, it's cool, nobody's perfect. (But especially you guys. Feel the shame. Come on, feel it. We're not continuing on until you guys feel ashamed and sorry for leaving me out in the cold on this truly amazing book.)

Okay, okay. I kid. How about we take a look!

In a refreshing change, instead of the usual "Big Three", we get Cleo on the cover of an MH product rather than Draculaura. As it should be. The ghouls are wearing their SO outfits -- sweet! And there on the side, large and prominent, we see Frankie's DOTD dress. I'm in love already. Oh, and even though it doesn't come across in the scan, everything is outlined in shining, silver foil. Even Frankie's hair is shiny foil. It's really cool.

Here's the back. The 700 stickers advertised seems to be true. I haven't counted -- and I won't -- but when you see the insides you won't doubt this claim.

Here's the front-inside cover. It doubles as the "example" page, aka, this is how you're supposed to use this product. Frankie looks gorgeous here in her SO outfit (duh). The swatches chosen match her outfit, and the lightning bolt and large skullette earrings are a nice decorative touch. I don't know who this "Rachel" is, but she did a great job. She clearly operates on my wavelength because her chosen event for Frankie is "Shopping spree!". And I have to agree with her, this look really is "Perfect for a day of spooky shopping!" Can I come too? (In my mind, Frankie and I are besties. Kidding! Sort of.)

The first real pages of the book are two sheets of what can be considered "Grade A Extra Fancy" stickers. They're thick and holographic, and the second page of stickers have some glitter thrown on them for good measure. Unfortunately, due to the spiral binding and thickness of the stickers, these didn't scan perfectly. But you get the idea. (I love how at the top, "stickers" is followed by an exclamation point. Whoever created this knows me and my tastes extremely well.)

There's some great stuff here: GB Cleo's fan, Neptuna in Lagoona's fishbowl purse, Ula's tophat, and the ghouls initial monster emblems, among other things.

The next two pages offer compacts, lipstick, skullettes, and blush cases. My favorite touch? Each of the lipstick tubes is individualized to a certain ghoul. So cute!

Next come three pages of swatches. If you're into colors and studying varying shades, these skullettes are definitely fun. Even more fun are the actual swatches. So many prints, colors, styles. Some of them are surprising, such as the swatch of GB Clawdeen's swimsuit print, or the print of Cleo's SO top. Others, such as Ghoulia's cherry print, are expected, but nice to see anyway.

Now the real fun begins! We get three pages of nothing but accessories!

They're mostly focused on shoes and purses (as they should be), but we also get headbands, belts, earrings, bracelets, you name it. (Special shout out to Lagoona's DOTD shoes! They were great then, and they're still great now. Even in sticker form!)

There are also several random, unexpected items: Lagoona's wave one FP boogie board, Draculaura's GB sunblock, and more.

Now we're talkin'! Each ghoul gets one sheet of clothing stickers. All the ghouls get their wave one and/or SO outfit, in addition to DOTD, GB, DT, and more.

Frankie, unsurprisingly, gets lots and lots of fashions! Wave One, SO, Fearleading uniforum, DOTD, GB, DT, Day at the Maul, plus a few small extras. I approve!

This page makes me really happy. That's all.

Plenty of fashions for Lagoona! I don't recognize those aqua shorts with pink waistband and matching top in the lower left hand corner at all. Is this yet another example of me being a "flop fan", or were these made from a prototype fashion that never got released?

Lots of cool outfits for Ghoulia, of course! And again we have a few mystery pieces. Maybe Mattel threw in some "filler stickers" to help fill the book up. But it'd also be really cool if these were planned fashions that never got made.

With Abbey and Spectra things get especially interesting. Since they were the newest ghouls on the block when this book was made, we get lots of random outfits that were never released for them. Check out this version of Abbey's SS outfit. I like this way more than the outfit we got!

This page makes me almost as happy as Cleo's did. And look at all the random outfits! It looks like they designed a DT outfit for Spectra in the style of Wave One. I'm totally digging that bodysuit between the two skirts. And the minidress with black corset looks eerily similar to her 13 Wishes dress. I'm loving the black jacket, black top, miniskirt with netting, and silver cummerbund. Please release this stuff, Mattel!

And last but not least, we have our ghouls.

I won't go on about these too much. You get three sheets each for Clawdeen, Frankie, Draculaura, and Cleo. You only get two sheets for Ghoulia, Lagoona, Abbey, and Spectra.

All the characters hold the same pose, so in theory all the fashion stickers will work on any ghoul. But we all know how clash-y most clothes swaps among these ladies can be.

I do like how, in addition to the actual outfits, you can add swatches and colorized skullettes and little decorative touches. It makes it a little more immersive, I imagine.

Overall: Well I just love this thing! If MH dolls are like typical fashion dolls on steroids, these are basically the same thing, but for paper dolls. That said, there are a few negatives I see here compared to "classic" paper dolls. Since you're using stickers, your options are limited. Once you choose an outfit for a "doll", that's it -- no turning back, no trading the outfit out for another one if you get bored of the one you picked. And if you mess up while applying the sticker, too bad! Also, while you get loads of fashions for each character, you only get two or three "dolls" for each one. In my opinion, there should've been at least four of each doll. Besides these complaints, the Fashion Sticker Stylist is totally cool. Since it was released (I'm guessing) around the time of Wave Two, the fashions here are among some of the best we've ever seen for MH. It was definitely a "golden age" for MH fashion. I'm glad this came out then instead of, say, now. The swatches, colorized skullettes, and "Extra Fancy" stickers add a level of play never possible with classic paper dolls. If you like what you see here, or just like paper dolls or stickers or collecting MH ephemera, this book is definitely for you! But like I said, I found this in the clearance bin, so if you want it you probably better act fast!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Abbey the Great and Powerful

Throughout history, long, wild hair has been associated with power. Not just any power; I'm talking about the kind that taps into something intangible, metaphysical, even occultic. And more often than not this intangible power has been linked to women. It was once believed that for a witch to tap into the highest force, her hair must be wild and untamed. Even in modern times, loose, feminine locks connote a sort of strength (though it's often connected to carnality, as well). Whatever the case, be it openly or subconsciously, a woman with big, tousled, wild hair is seen as a force to be reckoned with. And if that really is the case, then Haunt The Casbah Abbey Bominable must be the most powerful woman on Earth...

Um... wow.

I mean, there's just so much of it! And it's so big. And it's doing about three different things all at the same time: it's curly except where it's straight, braided and banded and under control in front besides that portion where it isn't, a buoyant bouffant except where it's flat.

Her faceup is pretty great. Not amazing, but not bad by any means. I know the yellow-gold eyeshadow is new for Abbey, but for me the most noteworthy thing about this faceup is that it has somehow managed to make her "angry" eyes look a little more friendly. I'm not so into the angry eyes so this seemingly softer expression gets a big thumbs up from me.

Like all the HTC dolls, my history with this Abbey is checkered. When she was unveiled at SDCC, I thought she looked pretty amazing. When I started seeing the actual doll on store shelves my mind changed. Every single one I looked at had insane, messy, tragic hair. I finally found one I liked a few weeks ago and bought her. Once I got home I hemmed and hawed over her, never taking her out of the box. I eventually returned her.

Earlier this week I found another one I liked and bought. Again I hemmed and hawed, but this time I decided to keep her; out of the box she came! (By the way, this pose combined with that giant mane of curls reminds me of early-80's Barbie box drawings. Love it!)

I feel my diligence in holding off on HTC Abbey, and patience in finding just the right one, paid off. In my opinion this is one of the best HTC Abbeys you're gonna lay your eyes on, either in person or online.

Compared to the other HTC dolls Abbey's outfit seems a bit simple.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a plain or boring outfit by any means! It's very detailed!

It's just that it doesn't seem to have quite as much going on. The others' outfits have removable layers to varying degrees; not so, Abbey's dress.

It looks great anyway, of course. I love the snowflake pattern on the outer layer of tulle. The black, grey, and white colors combined with the style of draping gives the look a ghostly vibe. (Change the colors and print and this would've been great on Spectra.)

The snowflakes are sparkling gold on the outside, white underneath. Since the skirt is pleated both sides face outward, creating a nice contrast.

All of Abbey's accessories (except her shoes and lantern) are solid, sparkling gold. In general the various pieces are smaller in size compared to the other HTC dolls. I like this a lot -- it subtracts greatly from the "gaudy factor".

I'm glad I held out for the right HTC Abbey; I got one that leaves me feeling surprisingly impressed with this release. Given how HTC Draculaura turned out, Abbey could've been an even bigger disaster. Luckily that's not the case.

See you in Art Class, Abbey!