Ashlynn Ella, daughter of Cinderella, and Hunter Huntsman, son of, uh, "The Huntsman", (is his dad's name Huntsman Huntsman?), are star-crossed lovers. Well, not lovers, but star-crossed crushes. Taking a page from the Bard, Royal Ashlynn and Rebel Hunter aren't supposed to be together. It goes against their established destinies. And the whole point of the students attending Ever After High is to fulfill their pre-determined destinies. This is all covered in Ashlynn and Hunter's storybooks. (As signature dolls, both include their own storybook packaged with them.) As with the solo signature dolls, I like Ashlynn and Hunter's storybooks quite a bit. They're fun, funny, occasionally dramatic, and further define the fictional world these characters inhabit. The included sketchbook doodles and handwritten margin notes add personality to the books and give us a clearer picture of what these characters are like as people. The storybooks are just plain cool and I hope they never go away.
Like the other EAH dolls, Ashlynn and Hunter come in a box meant to mimic a storybook. This includes the spine, where you'll find a picture of the couple encased in an oval frame. The back of the box is split in two, with each side devoted to one of the characters. We're given a small bio of and brief interview with each character. Continuing this line's running theme of duality, color schemes come into play as everything Ashlynn-related is backed by pink while Hunter gets green. Hunter's color scheme is especially fitting given his name is quite literally a shade of green.
Actually, speaking of Hunter, let's start our doll coverage with him. My review of Hunter is a bit of a landmark moment for Voicething as he's the first male doll I've ever reviewed! I know approximately 75% of you are stamping your feet and saying, "But he's not a Monster High doll, John!" But rest assured, compared to the MH male dolls, Hunter blows them all away. In fact, he makes them look downright wimpy. He may not be a monster, but he's damn sexy -- and so perfectly manufactured he's a virtual marvel of playline doll design.
Hunter has a moderately tan skintone. His hair is basically a mohawk, with dark brown felting on the sides. In the middle his hair is mid-length and lays to his left. I'm not even gonna pretend to be cool enough to know what this style is actually called. (I don't keep up with younger hairstyles for guys. I'm 33 for God's sake.) But it looks great, especially once you rinse the "helmet-gel" out. He has a chiseled -- but not overly so -- facemold. High-ish cheekbones, wide chin, strong nose, and surprisingly flat forehead and eyes. One would've thought his forehead would be super-pronounced and the eyes extremely deep-set, but nope. The strongest chiseling here is his jawline. It's strong and pronounced but not unnatural looking.
His faceup is all earth tones, fitting for a male doll. Thick brown eyebrows (with just a hint of "messiness" at the edges to butch him up) give way to brown eyes with subtle yellow iris stripes. The eyes are lined in reddish-brown, with a black stripe delineating his eyelids. Curiously, the tops of his eyes are somewhat blocky rather than rounded. I'm not really sure why they did this but it works. Above the eyes is extremely light pink-brown shading. I'm guessing this was done to add depth and texture to the overall face. Hunter's mouth is molded into a neutral expression; the color is a light, fleshy, pink.
At the risk of sounding like a weirdo, Hunter's body mold is a sight to behold. If you're expecting a repeat of the MH male body you're in for quite a surprise! Hunter's body is what you might get if you combined vintage G.I. Joe with He-Man. He's buff and tough, to say the least. A rather prominent chest gives way to 8-pack abs. His shoulders are almost cartoonishly broad while his biceps give He-Man a run for his money. Even his forearms are muscly! His hands are large, with long fingers and rather prominent knuckles. The fingers of his right hand are bent into a loose grasping position, those of his left hand are more outstretched. His thighs are muscled, as well, but not overly so. They give way to strong knee caps and rather straightforward shins. His feet are big. Make of that what you will. From the back, he has muscles molded along his neck and between his shoulders. Everything else is standard, though I must say he has quite a tush! He is articulated at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. His head joint works extremely well -- far better than any of the female EAH and MH dolls.
Hunter wears a sleeveless, v-neck shirt in an abstract forest print. The greens range from natural to fluorescent while the browns go from light to so dark they're black. The shirt is paired with tan jeans with occasional light splotches. I suppose these are to signify his "lower" status among the royals? Attached to one of his belt loops is a really cool ring baring what look to be charms, a feather, and an amulet. Hmm, wonder what that's all about? Over the shirt he wears a hooded top of green, cuffed sleeves. The hood and breast pieces feature a leather-look print in a soft material, while the back of the shirt has a brown paisley print (love me some paisley!), in a much more coarse, nylon-esque material. Non-functioning drawstrings dangle from the hood.
As you've probably noticed, everything about Hunter involves earth tones -- all greens and browns, everything featuring earthy prints. The theme continues with his accessories. And holy crap, are his accessories amazing! We'll start small: he wears a dark brown, leather-look bracelet on his right wrist. It's got some impressive molding going on given how small it is. Matching the bracelet is his satchel. Wow, is this thing cool! It has a ridged strap and non-functioning clasp which connects to the bag. The connectors are highly detailed and rotate in their sockets. Impressive! The satchel is hard and features molded stitching all over. A rigid lid can be raised to place things inside. The bottom right features a silver emblem of some sort. This same emblem can be seen on one of Hunter's belt loop amulets. Anyone know what this is? The entire piece has a strong medieval feel to it. This obviously fits perfectly into Hunter's overall theme. The last pieces to discuss are Hunter's boots. We all know I love me some shoes, and it seems this isn't limited to the females! Hunter's boots are highly detailed, almost ridiculously so. Although they really only feature two colors -- brown and black -- there's just so much going on here! Straps, ties, cuffs, rivets -- it's all here. But what really makes them work is the use of shading. Sure, the only colors are brown and black, but the shading involved adds such a strong sense of depth and realism. It's truly awe-inspiring and makes me wish every set of doll shoes had this much detail and depth. And in keeping with everything else involving this doll, they perfectly match his theme.
And then there was Ashlynn. Ohhh, Ashlynn. Okay, lemme take a step back. First things first: yes, Ashlynn's is a new facemold for EAH! The biggest difference is in the lips. Ashlynn's are much fuller, plumper. Although her face is just as round as the other dolls, I believe hers is also just a tad taller, subtracting somewhat from the "moonface" effect the initial four dolls had. I could be wrong on that, but that's what I see. The nose, chin, and eye molds look the same to me.
Ashlynn has a tan skintone, similar to Maddie's but minus the pinky undertones of that doll. The best thing about this skintone is that it makes Ashlynn's bold, green eyes pop even more than they normally would. Yes, Ashlynn's eyes are a stunning primary green with emerald undertones. Her irises are highlighted with lime. Prominent black lashes cover lavender eyeliner and salmon eyeshadow. Her light brown eyebrows have a strong arch, giving her just a little more attitude than the other signature dolls. Her full lips come in pure pink. We see a return of the silver reflective dots on her lower lip, which were first "spotted" (heh) on the first four dolls but had disappeared by Legacy Day. Combined with Ashlynn's extra-pouty lips, these dots give her a particularly dewy look. Her cheeks have a light dusting of rose blush, almost unnoticeable.
Ashlynn has wavy, strawberry blonde hair that ends just above her knees. (Yes, it's very long.) I'm not gonna lie, Ashlynn's hairstyle is very fussy and may involve a lot of upkeep. Although the texture was initially quite nice, after just two mild brushings, I found that it got very bushy. Not frizzy per se, but definitely bushy. I've since given her a boil wash (braiding it tightly so as not to lose the wave), and am much happier with it. The style involves two ponytails, a small braid that wraps her head, a bun, and no less than three different parts. There's a lot going on here. But if you're as dedicated to the Ashlynn cause as I am you'll be more than happy to put in the work to keep this hairstyle looking good, because it really is a beautiful look.
Ashlynn wears a tulip dress dominated by the rococo mainstays of turquoise, gold and rose. (Fitting, given Cinderella's Parisian roots.) The bodice features sparkling turquoise pieces that form a "V", behind which is a print of pink blossoms against a white and turquoise background. The pieces are hemmed in thick, sparkling gold ribbon. The shoulders are covered in puffed, bright rose silk that connects to aqua netting that's bound twice before flaring dramatically around the wrists. The skirt features the same blossom print seen on the bodice. It ends a bit above the knee. Laying over the skirt is more aqua netting, this time decorated with a sparkling gold print of vines and flowers. You'll notice this dress has a vaguely Japanese feel to it. There's a reason for this. (Look it up. Ahem.) I have to say, it's very clever on Mattel's part. Good job!
As far as accessories go, Ashlynn's generally revolve around shoes, clocks, and birds. Very fitting, thematically. Her earrings are gold "pearls" with a dangling high heel. Super cute! She wears a matching gold charm bracelet showcasing even more shoes. The gold fetish continues with a pearl necklace featuring a clock charm, and a ring with a tiny bird resting atop the band. (I love this ring a lot, but if I had a dime for every time I've dropped and nearly lost it, well, I'd have like eighty cents. Still, the thing slides off way too easily!)
Ashlynn's non-functioning purse is an Ormolu Cartel clock (yes, I looked it up), ornately detailed in the Louis XVI style (I already knew that). And yes, the clock is about to strike midnight! Better get a move on, Ashlynn! Your fairy tale is about to become a total fairy fail! (God I hate cutesy puns.) Moving on, the only accessories of Ashlynn's that don't involve gold at all are her ornate, pink headband/tiara, and her shoes. Her shoes are indeed glass slippers, but they come in an opaque turquoise and feature vines that wind up her calves. Which leaves me wondering -- are the vines also glass? Doesn't that seem impractical? Like, to an insane degree? Those vines would be so fragile. And right there against one's fleshy calves? Ouch. Well, whatever the case, they look great, what with their feather-like body and vine-y heels. And hey, there's pain in beauty -- it comes with the territory. (Being a guy, this is probably much easier for me to say than if I were female.) But just go along with the joke, okay? Two stands are included -- gold for Ashlynn, silver for Hunter. In a slight variation, the rod of the stands is clear. Only one brush -- in gold, so we know it's Ashlynn's -- is included. But obviously you can use it on Hunter, as well.
Overall: Just go buy the set. Ashlynn is arguably the best EAH doll to date. (I give the edge to signature Apple, but I know most would disagree.) Hunter is the best playline male doll to come along in a long, long time. Sorry fellow MH fanatics, but it's true. He puts the MH males to shame. Yep. As with all of the signature EAH dolls, details are abundant and rich, from presentation, to setup (the storybooks are genius and just plain fun), to design. (Hello, they incorporated Japan's history with France into Ashlynn's dress! Do you know how effing cool that is?!?) This 2-pack isn't a case of one great doll, one meh doll, as so often happens with these types of releases. Both of these dolls are outstanding. Like I said -- just go buy the set. You won't regret it.