Black Carpet is the budget offshoot of the larger Frights Camera Action! line. Mattel has been offering multiple price point lines that all fall under one defining parent line since Scaris: City of Frights. It's a smart move on Mattel's part. It strengthens brand recognition, gives each new parent line a stronger thematic identity, and -- speculating on this one -- likely doesn't stretch the designers too thin, since they have fewer overarching themes to try and "prettify" each year.
Black Carpet consists of four dolls, each sold in the budget style slim box. Each doll's drawing looks like an odd amalgamation of the usual drawn box art and the CGI character designs seen in the various full-length specials. I'm no fan of the CGI and my feelings on these particular character drawings are mixed.
Everything else about the box art, however, is spectacular! The FCA logo is done in the style of an old theater marquee, with the line's name -- in a vintage b-movie horror-style font -- surrounded by lights. A small red skullette and decorative webs help to further monster-fy the signage. Under the marquee is the ghoul's name and heritage, accompanied by the Black Carpet moniker. It truly is the perfect marriage of vintage Hollywood and Monster High.
The box back consists of a full-length drawing of the four BC ghouls, under which you'll find a repeat of the marquee logo and a synopsis of the FCA storyline. Not too shabby! And if I may go one step further in my nerdy box art love, I even admire the design of the insert the dolls come attached to. It's a drawing of the roped off, titular carpet (though, oddly, the carpet is grey-white instead of black), leading to a set of old-school double doors. The carpet is surrounded by red-silhouetted press snapping flashbulb pictures. It's really cool!
Back when I reviewed Scaris Lagoona I noted how much I loved her small, Art Nouveau-style travel case. But I never wondered what it might look like if Mattel took that case's design and applied it to a whole doll. It doesn't matter either way because they went ahead and did just that!
Black Carpet Lagoona is a dramatic, Art Nouveau inspired doll who brings a few new things to the "Lagoona table". I love Lagoona, I love Art Nouveau, I love new things. She's ready for her closeup, Mr. DeMille, so let's dig in!
Lagoona's faceup consists of an arresting combination of dark reds and subdued pinks. Her eyeliner comes in brink, topped by a beautiful frosted pink that encircles the eye. The frosted pink has a fairly intense shimmer to it. These colors play perfectly with her shimmering, deep burgundy lips. Her eyes are their usual olive with lime accent. This is not a sweet-looking Lagoona. She has an air of seriousness to her; she's fierce and commanding.
Her long, curly hair is parted on her left. Lagoona's streaks have always come in varying shades of blue or aqua, with the exception of her 13 Wishes doll (a lone mint streak in her bangs), and her SRM doll (neon green). But for her walk down the black carpet Lagoona decided to switch things up, giving us extremely thick streaks of teal! It's almost incorrect to call the teal portions streaks as they take up the vast majority of her hair! It's a beautiful medium shade, not too dark and not too light. And it contrasts perfectly with her blonde streaks. These lush shades emphasize the dramatic nature of her faceup. As for the texture, well, it's not amazing. It's dry and a tad brittle, and when brushed gets very bushy. And yet I find myself totally loving it! What I hate most when it comes to doll hair is frizziness, not bushiness. This hair is malleable; you can style it big and bold, or take it down a notch for something a little more subdued. There are a lot of options here. Of course the dryness could easily be fixed with a boil wash, but personally I like it the way it is. It's wild and tousled and big and fun!
Lagoona's dress is a simple tank cut. What makes it stand out are the colors and prints. Yes, simple as it may be, I find this dress to be rather exquisite. Wide, metallic silver straps attach to a dress featuring an abstract print of Art Nouveau scales in pink, aqua, and black. Tiny white dots accent the scales. A thin, black ribbon waistband gives way to a three-tiered skirt that ends in a scallop cut at the hips. Underneath is a layer of solid, shining pink. The last tier is solid black and ends well above the knees. Like I said, simple yet exquisite.
Her light pink heels have some truly astounding molding. Strings of pearls wrap her ankles and surround her toes, while shells make up the heel caps that give way to horn stilettos. The shoes are solid pink except one large black pearl that rests over the strands wrapping her toes. Her shoes aren't the only accessory that impresses with detailed molding. She wears a huge teal necklace of multiple strands and layers of pearls. Charms of starfish, mollusks, seaweed, and more adorn each of the layers. The entire piece is molded to lay just so over the bust. Her solid black purse doesn't function, but compensates with yet more elaborate molding, including a handle of pearls, and several more strands that dangle underneath. Her last accessory is possibly my favorite: a black headband in the shape of a mollusk. Curling tentacles reach outwards and upwards. It's unique and funky and pure Lagoona.
Accompanying Lagoona on the black carpet is none other than miss Cleo De Nile. It's no secret that I've been highly disappointed in almost all of Cleo's 2013 dolls. The problem hasn't been with her designs this year but rather with her eyes, which Mattel saw fit to squinch and yet make oddly round at the same time. It simply wasn't Cleo, and I wasn't happy about it one bit. Luckily, Cleo's BC doll comes with the correct eyes: long, almond shaped, and just plain gorgeous.
Shimmering yellow-gold eyeshadow encircles the eye, while a thin, bright, orange-red strip runs right through the center of her thick black mascara. Her lips come in stark, deep, dark red. It's a bold face, no doubt about it. Do I like it as much as her Scaris faceup? No. But it's close! Honestly, getting the correct eyes back was enough to please me. The fact that this is such a beautiful faceup is simply icing on the cake.
Cleo's black hair is parted on her right, with mild waves cascading down her back and landing at her rear. She has bangs that curl under, while just a few thin wisps of teal emanate from her part. This may vary from doll to doll, but my Cleo has almost no teal at all. That's not a complaint. Though I love teal in Cleo's hair, having so little of it here only serves to emphasize just how dark her hair is. It's a dramatic look. The texture isn't as soft as her Classroom and Oasis dolls -- a plus in my opinion, since such soft hair simply wasn't "Cleo". Instead this hair is much closer in texture to her Scaris doll's hair. It's a tad coarse, but not overly so. It's also a tad dry but again, it's not so bad as to be a negative. Give me this hair any day over the too-soft Oasis hair, the tinseled Ghouls Rule hair, or whatever the hell that Picture Day hair was. Oh yeah, that reminds me -- BC Cleo has no tinsel! Hooray!
Like all the BC dolls, Cleo's dress comes in a simple tank cut. Sleeves of black netting adorned with gold sparkles give way to a wonderful print of Art Nouveau swooshes in teal, aqua, and black. They are accented by papaya dots of various sizes. At the waist is a hem that attaches the bodice to a slitted skirt that meets on her right. Black, sparkling netting matching the sleeves of the dress hangs below the skirt. This dress falls perfectly in line with Lagoona's. These BC dresses are simple and straightforward, with colors and embellishments that fit each character's overall theme, while still fitting into the BC theme via genuinely gorgeous, abstract, Art Nouvea inspired prints. They're very impressive.
All of Cleo's accessories are solid gold and beautifully molded. Her shoes are very abstract: entwined snakes wrap the ankle while a winged heel cap gives way to a studded sole and stiletto. A black jewel connects the panels that frame her toes. Her elaborate belt matches the shoes. A buckle of entwined snakes rest above Art Deco panels. Three strands of beads dangle below, showcasing four charms: two scarabs and two skullettes. So detailed is the molding that we can see these tiny skullettes are specifically Cleo's -- they have mummy bandages wrapping their heads! Cleo wears a goddess crown decorated with a scarab, it's wings open, on her left. On her right are two large snakes, curled and wrapped around each other. Three strands of beads dangle below them. Last but not least is Cleo's purse. A handle of beads connects to the body, which is decorated with a large scarab that grasps a large jewel both above and below it. Seven strands of beads dangle underneath the purse's body. Although it opens, this purse is very slim so I would consider it non-functioning.
Overall: These are both very impressive dolls. First the obvious: if their dresses were just a little more elaborate they wouldn't feel like budget dolls at all. There are so many great details to be found with these two, not the least of which is the incredibly detailed molding going on with their accessories. I love how these two feel very connected within their Black Carpet theme. Both have Art Nouveau inspired decorative touches, similarly cut dresses, their purses align nicely, and their shoes have a single, black jewel. And yet they're each correct within their own theme, as well. Lagoona comes across watery and nymph-like, Cleo queenly and Egyptian. They each have strengths unique to their respective doll. Lagoona is dramatic and fierce, sexy even. The use of teal in her hair is a small deviation from the norm for her, but it works so well. It adds immensely to the doll's beauty and overall appeal. As for Cleo, I'm just glad to have her correct eyes back! Luckily the doll they're painted on is pretty damn fab anyway. If you ask me, these two make the budget dolls we got over the past year look downright silly. My interest in Monster High had been waning a bit, largely due to diminishing quality control standards and some rather uninspired designs. With Black Carpet, Mattel has reignited not just my passion for MH, but my faith in the line as a whole. I'm more excited than ever to see what else they have in store for us in the fantastic little world they've created with these dolls. Monster High has gotten it's mojo back.