I have been a fan of Mattel products since I was a little girl. At the age of six, I enjoyed endless hours of “Barbie Time” on Saturday mornings when I didn’t have to go to school. I have been a supporter of them for YEARS. Even as an adult, I still collect their products.
I have been a collector of the Barbie doll, Generation Girl Barbie, Diva Starz, Polly Pocket, What’s Her Face, Flavas, Myscene, American Girl/Girls of Many Lands, Monster High, and now Ever After High. I’ve always been swept up in Mattel’s products immediately. They always have captivating ideas to work with when they first release a doll line.
But while I am a fan of Mattel’s doll lines, I have slowly but surely become to be frustrated with the ACTUAL company. I am not a fan of Mattel. I love their ideas, but I hate their maintenance practices. I collect many other dolls, like Liv, Ever Girl, Lisa Frank, Magic Attic Club, Global Friends, etc. Though many of those dolls weren’t as commercially successful as Mattel’s dolls, their companies have been much more decent. Sure, many of their doll lines didn’t last, but many times they never came back making the same mistakes over and over…
I also collect Bratz. Bratz have something that the other doll lines don’t have. Not only has Bratz been a really cool idea, but MGA is a top-notch company that LISTENS to it’s fans and always seems to remember what makes their product as popular as it is. They are open to new ideas FROM FANS and they implement change without destroying the beauty of what they create.
I can’t say the same thing about Mattel. Despite the many cool ideas they come up with, in the long run, Mattel follows one similar pattern that ends up destroying many of the beautiful lines they make.
On a positive note, unlike other companies who fail and give up, I admire the fact that Mattel doesn’t give up after they fail. They may lose one doll line, sure, but they always come up with new lines, and just try it all over again. And I always get sucked up one more time.
But then, the results always turn out the same. Why? Well, while Mattel is always making superficial changes and inventing new ideas, they never really change the CORE issues before they move on to new lines. The core issues may never be present from the beginning, but oh boy, I always start to hear the same complaints from fans later down the line. Many of these fans are not usually familiar with Mattel’s tactics and don’t often recognize why things are going so sour. But people who have been fans of all of their doll lines always know what to expect from this company.
It’s even more evident when Mattel’s sales have dropped. They have these “fail-safe” tactics that they feel will get them quick money, even if the ideas end up destroying the line in the long run. I call this moment the “Panic Strategy”. They come in 14 different forms.
To me, they are 14 ways Mattel Can Screw up a perfect doll line.
1) Attack of the Pink
This is one of Mattel’s iconic “Panic Strategies”. Since their success of “pink” Barbie, they have deduced from Barbie’s “pink” success that girls must love pink an awful lot. It must be true for Mattel because all of their most successful dolls wear an awful lot of pink. The problem is that Mattel may see the success of ONE doll and apply that same color to the WHOLE LINE.
I’m not going to say that every doll who wears pink will sell, and this is where this strategy fails every time.
There is only so much pink a company can do before it gets redundant and sickening. Pastel Pink is a very frilly color that is hard to keep clean, so even though girls like it, it always ends up in the trash bin. The over-emphasized pink stamps out individuality and variety. It also sends out the message that everything “girl” should be one pretty color that identifies a gender, though we all know that “pink” began as a boy’s color…
I’m going to show you how often this happens using five examples: Diva Starz, Myscene, Monster High, American Girl,and the Barbie doll herself.
The Diva Starz line began as one of the first “diverse” lines that Mattel ever came out with. At the time when Diva Starz arrived on the scene, many companies wanted to make dolls that celebrated diversity instead of dolls that celebrated “white supremacy”. Mattel, unfortunately, had the reputation of highlighting blonde white dolls over ethnically diverse dolls. Diva Stars was their original plan to rid itself of that reputation. They were inspired from the Spice Girls, a very diverse pop music group.
Diva Starz began with each girl wearing their own unique color. The only girl who wore a whole lot of pink was Alexa. The other girls wore their own signature colors. Mattel usually starts off this way.
Unfortunately, I suppose, the signature color thing “limits” the company’s creativity, so this ends up changing in the end all the time…
And what color did it change to? Well, the moment the Diva Starz’s sells started plummeting, what did they release? Another doll in pink! In fact, they translated pink to all their characters, no longer displaying the same diversity they began with! Instead of succeeding, however, it just made sales plummet faster until Diva Starz was a thing of the past. I am so happy that Diva Starz didn’t continue with Mattel because the pink would never end! I enjoy finding even more diverse clothes for them.
Myscene was another doll line that followed Diva Starz in it’s tracks. Myscene began as a competitor to the popular Bratz dolls in 2002. Again, Mattel was still trying to remove their reputation of being a “white supremacy” doll company by creating another diverse line of dolls. This time, however, many little girls had stopped playing with dolls much sooner than generations before. Many little girls were more interested in pop singers. Barbie was getting too “babyish” with all of the pink. The Bratz related to modern girls. So, Mattel came with it’s “mature” doll line, Myscene. Myscene were prettier versions of the Bratz and more stylish versions of Barbie. They were very multi-faceted and not stereotypical at all. They had their own diverse personalities and interests. Their fashion styles had many urban details. They were meant to portray New York styles, which they did quite well. Even though they were still Barbies and Barbie was still the lead character, they almost didn’t feel or look like Barbies. Barbie didn’t wear pink. She wore many various colors, most of which were not pink.
But then the lawsuits came from MGA. This put a damper on the doll line. Mattel was losing money from these court cases and sales began to plummet. What was Mattel’s solution? To replace Barbie with Kennedy. Now, they thought this was a good idea. Their logic was that Myscene was still too “connected with Barbie”, which they thought was the reason behind Myscene’s plummeting sales, so they decided to get rid of the lead character, Barbie. And who did they replace Barbie with? Someone who had a different name, but was MORE BARBIE-like than the original Barbie! Kennedy wore a heavy dosage of pink! Next thing we know, the Myscene line is re-vamped to include this heavy dosage of pink, destroying the mature and urban feeling of this line. They really missed the point entirely.
Monster High is another good example. Monster High began as a freaky cool line. It took off unexpectedly a few years back. It began as a diverse ghoul line. What made this line so unique was that no one was human. This line didn’t have the same “cultural” problems the other lines had. No one was Caucasian, African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or anything else. This line avoided the same cultural pitfalls many doll lines have. Each doll had their own signature colors. And the best part? The lead character, Frankie, did not wear PINK! It appealed to “darker” people, those attracted to “darker” themes. It was fitting for Halloween. Halloween colors don’t tend to be pink…
Frankie USED to be the main character. Now it appears the pink-fluff vampire character, Draculaura, is the main character. I mean, she was the lead in almost every movie. Frankie almost seems like an obsolete member. After the popularity of Draculaura, because suddenly everyone is obsessed with vampires, PINK became the new “it” color. And it seemed like every character that came after sported more and more pink.
Fairy-tale dolls, particularly Disney’s dolls, are heavily cutting into the Monster High market. With that, Mattel has once again used it’s tactic of Attack of the Pink.
While GiGi Grant’s sister looked more original and cool, she never got a doll. But here comes Miss Pink GiGi with her boring and unoriginal doll.
Not that Monster High doesn’t have enough Were-Cats, but one of their additions to the line also sports pink.
They even thought they could get away with making a serpent’s hair PINK! What snake in the world is pink?
They have so many dolls sporting pink more than any other color, this line is hardly feeling like a “dark” and “edgy” ghoul line anymore. But what really makes the whole thing obvious is the complete change they made to characters that were never originally “pink”. One character: Howleen
Howleen’s original hair color was orange. She was meant to be original and spunky-not like the other girls. She had the edge that made her stand out. But no. They had to go and turn her into a less original character by changing her hair PINK! They took the original detail, the thing that made this doll stand out, and threw it away.
It’s a bit sad. I really thought Monster High would be the line that would break the pink mold. I guess not, since apparently that’s all girls seem to like nowadays, according to Mattel’s demographic research.
American Girl has even jumped on the trend. American Girl is supposed to be a doll line focusing on bringing timeless stories about girls from the past to the future and relating it to girls of today. These stories are better highlighted with matching dolls. The doll line used to be filled with authentic and period-accurate clothing that could impress even the most skeptical historians, such as myself. It came in various colors and fabrics. It expressed the diversity of the characters, as well as educated children about fashion from the past. American Girl also consists of contemporary dolls that represent the girls of today. They also came with an array of clothing and accessories. Girl of the Year was once just as diverse as the historical line.
But suddenly, just recently, American Girl decided to dye everything in pink. From their most recent Girl of the Year, whose wardrobes are drenched in pink, to over half of their historical dolls, Pink seems to be the signature American Girl color. Even the packaging has been changed from red to PINK. Instead of hitting off the ground, it’s really hurting American Girl. There are so many colors in the rainbow. Many items in the past may have never been pink. And today, we have so many various colors in our stores! So why constantly shoot for pink? They even stuck Kit, a character who supposedly hates pink according to her story, in pink! Girl of the Year 2014 is model pink!
Mattel will do anything to insert it’s pink paradise. Apparently, they think pink is the only way to make some money. While it may work at first, too much of this kills doll lines. Not everyone relates to the color pink, and no one wants to see everyone wear pink. When they all look alike, no characters stand out.
Finally, I want to talk about Barbie. Many of you probably didn’t know this, but Barbie wasn’t always a pink princess.
Even Barbie had her moments where she suffered in the past. This is the reason Matt and El sold the company in the first place. Still, even after Barbie was sold, everything about her wasn’t pink. I had a Teacher Barbie that wore black.
Bu the “new” Mattel had this “idea” that pink would sell better. Suddenly, Barbie was transformed out of nowhere into this pink icon. Now, all she wears is pink! And we hardly see any “teacher” Barbies anymore. She’s become this shallow pink princess with no career goals…
I think the Barbie doll has now become the reason many people hate pink.
2) Attack of the Blondes
Mattel is very famous for it’s worship of blondies. In fact, many of Mattel’s leading girls are blonde. From Diva Starz, to Myscene, to Polly Pocket, blondes make up Mattel’s universe. I will admit, blondes can be ticket-selling points. But of course, many times the reason the blonde characters sell so much is because of, not only hair, BUT what’s she’s usually wearing, which is something that is usually prettier than all the other dolls.
American Girl Kirsten didn’t sell as much as Samantha, even though she was blonde. Perhaps that’s just it. Mattel usually puts their blondes in all of the pretty girlish outfits and puts their other characters in drab fashions. They usually give their blonde characters unique hairstyles and all of their brunette characters the “normal” looks. Kirsten was the first blonde doll that didn’t look like that…Then again, she wasn’t originally designed by Mattel.
Draculaura isn’t blonde and she sells well…so possibly, it’s not the blonde that does it. It’s the wardrobe you put with the doll. Mattel doesn’t always see it that way when tackling it’s “human”dolls.
In Mattel’s universe, blonde hair represents leadership, attention-seeking, fashion, fun, and beauty. The blonde characters always get the attractive qualities. These qualities are never awarded to the African American, Hispanic, or Asian characters. Sister was Mattel’s attempt at “segregating” the black dolls from the white dolls so that blonde Barbie won’t outshine “black” Barbie. They have put a stamp on their dolls because of this. We often find Mattel to have a hidden white superiority complex that is so deeply hidden it is difficult to prove.
Many times, Mattel tries to add some diversity, but in the end blondes always rule all. When all fails, we see the truest thoughts behind this company. When Mattel is struggling, you know what they usually pull out of their closet? Not a doll everyone has been asking for. No. They pull out a blonde. Usually, at this pivotal moment, when they pull out the blonde, they already have one successful blonde doll that’s not enough to fill the sale gaps, but is still selling better than the other dolls. So when they add the “new” blonde, they now have an over-abundance of blonde characters and a lack of one or more other ethnic groups/bruns/red heads.
I will share some examples…
American Girl used to be a doll line with many diverse characters. At one time, the historical line’s only blonde character was Kirsten. Then Kit came into the picture. Everything was in balance. But then came that moment where American Girl’s sales fell. Caroline was released.
Girl of the Year has never had an African American character. Many hoped 2014 would be the year. And what did they give us? A blonde character.
This is the exact same problem in Diva Starz. When Diva Starz’s sales were struggling, Mattel got rid of it’s sweet red-head, and replaced her with, you guessed it, another BLONDE character. Diva Starz then had TWO blonde characters, and two brunette characters, but no red-heads.
It was the same with Myscene. When Myscene was on the brink of collapse, who did they release to replace Barbie? Another blonde!
Ever After High has a really cool brunette character. But NOOO! She couldn’t be Snow White’s daughter (although Snow White has always been depicted as having dark hair). The “blonde” character has to get the shine as a “royal” character, as if all blondes are bubbly, shallow, and “royal”. In fact, why did they have to see Raven as a lead only if she shares the lead WITH the blonde? For once, couldn’t the blonde character have been in a supporting role? Like in Winx?
One of the ideas that could solve this problem would be to do what they did to Draculaura and Samantha: Put the brunette and red-haired characters in more appealing fashions with more attractive personalities. Is that so difficult?
3) Our Main Character is a Loser, so They’re FIRED
Mattel usually always tries to create a main character with the most attractive qualities and fashion. Usually, their main characters are blonde and/or wear an awful lot of pink. But this doesn’t necessarily make their main characters safe. If Mattel senses that their main characters are not doing a good job, they always seem to think the best idea is to “replace” them or kick them in a corner with very little attention. This usually works AGAINST them. A main character is usually the character the drives the whole line and/or story. Without those key characters, we are missing something, even if they aren’t popular.
Mattel’s strategy, however, is to often get rid of their “loser” main characters and let the popular character take over. Sometimes, a character never even gets a chance. Marie-Grace and Cecile are an example. They’ve only been out two years, and yet were retired, while many of the American Girl characters have been around for seven years or more! They never even got a chance! They were clumped together with the other “Best Friend” dolls, when they had their own time, era, and complete line! Now, we no longer have dolls from NOLA that cover the Yellow Fever epidemic.
And Mattel is never fair about screen time or promotion. They jacked Josefina so horribly, I’m starting to think she’s falling into the “loser” category.
Mattel is a company that seems to expect immediate results. If they don’t get it, it appears they get rid of characters and over-do the characters that have the potential for popularity.
This happened in Monster High. Draculaura has taken over every line, and the lead character and many other ghouls have been cast aside. Many of the other characters get ignored, even the actual MAIN character! Since when has Frankie been the main character in a movie? Lagoona and Spectra haven’t been in a line in a LOOOONG time.
This really happened with the Barbie doll. Mattel has tried to make other diverse Barbies as main characters (like Sister), but it’s always clear that they want Barbie to lead. She is always the first doll to be introduced. She always has the most attractive outfits on. Come on. The other dolls didn’t stand a chance. Barbie’s popularity continues to grow, while all of the others fall behind.
Do I have to re-iterate the fact that they replaced their cutting-edge Barbie in Myscene for the pink-princess doll Kennedy? It basically changed everything. Barbie was Madison’s best friend and River’s girlfriend. Did they really think they could just stick in Kennedy and everything would be okay? Fans hit the roof.
The problem with Mattel is they keep regurgitating dolls so often, they forget how many dolls they have. They end up ignoring the dolls they already have.
4) Attack of the Tacky
When Mattel is in “Panic mode”, they are usually at a point where they have run out of fashion ideas. Towards the end of a doll line, or when they are low on sales, Mattel gets really, REALLY tacky. They start just coming up with any random design ideas that can range between original and weird.
What really makes it bad is that they start tacking on a heavy load of pastels, which often makes the outfits less refined.
I can honestly say that there was a huge difference between Myscene in the beginning and how they started looking when things got rough…
American Girl has also gotten tackier lately. American Girl used to have high-quality and valuable outfits, many that could be found on very few dolls in the world. But ever since their Beforever launch, an attempt to appeal more to this new generation, it seems that they have slapped fabrics together. Kit’s new birthday outfit is shameful enough, but they had to go and throw a girl from 1904 in some go-go boots!
Even Monster High’s original outfits were much more stylish than many of the outfits now. Freaky Fusion is…a blend of awkward monsters thrown together, and it shows. Flavas was the epitome of tacky, but their last remaining outfits were the tackiest ever. And yes, Flavas was also Mattel’s attempt to make quick money at a time when Bratz was taken over the doll market. See how tacky Mattel gets when they are desperate? They translate all of this into style.
5) Book Contradictions? Who Cares If the Books Don’t Add Up
American Girl, Monster High, and Generation Girl all had books to accompany their doll lines. I understand that, many times, the books are written by authors that have nothing to do with Mattel. But they are meant to be for Mattel’s products. Often times, I question whether Mattel really reads their own literature.
Often times, Mattel will release books, and then later release merch or promotion that contradicts it. Shouldn’t they at least read it over before releasing it? It might say something foul and they wouldn’t even know it! One thing is for certain, they do not live up to their stories-at all. This is really evident when they are low on money…Let me explain.
For instance, in the Monster High book series, Spectra and Invisi Billy were said to have been dating. But in the webisodes, here they come with Invisi Billy and Scarah! Say what now? After so many fans were drawn to the first couple, they pulled a switcheru on everybody. It’s almost as if Mattel didn’t care, as long as it could be a good selling point for the doll. They are often too focused on their actual products to notice such inconsistencies…But it’s sort of annoying. Don’t make books if you can’t keep up with them, jeez. As Spectra’s doll popularity decreased, and Scarah’s doll popularity increased, Spectra was simply the love interest that was replaced in the webisodes…Without any nod to the books…And thus, causing a fan war.
Generation Girl dolls had a similar issue. Barbie Roberts was said to have come from Malibu, California in the books, Nichelle was from New York City, New York, Tori was from Melbourne, Australia, and Ana was supposedly from Spanish Harlem, New York, right? But if you buy the boxes of these dolls, they all say completely different cities! Barbie is said to be from Los Angeles, Nichelle is from Harlem, Tori is from Sydney, and Ana is from Mexico City, Mexico! I know many of these cities are all in the same country, but it takes a bolt load of ignorance to think they are the same cities. It wouldn’t have been a problem had there not been confusion with accessories (especially food items meant to represent a particular city), or if the magazine articles the dolls came with didn’t emphasis a completely different place…Considering the books came out the exact time the dolls came out, that was a little awkward.
Generation Girl wiki <—Click Here
Finally, I just want to use American Girl’s Kit. The girl is a tomboy and HATES the color pink. She HATES flounces. If you have read Meet Kit. So what does Mattel go and do? Stick her in a pink, flouncy dress for Easter. I understand that a Depression-era girl wouldn’t decide these things. But she has other clothes. Couldn’t they have highlighted the dresses Kit actually liked? Just as they did with Felicity’s Dancing Lesson gown? Or with the red dress Ruthie got for Kit at Christmas? I think that’s pretty careless to create clothes that will bring discomfort to a character in the canon story…unless of course you’re like Mattel and DON’T CARE. They could’ve highlighted actual practical clothing an actual Depression-era girl would’ve worn?
They honestly release those books for extra revenue…but really, they should skip out on literature…
You know what made it really obvious they don’t read their own literature? Conan O’Brian, host of the Conan O’Brian Show, visited American Girl Place in Los Angeles. He was talking to one of the employees there about Kit. Conan asked about her story. You know what story the employee told him about? The story from the Kit Kittredge: An American Girl movie. It became evident that he never read the books. He stated, “In Kit’s story, her father goes away to Chicago to find work.” That never happened in the CORE series! FACEPALM TIME! Any fan knows that the Kit movie was NOTHING like the book series. In fact, Kit’s movie deviated the most from the main plot out of ALL of the movies! If fans know this, how much more-so should an employee? It was a shame to watch. I can’t even take that worker seriously as an employee. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. This man has been working for American Girl all this time and doesn’t know the actual story behind Kit?
The plot is deviated the most when Mattel is losing money and fresh out of ideas. They have to swerve around the character traits to pull something new out of their hats.
6) Retirement and Poor Replacements
This is a little different from #3. #3 wasn’t necessarily about retired dolls, just dolls that have been out-shined by other dolls. This point is literally about retirement. Mattel is ever infamous for it’s MAJOR retirements when things get a little rough. Many times, Mattel is about retiring an “unpopular” or “unsuccessful character” and replacing that character with someone “better”. But many times, Mattel goes through this period where they retire extremely popular characters and no one can usually understand why. Most assume it’s for the sake of making room and replacements.
I don’t honestly believe they are interested in “replacing” dolls. They just keep making what sells.
Sometimes, during those desperate times, Mattel takes the worse actions.
One example would be their retirement of Summer from the Diva Starz. When they got rid of her, most fans expected a pretty reasonable replacement, like maybe a new Asian doll or something. But we got ANOTHER blonde doll IN pink! They replaced their ONLY red-head with another blonde girl.
Another major retirement fail was of their only Latina character, Ana, in Generation Girl. Why would they do something like that? No idea. And their replacement was a quirky Asian character and ANA’s boyfriend, Blaine…What’s the point of retiring the doll and then releasing her boyfriend?
And again, in Myscene. They retired the cutting-edge Barbie, for a pink-princess Barbie doll look-alike named “Kennedy”. Wow. So they thought since the name was changed, she would be less Barbie? But then you go and make her just like the iconic Barbie…FAILURE.
Mattel retired it’s best-selling American Girl doll, Samantha! Why? I don’t know. They said they were making room for new characters. But it wasn’t really business savvy, though most were happy they were making room for new characters…The replacement was not enough to bring the money back…
7) Inaccuracy: Wait, the Story is a little off…
This mostly applies to their doll lines that are based off of something like Ever After High, Monster High, and American Girl. Mattel will squeeze anything to make a buck, and sometimes many things they throw together never add up. They make it really hard to be a detail-oriented person and enjoy all of Mattel’s products. Well, at least they tend to doll details…Well, at least when they first release a doll line.
Inaccuracy is usually a major sign that Mattel is struggling, and this is how they ruin doll lines in the end.
American Girl’s Beforever is steeped with inaccurate products, which is a shame. The line is meant to inspire girls of today to learn history through a collection of dolls. But many times, they squeeze some modern items in there to sell the doll. For instance, Samantha’s sporting purple “go-go” boots lately. Even the fact that she still has those bangs across her forehead proves how inaccurate the line can get…No one in 1904 wore bangs. They even managed to throw in a flower headband…
Ever After High has been slapped with the inaccurate bill, too. While Apple White is supposed to be Snow White’s daughter, and follow the “Snow White” tradition precisely, that’s not technically possible for her. Therefore, she is a rebel without even trying. 1) Snow White has ALWAYS been described to have hair as “black as ebony” since the original German story was published by the Grimm Brothers. But we talked about how Mattel worships blondes…2) The “evil queen” was born WAY before Snow White, and supposedly MARRIED Snow White’s FATHER. So, is Raven Queen going to be Apple White’s new Step-mother? Not possible, because apparently Apple White’s parents are Snow White and her handsome prince…So, in other words, she’s still NOT a royal. She is actually, in fact, a rebel by default, as there is no possible way she can follow her “destiny”, even if Raven Queen WERE to turn out evil. The inaccuracy of the story makes it all a bit amusing, but since it’s so easy for children (and some adults) to overlook such details, you’d all be happy to know that, at least, the dolls are very detailed and beautiful. After all, the story was squeezed a bit to allow a perky blonde to take the lead, and to play on the “victim” heart strings people are pulling with today’s iconic villains.
In the end, however, I can see Ever After High’s story being a big confusing mess. Just buy the doll.
I have one more question. If Raven Queen is supposed to be the “evil queen”, why didn’t SHE inherit the magic mirror instead of Apple White? Raven Queen acts more like Snow White than Apple White…*gasp* Apple White is vain…easily jealous…controlling…acts like a queen…and owns a magic mirror…Perhaps, SHE’LL be the next evil queen! *gasp* There are still many inconsistencies. Her story seems to even deviate greatly from the original Evil Queen’s story, too.
Raven Queen was supposedly born to the Evil Queen, but didn’t the Evil Queen DIE at the end of Snow White? So, how was Raven Queen born really? And IF Raven Queen was born before the Evil Queen died, wouldn’t that mean she was born around the time Snow White was an infant? I doubt she was born around the time the Evil Queen was tracking Snow White down out of jealousy. And wouldn’t that make Raven Queen Snow White’s sister? Wouldn’t that make Raven Queen…Apple White’s aunt? In this case, Raven Queen should be older than Apple White.
Don’t think too deep. It’ll ruin everything. Just stay in ignorant bliss so you can enjoy life. Just buy the doll…That’s all Mattel cares about anyway. They will squeeze any attractive story just to sell.
The Story of Snow White<—Click
Why was the My Scene movie called Myscene Goes Hollywood, when the whole movie takes place in New York? Deceptive…
8) Failing Up-Grades
When Mattel is in a pinch, their first instinct is to “upgrade” their lines. Every company does an up-grade. But it seems like Mattel always comes up with the most slap-dash ideas when they are financially in trouble. Their desperation always shows.
American Girl’s Beforever is a prime example. I don’t even know where to begin. They gave their 9 year-old 1970’s doll some platform shoes, their 1904 doll some go-go boots and a headband, and modernized all of their historical fashion…
Another example would be when Mattel decided to make the Diva Starz “taller”. I don’t know why they thought it was a good idea. It just made them awkward and hard to carry around. Instead of getting them more money, it became the end of the entire Diva Starz line.
And remember when they made the My Scene dolls SMILE? Those dolls were the worst ideas ever.
For Mattel, desperate times call for desperate up-grades.
9) Flunk the Boys
Boys are a small accessory to girls in the Mattel universe. Of course, the target for most of Mattel’s products are young females. In Mattel’s company mind, this means giving a guy some attention as a love interest until his popularity dwindles. Their next step is to retire him, like all of the other “accessories”. Possibly, they may even try to replace him. Men are thrown around in the Mattel universe and treated poorly.
The Ken doll is a great example of this. He was Barbie’s “boyfriend” since the 1960’s. He has had a fantastic line of clothing and accessories. Then, they suddenly tried to retire him in 2004, stating that he and Barbie needed to “spend some time apart”. That was a very bad idea. You know they had to bring him back. Ken never even had a Doll of the World yet! Throughout the years, he was always placed behind Barbie’s world of plastic. His retirement was an all-time low.
It has become the same song and dance with Monster High. The boys are given one outfit a piece, with very few details or accessories, and often seem to wear the exact same outfits as one another with very few distinctions. This gives very shallow ideas to girls, and gives their competition, the Bratz, the upper hand.
Just look at Heath. He literally was only an accessory to Abbey. The boys in Mattel’s universe eventually end up in sets with the girls.
Heck, by the end of My Scene, the five boys had been reduced down to one: River, Barbie’s “boyfriend”…er, was it Kennedy by then? Who knows…
It’s really no wonder Mattel has a hard time relating to a male audience with their lines. Being targeted for girls is no excuse. Bratz Boyz can do it better:
10) We Don’t Need Red heads in Our Kingdom
Mattel’s world is blonde. It’s natural opposite is “Red Hair” in Mattel’s Kingdom. I’m not going to go as far as to say they have a personal prejudice against red-heads, as they always make dolls with Red hair. BUT when the going gets tough, it’s always a red-head that is on the chopping block.
American Girl has been around for years. Out of all of American Girl’s dolls, only ONE doll has been retired TWICE: Felicity Merriman, their Revolutionary War doll. She has a spunk personality that girls of today appreciate, but she has the hair color that Mattel deems as “hard to sell” for some reason. Though red hair never stopped the sell of Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls or Bloom from Winx, it seems to be the “sign” of poor sells for Mattel…
In Diva Starz, Summer was the only doll retired during the line’s run. The sweet red-head was then replaced with a cutting-edge blonde…Which didn’t appease anyone. Shortly after, the line as retired altogether.
Generation Girl also retired their red-haired doll Chelsie Peterson. They claimed she “moved”. People were so mad. I mean, she was the most interesting doll in the line. Plus, she was the only doll from England. She was also a singer who came with a guitar. There were so many parts of her still left untouched.
Myscene’s Kenzie was a disappointment. She lasted shorter than any Myscene doll ever sold. They hardly elaborated on her background. And she was a beautiful doll.
As you can see, Mattel has a record. They have never been very nice to their red-haired girls. Many of their lines, like Flavas, didn’t have red-heads at all! Talk about a lack of diversity…
Monster High and Ever After High hardly process red-head characters…
Mattel acts like having red hair is a curse or something…When is the last time they created a red-head for their main Barbie line? I can’t remember.
11) Everybody Sings and Dances
Yea, just about any company uses the “arts” gimmick to get little girls to buy their dolls. Every doll line needs a “singing” and/or “dancing” line where the doll can get fancied up in glitter and pastels and shimmy on a stage.
For Mattel, however, this is one of their “Panic Strategies”. Mattel may already have a singer and dancer, but when they are low on funds or ideas, no worries. They will release ANOTHER singer and dancer.
For instance, Monster High already had Operetta as a singer. But that wasn’t enough. They just had to make one of their popular warecats and their new witch doll, Casta Fierce, as singers as well! Why does this line need three singers? I don’t know. Couldn’t they have other more original interests? Oh wait, this is Mattel we are talking about…
American Girl’s Girl of the Year already had a very popular modern-day dancer named Marisol. There were so many modern ideas they could cover. But no. In 2014, they released ANOTHER dancer: Isabelle. I’m still shocked they didn’t try the singer thing…I suppose it’s not as good for the movies…It was good enough for the Saige movie…Even though Saige ISN’T a singer…
Barbie does the singing thing every new decade. She has done every occupation really. But I guarantee you, she’s done teaching much less than singing or dancing.
Polly Pocket, Flavas, I mean really. Singing and Dancing is apart of Mattel’s universe as a doll line. It’s their greatest green ticket. And especially when funds are low. So, don’t expect anything original.
12) We’ll Never Be Rebels
Mattel is capable of coming up with some pretty rebellious ideas, but Mattel likes to play it safe. While parents may approve, this doesn’t make them necessarily popular among the kids. Parents don’t play with these dolls, but the kids do. Many collectors appreciate detailed dolls. Many times, Mattel will give you good, detailed, and quality dolls for dolls that are cheap and wholesome.
Chelsie Peterson, Tori burns, and Barbie Roberts from Generation Girl used to get a lot of bashing from soccer moms. Chelsie had a nose ring and three piercings in her left ear, Tori did too, and Barbie had a tattoo on her ankle (I’m one of the lucky few to get this one). At the time, that was a “big deal”. They were details that made those dolls unique and appealing. Well, Mattel is such a suck-up, they got rid of those unique details. Now, it’s no longer a big deal. But where is Generation Girl? A thing of the past. They didn’t even realize they were creating a doll trend at the time.
Monster High got a lot of stigma for releasing a “spider doll”. Instead of ignoring people by trying to make the doll more appealing, she has only appeared in one line. Spiders may look scary, but at least they are a real part of nature. Oh, but vampires and zombies are okay, huh… -.-
American Girl has gone light on the stories behind their Girl of the Year dolls. The last deep story they ever had for modern girls was Chrissa’s story on bullying. The other stories hardly touch on subjects that affect girls. They gloss over a few issues to help sell pretty merchandise. They have the potential to open the minds of girls. Instead, they would rather play it safe and give girls more materialistic values.
Flavas was also a pretty edgy line, but I think a lot more had to do with their retirement…
13) Cheap Quality
Mattel always releases their dolls with the highest quality-in the beginning, during a launch. But after a while, Mattel gets comfortable. When things get rough, the quality declines. This happens with every company, but a smart company knows how to wheel around this issue. Many times, Mattel cheapens the quality because it’s cheaper to make. This keeps money in their pockets.
American Girl’s quality has decreased tremendously, and yet the prices have risen! They certainly don’t use the same fine materials, like real wood, real clothing fabric, and tin, like they used to. Everything is plastic-and yet, more expensive than when they used real materials!
Barbie used to be a high-quality doll herself in the 1960’s. Then they started creating her with that cheap hair and face paint. When I was little, I could never pretend she was swimming. Her hair and lipstick would fade!
14) Mattel Doesn’t Listen to YOU
You would think that when Mattel is on it’s butt they would listen to fans more. Nope. In fact, the further Mattel is in a slump, the more they ignore fans. Does this sound familiar?
“We do not accept new product ideas.” That’s one of them. “We apologize for your dissatisfaction with our products. We have ___ for you to enjoy. Stay tuned for more updates”.
Mattel is usually at it’s best when it has competition. When they have competition, they suddenly come up with better quality ideas. Bratz kept Mattel on it’s toes. Myscene, Monster high, and Girls of Many Lands all came out around the time Bratz was at it’s height. Those three lines were of high quality at launch. But now that the competition is low, Mattel is getting a little too comfortable. Competition helps Mattel recognize it’s flaws and weaknesses. Without competition, they don’t see fans going anywhere else, no matter how messed up their tactics are.
No matter how many fans complain about the same things, Mattel continues to send “automated” emails and continues to reject new ideas. Their competitors, MGA, are VERY open to new ideas. This contributed to the success of Bratz and the reason Mattel always struggled all of those years. They still don’t understand what tweens want. They want to be HEARD. Since Mattel usually misses this point miserably, they always lose valuable ideas to their competition.
So, now that you are aware of the Mattel pattern, fans shouldn’t be surprised when they see Mattel leaning on an idea that seems to be choking the life out of a doll line. They have a strange tendency of repeating patterns.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you people think! What Mattel dolls do you collect?