MGA just announced that as of January 2014, Bratz will be going on hiatus for the whole year in the USA so they can “re-build” the brand. Any other dolls made this year will be international exclusives. So that means that every country but the USA will have Bratz dolls on the shelves. That explains the lack of promotion and dolls on the shelves. I went into my local Target and didn’t see hardly any Bratz dolls on the shelves…If your shelves have been looking the same, it’s for this reason. I know a lot of kids aren’t even into the Bratz anymore, so I think that’s part of the reason the dolls aren’t on the shelves. BUT it’s also good to know that something progressive is being done about it.
Since the Bratz re-launch in 2010, Bratz haven’t been exactly what fans have been seeking in a re-launch. When Bratz were released in 2001, they had an extremely edgy, urban appeal. They were truly fashionable. They were diverse, the quality was impeccable, the detail was taken into account, and they appealed to a wider audience. Bratz dolls were the only dolls I wasn’t embarrassed to own as a tween. Teens in my high school owned Bratz dolls. Even boys thought the Bratz were cool. In 2005, the Bratz moved away from being urban to pushing further along the edge with lines like Pretty N Punk, Tokyo-ago-go, Midnight Dance, and Bratz Dynamite. Bratz wore fashions that made children feel more grown-up, and I admit, made parents a little uncomfortable at the influence these dolls had on their children.
Then MGA had the stupid idea to suddenly file a lawsuit on Mattel because they felt that the Myscene line was basically stealing their idea. Then Mattel fought back by stating that the Bratz designer was still an employee with Mattel when he gave the idea to MGA, which according to contract, meant that Mattel truly owned the rights to the Bratz dolls. At first, Mattel won, and the reward was that all Bratz dolls should be removed from shelves. MGA filed an appeal, and they won. So, Bratz came back on shelves. However, while they were gone, Mattel had already made plans to take their hold on the doll market.
The Bratz were released again in 2010, promising a new look. But that “look” was less interesting. Many of the clothes were recycled from MGA’s Moxie Girlz line, and some were just poor quality. Not to mention, they were hardly anything like the artwork. The prototypes were often better than the final product (Star Stylez is a good example). The Bratz instead took a more modest turn to their look. Almost every outfit with a skirt had “safe” leggings. I believe their intention was to appeal to parents, but they quickly discovered that parents don’t matter. Parents will usually buy anything their children like. The children are the ones who have to play with these dolls at the end of the day. And the children like Mattel’s answer: Monster High and Ever After High. Though, admittedly, Monster High’s sales have also been suffering compared to it’s release. The latest trend has been “fairy tales”. Disney has really been taking the market, along with technology, particularly the I-pad and other tablets. Among all this competition, Bratz in the last couple of years have been just like any other fair-weather doll line, like Liv and Mystikats.
But MGA is used to set-backs. It’s not easy being competition to a multi-billion dollar company like Mattel. Mattel owned Disney toys in the past, American Girl, Hot Wheels, some Lego products, man, just about every big toy you can think of, their hands are dipping in the profits. MGA had the same problem with their initial launch May 2001. The Bratz didn’t become successful until Christmas 2001. Yet, they never gave up. I have confidence that MGA will come back on fire. There is one thing that I like about MGA that most doll companies lack: They always listen to their fans. Back in 2003, when Bratz came out with their first single, “Show Me What You Got” in Japan, I emailed MGA and asked if the Bratz would come out with an album in the USA. Two years later, they released Bratz Rock Angelz. I even asked for Tokyo dolls, and that came out too! They always gave me everything I asked for, and I was just 11, 12, and 13 years old! This is what made me love the Bratz so much. The company treated me like my opinions mattered, like I was a valuable customer, and I was just a kid! They always answered every email personally. Of course, they were a much smaller company then. But at the time, that was important to me. It’s what made me so excited about the future of Bratz and helped me support them. Even though I knew I was just one voice, that made me feel like they considered my ideas. I felt like I’d made a difference. Even now, MGA isn’t the kind of company to ignore it’s fans. They realize that they are not up to par.
Fellow blogger Bratz Boulevard posted this quote: “So, here’s the deal with Bratz. We finally got the go-ahead to give it the time and backing to make it awesome. We want to really dig in to the direction of Bratz, what makes the brand awesome, and bring that back full force! In order to do that, and to have the epic come back that the brand really deserves, we are taking a year off. We are giving ourselves and the buyers a chance to cleanse palates of expectations so we can come back in 2015 and deliver something cutting edge, disruptive and awesome.”
Again, they heard the complaints. The Bratz need to disrupt the “peace”. All of the dolls are safe, it’s time to make an impact. The Bratz have the potential to do this.
I have one gripe. In the same breath that the company expresses their concern for the brand, they begin to file ANOTHER lawsuit against Mattel. This time, it’s for espionage. In other words, they believe Mattel employees have been SPYING on them. Here are the claims according to ABC News:
1. Mattel’s “Market Intelligence Department”
MGA alleges Mattel’s Market Intelligence Department “willfully and deliberately misrepresented themselves to gain entry into the private showrooms of Mattel’s competitors,” including MGA, at numerous trade shows. The showrooms are off-limits to competitors, the suit states. MGA alleges Mattel’s supervisors and senior executives provided training and financial support for this spying.
2. Fake business cards from Kinko’s
In its lawsuit, MGA accuses Mattel employees of going to Kinkos and printing fake business cards, “and had Mattel accounting create mocked-up invoices, so they could flash ‘evidence’ of their fictional business cards and lie their way into the private showrooms of competitors.”
3. Illegal video tapes
Mattel is accused of buying small video recorders, “paid for by Mattel,” and bringing these cameras to photograph and videotape what they saw in those private showrooms, the lawsuit states.
4. Rewarding employees for stealing secrets
MGA alleges Mattel employees stole “confidential competitive information – including price lists, advertising plans, and unreleased product attributes,” according to the lawsuit. It also claims the company rewarded the employees who swiped the information.
5. “How to steal” manual
MGA alleges that Mattel provides “express instructions” in an 11-page “how to steal” manual created by Mattel executives. It states that the manual taught “Mattel’s corporate spies on the most effective means to steal their competitors’ trade secrets.”
The court filing states that federal litigation between the two companies has spanned nine years, “racked up” more than 10,000 separate docket entries, involved two multi-month jury trials and 11.5 million pages and 400 depositions taken during discovery.
Whether any of this is true, I don’t believe this is the time for MGA to be getting into ANOTHER tangle with Mattel. To me, it’s a cheap way for them to pin down competition while they re-build the brand. I understand they are angry that Mattel ripped their brand to shreds in the last couple of years, but I don’t think it’s right for MGA to try to do the same. It leaves a sour message.
While these cheap dirty tricks seem very Mattel-like (I mean, Mattel was able to buy out American Girl brand and many other brands, as well as harass some of their competition in the past), that’s even more of a reason for MGA to fight Mattel the fair way. If MGA is really afraid of spies, get tighter security.
As I said once before, I think it’s smart for MGA to get a new team. Honestly, I do believe Carter Bryant was the genius behind the brand. But they can find someone to replace him. I have some ideas of my own for the 2015 release, but I’m not quite sure if a re-release is even going to happen. 2015 isn’t here yet, and sometimes, when you step out of the scene, it’s hard to come back at all. But we’ll see. At least when they try to come back, they will be working hard to make it strong. MGA admitted that they rushed the release of Bratz because they were eager to get Bratz back on shelves. Well, it kind of showed. To add, this is a new generation. They have to keep that in mind. These kids don’t remember the Bratz. They have to re-appeal to them.
Let me get on with some of my ideas:
1. Visual Movie or Webisode Promotion
Yes, this will cost money, I know. But if you observe the toys that are selling right now, they all have movies or webisodes to promote them. All of the Disney Princesses, as well as Sophia the First and McStuffins, are the most popular toys! The Disney isle is huge in every store I go into. Movies even contribute to American Girl’s success in the last couple of years. Bratz need a visual complement to the dolls. They need a “story” that children can be entertained by and something they can re-imagine in their playtime. Children aren’t quite as creative as children in the past were, where imagination wasn’t “handed” to them. MGA has to consider that. I suggest movie promotion instead of webisodes to avoid being compared to it’s competitor, Monster High.
2. Artwork that matches the line
This is very important. Please don’t mislead fans with false advertising. When we see artwork that looks cool, we expect the dolls to look just like the artwork. The artwork has been beautiful, but the dolls don’t match, which makes us all lose faith in the art. We’re not buying art, we’re buying dolls.
3. Check the Underground
Stop checking the runways. Start checking underground club fashions, and sub-culture looks, like Scene or Emo styles.
4. Focus on Quality
We don’t care about deadlines. It doesn’t matter how many dolls you produce. What matters is the quality of the dolls. We want to see quality. We want fabric that feels real, hair that is manageable, and detail. We don’t want PAINTED ON LEGGINGS. Come on MGA, you have to admit that was low in Star Stylez. That line had a lot of potential. But you just had to paint Cloe’s legs…
Also, don’t cheapen the brand by putting Moxie Girlz outfits on the Bratz. It was my biggest issue with Bratz Party Cloe and in Project Bratz. Please, think of something different…It’s just a lack of creativity when you recycle clothes like that. And they’re always picking on Cloe! Don’t do that to her!
5. Get a Male Designer
No offense, but males are edgier. Females are too concerned about the latest fashions, and how positive of an influence the dolls are, and how cute, and yada yada…Get a male designer. They always do the best job.
Well, I guess I’ll be seeing the Bratz either on ebay or next year. I’m a bit caught. I’m excited about 2015, which is 11 whole months from now, but I’m a little shaky. The Bratz being gone a whole year seems like a long time away from retailers. I hope I’m around to see these dolls. A lot can happen in a year!
I’m also shaky because of this court case. If this little plan of theirs backfires, they’ll be paying damages dearly, which means less money to the Bratz brand. And Mattel may fire back. MGA is going lawsuit-crazy. They need to just calm down and focus on making their brand stronger. Mattel is secure. They have many brands to work with. MGA needs to focus it’s head and let Mattel rot in it’s own negativity. If Mattel really is this rotten, they won’t get away with it long. If MGA gets better security, they can avoid further issues. But please, enough with the lawsuits.
Leave me a comment and let me know some ideas you have for Bratz 2015! Tell me what you think about MGA’s “break”. Do you think it has to do with the dolls or the new lawsuit? Or maybe both?
Maybe I should be careful posting my suggestions…Mattel could be listening RIGHT NOW…I can say this: When I talked to Bratz on FB, they really liked my ideas! YAY!
A SURPRISE VIDEO FROM GENERATION NEXT: