14 Ways Mattel Can Screw Up a Doll Line

18 Sep

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 come 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. MGA used to be that top-notch company that would listen to fans and implement change without destroying their doll franchise. Though lately, they’ve been headed down the same road…once they got a new team on board…

With 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.

Attack of the Pink
Attack of the Blondes
Our Main Character is a Loser, so they’re Fired
Attack of the Tacky
Books and Blogs, Who Cares if they don’t add up?
Retirement and Poor Replacements
Inaccuracy, When Nothing Makes Sense
Failing Up-Grades
Flunk the Boys
The Red-Headed Curse
Everybody Sings and Dances
We’ll Never Be Rebels
Cheap Quality
Mattel Doesn’t Listen To You

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.

Though “pink” is a popular color among girls, I’m not going to say that every doll who wears pink will sell. This is where the 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. 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 Starz 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.

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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.

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Myscene was another doll line that followed Diva Starz in the same 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 their “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.

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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.

I know, she looks like Barbie

I know, she looks like Barbie

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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 its 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.

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Not that Monster High doesn’t have enough Were-Cats, but one of their additions to the line also sports pink.

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They even thought they could get away with making a serpent’s hair PINK! What snake in the world is pink?

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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.

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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 2014 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. Mattel’s profit reports showed a sharp decline stemming from the re-vamped Historical line. I’ll bet it’s because of the pinkness.

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!

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Mattel will do anything to insert its 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.

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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.

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But 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.

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2) Attack of the Blondes

Mattel is very famous for their 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.

Let’s make this clear. Some of Mattel’s blonde dolls sell less than other dolls. American Girl’s 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.

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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 its “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 wouldn’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 when American Girl’s sales fell. Caroline was released.

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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.

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This is the exact same problem in Diva Starz. When Diva Starz’s sales were struggling, Mattel got rid of their 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.

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It was the same with Myscene. When Myscene was on the brink of collapse, who did they release to replace Barbie? Another blonde!

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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?

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One of the ideas that could solve this “blonde” 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?

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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 that 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.

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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.

And it looks like with the new Monster High re-vamp and the Japanese “anime”, Draculaura has truly become the “main character”. Can’t you see I’m not lying with this?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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! I know those shoes were popular in 1904, but they weren’t very tasteful. Maybe this is just my opinion…

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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 taking over the doll market. See how tacky Mattel gets when they are desperate? They translate all of this into style.

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5) Books and Blogs: Who Cares If they Don’t Add Up?

American Girl, Monster High, and Generation Girl all had books to accompany their doll lines. Myscene, at one time, had an online blog. 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. Mattel should know something about the books and/or blogs that are meant to represent them. Often times, however, 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 give some examples.

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.

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Now, Mattel decided they would create a new “backstory” for Monster High with their movie Welcome to Monster High, which completely changes the characters all together…So I guess all of those books and webisodes were pointless from the beginning.

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. That let the consumers know that it wasn’t just a change of plans down the line, it was an absolute glitch that no one paid attention to before release.

Generation Girl wiki

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Finally, I just want to use American Girl’s Kit. The girl is a tomboy and HATES the color pink. She HATES flounces. People who have read Meet Kit know this. 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…

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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! It’s odd for someone who supposedly knows about American Girl to mention the movie before the book series. 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.

I don’t even want to get started on Myscene. A long time ago, when Myscene was first released in 2002, it was announced on Barbie’s online “blog” that she was an Aries. The signature color for Aries is usually red. To represent her Zodiac sign, Barbie carried around a cherry-red cell phone and wore a matching cherry-red outfit, as seen at debut.

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Eventually, somehow, they switched Barbie into a Libra right under everyone’s noses. Hmm…And they offered no explanation for the cherry-red cell phone and matching outfit…

To this day, there are very few Myscene fans who know this information.

Oh well, I guess since no one questioned it, Mattel got away with it…as usual.

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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 their 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.

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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?

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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.

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Mattel retired their 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…

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7) Inaccuracy: When Nothing Makes Sense…

As mentioned before, Mattel often contradicts itself, which often makes it difficult for their stories to be believable.

But sometimes they are consistent. Yet, even when they are consistent, they have another problem: Inaccuracy.

This mostly applies to their doll lines that are based off of some other idea or concept, like Ever After High, Monster High, and American Girl. Mattel will squeeze anything to make a buck, and sometimes many things they throw together don’t make sense. 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 they tend to the details 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 headband.

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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…

Unless Snow White dies, and Raven Queen ends up marrying Apple White’s older father, I doubt this could work smoothly. In other words, Apple White is 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. Apple White’s story seems to even deviate greatly from the original Evil Queen’s story, too. She doesn’t fit with any characters in Snow White, so I don’t understand why she is a “Royal”.

If Raven Queen was born to the Evil Queen, then 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

Iphone 5 Ever After High wallpaper

One last question: Why was the My Scene movie called Myscene Goes Hollywood, when the whole movie takes place in New York? Deceptive…

My_Scene_Goes_Hollywood

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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 a headband, and modernized all of their historical fashion…

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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.

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And remember when they made the My Scene dolls SMILE? Those dolls were the worst ideas ever.

Almost looks like a regular Barbie doesn't it? Why was this a good idea?

Almost looks like a regular Barbie doesn’t it? Why was this a good idea?

Lately, Mattel thought it would be a good idea to “de-scare” their Monster High Dolls by making their faces cuter and their details “painted on” rather than carved. I don’t understand. What’s the point of making monster dolls “cute”? They are MONSTERS. Now, instead of looking like “rad” teenagers, they look like kids who “want to be” teens…

The quality is obviously lower and the fashions are cheesier.

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They basically took all the characters’ unique details and threw them out in the trash.

Oh, and they changed the whole story behind them. So now, all of their old books, webisodes, and movies are MEANINGLESS. Now, you have to throw them out. Unless of course, you just bought the dolls…But wait…They changed them, too…

For Mattel, desperate times call for desperate up-grades.

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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 1960s. 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.

kendoll

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.

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Look at Abbey’s accessories…Wait…where are Heath’s accessories? WOW. He doesn’t really have any but a mitt, does he? -.- They are supposed to “share”.

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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:

Bratz_Wildlife_Safari_Boyz_Dylan_Doll

Two outfits, tons of accessories, a comb, a nice braided hairstyle, two pairs of shoes, and their OWN LINES, separate from the girls, like 1st edition Boyz…

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10) The Red-Headed Curse

Mattel’s world is blonde. In Mattel’s kingdom, blonde’s natural opposite is “Red Hair”. 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 spunky 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…

felicity

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 was retired altogether.

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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 doll run still left unattended.

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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.

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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.

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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 or 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, singers as well! Why does this line need three singers? I don’t know. Couldn’t they have had other more original interests? Oh wait, this is Mattel we are talking about…

Oh, and a fourth was added to the singing/dancing trio: Ari Hauntington! How many more Mattel before the MH brand becomes a pop girl group?

Double whamy: Pink and a Singer!

Double whamy: Pink and a Singer!

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…

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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, especially when funds are low. So, don’t expect anything original.

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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 up 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.

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Notice her heart tattoo on her ankle...

Notice her heart tattoo on her ankle…

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… -.-

Spi

Monster High gets backlash from parents often about how “scary” their Monster High dolls look. And you know Mattel cares what parents (the people that won’t play with the dolls) think. What did they do? They just re-vamped the whole line so the monsters can look sweeter…and younger.

American Girl has gone light on the stories behind their Girl of the Year dolls, too. 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. They were just tacky altogether…

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13) Cheap Quality

Mattel always releases their dolls with the highest quality-in the beginning, during a launch, at debut. 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 toys that way. 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!

Yea, her hair seems nicer in the picture, but the actual doll is not the same!

Yea, her hair seems nicer in the picture, but the actual doll is not the same!

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14) Mattel Doesn’t Listen to YOU

You would think that when Mattel is on their 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 their best when they have competition. When they have competition, they suddenly come up with better quality ideas. Bratz kept Mattel on their toes. Myscene, Monster high, and Girls of Many Lands all came out around the time Bratz was at their 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 their 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.

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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? What products have you purchased? Have you experienced what I have or do you think I’m a load of malarkey?

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25 Responses to “14 Ways Mattel Can Screw Up a Doll Line”

  1. Blake 2014/09/20 at 20:11 #

    You really hit the nail on that one, dear. As in definitely. Sure, there are apologists who would argue that boots similar to Samantha’s existed during her time, among other things, but still it strikes to me as a mere excuse for them to cheapen the line even further.

    And don’t get me started on number 14. If Mattel couldn’t give a rat’s butt at fan suggestions for “legal reasons”, how come companies like Valve embrace and value their fans even more? They’d even buy fan works and incorporate them into their games if it’s well-made and popular enough, and gave their big thumbs-up when modders developed a Half-Life remake. It took AG three long years before they realised there’s another mobile platform with a significant market share by the name of Android, and yes, even for a good-faith, heartfelt plea from an eight-year old they’d throw something along the lines of “I don’t give a damn”, worded in a fancy yet still condescending way.

    It seems like Mattel’s fast becoming the Electronic Arts of the toy world.

    Like

    • generationnext 2014/09/20 at 22:03 #

      Yes, it’s an Android world for children-for a miniature world. And yet, they still expect us, the consumers, to barf up money…as high as $115 for American Girl. Puh-leeze.

      Like

      • Blake 2014/09/21 at 00:46 #

        I’m actually referring to the mobile games they released recently. I can understand why they won’t release games for Windows Phone, let alone Symbian. But for them to snub out Android users is rather inexcusable.

        As for the dolls themselves, I don’t think the $115 price is well justified either, considering how they practically devalued the line into a mere cash cow rather than put a balance between fun factor and actually learning more about history.

        Like

      • generationnext 2014/09/21 at 21:19 #

        Oh yes! lol I know what you’re talking about. That has happened for every one of their games so far dealing with them!

        I have yet to buy even one of their mobile games since their exclusion of Windows Phone, and I’m not surprised Android users are excluded.

        $115 for a doll and outfit is enough, $300 for a playset is absurd.

        And yet, every new brand I get sucked into. I really need to put my foot down somewhere. lol

        Thanks for clarifying and commenting. 🙂

        Like

      • Lizzy 2015/06/14 at 15:06 #

        So my sister just got a new doll for her birthday and her hair felt totally different than all of her other dolls. I think they changed the materials for the doll and I am not happy. For the amount of money that my grandparents paid for this doll, it’s is not going to stay nice for a long time like her other dolls are.

        Like

  2. Blake 2014/09/22 at 20:17 #

    Especially if it’s as plasticky as a Happy Meal toy. I don’t think the $300 price tag is well worth the purchase when I can buy a high-end GeForce, a video game console or a chock-full of groceries with that much money.

    As for Android, I’m very much surprised they didn’t develop their games for the said platform in the first place, given the market share. That, and why just do a bunch of 2D, flash game-ish titles when you can make the games in 3D like most others do? Sure, not everyone has a high-end device, but majority of phones and tablets nowadays can render a decent game at playable speeds. Not to mention that what they’re doing on mobile is getting old and stale anyway.

    Like

    • generationnext 2014/09/22 at 21:21 #

      And to top the low-budget, low-quality games off, if you try and tell them about their pathetic games, it is blown off as if you didn’t say anything. I tell you, money talks with that company, and they have lost the ability of “customer service”.

      One of their responses as to why they don’t have an Asian doll was, “There isn’t enough Asian American history to fit a six-book series”. Ever since that email caused controversy, all of the others have been automated…but they end up sounding even more douche than before.

      I looked at $300 and kept it moving. Rent, gas, the homeless, anyone can get that piece of change and live off of it.

      Like

      • Blake 2014/09/22 at 22:39 #

        For sure, they won’t give two poops at what they view as trivial or “insignificant”, like the wallpaper or a bug on the Android port of Isabelle’s game. Compare this to Rockstar Games and you’ll see why the Grand Theft Auto studio is well regarded for its community support. They even did an obituary for a certain machinima artist who passed away not long ago.

        As crass as the Facebook comments seem, this is what accounts for most of the flak AG receives on social media, because they listen way too often at investors and not at people who know better. They’re making a horrid public relations disaster of themselves.

        And true, pretty much true. I can collect dolls, but I need not to spend way too much on that as I have other needs to tend to as well.

        Like

      • generationnext 2014/09/23 at 18:52 #

        I think you make a good point about their focus on their investors and not their consumers. They care more about who is sponsoring their products than those who are buying it.

        On point.

        Like

  3. Blake 2014/10/01 at 07:30 #

    Oh, and sorry for being off-topic, but apparently your blog’s front page causes my browser to lock up and become unresponsive. At first I thought it was just my tablet going bonkers, but I end up with the same issue on my PC.

    Like

  4. freakofanime 2014/11/03 at 00:19 #

    my favorite thing mattel has even done was the winx dolls.
    they were so pretty accurate and amazing.

    Like

    • generationnext 2014/11/03 at 18:03 #

      I agree! The fashions were even amazing. I was so happy when Bloom was the main girl. She was a gorg red headed doll.

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Like

  5. M.Lives 2014/12/05 at 04:40 #

    There’s a lot going on here, but I want to address a very specific part of this post.

    Samantha Parkington, fresh from the American Girl Archives for BeForever, is actually wearing (for the most part) period-accurate fashion.
    While to those in 2014 it may look like she’s wearing “go-go boots”, those are actually accurate (even the color!) upper-class Edwardian girls’ shoes of the period. They can be found in these vintage illustrations, collected at LADL Blog:
    http://livingadollslife.blogspot.com/2014/09/admittedly-obsessed-samanthas-button.html

    Bangs are also of the period, although they weren’t when they were used for the Kirsten doll (and still aren’t; a struggling start-up company has to cut corners and it’s clear the first three Pleasant Company dolls’ “Meet” shoes and wigs were varying degrees of anachronistic). I like that Mattel has thinned the bangs considerably.
    But your statement that “no one in 1904 wore bangs” is inaccurate.

    Just a few sources:
    http://chloexoxo.blogspot.com/2012/06/edwardian-children-and-their-hairbows.html

    I agree that her headband from the BeForever accessories appears anachronistic.

    Like

    • generationnext 2014/12/05 at 18:25 #

      Even if the boots were stylish at the time, it is not the style that makes it look so modern, it’s the color! It’s an electric purple!

      Further, the boots you offered to show me date circa 1910…Samantha is about 10 years before that period. She would not have been walking around in that style of shoe until 1909, when that shoe style was first introduced.

      I do know that bangs were popular in 1904, but not quite as popular as it was in later years. But this is an adjustment I will make to my article.

      Like

  6. elizabeth morgan 2016/09/05 at 10:30 #

    My eyes are going cross-eyed from so much internet reading trying to figure out who/what this “(C) 1967 Mattel, Inc. Taiwan U.S.Pat.Pend.” African American Barbie type is/does. She has a pull out on her back and her waist is disconnected and swivels. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Elizabeth

    Like

  7. Kim 2016/11/19 at 09:27 #

    Excellent review. So many of these comments about Mattel I have noticed too. I have even commented on some items regarding quality in my reviews. A good example is that the dolls now have plastic ties around the neck. Prior to this year the dolls had strings. Lesser quality yet the prices went up.

    Like

    • generationnext 2016/11/20 at 06:36 #

      Yes, many people have a problem with the decline in quality. Money may be the first issue. But the main issue is that Mattel as a company just comes up with dumb ideas that they think will up-grade their doll franchise. It usually does the opposite.

      Mattel wants to make dolls while saving money. The result? Low-quality doll lines.

      Thank you for commenting. Can you share some of your reviews with me? I’m very curious. 🙂

      Like

  8. HopeGrim 2016/11/22 at 03:18 #

    PREACH!!!! Man, I miss doll world of my generation. I was watching an old Bratz commercial and seeing how music and pop culture has changed in a decade is amazing.

    Like

    • generationnext 2016/11/22 at 08:49 #

      Yes. It’s amazing how even 10 years can make a difference. The doll industry is so screwed up nowadays. Not only are sales low, but it seems these companies are more out of touch with kids than ever.

      Thanks for reading. This was a long one, so I really appreciate it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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    […] 6) Some of the story in Ever After High doesn’t even make sense. For instance, if Apple White is Snow White in the future, that means Raven Queen is going to be her Step Mother. Wouldn’t that make Raven Queen older? Or if not, shouldn’t she marry Apple White’s father first before she becomes evil? And shouldn’t SHE have the magic mirror, not Apple White? Plot hole alert! And if Pinocchio’s daughter is starting over as him…shouldn’t she be made of wood? More on this issue here ——>>> Mattel’s screw-ups […]

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  3. Ever After High: Is Darling Charming Apple White’s “True Love”? I Don’t Think So! | Generation Next - 2016/05/16

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  4. American Girl Introduces Five New Characters for 2017 + “Perma” Panties | Generation Next - 2017/02/16

    […] Logan is basically just “the boy”. He doesn’t get his own book. None of the books are told from the perspective of a male with a male author. He is an “accessory” to Tenney’s story, meaning he can be archived with Tenney if the situation calls for it. He is a background character, still not considered important. I mean, I guess I can just be happy they created a boy character at all. But this is one of the ways Mattel, the mother company to American Girl, has ruined doll lines before. […]

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