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If You Could Have a Bratz Series Again…

13 Oct

Hello, Generation Next readers!

I’ve noticed that the Bratz Youtube Channel has been posting all of the old episodes from the original Bratz series! I know many fans loved that series, especially Bratz fans from the U.K. and Canada.

I think I’ve shared with some of my other readers my secret dream: to write for the Bratz series, possibly even a new one! I’ve been having this idea for years. However, I’ve been losing my confidence for a minute, seeing how Hayden Williams was treated after working so hard on his dream. I also have been analyzing what fans want and I’m not sure my idea is what they might be interested in. I decided I would do a poll to better understand what fans want!

I’ve been writing a scripted series for Netflix/web/tv that is loosely based off of the actual Bratz dolls’ “life”. I really thought the old series was cute, but I would’ve liked to see some other characters get animated, like Felicia, and I would’ve liked some elements to be more true to the original design of the characters (back before release and in 2001). I haven’t pitched this script to anyone YET, but I would like to soon.

I’ve already created the pilot. I just can’t decide if it should be CGI, live action, or 2D…If it ever does get picked up…

Anyway, aside from this script, I wanted to personally ask fans: If you could bring the Bratz series back, what would it look like? Make your choice above!

Thanks if you can read and play the poll.

Bratz are Back Again! A 2018 Bratz Collectors’ Exclusive Review: Look Two

3 Oct

Uh-oh! She’s back!

What’s up readers! This is Gen Next!

I’ve had to take some time off due to my personal life. I came back and like three people dropped me from Twitter! Am I boring you? Okay, I’m not that pressed. I’m here to tell my story.

Did you hear? I was RIGHT! The Bratz are coming with TWO outfits! The Bratz 2018 Collectors Exclusive dolls’ SECOND outfits have been revealed! Yes! I’m glad we’re getting more. That has been a weakness of Bratz the last couple of years: They’ve only been coming with one outfit. Yuck! But now, I got something else I wanted and that’s two outfits!

We’re going to review each girl individually, like we did before with the first outfits. You can read and watch my review of the first outfits below.

Look One Review

The first girl we’re going to review is Yasmin aka Pretty Princess.

Yasmin’s Review

Yasmin looks so, so, SO stunning. Expressing myself in threes again.

Yasmin is like a sexy, sassy, gangster godmother. “You come today on the day of my grandmother’s funeral.” “Yah, see? Yah!” That kind of look.

She looks like she’s walking in and owning the place, like a boss. All I can say is YAS Yasmin! You’re not a princess anymore! You’re a “Gorguz” Queen!

With this look, I can honestly say less is more in my opinion. However, more accessories and details would still make this $50 worthy. It’s a stunning ensemble for sure, but more should’ve been added to give it  photo value. Hopefully, we get some of the other details when the actual doll comes out.

Honestly, there are so many people who were biased towards Yasmin from the jump, that I never worried about her sales. She’s naturally beautiful. I’m most worried about Sasha and Jade because of the Closmin issues in 2005 to 2009 (especially). But Yasmin? I wasn’t ever worried about. I wasn’t feeling the execution of her first look that much, but this one is satisfying to the eyes.

Does this look live up to her fashion passion? As mentioned in the first review, Yasmin is into retro and bohemian styles in autumn or earth tone colors. She likes exotic textures and patterns. She often blends different styles together to make one graceful look. Yasmin is considered the feminine one of the pack, and it often shows in her style.

This one isn’t quite as bohemian as her first look, but it has a retro flair about it. I would say the pin-stripe feel gives it a 1920s gangster style, but the actual suit reminds me of fashion I would’ve seen in the 1990s (especially with those pointed shoes and black at the toe).

Maybe the fringe at the end of the skirt looks a bit bohemian, since many bohemian looks have a cut-off kind of feeling to them.

Yasmin does look more feminine in this look than in the last one, but there’s also a masculine touch that’s put together in this style gracefully. Did I ever tell you all I love androgynous fashion? I would like to see an androgynous line from Bratz one day, maybe some outfits inspired from male fashion and mixed with a feminine touch or something…

Anyway, I would like to break down Yasmin’s look piece by piece.

Head

First let’s talk about Yasmin’s head. I basically covered her face in the first review, but now she’s not wearing her hat. I…honestly think she looks stunning without her hat! Her hair looks glorious. That little part on the left side is giving me vibes. I feel my life is returning.

I don’t know how I feel about those eyebrows. The arch is sharp at the top. She’s extra arched. But she’s still beautiful. I have to hand it to her.

After seeing her second outfit, I think the light makeup works more for this look than the last one. If only you could change your doll’s makeup! Hint, hint: MGA that’s an idea.

I still think a smokey eye and darker lips would add so much sass to this. But the light eyes and pink lips do this new outfit some serious justice, too.

I’m glad I can see the earrings more. I think it goes really well with Yasmin’s sassy yet professional look.

Body

Yasmin snapped in this outfit. Obviously, when I saw the artwork, I was stunned stupid. I did worry how it would be executed on the doll. Wow, did she come for me. I bounced back like a heart attack.

This outfit is business professional with a little sass. Yasmin looks like she’s on her grown woman. Someone compared this look to Meghan Markle’s style. I love the little cleave she’s showing. The ties on the front are an amazing detail. I like that the sleeves are kind of long and fall off of the wrist. I want this outfit for my very own!

The mini skirt has fringe at the end, giving even her prof look some edge. And we get to see some long legs because it’s not saturated with tacky stockings and poorly executed magenta boots!

Some people say they don’t like that it looks too professional because they envisioned the Bratz looking more like teenagers. Some young fans, even in their early 20s, feel they wouldn’t wear this. All I have to say to you is…LEVEL UP! Get on Yasmin’s level. Y’all should be trying to get those high-paying jobs. If you take tips from Yasmin’s wardrobe, you will be ready for those high-profile meetings! Especially if you’re working in the fashion industry.

I think these dolls are for adult collectors, so I don’t see the problem with her looking more grown-up. The Bratz have been teenagers for over 10 years. They have a whole empire now. It’s time for them to bear fruit from their hard work and look like they’ve worked off all their debt.

Okay, I get we were hoping to see some styles that are trendy with this new generation of teens. Bratz have always reflected what was trendy with tweens and teens. But this is kind of refreshing, bold, and new in a good way. And actually, adult fashion was something I hoped Bratz would try eventually.

I’m super glad she doesn’t look childish like in 2015. She looked corny back then, I’m sorry. They all did.

Now, as much as I love this look, I do have my own criticisms that have nothing to do with the professionalism of this look. Here me out.

The first thing I want to discuss is the fact that MGA called this “Mix and Match”. Is it really mix and match fashion? It’s more like strip the first and put on a whole new look. I can’t see mixing anything from Yasmin’s second outfit with her first! Maybe the shoes…The outfits both seem professional, but they don’t seem like they can be mixed with each other. Maybe the lace top can combine with the suit’s jacket and skirt…Okay, I can see that. Other than that, the hat from the first outfit wouldn’t be compatible with the second outfit to me. The jacket might look nice on this, but it might look like there are too many layers.

I don’t know. I have to get it up close and personal. Yasmin’s second outfit sealed the deal, so I’m buying it. But these two looks are directly exclusive from one another and I don’t see the large mix and match potential in them, at least not to my taste.

The other thing I want to talk about are some missing details that actually would’ve made this outfit even more of a stunner in the photos. Just some minor housekeeping y’all.

Looking at the artwork, I anticipated some ruffles. Now, I know some people hate ruffles and may think it’s better this way. But the way the ruffles seemed to sit in the artwork made it very feminine and appealing to me.

I was thinking the sleeves would be fit tighter around her arms and that her cuffs would have a loose ruffle feeling to them. Maybe they felt they outdid the ruffles with the last look. Still, I would’ve liked that detail. I like that her sleeves seem longer, but it also might look like the jacket is too big for her. You have to be careful with that. It’s a fashion risk. I’m glad it was taken, but it would feel more feminine if it was tighter on the arm.

I was also expecting matching ruffles at the end of the jacket and skirt. I really expected the material to be more of a chiffon. I thought the jacket would kind of hang down gracefully.

Yasmin is also missing her choker. I get the feeling they’re intending that brown choker to be used with this look and honestly…I wouldn’t. A nice black choker with a dog collar would’ve set this off.

Overall though, her outfit is still an amazing doll item. I can’t wait to own it.

Feet

Again, the shoe game continues to be the weakest part of the look for me, to be honest. But this time it ain’t as bad as it was before. The execution is better. In fact, again, I can say less is more in this case. It looks just as classy and sophisticated without the straps from the artwork.

Of course, I was hoping it would match the artwork. Where ARE her straps and why were they scrapped? That detail made the feet fierce as opposed to classic (though Yasmin tends to like that classic look, but still). Y’all know you have to come harder!

And we’ve been talking about these “granny heels”. First off, the actual heel looks a little shaky in the back. Is it just me? Or is the heel curved down in the back? Not sure, but it doesn’t look firm. That’s not a big deal to me, but I know these heels could’ve been higher and more fierce. The foot should’ve been curved bringing the heel higher. I think I talked about that problem in the last video…

Again, the shoes aren’t ugly and they are in fact very classy and stylish. I just wish they’d paid attention to the details in the artwork. Matter fact, stop showing us artwork you’re not going to live up to! Different people will expect different things. Y’all been doing this since 2002. I should’ve emphasized this in my video “Please don’t”…

Overall, Yasmin’s look is still gorgeous. Her ratings just went a little higher for me. I still would like to see WhatCollectorsWant’s take on the look. He is so talented at nailing and envisioning what fans see when they look at the artwork.

In this look’s case, I don’t care if they keep it the way it is. The outfit is still a treasure I would love to have at home. I can see some other Bratz items I can mix and match with it.

 

Jade’s Review

Overall, Jade has more of a mixed reception with her second outfit than Yasmin. Personally, I like it. It didn’t stop me in my tracks like Yasmin’s, but I’m biased towards Jade. She’s cutting edge and I love that.

This outfit fits with her fashion passion. Some people don’t get her look EVER. People didn’t get it in Strut It when all the girls had a mature vibe and she had that ballerina skirt and baby doll top, but that’s what makes her cool.

In this look, Jade looks HAWT! But somehow all the pieces don’t merge together as well as I thought they would.

The plus side is that the execution is at least closer to the artwork than the others have been. But Jade’s look didn’t appear public-friendly to begin with when I first saw it.

Does it fit with her fashion passion? Yup. Jade is cutting edge with a sizzling flair. Nailed that. She also has an affinity with the feline persuasion. She’s always a little quirky. Only Jade would shoot for a look like this.

The other pro is that there’s more mix-and-match potential between this outfit and the first in comparison to Yasmin’s in my opinion.

Head

We finally get to see Jade without her beret. A plus is that at least she has a hairstyle. But I don’t know how I feel about it. The bangs or fringe looks a little messy. Maybe they were going for that? If they were, that’s innovative, but jarring.

The electro buns on her head give me a Jade vibe. But is it just me or does one bun look smaller than the other? Maybe that’s part of the plan, too?

I don’t know about the hairstyle. I think it could’ve been executed better.

As far as the makeup, still would’ve preferred it darker like in the art and in WhatCollectorsWant’s edits. Watch my last video to see that. It will be linked below and will appear at the end of this video.

Body

I feel like I like it, but there are things that are off. First off, the fur arm warmers. They look like plucked feathers. I expected it to fall gracefully or be a lot smoother. However, it’s definitely innovative and different. It’s just not what I was expecting when I saw the art. And what I saw in the art appealed to me more.

The choker, top, and bra are killing it. However I expected the red bra to have black straps and have some black at the bottom…I like that it’s all-red though. However, some black in the top would’ve brought out the black in the fish nets.

I was expecting some red to pop up in the skirt, too. It looked like there was a shadow of red in the skirt in the art. That would’ve brought out the red in the overall look.

I also don’t like the fit of the skirt. Again, I would’ve preferred a high-waist style for this look. It looks like it was supposed to be designed that way, so it makes the skirt look like it doesn’t fit her somehow.

I was also probably the only one that thought the skirt would be denim with designs…

I still like the skirt though. It looks like it’s silky. I just don’t know if it goes well with anything in this look.

Feet

Far better executed than I expected it to be. The fish nets merge with each other and I’m living for the shoes. I still expected the heel to be higher, but it’s still a beautiful shoe. I was expecting a little bit of blue in there, but I’ll live without it. Still, we need something to bring out this blue skirt. It’s standing on its own in this look.

Overall, I like Jade’s look. A little housekeeping and I would’ve fallen in love though.

 

Cloe’s Review

Cloe’s second look is really cool to me. With some adjustments, it could be the best look in the line!

Honestly, her artwork for her second outfit was the best of all the girls to me. I’m bitter-sweet about it because I get the feeling Cloe will outsell the dolls of color (yet again), but I’m glad at least one of the dolls has a pretty cool look.

However, there are still some elements I felt could’ve been executed better. Don’t cut my throat for this, but I actually feel this could’ve been a show-stopping look if only it had those details polished from the artwork.

Does it live up to Cloe’s fashion passion? It doesn’t really give me the Angelic vibe. It gives me more of a devilish appeal.

Cloe is into setting the trends and wearing anything dramatic-like animal prints and sparkly or shimmery fabrics. She’s angelic and fluffy in her appearance at times.

This outfit is pretty dramatic, as Cloe likes. But there’s no animal print or sparkly fabrics, not even the hint of blue or pink. It doesn’t feel “angelic”. It’s more of a Jade try than a Cloe try. However, the furs add a touch of drama. Maybe the fur is meant to be that nod to “animal print”?

So far, it’s giving me a Dynamite feeling. It would’ve been giving me a Vegas tease…but I’ll get into why I feel that part of it is going over my head.

Head

Speaking of heads, let’s look at Cloe’s head. Though we’ve had a look at Cloe’s head in the first review, there seems to be a change here. Is it just me?

Are there going to be two dolls in this collection?

Personally, I don’t like the newer Cloe’s face as much as the one we just saw with her first outfit. The smokier eye was what I was living for. These eyes seem to lack color, which is a no for me. The eyes seem way too arched. Wow. It went in deep on the right!

You can’t tell me it was just the shading of the hat that made the eye look smokier. If that’s the case, I will be seriously disappointed with Cloe’s face. I hope this is just a prototype version. I mean, she’s not ugly, but I love the smoky eyes I thought I was seeing in the first photo.

Her hair seems shorter too. I personally don’t care about that as much as other fans, I just wonder why they changed the doll.

A lot of fans want dolls with long hair so they can style the hair any way they want to. I personally miss when Bratz would come with elaborate styles. That made them unique.

Again, I understand people want the option to style the dolls’ hair themselves and some people don’t want to have to maintain difficult hairstyles. But as someone who is designed-impaired and cuts like a 5-year-old, I would like an already-designed hairstyle to come with my doll so I can take photos and observe them around my home. I don’t want to put in the work I feel a doll hair stylist should be getting paid to do. If I can do the hair and design the clothes, why buy anything from a toy company? I want a full-out design, like I used to get from Bratz back in 2002 to 2003.

So far, only Jade and Sasha have given different hairstyles from the normal feminine and generic “long straight” hairstyle and even Sasha’s disappointed me a little. I already expressed my disappointment with her hair in my original review.

Anyway, looking at the rest of Cloe’s face, we can finally see the little earrings she has, which I’m okay with. I would like them to pop a little more. They can be bigger. Still, they’re cute and look pretty good.

Body

I love the little fish net leotard thing going on. That snapped, crackled, and popped for me!

Unfortunately, it looks like it’s using leftover fabric from Sasha’s outfit and I was hoping they wouldn’t be borrowing from each other, but it’s fine. I love, love, love the top to be honest. I’m expressing in threes. Since I loved Sasha’s top, I can’t help but be cool with Cloe’s.

That fur vest though…It’s giving me wicked witch of the west type of tease. It’s giving me scarecrow type of tease. It’s ready for October.

It really looks like it fell in the tub and they didn’t have time to comb it out, so they thought “Well, we will have to make it work”. I applaud the fashion risk that it’s taking, but again…it ain’t public-friendly. I think you can be unique and still appeal to the public with the right execution. This could’ve been like Bratz Fabulous Las Vegas, but it became Fabulous Lost Vegas because you lost me with these crow wings.

Here’s my thing about these furs (and I’m including Jade’s in this). I honestly thought the furs were going to start at the elbows, not the shoulders. Actually, it would’ve looked more unique and stylish moved downward. They should be falling downward, in a combed fashion.

I think the messy hair look comes across cheap and dirty. I’m not one to talk because I look like a mess everyday. But I think it’s because I’m a mess, I know what a mess is when I see one.

Purely, though, I like the idea of it with this look. It has a dangerous glam-rock feel. I get where they were going with it. With the right execution, this outfit would be set.

The pants are really cool to be honest. However, and here comes my critique, you know what would’ve really made this bomb? If it had come with that fish-netting on the side with the ties at the bottom. Yet again, another loss for not being close to the art. I preferred that detail than the four slits in the pants.

I also would’ve liked more silver ties in the front of the pants like she had in the artwork (Are there even ties anymore? I can’t tell).

However, overall, I still think this look is pretty cool. I hope it comes with the pearl choker and the glasses. Cloe looks very sleek. That art was just so mesmerizing, I did want more.

Feet

I like the shoes a lot. The solid black would look good with this outfit and with the first one honestly. I prefer it to the boots to be honest.

However, again, housekeeping needs to be done. I would like more of a curve at the bottom so the heel is higher, like what was shown in @WhatCollectorsWant’s photo edits in my first review. With a higher heel, the dolls will be fiercer. Just my take on it.

Again, Cloe looks cool and she definitely still has that Bratitude.

 

Sasha’s Review

Sasha’s second outfit is really hot. When I first saw it in the artwork, I knew I was going to like it.

I really like the doll form too. Of course, a couple of tweaks would really make this a seller. But it’s still a worthy doll outfit to me.

I’m kind of done with the pleather look though. Jade, Cloe, and Sasha have sported it. It feels like too many dolls have it. But it’s not terrible. I was just looking for something different. On the other hand, the line looks cohesive, which is always a plus.

I still like the dress. It looks really great on Sasha.

Does it live up to her fashion passion? I think it does. Sasha is into styles from the streets-a little bit of the old and new school hip-hop fashions. She’s also always on the hunt for a new look, so she’s into styles that are experimental and avant-garde as well. Sasha also likes it “flashy and classy”.

Sasha’s second outfit isn’t as flashy as the first one, but the orange pops out. It’s definitely experimental. It does have a street feeling, though it’s not quite as hip-hop as her first look. It’s still a nice look though.

Head

Without the hat, I dig the head a little more. I was expecting pigtails like in the art. Yes, I know I can make my own pigtails. But y’all, I have poor hand-eye coordination and I’m not a stylist in the least. I can quack up some pigtails. I can’t even do a simple braid right.

How do I do my hair every morning? I told y’all I’m a mess. I pass by calling it natural.

I would like my $50 dolls to come with their elaborate hairstyles already. At least advertise it to me that way, okay? Show me the possibilities. I do like the little braids. But it’s not as cute as the pigtails. I also hope the doll still comes with those hair pins or clips or whatever too…

The lips look a lot darker than they did in the last photo. I’m convinced that the lighting is playing tricks on me. I hope she comes with the dark lips. I think I told you all how much I hated those pink lips back during Wintertime Wonderland when she was clearly advertised with darker lips. Sasha looked like she was modeling for a racist toothpaste ad back during that Wintertime Wonderland release.

wintertime wonderland sasha

Racisst Darkie toothpaste

Sasha looks better with darker makeup in my opinion. Honestly, she would look better in any color but pink.

I will definitely have to see the dolls up close to really see if the makeup is what it is though.

I still like the earrings. It definitely gives a nod to old-school hip-hop. Remember back in 2K, everyone wore those huge silver hoop earrings?

Body

This is definitely a unique dress. Again, I feel the pleather material is overdone. I don’t know why I feel that way. Too many outfits have it in this line, so it doesn’t feel novel. However, it’s still a cute dress and is pretty close to the art.

I love the orange at the neckline and the wide sleeves. The sleeves are selling me. I would have to add the choker to see the full effect.

I think the other part of the dress is less impressive. A true-blue lace-up would’ve made the dress a stunner for sure. The side print-ons feel cheaper and less impressive. It doesn’t take away from the look but it doesn’t add to it either.

Feet

I like the shoes a lot. I was worried about the execution because it looked like a sock in the art. I thought it would get the Yasmin treatment. I feel the plastic was safe if they didn’t know how to execute the sock shoe.

However, I wish there was someone on board who really did know how to execute it. I think real sock fabric over a shoe would not only be innovative but truly trend-setting. And that’s what the Bratz are supposed to be doing.

Again, I feel the heel should be curved and higher, like I expressed in my first video. @WhatCollectorsWant’s edits really nailed my visions of the shoes. I want high and fierce heels. That would make the shoes better. Right now, the heel is giving me soccer/football-team-mixed-with-chess-team foot type of vibes.

Overall, I like Sasha’s look. I love the orange in the dress, even if the pleather thing is overdone. I love the shoes on their own, though I’m not sure how they fit into the whole look. It’s still very unique in the doll world.

 

Cameron’s Review

After seeing Cameron’s second outfit in the artwork, I decided I liked it way better than the first. Cameron still reminds me of a Kpop star, but it also feels a bit more true to him than that first outfit. I say that because of the casual jacket and rips in his pants. This look is less flamboyant, which is fitting for him.

Some people feel it’s too plain. I think it should be. If he had any more to him, I think it would be too gaudy. This look doesn’t need anymore. It just needs adjustment, like all the other outfits. Actually, I’ve found Cameron’s outfit to be pretty true to the art (surprise ya’ll, surprise!) or it’s basically what I expected. Still, I think there are some tweaks I would’ve added.

Now, I want to address something that’s been bothering me about some fans’ observations about him. Some of the fans have been saying some pretty homophobic things about him. If you’re saying, “Is Cameron gay now?!” with an excited tone, fine. But some people are saying, “Um, I’m not a homophobe, but…” See when you add the “but”, that means you’re getting ready to say something negative about a doll representing the gay community. I understand that Cameron hasn’t tried this kind of look before, but that doesn’t mean the look itself is bad for any dolls.

And since when did a look come with a sexuality? I think it’s pretty narrow-minded to color your critiques of the dolls with your own prejudices. I can’t respect that. Yes, I think Cameron’s first look is flashy for HIM. But I don’t see a problem with him being gay, no matter what he’s wearing. In fact, as I mentioned in my article and video about what I wanted to come back and didn’t, I want the Bratz to go back single so we can have a Secret Date line again. I hated the day these shows and movies stuffed Cloe and Cameron together for views. That’s me. You all are welcome to disagree.

I think it’s disgusting that people look down on Cameron and the gay community. Do you all not realize Carter Bryant was gay? Do you not realize gay people run this thing called the fashion industry? Get your life!

When people start to focus on what community the doll is representing, they are taking away from the real constructive critiques that should be coming with this doll.

Anyway, I’m going to talk about his look from head to toe right now.

Head

Still not feeling the head…even with a new outfit. But now…I’m seeing that the back part is plastic. Sigh. I was okay with the little long mohawk when I thought the back at least felt like hair. To find out it’s plastic…I’m beyond disappointed. It reminds me of the hair underneath the Star Stylez dolls’ wigs…Only, it’s not underneath some hair.

Again, I’ve shown how @WhatCollectorsWant made his face stronger. I prefer the softer look to be honest. I still like the earrings on his ears. That’s a detail I love.

Body

I thought Cameron’s sweater would have more black thread than white, but the white pops more than the black. I’m still okay with it. But he looks extra hot with that jacket on top. And I’m not talking about “The Blaze” kind of hot. He looks like he has too many layers.

The sweater itself reminds me of something Koby would’ve worn as opposed to Cameron, but I guess the jacket makes it look cooler.

I like the jacket. Again, it’s a gender-neutral product. I think I can have fun with it. I was expecting it to be of a white denim material, but it’s still a pretty cool piece of clothing. I don’t have a doll with this look.

I like the jeans. I like the little rips in his pants.

Overall, his second outfit is better than his first. Still would’ve liked a chain necklace with this than the pearls, but it’s nice.

Feet

Cameron’s shoes…They are just kind of bland and go with nothing in his outfit…I don’t know how I feel about these boots. To be honest, I feel disappointed because I feel like this outfit could’ve sold Cameron if only he had a different pair of shoes.

Fortunately, Cameron actually has some mix-and-match value, unlike some of the girls. I can put his black shoes on this outfit and he will be alright.

Overall, the second look is better than the first.

 

Overall Bratz “Second Outfit” Review

Overall, I like the second outfits far better than the first. They look better-executed. However, they weren’t as spot-on as I’d hoped, and it made the difference in some areas. There were some details I was hoping would actually be there and they weren’t. The details they had weren’t the ones I cared about. But the second outfits are still more on fire than the first ones and I still look forward to buying the dolls when they’re released.

Again, as I said in my first review, MGA has NEVER been good at sticking to the art. I think I told you all about my disappointment with Funk N Glow, right?

Still, we were hoping they would fix that problem in 2018.

There’s another thing I want to address: I don’t really see the mix and match potential here as it was advertised. I feel like only Jade’s outfit can be exchanged with her original in a larger capacity. Many of the accessories seem exchangeable, but not anything else. Some outfits seem set. But two outfits are better than one I suppose?

Still not feeling the faces too tough, and I was let down by Cloe’s face. But they aren’t ugly faces. I will say I like Yasmin’s pink lips better with the second outfit than with the first, but Jade and Cloe’s makeup look too underwhelming to me. Sasha’s eyes need to move to the side and needs a smokier shadow, too. They’re still pretty, just too sharp where they should be soft (like with those eyebrows) and too soft where they should be hard (like with those eyelids). Of course, that’s my subjective opinion.

The feet did better this time. Last time, they got a D from me. Those shoes were gross. These shoes are better. They still could’ve been even better, but they work this time. The execution was better this time.

As I’ve said before, you can’t please everybody. If you wanted to please me as a fan 100%, you’re bound to disappoint other fans.

I still think these dolls have some play value, even if it isn’t a playline. Again, there really isn’t anything out there like this on shelves. I’m not going to turn down dolls like this because I want to encourage more doll companies to start at least thinking about being creative and trying fashion-forward styles.

Of course, there still needs to be some polishing with these dolls, and I’m not going to end this review without saying it.

So, ratings for the second outfits:

Head Game: B-

Body Game: B+

Feet Game: B (far higher than the first pair of shoes)

 

My Overall Review of the Whole Line

Heads: B They received strikes for not having the glossy look I desired, and another strike for not having smoky eyes. Cloe fooled me. But the dolls are still pretty. I’m open to new screenings, though I still don’t think they’re as nice as older screenings. They’re still better than 2010 and 2015 if you ask me.

I also wish the hair had been styled in more incredible styles, but I guess I can do it myself. Sigh.

The hair still seems to be of good quality and the dolls are still relatively pretty.

Bodies: B All outfits look like they have real material, a sense of experimental style (which I love), two outfits, and a spark of individuality, which has been missing from the Bratz since around 2006 with Bratz Birthday and Bratz Forever Diamondz to 2008.

But strikes were given because some material was overused and I believe the execution needs housekeeping. With that attention to detail, this would’ve seemed like a high-quality doll line worth the price. I would’ve liked for it to be more like the art (which MGA has been failing at since 2002, but okay). You won’t believe how many old-time Bratz lines I’ve rated low for that reason.

It’s obvious where they decided to go the cheap route with some of the print-ons and two-toned boots. I don’t like that they decided to cheapen Sasha’s second outfit, a doll of color who barely gets any love as it is, by not adding ties to the side and real fabric on her shoes, but they did okay with adding Yasmin’s ties in the front of her second outfit and didn’t forget to add fabric to her boots. I don’t like that favoritism.

Also, they seemed to stuff too many things in one look for many of the dolls. Particularly with Jade’s second outfit and Yasmin’s first outfit, which isn’t public-friendly. However, in my case…I like it stuffed.

The second outfits were a lot better than the first though. I felt the execution of the second outfits was stronger and more public-friendly. And overall, I like many of the outfits and would probably want to wear them.

I like the articulated arms with the normal Bratz legs and bodies. As I’ve said before, I don’t care for completely articulated bodies. It makes many dolls look skinnier. It just looks awkward to me. I like this body best.

Feet: C+ The feet from the first outfits and even some in the second…The game is weak. I wanted higher heels. I’m not feeling the foot shape at all. Some of the heels were really good, but many of them were disappointing and not as striking as the art. I just prefer the art versions.

I preferred Jades’s chunky shoe from the original.

I preferred Sasha’s “sock shoe” to have real sock fabric like they gave Yasmin’s boots real velvety material.

I just really feel that Yasmin’s boot execution was not it. She’s not that girl in those boots. She’s just not that girl.

I don’t know how I feel about Cloe’s “snakeskin”, but it wasn’t what I expected and I can’t bring myself to like those boots as much as the plaid I saw in @WhatCollectorsWant’s edits.

Sasha’s camo shoes don’t appeal to me, especially with that granny heel.

Yasmin’s, Cloe’s, and Jade’s second outfits have pretty nice shoes, though I was expecting straps on Yasmin (which I would’ve loved but I don’t need) and more blue in Jade’s shoe to make that skirt pop.

However, I like that all of the shoes are very individual and unique. All the Bratz girls managed to have different looking shoes, which was a problem in the 2010 era. I still see play value with these shoes.

To the average person, these dolls may not look too different from how they once looked. I’ve heard people say the Bratz have always been gaudy.

Some people can’t really see the difference in the screenings. Some people argue that the screenings have always changed.

I’ve heard some people say Bratz should look like they’re from the 2000s…which I don’t understand. The Bratz have been about keeping up with the latest fashions.

Again, everyone will have their own opinions about these dolls. You can’t please everyone. Even Carter Bryant struggled to please everyone. But hopefully, there are fans of these dolls who will support them. That could help the Bratz bounce back.

 

Where Do the Bratz Go From Here?

According to Hayden Williams, he mostly worked on this one line.

According to him, this is just a “collaboration” and “won’t interfere with his regular schedule”.

From this, I take it he isn’t the permanent designer for the Bratz from here going forward. He just came together for this project. If these dolls do well, he might be asked to do more. But so far, we don’t know where the Bratz will go from here.

Is this a good-bye line? Or is it the first stepping stone to a new era?

If it’s a stepping-stone, there might be completely different designers for the rest of the Bratz dolls going forward. There might be a new designer every time.

On the other hand, if these dolls are a success, they may ask Hayden Williams to return. I know there are some fans who have beef with Hayden, who didn’t like his attitude in the fan community, may not like to hear this. There are still some fans out there set to flop these dolls because of that altercation in the Bratz fan community.

A lot of people said they would like older lines to be revamped into more modern styles, like Flaunt It, Beach Party, Funk N Glow, Xpress It, etc. I would like to see something like that, too.

However, at this point, Bratz doesn’t even have a team. Everyone from the old era is gone besides Isaac Larian. They have to rebuild this brand over there at MGA. Who are they going to get to do this?

I also received some interesting information about the doll industry as a whole, which affects Bratz, and is a nod as to why Bratz may have been sold as Amazon exclusives. I spoke with someone who has experience as a Senior Designer and they brought to my attention that some dolls are launched as retailers’ exclusives because the dolls wouldn’t have come about without the help of that retail company. In other words…these new Bratz dolls wouldn’t have even existed had it not been for Amazon. They are the reason these dolls are possible.

Basically, if it hadn’t been for them, the Bratz wouldn’t be back. I don’t know how I feel about that.

And this same doll designer confirmed what Carter Bryant had been saying from the jump: market buyers DO have influence over what companies produce! It’s highly likely they have been influencing the direction of Bratz from the jump.

Remember I released a video “Bratz 2018: So, What Happened to the Bratz dolls? Why Did they Go Away? Why’d they change?” If you haven’t seen it, it will be linked up below.

Taking this information I received from news articles, Carter Bryant himself, and the book “You Don’t Own Me”, I posted for all of you all reading my blog and listening to my videos everything I learned.

I had been expressing how retailers control the industry and can change every detail of a doll line they don’t like (which is why the Fashion Pixiez were changed from their prototypes to what we know today). I had expressed how I got this info from Bryant.

I shared this same information with a group of elite fans. Among these fans was someone who was hired by MGA and worked with MGA. This person has a lot of fans themselves. They’re like idol status in the Bratz community.

That “insider’s” fans had no hesitation when it came to stating I was misinformed and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. They basically came for me and said I sound dumb because I’m spreading false information. Their source was this Bratz fan “insider”.

The insider only shaded me once with a heart towards someone who had been very rude, but overall their responses have been cordial. This “insider” responded by saying basically that they have been in the room when these things “literally go down” and that mostly market buyers “write little notes” but hardly pay attention to the details of a line. Basically, they were saying I don’t know what I’m talking about. I took the L for that.

I talked about that whole conversation I had with the insider and the L I took in the video “The Truth or not the Truth! What really happened to Bratz in 2015? Why exclusive in 2018?” That will also be linked below.

I didn’t take offense. I looked at the whole ordeal as a chance to really get the truth. Maybe I was misinformed, right?

This fan insider that I spoke with said that “designers are hardly in the room with these buyers, though Bryant was more than just a designer, so he was an exception”. The “insider” also said that what happened with the Fashion Pixiez was “rare” which was why that “case was so famous”.

However, recently a high-profile designer, who goes by the name of guruuvy on Youtube, has been the Director of Product Development/ Lead Designer at Chic Boutique, the lead Barbie Careers designer for 5 1/2 years, and is currently Senior Project designer for other brands, came to me to confirm the power of retailers. The lead designer I talked to said this “INSIDER” sounds like they haven’t been in a sales meeting with buyers. Hmmm…

The Lead Designer that commented to me said this:

“A principal designer in a small company would be in the room with the sales team to pitch to the buyers, so Carter was definitely in that room every season until he left.

Some lines are launched as retailer exclusives and would otherwise not have come about without the boost from that company. (Like in 2003 when I was the Director of Product Development/ Lead Designer at Chic Boutique and was in the room with Toys R Us when they helped launch the Hottiez dolls).

Buyers can comment on everything, and sometimes will send you back to square one during a meeting.

Retailers will also request solid packs of the non-White dolls in order to order them separately and not ship them to certain locations where they will not be well received. This often results in not meeting the MOQ (minimum order quantities) for non-White dolls and having to cancel those dolls.

So even if you design the doll, the retailer might tell you that they only want 5,000 pieces (even though 10,000 pieces is the typical minimum order quantity) so it can’t be made.”

Now, in regards to the “fan insider” who said I was misinformed…It’s unclear how many of these meetings they’ve been in to assess that market buyers have little influence on the direction of the brand, especially comparing their view of the issue with these high-profile designers. When I asked the “insider” what their role was in the industry, they didn’t want to share. And that’s fine. But the high-profile designers had no problem sharing their roles and experiences, which makes it easier for me to see where their experiences are coming from.

People can say a lot of things. I think TWO, yes TWO, lead designers who clearly have the same experience, would know what they’re talking about.

I do believe that the fan “insider” was right about 2015 dolls being the result of a new anti-Bratz team. I peeped that when I read an interview about the designers some years back. I looked at the instagram of one of those 2015 workers and just knew they didn’t have that Bratitude.

However, I believe the lead designers are right in stating that market buyers carry most of the control in the doll industry. If anyone wants to dispute it, they have to prove different. That’s all I’m going to say about that matter.

With all of that being said, the Bratz have the odds stacked against them. They are moving into a new era with barely a team, with market buyers that don’t want to take a chance on these dolls, and some fan altercations and mixed reactions that put a damper on their recent project launch. It will be hard to see where they go from here.

Based on Twitter and Instagram posts, it looks like MGA and Hayden might be thinking of some makeup that could come with this new line. That sounds interesting to me. From there, who knows.

 

My Continuing Comments on the Fans’ Reactions

Continuing with the fandom drama…With the release of a lot of these dolls, there are people who are supportive and people who are not. There are people who want these dolls to flop because they don’t like Hayden and felt he wasn’t being professional when responding to the Bratz fan community a few months back. Some people might even be jealous of Hayden’s success as a designer.

Of course, there are people who really and truly don’t like the dolls and the styles presented, and that’s okay. However, there are people who do like them and think they are worth $50.

In my opinion, most people are not willing to spend $50 for any dolls nowadays. But when that price is out there, most people will be critical, as I’ve stated before.

However, if some people think it’s worth the price and they’re willing to spend their money on it, it doesn’t mean they aren’t real fans either. Even if they are new fans, it doesn’t mean they aren’t real fans. A fan is someone who shows admiration or respect for something. There are people who like the Hayden dolls and Hayden has brought them into the Bratz fandom. That’s fine.

At the same time, everyone doesn’t have to like the same dolls. If you hate these dolls, it also doesn’t mean you aren’t a real fan. Personally, and this is as an old-time fan, I get what all the criticism is about. You all have read and heard all of my criticisms thus far, right? I’m not about to bow down to every single angle of this project.

On the other hand, the dolls are still good enough for me and still seem like fun. I like to have fun with my dolls and consider all the possibilities.

People will like what they like, and it’s okay to be the Bratz outsider.

I know there will be people disappointed. Again, Bratz will never please everybody.

I personally had disappointments with Bratz Fashion Pixiez, Bratz Flower Girlz, Bratz Rock Angelz, and Bratz Forever Diamondz dolls. Come at me for it! I felt the dolls lacked individuality, their fashion passions were lost, and those dolls just looked cheap and easy to me. They weren’t the Bratz I loved in 2001-2004. But does that mean everyone who loved the years from 2005 to 2009 isn’t a real fan? No, it doesn’t.

People could easily say I’m not a real fan because I expected more individuality and detail from Rock Angelz and wanted to boycott Pretty N’ Punk for excluding the black girl in its lineup. That’s fine. I have my own taste and expectations.

But guess what? I still showed some interest in everything that came with Bratz, even the lines that were not the best. I still had fun with the Bratz lines because there was always an effort to be unique, experimental, and trend-setting. Okay, maybe 2015 was the exception, but I’m not going to say I wasn’t interested in SOMETHING. I saw potential in lines like Study Abroad and Music Festival Vibes. Bratz always had the potential to knock down barriers and I love that. That respect and admiration from me is why I’m a fan.

I just had fun with what I got and considered what I was willing to spend money on.

Even if I had some disappointments, I never really outright hated one Bratz doll. I always loved this brand for being the dolls that took risks. As I’ve said before, I’m pretty easy to please. I loved the brand for being that outlet for vision. It’s still a brand that’s taking risks, and I can only respect that Hayden brought that back. I’m glad he made the dolls more individual than before. I’m glad there’s an element of sass. I’m glad the fabric at least looks like it will feel real. The hair might even be of the finest quality.

These dolls ARE pricey, but most collector dolls are $100 or more for very little, especially when a designer is designing for a playline brand. Remember the Vfiles doll Vee? She came out in 2015 for Bratz and was $100. She came with less than these dolls and was not of the best quality in my opinion. But her price was higher than these dolls are rumored to be, which I believe these dolls are going for around $50 to $70.

VFILES_BRATZ_VEE_FILEZ_OUTFIT_2.0.jpg

So, if people think this is reasonable, they do. Maybe they’ve got it like that. Vee’s doll sold out. Apparently, someone wanted them. There’s something out there for everybody.

For me, personally, I expected the execution of these dolls to be precisely like the art in my vision, but I still like the dolls. None of them have blown me away with the wind, but I’ve mostly been interested in at least seeing them in person.

I do have a little advice for MGA and any future designers: In the internet age, fans drive brands. It’s important to listen to their concerns and respond in a considerate way when dealing with the brand. Consider everything that can make your brand successful.

On the other hand, this is my message to fans: I think it’s important for a person to stand by their designs and not sell out their vision, so I understand why Hayden stood by his looks. If a designer caters too much to the crowd, they will lose their own individuality. We have to respect the visions of each designer and give respectful criticism when we don’t like something. We should consider how everyone feels before we say something towards someone. I’m not perfect at this either, so this is just for all of us out there. Maybe we should try thinking about how we approach situations we don’t like.

At the same time, if a company like MGA is seeking to make a profit off of any future dolls, it’s better to listen to the general Bratz fandom. Don’t even listen to just me. Take a survey of everything Bratz fans are asking for and pull out the most frequently asked things. Then you will find what you’re looking for. That’s the one thing a lot of these companies are disconnecting from.

 

Wrap Up

Anyway…

When it comes to 2018 Bratz, I hope there’s more planned for the Bratz despite the setbacks. I look forward to whatever they’ve got. Even though we didn’t get all we wanted, I’m more hyped for Bratz than I’ve been the last 10 years! That means a lot!

MGA has asked if we would like makeup to come with the line. I think that’s pretty innovative and fun. I would like Bratz t-shirts and handbags (something cheap and gimmicky) in adult sizes to wear and carry around.

I can’t say I was blown away by everything I’ve seen, but I can’t say I was completely let down either. I feel bitter-sweet. I hate that so many fans feel disconnected from these dolls, but I understand fans’ desires.

Still, I honestly feel this is better than what we’ve had in 2007-2009 and some of 2010-2016, aside from the screenings in the ’07-’09 era.
Ya’ll don’t know. Starting with 2007, when they had the Closmin attacks, outfits looking like clones, and that low quality, I was starting to lose my excitement. But these Bratz dolls got me back on my toes with this brand.

I gained some of that spark and excitement with Bratz Boutique, Star Stylez (a little, not with those painted leggings on Cloe though), and Duct Tape Fashion. I was just starting to feel the dolls were on the right track, but there were some hits and misses for me in 2013 and 2014. It still felt like they were trying to play it safe, which felt uninspired. The styles and faces were still better than 2015, but the quality wasn’t as good as what Bratz had in 2015-2016.

I didn’t like the look of 2015, but the quality was pretty good. Study Abroad and Music Festival Vibes were two of my favorites from that era. Even Hello My Name is had decent quality. The style was just childish and the vibe was too safe.

Overall, I hope to see more fashion-forward and sassy dolls from this brand. Of course, I would like 2001 or 2004 screenings and designs closer to the advertised artwork. You live and you learn.

That’s my overall spin on the Bratz in 2018. Tell me what you guys think. Do you love the new dolls? Hate them? Do you think they pass or did they flop this time, too? XD Leave me a comment and we can start a discussion on it.

Bratz are Back Again! A 2018 Bratz Collectors’ Exclusive Review: Look One

8 Sep

Greetings GenNext readers!

I’m sure every Bratz fan knows by now that the 2018 Exclusive Collector Bratz dolls’ photos have been revealed on Twitter and Instagram. I planned on doing a review after we’ve seen everything from the collector line (because I get the feeling there’s going to be more leaks over the next couple of days). But I received a request to give my perspective on the new dolls, and some of ya’ll may want to know what I think thus far.

A lot of people have especially asked my opinion on the reactions from the veteran or OG fans versus the general doll community, as it seems they feel differently about the new dolls. There’s been a mixed reaction. Many of the old-time fans have been very critical of the new dolls, while the general doll community feels the dolls are better than what we’ve been seeing on toy shelves. Then, there are people who are fans of Hayden Williams’s illustrations who really wanted to see dolls from him.

So let me break down how I feel about each Bratz girl and then give my opinion of the overall line and the community situation. If you don’t like reading, watch my video below! Skip to the Bottom

Let’s talk about Sasha first.

Sasha

When I first saw Sasha’s full look on the artwork, I personally loved it, but I wondered or worried how the general fashion doll public would see it. The look is avant-garde for sure, and most people wouldn’t wear what Sasha’s wearing on a day-to-day basis. I wondered how the artwork would translate on the doll.

So far, it looks okay to me. I love outrageous fashion, as I’ve mentioned before in other videos and articles, and Sasha delivers it without being too gaudy. I don’t like the fit of the outfit, but it’s okay. I can deal with it.

Does she live up to her fashion passion? Yes! Far more than she did in 2015. Sasha is supposed to be into fashion that’s inspired from the streets-a little bit of old school and a little bit of new hip-hop. This outfit Sasha is sporting reflects a lot of what current hip-hop, Black pop, and R&B artists are sporting. I can see artists like Rihanna and Nicki Minaj wearing something like this. The jacket seems to be inspired from something Ariana Grande has worn.

Granted, it looks more like a stage outfit than something the average person would wear on a daily basis, but it’s fun. And Sasha isn’t your average character, so it suits her.

Sasha has also been characterized as “always being on the hunt for a new look”, so she’s into clothing that’s experimental and avant-garde. This outfit delivers that. She also likes it “flashy and classy”. Not sure if this is super classy, but it’s definitely flashy (without all of the colors).

Of course, it’s important for us to remember that we’re just looking at ONE outfit and a few accessories. Hayden mentioned on Twitter that there will be mix-and-match fun, so I actually look forward to whatever other surprises Hayden and MGA have with this comeback.

Okay, so let me break down Sasha’s look piece by piece.

Head

I’ve never been a fan of snapbacks advertised forward. I hated it in the artwork. I like the pulled-back look, even if people think it looks thuggish. But I like the snapback itself. It gives the entire look an urban flair that I love. It has real fabric and pleather. I love that accessory. I hope it goes with other outfits in the line. Sasha seems to have a bit of a sporty look with the snapback and jacket. I don’t know about how I like it on her head though…Or even with this outfit….

Sasha’s hair looks nice with the tiny braids. Of course, I was hoping for natural hair, cornrows, or micro-braids, but this will do. Long loose hair allows the hair to get styled in different ways. And, as an African American, I know people of other races get frustrated with our hair. Imagine being us trying to find different ways to style it everyday! I hear people complaining about the coarseness of American Girl’s Addy doll (different doll brand but still…), so I know some people just can’t get it. Still, I would’ve liked Sasha to sport some styles that are really popular in the Black community. Maybe I should be specific…Black American community…Honestly, Hayden Williams is from the U.K., so maybe the styles Black people sport there are a little different. I don’t know. Anyway…

I feel like we lost the elaborate Bratz hairstyles somewhere in 2005. It’s not bad, I just think the hairstyle set the whole outfit off. I know most people like the long silky hair because it allows people to style the hair the way they want to, but I would like some dolls to sport hair bobs, braids, etc. That’s just me. The hairstyles also give the girls individuality and add value to the photos.

Sasha’s face looks ways better than she did in 2015. Some Bratz fans don’t like that she looks straight ahead rather than giving the sassy “side-eye” Bratz are known to have from 2001 to 2009 screenings. Even 2010 dolls got the “side-eyes”.

I personally…do not care this time around because she looks sassier than the last dolls that stared straight ahead. Maybe some people will say I’m not a real fan. Honestly, I’m open to new screenings, new things period, as long as it looks sassy and not cute. I do agree she looks like the 2015 Bratz more, which I didn’t like, but I like that all the dolls do not have the same glances. I think that individualizes them.

Of course, like all the other fans, I was hoping for older screenings, too, particularly 2001 screenings. I can’t understand for the life of me why MGA won’t use them. But these are Hayden exclusives, so it’s fitting that the screenings feel like Hayden.

I do understand that the artwork may have mislead some fans. Sasha was looking to the side, so I understand that was what was expected. You’d be surprised how those little details in the art impact or influence fans.

I think the makeup is okay. It’s subtle. I was hoping for more of a smokey eye though because the artwork made it seem it would be darker on the eyelids. Still, I think it’s alright. I’m glad Hayden went with a brownish color for her lips.

I LOVE the earrings. The silvers are a nice combo. Simple yet sassy.

Overall, I think her face is okay. She’s pretty. Her eyes are staring right into me though.

Body

I love the top and jacket. The detail of the jacket is really good. Could it have been fluffier? Yes, but it’s still a cool item to have as a collector. I’ve never had a doll with this kind of jacket. I hope there’s a faux zipper on it.

I think Ariana Grande wore a similar jacket style in different colors.

I love Sasha’s top. It was the thing that made me really like the outfit. It’s dangerous. I like the fishnetting feel of it. I wish I could see the sleeves because I liked it in the artwork but I’m not sure how it translates on the doll.

I personally love the shorts-garter-pant-denim combination. It’s unique for any doll line. I was hoping the shorts would be pulled higher, basically giving it a high-waistline look as it appeared in the art. But I still think it’s okay. It looks like a gimmick though.

I wonder if the bottom of the pants can be detached. That would be cool. That would allow more mixing and matching, which would be fun. I love the denim fabric so much. I can’t wait to touch it.

I like the choker. That sets the whole look off if you ask me. I love the design.

The bag has that real fabric that I love. I love the accessories to tell you the truth.

Feet

I think the shoes are my least favorite thing about this look. I’m not a fan of the camouflage for this outfit. I was also hoping the heel would have a sharper curve and would be higher. They aren’t ugly, I just don’t like them for this look. They have a “granny heel”. They might go with another outfit of Sasha’s.

Overall, the doll is a lot better than what we got in 2015, and I feel Sasha’s is both stylish and identifiable. But I feel the execution could’ve been polished better. I actually feel this about all of the dolls. I already like them, but I think I would’ve been blown away if they had been executed differently.

What do I mean by that?

Well, a fan named @WhatCollectorsWant on instagram did some edits to make the dolls look closer to their art. I think he nailed them.

https://www.instagram.com/whatcollectorswant/

whatcollectorswant Sasha

On the left-hand side is MGA’s version The right-hand side is @WhatCollectorsWant

Notice how those slight alterations make a world of a difference. I loved these edits so much, they made me more critical. At the same time, after viewing the edits it made me want the dolls more than I did! Sasha was definitely one of the dolls that had to grow on me.

In the edit, we see the smokey eye and darker lips that were in the art. Her face seems even edgier and sassier with the darker makeup. Yes, I still prefer a “side-eye” for her. The shorts have been lifted higher and curved at the bottom, giving the doll some sass. MGA’s version looks like it’s hanging off her. The shoes are curved at the bottom making the heel higher. This edit made me like the shoes (which I wasn’t feeling too much before).

The jacket is puffier, which makes it feel much more urban and less like it’s a school windbreaker that lost its stuffing.

Yasmin

Yasmin is naturally considered the most gorgeous doll to most people, so she could easily sell on her looks alone. However, I was most disappointed with the execution of her look. When I first saw the art, she was actually one of my favorites. But the execution wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped. She’s still a good doll. When I say disappointed, I’m not thinking on 2015 terms. I just can see it being done differently.

Does Yasmin live up to her fashion passion? Absolutely! So that’s not a problem of mine. In fact, it’s why I initially loved this look so much. Yasmin loves Bohemian styles in earth tone colors, with exotic prints and textures. She combines many different styles together into one look. She is also a little retro or “antique” in her approach.

This outfit has that Mary-Kate Olsen “homeless trash” bohemian look. I don’t know if any of you all are familiar with the Olsen twins, but one of the twins are known for that look. It’s “bohemian-bourgeois”. I really like that about Yasmin’s outfit. There’s some hint of retro in there as well.

Overall I like the concept, but I wish it could’ve been executed differently, particularly with one aspect of the look.

Head

The hat is my favorite part of the look to be honest. To me, it looks better than the artwork. I like that detail in the middle. I’m not sure, but is there lacing in the middle? I think it’s dope. I would wear it. I was hoping the buckle would be more to the left like it was in the art, but I don’t care about it that much. The hat is still awesome. I love flamboyant hats like this.

This is kind of a throwback to the Rock Angelz days, and honestly really a throwback to the 2K era when these newsboys caps were popular. Yasmin is into the retro thing, so it’s fitting.

I notice that everytime Bratz is promoted with hats, the fans hate it. Many fans didn’t like the Rock Angelz hats. I was mad when my dolls didn’t come with it. I hope these dolls still come with the hats. I know it’s hard for some fans to like hats because of the Bratz dolls’ balloon heads. But that makes me love them even more!

Yasmin’s hair is silky, long, and strong, as usual. It’s fluffy and full and seems to be of good quality.

The face has that side-glance everyone loves. It does make her sassy. I think this is why everyone loves the actual doll so much. But as for me…I think the makeup is too light. A lot of fans actually like the “pink lips”. I preferred the darker nude pink I thought she would sport. Darker lips would give Yasmin more edge, drama, and would go with her autumn-earth-tone nature. I was also hoping for a smokier eye.

The new face is sweeter and softer, so I know it resonates with fans who see Yasmin as a “princess”, and their idea of a princess is someone who is feminine and sensitive. And she is all of that, but it just doesn’t give me the vibe I thought it would.

I LOVE the earrings. It looks so amazing against her outfit and hair.

Body

The choker looks really good. Once again, the jewelry is really cool. I love that aspect.

The top looks like it has lace detailing on the torso, as was specified. I like this top  even though it wasn’t what I expected. I was waiting for more of a sweetheart shape to her neckline. I would like to see the top without the jacket to see if the other aspects are there.

I really like the jacket. It’s definitely that “trash boho” look. I like the detail and it looks like it will feel real. I like the lace on the sleeves. Some fans have said they don’t like it. I love that lace detailing. It reminds me of Prince. I would’ve liked there to be more brown in the jacket to make the skirt pop. But I’m not mad. Boho isn’t meant to really match.

Some people also said they hate the skirt. I like it. I like the suede style of it. My only complaint with it is I expected it to have a high-waist style (just like Sasha’s shorts). I expected it to be tucked tighter or pinned in around the waist like in the art. I still like it well-enough though. It doesn’t “wow” me, but it’s decent.

The bag is really cool. I love the texture and pattern. It looks like a computer bag, but that’s really fun to have in doll form.

Feet

The boots…Ya’ll I think Bratz’s foot game this comeback is a little weak to be honest. And it’s not really the style in all of the cases, it’s the execution.

With Yasmin, it’s a little of every problem for me. First off, they gave her the Dynamite Nevra treatment.

Basically, instead of making a whole boot, they took two parts and put them together to make it looks like a knee-length boot. Nevra got away with it because at least the bottom color matched the top color.

I know there’s an issue with Bratz and knee-high boots because of the snap-off feet. But I think it could still be executed differently. I think the fabric from the bottom could’ve been placed over the root of the foot and stretched higher. They wouldn’t have to make two parts to do that. Maybe it’s just not difficult in my mind?

I think the top half of the boot should at least look like the same fabric as the lower half…

Some fans thought it was going to be socks or short stockings and heels. I thought the boots were going to be of the same material as the hat. I would’ve liked it to be of a darker leather material. It seemed shiny somehow in the art. I wasn’t expecting velvet, but the velvet could’ve worked with a different execution.

Overall, I think Yasmin’s look is still very stylish, but the boots really throw the look off for me. I hope there are some other shoes in the set. I guess I can always take the top half off, but then I still feel like there’s something missing…The velvet magenta is completely out of place.

I liked What Collectors Want’s take on Yasmin. Still not a fan of the velvet magenta, but I liked his execution and wonder why they didn’t go for it at MGA. At least the velvet magenta sets off the trash boho look.

whatcollectorswant Yasmin

On the left-hand side is MGA’s version The right-hand side is @WhatCollectorsWant

The eyes are smokier in his version. The lips have that darker nude color. It gives her so much edge in comparison to the pink lips. The top has the sweetheart design I was expecting. The skirt is tucked in higher. Most importantly, the boot looks like it belongs together with itself. The bottom half is cut just right so it looks like at least most of the shoe is complete. I also like the lace detailing at the top of the boot, too.

 

Cloe

Overall, Cloe’s look is one of the most public-friendly of the Pack. I like the leather details in her look.

Does her look live up to Cloe’s fashion passion? Probably not as much as some of the others in my opinion. It definitely reflects her sweet and tough personality though. Cloe’s fashion passion includes animal prints and sparkly or shimmery fabrics. She loves anything dramatic. I don’t think this outfit is particularly dramatic. But it is in Cloe’s favorite color blue. Her boots are also in a “snakeskin” design, which says “animal print” to me.

Head

I love the leather hat. I love leather hats. I loved the star detail in the art and was hoping that would be included, but it doesn’t need that gimmick.

I love Cloe’s face the most. Oh my goodness! She looks gorgeous to me. I love the puckered red lips and smokey eyes. Definitely has that Bratitude.

I can’t really see her earrings clear enough. I hope she still has the pearls.

Her hair looks nice, fluffy, and full. Overall, her head is my favorite. It gives me a Ooh La La type of tease. The eyes aren’t quite as seductive, but it’s still near to that level.

Body

I find it interesting that they traded Cloe’s beaded necklace for the new one. I really like the new one, but I hope she still comes with the pearls. I think it gave her look a sweet touch.

The top of the outfit is not my favorite to be honest. I don’t like the collared thing, and pulled up…it looks worse to me. I hope it can be pulled down a little more to give it a true-blue off-shoulder look though. I love the detailed corset in the middle.

I think the skirt is nice and I like the little chain on it, but I was expecting shorts. When I saw the dolls’ group photo, I decided I like the skirt a lot. Still, I thought shorts would be really unique. It would feel like a one-piece jumper, which we haven’t seen with Bratz.

To me, it looked like it was meant to be shorts, but someone said Hayden intended it to be a skirt, so… I’m wondering what that shadow in the middle of the artwork’s skirt is because it makes it look like shorts.

I was expecting the bag to be much smaller. I thought it would be more like a clutch. But I like the big bag. The chain on the strap is just very cute. It’s better than the basic strap in the artwork. Wouldn’t it be cool if we got both purses? That would make this the ultimate mix-and-match line.

Feet

I’m okay with the snakeskin look. I feel it fits with this edgy look and I think it highlights Cloe’s interest in animal-print. However, I was expecting more of a plaid pattern. Someone told me on instagram it was always supposed to be snakeskin…I don’t see it. Honestly, I preferred the plaid one simply because I feel the heel should’ve been higher and actually thicker like in the art.

Though I like Cloe’s look, What Collectors Want also showed some edits that I feel are more true to the art and make Cloe’s look better in my opinion. I think the edits basically nailed it.

Cloe has the star on her hat. Her collar is shaved down to give her a true off-shoulder look. I like the unique shorts. The plaid boots make the outfit pop. I like the higher heel.

Jade

When I first saw Jade’s teaser artwork with just the pants, I had very low expectations. It turns out Jade is my favorite by far! The irony! Jade has always been one of my favorites. I love her style. Some Bratz fans have said they’ve seen a look like this on her before and that it’s nothing new, but that’s why I like it. It feels like Jade.

Does it live up to her fashion passion? DUH! Jade is always on the cutting edge of cool! Jade is into anything quirky and extreme. She can be a little sporty, too. She is inspired from the feline persuasion and has a “sizzlin’ flair”. This outfit just screams Jade from head to toe.

Head 

I love, love, LOVE the beret hat. It is so unique in the doll world. I like the look and it seems like it will feel good to the touch. It’s very artsy.

Her face is the closest to how I envisioned her. Still would like smokey eyes, but I like the lips well enough. Her lips could have been a tad bit darker.

The earrings are cute.

She’s back with the bangs. But are the bangs a little asymmetrical or is that the hat making it look that way? In any case, it’s Jade’s signature look done in a very stylish way. I like.

She’s giving me chills with that side-eye. I’m for it.

Body

I know we aren’t seeing too many accessories, but the other girls were shown with their necklaces. I hope Jade still comes with her choker because that will set this look truly on fire.

I like the top so, so, so much. I have to express myself in threes. So, so, so! Even though the tassels or tighteners or whatever weren’t in the original artwork, it should’ve been! I haven’t felt an outcome was better than the artwork in a long time.

Okay, there is one thing I don’t love. I can’t say for certain yet, but I hope the tighteners on the top aren’t print-ons and are real. Still, it looks good. I love the netted arm pieces.

Okay Jade! Over here looking like a snack!

The pants even look better than I thought they would. I actually like the fire print. This is actually what I expected of Sasha back in the 2002 Funk N’ Glow era. I didn’t expect fire, just actual print. I wasn’t disappointed in Funk N’ Glow, it just wasn’t what I expected.

 Bratz_Funk-N-Glow_Sasha_Doll

But back to Jade…

Jade’s purse is like a flame in Jade’s hand. So amazing! Of course, I liked the darker purse, too. Ugh! If only I could have both!

Feet

Okay, I felt all of the Bratz girls’ feet game were weak this time around. Jade’s is probably the best. Her shoes really go with her look. I still feel like it is weak in comparison to the chunkier look in the art. The shoes in the art really felt like BRATZ. It also gave Jade her signature cutting edge flair. Jade isn’t just any stylish diva, ya know? She’s got to be different. She’s got to be the Queen of Hot Topic, ya know? But the shoes aren’t the least bit ugly. They just feel conforming, so it’s less impressive than the chunkier heel. It seems they dumped some shoes on her from their back closet.

Overall, I feel Jade still has the strongest look of the girls. I can’t wait to get her and see whatever else she comes with. What Collectors Want did an edit of hers as well and again it was AMAZING! However, I can say both versions are really good. I prefer Hayden’s tighteners hanging down.

But I think What Collectors Want nailed the hugging of the jeans. The lips have a slight darker tint, making it super sassy. The hat isn’t as wide, which makes it look even more stylish instead of like a pankcake. The choker definitely sets the look off. But I think the accessories will still be included.

Those smokey eyes though! I just really like that in the edit.

 

Cameron

I’m really bitter-sweet about Cameron. First off, when I saw his complete look, I wasn’t all over him. It’s not the design. That’s the sweet part. I think it’s amazing for a boy doll! But the bitter part is it doesn’t feel like Cameron.

The boys never really had fashion passions like the girls, but Cameron always struck me as a casual and masculine guy, not full of flounce or flash. The jacket is super flashy for Cameron. What he’s wearing is something I would expect of pimp-daddy slick “The Fox” Dylan, not casual cool and hot “The Blaze” Cameron.

That’s another thing that I’m salty about. There’s no Dylan, our boy of color. I can’t get too excited about Cameron returning if it’s not both core boys returning. Having Cameron without Dylan is like releasing Bratz with just Cloe and Yasmin (which creates a Closmin problem). I hate that white boy Cameron with the blonde hair and blue eyes gets all the attention.

But I like him well enough to think he’s worth a purchase. He kind of looks like a Kpop star, only he’s white. I think he looks okay if I wasn’t thinking of Cameron. The hair is also…a no. The jacket is meh. I will also say this: MGA betta not forget Dylan again. I’m forgiving to a certain extent, but that extent isn’t limitless.

Head

I’m surprised Cameron didn’t come with some sort of hat. Maybe he will with the actual collection.

I don’t hate his hair as much as I thought I would. I like the platinum look. But I was expecting more of a curl on the side. Really, just not a fan overall of his hair.

I’m loving his face more than I expected. The eyebrows look far more like it matches a blonde. The artwork’s eyebrows were really dark. But the eyes are spaced out for sure.

I’m glad they kept his earring detail. Finally, the boys are getting more jewelry.

Body

I have one question about Cameron’s necklace: Did they switch his chain for Cloe’s pearls? Move over Cloe! Cameron is the new “Angel”? That’s what it looks like. I think that’s BOLD and everything, but I really liked the chain necklace. I’m hoping Cameron still comes with the chain necklace. It felt more like Cameron.

Cameron has been seen in plaid tops before. That seems to be his staple. What I like about this top is that it brings out his eyes. I would like to see it without the jacket though.

The jacket is flashy for Cameron, but still very detailed and has great quality. I like the furs. I think the jacket can work for any character, so it’s a gender-neutral product. I can see myself having fun with it. The jacket itself is a lot lighter than I thought it was going to be, but it doesn’t take away from it for me.

I like the jeans and the little chain on the side. It’s ok.

Feet

I think the shoes do. The shoes do their job.

What Collectors Want did an edit of Cameron, and honestly I like it better.

what collectors want cameron

On the left-hand side is MGA’s version The right-hand side is @WhatCollectorsWant

The hair has that unique curly thing going on. He has a darker jacket, which makes it look edgier. He has more of a dimpled chin and stronger cheekbones in the What Collectors Want version, which is similar to the style of the art. His buttons aren’t as huge and clownish. It looks more natural.

Cameron is just getting tanked by the Bratz community overall. There are some people who like him and what he represents, but he just looks gaudy and like a different Bratz boy.

Overall Review

Overall, I got some things I wanted from this comeback. I wanted dolls wearing real materials with high-quality hair (It looks high quality, but we shall see). I wanted the dolls to be more individual than they’ve been since 2005. I especially felt the dolls lost their individuality with lines like Bratz Passion for Fashion Diamondz and Fashion Pixiez. I wanted the sassy Bratz look back and I wanted an edgier look. I got it.

Of course, I didn’t get everything I wanted. I really wanted 2001 screenings. I wanted more elaborate hairstyles, especially Sasha in African American hairstyles, and I was hoping the looks would be executed differently. But overall, I’m okay with them and will be buying the dolls to get a closer look.

To be honest, I’m simple to please and a sucker when it comes to buying things I’ve always loved (I even went out and supported some dolls from the 2015 era). Give me some personal vision, style, edge, and sass, and I’m sold. I don’t even care about screenings (as long as it looks sassier than 2015) or articulation. I like the outfits well enough and I think there’s more coming. Truly, I can’t give a complete review until I see everything. So far, I’m okay with them. But they didn’t blow me away like I thought they would. Though I feared whether Bratz could deliver from the jump…Read my article on that.

If I wasn’t a big fan of Bratz and hadn’t really seen better, these dolls would be some of the best dolls ever. But because I’ve been such a huge fan of the dolls and I’ve seen their entire collection and evolution, I am critical.

Are they worth the price? I don’t know. I have to see them up close. So far, I think they would work at 20.00 or 30.00 USD. 50 to 70 USD is asking for a lot. They look good, but not THAT remarkable.

Head Game: B

Body: B

Feet Game-D

OG Bratz Fans V.S. The General Doll Community On the 2018 Bratz

Now, let’s talk about the community situation. I received a request from someone to do my review on the 2018 Bratz dolls because it seems old-time fans and the general doll community disagree about the results of the new dolls. It seems veteran fans (O.G. fans like myself) have critiques and criticisms, while the general doll community feels these are the best dolls coming out in today’s struggling toy industry, considering fashion dolls are becoming covered up and watered down. The general doll community feels these new Bratz dolls look better than what’s out on toy shelves.

I’m kind of caught in the middle.

First off, on the one hand, as a veteran fan, I understand old-timers’ frustrations with the 2018 dolls.

I believe that the longer you’ve been with a franchise, the closer you feel to it, the pickier you’ll be, even when you’re being handed something the average person loves. When you’ve seen everything Bratz has offered, it’s harder to feel satisfied with these dolls, especially when you’ve seen better executions and don’t like change. Our expectations are much higher for sure.

It’s frustrating when you’ve been asking for the same things for almost 10 years and you’re not getting it. Bratz fans have been asking for older screenings since the Bratz dolls’ 2010 relaunch. We’ve been asking for them to pay attention to details, to stick to the artwork a little more, among other things. The fabric is of decent quality and it is rather stylish, but the execution wasn’t as expected, which takes away from it.

This is Bratz’s first comeback since 2015 and was said to be for the fans. Hayden Williams, who has been a fan since 2001, was expected to bring other fans everything they’ve been asking for, especially with those faces. Fans also wanted articulated bodies because so many dolls have them. It’s almost expected. I’ve personally always hated articulated bodies with Bratz, but I know that most of the other fans wanted them because it makes the dolls more photogenic. Basically, the OG fans were looking for a designer to balance fan expectations with their own visions. They were looking for a designer that took in fan feedback.

The other problem is the rumored price, which is a problem for a lot of people, but especially OG fans. The dolls are said to be so expensive and that makes people more critical. They not only expect to get their money’s worth but they have to weed out the dolls they really don’t want in favor of the one they do so they can at least have one doll. I personally understand why they gave it the price they did. Because of inflation and the fact that the materials used for these dolls cost more than they did 10 years ago, I get the price, even if I don’t think these dolls are worth it. But others don’t get it. They also don’t understand why it couldn’t have been executed closer to the artwork.

Veteran fans believe it was Hayden’s idea to not only market these dolls on Amazon but set the price so high. I believe one fan said Hayden asked fans where they feel the dolls should be sold.

The price may not be unusual for fans who usually spend hundreds of dollars on their collections, but for a first 2018 comeback line and for regular playline fans, the pricing is too high. This is especially the case with OG fans who really don’t like these dolls as much as older dolls, and want to spend this kind of money on rarer dolls they actually like.

Some OG fans don’t necessarily have an issue with the style but the execution. With that, I have to agree to an extent, particularly with the Bratz shoes this time around. It could’ve been done in a more polished fashion. In fact, many aspects of the dolls could’ve been executed differently.

Fans don’t like that the clothes deviate from the artwork. I’m frustrated about that, too.

But that’s been frustrating me since 2002’s Funk N’ Glow. As I mentioned before, I was hoping Sasha would have yellow print on her jeans in that line because that’s how it looked in the artwork. It always reminded me of some Pepe jeans I had back in the day. I don’t know if any of you all remember Pepe. I was a little disappointed the doll wasn’t like the artwork. So again, every detail hasn’t been executed flawlessly in the past either. Yet, some fans act like the dolls coming out of the old eras were superior. They were beautiful, but not flawless.

Then again, I would say that was one thing we were hoping would be fixed in 2018.

Here’s where I agree with the general public though. These dolls are some of the best to come out in a long time. You can’t find dolls of even this quality anymore. You can’t find dolls sporting designer styles, even if the designs aren’t to everyone’s liking. You can’t find the same individuality anymore. These dolls are still good dolls and I see tremendous play value in them. Unfortunately, it should’ve been a playline, but there’s still some play value no matter what label is there.

These dolls aren’t childish. They have style, vision, and substance. They’re like Project Runway dolls-they have the designers’ stamp on them. They’re fan-made dolls. I haven’t liked many of the Project Runway dolls and outfits that have come out with American Girl, Myscene, or Barbie and never felt they were worth the price. But that’s designer dolls for you.

Just to have that is exciting for me. I think the dolls have character, so I’m excited to see whatever else they come with.

Now, can I spill some tea for you? I have a feeling where the source of all of this Hayden hate is coming from. This is just my theory. I feel like Wendy Williams or LovelyTi right now. I feel like saying, “Honey!”

Apparently, a while back, Hayden Williams had been sharing either his designs or screenings with some fans in an online Bratz fan community. I believe he was apart of the community. A lot of old-time fans as well as MGA’s “worker” fans frequent this community.

Now, this community allows people to be a little shady, okay? So, while Hayden was showing his latest creations, one fan told him something along the lines of this, “You should just scrap the whole thing, to be honest”. Hayden clapped back with a “Jessica Price” statement. If you don’t know about her, she worked on the Guild Wars video game series. When a fan commented their disagreeance towards her (though the fan wasn’t as disrespectful as the Bratz fan), she tweeted “Allow me-a person who doesn’t work with you-to explain to you how to do your job”. Hayden didn’t say that exact thing, but he was saying something similar.

The fan and Hayden had an exchange back and forth afterwards. By the end of it all, the fan community was basically divided. There were many fans that supported this “rude” fans’ comments. A lot of fans agreed that Hayden’s dolls were not meeting their standards and they felt that Hayden was too arrogant to listen now that he was working for MGA. Some fans felt his response wasn’t professional. They felt he didn’t listen enough to fan criticism either.

But there were also some fans in the community who supported Hayden, felt the fan brought their concerns to Hayden in a rude way, and they felt this fan jumped to conclusions before even seeing the dolls.

I wasn’t there personally. As I’ve said on many occasions, I haven’t been an active part of a Bratz community since they had that Yahoo Group. I found out the tea from Askfms. I just recently joined the Bratz Collectors! community on facebook, and they seem more polite and friendly. Some of these other groups…All I can say is be careful out there. They can drain the fun.

Because I hadn’t been really paying attention to the Bratz fan community that Hayden was in, I jumped in many conversations, trying to be neutral and see the good in the Hayden dolls. But it seemed the nicer I tried to be towards Hayden and his dolls, the more aggressive people became. They weren’t having it. In my last article, I talked about how shady some of the people were in the fan community.

Now, I understand why they were being shady towards me. I was being too neutral or giving Hayden too much credit in their eyes. I was giving too many “excuses” or not allowing fans to express their criticism, which they felt had been the situation since the Hayden dolls were announced.

This is the point I want you guys to understand. A lot of the people criticizing Bratz aren’t necessarily against the dolls themselves but the designer. I know two people who said they wouldn’t buy this line because Hayden left a sour taste in their mouths. I was very shocked.

Basically, they let their interaction paint their bias against the dolls. Even if they did like the dolls, they wouldn’t want to admit it. Even if they did like the dolls, they don’t want to support someone they feel doesn’t listen to them. Some of them are out to try and flop these dolls. Some of them are going on social media websites and picking everything apart just so Hayden will realize that fans impact the success of the doll brand. I’m sure that one fan Hayden got into it with doesn’t want to buy these dolls.

Me? I don’t have beef with Hayden. Hayden responded to one article of mine to correct something and thanked me for complimenting his artwork because I’ve always loved his illustrations. I even like his recent Rugrats design. I appreciate Hayden’s efforts to try and get these dolls back to their glory. It’s not easy trying to please so many different people.

However, I think all workers at MGA have to understand when people are asked to spend so much money, they will expect to get their money’s worth. When you say something is for the fans, fans expect you to listen to them. This goes with anyone who works with the brand or any brand really.

On the other hand, I can say I understand why Hayden snapped the way he did, if he did at all. I’ve felt that some people in this particular fan community react in very shady ways. They have made subtle rude statements. It’s not so much what they say, but the way they say things, you know?

If they had said some things in more of a respectful tone, maybe Hayden would be reconsidering his ideas or trying to curb the designs to fit fans’ expectations. But with so much hostility, he probably got stubborn and went through with his vision.

At the same time, everything public figures do impact the business. Public figures are always going to encounter rude people, but you sometimes have to redirect the rudeness or take it and turn it into a positive.

I’m learning that, too. I have to be very careful how I treat or react to people, even rude people, because it can hurt my business. I’m still learning this. There’s an art to it that can be hard to figure out.

Hopefully Hayden can eventually make peace with fans and hopefully fans can be more understanding of Hayden. I hope the beef is squashed so people can go back to having fun within the community.

The dolls aren’t bad. They actually look like a lot of fun to me, but if we let petty squabbles blind us to the fun of doll collecting, if we get so caught up in the individual trees we miss the forest, we will miss the joys of doll collecting.

Some people might feel that these fans take a bunch of dolls way too seriously. I agree with that to a certain extent. However, I believe for a lot of “fans”, they have built a career in the doll industry and many fans are working with the Bratz dolls specifically. Once something becomes your profession or your passion, you start to take it seriously. I think the issue is when someone’s professionalism is challenged, so is their pride and livelihood. That makes a world of a difference. When you have such a passion for dolls it becomes your career, these dolls become more than just playthings. I think that’s what’s been going on in theBratz doll community.

The general doll community just collects dolls as a hobby and wouldn’t want to take dolls seriously.

Then, on the other hand, we have to consider there are fans of Hayden who will like anything he throws out there and may be against any little criticism thrown his way. I personally love his illustrations, but I felt the execution of these dolls could’ve been better. Fans of Hayden might feel these dolls are their taste or they might even think Hayden had no hand in the execution and don’t want people blaming him. Hayden said on Twitter that MGA gave him full control, so…

Many Hayden fans are/were not originally Bratz fans, especially not serious collectors. Again, in the average person’s mind, these dolls are very stylish and different. That’s actually a good thing when considering the success of this doll franchise. We might get some new fans. However, the OG fans of Bratz might feel left out of this comeback.

I think the overall consensus is that most fans feel these dolls are for Hayden fans not long-time Bratz fans. Hayden himself is a fan, but did he know about all of the complaints the inside Bratz community have been having over the years? Did he understand fans’ desires for 2018? Did he realize what fans expected? These are key things to know before jumping into designing or marketing Bratz to fans.

I do think Hayden got the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m happy a male of color received this opportunity. I just hope the details are polished by the time of release and I hope they come with other interesting pieces.

Well, that’s my spin on the 2018 Bratz Collector dolls SO FAR! Second outfits still haven’t been revealed. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the 2018 Bratz comeback! Who’s your favorite? What do you think about the community drama? Let me know!

 

American Girl’s Newest Girl of the Year Doll 2018, Luciana Vega, Takes Us Into Space!

1 Jan

Greetings readers!

American Girl has released a new doll for their annual Girl of the Year line! Her name is Luciana Vega.

If you don’t know what American Girl is, and what all the excitement is about, I will explain it to you.

American Girl is the name of a company that produces and sells dolls meant to relate and inspire girls through realistic fiction and toy models. They have produced several lines since the company was founded in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland, an educator from Illinois, who had a vision to give girls better role models through their playtime than what was offered at the time.

Since then, American Girl has produced a line of historical dolls, accompanied with books, now called Beforever, plenty of contemporary dolls and characters, one of them being the Girl of the Year line, custom doll lines like Truly Me, a line for those of 3 to 5 age called Bitty Baby, and a line for children of early grammar school age called Wellie Wishers. American Girl has had many other lines throughout the years as well.

One of the biggest traditions at American Girl is the unveiling of the Girl of the Year doll and book, along with her collection.

Lately, there has been a push for American Girl to include a more “diverse” range of characters into the brand. Girl of the Year has especially come under fire because since 2001, the Girl of the Year line had been filled with “white American” characters.

In 2017, an African-American character was introduced. Of course, the response was split (with half of the fandom excited that there was finally a Black doll and the other half being upset that her collection seemed rushed, stereotypical, and that her doll mold was released before as a Truly Me).

This year, in 2018, Luciana Vega will be Girl of the Year’s second Latina character (Marisol was released in 2005).

There are other things that make Luciana Vega special. Her story is the first to completely center on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), particularly space science. Luciana Vega’s dream is to lead a team to Mars! The only other American Girl that showed interest in anything close to science was Lanie, Girl of the Year 2010 (Earth science particularly).

In our social and political climate, where there is a push for girls to have the best role models, models that encourage girls to be strong, intelligent, and to reach for their farthest dreams, Luciana is certainly a reflection of the times. This makes her fitting to represent the girls of 2018. Our girls are growing up in a time where they are allowed to be as courageous as the boys!

Let’s get inside her story!

Book 1 synopsis for LUCIANA- In this first book of her series, Luciana is over the moon—she’s going to Space Camp! But when she’s picked to lead her team in a robotics challenge, instead of rocketing her crew to success she steers them straight into trouble. After that, her teammates don’t trust her. In fact, Luciana’s pretty sure they don’t even like her. It’s great to be good at science—but Luciana learns that it’s not enough. If she’s ever going to make it to Mars, she has to be someone her crew can depend on, no matter what. 

Book 2 synopsis for LUCIANA: BRAVING THE DEEP- In her second book, Luciana can’t wait to take off for youth astronaut training camp. She hopes to be chosen to dive to an underwater habitat where real astronauts train for life in space. But when Luciana accuses her diving partner of sabotage, no one believes her and her chances of making the diving team sink fast. Things hit rock bottom when Luciana has an underwater crisis. Suddenly, making the dive team isn’t her biggest worry. She’ll have to conquer her fears if she ever wants to make it to Mars. If she can’t, will she have to kiss her dreams of becoming an astronaut goodbye? 

A third book is due out in March!

Luciana

Book 3 synopsis for LUCIANA: OUT OF THIS WORLD- In her third story, Luciana and her family are headed to Chile for winter break. Luci can’t wait to see her cousins — but the reunion doesn’t go as planned, and Luci feels like an outsider in her own family. Just then she receives a surprise invite from Claire Jacobs, her frenemy from astronaut training camp, to join her at the Mars habitat in the desert and watch NASA scientists at work. It’s an offer too good to refuse, so Luci decides to leave her cousins and give her friendship with Claire a second chance. But what if Luci has made the wrong decision? What if she still can’t trust Claire? When disaster strikes in the desert, Luci finds out the truth.

This article will be updated as more books are released. Girl of the Year has recently had several books introduced with the line. More stories are expected to be released for Luciana as well. And crossing fingers for a movie release!

Now, let’s examine her collection!

As new items are released, I will update this article!

The Girl of the Year is usually only around for one year or while supplies last. American Girl has stated since GOTY of last year that the dolls will be available beyond their year of release, but there won’t be much produced.

Review

Pros

For the first time, in years, I have very little negative to say about American Girl’s product! This is my dream doll, the doll that I’ve been hoping would come out of American Girl! Finally, there’s an American Girl that steps outside of what is deemed normal for little girls! I’m so impressed with this bold move from American Girl. I will list the pros in order and give details:

Space Concept

Last summer, I visited the Adler Planetarium (which I hadn’t visited since I was a child), and my fascination with space grew from there. As a child, it was cool, but as an adult, I was really able to take everything in! Then, I happened to join a NASA employee when welcoming the solar eclipse! I had many outer-galactic experiences last year.

So when I found out Luciana was going to carry the space theme and launch this year, I was over-the-moon!

And have you seen Luciana’s website? Go on over to the website! It’s just so cool! http://play.americangirl.com/play/girl-of-the-year/luciana/

Luciana’s world is mysterious, exciting, and next-gen. I love it.

Maybe it’s a little cliché for some people (Star Wars was one of the biggest movies last year, and it was driven by a female lead). But for me, I’m just excited for the fact that American Girl is releasing a doll that encourages children to think beyond the norm and step out of the boundaries of their gender, race, and human existence entirely! That’s something to applaud.

I even like the space suit, even if I think that it is the most cliché item in the collection. I can imagine being a geeky space nut child and wanting for once, just once, to try on a space suit. Don’t know how it connects to the book, or if it’s even realistic, but it’s just so awesome and mesmerizing, I want it anyway! I just want to see the design.

And maybe the dress is a little too “galaxy-ready”, but what can you expect from a character that’s supposed to be obsessed with space?

It feels a lot more time, care, and energy went into this concept this year. Not sure about the quality just yet, but so far it looks good.

Doll of Color

We’ve got another doll of color this year! That’s something to celebrate! We have the second Latina character, and she’s from a family of Latina immigrants. What makes this all even better is that her concept isn’t stereotypical (as has been the case with other Girl of the Year characters of color, just from comparing her to the few they have had). Though Latinas can be any race, they do carry a strong distinctly unique cultural history in the USA.

One small step for women, one large leap for all the Latina women!

Cons

As with everything I write, I try to objectively see the pros and cons, though there are very few cons this time around.

The Book Cover

I’m bitter-sweet about the book covers. If you’ve been following American Girl, you will obviously see that Luciana’s book covers just don’t fit with the other realistic fiction titles that have come out of the company.

As a lover of artwork (look at my background), I love the more cartoon-ish look in its own right. But the American Girl fan in me can’t totally get on board. One of the most appealing things about the books have been that they depicted real girls doing real and important things. It inspired girls to look at themselves and imagine what they can do in their own real worlds.

Sure, American Girl books are fiction, and we don’t want girls to totally imitate all of the behaviors present, but American Girl used to have the goal of at least inspiring admirable qualities like bravery, intelligence, kindness, and sacrifice. American Girl characters were always faced with realistic circumstances, and having realistic portrayals made them come more alive for girls.

I know my own kids, the kids I work with, love American Girl for how realistic it seems. They always asked “Are they real girls?” In their minds, there was something very real about them, not just from the story, but the look, too! Of course, we can’t judge a book by its cover, but it still would’ve been nice to see some artwork depicting the actual Space Camp on the front cover! Maybe it might have looked too boring for these girls? I don’t know. I think the angle of the pictures mean everything. American Girl has removed illustrations from the books, so I’ve mostly held on to the cover illustrations to gather the gist of what is happening in the books. I can understand that realistic portraits might cost more and it would require American Girl to find a model for the cover. Maybe money is an issue?

Another Character in a Dress?

With the new Boy World line out, I have higher expectations for American Girl. Now is the time to show the world that girls are diverse, with a variety of styles.

Unfortunately, only a few Girl of the Year characters have come with pants as their “Meet” outfits. It’s bitter-sweet that Luciana doesn’t come with pants. On one hand, it does give her a balance of masculine and feminine energy. It could help her line appeal to many different types of girls. On the other hand, I think it’s important for girls to realize that pants aren’t just for “boys”. I feel like the production of the boy dolls will cause American Girl to do their best to try to make distinctions between the boy characters and the girls (considering the boys are sharing face molds with the girl dolls). Will that distinction be gender-restrictive? Basically, will all the girls end up with the long hair and dresses, and the boys with the short hair and pants?

I’ve heard through the grapevine that not too many girls seemed excited about Luciana’s concept. I can’t see why not, but considering I was never a normal 9-to-11 year old girl, maybe I just don’t understand with these girls like.

Hopefully, her space concept is as inspirational for little girls as it is for me!

Well, that’s my review on Luciana Vega! What do you think of the new Girl of the Year? Does she inspire you to look beyond your everyday world? Or does she bore you? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

American Girl Dolls’ New “Boy World” for the Truly Me Line: Should We Be Concerned?

29 Nov

Hello readers! Welcome back! This is for my fellow American Girl fans out there!

Rumor has it in the American Girl community that American Girl is planning on releasing boy dolls as an option in their Truly Me line. This group of boys will be in a section called “Boy World”. These dolls are said to be scheduled for release sometime in 2018. Some say they will arrive as early as December 26, 2017.

As we’ve seen with ALL the releases American Girl has had so far, we know that most of the rumors in the American Girl community turn out to be legit. Either American Girl is secretly reading all the suggestions made on social media and in message boards, or these people who have started these rumors seriously do have connections. Nanea was just a rumor last year, and come to fruition. Maryellen was a rumor, and was released. Back in 2001, Rebecca was a rumor, and was released in 2009. Yes, it’s safe to say there aren’t really any rumors in the American Girl circle. Most of the information we get are LEAKS.

So, when I heard this rumor, and saw the receipts, I froze. I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t surprised. But I felt odd; I felt this sudden wave of FEAR. Yes, I’m very much intimidated by this supposedly small fraction of Truly Me dolls that includes a section of BOYS. My feelings towards a boy line are bittersweet overall. The fears I have about it keep me bitter, the children who are excited for this keep me sweet.

For the last couple of years, since AMERICAN BOY was trademarked back in 2012 (?), I thought I could just ignore it. It wouldn’t affect me. In fact, I was pretty excited about it back then. In my mind back then, I just didn’t have to buy it if I didn’t like it, right?

Later, I began talking with other American Girl fans who opened my mind to some of their thoughts on the matter. I began to question whether it truly was a good move…Read my article ‘Should American Girl Sell Boy Dolls?’

When Logan was released, the best friend to Contemporary character Tenney and the first boy doll from the brand (well if you don’t include the Bitty Twins), I thought maybe this would just be a one-time thing or, at the least, even occasional. I had hoped it wouldn’t become very popular. I expressed why during the release of Tenney and Logan. Logan, for me, was a disappointment in many ways, so it really didn’t make me very excited for future boy doll releases.

But now that it’s happening…Now that my worst fear is happening, I realized that I can’t sock it at Mattel through my wallet, like I thought I could. No, that’s no longer enough. It’s not enough because there are too many people who support the inclusion of boy dolls in the American Girl brand. And that fact makes me completely petrified at the future of this doll brand. What is now the culture of the American Girl fandom? Is the fandom no longer filled with the same people who fought for a “girl’s space” in a world where we didn’t have many female heroes or honorable mentions in history? In a world that still finds males more interesting than females in much of the storytelling written and told? In a world where men still don’t understand why we have female lead characters in movies like Star Wars: Rogue One because they just “can’t relate to a girl”?

Fans upset at another female lead in Star Wars: Rogue One

What are they trying to accomplish by releasing a boy doll, let alone a whole line, to a brand that was supposed to empower girls?

It’s obvious to me now that Logan must have been selling well. In fact, Logan has pretty much out-shined his own “best friend” in most of the press releases. He was sold out in Washington D.C.’s American Girl store throughout much of 2017. It seemed like every time I called to inquire about him, he was sold out.

In fact, Logan took the place of Gabriela, 2017’s Girl of the Year, and the first African-American Girl of the Year at that, in the front display windows of most of the American Girl stores. I’m sure his sales are higher than hers as a result. Not only is she at a disadvantage because she’s black, but gosh, she’s also a girl. Her mold has been used and done before in Truly Me. Logan has Kaya’s mold, but in a “whiter” color, which makes it, I guess, a little more unique. It must look cuter on a boy. Being a girl in this brand is just not as unique as being a boy. Being black just makes Gabby…well, ugly. She couldn’t stand a chance against this hunky brunette boy named Logan. I mean, Logan gives girls the opportunity to ship cutie Tenney with a boy for once (not that no one wasn’t it doing it with Felicity and Ben, but you get the point).

If you can’t smell my sarcasm and cynicism by now, you never will.

Just like in the real world, life is not driven by Black American girls. They are driven by White American boys. American Girl has suddenly become a reflection of just what we see in our very real world…

For the last couple of articles about American Girl, I really haven’t said too many positive things about American Girl lately. My praise of American Girl has declined since the transformation of American Girl’s historical line to “Beforever”. And it’s then when I began to see all the little flaws that irked me tremendously.

So far, I’ve tried to be fair, even if I didn’t agree with the directions American Girl has taken over the years. I’ve tried to be understanding. But every year I feel that disappointment, more and more of it, and it drains any passion I’ve had for this brand. I’m seriously at the point where I’ve been excited for a doll’s retirement because it meant that American Girl didn’t have the opportunity to screw whichever doll’s collection over.

I have always respected this brand, and I held on to this brand because I believed in its message. I believed that history was important. I believed that girls should know what they have done to help the world or should at least have role models that inspire them to do more. American Girl inspired me when I was a little girl in the 1990s.

Now, I’m adult. As an adult, really, I shouldn’t have any say on what a doll line is supposed to be. After all, these toys are for this generation’s children. Still, as an adult collector, and a true lover of American Girl dolls, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed after the latest news. I’m not disappointed with American Girl, LLC, not with Mattel, but at the fandom who drove the company to even consider creating this line of boy dolls.

It’s not all bad though. Don’t get me wrong. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I understand all the reasons why American Girl has created a boy doll and why they want a “Boy World”, and those reasons alone make me feel more positive about this new idea. The intentions are pure.

For one,  I am interested in the idea behind including boys in the world of dolls, especially in a high-profile doll brand such as American Girl. Introducing these boy dolls into the lines offered can help girls understand boys better. It’s different liking what boys do (like girls may with male Marvel superheroes) versus understanding boys. If done correctly, boy characters and dolls in a brand like this, a brand that focuses on the thoughts and feelings of everyday children, could open a gate for teachable or educational moments, moments that help girls understand the world of boys. It can introduce girls to a different type of world for boys, other than the violent and rough one. Of course, this is IF IT’S DONE CORRECTLY.

Unfortunately I don’t have much faith that American Girl, LLC, and overall Mattel, can do this correctly. But we shall see.

A second pro to the inclusion of boy dolls is that this could be a stepping stone to getting boys interested in dolls, or at least not being ostracized or bullied when they are interested. There are actually quite a few boys already interested in the American Girl characters and dolls. If more companies began offering boy dolls, people wouldn’t see “dolls” as a girl thing. Of course, having the Ken doll didn’t stop dolls from being seen as a “girl toy”. But again, IF DONE CORRECTLY, American Girl could truly make a gender-neutral brand of dolls, which would be ground-breaking on many levels.

The third pro is that boys who are interested in American Girl will now have a doll that at least resembles them. Though sure, a boy shouldn’t need a “boy doll” to be interested in a brand that appears directed to girls. But just having a face, just having that representation can be important for some little boys who want a doll that looks like them. It’s important when they are playing with their little friends or their siblings or their cousins. It helps them relate to the toy better.

Having it in Truly Me is probably the best step forward, and personally it’s where I think the boy inclusion should end (though I’m not against a separate Beforever or Boy of the Year line for boys). Truly Me allows children and collectors to pick any doll they want, to dress them any way they want, and to decide their story. These boys don’t have to be just modern boys. If someone wants to make them historical, they can be. Of course, American Girl isn’t offering any male historical fashions yet, but Kit had a cute pair of overalls in her collection and Felicity had some breeches that could work on a boy doll from the past, if anyone is interested in the secondary market, like eBay. Besides, you can dress your boy dolls in any of the outfits available if the child prefers a non-binary look. And custom outfits at home are an option, too. It seems American Girl wants to jump on the boy doll market, especially since people were already making custom boys out of their dolls anyway.

custom American Boy doll

One more positive thing about this is the fact that there will be many molds and hair textures, creating a diverse range of options. Boys of color don’t really have that many super hero action figures in their image. In fact, few toys directed at boys are black, brown, yellow, or any other color but the pinkish-white that’s often considered the default. The Truly Me line is offering something rare in the 18″ doll market, though the My Life dolls beat American Girl to it.

I imagine this whole release is to compete with the My Life dolls…and personally, I believe American Girl’s future decisions will be based on their competition. After all, My Life dolls are cheaper, which makes them more appealing and affordable to parents during the holiday season.

Despite all the good that this boy line could do for the toy industry, both originally and socially, I have many concerns with it.

I am a skeptic by nature, I’ve come to accept this part of myself. I worry and question everything. When it comes to things I like, I am hesitant when people decide to implement changes that I’m not comfortable or familiar with. I worry how the changes will affect the brand.

Concern 1: Will introducing Boy dolls take boys away from relating to girl dolls and characters?

Sure, I understand American Girl’s mindset, the fact that they want to encourage others to recognize that boys can play dolls too, and so it seems that the logical thing to do would be to introduce boy dolls into the brand. But should a boy need a “boy doll” to get interested in the American Girl brand?

Girls don’t need a girl character to get interested in Marvel’s superheroes (though they’ve released girl dolls, but it wasn’t necessary to get girls interested in Marvel). Plenty of girls loved Harry Potter books, even though the story is male-driven. So why should boys need a boy character to relate to American Girl?

Boys should be encouraged to admire toys of all kinds, art of all kinds, even if the image on the cover is that of a girl. Boys should be encouraged to admire any character’s strengths, regardless of their gender. Why can’t boys admire and look up to girls as much as girls admire and look up to boys?

And let’s be honest, girls do look up to boy characters a lot. Women will deny being into dolls before they’ll deny being into action figures because boy toys are considered “cool” while girl toys are considered “weak” or “lame” or “babyish”.

I think it’d be great if a boy can find a girl doll or character that relates to him. Kit is pretty popular among boys because she does just that, but she doesn’t have to be a boy to relate to boys. When boys read stories like hers, they can connect and discover that girls don’t feel any different from them. And isn’t that more of American Girl’s goal? To put girls out there more? To help the world understand girls? It shouldn’t be to help girls understand boys. There’s plenty out there that can help girls understand boys. But few stories do what American Girl stories do, and few dolls represent the message that girls can do important things and inspire others with their positive actions. How many stories give such realistic portrayals of girls in ways all children can understand?

For this reason, I fear that American Boy dolls will give boys a reason to overlook the girl dolls, as if they don’t have anything valuable to offer or teach boys.

Concern 2: What would happen if the success of these boy lines encourage American Girl, LLC to start creating more boy characters in the brand? Should the boy dolls be treated as accessories to the girls or should American Girl seek to give them their own lines?

This is a trickier question, one that I proposed five years ago when AMERICAN BOY was first trademarked. So far, American Girl has already decided to go the “best friend” route, the route I was especially against when it came to American Girl. It seems they also might try some customization with the boys in Truly Me. Which I’m okay with.

I’m not against the boys being in Truly Me. I’m happy with them right there.

I won’t be okay if American Girl starts making boy friends for the Beforever characters or the Girl of the Year. My issue is that the boys may steal the attention from some of the girls in the brand, like what Logan has done to Gabriela and his “friend” Tenney, even if they are just accessories. The girls of color would be at the greatest disadvantage, as they already struggle for attention against the white American Girl dolls. Now, they would have to compete with the boy dolls, too!

And yet, with the success of Logan, I believe the best boy friend concept will be reintroduced in the near future. It won’t stop until the novelty of boy dolls stop.

I also don’t like the shipping. It’s not that I don’t think childhood romances aren’t cute, but American Girl has always encouraged girls to strive for more than the typical. Romance is a typical subject among girls, and traditionally was considered the only thing they should be concerned about (since women were only expected to strive to be good wives and mothers). I don’t like the idea of my favorite characters getting characters that they could be shipped with. I don’t like it with Tenney, no matter how hard American Girl insists “they are just friends”.

I would personally like the boys to have their own separate lines in a completely different section called AMERICAN BOY, as trademarked. I’ve talked to many fans that don’t like this idea. I’ve asked them why. Most just don’t want the boy line to compete with the girl line. They don’t want the American Boy books to show more history with male-driven characters, as it’s so often portrayed that way. They feel it would take away the symbol of American Girl. Truly, it wouldn’t be American Girl anymore, in their opinion.

I agree that the competition for importance would be a factor. However, I believe that having a separate American Boy line, with maybe a variety of different characters and outfits, but not so extravagant like the girls, would be a good way to implement boy dolls without them outshining the girl dolls. After all, most of the little people who walk in the AG stores are little girls, and little girls tend to be drawn to little girl dolls.

Of course, there would still be the issue of honoring boys in “women’s spaces”, a space set aside to honor girls that never had a place in history books, on movie screens, in literature, and in the present working world.

Concern 3: Will having “gendered” outfits limit the fluid fashion expression of the girl characters? Are boys the only ones capable of having short hair and wearing baggy pants? What clothing and accessories will define the “boys’ line”?

As someone who loves androgynous fashion, I couldn’t help wondering why Logan couldn’t be a girl. And hard as I’ve tried to pretend that Logan is, after reading about his story, I just couldn’t put that into my imagination. I guess I’m not that creative?

There doesn’t seem like there will be any stories with the release of these new “Boy World” dolls. Still, how is it going to be defined separately from the girls? For me, I don’t understand why the first dolls we get with bowl cut or pixie cut hair dos have to be boys. This just made me realize how much American Girl lacks in terms of diverse gender expressions. Sure, we have tomboys like Felicity and Kit, but few modern characters have the same expression they do, and even Lissie and Kit wore dresses and such most of the time (considering the time, it wasn’t their fault).

In our modern world, we have all kinds of ways to express womanhood, and not all of it is in a dress, ballerina flats, and pink hair streaks. Some of us like to wear our hair really short. Some of us like our clothes baggy instead of hugging us. Some of us like bland colors like brown and black and green.

With this new “Boy World”, will the lines between what is boy and girl be set? With the boy dolls now, there’s no chance a true tomboyish character could be released. They’d be associated with the “boy’s collection”.

And how are we going to define this boy line when it comes to items and accessories? With basketballs? STEM items? Items it took years for the girls to get?

Are we going to stereotype the boys by shoving them with most of the sports attire or the science attire? Truly, what defines a “Boy’s World”?

I’m curious to see what that will mean in the American Girl brand.

Concern 4: Is it necessary to “create diversity” by adding boy characters, especially when we don’t even have a diverse range of female characters yet?

As mentioned before, American Girl doesn’t even have a diverse range of gender expressions among girls yet. How can they seek to bring representation to boys when they haven’t even represented all the girls yet?

How revolutionary it would’ve been if Logan had been a girl! I would’ve been more tempted to buy Logan (it’s the face mold that still turns me off). I guess I can buy him and still pretend, but the fact that he comes with a back story and everything kind of kills the imagination for me.

It’s more necessary to make more characters of color, something American Girl is also seriously lacking. They don’t have any Asian American Beforever characters with their own line and series (Ivy was a sidekick, and so was not important in my honest opinion). They’ve only had ONE African-American Girl of the Year character. They don’t even have any Muslim characters (Leyla, from the Girls of Many Lands, was the last one from the brand, and she wasn’t an 18″ doll). They’ve only had one 18″ Indian doll, none from Pakistan or Iran or any other group. We don’t even have a Native American, or indigenous, Girl of the Year!

And yet, Logan gets his chance to shine? Nu uh. There are far more role models out there for boys. American Girl doesn’t have to offer boy dolls for boys to have options. They find these options in toys, video games, literature, history books, and in LIFE. I just finished watching the Hey Arnold movie. He’s a pretty good role model for boys, and American Girl didn’t have to be around for him to exist.

Concern 5: Is it okay for the boy dolls to share the same mold as girl dolls?

This might seem like a silly concern (well my whole rant about a bunch of dolls might seem silly to most of you), but I believe having boys carry on some of the girls’ molds would hurt the sales and perception of the girls. A lot of times, what is considered masculine is considered “ugly” on a girl. But if it were placed on a boy, it might be deemed more “attractive”.

Take the Addy mold for example. There are a lot of people who don’t like the Addy mold and they think she looks masculine. That’s people’s perception of black women anyway, but they will project that perception off on the doll. If a male were to have that exact mold, they might find it looks “better” on him.

I’ve heard some people say that Kaya’s mold looks better on Logan than on her! It’s not fair to her. She was designed with that specific mold because it fit with her culture and time period. For Logan to appropriate her mold is just an outrage!

My other concern is that these dolls would end up being considered ugly by girls because they share the same mold as the boy dolls. Though it shouldn’t matter, the opinions of these girls can greatly affect the success of the dolls. I mean, we shouldn’t think anyone is ugly, and so we shouldn’t find characters’ dolls to be ugly, just because they have more masculine faces. But how can anyone really change the way a kid feels?

Black girls already get called masculine and ugly by some of their peers. Do they really need to see that Addy shares a mold with a Truly Me boy doll?

I know this is a lot to talk about, and all just for some child’s plaything. I guess it bothers me because American Girl dolls have always meant a lot more to me than the average doll line. I’ve collected a lot of dolls, but American Girl was always the diamond in the rough. This brand brought a new kind of representation to the toy industry, and changed my perception of what a girl could and couldn’t do. I believe it’s why I’m able to be so independent to this day. I know I don’t have to follow the crowd. I know I don’t need to be married by 30. I know my role is not just to be a loving wife and mother. I know there’s more for me out there. And American Girl dolls, among other things, helped me discover that at a young age. I can’t deny that it was a contributing factor.

Perhaps we shouldn’t politicize toys, or make them into a social issue. But some toys can be great tools for promoting positive and encouraging messages. I think it’s important to create toys that have a purpose than to just have kids play with toys meaninglessly. But when we do create toys with a purpose, it’s important to remember the message sent when selling them.

This is why the imagery this company dishes out is so very important. These images really do influence the little girls who play with them, especially because there are books that accompany the dolls. That’s why American Girl has a responsibility to make sure the images they produce really do bring honor to girls.

This is why what American Girl produces is important to me. This isn’t just some flimsy underground brand. American Girl is a brand that has the power to influence girls. I just hope that American Girl uses that power wisely.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the new rumored “Boy World”! Are you for it or against it? Are you concerned? If you are, do you share my same concerns or do you have some of your own? Let’s discuss!

American Girl’s Native Hawaiian doll, Nanea Mitchell from the 1940s, Has Arrived!

5 Aug

For those of you who don’t know, American Girl is a brand that produces a line of wholesome and family-friendly dolls centered on encouraging girls to be the best they can be and to make their mark on history. Pleasant Company originally produced the American Girl collection in 1986 with their line of historical dolls as the focus, now called Beforever. Soon, the brand was sold to Mattel, creators of the Barbie doll, and it has expanded since then to include Bitty Baby, Wellie Wishers, Girl of the Year, and other contemporary and historical lines throughout the years since it’s been around.

Lately, American Girl has been pushing for “diversity” in their brand of dolls. Earlier this year, the first African American Girl of the Year  , Gabriela, was released followed by American Girl’s first boy doll. Z Yang, a young Korean filmmaker, was also added to the group.

And finally a new doll was added to the Beforever lineup: Nanea Mitchell, a native Hawaiian girl from 1941, during the early WWII era.

I’ve done write-ups on the dolls before, if you want to check those articles out. –>Check it out here.

To promote the new 1941-1942 Native Hawaiian American Girl doll, American Girl has allowed all of their “Rewards” members early access to the doll! That’s right. Instead of waiting until the end of the month, AG Rewards members will receive their Nanea as early as this week!

Many AG Rewards members received their Nanea on August 1st, and already there are reviews everywhere of her. American Girl fans who have been excited for her arrival were surprised when American Girl bumped up her release for their active consumers.

And Reward members weren’t just getting a doll. Oh no. They received a collection.

What is AG Rewards?

 

It is just like any rewards membership you get with any retail store. The more you buy, the more points you get. Attending American Girl events can also give you points.

It’s free to join.

It’s kind of difficult to find on the main website. But you can access it by going to the “Shop” page, clicking “Sign in/Register” at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Or you can access it by going to the “Shop” page or “Stores” page, scrolling all the way to the bottom, clicking “About American Girl”, which then gives a drop-down menu that includes “AG Rewards”.

You must be 18 years or older to join, so kids should ask their parents first.

Other F.A.Q.s are listed on the page if you scroll down.

But don’t expect to get Nanea just because you decided to be a member today. You had to have accumulated 350 points or more (Gold status and Berry status) to be able to get the doll and her collection.

The doll and her collection run about $216 for pre-order. Nobody over my way can afford that right now, but happy days to the rest of ya’ll who can.

What was included in the Nanea collection?

Included in the collection are the doll in her Meet outfit, some accessories that go along with it, a hula outfit with some floral accessories, her Pjs, and her cute little dog.

There are videos out now from people who received their collection. I haven’t gotten anything yet. :/

One of the best videos I’ve seen has been lead by a very intelligent and bright child.

 

Another great video is by the Youtuber American Girl Ideas.

After watching the videos, I have my own review.

My Review

Nanea’s Meet Outfit and Accessories

I’ve already seen it a thousand times already. But I never really gave my opinion on it until now.

Nanea’s Meet outfit comes with a pake “Teatimer” blouse that became really popular in the 1940s and 1950s.

More searches on “Teatimer” blouses

She also arrives with sailor-inspired moku shorts. She has crisscrossed strap sandals. She has a bag/purse that can turn inside-out to match her outfit. And she has a blue-white shell necklace to tie it all together.

I love the color and style of the “Teatimer” top as well as the cute little shorts. But I’m not sure I like everything together. For some reason, it just seems like the jewelry and handbag are off with the outfit. The red in the shirt is the only color that pops. The blue with it isn’t doing it for me. The blue is nice too on its own. But it doesn’t seem like there’s enough to go with the red in her shirt.

But separately, everything looks really appealing. The doll itself looks stunning. Yet, I don’t know why they saw the need to paint the ends of her eyes. Was that to make it look more slanted than it was supposed to look?

Regardless, I personally appreciate the historical emphasis put into the wardrobe. I was especially interested in her Meet items.

Some other Meet items include a letter from one of her best friends, Donna, and an envelope. I read a bit about Donna, but there will be no spoilers from me. 😉 We can see Nanea’s address on the front of the envelope. This friend Donna lives in California …I’m assuming Donna’s family moved after the events of Pearl Harbor, December 1941.

Nanea’s Meet accessories also come with two $1.00 bills with HAWAII printed on the back. This is a very historical detail. Right after the Pearl Harbor attack (so these accessories have to have been related to events that took place in 1942), dollar bills were issued with a Hawaiian print. This was so the US could distinguish the money during a Japanese invasion, if such were to happen. If an invasion were to happen, the Japanese could seize millions of dollars from institutions on the island. But with the Hawaii print, the USA could easily declare the money useless since the notes weren’t actually the legal currency of the nation. It was like making a bunch of fake dollar bills for people so the Japanese wouldn’t still the real ones.

All  “bank notes” that were not stamped had to be turned in. Hawaiian residents were not allowed to use any other form of currency unless they had permission.

History on the Hawaiian Bank Note

So far, the most interesting parts for me about the Meet stuff are the accessories. I like everything else, but the other items just adds to the overall historical and story experience, which is something I appreciate about American Girl. The letter in its envelope kind of reminds me of the American Girl’s “adventure” books. You know, like Kit’s Railway Adventure? Samantha’s Ocean Liner Adventure? Molly’s Route 66 Adventure? I loved those books so much.

The Hula Outfit and Accessories

Sigh. I am not shocked, but mildly disappointed. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from Nanea. It’s an era I’ve already collected so much for (because I’ve had Molly, one of the original dolls, since 1997, and have shopped around for off-brand WWII items for her). The things that make her different from Molly deal with her culture, the unique setting, and the extra floral prints.

But I was sort of hoping for maybe a more authentic Hula dress that was less…I don’t know…stereotypical?

I thought it was bad enough that Molly’s perception of Hawaii was the grass skirts (to add Molly’s mom thought it was a good idea to be a hula dancer for Halloween, but this was the 1940s).

But having a “native” Hawaiian girl perpetuate the same stereotypes as Molly almost gives off a worse vibe. This doll could be a gateway for little girls to learn more about Hawaiian culture and history.

When girls see Molly, they know she is just an ignorant white girl who doesn’t know any better. But when they see Nanea, they will think that she really is what she’s advertised as: a “Hawaiian” girl.

So, something a little less stereotypical would’ve been nice. Where was the advisory board when this was designed?

This is not to say there were no hula outfits with ti-leaf skirts being designed in the 1940s. The ti-leaf skirts may have been more common in the late 1800s and early 20th century, but they had them in the 1940s, too.

Before more hula skirts were being made with cotton, hula skirts were often made from raffia fibers. But originally, in the 1800s and before, Hawaiian ladies would just wear the skirts-and nothing else.

Because white missionaries wanted to spread their morality and religion, the style of clothing for the hula changed. It had to so it could fit the current “moral codes”. The dance was banned sometime before the 1940s because of the movement of the dances, the different spiritual undertones, and how “scantily clothed” the dancers appeared.

But by Nanea’s time, hula had moved beyond a traditional spiritual ritual and had become more of an art form. Girls by the 1940s wouldn’t have flounced around in grass skirts all the time. They often wore colorful skirts that may have been made from simple cotton. Then again, if they were trying to appeal to tourists in the 1940s, they may have used the grass skirts instead. Still, there were other styles that I wish had been made for Nanea.

The true evolution of the hula outfits have yet to be elaborated on by any entertainment mediums presented to children. And American Girl joins the other bulk of companies that fall into capitalizing off of the stereotypes.

Perhaps someone should’ve looked up the various different outfits hula dancers wear. Even girls today could provide better and more accurate examples of what is appropriate for hula. And it’s certainly not always grass skirts. Maybe they didn’t want Nanea looking so close to Kanani, but Kanani’s Luau outfit looks more unique than Nanea’s “hula” outfit.

Kanani Luau dress

Today, the hula is mostly done for entertainment and to embrace Hawaiian heritage and culture. Many Hawaiians do still wear the raffia skirt. But wouldn’t it have been refreshing if American Girl had gone a little deeper?

But no. I wasn’t shocked they didn’t. It was exactly as I expected. Still, I was disappointed that they met my low expectations with this outfit.

I prefer the Holoku dress on the cover of her second book.

And from the look and feel of the hula outfit and the accessories, it just seems cheap and lazy. I know doll companies are struggling, but come on. Any time the lei and floral accessories and outfit are worse than Kanani’s, we’ve got a problem. Even the kid in the video can feel it!

The historical line of dolls should be of higher quality than the contemporary dolls. People can get away with wearing plastic everything nowadays. Nanea’s outfit is supposed to reflect the 1940s. Plastic was rationed! I understand the floral accessories can’t be too real because then the flowers could wither and die without proper care. But it should at least look and feel real. It’s just unacceptable.

Sure, Kanani’s doll came out years ago when American Girl could afford to make high-quality items. The doll industry is really suffering nowadays. Mattel might be losing two of its biggest doll lines of the decade (Monster High and Ever After High) and may not be able to bounce back from that. But it still would’ve been nice if there was some effort to be original or different.

The top that goes with the skirt is nice, but Nanea has enough red in her Meet outfit to go around. And it kind of makes it look like a tropical version of Molly’s “costume”.

The “strapless” look of the hula top kind of reminds me of Disney’s Moana, but okay.

Overall, again, Nanea looks good in the hula outfit once everything is put on her. But the look of it is better than the overall quality. It’s like having food on the table that looks better than the taste.

Nanea’s Pajamas and Mele the Dog

The pajamas are cute. They kind of seem to relate to modern fashion styles. This isn’t to say this style wasn’t popular in the 1940s, but I can see how it can be pretty trendy for today, too. American Girl presenters said on facebook that Nanea’s outfits were sort of designed to be “timeless” where girls could mix and match some of her 1940s outfits with modern outfits.

Presenters

While that’s thoughtful and all, I’m not too on board with the idea of mixing the contemporary styles with those of the past. I enjoy the authenticity of the historical line, and quite frankly I find the modern outfits to be something I can find at my local target from another popular 18″ doll line.

But overall, I find the pjs to be okay. They look soft and comfy and I would like a pair for myself.

Mele is cute as a button. I love that doggy!

Overall, her collection seems okay. I’m not as into the outfits as I am the accessories this time around. But I’m glad this dress was released!

Some fans have gotten hold of Nanea’s family market!

1.Once again, the items are the most interesting part of Nanea’s collection for me. I’m seeing some Victory Garden stickers. XD Flashbacks of Molly comes to mind.

2.  I do see a sticker asking people living in Hawaii to donate their empty bottles. TRIVIA: The war brought a shortage of bottles on the island. This is probably when “recycling” really took off the ground. People were encouraged to bring their empty bottles, which were often glass, back for further use. Milk bottles used to be delivered to people by a milkman in glass bottles instead of people going to the store to purchase them in cartons.

3. Did you see how cheap stuff was in the 1940s? Jello….5 cents!

4. The first edition of the Honolulu Star newspaper!

5. The canned spam and the rice bags are two of my favorite items. Canned became a favorite in Hawaii when the army men and air force, the GIs, fell in love with it. It didn’t require refrigeration and had a long shelf life. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Menuism/why-do-hawaiians-love-spam-so-much_b_1901306.html

Hormel shipped over 100 million pounds overseas.

6. There’s beautiful fabrics! I wonder if any are truly long enough to make doll clothes with…

 

 

Check out the rest of Nanea’s items!

I love the rest of Nanea’s collection. Really time-period ready!

Learn more about her at americangirl.com!

*************************************************************************************

I hope I don’t sound too disturbed in some parts of the article. But I’ve been put-off from her since I found out I wasn’t going to be learning about a new era and was revisiting the 1940s. Forgive my skepticism. I’m trying to be fair.

I was also put off when I found out she isn’t really fully “Native Hawaiian”. She’s also not really fully a “doll of color” because like all the other Asian/Pacific Islander dolls from American Girl, one of her parents are white. I supposed that’s to make her “prettier”.

But it is more realistic for a Hawaiian girl to be mixed in the 1940s. Few islanders were fully Hawaiian by the 1940s. And even fewer are today.

Oh well. I guess it’s better we get some history on Hawaii now than not at all.

That’s my review of Nanea’s collection. What do you all think? Do you like everything you see? Are you impressed? Are you disappointed? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

 

Bratz dolls VS. Feminists: “Oversexualized” or “Empowering”?

16 May

Lately, I’ve been going back into the history of Bratz, where Bratz experienced a tremendous rise in the toy industry and where Bratz took a tumble downhill. As a major Bratz fan, I still have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that these dolls are not going to be produced anymore, that they are discontinued, and that they are no longer popular. In 2016, MGA, the owners of the Bratz doll brand, announced that they were discontinuing the Bratz dolls after a less-than-glorious comeback from their hiatus the year before.

As a way to find a sense of closure, I’ve been researching all kinds of news articles on the Bratz, news that have been out since 2001. I’ve been going back into my own “archives” both online and offline.

In a former article, I reviewed what happened to the Bratz in the last couple of years, based on all the information I have: Bratz Are Back Again in 2015: What Happened to the Bratz?

While flipping and clicking through everything, I’ve come to realize that feminists, moms, and Bratz dolls were never far a part from each other, but feminists and moms never really met eye to eye with the Bratz. It doesn’t surprise me that “soccer” moms are against the Bratz. Their name is “Bratz” after all. Parents may have heard the name and assumed that the dolls encouraged their girls to rebel against their parents.

However, I’ve found the Bratz to be a very empowering line of dolls in totality. That’s why it shocks me to read about so many feminists who are really against this doll brand. In fact, many feminists have openly been against the Bratz since debut. Therefore, I’ve concluded that the details that go into the Bratz’s  recent decline in popularity have at least a little to do with active feminists. How so?

Before I get into the details, let’s review how the Bratz came to be, how I got interested in the Bratz, and how (and why) they got so popular in the first place.

Bratz: The Urban Fashionistas

Carter Bryant was the original designer of the Bratz dolls who came up with the idea for the dolls after looking at a Steve Madden shoe ad in Seventeen magazine, photographed by Bernard Belair.

Bryant liked the “cartoonish” yet stylish look of the ad and wanted to create dolls with a similar appeal. To put it simply, Bratz were never meant to look realistic, but they were going to be displayed wearing the latest teen fashions.

Carter Bryant has also shared with me that he was inspired from the urban and punk scenes he always loved. He is an edgy man at heart and wanted to bring that to the Bratz doll line. When he brought the dolls to MGA, Issac Larian, the CEO, was skeptical at first, thinking their heads and feet were weird. But when Larian showed the dolls to his daughter, Jasmin Larian, she thought they were cool. The Bratz doll Yasmin was named after her.

At the Turn of the 21st Century, tweens (kids between the ages of 10 and 14) lost interest in dolls. With pop music spreading around the world, many girls were growing too “old” to be interested in toys (though I’d say it’s worse now than it was then, now that there’s this emphasis on smartphones and tablets). The doll market was experiencing a decline back then just as it is now. Many doll companies were interested in turning the new pop culture trend around in their favor. They wanted to make “up-to-date” dolls specifically for tweens so they could bring them back into the market.

Barbie was dominating the toy market, but by the 1990s, she was considered babyish.

Barbie was also criticized by minority ethnic groups for “lacking diversity” and outshining her more “diverse” friends. To many, Barbie was a sign of “White Supremacy”. After all, she was invented at a very tense racial time (1959).

Since the 1970s, feminist writers began examining entertainment designed for girls. Barbie came under fire several times throughout generations of feminists.

Feminists have been wanting to encourage self-love since then. Barbie was criticized for having unrealistic body proportions (like bigger than average boobs, a tiny waist, super thin lips, full hair, tiny feet, etc), body features that didn’t seem realistically attainable for every woman.

Bratz wasn’t the answer to everything missing in the doll industry (according to feminists), but they did solve the “diversity” problem.

The Bratz were released wearing “urban” fashions, a huge trend among youths at the Turn of the 21st Century since the rise in popularity of African American hip-hop and rap artists and labels in the 1990s. White people had also jumped on the urban trends (thanks to groups like New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys). Bratz had bigger lips than the average doll. They wore the “latest trends”, which often included cropped tops, baggy pants, and mini skirts, as well as tons of makeup. The dolls came in a variety of different “colors” and hair textures even if their actual ethnic backgrounds were left ambiguous.

I was a tween at the time of the Bratz debut in 2001, the target demographic. I was one of the children that stopped playing with dolls at 10 years old (thought I still liked to collect them as a hobby). I would say books, video games, anime, and internet consumed my life rather than pop stars and MTV. I still liked certain doll brands, like Magic Attic Club and American Girl, but I never played with the actual dolls. I mostly bought the books, not the dolls. I completely lost interest in the regular Barbie doll (though Generation Girl Dolls peaked my interest for a short time).

To me, as someone who lost interest in playing with Barbies at 10, Bratz were amazing. As an African American, I was happy to see dolls with full lips, full thick hair, and urban fashions commonly worn in my own black community (and not the cookie-cutter suburbanite outfits I often saw on my Barbies as a kid in the 1990s).

That’s why it was perplexing to find that most of the articles kept describing the dolls as “oversexualized” and “materialistic”. I couldn’t understand it at 11 years old. “What’s so sexual about them?” I kept asking myself. Their clothes were cool and urban to me, not sexual. I couldn’t see how baggy pants and beanie caps (included in the 1st edition of Bratz) were even “sexual” in nature. The dolls carried a lot of sass and attitude. They seemed bold and confident to me. The quality was impeccable and very realistic at the time. If anything, these dolls were gender-defying for me! They were not prim, perfect, pink, and prissy. They said “So what!” to fashion norms and boundaries that told girls to be “presentable, lest you tempt the manfolk”.

It truly surprised me to see so many feminists set against the Bratz.

As I got older, I began to understand the feminists’ concerns a little more than I did as a child, but I still don’t agree with many of their assumptions about the Bratz.

Let me give you a little history about myself.

I’m not your typical doll collector. I’m not only an adult, I’m an androgynous tomboy. As a child, I was a complete tomboy. My parents, particularly my mother, would often dress me in dresses, but she was very strict about how I should eat when dressed up, how I had to wear each article of clothing perfectly, and she schooled me on the people I had to please (particularly friends and neighbors). I got verbally (and sometimes physically) assaulted at times for wearing the wrong shoes with the wrong outfit. As I got older, because of these experiences, I began to reject social femininity. When I got more control of my fashion choices, I made sure to avoid dresses and skirts as much as possible.  I became mostly uninterested in clothes and makeup. I prefer to dress comfortably. I became convinced that “femininity” was all about conforming socially, pleasing others, and dressing the part in every situation. Social femininity was translated as “threatening” to me.

So it might make people wonder how I could be interested in such a fashion-conscious doll line like the Bratz.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t see what many of these news journalists and feminists saw in the Bratz. When I first saw the 2001 1st Edition Bratz, I saw their art versions, which displayed four girls in urbanized fashions in the sickest artwork ever. They all wore baggy jeans and sporty crop tops! If anything they looked like tomboys with makeup on!

The clash of femininity and tomboyishness made me feel thrilled and excited. Bratz did renew my interest in fashion, but not as a way to please or impress others. Bratz made me realize that fashion could be used to express oneself, to express ideas, to express art. Bratz inspired me to take my boyish looks to the next level which was why I got interested in different androgynous looks. I became unafraid to look different. I became unafraid of the controversy.

I was an outcast in middle school and high school. I was different. I was not only a tomboy, but a Black girl who enjoyed world music (like Japanese and Turkish music), among many genres including rock and roll, and enjoyed anime and video games. I never dressed up, so everyone thought I was weird. I looked like a 10 year old because I was so petite and never did my hair in the latest styles (which made me look even younger). I wore glasses and didn’t care for contacts. I would wear the same clothes year after year. I didn’t care, as long as they were clean. Many people thought I was a lesbian because I didn’t date in high school. Most of the guys thought I was too skinny to be attractive anyway. I didn’t have curves. When they discovered I wasn’t a lesbian, that confused them even more.

When Bratz were introduced, they were just the kind of thing I was looking for in the world. The Bratz not only renewed my interest in fashion but in the fashion doll industry in general. The dolls also helped me come to terms with my own individuality.

I always loved dolls, even in high school. I didn’t play with them; I just liked collecting them and taking pictures. I collected a lot of 18″ dolls mostly. After the Bratz came out, I was looking for fashion dolls like them. There were few dolls like them though.

I wasn’t ashamed of liking dolls, though I’m certain many teenagers would’ve been. I think after dealing with being forced to fit standards as a child, I had this counter-culturalist in me just waiting to break free. I didn’t think I was feminine at all, and so I rejected it in myself and in others.

Even though they were just dolls, Bratz helped me understand myself. My interest in them revealed something about myself. I realized I hadn’t lost touch with my femininity or my own sense of woman, I just had a different kind and that was okay. I realized that there were many ways to define  “being a woman”.

Bratz helped me at a difficult time, when I felt like I had to fit all of these standards. Unlike me, Bratz could do whatever they wanted to do. They had the courage and bravery, despite the backlash, to just be. It was obvious by their outrageous fashions, their exciting movies, and strong music that they just didn’t care. Much of their music still inspires me, like Bratz Forever Diamondz “Yasmin”‘s “Hang On”.

To me, the Bratz had a very strong empowering message of teaching girls to be confident and comfortable with who they are, no matter what anyone says.

When I saw their outfits, though, they seemed to wear mostly costumes rather than “regular” fashions. They reflected the latest styles with a twist. I was impressed with the detail, the various accessories, and the quality (hair that felt soft and thick, jeans made from actual jean material, etc), as well as the creative and bold themes.

Bratz also set many trends and broke many fashion rules. I liked Bratz because they reflected my own liberation from society’s norms. And at the time, they were the only dolls doing this.

Nowadays, there are many dolls empowering girls in many different ways. Many dolls out today have been inspired from the Bratz. Still, I have a special place in my heart for these dolls because they encouraged me to be bold and different, to be innovative and creative, and to think outside of the box.

My other favorite part about Bratz was that a blonde white girl wasn’t at the center. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up with Barbies, too, which I’ll go into further later. But Bratz offered me something I never could let go of, something I could relate to more personally.

Bratz had a variety of different characters eventually, of many shades, with most being dolls of color. I was so happy when MGA released Felicia, an actual dark-skinned doll that was designed beautifully and stylish! Many other Black characters have been in the Bratz franchise as well.

Sasha looks gorgeous in her “natural” hair!

Even though the Bratz dolls came in many shades, Black and Latino culture initially influenced much of the doll brand. From the styles, to the music (as you could tell above), to the full lips and thick hair, down to the urban fashion, Bratz were meant to appeal to a wider ethnic demographic.

In the early 2000s, gangster rap was just sizzling down. Many people outside of the black community (and even some of the old-school generation within) looked down on “urban” fashions and felt it represented “deviant” culture. This is partially why Bratz carried even more controversy at debut. Many people compared them to “urban thugs”. But most of the fashion was widely accepted among black and Latino/Hispanic cultures.

The more rebellious Bratz appeared, the more I loved them. Did it mean I was a bad girl and that I didn’t want to follow any rules? Of course not. But I did recognize that I don’t have to let others define me or decide the type of clothing I needed to wear socially. The Bratz showed me that I can represent alternatives in fashion and let that make its own statement.

Of course, we do have to consider some things socially when picking our clothes, but adding a little creativity and imagination to our wardrobe also adds to our individuality (along with our personalities). Bratz taught me that.

Eventually, Bratz brought in wild lines like Tokyo-ago-go, Space Angelz, Rock Angelz, Pretty N Punk, and many others to the mix. That just gave me more courage to speak out and embrace my individuality.

Some Feminists’ Issues with the Bratz

It baffles me how many people don’t realize just how influential feminists and moms were when it came to the Bratz’s 2015 transformation and sudden decline. Yes, other factors contributed to the Bratz dolls’ decline in popularity (such as the ongoing court battles between Mattel, owners of Barbie, and MGA, owners of Bratz). But the recent comeback, as well as the one in 2010, was obviously specifically “watered down” to appeal to moms and feminists, which didn’t go over so well with many of the fans of the brand.

The moment MGA released the first batch of dolls in 2015, MGA shared a facebook post called New Bratz dolls Tell Girls “It’s Good to be Yourself”. The article states that the dolls give a message that “won’t make parents cringe”. MGA must have realized that moms and feminists didn’t approve of the original Bratz and they wanted to ease the criticisms. Women have a lot of power and influence in the retail industry, believe it or not. MGA posted that article to show how Bratz have become more “innocent” in the last couple of years. They tried to put less makeup on the dolls, they made the outfits cuter, and made the eyes bigger so they wouldn’t look sassy or like they have “attitude”. It still didn’t work. Feminists still felt they were “underwhelming“. All it did was make the fans less interested in them and made the feminists criticize them even more.

The few feminists that are/were supportive of the Bratz have mostly been supportive of Bratz’s ethnic diversity and “ethnic” features (such as large lips, thick hair, and slanted eyes).

But most of these feminists overlook any of the positive regarding these dolls.

After reviewing many articles from feminists about the Bratz, I’ve learned that they take several issues with them (issues I find confusing):

  1. Their usage of makeup
  2. Their “sexualized” clothes and features
  3. Their unrealistic body proportions
  4. Their name
  5. Their “materialism”
  6. Their slogan

These Bratz dolls got an amazing feminist makeover

Tree Change

This artist is giving Bratz an awesome feminist Makeover

Bratz Is Not Happy That I Said Their Dolls Do Molly 

The Unsluttification Of Bratz?

Over-sexed and over here: The ‘tarty’ Bratz Doll

New Bratz dolls Tell Girls “It’s Good to be Yourself”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-411266/Over-sexed-The-tarty-Bratz-Doll.html#ixzz4gPS3FGyI

How to Explain Monster High and Other Hyper-Sexualized Dolls to Young Kids

Now, many of these comparisons are made right alongside the Barbie doll. As mentioned before, feminists’ first gripe with the fashion doll industry came with Barbie. Barbie has been pretty influential in girls’ lives and she has been an icon of fashion and materialism. She has been a staple of femininity for even adult women. Many feminists have examined how Barbie influenced girls and were afraid the Bratz, who seemed to carry some of the same “problems”, would influence girls much the same way.

But here’s where I think some of these feminists miss the mark.

Yes, sometimes girls often imitate their dolls in various ways and grow up to be inspired by these dolls. However, from my experience working with children and being a child during the Barbie and Bratz era, I would definitely say it depends on the context and the way the dolls are presented. It also depends on one’s own life experiences. Barbie and Bratz gave me two different vibes and that influenced my perception of the dolls, myself, and womanhood in general.

I don’t think Barbie and Bratz give a similar message at all. I think the feminists that think they do only know that the Bratz are considered fashion dolls, but know nothing else about them otherwise. These feminists may have seen one or two lines with the Bratz in more “conventional” fashion, but more than likely they didn’t dig deeper than that.

Let me explain why Bratz and Barbie are so very different and how this affects each of their messages to girls.

Bratz Vs. Barbie

I will share the history of both brands a little more because I believe the very inspiration behind the dolls shows how each was meant to affect girls.

As mentioned before, Bratz was designed to represent a “cartoonish” and yet stylish look, while also reflecting underground subcultures in fashion. Their inspiration came from an ad in a teen magazine.

Barbie was thought up by Ruth Handler, a woman who often watched her daughter Barbara pretend her paper dolls were adults. Ruth saw an opening in the market for adult-designed dolls rather than the usual baby dolls and paper dolls available.

When visiting Germany, she saw the Bild Lilli Doll, based off the popular German comic strip character. Bild Lilli was a beautiful bombshell woman who worked but was not above using men to suit her aims. The comic strip and the dolls were designed for adults, but kids would often take the dolls and mix and match her fashion.

Arguably, Barbie is the inspiration for all fashion dolls that came afterwards, so all fashion dolls will be watched by skeptics. But the intention behind the doll is significant when it comes to the art and presentation of the doll.

Barbie was designed to be an adult figure for girls to imagine and aspire to be. Initially, she was presented as an ideal adult female figure (more so from the White upper-class perspective).

I can honestly tell you, as a 6 and 7 year old, that was exactly what I thought of when I played with Barbie. Barbie may not look totally realistic in her proportions, but she looks realistic enough from a child’s perspective, and she looks realistic enough for women to “aspire” to “obtain” her look. Sure, her breasts are bigger than the average woman’s, especially on someone that thin, but breasts like that didn’t seem impossible to me as a child. In fact, Barbie looked like many of the blonde women I saw on Baywatch (which I often caught glimpses of on tv in the 1990s).

Thus, it was obvious in my mind’s eye that Barbie fit a perceived beauty standard.

In my mind, Barbie had several differences from me. She was blonde, tall, white, and wore clothes only the wealthy could wear. I never aspired to be blonde and white like her, however she reminded me of all the adult women around me. I didn’t see too many women who deviated from the “norm” socially as a child. I would always imagine doing what my mother did when playing with my Barbies.

When I played with Barbie, I didn’t see myself, and that influenced how I felt about her as I got older. As I got older, I saw that I was not growing into an adult like Barbie. I began to disconnect with the doll. I saw my mother and everything she was: a glamorous working woman who could do anything she put her mind to.  I didn’t see much substance in Barbie at all, though. And that may imply that I really didn’t see much substance in the women around me. It implies it and it is true.

However, even though I couldn’t relate to her, I admired her pink empire. I longed to live her wealthy, high-class life, a life my broke Black behind would have a difficult time achieving.

In the 1990s, she came with literally everything. But she had no “real” set personality, no real individuality. All of her friends were just ethnic versions of her that you could hardly find in stores. They literally often wore the same outfits as Barbie, though it would sometimes be in a different color.

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

As a kid, I wanted to be more “successful” like her, but I knew that I was too different to want to be like her completely. I wasn’t girly enough to pull of being a Barbie. Many of my other friends wanted to have straight, blonde hair like Barbie. They wanted the perfect body when they grew up, like she had. They wanted to drive pink cars like Barbie. They wanted to live in mansions like she did. They wanted a handsome boyfriend like Ken. Many of them ended up doing those things in the future, perfectly fitting the social package. I can amusingly say that they often look like clones of one another, trying to outdo each other when it comes to the latest trends.

Bratz, in contrast, never had a body to “aspire” to obtain. They literally looked like cartoon characters. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting heads and feet as big as theirs. In fact, big heads and big feet are normally considered ugly in America! The Bratz made it look cool. As someone who had big feet, I appreciated that. But I never heard anyone “aspire” to have a big head or big feet like them. It became clear that their proportions were not designed to fit an “ideal” but rather they literally were made to be disproportionate.

Sure, they were skinny. But their breasts were not large. Even being skinny, no kid would honestly think their bodies are normal enough to pay attention. My friends and I would always make fun of the Bratz heads and feet. We didn’t sigh with envy, that’s for certain. But the outfits were super creative. It was hard not to anticipate what they would think of next.

Each doll was different in some way from the other. Not only were there dolls of various colors, but each doll had their own wicked fashion sense and personality. They were very individual and not outshined by the “white” doll. The four core dolls were treated equally at debut, which I appreciated.

The Bratz were not designed to fit the usual beauty standard. They were meant to reflect the underground cultures, cultures that have developed a sense of community to help them cope with being an outcast. Therefore, in my mind, Bratz produced the opposite response of wanting to “imitate” and rather encouraged individuals like me to be “themselves” and strike out boldly. At 11, I was thinking that if each Bratz girl looks different, and has her own passion for fashion, that means all of us are different. We don’t all have to look and be the same. It encouraged me to find my own unique sense of style, not be the doll I saw in front of me (unlike with Barbie).

Barbie’s other media entertainment, like her movies, showed her as a gorgeous, glamorous lady who could do anything. Bratz movies showed four individual sassy teens who liked to hang out, dress up at times, dabble in their hobbies, and go on amazing adventures. The Bratz never seemed as shallow as Barbie.

Bratz Boyz were a stark contrast to Ken. Though they are all fashion dolls, the Bratz boyz weren’t just accessories for the girls. They had their own lines, several individual ethnic appearances and personalities, many different hair textures and styles, and just as much detail as the girls. Boys were not ashamed to admire them. Girls saw more than just boyfriends in these dolls. In fact, only one of the main characters “crush” on a Bratz Boy. But that boy has his own interests, his own personality, and his own style.

With the differences settled, let’s address these issues feminists have with the Bratz directly.

“Too Much Makeup”

Feminists across the board have been very critical of the Bratz’s overuse of makeup.

Some feminists believe that the Bratz have perfectly made-up faces, which teaches girls that they have to wear makeup to look perfect.

Among feminists, makeup in general has been controversial. Feminists are determined to break the social expectation that encourages girls to be too interested in their appearance. Unlike men, women are often expected to appear perfect, without flaws. This has been linked to women being treated like objects rather than creatures of “substance”. Many jobs around the world won’t hire women or will fire women if they don’t wear makeup. Feminists have been pushing for women to embrace their natural features and colors without a “mask”. They have been pushing for businesses to remove the makeup standards/policies or equalize them (pushing men to also wear more makeup).

One look at the first Bratz dolls, and a feminist would definitely think the Bratz’s usage of makeup further encourages these harsh makeup standards in young ladies. As someone who doesn’t wear makeup, I completely understand this concern.

On the other hand, feminists also preach against body-policing and believe that women should be free to indulge in whatever they enjoy. If a woman truly enjoys makeup, does that make her a product of the patriarchal system and less feminist?

Some feminists recognize that makeup can be used artistically. Many feminists believe that if women truly enjoy makeup, and don’t look at it as a necessary tool to hide their “flaws”, then it isn’t necessarily anti-feminist.

Some feminists don’t think women should be controlled to either extreme considering some companies also control how much makeup a woman wears, which isn’t fair either.

Still, there are feminists out there who believe a real feminist would not support makeup at all and they often do shame women who wear it.

Admittedly, Bratz are designed with a ton of makeup on. However, I think it would be unfair to compare Bratz’s use of makeup to other fashion dolls’ usage, like Barbie’s, or any other usage of makeup that is deemed designed to make someone look “perfect”.

When looking at Barbie, for example, Barbie’s “makeup” has consistently been painted on her face to give her the ideal packaged look for every generation. She is literally considered “gorgeous” with it on. She has the perfectly colored cheeks, darkened eyelashes, and perfectly lined lipstick. Her face is clear of blemishes, moles, freckles, and any other “imperfections” she could possibly have. Her eyebrows are perfectly arched and tweaked. Even the best makeup artist can’t get a real girl’s face that beat. Barbie is plastic perfection. Any girl who admires her will want to be plastic perfection as well. Her made-up beauty fits a conventional standard, yet no woman can ever really look like her 100%. Real women get older. Real women have wrinkles, freckles, beauty marks, moles, scraggly eyebrows, and all the other distinct features. And yet, real women do make themselves up to look like Barbie all the time.

Bratz’s use of makeup is/was entirely different.

For starters, the makeup wasn’t designed to hide any “imperfections”. The Bratz doll Yasmin had a mole under her left eye. Her makeup didn’t hide that mole. Other Bratz dolls had moles and freckles, too.

Though, admittedly, a lot of the Bratz makeup was polished, there were many times their makeup was experimental and could hardly ever really be called “perfect”.

Take Bratz Space Angelz Cloe for example.

What is perfect about her makeup? Nothing at all! Her lipstick is asymmetrical, hardly what I would call “designed to appeal”. It would be fair to argue that anyone who wears their makeup like this is looking for attention, but it’s hardly the sexual or attractive kind. While Barbie’s makeup was clearly created so she could look pleasing out in public, this makeup is hardly what I would call public-friendly.

Any child who imitated this would end up getting stared down by the public, and maybe even teased and mocked. I’m sure most children were/are aware of that. But it’s clear that the makeup is different and unique. Keeping that in mind, it’s easy to see that the Bratz are giving a different message with their makeup. They are showing just how artistic and creative it can be, even if it isn’t necessarily attractive! They are showing that it’s okay to do something different with makeup! It definitely doesn’t give the message that girls have to wear makeup to appear normal. In fact, the above doll line made makeup seem very unusual, almost abnormal. Even makeup’s rules were bent by the Bratz dolls!

Much of the Bratz’s other makeup was used to match up with the theme or subculture they represented. Pretty N Punk, for example, represented punk culture. Many punk princesses wear dark makeup to show their edge and fierceness. They don’t wear it to appear “attractive” or sexy or perfect. Male rock stars often wear eyeliner and black lipstick, too, and I’m sure it’s not to appear more attractive and perfect.

Most guys might think these styles are cool, but hardly any of them would consider these girls “bombshells”. It’s easy to tell that their makeup was purely designed to better make a statement rather than to appear perfect, without imperfections.

Again, Bratz used makeup in a variety of ways, even in more conventional ways. But because of their constant changes, they never managed to give the impression that they wore makeup to please others. They never gave the message that a girl had to wear makeup to appear attractive. They literally seemed to just be having fun with it. As a tween, I liked that.

Bratz may not have been the fresh-faced, innocent-looking, demure dolls mommies wanted, but they weren’t exactly anti-feminist either.

By feminists criticizing the Bratz usage of makeup, it’s as if they are placing a rule on who gets to be a feminist. So, are they implying women who enjoy trying different makeup tricks aren’t feminists? This leads to greater questions about modern feminism.

Sure, makeup was created by men and is a reminder of the “patriarchy”. But so is everything in our societies. Does that mean makeup is bad and can’t be used for positive and creative purposes? Absolutely not!

Overall, I’m not sure where some of these feminists are going when they attack the usage of makeup on these dolls. I think most of them are purely ignorant about the brand.

Bratz Are “Over-sexualized”

All the articles I’ve read from feminists, especially from Jezebel, have said that the Bratz are “hyper-sexualized” dolls. What exactly makes a doll sexualized? Short skirts? Cropped tops? Makeup? Pouty Lips? Glossy eyes?

And if they do, what exactly makes these things sexualized?

They are only sexualized when people sexualize them. To say that a doll with a short skirt is sexualized is indirectly saying a woman who wears a short skirt is sexualizing herself.

That would go against most feminists’ mantra: “My clothing is not my consent”.

Haven’t we gone beyond policing a woman’s attire and attributing her wardrobe to sexual and physical attention from the opposite sex? So why is it condemned when dolls reflect just that attitude?

Arguing about dolls being over-sexualized may be more appropriate for Barbie to a certain degree because of the “intent” of some of her lines. Most of her early attire is for the physical attention of her boyfriend Ken (though even she has moved beyond that point). Barbie has been a sex icon for most men for centuries. She was inspired by a “Call-Girl” doll, Bild Lilli, a doll meant for adults. Barbie has literally had lingerie lines. She has had “pregnant” dolls.

Barbie, sex icon

Sure, Pregnant Midge isn’t wearing a fitted skirt and a lot of makeup. But she’s pregnant! This opens the doors to other controversial subjects that kids really aren’t mature enough to be exposed to (though children often witness their mothers pregnant all the time).

Barbie is meant to be a blonde, gorgeous adult woman who does “adult” things like have sex and get pregnant. And she allows girls to imagine their lives as “adult” women through playtime with her. Children who play with her are reinventing an adult lifestyle. Sometimes, this produces controversy.

But even with Barbie, should we police all of her fashion styles and attribute it solely to sex and seeking male attention? Not all of it.

If we want to talk about something being sexualized or “hyper-sexualized”, we have to consider the context of the lines the dolls are released in.

The Bratz, on the other hand, have never initiated a sexual response to anyone who played or collected them. The context of their clothing, the intent of their lines, have never been to produce a sexual response. They were intended for a tween and teen audience. They were meant to showcase the latest fashions and the most revolutionary styles out in the cultural world.

In fact, if you look up “Bratz as a sex icon” on Google, hardly anything sexual comes up except these feminists’ articles! While Barbie has many photos of a sexual nature, Bratz don’t!

Most men do not see Bratz as sexually attractive. First off, their bodies are too disproportionate to even be considered “real”.

If you want to argue that Bratz’s skirts are too short, short enough to look like underwear, let’s consider the fact that Bratz hardly wore skirts in the past.

To me, the Bratz have mostly been presented as “fashionable”, not sexy. And if fashionable is considered sexy, women and men have a problem. Clothing itself is a problem. Taste and preference is a problem.

Dolls are designed to mimic the real world around us in some ways. If we don’t want dolls to mimic the styles we find “sexualized”, then we as women need to stop wearing makeup and fashionable clothes that are too sexualized. We need to go back to the point where our skirts were below the ankles and our collars were high. But feminists fought to move away from that point. Why? Because it was uncomfortable to walk in those long, horrible skirts. The collars were itchy and hot in the summer. And it didn’t stop women from being objectified or from being looked at as sex objects.

What is considered sexualized is subjective. In the above Bratz photos, I’m still trying to scan them for any hint of sex and I don’t understand it. Someone else may be able to spot it. If some of us, like myself, can’t spot it as easily, that means it’s not as “overt” as these feminists make it out to be.

Arguably, feminists come from all walks of life, from many different religious and moral backgrounds. Some feminists are Muslim or Hindu and believe in a certain form of modesty. But there are many village women out in the world who often go topless or wear crop tops, and it isn’t considered morally indecent. It’s mostly considered practical in the heat!

If we can honor that women come from all walks of life, we should also be able to understand that the Bratz represent those women that actually enjoy using fashion as a form of self-expression and connecting with group culture, especially sub-cultures. We should understand that the Bratz wear their short skirts and crop tops and think nothing of it.

The short skirts that they wear are simply fashion statements. The Bratz’s legs seem freer, which is why the Bratz give off the image that they are liberated from societal norms. But their lines are hardly ever to cater to male or female sexual fantasies.

The Bratz do often wear cropped tops. But cropped tops aren’t always worn for sexual attention. If we’re going to say that, we might as well condemn every woman who wears one in the summer, on the beach, or at home relaxing. Bikinis should be outlawed then. They’re revealing. If that’s the case, return to the 1800s idea of “fashion” when bathing suits weighed 8 lbs!

But women will not regress. Women have many reasons for wearing the fashions they wear and it is not always to seek male attention. Feminists are the ones who’ve educated the world on that. So why can’t they accept the Bratz dolls for wearing it?

The Bratz’s cropped tops are no different from the ones sported by empowering and feminist female pop stars and figures today.

And yet, most feminists’ honor these women as strong and empowering influences on girls. Are Alessia Cara and Pink seeking male attention with their cropped tops?

It’s true that fashion sends a message to others about us, even if it doesn’t tell others everything. However, if we look at the context of the lines produced, we can clearly see the dolls’ intended nature, even if they’re wearing cropped tops and mini skirts. From the Bratz, we can obviously see they are fierce, independent, and revolutionary dolls that simply want to take fashion to the next outrageous level.

When we look at Bratz fashion lines like Tokyo-ago-go or Pretty N’ punk, what message are the lines sending?

Bratz Tokyo a-go-go tells me that the Bratz are ready for a wild and fun Tokyo adventure, not a date with a hot guy. Their cropped tops don’t hint at any sexual message in this line. Pretty N Punk tells me that the Bratz are ready to listen to some rock music and party at a rock club.

Neither of these lines give the message that they want a male’s attention or that they even want to look sexy at all.

Many of the feminists that complain about the Bratz often complain about anything “too revealing”. If you wear skinny jeans, you’re sexualizing yourself to some of these feminists!

That’s why they were on my list of 7 Feminists That Make Me Cringe.

These feminists also associate makeup with sexualization. I think makeup makes people look older, especially children, but that doesn’t mean it’s specifically for looking older and hotter to the opposite sex. There is kiddie makeup out in the world that’s toned down and it’s a lot of fun to share makeup moments with mom. Spa dates aren’t sexualizing to a child.

Face paint can be a form of makeup as well. Face paint isn’t sexualizing. Bratz have often used makeup that way.

What really kills me about these feminists’ accusations is how they equate “features” to sexualization. I find it interesting how “big lips” and “glossy eyes” are associated with sexualization. Bratz have a vague “ethnic” look about them. They were meant to relate, again, to a wider ethnic demographic.

But some of these feminists have associated the Bratz’s big lips and eyes with sexualization. What?

Black women have bigger lips than other races. Are they sexualizing themselves when they wear lip gloss or lipstick on their lips? I think this goes back to a Eurocentric standard of modesty, where thin lips and big eyes are considered “innocent”, while full lips and almond-shaped eyes (more similar to other ethnic groups) are considered immodest and ugly.

I can understand how the Bratz could encourage thin-lip girls to get surgery just to blow their lips up. However, thin-lip dolls can just as easily encourage big-lip girls to get surgery to reduce their lips. I think the Bratz, who are widely looked at as unrealistic in form and design, make big heads, feet, and lips, once considered undesirable traits, more acceptable.

I grew up having big feet. Big feet run in my family. Many of the women in my family wear size 11. The smallest feet in my family have worn size 9! Most people have called me “long feet”. When the Bratz were released, I didn’t feel so bad about it. Their feet were obviously exaggerated though.

To me, the eyes showed attitude and confidence, not flirtation and sexuality. So if a woman glosses her eyes, she’s trying to flirt with someone? This contradicts everything feminists stand for!

 Unrealistic Bodies

Feminists have attacked dolls with skinny bodies for years. This is because many are afraid girls will strive to have unrealistic body weights, starving themselves or getting surgery just to appear skinny.

Bratz have very skinny arms and legs.

I can understand why feminists fear this. After all, many people desired to have Barbie’s figure after being exposed to her. However, we have to also analyze what the standard of beauty was before Barbie was released. Being slim, blonde, with thin lips, perky breasts, and blue eyes were always standards of beauty since the 1950s and 1960s. The media played it up. Barbie just reflected that standard in a perfect doll form.

http://www.thefrisky.com/photos/human-barbies-slideshow/barbie-valeria/

Bratz’s body design never reflected a particular standard of beauty from the very beginning, skinny or not. No one ever desired to have large feet and huge heads (at least in the west) with a skinny body. It never has been an ideal (at least in the west) and never will be.

If we look at Bratz as a doll brand separately from Barbie, objectively, Bratz don’t look realistic enough to begin with to cause children to want to look like them in real life. That’s like assuming little girls would want to look like a Powerpuff Girl just because they like the cartoon. Children are smarter than that. They know when something looks unrealistic.

Barbie and Jem dolls had more realistic appearances, appearances that seemed to fit media standards, so I can understand how individuals could strive to look like them. Bratz dolls have larger than life heads with huge feet. They look like they walked out of carnival fun house mirrors.

If you’re looking to bring body politics into the Bratz world, you’ve got a few things to consider.

First off,  keeping in mind their cartoonish look, they aren’t supposed to have realistic bodies. They are supposed to look weird and sort of funny.

Second, you have to consider what kids see when they look at dolls that obviously look disproportionate. I think children get the same vibe from these dolls that they do from characters in My Little Pony. Humans don’t have purple and pink skin, so we can’t be like the Equestria Girls. That’s the vibe I got as an 11 year old when it came to Bratz. In fact, I thought it was cool that they looked like funny, but edgy cartoon characters. Being skinny was not even a thought. I’m skinny, but their type of “skinny” was like watching Anamaniacs characters walk around.

Therefore, it’s simple to conclude that their “skinny” bodies do not honestly matter because the bodies aren’t mean to reflect real bodies at all. They could’ve easily had thick bodies with extremely small heads and feet. It would still look like figures in a fun house mirror, not a real body representing real figures.

The only things the Bratz mimic about humans are their fashion, accessories, hobbies, and personalities. Just like cartoon characters.

Please don’t come and tell me that Gumball toys, based off of the cartoon, make kids want to become clouds, cacti, and fish. Please. Those characters obviously look strange. The Bratz are more similar to them. Kids obviously know that the Bratz bodies aren’t normal and they recognize that they would get teased if they looked that way.

It’s not the same with Barbie or other fashion dolls like her, like Jem. If kids looked like them, they would be “praised” by beauty-conscious individuals.

“Bratz” for a name

Moms may have more of a problem with the name than feminists, but a few feminists have expressed their disdain for the name as well.

Sure, a “brat” is someone who is usually depicted as spoiled, misbehaved, and demanding. It doesn’t sound pleasant over all.

But considering Da Brat was one of my favorite female rappers in the 1990s, I didn’t have a problem with it. Like Da Brat, the name seemed designed to represent their urban, tough, and sassy attitude. It reflected their nonconforming nature. To me, Bratz represented individuality and the beauty of diversity (in style, ethnicity, and interests). The name just made their sass pop.

Da Brat took gangsta to a whole new level with her tomboyish looks!

Again, I can see how this makes the former generation uneasy. After all, they’re still getting used to gay marriage. They wouldn’t be used to a name like “Bratz” being used more positively. To the older generation, nonconformity is dangerous.

But as advocates of nonconformity, it shocks me that there are so many feminists who are so against the Bratz, name and all. I get that we want our little girls to be pure, wholesome, and solid citizens in society. But there should also be room for girls to be bold, innovative, expressive, and revolutionary. I think hijacking the name Brats, adding the “z”, and the halo is the definition of revolutionary and innovative.

Their Emphasis on Materialism

Bratz came with hundreds of accessories and clothes throughout their run. In many of their movies and in their TV show, they are often depicted shopping for outfits for each occasion.

This leads many feminists to believe that the Bratz encourage materialism.

I believe that, as humans, things are apart of our life. Sometimes, things have significant meaning in our lives. In many cultures, family heirlooms are passed through the family and they end up having personal meaning.

Of course, the Bratz’s accessories aren’t as meaningful as a family heirloom, but their items do reflect items we use or see in real life. It’s kind of cool to see miniature-sized items.

Material things are especially a part of being in the 1st world west. I do believe that our lives have been changed for the better by modern conveniences such as cell phones and tablets. I believe that makeup and fashion constantly updates, which says a lot about our culture, so people do spend a lot of money to look good. But I don’t think these things make a person bad or materialistic.

A materialistic person is someone who only cares about material things and can’t live without those material things. The Bratz have shown many layers throughout their shows and movies. Though they do love to look good, they also enjoy their hobbies and connections with friends and family.

Sure, the Bratz have shown that they love to shop. However, they often emphasized being resourceful or finding innovative ways to get the items they wanted. Shopping in bargain bins or designing their own styles were just some of the things Bratz have been shown doing to express their resourcefulness.

The Bratz have shown interest in other things such as sports, music, science, animals, among other things. I don’t think they’ve emphasized material things all the time. Furthermore, I think their use of material things haven’t necessarily made them seem spoiled or privileged.

However, there is nothing wrong with wanting or owning nice things and trying to enhance the quality of your life by collecting something you love or enjoy.

I personally find the Bratz items to be fascinating and enjoyable for playtime. Who wants a doll that comes with nothing? Kids want to bring the world of their dolls to life with mini models. Mini items add to the overall experience each doll line brings.

If we want to question whether we are instilling materialistic values on our children, we shouldn’t be buying them expensive I-phones and tablets. I’ve seen worse behavior come from children demanding the latest technology than from the influence of a Bratz doll.

“Passion For Fashion”= Obsessed with Appearance

Feminists believe the slogan suggests that the Bratz are completely focused on outfits and nothing else substantial.

But isn’t it possible for an individual to be interested in fashion, as a practice, and still have substance?

And why can’t there be substance in fashion?

I can understand if people mostly focus on fashion just to be pleasing or attractive to others. But the Bratz use fashion for many purposes, mostly to showcase many ideas and subcultures, not just to look “pleasing” or “attractive”. Quite frankly, many of the Bratz’s outfits don’t look pleasing. Midnight Dance, Pretty N Punk, and Space Angelz are not really of the “pleasing” sort, though some of the Bratz’s outfits are.

It’s clear the the doll brand is emphasizing not being concerned with pleasing others. Bratz are encouraging individuals to enjoy fashion without fitting into fashion molds. Fashion doesn’t always equal attraction and attraction doesn’t always equal fashion.

I believe the one thing that is lacking among girls today is passion. Girls are not encouraged to be passionate about the things they like and want. They are encouraged to scatter their interests, which makes it difficult for them to master a practice. The Bratz encourage girls to be all about their passions, despite what others think.

I also find it odd for feminists to be against having a “passion for fashion” when we consider the fact that the majority of fashion designers are male!

Females are still in the minority

I think the Bratz’s kind of passion for fashion encourages girls to be future designers and inventors. They don’t encourage girls just to buy clothes, but to also come up with their own ideas, to think outside of the box, and to express themselves in unique ways.

Using myself as an example, I don’t think I would’ve embraced my own gender expression as well had I not been introduced to the Bratz dolls. I don’t think I would’ve thought it was possible to see the individuality in fashion. I don’t think I would’ve found my own social identity.

When feminists began criticizing the Bratz, it affected the overall design of Bratz. MGA made things worse by dragging the brand into court with Barbie’s company Mattel, but feminists began growing in influence and they are the reason the latest Bratz design changed into something long-time fans could hardly respect or appreciate. MGA expressed that they wanted Bratz to have a “better image” for girls. Who made the Bratz image look bad? Why would they decide that the Bratz image wasn’t good enough? Someone had to be criticizing the brand in order for them to make that statement on Facebook. We have to acknowledge that feminists had some hand in the drastic change.

In my opinion, Bratz moved from a more ethnic look and vibe to a more “Eurocentric”-friendly design.

I know it seems like I learned a little too much from a line of dolls, and it may seem that I invest too much time appreciating these dolls, but that is partially why I have a special connection with this brand. I really feel if feminists’ had really and truly tried to understand the meaning behind the Bratz, if they’d actually given them a chance, they would see that the Bratz are/were not too far off from feminists’ goals.

I just hope that when, or rather IF, the Bratz return, they will return to their original authentic design. I hope they truly produce something earth-shattering, regardless of what anyone says. Even if feminists disagree, for me, that’s truly empowering.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think/thought about the Bratz controversy, feminists’ involvement in it, and the future of Bratz.

American Girl Introduces Five New Characters for 2017 (Logan, Tenney, Felicity, Z, and Nanea)+ “Perma” Panties

16 Feb

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Greetings readers!

Generation Next is back to talk about American Girl and their reveal of not one, not two, but FOUR new characters, as well as one comeback, released or coming out in 2017.

Many of these dolls have been rumored for months now within the American Girl community, but I thought instead of just making a review about “rumors”, it would be best to wait until the reveal of the products.

American Girl has not only released pictures of their newly released and upcoming products, but they have a live stream that goes into a little detail as well.

Check that out on Facebook!

There are plenty of changes American Girl, LLC is implementing this year. The changes, for many, are both exciting and a little overwhelming. I’ve heard the new changes are due to there being a new CEO at American Girl, LLC. I’m not sure her history with the brand prior to becoming “commander-in-chief” at the company, but I hope she actually understands the base of the brand enough to drive it forward.

Because so many changes and new products are hitting us all at once, I’m going to break down each release in detail (based on what we know so far about them), and I will be giving my opinions and my feelings on all the new releases.

I already did my review for Gabriela McBride, so I won’t go into any more detail about her.

My review will cover, in the order of release:

  • Tenny Grant and Logan Everett
  • Felicity Merriman
  • Z. Crew doll
  • Nanea Mitchell

Tenney Grant and Logan Everett

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Tenney Grant is an aspiring singer-songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee who is trying to form her own band and get her music out into the world. Logan Everett is a boy who joins her band and they eventually become friends.

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Synopsis Book 3: Tenney & Logan are a harmonious match onstage, but behind the scenes, they are totally out of tune. With her recording contract signed, Tenney is ready to make the album of her dreams . . . she just wishes she didn’t have to do it with moody Logan Everett! They’re supposed to be songwriting partners, but Logan doesn’t even seem to be trying. Just when it looks like they’ve found their harmony, Logan suddenly disappears, and Tenney wonders if he has bailed on their act. A couple of months ago, Tenney would have gladly taken the opportunity to go solo. But as she learns more of Logan’s story, she begins to wonder: Do she and Logan need each other-and their music-now more than ever before?
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So we’ve got the story and we have pictures from her collection. Here’s my spill on it.

Dolls

Tenney

Tenney Grant is blonde with freckles, brown eyes (like Julie), and it looks like a little lip gloss…Her hands are molded to appear like she’s holding an instrument, which is different from older American Girl dolls.

I personally think that Tenney Grant is a cute little blondie! I love the freckles and I think she looks cute in her little outfits. She sort of reminds me of Caroline.

However, I’m not really interested in investing in another contemporary line outside of Girl of the Year. My budget isn’t wide enough for the leap.

And the fact that I have Caroline makes me less enthusiastic. There is really nothing that is compelling me to buy her. She just isn’t unique enough for me.

My thing is…this new line isn’t offering anything to me that Girl of the Year can’t offer. I get she’s targeted to older girls, and I’m sure her books will be interesting enough. However, as far as the doll goes, I just don’t understand why she couldn’t have been a Girl of the Year character with a male best friend…

Is she meant to only last one year and be gone like Girl of the Year? If so, why make this new line?

If she’s meant to last longer, that would be a plus. Girl of the Year has fans crunching and saving so that they can purchase a doll within a year. If this doll lasts a while, it would give fans a chance to purchase her. Still, the overall design and feeling of the line could easily be placed in Girl of the Year at a later date.

And now, we’ve got more modern characters than we need.

American Girl, LLC told us on facebook that this pair of dolls will be a part of a contemporary line that will be released at “random” and will just be a “side” thing. At this point, it doesn’t look like they will have a better name than “Contemporary Characters”, if this line really gets an umbrella name at all (considering the cover of her books just say “Tenney”). So there really isn’t any distinction between this line and Girl of the Year really.

That aside, we are expecting to get more dolls for this line throughout the years at random, much like how American Girl Beforever started. It won’t be a set date, like Girl of the Year.

With that being said, I don’t know if I’m happy that she is the first character for the line. She’s blonde, she’s trendy, she’s a singer. It just feels cliche, like your typical debut character.

I’m not even a huge fan of her clothes (not really my taste, though there is mix and match potential). I know what she’s wearing is the trend, but I’ve seen better from American Girl.

A lot of American Girl fans do not like Tenney Grant’s face tan and her “unflattering” freckles. I personally like the doll. I’m just not on board with the idea overall. I just don’t see the point.

The contemporary dolls are supposed to be more appealing to older girls in middle school. Girl of the Year has already jumped on the “middle school” bandwagon with Gabriela (who is in sixth grade). I don’t understand what this character is offering girls differently from the GOTY line.

Some fans also don’t like her lips, which appear “shiny”, like she’s wearing lip gloss. I personally don’t see anything wrong with shiny lips, as many 18″ dolls are carved or created with shiny lips. It does give her a more sophisticated look and it does make her appear different from the classic “American Girl”. But I don’t see the harm in makeup that subtle.

Despite how cute she is, I think I would’ve rather had Jaya, her Indian best friend, as the first debut character for the line. The only thing really driving this line so far is Tenney’s “best friend” doll, Logan.

Logan Everett

Logan is American Girl’s first ever 18″ BOY doll (they had a boy character in the Bitty Baby line). This has been rumored for awhile for those who have been in the “know”.

I’m going to be honest though. When I first saw Logan, I thought, “Finally, a girl character who doesn’t look like a stereotypical girl!” I would’ve been really excited if Logan had looked like this and been female. Talk about breaking gender norms.

But no. It’s actually a male character.

For many young male American Girl fans, this is a dream come true! Finally, there is a boy that represents them!

According to American Girl, LLC, fans have been begging for them to release a boy character. In this world, where diversity and inclusivity have become themes, this is American Girl company’s step forward.

As I said in my article about American Boy dolls before, I do believe that boys desperately needed dolls that mirrored kids their own age and were good, positive role models. Why should the girls be the only ones included?

However, I’m going to, once again, address the concerns I had back then. I’m not sure if having a boy character is good for the brand.

Eat me alive if you want to. American Girl is called American Girl. Why was American Girl such a big deal for girls? It wasn’t just because it provided wholesome dolls for girls with educational books and positive messages, something fashion dolls didn’t offer. It was also because most of history, prior to American Girl, was told from the perspective of males. Most of the heroes honored in our history books are male. Look at Marvel and DC comics, and you will see that even most of our modern heroes are male. Most action-adventure stories, like Harry Potter, have a male lead.

American Girl offered heroes for our little girls.

Nowadays, we do have more movies and shows about female heroes. But back in the 1980s, when American Girl first arrived, there were hardly any women taking on the “hero” title.

American Girl has been one of the first companies that brought these young females to the front. The contributions of women, especially little girls, may have been insignificant among other historical toys or books, but not in American Girl.

With the inclusion of a male doll in this brand, I can see why some American Girl fans are concerned that this brand will branch out. Some people have already expressed that they would like American Girl to honor mostly girls.

And this is not to say that Logan is outshining Tenney. However, with the success of Logan, will American Girl be considering more boy dolls in the future? We may start to see more male dolls in the future.

Some young male fans were hoping for historical boy characters instead. I think if Mattel creates another branch called ‘American Boy’ that might work. That way, it wouldn’t take away from the American Girl brand.

There’s another reason why I would’ve preferred another branch for American Boys.

  1. With Logan being a “best friend” to Tenney, he is nothing more than an accessory, like the other Best Friend characters were.
  2. With him being a male, it does leave room open for “romantic” playtime among children.

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.

He seems meant to appeal to girls and not really meant to be designed specifically for the male fans, which I think is cheating our young male fans.

I also get the feeling he will be confused as the “boyfriend”. American Girl swears up and down that he is not a boyfriend character. I don’t think we should look at every male-female relationship as romantic, but it’s kind of hard to convince young girls that “shipping” two people with one another is wrong. And that is exactly what I think will end up happening with the two of them. If not while reading the story, just during playtime. What’s stopping a girl from pretending Logan is Tenney’s boyfriend? And so, here we end up with Barbie and Ken…

They kind of look like Barbie and Ken, too.

And why did they have to start off with a white male character? It would’ve been great if he’d have been Asian or something different for a debut. If they started this as a line of boy dolls, there may been a more diverse range of male characters.

It’s good I’m not too interested in this line. I’m happy there is finally a boy doll, but I’m just not happy with where he is placed.

The last issue I have with Logan is his AGE. Logan is said to be FOURTEEN (14) years old, according to American Girl’s facebook! He’s way older than the most of the target demographic. He’s not a kid; he’s a TEENAGER. His doll actually gives the illusion that he’s a 10 year old. I don’t know, but having crushes, whether on Tenney or not, wouldn’t be too far away from this character…

Story

I really get a ‘Taylor Swift’ vibe from the story. It seems cute enough. I’m especially interested in the story with her best friend Jaya. I wonder  why she didn’t get a doll…

I was hoping there would be a “singing” theme eventually with Girl of the Year, but now that the Contemporary line has it, that’s out for me.

Still, I was hoping the contemporary line would touch on the deeper issues affecting middle schoolers, something Girl of the Year has failed to do.

Remember those books by American Girl called The Care and Keeping of You? That book really helped girls as they were growing up and reaching puberty. I was hoping this contemporary line would be a good guide to giving advice for girls. But no. These books are just other forms of Girl of the Year.

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I read a preview of Tenney’s books, and honestly I just felt like I was watching a Disney Channel or Nickelodeon show. It lacked any real substance. But it’s cute enough.

Unfortunately, because the series is told from the girl’s perspective, Logan is given a bad-boy, mysterious, and moody personality that seems unflattering. He doesn’t seem created to directly relate to boys, but rather seems created to better appeal to females. The personality is reminiscent of male characters that are often found in female-driven literature…and these characters often end up being the “heartthrobs” (the moody Edward from Twilight is an example). They are designing a male ideal here, not really giving boys a good role model.

Unfortunately, what I’m seeing and reading are not enough for me to be interested in Tenney or Logan. However, I would definitely buy Tenney and Logan as a gift for kids. Just not for my collection.

One thing is for certain: We can call bull on American Girl claiming they were”moving from the best friend strategy”.

Felicity Merriman, American Girl’s Revolutionary War Character

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Can I give an outplayed “Yaaasss”? Guess who is back (again) out of the archives? Felicity Merriman!

They must have wanted to tie in with the new “Hamilton” popularity or maybe jump in on Shailene Woodley’s recent popularity (considering her first acting role was as Felicity).

Felicity is a long-time historical favorite. If you don’t remember, she represented the Revolutionary War era. She was our fiery, spunky, independent red-head (before Maryellen arrived).

I wrote about her archival, and I can’t believe I’m now writing about her return.

Remember when she was retired in 2001? Then she returned in 2005 and was retired again. Now, she’s back again. They really just can’t decide what to do with Miss Merriman!

Felicity is coming with a new Meet Outfit and a new book layout.

Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of either one. I like her blue dress better than her lavender one, considering the quality seems better, but something about it is unflattering. I think I’m just biased to her first Meet dress. It just felt more authentic, more natural. This new dress looks more like it was made for a Disney Princess character.

Still, I’m giddy one of my favorite characters are returning and I’m happy the American Revolution will not be forgotten in the Beforever line.

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My only gripe is that she will be released with Tenney, which takes away her shine. The website didn’t even update her “Play” page, she’s barely on the front home page, and she’s not boldly announced in the Shop section either. So far, she’s only come out with her new Meet outfit, which isn’t much fun…

I also heard she doesn’t actually come with a shift or hair ribbon, which is really cheap.

The worst part is she’s only being sold online and at the three major stores in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.

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Z. Crew Doll

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Z. Crew started off as a stop-motion series (created by American Girl) about a Korean American “character” doll named Suzie Yang who creates her own vlogs online, often using her “American Girl dolls” (usually minis) as themes. Obviously, American Girl company was inspired by actual American Girl fans who often make their own stop-motion videos or often make videos in general using their dolls. It definitely put all of those people out of business…

Well, now, Z is getting her own doll! (Though technically, this doll has been around awhile now. #40 anyone? #64 anyone? #30?) And I suppose this is American Girl’s response to more diversity and that push for an Asian American Girl doll?

Here’s why this character does not suffice:

  1. She is not the historical Asian character we asked for.
  2. She is another contemporary character, competing with other contemporary characters.
  3. Most of her clothes from the series are borrowed from their Truly Me line (their line of customizable contemporary dolls…)

I’m sure most of us already have some items similar to what American Girl is offering for her or will buy the clothes and put them on dolls we already have.

Most people have not been asking for a modern Asian American doll. Most people felt pretty satisfied with Jess (even though she was part Asian). But we have been asking for an Asian character for Beforever, one that wasn’t just an “accessory” doll (like Ivy was to Julie), and one that has her own story and moment in history. And what did they give us? This.

I’m not going to say I hate this character. I think she’s really cute and unique. Her stop-motion series is cute. But again, why so many contemporary lines? And why all at once, in the same year?

The content and themes being pushed by American Girl for these random contemporary lines could’ve gone over well with Girl of the Year. I really don’t understand the point of the Z. Crew line. Maybe the stop-motion series is so popular, kids wanted to buy dolls inspired from the series. But I’m just not that in love with the character to feel compelled to buy her. And if you already have #40, it’s a wrap.

She’s also getting a book, for whatever reason, and a live-action movie (and cringey Amazon Prime is doing it again).

I wonder if Z’s whole crew is joining her in this doll line…That might make things a little interesting. Still, I can only see myself purchasing Z after making other major purchases…

Z is supposed to come out in April, but already she has quite a bit of competition this year. Why would they release their only Asian American character amidst so much competition? It’s not fair. They are setting this doll up to fail.

But for anyone interested, I think she will be a unique and diverse addition to any contemporary line, considering they don’t have many Asian American characters, and none that are Korean at that.

However, I don’t think she will last more than two years. Stop-motion can get old after awhile. There needs to be something else driving this line.

For anyone interested, her doll is set to be released April 27, 2017.

Nanea Mitchell, Hawaiian Character from the 1940s

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The rumored Nanea Mitchell has finally been unveiled!

And yes, she is just as I feared: ANOTHER 1940s character.

Nanea Mitchell, 1941
She’s a Hawaiian girl who does her part to help and heal during wartime. 

Nanea Mitchell learns the importance of generosity and sacrifice throughout her stories. 

Set for a fall release is Nanea Mitchell, a Native Hawaiian girl growing up during World War II in what was then a U.S. territory. “Nanea’s stories teach girls that kokua—doing good deeds and giving selflessly—sometimes require sacrifice.” NBCNews

Her stories take place around the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Many speculate that she will live in Oahu, Hawaii, close to where the events occurred.

I am excited to learn more about Hawaiian history and culture. I am interested in learning how this story differs from Molly’s (if it does). Don’t get me wrong.

But I don’t care how beautiful Nanea is. I don’t care how touching her story may be. All of that superficial crap does not disguise the real problems I see. I still feel cheated.

1.Instead of giving us a new era in history, American Girl decided to “rinse and repeat” an era. 

I mentioned before that it felt like American Girl was running out of era ideas. Nanea, to me, is proof that they really couldn’t find any other different eras in history. I said this before: I’m not interested in reading about WWII twice. Especially not before we touch on eras that have never been touched on by American Girl. I’m still waiting on the 1920s. And I don’t care how diverse this makes the brand, history is a priority of mine. I care more about diverse and accurate eras in history than I do about the color of dolls.

Unlike other fans, I don’t like this brand for its dolls alone. I was drawn to this brand for the history. And I am eager for American Girl to introduce new history to kids. We’ve talked about WWII with Molly. What about eras we haven’t talked about, like Western Expansion? The Roaring Twenties? Early Exploration (Pilgrim)? I would even go with the 1980s. I get there are many perspectives in each era in history, but we haven’t even touched on ONE perspective in those eras I just named. Let’s double back AFTER all ground has been covered.

This story of Nanea’s even sounds similar to Molly’s (pulling together, lending a hand, helping the war effort, and making sacrifices). I can’t say her descriptions sound original or unique. Felicity carried unique themes like Loyalty and Independence, something not shared by other American Girls. Nanea is carrying the same themes Molly carried. And that’s just not very appealing to me.

You know what’s going to end up happening with most Molly fans? They will just be taking Nanea’s collection and putting it with Molly. And if Nanea’s collection is bogus, which something tells me it will be, she will be archived soon and replaced with the original Molly.

Or it could be the other way around, where Nanea is bought more and just dumped with Molly’s collection. Either way, the lines are now interchangeable and less unique.

Fortunately, Nanea is cute enough to go over well. And if they focus on her culture, instead of over-emphasizing WWII, I may be able to deal. Otherwise, I’m sorry. I can’t get excited about an era I already know so much about.Well, I can’t get as excited as I could if this were a new era in history.

My other concern is this: Will this new “rinse and repeat” method continue? Are they going to make two girls each era? I don’t know if I would like two 1960s characters. For starters, the character would more than likely be white. Then, if she’s really popular, she would diminish the importance of Melody significantly (because we all know she would sell better).

The “doll a decade” thing worked so well because one doll could get so much in her collection. Now, with two, one doll will get the things the other won’t, just to promote them differently. There is still a possibility Molly will come back. After all, she does have a big picture on the front cover of American Girl’s new Story of America book. American Girl is still selling her books and movie. Because she’s still being promoted, there has to be a line between what we can find in Molly’s collection and what we could find in Nanea’s, just to make them both uniquely appealing.

Nanea isn’t going to get as many “WWII” types of items like Molly did considering her era takes place much earlier before the war began to really affect everyday life. The things Nanea does get will probably look (or will actually be) exactly like Molly’s! Since I already have Molly, I’m hoping there will be some differences. Hopefully, the setting and culture (Hawaii) can provide some unique items that can last longer than two years.

I’m also hoping that there will be new 1940s references within the story. Molly already had a hula costume, so I don’t care much for a Hawaiian get-up. Molly introduced us to strap-on skates, newsreels, girl scout camps, patriotic songs that were especially sung at school, the popularity of tap dancing, the Three Stooges, the Red Cross, rationing, victory gardens, Halloween, snow globes, and so much more. I really don’t have a desire to hear about any of those things again. I don’t even want to hear a similar manner of speaking. Molly and her friends often said “Gosh” and “Golly” and such. I don’t want anything redundant. I will end up comparing everything to Molly.

I had the same problem with Cecile and Marie-Grace back in the day, but I warmed up to them. Maybe I will warm up to Nanea.

2. Is she the “Asian American” character we asked for? It doesn’t seem like it.

Most of us asked for a JAPANESE AMERICAN character, possibly, but not definitively, living in Hawaii. Yes, I heard all of the requests. Most people did not actually ask for a Hawaiian character. In fact, most fans hoped internment camps would be apart of the story.

I’m not sure of the actual ethnicity of this “Hawaiian” character, but it doesn’t seem like she will actually be “Asian”. Nanea is a Hawaiian name. Mitchell is an Americanized surname. The worst case would be if she was a mixed half white, half polynesian child. That would be the dumps.

American Girl has not truly been answering our call for diversity. They’ve been skating around the real issues. Even with Gabriela McBride, they’ve just pulled out an old retired doll, came up with some random modern outfits, and released her. That’s not really developing a Girl of the Year.

And this “Hawaiian” character is not exactly what fans wanted. Most of us wanted an Asian character.

Now, I do know some people who are excited about Nanea because they missed out on Kanani and may have wanted some pretty Hawaiian doll with a tan to add to their collection. I was not one of those people. So, I hope she has some Asian blood running through her veins. Otherwise, I will boycott this doll like the plague.

American Girl has already come out with a doll that brought out Hawaiian culture and that was Kanani. But which Asian character in American Girl truly brings out Asian culture or history through her collection? NONE. This is why we have been asking for an Asian American historical character,

They only made Nanea because they wanted to lighten the perspective of “internment” and they wanted to bring a doll out with a tan, hazel eyes, and wavy hair. Not truly to add diversity, but to cash in on Disney’s Moana’s success.

The thing is there are more eras they could’ve done the Hawaiian historical character. They could’ve made her from the 19th century, during the Annexation period and European-Asian contact, during the reign of one of the last queens in the west coast, among other interesting historical events. She would’ve really looked like Moana then.

But there are not too many eras that truly affect Asian Americans in the USA. WWII would’ve been the perfect era. It was an era that truly affected Asians, and the Asian struggle during the period has been glossed over largely. Instead, they gave us Moana, excuse me, Nanea.

And most people are probably thinking that there’s no difference between an Asian and Hawaiian…The ignorance of it all. I’ll bet American Girl thought the same thing when they made her.

3. She seems like a modern doll.

When I first saw her, I swear I thought she was another contemporary character. There is nothing “staple 1940s” about this character. When we look at Felicity, we know she’s colonial. When we look at Kit, we know she’s from the 1920s or 1930s. When we look at Maryellen, we know she’s from the 1950s. We know these things based on the clothes. That was the most fascinating thing about the fashion. The fashion reminded us of the era.

I do not see “history” when I see Nanea. It’s almost like they specifically designed her to look more “modern” so that she could appeal to the next generation. She looks like a “modern version” of the 1940s.

Her name isn’t even very historical either (even if a few people did have it in the 1940s). Nanea didn’t become a popular name until 2005. It’s like they chose the most “easy to pronounce”, remind-me-of-Moana name and slapped her under the label of Beforever. It is ridiculous. If people were thinking that American Girl is moving away from their historical emphasis, this would really validate their fears.

There used to be a time when the dolls were created as a compliment to the book series. This is why there were more accessories and dresses, and why there were pictures. This was also why it made sense to design a doll an era. Everything that was in the books was made for the dolls, and most of the books’ “timeline” lasted two years at times, allowing for a multitude of items to fill a decade. Samantha’s stories began in 1904 and ended in 1906. Molly’s stories took place from 1943 to 1945. Kirsten’s stories took place from 1854 to 1856.

Nanea is mostly supposed to cover 1941 and maybe a scrap of 1942. Just like Marie-Grace and Cecile, who only covered 1853. And trust me, the books felt very short and rushed as a result.

Now, the stories are mostly made to compliment the dolls. They create the dolls first, and then add or fix those details in the books later. The history is an afterthought now. Stories are not nearly as important as pretty dolls.

I feel like this story was thought up to create a pretty Hawaiian character, one that replaces the popular Kanani, not truly to add more history to this line of dolls.

4. She looks like a Wellie Wishers Doll or Another Brand’s Doll Entirely.

I really thought Nanea was from another brand. Her face mold looks different. She almost feels out of place in the Beforever line up. She doesn’t feel American Girl. Therefore, it’s hard for me to warm up to her. She somehow looks older…She doesn’t have the sweet, young look the other dolls have.

She really looks similar to a Wellie Wishers doll. It cheapens her a little bit. I hope they also reduce the price.

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5. She’s another character with wavy hair and hazel eyes.

More hazel eyes? Really, American Girl? If I see another hazel-eyed character, I’m going to snatch myself bald.

What happened to the days when American Girl characters had the features and combinations of real girls? What happened to the days when a girl living in the 1940s would actually be depicted with the braids most girls had in that era in time?

Nanea is over-glamorous. She just doesn’t feel like a natural little girl from the 1940s.

Maybe this is why I’ve always been so attached to my Molly. She had glasses. She had pigtails. She was unique. She was simply irreplaceable. Nanea is another hazel-eyed, wavy-haired glamor girl.

But what can we expect? She’s pretty and photogenic. She should sell well to the fan community.

Oh well. Maybe she will teach me something different about Hawaii and WWII (hopefully). I won’t know until she is officially released.

She will officially be released August 24, 2017.

I’m hoping she has some Asian background, and if not, I hope they design an Asian American character set in the 1980s or some other time period in the future. It’s time for American Girl to stop skating around. Nanea is nice and everything, but she’s not going to make up for the Asian historical character you lack.

Permanent Underwear

I may sound a little negative in this article. I am feeling rather negative. Perhaps I’m a little frustrated with American Girl because of their push for the new “permanent underwear” for some of their dolls.

If you haven’t heard, American Girl announced that the new “permanent underwear” will be sewn on to all of the new modern dolls as well as some modern Beforever characters (Maryellen, Melody, and Julie, fan favorites).

This is very infuriating. This takes away the whole point of doll playtime, which is really to mix and match fashion. And if someone wants to change their doll into a different era, like into the colonial era, they won’t be able to do that without looking at the permanent underwear.

American Girl claims they are doing this because they’ve noticed that some kids have been losing their dolls’ underwear.

“We assure the design change was made only to make play easier for some children and to ensure the underwear cannot be lost.”

But it doesn’t make play easier for all children, does it? Just some. And it definitely takes away the value for collectors.

This move to ensure children don’t lose the “underwear” is utter cow manure. It’s like saying, “We want to sew all of the clothes to the doll so the kids won’t lose the clothes”…It defeats the entire purpose of PLAYTIME. Children WILL lose items at times. They will mix and match or replace those items with something else. That’s the fun of it. It simply makes no sense to sew them on the bodies.

They may be trying to move toward “modesty” with these dolls. Some people feel that American Girl is teaching girls to be ashamed of their bodies by sewing on panties.

If they are trying to move towards modesty, it’s the stupidest move they’ve ever made. Honestly, the dolls’ bodies never looked realistic in the first place! They don’t have female parts underneath their clothes. They have a soft, stuffed torso overall.

What this really does is put restrictions and limitations on playtime. And it tightens everyone’s pockets.

American Girl claims it shouldn’t stop girls from mixing and matching the fashion, but it does, especially if you want your Julie to become “Elizabeth” from Felicity’s books or something of that nature.

It also can ruin photos and make the bathing suits on top of the underwear look chunky and awkward.

People speculate that American Girl’s introduction of the “beautiful” Nanea this early in the year is a “distraction” to coerce American Girl protestors into buying their dolls, despite the fact they are ignoring fans’ complaints. Some people have been persuaded to make one more purchase, but will only be buying Nanea and none after. Some will only be buying the dolls that don’t have the underwear (which puts Maryellen, Julie, Melody, and all the Truly Me dolls in a bind). Many are boycotting the purchase of all dolls until this is fixed.

It has really come to the point where the quality is being called out. Unfortunately, American Girl is confident that their dolls will sell, no matter what they dish out at us. And they have every reason to be. Tons of people on Youtube and beyond can’t resist Nanea.

And there are tons of parents and feminists that support the “sewing” of the underwear.

Me, personally, I could look past the new boxes and the new zip ties. I was a little more incensed at the new vinyl for the mini dolls. Many American Girl fans could not handle any of those changes.

But I draw my line at sewn-on underwear.

On facebook, Aryn Bedrick said, “The point is that AG is supposed to be authentic and geared towards intelligent play. The target age for these dolls is 8+. This move makes you look cheap and generic, like many of your other recent changes like the move to zip ties from strings, and packaging that requires clothing be attached with plastic tags that screams ‘throw me away’ instead of ‘save me for your future daughter’ as your original, classy packaging did. You are losing the things that set you apart in this industry.”

Many people consider a lot of these new body changes, packaging, and zip ties as a sign of disloyalty to the brand. I personally felt that the whole idea of Tenney, Logan, Z. Crew, and Nanea was breaking “loyalties” as much as the other new changes. But American Girl has been going down that road for the last couple of years, especially after the launch of Beforever.

The funny part about it is, for me, I’m more angry that Nanea Mitchell is sharing a decade with my beloved Molly. I’m more angry that another more interesting era was not chosen. I’m more angry that there are now more contemporary characters in this brand than there needs to be.

I don’t like the movies being produced out of Amazon Prime. I don’t like that the Wellie Wishers face mold and packaging are taking over the brand. I don’t like that Logan is Tenney’s sidekick and/or “boyfriend”. I don’t like that Z. Crew is so boring as a doll. I hate the new bodies with the new zip ties.

And the icing on the cake was the sewn-on undies.

I’m sorry this article is so negative. I tried so hard to be positive in my spirit, and maybe my views will change with time. But right now, my collection days feel very close to coming to a close. I’ve been with American Girl since 1997, and maybe it’s just time for me to retire. American Girl really needs to fix what’s broken and leave the fun stuff alone.

Well, that’s all I have to say. Leave a comment and let me know what you think about the new releases and all the different changes.

American Girl’s Girl of the Year 2017: Gabriela McBride! + ‘Girl of the Year 2017’ Is Set To Last More Than A Year!

31 Dec

In West Philadelphia, born and raised

On the playground is where I spent most of my days…

You readers like that ‘Fresh Prince‘ reference right there?

That’s the first thing that came to mind when I heard about American Girl’s newest Girl of the Year 2017.

If you don’t know what American Girl is:

American Girl is a premium brand for girls and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT, www.mattel.com), a creations company that inspires the wonder of childhood. Headquartered in Middleton, WI, American Girl offers an inspiring world of dolls, content, and experiences that nourish a girl’s spirit and help develop her strength of character. Best-selling lines include Truly Me™, Girl of the Year™, Bitty Baby™, WellieWishers™, and the classic historical character line BeForever™. The company sells products through its award-winning catalogue, on americangirl.com, in its proprietary U.S. experiential retail stores, and at select specialty retailers nationwide. Outside of the U.S, American Girl products are sold in specialty boutiques at select Indigo™ and Chapters™ in Canada and El Palacio de Hierro locations in Mexico City. By inspiring girls to be their best, American Girl has earned the loyalty of millions and the praise and trust of parents and educators.

If you’re a fan of the American Girls, but have been out of the American Girl loop for awhile, you probably don’t know why I made that reference in the introduction. Let me introduce to you GABRIELA MCBRIDE.

girl-of-the-year

Gabriela is a true talent who gets creative for a cause. She is considered a quiet, creative girl growing up in a family of artists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (exactly why I made that Fresh Prince reference). Her mother is especially passionate about the performing arts. Her mother is founder and director of the arts center Gabriela loves and her dance instructor.

Gabriela is also interested in the performing arts (particularly tap, hip-hop, and ballet) and poetry. Aside from dancing and poetry, Gabriela also helps run a sandwich shop.

Gabriela has a reason she’s so quiet: She struggles with stuttering.

In the first book, Gabriela is said to be “going into the 6th grade”. Still not sure of her age, but she may be the “oldest” Girl of the Year produced.

Gabriela is a true creative talent who uses the power of poetry to help her break down barriers and overcome a personal challenge with stuttering.

Gabriela inherited a love of the arts from her parents, especially her mother, but spoken word poetry is becoming her own passion. Although Gabriela often finds herself in a battle with her own words because of her stuttering, she discovers that her poetry, filled with wit and honesty, helps her speech flow more easily and gives her the confidence to find her voice to help save her beloved community arts center from being torn down.

American Girl Press Release

Despite Gabriela’s struggles, she’s still witty, honest, and courageous!

Her book cover and synopsis are out. Are you ready? {insert drumroll}

gabriela-book-1

Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Yes, believe it. Finally, finally American Girl has released their first African American Girl of the Year character!

After seeing the name Gabriela trademarked, most assumed the character would be of Latin/Hispanic heritage. It turns out it was set aside for an African American character.

Gabriela is set to have a series of FOUR books (yes, four, 4). The first book will be out in January. The next one comes out in March. The other two will be released throughout the rest of the year.

Book synopsis 1: Gabby loves expressing herself — especially in the dance studio — but lately, poetry is becoming her art form of choice, and for good reason: Gabby struggles with stuttering, and spoken word poetry helps her speech flow more freely. Still, compared to how confident she feels on the dance floor, speaking up can be scary. When the city threatens to close her beloved community arts center, Gabby is determined to find a way to help. Can she harness the power of her words and rally her community to save Liberty Arts?

Teresa E. Harris is the author and it is her first time writing for American Girl.

*This will be updated as more information is released.

And now, what all American Girl fans have been waiting for…

The reveal of the doll!

 

melodys-pjs

More items and one of her books will be available Spring 2016.

Gabriela’s doll is really adorable in these pictures, but…

This is where my excitement diminishes. I came to the realization that she’s not just a doll of color. I came to the realization that if I look beyond her color, I have very mixed feelings…

 

Gabriela McBride is considered by many of the American Girl Fan Community to be the LAST GIRL OF THE YEAR.

For those who don’t know, there have been rumors that American Girl plans on ending the Girl of the Year line after Gabriela (possibly to make room for their rumored Contemporary line). I’m not sure how true the rumors are, but it is a FACT that there will be changes to the Girl of the Year line in 2018.

In American Girl’s press release, they stated:

Additional Gabriela products and books will be available starting in spring 2017, and—for the first time—the new Girl of the Year collection will be available for a full 12 months and beyond.

On facebook, American Girl has confirmed that they have plans to release their next girl of the year in 2018. So does this mean Gabriela will be available along with the new Girl of the Year?

American Girl said they don’t have plans to retire the GOTY line, but they’ve been known to hold back from revealing a retirement or archival before.

american-girls-message

 

One part of me is happy that she will last long enough for me to save for her collection.

Another part of me is sad that I may not have a Girl of the Year to look forward to next year. It was sort of an American Girl tradition.

And another part of me is just a bit frustrated with the design of the doll and her collection…

Here…at this moment…I have to analyze this objectively.

This Girl of the Year is really mediocre as a doll in comparison to dolls prior.

Here I am, being the Negative Nancy. Call me a self-hating black woman, a coon, whatever. I’m know I’m going to hear it all. I don’t care. I can’t fully accept her as a “great” Girl of the Year character, not under the current circumstances (with this possibly being the final GOTY doll).

If you’re an American Girl fan, you can probably better understand where I’m coming from. Newcomers may find her to be a great doll addition. And she isn’t garbage, but she has flaws.

I fell in LOVE with Gabriela’s story. I love the fact that she loves poetry and how she uses poetry to overcome her own disability. I think she’s a good role model for girls. I fell in love with this story so hard, even though I haven’t read it all, I want to buy two copies.

However, I have my hang-ups.

First off, this doll is #46 from the Truly Me line. She doesn’t just look like #46. She IS #46.

46

Truly Me #46

I always thought that doll was beautiful. I was sad when she was retired. And I am personally happy to see her return (especially because I don’t collect the Truly Me dolls). But I know plenty of people who said they already have this doll. This means there will be quite a few people who aren’t interested. It always leaves me uneasy when I hear that people don’t want to buy a doll of color. It’s especially bad because Gabriela is the only African American character (in 15 years) to have been produced (or rather “picked”) for the line AND she is supposed to remain in the line through 2018.

Some fans have expressed that American Girl, LLC has put a lot of effort into making the Caucasian American Girls look different and unique, but clearly didn’t do the same for Gabriela. Some feel they didn’t really plan on making an African American character for the line. Some people feel the company rushed production of her because the demand was so high. Basically, they pulled out a retired doll, put clothes on her, gave her a story, and called her Gabriela. Some people feel Gabriela is recycled and doesn’t reflect the same effort the company has put into former Girl of the Year dolls.

I can see their point. Maybe they have given up caring because they wanted the line to come to an end. Maybe they recognized the popularity of #46 and wanted to make her into a character.

Regardless of the reason, this part has been disappointing for most fans.

I don’t have #46, so I feel compelled to get Gabriela, but I wish she was designed in a way that would compel others to want to buy her.

The second problem I have with Gabriela is the fact that she is a DANCER.

I have to be fair about this. I talked about Isabelle being another dancer, I talked about Lea being another tropical princess, so I can’t let this slide.

This Girl of the Year is supposed to last for more than 12 months, she is the ONLY African American character, and you stick her with one of the most unoriginal themes? It doesn’t hurt the story, which incorporates poetry and overcoming disabilities, but it certainly hurts the collection.

Marisol was a tap dancer, ballet dancer, Mexican folk dancer, and jazz dancer. Isabelle danced ballet and modern dance. And now Gabriela! How many dancers does Girl of the Year need?

Because other “dancing” dolls came out, I’m not really interested in the majority of Gabriela’s playsets or accessories.

american-girl-marisol

isabelle-barre-set-hr

What would I need with two ballet barres?

I just can’t get excited AGAIN about another dancer when American Girl has done the theme TWICE before.

I know there are other people out there feeling the same way. And I just don’t like the idea that the first African American character in this line is not unique enough to be a MAJOR sell-out this year.

The final insult is that American Girl has stated on their facebook page that they don’t have major plans to release a movie for her! It takes at least a year to create a movie, so if they haven’t thought of one now, I don’t know if she’s ever getting one!

Still, she’s going to be around in 2018, so only time will tell. But she clearly seems slapped together.

Despite all of that, there are some American Girl fans who are excited about Gabriela. Some are even willing to buy her even though they already have #46! Some people like her dance collection the best out of the three. And some people are new to American Girl and missed collecting the other dance items.

Since Gabriela will be out more than one year, at least none of us have to worry about her selling out within one year. People will have the opportunity to save up for her and have a chance to get her between this year and next year.

That wraps up my review of the new Girl of the Year.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you all think of the new Girl of the Year and my article!

“An American Girl Story-Melody 1963: Love Has To Win” Disappointed This American Girl Fan

29 Dec

melody-movie

I know. This movie was released two months ago in October 2016, and I am just now giving my review on it. I have my reasons.

For those who don’t know, American Girl is a widely popular doll brand that is known for its historical line of dolls and books, contemporary lines of dolls and books, and baby dolls for toddlers. The historical line is the oldest line in the brand. It has been around since the mid-1980s and it continues to impress upon the minds of little girls even to this day. Parents also love the dolls for their educational value.

Prior to Melody’s movie, four other historical American Girl characters have had movie adaptations produced by WB, HBO Films, and New Line Cinema. The original four movies (made for Samantha, Felicity, Molly, and Kit) were full-length, feature films. Melody’s movie and Maryellen’s movie are short films.

I loved the original four movies a lot. They really brought the characters to life. Of course, American Girl no longer has the budget for those kinds of films anymore, especially since they began focusing more on making new dolls (which is good enough for me).

Now, their movies are made by Amazon and are mostly released through Amazon Prime.

Set in Detroit during the Civil Rights Movement, “An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win” examines the joyful life and troubled times of an irrepressible 10-year-old African-American girl whose vivid imagination and creativity reinforce her optimism. When shocking national events threaten her sense of security, Melody must find inner strength to restore her hope for a better world.

Director:

Tina Mabry

Writer:

Alison McDonald

Before I begin, I just want to inform new readers that I’ve always been a HUGE American Girl fan since the 1990s. I love toys and I love history. Combine the two, and you have one of my favorite doll franchises. I also want to remind readers that, as an African American, I am very happy that Melody was released. I loved her book series and the doll with her accessories…Just amazing.

But because I’m an American Girl fan and an African American at the same time, I can honestly say….I couldn’t really LOVE this movie. I don’t hate the movie, I just…don’t love it like I was expecting to.

Go ahead and chew me up. Call me self-hating, coon, liar, whatever. But before you decide to stop reading right here, just read me out.

One of the reasons I took so long to write this review was because I honestly wanted people to decide for themselves what they think of Melody’s movie. It was American Girl’s first movie dedicated to an American Girl doll of ‘color’, and I wanted people to mostly think positively. I didn’t want to shatter any dreams or feelings with my thoughts. I want Melody to be as successful as possible because I hope American Girl will continue to make more dolls of color in the future. I bought the movie on Prime because I wanted to encourage American Girl to make more movies with girls of color in lead roles.

I also waited to write this review because I saw how many people actually liked the movie (mostly people who never read Melody’s book series) and I knew they would just chew me up and spit me out for saying anything negative about this movie.

Last, I just really couldn’t find the right words to express how I was feeling. I tried to love this movie. I tried to force it, just because she was a girl of color and because I related to the message. But the American Girl fan in me just couldn’t attach herself to it.

The only reason I decided to share my opinion was because a fan emailed me and asked me.

*The following article may contain some spoilers.

It’s not that this movie was garbage. Far beyond that. In fact, it had its pros. Let me just run down the list of pros I saw.

PROS

The Message

Out of most of the other American Girl movies, Melody’s movie was one of the few that actually talked about a serious issue. The only other American Girls that presented issues that relate to our modern world were Kit (we were in the midst of the recession at the time) and Chrissa (bullying is still very serious). And Melody’s story was much deeper than all of those stories combined because real events were intertwined in the movie (particularly the Birmingham Church bombing).

Melody’s movie was designed to relate to issues young black children are facing today, and honestly, without the 1960s period outfits and references, I could see her being a girl in 2016/2017.

As an African American, I was happy that African American history was being represented by a movie, an American Girl movie at that. American Girl is a popular brand and it means a lot for such a brand to bring attention to girls of color and their struggle for equality.

The movie downsized the events that happened in the books, making the message clearer.

Marsai Martin

Marsai Martin was the actress that played Melody. She brought a lot of fire to Melody’s character (fire that wasn’t really felt in the books). Marsai is an intelligent and bright child herself, and I think she really shined in the movie. She had all the attitude, strength, and intelligence that I loved and that I feel all girls of color share. She had spunk.

Promotional Value

Melody’s movie has brought a lot of attention to the doll itself. Even though Melody has been out since August, a lot of people didn’t hear about her until after the release of the movie. There were many people on facebook inquiring about Melody after this movie was released. Hopefully, this will help Melody sell better than Black dolls prior. If Melody sells well at the end of this year and in 2017, American Girl may consider making more Black dolls in the future. This will shut the mouths of all the people who claim “black dolls don’t sell”.

Educational Value

The movie was educational for all races. For black children, it helped them connect today’s events to past events. This helps them see history as something that’s interesting and a major part of their modern lives.

Children of other races could learn to understand black people better through this story, through a beloved American Girl character.

CONS

Unfortunately, there were quite a few things that disturbed me about this movie. Please, don’t take offense. It’s just my opinion. I really felt there were things that would’ve made the movie better, but you readers are welcome to disagree.

The Cast

I felt everyone did a pretty good job with their acting. My problem was the lack of key characters from Melody’s stories.

Without Melody’s REAL family (and not that small family in the movie), her life felt empty. In comparison to older American Girl movies, her cast was the most butchered and horribly downsized. This made Melody’s family life seem lonely rather than bustling and close-knit, like in her books.

To add, by getting rid of most of the IMPORTANT characters, they left out potential black actors and actresses. Instead, more than half of the cast was WHITE. Not only was this totally opposite Melody’s story (which could’ve boasted an all-black cast), it was completely disappointing that black people still couldn’t get a chance to shine in this movie. There are few black actors and actresses getting screen time as it is. It’s especially rare in children’s films.

Maybe they added different races because they wanted to relate to more races of people, but I felt that using Melody’s real story would’ve related to more people. Melody’s life was similar to how most people lived in the 1960s and all of those 1960s references would’ve been appealing. Why switch it up so much?

They probably wanted to highlight the racism experienced in the 1960s, which was rightfully highlighted, sure. But I feel that racism was tackled well enough in Melody’s story, from an authentic and realistic perspective, and with mostly black people involved, for them to adapt it.

I’m not saying it’s bad to have white people in the movie, and maybe I should be grateful the lead characters were black. But wouldn’t it have been amazing if most of the cast was black? With Melody’s real family highlighted? Maybe that’s just my opinion.

Lately, it’s all about pushing agendas and less about telling the story.

Yes, I know that in American Girl movies prior, some characters were removed from the story. But the key characters were always present or at least mentioned. The family life could be “felt”. Melody’s family in the movie just didn’t feel like her family.

Characters

This is something that really bothered me. As an American Girl fan, and not just an African American, this bothered me a lot.

NONE, and I mean NONE, of the characters really seemed like they came from Melody’s stories. In fact, they all felt like totally new characters from a completely different story. Even Melody really wasn’t Melody.

In the older American Girl movies, all of the characters had the same personalities and interests as the characters in the books. It truly seemed like they brought the characters to life. The movies just weren’t teaching history; they were also telling a story.

Melody in the movie was NOTHING like the girl I grew to know and love in the books. Some people may have liked her better in the movie, but I didn’t. It’s not that Marsai didn’t do a good job with what she was handed, the problem was what she was handed.

Melody has been described as a sweet and hopeful girl. In the books, she was sweet, thoughtful, and caring. In this story, she seemed feistier. In the movie, she was a bit of a know-it-all. Melody wasn’t really a know-it-all kind of character in the books. I think they combined Melody with her sister Lila (who was in the STEM program in the book series, loved to read, and was super intelligent).

Melody was interested in singing (which they got right), but she also loved gardening. In fact, she was gifted with planting. In the movie, they made her more interested in sewing and space (giving her Maryellen’s interests). Gardening was a key part of her character, more than singing in the church choir, and they completely removed it. This was the first time I hardly recognized an American Girl in her own movie. The only thing “Melody” about the character was her outfits. I guess that’s all the doll company cared about when they allowed this movie to be produced.

Another thing that bothered me was the omission of Melody’s siblings. Having Melody’s siblings would’ve taught kids more about the 1960s. I understand that this was a short film, but somehow, in Maryellen’s short film (a movie for the strawberry blonde character from the 1950s) they managed to bring most of Maryellen’s siblings into her story. Why not in Melody’s? The Baby Boom was still in full swing in the 1960s. It would’ve made sense for Melody to have more siblings.

Dwayne and Yvonne did much more to add to Melody’s life than did Maryellen’s siblings, and yet Melody’s family was omitted.

music-in-the-movie

I felt cheated because I played this “quiz” on Americangirl.com that told me songs from the book would be in the movie. These songs were “written” and “composed” by Melody’s brother in the book series, so I thought he would be in the movie. I didn’t really hear all the songs in the movie, but even if I had, I would’ve been more upset. Dwayne influenced Melody’s music interests so much, it just didn’t feel right to keep him out. He would’ve showed the new generation how black people influenced modern-day music through his affiliations with Motown. He could have represented that part of history that is unknown to the new generation, but a part of history that influences them even today.

Yvonne was a particularly empowering young woman. Her role in the book series was really interesting. First off, she was the first in her family to wear her hair all-natural (an afro). She was a real civil rights activist (not just a participant). She went to college, she risked her life to educate people in the south, and she marched on Washington with thousands of people just to hear Martin Luther King give his most famous speech. I was torn to bits when there wasn’t anyone in the movie to represent her.

Yes, I know American Girl is on a budget. They can’t make their movies too long, with too many people. But I would’ve rather had Yvonne than any of those brats in Melody’s (fake) classroom. Again, how was Maryellen able to get away with having most of her siblings, but Melody’s movie had to succumb to the budget?

Finally, I want to talk about Melody’s mom. I’m happy that she was a hard-working African American woman and that her role revealed the struggle African Americans experienced in the USA. However, I found Melody’s mother to be more empowering and more authentic in the book series than in the movie. In the book series, Melody’s mother wasn’t a struggling seamstress working for racist white people. She was an educated, black teacher, teaching at an all-black school. Melody’s mother graduated from Tuskegee. The movie sort of combined Addy’s mom with Melody’s (maybe to make up for the fact that American Girl, LLC has overlooked Addy as a potential for a good movie all of these years). I was not pleased with this.

I feel that Melody’s mother was over-dramatized in the movie. The book series was more authentic. Maybe it felt more authentic because the panel that worked on the books lived and understood that time period. Maybe it felt more authentic because my own grandmother and her friends had gone to school and became teachers in the 1960s. When I read it in Melody’s stories, I immediately connected with Melody’s mother. But the movie was dramatically trying to show us a racist society. While they did that, they took away Mrs. Ellison’s strengths. Even though the 1960s was a harsh time for African Americans, many were educated by then, many were successful, and many lived comfortably, especially in the North.

I would’ve liked to see Cousin Tish’s salon brought in the movie and I’m still crossing my fingers for the playset in the future.

I also wanted to see Big Momma, one of the most important figures in Melody’s life. She is the one that taught Melody how to sing!

Melody’s friends barely appeared in the movie, and when they did, they were mean little brats. They weren’t supportive like they were in the books.

So much was missing from the movie because the key characters that shaped Melody’s life in the books were not there.

The Story

In the older American Girl movies, the stories were flipped, butchered, and changed around. Scenes were added and scenes were taken out. However, the heart and inspiration was clearly evident. Key important events were not taken out.

For example, Molly’s struggle with her hair was taken out of Molly: An American Girl on the Homefront. However, Molly getting the role as Miss Victory, the most important part of her Changes for Molly book, was in the movie.

There are more examples I could name, but the point is most of the older movies brought the important events from the book series to life.

The new Melody movie was so focused on pushing agendas and highlighting modern-day issues, it failed to actually tell Melody’s stories. Melody was used as a tool to tell an entirely different story unrelated to the released American Girl. And that’s fine. But I watched the movie looking for one of my favorite characters to come to life on screen. I was disappointed when I found I was being introduced to a completely different story with a completely different character in Melody’s wardrobe.

First issue, none of the events in the movie happened in the book. Melody never went to an all-white school in the book series. She attended an all-black school. Her school provided encouragement and support to the students, especially when it came to combating racism. In the books, when the church bombing happened, her teacher talked to the students to console them. Melody’s friends were there for her when she was frightened by the events.

Melody’s reaction to the bombing was different, too. In the movie, she was angry and bold. She posted clippings about events in her all-white school. In the book series, it hit her much deeper. It struck fear in her. It made her afraid to walk in her own church. That felt more realistic, considering she was 9 years old. These different reactions revealed that the two girls were actually TWO DIFFERENT characters. They didn’t react the same to situations, they didn’t have the same personalities. To me, they are two different “Melodys”.

I know the new story relates better to modern black girls. But I feel that they cheated Melody and spent less money on her movie than movies prior. I feel that her stories were butchered the most out of any of the other American Girl characters. And because of that, I don’t feel Melody’s story was really told.

Authenticity and Realism

While some modern day African Americans may find the movie to be more realistic, especially in relation to today’s events and some major occurrences in the past, I found the book series to tackle the Civil Rights Era in a more authentic and realistic fashion overall.

Considering the book series was meant to be told from the perspective of the average 9 year old, living in Detroit in the NORTH during the 1960s, the book series relates more to the real African American story. In the book series, there were many cases of racism in stores, when trying to buy property, or when trying to fix up black neighborhoods. But most black people lived in all-black neighborhoods in nice brick houses. Most children attended all-black schools. Most black families were close-knit. Families were large because of the Baby Boom. The book series had a naturalness to it that felt more authentic.

The movie was definitely what happens when “Hollywood” gets hold of something. With Hollywood taking hold of Melody’s story, everything became more dramatic. Racism and oppression became key themes, but strength, optimism, community, and hope were not added as themes as they were in the books. Especially not the community involvement.

I wish that theme had been brought out because I don’t feel enough African Americans are encouraged to get involved in their own communities. Some have given up hope that they can do anything to make a difference. I really hoped that there would be emphasis on community involvement and I was let down there.

Maybe these things don’t bother most viewers and American Girl fans, and I wouldn’t say it made me hate the movie. But I definitely felt disappointed and didn’t really have the same overwhelming happy feeling so many other people had after watching it. It was decent for a kids’ movie, but it just didn’t live up to former American Girl movies.

After this, I barely wanted to watch Maryellen’s movie. I was afraid it would also be butchered, and if it wasn’t, I would be mad that Maryellen’s movie was closer to her true series and Melody’s wasn’t. So far, I’m not a fan of the move to Amazon Prime. The movies are short, I don’t like paying for Prime just to watch these movies, and I would rather have a hard copy, like I did with other American Girl movies.

Anyway, sorry to be negative about this. I still love Melody and I still support American Girl bringing attention to dolls of color in the future. I’m just not a huge fan of this movie. I don’t think this movie really catered to the fan base and mostly catered to newcomers to the brand.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the movie. Do you think I’m being too petty about it? I am one of those people that can’t read the book series and fully enjoy loose adaptations. XD Do you agree with me? Are there any points you appreciated about the movie? Anything you disliked? Please share.

If you haven’t read the books and don’t plan on reading them, I think this movie would be good to watch. If you’ve already read Melody’s series, tread with caution and remember that this movie is a pretty loose adaptation.

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