Tag Archives: toys

7 Dolls I Played With As A Kid That Shaped My Life As An Adult

23 Oct

Greetings Gen Next readers!

People often say that dolls can influence the children playing with them. As a huge doll enthusiast, I can agree with this to a certain extent. It’s amazing how a plastic item can make such an impact on a child. I’ve had dolls that really shaped my view of the world and I’ve seen dolls shape other children around me.

With that being said, I understand why parents, particularly mothers, are so concerned with how dolls influence or shape the lives of their children.

However, I can honestly say that kids view things from a different perspective than adults. While mothers might think a doll brand will influence their child in one way, the child may pick up a completely different message depending on the other surrounding things going on in their lives.

I can honestly say that has been the case for me. Growing up in the 1990s and early 2K, we didn’t have the technology these little kiddies have. We had TOYS! And in the 1990s, toy aisles had anything a kid could ever want to play with. They were filled to the brim.

My parents encouraged me to play at a young age. I was a shy anti-social kid who didn’t like playing too much with the neighbor’s kids. Toys were my escape. My mother, along with other family members, always tried to find the best toys for me. My family always considered how each toy would impact my life, but they never knew exactly how that would occur.

Toys became an integral part of my life. Being raised a girl, my parents and grandparents always saw it fitting for me to play with dolls. Early on, my mother encouraged me to be feminine. She would encourage me to play with the most pro-girl and pro-feminine dolls she could find. She was that way. Little did she know I would grow into a tomboy who loves androgynous fashion!

My other family members, like my grandparents, also tried to find dolls that instilled values.

With my family members encouraging me to play, you can imagine I had a lot of toys, especially dolls, growing up.

Still, you might be wondering, “How did those dolls influence you to the point they impacted or shaped your life right now, as an adult?” Well, let me run down SEVEN dolls I played with as a child that shaped my life today as an adult. When I mention how they influenced me, you might understand more…

I will do a countdown style.

If you hate reading, skip down…Skip

 

7. Kenya

Created by Tyco, Kenya was a doll that promoted the beauty of African American girls’ hair. Her slogan was literally “the beautiful hairstyling doll”. You could style her hair just like you do yours African American girls!

This was probably one of the first pro-black dolls I saw on TV. Seriously, all of the dolls that came out of the Kenya brand were images of black girls.

When I first saw Kenya in the commercials, the thing that stood out to me, as a kid, was how her hair could be styled to look just like mine. To me, she looked like my vision of a “real girl”. A “real girl”, in my mind, was someone who looked like me! It’s kind of how I feel about American Girl’s Melody now. Kenya was the “Melody” of the 1990s. She was more of a modern girl that encouraged me to love myself. And I could feel that message as a kid. She was actually one of the first black dolls I was exposed to and I loved that doll. I played with her everyday. I even tried to draw my own tattoos on her…Which didn’t turn out too good, but at least she was loved.

I think having a doll like Kenya did something to me. For starters, It exposed me to the country of Kenya. In school, when we were studying countries, I never forgot about the country of Kenya because the Kenya doll had the same name. Every time the teacher would ask us to name one country in Africa, I would always remember Kenya. And I still remember that country to this day. I paid a lot of attention to that lesson and now I know so much about the country.

Then, Kenya helped me love being black with thick hair and made me desire more black dolls. I think after seeing Kenya, the generic white Barbie wasn’t satisfying enough. I began looking for more diverse brands with dolls that looked like me. Kenya made me aware of the underrepresentation present in the media because I couldn’t find any other dolls like Kenya. I always wanted to braid my dolls’ hair and put beads in my dolls’ hair. There were few dolls that offered that.

Seeing Kenya take that spotlight helped me see the beauty in being African American. I think that’s why I push for representation and equality to this day.

The only thing I never loved about this doll was the commercial. It was basic and cheesy then, and it still is. XD

I heard Kenya made a comeback some time in 2012. She came with more modern clothes and more diverse skin tones. I heard she even came with a 12″ Barbie looking type. Kenya is still making waves with trying to push representation…

 

6. Global Friends

I’m sure most of you guys know nothing about this 18″ doll brand. It didn’t even come with a commercial or anything fancy (though they had a website back in the 1990s, which was a big deal back then, but I didn’t have a very good computer in the 1990s and the internet was dial-up). If you grew up in the 1990s, maybe you got one of their catalogues.

Created by the company of the same name, Global Friends Company, inc, it spawned a brand of around 12 to 13 dolls, all from different parts of the world. Their collections and accessories centered on their cultures and their friendship through the Global Friends pen pal service set up online. At that time, the computer was just becoming a household item, and the internet was the newest advancement. With the internet age, people were able to connect with other people from all over the world. I remember when I was in 4th grade, I got my first online pen pal. She came from a different world. That was so amazing to me at the time.

This brand was trying to encourage girls to connect with girls of different cultures and backgrounds. It was a brand trying to expand the minds of girls.

Like the other 18″ dolls of that time, they were apart of the “18”” doll trend (though they were technically around 14″), meant to look like real girls, and were sold only by “mail order catalogues”. That was the allure of these dolls. They were exclusive and expensive, yet educational and wholesome.

Unfortunately, I never got to buy a Global Friends doll until I was an adult. However, I always got their catalogues in the mail and would flip through them for hours.

Though the dolls may have highlighted mostly stereotypical forms of girls from around the world, they were the first dolls that got me interested in other cultures and traveling. The dolls looked so pretty to me and the outfits were bursting with color. The diversity was fulfilling. It filled my eyes up like I-candy.

Basically, these dolls at least exposed me or became a gateway to the world. The one thing I remember most about the dolls was their “greeting” printed next to them in the magazine. I literally learned how to say greetings in many different languages because of this brand. Gretchen from Germany was first, so I always remembered “Guten Tag” (which means “Good Day”). I always remembered “Jambo”, “Ni Hao”, “Oi”, “Ahllan”, “Dobree Dyen”, Bonjour”, “Konnichiwa”, among others! I may not have learned how to properly pronounce these greetings, but I learned OF them. It was an introductory exposure to other cultures. And it worked!

The brand expanded my worldview and got me thinking about how other people live outside of my existence. I think ever since I got into these dolls, I developed a desire to travel and meet people from so many different backgrounds. I still have that desire, and I want to take the greetings I learned with me.

 

5. Amazing Amy

Amazing Amy, the interactive doll by Playmates Toys, Inc, with over 10,000 phrases. This company had a lot of interactive dolls come out of it in the 1990s and early 2K era.

And oh no, I can’t forget about Amy. I still have the commercial jingle lodged in my head, “Amazing Amy! How does she know?” And she responds, “I just know!”

Of all the dolls I grew up with, this doll actually had quite a negative impact on me.

Maybe most of us have had a negative fear of dolls before, right? Especially fearing dolls that talk. I know people who have doll phobias. I’ve never really hated dolls neither have I been scared of them. Toy Story might have scared my friends, but it didn’t scare me…

But then came Amazing Amy.

Amazing Amy was battery-powered and mechanical, which was becoming a thing at the turn of the 21st Century. She had her own clock, which could be set to the player’s specifications. She came with lots of accessories. She was blonde and wore pink. I was told she had a black version, but I knew about the blonde one from the commercials.

Quite frankly, I’m glad I didn’t get the black doll. If any doll wanted to influence me to form self-hate tendencies, it would’ve been the black Amazing Amy.

This doll…was the most annoying piece of plastic ever to come into my life.

I first saw her in a commercial and thought it would be cool to have this cute doll that could talk to me. I thought it was appealing to be able to take care of my own daughter. Appealing…So I thought.

Amazing Amy came with some pretty cool accessories, too. She had a toothbrush, a partly chewed popsicle, a bottle of milk, hot dog, juice, pizza, a banana, a cookie, and a plate of disgusting-looking “mashed food”. She liked to play “Simon Says”, “Feed Me Something”, and her “Squeeze Games”, too. She had a dress, diaper, and pajamas.

Oh yes, Amazing Amy was going to be my daughter. It didn’t matter to me that she was white and blonde in comparison to her black mother. I was excited to have my very own daughter.

So how did this cute and interactive doll shape my life negatively?

Maybe it’s not all negative to everybody, but…I believe Amazing Amy is the reason I resolved in my heart, at a young age, that I never wanted kids. To this day, I not only take motherhood seriously but I have no desire to have a baby too soon. On the plus side, I think that’s why I avoided teen pregnancy.

When I got this doll at 8 years old, I was not ready to take care of a baby. Having Amy around and turned on was like taking care of a baby. Once you set her clock in the middle of her body and turned her on, her slogan took full effect: “She knows what she wants and how to ask for it!” At first, I enjoyed taking care of her needs and feeding her. Her sensors would glitch, which would be annoying, but overall I enjoyed giving her what she wanted.

Well, one night, I forgot to turn Amazing Amy off. All night, Amy kept asking for food, to play a game, to get her hair brushed. I was knocked out sleep. Well, Amy cried. She cried so loudly, it sounded like an alarm clock piercing through the night. She woke me up at 4:00 AM so that I could change her diaper, feed her, and play games with her. Then she glitched, so she started crying AGAIN! When I turned her around to turn her off, the button was stuck on “ON”! I tried taking out her batteries, but it was hard for my little hands to get the back open. So, she cried.

Eventually, frustrated, I snuck in the kitchen, picked out a fork, and pried out her batteries. Once those batteries were out, I never put them back in again.

The next day, I was so tired I couldn’t stay awake at school. My mother asked me why I was so tired. When I told her Amazing Amy kept me up all night crying, my mother laughed and said, “Imagine a real baby! But with your own, you can’t just take the batteries out!” That statement stuck with me.

So, now, every time I even think of having a kid, I think about how hard it was for me (at the time) to take care of that annoying, expensive little doll. Now, that I’m older, I’m wiser, but I still understand that taking care of a child is no glamorous or easy task. Amazing Amy definitely taught me that at a young age. Whenever my friends would say they wished they had a baby sister or a baby, my mind would flash back to this doll.

In some ways, I’m glad it taught me to take parenthood seriously. But when I’m interacting with others who really want children, I might not sound the most positive.

 

4. Barbie

Barbie has impacted thousands of girls the world over, including this girl.

Barbie is the world’s #1 fashion doll. Created by Ruth Handler while on vacation in Germany, and produced by the company Mattel, her husband’s company, Barbie was meant to be a challenge to the Baby doll industry and a response to the growing love of adult paper dolls. Ruth Handler wanted to create an actual plastic figure of famous comic and paper doll characters because she noticed her daughter preferred them to the baby dolls.

At the core, Barbie was meant to be a doll young girls could admire and dream of being one day. She fit the American ideal: white, blonde, beautiful, stylish, wealthy, glamorous, and forever young.

I grew up with her in the 1990s when she’d already had a huge empire and had expanded beyond the fashion world. Barbie could do and be anything by the 1990s! That’s the vision they sold us.

This blonde adult figure inspired a lot of playtime out of me growing up. I would always pretend she was my mother. She reminded me a lot of her. My doll was white and my mother was black, but they both were stylish, career-oriented, and could do things I couldn’t at my age.

Interestingly enough, Barbie’s fashion sense never appealed to me. I didn’t like her for her fashion. I liked her for all of the mini items she came with. For example, my Teacher Barbie came with a chalkboard, mini chalk, and desks. I always thought it was cool how I could create my own classroom in a mini-sized version.

So how did Barbie come to influence who I am today? How did she influence a messy tomboy like me?

It might shock you, but Barbie ushered me into the technology age. Yeah. She also expanded my interest in dolls. I have to give her credit for this.

When we first got a computer in my home, one of the first websites I knew about was Barbie.com from commercials. I can’t find that commercial anymore.

The jingle went like, “What can you be there, what can you see there? Now you can be there, uh-huh…” Something like that.

Anyway, Barbie encouraged me to navigate the internet. It was the first website for dolls I’d ever heard of.

Barbie also introduced me into video games. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I had always watched my young uncles and cousins play video games, but I didn’t have a system or games of my own. My mother and grandmothers didn’t think it was a suitable toy for “girls”. I would try to play games like Mortal Combat and NBA Sports at Arcades or at restaurants or laundromats.

But when I first got my playstation, the first game I played was Barbie Race and Ride. By playing this game, I learned the mechanics of the playstation system. Eventually, I moved on to more advanced games from there. I loved Crash Bandicoot and Spyro games, Tekken and Street Fighter, and eventually RPG games like Kingdom Hearts. It was because of Barbie that I fell in love with video gaming. I still love video games to this day.

I also used to play Barbie Super Sports (which was a little more challenging than Race and Ride) and Detective Barbie. The most fun Barbie video game I played was a PC/CD-Rom game called Secret Agent Barbie. That was my first PC game. I wish I could still play that game. It’s not compatible with anything nowadays.

In all honesty, Barbie made me into a gamer girl!

Barbie also got me interested in diverse and unique dolls. A lot of dolls have claimed to have been the first major diverse dolls out there, but Barbie has always had sister and spin-off brands that focused on a group of diverse dolls. Generation Girl was about 8 best friends from different backgrounds and cultures who attend International High. Diva Starz was also a diverse brand, and probably the first I saw with the big head and big feet design. Polly Pocket was innovative. Myscene was stylish and mature. Even to this day, Barbie’s sister brands Monster High and Ever After High continue to produce diversity. Going to Barbie’s website, I was able to get in touch with the other lovable brands.

Barbie’s mini world inspired me to look for more out of my collections. She pretty much set the bar for how far a doll line could expand. Barbie has had it all. I can only be impressed by how much this doll brand has accomplished for over 50 years. It’s amazing. The appeal of Barbie was that I could be in a lavish mini world I wouldn’t naturally be able to afford in real life. I could be anything when I had Barbie.

Barbie developed my interest in building a career, believe it or not. I always had working women around me. I didn’t have the privilege of a stay-at-home mom. My mother had to work. Barbie made that seem okay for me. Through Barbie, I could always pretend she was in a career. She had so many career options in the 1990s. I believe she inspired my ambitious nature.

Barbie may have had an influence on me, but she didn’t turn me into a materialistic and superficial broad. She may have done that to some kids, but not me.

Little did I know I would take this influence and drive it towards a rival brand…

 

3. Magic Attic Club

Oh, The Magic Attic Club. This club was like the Babysitters Club of the 1990s, only it dealt with magic and younger girls. But it was the club every girl wanted to be in. Magic Attic Club inspired me in many ways but also taught me valuable lessons. Let me explain.

Magic Attic Club was following that “18” doll” format. They were sold by mail order catalogue, were expensive, and exclusive. They were cheaper than American Girl though. Unlike American Girl, Magic Attic Club was a modern and more fantastical line. They came with a series of books that followed the characters’ adventures through a magic mirror that would allow the characters to explore their imagination. The adventures they would go on would also teach them how to deal with their everyday life (though the things they go through might seem minor).

Magic Attic Club dolls passed through the hands of many companies before retirement. They were first sold by Georgetown. They filled the gap American Girl didn’t fill at the time: They produced modern girls (while American Girl still primarily sold historical dolls). Eventually, Magic Attic Club went to Knickerbocker and last Marian (which was a company created by actress Marie Osmond and her husband Brian).

Magic Attic Club influenced my life in five ways.

First, Magic Attic Club got me interested in the fantasy genre. Magic Attic Club was able to be and do anything, at 10 years old. I was always excited about whatever adventure they would go on. And the outfits they came with! They were just bursting with color and luxury!

I think the mystery behind the Magic mirror was so intriguing that I longed for that mystery in other genres. To this day, my interest in the fantasy genre has expanded. I enjoy Harry Potter, Circle of Magic, Jewel Princesses…I got into a lot.

Second, Magic Attic Club made me realize indigenous people still EXIST, not as a foreigner but in my own country. Yes, I was an ignorant little child back then. I used to see indigenous groups as groups belonging to the past. I didn’t realize that there were still people from these groups, even little girls like me, living modern lives while trying to hold on to their ancestry. Rose Hopkins, the Cheyenne girl in the Magic Attic Club, taught me that. To this day, there are still very few doll lines that have a modern doll representing the indigenous groups of people. Ever since I was introduced to Rose, I have felt she was a rare gem, and I have looked for that kind of representation in every doll line. Rose is also one of the most gorgeous dolls in the brand.

Global Friends also had an indigenous doll, but at the time, it didn’t dawn on me that the character was “American”. Unfortunately.

Third, Magic Attic Club taught me to shut my mouth and stick with real friends. When I was younger, about 8 years old, that was the one time in my life I wanted to fit in with the other girls. I had so many popular girls in my class. They were kind of mean and stuck up to some of my friends. I used to be like a loser or an outcast because I would hang out with the underdogs.

But one day, I had been talking about the Magic Attic Club. All the “cool” girls liked Magic Attic Club because of how exclusive and pretty the dolls were. These girls found out I loved Magic Attic Club, knew a lot about the dolls, and let me be apart of their clique because of it. Me, being a fan of Magic Attic Club, would share fan info with these girls, insider knowledge. At that time, they were giving me some attention, and I liked it.

Eventually though, that died down. They started cooling off from me. I guess all they had in common with me were these dolls. So what did I do? I came up with the biggest and stupidest lie. I told them that my grandmother works for the company that makes Magic Attic Club dolls and that she could get them dolls for free.

After that, the girls came back around me.

But see, I had to keep up with this lie. The girls kept pressuring me and asking when they would get their free dolls. I had to keep pushing back the date to make it believable. Eventually, one of the lead girls got suspicious. She came up to me and said, “I don’t believe your grandma works for the company.” I tried to defend my lie. And I managed to defend this lie up until I was 10. I finally confessed that my grandmother didn’t work for Magic Attic Club and that my grandmother just happened to buy me two dolls and books. Obviously, this made me the bum of my elementary school days. I deserved it.

On the other hand, my real friends stayed by me and liked me for who I was. From that Magic Attic Club encounter, I learned that you can’t buy friendship and I learned to shut my mouth. If I can’t speak truth, I don’t need to speak. I learned not to lie about who I am.

The fourth way Magic Attic Club had an impact on me was it actually got me interested in doll fashion. The one thing Magic Attic Club had over all the other 18″ dolls of the time was they were girls my age that wore trendy and modern clothes. They were the first dolls that got me interested in the fashion aspect of doll brands. Beforehand, I just liked the stuff dolls came with. Magic Attic Club had an array of different outfits and clothes, but they were also on trend in my eyes. Barbie was fashionable, but she was an adult. The MAC were wearing clothes I could wear and WANTED to wear. My interest in their fashion expanded my interest in fashion dolls in general (even though they weren’t fashion dolls!).

Last, Magic Attic Club has influenced my summers. Magic Attic Club always reminded me of summers spent with my great-grandmother (who I would visit every summer). When I was younger, I couldn’t afford all of the Magic Attic Club books. However, during the summer, my great-grandmother would take me to the library and I could find all of the MAC books! I would check them all out. The librarian knew which books I would get every summer. Eventually, this turned into a tradition. Every summer, even up into high school, I would check out the Magic Attic Club books and read them.

Eventually, the library closed. I also couldn’t spend as much time with my grandmother. But I managed to buy all of the ones in print (still looking for Jane in a Land of Enchantment). I still read them every summer. Summer doesn’t begin for me unless I read these books. Having the dolls also remind me of those lovely summers.

Overall, the Magic Attic Club dolls have had a profound impact on my life.

 

2. American Girl Dolls

The American Girl dolls come from a brand focused on educating and inspiring girls through play. They come with a line of historical characters and modern characters fleshed out through dolls, accessories, and books. Through storytime, their characters help girls face the real world around them. Honestly, of all the 18″ dolls, American Girl was the first to do this and has always been the most effective at this.

American Girl was originally produced by Pleasant Rowland through Pleasant Company. It was designed to combat Barbie’s influence as an adult figure and bring back dolls that looked more like girls. It also bounced off the popularity of the Little House on the Prairie, which had been popular decades prior due to the TV series. The dolls were meant to help connect girls today with girls of the past, to bridge generations of girlhood, tell history from the female perspective, and inspire future leaders.

Ironically, Barbie’s parent company, Mattel, ended up buying American Girl. American Girl continues to educate and inspire girls.

This company definitely inspired me. I got into American Girl in 1995 with the books I would get from my school library. I received my first American Girl doll in 1997. At that time, the modern girls were just becoming a thing.

American Girl influenced me tremendously. First, this doll brand inspired my love of history. It was the gateway to learning the important events in my country. And as they say, if you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I think American Girl encouraged me to appreciate the place I live and even to appreciate the histories of other countries! American Girl made history come alive for me, and made history fun and appealing. In school, I always got As on my history tests. I would win history bees and competitions. American Girl didn’t have all the answers, but they were the only books telling history from an everyday perspective, not from one of those glamorized and over-dramatic perspectives. They would go over things about history I honestly never heard of, like what foods people ate and what clothes they wore. I literally got interested in how people live.

American Girl is the reason I have the job and career I have NOW. I was inspired to get into education. I was inspired to build up my own community of African American children and help them value education. Addy was my first American Girl and she made slavery and reconstruction even more real for me. I’ll never forget when she got her freedom and she still had to build her life. It wasn’t a walk in the park. The books were so real for me, not cheesy at all.

I currently work with black children and I try to get them into their own roots and history. I try to inspire them the way American Girl inspired me. I wanted to give back. American Girl showed me the importance of doing that.

American Girl instilled some really strong morals and character traits in me. I think the brand helped me develop courage, a spirit of adventure, open-mindedness, kindness, compassion, sacrifice, strength, and determination. Whenever I thought my life was hard, I would think about girls who came before me who had it harder. I try to live up to these qualities everyday. I think American Girl helped me see the importance of developing these qualities early in my life.

Having the dolls really made history real for me. I could pretend to be from a different time and place, a different race or culture, and through that playtime, I learned to understand people and I learned to understand life. I’ve learned how to cook foods and prepare them in ways different from my own. I’ve learned to study the way people dress and live. I’ve learned to melt my own prejudices when seeing someone different.

I definitely learned to transcend myself. Perhaps my favorite non-black characters are Kaya, Kit, Molly, and it doesn’t feel like American girl without Felicity. I’m still into the brand and have loved newer dolls like Melody and Julie. I do hope to have a 1920s character soon as well. That’s on my American Girl wishlist. Through these characters, I feel like I’ve lived several lives…

I feel like I’m recording a brand ad or something right now…

American Girl also helped me connect with my elders. By learning about times in the past, I knew about some things my grandmother and great-grandmother enjoyed. My great-grandmother always felt she could talk to me because when she did, I knew what she was talking about and showed interest. It helped me bond with my family. I was able to appreciate doing things with my grandparents and my mother, things a normal child wouldn’t find interest in. I think it helped me respect women of all ages and what they have done for me.

American Girl showed me that women can be strong leaders, and I take the lessons from the brand with me into my adulthood.

 

1. Bratz

Bratz is a brand of cutting-edge and fashion-forward dolls that arrived shortly after the 21st Century began. These dolls were meant to make the beginning of a new century, and they did that for me.

Just when I was losing interest in playing with dolls and was growing into a tween collector, out came the Bratz.

The Bratz were created by designer Carter Bryant (freelance designer on break from company Mattel) and produced by MGA Entertainment.

I got into the Bratz late 2000 when the website was under construction. Most of my followers know the story. I was actually looking for new dolls to get into. Something interesting. I had been looking for a particular doll when I accidently typed in Bratz. When I pressed the link and saw the website under construction, I thought it was going to be some kind of fashion cartoon (which I felt would’ve been awesome).

A few months later, the first Bratz commercial hit the scene and I was a different girl. The rest was history.

You might be wondering, “How can a line of fashion dolls top a girl-empowering line like American Girl?” I didn’t think that could happen either.

At the time I got into Bratz, I was what most people considered “too old” for dolls, especially during the surge of popularity Bratz received in 2004. I was a teenager by then.

The first thing Bratz taught me was that you’re never too old to like dolls. Bratz was set to target girls like me. I soon realized that. When I first heard Bratz was meant to target girls my age, I was shocked and excited. I knew that something different was brewing in the toy industry.

Bratz truly made me a COLLECTOR. I loved dolls before, but the clothing, items, and edge was so inspiring, I actually saved my money and bought even the hardest to find dolls if I could find them. Some items you couldn’t get anywhere.

Bratz exposed me to the toy industry in general. I’m not talking about as a toy but as a business. Bratz was on the rise during the computer age. MGA was one of the only doll companies FULLY open to suggestions back then. I remember I would email Mattel ideas of mine and would get one of those automated responses. I only got one real response and it was pretty rude.

MGA always responded in a very thoughtful and engaging way. And the things I asked for at my age…They delivered! I think after I heard Bratz was releasing a CD in Japan in 2003, I asked for MGA to get a CD created for worldwide release. Shortly after, Bratz’s “Who We Are” and “Bratz Rock Angelz” was released. When Bratz had a show released in Japan to tie in with the CD, I asked for the Bratz movies and shows and got it shortly after! I wouldn’t say my emails made a difference, but by seeing the results, it made me feel like my opinions mattered.

I realized my own fan power in shaping the success of my favorite brand and I brought this fandom power into many other fandoms.

I also realized harsh truths about the doll industry through the Bratz. I think the Bratz business is the only one I’ve followed closely. I’ve seen how a doll line could rival another doll line in sales. I saw how that impacted the direction of toy brands. All of this at age 11 to 17.

I began to see the difference in companies. When I was a kid, companies didn’t matter. I didn’t know Amazing Amy, American girl, and Barbie were even from different companies. They were just toys.

After getting into Bratz, I realized the difference.

I learned the legal system that works around toys as well, especially seeing the legal issues surrounding Carter Bryant, MGA, and Mattel. I learned that just because you created something doesn’t always mean you are allowed to have full rights over the product. That whole situation made me “business-smart”.

Bratz has taught me so many valuable lessons about toys in general.

While American girl inspired the career I’m in now, Bratz is inspiring my future goals. Everytime I see a Bratz doll, I feel inspired to get creative. The amount of detail and coolness that goes into Bratz draws out a lot of ideas in my mind.

Bratz has even inspired my sense of fashion and developed my social identity. I think I told followers that I was raised in a very super-feminine home. It was so suffocating, I couldn’t slouch, spill messes, or accidentally ruffle an ounce of my attire. I used to hate fashion and femininity because of how I was raised.

When I first saw the Bratz, and this may not be anyone else’s experience, I saw girls in baggy pants, beanies, bandanas, and sneakers. The dolls were wearing a diverse range of styles. They didn’t fit into one feminine box. Sure, some wore skirts. But they could throw on a denim jacket and sneakers in a heartbeat. That had an impression on me. I finally felt I found a doll brand that represented someone like me.

Later on, Bratz tried many outrageous styles, which helped me explore all possibilities in fashion and even other forms of art! I had developed an interest in cutting edge and avant-garde fashion. I really began taking a liking to androgynous fashion. As a youth, the Bratz produced an image that encouraged me to be my individual self. They helped me explore my identity.

Bratz has developed me into an adult that is willing to take risks, stand in my truth, and explore my options. I believe these were the last dolls that truly inspired me. Bratz has changed my whole world vision.

Bratz set the bar for this century. For all new dolls, I’m looking for a spirit of individuality, style, and innovation. I take that attitude with anything I do.

That’s my list of dolls that have had an impact on who I am today! Leave me a comment and let me know of any dolls or other toys that influenced you in your youth! What do you think of my list? Let’s get the discussion rolling!

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!

 

#Bratz 2018: What I Want to See Back and What I Don’t

8 Jul

Yasmin snapped! Let’s hope the doll is as beautiful as the art…

 

Greetings GenNext readers!

I am excited that Bratz are coming back this Fall! WOO! It’s really happening. We’ve been getting a few teasers on instagram that confirm it’s really happening. And of course, I have a few surprises up my sleeve to support the Bratz dolls’ return!

Ever since I started that 2018 article regarding Isaac Larian announcing the Bratz dolls’ return, I’ve been really thinking about the Bratz dolls’ career over the last 17 years. I’ve been reviewing pictures, my dolls, Bratz music, and even press interviews and such, just walking down memory lane. There was a lot about Bratz that just blew me away within that time!

I believe I’ve told people on my Bratz Quiz (How Well Do You Know the Bratz?) article a few years back that I’ve been into the Bratz since the website was under construction late 2000, early 2001-ish. So, I’ve seen a lot come out of the Bratz. I was among those in the target demographic back during the Bratz’s debut, and I’m so glad that I was able to support Bratz for so many years.

There’s a lot that I really loved about Bratz, and of course, I want to see it come back in 2018. So far, I’ve mostly heard good news (like Hayden Williams, a fan favorite designer and illustrator, at least designed one of the Bratz’s lines).

Hayden Williams illustrations

Isn’t Hayden Williams amazing? I can’t wait!

Still, there were a lot of things that bothered me, too.

While there’s a lot of things in more recent years that disappointed me (Bratz 2015 to be exact), there were some things during Bratz 2k that I don’t want to see anymore, either. That’s right. You read right. Let me repeat. There were some things that occurred from 2001 to 2009 that I don’t want to see AGAIN.

Let me break down my “Dos” and “Don’ts” for the Bratz 2018. Many of you might not agree with them, but I’m still going to say it.

If you don’t like reading, skip down and listen to my videos: Skip

I told ya’ll in my last article why I didn’t want to do an article on Bratz too soon. I don’t want to come across negative. XD

DOs

 

Passion for Fashion

Okay, we all know the Bratz girls were developed with other interests. But let’s be real, we love the Bratz because they have a passion for fashion! The dolls showcased bold and fashion-forward style and that’s what I want to see return.

I don’t care what the radical feminists and soccer moms say about them wearing too much makeup. I say BRING IT! I don’t care if they slut-shame them. I say BRING IT!

Though we know designer Hayden Williams is going to deliver that “Passion for Fashion” for an exclusive line, we don’t know how the other Bratz lines are going to turn out.

What I hope to see is Bratz’s urban 2001 sass and design combined with their avant-garde punk attitude. There can’t be one without the other. Bratz should bring a little bit of both.

Four Core Girls and Two Core Boys

I understand why people made a stink about MGA adding Raya as the “fifth core girl” in 2015. After all, it was the original four that made the Bratz brand. Raya was also another blonde character, uninteresting, and just not necessary.

Still, I find it ironic that the same people that hated Raya being added as a core girl keep asking for Meygan and Dana to come back along with the core four. So why even be mad about Raya when Raya was not the first character to be the “fifth” core girl? MGA has been adding “fifth” core girls since Meygan was released in 2002 and Dana released in 2003.

For me, I wasn’t having it then, and I’m not having it now. Stick to the core four. There’s just enough dolls to express solid fashion passion. Too many characters drown out the individuality.

It’s okay to add these girls in there sometimes, but overall, the core girls (and boys) should be the main focus. And they should be in almost EVERY line. The CORE characters should not be replaced by other dolls (which in Raya’s case, at least she wasn’t a replacement, like Meygan and Dana have been in many of the Bratz lines).

I also want to see Dylan return. While it was cute that MGA announced CAMERON on instagram, where’s Dylan? He was one of the few boys of color in the Bratz Boyz line. He NEEDS to come back. They better not think of having a comeback without Dylan.

All the other side characters should be an afterthought.

Bratz Music

You can say what you want about anything else regarding the Bratz dolls, but you can’t deny their albums were filled with BOPS.

I was just going back through their music the other day. From Rock Angelz to Forever Diamondz, they had some cuts. I’m not ashamed. I dance to their music at home, in the car, on the street. I’m ready for it.

This is the one thing they didn’t mess up in 2015. Skylar Stecker did a pretty good job with the theme song “What’s Up?”

Still, I hope they can get Universal back on board for the project. The music sounded polished. All they need are some decent songwriters, and we’re good to go.

A Good TV/Netflix series

Whether it’s live action (like what MGA’s Project MC2 has), Stop Motion (like what they had in Japan in ’03, not Stoopid Studios’s garbage), or CGI animation like what the Bratz had before from 2005-2008, it should be well-written, engaging, and should promote the Bratz characters’ individual charms and styles (unlike the TV series, some of the movies, and the live action movie back in the day, which I’ll talk about later…).

I have a good script going actually, if anybody is interested in picking it up. It’s juicy, and follows the Bratz’s “actual” life. Basically, it’s focused on the “real” story behind the Bratz dolls’ life and career. I aim to make it sophisticated enough for the target demographic (which should be 10 to 14, as it was once before), and fun enough for everyone.

But even if no one is biting for my TV/Netflix script, I really think a future series that highlights all of the characters’ strengths and weaknesses, focuses on things real tweens and teens experience, and has a little drama and adventure would be nice.

Jade’s Original Personality

This is the only thing the 2015 Bratz stop-motion series got right. They brought back Jade’s “extreme” personality traits. In 2001, Bratz dolls weren’t extremely developed back then. We learned a little about them from their profiles about their fashion sense and from the main website, where fans could get a glimpse inside the Bratz girls’ rooms.

Many Bratz fans who got into the fandom in 2002 and beyond didn’t know about the Bratz rooms set up on the main website because the website was changed as soon as Meygan was released. In Jade’s room, she had a skateboard and green alien. This was a sign that Jade was supposed to be a sporty character. You can even look at the 1st Edition Bratz and gather that she’s pretty sporty.

For some reason, those personality traits were given to Cloe in the movie and TV show adaptations. To me, it just didn’t fit Cloe’s “ethereal and angelic” image. Those qualities were clearly meant for Jade. However, because Jade’s personality was considered more empowering, maybe writers thought it would be better to give the BLONDE girl those traits (instead of Cloe’s “head always being in the clouds”, which would’ve made her fit stereotypes).

Or those involved with writing for the Bratz didn’t do enough research.

Though I’m glad Jade maintained her edgy fashion sense in the movies and TV show,  and I like that she had that “geek chic” thing going on in some of these adaptations, I don’t feel that any of the writers, producers, and directors really knew about Jade’s characterization throughout her entire doll career. I really liked that she was developed as both smart and sporty. Why can’t she be both?

I’m hoping that MGA returns Jade back to her original self.

Bratz Video Games

I loved the Bratz video games for the Playstation 2 and I hope there are games released on the PS4 and Xbox One. Those games were entertaining for me. I also think it helped more girls get into video games. This time, though, I hope the UnReal Engine is used for future games. It would be awesome!

Make the Characters SINGLE Again

Cloe and Cameron are cute and everything, but their relationship kind of made playtime limited. Kids couldn’t put the characters they wanted together. People couldn’t take photos of Cameron with Yasmin, Cloe with Eitan, or Cloe with Yasmin and post them online without someone saying, “No, their boo is ___.” I think “shipping” should be open.

I also really liked the line Secret Date. Unfortunately, with Cameron being so heavily shipped with Cloe, lines like that are impossible now.

Still, I would like the Bratz to be single, available, and just dating and having fun in their Teen or young adult lives. I hope it returns.

It should be open so people can see any Bratz character with any Bratz Girl or Boy they want to see them with. I mean, you can do that already without regard to the adaptations, but the “fixed” coupling would make it harder to post pictures with your favorite couple without people making comments about who should be together.

Movies Like Bratz Passion for Fashion Diamondz, Bratz Genie Magic, and Bratz Fashion Pixiez

Even though these movies weren’t realistic, they were fun. There was a spirit of adventure and magic that made them fun to watch. I especially liked the suspense and mystery in Passion for Fashion Diamondz, even if the ending was a bit predictable. Movies like this also made the lines themselves more appealing.

These movies also included the soundtrack songs in them.

I still do think that adaptations should be a little more realistic and should focus more on trials real teens are going through, but I would also like more adventurous movies. With a movie, you have to entertain an audience for an hour or two.  You might as well make it fun.

Boyz Lines

I hope to see more lines just for the Boys. I do believe that Bratz should mostly focus on the girl dolls and should focus on building female bonds. BUT I also liked that the boys weren’t just “boyfriends” to the main characters. They had their own “passion for fashion” thing going on. It made them seem more individual and less like “Ken dolls”.

It seems Cameron is the only doll that has been re-released since 2015, and he really got the “Ken” treatment back during the 2015 revamp (being only released in the Funk N Glow line as Cloe’s boyfriend). I mean, I’m not whining because at least he’s back. Still, I would like to see the boys break out a little and be a little different from the other boy dolls out here.

Good Hair

Back in the day, the first Bratz dolls had really good strong hair. They had quality hair. It made their hair shine and it made hairstyles look so polished on the dolls. It could also get wet without problems.

But after awhile, it seemed like they started putting cheaper hair on the dolls. I really do hope they bring back that good hair.

I also hope Sasha starts wearing her hair more natural, kind of like how she wore her hair in Style It and Dance Crewz but possibly more natural than even those styles.

I would also like to see some real hairstyles return. Around 2005 and 2006, it seemed like the hair styles got more and more flat. When the Bratz were first released, their hairstyles were diverse and unique. Later, they all just had their hair straightened with some color.

I hope the amazing hair returns. I’m not saying it’s mandatory, as I would just like the diverse fashion, especially because the hair will probably come down anyway. But I really liked it as a collector. The hair was inspiring.

 

 

 

DON’Ts

 

Closmins

If ya’ll thought the Tweevils got on your nerves on the Bratz TV series, the Closmins irked me more. Since 2003, we started seeing how blonde white Cloe and racially ambiguous Yasmin (though in reality, we all know she was meant to be Iranian but whateva, they used the “Hispanic” thing to get her to sell better) started getting all the love. And I know these two are a lot of your faves, so you may not like what I’m about to say.

But the rest of us Sasha and Jade fans were incensed. How dare they kick out the real dolls of color?

That isolation grew and grew until we hardly saw Sasha and Jade in major lines.

Don’t believe me? How about I bust out a list:

  • (2003) Big Bratz (Limited Collectors’ Edition)-Cloe, Yasmin, Meygen (where’s Sasha and Jade?)
  • (2004) Wild Life Safari – Cloe, Yasmin, Meygan, Nevra, Fianna (Don’t let that TV series fool you. Jade and Sasha would’ve OWNED this line. Screw Nevra and Fianna. They look alike anyway!)
  • (2005) Birthday Bash– Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Phoebe (No Jade)
  • (2005) Campfire – Cloe, Yasmin, Dana, Phoebe, Felicia (I love Felicia and everything, but why couldn’t we have two black dolls in one line? Ya’ll don’t care to add Nevra and Fianna in the same freakin’ lines, and they look more alike)
  • (2005) Dynamite – Cloe, Meygan, Nevra (We don’t even have Yasmin in this line. Cloe is the only one in the line from the core Bratz. You trying to give us a “Barbie” type of tease?)
  • (2005) Fabulous Las Vegas – Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Tiana (Jade? Jade? Where are you?)
  • (2005) Hollywood Style – Cloe, Yasmin, Dana, Phoebe, Katia (Wow, no Black girls belong here, huh? No Black girls in Hollywood?)
  • (2005) I-Candy – Cloe, Yasmin, Phoebe (More Closmins)
  • (2005) Midnight Dance – Yasmin, Meygan, Fianna (Yas is the only girl from the core here)
  • (2005) Ooh La La Paris – Cloe, Dana, Kumi (More Cloe)
  • (2005) Play Sportz – Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Meygan, Fianna, Roxxi (Where’s Jade again?)
  • (2005) Wild Wild West – Cloe, Yasmin, Meygan (with horse), Fianna, Kiana (Closmins)
  • (2005) Pretty N’ Punk – Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, Meygan (See the Bratz Rock Angelz movie gave you the illusion that Sasha was involved. Nope. So what, MGA? Sasha can’t be punk? A Black girl can’t be punk?)

2004 and 2005 were Bratz’s biggest years, and yet Sasha and Jade didn’t get to enjoy the limelight. One can argue that maybe the years were bigger because Jade and Sasha weren’t in the lines, but based on online polls, at least Jade was considered the second most popular Bratz doll. Why was she omitted from all of these doll lines?

Bratz info to support series (2)

This isn’t even adding the fact that Cloe dominated all the solo “special editions” and the fact that only Yasmin and Cloe got outfits from the live action movie made for the dolls! So Cloe and Yasmin were the only ones meant to have that Bratitude?

Sasha and Jade only showed up for the “flagship” lines, the ones that were being highlighted in movies. They showed up just to confuse us. But they weren’t fooling petty fans like me. I didn’t miss a heartbeat.

And it wasn’t cute. If you are going to bring back the Bratz, don’t cater to the colorist side of the Bratz fandom. Please allow people to enjoy Sasha and Jade’s individual colors and unique physical traits. If Sasha isn’t outselling the other girls, give Sasha bomb outfits you can’t find on Yasmin or Cloe. Make her appealing. But don’t take her out completely because she isn’t white or “mixed” enough. That’s not 2018-ready.

And I know you think Jade can just be replaced by any brunette that looks similar, but you’re absolutely wrong. We need more Asian representation in media and entertainment. It’s bad enough they get “white-washed” out as it is. Bratz is supposed to be a line celebrating diversity. Show us you aren’t like Barbie by doing that.

If I see it again, MGA, you and I are going to have a nasty exchange. Well, not too much of a nasty exchange because I do love MGA, but I will have some words.

The Closmins reveal the fact that these “fifth core girls” did nothing but divide up the main four core girls. This is why I don’t want anymore core girls. These other characters should either be an extension of the four core or not in the line at all.

Bratz TV Series

I know what you 2005 Bratz fans are thinking: “WHAT? I LOVED the series! It’s what brought me into the Bratz! And I ship Cloe and Cameron and want to see what happened next!”

That’s where I clash with the fandom. That’s why I’m scared. Most of the fans want to see this series actually return.

Most of the people who fell in love with the Bratz through the Bratz series were probably way younger than me when that series came out. A lot of people say “The series was my childhood”. By the time that series came out, I was a teen fan of Bratz and a collector rather than player. Maybe I was too old to be into Bratz in some people’s eyes, but I still loved the dolls and wasn’t ashamed.

While I loved that the animation sort of brought the dolls to life and promoted the brand, there were a lot of things about that series that bothered me, and it wasn’t just the plot holes, lack of wardrobe changes, and corny script. In fact, that’s what I actually liked about it. All of those things gave it a cartoon-y charm.

The bad part, to me, is that I believe the series is the reason we even got the CLOSMINS in the first place.

The first thing I hated about that series when it first began is that it took the Bratz Rock Angelz model (yes, I hated that movie, too) and made Cloe the narrator and lead character. Mind you, Bratz was originally a line meant to differ from Barbie, where the blonde chick got most of the shine.

Yasmin was the first Bratz doll and the original darling of the brand. So why Cloe?

Fox Entertainment, the distributor of the series, put more emphasis on ditzy and dramatic Cloe, giving her a beautiful steady love interest and an empowering personality (a personality stolen from Jade to make her more appealing, by the way), and less emphasis on the viewpoints of the other characters.

Though Yasmin was dethroned as the lead, she did get the best treatment in the series, being designed as this sweet and loving animal lover. The change didn’t really hurt her popularity.

What did Sasha get written as? A loud-mouthed, selfish control freak who wasn’t attractive to anybody but herself. I believe Sasha’s character in the series is why she was always voted as the least popular Bratz among the core in polls back in the day (and this is aside from the fact that people already have a negative opinion about dark skin, especially overseas).

And Jade just got all the leftover personality traits.

In fact, they completely changed Jade’s character. It’s not really the series’ fault. I blame Bratz the Video: Starrin and Stylin. Still, they took from that movie, which made me dislike the series even more.

I do not EVER want to see a Bratz series like this again. You all can come at me for it. I’m ready.

If it does return, I hope the wrinkles are ironed out.

Bratz Movies like Bratz the Video: Starrin and Stylin, Bratz Rock Angelz, and Bratz the Movie

I didn’t hate these movies overall, but there were some things that bothered me. The reasons I dislike these Bratz movies are the same reasons I disliked the Bratz TV series.

First of all, I did not like some things in Bratz the Video: Starrin and Stylin. I know many people didn’t like the movie overall. At the time of release, some people felt the animation was outdated and cheap-looking. For me, I actually liked the animation because it reminded me of the commercials. I truly like 2-D animation. I liked the story-telling, too. I think it was more realistic than the other movies.

What I hated about it was how the characters were written. This was the beginning of the destruction of the Bratz characters in my opinion. When the Bratz dolls were first released in 2001, they weren’t developed with any particular personality traits, just “fashion passions”. These “fashion passions” sort of highlighted their personalities, but not directly. So, anyone could kind of make-up their own personalities for the characters. However, there were other signs about the characters’ personalities on the main website, which apparently many Bratz fans (and these writers and developers) never visited. If you looked in their bedrooms, you could see their different interests. I wish I could show you all, but you can’t even get into this website now, not even on Wayback Machine.

Okay, I admit, I was one of the main people begging MGA to make a movie for the Bratz characters to flesh out their personalities. Stupid me.

Starrin and Stylin and the book series that inspired the movie didn’t consider the website. I personally was looking forward to a sporty and edgy Jade with a passion for fashion. Basically, a non-typical fashion girl. That’s not what Starrin and Stylin gave me. In fact, her whole sporty appeal was wiped from existence.

What’s more? Sasha was given the worst personality in the group. She was characterized as a “control freak”.

Bratz Rock Angelz bit off a little bit from the original movie. They brought back the relationship between Cloe and Cameron (only they made them childhood friends, when technically Yasmin and Cameron were, but we’ll talk…). Sasha was still a control freak, and now was also selfish and pushy. They brought back Jade’s “ultimate fashionista” persona, which I already didn’t like.

But what really killed me is that Bratz Rock Angelz COMPLETELY SWAPPED Jade and Cloe’s lives. And when I say literally, they even switched their OUTFITS. You know why this angered me? Because Jade’s outfit was actually one of the best sold in the line. It appealed the most to punky tomboys like myself. It gave Asian persuasion Jade an image that could help her become more popular.

What did Fox Entertainment go and do? They gave it to CLOE. And it was weird. It looked like Jade was talking with Cloe’s voice.

Yes, I’m a petty fan. I do not like when adaptations deviate from the source material. I hate this because everything that I like about something can be altered in-brand because of these adaptations. It overall affected the brand.

The worst part is the Rock Angelz movie is actually popular among the fans. Ugh.

To add insult to injury, Bratz Rock Angelz took away the emphasis on Yasmin, the original lead character, and decided they would tell the story through the eyes of the BLONDE. Why did I ever think Bratz could be different from Barbie when Fox pulls this crap with the Bratz?

Bratz Rock Angelz eventually spun into that wack-attack TV series that highlighted all of the negative changes.

Why did I even watch it? The Bratz Rock Angelz album was released before the movie. After that amazing album, I thought the movie would touch on all the subjects covered in the music, which actually would’ve made a compelling story. Not only did the movie completely miss everything in the album, only ONE song from the album was present in the movie.

And if those movies weren’t bad enough at jacking the Bratz up, here comes Bratz the Movie, the Raspberry-award winning live action based off of the dolls. While I loved most of the actors in the film, the film was obviously designed to capitalize off of the High School Musical craze. We’ve got a Sharpay look-alike, plenty of musical numbers, and friends torn apart because they belong to the wrong clique.

But the worst part about the movie is the white-washing of DYLAN. Dylan was clearly meant to be BLACK (at least bi-racial). This Bratz Boy has come with braids and dreads in his hair! He has been released with dark brown skin at many times. Even former characterizations of him, such as in the first Bratz movie, highlighted him as BLACK.

What did the live action movie do? They cast a white boy for his role. I took issue with that.

Overall, MGA would do us all a favor if they avoided white-washing the Bratz brand to appeal to colorist fans (and you know who you are).

2015

Don’t do this again. Don’t. Do. It. Again.

There is no room for goo-eyed, tacky, uninspired, and sweet-faced Bratz dolls. Not now, not EVER.

Lawsuits

We all know that once the Bratz dolls come back, there will be a lot of copy-cats. We know all the doll companies want to create dolls that make a statement like the Bratz did. We need to just accept that there will always be imitations.

What we don’t need are more lawsuits coming from MGA. Really, because of all of those lawsuits from 2004 to 2009, MGA wasn’t able to really focus on the Bratz, and that affected the dolls. It affected the quality of the brand and Bratz were almost legally removed from shelves because of those lawsuits.

We need to leave the confrontational attitude back in 2k. Moving forward, we need to focus on making this brand the best it can be. I really don’t want another issue to rise up where we’re losing some of our MGA team because they all work hard to make their dolls successful.

Painted On Clothing

I forgot to mention this. We need to leave the painted-on leggings and stockings back in 2k. Looking at Bratz lines like I-Candy, Ooh La La Paris, and Star Stylez, I don’t like that someone decided it would be cute to paint on clothing instead of actually taking the time to design mix-and-match fashions!

I understand it’s cheaper than actually producing high-quality materials. I understand that it’s easier for kids because it’s harder to lose something that’s painted on and harder to swallow as well. There was also probably an issue with resources to fun some of these high quality items.

In all fairness, they probably wanted I-Candy girls to have stockings, but real fabric stockings with painted on shoes would’ve looked odd. So, I understand.

But it really also made mixing and matching outfits challenging. I mean, you could mix-and-match all you want, but there would be some awkward leg coloring peeking out.

If you’ve got an I-Candy Bratz doll, you know that these dolls would look awkward wearing any other outfits besides the ones they have on. Maybe that was the purpose, so that people would see the distinction in this line, but it’s just not fun.

Recycled Clothing from Sister Brands

This was a big problem for me. When Bratz Party Cloe was released, it was easy to tell that she was wearing leggings recycled from the Moxie Teenz line. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but they looked awfully similar…

It was almost like Bratz got whatever was left over from the  Moxie Teenz collection. I mean, MGA admitted in 2010 they rushed to bring the dolls back to shelves, so I guess they just put whatever they could find on these dolls. Still, I hope we’re not ever in that situation again.

I just hope that Bratz isn’t going to be “borrowing” from their sister brands this time around. Don’t get me wrong. I do like Project MC2 well enough, but I just feel the Bratz need to be distinct from them. Those girls are cute and everything, but just not the Bratz. If I can find the same outfits on a Bratz doll that I can find on the Project MC2 dolls, why buy the Bratz, ya know?

 

So that’s my list of Do’s and Don’ts. What are some things you Bratz fans want to see return? Do you agree with my list or not? Leave me a comment and we can get the discussion rolling!


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MGA’s CEO, Isaac Larian, Said, “Bratz Are Coming Back the Fall of 2018!” Can the Bratz Deliver This Time?

30 Jun

 

 

Greeting Readers! This is Gen Next!

I know I haven’t talked about the Bratz in eons. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with my Girls with a Passion for Fashion!

In fact, I have been hard at work preparing for their return. I intend to have a strong hand in the comeback this year. Why? Because I see that the Bratz dolls still have the potential to make their mark on the toy industry. I’ve got quite a few things in mind.

Three months ago, I sent MGA’s inventor team a 13-page proposal stating all of the things I feel the Bratz brand needs. That may have been overly-ambitious, and possibly overstepping my boundaries, but I feel better now that I’ve said what I wanted to say.

So, I’ve been busy with Bratz, don’t you worry.

I’ve had some readers ask me if I’ve heard about the Bratz’s comeback in 2018, and I have.

Why have I been silent? Two reasons: 1) I wanted to wait to do a major article on the brand when the comeback officially releases. 2) I didn’t want to repeat rumors and over-hype the brand just to let myself and others down. 3) I have several concerns regarding the comeback, and I didn’t want my negativity to rub off on the hopefuls.

As for number 2, I have this tendency to get super excited about a brand, to place all of my ideas out there, and I try to get others on-board, too. In the end, my expectations soar way too high. In 2015, I was really let-down by the Bratz dolls.

Read my article: Bratz Are Back Again in 2015: What Happened to the Bratz?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure the Bratz truly WERE going to come back this year. Companies often say one thing, it doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen. Delays happen, too. The toy industry has been suffering. Even Toys R ‘Us took a hit. I wasn’t sure if Mr. Larian could make this happen and I didn’t want to recklessly post my thoughts on it too quickly.

What changed my mind now? Well, I’m starting to see some extremely promising little updates happening.

We all should know by now that Isaac Larian has been hinting at the Bratz comeback since last year. He basically said “Bratz are scheduled to release this fall”.

The fall quarter is basically around the corner now.

We’ve also got some teaser Instagram posts lately:

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Happy 17th birthday to the Bratz!

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Exciting things are coming.

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Keep being patient… it takes time to look this good.

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With all of this, I have every reason to be excited… but concerned, too.

I’m excited because it’s time for a doll brand like Bratz to come back to shelves. I’ve been through toy shelves recently to find inspiration, and diversity is seriously lacking. Even Disney’s dolls and brands are so white-washed.

Dolls are so….boring nowadays, too. They don’t have flash. Most come with cheap clothes, one outfit, and no accessories. Everyone is afraid of makeup. They are so busy trying to appeal to feminist social agendas, they fail to actually interest anyone.

The last time Larian said the Bratz were “coming back better than ever”, we got 2015 Bratz, the goo-goo eyed dolls with a sweet touch.

One of my concerns deals with retailers. Since Bratz’s debut, retailers have had so much control, they managed to alter many of the Bratz dolls’ older lines. Carter Bryant, the original designer of the Bratz dolls, mentioned that retailers’ opinions, especially the Market buyers at Walmart, are what led to the alterations of Bratz Fashion Pixiez (and I’m certain other lines as well). They couldn’t handle Bratz being so edgy, sassy, and fierce.

Now, retail chains are suffering. With the closing of Toys R’ Us, and the power of Walmart and Amazon, what will be sold has completely gone into the hands of these major retail giants. Without their approval, Bratz can’t return to the shelves. Does that mean Bratz may have to sacrifice some original ideas in order to be marketable to these giants? And can Mr. Larian sell the Bratz to these “family-friendly” retailers?

I did offer a different suggestion in my 13-page proposal, but I’m not sure they will really consider these ideas, and I’m not expecting them to. I’ve offered different ideas before the release of the last “re-launch” in 2015. None of those ideas were used, though all of my ideas were given a “thumbs up” when I posted them on Facebook. I have no doubt they tried to implement my ideas, but if retailers didn’t like it…Well, that’s that.

Talking to Carter Bryant back in 2015 has given me a lot of insight and has taught me one thing about the doll industry and creative property in general: You can create what you want, it doesn’t mean you have power over what you create.

Carter Bryant has helped me realize how powerful retailers are in the posts he made on my blog:

Carter Bryant has shown us that Walmart buyer Lori was responsible for a lot of the edgiest lines being dumbed down significantly. Walmart is one of the leading supermarket chains in the USA. Their buyers decide what gets sold on their shelves. They buy the product, sell it at their stores, and get a percentage of the profits.

She’s an older lady, and to me, she seems to favor Barbie. I mean, it’s not unexpected. She probably grew up with Barbie. Bratz probably rattled her cage. I’m not sure if she is still a toy merchant with Walmart, but whoever is will decide what happens with Bratz, and if she is still the primary girls’ toy merchant, we are in trouble.

So, despite the fact that Isaac Larian wants to bring out a doll line that’s “like no other”, would he really have the power to do it? I do have one solution to this problem, but will Bratz’s marketing team consider my idea a good one? Will that idea be enough?

Then, there’s the issue with the generation itself. Do girls even play with dolls anymore? Would they even BUY the dolls? Girls today have shown some interest in toys, but far more interest in technology. Children are more sophisticated than they were 10 years ago, and more girls reject traditional femininity than they used to ten years ago. Will they see Bratz as an outdated brand? Will they see Bratz as a brand that promotes superficial values and reject the brand as a whole?

Last, I’m concerned about feminist and mommy bloggers as well. Will they tear the brand down and influence their “soccer mom” supporters to help them?

There’s a lot to be concerned about.

Despite how negative I might sound, I am fairly optimistic about TWO things.

For starters, I’m optimistic about the Bratz brand’s quality. Lately, Mr. Larian seems to have come across some cash, which might be good for the overall quality of the Bratz brand. He offered to buy Toys R’ Us AND he’s offered to merge with Mattel, his original competitor! He seems well-equipped to polish the brand this time.

Article on MGA’s ambitious desire to merge with Mattel

He’s seen some success from his LOL Surprise brand. Project MC2 seems to have a steady beat. And both of Isaac Larian’s children have invested in their own brand, Cult Gaia, which brings the family more wealth. He seems pretty confident that he will reap even more profits from his planned Bratz return. So, who knows what he has up his sleeve.

Hopefully, this businessman has hired the right team and is ready to bring Bratz into the future full-force! But until then, I won’t be posting some of my ideas or hopes for the brand. I’m literally “cleansing palates of expectations”. For now, I will just sit back and wait until it all unfolds.

Second,I’m also excited to learn that Hayden Williams, a fashion designer and illustrator who was rumored to be hired to assist with the design of Bratz, actually WAS hired. This means MGA is at least considering the fans’ expectations for the brand. Hayden Williams has officially tweeted me to confirm that he is one of the Bratz designers!

Hayden Williams Response

At one time before this update, I wasn’t sure Hayden wouldn’t be interested in being a designer for MGA because it might mean he would lose his freedom as a designer.

Turns out, he’s doing a collaboration with MGA, so he will be free to work as he pleases. His dolls will be Amazon collectors’ exclusives available this fall!

I’m excited to know that MGA recognized his talents and vision.

Have you all SEEN his work? Check him out on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hayden_williams/?hl=en

The best part about the release of these dolls is that they will be available ONLINE ONLY (for now). One of my other concerns was that I wasn’t sure Hayden would really be on-board with designing (despite most Bratz fans’ desire to have him design for the dolls) because I was afraid retailers would try to restrict his freedom if the dolls came out too edgy. I was afraid retailers might be skeptical to buy the Bratz because of their reputation, and that Hayden would have to curb the Bratz’s stylishness. One of my suggestions in my 13-page proposal was for Bratz to be sold online if retailers got funky. Glad to know MGA got the same idea.

I don’t think Amazon will restrict the design of the dolls as bad as other retailers (considering they don’t seem to be biased in what they allow to be sold on their website). Hayden said on his own Twitter:

Hayden Williams Tweets

MGA gave him the freedom to really give his all to these dolls. That’s all us Bratz fans really want!

Still, I hope all retailers recognize this brand’s ability to bring back consumers’ interest back to toy aisles and don’t try to change the image of the dolls to get them there.

Now, here’s where I’m uncertain again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Hayden Williams is going to be designing all of the Bratz lines. If they do hire others, they better be on par. I believe that Hayden understands the original “Bratz” design best. He said he has been into the Bratz since 2001. We need fans like him that understand what the Bratz were. No offense to fans who came with the TV series, the movies, or when Meygen jumped in ’02, but you have to have known the Bratz their entire career to understand their image and message FULLY. If you believe you can be on par, do thorough research on the brand, backwards and forwards. I believe that’s why the other designers struggled. The TV series and movies changed a lot about the Bratz, which I don’t appreciate (Read or listen to Bratz 2018: What I Want to Return and What I Don’t)…and some of the people who are fans of the brand mostly remember the media entertainment portion of the brand. While it is one part of the brand, there’s more to it.

I really hope they don’t get Project MC2 designers on-board for the Bratz. If they do, we’re going to have another Moxie-Bratz 2010 problem.

Oh, you don’t know? Remember when Cloe’s leggings were recycled from Moxie Teenz? Yes, that problem.

We’ll also get cute, because that’s what Project MC2 is. They’re cute.

The Bratz are not meant to be “cute”. We don’t need designers who think “cute” will make the Bratz better. N-to-the-O.

So far, I have so many mixed feelings about this comeback now. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m happy, I’m nervous. I just don’t know what to think anymore!

Readers and fellow Bratz fans, what do you all think of the Bratz’s upcoming “return”? Do you believe the Bratz will deliver this time? Or do you think retailers and critics will find a way to ruin the brand once again? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Read up on some of my other articles:

How Well Do You know the Bratz? Quiz

A Walk Down Memory Lane: Bratz Music

Bratz Dolls Say Good-bye to the Toy Industry

In case you couldn’t find it above: Bratz 2018: What I Want to See Return and What I Don’t

 

Question: Do these girls look like Bratz dolls or what?

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’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!

Monster High dolls’ Reboot: “How Do You Boo?”

21 Nov

‘How Do You Boo?’ This is the new slogan for the new Monster High reboot. It doesn’t make much sense to me now…Let’s see if we can make sense of it later…

welcometomh_desktop-header_tcm1078-272704

As of summer 2016, following the Welcome To Monster High movie, Mattel (the company that produces Monster High) decided to give the go and have the MH franchise rebranded, rebooted, revamped (however you want to call it).  The new “reboot” also comes with a brand new story retelling the origins of the MH series with a few new characters and some returning ones.  In particular, the main crew, except Ghoulia and Deuce, returned upon launch of the new reboot with new face molds, brand new fashions, and other characterizations.

The biggest question many Monster High fans have is: Why try to reboot an already successful brand after only SIX YEARS? It is the question that plays on my mind as well. It baffles me how Mattel, when the brand is at its height, in such a short time frame, even thought this would be a prosperous business idea. What demographic research have they been studying?

Despite the fact that I couldn’t fathom the idea of a reboot at this point, I still took my time creating this review of the product, thinking maybe I should give this a chance. I gave it a chance, and so far, this reboot fails to impress me.

So, right now, I’m going to let Mattel have a voice. Apparently, Mattel had these things to say:

“A bona fide pop culture phenomenon and a massive global franchise in over 60 countries Monster High is ranked as the third biggest fashion doll brand a $1 billion franchise annually and a top 5 global property for girls! Monster High empowers girls to express their individuality and form friendships that last beyond a lifetime.”

Great, we know this, and this is why we’re confused about the necessity for a reboot…

Now entering its 6th year in the market, in 2016 the brand will embark on an exciting new chapter to maintain its relevance to the ever changing consumer. As an exciting disruptive everygreen brand Monster High will continue to represent via the monster metaphor what it means to be different, unique and empowering girls to be themselves as Mattel leads the way in creating, maintaining and driving strong girl empowerment brands.

“exciting disruptive”…Hey, that sounds just like the Bratz’s producers (MGA) at relaunch….right before they failed to be disruptive…

Apparently, Mattel’s reason for changing the new Monster High dolls was so the brand can be “relevant to the ever-changing consumer”. This could mean two things.

First, it could mean they want to appeal to a new generation. In my opinion, it wouldn’t make much sense to reboot the brand just to appeal to the next generation as the old Monster High is still pretty relevant to kids today…After all, this brand is just six years old…But maybe they see the brand as having a different meaning than it did in 2010 at launch…

Second, it could mean that much of the Monster High fan base have been expressing their boredom with the line and Mattel wants to make it “relevant” to these “ever-changing” consumers.

I’m likened to believe that the real story is that they started Monster High to be a competitor to the Bratz dolls and capture the tween audience when Bratz were removed from shelves. Now that the edgy trend is dying, and Bratz became a thing of the past, Monster High’s old image and story is no longer “relevant”. But that is just my theory…

The key elements that make the brand disruptive will remain but now infused with more play in the product whilst adding renewed focus on the core characters and stories as well as marketing what the brand stands for. The brand will have a fresh new look with new contemporary colours and graphics whilst still incorporating the iconic signatures that make the brand unique and relatable to the core audience of 6-10 year olds.

Supposedly, they said they wanted to keep “key elements that make the brand disruptive”. So far, I don’t understand what they are talking about. Are they talking about the fact that at least they will keep them monsters?…That’s the only thing that makes this brand disruptive anymore.

Monster High was originally designed to capture the tween audience. After all, Garrett Sanders made the doll franchise after observing tweens and teens shopping at Hot Topic. And it has been popular among girls 10 to 14. It’s pretty obvious that Mattel has shifted their demographic focus from the tween audience to the kids with this reboot (the same mistake their competitors at MGA made). This is probably why so many people are complaining. There are many Monster High fans that are over the age of 10! It’s almost as if Mattel forgot who they directed this brand to in the first place. The new reboot looks like it’s made for kids.

They also claimed to focus on the core characters, but they didn’t relaunch Ghoulia as one of the main core characters…In the original, she was one of the core characters. Her name is even in the original theme song.

If they mostly focus on the core characters, it also means they don’t really plan to bring any extra character stories to the table. It’s probably because fans have been complaining about Mattel regurgitating new monsters all the time without focusing on the dolls they already have within unique doll lines…

The brand will also launch an exciting new multiyear brand campaign and new consumer rallying cry “How Do You Boo” encouraging consumers to embrace what makes them unique and share how they Boo. Working with celebrities and brands spokespeople the campaign will communicate what it means to boo, to be yourself and start a movement encourage girls to do the same.

So, Mattel explains that the new slogan “How Do You Boo?” is supposed to encourage us to embrace what makes us all unique and to share that. But Monster High always encouraged people to embrace what made them unique before they changed to this cheesy slogan. So why this slogan? Still no answers. I don’t get what this slogan is supposed to mean..How is “Boo” relevant to embracing what makes us unique? Are they asking how we scare people? Are they asking about our own special “scare”?

Maybe it’s supposed to go over well on Twitter…

So far, you can already tell where this reboot is headed and you probably can guess I’m not a fan of it.

Upon rebooting, the MH look very different from their original counterparts.  The Monster High dolls are no longer the glossy eyed freaks of nature that haunted the shelves of every store…No…They are now doe-eyed little monsters that hardly seem as if they could haunt anything.  In fact, to refer to them as haunting is laughable…

Let me compare the old dolls to the new to show you all the unique differences between them. Let me know if what I’m seeing is just my imagination. In my opinion, the Monster High dolls look more like Elementary School kids now instead of saucy teenagers…

monster-high-new-face

Some people like the cute look better, just like they liked that “anime” that came out.

Let me just be honest: this reboot smells like a failure to me.  I’m pretty sure it’s a failed attempt at competing with the Disney Princess line. With their old Bratz competitors out of the way, I’m sure Mattel is less interested in keeping up with the outdated edgy trend and more interested in keeping up with the Disney Princess/Frozen/Descendants franchise that is getting the attention of consumers these days.  Keeping that in mind, while I find the reboot to be laughable…I’m not at all surprised that the reboot happened this way and so soon.  In fact, I predicted that Mattel would eventually run out of a way to keep MH interesting and would maybe have to reboot the whole thing eventually.

Monster High: The Halloween Trend

And considering how Mattel is not the kind of company that cares about originality, diversity, or anything else unless it is a selling trend (which is also something I had mentioned at this article 14 Ways Mattel Can Screw Up A Doll Line), it also does not surprise me that the Monster High dolls look more like little monster Barbies. After all, the same producers of Barbie created the Monster High. I’m surprised anyone is surprised about the outcome of this reboot, considering this fact.

I want to talk about which parts of the reboot I liked and which part I didn’t…

But I’m going to be honest with you…I haven’t quite found a whole lot of things to like about this reboot.

Monster High’s Doll Features

Monster High’s newest dolls, as I’ve explained before have changed…Honestly to the point that it seems like a totally different line from Monster High.  It is hard to believe they are called Monster High. When I look at these dolls, none of them actually look like Monsters. Seriously, they look like…well…normal little girls.  Seriously, Mattel? The one thing that made MH unique, you take it away? What business sense does that make, exactly?

monster-high-new-dolls

I guess freaky is no longer fabulous…but at least they’re cute right?…(*puke*)

One of the features that are distinctively different (and disgusting) is their eyes. Their new eyes give no sense of personality or attitude. They just look like a bunch of goo-goo-eyed girly girls made only to stand there and look cute. There is no message behind them; no depth or mystery.  Just enlarged eye pupils that scream “we’re kid friendly”.

Other parts of the new features of MH that seem to be lacking are the details and quality.  Let me use Frankie as an example. Frankie had one of the most detailed bodies, with the various stitches made to seem patched to her skin and the bolts aligned with the detailed patch work right on her neck…But now the patchwork that was so nicely constructed on Frankie’s neck looks like someone put a bunch of stickers together. It hardly looks like patch work. And poor Lagoona Blue.  Her old doll had webbed hands to represent her water monster greatness, but now her fingers are just your average fingers with no distinction from any of the other dolls.   Skelita Calaveras’s new look is what troubles me the most. For a skeleton…she seems to have a very fleshly face in comparison to her old look which maintained a bony structure. Observe.

skelita-1

Old Skelita: Absolutely flawless design capturing a skeleton with such style and grace. Too bad, this version no longer exists.

New Skelita: Someone on the design team apparently failed anatomy because last time I checked skeletons do not have noses as noses do not have bones. SMH Be honest, does she seriously look like a skeleton?

New Skelita: Someone on the design team apparently failed anatomy because last time I checked skeletons do not have noses as noses do not have bones. SMH Be honest, does she seriously look like a skeleton?

What really takes away from MH’s monstrous look is the articulation of the dolls; they hardly have the monstrous body articulation the originals had, neither are the articulations distinct from one another.

Maybe this all has to do with budget cuts? Quality sometimes decreases when a company is struggling with a line. But seriously…The big doe-eyes were quite unnecessary.

Can I also mention how all the dolls upon reboot have pink lips now? Thank goodness Deuce is supposed to be a guy who is uninterested in make-up, otherwise he also would have pink lips like all the rest of them.

What message is Monster High trying to send by making the monsters look “normal”? Well considering the slogan is no longer “Be yourself, be unique, be a Monster” or “Freaky Just Got Fabulous”, I guess Mattel no longer cares to promote such values any longer. They care more about how someone “boos”…whatever that means.

I got the hint from reader discontinuedtoylines regarding why they made such drastic changes to these features. And it was just as I feared: the soccer moms have struck again.

Apparently, monster high was too “scary” for children (though the original target demographic should’ve been old enough to understand how harmless these dolls are). Some parents really thought this doll was designed for their 8 year old child, when the original target age was 10 to 14. That being said, Mattel couldn’t risk getting on parents’ bad side, not in this declining market. I guess they had to sacrifice a quality doll line just to stay in parents’ good graces.

Monster High’s Doll Clothing And Accessories

The main appeal of Monster High was their freaky fabulous fashions that were made to accentuate the monsters in various unique ways.  The outfits usually had just as much details as the body, and the accessories are always to die for.  With the reboot, while the outfits are not typically hideous, they are simply uninspired and ordinary compared to the original outfits for most of the lines. There’s no pizzazz and the detail has been downgraded, especially when it comes to the accessories.

Let’s compare the relaunch with the original launch, shall we?

launch

Original Launch

In the original launch, each of the girls have their own style and flair. They have accessories that simply bring out the best in each outfit. Not one part of their outfit resembles the other, which shows that the monsters are very different from one another both by personality and monster hybrid.  The patterns do a good job in captivating each monster, letting us know which monster they are while still making them look fabulous. Now let’s look at the new monster high reboot.

relaunch

Relaunch

The new monster high dolls for the 1st wave of the reboot have a lack of interesting and diverse clothing accessories in comparison to their original dolls. To add, look at the patterns. They do not give me any indication as to which monster any of them are. For example, Cleo looks like a tree monster to be sure.  Clawdeen looks like a leopard or a cheetah. Seriously, look at her pants. Leopard/Cheetah print? I thought she was a werewolf…or is she now a werecat?  Of all the outfits presented, Draculaura (who usually had one of the most adorable pieces in the line) has the ugliest outfits in this reboot. Compared to her original look which was just spooktacularly vampirous and cute at the same time, the way her outfits are put together now are simply just tacky.  I should also mention that Draculaura and Frankie have basically the same shoes on in different colors with the first wave of the reboot.

Most of the other lines (besides Shriek Wreck) resemble this 1st wave reboot.  Most of them are boring enough to literally make me yawn. I think the most disappointing of all of the MH reboot doll lines was Monster High’s Electrified line. You would think that more would be electrifying about these dolls besides their hair…

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Of course, there was one line that stood out from the rest. Of all the lines set to be released for the MH reboot, Shriek Wrecked has given some good fashion details…

shriek-wrecked

In comparison to MH’s past lines, however, it lacks a lot of sass. The fashions are really girly, lacking the edge that MH’s past lines had.

Compare Skull Shores, a past line, to Shriek Wreck: skull-shores

As you can see in the above Skull Shores line, the original MH looked sassier and more grown up in the past. While in the Shriek Wreck line, they look much younger. And don’t get me started on the quality; painted on gloves for Lagoona is not a good sign.

And for crying out loud, will Mattel just cool it with the pink?! JEEZ! Monster High has gotten so pink, it’s sickening!

Still, Shriek Wreck is the best to date. It’s just not interesting enough to turn my head. I’m just not interested in buying any of the dolls (I would’ve gotten Rochelle had they not given her painted on gloves).

The lack of sassiness and diversity in the new dolls’ appearances could have something to do with the “feminist” movement. On Bit**Media, a feminist website, an article was written by feminist Deb Jannerson about how much she disliked the Monster High’s makeup and clothing, claiming they were “hypersexualized, heavily made-up dolls with über-Barbie proportions”. I’m sure there are more feminists out there who think the same way.

Feminists tend to hate anything that appears to them to be overly “sexualized”.  They don’t often see how an empowering female can appear in diverse ways. It’s gotten to the point they seem to lack an imagination entirely and can’t see how the dolls resemble “cartoons” rather than real humans. And they aren’t even MEANT to be human!

Seriously, hasn’t anyone else noticed how long the skirts are in comparison to the originals? That smells like the feminist agenda written all over it. It’s that “agenda” that encourages doll companies to make their dolls look more like “normal” girls. But for fans, who fell in love with monster high because they were NOT normal, because of their short skirts, the make-up, the glossy eyes, the things these feminists call “hypersexualized” and “heavily made-up”, the details are what made Monster High an edgy and scary cool work of art. With this reboot, all of that has been taken from Monster High, making them look more like scared little girls. I’m not going to say all feminists feel this way. But even a small group of feminists who feel this way have a way of forcing their beliefs on various doll companies, television or movie industries, and book publishers.  Do not underestimate the damage the feminist movement can do.

Now, I know what you guys are thinking. ‘Well, they might give more detailed fashion lines in the future like Shriek Wreck, so let’s not jump to conclusions’, right? You’re probably right. There are other lines that have to be seen. But so far, even some of the other future releases that I have seen after Shriek Wreck left me unimpressed. Nothing has motivated me to want to buy any of the new MH releases this year or next year. Absolutely nothing.

Monster High Story: New Story And Characters

So aside from the doll relaunch, a brand new Monster High story was born.  Meaning the story that was once Monster High is no longer its story.  Remember when Frankie was the new girl at Monster High after being born just a few days before attending the school? Well, yeah, that story no longer exists in this new reboot.  All the movies and TV specials that came out, fleshing out the monster high characters, you might as well toss them because none of the relationships and situations that were in the original stories are relevant now.

In the old story, Monster High was an already established school. Mistress Headmistress was the strong empowering female leader of the school in the original story.  In the original story, it was a normal school like ours, except everyone who attended were monsters. But now that story has been changed. In the new story, it is Draculaura and her father who turn their home into what we know as Monster High. Mistress Headmistress has been replaced with Draculaura’s father, a male figure (How peculiar for Mattel to do this during a modern era for women. And what this also means is that Mistress Headmistress may no longer be a character or doll in the future MH series). Anyway, the school is now a boarding school and all the ghouls live with each other in this school. Yep, no one has unique houses that they go home to. They just all come to this one school and live(I wonder how the playsets will look…).

Also, in this new reboot, Mistress Headmistress is not the only character that has failed to be apart of the new series reboot. In the original series, Clawdeen had two sisters and an older brother (along with a few other siblings). In this reboot, however, she only has little brothers. What does this mean for the future of Clawd, Howleen, and Clawdia (Clawdeen’s siblings in the original story)? It may mean that we may never see these characters or dolls in the future.

And with this reboot, Ghoulia is replaced by a new zombie character known as Moanica D’Kay. Unlike Ghoulia (who speaks zombie language), apparently Moanica speaks like a “normal” person (I guess Mattel really wants to put more emphasis on being “normal” and how great it is).  And with an added touch,  this new character’s signature color is none other than the color PINK…

Also new to the stage of new characters, Spectra is replaced with the character Ari Hauntington (which I’m pretty sure is Ariana Grande in monster form). It’s quite interesting because Spectra’s name was going to be Von Hauntington originally.

Check it out: Spectra-Von Hauntington

Ari is a typical Mattel character. She’s girly, shy, and she sings.  Typical recipe for selling points, right? Not to mention she can also solidify herself into a popstar named Tash. And let me say that her other form looks just like Barbie.  (I predict that Ari Hauntington’s human form may also have a doll…she looks like a “seller”).  There are also some new characters that were introduced in the Welcome To Monster High movie such as Raythe and the Skeleton Boys, Skelly and Bonesy.

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“She’s a Barbie girl, in a Barbie wooorrrlldd”…That should definitely be her theme song.

So, what do I think of the story change? I personally don’t see why it was necessary.  Sure the movie animation was nice, but the new story feels less relatable compared to the original story.  To add, I hate how the story butchered Clawdeen’s family…

Did anyone else notice that the males in this series seem even less relevant than they did before?

And it isn’t just the story, but the look of the webisodes that have had a change.  Normally, I typically like stop motion and Monster High’s stop motion would actually be pretty good. If only the characters had their original face molds…  To add, when I compare stop motion webisodes with MH’s cartoon web series, I honestly like the cartoon web series better.

One reason I prefer the animated web series is because the stop motions only make use of the characters that have dolls.  Therefore, there is limited characterization within the web series. That also means most of the characters will be females (because naturally most of MH dolls are female), most of them will consist of the main characters without showing their interactions with other characters, and there may not be much story in each episode in comparison to the former webisodes.

So, the new webisodes will not do much as far as fleshing out the characters’ personalities and relationships.  This bothers me a bit because the webisodes were originally really good at showcasing Monster High’s diversity. Even though not all of the characters had dolls from the web series, they were still very entertaining to watch.  After the first few watches of the stop motion series, I honestly lost interest in watching anymore. Its only entertainment value lies in the fact that it is stop-motion, a cool way to bring animation to inanimate objects. But it is not something I would enjoy following for the next few years to come.

What bugs me even more is the change they made to the webisode animation style, which caused Mattel to cancel “The Lost Movie”, the movie that was supposed to be an animated crossover between the Monster High Characters and the Ever After High characters.

To see what “The Lost Movie” looked like in its early stages:

It’s ironic that they used the same marketing tools that competitors MGA used for the relaunched Bratz. The Bratz flopped after such awful marketing strategies. Mattel is following them right into the fire.

Overall, the new Monster High reboot may be perfect for children 8 years and younger. After all, the girls look like cute little 7 year olds, the clothing is age-appropriate, and the web series totally relates to little kids (including a webisode in which the girls in stop motion learn how to ride a bike for the first time. EVERY kid can relate to that)! Best of all, none of the girls have icky boyfriends (little kids hate that stuff, right?). And at last, parents may be pleased to see that Monster High looks “normal” and feminists will be pleased to see that MH dolls no longer objectify them by wearing too much make-up and almost all the skirts go to the knees…There is absolutely nothing daring about what they wear, which is a win for both parents and feminists alike, right?

But for some people who are tweens, teenagers, and adult collectors(the actual consumers), this reboot may be seen as a serious joke. I’m one of those collectors who find this reboot to be one of the most laughable doll reboots in history.

Leave a comment in the comments’ section below and let me know what YOU think about the new Monster High reboot. Do you love it or is it going in your failed reboot archives, like it is going in mine?

 

Betty Spaghetty Makes A Return in 2016

18 Jul
Artwork by Jordanswintart @ deviantart

Artwork by Jordanswintart @ deviantart

Betty Spaghetty is due to return this August, just in time for the fall quarter. The newer, re-vamped version has appeared at the Toy Fair and it seems a few people were able to share their findings on Youtube.

For those of you who don’t know who (or rather what) Betty Spaghetty is (probably those of you who were not ’90s kids), Betty Spaghetty was a line of bendable, stretchy dolls meant to look spaghetti-like, only with funky, colorful clothes and various facial expressions. It was a way to play on the fact that kids often ‘play with their food’. You know how kids add “faces” with different food items onto their sandwiches? Or maybe play “Godzilla” with their dinosaur crackers? Yeah, same concept, only this time manufactured into a toy line.

Elonne Dantzer was the genius who brought these dolls to life. Her real inspiration behind Betty Spaghetty was Lego toys. She wanted to create a “girls’ Lego” (before Lego Friends came to stores), playing on the fact that you can put Legos together and take them apart to create things. The character was meant to be “cartoonish” in style, with a very expressive face and bendable body, something little kids could really enjoy. She was originally supposed to be “Bendy Boop”, but after a test session with a little girl, she became who we know today.

Ms. Dantzer explains more about it at The Blade.

The Ohio Art Company, the company who took on the idea, first brought these dolls to stores in 1998. The main ‘Betty Spaghetty’ character was a blonde, perky teenager who loved fashion (Hey, this was the 1990’s, okay? You can only expect the stereotype), but she came with friends and a little sister. The dolls were rubbery, including the hair, which was fun for kids who loved to style hair. The hands and feet were removable. They had various accessories as well. In each box, Betty had a new facial expression, which was always my favorite part of the doll line.

Betty Spaghetty was discontinued in 2004. Back then, there was strong competition in the doll market (With a strong push by most toy manufacturers to appeal to the tween market at this time, Betty, targeted to kids as young as four, didn’t stand a chance).

Betty tried to make a comeback in 2007, but she had no luck with sales. I guess the world wasn’t ready for her return just yet. And of course, the internet didn’t create much of the sensations it does today.

Now, the dolls are slated to make another return. Let’s see what’s happening now.

My first thought was…Lalaloopsy Girls anyone?

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I watched the Toy Fair video, saw pictures of the dolls, watched the commercial, and visited the official website. I’m still certain that this revamp is a new product with the Betty Spaghetty brand stamped on it for press coverage.

First off, the new dolls are no longer created by Ohio Art. Moose Toys is now in charge. They created the Shopkins and there is a striking resemblance between the Shopkins and the new Betty dolls. I guess that’s why they took over the Spaghetty dolls. They’re a company known for putting “faces” on normal grocery items…

Now that there’s a new company involved, there are several differences between the original Betty Spaghetty and the newer dolls. The differences I see really take away the charm the brand once had. I have a problem with companies that try to revive something without really understanding the essence of what they are bringing back into the world.

There is only one pro that I see: Betty is more diverse in her presentation. And it’s not like the original Betty Spaghetty didn’t have many friends with different ethnic backgrounds and shades. But they were clearly sidekicks. Originally, blonde “Betty” got all the attention. Now, Betty is mostly customizable and she often has different hair colors, like blue hair. This relates to a wider audience.

Of course, I’m only looking from an early perspective. When they arrive on shelves, I may have better opinions about them.

The real problem is that not only am I unimpressed, I’m simply not feeling nostalgic with this release, either. So, who are they literally trying to appeal to here? I don’t understand who would want these dolls with so many other more interesting ones floating around and with the original Betty Spaghetty floating around on the second market.

These dolls just don’t feel “Betty” enough. They literally seem to be reaching with this comeback. Let me just run down the significant differences for you.

1) She’s Not Truly Bendable Anymore

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Yes, these dolls are not truly bendable. Even in the video above, the commercial, and several pictures, it seems like the presenters struggle to bend their arms and legs for an easy bendable pose. Betty Spaghetty is supposed to be tall and lanky and spaghetti-like. She’s supposed to be noodle-skinny. She was so thin, you could add beads to her arms and legs. These girls are short, with big heads and a body proportion that rivals Monster High, Ever After High, or the re-vamped Bratz dolls.

Really, the presenter showed no effort in demonstrating Betty’s bendable poses. It’s probably because that was the last thing considered when making this doll. They clearly wanted to emphasize the fact that these dolls have a ‘mix-and-match’ function. The only thing noodly about these girls is their rubber hair. Whoopie.

The arms and legs on these dolls only manage simple poses. The only thing familiar about the body is the rubbery feeling.

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 2) The Doll Clothing Lacks Funk

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Update: Originally, I wasn’t fond of the clothes because I thought they were boring. I mean, can you blame me? That Toy Fair did nothing to boost Betty’s reputation.

However, I’m not excited about the new dolls either. They aren’t as boring as they once looked, but they are still more boring than Betty originally was. They just lack funk.

The 1990s is over, I know. But I think the funky style suited Betty well. Betty Spaghetty dolls are supposed to be teenagers. These new dolls’ outfits look made for little girls. They’re colorful, but not cool. I absolutely dislike blonde Betty in a “princess” costume. Ugh.

These outfits are just too typical.

On the main website, it looks like they have 12 dolls released so far: Chef Betty, Cupcake Betty, Princess Betty, Fairy Betty, Popstar Betty, Cafe Lucy, Skate Lucy, Beach Zoey, Hula Zoey, Ballet Betty, Pink Ski Betty, and Blue Ski Betty.

A sister brand to the Shopkins for sure…

Though they revamped some of Betty’s older lines, like the ski line, it lacks all the flavor of the original. Blonde Betty herself is super “feminine” and is not the fashionista she once was.

They still don’t have tons of jewelry or the make-up that Betty had, which made all of her clothes pop, made her colorful, and even more FUNKY.

Betty always reminded me of Claudia from the Babysitters Club, if any of you all remember the series…Her style was just so original and cool.

The new Betty Spaghetty dolls aren’t ugly, just too sweet and childish for my tastes.

 

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Even the first revamp had a better selection. I’m sick that it didn’t take off the ground like it should’ve…Especially after seeing these new dolls.

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3) Their Faces Lack Expression

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Betty Spaghetty had many different facial expressions in every release. Sometimes she would look surprised or excited or happy, and other times she would look solemn or even scared. She seemed to have a little personality all her own. Her lips weren’t the only things that GAVE her personality. Her EYES even gave her personality.

The new dolls? Not so much. First off, they have noses. The original Betty was cartoonish, as intended, and didn’t have a nose on her roundish, shiny face. The new “Betty” seems like an attempt at a CGI cartoon.

The new dolls’ expressions are all pretty much the SAME. There seem to mostly be three types of faces: solemn smile, regular smile or chipper wide grin. The eyes are all the SAME. They lack color as well. Betty and her friends used to have individual expressions and often those expressions were related to the line they were released in. The new Betty dolls all look…the same.

They’re not wearing make-up, so they don’t have any extra art or color to their faces, aside from some blush to make their cheeks rosy. And it’s not bad to be fresh-faced, but the new dolls don’t look as funky, colorful, or creative as the original Betty.

Panda17188 @deviantart.com

Panda17188 @deviantart.com

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4) They Don’t Look Like Teenagers

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Betty Spaghetty was tall, wore makeup, and shopped. She looked like a teenager. Her clothing lines reflected a teenager. The new Betty Spaghetty dolls look like kids. I’m not going to say all teenagers should be tall and lanky, but the clothing and lines for the new Betty dolls (like the hula outfit, the inline skating one, etc) look like something a child would wear. At least bring back Betty’s essence. Being a teenager is far more glamorous for kids. Why? Because it’s something they can…IMAGINE. They can’t imagine being who they already are. That’s the problem with toys like this. They lack imagination. They lack vision. They lack creativity.

Do you really expect me to believe that “ballet-princess-fairy” Betty is a teenager? XD I don’t think so.

I know Betty Spaghetty was always directed to children 4 years old and older, but these dolls don’t seem ready for playtime no matter the age. The only things kids can do with these dolls are braid the hair and change the clothes. The accessories are not ugly, but most of them are common in any toy line. The bodies aren’t even bendable. It’s not like you can put beads on the arms. They are too thick and don’t bend. Boring. I can’t see any kids wanting to play with these toys for long.

5) Betty is not Really Blonde Anymore

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It looks like one blonde doll is still in the line as Betty, but according to the main website, there are TWO types of “Bettys”. One has blonde hair, the other has blue hair.

This is kind of confusing and I think this is bad. People will be looking for blonde Betty which will take away sales from the blue-haired doll. Why didn’t they give her a new name instead of making two Betty dolls? They have Lucy and Zoey. I just don’t understand why there needs to be two dolls named Betty.

The sad part is blue-haired Betty has better clothes than “princess-ballet-cupcake-chef” Betty. The new blonde Betty is girlish and childish, while blue-haired Betty is a “popstar” (though gag me with the fairy one) and takes on Betty’s “ski line”.

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I understand the diversity thing, but Betty was known as blonde. Even in the commercial, I saw blonde Betty getting the shine among the other dolls, but then at the end, I see the blue-haired doll…

Maybe they want Betty to have diverse hair colors? Which is cool and all, but the problem is the dolls’ facial expressions and skin are not that diverse. Most people will decifer the differences by hair color, and most people assume blonde Betty is Betty…

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It seems like companies are out to revive the 1990’s. Companies are out to revive old products in general because lately only popular brands sell well in the toy market (and just about every market today). But I feel if these companies lose the heart of the brand, there’s no way they can truly revive a product the way they wish.

Perhaps Moose recognized that Ohio Art had been unsuccessful with the original re-vamp and felt that they should try to design and market Betty dolls differently. But I doubt these will do any better.

I’m also considering the fact that Moose couldn’t make their new dolls like the original Betty. If Ohio Art still kept the copyrights to the original design or the original creator pulled the original designs, that would mean Moose had to start their designs from scratch and would have to make their Betty dolls look different. I feel that if they couldn’t get hold of the original designs, why make these dolls?

I think it’s just time to hang up on Betty Spaghetty. The new generation hardly plays with dolls, but the dolls they do enjoy have an even bigger brand name in the toy market with the proper marketing tools. If Moose Toys make Youtube videos for Betty like they do for Shopkins, maybe they will reap some success. It already seems set up for a CGI release or something like that. But I doubt it will stay popular for long.

Visit their website www.bettyspaghetty.com

As more information is revealed, I will be updating this article.

What are your thoughts readers? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Black History Month For Children: Learning Black History Through the American Girl Beforever Collection

1 Feb

Martin Luther King’s birthday has passed, and black history month is here, and so the focus may be on “black pride”.

Many children today really don’t understand their history, or rather don’t care about it, whether they are African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian, Native American, Jewish,  etc. It’s a shame that I even had to witness African American children fall asleep during Dr. King movies. I’ve witnessed this recently at a school. They really take for granted the privileges they have obtained thanks to him. MLK would roll over in his grave if he could see how some of our young African American children are today.

The American Girl dolls and books to me are a great way to educate children about their history in a way that relates to them. Through the eyes of three nine to ten year old girls, children can learn to value their history, to be proud of themselves, and to work hard to achieve great things. I’m proud to announce that American Girl has added three African American characters to their Beforever line: Cecile, Addy, and Melody.

I’m not telling you to go out and purchase an expensive doll for black history month. But maybe you could read a story with your child, or get them one of the books from the library. Some parents don’t realize how important it is for children to know their history, but knowing what others have gone through helps them to develop admirable and likable qualities, such as compassion, empathy, understanding, and intelligence. They realize that everything isn’t going to be handed to them, and that it is up to them to make a future for themselves, no matter how challenging life gets. Children who understand history learn to appreciate what they have and to be content. Every privilege we have today-modern technology and political/social freedoms-we have because someone from the past worked so that we could. We also look to the past to learn for the future.

All of the characters in the American Girls series have something to teach kids. This month, we’ll be focusing on the African American characters.

Meet Cecile

Cecile‘s stories take place in 1853, centering around New Orleans, Louisiana during the worst outbreak of Yellow Fever in the city. While the story is fiction, many of the events in the stories really happened, such as the Yellow Fever epidemic and the city-wide Day of Prayer. Cecile is a wealthy French girl of color living in the French Quarter. Cecile shows a new side to African American history. While most children know of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, many do not know that there were rich black girls living prosperous lifestyles in the South. They are often not taught about the rich black culture that has existed in the USA prior to the Civil War. Cecile’s story focuses on the struggles she faces trying to help her family and her city find healing during a traumatic epidemic that hushes the lively spirit of New Orleans.

Though Cecile’s stories are shared with Marie-Grace, a poor white girl, Cecile still has a significant role in each story.

There may be several things that may concern readers when observing reviews of the stories. I always say consider what you can take from the series rather than focus on the negative. Perhaps I can give some suggestions that may make the introduction to these American Girl books easier.

“I don’t think this is good for black history month. Her stories are shared with a white girl.”

Cecile’s stories teach several things about black culture, even though her stories are shared with a white girl. While most of the world thinks most black people were either poor slaves or oppressed individuals who could only find poor housing and poor education, Cecile’s stories introduce a whole new side to black culture. Denise Lewis Patrick herself said that while researching, she found it surprising how freely people of color interacted with other races and how some black people lived in lavish circumstances.

Having a white girl share her story further teaches girls how different things were for black people in New Orleans before “Americans” entered the city. Though places were still segregated, people often mingled together at public events. And black people often had no strong desire to mingle with white people because it truly was “separate but equal”. Schools, ballrooms, stores, and other places were just as amazing for black people as they were for white people!

Slavery still existed, and of course slaves felt inferior. But wealthy black people owned large plantations in New Orleans full of slaves as well.

Through Cecile’s friendship with Marie-Grace, both girls learned to set aside their differences and see each other for the “content of their characters”. This is not only a good lesson for black girls, but girls of other ethnic backgrounds, too. I think this was exactly what MLK would’ve wanted. I think the series still teaches black history while bridging the gaps between two different races.

Some people may be concerned that Marie-Grace outshines Cecile in these stories. I can assure you that isn’t the case. Three books are dedicated to each girl. And Cecile plays a huge role throughout Marie-Grace’s stories as well. Just seeing how Marie-Grace reacts to Cecile can also give insight into the character and the time period.

“This book seems to gloss over the actual struggles blacks have experienced in the USA.”

Black history doesn’t only consist of struggle and hardship. Just as it’s important for children to recognize how hard black people fought for equality, it’s important for children to know that they can rise above any oppression if they work hard enough. It’s important for black children to recognize that they also have a rich history with a rich culture.

Many black people may not be able to relate to this era in time. That doesn’t mean the series has nothing to offer children. This is an opportunity for them to actually learn.

I think one of the most interesting things about Cecile, the main character, is that she speaks French. This series shows that African American girls of that time period were well-rounded and quite cultured. Who knows. This may encourage other black children to learn French. Even though these stories don’t teach about racism largely, the books have many other things to teach children regarding black history and culture.

But I would like to point out that racism is discussed, along with other forms of prejudice, throughout this series.

“Cecile, the main character, acts a little spoiled and self-centered.”

The American Girl stories, like any stories in the world, are full of a diverse group of characters. Of the three black characters offered in the line, Cecile stands out. I think it’s great that she isn’t “Miss Perfect” in every way, just like real girls. But throughout the series, Cecile learns to be more thoughtful, compassionate, and generous. Children today are pretty privileged in comparison to many girls who lived in the past. We all are! Children today don’t have to work. They can go to school. Most children can ask their parents for toys, games, I-pads, cell phones, new clothes and shoes, and other luxury items. They are very much like Cecile, where the smallest things can mean a lot to them. I feel that Cecile relates to black children in this way.

I think Cecile’s stories can help children of all backgrounds step outside of their comfort zones and learn about other cultures. These stories promote tolerance and diminish racism and cultural ignorance. By promoting these values, we establish peace. The next generation can move into the future with open minds if we help them open their worlds. Why not start with a story like Cecile’s? Keeping this in mind, I think her faults are forgivable.

Cecile may not be the most humble character, but she’s only like this at first. I think she was written showcasing some major flaws in the beginning in order to show readers how much she grew from experiencing a major epidemic. Her character works well with the story, and the evolution is obvious.

Events like the Yellow Fever brought different people together, even those who were unlikely to be friends. This shows that all of mankind has the ability to pull together when it matters most. During disastrous events like Hurricane Katrina, another event that struck New Orleans hard, and other natural disasters, children can relate to the struggles Cecile and Marie-Grace had, but can also find healing much the same way the girls did. These stories can help young girls cope with these events through child-size perspectives.

Reading along with the American Girl curriculum guides can really help teachers and parents as they read the stories to children: Cecile’s Book Guide

Meet Addy

Addy‘s stories take place from 1864 to 1866, centering around Raleigh, North Carolina and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the Civil War. While the story is fiction, many of the events in the stories really happened, such as the Civil War, Robert Lee’s Surrender, and The Grand Review. Slavery also existed, as we all should know by now. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was supposed to have freed the slaves in 1863, the year before Addy’s stories, much of the South saw themselves as a separate nation. So they ignored the Proclamation. Some slaves didn’t know about it because they couldn’t read about the news and no one would share information with slaves for fear they would run. But word eventually got around, prompting many slaves to try and escape their plantations. Many slaves were eventually freed by Union soldiers. Addy was raised a slave girl during this time. She and her mother planned a daring escape North in her stories. Addy’s stories focus on her life as a slave and her struggles as she and her family try to build a life for themselves as newly freed people of color.

There may be several things that may concern readers when observing reviews of the stories. I always say consider what you can take from the series rather than the negative. Perhaps I can give some suggestions that may make the introduction to the American Girl books easier.

“My child is very sensitive. Some of the things in the stories are too harsh for young children.”

Think about this: While your child is too “sensitive” to hear about real events, little girls like Addy actually had to suffer through torture and pain during this era. No one was around to “shield” them. Many children today go through such things, especially in other countries. “Sensitive” children are the ones that can make a difference in the lives of those suffering. I don’t think it would be right to try to “protect” a child from learning about events that can help them become a mature, compassionate adult. It’s best to protect them from things that will actually make them bratty and spoiled or physically harmed. Addy’s stories may hurt your child, but that shows that the stories reach your child. It’s not hurting them in a negative way. It’s teaching them to appreciate their freedoms. It will inspire the child to think outside of the box and grow a love of tolerance rather than hate. More than likely, your child knows wrong from right, and with you reading the stories with her or him, you can explain how some of these things are wrong.

While there are a few sensitive moments throughout the series, there are many happy and positive moments, too. There are also scenes that children can relate to. If you can get over the beginning of Addy’s stories, she really does have some happy endings.

“My child is still learning English. Addy doesn’t speak the proper English and I don’t want her speaking the way Addy does.”

“I can’t read this book. The vocabulary is horrible.”

Well we’ve reached a dilemma. How can someone teach the realities of slavery to a child when slaves didn’t really speak the way we think they should have?

This is exactly what has always been the problem and why black history is hardly taught in schools or anywhere else. And this is exactly what slave masters wanted long ago.

Addy and other slaves couldn’t receive an education, so they learned English by ear. Because of this, white people would look down on them. They wouldn’t hire them for jobs or listen to them when they spoke up on political issues. They sounded “uneducated”. So even though many were freed, they were still barred from living prosperous lives because they were looked down on. This was a part of racism.

I don’t think that parents should encourage such prejudiced attitudes by refusing to read Addy’s stories to their children. Instead, I think this presents an opportunity to teach your children how valuable education really is. After all, this is a history lesson, not an English one. History is taught through the accounts of many people, whether they spoke the way we think they should have or not. Even museums have journal entries written by people who don’t quite speak what we would consider “proper”. If your child already recognizes that Addy’s speech isn’t quite right, then there’s no reason to be afraid that Addy’s stories will make him or her speak “horribly”. They must already be at an age where they know the correct grammar. So, it’s your job to help your child understand Addy’s situation and help the child to understand that Addy really wanted to learn so people wouldn’t look down on her. And you can encourage your child not to look down on people just because of the way they speak, act, or dress. Perhaps you can also discuss how her snobby desk partner, Harriet, looked down on Addy for those very reasons, which further shows how hard it was for newly freed people.

The reality is that slaves lived this way. If you hide it from your child, you are allowing the child to grow up ignorant anyway. What would you rather do: Read about history and have a discussion about things the child doesn’t understand or prevent the child from learning about an important part of history to shelter the child from Addy’s “speech”?

Some time in your child’s life, your child may run across people who don’t speak English so well, even in school. There are no slaves in the USA today, but there are immigrants that come into the United States. Perhaps this can open up a discussion about helping students who don’t speak English well or a discussion about children who have been barred from receiving a decent education in the USA and worldwide. Perhaps you can encourage your child to develop a tolerant and empathetic attitude.

I want to add that while Addy and her family don’t speak English “properly”, the narration is quite solid.

Addy’s books are targeted to girls 8 and up, an age where they can understand the material, so reading it to any child younger would make things more complicated as well.

“Addy fits all stereotypes and makes all black people seem poor and uneducated.”

Let’s face it. Whether you hate or like stereotypes, this was the way many African Americans lived in this time. This isn’t like some Disney princess story. This is based on real history. Most of ALL black people came to America as slaves or indentured servants, and they all had to fight to be seen as “human” in the USA. There is no reason to be ashamed of that. It only shows how strong African Americans really were and only shows how far black people have come. To have endured such oppression and still thrive and survive is something we all should admire. There are other African American characters in the line that aren’t slaves, but we still have to face the fact that slavery existed. There’s no sense in brushing it under the rug, as the saying goes.

Though black people didn’t receive a “European-style” education, they weren’t dumb. They had to be very clever to outwit their slave masters and escape. Addy is very smart herself. She struggled hard to learn, but she worked hard and learned fast. She was able to rise to the top of her class in less than a month, even winning a spelling bee! She kept her mind sharp by solving riddles and guessing games. Her father was clever enough to devise a plan to help his family escape. Though slave masters tried to keep slaves ignorant, they couldn’t take away their ability to learn. Children today who struggle in school can learn from Addy’s example. Addy struggled but, by studying and asking for help, she was able to be a great student.

There are also black characters in Addy’s stories that have shown they were not poor and uneducated. Miss Dunn was black and was once a slave, but became Addy’s teacher. Addy’s desk partner, Harriet, was the smartest and wealthiest in the class. But should we look down on people who are poor and uneducated?

Addy’s stories teach girls not to judge people by outer appearances, status, or even the way someone carries themselves. By judging based on such superficial information alone, we create the same dividing lines that destroyed our nation during the Civil War. The North looked down on the South. The South looked down on the slaves. None of the sides could understand each other.

I really feel that through Addy’s stories children can recognize how lucky they are to have freedoms other children didn’t have. They can also learn tolerance. Help open your children’s minds by sharing Addy’s stories.

And she’s such a sweet girl to boot.

Reading along with the American Girl curriculum guides can really help teachers and parents as they read the stories to children: Addy’s Book Guide

american girl melody

Melody is American Girl’s newest African American character. Her stories take place from 1963 to 1964. Her stories focus on life in Detroit, Michigan during the Civil Rights Movement and 1960’s culture. While the story is fiction, many of the events really happened, such as The Walk To Freedom, The March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom, the Children’s Crusade, and the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. Famous figures make cameos throughout the stories, such as Langston Hughes, Diana Ross, Berry Gordy, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Melody is a normal, suburban African American girl. She goes to school, plays with her friends, and attends her church every Sunday, much like children today. She comes from a large family (Baby Boom) and shares a connection with each member of her family. Her stories focus on black people’s struggle for equality in the USA and the role children played in the struggle for civil rights.

There may be several things that may concern readers when observing reviews of the stories. I always say consider what you can take from the series rather than the negative. Perhaps I can give some suggestions that may make the introduction to the American Girl books easier.

“The events in these stories are too scary for my child.”

Keep in mind that the children in these stories have had to face far more than reading a book about harsh realities. Many of these children fought for equality bravely and deserve to be honored. Many of these children gave up their lives. Perhaps these stories can be inspirational for your child. Perhaps these stories can teach your child to appreciate the freedoms we have in the USA. Push your children to inculcate love in their hearts for people who are different. Instead of shielding them from reality, help them to cultivate qualities that can help prevent some of the tragic things that happen in the story.

Many children in the 1960s were like children today. They were innocent. But events happened that tore children’s lives apart. It’s better when their parents hand it to them with an open discussion rather than “protecting” them with false expectations and lies or worse-the power of “omission”. There are ways to teach children important events without traumatizing them. There are ways to teach them about history in an empowering way. But we can’t act like these things didn’t happen. It’s best to teach our children early, when they are impressionable, events that will help them grow into respectful, compassionate adults.

You can’t get any more censored than the American Girls. Of all the history books in the world, they truly give history in a way that doesn’t sugar-coat the truth, but also in a way that relates to children. Don’t be afraid to introduce harsh subjects to children.

Still, these stories are geared towards children who are 8 and up. Though events can happen to any child, keep in mind that is the target age.

“I’m apprehensive about reading the Civil Rights era. Most stories and accounts make all white people seem evil.”

White people may have this concern. I understand it may be hard to face such evil scenes mentioned during the stories. Everyone knows that this wasn’t the fault of all white people. Still, such hatred existed and such attitudes even exist today. Looking to the past is important because it helps us to fix our mistakes and create a better future for humankind. If we all worked together and overcame our differences, imagine what we really could accomplish as a HUMAN race. Of course, we don’t want to stay stuck on the past, otherwise we’ll never create a future. Still, by reading about the Civil Rights Movement, we learn to develop love and tolerance. That is the black story. Through all of the African American characters, love and tolerance are important themes.

Civil Rights wasn’t just for black people, either. Imagine how many white people couldn’t marry a black person, or an Asian person, or someone Hispanic, even if they were in love with them. Segregation and racist laws even infringed upon the rights of white people! There are many white people who suffered and died because they said something that seemed “tolerant” towards other races or spoke out against racism.

Other nationalities were also oppressed and benefited from the Civil Rights Movement, such as the Native Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish families, and those of Latin American descent. Black people were the leaders of the movement, but it wasn’t a movement that only benefited black people. This is why it was an important event in the USA.

Women may have also felt inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. Many women had to push through gender boundaries in the 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Many women today are still striving to make their mark on the world, so girls today can still relate to this movement..

Why did people have to fight for something so simple as civil rights? This is a question you could ask your children to make the topic easier.

Luckily, for you more sensitive souls, Melody lives in the North where legal segregation no longer existed. Still, racism did.

Aside from the topics on racism, though, Melody is actually a normal girl that I think any children can relate to. She likes flowers, music, getting pampered at a salon and spa, and spending time with her sisters. In fact, I think she and American Girl’s Maryellen, the 1950s red headed character, have a lot in common. If people didn’t make such a big deal about race, I imagine girls like the two of them could have been the best of friends!

Children may find that the events in Melody’s stories mirror some events they hear on the news in modern times. Melody’s stories can help children transition into serious subjects that they may even hear in their daily lives. Events in the story can help girls cope with modern day events that have affected children, such as the Sandy Hook tragedy or even some of the rioting going on right now on behalf of race and against police brutality or even the Charleston church tragedy. Children may have questions about such events, and Melody goes through some of the same trials children face today-only she lived in the 1960s!

Reading along with the American Girl curriculum guides can really help teachers and parents as they read the stories to children: Melody’s Book Guide

Even if you readers don’t want to jump on the American Girl book bandwagon, don’t forget to honor all of the black leaders who,through intelligence and courage, found a way to make life more free for everyone. If you ever want to learn about black history, now is the time to do so.

Though all of these girls come from different times, their feelings, struggles, and victories are very similar to children today.

Should American Girl Sell ‘American Boy’ dolls?

15 Jan

american girl logo

 

Every once in a while, someone will come up with the suggestion that there should be American Boy dolls created by the American Girl, LLC company.

The American Girl brand is well-known for their historical “Beforever” and contemporary “Truly Me” lines of dolls designed as little girls (different from Barbie, Ever After High, Disney Princesses) with inspiring stories. The brand has always focused on girls since 1986 when the concept was first released to the world.

However, recently, there has been a sudden “push” for toy companies to be more “inclusive”. This means that people are tired of the generic, standard dolls that have always been included among toy options. If the toy companies or some of their lines are directed to boys, people want them to include “girl” toys. If a company has primarily targeted their toys to girls, people want “boy” toys. If the collection only includes white characters, people want characters of other races. If the collection focuses on one country, people want other nationalities and cultures included. People want to diminish prejudice this way. They want to bridge the gap between differences and make things more equal and fair.

American Girl fans, since the 1990s really, have all been wondering if American Girl would include “American Boys”. Back then, that would’ve been considered a bad marketing move. But with the recent popularity of Frozen and My Little Pony toys among males, people are starting to consider it.

Along with that, with so many feminists pushing for “boy” toys, like the “Nerf” toys, to include girls in the target demographic, “girl” toys are now being questioned as well. Should we exclude anyone from enjoying these toys?

Although there’s nothing wrong with girls wanting nerf water guns or boys wanting an American Girl doll, regardless of the gender direction (after all, American Girl doesn’t have to include American BOY dolls in order for boys to buy from the same brand and nerf toys never had to turn into Nerf Rebelle in order for girls to like Nerf products), some children want toys that represent them more personally.

Many of you might ask: ARE any boys interested in products like American Girl? Would American Boys sell to male audiences?

Though polls and surveys can answer this question more conclusively, from my experience, there are boys who like the American Girl dolls. Several readers on my blog, who are male, enjoy dolls such as Bratz and American Girl. These kinds of dolls appeal to males. While Bratz is edgier, American Girl has history involved with it, which relates to humans the world over. Many boys have walked into American Girl Place with their families in awe at the remarkable array of clothing and accessories, especially the ones that go with the historical dolls. American Girl’s Beforever line also comes with books that make history more exciting for kids.

There are many different reasons why many people want “boy” dolls.

  • People want “positive role models” for their sons

There are toys out there for boys (though many kids are consumed with tablets and video games), but they are all action figures. They all inspire courage and action in boys, but no valuable non-violent qualities like kindness and compassion. There are also hardly any boy toys where “little boys” are the main characters. So when little boys, at an impressionable age, walk into the American Girl stores, yes, they see dolls designed like girls, but they also see dolls that are designed to look like kids their OWN AGE.

  • Girls (and toy collectors) want “boy dolls”, too.

Barbie has Ken. Bratz have Bratz Boyz. Monster High and Ever After High have boy dolls. Frozen dolls have Kristoff (and Olaf). There are girls who have brothers or male friends in their lives and want to play out scenarios with their boy toys involved. People are also interested in how boys dressed in the past. It would make for an interesting buy for adult toy collectors as well, who lately make up nearly half of the toy industry’s consumers.

The only problem is most people like that American Girl dolls are empowering without having “boyfriends” or other male figures to help their line. Some people like that it’s a brand exclusively for girls. Most history books are mainly dominated by male figures. American Girl not only tells about history from the perspective of females, but from the perspective of little girls at that.

Some parents are also not comfortable with their girls playing “boyfriend/girlfriend”.

Still, males influence girls every day. It would still be interesting to have it in the brand for many people.

Okay, so how can the American Girl company accomplish this?

American Girl has always been for girls. That’s what the brand is popular for. How can this company introduce a “boy” line of toys without taking away what the brand stands for? People have had several suggestions:

  • Create “male friends” from some of the already-told Beforever stories.
  • Create a new “Girl of the Year” with a “Boy of the Year” as a best friend/brother doll.
  • Create a whole new line of historical boy characters that match the times already represented, just from a male perspective.
  • Focus on creating contemporary (modern) dolls for boys like Truly Me.
  • An exclusive line with books, like Hopscotch Hill dolls or Girls of Many Lands, with dolls that are slightly smaller than the 18” dolls so that they can be distinct.
  • Customizable dolls, similar to Truly Me, but where you can choose from an array of historical AND modern fashions and accessories as well as different ethnic molds.
  • Release a Limited Edition Boy doll every year or every other year.

Beforever Boys

Using the male characters from the already-written Beforever line can shorten the time it takes to create a male character. Many fans are already familiar with characters like Stirling from the Kit series, TJ from Julie’s series, Davy and Wayne from Maryellen’s series, and Julius from Melody’s series. Though Kaya has Two Hawks, trying to get their fashions correct without being “offensive” would be challenging, considering throughout the summer boys mostly wore breechcloths. And I don’t think those two boys are the best role models. Samantha has Eddie Ryland in her story, but he’s never becomes a friend. Rebecca has Victor, but he seems too old to fit into the “American Boys”, even though he’s Ricky’s age (Molly’s story). If they’d kept Kirsten and Molly, they may have had more options (though I felt Ricky was a horrible little boy).Considering Kirsten and Molly are archived, the boys from their series would not be included either, decreasing the number of options. That presents another problem: If they decide to archive the Beforever girl, the boy is going to go, too. After all, what sense is there to get rid of the main character and keep her male friend doll? Do we really want a short-term thing? With American Girl constantly trying to make room for new dolls, any of the girls are liable to go and then we’ll still be without an inclusive line of boy dolls. We already saw what happened to the Best Friend dolls.

There would not be much diversity with just those boys mentioned above released as all of them are white. Eventually, as they are even doing with the current Beforever and Girl of the Year line, people will be pushing for more diversity. This was also why the Best Friend dolls didn’t go over well. Only some American Girls got best friends, which meant more fashions and accessories from the time period for the white dolls, while others seemed empty in comparison. Most of the best friends were white with just one being an Asian doll. The Best Friend collection lacked diversity.

There are American Girls who don’t have ANY main male characters around their age, like Josefina. We would never really have a Mexican historical male character if we were relying on Josefina’s story for inspiration.

Ben is a favorite among girls, but he’s too old. The target age for historical characters are 9 to 10. Ben is basically considered a “grown man” in his time. The stories, from his perspective, would be far more “advanced” and not as lighthearted as Felicity’s stories (from a child’s perspective). He would be more like the Girls of Many Lands. They would have to make it intermediate or advanced literature, which would mean the words Ben uses would be too difficult for children to pronounce and the content would be…a little more intense.

And if we are going to add Ben, we might as well add Seth (Caroline), Lars (Kirsten), Joseph (Rebecca), and Sam (Addy). This would fit better with an American “Teen” line, though, rather than an American Boy line of dolls. To add, over half of the boys who would fit into an American Teen line are in the stories of characters who are archived.

Even if there were enough boys to go around, there weren’t that many clothing options for boys in the past. Boys were simpler than girls historically and it’s hard enough to get some of the American Girl Beforever characters to look appealing as it is (this is why they still haven’t designed a Pilgrim yet). Appealing to the general demographic would be challenging. A “best friend” male doll would not give girls the same options that a “best friend” girl doll would.

To put it all bluntly, they can’t go far with male characters from the book series, just as they couldn’t go far with the Best Friends.

Boy of the Year

I like the idea of American Girl creating a “Boy of the Year”. But that boy will only last a year. What will happen to the little boys that come into the brand the following year only to discover that the doll has been discontinued? That takes us back to square one. Still, this would be great as a test run. However, considering American Girl only has one year to sell these dolls to meet their financial quota, I doubt they will take that risk. American Girl is taking their time releasing an African American Girl of the Year because they’re too afraid “she won’t sell”.

And if he were a best friend doll…He would still only last a year. The other problem is American Girl would have to try to sell two dolls in one year. They already had that challenge before, which was why they scrapped the “Best Friend” strategy.

The All-New Historical line

This would be an amazing alternative to the American Girl Beforever brand. The real question is, how far would they be willing to take this line?

If they want to take it as far as their current Beforever line, which includes accessories and books, the two lines would end up being competitors for the company’s attention. Dealing with TWO historical lines is a challenge.

They would also have to decide what time periods they could use for the boys, which would take years. It took years to build the original Beforever line. It will take years to build a line like this.

This may also take them away from “what the brand stands for”. By focusing on boys and their adventures in time, this company will no longer be a brand mostly focused on girls. I feel we desperately need history taught from the perspective of normal women and girls (and not just from queens and political leaders).

I feel that it would be best to come out with just five boys from the past. But we know how that’s going to turn out. Eventually, kids will ask for more.

One of the lines will suffer. My bet is on the boys’ line. This might be a great idea when they’ve covered every single time they possibly could with the original Beforever line. For now, it’s complicated.

Modern American Boys

This would be a great idea. They could also have various head and facial types. I see this being more attractive to girls.

Most of the boys seem to like the historical part of American Girl. They don’t care about fashion for fashion’s sake. It has to be purposeful. American Girl Beforever dolls’ purpose is to educate about the time period, even through the fashions.

Still, I think having items, like miniature footballs or cooking sets would appeal to boys just as much as the items appeal to girls. It’s great for playtime. Children of both genders have a wide imagination and want to play out their lives.

Exclusive Boys

An exclusive boy toy line, like Hopscotch Hill dolls or Girls of Many Lands, would be good. They may be shorter than 18 inches and probably less expensive. This would be a great way to introduce male characters into the brand.

The issue is whether or not they should be historical dolls or modern ones.

One without the other would make the line feel like it’s missing something. They may come with books, but I can’t see girls buying dolls that don’t connect with the main American Girl dolls in any way. Most of American Girl’s off-shoot lines failed. They would really have to promote this kind of line if they expect success.

Still, this is the best option.

Customizable Dolls

This is the best option in my opinion. If American Girl is going to step into the “boy doll” field, allowing an array of playtime options would be the smartest move.

I think the boy dolls should start off with five or six customizable molds to represent various races and ethnic groups, similar to the Bitty Baby line.

Customers should be able to pick between fashion packs that include both historical and contemporary (modern) fashion with an array of accessories that match a boy’s life.

I really think this would be the best for playtime. Though books couldn’t be included in this kind of line, which is a shame because it wouldn’t inspire boys to develop a strong character, it would still be a lot of fun.

Limited Edition

This would also be a pretty good idea. This way, the boy dolls won’t take over and change the “direction” the company is trying to go in. Just like “Girl of the Year”, they could have a separate boy toy line with one doll every year. It could sell out in one year, but then that would cut into the Girl of the Year marketing strategy.

It could be one new historical boy every year, choosing a new time zone every time. He may come with one already-written book or a tell-it-yourself sort of thing. That would go over better and it wouldn’t be modern like Girl of the Year. They would be the most unique boy dolls on the market.

They would still take over the Girl of the Year marketing strategy, but at least they would be different.

Still, a modern boy would probably sell better to the main demographic, just the like the modern girls do. To create a historical boy takes three years of research as well as tons of money. It would be difficult to release one every year.

Either way, though, they would interfere with Girl of the Year marketing. One is going to have to go.

The boys could be limited to two or three years, but that means it would take forever to get the next boy doll. There wouldn’t be many options in the meantime.

Beforever Transformed Into Boys

Reader Yousef, who is a boy, made the suggestion that the company could transform the Beforever collection into boys. For example, instead of Samantha, she could be Samuel, and her books could be told from a boy’s perspective. Perhaps all the genders could be switched in the story. This would change things significantly. For instance, Aunt Cornelia was a female suffragist. As a man, she more than likely wouldn’t have been too interested. But perhaps Uncle Gard as a female would be more interested!

I really love this idea. What makes it better is that a boy from the target age group would be interested, too! Male fans are already familiar with the characters. This is actually something I would buy! Honestly, knowing the kind of fan I am, I wouldn’t consider the above options quite as interesting as this one!

However, reader Raygirl also makes some good points. While this would be a wildly popular idea, the time it takes to create these boys would greatly interfere with making new Beforever characters. Though they have already researched the times, they would have to learn a little more about boys in these time periods. It may not take three years, but it may take some time. They would have to hire writers to recreate the two volumes. Then the time and money it takes to manufacture these dolls! It took American Girl a little over 20 years to build the brand to where it is today.

Unfortunately, male dolls will only be made for the current Beforever characters, and not the archived ones like Molly, Felicity, Kirsten, Marie-Grace, and Cecile. 😦 That makes me dislike this idea more. And this would prevent archival as they try to sell the boys in enough time. This means it would stop them from creating new Beforever characters.

Reader Ashley Allegretti also mentioned that hearing the stories over again would be a little “dry”.

Still, this is the only idea I would actually support. Maybe when they’ve run out of ideas for the main Beforever line, they could start designing for a male version. Or they can make the boy dolls look like the current Beforever girls, but give them all-new stories. Still, we’re running into the issues we discussed above with American Boys in an all-new line…

To wrap this up, what do readers think? Do you think an American Boy doll is a good idea? If so, which option above sounds like the best one? If you don’t like the idea, share why you don’t!

Search up ideas for American Boy dolls!

 

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