Saturday, 2 November 2013

Monster High Doll Review: Music Festival Abbey Bominable, CAM Mummy and Gorgon set

Or: Meet my girls.

I love Monster High. When I was a kidlet we never had anything so engaging to play with, the fashion dolls I got were Barbies and Sindys, despite the fact that my mother never liked them much. My strongest memory involving a Barbie was the time I bought one just so I could chop off her hair, dress her in army gear and have her go on missions with my brother's Action Men. Monster High would have delighted my weird little heart.

The premise is that these are the children (sometimes the creations or the adoptive children, whatever) of the classic monsters, and they are all going to Monster High. They have delightfully awful punny names and are generally surrounded by sometimes surprisingly clever humour (the son of the Invisible Man, Invisibilly, has as a pet a box that may or may not contain a cat. See what they did there?). The point is that someone at Mattel is clearly having a LOT of fun.

And a LOT of kids are buying these things - they might be monstrous but the characters have a lot more personality and are a lot more easy to identify with than Barbie on her pink pillar in Malibu. In the web series and movies (you can find the series here), they deal with high school and friendship issues more than monster things, and have so far tackled an impressive number of important issues, like bullying, disability discrimination, racial hatred and sexism. And very importantly, all the characters are very different, and all very cool. One of the central messages, like that of MLP:FIM, is that there is no wrong way to be a girl.

They're also very well-made dolls - most have eleven points of articulation where your standard Barbie only has five, their hands come off at the elbow and wrist to make them easier to dress, and each character has her own face mould. This is an impressive number of different face shapes, and it's made them very popular with the BJD artists, especially since previously, you'd have to lay out £150 for a Blythe or a Pullip. Those are still very popular, and I personally make yearning keening noises when I see Momoko dolls, but unfortunately I don't have £200 to throw around.

I spent £45. Let's see what it got me.

This is Music Festival Abbey Bominable.
Abbey is easily my favourite of all the MH characters. She's the daughter of the yeti, and in the webisodes she has a Russian accent, English as a second language, is noticeably bigger than all her peers and one of the first things you see her do is suplex a charging minotaur. At one point she and a few of her friends get captured under the school, until she basically gets bored with this and breaks them out. Abbey takes no nonsense from anyone. I love Abbey.

So here she is at a music festival, because the First Wave Abbeys, with the outfit you see in the webisodes, are apparently like gold dust and I take what I can get. She and the other few dolls (Clawdeen Wolf, Venus McFlytrap and a Draculaura and Clawd Wolf double set) are all dressed up to represent their favourite kind of music and I personally thought Abbey was a heavy metal kind of girl, but no, she likes sixties pop. So she gets a head ribbon and a miniskirt and tall boots, and very nice it looks too. 

Those little pink things on her boots come off, and I've been leaving them off because I like them that way. She also has a VIM (Very Important Monster) backstage pass, and an ice belt in lieu of the necklace that's supposed to keep her cold enough. Her earrings are the same as the First Wave, and it doesn't look like it, but they're actually angled so that if you switch them, it looks really strange. That blue snowflake definitely goes on the right.

The only thing I'm not happy about with this particular iteration of Abbey is the bangs. The webisode version has her hair swept straight back from the forehead and I prefer it that way, but that's personal preference and no big deal. I am happy that she doesn't have the sparklies in her hair that First Wave Abbey does, because that means that should I ever need to, I can boil wash her hair. 

I'd had Abbey for a little while, and made a very amatuerish dressing gown for her, and I was starting to realise that her hair would tangle faster if I kept handling her in order to fit her clothes. And then I heard about the CAM dolls, and I thought, 'hm, not only do I not have to have the hair on the doll while I fit the clothes, I can, say, make shoes on just a leg without having to muck around with an entire doll - wow, convenient!'

There is usually only one wig in a CAM set, so I wanted one of the ones that also came with a plastic headpiece so that both dolls could have hair when on display. That basically left me with one choice, since the other one is the Blob/Ice girl set, which has a blue and pink colour scheme, and Abbey's colour scheme is blue, pink, black and white with a few other pastels and I don't want to be stuck with nursery colours the whole time. So I got the Gorgon/Mummy set.

Here's the mummy. As you see, she's grey and gold, as opposed to the warm brown of both the De Nile girls of the official line-up, and her hair is purple with a black streak. It's a wig, and it has a plastic post that fits into a hole on the back of her head. I'd heard that these things could be a bit ratty when they arrived mail order, but this one was fine. I like her eyes, they're very turquoise. CAM dolls don't have names, so I named her Isis Von Thebes.

And here's the gorgon. Quick, better put some shades on her before she turns someone to stone.

I named her Petra Fikkaros. Am I good at monster puns? I think I am. Petra's hair is a plastic headpiece, it doesn't have a post and I wish it did, because it slips around something awful. Also, the snake ponytail turns around, so she has one more point of articulation than the others. 
CAM sets come with only one pair of shoes and one doll stand, but that's OK, because these dolls have been living in my glass-fronted bookcase, sitting on my Discworld books. And MH dolls, despite their very steeply slanted feet, do actually stand alone when wearing the factory shoes!

Anyway, let's compare them!
Here they all are - and it's already clear how different they are. Aside from the colours and textures (Abbey has a faint sparkle glaze, Isis has little flakes of gold all over her body) and the fact that they have three different kinds of hair (wig, plastic hairpiece and rooted) it's clear that face and body moulds are different for all three dolls. Hand moulds are different too, Abbey has little claws, Isis doesn't but she has a different pose, and Petra has (gasp) gripping hands. The CAM dolls come apart at the knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist, neck and wig, and you can mix and match them, and match them with other CAM sets. As I said, Abbey's hands come off at elbow and wrist, but the posts and sockets are finer than those of the CAM dolls and so they're not compatible.

 So here's Abbey's profile in close-up. She has easily the strongest jaw of any of the MH girls, even a bit of an underbite to accommodate those tusks (I love those tusks). It makes her one of the easiest to recognise if a MH doll has been repainted into a OOAK (along with Spectra Vondergeist with her knife-edge cheekbones and the rather fish-faced Lagoona Blue). It's just occurred to me right now that the underbite, along with the very deep bridge to her nose, actually gives her kind of a muzzle. Which is pretty fitting, for a yeti. Her ears, obviously, are pierced and this picture doesn't show it (boo me) but they come to a point at the tip.

And now Isis. Her ears are not pierced or pointed, and she has a rounded, dignified face that it's very easy to imagine on a papyrus surrounded by heiroglyphs, although possibly with less lipstick. She looks like royalty, but let's be clear, here: definitely not European royalty. These are not Latin features. She has relatively high cheekbones and a broad, defined jaw (not compared to Abbey, of course. Abbey's got a jaw like a brick) and the bridge of her nose makes that lovely smooth arc from her forehead towards her mouth. Oh, and she's got dimples, not that that means anything. I love Isis's face.

And now Petra. Petra has a very snakey face with hardly any nose at all! Her cheekbones come out at the sides and make her face kind of angular, and her lips are noticeably less plump than either of the others. Her eyes are greeny-yellow and slitted, and yet still they somehow managed to make her very sweet-faced. Maybe the tilt of her eyes gives her a hopeful expression, I don't know, but her expression made her endearing right out of the box to me. You can see that Petra doesn't have any ears, although the headpiece allows for them in case I wanted to use it on, say, Isis. You can put the headpiece on either way up, and each way gives a different hairline.

The difference in the neck construction between the CAM dolls and Abbey means that Abbey has a much wider range of neck movement - the CAM dolls can only really look left to right.
'I think I am hearink end of post...'

Ah, that time already.
Well, I'll show you some of the clothes I've been making next time.

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