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The Toy Zeigeist

in Meatspace
There is love everywhere, I already know
DapperMan's back you nerds.

Well, not in the same sense. This thread isn't primarily (or even secondari...ly) for toy reviews, but I generally always have things to say about toys new and old. This is where I'll put such thoughts.

To reiterate a few things I've said before; I'm always apprehensive about starting new threads on here, but I think my track record so far has actually been pretty good! I might not continue them in infinite perpetuity, but they last long and I manage to break second pages often!

In addition, I have always wanted to make sure that one day, I'll look back and find that I've collected nearly all of something really cool. That's how I feel about my retro Bakugan collection. When I buy stuff myself, I'll mention it here, but I'll try and make pictures baie few and far between.

*baie means very in Afrikaans and it's creeping into my day to day language very quickly
*I'll probably add a thread header to either this post or the next when I come up with a good idea for it

Comments

  • edited 2020-11-20 11:04:33
    There is love everywhere, I already know
  • edited 2020-11-20 11:04:57
    There is love everywhere, I already know
  • edited 2020-11-20 11:05:25
    There is love everywhere, I already know
  • edited 2020-11-20 11:05:42
    There is love everywhere, I already know
  • edited 2020-11-20 11:06:05
    There is love everywhere, I already know
  • edited 2020-11-23 06:21:44
    There is love everywhere, I already know
    Hairdorables

    Just Play used to be one of these B-list toy companies that mostly made licensed toys for others. Their main business seemed to be making toys tangentially related to Barbie that Mattel themselves weren't too concerned with, such as the Large-Scale/Child-Sized My Best Friend Barbies for various Barbie projects as well as the Barbie Pets line of flocked little animals.

    I'd have never guessed that, one day, Just Play would release their own extremely successful line of dolls.

    QJdqSHz.jpg

    Hairdorables came onto the market during the part of the surprise toy boom that was close to the decline we see now, but was still squarely in the "blind-pack it=success" era. The first line -packaged in cardboard boxes- came in three variations of twelve characters. I thought there were only eight, but if there are twelve my frequent confusing of one of the girls for another makes a lot more sense.

    Despite being blind-packaged and quite tiny, these are indeed dolls. When somebody says "doll" to me, I always think "hair and removable fabric clothing" and if I were to push I'd say at least 5 points of articulation (neck joint, two arm joints at the shoulder and two leg joints at the hips). L.O.L. dolls are cute, but they really aren't dolls.

    To be fair, I do consider Fashion Polly! Polly Pocket dolls, and they usually have gummy plastic clothing and plastic hair (not always, but usually). I probably shouldn't.

    One thing I always found annoying about Hairdorables was the ridiculous number of dolls in each line. The first line included a whopping 36 dolls across the same wave.

    8xS8yYg.jpg

    The initial lines of L.O.L. Surprise! included 24 or so dolls but split across two waves. Nowadays the lines are 10-12 dolls. The first collection of Hairdorables was 36 dolls, and -as dolls- they are packed in cases of six rather than how L.O.L. dolls are packed in cases of 20 or so. Granted, they are much smaller.

    Anyways, the initial run of Hairdorables faced a lot of duplicates because boxes were run to a set pattern and so if a store happened to have 4 copies of one box, that's 4 copies of 6 dolls across them and buying multiples becomes a nightmare.

    This seems to have been fixed, with boxes now being randomized, but I still don't think something as big and relatively expensive (they're in the Premium L.O.L. price-range) should have a spread that's so wide. The second series, which was possibly rushed, dropped from 36 to 26, but the third series climbed up to 39 and the fourth which introduced the two variant boxes also has 39 dolls.

    I don't know if the variant boxes actually include different dolls so you can at least try not to get duplicates after a while, but I'll assume so.

    The backstory behind Hairdorables is that they (being tiny girls with an insane amount of hair) posted hair tutorial videos on main character Noah's (blonde/blue hair one) YouTube channel and so they became like... YouTube famous. Nobody really cares. We're here for the dolls man!

    The Hairdorables line started out with random variations of each doll, but starting with the third series they started to have a few themes per line:
    • Series 3: A School Dance Line (always a favorite of mine), a "Glamping" line (Glam Camping, which was once an actual thing when it started out 10 years ago in the UK but now it's just embarrassingly done as a concept), and a Slumber Party line
    • Series 4: a "Carnival" line (which included both performer-style outfits and spectator looks), a Garden Party line, and a Beach Party line (another favorite)
    • Series 5: Another Smaller Line with only 26 dolls, so two variations for most characters (some only got one) Masquerade Dance Through The Ages (a school dance but with costumey looks from throughout history), and After School looks

    Series 3 was also the "Hair Play" series, where each doll came with a clip-on extension that you could style with a plastic "tool" (a form of play that I hear is always disappointing). Series 4 was the "Scented Series" where the dolls hair was treated with various (unknown) chemicals to make it smell like sweet things, whilst series 5 featured clip-on extensions with "Hair Art" on them (I've heard the screen printing makes this hair really stiff).

    Series 4 also introduced three new characters; Emily, Phoebe, and Saige. Emily is yet another "artist" (I think the other artist one is uh... Sallee?), but she's more "graphic" (ie lots of geometric shapes). Phoebe is a filmmaker, and Saige is a woo-woo hippy girl.

    One thing that really stopped me getting into Hairdorables initially is that I hated their face sculpts with the thin lips. The closed mouth mold creeped me out, and the open mouth mold belongs in a horror movie about serial killers.

    However, Series 3 really redeemed the line with the duckface mold, which I personally quite love. It seems the open-mouth mold was also softened at some point, making it much less serial killer inspired.

    hGEjNcY.jpg

    The faces left-to-right; open-mouth (Cinema/Carnival Phoebe), duckface (Garden Party Saige), and thin-lips (Beach Party Bella).

    Case in point about the thin lips, Saige with the closed mouth just does not look right;

    TIaBRo4.jpg

    Aside from the main line of Hairdorables dolls, there's a line of "little sisters" (how do all these doll characters always have little sisters?) called Hairdorables Shortcuts who look even more deranged than the most open-mouth serial-killer, and a Pets line. Both have lasted two lines, and frankly I hope they never see the light of day ever again.

    There's also Hairdudeables, who are the boy Hairdorables. The first two lines of Hairdudeables, which frankly should really not be a word that exists, came in double packs with the girls, but the latest Series 3 comes in individual packs.

    And, as I've mentioned before, there's Just Play's direct hit on the Barbie line, Hairmazing dolls. Hairmazing so far has released two lines.

    72Ao7Mk.jpg

    The first line was a typical "Here are the Hairdorables all grown up!" line. That is confusing in itself because the Hairdorables, as far as I can see, were already teenagers?

    I guess somebody at Just Play must have thought that there was some sort of "hook" missing with these dolls, a concern that I do not share. You see, I love dolls with giant heads and spindly bodies. To me, they were perfect right out the gate.

    But frankly I do not dislike the giant earrings they all have. More than Hairdorables itself, Hairmazing seems to just be fully ridiculous in every concept it decides to take on. For example, Harmony's multicolored leggings, or Bella's whole... "outfit".

    I find it odd, at times. I think that Hairdorables art is regularly let down by the execution of the dolls, especially when it comes to shoes and hair pieces.

    G5qYYIK.png

    Now, with this new scale to play with, and the arched feet, somehow nobody can figure out how to make killer outfits? The outfits the Hairmazing girls have are super "fun", but fun in an exclusively kitschy way. I'd like to see them do really cool outfits sometime instead.

    The second Hairmazing line is a school dance line called "Prom Perfect".

    u42OV6H.jpg

    Out of the Hairmazing dolls from the second series, I think Dee-Dee and Willow look most cohesive. I love Bella, but that's because she's got some Glam Disco Madonna EAH C.A.Cupid thing going on. Frankly, the rest just don't look right.

    Similarly, I think Noah is supposed to represent SoCal Style, but there have just been too many dolls of her in both scales now that they're segwaying her into some sort of Hawaiian theme instead. Either way, the plastic flower cage is not a good idea.

    fVRd2l7.jpg

    This series also included the first ever Hairmazing boy alongside the Hairmazified Neila. Everybody should take a second and marvel at whatever is going on wth Neila's shoes. Those don't look comfortable in the slightest.

    I don't like the Hairdudemazing face very much, it's very angular and full. Slightly disturbing.

    So, Hairdorables keeps going from strength to strength. The real question will be the lines future longevity. Will I soon enough be discussing Hairdorables Series 9, the Hair Bath-Bomb series? Will more than seven Hairdorables get to the Hairmazifier in time? Only time will tell.
  • there's a line of "little sisters" (how do all these doll characters always have little sisters?) called Hairdorables Shortcuts who look even more deranged than the most open-mouth serial-killer,
    Like this?:
    mj12.jpg
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    They're worse, I assure you;

    R5mJ1Kw.jpg

    Now for a small image dump because there isn't much to say.

    Before there was Cuties, there was the Bratz Babyz Milk Carton reboot;

    oK72qix.jpg

    It's fitting that these came with their faces plastered on milk cartons because that's the fate of genuine children who creepy adults would fantasize about in this fashion.

    In fact I'm not wholly convinced I'm not distributing inflammatory images right now.

    The Bratz Babyz lines from before this ill-thought-out reboot weren't much better, but this was taking things to a very bad extreme.

    Are you a male Hasbro doll? Would you like removable fabric pants instead of molded on perma-pants, even if you're the hero of the story?

    QpF34rj.jpg

    Well, all you need to do is come in a giant multi-pack that runs upwards of $69 dollars!

    uvm6pXS.jpg

    And sometimes they can't help you even then! Poor Will Smith Genie...

    The new Rainbow High animated web-series started!, and it's quite the ambitious project. First up was showing off the first-floor prefects, who make life for our six protagonists a waking nightmare: the "A"s (Aisnley, Avery -ie the doll up there somewhere- and Aidan).

    ESpPoAk.jpg

    I particularly like Aidan's horrid sparkly see-through shirt. All boys in these shows should dress like this.

    TT6JSeW.jpg

    Ainsley is meant to be the "goth" girl of the group, but I guess her eye make-up didn't get the memo. I know Avery's hair is meant to be fabulous and tinsel-tastic, but the CG of it looks quite something.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    There's a lot I want to cover, but I guess I'll start with the most recent thing that caught my attention.

    Gwen Stefani is a pop star who used to be in No Doubt and released a whole bunch of great songs from the early 00s, but she isn't exactly who you'd expect a doll line from.

    Though there were early signs; her music video for Rich Girl (2004) featured several Bratz dolls. MGA responded to in kind with the pirate-inspired Bratz Treasurez collection (2005, yes I checked).

    Despite that, she managed to get two whole doll lines off the ground!

    The former I probably heard about at the time it was released, but then immediately forgot about.

    It was the Love... Angel... Music... Baby... (ie L.A.M.B.) collection, exclusively available at Target stores across America. Stefani's fashion brand, L.A.M.B., was also a thing at the time (I have no idea if it was a success or not), and these dolls seemed to be an extension of that.

    L.A.M.B. seems to stand for a lot of things in the Stefani world. It's the name of her first album, as well as the monikers of her beloved Harajuku Girl dancers. The backstory is that they're a squad of dancing girls from Japan, and after five seconds of Wikipedia research this mostly checks out. "Angel" ie Jennifer Kita, is of Japanese descent, but is American.

    veilGTr.jpg

    Here is a collage of the various L.A.M.B. collection dolls, most of which are Gwen herself, whilst four are the L.A.M.B. girls. The Gwen dolls look to me like Bratz if they were Courtney Love after a wild night of ehh... Playmobil Sugar, whereas the faces on the Harajuku girls are pretty cute.

    The line, like many celebrity projects that strike whilst the iron is hot, came and went. It' wasn't popular or notable in any real regard, I'd say.

    Yet Gwen (or her management team) still didn't give up. She leveraged her brand to create Kuu Kuu Harajuku, a typically wacky cartoon that Nickelodeon (being masters of this sort of thing) immediately shafted to weekend airings exclusively in Australia.

    The premise of the cartoon was that a girl who was not Gwen Stefani named G was the leader of a girl group called HJ5 in a fictional Japanese city called Harajuku. The other girls in the group were "based" on the Harajuku Girls in that they kept the L.A.M.B.-based monikers.

    l2buA2V.jpg

    You see, much like LEGO Friends after it* -but to a more extreme degree-, only one of the Harajuku girls (Love) remained Japanese (or just more generally Asian I guess). I mean, it's possible Angel is Okinawan, but she seems more Native American or something.

    *In case you forgot Olivia became Hispanic after the reboot.

    These dolls were much higher profile and much better quality. Coming after Mattel's fiasco with destroying whatever remained of the goodwill with Ever After High*, they were on my radar immediately. They had good articulation and super adorable faces as well as the best sort of spindly bodies.

    *I don't actually want to write about the Monster High and Ever After High era of Mattel but I guess I could sometime?

    A major USP for these was the massive hair decorations "For You!" that they came with. These could be fitted with charms (image on the far-right) that could be mixed and matched between the doll's headpiece and the one for the child unfortunate enough to be stuck with a giant plastic bow accessory.

    Personally, I always think this sort of thing is dumb and pointless, and it probably drove the costs up despite being unnecessary. Maybe kids like it, iunno.

    As you can see, the Gwen doll is very much inspired by Tick-Tock Gwen. In addition, despite them wearing school uniforms, I don't think they ever went to school.

    I did watch one episode of Kuu Kuu Harajuku, and it was pretty funny too. It involved them being sent to Not North Korea for a concert by their incompetent manager and half the group being hypnotized by state propaganda (I'm not kidding).

    CjhfIgn.jpg

    In addition to the main line of full-scale dolls and fashion packs and hair accessory charm pack things, there was a line of mini-dolls that used snap-on fashions and the same charm mechanic.

    Personally, as a miniature doll enthusiast, I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover these recently. They're very cute and I always love decent customization options at this scale. Some are still available, so my trigger finger has been itching for a few hours now...

    And there you have it, a brief history of Gwen Stefani's two forays into the fashion doll market. Needless to say, Kuu Kuu Harajuku's slow death by poisoned ratings thanks to Nickelodeon did not do wonders for the brand, and it shuttered after a year or so. However, I don't think it would have done much better otherwise. It was a bad time for dolls, just before the end of Monster High and Ever After High and the birth of the monster that was L.O.L. Surprise, and the concept was kind of clunky overall.

    Still, the product was good, and so it should be remembered.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    I've recently acquired Bratz Babyz Hair Flair Yasmin, as well as Cave Club Slate. Yasmin is not of the milk carton variety, but her outfit is pretty tiny despite her also tiny body.

    What struck me about both dolls is the immense size of their heads, especially Slate. Slate's head is probably just the same size as my Ever After High dolls, but after collecting smaller scale things for quite a while now it seems gimongous.

    And surprisingly enough, despite only being a third as tall, Babyz Yasmin's head is bigger!

    I always thought the Bratz Babyz Hair Flair line was originally in the pipeline as the Bratz Babyz Princess line, but the name was changed at some point.

    D9KUgof.jpg

    Regardless, I'm quite blown away by the quality of her packaging (and her hair, it looks great). MGA has always really been Grade A when it comes to packaging.

    I'd like to get Cloe or Meygan from this series too, but that's quite the tall order. That's not even starting on the various other Bratz Babyz or just Bratz in general things that I'd like.

    The only other doll in any feasible reach in terms of Hair Flair is Fianna, and she's sort of just Yasmin in pink.

    I may take pictures when I open her. This is one really big part of toys from the 2000s, so I feel it should be better documented.

    Slate is part of the Cave Club, Mattel's new doll line for this year. It seems to have wowed buyers a bit more that Wild Hearts Crew, which came and went in the span of months and never left the US.

    GiTr2yp.jpg

    From left to right; Tella (Slate's twin sister, the one who likes astronomy), Fernessa (the earth-huggy one), Emberly (the inventor one), Roarlai (the animal lover one), and Slate (the artist one).

    I think Mattel did really well with this line. Great faces, crimped hair for almost half of them*, and good articulation. I don't quite get the no-shoes, even if they are cavemen, but I bet it keeps production costs way lower than usua.

    *Everybody with curled hair rather than crimped seems to have very bad quality hair, though for now that's just the two incarnations of Fernessa.

    From this line, I'd really like to get both incarnations of Roaralai (her signature and her playset look) and maybe the signature Emberly. Though unlike with Bratz, I'm quite happy with just Slate.

    I think that, like with Mattel's other "under-the-radar" doll line Enchantimals, these will be around quite a while. Though I see a "stripped of articulation" budget release somewhere along the line too.

    I should also mention that whilst Cave Club typically has very cute art, whoever is drawing the comics needs to be fired immediately:

    hDAh8zD.png

    They look like parodies of themselves.

    In other news, the second series of Rainbow High minidolls is being teased, and just like with the first there's a boy I would love to own, Xavier Scarab.

    Xk2sngP.jpg

    He's rightmost second row from the top.

    However, I'm not going to pay for a blind-packaged 1/16 chance of getting him, and that's without accounting for the rarities. He's gold, so he might even be the highest rarity.

    Other highlights in this doll line For Kids include Dahlia Noir (leftmost middle row, named after this) and a purple Japanese-themed one named "Obi Willow".

    There's also yet another "Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz" themed one from an MGA line named "Dorothy Petal" (second left, fourth row from the top). I think L.O.L. Surprise has already done basically every character from The Wizard of Oz at this point. Popular shortpacked character Bhaddie is even based on Griselda the Wicked Witch of the West, and has one of the most packed families in L.O.L. Surprise despite only debuting in Series 5.

    5T2yZ5V.jpg
    I don't actually want to write about the Monster High and Ever After High era of Mattel but I guess I could sometime?

    I was almost spurred on to speed this up for a few hours when I heart chatter about a new Monster High line coming out next year, but it was just typical Mattel PR responses on instagram under a post about Barbie, so who even cares.

    Otherwise, writing about Monster High isn't really a priority for me. After Bratz and before Ever After High, I was slightly ambivalent towards dolls and didn't follow things as much as I used to. Nowadays I'm probably following things even more closely though.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    Of all the toy makers out there, Spin Master is currently my favorite. Based in Canada, they produce lots of smaller scale fun stuff that I can turn my brain off to obsess over. They first caught my attention with Bakugan, but the reasons I like them are far removed from that series nowadays, even with the reboot.

    Since it's coming to an end in it's main form, I should cover their last major franchise; Hatchimals. The franchise recently celebrated it's 5th Anniversary by... ceding it's channel to a new brand! Fun!

    Hatchimals, like most toy brands that hit it big, started out with a Christmas hit. The first ever Hatchimals toys were interactive animatronic toys disguised as plush animals that came in eggs. By "playing" with the egg, the Hatchimal inside would "hatch" out (a process that was quite hit or miss if parents reviews on Amazon, year after year, are to be believed). Once hatched, the Hatchimals -like FurReal* before them- were like any other interactive pet.

    *FurReal is Hasbro's long-running animatronic faux-plush toy brand that also releases new pets every Christmas season.

    But that "hatch" process caught kid's attention, and Hatchimals became the massive hit of Christmas 2016.

    These types of toys don't interest me, so I basically never paid attention and I honestly won't go through the animatronic toys in detail. Frankly, the first ever Hatchimals look kind of stupid:

    fnbHnmk.jpg

    But kids really really liked the hatching, I guess.

    What I will say (from memory) is that every year, new Hatchimals were released around Christmas season (ie usually starting around now in October). The packaging for each egg featured two different looks for one Hatchimal species, usually with one or two sets being store exclusives.

    Hatchimals weren't normal animals or typical mystical creatures. It's main market rival/Goliath in the corner FurReal has experimented with dinosaurs and dragons but they stick to like, puppies and bears mainly.

    Hatchimals all come from a magical land called "Hatchtopia", where all animals have sparkly wings and are almost all mixes of normal animals and birds. There's also weird species like Draggles (Dragons and who knows what) and Unikeets (Unicorn parakeets).

    So, as Hatchimals dominated year after year (well, in 2016 and 2017 really), Spin Master leveraged the brand and the Hatchtopia universe into... well, a lot.

    First came Hatchimals CollEGGtibles, which were miniature (and I mean miniature) variations of the mainline Hatchimals, and this is where the brand expanded exponentially in terms of characters and lore. They come in tiny eggs that have a special sort of paper?/plastic?/iunno over them that you can crush beneath your fingers to "hatch" the mal inside.

    The faces of the eggs were also printed with a special color-change ink that changed from purple to pink with heat. Therefore, you "needed" to rub the heart till it turned pink before "hatching" it with your fingers. Obviously, you didn't need to, and for goodness sakes the paint was very stubborn about changing colors, but it seemed fun enough.

    The Hatchimals CollEGGtibles line was a hit, because it brought the series pricepoint from $60ish to $2-10 (depending on the set), and they sold like hotcakes.

    At first.

    The first two series, along with their various special editions, sold right off the shelves.

    QTPUoHQ.jpg
    Season 3 came along to introduce Hatchimals Twins (who had bobble-heads and came in one egg) and Hatchimals BFFs (who came in separate eggs but could be fitted together for a BFF pose). That was also a success.

    So much of a success that Spin Master really, really overproduced Season 4: Hatch Bright.

    Dc7BCqb.jpg
    Season 4 was a tropical line where almost all the Hatchimals were translucent, so translucent that you could pass light through them to make them seem like they were shining. It featured 80 CollEGGtibles and over 19 locations in Hatchtopia.

    This was also when Spin Master's social media machine poured a whole bunch of money into the line, creating at least three separate webseries featuring a whole cast of influencer-type girls.

    So Season 4 sat on shelves, and continues to till this day. Even selling masses to discount stores in giant packaging doesn't seem to be helping alleviate the planet of this massive overproduction of tiny plastic figurines.

    xPwWRrt.jpg

    Of course, Spin Master didn't course correct right away, which meant that somehow, Season 5: Mermal Magic, was the most overhyped series the line had seen yet.

    Mermal Magic featured the typical Hatchimals as mermaids, with various color change and water surprise features. It had many professional unboxing videos paid for by Spin Master's in house marketing (there were even seperate videos for separate playsets).

    However, after Season 5's glut and Season 4's insistence on shelfwarming, they seemed to finally get it.

    I should mention that Season 5 is also when yet another subseries was introduced; Hatchimals Pixies.

    Hatchimals Pixies was born to compete with competitor collectible doll brands like the one I think everybody knows by now so won't bother mentioning.

    They came in GIANT packaging and GIANT eggs and were still remarkably tiny.

    Hz36Yiw.jpg

    The Pixies also lived in Hatchtopia and came from the same places as the Hatchimals.

    I think Hatchimals Pixies is a pretty interesting evolution. The second series of Pixies, which was poorly distributed everywhere except somehow here (because Spin Master loves us for reasons unknown), featured the doe-eyed 50s inspired Pixies shunning their simplistic way of not wearing shoes and generally being One With Nature and donning royal regalia to celebrate themselves as being super pretty.

    They coincided with Season 6 of the Hatchimals CollEGGtibles, which was the Royal Snow Ball collection. The Royal Snow Ball collection, trying to avoid the fate of Series 4, split itself across two waves; the Royal Hatch and then the Royal Snow Ball. Aside from packaging and the shifting of how limited editions were determined via egg color, there was no reason for the split aside from trying to convince store buyers that yes, they were buying two products that would shelfwarm, and not just one, and that would look better to some degree.

    Few Pixies survived the transition from tree-hugger to monarchy; Wishing Star Willow (gold hair), Crystal Cassie (dark purple hair, gained a gold highlight in the second series), Piper (rightmost in the top row of the first series image), and Gracie (leftmost in the bottom row of the first series image, gains a giant yellow highlight in the second).

    Wishing Star Willow came from Wishing Star Waterfall, Cyrstal Cassie from Crystal Canyon, Polar Piper from Polar somethingorother, Glittering Gracie came from Glittering Garden. Despite the brand being so big, cross-reference information ie the names of Pixies from season to season as well as where they're from is extremely hard to come by.

    Somehow, these didn't appeal to children. I mean, who would have guessed with those vaguely baby/vaguely 50s bombshell faces.

    So it was time for a revamp.

    qZcTOSk.jpg

    Here, we have the Hatchimals Pixies Vacay Style collection, which coincided with the Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Season 7, Pet Obsessed. In both series, the Hatchimals, having realized how irrelevant their brand homeland of Hatchtopia had become, visit Earth.

    The Pixies go on Vacation, and the Hatchimals rip off Littlest Pet Shop.

    Yes, despite the Hatchimals being animals themselves, they make Earth animals subservient to them (to be fair, the Hatchimals do have sentience). This series featured Hatchy 'Hearts' rather than Eggs, so both Hatchimal and it's pet could inhabit one Hatching Pod.

    omf3kL1.jpg

    And now, I realize why I've been putting this post off for so long! It's way too much ground to cover at once.

    For now, I think this is a good stopping point.
  • edited 2020-10-12 16:27:19
    There is love everywhere, I already know
    Before I go on, I should mention that at some point between the Pixies revamp and CollEGGtibles season 7, Hatchimals released a plush collection of toys known as Hatchtopia Life.

    These were mini plush toys, about a hair taller than the Pixies. Because if there's one thing Spin Master can sell, it's empty space inside packaging.

    SBnLlSC.jpg

    In addition, there was a separate collectible card-game toyline that combined the hatching eggs experience of the CollEGGtibles and Pixies with the new Bakugan card game, that was called Dragamonz, and it lasted two series before it retired.

    Uu7YbTR.jpg
    Pictured; Hatchimals for your cousin who thinks farts are a real joke.

    Hatchtopia Life plush toys came with a mystery code for the newly-introduced Hatchtopia Life mobile game. An additional code was included for your "Best Hatch Friend Forever", so that they could ensure maximum peer pressure as soon as one kid in a friend group got one. Later on, other toys in the Hatchimals line also started coming with a similar thing.

    As far as I can see, the Hatchtopia Life toys may be done, but the game rakes in cash via microtransactions and so it'll probably continue with codes being inserted into toys for quite a while.

    Anyways, Spin Master had poured a bunch of money into Hatchimals (and even Dragamonz) at this point, creating animated webseries that had gone on for two seasons.

    But the main product of the series, the big Hatching animatronics, were flagging in sales, so they decided to go big.

    Enter the Llamacorn.

    N60fHdy.jpg

    I mean, do I need to explain what this thing did? It seems quite obvious; it had a giant springy neck that stretched out an insane amount, and Spin Master hoped kids would love it.

    Well, last year was also the year of the L.O.L. Surprise Amazing Surprise, which was so hyped up that it's commercial just featured little girls yelling in excitement for 30 seconds rather than prominently featuring any product.

    So yeah, it bombed. So bad that entering another Christmas season it's not rare to see it still available from primary online retailers, and at a 50%+ discount.

    So the brand needed a rework. After shuttering the major production department for their social media videos (something they probably wished they'd waited on until March so they could blame certain circumstances), Spin Master released very few new Hatchimals products.

    In fact, the Vacay Style Pixies were split into two collections; Pink and Purple Passport. Pink Passport Pixies (such positively passionate alliteration!) visited various parts of the globe, whilst the Purple Passport Pixies visited America. The five Purple Passport Pixies came out after the Pink Passport ones are practically impossible to find outside of Amazon's exclusive Pixie 2-Packs.

    Finally, as we hit the end of the first half of the year, Spin Master finally started promoting a new series for the CollEGGtibles and their Pixies. Notably missing is any new animatronic Hatchimals.

    The Pixies and CollEGGtibles came out with Cosmic Candy collections, where they went to space because I guess that's what you do when you're an irrelevant magical creature. Notably, no Pixies returned from the previous collections.

    For both Hatchimals and Pixies, this series marked the first where the majority of the eggs did not "Hatch", but were keepsakes instead, for storage purposes.

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    In addition to the Cosmic Candy collection, Hatchimals Pixies has a new "Riders" collection, featuring giant Hatchimals and some mythology that is poorly explained in a new commercial.

    As far as I'm concerned, after the Pixies decided to give the royalty thing a break and headed to Earth, two factions broke out. The ones who saw Hatchtopia as a lost cause, and the ones who loved their home... realm and wished to return. Those factions are Cosmic Candy and Riders.

    Clearly the Riders are winning the war because they got articulated legs (and I mean giant wild beasts and their beck and call). You'd think the ones who won the space race would be in the lead but nope.

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    There's also a somewhat "secret" collection of Hatchimals Pixies that came out recently. Featuring real hair and magical tails, there's the Hatchimals Pixies Mermaids. It seems these were meant to come out earlier (to coincide with Season 5 maybe?), or their coming out was a production glitch, because they were only released to like one store in Australia and possibly the UK.

    There's a similar thing with a Vacay Style playset, but the Mermaids are more limited.

    And what about the animatronic toys? Well, Spin Master officially unveiled a whole new brand called Present Pets.

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    Whilst, again, I don't care about robot stuffed animals, I look forward to the inevitable mini collectible puppy toys (and maybe their dog groomer friends who also happen to be highly marketable dolls).
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    Lately I've been really taken with a number of action figures, but I don't know if I should invest (heh, "invest") in that direction.

    Some random stuff.

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    I was unaware that Kuu Kuu Harajuku came out with even more spindly basic dolls with much less articulation. They're very cute.

    WJpFcSq.jpg

    Similarly, I didn't know Bratz dolls with elaborate boxes (see the Princess picture higher in the thread) came out with simpler more standard Bratz styled boxes. There were similar ones for Genie Magic.

    And as was talking about Hatchimals CollEGGtibles earlier, I need to mention the best of said mini-Hatchimals; the Aligoo (yes that's the actual name);

    h62O1BI.jpg
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    I finally got round to taking those pictures of Bratz Babyz Yasmin!

    rVCPHUU.jpg

    It's just the outer shots of the box, but I think they're worth noting. I like that the handle to her box features her "icon" (a frog) and also a little guide of what Bratz Babyz products were available so you immediately forget about what you have in your hands to daydream about what could be...

    The art is really weird with these Hair Flair dolls, and a lot of the later Bratz Babyz releases share it, but the art on the booklet -the original art- is pretty good.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    For some reason I only recently watched Polly Pocket: 2 Cool at the Pocket Plaza, which is the only animated Polly Pocket original video animation before the Pollyworld! movie. That movie is still one of my top 10 animated movies based on a fashion doll line.

    I wonder if I should write out that top 10 sometime.

    Archiving post from IJBMU;



    I have just finished watching Polly Pocket: 2 Cool at the Pocket Plaza on a nostalgic lark. It is the first ever animated Polly Pocket special, which introduces her cousin Pia Pocket.

    Finding out that My Scene is just a TV show in the Polly Pocket universe is quite disturbing.

    I also updated my Hairdorables post somewhat, and I'm considering doing the same for my Kuu Kuu Harajuku post.
  • edited 2020-11-24 06:42:34
    There is love everywhere, I already know
    DVaq7KR.jpg
    Polly Pocket is a franchise that spans several iterations and variations, but the two main lines have always been the miniature Polly Pocket playsets that fit inside your pocket and the Fashion Polly! dolls that were introduced by Mattel in the late 90s.

    I've never had much interest in the miniature sets. By the time the inital run ended, I was probably too young to care about toys. However, I quickly took an interest in Fashion Polly after my rides on other Mattel trains such as Barbie and My Scene waned.

    Like My Scene, Fashion Polly remains close to my heart, and I'm quite glad it's remained in production till this day. Also like My Scene, Fashion Polly dolls seem to do well for Mattel in markets outside the US, and so it's hard to get information on what lines are in and out at the moment.

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    An early Fashion Polly set.

    Fashion Polly dolls have a long winding history that is filled with reboot after reboot starting around 2006. The first years were simple enough, here's Polly and her ever-growing catalogue of friends (and cousins, and at one point a sister who thankfully never appeared again), buy their toys.

    Polly Pocket is quite the mini-doll, and she can still indeed fit in your pocket at Fashion size. However, good luck trying to fit one of her playsets and cars with her.

    She's usually dressed in plastic "Polly Stretch'' clothing, and this is one of my favorite things about her. Fabric clothing has no shape or personality when it isn't draped on a doll, but Polly Stretch clothing can strike it's own poses and make a statement in your imagination. It makes it fun to just look at them.

    Sure, there are dark ages when the Polly Stretch is abandoned for Quik-Clik pieces that are hard plastic and snap together. Those can be nice to look at, but they end up being boxy or just outright strange. They also just don't feel as nice as Polly Stretch material.


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    Quik-Clik Lila smiles through the embarrassment.

    Polly's hair is usually hard-plastic, but sometimes an overzealous Mattel executive gets the idea to give her 'real' hair and at her scale it's never that great. Worse still are the boys who get hair, they look quite weird after years of wear and tear.

    Fashion Polly's first ever friends were Lila and Shani, and the current 2018 iteration maintains those namesakes. Though Lila has undergone a makeover and now looks like Lea, whilst keeping her original fashion-obsessed personality. Shani also kept her love of music, but gained a pair of glasses and some STEM interests since that's what's in nowadays.

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    Lila... you look... different...

    Polly's never fail male companion was once a blond boy who vaguely looked like her brother due to everybody's sameface named Rick.

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    Flower Power Rick, who actually existed.

    Nevertheless, they were romantically paired at points in a vague way, though Polly briefly broke up with him to date 'Drew'. Much like Barbie broke up with Ken to date Blaine.On the bright side, at least Drew was a brunette, both Ken and Blaine are practically the same shade of blonde.

    9hrUcEu.jpg
    Drew was also a victim of the "Real Hair!" craze.

    I'm assuming Rick sought solace in the fact that the new boy shared a name with a Barbie Fashion Fever friend.

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    The one and only Drew is not amused.

    One thing that began to differentiate Polly from her more popular successful peers such as Barbie and My Scene's Kennedy was her love of adventure. Around 2006/7, just before the first reboot, Polly was portrayed in her various media as being fun-loving and adventurous.

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    At this time, Polly had dumped short-term friend Ana ("Nobody ever liked her anyways," says Beth, probably.) and was hanging out with quite the large crew consisting of Lila, Shani, Crissy, Lea, Rick and Rick's only male friend as well as Lila's sometimes boyfriend Todd. At some point, there was also another Ana/Lila/Crissy look alike called Kerstie. She lasted longer than Ana, but not by long.

    In both the 2 Cool at the Pocket Plaza special DVD and Pollyworld! movie, Polly had a rival named Beth who was unfortunately never made into a doll.

    U5KeybQ.jpg
    Beth (centre) and her two friends.

    The Barbie Diaries movie got Raquelle made into a doll and then she became a Barbie mainstay for at least a decade and a half (albeit after a reboot that made her vaguely Italian or Asian depending on the year), why couldn't Beth get the same amount of love?

    Polly's friends frequently came off as samey and I spent a lot of my youth confusing Lila for Crissy and vice-versa because they were both brunettes. It didn't even get better once Crissy became Hispanic.

    The first real Polly Pocket reboot, I'd say, was when it all became about Sparklin' Pets in 2007/8. Of course, pet lines were a mainstay in Pollyla-world before, but Sparklin' Pets took it to another level. Polly herself seemed to be taking a sidestep (with her rooted hair, yes it was one of those times) to the pets, and whole waves of tiny pet toys were released that didn't come with dolls.

    uLMWh0H.jpg

    There were even blind-bags that just came with pets as if Mattel genuinely though copying Littlest Pet Shop was a good idea! I actually don't know how popular Littlest Pet Shop was back then, because I've never been a fan (though I did get a bit engrossed after the G6 reboot and finding this site) but maybe this was some sort of follow-the-leader type deal.

    m1trs5Q.jpg
    Pictured: No Polly at all.

    After that brief period that we should all forget, Mattel released a limited number of sets under the Polly Pocket Pop n Swap banner in 2009. They acted like Off the Hook dolls, with body parts being switchable across the line. These seemed to have been pulled for some reason, rather than allowed to fail on the market.

    goAuHDO.jpg

    Shame, because I'd even forgive the miniature rooted hair for these. They were pretty cute.

    Polly came back in late 2010 with a whole new face and vibrant 3DCG look and world. However, they hadn't abandoned the pets concept yet.

    The 2010 reboot featured Polly and her gaggle of makes (minus poor Todd who hasn't been seen since) traversing magical lands they had access to in some unknown manner. The worlds were:
    • 'Electropop World', a music themed affair
    • 'Goodie World', a somewhat typical candyland
    • 'Splashtopia', apparently not a world? Anyways, they all became mermaids there, usually
    • 'Garden World', quite obvious, except I think they were all Thumbelina sized or something
    • And obviously, 'Pollyworld' for all the miscellaneous non-other-world toy releases for that year

    TsxJf9L.jpg
    Pollyworld, Goodie World, and Splashtopia.

    Each world was inhabited by animal/object hybrids known as Cutants, most of which looked like they came right out of your nightmares.

    Still, they trucked on releasing Cutants, even going as far as to release them in solo packs without Polly. Most are still available ten years later, which tells you exactly why they should have never existed in the first place.

    ggH33G0.jpg

    The Polly In The Worlds years spanned several 3DCG cartoons and faces, most of which were fine except for the most-often used one (pictured above) that made everybody in the Polly Pocket universe look like they had been crying their eyes out for days.

    I hated this face with a passion, and I also disliked what happened to Polly in these years. She was treated, along with her action-adventure theming, like an action figure. Dolls frequently didn't come with separate clothing as they opted for painted on looks, there were a disturbing number of color change features in every other line, and my goodness have I mentioned the face?

    c6kLfbF.jpg
    We all must endure the face.

    After a while, the Cutants were dropped, but the line remained stale outside of a few releases where the team at Mattel regained their sanity and released a cute doll with Polly Stretch clothing. Around 2016, everything I loved about Polly Pocket came back wholesale with a really great face, but interest in the line seemed dead (outside of Japan for some reason).

    DS6hqhi.jpg
    Pictured: A super great set. And is that... Todd, in the background???

    As the line started to fizzle, Mattel decided it was time for yet another reboot around 2018. This one is mainly focused on the 20 year old concept of the playsets that fit in your pocket, but thankfully still includes Fashion Polly dolls.

    In the 2018 reboot, Rick was replaced with a boy called Nicholas, whilst Lea and Crissy were dropped entirely.

    D9utk65.jpg
    Lila, Nicholas, Polly, and Shani.

    As much as I loved Rick, Nicholas is a pretty solid addition to the Polly Pocket world too. If only he and Rick could coexist...

    RRxVauu.jpg

    The 2018 reboot has been quite bountiful in releases for Fashion Polly dolls, but the actual releases are hard to come by online and collect information on unless the product just reaches where you are physically.

    As much as I like the reboot lineup, I think the return of Crissy or a similar brunette would be greatly appreciated to the Fashion Polly world. Collecting the same four dolls over and over can get a bit much.

    But half the fun of this hobby is the chase, and the information that's just out there somewhere that you have to find. Most of all, I'm glad that the line goes on!
  • edited 2020-12-10 12:52:31
    There is love everywhere, I already know
    I've been up to my old habits lately, trawling the internet for pictures of old toys.

    I have a number of doozies to file under Bratz.

    This box looks fine and dandy with not much to comment on until you notice Dylan's pose in the artwork!

    o9hThUp.jpg

    Is he actually trying to preserve his modesty or something? It's super cute. Too bad actual Dylan isn't articulated enough to replicate it.

    Lslu1eB.jpg

    The first year of Bratz Boyz saw a slew of fashion packs released to go along with them, and this was Cade's.

    I'm not exactly sure why Cade wants to look slammin' (it's a Bratz word I assure you) for his 'Boyz' at like 11:30PM or whatever, and why are teenage boys visiting each other regularly at this hour anyways (enough for Cade to even start dressing up)?

    Plus, in the artwork, is Cade trying to pickpocket Koby? What's going on guys?

    In even more inappropriate Bratz content;

    sPPCDcP.jpg

    I have absolutely no idea how a line about the Bratz moving to Las Vegas to become Pussycat Dolls or burlesque dancers of another sort (or I mean, streetwalkers) got approval but it did.

    I mean, the art alone is a lot. When I was a kid, I did genuinely think people who talked about Bratz being "inappropriate" were just "uncool" but now I really do see it.

    Not that I wouldn't buy this doll if she didn't cost like $100 nowadays.

    V6UhOA5.jpg

    I'll finish off with a Bratz doll that really captured my imagination as a kid (and is now wildly expensive); Sweet Dreamz Pajama Party Kumi. I was really into light blue back then. And she was Japanese too. Just like in the animes!

    I think oddly enough the only Kumi made aside from this was from the Ooh La La Paris line, and I've probably mentioned before that the deluxe doll from the Tokyo A-Go-Go line was Chinese rather than Japanese.

    I have no idea why she's wearing a scarf to a sleepover.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    jH8eTjs.jpg

    Yeah, I don't know either.

    This seems to be a new direction for the Disney Princess minis. No more Royal Clips, which I'm glad about despite the line's short run when compared to Little Kingdom. I think I'll try to get my hands on this after the rush of the Christmas season.

    You've probably guessed by now that this isn't a massive motorized Cinderella cake.

    fQGZmcn.jpg

    It opens up into a playset! I'm pretty sure that this is her Royal Clips face, but the body seems different. She even has separate shoes now which seems iffy considering how tiny those would be.

    As always; I like the doll and fashions but could do without the massively weird playset.
  • For a minute I thought that skirt was supposed to be some kind of bird cage.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    That would be a cool idea for a music video or something.

    Since Cinderella is only the first, it's possible that Belle's set will be centered around a rose and that might sort of look like a birdcage.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    So when I'm looking through stuff, I usually come across a new, stupid form of Monopoly. Hasbro has been milking Monopoly constantly with new editions, but it's usually not a big enough deal to gawk at for more than two moments.

    Until I found something new on Hasbro's site; Monopoly merchandise that costs a fortune!

    qyFbxHK.png

    Putting together this outfit that barely looks Monopoly related costs almost $500.

    I'm not sure who this is aimed at, because I've seen less expensive lounge sets that are a million times more stylish than this green/orange/pink nightmare on Saks Fifth Avenue's site for at least $200 less, and those were like, designer. Ralph Lauren, sure, but still more designer than the Monopoly guy.

    There's also drawstring lounge pants;

    Klr4rYx.png

    And a $500+ set of snowboards?

    JQ8KPA7.jpg

    In terms of regular Monopoly ridiculousness, there's quite a bit.

    JQ8KPA7.jpg

    BLACKPINK Monopoly, for when you want to convince your teen daughter to play Monopoly because it's cool but she's not buying it unless K-pop is involved.

    Possibly also a reference to how Korean Business Empires that own showbusiness companies that own (quite literally contractually own) groups like BLACKPINK operate.

    Z85BKEq.jpg

    My Hero Academia Monopoly, because nothing says justice like screwing all your fellow players over.

    ICAsycz.jpg

    Unicorns vs Llamas Monopoly, when you want to destroy a young child's fascination with stupid candy-colored things promoted heavily by marketers by associating them with a game in which morality is malleable.

    UwYFMvP.jpg

    In which Hasbro decides the only way to show women how #bossgirl they are is by preemptively and severely nerfing male players.

    kqOoseR.jpg

    Yeah, I was also confused by this one. It's apparently quite anti-socialist (and anti-vegan and so on).

    It sounds harder (if not outright impossible) to win than normal.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    Back to Cinderella; this line is called, Disney Princess Secret Styles. Cinderella's set is called the Cinderella Story Skirt.

    Which should not be confused with Hasbro's other Cinderella's Story Skirt;

    11pToLo.jpg

    This doll had a skirt that changed color when water was applied to the white bit, showing off a scene from the movie.

    pTJ68uT.jpg

    The packaging seems weird, as if Hasbro's commitment to eco-friendliness has led them into a bunch of bad decisions. I'm assuming that kids really like to see what they're getting in the box (which makes the popularity of something like L.O.L. Surprise confusing) but it'd be unwieldy if it were all included in the skirt, so there's a separate box of stuff to the side.

    I'd really prefer it if Cinderella were encased in a plastic shell to protect her as is typically done. I mean, she's already made of plastic and Hasbro's whole business model is expending our limited hydrocarbon supply to sell us hunks of plastic so a bit more won't really concern me (in fact I'd much prefer it). Plus, the protective shell would basically be the equivalent of a disposable plastic lunch or fruit tray, which we expend daily.

    If they keep insisting on mostly cardboard packaging, then just stick Cinderella in there too with a picture of her on the outer box.

    I guess since these days things are mostly online she'll just be shipped in a protective outer box but it makes getting her at retail a much less appealing, not to mention finding her in mint condition in 10 years time will be impossible.
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