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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


  • edited 2020-09-20 09:52:45
    There is love everywhere, I already know


    So you guys all know I follow the L.O.L. Surprise franchise pretty closely, and a few important things are happening with it right now.

    It's currently the #Remix season, and pre-sales of the three main Remix series started a few days ago, with the prequisite YouTube video event coming up on the 26th. This time around, there'll be 360 degree video for some reason. I don't get the point of that but sure!

    So the three main Remix series are the main Tots, the Pets, and the O.M.G. dolls. I don't understand how L.O.L. Pets continue to exist, in the same vein that I don't understand why Hasbro's long-running Littlest Pet Shop line of toys still exists. With L.O.L., you expect that kids like the humanoid(ish, I mean, the eyes) dolls and so they'd collect those.

    In fact, L.O.L. pets have always felt throwaway to me. It's almost always cats, dogs, unrecognizable birds and hamsters, sometimes fitted with terrible, tiny patches of rooted hair and obviously the signature soulless eyes. The eyes look 73% more soulless on the Pets than any other L.O.L. product.

    This series of L.O.L. Surprise Pets includes a weird number of pets with outfits that have false hands. That creeps me out quite a bit.


    I find it funny that as soon as L.O.L. Surprise worked out a recycling deal with Terracycle and started using paper packaging on most of their products, they decide to pump the Remix packaging full of electronics so it can "play music".

    Thanks to our friends the toy influencers, we now know that these musical tidbits are less than ten seconds long on each product, so that's not even worth it.

    There are 12 (mini? I guess) dolls in the main L.O.L. Remix line, and there's no hint of a second wave. It seems L.O.L. has given up on second waves for the main series after #Hairvibes bombed, but other lines will still have more waves obviously, like Boys and the All Stars line.

    I don't have much to say about the Outrageous Millennial Girls dolls. It's funny, because I'm not very interested in the Tots, but the O.M.G.s interest me even less, yet doll collectors go ga-ga for them. Funnily enough, as soon as Remix was on pre-order the
    next Winter line was "leaked".

    The O.M.G. Remix dolls are the first line to come with two outfits (but one pair of shoes because millennials are suddenly very economical?), and the advertising gimmick is that you can "Remix" one of the four dolls with her BFF (one of the other dolls) to create her "complete looks", ie probably the best way I've seen to make kids buy at least two.

    Remix is probably the height of prices in terms of O.M.G., aside from the main four dolls, there's a four doll megapack that's going for in excess off $140 dollars. I understand a Christmas big hitter, but that just seems mean-spirited.

    More interestingly, O.M.G. dolls all come with underwear because you're meant to dress them yourself, and Lonestar's underwear is kind of taking overt theming to the next level;

  • edited 2020-09-21 05:33:38
    There is love everywhere, I already know
    I wanted to talk about non-MGAE products today, but there's quite an important aspect of their recent stuff I need to get through.

    MGA seemed to have a good go of introducing new IPs this decade, such as L.O.L. and Na!Na!Na! Surprise (plush dolls), so I found it weird when I noticed that two of their brands new for this year were very inspired by old product.

    In one case, it's just similar art. Rainbow High, which is a spinoff of Rainbow Surprise, which itself is a spinoff of Poopsie Slime Surprise (you can see why they'd want to separate the success from such a name) is a new fashion doll line.

    It features girls with Instagram-ready dewy faces and the worst knee joints known to man (a problem that also plagues Barbie Made to Move dolls -I'll discuss BMR1959 specifically later-).

    The line itself is pretty new and fresh, using MGA's hard-won ability to steal copyrighted fashion styles "parody" popular brands to create what I think are some of the best looks in the newly developing fashion doll zeitgeist (Barbie, L.O.L. O.M.G., Hairmazing, #FailFix, and Rainbow High itself).

    But the art is very familiar to me. When I first saw it, I thought "I didn't realize the Moxie Girlz artist still worked at MGA."


    On the left and in the centre is Moxie Girls concept art featuring the four main characters Avery, Sophina, Briam and Lexa. On the right; Rainbow High concept art for Avery Styles.

    Though the eyes have received a major upgrade and the bodies are tinier, the noses and lip styles are almost identical. I wonder if this designer has been working on the Poopsie line this whole time. I feel like going from dolls, however basic Moxie Girlz was, to Pooping Llamas is a major step down.


    A better image I made up featuring higher res images of the Moxie Girlz, but with less of the "stylization" applied to them. The art featured on boxes featured much more stylization.

    As you might have noticed, there was an "Avery" in Moxie Girlz and now there's one in Rainbow High. Rainbow High also features a doll called Jade, which is a moniker of one of MGA's most famous doll characters ever; the Bratz doll.

    Similarly, MGA recently debuted their cutesy, sweet-themed line of collectible "surprise" blind-packaged dolls called Secret Crush.


    Though this one isn't as obvious, really, I have a distinct feeling that Secret Crush was very inspired by Lalaloopsy. Lalaloopsy was MGA's last attempt at cutesy dolls in both mini and mega sizes, and they were very popular. Secret Crush also features mini and mega sized dolls, with the mega sized dolls creepily enough having parts of their associated mini doll inside of their hair.

    There's a lot I still have to say about Rainbow High and a bit more about Secret Crush, but I think this post is already long enough for now.
  • edited 2020-10-03 13:13:01
    There is love everywhere, I already know
    I'm getting this weird feeling that Mattel is now using the wheelchair Barbie Fashionistas as the only way to "launder" fully articulated MtM bodies into the playline/children's doll lines.

    It's very strange that the only dolls that are well articulated and aimed at children now come in wheelchairs. Especially since the ones that come standing aren't very well articulated at all.


    So, Rainbow High. I was going to say lots of words, but instead I ended up making these photo collages.

    Most obviously, Ruby Anderson borrows a shirt from the second wave Poopsie Llama, which itself is "inspired" by the signature Supreme T-shirt.


    Funny thing is, the Llama is wearing a Sparkle "Supreme" T-shirt and Pooey Puitton "Louis Vuitton" diaper, and Supreme and Louis Vuitton did end up doing a collection together with clothing that looks exactly like what the Llama would look like if it were a hoodie.

    Meanwhile, anti-establishment but actually super-establishment dowdily dressed Jade Hunter wears an Anti-Sparkle Sparkle Club Anti-Social Social Club T-shirt (more obviously inspired by the second hoodie which was part of a collaboration with some brand with "pink" in the name), and takes inspiration from "musician" Billie Eilish.


    I personally didn't think Billie Eilish did shorts even though I barely know anything about her, so I was surprised to find shorts on her official merchandise store that were also in Jade's exact neon greens.

    In all honesty, I quite like the print on Jade's second shirt but all her clothing seems like stuff right from the back of a very sad closet.

    Her face kind of reminds me of Sabrina Carpenter, but then again ever doll with a giant head and faux ringlets reminds me of Sabrina Carpenter.

  • edited 2020-09-26 05:42:04
    There is love everywhere, I already know
    I do not want this to become "14w is obsessed with L.O.L. Surprise!", so for now I'll mention in passing that the new Winter Series of L.O.L. O.M.G. has already been teased literally the release date of the four #Remix dolls.

    Unrelated, but still in dolls; I wonder if Elza's dolls somehow always taking on a more purple tinge versus the blue in Frozen 2 is a marketing thing. I haven't seen Frozen 2, I barely saw Frozen, but purple didn't seem to feature much.

    I don't want to be "dolls, dolls, dolls" all the time, because my main focus really is mini-dolls and assorted collectables, so before I discuss Barbie BMR and the new Extra line, let's do some speculation.

    For a few years now, I've thought that Hasbro has absolutely bombed the Disney Channel part of their Disney Masterlicense. Clearly, Disney thinks the same, since the latest line of Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2 dolls was made by Mattel.

    In fact, I see a big re-jiggering of the girl's licenses in the Disney brand if Mattel tries hard enough.

    Anyways, I've always thought that the Disney Channel compendium is so full of characters people (mostly little girls, those who used to be little girls, and gay men) like, so why is there no big tent line of either dolls or collectibles that emcompasses things from High School Musical (or even Zenon, which was big before I myself became invested in the Disney Channel brand), through Hannah Montana and Good Luck Charlie, all the way to Descendants and Upside Down Magic.

    There has been one attempt to create such a line; a doll line called Disney VIP made by Jakks Pacific Mattel??? (I'm very surprised it was them considering they were so spindly) about 10 years ago. The line only covered characters popular at the time.


    That meant villainess Sharpay from the High School Musical franchise but marketed as from her spin-off movie, but no protagonist Gabriella. It included basically everybody who was cool and I liked at the time; except Teddy from Good Luck Charlie, who I didn't really like for reasons I can't remember.

    I totally forgot Sonny was in this line. She looks great.

    So, yeah, that's a giant untapped market. With surprise collectibles being so big, I wonder why nothing's been done on that front.

    Oh I almost forgot; Spin Master, high on their DC playline license, have nabbed the master toy license for the League of Legends video game, with products expected next Fall. I quite like an out of the box action figure, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with!
  • edited 2020-09-28 06:00:53
    There is love everywhere, I already know
    Funny story; I've been calling the male Hairdorables Hairdudables, rather than Hairdudeables.

    I've been around the usual places and wondering why Harumika playsets keep popping up in my searches. As far as I'm concerned. Harumika came and went like 8 11??? years ago.

    Harumika was a "fashion design" mannequin brand of activity kits made by Bandai, which involved creating "outfits" by laying bits of fabric on a miniature mannequin and then poking them into a hole in the back so they stayed on.

    I thought it was cool and cute but it never capture my imagination. In fact, I'd forgotten it existed.

    Well, now it seems they're back! With new packaging in darker colors (I preferred the original hot pinks).
    the award-winning fashion toy which proved a popular choice with noughties children.


    Yeah, suuuure.

    Personally, I think whoever runs Bandai's international divisions always seems to be really bad at whatever it is they're doing. I think sometimes it's because of the obvious differences in markets. Japan doesn't have a big fashion doll market, and even the action figure market for children pales to the role-play market, whereas elsewhere the reverse is true.

    But then there's issues like how the Power Rangers action figures always featured muscle-man body molds rather than just importing some of the better Japanese Sentai toys, which were always show-accurate.

    As per course, one of the new Harumika fashion sets is called Neon Beast, like marketing mixed up the cutesy fashion line and some futuristic Naruto action figure.
  • edited 2020-10-03 16:08:46
    There is love everywhere, I already know

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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;


    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.

    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?

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

    And that's Hairdorables.
  • Ultimate Forum Poster
    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?:
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    They're worse, I assure you;


    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;


    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?


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


    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).


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


    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.


    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.


    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).


    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.


    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.


    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:


    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.


    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.

    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:


    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.

    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.

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


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


    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);

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


    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.
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