Monday, 23 November 2015

Quick Crappy Review: Monster High City Ghouls Three Pack

I’m having a very Monster High-y week; the Frightfully Tall Ghouls are now in stores with two of them in my house already (though I couldn’t find the TRU exclusive Elissabat – yet – but my borderline creepy love for that design WILL drive me on until I have a 17” version of her) and then today my City Ghouls pack arrived from America! I was so excited I stopped making breakfast to play with them, did you get that? I postponed food for them. I don’t postpone food for real people, even the ones I actually like. Mostly my excitement – and my importing them rather than just waiting for them to show in my local Asda – is from me depriving myself of the characters unlit this pack came out and I could buy them in their ‘default’ outfits so they’d fit in with all the other ghouls and having to walk past walls of them all tarted up in their Gala Ghoulfriends ball gowns feeling left out that I didn’t own them yet. But they’re here now and they were definitely worth the wait.

The City Ghouls three-pack is an Asda exclusive here in the UK (Walmart in the US) and part of the Boo York, Boo York subline that was 2015’s big thing for the franchise, with dolls of various price-points and a CGI musical special that I haven’t actually seen all the way through because I can’t stand Blackface McKitty Catty Noir. This pack has three of the four new monsters created for Boo York, Boo York (the other being Astranova) in their regular street clothes; Luna Mothews, Mousecades King and Elle Eedee. They use all the same parts as their previously released deluxe ‘Gala Ghoulfriends’ solo carded dolls but lack the ‘glittery’ finish those toys had. As I haven’t reviewed those – and don’t even own them – I’m going to refer to the new tooling they all received as ‘unique’ parts, but know that what I actually mean is ‘unique to the character’ as they are in fact all being used for the second time here. The set doesn’t include any stands (par for the course with exclusive multipacks) so the three would like to thank Clawdeen, Ghoulia and Rochelle for the loaners and Mousecedes would like to express her disappointment that she couldn’t use Draculara’s very pink stand, that the vampire must have the skinniest waist ever and that it’s made her feel fat.       

We’ll start with Elle Eedee because she has the best puntastic name of the three (L.E.D. geddit?). Ellie’s the daughter of ‘the robots’ and a DJ and electronica composer from Boo York (The MH world’s equivalent of New York) she’s very into music but doesn’t dance so much because she gets really into it and can overheat which is just fucking adorable, despite being friendly she’s a bit of a loner by her own choice. We already have a robot in the line – Robecca Steam – but as her name implies she’s very steampunk, all bronzes and into old fashioned things and is actually daughter of the Mad Scientist, so I have no problem with Elle coming in and filling the more standard futuristic robot archetype. The team went all out on her too, she’s made up of almost entirely unique parts (I haven’t checked up her skirt but I assume her hips are reused) that are all sculpted with panels but forgoing the rivets of Robecca’s body (which they easily could have just reused if they were feeling cheap) for a sleek anime-influenced design that makes her into the sexiest mecha ever – presumably taking the crown from Arcee. I get a very Indian vibe from her; there’s no way the placing of her on switch (I love that she has an on switch) between her eyebrows is anything but intentional and her hair and outfit all look a lot like the stylish westernised Indian girls I drool over see around town. I’m delighted by this. Actually Elle is easily one of the prettiest girls so far boasting I feel the sexiest face sculpt – everything about the make-up and balance of her face is just perfect for me so well done the sculptor - and mine has really nice sharp paint apps for those great ‘camera’ eyes of hers too, though there’s a little softness on the segmented eyebrows it’s nothing that really bothers me, and as they were doing a segmented design with a gradient I’ll cut ‘em a little slack.

I was particularly pleased with the set having three girls of completely different sizes and builds, it just make me feel like I was getting more value for my money via getting three completely unique looking ladies. Elle is the long, sleder and tall one of the group, the doll isn’t actually any bigger (though I think the torso is slimmer?) she’s just wearing exceptionally cool shoes. Once again my photos are useless but they’re best described as using hover technology to create futuristic platform boots, they make her nearly a half-a-head taller than Luna (who’s standard MH doll size), I really should have pulled out Nefera to compare but I completely forgot, eh, Nefera’s a bitch anyway so she’d only have moaned.

From the tallest to the smallest and a terrible segue, we have Mousecades King. Easily the best thing about this set is that it forced me to buy Mousecades because I was really disappointed when she was revealed and had no intention of buying her as a single carded doll, this was a mistake on my part. Nothing about her appealed to me when she was announced, not her personality and especially not her look; Another Boo York native she’s a spoilt, entitled, materialistic and shallow little brat befitting her being raised wealthy in high society and the daughter of the Rat King - not the Ninja Turtles villain but the antagonist from the Nutcracker ballet but despite all this she surprisingly isn’t an antagonist but really a ‘good person inside’, that may be but she’s still annoying. She also looked decidedly un-monstrous; she’s a mouse girl for fuckssake that’s not monstrous that’s Disney and she eschews the more Gothic/Alternative fashion elements often used in Monster High to dress in the most sickly sweet way imaginable (though I do love her Swiss cheese top and can imagine how excited she must have been to have found that in a shop). Until I had her in hand I thought her parentage was the coolest thing about her and then she arrived, I unboxed her thinking she’d just be filling the shelf but found she was really fun to play with! She has so much character packed into her tiny mousiness and I was able to get a handle on the ‘shallow but lovable’ character Mattel are pushing with her and drew quite a lot of amusement from posing her in mischievous and adorable but completely airheaded and point-missing ways, I feel like she’s become the worst sort of little sister – she’s completely the opposite of you but she’s just so loveable. What finally turned my opinion of her was her unique hand and forearm pieces, though she does feature a bunch of new parts (including a new torso to accommodate her tail) they’re a lot less obvious than her line-mates and she does have the smallest amount overall (though hardly an insult given that Elle and Luna are 90% new tools) but she does have new furry forearms and mouse/human hybrid hands, it’s such a small thing and not that noticeable in pictures (hence why I hadn’t noticed it before) but it completely changed my view of her design by giving her that more monstrous appearance she was so sorely lacking. I still feel she’s the weakest of the Boo York ghouls and the weakest in this 3-pack but I like her a lot more than I thought I would. I am a little concerned about her tail though, it’s very thin and quite brittle and I foresee a lot of broken tailed Mousecades dolls at bootsales in a few years, as a nice touch though it goes through a hole in her skirt rather than under it (I know the werecats also generally have this but it’s still a nice touch).

Luna Mothews on the other hand – for my second crap segue – is the star of the set and not just because she’s a self-confessed ‘Goth Moth’ but let’s just get this out the way first; she was clearly going to be the daughter of the Jersey Devil until someone at Mattel nixed having a devil character because it would upset to many mothers. I have no proof of this but I’ll bet you a tenner it’s true. Luna is the daughter of the Mothman and is in fact from Boo Jersey, not Boo York, but wants to be on Broadway (pretty much) so is working shitty jobs until she can get her big break – something she doesn’t resent in the slightest. The New York area has its own very famous cryptid (some might say, monster) and it even comes from Boo New Jersey but it ain’t the Mothman, who is very closely linked to another location – Point Pleasant, which is in fucking Virginia; in fact the Mothman is often given the ‘full name’ of the Mothman of Point Pleasant or the Point Pleasant Mothman. Now there have been sighting of ‘Mothmen’ or similar in other places, including Britain’s own Owlman (which was probably a hoax) but it doesn’t change how odd a decision it is to have a New Jersey character in your line, a line where all the characters are children of famous monsters, and have them be the daughter of a famous cryptid but not have that crytpid be the Jersey Devil, especially when you already have a Mothman’s daughter already out.

ANYway the Mothman is my favourite cryptid and you really shouldn’t be surprised I have such a thing, Luna’s inclusion on the set was partly what made waiting for it such a drag as I’m always eager to get any and all Mothman merch. She isn’t the first daughter of the Mothman to make the line but her predecessor was Bonita Femur from the Freaky Fusions line, which were all effectively mixed race characters, Bonita was the daughter of The Mothman and a skeleton1, so Luna is the first Monster High ghoul to be all Mothperson, a straight up female teen version of The Mothman just as Frankie is a straight up female version of Frankenstein’s Monster or Draculara is of Dracula etc so I was very keen to have her even if she though I technically already had a Mothgirl. Then I got her in-hand and she just became better and better, she’s virtually entirely a new tool like Elle but this time so that she can have a segmented exo-skeleton like body to make her look extra bug-like even though the Mothman was supposedly very furry or feathery, meaning she could really have re-used the Abbey Bominable/Marisol Coxi parts but I’m glad she didn’t because the new parts are lovely, mostly because they’re subtle enough to make her look bug-like without stopping her from looking attractive or making her look ill2 and her hands make her look a bit like she's giving the horns too. Her hair also translates to doll great and combined with her Goth make-up makes her bare a striking resemblance to Abby Sciuto from NCIS and that is such a good thing I can’t think of a metaphor. Now I have to be a bit weird; see she has a completely new torso both to keep the segmented look going and to allow for her wings but…well…she has a noticeably fuller bust and now I’ve noticed it I can’t unsee it, she’s now become ‘the Monster High girl with big tits’, just like Operetta is ‘the Monster High girl with the really nice arse’. I’m all for it, not just because as a heterosexual man I am legally required to like large breasts but because body type is one of the two areas where Monster High fail when it comes to inclusiveness (the other being sexuality), there is short and not short and that’s it; it isn’t a social comment or an attempt to provide an unrealistic role-model to young girls it’s mostly just because it’s cheaper to use the same parts over and over early on than make a new tool3 but we’re at the point where the line can clearly justify 90% new tools for new characters so it wouldn’t hurt to give us a girl with say, bigger thighs, or bigger boobs, or just a bigger body in general – and I don’t mean like Gooliope, no. 

I am trying to stop talking about Luna Mothews’ body parts but her wings, obviously their resemblance to Makit & Bakit style lightcatchers makes them amazing to start with but, ah, they lose a few points by not being on ball-joints, they are in two segments and both can be positioned independently of each other but I really would have liked them to be able to flap. They regain many of those points through their design, specifically the eyes, eye-like designs on moth and butterfly wings aren’t anything special I know but because the Mothman’s glowing red eyes are such an iconic part of the legend (so much so that the brilliant documentary about it was actually called The Eyes of the Mothman) it just pleases me so much that his daughter had red wings with eyes on them. The paint’s really fucking acceptable on mine too; Dark beaver could learn a thing or two about delicate black paint apps from these wings. If I have to find a downside with Luna it’s that I wish they’d given her a causal outfit that was a little more Goth to fit her self-proclaimed alliance with that counter-culture (well fashion sense), her cityscape dress is cool but it could belong to anyone with any style.  I suppose Elissabat already has the sexy Goth look covered but I want as many sexy Alternatives as I can get dammit!

Do I really have to write and concluding paragraph? I love the set, the dolls are great, everything is great.

"Has anyone seen my dad?"
1 As Bonita was clearly marketed as the daughter of ‘the’ Mothman rather than ‘A’ Mothman and Luna is likewise marketed as the daughter of ‘The’ Mothman then presumably they’re half-sisters, this hasn’t however been confirmed in cannon. Also… Bonita has the nicest hair, it’s so long and soft and pretty!
2 unlike Skelly Calveris
3 just to remind everyone a tool is a steel mould and they’re very expensive.  

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