Wednesday 6 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review - Monster High Marisol Coxi & River Styxx*

I wanna be haunted by the ghost, I wanna be haunted by the ghost, I wanna be haunted by the ghost…of your… precious luuuu-uuv

Post-Christmas sales rock, I ended up buying a literal sack full of goodies from Lakeside’s Smyths and Toys R Us and all of it came to less than £110, a £110 of money that wasn’t even mine because it was money gifted to me at Christmas. The two Monster High dolls shown here came to £22 for the pair, which is less than one of them costs usually.

Both of these are from lines that came out in the last 12 months, which just about allows them to qualify for Quick Crappy Reviews, Marisol Coxi was part of the Monster Exchange sub-line, which was all geared to look like a big new theme for the line but ended up being just the one wave of four dolls with the characters being planned for the second wave being released as a self-standing Signature doll* and in the replacement sub-line Brand Boo Students. I think this happened because Monster Exchange was a bit shit but more on that to come. River Styxx meanwhile was one of four new characters introduced for the Haunted – Student Spirits assortment which was part of Haunted sub-line that was supported by a TV/DVD special.

We’re going to start with Marisol Coxi and I can’t promise this won’t go on for a while. When she was first revealed I thought she was the Mad Hatter’s daughter which shows you how much she looks like her Monster Parent – The South America Bigfoot of course, specifically the Maricoxi, that most famous of Non-American cryptids! What was that? When you think ‘mythological beast not from America’ you don’t instantly think of the South American Bigfoot? In fact you’ve never even heard of the Maricoxi? Well Mattel thinks you’re weird. I actually had heard of the South American Bigfoot but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t completely disappointed when the new characters for such a great concept as ‘Monster Exchange’ turned out to be a Marisol and Racist McRacist Lorna McNessie. I just don’t get Marisol, oh I get her as a character (she’s extrovert) I just don’t get her as a choice for the line. Lorna I do get in this regard, I don’t like her but I get her; she’s the daughter of the Loch Ness Monster, a very famous monster that is very firmly associated with somewhere that is very definitely not in America, when it comes to making a list for a concept like Monster Exchange the Loch Ness Monster’s going to be high up on everyone’s. The South American Bigfoot though? That’s the other choice? Even for South America it’s not that good a choice - not to… armchair brand manage but if we’re talking South American monsters the top answer has got be the Chupacabra, not only is it easily the most well-known of the South American cryptids and a monster type you haven’t used before but it’s Mexican, meaning you get to appeal to the Mexican demographic and I’ve heard there’s quite a few Mexican people in America. Thus I reckon that someone on the design team either really likes pink, or is Brazilian.

Sorry I needed to get that out of my system; it’s been bugging me since 2014. Anyway Marisol Coxi is Abbey Bominable’s cousin from Brazil and is the daughter of the Maricoxi, the South American Bigfoot. She’s very loud and extrovert and is, in her own words ‘all about big hair, big shoes and big attitude’, she’s kind of annoying but at least she’s nowhere near as racist as Lorna McNessie. I personally didn’t feel she needed to exist, we have the daughter of the Abominable Snowman and don’t yet have the daughter of Bigfoot proper so releasing another Yetti/Bigfoot daughter seems somewhat unnecessary HOWEVER having bought her I have warmed to her some, which isn’t saying much as I was previously about as warm to her as a fridge. The first thing that did it was she actually has giant feet, even her diary she mentions having trouble buying shoes but then Draculara is very short and her doll is the same size as everyone else so the fact that they actually sculpted huge plates of meat for her was a pleasant surprise and really gave her a little something to set her apart from Abbey, then I stood her next to Abbey for a photograph and realised just how huge she is. up there she's beside Ghoulia (a standard size Monster High doll)* and Abbey (a taller doll) and below she's with Gooliope (the tallest toy in the line):

She’s a good head higher than Ghoulia and half a head taller than Abbey and comes up to Gooliope's waist, which makes her the tallest standard-size doll I think (obviously Gooliope’s taller but then she’s a giant). I’m very keen on getting a better variety of body types now Monster High can afford it and so having a really tall ghoul, especially when it fits nicely with her monster, is great and also endears Marisol more to me, I also like her little fascinator/hairband thing, little top hats always look good on girls. Other than there’s not much going on I like, in person she’s noticeably less pink and more pale purple but that makes even less sense than being pink as the South American Bigfoot is generally considered to be red furred, purple being pretty far from red. I’m not that enamoured with her headsculpt either, she has a big ol’ spam of a forehead with sunken eyes that seem a little too far down her face and I just don’t find it very attractive, it makes her look a little older though and that’s a nice thing I guess, variety and all that. Her outfit’s ok, it fits with her ‘loud and proud’ personality and feels Brazillian without out-and-out screaming it, though her skirt is pretty short and pretty flowing so she’ll show her arse at the drop of a (tiny neon green) hat, but somehow I think that might be in character. As well as her diary and the standard stand and hairbrush she comes with a nifty green suitcase that is both coffin shaped and bigfoot themed, looking like a Brazilian ruin it has two bit footprints on it recalling one of the more commonly wheeled-out pieces of bigfoot evidence, I would use this case myself, she’s also packaged with a little cardboard passport which I kept too, she has a suitcase so I might as well use it.

I’d been putting off buying River Styxx due to a misunderstanding on my part. River is the daughter of the Grim Reaper and is utterly adorable; she’s kind of a slightly more reserved Pinkie Pie and a Grim Reaper in training, in her debut scene in the Haunted CGI special she uses her powers to make confetti cannons, I think that sums her up nicely. The misunderstanding on my part is due to part reuse (what else? God I’m such a fucking nerd, shoot me), I assumed she was going to be using Skelita Calaveras’s skeleton parts which I really don’t like, especially the torso piece(s). The parts make the ghouls that use them look ill, they don’t look undead they look like they have severe eating disorders and as none of them actually have this issue are being used to raise awareness about it (and a fucking skeleton character being used for a such a task would be fucking insensitive to say the least) I’m just not ok with. I’m not accusing it of glamourizing being that thin or anything like that, in fact I can’t quite articulate my issue with it at all, you’ll be happy to know I have no problem with real people who have eating disorders and am not ‘grossed out’ by it in the slightest, and I find skinny girls attractive fine, so I’m not quite sure why I don’t like it when used in Monster High, I just don’t. Anyway it’s all for naught in this case because River doesn’t reuse those parts, instead she’s got a much better way of having skeletal parts incorporated into the design... that technique is see-thru parts! We have established by now that c-thru plastic is a favourite gimmick of mine so I’m placated… though I will say that it could have been done a little better by having the upper arms and legs made of see-thru plastic as well but painted to look like they were ‘transitioning’ into transparency and… there is the downside that the construction of the pieces means she has brilliant white knees and elbows but they get an A+ for effort because If you can’t see well in my quick crappy photos her forearms and lower legs are transparent purple plastic with solid white bones inside them! That is cool, that is the sort of gross for girls shit that Monster High should be known for if it’s not already (and I’m sure it is), and it stops her from looking like she starves herself. Elsewhere everything is pretty much dandy-o too, her hair looks great albeit a bit like a slush puppy I used to buy at holiday camps, her outfit manages to be cheerful while keeping an ethereal quality to it (and it’s sparkly, always a bonus) and her face is very pretty; it’s definitely sculpted to resemble a skull but whoever did it has managed make it looks like the right combination of facial features rather than skin pulled over headbones. The chain belt (they’ really went overboard with chains in this sub-line, it had a story purpose but I felt it took a cool little detail from Spectra and made it over the top) does prevent you from clipping her stand around her waist like the other dolls but luckily she includes a wide clip so it can fit under her arms, it's almost like thought went into it. I also like her see-thru boots and the fact that the bothered to paint the bone on her toes even though she’s wearing shoes, that’s the attention to detail I want in a £23 toy, even if it did only cost me £7.

Speaking of her stand (I was speaking of her stand, at one point) this is my first time talking about the Haunted line and that means I get to talk about the brilliant new accessories they tooled up for this theme; instead of the standard Monster High stand and comb the dolls came with transparent blue ghostly replacements; a taller stand made from chains tied to a rocky base (I told you they went chain-mad) that allows the user to look like they’re floating and a comb with a wispy new handle. I somehow missed this in preview pictures and so when I ripped open Vandal Doubloons and Kiyomi Haunterly earlier in the year these were a complete surprise. It seems like such a sensible thing to do and I’d like to see more of it for the big themes, hell I still don’t get why they don’t/won’t cast the standard stands and combs in appropriate colours, especially for the higher end dolls like these two, a neon stand would suit Marisol so well.

River’s other accessory is her staff, an adorable equivalent of her dad’s scythe just perfect for a bubbly girl who likes confetti cannons and puts bows on her chains, I don’t know why they chose to make the bow plastic (that goes for her belt too) but it gives the probably unintentional side-effect of making it look like it’s made of metal, a nonthreatening version of the scythe’s blade for a nonthreatening grim reaper. It’s also a massive prick and needs to fuck right off right fucking now. It’s top heavy, and that top is very heavy, her right arm can barely support it at all without it spinning and either falling off or making her look like she’s got a broken arm and it’s handle is too small for the toy’s fingers on either hand, you have to squash her little finger in or else catch it by mistake and bend it – how difficult is it to hold the accessory up to the hand of the doll it’s going to accessorise to make sure it fits it? Hell you don’t even have to use that doll’s hand if you can’t find the prototype lying around; all the non-clawed ghouls use the same bloody hand mould! So yes, it falls off a lot, it fell off about twenty zillion times (approx.) while taking these pictures alone, I am very angry at it.

This went on way a bit, sorry, conclusions: both are welcome on my Monster High shelf, I don’t get anything about Marisol Coxi’s inclusion or execution but she has enough about her to make buying her in the sale a worthwhile waste of money and she’ll look good hanging out at the back somewhere; River Styxx is huggable and even though the execution of her new gimmick parts isn’t perfect it’s a bloody good and a well appreciated try, though her staff is a poorly thought out piece of shit.
 * Monster High terminology for a standalone doll that’s part of no particular sub-line (and has no stand).
* yes I have noticed that Ghoulia’s head is slightly coming off her peg in that shot and yes it is gross but no I can’t be arsed to retake the shot. 

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