Thursday, 20 October 2016

Letter From America Quick Crappy Review: Disney Attractionistas Gracey, Pearl & Maddie!*

Disney have decided to rip off Monster High, I didn’t know this until I got to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and found Holly in the Tower of Terror’s gift shop. I was excited, I ended up buying five altogether and that was five of the six I ran into (I didn’t really want Carrie), so except for Carrie if I saw one, I bought it.  Now I’ve returned to civilisation I’ve found out that originally there was six dolls released – one each for Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, The Jungle Cruise, The Mad Tea Party and the various Fantasyland carrousels and since then have released at least two more for Splash Mountain and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and I have subsequently eBay’d the two I didn’t buy at the Disney Parks. With me so far? Good because I’m going to quickly, crappily review all 7 of these dolls because why the fuck wouldn’t I?

I’m a little bit torn on my overall opinion of Disney Attractionistas (the name doesn’t help) on the one hand OMG THEY MADE MONSTER HIGH DOLLS OF ALL THE BEST DISNEY RIDES THIS IS SO PERFECT A FIT FOR ME AND MY INTERESTS on the other hand it’s always sad to see Disney imitating rather than innovating and doing so in such a way that they really just become another company ripping off a popular toy to try and make some money off the back of that toy’s success. Their doing this benefits me because I love Monster High and Disney Parks attractions and combining the two for me is one of the best possible ideas, doll-wise, you can have but it’s still sad to see a company who can create and innovate so well and can reinterpret older ideas (like haunted houses or fairy tales) in such high quality ways to be making Galaxy Warriors. Of course, I like Galaxy Warriors-type knock-offs. Being knock-offs the dolls aren’t as good quality wise, they do have a consistent design style (though one completely derivative of Monster High’s) but they feel cheaper which is also sad, it’s always sad when Disney stuff feels cheap or lower quality – Disney have had a long history of putting money into their merchandise and/or paying very talented people to make good shit for them – but it’s not too much cheaper feeling than Monster High and some of the clothes feel really good quality so it’s not that sad, just a little bit, not quite Fantasia on the Mega Drive sad, more Epic Mickey II sad. Likewise for a knock-off the construction’s not as good either, they’re basically Barbies who can do the splits all ways – they have ball joints at the hips, shoulders and neck and those ‘bendy’ Barbie knees rather than actual joints, that’s a big step down from Monster High but fine for fashion dolls in general, I do wish they had wrist articulation though.

With all that out of the way which girls are we looking at today? Well we’re gonna look at Gracey, Pearl and Maddie as they’re all from the first wave of dolls (along with Carrie, Celeste and Nellie, the latter two having not arrived from eBay yet). Let’s start with Maddie, who’s representing the Mad Tea Party. Who’s Maddie, well her box says this: When London-born Maddie first set foot in U.S. soil with her white rabbit ‘Sugar’ she was delighted to find America just as whirly-twirly as it is across the pond. She loves to spin around and say silly rhymes so she felt right at home on the Mad Tea Party attraction. At 4pm, of course, her spinning stops for a proper spread of tea, scones and finger sandwiches. But any other time look for a blur of pastel hair circling the Mad Hatter’s teapot – it’s Maddie having a right jolly romp! Or at least I think it does, I’m transcribing this from mobile phone photographs taken at night in a bedroom lit only by the light attached to a ceiling fan (I didn’t have enough case space to bring them home boxed, sorry all). Anyway I’m really pleased that Maddie is English and upper class as they’re great parallels for both Alice the character, Alice Liddle the inspiration for the character and Lewis Carroll himself. What I don’t like is that fucking stupid need Americans can’t seem to resist to imitate British dialect whenever talking about anything remotely British – pack this shit in, you never know how to do it properly and it’s fucking racist.

Maddie looks great, they designers didn’t make it easy for themselves by choosing the carousels and Mad Tea Party, oh they’re good choices when it comes to iconic rides in Fantasyland (and they’re in all the Fantasylands too) but they’re a lot harder to base an outfit on than say, the Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror who have unique and easily recognisable outfits for the cast members who staff them. Instead they’ve just made themselves a mad outfit for her and coloured it major colours from the ride and the original Fantasyland including sticking three of the Mad Tea Party’s most prevalent colours in her hair. Her hair is great, it’s a lot neater than I would imagine her having if I’m being honest, she doesn’t strike me as the comb-her-hair-after-every-ride-on-the-teacups sort of girl but it’s gorgeous colours, I think my ideal woman may have hair like this and it’s great that having hair like this is now socially acceptable, or at least socially acceptable in the social circles I move in. I don’t really have much more to say about her other than her eyebrows match her mad hair, meaning that her mad hair is naturally those colours and that should make you want to marry her, I could be her bit of rough, I like finger sandwiches (who doesn’t?). Each doll comes with a plastic hat and a plastic pet because that’s totally not like Monster High, they didn’t come with a guarantee of headwear. They don’t come boxed with their hats on so I have trouble imagining them with hats which is good because the hats don’t fit on very well, even the ones like Maddie’s that has a string are troublesome. Maddie’s one is suitably insane, it’s a top hat made of teacups and its solid plastic and fucking heavy, and it’s very hard to get it to stay on her head which is a shame as she really needs a hat. Her pet is Sugar, an utterly adorable bunny who once again ignores the fact that the White Rabbit is a spineless royalist and a shit and not one of the good characters Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Sugar is adorable and named after sugar lumps I’m guessing which makes sense, you put sugar in tea, I hope Maddie doesn’t put Sugar in herself, still if any of the Attractionistas was going to funny things with rabbits and her vagina it’d be Maddie, I think something like Alice, or T.  or even Lewis or Carrol might have been better names? Anyway, So Maddie’s a win, hat and looking very similar to Madeline Hatter from Ever After High aside.

We’ll do Pearl next because she was the next one of the three I found in the bag. Pearl represents Pirates of the Caribbean and what I think her box has to say about her is: Pearl is an adventurer at heart. It seems that she is always off to some tropical destination. On her many travels – with her parrot Jolly Roger in tow – Pearl comes back with a story for every treasure she finds. She’s always coming up with new ways to accessorize her cute outfits with her latest acquisitions. On her favourite attraction Pirates of the Caribbean Pearl can usually be heard ‘yo-ho-ing’ right along. Because why else would women travel the globe other than to find jewellery right?  I know Attractionistas is derived from ‘fashionista’ and Disney have never been the most feminist of companies but fucking hell, still at least it's 'piratey'.

I’ve decided that Pearl’s outfit is exactly what you’d want it to be, very much like Maddie’s, it screams pirate so many ways to Sunday that Sunday is now deaf and mad in the corner humming Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me). The designers had a lot easier job here obviously because they had a ride full of Pirates all in the same fashion style and Jack Sparrow’s outfit to work from, both of which I can see pretty clearly in Pearl’s get-up but let’s talk about continuity nods because they made me really happy. Specifically that Pearl is a redhead and her necklace has the dog’s keys on it. If you’re not fan of films rather than the ride or just someone who hasn’t committed animatronics to memory with the vigour I have you may be confused, or you just may not care in the slightest but tough, I’m going to explain. There are two major scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean, which is a ride through scenes of animatronic pirates ransacking a town then getting too drunk to run away and thus getting arrested, that have taken on a fairly iconic nature for Disney park fans: the auction scene, where an auctioneer is trying to auction a chubby woman and the pirates want a sexy redhead who’s very into being auctioned and the captured pirates trying to lure a dog holding the keys to their cell in its mouth (that one was in the first film). A female personification of Pirates’ HAD to have red hair and she does, so I’m completely satisfied. I’m not so satisfied with her skin colour though; In the official artwork Pearl’s skin tone is kind of mustard, but her doll just looks kind of jaundiced, it’s odd, both compared to the other dolls (who have really odd skin colours like purple, blue and silver) and it’s odd to look at, like they didn’t have a peach colouring pen and used the next nearest colour. Her pirate hat is the best of these three in terms of how it actually sits on her head in that it actually sits on her head and her parrot is equally satisfying, it’s a good cartoon parrot that recalls the old animatronic parrot that’d hawk/squawk Pirates to you on the outside the ride buildings and a (possibly unintentionally) looks like the parrot from Captain Jake & The Never Land Pirates so that works well for me as a tie-in.

Last but definitely not least we have Gracey who represents The Haunted Mansion, and it’s a little thing but I really wish they’d spelt her name Gracie and Word’s spellcheck function agrees, I know that’s how Yale Gracey and thus Master Gracey spells it but just looks like such a surname. Her box says about her (approximately): Gracey loves the night and the things that go bump there in. She enjoys being different but Gracey is always there for her pals when they need a kind, reassuring voice in scary situations. She is also a killer interior designer. Along with her trusty bat Grimm she can decorate a room that’s ‘to die for’. At the Haunted Mansion attraction the Ghost Host and the singing busts are just like old pals that she feels like she’s known for an eternity. I really like this bio, I like the various wordplay and I like that’s she’s an interior decorator too, she’s named after Yale Gracey, one of the Haunted Mansion’s (several) designers, and the interior of the mansion is very unique with things like the wallpaper having become pretty well known in Disney circles so that’s a nice choice. Her bat has a stupid name though, it’s a reference to Grim Grinning Ghosts but most people are going to think of the Brothers Grimm, why not name it X or Atencio or Crump or Claude or after one of the other tomb stones, for that matter why not name it Lampwick, Leota or Constance?

Gracey’s the best doll in the first wave, and not just because she’s attired in my own personal preferred style of dress but mostly because of that, and because she’s velvety, very velvety, I haven’t stroked a doll this much since… let’s move on. She also feels better quality and slightly better designed that the other two in this review, maybe the designer just really likes the Haunted Mansion, or they knew that Haunted Mansion has such a big and dedicated fan base that the doll representing it had to be top notch. I’m actually really surprised they didn’t just dress her in the cast members’ uniforms for the attraction, I’d’ve been totally happy if they had, instead they’ve designed her a new outfit that isn’t even the same colour – though undoubtedly colours you associate with the haunted mansion (would have gone with green rather than dark blue but whatever) – it’s nice, it’s a sort of standard Victoriana-come-Goth outfit and she look really attractive in it, which for a heterosexual man reviewing fashion dolls is obviously a major factor. You will have to puff her skirt out a the back a bit out of the box though, you’ll have to do the same for Pearl’s hair, which is a point, these girls’ hair is so starched they’re virtually solid lumps, it works really well for Gracey here but not so much for Maddie. Anyway back to the outfit, I LOVE the overuse of the Haunted Mansion wallpaper, because I really like that wallpaper, her tights are just the wallpaper wrapped around her legs and I like to think that any female Haunted Mansion fan would wear these in a heartbeat if they existed, hell I want a pair, it also turns up on the inside of her dress and the band of her hat, each time in different colours so it doesn’t feel overused even though it kind is. Her hat is lovely, it’s a large fascinator with The Bride’s veil but it’s a pig to get on, the elastic’s crap and it’s heavy and her hair gets in the way, it annoyed me. Grimm is adorable, he has a little top hat too and looks so worried, I want to hug him and say “it’s ok Grimm, it’s not your fault you have a daft name” but…why is he a bat? There’s a fucking raven that appears in about 3 quarters of the Haunted Mansion and was originally going to narrate the attraction, why isn’t Grimm a raven? Or why isn’t he one of the gremlin-like gargoyles from the candelabras or the weird wringed beasts on the railings, y’know things that Disney already produce merchandise of? Are there any bats in the Haunted Mansion?   

So there you go, these dolls are 12” which seems a bit odd as they can’t really stand next to Monster High dolls without dwarfing them but actually they can’t stand at all because they don’t come with stands. I’ll admit that given the choice I’d rather the dolls came with a hat and a pet, you can get doll stands easily and cheaply after all but I’d rather not have the choice and Disney just packaged in a neat little Attractionistas stand, even better if each one had a nice little personalised base, Gracey’s could have been Master Gracey’s tomb, or at least the wallpaper again. I’m pleased with all three of these though, they’re a bit cheap in places and I’m sure some doll collectors can get all snobby about them the way I would about collectors’ action figures but they’re meant for kids as much as adults remember. The big problem is that their hats suck at being hats and that they’re so obviously derivative of someone else’s idea, but on the other hand they’re Monster High dolls based on Disney park attractions and that makes me happy. 


  1. I almost got Gracey when I was there recently because I love the Mnasion so much. Great write up

  2. I know you posted all these reviews about Attractionistas years ago but I've been re-reading them all now. For my next trip to Disney, I'd really love to cosplay one of them but haven't chosen any one girl yet! You posting the descriptions on the back of a box is a godsend, I couldn't find any other reviewer doing the same. Who do you think I should cosplay?