Tag Archives: ever after high

Doll Photo Roundup

Have I ever talked about how much I love Instagram? Lots of people hate it, citing their disinterest in what you’re having for lunch as their reason they don’t use it. Yeah, except that’s the same thing we said all those years ago about Facebook book status updates and Twitter. And look who’s still reigning supreme? Whether you like it or not, Instagram is a social media mainstay, and I for one welcome our new box-photographed overlords.

I post all sorts of nonsense to it, but these days I’ve been getting more and more into the doll photography scene. The tag #dollstagram brings most dolly photographers together, and tagging the brand (#mattel), line (#monsterhigh), or specific character (#frankiestein) makes for much more direct browsing. I’ve been having a lot of fun these last few months trading pictures with other instadollgramers, and decided that I’d share some of my favorite photos with those of you who haven’t yet jumped on the bandwagon.

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Follow me on Instagram @welcomequeenalice.

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June ABCs: D, E & F

Updating daily is hard, you know?

D is for Dolls

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I’ve only recently fallen into the word of doll collecting, but let me tell you, it’s kind of all-consuming. I’ve always liked dolls. As a kid, I owned two huge bins worth of just Barbies. I had baby dolls, even though I’ve been adamant from a young age about not wanting any real babies of my own. Polly Pockets, Little Kiddles, Sky Dancers, Baby Alives, Spice Girls, you name a doll made in the 90s and I probably had it. For some reason, this did not translate into my adult years until recently. I guess I just didn’t think about dolls much after I hit middle school and closed those overstuffed bins for the last time. I thought it was, as the saying goes, time to put away childish things.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered how much I still liked them. After watching through all the webisodes, TV specials and hour-long CGI movies from the Monster High franchise, I started haunting toy aisles again. And then came Ever After High. And I may also have a Barbie and Novi Star or two. I really love how fashion dolls have evolved since my childhood from a scant 20 years ago. Barbies were just Barbies. There weren’t really back stories, or even present day stories, to go with them. You were supposed to make that up. None of them had personalities – you made them up, too. But with today’s doll lines, it’s all about webisode tie-ins, cartoons and movies. Even Barbie has her YouTube show now, called “Life in the Dreamhouse.”

There’s also something I love about the simulacra of the stories, taking old monster movies or fairy tales that were already re-imaginings of older tales, and telling them again with modern themes for modern girls. I could go on and on about the meta, but I won’t, because that would take much more effort than I intended to put into this.

E is for Erik

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He is my schmoopie and I love him.

F is for Fandom

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When it comes to fandom as a whole, some people despise it, while other don’t even know what it is. Both of these are valid states of being, but me, I was basically raised by fandom. Almost as soon as my family got the internet in the late 90s/early 2000s, I stumbled into fan culture. As a kid, I had quickly learned that obsessing over things wasn’t something most people did, and I often lacked people to talk to about the things I was into. Finding out there were more people like me was surprising but eye opening. As I grew older and weirder and felt more disconnected from my (IRL) peers, I found solace joining with people just as strange as me in obsessing over things online.

Don’t get me wrong; fandom can also be awful, but I was lucky enough that most everyone I met through it were good people who enriched my life. These days, I mostly have fandom friends, even if we’re not in the same exact ones. Fandom isn’t my life, but it’s a very big part of it.

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More Adventures in the Young Adult Lit Universe: Doll Tie-In Edition

Ah, the tie-in novel; an age old tradition usually reserved for a mass market paperback with a movie poster on the cover. In the world of toy marketing, the tie-in novel is usually produced to get parents to buy more from whatever brand their child is already obsessed with and is often, uh, terrible. Since getting into Monster High and Ever After High, and spending probably a little too much money on dolls, I knew I wanted to read the books, but couldn’t afford to drop too much more cash to do so. So I did what any self-respecting adult fan of a children’s toy line would do – I borrowed them from the library.

Spoilers ahead.

Monster High by Lisi Harrison

Monster-High-Books-2012-Pic I admit I only read the first volume of this four book series (and a couple chapters of the fourth book because I’m a big fan of Draculaura), but that was enough for me. The first book read like the author took the characters of Monster High, whittled down their personalities, and stuck them into a Gossip Girl-esque world. Compared to the charm of the webisodes and movies, it was like reading some jaded teenage sister’s attempt at showing her little sister how Monster High could be made “cool.” One thing that especially stuck out for it’s awfulness was the character of Melody Carver, who seems to exist to be a checklist for fan fiction Mary Sues: sudden transformation that made her beautiful, actually a monster born to a “normie” family that just doesn’t get her, has a beautiful singing voice that can enchant anyone who hears it & make them do what she wants, and has serious angst due to her singing voice being the one thing she can’t share with the boy she loves for reasons that are dumb. Seriously, did Harrison write Harry Potter fic back in the early 2000s? Because that is some My Immortal level character building.

(And just in case you were wondering, I don’t even have a problem with teenage girls writing Mary Sues in fan fiction. They can do whatever their little hearts desire, but I expect more from a published author.)

The one  thing I will give this series is that it zeroes in on the core message of the MH franchise, that being yourself is key, and textually acknowledges that monsters (or “RADs” at the book calls them) are feared and hated in the same way that people of color, homosexuals and other groups have been over the years. Unfortunately from what I’ve read, it looks like that’s ALL the series does, briefly talking about it and then going right back to being shallow.

Rating: No stars. Just. None.

Monster High Ghoulfriends Series by Gitty Daneshvari

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The Ghoulfriends series is very different from the first Monster High series in that it takes a much more basic and familiar approach to the MH universe. Instead of trying to make the ghouls act more like stereotypical teens, this series tries to keep the innocence and charm of the webisodes and movies intact while telling a story about tertiary character Rochelle Goyle, Robecca Steam and Venus McFlytrap. The main ghouls make appearances as well, but usually acting as side characters.

I have read the first two books of this series , and while they were much easier to get through than any of the original MH series, it’s still not quite what I was looking for. I realize Mattel does not keep tight a canon with Monster High, but I felt Daneshvari’s characterizations are still a bit off, or at least unappealing. Rochelle is cute, and her obsession with rules and correction reminds me of many teenagers I’ve known (and perhaps been), but Venus and Robecca fell flat. Robecca relies heavily on the young adult literature trope of tirelessly spewing catchphrases when the author doesn’t have a voice for her. Being a recently reassembled 116 year old robot, she naturally uses dated slang like “bee’s knees,” but then goes about inventing similar sounding expressions that seem to pop out of nowhere, such as “mouse’s house.” And while this could be considered at least cute and charming, Venus, on the other hand, comes off as an annoying hippie type, getting angry at Cleo for using paper shopping bags and sneezing her “pollens of persuasion” on people when they don’t agree with her viewpoints.

I like both Venus and Robecca, but I don’t feel like they need to be featured so heavily in these books. If I had the chance to do something with the series, I would love to see perhaps Skelita and Jinafire step into their places, becoming Rochelle’s roommates after the events of the Scaris movie. Skelita and Jin do play a small part in Ghoulfriends, but they are largely ignored by other MH canon, and I feel fleshing them out in a series like this would be a big improvement upon their state as one-note cultural placeholders. I like them both a lot, and I felt their characters were poured from the molds of “Mexican monster character” and “Chinese monster character” when developed for Scaris and have yet to develop personalities that differentiate them from just their cultural identities. Making them two of the three main characters of series like this would flesh them out beyond “Mexican skeleton with a sugar skull for a head” and what basically boils down to the fact that the design team created a stereotypical dragon lady. (Which honestly blows my mind, like – how did that get past marketing???)

But I digress. Two big saving graces of this series are the beautiful cover & chapter art and the story’s original characters. The drawings are numerous and done in a sketchy pen and ink style that stays true to the original character designs and makes the covers very attractive. The original characters, unlike Melody Carver of the first MH series, are actually interesting and engaging, and fit in well with the universe and it’s style: Cy Clops, a shy, one-eyed monster with a crush on Robecca; Ms. Sue Nami, a waterlogged disciplinarian who refers to the students as “non-adult entities”; and Ms. Slyphia Flapper, a dragon, new teacher, and the main antagonist of the series. Just from their punny names alone I love how well they fit into the universe and have so far been a lot of fun to follow and watch interact with the main trio.

I will probably finish this series, as it only took me a couple hours to read each book, but I’m not assuming the story will get any more engaging or the characters any more rounded. Cute and charming, not unlike the webisodes, but still leave something to be desired.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ever After High: #1 The Storybook of Legends & #2 The Unfairest of Them All by Shannon Hale

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It’s hard not coming off as biased, but I LOVE these books! I think I can chalk my love of the Ever After High story to Mattel’s tight canon bible as well as Hale’s (h)excellent writing. I definitely got the impression from both books that they are what’s really going on behind the doll line, a mature, but still sweet and charming take on the Ever After High universe with wonderful characterization, great plots, and well-written prose. These books really round out the characters we’ve so far only seen in webisodes and make the universe seem all that much more alive and thriving.

I’ve talked a bit on my Twitter about my love for EAH, with it’s many layers of meta text, focus on choice and choosing your own path in life (but remembering the consequences), and message of living the life you want, free of expectations of others, especially peers and parents. I could talk endlessly about the world building, the meta, and the excellent messages it has for kids and adults alike, but then we’d be here all day.

The series itself is well written and Mattel did itself a great favor in picking Hale to write it. She clearly understands the conceit of the series and writes the characters so well that they are all sympathetic and interesting. Apple White, a hated character among webisode-only fans, really shines, getting her message through and actually making me question my very rebellious leanings. And while the books don’t follow the canon of the webisodes to a T, or vice versa, they parallel and compliment each other nicely.

I have literally nothing bad to say about this series and I really hope Hale is able to write it until it’s inevitable “The End.”

Rating: ★★★★★

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