Mumbled Snark: On Mattel and the Glut of Dolls.

As much as we as collectors of My Little Pony, Monster High, Ever After High – oh, just pick your poison here people, any one will do – think that we’re an influence on the companies who are creating the toys that we so love, we really shouldn’t want to be. Oh no. No we shouldn’t, y’all.

This all started yesterday, when a picture was posted on Tumblr from someone who had found the Blondie Lockes doll at a Toys R Us in Canada. There was much squeeage about how cute she was, about how much cuter than her prototype picture she was, and basically much flailing of hands about her.

(I can’t disagree with them, she is precious! Definitely coming here!)

But then there started to be a lot of comments about the sheer glut of dolls we’re getting lately. Scaremester dolls are being found. Most all of the Frights Camera Action dolls can be found somewhere, between Justice stores and Amazon. And now Blondie Lockes, with, I’m sure, Cerise Hood and C.A. Cupid soon to follow, has been found in the wild. There are new My Little Pony sets and Equestria Girls dolls and again, just pick your poison. “Do we really need all these dolls?” was asked, several times. “No, we don’t,” was a much repeated answer. There was quite a lot of kvetching about how Mattel isn’t “giving our wallets anytime to recover.”

The very definition of a First World Problem

The very definition of a First World Problem

. . .

Since when is Mattel in the business of making sure everything is on our timelines? Sure, I’d love to be able to go out and buy every doll I want when I want to. Unfortunately, as an adult, there are things that come first: my bills, my food, gas and maintenance for my car, vet visit for my dogs, the occasional trip out to eat or to a movie.

It reeks and smacks of entitlement when we, as adults who do pay our own bills, put ourselves and our wants above the people these toys were created for: kids.

To add in, this is November 11th. In just over two weeks is the official start of the Holiday Shopping Season. Monster High and Ever After High are considered two of the hottest things going for Giftmas this year, and Mattel? Is seeing an easy way to some of that green paper with dead white guys on it. That is what they are in business to do. They aren’t in business to care about us, people. They are in business to make money.

And in their business model for Monster High and Ever After High, they have hit gold.

Of course, it’s not a new business model. They’ve been doing the same thing with Barbie since the beginning of time. A few new outfits, and a ton of new dolls.

The Barbie Back to Basics Line.

The Barbie Back to Basics Line.

The Barbie Back to Basics line, for instance. 12 new dolls with very few differences.

Or how about the yearly Holiday Barbie?

Several years worth of Holiday Barbie

Several years worth of Holiday Barbie

It’s all the same Barbie. Her faceup is different, to match her dress, and lately they are releasing versions of her that Aren’t White. But other than that… they are the same damn doll.

The thing to remember, especially in the case of Monster High/Ever After High/My Little Pony, is that what we as adult collectors want is not what kids want, and we would all do well to remember that. One only needs to look at the brony phenomenon to see how Hasbro has learned that getting in bed with your fanbase can only lead to one hell of a nasty case of crabs.

A brony may want show accuracy, but a little kid just wants a pretty, brushable Rainbow Dash so they can brush her hair and put some ribbons in (the fact that they did away with tail ribbons upsets me so, that was one of my favorite parts as a kid!)

We grown ups cry that Molly McIntyre is being sent to the American Girl archives, because she’s been there since the beginning, but when the new historical comes along, she will be some little kid’s Brand New Historical, and she will be loved as much as Molly is loved by the ones who have her.

And in the case of this particular argument, adult Monster High fans want less dolls and more fashion packs (it’s claimed), but somewhere, a kid will walk into Big Lots and see Coffin Bean Frankie, and that will be her first Frankie. She’ll brush her hair and watch the webisodes and movies and find some fellow feeling with the young monster girl who is still learning everyday about how to navigate this thing called life, just like her.

I don't like Frankie. But the dolls aren't for me, so it doesn't matter.

I don’t like Frankie. But the dolls aren’t for me, so it doesn’t matter.

The time has come that we as collectors need to stop acting like we’re the more important party here. We’re not. We’re a happy accident in this all.

Another bone of contention that arose from discussions late last night is that dolls like Dead Tired, Coffin Bean, etc, the dolls that are going to be less expensive, could and moreover should be released as fashion packs, and not as the full dolls they’re being released as. This irked me for an entirely different reason but here goes just the same.

Often times, these dolls are sold at your local Big Lots, Dollar General, and stores such as for cheaper. They’re called an Emerging Channel/Alternative Channel, and that just means that they’re not going to be found in Walmart/Target/TRU. Generally, these dolls are found at Big Lots for a lower price point and without things like stands, brushes or diaries. This gives a child (or their parent) who may not be able to afford a basic doll with all the doodads at your local big box store a chance to own one of these All The Rage fashion dolls at a cheaper cost. And if one kid can get their first Abbey with the Coffin Bean line and brush her hair and feel like they are a part of the club, then I am all for that.

The day that Mattel stops making these dolls for the kids and instead gives in to us is the day that these toys stop being toys.

This whole thing reminds me of this secret that was posted once upon a time at a Monster High Confessions blog on Tumblr.

tumblr_ma9ozs8CPb1ry9nx0o1_500

In talking with a dear friend about the confession, a good point was made and I reiterated it in my reblog.

When I was younger, we had great fucking shows, for kids. And we can talk about them in a way of fond remembrance. “God, wasn’t Rocko’s Modern Life a great show? Wasn’t Powerpuff Girls awesome?”

If you want kids to have that “[show/toy] was GREAT. God, those were the days, they don’t make them like that anymore” memory like you have…

YOU NEED TO STOP STEALING THEIR SHOWS AND MAKING THEM ALL ABOUT THE OLDER/ADULT FANS.

I’m all for older pony collectors, older MH collectors, hell, older collectors of whatever fucking toy you want. Go fucking wild, it’s your goddamn money.

But realize quickly, that it is not, and never will be, about you. It’s about the kids.

And that is what we need to remember.

Be proud of being a fan, of being a collector. I know I am. I’ve made some of the greatest friends I’ve ever made in my life thanks to my love of little plastic ponies, the daughters of famous monsters and fairy tale characters, and 18″ dolls with the endless possibilities of creativity and imagination.

But I am not why any of these things exist, and I am not why they are popular.

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8 thoughts on “Mumbled Snark: On Mattel and the Glut of Dolls.

  1. Thank you. This is the exact truth. My first Frankie (and I do like Frankie) was a Classroom. BUT the MH dolls I had the most joy out of finding was a Dead Tired Clawdeen and a Skull Shores Ghoulia, at the same Family Dollar. And my joy wasn’t entirely because I’d found them. More than that, it was because children in my town, who might not get to have an MH doll any other way could have one. And I was, am, and shall always be for that.

    And darn right. Adult collectors need to stop making it about them.

    • Thank you, Rhymer! I agree… it’s so much more fun to see that kid in the aisle who just can’t hold their feels one little bit when they see a doll. Neth has a story about that, I’ll have to encourage her to post it sometime.

  2. Great post! My daughter is only 2.5 and I’m excited to experience new toys/shows/movies with her, and I always wonder when I see something new that I like if it will still be around when she’s old enough? Should I get one and save it for her? Will this be the big thing?

    I remember when she was a baby I went to see the last(I think) Harry Potter movie with my husband. There was a little boy sitting next to me in full costume, totally excited. I remember talking about how I hoped something big and great like that would happen while my daughter is still little and we’d get to see her all dressed up and excited.

    • And that’s going to be so fun, to watch her get into things! And don’t forget… she’s never TOO OLD for any of this so encourage it for as long as you can!

  3. I’m actually glad they release so many new dolls at once. Cause I’m not waiting forever for a character I like, and when I feel like getting a new doll, I can choose one I really like and not just the okayest from what they have at the moment.

  4. I played with dolls as a little girl, then moved to collecting them in my teens and adulthood. I think Mattel makes enough dolls for the kids and dolls for (assumed adult) collectors. Sometimes collectors like the dolls for kids, but I don’t see why anyone should complain about the reduced price dolls with fewer accessories. Let the kids and their parents have a break. Often the brushes and stands are crappy anyway. The doll is what matters.

  5. I would have figured that by “older kids,” the confessor meant “8-12.” I seriously hope that’s what was meant.

    Frankly, I feel like giving some of my TONS of extra doll brushes to Goodwill. Let the poor kids have a Skullette brush. I don’t need 641564512 brushes, and it can be nice to have a hairbrush for you AND one just for your dolls, even if you’re a little kid and don’t care about the whole “oils can damage your doll’s hair in the long term” thing.

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