‘Monster High’: It’s Okay to Be Different As Long As You’re Size 0

Monster High Dolls © Mattel
Monster High Dolls © Mattel

I avoided Monster High for a long time.

My daughter has been clamoring for the dolls since she was in preschool, thanks to the row upon row of eye-grabbing black boxes in the Target toy aisle. Year after year I convinced her the toys were too scary and not made for her age, and that we’d talk again about it later. I first wanted to chat with her about how different body types are beautiful, how to dress and wear makeup when you’re not a big-headed stick figure, and about realistic role models.

And then Netflix added 234 Monster High movies to the streaming line-up.

Again I insisted she wait, until my entirely-too-logical six-year-old pointed out, “They look just like Equestria Girls, and you let me watch that.”

And so I lost an argument to a kindergartener.

I realized that she had a point, and I agreed to let her give one movie a try as long as I watched it with her.

© Mattel
© Mattel

Monster High has an interesting and admirable concept at its core, and it’s not one that I’m completely against my daughter seeing. “Monster High students are encouraged to be themselves—imperfections and all—and celebrate their freaky flaws,” touts the official toy web site.

But what imperfections are we talking about? While watching the movie, I noticed that all girls that attend the school have the same body types and features: large heads with big eyes and pouty lips, stick-figure arms, and legs with calves that are wider than their thighs. (The boys also have identical muscular builds.) Presumably their feet are only big to show off their fabulous shoes. Or is it “fangbulous”? Whichever.

But to be fair, the movies do build upon the tried-and-true themes of “it’s okay to be different” and the value of friendship, so the Monster High movies finally won approval in our house. (Sorry, dolls, but you’re staying at the store.) And we finally had that chat. But I’d be so much more comfortable with scenes showing girls of a variety of body types also being accepted for who they are.

“So,” you might be asking yourself, “What about Equestria Girls? Why is that not an issue?”

It took me a while to realize the difference, but I finally did. Because it’s based on the premise of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, in my mind Equestria Girls and My Little Pony were the same thing. I never worried about body types with My Little Pony, because duh, they’re ponies, and that instinctively carried over to Equestria Girls. There’s also no talk of boyfriends or outfits or looking “gore-geous,” so I never had any qualms with the ponies’ human counterparts, but now that I see there are some short-skirted similarities… I’m keeping an eye on you, Equestria Girls.

Are your kids Monster High or Equestria Girls fans? Did you have any reservations about it?

Special thanks to Jessica Boyd for inspiring this train of thought.

 

Ninja Dolls, Zombie Plants, and Gloom

ninja fam
Image By PegNation

Only just getting into the Halloween spirit now that October is here (not before October, dammit!), I was at a local festival and saw this ninja family. So cute! So deadly, I’m sure. Want a custom made peg doll? She’ll do whatever you like. I was thinking of a pirate-Christmas theme. (But not until December!) You can find PegNation on Etsy and Facebook.

 

zombie plant
Image By Ticklemeplant

How about a plant that dies and then rises from the dead? My son thought this one was really cool. It’s called a Zombie Plant. Perfect for your party, or just to freak out visitors.

 

gloom
Image By Atlas Games

I’ve mentioned this game before, but it’s absolutely perfect for the season: Gloom: Kill off your family to win!

Oh, there’s so much more to get into the creepy spirit. What’s on your radar this month?

Tinker Bell Shines in Disney’s New Pirate Fairy Product Line

PirateFairygroupsm
© DisneyToon Studios, used with permission.

As I mentioned in this preview post, I got a chance a few weeks ago to represent GeekMom at a two-day blogger event promoting some of Disney’s upcoming home-video releases. This included the next installment in DisneyToon Studio’s Tinker Bell series, The Pirate Fairy. The movie comes out on DVD and Blu-ray on April 1, and Disney’s consumer products team is prepared with a dedicated lineup of toys, clothes, and accessories featuring everyone’s favorite tinker and her fairy friends.

As part of the event, we got to see the new products up close just before sitting down to lunch in the zen garden outside the headquarters of DisneyToon Studios. The display included a wide variety of merchandise for fans of every age, from dolls to pajamas to sporty tote bags. As you might expect, much of it ties into The Pirate Fairy, but there were also some items highlighting classic Tink character designs and sketches.

PirateFairy1Product1
Photo by Cindy White.

If your kids enjoy pirates, fairies, or both (as is the case in my house), they’ll probably dig the newest addition to the Disney Fairies family, a free-spirited dust keeper named Zarina (voiced by Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks). Curious and scientifically minded, she’s also the captain of her own pirate ship and motley crew. Kids can role play as Zarina in this costume set, matching her look in the film pretty closely. It’s available exclusively at The Disney Store and DisneyStore.com.

PirateFairy2Zarinacos
Image courtesy of Disney.

Also available at mass retailers, licensee Jakks Pacific created a “Pixie Pirate” dress for Zarina and a companion “Pixie Party” dress for Tinker Bell. Zarina’s doesn’t look anything like her outfit in the movie, but there are sparkles aplenty.

PirateFairy3Costumes
Image courtesy of Disney.

We were lucky enough to get to take home some of the items in a goody bag, including these two dolls:

PirateFairy4ZarinaCrock
Image courtesy of Disney.

Since we already have the Tinker Bell and Periwinkle dolls at home, my girls loved adding Zarina into their play. The baby crocodile plays a significant role in the movie, and many of us fell in love with him after seeing him in action. After we left the screening room, I heard some fellow bloggers talking about how they hoped Disney would be making these little guys, and sure enough they were out there on display with all of the other stuff.

Dolls are always a big seller, so expect to see a range of different sets and variations coming out. I have to admit that I’m not completely sold on these 9-inch pirate fashion dolls, though. For one thing, they didn’t make all the fairies available. You can only get Tinker Bell, Rosetta, Zarina, and, for some reason, Periwinkle (who is only in the movie briefly and doesn’t actually meet any pirates). The dolls don’t look much like their film counterparts, either, and the fashions aren’t based on anything from the film. I do kind of like the purple jacket and boots Tink is rocking, though.

PirateFairy5PirateFashionDolls
Image courtesy of Disney.

At one point in the film, Zarina blasts the fairies with a special dust that switches their talents around (Tink becomes a water fairy, Vidia becomes a tinker, Rosetta becomes an animal fairy, etc.). Their outfits get switched too, so naturally that calls for a brand-new, six-piece doll set with all of the outfit variations. Fans of the series can probably guess what their new talents are, based on the altered colors and designs. Seems like poor Fawn got left out, though.

PirateFairy6DollSet
Image courtesy of Disney.

Speaking of fashion, the below pieces were created to appeal to tweens, teens, and adults alike. I love the pretty organic cotton pajama set from Hanna Andersson. The tank and leggings will be available beginning in March at JC Penny and Wet Seal will be selling the sweatshirt.

PirateFairy7Clothes
Image courtesy of Disney.

If you’re not into wearing Tink on your sleeve, there are also these bags from Le Sportsac featuring the original designs and sketches created for Peter Pan by legendary Disney artist Marc Davis.

PirateFairy8Sportsac
Image courtesy of Disney.

Stay tuned to GeekMom for more on The Pirate Fairy, including an interview with the filmmakers and animators, and other fun stuff from the event!

An Exquisite Look at the World of Kokeshi

Annelore Parot's Kokeshi

What do you do when a series of books you are supposed to review are so beautiful, so creative, so artistic and so imaginative, that you can’t summon up the words it would take to describe it?

This is the quandary I find myself in over a series of books about Kokeshi dolls by author Annelore Parot. I received copies of Kimonos, Yumi & Kokeshi Notecards from Chronicle Books for review, and frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t pass out from lack of oxygen; what with all the gasping I did as I leafed through them.

Kokeshi (Koh-Keh-Shi) are traditional Japanese dolls, usually fashioned out of wood. In the book Kimonos, Parot introduces us to the world of her Kokeshi — each doll tells you a little bit about herself, and you learn a little Japanese along the way.  The books are highly interactive, with flaps everywhere revealing more and more gorgeous images and fun little matching games. One of these Kokeshi is Yumi – and in her book, we find out more about what it’s like in her Tokyo world — the things she likes to do and the friends she spends time with.

Annelore Parot's Kokeshi

I sincerely hope that Parot plans to release a book about each Kokeshi we were introduced to in Kimonos. One of the first things I did after I received these books was look for more. I bought Aoki, and it’s just as gorgeous as the others. Aoki is another one of the Kokeshi we’re introduced to in Kimonos. In her story, we learn that she lives in Kyoto, she always wears cherries in her hair, and she’s about to take a bullet train to Tokyo to visit her friend Yoko – another Kokeshi.  Once again, there are flaps to lift, things to discover or find, and games to play. We match the luggage of each rider on the train to the kimono or obi they are wearing. We find Yoko’s apartment by finding the curtains that are the same pattern as her kimono, we fly colorful carp flags and drink cold green tea with our sushi lunch.

I thought these books would be wonderful to read with Vivienne. But once they were in my hands, I’m not ashamed to admit that I totally hoarded them on my desk for a long while. I would pick them up and drink them in, the colors, the patterns, the pretty details of the cherry blossoms, and then tear myself away. I lied to myself and said I was doing this because they might be a little above Vivienne’s age right now. But here, under the watchful eye of the internet, I am ready to admit it was because I was scared she would accidentally rip them! WHAT KIND OF MOTHER DOES THAT? What am I? A five year old? Whenever I briefly considered showing them to her, I changed my mind and very seriously thought about buying A SECOND SET. You know, just IN CASE they got ripped. I’m going to blame this childish behavior on the fact that I am a Libra with Virgo rising. That’s like a perfect storm right there, huh? A PRETTY thing that must be KEPT IN ORDER. I didn’t stand a chance. Plus, I’d much rather blame the alignment of the planets than own up to the fact that I was being a freaking weirdo.

Remember when I said I had no words to describe how lovely these books are? The best I can muster is to say that if I had endless money to spend on lovely books, I truly would buy a second set of this series — so I could frame every page and hang it on the wall. And in fact, that’s the worst thing I can say about these books: It’s a shame they are books and must stay closed, because it’s such a tragedy to lock such art away. A tragedy!

I finally relented, and sat down with Vivienne to read them. Guess what? She loves them. She loves peeking behind all the panels, playing the guessing games, pointing out the details, discussing all the characters. They’ve been in heavy rotation ever since. And no, she hasn’t ripped or destroyed a single panel, page or pop out. And if she did, I’d take the part that ripped and have it framed.