Bratzillaz, Novi Star, Team Barbie, Oh My!

Last week I read two articles about three new doll lines that were launched recently or will be launched this month and it took my breath away! (Not in a good way.) When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, MGA announced the launch of “Bratzillaz” www.bratzillaz.com, and (this one may be worse) “Novi Stars” www.novistars.com. The Bratz spin-off line Bratzillaz resembles the Monster High Dolls and their tag line is “Glam Gets Wicked”. Hummmmm. Each doll has their own tattoo and comes with a odd pet figurine. It is so similar to Monster High that I wouldn’t be surprised if Mattel and MGA go at it again.

The Novi Star dolls, well let’s just say I have a few choice words going through my head that I do not want to put in writing! Their tag line reads, “What on earth is going on?!” I sure agree with that! On the website they give a little bio about each doll and I can’t believe some of this stuff. This is the exact opposite of what my husband and I are teaching our daughter. When I showed the website to my now 15 year old daughter she said, “Oh my gosh! I can’t even look at this. It’s disgusting!” Let me give you a few examples – Alie wants to learn “How not to blush around cute Earth boys!!”, Ari’s mission is to “Kiss an Earth boy” and her fave activity is “Curling her hair with her magic wand (aka curling iron)!”, Mae’s mission is to “Become the BIGGEST pop-star!”, and Yna doesn’t get “Flats and tennis shoes.” In the words of Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers “Really!?!”

The third launch is “Team Barbie”, www.icanbe.barbie.com/en_us/dolls/team_barbie.html. I am positive I have NEVER seen a woman look like this before, during or after a workout! Really, it is just regular ol’ Barbie in a swimsuit or tennis outfit. I do think it is funny how gymnastics doll is wearing heels. I didn’t see any of the gymnasts at the US Olympic Trials in heels! However, on a positive note, I think it is great that the largest toy company in the world, Mattel, sees a need for a sports doll. I don’t agree that it should be a scantily dressed Barbie, but it certainly gives me greater validation about the Go! Go! Sports Girls.

I have always felt strongly that we should teach girls to be true to themselves and encourage them to be physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. We are all consumers and we all have voices. Show your power and make your voice strong! Please share with me your comments and thoughts. I would love to hear them and thanks for reading!

Jodi

8 Responses to “Bratzillaz, Novi Star, Team Barbie, Oh My!”

  1. Native Girl says:

    I have not seen the other dolls, but I did see the bratzillaz, and I have to say I am a fan of the monster high dolls… I also wrote a post a few nights back about this… http://native-visions.com/bratz-ripoff-monster-high/ I think it is very tacky for companies to “copy” other companies that are rocking the teens. It really saddens me companies to this, I know these are dolls my daughter will never had, we will be sticking to the monster highs.

    • We wrote about the shallow cues being sent via the Monster High dolls in granular detail on Shaping Youth, so would love to hear your point of view as to what makes them noteworthy, other than the goodwashing that surrounds them. (not trying to pitch a fuss, genuinely would like to know)

      As a former new product dev creative director, I ‘get it’ that Mattel is trying to reframe the line as misunderstood, but the more research we’re unearthing on these toxic cues in the episodes (see Dr. Jen’s post complete w/timelogs; will send links if you wish) it’s readily apparent the age compression is zinging sideways on wee ones.

      It serves only to validate our “take a pass on these dolls” stance regarding the Monster High marketing manipulation: http://www.shapingyouth.org/?p=19119 I truly *would* love to hear the AGES of kids enjoying the dolls and the elements/messages that appeal; how they’re able to sift through the nuance of relational aggression to find value, etc.

      We try to always be fair and I’m working on a new post about the knock-offs, so would love to hear a diff/unique perspective prior, addressing the points in our post w/your own POV.

      As for the Bratzillas and Novistars; I echo Melissa’s critique below multifold with an exclamation point, and thank you Jodi, for presenting some alternatives in the marketplace…because we’re seeing nothing but schlock and awe out there right now in offerings.

      As for Team Barbie, meh; it’s ‘same ol’ boring Babs to me; nothing new/noteworthy on the sports tie ins, at least it’s ‘aspirational’ on the sports front…tho I recall a ‘USA soccer Barbie’ making the rounds in the earlier part of the decade with more ‘real’ uniforms, looking more like an Olympian in R, W, B primary colors vs the pinkification-flower up the fem universality we’re seeing so much of now.

      Choices on the store shelves? Not seeing it. The sameness is now a race to the bottom of trash-n-flash where they all look alike (in M’s words, ‘skid row hookers’)

      The irony of Barbie being the ‘best of the lot’ in mass produced toys makes me shudder…So again, Jodi, thanks for your efforts. Let’s highlight them on Shaping Youth to go along w/the positivity of the Olympics!

  2. Jodi,

    Thanks for this post. Mattel really has me scratching my head with those Barbies. I appreciate your efforts to give our girls alternatives.

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  4. Erin T. says:

    I’ve seen Monster High and I’ve seen the Bratzillaz. We love Monster High, because it’s mixing creepy and fashion and fun. My niece loves stuff like that. The Bratzillaz are all witches and more fashion-like. So I don’t think it’s a competition between the two. Really, the Bratzillaz we saw has the big eyes, big lips, pants, boots, purple hat, purple hair. Nothing wrong with that!

    I went to check out the new Novistars – I am not sure how they will transform them into dolls. The cartoons are never exactly the same as the dolls themselves. I think it’s a fun, new look. I think you are looking a little too deep into their quirks, or not deep enough. The one who doesnt get flats or sneakers only really floats. Their fave foods can use a make-over, though. LOL.

    Finally, Barbie. She looks fine. In Olympic Trials they ARE all done up and made-up for gymnastics, skating, etc. I don’t think they are for track. And I am pretty sure she is going to kick her shoes off for gymnastics. At least girls don’t have to feel so bad if they lose them immediately.

    I think the important thing is to have a goal and recognizing who is in your industry, which you do have with Go Go Sport Girls. But by cutting down popular choices – that’s not going to do it. There is room on the shelves for a wide variety of dolls with varying attributes that girls can appreciate.

  5. Thank you for bringing attention to these three new doll lines, Jodi.

    We need to think about the messages we send our children in the form of their toys. In the case of Bratzillaz (and Monster High), the “tackiness” does not come from being unoriginal (that is how MGA got its start) but rather on selling dolls that look like skid row hookers to very little girls. I continue to be baffled by parents who excuse these kind of dolls, when the clothing on the dolls are direct crossovers from the porn and sex trade industries.
    Cheap and easy sex is not a message my six year old needs, as I spend every day encouraging her to be intelligent, confident, and proud of who she is. Parents need to think about the long term effects of toys that push sexiness and the Thin Ideal on their young children.

    The Novi Star dolls feel like the toy equivalent of the “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother does it for me” t-shirt. Yet another doll line dedicated to a narrow version of beauty and dumbing girls down to be socially acceptable.

    And Barbie is Barbie, she only knows one way to be. It is formulaic and boring.

    My family (and my business) will remain strong supporters of Go Go Sports Girls and your excellent dolls because it is everything I want for my daughter in a toy. We absolutely love our swimmer and runner dolls. Thank you, Jodi, for making the kind of dolls that girls deserve!!

    :) Melissa

  6. Ellisa says:

    I’d like to point out that this was the swimmer Olympic barbie that I used to have:

    http://www.amazon.com/SWIMMING-Champion-BARBIE-REALLY-Olympics/dp/B004ZS8JF6

    While the her body proportions were still hopelessly unrealistic, I loved that she reminded me more of an athlete than any other dolls being marketed at the time. Her hair was short and practical for a swimmer, and she came with her own goggles, sweat suit, and gold medal. The best part was that you could wind her up and she would actually swim. This was from 1999.

    I had hoped that by 2012, the dolls marketed would be more inspiring to young girls, not less. Sadly we seem to be going backwards when we should be moving forward. The swimmer Barbie in your post seems more concerned with staying cute (not messing up her perfect hair or makeup, for example) than doing any actual swimming. With all the progress being made for women in other areas, this is unacceptable to me. This just shows that its not that Mattel CAN’T make a doll that real girls can look up to, it’s that they’re actively choosing not to. I’m glad that there are companies like yours that give girls something realistic and powerful to look up to. There needs to be someone moving in the right direction.

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