LIBERATION 58: MONSTER HIGH CATTY NOIR
Monster High is one of those great properties that both kids and collectors can’t get enough of. Much like real world teenagers, the children of famous monsters find high school to be by turns fun and frustrating, friendly and frightening. Unlike most real teens, these teens embrace their ‘freaky flaws’. The wonderful web television series chronicles their (mis)adventures and drives home the idea that maybe your flaws just aren’t as big of a deal as you think. Now there’s a concept I can get behind. Starting with an initial set of six dolls in 2010, there are now dozens of different characters. Catty Noir is a new arrival to Monster High- a burnt out teenage pop star who just wants to attend high school and maybe make a few friends. She is freakishly superstitious, finding luck from broken mirrors, walking under ladders, and of course, the number 13. Mattel released Catty initially on Friday, September 13th- she was hard to find at first, but she’s now shipping in greater numbers.
I haven’t had to complain about packaging in a while, so it’s probably overdue. Taking this doll out of the box is annoying. She’s posed in her box as if she’s in the perfect breeze of strategically placed fans- an effect which is achieved by what felt like dozens of little tiny plastic tags. Her dress, her hair, her head- they were everywhere! Once I finally got her out, I was relieved to see that there was no permanent damage, except of course for the holes in her head from the two plastic tags. Fortunately, they are small and well covered by her hair.
Okay, now that that’s out of my system- on to the review!
While I love the Monster High dolls, their body molds are more than a little creepy when undressed. Barbie’s mold seems amazingly realistic by comparison. For comparison purposes, we’ve included a ballerina mold Barbie along with one of the now-defunct Jan McLean Designs’ Lollipop Girls. I’ve always found the Lollipop Girls to be anorexic thin, but Monster High makes her look positively well fed. To be fair, Catty is a bit shorter- 10.5 inches instead of 11.5 for the other two- but even so, Catty is much thinner. Her arms in particular seem spindly. In addition, apparently one of the side effects of being a teenaged monster is a severely deformed spine. Once dressed they look much more normal, fortunately. They also have the dreaded ‘molded panties’, although you can’t see them that well since black on black doesn’t photograph very well.
Despite those criticisms, I have to say that I love the Monster High body. Why? Two reasons- poseability and attention to detail. The knees, elbows, and wrists of these dolls all have a great range of motion. Catty can put her hands under her chin- most dolls this size can’t. Her legs can swing out into various action poses. This is a good time to mention Catty comes with a newer crotch rocket stand. While I normally prefer waist grabbers, this one is an exception. In the picture immediately below that shows the range of joint motion, she is being held in place only by her stand! In addition to letting you pose her in all kinds of crazy positions, the new stand doesn’t interfere with posing her tail, which is also a huge plus. She has a particularly long and graceful tail compared to my other werecats. Below that you can see a comparison of hands between Catty and fellow monsters Torelei Stripe(top) and Clawdeen Wolf(bottom). They all have wide, graceful hands with individual fingers. Torelei’s hands have molded on spiked gloves, while Catty’s right hand looks like it’s ready to claw someone- and also looks quite natural holding her microphone.
One of the other things I love about the Monster High line is they try to make each doll unique. That includes having a lot of head molds. In the close up below, I have Torelei, Catty, and Clawdeen. As you can see from the ears, they all have unique molds. Catty’s ears are more delicate looking than the others, an effect which is enhanced by using light pink paint for her inner ears. That same pale pink color is used to give her a more catlike nose. Her eyes, lips, and eyebrows are done in various shades of magenta which stands out nicely against her charcoal black skin. Her eyes are dramatically outlined in silver, with a line of silver glitter just below each eyebrow. She has permanently attached earrings- two translucent magenta hoops in the right ear and a number 13 in the left. Her hair is pulled back into a long ponytail that reaches almost to her knees, with a thick strand of hair wrapped around the ponytail fastener. Two shorter strands frame her face and are secured carefully in place with magenta thread. Her hair is mostly magenta, but there is a lighter cotton candy pink mixed in.
Catty’s outfit is completely over the top, suitable for any pop star. Her dress starts with a form fitting silver bodice, held in place by a single black elastic strap over her left shoulder that matches her skin tone. True to Catty’s superstitions, the bodice is covered with black lines to evoke the idea of a broken mirror, with the lucky number 13 in magenta on the upper shoulder. There is a tiny ruffle of silver netting around the waist. The skirt is a fantasy creation: miniskirt short in front, but made of wide strips hanging several inches below her feet. I had originally thought there were only two layers to the skirt, but there are actually three: magenta tulle heavily decorated with multiple sizes of round silver sequins on top, the same tulle decorated more sparsely with magenta sequins, and then magenta stretch satin on the bottom. It creates a very full back, and the long length lets you fluff out the train to create the illusion of movement. The tall silver boots are an up to the minute trendy heel less style, decorated with molded in cracks to match the dress. The boots are hard plastic and snap in place around the doll’s calves, and the seam is cleverly disguised as one of the main cracks. For jewelry, there are four plastic bracelets and a necklace. Two of the bracelets are identical metallic-look magenta bangles with tiny studs. The third bracelet is almost identical, but has a single large knob in place of one of the studs. The final bracelet is a silver metallic-look creation molded to look like two simple bangle bracelets. The necklace is the same magenta metallic look as the bracelets, with a bit of ‘broken glass’ hanging down from a thick choker collar. She has a matching magenta microphone with a side handle that fits very nicely in her curved right hand. Also included are the previously mentioned stand and a copy of Catty’s diary- a nice little touch that comes with many of the Monster High dolls. In addition to giving some insights into the doll’s personality, it gives you info on the character’s personal style, freaky flaw, and of course most and least favorite school subjects.
Redressing the Monster High girls is a challenge- their body shape is pretty unique, so most other dolls’ clothing is too big or too long to look good. The Lollipop Girls’ pants and skirts worked well- especially since they fastened with snaps so there was room for the tail to come through. To my surprise, even though their feet are quite different, she could wear the LG boots as well. Any of the LG tops with sleeves looked pretty weird, but I was able to overlap the velcro to make the pink and lavender tube top below work. By using the same trick I was able to take the outfit from Bratzillaz’s Meygana Broomstix and make it work. The Bratzillaz shoes fit perfectly! Right now Catty is still debating what to wear for her first day at Monster High, but you can be assured that whatever she decides, she’ll arrive in style!