I posted this in another thread but i should have given it it's own thread! I'm not sure if this is true or just a rumor but I've been expecting it if it's true!
Styling heads and toddlers are usually a good indication of when things are gonna go down the pan. To be fair, Bratz did pretty well in its heyday and by the time Forever Diamondz was out, they had full-body styling heads with toes. I had one when I was little.
Barbie and Monster High are two very different animals - Barbie hasn't got a very strong storyline, just that she's a gorgeous blonde with some little sisters and a boyfriend, taken down various stories of fairies, mermaids, princesses, fashion modelling, having a ton of awesome careers and just generally living her life with a smile on her face. There's a whole other significance with her, but to the target audience, that's all she really is. On the contrary, Monster High is all about storyline, it's all about characters and universe building. Barbie can survive on her own living her life, but Monster High has really pushed an ensemble cast, so there's no going back, which is one of the mistakes Mattel has made by chopping half the cast. With Monster High there's a certain reliance on a target market (tweens in particular who can notice things like we do) because of the articulation, the detail and the 'creepy coolness' of it, whereas Barbie goes for several different target audiences - she appeals to little kids with the princessy stuff, adult collectors with the collector dolls, and younger collectors with the Fashionistas. Monster High tried to go down that angle and it just didn't work, because it's a very different franchise model to Barbie. You can't just have all of that detail and care taken away without people noticing. That's why the Fashionistas have done so well lately - because all of the ethnic diversity, the body types, it's a step up, not a step down, and Monster High stepped down majorly. In some ways, Barbie's franchise model kind of works in that way, where you can have a rough patch and then pick it up, but Monster High is nowhere near as iconic as Barbie. Other than that, what can I say? She's a legend, and no other doll is as big a deal as Barbie because Mattel knows what to do with her.
Breanna put it beautifully.
I've been collecting dolls for nearly a decade, i've watched lines come and i've watched lines go and i've noticed certain patterns in what SORT of dolls and themes signal problems and also how distribution falters.
For the UK market MH distribution has faltered, it's following the "we've given up on this" pattern i've seen so many times before. Stores aren't getting new stuff in, less and less shelf space is being given over to them, they're disappearing from the high street stores. that's not a good sign. In my experience, the UK is a far more brutal and unforgiving market than the US one, we seem to give up on lines long before they finally die in the US but it's usually the first symptom of a deeper underlying problem. Once the UK market gives up on your product, you've got about a year at best to limp on in the US market.
It's like being told "it's terminal"
Adding to that the themes and certain.. dare I call them tropes that seem to accompany a floundering brand. Loss of articulation for a brand who was known for being jointed is a big one. Gimmicks galore to the expense of everything else is another. Fairies, mermaids, princesses in a line that never had these previously, also a symptom. Babies, toddlers too. Not that these couldn't be handled well, but they seem to be part of this "kids like x, let's ram that in and hope it gets some sales!" mentality lines get toward the end of their run.
An over reliance on cheap moulded plastic clothing, hair, etc is a huuuuge sign of a franchise having no money put into it. When a line isn't popular enough their funding is cut, and that's why you see the cheapening. MH's had their budget cut, which means they're a line who's popularity is waning. the fact that they didn't pump cash into the reboot suggests to me that Mattel haven't really got much faith the reboot will work to revive sales.
MH isn't getting the love, attention or money invested into it because it's just not worth enough to gamble with. And that to me, is a sure sign that Mattel themselves have given up on it. Now they're just milking the last few bits of cash they can out of it before they put it to sleep.
You can't compare other dolls to Barbie because Barbie isn't just a doll line, she's this... icon. She's THE fashion doll. She's such a huge thing that people use the term "barbie" to refer to ALL Fashion dolls. Even at her worst she's still huge. She's part of the collective subconcious. Everyone knows what a Barbie is just like everyone knows Cocacola. It means that Barbie literally CANNOT DIE, ever, she's just flat out unable to ever not be produced.
Other doll lines come and go, barbie is eternal.
even when no effort is being put into Barbie she still bloody sells.
I feel like Mattel simply didn't know how to handle the MH franchise. They're so used to marketing something like Barbie which takes zero real effort and who's target market is this broad demographic with "little girl" as the primary market and the one they try to attract.
When MH first came out it immediately attracted tweens and teenagers, two groups Mattel have NEVER targeted with Barbie. The groups who have stopped caring about fashion dolls. That in between group who are too old for barbie but not old enough to be "collectors". And I don't think they knew how to handle it. They kept doing what they did originally and that worked out fine, but when they started to try to expand their demographic to those comfort areas I think they lost sight of what had worked in the first place. Those attempts to make it more appealing to little girls made it less appealing to the tweens and teens, and the reboot is a final nail in the coffin telling those older kids "this isn't for you, we didn't want you liking it, you're not the target market we wanted, gtfo."
Which is pretty damn rude and alienating.
But Mattel aren't the only company to have this sort of knee jerk reaction that's bit them in the butt. Warner Brothers did the same thing with Young Justice. "girls like it, girls don't buy action figures/we don't know how to market action figures to girls, get rid of them!"
Instead of embracing the market, they try to push it away to get the market they wanted and it feels so short sighted and foolish.
MH manage to tap a market no other doll franchise has tapped. Kids who were aging out of fashion dolls.
that's HUGE. But Mattel seem to have decided they don't want to tap an untapped market, they want the sweet comfort of a market they know. And I just don't think it's working.
The reboot wasn't just an attempt to get new fans, it was an attempt to get rid of the old, the unwanted "too old" fans. Retconning everything and starting again was a way of saying "Nope, we don't want our old community and old continuity, everything you liked, we're getting rid of, get outta here, this isn't for you"
They didn't HAVE to retcon, they could very easily have just gone on to the next generation, aged everyone up, had the older ghouls all go off to college and start following Howleen, Twyla and a new group of friends on a new series of adventures. But Mattel made a decision to throw away 6 years of world building and start again with a totally different world with a very different feel to it, because they wanted a fresh start? or because they wanted to make sure the old fans knew the franchise they loved was done and finished and this new franchise was different and not aimed at them?
Given their contempt toward older fans recently, I can't help but feel like they intentionally wanted to alienate their old fans. Because we aren't the target demographic, we never were, they got us by mistake and instead of embracing that mistake, they want to pretend like it never happened.
and very very stupid.
but yeah, the end isn't near, it's already happened. The reboot isn't Monster High, it's a whole new franchise and we really need to approach it as such.
But it's also a whole new franchise that's getting very little money put into it, which I don't think will serve it well in gaining traction.
Now I'm imagining how awesome a junior cast themed reboot would have been. Howleen, Twyla, maybe some boys...that would have been amazing.
right? I'd have gotten SO behind that man. The potential for guest cameos from the old cast popping in to say hi every so often, catching little throw away glimpses into what the old guys were up to at monster college. Maaaan. So much opportunity there. You could introduce babies with a plot of Howleen coming to terms with no longer being the youngest after her mother has another kid or babysitting her young nieces and nephews so you could do a babysitter set. You could introduce the parents and cover topics like divorce, blended families etc. Which they seem to be wanting to do with the momma wolf/dracula thing in the reboot (which is a bit problematic because 1: what happened to their dad 2: Where's Clawd because he has a doll so... wth? and 3: erp... if Draculaura and Clawd are still dating and are... step siblings... awkwaaaaard.
Also momma wolf gives birth to wolf babies while looking human and that makes my toes curl and my uterus shrivel up inside of me in horror. Just... a human... birthing... puppies. take a moment, process that... collective shudder.
WHY MATTEL!? WHY? it's not cute, it's freaking body horror! It's some like, terrifying Cronenberg stuff right there (in fact, doesn't the woman have a dream in which she gives birth to a fly baby in the Fly?)
I don't know if it's going to end soon but I'm kind of half and half on it? I can enjoy the new reboot movies (they don't have anything on the old stuff but I still think they're fun to watch), I CAN'T enjoy the new dolls (they look awful in every way to me and I won't spend money on them when we all know Mattel can do better) and I would like it if MH would have ended on a high note instead of what the reboot is doing, but... I'm very attached to it and I don't know how I would actually deal with it being completely done with. Forever. Even if I'm not totally into the reboot, at least I know it's still existing, you know?
What amazes ME is that a reboot would have given Mattel every opportunity to put in some real effort and go back to how the line was at the beginning, but instead things are worse and they're just trying to throw out as many cheap doll releases as they can. It feels insulting knowing they can and have done way better.
I feel the same. I don't like the new dolls but I think it would be worse if MH would totally disappear. At least, some young children can still enjoy their new look (the new dolls don't appeal to me at all. I love the G1 dolls because they are so "grown up", creative and unique). And the quality has really declined which makes it even worse. Obviously, Mattel does not want to invest money into MH at the moment (EAH are even worse). We'll see what will happen. I think the toys aisles in the supermarkets look really sad without MH (some shops don't even stock them anymore here). Even rebooted, they are still less boring than most. Of course, compared to the G1 dolls, they are a bit of a disaster...I find most of the other dolls lines extremely uninteresting. It is not a good time for playline dolls. Let's enjoy the G1 dolls we have even more then! I do!
Exactly! I'm just appreciating the dolls I have now even more, and not wanting the reboot dolls helps me save more money to spend on the older more expensive dolls I want. Plus there's so much G1 content I can rewatch the webisodes and movies without getting tired of them.
So there at least are some positive ways to look at it :)
Maybe they look so much more cheaper because they aren't making enough money to sustain more expensive fabrics, molds, ect....?
I don't buy that.
They could cut back on the constant releases they keep putting out which would save money and use it to make lines that actually look like care and effort was put into the dolls. It looks like they just want to put out as many dolls as they can instead which = more money to them.
They always do that.
They put out too many lines and they ended up saturating the market. I think too many releases was one of the factor of the MH G1 decline. It sort of killed the product. At some point, there were so many dolls out, it was impossible to keep up and it ended up discouraging even some passionate collectors (I know a few). Even me, sometimes, had moments when I was feeling "exhausted"! Luckily, I never felt I had to collect all the characters.
They always repeat the same mistakes, never sort out issues like the glue heads. They should concentrate on quality not quantity.
I think their budget got cut. Like, Mattel has budgets for each of their lines right? I think MH's budget was slashed because sales had slumped. The fact they then rebooted while keeping the budget low suggests to me Mattel actually don't have any faith in the reboot. If they wanted to do a proper reboot they'd have injected some cash into the budget to make it really good but they didn't, instead they took MORE money away. So they're just churning out cheap tat, which is completely counterproductive to gaining new fans. I don't get it.
I really do feel like Mattel have already given up on MH and just don't want to admit it. Like with EAH, they're limping on with the franchise hooked up to life support, no money being put into it and no passion or effort. They're just phoning it in hoping to catch some last ditch sales, knowing there's fans who'll buy whatever they crap out (there always are). The cost of producing each doll is now so low due to their cost cutting that even on clearance they're probably still making a profit, so what do they care?
They didn't want to take a chance on MH and give it the reboot it deserved, one that had heart. Instead it's this sort of half arsed thing and i'm convinced that Mattel know what they're doing and have purposely taken this route so they can cancel the line and blame the customers for not buying enough. Heaven forbid they be adults and actually take responsibility for their failures or you know, just say "okay, we had a good run but all good things come to an end, let's focus our efforts on the next new franchise!"
Nope, instead they're using this scattershot approach where they churn out loads of different things, but they're all subpar.
MGA needs to get back in the doll game, immediately. Mattel needs a good boot up their arse to stop being lazy and actually innovate again.
Yes, the MH (and EAH) budget was definitely cut. I have read it somewhere (I can't remember where unfortunately). Even so, they could have managed this budget cut in a better way. As I said before, they seem to always repeat the same mistakes. It is a shame.