I borrowed the questions from A Bintorong's Lagoona discussion. It was so spot on to help pinpoint the strengths & weaknesses of the character.
1. What is at the heart of Cleo's appeal to you? How would you describe her essential style, personality, or monster identity? And have her dolls, in your opinion, generally lived up to that identity so far? Do you think there is a need to "get back to basics" with Cleo? Is there an existing Cleo doll that you see as "the one that got it right"?
2. What makes Cleo dolls too similar to each other? What "samey" aspects of Cleo dolls could be switched up more often without getting away from what makes her Cleo? What missed opportunities for innovation have you noticed with Cleo dolls?
3. What would your ultimate Cleo(s) be like? (Wild imaginings welcome, but also what would make a basic Cleo doll in street clothes the best ever!)
1. I like that Cleo is brash and entitled yet hidden underneath that is a heart of gold. It makes her one of the most well-rounded MH characters. She has a few dimensions to her. Her melodramatic personality is funny and endearing. I'm not sure what I'd say her essential style is outside of being very Cleopatra-esque. In keeping with her monster origins she sports a lot of gold pieces adorned with scarabs and phoenixes, and her clothes often feature papyrus prints. That all works well for her aesthetically and thematically. I feel the only way Mattel truly needs to get "back to basics" with Cleo is in regards to the shape of her eyes. Most of her 2013 dolls had round eyes. They didn't look nearly as good as her original larger almond shaped eyes. Luckily her BC doll has the almond shaped eyes, and that gives me hope for future Cleo dolls.
2. If there's any samey-ness to Cleo's dolls it's the things I mentioned above -- lots of gold, scarabs, stuff like that. But overall I don't find Cleo's dolls to be samey. There's some nice variety among her dolls.
3. My ultimate Cleo would have a faceup like her Scaris doll. For hair either something like her SO doll (minus the tinsel), or her SS bob. It would have a lot of teal in it. Not sure about outfit. Something as detailed as her SO outfit, but a little less funky. It would emphasize her queenly roots. Lots of gold. Use the same material as her SS swimsuit.
1. Cleo is not so popular around my house, I think that is why I chose her. Her basic attitude is rather brash & entitled. Yet, she has this hidden little girl who is being forced to live up to almost impossible expectations. (Daddy & Nefera bullying her) I actually come from a home where I was expected to live up to unspoken expectations, so I kind of identify with her. She wants to be nice, bu family pressures cause her to act snobby. Her essential style, to me, is very mummyish. Wrappings are a major feature, mixed with gold & blue.
2. As for sameyness, putting the tinsel in her hair every time is a bit of over kill. It makes it very hard to style her hair in anything other than the factory style. It would be nice if hey made more in he vien of her picture day doll (minimal tinsel & a focus on other elemens of Egyptian style).
3. The ultimate way I would love to see Cleo is in white instead of gold. A simple pleated high low skirt with a bandage type halter top. Softer makeup, maybe with the khol on her eyes being a dark grey instead of black. Her jewelry being the only points of gold on the outfit. It would be a clean & refreshing take on her. I am still rying to come up with a cracked mirror version of her, but it is hard since they have focused so much on her snobby side already.
^ I like your idea for Cleo in white a lot. I think she'd pull it off fabulously and the color would fit her thematically. Great idea!
Cleo is my favourite MH lady and I'm sad we rarely get dolls of her :( What we do get is pretty awesome, though, apart from that gelled helmet-hair her I <3 Shoes got XD
1) The heart of Cleo's appeal and basics of style: For me, the appeal of Cleo is her drama queen personality by far, because I'm a drama queen irl too. However, she is very realistic too, since her attitude is based on the fact that she has to live up to her family's expectations, like Gabby Goyle said. However, too many people only remember her on season 1, when she was an antagonist, and still try to see her as one even though she has clearly matured a lot from then. Her basics of style are gold, typical Egyptian designs (even her Gloom Beach fan was exotic), scarabs, eyes of Horus, and of course the mummy wrappings.
A "get back to basics" with Cleo should be, IMO, give her LOTS of jewellery like her Basic doll. Cleo is supposed to be a very "decorated" character, but nowadays her dolls hardly ever get any jewellery. Her Picture Day didn't even have earrings and had very plain hair, she felt unfinished! Cleo must have lots of jewellery. Also what John said: I hated these 13 Wishes era round eyes.
2) "Samey" aspects, missed opportuities: I do think that Cleo, while she rocks the look, has had too many of the "bangs and loose hair" hairstyle. Her Basic, her DotD, her Skull Shores (while the hair was short, it was still pretty much the same), Mad Science, Picture Day... they all have that same "basic" look for her hair. While she is rocking it and it's a very cool look, I can't help but want something more for her, like a high ponytail. Also, more things in her hair, like ribbons, plaids.. Women in ancient Egypt did a lot with their hair! While the tinsel is all well and good, we've had enough. I'd also like to see her in white like Gabby Goyle said.
3) Ideal Cleo: This will never happen, but the ideal Cleo would be a full-on Egyptian princess one. LOTS of gold jewellery, super intricate, actual wrappings instead of prints of them, big diadem, black or white clothing like this (ugh, that's a Halloween costume, but that's how I imagine it), some killer sandals like this... Obviously we'll never get a Cleo like that- too bad!
Sadly, while I adore Cleo's personality, behavior and attitude, she does nothing at all for me from a strickly physical point of view. Some of her dolls are truly pretty, like her PD version and her BC version, but she doesn't look enough like a mummy. I wish her monster traits were more apparent. Maybe have mummy bandages incrusted in her skin?
I think it's awesome that Gabby picked up my questions for a discussion about another doll! And, for me, Cleo's a really interesting case. I think objectively she's very, very beautiful. But I'm also not personally that excited about her dolls. I have three-ish Cleos now, but I plan to give most of them to my sister (whom I kind of initiated into my secret collection over Christmas, and who I learned has a deeper aesthetic attachment to luxe, golden Egyptian details than I happen to - who knew?) Anyway, the interesting thing is that when I try to describe to myself why I don't feel profoundly drawn to Cleo, I tend to keep having to backtrack, because I realize my reasons aren't strictly true. For example, I sometimes feel that Cleo's ancient Eqyptian roots make her outfits too literal and not unexpected enough - but then, for better or for worse, MH has really taken some risks with Cleo outfits and given her some pretty funky clothes. (Like, the DOTD dress is so funky I completely fail to "get" it!) And you can't deny that some of the most amazing MH shoes out there are Cleo's. I badly coveted a lot of her shoes and accessories, even when I didn't own any Cleos to wear them.
1. Cleo is drama and luxury. In theory, those values, especially as expressed in fashion, should appeal strongly to me. I particularly love intricate details. But although I feel for Cleo *conceptually* (5000+ yr. old girl who will always be living in her sister's shadow), I find her character on the webisodes to be tiresome and petty. Self-promotion and glamour can actually be charming and funny, and I wish that Cleo had more real charm. Prooobably my dislike of the character gets in the way of her dolls' appeal to me? There are ways of being a queenly character, even a flawed queenly character (like Apple White), that really command my fascination. Cleo's characterization doesn't do that for me.
When it comes to picking a single Cleo doll that "gets it right," I find that my mind goes to items of Cleo's wardrobe that "get it right" instead of particular whole dolls - maybe because Cleo's had a lot of extremely pretty face ups in a lot of colors, but aside from dialing the saturation of her look up and down, the feel of those face ups is often pretty consistent. So the majority of Cleo looks "get it right" to approximately the same extent? As for her fashions, however, I do have favorites: The Scaris dress and scarf are a) playful and a creative new way to do the bandage motif, b) a thematically appropriate nod to Scarisian style, c) colorful, in a great print, and d) paired with AMAZING shoes. The Picture Day outfit is clever and loud and so joyously sparkly. Stripes are a fun way to nod to bandages/the Egyptian motif without going back to the same old asymmetrical legwarmers again and again. The School's Out separates - top and gold metallic tweed skirt, with matching aqua hourglass sandals - are versatile and not too literal. (The neon, graphic asymmetrical arm and leg wraps that Cleo wears *over* her leggings with that outfit are undeniably bold but add some visual noise, for me). The Black Carpet dress and belt are simply lovely. Art Nouveau adds a certain unplaceable sadness/wistfulness to the glamour that really gets me. Also, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Ghoul's Rule shoes: the color, the translucency, those impossible gold bricks on the soles!
2. A couple of ways to create future Cleos that I would be more likely to buy/be excited about owning: a) More ornate face ups. The low-saturation Ghoul's Rule face up isn't quite my ideal, but I enjoyed the extra face paint details. If you're an ancient mummy princess and you can be as self-decorative as you want, I think you should really, really go for it. I think an increase in Egyptian painted details - at least on occasion - would give Cleo a more otherworldly feel, which would add to the sense that she's a Monster. And b), more separates in bold colors that wink at the Egyptian theme while still being contemporary. A 5000 year old mummy girl blending her Egyptian tastes with current fashion. Even the oft-repeated mummy-wraps with dangling bandages could be done in a less haphazard, repetitive way: as knee socks, as fingerless gloves, as a high or cowl-necked top.
3.I really like the idea for a Cleo all in white, and for future Cleos absolutely dripping in jewelry. They could take a page out of Ever After High's book! That line is not afraid to make dolls with a LOT of custom jewelry. Personally, I would love to see a Cleo wearing a full-on Egyptian headdress, too - maybe with hair in thin plaits (or crimped?) underneath. I think there's a natural tension, though, between Cleo's luxury theme and Mattel's profit-driven impulse to put dolls in tiny slip dresses. I think you could do an even more luxe and magnificent Cleo than we've seen so far, but it would probably involve committing to more volume and slightly finer materials than are usually on offer.