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We've got two words for you: Goth Barbie.

Posted by on Jul. 17, 2013 at 7:51 AM
  • 8 Replies
Fangs And Fishnets For The Win: 'Goth Barbie' Is Monstrously Successful
by NEDA ULABY
July 17, 2013 2:53 AM
Audio for this story from Morning Edition will be available at approximately 9:00 a.m. ET.
i
Mattel
We've got two words for you: Goth Barbie.

Not only does such a thing exist, but after Barbie, it's the best-selling doll in the world. The dolls of Monster High are bone-thin beauties all related to famous monsters. They come with books and Web episodes that follow their stories in that place where everyone feels like a freak — in high school.

Monster High is made by the world's biggest toy company, which also manufactures Barbie. But no one at Mattel expected Monster High to become one of the biggest retail sensations of the past several years. Last spring at Toy Fair, New York's annual showcase of top toys, Monster High wannabes were everywhere — even zombie princesses that Walt Disney could have never imagined, including zombie Snow White and a zombie Little Mermaid.

In the hopping Toy Fair compound run by Mattel, Barbie's pink displays seemed almost dowdy and passe next to Monster High's glamorous dolls, which look like the underfed love children of Tim Burton and Lady Gaga. Mattel's Dana De Celis is showing off a pretty brunette doll with flowing hair and wolfish ears: "She's our werewolf so she's gonna howl for us," De Celis says as the doll issues an electronic wolf howl. "She tosses her head back, she arches her back, she closes her eyes and she is literally howling at the moon."

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"The message about the brand is really to celebrate your own freaky flaws, especially as bullying has become such a hot topic," says Cathy Cline. She's in charge of marketing for Mattel's girls' brands — and sales have surged 56 percent this year, thanks to Monster High. "And it's also one of the fastest growing brands within the entire toy industry," Cline adds.

Mattel had no idea Monster High would — in just three years — become a billion dollar brand, says Kiyomi Haverly, vice president of design at Mattel. "Honestly, it was very surprising to us. We just noticed girls were into darker goth fashion." And Twilight, and zombies — but Monster High dolls are designed for girls ages 6 to 12, so they're not too terribly dark.

The characters are plugged into the same kind of things a cool 16-year-old might enjoy, like rockabilly, snowboarding, and environmental activism. Draculaura, for example (she's Dracula's daughter), can't stand the thought of blood. "She's a vegan. She's turned off by meat," says Haverly. "Girls could really relate to that because that's part of what they're thinking of these days."

But that 21st century relatability surprised toy analyst Gerrick Johnson, who says he didn't take Monster High seriously when the dolls debuted in 2010. "I didn't think it would work. Why does Barbie work? Barbie works because she's aspirational. Girls want to be like Barbie." Johnson says figured the "ghoulfriends" of Monster High would be more like Shrek. "Shrek has never worked in toy format, because no boy wants to be a green ogre from the swamp. He wants to be Luke Skywalker."

But but for Rebecca Salms, Monster High, with all its fangs and fishnets, feels far more relatable than Barbie. Salms is the mother of a 9-year-old, and a self-described ex-goth. But, she says, there is one thing about them that really turns her off. Monster High dolls make Barbie look fat. "Their arms are so skinny that you need to take off the hands to get the sleeves on the arms," she says. "That's how scrawny they've made them."

That hasn't deterred Salm's daughter, Keiko, who's playing with her Monster High dolls in her sunny, lavender painted upstairs bedroom with her friend Jade. They have between them exactly 30 Monster High dolls, and together they play out a scene where two of the dolls set out to teach snooty mummy Cleo DeNile a lesson.

The doll that may ultimately learn a lesson is the toy world's reigning queen. Recently, Barbie sales have been dropping.
by on Jul. 17, 2013 at 7:51 AM
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Replies (1-8):
SyllabaryBisque
by Bronze Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 7:52 AM
1 mom liked this

I flipped out when I first saw the Monster High dolls. I loved Barbies when I was younger and would have thought the Monster High dolls were the coolest! Lol 

Debmomto2girls
by Platinum Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 7:57 AM

My girls were getting a little big for Monster High dolls when they came out. My youngest had a couple and loved them.  Neither of them were really into Barbies.

They freaked me out a little but so does Barbie...lol.

Mommabearbergh
by on Jul. 17, 2013 at 7:59 AM
Well you do have goth parents who would get that over Barbie. I like them and so does my oldest dd
stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 8:22 AM
My girls are not really fans of the dolls but they have some of the stuff. My hubs always rolls his eyes at my daughter's pink blue and silver monster high purse with skull detail of course.
punky3175
by on Jul. 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Bump
LuvmyAiden
by on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM

My dd loves them. Even has some MH clothes, purses and custom bows. Being different is finally being pushed as ok and I love that.

Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:32 AM
My daughter loved those for a minute, I don't really see the big deal,
la_bella_vita
by Bella on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:26 PM

My DD has shown no interest in them yet but then again she is not a big barbie fan.

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