I was in Wilkinsons in Cardiff a few days ago, a much less traumatising experience than I was expecting as it happens. Anyway, my own prejudices aside, they had some rather fun things.

Being a mature adult I always look at the toy aisles in shops. Sometimes I despair while at other times I’m envious. The off-brand Lego space shuttle was rather cool and the idea of painting little plastic soldiers with glow in the dark paint to use in place of stars on a bedroom ceiling also popped into my head. Where was I going with this odd ramble..?

Ah yes – dolls.

I spotted what toy manufacturers have dubbed “fashion dolls” (technically not a new category, I’m more talking about what it represents as of this decade). The concept behind the product type tends to creep me out a little, particularly when bizarre abominations like “Bratz Babyz” exist:

Babyz

Anyway, from that you should be able to discern my general feelings on the concept. Yadda yadda, outrage, premature sexualisation*, you get the gist of it.

What I saw in Wilkinsons though was more interesting than that though – Monster High.Monster-High-monsterhigh-14503030-1280-800

A range of fashion dolls based on assorted classic movie monsters.

They look glamorous, far too thin, and not one of the females wears flat shoes, but they’ve got a hell of a lot more character than the other dross being peddled. Furthermore they’ve got a wealth of literature and film as a basis so even if their own media sucks (I haven’t checked) they still have a leg to stand on.

x3652-1 The other important factor is that none of them look the same. They may share a similar aesthetic but that’s where the similarity stops. This blog post goes into a bit more detail on the subject. Currently my favourite would have to be Robecca Steam (pictured) but many of the characters have interesting quirks to them.

I’m wondering if this kind of transition to toys which are accepting of diversity through a parallel setting (rather than straight up doll equivalents of human diversity) is going to continue. Personally I find it a lot more tasteful than the Disney Princesses and horrendous barrage of pink junk. Sure, the focus is still shadow, but I’d argue it’s at least a positive step.

 

*I say premature sexualisation because humans are sexual creatures, not inanimate lumps of carbon. It’s in our very nature to be sexual and we need to accept that rather than repress it. I have met several people who don’t seem to have come to terms with their own sexuality, let alone any of the more complex issues such as orientation or preferences. Doing it prematurely is arguably a bad idea though, at least until we have some research that says otherwise. If such research already exists then link me, I’d rather be corrected than remain ignorant and opinionated.

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