I feel kind of bad about this, because I have plenty of Monster Highs I haven’t posted about yet and here I am doing a re-feature. Then again, I only have two Ghoulias, so she seemed like the obvious doll for this post. Also, she’s always nice to come back to now and again because she photographs so beautifully.
I’ve not bothered very much with Ghoulia because – I’m sorry, I know this is probably not going to win me any Ghoulia-loving friends – I just don’t think that later waves have lived up to the first-wave version. First-wave Ghoulia is a perfect Emo doll, she’s accurately observed and oozes character. I love her fingerless gloves and her layered tops – she’s stylish, but still alternative and slightly geeky. Later-wave dolls have often been beautiful and glamorous but (actually, partly because of this) they’ve never quite caught the mood as far as I’m concerned. Skull Shores saw Ghoulia make a little foray into a vintage look and this suited her just fine, but then of course Operetta came along and that was the end of that.
Anyway, back to the point. I’m posting double Ghoulias because I’m interested in the whole phenomenon of waves, which is basically a way of selling the same doll with minor changes over and over again. Often, dolls from different waves are intended to represent the same character in different situations. Monster High has pushed this approach to the limit – there are roller-skating dolls, sixteenth birthday party dolls, having your school photo taken dolls, even sorting your wardrobe out dolls. As a consequence, there are doubtless plenty of children (and collectors) with bulging cupboards full of many versions of the same doll. Compare this to the situation thirty years ago, when what manufacturers sought to sell most of were the fashion packs, not the dolls.
So yes, if you were going to be cynical you could say that its a way of wringing more money out of us, and you would be right. But the fact is, its also a popular approach with the doll-buying market, and I think its popular because in some ways it allows us to suspend our disbelief just a little bit further than we would have done otherwise by showing us different episodes in the doll’s “life”. As a child, I remember being very aware that there were limits to how much I could change my doll in order to fit in with whatever story I was telling. For example, if I had a doll who was very made-up, it would disappoint me that she would have to look that way all the time, even if she was gardening or camping. If she had a very elaborate hairstyle, I would think about how uncomfortable it would be to have to go to bed in it, but if I took her hair down, what would we do the next time she had a party to attend? I’m not a hundred per cent convinced that producing the same character in different situations is a perfect answer to this, but I can understand why it appeals to so many.