Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Coffin Bean + Clawdeen Wolf Playset

The day I bought this playset marked a turning point in my Monster High fandom. For the first time, I got a playset simply because I wanted it, not because I had to if I wanted the doll sold with it. In fact I really had no interest in this particular doll at all; while carrying the box to the register I gave her a cursory glance, deemed her "adequate", and continued on my way. This would come back to bite me (in the best possible sense), but I'll get to that later. And while to the average Joe this may seem like nothing -- You wanted the set instead of the doll? Big deal. -- you fellow doll collectors probably recognize the importance. I have transitioned from hardcore doll collector to just plain hardcore collector. No longer content to just buy the dolls, I now want everything associated with this little world Mattel has created. And that can be dangerous -- it's expensive and it eats up your time and suddenly things like the color of that one inch long fork become important. If I was drinking the Kool-Aid before, now I might as well be bathing in it. Because let me tell you, this is one awesome playset!

The Coffin Bean is the local coffee shop and occasional hang out of the MH crew. I didn't know this, but apparently Lagoona works there (causing some consternation among fans when it was Clawdeen included with the set instead). It makes sense releasing a playset of this -- coffee shops are still seen as pretty hip, and the MH girls are nothing if not cool. Plus the toys needed a place to hang out besides the school and the characters beds. It's certainly better than releasing a salon playset or Frankie's Dream House -- yes, I'm looking at you, Barbie. (Still love ya, though!)

There are actually two versions of this set available. There's this one, which includes all the Coffin Bean pieces and a new Clawdeen Wolf doll. It's a wide release. The second version is a Costco exclusive and includes everything in the wide release plus a second doll, a new Draculaura. I wasn't really feeling that particular Draculaura doll, and the wide release is a lot easier to find anyway, so that's the one I went with. Plus, like I said earlier, I really just wanted the set, not the dolls.

So what does the Coffin Bean comprise of? The biggest piece is a black shelving unit. At the top of the unit is a drawing of a "dead" coffee bean. I assume this is the Coffin Bean logo. There is a cardboard background with drawings of jars containing random, weird ingredients. For added authenticity, there's a drawing of a chalkboard with drinks prices and such written on it. Or at least I assume that's what is written on it -- it's in a monster language I don't understand. It's a really cute detail that perfectly merges the coffee shop-meets-monsters theme of this set. The cardboard is reversible and the other side is more or less the same, but in a bright pink color scheme. You attach the cardboard yourself, using black spiderweb cornices to hold it in place (it's super easy). A small counter with a wide spiderweb leg attaches to the shelves. It just slides in -- once again, it's super easy.

Next is a small couch (really more of a loveseat). It's electric blue (brighter than what my pictures convey) with some nice black detailing, including a cute little spider, running along the top of the seat back. It's molded to look as though it features spiderweb upholstery. I love this piece! The color is great and the black detailing gives it a Gothic edge while still looking totally cute. The couch serves a further purpose: it's the perfect place to display any of your stand-less dolls! The dolls really do look rather elegant and stylish sitting on it. The couch was made to scale (obviously), and it really emphasizes the posability of the dolls.

There's also a high-backed, Victorian style chair. It comes in red and black and is also molded to look upholstered. Check out the little skeleton peeking out over the back; such a cute little detail! Like the couch, this chair goes a long way in making your dolls look like stylish little supermodels. The only problem I had with it is that dolls with particularly fussy hairdos have trouble leaning back; you have to turn their head sharply, and it usually looked pretty awkward. Otherwise, the chair is pretty amazing!

The last piece of furniture is a little black coffee table in the shape of a coffin. It has a small skull molded into the top. I like this table a lot, but do kind of wish it was a little taller. The shortness throws off the scale a bit. In a pinch the table can double as a sitting stool, by the way.

Everything else is the small stuff. There's an apron baring the Coffin Bean logo, a register, a mixer, two drinks, a monster muffin, a pastry, and a magazine. They're all cute and do their job in emphasizing the theme of the set.

So earlier I mentioned how I deemed this Clawdeen doll adequate and it came back to bite me. Here's the deal. Over the course of putting together and photographing the playset I came to realize something: I love this Clawdeen doll! What I thought was a tossed-off cheapie doll to help sell a playset actually seems to have had some thought put into her design. The silhouette, colors, and print of her dress combined with her ponytail hairstyle give her a vaguely 60s look, a bit mod. Her gold studded bracelet and hairpiece emphasize this. Although her dress isn't anywhere near the upper echelon of MH dresses, it's not a cheapie by any means. Her face is quite pretty when you take a closer look at it; it's been coordinated to match her dress, but in a subtle way. (You know how much I love my subtlety). As for her hair, hey, there's no green or purple streaks! Instead we get beautiful orange-caramel streaks mixed in with her usual chocolate-brown.

 Now I already said I like the dress she comes in, and I do, but on a whim I put her in the ghost girl CAM dress and bam, totally perfect!

Overall grade: A+ The Coffin Bean playset is fantastic. It's cute, it's creepy, it's a perfect representation of what makes Monster High so great. Quality seems high for it -- no weird paint defects or misshapen pieces. And the dolls look amazing lounging around in it. On top of that, you get a great Clawdeen doll. Let's say she's beautifully understated; the type of doll whose beauty sneaks up on you. At least, that was the case for me.

But that's not all! All those pics you just saw of the Coffin Bean were taken in the afternoon right after the girls got out of school. Later that evening was open mic night, so Operetta pulled out her guitar and got to strumming. (And yeah I know Operetta's voice makes people deaf or go mad or whatever when they hear it live, just go with it...) Enjoy!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Coming Attractions!

I'll be busy working all weekend, starting in literally a half hour, but wanted to fill you guys in on what to expect over the next week or so. Lots of stuff is in the pipeline, such as...

... Minds can be changed...

... Exciting things often come when you least expect them...

... Clawdeen, Coffin Bean, and Me...

... And the two Robeccas (dun dun DUN!!!)...

In other news, one of my closest friends (like, since we were 5 years old), mailed me my birthday present early. He moved two hours away several years ago but we still talk almost daily. Anyway, I love him dearly! His gift to me was Ghouls Rule Clawdeen. You're probably aware of my general feelings on that line, but since this was the gift of a best friend, I deboxed her to take some pics, and I gotta say -- the girl's photogenic! I probably won't do a full review, but I took a ton of pics of her so that should cover GR Clawdeen for the blog.

Okay, gotta head to work! Hope you enjoyed reading, and have a GREAT weekend!