Monday, 6 March 2017

Undenial Toy Reviews is moving...sort of.

I have an announcement! My toy reviews will no longer be on this blog, but instead I will be reviewing products through my photosets on Flickr.

The reason I'm doing this is because it's become a lot less time efficient for me to put out reviews on the blog and post the images on Flickr afterwards. Don't worry though, I will still be reviewing dolls - just not here.

You can see my first integrated review on Flickr right now, for my first curvy Barbie!
See you there!

Thanks for following and I hope you enjoy my reviews on Flickr.
Breanna Burton

Friday, 6 January 2017

An open letter to Disney regarding Star Darlings

Dear Disney,

My name is Breanna Burton, and I have something to say. I'm a doll collector from the UK who has started collecting, amongst other things, Star Darlings. Now, as you know, Star Darlings is a new-ish brand by Disney that was revealed in late 2015 and revolves around a great storyline of students being chosen as 'Star Darlings' that grant wishes on Earth (or Wishworld, as the characters call it).

Disney launched the brand with a web series, a doll line and a book series. One of the best parts of this series was the books. Shana Muldoon Zappa and Ahmet Zappa wrote a series of twelve books, each one revolving around one of the twelve Star Darlings. Jakks Pacific created the doll line for this series, and I have four of the five available 'Starland' dolls (I still need to find the Libby doll).

The first three that I bought directly from Disney Store
My latest doll, Sparkle Rock Leona
One of my big concerns is that Star Darlings isn't going to last much longer. There's been no signs of new Starland dolls, the two only other revealed dolls (the Wishworld Leona and Libby) haven't been spotted on sale anywhere and the web series has halted pretty much completely. The last book is due out early this year and the next one after that ('Star Crossed Summer') has seemingly been cancelled. My point is that this is a great series, something so different from the worlds of Disney Princesses, Fairies and Frozen that just don't appeal to some people. From reading the first five books, I can tell that this is a well-developed world that shouldn't be wasted, and I kind of feel like the line's been given up on already.

I honestly believe this is Disney's fault. The marketing of Star Darlings has been hugely flawed - the rollout of the dolls was too staggered; when we first got the dolls in the UK, they were already on clearance in the States. There was too much of a focus on the five band members, and that wasn't even the main issue because the others (aside from Cassie) didn't even get voices. Only seven of the twelve characters got dolls, and the first five Starland dolls got four different versions (Star Glow, rings, instruments and book bundles) yet there was no sign of Astra, Adora, Clover, Gemma or Tessa getting anything. There have been seven different Sages (four in the same outfit) and as much as I love Sage, I also love Astra and Adora and they should have dolls too. I speak for all Star Darlings fans when I say that we want to see Astra, Adora, Clover, Gemma and Tessa get dolls, and we want to see more of the other dolls.

The Zappas did so well with the books because they were released on a consistent basis, invested fans in all of the characters, not just the band members, and built an immersive and interesting world. There's detail and thought put into it all, there's a real feel-good feeling to the books in the way that they've created something so fascinating. The characters have distinct talents and more importantly distinct flaws, which teaches readers that...guess what? Everybody has flaws and that's fine. They should be applauded for how awesome they've been in all of this.

Yet Disney seems to have screwed up so many different things and provided some really piss-poor excuses, like not being able to afford actresses for the other, shut up, you're fucking Disney. I realize that there are limits, budgets and things that won't work, but their approach to Star Darlings feels really half-arsed in places. If Disney and Jakks Pacific can roll out more Disney Fairies dolls, you can make the other seven Star Darlings. They can make Starland Piper, Wishworld Vega, all the dolls we're yet to see. They should make Starland Piper, Wishworld Vega, all the dolls we're yet to see. Even if they have to make them Disney Store exclusives, we should be able to get them. There isn't an excuse for not doing it. I mean, look at this comic drawn by Tumblr user highlycrazy:

Credit to highlycrazy on Tumblr
People are concerned. People want to know about these characters and want to hear their voices. Just look on places like Tumblr or LiveJournal - people really like this brand and are interested in it. There are entire fan blogs dedicated to Star Darlings. People draw Star Darlings themed artwork, they roleplay the characters, they keep up with the characters Bright Days, they talk about the dolls and the web series and the books. There is such an enthusiasm about this brand, and they're picking up on the fact that things aren't happening. Look at these quotes:

I hope there’ll be more merch with the other 7 girls once this franchise grows. Those 12 girls are so different but all so relatable, there are so many possibilities but Disney has to use them. - zodiac-darlings on Tumblr

I wish Disney would give some more attention to Star Darlings. I know it’s brand new but I wish they’d focus on it some more. - anim8tedconfessions on Tumblr

People were asking, but according to the official Disney Star Darlings Instagram, there WILL be a season 2 of the animated shorts! - real-life-matilda on Tumblr
and guess what the response was?
But when!? - zodiac-darlings on Tumblr
People want more Star Darlings. You could do so much with this brand that isn't being done. One suggestion: get DisneyToon Studios to make a direct-to-video movie, because they did that with Disney Fairies. They did that six times with Disney Fairies.

Don't get me wrong, this series is far from perfect. These dolls are flawed, the brand is flawed in particular ways, but despite all of that it is a great brand and I love it. It feels like they've already given up on Star Darlings when Disney should not be screwing over the Zappas and all of the great work they've done for us. Most importantly, they shouldn't be screwing over the fans who have waited to see the other Star Darlings as dolls, invested themselves in this brand only to see it cut short without as much as a blink of an eye.

Disney, if you're reading this, I don't mean to be rude, but cut the bullshit. We want the other Star Darlings. We don't want this awesome brand given up on so soon.

And to SD fans,
Stay hopeful,
Breanna Burton

Saturday, 8 October 2016

"Welcome to Monster High" Moanica D'Kay (single pack) Doll Review!

If you saw my review on the Ari Hauntington doll a few weeks ago (if you haven't, take a look at it here) then you'll know that I got her with a few other dolls, because I wanted to get some things using a voucher at Smyths (£10 off when you spend £50). People on my Flickr will know exactly what I got, but for my Undenial Toy Review readers I'll try and be a bit more cryptic about it.

So Ari was the cheapest item I got and the last one I picked. Today I'm going to show you the first one I picked - it's another Monster High doll today, and a very different one to Ari. It's the new zombie character Moanica D'Kay!

I'm so excited to have this doll because she looks just so darn cool, very macabre in a way that no other Monster High doll is giving me. At first, I was sad because technically Moanica is replacing Ghoulia as the resident zombie, but at least Mattel have made her replacement the best doll in the entire reboot line. You'll see exactly why I think that when I review this girl.

At the moment, there are two ways to get a Moanica doll with this specific outfit and hairstyle. The most common way is in a two-pack - the Monstrous Rivals pack which features a new Draculaura doll. That's the way most people are finding her. The other way is...not necessarily more difficult, but less frequent, and that's by getting the single-pack Moanica - that's the way I got her. Single-pack Moanica isn't in as many stores, but I find that there are particular places to get her. I got mine from Smyths, which is the only bricks-and-mortar store that I've seen or heard has the single pack. Toys R Us and Argos both have the two-pack. If you're online, you can order her from Bentzen Toys, but right now she's £18.99 rather than the £16.99 I paid to get her from Smyths. Also, you can see her in person at Smyths and pick the best one. Because why not be picky?

The fact that Mattel has sold this doll in a two-pack and separately may seem like an odd move, but considering there's tons of dolls I've wanted but couldn't get because they were stuck in a two-pack with someone else, I'm definitely grateful.
The sticker is blocking any good light getting in on this photo...

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Monster High Ari Hauntington (First Day at School) Doll Review

Monster High has been a staple of the doll aisles for the past six years, and this year they decided that the brand needed a makeover to cater to a new generation. That makeover has been very, very, very controversial with older fans. There have been good decisions, there have been bad decisions, and a lot of those bad decisions have been focused on by fans. In many ways, I feel like many of the good decisions made by Mattel aren't properly appreciated by the fans - it's the first major face refresh for six years, and six years is a long time to have the same facial screenings on dolls. Not only that, but the film this season is very different in the way that the whole 'ghouls turn into x' formula is given a well-needed rest.

One particularly controversial decision is the axing of popular characters Ghoulia and Spectra. In their place, two new characters have been introduced - Moanica D'Kay and Ari Hauntington. Though Moanica's design and creativity has been generally well-received, Ari is a very polarizing character because of her lack of complexity compared to Spectra, and the fact she's another popstar character.

Today I will be reviewing Ari Hauntington's First Day at School doll. There are three current versions of Ari to choose from - the deluxe gimmicky singing doll, the ultra-basic Popstar Fang Ghouls doll with less articulation, and finally the First Day at School doll, which acts as her signature version.
The newest student at Monster High.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Project Mc2 Ember Evergreen with Deluxe Experiment Doll Review

You didn't think I'd leave Smyths that easily, did you?

After watching season 2 of Project Mc2 on Netflix, I got a lot more excited for Ember because in the series, she's totally adorable. She's a great character who I didn't expect to be as good as she was, so it made me more excited to get Ember's doll. Here's a little backstory about Ember - she's clearly some sort of botanist, and is a Southern belle with a good heart and a love for plants, recycling and composting. The character is played perfectly in the series - she's not too cheesy but definitely has that Southern flair. I just had to have her as a doll.

Therefore, along with the Monster High Minis from today, I also got the Ember Evergreen deluxe doll with experiment. So now Prodge has it's own section - it's moved from the bottom of the left hand side shelf to a tall strip on the right hand side shelf. This includes the new Wave 3 deluxe dolls and core dolls (they indeed had a core Ember in stock) as well as the car and the spy kit, and a few Wave 1 dolls on clearance. My dad asked me why I couldn't just get the ones on clearance, to which I responded that I already had them, to which he responded that I had too many. *eye roll*. I actually was considering getting one of the new versions of McKeyla, Adrienne or Bryden, but I went with my gut and got Ember.

If you haven't read my review on Devon yet, colour me surprised. I got so many page views for that post. Thanks to everyone who read the review, and if you haven't read it, read it here. She's an amazing doll and you should definitely get her.

Enough about Devon, this is Ember's time to shine.
A force of nature. A force for pester power, that power being from me.

Breanna does...Monster High Minis - but do the codes work?

Here's a little confession of mine - I don't like blind bags. I don't like them. I don't like the whole 'surprise' element of it. I'm very insistent on knowing exactly what I'm getting when I get something, so I don't like the risk of getting something I already have. I've never really liked it at all.

However, Monster High has come out with their own blind bag minis. Did I want them? Of course I bloody did. They're one of the best things to come out of the reboot so far. They're cute, collectible and have an okay level of detail. I know who all the characters are, so at least whoever I get I'll be happy with. Nonetheless, I still don't like blind bags. Good thing is that on the Monster High Arena forum there is a list of codes - both American codes and a small selection of UK ones - that meant I could possibly 'cheat' and try and get one I wanted.

So therefore I decided to go on a trek to Smyths. Bless, I had my poor dad looking through the hanging display of figures (which was on the MH aisle itself rather than the blind bag section) to read out the codes, so I could get ones I wanted. Little did I know, there's a diamond-shaped window on the back of the bag. That would have helped hugely.

So here they are - the two that I got:
Ooh...pretty bags. They won't last long.
They come in two forms - bags like these ones, and coffin-shaped containers. I would have liked to get the coffin container ones, but unfortunately Smyths only has the bags. These bags are decorated with a Skullette and various minis from Series 1. The hanging hole is shaped like a Skullette. Major cute. Though the package indicates that this is a complete Series 1 release, I believe that only the first 12 original ghouls are out in the UK as of publication.

My local Smyths didn't have the 3-packs. I do want the 3-packs so that I can get the exclusive figures - for this reason, I'm avoiding getting Lagoona and Catty in the blind bags as they are part of the 3-packs. Same goes for when original Toralei comes out.

If you're wondering where the codes are, I'll show you:
Cheating isn't always bad.
The code system for the UK is better explained on the forum link at the start of the review. In summary, there are two starter numbers and twelve finishing numbers, each of the twelve representing a different character. The characters are in a different order for each starter number. My Smyths had both starter numbers.

The code is on the far side of the bag - it can be either left or right, there's no specific system. Hopefully this works, but from looking in the diamond-shaped window, I'm only certain of one of them being right.

I need to stop worrying and start opening. #ScissorsAtTheReady

Friday, 12 August 2016

Project Mc2 Season 2 Review!

So I just finished Project Mc2 season 2 after spending the whole morning watching it (call me obsessed but I've waited a year for this).

I also livetweeted my reactions to the season on my Twitter @breannaburton79, using the hashtag #ProdgeAndChill. After my initial fangirling, now I'm ready to do a proper review.
The lead cast of Project Mc2, from left to right: Ysa Penarejo as Camryn, Victoria Vida as Adrienne, Mika Abdalla as McKeyla, and Genneya Walton as Bryden.