Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Les Soeurs Garoul

When I was a child, our doll community had “monsters” – usually the result of botched efforts to modify a doll.  It is precisely this type of modification that I feel is an essential element of child’s play.  If children only re-enact scenes and characters they have seen on screen, they have less opportunity to develop imagination and creativity.  So when I first saw the Monster High Dolls, I didn’t like them because they were pre-set characters tied to an animated series.

I also did not like the Monster High dolls’ over-sized heads and swaybacked, anorexic bodies. Yet Clawdeen Wolf was very cute struggling to free New Moon Jacob from his box on Ebony Nicole’s Brooklyn Stars Forever blog.  And then I saw a picture of the green haired, Dawn of the Dance Clawdeen Wolf on Aneky’s Flickr stream. Suddenly I recognized the full power of social networking media as a marketing tool. I looked at Clawdeen Wolf with new eyes and I had to have her.

First I bought the original version of the doll because I liked her make-up the best.  Once I got her home, the articulation of that spavined little body won me over.  I stripped her naked and started making lacy lingerie for her.  Within a week I had also purchased the Dawn of the Dance version.  I bought the Gloom Beach version along with her because I didn’t like the painted on black gloves and I wanted to be able to swap out her hands.  I rationalized that I would give my niece a customized version of the Gloom Beach doll with a motorcycle outfit that would match the gloves.

I must confess that I also watched the animated shorts on-line.  I especially liked the idea of a character who experiences power surges rather than PMS every full moon.  I thought there were some interesting possibilities in a woman who is a bonafide b****.  So next I attacked the hair because after all, what really attracted me to Clawdeen Wolf is that by my reckoning she is a black doll.  I wanted her hair to reflect a more Afro-centric aesthetic and I figured my niece might enjoy having a variety of different looks for her doll.  (Of course I was still pretending that I was going to give the Gloom Beach doll away).

Kudos to Mattel for the quality of their product.  I had so much trouble pulling Gloom Beach Clawdeen’s hair out that I gave up and cut it down to the roots with my sewing scissors.  The ears were my next challenge.  I wasn’t sure how I could make a wig cap that would accommodate them, but it wasn’t as hard as I had feared. 

Another thing I had disliked about the Gloom Beach doll was the strange orange lipstick she was wearing, but oddly enough that shade really made the paprika yarn that looks terrible on almost all of my other dolls pop.  So now I have a family of Cajun werewolves from Opelousas, Louisiana.  Claudine and Claudia are glamour girls, but Claudette is more of a tomboy. I thought it would be easier for her to manage her hair if she stopped straightening it and tried some natural hairstyles:

Claudette is so hot with her hair au naturel that I think her sisters, Claudia, and Claudine might have to give up their fake-looking weaves too.  

À Bientôt


  1. I like Clawdeen's wigs.

    These dolls are interesting. After seeing what others have done with them, examining them up close and personal in local stores, imagining myself clipping Clawdeen's ears or hiding them by restyling her hair, and concealing her fangs with nail polish or acrylic paint, I've tried my best to like them, but I simply cannot.

    Clawdeen's otherwise very cute face (minus the ears and fangs), my imagination, and social media cannot influence me to add her or any of the others to my collection.


  2. Hi Debbie,

    I am usually not into the Goth scene but every now and then the dolls pull that dark side out of me. I bought Cleo de Nile as well my Clawdeen Wolf dolls because I saw her as a woman of color but after I got her home, I lost interest in her. Never made her any lingerie and Les soeurs Garoul took all her clothes so she can't come out of the storage box :-). I keep looking at Draculara but there always seems to be some other doll I want more. I have no interest in any of the other Monster High characters but if they come out with Clawdeen's brother, I'll probably buy him.

  3. That was funny!!! Welcome to the world of, "if you read it (other blogs), you will buy". I love what you did to these girls. And the lingerie, cute, cute, cute. You may have to make some for Danielle for that faithful day when she and Roderick get beyond 2nd base. I don't have any Monster High dolls, and don't have any plans to buy any, but I can appreciate them. I love looking at them when I go to the stores. It's nice to see something so unique.

  4. Hi Vanessa,

    I took Claudia (the green haired one) to a party as a conversation piece because a lot of the people there are into zombies and vampires and whatnot. I'm always amazed at the impulse in human nature that makes people want to look up a doll's skirt and then makes them scandalized if she's not wearing underwear when they were gutter-minded enough to look in the first place. The purple lace skirt has a built in thong for that reason! Maybe we can do a wig/lingerie barter sometime.

  5. limbe dolls - Sounds good to me.

  6. LOL @ this quote:

    I'm always amazed at the impulse in human nature that makes people want to look up a doll's skirt and then makes them scandalized if she's not wearing underwear when they were gutter-minded enough to look in the first place.

    End of quote.

    There is something weird about American culture's fascination with whether dolls wear panties or have them painted or molded on. No underpants mean "bad dolly."

    [And we don't want to talk about the whole Ken bump thing. I mean, would any doll or action figure manufacturer ever produce a doll or an action figure WITH genitalia for the American toy market?]

    I'm not crazy about this series because of the big heads and the emaciated bodies, but they do look great in other collectors' photos.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Lingerie on dolls is optional - for me. Alone, it looks cute. Under clothes, it botches the clothing line for no good reason.

  7. Hi D7ana,

    There was a series of gay male dolls that was anatomically correct. I can't remember their names but you may have encountered them. I was going to buy one but when I saw how generously endowed it was, I was embarrassed. Also I was afraid that people would see him in my doll display, look in his britches and get even more scandalized than they are when they look up a female doll's skirt and she doesn't have underwear.

    Interestingly enough 18th century fashion dolls that were sent out to the colonies from Europe were anatomically correct with a cleft in the crotch and some even had pubic hair!

  8. I came across these dolls a few days ago and came back to say that your customization of them is breathtaking. Of course, your other works are too, but being an MH fan these capture my attention the most. They're beautiful, and sadly intriguing in the way we're a long way from dolls being sold this way.

    Going through your other work, I see your Cleo has gotten it a bit better now that Nefera has arrived. ;D May I ask, do you consider the character Robecca Steam WOC (I do, but I might be less qualified/experienced to say that) and will you get one? And what is your opinion on the Daughter of Arachne design?

  9. Hi,

    Thanks for your comments. I'm a little puzzled by my attraction to the MH dolls because I don't like dolls with disproportionately large heads and I have never been into Goth stuff. Still I think the MH dolls, fashions, and accessories are the most interesting products on the playline market in terms of design so I find myself compulsively collecting them.

    That said, I don't follow the MH website or watch the cartoons so I didn't know about Robecca Steam and Daughter of Arachne. Thanks for cluing me in. If I could find Robecca Steam I would snap her up in a heartbeat. Don't care whether Mattel intended her to be WOC, she is to me.

    The Daugher of Arachne face screen looks disturbingly like a Golliwog or a blackface minstrel but if I found one, I would buy her too and re-christen her Kali after the Hindu goddess.

    Since the regular MH characters are so hard to find, I am focusing on the Create a Monster packs at the moment. For me the sea monster is Nagini, a Hindu water sprite. The puma boy is her brother because he has the same blue skin. The skeleton is Pomba Gira Rosa Caveira, a Brazilian orixa. The ghost is her sister -- I gave her long dreadlocks although she could probably be la Llorona as well. I would like to repaint some of the cat sets and make a leopard, a panther, and a sphinx. I would also like to repaint a vampire boy as Blacula. All this reminds me I'm overdue for another MH post. Got to take some pictures!

  10. I understand those sentiments. The proportions weren't the problem for me, but the huge heels (combined with the girls still being smaller than the guys) and heavy make-up were a bit of a turn-off from a concept that was intriguing. For me, it was the friendship between Ghoulia and Cleo that made me reconsider the dolls, since it meant the franchise wouldn't fall for the one-dimensional-mean-girl trope. Though I'm lucky I didn't start watching the webisodes until Volume 2 - about half of the Volume 1 webisodes are as shallow as one would fear. And of course, from there I went back to acknowledge the dolls' qualities.

    So I am not the only one who finds DoA's design... perhaps worthy of toning down the red lipstick. The design is very popular among fans for its spider qualities, but it confused/s me that no one pointed out the Blackface-ish look, or that if she'd win/won, she'd (have) be(en) the most dark-skinned character of the franchise, and at the time would've been the first black character outside of the Wolf family, ánd would be the first character to be darker than expected rather than whiter. For what it's worth, Mattel just days ago trademarked "Wydowna Spider" and people are holding their breath the doll will be announced for production at Comic-Con, from 12 to 16 July.

    Depending where you live, you should be able to find Robecca in stores by early July to at latest mid-August.

    And perhaps this interests you too - there's been a leak recently about two future characters that will likely be formally introduced at Comic-Con. One's a Mexican skeleton named Skelita Calaveras, the other a probably-Chinese dragon named Jinafire Long. I'm also wondering if a recently introduced gingerbread boy is supposed to be black... a little on the blackface side though, and believe that he'll have a toy at some point. But his cookie design might not be what you are looking for in a POC doll/toy (he's featured in the webisode "Home Ick" if you are curious).

    You have some great ideas for custom monster types. Kali is a great match for DoA and an orixa would be a perfect actual cast addition. My own diversity hopes for future monsters lie with a saci (with one see-through leg to fit the doll mold), a descendent of Cheela/Paula Dupree, a wendigo and/or raven mocker, the rat demon from "The Boy Who Drew Cats", a rakshasa and a vanara, and a yowie and/or nargun. If Comic-Con will have the announcements hoped for, that could be a nice step up for some better franchise diversity. Because much as I love MH, it's not that inclusive right now.

    On the topic of hair though, what is your opinion of Howleen's afrohawk and Ghouls Rule Clawdeen's haircut?