Consumer Products

Hello dollies!

After a few years of giving Mattel's Barbie a wide berth in the fashion doll category, several toycos are once again vying to give the iconic market leader a run for her money.
October 1, 2012

Novi Stars  With the tagline “What on Earth is going on?,” L.A.-based MGA Entertainment’s Novi Stars uses interstellar imagery and storylines to propel a line of eight-inch fashion dolls. The first four dolls—Una Verse, Ali Lectric, Mae Tallick and Ari Roma—hit US specialty retailer Justice for a special pre-launch promo and have since found distribution at all major toy retailers in North America.

“The innovation of Novi Stars comes in several forms,” says Leon Djiguerian, senior director of marketing at MGA. “Each Novi Stars doll has a unique feature designed to coincide with its personality, which makes the play value different for each character.” For example, Una Verse is adorned with water and glitter floating through her legs, while Ali Lectric, appropriately, lights up in multiple colors.

According to Djiguerian, the dolls will stand apart from MGA’s Bratz brand and other fashion dolls. “There has never been a line of fashion dolls where each character is so visually unique each other,” he says. “They are from another world, which allows for the expansion of imaginative storytelling beyond the traditional ‘Earth girl’ play.”

The dolls (SRP US$19.99 each) will be the subject of a major TV advertising campaign, and MGA has also produced a number of webisodes, blogs and videos to promote the line. Fashion Packs, an Energy Pod playset, a series of pets with names like Zogi, Oko, Lemi and Memba and a Glitter Lamp will also be available.

La Dee Da (pictured)  Released in August, Toronto, Canada-based Spin Master’s latest doll is set to replace its Liv World line and features a fashion-forward theme. “It inspires girls to look at the world differently,” says Rachel Griffin, global communications director at Spin Master. “It also encourages girls to create and design.”

The star of the line, Dee, is joined by her friends Tylie, Cyanne and Sloane and their thematic fashion lines.

“They look at the world as a fashion accessory,” says Griffin. “Dee’s signature line is that her skirt is a map of Central Park and her eye makeup recalls the Statue of Liberty.”

With the tagline “Rowdy Shouty Chic,” there are multiple lines and fashion motifs for the dolls. The Runway Vacay range gives each girl an outfit that is inspired by a different geographical location, while the Sweet Candy collection features outfits inspired by, you guessed it, candy.

The roughly 11-inch dolls are already at mass retail,  priced at US$19.99 apiece. Accessories include Le Bun, a fashion-conscious Daschund that adds a bit of comic relief to the line. And Spin Master is pulling out all of the social media stops to promote its new entry with a heavy presence on Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.

So far, Spin Master is pleased with the reaction at retail and will be promoting the line heavily in the coming months. “Six weeks in, and we are extremely excited,” says Griffin. “We want this to stick around for a long time.” It also has Cartoon Network Enterprises on-board, building a North American licensing program around the new property.

Lottie  UK-based Arklu cut its teeth in the toy biz last year with dolls that depicted Kate and Will’s Royal Wedding, but the young company is now looking to bring a new spirit to the girls-focused fashion doll market.

Arklu's Lottie dolls are meant to reflect what a nine-year-old girl really looks like

“We wanted to do something innovative,” says Lucie Follett, creative director and co-founder of Arklu. “We did a huge amount of research and talked to experts in the fields of nutrition and health, and have developed a doll body that really reflects what a nine-year-old girl looks like.”

The result is Lottie, a seven-inch doll designed as a counterpoint to popular brands such as Barbie and Bratz. “There are fashion dolls out there with makeup, tattoos and high heels,” says Follett. “Our whole direction was to create something super-cute that has lovely hair and beautiful clothes.”

The line emphasizes the curious spirit of girls in the three- to eight-year-old target demo and it currently has  Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter imprints, as well as specialty store distribution in the UK and similar US deals forthcoming. A TV commercial is in the can and will hit airwaves in Q4. Follett says that the company is also exploring possible publishing and games extensions for the dolls.

About The Author
Gary Rusak is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He has covered the kids entertainment industry for the last decade with a special interest in licensing, retail and consumer products. You can reach him at


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