An informal timeline of recent doll developments shows a plethora of increasingly articulated fashion or playline dolls available in your average department store or toy store.
In 2008, the Jakks Pacific Juku Couture girls appeared. 9” high, they had inset eyes and jointed wrists, ankles, knees, elbows and necks. I should mention that their heads were in scale with their bodies, unusually enough for this trend. [What happened to the Juku Couture line? Did it fizzle? I don’t see them in stores any more.]
2009 saw the dawn of the Liv Dolls, made by Spin Master. Their bodies were in 1:6 scale, with single-jointed elbows and double-jointed knees. Their heads, however, were large, with inset, nonchangeable eyes and swappable wigs. Unlike the Juku Couture dolls, the Liv line thrives today.
In 2009, the Mattel Barbie Fashionistas appeared in two limited colors: pale and slightly brown. They were overall 1:6 scale, bodies AND heads, except for a bit of bobblehead syndrome due to their slightly large heads. They were jointed at wrists [except for the Kens], elbows, neck, underbust and knees. Collectors and action figure enthusiasts love Fashionistas for rebodying less articulated characters.
This year, 2010, the Mattel Monster High dolls debuted, notable for their frail [in terms of physique, not construction] bodies and unusual skin tones. They were articulated like Barbie Fashionistas, but their feet and heads were oversize for their bodies. The Monster High dolls prove very popular among collectors; I have no idea how they are going over with their intended audience.
2010 also saw the Moxie Teens by MGA Entertainment. At 14” tall, these dolls were not technically 1:6 scale, although their clothes could fit a lot of 1:6 action figs. Articulated like Barbie Fashionistas, Moxie Teens had heads similar to Liv Dolls: oversize, with inset eyes and wigs. I have no idea of the popularity of Moxie Teens.
I don’t hop on every fashion doll trend that occurs, but I sure like the tendency to greater articulation [even if I DID buy the Moxie Teens only for their outfits]. I like having a diversity of bodies for my action figs, and I like when I can buy fashion-doll bodies at a local bricks-and-mortar store more cheaply than I can purchase action-fig bodies online.
I highly dislike the trend of big fat heads, though. It’s not that I deplore the aesthetic; in fact, I think that the Monster High Dolls and the Moxie Teens are pretty cute [though I have successfully argued myself out of buying or keeping any]. I just don’t like big heads because then I can’t use them with 1:6 bodies. You see – I’m a fan of consistent scale, and big heads on little bodies just don’t work in my 1:6 universe. I would like Monster High dolls even more if they had 1:6 heads. THEN they could fit into my universe and do so cutely too!
There is no profound conclusion to this post, although I DO wonder where the craze for articulation amongst fashion and playline dolls came from. Perhaps an influence started among expensive collector fashion dolls, such as Integrity’s Fashion Royalty, who were well articulated before it was popular. Perhaps another source of inspiration is the increasing popularity of Asian ball-jointed dolls, who are engineered to move and pose. Maybe doll manufacturers realized that minimally articulated dolls limit posing and playing possibilities, but I doubt that.