What It IsMattel is taking a big risk, unveiling its newest full property in a long time. Conceived not just as a toy line but as a full entertainment franchise, Monster High includes dolls, books, clothes, accessories, online experience and, of course, entertainment.
Will it be a hit? Well, chances are it's going to be a sensation and attract a broad array of tween girls. Think Twilight with a humorous edge, and add in great products and a novel by tween favorite Lisi Harrison (author of the bestselling Clique series) and you've got all the elements of a blockbuster.
As the story goes, the kids of Monster High are just what the school's name implies—monsters. Although, fiercely fashionable monsters, of course. Moreover, they are the teenage children of legendary monsters and they're all starting high school.
The Monster High story focuses on Frankie Stein, recently zapped to life by her dad Frankenstein. On her first day of school, Frankie meets new friends in Mad Science class: Draculaura, daughter of Dracula, is a sun-loving, vegan vampire. Clawdeen Wolf, daughter of The Werewolf, is a fierce fashionista who has to pluck and shave between classes. And what would high school be without its queen bee? At Monster High, this role belongs to Cleo de Nile, daughter of The Mummy, who is dating Deuce Gorgon, son of Medusa.
The underlying theme of Monster High is that each student has a freaky flaw and they learn to accept their flaws as part of what makes them unique. Although real girls might not have green skin like Frankie Stein, real girls can certainly relate to feeling different and coming to accept themselves as they are.
Of course, Mattel being a toy company, the dolls are pretty great. The Monster High doll line will include individual dolls ($16.99) for Draculaura, Clawdeen Wolf, Frankie Stein, and Lagoona Blue (daughter of The Sea Monster), as well as a doll gift set ($29.99) with Cleo de Nile and Deuce Gorgon. The dolls are fully articulated and come with a pet figure, accessory, diary, brush, and doll stand. A variety of other Monster High toys will include stuffed animals, electronics, a key chain assortment, and a dance-themed assortment of the dolls. The toys range in price from $4.99—$29.99.
Girls can interact even more with the dolls at the Monster High website (www.monsterhigh.com), which features games and activities, as well as three-minute animated webisodes that highlight the trials and tribulations of Frankie Stein and friends.
Another way for girls to follow along with Monster High comes through a series of chapter books by young adult author Lisi Harrison. Monster High will go on sale September 1, 2010, retailing for about $17.99. The following installments will be released twice a year. The books are recommended for ages 12 and up.
Outside of playtime, girls can find Monster High-themed apparel at Justice stores right now and Halloween costumes will be available at Party City stores this fall. The brand's signature Skullette logo will grace fashion accessories from jewelry to handbags later this year and girls will also be able to show their love of Monster High on their feet with footwear. There is even a live-action feature film in the works, along with a 30-minute animated special, slated to debut on the website this fall, that features music from season eight American Idol contestant Allison Iraheta.
With more than just dolls to play with, Monster High offers an immersive experience that extends from the playroom into every aspect of girls' lives. In addition to really outstanding design, what makes this line work—or as much of it as we've seen to date—is that it combines humor that's perfectly pitched to the tween audience with great style and a bit of edge. Will it be for all girls? Probably not, but we're thinking enough of them will get into it to make this a monster hit.