Doll Review: Monster High “Mansters” 2-pack

The “Manster” 2-pack is the first all-boy set of Monster High dolls, featuring Deuce Gorgon and Gil Webber all set for a night of table top roleplaying in classic D&D style (sort of).

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TRU had a one-day-only $15-off sale on this set last week, and my husband was so sweet as to buy me one when I was having a bad day.  That purchase may or may not have also been influenced by the fact that he and I play D&D/Pathfinder together. XD

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Before I get into anything else, go read the (American) diaries that come with this set – read Gil’s first, then finish up with Deuce’s.   Then come back here. 😉

The reason for wanting y’all to read the diaries before anything else is that I feel the diaries are the heart of this set, even moreso in this case than any other Monster High dolls, imo.  I gotta say straight up that the accessories that come with these dolls are a fail, which makes the non-American versions of this set have a very different feel since we don’t have the full diaries.

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The back of the American box says:

“Sometimes a manster has to do what a manster has to do, and if that means ditching the ghouls for a night to save the world, so be it.  Now, just because the world in question only exists in the MANSTER’s mind and basement, or that its fate is determined by a series of opposing dice rolls, doesn’t mean bragging rights aren’t at stake, and dude, you are so going down!”

(I really hate the unnecessary and nonsensical italices and whatnot, especially when they’re used to point out overused puns.  But anyway…)

Underneath that blurb is an image of Deuce and Gil standing opposite each other, with two armchairs in the background.   Gil looks like a nerd ready to kick some imaginary sorceress booty, but Deuce is looking like a total douchebro here, with a glaring frown on his face and his arms crossed.  (WTF are they doing with Deuce these days… he’s supposed to be a chill, nice guy?)

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Oh, the American box also has a little circle on the front above the character art that says, “Ghouls not included.”  The whole boys-club trope is a little tiresome to me, but this *is* the first set of MH dolls that hasn’t included a female character, and that is significant and really pretty awesome in a “girls” toy line.

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I can’t help feeling that whoever did the graphic design for the box and accessories was totally removed from whoever wrote the diaries… the “game night” theme is pretty garbled.

20140815_203232The label on the front of the box has the two characters’ names, next to a graphic of two six-sided gaming dice with some MH-appropriate symbols on them.  (The American version says “Manster” above the dice.)  The top of the box has also has a cute pattern of six-sided dice and arrows.

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The accessories that come with these dolls include: Gil’s breathing helmet, Deuce’s sunglasses, two printed squares of cardboard that are presumably meant to be some kind of game boards, two game pieces that resemble zombies with outstretched arms, two soda cans, a tiny red die, and rubber banded to the dolls’ hands were two plastic rectangles emblazoned with a graphic of zombies on a beach with an MH skullette.

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Here’s a better look a the game boards:

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If you’re anything like me, right now you’re thinking, “what the fuck?”  That stuff has nothing whatsoever to do with the kind of tabletop rpg-ing that was described in the diaries and which I was so excited about!

This is what dolls playing D&D should look like. Take notes, Mattel.

This looks like a big case of the left hand not knowing what the right was doing.  That’s what happens when a brand gets too big, I guess; things get spread out and there’s nobody overseeing to make sure it’s a coherent product.  The brand is so popular and strong now that they don’t have to give as many shits, I guess.  Not to mention it’s likely that some of the talented MH staff was sent off to work on EAH, since that brand is getting a leg up now.

I feel like somebody at Mattel/MH was really passionate about making a “D&D” set of dolls, and whoever wrote Deuce’s diary in particular did an absolutely stellar job.  ..But whoever designed the actual dolls really does not seem to understand what tabletop rpgs even are.. one game board looks like a lazy version of Chutes and Ladders, and the other is some kind of cryptic treasure map?  And what the hell are the plastic rectangles in their hands??

What makes the least amount of sense to me is that they already had a perfectly serviceable dungeon map in Deuce’s diary that could have easily been made into a game board which would have been appropriate and awesome.

Nothing that comes with the “Manster” dolls aside from the diaries actually has anything at all to do with the kind of gaming that is described in the text and which presumably this set is meant to encapsulate.  It’s bizarre, and really very disappointing, especially from the perspective of an rpg’er.

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The soda cans are cute though.

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Let’s put the nerd rage aside for the moment though, and look at the actual dolls.

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“What the hell are we holding?”  “I have no idea bro.”

It’s always so cute when they pose the dolls in the box as if they’re interacting.  They seem to be doing this more often lately, and putting little cardboard props in the boxes, like the faux table in this one.  The accessories in this set may not be what I’d like, but the setup gets a dollnerd thumbs up. ^^

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gil_webber_by_moyschiaffino-d6ozh5sI can’t even tell y’all how excited I was when I first saw news of this 2-pack.  Not only is the D&D theme totally amazing, but up until now, I didn’t think I’d ever get my hands on a Gil doll – his first version (Skull Shores) was very scarce, and his second version (Dance Class) was in a crappy five pack that retails for $80 in Canada.   He’s such a cool doll, but so out of my price range in the past.

The other cool thing about the “Manster” pack is that  both previous versions of Gil were budget dolls, and neither were even close to signature looks, one being a swim outfit and the other a dance outfit.  This time he finally gets real street clothes and a journal. I wouldn’t call it a signature version, but it’s the closest so far – he actually has the lavender shirt and purple sandals from his webisode look.  (I hope they make that jacket someday, and not in an overpriced multipack!)

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They actually kinda combined his signature jacket and shirt for this doll’s look – we get a lavender & turquoise baseball tee with the same wave design as the sleeves of his letterman; there’s also a shark/monster fin coming up out of the water on his shirt, which is a cute detail.

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His shorts and shoes are pretty basic – the shoes are all one color, with a sculpted scale texture all over.  Presumably they gave him shorts again because his leg fins would make trousers troublesome (though they’ve overcome that with Lagoona in the past..).

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The helmet is a clunky, unnecessary accessory in my opinion, though of course it is kind of a neat detail about his character.  I just find the helmet aesthetically unpleasing and hard to photograph; but the biggest reason I don’t like it is that it covers up one of the coolest details on this doll – his gills!

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There are actually a ton of amazing details on Gil.  He has translucent fins on his head, arms, between his fingers…

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The fingers on Gil’s left hand are bent so that he can hold things.

…his legs…

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and even on his back!

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But wait there’s more…

Gil has sculpted scales on his chest too!  So many amazing details hidden by his outfit.

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My only beef with Gil is that mine seems less than stellar quality – his seams are rather prominent and rough, and there is a glue spot on the side of his head, and glue on his arm where the fin is attached.  Hopefully those will be removable; the bigger problem is that one of his legs has loose joints and the other has tight joints, and that makes him frustratingly hard to pose for photos and he doesn’t stand very well at all on his own (unlike all the other MH boy dolls I own).

I was able to find a Gil with perfect facial screening though, so I’m really happy with that aspect – I didn’t care if Deuce was a little wonky as long as Gil’s face was good, and boy is it ever!  Some of the Manster Gil’s seem to have quite large, stretched out eyes, especially in comparison to the older versions of him, but the printing on mine exactly covers the sculpted eyeball and he looks great.

This version of Gil is slightly different from his first two iterations; the differences are likely due to the fact that the first two Gils were produced in China whereas Mansters Gil is made in Indonesia.  Manster Gil’s head and eye screening are larger and more darkly colored; his “hair” is the same size, which makes it look a little smaller on his larger head.  Margaritchan on flickr has a good comparison photo with the two different versions.

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This is the fifth version of Deuce Gorgon that we’ve seen in doll form (though one of those is essentially a copy of his signature doll).  The only other Deuce I own is the Scaris version, and the Manster doll is only a tiny bit different.  Like Gil, this Deuce doll has a slightly larger head than Scaris Deuce, as well as having a slightly lighter, pinker skintone (are the MH dolls getting whitewashed over time the way they seem to be doing with EAH? 😦 ).  His hairsnakes are the same mold, and his facial screening is almost identical though Manster Deuce’s brows are darker and Scaris Deuce’s lips are darker.

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Manster Deuce on left; Scaris Deuce on right

The arm tattoo is a little bit different between dolls, too; again, this is all probably just because they’re made in different factories.

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Scaris Deuce on the right again; he seems to have had a more skilled tattoo artist, don’t you think?

Personally, I prefer Scaris Deuce for his warmer skintone and nicer tattoo; however, Manster Deuce definitely kills it in the fashion department.

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His pants are pretty odd but they’re also kinda really cool and totally character appropriate, and holy carp it’s a boy doll with actual full-length trousers!  That shirt tho – it is just so fantastic I can’t even take it; the metallic skeleton snake is freaking bad-ass, and the detail of the contrast-colored shoulders is a nice touch.

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My only criticisms are that the outfit pieces don’t quite look right together, and he could really use a belt with those pants, plus his shoes desperately need some painted details; they’re just so glaringly white.  I can’t wait to mix and match some outfits with these pieces though!

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20140817_133833I’m really pleased with the way these dolls were packaged; I think this is the first time I’ve bought a MH doll that didn’t have multiple plastic tabs stabbed through their head to hold them to the backcard.  They also put a very effective plastic protector around Deuce’s hand to keep it from getting stained by his glasses.

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All in all, I am really happy to own this pair.  I’d be thrilled just to have a Gil, but the dolls’ clothes are also really great, and omg it’s a D&D themed set of dolls which is practically groundbreaking.

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Unfortunately, without the full-text diaries most of the gorgeous flavor of this set is lost.  The included accessories completely miss the mark and are insultingly lazy-looking; they would be better off not existing as far as I am concerned.  My great hope is that there is another Manster 2-pack in the works with Heath Burns and Clawd Wolf, that will have more appropriate accessories and equally fabulous diaries… and then maybe two more packs with female characters who are going to create their own rpg campaign. ^^

(Oh, and if anybody has a clue what the black rectangles with the zombies on them are, please let us know!)

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jSarie
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 14:28:01

    Interesting to see all those hidden-by-the-outfit details on Gil! And you’re right, it’s brilliant to see a D&D-type theme – not something you see very often in a fashion doll set!

    Reply

  2. Farrah Lily
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 07:28:18

    I think I actually like the Gil doll better than his webisode character! Love that you showed all of the hidden details…something we wouldn’t of seen otherwise. Deuce’s face has always seemed a little to feminine for me, but I must admit…his chin dimple is great :). Awesome review!

    Reply

  3. Periwinkle
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 15:18:36

    This was so adorable! Thank you for the review!

    Reply

  4. Dominick
    Dec 02, 2014 @ 02:44:55

    It seems like they are cell phones to me I may be wrong though…..

    Reply

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