Frankie Stein and Draculara are two of the leaders of the pack in the world of Monster High, a brand boasting dolls, books, webisodes, television specials on Nickelodeon and straight-to-DVD movies like 2012’s “Ghouls Rule.” They are also two members of a toy line that is now the second best-selling doll worldwide, behind its predecessor, Barbie.
NPR describes the Mattel fashion dolls as looking “like the underfed love children of Tim Burton and Lady Gaga.” And it’s true: Frankie, Draculara and friends let their freak flags fly. “The message about the brand is really to celebrate your own freaky flaws, especially as bullying has become such a hot topic,” says Cathy Cline, who is responsible for marketing Mattel’s girls’ brands.
Inspired by young girls’ love of “Twilight” vampires and werewolves, zombies, and goth fashions, Mattel produced Monster High with no idea it would morph into a billion-dollar brand in three short years.
While Barbie’s sales have been on the decline, prompting the publicity stunt “sale” of the blonde bombshell’s iconic Dream House — celebrity real estate agent and all, sales of the fishnet-clad, horn-wearing, fang-baring, wild-haired “ghoulfriends” of Monster High have helped drive Mattel’s sales up by 56 percent in 2013. “It’s also one of the fastest growing brands within the entire toy industry,” Cline says.
Still, some parents take issue with the dolls’ freakishly thin physiques, which one mom points out, “make Barbie look fat.” Of course the controversy is nothing new for Mattel, who has been criticized over the decades for Barbie’s unrealistic figure, and most recently for their so-called “stereotypical” portrayals in Barbie’s “Dolls of the World” line.