Bratz: A Retrospective (Part 2.5: Talking Body)

I hope you were able to find your way from Part 2 easy enough. ūüėČ In this particular segment, the focus will be on the physical attributes of the generally 9.5 inch dolls. Therefore, I’ve aptly titled it “Talking Body” named after the song of the same name by music artist Tove Lo.

Enough of this banter appetizer, you’re here for the main course.

Now, the Bratz have definitely gone through a lot of changes in the 15 years they’ve been in the market. To get a more personal, in-depth look at the various faces and bodies featured throughout, I’ll actually be going into my personal Bratz archive to look for examples and the like.

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[Bratz Live in Concert Yasmin; Bratz Babyz Twiinz Nora; Bratz Kidz Winter Vacation Phoebe redressed; Bratz World mom Portia]

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The Bratz started off with a formula of big heads sporting pouty, sultry lips and eyes sporting a fierce, permanent “smize” (as Tyra Banks would like to say), beautiful long locks to match, a petite little body with bend-click legs, and snap-on shoes – a totally new concept to the doll market. The Bratz utilized¬†two different head sculpts that lended themselves nicely to a wide range of face screening. There was one with a closed mouth (seen on LIC Yasmin) that allowed for a range from pensive to fierce; additionally, the second head sculpt featured pursed lips that lended itself nicely to demure to sexy expressions.

       Then came the Bratz Babyz, with equally large eyes and big hair but with stubby legs and arms to match. Also note how they actually have feet!

       Then came the Kidz. The proportions are this mixture of a regular Bratz doll and a Babyz, so in the world of Bratz it makes sense. The feet, however, are a bit on the smaller side if I had anything to knit pick. Plus, those arms were kind of hard to dress sometimes.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Occasionally, there were some one-offs of Bratz body variations. For example, Bratz Yasmin’s mother, Portia, came with a body in a more permanent hands-on-the-hip stance; also note how she has larger hips than the average Bratz doll. Other examples I can think of are the Bratz Fashion Pixiez and Bratz Star Singerz.

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[Bratz Live in Concert Yasmin & Bratz Style It! Nadine redressed]

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†When the Bratz came back on the scene in Fall 2010, the dolls were using a new body entirely. It seems as if the plastic they used matched the heads better and weren’t as…glossy as before. I personally loved the updated body since there was a nicer range of movement in the legs, the arm joint was less apparent, but at the same time old Bratz clothes and shoes from 2001-2009 could still be used on these bodies.

       Noticeable stylized differences were most apparent in the faces, the shoes, and even in terms of fashion styling.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The faces used in 2010-2011, as seen on Style It! Nadine, were nicknamed “fish lips” by fans for a distinct stylized lip that, while okay at first, became incredibly tiring and redundant as further collections went on. Essentially, it became either the Cloe/Yasmin/Sasha screening or the Jade screening and the former prevailed often. It wasn’t until recently where maybe there may be some appreciation for that screening as it was discovered that early, early prototypes of Bratz Cloe had used a screening very similar to that introduced in 2010. Had MGA disclosed this information back then, I’m sure it would have been much better received. The redundancy of those faces led MGA to return to faces more reminiscent of the later Bratz screenings and were much better received. One caveat that ultimately bugged me, however, was how if you had one Cloe, you pretty much had all the Cloe’s. Unlike the pre-lawsuit Bratz, where Cloe would have different screenings, different shades of blonde, and even variations in her eye color, the 2010-onward Bratz would only provide minor differences in faces and hair.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Hair quality used on the Bratz had also changed. Unlike dolls of Bratz past, which had featured saran or occasionally kanekalon or memory hair, many would be sporting nylon hair. It started back in 2008 when the budget lines such as Costume Party, or even mid-level lines like Passion 4 Fashion, would utilize this crappy grade of nylon hair that was pretty much unmanageable straight-out-of-box. Luckily, some fans had figured out the hair transformed with the help of a hair straightener set at the lowest heat setting, but not everyone is a hair aficionado here. ūüė¶ The nylon hair was manageable when straight or styled in short hairdos, but long gorgeous curls were a natural enemy of nylon hair. I gave many haircuts to my Bratz because of this, but at least they have stylish lobs and pixie cuts now.

       Shoes had decreased in size in the 2010 rendition. While they used to be of a certain porportion, suddenly the Bratz had smaller-sized snap-on heels and boots that did not support one of the main features the Bratz of the past had in the past Рthe shoes were supposed to be big enough to balance out the Bratz so that they could stand on their own without a stand. It would appear MGA had lost sight of that in the reboot.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†In terms of the styling, the Bratz became much more covered-up and utilized an unhealthy dosage of layering. Perhaps in an attempt to ward off conceptions of the Bratz as skimpy street-walkers, the folks at MGA had decided that leggings and long sleeves and jackets would be the trendy pieces of the season. Luckily, it didn’t last long (pretty much right up to when they switched out of the 2010 face screenings) and the layering became less of a mainstay. I also have to hand it to the designers simply because they managed to do a pretty gosh-darn good job with the layering agenda in the earlier collections released under the reboot.

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[Bratz Live in Concert Yasmin; Bratz Style It! Nadine; Bratz Totally Tattoo’d Jade re-bodied and redressed; Create-a-Bratz Redhead w/Blue Eyes]

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†I believe it was in 2013 that the Bratz would unveil another surprise. The team over at MGA had teamed up with students at OTIS, a school for art and design in Los Angeles, to help bring in a new “twizt” into the dolls. “Psst, we’re taller!” was the tag line to introduce this alteration to the Bratz. While the heads and shoes stayed the same, the Bratz would grow to be a whole head taller than their past selves! Their body proportions were altered so that their clothes had some give-or-take compatibility with traditional 11.5″ fashion dolls. It was a bit of a melancholic situation since the Bratz had abandoned the size that they had started, but it was also nice to see the funky style of the Bratz be utilized on other dolls as well. The arms of the 2013 collections were all articulated but the legs were still bend-and-snap and a little on the unsubstantial side. I know the thigh gap is in, but the high gap these girls had was just a bit too much for my liking.

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[Bratz Live in Concert Yasmin; Bratz Style It! Nadine; Bratzillaz Carolina Past¬†redressed; Bratz Totally Tattoo’d Jade re-bodied and redressed; Create-a-Bratz Redhead w/Blue Eyes]

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†I’m going to interrupt the flow of the Bratz core line to talk a little about the Bratzillaz. The “wicked cousins of the Bratz” featured a brand new articulated body that had joints at the wrist, elbow, waist, and knees. Also, these girls have feet! What? A brand new face mold was utilized that incorporated beautiful inset eyes. It is MGA, however, and somewhere down the line there was a budget sleepover line where the Bratzillaz had standard fashion doll articulation and no inset eyes. Boo!

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The line also featured some unusual skin tones, but it did feature this “dark tan” skin tone for Sashabella aka Sasha’s counterpart; I remember being initially annoyed at them choosing to lighten her skin tone. However, if this skin tone became a mainstay in the core Bratz line-up, I would have been ecstatic since that would mean it’d bring more variety and diversity to the core four skin tones utilized on the core four. However, it hasn’t. Shame.

!!! With the introduction of Raya into the core Bratz squad, I think MGA passed a big opportunity there for the “dark tan” skin tone to be a part of the line-up. Their claim of diversity may have worked in the past, but it’s no longer 2003. !!!

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[Create-a-Bratz Redhead w/Blue Eyes & Bratz Babyz Twiinz Nora]

       With that being said, let me transition into discussing the Bratz as they are now. The Bratz decided to pull out of the US market in 2014 to focus on redesigning the Bratz.  Well, some big changes were definitely made.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Like I mentioned before, we were introduced to “new girl” Raya. Older Bratz fans will note how there was a Raya in the past introduced with the Magic Hair Salon. Apparently these girls aren’t the same, but they are some similarities. Both girls are blonde and tanned. However, the old Raya (pronounced rye-uh) had platinum blonde hair and brown eyes whereas the 2015 Raya (pronounced ray-ya) has grey eyes and golden blonde hair. So…what happens to Fianna?! ¬†¬†

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s talk about the proportions. The heads got even more ginormous. Unfortunately, they eliminated the closed mouth mold. The new bodies featured smaller upper torsos but wider hips and HUGE feet. These babies were enough to help the Bratz stand on their own once more. The legs now had a swivel joint instead of the former bend-and-snap feature, which in my opinion works much, much better. Older Bratz clothes fit would vary from piece to piece, but it generally was similar enough so not all was lost.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The girls now became pretty one dimensional in their appearance since. Cloe? Bright primary blue eyes and platinum blonde hair. Freckles now included. Yasmin? Her hair would vary but mostly stayed a raw umber brunette tone and brown eyes and ,of course, her signature mole right under her left eye. Sash sported hazel like-ish eyes, yellow inside with a light green outer ring and a dark brunette, auburn blend. Perhaps Jade had the most noticeable change. Sure, she still sported smaller “Asian” eyes (Raya actually shares the same screening) and jet black hair with/out colored streaks BUT she no longer had brown eyes (thanks Yasmin). Instead, she now has these electric neon green eyes. I mean, I guess Jade now represents an even more generalized portrayal of the East. If anything, she’s very much the Asian girl who likes to wear colored contacts and the like. Yeah that’s it…Jade likes to wear colored contacts. Neon green to match her name-sake.¬†

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†On top of their one-note formula, the face screenings lacked a certain quality the older Bratz screenings had. While the prototypes had pretty fierce, sassy, beautiful faces that even offered a hope of variety, the ones in production were a little more flat and one-note. Curses, MGA strikes again! Granted, the ones used for 2016 aren’t bad. They’re almost reminiscent of the Midnight Dance/Pretty -N’-Punk screening, but that can’t excuse the same faces used over and over again.¬†

        *Personally, I think canonically, the  Babyz work better in proportion to the 2015 Bratz.

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[Bratz Hybrids: Bratz Action Heroez Shira on Bratzillaz body; Bratz Study Abroad Raya on 2013 Bratz body; Bratz Neon Runway Yasmin on 2015 Bratz body]

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†As a collector, I used to collect the Bratz as they were. Then I started customizing them and creating hybrids. Pictured above are some examples where I think the formula works quite well in terms of the physicality of the dolls and wouldn’t minded had MGA gone in these kind of directions.

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[Bratz Live in Concert Yasmin; Bratz Action Heroez Shira rebodied and redressed; Bratzillaz Carolina Past redressed]

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†My hybrid Shira here sports the traditional Bratz head and uses the Bratzillaz body. I’m pretty adamant in my belief that MGA Needs to bring this skin tone permanently into the Bratz-verse. Also, the Zillaz were one of the better articulated bodies MGA has done. MGA had always never truly succeeded in its attempts of articulated bodies, but this is one of the better ones.

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[Bratz Totally Tattoo’d Jade re-bodied and redressed; Bratz¬†Study Abroad Raya on 2013 Bratz body;¬†Create-a-Bratz Redhead w/Blue Eyes]

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†I was playing about when this hybrid came about, but I think the big head of the 2015 Bratz work better on the 2013 body than the traditional heads. If anything, they should have changed he head size back then. Unfortunately, the heads actually don’t staton the body well since the neck pegs and holes have different depths. Oh well.

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[Bratz Strut It! Sasha redressed;Bratz Neon Runway Yasmin on 2015 Bratz body; Create-a-Bratz Redhead w/Blue Eyes]

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The third and final hybrid, I wasn’t to fond of at first. Others had already swapped the heads of the older Bratz onto the new bodies and I wasn’t too fond ¬† of initially. I reached a point, however, where I really wasn’t feeling the 2015 Bratz anymore and was getting ready to pack them away. As I noticed the amount of extra heads I had from the old Bratz, I became nostalgic and also realized it was the 2015 heads I had more of an issue with. If it ain’t broke, no need to fix it! Pop! Pop! Swap! A hybrid was born.

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[Bratz Boyz Eitan in Adventure Boyz Cameron’s outfit; Bratz Kidz Dylan; Bratz Boyz Party Dylan; Bratz Boyz Metallic Madness Cameron]

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†So we can’t forget about the Bratz Boyz, who make an integral part of the Bratz universe despite the sparse appearances. The initial release of Cameron and Dylan featured a big lipped look as well, but it was later changed out for the standard Boyz head as seen on Eitan. The bodies featured the same articulation as the girls but with an added join at the hips and a much more sculpted, exaggerated body. There was one instance where a bigger Boyz body was introduced on newcomer, Braden AKA apparently Yasmin’s first date.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† I don’t own any of the Boyz as Babyz, but do note those exist. As follows, a Kidz counterpart was made as well. Then the 2010 reboot came about and the Boyz received new bodies as well. They became a bit stockier and less tightly-packed, compact swimmers. The shoes too would become slightly smaller than before. The current state of the Boyz as they are share the same body as the Boyz in their original release. However, their heads and shoes have also increased in size to match the new look of the 2015-onward Bratz. My only caveat with this is that along-side the girls, Cameron is now significantly shorter than the Bratz! Uhm…alright then.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†So that wraps up this in-detail look into the physicality of the Bratz (and Boyz)! In the next installment, I’ll be sharing about packaging and branding of the Bratz brand.

Have a natty day!

Natty

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