Bratz: A Retrospective: (Part 4: We All Can Be Starz)

Since their release, the Bratz have been pretty much everywhere in terms of the media. Aside from the features of the Mattel vs. MGA court cases on the evening news, the Bratz have made appearances in the form of direct-to-DVD movies, a Saturday morning animated series on the now defunct 4Kids! time slot, and even a shot at the big screen! That’s quite a feat. Grab some popcorn and let’s get started!

       So where did it really all begin? For every doll brand out there, there are TV spots to entice little kids into wanting the product glamorously displayed on a 15-30 second reel. That’s pretty standard. Above is a compilation of Bratz commercials created by YouTube user MonsterLool.

       The initial attempt came in the form of a little movie called Bratz: Starrin’ & Stylin’. A 2-D animated film that documented the weekend of the school’s Formal Funk (see the tie-in to one of their collections?), but the Bratz have an assignment to complete as well…so they’ve chosen to make a little movie documentary about it and, well, trouble ensues when the school’s gossip column begins to write smack about the core four. Not cool!

Not bad for their first film ever, but also not the best. It’s a film that I think has little re-watchability, but at least it portrays the girls in a more realistic kind of plot (which is probably why it doesn’t quite work for me in the scope of something for kids to watch since its almost too dull). Future films will require some suspension of belief…because, after all, these are cartoons made with kids in mind.

       I recall watching Saturday morning cartoons as a child and, suddenly, there was an announcement for this Bratz music video of sorts. I was very much surprised and very much in awe. The catchy little tune, with the Bratz dressed in their Live in Concert! outfits calling themselves Space Angelz and being who they are, had me transfixed. Somehow, I knew…this was just the beginning. The girls with a passion for fashion had much bigger tricks up their sleeves and I was ready to embrace it.

       The first feature film, and major turning point (at least in my opinion), was the Bratz Rock Angelz. They’re rockin’ hot and they’re rockin’ your world! This was the movie that would set up the canonical universe many fans believe in today. We were introduced to the city of Stilesville as well as the premise where the Bratz create a magazine to compete against their competitor, Burdine Maxwell of Your Thing magazine. This character was an obvious jam at Barbie’s pink legacy. Somehow, the plot twists and turns until we get to where the core four girls join Roxxi to form the Rock Angelz and take over the music charts.

       The film was also accompanied with a soundtrack of the same name. The “single” of the album, “So Good”, crooned about how good it felt to be “shining here in front of you” and rocking the air waves. Honestly, the songs of the album were great. The Bratz definitely had a flair for music; if they weren’t tied to a doll line, the songs probably could have had a chance on the radio.

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       Of course, there was a fashion collection that tied into the movie and music. This line was great. They definitely captured a rock edge and all the girls were sporting such strong looks! I personally only have Jade from the line, but man do I wish I had all of them. There was even a Kmart exclusive Meygan as the president of the Rock Angelz fan club! How cute is that? The success of this movie seemed to have set the precedent for future seasons and ignited the Bratz on a role.

       Before I go on about the other feature films, I have to mention the animated series. I believe it ran for at least two seasons in the states, but I’m pretty sure there was a third season (by then, however, the voice actors had changed). The girls were voiced by some pretty famous names in the business. For example, Sasha was voiced by Tia Mowry! The animated series episodes continued off the canon started in Rock Angelz and focused on the girls going through high school but also running their acclaimed magazine. Now that I think about it, a line centered around this could have been pretty awesome. Closest to this, concept wise, would be the Bratz Fashion Stylistz collection.

       In the following years, there was:

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Bratz Genie Magic (where we were introduced to Katia);

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Bratz Forever Diamondz (where we were introduced to Sharidan);

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Bratz Fashion Pixiez (where we were introduced to Breeana, Dee, and Lina);

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Bratz Girlz Really Rock (we were introduced to Anna but at this point the fifth new friend of the Bratz would not get a doll);

Bratz Desert Jewelz (sequel to Bratz Genie Magic), and Bratz Pampered Petz.

       It even branched off so that the Bratz Babyz and the Bratz Kidz would get their own movies such as Bratz Babyz The Movie (where we were introduced to Nora and Nita) and Bratz Kidz Sleepover Adventure (featuring Meygan and Dana!) .

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       Then there’s the big-screen film. That’s right, the Bratz went big time! Granted, the film wasn’t really anything great or revolutionary but it’s a good film for kids. Ultimately, it’s a story of friendship and being true to yourself. As usual, the movie came accompanied with a collection which featured the girls in movie-premiere ready gowns. Plus, for the first time ever, the girls could pose, pose, pose like never before!

       After the lawsuit, it would be hard for the Bratz to return to the hey-day of before. Still, we got to see the release of Bratz Desert Jewelz state-side. With the return of the Bratz to celebrate their 10th anniversary, MGA was set to launch a little web-series that featured the 10/10/10 new characters. Unfortunately, the first episode was so badly received that MGA had it cancelled! Well, actually, Cloe spilled her smoothie on her laptop and all the files were lost…or so the story goes. It’s not a big loss per say, but I am sad we never got to get more character development from eight of the new girls! We see Tyla and Shira long enough to know that they, too, seek to be stars some day.

       In the 2015 reboot, the folk at MGA did a smart thing…they teamed up with Stoopid Buddy studios, the same masters of stop-motion that make Robot Chicken, to create a ten-episode series that focus on the Bratz and their adventures in their CIY Shoppe. It’s definitely well-made and I absolutely adore how the little webisodes remind me of classic cartoon plots. They’re nicely done, simple, and sweet. I only wish they had gone more than their first season tie-in. The second season of the Bratz re-re-boot seems to have done pretty horribly in terms of distribution, which in turn have afffected sales.

With that said, that’s a Bratz wrap! In the final part of this Bratz retrospective, I’m discussing the personal impact the Bratz brand has had in my life.

Have a natty day!

Natty

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