Today as I went about my errands, I browsed to doll aisles of Target. They had nothing new, but what caught my eye were the bright red stickers on the So In Style Rocawear dolls. They were marked down to $9.08 from $12.99. This did not appear to be part of a weekly sale event, but permanent mark downs. Given that this line is less than a year old, it seems to me a bad omen of things to come.
I confess to having issues with the dolls - mainly that the dolls did not live up to the pre-release promotional hype. We were promised a new line of AA dolls with new sculpts and the promo pics of the latest releases showed the dolls with articulated bodies. The actual dolls - although pretty, were not what many collectors hoped. Instead of new face sculpts, each of the 4 characters share the Mbili face mold. I love this particular sculpt, but it is by no means, "new". None of the dolls have the articulated bodies as we were led to believe - though some do have jointed elbows.
Being a frugalista as well as a doll collector, I really wanted to purchase some of the dolls at the sale price, but I was just not inspired to do so! I had already purchased several of the dolls early on at retail prices and was disappointed with each purchase. I kept looking for the "new" but all I saw was old familiar face sculpts with old familiar bodies dressed up in new fashions.
I am certain that Stacy McBride-Irby, the designer of this line, did the best she could with what she was allotted. The facial screenings and clothing designs are current and fresh and I love that the dolls represent a variety of skin tones. I just feel that Mattel did not truly commit to the project and decided to minimize production costs by using old and familiar instead of really doing something new.
The result is that the dolls are now being discounted. Mattel will probably use this as an excuse for not releasing new ethnic dolls in the future. They will say they just don't sell - yeah, right! The truth is, many collectors were almost salivating at the prospect of something new from Mattel. Many like myself, ran out and purchased the new dolls at retail price as soon as they hit store shelves. We wanted Mattel to know that such a project would be well supported. I am certain that many people really like the dolls. The story lines are great and provide a positive message for young girls. However for collectors, I think the dolls fell a bit short of the mark.