Saturday, 16 November 2013

Made for each other: Ashlynn Ella and Hunter Huntsman

Today we're going to look at a set I was very excited to get, and was surprised by. When Ever After High launched, I'll admit I was really unsure about them. As a life-long lover of fairy tales, I LOVED the concept, but when we started seeing the dolls, I wasn't wowed by them. Being so used to Monster High, the Ever After High dolls' wide, round faces struck me as odd, and (this is a bit obvious) they were VERY princess-y, which isn't always something I'm drawn to.

The first time I got really excited about Ever After High dolls was when we first saw pictures of Ashlynn Ella and Hunter Huntsman, and surprisingly to myself, not for Ashlynn! Boy dolls have never been a huge focus for me, but as soon as I saw Hunter's face and wonderful outfit, I knew I was going to need him! So without further ado, let's get started!

First, I just want to apologize for the photos in this review. It was incredibly sunny yesterday, and I had to be a bit creative! I have a light tent coming, so hopefully I'll have less issues in the future.

Here they are, looking cute as anything! The box is a slightly larger version of the single Ever After High boxes, and I think they're quite striking! I love that the whole front is plastic, and I like the background of faded text a lot. It really makes me think "fairy tale"!

From both sides, the fairy tale motif of the box is continued. On one side, we see the spines of two books shelved side by side, and from the other, we get the image of pages. 

 The back of the box gives us a little Q & A with each character so we can learn a little more about them.

With the plastic gone, we get a better look inside! They come with a brush, and they each come with the little storybook/bookmark that all EAH dolls have. These fold out kind of like an accordion, and I have to admit, I wish they were real little books. Seems like an odd choice not to keep the book motif going all the way!

And here they are with all their things! They each also come with a stand that is tucked in behind the cardboard backing of the box. Ashlynn's is gold and Hunter's is silver, and they function exactly like Monster High stands. Ashlynn's is a bit...wonky, and she has a tendency to lean backwards, but it's not terrible and I'd rather have a wonky stand than no stand at all!

I'm actually going to look at Hunter first, because I couldn't wait to get a closer look at him!

The first thing that became clear about him is the sheer amount of GUNK in his hair. It was absolutely coated in gel, which gave his hair a sort of flaky grey cast. He also had glue and flecks on his face, seemingly from the flocking on the sides of his head. All that wiped right off with a damp cloth though, and Hunter was fresh as a daisy. I gave his hair a good brushing too, and it's much, much better. He actually has lovely hair once it's clean; soft, shiny, and thickly rooted down the centre of his head. It would be styled in a few other ways if one was so inclined, and I like it!

Looking at Hunter's face, I think I figured out what it is that drew me to him. One of my biggest guilty pleasures is the show Pretty Little Liars, and I think Hunter here is nearly a dead ringer for Caleb, played by Tyler Blackburn.

Maybe it's just me, but it's a comparison that makes me happy, so I'm going with it! I really love Hunter's warm brown eyes and little smile. He looks friendly and welcoming, and like a guy you could really meet.

My original hope was that Hunter's clothes would be able to be shared with my Monster High boys, because they're really quite fantastic, but it was immediately clear that was going to be a no-go.

Hunter is broader everywhere, and he's got Deuce beat in the muscle department. He's quite well-built for a doll meant to represent a high school student! Other than the body size, Hunter and Deuce have basically the same articulation. I really like their ankle articulation, and I wish the girl dolls (or at least some of them) would have that. Then they could wear something other than heels!

So, let's take a closer look at that outfit I liked so much, shall we?

Hunter comes wearing a pair of grey-brown jeans, that would probably qualify as a skinny fit. They are a soft material and look well-worn, exactly like what you'd expect the son of the Huntsman to wear. He has a great jacket, a sleeveless shirt, boots, a bracelet and a neat messenger bag.

The jacket is really great! It's made to look like a vest over a long sleeved shirt, but it's all one piece.The hood and front panels are made from a crackled faux leather, and there are bronze drawstrings coming from the hood. The sleeves and what would be the hem of the undershirt are a dark green cotton with contrasting stitching in brown. The back panel of the vest is a brown paisley-esque print; I thought this was a surprising detail, but I really like it!

There's a charm hanging from the belt loop of his jeans featuring three dangles. There's a feather, something that is maybe a knife? I'm not sure. The third charm is a symbol we'll see again in a minute on his bag.

These boots are GREAT. They're solid and sturdy, and made to look like worn leather. There are straps and buckles winding all around them and I LOVE them! The cuff bracelet is the same leather-look, and it's quite sharp as well!

 The sleeveless shirt is really nice as well. It's a gorgeous green and brown abstract forest print; really different, but a great detail. And Hunter's bag is really exceptional as well! It's the same faux leather plastic as his boots, with tons of stitching detail like it's been pieced together from scraps. On the front, it has that same symbol we saw on his belt. I'm not sure what it is, but it's a nice touch. And the bag opens too! He could really hold a lot of stuff in there if he needed to.

For funsies while I was getting every redressed, I thought I'd try something.... Not even close. He looks unimpressed that I even tried.

Maybe with a belt? But still no.

There, that's better! This outfit is really versatile, and that's something you don't always get in male play dolls. Lots of pieces, all well-made and visually interesting, plus a friendly, attractive face? Hunter's a winner for me, and I'm pleasantly surprised!

 Now it's time to take a look at his lady, the lovely Ashlynn Ella. She's the daughter of Cinderella, and their love is a bit star-crossed as she's a Royal, and Hunter is a Rebel. I actually have been watching the webisodes, and I think these two are pretty adorable together. One of my favourite details from the storybooks these two come with is that they bonded over both being vegan. I just think that's adorable!

I know I said the reason I bought this set originally was because I was rather taken with Hunter, but that doesn't mean I don't love Ashlynn! She did take me by surprise though, and drew me in with her gorgeous face and outfit. I love her green eyes and her slightly tan skin colour, and her hair is a gorgeous shade of strawberry blonde with very natural looking highlights.

Her makeup is done in shades of brown, and her eyebrows have a lovely crosshatch texture to them, which makes them look more natural from a distance. Her lips are a soft pink, with three silver dots in the centre of her lower lip giving a suggestion of shine. What's interesting about these Ever After High dolls, at least the first wave that I've been able to see, is that there is very little shine or shimmer to their makeup. All the screening on their faces is completely matte which is definitely an interesting effect, especially when you take into account that their face molds are already very flat, especially in comparison to Monster High. Originally, I wasn't a fan, but they're definitely growing on me, and I think Ashlynn's face is beautiful!

Ashlynn's dress is very pretty and very princess-y. There's kind of a lot going on here! There's a skirt in a light blue/aqua colour, with a pattern of pink flowers scattered over it, the top of the dress features aqua panels trimmed in gold, with an inset of the same floral pattern in the centre. There are tulle peplums at her waists, decorated with winding gold vines, and large bell sleeves in the same tulle. The final detail are pink puffs at her shoulders, which really drive home the princess-y effect for me.

Ashlynn also comes with a lot of accessories, and they're quite cute! First we have her purse, which is large and molded with clock faces on three sides, and a clock sticker on the fourth side. I can't seem to get it open, even though the top really looks like it should come off.

Her bracelet is adorable, and features tiny dangling shoes! It makes sense for the daughter of Cinderella to be obsessed with shoes, doesn't it?

Her ring is the teeny tiniest bird ring you ever did see, and it's precious! I love the rings that the Ever After High dolls are coming with, it's a really nice detail!

Ashlynn's earrings are also little shoes, and have a surprising amount of molded detail for something so small. She also wears a necklace that looks like either a molded birdcage or clock or maybe both, with two small birds. It's a lot of detail in a small piece, and it gets a bit muddled to my eyes.

While we're talking shoes, let's look at what she's wearing! These shoes are lovely, and at first glance remind me a lot of something we might see on Lagoona Blue over at Monster High. They're a transparent aqua plastic with vines winding up Ashlynn's legs, and flowers and leaves molded on the actual shoes. They're really striking and look great on her! I did find that the plastic is much stiffer than the vinyl I'm used to on doll shoes so while it wasn't hard to get the vines around her legs, forcing her foot into the actual shoe did take me a bit longer than usual.

Ashlynn's final accessory is her headband. It's pink, and features molded leaves and birds. It's cute, but nothing really special, especially since the molding isn't particularly clear to me.

I actually think the birds are much clearer on the back of the headband.

Now...Ashlynn's hair. It's a lovely, natural colour, and from the front the style is nice, but it's kind of a mess. There's a braid across the front of her head that is banded behind her ear, but it's banded in with some long hair and some short hair, and it looks really, really messy. Her hair is also styled in a bump behind her headband which looks lovely, but again, is banded awkwardly in the back. All of this styling also makes the hair that is left loose look rather thin and scraggly, and overall, the hair is a bit dry and rough at the ends.

 It's a bit better after a brushing, but I bet it would be better still if I took it down and washed it. I'm hesitant to do that however, since I still like the front view quite a lot, and don't want to lose that style. We'll see how I feel after she's been living on my shelves for awhile!

I also did a quick comparison between Ashlynn's body and some others. As you can see, there are definite similarities to the Monster High body, but Ashylnn is definitely curvier than Cleo, and generally thicker all over. I've also put them next to Maddie, who is one of the shorter Ever After High dolls. This picture also highlights just how big and round the EAH dolls' heads are! I'd gotten used to it just looking at Ashlynn for so long, but when I see her next to Cleo and remember I once thought the MH dolls had very large heads...Wow, how times change!

 So there they are! What do you think of Ashlynn and Hunter? Are you into Ever After High dolls, or do they just not do it for you? After originally being pretty hesitant, I can definitely say I'm glad to have these two in my collection, and they definitely won't be the only ones.

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