Among all the content that makes up the Monster High brand, one could easily forget what Monster High revolves around: the dolls. All pieces of Monster High fiction are written around, and therefore largely dependent on the needs of doll promotion, and while the other merchandise is no small cookie either, none of it leads the franchise like the dolls do.
The dolls of Monster High belong to one of four size classes: preadolescent female, adolescent female, adult female, and adolescent male. The dolls of each group share roughly the same body mold, ranging from 9.5 inches for the preadolescent female body mold, to 10.5 inches for the adolescent female body mold, to 11 inches for the adult female and adolescent male body molds. The bodies are made from ABS plastic, while the heads are made from soft PVC plastic. Unlike with most of the bodies, each character has a unique head mold. The hair is made of saran or kanekalon fibers, though most of the male dolls have molded plastic hair. The dolls generally feature 11 articulation points. The female molds lack articulated ankles, while the boys rarely have articulated wrists.
The dolls and accessories are manufactured in Indonesia and China. The degree of noticeability of difference between dolls and accessories manufactured in Indonesia, and dolls and accessories manufactured in China differs between releases. Also, prior to December 2011, all dolls were packaged with stands and brushes of appropriate color. Since then, stands and brushes have been absent from certain lines and packs, and those that do have them have them all in the same color, usually black or gray.
Each doll comes with a unique haircut and unique outfit, though sometimes a piece of clothing or an accesssory may be reused, with small alterations for another doll. Some dolls are only sold in multipacks, or with a playset. Main line dolls, and San Diego Comic-Con International exclusive dolls are always packaged with diaries, an extra that is included only with some other doll lines. A variety of other types of doll logs is included with the remaining doll lines.
The first doll of a character released in the main line has the character's pet included as figurine, provided they have one, which prior to 2012 was a given. In rare and random instances, pet figurines are included with dolls released in other lines.
The first Monster High dolls were released in Early July, 2010. These dolls are the first six of the 'Basic' line, and represent all but one of the franchise's starter characters. All of them come with pet figurines and the characters' profiles printed on the back of the boxes.
The first doll from another assortment to be released in the franchise was the SDCCI 2010 exclusive: a greyscale version of 'Basic' Frankie Stein. Given how young the franchise was at the time of SDCCI 2010, and the convention's general lower attention to female presence, it was a rather bold move that Mattel not only put up a stand, but also produced an exclusive doll for the convention. Nonetheless, Monster High became the hit Mattel was aiming for, and more SDCCI exclusives followed.
In Late August 2010, the first themed dolls appeared, belonging to the Dawn of the Dance assortment. And during December of 2010, the first fashion packs—Scream Uniform—and the first playsets were released.
As Monster High was growing more and more popular, 2011 saw the introduction of store exclusive dolls. Three stores received exclusives in 2011—Walmart, Toys"R"Us, and Target—and have been getting more at an increasing frequency since.
By the end of 2011, Mattel took some cost-cutting measures to compensate for increased production expenses. Whereas before all dolls came with doll stands in their specific signature color, Skull Shores and Sweet 1600 were the first to package the dolls of one line with a stand in a shared color. Early 2012 even saw the introducation of dolls without stand at all, such as was the case with the 'Campus Stroll' 2-packs. The doll brushes shared the same fate. Equally so, over the course of 2012 came a decrease in doll logs. For instance, prior to 2011 fashion packs came with a card or backstory, which were scrapped in 2012. The first set of 'Maul Session' still had a short story printed on the back of the boxes, but the second set's doll logs were limited to a quote. Later fashion packs lacked doll logs altogether.
As the output of Monster High dolls kept increasing, 2012 brought in four more stores to receive exclusive dolls: Costco, JCPenney, Kmart, and Kohl's. So far, all of them only received one exclusive and it's yet to be seen if it'll be repeated in 2013.
Dolls are released as part of assortments and, in the case of main line dolls, sub-assortments. Most of the dolls and accessory sets are undeniably part of an assortment—a named assortment—and make searching for, and talking about those dolls a piece of cake. Then there's the remaining ones, divisible in items that belong to a defined but nameless line, and items that seemingly don't belong to any line at all.
When Mattel releases an assortment, usually the items of that assortment have the name printed on the package. Expensive and elaborate lines have a name that is trademarked, whereas the bulk of other lines have an unprotected name. A handful of other lines, however, are thoroughly nameless. The most significant of these are the main line, and its various sublines. Usually, fans create a name themselves for use of reference. The Monster High Wiki uses these names too, if no official name is available.
Ever since the first two playsets hit stores in Late December 2010, a number of items have been released, that aren't part of any line. Depending on the fan, these items have been grouped with one line or another for thematical reasons, or are considered lineless. The Monster High Wiki operates with an amount of own interpretation in documenting the various assortments, and individual releases too, and lists items as part of a line based on the following reasoning:
- 1.) Is there indication of a name?
It almost goes without saying: if there's a name on the box, whether on the front or the back, then that's what line the doll or fashion is from, and all dolls and fashions that share that name make up an assortment. Of all the means by which the content of an assortment can be defined, the Monster High Wiki considers the on-package name the most important and therefore the one that automatically overrules the other two methods.
- 2.) Is there indication of an assortment number?
All individually sold dolls and fashions that are not exclusive have an assortment number. An assortment number consists of one letter and four digits, and all non-exclusive individually sold dolls and fashions that share an assortment number are part of the same assortment. For instance, all main line dolls are recognizable, as having assortment number N2851.
There are two drawbacks to relying on assortment numbers to figure out assortments. Firstly, playsets, multipacks, and exclusive dolls do not have an assortment number, only a model number, and thus figuring out which lines they belong to cannot be done through assortment numbers. Also, assortment numbers don't always line up with the way assortments are formed, if one looks at the names on the boxes. Scream Uniform and School Clubs have the same assortment number, T7980, while the Dead Tired assortment consists of assortment numbers V7972 and X4514. These conflict situations are rare though and, as explained above, the Monster High Wiki believes the on-package names are more prominent and thus deserve precedence in defining assortments.
- 3.) What about the rest?
What remains after the above two methods have been applied are the San Diego Comic-Con International exclusive dolls and the playsets not specified as being from any line. The Monster High Wiki treats the SDCCI dolls as one line for ease of organization. All playsets are also treated as one line. This includes those marketed as being from a specific assortment for completeness' sake, but without taking them from their appropriate assortments.
Create-A-Monster is a series of doll parts, clothes, and accessories that was launched by the end of 2011. The line is divided in starter packs, add-on packs, and lab packs, each of which carries at least part of all materials needed to put together a certain type of monster. The dolls created such are design-wise the same as the regular dolls and thus can be used for the same kind of play.
When in Early July, 2010 the first dolls were released, so too were the first plushies released. The plushies, appropriately named Friends, essentially are dolls aimed at a younger audience and each item contains a plushie of both a student and their pet. Like the main line dolls have profiles for the characters printed on the back of the box, so have the plushies profiles for the pets printed on the back of the box. The Friends line ended in June 2011.