The Truth or Not the Truth? Conversation with Insider: What Really Happened to Bratz in 2015? What’s Influencing Bratz in 2018?

2 Sep

Greetings GenNext readers!

So much drama in the Bratz universe!

I recently got into an interesting discussion with a Bratz fan who has insider knowledge on Bratz. I’m not going to disclose this person for the sake of their privacy. However, I do just want to mention that they stated that they have connections with MGA and that they’ve worked closely with the CEO and others in the company.

This discussion began quietly in a fan community. I hadn’t yet made it known that I was the blogger SoraGenNext before this point. Throughout the discussion, I added my two cents. Big mistake. The group that supports this fan “insider” in this community soared in to come for me and everything I was saying. XD I was like “WOOOW”. I’m pretty irrelevant in my opinion. I’m just a poor black African American woman with few connections. I don’t know nothing, I’m just a messenger. To come so strong, it must not have been the first time they’ve heard some of the information coming from my blog. That actually made me shocked because I realized, for the first time, that people actually read the information that comes out of my blog. I didn’t know how to take this. It made me realize that I have a certain responsibility to make sure that whatever comes out of here isn’t just a venting area but a place where I need to actually refine and express more clarity. I still want this place to open up conversation, but I also realize that the conversations made here have been traveling. That’s not a bad thing! However, that makes me more determined to step up my game.

This “insider” (that’s what we’ll call them) has been hearing many different rumors and ideas regarding the Bratz dolls’ sudden shift in aesthetic in 2015 and have heard similar things regarding the 2018 reboot, especially when it comes to the decision for MGA to make the new Bratz into a collectors’ line and sell the dolls online. The rumors and ideas they were saying they heard seemed to mirror exactly what’s been coming out of my blog. Apparently, everything I said annoyed this person and their friends because they feel they “know the truth”. Basically, this group immediately said “My information isn’t accurate and factual, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and that I need to stop spreading lies.”

Overall, basically, my information and the knowledge I’ve gathered here challenges the insider’s knowledge and information, and that annoys the insider and the insider’s followers. I think the insider knows a lot about what has been going on and this person has educated me on some things going on with the Bratz brand, which I appreciate. But there are some truths I stand by based on my own research and experiences. I know I’m going to get all kinds of backlash for it because I’m a little person in the Bratz community. It’s not easy to stand up to a big dog, especially when I respect the person, too.

And the fans are savage.

I used to be a part of the community back in 2001, but the community was far more friendly, fun, and open to discussion when it was just a Yahoo group. The moderator was a user named Snowflakebebe. I haven’t been a part of a Bratz fan group since that group got quiet (thanks to more advanced social media platforms).

The fan groups out now are far quicker to insult or throw shade on new ideas. They are not open enough to have discussions. If your opinion differs, you are just “stupid”.

Furthermore, in order for your ideas to be taken seriously or for it to be considered, you have to have worked with a related company. People are not allowed to give their own enlightened observations. I feel you can’t always go by people who work within an industry to know the business, especially because some of them have the goal of supporting that business. Can they really be objective all the time?

Consumers also drive an industry, so their thoughts and opinions on what’s going on outside of the business matters, too. The general viewpoint of the industry molds and shapes the industry, too. Hear someone else’s side of the story…

The insider has been relatively cordial and respectful (even if they did give a heart to a very shady comment towards me), but their followers really don’t play nice. So, as a warning to anyone who wants to share their view out there in the fan community, weigh in on who you approach and talk to.

Anyway…I’m not really here to talk about Bratz fan communities. That’s a subject for another day.

This article will be me clearing the air, addressing the conversation I had with this insider in my own home (my platform), and really trying to weed out the truth among all the conversations I’ve had.

If you don’t like to read, click me for the video.

So, remember we had been discussing about the 2015 Bratz reboot? Remember how I spoke about how the events that happened with Bratz in 2015 might impact Bratz in 2018? Remember how we’ve been talking about retailers and how they shape the industry? Remember how I’d mentioned that maybe MGA couldn’t use the old facial design? If you haven’t watched my video or read my article on this topic, you can review them below.

Bratz 2015: What Happened to the Bratz?

Bratz 2018: Can the Bratz Deliver This Time?

Well, most of that information I’ve gathered stemmed from a discussion with Carter Bryant. He basically made me more aware about the power of the retail industry at large and he didn’t correct or deny anything that I’ve said. Everything else I’ve spoken about not only came from other readers (who made me aware that feminists and moms play a large factor in shaping retail) but also from observations of Toy Fairs in recent years and advertisements that align with certain modern social agendas. It’s not that difficult to come to the assessment that feminists and moms have been having influence over the doll industry and seeking to shape it. Mostly, I’ve presented this information as persuasive arguments based on what I’ve been reading across the internet and toy industry communities I’m connected with (which I collect other dolls besides Barbie and Bratz).

If you read all these news and blog articles, observe what’s been coming out of fan-favorite lines recently, and looking at the SOURCE as to why these companies tried to meet the ever-vocal feminist and mommy groups, you could easily realize that THIS ISN’T news.

According to the Female Factor, statistics show that “Women drive an estimated 70-80% of consumer spending with their purchasing power and influence…”

According to, Moms Rule Retail. Their article on this issue states: “Most retailers would no doubt like to have both generations of mothers visit their establishments and Websites. When you sell what moms buy, you want to sell to everyone’s mom. No retailer markets itself out to be just for Gen X moms or only for Gen Y moms…Yet the two generations have distinct preferences about where they shop. Retailers that overindex for one group tend to underindex for the other…”

These lines show that retailers want to pander to moms.

Even the advice on this business website gave this suggestion: “Millennial moms are 58 percent more likely than older moms to value visibility in advertising, and they are 32 percent more likely than older moms to place importance on what they hear about a retailer in the news. So if you head up advertising or PR on the retailer side, it would serve you well to target the younger mom demographic in your campaigns.”

Read my article on Bratz vs Feminists: Over Sexualized or Empowering? It sheds more light on how moms think and shape media.

So to reiterate my conversation with Bryant:

Right here, he said if he were “at the helm”, he would be “fairly powerless to give this brand much of a new kick”. He said he would’ve “tried to move the brand into 2015 and beyond…However, retailers control the biz and these days do not take risks with a lot of re-branding. In my opinion, the Bratz can’t go big, so they might as well go home.”

Ya’ll reading carefully, right? We’re talking 2015 here. It’s not just me coming up with this stuff. Okay. Let’s continue.

He literally said these words: “Retailers control the shots and the direction of what hits their shelves. Even when consumers speak out to the manufacturers about what they would love to have, ultimately the retailers (buyers) will dictate every last detail that ends up on their aisles unless the mftsrs are uber powerful and can have some heavy handed influence on toy buyers.”

Because of these statements, I suggested that MGA sell the Bratz dolls retailers won’t take online, basically as exclusives. I was kind of freaked out when I heard Bratz was being sold on Amazon as an exclusive this year. It got me thinking, “Did they listen to my idea?” My idea was to have a Bratz store online where Bratz-exclusive products are sold. In fact, I listed a few things I thought would help improve the brand on my article Bratz Dolls Say Goodbye to the Toy Industry.

I did understand that a retail’s support helps a brand though, so I assumed they would partner with some retail stores outside of the online market. I didn’t think the first line ever would appear exclusively on Amazon. If retailers have the power to shape the Bratz as Carter implied they did, then I felt selling on Amazon was a good move. I don’t know. I might have influenced that decision. Or maybe they were thinking of doing this all along. But it was kind of a coincidence that the dolls were sold exclusively online two years after my other article… If MGA did consider my idea, why did they? Why did they also think it was a good idea or think on the same line of thinking?

Back on topic, I gave this suggestion because of Bryant’s assertion that market buyers control the industry, whether we like it or not.

Carter Bryant seemed to know a lot about the issues. Working in the doll industry for 20+ years, I’m sure he has had his share of experiences. Though the incident with the Fashion Pixiez happened in a different era and many veteran fans consider it a once-in-lifetime thing, he used the Fashion Pixiez as an example to express overall how retail controls the business A LOT MORE than just with that one incident.  It seems he was saying that even if he were “at the helm” he would be powerless “because retailers control the biz.”

Overall, this conversation was focused on 2015 Bratz and how retail continues to control the business outside of the Fashion Pixiez incident. This is what led me to analyze how market, toy, and/or business buyers influenced the direction of Bratz in 2015, and how they have been influencing the toy industry in general. And there’s no mistake, no matter what anyone says. If you study the market and retail industries, they do influence the toy industry largely. Women, who are mothers and feminists as well, many of them being supportive of the agenda to “de-sexualize and make-under” dolls, also influence the toy industry.

However, apparently, according to this “insider”, none of the above is actually the truth when it comes to the decisions made with the 2015 Bratz. Also. according to the “insider”, the decision to sell Bratz 2018 as a collectors’ exclusive and to sell the Bratz online has little to do with MGA avoiding the need to pitch to family-friendly retailers either.

Here’s the tea…a new voice has spoken up about the 2015 Bratz. This “insider” has not only worked for the Bratz or befriended people on the team, they are fans themselves.

Basically, this person says that retailers have little control over what comes out of Bratz, and that basically all of the ideas coming out of the company were just hits and misses by the CEO and the teams he’s hired. The insider believes the issue is “internal paranoia and their unfounded fear of making waves with toy marketers”. Fascinating…

The “insider” has basically said that the rumors spread out there about retail controlling the industry and soccer moms and feminists having control are not “factual”. The only one who has put that out there is ME. So basically, I felt that this was a disagreement about the information I presented. At first I believed this was an attack on my credibility as a writer and informist. However, I began to look at this situation as a chance to get the truth of the matter…If what I’ve been saying hasn’t been the truth all along, what is it? I decided to ask as many questions I could think of to get to the bottom of things.

As a blog journalist (and actually that was supposed to be my major in college, but later about that), I am inquisitive. I want to know every last detail and morsel about this whole Bratz situation. I’m not going to disregard the former information I’ve gathered, and as I go through this you’ll learn why, but all information brings the picture full circle.

It seems those who once worked with MGA disagree with “who” controls the direction of Bratz, and that’s what’s most interesting about the Bratz business. Really, that’s been Bratz’s whole issue: Who Owns them? Who Controls Them? Chaos surrounds this brand!


The insider I spoke with has more recent connections with the brand while Carter Bryant has been working in the toy industry for 20+ years. It’s difficult to know who has more knowledge about the issues and who doesn’t.

Speaking with this insider, they do seem to know a lot about the goings ons in many ways. However I do have a lot of questions about some of the statements made…Overall, after the end of the discussion, I was left with more questions than anwers!

So, let me get to it. Let me bring out this person’s points. I will break it all down and help you all digest it while I digest it.

Why New Facial Screenings, MGA?

Why a Collector Label and Amazon Exclusive with Bratz 2018?

Do retailers have any control over what comes out of MGA, like Carter Bryant said?

Companies Overestimate the Impact of soccer moms and “feminists”

Is Carter Bryant Right About the Industry or Wrong?

Vocal Minority

The Real Problem with Bratz in 2015

Isaac Larian Unaware of 2015 Bratz?

Why New Facial Screenings, MGA?

In our first discussion, there had been some heavy criticisms about the new Bratz facial screenings (I will elaborate more on it in my Bratz 2018 review coming up later). What are facial screenings? The Bratz face design, in a nutshell.

MGA has recently announced the new face screenings on Facebook and Twitter.

Yasmin Bratz 2018 doll

In this discussion, I’d mentioned that maybe MGA “couldn’t or doesn’t want to” use the original 2001 screening for some reason. I put it out there that maybe the court cases have affected what MGA is allowed to use or it has affected what they want to use. Maybe they want to deviate from Bryant’s design as much as possible just to avoid any future issues. Perhaps they even want these new dolls to feel more like “Hayden’s”. This isn’t based on any particular evidence of anything, just a theory based on me putting myself in MGA’s shoes. If I had gone through drama because of older Bratz dolls, I’d be desperate to walk away from the drama as much as I possibly can without throwing away my million-to-billion-dollar brand. This means I would keep the parts of Bratz that make them passable to fans, while trying to change the portions of the brand that cause controversy. Or if I couldn’t use the old artwork, I would want to separate the brand from its past as much as possible.

The people in this camp weren’t having it. They did not like what I said and felt I was misinformed. The insider’s group told me (and I’m assuming they got this info from the insider) that MGA owns everything regarding the Bratz now, that the court cases have no influence on Bratz anymore, and that MGA won the court case (which from my understanding, I thought it was just “settled” but okay…) and has the rights to the original 2001 doll screenings. So basically, I’m stupid. I’m stupid for even thinking maybe there was some logical reason why a company has constantly ignored fans’ desire to have 2001 screenings return. Okay, I can take an L. But now I want answers. Why is MGA avoiding giving fans 2001 screenings when that has been one of the most-desired, most asked-for request? We never asked for new screenings. So why do we keep getting them?

The funny thing is…I mentioned this same theory in my 2015 review article. I mentioned that maybe MGA couldn’t use the old drawings or face screenings. In the same article I mentioned it, Carter Bryant said my article was “well-researched and accurate”. He didn’t deny or correct anything that I said.

This is exactly what I said:

Perhaps MGA had to deviate away from the original designs due to the court cases. MGA had to remove all 1st Wave Bratz from shelves and they are no longer allowed to utilize the original look for the Bratz. This could be why there is a change in the eyes (clearly going from being glossy-eyed to being doe-eyed). That loss in the court case really changed the Bratz. MGA may be trying their hardest to make Bratz as similar to how they used to be as possible without stirring another court case battle. From my understanding, they have to be careful using the format given to them by Carter Bryant. It really is a shame because those details make a world of a difference. Still, the only thing they may not be allowed to use are the eyes and original facial structures. This shouldn’t affect their fashion sense. Perhaps we will see more fashion lines like the Study Abroad line in the future.

Bryant didn’t have a problem addressing anything else. Why wasn’t this addressed? I mean, it was just a theory, based on how I’ve seen other companies behave. Still, he didn’t seem to think this needed to be corrected. Maybe he also believed MGA didn’t want to use his design or couldn’t…I don’t know…

Moving on, let me address some other comments made by the “insider”.

So I made some theories as to why I thought MGA may have decided to go with an exclusive collectors’ line first at this time. I had the assumption that MGA didn’t really necessarily make the collectors’ edition dolls to please long-time fans, but to get away with making the dolls edgy (This is me, assuming retailers control the game and how things go).  Yes, I know every company always wants to please fans, but they could’ve aimed to please fans with regular playlines. They didn’t have to have that aim through a collectors’ line. So, I thought that they just couldn’t, for some reason, please fans and market buyers at the same time. I felt that there was more to it than just trying to please fans. The insider said:

The core goal for this [Bratz 2018 reboot, I’m assuming] was always genuinely to please the fans and make it up to us. That’s why Isaac made it a point to bring Paula in and to tell us about that detail. As I have said before in other threads, the issue with dolls today is NOT because of retailers or “soccer moms” or whatever else many people think, almost all of it stems from internal paranoia and a general fear of making waves on the part of toy marketers. I can say this with full certainty having worked on MGA’s marketing team, and having heard personally from Isaac himself how he works with retailer feedback. Paula’s advantage was that she doesn’t have that paranoia, and was even responsible for pushing the envelope the MOST with Bratz. She has maintained that she would never work on Bratz again unless she could be certain that they would remain true to their original vision all the way to launch, because she has seen this exact scenario play out time and time again and she doesn’t want to be left with the blame when it inevitably goes south. That’s why she left the team early on in 2010 era, 2015 era, and surely 2018 era.

I found out about this worker named Paula from the book You Don’t Own Me. I think I mentioned I would talk about this book to someone who commented to me on one of my videos. Basically, this book gives the background of the whole court case fiasco and what went down between Bratz and Barbie. On Amazon, they have a hard-copy, internet version, and audio version. It’s an interesting read.

While the insider is relatively respected by those that surround them, and they’ve said a lot that makes sense above, here’s the line that baffles me: “As I have said before in other threads, the issue with dolls today is NOT because of retailers or “soccer moms” or whatever else many people think, almost all of it stems from internal paranoia and a general fear of making waves on the part of toy marketers.”

The insider says that the issues don’t come from retailers, soccer moms, and “whatever else”. But then the insider says it stems from “internal paranoia and general fear of making waves with toy marketers”.

So my next question is this: Where does the “internal paranoia” come from then? Why are companies today paranoid? What are they paranoid about? You can’t be paranoid about something if nothing was brought to your attention to begin with to make you paranoid. You can’t be paranoid without pressure. Sure, Paula was brave enough to face the storm. But why don’t other companies want to take the risk? What are they afraid of it there’s more advantage to taking risks than not?

Okay, in real time, obviously, feminists and soccer moms aren’t directly boycotting and protesting and sending nasty letters to some of these companies everyday. Most of them pay little attention to what’s going on in the toy world. But this doesn’t mean they aren’t WORKING in high industry positions that put pressure on the industry as a whole. This doesn’t mean that soccer moms and feminists aren’t influencing the current toy culture at large (and really culture in general). So, if it isn’t them, then who is creating the paranoia within these companies?

Throughout this conversation, I never really got an answer to these questions. I really would like to know.

I also want to anaylyze the “toy marketers'” bit of the conversation.  A “toy marketer” is someone who aims to maximise profits (basically receive the most money) through developing sales strategies (basically by making plans) that match customer requirements (basically all of our expectations) and by promoting products, services or ideas regarding the toy of interest.

Apparently, “toy marketers” have the most influence on companies today. If companies are afraid to make waves with these people, these people must be the ones calling the shots.

So that leaves me with another question. If these toy marketers influenced companies, what are toy marketers’ aim? What do toy marketers today want from companies, to the point companies are shifting their focus so they won’t “make waves” with them?

If this is the case at MGA, what are toy marketers themselves demanding? Especially to the point companies fear making waves with them? Why are toy marketers charging to change the image of all of these brands?

It’s pretty obvious that dolls are aiming to be far more wholesome and far more inclusive nowadays. Is that a result of internal paranoia and the avoidance of making waves with “toy marketers”?

If so, are all of these toy marketers working with soccer moms and feminists? XD Because all of the dolls out nowadays seem set to create these kinds of “empowering and wholesome” images pushed for by mom and some (not all) feminist communities nowadays. And we’re talking even outside of the fashion doll industry.

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Why a “Collector” Label and “Amazon Exclusive” with the 2018 relaunch?

Let’s look at the next point in the conversation. The insider said,

“We can’t say for sure how Bratz would have launched before Hayden entered the equation, but the Collector label was only ever mentioned after, and having literally witnessed these email conversations, the vibe is that they saw Hayden as a “big name” they were collaborating with, and that is the reason they decided to go for a “collectors edition” release. Otherwise, I firmly believe Paula would have delivered us some solid playline dolls to be sold at whatever retailers they could finesse – and believe me Isaac is VERY good at finessing them (Bratz were also hugely popular and relevant as this would have been happening, only making them an easier sell). MGA is a playline company, they aren’t cut out for true collector dolls, as we are all seeing right now. They’re aware of this fact and wouldn’t have seen a need to limit their reach like that otherwise. Again, I say this with certainty because “Bratz Collector” is even a concept I worked on while I was there ?? They just really believed that Hayden’s name alone would bring in a lot of sales and would constitute a collector label.”

It’s no small news that fans asked and asked for Hayden Williams to be the designer for the Bratz’s next relaunch. But why it was released as a collectors’ exclusive, and was the first comeback line, despite the fact Hayden is relatively new to the doll design industry, was perplexing.

My big question is this: Though we know Hayden has a following, did MGA really think Hayden was big enough to disregard a worker who’d been with the team for over 10 years? If Paula was able to deliver the solid playlines as expected, why have MGA disregarded her for the last couple of years? Why was she disregarded in 2015 or why wasn’t her expertise considered in 2015? What is it about Paula that MGA has lost faith in? Why won’t they trust her 100%? Why have they put more faith in marketers and fan designers and less faith in Paula? If anything, this could’ve been a straight collaborative effort between Paula and Hayden Williams.

I have no doubt that a “collectors'” label was placed because of Hayden’s involvement. But is it truly the ONLY reason they wanted to utilize the collectors’ label? They could’ve had Hayden design a playline without a collectors’ label. Hayden still could’ve promoted it on Instagram WITHOUT a collectors’ label. They’ve had collectors’ edition dolls before. They wouldn’t need Hayden to label it the way they did.

I’m sure Isaac Larian is good at pitching the Bratz to any retailer he wants to. He’s an expert CEO who has helped in building a brand like this from a privately-owned company. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take hard work and a good strategy to do so. I’m sure selling online took less time and less go-throughs. Who wouldn’t want to find the easy way out? But if there were no other factors, and they literally just thought having a fan name would drive sales, so be it.

Or…as I theorize, did they feel they would be able to do more with the line by calling it a “collectors’ edition” because “retailers hold the power” as Carter Bryant expressed? Did they feel they wouldn’t even be able to make the brand as “edgy” without calling it a collectors’ edition, as is the case with Barbie Collectors’ dolls?

According to the book You Don’t Own Me, that’s the sheer purpose of that Barbie “collectors'” label. Barbie Collector dolls were designed to give old-time Barbie fans dolls they wouldn’t normally be able to find on toy shelves. Basically, it’s so they can create edgy Barbies without receiving the backlash. They don’t express it that way, of course. They market it like “It’s for the old-time fans”. But even the business experts in the book “You Don’t Own Me” know that it’s just so Mattel can get away with creating more mature-looking Barbies and Barbies designed after PG-13 or Rated-R content. They call the playline team the child-directed team while they call the “Collector dolls” team the adult-directed team. Was MGA in the same mindset when planning this collectors’ doll line?

I still have a hard time believing “soccer moms and feminists” have absolutely no impact on dolls like the Bratz. All business experts believe that moms run retail and that influences business.

Even according to the book You Don’t Own Me, they expressed that companies like Mattel play it “safe” to avoid backlash with regular playline dolls directed to children. Where would any backlash come from? The only backlash that’s ever come at Barbie has been from moms and feminists who dislike the sexualization of dolls. They separate the detailed, quality, and edgier dolls for their collector lines from the dolls on shelves for this purpose. This motivation would sound reasonable even for a company like MGA. And yet, the insider says that the only reason they placed a collectors’ label is because Hayden is involved.

In my theory, I assumed a “collectors” label was placed because MGA wanted more freedom with the brand, especially considering Bryant mentioned that retailers run the industry. But if that’s not the case, why play around with a collectible label at all? Why was it even considered? Why would they assume it would make far more money than regular playlines?

I also find it interesting MGA and this insider feel the company isn’t cut out for collectors’ lines. I mean, I’m sure they don’t have the team they once had, but they do have a format.

In 2003, MGA released the Big Bratz Collectors’ Edition dolls.

MiggleMuggle photos

MiggleMuggle photos

MiggleMuggle photos

The Bratz 2018 dolls aren’t the first collectors’ dolls MGA has had. Just bouncing off of that, they could’ve used the same formula with their newer dolls. I’m not sure I agree that MGA isn’t cut out for collectors’ dolls. With the right team, they could pull it off. They just need, as I’ve said time and time again, someone who understands the brand and its fans. They need someone who has an eye for the details, too. They don’t just need one person, they need a strong team overall.

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Do retailers have any control over what comes out of MGA, as Carter Bryant said?

The third thing the insider shared was:

“I think we can put the Fashion Pixiez debacle to rest honestly. That’s not only very old news that does not reflect today’s market, but was also not the norm even then – which is why that line specifically gets so much attention for it. Retailers typically don’t pay much attention to the finer details like individual outfits. They want the general theme and the play pattern. MGA was also in a very weird position during the time those dolls were in development. Isaac had taken on a lot of marketing people from Mattel who were in his ear and were responsible for the huge changes in direction we saw with the brand (the cookie cutter invasion, the endless “for you!” Iines, Closmin, etc.) and I believe they are who led him to start putting so much stock in retailers’ suggestions (For an example of this, pretty much every “Closmin” collection originally had the core four, but Sasha, Jade or both were often cut only because retailers didn’t see a need for them. Previously, they would have gone ahead with them anyways.)”

If it was “just old news”, why did Bryant see the need to bring it up in a conversation regarding 2015 Bratz? If it was “just old news”, and doesn’t apply to even the current market, why did Carter say even NOW he would be “powerless to give this brand a push because retailers run the industry”. And if it wasn’t the norm for retailers to dictate every detail back in the day, why did Bryant express this at this point, as if this wasn’t only a Fashion Pixiez issue? In order to say “Consumers can ask for a product, but ultimately it’s the retail (buyers) that dictate what goes on shelves”, he must really believe that they run things. To go so far as to say even HE, even at the HELM of things (which means at the HEAD of things) would be powerless to give the brand a new kick…Fashion Pixiez was merely an example. Bryant made it seem like retailers control what goes on shelves in totality and how that controls the outcome of the dolls…

Further, the bit about the Closmin aspect stands out to me. The Closmins have been an issue since 2004…We first saw this with the Limited Edition Collectible dolls in 2003 and Wild Life Safari. Heck, look at all of 2005.

  • Birthday Bash – Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Phoebe
  • Campfire – Cloe, Yasmin, Dana, Phoebe, Felicia
  • Dynamite – Cloe, Meygan, Nevra
  • Fabulous Las Vegas – Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Tiana
  • Hollywood Style – Cloe, Yasmin, Dana, Phoebe, Katia
  • I-Candy – Cloe, Yasmin, Phoebe
  • Live In Concert – Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, Sasha, Dana, Nevra
  • Midnight Dance – Yasmin, Meygan, Fianna
  • Ooh La La Paris – Cloe, Dana, Kumi
  • Play Sportz – Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Meygan, Fianna, Roxxi, Cameron
  • Rock Angelz – Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, Sasha, Roxxi (Playset Exclusive), Eitan (2-Pack with Yasmin Exclusive)
  • Step Out! – Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, Sasha, Meygan
  • Treasures – Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, Sasha, Roxxi
  • Triiiplets (3-Pack) – Valentina, Oriana, and Siernna
  • Twiins (2-Pack) – Tess and Nona, Valentina and Oriana
  • Wild Wild West – Cloe, Yasmin, Meygan (with horse), Fianna, Kiana
  • World Destination #2 Pretty N’ Punk – Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, Meygan, Cameron, Dylan, Eitan
  • Boyz Rock It! – Cameron, Eitan, Koby
  • Boyz Step Off! – Cameron, Dylan, Eitan, Koby
  • Holiday (Limited Edition) – Katia
  • Rock Angelz Fan-Club (Limited Edition) – Meygan

So having a Mattel team in Larian’s ear wouldn’t have really created that Closmin disaster by the time of the Bratz Fashion Pixiez release. If anything, the lines that came before that point built up the Closmin factor long before it took over. If you don’t have Jade and Sasha in a number of popular lines, eventually people get used to supplementing them with the other dolls.

However, it’s not surprising that more and more Mattel marketers decided to connect with MGA and influence the direction.

The final point that made me have more questions than answers was this:  “For an example of this, pretty much every “Closmin” collection originally had the core four, but Sasha, Jade or both were often cut only because retailers didn’t see a need for them.”

This is what confused me. From the beginning, the insider was saying “retailers” don’t often make drastic changes to the Bratz. But omitting Sasha and Jade from lines is a drastic change. Retailers must have some power if they can tell MGA to cut two core characters out of the equation.

To me, as an African American woman, omitting two dolls of color because they aren’t “needed” is a dire thing! This actually supports the fact retailers control the “biz”. What else would retailers ask to be curbed because they feel it’s not “necessary”?

After I received this response, I presented all of these concerns to them. They did respond back.

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Companies Overestimate the Impact of Soccer moms and “feminists”

This was the first response I received:

“They greatly overestimate the impact of said soccer moms and what you think are “feminists”(The rise of actual feminism is exactly why the general public is finally in support of a brand like Bratz and why it would succeed today tho). For a long time, the general belief in the toy industry was that children had the buying power, and what they called the “nagging factor” or something along those lines. That ultimately, parents will buy what their children ask for – even if the parents don’t necessarily approve of the product – as long as the child is insistent enough. This is partially why Bratz were able to succeed despite all the public scrutiny they faced at their peak. For whatever reason, within the past three or four years, this is no longer what they believe. The emphasis now is placed on targeting the “millennial mom” before anybody else. That’s why Bratz 2015 launched with their mom-targeted brand spot, and also why simply going to no longer takes you to Barbie’s website, but instead one for parents. Again, I say all of this having been on the marketing team, attending research presentations on exactly this topic, etc. The ordered list of target audiences for Bratz 2015 was literally “1. Moms, 2. Children, 3. Alumni (What they call us Bratz fans)”. You might think that because this is their mindset, it must be correct because that’s what they’re doing, but the hugely failing fashion doll category tells another story. It is my understanding that they think parents care a lot more about toys than they actually do. I don’t think most moms would go out of their way to purchase toys that their children have not shown any interest in, just because it appeals to them. The “nagging factor” is something that will never go away though, so they should really just put the focus back on the children.”

I agree that companies greatly overestimate the power of soccer moms and feminists…This insider is definitely right about that. But that overestimation itself still shows that feminists and soccer moms have a role in creating that “overestimation”. You can’t overestimate something if it isn’t brought to you in a way that causes you to overestimate it. Obviously, the ideas that fit with some of these feminists and the moms’ agenda are influencing our culture.

When talking about feminists, we KNOW, come on, that there are two types: those who advocate for women to have the right to wear whatever they want and those that believe dolls shouldn’t encourage girls to objectify themselves. This debate is part of the Feminist Sex Wars. There aren’t just feminists who believe women should be free to wear whatever they want. With the rise of feminism, both parties are largely vocal.

There are plenty of feminists, even the ones somewhat supportive of Bratz, that believe the Bratz are a bad influence on girls and sexualize underage girls (considering the Bratz are meant to be teenagers). Do I constantly have to show receipts? Check out the links below.

The Trouble with “Natural Beauty”

I’ve always agreed that generally parents will buy whatever kids want. I’ve always stated that ultimately a parent won’t buy what a kid doesn’t like, even if they don’t personally like the kid’s choice. I said this in my Tree Change video.

It would make no sense to buy a toy for a kid just to have that toy become a part of the closet. That original thinking was definitely why fashion dolls succeeded so well in the past.

But we’re not living during the 2K era anymore. Back then, the “nagging factor” had more power because people didn’t have the same platform to voice their concerns. With social media, people are able to influence the public of so-called “dangerous ideas”. People take more of a stand when it comes to issues. People have more power to shape companies.

I want to address this statement from the insider: “For whatever reason, within the past three or four years, this is no longer what they believe.”

Okay, this is the page I’m on. I know companies no longer believe that parents will buy their kids anything as long as they insist on it…If they still believed in that, they wouldn’t be making any changes to their dolls for any reason. But then let’s think. Why don’t they believe it anymore? If it isn’t because of feminist and soccer moms’ influence, what’s influencing their beliefs on the matter? If you say social media, who are the main ones vocal about the dolls’ influence on children ON social media? Is it that they no longer believe in it or is it that that particular thinking on matters is now scorned upon by the general public, particularly the public that’s observing dolls, and companies want to avoid public and social media backlash?

The key here is “forever whatever reason”. This is the missing link here. What’s that reason?

Requests by people used to be more private in the 2K era. With social media, moms’ requests are far more vocal and carry far more weight than they used to. If this isn’t a reason in their shifts in belief, what is?

This part also gets my wheels turning:

That’s why Bratz 2015 launched with their mom-targeted brand spot, and also why simply going to no longer takes you to Barbie’s website, but instead one for parents. Again, I say all of this having been on the marketing team, attending research presentations on exactly this topic, etc. The ordered list of target audiences for Bratz 2015 was literally “1. Moms, 2. Children, 3. Alumni (What they call us Bratz fans)”. You might think that because this is their mindset, it must be correct because that’s what they’re doing, but the hugely failing fashion doll category tells another story. It is my understanding that they think parents care a lot more about toys than they actually do.

…Now, I don’t understand how the beginning went from “it has nothing to do with soccer moms” to “the emphasis now is placed on targeting the “millenial mom””.

While, there are many more open-minded moms today, there are plenty of Millennial moms that are also soccer moms and can’t stand the Bratz. Obviously, Bratz 2015 was mom-targeted. No one ever said it was the “correct mindset” or effective. I think most doll fans feel that the mindset is flawed. However, these “ideas” about what pleases moms comes from somewhere. Furthermore, there must be a reason why all of these companies are even concerned about what moms think.

In my theory, I think companies are not necessarily trying to neglect the kids, but they feel the kids won’t show interest in toys anymore regardless. I think psychology experts and marketers are making them think about their responsibility towards children and how their toys are influencing them. I think they have shifted focus on maintaining a clean reputation. They just want to stay stable and receive praise for being family-friendly. They hope to appeal to fans and kids in the process, but they seem to also want mom approval.

If the target for 2015 Bratz was moms, why is it hard to believe moms have influence on dolls like the Bratz today?

The insider stated: “It is my understanding that they think parents care a lot more about toys than they actually do.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. And I also believe companies care more about what parents want than what children want. I mentioned this in my Tree Change review.

Still, going back to the beginning, this supports the fact that feminists and soccer moms have had an influence on the Bratz…whether internally through a marketing team or externally through retail and social media…There’s no denying that these people have influenced companies to believe parents care more about toys than they do…There’s no denying there’s an overall culture shift. So I wonder, if it isn’t soccer moms influencing companies to believe parents “care more about toys than they actually do”, who is influencing these companies?

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Was Carter Bryant Right About the Industry or Wrong?

Later, I addressed Carter’s “Retailers control the industry” remarks and asked the insider’s opinion on them. The insider stated this:

“Carter, as a designer, would be powerless because it’s never even something the designers are even in the room for. The designers and creative side are actually usually the last to know much of anything once their job is done. Any discussion with retailers is between them and Isaac. I’ve literally been in line review and seen these things go down.”

So apparently, designers are never in the room when things go down. But then I question how Carter Bryant would know that retailers control anything if he isn’t in the room with them?

Furthermore, Bryant never said he would be powerless to control what retailers want, but he said he would be powerless to give this brand a new kick because retailers control the industry. It sounds like he feels his ideas would be shut down in this day and age. He even mentioned that “it’s a new generation” and that “Bratz had its day”.

“And, Carter has decades of experience in the industry, and came from Mattel, where things might be different. He was also a little bit above the average designer for Bratz, as more of a creative director/consultant. But either way, I never said he wouldn’t be aware of it, just that he would have no say in it. Obviously the designers are made aware of changes (These are products that are literally sold in stores, after all) – they just find out after the decisions have been made. And once again, it probably was dire in the case of the Pixiez, which is why that is the famous case and there is literally no other example anybody can name of this happening.”

Here, the insider does admit that Carter was a bit above the average designer. So does that mean he might be valid in saying retailers control the business?

I find it interesting that the insider says there’s literally no other dire examples of retailers drastically altering or changing the Bratz besides Fashion Pixiez. The insider mentioned in an earlier comment that retailers didn’t think Jade and Sasha were “needed”, so they were cut. That’s another dire case as far as I’m concerned.

So, now the public knows there were two incidences. What this says to me is that just because there are no famous incidents doesn’t mean it didn’t frequently happen behind-the-scenes. I don’t know how long this insider has worked with MGA or how many review rooms they’ve been in. I’m only going by statements. But who’s to say there were no other cases? How many meetings has this person been in to make that assessment?

It also tells me that apparently different people have different ideas of what’s a “dire” change or alteration. Isaac Larian may have been rather good at getting as much as he could to retailers, but if retailers can even decide which core Bratz girls make it on shelves and which don’t, doesn’t that mean they kind of do control what goes on? I mean, let’s look at 2007-2009. There were too many lines where Jade and Sasha were omitted. That’s not a light change as far as I’m concerned.

I find it interesting that not only did Carter say “I would be powerless to give this brand much of a new kick”…but he also said it’s because “retailers control the biz”. How would he know this? How would he know that “consumers can ask for what they want from manufacturers, but ultimately its retailers who decide every last detail” if this didn’t happen in more than one case? No one forms drastic conclusions like that from one incident.

So I wonder…Do retailers have the power or do they not? The insider made it seem like it’s not a big deal, but Carter Bryant made it seem like it shapes what happens with the doll brand. I guess it depends on your role in the company and how you have perceived things.

The insider later mentioned:

“If I were in Carter’s position, with the experience he had on Bratz where retailers did have a lot more control at one point, and I had been brought in at the beginning of development, then heard and seen nothing until things hit shelves, and they are the way they were, I would immediately think the retailers were at fault too.”

So, basically, the “insider” is saying Carter was expressing from his point of view because he never saw what was happening. Basically, it sounds like the insider is saying Bryant doesn’t really know what he’s talking about in other words. Maybe he’s been away from the doll industry too long to know what’s going on (though Carter did share with me some newer toys he worked on, so he probably hasn’t been that far removed from the toy industry). Or maybe they just have two different views on what’s wrong with the industry.

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Vocal Minority

The insider stated here:

“Yes the vocal minority are who are often given the power in the social media era, unfortunately. One of MGA’s marketing people actually talked about that with me and noted that Mattel only keeps Barbie Collector, which apparently doesn’t make much money, going because the fans are capable of creating such a frenzy online. That is also why this comeback was meant to appeal to us fans before anyone else.”

At this point in the conversation, I believe we are on the same page.

But I also want to add that I feel anti-fans also have a voice in shaping business. People don’t often understand that. They think only fans influence brands. Anti-fans can be the rise and fall of a brand too. These anti-fans can influence people if they present a solid reason for their dislike and make people question their own ethics and morals. Many soccer moms and the feminists against the sexualization of fashion dolls have done this to the fashion doll industry. They have made people question themselves. They have made people re-evaluate the message dolls are sending to girls.

When I mentioned how soccer moms and feminists sought to change Barbie in the 1990s which contributed to her shift towards “careers”, Carter Bryant didn’t deny what I said. In fact, he felt it was accurate. Obviously, there must be some connection between what moms, feminists, and the current toy industry culture.

In the article TOY FAIR 2018: ARE YOU READY TO JOIN THE DOLL FIGHT CLUB, the writer, Stephanie Finnegan, stated,

Toy Fair 2018 was rife with dolls that reflect, to try to mirror, what today’s girls are all about. The clothing was more streamlined and reflective of the real world, not that many flouncy dresses and acres of petticoats. The girl dolls were dressed to tackle outdoor sports, with Title IX helping them to attain those soccer or football goals that once only belonged to their male schoolmates. At Toy Fair, so many of the dolls were garbed as athletes or, at least, athletic young women. Their creators also supply home turf for them, so it’s not just a dream house that the dolls can retreat to. It’s also a camper, a stable, a locker room/sauna, and a wide variety of outdoor possibilities. The dolls of 2018 have places to go and mountains to literally climb…

That’s a major takeaway from Toy Fair. While girls have been encouraged since the mid-1970s to participate more in sports—shown that a career in athletics can be theirs, not just their brothers—they have not been enticed to play with dolls. If anything, a doll has often been associated with “toxic femininity.” (You know that has to exist in some people’s minds; it’s the antonym yet similar rallying cry of “toxic masculinity.”) While young girls have been tempted and propelled into becoming more jock-ish and more competitive, dolls have been pretty much ignored, except for at Halloween where they pop up as evil doers and villains…

At this year’s Toy Fair, I think the game plan—to borrow a sport’s term—is to make dolls reflect what girls are being pushed to pursue. Just as a girl may never grow up to be a runway model, a movie star, or head cheerleader, she could fantasize about it via her Sindy, her Gene, or her Barbie. The doll was wish fulfillment. The same holds true for these new dolls that seem to have all the answers for outdoor fun and games. They are able to ride horses, catch trophy-size fish, careen in racecars, and score series-winning points. The new dolls are able to pin an opponent in a wrestling ring, not worry about getting “pinned” by a fraternity sweetheart or receiving a ring from a smitten suitor. These are dolls that could do an episode of cable-TV’s “Naked and Afraid” without batting an eyelash. They’d never show fear, and they’d never have to worry about their anatomy being blurred out.

One just has to look at popular music videos to understand where this kind of mindset is coming from and how it is subtly influencing culture:

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The Real Problem with Bratz in 2015

The insider next made this statement regarding why Bratz turned out the way they did in 2015.

“MGA brought in a whole hoard of new people and fancy million-dollar (Not exaggerating sadly) marketing deals. All of these people were heavily against Bratz and what they were, with their brand director at the time literally saying on the day she was hired, “I never thought I would work on Bratz. I have always hated them”, which is how things turned into what they did.”

This is where the insider believes that the reason 2015 Bratz were so awful was because they got people who disliked Bratz on board. And this is juicy news to me. I know a lot about Bratz. I knew the people working on the Bratz didn’t know about the brand. But to say “I always hated them”? Come on. Wow. That’s something I didn’t know.

But again, even with this new brand director they hired in 2015…Did anyone ever ask her on the sly why she said she always hated them? Looking at 2015 Bratz, it was obvious she was supporting the feminist/soccer mom agenda. Come on, you can’t tell me she wasn’t influenced by that agenda! She took her opportunity to direct Bratz into a feminist/soccer mom brand.

So if we have someone within the brand influencing the direction of Bratz according to the soccer mom agenda, how can anyone deny that soccer moms had anything to do with it? One of them was working in-brand! I’m sure there are more of them lurking within the industry, trying to change up the fashion doll industry so that there are different influences for girls.

It doesn’t sound like she didn’t like the body aesthetic, especially because she enlarged the head and feet even more. Looking at her direction, it seems she wanted to make these dolls more wholesome…That in itself shows how much influence soccer moms and feminists have on marketing teams and directors entering the fashion doll industry. That shows even how they are influencing the culture. They aren’t just on social media ranting anymore. They are working through the industry, getting jobs in these areas, so that girls can have different role models to play with.

And we don’t just see this with Bratz. Look at Barbie. It’s difficult for me to understand how anyone can deny feminists’ and moms’ influences on her. With the large number of body-positive dolls, individualized dolls of color, and covered up Barbie dolls, it’s clear who is in control. Look at how Disney Princess is changing with Hasbro. Moana is considered “body-positive” in comparison to her skinny princess peers. Disney’s newest dolls are far more covered up than they once were. They look sweeter, too. Trust me, I’m not saying it’s all bad. But whether it’s bad or good, the influence is there. It’s not about whether it’s good or not.

To say that soccer moms have nothing to do with the 2015 direction of Bratz is to say moms don’t run retail…And everything in the business disagrees.

Finally, I asked the insider why MGA hired a team that didn’t care for the brand and why they allowed it to change. I want to share this point that was made by this insider because I think it makes total sense.

“It wasn’t MGA’s/Isaac’s conscious decision to switch gears, and if you asked Isaac at any point then what their mission was, he would still say it was to bring back the brand’s core “DNA” as they called it. Things just unraveled into the exact opposite of that as the new people took control. They didn’t hire them BECAUSE they were anti-Bratz or even knowing that that was the case, they just hired literally anybody who was willing to take the job. The brand at that point was not seen as a desirable one to work on, they took whoever they could get. It was not ever retailers who introduced the idea of targeting moms or going super kiddy, it was the hugely expensive marketing firm they hired (They later ended up ending their contract MUCH earlier once they realized they weren’t fit to do any doll line) and the Bratz-hating brand director who took them in that direction because they thought it would work better and because she favored that aesthetic personally. She literally cut their side glances only because she doesn’t like dolls to look to the side, to give an example of her “thought process” for Bratz.”

Of everything, this is the one new thing I learned. So, from the insider’s perspective, retailers didn’t have anything to do with the Bratz 2015 change. Of course, Carter Bryant was sure that retailers have an overall effect on the direction companies take.

I question what MGA saw in this new marketing team. How did this market director sell herself? I’m sure there was a screening process before these people were hired.

I know neither person (the insider or Bryant) personally. Neither person is working for MGA at the moment either. As far as I’m concerned, they’re both just talking to other inside connections themselves or elaborating on their own personal experiences with the brand. Still, they both have far more experience than I do with the brand. I have experience with business and the toy industry as a whole for sure. I’ve been a fan in the toy industry since the 1990s. But I can’t tell any of them about the Bratz brand.

I think the insider’s view makes sense here though. Obviously, it was the new marketing team that went for the kiddy theme. And it makes sense that MGA hired them because they had no one else.

But this comment makes me further stand by my belief that soccer moms have gotten control of the toy industry. The brand-director herself was obviously on that same “soccer mom” bandwagon when she decided to market Bratz 2015 to MOMS. She was one of these people controlling the outcome of Bratz. So AGAIN, MOMS continue to control the industry, even by latching on to vulnerable companies to do so, even in the form of marketers. What’s American Girl’s excuse? What’s Barbie’s excuse? What’s the deal with Betty Spaghetty?

As I said in response:

Has this director ever slipped and specified why they disliked Bratz to begin with? If they honestly disliked Bratz because they just didn’t like the design aesthetic of Bratz (the big bubble heads, skinny bodies, and big feet), that’s one thing. Though it couldn’t be possible because they highlighted those qualities. But if they didn’t like the original Bratz because they felt “Bratz were a bad influence on girls”, that doesn’t negate the fact that feminists and soccer moms control the industry, and that in fact supports that theory. A marketing team like this points to the fact that feminists and soccer moms have influence over the Bratz and other dolls. These types of marketing teams are able to prey on vulnerable companies like MGA and shape the industry to meet these “minor vocal” groups. It seems the marketing team hated the Bratz because of what they stood for. Am I wrong? If the company has directors, marketers, and designers who support the “soccer mom and splinternews type of feminists” even WORKING with doll lines like Bratz nowadays, doesn’t that show that they have some influence over how these dolls turn out?

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Isaac Larian Unaware of 2015 Bratz?

Last, the insider stated:

Isaac himself actually wasn’t even aware of MANY things going on behind the scenes on Bratz during that time, many things they literally lied to him about or did behind his back. I think people tend to have too much faith in MGA as a company to make smart decisions and plan effectively, or even just to do what makes sense. Everything that comes out of them is an accident or a coincidence, and even at the brand’s peak that was the case. Nobody was on the same page in 2015. Of course it doesn’t make sense, and that’s why it failed miserably after that summer. If there was an actual solid reason for any of it, it would have worked and they’d still be going to this day with that direction. The way things panned out for Monster High, and Barbie’s ever-declining sales, paint a similar picture.

I personally feel that there was nothing that passed Larian’s eyes. Most CEOs know what’s coming out of their companies before it does. In observing businesses, I have yet to hear of any company CEOs just letting things hit shelves without their approval, scan, and input. I doubt people just lied the 2015 dolls to shelves…Hmm…Yeah, I don’t really believe it. Though Larian may have said this was the case, I don’t think it was.

But I’ve heard that most of the things created in MGA, even at its height, was a result of coincidences and accidents from the book You Don’t Own Me. Really, most business successes are the result of coincidence. The book Good to Great by Jim Collins really highlights that about business. That’s another good read for anyone interested.

Now, the insider says there wasn’t “any solid reason for any of it”. But I wonder if that’s the case. I wonder if there really was a reason that’s not being disclosed. What was Larian’s true reason for allowing the brand’s image to change so drastically over the last couple of years?

I agree that people expect MGA to make excellent decisions, but I also think that people are quick to blame MGA when things go wrong and not understand why things spiral out of control to begin with on a business level. I think people put too much faith in MGA’s ability to bring the old Bratz look back. Is there a possibility they can’t? Everytime that’s brought to the table, it seems some people want to believe MGA just “miss the mark with good intentions”. Everytime I bring that to the table, people are looking at me like I have two heads. I believe in looking at all possibilities. When people start telling me to shut up, that’s when I peer even closer.

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So to end this discussion, I just want to ask: What is the Truth Behind the sudden change in the 2015 dolls and their current transition into the 2018 dolls? Is it, as Carter stated, an issue with retail? Or is it as the insider stated “company paranoias, disorganization, horrible directors, and desperation” that caused the downfall of the Bratz?

Who runs the toy industry today? Toy marketers? Market buyers? Or soccer moms and feminists?

We have the one worker, Bryant, who has worked for both Mattel in the 1990s, Bratz in the 2K era, and the Bridge Direct around 2013 to 2014, saying retailers control the business. This is a man with 20+ years of experience. But he’s no longer working in the toy industry and isn’t working for Bratz anymore. So does that mean his outlook is outdated?

We have the “insider” who has been a long-time fan of Bratz, worked for Bratz with the marketing team for a couple of years, but no longer works for MGA. This insider has made many friends within the company and apparently still has worked in some capacity with the current dolls. So, the insider has seen how the MODERN day industry is shaping dolls.

As an inquisitive blogger, ya’ll, I aim to find out the truth! I will probably be investigating more about this topic as the year progresses, and hopefully gain some more insight. I’m determined to dig deeper into this.

A video of this will be posted soon!

In my next article and video, I will be reviewing the 2018 Bratz dolls.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this discussion! Why do you think the Bratz and all dolls in the industry have been changing their image lately? You’re welcome to share!


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