Thursday, August 22, 2013

Novi Stars on the brink of extinction?

When I first saw MGA's Novi Stars last year I thought they were cute but they looked more like figurines than dolls. However, these aren't your grandma's Precious Memories figurines.

Novi Stars promo photo, first wave

The Novi aliens are short with poor articulation and hard plastic bodies, so in my eyes there isn't much doll there. I also didn't think they were worth $20, the original price. This regular retail price eventually dropped down to $15 everywhere, but many parents and collectors still think that's on the high side for what you get.

There was a rumor going around a few days ago that Novi Stars were cancelled. Then a somewhat vague response to the outcry from fans was posted on the official NS Facebook page. You can read the rumor and official public response for yourself.

The good people at did some investigating and their source on the NS team gave them some great scoop:

It was confirmed that at the moment, there definitely will not be any new Novi Stars products for spring 2014, but that the fall 2013 line is still going to store shelves (Many of the new dolls have actually been out for a little while now!) and it was also made clear to us that Novi as a whole is not “cancelled” or “discontinued” just yet, and that if sales pick up dramatically this fall, it’s VERY likely that we’ll see more from them in the future! Our cosmic pal also added  that “Things change from week to week or even day to day [at MGA]. Hardly anything is ever set in stone.” and reminded us that “It’s all about sales numbers. If people don’t buy, stores don’t order new product. They won’t take a risk on something with a small interest group." 

Follow this link to read the entire post about this subject on Bookmark that site and check their blog for updates.

About that "small interest group"

From what I've seen, the Novi Stars line has not developed a strong following online where teen and adult doll collectors hang out, which is message forums, blogs, and photo sharing sites like Flickr and Tumblr.

I've also seen very little enthusiasm online for Cutie Pops and La Dee Da, two other lines that were new in stores last year. I was curious to see if the big head doll collectors (Blythe, Pullip) would like them but the general response was "oh, cute" -- not negative but fairly lukewarm. They'd rather spend $200 on a new Blythe I guess. There aren't enough adult doll collectors to save a toy line though. 

Maybe La Dee Da and Cutie Pops are popular with young children so sales satisfy their manufacturers, but it doesn't seem like they're strong sellers where I live. 

I'm definitely not pro-Facebook but a lot of young people are so I think this says a lot:

Facebook fans, as of 08/19/13

Hello Kitty:  13,617,908 likes
Barbie:        8,096,325 likes
Monster High:  1,633,679 likes
Bratz:           882,609 likes
My Little Pony:  400,313 likes
Str. Shortcake:  287,141 likes
Novi Stars:       16,369 likes
Cutie Pops:        4,110 likes
Liv:               3,668 likes (discontinued 2012)
La Dee Da:         2,942 likes

To sum up: A "like" indicates a Facebook user went to the official doll's FB page and clicked the LIKE button, which means all their friends can see they like this doll on their profile page. You can only click LIKE on a page once so there's no ballot box stuffing going on. Think of it as a look at the fan numbers of any product/musician/movie/TV show/etc -- on Facebook.

The dolls introduced last year (Novi Stars, Cutie Pops, La Dee Da) are at a disadvantage due to how long they've been on the market, so you can compare them to each other to gauge how popular they are with FB users. Also, I believe Facebook requires users to be 13, which doesn't stop some kids, but it does cut out a lot of the target demographic for most toy companies. 

Novi Monster hybrids

Last year I decided to eventually buy a Novi Star after seeing these Novi Stars/Monster High hybrid dolls on Flickr -- it's worth a click to see that photo by Flickr user "My Dolls are My Models;" it's lovely. Check out his hybrid set on Flickr here. I told myself to wait for a really good sale though, because who wants to pay full price for a head? This counts as really good:

Thanks Target

I chose Mae Tallick because she talks, plus she's the only first wave NS with a wig -- and I love dolls with blue hair. Robots are also very cool.

Notice 8-bit, her cute pet

I won't bother reviewing the actual doll, except to say I'm glad I didn't pay $10+ for it. Under $5 is a really good deal but it's hard to say where good deal turns into just right. Would $10-$12 retail be OK? That's fair, especially since a pet is included -- the small Bratzillaz pets alone are around $6, which is ridiculous. But 10 bucks is still more than I want to pay for a head. Ross sells last season's toys at a discount so I expect these first wave dolls will show up there for around $8 maybe? 

Some of the 2013 Novi Stars are worth $10, maybe even regular retail (I want to see them in person first), but they're not showing up everywhere, and they're definitely not in my area. We didn't even get the Orbit Beach dolls from earlier this year. I've read a lot of complaints from collectors saying they haven't been able to find the 2013 dolls yet. All traces of Novi Stars (and Cutie Pops) are gone from my Walmart and Target, I don't know if they plan to bring in the new dolls. TRU is still selling the first wave for $15 -- sigh. 

skeleton legs!

Above are promotional photos of three 2013 Novi Stars I'd like to find on sale. There are several more 2013 NS dolls not shown here, including a cyclops alien and one with multiple arms. You can find them with a google image search.

The Hybridization of Mae

There was one problem with my original plan. After bringing Mae Tallick home I looked up hybrid tutorials and learned from MyDollsareMyModels that Mae's hard robot head means she can't do a body swap. Apparently the other aliens are fine because they have regular vinyl heads.


So I grabbed a screwdriver and opened up Mae's head. I took a ton of photos and will edit them over the next day or two. Soon I'll post my own tutorial on how you can put hard headed Mae on several different body types, including Monster High.

You'll see photos of Mae on bodies she borrowed from LPS Blythe, Kelly,  Bratz, Moxie Girlz, and Monster High! The results range from silly to awesome, check back soon. :)

P.S. MGA also makes Bratz, Bratzillaz, Moxie Teenz, and Moxie Girlz, so going with Stars instead of Starz is worthy of applause. Thanks MGA. You know it was just killing them not to use that Z. ;)


  1. I really, really, really love the design of Novi Stars, but I hate their lack of mobility... as in, their non-moving legs. Maybe that would be different if the doll could stand on its own, but it can't, and the stands are so cruddy that the 2 Novi Stars I do own spend most of their time falling over if I look at them too hard, LOL!

    I think that probably has a lot to do with why this particular doll didn't do better... because design-wise... cute as a button!

  2. Yet another doll that has been possibly cancelled just as the first few arrive in Australia. Sigh. I guess we are just not a big market. It will be interesting to see your hybridisation photos though.