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~~~ Novi Stars Dolls are out of this World! ~~~
Novi Stars are the new dolls on the block in the toy industry. A 2012 release, my daughter first became familiar with this collection when the new Argos catalogue was published at the end of July this year. She instantly became fascinated with their whole premise and saved up her pocket money for weeks to buy one.
Novi Stars are a range of toys from the American company MGA Entertainment, who also are behind other familiar dolls such as Bratz, Lalaloopsy, Moxie, and the pre-school brand Little Tikes. The idea behind the doll is that they female 'aliens' and are here on Earth to try new things, update our fashion trends, and make new friends. The range includes Alie Lectric, Una Verse, Mae Tallick and Ari Roma. Each doll comes with a pet, a glow-in-the dark doll stand and the package handle even becomes an antenna headband for your daughter to play with. These are aimed at the 6 - 10 year old market, and bridge the gap nicely between the Tiny tears and Barbie stages, and the rather gruesome Monster High dolls at the older end of this age range.
~~~ The Range ~~~
There are currently four available to purchase from Argos, Smyths, The Entertainer and other retailers. The usual price is £19.99; however at the current time (November 2012), they can be purchased for around £16.00 with the various promotions running for the Christmas period. The only real difficulty is choosing which one to buy first as they each have their own special features and characteristics.
~~~ The Friends ~~~
Mae Tallick - can really talk! She has a lilac metallic body; ultra-long turquoise bunches in her hair, and a robot-like voice which can say cosmic phrases. Mae dreams of being a pop star. She also has multi-coloured eyes with icons, bow shaped antennas and metallic eyelashes.
Una Verse - has glitter and water floating inside her clear body. She has a white hair with blue streaks, sparkly eyes, spiral antennas and glittery eyelashes. This dazzling diva loves quirky fashion and her legs look a little like glitter balls.
Alie Lectric - is supposed to be the funkiest of all the girls, and has a two tone pink and brown hair, and a translucent green body, which lights up in a rainbow of cosmic colours when activated by a touch sensor. She also has glittered metallic eyes, heart-shaped antennas and glittery eyelashes.
Ari Roma - (my daughter's only one at the moment and also her favourite) has her own bubble-gum scented atmosphere and removable bubble helmet. Her lilac body is encrusted with pink glitter. Her clothes remind me of something out of the sixties with an ultra -modern twist. Her wild and crazy curly purple mop of hair is certainly attention grabbing, but if her looks don't appeal to you, her berry scent certainly will. With a name like A. Roma, you wouldn't expect anything less.
~~~ Packaging ~~~
After parting with her hard earned pennies, my daughter was eager to get at her new doll, and immediately tried to extract it from the packaging. Beautifully packaged, the metallic foil packaging itself is a sight to behold. If you could give brownie points for design, it certainly would get a definite ten out of ten. It wouldn't get many for ease of opening though. Ten minutes later she passed it to me to try, and bear in mind we were still sat in the car park we weren't having much success; especially when trying to retrieve it one of the arms fell off. This isn't as shocking as it sounds as afterwards we found out that they are meant to, to enable ease of removing clothing and dressing. It doesn't give you much faith when it isn't even out of the packet though. The handle of the packaging is supposed to be an alien inspired headband, but for my bigger than average nine year old, it obviously didn't fit, and was immediately forgotten and was thrown away forthwith.
~~~ Ari Roma ~~~
Once we got home and was able to utilise scissors, the job was a good 'un. Elysia was delighted with her new friend and her pet. Ari (Roma) is about 7inches tall and comes with her own glow in the dark stand for display purposes when not actually being played with. Her arms are rather spindly and out of proportion to the rest of her body. She does look more 'normal' in stature to the long legged Barbie dolls though. Her sweet face and features are rounded and childlike in appearance and not at all grown up. I like this as its more 'friendly' for want of a better word. The lovely little touches and attention to detail are amazing. Glittering eyes are really glittered and sparkling, the eyelashes are to die for, and little details are quirky and what I would expect from a little alien friend. An astronaut helmet styled bubble pod encapsulates her head and completes the look.
The body, legs and head of the doll are made from rather rigid plastic and are able to withstand lots of play wear and tear. The arms have some flexibility for dressing purposes. These to my mind are suitable for the purpose but wouldn't withstand extremely rough play for prolonged periods. The translucent helmet is midway between being flexible and rigid. It is hard enough to click into place without any fiddling or fussing, but not flexible enough to withstand being stood on, accidentally or otherwise.
~~~ Problems ~~~
As mentioned before, the arms are meant to be removable to enable easier dressing. The arms are fixed at the elbow, one straight, and one bent, but they do swivel almost 360 degrees from the shoulder. I would have expected a doll like this to have been manufactured with a ball and socket hinged joint, but this is where this doll falls down. The socket is just like a little peg that fits in a hole. The first time it fell out it was simply pushed back in and felt secure, but after a while, it began to fall out by itself and we found Ari armless on more than one occasion. As the arms a rather slender and small, if you don't notice them fall they are hard to find. We've found the ideal solution for the missing limb problem though - my daughter isn't really into dressing them anymore and they stay in their fashions, so I simply took my hot glue gun and glued them in permanently. It might be a design flaw, but the solution works for us.
Another thing to note is that this doll is not suitable for children under three. The little accessories are rather tiny, and you should be aware of this if a younger sibling should pick it up. Bracelets, necklaces, antennae and even shoes are small enough to be capable of being swallowed, so beware.
~~~ Novi Stars ~~~
Ari Roma comes with a lovely little 'pet'. Being an alien, hers is a baby human rather than an animal. Made from a solid piece of plastic there are no fiddly bits to lose. The painted details are superbly finished. The attention to detail is amazing. She too, has a bubble helmet just like her owner.
I must just point out that both Ari Roma and Una Verse are just basic play dolls, like Barbie and such like. They do each have a special feature; Ari's is her scent, and Uni's is her fluid filled body. On the other hand, Mae Tallic and Alie Lectric do perform functions, speaking and lighting up, and as such both require batteries. I am informed that they are included; although as these are for demonstration purposes they may not last very long.
~~~ My Thoughts ~~~
My daughter has lots of dolls to play with, but this is not the typical traditional style. This has great play value, and has seen her acting out little plays, with and without friends, and has even provoked her into making up and writing out stories that involve the pair. She has loved this doll and played with it so much over the past months, that she has asked Father Christmas for the remaining friends for Christmas. After some initial doubts, especially when the arms fell off, this doll has proved to be a much loved toy in my daughters doll collection, and as such, I think Santa has been persuaded to bring the others. I can't wait to see her face on Christmas morning.
Despite the minor flaws at the outset, I can still only award this doll five stars. The problems weren't problems long enough to warrant removing a star for me. My daughter and I recommend Ari Roma, and can't foresee there being any major problems with the other dolls in the collection either.