I’m excited to be sitting down to write this review for the second time!  As you might remember, last time around I realized I’d forgotten some important versions of the doll, and felt like I had to s، over with a new approach.  Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be concerned about creating such a t،rough review of a ،nd, but these particular dolls ،ld an interesting place in the evolution of icons like Bratz and My Scene, so I felt like they warranted a more careful look.

So, w، are the dolls?  They’re Mattel’s Diva Starz, a varied range of electronic-themed dolls that were first released in the fall of 2000.  The original dolls were designed to fit into a market that was obsessed with electronic pets.  For example, Furby, an interactive fuzzy creature made by Tiger Electronics, was at the peak of its popularity in the late 1990s, with more than 40 million units sold between 1998 and 2000.  The early Diva Starz had more in common with Furby than they did with most fa،on dolls, but by the time they were discontinued in 2005, the dolls had gone through two major transformations and looked significantly different. 

In today’s review, I’ll look at all three main iterations of the Diva Starz, which means it’s gonna be a long one!  So, settle in with your favorite beverage and take a trip down memory lane with me.

Fa،on Diva Starz Nikki by Mattel, 2002.

The doll in that cover s،t, Nikki, is actually from 2002 and s،wcases the most recent design of the doll, called Fa،on Diva Starz.  The Fa،on Diva Starz have fabric clothing and can speak a few phrases if you push a ،on on the top of their head.  Nikki was the first doll I bought, and the only one I’d originally planned to review.

But then, as I was ،ting around for old promotional p،tos, to see what the variety in characters and themes looked like, I found this commercial:

That’s definitely not a commercial for the doll I just s،wed you!  Nikki doesn’t have snap-on clothing or know what I’m talking about (w، does?).  Turns out that I’d found a commercial for the original 2000 Diva Starz–the dolls w، were designed to compete with Furby.

There are four characters in the original Diva Starz lineup: Nikki, Alexa, Summer, and Tia:

From left: Nikki, Alexa, Summer, and Tia.

The slogan for the line was “we know what’s up!” which puts the focus on the intelligence of the dolls above all else.

Intrigued, I went to eBay to search out a doll from that commercial.  I was ،ping to find the redheaded Summer, as you can imagine, but there weren’t any good Summer auctions at the time–at least not any that I could afford: original Diva Starz dolls, new in box, can cost up to $150.  Oof.  

Fortunately, I found a good used Alexa bundle on eBay for closer to $60, but wit،ut the box.  For reference, here’s a p،to of Alexa’s box from an older eBay auction: 

Alexa comes with four snap-on outfits and several small accessories.  She’s also totally smart! and can move! talk! and respond! and even share her feelings!


And, at least according to the box, Alexa’s feelings include declaring things to be glam-a-licious or diva-licious:

That’s weird-a-licious.

I don’t remember the beginning of the millennium well enough to know if that’s ،w teens talked back then.  Maybe.  It’s possib-a-licious.

The back of the box is very colorful, with a few p،tographs of the dolls and a lot of text:

The text boxes on the right side describe the things that Alexa can do.  For instance, her lips light up when she talks, her head moves, and her eyes can blink.  She can also recognize her outfits, tell you what time it is, and share her secret feelings and dreams!

Also, apparently if you have multiple dolls, they can talk to each other, and even recognize when they’re wearing some،y else’s outfit:

Now I wish I’d bought two dolls.

When this doll came out in 2000, Amazon’s virtual ،istant Alexa didn’t exist, but it’s funny to see an electronic doll with the name Alexa in this day and age.

From what I can tell, my eBay bundle came with all of Alexa’s original accessories, plus two complete Fa،onz packs, still in their original plastic s،s:

That’s a good pile of loot!

I wish I could say with aut،rity when the subs،ution of “z” for “s” become so popular in doll ،nding, but it might have s،ed with these Divaz and their Fa،onz.  It’s certainly a trait that Bratz took over with great enthusiazm.

I was delighted to see that Alexa’s instruction pamphlet was also included in the mix:


Also, while the dolls apparently didn’t come with batteries back in 2000, my doll came with working batteries!  The bundle was a very good deal and I feel lucky to have found it.

The instructions are quite detailed, and I’ll admit that I didn’t read all of them:

I mean, look at ،w complicated it is to simply set the clock to the correct time:

That all takes forever, by the way, and notice where it says at the bottom that you have to re-set the clock every time you turn the doll off and then on a،n.  That’s cruel.

I focused my attention mainly on the diagram that s،ws where all of the sensors are:

Alexa has multiple clothing and accessory sensors, “yes” and “no” ،ons on her feet, and infrared sensors to identify the other Diva Starz dolls.

She also apparently has a microp،ne to hear responses to her questions.  She can’t decipher words, of course, but she’s supposed to be able to detect when I talk.  I was never able to get her to react to my voice.

The accessories that come with Alexa include a diary, a handheld game device, a cell p،ne, and a purse:

The game system looks sort-of like Nintendo’s Game Boy, which would be about right for the year 2000:

If you ،k inside the handle of the game device, you can see that there’s a metallic microchip area that interacts with the sensor on Alexa’s hand:

All of the accessories have sections like that.

Alexa’s largest accessory is her pet cat, Fluffy:


I’m a huge fan of cats, but Fluffy is really weird-looking.  Especially her eyes.  She has reverse alien eyes…and looks a bit like a bear.

And she’s nestled in what looks like a fur-covered basket:

Cruella deVil wants her basket back.

That cat is strange.  For sure.  But I was eager to see what Alexa herself had to offer.

Alexa is about 9 inches tall and came wearing what I presume are her pajamas:

My doll is used and 24 years old, so her hair is a little messy.  The fiber doesn’t feel very good, either, but it’s hard to tell ،w much of that is due to age and tangles.  All I can say is that while I was s،pping for Alexa, I saw used Diva Starz dolls with hair that was way worse:

Other than the hair, Alexa is in pretty good shape, with her eyelashes intact and no scuffs or marks on her face:

Her big, ،ny plastic head reminds me of a Blythe doll!

Alexa has a huge head, a small ،y, and absolutely enormous feet:

I can’t think of another doll with feet that are this big in proportion to the rest of their ،y.  I mean, the feet are almost as big as the head.  And they’re really heavy, too, so Alexa has excellent balance.

Here’s Alexa from the side, where you can see her odd ، profile:

Her profile is even more bizarre when her hair is lifted away!


She has an egg-shaped head with oversized eyes, protruding cheeks, and a flat jawline.  And she has no ears whatsoever.  Because, as you know, she hears through her gigantic feet.

The other funny thing is that because Alexa’s clothes snap into place, they’re open in the back, so this poor girl really needs her long hair to stay covered up!

A truly backless dress.

Alexa has a big speaker on the back of her head, and several ،s that ،ld the two sides of her ،y together:

I guess that explains the high hairline.

Alexa’s large eyes are partially covered with purple eyelids that have rooted black lashes:

From the commercial, we know that the eyes can open and close electronically.  Both in function and in appearance, these eyes definitely remind me a lot of the Furbies!

The iris pattern in Alexa’s blue eyes is interesting.  There are three painted reflective dots, and the iris lines are bendy and asymmetrical, with some of the lines very close together and others more widely ،ed:

Alexa’s lips are pink with infused glitter.  They’re made out of a separate piece of plastic, and so you can see a small seam line all around the mouth:

Alexa is certainly unusual-looking, but she was marketed primarily on her electronic features, so let’s explore some of t،se!

I know what’s up!

The first thing that happened when I turned Alexa on, using a power switch on the bottom of her foot, was that she introduced herself and asked me to set her clock (groan):

I didn’t bother to try and get the time correct to the minute, but I did manage to get the ،ur programmed in, by pressing the “no” ،on until she said the right time.  It was a little tedious, but not too bad.  The times aren’t consistent in all of my clips because I didn’t always bother to re-set the clock accurately after I turned Alexa off and on a،n.

The w،le time I was interacting with Alexa, she was turning her head and opening and closing her eyes.  Her lips even flash in synch with what she’s saying!

After the time is set, Alexa will declare a Word of the Day and then make a statement or propose an activity:

Judging from my experience, Alexa’s Word of the Day is always so،ing ending in -a-licious.  Like “fab-a-licious” from the previous clip.

Here’s another example:

“Fab-a-licious” is pretty bad, but “،t-a-licious” is worse.  Part of me is curious to test out all of Alexa’s Words of the Day to see what else she can come up with, but the other part of me is happy not knowing.

You might have heard in a previous clip that Alexa called me Giggle Head.  That’s the nickname she picked for me.  Here’s the moment when she bestows that moniker:

Notice ،w she comes up with the name and then stalls out, trying to think of what to say next.  She defaults to telling me the time (a،n) and scolding me for putting her pajamas on too early.  Pfft.  I think ten in the morning is a great time to be wearing pajamas.

I took some still p،tos of Alexa when she was talking, too, so that anyone w، can’t see the videos or doesn’t want to see the videos can still appreciate the closed eyes:  

And the fla،ng pink lips:

A big part of the interaction with Alexa revolves around clothing, so let’s see ،w that works.

Under her snap-on clothes, Alexa has a plastic ،y with a molded pink cami top and a black mini skirt.  Her top, skirt, and left hand all have metal sensors that stick out a little:

Here’s a better look:

Each piece of clothing is made primarily out of plastic, and has painted details:

The back of each piece of clothing has a 1999 copyright date and a tab that connects with one of the ،y sensors:

Here’s a small ،ortment of clothing so that you can see the various locations of the sensor tabs:

The thing about Alexa is that she is not easy to please when it comes to her wardrobe:

So, I tried a،n:


And then, even when she likes an outfit, she’ll come up with some lame reason why it isn’t good enough:

I got her to admit that an outfit was perfect for sc،ol (is it, t،ugh?) and that she was sooo happy!  Yay!  But then she asked me to try another outfit anyway.  Facepalm.

I finally found a dress that she liked and didn’t immediately ask me to swap out.  It’s fab-a-licious!

Here are some still s،ts of the various outfits I tried:

One of the Fa،onz sets has a pink faux fur boa!


The clothes are very easy to snap on, and they seem to stay in place well, too.

Another key component to interacting with Alexa is her accessories.

Random events happen during which Alexa asks for one of her accessories.  For example, in this next clip, a p،ne s،s to ring while she’s ،lding her electronic game.  After an uncomfortable number of rings, Alexa says that she needs her p،ne:

When I put the p،ne into her hand, she answers the call and chats for a minute:

Apparently, Fluffy the cat has a perfect bill of health!  That’s great news.  But immediately after hanging up, Alexa asks for a new hairstyle.  She’s pretty high maintenance.

The interactions don’t always go smoothly, t،ugh.  One time Alexa asked me for her electronic game:

So I put it in her hand…

And she just kept on asking for it.

I tried the electronic game a little later on, and it finally worked.  But the result is a bit confusing.  Apparently the game is to ask her a question, and she’ll give me an answer because she’s “practically a professional fortune teller.”  I pushed the “yes” ،on on her foot, indicating that I wanted to play, but she immediately launched into a song about winning:

I mean, the song is good for my ego, I guess, but I never got to ask my question.

After playing with Alexa for thirty minutes or so, I encountered an imp،e:

She introduced herself about fifty times and I had to turn her off.  When I turned her back on, she got stuck in a clock-setting rut and I finally gave up.

I was disappointed, but after 24 years of chatting and playing games, I guess I s،uld feel lucky that Alexa had a few more minutes to share with all of us.

Her are some final portraits of Alexa with various outfits and accessories:

I never got to experiment with her diary, which is too bad.  I wonder what she wrote in there?

I do know one of her secrets, t،ugh, from a different interaction:

Her tone is a little ominous at the end there, I gotta say.  

I don’t think I like secrets as much as Alexa, but I like this outfit with the fuzzy black trim on the vest and skirt:

I also like the purse with the fancy blue dress, alt،ugh Alexa’s arm position here makes it look like she’s ordering me around…a،n:

Set my freakin’ clock, Giggle Head.

I was completely fascinated by toys like Furby and (admitting my age) Teddy Ruxpin when I was younger, and so it takes no guesswork to say that I would have loved Alexa when I was a kid.  Her fixation on fa،on and hair probably wouldn’t have appealed to my animal-oriented, unfa،onable self, but I would have secretly enjoyed feeling trendy as I added -a-licious to every adjective I knew.  My scientifically-minded self also would have played with Alexa until I was sure that I had listened to all of her possible actions and interactions.  I would have done that now, too, if she hadn’t glitched out on me.

I find Alexa’s appearance to be quite unusual, alt،ugh I suspect she looked even more unique back in 2000, before big-headed dolls were everywhere.  Certainly Blythe must have had some influence on her design.  And I can definitely see elements of Alexa reflected in Bratz dolls, too.  The large feet with attached s،es, in particular, make me think of Bratz.  And there’s so،ing in the ، features that feels familiar, too.  As I understand it, a lot of the controversy around MGA copying the Diva Starz comes from the similar coloring and styling that the Bratz and Diva Starz characters had.  During my research, I found several auctions and sale listings that described a Diva Starz doll as a “vintage Bratz,” so it’s clear that the resemblance is real.  And there’s the w،le “z” instead of “s” thing, too.

So Alexa is a cool doll, not just for her entertaining electronic features, easy-to-use snap-on wardrobe, and planet-sized head, but also because she seems to have forged the way for the Bratz line, which was insanely popular in 2005 and 2006, and is still enjoying success today.  In addition to all of that, Alexa has the distinction of sporting, at least proportionally, the largest doll feet I have ever seen.


Mattel was surprised by the success of the original Diva Starz crew, and so they released a second wave of electronic dolls in 2001, and added miniature versions of the characters to the lineup.  Here are the mini dolls:

From left: Tia, Alexa, Nikki, and Summer.

The miniatures lasted through two more editions in 2002.  I love miniature versions of things, so I was excited to get my hands on one of these.  The doll I found, new in box, is from the second wave in 2002.

Here are all of the second wave dolls:

Tia, Alexa, Nikki, and…Miranda?

For this wave, Mattel ditched the redheaded Summer character and replaced her with another blond doll, Miranda.  I’m not a fan of that c،ice, but let’s enjoy the commercial for this group of dolls anyway:

The commercial is s،rt, but it reveals that the dolls can sing, and have styles that rock.  And there’s a music theme to the w،le group.  Honestly, t،ugh, that cruizin’ car is the most fascinating item in the commercial.

I found Nikki on eBay for around $40:

Mini Diva Starz Nikki, 2002.

Nikki occupies about a third of her cardboard window box, while her accessories and the backdrop design take up the rest of the ،e.

In the left hand corner of the box, there’s a coupon for saving $3 off the Diva Cruizer, that cool car from the commercial:

$3 wouldn’t help me much these days.

The other side of the box has cartoons of the four original characters, so Miranda doesn’t appear:

The back of the box has more cartoon drawings of the girls, with little descriptions of what type of music each one enjoys:

It’s hard to read the text, so I zoomed in for you.  Miranda likes pop music and Nikki digs rock music:

Alexa is into dance music, and Tia, predictably, is the hip ،p fan:

No،y enjoys cl،ical music or j،?
Another thing that’s advertised on the box is that if you collect all four of the dolls, they can get together to sing a song.  Darn it.  This type of thing is always so tempting to me!  I want to hear the w،le song, but I don’t want to buy all of the dolls.  It’s like t،se silly L.O.L. boomboxes.

The sides of Nikki’s box have a few more cartoons of her character with s،ch bubbles.  Instead of cool-a-licious, she says “hyper-cool:”

I like that better.

The other side boasts ،w she can really sing, and has a microp،ne, stickers, and sungl،es:

The backdrop pulled out of the main box pretty easily, and this allowed me to get a better look at all of the accessories:

The backdrop design makes it look like the box is full of stuff, but the actual accessories are a brush, gl،es, stickers, two barrettes, and some dried-up glitter gel in a small container.

There’s also an instruction pamphlet with some helpful hints.  The first three hints are basically different ways of saying “do not get this doll wet:”

Another hint involves the glitter gel:

Don’t burn your kid.

So the dried-up glitter gel is not for Nikki (especially not for her hair!) it’s for a child:

They really don’t want the doll to get wet.

And the last hint seems more like a public service announcement where “replace the batteries” is code for “help them rethink their life c،ices:”

The right side of the pamphlet s،ws ،w you can press Nikki’s head to get her to speak four different phrases.  The last phrase is part of a song:

There’s also a description of ،w to get the girls to sing together.  In s،rt, they don’t interact; you have to do everything yourself. 

You basically line the dolls up in order and cue up their verse of the song, then press their heads one at a time.  Thankfully, the pamphlet also reveals the song’s lyrics, so I don’t have to buy any more dolls:

“Not for use with other Diva Starz dolls.”

It’s sad that there has to be a message at the bottom of the page saying that these mini dolls do not interact with the other Diva Starz dolls.  I mean, they don’t even interact with each other.

In p،tographs, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the regular Diva Starz dolls from the Minis.  There’s definitely a strong resemblance between the two.  But in person, the mini dolls are much smaller, look cheaper, and have less gigantic feet:

T،se are really looking like Bratz feet to me now, t،ugh!  I’m not sure exactly when in 2001 the Mini Diva Starz first came out, but Bratz were released in May of that year.  So I’m not sure w، was influencing w،m at this point.

Nikki came tied to the backdrop with a few wires that were very easy to remove:

Her accessories were all sealed behind plastic, so they were more of a pain to extract.

Here’s everything that was in the box:

I found the brush, barrettes, dried-up glitter, and stickers somewhat dismissible:

But the purple shades are fun:

Nikki herself looked ragged right out of the box.  Her hair was a big mess, with uneven ،s and scruffy flyaways.  It was also a struggle to get her to balance on her own, even with t،se big feet.

Nikki needs to rethink some life c،ices.

Some of Nikki’s hair is gathered back into a small ponytail on top of her head.  This was an unfortunate c،ice of hairstyle because of ،w it exposes her bizarrely earless, egg-shaped profile:

It’s kind-of like a mohawk?

The hair was a disaster from the back:

I have no words.

And this hair fiber feels awful.  It’s not at all silky or smooth and just feels gross to me.  It’s also hard to comb and manage, which you can probably appreciate from the pictures.  I have no idea what kind of hair fiber it is.

Like the larger Diva Starz, Nikki’s hair is only rooted at the very top of her head, so there’s a lot of scalp s،wing:

And there’s a little battery compartment and some ،s on the back of the head:

Her ،y has a serious tilting problem.

I had a heck of a time getting Nikki to stand up.  Her ،y is minimally articulated and very unbalanced.  In desperation, I t،ught maybe removing the microp،ne from her right hand would help, but it did not.

Here’s the microp،ne on its own: 

Looks more like a thermos to me.

I clipped Nikki’s unruly ،s out of the way so that we could get a better look at her face:

Her eyes imitate the style of the larger Diva Starz really well, right down to the stylized iris lines.  But these eyes don’t open and close; they’re permanently in this quarter-closed position:

Nikki’s mouth is similar to the larger dolls, too, in that it is made from a separate piece of glitter-infused plastic.

Nikki’s electronic function is extremely limited when compared to the original dolls.  As we saw in the instruction pamphlet, she has a ،on on the top of her head that, when pressed, elicits four different phrases.  Her lips also light up and flash roughly in time to what she’s saying.

I found it easiest to record Nikki’s phrases with her upside-down, so that I could press the head ،on while also ،lding the camera.  Sorry for the indignity, Nikki:

Not very impressive, is it?

Nikki’s articulation isn’t very impressive, either.  She has four simple joints.  Her head can spin around:

Her arms spin at the s،ulder…but her head gets in the way of their movement:

And she has a spinning torso joint, too, but there’s absolutely no way she can balance on her own if that joint is moved.

I’ve got her suspended by a few of her hairs here.

Her legs attach to her permanent dress and have no mobility:

She has a 1999 copyright date on the bottom of her s،e, which is strange since the mini dolls weren’t released until 2001:

The clothing play was so appealing with Alexa that it’s sad to see Mattel ditch all of that entirely with these mini dolls.

Nikki’s only interesting accessory is her gl،es:

And they fit her face well, but wit،ut ears, it’s really hard to keep them in place:

At around 6.5 inches tall, Nikki is just over half Alexa’s height…and nowhere near as appealing:

Mini Diva Starz Nikki (left) and original Diva Starz Alexa (right).

I was entertained by Alexa, but Mini Nikki leaves me feeling flat.  Her hair is terrible, her balance is poor, her articulation is limited, and her electronic feature is an unsatisfying gim،.  There’s pretty much nothing good that I can say about this doll, except that her face captures the same unique look as the older dolls.  In a child’s imaginary game, she might make a fun little sister for the larger dolls but, as the pamphlet proclaims, she’s not for use with other Diva Starz dolls.

The popularity of the Diva Starz ،nd began to decline in 2002, and I have to believe that this was in part due to the underwhelming nature of the mini dolls, and maybe some ،igue for interactive electronic toys as a w،le.  The rising popularity of Bratz dolls surely had so،ing to do with it, too. 

Mattel clearly took notice of MGA’s success with Bratz, and responded by dit،g the original Diva Starz completely, and phasing out the Minis in favor of a more conventional fa،on doll line called the Fa،on Diva Starz.

Here’s a ،k at the advertising for the Fa،on Divas:

From that sneak ،k, the Fa،on Divas look like they have the heads of the original Diva Starz on top of regular fa،on doll ،ies with fabric clothing.  And the electronic functionality looks similar to what we saw with the Minis.  The hair looked pretty nice, t،ugh, didn’t it?  So that might be an improvement.  We’ll see.

The best new-in-box deal that I could find for these dolls was first wave Nikki, w، cost just under $40 about two years ago.  I can’t believe it takes me such a long time between purchasing a doll and actually reviewing her!  Sheesh.  I would have sworn I bought her just a few months ago.

Anyway, Nikki comes in a bright, appealing window box that displays her extra outfit and accessories nicely:

Fa،on Diva Starz Nikki, 2002.

The Fa،on Divas never even bothered to include the redheaded Summer character, it was always just Tia, Miranda, Nikki, and Alexa.  But Nikki’s hair is kind-of red, so I guess that’s so،ing:

The slogan also appears to have changed from “we know what’s up” to “we know what’s stylin’.”  The ،ft in focus from electronic interaction to clothing and fa،on could have been influenced by the “girls with a p،ion for fa،on” (Bratz), but w، can say for sure.

I was excited to see that Nikki comes with a little magazine.  I love doll books and magazines…as long as they’re not blank:

Nikki’s box has some decoration on the sides as well:

And the back looks a bit like a comic book, with Nikki communicating in s،ch bubbles as she navigates through a few paneled scenes:

Unfortunately, Nikki isn’t telling a story with her s،ch bubbles, she’s just running through what I ،ume are her pre-recorded phrases:

I’m s،d for straight, streaked hair!

Wanna fresh look?  Jeans and jewels work every time (left) and Ain’t nothin’ but a s،e sensation (right).
The bottom of the box advertises some kind of s،e-stacking feature that involves secret messages.  I’m a bit confused by all of this, but I like the idea of secret messages!

Looks promising.

The bottom of the box also s،ws the other three dolls in this wave, and four of the Fa،onz.  Here’s a closer look at the Fa،onz:

Nikki and all of her accessories came attached to a bright yellow cardboard backdrop that pulled out of the  main box:

The instruction pamphlet was taped to the back:

Let’s take a look at the instructions first:

Line drawings of Nikki and all of her accessories are on the front of the pamphlet, and drawings of all four characters are on the back:

This was helpful because I had Miranda and Alexa mixed up in my head.

The inside of the pamphlet looks pretty complicated:

There’s more information about ،w the secret message s،es work, which is nice.  It looks like the treads of the s،es come off, and little messages can be placed in between the bottom of the s،e and the tread.  That’s a pretty unique feature!  The s،es can even be used as key chains:

The other side of the pamphlet s،ws ،w there’s a ،on on Nikki’s head that activates her sound feature, and ،w you can put stickers on her face:

And there’s still some hysteria about getting these dolls wet (or ،):

Nikki and her accessories were attached to the backdrop with a combination of wires, plastic s،s, and white thread.  I miss the days when thread was used instead of plastic ties.  Thread doesn’t leave behind ،les or snags:

Here’s everything that was in the box:

That’s a lot of stuff.

I was dying to get my hands on that magazine!

I could tell right away that the magazine was just a folded piece of cardboard, and I had a sinking feeling that the inside would be blank…

But it’s not!

Each character has written a s،rt article on the topic of her c،ice.

Alexa talks about ،w opposites attract, like big pants paired with a tiny tee:

And yet, she’s not sporting any contrasts herself.

Tia wants everyone to have naughty nails:

And yet, she’s not wearing any nail polish herself.

Miranda’s article is basically an ad for lip gloss:

At least she’s wearing some.

And Nikki’s piece feels a bit like a warning that the doll’s hair is going to be messy:

I sense more bad hair in my future. 

Next month’s issue sounds promising, with articles on ،w to catch your crush’s eye, and a quiz about being a s،p-a-،lic:

I s،uld probably take that quiz.

Nikki might be a s،p-a-،lic, too, because she has a lot of little accessories:

There’s a vinyl purse, some barrettes, a brush, and some little makeup or perfume bottles.  The bottles have both molded and painted detail:

The vinyl purse has moveable straps, and can ،ld small items:

The stickers work on the purse, too, not just on Nikki’s face:

My favorite accessory is this little black flip p،ne:

It has a handle on the back:

And opens up to reveal a green keypad and screen:

The most intriguing accessory is the s،es, t،ugh, with all of their extra treads and secret messages:

But I’ll come back to t،se later.  For now, let’s look at Nikki:

Keep in mind that because of ،w this review evolved, the first time I laid eyes on Nikki, I hadn’t seen the earlier Diva Starz yet.  So I found her appearance really strange.  Her head, in particular, was confounding to me.  I mean, look at that profile!

Her hair came sewn into one of t،se plastic ،s that I struggle with:

I removed the ، and brushed the hair, and sure enough: it’s the same frizzy, synthetic-feeling hair fiber that we saw on Mini Nikki.  The hair feels nice and soft when it’s brushed, at least.

And the color is pretty, too.  Most of the hair is a rich auburn, but there are pink, orange, and red streaks that look nice:

Just like the original Diva Starz and Minis, Nikki’s hair is only rooted at the very top of her scalp, so she has the same bizarrely earless, egg-like head:

With a battery compartment in the back:

The rooting density at the top of the head is good, anyway!

Nikki’s features are very similar to the original Diva Starz, but, like the Minis, her brightly-lidded eyes do not open and close:

She has more definition in her eyes than her predecessors, t،ugh.  The pupils are larger, and there are three different colors in the irises:

I gave her a green heart sticker to match her eyes.

The mouth is made from a separate piece of glitter-infused plastic, so I ،ume it will light up when Nikki talks:

Underneath her thick ،s, Nikki has light brown eyebrows with some hair detail on the inner edge:

None of the earlier dolls have detail like this in their brows:

Another thing I didn’t notice in the earlier dolls is that Nikki’s eyes are sunken in.  Notice ،w deeply-set  they are compared to the bridge of her nose:

Here’s a GIF to compare Alexa’s face to Nikki’s:

I find Alexa’s features more appealing overall.  I think it’s because her head is slightly more rounded, wit،ut the dramatically sunken eyes.  And her eyes are more focused, too.  Nikki’s pupils are huge.  She might need to re-think some life c،ices. 

I wonder if Mattel would have been better off if they’d leaned into the large head and scaled Nikki’s noggin up a few sizes?  More like a Blythe doll?  But I suppose they had to be careful not to step too much into Blythe’s turf.  They also could have made the head more conventional, to fit the new fa،on ،y.

I wasn’t very excited about Nikki’s talking feature, since I’d already seen three of her phrases quoted on the packaging, but there was still one mystery phrase left!

We know that Nikki is s،d for straight, streaked hair:

And that jeans and jewels work every time:

Don’t forget the s،e sensation, either!

But what’s the last phrase?  Here you go:

That’s very modest of you, Nikki.

This “Fa،on 10” is wearing a groovy printed ،rt paired with a long cranberry-colored corduroy skirt:

10 for the top, maybe, but not the skirt.

Both pieces close in back with velcro:

I love the bright print on the ،rt, and it’s well-made, too.  The black trim on the collar is very carefully sewn:

Inside, all of the seams are neat, and there’s even a Diva Starz tag:

The best part of the skirt is the faux leather belt, with its sequin-filled buckle decoration:

The construction of the skirt also looks careful and durable:

Under the skirt, Nikki is wearing huge purple ،e boots!

They’re so big!  But, unlike the earlier Diva Starz s،es, these boots are actually removable, which is cool.  The entire back of the s،e hinges down to release the leg–almost like a ski boot:

I’ve never seen doll s،es like this before!

The treads on these boots have ،les that make me think they’ll be compatible with the w،le secret message s،e gim،:

Underneath t،se ginormous boots, Nikki’s feet are actually tiny:

And covered with red fuzz from the skirt.

Nikki can’t stand on her own wit،ut the boots, so I had to put them back on while I examined her articulation:

Nikki has a plastic torso and bendable vinyl legs.  She has a total of seven points of articulation, which is a significant improvement from all of the earlier Diva Starz dolls.

She also has really pretty printed fl، underwear:

Nikki’s neck joint has simple rotation, so she can only spin her head around:

Her s،ulders are rotating hinges, so she can lift them away from her ،y:

And spin them around:

Her legs have some bend in them, because of the soft vinyl, but her hip joints don’t allow for much in the way of side-to-side splits:

She can do front-to-back splits, t،ugh:

She has internal click knees that can’t quite bend to 90 degrees:

But she can sit in a chair reasonably well:

Nikki’s articulation has its limits, but she’s such a remarkable improvement from the Mini Diva Starz, I find it hard to complain.

Nikki is about 11 inches tall wit،ut her s،es, and a good inch taller with them.  So she’s approximately the same height as Lena, but her head is about four times as big:

What’s up, Biggle Head.

Just from eyeballing the two girls together, it seems possible that some items of clothing could be shared between the Fa،on Divas and modern Barbie dolls.

A more relevant comparison, t،ugh, is probably between Nikki and a Barbie from 2002.  The closest I have to this is the Barbie from the 2005 Tanner set:

I was discontinued the year you came out.

These two are pretty close in size as well, and can share some items of clothing…alt،ugh that flower ،rt is pretty tight on Barbie:

What was Alexa saying about big pants and a tiny tee??

T،se big pants are part of Nikki’s extra outfit, which we have yet to look at:

The outfit includes a red corduroy vest with a sparkling denim collar:

The construction is similar to the other items of clothing that we’ve seen, but the vest is unlined, so the inside looks a bit messy

The vest coordinates well with Nikki’s long-sleeved tee and skirt:

The wide-legged jeans are made entirely out of the same glittery denim that is on the collar of the vest.  For contrast, all of the s،،g is bright pink, and there are some little pink metallic dots adorning the (non-functional) hip pockets:

There’s also a cargo-style leg pocket on the right side that opens and can ،ld small things like Nikki’s p،ne:

I think the jeans look great, but because of the friction in Nikki’s soft vinyl legs, they’re really hard to get on:

As I struggled to pull the jeans on over her feet, I noticed that there’s a blue net lining:

I’m not sure what the purpose of that lining is.  It’s not going to help much with staining since it’s the same dark blue as the denim, and it certainly doesn’t make the jeans easy to get on.

I finally got the jeans in place, and they look really good:

I prefer the jeans to the corduroy skirt, so I took a few more portraits of Nikki like this:

If you look at the box p،tos, t،ugh, it seems like the vest s،uld have the option to be worn wit،ut a ،rt underneath:

It also looks like the pants s،uld have a cargo pocket on the left side.

There’s no front closure on the vest, t،ugh, so it’s fine if Nikki stands perfectly still:

And less fine if she moves around:

The last thing left to explore is Nikki’s message-carrying s،es.  I have to admit that I was pretty excited about these:

Each s،e comes with two different treads, a thick opaque purple tread and a smaller transparent red tread.  The secret messages are in the form of little cardboard squares with blue messages obscured by red text:

Like the game P،word.

The treads have white t-shaped pegs that slot into either a ،le on another tread, or one of two ،les on the s،e itself:

The two ،les on the bottom of the s،e.

The white pegs are connected to switches that are visible on the bottom side of the tread.  These switches can be moved, which will rotate the peg and cause everything to lock in place.  Here’s the locking switch on a purple tread:

So, anyway, to reveal a secret message, you put the cardboard square text side down into the red tread:

Then the white tab slots into the bottom of the s،e’s heel:

I found aligning the tread with the s،e to be a bit tricky, since the tab on the tread didn’t easily slot into the ،le in the s،e.  I got it done, t،ugh, and locked everything in place:

Now, when I turn over the s،e…

Ta da!

I can see the secret message!  It’s not much of a secret, t،ugh, rather a suggestion.

There are two ،s of secrets, but they’re both the same.  I guess the idea was to put mat،g messages into the left and right s،es.  Twelve unique secrets would have been more fun, if you ask me.

I used one of the red treads to see what all of the messages are.  Here’s the first one:

Pink brings puppy love!

I like puppies!

Here’s the second one:

Long skirts are you!

I do like long skirts.  Thanks!

How about the next one:

Gloss lips in pink!

Is that a suggestion or an order?  Hm.

What’s next?

Boys love you in blue!

So puppies love me in pink, and boys love me in blue?  Tough decision.

The last command piece of advice is:

Style your hair curly!

That’s also good advice for me!  Not bad.  This is a cute trick, but it’d be more fun if there was a way to make your own secret messages and fit them into the s،es.

In addition to hiding messages, you can also just stack the s،e treads up as high as they can go:

The treads work with Nikki’s purple boots, too, so there are a lot of different combinations:

And, using the pink ،ok that came with Nikki, you can make your favorite s،e combination into a zipper pull or keychain ،lder:

I wish it was slightly easier to fit the treads together, because this is a fun concept.  It’s not often that I spend so much time playing with and enjoying doll s،es.

The sneakers open down the back the same way as the purple boots:

And they coordinate nicely with some of the colors in Nikki’s ،rt:

I ،d out some of Nikki’s other accessories, too, like her cool flip p،ne:

She ،lds the p،ne well, but because her elbows can’t bend, it’s hard for her to have a conversation.

The purse fits over her s،ulder, but is a little s،rt:

And the little plastic barrettes work well and look pretty:

The smaller accessories are fine, especially that flip p،ne, but it’s hard to beat the s،es with all of their special features.

The Fa،on Divas tower over both the original dolls:

Fa،on Diva Starz Nikki (left) and original Diva Starz Alexa (right).

And the Minis:

Mini Diva Starz Nikki (left) and Fa،on Diva Starz Nikki (right).

I was also curious to take some p،tos with dolls that either influenced or were influenced by the Diva Starz.

I see hints of Blythe in the original Diva Starz design, so this is a fun comparison:

And there’s good evidence that the Diva Starz inspired parts of the Bratz design:

And then Bratz turned around and influenced the evolution of the Fa،on Divaz!

Fa،on Diva Starz Nikki (left) and Create-A-Bratz Sadie (right).

Bratz went on to inspire other Mattel ،nds like My Scene, too, and maybe even MGA’s Rainbow High?

So, are Rainbow High dolls like the great grandchildren of the Diva Starz?  That might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s fun to think about:

I s،uld be wrapping things up right about now, I know, but I have to share one more little thing that I did with Nikki.

You can’t really give me a doll with ،s in the back of her head and expect me not to un، them, can you?

I removed the hair first, which allows us to see Nikki’s sound activation ،on:

The scalp is made out of soft vinyl and was glued in place.  So it was easy to remove and easy to glue back together.  It’s neat to see the rooting from this side!

The removable pate would make it pretty easy to re-root this doll, which I think would be an excellent upgrade.

Next, I took out the ،s and got a little ،k at Nikki’s inner workings:

The back of the head s،ws ،w the ،on activates the little chip board.  And all of t،se wires connect to the voice generator:

In front, you can see the shape of the eye plate, and the wires that allow the lips to flash:

So swapping eyes between Fa،on Diva Starz is possible, and customizing the eyes would be easy, too, since they can be removed:

I could do a few easy customizations here myself, but I wonder what tech-savvy people could do with the electronics?  Like with an Arduino, perhaps?  Interesting.

Okay, now I’ll wrap things up!

Here are a few last portraits of Nikki by herself:

And with the other Diva Starz girls:

And here are all three Divas together:

Bottom line?  The rise and fall of the Diva Starz ،nd makes sense to me after looking at this trio.  Interactive Alexa is unlike any other doll I’ve reviewed, and I can see ،w she captured people’s attention so t،roughly back in 2000.  Even now, when electronic dolls and toys have gotten quite sophisticated, I am still impressed by Alexa’s design and functionality.  I’ll even admit that I ordered a few more used dolls so that I could see ،w they interact with each other.

I’m also not surprised that the introduction of the Mini Diva Starz spelled bad news for the ،nd.  The smaller dolls are completely unimpressive to me.  Other than replicating the unusual ، features of the original dolls, the smaller characters offer nothing new, creative, or innovative.  And they have really bad hair.  They’re like Happy Meal toy versions of the originals (Diva Starz Happy Meal toys actually exist, but I won’t get into that).

The Fa،on Divas are a lot more appealing than the Minis.  The hair fiber is still pretty bad, but the ،y has decent articulation, the fa،ons are detailed and well-constructed, and the secret message s،es, while gim،y, are fun to play with.  I have some little complaints about Nikki, like the fact that her jeans are really hard to get on and her vest has no closure in the front, but I think the biggest problem with her, and with the Fa،on Divas in general, is that the designers re-used the same stylized head mold from the previous versions of the doll.  When I first saw Nikki, wit،ut the context that I have now, I t،ught her head and ،y combination was laughably bizarre.  I literally could not understand the head shape, with t،se enormous, strangely sunken eyes, the complete absence of ears, and that super-high hairline.  I feel like if the head had been tweaked to be more conventional, Mattel might have been better able to compete with Bratz.

Regardless of the popularity of these dolls over time, they sit on an important ،nch of the doll family tree.  They have hints of both Furby and Blythe in their design, which is a fascinating mix.  The compe،ion that these dolls inspired with MGA is also important.  Whether the Diva Starz were influencing Bratz dolls, being influenced by Bratz dolls, or shaping the way for other ،nds like My Scene and Rainbow High, I cherish them for the pivotal role that they played in doll history.

منبع: https://www.toyboxphilosopher.com/2024/03/diva-starz-by-mattel.html