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|Type||Fashion doll, TV series, DVD, albums, video games, web series|
|This article possibly contains original research. (August 2014)|
|This article contains weasel words: vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. (August 2014)|
|Type||Fashion doll, TV series, DVD, albums, video games, web series|
Bratz is an American line of fashion dolls and merchandise manufactured by MGA Entertainment. Four original 10" dolls were released in 2001 – Cloe, Jade, Sasha, and Yasmin. They are portrayed as teenagers distinguished by large heads and skinny bodies, almond-shaped eyes adorned with eyeshadow, and lush, glossy lips.
Bratz reached great success and the original line of dolls was expanded with a number of spin-offs like Bratz Kidz and Bratz Babyz, as well as media featuring the Bratz characters, including a movie, TV series, music albums and video games. In 2005, global sales were two billion dollars and by 2006 Bratz had about forty percent of the fashion-doll market.
Bratz have provoked controversy in several areas. Criticism has been leveled at the labor conditions under which the dolls are manufactured in China, and the American Psychological Association has expressed concern about the sexualization of the dolls' clothing and its effect on children. For years, MGA Entertainment was involved in a lengthy legal dispute with Mattel over the rights to the Bratz design. In 2011, the dispute ended with MGA as the victors. Related litigation is ongoing in a lawsuit by MGA alleging Mattel's theft of trade secrets.
In early 2010, Bratz took a brief hiatus after Mattel's first lawsuit and returned later that year to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the franchise. Unfortunately, the celebration was not as successful as MGA Entertainment had hoped it would be, as many retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart shunned the brand and focused their efforts on other fashion doll lines that were growing in popularity at the time (including MGA Entertainment's own Lalaloopsy dolls). Bratz continued to struggle in the midst of a changing fashion doll market, as sales plummeted to record lows and retailers canceled orders for newer and future Bratz lines (or in some instances, declared they would no longer carry Bratz).
MGA Entertainment acknowledged that Bratz had lost its magic with poor quality dolls, dysfunctional management, and a very dissatisfied fanbase. In late summer 2013, the company realized that something needed to be done: It made the decision to completely overhaul the Bratz brand and entire Bratz franchise throughout 2014, in an effort to rebuild Bratz to what it was before and what it once used to be.
Though Bratz dolls fared poorly at their May 2001 debut, their popularity increased the following Christmas. In their first five years, 125 million were sold worldwide, and, in 2005, global sales of Bratz and Bratz products reached two billion dollars. In 2006, a toy-industry analyst indicated Bratz had captured about forty percent of the fashion-doll market, compared with Barbie's sixty percent.
The original line of dolls has generated a number of spin-offs such as Lil' Bratz, Bratz Boyz, Bratz Kidz, Bratz Babyz, Itsy Bitsy Bratz, Bratz Lil' Angelz, Be-Bratz and Bratz Petz as well as films, music albums, video games, and interactive DVDs.
The success of the original four dolls generated a quartet of similar dolls in 2002 and 2003. Sets of twins were also introduced. The dolls were sold separately and in themed environments. Accessories such as playsets, furniture, and cars are also released.
Four Bratz Boyz were released in 2002 with others debuting in 2003, 2007 and 2008. Bratz also includes Bratz Boyz & Twiinz.
Lil' Bratz (2002) are miniature versions of the original four Bratz and eventually included Lil' Boyz based on the Bratz Boyz. In 2007, a clothing line was released called Lil' Bratz Couture.
Bratz Babyz debuted in 2004 with infant accessories such as bottles and blankets. Characters from the regular Bratz line have been released as Babyz. Bratz Lil' Angelz (2007) are the newborn, collectible version of Bratz Babyz. Smaller than regular Bratz Babyz, they include their own newborn pets.
Bratz Petz debuted in 2004 and were discontinued in 2006. They were plush toys resembling foxes, cats, and dogs with their own bags, clothes, and accessories. Bratz Petz have been re-released in Australia and the UK with bobble heads and accessories.
Bratz Kidz, the "kid" equivalent of the teenaged Bratz dolls, were introduced in 2006. The dolls were 6" tall and thus, shorter than the regular Bratz. Bratz Boyz Kidz were introduced in 2007 starring four of the Bratz Boyz. Soon after the release of the Bratz Boyz Kidz, the clothing was changed from fabric to plastic snap-ons.
Be-Bratz dolls (2007) were designed for owner customization. With a Be-Bratz USB Key, the doll owner can take a Be-Bratz doll online, name it, and create an online social homepage. Games can be played with the Be-Bratz account to acquire accessories for the doll.
In August 2010, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the franchise, MGA released their first Bratz dolls in what was then, one year. In addition to two "comeback" collections, MGA also released 10 new female Bratz characters on 10 October 2010. Bratz Party and Talking Bratz were in Target, Toys R Us, and Wal-Mart stores.[dubious ]
In Fall 2012, the Bratzillaz were released as a spin-off line, depicting the 'witchy cousins' of the Bratz.
In 2013, Bratz got a new logo, and the dolls all get new bodies with articulated arms, with a height to match their competitor Barbie while keeping their unique faces, and sporting brand new fashions. Only Cloe, Yasmin, Jade, Sasha, Meygan, Fianna, Shira Roxxi, and Phoebe have been made in the new bodies.
In January 2014, it was revealed that the Bratz would go on another hiatus (but only for the United States) for an entire year, in an attempt to rebuild the brand so Bratz would come back on top in 2015. This decision was made due to the brand's decreased popularity after their previous hiatus in 2010, which resulted from the lawsuit against Mattel. MGA Entertainment felt that it rushed the Bratz comeback in Fall 2010 to celebrate the brand's 10th Anniversary, and the company wanted to give Bratz the comeback it truly deserved. And it was a decision that MGA Entertainment realized was long overdue. All Bratz dolls that had been produced for 2014 were not released in the United States and sold internationally, as MGA Entertainment outlined its plans for the Bratz big return to the United States in 2015.
On December 21, 2006, the National Labor Committee announced that the factory workers in China, who make Bratz dolls, labored for 94½ hours a week, while the factory paid only $0.515 an hour. The cost of labor per doll was $0.17. The retail price for a single doll ranges between $9.99 to $22.99, depending on the included items and specific retailer.
The allegations in the report describe practices found at many Chinese factories producing name-brand products for export. They include required overtime exceeding the legal maximum of 36 hours a month, forcing workers to stay on the job to meet stringent production quotas and the denial of paid sick leave and other benefits. The report shows copies of what it says are "cheat sheets" distributed to workers before auditors from Wal-Mart or other customers arrive to make sure the factory passes inspections intended to ensure the supplier meets labor standards. It said workers at the factory intended to go on strike in January 2007 to protest plans by factory managers to put all employees on temporary contracts, denying them legal protection required for long-term employees.
After the announcement, the CEO of MGA Entertainment, Isaac Larian sent a statement on December 24, 2006, via e-mail to a fan site of the doll line, Bratz World, and another two days later to Playthings Magazine stating that the information is false and the company is not familiar with the company named in the report and MGA uses first rate factories in "the orient" to make its goods, like Mattel and Hasbro do. Larian said that he never heard about the news or of "the organization who is behind this negative and false campaign immediately prior to the last holiday shopping weekend."
New concerns over the body image and lifestyle the Bratz dolls allegedly promote were raised by the American Psychological Association when they established their "Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls" in February 2007. In their published report, they cited concern over the adult-like sexuality the Bratz dolls allegedly portray.
Bratz dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas. Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality.
— APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls
Bratz were not the only dolls to be criticized in this report, which highlighted not only toys but also other products and the wider media; including the Bratz animated series. In the United Kingdom, a spokesman for Bratz defended the toy line by saying that Bratz are purchased by over-eights and are directed to the preteen and teen market. They are for 10–18 year old girls, and that the focus on the dolls while on looks was not on sexualization and that friendship was also a key focus of Bratz dolls.
The Bratz brand, which has remained number one in the UK market for 23 consecutive months focuses core values on friendship, hair play and a 'passion for fashion'.
The spokesman quoted Dr. Bryan Young of Exeter University as saying "parents may feel awkward but I don't think children see the dolls as sexy. They just think they're pretty". Isaac Larian, in comments given to the BBC, voiced the opinion that the report was a "bunch of garbage" and that the people who wrote it were acting irresponsibly.
The Bratz range of dolls have affected the sale of Mattel's leading fashion doll, Barbie. In 2004, sales figures showed that Bratz dolls outsold Barbie dolls in the United Kingdom, although Mattel maintained that in terms of the number of dolls, clothes and accessories sold, Barbie remained the leading brand. In 2005, figures showed that sales of Barbie dolls had fallen by 30% in the United States, and by 18% worldwide, with much of the drop being attributed to the popularity of Bratz dolls.
In April 2005, MGA Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Mattel, claiming that the "My Scene" line of Barbie dolls had copied the doe-eyed look of Bratz dolls. The lawsuit is currently pending in the court system of California.
Mattel sued MGA Entertainment for $500 million, alleging that Bratz creator Carter Bryant was working for Mattel when he developed the idea for Bratz. On July 17, 2008, a federal jury ruled that Bryant had created the Bratz while he was working for Mattel, despite MGA's claim that Bryant had not been employed by Mattel at the time and Bryant's assertion that he had designed the Bratz between two separate periods of employment at Mattel. The jury also ruled that MGA and its Chief Executive Officer Isaac Larian were liable for converting Mattel property for their own use and intentionally interfering with the contractual duties owed by Bryant to Mattel. On August 26, the jury decided that Mattel was to be paid just US $100 million in damages, citing that only the first generation of Bratz had infringed on Mattel property and that MGA had innovated and evolved the product significantly enough that subsequent generations of Bratz could not be conclusively found to be infringing.
On December 3, 2008, U.S. District Judge Stephen G. Larson granted a permanent injunction requested by Mattel against MGA. The injunction was to have been enforced on February 11, 2009, at the earliest, the same date that Mattel and MGA would once again be in court to present their cases for appeal, and mandated that MGA must remove, at its own cost, all Bratz product from store shelves, reimburse retailers for the product, turn over the recalled product to Mattel for disposal, and destroy all marketing materials and molds and materials used in the production of the dolls. Judge Larson made exceptions for a very limited number of products, under the condition that they be packaged separately from the allegedly infringing toys. MGA immediately filed an appeal, seeking appeal of the 2008 judgement, claiming numerous errors on Larson's part during the initial trial. MGA also sought a permanent stay of injunction and were granted a stay in the enforcement of the injunction through at least the end of the 2009 holiday season.
On December 10, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted MGA an immediate stay of the injunction, thereby halting the impending recall of all Bratz products, ensuring that retailers would be allowed to continue to sell MGA-produced Bratz product through at least the Court's final ruling on the matter. In their initial statement, the Court suggested Larson's previous ruling was "draconian" and had gone too far in awarding ownership of the entire Bratz franchise to Mattel. The Court of Appeals also ordered MGA and Mattel to resolve their dispute out of court. In a statement from MGA, Isaac Larian states that “the Court’s stay is good news for all Bratz fans and for anyone who cares about fair competition.”
On July 22, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared that ownership of the Bratz franchise belonged to MGA Entertainment. The Court Of Appeals rejected the District Court's original ruling for Mattel, where MGA Entertainment was ordered to forfeit the entire Bratz brand – including all registered copyrights and trademarks of the Bratz name – to Mattel. The panel from the Court of Appeals said Judge Larson had abused his discretion with his ruling for Mattel, concluding that Bryant's employment agreement could have, but did not necessarily, cover ideas as it did designs, processes, computer programs and formulae, which are all more concrete.
In addition to the litigation for ownership and control of the Bratz property, on October 20, 2009, artist Bernard "Butch" Belair filed a new design infringement lawsuit against both Mattel and MGA in Manhattan federal court, seeking unspecified damages. Belair claimed that his copyright designs of young women with "large heads, oval eyes, small bodies and large feet," which he had created for shoe designer house Steve Madden, were "pilfered" when Carter Bryant, during his 2008 court testimony, testified that he had been inspired by Steve Madden shoe ads which he saw in Seventeen magazine. Belair says neither MGA nor Mattel "sought or obtained permission... to copy, reproduce, create derivative works from or distribute" his "copyrighted" work. To date, neither Mattel nor MGA have responded to Belair's claims.
Mattel Inc. and MGA Entertainment Inc. returned to court on January 18, 2011 to renew their battle over who owns Bratz, which this time includes accusations from both companies that the other side stole trade secrets. On April 21, 2011 a federal jury returned a verdict supporting MGA. On August 5, 2011 Mattel was also ordered to pay MGA $310 million for attorney fees, stealing trade secrets, and false claims rather than the $88.5 million issued in April.
In August 2012, MGA and Mattel's dispute had ended with MGA walking away the victors. Mattel was ordered to pay $310 million to MGA for damages. Isaac Larian said that the Bratz brand was damaged by an estimated $1 billion, due to Mattel's lawsuit and that MGA intends to recoup the losses in a separate and pending lawsuit against Mattel.
There have been a number of animated Bratz direct-to-video movies. Bratz Go to Paris: The Movie is a re-release of the three Bratz episodes where the Bratz go to Paris. Bratz Babyz Save Christmas, originally released in 2008, was re-released in 2013 as Bratz Babyz Save Christmas: The Movie. Bratz: The Movie from 2007 is the only live-action Bratz feature film. It was co-produced by MGA Entertainment. The plot involves the four Bratz girls starting high school. It received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics; the Rotten Tomatoes consensus reads: "Full of mixed messages and dubious role-models, Bratz is too shallow even for its intended audience."
Bratz had a computer-animated television series titled Bratz, based on the line of dolls. It was produced by Mike Young Productions and MGA Entertainment, and premiered on the FOX, 4Kids TV and on Channel 5, it became an instant hit, with higher ratings going to CITV's broadcast.
Beginning in October 2008 Nickelodeon aired a Bratz-themed reality show, Bratz Design Academy in which 9 to 14 year olds compete in Project Runway-type fashion challenges, with the winner designing clothing for a British line of Bratz dolls. The show was nominated for a British Academy Children's Awards
MGA premiered a web series on October 10, 2010 called "Bratz Rock" on YouTube. It revolves around the Bratz as they enter a music competition held by fictional music star "Whisper", and as they get closer to finishing their song for the contest, they also uncover Whisper's true identity. The show's premiere episode was met with mixed reactions from Bratz fans. As of October 14, 2010, the series was announced as postponed, while undergoing changes.
On January 24, 2011, Morgan Mendieta, a man hired by MGA Entertainment to create a teaser for an upcoming Bratz reality series, leaked a rough cut of the teaser on his blog. The show, titled Bratz Makin' The Band, is an online talent competition reality show, in which Bratz fans will form bands and compete via the Bratz' YouTube channel. The final five bands will be flown to Hollywood, California, where they will be followed and interviewed by reporters. The winners will receive various prizes, including electric guitars. The leaked teaser also confirmed the release of a Bratz DVD due out in Fall 2011, also titled "Bratz Makin' The Band".