|Inventor Carter Bryant|
Country United States
|Company MGA Entertainment|
|Type Fashion doll, TV series, VHS, albums, video games, web series|
Slogan The (only) girls with a passion for fashion (2001–2013) Unleash your passion (2013–2015) It's good to be a Bratz (2015-present)
Bratz are an American product line of fashion dolls and merchandise manufactured by MGA Entertainment. Four original 10-inch dolls were released in 2001 —– Yasmin, Cloe, Jade, and Sasha, and in 2015, a fifth girl, Raya, was added as the fifth official Bratz. They featured 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 web series, 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.
- Products and history
- Legal actions
- Bratz Design Academy
- Bratz Rock
- Bratz Makin The Band
- Bratz web series
- Interactive DVDs
- Video games
Bratz dolls have provoked controversy in several areas. From the dolls' stylized proportions to fashion-forward clothing, the brand has always followed pop culture trends closely. 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. In 2013, Bratz changed to have a taller body and an all-new logo and branding. MGA Entertainment made the decision to completely overhaul the Bratz brand throughout 2014, in an effort to return the brand to its roots. As a result, none of the Bratz 2014 product line was offered to North American retailers.
In July 2015, Bratz made a comeback and a set of new dolls were released, introducing a new main character called Raya to the lineup of Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, and Sasha as well as a new slogan and website design. The bodies were changed to be 10" tall again, but with a new body and head mold. A stop motion web series premiered in August 2015. The Bratz app was released in September 2015 to accompany the new dolls and web series.
Due to poor sales of the new Bratz dolls, only two lines were produced for Fall 2016, and MGA replied to emails asking about the status of the brand saying that they are on hiatus. MGA Entertainment President and CEO Isaac Larian took to Twitter and announced on January 16, 2017 that Bratz would be relaunched for a third run, with many changes based on fan feedback. Based on feedback from many former fans, they preferred the former dolls over the new ones. They believe that MGA really tried to appeal to the wrong demographic and took away "what made the Bratz special". If plans for a third Bratz brand relaunch are successful, the company is aiming to have new Bratz dolls and products available for Fall 2018.
Products and history
Though Bratz dolls fared poorly at their May 21, 2001 debut—mostly due to the long-held monopoly by Barbie — their popularity increased the following Christmas. In their first five years, 125 million products 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 five 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 Walmart stores.
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, a new slogan, 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. 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.
The Bratz returned in July 2015 with the introduction of Raya, a new character (despite sharing the same name with a previous character), to accompany the original main four. The Bratz logo was also reverted to the original and a new slogan was adopted.
The parental group Dads and Daughters were outraged by the release of the Bratz Secret Date collection. The dolls were packaged with a Bratz girl in the right half of the box (Cloe, Yasmin, Jade, Sasha, Meygan, or Nevra) and matched with a mystery Boyz doll behind the door on the left. A window showing the doll's feet would provide a clue to which Boyz doll it was, especially important in the quest for the rare Bryce doll, available in only 1 of every 24 boxes. The group complained that the dolls sent a negative message, said they were forcing young girls to grow up too soon, and allegedly promoting the idea of sneaking out of the house to go on blind dates with complete strangers. They also took issue with accessories that appeared to be champagne bottles and glasses, and called for MGA to remove the dolls from the market. MGA held fast, and the Secret Date collection (later renamed Blind Date) continued to sell.
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 Walmart 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."
In 2007, Concerns over the body image and lifestyle the Bratz dolls allegedly promote were raised by the American Psychological Association after they established their "Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls". In their published report, they cited concern over the adult-like sexuality the Bratz dolls allegedly portray. The report has been criticized for an apparent lack of supporting evidence and data.
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. In the United Kingdom, a spokesman for Bratz defended the toy line by saying that Bratz are purchased by over-eights and are aimed at the preteen and teen market. They are for 10- to 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. Brian 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.
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. Subsequently, 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. In 2011, MGA prevailed over Belair. Judge Shira Scheindlin, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said in a summary judgment issued Wednesday that, "Belair cannot monopolize the abstract concept of an absurdly large-headed, long limbed, attractive, fashionable woman."
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 July 2012, MGA Entertainment sued Lady Gaga for $10 million for causing, according to the BBC, "'deliberate' delays to the release of a doll based on her image."
The Ninth Circuit vacated without prejudice the $170 million judgment from 2008 against Mattel on procedural grounds in January 2013. On January 13, 2014, MGA filed a complaint in California state court, seeking in excess of $1 billion. This lawsuit is currently pending.
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 fans and critics alike; 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 Kabillion, 4Kids TV, and on Channel 5. It became an instant hit, with higher ratings going to CITV's broadcast.
Bratz Design Academy
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.
Bratz Makin' The Band
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.
Bratz (web series)
In August 2015, a new stop-motion web series premiered on YouTube. MGAE confirmed there would be 10 episodes for the first season. The first season was compiled into a 25-minute video titled Bratz: Friends Forever on Netflix. The web series was seen on TV on Kabillion.