One of the benefits of sometimes being forgetful is that you get to be surprised more often. Somehow, I managed to completely forget about Rainbow Brite's "relaunch" (check out RainbowBrite.net for more information), so I got a big fat surprise when I turned a corner at Target and saw this:

Playmates' new 15" Rainbow Brite doll

The new dolls are made by Playmates. They had this 15" version of Rainbow Brite, plus the 10" versions of Rainbow Brite and Moonglow. Unfortunately, they didn't have Tickled Pink. (She has pigtails and her hair is pink. Can you guess why I like her? )

The 15" Rainbow Brite bears an uncanny resemblance to Playmate's previous long-running line of "little girl" Disney Princess dolls....

Playmates' 15" Before Once Upon a Time Alice in Wonderland doll

The prototype in this image looks even more like one of them. I don't know if Rainbow Brite borrows any parts from the Disney dolls, but they have an undeniably similar look. (Even the eye paint designs are almost exactly the same!)

(BTW, I should mention that Playmates recently stopped producing Disney Princess dolls. Mattel is now producing their own, very similar 16" Disney Princess "toddlers".)

RainbowBrite.net has a great picture comparing the new Rainbow Brite doll with the old one. The new one is cute, but I'd take the old one any day of the week. I think it's a shame she isn't a rag doll like the original - that's one of the things that made her so cute. (The new doll's outfit doesn't have any of that iridescent material that made the original dolls so cool, either.... )

Now, the 15" doll isn't the main attraction of the new Rainbow Brite line - the focus is on this set of 10" fashion dolls:

10" Tickled Pink, Rainbow Brite, and Moonglow

A 10-inch all-plastic Barbie-style fashion doll doesn't really scream "Rainbow Brite" to me, but it could be worse - witness the doomed 1997 "relaunch" . At least the new doll looks like something you might actually confuse for Rainbow Brite.

And, although I hate that the characters have been made "older" (when will this "tween" thing stop?? ), I love the fact that it's actually part of the storyline.

Like many fondly-remembered toys from the 1980's (including G.I. Joe, Jem, He-Man, and so on and so on and so on), a huge part of the reason people love Rainbow Brite so much is her intricate backstory, which was fleshed out in a series of animated television episodes (and a theatrical movie - which I did see in the theater, thank you very much ). Instead of contradicting or "reimagining" it, the new storyline is a direct continuation of the original. This is a great idea - it gives a legitimate explanation for the girls being older than they were before, and helps blunt the wrath of legions of pre-existing Rainbow Brite fans (like me ) who would have been livid with anger if the original storyline had been ignored (or... shudder... "re-imagined"... ).

Which isn't to say I'm thrilled with all of the changes. A series of animated videos on the official Rainbow Brite website explain that at some point, Rainbow Brite left Rainbow Land, returned to Earth to be with her family, and somehow "forgot" that she was Rainbow Brite. . (Apparently the Rainbow Brite Halloween costume she wore in her everyday life didn't jog her memory. ) I really cant imagine Rainbow Brite purposely leaving Rainbow Land, and I don't like the idea that she's a human from Earth - the original story never explained where she came from (she just "appeared" one day), but it seemed pretty obvious to me she wasn't from Earth. The "mysterious origin" was one of my favorite parts of the story...

Also - although you know I loves me some Sailor Moon, I really don't think it's necessary for Rainbow Brite to have a transformation sequence. I admit that I, like a lot of fanboys and fangirls, imagined Rainbow Brite made over as a Sailor Moon-style magical girl, but I kind of like her better the way she was.

Despite those things, I appreciate that the new version respects the original. I was fully prepared to hate the new dolls, but just seeing the name "Wisp" mentioned on the back of the box instantly deflated my internal balloon of bitterness. ("Wisp" was her name before she became Rainbow Brite.)

I also actually like that they fiddled with the other characters a bit, associating Tickled Pink with the sun the way Moonglow is associated with the moon and giving her a purpose (Tickled Pink was originally kind of random ), and changing Moonglow's colors - her old colors were pretty but never seemed that "moon-y" to me.

And I like that each character has a symbol - a star for Rainbow Brite, moon for Moonglow, and a sun for Tickled Pink - and that they're incorporated into their eye designs.

Furthermore, Tickled Pink and Moonglow now have their own horses just like Rainbow Brite...

The horses - Sunriser, Starlite, and Shimmer

...which creates an opportunity for another nod to the original story longtime fans will love - Sunriser actually appeared in the original cartoon, looking pretty much exactly like she does here! (In fact, the box of one of the toys even stated that Sunriser was Tickled Pink's horse, although that was never mentioned in the show.)

I would love to see a new TV series or movie that expanded on the new storyline. We at least have to find out who the mysterious evil woman in the videos on the website is... (Could it possibly be... the Princess?? [fanboy shudder])

Random trivia: Rainbow Brite's sprite, Twink, has been re-named "Twinkle". If you're guessing the same reason for this change that I am, all I can say is shame on us both.

I hope the other Color Kids will make an appearance at some point. Especially Patty O'Green, who's my favorite. (She has pigtails and her hair is green. Can you guess why I like her?)

(Although, I'm guessing she probably wouldn't have the adorable trademark bandages on her knees....)

(Shame on both of us again. I didn't mean it like that. )

Filed Under: General Dollstuff
Topics: Rainbow Brite
Doll Diary 07 February 2010