History Of The Star Sisters - Part 2

Welcome to History of The Star Sisters - Part 2. (To read Part 1, Click HERE)

During the preliminary stage of design on The Star Sisters (Starla, Jewelstar and Tallstar), the design team at Mattel brainstormed several ideas for potential features to be packed out with or included on the figures. This installment will focus on some of the fascinating ideas that were ultimately abandoned, mainly due to the cost involved in incorporating them. Fans will also be treated to Jon's extremely detailed explanation regarding one of the "hiccups" the team experienced with Jewelstar, when going from illustrations and model prototype to produced sample. On occasion, I will interject with some of my own thoughts to give my personal feelings on the subject matter or to inform the readers. As in Part 1, Jon's statements will be in bold text.

"Of course, when a toy designer begins work in the prelim stage of design, there is no lack of spectacular ideas, bells and whistles. Everything AND the kitchen sink is tapped for inspiration. We were going to have Starla stand on a small three inch diameter rotating base that would spin when slid across the floor or a hard surface, i.e. a table top, thus she'd spin into action."

(Note to the readers: A pink combination spinning stand and backpack was included with Spinnerella, a rare, highly sought after figure, who made a limited appearance during the release of the 3rd wave of figures. However I am unsure if the design of this stand would have been identical to the one dreamed-up for Starla. What I do know, is that Starla appears alongside Spinnerella inside of the unproduced Bubble Carriage vehicle shown in one of the Mattel toy catalogs.)

"Crystal Star was going to have a sparkle feature where a thumb wheel in her back would activate a friction wheel that would ignite sparks housed within her clear glitter impregnated plastic torso. However, there is the pragmatic phase of honing this all down to the most suitable and doable ideas that are cost effective. Eventually due to the targeted price points, manufacturing costs, budget constraints, affordability and the ultimate goal of meeting the typical product margin, all these wonderful ideas end up cast to the wayside via "Toy Heaven."

The Star Sisters were "feature driven" dolls, where each required what is called a "demonstrative feature." Starla had the star glitter pack with the thumb actuator to agitate the encapsulated clear glycerin fluid with suspended glitter. This was a natural feature for her that translated very well and was cost effective. Crystal Star was designed to fold down into crystal formation. The in-house prototype model worked far better than what eventually emerged in the ultimately produced sample. Something was lost in translation regarding the hinge mechanics developed by the outside vendor, despite sufficient diagrams, illustrations and a model prototype. Subsequently, we decided this flaw was something we were going to later correct during development of the first phase prototypes from Hong Kong production. However, the very appealing glitter impregnated clear pink-peach color of the molded parts was quite beautiful in this mechanically flawed prototype. So for this reason, due to its better aesthetics, it was used for the catalogue photo shoot (Note to the readers: The prototypes shown in the Italian catalog differ from those in the American catalog), whereas the in-house version, though it functioned much better, was less attractive because it was molded in a more opaque and milky resin, not clear enough, which was painted with glitter, externally. Tall Star's feature was decided right off the bat in her "Expandra" incarnation where accordion plastic tubes bridged between the joints of her limbs, waist and neck and was immediately a favorite amongst all concerned. So her subsequent development became one more of aesthetical material decisions, i.e. vacuum metalized plastic versus translucent glitter impregnated plastic, iridescent colored hair versus metallic Mylar accented colored hair, face paint and the "color breaks" to her whole body's aesthetical composition, and so on.

The marketing group mutually and periodically reviewed the design development of the product as we progressed, which is standard practice to keep everyone in the loop and aware of design direction, and of course they submitted their input and suggestions to further enhance the dolls, "play pattern" and the line. Often much out of the control of a toy design group things will change in the "post-takeover phase" where marketing has more persuasion, i.e. Tall Star's name change."

Speaking of the marketing group, one of the most thrilling pieces of history to emerge from the discussions between Jon and I was that, at one point, marketing advocated the addition of a separate collectible item to be packed out with each doll, with the intention of fostering and promoting collectibility. I was instantly intrigued, awe-struck, and (enter about a dozen more related adjectives) because these collectible items would have further expounded on The Star Sisters' powers and delved into the dimension of the esoteric. I felt this harkened back to the darker tone set in the Masters of the Universe toy line in the early pre-Filmation days when everything was a bit more vague and therefore mysterious. (i.e. the Spirit of Castle Grayskull or apparitions appearing to dissuade Skeletor from entering the castle, a corridor etc. or the idea that Castle was built by unknown hands.) Jon explains the idea behind these unusual collectibles:

"...each doll would come with a crystal from the stars, a Star Crystal, that possessed an intangible and innate "Power of Starlight" that, via a Wicca-type incantation recited by the child, could be summoned and evoked forth from the etherial realm of the celestials and brought down to Eternia, manifesting through The Star Sisters a "supernatural presence."

In the end, cost reductions prohibited the addition of this feature.

Final Prototypes Of The Star Sisters From The 1987 Mattel Catalog
Final Prototypes Of The Star Sisters From The 1987 Mattel Catalog

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