A sleek black tube holds a porcelain-white-appearing Makie deep inside!
If you’re like me, you’re always astonished when you watch movies that depict family life from 100 or 200 years ago. It seems that every father could whittle a complete dining-room set from a single tree; all mothers could sew outfits that carried their children from baptisms to wedding days; and every child could minuet, play the piano, sing at least one aria, and translate original Latin texts into pristine English. Yep, those were the days!
Now, as we’ve all grown reliant on TV, the Internet, YouTube, and SmartPhone apps, we’re less able to fend for ourselves . . . even in something as basic as entertainment. So, now that my family and I are buried under the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, we’ve had to make our own fun. What is there to do?
I must admit, the kids were a bit disheartened to learn that trick-or-treating was removed from their list of things to do: with a forest of trees and downed power lines circling our block, they couldn’t safely venture out. So, instead, they dressed up in their costumes and had their own housebound Halloween parade. After marching around and getting pieces of candy handed out by me a dozen or more times, the novelty wore off. So, lucky for us, we had lots of other, sort-of seasonal things to attempt.
We played at being our own versions of Dr. Frankenstein, Igor, and any mad scientist that you can name. Our experiments were two very interesting, but very different, build-your-own-dolls kits.
The first, which kept my kids focused for about an hour and a half each (which is like a week in children’s time), was Monster High’s Create-a-Monster play pack. My son had the “Vampire and Sea Monster” set; my daughter had the “Werewolf and Dragon.” With a snap-together version of a BJD, the kids were able to assemble and swap body parts, heads, clothing, wigs, and accessories to make their own versions of ghoulish glamour. Interestingly, each character that my son—who has just turned 10 years old, during the storm—concocted ended up being a zombie. He’d construct the doll in a fully limbed way, and then at the last moment he’d sever an arm or a leg. “It’s a mutant zombie,” he’d declare seriously. (What can I tell you—he’s a boy after my own heart! A zombie-ripping-it-out-gleefully heart!)
The other doll that we were able to dress and accessorize and create a scenario for was “Penelope Bleu.” Who is Ms. Bleu? Well, she’s an original creation of mine that sprang to “life” via the Makie.Me website. (You can learn all about the innovative firm at www.makie.me or by e-mailing
) Billed as “The Action Doll You Design,” my blue-haired, eyeglass-wearing, thin-lipped avatar looks like commentator S. E. Cupp if she went swimming in an overchlorinated pool! She’s not so much an action figure as a reaction figure: she came into her own during the cold, freezing, power-destroying days of the hurricane. Clad in her scientist outfit (lab coat, leggings, and plaid shirt), she was the principal player in our make-believe monster lab.
But even a savvy scientist has to leave her work behind at some point, and for a night on the town with her army of undead pals, she is snazzily dressed in a retro frock and a very warm red topcoat.
The interesting thing about Penelope is that she really was designed by me. Visiting MakieLab online, I was one of the early Alpha testers who picked the scale of the eyes and their color, the width of the nose, the turn of the mouth, the hue of the hair (and length), as well as clothing options. Then the blueprints were followed by the folks at Makie to make my 3-D printed, assembled, and packed mannequin. Made in and shipped from London, Penelope Bleu takes her name from an upper-crust society girl (Penelope) and a French continental twist on blueprints (Bleu). She’s a European genius who winged her way to the States to help cure boredom and doldrums brought on by inclement weather.
The Makie model arrived at my home in a great-looking black tube that reminded me of a storage bin for something historic or quite significant. Inside was its certificate of authenticity and a printed plan that shows the contours and internal workings of the finished design. Titled “The Very First Crash Course in Makies: Maintenance, Care and Love,” the document explains how a Makie owner can put makeup on the doll (though it doesn’t wash off entirely) or can personalize with acrylic paints. (That’s something I have to decide. For the time being, the ultra porcelain white skin gives Penelope an otherworldly look and mystique.) Made of plastic, the doll is sturdy, but the company’s owners suggest that young hands be supervised by adults when engaging in play.
We created all types of bizarre scenarios for Penelope and her pair of Monster High lab experiments. Perhaps her two companions are the epitome of her life’s work, or maybe they were built to keep her safe as she walks amid London’s fog. (Hey, would any mugger dare approach a young woman braced by a werewolf/dragon and a zombie vampire? I think not.) Or, perhaps, Penelope Bleu and her duo of undead pets were made to combat boredom, loneliness, and isolation? Being a pale-skinned, blue-haired scientific genius can make a girl feel all alone. And, believe me, trapped without electricity, heat, or phone service (landlines and cell), my kids and I can empathize greatly. Thanks, Mattel and Makie.Me, for giving us some things to keep us busy, occupied, and, most of all, a method for personalizing a very unique Halloween experience.