Monthly Archives: June 2013

Mystery Doll Review and Possible Promo Deal!

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Hi there, everyone!  A few weeks ago, I found a super cute Witty/Giochi Winx doll for a really good price ($41 plus international shipping) on eBay, so I thought I’d review it here.  I just got it yesterday, and it’s the first European Winx doll I’ve ever bought.  So, here it is:

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As you can see, this is a Fruity Aisha doll from Season 4.  Unlike the Jakks boxes, which are largely made out of plastic, about half of this one is cardboard, and the other half is plastic.  It makes me think about the types of boxes Barbies used to come in.  And with the European dolls, they are much easier to get out of the pesky packaging.  A lot of the doll is kept in the box through simple rubber bands rather than twist ties, which I love.  It seems a whole lot better for the environment than the boxes they use now.  Plus, the box is pretty attractive on its own.

Here’s the design for the side, which has a nice fruit pattern:

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And here is the back:

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The other Fruity dolls look pretty good, too.  I really like the Tecna and Musa ones.  Musa has straight pigtails in this outfit on the show, but I like her braids on the doll.  Maybe I’ll get one…or perhaps I’ll find another really good deal for a different line.

Anyway, let’s start with the actual doll reviewing, rather than just looking at the pretty box:

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Normally, shoes don’t really thrill me on dolls like this.  However, I think these ones are really cute, and I like how they aren’t heels.  It seems like an awful lot of Winx dolls in America have heels, and I like that Witty just gave her simple sandals.  I like the color and the design a lot.  Make sure not to take the rubber bands off, though, as these shoes are backless and will otherwise come off easily.  Now let’s go to the torso:

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Maybe I’m biased (since I already liked Aisha’s Fruity outfit), but I really love these clothes!  The watermelon top is a cute design, and I like the lace details at the bottom.  They really put some detail into this top.  The rubber band-like objects are there because otherwise the sleeveless tube top would not stay on, which is something that would look really tacky on people, but still looks good on the doll.  The shorts aren’t as intricate, but they don’t really need to be.  Remember, we’re talking about Aisha here.  Plus, they look like simple beach/summer shorts, which were probably what the designers were going for.

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Is it just me, or is it absolutely awesome how the eyes actually look like the eyes on the show?  I’m not sure about the double-layer eyeshadow thing (not something I’d try myself), but the eyes are still pretty accurate.  Her hair is soft (unlike the Jakks dolls, which have the texture you get when you use too much hair spray) and is very easy to brush.  I mean, this stuff is the type of silky smooth hair that people want to touch repeatedly.  Right out of a shampoo commercial compared to Jakks.  But Jakks has its own strengths:

ogblog7This is a side-by-side comparison with a Jakks Aisha Believix doll.  I kinda like how the Witty one is shorter, as it shows a different, more petite body type.  However, the thing about the Witty doll that I don’t like as much (in fact, it’s probably its main weakness) is that the hair and skin aren’t quite as dark.  Jakks’ color scheme is pretty good, even though the hair isn’t as good a quality.  And I love Aisha’s Jakks skin tone not just because it’s slightly darker, but because it looks incredibly beautiful.  It’s like the “glowing” skin they advertise in lotion commercials.  And of course, you can’t beat Jakks’ wings.

So here’s another shot of the full doll:

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And another fun thing about this doll is that it comes with an air mattress, which is a sort of inflatable raft for the pool.  I blew it up for the review, but I don’t plan on using it because I’m not sure how the doll would handle falling in water (and washing the clothes would probably be a nightmare).  But the mattress is very cute and makes a very nice decoration for a room (which is what I did with it).  All in all, a very good idea for a companion item with the doll.

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And here’s Aisha on top of it:

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Before I do the rest of the review, the air mattress reminded me of summer drinks, which led me to this week’s Rainbow Dust fan question: what type of drink do you like during the summertime?  Here are some of my favorites:

  • the McDonald’s smoothies (all flavors recommended, and I like mine without yogurt)
  • just about any strawberry smoothie
  • fresh-squeezed or homemade lemonade (simply a classic)
  • Sonic limeades (plain)
  • Auntie Anne’s Blue Raspberry lemonade, which is made with a mix put inside regular lemonade (I really want to try the mango flavor, too)

So, I’d also like to tell you guys that the person who put this doll up for auction is actually from Italy and has a lot of Winx dolls and other memorabilia (like comics, stickers, etc) up.  You can access him as Piero on eBay or at his site (www.muscara.com).  The nice thing about him is that normally, he gives out free shipping.  But even better, if you buy from him, you could have a chance of getting a bonus promo Winx item, so if you want to buy any Witty dolls or other Winx items, this is the place to be.  I ended up getting a really cute promo poster for Season 5 with the sailor outfits, which is really cool because America doesn’t even make Winx posters!

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Sure, it only has the main four Winx.  But it’s still pretty nice, and I’ll probably put it up.  So if you want a chance to win a promotional item like this, visit the website!  If any of you guys get lucky, tell me which free item you got, since I’m kind of curious to see some of the other possible freebies.

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Okay, this song might not directly fit into the theme, but this is more of a “joke song.”  I remember seeing the play it’s in and when I looked at the title, I thought, “this is what Winx fans feel when Nick decides to put off new episodes for another week.”  And they wonder why we’re writing letters.  But regardless, here’s “Agony.”  (The chorus is especially funny for the situation.)

I was thinking for a while about which song to do for Tecna/Timmy, and for the longest time, the only one I could come up with is “Alien Heart” from Phineas and Ferb (which would actually be kinda hilarious).  But, while I wasn’t able to find a theme song for their entire relationship, there’s a good song I found for a particularly heartwarming moment in that love.  Namely, Timmy’s perseverance towards saving Tecna in S3 when she was trapped in the Omega Dimension.  So, here’s “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” by the Moody Blues.  (Like Billy Joel, I also really recommend this band in general.)  But it even has some techno touches, so it really seems to fit…

And finally, I thought I’d put a song up here about a different sort of relationship.  A lot of Musa’s character surrounds her relationship with her mother, so I thought it’d be right to put a song up about it.   It sounds like a love song, but it also seems to even evoke the environment of Melody to me.  (“Cry no more on the shore of dreams?”  Definitely Matlin, complete with the amazing voice.)  Plus, the phrase “my love” could be a pet name for a daughter, also.  But anyway…this is also the first female-sung song I’ve posted.  Here’s Rita Coolidge with “We’re All Alone.”

I’d like to say that I’m really glad you like the music segment.  It really makes me proud of you guys, so thanks a bunch!

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A Matter of Trust

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It’s been an interesting time, getting to know many of the Winx fans, browsing the blogs, and discovering fans’ opinions.  I’ve received a lot of insight about the program that I wouldn’t have gotten if I’d just watched it alone and never became a part of this community.  And a large part of it involves Bloom and Sky.

Now, if you’re expecting this post to be a rant against Bloom, you’re mistaken.  But when I was little and watched Season One, my mind glossed over a lot of the Diaspro revelation.  Just like Rainbow probably wanted to, I watched the couple and had no problem with them.  But as I got older and went on these blogs, I realized just how serious this issue was.  I saw no problem as a kid with Sky flirting with Bloom, since Diaspro was just an arranged fiancee.  I was too young to comprehend the idea of “cheating” and just assumed that Diaspro was a jerk and they were meant to be together.

If any relationship has shown its age, it’s Bloom/Sky.  Just look at Season Five, for instance.  Bloom is frantic over Diaspro becoming the king’s liaison, jumps to conclusions, and thinks that Sky no longer loves her, even though he’s just in a meeting.  We could point fingers at either one of them for straining their relationship.  But since this is a “positive” blog, I’d rather look at the psychology behind their troubles.  Relationship trust issues are complicated things that all too often are amplified by past events.

While it certainly doesn’t show in Seasons One and Two, that’s really where the root of their problems began.  When Bloom thought she was the only woman in Sky’s life, the two were your average peaceful couple, strolling in parks and chatting about their troubles.  But just look at how a few episodes can make a difference.  As soon as Sky revealed his true name, that trust was ruptured.  Sky kept trying to explain, frantic to get his girlfriend back.  Bloom was covered in tears and couldn’t feel more betrayed.  The two got back together and started their perfect-couple act.  But in actuality, that type of relationship had been ruptured forever.

Season Three is where that act begins to unfold.  Bloom’s schoolgirl crush on Professor Avalon had resulted in yet another betrayal.  And once Diaspro gave Sky the potion, she fell over the edge of depression again.  Sky begged over and over for her forgiveness, but Bloom had gone off to Pyros before he could do anything.  She put her whole heart into her battle against Valtor as a way of avoiding this major crack in her relationship.  Even though it’d been revealed that Sky’s behavior was just the effects of a potion, Bloom never seemed to fully comprehend that.  She saw with her own eyes how easily Sky could be turned over to Diaspro’s side, and was too emotionally distraught to see life without him.  Even with her friends, she’d still seen Sky as her main happiness in her life, and without him, she always just seemed to snap.

I don’t think Bloom obsesses over Diaspro out of hatred or spite.  The more I look at her character, the more I see her constant fear of breakup as a psychological, not a personality, issue.  She fears even the tiniest encounter between Sky and Diaspro, and I think a lot of that goes back to her realization that she had been lied to in the first season.  She cherishes the good times she has with Sky to the point that she will do anything to keep them together.  The wrong relationships can bring out the worst in people, and unfortunately, the desperation of a girl to continue dating someone who wronged them is far from uncommon.  Therefore, I don’t think it’s so much her fault as it was an all too common psychological problem.  (By the way, there’s an excellent fanfic out there by Akela Victoire called “Burning Gems,” in which Bloom ditches Sky and forms a girl alliance with Diaspro.  While Bloom/Sky fans might not like it much, it’s sassy, feministic, and empowering.  Plus, I really like that this Diaspro is nowhere near your stereotypical mean girl.)

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Now, if you’re wondering about the Rainbow Festival music segment, I’m one step ahead of you.  The name of the post was actually taken from a song, which I think really suits the Bloom/Sky relationship.  I really like this artist, Billy Joel, so I really recommend checking out some of his other songs!

Now, I know that there was already a song that was kind of similar to this sort of thing, I heard this song for the first time in a long time, and the lyrics really resonated with me.  It seemed, to me, like the type of thing Nabu would’ve been thinking as he died/went into a coma.  It’s the sort of song that mourns those relationships that were discovered too late, where fate makes a couple with chemistry only have a fleeting relationship.  In a sadly ironic twist, the singer who wrote this, Jim Croce, died not too long after it was released. So, since I gave Aisha two songs, and don’t have any yet for Nabu, here’s “Time in a Bottle.”

To Believix or Not to Believix: Jakks Pacific’s Doll Dilemma

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To be or not to be, that is the question.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing, end–Oh, sorry there!  If you haven’t already guessed by me linking to a Renaissance poem last time around, I’m a bit of a bibliophile.  So, before I started randomly reciting Shakespeare, I was about to tell you guys about an e-mail I had with Desiree Taylor, a Jakks Pacific executive who follows this blog.  This correspondence led into two things I would like to discuss.

The first item is something that you have likely been looking forward to for quite a while.  I received confirmation from Desiree Taylor that the long-awaited Pop Disco collection should be shipped to stores hopefully as we speak.  The major problem with the budget dolls (which Pop Disco is confirmed to belong to) is finding them: you can’t find them at Walmarts or Targets like you can with the other collections.  I can’t be exact on where to buy them, as I’ve only seen the Season Four ones once.  Those were at a Walgreen’s, but this isn’t necessarily where the Pop Disco dolls will go.  It might be a good place to check out, though.  (And if your hometowns are anything like mine, they’re practically on every street corner!)

The other thing is this: a lot of you guys may have noticed that Harmonix dolls are much harder to find than we might have expected.  Toys ‘R Us stocks a good amount of them, but you’d be lucky to find one Bloom Harmonix at a Target or a Walmart.  This has been making me wonder why Believix dolls are so much easier to find, and Desiree gave me the answer: because of a little something called “overstock.”

Overstock is what allows many large franchises to have numerous items in their inventories without wasting too much money on one industry.  You see, for every month, a certain area of items is in demand.  Let’s look at this month, for example.  June demands include Father’s Day gifts, summer clothing, and outdoor items.  Toys (other than pool or water ones) are considered to be “winter” items because of the holiday rush.  Large stores only get small amounts of money to spend on items, and they don’t want to spend too much on things that people aren’t shopping for.  So they buy certain items in bulk so that they can easily replenish inventories.  Then they use most of their marketing on the items people are most likely to buy.  So, if you open up an ad from last Sunday, you’d be more likely to find a bathing suit or a barbecue grill on sale than a Winx doll.

Before Nickelodeon acquired the rights to Winx, it was an obscure brand that only appeared a few times in stores (I had only seen Mattel dolls once, and they were pretty hidden in the toy department).  So, with an inexperienced franchise, Jakks had to figure out how much of each doll the store could buy in bulk.  Assuming that Bloom was the main character, and therefore the most wanted doll, they made more of her than any of the others.  (That’s why you’re just about guaranteed to find a Bloom Believix doll just about anywhere.)  They only gave stores one of the so-called “minor characters” (Aisha, Tecna, or Musa) per set, and it seems to depend on location which one most of them stocked.  For instance, Tecna was the easiest to find of the three in my hometown, but I couldn’t find any Aisha ones.  I had to buy her online.

The important thing to clarify is that Believix dolls are not still being made.  Jakks stopped making them when the Harmonix line came out.  It only seems like they’re still being made because of the overstock situation in the stores.  So, as long as there are still Believix dolls in the warehouses, there will always be more of them than Harmonix dolls.  This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.  If you’re still looking for a Musa, Tecna, or Aisha Believix, you have a bit more time to get them, but if you’re looking for a Harmonix doll, you could still scan the stores, but eBay might also be a good bet.

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Before I reveal this post’s music videos, I’d like to ask a question of the fans: “What was the most random situation that made you think of Winx Club?”  This is something that most fandoms experience, so I’d like to hear from you guys.  (In case you’re wondering, mine was when I read  Macbeth and whenever the three witches in the play appeared, I subconsciously thought about the Trix.)

Anyway, I got a lot of responses about the Aisha/Nabu relationship song I found.  Now it’s Musa/Riven’s turn with “I’m Not in Love.”  Whenever Musa and Riven have an argument (which is practically every season), this pretty much encompasses that moment.

And here’s the other song: “Hello.”  While a lot of people don’t like Roy (and I’m not even sure that I do), this is pretty much the song that best suits the little bit of personality he’s given in Season Five.  Since he doesn’t know about Nabu (presumably), the heartwrenching part about him is that he doesn’t even know if Aisha will truly like him or even accept him.  She’s just an unattainable girl to him.

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Hello again, everyone.  This post will be a bit different from the ones I normally do because it is in two sections.  The first will be a regular, article-type like the ones I normally write, and the other will be music-based.  I’m doing this as a beginning to the Summer Rainbow Festival, a special celebration on this blog that will involve music, articles, fan fiction, and (hopefully) a revamp of the site layout.  There are two points I want to make here: that Zenith of Corruption took a bit more time to write than I thought (but it will be released in the festival), and that the revamp will not be a complete one, since fans tend to dislike it when sites do this (the Neopets revamp still makes some people mad, and that happened 4-5 years ago).  But for now, here’s the article portion:

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If there’s one thing that’s been polarizing about Season 5, it’s Tritannus.  Dare I say it, there hasn’t been this much ruckus over a Winx villain since Darkar.  But, while the Wizards of the Black Circle and Valtor were largely accepted by fans, Tritannus couldn’t be more different.  So why do we think the way we do about this new antagonist?  And could he have been, in different hands, a more successful character?

  • Tritannus is too much like Valtor.

This is likely the major problem most of the fans have with him.  Both mutate mermaids, target Andros, fall in love with one of the Trix, and eventually end up with a mutant form.  Before S5, every villain was essentially handled differently, but if you look at these two, it’s easy to see why they could be seen as being too similar.  And let’s face it: a lot of the reason why Valtor is more well-liked by the fans is because a lot of them see Tritannus as just an angsty person who has tantrums when he doesn’t get his way, which leads us to our next point:

  • Tritannus is only doing this because he wants to overthrow his brother.

A lot of villains on Winx are evil just because they want to be, but Tritannus is really just jealous.  This isn’t to say that jealous villains can’t be good ones: take Scar from The Lion King for instance.  He’s one of the most popular villains in the Disney universe, if not in the animated universe, because he doesn’t just whine about his plans not going right.  Rather than attacking all his family members (like someone else we know), he tries to turn them over to his side (or at least the impressionable Simba).

If Tritannus had done more things other than trying to get to the Infinite Ocean, he might’ve turned out a lot better.  For instance, Valtor didn’t have to blind Aisha or mess with Diaspro.  He could have found other ways to do these things, but he did them just because he wanted to mess with people.  Tritannus lacks charisma, and perhaps that’s part of the reason why the fans don’t find him to be any better than the characters do.

  • Tritannus is not a big enough threat.

Since he mainly stays close to his little corner in the Infinite Ocean or Earth, he doesn’t pillage random magical territories.  Therefore, he doesn’t seem like a problem in places other than the aforementioned two.  I could understand the Sovereigns’ Council trying to address Valtor or Darkar, but just Tritannus?  Really?  While his mutant figure can be intimidating at times, if you’re not a selkie, a human, or a Winx, he won’t attack you.  Also, did you notice that Faragonda hasn’t put up the Alfea shield yet?  Whenever there’s a huge threat coming (other than the Wizards of the Black Circle), the force field comes up.  Therefore, this comes across as him being an amateur, wannabe villain, and honestly, I agree with Faragonda.

  • He messed up the Trix.

Now, you could say that the Trix have gone downhill since S2, but there is so much more they could have done with Tritannus.  Even though they don’t all go mooning over the villain like in S2 and S3, they could still act as bruisers or bodyguards (think the hyenas from our Lion King analogy) who don’t really care that much about his needs.  But no, Icy’s the only one he acknowledges, and many fans think he ruined her character forever.  (If the Trix have to return, I’d really like them to be mercenaries who are just in it for the money and have minimal loyalty for the actual villain.  Ooh, I could just see them pulling something like that for their own self-gain!)

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That’s the end of the article segment.  However, this is far from the end of the post.  This new section is called “Station WINX” (believe it or not, there is an actual radio station with these four letters).  With every summer post, I will include two to three music videos with songs that I feel reflect Winx characters or plotlines.  Now, my musical taste isn’t like a lot of peoples’.  I’m into more of a retro-type thing, so if this isn’t your type, you don’t have to participate in this, but it might be nice to try something new.  Let’s get started!

 

The first song up is called “Last Resort” by the Eagles.  Season 5 is a very environmentally-based season, so I decided to show you one of my favorite ecologically-themed songs.  To warn you, it’s about seven minutes long, so if you aren’t fond of long songs, this may not be the one for you.  It also plays very softly, so make sure you have your computer volume up high enough to hear it.

 

Now, onto our next song: “Tough Guys,” from REO Speedwagon.  This song is meant to encompass Aisha’s personality from Seasons 2 and 3.  In other words, it’s her “single” song (since people really do change in relationships). It’s also louder, so you don’t have to have your volume on as high.  It is also the shortest of the three.

 

This one is the most mainstream out of all of them, meaning that it’s probably the most likely of the three to be played on an oldies station.  You may even have heard this one before: it’s “Copacabana” from Barry Manilow.  But if you look at the lyrics, it pretty much suits Aisha’s S4-S5 personality.  To me, while it’s upbeat at first, it truly captures Aisha’s intense anguish in these seasons.  It’s not so much a song about her problems with Tritannus as it is about her mourning for Nabu.

And speaking of these two, I’ve heard a poem in one of my English classes that suits them very well.  It’s called “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning,” and it’s by John Donne.  A link to it can be found here: http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/mourning.php .  However, it’s an older poem, so if you’re intimidated by Renaissance literature, I’m not forcing you to read it.  (If anything, it shows my nerdiness towards the English language.)  So only read this one if it actually interests you.

Also, I’d like you to post which one of the songs you liked best.  Perhaps we could even have a voting competition between this song feature later in the summer.  See you then!

MAKING OUR MARK: The Art of the Letter

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“We just got a letter, we just got a letter, we just got a letter, I wonder who it’s from.”

I like to imagine the Nick executives would actually sing this when they receive all our Winx letters.  After all, if their ’90s programming was any indication, this is what you should always do right before opening a letter (yes, even before getting the letter opener).  If this quote doesn’t sound familiar at all to you, it’s probably the generation gap talking.  So let’s change topics before you make me feel even older.

Turns out my simple comment of “I’m going to write a letter to Nick” might’ve inspired an avalanche of letters as big as the ones that followed Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  And if that got Harry to go to Hogwarts, many wonder if the onslaught of letters will have a similar effect on Nick.

However, not all letters are created equal, and we must keep in mind that this is a large company we are sending to.  We want to make a good first impression on the executives, and above all, we probably want to look well-educated.  From prior experience, here’s what (in my opinion) one should keep in mind when writing these types of letters:

  • Use the triangle.

This might sound weird to all of you at first, but there is an explanation for this.  The triangle is a method of argumentation first used by the ancient Greeks, and is still valuable to this day.  This method emphasizes three principles: logic, credibility, and emotion.  Each of these can create a powerful “appeal” that can be used in persuasive letters.  So how do you do that?  If you have something that can qualify you to a business, by all means say so.  It can be anything from owning one of the Winx blogs to being a PhD.

  • Backstory is everything.

For a great emotional appeal, talk about what Winx really means to you.  Tell them just how much you loved the show growing up.  Did it change your life?  If so, definitely tell that story!  If you focus too much on formality, you might sound like a stuffy person who doesn’t really care about the show.  Tell them that you care, and that’s why you’re sending this letter.  If you also loved other Nick programs as a kid, that would also be nice.  This would show Nick that you aren’t against them, and will probably please the employees.  For instance, I don’t want Winx to get cancelled partially because my favorite Nick show growing up, Danny Phantom, was cancelled after only three seasons.  So this is yet another use of this technique.

  • Leave the cotton candy online.

One of the biggest complaints with the Winx fans is that there are too many SpongeBob reruns, which I agree with.  However, I found this reference to it ironically suiting.  Pretty much, the joke refers to a vendor on there who yells, “Cotton candy!  Can’t have an angry mob without cotton candy!”

Therefore, this means no flaming, or (as it’s known in the world of argumentation) ad hominem arguments.  That means no saying stuff like “Nick is the worst!” or “Winx would’ve been great on any station other than yours!”.  Statements like this are seen as amateurish and possibly threatening.  Do you really want a business conglomerate to be giving you a restraining order?

  • Remember Valtor’s wisdom.

This is probably the weirdest bullet statement of all, but the Winx quote that best embodies the letter campaign comes from Valtor: “Icy, today’s words are finesse and deception, not hitting and fighting.”  Except for the deception part, that’s just about right.  Do it with style, with flair, and with rationality.  Don’t be afraid to make it personal.  You can make a point without yelling and blaming Nick for what happened.  Just do it rationally and efficiently.

Whether it’s typed or handwritten, script or cursive, a letter can be a powerful tool in the proper hands.  We have the chance to truly make our mark and show the Nick employees what we’re made of.  Today is a day where, more than ever, the fans show their ability to shape a show without even entering the TV headquarters.  Will they see us as scary and threatening, or educated and reasonable?

The adventure of a lifetime awaits us.  This time, the Winx are the ones in danger, and it’s a threat that even they can’t stop: cancellation.  But if we all come together and use our own little Convergence spells, we may just be the Magical Dimension’s true heroes.