Never mind what the box says. These aren't nesting dolls, they're nesting figures!
I'm always on the lookout for toys that are a little different from all the others. Something that stands out. I first found these at HMV around Christmas last year. It would be months before I caved and picked some up, but they were always in the back of my mind. Sure they were unique and they looked cool, but what was I going to do with them?
The Matryoshka Madness line fits somewhere in between the realms of classic and art toys. There's a whole series that ranges from the pretty awesome (Ninja, Robot, Zombie, Monster, and Eco Matryoshkas), to the pretty good (Fang, Wrestler, Pirate, Santa, and Big Mouth Matryoshkas), to the duds (Puppy, Fairy, Kitten, and Hoodie Matyrioshaks). Most of the "duds" are just overly cute and don't appeal to me; The Hoodie set could have been a winner with its skull and zipper theme, but every piece has the exact same design! These sets can be a little pricey for toys-that-aren't-really-toys-but-still-technically-are, so I only got the Ninja, Robot, and Zombie sets.
As art toys they'll look great on the display shelf. Each piece is different (though it's less obvious with the ninjas - their weapons are all that really change throughout the set). The Zombie baby is preciously creepy, and every Robot is worth showing off. Out of the three sets I got the Robots are easily my favorite. I'm usually a monsters-before-robots guy, but look at these bots! They've got a real retro-cool vibe, plus their matryoshka shape takes nothing away from their overall look. The Zombies are just pictures on a yellow background, and the Ninjas have kinda of a soft, putty look to them, but the Robots could just be inhuman robots.
As toys these sets might not have a ton of use, but I find myself trying to make them work. Again the Robots work best because you can either just have a team of differently sized robots, a big bot that breaks into smaller ones as it takes damage, or a small one that gets bigger as it upgrades itself. The Ninjas may not be able to have any cool poses, but I can see using their nesting feature to pretend having them jumping out of the shadows (just picture it, it could work). And all three sets can be "cut in half", for bloody "nesting damage" fun.
Okay, so they won't be taking over your toy collections any time soon, but they do look good and they make a nice alternative if you like playing with matryoshkas - but don't want to have a set of flowery old ladies taking up space in the toy room. These aren't your babushka's nesting dolls after all.