Like many first time mothers, I felt the need to embody the perfection of motherhood. Seeing that I had no prior experience in this area I turned to the same resource that helped me through my awkward teen years, magazines! So I mailed off my info to Canadian Family and received not only a great magazine, but also an American Girl cataloge. This was something new! I had never heard of these dolls before, and knew nothing about them. The dolls were beautiful and the accessories were amazing, far beyond what my Barbies had in the 1980’s! But the prices, $115 US for a doll??? I was convinced these dolls were a luxury we were never going to see in our house.
Over the years American Girl began to seep more and more into my life. Soon my daughter’s friends had these dolls and I became more curious about them, and their origin. So I started to do some research on these dolls, and here’s a little of what I learned. American Girl dolls are 18-inches tall and they first came on the toy scene in 1986, when their creator Pleasant Rowland was looking for a doll that didn’t focus on fashion or motherhood, like the Barbies and Cabbage Patch Kids of the time. She created Pleasant Company (the company that first made American Girl dolls) to create dolls that teach young girls about history. When you were 1o did you ever think about the lives of 10 year old girls during WWII or the Great Depression? I can certainly tell you I didn’t. This company brought about a change in thinking when it came to toys. Girls were now learning history from their dolls and their accompanying books, not just role playing.
Today there are many, many American Girl dolls to choose from with several different eye, skin, and hair colour combinations. Today you can either choose from their historical character line, Beforever or from dolls without a story, Truly Me. The Beforever dolls come with a historical fiction paperback book based on the character, where the Truly Me dolls come with an activity book. American Girl also releases one girl of the year, which is only available only for that year, she also come with a paperback book. American Girl does have a Canadian website, be warned all prices are listed in US currency. Be smart, and be sure to keep your currency converter close by!
Since my first brush with these dolls almost nine years ago, American Girl has invaded Canada through our Chapters/Indigo stores. At these American Girl Boutiques you are able to see and handle the dolls and their accessories. I much prefer this to ordering online and taking the gamble as to whether or not you will truly like your purchase. However not many Canadians live in a large centre, so if you aren’t close to an American Girl Chapters/Indigo boutique you also have the choice of ordering American Girl products online from the Indigo website. On the Indigo website all prices are listed in Canadian dollars, and you also have the option of shipping to your local Chapters/Indigo which will save you shipping costs, or you may choose to have your purchase shipped to your home. The American Girl dolls currently sell for $139 at Chapters/Indigo.
American Girl offers a doll hospital where you can send your injured doll to be repaired. The American Girl locations at the Chapters/Indigo stores offer basic cleaning and ear piercing. If your doll is in need of more repairs than the basics, you will have to send her to an American Girl doll hospital in the US. These hospital are different from Maplelea’s doll spa, in that they will repair your doll, where the Maplelea Spa will simply replace your doll with a new one. The doll hospital also offers additional services such as ear piercing and other customization services.
Enough about the company! Let’s take a closer look at an American Girl doll!
Our model today is American Girl, Julie Albright. This doll instantly caught my attention in the catalog so many years ago, I fell in love with her 70s style and long straight blonde hair. I got lucky and I was able to pick up this Julie secondhand from a Kijiji ad for $50.
Before we get started here is proof she is an American Girl, made in China, like her other doll friends.
Now let’s get down to business…
What I noticed about Julie right away is that she much plumper than other 18 inch dolls. This is great for little girls, as we don’t want them to struggle with body image issues.
As you can see from the side this doll has a pronounced backend. This makes is easier for her to sit and also gives her a “real girl” look.
Each American Girl doll has a copyright mark on the back of their necks. They also have strings at the base of their necks, that can be loosened to remove their heads. This makes it easier to access the inside of the doll, for repairs to eyes, body, and to tighten the limbs. Many American Girl fans also use this feature to customize their dolls, by swapping their eyes for a different look. I am concerned that since this access is so easy, it may be easy for girls to inadvertently remove their doll’s head. This could be quite alarming to any little girl. According to a blog I visited recently the newest American Girl doll, Lea Clark does not have the strings like the other dolls. Lea’s head is secured with a zip tie like most other 18 inch dolls, it’s very interesting that American Girl has made this change.
This is a close-up of her face. All American Girl dolls that I have seen have visible teeth, except Kaya. Her face is also plump. I love the detail they added in the shape of her lips, not your normal curve.
This doll’s eyes are so dark it is hard to see any depth in the colour. Her eyebrows are a simple curve. One thing I loved were the eyelashes on this doll, they are amazing!
Here is a better view of those amazing lashes! They are so full and thick, any girl would die for them. As you can see here American Girls also have eyes that close when you lie them down.
One of the best features of American Girl dolls is the hair. This doll doesn’t have rooted hair that you see on other less expensive dolls. American Girl dolls have a kanekalon wig glued to their heads. This wig prevents the hair from being pulled out as easily, and the doll doesn’t have bald spots that you see on doll’s with rooted hair. The benefit of the wig is that it can be replaced if necessary, or to customize.
You can see from this angle that there are no visible roots are the hairline.
I noticed that the doll’s fingers are quite spread out on the both the right and the left hands. Having the hands spread like this, will make it more difficult for the dolls to hold objects during play.
The toes on her feet are defined but not separated. The bottoms of the doll’s feet are wide and flat, which help her to stand independently.
This doll’s plump legs are in portion to the rest of her body. You can also see the added detail of her knee in the photo above.
I noticed her legs joints are quite loose, I was able to extend them to the point that I could see the white string inside holding them together. (You can just barely see it in the photo above.) The looseness of the joints make her not only easy to pose, but also easier to hold a pose and to sit.
I love the details of the dimples in her elbows!
This is a better photo of the string inside her joints.
I noticed that her limbs were a lot looser than the other 18 inch dolls that I reviewed. This looseness does allow more flexibility. As you can see in the photo above, she is able to hold her arms out to the side.
So you may be wondering where I stand today when it comes to American Girl dolls. I must admit these dolls finally got to me. I currently own 8 American Girl dolls, they are beautiful and tend to hold their value more than most other 18 inch dolls. What I like most about the dolls and the company are the history lessons that comes with them. I love listening to what my daughters have learned about history from the American Girl books that they have read.
American Girl dolls are beautiful, and are a well made doll. These dolls should be able to endure hours of play, and if not you always have the hospital. However if you are Canadian like myself I would recommend you check out the Maplelea Girls before you make your final decision.
*As always on our blog, prices are listed in Canadian dollars (CAD), unless otherwise stated.*