American Girl’s Newest Girl of the Year Doll 2018, Luciana Vega, Takes Us Into Space!

1 Jan

Greetings readers!

American Girl has released a new doll for their annual Girl of the Year line! Her name is Luciana Vega.

If you don’t know what American Girl is, and what all the excitement is about, I will explain it to you.

American Girl is the name of a company that produces and sells dolls meant to relate and inspire girls through realistic fiction and toy models. They have produced several lines since the company was founded in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland, an educator from Illinois, who had a vision to give girls better role models through their playtime than what was offered at the time.

Since then, American Girl has produced a line of historical dolls, accompanied with books, now called Beforever, plenty of contemporary dolls and characters, one of them being the Girl of the Year line, custom doll lines like Truly Me, a line for those of 3 to 5 age called Bitty Baby, and a line for children of early grammar school age called Wellie Wishers. American Girl has had many other lines throughout the years as well.

One of the biggest traditions at American Girl is the unveiling of the Girl of the Year doll and book, along with her collection.

Lately, there has been a push for American Girl to include a more “diverse” range of characters into the brand. Girl of the Year has especially come under fire because since 2001, the Girl of the Year line had been filled with “white American” characters.

In 2017, an African-American character was introduced. Of course, the response was split (with half of the fandom excited that there was finally a Black doll and the other half being upset that her collection seemed rushed, stereotypical, and that her doll mold was released before as a Truly Me).

This year, in 2018, Luciana Vega will be Girl of the Year’s second Latina character (Marisol was released in 2005).

There are other things that make Luciana Vega special. Her story is the first to completely center on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), particularly space science. Luciana Vega’s dream is to lead a team to Mars! The only other American Girl that showed interest in anything close to science was Lanie, Girl of the Year 2010 (Earth science particularly).

In our social and political climate, where there is a push for girls to have the best role models, models that encourage girls to be strong, intelligent, and to reach for their farthest dreams, Luciana is certainly a reflection of the times. This makes her fitting to represent the girls of 2018. Our girls are growing up in a time where they are allowed to be as courageous as the boys!

Let’s get inside her story!

Book 1 synopsis for LUCIANA- In this first book of her series, Luciana is over the moon—she’s going to Space Camp! But when she’s picked to lead her team in a robotics challenge, instead of rocketing her crew to success she steers them straight into trouble. After that, her teammates don’t trust her. In fact, Luciana’s pretty sure they don’t even like her. It’s great to be good at science—but Luciana learns that it’s not enough. If she’s ever going to make it to Mars, she has to be someone her crew can depend on, no matter what. 

Book 2 synopsis for LUCIANA: BRAVING THE DEEP- In her second book, Luciana can’t wait to take off for youth astronaut training camp. She hopes to be chosen to dive to an underwater habitat where real astronauts train for life in space. But when Luciana accuses her diving partner of sabotage, no one believes her and her chances of making the diving team sink fast. Things hit rock bottom when Luciana has an underwater crisis. Suddenly, making the dive team isn’t her biggest worry. She’ll have to conquer her fears if she ever wants to make it to Mars. If she can’t, will she have to kiss her dreams of becoming an astronaut goodbye? 

A third book is due out in March!

Luciana

Book 3 synopsis for LUCIANA: OUT OF THIS WORLD- In her third story, Luciana and her family are headed to Chile for winter break. Luci can’t wait to see her cousins — but the reunion doesn’t go as planned, and Luci feels like an outsider in her own family. Just then she receives a surprise invite from Claire Jacobs, her frenemy from astronaut training camp, to join her at the Mars habitat in the desert and watch NASA scientists at work. It’s an offer too good to refuse, so Luci decides to leave her cousins and give her friendship with Claire a second chance. But what if Luci has made the wrong decision? What if she still can’t trust Claire? When disaster strikes in the desert, Luci finds out the truth.

This article will be updated as more books are released. Girl of the Year has recently had several books introduced with the line. More stories are expected to be released for Luciana as well. And crossing fingers for a movie release!

Now, let’s examine her collection!

As new items are released, I will update this article!

The Girl of the Year is usually only around for one year or while supplies last. American Girl has stated since GOTY of last year that the dolls will be available beyond their year of release, but there won’t be much produced.

Review

Pros

For the first time, in years, I have very little negative to say about American Girl’s product! This is my dream doll, the doll that I’ve been hoping would come out of American Girl! Finally, there’s an American Girl that steps outside of what is deemed normal for little girls! I’m so impressed with this bold move from American Girl. I will list the pros in order and give details:

Space Concept

Last summer, I visited the Adler Planetarium (which I hadn’t visited since I was a child), and my fascination with space grew from there. As a child, it was cool, but as an adult, I was really able to take everything in! Then, I happened to join a NASA employee when welcoming the solar eclipse! I had many outer-galactic experiences last year.

So when I found out Luciana was going to carry the space theme and launch this year, I was over-the-moon!

And have you seen Luciana’s website? Go on over to the website! It’s just so cool! http://play.americangirl.com/play/girl-of-the-year/luciana/

Luciana’s world is mysterious, exciting, and next-gen. I love it.

Maybe it’s a little cliché for some people (Star Wars was one of the biggest movies last year, and it was driven by a female lead). But for me, I’m just excited for the fact that American Girl is releasing a doll that encourages children to think beyond the norm and step out of the boundaries of their gender, race, and human existence entirely! That’s something to applaud.

I even like the space suit, even if I think that it is the most cliché item in the collection. I can imagine being a geeky space nut child and wanting for once, just once, to try on a space suit. Don’t know how it connects to the book, or if it’s even realistic, but it’s just so awesome and mesmerizing, I want it anyway! I just want to see the design.

And maybe the dress is a little too “galaxy-ready”, but what can you expect from a character that’s supposed to be obsessed with space?

It feels a lot more time, care, and energy went into this concept this year. Not sure about the quality just yet, but so far it looks good.

Doll of Color

We’ve got another doll of color this year! That’s something to celebrate! We have the second Latina character, and she’s from a family of Latina immigrants. What makes this all even better is that her concept isn’t stereotypical (as has been the case with other Girl of the Year characters of color, just from comparing her to the few they have had). Though Latinas can be any race, they do carry a strong distinctly unique cultural history in the USA.

One small step for women, one large leap for all the Latina women!

Cons

As with everything I write, I try to objectively see the pros and cons, though there are very few cons this time around.

The Book Cover

I’m bitter-sweet about the book covers. If you’ve been following American Girl, you will obviously see that Luciana’s book covers just don’t fit with the other realistic fiction titles that have come out of the company.

As a lover of artwork (look at my background), I love the more cartoon-ish look in its own right. But the American Girl fan in me can’t totally get on board. One of the most appealing things about the books have been that they depicted real girls doing real and important things. It inspired girls to look at themselves and imagine what they can do in their own real worlds.

Sure, American Girl books are fiction, and we don’t want girls to totally imitate all of the behaviors present, but American Girl used to have the goal of at least inspiring admirable qualities like bravery, intelligence, kindness, and sacrifice. American Girl characters were always faced with realistic circumstances, and having realistic portrayals made them come more alive for girls.

I know my own kids, the kids I work with, love American Girl for how realistic it seems. They always asked “Are they real girls?” In their minds, there was something very real about them, not just from the story, but the look, too! Of course, we can’t judge a book by its cover, but it still would’ve been nice to see some artwork depicting the actual Space Camp on the front cover! Maybe it might have looked too boring for these girls? I don’t know. I think the angle of the pictures mean everything. American Girl has removed illustrations from the books, so I’ve mostly held on to the cover illustrations to gather the gist of what is happening in the books. I can understand that realistic portraits might cost more and it would require American Girl to find a model for the cover. Maybe money is an issue?

Another Character in a Dress?

With the new Boy World line out, I have higher expectations for American Girl. Now is the time to show the world that girls are diverse, with a variety of styles.

Unfortunately, only a few Girl of the Year characters have come with pants as their “Meet” outfits. It’s bitter-sweet that Luciana doesn’t come with pants. On one hand, it does give her a balance of masculine and feminine energy. It could help her line appeal to many different types of girls. On the other hand, I think it’s important for girls to realize that pants aren’t just for “boys”. I feel like the production of the boy dolls will cause American Girl to do their best to try to make distinctions between the boy characters and the girls (considering the boys are sharing face molds with the girl dolls). Will that distinction be gender-restrictive? Basically, will all the girls end up with the long hair and dresses, and the boys with the short hair and pants?

I’ve heard through the grapevine that not too many girls seemed excited about Luciana’s concept. I can’t see why not, but considering I was never a normal 9-to-11 year old girl, maybe I just don’t understand with these girls like.

Hopefully, her space concept is as inspirational for little girls as it is for me!

Well, that’s my review on Luciana Vega! What do you think of the new Girl of the Year? Does she inspire you to look beyond your everyday world? Or does she bore you? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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