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American Girl Introduces Five New Characters for 2017 (Logan, Tenney, Felicity, Z, and Nanea)+ “Perma” Panties

16 Feb

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Greetings readers!

Generation Next is back to talk about American Girl and their reveal of not one, not two, but FOUR new characters, as well as one comeback, released or coming out in 2017.

Many of these dolls have been rumored for months now within the American Girl community, but I thought instead of just making a review about “rumors”, it would be best to wait until the reveal of the products.

American Girl has not only released pictures of their newly released and upcoming products, but they have a live stream that goes into a little detail as well.

Check that out on Facebook!

There are plenty of changes American Girl, LLC is implementing this year. The changes, for many, are both exciting and a little overwhelming. I’ve heard the new changes are due to there being a new CEO at American Girl, LLC. I’m not sure her history with the brand prior to becoming “commander-in-chief” at the company, but I hope she actually understands the base of the brand enough to drive it forward.

Because so many changes and new products are hitting us all at once, I’m going to break down each release in detail (based on what we know so far about them), and I will be giving my opinions and my feelings on all the new releases.

I already did my review for Gabriela McBride, so I won’t go into any more detail about her.

My review will cover, in the order of release:

  • Tenny Grant and Logan Everett
  • Felicity Merriman
  • Z. Crew doll
  • Nanea Mitchell

Tenney Grant and Logan Everett

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Tenney Grant is an aspiring singer-songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee who is trying to form her own band and get her music out into the world. Logan Everett is a boy who joins her band and they eventually become friends.

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Synopsis Book 3: Tenney & Logan are a harmonious match onstage, but behind the scenes, they are totally out of tune. With her recording contract signed, Tenney is ready to make the album of her dreams . . . she just wishes she didn’t have to do it with moody Logan Everett! They’re supposed to be songwriting partners, but Logan doesn’t even seem to be trying. Just when it looks like they’ve found their harmony, Logan suddenly disappears, and Tenney wonders if he has bailed on their act. A couple of months ago, Tenney would have gladly taken the opportunity to go solo. But as she learns more of Logan’s story, she begins to wonder: Do she and Logan need each other-and their music-now more than ever before?
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So we’ve got the story and we have pictures from her collection. Here’s my spill on it.

Dolls

Tenney

Tenney Grant is blonde with freckles, brown eyes (like Julie), and it looks like a little lip gloss…Her hands are molded to appear like she’s holding an instrument, which is different from older American Girl dolls.

I personally think that Tenney Grant is a cute little blondie! I love the freckles and I think she looks cute in her little outfits. She sort of reminds me of Caroline.

However, I’m not really interested in investing in another contemporary line outside of Girl of the Year. My budget isn’t wide enough for the leap.

And the fact that I have Caroline makes me less enthusiastic. There is really nothing that is compelling me to buy her. She just isn’t unique enough for me.

My thing is…this new line isn’t offering anything to me that Girl of the Year can’t offer. I get she’s targeted to older girls, and I’m sure her books will be interesting enough. However, as far as the doll goes, I just don’t understand why she couldn’t have been a Girl of the Year character with a male best friend…

Is she meant to only last one year and be gone like Girl of the Year? If so, why make this new line?

If she’s meant to last longer, that would be a plus. Girl of the Year has fans crunching and saving so that they can purchase a doll within a year. If this doll lasts a while, it would give fans a chance to purchase her. Still, the overall design and feeling of the line could easily be placed in Girl of the Year at a later date.

And now, we’ve got more modern characters than we need.

American Girl, LLC told us on facebook that this pair of dolls will be a part of a contemporary line that will be released at “random” and will just be a “side” thing. At this point, it doesn’t look like they will have a better name than “Contemporary Characters”, if this line really gets an umbrella name at all (considering the cover of her books just say “Tenney”). So there really isn’t any distinction between this line and Girl of the Year really.

That aside, we are expecting to get more dolls for this line throughout the years at random, much like how American Girl Beforever started. It won’t be a set date, like Girl of the Year.

With that being said, I don’t know if I’m happy that she is the first character for the line. She’s blonde, she’s trendy, she’s a singer. It just feels cliche, like your typical debut character.

I’m not even a huge fan of her clothes (not really my taste, though there is mix and match potential). I know what she’s wearing is the trend, but I’ve seen better from American Girl.

A lot of American Girl fans do not like Tenney Grant’s face tan and her “unflattering” freckles. I personally like the doll. I’m just not on board with the idea overall. I just don’t see the point.

The contemporary dolls are supposed to be more appealing to older girls in middle school. Girl of the Year has already jumped on the “middle school” bandwagon with Gabriela (who is in sixth grade). I don’t understand what this character is offering girls differently from the GOTY line.

Some fans also don’t like her lips, which appear “shiny”, like she’s wearing lip gloss. I personally don’t see anything wrong with shiny lips, as many 18″ dolls are carved or created with shiny lips. It does give her a more sophisticated look and it does make her appear different from the classic “American Girl”. But I don’t see the harm in makeup that subtle.

Despite how cute she is, I think I would’ve rather had Jaya, her Indian best friend, as the first debut character for the line. The only thing really driving this line so far is Tenney’s “best friend” doll, Logan.

Logan Everett

Logan is American Girl’s first ever 18″ BOY doll (they had a boy character in the Bitty Baby line). This has been rumored for awhile for those who have been in the “know”.

I’m going to be honest though. When I first saw Logan, I thought, “Finally, a girl character who doesn’t look like a stereotypical girl!” I would’ve been really excited if Logan had looked like this and been female. Talk about breaking gender norms.

But no. It’s actually a male character.

For many young male American Girl fans, this is a dream come true! Finally, there is a boy that represents them!

According to American Girl, LLC, fans have been begging for them to release a boy character. In this world, where diversity and inclusivity have become themes, this is American Girl company’s step forward.

As I said in my article about American Boy dolls before, I do believe that boys desperately needed dolls that mirrored kids their own age and were good, positive role models. Why should the girls be the only ones included?

However, I’m going to, once again, address the concerns I had back then. I’m not sure if having a boy character is good for the brand.

Eat me alive if you want to. American Girl is called American Girl. Why was American Girl such a big deal for girls? It wasn’t just because it provided wholesome dolls for girls with educational books and positive messages, something fashion dolls didn’t offer. It was also because most of history, prior to American Girl, was told from the perspective of males. Most of the heroes honored in our history books are male. Look at Marvel and DC comics, and you will see that even most of our modern heroes are male. Most action-adventure stories, like Harry Potter, have a male lead.

American Girl offered heroes for our little girls.

Nowadays, we do have more movies and shows about female heroes. But back in the 1980s, when American Girl first arrived, there were hardly any women taking on the “hero” title.

American Girl has been one of the first companies that brought these young females to the front. The contributions of women, especially little girls, may have been insignificant among other historical toys or books, but not in American Girl.

With the inclusion of a male doll in this brand, I can see why some American Girl fans are concerned that this brand will branch out. Some people have already expressed that they would like American Girl to honor mostly girls.

And this is not to say that Logan is outshining Tenney. However, with the success of Logan, will American Girl be considering more boy dolls in the future? We may start to see more male dolls in the future.

Some young male fans were hoping for historical boy characters instead. I think if Mattel creates another branch called ‘American Boy’ that might work. That way, it wouldn’t take away from the American Girl brand.

There’s another reason why I would’ve preferred another branch for American Boys.

  1. With Logan being a “best friend” to Tenney, he is nothing more than an accessory, like the other Best Friend characters were.
  2. With him being a male, it does leave room open for “romantic” playtime among children.

Logan is basically just “the boy”. He doesn’t get his own book. None of the books are told from the perspective of a male with a male author. He is an “accessory” to Tenney’s story, meaning he can be archived with Tenney if the situation calls for it. He is a background character, still not considered important. I mean, I guess I can just be happy they created a boy character at all. But this is one of the ways Mattel, the mother company to American Girl, has ruined doll lines before.

He seems meant to appeal to girls and not really meant to be designed specifically for the male fans, which I think is cheating our young male fans.

I also get the feeling he will be confused as the “boyfriend”. American Girl swears up and down that he is not a boyfriend character. I don’t think we should look at every male-female relationship as romantic, but it’s kind of hard to convince young girls that “shipping” two people with one another is wrong. And that is exactly what I think will end up happening with the two of them. If not while reading the story, just during playtime. What’s stopping a girl from pretending Logan is Tenney’s boyfriend? And so, here we end up with Barbie and Ken…

They kind of look like Barbie and Ken, too.

And why did they have to start off with a white male character? It would’ve been great if he’d have been Asian or something different for a debut. If they started this as a line of boy dolls, there may been a more diverse range of male characters.

It’s good I’m not too interested in this line. I’m happy there is finally a boy doll, but I’m just not happy with where he is placed.

The last issue I have with Logan is his AGE. Logan is said to be FOURTEEN (14) years old, according to American Girl’s facebook! He’s way older than the most of the target demographic. He’s not a kid; he’s a TEENAGER. His doll actually gives the illusion that he’s a 10 year old. I don’t know, but having crushes, whether on Tenney or not, wouldn’t be too far away from this character…

Story

I really get a ‘Taylor Swift’ vibe from the story. It seems cute enough. I’m especially interested in the story with her best friend Jaya. I wonder  why she didn’t get a doll…

I was hoping there would be a “singing” theme eventually with Girl of the Year, but now that the Contemporary line has it, that’s out for me.

Still, I was hoping the contemporary line would touch on the deeper issues affecting middle schoolers, something Girl of the Year has failed to do.

Remember those books by American Girl called The Care and Keeping of You? That book really helped girls as they were growing up and reaching puberty. I was hoping this contemporary line would be a good guide to giving advice for girls. But no. These books are just other forms of Girl of the Year.

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I read a preview of Tenney’s books, and honestly I just felt like I was watching a Disney Channel or Nickelodeon show. It lacked any real substance. But it’s cute enough.

Unfortunately, because the series is told from the girl’s perspective, Logan is given a bad-boy, mysterious, and moody personality that seems unflattering. He doesn’t seem created to directly relate to boys, but rather seems created to better appeal to females. The personality is reminiscent of male characters that are often found in female-driven literature…and these characters often end up being the “heartthrobs” (the moody Edward from Twilight is an example). They are designing a male ideal here, not really giving boys a good role model.

Unfortunately, what I’m seeing and reading are not enough for me to be interested in Tenney or Logan. However, I would definitely buy Tenney and Logan as a gift for kids. Just not for my collection.

One thing is for certain: We can call bull on American Girl claiming they were”moving from the best friend strategy”.

Felicity Merriman, American Girl’s Revolutionary War Character

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Can I give an outplayed “Yaaasss”? Guess who is back (again) out of the archives? Felicity Merriman!

They must have wanted to tie in with the new “Hamilton” popularity or maybe jump in on Shailene Woodley’s recent popularity (considering her first acting role was as Felicity).

Felicity is a long-time historical favorite. If you don’t remember, she represented the Revolutionary War era. She was our fiery, spunky, independent red-head (before Maryellen arrived).

I wrote about her archival, and I can’t believe I’m now writing about her return.

Remember when she was retired in 2001? Then she returned in 2005 and was retired again. Now, she’s back again. They really just can’t decide what to do with Miss Merriman!

Felicity is coming with a new Meet Outfit and a new book layout.

Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of either one. I like her blue dress better than her lavender one, considering the quality seems better, but something about it is unflattering. I think I’m just biased to her first Meet dress. It just felt more authentic, more natural. This new dress looks more like it was made for a Disney Princess character.

Still, I’m giddy one of my favorite characters are returning and I’m happy the American Revolution will not be forgotten in the Beforever line.

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My only gripe is that she will be released with Tenney, which takes away her shine. The website didn’t even update her “Play” page, she’s barely on the front home page, and she’s not boldly announced in the Shop section either. So far, she’s only come out with her new Meet outfit, which isn’t much fun…

I also heard she doesn’t actually come with a shift or hair ribbon, which is really cheap.

The worst part is she’s only being sold online and at the three major stores in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.

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Z. Crew Doll

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Z. Crew started off as a stop-motion series (created by American Girl) about a Korean American “character” doll named Suzie Yang who creates her own vlogs online, often using her “American Girl dolls” (usually minis) as themes. Obviously, American Girl company was inspired by actual American Girl fans who often make their own stop-motion videos or often make videos in general using their dolls. It definitely put all of those people out of business…

Well, now, Z is getting her own doll! (Though technically, this doll has been around awhile now. #40 anyone? #64 anyone? #30?) And I suppose this is American Girl’s response to more diversity and that push for an Asian American Girl doll?

Here’s why this character does not suffice:

  1. She is not the historical Asian character we asked for.
  2. She is another contemporary character, competing with other contemporary characters.
  3. Most of her clothes from the series are borrowed from their Truly Me line (their line of customizable contemporary dolls…)

I’m sure most of us already have some items similar to what American Girl is offering for her or will buy the clothes and put them on dolls we already have.

Most people have not been asking for a modern Asian American doll. Most people felt pretty satisfied with Jess (even though she was part Asian). But we have been asking for an Asian character for Beforever, one that wasn’t just an “accessory” doll (like Ivy was to Julie), and one that has her own story and moment in history. And what did they give us? This.

I’m not going to say I hate this character. I think she’s really cute and unique. Her stop-motion series is cute. But again, why so many contemporary lines? And why all at once, in the same year?

The content and themes being pushed by American Girl for these random contemporary lines could’ve gone over well with Girl of the Year. I really don’t understand the point of the Z. Crew line. Maybe the stop-motion series is so popular, kids wanted to buy dolls inspired from the series. But I’m just not that in love with the character to feel compelled to buy her. And if you already have #40, it’s a wrap.

She’s also getting a book, for whatever reason, and a live-action movie (and cringey Amazon Prime is doing it again).

I wonder if Z’s whole crew is joining her in this doll line…That might make things a little interesting. Still, I can only see myself purchasing Z after making other major purchases…

Z is supposed to come out in April, but already she has quite a bit of competition this year. Why would they release their only Asian American character amidst so much competition? It’s not fair. They are setting this doll up to fail.

But for anyone interested, I think she will be a unique and diverse addition to any contemporary line, considering they don’t have many Asian American characters, and none that are Korean at that.

However, I don’t think she will last more than two years. Stop-motion can get old after awhile. There needs to be something else driving this line.

For anyone interested, her doll is set to be released April 27, 2017.

Nanea Mitchell, Hawaiian Character from the 1940s

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The rumored Nanea Mitchell has finally been unveiled!

And yes, she is just as I feared: ANOTHER 1940s character.

Nanea Mitchell, 1941
She’s a Hawaiian girl who does her part to help and heal during wartime. 

Nanea Mitchell learns the importance of generosity and sacrifice throughout her stories. 

Set for a fall release is Nanea Mitchell, a Native Hawaiian girl growing up during World War II in what was then a U.S. territory. “Nanea’s stories teach girls that kokua—doing good deeds and giving selflessly—sometimes require sacrifice.” NBCNews

Her stories take place around the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Many speculate that she will live in Oahu, Hawaii, close to where the events occurred.

I am excited to learn more about Hawaiian history and culture. I am interested in learning how this story differs from Molly’s (if it does). Don’t get me wrong.

But I don’t care how beautiful Nanea is. I don’t care how touching her story may be. All of that superficial crap does not disguise the real problems I see. I still feel cheated.

1.Instead of giving us a new era in history, American Girl decided to “rinse and repeat” an era. 

I mentioned before that it felt like American Girl was running out of era ideas. Nanea, to me, is proof that they really couldn’t find any other different eras in history. I said this before: I’m not interested in reading about WWII twice. Especially not before we touch on eras that have never been touched on by American Girl. I’m still waiting on the 1920s. And I don’t care how diverse this makes the brand, history is a priority of mine. I care more about diverse and accurate eras in history than I do about the color of dolls.

Unlike other fans, I don’t like this brand for its dolls alone. I was drawn to this brand for the history. And I am eager for American Girl to introduce new history to kids. We’ve talked about WWII with Molly. What about eras we haven’t talked about, like Western Expansion? The Roaring Twenties? Early Exploration (Pilgrim)? I would even go with the 1980s. I get there are many perspectives in each era in history, but we haven’t even touched on ONE perspective in those eras I just named. Let’s double back AFTER all ground has been covered.

This story of Nanea’s even sounds similar to Molly’s (pulling together, lending a hand, helping the war effort, and making sacrifices). I can’t say her descriptions sound original or unique. Felicity carried unique themes like Loyalty and Independence, something not shared by other American Girls. Nanea is carrying the same themes Molly carried. And that’s just not very appealing to me.

You know what’s going to end up happening with most Molly fans? They will just be taking Nanea’s collection and putting it with Molly. And if Nanea’s collection is bogus, which something tells me it will be, she will be archived soon and replaced with the original Molly.

Or it could be the other way around, where Nanea is bought more and just dumped with Molly’s collection. Either way, the lines are now interchangeable and less unique.

Fortunately, Nanea is cute enough to go over well. And if they focus on her culture, instead of over-emphasizing WWII, I may be able to deal. Otherwise, I’m sorry. I can’t get excited about an era I already know so much about.Well, I can’t get as excited as I could if this were a new era in history.

My other concern is this: Will this new “rinse and repeat” method continue? Are they going to make two girls each era? I don’t know if I would like two 1960s characters. For starters, the character would more than likely be white. Then, if she’s really popular, she would diminish the importance of Melody significantly (because we all know she would sell better).

The “doll a decade” thing worked so well because one doll could get so much in her collection. Now, with two, one doll will get the things the other won’t, just to promote them differently. There is still a possibility Molly will come back. After all, she does have a big picture on the front cover of American Girl’s new Story of America book. American Girl is still selling her books and movie. Because she’s still being promoted, there has to be a line between what we can find in Molly’s collection and what we could find in Nanea’s, just to make them both uniquely appealing.

Nanea isn’t going to get as many “WWII” types of items like Molly did considering her era takes place much earlier before the war began to really affect everyday life. The things Nanea does get will probably look (or will actually be) exactly like Molly’s! Since I already have Molly, I’m hoping there will be some differences. Hopefully, the setting and culture (Hawaii) can provide some unique items that can last longer than two years.

I’m also hoping that there will be new 1940s references within the story. Molly already had a hula costume, so I don’t care much for a Hawaiian get-up. Molly introduced us to strap-on skates, newsreels, girl scout camps, patriotic songs that were especially sung at school, the popularity of tap dancing, the Three Stooges, the Red Cross, rationing, victory gardens, Halloween, snow globes, and so much more. I really don’t have a desire to hear about any of those things again. I don’t even want to hear a similar manner of speaking. Molly and her friends often said “Gosh” and “Golly” and such. I don’t want anything redundant. I will end up comparing everything to Molly.

I had the same problem with Cecile and Marie-Grace back in the day, but I warmed up to them. Maybe I will warm up to Nanea.

2. Is she the “Asian American” character we asked for? It doesn’t seem like it.

Most of us asked for a JAPANESE AMERICAN character, possibly, but not definitively, living in Hawaii. Yes, I heard all of the requests. Most people did not actually ask for a Hawaiian character. In fact, most fans hoped internment camps would be apart of the story.

I’m not sure of the actual ethnicity of this “Hawaiian” character, but it doesn’t seem like she will actually be “Asian”. Nanea is a Hawaiian name. Mitchell is an Americanized surname. The worst case would be if she was a mixed half white, half polynesian child. That would be the dumps.

American Girl has not truly been answering our call for diversity. They’ve been skating around the real issues. Even with Gabriela McBride, they’ve just pulled out an old retired doll, came up with some random modern outfits, and released her. That’s not really developing a Girl of the Year.

And this “Hawaiian” character is not exactly what fans wanted. Most of us wanted an Asian character.

Now, I do know some people who are excited about Nanea because they missed out on Kanani and may have wanted some pretty Hawaiian doll with a tan to add to their collection. I was not one of those people. So, I hope she has some Asian blood running through her veins. Otherwise, I will boycott this doll like the plague.

American Girl has already come out with a doll that brought out Hawaiian culture and that was Kanani. But which Asian character in American Girl truly brings out Asian culture or history through her collection? NONE. This is why we have been asking for an Asian American historical character,

They only made Nanea because they wanted to lighten the perspective of “internment” and they wanted to bring a doll out with a tan, hazel eyes, and wavy hair. Not truly to add diversity, but to cash in on Disney’s Moana’s success.

The thing is there are more eras they could’ve done the Hawaiian historical character. They could’ve made her from the 19th century, during the Annexation period and European-Asian contact, during the reign of one of the last queens in the west coast, among other interesting historical events. She would’ve really looked like Moana then.

But there are not too many eras that truly affect Asian Americans in the USA. WWII would’ve been the perfect era. It was an era that truly affected Asians, and the Asian struggle during the period has been glossed over largely. Instead, they gave us Moana, excuse me, Nanea.

And most people are probably thinking that there’s no difference between an Asian and Hawaiian…The ignorance of it all. I’ll bet American Girl thought the same thing when they made her.

3. She seems like a modern doll.

When I first saw her, I swear I thought she was another contemporary character. There is nothing “staple 1940s” about this character. When we look at Felicity, we know she’s colonial. When we look at Kit, we know she’s from the 1920s or 1930s. When we look at Maryellen, we know she’s from the 1950s. We know these things based on the clothes. That was the most fascinating thing about the fashion. The fashion reminded us of the era.

I do not see “history” when I see Nanea. It’s almost like they specifically designed her to look more “modern” so that she could appeal to the next generation. She looks like a “modern version” of the 1940s.

Her name isn’t even very historical either (even if a few people did have it in the 1940s). Nanea didn’t become a popular name until 2005. It’s like they chose the most “easy to pronounce”, remind-me-of-Moana name and slapped her under the label of Beforever. It is ridiculous. If people were thinking that American Girl is moving away from their historical emphasis, this would really validate their fears.

There used to be a time when the dolls were created as a compliment to the book series. This is why there were more accessories and dresses, and why there were pictures. This was also why it made sense to design a doll an era. Everything that was in the books was made for the dolls, and most of the books’ “timeline” lasted two years at times, allowing for a multitude of items to fill a decade. Samantha’s stories began in 1904 and ended in 1906. Molly’s stories took place from 1943 to 1945. Kirsten’s stories took place from 1854 to 1856.

Nanea is mostly supposed to cover 1941 and maybe a scrap of 1942. Just like Marie-Grace and Cecile, who only covered 1853. And trust me, the books felt very short and rushed as a result.

Now, the stories are mostly made to compliment the dolls. They create the dolls first, and then add or fix those details in the books later. The history is an afterthought now. Stories are not nearly as important as pretty dolls.

I feel like this story was thought up to create a pretty Hawaiian character, one that replaces the popular Kanani, not truly to add more history to this line of dolls.

4. She looks like a Wellie Wishers Doll or Another Brand’s Doll Entirely.

I really thought Nanea was from another brand. Her face mold looks different. She almost feels out of place in the Beforever line up. She doesn’t feel American Girl. Therefore, it’s hard for me to warm up to her. She somehow looks older…She doesn’t have the sweet, young look the other dolls have.

She really looks similar to a Wellie Wishers doll. It cheapens her a little bit. I hope they also reduce the price.

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5. She’s another character with wavy hair and hazel eyes.

More hazel eyes? Really, American Girl? If I see another hazel-eyed character, I’m going to snatch myself bald.

What happened to the days when American Girl characters had the features and combinations of real girls? What happened to the days when a girl living in the 1940s would actually be depicted with the braids most girls had in that era in time?

Nanea is over-glamorous. She just doesn’t feel like a natural little girl from the 1940s.

Maybe this is why I’ve always been so attached to my Molly. She had glasses. She had pigtails. She was unique. She was simply irreplaceable. Nanea is another hazel-eyed, wavy-haired glamor girl.

But what can we expect? She’s pretty and photogenic. She should sell well to the fan community.

Oh well. Maybe she will teach me something different about Hawaii and WWII (hopefully). I won’t know until she is officially released.

She will officially be released August 24, 2017.

I’m hoping she has some Asian background, and if not, I hope they design an Asian American character set in the 1980s or some other time period in the future. It’s time for American Girl to stop skating around. Nanea is nice and everything, but she’s not going to make up for the Asian historical character you lack.

Permanent Underwear

I may sound a little negative in this article. I am feeling rather negative. Perhaps I’m a little frustrated with American Girl because of their push for the new “permanent underwear” for some of their dolls.

If you haven’t heard, American Girl announced that the new “permanent underwear” will be sewn on to all of the new modern dolls as well as some modern Beforever characters (Maryellen, Melody, and Julie, fan favorites).

This is very infuriating. This takes away the whole point of doll playtime, which is really to mix and match fashion. And if someone wants to change their doll into a different era, like into the colonial era, they won’t be able to do that without looking at the permanent underwear.

American Girl claims they are doing this because they’ve noticed that some kids have been losing their dolls’ underwear.

“We assure the design change was made only to make play easier for some children and to ensure the underwear cannot be lost.”

But it doesn’t make play easier for all children, does it? Just some. And it definitely takes away the value for collectors.

This move to ensure children don’t lose the “underwear” is utter cow manure. It’s like saying, “We want to sew all of the clothes to the doll so the kids won’t lose the clothes”…It defeats the entire purpose of PLAYTIME. Children WILL lose items at times. They will mix and match or replace those items with something else. That’s the fun of it. It simply makes no sense to sew them on the bodies.

They may be trying to move toward “modesty” with these dolls. Some people feel that American Girl is teaching girls to be ashamed of their bodies by sewing on panties.

If they are trying to move towards modesty, it’s the stupidest move they’ve ever made. Honestly, the dolls’ bodies never looked realistic in the first place! They don’t have female parts underneath their clothes. They have a soft, stuffed torso overall.

What this really does is put restrictions and limitations on playtime. And it tightens everyone’s pockets.

American Girl claims it shouldn’t stop girls from mixing and matching the fashion, but it does, especially if you want your Julie to become “Elizabeth” from Felicity’s books or something of that nature.

It also can ruin photos and make the bathing suits on top of the underwear look chunky and awkward.

People speculate that American Girl’s introduction of the “beautiful” Nanea this early in the year is a “distraction” to coerce American Girl protestors into buying their dolls, despite the fact they are ignoring fans’ complaints. Some people have been persuaded to make one more purchase, but will only be buying Nanea and none after. Some will only be buying the dolls that don’t have the underwear (which puts Maryellen, Julie, Melody, and all the Truly Me dolls in a bind). Many are boycotting the purchase of all dolls until this is fixed.

It has really come to the point where the quality is being called out. Unfortunately, American Girl is confident that their dolls will sell, no matter what they dish out at us. And they have every reason to be. Tons of people on Youtube and beyond can’t resist Nanea.

And there are tons of parents and feminists that support the “sewing” of the underwear.

Me, personally, I could look past the new boxes and the new zip ties. I was a little more incensed at the new vinyl for the mini dolls. Many American Girl fans could not handle any of those changes.

But I draw my line at sewn-on underwear.

On facebook, Aryn Bedrick said, “The point is that AG is supposed to be authentic and geared towards intelligent play. The target age for these dolls is 8+. This move makes you look cheap and generic, like many of your other recent changes like the move to zip ties from strings, and packaging that requires clothing be attached with plastic tags that screams ‘throw me away’ instead of ‘save me for your future daughter’ as your original, classy packaging did. You are losing the things that set you apart in this industry.”

Many people consider a lot of these new body changes, packaging, and zip ties as a sign of disloyalty to the brand. I personally felt that the whole idea of Tenney, Logan, Z. Crew, and Nanea was breaking “loyalties” as much as the other new changes. But American Girl has been going down that road for the last couple of years, especially after the launch of Beforever.

The funny part about it is, for me, I’m more angry that Nanea Mitchell is sharing a decade with my beloved Molly. I’m more angry that another more interesting era was not chosen. I’m more angry that there are now more contemporary characters in this brand than there needs to be.

I don’t like the movies being produced out of Amazon Prime. I don’t like that the Wellie Wishers face mold and packaging are taking over the brand. I don’t like that Logan is Tenney’s sidekick and/or “boyfriend”. I don’t like that Z. Crew is so boring as a doll. I hate the new bodies with the new zip ties.

And the icing on the cake was the sewn-on undies.

I’m sorry this article is so negative. I tried so hard to be positive in my spirit, and maybe my views will change with time. But right now, my collection days feel very close to coming to a close. I’ve been with American Girl since 1997, and maybe it’s just time for me to retire. American Girl really needs to fix what’s broken and leave the fun stuff alone.

Well, that’s all I have to say. Leave a comment and let me know what you think about the new releases and all the different changes.

American Girl’s Girl of the Year 2017: Gabriela McBride! + ‘Girl of the Year 2017’ Is Set To Last More Than A Year!

31 Dec

In West Philadelphia, born and raised

On the playground is where I spent most of my days…

You readers like that ‘Fresh Prince‘ reference right there?

That’s the first thing that came to mind when I heard about American Girl’s newest Girl of the Year 2017.

If you don’t know what American Girl is:

American Girl is a premium brand for girls and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT, www.mattel.com), a creations company that inspires the wonder of childhood. Headquartered in Middleton, WI, American Girl offers an inspiring world of dolls, content, and experiences that nourish a girl’s spirit and help develop her strength of character. Best-selling lines include Truly Me™, Girl of the Year™, Bitty Baby™, WellieWishers™, and the classic historical character line BeForever™. The company sells products through its award-winning catalogue, on americangirl.com, in its proprietary U.S. experiential retail stores, and at select specialty retailers nationwide. Outside of the U.S, American Girl products are sold in specialty boutiques at select Indigo™ and Chapters™ in Canada and El Palacio de Hierro locations in Mexico City. By inspiring girls to be their best, American Girl has earned the loyalty of millions and the praise and trust of parents and educators.

If you’re a fan of the American Girls, but have been out of the American Girl loop for awhile, you probably don’t know why I made that reference in the introduction. Let me introduce to you GABRIELA MCBRIDE.

girl-of-the-year

Gabriela is a true talent who gets creative for a cause. She is considered a quiet, creative girl growing up in a family of artists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (exactly why I made that Fresh Prince reference). Her mother is especially passionate about the performing arts. Her mother is founder and director of the arts center Gabriela loves and her dance instructor.

Gabriela is also interested in the performing arts (particularly tap, hip-hop, and ballet) and poetry. Aside from dancing and poetry, Gabriela also helps run a sandwich shop.

Gabriela has a reason she’s so quiet: She struggles with stuttering.

In the first book, Gabriela is said to be “going into the 6th grade”. Still not sure of her age, but she may be the “oldest” Girl of the Year produced.

Gabriela is a true creative talent who uses the power of poetry to help her break down barriers and overcome a personal challenge with stuttering.

Gabriela inherited a love of the arts from her parents, especially her mother, but spoken word poetry is becoming her own passion. Although Gabriela often finds herself in a battle with her own words because of her stuttering, she discovers that her poetry, filled with wit and honesty, helps her speech flow more easily and gives her the confidence to find her voice to help save her beloved community arts center from being torn down.

American Girl Press Release

Despite Gabriela’s struggles, she’s still witty, honest, and courageous!

Her book cover and synopsis are out. Are you ready? {insert drumroll}

gabriela-book-1

Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Yes, believe it. Finally, finally American Girl has released their first African American Girl of the Year character!

After seeing the name Gabriela trademarked, most assumed the character would be of Latin/Hispanic heritage. It turns out it was set aside for an African American character.

Gabriela is set to have a series of FOUR books (yes, four, 4). The first book will be out in January. The next one comes out in March. The other two will be released throughout the rest of the year.

Book synopsis 1: Gabby loves expressing herself — especially in the dance studio — but lately, poetry is becoming her art form of choice, and for good reason: Gabby struggles with stuttering, and spoken word poetry helps her speech flow more freely. Still, compared to how confident she feels on the dance floor, speaking up can be scary. When the city threatens to close her beloved community arts center, Gabby is determined to find a way to help. Can she harness the power of her words and rally her community to save Liberty Arts?

Teresa E. Harris is the author and it is her first time writing for American Girl.

*This will be updated as more information is released.

And now, what all American Girl fans have been waiting for…

The reveal of the doll!

 

melodys-pjs

More items and one of her books will be available Spring 2016.

Gabriela’s doll is really adorable in these pictures, but…

This is where my excitement diminishes. I came to the realization that she’s not just a doll of color. I came to the realization that if I look beyond her color, I have very mixed feelings…

 

Gabriela McBride is considered by many of the American Girl Fan Community to be the LAST GIRL OF THE YEAR.

For those who don’t know, there have been rumors that American Girl plans on ending the Girl of the Year line after Gabriela (possibly to make room for their rumored Contemporary line). I’m not sure how true the rumors are, but it is a FACT that there will be changes to the Girl of the Year line in 2018.

In American Girl’s press release, they stated:

Additional Gabriela products and books will be available starting in spring 2017, and—for the first time—the new Girl of the Year collection will be available for a full 12 months and beyond.

On facebook, American Girl has confirmed that they have plans to release their next girl of the year in 2018. So does this mean Gabriela will be available along with the new Girl of the Year?

American Girl said they don’t have plans to retire the GOTY line, but they’ve been known to hold back from revealing a retirement or archival before.

american-girls-message

 

One part of me is happy that she will last long enough for me to save for her collection.

Another part of me is sad that I may not have a Girl of the Year to look forward to next year. It was sort of an American Girl tradition.

And another part of me is just a bit frustrated with the design of the doll and her collection…

Here…at this moment…I have to analyze this objectively.

This Girl of the Year is really mediocre as a doll in comparison to dolls prior.

Here I am, being the Negative Nancy. Call me a self-hating black woman, a coon, whatever. I’m know I’m going to hear it all. I don’t care. I can’t fully accept her as a “great” Girl of the Year character, not under the current circumstances (with this possibly being the final GOTY doll).

If you’re an American Girl fan, you can probably better understand where I’m coming from. Newcomers may find her to be a great doll addition. And she isn’t garbage, but she has flaws.

I fell in LOVE with Gabriela’s story. I love the fact that she loves poetry and how she uses poetry to overcome her own disability. I think she’s a good role model for girls. I fell in love with this story so hard, even though I haven’t read it all, I want to buy two copies.

However, I have my hang-ups.

First off, this doll is #46 from the Truly Me line. She doesn’t just look like #46. She IS #46.

46

Truly Me #46

I always thought that doll was beautiful. I was sad when she was retired. And I am personally happy to see her return (especially because I don’t collect the Truly Me dolls). But I know plenty of people who said they already have this doll. This means there will be quite a few people who aren’t interested. It always leaves me uneasy when I hear that people don’t want to buy a doll of color. It’s especially bad because Gabriela is the only African American character (in 15 years) to have been produced (or rather “picked”) for the line AND she is supposed to remain in the line through 2018.

Some fans have expressed that American Girl, LLC has put a lot of effort into making the Caucasian American Girls look different and unique, but clearly didn’t do the same for Gabriela. Some feel they didn’t really plan on making an African American character for the line. Some people feel the company rushed production of her because the demand was so high. Basically, they pulled out a retired doll, put clothes on her, gave her a story, and called her Gabriela. Some people feel Gabriela is recycled and doesn’t reflect the same effort the company has put into former Girl of the Year dolls.

I can see their point. Maybe they have given up caring because they wanted the line to come to an end. Maybe they recognized the popularity of #46 and wanted to make her into a character.

Regardless of the reason, this part has been disappointing for most fans.

I don’t have #46, so I feel compelled to get Gabriela, but I wish she was designed in a way that would compel others to want to buy her.

The second problem I have with Gabriela is the fact that she is a DANCER.

I have to be fair about this. I talked about Isabelle being another dancer, I talked about Lea being another tropical princess, so I can’t let this slide.

This Girl of the Year is supposed to last for more than 12 months, she is the ONLY African American character, and you stick her with one of the most unoriginal themes? It doesn’t hurt the story, which incorporates poetry and overcoming disabilities, but it certainly hurts the collection.

Marisol was a tap dancer, ballet dancer, Mexican folk dancer, and jazz dancer. Isabelle danced ballet and modern dance. And now Gabriela! How many dancers does Girl of the Year need?

Because other “dancing” dolls came out, I’m not really interested in the majority of Gabriela’s playsets or accessories.

american-girl-marisol

isabelle-barre-set-hr

What would I need with two ballet barres?

I just can’t get excited AGAIN about another dancer when American Girl has done the theme TWICE before.

I know there are other people out there feeling the same way. And I just don’t like the idea that the first African American character in this line is not unique enough to be a MAJOR sell-out this year.

The final insult is that American Girl has stated on their facebook page that they don’t have major plans to release a movie for her! It takes at least a year to create a movie, so if they haven’t thought of one now, I don’t know if she’s ever getting one!

Still, she’s going to be around in 2018, so only time will tell. But she clearly seems slapped together.

Despite all of that, there are some American Girl fans who are excited about Gabriela. Some are even willing to buy her even though they already have #46! Some people like her dance collection the best out of the three. And some people are new to American Girl and missed collecting the other dance items.

Since Gabriela will be out more than one year, at least none of us have to worry about her selling out within one year. People will have the opportunity to save up for her and have a chance to get her between this year and next year.

That wraps up my review of the new Girl of the Year.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you all think of the new Girl of the Year and my article!

“An American Girl Story-Melody 1963: Love Has To Win” Disappointed This American Girl Fan

29 Dec

melody-movie

I know. This movie was released two months ago in October 2016, and I am just now giving my review on it. I have my reasons.

For those who don’t know, American Girl is a widely popular doll brand that is known for its historical line of dolls and books, contemporary lines of dolls and books, and baby dolls for toddlers. The historical line is the oldest line in the brand. It has been around since the mid-1980s and it continues to impress upon the minds of little girls even to this day. Parents also love the dolls for their educational value.

Prior to Melody’s movie, four other historical American Girl characters have had movie adaptations produced by WB, HBO Films, and New Line Cinema. The original four movies (made for Samantha, Felicity, Molly, and Kit) were full-length, feature films. Melody’s movie and Maryellen’s movie are short films.

I loved the original four movies a lot. They really brought the characters to life. Of course, American Girl no longer has the budget for those kinds of films anymore, especially since they began focusing more on making new dolls (which is good enough for me).

Now, their movies are made by Amazon and are mostly released through Amazon Prime.

Set in Detroit during the Civil Rights Movement, “An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win” examines the joyful life and troubled times of an irrepressible 10-year-old African-American girl whose vivid imagination and creativity reinforce her optimism. When shocking national events threaten her sense of security, Melody must find inner strength to restore her hope for a better world.

Director:

Tina Mabry

Writer:

Alison McDonald

Before I begin, I just want to inform new readers that I’ve always been a HUGE American Girl fan since the 1990s. I love toys and I love history. Combine the two, and you have one of my favorite doll franchises. I also want to remind readers that, as an African American, I am very happy that Melody was released. I loved her book series and the doll with her accessories…Just amazing.

But because I’m an American Girl fan and an African American at the same time, I can honestly say….I couldn’t really LOVE this movie. I don’t hate the movie, I just…don’t love it like I was expecting to.

Go ahead and chew me up. Call me self-hating, coon, liar, whatever. But before you decide to stop reading right here, just read me out.

One of the reasons I took so long to write this review was because I honestly wanted people to decide for themselves what they think of Melody’s movie. It was American Girl’s first movie dedicated to an American Girl doll of ‘color’, and I wanted people to mostly think positively. I didn’t want to shatter any dreams or feelings with my thoughts. I want Melody to be as successful as possible because I hope American Girl will continue to make more dolls of color in the future. I bought the movie on Prime because I wanted to encourage American Girl to make more movies with girls of color in lead roles.

I also waited to write this review because I saw how many people actually liked the movie (mostly people who never read Melody’s book series) and I knew they would just chew me up and spit me out for saying anything negative about this movie.

Last, I just really couldn’t find the right words to express how I was feeling. I tried to love this movie. I tried to force it, just because she was a girl of color and because I related to the message. But the American Girl fan in me just couldn’t attach herself to it.

The only reason I decided to share my opinion was because a fan emailed me and asked me.

*The following article may contain some spoilers.

It’s not that this movie was garbage. Far beyond that. In fact, it had its pros. Let me just run down the list of pros I saw.

PROS

The Message

Out of most of the other American Girl movies, Melody’s movie was one of the few that actually talked about a serious issue. The only other American Girls that presented issues that relate to our modern world were Kit (we were in the midst of the recession at the time) and Chrissa (bullying is still very serious). And Melody’s story was much deeper than all of those stories combined because real events were intertwined in the movie (particularly the Birmingham Church bombing).

Melody’s movie was designed to relate to issues young black children are facing today, and honestly, without the 1960s period outfits and references, I could see her being a girl in 2016/2017.

As an African American, I was happy that African American history was being represented by a movie, an American Girl movie at that. American Girl is a popular brand and it means a lot for such a brand to bring attention to girls of color and their struggle for equality.

The movie downsized the events that happened in the books, making the message clearer.

Marsai Martin

Marsai Martin was the actress that played Melody. She brought a lot of fire to Melody’s character (fire that wasn’t really felt in the books). Marsai is an intelligent and bright child herself, and I think she really shined in the movie. She had all the attitude, strength, and intelligence that I loved and that I feel all girls of color share. She had spunk.

Promotional Value

Melody’s movie has brought a lot of attention to the doll itself. Even though Melody has been out since August, a lot of people didn’t hear about her until after the release of the movie. There were many people on facebook inquiring about Melody after this movie was released. Hopefully, this will help Melody sell better than Black dolls prior. If Melody sells well at the end of this year and in 2017, American Girl may consider making more Black dolls in the future. This will shut the mouths of all the people who claim “black dolls don’t sell”.

Educational Value

The movie was educational for all races. For black children, it helped them connect today’s events to past events. This helps them see history as something that’s interesting and a major part of their modern lives.

Children of other races could learn to understand black people better through this story, through a beloved American Girl character.

CONS

Unfortunately, there were quite a few things that disturbed me about this movie. Please, don’t take offense. It’s just my opinion. I really felt there were things that would’ve made the movie better, but you readers are welcome to disagree.

The Cast

I felt everyone did a pretty good job with their acting. My problem was the lack of key characters from Melody’s stories.

Without Melody’s REAL family (and not that small family in the movie), her life felt empty. In comparison to older American Girl movies, her cast was the most butchered and horribly downsized. This made Melody’s family life seem lonely rather than bustling and close-knit, like in her books.

To add, by getting rid of most of the IMPORTANT characters, they left out potential black actors and actresses. Instead, more than half of the cast was WHITE. Not only was this totally opposite Melody’s story (which could’ve boasted an all-black cast), it was completely disappointing that black people still couldn’t get a chance to shine in this movie. There are few black actors and actresses getting screen time as it is. It’s especially rare in children’s films.

Maybe they added different races because they wanted to relate to more races of people, but I felt that using Melody’s real story would’ve related to more people. Melody’s life was similar to how most people lived in the 1960s and all of those 1960s references would’ve been appealing. Why switch it up so much?

They probably wanted to highlight the racism experienced in the 1960s, which was rightfully highlighted, sure. But I feel that racism was tackled well enough in Melody’s story, from an authentic and realistic perspective, and with mostly black people involved, for them to adapt it.

I’m not saying it’s bad to have white people in the movie, and maybe I should be grateful the lead characters were black. But wouldn’t it have been amazing if most of the cast was black? With Melody’s real family highlighted? Maybe that’s just my opinion.

Lately, it’s all about pushing agendas and less about telling the story.

Yes, I know that in American Girl movies prior, some characters were removed from the story. But the key characters were always present or at least mentioned. The family life could be “felt”. Melody’s family in the movie just didn’t feel like her family.

Characters

This is something that really bothered me. As an American Girl fan, and not just an African American, this bothered me a lot.

NONE, and I mean NONE, of the characters really seemed like they came from Melody’s stories. In fact, they all felt like totally new characters from a completely different story. Even Melody really wasn’t Melody.

In the older American Girl movies, all of the characters had the same personalities and interests as the characters in the books. It truly seemed like they brought the characters to life. The movies just weren’t teaching history; they were also telling a story.

Melody in the movie was NOTHING like the girl I grew to know and love in the books. Some people may have liked her better in the movie, but I didn’t. It’s not that Marsai didn’t do a good job with what she was handed, the problem was what she was handed.

Melody has been described as a sweet and hopeful girl. In the books, she was sweet, thoughtful, and caring. In this story, she seemed feistier. In the movie, she was a bit of a know-it-all. Melody wasn’t really a know-it-all kind of character in the books. I think they combined Melody with her sister Lila (who was in the STEM program in the book series, loved to read, and was super intelligent).

Melody was interested in singing (which they got right), but she also loved gardening. In fact, she was gifted with planting. In the movie, they made her more interested in sewing and space (giving her Maryellen’s interests). Gardening was a key part of her character, more than singing in the church choir, and they completely removed it. This was the first time I hardly recognized an American Girl in her own movie. The only thing “Melody” about the character was her outfits. I guess that’s all the doll company cared about when they allowed this movie to be produced.

Another thing that bothered me was the omission of Melody’s siblings. Having Melody’s siblings would’ve taught kids more about the 1960s. I understand that this was a short film, but somehow, in Maryellen’s short film (a movie for the strawberry blonde character from the 1950s) they managed to bring most of Maryellen’s siblings into her story. Why not in Melody’s? The Baby Boom was still in full swing in the 1960s. It would’ve made sense for Melody to have more siblings.

Dwayne and Yvonne did much more to add to Melody’s life than did Maryellen’s siblings, and yet Melody’s family was omitted.

music-in-the-movie

I felt cheated because I played this “quiz” on Americangirl.com that told me songs from the book would be in the movie. These songs were “written” and “composed” by Melody’s brother in the book series, so I thought he would be in the movie. I didn’t really hear all the songs in the movie, but even if I had, I would’ve been more upset. Dwayne influenced Melody’s music interests so much, it just didn’t feel right to keep him out. He would’ve showed the new generation how black people influenced modern-day music through his affiliations with Motown. He could have represented that part of history that is unknown to the new generation, but a part of history that influences them even today.

Yvonne was a particularly empowering young woman. Her role in the book series was really interesting. First off, she was the first in her family to wear her hair all-natural (an afro). She was a real civil rights activist (not just a participant). She went to college, she risked her life to educate people in the south, and she marched on Washington with thousands of people just to hear Martin Luther King give his most famous speech. I was torn to bits when there wasn’t anyone in the movie to represent her.

Yes, I know American Girl is on a budget. They can’t make their movies too long, with too many people. But I would’ve rather had Yvonne than any of those brats in Melody’s (fake) classroom. Again, how was Maryellen able to get away with having most of her siblings, but Melody’s movie had to succumb to the budget?

Finally, I want to talk about Melody’s mom. I’m happy that she was a hard-working African American woman and that her role revealed the struggle African Americans experienced in the USA. However, I found Melody’s mother to be more empowering and more authentic in the book series than in the movie. In the book series, Melody’s mother wasn’t a struggling seamstress working for racist white people. She was an educated, black teacher, teaching at an all-black school. Melody’s mother graduated from Tuskegee. The movie sort of combined Addy’s mom with Melody’s (maybe to make up for the fact that American Girl, LLC has overlooked Addy as a potential for a good movie all of these years). I was not pleased with this.

I feel that Melody’s mother was over-dramatized in the movie. The book series was more authentic. Maybe it felt more authentic because the panel that worked on the books lived and understood that time period. Maybe it felt more authentic because my own grandmother and her friends had gone to school and became teachers in the 1960s. When I read it in Melody’s stories, I immediately connected with Melody’s mother. But the movie was dramatically trying to show us a racist society. While they did that, they took away Mrs. Ellison’s strengths. Even though the 1960s was a harsh time for African Americans, many were educated by then, many were successful, and many lived comfortably, especially in the North.

I would’ve liked to see Cousin Tish’s salon brought in the movie and I’m still crossing my fingers for the playset in the future.

I also wanted to see Big Momma, one of the most important figures in Melody’s life. She is the one that taught Melody how to sing!

Melody’s friends barely appeared in the movie, and when they did, they were mean little brats. They weren’t supportive like they were in the books.

So much was missing from the movie because the key characters that shaped Melody’s life in the books were not there.

The Story

In the older American Girl movies, the stories were flipped, butchered, and changed around. Scenes were added and scenes were taken out. However, the heart and inspiration was clearly evident. Key important events were not taken out.

For example, Molly’s struggle with her hair was taken out of Molly: An American Girl on the Homefront. However, Molly getting the role as Miss Victory, the most important part of her Changes for Molly book, was in the movie.

There are more examples I could name, but the point is most of the older movies brought the important events from the book series to life.

The new Melody movie was so focused on pushing agendas and highlighting modern-day issues, it failed to actually tell Melody’s stories. Melody was used as a tool to tell an entirely different story unrelated to the released American Girl. And that’s fine. But I watched the movie looking for one of my favorite characters to come to life on screen. I was disappointed when I found I was being introduced to a completely different story with a completely different character in Melody’s wardrobe.

First issue, none of the events in the movie happened in the book. Melody never went to an all-white school in the book series. She attended an all-black school. Her school provided encouragement and support to the students, especially when it came to combating racism. In the books, when the church bombing happened, her teacher talked to the students to console them. Melody’s friends were there for her when she was frightened by the events.

Melody’s reaction to the bombing was different, too. In the movie, she was angry and bold. She posted clippings about events in her all-white school. In the book series, it hit her much deeper. It struck fear in her. It made her afraid to walk in her own church. That felt more realistic, considering she was 9 years old. These different reactions revealed that the two girls were actually TWO DIFFERENT characters. They didn’t react the same to situations, they didn’t have the same personalities. To me, they are two different “Melodys”.

I know the new story relates better to modern black girls. But I feel that they cheated Melody and spent less money on her movie than movies prior. I feel that her stories were butchered the most out of any of the other American Girl characters. And because of that, I don’t feel Melody’s story was really told.

Authenticity and Realism

While some modern day African Americans may find the movie to be more realistic, especially in relation to today’s events and some major occurrences in the past, I found the book series to tackle the Civil Rights Era in a more authentic and realistic fashion overall.

Considering the book series was meant to be told from the perspective of the average 9 year old, living in Detroit in the NORTH during the 1960s, the book series relates more to the real African American story. In the book series, there were many cases of racism in stores, when trying to buy property, or when trying to fix up black neighborhoods. But most black people lived in all-black neighborhoods in nice brick houses. Most children attended all-black schools. Most black families were close-knit. Families were large because of the Baby Boom. The book series had a naturalness to it that felt more authentic.

The movie was definitely what happens when “Hollywood” gets hold of something. With Hollywood taking hold of Melody’s story, everything became more dramatic. Racism and oppression became key themes, but strength, optimism, community, and hope were not added as themes as they were in the books. Especially not the community involvement.

I wish that theme had been brought out because I don’t feel enough African Americans are encouraged to get involved in their own communities. Some have given up hope that they can do anything to make a difference. I really hoped that there would be emphasis on community involvement and I was let down there.

Maybe these things don’t bother most viewers and American Girl fans, and I wouldn’t say it made me hate the movie. But I definitely felt disappointed and didn’t really have the same overwhelming happy feeling so many other people had after watching it. It was decent for a kids’ movie, but it just didn’t live up to former American Girl movies.

After this, I barely wanted to watch Maryellen’s movie. I was afraid it would also be butchered, and if it wasn’t, I would be mad that Maryellen’s movie was closer to her true series and Melody’s wasn’t. So far, I’m not a fan of the move to Amazon Prime. The movies are short, I don’t like paying for Prime just to watch these movies, and I would rather have a hard copy, like I did with other American Girl movies.

Anyway, sorry to be negative about this. I still love Melody and I still support American Girl bringing attention to dolls of color in the future. I’m just not a huge fan of this movie. I don’t think this movie really catered to the fan base and mostly catered to newcomers to the brand.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the movie. Do you think I’m being too petty about it? I am one of those people that can’t read the book series and fully enjoy loose adaptations. 😄 Do you agree with me? Are there any points you appreciated about the movie? Anything you disliked? Please share.

If you haven’t read the books and don’t plan on reading them, I think this movie would be good to watch. If you’ve already read Melody’s series, tread with caution and remember that this movie is a pretty loose adaptation.

Monster High dolls’ Reboot: “How Do You Boo?”

21 Nov

‘How Do You Boo?’ This is the new slogan for the new Monster High reboot. It doesn’t make much sense to me now…Let’s see if we can make sense of it later…

welcometomh_desktop-header_tcm1078-272704

As of summer 2016, following the Welcome To Monster High movie, Mattel (the company that produces Monster High) decided to give the go and have the MH franchise rebranded, rebooted, revamped (however you want to call it).  The new “reboot” also comes with a brand new story retelling the origins of the MH series with a few new characters and some returning ones.  In particular, the main crew, except Ghoulia and Deuce, returned upon launch of the new reboot with new face molds, brand new fashions, and other characterizations.

The biggest question many Monster High fans have is: Why try to reboot an already successful brand after only SIX YEARS? It is the question that plays on my mind as well. It baffles me how Mattel, when the brand is at its height, in such a short time frame, even thought this would be a prosperous business idea. What demographic research have they been studying?

Despite the fact that I couldn’t fathom the idea of a reboot at this point, I still took my time creating this review of the product, thinking maybe I should give this a chance. I gave it a chance, and so far, this reboot fails to impress me.

So, right now, I’m going to let Mattel have a voice. Apparently, Mattel had these things to say:

“A bona fide pop culture phenomenon and a massive global franchise in over 60 countries Monster High is ranked as the third biggest fashion doll brand a $1 billion franchise annually and a top 5 global property for girls! Monster High empowers girls to express their individuality and form friendships that last beyond a lifetime.”

Great, we know this, and this is why we’re confused about the necessity for a reboot…

Now entering its 6th year in the market, in 2016 the brand will embark on an exciting new chapter to maintain its relevance to the ever changing consumer. As an exciting disruptive everygreen brand Monster High will continue to represent via the monster metaphor what it means to be different, unique and empowering girls to be themselves as Mattel leads the way in creating, maintaining and driving strong girl empowerment brands.

“exciting disruptive”…Hey, that sounds just like the Bratz’s producers (MGA) at relaunch….right before they failed to be disruptive…

Apparently, Mattel’s reason for changing the new Monster High dolls was so the brand can be “relevant to the ever-changing consumer”. This could mean two things.

First, it could mean they want to appeal to a new generation. In my opinion, it wouldn’t make much sense to reboot the brand just to appeal to the next generation as the old Monster High is still pretty relevant to kids today…After all, this brand is just six years old…But maybe they see the brand as having a different meaning than it did in 2010 at launch…

Second, it could mean that much of the Monster High fan base have been expressing their boredom with the line and Mattel wants to make it “relevant” to these “ever-changing” consumers.

I’m likened to believe that the real story is that they started Monster High to be a competitor to the Bratz dolls and capture the tween audience when Bratz were removed from shelves. Now that the edgy trend is dying, and Bratz became a thing of the past, Monster High’s old image and story is no longer “relevant”. But that is just my theory…

The key elements that make the brand disruptive will remain but now infused with more play in the product whilst adding renewed focus on the core characters and stories as well as marketing what the brand stands for. The brand will have a fresh new look with new contemporary colours and graphics whilst still incorporating the iconic signatures that make the brand unique and relatable to the core audience of 6-10 year olds.

Supposedly, they said they wanted to keep “key elements that make the brand disruptive”. So far, I don’t understand what they are talking about. Are they talking about the fact that at least they will keep them monsters?…That’s the only thing that makes this brand disruptive anymore.

Monster High was originally designed to capture the tween audience. After all, Garrett Sanders made the doll franchise after observing tweens and teens shopping at Hot Topic. And it has been popular among girls 10 to 14. It’s pretty obvious that Mattel has shifted their demographic focus from the tween audience to the kids with this reboot (the same mistake their competitors at MGA made). This is probably why so many people are complaining. There are many Monster High fans that are over the age of 10! It’s almost as if Mattel forgot who they directed this brand to in the first place. The new reboot looks like it’s made for kids.

They also claimed to focus on the core characters, but they didn’t relaunch Ghoulia as one of the main core characters…In the original, she was one of the core characters. Her name is even in the original theme song.

If they mostly focus on the core characters, it also means they don’t really plan to bring any extra character stories to the table. It’s probably because fans have been complaining about Mattel regurgitating new monsters all the time without focusing on the dolls they already have within unique doll lines…

The brand will also launch an exciting new multiyear brand campaign and new consumer rallying cry “How Do You Boo” encouraging consumers to embrace what makes them unique and share how they Boo. Working with celebrities and brands spokespeople the campaign will communicate what it means to boo, to be yourself and start a movement encourage girls to do the same.

So, Mattel explains that the new slogan “How Do You Boo?” is supposed to encourage us to embrace what makes us all unique and to share that. But Monster High always encouraged people to embrace what made them unique before they changed to this cheesy slogan. So why this slogan? Still no answers. I don’t get what this slogan is supposed to mean..How is “Boo” relevant to embracing what makes us unique? Are they asking how we scare people? Are they asking about our own special “scare”?

Maybe it’s supposed to go over well on Twitter…

So far, you can already tell where this reboot is headed and you probably can guess I’m not a fan of it.

Upon rebooting, the MH look very different from their original counterparts.  The Monster High dolls are no longer the glossy eyed freaks of nature that haunted the shelves of every store…No…They are now doe-eyed little monsters that hardly seem as if they could haunt anything.  In fact, to refer to them as haunting is laughable…

Let me compare the old dolls to the new to show you all the unique differences between them. Let me know if what I’m seeing is just my imagination. In my opinion, the Monster High dolls look more like Elementary School kids now instead of saucy teenagers…

monster-high-new-face

Some people like the cute look better, just like they liked that “anime” that came out.

Let me just be honest: this reboot smells like a failure to me.  I’m pretty sure it’s a failed attempt at competing with the Disney Princess line. With their old Bratz competitors out of the way, I’m sure Mattel is less interested in keeping up with the outdated edgy trend and more interested in keeping up with the Disney Princess/Frozen/Descendants franchise that is getting the attention of consumers these days.  Keeping that in mind, while I find the reboot to be laughable…I’m not at all surprised that the reboot happened this way and so soon.  In fact, I predicted that Mattel would eventually run out of a way to keep MH interesting and would maybe have to reboot the whole thing eventually.

Monster High: The Halloween Trend

And considering how Mattel is not the kind of company that cares about originality, diversity, or anything else unless it is a selling trend (which is also something I had mentioned at this article 14 Ways Mattel Can Screw Up A Doll Line), it also does not surprise me that the Monster High dolls look more like little monster Barbies. After all, the same producers of Barbie created the Monster High. I’m surprised anyone is surprised about the outcome of this reboot, considering this fact.

I want to talk about which parts of the reboot I liked and which part I didn’t…

But I’m going to be honest with you…I haven’t quite found a whole lot of things to like about this reboot.

Monster High’s Doll Features

Monster High’s newest dolls, as I’ve explained before have changed…Honestly to the point that it seems like a totally different line from Monster High.  It is hard to believe they are called Monster High. When I look at these dolls, none of them actually look like Monsters. Seriously, they look like…well…normal little girls.  Seriously, Mattel? The one thing that made MH unique, you take it away? What business sense does that make, exactly?

monster-high-new-dolls

I guess freaky is no longer fabulous…but at least they’re cute right?…(*puke*)

One of the features that are distinctively different (and disgusting) is their eyes. Their new eyes give no sense of personality or attitude. They just look like a bunch of goo-goo-eyed girly girls made only to stand there and look cute. There is no message behind them; no depth or mystery.  Just enlarged eye pupils that scream “we’re kid friendly”.

Other parts of the new features of MH that seem to be lacking are the details and quality.  Let me use Frankie as an example. Frankie had one of the most detailed bodies, with the various stitches made to seem patched to her skin and the bolts aligned with the detailed patch work right on her neck…But now the patchwork that was so nicely constructed on Frankie’s neck looks like someone put a bunch of stickers together. It hardly looks like patch work. And poor Lagoona Blue.  Her old doll had webbed hands to represent her water monster greatness, but now her fingers are just your average fingers with no distinction from any of the other dolls.   Skelita Calaveras’s new look is what troubles me the most. For a skeleton…she seems to have a very fleshly face in comparison to her old look which maintained a bony structure. Observe.

skelita-1

Old Skelita: Absolutely flawless design capturing a skeleton with such style and grace. Too bad, this version no longer exists.

New Skelita: Someone on the design team apparently failed anatomy because last time I checked skeletons do not have noses as noses do not have bones. SMH Be honest, does she seriously look like a skeleton?

New Skelita: Someone on the design team apparently failed anatomy because last time I checked skeletons do not have noses as noses do not have bones. SMH Be honest, does she seriously look like a skeleton?

What really takes away from MH’s monstrous look is the articulation of the dolls; they hardly have the monstrous body articulation the originals had, neither are the articulations distinct from one another.

Maybe this all has to do with budget cuts? Quality sometimes decreases when a company is struggling with a line. But seriously…The big doe-eyes were quite unnecessary.

Can I also mention how all the dolls upon reboot have pink lips now? Thank goodness Deuce is supposed to be a guy who is uninterested in make-up, otherwise he also would have pink lips like all the rest of them.

What message is Monster High trying to send by making the monsters look “normal”? Well considering the slogan is no longer “Be yourself, be unique, be a Monster” or “Freaky Just Got Fabulous”, I guess Mattel no longer cares to promote such values any longer. They care more about how someone “boos”…whatever that means.

I got the hint from reader discontinuedtoylines regarding why they made such drastic changes to these features. And it was just as I feared: the soccer moms have struck again.

Apparently, monster high was too “scary” for children (though the original target demographic should’ve been old enough to understand how harmless these dolls are). Some parents really thought this doll was designed for their 8 year old child, when the original target age was 10 to 14. That being said, Mattel couldn’t risk getting on parents’ bad side, not in this declining market. I guess they had to sacrifice a quality doll line just to stay in parents’ good graces.

Monster High’s Doll Clothing And Accessories

The main appeal of Monster High was their freaky fabulous fashions that were made to accentuate the monsters in various unique ways.  The outfits usually had just as much details as the body, and the accessories are always to die for.  With the reboot, while the outfits are not typically hideous, they are simply uninspired and ordinary compared to the original outfits for most of the lines. There’s no pizzazz and the detail has been downgraded, especially when it comes to the accessories.

Let’s compare the relaunch with the original launch, shall we?

launch

Original Launch

In the original launch, each of the girls have their own style and flair. They have accessories that simply bring out the best in each outfit. Not one part of their outfit resembles the other, which shows that the monsters are very different from one another both by personality and monster hybrid.  The patterns do a good job in captivating each monster, letting us know which monster they are while still making them look fabulous. Now let’s look at the new monster high reboot.

relaunch

Relaunch

The new monster high dolls for the 1st wave of the reboot have a lack of interesting and diverse clothing accessories in comparison to their original dolls. To add, look at the patterns. They do not give me any indication as to which monster any of them are. For example, Cleo looks like a tree monster to be sure.  Clawdeen looks like a leopard or a cheetah. Seriously, look at her pants. Leopard/Cheetah print? I thought she was a werewolf…or is she now a werecat?  Of all the outfits presented, Draculaura (who usually had one of the most adorable pieces in the line) has the ugliest outfits in this reboot. Compared to her original look which was just spooktacularly vampirous and cute at the same time, the way her outfits are put together now are simply just tacky.  I should also mention that Draculaura and Frankie have basically the same shoes on in different colors with the first wave of the reboot.

Most of the other lines (besides Shriek Wreck) resemble this 1st wave reboot.  Most of them are boring enough to literally make me yawn. I think the most disappointing of all of the MH reboot doll lines was Monster High’s Electrified line. You would think that more would be electrifying about these dolls besides their hair…

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Of course, there was one line that stood out from the rest. Of all the lines set to be released for the MH reboot, Shriek Wrecked has given some good fashion details…

shriek-wrecked

In comparison to MH’s past lines, however, it lacks a lot of sass. The fashions are really girly, lacking the edge that MH’s past lines had.

Compare Skull Shores, a past line, to Shriek Wreck: skull-shores

As you can see in the above Skull Shores line, the original MH looked sassier and more grown up in the past. While in the Shriek Wreck line, they look much younger. And don’t get me started on the quality; painted on gloves for Lagoona is not a good sign.

And for crying out loud, will Mattel just cool it with the pink?! JEEZ! Monster High has gotten so pink, it’s sickening!

Still, Shriek Wreck is the best to date. It’s just not interesting enough to turn my head. I’m just not interested in buying any of the dolls (I would’ve gotten Rochelle had they not given her painted on gloves).

The lack of sassiness and diversity in the new dolls’ appearances could have something to do with the “feminist” movement. On Bit**Media, a feminist website, an article was written by feminist Deb Jannerson about how much she disliked the Monster High’s makeup and clothing, claiming they were “hypersexualized, heavily made-up dolls with über-Barbie proportions”. I’m sure there are more feminists out there who think the same way.

Feminists tend to hate anything that appears to them to be overly “sexualized”.  They don’t often see how an empowering female can appear in diverse ways. It’s gotten to the point they seem to lack an imagination entirely and can’t see how the dolls resemble “cartoons” rather than real humans. And they aren’t even MEANT to be human!

Seriously, hasn’t anyone else noticed how long the skirts are in comparison to the originals? That smells like the feminist agenda written all over it. It’s that “agenda” that encourages doll companies to make their dolls look more like “normal” girls. But for fans, who fell in love with monster high because they were NOT normal, because of their short skirts, the make-up, the glossy eyes, the things these feminists call “hypersexualized” and “heavily made-up”, the details are what made Monster High an edgy and scary cool work of art. With this reboot, all of that has been taken from Monster High, making them look more like scared little girls. I’m not going to say all feminists feel this way. But even a small group of feminists who feel this way have a way of forcing their beliefs on various doll companies, television or movie industries, and book publishers.  Do not underestimate the damage the feminist movement can do.

Now, I know what you guys are thinking. ‘Well, they might give more detailed fashion lines in the future like Shriek Wreck, so let’s not jump to conclusions’, right? You’re probably right. There are other lines that have to be seen. But so far, even some of the other future releases that I have seen after Shriek Wreck left me unimpressed. Nothing has motivated me to want to buy any of the new MH releases this year or next year. Absolutely nothing.

Monster High Story: New Story And Characters

So aside from the doll relaunch, a brand new Monster High story was born.  Meaning the story that was once Monster High is no longer its story.  Remember when Frankie was the new girl at Monster High after being born just a few days before attending the school? Well, yeah, that story no longer exists in this new reboot.  All the movies and TV specials that came out, fleshing out the monster high characters, you might as well toss them because none of the relationships and situations that were in the original stories are relevant now.

In the old story, Monster High was an already established school. Mistress Headmistress was the strong empowering female leader of the school in the original story.  In the original story, it was a normal school like ours, except everyone who attended were monsters. But now that story has been changed. In the new story, it is Draculaura and her father who turn their home into what we know as Monster High. Mistress Headmistress has been replaced with Draculaura’s father, a male figure (How peculiar for Mattel to do this during a modern era for women. And what this also means is that Mistress Headmistress may no longer be a character or doll in the future MH series). Anyway, the school is now a boarding school and all the ghouls live with each other in this school. Yep, no one has unique houses that they go home to. They just all come to this one school and live(I wonder how the playsets will look…).

Also, in this new reboot, Mistress Headmistress is not the only character that has failed to be apart of the new series reboot. In the original series, Clawdeen had two sisters and an older brother (along with a few other siblings). In this reboot, however, she only has little brothers. What does this mean for the future of Clawd, Howleen, and Clawdia (Clawdeen’s siblings in the original story)? It may mean that we may never see these characters or dolls in the future.

And with this reboot, Ghoulia is replaced by a new zombie character known as Moanica D’Kay. Unlike Ghoulia (who speaks zombie language), apparently Moanica speaks like a “normal” person (I guess Mattel really wants to put more emphasis on being “normal” and how great it is).  And with an added touch,  this new character’s signature color is none other than the color PINK…

Also new to the stage of new characters, Spectra is replaced with the character Ari Hauntington (which I’m pretty sure is Ariana Grande in monster form). It’s quite interesting because Spectra’s name was going to be Von Hauntington originally.

Check it out: Spectra-Von Hauntington

Ari is a typical Mattel character. She’s girly, shy, and she sings.  Typical recipe for selling points, right? Not to mention she can also solidify herself into a popstar named Tash. And let me say that her other form looks just like Barbie.  (I predict that Ari Hauntington’s human form may also have a doll…she looks like a “seller”).  There are also some new characters that were introduced in the Welcome To Monster High movie such as Raythe and the Skeleton Boys, Skelly and Bonesy.

ariariari

“She’s a Barbie girl, in a Barbie wooorrrlldd”…That should definitely be her theme song.

So, what do I think of the story change? I personally don’t see why it was necessary.  Sure the movie animation was nice, but the new story feels less relatable compared to the original story.  To add, I hate how the story butchered Clawdeen’s family…

Did anyone else notice that the males in this series seem even less relevant than they did before?

And it isn’t just the story, but the look of the webisodes that have had a change.  Normally, I typically like stop motion and Monster High’s stop motion would actually be pretty good. However, only the characters had their original face molds.  To add, when I compare stop motion webisodes with MH’s cartoon web series, I honestly like the cartoon web series better.

One reason I prefer the animated web series is because the stop motions only make use of the characters that have dolls.  Therefore, there is limited characterization within the web series. That also means most of the characters will be females (because naturally most of MH dolls are female), most of them will consist of the main characters without showing their interactions with other characters, and there may not be much story in each episode in comparison to the former webisodes.

So, the new webisodes will not do much as far as fleshing out the characters’ personalities and relationships.  This bothers me a bit because the webisodes were originally really good at showcasing Monster High’s diversity. Even though not all of the characters had dolls from the web series, they were still very entertaining to watch.  After the first few watches of the stop motion series, I honestly lost interest in watching anymore. Its only entertainment value lies in the fact that it is stop-motion, a cool way to bring animation to inanimate objects. But it is not something I would enjoy following for the next few years to come.

What bugs me even more is the change they made to the webisode animation style caused Mattel to cancel “The Lost Movie”, the movie that was supposed to be an animated crossover between the Monster High Characters and the Ever After High characters.

To see what “The Lost Movie” looked like in its early stages:

It’s ironic that they used the same marketing tools that competitors MGA used for the relaunched Bratz. The Bratz flopped after such awful marketing strategies. Mattel is following them right into the fire.

Overall, the new Monster High reboot may be perfect for children 8 years and younger. After all, the girls look like cute little 7 year olds, the clothing is age-appropriate, and the web series totally relates to little kids (including a webisode in which the girls in stop motion learn how to ride a bike for the first time. EVERY kid can relate to that)! Best of all, none of the girls have icky boyfriends (little kids hate that stuff, right?). And at last, parents may be pleased to see that Monster High looks “normal” and feminists will be pleased to see that MH dolls no longer objectify them by wearing too much make-up and almost all the skirts go to the knees…There is absolutely nothing daring about what they wear, which is a win for both parents and feminists alike, right?

But for some people who are tweens, teenagers, and adult collectors(the actual consumers), this reboot may be seen as a serious joke. I’m one of those collectors who find this reboot to be one of the most laughable doll reboots in history.

Leave a comment in the comments’ section below and let me know what YOU think about the new Monster High reboot. Do you love it or is it going in your failed reboot archives, like it is going in mine?

 

Nanea Mitchell, the Hawaiian 1940’s Character: American Girl Beforever Running out of Eras in History?

30 Oct

Hello, readers! This American Girl fan is back with a topic I’ve been meaning to discuss. It has come up several times among American Girl fans and I just wanted to share my thoughts on it. My views on this topic may be a bit controversial, but I’ll go ahead with it anyway.

I’ve been thinking more and more about when I should end my American Girl collection. My American Girl collection has gotten large enough and my pockets won’t be able to take investing in the brand forever, especially because the prices appear to climb higher every year. 😄 I’ve decided that I’ve got to find out where I should stop and just add to the dolls and collections I already have.

To add, the latest in the Beforever collections have just been…well, boring. I’ve been really disappointed with the recent American Girl Beforever items. I was disappointed with Maryellen’s lack of “character-specific” items. For example, they didn’t give her anything scientific, artistic, or Davy Crockett-related or something like that; there weren’t any items related to her interests in the books. With American Girl, LLC’s trend of changing up the books, they probably are avoiding book-specific items as much as possible. They had to rewrite many of the books to omit the descriptions of old outfits just so they could revamp the line for Beforever…

Melody was better about it, but she is also suffering from a rather small collection (in comparison to what I’m used to from the 1990s, I guess). I had hoped for something a little more interesting with Melody (like a 1960s salon with nail design or something, as mentioned in the book).

The Melody movie didn’t satisfy my inner American Girl, either (though it did satisfy me as an African American). It just didn’t feel like Melody’s story. It felt like the story of another Melody from the same time period…

Overall, I just feel unimpressed with American Girl Beforever lately.

So, as I was contemplating where I would end my collection, and contemplating which eras I’m looking forward to the most, I thought about this…American Girl basically covered most of the major eras that interest me. The only eras left untouched that I have any interest in are the late 1800s, the 1920s, and somewhat the 1980s…

1920-girls-fashion-01

1920s fashion for girls

For an American Girl fan like me, yes, American Girl is running out of eras. Depending on the kind of fan others are, this may not ring true, especially new fans, as some characters may have been archived before they became fans.

However, it still is crystal clear American Girl is running out of MAJOR periods and eras in American history to cover, no matter what fans are willing to accept. Still, there are a couple of minor ones they can touch on (though they don’t interest me much, as I feel many of the current American Girls have covered the gist of most of them).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_United_States_history#Named_eras_and_periods

In comparison to most countries around the world, the USA is still a relatively young country. We don’t have the vast amount of eras that other countries have. Sure, if we focus on every particular event in American history (as opposed to eras, like American Girl has been marketing their dolls for), we can find a whole slew of history. The original American Girl History Mysteries books did that.

But that still doesn’t stop the fact that American Girl is running out of MAJOR ERAS inUSA history. Focusing on particular events will just produce thousands (exaggeration here) of dolls that dress very similar and may even look similar. I suppose if you can deal with it with Girl of the Year, you can handle it with Beforever. GOTY characters are back to back, and they somewhat manage to make their characters’ outfits look relatively different (though in the past, fashions didn’t change as frequently as they do now). At the same time, I never feel like I have to buy a new Girl of the Year every year. I can easily buy the new GOTY fashion for another GOTY character I got previously. I’m not a major Girl of the Year fan though, and maybe that’s why. That’s aside from the fact that there isn’t enough diversity in the line, but that’s a subject for another day…

List of American ers in history https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era

List of American eras in history
https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era

List of era in American history continued. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era

List of eras in American history continued. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era

Kaya was in the major era of Exploration and Colinization giving the Native American persective. A pilgrim perspective is possible (1) as that can’t be touched on thoroughly in Kaya’s stories.

Felicity covered the Revolutionary era. There is no need for another perspective because most all perspectives were brought out in her stories.

Caroline covered the era of the New Nation. There’s only so much to really highlight here.

National Expansion & Reform was covered by Josefina, Kirsten, Marie-Grace and Cecile. A girl expanding west is possible (2), but she may look similar to Kirsten. Josefina also lives west herself, and also touched on western expansion directly in her story, as Americans began to take over Mexican territory.

Civil War and Reconstruction was covered by Addy. There is no need for another perspective. A confederate perspective would be quite controversial. Marie-Grace and Cecile touched on southern life positively in the 1800s without getting into the “Civil War” controversies regarding the South.

The Industrial Age is left open. Hopefully, American Girl stops focusing on modern history long enough to realize this open opportunity. (3)

Progressive Era to New Era, WWI, American Imperialism were touched on by Samantha and Rebecca.

The 1920s is open. (4)

The modern eras were covered by Kit, Molly, Maryellen, Melody, and Julie. And they have characters of various perspectives as well. Other perspectives are possible within other additional American Girl books (like the mysteries or Best Friend books, for example).

The 1980s can be covered as a modern era. At least it would make for interesting fashion, accessories, and maybe even playsets. (5)

Looking at what we have above, we don’t have many major eras to work with. I can read many different books about many different events, but can I buy a doll that is a “twin” of another when it comes to style and playsets? No. Not interested. Especially with four eras basically untouched.

After all the major eras are covered, I suppose American Girl will just rehash eras from different perspectives. As a history fan and American Girl fan, I have no interest in rehashed eras. 1) I’m too attached to the characters that represented the eras in the first place. No one can replace my Felicity, Molly, Kit, Addy, etc. 2) The American Girl books have already given many different perspectives already. Why would I want to hear the same information twice, from a different perspective, with just slight differences? 3) There are only certain Major Eras that can truly give two different perspectives in a way that actually makes the story feel different. If characters sound too similar to each other, in the same era in time, you might as well just make them friends of the characters already designed. Especially if the books are supposed to stretch over two volumes.

Each American Girl has many different perspectives in their books. Example: Even though Felicity is from a Patriot family, she had her grandfather and Elizabeth to represent the alternative perspective. In Samantha’s stories, she was the wealthy girl and Nellie represented an alternative “Irish immigrant” perspective and the horrible conditions factory workers endured.

I really didn’t have much interest in the Best Friend stories, as I felt I learned enough about their friends from the main American Girls’ own books.

I just have a hard time reading about the same subjects twice. It was one of the main reasons why Changes for Rebecca bored me. It was because I already read about factories in Samantha’s stories. Sure, Rebecca’s stories touched on the actual Labor Movement, but the shock factor of the factory conditions was lessened because I already read about it. Good thing there was enough differences between 1904 and 1914 to add other differences to the Rebecca series. That’s not the case with every major era. Some eras were so major they overcame daily life. WWII was one of those eras.

This is why I’m not extremely interested in the Hawaiian 1940’s character. For those who don’t know, there is  another 1940’s character from Hawaii set to be released. Originally, the rumor was that she was Japanese, but with the recent trademarked name “Nanea Mitchell”, it seems she’s just  going to be”Hawaiian”.

Nanea Mitchell

I don’t have any interest in another 1940’s character, Japanese, Hawaiian, or any other. I feel, in my heart of hearts, that Molly fulfills my 1940’s needs. Though I would love more diversity, I just wouldn’t want any other doll from that era. There are so many untouched eras that I would be more excited for. I’m just being honest. The 1940’s feels exhausted for me. To me, Molly has represented what most Americans on the home front have experienced, especially from a child’s perspective. My grandparents are African American, and they STILL related to the way Molly lived during the war, after I shared the stories with them. My great-grandmother even showed me a movie that she found about growing up in the war, a movie she felt described the home front perfectly from her perspective, and much of the things mentioned in the movie were highlighted in Molly’s stories. Sure, my grandparents only experienced slight differences, like racism and discrimination, but they mostly lived in black communities and shared the same patriotic spirit (surprisingly).

Whether in obvious ways or small ways, Molly’s stories have really given a complete introduction to the era from a patriotic, very “all-American” perspective.

Now, most people tell me that they would LOVE an internment camp doll. I would NOT. If anyone has any knowledge of internment camp history, (and from my experience, many American Girl fans surprisingly don’t), I don’t think they would really think an internment camp character would be a good idea. First of all, it was a shameful time for not only Americans but for the Japanese Americans especially. It’s not like the end of the Civil War, where many slaves like Addy were running away from their masters in droves, enlisting in the war and fighting for freedom, and rebuilding their lives as free people of color, overcoming obstacles. It’s not like Melody who was able to use her strengths to overcome prejudice, racism, and discrimination, but also focused on the good times for African Americans, especially in the music industry. The Japanese Americans needed strength to endure the camps, sure, but they couldn’t do much to fight their fate. They lived like this for the whole war to boot. Some didn’t even live in houses, being placed in temporary shelters such as stables and barns. It just wasn’t a really good time for the Japanese Americans. It doesn’t highlight the strengths of the people.

It’s similar to the idea of touching on the European takeover of the Native Americans’ land and the placing of Native American children in boarding schools…It’s not the best light to show the Native Americans. This is why American Girl went with Kaya, before European take-over and influence…A time that showcased the “strengths” of the people and how they were thriving long before European influence…

Story-wise, internment camp history may be very interesting (rather sad) for an intermediate or advanced reading audience, maybe if someone wants to go into detail about WWII, but I don’t think an internment girl’s collection would be much different from Molly’s, and possibly would be worse. Many Japanese Americans couldn’t bring their toys, furniture, or heirlooms with them because they could only bring what they could carry to these camps. A few were able to bring their kimonos, though…

An article with Color photos of Life in an Internment Camp

Relatively, the Japanese American character would dress similar to Molly on a day-to-day basis. As far as playsets go, can you really imagine the bedding and furniture? Not very nice as a miniature size for playtime. I’d rather them bring Molly back if they want to touch on WWII again, like they did with Samantha and are doing with Felicity.

Lastly, there were no internment camps in Hawaii. The American Girl character would have to be relocated to a different state. This is also why the original rumor seemed a little shaky to me.

Internment Camp Locations and other info

If you really want to learn how it felt to live in an internment camp, just look up the REAL facts:

Japanese Internment Camp Facts

Some fans suggested that some of her family members be taken into an internment camp and she just stays on the island with the rest of her family and tells all of us about WWII on the Hawaiian home front (because not all Japanese Americans were taken into these camps). While this may be interesting to some people, I have no desire to hear about the war again, not even from a different perspective. I feel that Molly’s extra stories have the potential to bring that material to the fore. Just like one of Molly’s mysteries, A Spy on the Homefront, she could easily have another story about life in Hawaii on the homefront. That would satisfy my mind and my pockets. It doesn’t require a two-volume series.

Any outfits that come with a new 1940s character will just be placed on my Molly (unless it is Japanese or Hawaiian specific, which is unlikely with an internment camp girl). It saves money.

A Hawaiian character’s bedding and clothing may be more interesting than a Japanese internment camp girl, but probably still will only have slight differences from Molly in many respects. I just wouldn’t be compelled to buy everything because I know that not only do I have a ton of items from Molly’s 1990s collections to make up for it, but much of it was superior in quality to what I’m seeing come out of American Girl Beforever recently. All of the Hawaiian collection would just go to my Molly’s “Hawaiian vacation”. Lately, American Girl has opted out of character-specific items. I doubt the Hawaiian Beforever character will have many items that reflect her individual personality. And what would the average girl in the 1940s be interested in anyway? Possibly very similar interests to Molly.

Hawaiian girls in the 1940s

Hawaiian girls in the 1940s

I only feel compelled to buy new dolls if they are from unique eras in time. I just can’t get excited about an already-covered “Era” in time, no matter the events in the books or ethnicity. I suppose this is mostly because I love American Girl for the history and the tiny models (toys) that reflect complete eras in history. I’m just not into it just because they have dolls, with face molds, eye colors, and period fashion. I think representation is important, but I think girls of color should be represented in fresh eras in history first. Accurate history is a priority for me.

So I’ve decided that I will end my American Girl collection when all the major eras in history have been covered. If Beforever begins to repeat eras in history, I will just not buy it. That’s my resolve. The ones I numbered are the last couple of dolls I’m willing to collect. After that, I will just add to my collections.

My hope is that an Asian American character comes from the 1980’s. That would make this fan happy. 🙂

I’m interested in hearing the opinions of other American Girl fans. Where do you plan to halt your collection and just add accessories, if at all? What eras do you look forward to most? Are you interested in eras-done-twice? What do you think of the Hawaiian 1940’s character? Do you believe American Girl is running out of eras in history? Leave me a comment and give your opinion.

Bratz Dolls Say Goodbye To the Toy Industry

23 Oct

Bratz 2001

After a year long hiatus, Bratz returned to the doll scene in 2015. However, MGA decided to take the Bratz in a whole new direction. Thus, the doll line suffered. It’s bad enough that children seldom want to play with toys anymore, especially with tablets around.

MGA tried too hard to appeal to the wrong demographic and took away what made the brand special.

To read more about the Bratz story: What Happened to the Bratz?

For the past year and a half, the Bratz dolls have been suffering in sales. As a result, MGA confirmed in an email to a fan that they are planning to discontinue the Bratz this year. 😦

The fashion doll industry is dying out due to low funds to support doll lines, lack of inspiration, soccer moms, and radical feminists (who have been against Barbie’s “sexualization” and Bratz’s “attitude” and “materialism” for years now and have been influential when it came to stopping girls from buying these dolls). Apparently, having a passion for fashion is considered “anti-empowering” for women. Further, I guess the soccer moms just couldn’t let these dolls thrive, no matter how hard MGA tried to compromise with them.

As a long-time super crazy Bratz fan, it is the saddest doll news I ever had to tell.

What saddens me most is not the fact that the Bratz will no longer be around, but the fact that they had so much potential. The Bratz dolls had the ability to bring the future of fashion (and a bit of history) to a fashion doll line–In a REALLY fashionable way. When I look back at Bratz Rock Angelz, for example, I remember a time when everyone wanted to be in a rock band. I reminisce on the styles of 2005 through that line. Bratz kept a record of the trends. I loved that about them. No other fashion doll line is doing that right now. None are capturing our generation’s fashions.

MGA mentioned in the email that this won’t be permanent. But I’m done believing they will bring back the awesome Bratz they once had. They got rid of the original designer, the court cases exhausted most of their funds, and social agendas in the world are influencing MGA’s direction. The only way the Bratz could get back on top is if MGA had the money to get them there and a designer who understood the original designer’s vision.

My next best bet is that another company buys out the brand and makes it awesome. The likelihood is slim, considering “rights” issues and all, but it’s a hope of mine.

My other big optional hope is that the original Bratz designer will gain the rights to the dolls once again and take the brand to a company who will really bring the vision to life.

If the Bratz make a return in a couple of years, when people are feeling nostalgic, there are a few things they truly would need to make it successful. Back in 2001, Bratz suffered at debut. A couple of things were needed to help boost the Bratz reputation. Any future designers and producers of the Bratz should take note.

1. Advertisements with Animation, a Tasteful Tune, and with Girls 10 to 14 

The coolest part about the first Bratz commercial was the animation mixing with the real girls. It was very interactive, fun, and funky.

Having older girls in the commercials made it sassier. The Bratz wasn’t written off as something that was just meant for little children when people saw older girls in the commercials. With older girls, it clearly seemed to appeal to the Tween market. If felt like something tweens and teens could relate to.

The Tween market has a lot of power nowadays, especially when dealing with social media and current trends in general. They register the world more than smaller kids do. If you want to bring power to a brand, tweens and teens will more than likely obsess with it before children will. It will help the brand stand out, like it used to.

The new commercial failed to do that, which was why it failed to promote the Bratz very well. The only thing good about it was the song “What’s Up?”

2. Give the Dolls a Glossy Eyed Look with Nice Make-up

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Forget what feminists and soccer moms say. Make-up is and always has been ART, since Ancient Egypt. The Bratz used make-up in a very unique and artistic way in EVERY line. The glossy eyes added attitude and sass. They looked fierce and stylish.

The doe eyes make them look like deer who are lost in a forest. It’s bad enough people come after the Bratz for the head and feet. Now they hate the eyes.

Future designers should not let Tree Change Dolls intimidate them. Those dolls are are not examples of art or creativity, just something slapped together to push social agendas. There was no inspiration behind those dolls. I’m sorry, not sorry. Bratz need to stay away from lines that mirror Tree Change.

Bratz needs to stick with what they do best and they are best a defying expectations when it comes to style.

3. Cut the Girlishness, Bring the EDGE

I’m sorry, but if Bratz is going to be back on top, it also has to appeal to the boys, like it once did. Bratz was for everyone. You won’t believe the number of MALE fans! Why? Because Bratz was not afraid to step over boundaries.

The one thing that annoys me about many doll lines today is that they only come with SKIRTS or DRESSES. Where are the pants? The jeans? The tomboys?

The cool thing about Bratz was that they always came with one skirt or dress and one pair of pants (unless it was a formal line). The mix and match potential was endless.

The line choices were inspiring, too. Bratz had a rock and roll line, a punk line, a gothic line, a spy line, a Tokyo-inspired line, and many other creative lines. They weren’t girlish or babyish or cheesy, like the new lines have been (Yes, that Selfie line was cheesy). They didn’t just borrow from the runways, but from the underground sub-cultures that made Bratz seem fun and dangerous, yet stylish. I had given suggestions to MGA in 2014, suggestions I knew only the Bratz could pull off. They seemed excited, giving my suggestion a thumbs up on facebook and approving by email. After 2014, MGA seemed to have forgotten my suggestions.

Or perhaps retailers just didn’t approve (I quickly learned how much power retailers have over the doll industry). In this case, Bratz need better marketing strategists.

Finally, Bratz do best in darker shades, not bright colors. It’s fine to add some variety to the color palette, sure, but mostly stay away from bright colors. Color-blocking bright colors with darker colors would be a good idea.

Bratz tokyo

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4. Make an Interactive Website

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When I first got into Bratz, they weren’t even released yet. None of my friends knew about them when I became a fan. So how did I get them into the brand? Through the super awesome website of course!

The websites were always so interactive, even the first website. It had music, games, interactive bedrooms that introduced the characters, and other things. As Bratz got bigger, the website got better. But it didn’t take a whole lot of money to make a decent website.

With this generation’s obsession with apps, companies have put less value in websites, thinking they don’t matter, thinking that all they have to do is post an app and some news on their websites. NO. Kids who can’t afford apps will appreciate an interactive website where they can play some games. In fact, it will encourage kids to enjoy something OTHER than an app. And who doesn’t like games that are free? It makes the brand look better. It adds quality to the brand.

By reaching out to those kids, you are reaching out to ALL of the target audience, not just the ones that have cool android phones and tablets.

The last Bratz website was so sad and lonely. It had a plain white background, news, and boring apps.

5. Bring Back the Boyz Line

The thing that was always best about this doll line was that they didn’t treat the boys as just accessories to the girls. The boys had their own lines, their OWN clothing, their OWN accessories. Even the boys looked stylish and cool! No brand has mastered this yet! Bratz is the only brand that has catered to the males in this way.

Bratz_Wildlife_Safari_Boyz_Dylan_Doll

6. Keep the Core FOUR

Bratz started out with four, and were always more successful that way. It’s best to switch out characters for the fifth. Lines do worse when all four girls aren’t in them.

In 2007-2009, MGA made the mistake of focusing on the Closmins (Cloe and Yasmin dolls).

In 2015, MGA made the mistake of adding Raya to the core line, making it difficult to switch dolls out.

7. Maintain Quality

“Quality Over quantity” is a motto that rings true in the doll industry. I would rather high quality dolls than 10 lines a year. If that means coming out with less lines until Bratz is popular again, so be it.

When Bratz first arrived in 2001, they didn’t have a whole lot of lines. But the outfits and hair were amazing to the touch.

In 2012, Bratz lost their quality. The one plus to the 2015 reboot was that most of the lines had decent quality. With enough attention to detail and fine quality materials, the Bratz can be back on the map.

8. Bring Back the Old Bratz Bodies

The original Bratz bodies looked fine. There was never a need to add any extra movement or poses to these dolls. The shorter dolls looked more appealing and the bodies had more of a curve to them. Plus, they would be able to fit all of the old outfits.

9. Allow Buying Opportunities On the Company Website or Main Website 

I heard the biggest problem came from retailers. Apparently, they have most of the power over Bratz. They have issues with selling edgy dolls to children. I’ll bet most of these retail chains are full of soccer moms and feminists (which is why I’m against female designers for Bratz. I just don’t trust they will deliver.) I was told it was the reason so many prototypes had to be altered.

If retailers won’t accept the edgier dolls in their stores because of feminists and soccer moms, then MGA should be their own store. They should produce competition for retailers.

Sure, actually building a chain of stores would be difficult. It requires a lot of money. So instead, why not allow Bratz to be sold online, at the main website, right from the company? There should be a “shop” section. With so many people online, why not? It’s easier today with everyone connected to internet.

I suppose they want help with promotion and such from large retail chains. Still, if retailers refuse to sell certain “alternative” dolls, MGA should sell the dolls on their own website, just to give people better options. They have to make retailers want the dolls. They can better do that by taking the doll matters into their own hands.

With Bratz’s popular name, gaining someone to promote Bratz wouldn’t have been too difficult if they had just created a fierce doll line. Someone would’ve wanted to fund these dolls.

10. The Packaging

I don’t know what possessed MGA to the point they thought putting rainbows, ostriches, and emojis on the packaging would be a good idea. It might be the universal “Digital Age”, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to see emojis everywhere. It seemed like whenever MGA tried to be up-to-date, they seemed more out-of-touch.

The packaging used to be unique. Each package fit with the theme of the current doll line. Some almost looked like purses, too. For instance, the Pretty N’ Punk line’s packaging had one chain at the top, to make carrying it easier. That became a trademark for Bratz.

Bratz 2001 website

The Bratz may not have had a good year, but Bratz had one of the longest runs of any fashion doll line next to Barbie! Bratz have been a successful doll line for more than 10 years! That is a victory in itself.

Enjoy a slideshow full of the Bratz’s doll line creations!

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Enjoy all of the commercials that have come out over the years. My, have things changed.

 

Enjoy the Bratz music!

Want to test your Bratz knowledge? Try my Bratz Quiz!

Bratz Quiz: How Much Do You Know?

Well, that about wraps up this discussion. So Bratz fans, what do you think of the news? Are you heartbroken Bratz are leaving? Happy that they won’t look bad anymore? Mixed in your feelings? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. And if you have any more suggestions on what you think would make the brand better, please share!

😦  (2001-2016)

Betty Spaghetty Makes A Return in 2016

18 Jul
Artwork by Jordanswintart @ deviantart

Artwork by Jordanswintart @ deviantart

Betty Spaghetty is due to return this August, just in time for the fall quarter. The newer, re-vamped version has appeared at the Toy Fair and it seems a few people were able to share their findings on Youtube.

For those of you who don’t know who (or rather what) Betty Spaghetty is (probably those of you who were not ’90s kids), Betty Spaghetty was a line of bendable, stretchy dolls meant to look spaghetti-like, only with funky, colorful clothes and various facial expressions. It was a way to play on the fact that kids often ‘play with their food’. You know how kids add “faces” with different food items onto their sandwiches? Or maybe play “Godzilla” with their dinosaur crackers? Yeah, same concept, only this time manufactured into a toy line.

Elonne Dantzer was the genius who brought these dolls to life. Her real inspiration behind Betty Spaghetty was Lego toys. She wanted to create a “girls’ Lego” (before Lego Friends came to stores), playing on the fact that you can put Legos together and take them apart to create things. The character was meant to be “cartoonish” in style, with a very expressive face and bendable body, something little kids could really enjoy. She was originally supposed to be “Bendy Boop”, but after a test session with a little girl, she became who we know today.

Ms. Dantzer explains more about it at The Blade.

The Ohio Art Company, the company who took on the idea, first brought these dolls to stores in 1998. The main ‘Betty Spaghetty’ character was a blonde, perky teenager who loved fashion (Hey, this was the 1990’s, okay? You can only expect the stereotype), but she came with friends and a little sister. The dolls were rubbery, including the hair, which was fun for kids who loved to style hair. The hands and feet were removable. They had various accessories as well. In each box, Betty had a new facial expression, which was always my favorite part of the doll line.

Betty Spaghetty was discontinued in 2004. Back then, there was strong competition in the doll market (With a strong push by most toy manufacturers to appeal to the tween market at this time, Betty, targeted to kids as young as four, didn’t stand a chance).

Betty tried to make a comeback in 2007, but she had no luck with sales. I guess the world wasn’t ready for her return just yet. And of course, the internet didn’t create much of the sensations it does today.

Now, the dolls are slated to make another return. Let’s see what’s happening now.

My first thought was…Lalaloopsy Girls anyone?

lala-girls_zpsfee56e76

I watched the Toy Fair video, saw pictures of the dolls, watched the commercial, and visited the official website. I’m still certain that this revamp is a new product with the Betty Spaghetty brand stamped on it for press coverage.

First off, the new dolls are no longer created by Ohio Art. Moose Toys is now in charge. They created the Shopkins and there is a striking resemblance between the Shopkins and the new Betty dolls. I guess that’s why they took over the Spaghetty dolls. They’re a company known for putting “faces” on normal grocery items…

Now that there’s a new company involved, there are several differences between the original Betty Spaghetty and the newer dolls. The differences I see really take away the charm the brand once had. I have a problem with companies that try to revive something without really understanding the essence of what they are bringing back into the world.

There is only one pro that I see: Betty is more diverse in her presentation. And it’s not like the original Betty Spaghetty didn’t have many friends with different ethnic backgrounds and shades. But they were clearly sidekicks. Originally, blonde “Betty” got all the attention. Now, Betty is mostly customizable and she often has different hair colors, like blue hair. This relates to a wider audience.

Of course, I’m only looking from an early perspective. When they arrive on shelves, I may have better opinions about them.

The real problem is that not only am I unimpressed, I’m simply not feeling nostalgic with this release, either. So, who are they literally trying to appeal to here? I don’t understand who would want these dolls with so many other more interesting ones floating around and with the original Betty Spaghetty floating around on the second market.

These dolls just don’t feel “Betty” enough. They literally seem to be reaching with this comeback. Let me just run down the significant differences for you.

1) She’s Not Truly Bendable Anymore

maxresdefault (1)

Yes, these dolls are not truly bendable. Even in the video above, the commercial, and several pictures, it seems like the presenters struggle to bend their arms and legs for an easy bendable pose. Betty Spaghetty is supposed to be tall and lanky and spaghetti-like. She’s supposed to be noodle-skinny. She was so thin, you could add beads to her arms and legs. These girls are short, with big heads and a body proportion that rivals Monster High, Ever After High, or the re-vamped Bratz dolls.

Really, the presenter showed no effort in demonstrating Betty’s bendable poses. It’s probably because that was the last thing considered when making this doll. They clearly wanted to emphasize the fact that these dolls have a ‘mix-and-match’ function. The only thing noodly about these girls is their rubber hair. Whoopie.

The arms and legs on these dolls only manage simple poses. The only thing familiar about the body is the rubbery feeling.

6

 2) The Doll Clothing Lacks Funk

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Update: Originally, I wasn’t fond of the clothes because I thought they were boring. I mean, can you blame me? That Toy Fair did nothing to boost Betty’s reputation.

However, I’m not excited about the new dolls either. They aren’t as boring as they once looked, but they are still more boring than Betty originally was. They just lack funk.

The 1990s is over, I know. But I think the funky style suited Betty well. Betty Spaghetty dolls are supposed to be teenagers. These new dolls’ outfits look made for little girls. They’re colorful, but not cool. I absolutely dislike blonde Betty in a “princess” costume. Ugh.

These outfits are just too typical.

On the main website, it looks like they have 12 dolls released so far: Chef Betty, Cupcake Betty, Princess Betty, Fairy Betty, Popstar Betty, Cafe Lucy, Skate Lucy, Beach Zoey, Hula Zoey, Ballet Betty, Pink Ski Betty, and Blue Ski Betty.

A sister brand to the Shopkins for sure…

Though they revamped some of Betty’s older lines, like the ski line, it lacks all the flavor of the original. Blonde Betty herself is super “feminine” and is not the fashionista she once was.

They still don’t have tons of jewelry or the make-up that Betty had, which made all of her clothes pop, made her colorful, and even more FUNKY.

Betty always reminded me of Claudia from the Babysitters Club, if any of you all remember the series…Her style was just so original and cool.

The new Betty Spaghetty dolls aren’t ugly, just too sweet and childish for my tastes.

 

images 518UP+Cc3jL._AC_UL320_SR268,320_

Even the first revamp had a better selection. I’m sick that it didn’t take off the ground like it should’ve…Especially after seeing these new dolls.

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3) Their Faces Lack Expression

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Betty Spaghetty had many different facial expressions in every release. Sometimes she would look surprised or excited or happy, and other times she would look solemn or even scared. She seemed to have a little personality all her own. Her lips weren’t the only things that GAVE her personality. Her EYES even gave her personality.

The new dolls? Not so much. First off, they have noses. The original Betty was cartoonish, as intended, and didn’t have a nose on her roundish, shiny face. The new “Betty” seems like an attempt at a CGI cartoon.

The new dolls’ expressions are all pretty much the SAME. There seem to mostly be three types of faces: solemn smile, regular smile or chipper wide grin. The eyes are all the SAME. They lack color as well. Betty and her friends used to have individual expressions and often those expressions were related to the line they were released in. The new Betty dolls all look…the same.

They’re not wearing make-up, so they don’t have any extra art or color to their faces, aside from some blush to make their cheeks rosy. And it’s not bad to be fresh-faced, but the new dolls don’t look as funky, colorful, or creative as the original Betty.

Panda17188 @deviantart.com

Panda17188 @deviantart.com

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4) They Don’t Look Like Teenagers

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Betty Spaghetty was tall, wore makeup, and shopped. She looked like a teenager. Her clothing lines reflected a teenager. The new Betty Spaghetty dolls look like kids. I’m not going to say all teenagers should be tall and lanky, but the clothing and lines for the new Betty dolls (like the hula outfit, the inline skating one, etc) look like something a child would wear. At least bring back Betty’s essence. Being a teenager is far more glamorous for kids. Why? Because it’s something they can…IMAGINE. They can’t imagine being who they already are. That’s the problem with toys like this. They lack imagination. They lack vision. They lack creativity.

Do you really expect me to believe that “ballet-princess-fairy” Betty is a teenager? 😄 I don’t think so.

I know Betty Spaghetty was always directed to children 4 years old and older, but these dolls don’t seem ready for playtime no matter the age. The only things kids can do with these dolls are braid the hair and change the clothes. The accessories are not ugly, but most of them are common in any toy line. The bodies aren’t even bendable. It’s not like you can put beads on the arms. They are too thick and don’t bend. Boring. I can’t see any kids wanting to play with these toys for long.

5) Betty is not Really Blonde Anymore

popbetty

It looks like one blonde doll is still in the line as Betty, but according to the main website, there are TWO types of “Bettys”. One has blonde hair, the other has blue hair.

This is kind of confusing and I think this is bad. People will be looking for blonde Betty which will take away sales from the blue-haired doll. Why didn’t they give her a new name instead of making two Betty dolls? They have Lucy and Zoey. I just don’t understand why there needs to be two dolls named Betty.

The sad part is blue-haired Betty has better clothes than “princess-ballet-cupcake-chef” Betty. The new blonde Betty is girlish and childish, while blue-haired Betty is a “popstar” (though gag me with the fairy one) and takes on Betty’s “ski line”.

Chefbetty.png

I understand the diversity thing, but Betty was known as blonde. Even in the commercial, I saw blonde Betty getting the shine among the other dolls, but then at the end, I see the blue-haired doll…

Maybe they want Betty to have diverse hair colors? Which is cool and all, but the problem is the dolls’ facial expressions and skin are not that diverse. Most people will decifer the differences by hair color, and most people assume blonde Betty is Betty…

MOOSE_TOYS-Logo_hi-res_highres

It seems like companies are out to revive the 1990’s. Companies are out to revive old products in general because lately only popular brands sell well in the toy market (and just about every market today). But I feel if these companies lose the heart of the brand, there’s no way they can truly revive a product the way they wish.

Perhaps Moose recognized that Ohio Art had been unsuccessful with the original re-vamp and felt that they should try to design and market Betty dolls differently. But I doubt these will do any better.

I’m also considering the fact that Moose couldn’t make their new dolls like the original Betty. If Ohio Art still kept the copyrights to the original design or the original creator pulled the original designs, that would mean Moose had to start their designs from scratch and would have to make their Betty dolls look different. I feel that if they couldn’t get hold of the original designs, why make these dolls?

I think it’s just time to hang up on Betty Spaghetty. The new generation hardly plays with dolls, but the dolls they do enjoy have an even bigger brand name in the toy market with the proper marketing tools. If Moose Toys make Youtube videos for Betty like they do for Shopkins, maybe they will reap some success. It already seems set up for a CGI release or something like that. But I doubt it will stay popular for long.

Visit their website www.bettyspaghetty.com

As more information is revealed, I will be updating this article.

What are your thoughts readers? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Ever After High: Is Darling Charming Apple White’s “True Love”? I Don’t Think So!

16 May

darling and apple

In this “progressive” age, there is recently a push for films, tv shows, and even webisodes to be more “inclusive” and universal. This means not only are people focused on race, culture, religion, and gender, but also sexual orientation.

Ever After High webisodes, inspired from the dolls, can’t even escape from the pressure to conform to the latest trend.

Iphone 5 Ever After High wallpaper

A little summary on the EAH series: The series follows the descendants of popular fairytale characters who attend the high school to follow in their “parents'” footsteps. Throughout the series, however, they learn that they can be in charge of their own destinies. Apple White is one of the main characters and she is adamant about following the “Royal” destiny, the destiny written for her in the Storybook of Legends (basically a contract in the fairytale world), which encourages her to live out her life like her mother (Snow White) did. Raven Queen is her polar opposite in every way. She is represented as the “Rebel” deuteragonist. She was supposed to become the Evil Queen and villain in Apple White’s shining tale, but has decided that role doesn’t “fit” her. She is actually a “good girl”. She has “rebelled” against the Storybook of Legends and decided to re-write her own destiny.  In the movie Way to Wonderland, Raven Queen ripped out the pages of the Storybook so that she and other characters could write their own stories. Though the series was originally advertised as showing two different points of view, the actual series has mostly leaned toward the “rebel” side of things.

The Ever After High characters are all teenagers. Their high school was created by the “Grimm Brothers”, based off of two real-life German storytellers who were among the first to actually collect and publish the fairytales we know today. Of course, their versions were always more gruesome.

dragon games

In the recent Ever After High movie Dragon Games, Apple White had been choking on a piece of poison apple (given by Raven Queen’s evil mother). She ended up passing out (like Snow White did in the story). Daring Charming, her supposed “true love”, tried to kiss her, but his kiss didn’t work. So over struts Darling Charming, his heroic sister determined to be a knight. She gives Apple White “CPR” (which many think was a kiss). There is a magic light and then Apple awakens. This seemed to many to indicate that Darling Charming was actually Apple White’s “true love”.

This may seem like a proud day for the LGBT community. In so many respects, it is. It really is one of the few moments where two females in an animated show actually touched lips. It’s a step forward in showing children that the act is very normal.

But as progressive as it seems, I highly doubt that the creators really intended to turn Darling Charming’s “CPR” into Apple White’s “true love’s kiss”. There are several indications in the webisodes and throughout the movie that reveal the REAL intentions of the scene.

As told in recent fairy tales, “true love’s kiss” can only work when the person kissing the princess has prior romantic feelings for her. In Apple and Darling’s case, neither one of them have ever shown signs that they were romantically “in love” with each other prior to the CPR.  Therefore, how can it be that Darling is Apple’s “true love’s kiss” in this case? The only “loving” feeling Darling Charming has had is the love of friends…and it was that love for one of her friends that led her to try and save Apple’s life.

Friendship is a recurring theme throughout the Dragon Games movie, as with all of these movies and shows nowadays. With Frozen proving that the love of a sister is more powerful than romantic love and with My Little Pony‘s “Friendship is Magic” motto, Ever After High wants to use the same effective message to increase the bond of their female characters. They seemed determined to prove that the love between friends was just as powerful, if not more powerful, than “romantic” love.

Second, as the series seems to lean toward the “rebel” side of things, it’s also likely that the movie seemed to be showing that “true love’s kiss” isn’t necessary and is basically non-existent. Though it’s still considered pretty “magical” in the fairytale world, it is really looked at as an outdated joke, especially among those characters that want to re-write their own destinies.

Third, let’s look at the scene in totality. Yeah, sure, when the “kiss” (or CPR) happened, there was a magical “light” and she ended up coughing a “heart” out. But if Darling really was her true love’s kiss, wouldn’t the surrounding characters have reacted in a stronger way? “True Love’s Kiss” is a big deal in the fairytale universe (even if it is seen as mostly a myth). Darling Charming, as well as all the other characters in the movie, treated the whole scene as if it wasn’t a big deal, not as if the characters assumed Darling was destined to be Apple’s “true love”. Everyone was happy that Apple White was “saved”, but they didn’t acknowledge or question why Darling was the one to awaken Apple. Darling didn’t even think anything of it. Usually, when something is emphasized, like “true love’s kiss”, the narrator usually highlights it so that all surrounding viewers can fully understand what is being implied. But in this scene, the other characters (Even Darling!) just laugh it off nervously and make Apple believe it was Daring. As the series is continuing to encourage that all characters can write their own destinies, this scene seems to be another nod to that revolutionary idea rather than the idea that Darling is her “true love”.

The magical light and the coughed-out heart could’ve been the aftereffects of a broken spell. I believe the irony was the fact that true love’s kiss wasn’t needed and that a simple, unmagical solution, such as CPR, was enough.

On Darling Charming’s profile, she states she likes “guys”. How could Mattel “intend” to make her Apple White’s “true love’s kiss” if they already set up her profile that way? Even if she was into girls that are pure of heart, Apple White has shown herself not to be “pure of heart” in any way (And I theorize that she’s REALLY the evil Queen). I mean the girl is vain, looks in the same magic mirror that the evil queen once used, manipulates people and situations to achieve her own selfish desires, and does not have Snow White’s features (“hair black as ebony wood” is missing).

Finally, the scene in Dragon Games scene seems to be a play on the Grimm Brother’s story of Snow White. After all, they are the ones who “created” Ever After High.

The reason why most people have associated Snow White‘s story with “true love’s kiss” is because of Disney. What is irritating is that most people are only familiar with Disney’s version of these tales. It was my main gripe with Alice in Wonderland. Trying to explain to others how the 1985 Alice in Wonderland version was the most accurate adaptation is still a challenge…

The original story of Snow White mirrors Apple White’s situation in the movie. In the original Snow White tale, Snow White also choked on a poison apple. No one could revive her, NOT EVEN THE PRINCE. Snow White was actually awakened by the Prince’s SERVANTS! While carrying Snow White’s coffin, they stumbled on some roots and the poison chunk was lodged out of her throat

Read about the original story here: Grimm Brother’s Snow White

Considering Ever After High puts a lot of emphasis on “changing” destinies, the confusion surrounding the tales fit with the EAH series in a strange way. Because there are so many versions of these fairytales, it further shows that the characters have many destinies they can follow and can even write their own futures. If we were to assume that the “kiss” (CPR) makes Darling her “destined” true love, it would contradict with the message behind the Dragon Games movie and the message of the whole Ever After High series. That message encourages the characters to decide their own futures. Therefore, Darling is only Apple’s “true love” if Apple feels she should be. At this moment in time, Apple has not shown any romantic interest in Darling before or after the scene.

An EAH fan brought something to my attention as well: What may have lead Apple White to believe that a “kiss” was in her destiny may have been due to the fact that her mother told her a distorted view of her own tale. Snow White was asleep when the poisoned apple was lodged out of her throat. She really didn’t know WHO saved her! In the story, all she saw was a handsome prince standing before her. He did explain what had happened but from his perspective. She may not have known that a bump in the road is what saved her life. If Apple White were to truly follow in her mother’s footsteps, the reality is that Apple White is NEVER GOING TO GET “TRUE LOVE’S KISS”. But seeing as the story focuses on choosing our own destinies, hopefully she discovers that she can create her own “happy-ever-after”.

One fan of EAH, Sorafanchick,  made an interesting comment on Youtube about the controversy:

My theory is that in the EAH universe their  “destinies” are actually moreso “written destinies” rather than literal fate. These were “written destinies” in the Storybook Of Legends that characters were at one point forced to fulfill. These written “destinies” were formed into a contract and placed in the Storybook of Legends.  By signing The Storybook of Legends, each character was supposed to seal their “written” destinies, vowing to live just as their parents did and vowing to follow the laws of the Fairytale world. Remember Legacy Day? But when Raven tore the pages out of the Storybook of Legends and gave it to everyone in the Way to Wonderland movie, this allowed everyone to write their own destinies and make their own choices as to how their destinies should be fulfilled. This also gave Apple the freedom to choose how her destiny will be fulfilled.  Of course, Apple has always been more conservative than the others.

In the movie Dragon Games, which of course, comes to us a few years after the original “Legacy Day” webisode, the Dragon Games movie teaches Apple White that even if she does follow in her mother’s footsteps…how she chooses to go about doing that is her choice.  This means that she doesn’t have to do exactly as her mother did to gain the same results of “happily ever after”.  She learns that she can still fulfill the destiny “written” for her, and yet still she can also choose how and when that “written” destiny will be fulfilled.

I will also talk about Apple’s excitement with “true love’s kiss” and what may have happened as to why she believed this would happen in her future if she chooses to live like Snow White.
In the original Snow White story, I don’t believe Snow White actually KNEW how she awakened that day. (It is only the readers that are made aware that a piece of apple was lodged in her throat). The only thing Snow White saw when she awakened was a handsome prince standing over her. So I believe in the EAH series that Snow White believed her prince awakened her, thus she may have told Apple that a Prince will awaken her with “True Love’s Kiss” as well (with Snow White still actually being unaware of how she herself was awakened).
I believe that Mattel played on this trope, too. When Apple White awakens she is a little bewildered and then she also wakes up to see Daring standing over her (just like her mother Snow White did). Apple then asks “did my prince wake me up?” lol Only her friends know that she was not awakened by the prince, but Apple is left not knowing how she awakened.

Raven’s mother wanted to force the “written destiny” to be fulfilled, hence why she sent a poison apple and hence why the things transpired the way they did in Dragon’s Games.  This caused Apple to temporarily fall into the same situation her mother once was in.  Just as Raven’s evil mother wanted. But the difference is that the people around Apple make their own dreams and destinies come true, and instead of waiting for destiny they took matters into their own hands. Rather than wait for destiny to be fulfilled (with [the prince’s servants] carrying Apple or a Prince’s kiss), Apple’s friend Darling, who is the most heroic and clever of the team, realizes that there may be another way to awaken Apple White.  She decides to use CPR so that Apple White can cough up the poison. In turn, this saves the day.

I do believe that sometimes Mattel does play around with the literal fates of the characters. lol The reason for this has a lot to do with Mattel wanting to highlight the character’s fairytale stories while still giving each character their own free will to choose how the story will end or begin.  After all, mostly the characters are identified more so by their respective fairytales rather than anything else in the EAH franchise, right?  So some things will seem a part of their “destinies”, simply because the characters are meant to represent certain fairytales…which means there will be bits and pieces from their original fairytales inculcated within the webisodes and movies. Their original fairytales were how they were born and how they became to be who they are as of right now. This is why Apple White pretty much ended up in the same situation as her mother at that one time.  But how she was awakened and how her story at that time ended was totally different from the original Snow White story.  This shows us that how the characters’ own personal story is told in their FUTURES, regardless of their pasts or regardless of their origins, is still entirely up to the students of EAH no matter how many times their parents try to force their “written” destinies upon their children. We are ALL influenced by our own past and origins…therefore it will always be apart of our world…but what we do with our past and origins is actually entirely up to US.  We can’t control our past and origins, but we can control our futures.  I think this is the lesson The Dragon Games was teaching and really what the entire EAH series is teaching us.

I don’t believe Darling Charming was set up by Mattel to necessarily be Apple White’s destined true love.  If this is what Mattel wanted, they would’ve given more hints and there would have been some sort of astonishment from Apple White’s friends about it.  But nothing was said.  In fact, Darling herself was not astonished that she was the one to awaken Apple. Even if actions do awaken true love instead of the being itself…, still I would think that the characters and especially Darling would have given a bigger reaction than they did. After all, being someone’s true love’s kiss is usually a BIG DEAL in the fairytale universe, right?  But because there was hardly any reaction to this scenario that took place, to me this means that Darling’s CPR was not meant to be something important to the destiny of both characters.  To me, this means Mattel didn’t intend for this situation to mean anything life changing…hence why they never made the characters react to the situation.

No one was astonished that it was Darling that awakened her.  Darling herself was not astonished or amazed or questioning why it was her instead of Daring, either.  Instead, everyone carried on as if it was no big deal.  And usually in movies and stories when a person awakens their “true love”, doesn’t this cause the characters to feel some sort of connection?  Darling just moved on and didn’t really care. She performed CPR and that was it. Her mission was completed.  That is how it felt to me.  And then no one else really cared to say anything and everyone just kind of chuckled as if they realized “True Love’s Kiss” was not needed after all.  This also led me to believe that the characters did not see this as “True Love’s Kiss”; that Mattel was not technically trying to imply Darling is Apple’s true love. The casual reaction from everyone led me to believe that Mattel wanted to play on storybook tropes, using empowering feminist messages that men are not the only ones who save the day; that other women can too in their own special way. Mattel has always encouraged that women can also save the day, and in this case they wanted to show that Darling Charming has her own way of saving Damsels in distress.  Instead of a kiss, she used something as simple as CPR to do the trick, which actually turned out to be what helped.  She defied storybook stereotypes; that only true love’s kiss can awaken the princess….I think this is what Mattel was intending to show in this regard.

For both lesbians and non lesbian women, the situation still redefines the idea that a princess must always be kissed by a prince. 🙂    I just do not think it was Mattel’s original intention to make Darling Charming Apple’s true love in the future, and my reasons why are as I stated above.  If anything, I believe Apple and Raven have a stronger future together than Darling and Apple. Even one of the producers have acknowledged this pairing on tumblr.

And I agree, regardless of the intentions of the creators, it still really is a step forward. However, I believe that companies are still trying to “play it safe” and stick to friendship stories. Now, if this was Raven kissing Apple…then I believe it would mean something.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

For all the most up-to-date information on Ever After High: Royal & Rebel Pedia is the best wiki for it!

Black History Month For Children: Learning Black History Through the American Girl Beforever Collection

1 Feb

Martin Luther King’s birthday has passed, and black history month is here, and so the focus may be on “black pride”.

Many children today really don’t understand their history, or rather don’t care about it, whether they are African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian, Native American, Jewish,  etc. It’s a shame that I even had to witness African American children fall asleep during Dr. King movies. I’ve witnessed this recently at a school. They really take for granted the privileges they have obtained thanks to him. MLK would roll over in his grave if he could see how some of our young African American children are today.

The American Girl dolls and books to me are a great way to educate children about their history in a way that relates to them. Through the eyes of three nine to ten year old girls, children can learn to value their history, to be proud of themselves, and to work hard to achieve great things. I’m proud to announce that American Girl has added three African American characters to their Beforever line: Cecile, Addy, and Melody.

I’m not telling you to go out and purchase an expensive doll for black history month. But maybe you could read a story with your child, or get them one of the books from the library. Some parents don’t realize how important it is for children to know their history, but knowing what others have gone through helps them to develop admirable and likable qualities, such as compassion, empathy, understanding, and intelligence. They realize that everything isn’t going to be handed to them, and that it is up to them to make a future for themselves, no matter how challenging life gets. Children who understand history learn to appreciate what they have and to be content. Every privilege we have today-modern technology and political/social freedoms-we have because someone from the past worked so that we could. We also look to the past to learn for the future.

All of the characters in the American Girls series have something to teach kids. This month, we’ll be focusing on the African American characters.

Meet Cecile

Cecile‘s stories take place in 1853, centering around New Orleans, Louisiana during the worst outbreak of Yellow Fever in the city. While the story is fiction, many of the events in the stories really happened, such as the Yellow Fever epidemic and the city-wide Day of Prayer. Cecile is a wealthy French girl of color living in the French Quarter. Cecile shows a new side to African American history. While most children know of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, many do not know that there were rich black girls living prosperous lifestyles in the South. They are often not taught about the rich black culture that has existed in the USA prior to the Civil War. Cecile’s story focuses on the struggles she faces trying to help her family and her city find healing during a traumatic epidemic that hushes the lively spirit of New Orleans.

Though Cecile’s stories are shared with Marie-Grace, a poor white girl, Cecile still has a significant role in each story.

There may be several things that may concern readers when observing reviews of the stories. I always say consider what you can take from the series rather than focus on the negative. Perhaps I can give some suggestions that may make the introduction to these American Girl books easier.

“I don’t think this is good for black history month. Her stories are shared with a white girl.”

Cecile’s stories teach several things about black culture, even though her stories are shared with a white girl. While most of the world thinks most black people were either poor slaves or oppressed individuals who could only find poor housing and poor education, Cecile’s stories introduce a whole new side to black culture. Denise Lewis Patrick herself said that while researching, she found it surprising how freely people of color interacted with other races and how some black people lived in lavish circumstances.

Having a white girl share her story further teaches girls how different things were for black people in New Orleans before “Americans” entered the city. Though places were still segregated, people often mingled together at public events. And black people often had no strong desire to mingle with white people because it truly was “separate but equal”. Schools, ballrooms, stores, and other places were just as amazing for black people as they were for white people!

Slavery still existed, and of course slaves felt inferior. But wealthy black people owned large plantations in New Orleans full of slaves as well.

Through Cecile’s friendship with Marie-Grace, both girls learned to set aside their differences and see each other for the “content of their characters”. This is not only a good lesson for black girls, but girls of other ethnic backgrounds, too. I think this was exactly what MLK would’ve wanted. I think the series still teaches black history while bridging the gaps between two different races.

Some people may be concerned that Marie-Grace outshines Cecile in these stories. I can assure you that isn’t the case. Three books are dedicated to each girl. And Cecile plays a huge role throughout Marie-Grace’s stories as well. Just seeing how Marie-Grace reacts to Cecile can also give insight into the character and the time period.

“This book seems to gloss over the actual struggles blacks have experienced in the USA.”

Black history doesn’t only consist of struggle and hardship. Just as it’s important for children to recognize how hard black people fought for equality, it’s important for children to know that they can rise above any oppression if they work hard enough. It’s important for black children to recognize that they also have a rich history with a rich culture.

Many black people may not be able to relate to this era in time. That doesn’t the series has nothing to offer children. This is an opportunity for them to actually learn.

I think one of the most interesting things about Cecile, the main character, is that she speaks French. This series shows that African American girls of that time period were well-rounded and quite cultured. Who knows. This may encourage other black children to learn French. Even though these stories don’t teach about racism largely, the books have many other things to teach children regarding black history and culture.

But I would like to point out that racism is discussed, along with other forms of prejudice, throughout this series.

“Cecile, the main character, acts a little spoiled and self-centered.”

The American Girl stories, like any stories in the world, are full of a diverse group of characters. Of the three black characters offered in the line, Cecile stands out. I think it’s great that she isn’t “Miss Perfect” in every way, just like real girls. But throughout the series, Cecile learns to be more thoughtful, compassionate, and generous. Children today are pretty privileged in comparison to many girls who lived in the past. We all are! Children today don’t have to work. They can go to school. Most children can ask their parents for toys, games, I-pads, cell phones, new clothes and shoes, and other luxury items. They are very much like Cecile, where the smallest things can mean a lot to them. I feel that Cecile relates to black children in this way.

I think Cecile’s stories can help children of all backgrounds step outside of their comfort zones and learn about other cultures. These stories promote tolerance and diminish racism and cultural ignorance. By promoting these values, we establish peace. The next generation can move into the future with open minds if we help them open their worlds. Why not start with a story like Cecile’s? Keeping this in mind, I think her faults are forgivable.

Events like the Yellow Fever brought different people together, even those who were unlikely to be friends. This shows that all of mankind has the ability to pull together when it matters most. During disastrous events like Hurricane Katrina, another event that struck New Orleans hard, and other natural disasters, children can relate to the struggles Cecile and Marie-Grace had, but can also find healing much the same way the girls did. These stories can help young girls cope with these events through child-size perspectives.

Reading along with the American Girl curriculum guides can really help teachers and parents as they read the stories to children: Cecile’s Book Guide

Meet Addy

Addy‘s stories take place from 1864 to 1866, centering around Raleigh, North Carolina and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the Civil War. While the story is fiction, many of the events in the stories really happened, such as the Civil War, Robert Lee’s Surrender, and The Grand Review. Slavery also existed, as we all should know by now. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was supposed to have freed the slaves in 1863, the year before Addy’s stories, much of the South saw themselves as a separate nation. So they ignored the Proclamation. Some slaves didn’t know about it because they couldn’t read about the news and no one would share information with slaves for fear they would run. But word eventually got around, prompting many slaves to try and escape their plantations. Many slaves were eventually freed by Union soldiers. Addy was raised a slave girl during this time. She and her mother planned a daring escape North in her stories. Addy’s stories focus on her life as a slave and her struggles as she and her family try to build a life for themselves as newly freed people of color.

There may be several things that may concern readers when observing reviews of the stories. I always say consider what you can take from the series rather than the negative. Perhaps I can give some suggestions that may make the introduction to the American Girl books easier.

“My child is very sensitive. Some of the things in the stories are too harsh for young children.”

Think about this: While your child is too “sensitive” to hear about real events, little girls like Addy actually had to suffer through torture and pain during this era. No one was around to “shield” them. Many children today go through such things, especially in other countries. “Sensitive” children are the ones that can make a difference in the lives of those suffering. I don’t think it would be right to try to “protect” a child from learning about events that can help them become a mature, compassionate adult. It’s best to protect them from things that will actually make them bratty and spoiled or physically harmed. Addy’s stories may hurt your child, but that shows that the stories reach your child. It’s not hurting them in a negative way. It’s teaching them to appreciate their freedoms. It will inspire the child to think outside of the box and grow a love of tolerance rather than hate. More than likely, your child knows wrong from right, and with you reading the stories with her or him, you can explain how some of these things are wrong.

While there are a few sensitive moments throughout the series, there are many happy and positive moments, too. There are also scenes that children can relate to. If you can get over the beginning of Addy’s stories, she really does have some happy endings.

“My child is still learning English. Addy doesn’t speak the proper English and I don’t want her speaking the way Addy does.”

“I can’t read this book. The vocabulary is horrible.”

Well we’ve reached a dilemma. How can someone teach the realities of slavery to a child when slaves didn’t really speak the way we think they should have?

This is exactly what has always been the problem and why black history is hardly taught in schools or anywhere else. And this is exactly what slave masters wanted long ago.

Addy and other slaves couldn’t receive an education, so they learned English by ear. Because of this, white people would look down on them. They wouldn’t hire them for jobs or listen to them when they spoke up on political issues. They sounded “uneducated”. So even though many were freed, they were still barred from living prosperous lives because they were looked down on. This was a part of racism.

I don’t think that parents should encourage such prejudiced attitudes by refusing to read Addy’s stories to their children. Instead, I think this presents an opportunity to teach your children how valuable education really is. After all, this is a history lesson, not an English one. History is taught through the accounts of many people, whether they spoke the way we think they should have or not. Even museums have journal entries written by people who don’t quite speak what we would consider “proper”. If your child already recognizes that Addy’s speech isn’t quite right, then there’s no reason to be afraid that Addy’s stories will make him or her speak “horribly”. They must already be at an age where they know the correct grammar. So, it’s your job to help your child understand Addy’s situation and help the child to understand that Addy really wanted to learn so people wouldn’t look down on her. And you can encourage your child not to look down on people just because of the way they speak, act, or dress. Perhaps you can also discuss how her snobby desk partner, Harriet, looked down on Addy for those very reasons, which further shows how hard it was for newly freed people.

The reality is that slaves lived this way. If you hide it from your child, you are allowing the child to grow up ignorant anyway. What would you rather do: Read about history and have a discussion about things the child doesn’t understand or prevent the child from learning about an important part of history to shelter the child from Addy’s “speech”?

Some time in your child’s life, your child may run across people who don’t speak English so well, even in school. There are no slaves in the USA today, but there are immigrants that come into the United States. Perhaps this can open up a discussion about helping students who don’t speak English well or a discussion about children who have been barred from receiving a decent education in the USA and worldwide. Perhaps you can encourage your child to develop a tolerant and empathetic attitude.

I want to add that while Addy and her family don’t speak English “properly”, the narration is quite solid.

Addy’s books are targeted to girls 8 and up, an age where they can understand the material, so reading it to any child younger would make things more complicated as well.

“Addy fits all stereotypes and makes all black people seem poor and uneducated.”

Let’s face it. Whether you hate or like stereotypes, this was the way many African Americans lived in this time. This isn’t like some Disney princess story. This is based on real history. Most of ALL black people came to America as slaves or indentured servants, and they all had to fight to be seen as “human” in the USA. There is no reason to be ashamed of that. It only shows how strong African Americans really were and only shows how far black people have come. To have endured such oppression and still thrive and survive is something we all should admire. There are other African American characters in the line that aren’t slaves, but we still have to face the fact that slavery existed. There’s no sense in brushing it under the rug, as the saying goes.

Though black people didn’t receive a “European-style” education, they weren’t dumb. They had to be very clever to outwit their slave masters and escape. Addy is very smart herself. She struggled hard to learn, but she worked hard and learned fast. She was able to rise to the top of her class in less than a month, even winning a spelling bee! She kept her mind sharp by solving riddles and guessing games. Her father was clever enough to devise a plan to help his family escape. Though slave masters tried to keep slaves ignorant, they couldn’t take away their ability to learn. Children today who struggle in school can learn from Addy’s example. Addy struggled but, by studying and asking for help, she was able to be a great student.

There are also black characters in Addy’s stories that have shown they were not poor and uneducated. Miss Dunn was a teacher and Addy’s desk partner, Harriet, was the smartest and wealthiest in the class. But should we look down on people who are poor and uneducated?

Addy’s stories teach girls not to judge people by outer appearances, status, or even the way someone carries themselves. By judging based on such superficial information alone, we create the same dividing lines that destroyed our nation during the Civil War. The North looked down on the South. The South looked down on the slaves. None of the sides could understand each other.

I really feel that through Addy’s stories children can recognize how lucky they are to have freedoms other children didn’t have. They can also learn tolerance. Help open your children’s minds by sharing Addy’s stories.

And she’s such a sweet girl to boot.

Reading along with the American Girl curriculum guides can really help teachers and parents as they read the stories to children: Addy’s Book Guide

american girl melody

Melody is American Girl’s newest African American character. Her stories take place from 1963 to 1964. Her stories focus on life in Detroit, Michigan during the Civil Rights Movement and 1960’s culture. While the story is fiction, many of the events really happened, such as The Walk To Freedom, The March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom, the Children’s Crusade, and the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. Famous figures make cameos throughout the stories, such as Langston Hughes, Diana Ross, Berry Gordy, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Melody is a normal, suburban African American girl. She goes to school, plays with her friends, and attends her church every Sunday, much like children today. She comes from a large family (Baby Boom) and shares a connection with each member of her family. Her stories focus on black people’s struggle for equality in the USA and the role children played in the struggle for civil rights.

There may be several things that may concern readers when observing reviews of the stories. I always say consider what you can take from the series rather than the negative. Perhaps I can give some suggestions that may make the introduction to the American Girl books easier.

“The events in these stories are too scary for my child.”

Keep in mind that the children in these stories have had to face far more than reading a book about harsh realities. Many of these children fought for equality bravely and deserve to be honored. Many of these children gave up their lives. Perhaps these stories can be inspirational for your child. Perhaps these stories can teach your child to appreciate the freedoms we have in the USA. Push your children to inculcate love in their hearts for people who are different. Instead of shielding them from reality, help them to cultivate qualities that can help prevent some of the tragic things that happen in the story.

Many children in the 1960s were like children today. They were innocent. But events happened that tore children’s lives apart. It’s better when their parents hand it to them with an open discussion rather than “protecting” them with false expectations and lies or worse-the power of “omission”. There are ways to teach children important events without traumatizing them. There are ways to teach them about history in an empowering way. But we can’t act like these things didn’t happen. It’s best to teach our children early, when they are impressionable, events that will help them grow into respectful, compassionate adults.

You can’t get any more censored than the American Girls. Of all the history books in the world, they truly give history in a way that doesn’t sugar-coat the truth, but also in a way that relates to children. Don’t be afraid to introduce harsh subjects to children.

Still, these stories are geared towards children who are 8 and up. Though events can happen to any child, keep in mind that is the target age.

“I’m apprehensive about reading the Civil Rights era. Most stories and accounts make all white people seem evil.”

White people may have this concern. I understand it may be hard to face such evil scenes mentioned during the stories. Everyone knows that this wasn’t the fault of all white people. Still, such hatred existed and such attitudes even exist today. Looking to the past is important because it helps us to fix our mistakes and create a better future for humankind. If we all worked together and overcame our differences, imagine what we really could accomplish as a HUMAN race. Of course, we don’t want to stay stuck on the past, otherwise we’ll never create a future. Still, by reading about the Civil Rights Movement, we learn to develop love and tolerance. That is the black story. Through all of the African American characters, love and tolerance are important themes.

Civil Rights wasn’t just for black people, either. Imagine how many white people couldn’t marry a black person, or an Asian person, or someone Hispanic, even if they were in love with them. Segregation and racist laws even infringed upon the rights of white people! There are many white people who suffered and died because they said something that seemed “tolerant” towards other races or spoke out against racism.

Other nationalities were also oppressed and benefited from the Civil Rights Movement, such as the Native Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish families, and those of Latin American descent. Black people were the leaders of the movement, but it wasn’t a movement that only benefited black people. This is why it was an important event in the USA.

Women may have also felt inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. Many women had to push through gender boundaries in the 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Many women today are still striving to make their mark on the world, so girls today can still relate to this movement..

Why did people have to fight for something so simple as civil rights? This is a question you could ask your children to make the topic easier.

Luckily, for you more sensitive souls, Melody lives in the North where legal segregation no longer existed. Still, racism did.

Aside from the topics on racism, though, Melody is actually a normal girl that I think any children can relate to. She likes flowers, music, getting pampered at a salon and spa, and spending time with her sisters. In fact, I think she and American Girl’s Maryellen, the 1950s red headed character, have a lot in common. If people didn’t make such a big deal about race, I imagine girls like the two of them could have been the best of friends!

Children may find that the events in Melody’s stories mirror some events they hear on the news in modern times. Melody’s stories can help children transition into serious subjects that they may even hear in their daily lives. Events in the story can help girls cope with modern day events that have affected children, such as the Sandy Hook tragedy or even some of the rioting going on right now on behalf of race and against police brutality or even the Charleston church tragedy. Children may have questions about such events, and Melody goes through some of the same trials children face today-only she lived in the 1960s!

Reading along with the American Girl curriculum guides can really help teachers and parents as they read the stories to children: Melody’s Book Guide

Even if you readers don’t want to jump on the American Girl book bandwagon, don’t forget to honor all of the black leaders who,through intelligence and courage, found a way to make life more free for everyone. If you ever want to learn about black history, now is the time to do so.

Though all of these girls come from different times, their feelings, struggles, and victories are very similar to children today.

Bratz Controversy: Fans in Outrage Over “Female Voice” in Bratz Music Festival Vibes Commercial

28 Jan

bratz mfv

Bratz has revealed their all-new Bratz line: Music Festival Vibes. The new commercial brings back some of the edgy “funk” that was present pre-2007. The dolls have been “spiced” up, bringing the Bratz at least one step forward towards their original glory days. The outfits are a little more original and gaudy than outfits that were released last year.

Bratz fans were given a chance to vote on which voice they felt would fit the new and “funky” Bratz Music Festival Vibe commercial best.

Many fans were shocked to find that the “female voice” was chosen over the male voice.

Controversy

According to most fans, the male voice clearly “won”. They felt that MGA took it upon themselves to choose the female, disregarding the voting. Some fans see this as a sign that the company cares nothing about fans’ viewpoints.

MGA claims on Facebook and Twitter that “voting and research” shows them that the female voice was preferred.

Voting Process

Through some Youtube videos, like this one:

fans had to “like” to vote for a male and “comment” to vote for a female in this video. However, many fans who wanted a male also commented…No one is sure whether that affected the voting process or not.

Fans could also vote on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

No one is sure how MGA came to their final decision. Did they just observe how many comments were IN the comments’ section without actually reading the comments? If this is the case, they missed all of the comments that actually said, “Male”. Did they do a vote among the company and included their own votes?Did they read blogs and message boards about it?

The “research” that MGA is talking about remains unknown.

I know I never posted the voting process on this blog, regrettably. After skimming through comments, it seemed like most people chose the male…

Why did fans want a male voice instead of a female voice?

It’s the same reason why people wanted “Nerf” (the company who came up with the Super Soaker) to make “Nerf Rebelle” for girls.

Many people felt that if any doll line could break social-gender boundaries, the Bratz was the group of girls that could. There are many MALE Bratz fans as well. They felt this was the perfect opportunity to show the world that it’s okay for males to like dolls, just as it’s okay for females to like sports. If they had put a male voice in the commercial, it would’ve sounded “edgier”, like the Wild Life Safari commercial. It would’ve been revolutionary because most doll commercials have “female voices” promote the commercials. It would’ve been original.

Now, they are leaving it open for the competition to take the most ingenious idea ever and run with it. This could’ve been an idea that could really promote the Bratz.

But there were some fans that wanted a female voice. After all, females can be “edgy”, too. Many young girls thought it sounded as if the Bratz themselves were singing the song. They also felt it didn’t sound as “creepy” (?). Some fans liked the “sassy” feeling in the girls’ tone of voice.

My thoughts

I’ve given up on the possibility that MGA could make the Bratz the revolutionary line it used to be. I feel that having a male voice, considering how original it is, should’ve been the main choice and shouldn’t even have been up for debate or discussion. If MGA wants to put Bratz on the map, they are going to have to learn to take risks, as they once did. They need to start looking for innovative ways to promote the Bratz and help them stand out.

Nowadays, people are paying attention to things that “break social rules”. People want to see something “new”. Why do they think Frozen is such a big deal? It passes the Bechdel test. This is also why Frozen’s dolls are (arguably) having more success than most of the dolls in toy aisles.

But MGA seems to think (I should say, based on their choices and actions) that has more to do with the fact that they are two strong “female” characters. It’s not just that. The dolls represent something that is RARE in cinema. The Bechdel test suggests that there be “two females, who talk about something, other than a man.” Frozen passes this test.

Among doll commercials, it’s quite common to hear female voices narrate for dolls. Where is the “revolution” in that?

I think too many people shame males who like dolls. That kind of commercial would send a very positive message about accepting people’s differences and it would make male fans feel “included”.

Still, I think the female voice itself sounds really good. It sounds like a “Bratz-y” song. It’s much better than the other commercials for Bratz. I’m actually really impressed. I’m really impressed with the Bratz Music Festival Vibes line itself.

Now, all they need to do is bring back the “glossy eyes” and the Bratz will be back to normal!

So, readers, what do you think? Do you think MGA made the right choice? Do you think MGA should have chosen the male voice? Leave me a comment and let me know! (And no, this won’t go into the voting process. It’s over. XD)

OR

 

MGA should just release both! How about it? 😉

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