Tag Archives: American Girl Beforever

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.

“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.

Rumored Hawaiian 1940s 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 interested in the rumored Hawaiian 1940s character. For those who don’t know, there is a rumor in the American Girl fan universe that another 1940s character from Hawaii is set to be released. Originally, the rumor was that she was Japanese, but with the recent trademarked name “Nanea Mitchell”, rumors have been reduced to just “Hawaiian”.

Nanea Mitchell

I don’t have any interest in another 1940s character, Japanese, Hawaiian, or any other. I feel, in my heart of hearts, that Molly fulfills my 1940s 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 1940s feels exhausted for me. To me, Molly has represented what most Americans on the homefront 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 homefront 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 1980s. 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 rumored Hawaiian 1940s character? Do you believe American Girl is running out of eras in history? Leave me a comment and give your opinion.

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.

American Girl and African American Beforever Characters: What does the future hold?

15 Aug

Rumors always spread like wildfire in the American Girl community. We are an enthusiastic group of fans. Our latest rumor comes from (basically) the confirmation that the newest American Girl Beforever character, “Beforever” being the name of the historical line of dolls from American Girl, would be an African American girl and that she is due to come out in 2016.

fb african american girl doll

This is all exciting news considering that this year Maryellen Larkin, an enthusiastic girl from the 1950s, has joined the American Girl Beforever group of characters.

Maryellen2

Two American Girls within two years? That’s quite a treat considering American Girl dolls are very challenging to produce. American Girl has many lines of dolls. They have the Beforever line of dolls that teach girls about history, a contemporary line of dolls, and the Bitty Baby line that favors younger children. Of all of their lines, the Beforever line is the most challenging to create. First, market research must be done to understand how they can appeal the doll to modern girls. Second, they have to find a time in history that is important for teaching and relating to girls today. Then they have to research the time thoroughly while still observing children because the history will be told from a child’s perspective. Lastly, they have to create authentic clothing and accessories that realistically fit a 9 to 10 year old girl (Though I can honestly say lately they’ve been slipping on that. Julie in platform shoes?).

But American Girl has somehow managed to work on two girls at once. They probably got a lot of practice creating those Best Friend dolls over the years (for those of you who don’t know, the “Best Friend” dolls were dolls that were the friends of the lead American Girl characters in their stories and usually accompanied the lead character in the collection). Now, fans don’t have to wait anxiously for the next new Beforever character. It’s exciting news!

Well, since the African American girl is basically confirmed, many have been wondering what time period she could possibly be from. Many speculate that she will be from Detroit in the 1960s. This coincides with the heavy demand for a girl who has experienced the Civil Rights era. With all of the current racial tension being the focus, many people feel that now would be the best time to release a character that touches on controversial issues such as race. This would make the character powerful for now.

But many also are still hoping for that 1920s Harlem Renaissance character, too.

I can honestly say that I’m stuck. I feel that if either comes out, I will be happy and disappointed. I truly can’t decide which time period would be more interesting for African Americans. And honestly, the sad part is, I don’t think American Girl would release an African American character for both time periods, though that would be ideal. So to give in to one time is to lose something precious historically from another. And the chances that they would cover an era twice (with a white girl and black girl representing these periods in history) is just weird and time-consuming…Might as well cover the era once…

As an African American, I feel both times may do many different things for the brand, but what each period does for African American girls will be different. What do I mean by that, you ask?

Let’s look at the 1960s, the most popular rumor.

The 1960s

People have made many interesting points about the 1960s girl being interesting. I’ve always been in favor of the 1960s prior to Maryellen’s release.

The 1960s is a very popular modern era. It relates more to modern African Americans than does the Harlem Renaissance.

The 20th Century is a big deal with children and adults alike. The possibilities for those “stereotyped” fashions are endless. When thinking of Maryellen, for example, people focused on a poodle skirt. Realistically, not every girl flounced around in a poodle skirt all the time and listened to a jukebox. These are stereotypes. But they did exist.

Likely with the 1960’s girl, many people are probably looking forward to fashions that may reflect more of a teenager’s look rather than a kid’s look. I’ve heard some people say they hope her hairstyle looks like something from the Supremes…Like a 9 to 10 year old girl would look like that in REAL life…

So people are not very realistic with their hopes and dreams regarding American Girl’s Beforever, but that doesn’t stop people from wanting American Girl to touch on a moment in history that strongly relates to the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of today.

The 1960s were an interesting cultural time for African Americans as well. The “Motown” era emerged when an all-black label helped transcend racial boundaries by producing artists that appealed to those outside of the black community. We have the birth of funk (James Brown, “say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud”). Talking about hippies? The sixties was the true era for that. The afro and all the colorful clothing marked the generation. Of course, we’re thinking about a child’s perspective here. The most she may have is an afro, and I’m inclined to believe she’ll have braids in her hair with hair ribbons.

Last, but not least, the 1960s were known to be a transforming period for African Americans because the Civil Rights Movement sought to equalize people of the minority group with white citizens, and many African American political and social leaders rose from this movement. It was an empowering time for African Americans and influenced many people throughout the nation and around the world. The efforts of African Americans/Black people in this period showed great accomplishment, intelligence, courage, and strength when it came to their use of the justice system during this period. It’s very American.

It also relates to modern African American children, who mostly understand their history through the Civil Rights movement and 1960s music.

People of other nationalities were also greatly affected by the Civil Rights movement. Desegregation moved black children into white schools, changing the environments that they were used to. Much prejudice had to be overcome in order to help this transition work. People of other backgrounds, such as the Native Americans, saw this movement as inspirational for their own Civil Rights movements.

Still, it’s obvious that the Civil Rights Movement mostly impacted African Americans, so it’s fitting for the newest Beforever character.

The 1960s weren’t all about Civil Rights and funk. The Beatles rock era and Bob Dylan/Joan Baez’s folk music influenced the sixties hippies as well. There are a lot of exciting things to get into regarding this era.

The downside to this era is that, when dealing with African Americans, this era focuses on the negative side of being black in America. It heavily brings out the same problems Addy had: racial oppression. Again, the story focuses on black people being held back versus prospering and inventing. It doesn’t show how African Americans influenced all of American culture. Instead, it shows how racial tension and oppression influenced black people. This is the strength I’ve found with covering the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. The history is more positive in that era.

The content may also be controversial. This may scare away certain ethnic backgrounds and the sales of the collection may suffer for it.

I also don’t like that the doll is being released so close to Maryellen, the white character who is just 10 years prior to 1965 (assuming that’s where the era would begin if the new girl is from the 1960s). We saw how promoting two girls of different ethnic backgrounds can be when they are from the same time when it came to Marie-Grace and Cecile. Though Maryellen and the new girl wouldn’t be from the same time, they are near one another in very popular moments in history. Having the two girls fight for the spotlight can be rough when it comes to marketing.

The 1920s

The 1920s shows the elevation of black people and focuses on the positive side of African American history.

If you want to know the truth, there isn’t any 1960s without the 1920s. The 1920s were the first time, since the Civil War, black people were able to receive an education, find opportunities to prosper, and grow into the modern African Americans we know today. Know any Black people who live in Harlem, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, or Los Angeles? You can thank the Harlem Renaissance. Many African Americans lived in the South prior to the 1920s. Big cities began sprouting upward. Schools, libraries, office buildings, and parks sprouted up all over the big cities in the nation. African Americans moved into the inner city areas which were becoming more affordable for living. With all the modern technology came a social-cultural explosion in music, art, and literature.

In Harlem and other northern cities, many African Americans saw the benefits of their freedom. Many black people owned their own businesses in the North. There were black-owned stores, black-owned libraries, and even schools.

The libraries were the biggest contribution to the black community. Education laws made school mandatory and African Americans benefited from having access to free books to help them study. They began to learn about the laws in America and began taking steps toward “civil rights” through organizations like the NAACP. The rise in education helped give rise to many poets and even to great literature.

One of the biggest parts of the 1920s was music, even outside of black communities. The 1920s were often coined around the world as the Jazz Age. Guess where Jazz originated? In the African American community! Many people do not give credit to African Americans for this fun, modern music that made the 1920s glamorous. But without African Americans, Jazz music wouldn’t have made the 1920s as “roaring” as it became.

The 1920s didn’t just affect African Americans or Americans at that. Big cities around the world, such as Berlin, Paris, and London caught on to the modernized lifestyle. This is why a 1920s girl would be more appealing to others than a 1960s doll. Many African American dolls don’t sell as well as the white dolls. A lot has to do with the fact that most of the African American dolls lack “glamor”. The 1920s were such an exciting moment in history, it would really make African Americans look good. I’m sure the fashion choices would be lovely, though, maybe for a young girl, not too different from Rebecca.

Sure, most people know about Prohibition, flappers, and gangsters, but from a 9 to 10 year old perspective, they wouldn’t have been involved too heavily with these things. Still, the flappers showed that attitudes about “proper” behavior were loosening, especially regarding women. Even the men loosened up.

Home decor became a thing in the 1920s as well. Automobiles started replacing carriages. And the radio stepped into people’s lives.

Women were able to vote for the first time. Imagine how this influenced the modern black woman!

People also began focusing on celebrities and sports stars for the first time. Movie theaters and sports stadiums brought attention to talented individuals in these fields. All-black teams were created, which greatly influences the black community to this day!

Certainly the 1920s can relate to anyone of any background. Because of this, I think that a black girl in this time won’t just be looked at as “the black girl” who fights “racism”. She will be looked at as the American girl, the girl that can relate to any girl no matter their background.

While I know American Girl will only choose one of the two eras for next year, I still hope both eras are eventually represented by African American characters. I often doubt that American Girl is that open-minded and I often get the feeling that, in the future, the 1920s will be represented by a white girl. I would be sorely disappointed if I find a white girl dancing to Jazz without proper respect to the African Americans who brushed in the genre.

From the rumors, it looks like the new American Girl may be from the 1960s, which is really great. But I hope they don’t get rid of Addy because her story touches on racism. There are hardly any 19th century girls as it is. Josefina and Addy are the only two. I also hope that this doesn’t stop them from making an African American character from the 1920s. After all, there are many white dolls from many different times. Why not have many black dolls if they are more suitable to a time period? Anyway…

Which era in African American history would you like to hear? What are your hopes for the newest African American character and any future dolls?

Leave a comment in the comments’ section and let me know what you think!

American Girl Beforever Maryellen Larkin from the 1950s and Melody Ellison from the 1960s!

4 Jan

Rumors always spread like wildfire in the American Girl fan community. This is partially because American Girl fans often do their homework and find new leaks that start rumors. We have a lot of excited and eager fans. American Girl keeps us all on our toes. We can’t help it. We love this 18″ doll franchise with the historical dolls and contemporary lines that actually reflect real girlhood (rather than Monster High and Barbie dolls). Since the Digital Revolution, fans have been finding information about future dolls easily. Nowadays, the “surprise” American Girls are not really so surprising to most fans anymore.

Either the fans are excellent sleuths, or American Girl, LLC sucks at keeping their product ideas under their hats. If they had competition, they would really be in trouble because it is so easy to find out what they are releasing. But since they don’t have competition, I guess it really doesn’t matter. They have the strongest hold on the 18″ doll market.

It somewhat benefits fans when they know all of the information beforehand. For starters, American Girl is so expensive. When fans learn about new dolls, they know to save their money. By the time the new doll is released, fans will be able to get her as soon as she comes out rather than having to wait until she’s released to try and save up. If we had to wait to hear about new dolls, it would be hard on the pockets. By the time most of us would have saved up for one doll, another one would be on the way. The American Girl “sleuths” have actually been of serious use to the American Girl fanbase. I think American Girl feels the same way. When they release a doll, the doll sells faster the day of release when fans know about the doll ahead of time. I think this is why American Girl isn’t as tight with their information. They seem like they kind of want fans to know some of their secrets.

The only sad part about knowing all of the information beforehand is how it influences the kids. When I was watching “Good Morning America” for the Girl of the Year 2015 release, it was both funny and sad that the girls already knew what the doll was like. The American Girl, LLC president asked, “Do you girls know why you are wearing aprons?” And they all responded, “Because she bakes.” I don’t know why that was so sad for me, but it was almost like a child already knowing their Christmas presents before they even open them. It was like taking a child to Disney World and they tell their parents they know the real name of the man behind the Mickey Mouse costume. The magic, no, the childhood, is gone. It is so hard to surprise children today, thanks to the internet.

On the other hand, at least kids know their options. When the kids know a new girl is on the way, they will think carefully about the doll they want. They will also be able to tell their parents in advance the doll they want before she is released, which helps parents save carefully. Again, this benefits parents and adult fans mostly, who have to pay for the dolls. Well, this may also benefit those girls who save up their birthday and allowance money for dolls, too.

All of that being said, recently a new slew of American Girl rumors have resurfaced.

There are rumors about not one new Beforever character, but TWO new Beforever characters. No one is certain whether the two girls are the same, whether they will be part of the same collection (though American Girl has stated they are not doing the “Best Friend” thing again), or whether one of them is being discarded for the other. We do know that both girls sound interesting and that at least one new doll will be added to the new Beforever line within the next two years.

The 1950’s Strawberry Blonde Character, Maryellen Larkin

American Girl is all set to release Maryellen!

American Girl has stated, “She’ll inspire your girl to follow her heart instead of the crowd”, so she seems like the type of character that marches to the beat of her own drum.

American Girl Publishing, American Girl’s business website, goes into detail about her personality:

“Maryellen Larkin is an enthusiastic, imaginative girl growing up
in the 1950s—the era of poodle skirts, sock hops, and exciting
new steps in space travel! She longs to stand out but often feels
lost in the shuffle of her big, busy family. Her favorite TV shows
are Davy Crockett and the Lone Ranger, and she dreams up
episodes where she gets to be the hero. She finds fun ways
to help others, and even uses her birthday celebration for a
special cause—which ultimately puts her in the spotlight and
makes her stand out from the crowd!”

So, she’s another attention-seeking character like Rebecca and Cecile. 😄 That seems to be what they’re trying to sell to kids today.

From the boxed set, we learn that she is from Daytona Beach, Florida.

Maryellen2

Maryellen

Mary-Ellen-mini-doll-700x810

Such a beauty! It looks like they changed her starter outfit. I like the original dress better (and I liked the fact that her hair had more of a “red-ish” color in the prototype too), but she’s really cute and I want her!

Valerie Tripp is the author of the three books set for Maryellen. I love the way Valerie Tripp writes. She was the author of Felicity, Josefina, Kit, Molly, and three books for Samantha.

So far there are three books for “Maryellen” up for order:

The One The Only

maryellen book 1

Maryellen Larkin is nine years old and longs to stand out, but in a family with five brothers and sisters it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle! A painting mishap gains her some attention, but not the kind she’s been longing for. Being invited to stay in at recess and practice her handwriting earns Maryellen a new friend, but what does that mean for her old friendships? Then, Maryellen is wishing for a white Christmas like the ones in the movies (not very likely in Florida!). Will she find a way to make her dream come true?

Taking Off

maryellen book 2

Turning ten is a big deal, and Maryellen Larkin wants to celebrate it in a very special way. Will she choose a western theme or decide on a superstar celebration, or will the event turn out to be something even Maryellen doesn’t expect? And which party participant surprises her the most? Then, Dad comes home with a silver surprise and big plans for a family vacation. On the trip, what will Maryellen discover about Joan and her wedding plans? What will Maryellen decide about her own plans and “flying high?”
maryellen 3
 What if you suddenly found yourself in Maryellen’s world during the 1950s? How would your life be changed, what would you do to fit in—and, more importantly, what would you do to stand out? Join Maryellen on an adventure where the two of you can put on poodle skirts and head to a school dance (they were called sock hops back then!), enter a contest, or take a trip in a streamlined silver camper that looks like a rocket ship! Your journey back in time can take whatever twists and turns you choose, as you select from a variety of exciting options in this multiple-ending story.

Someone has done an entire review of Maryellen’s COMPLETE COLLECTION! Check out some of the items that will be sold!

Several things concern me:

  1. How expensive the playsets are! The TV console is $90! Uh-uh.
  2. The quality. What happened to the days when tables would actually be made of wood, and lunch pails actually felt like tin lunch pails? Velvet would be velvet and buttons would actually button?
  3. Maryellen’s play shirt doesn’t button like Kit’s Meet sweater used to. I really wish it did. Or at least put the Velcro in the back of the shirt. I just don’t personally like it in the front. :/
  4. I’m also disappointed that the TV console set is plastic. The encyclopedias are stuck to the tv console and so don’t seem like literal books. 😦 That’s no fun if you want to put them somewhere else, like on a desk or something…
  5. I also hate that the scarf is sewn together. That’s no fun. I would like scarves I could tie in funky bows and loops.
  6. All of the buttons on the jukebox don’t work. That kind of bothers me a bit because it doesn’t make playtime easy. First, you have to figure out which combos work first. I hate playing around with things and kind of want to make the most of the whole item. That completely turns me off from the jukebox.
  7. Most of them seem focused on the living room. Not much attention was given to a birthday set or the school set. I also would’ve liked some “character” items. Maryellen likes drawing cartoons from what I know and she likes rocket science. She also likes Davy Crockett and the Lone Ranger. I was perhaps hoping she’d have some character-story-ready items that introduced her to people and not just standard 1950’s items people could grab from the secondary market or make themselves. Kit had a baseball outfit and a camera for reporting. Addy had her doll Ida Bean. Maryellen only has a TV…It doesn’t seem like she will come with anything that pertains to her personality which is disappointing for me.
  8. Where is her bedroom set? No bedding? I was hoping that would come soon…

But other than the things I mentioned, I’m loving the ’50s theme. And I’m so glad they didn’t grab for cliches too much, like over-emphasizing poodle skirts by making each outfit have a poodle on it. This feels more authentic.

I’m so happy to see another ponytail red-head in the American Girl’s Beforever line.

Favorite things so far:

  1. TV console that actually plays a program. That’s just amazing. It’s cool that the music actually plays on the console, if I’m hearing correctly. My only question: Does this tv set play without an ipad or with different tablets like an ipad mini? If not, I may not like this playset as much…
  2. TV guide is so authentic and amazing.
  3. Maryellen’s mint green purse.
  4. I like the classroom set (though I would’ve loved a desk along with it).
  5. The let-out bed. I like that little detailing.
  6. Red hair! Strawberry blonde hair! Yay!
  7. Maryellen’s capri pants and school outfit. They are cute and authentic. Most of Maryellen’s clothes are appealing.
  8. Her hair set. Those curlers are really authentic, especially with the hair cap to keep the curlers in place.
  9. The lamp actually comes with batteries and lights up. Really cool.
  10. Haven’t seen the diner thoroughly, so I need to see it completely to really say I love it. But so far, I like what I hear. 😉 It has a lot of little details and accessories and that says fun to me.

The 1960’s African American Character, Melody Ellison

Melody has arrived! American Girl Publishing goes into detail about her personality:

“Melody® is a sweet, hopeful girl who loves to sing. She’s growing up in Detroit in 1964, a city filled with big dreams and big changes—from Motown to the civil rights movement. Melody is inspired by her family and by leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After experiencing discrimination for herself, she decides to add her voice to those who are speaking up about equality and making things better in her community.”

She has the Sonali face mold, shoulder-length hair, and brown eyes! Lovely!

Her collection has been posted at americangirl.com! She has many beautiful items!

Some of the things I love:

  1. Holiday dress and coat! It has been a while since I’ve seen an American Girl outfit with that quality. The gold is lovely and stands out to me. It is very sophisticated and very period-ready. And I’m so happy it isn’t pink or some fruity pastel color. That seems to be the trend in Beforever and it is annoying.
  2. The recording studio peaks my interest. The detail is very interesting and educational. I’m super impressed with it. I would like to add Melody’s piano with it. 😉
  3. I love the “picnic” playset. I’m glad they made a table and chairs for Melody, something missing with Maryellen. I love all the pieces that go along with the set.
  4. Melody’s pink floral dress is actually really cute! Though I’m not a fan of pink, the color is really flattering on Melody.
  5. Bo! I love that cute little doggy.

Things I’m disappointed about:

  1. I really was hoping for a 1960s salon and spa to go with Melody since it was so significant in her story. Instead, American Girl released a “Truly Me” salon. That’s fine, but it isn’t historical.
  2. Again, just like with Maryellen, very few character items. Melody has more character items than Maryellen, but I was hoping to see some items related to her love of gardening…
  3. The collection seems small, like it’s missing something. All of the Beforever characters’ collections have down-sized. In Melody’s collection, there aren’t any “school” items, which is really disappointing. I guess I could easily put Maryellen’s school items with Melody.

The collection is new, so there is plenty of room for it to grow. Time will tell.

I love the doll, though!

I’m surprised, though, that some of the responses from fans have been negative. A lot of people are disappointed. 😦 Which is bad. American Girl already thinks black dolls do not sell. In fact, most people think black dolls are ugly and don’t sell well in general.

I was really hoping this doll would be really appealing to many people. But so far, some fans have stated several disappointments:

She doesn’t have dimples. I don’t know why anyone ever expected her to have dimples. I know the girl on the cover has dimples, but so did Caroline’s cover girl. At one time, Kaya’s illustrations showed us a dimpled girl. But neither of the dolls turned up with dimples and instead went with a more “American Girl” look. Felicity’s covers always showed a girl with freckles, but the actual doll never had them. So why did people expect her to be any different?

Maybe that’s just it. To most people, she doesn’t look unique and so she isn’t appealing to most consumers. I’ve honestly felt that way about the dolls American Girl has been releasing lately. But I mostly collect the dolls with stories to tell, so I found Melody to look very unique. For those who are interested in the Truly Me line, she may remind them of #47. She has the Sonali mold except she has textured hair. I thought this mold was a favorite among fans. Guess not after the finished product. Some people were saying they wish she had the Josefina mold instead, which probably would’ve been more unique considering there are no dolls of color with that mold. Then again, people would be saying she doesn’t look “black enough” and that her features are just like a “white girl’s”…

The negative responses are bad for those who are hoping for more diversity in the future. Maybe this isn’t anyone’s idea of diversity, considering she looks like other dolls most fans have collected. I suspect that most fans are looking for dolls that have something unique about them, which is the only reason they will purchase a doll. Many are underwhelmed by her. If Melody doesn’t get a good response, her sales will decide the fate of any dolls of color in the future. This seems to be a test doll for American Girl. They didn’t want to risk making a modern doll, because they rely on those yearly sales to keep the brand afloat, but they wanted to see if this could be a success. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will be.

Her hairstyle looks odd. I was personally all for the braids. I was reluctant about the flipped hair. But after seeing her, I think it’s cute. Some people don’t like the bangs and feel they are too short. But looking at several pictures below, it looks like the bangs vary.

People who asked for an Afro…You just don’t really know 1960’s history, especially in the North. NO little girls walked around with Afros. MOST little girls had their hair in braids and, for special occasions, their hair straightened with a hot comb. Look at pictures of little girls in the 1960’s. You hardly EVER see them with Afros.

Her features look Caucasian. I’ve heard people tell me she doesn’t look black, which is ridiculous. Most of the dolls in the company don’t look like their ethnic background in every way. Josefina’s face mold has been shared by White girls, and it was originally designed for a girl of Mexican heritage. So why make a big deal about it?

With these ridiculous complaints, it’s no wonder American Girl hardly EVER releases dolls of color.

I just think American Girl should’ve reached out to fans more about their wishes. They should’ve had votes on several prototypes before the final project. This is a big deal. This doll will decide the future of American Girl dolls of color. This doll could also affect their 3rd and 4th quarter sales. Their sales have already plummeted 13%. If this doll doesn’t do well, who knows how this will affect the company. We are going to see smaller and smaller collections. They really should’ve made sure this doll was a major hit.

Maybe the doll could sell on her era alone, but I’m so sad that many people don’t feel compelled to buy her. 😦 Let’s just hope that some people change their minds when they see her in person.

I think the book gave people too many expectations. Then there were too many spoilers. They probably should’ve waited to release the book with the doll. With people having such high expectations, everyone was bound to get disappointed.

I’m personally happy she looks like a normal girl and not some made-up model (like Lea Clark, Grace Thomas, Caroline). I was missing Molly so much because she was one of the few dolls that looked like a normal little girl.

What do you readers think? Check her out at americangirl.com and let me know!

melody

CBS News takes lovely pictures of Melody's collection! (I was hoping for a Salon and Spa though)

CBS News takes lovely pictures of Melody’s collection! (I was hoping for a Salon and Spa though) Meet Melody!

Melody's Motown dress-CBSnews photos

Melody visits Motown! She loves to sing.

Melody

Melody's picnic set

I’m so happy she has braids here! So adorable! This is her picnic set.

Melody bedroom set-CBSnews photos

Melody’s bedroom set! Maryellen doesn’t even have a bedroom set yet…

Melody holiday coat Melody's holoday dress

 

American Girl Publishing website says that “she will lift her voice and sing out.” Her full description:

Melody® is a sweet, hopeful girl who loves to sing. She’s growing up in Detroit in 1964, a city filled with big dreams and big changes—from Motown to the civil rights movement. Melody is inspired by her family and by leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After experiencing discrimination for herself, she decides to add her voice to those who are speaking up about equality and making things better in her community.

NoOrdinarySound

 

No Ordinary Sound: Melody can’t wait to sing her first solo in church! What song will she choose? She gets advice from her big brother, who has his sights set on being a Motown star, and she gets inspiration from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Melody’s also inspired by her older sister, who’s home from college with new ideas about making life fair. What isn’t fair is their cousins’ struggle to buy a house. Melody learns that they’re not welcome in certain neighborhoods because they’re black. Just as Melody’s ready to sing, an unimaginable tragedy leaves her silent. Can she find her voice when it really matters? 

Alternate synopsis: Melody is an optimistic, enthusiastic girl growing up in Detroit, Michigan during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. She is excited and proud to share a special surprise with her family—she’s been chosen to sing a solo for Youth Day at her church! But what song will she choose? She gets advice from her big brother, and is also inspired by her older sister, but it’s the inspirational words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that help her pick the perfect song. There are many unfair things happening during Melody’s time, even to people in her own family. But it’s an unimaginable tragedy in the South that leaves Melody silent. Who can help her lift her voice and sing—who will inspire her to “keep stepping”?

NeverStopSinging

Never Stop Singing: Melody Ellison just turned ten, and she’s dreaming of new ways to make her community a better place! When her pastor issues a New Year’s challenge, she decides to fix up a neighborhood playground and plant a garden. But when her friends put her in charge, Melody finds out just how hard it can be to lead. From opportunities of a lifetime in Motown, to learning what it means to not give up in the face of setbacks and adversity, Melody discovers that working together makes everyone stronger.

MusicinMyHeart

Music in My heart: What would it be like if a girl suddenly found herself in Melody Ellison’s world in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s? Together, she and Melody could speak up about fairness, join a demonstration, volunteer with a civil rights group, or even use her voice to sing backup for a Motown musician! Readers’ journey back in time can take whatever twists and turns they choose, as they select from a variety of exciting options in this multiple-ending story.

The last name ELLISON brings to mind the Ralph Ellison book Invisible Man published in 1952. The book addressed many issues African Americans were facing in the early 20th century through a character who calls himself “invisible”. This excites me more!

Melody also has a movie that is supposed to be coming soon. American Girl already had auditions and picked the girl who will be playing Melody’s VOICE (another girl will play as her character)! She will be the first American Girl of “Color” to have her own movie!

Melody’s movie is set to be an Amazon exclusive “special” release. The movie is called Melody, 1963: Love Has To Win, An American Girl Story !

The project falls under a multi-year, mulimillion dollar production deal Amazon inked earlier this year with Mattel subsidiary American Girl to produce four live-action specials based on the company’s popular American Girl line of dolls and books.

Denise Lewis Patrick, author of Cecile’s books in the Marie-Grace and Cecile series, is the writer for the new Beforever character.

For Black History month, Melody might be able to introduce children to the Civil Rights Era from a child-size perspective:

—->American Girl Has Three Characters That Represent Black History

To read more about future possibilities regarding African American characters in American Girl—>Future African American Dolls

In Conclusion…

Are you excited about the new red-haired character and another African American character? Are you excited about the possibility of four new movies?

I love the idea that they finally created another red-haired girl. There are none in the Beforever line. As an African American, I also like that more African American characters are being added to the line. But am I the only one a little disturbed by the fact that there are no Asian girls in the plans? We have had two beautiful African American characters as lead characters in the line already. Felicity was the only other lead red-head in the line, so I can see why they are trying to make another one. Emily was only a best friend doll. Ivy was also barely acceptable as an Asian character, and yet, she was the ONLY Asian character ever released in the historical line. It’s sad really.

Want to see a funny video about the exclusion of Asian American dolls?

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/asian-american-doll/2836284

Well, I’m going to try my best to be positive about the new releases instead of thinking about what American Girl didn’t do right. Think positive…Think positive…

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the releases!

American Girl doll Girl of the Year 2015: Grace Thomas

19 Dec

Grace thomas 16Grace Thomas 2 Grace Thomas 3 Grace thomas 6 Grace Thomas 7 Grace Thomas 10 Grace Thomas 11 Grace Thomas 14 Grace Thomas 15

Grace Thomas 4 Grace Thomas 5 Grace Thomas 8 Grace Thomas 9 Grace Thomas 12 Grace Thomas 13

Pictures for the new Girl of the Year 2015 are out there, if you haven’t heard. It has been leaked on americangirl.com somehow…

*This article has been updated with the latest information.

She is a brunette character this time with a side-swept bang, and long hair. She also has freckles and blue eyes. I’m assuming they are giving her freckles because of Saige’s success, as Saige helped Mattel boost up 3% in 2013. I heard Isabelle was not doing as well…I can’t say I’m surprised…

Read articles here:

Mattel’s Annual Report 2013

Isabelle: Girl of the Year 2014

What do I think of the new Girl of the Year 2015?

I think she’s adorable. I like the fact that she is NOT blonde. Yes, American Girl, thank you.

I thought she would not be interesting because when I heard her story for the first time, it seemed a little messy.  This is her book synopsis:

“Nine-year-old GOTY is always thinking up big ideas, like starting a business with her friends over the summer! When Mom announces a trip to Paris instead, GOTY gets on board, but it quickly seems as if none of her plans are working out the way she’d hoped. She and her French cousin aren’t getting along, and GOTY’s friends back home have started a business without her. Can she find the courage to stay open to new ideas and turn the summer around?”

This synopsis attempts to be interesting by telling us the setting is in Paris, but it left me feeling confused. Thus, this story seemed all over the place, like it’s trying to focus on Paris, then all of a sudden the story jumps on a completely new subject, and starts focusing on the business. This story also doesn’t seem to have a solid “lesson”. It’s not clear what direction the story wants to take. Ironically, that seems to be a trait of all children’s story-telling today, especially the stories that come with merchandising, i.e. Frozen. You can read more about that here and here. Thus, I wasn’t really interested in the story at first. She doesn’t get along with her cousin, which sounds almost exactly like Kanani’s story. She wants to start her own business, which reminds me of Kanani’s shave ice stand. And also, her story is going to take place in a foreign nation, just like Jess’s story took place in Belize. I know there are huge differences between Belize and Paris, but it’s still an American Girl who’s story does not take place in America. To add, it’s such a “privileged” story. Not every kid can afford to take a trip to Paris…

There didn’t seem to be anything…unique about this story. I guess that’s the main reason why I wasn’t interested. It felt like it had already been told, and so the outcome seemed even more predictable than the average GOTY. And it kind of still does, but later on I found some more interesting sides to the story.

Based on the collection, it seems she wants to open her own bakery. I suppose traveling to Paris will give her the inspiration to create her own French bakery in America? Many chefs travel around the world to find food inspiration. Perhaps that’s what she will learn while traveling? That’s just a hunch. That would make the story ten times more interesting.

Qualms

Qualm 1: I know American Girl is eager to make use of the Parisian setting for their movie, but they are starting to appear like they are trying too hard to make a good movie. American Girl used to make movies based on the books, now it seems they have designed everything in a way where it appears the books are inspired from the ideas they want to put in the movies…And movies always feel less realistic than books.

The last GOTY movie I actually liked was Chrissa’s movie, and that’s because it touched on a real issue: Bullying. And it was realistic about it. Trust me. I work in education, and I have seen bullying at that magnitude. Despite how parents would like to see children, children can be very cruel…Moving on…

Qualm 2: Just like Isabelle, she is caught wearing pink as a signature color for her starter outfit. And pink has been sprinkled throughout the collection, too. (sigh, Attack of the Pink again…Another part of Mattel’s 18 Ways they Can Ruin a Doll Line).

Qualm 3: Am I the only one annoyed that the name “Grace” was used again? And to throw salt on it, she’s learning French, just like Marie-Grace. It’s a stabbing reminder of how they cast aside the NOLA historical characters. It’s also…been used before, and so isn’t so very creative. I, at least, hoped it would be the name of another historical character because it would mean that a historical character is on the way…And it would make the fact that Marie-Grace was removed easier to deal with. GOTY is only around for one year, and so that name will be out in the air all over again.

Qualm 4: She’s white…again. I’m not too mad, considering I’m fine with the concept they produced for her, but I don’t think American Girl is making the same impact with their GOTYs anymore. It’s time for them to shock the world and try something new. I think this is what will slam Mattel in 2015.

Qualm 5: Isn’t it a little stereotypical for Grace to be sporting a French beret? Like all French people nowadays walk around wearing a beret…Can we be a little more authentic, American Girl?

Pro

Pro: Despite my lack of interest in GOTY story-telling, I like that this girl is not a dancer or an athlete.  Sure, there were other subjects American Girl could’ve focused on, but this subject doesn’t seem too bad now that I have deciphered what the story may actually be about. At least she is a little entrepreneur. I also like the fact that they are teaching girls the value of hard work. Girls can do so much more today, and I think this collection will encourage girls to explore their options.

Pro: After seeing the doll in American Girl’s photos with her accessories, she is absolutely scrumptious! I’m not too excited about the pink dress. It sort of reminds me of Samantha’s dress for modern girls. But I ❤ that red “Love” sweater! I want, I want, I want! I also love that the bakery is a realistic color, blue and red. So, I want that, too. ❤ I half expected the bakery to be pink.

I heard…

Many people felt that American Girl did not live up to their expectations. Many people were hoping for an African American girl or a girl with a disability of some sort. I wrote a little segment about dolls of color here. I had no real hopes. However, even I will admit, there was nothing shocking about this GOTY. A GOTY of color would’ve made an impact.

Many people initially felt she looked a lot like Chrissa and Saige mixed together, but I think she looks beautiful with the combination of features.

I will admit, here we have your typical white girl, with the same tried-again features, with a done-again story. This girl is basically many GOTYs mashed together. But you also have to admit…She’s easy to fall in love with. It’s a bitter-sweet feeling.

Perhaps American Girl wanted Grace to have a mixture of old features. Young girls may not remember Chrissa or Jess or any other GOTY from more than 3 years ago. I suppose they re-used the features to reignite interest in the doll type and to bring the look into the modern generation. Still, it doesn’t do much for old-time fans. American Girl has a hard time bridging the gap between the old-time fans and the new fans. They are also having a hard time reaching out to people of color.

Overall, Grace isn’t everything anyone could want, but she’s a far improvement from Isabelle, the second GOTY dancer. At least they came up with an original concept for Grace.

American Girl shows more about the GOTY 2015 here —>American Girl.com

So, leave me a comment and share with me what you think so far, and your expectations for GOTY in the future. Do you think she’s a let down or were you surprisingly pleased?

Do American Girl dolls of Color Sell Poorly?

27 Oct

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Every year, American Girl fans anticipate the next American Girl Girl of the Year, the new annual modern doll that has come out since the beginning of the 21st Century. She usually comes with her own collection and set of books. What makes these dolls different from the historical dolls are that they reflect modern girls. The modern stories tend to lack the depth and length that the historical stories have.

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In January 2014, American Girl disappointed many fans with Isabelle, an inspiring dancer. She was very uninteresting to most folks. 1) Girl of the year 2005 was a dancer. 2) Isabelle was another boring blonde in pink. It’s not that American Girl is crawling with blondes. It was just too predictable. Fans were hoping for something a little more original. To add, her features weren’t very unique. She didn’t have short hair or a ponytail or pigtails. She was marketed in an unoriginal way. Everything about her reminded everyone of another doll released in American Girl. I’ve heard comparisons to Kailey, Julie, Lanie…Which can’t be helped. Sometimes, American Girl has to repeat itself. But did she have to wear pink and dance? No.

Read my article: Do Blonde dolls sell better?

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Many people are pushing for variety in the Girl of the Year line. A lot of people asked for an African American character. American Girl just now decided to create one in 2017.

Out of all of the dolls that have been released in the last 10 years, not one has been of African American descent. People were hoping that 2015 would be the year. Yet, there were many others who doubted American Girl would even try, including myself.

The question is: Why has Mattel waited so long to create a modern African American character? To put it honestly, black dolls don’t sell as well as the other dolls in the American Girl historical/Beforever collection. Even if you mosey on over to americangirl.com, enter into the “Shop” page, go under the “Bookstore” section, scroll down to “Historical Fiction”, and look at the word “Sort” and scroll down to “Most Popular”, Addy’s books are not even listed on the first two pages. At one time, when the other American Girl dolls were around (Kirsten, Molly, Felicity, Marie-Grace, and the Best Friend dolls), Addy was even further behind. Since those girls have been archived, Addy’s listings are higher in the books section. Still, the American Girl historical dolls sell low as it is. The minorities fall behind.

Go under the “Furniture” section. Addy’s bed is among the last of the Beforever listed. Addy is even among the last when you go under the “Dolls” section on the “Shop” page. Scroll all the way down to the “Dolls for ages 8+” on the bottom left-hand side. Go to “Sort” by “Most Popular”. You can clearly see that all of the Beforever dolls are popular at the moment, BUT the minorities are among the least popular in the collection. Imagine if Molly and Felicity were around!

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Many argue that this just doesn’t apply to African American dolls, but Asian and Hispanic/Latino dolls in the Beforever line as well. None of the minorities are on the first two pages of the “Historical Fiction” section. The first two pages consist of white girls. There are Caucasian girls listed on the back pages, but the only Caucasians on the back pages are the ones that are Archived. All of the minorities are right before them. Kaya, Rebecca, and Josefina sadly have even lower listings than Addy. And this is just for books, which are prices cheaper than the dolls.

American Girl has sold more than 147 million books since 1986. They have only sold a fraction of that number when it comes to dolls, 25 million to be exact, in that same amount of time. And Addy is not topping either list. Being at the bottom of the book list carries a different tone than the doll list, where they’ve sold less. So where does Addy’s world fit into both stats? You do the math.

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Since the Historical/Beforever collection is the “heart” of the brand, it is the main factor when American Girl Company is deciding what will sell or not.

This does not apply to the My American Girl line, where the black girls sell pretty well. More on this later…

The Beforever line seems to have the hardest time.

There could be two reasons for this:

1) American Girl Beforever does not appeal to African American children or households.

2) American Girl Beforever is too expensive, and minority families are less willing to pay the price for dolls.

3) The “majority” doesn’t connect with the minority enough to help support them.

As an African American myself, I have to say that, growing up, the first two points really struck my household as true. I was introduced to American Girl at a young age in the 1990’s. Back then, the prices were lower, but we still didn’t want to invest in these dolls. I got two dolls, and that was it. When I got older, I extended my collection. Most people I talk to that are of my same ethnicity say the same thing: “I am not spending that kind of money for a doll. My child will be fine with a Disney doll”.

Price is one thing, but the appeal of American Girl is not catching on to the African American community, either.

The reasons vary. They are not all related, either.

One reason is that the few American Girls that are black and a part of American Girl have provided stereotypical versions of African Americans for years. While Addy, the 1864 slave girl, exposes young black girls to a real part of African American history, some African Americans took offense during the time when she was the only African American represented (back in the 1990’s when she was the only black doll). Many African Americans wanted to be known for more than being uneducated slaves. They felt it was a hurtful and poor reminder of the oppression and segregation experienced by black people. “Like, why does the black girl have to be the slave?” They were ashamed of this. Other races are afraid to invest in Addy because her stories deal with racial issues so heavily. So, Addy was controversial since debut. Since African Americans didn’t take off with Addy, many didn’t follow the brand through. Many are just now hearing about the new doll, Cecile, the wealthy girl of color, and Melody, the Civil Rights Era doll because they only remember the brand when it had Addy, the slave girl.

I will say this is the same with Kaya. I get so many Native American people telling me they hate Kaya because she falls into stereotypes, though she represents a real part of their history and ACTUAL culture! It was the same with Ivy.

Addy (left, 1864)and Cecile (right, 1853)

Addy (left, 1864)and Cecile (right, 1853)

The truth is, as proud as people are of their personal heritage, many people want to be defined and labeled by something other than their ethnicity. They are struggling to find an American identity in this modern world, where race is no longer something that can define a person’s successes or failures as much as it used to. While people would be offended if their races weren’t represented, people would equally be angry if that doll was stereotypical in nature! And then people would be contradictory and end up offended if the doll wasn’t realistic or true to the culture at all! Even with Cecile, there were still black people who thought Cecile was glossing over the struggles of black people! Addy was too harsh, and Cecile wasn’t harsh enough!

Read More about that here: American Girl Black History Month

With so many divisions, this divides the money as well. Thus, the sale of the doll depends on how well she is executed. Most companies don’t want to take this risk. Thus, they risk less by omitting an ethnicity altogether.

The main reason why divisions occur inside an ethnicity could be because there are not ENOUGH ethnic dolls to represent a diverse group of people. Even black people are multi-faceted. There are millions of white dolls to represent the diverse viewpoints and personalities of various Caucasian people. With only one or two black dolls, black people are forced to connect with one of the two dolls based on skin or culture, even if the dolls are marketed in a way that doesn’t connect necessarily with every black girl’s personality or interests. If there were more black dolls, sales of minority dolls would increase, as people would begin to recognize the company as being diverse in their collection of “black personalities”.

This is very evident when we see the success of the Bratz dolls. The Latin/Hispanic/Jewish dolls sell far more than the blonde and white dolls. There are many diverse Latin/Hispanic characters to choose from, thus the sales of the Hispanic dolls have increased, and they continue to make more. Even Clawdeen and her whole ware-wolf family from Monster High, relatively dark-skinned dolls, are some of the best sold in the line next to the brunette Draculaura. Why hasn’t this success translated to American Girl?

American Girl struggles to connect with the diversity within one ethnicity. For instance, Addy is smart and family-oriented. A black girl who doesn’t like school or isn’t family-oriented would not connect with her. I connect with Addy because her skin is like mine, but as a writer, I can’t help but be drawn to Kit more. Black girls are not marketed in a way that reveals more than the color of their skin. Diversity brings more diverse customers. This goes for all of the other ethnic dolls. In order to find a middle ground, market researchers would have to dig deep and find out just what appeals to most ethnic children. However, many researchers would rather take the easy route. Many people just end up buying a My American Girl doll anyway, where children can make her into anything they want.

A second reason for the poor sales could be the way these ethnic minorities are marketed. The modern dolls sell more than the historical dolls as it is, but even within the historical line, the 20th Century girls sell better than the 18th and 19th Century girls. All of the Caucasian dolls sold within the 18th and 19th Centuries have been discontinued (Felicity, Caroline, Kirsten, Marie-Grace, Elizabeth). But most of the ethnic minorities have dolls that represent the unpopular centuries (Kaya, Josefina, Addy). Though dolls from the 20th Century have been discontinued, one (Samantha) has been brought back, and no one would be shocked if the other ones from the 20th Century came back. Therefore, it would be more advantageous for dolls of color to represent eras that existed in the 20th Century. This is why there was a push for a Civil Rights Era doll of color. Sure, you can argue that Ivy was from the 20th Century, and no, she wasn’t successful. But then again, she was just a “side-kick” doll without a collection all her own or a full book series.

American Girl also needs to take better care of the minority characters they produce. American Girl should give their next wealthy girl of color or their Asian doll a complete collection all to herself. They had the opportunity to make so many glamorous accessories and playsets for their last wealthy girl of color. Did they take advantage of it? No. They had the opportunity to make their 1970’s girl Asian. Did they? No.

In the modern Girl of the Year collection, American Girl just recently added Gabriela McBride. We can’t determine her success until the end of the year. But the ethnic dolls that have existed have been Marisol, Jess, Sonali, and Kanani. Jess and Sonali did not sell well. Marisol and Kanani did. I should say Kanani sold better than Isabelle.

Let’s observe the two dolls that didn’t sell well versus the ones who did.

Jess was not marketed in girlish, glittery colors like Marisol and Kanani, neither was Jess’s story appealing to little girls, though it was my favorite. It was also not a huge collection. But for once, Jess was recognized as the daughter of archaeologists, not the Japanese girl (though she is bi-racial)! And yet, people were still disappointed she didn’t have any items representing her heritage…

Sonali was a best friend doll. She represented a girl who was originally a snob and became a friend. Of course she wouldn’t be appealing! She had no story collection and was not the main character of the movie. She was also a side-kick doll, like Ivy. She only came with one outfit.

So, those two dolls didn’t sell well. But the other two dolls did…

Marisol was a dancer, which is appealing to little girls, and ballet is especially appealing. That’s why American Girl thought they could do it again.

Kanani was just stylish overall. She also had a summertime collection that could bust out the lively colors and outdoor accessories and playsets.

Four dolls, four different results, and different marketing approaches. But one thing is certain: We can’t determine the outcome of the sale of a doll that hasn’t been tried yet. We can only deduce how the company will handle it based on the execution of their other dolls. So far, the chances of success are there if the company tries hard enough. It’s difficult, but not impossible. They have had at least two dolls of color fair well in GOTY.

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There are other examples of American Girl’s success with dolls of color. If we go on American Girl.com, mosey on over to the “Shop” section, click the “My American Girl” link, “search the dolls by item” number, which is the same as pressing the “Start the Fun” button, you will see a list of dolls. At the top, you can sort that list in any way you want, but one selection is by popularity. The top three most popular dolls include a dark-skinned doll! In fact, the first page has two dark-skinned dolls and one medium-skinned doll listed! These three dolls are very popular, so American Girl is selling some darker dolls very well. They are modern. If they do what they did for these dolls, perhaps they could sell more.

If they gave the ethnic minority girls more appealing collections, lovable personalities, a movie wouldn’t hurt, and friendlier stories, girls (and their parents) would cave and buy them, just like they did with Marisol and Kanani.

On the same token, if the people themselves accept the doll, and she represents both the historical aspect and a modern aspect, perhaps both sides of an ethnic division could easily support the doll.

The newest Girl of the Year 2017, Gabriela McBride, may be just the doll to bring that flavor.

I still think American Girl should at least try its hand at producing more African American characters. If it doesn’t work, at least they will have the satisfaction of knowing they tried. Really, it doesn’t seem to improve much from having a blonde character. American Girl’s market share spiraled down 10% in 2014. Isabelle is the least sold GOTY, and she is blonde and pink! People are looking for change, and I think now is the time to give it. Even Lea couldn’t sell out in 2016.

My overall conclusion: The only reason the Beforever dolls sell poorly is because of representation, execution, and poor marketing. The black dolls in the My American Girl line sell better than the black dolls in the Beforever line.Therefore, the likelihood that a modern black girl could sell well is higher than if she’s in the Beforever line.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think? What are your predictions for future GOTYs?

Read my other article: Do blonde dolls sell better?

14 Ways Mattel Can Screw Up a Doll Line

18 Sep

I have been a fan of Mattel products since I was a little girl. At the age of six, I enjoyed endless hours of “Barbie Time” on Saturday mornings when I didn’t have to go to school.  I have been a supporter of them for YEARS. Even as an adult, I still collect their products.

I have been a collector of the Barbie doll, Generation Girl Barbie, Diva Starz, Polly Pocket, What’s Her Face, Flavas, Myscene, American Girl/Girls of Many Lands, Monster High, and now Ever After High. I’ve always been swept up in Mattel’s products immediately. They always have captivating ideas to work with when they first release a doll line.

But while I am a fan of Mattel’s doll lines, I have slowly but surely come to be frustrated with the ACTUAL company. I am not a fan of Mattel. I love their ideas, but I hate their maintenance practices. I collect many other dolls, like Liv, Ever Girl, Lisa Frank, Magic Attic Club, Global Friends, etc. Though many of those dolls weren’t as commercially successful as Mattel’s dolls, their companies have been much more decent. Sure, many of their doll lines didn’t last, but many times they never came back making the same mistakes over and over…

I also collect Bratz. Bratz have something that the other doll lines don’t have. MGA used to be that top-notch company that would listen to fans and implement change without destroying their doll franchise. Though lately, they’ve been headed down the same road…once they got a new team on board…

With Mattel, despite the many cool ideas they come up with, in the long run, Mattel follows one similar pattern that ends up destroying many of the beautiful lines they make.

On a positive note, unlike other companies who fail and give up, I admire the fact that Mattel doesn’t give up after they fail. They may lose one doll line, sure, but they always come up with new lines, and just try it all over again. And I always get sucked up one more time.

But then, the results always turn out the same. Why? Well, while Mattel is always making superficial changes and inventing new ideas, they never really change the CORE issues before they move on to new lines. The core issues may never be present from the beginning, but oh boy, I always start to hear the same complaints from fans later down the line. Many of these fans are not usually familiar with Mattel’s tactics and don’t often recognize why things are going so sour. But people who have been fans of all of their doll lines always know what to expect from this company.

It’s even more evident when Mattel’s sales have dropped. They have these “fail-safe” tactics that they feel will get them quick money, even if the ideas end up destroying the line in the long run. I call this moment the “Panic Strategy”. They come in 14 different forms.

To me, they are 14 ways Mattel Can Screw up a perfect doll line.

Attack of the Pink
Attack of the Blondes
Our Main Character is a Loser, so they’re Fired
Attack of the Tacky
Books and Blogs, Who Cares if they don’t add up?
Retirement and Poor Replacements
Inaccuracy, When Nothing Makes Sense
Failing Up-Grades
Flunk the Boys
The Red-Headed Curse
Everybody Sings and Dances
We’ll Never Be Rebels
Cheap Quality
Mattel Doesn’t Listen To You

1) Attack of the Pink

This is one of Mattel’s iconic “Panic Strategies”. Since their success of “pink” Barbie, they have deduced from Barbie’s “pink” success that girls must love pink an awful lot. It must be true for Mattel because all of their most successful dolls wear an awful lot of pink. The problem is that Mattel may see the success of ONE doll and apply that same color to the WHOLE LINE.

Though “pink” is a popular color among girls, I’m not going to say that every doll who wears pink will sell. This is where the strategy fails every time.

There is only so much pink a company can do before it gets redundant and sickening. Pastel Pink is a very frilly color that is hard to keep clean. Even though girls like it, it always ends up in the trash bin. The over-emphasized pink stamps out individuality and variety. It also sends out the message that everything “girl” should be one “pretty” color that identifies a gender, though we all know that “pink” began as a boy’s color…

I’m going to show you how often this happens using five examples: Diva Starz, Myscene, Monster High, American Girl, and the Barbie doll herself.

The Diva Starz line began as one of the first “diverse” lines that Mattel ever came out with. At the time when Diva Starz arrived on the scene, many companies wanted to make dolls that celebrated diversity instead of dolls that celebrated “white supremacy”. Mattel, unfortunately, had the reputation of highlighting blonde white dolls over ethnically diverse dolls. Diva Starz was their original plan to rid itself of that reputation. They were inspired from the Spice Girls, a very diverse pop music group.

Diva Starz began with each girl wearing their own unique color. The only girl who wore a whole lot of pink was Alexa. The other girls wore their own signature colors. Mattel usually starts off this way.

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Unfortunately, I suppose, the signature color thing “limits” the company’s creativity, so this ends up changing in the end all the time…

And what color did it change to? Well, the moment the Diva Starz’s sells started plummeting, what did they release? Another doll in pink! In fact, they translated pink to all their characters, no longer displaying the same diversity they began with! Instead of succeeding, however, it just made sales plummet faster until Diva Starz was a thing of the past. I am so happy that Diva Starz didn’t continue with Mattel because the pink would never end! I enjoy finding even more diverse clothes for them.

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Myscene was another doll line that followed Diva Starz in the same tracks. Myscene began as a competitor to the popular Bratz dolls in 2002. Again, Mattel was still trying to remove their reputation of being a “white supremacy” doll company by creating another diverse line of dolls. This time, however, many little girls had stopped playing with dolls much sooner than generations before. Many little girls were more interested in pop singers. Barbie was getting too “babyish” with all of the pink. The Bratz related to modern girls. So Mattel came with their “mature” doll line, Myscene. Myscene were prettier versions of the Bratz and more stylish versions of Barbie. They were very multi-faceted and not stereotypical at all. They had their own diverse personalities and interests. Their fashion styles had many urban details. They were meant to portray New York styles, which they did quite well. Even though they were still Barbies and Barbie was still the lead character, they almost didn’t feel or look like Barbies. Barbie didn’t wear pink. She wore many various colors, most of which were not pink.

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But then the lawsuits came from MGA. This put a damper on the doll line. Mattel was losing money from these court cases and sales began to plummet. What was Mattel’s solution? To replace Barbie with Kennedy. Now, they thought this was a good idea. Their logic was that Myscene was still too “connected with Barbie”, which they thought was the reason behind Myscene’s plummeting sales. So they decided to get rid of the lead character, Barbie. And who did they replace Barbie with? Someone who had a different name, but was MORE BARBIE-like than the original Barbie! Kennedy wore a heavy dosage of pink! Next thing we know, the Myscene line is re-vamped to include this heavy dosage of pink, destroying the mature and urban feeling of this line. They really missed the point entirely.

I know, she looks like Barbie

I know, she looks like Barbie

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Monster High is another good example. Monster High began as a freaky cool line. It took off unexpectedly a few years back. It began as a diverse ghoul line. What made this line so unique was that no one was human. This line didn’t have the same “cultural” problems the other lines had. No one was Caucasian, African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or anything else. This line avoided the same cultural pitfalls many doll lines have. Each doll had their own signature colors. And the best part? The lead character, Frankie, did not wear PINK! It appealed to “darker” people, those attracted to “darker” themes. It was fitting for Halloween. Halloween colors don’t tend to be pink…

Frankie USED to be the main character. Now it appears the pink-fluff vampire character, Draculaura, is the main character. I mean, she was the lead in almost every movie. Frankie almost seems like an obsolete member. After the popularity of Draculaura, because suddenly everyone is obsessed with vampires, PINK became the new “it” color. And it seemed like every character that came after sported more and more pink.

Fairy-tale dolls, particularly Disney’s dolls, are heavily cutting into the Monster High market. With that, Mattel has once again used its tactic of Attack of the Pink.

While GiGi Grant’s sister looked more original and cool, she never got a doll. But here comes Miss Pink GiGi with her boring and unoriginal doll.

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Not that Monster High doesn’t have enough Were-Cats, but one of their additions to the line also sports pink.

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They even thought they could get away with making a serpent’s hair PINK! What snake in the world is pink?

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They have so many dolls sporting pink more than any other color, this line is hardly feeling like a “dark” and “edgy” ghoul line anymore. But what really makes the whole thing obvious is the complete change they made to characters that were never originally “pink”. One character: Howleen

Howleen’s original hair color was orange. She was meant to be original and spunky-not like the other girls. She had the edge that made her stand out. But no. They had to go and turn her into a less original character by changing her hair PINK! They took the original detail, the thing that made this doll stand out, and threw it away.

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After

After

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It’s a bit sad. I really thought Monster High would be the line that would break the pink mold. I guess not, since apparently that’s all girls seem to like nowadays, according to Mattel’s demographic research.

American Girl has even jumped on the trend. American Girl is supposed to be a doll line focusing on bringing timeless stories about girls from the past to the future and relating it to girls of today. These stories are better highlighted with matching dolls. The doll line used to be filled with authentic and period-accurate clothing that could impress even the most skeptical historians, such as myself. It came in various colors and fabrics. It expressed the diversity of the characters, as well as educated children about fashion from the past. American Girl also consists of contemporary dolls that represent the girls of today. They also came with an array of clothing and accessories. Girl of the Year was once just as diverse as the historical line.

But suddenly, just recently, American Girl decided to dye everything in pink. From their 2014 Girl of the Year, whose wardrobes are drenched in pink, to over half of their historical dolls, Pink seems to be the signature American Girl color. Even the packaging has been changed from red to PINK. Instead of hitting off the ground, it’s really hurting American Girl. Mattel’s profit reports showed a sharp decline stemming from the re-vamped Historical line. I’ll bet it’s because of the pinkness.

There are so many colors in the rainbow. Many items in the past may have never been pink. And today, we have so many various colors in our stores! So why constantly shoot for pink? They even stuck Kit, a character who supposedly hates pink according to her story, in pink! Girl of the Year 2014 is model pink!

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Mattel will do anything to insert its pink paradise. Apparently, they think pink is the only way to make some money. While it may work at first, too much of this kills doll lines. Not everyone relates to the color pink, and no one wants to see everyone wear pink. When they all look alike, no characters stand out.

Finally, I want to talk about Barbie. Many of you probably didn’t know this, but Barbie wasn’t always a pink princess.

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Even Barbie had her moments where she suffered in the past. This is the reason Matt and El sold the company in the first place. Still, even after Barbie was sold, everything about her wasn’t pink. I had a Teacher Barbie that wore black.

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But the “new” Mattel had this “idea” that pink would sell better. Suddenly, Barbie was transformed out of nowhere into this pink icon. Now, all she wears is pink! And we hardly see any “teacher” Barbies anymore. She’s become this shallow pink princess with no career goals…

I think the Barbie doll has now become the reason many people hate pink.

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2) Attack of the Blondes

Mattel is very famous for their worship of blondies. In fact, many of Mattel’s leading girls are blonde. From Diva Starz, to Myscene, to Polly Pocket, blondes make up Mattel’s universe. I will admit, blondes can be ticket-selling points. But of course, many times the reason the blonde characters sell so much is because of, not only hair, BUT what’s she’s usually wearing, which is something that is usually prettier than all the other dolls.

Let’s make this clear. Some of Mattel’s blonde dolls sell less than other dolls. American Girl’s Kirsten didn’t sell as much as Samantha, even though she was blonde. Perhaps that’s just it. Mattel usually puts their blondes in all of the pretty girlish outfits and puts their other characters in drab fashions. They usually give their blonde characters unique hairstyles and all of their brunette characters the “normal” looks. Kirsten was the first blonde doll that didn’t look like that…Then again, she wasn’t originally designed by Mattel.

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Draculaura isn’t blonde and she sells well…so possibly, it’s not the blonde that does it. It’s the wardrobe you put with the doll.

Mattel doesn’t always see it that way when tackling its “human”dolls.

In Mattel’s universe, blonde hair represents leadership, attention-seeking, fashion, fun, and beauty. The blonde characters always get the attractive qualities. These qualities are never awarded to the African American, Hispanic, or Asian characters. “Sister” was Mattel’s attempt at “segregating” the black dolls from the white dolls so that blonde Barbie wouldn’t outshine “black” Barbie. They have put a stamp on their dolls because of this. We often find Mattel to have a hidden white superiority complex that is so deeply hidden it is difficult to prove.

Many times, Mattel tries to add some diversity, but in the end blondes always rule all. When all fails, we see the truest thoughts behind this company. When Mattel is struggling, you know what they usually pull out of their closet? Not a doll everyone has been asking for. No. They pull out a blonde. Usually, at this pivotal moment, when they pull out the blonde, they already have one successful blonde doll that’s not enough to fill the sale gaps, but is still selling better than the other dolls. So when they add the “new” blonde, they now have an over-abundance of blonde characters and a lack of one or more other ethnic groups/bruns/red heads.

I will share some examples…

American Girl used to be a doll line with many diverse characters. At one time, the historical line’s only blonde character was Kirsten. Then Kit came into the picture. Everything was in balance. But then came that moment when American Girl’s sales fell. Caroline was released.

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Girl of the Year has never had an African American character. Many hoped 2014 would be the year. And what did they give us? A blonde character.

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This is the exact same problem in Diva Starz. When Diva Starz’s sales were struggling, Mattel got rid of their sweet red-head, and replaced her with, you guessed it, another BLONDE character. Diva Starz then had TWO blonde characters, and two brunette characters, but no red-heads.

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It was the same with Myscene. When Myscene was on the brink of collapse, who did they release to replace Barbie? Another blonde!

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Ever After High has a really cool brunette character. But NOOO! She couldn’t be Snow White’s daughter (although Snow White has always been depicted as having dark hair). The “blonde” character has to get the shine as a “royal” character, as if all blondes are bubbly, shallow, and “royal”. In fact, why did they have to see Raven as a lead only if she shares the lead WITH the blonde? For once, couldn’t the blonde character have been in a supporting role? Like in Winx?

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One of the ideas that could solve this “blonde” problem would be to do what they did to Draculaura and Samantha: Put the brunette and red-haired characters in more appealing fashions with more attractive personalities. Is that so difficult?

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3) Our Main Character is a Loser, so They’re FIRED

Mattel usually always tries to create a main character with the most attractive qualities and fashion. Usually, their main characters are blonde and/or wear an awful lot of pink. But this doesn’t necessarily make their main characters safe. If Mattel senses that their main characters are not doing a good job, they always seem to think the best idea is to “replace” them or kick them in a corner with very little attention. This usually works AGAINST them. A main character is usually the character that drives the whole line and/or story. Without those key characters, we are missing something, even if they aren’t popular.

Mattel’s strategy, however, is to often get rid of their “loser” main characters and let the popular character take over. Sometimes, a character never even gets a chance. Marie-Grace and Cecile are an example. They’ve only been out two years, and yet were retired, while many of the American Girl characters have been around for seven years or more! They never even got a chance! They were clumped together with the other “Best Friend” dolls,  when they had their own time, era, and complete line! Now, we no longer have dolls from NOLA that cover the Yellow Fever epidemic.

And Mattel is never fair about screen time or promotion. They jacked Josefina so horribly, I’m starting to think she’s falling into the “loser” category.

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Mattel is a company that seems to expect immediate results. If they don’t get it, it appears they get rid of characters and over-do the characters that have the potential for popularity.

This happened in Monster High. Draculaura has taken over every line, and the lead character and many other ghouls have been cast aside. Many of the other characters get ignored, even the actual MAIN character! Since when has Frankie been the main character in a movie? Lagoona and Spectra haven’t been in a line in a LOOOONG time.

And it looks like with the new Monster High re-vamp and the Japanese “anime”, Draculaura has truly become the “main character”. Can’t you see I’m not lying with this?

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This really happened with the Barbie doll. Mattel has tried to make other diverse Barbies as main characters (like Sister), but it’s always clear that they want Barbie to lead. She is always the first doll to be introduced. She always has the most attractive outfits on. Come on. The other dolls didn’t stand a chance. Barbie’s popularity continues to grow, while all of the others fall behind.

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Do I have to re-iterate the fact that they replaced their cutting-edge Barbie in Myscene for the pink-princess doll Kennedy? It basically changed everything. Barbie was Madison’s best friend and River’s girlfriend. Did they really think they could just stick in Kennedy and everything would be okay? Fans hit the roof.

The problem with Mattel is they keep regurgitating dolls so often, they forget how many dolls they have. They end up ignoring the dolls they already have.

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4) Attack of the Tacky

When Mattel is in “Panic mode”, they are usually at a point where they have run out of fashion ideas. Towards the end of a doll line, or when they are low on sales, Mattel gets really, REALLY tacky. They start just coming up with any random design ideas that can range between original and weird.

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What really makes it bad is that they start tacking on a heavy load of pastels, which often makes the outfits less refined.

I can honestly say that there was a huge difference between Myscene in the beginning and how they started looking when things got rough…

American Girl has also gotten tackier lately. American Girl used to have high-quality and valuable outfits, many that could be found on very few dolls in the world. But ever since their Beforever launch, an attempt to appeal more to this new generation, it seems that they have slapped fabrics together. Kit’s new birthday outfit is shameful enough, but they had to go and throw a girl from 1904 in some go-go boots! I know those shoes were popular in 1904, but they weren’t very tasteful. Maybe this is just my opinion…

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Even Monster High’s original outfits were much more stylish than many of the outfits now. Freaky Fusion is…a blend of awkward monsters thrown together, and it shows. Flavas was the epitome of tacky, but their last remaining outfits were the tackiest ever. And yes, Flavas was also Mattel’s attempt to make quick money at a time when Bratz was taking over the doll market. See how tacky Mattel gets when they are desperate? They translate all of this into style.

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5) Books and Blogs: Who Cares If they Don’t Add Up?

American Girl, Monster High, and Generation Girl all had books to accompany their doll lines. Myscene, at one time, had an online blog. I understand that, many times, the books are written by authors that have nothing to do with Mattel. But they are meant to be for Mattel’s products. Mattel should know something about the books and/or blogs that are meant to represent them. Often times, however, I question whether Mattel really reads their own literature.

Often times, Mattel will release books, and then later release merch or promotion that contradicts it. Shouldn’t they at least read it over before releasing it? It might say something foul and they wouldn’t even know it! One thing is for certain, they do not live up to their stories-at all. This is really evident when they are low on money…Let me give some examples.

In the Monster High book series, Spectra and Invisi Billy were said to have been dating. But in the webisodes, here they come with Invisi Billy and Scarah! Say what now? After so many fans were drawn to the first couple, they pulled a switcheru on everybody. It’s almost as if Mattel didn’t care, as long as it could be a good selling point for the doll. They are often too focused on their actual products to notice such inconsistencies…But it’s sort of annoying. Don’t make books if you can’t keep up with them, jeez. As Spectra’s doll popularity decreased, and Scarah’s doll popularity increased, Spectra was simply the love interest that was replaced in the webisodes…Without any nod to the books…And thus, causing a fan war.

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Now, Mattel decided they would create a new “backstory” for Monster High with their movie Welcome to Monster High, which completely changes the characters all together…So I guess all of those books and webisodes were pointless from the beginning.

Generation Girl dolls had a similar issue. Barbie Roberts was said to have come from Malibu, California in the books, Nichelle was from New York City, New York,  Tori was from Melbourne, Australia, and Ana was supposedly from Spanish Harlem, New York, right? But if you buy the boxes of these dolls, they all say completely different cities! Barbie is said to be from Los Angeles, Nichelle is from Harlem, Tori is from Sydney, and Ana is from Mexico City, Mexico! I know many of these cities are all in the same country, but it takes a bolt load of ignorance to think they are the same cities. It wouldn’t have been a problem had there not been confusion with accessories (especially food items meant to represent a particular city), or if the magazine articles the dolls came with didn’t emphasis a completely different place…Considering the books came out the exact time the dolls came out, that was a little awkward. That let the consumers know that it wasn’t just a change of plans down the line, it was an absolute glitch that no one paid attention to before release.

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Finally, I just want to use American Girl’s Kit. The girl is a tomboy and HATES the color pink. She HATES flounces. People who have read Meet Kit know this. So what does Mattel go and do? Stick her in a pink, flouncy dress for Easter. I understand that a Depression-era girl wouldn’t decide these things. But she has other clothes. Couldn’t they have highlighted the dresses Kit actually liked?  Just as they did with Felicity’s Dancing Lesson gown? Or with the red dress Ruthie got for Kit at Christmas? I think that’s pretty careless to create clothes that will bring discomfort to a character in the canon story…unless of course you’re like Mattel and DON’T CARE. They could’ve highlighted actual practical clothing an actual Depression-era girl would’ve worn.

They honestly release those books for extra revenue…But really, they should skip out on literature…

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You know what made it really obvious they don’t read their own literature? Conan O’Brian, host of the Conan O’Brian Show, visited American Girl Place in Los Angeles. He was talking to one of the employees there about Kit. Conan asked about her story. You know what story the employee told him about? The story from the Kit Kittredge: An American Girl movie. It became evident that he never read the books. He stated, “In Kit’s story, her father goes away to Chicago to find work.” That never happened in the CORE series! FACEPALM TIME! It’s odd for someone who supposedly knows about American Girl to mention the movie before the book series. Any fan knows that the Kit movie was NOTHING like the book series. In fact, Kit’s movie deviated the most from the main plot out of ALL of the movies! If fans know this, how much more-so should an employee? It was a shame to watch. I can’t even take that worker seriously as an employee. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. This man has been working for American Girl all this time and doesn’t know the actual story behind Kit?

The plot is deviated the most when Mattel is losing money and fresh out of ideas. They have to swerve around the character traits to pull something new out of their hats.

I don’t even want to get started on Myscene. A long time ago, when Myscene was first released in 2002, it was announced on Barbie’s online “blog” that she was an Aries. The signature color for Aries is usually red. To represent her Zodiac sign, Barbie carried around a cherry-red cell phone and wore a matching cherry-red outfit, as seen at debut.

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Eventually, somehow, they switched Barbie into a Libra right under everyone’s noses. Hmm…And they offered no explanation for the cherry-red cell phone and matching outfit…

To this day, there are very few Myscene fans who know this information.

Oh well, I guess since no one questioned it, Mattel got away with it…as usual.

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6) Retirement and Poor Replacements

This is a little different from #3. #3 wasn’t necessarily about retired dolls, just dolls that have been out-shined by other dolls. This point is literally about retirement. Mattel is ever infamous for their MAJOR retirements when things get a little rough. Many times, Mattel is about retiring an “unpopular” or “unsuccessful character” and replacing that character with someone “better”. But many times, Mattel goes through this period where they retire extremely popular characters and no one can usually understand why. Most assume it’s for the sake of making room and replacements.

I don’t honestly believe they are interested in “replacing” dolls. They just keep making what sells.

Sometimes, during those desperate times, Mattel takes the worse actions.

One example would be their retirement of Summer from the Diva Starz. When they got rid of her, most fans expected a pretty reasonable replacement, like maybe a new Asian doll or something. But we got ANOTHER blonde doll IN pink! They replaced their ONLY red-head with another blonde girl.

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Another major retirement fail was of their only Latina character, Ana, in Generation Girl. Why would they do something like that? No idea. And their replacement was a quirky Asian character and ANA‘s boyfriend, Blaine…What’s the point of retiring the doll and then releasing her boyfriend?

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And again, in Myscene. They retired the cutting-edge Barbie, for a pink-princess Barbie doll look-alike named “Kennedy”. Wow. So they thought since the name was changed, she would be less “Barbie”? But then you go and make her just like the iconic Barbie…FAILURE.

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Mattel retired their best-selling American Girl doll, Samantha! Why? I don’t know. They said they were making room for new characters. But it wasn’t really business savvy, though most were happy they were making room for new characters…The replacement was not enough to bring the money back…

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7) Inaccuracy: When Nothing Makes Sense…

As mentioned before, Mattel often contradicts itself, which often makes it difficult for their stories to be believable.

But sometimes they are consistent. Yet, even when they are consistent, they have another problem: Inaccuracy.

This mostly applies to their doll lines that are based off of some other idea or concept, like Ever After High, Monster High, and American Girl. Mattel will squeeze anything to make a buck, and sometimes many things they throw together don’t make sense. They make it really hard to be a detail-oriented person and enjoy all of Mattel’s products.

Well, at least they tend to doll details…

Well, at least they tend to the details when they first release a doll line.

Inaccuracy is usually a major sign that Mattel is struggling, and this is how they ruin doll lines in the end.

American Girl’s Beforever is steeped with inaccurate products, which is a shame. The line is meant to inspire girls of today to learn history through a collection of dolls. But many times, they squeeze some modern items in there to sell the doll. For instance, Samantha’s headband.

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Ever After High has been slapped with the inaccurate bill, too. While Apple White is supposed to be Snow White’s daughter, and follow the “Snow White” tradition precisely, that’s not technically possible for her. Therefore, she is a rebel without even trying. 1) Snow White has ALWAYS been described to have hair as “black as ebony” since the original German story was published by the Grimm Brothers. But we talked about how Mattel worships blondes…2) The “evil queen” was born WAY before Snow White, and supposedly MARRIED Snow White’s FATHER. So, is Raven Queen going to be Apple White’s new Step-mother? Not possible, because apparently Apple White’s parents are Snow White and her handsome prince…

Unless Snow White dies, and Raven Queen ends up marrying Apple White’s older father, I doubt this could work smoothly. In other words, Apple White is still NOT a royal. She is actually, in fact, a rebel by default, as there is no possible way she can follow her “destiny”, even if Raven Queen WERE to turn out evil. The inaccuracy of the story makes it all a bit amusing, but since it’s so easy for children (and some adults) to overlook such details, you’d all be happy to know that, at least, the dolls are very detailed and beautiful. After all, the story was squeezed a bit to allow a perky blonde to take the lead, and to play on the “victim” heart strings people are pulling with today’s iconic villains.

In the end, however, I can see Ever After High’s story being a big confusing mess. Just buy the doll.

I have one more question. If Raven Queen is supposed to be the “evil queen”, why didn’t SHE inherit the magic mirror instead of Apple White? Raven Queen acts more like Snow White than Apple White…*gasp* Apple White is vain…easily jealous…controlling…acts like a queen…and owns a magic mirror…Perhaps, SHE’LL be the next evil queen! *gasp* There are still many inconsistencies. Apple White’s story seems to even deviate greatly from the original Evil Queen’s story, too. She doesn’t fit with any characters in Snow White, so I don’t understand why she is a “Royal”.

If Raven Queen was born to the Evil Queen, then wouldn’t that make Raven Queen Snow White’s sister? Wouldn’t that make Raven Queen…Apple White’s aunt? In this case, Raven Queen should be older than Apple White.

Don’t think too deep. It’ll ruin everything. Just stay in ignorant bliss so you can enjoy life. Just buy the doll…That’s all Mattel cares about anyway. They will squeeze any attractive story just to sell.

The Story of Snow White<—Click

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One last question: Why was the My Scene movie called Myscene Goes Hollywood, when the whole movie takes place in New York? Deceptive…

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8) Failing Up-Grades

When Mattel is in a pinch, their first instinct is to “upgrade” their lines. Every company does an up-grade. But it seems like Mattel always comes up with the most slap-dash ideas when they are financially in trouble. Their desperation always shows.

American Girl’s Beforever is a prime example. I don’t even know where to begin. They gave their 9 year-old 1970’s doll some platform shoes, their 1904 doll a headband, and modernized all of their historical fashion…

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Another example would be when Mattel decided to make the Diva Starz “taller”. I don’t know why they thought it was a good idea. It just made them awkward and hard to carry around. Instead of getting them more money, it became the end of the entire Diva Starz line.

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And remember when they made the My Scene dolls SMILE? Those dolls were the worst ideas ever.

Almost looks like a regular Barbie doesn't it? Why was this a good idea?

Almost looks like a regular Barbie doesn’t it? Why was this a good idea?

Lately, Mattel thought it would be a good idea to “de-scare” their Monster High Dolls by making their faces cuter and their details “painted on” rather than carved. I don’t understand. What’s the point of making monster dolls “cute”? They are MONSTERS. Now, instead of looking like “rad” teenagers, they look like kids who “want to be” teens…

The quality is obviously lower and the fashions are cheesier.

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They basically took all the characters’ unique details and threw them out in the trash.

Oh, and they changed the whole story behind them. So now, all of their old books, webisodes, and movies are MEANINGLESS. Now, you have to throw them out. Unless of course, you just bought the dolls…But wait…They changed them, too…

For Mattel, desperate times call for desperate up-grades.

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9) Flunk the Boys

Boys are a small accessory to girls in the Mattel universe. Of course, the target for most of Mattel’s products are young females. In Mattel’s company mind, this means giving a guy some attention as a love interest until his popularity dwindles. Their next step is to retire him, like all of the other “accessories”. Possibly, they may even try to replace him. Men are thrown around in the Mattel universe and treated poorly.

The Ken doll is a great example of this. He was Barbie’s “boyfriend” since the 1960s. He has had a fantastic line of clothing and accessories. Then, they suddenly tried to retire him in 2004, stating that he and Barbie needed to “spend some time apart”. That was a very bad idea. You know they had to bring him back. Ken never even had a Doll of the World yet! Throughout the years, he was always placed behind Barbie’s world of plastic. His retirement was an all-time low.

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It has become the same song and dance with Monster High. The boys are given one outfit a piece, with very few details or accessories, and often seem to wear the exact same outfits as one another with very few distinctions. This gives very shallow ideas to girls, and gives their competition, the Bratz, the upper hand.

Just look at Heath. He literally was only an accessory to Abbey. The boys in Mattel’s universe eventually end up in sets with the girls.

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Look at Abbey’s accessories…Wait…where are Heath’s accessories? WOW. He doesn’t really have any but a mitt, does he? -.- They are supposed to “share”.

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Heck, by the end of My Scene, the five boys had been reduced down to one: River, Barbie’s “boyfriend”…er, was it Kennedy by then? Who knows…

It’s really no wonder Mattel has a hard time relating to a male audience with their lines. Being targeted for girls is no excuse. Bratz Boyz can do it better:

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Two outfits, tons of accessories, a comb, a nice braided hairstyle, two pairs of shoes, and their OWN LINES, separate from the girls, like 1st edition Boyz…

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10) The Red-Headed Curse

Mattel’s world is blonde. In Mattel’s kingdom, blonde’s natural opposite is “Red Hair”. I’m not going to go as far as to say they have a personal prejudice against red-heads, as they always make dolls with Red hair. BUT when the going gets tough, it’s always a red-head that is on the chopping block.

American Girl has been around for years. Out of all of American Girl’s dolls, only ONE doll has been retired TWICE: Felicity Merriman, their Revolutionary War doll. She has a spunky personality that girls of today appreciate, but she has the hair color that Mattel deems as “hard to sell” for some reason. Though red hair never stopped the sell of Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls or Bloom from Winx, it seems to be the “sign” of poor sells for Mattel…

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In Diva Starz, Summer was the only doll retired during the line’s run. The sweet red-head was then replaced with a cutting-edge blonde…Which didn’t appease anyone. Shortly after, the line was retired altogether.

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Generation Girl also retired their red-haired doll, Chelsie Peterson. They claimed she “moved”. People were so mad. I mean, she was the most interesting doll in the line. Plus, she was the only doll from England. She was also a singer who came with a guitar. There were so many parts of her doll run still left unattended.

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Myscene’s Kenzie was a disappointment. She lasted shorter than any Myscene doll ever sold. They hardly elaborated on her background. And she was a beautiful doll.

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As you can see, Mattel has a record. They have never been very nice to their red-haired girls. Many of their lines, like Flavas, didn’t have red-heads at all! Talk about a lack of diversity…

Monster High and Ever After High hardly process red-head characters…

Mattel acts like having red hair is a curse or something…When is the last time they created a red-head for their main Barbie line? I can’t remember.

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11) Everybody Sings and Dances

Yea, just about any company uses the “arts” gimmick to get little girls to buy their dolls. Every doll line needs a “singing” and/or “dancing” line, where the doll can get fancied up in glitter or pastels and shimmy on a stage.

For Mattel, however, this is one of their “Panic Strategies”. Mattel may already have a singer and dancer, but when they are low on funds or ideas, no worries. They will release ANOTHER singer and dancer.

For instance, Monster High already had Operetta as a singer. But that wasn’t enough. They just had to make one of their popular warecats and their new witch doll, Casta Fierce, singers as well! Why does this line need three singers? I don’t know. Couldn’t they have had other more original interests? Oh wait, this is Mattel we are talking about…

Oh, and a fourth was added to the singing/dancing trio: Ari Hauntington! How many more Mattel before the MH brand becomes a pop girl group?

Double whamy: Pink and a Singer!

Double whamy: Pink and a Singer!

American Girl’s Girl of the Year already had a very popular modern-day dancer named Marisol. There were so many modern ideas they could cover. But no. In 2014, they released ANOTHER dancer: Isabelle. I’m still shocked they didn’t try the singer thing…I suppose it’s not as good for the movies…It was good enough for the Saige movie…Even though Saige ISN’T a singer…

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Barbie does the singing thing every new decade. She has done every occupation really. But I guarantee you, she’s done teaching much less than singing or dancing.

Polly Pocket, Flavas, I mean really. Singing and Dancing is apart of Mattel’s universe as a doll line. It’s their greatest green ticket, especially when funds are low. So, don’t expect anything original.

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12) We’ll Never Be Rebels

Mattel is capable of coming up with some pretty rebellious ideas, but Mattel likes to play it safe. While parents may approve, this doesn’t make them necessarily popular among the kids. Parents don’t play with these dolls, but the kids do. Many collectors appreciate detailed dolls. Many times, Mattel will give up good, detailed, and quality dolls for dolls that are cheap and wholesome.

Chelsie Peterson, Tori Burns, and Barbie Roberts from Generation Girl used to get a lot of bashing from “soccer moms”. Chelsie had a nose ring and three piercings in her left ear, Tori did too, and Barbie had a tattoo on her ankle (I’m one of the lucky few to get this one). At the time, that was a “big deal”. They were details that made those dolls unique and appealing. Well, Mattel is such a suck-up, they got rid of those unique details. Now, it’s no longer a big deal. But where is Generation Girl? A thing of the past. They didn’t even realize they were creating a doll trend at the time.

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Notice her heart tattoo on her ankle...

Notice her heart tattoo on her ankle…

Monster High got a lot of stigma for releasing a “spider doll”. Instead of ignoring people by trying to make the doll more appealing, she has only appeared in one line. Spiders may look scary, but at least they are a real part of nature. Oh, but vampires and zombies are okay, huh… -.-

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Monster High gets backlash from parents often about how “scary” their Monster High dolls look. And you know Mattel cares what parents (the people that won’t play with the dolls) think. What did they do? They just re-vamped the whole line so the monsters can look sweeter…and younger.

American Girl has gone light on the stories behind their Girl of the Year dolls, too. The last deep story they ever had for modern girls was Chrissa’s story on bullying. The other stories hardly touch on subjects that affect girls. They gloss over a few issues to help sell pretty merchandise. They have the potential to open the minds of girls. Instead, they would rather play it safe and give girls more materialistic values.

Flavas was also a pretty edgy line, but I think a lot more had to do with their retirement. They were just tacky altogether…

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13) Cheap Quality

Mattel always releases their dolls with the highest quality-in the beginning, during a launch, at debut. But after a while, Mattel gets comfortable. When things get rough, the quality declines. This happens with every company, but a smart company knows how to wheel around this issue. Many times, Mattel cheapens the quality because it’s cheaper to make toys that way. This keeps money in their pockets.

American Girl’s quality has decreased tremendously, and yet the prices have risen! They certainly don’t use the same fine materials, like real wood, real clothing fabric, and tin, like they used to. Everything is plastic-and yet, more expensive than when they used real materials!

Barbie used to be a high-quality doll herself in the 1960’s. Then they started creating her with that cheap hair and face paint. When I was little, I could never pretend she was swimming. Her hair and lipstick would fade!

Yea, her hair seems nicer in the picture, but the actual doll is not the same!

Yea, her hair seems nicer in the picture, but the actual doll is not the same!

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14) Mattel Doesn’t Listen to YOU

You would think that when Mattel is on their butt they would listen to fans more. Nope. In fact, the further Mattel is in a slump, the more they ignore fans. Does this sound familiar?

“We do not accept new product ideas.” That’s one of them. “We apologize for your dissatisfaction with our products. We have ___ for you to enjoy. Stay tuned for more updates”.

Mattel is usually at their best when they have competition. When they have competition, they suddenly come up with better quality ideas. Bratz kept Mattel on their toes. Myscene, Monster high, and Girls of Many Lands all came out around the time Bratz was at their height. Those three lines were of high quality at launch. But now that the competition is low, Mattel is getting a little too comfortable. Competition helps Mattel recognize their flaws and weaknesses. Without competition, they don’t see fans going anywhere else, no matter how messed up their tactics are.

No matter how many fans complain about the same things, Mattel continues to send “automated” emails and continues to reject new ideas. Their competitors, MGA, are VERY open to new ideas. This contributed to the success of Bratz and the reason Mattel always struggled all of those years. They still don’t understand what tweens want. They want to be HEARD. Since Mattel usually misses this point miserably, they always lose valuable ideas to their competition.

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So, now that you are aware of the Mattel pattern, fans shouldn’t be surprised when they see Mattel leaning on an idea that seems to be choking the life out of a doll line. They have a strange tendency of repeating patterns.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you people think! What Mattel dolls do you collect? What products have you purchased? Have you experienced what I have or do you think I’m a load of malarkey?

Meet American Girl’s Beforever Characters Through Engaging Youtube Videos Inspired From Their Stories! #AGBeforeverVids

16 Sep

*This article is to spread a campaign of sorts. I want more of the videos American Girl has posted on Youtube and better American Girl commercials. The videos they are missing are Rebecca and I also consider Caroline (Because I think her video was lacking). #AGBeforeverVids

Personally, I hated American Girl’s last couple of commercials for their historical line of dolls. However, one of Beforever’s ads was a step up. And yet, this isn’t the ad that’s appearing on t.v…

The commercials always seemed so “modernized”. My last favorite commercials were of the American Girl historical movies.

(The one below is not the actual trailer, but it has some clips from the original trailer)

I know the goal of the commercials are to make the American Girls seem “easy” for modern girls to relate to, but sometimes it’s easier for girls today to relate to engaging and interesting ads, rather than cheesy ads that over-emphasize “girlhood”. Especially the girls of the “target age”. If we look at online ads/trailers/commercials, like the Hunger Games trailer or the Maze Runner, big kids are usually drawn in by the dozens to those dramatic teasers. I understand people want to encourage little kids to stay kids. But the American Girls can provide a realistic view of life, while still appealing to sophisticated girls of today. American Girl admits that girls are more sophisticated today, which is why they consolidated their books to “feel” more like volumes. So why can’t they provide advertisements that appeal to sophisticated children?

Caroline’s commercial was an example of what I mean by just plain yuck. While I thought it was cute to have the girls play with Caroline during the entire ad, and cute when they threw in some rowboat scenes, the music threw off the appeal. They could’ve at least had some adventurous music. They could’ve given some more appealing insight into her story. They could have given it an artistic feeling. The ad felt very “thrown together”. They put some girls in a room with a doll, those girls played a bit with the doll, and then they added some cheesy modern music. I liked the McDonalds commercial from several years ago better than Caroline’s commercial! They could’ve made an interesting background scene. Other doll brands, like Ever After High and Monster High, have very innovative commercials. But no. This commercial didn’t tell me anything about Caroline or her time. It didn’t make Caroline seem like an interesting doll from all of their other dolls. I saw her accessories. I saw her outfits. But I didn’t seen any creativity-I didn’t see any imagination!

Look at THIS McDonalds commercial in comparison:

But American Girl has posted some interesting videos that are far more superior than any trailers above. On Youtube.com, on American Girl’s official channel, they have saved their beautiful historical videos for others to watch. Unlike everything above, these videos are interesting and inspirational. They are like mini-documentaries or audiobooks. They give the gist of the story with engaging historical footage and thrilling background music. They are a bit lengthy. I know a commercial can’t be as long as the videos they posted (you’ll understand when you watch), BUT I think that a commercial can utilize some backgrounds from the stories to create a scene for the dolls.

A good commercial needs a good scene for the dolls. Let’s take the Monster High Freaky Fusion commercial for example (Not to go off-topic, just giving an example of what I mean).

Like the commercial above, the advertisement places the dolls in a fitting scene. The music is also fitting for the dolls. This makes the dolls seem like they live in an interesting world. This sparks interest from it’s viewers.

The videos that were posted on Youtube made me so much more interested in American Girl dolls, I want to share them. I’m so sorry that Rebecca doesn’t have one and that Caroline doesn’t have one in this style. These videos also sort of make up for the lack of historical movies. I love them. But maybe kids don’t like them. All the kids I showed them to loved them! Let me know what you people think. Check them out:

Unfortunately, these videos use a lot of the illustrations that used to be in the book series, and since the Beforever books are picture-less, who knows if there will be any videos in the future. But I will be pushing for it.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the vids!

If you like them, and would like Rebecca and Caroline to have similar vids, #AGBeforeverVids.

 

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