Tag Archives: American Girl dolls

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

31 Dec

In West Philadelphia, born and raised

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

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

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

If you don’t know what American Girl is:

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

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

girl-of-the-year

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Girl Press Release

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

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

gabriela-book-1

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

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

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

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

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

*This will be updated as more information is released.

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

The reveal of the doll!

 

melodys-pjs

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

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

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

 

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

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

In American Girl’s press release, they stated:

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

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

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

american-girls-message

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, I have my hang-ups.

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

46

Truly Me #46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

american-girl-marisol

isabelle-barre-set-hr

What would I need with two ballet barres?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Should American Girl Sell ‘American Boy’ dolls?

15 Jan

american girl logo

Every once in a while, someone will come up with the suggestion that there should be American Boy dolls created by the American Girl, LLC company.

The American Girl brand is well-known for their historical “Beforever” and contemporary “Truly Me” lines of dolls designed as little girls (different from Barbie, Ever After High, Disney Princesses) with inspiring stories. The brand has always focused on girls since 1986 when the concept was first released to the world.

However, recently, there has been a sudden “push” for toy companies to be more “inclusive”. This means that people are tired of the generic, standard dolls that have always been included among toy options. If the toy companies or some of their lines are directed to boys, people want them to include “girl” toys. If a company has primarily targeted their toys to girls, people want “boy” toys. If the collection only includes white characters, people want characters of other races. If the collection focuses on one country, people want other nationalities and cultures included. People want to diminish prejudice this way. They want to bridge the gap between differences and make things more equal and fair.

American Girl fans, since the 1990s really, have all been wondering if American Girl would include “American Boys”. Back then, that would’ve been considered a bad marketing move. But with the recent popularity of Frozen and My Little Pony toys among males, people are starting to consider it.

Along with that, with so many women pushing to for male-directed toys, like the “Nerf” toys, to include girl toys, “girl” toys are being questioned as well. Should we exclude anyone from enjoying these toys?

Although there’s nothing wrong with girls wanting nerf water guns or boys wanting an American Girl doll regardless of the gender direction (after all, American Girl doesn’t have to include American BOY dolls in order for boys to buy from the same brand and nerf toys never had to turn into Nerf Rebelle in order for girls to like Nerf products), some children want toys that represent them more personally.

Many of you might ask: ARE any boys interested in products like American Girl? Would American Boys sell to male audiences?

Though polls and surveys can answer this question more conclusively, from my experience, there are boys who like the American Girl dolls. Several readers on my blog, who are male, enjoy dolls such as Bratz and American Girl. These kinds of dolls appeal to males. While Bratz is edgier, American Girl has history involved with it, which relates to humans the world over. Many boys have walked into American Girl Place with their families in awe at the remarkable array of clothing and accessories, especially the ones that go with the historical dolls. American Girl’s Beforever line also comes with books that make history more exciting for kids.

There are many different reasons why many people want “boy” dolls.

  • People want “positive role models” for their sons

There are toys out there for boys (though many kids are consumed with tablets and video games), but they are all action figures. They all inspire courage and action in boys, but no valuable non-violent qualities like kindness and compassion. There are also hardly any boy toys where “little boys” are the main characters. So when little boys, at an impressionable age, walk into the American Girl stores, yes, they see dolls designed like girls, but they also see dolls that are designed to look like kids their OWN AGE.

  • Girls (and toy collectors) want “boy dolls”, too.

Barbie has Ken. Bratz have Bratz Boyz. Monster High and Ever After High have boy dolls. Frozen dolls have Kristoff (and Olaf). There are girls who have brothers or male friends in their lives and want to play out scenarios with their boy toys involved. People are also interested in how boys dressed in the past. It would make for an interesting buy for adult toy collectors as well, who lately make up nearly half of the toy industry’s consumers.

The only problem is most people like that American Girl dolls are empowering without having “boyfriends” or other male figures to help their line. Some people like that it’s a brand exclusively for girls. Most history books are mainly dominated by male figures. American Girl not only tells about history from the perspective of females, but from the perspective of little girls at that.

Some parents are also not comfortable with their girls playing “boyfriend/girlfriend”.

Still, males influence girls every day. It would still be interesting to have it in the brand for many people.

Okay, so how can the American Girl company accomplish this?

American Girl has always been for girls. That’s what the brand is popular for. How can this company introduce a “boy” line of toys without taking away what the brand stands for? People have had several suggestions:

  • Create “male friends” from some of the already-told Beforever stories.
  • Create a new “Girl of the Year” with a “Boy of the Year” as a best friend/brother doll.
  • Create a whole new line of historical boy characters that match the times already represented, just from a male perspective.
  • Focus on creating contemporary (modern) dolls for boys like Truly Me.
  • An exclusive line with books, like Hopscotch Hill dolls or Girls of Many Lands, with dolls that are slightly smaller than the 18” dolls so that they can be distinct.
  • Customizable dolls, similar to Truly Me, but where you can choose from an array of historical AND modern fashions and accessories as well as different ethnic molds.
  • Release a Limited Edition Boy doll every year or every other year.

Beforever Boys

Using the male characters from the already-written Beforever line can shorten the time it takes to create a male character. Many fans are already familiar with characters like Stirling from the Kit series, TJ from Julie’s series, Davy and Wayne from Maryellen’s series, and Julius from Melody’s series. Though Kaya has Two Hawks, trying to get their fashions correct without being “offensive” would be challenging, considering throughout the summer boys mostly wore breechcloths. And I don’t think those two boys are the best role models. Samantha has Eddie Ryland in her story, but he’s never becomes a friend. Rebecca has Victor, but he seems too old to fit into the “American Boys”, even though he’s Ricky’s age (Molly’s story). If they’d kept Kirsten and Molly, they may have had more options (though I felt Ricky was a horrible little boy).Considering Kirsten and Molly are archived, the boys from their series would not be included either, decreasing the number of options. That presents another problem: If they decide to archive the Beforever girl, the boy is going to go, too. After all, what sense is there to get rid of the main character and keep her male friend doll? Do we really want a short-term thing? With American Girl constantly trying to make room for new dolls, any of the girls are liable to go and then we’ll still be without an inclusive line of boy dolls. We already saw what happened to the Best Friend dolls.

There would not be much diversity with just those boys mentioned above released as all of them are white. Eventually, as they are even doing with the current Beforever and Girl of the Year line, people will be pushing for more diversity. This was also why the Best Friend dolls didn’t go over well. Only some American Girls got best friends, which meant more fashions and accessories from the time period for the white dolls, while others seemed empty in comparison. Most of the best friends were white with just one being an Asian doll. The Best Friend collection lacked diversity.

There are American Girls who don’t have ANY main male characters around their age, like Josefina. We would never really have a Mexican historical male character if we were relying on Josefina’s story for inspiration.

Ben is a favorite among girls, but he’s too old. The target age for historical characters are 9 to 10. Ben is basically considered a “grown man” in his time. The stories, from his perspective, would be far more “advanced” and not as lighthearted as Felicity’s stories (from a child’s perspective). He would be more like the Girls of Many Lands. They would have to make it intermediate or advanced literature, which would mean the words Ben uses would be too difficult for children to pronounce and the content would be…a little more intense.

And if we are going to add Ben, we might as well add Seth (Caroline), Lars (Kirsten), Joseph (Rebecca), and Sam (Addy). This would fit better with an American “Teen” line, though, rather than an American Boy line of dolls. To add, over half of the boys who would fit into an American Teen line are in the stories of characters who are archived.

 

Even if there were enough boys to go around, there weren’t that many clothing options for boys in the past. Boys were simpler than girls historically and it’s hard enough to get some of the American Girl Beforever characters to look appealing as it is (this is why they still haven’t designed a Pilgrim yet). Appealing to the general demographic would be challenging. A “best friend” male doll would not give girls the same options that a “best friend” girl doll would.

To put it all bluntly, they can’t go far with male characters from the book series, just as they couldn’t go far with the Best Friends.

Boy of the Year

I like the idea of American Girl creating a “Boy of the Year”. But that boy will only last a year. What will happen to the little boys that come into the brand the following year only to discover that the doll has been discontinued? That takes us back to square one. Still, this would be great as a test run. However, considering American Girl only has one year to sell these dolls to meet their financial quota, I doubt they will take that risk. American Girl is taking their time releasing an African American Girl of the Year because they’re too afraid “she won’t sell”.

And if he were a best friend doll…He would still only last a year. The other problem is American Girl would have to try to sell two dolls in one year. They already had that challenge before, which was why they scrapped the “Best Friend” strategy.

The All-New Historical line

This would be an amazing alternative to the American Girl Beforever brand. The real question is, how far would they be willing to take this line?

If they want to take it as far as their current Beforever line, which includes accessories and books, the two lines would end up being competitors for the company’s attention. Dealing with TWO historical lines is a challenge.

They would also have to decide what time periods they could use for the boys, which would take years. It took years to build the original Beforever line. It will take years to build a line like this.

This may also take them away from “what the brand stands for”. By focusing on boys and their adventures in time, this company will no longer be a brand mostly focused on girls. I feel we desperately need history taught from the perspective of normal women and girls (and not just from queens and political leaders).

I feel that it would be best to come out with just five boys from the past. But we know how that’s going to turn out. Eventually, kids will ask for more.

One of the lines will suffer. My bet is on the boys’ line. This might be a great idea when they’ve covered every single time they possibly could with the original Beforever line. For now, it’s complicated.

Modern American Boys

This would be a great idea. They could also have various head and facial types. I see this being more attractive to girls.

Most of the boys seem to like the historical part of American Girl. They don’t care about fashion for fashion’s sake. It has to be purposeful. American Girl Beforever dolls’ purpose is to educate about the time period, even through the fashions.

Still, I think having items, like miniature footballs or cooking sets would appeal to boys just as much as the items appeal to girls. It’s great for playtime. Children of both genders have a wide imagination and want to play out their lives.

Exclusive Boys

An exclusive boy toy line, like Hopscotch Hill dolls or Girls of Many Lands, would be good. They may be shorter than 18 inches and probably less expensive. This would be a great way to introduce male characters into the brand.

The issue is whether or not they should be historical dolls or modern ones.

One without the other would make the line feel like it’s missing something. They may come with books, but I can’t see girls buying dolls that don’t connect with the main American Girl dolls in any way. Most of American Girl’s off-shoot lines failed. They would really have to promote this kind of line if they expect success.

Still, this is the best option.

Customizable Dolls

This is the best option in my opinion. If American Girl is going to step into the “boy doll” field, allowing an array of playtime options would be the smartest move.

I think the boy dolls should start off with five or six customizable molds to represent various races and ethnic groups, similar to the Bitty Baby line.

Customers should be able to pick between fashion packs that include both historical and contemporary (modern) fashion with an array of accessories that match a boy’s life.

I really think this would be the best for playtime. Though books couldn’t be included in this kind of line, which is a shame because it wouldn’t inspire boys to develop a strong character, it would still be a lot of fun.

Limited Edition

This would also be a pretty good idea. This way, the boy dolls won’t take over and change the “direction” the company is trying to go in. Just like “Girl of the Year”, they could have a separate boy toy line with one doll every year. It could sell out in one year, but then that would cut into the Girl of the Year marketing strategy.

It could be one new historical boy every year, choosing a new time zone every time. He may come with one already-written book or a tell-it-yourself sort of thing. That would go over better and it wouldn’t be modern like Girl of the Year. They would be the most unique boy dolls on the market.

They would still take over the Girl of the Year marketing strategy, but at least they would be different.

Still, a modern boy would probably sell better to the main demographic, just the like the modern girls do. To create a historical boy takes three years of research as well as tons of money. It would be difficult to release one every year.

Either way, though, they would interfere with Girl of the Year marketing. One is going to have to go.

The boys could be limited to two or three years, but that means it would take forever to get the next boy doll. There wouldn’t be many options in the meantime.

Beforever Transformed Into Boys

Reader Yousef, who is a boy, made the suggestion that the company could transform the Beforever collection into boys. For example, instead of Samantha, she could be Samuel, and her books could be told from a boy’s perspective. Perhaps all the genders could be switched in the story. This would change things significantly. For instance, Aunt Cornelia was a female suffragist. As a man, she more than likely wouldn’t have been too interested. But perhaps Uncle Gard as a female would be more interested!

I really love this idea. What makes it better is that a boy from the target age group would be interested, too! Male fans are already familiar with the characters. This is actually something I would buy! Honestly, knowing the kind of fan I am, I wouldn’t consider the above options quite as interesting as this one!

However, reader Raygirl also makes some good points. While this would be a wildly popular idea, the time it takes to create these boys would greatly interfere with making new Beforever characters. Though they have already researched the times, they would have to learn a little more about boys in these time periods. It may not take three years, but it may take some time. They would have to hire writers to recreate the two volumes. Then the time and money it takes to manufacture these dolls! It took American Girl a little over 20 years to build the brand to where it is today.

Unfortunately, male dolls will only be made for the current Beforever characters, and not the archived ones like Molly, Felicity, Kirsten, Marie-Grace, and Cecile. 😦 That makes me dislike this idea more. And this would prevent archival as they try to sell the boys in enough time. This means it would stop them from creating new Beforever characters.

Reader Ashley Allegretti also mentioned that hearing the stories over again would be a little “dry”.

Still, this is the only idea I would actually support. Maybe when they’ve run out of ideas for the main Beforever line, they could start designing for a male version. Or they can make the boy dolls look like the current Beforever girls, but give them all-new stories. Still, we’re running into the issues we discussed above with American Boys in an all-new line…

To wrap this up, what do readers think? Do you think an American Boy doll is a good idea? If so, which option above sounds like the best one? If you don’t like the idea, share why you don’t!

Search up ideas for American Boy dolls!

 

Lea Clark, Girl of the Year 2016, Takes Us to Brazil and Helps Girls Overcome Their Fears

9 Jan

Lea, Girl of the Year 2016, is another destination character like Grace Thomas Girl of the Year 2015. This time, the destination is tropical Brazil.

Lea Clark, the 2016 Girl of the Year, dives in to
new adventures and explores what’s in her heart.

She discovers it takes courage to do something you’ve never done before.

Lea’s interests are animals and photography.

LeaDivesIn_Cover

Lea Dives In: In her second book, Lea Clark is all set for an animal-discovery adventure! She’s never been to a rainforest before, and her mind is filled with exciting thoughts about the animals she’ll get to see—and the pictures she’ll get to take deep in the jungle. During a hike with her brother through the Amazon rainforest, they discover a baby sloth that is badly injured. Lea quickly decides she must do all she can to help the little sloth survive. But as she learns more, she wonders: Is that the right thing to do?

LeaLeadsTheWay

Lea Leads the Way: Lea Clark is all set for an animal-discovery adventure! She’s never been to a rainforest before, and her mind is filled with exciting thoughts about the animals she’ll get to see—and the pictures she’ll get to take deep in the jungle. During a hike with her brother through the Amazon rainforest, they discover a baby sloth that is badly injured. Lea quickly decides she must do all she can to help the little sloth survive. But as she learns more, she wonders: “Is that the right thing to do?”

LeaAndCamila

Lea and Camila: For spring break, Lea Clark has invited her Brazilian friend Camila to St. Louis for a stateside adventure. They find a stray kitten and make a mysterious discovery while visiting a grand but crumbling mansion. Lea is determined to uncover the secrets of her discovery, but in her search for clues she forgets to be a good host to Camila. And when Lea’s best friend, Abby, becomes fast friends with Camila, Lea feels a little left out. Can she find a way to reconnect with her friends—and solve the mystery, too?

Lea will encourage your girl to face her fears, explore the world around her, and open her mind. These stories inspire girls to have new experiences.

lea movie

A movie will accompany her collection in the summer. Unlike movies that have come out before for other American Girl dolls, this movie will not be based on the books (or rather a re-telling of the books) and will be the “fourth” story. American Girl announced that it will continue Lea’s adventures in the rainforest.

“An unexpected twist sends Lea back to the rainforest for an all-new movie adventure!”

Her collection includes:

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Her Meet outfit and Beachwear for kayaking.

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Lea’s souvenir outfit

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Pajamas for sleeping under the tropical rainforest.

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Lea goes hiking in this ensemble.

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Lea’s photography and animal-watching accessories.

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Beach accessories

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Hiking accessories

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Kayaking accessories with Kayak.

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Sea turtle

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Banana Berry stand

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Margay cat

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Lea’s rainforest house

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A sloth

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bathing suit and beach outfits

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Review 

I know. I’m late. Lea has been out for 9 days now, and I’m just now posting this. See, the thing is I thought I’d already posted this. My issue was I was so excited about Melody, I forgot to post this for those interested in Lea.

And I must admit it: I am not one of those people.

Don’t get me wrong. She is pretty. I like the combination of her hair and skin color. I’m tired of the hazel eyes trend, though. :/

Still, there is just something so BORING about her. Is it just me or is American Girl Girl of the Year suddenly…uninspiring? It’s starting to feel like they are repeating the same dolls over and over again. And I’m not talking about the way she looks. I’m sure a lot of people are disappointed that she is another white, blonde character. That doesn’t quite disappoint me. Maybe it’s because I’m not as interested in the Girl of the Year as the Beforever collection. Still, when I see a GOTY I just really love, a doll I can’t resist, she must really be amazing. That’s how I felt about Grace last year. That’s not how I feel about Lea. In fact, the only other doll that bored me this much was Isabelle and for the same reason. There are several things that bore me about this collection.

Haven’t we done the tropical destination theme before?

I understand eventually American Girl will run out of ideas, but they haven’t even covered the SCOPE of ideas before settling with something they’ve already done before. Placing a movie with Lea’s collection will not resolve this issue. Lea seems like a last-minute character. They borrowed some ideas from old collections and put her in a familiar tropical environment.

What about a chess player? A musician, like a pianist or violinist or guitarist? I would’ve thought they would even try a singer or model before doing something over. What about a cheerleader? What about a girl football player?

Why don’t they make all the science items they failed to make for Maryellen and place them with the Girl of the Year?

But NOOO. That would be too original.

Girl of the Year has done this tropical theme TWICE, along with Kailey’s beach theme. Lea’s collection lacks identity.

Let’s just observe this boring collection closely for a moment…

The Kayak

I already have my Kayak from Jess’s collection.

jess kayak

Why would I be interested in Lea’s Kayak? :/ BOOORRRIINNNG. YAWN. I like the inflatable feel of Jess’s Kayak versus the plastic piece of junk in Lea’s collection. It’s not tempting. But I guess it’s easier for bath-time use.

Tie-dyed fashion

I’m also tired of the tie-dyed look as well. I’m feeling a Jess vibe from that, too.

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Jess

And it’s not that the styles are anything alike, but Lea’s theme is so redundant. It has been done too many times. It’s bad enough I’m not a big fan of tie-dye. It’s worse that they’ve done this more than once.

Rainforest House

I’m interested in the rainforest house a bit, but it does not make me long for Lea. It suits my Jess perfectly. Jess looks more unique than Lea does, so I see no need to add Lea to my collection for any reason, not even because a rainforest house was mentioned in her story and is supposed to be a part of her collection. I have no interest in reinventing Lea’s stories.

Berry Banana Stand

The Berry Banana stand reminds me of the Shave Ice stand from Kanani’s collection. Another tropical-themed collection. Though I actually prefer the Banana-berry stand, I already have a stand. I don’t feel the need to have both.

kanani's shave ice stand

Kanani may have been a repeat of Jess for me (as well as Kailey), but at least she had better fashion sense, cultural pieces, and different accessories in her collection at the time.

I can combine all of the collection pieces I already HAVE and create Lea’s collection.

American Girl has had TONS of hazel-eyed dolls, and the sandy-haired types, too.

What can I gain from this Girl of the Year?

Swimsuit

Girl of the Year has had enough tropical swimsuits to make my head spin.

 

 

Jess swimsuit

Kailey swimsuit

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I understand they are all from different years. I understand that girls today probably don’t remember Kailey and Jess and weren’t able to get their wardrobes when they were available. I get it. Still, I’ve had enough. I’m not interested in purchasing any more of this tropical junk, not for me or anyone else.

If you keep revamping ideas just to give old ideas to the new kiddies, when will you give kids some new stuff? When will you be more creative American Girl? American Girl is a company that has the potential to step outside of these basic ideas. They can do more with their resources than they used to when Girl of the Year first arrived on the scene. So why not broaden the Girl of the Year brand with a more unique destination? Why didn’t they try Africa? I mean, that IS where they filmed the movie!

I don’t even think her books are all that interesting. I’m not interested in learning about the rainforest as I feel the novelty wore off after Jess’s story.

Isabelle was the same way for me. Why would I be interested in a ballerina when I already have Marisol? But at least I was interested in Isabelle’s sewing set. Lea bores me all the way around.

After Grace, I thought American Girl had finally come to their senses. How foolish I was to think that this company would ever live up to my personal expectations.

So, no, Lea isn’t come home. Not one item in her collection is coming home. I’m not even interested in her movie. The fact that she isn’t even Brazilian is worse. I’ll pass. For those of you interested in Brazil or didn’t get a chance to get the other tropical characters, go for Lea.

As for me, I’m more excited for Melody and Girl of the Year 2017.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Do you think I’m being too harsh? Do you like Lea Clark? What would you add in your collection? Or do you think she’s boring as well? I want to know!

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.

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Maryellen

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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!

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.

goty

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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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.

Generation Girl wiki

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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.

 

American Girl’s Samantha Parkington Is NOT an EDWARDIAN doll

7 Sep

I have been a fan of American Girl since 1996. I have been a historian for years. (Wow, time flies).

American Girl, LLC, while being a company that prides itself on its historical line of dolls, haven’t always been historically accurate when it came to their dolls. Kirsten with bangs? That was never a trend in the 1800s. The new Beforever re-vamp really shows them stretching things a bit. They have Samantha and Caroline sporting modern-styled headbands…

I’m not the type of fan that glosses over everything related to American Girl just because I’m a fan of American Girl, and if you’ve been following my blog, you know that.

Just check out my Beforever article. Click Me.

But I have to disagree that the stories themselves are inaccurate. I’ve found all of the stories to be as close to historically accurate that it can be for nine year olds. It has only been guilty of glossing over greater issues. But considering most of life in the books is from the mind of a nine year old, it’s pretty accurate. It would be less accurate for nine year olds to go through many of the experiences many adults went through (For instance, it would be unrealistic to put a nine year old like Molly in the middle of a battle in Germany during the actual D-day invasion). Sure, many things happened in the stories that seemed far-fetched. But some of the adventures have been based on real-life events that some young people have experienced. It is fiction, but any other additions that are historical have been pretty accurate.

The biggest controversy that many people throw at me is Samantha’s Era. Many people believe it was inaccurate for American Girl to label her as “Victorian” when Queen Victoria had died in 1901 and King Edward was ruling.

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Many support that argument by claiming that the the social culture, even Samantha’s attitude, is more “Edwardian” than Victorian. While some may recognize that Grandmary’s home was old-fashioned and Victorian, they believe that Samantha herself was more properly Edwardian, as well as her environment.

This would be historically false.

Whoever has been teaching anyone that needs to be fired. The rule of King Edward is not apart of American History, and thus is not an era in the American nation. How are we supposed to teach the world American history when we are throwing around this false information? Perhaps people from the U.K. are the ones spreading this around, associating the time frame with the era that was relevant with the history of their nation.

Before you strike, please understand that difference between the rule of Victoria (1837-1901), the Victorian Era, and “American Victorianism”.

American Victorianism

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Unlike when King Edward was ruling, when Queen Victoria was ruling, she sparked many social-cultural trends in Europe that eventually began to influence America. It became known as “American Victorianism”. It was an off-shoot of the European Victorian period lifestyle, which means it was kind of a bogus or reject version. This cultural influence was not to necessarily define Victoria’s reign itself (because why would Americans care who is ruling another country?). It came simply from fascination with her lifestyle and the lifestyles of MANY other European nations.  This is the difference between the way England experienced the Victorian era and the way Americans experienced it. It was not to honor Queen Victoria as the ruler, but to utilize her lifestyle as a model for social-cultural reasons. During this era, the wealthy wanted to distinguish themselves from the growing middle class. The era emphasized the battle between the two major upper-classes in America, and emphasized the shift from inherited wealth to self-made wealth.

In other words, the American Victorian era did not reflect the true English Victorian era.

To add, the American Victorian era didn’t just reflect ENGLAND’s lifestyle. And that’s what makes American Victorianism so different from Victoria’s actual reign and England’s Victorian era. America’s Victorian era also came from the influence of France as well! Please read the following page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_America

Basically, the Victorian Era for AMERICANS focused on “old money” (people who inherit wealth rather than work for it) individuals who were uncertain with their American identity, as this began shortly after the Second War of Independence and lasted from the 1840’s up until around 1914. That uncertainty showed heavily. “Old Money” Americans began to show interest in “richer” cultures. They borrowed heavily from European culture. The first nation they borrowed from was England, hence why the term was coined. But they “borrowed” more social-cultural trends from FRANCE than they did from England throughout it all! Though Victoria was the inspiration behind the coined era title, she isn’t exactly what the Victorian Era in America is all about. France’s culture was actually more influential in this era. “Old money” people ate French foods, imported goods from France, drank french wines, and even spoke French! Nothing to do with England, but still a part of the Victorian era in AMERICA. For some of you who went around thinking that the rulership of a queen defined this American period, you’d be shocked to find so many other influences marking the Victorian period in America. The one thing they did adopt from England, however, was their “proper” rules of etiquette. This was a very distinct characteristic of this period, and why England is so associated with the period. But again, many other trends came from France.

If you people remember Samantha Learns a Lesson, Samantha and the other girls in her classroom were expected to learn French! This was a part of American Victorianism. To learn French was obviously not a trend in England. It came from France.

Another part of American Victorianism was influenced by Asia as well, another continent known to have “rich” cultures. Many wealthy elites imported goods from Asia as well! Japan was particularly a fascination. Kimonos became a heavy part of the culture. Japanese screens were also popular in this period. I believe Samantha’s doll-sized room scene had a screen designed on the far left. India and China also had goods that were of interest to the elite. Pajamas originated in India from traditional Indian fashion! This is why the doll Nellie is marketed with pajamas.  Really, the American Victorian era was not only “English”-inspired.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pajamas

There were many other trends that marked American Victorianism, made it different from Victoria’s literal reign, and different from England’s Victorian era. Unlike in Europe, American Victorianism was mostly about the wealthy competing with one another. The upper-class Americans funded the arts through donations to emphasize their status and power. The wealthy were patrons that donated money to found opera houses, symphony orchestras, and art museums. One of those Opera Houses might have been the inspiration for the Opera House mentioned in Samantha Learns a Lesson, where she gave her speech on Progress in America.

So many of the wealthy competed with one another, trying to make one seem more wealthy than the other. Europe did not have this problem, as all arts were funded by the government. They also didn’t have the same problem with their growing middle class (They had their own social issues). So competition did not mark European wealth or European Victorianism. It only marked “Victorian” wealthy classes in America.

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The other difference between the era honoring Queen Victoria’s reign in England and American Victorianism is that it first began to influence America in the 1840s, not EXACTLY at the time Victoria took the throne in 1837. That’s not how influence works. It just doesn’t show up the moment someone becomes a ruler. It grows over time until it reaches beyond the borders. It also just doesn’t end abruptly, just because someone suddenly dies. Influence spreads and is hard to clean out when it’s all over. One event really can’t bring in a whole era without a series of events following after it, so equally, one event can’t kill an era. There needs to be a series of new events to kill an old era. That’s how powerful and influential eras are.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_America

The American Victorian era began a bit after Victoria was crowned and ALSO ended a bit after her death. American Victorianism officially died in 1914. On the page above, scroll down to Poverty and Immigration. Massive Immigration marked the American Victorian era as well, something that had nothing to do with the reign of Victoria or Victorianism in England. And that wave is said to have ended when? In 1914.

This book, published about 1904 America, is properly coined “Victorian” by historians, no matter what was going on in England: Gertrude Jekyll’s Old West Surrey: Some Notes and Memories (1904).

Many “Victorian-style” homes were built in 1904 as well. One Victorian-styled home was built by a doctor in 1904. It was specifically named Victorian. And this is not out of ignorance. Victoria still had major influence on America in 1904, despite her death just three years before! Do you think they just tore these homes down and immediately got rid of their decorations, just because she passed away? And an old-fashioned woman like Grandmary certainly would’ve kept her home and household as it had been for years: Victorian.

The influence of Victorian America expanded cities in the nation, especially New York City, the setting for two of Samantha’s stories. The influence of the American Victorian era’s expansion didn’t just end when Queen Victoria died. New York City STILL remained a big city, still continued to grow even after her reign, and it still housed the great number of immigrants. This is all considered a part of American Victorianism.

The Industrial Revolution had a lot to do with American Victorianism in the 1800s, but the body of “new rich” (people who made money from business, hard work, and genius ideas) were threatening the status of the “old rich” (people who were rich simply because they inherited it from a family member), and this influenced the American Victorian era more distinctly. The two rich classes were culturally different and they were in great conflict.

And this is where Samantha’s story comes in. The “old money” developed a “society” made up of “proper families”, as quoted from the above page. But the new rich could not easily join the “society”, which was the point. Most of the “new money” came from poor families, and the “old money” didn’t want to integrate with them. The Industrial Revolution in America helped poor families make more money, moving them up in the social ranks.

Towards the end of the Victorian era, the youngsters of this era were getting tired of old “Victorian values” and society’s restrictions.

The new generation was in fact getting tired of it after the upheaval of the Civil War in the 1860s. But after Queen Victoria’s death and the onset of World War I, that’s when it really died. The world no longer seemed so glamorous. During World War I, all connections with other nations were closed off, not allowing any immigrants into the nation. This also limited the amount of imported goods that could come into the nation. Thus, the final end of the Victorian era. Americans finally began to form an identity of their own rather than be led by European and Asian cultural values.

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This is what Samantha’s personality represents. She steps in to represent the new generation that questioned American Victorianism, and the generation that brought about sweeping changes in the nation. Uncle Gard is also considered young, and so is Cornelia. They represent the new era that was gradually rising.

Though it’s debatable whether we should call the era Victorian or not, that “new” era rising in America was not called the “Edwardian Era”. King Edward had just become King, and therefore, could not have made that much of an impact in the beginning of his reign. Even if he eventually flourished in England, England’s values no longer had much of an influence on America. King Edward never flourished any trends in America. Any trends that even hinted to be “English” were the aftermath of the Victorian era. If you do deeper research, there is no such thing as an Edwardian Era in America. You really don’t even have to dig that deep.

The Edwardian Era is a part of WORLD history, but not American history. There is a difference. Just like the American Civil War is a part of American history, but do you really think that’s a part of England’s history? No. They had their own Civil Wars.

The Digital Revolution is a lot like the Victorian Era. The Digital Revolution is influencing the world as we speak, and will be a part of everyone’s history. But how that era is experienced, how long it lasts, and when it even all began varies according to nation. The Victorian era was similar.

What was that era called that the “new wealth” brought in? It was called the Progressive Era, and Samantha’s story takes place smack in the middle of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Era

The Progressive Era began in the 1890s, and was flourishing even when Queen Victoria was alive. By Samantha’s time, it was slowly taking over Victorian values. Samantha’s stories highlight the conflicting attitudes between the dying Victorian Era and the new Progressive Era. This conflict continued, really, until around WWI. Most historians consider it’s final death to be 1914. These two conflicting cultures greatly influenced Samantha’s life, often causing her confusion as to what is right. Her personality really reflects much of the uncertainty of the nation itself, as it struggled to find an identity in the middle of all of these changes.

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Just as people were slowly losing interest in European culture, what we eventually see is Grandmary slowly moving away from her own Victorian values (the Victorian era being an era that reflected a time when Americans defined themselves by foreign nations) to a more American Progressive society (where Americans were beginning to form their own identity as a nation). The American Progressive way of thinking believed in progress and helping the underprivileged.

Many social changes were a part of American Victorianism. We saw Dorothea Dix trying to help the mentally ill. We saw laws making it mandatory for children to be in school. There were many social changes made during this period. And even though all of these social changes weren’t necessarily created in 1904, all of the efforts of these movements were at their strongest by Samantha’s time, making 1904 the perfect time to express the bridge between Victorian values and Progressive America. The Victorian way of thinking didn’t mind finding work for immigrants, but they kept separate lives from those who were not of their “class”. The Progressive way of thinking sought to encourage self-made wealth, which can put any poor man in a wealthy position if he worked hard enough. This was EXTREMELY different from the era that marked King Edward’s rule in England, and they were not linked.

The conflicts of this era were evident between Grandmary’s way of handling Nellie’s friendship with Samantha, and how Uncle Gard, the more progressive man, handled their relationship. When Samantha asked Grandmary in Samantha Learns a Lesson (a book we could all learn a lesson from), “Why won’t Edith Eddelton’s mother let her play with Nellie?” Grandmary’s response was in simple Victorian fashion: “Why, Edith Eddleton is a young LADY”. Something like that. Samantha then tells Grandmary, “But you let me play with Nellie.” Grandmary then states, in typical Victorian fashion, “You are not playing with Nellie, you are helping Nellie. There’s a difference.” The chapter then ends by saying that Samantha didn’t like that difference. Which seems like something a 9 year old, who usually is more unaware of social classes, would think and feel.

Uncle Gard and Cornelia, however, show more American Progressive attitudes. They adopt Nellie, where Grandmary just simply found work for Nellie and her family. They presented two different solutions to the same problem. Though the fashions, huge Christmases, and glamorous displays of wealth from the Victorian era still traveled into the Turn of the Twentieth Century for many of the wealthy (because you just can’t get rid of clothes and houses, and not just because a Queen has died), IDEAS were starting to change.

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You still don’t get the picture? Still don’t understand why Samantha can appropriately be called “Victorian” as well as “Progressive?” Still don’t understand how she can be Victorian even after the death of a faraway queen? Still don’t understand why the Edwardian Period never existed in America?

Let me share an example of how this can occur. Most American Girl fans consider Molly the “WWII era” doll. When most Americans think of WWII, they think of the 1940s, correct? WELL, WWII had been going on around the world since the 1930s! Did you know that the Italians first invaded Ethiopia in 1935? Though the actual war was declared in 1939, many invasions happened throughout the mid to late 1930s. For many people around the world, they define the WWII era as the 1930s! Hitler became the Chancellor in 1933! It was then that political scientists predicted another “Great War” was on the way. For many overseas, Kit would be more appropriately called the WWII era girl. So why do Americans only associate the times from 1941-1945 as WWII? Because that is the time when America was most influenced by the war. ALL of the 1940s can be considered apart of the WWII era, even though the war was over in 1945! This is because there is always an aftermath. The war just doesn’t affect one period of time, end, and then the effects from it disappear. The influence of the war was much deeper than that. WWII changed things, during and after the war. Women had to give their jobs back to men, they had to reconstruct their families after years without loved ones, and they had to replace worn things in their homes with all the things they couldn’t get because of the war. Though this is post-WWII, it is still considered a part of the era. Do you understand how eras work now? If you don’t, leave me a comment and we can discuss further.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II#Italian_invasion_of_Ethiopia_.281935.29

The confusion comes when you confuse an era with an event. An event is different from an era, though events often lead to eras. An event would be WWII, the Yellow Fever Epidemic (this is why I never considered MG and C to have their own era), or the crowning of Queen Victoria and her reign. An ERA is a period of time that is usually marked by not only events, but distinctive characteristics, changes on the earth, and so many other things. Events don’t define an era exclusively, and this is why the death of Victoria did not end the era. In fact, it became an event that was a part of that era. Thus, also, the crowning of King Edward did not just cut the Victorian era in America short.

As I also mentioned before, you wouldn’t call an 1860s historical doll representing England’s history a “Civil War” era doll. There was no Civil War in England at that time and the Civil War in America did not greatly influence England’s history beyond hearing news about it. You equally wouldn’t call Samantha an “Edwardian Era” doll just because Edward is King in England. If it doesn’t affect America, it is not apart of American history.

So, what is my conclusion? It is incorrect to call Samantha the “Edwardian period doll”. Any real historian will LAUGH at you. You can correctly call her Victorian, that is not inaccurate according to AMERICAN HISTORY. American Victorianism was not directly influenced by Queen Victoria alone, but all European nations, some Asian nations, and a desire for the “old wealth” of America to feel more important than the “new wealth”. That is nothing like the Victorian era in England, which was mostly marked by national self-confidence, peace, and prosperity, not wealthy conflicts…And there was no true peace in America during the American Victorian period. The Civil War erupted during this time, which disrupted the “peace”.

Samantha appropriately represents the shift from the American Victorian period to Progressive America. It would also be appropriate to call her the “Turn of the Twentieth Century” girl as well. Either one is historically correct.

Edwardian is NOT.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you think I don’t know what I’m talking about, leave me a comment, and I will gladly give more supporting evidence.

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