Tag Archives: Beforever

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

29 Dec

melody-movie

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

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

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

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

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

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

Director:

Tina Mabry

Writer:

Alison McDonald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*The following article may contain some spoilers.

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

PROS

The Message

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

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

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

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

Marsai Martin

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

Promotional Value

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

Educational Value

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

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

CONS

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

The Cast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

music-in-the-movie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authenticity and Realism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Cecile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Addy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And she’s such a sweet girl to boot.

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

american girl melody

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Girl 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?”
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 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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American Girl’s Beforever

14 May

Many rumors are flying around for American Girl, many of them include extreme changes to the American Girl’s historical brand of dolls. Many of them aren’t very positive. Now, I can just conclude that maybe most American Girl fans aren’t comfortable with change. But in the fans’ defense, American Girl doesn’t make change an easy transition, either. Every doll line deals with changes. Heck, every company makes changes. But American Girl isn’t like most doll lines. The reason why fans have a harder time dealing with changes to American Girl is because the “changes” cost so much.

Many people who actually buy and support American Girl dolls have been fans for years. The things that made them love the American Girls are slowly diminishing. And I’m sorry, the kids don’t make up the largest percentage of fans. They are too busy on I-pads, computers, and buying Monster High. And kids don’t have $100 on them like adults do.

I’m included in this bunch of adult American Girl fans. For years, since the retirement of key historical American Girls, I’ve seen the American Girls tumble down in an endless cycle of modern-day emphasis and a lack of quality. Now, there are even more changes being made to the American Girl brand. I already did an article on the Beforever line, but I’ve seen even more about Beforever. This time, I have more to say. I’m going to hit hard here.

 The Introduction of BeForever

I’ve seen the books. American Girl gave some dolls new “Meet” outfits. With the consolidation of the books, that means there will be less clothes and accessories to represent each book. Last, Marie-Grace and Cecile aren’t apparently included in this new and “improved” line. American Girl is also giving the historical dolls a different name: BeForever.

Consolidated books

This time, American Girl is selling three books per character.

I love this idea. I love the fact that, instead of lugging six books around for EACH girl, I would only have to lug three, or in my case, two, because I don’t see the purpose in getting the boxed sets…if I do decide to buy these sets at all.

For those who don’t know, the books aren’t being re-written, according to American Girl. They are just making the text smaller and making alterations to fit the new outfits. They are fitting six books into two. They are trying to make their beginner books “feel” like novels since children today are more “sophisticated”. I mean, look at how many children read Hunger Games? This will basically be like the American Girl Story Collections they had a long time ago…

The only problem with this is that it will intimidate children who are not so comfortable with reading. The smaller books encouraged easy reading to young girls. The Story Collections didn’t make much money (maybe because the original series was also still being sold). Though that was a different generation, there are still children who won’t gravitate to a book that’s too thick.

The first two books come together to form the core series. The third book is meant to be centered around a modern girl who travels back in time and goes through an adventure with the historical character. So, yea, anyone can see that they are trying to make the historical dolls more “appealing” to modern children. Readers get to choose what happens next and decide the ending.

I read the My Journey with Samantha excerpt on Facebook. They are taking a concept they could’ve used for Girl of the Year, and are placing it in Beforever so that it shows how relevant history can be for children today. The third Samantha book seems to focus on divorce. The Girl of the Year line, supposedly American Girl’s modern line of dolls and books, hasn’t even dealt with divorce yet. Really? You’re going to give a good modern story to the third Samantha book? But all they can come up with for Girl of the Year are some ballerinas…

The stories kind of remind me of the Magic Attic Club books. If you’re a ’90s kid, you probably remember those. To children in the 1990’s, they weren’t as detailed, unique, educational, accurate, nor as interesting as American Girl. Ellie, the neighbor who sends the kids in the story to her attic so that they can go on “adventures”, creeped me out as a child. But maybe this generation might appreciate that type of story-telling more than we did.

I like the idea of the new Journey books. They tell me so much about the characters. My only sadness is that Molly and Felicity don’t have books for their time periods. It would be so interesting to see girls travel back to WWII or the Revolutionary War. It would also be interesting for African American girls to see that there is more to Black American history than slavery with a My Journey with Cecile book. And since she shares a story with another American Girl, it would be better. I’m such a dreamer. I recommend these books to American Girl collectors. When reading this, children will recognize how privileged they are to live in modern times. It definitely helps children appreciate history more, and it’s also very entertaining.

My Journey with Samantha Book Excerpt

My biggest, BIGGEST pet peeve with these books: Some of the stories require you to have internet in order to finish reading. I know this is the “Age of Technology”, but believe it or not, every child does not have internet. To add, some children are often reading while traveling. They may not have internet access while traveling. This is also a miss if children want to read this at school. Who’s bright idea was this?

What I also dislike is that this is the end of the six-outfit-per-book tradition. This is also the end for all of those beautiful accessories that brought the stories to life. With just two books, there are only a few items for each character in comparison to what they used to have. Bummer Summer. Many of the outfits look like spring-time outfits. Samantha and Julie are the only ones that have coats. So, there won’t be much variety, so far. I saw this happening on a smaller scale, but now it seems like American Girl is changing that tradition altogether. I’m not totally against it as long as they give us new and BETTER outfits…which so far, doesn’t seem to be happening…More on this later…

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NO MORE LOOKING BACK SECTION OR ILLUSTRATIONS

After a huge panic, I realized that there is sort of a “Looking Back” section: Inside __’s World. And while it isn’t as detailed, doesn’t have any pictures, and has been condensed to two pages, I think girls can get the point. At least they have something that focuses on the history. I do feel that the original “Looking Back” sections were parts of their books that American Girl’s competitors always tried to imitate. I guess now their competition can move right in on that opportunity. But I’m absolutely fine with a brief two-page segment that, at least, sums the whole thing up. I also like that in Beforever there is a lot of focus on the characters. To me, the books are turning out to be the best improvements to the line.

I am a bit sad that there are no illustrations. I can live without it, because I enjoy using my imagination. I also understand that the illustrations caged American Girl into making only outfits that were “in the pictures” (or otherwise be shamed for “deviating from the pictures”). Some of American Girl’s other books, like the original History Mysteries and the Girls of Many Lands series, didn’t have illustrations.

But those illustrations in the American Girl books helped put pictures to words. It helped children understand what American Girl books were talking about. For instance, the horno in Josefina’s book is unimaginable without a clear explanation. Even a glossary to translate it can’t help a child understand what it is. A picture would make a child even more curious about it and its history. Now, it’s even harder to get the kids to understand what’s going on…

Even though children are reading books as advanced as Hunger Games, children still find it easier to read with visuals. Hunger Games is more appealing to kids than it was before because it has a visual now: A movie. Now, as an educator, I, by all means, believe in challenging children to read age-appropriate material, especially considering the target age. However, I notice that some kids don’t usually read for fun, and even when they do, they find it hard to finish what they start. It is usually much easier for children to pick up a smaller book, especially with illustrations. It encourages “fun” reading, so that it doesn’t feel like “homework” reading. I just wish two versions could be made available: one with pictures, one without. But overall, I’m pretty happy with the changes made to the book series.

 New artwork

I love the new artwork. I love the realistic portrayal. I just wish Marie-Grace, Cecile, Felicity, Molly, and Kirsten were able to enjoy the new art…

Josefina Is Missing a Book?

Don’t panic people. I received an email from American Girl about this. My Journey with Josefina is expected to be released in the FALL of 2015.

Although Josefina doesn’t have a Journey book at this time, we expect to
introduce one for her in the Fall of 2015.

Thank you for being a fan of American Girl!

Best wishes,

Your Friends at American Girl

No Marie-Grace or Cecile or Best Friend dolls?

On http://www.americangirlpublishing.com , I don’t see any books with the Archived dolls. MG and C JUST came out two years ago and are already being archived. American Girl has announced that they would keep the Archived girls’ books even after the launch of the Beforever line,

archived dollsbut they don’t have the other books open and obvious to find on their shop website anymore. Now you have to flip through 8 pages of the “Historical Fiction” section to find them. I’m just happy that they are still around.

Oh, and, btw, they GOT RID of the website games for all of the old dolls. That means no MG and C games.

A huge load of crap is the fact that there was no notice, no press release, no news of anything regarding these girls. There was inconsistency between what the store workers were saying and what the Facebook workers were saying. Nothing added up. Now, we all find out American Girl just basically LIED when they clearly stated to most fans who inquired about archivals that they weren’t “archiving any dolls this year”. American Girl has been designing these dolls for TWO years (maybe even more than that). It was trademarked long ago. They KNEW that these dolls were not in their plans, and yet waited so late to announce it. It was almost like they “forgot” about them. I’m sensing another 2000-2001 Felicity problem here, if anyone remembers her retirement back then… These girls ended up retiring on the spot, without warning, and fans are upset because they will not be able to collect and gather items before they disappear. They act like people can just pop up with $100 PER DOLL in two months. That’s someone’s rent money.

Maybe they plan on re-releasing the Archived dolls in the future with the new books. That is left to be seen. Samantha was re-released, so that option isn’t completely far-removed. The only positive thing about this whole change is the return of Samantha, and they couldn’t even get that right…

I’m not even concerned about the Best Friend dolls. It’s also as I said before, they are “accessories” to the main girls. It never was fair how some girls got friends, and the others didn’t have one. I was so mad when Julie got a friend before Addy or Kirsten, but I knew their friends’ dolls “wouldn’t sell” like some of the other best friend dolls they released. So, look how fast they disappeared. Just like all of the other outfits and accessories. What is a loss is the disappearance of their only Asian historical. Pathetic. But it was pathetic when they decided to make their only Asian historical a “sidekick” to begin with.

American Girl says they want to “move away” from the “best friend strategy”. I can see why. It stops them from making new historicals, and they stay stuck in one time period. The outfits they could’ve been making for the actual American Girls often got placed on the best friend dolls. Just a waste of space.

The difference between the other “best friends” and the Marie-Grace and Cecile collection, however, is the fact that MG and C represented a whole new event that was never touched on by any of the other American Girl historical characters. Now we don’t have anyone representing that event. Even with Ruthie and Ivy gone, Kit and Julie will still be around to represent the Great Depression and the 1970’s. We can still hope to see outfits and accessories for their collections. Since Ruthie and Ivy were best friends to two of the main American Girl historical characters, when and if they make new books for the Beforever line, we will get to read new books with Ruthie and Ivy in them. That is not the same case with MG and C. And yet, there was still a lot about the NOLA collection that was left half-done. I still didn’t get my musical stand and notes. Neither did I get my medical kit for MG. Oh, and by the way, now we’re only stuck with ONE black girl.

So, I guess that means Addy’s not being Archived any time soon, huh? I was quite sure Cecile was supposed to be the “pretty, well-dressed” black doll that was going to replace Addy. I was wrong. In this case, I’m glad I was. It’s just sad there isn’t room for two black characters.

Another additional mess is the fact the majority of Caucasian characters are blonde. Samantha will stick out like a thumb on a hand. Maybe that’s what they want, so she will get more attention, but I think we are lacking in the Caucasian variety as well (Perhaps if you don’t consider Rebecca a part of that Caucasian variety, and rather ethnic variety…). There are different hair colors besides blonde in the Caucasian ethnicity. Where are the red heads? Where are the brunettes? We lost three of our lovely bruns (Ruthie, Marie-Grace, Molly), and ALL of our redheads (Felicity, sort of Nellie, and Emily)…

No More Archived Dolls’ GAMES

As mentioned before, the Archived girls’ games are GONE. I know a lot of children who enjoyed playing Felicity’s and Molly’s games even though the girls’ dolls were no longer around.

This really bites my head off.

New “Meet Outfits” and other clothing 

I blame the fans for this one. Fans whined and complained about new outfits for the American Girl historicals so much, American Girl just decided to get rid of the old outfits altogether and replaced them with new, less accurate wardrobes. Way to go, fans. Again, as I always say, fans are always the first to beg for ridiculous things, and then blow a candle out when they realize it’s worse than before. The point is there is no point in fixing what isn’t broken. But fans didn’t see it that way.

So now, Kit, Rebecca, Samantha, Addy, and Julie will be getting new outfits…and some of the clothing items stink. Kit’s birthday outfit hardly seems like Kit. It’s so flouncy, I wonder, again, how much American Girl reads their own literature! Everything is so drenched in pastels, my head is spinning. Sure, everything is frilly and pretty. But not all of it speaks to my historical tastes. This is not to say everything is bad and ugly. Some items are very attractive. But it just feels like the vast majority is…missing something.

Samantha is marketed with a freaking HEADBAND on! It’s almost as if they stuffed a modern girl in a pretty dress from the 1990’s, and labeled it 1904. It’s almost as if they drew inspiration from Disney’s 1950’s version of Alice in Wonderland! And okay, I know bangs were never extremely accurate for a Swedish girl like Kirsten at the time of her release in the 1980’s. Bangs weren’t an extreme trend in the 1800s, though the trend came and went often. I mean, there were bangs, but the convenience of every doll that came out in the 1980s (the era of fringe) having bangs seemed like an attempt to modernize historical dolls rather than focus on historical accuracy at the time.

Am I asking too much to expect an improvement?

Oh well, at least the actual Samantha doll has a bow, even if she does still come with a headband…

Possibly, the girl on the front cover IS a modern girl, since the third book is supposed to center around a modern girl. Perhaps Samantha has go-go boots because she got “tips” on modern fashion from this modern girl. That doesn’t make me happy. I get enough of modern girls with the Girl of the Year. And I’m not a big fan of Girl of the Year story-telling.

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Samantha’s Holiday outfit is awkward for me and a far cry from the beautiful cranberry dress she used to have. The plaid fabric makes it look more like a school outfit than a holiday one. But maybe that’s just my taste. I love the boots, though. The shoes are getting better and better every time…

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Samantha wasn’t the only doll stuck with a headband. Caroline follows the trend from all the way in the 1800s! And the outfit that matches that headband looks like they borrowed inspiration from Disney’s Elsa from the movie Frozen…Yes, it looks like a DISNEY PRINCESS costume. In person, it looks cheap. I do not recommend this at all. And yet, this is the only new outfit Caroline got. I didn’t think her old birthday outfit was all that great, as I wasn’t fond of the “stickers” on the dress. BUT at least the style was more authentic.

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Kit looks like she belongs in the 1950’s instead of the 1930’s. I really miss that bell cap. They “dumbed down” Kit’s wardrobe. It lacks so much detail and authenticity. I expected an improvement, not a down-grade. Kit’s school dress was more realistic than this. Would a Depression-era girl wear matching shoes with her outfit like this? And what about Kit’s androgynous overalls? Oh wait, maybe they don’t appeal to these girls today…It takes the next generation to ruin a perfectly-created line. Kit’s collection, by far, is my least favorite.

They added too many bright colors to this line. I understand that the colorful dresses make it more appealing to little girls (I suppose), but Depression-era kids found it hard enough to keep their clothes clean. Pastels would’ve made life harder. I would understand if they made one colorful dress for Kit. But they went crazy with the fabric colors and designs. I don’t like Kit’s designs or fabrics. It’s just too busy for me. Kit’s collection was once my favorite collection. It is now a collection I hope will have many items retiring.

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I’m really going to miss Kit’s feed-sack dress, which brings me to another conclusion. Because they changed the birthday scene on the cover, they changed the text dealing with Kit’s birthday, too. If you are not a fan of the series, this may not bother you. I know most fans only collect dolls anyway. I got into American Girl for the stories, so I’m a stickler about the books. I am in fact more in love with the stories than the dolls. And yes, I know it’s a doll company, and doll companies will change outfits to fit their business, but I don’t have to support something I don’t like, either. Everything has a consequence. If American Girl makes changes that I don’t like, then they have to deal with the loss of my money and support. Simple as that. However a fan becomes a fan varies, and I’m one who appreciates their story-telling. I collect so many other historical dolls, I don’t care so much about American Girl’s dolls alone. American Girl had appealing characters and story-period-accurate clothing,which made them stand out from other historical doll lines. In fact, I’m more about story-character accuracy than even historical accuracy. I absolutely love the individual character personalities. These characters have more depth than any other personalities associated with doll lines. They have distinct interests and hobbies. Most doll lines (and I collect many) have cue-card descriptions to characters, descriptions that usually give typical, superficial diversity (she’s the sporty character, she’s the glam character, she’s the sweet character, she’s the smart character, etc). But now, the things I happened to appreciate about this doll line are a bit screwy.

Just look at the hideous birthday dress Kit’s wearing now. I’m disappointed. My favorite part of Happy Birthday, Kit *SPOILER ALERT* was when Aunt Millie made Kit her mint green dress. Kit had been grouchy from the heat, and from having to wear winter clothes in the spring and summer. Then Aunt Millie surprised Kit with a mint green feed sack dress. The color and style was so cool, that Kit felt cool in the middle of the heat as she put it on. I loved that moment, that connection with Aunt Millie, and it made me love the dress even more. This new birthday dress doesn’t even compare. I hate when companies change the book to go along with future plans. They could’ve at least made the dress a cool color.

This also goes along with all of the other dresses that they’ve changed. Samantha never talked about her dress in Meet Samantha, so that’s an easy change. But what about Addy’s dress? That hardly looks like a simple dress she would’ve gotten from a simple southerner in Meet Addy. Rebecca’s dress is okay, it just really isn’t AS authentic, but it will do. That’s how I feel about most of the outfits. Many are just barely hanging on a historical thread. Some are just out-right modern. Many outfits seem re-used or seem to belong in another time period besides the one it is being marketed to. It’s just…messy. I’m not one of those fans that like cute and frilly, semi-historical, semi-contemporary outfits. Some people like to collect dolls for their cute-ness, and if you’re that type of fan, you may fall in love with Beforever. But as for me, I buy things that are story-accurate and historically-accurate, even if it’s not cute. I prefer a home-museum of hideous but authentic artifacts to just a bunch of pretty semi-historical items, though I like pretty things too…If they represent the characters and history well. I am a fan of that first and foremost, so most of the clothing items turn me off.

This is also what I hated about Felicity’s lavender dress. It was just not as authentic. But at least, they didn’t have to change the text. They had to change the text in Felicity’s books after they changed Elizabeth’s hair from brunette to blonde in Felicity Learns a Lesson, but it didn’t change the nature or emotions of the story…Though I never bought any of the new books with blonde Elizabeth…

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And no, the above is not a photoshopped picture…

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For those of you who don’t know, Felicity had been retired in 2001. Prior to 2001, Felicity’s best friend Elizabeth’s hair color was brunette and her eyes were brown in the original book illustrations. When Felicity was re-released with her movie in 2005, they decided to change Elizabeth’s hair color to fit more with the movie. They changed the character’s hair for the movie so that she wouldn’t look related to Felicity or wouldn’t be confused with Felicity because many of Felicity’s relatives had dark hair in the film. I still don’t understand how they thought people would confuse red hair with dark hair, but that was their explanation…Yea, I didn’t really like blonde Elizabeth.

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Aside from the fact that the text will change, Kit’s new birthday dress is hideous. It’s the ugliest and most disarranged dress I’ve ever seen coming from American Girl. The collar stretches awkwardly to an obvious make-shift bow. If I were Kit, this would be more embarrassing than the rick-rack dress she was always complaining about. The ribbon belt on the lower half of the dress looks like it’s awkwardly holding up a skirt that’s too big to fit on Kit. It looks embarrassingly raggedy. The dress LOOKS like it came from a sack. It looks like it was cut up every-which-way, and thrown together at the last minute. It definitely doesn’t look like a kind and caring Aunt took the time to put a beautiful dress together for, basically, her granddaughter. It looks like she slapped some table cloths together just to shut Kit up…

To add, Kit hates pink. That’s a “no, no” in my book. I am all about character-portrayal accuracy. Thus, this piece is definitely not something I like. I would be so embarrassed to wear a color I despise to my own birthday party. Maybe a Depression-era girl would appreciate just any dress. But wouldn’t it have been better if it was a dress that was in a color she actually liked? Wouldn’t it have been better if it was in a style that was true to Aunt Millie’s talent of making things “beautiful and useful”? It just looks useful…not beautiful.

Kit’s birthday dress isn’t the only dress I’m not feeling. I’m not a fan of polka-dots, so they can have Kit’s reporter dress.

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AQ_BKC52_FL_1Julie’s Meet outfit is so plain without all of the fancy accessories. It lacks the detail that the original outfit had. They simplified her outfit with a shirt, jeans, and a sweater vest. Really ordinary. The original “Meet” outfit had embroidery near the neck-line of a tunic-styled top, a little belt on the waistline, and even had pleats. It even came with two tops instead of one. This new outfit looks like a costume. Any kid today can throw this look together, and I think that’s what Mattel is aiming for: girls can draw inspiration from this simple fashion and create their own Halloween look-a-likes. Any girl can find a tank-top with decals on it, jeans with flowers on them, put a sweater vest on, and call themselves a 1970’s girl. Everything about this look screams “costume-ready”, and, yes, Mattel has taken advantage of this.

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It takes a little more effort to make a perfect costume that matches the original “Meet” outfit…There are just so many details to consider! It had more of a “historical” and an “authentic” feeling to it.

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Most children wore stripes and tunics in the 1970’s, and fashion magazines don’t show children sporting decal-printed tank tops in the 1970’s…

Just go to Google, type in 1970’s tank tops, 1970’s tops, 1970’s fashion, and look at the results…There are no results showing 1970’s decal-printed tank tops…There are hardly any results showing blue-jeans with decals on them…

But there are plenty of stripes and plenty of tunics, so we know it must have been popular and common. Let me make it easier on you. Click the links below.

Google Search

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Instead of creating actual time-period costumes, they have designed some “modern-day” outfits that are “inspired” from the historical American Girls’ outfits! That…is even worse than I thought they would do. But at least they didn’t funk up time-period costumes. Apparently, they have been shifting through Polyvore…

I’m assuming that American Girl decided to make the dolls less “historical” and full of pastels so that it would make it easier to make more modern clothing for girls to match. I guess their “market research” showed that little girls don’t like dressing up in historical costumes, and would rather wear clothing that is trendy; clothing that they can wear anywhere without looking weird. These “inspired” outfits are supposed to promote the Beforever line because it’s supposed to show how girls can borrow styles from the past to apply it to modern-day clothing. And that is a lovely idea–in theory. However, if the cost is a less educational approach or a more inaccurate approach to the actual dolls’ wardrobes, that defeats the purpose in promoting Beforever with girl-sized, “history-inspired” modern wardrobes when the doll’s clothing is basically modern itself. This is fundamental proof that American Girl is trying to “modernize” a HISTORICAL line of dolls.

They also tried so desperately to turn Julie into a 1970’s teenager. “Let’s grow her up a few years so she can have trendier clothing”. One of Julie’s outfits come with some platform shoes! What? No child at the age of 9/10 would look like this in the 1970’s! What research do they do? I’m sure over half of those designers at American Girl LIVED during the 1970’s as children. Do they honestly remember wearing PLATFORMS as children? It’s like they got amnesia the moment they began working on Julie’s design! However, the outfit that is marketed with those shoes are to DIE for. I think the outfit is period-accurate and attractive in person.

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There’s one more pet peeve I have with Julie’s collection. Julie’s Christmas outfit doesn’t even look like a Christmas outfit, even for a girl who lives in California…And yet, that’s what American Girl calls it. At least it’s cute. Anyone can buy it and pretend it’s for some other occasion. I accidentally told a friend that this was Julie’s birthday outfit. They believed it. When I told my friend what it really was, after looking it up again, my friend said I didn’t even need to explain because it can pass for anything. This won’t go well with “Christmas” playtime. So that just means Julie is without a Christmas wardrobe…The only thing that even slightly screams Xmas are the bow and belt as they are of a velvet fabric.

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Julie’s outfits are not where it ends. Most of the new outfits for all of the girls look more like modern-day costumes effortlessly trying to depict the past rather than actual antiques. Some of them are just completely “out-of-season” and don’t match the events they are marketed to represent…

Some outfits just feel recycled and re-used. They basically recycled Cecile’s outfit, dyed it a different color, tweaked it a bit, and threw it on Addy. Talk about a lack of creativity. And if any of you know the story of Meet Addy, you would also remember that *SPOILER*the southern woman in the story gave Addy her “Meet” dress while she was running away from slavery with her Momma to the North. Can you really see a girl running away from slavery in a dress that looks as fancy as Cecile’s dresses? Addy, sitting on a ship for months (*SPOILER*At the end of the first story, the southern woman takes them to a ship heading North), in a dress that possibly a wealthy girl of color would’ve worn? It just doesn’t seem very realistic.

In fact, isn’t that the exact same dress Harriet wore in the Addy: An American Girl Story play? Fellow blogger and American Girl wiki admin, Nethilia, pointed this out. It’s obviously a dress a wealthy girl of Color would’ve worn…

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Nethilia’s photo, from Americangirl.wikia.com and American Girl Outsider blog. A very strong-willed African American woman. 😉

Despite the lack of character-accuracy, which is a must for me to buy, many of you may be pleased to find that the dress is really gorgeous in person.

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I also like Addy’s school outfit. It is the most period-accurate out of all of the outfits. I love that it’s still a blue color, though the pastels are getting to me…But that outfit was done perfectly.

Click to see Addy’s School outfit

But even this isn’t enough to ease my irritation.

To strike the lowest blow, what is with all of this PINK? All of this barfing pink! Samantha, Caroline, Rebecca, Kit! Kit even has some hints of pink in her “Meet” dress! They even changed Kaya’s and Samantha’s background colors to PINK! Didn’t the Girl of the Year JUST come out with PINK?! I mean, aren’t there other colors in the rainbow that people in history bought? All of these pastels are sickening! Attack of the Barbie, anyone? Not that I don’t get enough of it walking down the toy aisle in my nearest Walmart…

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AW_BKC60_FL_1   AS_BKC63_FL_1 If this is what’s supposed to sell to these kids, then I’m glad I’m not a kid today. This is pathetic. At least throw in some white.

I was impressed with Josefina’s Meet outfit. I love the color tones in her skirt much more than I liked the old one, and it is period-accurate, but maybe not as practical for a rancho worker and her daily life…It looks more like something a New Mexican girl would wear to a fandango. But since that happened in the first story, I like it. If you see it up close, it looks really nice. The colors are rich and vibrant. I like it.

Click to see Josefina’s outfit

Rebecca’s outfits are rather nice in person. Her Holiday dress is a favorite of mine, but NOT necessarily appropriate for a winter holiday. It fits more of a “spring-time” theme in my opinion.

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What really “Grinds My Gears” about Rebecca’s collection is how badly they are trying to “remove” the emphasis on her religion in her collection. They changed “Rebecca’s Hannukah Dress” to “Rebecca’s Holiday Dress” as her title description. When my classroom kids clicked it, they thought it was her Christmas dress…

Overall, we have some outfits that are pretty, but many others that fail at being story accurate, character accurate, historically accurate, age-appropriate (Julie, you’re guilty), or just simply beautiful (Kit, why did they screw you over). The rest are one color, you guessed it: Pink.

American Girl is starting to realize people don’t like many of the fashions, so they have revived their old “Meet” outfits. They are now called “Classic Outfits”. So, they are still available for purchase, if any of you are interested. I know I am.

Accessories

As I mentioned before, there are not as many new outfits for the books as there used to be in the 1990s. Many of the old accessories have retired. In just TWO MONTHS, some of the items have disappeared. Some items are still around, and some have been re-used from other American Girl collections (Many from the NOLA girls’ collection).

And guess what ya’ll? The quality of some of the new items are horrifying low. One example would be Samantha’s locket. Samantha comes with a locket that DOESN’T open. All of the old lockets could open. And that new thing costs $24! Maybe they are so low on funds that they couldn’t produce high-quality lockets, but it’s so disappointing that American Girl has lost so much value with such high prices. Advice: Keep your old locket. When buying something from this new line, I recommend you see these items in person before you buy them. Or ask questions about everything you desire to purchase before you buy the item or before you decide to replace your old items. Many of the items are not of great quality…

Another problem I have is, again, Rebecca’s religion being “neutralized” to appeal to more “Christmas-celebrating” households in the advertising of Rebecca’s products. They mashed her tea time collection with Sabbath.  Her Sabbath set is now called her “Tea-Time Traditions”. Come on, American Girl. State it as it is. They are a part of her Jewish culture. Don’t try to mold her to feel more comfortable with “Christmas-celebrating” households. Educate children on the diversity of religion in the USA. Please.

THE PRICE

Despite the obvious lower quality and inaccurate “period” clothing, American Girl decided to BUMP the price of the dolls up $15! Apparently, in American Girl’s mind, they think they deserve a pat on the back, a job well done, as if we should grace them with 15 more dollars! No they didn’t just screw us over by discontinuing FOUR $100 dolls in TWO MONTHS. No they didn’t just retire MOST of their old accessories in TWO MONTHS, which would usually take months to collect. And now they expect US to buy their $115 dolls? And that is not including the prices of the playsets and accessories, which are at very awkward prices as well.

One of Samantha’s outfits HAS to be bought with a tea set! They made it a “requirement”, which bumps up the price of that outfit. Um, I don’t need another tea set, thus I don’t need that outfit.

American Girl, you’re making me laugh as I start to realize the joke you are. I am NOT fitting $115 in my budget. Considering how people feel about some of these horrendous outfits and your poor unprofessional moves, you would think they would make it easier by lowering the prices. But oh no! You just have to find more reasons to screw people OVER!

And they just gave me more reasons not to support Beforever’s dolls. If I do get a doll, she will be naked and half this price. She and her outfits won’t be coming home at the same time, I’ll tell you that. I feel sorry for anyone who wants to put this kind of money into the line. Good luck pumping this kind of change out. I have plenty of bills to pay that I won’t put on the side for this mess of a doll line.

Beforever

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The new “title” for the historical characters is “Beforever”. Whoever thought that this name was a good idea must have been drunk. Or they wanted to appeal to the “hashtag” generation (I suppose “historical characters” doesn’t go over well on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, or whatever other social media). I guess this is supposed to be easier for kids to read and understand more than “historical”. But it cheapens the brand. What’s wrong with children learning about the word “historical”? It is supposed to be an educational line, after all. Apparently, they think this lame, cheesy new title will appeal to children more. It might. But it’s still lame. Let’s replace the value of history by telling them to “beforever”. I hope they don’t keep this title “Forever”. What’s wrong with keeping it simple? They are historical characters, therefore, historical. Period. Apparently with Mattel, fans don’t talk, money does. So this fan’s money will stay in her pockets.

So that’s my spin on the new Beforever line. After reviewing everything I’ve seen and heard, I am just completely torn apart when it comes to the line. Man, it looks like I’ll be saving a LOT of money this year, first with the Girl of the Year and now with this. I am open to some changes. I am considering getting the new consolidated books with the pretty artwork, but without the “Looking Back” section, my old books are more valuable to me than the new ones. I want the My Journey with books. I really would’ve appreciated books focusing on WWII and the American Revolution-two of America’s most important events, but I’m still getting those My Journey with books. I still do like some outfits, but many of them are not amazing enough for me to rush out and buy them. Many outfits would look really nice on some of my dolls, but sadly, many outfits fit well with a modern setting rather than a historical one. And I like only a few of their modern dolls’ outfits, so that doesn’t help a fan like me. Maybe that’s what American Girl wants. Maybe they want girls to see that historical girls didn’t dress much different? Not sure how they want to work that. I am a stickler for story-character-accuracy, perhaps even more than historical accuracy, and that has depleted.

I did get the chance to visit American Girl Place. Everything that I thought was bad was pretty bad, but things that I thought were “meh” turned out better. See everything for yourself. 😦 Too disappointed in Kit. The only thing that caught my attention was the My Journey with Kit book, and that’s sad, because I usually come into the store excited with all of the items. The prices were also scary, too.

Click Me to see what this Beforever line is all about so you can form your own opinion. Amazon.com has them set to be released August 28, 2014.

Read Other articles about American Girl:

American Girl Videos

Samantha is NOT Edwardian

The “Real” American Girl models who brought the dolls to life!

American Girl dolls: Do blondes sell better?

Grace Thomas, the New American Girl + My Qualms with American Girl

Meet Cecile and Marie-Grace!

Meet Caroline!

Kit Kittredge: American Girl’s “bad girl”

Farewell Molly

Black History Month Honors Addy and Cecile

Meet Saige Girl of the Year 2013

American Girl Isabelle 2014

Felicity’s Archival and Part 2

Kirsten’s Archival

McKenna 2012’s American Girl

American Girl and my obsession

American Girl at McDonalds

American’s Girl’s first EVER American BOY?

Kit Kittredge: American Girl Beforever’s “Bad Girl”

24 Jan

American Girl brand consists of a line of 18″ dolls both from the past and from the present. The original heart of the brand was the American Girl historical dolls. They each come with six books that tell each girl’s story. The American Girl brand was designed to inspire girls to read and learn about history. The stories focus on heroic 9 to 10 year old girls who display courage, compassion, and an ability to work hard. Obviously, these stories are meant to teach moral lessons, so the girls are meant to have upright personalities to fit. At least, that was what they were meant to have…

However, when we look closer at Kit Kittredge, we may get a totally different impression.

Looking at the doll, it’s hard to imagine that a doll with a soft, pretty sweater and skirt, with the lovely cute bob is anything but innocent and sweet. She’s adorable! The Kit Kittredge movie washed over the more controversial moments in Kit’s story, making Kit out to be the righteous heroine usually portrayed in the other American Girls’ books. But there is a lot more when you actually read the stories that accompany this doll. While she is still quite an honest and virtuous character, there are some things that happen in her stories that push her on the edge, and brings her to that thin line between good girl and bad girl.

SPOILER ALERT: The following information may reveal some things that happened in several American Girl books. If you haven’t read all of the books, and don’t wish to be spoiled, please don’t continue to read any further. But if you don’t care to be spoiled, maybe this can give you a heads-up on what these stories are about.

While there are other American Girls that have done reckless and disobedient things in their stories, many of them had good reasons for doing so. The only one besides Kit who broke a rule for her own selfish wants and desires was Kaya. She took up a daring bareback race instead of looking after her brothers like she was told. But that was probably the only time she broke a rule for selfish reasons. The other time she broke a rule was when she ran toward her horse instead of running for safety in the woods as she’d been told, and while raiders stormed through her village. But she had good intentions. She just also wanted to save her horse…

Caroline also irrationally jumped on thin ice because she was angry with her older cousin and older friend for not paying attention to her. But she was basically trying to fix a mistake she made by retrieving a spinning wheel she lost. She was overall just trying to make her friend, Rhonda, happy.

Sure, Samantha went to the dangerous Tear-Drop Island, the island near the lake her parents drowned in, without getting permission from an adult. She caused everyone to panic and worry. But she was sort of pressured by her twin female relatives to go, and she had the intention of learning more about her parents. She had been there before. I’m sure Samantha wouldn’t have willingly wanted to go to a place she initially believed to be evil and no longer trusted…It was an understandable action.

But Kit has done a little more than any of those things to deserve the title of “Bad Girl”.

I’m going to run down the list of things that Kit has done to deserve this title:

1) She’s Mean

Okay, Molly is also one of the meanest American Girls, too. She was really mean to Alison Hargate, her rich and perfect classmate. In Molly Learns a Lesson, she hides when Alison comes by her house to give her an invitation, and out of jealousy, she balls the invitation up and stuffs it in her pocket. She also excludes Alison out of her Halloween plans in Meet Molly. Sure, those things were mean. But it’s understandable. Alison is pretty annoyingly perfect. Molly also says that Alison suddenly started being nice. Maybe at one time, Alison was mean…

Molly also said some mean things to Emily when they got into an argument, but that’s normal. Emily said something mean about America, and come on, this was WWII America…

But Kit was mean to people who were not annoyingly perfect or insulting. In Meet Kit, she was very mean when it came to Stirling, calling him names like “Shrimp”, and making fun of his unblinking eyes, even before she got to know him. In Happy Birthday, Kit, she even thinks to herself how she can’t imagine Stirling being handsome, which was a very mean thought. She was very much a bully.

She has also taken her frustrations out on her friends several times. She snapped at Stirling because she was frustrated with her chores in Kit Saves the Day, and even got a little frustrated with Ruthie for even wanting Stirling to help them with their tree house. She was even loud about how much she wanted Stirling and his mother, as well all the other boarders, to leave-right in front of his face when they were walking to school one day. Yea, Kit can be straight-forward, it’s one of her qualities. Kit always believes in telling the truth straight-out, even if that truth is hurtful.

But on an honest note, Kit is very mean to herself, calling herself peevish when she was complaining about moving up into the attic, and even recognizing her own poor typing skills. She really is no harder on others than she is herself. But coming out, it just seems downright judgmental, superficial, and mean! I would hate to be on the other end of her eyes. She’d be very harsh with her criticism.

2) She’s Willing to Fight

Out of all the American Girls in the whole series, Kit is the only one that got into a fight at school.

I know other American Girls have done some pretty reckless things to other kids in their stories. Samantha put gum in Eddie Ryland’s hair. And many times, she wanted to fight Edith and Eddie, but Samantha always heeded Grandmary’s rule of “No Fighting”.

Kit, on the other hand, lost so much control in Kit Learns a Lesson, she shoved Roger into a wooden ladder. I would say he deserved it, so maybe she had a logical reason for doing so, but the boy hit his head on that ladder, with a bucket tumbling down on top afterwards. If she’d shoved any harder, he could have gotten a concussion. To add, this was in a school setting, so it broke school rules. It’s not exactly what I would recommend little girls imitating, and it wasn’t exactly the best way to handle the situation, or solve the problem. I don’t think Kit cared much about the rules. She was too angry. Then afterwards, she hid it from her parents…

3) She defies the standards of femininity throughout even the modern century

We have the typical tomboys like Felicity and Julie. Felicity hates doing the typical feminine chores and initially hated the idea of taking lessons on etiquette. She wanted to do things that were considered masculine in the 1700’s, like work at the store and go to school. Felicity would also rather wear breeches instead of gowns and doesn’t take much interest in fashion. Felicity moves at an unladylike pace, and prefers to ride bareback on a horse instead of sidesaddle, which was was not considered proper for a girl in her time. Felicity was not against taking her stockings and shoes off to free her legs, no matter if her skirts blew up in the wind!

Julie joined the all-boys basketball team and became Student Body President, beating out a boy. These are typical feminist qualities.

But at least Felicity had a feminine side to her. In Felicity’s Surprise, she wanted to wear a pretty dress and attend a glamorous ball. Felicity, at least, has a favorite dress, as was mentioned in Meet Felicity. Felicity also likes playing her guitar and working in her garden, two then-feminine skills. Felicity also enjoyed making Shrewsbury cakes with her friend Elizabeth, even though she usually hates cooking and baking for long hours. Felicity also enjoys playing with dolls. Felicity eventually learned to enjoy being a proper young lady, and even began to like serving tea, despite the controversial issues surrounding it.

Julie has a girly side, too. She likes fashion, like those cute Chinese dresses, and she loves getting dressed up, as we saw in Happy New Year, Julie when she dressed up for a special Nutcracker Tea with her father and sister.

Even Caroline, who wasn’t considered ladylike simply because she liked outdoor activities and wanted to be captain of her own ship, enjoyed silks and pretty dresses. Samantha also had quite an unladylike side, as she loved to climb trees and always got herself into mischief. But Samantha loved pretty dresses, queens and princesses, dolls with pretty clothes, and elegant parties.

Kit, on the other hand, defies even today’s standards of femininity. Kit hates dresses, dancing, baking, pink, movie stars, and princesses!  Even our latest American Girl, Isabelle is a dancer, and Kit isn’t into that sort of flouncy activity. Kit isn’t into fairy tale princesses, and finds them to be “phony glitz and glamour”. That’s usually something girls throughout the centuries have always been interested in, even the most feminist of women. But Kit? She’d rather be like real women, women like Amelia Earhart. She doesn’t admire that Amelia Earhart is pretty and strong, but cocky, confident, and independent, usually something boys admire in heroes. Kit is also interested in baseball. In Meet Kit, she had an easy time deciding to give up new dresses and dance classes. But baseball and books were a challenge.

I don’t even remember Kit even wishing for a doll. The only doll she ever got was the one Ruthie made for her, and I don’t even think Kit gave it a name. She never played with it. It stayed on top of her writing desk as a reminder of her heroine, Amelia Earhart. It was more like an action figure. I will admit, none of the modern Girl of the Year American Girl characters have been said to play with dolls, which is surprising, considering American Girl is a doll company. I suppose Kit was just way ahead of her time. She is certainly different from other girls in her era, and certainly different from all the other American Girl Beforever characters, who love dolls.

When Kit actually did want a Hollywood Birthday party from a magazine she had, it wasn’t typical for a girl. She wanted everyone to dress in Robin Hood Costumes, have toy swords, and hang in tree houses. More than likely, it was a boy’s birthday party clipping she had…Even Felicity imagined pretty decorations for her birthday!

The fact that Robin Hood, a man who steals from people, is even one of her heroes says a lot.

Also, unlike the average feminist woman, Kit loves having boys around because she believes they’re “always up to something”. Samantha has a heavy “Girls Only” aura about her. Julie has a “Girl Power” aura about her, too. Kit, on the other hand, was very concerned about impressing Stirling when he came to her house, even though she was disappointed when he arrived.

However, Kit does seem to care a little about her appearance in the fact that she is often embarrassed when she has to wear hand-me-downs and cute rick-rack hemming on her dress. But I think this is mostly because she doesn’t want people to know how poor she is…And she is ashamed of how she has outgrown her clothes and can’t afford to buy new ones. So, obviously, outgrown clothes look awkward on a person…

She did like the red dress Ruthie gave her and the mint green dress Aunt Millie made for her. She mentioned how beautiful the colors were. But she seemed more interested in making her and Ruthie’s special day a success when it came to the red dress, and more interested in keeping cool in the mint green dress, considering her family could not afford summer clothes and she was hot…

Finally, her doll is the only one marketed in androgynous clothes: She was marketed wearing her brother’s old overalls from Kit Saves the Day. Even though Felicity came with breeches, it was not marketed as a part of her main collection.

4) She can be disrespectful to her elders

Other American Girls have shown this trait. In Meet Samantha, Samantha was so angry at Grandmary for not telling her why Jessie the seamstress left that she was a bit disrespectful toward her grandmother. Felicity was very nasty with Jiggy Nye, though he was a bit of a villain.

Kit, on the other hand, doesn’t have very respectful thoughts regarding her Uncle Hendrick, though, rightfully so. She calls him a “sourpuss”, “cranky”, “crabby”, and “cantankerous”. She even stands up to him in Changes for Kit. Though I believe this example is justified, I feel she never really cared to see his side of things. Even though he’s a lonely man, Kit shows no mercy on him like other American Girls might have eventually done. They would’ve gotten to the root of his bitterness.

Kit is also very straight-forward towards Aunt Millie in Happy Birthday, Kit, after Aunt Millie visited her school and embarrassed her. Though I can understand this part as well, Aunt Millie was the reason she still had a roof over her head. Kit was too disrespectful considering that Aunt Millie was the woman who’d saved them all from being evicted.

5) She Goes to Jail

This is really the biggest reason why Kit is badder than the others. It’s not like she’s the only American Girl to commit a crime. Felicity stole a horse that didn’t belong to her. Samantha helped orphans run away from an orphanage. Cecile and Marie-Grace broke segregation laws by switching places to attend each other’s balls during Mardi Gras. Marie-Grace also lied to the church and helped sneak a colored boy into an all-white orphanage. Addy and her Mama broke Southern laws by running away from their plantation. But all of them had good reasons for breaking the law.

Why did Kit break the law? Simply because she wanted an adventure. Period. She wasn’t trying to protect anyone, she wasn’t trying to save her own life, or trying to understand a ridiculous rule. She was simply bored with her routine life, and wanted to shake things up.

Of course, Kit didn’t know what she did was against the law, but she had a pretty good idea it would be dangerous. She didn’t care. And where did she end up? Behind bars.

That’s not where it stopped. Kit mouths off to the Sheriff in charge. She pretended to be a boy and ended up in the boy’s cell. Kit also faked a stomach ache so she could break out of jail, lying to the sheriff! Kit truly teaches girls that when you do the crime, you pay the time.

Despite all of these “Bad Girl” qualities, I think this is what makes Kit such a unique character. This makes her one of the most realistic characters in the American Girls, and she relates to the girls that maybe don’t fit into the good-girl standards. But she can teach others that even “Bad Girls” can do good. If any girl has ever been to jail, maybe that girl can relate to this character. She adds flavor to the American Girls collection.

What do you all think about Kit?

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