Tag Archives: Mattel

Bratz dolls VS. Feminists: “Oversexualized” or “Empowering”?

16 May

Lately, I’ve been going back into the history of Bratz, where Bratz experienced a tremendous rise in the toy industry and where Bratz took a tumble downhill. As a major Bratz fan, I still have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that these dolls are not going to be produced anymore, that they are discontinued, and that they are no longer popular. In 2016, MGA, the owners of the Bratz doll brand, announced that they were discontinuing the Bratz dolls after a less-than-glorious comeback from their hiatus the year before.

As a way to find a sense of closure, I’ve been researching all kinds of news articles on the Bratz, news that have been out since 2001. I’ve been going back into my own “archives” both online and offline.

In a former article, I reviewed what happened to the Bratz in the last couple of years, based on all the information I have: Bratz Are Back Again in 2015: What Happened to the Bratz?

While flipping and clicking through everything, I’ve come to realize that feminists, moms, and Bratz dolls were never far a part from each other, but feminists and moms never really met eye to eye with the Bratz. It doesn’t surprise me that “soccer” moms are against the Bratz. Their name is “Bratz” after all. Parents may have heard the name and assumed that the dolls encouraged their girls to rebel against their parents.

However, I’ve found the Bratz to be a very empowering line of dolls in totality. That’s why it shocks me to read about so many feminists who are really against this doll brand. In fact, many feminists have openly been against the Bratz since debut. Therefore, I’ve concluded that the details that go into the Bratz’s  recent decline in popularity have at least a little to do with active feminists. How so?

Before I get into the details, let’s review how the Bratz came to be, how I got interested in the Bratz, and how (and why) they got so popular in the first place.

Bratz: The Urban Fashionistas

Carter Bryant was the original designer of the Bratz dolls who came up with the idea for the dolls after looking at a Steve Madden shoe ad in Seventeen magazine, photographed by Bernard Belair.

Bryant liked the “cartoonish” yet stylish look of the ad and wanted to create dolls with a similar appeal. To put it simply, Bratz were never meant to look realistic, but they were going to be displayed wearing the latest teen fashions.

Carter Bryant has also shared with me that he was inspired from the urban and punk scenes he always loved. He is an edgy man at heart and wanted to bring that to the Bratz doll line. When he brought the dolls to MGA, Issac Larian, the CEO, was skeptical at first, thinking their heads and feet were weird. But when Larian showed the dolls to his daughter, Jasmin Larian, she thought they were cool. The Bratz doll Yasmin was named after her.

At the Turn of the 21st Century, tweens (kids between the ages of 10 and 14) lost interest in dolls. With pop music spreading around the world, many girls were growing too “old” to be interested in toys (though I’d say it’s worse now than it was then, now that there’s this emphasis on smartphones and tablets). The doll market was experiencing a decline back then just as it is now. Many doll companies were interested in turning the new pop culture trend around in their favor. They wanted to make “up-to-date” dolls specifically for tweens so they could bring them back into the market.

Barbie was dominating the toy market, but by the 1990s, she was considered babyish.

Barbie was also criticized by minority ethnic groups for “lacking diversity” and outshining her more “diverse” friends. To many, Barbie was a sign of “White Supremacy”. After all, she was invented at a very tense racial time (1959).

Since the 1970s, feminist writers began examining entertainment designed for girls. Barbie came under fire several times throughout generations of feminists.

Feminists have been wanting to encourage self-love since then. Barbie was criticized for having unrealistic body proportions (like bigger than average boobs, a tiny waist, super thin lips, full hair, tiny feet, etc), body features that didn’t seem realistically attainable for every woman.

Bratz wasn’t the answer to everything missing in the doll industry (according to feminists), but they did solve the “diversity” problem.

The Bratz were released wearing “urban” fashions, a huge trend among youths at the Turn of the 21st Century since the rise in popularity of African American hip-hop and rap artists and labels in the 1990s. White people had also jumped on the urban trends (thanks to groups like New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys). Bratz had bigger lips than the average doll. They wore the “latest trends”, which often included cropped tops, baggy pants, and mini skirts, as well as tons of makeup. The dolls came in a variety of different “colors” and hair textures even if their actual ethnic backgrounds were left ambiguous.

I was a tween at the time of the Bratz debut in 2001, the target demographic. I was one of the children that stopped playing with dolls at 10 years old (thought I still liked to collect them as a hobby). I would say books, video games, anime, and internet consumed my life rather than pop stars and MTV. I still liked certain doll brands, like Magic Attic Club and American Girl, but I never played with the actual dolls. I mostly bought the books, not the dolls. I completely lost interest in the regular Barbie doll (though Generation Girl Dolls peaked my interest for a short time).

To me, as someone who lost interest in playing with Barbies at 10, Bratz were amazing. As an African American, I was happy to see dolls with full lips, full thick hair, and urban fashions commonly worn in my own black community (and not the cookie-cutter suburbanite outfits I often saw on my Barbies as a kid in the 1990s).

That’s why it was perplexing to find that most of the articles kept describing the dolls as “oversexualized” and “materialistic”. I couldn’t understand it at 11 years old. “What’s so sexual about them?” I kept asking myself. Their clothes were cool and urban to me, not sexual. I couldn’t see how baggy pants and beanie caps (included in the 1st edition of Bratz) were even “sexual” in nature. The dolls carried a lot of sass and attitude. They seemed bold and confident to me. The quality was impeccable and very realistic at the time. If anything, these dolls were gender-defying for me! They were not prim, perfect, pink, and prissy. They said “So what!” to fashion norms and boundaries that told girls to be “presentable, lest you tempt the manfolk”.

It truly surprised me to see so many feminists set against the Bratz.

As I got older, I began to understand the feminists’ concerns a little more than I did as a child, but I still don’t agree with many of their assumptions about the Bratz.

Let me give you a little history about myself.

I’m not your typical doll collector. I’m not only an adult, I’m an androgynous tomboy. As a child, I was a complete tomboy. My parents, particularly my mother, would often dress me in dresses, but she was very strict about how I should eat when dressed up, how I had to wear each article of clothing perfectly, and she schooled me on the people I had to please (particularly friends and neighbors). I got verbally (and sometimes physically) assaulted at times for wearing the wrong shoes with the wrong outfit. As I got older, because of these experiences, I began to reject social femininity. When I got more control of my fashion choices, I made sure to avoid dresses and skirts as much as possible.  I became mostly uninterested in clothes and makeup. I prefer to dress comfortably. I became convinced that “femininity” was all about conforming socially, pleasing others, and dressing the part in every situation. Social femininity was translated as “threatening” to me.

So it might make people wonder how I could be interested in such a fashion-conscious doll line like the Bratz.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t see what many of these news journalists and feminists saw in the Bratz. When I first saw the 2001 1st Edition Bratz, I saw their art versions, which displayed four girls in urbanized fashions in the sickest artwork ever. They all wore baggy jeans and sporty crop tops! If anything they looked like tomboys with makeup on!

The clash of femininity and tomboyishness made me feel thrilled and excited. Bratz did renew my interest in fashion, but not as a way to please or impress others. Bratz made me realize that fashion could be used to express oneself, to express ideas, to express art. Bratz inspired me to take my boyish looks to the next level which was why I got interested in different androgynous looks. I became unafraid to look different. I became unafraid of the controversy.

I was an outcast in middle school and high school. I was different. I was not only a tomboy, but a Black girl who enjoyed world music (like Japanese and Turkish music), among many genres including rock and roll, and enjoyed anime and video games. I never dressed up, so everyone thought I was weird. I looked like a 10 year old because I was so petite and never did my hair in the latest styles (which made me look even younger). I wore glasses and didn’t care for contacts. I would wear the same clothes year after year. I didn’t care, as long as they were clean. Many people thought I was a lesbian because I didn’t date in high school. Most of the guys thought I was too skinny to be attractive anyway. I didn’t have curves. When they discovered I wasn’t a lesbian, that confused them even more.

When Bratz were introduced, they were just the kind of thing I was looking for in the world. The Bratz not only renewed my interest in fashion but in the fashion doll industry in general. The dolls also helped me come to terms with my own individuality.

I always loved dolls, even in high school. I didn’t play with them; I just liked collecting them and taking pictures. I collected a lot of 18″ dolls mostly. After the Bratz came out, I was looking for fashion dolls like them. There were few dolls like them though.

I wasn’t ashamed of liking dolls, though I’m certain many teenagers would’ve been. I think after dealing with being forced to fit standards as a child, I had this counter-culturalist in me just waiting to break free. I didn’t think I was feminine at all, and so I rejected it in myself and in others.

Even though they were just dolls, Bratz helped me understand myself. My interest in them revealed something about myself. I realized I hadn’t lost touch with my femininity or my own sense of woman, I just had a different kind and that was okay. I realized that there were many ways to define  “being a woman”.

Bratz helped me at a difficult time, when I felt like I had to fit all of these standards. Unlike me, Bratz could do whatever they wanted to do. They had the courage and bravery, despite the backlash, to just be. It was obvious by their outrageous fashions, their exciting movies, and strong music that they just didn’t care. Much of their music still inspires me, like Bratz Forever Diamondz “Yasmin”‘s “Hang On”.

To me, the Bratz had a very strong empowering message of teaching girls to be confident and comfortable with who they are, no matter what anyone says.

When I saw their outfits, though, they seemed to wear mostly costumes rather than “regular” fashions. They reflected the latest styles with a twist. I was impressed with the detail, the various accessories, and the quality (hair that felt soft and thick, jeans made from actual jean material, etc), as well as the creative and bold themes.

Bratz also set many trends and broke many fashion rules. I liked Bratz because they reflected my own liberation from society’s norms. And at the time, they were the only dolls doing this.

Nowadays, there are many dolls empowering girls in many different ways. Many dolls out today have been inspired from the Bratz. Still, I have a special place in my heart for these dolls because they encouraged me to be bold and different, to be innovative and creative, and to think outside of the box.

My other favorite part about Bratz was that a blonde white girl wasn’t at the center. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up with Barbies, too, which I’ll go into further later. But Bratz offered me something I never could let go of, something I could relate to more personally.

Bratz had a variety of different characters eventually, of many shades, with most being dolls of color. I was so happy when MGA released Felicia, an actual dark-skinned doll that was designed beautifully and stylish! Many other Black characters have been in the Bratz franchise as well.

Sasha looks gorgeous in her “natural” hair!

Even though the Bratz dolls came in many shades, Black and Latino culture initially influenced much of the doll brand. From the styles, to the music (as you could tell above), to the full lips and thick hair, down to the urban fashion, Bratz were meant to appeal to a wider ethnic demographic.

In the early 2000s, gangster rap was just sizzling down. Many people outside of the black community (and even some of the old-school generation within) looked down on “urban” fashions and felt it represented “deviant” culture. This is partially why Bratz carried even more controversy at debut. Many people compared them to “urban thugs”. But most of the fashion was widely accepted among black and Latino/Hispanic cultures.

The more rebellious Bratz appeared, the more I loved them. Did it mean I was a bad girl and that I didn’t want to follow any rules? Of course not. But I did recognize that I don’t have to let others define me or decide the type of clothing I needed to wear socially. The Bratz showed me that I can represent alternatives in fashion and let that make its own statement.

Of course, we do have to consider some things socially when picking our clothes, but adding a little creativity and imagination to our wardrobe also adds to our individuality (along with our personalities). Bratz taught me that.

Eventually, Bratz brought in wild lines like Tokyo-ago-go, Space Angelz, Rock Angelz, Pretty N Punk, and many others to the mix. That just gave me more courage to speak out and embrace my individuality.

Some Feminists’ Issues with the Bratz

It baffles me how many people don’t realize just how influential feminists and moms were when it came to the Bratz’s 2015 transformation and sudden decline. Yes, other factors contributed to the Bratz dolls’ decline in popularity (such as the ongoing court battles between Mattel, owners of Barbie, and MGA, owners of Bratz). But the recent comeback, as well as the one in 2010, was obviously specifically “watered down” to appeal to moms and feminists, which didn’t go over so well with many of the fans of the brand.

The moment MGA released the first batch of dolls in 2015, MGA shared a facebook post called New Bratz dolls Tell Girls “It’s Good to be Yourself”. The article states that the dolls give a message that “won’t make parents cringe”. MGA must have realized that moms and feminists didn’t approve of the original Bratz and they wanted to ease the criticisms. Women have a lot of power and influence in the retail industry, believe it or not. MGA posted that article to show how Bratz have become more “innocent” in the last couple of years. They tried to put less makeup on the dolls, they made the outfits cuter, and made the eyes bigger so they wouldn’t look sassy or like they have “attitude”. It still didn’t work. Feminists still felt they were “underwhelming“. All it did was make the fans less interested in them and made the feminists criticize them even more.

The few feminists that are/were supportive of the Bratz have mostly been supportive of Bratz’s ethnic diversity and “ethnic” features (such as large lips, thick hair, and slanted eyes).

But most of these feminists overlook any of the positive regarding these dolls.

After reviewing many articles from feminists about the Bratz, I’ve learned that they take several issues with them (issues I find confusing):

  1. Their usage of makeup
  2. Their “sexualized” clothes and features
  3. Their unrealistic body proportions
  4. Their name
  5. Their “materialism”
  6. Their slogan

These Bratz dolls got an amazing feminist makeover

Tree Change

This artist is giving Bratz an awesome feminist Makeover

Bratz Is Not Happy That I Said Their Dolls Do Molly 

The Unsluttification Of Bratz?

Over-sexed and over here: The ‘tarty’ Bratz Doll

New Bratz dolls Tell Girls “It’s Good to be Yourself”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-411266/Over-sexed-The-tarty-Bratz-Doll.html#ixzz4gPS3FGyI

How to Explain Monster High and Other Hyper-Sexualized Dolls to Young Kids

Now, many of these comparisons are made right alongside the Barbie doll. As mentioned before, feminists’ first gripe with the fashion doll industry came with Barbie. Barbie has been pretty influential in girls’ lives and she has been an icon of fashion and materialism. She has been a staple of femininity for even adult women. Many feminists have examined how Barbie influenced girls and were afraid the Bratz, who seemed to carry some of the same “problems”, would influence girls much the same way.

But here’s where I think some of these feminists miss the mark.

Yes, sometimes girls often imitate their dolls in various ways and grow up to be inspired by these dolls. However, from my experience working with children and being a child during the Barbie and Bratz era, I would definitely say it depends on the context and the way the dolls are presented. It also depends on one’s own life experiences. Barbie and Bratz gave me two different vibes and that influenced my perception of the dolls, myself, and womanhood in general.

I don’t think Barbie and Bratz give a similar message at all. I think the feminists that think they do only know that the Bratz are considered fashion dolls, but know nothing else about them otherwise. These feminists may have seen one or two lines with the Bratz in more “conventional” fashion, but more than likely they didn’t dig deeper than that.

Let me explain why Bratz and Barbie are so very different and how this affects each of their messages to girls.

Bratz Vs. Barbie

I will share the history of both brands a little more because I believe the very inspiration behind the dolls shows how each was meant to affect girls.

As mentioned before, Bratz was designed to represent a “cartoonish” and yet stylish look, while also reflecting underground subcultures in fashion. Their inspiration came from an ad in a teen magazine.

Barbie was thought up by Ruth Handler, a woman who often watched her daughter Barbara pretend her paper dolls were adults. Ruth saw an opening in the market for adult-designed dolls rather than the usual baby dolls and paper dolls available.

When visiting Germany, she saw the Bild Lilli Doll, based off the popular German comic strip character. Bild Lilli was a beautiful bombshell woman who worked but was not above using men to suit her aims. The comic strip and the dolls were designed for adults, but kids would often take the dolls and mix and match her fashion.

Arguably, Barbie is the inspiration for all fashion dolls that came afterwards, so all fashion dolls will be watched by skeptics. But the intention behind the doll is significant when it comes to the art and presentation of the doll.

Barbie was designed to be an adult figure for girls to imagine and aspire to be. Initially, she was presented as an ideal adult female figure (more so from the White upper-class perspective).

I can honestly tell you, as a 6 and 7 year old, that was exactly what I thought of when I played with Barbie. Barbie may not look totally realistic in her proportions, but she looks realistic enough from a child’s perspective, and she looks realistic enough for women to “aspire” to “obtain” her look. Sure, her breasts are bigger than the average woman’s, especially on someone that thin, but breasts like that didn’t seem impossible to me as a child. In fact, Barbie looked like many of the blonde women I saw on Baywatch (which I often caught glimpses of on tv in the 1990s).

Thus, it was obvious in my mind’s eye that Barbie fit a perceived beauty standard.

In my mind, Barbie had several differences from me. She was blonde, tall, white, and wore clothes only the wealthy could wear. I never aspired to be blonde and white like her, however she reminded me of all the adult women around me. I didn’t see too many women who deviated from the “norm” socially as a child. I would always imagine doing what my mother did when playing with my Barbies.

When I played with Barbie, I didn’t see myself, and that influenced how I felt about her as I got older. As I got older, I saw that I was not growing into an adult like Barbie. I began to disconnect with the doll. I saw my mother and everything she was: a glamorous working woman who could do anything she put her mind to.  I didn’t see much substance in Barbie at all, though. And that may imply that I really didn’t see much substance in the women around me. It implies it and it is true.

However, even though I couldn’t relate to her, I admired her pink empire. I longed to live her wealthy, high-class life, a life my broke Black behind would have a difficult time achieving.

In the 1990s, she came with literally everything. But she had no “real” set personality, no real individuality. All of her friends were just ethnic versions of her that you could hardly find in stores. They literally often wore the same outfits as Barbie, though it would sometimes be in a different color.

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

As a kid, I wanted to be more “successful” like her, but I knew that I was too different to want to be like her completely. I wasn’t girly enough to pull of being a Barbie. Many of my other friends wanted to have straight, blonde hair like Barbie. They wanted the perfect body when they grew up, like she had. They wanted to drive pink cars like Barbie. They wanted to live in mansions like she did. They wanted a handsome boyfriend like Ken. Many of them ended up doing those things in the future, perfectly fitting the social package. I can amusingly say that they often look like clones of one another, trying to outdo each other when it comes to the latest trends.

Bratz, in contrast, never had a body to “aspire” to obtain. They literally looked like cartoon characters. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting heads and feet as big as theirs. In fact, big heads and big feet are normally considered ugly in America! The Bratz made it look cool. As someone who had big feet, I appreciated that. But I never heard anyone “aspire” to have a big head or big feet like them. It became clear that their proportions were not designed to fit an “ideal” but rather they literally were made to be disproportionate.

Sure, they were skinny. But their breasts were not large. Even being skinny, no kid would honestly think their bodies are normal enough to pay attention. My friends and I would always make fun of the Bratz heads and feet. We didn’t sigh with envy, that’s for certain. But the outfits were super creative. It was hard not to anticipate what they would think of next.

Each doll was different in some way from the other. Not only were there dolls of various colors, but each doll had their own wicked fashion sense and personality. They were very individual and not outshined by the “white” doll. The four core dolls were treated equally at debut, which I appreciated.

The Bratz were not designed to fit the usual beauty standard. They were meant to reflect the underground cultures, cultures that have developed a sense of community to help them cope with being an outcast. Therefore, in my mind, Bratz produced the opposite response of wanting to “imitate” and rather encouraged individuals like me to be “themselves” and strike out boldly. At 11, I was thinking that if each Bratz girl looks different, and has her own passion for fashion, that means all of us are different. We don’t all have to look and be the same. It encouraged me to find my own unique sense of style, not be the doll I saw in front of me (unlike with Barbie).

Barbie’s other media entertainment, like her movies, showed her as a gorgeous, glamorous lady who could do anything. Bratz movies showed four individual sassy teens who liked to hang out, dress up at times, dabble in their hobbies, and go on amazing adventures. The Bratz never seemed as shallow as Barbie.

Bratz Boyz were a stark contrast to Ken. Though they are all fashion dolls, the Bratz boyz weren’t just accessories for the girls. They had their own lines, several individual ethnic appearances and personalities, many different hair textures and styles, and just as much detail as the girls. Boys were not ashamed to admire them. Girls saw more than just boyfriends in these dolls. In fact, only one of the main characters “crush” on a Bratz Boy. But that boy has his own interests, his own personality, and his own style.

With the differences settled, let’s address these issues feminists have with the Bratz directly.

“Too Much Makeup”

Feminists across the board have been very critical of the Bratz’s overuse of makeup.

Some feminists believe that the Bratz have perfectly made-up faces, which teaches girls that they have to wear makeup to look perfect.

Among feminists, makeup in general has been controversial. Feminists are determined to break the social expectation that encourages girls to be too interested in their appearance. Unlike men, women are often expected to appear perfect, without flaws. This has been linked to women being treated like objects rather than creatures of “substance”. Many jobs around the world won’t hire women or will fire women if they don’t wear makeup. Feminists have been pushing for women to embrace their natural features and colors without a “mask”. They have been pushing for businesses to remove the makeup standards/policies or equalize them (pushing men to also wear more makeup).

One look at the first Bratz dolls, and a feminist would definitely think the Bratz’s usage of makeup further encourages these harsh makeup standards in young ladies. As someone who doesn’t wear makeup, I completely understand this concern.

On the other hand, feminists also preach against body-policing and believe that women should be free to indulge in whatever they enjoy. If a woman truly enjoys makeup, does that make her a product of the patriarchal system and less feminist?

Some feminists recognize that makeup can be used artistically. Many feminists believe that if women truly enjoy makeup, and don’t look at it as a necessary tool to hide their “flaws”, then it isn’t necessarily anti-feminist.

Some feminists don’t think women should be controlled to either extreme considering some companies also control how much makeup a woman wears, which isn’t fair either.

Still, there are feminists out there who believe a real feminist would not support makeup at all and they often do shame women who wear it.

Admittedly, Bratz are designed with a ton of makeup on. However, I think it would be unfair to compare Bratz’s use of makeup to other fashion dolls’ usage, like Barbie’s, or any other usage of makeup that is deemed designed to make someone look “perfect”.

When looking at Barbie, for example, Barbie’s “makeup” has consistently been painted on her face to give her the ideal packaged look for every generation. She is literally considered “gorgeous” with it on. She has the perfectly colored cheeks, darkened eyelashes, and perfectly lined lipstick. Her face is clear of blemishes, moles, freckles, and any other “imperfections” she could possibly have. Her eyebrows are perfectly arched and tweaked. Even the best makeup artist can’t get a real girl’s face that beat. Barbie is plastic perfection. Any girl who admires her will want to be plastic perfection as well. Her made-up beauty fits a conventional standard, yet no woman can ever really look like her 100%. Real women get older. Real women have wrinkles, freckles, beauty marks, moles, scraggly eyebrows, and all the other distinct features. And yet, real women do make themselves up to look like Barbie all the time.

Bratz’s use of makeup is/was entirely different.

For starters, the makeup wasn’t designed to hide any “imperfections”. The Bratz doll Yasmin had a mole under her left eye. Her makeup didn’t hide that mole. Other Bratz dolls had moles and freckles, too.

Though, admittedly, a lot of the Bratz makeup was polished, there were many times their makeup was experimental and could hardly ever really be called “perfect”.

Take Bratz Space Angelz Cloe for example.

What is perfect about her makeup? Nothing at all! Her lipstick is asymmetrical, hardly what I would call “designed to appeal”. It would be fair to argue that anyone who wears their makeup like this is looking for attention, but it’s hardly the sexual or attractive kind. While Barbie’s makeup was clearly created so she could look pleasing out in public, this makeup is hardly what I would call public-friendly.

Any child who imitated this would end up getting stared down by the public, and maybe even teased and mocked. I’m sure most children were/are aware of that. But it’s clear that the makeup is different and unique. Keeping that in mind, it’s easy to see that the Bratz are giving a different message with their makeup. They are showing just how artistic and creative it can be, even if it isn’t necessarily attractive! They are showing that it’s okay to do something different with makeup! It definitely doesn’t give the message that girls have to wear makeup to appear normal. In fact, the above doll line made makeup seem very unusual, almost abnormal. Even makeup’s rules were bent by the Bratz dolls!

Much of the Bratz’s other makeup was used to match up with the theme or subculture they represented. Pretty N Punk, for example, represented punk culture. Many punk princesses wear dark makeup to show their edge and fierceness. They don’t wear it to appear “attractive” or sexy or perfect. Male rock stars often wear eyeliner and black lipstick, too, and I’m sure it’s not to appear more attractive and perfect.

Most guys might think these styles are cool, but hardly any of them would consider these girls “bombshells”. It’s easy to tell that their makeup was purely designed to better make a statement rather than to appear perfect, without imperfections.

Again, Bratz used makeup in a variety of ways, even in more conventional ways. But because of their constant changes, they never managed to give the impression that they wore makeup to please others. They never gave the message that a girl had to wear makeup to appear attractive. They literally seemed to just be having fun with it. As a tween, I liked that.

Bratz may not have been the fresh-faced, innocent-looking, demure dolls mommies wanted, but they weren’t exactly anti-feminist either.

By feminists criticizing the Bratz usage of makeup, it’s as if they are placing a rule on who gets to be a feminist. So, are they implying women who enjoy trying different makeup tricks aren’t feminists? This leads to greater questions about modern feminism.

Sure, makeup was created by men and is a reminder of the “patriarchy”. But so is everything in our societies. Does that mean makeup is bad and can’t be used for positive and creative purposes? Absolutely not!

Overall, I’m not sure where some of these feminists are going when they attack the usage of makeup on these dolls. I think most of them are purely ignorant about the brand.

Bratz Are “Over-sexualized”

All the articles I’ve read from feminists, especially from Jezebel, have said that the Bratz are “hyper-sexualized” dolls. What exactly makes a doll sexualized? Short skirts? Cropped tops? Makeup? Pouty Lips? Glossy eyes?

And if they do, what exactly makes these things sexualized?

They are only sexualized when people sexualize them. To say that a doll with a short skirt is sexualized is indirectly saying a woman who wears a short skirt is sexualizing herself.

That would go against most feminists’ mantra: “My clothing is not my consent”.

Haven’t we gone beyond policing a woman’s attire and attributing her wardrobe to sexual and physical attention from the opposite sex? So why is it condemned when dolls reflect just that attitude?

Arguing about dolls being over-sexualized may be more appropriate for Barbie to a certain degree because of the “intent” of some of her lines. Most of her early attire is for the physical attention of her boyfriend Ken (though even she has moved beyond that point). Barbie has been a sex icon for most men for centuries. She was inspired by a “Call-Girl” doll, Bild Lilli, a doll meant for adults. Barbie has literally had lingerie lines. She has had “pregnant” dolls.

Barbie, sex icon

Sure, Pregnant Midge isn’t wearing a fitted skirt and a lot of makeup. But she’s pregnant! This opens the doors to other controversial subjects that kids really aren’t mature enough to be exposed to (though children often witness their mothers pregnant all the time).

Barbie is meant to be a blonde, gorgeous adult woman who does “adult” things like have sex and get pregnant. And she allows girls to imagine their lives as “adult” women through playtime with her. Children who play with her are reinventing an adult lifestyle. Sometimes, this produces controversy.

But even with Barbie, should we police all of her fashion styles and attribute it solely to sex and seeking male attention? Not all of it.

If we want to talk about something being sexualized or “hyper-sexualized”, we have to consider the context of the lines the dolls are released in.

The Bratz, on the other hand, have never initiated a sexual response to anyone who played or collected them. The context of their clothing, the intent of their lines, have never been to produce a sexual response. They were intended for a tween and teen audience. They were meant to showcase the latest fashions and the most revolutionary styles out in the cultural world.

In fact, if you look up “Bratz as a sex icon” on Google, hardly anything sexual comes up except these feminists’ articles! While Barbie has many photos of a sexual nature, Bratz don’t!

Most men do not see Bratz as sexually attractive. First off, their bodies are too disproportionate to even be considered “real”.

If you want to argue that Bratz’s skirts are too short, short enough to look like underwear, let’s consider the fact that Bratz hardly wore skirts in the past.

To me, the Bratz have mostly been presented as “fashionable”, not sexy. And if fashionable is considered sexy, women and men have a problem. Clothing itself is a problem. Taste and preference is a problem.

Dolls are designed to mimic the real world around us in some ways. If we don’t want dolls to mimic the styles we find “sexualized”, then we as women need to stop wearing makeup and fashionable clothes that are too sexualized. We need to go back to the point where our skirts were below the ankles and our collars were high. But feminists fought to move away from that point. Why? Because it was uncomfortable to walk in those long, horrible skirts. The collars were itchy and hot in the summer. And it didn’t stop women from being objectified or from being looked at as sex objects.

What is considered sexualized is subjective. In the above Bratz photos, I’m still trying to scan them for any hint of sex and I don’t understand it. Someone else may be able to spot it. If some of us, like myself, can’t spot it as easily, that means it’s not as “overt” as these feminists make it out to be.

Arguably, feminists come from all walks of life, from many different religious and moral backgrounds. Some feminists are Muslim or Hindu and believe in a certain form of modesty. But there are many village women out in the world who often go topless or wear crop tops, and it isn’t considered morally indecent. It’s mostly considered practical in the heat!

If we can honor that women come from all walks of life, we should also be able to understand that the Bratz represent those women that actually enjoy using fashion as a form of self-expression and connecting with group culture, especially sub-cultures. We should understand that the Bratz wear their short skirts and crop tops and think nothing of it.

The short skirts that they wear are simply fashion statements. The Bratz’s legs seem freer, which is why the Bratz give off the image that they are liberated from societal norms. But their lines are hardly ever to cater to male or female sexual fantasies.

The Bratz do often wear cropped tops. But cropped tops aren’t always worn for sexual attention. If we’re going to say that, we might as well condemn every woman who wears one in the summer, on the beach, or at home relaxing. Bikinis should be outlawed then. They’re revealing. If that’s the case, return to the 1800s idea of “fashion” when bathing suits weighed 8 lbs!

But women will not regress. Women have many reasons for wearing the fashions they wear and it is not always to seek male attention. Feminists are the ones who’ve educated the world on that. So why can’t they accept the Bratz dolls for wearing it?

The Bratz’s cropped tops are no different from the ones sported by empowering and feminist female pop stars and figures today.

And yet, most feminists’ honor these women as strong and empowering influences on girls. Are Alessia Cara and Pink seeking male attention with their cropped tops?

It’s true that fashion sends a message to others about us, even if it doesn’t tell others everything. However, if we look at the context of the lines produced, we can clearly see the dolls’ intended nature, even if they’re wearing cropped tops and mini skirts. From the Bratz, we can obviously see they are fierce, independent, and revolutionary dolls that simply want to take fashion to the next outrageous level.

When we look at Bratz fashion lines like Tokyo-ago-go or Pretty N’ punk, what message are the lines sending?

Bratz Tokyo a-go-go tells me that the Bratz are ready for a wild and fun Tokyo adventure, not a date with a hot guy. Their cropped tops don’t hint at any sexual message in this line. Pretty N Punk tells me that the Bratz are ready to listen to some rock music and party at a rock club.

Neither of these lines give the message that they want a male’s attention or that they even want to look sexy at all.

Many of the feminists that complain about the Bratz often complain about anything “too revealing”. If you wear skinny jeans, you’re sexualizing yourself to some of these feminists!

That’s why they were on my list of 7 Feminists That Make Me Cringe.

These feminists also associate makeup with sexualization. I think makeup makes people look older, especially children, but that doesn’t mean it’s specifically for looking older and hotter to the opposite sex. There is kiddie makeup out in the world that’s toned down and it’s a lot of fun to share makeup moments with mom. Spa dates aren’t sexualizing to a child.

Face paint can be a form of makeup as well. Face paint isn’t sexualizing. Bratz have often used makeup that way.

What really kills me about these feminists’ accusations is how they equate “features” to sexualization. I find it interesting how “big lips” and “glossy eyes” are associated with sexualization. Bratz have a vague “ethnic” look about them. They were meant to relate, again, to a wider ethnic demographic.

But some of these feminists have associated the Bratz’s big lips and eyes with sexualization. What?

Black women have bigger lips than other races. Are they sexualizing themselves when they wear lip gloss or lipstick on their lips? I think this goes back to a Eurocentric standard of modesty, where thin lips and big eyes are considered “innocent”, while full lips and almond-shaped eyes (more similar to other ethnic groups) are considered immodest and ugly.

I can understand how the Bratz could encourage thin-lip girls to get surgery just to blow their lips up. However, thin-lip dolls can just as easily encourage big-lip girls to get surgery to reduce their lips. I think the Bratz, who are widely looked at as unrealistic in form and design, make big heads, feet, and lips, once considered undesirable traits, more acceptable.

I grew up having big feet. Big feet run in my family. Many of the women in my family wear size 11. The smallest feet in my family have worn size 9! Most people have called me “long feet”. When the Bratz were released, I didn’t feel so bad about it. Their feet were obviously exaggerated though.

To me, the eyes showed attitude and confidence, not flirtation and sexuality. So if a woman glosses her eyes, she’s trying to flirt with someone? This contradicts everything feminists stand for!

 Unrealistic Bodies

Feminists have attacked dolls with skinny bodies for years. This is because many are afraid girls will strive to have unrealistic body weights, starving themselves or getting surgery just to appear skinny.

Bratz have very skinny arms and legs.

I can understand why feminists fear this. After all, many people desired to have Barbie’s figure after being exposed to her. However, we have to also analyze what the standard of beauty was before Barbie was released. Being slim, blonde, with thin lips, perky breasts, and blue eyes were always standards of beauty since the 1950s and 1960s. The media played it up. Barbie just reflected that standard in a perfect doll form.

http://www.thefrisky.com/photos/human-barbies-slideshow/barbie-valeria/

Bratz’s body design never reflected a particular standard of beauty from the very beginning, skinny or not. No one ever desired to have large feet and huge heads (at least in the west) with a skinny body. It never has been an ideal (at least in the west) and never will be.

If we look at Bratz as a doll brand separately from Barbie, objectively, Bratz don’t look realistic enough to begin with to cause children to want to look like them in real life. That’s like assuming little girls would want to look like a Powerpuff Girl just because they like the cartoon. Children are smarter than that. They know when something looks unrealistic.

Barbie and Jem dolls had more realistic appearances, appearances that seemed to fit media standards, so I can understand how individuals could strive to look like them. Bratz dolls have larger than life heads with huge feet. They look like they walked out of carnival fun house mirrors.

If you’re looking to bring body politics into the Bratz world, you’ve got a few things to consider.

First off,  keeping in mind their cartoonish look, they aren’t supposed to have realistic bodies. They are supposed to look weird and sort of funny.

Second, you have to consider what kids see when they look at dolls that obviously look disproportionate. I think children get the same vibe from these dolls that they do from characters in My Little Pony. Humans don’t have purple and pink skin, so we can’t be like the Equestria Girls. That’s the vibe I got as an 11 year old when it came to Bratz. In fact, I thought it was cool that they looked like funny, but edgy cartoon characters. Being skinny was not even a thought. I’m skinny, but their type of “skinny” was like watching Anamaniacs characters walk around.

Therefore, it’s simple to conclude that their “skinny” bodies do not honestly matter because the bodies aren’t mean to reflect real bodies at all. They could’ve easily had thick bodies with extremely small heads and feet. It would still look like figures in a fun house mirror, not a real body representing real figures.

The only things the Bratz mimic about humans are their fashion, accessories, hobbies, and personalities. Just like cartoon characters.

Please don’t come and tell me that Gumball toys, based off of the cartoon, make kids want to become clouds, cacti, and fish. Please. Those characters obviously look strange. The Bratz are more similar to them. Kids obviously know that the Bratz bodies aren’t normal and they recognize that they would get teased if they looked that way.

It’s not the same with Barbie or other fashion dolls like her, like Jem. If kids looked like them, they would be “praised” by beauty-conscious individuals.

“Bratz” for a name

Moms may have more of a problem with the name than feminists, but a few feminists have expressed their disdain for the name as well.

Sure, a “brat” is someone who is usually depicted as spoiled, misbehaved, and demanding. It doesn’t sound pleasant over all.

But considering Da Brat was one of my favorite female rappers in the 1990s, I didn’t have a problem with it. Like Da Brat, the name seemed designed to represent their urban, tough, and sassy attitude. It reflected their nonconforming nature. To me, Bratz represented individuality and the beauty of diversity (in style, ethnicity, and interests). The name just made their sass pop.

Da Brat took gangsta to a whole new level with her tomboyish looks!

Again, I can see how this makes the former generation uneasy. After all, they’re still getting used to gay marriage. They wouldn’t be used to a name like “Bratz” being used more positively. To the older generation, nonconformity is dangerous.

But as advocates of nonconformity, it shocks me that there are so many feminists who are so against the Bratz, name and all. I get that we want our little girls to be pure, wholesome, and solid citizens in society. But there should also be room for girls to be bold, innovative, expressive, and revolutionary. I think hijacking the name Brats, adding the “z”, and the halo is the definition of revolutionary and innovative.

Their Emphasis on Materialism

Bratz came with hundreds of accessories and clothes throughout their run. In many of their movies and in their TV show, they are often depicted shopping for outfits for each occasion.

This leads many feminists to believe that the Bratz encourage materialism.

I believe that, as humans, things are apart of our life. Sometimes, things have significant meaning in our lives. In many cultures, family heirlooms are passed through the family and they end up having personal meaning.

Of course, the Bratz’s accessories aren’t as meaningful as a family heirloom, but their items do reflect items we use or see in real life. It’s kind of cool to see miniature-sized items.

Material things are especially a part of being in the 1st world west. I do believe that our lives have been changed for the better by modern conveniences such as cell phones and tablets. I believe that makeup and fashion constantly updates, which says a lot about our culture, so people do spend a lot of money to look good. But I don’t think these things make a person bad or materialistic.

A materialistic person is someone who only cares about material things and can’t live without those material things. The Bratz have shown many layers throughout their shows and movies. Though they do love to look good, they also enjoy their hobbies and connections with friends and family.

Sure, the Bratz have shown that they love to shop. However, they often emphasized being resourceful or finding innovative ways to get the items they wanted. Shopping in bargain bins or designing their own styles were just some of the things Bratz have been shown doing to express their resourcefulness.

The Bratz have shown interest in other things such as sports, music, science, animals, among other things. I don’t think they’ve emphasized material things all the time. Furthermore, I think their use of material things haven’t necessarily made them seem spoiled or privileged.

However, there is nothing wrong with wanting or owning nice things and trying to enhance the quality of your life by collecting something you love or enjoy.

I personally find the Bratz items to be fascinating and enjoyable for playtime. Who wants a doll that comes with nothing? Kids want to bring the world of their dolls to life with mini models. Mini items add to the overall experience each doll line brings.

If we want to question whether we are instilling materialistic values on our children, we shouldn’t be buying them expensive I-phones and tablets. I’ve seen worse behavior come from children demanding the latest technology than from the influence of a Bratz doll.

“Passion For Fashion”= Obsessed with Appearance

Feminists believe the slogan suggests that the Bratz are completely focused on outfits and nothing else substantial.

But isn’t it possible for an individual to be interested in fashion, as a practice, and still have substance?

And why can’t there be substance in fashion?

I can understand if people mostly focus on fashion just to be pleasing or attractive to others. But the Bratz use fashion for many purposes, mostly to showcase many ideas and subcultures, not just to look “pleasing” or “attractive”. Quite frankly, many of the Bratz’s outfits don’t look pleasing. Midnight Dance, Pretty N Punk, and Space Angelz are not really of the “pleasing” sort, though some of the Bratz’s outfits are.

It’s clear the the doll brand is emphasizing not being concerned with pleasing others. Bratz are encouraging individuals to enjoy fashion without fitting into fashion molds. Fashion doesn’t always equal attraction and attraction doesn’t always equal fashion.

I believe the one thing that is lacking among girls today is passion. Girls are not encouraged to be passionate about the things they like and want. They are encouraged to scatter their interests, which makes it difficult for them to master a practice. The Bratz encourage girls to be all about their passions, despite what others think.

I also find it odd for feminists to be against having a “passion for fashion” when we consider the fact that the majority of fashion designers are male!

Females are still in the minority

I think the Bratz’s kind of passion for fashion encourages girls to be future designers and inventors. They don’t encourage girls just to buy clothes, but to also come up with their own ideas, to think outside of the box, and to express themselves in unique ways.

Using myself as an example, I don’t think I would’ve embraced my own gender expression as well had I not been introduced to the Bratz dolls. I don’t think I would’ve thought it was possible to see the individuality in fashion. I don’t think I would’ve found my own social identity.

When feminists began criticizing the Bratz, it affected the overall design of Bratz. MGA made things worse by dragging the brand into court with Barbie’s company Mattel, but feminists began growing in influence and they are the reason the latest Bratz design changed into something long-time fans could hardly respect or appreciate. MGA expressed that they wanted Bratz to have a “better image” for girls. Who made the Bratz image look bad? Why would they decide that the Bratz image wasn’t good enough? Someone had to be criticizing the brand in order for them to make that statement on Facebook. We have to acknowledge that feminists had some hand in the drastic change.

In my opinion, Bratz moved from a more ethnic look and vibe to a more “Eurocentric”-friendly design.

I know it seems like I learned a little too much from a line of dolls, and it may seem that I invest too much time appreciating these dolls, but that is partially why I have a special connection with this brand. I really feel if feminists’ had really and truly tried to understand the meaning behind the Bratz, if they’d actually given them a chance, they would see that the Bratz are/were not too far off from feminists’ goals.

I just hope that when, or rather IF, the Bratz return, they will return to their original authentic design. I hope they truly produce something earth-shattering, regardless of what anyone says. Even if feminists disagree, for me, that’s truly empowering.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think/thought about the Bratz controversy, feminists’ involvement in it, and the future of Bratz.

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

21 Nov

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

welcometomh_desktop-header_tcm1078-272704

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

monster-high-new-face

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

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

Monster High: The Halloween Trend

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

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

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

Monster High’s Doll Features

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

monster-high-new-dolls

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

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

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

skelita-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monster High’s Doll Clothing And Accessories

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

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

launch

Original Launch

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

relaunch

Relaunch

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

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

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

shriek-wrecked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monster High Story: New Story And Characters

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

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

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

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

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

Check it out: Spectra-Von Hauntington

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

ariariari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

30 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1920-girls-fashion-01

1920s fashion for girls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 1920s is open. (4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nanea Mitchell

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

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

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

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

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

An article with Color photos of Life in an Internment Camp

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

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

Internment Camp Locations and other info

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

Japanese Internment Camp Facts

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

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

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

Hawaiian girls in the 1940s

Hawaiian girls in the 1940s

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

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

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

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

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

1 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Cecile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Addy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And she’s such a sweet girl to boot.

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

american girl melody

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should American Girl Sell ‘American Boy’ dolls?

15 Jan

american girl logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • People want “positive role models” for their sons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beforever Boys

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Boy of the Year

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

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

The All-New Historical line

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modern American Boys

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

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

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

Exclusive Boys

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

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

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

Still, this is the best option.

Customizable Dolls

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

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

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

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

Limited Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beforever Transformed Into Boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search up ideas for American Boy dolls!

 

The New Ever After High Interactive Music Video…Is…Dope…

16 Feb

I’ve just got wind of the new interactive Ever After High Music Video. It is SO DOPE. It is way ahead of it’s time, and in fact, the start of something revolutionary! Imagine all of our music videos interactive like this! On Vevo! On Youtube!

Sure, it’s a music video for a doll brand, but that’s usually where all of the most innovative ideas come from: TOYS! Technology starts with the kids, right?

So, I think you guys should check it out. It’s pretty cool.

I wish Monster High had something this cool…

Check it out!

http://spellbind.in/16zyEFo

 

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. XD 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!

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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.

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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!

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.

Before

Before

After

After

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2) Attack of the Blondes

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will share some examples…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4) Attack of the Tacky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6) Retirement and Poor Replacements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7) Inaccuracy: When Nothing Makes Sense…

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

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

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

Well, at least they tend to doll details…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Story of Snow White<—Click

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

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8) Failing Up-Grades

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The quality is obviously lower and the fashions are cheesier.

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

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

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

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9) Flunk the Boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10) The Red-Headed Curse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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11) Everybody Sings and Dances

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

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

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

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

Double whamy: Pink and a Singer!

Double whamy: Pink and a Singer!

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

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

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

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12) We’ll Never Be Rebels

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

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

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Notice her heart tattoo on her ankle...

Notice her heart tattoo on her ankle…

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

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

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

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

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13) Cheap Quality

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

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

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

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

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

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14) Mattel Doesn’t Listen to YOU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

brunette elizabeth

And no, the above is not a photoshopped picture…

blonde elizabeth

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

http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/7kf/1978girlsclothes.jpg

http://cdn2.retrowaste.com/wp-content/gallery/1970s-womens-fashion-ads/1970-girls-fashion-01.jpg

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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