Monday, July 29, 2013

My American Girl #29

I bought my very first American Girl doll at the beginning of the month when I visited the amazing American Girl store in Natick, Massachusetts--near Boston.  I went to the store with every intention of purchasing the historical girl, Rebecca, but the overwhelming array of options scrambled my brain and then led me to My American Girl #29.

The first order of business was that this doll needed a suitable name--something other than Number 29.  I love naming things, but can get hung up on the process because I need to pick a name that is just right.  I have been this way ever since I was a kid.  As a brief aside, if you like names as much as I do, check out the unbeatable Baby Name Wizard site, created by an incredibly neat friend of mine.  Anyway--I didn't need the Baby Name Wizard for this doll because I had Andrea.  Thank you, Andrea (and everyone else who had great name suggestions!) for helping me name Miss Keira:

American Girl #29
My American Girl #29
Keira Sofia
There are many incredible American Girl resources on the web.  Doll Diaries, Never Grow UpJust Magic, and the comments and advice I have gotten from all of you, have taught me most of what I know about these dolls.  I am the farthest thing from an American Girl expert--I'm an American Girl newbie.  So, there's probably a lot of old news in this review, and I hope you'll forgive me for that.  This is the very first time I've gotten my hands on a real American Girl doll for longer than two minutes, and I wanted to give this iconic character a full-blown, top-to-bottom look.  

While I was visiting the Boston store, I purchased the Science Lab set, Keira, the Sweet Spring dress Keira was wearing in the store, a pair of glasses, a mini Rebecca doll and a red American Girl Boston tee shirt.  In this review, I will look at Keira, her red tee shirt and her glasses.  I will review the Sweet Spring dress and mini Rebecca separately.

I'll just say right up front: American Girl packaging is great.  Most of the My American Girl items come in colorful red, white and blue cardboard boxes.  The cover of the Keira's box has a small circular plastic window to show off her face.  This was helpful for choosing the doll with the straightest eyes and no facial marks.  


The historical American Girl dolls like Rebecca come with a full-sized chapter book.  The My American Girl dolls do not come with a book, but rather with a code that unlocks an online version of the doll.  The online characters can play games, chat, and shop for virtual clothes.  It seems very much like the Stardoll experience.  The front of every doll box has a cartoon drawing of the doll, to show what the online character will look like:


The sides of the doll box are decorated with colorful shapes and inspirational words like, smart, kind, brave and confident:


The cover of the box lifts off to reveal a plain white cardboard interior:


Keira is attached to her box with a piece of white braid elastic that is stretched tightly across her neck:


The neck area is protected from the elastic with a thin piece of foam:


The elastic is looped over two plastic hooks that are mounted through the back of the box:


I lifted the elastic off one of the hooks and Keira's head was free.


Keira is also held in place with two rubber bands positioned around her boots.  The boots are protected from the tight rubber bands with a layer of foam and a layer of cardboard.  There's also a cautionary message about the rubber bands:


Along the length of Keira's bare arms, the sides of the box are covered in clear plastic.  I am not sure why--maybe the white color from the box can transfer to the vinyl arms?  Hm.  Around Keira's left wrist is a small red tag.  The tag in not enclosed in plastic.  


The tag is a description of how to care for straight hair.  


This information is nice, but thanks to all of the wonderful advice I have gotten here on the blog, I don't feel like I need it.

High maintenance hair.
See--I am well-prepared for messy hair! 

Armed and dangerous.
 I couldn't find braid spray, so I hope this Aussie product is acceptable.  I figured I could use it on my own unruly hair if it's not good for Keira.

Here's the box without the doll--you can see the back of the plastic piece that held the head in place, and you can also see that there are a few things stuck to the inside of the box:


It looks like a necklace and a booklet:


Many of the dolls at the American Girl store were wearing these necklaces.  The idea is that each new outfit comes with a charm, and you can add charms to make a necklace that is as unique as your doll:


The necklace has an adjustable pink string.  The string appears to be a braided rope coated in a waxy sealant.  It is very lightweight and stiff.  


The pendant is a metal hoop with a clear frosted plastic heart charm hanging from the top:


Next to the heart, there's a tiny metal oval with the words American Girl embossed on one side:


The big silver hoop can open and close to accommodate more charms.  There are a total of 36 available charms.


This is a cute idea.  One of the things I liked best about the My American Girl section of the store was how diverse the dolls looked--and the varied interests represented by the range of available outfits and accessories.  This necklace design highlights that diversity.

Here's the booklet that was behind the necklace:


It is a "campus guide" guide to the Innerstar University website (aka InnerstarU) where I can unlock my virtual Keira.  I have been assuming that American Girl dolls represent children in the 8 to 10-year-old range.  That's what they look like to me, anyway.  Are they really going to college already?  

They grow up so fast.

I wanted to give the website a quick look.  I feel like the content is important for assessing the value of the doll because it is taking the place of the chapter book I would have gotten if I had opted for a historical doll. 

After a brief registration procedure (I did not have to share any personal information except for my email address) my virtual Keira materialized in a very nice-looking modern bedroom:

That's way nicer than my college dorm.
In the room area, Keira can change clothes, read books, and do her hair.

Outside the room, there's a map of the entire Innerstar University:

There's no science lab.
There are several areas that have games you can play, and there is also a library and a store.  I went to the library first, because that seemed like the studious, collegiate thing to do.

At the library, you can choose a book to read from a fairly small selection of titles.  The options include a few of the historical American Girl books.  This is cool because I want to read Saige's story and have been kicking myself for not picking up the book while I was in Boston.

Yay!  This is perfect!
As it turns out, you can only read 12 pages of Saige's story.  I guess it makes sense that they wouldn't be giving out books for free, but reading the first ten pages of a dozen books doesn't really appeal to me.  I have enough trouble finishing things without being given something that is unfinishable.

Short Attention Span Library.
Next, I decided to sample a few of the games.  This campus has a stable (Rising Star Stables) so I headed over there to see what kind of horse games are available.  The first option is a show jumping race game.  For this activity, you select a horse:

Time for a horse-riding study break!
And then you ride the horse around a ring, using the arrow keys to keep a good pace (not too slow or too fast) and using the space bar to time your jumps correctly.

When my horse was trotting, it looked like this:


Quarter horse?
Only at full gallop did the rest of the horse's body materialize:

Thoroughbred!
This game has awesome sound effects.  I could have listened to the clopping hooves for hours, but, sadly, I was terrible at playing the game.  I was either way too fast, knocking over all of the jumps, or disappearing into the sand.  I didn't find this message encouraging:

You suck.
For a change in pace, I decided to go to the stables and take care of the horses.  I guess those who can't ride get to muck out the stalls.

This is a much simpler game.  You just select the item that the horse needs, and then move the mouse in a certain way to fulfill that need.

Work study.
This was easy, but it got excruciatingly boring after a while.  

Next, I visited the Campus Snack Cart, because that toy was my favorite thing in the whole American Girl store.  

Amazing toy.
I figured the game might be fun, too--after all, it looks just like the toy:

Another study break!
This is a cute game.  People line up at the cart and you have to fill everyone's order in a given amount of time.  The trick is, each food item requires a specific sequence of ingredients and you have to select those ingredients in the right order.  It gets increasingly challenging to remember how to make all of the orders.  I had fun with this.


After I served a bunch of snacks, I headed to the mall to buy some clothes.  

Um...another study break?
I wanted to buy the Sweet Spring dress that Keira was wearing at the store:


And I found it!  I also found the glasses I chose for her.

Shouldn't you be studying?
Back in Keira's room, the new dress and glasses had appeared in her closet:


Ta da!  Here's Keira exactly as I bought her:


The Website: This website is fine, and it was certainly easy to get registered.  I did see several other virtual American Girls walking around, so there are social options here that I didn't explore.  The games are very simple.  Since the dolls are designed for 8-year-olds and older (per the box) I'd expect the games to be a little more challenging--kids these days are crazy-good at this kind of thing.  Of the three or four games I tried, only the Campus Snack Cart game was something I'd do again.  

I guess the university theme to this website is meant to encourage kids to go to college--which is awesome, if you can ignore the fact that Innerstar University is a college where 10-year-olds go to ride horses, get their hair done, shop for clothes and serve snacks to fellow students.  At least there are no fraternity party games.  Maybe a university summer camp would have been a better theme?

In contrast to the website, the chapter books that come with the historical dolls seem to actually benefit young minds--both by encouraging reading (always good) and by teaching a little bit of history.  To me, the books are a much better deal than the website code.

***

The real Keira is way cuter than her animated double, so let's get back to her.  Here she is out of her box:


This doll is very well balanced and stands alone with or without her boots.  


Her hair was nicely secured in a hairnet and had a perfect little curl in back:



When I first saw her face, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was asymmetric, especially around her eyes:

Something's not right.
After I took her hair down and started posing her, I noticed that she definitely has a "good" side and a "bad" side.   I think this is her good side--she has a sweet smile and her proportions seem right:


In contrast, when the other side of her face is in half profile, something looks off to me.  It's subtle, but her right eye seems too deeply set and her mouth is not as attractive:


I did a few photo experiments to try and figure out what was going on.  First, I drew a grid over her face like this:


Her eyes are perfectly symmetric (this surprised me).  I think what's off is her right cheek.  If you look at the four boxes that include her cheeks and the angles of her jawline, you'll see that she has a fuller cheek on her right side (the left side of the picture).

It might be even clearer in these pictures--look closely at the two cheek silhouettes.  The cheek is ever so slightly larger in the picture on the right:

Good side                                                                           Bad side

Or here--it looks like she just went to the dentist and has some minor swelling:

Dental work                                                                        Normal

This is a really minor thing, and maybe everyone is aware if it already, or maybe it's just my doll, but it's the first thing I noticed.  It makes me wonder whether my feelings about the other My American Girl dolls in the store were partially based on which side of their face was turned towards me?  Hm.

Keira's eyes are a very dark brown. This worried me a little in the store, because dark brown doll eyes can look lifeless.  Indeed, Keira's eyes look very blank if they're reflecting too much light...or if they're not reflecting any light.  I think this picture shows a nice amount of reflection:


There are some very subtle lines in the irises, but these are hard to see in most light, and incredibly difficult to photograph.  In this picture, you can see some of the iris detail, and also the flecked design of her small, light brown eyebrows.  


Keira has applied plastic strip eyelashes and eyes that open and close:



The lashes are all individual strands of plastic, but they are pushed very tightly together and give the impression of being one large piece:


At the very edges of the eyelid, you can see individual eyelashes separating from the group:


Keira’s eyes are not great.  She has very dark brown reflective eyes with minimal detail.  While I am not crazy about these eyes, I saw that several of the other eye color options are wonderful--like #55’s detailed green eyes or Rebecca’s gorgeous hazel.  I knew what I was getting here and wanted a brown-eyed doll anyway.  I just wish the dark brown eyes had a bit more depth and realism.

I always assumed that American Girl dolls had molded teeth in their partially open mouths.  The teeth are actually just slightly raised painted rectangles:





The Face:  From a distance, I have never been a huge fan of the American Girl faces.  They have always seemed a little vacant and generic to me.  Keira's dark brown eyes do not help in this regard.  In some lighting situations, Keira's eyes look dead.  I think the dolls with lighter eyes have a bit more versatility.  I also prefer one side of Keira's face to the other, especially when I look at her in half-profile.  Real human faces don't have perfect symmetry, that's for sure, but a doll with features this simple should probably be symmetric.  I was also a little disappointed by the lack of sculpted detail in the mouth.  On the other hand, sculpted smiles do not always do a doll huge favors

What I've noticed about the American Girl faces since my visit to the store and in my experience with Keira, is that these dolls can really adapt to portray a huge range of personalities.  I saw the same exact doll over and over again in the store, and just because she was wearing a different outfit, or her hair was styled differently, or she had on a different pair of glasses, I would think I was seeing a new doll for the first time.  The generic faces might also be good for allowing children's imaginations to fill in a specific personality.  With Keira, I find that from some angles, and with some combinations of accessories and clothes, I am not that wild about how she looks.  With other combinations, though, I am smitten.

***

For some reason, the combination of Keira's dark skin tone and extra-shiny hair make her difficult to photograph.  My pictures do not show the true coloring in her face.  Her hair is particularly difficult to capture.  I tried taking pictures with a white background, too, but her hair reflects whatever the background color is, and this changes the overall appearance of the hair:  


The grey background tends to overexpose the hair and make it look pinkish-red, while the white background flattens the shine and dulls the richness of the color:


Here's what Keira's hair looks like in the sun--it is a dark, rich brown color, and the texture is very shiny and smooth:


The wig has a lot of shorter strands of hair in the back.  Carpatina Erin's wig has these strands, too, and I think even my expensive Himstedt dolls have them.  The smaller strands tend to hide under the longer hair unless I attempt a style that has a part in back:



The wig is stitched in very full rows along the face and near the part, but then gets a little thinner on the sides--with areas of the wig cap showing between the rows:


The hair looks very full during normal play and the wig cap doesn't show at all.  In fact, the only problem I've had with the hair so far is that the teeth on the metal brush can snag the the edges of the rows of stitched hair.


Keira's hair might be her best feature.  It is long and thick and looks beautiful and shiny.  It feels like real hair and doesn't seem at all prone to tangles yet.  It is very similar to the hair on Carpatina Erin and Karito Kids Ling.

American Girl 29

The Hair: To put my assessment of Keira’s hair in perspective, I need to mention that I have been hearing a lot of troubling things about American Girl hair lately.  I have heard that you have to treat red hair and curly (or wavy) hair exactly right, or you’ll end up with a tangled mess.  I’ve been warned not to brush the hair with a plastic brush or comb.  I have heard of dolls whose hair became so horrid, the only options were to pay to have the hair replaced by American Girl...or to replace the entire doll.  At the American Girl store, I saw evidence that these hairy tales are true.  Several of the dolls that girls brought with them to the store had really scraggly hair.  Many of the display dolls (in particular, the #55 I was eyeing) already had matted manes.  I find this pretty depressing.  American Girls set the standard for 18" play dolls, and yet you can’t brush their hair with a plastic brush or a comb?  You can’t style the curls at all?  You need special hair spray to keep everything looking nice?  Seriously?  Many dolls have hair that requires some sort of maintenance over time to avoid tangles and frizz, but in my opinion, a $110 play doll should not need such extreme care.  Needless to say, I approached Keira’s hair with caution...and a truckload of skepticism.  What I found is that Keira’s hair is soft, silky and tangle free.  I think it feels like real human hair.  It hangs beautifully and shines gloriously in the sun.  It’s a gorgeous, realistic color.  I guess the hair could be a little bit thicker, and I’d love it if the short strands in back weren’t there, and if the brush didn’t get caught on the wig cap, but overall this is wonderful hair and I think it’s Keira’s best feature.  Apparently, whatever troubles exist for certain types of American Girl hair do not plague the straight brown hair that my doll has. Thank goodness.  A good next step for the company would be to find red wigs and curly wigs that are equally nice.


***

Keira comes wearing a simple tee shirt and skirt outfit:


American Girl dolls have a neck seam and a cloth torso, so I am always surprised when the outfits have gaping necklines.  For example, why on Earth is there a baby-style onesie neckline on this shirt?  


I didn't think they made this style of shirt for anyone over the age of about three.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  This style of neckline is for tiny little humans with huge heads--so you can get the shirt over the huge head without having uncomfortable snaps or buttons on the back of the garment.  This tee shirt opens all of the way down the back, so there's absolutely no need for a neckline like this.  
It shows a lot of Keira's orange-ish cloth torso and an unsightly gap in her neck seam:


Putting that design flaw aside, the tee shirt is very nice.  It is made out of a soft cotton knit with an adorable flower and butterfly pattern that coordinates with the colorful pattern on the side of the box.




There's a tiny American Girl tag sewn to one sleeve:


All of the edges are beautifully finished and look like they will stand the test of time.  The shirt is sewn just like a piece of clothing for a real child.  I bet you could even throw it in the wash with regular clothes--although I'd worry about shrinkage.


The skirt is made out of a jersey knit cotton that has some stretch.  It has the look and feel of lightweight sweatshirt fabric.  


There's a decorative belt accent and some elastic in the waistband for easy dressing.


Again, this skirt seems exceptionally well made, with finished edges and generous seam allowances:



The boots look cute.  They have a green butterfly embroidered on the outer edge.  I am confused about why the butterfly is green.  I love green, and I guess everything doesn't have to match, but pink butterflies would have tied the whole outfit together a bit better.



The boots open all of the way down the back with a velcro seam:



The velcro is a little cheap.  It's not the same style of velcro that is used in the shirt--it's thin and made out of plastic:


In fact, the entire boot feels a little cheap.  While the material looks like a sueded leather, it feels more like paper.  The boots are thin, lightweight and crinkly.  

The boot fabric has a white canvas back, making me think that maybe these shoes are tougher than they feel:


The soles of the boots are hard plastic and look solidly attached.


Underneath her outfit, Keira is wearing a pair of pink cotton underpants:


Doll underpants are often hastily done--as more of an afterthought than a real piece of clothing.  These are very nice:



I loved all of the dolls wearing glasses at the American Girl store.  I knew I wanted Keira to wear glasses, but it was so hard to choose which ones!  The tortoiseshell glasses were wonderful, as were some of the sunglasses...and anything with color.



 I ended up picking some fairly plain brown-rimmed glasses with a hint of turquoise in them:


These cost $10 and are called "Chocolate Glasses."

Yummy.
They come in a nice puffy purple fleece glasses holder:





The front of the frames is painted chocolate brown, and the back is a translucent turquoise plastic.  I love how these glasses look, although they feel very fragile.



I am very happy with how they fit Keira:


They go really nicely with her coloring and make her eyes seem much more lively:

American Girl 29


Here she is in natural light, so you can get a better sense for the actual colors:

American Girl 29

I also bought Keira a red American Girl Boston tee shirt, as a souvenir of where I found her.  This tee shirt can be worn with the grey skirt:


But I think it looks best with dark jeans or a jean skirt:

In Karito Kids Ling's skirt.
This is a nice shirt, and the neckline is perfect:



The Science Lab glasses also look fine on Keira.  They're a little big, but they're supposed to be safety goggles, so it's appropriate.  While I was putting these on, I got one of Keira's eyelids trapped in the sleeping position behind a lens, so it looked like she was winking at me!


I am really happy with the red logo tee shirt and the Chocolate Glasses.

American Girl 29


American Girl 29

The Clothes: Keira’s clothes are very well made.  They’re just like miniature real clothes, with perfect little seams and finished edges.  The pink tee shirt has a neckline that isn’t as flattering to the American Girl body as it could be.  I prefer the more conventional neckline of the red tee shirt that I bought separately.  The grey skirt is simple, but it’s good for mix-and-match, and it is very easy to get on and off.  The Chocolate Glasses seem fragile, but really add to Keira's appearance by giving her eyes more character.  One of my favorite things about the American Girl store was looking at all of the amazing miniature shoes.  Given that I know how fantastic the shoes can be, Keira’s boots are a disappointment.  Her boots are made out of a thin, papery fake leather, and there’s nothing especially creative about the design.  I wish the My American Girls came with a more interesting pair of shoes like the purple sandals I admired at the store.


***

Underneath her clothes, Keira has vinyl arms and legs and a cloth torso.  I was surprised to see two long strings hanging down her back:


That string is what attaches her head to her body.  Many of my dolls have plastic cable ties or wire holding their vinyl heads onto cloth bodies, but I don't think I've ever seen a doll with a regular cotton string in this joint before.  I mean, you could untie that string so easily, which actually might be really useful for repairs or cleaning.

Off with her head!
Keira has limited poseability.  She has only 5 points of articulation.  I assumed that her joints would only spin in their sockets (like the Our Generation Charlotte doll), allowing her to do simple splits, lift her arms up and down, and turn her head from side to side:




In addition to these movements, though, Keira also has some side-to-side play in her arm and leg joints that I didn't expect:


Her cloth torso gets twisted and asymmetrical when she's posing.


I was curious about the mechanics of these joints, so I investigated further.  The vinyl arm pieces are inserted into vinyl sockets sewn into the body.  This part is just like the Our Generation body:



The stitching looks a little ratty in places, but it seems sturdy:


Unlike Our Generation Charlotte, Keira's arm pieces are not tightly connected to the shoulder sockets--the arm is able to rotate upwards, as though it was a hinged joint:


This mobility is due to the fact that Keira's arms are strung--again, with what looks like regular white cotton string (but is actually elastic cord--thank you, readers, for the correction!!):



The arm has a white plastic piece inside with a hole.  It looks like the string goes through the hole and is held in place with a knot.  I hope it's a pretty big knot (or something in addition to a knot) otherwise, it could be easy to pull the arms right off.


The leg joints have a similar design:






I am so tempted to disassemble Keira's body completely--just to see how everything is put together.  It is much more complicated than I had imagined.  In the end, I'll probably just try to find pictures online, since I'd probably end up taking her apart and then not being able to get her back together again.

The Body: The American Girl body is pretty much what I expected, with a few surprises.  First of all, I knew that the body would be unarticulated and clunky.  I have seen pictures of these dolls trying to do gymnastics, play instruments, and ride horses...and it’s not pretty.  I was frequently frustrated by Keira’s inability to strike realistic poses.  For a doll that has so many cool accessories and furniture, I wish she could pose with them a little better.  Also, I don’t like the seam between Keira’s cloth torso and vinyl neck.  The color of the vinyl doesn't match the color of the fabric, and the joint is unsightly.  The cloth torso's messy stitching and lumpy shape give it a less impressive look than what I expected.  However, Keira’s body has some great qualities.  First of all, it has a nice, substantial weight.  She is fun to carry around and feels just right in my arms.  Second, she stands on her own amazingly well.  She can stand in her shoes and out of them, and can even stand on slightly uneven terrain or with one leg positioned at an angle.  Also, the construction of this body is interesting.  Keira is strung--but with regular string, not with elastic. *Update: I stand corrected--Keira is, in fact, strung with elastic cord!  This means that she has some side-to-side movement in her joints, allowing her more flexibility than the Our Generation dolls.

***

I have been eagerly waiting to compare Keira to some of my other 18" play dolls.  As a representative sample, I chose to get out my Karito Kid, my Carpatina doll and my Our Generation doll.  I'll also do a brief comparison to a My Twinn.

Carpatina Erin, Karito Kids Ling, OG Charlotte
American Girl Keira.
Ling is one of my very favorite dolls.  I love her and her Karito sister, Zoe.  Unfortunately, the Karito Kids are discontinued and went from being on clearance for very cheap (I got Ling for $29.99) to hard-to-find and insanely expensive.  Still, when these dolls first came out, they retailed for $99, which makes them equivalent in both scale and price to American Girls.

Ling and Keira both come with complete outfits.  The two outfits are very well made.  They each have a skirt, a top and boots.  Ling also has tights and leg warmers.   Ling's top is embroidered velour and a bit more interesting than Keira's plain onesie-neck tee.  Both skirts are great--I slightly prefer the style of the jean skirt.  Ling has much better boots.  Ling also came with a book.


I think the Karito Kid body is fantastic.  It has a vinyl upper torso and a cloth belly. This allows for a graceful and flexible neck joint, but keeps the body of the doll soft and a little bit cuddly.



So, while Ling can look up and down...Keira can only stare straight forward:


The dolls have similar posing options, but Ling's added neck mobility and tall frame give her an advantage:


The dolls have very different faces.  Keira looks extremely young and a little blank--mostly because of her dark eyes.  Ling looks older and more realistic and she has very detailed brown eyes.  I can see that her exaggerated, angular features might not appeal to everyone, though.  Ling and Keira both have great hair.  Ling's wig is just a bit nicer, with no short strands in the back, great bangs and a very smooth, silky feel.

I had an amazing time shopping for Keira, but shopping for Ling was not very exciting.  I stumbled upon her one day at Tuesday Morning and decided she might be fun to own.


Keira and Carpatina Erin are slightly different sizes.  Erin is considered a "slim" 18" doll while Keira is a traditional 18" size.  Erin came with a basic underwear set, but in order for the prices of the two dolls to be equivalent, I had to evaluate Erin ($69) in her Guinevere dress ($38).  The styles of these two outfits are difficult to compare--I like them both for different reasons, but I guess I slightly prefer the fantasy drama and detail of Erin's dress.  The Guinevere dress also came with sippers and a rhinestone crown.


Erin has an elastic-strung full vinyl body.  Her body has a beautiful shape and realistic proportions, but she isn't at all cuddly, and doesn't feel as nice to carry around.  



Again, the dolls pose in similar ways, but Erin has the ability to rotate her head and look up and down.


I love Erin's red hair and freckles.  Her hair is very similar to Keira's hair in texture and wig quality.  I like the color of Erin's hair better, but Keira's hair is slightly softer, and has a slight wave to it that makes it more fun to play with.  Erin's green eyes are beautiful and detailed and her separated eyelashes give her a bright-eyed, cheerful look.  I like that Erin can pass for both a child or for a stylized adult.

Shopping on the Carpatina website is pretty fun because of all the gorgeous fantasy clothes, but it's nowhere near the adventure of the American Girl store experience.


Our Generation Charlotte is the only doll in this comparison that isn't in the $100 price range.  Charlotte cost me $18.99 on sale and retails for $22.  Her clothes are cute and creative, but the fabrics are thin and the sewing details are not as impressive as they are on Keira's clothes.


The bodies look very similar at first glance--they're both a little blocky with wide-set arms.  Each doll has vinyl limbs on a rectangular cloth torso.  Charlotte's body is made out of a material that reminds me of thick pantyhose, while Keira's torso is a durable canvas.



While the joints look similar, Keira's limbs are strung and Charlotte's are not.  This difference in construction gives Keira more side-to-side movement in her legs and arms.


Charlotte's posing is a bit robotic...


...and makes Keira look great in comparison:


Charlotte has rooted hair that is thick and fun to style.  While both dolls have synthetic hair fiber, Charlotte's hair feels synthetic while Keira's hair feels real.  Charlotte has bright blue eyes that open and close, but her eye mechanism is not as smooth as Keira's, and her eyes are set slightly askew.  I still think Charlotte is a fun doll for her price.  Keira is much nicer, but I am not sure she's five times nicer than Charlotte, as the price difference suggests.

The fun thing about shopping for an Our Generation doll is that you can get a big doll for a small price...and maybe even have a little money left for an extra outfit.


Last, here is Keira with my My Twinn Adopt-a-Friend doll, Hazel.  The Adopt-a-Friend dolls are usually $99, but I got Hazel in the 50% off sale.  Hazel is much larger than Keira, and I think her face looks amazingly realistic next to Keira's relatively simple features:


Hazel has gorgeous eyes, delicate applied eyelashes, hand-painted facial features and a personable, realistic smile.  Her hair is a high-quality wig with a clear wig cap.  It looks like her hair is rooted into her scalp.   Hazel's hair has not given any indication of being high-maintenance.


I just wish that the My Twinn body wasn't so awkward...


These dolls are not equivalent in scale, but I wanted to compare them because of their similar prices, and also because there were some parallels in the buying process.  I had a really fun time selecting both of these dolls--with Keira, I had an in-store adventure, and with Hazel, I had an online adventure, but each experience was memorable in its own way.  Both dolls were the result of some difficult decision-making, but the one-of-a-kind nature of the Adopt-a-Friend dolls made choosing Hazel even more difficult than choosing Keira.


The Comparisons:  Because of the amazing popularity of American Girl, I expected that Keira would stand out somehow from all of the other 18" play dolls I own.  She doesn't.  I am very fond of her, but she has her own mix of good and bad qualities that puts her solidly in the middle of the 18" doll pack.  For what it's worth, here's a summary of how the dolls stack up in my eyes:

Rank
Clothes
Hair
Face
Body
Purchasing Experience
1
Karito Kids
Karito Kids
My Twinn
Karito Kids
American Girl
2
Carpatina
My Twinn
Karito Kids
Carpatina
My Twinn
3
American Girl
American Girl
Carpatina
American Girl
Carpatina
4
My Twinn
Carpatina
American Girl
My Twinn
Our Generation
5
Our Generation
Our Generation
Our Generation
Our Generation
Karito Kids

***

The last thing on my review agenda was to take Keira on a little outing so that I could snap a few more pictures of her in natural light.  This is the best way to show off her true coloring.  I put her in the blue Springfield Collection dress (the one that looks good on every doll...) and headed out to one of my favorite state parks.

The dress fits, but the Croc-style sandals
are a bit too tight.
Here is Keira enjoying the rocky coastline of Maine:

American Girl 29


American Girl 29

Keira was brave, and climbed up some pretty steep rock faces just to get a better view:



If you look closely, you can see the ocean reflected in her eyes!


I dared her to stand right near the crashing surf as the waves came in...


She also enjoyed sitting on the rocks and watching all of the birds fly by...


But mostly, she just wanted to look out to sea...this was her first time seeing the water, after all.




Bottom Line?  Keira is a nice doll, and I have had a lot of fun carrying her around and photographing her in different settings.  Her simple face is very well suited to taking on the wide range of personalities that American Girl inspires.  She seems like a wonderful, durable companion--as long as her hair stays under control.  Keira is not my favorite $100 play doll, though.  She is comfortably in the middle of my favorites list.  So what is it that makes American Girl dolls so popular?  What is the “it” factor that has turned these fairly ordinary dolls into American icons?  I think it comes down to two main things: the culture and the choices.

What do I mean by culture?  Well, buying an American Girl doll is like joining a club.  A very popular club.  The company cultivates this feeling with the recognizable big red bags, the clothing for real children, and the incentives to plan social gatherings around the dolls.  Humans like belonging to groups--we’re all about defining a tribe and defending it.  We like to advertise our tribal connections with bumper stickers and tee shirts...or by carrying a certain doll around under one arm.  I experienced some of the rush of belonging to the American Girl tribe while I was at the beach photographing Keira.  There were a lot of people at the beach that day, but most of them stayed out of my way. There was a young couple with two small girls, though, and they stopped to watch what I was doing.  Whenever I caught their eyes, they would smile and nod.  We’re in the club, too, their faces said,  We understand.  Better yet, their knowing smiles seemed to say, We see your doll--and we like you.  I have to admit that this felt really good.  I guess my only concern with the club mentality comes when I think about the kids who don’t have membership.  Especially if the $110 price tag is the only thing that’s preventing them from having that membership.  Keira’s quality does not warrant her price, which leads me to conclude that American Girl has chosen to put a high price on access to the tribe.  I can’t say I blame them--it’s good business, but it makes me a little sad.  I don’t mind if American Girl charges the moon for everything else in the store--especially the larger accessories like the hot air balloon and the car.  But I’d love to see the dolls priced a little lower, to see a few more girls proudly sporting an American Girl tucked under one arm.

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about American Girl is the multitude of choices that are available.  There are an incredible number of dolls with a wide range of physical features.  Even once you've chosen a doll, the variety of clothing and accessories you can select for her is astonishing.  Of all the play dolls I know, only Barbie might rival American Girl for the sheer diversity and number of different dolls and accessories.  The real genius (and the big problem) with American Girl dolls is that the huge array of options make the choosing part so much fun.  I left the Boston store feeling absolutely thrilled with my Keira and with the experience as a whole.  I had spent an entire afternoon looking and thinking and wallowing in the choosing process.  Now that I am home and a few weeks have passed, I realize that there's nothing particularly unique about Keira as a doll.  She has good qualities and bad, but she does not strike me as truly exceptional on her own.  The thing about Keira that makes her special is that she comes with memories of that delightful, decadent choosing experience.  So, why is this a problem?  Because...I already want to choose again.

American Girl 29

100 comments:

  1. Another great review! I love your objectivity and the specifics that you note in the comparisons of doll lines. I am also tickled with the fact that you went with my suggestion! She definitely looks like a Keira and I really like that you added Sofia in there too.

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    1. I think Keira is the perfect name for her--thank you! :D

      I'd LOVE to get one of your adorable boy dolls some day, by the way. As a mother of two boys, they have an extra-special place in my heart, and you do a wonderful job with your customizations! It's so fun to look at the pictures on your site.

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    2. Wow! Thanks so much! I am incredibly flattered that you have checked out the boys and like them so much. I just added two more to the shop and I will be debuting them on the blog tomorrow morning. One is actually wearing a Pats jersey and the other has a very Cape Cod/Martha's vineyard look to him with his patchwork madras pants. I have only two more that I will be finishing up to complete the total 17 and then four more that will not be sold on Etsy. I had to cap it because the school year is starting for me very soon and I just cannot do the dolls and all of what I need to with teaching and finishing grad school by the end of the calendar year.

      I have fun taking the pics for the site too. When I am not lazy I use a full-frame camera and prime lenses - I was a freelance professional photographer for almost 12 years and retired last November officially. Taking pics of the dolls lets me still exercise my photography skills and also not bring myself to part with everything in photography gear that I still have. *kind of bad maybe?* I always enjoy your photography as well. I used to do marketing and product work (food photography is my absolute favorite to do because I used to be allowed to style the food too!) and you do some pretty impressive shots with all of your reviews.

      Delete
  2. I agree with above- this was an awesome review!
    At 31 I'm still waiting to get my first American Girl doll- I've had all the books and paper dolls that were available in the 90's but never had a chance to own a real live AG dolly. Now I can't wait! <3

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    1. Thank you so much, Trisha! I really hope that you can find an AG store near you when the time comes for you to get your doll. I cannot recommend it enough. Getting a doll online is probably great, but the extra experience of visiting the store is hard to beat! I will never forget it.

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  3. firstie! Great job, iv'e been waiting for this post!

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    1. Sorry it took me so long! Glad you saw it. :D

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  4. Don't use that aussie spray on Keiras hair. You shouldn't use human hair products on dolls hair



    From,
    Jasmine,age11

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    1. Thank you Jasmine!! You saved Keira's hair. I wasn't sure if that spray would be ok or not..so glad you posted! :D

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    2. The spray is fine. Many human products can and are easily used on AG hair. I've had my dolls for almost a decade now, and the spray keeps the hair nice. Don't be afraid to use it.

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    3. Jasmine is incorrect, Em. Just so you know. You can use that stuff just fine.

      Delete
    4. I don't think you should use that spray



      Jasmine : |

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    5. Please trust me. I don't think nethilia is right. Human hair products should never be used on doll hair.




      - Jasmine

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    6. Sorry to jump on the bandwagon so out of the blue, but I think Jasmine is - generally speaking - right: I'm not sure about that brand in particular, but human-hair products usually contain oil-based substances that can soil the plastic fibers of the hair or make them greasy; maybe a detangling spray for wigs would be a better option.

      Anyway, you can always try the spray on some hidden locks of the wig (avoiding the fabric cap I'd say) and see what happens - you can always (gently) clean it afterwards, it's just plastic after all.

      PS. I like your reviews, keep 'em coming! :)

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    7. Hi Jasmine--I think you bring up a very good rule of thumb, to not use human products on doll hair! I am sure there are exceptions, but it might be safer to not use anything unless it's an emergency! I really do appreciate everyone's input--this is clearly a complicated subject with lots of variables.

      Wouldn't it be great if there was some massive chart that listed all of the doll types and all of the human hair products that are useful/safe? I'd frame that and post it on my wall!! :D

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    8. Jasmine--braid spray is made for use in synthetic hair. I have been using braid spray in synthetic hair since I was 12 years old back in 1992--not just in human hair, but in doll hair. I am not trying to start an argument, but the assumption that no human hair products are safe is erroneous. Most hair products that are being avoided are gooey/sticky things like hair spray or stiffeners or gels. Braid spray or spray in conditioner is made to condition synthetic hair, and is mostly water with a few conditioning elements. Braid spray is better for doll hair than things such as vinyl car protector and fabric softener.

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    9. *sigh* Jasmine, seriously, braid spray is okay. Nethilia knows her stuff when it comes to dolls and their hair, and I trust her implicitly. My doll that is older, who was released in 2005, gets a weekly braid spray treatment to keep her hair nice and shiny and has been doing so since March. Her hair is fine. Also, knowing Neth as well as I do, and how much she loves American Girl dolls, I know that she would never, could never, in good conscience, tell someone to put something in their doll's hair that would ruin it.

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    10. Aj, I don't think that Emily got braid spray. She said she couldn't find braid spray. I don't think what she got is okay


      -Jasmine

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    11. To caffeine cowgirl
      Finally some here agrees with me :)

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    12. I meant someone

      -Jasmine

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    13. As long as it is mild leave in conditioning spray and used in moderation, it's fine. If you're worried, Emily, water it down in a half and half solution (though that's not needed for braid sheen spray). But only one to two sprays is enough per hair brushing. I once used a lot on one doll's head, but she was a former PC Samantha (now named Tara) who had a tangled nest of hair:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/38252811@N00/3894727085/in/set-72157622278638986 - Before.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/38252811@N00/3895512764/in/set-72157622278638986 - halfway through braid spray and brush

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/38252811@N00/3894727821/in/set-72157622278638986 - After.

      The stuff works.

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    14. That stuff IS NOT BRAID SPRAY. DO NOT USE IT. And back off Jasmine, guys! What is your problem with people trying to be helpful? Can we just stop spamming this post with "does too! does not! yada yada yada!!!"
      An irritated Miss Piggy
      P.S. Emily, sorry. I also know how you can work the snack cart in! Either Ling or someone can be her older sister, who is in high school and- you guessed it- works at the snack cart!

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    15. @ Miss Piggy:

      As the person who introduced braid spray into the American Girl fandom, I assure you that any spray in conditioner, used lightly is fine. I have used children's spray in conditioner as well. The main thing is that it be used lightly and mostly water based.

      It's not "spam" to discuss an issue, or being mean to point out when someone is wrong. The idea that arguing is mean or that people should just "back off" is one of the most pernicious ideas ever to go on.

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  5. I love all your pictures! This was a very helpful review. I'm surprised that I like the My Twinn doll so much better in the pics- even with her weird frumpy body. I've been curious about doll hair lately and was wondering if you've ever heard of the My Salon Doll? It's an 18" doll with real human hair so you could conceivably use regular curling irons and such. It seems like a fun concept for a budding stylist, but their faces are questionable in the pictures on their site.

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    1. Hi Holly--thank you! I had fun photographing Keira. Hazel, the My Twinn doll, has a face that photographs really well. That strange body often makes for some awkward poses and weird pictures, though!

      I had not heard of Salon Doll--thank you for the tip! I love learning about a new kind of doll. They look really interesting! I like human hair wigs in general--one of my Sasha dolls has one and it's beautiful. I have the Salon Doll site open right now and will take a closer look...

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    2. To holly g
      I know you weren't asking me but I've heard of my salon dolls. I heard of them by reading you comment


      -Jasmine

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    3. Oops I meant YOUR

      -Jasmine

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  6. I agree about the tribe aspect, and the choosing more fun than owning. It's the dreaming about getting the doll that makes the doll so special, which is why I stick with my paper dolls. :) Still, I'm glad to see your long-awaited thoughts about American Girl. Keira and I have almost identical glasses (mine have some white detailing on the sides)!

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    1. You are wise, N, for sticking with paper dolls! :) You also have some fabulous glasses, it seems. I deliberated for SO long on Keira's glasses, and am really, really happy with them. I think I like them better than my own glasses! Ack!

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  7. If you want to see more of the body and how it works, I would be more than happy to send in pictures of the Lindsey I will be restringing! Lindsey was an eBay purchase, and she should be arriving between the 31st and the 8th.My family is on vacation from the 2nd to the 9th.
    Hope you like your newest gal!
    -Juliet

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    1. Oh, and by the way; the limbs are, in fact, strung with elastic. It is a fabric covered rubber band, that does stretch out out over time. Lots of actually use a (cut) Goody ouch-less rubber band in restringing. I'm planning to do it myself. XD
      -Juliet
      (BTW-Lindsey is my first restringing; I've only ever done rewiging before)

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    2. Juliet--you're awesome! Thank you so much for this information! It's a little depressing that the joints have elastic that can stretch out over time, but I am so glad to know what is actually going on in there (without having to take Keira apart!)

      I would be fascinated to have pictures of your restringing project--wow! That would be amazing. Send me an email if you're still up for that when Lindsey arrives. :D

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    3. Sure thing! Glad to help one of my favorite blogs! (;
      -Juliet

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  8. I always say there is something oddly magical about an American Girl doll and I never can put my finger one it! I'm not entirely sure but I believe that the dolls are made asymmetrical on purpose because girls aren't perfectly symmetrical? I think I read that somewhere! All of mine have asymmetrical faces anyway!

    The limbs are attached with a length of strong elastic cord and are clamped with metal pieces on each end. You can take off her head and if you poke around a bit you should be able to see the end of one of her shoulder joints! I hope you continue to enjoy her! She's lovely!

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    1. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you for the information! I assumed that the string in her joints was the same as the string around her neck! I am so delighted to learn these details. Now maybe I don't have to do surgery on Keira?? ;)

      I think I have corrected this in my post. Many thanks again! :D

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    2. It's correct that the "string" is elastic cord, but they don't use metal clamps any more, I think because of lead laws or else to keep cost down. Now, the strings are simply tied with knots. I have restrung many AG dolls and the very recent ones have these knots.

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    3. I stand corrected! Thank you, I haven't had a reason to take the heads of my newer dolls! Now I have a very disgruntled Kit lol!

      http://store.americangirl.com/agshop/static/dollfeatures.jsp
      I knew I read about the asymmetry some where! If you click on the face icon thing it talks about it!

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  9. Welcome to the club! (One of us! One of us!)

    I do agree with you on the whole kinda "tribe" thing, and even that I bought into it hook line and sinker. Before I got Mari, I wanted an AG doll since I was 10, and I'm 36 now and just got Mari this year, and Elyse a week ago. The wanting was just that much for me. But what's made it fun too is that it has tapped in to the long lost part of my brain that lived for imaginative play, the kid that sent her My Little Ponies on epic adventures led by Firefly, because Firefly was awesome. I've given Mari a personality and quirks (she's my big geek, often plays it clueless, is kinda snarky, loves Broadway and figure skating and would sooner stick an X-acto knife in her eye than go outside and play, she'd much rather settle down with a book and read), Elyse a completely different personality and quirks (she's more rough and tumble, is more blisteringly sarcastic than snarky, loves to be outside, likes sports, likes science, runs away screaming with I start belting showtunes and would rather go through electro-shock therapy than read a book), likes, dislikes, favorites, etc. It's tapped into this long lost creative side that I'd kind of forgotten I had (at least since I stopped writing fanfiction) and I really love it.

    Also, brushing doll hair and changing their clothes is just really soothing and as an adult, I appreciate that much more as I have Big People Responsibilities And Problems.

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    1. Thank you, AJ! :D It feels good to finally be in the club. ;)

      I love reading your dolls' quirks! I do the same thing...making up complex personalities and histories, but not for every doll. It's funny how some of them inspire this creativity and others do not.

      You wrote fan fiction?? Do tell!!

      And last...I totally agree that brushing doll hair is soothing and comforting! How true! Much better than brushing my own hair, for example. However, I don't like dressing dolls that much for some reason. It makes me crabby.

      Delete
    2. Oh lawd, don't get me started on the fanfiction girl, it's long gone and was awful. ;) But yes, I wrote some back when I was new to the interwebs. X-Files mostly.

      Now that I have your address and once we learn more about Keira, she may get a package from my girls. Just sayin', ain't sayin'. >.>

      Sometimes, dressing an AG doll can be like dressing a small child - heads up that the Casual Chic Outfit through AG can be a beast - but sometimes, just dressing them up and taking pictures is a lot of fun. But the hair... Lock me in a room for a week. Make sure I have cigarettes and caffeine and a steady stream of dolls and ponies and a good wig brush and I'd come out a week later, happy as a clam.


      Delete
  10. Your review of the body shape is something glorious; mind if I link to this at some point on my blog? I've been familiar with AG since I was 13 (7 if you count when they popped up on my radar) so seeing someone who hasn't gotten used to the body shape is new. Forgive me in advance for the data dump.

    The cloth body is something that's always been there--the very first three dolls were actually white cloth bodied, because their clothes always covered up the body due to the way historical clothing was worn. It wasn't until Felicity that they went with flesh tones, because colonial fashion is low in the front. The neckline doesn't bother me, but two-piece swimsuits jar me.

    Plastic brushes on doll hair is actually bad for all dolls, not just AG. I'd double down and say it's bad for most people's hair--every time I use plastic in my hair outside of the shower I feel the snagging. I do have several super curly AG dolls. The major thing with curls, just like in real life, is that brushes can't just be yanked through, and that is likely what is being done, along with cross contamination from human hair oils. I'm able to style the super curly dolls I have easily--it mostly means patience. It helps that I am naturally curly (well, naturally black curly) so I do the same with doll hair I do with mine--separate and define each curl. Red hair also has never given me trouble--Felicity is red headed and her hair is no different. All AG wigs are made of high-quality Kanekalon. It sounds like people lamenting the issues maybe don't have curly hair of their own and are trying to treat it like straight hair, which is the worst thing to do.

    The spray you got is fine and should be sufficient for months. The braid spray I use and suggest to everyone is almost always found in the "ethnic" section (as a black woman, I have some sore feelings about my hair being othered, but that is here nor there), but Maine likely has a low black population and so doesn't have it as prominent.

    The "Meet" outfit (clothes dolls come in) tend to be contemporary styles. This set was released in 2011, I believe. It's probably due for a change out either this or next fall. AG clothes can go in the wash, but I tend to hand wash the few times I need to wash dirty doll clothes. Unless its a huge load, then it goes in on delicate.

    The neck strings are exactly for that--to take off heads for repairs by the company (or skilled individuals--I take off heads to restring my dolls). There was a point where AG did zip ties, but it was universally hated so they went back to cords. The internal structure is elastic cord through plastic cups, though I heard they don't use the metal clamps anymore and might only knot the cords. I had to fix my Josefina when I broke her leg cord (she was secondhand) so I have pictures.

    http://www.spenecial.com/americangirl/agalbums/RestringingGuide/img_1987.html - That's the body side.

    http://www.spenecial.com/americangirl/agalbums/RestringingGuide/img_2007.html And inside the joint.

    You can see a lot of the internal body here: http://www.spenecial.com/americangirl/agalbums/RestringingGuide/index.html

    If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

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    1. Wow! Nethilia! Thank you so much for those pictures! That's exactly what I was hoping to see!
      Also, I really like your blog and am glad to have found it. I was happy to see Felicity's Riding Habit review because for some reason I spent a lot of time on eBay searching for Felicity and her riding habit. It looks very appealing to me. I love Felicity's eyes. I also like seeing your pictures of Cecile--she struck me as being especially pretty (I love the ringlets) when I was at the store, but I came away with no pictures of her because the case she was in was reflecting a nearby light really badly.

      It's wonderful to hear all of the history and details behind the neck string and the cloth bodies. I love having a better understanding of a doll's history, but I have been so overwhelmed with new American Girl information, I got a little lazy with the history. :) Looking at the magazine covers on your blog is a real treat for these same reasons.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to post your wisdom and your links--and of course you can link to this review whenever you want! I know where to go the next time I have American Girl questions!!

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    2. Thanks for the opinion on Felicity's riding habit! Like I said, it's on of my favorite sets for her--I have all of her clothes except the Gala Dress which I despised. I plan to do many historical reviews--I do them on the historical intended unless I've decided on not adding her to my collection. (So that's Samantha, Rebecca--who I had but customized--Molly, and Julie; I don't have any Kirsten stuff.) I have my own Cécile (the one currently shown on my blog is my mom's--she loves AG too and was the one who encouraged me to always hold out hope for getting Addy).

      The cases are such a pain. I was at AG Seattle snapping pics of Saige and it kept reflecting.

      I love the AG history--for me in some ways the books are more important than the clothes. I have every AG character book ever published, and even some of the older things like the board games and theatre kits, stuff they don't make anymore. There's a lot of AG stuff that just hasn't been archived by the fandom and it's a major bother of me that there's tons of clothes and item details on message boards--but almost nothing on the books, magazines, or characters themselves beyond their collections. I guess that's why I ultimately started the American Girl Wiki--to help get the stuff beyond the outfits in a database.

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  11. Keira really shines in the natural sun light!
    I don't totally understand the extreme hair care for these dolls (other than curly hair, I can easily see that being more difficult to keep looking decent). I have Molly and Samantha from the 90s, these dolls are around 15 years old now and their hair isn't that bad. True, it's not as pristine as it was out of the box, but it's not a matted mess - and my sister and I definitely played with them a lot. Maybe we weren't as hard on them as some girls because our parents made sure we understood their price.
    I guess someday I'll get around learning some basic hair tlc though, only due to some flyaway frizz.

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    1. Hi Molly! That is very good news to hear about the hair. I am really hoping that Keira's shiny locks stay nice over the years! What's frustrating is that it seems like perhaps some dolls are better than others, but I don't have a clear sense of which ones or why yet. I'm sure you're right that the care taken with the hair plays a huge role, too. The idea of a nice doll that will last long enough to be passed to the next generation is SO appealing. Sounds like you have found that with your Samantha and Molly!

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  12. I do not know much about the modern American Girl Dolls. I owned mine before Mattel bought the company. My observation has always been that while the dolls were high quality, the truly exception thing was always the detail of the clothing and accessories. I was never a child who wanted a lot of dolls, I was content to own a one or two dolls, but I wanted a lot of clothing. I still remember having Samantha's school set with a miniature McGuffey reader and that there was a chalkboard, with chalk, that really wrote. I was stunned as an adult to handle a real McGuffy and discover I recalled the words of the stories from reading them out of Samantha's when I was a child.

    I wonder if you had maintained your original plan and bought a historic doll, if you would feel the same way.

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    1. I love the idea of one beloved doll who has a huge wardrobe and many fun accessories! The American Girl clothes and extras are perfect for this. Chalk that really writes on a board would have blown my mind as a kid. That is SO cool. It's neat that you still remember the stories from the McGuffey reader, too! This is exactly why I think the historical books are such a wonderful idea (and why I got stressed about the inaccuracy in the science book). My guess is the accessories were nicer towards the beginning of American Girl's history (only because that's the case with so many toys) but there's still a lot of attention to cute little details in the modern stuff. This is one of the things that really impressed me at the store.

      I wonder the same thing about how I might have reacted if I'd chosen Rebecca first. I guess I'll never get a second chance for a first impression, but I might still add Rebecca to the fold someday. ;)

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  13. The doll's features really differs from doll to doll, even though it's the same face mold. The way eyes are put in and the size and depth or eye sockets makes a big difference to me. Thickness in wig, face coloring are some other things that can also vary from doll to doll out of the same character.
    Actually, Rebecca and MAG #55 have the same eyes - both hazel. There is a decal (the more detailed, painted version of the eyes. The eyes of your doll are pinwheel) brown too, currently only being used on 1970 friend character Ivy Ling. It used to be used on Samantha, from 1904, too. She is sadly retired.
    Here is some more info on the different eye types and colors of American Girl dolls: http://agplaythings.proboards.com/thread/9458?page=1
    To me it almost looks like your Keira has a bump in her wig cap. It might just be the light, but it could be a defective wig.
    The short hairs in the back are there so that you won't see her wig cap when her hair is up (pigtails, etc.).
    Neck gaps also vary from doll to doll.
    You could always bend Keira forward or backward to make her look up or down, but I have to agree, the karito kids have more options.
    Anyhow, great review with good pictures!
    - Tilde :)

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    1. Hi Tilde! Thank you so much! I am so impressed by the knowledge about these dolls and so touched that you would take the time to share what you know! I wondered about the facial variations, because even before I left the American Girl store, I was feeling like the doll I'd bought was not the same as the doll on the shelf who had won me over. She's close--it's fine, but I felt sure I was seeing some differences! I am also shocked to learn that Rebecca and #55 have the same eyes! That's crazy! They looked so different!

      It's interesting to me that the short hair fibers are on purpose. I need to process that. I am not sure which I'd rather see--the wig cap or the short hairs. It's a tough call!

      Anyway, I am learning so much today--thank you again for your wonderful information and the link! I am off to read more about eyes... :)

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  14. I was so pleased to receive the email that you'd updated your blog! I don't own an American Girl myself so I really wanted to see your in-depth review... and you certainly delivered!

    I really loved the American Girl books as a child and I can certainly understand the appeal of the dolls even now (that in-club is a very real thing... you can even feel it just reading reviews and look at tutorials over the internet!), but all that being said I don't think the AG dolls are for me, even if I like all their accessories. I much prefer the look of Karito Kids' Ling, your My Twinn Adopt-A-Friend Hazel, or A Girl For All Time's Amelia. All things being equal, I would prefer to own a Karito Kid if I wanted a more contemporary-looking doll and a Girl For All Time if I wanted a more historical-themed doll.

    I think I really would've loved AG dolls' changeable faces (as in, the way they can be expressing different emotions) as a child, but their "blank" faces now just don't appeal to me.

    I'm very much looking forward to reading your review of the AG mini doll (since I still fondly remember Felicity and Molly and may want one of them).

    Thanks for once again sharing a great review with us!

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    1. Thank you so much, Holly!

      I am very excited to see how A Girl for All Time compares to these other dolls--as you said, the Karito Kids are a great modern doll, but the historical theme is so wonderful...maybe Girl For All Time can fill in there? I am waiting to see the new redhead, Clementine.

      The mini American Girl dolls are very appealing to me in their boxes and in the pictures online. I am more nervous about the real dolls after seeing the display at the store though. I am hoping that the display dolls looked bad just because they had been mangled by passing hands for a few years. Still the idea of such little dolls with such elaborate clothing (and a real mini book, I'm told!) is amazing, and I am excited to de-box that little Rebecca, too! :)

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  15. Great review, Emily! It was fun to read a review of an AG doll that was so objective. :)

    I've definitely noticed the "club" mentality. A lot of girls now are treating the dolls as status symbols, not toys, and that's rather disheartening. What's more disheartening is that, like you said, there are a lot of girls who can't belong to the "club" for financial reasons. I do think that AG dolls are worth a reasonable amount, and that the price helps set them apart as a special doll (i.e. more special than a Barbie), but wouldn't $50-$75 still be enough to set them apart while being somewhat more affordable?

    As far as the face goes, I wonder what you would think of her if you'd chosen a doll with a different face sculpt. Keira has the Classic sculpt like Samantha, and while I adore my Samantha and wouldn't trade her for anything (she was my first one and a very special gift from my Grandma), I have noticed that her face can look a little funny from certain angles. My 3 Josefina-faced dolls, though (Nellie, Elizabeth, and McKenna), and Kaya look good from pretty much any angle. I think it has to do with the cheeks-- on the Classic face, the cheeks seem to be set further forward or something, giving the doll a funny 3/4 profile. I also don't care for the noses on the Classic or Addy faces as much (they're so upturned, I sometimes feel like I'm looking up their nostrils! XD), but that's just me. :)

    As far as the hair, I've never heard of the red hair being more difficult than the others, but I haven't had much experience with it myself. Nellie's hair is the strawberry-blonde that AG usually calls "red," but her wig is so short that I wouldn't be able to tell you if it was tangle-prone or not. :)
    I do know that the curly hair needs more TLC (like real curly hair), but I think most of the problems have to do with girls trying to treat it like straight hair and just yanking a brush through, like Nethilia said. As far as the wavy and straight hair, though, it really isn't that hard to take care of. My Samantha is almost 15 years old, and other than her hair being dry from age (I need to get some dolly spray-in conditioner for it), it's still in great shape. However, I was always careful to not leave her lying around with her hair in a tangle and made sure to only use the AG brush on it, and I think that helped it a lot. :)
    Kaya's hair was a little more of a challenge (and I ultimately cut about 4" off of it a couple of years ago), but I quickly figured out that her hair needed to stay in a braid of some sort. Unfortunately, I had a friend who wanted to play with my AG dolls whenever she came over, and she always wanted to play with Kaya's hair, and I wasn't brave enough to tell her no. She would try to put it up in all these fancy ponytails and twists and such, but then would leave it in a horribly tangled mess that I would have to try to undo after she left, usually pulling and ripping at the mess with the brush in my frustration, which ultimately led to Kaya having some very frizzy ends on her hair.
    So, the moral of the story, girls, is to not be afraid to stand up for yourself and protect your doll's hair if you feel like your friend is abusing it. ;)

    Thank you again for the fun review, Emily! Your reviews are always so detailed and very insightful. If you do end up getting another AG, I would recommend trying a different face sculpt (Rebecca has the Josefina face, by the way ;)) and seeing what you think of her.

    And sorry for the novel-long comment. :)

    --Kate :)

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    1. "No means no." But, I didn't say "No" 7 years ago when my original Molly accompanied me to the hospital for a test. A young girl in braids wanted to play with her and her mom took my phone number, saying she needed a reliable babysitter on a regular basis. I felt obligated to allow this child to throw Molly into the air, tug on her braids, bend her glasses, remove her shoes, and otherwise leave her wilted and looking worn out when I had only had her for 3 days. I learned my lesson too. If I bring one of my Twinns and someone wants to check her out, they can do it from a distance. I'd never allow any stranger to take a beloved doll and entrust them to treat her with great care.

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    2. Hi Kate-- I love your in-depth comment! Thank you so much for taking the time to share what you know--I agree with so much of what you said. I had decided from looking online that I preferred Josefina's face to the regular face, but I still went and bought Keira! Argh! I don't regret it, necessarily (I think it's valuable to look at the most common face), but I do find that I am still curious about Rebecca. There's always the Manhattan store if I visit my mom some day. :)

      It makes me SO sad that any doll would be used as a status symbol--held out as a barrier to separate kids and hurt feelings rather than join kids together. That's no good. I came up with a similar ideal price ($60). I think more parents would find this price acceptable, and American Girl would still be making money. The doll could be like a loss leader. I don't know much about business, but I was thinking if my Karito Kid was on sale for $30, it probably costs less than $30 to manufacture this kind of doll. Maybe even less for AG because they make so many.

      I am encouraged to hear about your experience with the hair, too, although I am sad that your Kaya suffered some hair damage in the hands of your enthusiastic friend. I could never say "no," either.

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  16. the reason for the asymmetrical face is because all American girls are hand sculpted the eyes are also hand painted. so not all the dolls are exactly perfect. I got a my ag#43 for Christmas and her hair has absolutely no problem with just a wig brush. for my dolls I just buy OG clothes its nice quality and cheaper. great review really truthful.

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    1. The vinyl in AG dolls (head and limbs) are spun cast in standard molds, which makes for minor variations. Dolls are not hand molded. They are painted, but in factory assembly.

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    2. they actually are hand sculpted I specificity saw at the AG website they said that each mold can take up to a year to complete beacause of that. but they do have designated mold styles they have to create.

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    3. The initial mold is or was hand sculpted, yes. To make the mold. They don't sculpt a different mold for every single doll they make, or even every variety. It can take a year to design a doll, but the molds are standard. There's only been eight molds in the life of the company.

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    4. Also just gonna say that have specifically stated on their site that they make the molds asymmetrical to look more like real girls' faces.

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  17. Great review! I love that your reviews are always very thorough and impartial. Have you ever considered the Madame Alexander 18" dolls? They have the vinyl chest plate like the Karito Kids. I have 3 of them and am happy with them. I prefer their face molds and lower price tag. I would still like to get an American Girl doll one day though.

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    1. Hi Aileen! I am actually investigating the Madame Alexander dolls because of your comment! Thank you. I bought one from Walmart a year or so ago and was appalled by the quality, but the newer My Life As...dolls might be better, and there also seems to be a difference between the Walmart dolls and the Favorite Friends dolls. It helps to hear that you are happy with yours--are they from Walmart, or just the regular line?
      Thanks again for the tip! :D

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    2. Oh wow thank you for the reply! I have 3 different Alexander dolls. I have Playwonder Isabella from Target, My Life as Nature Girl from Walmart, and Favorite Friends "Hangin with Friends" doll. The Favorite Friends doll is the best one which makes sense since she is the most expensive of the 3. I like the My Life doll but her "posable" legs bother me a little since they are stiff and make it harder to get her to stand on her own. She's much better now that I've loosened her up. lol I would've loved to read your review on the older Walmart doll, I'm curious about her now. I like the Playwonder doll the least of the 3. She has thinner arms and legs and her feet are made so she can wear flip flops but because of the way they are shaped she can't stand alone barefoot. Her hair was also very frizzy and poofy but I gave her a boil wash and it helped. I have not had any problems with the other 2 doll's hair but I'm sure I'm not as rough on them as a child would be.

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  18. I love your reviews! I don't like this kind of dolls particularly, but I enjoy when you review them. I liked the science set you reviewed last time - wish it were something like that for Barbie or Liv dolls.
    I posted a comment on your Novi Stars review, but it seems that you didn't saw it.
    Keep writing those wonderful reviews! I love them =)

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    1. Thank you so much, Bunny Stark! :D I wish Liv had a science set, too! What a great idea!

      I will go see if I can find your Novi Stars comment--sorry, I have a hard time keeping up with comments on older reviews. I have noticed a lot of new Novi Stars starting to hit the shelves around here...

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  19. I don't really like dolls like these, but your review is awesome and super helpful. I wish Mattel and MGA made stuff that are AG quality.

    Also, review suggestion?
    Have you heard about Universal Pooyan's Here Comes the Maid?
    http://www.amiami.com/top/detail/detail?scode=FIG-DOL-4987

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    1. AG is owned by Mattel.

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    2. no it's not.
      it's a company on its own..

      .....Seattleite.....

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    3. American Girl is now owned by Mattel. In the past, it was a separate company--Pleasant Company--but Mattel bought them in 1998.

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  20. If you visit the AG website and find "about the doll" in the left-hand corner, you will read that American Girl dolls are asymmetrical to mimic a real child's face. This is the BEST review of American Girl products, experience, doll, and care I have ever read. At one time, I had 12 American Girls and sold all but Molly for student loans. Also, my mom is a doll lover, but my father wanted them out of the house. I lost some pre-Mattel treasures like Kirsten's wooden Swedish tine lunch, Emily's 2 piece bathing suit, Molly's eardrops and paper dolls. I'm down to Molly's new bedroom, her pjs, her summer aqua outfit, and of course, her Evergreen Christmas dress. I am a My Twinn collector now and have 1 dozen, 4 are very rare face molds, but I shop with all my heart. Their lifelike features make up for the flaws in their upper bodies. Even shopping from American Girl online is a heady experience. You sit down with the catalog and a pen, there's that choosing and dreaming process, the purchase, her arrival. It's very overwhelming and I want to visit NYC so badly. Molly has shining gray eyes and gorgeous braids. I love her WWII era and her personality. I feel almost betrayed that the company is retiring her. Marie-Grace Gardner has a brand new face mold with a long sloped nose, long face, high cheek bones, thick lips, and big seafoam eyes that are fringed more gently than the bristle lashes. The neck gap is present in every doll, so don't worry. Misting with water was the downfall of my Kanani's 2011 GOTY knee-length hair. Distilled water turned her mane frizzy and dry. Don't mist. Start at the ends and hold with your finger, brush slowly all hair below fingers, continue until you reach the scalp, hitting the stitches of wefting is unavoidable (esp. with McKenna 2012 GOTY). I miss my AGs and am planning another girl to come home, probably GOTY 2014 because rumor is she is a ballerina. Welcome to the club. Sorry for the length of this. :-) I do agree that American Girl is a tribe: I was an unpopular nerd in school and am a writer so carrying my Molly proudly and having many compliments makes me . . .belong. GREAT review!

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! You describe these dolls with such love--it makes me want to look at Molly more closely! I do remember thinking she was very pretty when I visited the store. I need to look at Marie-Grace again, too, because I didn't notice her eye color or her unique lashes.

      I wish I could sit down with you and chat about My Twinn, because I feel like there is a rich history there that is difficult to piece together from online information. For instance, I have not been able to find a guide for all of the face molds, so I don't know which ones are rare, or which are from Denver, etc. Those doll are all about the faces. I love Hazel and it's mostly because of her realistic face and amazing hair and eyes. I don't see the body flaws as acutely as I did when she arrived--especially if she's dressed! :)

      I will be careful not to get Keira's hair wet, although she did get some spray at the beach. :-O Seems ok so far, but probably salt water is a real no-no!! Ack!

      Thank you again for all of your insights on the American Girl characters. I loved reading this. :)

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  21. I am a little confused by the "age" of the dolls, and then the scale of the accessories. I had imagined them to be maybe 8, maybe a little older. An 8 year old with a VW beetle (though it might be a toy car); the doll is bigger than the horses they own (they could be miniatures); the furniture I guess has been sized down as it would just look plain odd otherwise.
    The stocky body reminds me of American footballers and the armour they wear, an AG wouldn't need any.
    I'm not a great fan of the spread leg sitting position.
    I'm not a big fan of the neck/body join, I do have Journey Girl dolls, with the cloth belly and vinyl chest - I prefer this to the full AG cloth body. But a full vinyl body doll is my doll of choice.
    The gappy buck teeth are a bit of a turn off too.
    I don't really like wigs, it may just be that my main experience is with rooted hair, the recommendation of a metal bristle brush has been taken on and is what I now use on my vinyl dolls.
    I do love the accessories and range of clothing though, and envy any one with access to AG stores (I'm in Australia so a visit by me is not likely) I think the experience would be awesome. (I wonder why place settings only come in pairs).
    I have had a brief visit from a 2nd hand Marisol, but I just could not warm to her, despite her having the Josefina face. Would I ever try getting another AG doll? What are the odds of winning the lottery? If I did win I would go to an AG doll store and see everything in person, Julie, Rebecca and Nellie would be possibles.

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    1. Ag made a VW beetle because ag Julie Albright had a car washing business

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    2. Sorry but ag Nellie is retired

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    3. so is rebbeca. sorry!

      .....Seattleite.....

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    4. The scale of some of the accessories bugs me, too, Kaffrum. This is a problem with most larger doll accessories, though, I think. My guess is that it's just impractical to make, say, a horse that is in the correct scale. It'd be so big that no one would buy it (well, I would, but I'm crazy). ;) The My Twinn horses are a slightly better scale for 18" play dolls. I would love to see a My Twinn horse with one of the petite 18" dolls like a Kidz n Cats doll. That might be close to correct--at least for a pony.

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    5. Fortunately, Julie and Rebecca are still being sold from AG and I have seen some very reasonably priced Nellies on the secondary market. I saw a listing for a very good-looking doll for $90 just last week.

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  22. Yes. A very thought provoking and balanced review. I have often wondered why this doll line has been as beloved and successful as it has been. Marketing is a powerful tool. AG has come up with a formula that works: consumer conditioning, packaging, market niche savvy,and sociology--few can resist. Your pictures of Keira have made the AG doll line more appealing for me, and I am happy to have vicariously experienced the AG purchase through your review, but I doubt I'll ever want to own one...There are too many other dolls I like so much more. I think Vanange dolls at Vannuzza.com are a sleeper in the market. Perhaps their slight religious element has turned some people off, but beyond that they are so much more attractive in person than they appear to be online. Really elegant dolls. They are mostly vinyl, have such sweet honest expressions; their dresses are quite simple but their accessory outfits are really well made and neatly packaged. I own three of these dolls, and two of the outfits, (Santa was good to me and left Kristelle's school suit and Analisa's dress under the tree) and am contemplating getting a fourth doll. They are priced at the same level as an AG doll but you can get a great price reduction when the site puts them on sale from time to time. The site is almost bare bones in design, but the delivery and service has been really good. For now, A Girl for All Time's Clementine due out in September has all my attention.

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    1. I looked up the Vanange dolls--I had never heard of them before! I love the little redhead, Analisa--she's lovely! I spent some time reading about these dolls where I could, and it seems like they don't put a lot into marketing...almost the opposite of American Girl. It's just that one website with some (as you said) not-so-great pictures of the dolls, and Amazon sells them, too. I tracked down a few real-life photos, though, and am impressed! The reviews are glowing, too, for the most part. Thank you for pointing these out to me!

      Clementine has most of my attention at the moment, too! Can't wait for her! :D

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  23. Hello! I have an idea why american girls aren't perfect. I once saw this video on how american girl dolls are made, and I am pretty sure the man in the video said that the dolls face is handmade. I know for fact that people dress them in their meet outfits and that people do their hair, but i am only 90% sure that their faces are hand crafted. Please correct me if I am wrong. Sorry if this is not correct but i think that is the reason.

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    1. You're right, the original sculpt is hand-sculpted, but then a mold is made from that and all dolls with that face are made form the mold. That's the way most doll faces are made, including Barbies, Tonner dolls, AGs, and BJDs. :)

      --Kate :)

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  24. The last few paragraphs made me cry!!!!! I love your reviews, and you definitely deserve the title "Toy Box Philosopher!"

    Another Emily

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    1. Hi Emily--thank you so much for saying that! You made my day...and you made me want to cry a little bit, too. For a good reason. :) Thank you again!

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    2. Emily, i thought it was N who made the suggestion to call her Keira

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  25. Hi Emily!
    My name is Kristen. I have read your blog for a long time; I just never have commented on any of your blogs until now. I love how thorough your blog is and how the pictures capture fine details of the toys reviewed.

    I find it really odd that the AG dolls with the medium skin tone have such as mismatch of the cloth body with the limbs and head. I have American Girl dolls made Pleasant Company dolls as well Mattel dolls and just looking at my Mattel dolls, my light skinned dolls as well as my dark-skinned Cecile do not have the same mismatch as the medium skinned dolls have. There is one of the medium skinned dolls that I like her face. I do not know her number off hand, but she has medium skin, blue eyes, and black slightly wavy hair. I do not think I would actually get her because I have seen her reviewed and she has the same extreme mismatch of cloth body to vinyl limbs and head.

    I like American Girl dolls because of their versatility in sharing clothes with other dolls. I do agree that they are not the best quality of expensive play dolls nor do they have the best faces. I do prefer the Josefina mold and love Marie-Grace because of her mold. I still find them really cute though. I am one of the AG doll collectors who does think that the Pleasant Company dolls were of better quality.

    Also, if you ever decide to get a Pleasant Company AG doll, just because a doll says "Pleasant Company" on the neck, does not make it a Pleasant Company doll. Mattel changed the facial characteristics and the body size long before they changed the label on the back of the neck. It's confusing, but I think there are some guides on eBay and other people who review AG dolls who have covered this topic.

    I think the best 18" doll line was the "A Life of Faith" doll line. They were a historical line that was made by Mission City Press and was discontinued a few years ago. Most of the girls were from the 1800's but there was also a 1930's girl. The quality in the earlier years of the production was far superior to American Girl and at the time they were being sold, was very similar in price. They are collectors items now so they can be a little pricey depending on the character. They were a Christian-based doll line, but I think any doll collector could appreciate the beauty and detail of these dolls' clothes and faces.

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    1. Hi Kristen! Thank you for your comment! I am learning so much from this post, it's wonderful! :D Reading your thoughts makes me realize how difficult it is to form an impression of a doll or a doll company by just looking at one doll. I guess this seems obvious, but I don't think I have ever been so keenly aware of it. Your comment about the body cloth color mismatching the vinyl is a good example. This is something that bothers me with Keira, but it sounds like it wouldn't even have been an issue if I'd chosen many of the other dolls. On the other hand, Keira's hair is so nice, I find it hard to imagine the hair troubles that some of the other dolls seem to have!

      Knowing the history of a doll company always adds to my interest in the dolls, too. Now I find myself very curious about the real Pleasant Company dolls. I would like to see one in side-to-side comparison with Keira. I'd also like to compare a Pleasant Company doll to an early Magic Attic doll, since these two were in direct competition in the early 90s. Anyway, I love hearing the history of a doll line and learning about how the dolls have changed over the years.

      I had not heard of the Life of Faith doll line! Thank you for mentioning them. I've been doing some web searching on these dolls to get up to speed and I think they're very cute. Some of the outfits are too frilly for my taste, but I found a few dolls and outfits that I like--Elsie Dinsmore might be my favorite. She's really lovely, and many of her outfits are gorgeous. Do you have any of these dolls?

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    2. "Never Grow Up Doll Guide" did a Mattel and Pleasant Company Felicity doll review comparison. My Mom has a Mattel Felicity and I have a Pleasant Company Felicity that I got off eBay a couple months ago that was probably made around the time I got Kirsten and Molly as a child. The differences are really significant just between two Felicity dolls!

      I actually have one of each of the five Life of Faith characters. The Christian bookstore had them clearanced shortly after they were discontinued. They also took coupons on clearance items so I got some of them for like $35! I did not like them when I saw them when the line debuted because they were too frilly. Now that appeals to me. It's weird because I have frilly Southern belle dolls like Elsie Dinsmore and then I also have Monster High and Bratzillaz dolls. Quite a contrast!

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  26. If you love the clip clop sounds, go to AG Play and play Felicity's Colonial Adventure. From Anna G.

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    1. Ok! Thank you for the tip! I do love the horse noises. :D

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  27. What you said earlier in the post, yes the white paint of the box does mark the vinyl. When I got my Lanie doll in June of 2010 from the L.A. store, there weren't any plastic coverings behind her legs, so her shins are covered in white streak marks. I love your post, it's so full of detail and I appreciated the comparison. Your doll Ling is very much like my Journey Girl doll Meredith, just a bit taller.

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  28. Awesome review, it had me captivated! Just some general comments I thought when I was reading: American Girl prides themselves in having asymmetrical faces molds, but it looks pretty weird. The neck chords are very easy to untie, which is nice for tightening the head when it comes loose-and it probably will. The body cloth color on medium skinned dolls is incredibly weird, the light skinned cloth looks much better. I wouldn't use the Aussie spray if I were you, I'd find some braid spray instead. The boots never made sense to me, they seemed too flimsy. Nicki's boots were way more high quality. The pictures were so beautiful, especially the one where Keira's eyes reflect the ocean! The "choosing process" is one of the best parts of the doll, and is one of the reason American Girl is so popular, along with the "club" feeling. And yes, when my sister and I were younger, it sure did seem like American Girl was an exclusive club with an expensive membership.

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  29. Nice review, Emily! I have 3 American Girls as well and I was very happy with them. Hope you enjoy Keira!

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  30. Hi Emily!
    Really great review and amazing pictures in the end. I don't really have much to say about Keira herself but I'd like to comment on the piece you wrote about not being able to join ''the club'' because of the price tag. I totally understand this. I was (and still am in some cases) one of those children. It's been like that ever since I can remember. I couldn't agree more with you on this subject. I wish that toy companies would lower their prices, not only American Girl but also Mattel (for example). There are so many kids whose parents simply can't afford things like this and that thought makes me sad. I'm already glad I own so many dolls but if it wasn't for the thrift store of generous people like you Emily.. my collection wouldn't be as huge as it is today.

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  31. Hi, Emily!

    It's been a while since you posted this, but I thought I'd ask. What would this blue dress look like on Lorifina? I know the AG dolls are bigger around, but I wondered if something like the blue dress, which appears to be a sheath style, would work on Lorifina. Would you mind trying it and letting me know how it looks? I'd be okay with belting the dress, if needed on Lorifina. I just wondered if some of the less tailored styles could work with her. TIA!

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  32. Hello, Emily!!

    First, I'd like to say that your blog is so awesome! I come here a lot for doll reviews and advice. I have a question on Kiera's (hope I spelled that right) skin tone. What does it look like in real life? Is it really dark or somewhat light? I am asking this because I am planning to purchase one to make a custom doll, and my custom doll's inspiration is Elaine from "Seinfeld". I'm just wondering if her skin is too dark for an Elaine doll.

    Thanks,

    Rachael

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  33. Awesome review! I currently have 6 dolls myself. (Molly,Emily,Lindsey who are all now retired and Anna clare #59, Marie grace gardner and Kaya) I think your decision on #29 was wonderful. While Rebecca is a nice doll, the curly hair is often a challenge to maintain so that was a good choice of you to get a straight haired doll. I loved this review because #29 was my closest look-a like until I discovered it was #16 (or maybe #13, I can never remember who's who) then they relesed #59, who is my closest look-a-like. Awesome review!

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  34. I heard through the grapevine that there are 'Visual dolls' that are the ones on display in AG stores. They are given to staff if they are retired/store display changes. I saw one Isabelle eBay doll with Visual written on her back go for $107 I think, and that didn't include the shipping which was around $15. That's more than a new doll- for a used doll, not in a box!!! Sorry about the language structure :-s

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  35. KEIRA.........PRETTY..........DYING.
    Your review made me want Keira more than I do. I Love that doll and am getting her in November and I hope you enjoy her.

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  36. Hello Emily, greetings from Philippines! I sooo wanna get #29! If I have her, I'll name her Rachel.

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  37. I bought my dautgther an AG doll this summer (the 55, she named her Alice). I keep saying that I mostly paid for the experience. She got hers on 5th avenue while we were visiting NYC. We are from Montréal and we don't have access to these dolls, and even the our generations are a little hard to find and still expensive (they retail for around 60$ here).

    My daugther desperatly wanted an AG doll and she was over the moon with it. We are going to Maine next october and we consider going to the Boston store for my youngest daugther, who now wants one for herself LOL!

    I found the AG doll to be very high quality, and I mostly loved the fact that it's heavy. The hair of the 55 has not been an issue yet, but my girl (who is almost 9) takes a jealous care of her doll.

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I value and welcome all opinions, but comments with abusive or offensive language will be deleted.