Friday, February 27, 2015

Miniature BeForever "Kaya" and "Rebecca" Dolls from American Girl

A week ago we went to New York City to spend some time with family.  I was really hoping to re-visit the incredible Toys R Us in Times Square or F.A.O. Schwarz while we were there...and maybe even stop in on the American Girl store to see the new Girl of The Year stuff.   For this trip, though, my crutches slowed me down a bit and so we decided to only visit American Girl, since I have never been to that particular store before.  I was curious to compare it to the impressive store in Natick, Massachusetts.

My mom, my sister, my niece and I all went to the American Girl store together, each of us approaching the outing with a different perspective.  The neat thing was that despite our different tastes, and with the huge array of dolls and accessories to look at, we all agreed about what our favorite item in the whole store was--and it wasn't at all what I expected.  It was the amazingly charming BeForever miniature doll, Kaya.

When the BeForever line first came out, I looked at all of the dolls online and decided to purchase Mini Rebecca and Mini Kit.  For some reason Kaya's catalogue pictures didn't grab my attention.  I have already reviewed Mini Kit, so in this post I will take a look at Kaya and Rebecca, and will also share some quick impressions of the Manhattan American Girl store.

American Girl BeForever Mini Kaya
American Girl's Mini Kaya, $25.
My niece is eight years old and I have always wanted to go with her to an American Girl store--mostly because she's super-fun to be with, but also because I wanted to hear her opinions about everything.  After our American Girl shopping adventure, I sat down and interviewed my observant niece about her experience.

For the first part of this review, I will trade commentary back and forth with my niece, who would like to be known here as "Miss Elizabeth."  I have a few pictures to go along with this little tour of the store, but I'll warn you that I wasn't especially good at snapping photos with my gimpy leg.  

The best picture I got is probably this one of the outside store window.  I love the elaborate kitchen display featuring the new Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas:

The first thing we did when we got to the store is go to the bookstore area, which featured a special display of Grace and her accessories.  I'll have Miss Elizabeth start things off by telling you all about that.

Miss Elizabeth: We liked that Grace was a baker, and loved all of her outfits.  We all really liked the Eiffel Tower earrings, too (especially Nana).  But the stunning thing about those was that you could only get the Eiffel Tower earrings with Grace, or if you brought in your old Grace doll--not if you had any other doll.

Eiffel Tower earrings = super-cute, but annoyingly exclusive.
Miss Elizabeth: the shocking part of Grace’s props was that they were too expensive.  One of the rooms that had many bakery items was $500 when it should have been $200.  Half of the room and everything in the room was plastic.  Only about 25% was wood and maybe 1% metal.  The cool part of the room was that there was a cute little refrigerator that actually held a box of little eggs and on the wall of the refrigerator was painted the Eiffel Tower.

Emily: I agree with Miss Elizabeth about the price of this bakery.  It is very large, but does not seem to come with a huge variety of accessories (maybe some things were missing from the display?).  I really liked playing with the sink and the oven, though.  The little power knob actually clicks and turns, and all of the doors open.  When I was a kid, I thought it was fun to build stores or houses for my dolls out of pillows and boxes.  It would be nice if some of these bakery items (like the sink, refrigerator and display counter) could be purchased separately for those who don't need, don't have room for, or can't afford the entire bakery building.  

I took a few close-ups of some of the bakery treats.  I was not incredibly impressed with these.  They don't have a lot of detail for their size, and some of the scaling is way off:

Those cookies stay in one tall stack.
The cake and tart are only slightly bigger than Grace's hand.
Huge raspberries!
Emily: I like Grace's Pastry Cart better than the bakery.  Not only is the price more accessible ($150), and the size more manageable, but it's a really attractive set that makes me think of all kinds of fun store games that could be played.  I still like the Campus Snack Cart better (also $150) but this set is nice:

That doesn't mean I'd pay $150 for it, though.
I also like Grace's Opening Night outfit that is on display with the Pastry Cart:

Emily: I came to the store thinking I might purchase Grace.  I do appreciate that she has a less common face mold (the same as Rebecca and Josefina), and her coloring is wonderful (l love the dark hair/blue eye combination--with freckles!) but I wasn't wild about her bangs and she didn't seem that different from many of the other dolls.  In fact, she reminds me a lot of a photo I took of My American Girl #55 in Boston.  It might just be the beret-style hat, though:

My American Girl #55
From the Boston store in 2013.
The other doll I wanted to see in person was the new My American Girl #61.  She has bright red hair and green eyes.  Here are some very yellow pictures of her:

The Easter egg set shown here looks nice (the eggs aren't removable, though) but the birthday set seems very sparse.

Miss Elizabeth: After discussion, we came up with the answer that redhead #61 was altogether a better doll than Grace, the Girl of the Year.  Our reasons were that #61 is the first true redhead (no tinted blonde) to be produced by American Girl.  I also thought that Grace’s face was not as good as the traditional face of Redhead #61.  The disadvantage was that #61 had green eyes that were unrealistic had a mossy look to them.

Emily: Elizabeth is right.  The new redhead is great, but the color of her eyes is a little strange, and she doesn't have any freckles.  I wish she had freckles like Grace.  I didn't end up buying the redhead, either.

I was seriously tempted by this set, though, given the circumstances...

Those crutches look very realistic, and the leg cast is just like mine (except mine is black).
Miss Elizabeth: When we were wandering over to the My American Girl section, we saw a picture that had a cute little hamster cage accessory.  Aunt Em really wanted to buy that cage!  The unfair part was that you could only get the cage in a picture and you couldn’t get it as a real prop.

Classroom cardboard backdrop with hamster accessory that should be for sale.
Miss Elizabeth: while we were sightseeing American Girl dolls, we also spotted horses.  The horses were amazing, but the thing that was bad about them was that they seemed to be wearing skin suits and not real skin.  There was one stable and horse section where we saw an adorable foal (spotted) this was the only horse that looked both realistic and cute at the same time.  The disappointing part was that there was no box or price of the colt anywhere. So, if the colt had any accessories, you wouldn’t know what they were or where to find them in the store.  We guessed that the horse would be $75 or $65, but later we found out that it was $48. 

One of the fun parts was that they had a gymnast on a bar and you could actually twirl her around (which we did...a lot).

(My niece is an outstanding gymnast).
Emily:  One thing I noticed during this visit was that the eye colors--particularly the greens--were not as realistic as I remember.  As Elizabeth noted, My American Girl #61's eyes were a funny green with no iris detail, and the only other two greens I saw were this sort-of yellow-green:

And Caroline's eyes which are paler, but have the same odd jungle-stripe pattern as the doll above:

Miss Elizabeth: There were four floors in the store, one was a middle floor.  We thought we were going to the second floor, but it was actually just the restrooms!  We made a big joke about that. When we finally found our way to the second floor, we were drawn to some mini American Girl dolls, especially Kaya and Addy.  The thing I liked about Kaya was that she has an awesome little leather dress with strips hanging down that seemed to flutter whenever you move her.  The fascinating part was that there were pearl-like buttons that were attached to hair elastics to make braid pigtails.  In my opinion, the best part of Addy was her hair that was done up in an elegant braided mass of buns.  When I finally chose Kaya over Addy, it was because of the cute leather dress and the awesome boots, and because of her really soft hair that we later found out was in two shades of brown, and especially because of the little beads that she has on her dress.  Kaya has no accessories that go with her in her box (except for the book).  We later purchased the full copy of BeForever Kaya (Volumes 1-3).

Emily: We all liked the full-sized Kaya, too (and her horse--and her clothing collection for real girls), but there was just something special about Mini Kaya's face that made her irresistible.  I don't think I would have even looked that closely at Mini Kaya if it weren't for my mom and my niece.  They gravitated towards her right away.

Kaya even has one of the uber-cute foals--Sparks Flying!  
Miss Elizabeth: When we came over to the salon part of the American Girl store, we were fascinated by how fast and how many people were busily working on many dolls.  Many of them were curling the doll’s hair or braiding them.  Some were putting the hair into two ponytails.  Some people were making buns.

When we compared the Boston American Girl to the New York City American Girl, we decided that the Boston one was altogether better because there were more things that you could play with.  Most things at the American Girl store in New York were behind cases that you could not touch.

Emily:  Yep.  I agree.  The Natick store outside Boston was more spacious, had far more items available to inspect up close, and seemed to have a larger stock.  I can't be sure about the stock, though, because the layout of the two stores was so different.  Still, it was really fun to finally see the store in New York--especially with such great company.  Elizabeth and I each left with a Mini Kaya.

My niece's Kaya came right out of her box and accompanied us on the rest of our New York adventures--including a late-night trip to the amazing Birdland jazz club.  

Kaya at Birdland.
I'd like to say a big thank-you to my niece, not just for coming with me to the American Girl store, but for all of the time she took afterwards to tell me her opinions and help me write this review!  You are the best, kiddo. 

My Kaya had to wait until we got back to Maine to get out of her box.  Kaya's box is just like BeForever Mini Kit's box.  

Here's the little face that won us over, peeking out of the window on the front of the box:

Kaya's box is held closed with two tape circles, but the doll is not tied down inside the box at all.  She is wonderfully easy to get out.  The tiny book is held in place at the bottom of the box with a small plastic shell.

These new mini books are so small, it's a real strain to read them.  And there are no pictures.  I did manage to squint my way through this one, but I got my niece the full-sized version, which she read in one afternoon (skimming some of the pages, I think) and seemed to enjoy.

I found the story quite interesting--especially the pieces of information about Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) culture.  The description of how all of the kids are punished (by "Whipwoman!" Yikes.) when one of them misbehaves was especially fascinating to me, as was the ceremony of the courtship dance.  This is an abridged version of the story, though, and it cuts off at the worst possible cliffhanger!  What happens to poor Speaking Rain?!

I really like the name "Kaya," but I found it strange at first that the other characters in the book have descriptive names (like Brown Deer, Speaking Rain, Wing Feather and Cut Cheek) while Kaya has a very modern name.  

A little online reading taught me that Kaya is actually a nickname for Kaya'aton'my, which means "one who arranges rocks" in Nez Perce.  I spent a certain amount of time arranging rocks when I was a kid (especially white ones...), and my niece has a keen eye for collecting rocks now, so I find this name especially poignant.  

Having the nickname Kaya is unrealistic for 1764, but it makes a lot of sense for modern day marketing.

Here's the Kaya doll on her own:

American Girl BeForever Mini Kaya

Kaya's balance is pretty good, but the leather shoes have soft soles that make her more prone to tipping over than some of the other new American Girl minis.

I just love this doll's face.  The closed-mouth face mold is limited to this doll alone (the Nez Perce people did not smile in public).  It is the only closed-mouth face available in the entire American Girl line.  Not everyone is fond of the visible teeth on most American Girl dolls, so it would be great to see Kaya's face on some other characters.  

To me, the mini version of the face is even cuter than the full-sized version:

Kaya has brown painted eyes and a very subtle smile on her face:

American Girl BeForever Mini Kaya

Kaya's eyebrows are mostly painted as one spiky line, but there are two individual hairs drawn at the inside edges:

These are different from Kit and Rebecca's eyebrows.
The eyes have two shades of brown in the iris--a mocha brown around the edges and a lighter crescent under the pupil.  My doll's left eye has three areas of smudged paint.  These are hard to see at normal magnification.

Kaya's long, two-toned brown hair is tied into pigtails.  The top of each pigtail is secured with a black rubber band and decorated with a pearlescent white button.  The button is sewn into the hair.  The ends of the pigtails are tied with more black bands and decorated with small strips of leather:

Kaya's pigtails feel wonderfully silky and smooth.  The ends of the braids are very flat and abrupt (you couldn't get real hair to do this unless you cut it after you braided it...), so my niece and I almost immediately started to chat about taking the hair down and re-braiding it to make it look more natural.  I'll save that project for the end of the review, though.

Kaya's outfit is really nice.  It is a long imitation suede dress with decorative leather fringe and some modest beaded detail.

The waist of the dress is accented with a dark brown imitation leather belt that closes in the back with velcro.

The beads along the neckline of the dress are arranged in a zig-zag pattern.  The white beads are not all individually sewn to the dress, though, but are threaded onto a string that is tacked to the dress with a few stitches.

The four blue beads at the bottom of the dress are each sewn into the top of a leather strip:

The movement of the leather strip fringes on this style of dress is described very nicely in Kaya's book.  During a scene where the young adults in the tribe are performing a courtship dance, it says, the long fringes on the girls' dresses rippled and swung as the girls moved.  And then later, [Brown Deer] held her head high and looked straight ahead.  She made the fringe on her dress snap with each graceful step.

The fringes on Kaya's dress look great, but they are too thick and short to have the kind of fluid movement that is described in the book.  For example, they stick out pretty straight when Kaya lifts her arms:

Here's the imitation leather belt up close:

With the belt removed, the dress can be unfastened down its single velcro seam:

The dress is quite stiff, but it really looks and feels like it is made out of leather:

Even the inside texture of the dress had me fooled that this was actual suede:

In reality, this dress (and the full-sized Kaya's dress) are made out of "faux deerskin." It is very soft and very convincing--although it can look a bit like felt in some of these photographs.

Here's a close-up of the fringe and beadwork on the front of the dress:

Like all of the BeForever miniature dolls, Kaya has an all-vinyl body with five simple points of articulation:

Kaya isn't wearing any undergarments, but has imitation leather shoes that are tied in place on her feet.

I untied one of these moccasins to see how easy it would be to get back on again:

The shoe has a velcro seam in back that makes it easy to get off:

Those ties are really long!

But it was pretty easy to re-wrap the ties and get them fastened again.

Here's Kaya back in her full outfit:

American Girl BeForever Mini Kaya

Kaya's beloved horse, Steps High, plays a large role in her story.  Because of this, I wanted to see if I could find a horse for Mini Kaya to ride.  I tried my 10" black Paradise horse first, because her color is the most similar to Kaya's horse in the book:

She's a little too big for Kaya.
Next I tried a Breyer horse, who is completely the wrong color to be Steps High (and doesn't look at all skittish...) but is much more in scale with the doll:

Kaya and Barely Lifts Feet.

Here are a few more pictures of sweet Kaya:

American Girl BeForever Mini Kaya

Now, I am going to very quickly take a look at the BeForever Mini Rebecca doll that I bought back in September:

Back then, I chose BeForever Mini Rebecca because I had already reviewed the original Rebecca mini doll, and because I bought the full-sized BeForever Rebecca, too.  In the end, I gave the larger doll to my niece, and then forgot about reviewing poor Mini Rebecca!  I figured this might be her best chance.

This doll also comes with a tiny, unillustrated paperback book:

One of my biggest criticisms of the older version of Rebecca was that her hair was coarse and hard to manage.  This doll's hair looks pretty unruly right out of the box, but it actually feels really nice.

The hair is quite long and is styled with large curls at the ends.  It feels very soft and silky.

This doll has a different face mold from BeForever Mini Kit...

...although I find Rebecca and Kit's face molds hard to tell apart:

And I prefer Kaya's face to both of the others!

Mini Rebecca has dark green eyes with some lined iris detail:

Her ginger eyebrows are drawn as nine separate lines:

This doll has an open-mouthed smile with two white painted teeth:

Rebecca's hair is held away from her face with a single working plastic barrette:

I took Rebecca's barrette out and brushed her hair.  The curls are too large for the size of this doll, but the hair brushes nicely and feels great:

I prefer this doll's hair when it is pulled back into a simple ponytail:

BeForever Mini Rebecca.
Here's a quick comparison between the older Mini Rebecca and the BeForever version:

Cloth-bodied version of Mini Rebecca.
I think the new doll has better eye paint and hair.  I prefer the older doll's mouth shape and eyebrow design, though.  Overall, I think the new doll's face is much cuter.

BeForever Rebecca is wearing a new outfit: a purple skirt and belted jacket that are sewn together as one piece.

The outfit is easy to get off, thanks to a long velcro seam in back:

The dress has thickly woven plaid fabric on the top and a coordinated tweedy pleated skirt:

The top is accented with sewn (decorative) buttons, a velvet ribbon belt, and white cuffs and collar.

The quality and construction of this garment are very similar to that of the older Mini Rebecca's dress:

I slightly prefer the red dress, mostly because of the color choice, but I also like the style a bit better, too--it's not as bulky.

Unlike Kaya, BeForever Mini Rebecca is wearing underpants and tights under her dress:

She's wearing plain purple vinyl shoes that are not as interesting as the older Mini Rebecca's imitation leather spats, but are easier to use and better for balance:

Pre-2014 Rebecca's spats.
BeForever Rebecca has an all-vinyl body with five points of articulation:

Rebecca and Kit have the same skin tone, but Kaya is darker:

I had a bit of a hard time getting Rebecca's purple dress back on.  The tights and underwear are so bulky that I couldn't get the velcro seam in the back of the dress to close completely:

I ended up just removing the underpants/bloomers.  With just the tights in place, the dress is easy to get on.

Here are all three of my BeForever mini dolls together:

Kaya is my hands-down favorite of the three.  I love her beaded dress, her silky hair, and her adorable closed-mouth face.  She'a a lovely little doll.  I am not wild about either of the other girls' clothes, but I slightly prefer Kit because of her manageable hair, freckles, and the bright colors and red highlights in her outfit.

BeForever mini dolls: Kit, Kaya and Rebecca.
At this point, I wanted to take Kaya's braids out to see what the hair looked and felt like when it was down.  I knew I would not be able to get the white buttons back in place unless I re-sewed them, but I decided to go for it anyway.  Here's everything that was in her hair:

With the braids newly released, the hair is kinked and wavy, with a very stubborn midline part down the back:

Brushing alone didn't help much with the waviness or with the big gap in the back:

A quick dip in hot water straightened out the waves instantly, though, and Kaya's hair dried to be very straight and smooth:

The ends are a little uneven since the hair was cut in its braided style. This would be easy to trim.

I think Kaya looks great with braids, but I might like her even more with her hair down.  The hair is very soft, long and fun to play with.

I had a hard time getting Kaya's hair into a good variety of new styles.  I tried a single braid in back, but the braid was too thick.  I also tried just pulling the sides of Kaya's hair back away from her face, and this worked better:

I bet that in the care of someone with delicate hands and a lot of patience, this doll could have some great hairstyles.  I think she'd look particularly nice with a lot of small, thin braids down the sides of her face.

Like other American Girl mini dolls, Kaya can wear Our Generation mini doll clothes:

She'd also be able to wear Collector's Lane Kids' clothing and other American Girl mini outfits.

I like how she looks in Kit's brightly colored dress and red barrette:

I managed to re-braid Kaya's hair, but it's not quite as smooth and neat-looking as it was right out of the box.  The ends of the pigtails definitely look more realistic now, though.  Here's one last picture of Kaya with her new horse friend:

Bottom line?  I have already offered a bunch of opinions about the changes to the American Girl mini dolls that came with the advent of the BeForever line.  In general, I think the bodies and clothes are not as good as they used to be, but the hair and faces are an improvement.  I don't own the older version of Kaya, nor have I ever seen her in real life, but it's hard to imagine liking another version of this doll any more than I like the one I have.  In fact, of all the dolls I have ever seen at American Girl, Kaya is the first one that I've liked unequivocally from head to toe.  She has a sweet face mold, nice face paint, wonderful hair and a unique, well-made outfit.  The only thing I'd consider changing would be the all-vinyl body.  It's not that I actively dislike the new body style, I just think that the older cloth-torso bodies were something truly special.

Beyond just appreciating the Kaya mini doll, I find myself pretty curious about this character's world, wanting to read (or skim) the rest of the books in the series and look more closely at the outfits and accessories.  I admire Kaya's bold, headstrong approach to life, and can relate to the special connection she feels with her horse.  I also really enjoy getting a glimpse into the realities of an 18th century Native American tribe, and hope that the historical details in the book are accurate--they are certainly interesting.  

I have often heard that a major factor in the appeal of the American Girl experience is the historical characters: girls from different time periods with realistic stories that make the dolls and accessories come alive.  It's possible for kids to find a particular doll with a story or personality that really resonates with them--sometimes even promoting fierce loyalty to that character.  She becomes their American Girl.  I have only experienced glimmers of this phenomenon in the past--enough to make me believe it's possible, but not enough to feel the pull towards any single character myself.  After meeting Kaya through her mini doll version and the excerpt from her book, I can honestly say that I might finally get it.  Who is my American Girl?  Easy: it's the feisty, horse-loving rock-arranger, Kaya'aton'my.


  1. I'm traveling New York sometimes in late March, hopefully we can stop by the American Girl store there as well! I've been torn between getting #61 or Grace, but after seeing your review on the mini dolls, I might change my mind too haha!

  2. Awesome review! Kaya is by far my favorite mini doll as well and I never would've thought to boil dip her hair, but I really like the effect! It's great to see their little faces next to each other as a comparison. I especially loved your closing paragraph! My daughter is just now becoming interested in Amercan Girl dolls and we've been taking the books out at the library and having fun reading them together...right now we're on Samantha! It's pretty cool how certain characters really do click with different people. High five to you for navigating NYC on crutches! It was nice to hear Miss Elizabeth's opinions as it's cool to view the AG hoopla through the eyes of their target audience. :)

  3. Great review. I always enjoy seeing in-store photos, and sharing your niece's thoughts was a fun touch!

    I also appreciated seeing Kaya in Kit's dress (and the OG outfit), as I've always been too distracted by the disproportionately thick tassels on her outfit to realize what a cute doll she is on her own. I've been tempted to pick her up just to compare the new minis to the old, but the uneven scale of the dress design has been the one thing holding me back. And I think you may have gotten me past that!

  4. Great review!
    It´s true that you have to find a certain "hitch" for getting hooked on YOUR AG. For me, it´s always been Kit because we both love writing.
    And I never understood they hype about Disney princesses till Belle came out: a dark-haired girl who loves reading, even while walking, while the village people stare at her and gossip - that´s me! :-)

  5. So many comments! So first, we recently traversed to the DC store having only been to NYC several times. We preferred DC even with less storefront for the atmosphere alone. NYC is pushy/shovy crowded half the time we're there & not everyone is respectfu . DC is in a mall with some other great stuff. But we did get 61! Her eyes are a lot like mine which are a brown hazel (I have brown around the edges but that moss green in the middle). We felt they were more realistic than previous AG greens. And I do have both the anniversary and cloth body minis of Kaya. I'm not planning on getting the BF mini . I prefer the older ones. I think the "standard" face on the BF minis looks buck teethed and dopey. Kaya looked great with her hair down in your photos but she is smiling just a little and that's not Kaya to me. Lastly, my old Rebecca mini's hair feels downy to me. The hair quality on all the old minis was kinda of like...really? I'm glad to hear that's improved.

    Thanks for another great post!

  6. Though I'm not a fan of AG, I'm pleased to say that I have both of Kaya's horses, Steps High and Sparks Flying, in the (small) horse collection I got for my Sasha dolls to ride. Sashas are a far better size for these horses imo, as they are 16" high not 18". Of course, the foal is too young to be ridden - but my Makie doll, who is very small and light, does get a turn on him sometimes. - Jocelyn

  7. What a sweet face. :) For some reason, to me it looks more genuine than the open mouthed grin. By the way, please read my comment from the last post, I took a long time writing it. Also, I hope your leg gets better soon!

  8. She's such a cute little thing, I really like her! I would love to get a couple of these minis as dolls for my bigger dolls. Maybe one of these days I will do just that, but for the moment I'm having enough problems with Spanish customs as it is, I daren't buy anything else from the US and risk more taxes, my husband will divorce me for sure! ;)
    Hugs Sharon in Spain x

    1. Would you have the high taxes from the UK? The Book Depository carries these dolls with worldwide free shipping.

    2. That's really interesting Dawn. I'm going to look into that.

  9. Kaya is adorable! I wish AG would add more stuff to Kaya's collection! I loved her books, the story is excellent! My American Girl is Addy. She was my first and my favourite. I love her story and I love her collection. Her mini doll's hair is amazing! I have been meaning to get one! The little dolls are great! They fit in regular dollhouse settings, which as an avid dollhouse collector, I adore!!!

  10. Thanks for the great review! I've been very hesitant to buy any of the new mini dolls because I'm not sure how I feel about most of their face molds - Caroline's the only one who really has appealed to me from the pictures I'd seen until now. While I'm still a little unsure about Rebecca (which is disappointing because I love Rebecca!), Kaya looks very cute, and I'd love to compare her to the tiny Kaya I got years ago. I think her eyes look less buggy than the older version.

    You're definitely right about the stores - the New York store is way, way more cramped than the Boston store, and having been to both frequently, I can say they both have the same stuff available for the Girl of the Year and the BeForever characters stock wise, but I think New York has more modern stuff and Boston can have a little bit less depending on what's currently available.

    Also, I'm not sure if this is still in the revamped BeForever books, but the original format Meet Kaya book (and I think at the beginning of the others), there's a note at the beginning explaining her name/nickname at the beginning of the book, and a glossary in the back of the Nimíipuu words used in her books! I'm pretty sure the explanation is that they wanted to give her an authentic name but shorten it a little to make it more approachable to modern kids. Again, not sure if that's still there with revamp because I haven't looked at Kaya's revised books, but her series is definitely one of the best and definitely worth a read if you've got a spare hour or so to thumb through the full sized book.

  11. She's adorable!

    I would be tremendously tempted to keep Kaya in modern clothes, with her meet dress as what she wears for important events and ceremonies -- which of course doesn't match her official bio but is consistent with how modern Native American girls live here in Arizona (though the traditional dresses are, of course, different in this region).

    In Kit's dress, Kaya reminds me so much of old photos of students at Steele Indian School, which is its own troubled history -- a Kaya of that period would probably be one of the girls who agitated to get proper science training so she could become a nurse.

  12. I really do miss collecting American Girl dolls. I was such a fan as a girl. I gave away most of the clothes but couldn’t sell my dolls. Maybe one day I will have a daughter. Adult American Girl communities seem very unpleasant online. If they aren’t attacking what others collect, they are calling other collectors racists or insulting their religion. And what fans say about other fans’s crafting and such is vicious. Whole threads devoted to mocking others. It soured me on a really nice doll line.

    I’m really tempted to get back into 18ish doll collecting from reading this blog. But there are just too many disgusting adults accepted as normal parts of that community. It’s an attitude I don’t see anywhere else in the doll collecting world. It’s really strange. I really don’t understand why there’s so much anger, hatred and vitrol around American Girl. Seems very against what the company stands for.

    I’m almost tempted to get that mini kaya. She has beautiful eyes I wonder what she would look like next to an Ever After High Doll or a lottie?

    1. Please define "disgusting adults." I am genuinely curious.

      - Elewys

    2. Every group has a bad apple or two. But it seems something poisonous has become a part of the American Girl collector world. Rejection based on religious beliefs or accusing other collectors of being racist or sexist are common. It's not isolated.

      But one striking example would be that last year, a group of women joined together to openly and viciously mock a girl for wetting the bed (and her doll) when her mother went online looking for help on how to clean it. That is just beyond vile. There were some screenshots going around but I didn’t save any.

    3. @BallJointedDiva:

      First off, you are incorrect in assuming that only women are part of the American Girl fandom. In fact, that's a rather patriarchal assumption...(I'm assuming that you're upset about us calling out sexism because you don't like having your own internalized misogyny called out...?) Anyway, the board in question has a number of male and non-binary folks as well as women. There are numerous teenagers in addition.

      That aside, the child wasn't being mocked. Rather, the decision of the adult to purchase a $115+ doll for a very young child was what was being made fun of. And apart from that - if that is your definition of vicious, you have never been inside a public school, or a YouTube comments section, or American Girl's own Facebook page! In fact, the board that you're talking about is not nearly as vile as another, which routinely hosts extremely racist statements (yes, we are calling out actual racism – which turns out to be everywhere, the American Girl fandom being no exception! – not just "accusing" of it).

      I'd also like to point around that said board does not discriminate based on religious beliefs. While there are some specific members that have negative histories with Christianity that they freely mention, Christian members are free to defend their faith! We are a multicultural board, and our religious demographics represent that: we have people that are Christian, Pagan, Jewish, agnostic and atheist, spiritual, and I'm sure other affiliations as well. A potential member has NEVER been denied access simply based on religion. Members HAVE been banned for using religion as an excuse to be offensive and hurtful, but that's a completely different situation.

      One final note - said board does have a lot of griping, but much of that originates from the fact that we tend to be the misfits and outsiders, either because of our beliefs, genders, races, sexualities, religions...we've been, in many cases, isolated from other areas of the fandom, and we *can* be bitter. Such is natural, after all. But we've also come together as a community in amazing ways. For example, after a girl was viciously (and yes, I'm using viciously here, because *adults* took to the AG FB to insult her Our Generation doll to her face, which was pretty classist of them) mocked on Facebook, we pulled together to get her and her younger sister American Girl dolls as well as plenty of goodies for both. We're also helping Roma children in Europe get dolls and accessories that represent them (a notoriously underrepresented and un-cared about group).

      So the next time you take to a comments section to complain about us...remember that nothing is just black and white. We have our faults, but we are not all bad. We do amazing things.

      Have a nice day!

      (Oh: PS - it sounds like American Girl Playthings might be a better fit for you. If you're interested in getting into the collecting sphere, that might be worth checking out! The AG Dollhouse is also a good option.)

    4. @Val ... Sorry for the assumption about your group being all women. [insert jokey insult here] Are you admitting you trolled a mother and daughter? Is that ok, if you also call out sexism? What kind of sexism are you calling out? The paternalistic and problematic act of strangers policing, judging and mocking every choice mothers make? Was this mother asking for it because she went online and had the temerity to disagree with your group about what toy her daughter should have?

      Pot meet Kettle. Kettle meet Pot! Have fun smashing the patriarchy! (Or are you really helping to build it back up?)

      I have to admit, I heard something about the off-brand doll and assumed it was the same people. My point was not to attack one person or group. And I am assuming you haven’t named your group because you don’t want Facebook to shut it down (You know harassment of others is a violation of Facebook’s policies right?) My point was to give one example (as requested) of how the American Girl collector world operates and is poisoned as a whole. And you gave a nifty rundown of a culture of racism, sexism, trolling and lack of respect for others in so many ways the mind boggles. Thanks for that. You proved my point perfectly. And I wonder how people are not soured on the doll itself!

      And sorry for assuming it was the same group as yours. But now, I’m confused. Why has your group appointed itself the online arbiters of who should or should not have American Girl dolls? Or who is deserving of mockery and who needs to be protected? I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this contrast …

      Nothing wrong with generosity or kindness. But it is a strange response to send high status items to those who bullied for not having them. Were their Battat dolls not good enough? Were they not given with love from people who actually know these girls? Can’t they play with that cheaper doll just as they would an American Girl doll? But of course you know better. That seems to be an ongoing theme here. Selective empathy I guess…

    5. ...Hi, I'm another person from the same place, and I'd like to make a statement on your last paragraph that we had the utmost concern that her and her sister NOT stop playing with OG girls (and we were saddened to hear from the mother that the girl had actually shied away from the OG after the FB teasing). The girls, from what we've heard from her mother, play with all the dolls together, and I think that's really fantastic; I'm sorry if you don't.

      I'm actually curious as to where you think our group is, since I'm not sure we're talking about the same group here after this last comment... 0_o

      And out of curiosity, what do you think about places like Playthings or Dollhouse, which, from my observation, seem to contain a bigger "chunk" of the AG fandom community?

      Also, can you please either rephrase or cite the entirety of your third paragraph (preferably with links, but then, OTOH, I don't want to hijack the comments any more than they already are with this thread)? I'm finding it both really hard to follow and to grasp, since I don't see what you're talking about in it.

      As for "who should and who shouldn't", I say if a person is over 8 (or close to 8 and/or responsible (responsibility is a big factor)), go nuts. AG sets a limit (a limit that I don't disagree with) not because small kids don't deserve to have their own dolls they can hug, love, throw, and yes, even pee on, but because some toys are less/not appropriate for small children (and IMO, the "sting" of damaging a doll that expensive is something I wouldn't be able to reconcile if I gave one to a small child). (IIRC, I didn't take part in that bedwetting convo, but I do remember seeing it and this is the basic sentiment I have on the subject.)

    6. BDJ, why the f@ck did you decide to trash talk AGC here of all places? This is one of the nicest reviews for an AG mini I've ever seen. Just why is it so important to slam a whole community it doesn't sven sound like you're a part of anyway?

    7. Some AG collector forums can be pretty nasty, but AGPT is pretty nice. They're good at actively policing the nastier talk, and IIRC, swearing isn't allowed at all in most areas--which helps cut down on the vitriol, since it can be harder to be cruel without certain nasty words.

      I haven't bought anything for AGs in a long time, though, so I haven't been on AGPT in a couple years.

  13. Honestly kind of bummed you didnt get #61. When I saw her pic i got way too excited xD (#61 is the doll I want to get next btw). That kaya mini is pretty cute too though ;)

    ~Dynamo Dolls

    1. My first thought when I saw that lovely red hair was, "Finally--a good hair match for pre-Mattel Felicity's hair!" My dear Lissie has such pretty copper hair, but I wasn't as good about hair care in 1992, so it's all frizzy, and repeated Downy Dunks have only made it look nicer without actually feeling right. (It was matted before. I consider the fact that I've gotten it to lie mostly-neat a minor miracle!)

      It just seems that ever since Mattel bought the AG brand in 1998, the redheads have been more auburn-brown or strawberry-blonde, not true redheads. Looks like #61 is bringing it back!

  14. The Kaya min-doll is really cute. I actually never noticed that she didn't have visible teeth until you mentioned it. If you are interested in critical reviews of the Kaya books, there is an excellent piece on Debbie Reeses site American Indians In Children's Lit where she has reprinted (with permission) a review from Broken Flute which was a collection of reviews of childrens lit with Native characters/themes.

    She also have some interesting observations about visiting an AG store in Chicago. I have been to that store and to this day I find the AG stores a little strange. I think your observations a while ago about the "club" aspect of the AG culture really true.

    As always, I really enjoy your posts. :)

  15. Kaya'aton'my is my favorite of the historical dolls. When she was introduced I was thrilled an hoped to get her. In 2009, I got her and Kirsten as gifts, but Kaya is my favorite. I read an article from a Native American about being asked to provide expectant parents with names they could use for their child. He said that Kaya'aton'my was an accurate name for her character; and like you noted that she would not shorten her name, but understood the marketing.

    The only problem I have with AG's depiction of Kaya has nothing to do with the doll, but the book cover illustrations. Even before BeForever there was a cover that shows Kaya smiling broadly - showing her teeth. She wouldn't do that.

    Your pictures of mini Kaya are wonderful. I wasn't thrilled with the old version or the new from the catalog, but I like her a lot more now. The new one looks different enough from regular large Kaya that I may get her so that my Kaya has an heirloom doll and a modern "Just Like Me" or MyAG.

    Thank you for the great review.

  16. the new minis are definitely a lot better than the old ones. also the new full sized Kaya is a gorgeous doll. I do find it slightly off putting that all of her friends have names like Speaking Rain and she is just Kaya. Like all other names are translaed in English and hers isnt there is smth illogical about it. still she has a beautiful story and if I were you Id buy her, her accessories and books. plus Kaya looks anmazing in modern clothes and I also prefer her without the braids.


  17. These little dolls are super cute. I have never seen an AG doll in person and I am so curious about them. If I ever get back to NY then that store will be top of my list. It looks like so much fun, although the prices are ridiculous.

  18. Love the Kaya books; especially book 2! Now we have an AG store here in Orlando(!) and I've got to run check out the minis. Not usually a fan except for the Takara line, completely adorable--Licca's little sisters and their chums, however, I saw a new Kelly doll with red hair and a cat face that I have been so tempted to buy. Not usually a fan of these, either. But minis sure do take up less space, and Kaya and Rebecca are 100% cute! Shall I expand my minis. . .?

    1. Go for it! The standard 18" dolls run over $100 nowadays, but the minis are a lot more affordable if you're on a budget. The mini versions of the books tend to include a chapter or 2 of the real thing, and are just the right size for an 18" doll to "read."

      I've actually tried several times to find some of the mini-sized AG books on eBay. A lot of people are like me, I guess, and want to hold on to doll-sized books!

  19. On the hamster cage you mentioned - I think I recognize it from McKenna's bedroom set. It only came with the bed, though, or I would've bought it. You might want to try eBay.

  20. Thanks for such an in-depth review! I have an older (2000-2002) full-size Kaya, and seeing her mini-version was a real treat. :)

    On the subject of which historical people identify with, I'd have to say Felicity. (The doll is retired, but her books are still available, and the doll herself appears on eBay from time to time, both full-sized and mini.) We're both independent-minded, and both of us resented our mothers telling us to be more feminine all the time. (I played with my brother's toys a lot more often than with mine at that age, except for my Felicity doll--she's still a favorite friend.)

  21. Great review!! I especially liked seeing your pictures of the store.

    P.S. Felicity (released in 1991) was also a redhead, but I'm not sure she counts since she's retired...

  22. The hampered cage came with McKenna goty 2012's loft bed

  23. You said #61 was the first 'true redhead'. Actually, an acquaintance of mine has Felicity, and she has VERY red hair.