Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Tale of Two Shannons--a Guest Review!

Hi, I'm the artist formerly known as Lurkins!  I've been collecting 18" dolls since I cleaned out my attic in 2014 and rediscovered my American Girl doll, Felicity, and her spectacular Pleasant Company-era accessories.  That was also when, whilst looking up the impressive variety of 18" dolls that had sprung up in the intervening decades, I discovered the Toy Box Philosopher, and I've been an addict ever since.  My Felicity is so old that if she were a human she could rent a car.  She's since been joined by Pita, a Karito Kid; Taryn and Alexi, Maplelea girls; Zoe, a Newberry doll; Raven, a Maru and Friends special edition (and a gift); Clara, the exact Gotz Happy Kid featured on this blog back in 2018; Sabrina, a My Twinn who was featured here as well; several Our Generation dolls and a whole host of Journey Girls...and it's still growing.  A collection that once fit into two boxes can now barely fit into one room.  But I guess that's how doll collecting usually works!  (The author laughs nervously.)

Today I'm going to compare a pair of deluxe camping-themed 18" Shannon dolls from Battat's Our Generation line, but before I dive into things, I'm going to give a little background information on a subject I spent way too much time researching: face molds!  There doesn't seem to be a proper face mold guide, probably since Our Generation is considered a bargain alternative to American Girl, and thus not worthy of serious collecting.  If you want to know what American Girl doll has what face mold, you'll have no trouble looking it up.  But so far as I can discern, there's no "collectors' guide" for Our Generation.  In fact, most of what I know about the history of this toy brand arose from this very blog.  

We begin!

Our Generation's Old Shannon (left) and New Shannon (right) with shirts swapped. $34.99 each.

Our Generation recently - starting in about 2018 - began using a new default face mold.  This mold, which I'll call the New Standard, has gradually replaced dolls with other face molds, including the mold that's been the default face for at least a decade (which I'll call the Old Standard).

The Old Standard face mold (Retro doll, Joy).
The New Standard face mold (OG promotional image).
Prior to the Old Standard mold, OG's default face mold was the same as the default face from the Collector's Lane dolls, the brand which preceded Our Generation (Emily reviewed the Collector's Lane mini dolls a while back, and that's where I learned the brand had even existed.)  

Here's a Collector's Lane face:

Photo courtesy of Maura's Collectibles on Etsy.
For a brief period around 2017, OG came out with several new face molds, which were more diverse and unique, including the Suyin face that you've seen on this blog before:

The Suyin face mold.
The Dedra/Denelle face (used for Black dolls):

The Dedra/Denelle face (from the OG website).
The double name is because as far as I know this face was first used for a set of twins.

[this is Emily interrupting to say I think Neveah has the Dedra/Denelle face, too.]

Another Dedra/Denelle face.
There's also the Melina face (used to represent a variety of ethnicities):
 
The Melina face (from the OG website).
This was around the time that OG introduced boy dolls to their lineup. OG boys all seem to use the same face mold:

Tyler.
OG also frequently used the Vanessa face mold for their Black dolls; this mold was a legacy from Collector's Lane, where the Vanessa dolls had a unique mold from the other characters.
 
Vanessa face (taken from Collector's Lane box art).
[it's Emily interrupting again to say that Nahla is a good example of this face on a more recent doll]:

The Vanessa face.
Some of these faces have slight variants, too, which makes it hard to come up with a solid face mold count.  For example, May Lee and Alejandra are variants of the Old Standard face:

May Lee with her mini me.
Alejandra with her toothy grin.
And there are open-mouthed variants of the New Standard face (to accommodate braces):

Open-mouthed Camilla.
I found the many new faces appealing when they were introduced, and wanted to collect them all.  However, most of the molds have apparently been discontinued (?) in favor of the New Standard.  I actually emailed Battat to ask about this, and the response was: 

"There are 2 different face molds for all of the Our Generation dolls. There is the original face mold [the Old Standard] and the newer face mold [the New Standard] that was introduced in late 2020/early 2021. [It was definitely earlier than that; the New Standard was introduced at the same time as the other new face molds, circa 2017.] Little by little as Target moves through their stock, they are changing their dolls and their site to reflect the newer face mold. The older face mold is being fazed [sic] out."  

While this doesn't exactly answer my question about whether the Suyin, Melina, Vanessa, and Dedra/Denelle faces have been abandoned for good, it does seem to imply that Target's brief, exciting experiment with a diversity of faces has ended.  Older dolls are also being offered now only with the New Standard mold...with one exception: a doll that was introduced while I was writing this review, Rosa, who has the Melina face (and pink hair!):

OG promotional image.
It gives me some hope that the non-standard faces might not be gone entirely.  However, the New Standard is now the default, and every other doll in Our Generation's current lineup, so far as I can tell, has that face mold.

In some cases, this change in mold has come without an associated change in outfit, but in others - particularly the Deluxe dolls, which come with a book and accessories - it has provided OG with a reason to redesign the doll altogether.  I'm very cynical, so I naturally assumed this was a cost-cutting method, and that the new version would necessarily be worse than the original, with fewer or cheaper accessories.  I decided to test this assumption.  When I saw that OG had redesigned their camping-themed Deluxe doll, Shannon, I couldn't resist purchasing both the new and the old version so that I could do a direct comparison.

New Shannon on left, Old Shannon on right, $34.99 each.
Personally, I love camping and outdoorsy stuff, so I've amassed a great deal of hiking- and camping-themed outfits and accessories for my dolls.  I never bought Shannon, however, because her Pepto-Bismol-pink hoodie didn't appeal to me and her pants looked like they didn't fit her well.  With her original version being discontinued, however, I changed my mind.  Funny how that happens.

I bought my Shannons separately because Target didn't have any of Old Shannon in stock when I finally decided to spring for her.  I got her off eBay for MSRP, but the person I got her from had bought her from atxoverstock.com, where she is still available and might be cheaper.  Also, Target will likely continue to find more of her in their stores and warehouses for a while until she really is gone for good.  So even though she's on her way to oblivion, she's not totally gone just yet.  In fact, Old Shannon is still in stock at Target online, right alongside New Shannon.

Old Shannon arrived in pristine condition, with just a few bits of styrofoam stuck to her box.  New Shannon, however, was not so lucky.  Her box was damaged, and she must have been jostled violently, because the cable tie around her neck actually snapped in transit.  I've never seen this happen before.  Considering how much force it takes to cut those ties, I can't imagine what happened to break hers.

Yikes.
The text on the boxes is surprisingly similar.  It looks like there's more text on Old Shannon's box because her copy is written in both English and French; New Shannon's box copy is only written in English.  The list of contents on Old Shannon's box is also provided in German, Spanish, and Italian.

New Shannon's box on the left, Old Shannon's box on the right.
Both boxes advertise the included book and suggest girls act out the story using the doll:

Old Shannon.
New Shannon.
I approve of anything that gets kids to read - or adults, for that matter.

And the new version of the book has color illustrations!

Old Shannon.
New Shannon.
There's also a list of the contents and a slogan (for lack of a better word) for the doll's story.
The slogans are different:


Old Shannon: "Campfire gear like this is just what any girl needs for making warm memories and singing cool campfire songs."


New Shannon: "The brightest adventures begin under the stars!"

OG boxes always have an anecdote about a real-life girl who did something community-oriented.  The anecdotes are different between these two boxes:

Old Shannon's box features Maura, who published a book she wrote about her dog and donated the profits to an animal shelter.

New Shannon's box features Katie, who founded a charitable group to organize girls from her community to donate their time.

Also different is the Our Generation mission statement at the top of the box.  Interestingly, both reference teaching family to recycle and collecting dresses for charity.  Even when the content is the same, though, the phrasing is slightly different:



Old Shannon: "There's never been a generation of girls quite like us."


New Shannon: "There has never been a group like us."

For the most part, though, the boxes are identical.

Something that hasn't changed since Emily first reviewed OG dolls back in 2013 is the construction of OG's packaging.  The box opens with a single taped tab, and the insert holding the doll and/or accessories slides out, allowing you to cut the threads and cable ties and remove the tape and plastic tabs holding everything in place.  This can take a long time, but at least most of the packaging is recyclable.

Both dolls had a hair care guide stuck in the upper flap of the insert.
Here's the back of the inserts:

Old Shannon's is the one with the threads; those were holding the extra outfit.
Each doll comes with a book that is closed around a cardboard triangular prism so that the cover holds it in place.  Each book has a bookmark as well, which is plastic-tied to the cardboard.

 

New Shannon's book was a bit akimbo, likely from whatever force broke the zip tie around her neck.  The bookmark had been bent by this jostling, but as it's only thin cardboard, I don't really mind.

The cardboard thing is pulling away from the box.
The accessories come taped into molded plastic shells.  These aren't too hard to open.  Presumably they're also recyclable.

Old Shannon's accessories.
New Shannon's accessories.
The dolls looked a little rumpled right out of their boxes - especially New Shannon.  I was eager to get a closer look at their clothing, though, so fixing their hair will have to wait.

Freed!
Undressing them was harder than I expected, because both dolls' clothes were sewn in place with bits of (very well-hidden) thread.  

New Shannon's outfit in particular was frustrating to get off.  Her overshirt was sewn to her body in eight (!) places and to her skort in two.  Cutting those tiny little threads was fiddly work; I used a kitchen knife to saw through them so that I wouldn't damage the clothes.  The threads are easier to get out than I-fasteners (the bane of my doll-collecting existence...) but they did leave tiny visible holes in the fabric.


But never fear, there were I-fasteners, too!

Fortunately the shirt's woven fabric allowed me to fix the holes by rubbing and twisting the fibers.  Healing the holes in the skort was more difficult but not impossible.  With the thread out, the outer shirt hangs more loosely.


Let's take a look at Old Shannon's outfits first.  She comes wearing a striped hoodie, a bracelet, green pants, socks, and shoes made from the same mold as New Shannon's.  The hoodie and the pants both have working pockets.  


The short-sleeved hoodie is pink and white and made of a thin, slippery fabric that feels like swimsuit material.  There are three different patterns: a narrow stripe used for the hood and sleeves, a wide stripe used for the torso and pockets, and a pink ribbed section around the bottom hem.  There's a pink OG clothing label sewn to this bottom hem on her right side/our left.  

The real pockets were a pleasant surprise; there's also a working zipper with a metal pull.  The hood is oversized to fit over Shannon's hair but doesn't have a hole in the back to stick the hair through, like many doll hoods.  This piece has me on the fence: it's well-constructed, but I find the color and the material off-putting.  The fabric is so thin it's almost see-through.  No one makes a hoodie out of super-thin polyester - at least, no one who wants to actually keep warm.  Then again, I guess if she wanted to keep warm, Shannon would be wearing a hoodie with long sleeves.  I guess this is just a fashion hoodie? 


When Old Shannon puts her hood up, the sheer volume of hair unzips the top part of the hoodie... but also, the bottom of the hoodie pulls up.  Really an impractical garment for camping, if you ask me.

Lookin' good!
...er, not so much.
Old Shannon isn't wearing a shirt under her hoodie.

  

Her pants are dark green cargo clamdiggers with a large bow at the waist.  The pants are made out of a much-more-realistic fabric, same as real hiking pants might be.  They have working pockets on the sides.  As I feared, Old Shannon's pants really do fit poorly.  They ride very low on her waist, and are hard to make look nice; if you pull them up in front, they fall down in back, and vice versa.

Front view: the bow is sewn in place and can't be untied.
Pockets: they don't have velcro or anything, but they stay shut well.
The pants close in back with velcro, but the fit is so loose you can pull them off without undoing the velcro.  The bow is cute, but it's hard to make it look good: if the shirt goes over it, it sticks out in front, but if you push the shirt up to reveal the bow, the shirt looks bad.  The hems are cuffed and end about a third of the way down from her knee to her ankle.  The cuffs are also sewn in place and can't be unrolled, though it's meant to look as if she rolled them up (I suspect).

Back view.
Under her pants, Old Shannon has pale-purple underwear.  These are narrowly hemmed, with an elastic waistband.  They are made out of similar material to the hoodie, but less slippery.

Front view.
Back view.
Old Shannon wears tan-colored knit socks with a speckled pattern.  I like the look of these, but they're very thin, much thinner than real socks.

Over the socks she has pink hiking boots, made of molded plastic with painted details.  The shoes are a little pinker than the slightly-darker, slightly-oranger pink of the hoodie, so they don't match exactly.  The shoes are molded to have three single grommets and one double grommet on each side, holding the molded laces in place.  There are also some faint molded stitches around the edge of the part of the shoe that laces, the top edge, and the raised part of the shoe at the heel.  Both Shannons use the same shoe mold.

New Shannon's shoe on the left, Old Shannon's shoe on the right.
A "stitched" area at the back of Old Shannon's shoes is painted white, and the soles are painted the same white, with a brown stripe around the edge of the sole.  None of the other molded details have been painted, so the grommets, laces, tongue, are all undifferentiated pink.  Still, they're not bad for a molded shoe.  The plastic/vinyl is flexible and relatively easy to get on and off the doll.

New Shannon's shoes on the left, Old Shannon's shoes on the right.
The bottoms of the shoes are molded with a relatively-realistic tread, the OG logo, and several hearts (most of which are upside-down in this photo, whoops).

New Shannon's shoes on the left, Old Shannon's shoes on the right.
Old Shannon also has a dark pink elastic friendship bracelet with two knots holding a silver metal ring.  (This ties in with the book; the bracelet was made for her by her cousin.)  The elastic is stiff, so it's not easy to get the bracelet on and off the doll's wrist, but it's a sturdy, well-made item.  It doesn't match the pink in the hoodie or the shoes, though.

The bracelet does, however, almost match Old Shannon's crocs, which are a slightly darker pink and are part of the extra outfit.

The entire extra outfit includes a plaid shirt-dress and the pair of crocs.

The crocs are made of molded vinyl, like the other shoes, but are thicker and less bendy.  They have a section that moves up and down, which can be pulled up over the ankle to hold them in place.

Old Shannon's crocs.
Where this bit connects to the shoe, there are tiny hearts.

One heart is upside-down, though.
The crocs have a very thick, heavy-duty tread:

And there's a molded OG logo at the heel.

The shoes are easy to get on and off the doll, stay on well, and feel substantial.  They also look just like the real thing, which chuffs me.

American flag crocs

Old Shannon's shirtdress is made of thin plaid flannel with a lace border on the hem.  There are two real belt loops through which a removable belt is threaded.  The dress closes with velcro down the front; there are four buttons sewn on but they are just for decoration.  I love the jewel-tone colors, but the dress is short on her, and there's something about the fit across the shoulders that isn't quite right.

I think there isn't enough space between the collar and the shoulders, so the dress bunches up if you try to make the collar look nice.  The bottom button also isn't quite low enough to ensure Shannon's modesty is preserved... particularly if she sits down.

Or lifts her arms.

The belt is made of woven cotton and is dark pink.

Overall there's a lot of pieces and the three major items fall a bit short for me.  This is a problem I've seen often with OG clothing - sometimes they're made of quality materials, well-constructed, and fit well, and other times...they aren't and/or don't.  I've bought outfits from OG that wouldn't fit OG dolls.  I think (I hope) their quality control has gotten better since I started collecting dolls in 2014, but I've also noticed the fabric quality becoming less reliable.

With that in mind, let's take a look at New Shannon's outfit, which consists of a plaid overshirt, a graphic tank top, a ruffled skort, knee socks, and shoes that the box calls hiking boots but which could also be tennis shoes.

However, New Shannon's outfit is made out of reasonable materials.  Her overshirt, for instance, is made of a lightweight cotton/polyester blend that feels like the kind of fabric such a shirt would be constructed of in real life.  The shirt is plaid with cranberry, light pink, and off-white stripes.  It has a fold-down collar and closes with three working pearlescent white buttons.  The cuffs are made to look rolled-up and are sewn in place.


This shirt is exactly like something I would wear in real life and is my favorite outfit piece from either doll.

Under the shirt, New Shannon is wearing a white tank top with a graphic of a camper on the front.  The shirt is slightly too shiny and slightly translucent, and the seam allowances at the hems and collar feel skimpy to me, but the decal feels substantial and durable.  It shows a camper with the lights on, among trees, under a starry sky with a comet and a crescent moon.  It's cute.

The construction is basic, but there's a raised scallop on both sides of the bottom hem:

New Shannon is also wearing a dark khaki skort, made out of the same kind of fabric as Old Shannon's pants.  The skort has two pleats in the front, a ruffled waistband, and an off-white canvas bow sew to the front.  It closes in the front with velcro.

It's actually not exactly a skort so much as a skirt with attached underwear.

The design is cute, but, very like Old Shannon's pants, the execution is flawed.  The skirt doesn't have enough fabric to drape elegantly, instead clinging to Shannon's rear and emphasizing her potato-like physique.

You can also see here how see-through the tank top is.

The waistband is also too loose, so that the skort can be pulled off without undoing the velcro.

The ruffled waistband is cute, but looks bad unless the tank top is tucked under it.  Much like Old Shannon's shirtdress, the whole piece feels well-made but the fit is off.  

The skort has a little pink OG clothing label sewn on one side; this label is the same as the one sewn to Old Shannon's hoodie.

  

Under the skort New Shannon is wearing undies identical to Old Shannon's in everything but color.

New Shannon's are mint green.
Back view.
New Shannon is wearing tan socks.  These are ribbed and elasticized, with a tighter section at the top, and seem a little nicer than Old Shannon's, if less "camp"-y.

New Shannon's shoes are the exact same mold as Old Shannon's, but of a darker, redder pink.  Only the soles are painted, with no stripe.  The soles are almost the same tan color as the socks, but slightly lighter and slightly pinker.

These shoes are obviously simpler than Old Shannon's and clearly a step down.

New Shannon's shoes on the left, Old Shannon's shoes on the right.
The two dolls' clothes are actually surprisingly evenly matched.  The biggest advantage Old Shannon has over New Shannon is the shoes: not only are Old Shannon's sneakers more detailed, but she also comes with a second pair, the delightful little crocs.  But otherwise, I find that there's not a noticeable difference in quality or even quantity between the dolls' outfit pieces.

Old Shannon's clothes: pants, hoodie, shirtdress, socks, undies, bracelet, belt, two pairs of shoes.
New Shannon's clothes: shirt, tank top, skort, socks, undies, one pair of shoes.
To continue the comparison, let's look at the accessories next.  

Right away it looked like Old Shannon had a lot more stuff in her box than New Shannon, but that's mainly because Old Shannon comes with the extra outfit.  Excluding clothing (and the books), here's what each doll came with:

Old Shannon: notebook, pen, checklist, map, cup, plate, canteen, roasting stick with marshmallow and hot dog.
New Shannon: hiking pole, cup, map, compass, bag of marshmallows, bag of graham crackers, chocolate bar, roasting stick with s'more.
So actually it's pretty comparable.  I knew from past experience that the hot dog and the marshmallow both come off of Old Shannon's stick, but I wasn't sure about New Shannon's s'more.


Surprise!
It does!  The s'more is the same as other s'mores produced by OG; it just has two giant holes punched through it to accommodate the stick.

New Shannon's s'more (right) and a s'more from a discontinued accessory set (left).
I also discovered another surprise...

The s'more comes apart!
I'm not sure if this is intentional or not (the two halves are very firmly glued together on the older s'more) but I do think that having the sides be detachable could enhance play for a child who wants to pretend to make their own s'mores with their dolls, so, accidental or not, I'm cool with it.  

I have to say, though, impaling the ingredients of a s'more on a stick would 1. be very difficult, considering that the graham crackers and chocolate would break too easily, and 2. is a terrible way to roast a s'more, because the melting chocolate and marshmallow would just fall out the sides into the fire.  

Old Shannon's marshmallow and hot dog make more sense... although no one but a barbarian would roast a marshmallow and a hot dog on the same stick at once.  The marshmallow will burn well before the hot dog is cooked through, for one...  Regardless, I still appreciate that these allow for wide play possibilities.

  

Good thing both of them come off of the stick.

Both sticks are made of somewhat bendable vinyl.  Old Shannon's stick looks fairly realistic, if small, with a molded knot and two prongs.  New Shannon's stick, however impractical, seems equally well-made.

New Shannon's stick on the left, Old Shannon's stick on the right.
The silver paint on New Shannon's stick has a sticky, tacky feel to it that I really don't like.  This has something to do with either the paint or the finish Battat uses; I bought a kitchen accessories set from OG around Christmas, and so many of the pieces had this sticky residue that I couldn't use them.  The sticky stuff stays on your fingers and doesn't come off in water.  I have no idea how to get it off.  I tried rubbing alcohol but that didn't do anything; same with soap and water.  Friends have suggested using cooking oil, but I don't know how I'd wash off the oil afterwards.  Whatever Battat is using in their manufacturing that causes this, I wish they'd stop.  It makes the toys afflicted with it basically unusable.

At any rate, back to the accessories.  While we're talking about food, New Shannon also comes with the ingredients to make s'mores.  The marshmallows and graham crackers both consist of a block of molded food inside a sealed plastic bag, but the chocolate, for whatever reason, comes unwrapped.  The marshmallow bag has a logo printed on it.

"JUMBO"
This looks nice, and OG has used this design before.  The graham crackers look fine, but... aren't graham crackers usually much larger than that, and bagged horizontally, not vertically?  The crackers look more like traditional crackers to me.

The chocolate is molded into squares.  It feels durable and is in better scale to the doll than the other two ingredients.


With Shannon's hand for scale.
Old Shannon comes with a green military-style canteen with a magenta cap.  The cap is not removable.  The canteen is curved in cross-section, with indented lines on both sides.


The green paint has some of that same tacky feeling to it, but it's not as bad as the silver paint on New Shannon's roasting stick.  There's also a sloppy-looking defect on the concave side of my canteen; I can't tell if this is a painting error or a molding error or both.  It's not so bad it makes the canteen unusable, but it does make the canteen look cheap.

The magenta cap makes it look kinda like a bottle of bug repellent or something.
Old Shannon also comes with a camp cup and plate.  Both are molded out of silvery plastic.  The plate is divided into three compartments, like a TV dinner.  It's pretty small for an 18" doll.  This is a common problem; it's no surprise to me that OG accessories are often better suited to 14" dolls like the Mini Pals than the dolls they're meant to go with.  Even American Girl itself often struggles with the scale of the accessories these days.

Plate.
Shannon holding the plate.  Her hand is basically the size of the plate.
The cup has a half-handle and is also very small.  (What is this, a shot glass?  An espresso mug?)


Dinky.
To put things in perspective, here's my hand next to an 16-ounce mug.

If the doll is meant to represent a child, the cup should be even bigger.  Here's a cup from a long-discontinued American Girl camping set, which I got off eBay; this dish set is one of the crown jewels of my collection.  It's made of real metal and enamel and is dishwasher-safe - identical to the real thing.  (Ah, for the good old days.)

Much better.
New Shannon's cup is actually much better than Old Shannon's.  It's made out of slightly-translucent pink speckled plastic that resembles pottery, with a raised rim, a full handle, and a bevelled base.  It's much bigger than Old Shannon's cup.

My camera really didn't want to focus on it.
New Shannon's is the pink one.
This means that it also looks more in-scale with the doll.

Both dolls come with a map of the United States.  It's the exact same map on the exact same paper; the only difference is that Old Shannon's map has been folded loosely into three, like a road map.  New Shannon's map is left flat.

Old Shannon's map.
New Shannon's map.
It looks like the colors are brighter but that's just an artifact of my camera.  The two maps are identical.

Old Shannon also comes with a single sheet of what looks like notebook paper, on which she has written a packing list for her camping trip.  This is a prop that ties in directly with the story in her book, as you'll see later.  In fact, there's an image of this list in Old Shannon's version of the book that looks exactly like the list that comes with the doll.

The words are repeated on the back in French.

She also has a red pen with silver accents.  It doesn't have any moving parts, nor a cap, and obviously isn't functional.  It looks kind of clunky.


  

The notebook says on the cover that it's a travel guidebook.  This is also a tie-in with the story.  Inside, the pages are blank and unlined.  It's not a very large notebook; the pen is just as big as the notebook.

Once again, the back cover is in French.

The design is slightly different in French.
New Shannon has a compass (non-working; the face is just painted) made of slightly-metallic gold plastic.  It comes on a long maroon ribbon so that it can be worn around the doll's neck.  It hangs quite low on her, but maybe that makes it easier to see to read it.

All the way to her belly button.

Finally, New Shannon's hiking pole has a clear-plastic strap so that she can hold it.

It's pink and black, though mine has a large, very obvious paint defect near its base.

The pole is a decent height for the doll.  It feels fairly substantial, without much give.  It's hard to get the doll to hold the hiking pole upright, but easy to pose her like she's mid-stride with the pole in the air.  It would be easier if the pole were longer (and in real life, it would be) but this still seems like a decent accessory, and the doll interacts well with it.

The poles are waist high on the woman in this advertisement (taken from Amazon):

They're more like thigh-high on Shannon.

Of course, both dolls also come with a book, as well as a cardboard bookmark printed with the OG logo and OG's signature heart pattern.  The two bookmarks are identical, but New Shannon's got bent during transit.


The books are the same - "Magic Under the Stars", by Susan Cappadonia Love - but both the cover and interior art have been completely redrawn for New Shannon's edition of the book.

New version on the left, old version on the right.
The original art wasn't bad, but the new art is better, I think.  Also, while the illustrations in the original version are in black and white, just as the box advertised, the new version has color illustrations.

The original book's illustrations are spaced a bit more densely throughout the book.  The subject matter is the same, though, and the half-page black-and-white images seem to have been converted to full-page color images for the new version.  For instance, the illustration above combines these two illustrations from the original:


I took so long on this review that I actually had time to read the book.  The plot sees Shannon forced to bring her cousin Neve along on a cross-USA roadtrip (hence the addition of "YOUR COUSIN" to the packing list above).  As Shannon explains...

I feel like if "Free Candy" changed your life, it wouldn't be in a good way...and probably not in a way you want to read about in a kids' book.
Shannon and Neve are "complete opposites!", as Shannon puts it, citing various traits that really don't scream "complete opposites" to me: they like different baseball teams, toast marshmallows differently, and Shannon is a dog person while Neve is a cat person.  That's pretty much it.  Naturally - and pretty much within one chapter - the cousins become close friends, thanks to back-seat entertainment activities that Shannon's mom has put together for the drive.  They also run into a pair of "singing sisters", one of whom is named Kendra.

Look familiar?
It's the same Kendra who was reviewed back when Emily first looked at OG! (I promise I'm not a stalker... my COVID project was re-reading the entirety of the blog, and I also specifically looked up the OG-related reviews while I was writing this.)

Remember me?
In fact, cousin Neve was also a doll OG produced (now discontinued).

Neve doll (OG promotional image).
And the outfit Neve is wearing on the cover of the new version of the book is an OG outfit called "Cutie Fruity."

"Cutie Fruity" promotional image.
I actually recognize a lot of the outfits in the illustrations.  For instance, this one is called "Rainbow Academy" and I happen to own it.  The rainbows printed on the skirt have ears and faces drawn on them to make them into bunnies, cats, and dogs.

"Rainbow Academy" on Shannon, as illustrated in the new version of the book.
"Rainbow Academy" as seen in a promotional image on the OG website.
The outfit that cousin Neve is wearing in that illustration is called "Sweet Souvenirs".

"Sweet Souvenirs," from the OG website.
And here, the girls are clearly riding in the OG Off-Roader or the My Way and Highways 4x4:

From the original version of the book.
In both books, Shannon is seen wearing her plaid shirtdress, which amuses me because, of course, the new version doesn't include it.

Updated version of the above photo.  They changed the design of the car.

There are also other things in the illustrations that I recognize from the toys.  In one picture, Shannon has a pancake shaped like a bear print.  Suddenly, one of the items in a camping-themed cooking accessory set ("What a Trek") makes sense: there was a frying pan and a pancake, but the pancake was shaped like a foot for no reason.  Now I know it was actually a tie-in to this story.

Mystery foot pancake.  (From OG "What a Trek" set promotional image.)
Mystery solved.
I was delighted to see Kendra, and as I read I found myself combing the illustrations to see what else I recognized.  It's like a scavenger hunt.  Several of the OG books are like this, actually, and other characters often show up in different dolls' books.  Kendra's sister Kylie, however, was never a doll, as far as I can tell.  There was a "Rock Star Kylie" I found an image of online, but she's blond and Kylie is specifically described as a redhead.

Maybe she dyed her hair.  (Image from Our Generation wiki.)
Many of the OG dolls associated with books have been discontinued, along with the "Read and Play" sets, which came with the book and an outfit or accessories that went with it.  However, OG has started putting out mini-dolls with books (no mini Shannon yet, though) for those who don't want to spend $35 on a book/toy set.  Even better, most of the books are available to read or download for free online if you sign up for the OG mailing list.  "Magic Under the Stars" is there (both versions, in fact!) so you can read it right now if you want!  I'm very appreciative of their doing this, since I'm the kind of person who likes to read every book in a series and gets annoyed when that isn't possible.  Plus, it makes more books available to kids who like to read, and who doesn't like that?  

Each book also has a glossary of vocabulary words in the back, along with some kind of activity.  This makes them educational and interactive, too!  Shannon's book, for instance, includes a backseat scavenger hunt, which is referred to in the story itself.


Before I go on to the dolls themselves, let's briefly go back to my original inspiration in doing this comparison.  To test my hypothesis about whether the new versions are a step down from the original versions of these dolls, assuming both dolls are constructed the same, let's review what each one includes:

A tie!
Old Shannon comes with more stuff, but the accessories New Shannon comes with are generally better.  Of course, you could argue that some of these things should be weighted more than others, but all in all I'd say that the Shannon reboot is not, in fact, a significant step down from the original.  I was surprised by these results.  

If I score by which I just like better, rather than which is more complex, it still comes out even.  This makes me appreciate that Battat didn't just put out the same doll with fewer accessories, but actually bothered to completely re-do everything about Shannon except her coloring and the content of her story.  It gives people who already have the original a reason to get the reboot, and people buying the new version need not feel cheated.  I will end up keeping some pieces from each set; I feel that I got my money's worth for both dolls.  When modern toy reboots seem to offer less quality, cost more, or both (see Emily's recent Monster High review), it's refreshing that OG, in cutting material costs, still managed to deliver a complete product.  Maybe it's cheaper to make a hiking pole than a pair of crocs, but it's still a neat accessory.  

Now that we've gone over all the dolls' accessories, let's look at the dolls themselves.  OG hasn't changed the design of their Deluxe dolls (or their Regular dolls, for that matter) in the years since Jenny and her epic Gourmet Kitchen, so I'll be rather cursory in my overview of the dolls' bodies here.

Old Shannon on right, New Shannon on left.
Rear view.  Old Shannon on right, New Shannon on left.
Both dolls have a stuffed, Humpty-Dumpty-esque torso with vinyl head and limbs.  The head is attached with a cable tie.  OG dolls only have rotational movement in their shoulders; they can't move their arms away from their bodies like most of the more-expensive 18" doll brands can.  Neither can they do sideways splits, only front-to-back.  The difference between the Regular dolls and the Deluxe dolls is that the Deluxe dolls have squishier limbs and an internal armature that allows you to pose them.  Sort of.  I personally find that dressing and manipulating the Deluxe dolls is harder than the Regular dolls, and their balance isn't as good, so the OG dolls in my permanent collection are all of the Regular variety.

New Shannon showing off her posing abilities (which are identical to Old Shannon's).  I had to lean her against her horse so she wouldn't fall over.
Old Shannon and New Shannon have identical bodies: a stuffed fabric torso (the fabric feels like a thick nylon - the tights, not the plastic) with a hidden cable-tie at the neck, vinyl limbs and head.  If you squish the limbs (which are extra squishy), you can feel the hard wire armature inside.  The five joints (shoulders, hips, neck) only have rotational movement; neither Shannon can tilt or tip her head, but can only look side-to-side... or backwards.

It's the doll with her head on backwards!  (Shining Time Station reference that no one is going to get FTW.)
The limbs can be bent, thanks to the internal armature, but they look weird and folded when bent, and it's hard to un-bend them.  I am continually mystified that no one has ever released a cloth-bodied 18" doll with jointed limbs.  How hard can it be?  Being able to bend a doll's knees and elbows is so useful, yet this creepy folded-limb armature thing is the best option we've got for a poseable soft-bodied 18" doll?  Hard-bodied 18" dolls like Kidz and Catz, Via E, and Gotz have done it - why can't American Girl, Journey Girls, and Our Generation try it, too?  Grumble.  

Regardless, there's not much in the way of poseability here, and nothing has changed since Jenny and her epic kitchen, so I'll move on to the thing that is different between these dolls: their heads.  First of all, these dolls have exactly the same hair: a dark blond with very subtle lighter highlights.

This is Old Shannon, but New Shannon's hair and hairstyle are exactly the same.
Like all straight OG hair, it's very smooth and silky-feeling, and easy to brush.  Both dolls have a rooted center part so that they can wear their hair in pigtails (like Shannon on the book cover) without looking bald.  Once you move away from that central part, the rooting gets rather sparse.  (I always struggle to re-find a part like this, so I waited to get these photos til the very end, because neither Shannon's hair is ever going to look that nice again!)

Old Shannon
New Shannon
The rooting density seems similar, but I can convince myself that New Shannon's hair is either rooted a little more densely or just more regularly; Old Shannon's rooting patterns seems somewhat haphazard.  Also like every OG doll I've owned, the haircut itself is messy.

This is New Shannon, but it's the same on both dolls.
The dolls also have the exact same skintone, the same eyelashes, and the exact same eyes.  Shannon has bright blue sleep eyes - almost a teal color, with an iris pattern that reminds me of closeups of bacteria under a microscope.


Bacillus subtilus (from biologydictionary.net).  I know it's a strange analogy but you can see my point, right?! 
Another thing the two Shannons have in common, which suprised me, is their freckles.  Shannon has ten freckles - four on each cheek, two on her nose - in an irregular pattern, which is identical between the dolls.  The only difference is the color.

Old Shannon's are darker and shinier.
New Shannon.  They kept the same freckle stamp.
Incidentally, this made me want to do a comparison of all my freckled dolls.  So, here's a quick parade.  First we have Melina, who I think is the prettiest OG doll (maybe ever?).  She has copious freckles in a natural-looking pattern.  My only problem with them is that they tend to look shiny, same as Old Shannon's.

Our Generation Melina, discontinued.  Some of her freckles are reflecting the flash back, so her face looks shiny.
Next, we have Robyn, the I'm A Girly redhead that Emily mentioned.  After reading that review, I camped the Amazon page waiting for her to come down to $15, then snapped her up; she was down to $7.99 last I looked.  I still can't get over what an incredible deal those dolls are at the moment.  She came in a hideous but very well-made neon orange jumpsuit, a nice red wig with slightly messy bangs, and clear boots with black soles.  Right now she's wearing the brown wig from the Lucy doll.  Her freckles are delicate and natural-looking.  I think she's a pretty and endearing doll.  Her lighter eyebrows make a huge difference from Lucy's:

I'm A Girly Robyn.
Then we have two different Journey Girls.  First is Kelsey, from the Australia line.  You can see that she's ghostly pale.  I picked her out from many Kelseys in my local Toys R Us as it was having its closeout sale, so I made sure to get one with her freckles stamped on as straight as possible.  She has a dense spray of small freckles across her nose, lighter to match her lighter skintone.  I also have Japan Kelsey, from Amazon, but her arms snapped off and her head is currently detached, so I won't share her here.  I can attest, however, that even purchased online - that is to say, sight unseen - her freckles look good:

Toys R Us Journey Girls Australia Kelsey.
Finally, here is Journey Girls' latest doll, Alana, who is from the long-delayed Brazil line.  Alana's freckles are myriad, and I love the combination of dark skin, blue eyes, red hair, and freckles.  Her face makeup is too bright for me, however, and her freckles look very shiny from most angles:

Amazon Journey Girls Brazil Alana.  It looks like she has glitter stuck to the bridge of her nose.
The thing that stands out to me here is how large and sparse Shannon's freckles are in comparison to the rest of these dolls.  When held up next to Kelsey's and Robyn's subtle freckles, Shannon's almost look like flecks of mud, to put it uncharitably, or birthmarks, to put it more kindly.  Then again, freckles aren't easy to do, and I prefer the irregular pattern and shape of Shannon's freckles to some of the less-realistic freckle patterns I've seen on other dolls on this blog.

Old Shannon and New Shannon might have the same freckle stamp, but they have different eyebrow patterns.  Old Shannon's eyebrows are made up of many fine lines arcing increasingly towards the edge of the brow.  They look manicured.

New Shannon's eyebrow pattern is less sleek, with lines of different lengths and weights interspersed to look more natural.

I think the eyebrows are the same color, but New Shannon's heavier line weight makes her eyebrows look ever-so-slightly darker.  Her eyebrows are also longer and less arched than Old Shannon's.

Old Shannon's lips are pale mauve and look slightly ashy, like maybe her circulation isn't great.

New Shannon has darker, pinker, slightly-orange lips.  It looks like she's wearing lipstick from some angles; from others it looks more natural.

Interesting to me is that New Shannon's lip paint stops before the molded edges of her lips; this is most noticeable on her lower lip, which is molded square but painted curved.  Old Shannon's lip paint, on the other hand, extends past her molded lips by quite a bit.  This might be because the lips on the Old Standard mold are quite subtle and might look too thin if the paint stayed within the "lines".

This brings me to the thing that started this whole comparison, which is the face molds!  Old Shannon has the Old Standard face, which is the same mold as Jenny, Kendra, Charlotte, and Joy, so those who've read this whole blog have seen it before.  It's a happy, simple, sort of cartoonish face, with a long, sloped nose, thin lips, full cheeks, round eyes, and arched brows.  Old Shannon looks excited and a little surprised.  She is very clearly smiling.

Once again, the previously-ubiquitous Old Standard face has now been retired, and all of OG's new dolls sport the New Standard face, which New Shannon exhibits.  

This facemold is much more serene, but also kind of vacant.  The New Standard face has full, bow-shaped lips, full cheeks (maybe fuller than the Old Standard?), a shorter nose which is broader and less upturned, a more pronounced philtrum (that's the divot between your nose and your upper lip), almond-shaped eyes with a defined upper eyelid, and a flatter, more "dished" profile.  New Shannon's mouth is upturned, but her smile is more subtle than Old Shannon's.  New Shannon looks a little checked-out.

The face looks worst in 3/4 view, because that highlights the strangely sharp angle between the front of the face and the side.

It's not bad in profile.  You can see how flat the new face is:  

New Shannon: same ears, shorter nose, bigger lips.
The nose sticks out less prominently than with the Old Standard face, so even though the lips are more pronounced and the cheeks rounder, the face looks flatter.  Amusingly, the ear mold is identical and unchanged between the two dolls.

Here's the Old Standard face in profile for comparison:

Old Shannon: longer nose, smaller lips.
When the New Standard face was first introduced, along with the other new molds, I liked it better than the Old Standard, which always struck me as unrealistic.  However, I have to confess that, seeing them side-by-side, I kinda prefer the Old Standard.  There's something endearing about it that the New Standard doesn't have.  I look at New Shannon and find it a lot harder to connect with her.  Old Shannon looks kind of dopey, but she's so much more eager to do things and see the world and all that stuff the OG boxes have in their box copy.  New Shannon looks aloof by comparison.

I will say, though, that the Old Standard face always looked best, to me, on dolls with light complexions, like Shannon's.  On dolls with darker hair and eyebrows, the Old Standard's thin eyebrows looked severe.  I have a couple of other dolls in the house right now with the New Standard face, and the one who wears it best is Marcia, who has a darker complexion, whose lips are darker than but similar in color to her skintone, and who has dark hair and eyes.  Maybe the New Standard just looks better with different coloring than the Old Standard's best-looking coloring.

That actually brings me to a final point about the move to make all OG dolls sport the New Standard.  I think a diversity of facemolds is important in a doll line in part because how a mold looks depends so much on the coloring of the doll.  Having one mold for every doll in your collection ensures that some color combinations will always look unflattering.  But also, it just gives collectors - and children - fewer options.  I'm sure it decreases costs, fine - but it's not like the other molds hadn't already been created.  Plus, a diversity of facemolds can represent a diversity of ethnicities in a way that having a single facemold for every single doll can't accomplish.  That's why, for instance, Journey Girls has the Callie mold, who looks specifically East Asian, why Maplelea's Inuit character Saila has a unique facemold, and why American Girl's Nanea was given a brand-new facemold, one that could represent her heritage better than the "Classic" mold.  The New Standard has clearly been crafted to have ambiguous ethnicity, to my eyes, but... IDK, man.  It just doesn't seem inclusive to me the way that the flush of new facemolds did when they were all released at once.  I got really excited then; I thought it meant that OG would now have a variety of facemolds, like Journey Girls and American Girl have.  I never even got to see some of the new molds in person before they were discontinued.  

I'll finish, though, by adding that there's hope on the horizon: Our Generation just came out with several new dolls, one of which uses the Melina face mold.  And while the rest of the new releases all use the New Standard, they look quite different from prior releases - and from each other - because of the diversity in face paint.  It's impressive how the right paint job is the difference between a face mold looking amazing and looking terrible.  I can't wait to see these new dolls in person.  Our Generation may have chosen to go basic when it comes to face molds, but a newfound diversity in face paint will go a long way towards remedying that.

I wanted to finish with some natural light photos, so I took up-close pics of both Shannons in the sun, even though it's very smoky so the light wasn't great:



I think the sunlight makes the highlights in their hair shine a bit more and the blue of their eyes more evident... but I also noticed in taking these photos that New Shannon has a little fleck of paint embedded in her eye right over the iris (our right, her left).  It's very difficult to see in the photo, but it was pretty obvious in real life.  I've also noticed that the more I handle her, the more she's developing a lazy eye; that same eye doesn't want to open as wide as the other one.

Finally, I tried to pose them in an "outdoor" setting, since they're supposedly camping and hiking:


Old Shannon is wearing New Shannon's shirt, which is my favorite clothing item from either set, and her own pants and clogs; New Shannon is wearing Old Shannon's hoodie and shoes and her own skirt and tank top.  I forgot the hiking pole so they made hiking sticks out of a branch I found lying around.  I had to lean them up against something because it's impossible for them to stand on their own on an uneven surface. 

Overall, I slightly prefer Old Shannon as a doll because I like her face better, but I consider the two pretty evenly matched, and I mostly just appreciate that they're not just clones of each other, and that OG didn't cut obvious corners in their reboot.  In an age when toys are becoming rapidly cheaper in quality and more expensive in price, it's nice to see that new toys can still be as good as - or even improve upon - their predecessors in some ways.

14 comments:

  1. This is an incredibly detailed, exceptionally and informative article thank you so much for posting .

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  2. Oh I just love this so much

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  3. What are your thoughts on the cost of original American girl dolls and accessories on auction sites like ebay?
    I think the pricing to high, but things are only worth what people are willing to spend.

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    1. I think the prices on ebay are stupidly inflated, personally. When I first got into collecting, I started by going onto ebay and hunting down all the stuff I wanted - that I could afford, anyhow. I'm really glad I did because now that stuff is several times more expensive. Things like Josefina's accessories from back in the early 2000s, I just have to resign myself to never, ever owning. It makes me kind of sad - but like you say, if people are willing to pay it, what can ya do? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Just kind of a bummer that American Girl is only for rich people anymore, even on the secondary market. ...but I guess it always *was* for rich people, it's just that now it's for richer rich people lol.

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  4. Great guest review! I have always disliked the old standard nose, but it looks good in profile whereas the new standard has a good nose in front but a not nice profile. If only there was a good mix 😅. Overall I think OG is a really good brand, especially price wise and availability. But, overall I would love to have either of these girls in my collection!

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  5. This review brought back such great memories of that exciting influx of new faces from OG. I agree with you that I wish they'd continued that diversity (and I wish I'd kept Neveah in my collection--she's so lovely!). I was getting tired of the Old Standard face by the time they replaced it, so I think that, at least, was a good move.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful contribution to the blog! It was a treat to work with you. :)

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    1. aw, shucks, you're gonna make me blush ;)

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  6. I don’t have any 18” dolls in my collection anymore to save space, but now, dang it, you made me rethink that. I once bought one of the comparable version (my life as?) from Walmart, and she couldn’t even sit because of her poor leg rotation. I took here back and grumbled. Very nice review! MnGrl

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  7. What an amazing in-depth review, and such a great idea for a comparison! With reboot galore in the doll world right now and valid concerns over cost cutting and quality issues, reviews like these will definitely help collectors make up their minds on what to purchase and when.

    I must say that I slightly prefer New Shannon's face mold, but I do agree with your critique that giving every doll the same face mold might harm the diversity of the line. Hopefully some experiments in face paint will remedy this, like you said! It's also nice to see that even though the line went through somewhat of a transformation, the newer dolls don't show a drastic decline in quality. All the new accessories seem fun, even if they contain some flaws here and there. I especially love the books. The comparison between the new and old illustrations (and the fact that so many of the items and clothes shown are actually available irl!) is just fascinating to me. I also appreciate that OG made all their books available on the website, and that the books contain fun activities and useful glossaries in the back. All in all, I think OG has a great chance at going strong for another decade (if not longer).

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    1. One can only hope! I've been impressed by a lot of the clever things they've come up with in recent years... notably an ambulance and an EMT outfit, and a pizza-themed collection with a pizza delivery outfit and bag (and a credit-card reader heh). But they've still managed to stay fairly affordable, and haven't markedly compromised quality. I've actually been impressed with a couple of recent My Life As accessories, too... which has historically been the cheapest of the major 18" doll brands. (Like a farm set where you can "pick" the vegetables.) This isn't to say American Girl hasn't had clever innovations (for instance, the UV-light grill for Joss), but it's so expensive as to be unattainable. 😅

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  8. Thanks for the thorough comparison! 18" dolls are my main focus as well.
    To me, the old standard face mold looked like a doll. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The new standard face mold seems much more lifelike, but also more melancholy.
    The treasure hunt for OG products in the illustrations is awesome.

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    1. I definitely agree with that assessment. Next to a more lifelike doll like a Journey Girl, the Old Standard face looks like a toy. 😅

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  9. I have never liked the old standard OG face. The face always looked a bit pinched to me and the lips seemed a bit thin, I own one or two with that face, but I hadn't bonded with them.
    On the flip side, my two new standard face'd OG girls, I absolutely love. The eyes seem less wide and the bottom half of the face seems fuller and less pinched.
    I appreciate this review for a couple of reasons, though I have never had an issue with the quality of OG pieces.
    I have some Disney ILY 18 inch dolls too but they don't fit in as nicely with my American Girls as the OG do so I sort of consider them a different type of doll aside from the sharing of clothes with a couple of my AGs.

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  10. Thanks for bringing attention to the issue of "lesser" dolls. There's so much snobbery around dolls, even within the same brand, especially when we're talking about adult collecting. It's really sad, since the whole point of dolls is to bring joy regardless of someone's budget or preferences. OG seem very nicely made and certainly deserve a place on store shelves and in people's houses. As for face sculpts, my opinion is irrelevant since I'm not into kid dolls, but I do like the mouth shape and colour of the new ones better.

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