The Allure of The American Girl Dolls
Why are American Girl dolls so popular with little girls and their moms?
If you have a daughter or granddaughter between the ages of 3 and 13, chances are you are very familiar with the American Girl dolls produced by Pleasant Company (now a division of Mattel). The American Girl dolls are high-quality vinyl, 18" play dolls, with their own historical stories. The dolls have lavish clothing and accessories consistent with their own historical story, as well as books written about each doll's adventures.
Here are some of the most popular American Girl Dolls:
Felicity: A colonial girl growing up in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1774
Kirsten: A pioneer girl growing up on the American frontier in 1854
Samantha: A Victorian girl, orphaned and growing up with her Grandma in 1904
Josefina: A Hispanic girl growing up on a ranch in New Mexico in 1824.
Addy: A courageous African-American girl growing up in war-torn Civil War America in 1864
Molly: A girl growing up during World War II in 1944.
Additionally, there is the "American Girl of Today," which is a modern doll that can be special ordered to look like its owner, with a choice of hair color, eye color, and skin tone.
Great Play Value
Why are these girls so popular? From a child's point of view, these dolls have incredible play value. The accessories that are available are amazing--for instance, you can get a lovely Tea Tin Lunchbox for Samantha, or an entire set of Nature Paraphernalia (ncluding a mini flower press and magnifying glass!). For Addy, there is a puppet show or a gardening set. How about a pioneer school lunch, or a fishing set (with mini bait!) for Kirsten. There is also doll furniture available for each doll, and a lovely wardrobe as well. Each month, there is also an "American Girl Magazine" with articles on the dolls and their owners.
American Girl Dolls are Educational
From a parent's point of view, these dolls are definitely educational! There are six books about each doll full of historical information. Everything about the dolls, from their wardrobe to their furniture, is historically accurate. The dolls are also sturdy, and, although not cheap, the dolls are less expensive than many high-end dolls from manufacturers such as Madame Alexander. For instance, Josefina with her basic outfit and paperback book costs $82. Additional books, outfits, costumes and furniture can then be slowly added. Or, for the parent who wants to splurge big-time, "collections" of dolls plus various outfits, accessories and furniture organized around the historical stories can be purchased for several hundred dollars.
Sewing and Costuming For American Girl Dolls
Another reason the dolls are so popular is that they are a wonderful size for costuming by moms and daughters alike! There are many patterns available to make outfits for 18" play dolls, including American Girls. And there are also many web sites who offer additional, handmade clothing for the American Girls and other 18" dolls (including Magic Attic, Heidi Ott, Gotz, and others). See below for a list of sites offering costumes and patterns for these dolls.
My daughter, who just turned 4, already has two Bitty Babies, another wonderful doll from Pleasant Company, with many lovely accessories and outfits (our favorite--the bear Halloween costume!) We also love "Bitty Bear" who comes with Bitty Baby, and who gets a matching hat in every Bitty Baby costume! Bitty Baby is very reasonably priced at $38, and you can order the doll in various skin tones and hair colors. I am greatly looking forward to buying my daughter her first American Girl in the next few years--but which one to buy? Kirsten, who looks just like her, or Addy, who looks like her friend, or Molly, who could have been her grandma?
Pleasant Company: Home of the American Girl DollsPleasant Company was founded in 1986 by Pleasant T. Rowland, a former educator and publisher of educational materials. The first dolls introduced by the company in that year were Kirsten®, Samantha, and Molly® According to their web site, Pleasant Company's dolls aim to enrich the lives of American girls by fostering pride in the traditions of growing up female in America and celebrating the lifestyle of girls today. Mattel, Inc. bought Pleasant Company in 1998, but Pleasant Company continues to operate as an independent subsidiary from its headquarters in Middleton, Wisconsin.