Secondly, I feel like the company is less about "letting your inner star shine" and teaching history, and more about appearance and selling things. Nearly every single outfit has some sort of pink in it, even the historical outfits. Plus, the quality (not to mention quantity) has gone down as well. Now, you can buy pants, a shirt, shoes, and a hair clip for $30.
(My mom made me pants like that for free! $30 is a lot for a plain shirt, and a plain pair of pants. I could buy myself a new outfit for that much money! Either that or 3-10 new books, depending on the thrift store/second hand bookstore)
Pleasant Rowland, who started American Girl back in 1986 did so for two reasons: One, because there weren't any dolls on the market at the time specifically for 8-12 year olds. Two, to teach history to girls of that age range on a personal level, through stories told by the point of view of eight-year-olds.
I love American Girls for their stories. I think that they are incredibly historically rich for the projected age-range, and even for older people like me. I feel like the American Girl company of today is more about selling the products of their My American Girl (Just Like You) dolls, than giving us wonderful historical dolls.
After all, they have retired two of the dolls that come from some of the most important time periods in American history.
I'm talking about Felicity, from THE WAR FOR INDEPENDANCE! The creation of our nation as we know it! Sure, her stories still live... But the doll and her outfits, the visual aids that go with the presentation, are gone.
The second doll I'm talking about it Molly McIntire. American Girl is retiring her within the next few months.
Molly comes from World War Two. Her stories, too, will live on... but I wonder, how many girls still read the historical character books? I'm sure lots do... But I'm also sure that a lot of girls would rather read the My American Girl books, and just play with the dolls.
Samantha has also been retired. She doesn't come from a super important time period in history... There were no wars or anything in 1904. But 1904 was during the Industrial Revolution. Things were changing. Edith Wharton was either writing or trying to get House of Mirth published... George M. Cohan was in New York trying to make it big... Debussy was composing... things were being invented... Women's roles were being questioned... Lots was happening. And Samantha's stories are a wonderful representation of that era. Every one who reads her books falls in love with Sam and her character.
So what dolls have "replaced" the historicals that have been retired?
Julie Albright from 1974 came out in 2008. I've never really been fond of Julie... Just because of personal preference. She's a rather simple-looking doll, with straight blond hair and brown eyes. Plus, I'm not overly fond of the face mold... I don't like the big-lipped dolls (an exception with the ethnic dolls like Josefina and Addy).
Plus, I'm not sure that 40 years ago should be considered historical... The 1970's certainly is an interesting time, and I did really enjoy Julie's books, and her collection is sooo funky. It's super cool. But, still... the '70's wasn't that long ago. Are they trying to say that my mom is historical?
Rebecca Rubin. I see her as Samantha's replacement. For one, she's from only ten years after Samantha - in 1914. Instead of portraying an important event in history, I believe that Rebecca's storyline deals with her Jewish roots, and her passion for theater... I'm not sure, I still have to read her books.
After Rebecca, Marie-Grace and Cecile came out. They are unique in that they are friends, but they are both the main characters in the books. I haven't read their books either... but I know that they live in New Orleans in the mid-1800's during the yellow fever outbreak. They are alright... Their outfits are crazy and represent what I know of New Orleans well.
The latest doll American Girl has come out with is the one I'm most happy about... Caroline Abbott. Though, like Julie, she is a rather plain-looking doll... her story is set during the War of 1812, a war that not too many people study a lot about. I thinks that's rather cool.
Anyway, a lot of that is my personal opinion...
On top of all that opinion and the expense of the dolls and their accessories, it slightly annoys me that the My American Girl's come with codes to put them online. What are they, Webkinz? (Although I think that Webkinz is owned by Mattel too... I'm not sure).
And the final part of this rant...
Do they even read the books? Kit is my main example. She doesn't like pink. She's a tomboy. She says in the first book that her mom redecorated her room in pink with frills, and she doesn't like it. She moves up to the attic when they open up their house to be a boarding house... She misses her room, but she doesn't miss the frills.
Yet, somehow, American Girl has managed to retire most of the outfits from the books, and replace them all with outfits from the movie (which I don't mind so much... some of them are cute). Of course, they also replaced the outfits with PINK clothes! On Kit Kittredge!
Look at this outfit:
It's pink, and it's lacy, and it's frilly. Not to mention it's kind of fancy for the Great Depression. Kit's family is barely making it, even with the rent from the borders. They have to sell eggs for a few extra cents, and Aunt Millie's thrift secrets help them lots (such as cutting toast into triangles to make bread last longer). Sure, Kit's mother could have made Kit this dress... but material probably would have cost money that the Kittredge family did not have.
And how about Kit's new PJ's and bedspread? They are both pink. I liked her old bedspread better... It was blue and shaggy, like something that the Kittredge family would have in the '30's. Her new bedspread is not only pink, but it looks like a comforter you could buy at the mall today - not something the Kittredge's would have, unless Kit somehow stole it out of her old room (right out from under Sterling and his mother).
Anyway... I'm going to stop ranting now. I still love American Girl, especially the books. So...
Live long and prosper!
(Woohoo, for Doll Trek!)