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What Makes an American Girl Doll So Special?

Whats So Special about American Girl Dolls

Not only is the American Girl brand a collector’s item for young girls, but adults are also attracted to the personality and craftsmanship of these special dolls. Not only does each doll possess its own character, but many of the dolls also offer the element of a historical backstory that is equally as appealing. An array of accessories, books and DVDs are also part of the American Girl Doll collection, which combines creative play with educational learning tools.

The Pleasant Company is the brainchild behind the line of 18-inch dolls that originally set out to portray young females aged 8-to-11 year olds with their own storylines. These dolls are retired, archived, and sometimes brought back for a short time with new ones being produced on a yearly basis. The limited availability increases the value of the dolls, and makes them a more sought-after commodity. Amongst other things, the attention to detail and artistry that goes into creating the dolls also attracts collectors of all ages.

The BeForever dolls, originally referred to as The American Girls Collection or Historical Characters), have been released nearly every year with the objective to teach various aspects of American history. The dolls are accompanied by a series of books that are written from the point of view of a young girl living during the time period.

Examples of American Girl DollsThe personalities, stories and historical periods vary. Felicity Merriman is from Williamsburg, Virginia, and lives during the onset of the American Revolution in 1774. Kirsten Larson is a Swedish immigrant who settles in the Minnesota Territory, and represents the challenges faced during 1854. Samantha Parkington is an orphaned young girl raised by her wealthy Victorian-era grandmother during the early 1900s. Samantha befriends Irish immigrant Nellie O’Malley, who is also an American Girl doll of the same time period. Kitt Kittredge represents life during the Great Depression in 1934.

Girl of the Year dolls were added to the American Girl line in 2001, where an exclusive character became available for roughly one year until December 31 (or until supplies lasted). To date, there have been 13 of these exclusive dolls released with the latest one being Grace Thomas, in 2015. Shown below is Isabelle Palmer, who was the 2014 Girl of the Year doll.Isabelle - an American Girl Doll

The average cost of a full-size American Girl doll is $115.

To save money, careful searching may find brand new and gently used dolls sold on marketplaces (such as eBay) at a discounted price. However, beware of imitations and fakes when shopping outside of the American Girl stores and website.

American Girl Doll Accessories

The American Girl website is full of accessories made specifically for characters, as well as extras to enhance creativity and play with any doll. You can purchase clothing, furniture (such as beds, chairs, desks, and even bunk beds), books, and other items such as shoes, socks, companion critters, hair-styling goodies, as well as food and dining objects – like a popcorn machine. A sale section on the American Girl website offers a range of discounted accessories.

American Girl Accessories

Money-Saving Tip: Shop Etsy for American Doll Clothes.

Clothing accessories are a popular item for American Girl dolls, and while the retailer’s website is filled with options, artisan shops on Etsy also help expand a wardrobe with exclusive designs – oftentimes with less expensive price tags. The possibilities are endless, as dolls can be dressed in both historical and contemporary attire. Some artisans sell Disney princess-inspired dresses.

Handmade Dresses for American Girl Dolls by Jill Rodgers Designs

A few examples of American Girl doll fashions on Etsy include the dresses and shoes from Jill Rodgers Designs, including the Paris Eiffel Tower Ooh La La and the Stars and Stripes/ Red White and Blue dresses shown above.

American Girl Doll Gift-Giving Tips

When choosing an American Girl doll as a gift, take into consideration the interests of the child.

Ask yourself if there is a particular historic time period you think they’d gravitate towards more. Perhaps you’d like to gift a doll that represents a specific ethnicity, heritage or time period. For example, Kaya represents the Native American Nez Perce tribe living in the Northwest. She comes with a range of accessories that symbolize what it was like for a girl her age to live during 1764, such as a teepee, Pow Wow hair set, horses, and native foods, like dried salmon, berries, and camas roots.

American Girl KayaWhile the full-size Kaya doll and paperback book costs $115, you can also purchase a 6.5-inch mini doll that comes with a mini abridged version of the book The Journey Begins for $25.

Dolls that look like the gift recipient are also a hit. When one of the currently available dolls does not represent similar features, the American Girl company also sells a line of Truly Me dolls, which allow shoppers to pick the skin-, hair-, and eye color of a doll. Hairstyle features such as bangs or curls help with further customization.

American Girl Dolls Truly Me Line

Younger doll lovers (aged 3 and up) may enjoy a Bitty Twins doll set (shown below) which allows you to select girl/girl, boy/boy, or girl/boy 15-inch twin dolls as a gift. You can mix and match skin tones and hair colors. These dolls are made with soft cloth bodies; have eyes that open and close; and hair that can be brushed and/or styled.

Itty Bitty Twins from American Girl Doll Company

What do you think about the American Girl doll line?

About Yona Williams

In addition to being a freelance writer, foodie, art lover and book hoarder, Yona also enjoys researching and sharing the many different ways one can surprise or amaze loved ones with unique and unexpected gift ideas.

36 comments on “What Makes an American Girl Doll So Special?

  1. my daughter thought she was looking at herself!!

  2. I think they are beautiful dolls and a lot of thought goes into them. My niece loves them and is starting a collection of AG dolls.

  3. I have to tell you, one of my favourite stores to visit in Chicago is the American Girl store. I just love the huge numbers of dolls that they have. Different combinations: hair colour, eye colour and skin colour. So many choices so its easier to find one for your child.

  4. I have several nieces now and I think they would like these dolls!

  5. I love the American Indian girl. I would definitely love to get that one for my grandaughter.

  6. I think they’re beautiful adn often wish my girl was interested in dolls more. Sigh she blew through the doll stage way before I was ready for her too.

  7. We have an American Girl restaurant near us and it is SO popular. You bring your dolls to the table and they “eat” with you and everything. I would have loved that as a kid!

  8. I love American Girl. I have an Addy from back in the day and I like that they have a Native American girl now.

  9. We’ve had American Girl dolls since my teen was little, and now my 5 yr old is getting into them. I can’t wait to take her to the American Girl Store in a few months. She’s going to love it.

  10. Very cool to learn a little bit more about them – I can’t wait until I can get my little girl her first American Girl doll : )

  11. It seems like it’s the thing for little girls to have. I’d prefer it over barbies anyway. I like that you can customize the dolls to look like your child.

  12. I never got my daughter one when she was little – I don’t think I knew much about them back then but I don’t think it is too late to get her one now – do you? She is 21 almost. They are adorable and meaningful!

  13. I LOVED AG dolls when I was younger! I had three (Kaya, Molly and a ‘Just Like You’ doll.) I loved dressing like my dolls <3

  14. We are working on a Kaya puzzle this morning! Love the American Girl dolls!

  15. I had an American Girl doll when I was younger. These days, I have all boys, so I am totally out of the doll loop!

  16. We love American Dolls! I think it’s that you can make them look like you and they have long pretty hair.

  17. I had an American Doll growing up (back when there were only like five options) and remember absolutely loving my Samantha doll and all of the books. It’s amazing how many different options there are now, it’s perfect for a personalized gift for girls with an option that I’m sure would be similar to themselves!

  18. My daughter has an American Girl Doll and she loves it. One of the only dolls she has ever played with. She loves that she can brush and style the hair!

  19. When I was growing up, I always wanted an American doll. I thought and still think they are so pretty. I love the fact that they come with a book. It’s a great way to get girls reading and to love reading.

  20. My daughter got an american Girl Doll from her grandmother when she was little. She said when she was younger she didn’t have nice things and always wanted a nice doll. So when her grandkids came around she bought them all one from the store in Chicago for Christmas. They are very beautiful dolls!

  21. I always wanted an American Girl doll growing up but never got one. Reading this post I remember why I wanted one! I did read a few of the books though!

  22. Oh my goodness, these dolls are gorgeous! I’ve seen these dolls in the stores and you are right, they are expensive. It helps to search them on ebay first because you will surely find the same dolls at a more affordable price.

  23. I have a friend whose daughter just got the Grace doll. She got lucky that the doll of the year was a baker, it’s her daughters favorite thing to do. I think the dolls are super neat for any girl and I love that there are so many affordable accessory options.

  24. I never got to get my daughter one. They weren’t as available as they are now, when she was young. I heard they are fun stores, parties and great dolls.

  25. American Dolls are very cute, I have so many friends with daughters who rave about them and take special trips to get them. I see pictures all the time of them at the store getting their dolls. I have boys so I haven’t done much with American Dolls. They weren’t interested, but I enjoy seeing my friends kids play with them.

  26. Very thorough write up! I have never been inside of an American girl store. I may just pick one up as a gift this Christmas.

  27. I had an American Girl Doll when I was little, and if I ever have children they will also get American Girl Dolls! They are a classic kids collectible and toy!

  28. I remember receiving an American Girl doll catalog when I was around middle school age. I use to just spend hours looking through the catalog and wishing that I could at least own one. Mother was able to get me the stories of one the dolls that I really liked, but I never got the doll itself. I am glad to know that these are still around bringing joy to kids in this generation.

  29. My two granddaughters each have a set of twins and a single doll from me. Each Christmas they add more accessories to their wish list and I agree, shop elsewhere for clothes and accessories! I, fortunately sew, so have made them clothes!

  30. I have one from when I was a little girl. Mine is still in the box my mom refused to let me play with it and when I found out the price….I knew why. I think I am going to pass mine down to my daughter for decor and get her another one to play with soon.

  31. My girls don’t have any American Dolls but I’m thinking of getting one for my oldest girl who has a Birthday October 2nd. She keeps mentioning them when she sees them, they look great!

  32. My younger sister read all the books and had a doll. I do love that they teach something along with being a beautiful doll to play with!

  33. My girls both have a Bitty baby and I actually still have my American Doll from my childhood. We cherish them all!

  34. My daughter loved reading the books. My oldest son read some of them too.

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