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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.