If you have a little girl, you probably know all about American Girl dolls … or will soon. These beautiful dolls were first introduced in 1986 when Pleasant Rowland, a former educator, founded Pleasant Company. Pleasant Company first produced and marketed three 18-inch dolls, each from a different period in American History: Samantha, Kirsten, and Molly. Each doll had a detailed story told in several accompanying books, as well as historically accurate clothing and accessories.
Eventually, eight “American Girl Collection” dolls were introduced, and recently, the some “best friend” characters have been released as dolls as well.
Samantha (1904), introduced in 1986. Samantha’s best friend Nellie was released in 2004.
Kirsten (1854), introduced in 1986.
Molly (1944), introduced in 1986. Molly’s friend Emily was just released in 2006, in advance of Molly’s movie premiere on television.
Felicity (1774), introduced in 1991. Felicity’s best friend, Elizabeth, was introduced in 2005.
Addy (1864), introduced in 1993.
Josefina (1824), introduced in 1997.
Kit (1934), introduced in 2000.
Kaya (1764), introduced in 2002.
Julie (1974), and her best friend Ivy were released in late 2007.
There have been three American Girls movies, “Samantha, An American Girl Christmas,” “Felicity, An American Girl Adventure” and “Molly, An American Girl on the Home Front.” The movies first aired on television and are available on DVD. It has been announced that a deal has been signed to make a movie about Kit which will air in movie theaters in July 2008. Abigail Breslin has been cast to play Kit. It will be made by the same production company that produced the previous AG movies.
The company also has a line of dolls made to look like little girls, with accompanying items that a girl today would use – soccer outfits and modern furniture. The line is called “American Girl of Today,” and also known as “Just Like You” dolls.
Dolls of the Year
The company has also released limited edition dolls, available for one year.
Lindsey – 2001 – A Jewish AG doll, she had curly auburn hair and freckles.
Kailey – 2003 – had blond hair and loved her boogie board.
Marisol – 2005 – a Hispanic American girl who loved to dance. This doll was wildly popular and sold out early.
Jess – 2006 – a beautiful blend of Irish and Japanese, the most unique looking of the American dolls.
Nicki - 2007 - shares the same Caucasian face mold as many of the other dolls and has long, brown-blonde hair. Her accessories include a dog, a horse, and an assortment of Western-themed outfits.
Mia St. Clair - 2008 - also has the "classic" face mold and beautiful auburn hair. Mia dreams of being a figure skating champion.
Be an Informed Buyer - Know What You Are Bidding On!
Be aware that some AG sellers on ebay are not entirely ethical, and sell fakes or otherwise mislead their buyers about their items. A big clue that a seller might be selling fakes is their location - if they are in Asia, look the listing over very carefully and compare photos of the dolls to photos on the AG website.
Another trick I have seen sellers use is listing the American Girl MINI dolls as though they are full-size dolls. Full-size dolls are 18 inches high, and originally retail for $80+. Mini dolls are about six inches high and retail for less than $20. Be sure you know what you are bidding on!
American Girl items are only sold through the company’s website, catalog, and at the American Girl Place stores (currently only in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles). There are a couple of outlet stores, and an annual tent sale is held in Wisconsin.
Sometimes sellers will sell dolls or other items marked with an "X". This means the item is a "second" and was acquired probably through an outlet or tent sale. Take a close look at the item and be sure to ask questions. Generally, the flaws are relatively minor, and a child would not know the difference - but be sure to ask the seller before you bid, and avoid disappointment.
Also, sellers sometimes acquire items at outlets that are not complete - A dress that is new, but does not have all the accessories that originally came with it (shoes, hair clips, and so on). Make sure the seller states what exactly is included with the outfit they are selling, especially if they are using a stock photo in the listing.
Quality items that work well with AG items – at a savings
American Girl dolls are now made in China, and tagged as such. However, the dolls were originally made in West Germany by Gotz (or Goetz), a very high-quality maker of play dolls and collector’s dolls. These dolls would be tagged West Germany, and sometimes have a white, rather than flesh-colored, body. If you are looking for a lower-cost doll similar to the American Girl dolls, Gotz’s Precious Day dolls can wear American Girl clothes. (When I was trying to decide if my girls would like American Girl dolls, I bought two inexpensive Gotz dolls, and they were such a hit, that we bought Samantha and Nellie from AG – now all four dolls play together and share the same clothes.) Other companies, such as Battat, make dolls the same size, but they are not, in my opinion, as nice quality as the American Girl and Gotz dolls.
One of the fun things about American Girl is their “dress like your doll” clothing – matching outfits for girls and dolls. Not only does American Girl make these sets, but several other companies make outfits sized for an 18” doll and sell them together with a matching girl’s dress. Some of the better companies that do this are Maggie & Zoe, Polly & Friends, and the very high-end and beautiful Strasburg (which also makes heirloom christening dresses). These outfits are often better priced than the AG label items and just as cute (in some cases, cuter)!
I hope you have found this guide helpful! Please vote yes if you have!
If you have any additional information that is useful, or you have a correction to any information above, please contact me and let me know! And a big thank you to the people who have already done so.