So what is it with these American Girl Dolls that has adults salivating at the mere mention of them going on sale? At a recent sale of ours in Montclair we had about 6 American Girl Dolls for sale and about 50 customers waiting in line to buy them. Sadly, for the other 48 customers the first two customers snatched up everything including the extra clothing so there was nothing left for them to buy.
I had no idea there was such a hot market for the AG dolls. So I started thinking what makes these dolls, as opposed to other dolls, so popular? Is it because these dolls have great play value? Is it because they are tall enough to be the size of a real baby? Is it because the doll accessories for these dolls are amazing? Yes, yes and yes to all of the above. The accessories for these dolls are too die for -- here is just a brief list of a few of the available accessories: Tea Tin Lunchbox for Samantha, an entire set of Nature Paraphernalia including a mini flower press and magnifying glass, for the Addy doll there is a puppet show or a gardening set, a pioneer school lunch, or a fishing set with mini bait for Kirsten, plus doll furniture is available for each doll, and let's not mention the great wardrobe each doll gets.
Moms and daughters alike discuss in detail about the different costumes they will make for their "babies". Many patterns are available to make outfits for the 18" play dolls 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).
To accentuate the cultish following of this doll the American Girl company produces a monthly magazine title "American Girl Magazine" with articles on the dolls and their owners.
So where do these dolls come from?
These 18" dolls went on sale in 1986 by the Pleasant Company. The dolls were created to emulate 9-11 year old girls of a variety of ethnicities. The dolls are sold with books that are from the viewpoint of the girls.
Originally the stories focused on various periods of American history, but were expanded in 1995 to include characters and stories from present day life. A variety of related clothing and accessories also became available. In 1998, the Pleasant Company became a subsidiary of Mattel.
Finally, another reason to love the AG dolls is that they are 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 big splurge, "collections" of dolls plus various outfits, accessories and furniture organized around the historical stories can be purchased for several hundred dollars.
These dolls are here to stay and I can only believe that they will continue to rise in value, especially the first generation of them.
Jill (aka Big Mama)