Friday, December 18, 2009

Something Wonderful

It's not often that a treasure such as a nearly mint White Body American Girl doll comes on the market. It's even more of a rarity for myself to become the proud owner of such an item. Nevertheless it has happened and she is mine!

The original red box and the rare paper ribbon which held the top to the bottom, book insert, pamphlet, and original hair style. Everything you could possibly want as a collector.
This particular White Body is Samantha Parkington. What's interesting about this doll is that she is a transitional doll. Transitional meaning that while she does have a white body - which dates her production from 1986 - 1990- the darker color of her hair indicates that she was produced closer to 1990, when the bodies were changed to tan. The earliest Samantha dolls have a lighter shade of brown hair.

Two White Body Samantha Parkingtons, The "transitional" Samantha is on the left with the darker hair. The earliest Samantha's had lighter brown hair (right).

Another excellent surprise was that this doll came with most of her original packaging. Everything but the piece of tissue paper that originally covered the brand new doll. The book insert is another collectible piece of packaging that originally came with the doll. The seller I purchased my doll from didn't know this and didn't make any note of a book insert. It was after I had won the eBay auction that I asked the seller if it was included. If other collectors had known about it, the price would have risen significantly.

On the left is a Samantha Parkington doll from 2008 - the last year she was made. On the right is an example of how a Samantha Parkington would have looked if she had been purchased from Pleasant Company in the 1980's.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why I Like American Girl

The two Samantha's eye this new red haired harlot with her scandalous two-piece swimsuit.

Recently someone asked me, "Why do you like the American Girls so much?". Believe it or not, I was puzzled. It's not that I didn't have a reason to like the American Girls. The problem was that I had so many reasons why I like them, I couldn't think of which to share.

In 1992 when I first was introduced to the American Girls collection it was still run by the original founder Pleasant Rowland. It was that fateful day, I was at a neighbor girls house and saw her Molly McIntyre doll sitting pristine, proudly displayed in its red box. Then again at my other friend Britni's house, I met her doll Kirsten Larson. Somehow I managed to find a catalogue at home and for months I agonized over having my own. I had chosen Samantha Parkington, she was the one for me.

I can't quite remember exactly how it came to be that I would finally get my own Samantha Parkington. It must have been the result of cleaning out the pantry some odd number of times and almost certainly a disgusting amount of begging on my part. Either way, Samantha came. I'll never forget filling out the order form. SDP - Samantha doll paperback book, this was the first code I ever ordered from American Girl. Over time I would end up with Samantha's : Lacy White Undies, Play Dress and Pinafore, Hair Care Kit, Nightgown, and Middy dress with matching boots.

I remember the day she came. I must have waited entire days looking out the window, because back then it took a week for the company to get the order and then two weeks for it to arrive. The doll was packaged with great care in a white box with silhouettes of girls playing on it. The box top was secured to the bottom by a maroon paper ribbon, with Pleasant Company and a picture of a girl reading a book with her doll by her side. For years Samantha never left my own side, and I remember proudly taking her to school. It was there that I convinced my friends, Allyce and Chelsea that they should have dolls of their own.

As time passed, Samantha and I spent less and less time together and eventually she lay packed away in a chest with Molly McIntyre. I had a Kirsten Larson doll as well, but once I made the mistake of taking out her braids she was sent back to Pleasant Company in exchange for Molly.

2008 came and American Girl decided it was time to retire Samantha Parkington as a character from their doll line. The news came as quite a shock and I scrambled to put back my own childhood collection. I fell back in love with the doll who had been such a close friend. The adventures and memories floated back, as once again packages started to come from the same address in Madison, Wisconsin.

I should probably inform you that the American Girls collection is split into two categories, Pleasant Company and Mattel. Pleasant Company was the original company which offered the dolls in 1986 and continued running the business until it was purchased by Mattel in 1998. It was when Mattel took the company over that many changes happened. Changes which might lead someone to believe that the newer products made by Mattel are of a lesser quality than their Pleasant Company predecessors.

In my quest for the ultimate Samantha collection, I discovered that the first dolls made from 1986 - 1989 were significantly different from dolls made in the 90's. Samantha had lighter brown hair that was long and curly - something that I noticed right away when I got my own Samantha. I remember thinking "Wasn't her hair lighter in the magazine?"- the dolls in the 90's had hair that was still long and curly, but the color of the hair was definitely different. Also for the first three years, the dolls were made with White Bodies. The white bodies had to be changed to a flesh color to accomodate Felicity's lower necklined outfits. Another big change was that the boxes the dolls came in was originally red, something I recalled from seeing that first Molly in her red box.

What I remember enjoying the most, was looking at the pages in the catalogue. All of the different scenes the dolls had to collect, were beautifully set up and displayed for any eager child to covet. Now as an adult I can finally collect all of the scenes, piece by piece to put together my own ultimate American Girls collection.

The difference between a white body Samantha and Mattel Samantha's hair is easily seen here. The white body doll has the longer, lighter, curlier hair.

A Large portion of my Samantha collection

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Woodland Christmas Tree!

The idea for a "woodland" themed tree came to me right after I had missed out on a delicious white body Molly, that was mint in the box.

Interestingly enough, Martha Stewart has a special collection of animal ornaments available from Macy's this year. It seemed fate that our minds would work together, and I knew this tree would be spectacular.

Settling on a color scheme, of moss greens, golds and browns I collected ornaments and ribbons for weeks and finally as tradition goes, Thanksgiving day I set up my tree. It turned out quite well, if I do say so!

My Favorite Ornaments are the Skunk and the Owls

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Garden Maintenance

Besides American Girl dolls, one of my passions is gardening. Whether it's indoors or out. I really love plants, trying to understand them and most importantly, making them grow. I'm lucky enough to have some boxes which I'm able to garden in freely and I have really taken to enjoying them. I thought I'd share some pictures of my herb garden box, and also what I've learned in the two seasons that I've been able to enjoy it's bounty.

It must have been late spring 2007 when I planted my herb box. I had been keeping an herb garden in pots and I had noticed that as the season progressed the herbs weren't doing as nicely as I had hoped. I knew that it was much better to put them in the ground and let come back stronger and better the next year.

The layout for the garden was simple enough. The box was square and I wanted the garden to look tidy so I planted 9 herbs. Three rows of three containing: 3 types of Lavender, A silver leafed and also lemon Thyme, a Spearmint, Sage, Oregano and creeping Rosemary. This year they all returned and I decided that I had enough room to increase the number of herbs to 13 with three new Rosemary Plants and one new Lemon Verbena.

The biggest change I've contemplated with the herb box is removing the Spearmint entirely and relocating it to its own container. I was readying the beds for winter, doing a little last minute trimming and weeding and discovered that the spearmint had sort of secretly taken over the herb box with its web of underground roots.

Luckily I think I got to the problem in time, and was able to remove most of the excessive root growth before it started to harm the root systems of the other plants. But now that I know this little booger grows with underground roots, I don't want the same problem to happen again next year. Which leaves the new problem of where to put this lovable pest? I'll let you know how that goes, but for now you can see how nicely the herb garden has filled in this year and also just how invasive the underground roots can be!

This box filled in so nicely, but it really is time for a trim, you can see how the thyme is starting to cascade over the edge of the box, but you can also see it's woody growth, not very attractive.

Nothing is more pestilent than underground roots, because you think you've got them all and them wham bam there's waaay more for you to pick. Look at how the roots just moved right over and tried to snuff out my beloved lavender (which I like more than Spearmint by the way).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's been a day.

Well, you might recall my excitement for a certain white bodied American Girl Molly, MINT in box, I might add. Well it turns out, sadly I was outbid in the last of seconds and did not win.

I should explain my eBay strategy. As soon as I find an item that I want, if it doesn't have a Buy It Now option I watch it in my Watched Items page, and patiently wait until the time comes to win it. Everything had gone as planned and the auction, which in this case was 7 days long, finally came its end. I just watch right up until the very last minutes of the auction. Truly the last 25 seconds. It is then that I put in my bid, and win (usually) the item. Sadly such was not the case this time.

This particular plan of attack leaves the bidder vulnerable for a few seconds at the very end of the auction. If someone else bids, and it's higher than yours... well it's almost impossible to rebound and win the item. This was exactly the case with me. As soon as I put in my bid, I was outbid. I scurried desperately trying to get in a higher bid, but it was already too late. And for a meager 5 dollars my coveted, beloved, white body Molly was gone.

The shock has yet to cease. At work I angrily shake the sanding sugar onto the blueberry muffins and still I search the pages of eBay hoping that maybe the winning buyer will pull out, or not pay up and she will become available once more. Sadly my searches have been in vain and I will eventually have to come to terms with the fact the Molly is gone.

Until the next White Body in Mint Condition with all of her original packaging comes up, I will sit and wait patiently and know that next time I won't be outbid

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Because of the rarity of some of the items I collect, it would be very difficult for me to have gotten them without eBay! Daily perusals are best if you have something that you really want, and finally it seems like a real gem has popped up

Enter the world of white body American Girls. The first ones, the best ones, from 1986 to 1990 before they released Felicity and had to change the body color because of her low cut gowns.

Anyway it seems like there is a NRFB MIB WB Molly McIntyre. Translation New In Box, Mint In Box, White Body Molly. Whenever I see the letters NRFB my mind travels to a memory where Dexter from Dexters Laboratory has mistakenly placed himself at a Doll Convention rather than the Star Trek convention he was aiming for. Anyone who has seen this episode knows what I'm talking about. It was a great representation of the crazy world of doll collecting!

Back to Molly, this one is all original, braids still shucked off at the ends and not dry. The earlier maroon box with the paper ribbon. Even the book holder to hold the book is there. No silver eye and it looks like the only thing missing would be the piece of tissue that originally hid the doll from the anxious recipient. Soon to be mine.. Hopefully!

This Molly was a 7 day listing, which wasn't fun because when you see something you really want, you have to wait 7 days to get a chance to win it. Finally though the seven days have dwindled down to mere hours and soon the battle of the bidders will commence. There has been little activity with this auction and I feel like the price will drastically go up in the last minute of the auction. However there is still hope, and I will keep you posted! Wish me well, and don't try to outbid me!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


It's no secret that I love the American Girls Collection, so I thought I'd put on my best Martha character and make this video to showcase the archived character Samantha Parkington, and the soon to be archived Kirsten Larson's school story. Plus there's a few little tid bits of information you might be interested to know.

p.s. Don't make fun of my editing skills, I don't claim to be a pro :-)

also, it has been very difficult for me to upload, this video, it has finally worked but the video quality isn't what I had hoped it would be, I'll keep trying to get a better version of this up

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Homeless American Girl?

It seems that one of the American Girl dolls has been creating quite a stir lately. Meet Gwen Thompson one of the side characters to Chrissa, the girl of the year 2009.

The Chrissa character was released with a special focus on "bullying" In the books Chrissa and her friends are constantly the objects of bullying by the other girls at school. But Chrissa manages to persevere and, much like the title of her book, stand strong.

It seems however that Gwen has fallen on hard times and is forced to live with her mother out of a car. Some seem to think the story is too real for children. Others think that the cost of the doll is too outrageous in itself.

I think that the American Girls Collection does the best it can to expose some facets of real life, in an age appropriate manner for its customers. It's true that the dolls have always been expensive. It's also true that if taken care of, these dolls will last for years to come. As a child who was lucky enough to get: Samantha, Molly and Kirsten, it would be impossible for me to put a value on the countless hours of play and adventuring that came with them.

Introducing a "homeless" character in the form of Gwen will introduce the idea of homelessness to young children in a much more understanding light. Especially with Chrissa's focus on anti bullying it's interesting to see that one of her friends would be in such a compromising situation. A situation that has no effect on the status of Chrissa's friendship with Gwen, it seems like in the American Girl world friends are there for you, no matter what. Wait, isn't that how it's supposed to be?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just My luck.

Since the news of Kirsten's retirement broke I decided to go into the vault and take a look at the girls. Currently they're all in a back closet where I keep dishes and other kitchen things I'm not using.

Well I was looking at one of the white bodied Samantha's when a rogue asparagus steamer fell from the shelf onto the floor. What I didn't notice at the time was that the steamer had first hit an American Girl box on its way to the floor.

What kind of box? A rare box, one of the red boxes that the dolls originally came in. Currently I only have two. One was perfect until today. The discovery was sudden, and shocking. I had heard the steamer fall, but it wasn't until I was putting Samantha back that I noticed a bit of a mint condition Kirsten peaking out through the newly formed rip in the box. Disbelief came, followed by intense anger and a slew of expletives that surely woke all of the American Girl dolls sleeping in their boxes. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. How could an asparagus steamer do this kind of damage, and of all the places and things to hit on its way down. Of course it would hit the perfect mint condition white bodied Kirsten with an almost perfect box to match. Luckily Kirsten was unharmed, but her box is ruined. I'm sure I'll never forget how it happened either.

Goodbye Kirsten

This picture sums it up so well. Farewell Kirsten! Your timeless beauty, looped braids, and heart of gold will live on in the hearts of those who were lucky enough to know you!

I wonder what Pleasant Rowland thinks about the retirement of the original core characters? Anyone know a way I can get in touch with her?

Well here it is, the official letter sent out by American Girl announcing Kirsten's retirement. Less than one year after the announcement of Samantha's retirement.

Looks like Kirsten's newer baking outfit will go quickly, as well as her Holiday treats.

It only leaves me to wonder, who will take her place? After Samantha Parkington was archived, Rebecca Rubin was introduced in January. Already Rebecca has led many to believe that with the new characters even more of the quality that American Girl customers used to love will be things of the past. For example, Rebecca's wig cap is much discussed in the collecting circles as it is significantly thinner than most of the other dolls wigs. It's difficult to pull it into a pony tail as the hair towards the nape of the neck really shows the makings of her wig.

Just disappointing, is all that it really is. Half of the fun of being an adult who had the American Girls collection as a child would be, the ability to buy your children the exact same cherished toy that you had so known and loved. Even though Rebecca Rubin is cute, and she does have an interesting collection I cannot say that I don't have a bit of resentment for her taking Samantha's place... well at least trying to take Samantha's place. I only wonder. Next year if they do retire Molly, what will there be for me to do at the AG Place store?

Monday, September 28, 2009

The beginnings of a new blog with news of the end of a beloved character. It's been speculated about which of the original three dolls would be next to be retired. Last year it was Samantha, this year it seems will be Kirsten's turn.

I discovered the sad news whilst on my daily web-browsing of the American Girls website. There it was, the heart mark of death, with the words "Soon, we'll say farewell..." I already knew what it meant.

After living through last years retirement of Samantha I already knew what I should do. Get the accessories. What little that you can. It's no secret that Kirsten's accessories have been shamelessly retired. Still it's important to know that last year the Samantha doll was backordered three times by Mattel before truly becoming unavailable. The accessories were backordered once, if not just let to be sold out. Leaving people like myself to places like eBay, where accessories regularly sell for double what you might have paid retail for.
Kirsten will probably be available through just before January, though her accessories will surely sell out in the coming month or two. While the news of this is still fresh it inevitably makes me wonder, when is it Molly's turn?