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