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

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