I read an article today that filled me with total delight: What Your American Girl Doll Says About the Rest of Your Life. I don't necessarily agree with the conclusions of the article, but who cares. Let's talk about American Girl dolls.
I had a Samantha doll for whom I purchased Molly glasses. I didn't particularly connect with the Victorian orphan's story, but she had brown eyes and brown hair like me, so she was in.
I had a variety of little outfits for my nearsighted orphan: a beautiful pink striped party dress, a navy winter coat with a snow-white muff, a crisp white summertime sailor suit, a stiff cranberry Christmas dress, and even a delicate nightgown.
photos from this American Girl collecting website
I read the little accompanying Samantha books too. They weren't particularly memorable aside from Samantha's birthday party, an elaborate affair featuring petit fours and home-churned ice cream, the latter of which is befouled with salt by evil neighbor Eddie. Not cool, Eddie. Not cool.
God knows what amount of whining I had to pitch for my parents to actually buy me some of Samantha's accessories. Anyone who is not familiar with the American Girl doll collection could not possibly believe how overpriced and useless these little trinkets are. I had a tiny doll (a doll for my doll!) and a tiny music box and a little brass lunch tin with a tiny plastic watercress sandwich and peach and a tiny embroidered handkerchief. But what really tickled my mom and me were the useless little kits.
I had two of these useless little kits. The Summertime Amusements set came with a tiny sketchbook, a tiny paint set with tiny tubes of real paint and a tiny artist's palette, and a tiny pine satchet that says "I Pine for You." This photo doesn't give a sense of scale, but the sketchbook is about the size of a business card.
Early 90s retail cost: $22
You thought I was kidding, didn't you.
Even more tempting was Samantha's Gingerbread House Kit, which came with impossibly small gingerbread pieces, a few tiny pieces of candy, a miniature pastry tube, and instructions for making the icing and assembling the whole thing.
Early 90s retail cost: $15
accessory photos from this alarmingly comprehensive American Girl dolls wiki
I'd beg and beg my mom to let me get into these kits and, I don't know, paint a teeny tiny picture in the sketchbook or (let's be real here) eat all of the stale component parts of the gingerbread house when my hammy little hands inevitably proved unable to assemble the tiny thing.
My poor mother. This was her:
Samantha still holds a place of honor in my childhood bedroom, all snugged up with my favorite stuffed snow leopard and a plastic Betty Boop doll who, characteristically, can't seem to keep her dress on. I guarantee that my mother could still put her hands on the still-pristine Summertime Amusements or Gingerbread Kit in five minutes flat if given the task. Guess whether or not she'd led me get into the kits if I asked her today.
So you can imagine my despair when I learned today that Samantha has been retired. Aw hell naw. But I am feeling grateful that my mom never let me tear into Samantha's accessories--I'll sell them on eBay one day to put my kids through college. Maybe it's time for a trip to Georgia, aka Doll Mecca, to visit Babyland General Hospital and then the American Girl Boutique and Bistro. Samantha can have a plastic watercress sandwich and get her hair did.
PS I have two relevant links to share: one which shares my sentiments exactly (and even makes a salty ice cream reference) and the first of eight YouTube videos of Samantha's movie, which I bet you never knew existed. In case you're wondering, yes, she does wear that sick signature checked dress in the very first scene.
Discussion Question: What overpriced silly stuff did you have as a kid?