American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Shimmery Gold Dress (2003)

Ring in 2014 with Tara and some shiny gold!
So we've got a day left in 2013, the first year in Western Year recording since 1987 that had four unique numbers in the date. We got Hanukkah near Thanksgiving, a government shut down, some terrifying terror and bright blessings and famous births and deaths, and personal deaths. We got Princess Twilight Sparkle, Equestria Girls, all new Monster High, new Pokemon released worldwide simultaneously, and that movie based on the Snow Queen in the sense that there was snow and a queen--and that had no influence on AG's plans for dolls, contrary to what stupid shit posts in my tumblr tags said.1 It's been a year of ups and downs and tears and joys and transitions, and I'm hoping that 2014 will be good as any year can be. 

In the AG fandom we got the year of Chiplote Mayo Artistry for our GotY--ugh--and stuffing Molly and Emily into the AG Vault--eh--and steady data that next year's Girl is another in the pattern of white privilege--fucking bells. I added two girls to my AG gang--both secondhand--and a lot of outfits and accessories. And also I started this blog and got my hands on almost every AG mag and every paper doll, and made lots of friends and a couple haters I keep to the left. 

I had debated doing the Year 2000 outfit today, but I may do it the first of the year. New, fresh start to the blog with an outfit old enough to sign up for sites all by themselves. Abbi and Naomi's sets have a lot of fiddly bits that we'll get into soon. And Felicity? Well book canon says she goes to her holiday dance on January seventh because long holidays were and are long, so at least by then. Don't rush me, I give you good detailed reviews, the least you can do is be patient about it.

So Tara is back again, in her own holiday set that doesn't belong to Samantha. I'm following silver with gold. Look at that, I'm far too clever. After Tara arrived in summer 2009, I needed to get her a holiday dress because everyone in the gang had holiday outfits and it was very important that I keep this fact up.2 So I started searching eBay and luckily stumbled upon the 2003 super limited edition dress, the Shimmery Gold Dress: a gold dress, cream tights, gold shoes, gold hair clips, a gold and rhinestone choker necklace that my set came without, and stick on earrings. The dress was more limited than most holiday items because it couldn't be ordered via catalog. It could only be ordered online from the website or picked up directly in AG stores. Of which there were exactly two, one of which--the NYC location--had just opened that year. And it was shut down in 2004. Limited as fuck. I paid $24.65 which is a touch above the original cost of $24. Damn last second snipe attempts. It can be found on the secondary market for about that range and up to about $40 for a full set--with of course, the stupid price hikes that come with a lot of AG things and that you shouldn't bite down for.

Let's get this New Year's partying started right.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Silver Belle Outfit (2008)

Otters doesn't mind if the celebration goes into January, and I don't either! 
So here we are with three days left in 2013--not including today--and the series on holiday wear continues. Because here the holiday wear will going on as long as I want, damn it, I do what I what to make things lovely.1 Plus, after showing you everything I've bought for holiday wear from AG, I get to show you all the pretty outfits I've made too. Cause I'm talented like that.

Now it's no secret that AG characters are supposed to resemble ten year old girls, thereabouts. The books almost always start before they turn ten, they turn as such by their birthday book or at some point, and by the end they are still in that not near teen range. The dolls back this up--no figure to speak of, and with very young looking faces. However, I keep my gang a little older than that--in about the eleven to thirteen age range.2 Yes, technically they should be hitting puberty at that edge and being more towards teens than girls, but I let some things slide for my gang. Plus, AG actually has good books for girls who are about to hit puberty and are like "why am I getting bumps and hips and freaking out about everything and feeling sexyfeels for other people and what do you mean every month?" It's better that making the dolls look or dress younger than that and being a creep. Yes, I have horror tales. Later.

In the AGGiB, Otters is one of the oldest gang members at thirteen and a quarter--the only one older than her is Kaya who's thirteen and three quarters. So she tends to wear more mature clothing--not too mature, but a little more sophisticated than the others. She almost never wears pink, and she doesn't wear ruffles, and she doesn't want floofypoof holiday clothes or flippy stuff. She actually owns a pair of black goth boots that no one else wears. She's goth-hippy-bohemian, which is why I'm amused when I walk through the store or look in catalogues or skim stuff on the site and see her in things like, for example, a cheerleader set. Her first year here I made her a holiday outfit rather than buying her one, because there wasn't much I liked for her in holiday wear. This was true for 2006 and 2007--I especially hated 2006's holiday set--and she wore the same set for her first two years. Then in 2008, AG came out with the Silver Belle Outfit--and Otters was like "I'll be taking that for me, thank you." And she's worn it ever since, with her curls pinned up just so and looking like the sophisticate she is. 

The outfit--with its punny name3--consists of a silk-and-taffeta dress with Chinese stylization at the bodice, heeled shoes, and two decorative hair sticks (and a short story in a book form because AG did reprints of short stories and little fact books before they switched to the charm beads). Original cost was $28; the set was, like most holiday wear, retired by the next year's season to leave room for the new sets. Since I didn't have a local AG store at the time, I still did all my ordering direct and ordered this in group that that also included spoiling Addy, getting the then-new meet outfit back when they were available separately,4 and jumping on more ballet wear for Marisol. Since it was only out for about a year, the secondary market prices are high in places but it's possible to get it for no more than $10-12 over the original cost. Short opening is short. Don't get used to it outside of Magazine Monthly--bringing it back next month. November threw me.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Clothes and Accessories Reviews: Kwanzaa Outfit and Kwanzaa Decorations (1996)

Joyous First Day of Kwanzaa from Shanna!
First of all, yes, I know you haven't seen Felicity, Naomi, Otters, or Abbi in their holiday finery--or any of the sets I've crafted, such as for Elizabeth and Charlotte. And you've already seen Shanna. But it hit me, as I was snapping pictures for the next reviews, that December 26th was the first day of Kwanzaa. And that I had the perfect outfit and accessory set to review that day. So I dug it out and the others are willing to wait some on their reviews to give this festival some focus. Because my gang is generous like that.

There's always the running theme that no one knows what the hell Kwanzaa is, or that it's not a "real" holiday because it came into fruition in recent history. Bull to the shit. We live in a world where you can Google who that actress who died after voicing that animated movie back in 1988and people are celebrating Patriot Day on September 11th which hasn't been around long enough to drink. So no. Stop being a brat and learn you a thing.

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration from December 26th to January 1st among the African diaspora, in particular among African-Americans in the US. It celebrates family, culture, community, and ties back to African culture and its continued influence on black people in a world that tried to stamp the culture out of us with every method possible. The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest;" Swahili was one of the major African Languages that got latched on in the 60s for black people since it is very African in a way many languages aren't. I tend to do my first fruits celebration on Lammas, but it made for a nice name for the festival. The holiday was developed by Maulana Karenga as an alternative holiday to Christmas, and first celebrated in 1966-1967 in the rising wake of Black consciousness, the rejection of whiteness and European supremacy, and part of the reaffirmation of blackness as beautiful and worthy of celebration. Many black people, rather than having the festival as a total Giftmas replacement, append it onto the holiday. Part of the purpose of and drive behind this festival is because most of the African diaspora cannot trace their heritage before slavery or the Slave Trade--a nice way to say "that part of history where Europe was full of a bunch of lazy motherfuckers who barged into North America, decided that since it was too hard to enslave the Native Americans to work like fucking animals because they either kept dying or running off and hiding, and thus decided they would just import Africans for the job and keep them enslaved for hundreds of years." Ahem. That's the femmenoir enrageous I have.

I have never really actively celebrated Kwanzaa. My mother would give us small gifts every day of Kwanzaa--things like earrings, nail polish, black heritage books, or my first wine cooler when I was fifteen--and we'd discuss the Nguzu Saba or the seven principles of African Heritage. But we were pretty private about it. (When I was younger, my family and I went to a First Day of Kwanzaa festival, but it was a poorly planned hot mess with no actual community so much as it was "watch the people of our organization talk and do things without integrating anyone else," and my mother doesn't like that, and so we never went back to another one.) We never owned a kinara and I still don't own a functional one, though that will change soon. As I said yesterday, several aspects of pan-Africanism--especially as misinterpreted to result in misogynoir and stereotypes--rubbed me the wrong way for years. I'm a little ashamed to say that several years ago, I was actively against Kwanzaa celebration. Partially due to this being pushed on me as the "Black Hanukkah" or the Black substitute to Christmas or people making fun of me for wanting to do so. And I was told that either I wasn't really black for not giving my all to every aspect of Kwanzaa, including the sexist, abusive, and homophobic aspects--and at the same time I was being "too" black by wanting to do any aspects of it.2 But I want to change that and start to celebrate Kwanzaa--I will probably be adding pagan aspects to the celebration--and so I'm starting that this year. Today's principle is Umoja, or Unity: wanting to do one's best to maintain and hold on to unity and connections among family, communities, and the diaspora. So I'm starting that unity with my AG Kwanzaa set. We all gotta pick it back up somewhere.

In 1996 AG, realizing that maybe a ballet outfit was not an exemplary holiday outfit for a modern historical unless we were all going to be writing stories about ten-year-olds dancing in the school performance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, released three outfits that actually were more holiday focused:  the Hanukkah Outfit (also called the Winter Festival Outfit and thus maintaining some neutrality for non-Jewish people), the Chinese New Year Outfit, and the Kwanzaa Outfit. Each had its own set of accessories and thus the Kwanzaa Outfit had the Kwanzaa Decorations. The Kwanzaa Outfit consisted of a headwrap, West African kaftan dress, beaded necklace, and leather thong sandals for a cost of $22; the accessories consisted of  the kinara (candle holder), seven candles, two ears of corn, a mat, the unity cup, three pieces of fruit, a woven basket, and a doll sized book for $20. Both were retired in 1999 and since then AG has not done anything cultural for Kwanzaa since. (As for Chinese New Year, there's Ivy's set and...that's it. [sarcasm]Wow.[/sarcasm])

My set was gifted to me by a buddy in 2007 with both the outfit and all the items except the kinara and candles at a good time as I was seriously trying to reconnect to the celebration even though I wasn't quite there yet; she found it on eBay and asked if I was okay not having a kinara and I told her I'd make one--which I did out of Sculpy and wire. At the time my nine girl gang only had Addy and Otters as my black girls--Otters having a white grandmother. So Addy chose to wear the set the first time as she agreed that it looks like what her great-grandmother from Nigeria would wear and here she is into pan-Africanism and the celebration of black culture. Edith joined Addy in 2008 but her historical period is literally just shy of the first Kwanzaa--her first book is set late summer 19643 --and so she didn't quite work to wear it, and by the time Mellie came along I was still in that wobbly period of not sure about celebrating Kwanzaa. But this year, Shanna and I decided to celebrate our heritage and I think this will be her set from now on.

Because people who list things on eBay can often be morons or don't research what they list--a good thing and a bad thing--this often gets labeled as "Addy's Kwanzaa Set" because Addy is the most recognized Black AG.The outfit generally shows up on eBay near retail with just the kaftan and headwrap, pretty frequently with the shoes and necklace, and often several of the accessories have been stuffed in as well with nearly no change in price or less than the original $42 a full set would have been--but almost never the kinara and candles, and if I didn't have images of it I'd swear it was a fantasy that they ever existed. It doesn't show up a lot because most of the AG collecting community is white or really bad about black things, and I'm actually not too irritated about it. I really hackles up about white people fucking up or messing around in Kwanzaa and being appropriative. It's our celebration. Not everything is for y'all. Some things white people need to just let us have, gods damn it. If we're willing to share with you, that's one thing, but stop looking in our bowl, you already have all the other jellybeans.

You can see white goop around the base of my kinara candles, which will be discussed and add a Crafting Creatively aspect to this post. This is because the kinara was made with non removable candles, I broke three, reglued them and reinforced the base with Tacky Glue, and at the time of my pictures the setting hadn't dried clear.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Historical Clothes Reviews and Historical Accessories: Addy's Tartan Plaid Dress, Ida Bean Doll, LE Mini Doll, and Sweet Potato Pudding Kit

Merry Giftmas, AddyWalker!
Merry Fucking Giftmas to all my readers, lurkers, lovers, haters, and hangers-on. And that's not sarcasm, that's exuberant joyful cursing.

Normally, I don't do back to back day posts, hence my holiday series reviews going to carry into January. It's stressful on me, and I get tired and feel like I'm flooding you with too much data. I always worry I'm going on and on about shit no one cares about when I get into The Doll Zone. But today is Giftmas, and Giftmas is very important to my AG collecting. Because, if you haven't read the story before or spent any time on this blog, let me remind you. Christmas Morning, 2005 was when I got my first AG doll ever after wanting one since I was kinda around eight or nine and falling in love with Addy when I was thirteen: Aduke "Addy" FirstArrival Walker.1 I was 25 years old, and my mother- and father-in-law2 got me her, her meet accessories, her nightgown with her heartwarmer and slippers, the hair kit, her work dress, and her Tartan Plaid Dress. I cried, people. I fucking sobbed when I got her and I'm not ashamed. I immediately changed her into the dress and she was so pretty that I swear she glowed in my arms. I cuddled her all day and eventually started snuggling in the bed with her every single night. Every year, she gets into her dress for the holidays. Even last year, when some shit went down through my family--the December after I got laid off that March--and I thus had a miserable, shaken holiday season , I changed Addy into her dress because she just has to get dressed. It's as much a tradition now as fucking around on the internet and staying up ridiculous hours. Addy is the leader of my gang, she is bossy and she is brilliant and she is cocky and better than your blond and/or blue eyed moddies and she doesn't have to share her collection with anyone except maybe her bestie Sarah because fuck you, that's why.

Yes, that's right, I started with one doll and one holiday set, and eight years later I have twenty-six gang members and enough AG holiday stuff that it takes a calculated effort to do the holidays and some people have to change outfits twice. Aw yiss.

The Tartan Dress came out the same year Addy did in time for Holiday 1993, and originally cost $22 but has since been bumped up to $28 because gas ain't less than a dollar anymore. And at the time, she also had
  • a holiday food craft set, the Sweet Potato Pudding Set for $16: cast iron spider, glazed  mixing bowl, spoon, faux holly spring, and recipe
  • a doll, Ida Bean, for $18 (originally $15)
  • and a craft set, the Needlework Kit and Lamp. for $18: Plastic and metal oil lamp, plain apron, embroidery floss, needle book with needles, wooden hoop, and instructions.
Everything else has been retired--the kit in 2002, the needlework kit and lamp in about 2005-2006, and Ida Bean just this year in 2013. But her dress still stands for the holidays. AG sort of wants you to want to get holiday wear for dolls, and so they almost never retire a holiday set if the historical character is still there to wear it.3 And I have almost every bit of Addy's Holiday collection. I got Ida Bean off eBay for $15 with shipping since the cost was cheaper than AG's costs at the time within months of getting Addy; since she's retired her price has almost doubled but I'm sure with patience you can get her for a good cost. I paid $75 for the complete, unused Sweet Potato Pudding Kit from private purchase in 2012 because Addy and I are spoiled absolutely rotten by my husband, and on eBay it goes for about that much when it shows up complete. My needlework set is a mishmash of stuff. I got the authentic apron from someone for about $10, I scanned someone's instruction book and needle book, I have so many needles I lose and replace them on a regular basis, and I took my ass to Joann Crafts and Micheal's and picked out embroidery floss and a wooden hoop for maybe 6 bucks in total. I just don't have the lamp.  But that will change when I finally focus on eBay and find a good knock off. So it's not going to be a review so much as a Crafting Creatively and adaptation.

Order is: Dress set, Ida Bean, Mini Addy, and Sweet Potato Pudding Kit. Of course I have the LE Mini Doll. She was the first I got, as soon as she was released. So this bonus? Is me showing some of my fancy cooking. I'm way too good to you.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Clothes and Accessories Reviews: Garnet Holiday Outfit and Coconut's Christmas Accessories (2001)

Kaya and Macro are excited for Christmas Eve!
I'm all bouncy today. After all there's only one more sleep til Giftmas! And Giftmas is one of my favorite holidays. I don't do much right now, but the tingle is there.

When I was a kidlet, I loved Giftmas Eve, and Giftmas Eve Eve, and pretty much counted down the days from the time winter break started to Giftmas--the day of presents and ham and visiting relatives and the joy of the day. My mom would hang our stockings next to the tree in front of the window, and we used to use that spray snow in the windows that got you a little buzzed, and throw the long streamer style icicles all over our eight foot artificial tree that we started setting up at the start of December. I liked making ornaments in school, and adding a new one to the tree every year. One year my mom made a fireplace with wrapping paper under the mirror in the living room since we didn't actually have one in our apartment and I had panicked that Santa couldn't deliver things. (After that, she explained that Santa just came in the front door while we were sleeping.) I used to have a holiday stuffed flat doll that my mom told me to make my Giftmas wishes to (one year all I wished for was ponies, and I got at least one--MLP Yay!). And Giftmas Eve was the best. I'd set the radio to holiday music at about eight p.m.--this was before I was totally burnt out on most songs--and I'd watch holiday specials and slurp down candy canes and stay up until that beautiful stroke of midnight, where we'd have Present Frenzy, and then regardless of the temp I would get out one of my holiday sweatshirts and wear it to my grandfather's house.1 I liked the plays--I was in a semi-nativity play once (I got to be a shepard with spoken lines and everything which was very important for six to seven year old me, and used my grandfather's cane as my crook), I used to perform or act with the school choirs (I was Vixen when I was acting for the Reindeer (w)Rap in 7th grade, and dyed old clothes deep brown to do it) and in fifth grade I got to play the ghost of Christmas Past in a retelling of A Christmas Carol (she was from the 20s). I still love Caroling of the Bells. I once went caroling with my college buddies. I have favorite commercials.2 The I just adore the season.

When I had a job, I didn't like Giftmas Eve. Sure I got off work an hour early, and I liked Giftmas as a day off with my husband. But I also had to go in an hour early, I had to go in the day after Giftmas regardless of it being a normal day off or not, and I had to deal with so much shit the day before and after. Mostly people screaming at me that because the (3)DS(i) wasn't turning on or the Wii wasn't reading discs or a point cards got messed up or whatever, I was personally responsible for their issues and yelling at me would solve them. I would sometimes come home crying. from people's nastiness.3 The bright spot was wrapping and giving gifts to myself, my husband, and my gang. But I don't work there anymore, and in the two years since I haven't the holidays have become happy for me again. And even if I don't wrap gifts for the Gang specifically anymore, I still get everyone dressed up. I'm sure I'm going to be one of those moms that decks the tree out and wraps presents and spoils my kids rotten. But I will not ever do the Elf on the Shelf. Fuck that shit. I know that there are people setting AG presents under trees to be opened and loved by people of all ages (hopefully of an appropriate age, at least). And gang members are getting in or already in their wear. Thanks to these reviews, I've gotten everyone except a few into at least the first round of holiday wear, and the two who didn't have sets before will likely be getting dresses cut out tonight or tomorrow. And everyone has special fancy wear, generally.

And then we get to Kaya'aton'my. Kaya, understandably, does not have special holiday wear. Her third book, Kaya's Hero, is about general winter giving. And this is only marginally. Kaya wasn't Christian by the slightest--she canonically had her own Native faith. But AG has only made one third book that hasn't mapped to the winter and that is because Marie-Grace and Cécile are splitting a year. So Kaya's "holiday wear" with AG is generally her Adorned Deerskin Dress, if you go by her LE mini. I have it, mind, and when I first thought about adding Kaya to the gang I was sure she was going to want to stay in her own clothes, because I was a historical purist with everyone.4 But when Kaya first arrived with Josefina in early 2007, I learned quickly that--while she loves her classic clothes, and I've gotten almost every one of them for her--she is not about that Braids Beads and Buckskins life, and we started putting her in modern stuff. We tried various things with her for Giftmas wear--the Adorned set in 2007, the Jingle Dress in 2008, and Otters' first set I made for her in 2009.  Then in 2010 I got my hands on the Garnet Holiday Outfit and Kaya claimed it as hers, and so it has been ever since. At the same time I got a good portion of Coconut's Christmas Accessories. And while I do have a Coconut, she's not really part of my gang because I prefer more creative pets if possible.5 And Kaya has her own mini-pet: Macro the mini buffalo. While buffalo are not part of the Nimipuu situation--she's not a Plains Indian, let's not assume all Native people are stereotypes--she loves Macro and Kaya is a net girl. So Macro it was, and he's our display instead of Coconut. Some people would say I hate white dogs as much as I hate white people, but that's not true at all. How could you say that? Some of my best friends are white. They're just not, you know, white. I don't even see them as white unless they do white things like kiss their dogs on the mouth, threaten to move to Canada every time politics don't go their way, cry when called out on racist thought, claim that a handful of characters of color are enough for fandoms, or oppress the shit out of me.

The outfit itself consists of a garnet colored empire dress with faux fur trim, white tights, and garnet velvet ankle shoes and was the Super Special Holiday Set of 2001 and so was gone by 2002--it even had the special Shiny Box. The official accessories--barrette, purse, and gift box with snowflake ornament--are not owned by me. Coconut's set came out the same year but stayed around til 2003; it has a body drape, reindeer headband, stocking, and snowman and candy cane (the latter two are Sirs Not Appearing in This Production since don't got em). Original cost was $26 for the dress and $14 for Coconut's gear. I got one set I'm sure in a private purchase off Craigslist with the Coconut set, and while I can't remember how I got my hands on two sets of the dress I am 100% sure I paid less than retail both times--in fact, I got it twice and gifted a set to AJ when I sent her Miss Mari. (When I love you, I give you nice things all year long. When I don't like you I throw hexes all year long.) eBay shows the outfit rarely, sometimes with the box, often with the stocking, rarely with the accessories, almost always in the $15-30 range which is pretty respectable. The Coconut set is almost never complete, and most of the time bits of it show up with the dress.

Bonus unrelated hair clips, because Kaya twists her hair up nice. No LE. That's for when I do the Adorned Dress.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Historical Clothes Reviews: Rebecca's Hanukkah Dress and LE Mini Doll

Marisol doesn't celebrate Hanukkah, but she does celebrate nice clothes.
Yesterday was Yule--which is my religious holiday as an eclectic pagan. The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, and many pagans celebrate with bonfires, holly and ivy, keeping the lights on, and reminding ourselves that though the darkness seems long and endless, from this day on the circle gets brighter and the days get longer. Celebrate the reason for the season--Our Lady of Darkness Persephone spending the winter with her husband and lover, Hades, in the Underworld.1

Among my gang of AG girls, I have a major pagan and her younger sister, a faithful Roman Catholic, several nominal Christians, A gang member who feels Episcopalian, and some that really don't give a shit about Christianity beyond the cultural influence. However, I don't have any Jewish or Muslim girls. I have a mild fascination with Judaism the same way I have one with Islam or Catholicism, in that I like to study and learn about faiths not my own. I already know enough about Protestant/Non-denominational Christianity, being raised in it partially, and eventually chose to make a deconversion in my 20s. I own a copy of the Tanakh and read it in college, and will probably read it again, especially if I eventually have a Jewish gang member. But I don't purport to know everything about the faith.

American Girl was pretty lackluster on the Jewish front for some time. At first all they had was a Hannukah outfit and accessories which, despite a reformation at one point, have hung on through the years--and been misused by many people.2 Then there was Lindsey Bergman, Girl of the Year 2001-2002 who had one book which mentions that her older brother is having his bar mitzvah. Her traits are more like what TV Tropes calls Informed Judaism: a marker here and there but nothing really Jewish, more Jewish in opposition to Christianity. Then in 2009 after the removal of Pretty Princess 'Mantha, we got her replacement: Rebecca Rubin, a Russian-Jewish girl living in post-Titanic era New York City. Rebecca wasn't just nominally Jewish: her family keep the traditions and so does she and while she is only one example of living Jewish in Eastern Immigrant America era, she does it in a lovely way. I did pick up "Rebecca" soon after she came out, but only to customize into another historical I had planned as she was the perfect look for the job. And since Marisol Luna--my pretty Latina dancer--had started to find a love of early 1900s clothes, I gave her Rebecca's meet wear and started getting Rebecca's clothes for her here and there. Rebecca feels a major level of awkwardness in the US and the pressure to assimilate to the dominant faith by her peers. One of Rebecca's books that best show her discomfort is Candlelight for Rebecca, where she and her classmate Rose try to explain to the teacher that they don't want to participate in making Christmas decorations, but are told by the teacher that since Christmas is a national holiday, everyone celebrates it, and thus pushed into doing things that don't make her feel right or comfortable.3 Rebecca's grandparents assure her that she is free to feel discomfort and not want to do Christmas things, because Christmas is a Christian holiday, and tell the signifigance of and celebrating it in America freely, and it all works out for her.

For Hanukkah, Rebecca has a dress she loves wearing for the holidays, and it is quite relevant to her stories. Rebecca's Hanukkah Dress consists of a a purple striped dress with white sleeves and collar, a woven embroidered hairbow, cream tights, and cream shoes; the set was released the September after her release and just in time for the holidays. The current cost is $32 direct from AG--it was $28 when it came out, but costs rising and all. It's on eBay, and most of the prices are not a good one. Why are you on eBay for this? Just buy it from AG. I paid Gift for it--that is, in a holiday swap this was gifted to me.

Since I don't have Rebecca, Marisol Luna will be modeling Rebecca's wear for you, but they share face molds so it works. Marisol would have had three clothes changes, but Tara and I came to an understanding. My Marisol is a lot like book!Marisol, with the noted traits here of being a little ditzy, a touch snippy, allergic to chocolate, in love with Disney princesses, and beautiful with languages. And also being Felicity's first crush here, because she looks like a Latina version of Felicity's Dear Elizabeth. Like the others, this review contains LE Mini Rebecca.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Ice Blue Outfit (2001)

Ice Blue outfit on Michi for ice days.
It's rare that I get or have had a white Giftmas. Southeast Texas don't cotton to your snow falling bullshit most of the time, and up here in Seattle it often snows but not around Giftmas. And I used to hate it when it snowed worth a damn any time between the fifteenth of December and the fifth of January because while the man had the week off between Giftmas and New Year's most of the time, my black ass had to be in to work every day I was scheduled unless it was so shitty that they shut down CS. And the day after Giftmas was always scheduled, and there was no getting out of it because we had to deal with every asshole who got a Wii or DS for the holiday and was coming to yell at us because it didn't come out of the box shitting perfect rainbows and we had ruined the entire holiday.1 Customer service for Nintendo, oh god. I have horror stories.

But enough about my ex-job flashbacks. Because it snowed today! And I react the same way every time: Oooo pretty let's go out in it oh god it's cold who told me snow was cold fuck this shit I'm going inside. Think a very excitable cat who has to be reminded physically that the white shit that falls from the sky is not sand. Today's snow didn't stick too much, and then it rained which means ice which well, fuck that. Hopefully if it sticks a good level later on, I'll put someone out there in the best winter coat set I've got and snap pictures.

Which segues into the outfit I'm doing today: the Ice Blue Outfit. This set was one of the first Mattel holiday sets, released in 2001 and not retired until 2003. The set consists of a blue wrap sweater, silver overlay circle skirt, tights, silver Mary Janes, and silver hair clips for $24. It shows up here and there on eBay and tends to get lost in the shuffle of ugly homemade blue outfits and ice skating dresses, and while there's always some dumb spikes it actually goes sensibly for less than or about original retail--the $10-25 range. I got it for $15 in that nice post holiday lull, partially because it had a couple little flaws. Seriously, you want things off eBay, start searching in that post holiday slump, when people start scaling back after blowing the end of the year loads.

This set is being shown off by Michi. Michi got here at the very start of the year. I'd wanted a girl like her in my gang for some time. I was nosing around eBay and saw her for a very low cost and in an outfit I didn't have just yet, and picked her up with no regrets. Veronica Michiru Taylor is half black and half Japanese--black mother, Japanese father. She likes to organize things, read books by Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein (absudish children books are the best), 30s and 40s era wear, traveling, and the thrill of performing the stage.

Mine was a little cheaper because it had no hair clips and some flaws that I was willing to fix up because fuck skipping broken shit I'm a seamstress. I'll point out these issues. The ponytail holders don't originally come with it. But they match so there. And while it greatly resembles the Frosty Party Outfit I reviewed earlier, remember this came first. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Historical Clothes Reviews: Samantha's Cranberry Party Dress and LE Mini Doll

Holiday Party Time with Tara Johnson!
Holy Baby Mithras, it's a week til Giftmas. Last minute purchases abound. If you haven't ordered it online, it's not going to get there before the holidays unless you rush that shipping.1 If you haven't got it in the store, you might not get it cause the shelf could be cleared out. And if you didn't get Molly and Emily before they sold out, then hie your ass to eBay cause they're gone, and their stuff with em. Play Taps, y'all. This is why, if you are sensible like me, you make all of December and the first two weeks in January extended holiday gifting, so that if things don't get there day of, everything isn't spoiled.

As I said in my complaint department about Molly and Emily heading out the door, while they won't be available from AG direct there's ways of getting your hands on stuff post retirement. Molly's second ed Floral PJs and Yellow Bed might be a little harder since they were only out for a year. But the stuff that had been out since 1986? Take your time, you'll find a bargain. I got a lot of the Samantha stuff I have for my gang post retirement. Like today's review.

The Cranberry Party Dress --also known as Samantha's Christmas Dress--was released with Samantha Parkington back when she was released in 1986 along with her meet stuff, school dress and supplies2, and extra holiday gear--all fresh and new for 1986, ready to become the icon of American Girl for the next decade and a half. The outfit came with a red slightly high waist (for the fashion) dress with lace trim, ribbed white tights, and one of Samantha's signature ribbons to tie enormously into her hair--this one white with v-cut ends. Purchasers were expected to use Samantha's meet shoes with the set. When Mattel took over, they changed the ribbed thicker tights to thinner, white generic AG tights. The original cost of the dress was $20; as inflation costs rose, the dress went up to $22 before being retired in 2008 with Samantha's archival. I got the dress--a PC version--in Spring 2009 in a private sale from a friend. I think it was about $20 for the dress alone. I originally had plain white tights from buying Samantha's Shoes and Socks set, but at some point I got the ribbed white tights from a private gift before I was message board destroyed. The shoes came with Tara--our model--back when she first arrived, and the hairbow is my own doing, a long length of wide white ribbon cut just so. On eBay prices range from $10 to well over $50, though the average selling price is about what it was for retail with maybe $5 over. 

A bit more about Tara: Tara Johnson was sent to me by a buddy as a gift back in September 2009 to join the gang. She arrived in a homemade dress, with Samantha's meet shoes, black stockings, and bloomers, with her hair in four awesome hair wraps and needing a set of glasses and a good bath. And while she does look like a PC Samantha, she will adamantly inform you that she, madam or sir or miscter3 or neither, that she is not Samantha. She almost didn't put this dress on, in case anyone wanted to get bright ideas about calling her so. But when I explained that it wasn't fair for Marisol to have to do three clothes changes for the holidays--Marisol being my go-to-model for Edwardian and Titanic Era wear--she grudgingly said she'd put the set on. But she will only wear Edwardian clothing if she doesn't take off her glasses, lest you mistake her for anyone but her nerdy, steampunky self.

Do note that there will be two tights reviews, along with the bonus of Samantha's bloomers, meet shoes, and the LE Mini Doll. And that most of the pictures are taken with the plainer tights. Damn it, Samantha.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Clothes and Accessories Reviews: Purple Party Outfit and Holiday Accessories (2012)

And then it was only nine days til Giftmas, said Shanna Peters.

So one of the well known traditions of the holiday season across the USA and some parts of the world is the performance of the Nutcracker Ballet by Tchaikovsky1. We all know the plot thereabouts: A girl named Clara is given a nutcracker as a gift by her uncle for Christmas, she is attacked by rats that night, the Nutcracker saves her from the rats and transforms into a hot dude, they go to a land of treats, and then she wakes up and it was all a dream but it's one so good she wants to dream more. And we get to see nice dances and hear iconic music like the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Waltz of the Flowers. Fun fact about me regarding Waltz of the Flowers: when I was in third grade, the school's music teacher was a decent one who didn't just make us sit and listen to songs and actually tried to teach us some about music appreciation. He taught us how to ID the parts of the song using imagery, specifically this one. So I hear-see the iconic music in a set way2:

Exposition: Flower, fountain. Flower, bigger fountain. Flower, huge fountain.
Part A:  Flower, bird, flower, bird, beehive. Flower, bird, flower, bird, beehive.
Part B: Willow tree, fish tank, willow tree.
Part A:  Flower, bird, flower, bird, beehive.
Coda: BEEHIVE, bird, Flower, Beehive, Bird, Beehive, Bird, FLOWER. (I tend to get the end wrong in chunks, but I know it ends on a flower.)

All that above was to transition into the fact that today's set has bits around the Nutcracker Ballet: I am reviewing the Purple Party Set. This was the fancy set for 2012, and thus had the accompanying 2012 Holiday Accessories.3 American Girl, in an effort to make my life confusing as hell when I'm doing Wiki work, has named the accessories that go with the year's Fancy Holiday Set the "Holiday Accessories" the same damn thing since 2010. So they have to be marked with the years. Bastards. The dress set comes with a purple and black dress, black tights, purple flats, and a purple and black headband; the set is finished off in the accessories with a black jacket, silver bracelet, toy nutcracker, and two tickets to the ballet. The dress set originally cost $36, with the accessories costing $32, so a grand total of $68 dollars. Steep. I paid the full cost for the dress set buying it direct from AG Seattle, but passed on the accessories at the time because of cost and personal circumstances. This worked out for the best because, before they were officially retired, they were sold for only $9 on AG's site in a clear out and I got them then. Success! On eBay they go for about $40-55 with a complete set, including accessories. Be warned, you'll have to surf through a sea of some off brand and homemade shit. "Purple Party Dress" is not exactly a unique name.

Today's model is Shanna Peters. Last time we saw Shanna, I didn't go into many details about her directly. We'll get a lot more on her once I start running what I'd like to call Better Know a Gang Member, but some quick touches. I got Shanna in July 2012 from the AG store right after she was released--she was way too cute to pass up, with her curly curls and all. She was the only girl I got in 2012, what with having just been laid off, but she had to be mine. She wear glasses and so is part of the Glasses Brigade with Tara, Abbi, and Mellie. But she's actually even more unique among the Gang.

Bionic ears, baby.
Shanna has partial deafness in the left ear and total deafness in the right, and her Bionics--aka her hearing aide--helps her hear somewhat. She still signs as well, though, and has been teaching the rest of the group sign language. Her hearing aide directly from AG was pink and white, but one can of silver spray paint later and it wasn't anymore. She likes gymnastics, art--looking at it, not doing it--photography, and music--even if she doesn't hear it as much as others, she adores it.

On with the review.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Frosty Party Outfit (2011)

Sonali does the holidays with witchy goodness.
Even in a state of major transitions--explanations later--I am trying to get a Holiday Review post done every other day. If I don't we'll be looking at holiday reviews until Valentine's Day, and I'm doing my best not to do that to y'all. I still would like to add a Magazine Monthly/Crafting Creatively/bitchy rant post in here to mix things up, lest this whole month be holiday gowns and skirts and the like. But even if it was, it would mean that things will be more random later on. Some of these will be really short cause they only have a few components, and some--like Felicity's Holiday wear--will take a time to get through. We'll see where I am in a few weeks. Enough talk. Let's review.

As I said in the past nowadays there's a trend to the Holiday sets: The Fancy Dress and Accessory set every year, and then the Second Kid of Holiday outfits--the one that comes complete and doesn't cost as much, but also doesn't get as much of the cover spotlight as Fancy Set. A lot of times it ends up with a blue, gold, and/or silver component, because this way it's suitable for Generic Non-Red Holiday Festival.1 It also goes on sale at a clearance at some point and only makes it through one holiday before being thrown onto the retired truck. I've got a couple of these, because if they come in blue I adore blue; it's my absolute favorite color. And a good simple outfit that doesn't require the coat and bits to be "complete" is always a plus when one is AG collecting like I do.

One of these many, many Winter Generic Holiday Fancy Sets is the Frosty Party Outfit, which was released in 2011 and officially retired in 2012. The complete set has an ice blue knit sweater with embroidery and sequins, a silver crepe skirt, silver Mary Janes, and a silver headband with a bow. The original retail cost was $36 dollars, and on eBay it generally doesn't go for more than about $25-$35 even two years out of retirement. This is because it went on sale on Cyber Monday 2012 for only $18 complete--and that is when this bitch picked it up. Less than $20 for AG clothes? Hell yeah, boy.

Sonali Patil-Matthews is rolling through in this set for you, because it's simple and blue is one of her favorite colors. And while it's not Blue and Bronze like her mother's Hogwarts House,2 alas, it's nice enough.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Historical Clothes Reviews: Cécile's Special Dress and LE Mini Doll

Joyeux Noël from Cécile Rey!
So as you've noticed, every other day brings you a new holiday review. Because not only do moddies all have holiday outfits left and right, so do the Historicals. This is because all the historicals ended up with some sort of holiday in the winter to have them have something specific for parents to look at and go "That's the holiday dress! Put them in it!" thus making holiday shopping easy as fuck. Kaya got Generic Winter Giving Holiday with her adorned dress, Kirsten initially mixed it up with St. Lucia's Day and a wreath1 and Rebecca holds down the entire Hanukkah front. Julie got Chinese New Year even though her entire collection focuses on the incredibly awkward holiday tea with her father. Every historical at least skimmed near the winter holidays at some point--or faked it, as the case is with Kaya.

And then along came Cécile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner, two girls over six books. Because heaven, the Summerlands, and the Gardens forfend they just, you know, give a black girl her own series without her white companion. People might mistake her for Addy or think she's worthy or something. (I really wish Marie-Grace had been left out altogether, or demoted to Best Friend.) Their six book split doesn't even dance near the holidays, what with focusing primarily on the 1853 yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans and the fallout of that as it affected their families and lives. (There is a mention of Christmas in the start of the books, as it is post holiday season--what with their new fashion of the Christmas tree--and then at the end of Book 6.)

While Marie-Grace is boring to me, I adore Cécile. Cécile Rey is a rich black girl in 1850s New Orleans--much better off than Marie-Grace. The fact she is really got some white collector's bloomers twisted because Cécile is black, free, rich, and friends with a white girl. And the way they teach history in this country is so shitty, spotty, and whitewashed that there are generations of people who claim to be educated but believe that black people before 1865 were all slaves and that rich black people are historical anomalies or unrealistic and they certainly would have never been friends with white people lest they be turned into slaves by proxy or something. As Cécile spits at the American idiots in the candy store, she is gens de couleur libres, or a free person of color. Free blacks were not only in New Orleans but everywhere, and have been since the start of the US. Don't go saying stupid shit. She's a goddamn smartass and her first bold act in the books is to basically say "fuck you whitey, don't think you're better than me, I'm free black and if you insult the wrong people in this town we will take your white Américain ass down to the motherfucking ground." Ahem. Go girl.

Still the two girls needed fancy dress. So the two got "special" wear, which can pretty much be considered their holiday wear. Marie-Grace got her Party Outfit, and Cécile got her Special Dress: a set consisting of a red patterned ribbon trimmed dress, white pearl necklace, and matching velvet hair ribbons. Technically she doesn't wear this for the holidays; she wears it when she recites a poem at a benefit for the orphanages in the city in the wake of the yellow fever epidemic. But AG pimps it as holiday wear and holiday wear it is.

As soon as I saw Cécile I declared that she must be mine a la Igor from Dork Tower. I originally had planned to pick her up day of but then they tossed in a preorder bonus of a small set of paper dolls, and I decided that was better than having to go pick her up after work on a Tuesday. Tuesday, when I was working, was my Monday and thus my most bitchy of days and I didn't want to have to cuss a motherfucker out. Cécile got here about a week after official release; I preordered her, every outfit available for her at the time other than the Masked Ball wear,2 and then went to AG Seattle and traded in the single book for the six book series and got to reading and all that. The Special Dress cost $28, and still costs that much except for sales. For some reason it is currently not available off the site at the time of this writing, but I suspect that it will go back into stock and not just be abruptly retired out of nowhere. Shit, it better not be. On eBay it appears to be going for less than that, likely because of all the sales MG and Cécile have been having on their collection. I'm sure it might stay there on eBay, barring this temporary sell out being a total retirement whereupon the prices will jack the entire fuck up. 

The double proof that this is her holiday wear is that it's what her LE mini doll is wearing when it was released--though, since there was no holiday book, her mini book is an abridged copy of Meet Cécile. There was a mini book with every LE, and yes I have them, and no, I'll discuss that when I discuss Mini dolls and not a blog post before.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Historical Clothes Reviews and Historical Accessories: Kit's Christmas Outfit, Aviator Doll, and LE Mini Doll

Merry Christmas from Kit Kittredge!
There are no major holidays today. Well, there's a feast day for a saint but I'm pretty sure there's a feast day for a saint every day of the year so we're going skip most of those for sanity's sake. Instead we will talk about traditions, briefly. Everyone has one or another for the holidays, even if they don't say it. Some people throw the tree up as soon as the turkey is cool, some wait til the first of December, some wait until a week before. Some get the tree out of the house as soon as everything is over and some wait til the first. Some people insist on Christmas morning in pajamas, or not opening presents before the whole family is there, or opening in semi-private. Some do new pajamas on Christmas Eve. Some let the kids tear through everything first before the adults, and some go around in birth order and one at a time until everything is open. For years, we opened everything at midnight, had a blast until about two in the morning, went to sleep, woke up, and then went to my paternal grandfather's for Christmas dinner and gifts and all that stuff from them. And by the time I was six or so, I recognized that the toys and gifts from "Santa" were the ones from Toys from Tots, because I grew up poor enough to qualify. That's why, in part, I try to donate to them every year--and try to do something name brand. People who do the cheap, off brand toys because they think poor kids don't notice are jerks and should choke on a stocking.

Nowadays my traditions consist of remembering to put up the tree--this year there's only the tabletop one, since I'm in a transitional phase--my husband and I hitting up Cyber Monday Sales to get TV series we like on the cheap, and me blowing about a hundred or so bucks on AG's Cyber Monday because half price AG stuff is the goddamn bomb. I'll probably make more when I do finally sprog out, but that's pretty much how it's going. Yes, I'm going somewhere with this. Let me babble.

Kit Kittredge had her own traditions too--Christmas waffles, lighting up the tree, and her mom and her going out with Ruthie and her mom to downtown Cincinnati for the whole the day after Christmas and going to lunch at a fancy restaurant and a show. She was thrown for a loop during the course of her books because of the impact the Depression had on her family--for one, the power bill was hard to pay, presents were scarce, the phone bill wasn't even paid, and there were borders in the house. And she was pretty pissy when Ruthie's solution to "I don't have a new dress to wear on some fancy date with you, baby, I got real problems" was "How about you wear my old one from last year and we'll pay for the whole date?"1 And rightfully so, because Kit's issues were deeper than a new dress, seeing as they were looking at eviction. But, like AG books often do, everything was wrapped up nice by the end and she and Ruthie kissed and made up and gave each other gifts and were back together at the end--and then in Really Truly Ruthie Ruthie, not wanting her girlfriend2 to lose her house, went on the train to Kentucky and got the money from Aunt Millie. On that note, fuck Uncle Hendrick's rich old selfish ass. Selfish people like him are the reason we're in the shit we're in right now. But politics. Anyways, after they make up, Kit accepts the red dress as hers, and she and Ruthie still go out on their date the next day.

Margaret Mildred "Kit" Kittredge was released in 2000, the first Mattel released Historical. So if you ever hear someone talking about how AG was so much better when it was PC and all characters after Mattel suck, and then claim that Kit was a PC character, they're a stupid moron and you have my permission to throw mini dolls at them until they shut their face. I actually was very reluctant against Kit because eh, blond dolls are so not my thing. But then I read her story and warmed up to her because if there is one thing I can ID with from my childhood, it's wearing old clothes and struggling to pay bills and threats of evictions and people thinking their charity is accepted when it's half assed or really condescending as fuck. I ain't too proud to beg, to modify the meaning of the TLC song. But some well-to-do-people think anything they give you is to be appreciated because they were generous enough to give anything at all, and that's how you get pumpkin pie filler and endless rice along with mock-Barbies with cracked legs and yo-yos that break four minutes later. But I digress. Kit joined the gang in 2007 when I moved to where I am now--her last family left her behind, and when she saw the new folks moving in also involved people her height, she became part of the recently renamed AGGiB.3 Here, she's what I call a 50% Modern--she bounces back and forth between her 1930s clothes and modern clothes, and likes a computer over a typewriter. So--even though they wouldn't be Wiki refs--you might see her in a modern set here and there.  What can she say? Jeans are nice.

Like Josefina before her, Kit's Christmas Outfit (or Kit's Holiday Outfit, because she technically wears it post Christmas proper) was released with her Fall 2000 along with her first three books, so that you could have her all cute for the holidays--and like Josefina, I ordered her holiday wear in 2007 so she could look her very best for Giftmas in the new place. The set consists of the red dress, a red polka dotted hairbow, white net stockings, and black t-strap shoes. Originally, the Scottie pin was a separate piece, but now it comes as a button permanently attached to the dress and that's the version I got. Or, it was attached. You'll see. I paid $24 dollars for it but, again, prices rose and the cost is now $32. Unless you've got a hard on for the Scotty pin with the magnet and can't mod it yourself--and it's really easy to do if you're not incompetent--there's no reason to bother with eBay. It almost never shows up with everything, and most of the time it's just the dress. Don't do that to yourself. Order the dress from AG.

Fun fact? Every AG character had a unique letter in the ordering codes before a revamp in about 2007. And they were really easy to break down when, if you were anything like me, read the catalog voraciously. For example, Josefina's Christmas dress had the code "JCO"--Josefina Christmas Outfit--and Addy's Lazy Susan Table and Chairs was "AF" - Addy's Furniture. Since Kirsten already had a monopoly on the letter K, Kit got "Q". Told you Kit was bisexual--she's queer.

This review will also include the Aviator doll and--like Josefina--the LE Mini-Doll.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Holiday Bibs Outfit (1998)

Holidays: Now with Mellie Croom!
Are there any major holidays on December 8th? *wikipedia* Yes, there is! It's the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Contrary to popular mistakes, the Immaculate conception is not when Mary got pregnant with Jesus, it's when St. Anne got pregnant with Mary. According to Catholic faith, in order for Jesus to be born holy, Mary had to be conceived without Original Sin--that thing going all the way back to Adam and Eve that makes humanity unworthy of Heaven. And since the Nativity of Mary is September 8th, the church just went nine months back (or three months forward) and say she was conceived by on December 8th. It's also Bodhi Day, or the day historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautauma, awakened and found Enlightenment. This was discovered in three parts: the cycle of rebirth, or Saṃsāra; the Law of Karma and the importance of living by the Eightfold Path; and the Four Noble Truths, finally reaching Nirvana.

Not bad for a eclectic pagan, huh?

Today, we'll be covering an outfit that I adore. The Holiday Bibs Outfit was one of the earliest non-specific holiday outfits released by AG in that transition between Mattel ownership and Pleasant Company, or PC. As...interesting as Ballet Outfit I was, it wasn't really holiday wear. In 1996 Pleasant Company seems to have realized this and came out with cultural holiday outfits and accessories (The Kwanzaa Outfit, Chinese New Year Outfit, and ever so creatively named "Hanukkah Outfit") along with a recital outfit that wasn't really holiday, and none of it came with matching child sized wear. Finally, after the completely lackluster doings of 19971, more holiday wear came out in 1998, and the Holiday Bibs Outfit was one set in this offering. It came with a winter white satin blouse, velvet overalls, gold flats, a green and gold hair ribbon, and an AG logo necklace for $22. I got it for $22 with the Starry Night Outfit--the two came for $44 so divided, it was $22 each, and it did not have the necklace or ribbon. And, like the Starry Night Set before it, I have it twice--I got a second set with the ribbon and necklace for $21.50 + shipping. This review is the complete set.  Ebay prices can spike high, of course. But it goes for a regular cost of about $15-30, 30 being as a complete set. I guess it's not as flashy as most AG outfits so it goes for less.

As I said there was fairness needed in the AG reviews, this one covers the last moddie to be seen on the blog in her own review: Mellie Croom. Melinda Mae "Mellie" Croom was picked up from the AG Dallas store in 2010 soon after she was released; I almost didn't get her because she was online only at the time and so wasn't in the Fishbowl2 But the manager saw me sulking that she wasn't there and said they had one in the back, and boom! Got her out for me. I couldn't not bring her home. My mom took one look at her as I was putting her glasses on, and said I'd just gotten a mini-me and should name her after me. But I've always felt a little weird naming my dolls after me directly. It feels a little Sue-like. So I said that I'd name her after Mom's maternal grandmother, who was a magnificent seamstress and taught my mom to sew. And my mom thought it was perfect, as she likes to say that I sew like her grandmother did. Mellie is named after my maternal great grandmother wholly. Well, with the small exception of her first name being Melinda instead of just Mellie, but once she drops to her nickname it's a perfect match. Family History! I like to tease that she looks like but isn't the lovechild of Sonali and Otters. Mellie likes doing carpentry and building, being in nature, being a pretty tomboy, and looking better in McSeattle's3 clothing than she did.

As I was starting to link to the AG wiki page about it, I saw that it didn't have a picture. Welcome to AG Wiki fame, Mellie. You now join Naomi and Marisol and Shanna there. (ETA: And then I found the catalog pic, so down Mellie's pic came, except for a close up.) Any pictures taken by me here are mine unless I upload them to the wiki, and are not to be scattered around. Don't make me whoop your ass.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Starry Night Outfit (2002)

Happy St. Nicholas Day from Kanani Akina!
Who should be next? I thought as I was sorting out outfits and cursing the name of stick on decor and mule shoes. I'm a 3rd Decanate Libra with Aries Rising and Moon in Capricorn,1 so I'm brash and bitchy and distant if I don't know you, but when you get down to my essence I'm fair. And part of fairness is making sure all my girls get a day in the spotlight. So while Naomi is chomping to show off some new and old duds and Addy would like to know why she's not in her holiday dress yet, I have to cover the girls who have never been in a review yet first. Everyone gets a turn. So this is how we ended up with Kanani Akina displaying on St. Nicholas Day. You know, that guy who got turned into the secular Santa Claus. I'm not Catholic, Anglican, or Episcopalian--I've never been, though the religion fascinates me. But I like St. Nicholas Day. And I happen to be posting on it. Enjoy your presents, European children!

The Starry Night Outfit was released in 2002 and, like the Twilight Outfit and Garnet Holiday Outfit before it2 and the Radiant Rhinestones Outfit after it, was a Limited Edition Holiday Set that came with extra accessories, a shiny special box, and was gone by early 2003. The dress cost $26 originally. I actually bought the set twice; once with just the dress for $15 with shipping, and one that was complete with another set for, when divided, $22. But I gifted one set to AJ when I sent Miss Mari along to her because when I like a person, all the generous comes out. So either way, I got it for below cost.

The dress came with a long black sleeveless velvet dress, black knee high net socks, and black ankle shoes. Accessories had a purse, silver hair combs, and a present in a silver box that was--spoiler--a Coconut snow globe. Excitement, she said in a flat sarcastic voice. Instead, we have decided to dress this up with a black grosgrain ribbon and a black choker made of a black ponytail holder.

Our presenter today is Kanani Akina. Kanani is the absolute best. I loved her the moment I saw her. She was so exciting for me as a collector--what's that? A collection not focusing on another boring white girl?--that I ordered her and a massive part of her starter collection at midnight with my Giftmas money from my in laws, and then blew my then work bonus on the rest of her collection when AG Seattle opened in July. I have all of her collection except the ice stand, because it was sold out when I went to buy it in November. (Eventually someday, she said.) Also, while book canon has her as half white, here in my gang her mother is Hawaiian and her father is Japanese. I don't need a spoonful of whiteness to make the ethnicity go down. She loves her heritage, warm sweaters, Cooking Mama, and  Lilo and Stitch.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Radiant Rhinestones Outfit (2003)

Happy Holidays with Gwenni Damico!
Look at that, next post on the docket! I'm trying.

Last night, in my "get out the holiday clothes, sort away the others, discover there's enough Julie here to give those clothes their own bin, do that"1 sorting--I still need to sort through for Beth Cady's set--I counted my modern sets. Yeah, I have almost twenty official moddie holiday sets--and that's not counting the one that has been retrofitted to the 60s or the ones I made for Naomi and Otters originally. So what I'm saying is that the Mod Squad is going to be getting a lot of clothes changes, just to show off everything. What can I say? I love holiday wear, even if most of mine consists of jeans and long sleeved faux ugly sweaters from Shirt.woot. The gang dresses better than I do, s'all I'm saying.

Today, I'll be covering the Radiant Rhinestones Outfit. Starting with Mattel's take over of the line wholly in about 2000 or so, they started doing Limited Edition Holiday wear, starting with the Year 2000 Outfit in 1999.2 The outfits would come in specialty boxes just for them, many times with a unique hanger, and often had separate accessories including a purse, hair decs, and those infernal stick on earrings that I will stick to the handbasket before I throw it into hell. Soon after the holiday season, the outfit would be retired and then the next fall it would start all over again. They don't do the nifty boxes or hangers anymore, but they always do a really nice holiday set with a nice overcoat/shawl/shrug or the like and matching accessories, and I sometimes get it at one point or another. The Radiant Rhinestones Outfit was one of the earliest sets to do this, released in 20033 and retired by that next spring. It consists of a red velvet dress, winter white fur-trimmed coat, winter white tights, and red velvet mules. Original cost was $30. I bought this past September for $35 plus shipping soon after the holiday release for this year was out; it came with the box, but no hanger. The outfit goes for about that much on eBay--with of course, the ridiculous spikes here and there. I do not have the accessories, but I am fine with that. The tiara, if I desperately wanted one, could be faked; I could always make a necklace; purse can also be faked; Ornaments are....yeah; and as I maintain, fuck stick on earrings.

Our model is Gwenivere "Gwenni" Ruth Damico. Gwenni, as you likely remember, was my first blog-posted makeover but not my first AG restoration. She likes princesses, fairy tales, fancy clothes, and being something of a little diva. So yes, this was a perfect fit for her. She has accesorized her set with a simple red hairbow and the cutest little star earrings that are perfection; you'll get a close up interlude. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Historical Clothes Reviews and Historical Accessories: Josefina's Christmas Dress and Mantilla, Niña Doll, and LE Mini Doll

Feliz Navidad from 1820s New Mexico!
Behold, the Winter Holiday Season! That wonderful end of the year where evergreen trees are erected, snow happens in a lot of the US, people finally give their children the things they've been promising them since August1 and the year gets the hell out of the door with a string of festivals cause it's dark out and there's fuck all to do in the Northern Hemisphere. Some celebrate the birth of Jesus even though we're all pretty sure that happened in the spring, some celebrate black unity and togetherness with candles and first fruits. Some wait until Three King's Day to give out their gifts, some do it on Saint Nicholas's saint day, some people celebrate the low point of the sun and the longest day of the year. Some have a Holly/Oak King thing going, some are celebrating the birth of the Horned God, some of us celebrate the day to celebrate the dwelling of Persephone's time with her husband in underworld (yo) and this year the Jewish kids decided to get that shit overwith early and ran Hanukkah during Thanksgiving. As for the 25th of December? Around here, we call it Giftmas, the Festival of Giving and Receiving. Because contrary to popular belief, some of us like to show our love to and from others with material goods, and if we're not Christian but want to do shit on the Socially Obligated Day of Holiday Mirth, we're stripping the religion out of it. That or we just like the discounts on Cyber Monday. All the fun of holiday shopping, none of the pants!

Wait, I'm supposed to put a review in here somewhere instead of rambling on about holidays. Right.

I have a theme for this month and next month, and that theme is holiday wear for my gang members. Why into January? Cause I have that many holiday dresses for my gang. Everyone has an outfit--and the two girls that don't technically have them yet will be getting them and having that displayed in a Crafting Creatively post. I can probably even Casual Friday a couple other holiday dolls I have. And so that I don't feel obligated to post every day--that's stressful for me--these holiday reviews will be a little spaced out. Let's see if I can finally get back to that "three posts a week" goal I had.

Yes, this is a long opening.

First on the docket is Josefina Montoya and her Christmas Dress and Mantilla2 (also known as Josefina's Holiday Outfit). Josefina, as we all should know, is from 1820s New Mexico--not long after Mexico broke off from Spain and became its own country in 1821, but before the chain of events where Texas split off in 1836, joined the US in 1845, and the US and Mexico had a three-year slap fight over Texas called the Spanish-American War which led to the US getting damn near everything out to the Pacific including New Mexico, Arizona, California, and a lot of other chunky state bits.3 So Josefina's family didn't cross the border, the border crossed them.

When Josefina debuted in 1997--one year before Ms. Rowland decided that money was a nice thing and sold Pleasant Company to Mattel, thus leaving a nice point where nostalgic people can point and go "that's when everything about AG got ruined!"--she was released with her first three books and the outfits and accessories for each in time for the holiday season. As the books had a pattern at the time, her first three books were her meet book, school book, and holiday book--and so she had her holiday dress lined up and ready to go for Holiday 1997. Josefina joined the AGGiB (then the AGGiR) in a private purchase in early 2007 that included Kaya and a good portion of her clothes but not her holiday stuff. I got holiday stuff for her and Kit so they could look their best for Giftmas 2007, and then found out she was a PC doll and just gave her the Destuffing Diet.

Josefina's Christmas Dress and Mantilla comes with an empire waist dress, mantilla and attached peineta, full combination white underwear, white socks, and black shoes for a cost of $32. I paid $24 in 2007, checking my packing slips. (Welcome to cost of products rising.) There is no good reason to buy any currently available outfits on the secondhand market unless you can't get AG to ship to you or you desperately want a PC version for some reason--in which case, on eBay the set generally goes for just about as much as it does direct but is often shoeless, sockless, and underwearless. Just buy it from the company if you can.

This review will have a bonus of Niña, Josefina's personal doll, and the LE Mini-Doll that was released for the 25th Anniversary of AG.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pajama Jammy Jams: Slumber Shirt with Mini Bear (1995), Slumber Shirt (1996) and AG Bear Slumber Shirt

Four versions of the same outfit. The 90s was a highly creative time.
Where have you been for two weeks, my loyal readers said. The answer on the morning of the 13th was going to be "working on my Nanowrimo novel like I do every year, because I am a self publishing author."1 I was going to say how I won early but not as early as I did the year before, and since I hit the 50k barrier on the 12th from writing about 4k a day, I could ease back to only maybe 3.5k since writing is my dayjob, and get back to yelling about AG's bullshit.

But then my father died on the 13th as I was starting to work on this post and instead of getting this posted and snapping pictures of my magazines for Magazine Monthly, it's been a string of bourbon shots (shit you not, that was my modus operandi for five hours yesterday), writing out my grief in my novel, and last minute flight booking to Wisconsin. If you were just here for clothes reviews, advice and bitching, you might not be happy with me. So what? It's my damn space. Welcome to American Girl Outsider, the blog where I will talk about how Mike and the Mechanics just made me do an ugly hideous "I miss my Daddy" cry for five minutes before talking about doll clothes. Writing is how I cope with deep shit, be it about doll shit or in a novel.

Here, it's doll shit.

In 1995, as I said in previous posts, American Girl launched their modern line which has been highly successful for the company to the point that everyone with Nostalgia Goggles set to "Pre-Mattel" seems to think that it's dragging the entire line down the tubes. And since the line was designed at the start to parallel the historicals, they frequently sorted things into the same slots they had: a "school" setup, a "holiday" setup, and so on. This included a "sleep" setup. The first nightgown that your adorable little 18" American Girl of History could have was the Slumber Shirt and Mini Bear, a red nightshirt with a hair tie and a miniature version of the bear and outfit you could have for your Miss AG Bear for the low low cost of $16. The red version only lasted about a year in doll sizes--1995 to 1996--before it came out as the Slumber Shirt, now two dollars higher at $18, sans mini bear, plus a mini copy of the book Games and Giggles, and much more similar to the one Miss AG Bear had (which priced at $10 alone, $28 if you got the bear dressed). This set lasted as an option until 1998 when many more creative nightclothes started to emerge. That's right, there are four versions of the same outfit, two just for dolls. 90s AG was slick as shit for making dollar bills come to them.

The outfits show up here and there on eBay for a high of about 30 bucks. The red set almost always is found without the bear, or Bear Sold Separately. The hunt for a set for Miss AG bear might be harder, and might be listed as a set for a doll. Mini bears are sporadic, but often dressed. The green set I can't pin down when I got it; it was probably in a surge of AG purchases. I remember Mellie wore it to bed soon after her arrival.  I had the red shirt just kicking around from a swap box, and got the actual hair tie for it for 4 bucks off eBay. The bear's outfit was about $20 or so, and the Mini bear cost me 15 bucks with shipping, so it probably all balances out.

Naomi is sporting the 95-96 set, Marisol the 96-98.
Our gang member models today are Naomi Kirkland and Marisol Luna, who decided that this was a good time for an AG pajama jammy jam--and if you have no idea what that is from, you might be too white and too young for me to have a sleeping in the bed sexual relationship with. Google it.

We'll get more of the gang in other posts. The holidays are coming up, and nearly everyone here has an adorable outfit for the occasion.

Friday, November 1, 2013

AG Complaint Department: Girl of the Year: Fifty Shades of White

Notice a pattern? I sure do.
American Girl, soon after Mattel wholly took over the line from Ms. Rowland, tried a new line that, at first, was an add on to the American Girl Today line. They offered a limited edition, contemporary girl of the time with a book and local problems and issues that could relate to girls of the actual era. In 2001, they released  Lindsey Bergman, a Jewish (in mostly name and quirks only) girl who wanted to improve the world but always seemed to get in tons of trouble in the process. Lindsey was out for almost two years, and she was a very poor seller. The 2003 girl, Kailey Hopkins--an environmentalist who wants to save the ecosystems of her local tide pools--did not fare much better. But when Marisol Luna--a dancer dealing with cultural shift and moving--came out in 2005, she took off running, and AG realized they might have a good thing going. Since then, AG has majorly pushed the Girl of the Year--they release a new girl and her collection on January first and officially retire her December 31st, thus making the scramble to get her come with a due date. They have kept the pattern going for now eight years, since 2005. And so it becomes a buzz among the AG news sources and fandom at the tail end of the year--what's the next one going to look like? What's her story, morning glory? What are we getting? Who is she?

Well, Girl of the Year 2014 has leaked, and well...I have feelings, and not good ones. I'll be nice enough to put it behind a cut, since not everyone wants to be spoiled. But still.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Magazine Monthly: July/August 1993

Mags and dolls.
Another month, another magazine. Yes, I'm cutting it close this month. But it's still October, so there.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Historical Clothes Reviews: Addy's Cape Island Dress

Addy's Cape Island Dress. On the only one who should wear it.
You think I'm kidding. 
Addy Walker is my very first American Girl. I got her, as I've said before, as a gift on Giftmas 2005. And I loved her since before then. Addy is my girl. I have read her books back and forth since they came out, I have soaked in her world, I have dressed and brushed her and designed unique sets for her that no one else should even try to cross me on. I have cuddled her at night and carried her place to place. I went to the children's play that was in Seattle in 2007 three times, each with Addy. I consider myself an expert on all things Addy.1 And I will get fucking pissed seeing other people who only have her for false diversity, who call her ugly or boring or too scary for her children to learn about2, or who make her look like Little Orphan Addy when they do her hair. Or who worse, get a lighter skinned doll to wear her collection cause that's good enough, especially some blond ass white girl. Fuck those people. You respect Addy or we will fight like inner city children in Houston. I have feels, and I will fight you.

Aduke "Addy" FirstArrival Walker means the world to me. She heads the AGGiB around here, she is my love, and no one challenges my girl. Because of this, I admit that she's more than a little spoiled. Okay, she's max spoiled. I'll bend over backwards to get things for her collection, including the harder to find bits, and if the price isn't too high I'll pay it. Thus I have, systematically, gotten almost everything for her. Yes, I have paid a bit over face for some of the sets, but I'd rather pay that kind of price for her things than anyone else's. And I will get twitchy bitchy about her clothes being on anyone but her. Here she only shares a few things with Sarah, and even so that's just til I can get Sarah's collection more off the ground.

One of the things I'll admit I paid over face for is the Cape Island Dress.The Cape Island Dress is one of what is classified as the Short Story Outfits. Back story: AG released sets of short stories in the magazines for years3 and later released them as small individual books. Addy--along with Samantha, Molly, Josefina, and Kirsten--got five stories. Felicity initially only got four cause she got kicked to retired for a while, Kaya got just one, and Kit got two. (The stories were also rereleased in total collections, and the short three got a full set of five stories in the collections.) The 1999 stories and the 2003 stories each got an outfit with their stories except for Kaya, and Addy's 2003 set was the Cape Island Dress to go with Addy's Summer Place, the story that shows Addy that even po' ass white folk thought they were better than any black person by virtue of not being black. The dress came with a hair ribbon, and while it was normally shown with Addy's Work Shoes, my house has eaten them. The dress was retired in 2005, which gave it a very short run. I tried to make a version of my own but it didn't come out nearly as pretty as the real one, I'm not even going to lie.

The original cost was $26 dollars. I paid $90 in a big ass private purchase last year that also got me the sweet potato pudding set, gardening set, school supplies, and church fair fun set (only missing slide whistle). Yeah. Addy's spoiled rotten as dirt. On eBay it goes for--when it shows up--anywhere for 60 to 100 bucks. At least she won't outgrow it. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Casual Friday: Abebi Nicole "Nikki" Rhodes

Nikki can't help being gorgeous.
My birthday was on Tuesday, making me the illustrious age of thirty-three years old. And still not too old for a doll. So I decided that my Casual Friday would be on one of my prettiest, most delicate dolls, most photogenic dolls. The one who I'm extremely careful with because of how delicate and lovely she is.

Meet Nikki Rhodes.