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

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.

Headbands are all the rage again.
Headband: The headband is a satin bowed, taffeta covered headband. Like the one for the Frosty Party outfit, it's plastic with cloth over it. However, this one doesn't seem as non-touching as the other. This may be because Shanna's curls help it look less floaty. The left side has a triple bow with a purple satin ribbon backed by a black satin ribbon, and the central knot of black and purple is tied into its own knot before being wrapped around and tacked down.

Begone, long ribbon thing.
 This one had the same stupid long ribbon that the Frosty Party Outfit and like before, the offending ribbon was cut off. There is no need for stupid long ribbons on headbands, AG. They just get in the way. B. I love the contrast of ribbons, and it looks fine once the dumb ribbon is clipped right off.

Dressed up with somewhere to go.
Dress: The dress--the main component of the outfit--is an iridescent purple taffeta dress that comes down to just above the knees. There's a touch of the Generidress profile, but with decor and tweaks that help prevent the boring look. I do love purple, and purple and black look so good together. AG really doesn't do enough darker holiday dresses--always the red and the white and the cream and the pastels.

For one, the bodice has a curved neckline that is trimmed in black taffeta bias. Generally if there's trim, it's done on the bias.

Cap sleeves.
The sleeves flare out from the bodice into cap sleeves, also trimmed with black taffeta. No showing your arm cups, Shanna.

Decorative tucking away~
The bodice also has lovely decorative tucks of about  starting just a little below the arm opening, making six tucks total front and back. They are matched up on the sides as well, so the tucks aren't misaligned. At the waistband is more of the black taffeta trim.

On the left side of the dress is a black double velvet ribbon bow with straight cut ends. Bows look so nice when off to one side or in the back of a dress. When they're dead front and center they can look a little 80s. I generally prefer my bows to have V cut or diagonal cut ends, but these are all right.

The skirt, to prevent drawing the eye away from the bodice and being too fussy, is unadorned and has a basic hem. If you put too many design elements on a set, then the eye doesn't know where to go or what to do, and no one likes that.

Closing up the back.
The dress closes in the back with velcro and the tucks, as you see, match perfectly when closed. A. Lovely color and style, without too much boring or activity.

Tights are almost never the exciting part.
Tights: They're black AG tights. They'll snag if you tug on them too hard or catch them on velcro, they're a little sheer with the flash, they give a connection between the skirt and the shoes without fucking up the motion. They're not exciting but they don't piss me off. B. Moving along.

Flats. We're not fancy here. Except we are.
Shoes: At the bottom of most outfits--and this is no exception--is a pair of shoes. These are purple patent leather flats with black velvet decorative bows at the center toes and black soles with a little heel.

Bows on her toes.
I'm actually kind of meh about the shoes. They're really shiny and because of this, they don't really match the dress. I think shoes with the same fabric of the dress would have added more oomph. The bow on the toes does match the bow on the dress, but if the shoes had been more unique then they wouldn't have even needed those.

Stamped on sole.
The white interior sole is stamped with the current American Girl logo: A tilted five pointed star with a thick line and "American Girl". There is also the fact that these are made in China, which is the way of most things made now.4 Just going to give them a C-. They don't match quite enough, but they don't have enough contrast to stand out.

Lets go Jackets!
Jacket: The jacket--the major component of the accessories--is a black velvet bolero style jacket. This way it doesn't cover up the waistband bow when on, but keeps your gang member warm for that walk from the car to the performance house and looks fancy enough to wear inside as well. Mmm, velvet. My opinion stands.

Cocksided picture of the ruffle.
The front opening and collar are decorated with a gathered trim of the same fabric of the dress. It's adorable without being too attention seeking.

Shorter sleeves. 

The jacket has three quarters sleeves which come down to about the middle of the lower arm. No ruffle there. Just a simple plain hem.

 Inside, the jacket is well lined--collar trim and all--with black satin. Even the sleeves. Nice.

The back is smooth and unadorned. No one's generally looking at the back of a jacket. A. I love this jacket, and think it compliments the dress well.

Watches: Things that can be clock bracelets.
Watch: The accessories include a silver chain pretend watch. First of all, I think for costing the original cost it did, a real watch would have been boss. But no, we get a stopped analogue clock set to 8:56. Likely PM, so as to be headed to the ballet. It's a really pretty watch, mind. There's a white clock face with a 12 at the top, then tickmarks for the rest of the time, and the truncated AG logo: A-Star logo(☆)-G. or, as I tend to do when I'm not copying from a code sheet, A*G. There's also a false watch winder to one side.

Links and chains.
The band part of the bracelet is made with silver links that closes with a silver clasp. It's hard to get on too tight, but too loose and it'll fall off.

Not without its charm.
The end of the bracelet has a silver oval chain with the same full text American Girl logo. B-. For the original cost, a real watch would have been better; for a toy, it's nice enough to real.

Bust them nuts.
Nutcracker: There's also a plastic old fashioned nutcracker. Cause if you're going to the ballet, you have to bring your own, I guess. It's stylized like the old Victorian ones, much like was shown in the ballet. You've got a soldier with a purple tall hat (with gold snowflake), gold brim, peach skin, white fuzzy hair, black eyes with white eyebrows, a prominent nose and a painted white mustache, teeth on the top and bottom of the moving part which has a white fuzzy beard, a red coat (with gold buttons and gold cuffs), purple belt with gold buckle, white "gloves," gold pants, and black boots with gold laces. It's all plastic, and molded to a gold circular base.

From behind.
In the back is the red lever--allowing for mouth opening and closing--and the screw in the hat that I presume is there because it had to have the lever put in.

Base label.
Thebase has, in red text, the AG full logo. Label everything. I don't really care for old-style nutcrackers at all, not even for decor. It's put together well, but it's not my style. You likely won't see it outside of this review. C.

Tickets, please.
Tickets: Finally, we have two paper tickets to the Nutcracker: Red background, darker red border, gold flourishes in the corner and at the top and the text: "American Girl© presents [script font] The Nutcracker[/script font] SPECIAL EVENT|ADMIT ONE" Apparently this year AG's sponsoring the tickets. The back notes they're made in china by AG. They're really kind of pointless, in my opinion. I don't really care for paper add-ons. D.


Overall Feel: The dress is adorable, with little flourishes and trims that make it a sweet set--and purple and black together is so very unique and one of my favorite combinations. The shoes, however, are really meh and could have been a lot better in muted taffeta or satin instead of shiny patent leather. The accessories are completely mediocre. The jacket is the best part of the accessories, a simply lovely coat that compliments the dress perfectly. The watch is nice for pretend--a small real one would have been better--but the high cost was not worth the other two components included. A nutcracker is not really fun use in my opinion, and the tickets are just paper props that aren't worth it. A lot better things could have been included in either place, like a clutch purse.

Cost Value: $36 dollars was high for the dress, given the components. I wish I'd paid less, but December 2012 was a bad month and I needed the retail therapy to clear my head. $32 for the accessories was obscenely high and wholly not worth that cost. The $9 was really cheap and worth it for the coat. Pay no more than $40 for a set with accessories or $30 for a dress alone. I know you can find it for cheap, the accessories lasted into the summer of 2013 and the dress was up on sale at some point.

Timeliness/Datedness: It's a very modern set. Too popular looking and muted for the 80s, maybe could carry for the later part of the 90s are, but very good for today. It'll probably carry forward for a bunch of years. I personally love it on Shanna and it feels like it washes out blondes. Then again, I don't care for blonde AGs.

Mix and Match Levels: Not honestly. It all more works together than apart. The tights can be used elsewhere--they're just tights, what do you want--as well as the jacket for another fancy set. The shoes are set, and the watch can be an accessory to another set, but the rest isn't really applicable to anything outside of itself.

Final Grade: A for the dress, C- for the accessories. Get the dress set, the coat, and maybe the watch. The rest isn't wholly worth it.


1 Which was based on an adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was then turned into an easier to read version by Alexandre Dumas (père) called The Tale of the Nutcracker. Or in other words, black people stay up in everything.
2 But not in the way a synesthetes can.
3 There was also a Bitty set like it, the Pretty in Purple Outfit. This is the other way to help ID the Fancy Set of the year; it often comes in both Bitty and Big Girl styles.
4 95% of everything is made in China, to save on manufacturing costs because it's cheaper to make things overseas and ship them than to pay Americans the same amount to put stuff together for a myriad of reasons. AG moved production there back in the PC days. The first ones weren't even made in America, they were made by a German company. If you have ever said "but they're called American Girl, I thought this meant they were made here in the US OMG FALSE NAMING" then I don't need you shitting up my internet. The company is named that because they started with American History characters, not because they were made in the US. Fucking US flags are made in China. If you threw out everything in your house that wasn't made in the US you would have almost nothing. Bite my shiny metal ass. [/Bender]


  1. I totally agree about the accessories. I picked them up for the $9 and would have been pissed had I paid full price. I didn't get the dress, which I'm now regretting. Thanks for that lol. And seriously with the made in USA people. The AG fb page is the land of eye rolls so hard you'll loose your contacts and/or bruise your sockets.

    I have an unrelated Addy question. The "prototype" meet dress. What's a reasonable price to pay for this?

    1. I've never seen one for sale, but the standard dress would go for about 20-30. so I'd think about twice that simply because of the rarity therein.

    2. Thanks! There were two on eBay this week asking in the 70 range.

  2. Ooooh. I dig that dress and the jacket.

    EVEN though I sometimes like old-style nutcrackers, I'd want a small wooden one. I actually have some that'd be about A*G size. And the tickets are pointless.

    Also, bahaha your Futurama reference at the end there. I <3 that!

    And I can't wait for "Better Know a Gang Member" THAT will be so much fun! That sort of thing is right up my alley!

    My favorite colors for a very long time have been purple, green and blue, probably because other than red those are the colors of light I can see most easily.

  3. i always figured the mini nutcracker was a souvenir she got while at the show. also, as usual, I really want this outfit, after having read your review of it. <3 <3 <3

  4. Just my opinion, but I partially agree with you about this outfit on a blonde. With the jacket on, I think it looks nice enough (maybe I just like the contrast between black and platinum), but with just the dress alone, she'd look washed out like you said. I'm just basing my opinion on catalog photos, since I don't have any blondes in my collection--other than Julie, who, when I finally get round to outfitting her for the holidays, will stay in her own time period with her jumper and her little gold tights (yeesh!)

    Another opinion of mine: Shanna is a much better model than those catalog girls--much more animated!

    Anyway, thanks for taking this set apart for us. I was curious when it came out, but not enough to buy...now I know, and will keep it in mind for the future.

  5. How has Shanna's hair handled for you? I'm looking to make her my first AA girl but I'm worried since I have mostly straight haired dolls that I'll fuck this one up somehow.

    1. It's handled beautifully. The main thing is that I never, never put a pick or brush to her curls. (I do it with Otters and Mellie since they have these long sausage curls I can twist together and pull back apart, but not her.) I weighted her curls down initially with a rubber band and still do, so they stay in a low or high ponytail. To keep her hair nice, I spray it with braid spray and finger squish it--just kind of squish her curls in my hands, to work it in.

      The easiest way to fuck up her curls, I'd think, is to put a brush to them. Should it ever get too wild I might do a small metal comb, but no brushes.

    2. Actually that doesn't sound too bad. I own the pick but I've never used it on a doll. If all I have to use is my fingers that's cool with me. What do you mean by saying you weighted them down with a rubberband? Do you ever wash them? I'm afraid they might get foofy if I do. I'm not a huge doll hair washer but in case I ever need to I just wanted to know. This might be my first doll I HAVE to buy from the store because I'm too afraid her hair will arrive messy.

    3. I own the first picks? They're utterly useless, to be honest.

      Basically, right after I got Shanna, I put a rubber band on her hair like a headband to pull it all down and back. Then soon after that I pulled it back in a very loose ponytail. So her hair doesn't massively fluff up. I've yet to have cause to wash anyone's hair, so far, not even Addy's--I get away with braid spray, and that's the only "product" that ever goes in.

  6. I can't wait to see Better Know a Gang Member! Any idea when it will be up?

  7. I'm just wondering... which doll is Shanna? I have no idea... but she is beautiful!

    1. Shanna is a My AG #58 with a hearing aide and glasses.


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