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

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Tale of the Cousins of AGC and Introducing Kira Hickman

Look at Kira's imposter in the case. Wait--who's Kira?
This time last year I had a whole series half done on holiday wear, and now it's been over two weeks since I've said anything. What happened? The good and bad, to be honest: new computer, transfer of files, computer wanting to not behave, customer service, and "unrelated to computer" health concerns, personal sads, and all of this winding into a ball of crippling depression. Disability: It's not ever been just physical, people! All caught up? Good.

No post on the GotY, you ask? Nope. Because I've seen next year's girl, and she doesn't excite me one damn bit. Take what I said last year when we saw WonderBread and tack the new girl on the end, because it's Same Shit Different Year. Next Year's Girl makes a Connect Four of Failure. Not only has AG given us another white character (with PoC sidekicks), they have also given us another character that can't have brown eyes with dark hair. She's Chrissa Redux. She's Vanilla Buttercream--something that is good in metered doses, but when there's so many more options out there and many more stories and no stories that have shown a need to be white, it just becomes a terrible taste in your mouth. She will not become part of my gang whatsoever. We need a Doll of Color for Girl of the Year (#DoCGotY)1, and at this point if AG wants to remain relevant with this LE thing, they need to do a doll of color. And none of this half-white/biracial/a spoon full of whiteness to get the ethnicity to go down we got with Jess and Kanani. Or side characters we've got with Sonali--which won't happen again, given the death of Best Friends. No ifs, ands, buts or becauses, or bullshit lines about how the moderns are diverse. There needs to be a front line Girl of the Year of Color, and preferably she should be black since that hasn't been touched at all by the line.  AG step your fucking game up.

And that's all I have to say on that. Back to my gang. Well, my gang and many others. 

In the past months since summer, I've added two more gang members to the AGGiB. There's been Sameera Al-Rajhi, a 18" MyTwinn (who will get her chattery bits and review later) who arrived this summer, and Kira Hickman who arrived this fall. Kira Hickman is a My AG #21 that came in a group that collectively has been called the Cousins of American Girl Collectors, and the story of how she got to me is definitely not something that could have been pulled off elsewhere. Kira--and the other cousins--comes with a story of ups, downs, roller coaster surges and large boxes.

Step into the parlor to hear the story: The Tale of the Cousins of AGC. This has tons of pics, but you're used to that--and while some of you have likely not only heard this but been part, this is from my view. There's also a moving gif.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Historical Clothes Reviews and Historical Accessories: Josefina's Meet Outfit (Classic and BeForever) and Meet Accessories

Hola, amigos y amigas, from Josefina.
November has been one of those draining months. Between Nano work (went slow but passed the goal, so ten years of victory, though), disabilities, clutter both good and bad, and current events, Nethie has been half curled in a ball trying to shut out the world. Shit happens, and sometimes the answer to handling shit is to not look and take time to just not. And there has been a lot of just not being able to. But I would be even more upset with myself if I went a whole month without a blog post here. Even if it's been almost a month since my last one. You still love me. As of right now we only have whispers and rumors of next year's Girl of the Year, though we know so far that she's a baker and has to go do some stuff in Paris. And that she's probably white, because people of color, whatever, they need to be mixed to fit our aesthetic, let's have four years of white girls. Le Sigh.

BeForever has been, in my opinion, one of the best things that could happen to the Historical section of American Girl. Before the launch, the line was getting muted out by both Girls of the Year and the modern line, who unlike the Historicals weren't stuck in a narrative of still being tied to the old days of  Pleasant Company for a huge part. While new things came out here and there, they had their meet outfits the same since the initial release--and as I said in an older post,1 AG could only bleed us so long on old things. I'm a reliable Addy buyer, but before BeForever launched I could count the number of outfits of hers I didn't have on one hand. I have her whole collection, and I'm not the only one. American Girl can't really make money off of collections that people have already, especially not in an era where people can buy secondhand a lot easier than before (eBay yoooo). BeForever has given the Historicals a huge breath of fresh air that several characters had been lacking, and there is little in the line I don't adore and don't want to get my hands on for the girls I collect for.2 The three biggest Historicals to get makeovers were Samantha (back from the past), Julie, and probably Kit; however, there are those that got very little focus. The biggest example is Josefina Montoya, who didn't get anything but a new BeForever Meet outfit. She hasn't even gotten a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book yet. This has led to whispers of her being retired or downplayed by AG, mixed with the rumors that she was set aside and she'll get her full new things come spring. We'll see.

Josefina was the last Historical Character released before the Official Purchase from Mattel, coming out late 1997. She and her stories represents the New Mexico area in the 1820s, when it was not yet part of the US and still part of Mexico, a still new country that had very recently separated from Spain. As in, Josefina would have been considered Spanish when she was born, since she was born seven or so years before the Mexican Revolution.3 Josefina is from a fairly well-to-do family; they have their own ranch which wasn't cheap, and her grandfather traveled as a trader. When Josefina was released--with a brand new face mold--she joined Addy as the only other character of color outside of the American Girls of Today and the only expressly Latina character.4 It wouldn't be until Marisol Luna in 2005 that another Latina character would be released and not until 2006 that the face mold would be used for a moddie. Her face mold, however, has been used for four other Historical Characters, another moddie, and two Girls of the Year, all who have been white. I find this slightly annoying, personally. Can we get some Josefina Face Mold darker than unflavored oatmeal, please. Ahem. Originally at release, Josefina also had her books translated into an older style of Spanish, something not done anymore and only done with her. Somewhere in my house is Josefina's birthday book in Spanish. Unique, but it didn't last long.

Josefina was one of the characters I fell for in the AG line, having grown up in Texas and having lots of exposure to Chicano culture as a child, and so I definitely wanted her to be part of my collection at some point. I was fortunate in 2006 to, with a tax refund check, be able to get Josefina with what's now called her Classic meet set in a private purchase that included some of her outfits, Kaya, and some of Kaya's stuff at a discount. Her meet outfit is intended to reflect the loose comfortable wear of women and girls in Mexico during the era; it consists of a camisa (blouse), print skirt, sash belt, drawers, hair ribbon, flower hair decoration, and moccasins and came on her. I'm not about to work out the math of how much that cost me but it wasn't full cost; currently the Classic Meet is available from AG direct for $36. Her accessories were purchased soon after I got her for what was then $20 and consist of a jola coin, handkerchief, waist pouch, garnet necklace, and rebozo; the cost is now $24 as with any other set of accessories. At the launch of BeForever, I got her updated Meet outfit for $36 day of release; it has all the same parts, but with some notable changes. It's quite possible that she'll be losing the coin and handkerchief come any BeForever revamps, so if you want those jump on it soon. Since little changed in her meet outfit, I'll be comparing things as I go for the most part. It doesn't make sense to write two separate paragraphs on parts of the outfit that are near exactly the same in design.

Earrings: Now for Josefina.
Before I dive in: like Addy, Josefina was given non-removable gold loop earrings. A lot of Hispanic and Latina culture has ear piercing done very soon after birth, and this was true in the past. Josefina likely would have had the ice needle and potato soon after she was born, and worn earrings her whole life. I love that she has this little bit of clear culture in her design.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why I'm an Outsider - Part Three: The Wicked Witch of Customizing and the Birth of AG > 18

It was still just two.
It can be very hard finding one's place in any fandom, especially when there's a tone that doesn't mesh with yours. The American Girl fandom is both huge and small at the same time. And American Girl, unlike a lot of other fandoms, don't often seek out AG so much as stumble upon it one way or another as a child. It was catalogs in the 80s and 90s, and nowadays it's stores. Most people learn about AG as children too young to properly be on the internet. And a lot of people lurk to get a feel for a place. (I'm sure there's lurkers on AGC.)

I didn't like the tone of the AG fandom or the heavy fundie feel, but I endured. Even with the overall tone on AG Fans that conflict of any kind and bickering was improper, your posts had to be able to be read by the most sensitive of people, and there was a lot of stealth editing of posts and deleting of controversy. Things had to be for the children, and the baseline was "super sheltered Christian girl child whose eyes would melt at the mention of anything unwholesome." This also had the nasty effect of people often saying that we needed to consider the children in everything we did, thought, or posted. It was very Helen Lovejoy.1

I had other fandoms to get my weird out in, though I was starting to fade out of the majority of My Little Pony fandom, Gen 3's awesome notwithstanding. I was deep into into Harry Potter, where we were in the gap between Half Blood Prince and the unnamed Seventh Book Conclusion; I had Pokemon--which still was on Gen Three but creeping towards Gen Four with Diamond and Pearl due out in Japan that September. I was sewing and crafting some. Even if I was woefully unemployed, I was okay. Depressed, but okay.

But I wasn't getting a whole lot out of the American Girl fandom. There was mostly news, and keeping up with what was coming out.  The American Girl community on LiveJournal was slow moving, and mostly about the buying and selling of things. I stayed lurking like a motherfucker on AG Fans, but I had made some decent friends and connections. I'd signed up to AG Playthings--which was starting to rise--and people knew my dolls, Addy and Naomi. I'd taken them both to Texas for a vacation at my mom's and taken some photostories with them, mostly consisting of things like hanging around outside the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Texas A&M campus. I wasn't a big name fan, but I was making a bit of a name for myself. I was even, on my ElJay2 going into a series of posts about the issues in AG--sexism, racism, and the like. Seeds of social justice planted, though I'd had that for years in ways. About the only new thing coming around were small releases of historical stuff, some modern stuff, another set of All White Bitty Twins, and the Big Thing for Jess--since at this time they did the big thing during the summer. I wasn't doing great, but I was doing good.

Then a spark lit up. And it wasn't even me who fully started it. Go fig.

Prologue: Not Such a Sweet Baby Face
Part One: Finding AG Fans, or How Periods are Bad For Children
Part Two: There's Fundies in My Fandom

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rambled Opinions and General Snarkiness: 2014 Holiday Winter Wrap Up

Happy birthday to me!
"OMG THE NEW SHIT HAS BEEN OUT FOR A WEEK, NETH, WHERE ARE YOU." It was my birthday, so there. Saturday I went and had dinner with a really awesome AG friend at the Cafe--AG Seattle lets you do a la carte where the rest do not, and damn was the salmon good--and when I ordered sorbet for desert, the staff put candles in it. AG Cafe Seattle, I love you. (And that was fucking good sorbet too.) Yesterday was the birthday proper1 and like a responsible adult I did shit all all day and had cake for dinner. Welcome to adulthood!

Did I get AG gifts? I did. Buddy Girl got me a designed shirt,  I got me Kit and Julie's Meet stuff, and my brother got me egg chair Egg Chair EGG CHAIR EEEEEN~ which is so going to get the shit reviewed out of it. But enough about me and my age no longer being a perfect palindrome but still being a pretty number. I know you can't live without me shitting on/praising/cockeyeing everything AG comes out with so lemme get on with it.

Normally the AG Holiday Blowout comes through in early to mid September to give you several months of "but I want it I need it i really like her mane!" before the holidaze hit. We are also overdue for a new moddie meet outfit cause it's been like, two years of this current set. But this year was the rise of BeForever and the Glory Therein, so maybe next spring or summer. Come on AG, we're due and I'm tired of looking at the outfit we've got right now. They didn't release much, but it's enough to go on.

Time to tear this shit up. Fuck the Bitty Shit.2 You know the drill.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Clothes Reviews: Sparkly Tunic and Jeans Outfit (2006)

Otters is Sparkling to the Nines.
Hey, guess what? The new stuff's out for the End of Year! Hey, guess what? I'm going to go see it Saturday, so I'll blog about it the day after. For now, a review of older stuff. 

My birthday is in less than a week; I'll be thirty-four, Year five giving a big eff you to the cultural assumption that assumes that women never want to be older than twenty-nine. Fuck "forever twenties" ideas. I remember my twenties, and most of it was terrible and rife with wracking depression that I now keep generally under control. Part of my celebration is that I'm going to the AG Cafe here in Seattle with a buddy--as the Beyoncé song goes, I'm a grown woman and can do whatever I want. And what I want is to take one of my gang members to the American Girl Cafe and eat their food and be a dolly nerd. Fun fact about me is that I like to say I ran a gauntlet to get my birthday as my own day. The 4th is my late Grandma Valeria, the 7th (or 8th) is my Aunt Florence, today (the 9th) is my grandma Aquilla (affectionately called Goose)1 and the 14th is my father, Harold. I missed all those days one after the other, showed up two weeks late, and hit Wednesday the 15th--and did the same thing my dad did with my grandma Goose and showed up as a belated birthday gift. That's fate for you.

When it comes to birthday gifts, I'm simple and complicated at the same time. Because I like dolls, right, so you'd think I want dolls and doll accessories--but when it comes to AG there's so much I already have so your best bet is to ask instead of trying to surprise me. Well until new stuff comes out and I go "I don't have that!" or "I don't want that." This was not true when I started collecting in 2005 and 2006. So for my 26th birthday, a buddy who wasn't even much into AG, Kaze, sent me the Sparkly Tunic and Jeans Outfit which had come out just that year in 2006. At the time I had two historicals and three moddies. Otters, Marisol, and Naomi had to share the set--and it looked great on all three of them and cemented itself as one of the best outfits ever.

The set at the time cost $26 and came with a tunic top, jeans, clogs, hairbands, and an informational story about bands, likely an article from AG Magazine.2 It was retired in 2008--about standard lifespan for an AG set, and unlike a lot of older clothes is somewhat common and almost never goes higher than the original cost, only to about $30 or so. It shows up regularly enough on the 'Bay to be found at a sensible cost.

Otters is rocking this because I took pictures of her in it. There is very little Otters does not rock because Otters is awesome.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Clothes Reviews: Isabelle's Separates (2014)

Marisol has, of course, always been the better dancer.
I have bitched, and bitched, and bitched about Isabelle Palmer, GotY 2014 AKA Wonderbread the Ballerina. Just search my archives, you'll know it to be true. I have bitched about her face, her hair, her whiteness, her ugly clothes covered in sparkle barf, her stupid creativity center, and her books--I'm struggling to get through Book Three because gods, does everything go her way all the time. "Look at me design clothes and dance in everything and my favorite dancer ever in the world gives me one on one time and everyone thinks my clothes designs are sooo fucking special and blah blah blah eeeen~" I'd bitch about her movie but it can be summed up as "gods, Isabelle is the entire center of everything and the best part of the movie was Jade calling her out on her self centered bullshit."1

So yes, I hate Isabelle with the fire power of Mega Charizard Y using Fire Blast. But, like Chipotle Mayo, McSeattle, and EnviroLanie before her, I am not above jacking her shit for my own dancer needs. Or reviewing them for yours. I'm not a monster, after all. I'm just one hell of a hater. Over the course of the year, I've gotten Isabelle's Coral Sweater for $14, Isabelle's Rosette Leotard for $10,  Isabelle's Tutu for $14, and Isabelle's Legwarmers Set for $12. (I'm still debating the Wrap Sweater and dismantling her Metallic Chaos Theory Set.) I have also been able to obtain her most simple ballet shoes without having to buy that entire dance barre set for $10 and so here we will call them Isabelle's Practice Slippers. Total cost of this mix and match set? $60. I'd bitch more but all of Addy's BeForever newness (sans the two-book volumes) is in my house and waiting on review. (If you haven't noticed, my site icon is now her BeForever image. Thinking of sticking it on the side somewhere.) Come December, all this shit will pop out of stock bit by bit, get retired Dec 31st, and Wonderbread will take her place in the archives as we prep for 2015 and I get to raise my hopes only to have them smash into the pointy rocks of racism when they give me another white girl for a Connect Four Years of Failure. Plus we'll get all the fun of on the Facebook page loaded with ignorant ass parents complaining that they didn't order her in time so now Giftmas is ruined, or asking for her to be restocked.2 You got three months, maybe less, maybe more when it pops up as a sale item. Get on it.

Marisol, the resident Dancer of the AGGIB, is here to show off how all this looks 200% cooler on her tan skin. Also, partially through we get some modifications because fuck your design style WonderBread, that's why. Since these items are sold separately (with the exception of the tights and shoes), they will be reviewed and graded separately, then get the end overall feels. While the closest I have ever gotten to dancing is the Get In Shape Girl Workout Bar playset3 I sorta love the sport-slash-art of ballet and read hella books about it.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Book Blather: Review: Doll Couture by Marsha Greenburg

Doll dresses from vintage fabrics. In its own way.
A few weeks ago, while I was anticipating the arrival of the Cousins and prepping for their arrival,1 I was contacted by a representative of Running Press who was contacting AG bloggers regarding an upcoming book: Doll Couture by Marsha Greenburg. She asked me to do a review of this book as a prominent AG blogger, and I stepped up to the plate because I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to offer an open review on AG stuff, and that includes AG craft books. The book arrived a few days ago, and I was able to sit down and snap some pictures and get a good feel as I read through the book.

From the writer and crafter of Hankie Couture.
Doll Couture is a book focusing on how to craft 18" doll clothes from vintage fabrics such as handkerchiefs, doilies, hand towels and older fabrics. I actually own a copy of Marsha's first craft book for doll clothes, Hankie Couture, that I purchased after checking a copy out at the library; that one focuses on 11 1/2" fashion dolls such as Barbie. Her website and the book states "it's not just a dress, it's a lifestyle." I'm not the kind of person to subscribe to other's philosophies upfront, mostly because I write my own and it often involves evil grins, cursing, and snarky statements.2 My lifestyle does also include crafting doll things, and while my crafting has been semi-delayed by a need to sort a lot out in my life--mostly accessing the sewing machine--I plan to pick it back up wholly. I loved the idea of making doll clothes from old handkerchiefs and fabrics, mostly because I'm often considering doing that from my old clothes to scale down to AG. Nowadays many people have no use for a handkerchief or tea towels, and they are primarily a thing from the past when we didn't have Kleenex tissues or decoration around the house and kept to be the nice things. (Which is better than wicker balls in glass jars, let me tell you internet.) The book retails for $23 and can be purchased from various book places, including Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

Consider this review a craft book review between the upcoming clothes and BeForever/Wonderbread reviews,3  secret craft displays, and ongoing complaints about the American Girl fandom of the past and present. Also, I'm going to be wholly upfront about this: I was sent this book for free to review on behalf of Running Press. That statement on the side isn't just for show: if I get things as gifts or for free to review, I'm going to say so. Because this is a book, and books are meant to be bought, I only snapped a few preview pictures. One does not want to discourage book buying by snapping all the details.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pet Reviews: Fancy Pomeranian Pet House Set (2014)

Puppy power!
Okay, I said I was going to start BeForever reviews soon. BeForever is breathing huge life into the Historicals where it wasn't anywhere near true for a while and I'm still on an Addy high. But there's been an AG new product release and it's a) a leak of the likely new Fall Shit and b) likely a limited time offer, since the place I got it from has weird ass turnovers. And since I'm due to be busy as shit the next few weeks with the Cousins, I wanted to go ahead and get this one out. So pet reviews it is! I do stuff like that because I'm cool and hip.

American Girl, since being owned by Mattel, has hugely branched out to get their brand into the minds of their target audience beyond word of mouth and catalogs (which are nice but nothing on a website for information). They opened physical stores--probably the best damn idea they ever had-- launched the website, and they started the movies and poking markets that went untapped by Pleasant Company, like craft sets at Joann and Michaels stores. One way is by having bundles of items at big box stores like Costco and Sam's Club. They've been doing this for at least since I've dealt with Costco--that's where we buy ridiculous amounts of things in bulk. Seattle and the surroundings are not big on WalDeMart, the Store That Shall Not Be Shopped.

AG, natch, won't sell dolls or outfits through the Big Box Stores--that would be competing with their own stores, especially with a store here in traveling distance. But they have sold things like expanded craft and activity bundles (the fashion design sets, I have), books and book sets often with mini dolls,1 playsets, and pet bundles. It's where I got Honey and Chip from my last review, and I keep an eye out for some smaller or more interesting AG stuff there, especially during the Holiday Toy Stack-ups that run from Sept to Dec. So when it leaked recently that new pets were being found at Costco--ones that weren't even up by AG yet!--I asked the man to run me there and was delighted to find the new three pets there. I am pretty sure this is a early product leak, and not some sort of one off thing with Costco, especially with the official names on the packaging and labeling and all. With BeForever, there wasn't the typical AG Fall and Winter Holiday Release, and there's going to be by probably mid October.

New dogs!
The three new pets leaked are the Preppy Sheepdog, Funky Terrier, and Fancy Pomeranian. Since these are through Costco and Costco can have a turnover of a month, I jumped on this. I got one as a Giftmas gift for a buddy and one for me--both the Fancy Pomeranian, since that's the one she asked for and the one I liked best. AG confirmed officially on a Facebook reply that these are not available through the catalog or website, so if you want one bundled like this you're going to need to haul buns to Costco somehow. (Or know someone who's cool enough with you to go to Costco for you.) The set comes with the pet, a magnetic toy, two food dishes, a small book, stickers and decals, and a cardboard house. The retail price on the box listed by AG is $52 bucks, but the cost at Costco is $29.99. Considering that a naked pet with their toy costs $28 now, I basically paid an extra two bucks plus tax for the accessories.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Rambled Opinions and General Snarkiness: BeForever: Dropping It Like It's Hot

Bring in the new noise, bring in the funk!1
It's been a wild ride for the AG fandom in 2014 regarding the Historical line. We've heard since February that Samantha Parkington, the Pretty Princess of American Girl, was on her way out of the AG Vault like a Disney animated flick. We've heard of the end of the Best Friends Line and the way it screwed Marie-Grace, Cécile, and Ivy over. (Oh and Ruthie. But eh, whatever.) We've seen people whine about the historical accuracy of items and cite the 1940s and black and white pictures to say that color wasn't invented before 1970 like they're Calvin's daddy--you know who you are--and the terribleness of them without actually seeing the stuff out and mewl that Addy's skin is lighter--hat tip it's not any lighter than it was on August 27th. (ETA: Proof from someone who got Addy and BF Addy a day apart can be seen here at Lissie and Lilly: BeForever Addy vs Original Addy Comparison ) We've had happy squeal, new book covers and book rebundling, mini spoilers, eBay leaks, and videos on the official AG Youtube leaking images to us and revving us up for the new looks. We've seen the hype and smelled the haterade. And now, we have the official Launch of BeForever. *trumpets and confetti* Whoo, BeForever!

What's BeForever? Have you been under a damn rock for the past several months? Oh, no, you're new to AG fandom somehow. All right, I'll play nice for a sec. Basically, BeForever is a rebranding of the Historical line to make the characters of the past appeal to the hip youth of today--what with their touch tablets and Internets and cell phones and iPods and hip hop and Wonderbread Girls of the Year. Out go best friends--Cécile and Marie Grace included, alas we hardly knew ye--and in place returns Samantha as the backbone of support for this new launch, since AG has relied on her for the launch of new things. The Historical characters all got new meet outfits except two: Kaya--who really can't get much of a change in wardrobe since her era is pretty stuck in the past; and Caroline, but she's only been out for two years so we're letting it slide. There's outfits inspired by the meet outfits--both loosely and pretty close--and new items, and the books have adapted into a new form. And many things changed--but many stayed the same. Sort of like the line is advertising again.

Yesterday, the whole thing dropped. After seeing things online at 10 pm my time--two hour diff from AG's headquarters--and losing half my shit at AGC, a buddy of mine and I went to AG Seattle and squealed the hell out and I lost the other half of my shit. I snapped a bunch of pictures and then got several things to bring home. I wondered in June if my body was ready and OH NO IT WAS NOT. There's so many new things and if I were a rich girl with a house large enough for everything I would have gotten the world of stuff. As it is, I came home with a decent amount, and will be doing reviews on the newness later.

This post is about all the shiny good-good and new hotness--including the All New and Semi-Improved Samantha. Pics are all my own pictures taken at the store--some of mine are off center, I was too busy jumping around in excite. I'm already excite about something else in AG fandom (if you're part of AGC you'll know what) and so the last week and change has been an utter crazy whirlwind of ups and downs and swings and swirls. I tend to have a lot more feels on historical things than moddy stuff, so this is a long ass post. I had to start the post, go to sleep, wake up, finish it, and then back time it. There will also be handfuls of animated gifs so if those bother you, take that into account. I know photo sensitivity since I have it, and warnings are appreciated.

Before I start into this all new Historical minty freshness and the new hotness in the streets for the young jeezies, a mini rant. We already have a stupid split between PC stuff and Mattel stuff hovering around and stinking up the place like spoiled Similac formula. It's irritating and annoying and people should slip into the sea for it. We don't need another split. The first split is terrible and I really can't stop it except to hiss at people. But we can prevent prefixes on titles right now.  Don't do it. Don't do it. I swear to the gods, fandom, if you make "pre-BeForever" a thing like "pre-Mattel" I'll find ways to make you hurt like I rammed glass and Legos in the soles of your feet. I will curse you to never find the last item you need in your Molly collection in a sensible price range and for your first edition Kirsten to develop silver eye and you to never find a person to do an eye swap to keep her soft lashes and for your favorite girl to get a mysterious stain on her cheek that won't come off without a full head replacement. Consider this my preemptive strike against your stupid smelly failure. Also the old stuff isn't coming back, BeForever is the way things are from now on. You can't have the old looks, the NOLA girls are gone, Pleasant Rowland wasn't the Lord Goddess of Historical accuracy by a long shot, and there's not going to be any return to the past of how you want AG to be or plaid dresses for Samantha no matter how many likes your ill punctuated mewling little wet pants baby rants on the AG Facebook page and Instagram filtered Samantha selfies get. Stop being an irritating little buttboil on Facebook and move on. I have worked customer service and the people having to reply to these things are both sighing in irritation and laughing at you. You're now in the file of "stupid jackass customer." Ahem.

We're starting with Addy, of course. She's my first girl--and the best.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Historical Clothes Reviews: Samantha's Play Dress and Pinafore

Nellie-girl, looking properly Edwardian.
Aooga! Aooooga! Less than two weeks to the BeForever Launch! All hands on deck! Batten the hatches and hard to starboard! It's the return of Samantha and her ruffles and new books and people mewling that Teal Wasn't Around in 19321 or that this is "extremely traumatizing"--which if the redo of a doll line from a major company that isn't catering to you specifically is your biggest trauma in the last year and change, I am glad you haven't really had major problems. I for one am so excited I can barely sit still for the want of new things for Addy, Kit, Josefina, Kaya, and the others. I may be at the launch--working things out with buddies--and will likely give y'all my happy reviews that Friday, seeing as I won't be at PAX til Saturday. Doll blogging gaming nerds unite! Our moddies have a 3DS and take pics with nerds.

If you have spent any time on this blog, you've heard me nearly pop a vessel at the fact that AG marketed Samantha Parkington as a bright "Victorian" beauty for a majority of her release. This is because it's wrong. I refuse to let her be referred to as Victorian. Samantha, and the time period from 1900 til about 1910 is better called Edwardian, if we're going to tie American eras to British monarchs. Queen Victoria of England--who the era was named for--died in 1901, and while most eras don't have a definitive end date we have this as a record so good goddamn there's no excuse. Sam's series not only is set in the US--despite the whole "England was the center of Western culture" thing going on til about WW2--but in 1904, which is well into the Edwardian era. The Edwardian era was big on fighting the rigid class hierarchy and societal positions and assumptions that had been thought of as default in the prior era. Women sought rights, the common laborer was pushing back against the idea that it was all right for them to be exploited in the name of progress, and people of color were fighting back against the idea that they just had to put up with white people shit and their colonizing everything and killing people just because they could. In the US, the better term is probably the Progressive Era, which ran from about the 1890s to the 1920s and was characterized by the reformation of government, society, and economic policy. Samantha's books--well at least the first two2--emphasis a rebellion against the class structures that characterized the Victorian era. Grandmary is Victorian minded, but even by the end of the main series she's opening up her mind. So for the sweet love of fucking ruffled bloomers, hairbows, and gingerbread, stop calling Samantha Victorian. Addy is more Victorian--at least Queen Victoria was alive then.

I may not have tons of love for Samantha the doll, but she's starting to be an okay distant character and I do like her time period. Which, at the launch of AG, was one of the big throwbacks of the 80s; there was a huge revival of late Victorian and early Edwardian fashions and trends. So Samantha and the AG launch took a bite down on that and held on, and that's why so many years we're looking at her again to be the bridge to support a relaunch of the Historical Line. When I first started having AG pop on my radar in the late 80s I was not much into Samantha, because I much more preferred the idea of the Pioneer era thanks to it being a huge thing at my elementary school. I did like some of Samantha's clothes, but I was very much of the mindset that each doll kept to her own era, and that was that. You stayed in your lane, and I didn't like Princess Samantha, and her stuff was not allowed. And since I didn't want her, I didn't have her stuff. This carried through my first years of actually collecting after I got Addy--with a few exceptions such as kimono and yukata--until Kaya arrived. Kaya was not going to stay stuck in the Braids Beads and Buckskins mentality and pulled on a set of jeans, thus becoming my first Historical/Moddie blend. Then, several years back, I and a collector friend of mine, Jane, came upon a store locally that sold secondhand AG clothes. They had Samantha's Play Dress and Pinafore among some other older, retired outfits. I decided that if I hated it that much, I could always sell it secondhand and bought it and the Tea Dress. I put it tentatively on Marisol, Marisol looked goddamn gorgeous, and that was all she wrote.3 I started picking up Sam's things for her and then Rebecca's, and expanded my collection focus.

But the outfit. When Samantha launched with Molly and Kirsten in 1986, she only came with stuff and things from her first three books, followed later by her last three books and the stuff from that. Then in 1989, she recieved an outfit not on the cover of her books but mentioned in her very first book, her Play Dress and Pinafore: a blue checked dress, a matching hairbow, and a white pinafore for $22. Samantha, being rich, did not have a work dress. Originally the outfit did not come with the lacy socks--but these were later added by 1999 when the huge Wishes Catalogues came out. I think I paid about that much. I got the socks and shoes--which are part of this review--in Samantha's Shoes and Socks set for $15 when I was building up Marisol's turn of the century wardrobe. The pinafore was retired in 2006 and the shoes and socks set went down with Sam's initial retirement. Right now we don't know for certain that it's on the way back in a few weeks or a new version of it. Ignoring the stupid spikes on eBay for the outfit, it can be gotten for about $25-30 bucks with everything. The shoes and socks go for dumb prices and I would not pay them. My dress is a PC version, but I'm sure there's little to no difference in this one and the Mattel one.

Since Nellie recently joined my gang this January, she now has the beautiful distinction of getting to model a lot of Samantha's clothes for reviews. I dickered on getting Nellie before her retirement in 2008, so I got her more recently when a buddy of mine in AG collecting wanted her to find a good home when she was downsizing her collection and held on to her for me for a long time. Nellie O'Malley is a mix of moddie and Historical, and now she can wear all Sam's stuff for reviews (cause gods knows Tara has to be dragged kicking and screaming into it). I don't have much for Nellie directly out of her collection except her meet dress, so she'll be rocking Sam's stuff. Nellie shares my birthday--October 15th--and is a much more practical, sensible, thoughtful, and knowledgeable girl than flighty, froofy, head in the clouds Samantha. It's really terrible how she got shuffled off in the books by Valerie Tripp/on AG's order because she really sort of smacked Samantha out of her privilege just by being her friend, and her being pushed off until book 6 was terrible. 

Freckles everywhere!
Also, fun fact? I didn't like the sparse freckles on her and so added a ton more, including three on her chin and one on her lip.

Review ahoy~!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

AG Complaint Department: The Ten-Year Rise and Fall of the Best Friend Line

So long, girls. The Era ends with you.
Have you been living under a rock for a few months in the AG community? I haven't, even if I have no need to post something every day on this blog. This is not Tumblr1 and I'm not a news blog cause I don't need to be. I've got stuff coming up that y'all will like--the gang is up to another girl--and tons of reviews and shit. But I'd like to address the end of the Best Friends line before the launch of BeForever at the end of this month, so that on occasion my articles can seem timely.

If you've had a pulse on the AG community for any time since about January to March, you'll have heard whispers of both Samantha's return and the retirement of Marie-Grace and Cécile. Many people saw the end coming through whispers, catalog scans that didn't include the others, and jabber from personal shoppers. Finally in May, AG officially stepped up and said that Marie-Grace, Ruthie, Ivy, and Cécile are going into the Archives. This is in preparation for the launch of BeForever--a rebranding of the Historical characters to focus on the main AG characters and appeal to girls again. This includes new clothes, the return of the emphasis on girls being the same in essence through history, using new ways to appeal to old ones--aw yiss, apps and nets--and rumors that include removing illustrations from the books to appeal to older children.2 This does not include their best friends or the NOLA Girls. There's several articles that have been published on news sites and around discussing how this removes the only black character that hasn't been a slave and the only Asian-American character in the lineup. I'm not going to knock them in any way. They're right in saying that with Ivy getting booted, we don't have a Asian American character represented in history anymore--and that Cécile is the only well to do pretty princess we've had that was black. But neither girl really got a chance to hold down the fort herself, and the best Friends Line was a poor way to put both of them in. 

For the most part, the Best Friends Line did not do much for AG's bottom line or their appeal to the historical characters, and the one time it touched the moddies it tanked hard. While the Best Friend Line had its appearances of successes, it also had its problems--lots of them. I do kind of like the idea of best friends and two girls sharing an era, and a lot of my historicals have theirs. Edith has Dorothy, Kimmy has Tyanna, Addy has Sarah, and Felicity has pretty brunette Elizabeth. I'm even debating finally creating Charlotte's stepsister/close friend from Caroline.3 And the most technical sense, I have several of the Best Friends: Nellie, Cécile (though she's not a best friend, she's a split collection--more on that later), Kimmy ("Ivy"), and Sonali. A lot of people will talk about the good of the line. But I feel like the AG community and the purchasing population at large didn't really feel the Best Friends Line, and that it going down is going to overall be a good thing.

If you haven't clicked onto this, this is all my perception. I'm not a marketing mogul, I've never worked for AG in my life, and I majored in English. These are just my opinions as someone who came into AG at the small start of the Best Friends Line, and saw how things came--and now, how they're going, along with things one of the members of the forums has observed and I'm alright with passing along. You're not here for numbers. You're here for my opinions, education, snark, and to learn better about the kyriarchy and how to tear it down. 

Let's start the same way AG did: with Samantha and Nellie.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pet Reviews: Coconut (2002), Honey (2009), Chocolate Chip (2011) and Himalayan Kitten (2014)

AG has made a lot of small animal things.
American Girl has always had a level of pet to its collections, starting with the release of the birthday collections for Molly and Kirsten. Samantha, who apparently was too posh to pet, got a teddy bear as her "pet" until Jip came out with her first revamp, and it may be likely that she'll come back with a pet. A very early issue of AG Magazine1 focused on girls and their animals. And I more than anyone went through a pony stage that has never ended, thank you Almighty Hasbro and your one true Creation, the My Little Pony. Overall, girls and pets generally go together. And since AG knows girls like animals, and AG likes money, AG has released a lot of pets. Every historical at some point has had a pet from Addy's bird in a cage to Felicity's huge-ass horse. Even the Girls of the Year are getting in on this pet action and have since the days of Kailey.2 And of course, there is Coconut.

A short intro about the Coconut Gang. PC had a rather pitiful showing for modern pet sets: Baxter the Bunny, a husky dog to pull the AG sled, and Penny being made to be the stand in horse outside of her collection. Then in the year 2000 Mattel--now fully in charge of this crazy shack--came out with Coconut, a white Westie dog. Male initially, Coconut flipped to female in 2001, got dress up sets, and started showing up on moddie outfits. In 20033 Licorice--a black cat--was released to become what would be the first of many pets based on and hanging around with Coconut, most with food-based names and appearing on clothing options for the moddie on the go. Several pets have come and gone, but they've all had a base in a little white fluffy dog that has been around for fourteen years.

I've had a few pets in my life--birds, cats, a couple dogs--but I've never really had a love for Coconut. I'm more of a cat person. However, my husband is allergic to cat fur--like, his eyes will crust over and his throat gets all coughing and wheezing allergic--and we don't have much space for pets anyways in my house, AG collection notwithstanding. So my pet options right now are limited to nothing, stuffed animals, cursing out the squirrels outside, and small AG animals. Over the years I've managed to get four official modern AG pets:
  • Coconut v.2, that ran from 2001-2004;
  • Honey, a golden retriever released and retired in 2014 with the pet revamp;
  • Chocolate Chip, a Labrador retriever released and currently only available in the Service Dog Set;
  • And most recently, the Himalayan Kitten released in 2014. 
This has resulted in me having at least one of every major "pet shape". These reviews are both coverings and going into some of the variations on Coconut pets we've had over the years. I'll talk about how I got each one; only one so far has been purchased direct from AG.

Before I dip into the pet reviews, just a thing. You may notice a Paypal donate button to the side. That's recently added. Here's the thing: I've been unemployed for well over two years and come from generational poverty. I do write books--and will probably put another of those up on the Createspace--have a modest etsy account which needs more AG stuff, and my man keeps me on my feet. But for the most part I don't have a steady income and we live in a capitalist society until the revolution comes. So if you like what I read and would like to toss a couple bucks my way in appreciation, that would be boss. It's of no obligation to anyone; at no point will there be a cost to hear me bitch and ramble and scoot around on my side.

Anyways, on with the reviews!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Clothes Reviews: School Stripes Dress (2014)

Tyanna Lewis, looking funky fresh in the School Stripes Dress--with add-ons.
Fashion trends cycle. And while some people complain that this happens too much--generally when what they wore comes back in for the next round--it's always been a thing if you look back through clothing history. Men's clothing settled down around the early 19th century into the suit and pants set until a shift to a more casual look in the mid-to-late twentieth century that said "screw having to wear suits everywhere"; even with the flip to casual tops and pants men's clothing still hasn't done many major changes since about the 60s other than extremes in fashion and stand out subcultures. However, women's clothing styles changed and still change pretty frequently and often have an influence calling back to an earlier time. The Federal/Empire/Regency1 fashions gained influence from the idea of the ancient Greco-Roman period, and the idea of loose, free flowing clothing as opposed to the rigid corsets and firm, powdered formality of the earlier Colonial period. The empire waistline dresses of the 1960s see influence from the Empire era. The 70s had a lot of faux peasant influences and pioneer trends emerging from the bicentennial of the US. There has been at least one Victorian resurgence, not even counting the Goth subculture. And as my mom let me know through my entire high school career in the late 90s, the wide bell pants, midriff tops, and super high platform sandals that I perfected walking in were pretty much the same things she wore when my older sister was a tot.

This is a lot of words to say that yes, the 80s are back in fashion for young girls and it's now my adulthood joy to cringe at the return of floofy skirts, skinny leg jeans, oversized shirts, lace headbands, and leggings being worn as pants. And while I half cringe at this, on the AG side it doesn't bother me at all and I want more of it. Because I have two 1980s Historical Characters--best friends Kyung-Mi "Kimmy" Kim and Tyanna Lewis--and the resurgence in 80s clothing means I have build up a decent wardrobe for them from off the rack wear. For about a year or so, Target had a line called Play Wonder that with mix and matching could pretty much evoke the the 80s; I got enough to really built their wardrobe up, along with some older not quite 80s but close early moddie clothes. There's a few things I'd like to make that will require use of my old fashion designer sets, the sewing machine, and watching a lot of Punky Brewster and early Full House, but Kimmy and Tyanna have a pretty good style between the two of them and they're distinct in what they like to wear.

So when I saw the School Stripes Dress in the most recent releases, I was pretty much like "yep, that's pretty damn 80s, let's get it." I picked this up July 4th at AG Seattle while doing my part to celebrate the US by buying shit, so this is one of my rare "it's still out to get" reviews--this one just about two weeks after release. The set costs $28 and is one of the smallest modern AG clothes sets released; not including the charm, it has a striped long sleeved dress and a pair of pull on flopped tennis shoes. No headbands, no bracelets, no socks. Pretty damn basic. I'm not even looking at the eBay prices. The set hasn't even been out for a month. Just get it from AG direct, drag it.

Tyanna was picked to premiere the set; they both don't mind skirts but Kimmy is currently in her meet set.2 Tyanna Janelle Lewis--who joined when a friend in the AG community wanted to send her to a new home and knew I was looking for her for Kimmy's best friend--is bouncy, musical, fashionable, and more sensitive and less absent-minded than her best friend. She's into studying space and science (especially the solar system3), Girl Scouts, the best of  black 80s music (Pointer Sisters, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, etc), video games, being part of the gifted program at school with her best friend, dancing, and art. Her braids are not as fine/thin as I'd like, but I'm working on them--and on adding pony beads to the end. Since the outfit alone is not 80s enough for my or Tyanna's tastes, I've added on some components I will point out rather than just review the set alone, though my final thoughts will be sans what was added on.

On with the review!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Why I'm an Outsider - Part Two: There's Fundies In My Fandom

Two dolls and too deep in the madness of the American Girl Fandom, circa 2006.
So there I was, barely two months into the American Girl fandom, with only Addy Walker to my name. And I had already gotten in trouble for talking about a standard part of human anatomy because babies get here by sparkledust and fairy tales and don't you forget it. I was starting off on a great note, let me tell you internets.

On the collection front, Addy's collection was growing slow but steady, and I had very recently gotten my first post-college sewing machine, a Janome 3125 (nicknamed Janome Halloween-Giftmas) that I still have as a travel machine. I had even attempted to remake two outfits that had been retired out of her collection1 and started to design my own for her, including one as a reaction to Addy getting left out of a release again. But, having been smacked once by the Hand of Mod and not in the mood to be smacked again, I did what was Standard Neth Operating Procedure at the time.

I lurked like a motherfucker.

I didn't totally lurk. I still posted things and tried to get along with people and be friendly to the others on the board. But as the old saying goes, I kept my head down and my nose clean. Without standing out too much or getting in trouble and while guarding my words heavily, I watched how people posted and saw the community actually felt, and tried to figure out how not to make an ass of myself again.

This is how I found out that there was an underlying level of Christianity, fundamentalism, and financial enabling that I look back on and get more than a little skeeved out about.

Prologue: Not Such a Sweet Baby Face
Part One: Finding AG Fans, or How Periods are Bad For Children

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rambled Opinions and General Snarkiness: June 2014 Big Summer Blowout

And I don't even like Frozen.1
The Summer Releases for AG are out--100% Moderns and Wonderbread Stuff. And I'd be remiss in my snark if I didn't get on this and start bitching. And honey do I have a lot of bitching to give.

On the retirement front, Cécile and Ruthie are gone and the other stuff is going fast. Good thing I have what I want.

Who likes short openings followed by a cut? You do!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Historical Clothes Reviews and Historical Accessories: Addy's Meet Outfit and Meet Accessories

Addy meets the world! And runs this joint.
Did you miss me? I'm sure you did. I'm pretty awesome. I got back home about a week ago, but circumstances got in the way of my posting. I'm sure you still love me, and I'll try to get back on a regular weekly schedule. Anyways, enough chatter from me, and more posting. I'm here to both review and educate, and I plan on doing both.

If you didn't know--and how could you not?--now you know: BeForever is coming down the pipeline. This is a revamping of the Historical Characters Line that will be resulting in a lot of changes to appeal to a new generation of children and the return of the doll Everyone Loves to Kiss the Ass of, Samantha Parkington. Some changes I've seen the leaks of include new Meet Outfits, redone Central Series books1 that will be bundled into two-book volumes, and new outfits and accessories. This has also resulted in the official retirement of the Best Friends Line (with Ruthie Smithens the first doll to drop out of the race and end up out of stock). While not every Historical will be getting redone clothing--Caroline, for one, will be keeping her current look--several are getting a whole new Meet. Including my favorite girl, Addy Walker.2 So I'm likely going to go over her and several other Historical Character's meet sets in some reviews.

Before we talk about her meet outfit, let's have some history education, Today is actually a very historically significant day in Black American History: Juneteenth. Juneteenth marks the last day that slaves in the US learned that they were free. Everyone knows about the Emancipation Proclamation, which announced the end of slavery. But that was just in the Confederate States--and only in places not already under Union control. Plus it didn't apply to the border states--states with slavery that didn't secede. Hell, Delaware and Kentucky still had slavery legal until the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified. The Emancipation Proclamation was less a "Lincoln freed the slaves" moment of equality and more "Lincoln wanted to cut off a major part of the South's production and fuck them up" war maneuver. But given the circumstances, black people took what they could get.

Anyways, freedom for slaves! In theory. The Confederacy--Texas included--didn't give a single fuck what those Yankee bastards had to say, and ignored the shit out of the news. And unlike nowadays, news didn't move very fast, and if you didn't tell someone news, they just didn't know. So as the Union Army worked its way south and west and took shit down, they would tell the slaves "oh by the way, you've been free since January first, 1863, get on that." Also, travel was slow as shit, not helped by the fact that there was, you know, a fucking war on. This all led up to the fact that Texas kept its slaves for practically the entire war and a few months afterwards.

It wasn't until June 18th 1865--over a month after the official end of the war on May 10th (and three days before the final shot was fired on June 22nd by the CSS Shenandoah) that a Union General, Gordon Granger, and federal troops showed up on Galveston Island. They took Texas back for the Union and enforced emancipation. On June 19th, General Granger got up on the balcony of the Ashton Villa and let the black folk of Texas know that they were free people and that this was the way shit was. Celebrations started immediately and were formally done the next year in 1866--and have, in some way, been happening ever since. This makes Juneteenth one of the oldest Black History celebrations in the US. In Texas it was made a Texas state holiday in 1980--the same year I was born--and in the 80s and 90s when my black ass was growing up in Texas the celebration was in major revival and spread across the nation. So yes, Addy would have likely participated in Juneteenth celebrations at some point.

Back to her meet outfit. Addy Walker's debut in 1993 added the first doll of color to the AG lineup and the first girl with earrings--permanent as they are. She came with her first three books illustrated by Melodye Rosales and a lot of neat shit that I absolutely coveted and now pretty much have all of--including the desk. Addy's meet outfit--until the relaunch--consists of a pink and white dress, white drawers, black stockings, black boots, and a blue hair ribbon. Her accessories--for $20 originally and bumped up to $24 as prices rose--are a straw bonnet, half-dime, kerchief, water gourd, and a cowrie shell necklace. You've got til August 28th before the revamp to get her in original form; after that, you're looking at eBay prices which range from "that's not so bad" to "you're getting ripped off, honey." But you'd probably still be able to find them for respectable costs since she's been around for over twenty years. Addy was a Giftmas Gift to me in 2005 and my first AG ever, so I paid "ohmigawd I love you in-laws you are the best" for it. Unlike several meet outfit and accessory sets, Addy's entire outfit is given major significance in her books: the outfit (and hat) is the first outfit she is given by Miss Caroline on her way running to freedom in the north, and the accessories are all mentioned in her first book.

Oh, and the background isn't my usual fully backed green for the most part; it's the wall of my mom's place on top of one of her display tables, and the images are a little yellow in places because of the lighting at the time. I meant to make this post while in Texas, but so much came up that it didn't get posted. And with my scanner in WA State, I couldn't give you all the beautiful data I like to give with my historical reviews so it all works out.

On with the show!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Clothes Review: Colonial Williamsburg Doll Dresses and Hats

Felicity and Elizabeth: gay as springtime.
So I'm heading to my yearly Texas Vacation, which means that the reviews I meant to get done all May will have to be put off again. Granted, I'm taking my Samantha all-in-one book, Addy, and Charlotte--but the more detailed stuff will have to wait a bit. Such is life. I get swept up in life stuff and look up at my calendar and son of a bitch, half of May is gone.1 But I'm not a news blog, so it's not like I have to report on the new stuff immediately. Speaking of the new stuff, yes I know the following:
  • BeForever is Coming AKA the revamp of the Historical line. I'm actually excited for it, even if it means buying a whole new set of Addy books again. And a not!Addy to get that beautiful blue dress. The illustrations aren't so bad, and there's nothing cuter than Addy and her baby sister on the cover of that volume 2, fight me.
  • Samantha is coming out of the AG vault, done known for a while. She gonna be paaaaaaaank.
  • Cecile and Marie-Grace are looking at retirement, as are Ivy and Ruthie, so I need to get Ivy's Chinese Dress and then figure out what to do with it. Ruthie I never wanted anything for or to have, so eh, and I have all the Cecile stuff I want. 
  • Wonderbread's Movie is on the way down the pipeline. I will watch it but I'll be dragged if I'm buying it. That's what NBC broadcasts are for.
Are we all caught up? Good. Now I can do this review and pic blurbing.

One of the neat things about my collection is that I've never felt obligated to just get clothes for any of my gang members from AG direct. Not only do I craft outfits myself, I look at other craft places and outlets for buying: etsy, eBay, Toys R Us, Target,2 and the like. I never understood people who only wanted AG stuff for their AG girls; AG makes nice things, but they don't have to be the only people getting your cash money. Branch out, for the love of gods.

One of the sources worth considering is Colonial Williamsburg.3 Williamsburg, Virginia basically has a living museum where visitors can see what the place was like in the era around the time of the American Revolution. I've never had a chance to go--some day, damn it--but I have been interested in it since I was a teenager. They have an online shop, which is how I've gotten everything I've gotten from them. The stuff to buy ranges from books to bedsheets, jewelry to mobcaps. A lot of what they have is for adults and/or the house, but there's also cloth dolls, plush, and patterns. Plus I have an e-mail subscription to their mailing list, so I get discount coupons. A few weeks ago I ordered a set of outfits for Felicity and Elizabeth: two doll dresses in purple and pink and matching straw hats. They also come in children's sizes that match and there are adult sized dresses, but not with matching prints. Alas, there goes my cosplay idea.

It's a touch hard to find them on the site; the best bet is to just search "doll" or go through the Made in America section. (ETA 3/11/17: My links now point to the sets I got.) The items were made in Colonial Williamsburg from reproduction fabric: the dresses cost $35 each, and the hats $16, so you're looking at $51 per set. I had a 20% off coupon plus free shipping, making each set about $41, so relatively good to an AG set--and considering that Felicity and Elizabeth's stuff is all in the Vault and has to be purchased off the secondary market, it's a good cost. This is half review and half fluff pictures, since I took the girls outdoors.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Accessories Reviews: Lindsey's Laptop and Bag (2001)

Man, has technology changed in thirteen years.
April has been a very tiring month for multiple reasons: some good, some bad, some still up in the air. The fun part of chronic invisible illness/disability is that sometimes, I literally can't do much beyond playing Pokémon X, hitting the reblog button on tumblr, posting on/reading SA1 threads, and catching a bunch of Vivillon on my secondary decommissioned 3DS system to get some rare patterns. But don't worry, my loyal readers (and not so loyal haters, why are you here). I'm still kicking around, trying to get things done in bits and pieces. Believe in the Neth. She does things as she can get to 'em.

A lot of people who participate in the American Girl Fandom fall into one of two major camps: people who had access to the dolls and/or books as a child and have either continued to stay attached or returning after a hiatus, or adults who got into the company in because their children2 found out about AG and thus they latched on to it and persevere after their child has put away their own dolls. This leads to both camps having a crisis of age when they realize they're no spring chicken anymore and times of their childhood are now historical. Julie was a special litmus test on the fandom: with rumors of and then release in 2007, many women who grew up in the 70s began to lament that the 70s couldn't be historical, because it meant that their childhood was historical.  I have even seen the ludicrous3 claim that historical fiction must be at least fifty years old to actually be historical. Which is bullshit. History happens every day, and every day over is another day in the books of history. I made a joke in a book I'm working on when my characters argued that history was anytime before reliable indoor plumbing, but it's just that: a joke. Serious claims that history can't be the 70s will make me laugh right in your face and call you out. Accept the fact that you/your parents are older than twenty-nine and live with it.

One of the major things that scream that history is always ongoing is technology. While early centuries of technological advancement were in less large jumps, the last twenty to thirty years alone have had an explosion of technology--and just looking at the 20th century shows the major changes, Live music playing went to sound recordings went to phonographs went to record players to 8-tracks to cassettes4 to CD to mp3s; from short silent film to talkies to color, radio to TV to streaming boxes, hand drawn animation to CGI--from movies only being able to be seen in theaters to being able to download and stream a movie that just came out a few months ago when I need background noise. And when it comes to computers--whew. When I started on a computer, I typed hunt-and-peck style on an Apple IIe at my grandmother's house when I was four years old. Now I communicate with that same grandmother online over the internet.

American Girl has not released much in the way of doll tech. Whether this is to avoid dating themselves--too late, moddies have dated ways already--because parents whinge that dolls don't need all that tech to play with, or because it's cheaper to ignore it, they don't really give their modern a lot of technological play items. But a few of the Girls of the Year have had some technology. And they started it off with Lindsey Bergman and her Laptop and Bag. After her release in 2001, she plodded along for about two years before retirement in 2002, doing so poorly that AG was debating that maybe this modern limited line wasn't going to be a big thing. Lindsey had a very tiny collection--she didn't even have a change of clothes--and for accessories, all she had was her laptop set and her scooter set, with the laptop set going originally for $32. The set not only came with a laptop styled organizer, but a shoulder bag, two faux CDs, diary, and pencil. The laptop design was later reused (with different colors) for the Backpack and Laptop in 2002, thus starting the trend of LE stuff being released in a new form. I have the backpack and one CD from that, which will get a look over in a Bits and Bobbles review.

While I will never pay the costs for a Lindsey (can't say I like her all that much personally) I had been peeking about for her laptop, or at least a doll sized one. Last month I managed to luck out on a set for only $29 with shipping, and was delightfully surprised to find that it was new in box and had never been used. eBay costs vary; anywhere from retail cost to triple that or more, and it doesn't show up very often. Since I don't have Lindsey, Kanani will be our adorable presenter as needed. 

Kanani will be your tech girl for this dab into the past.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Blather Book Reviews: Meet Samantha: An American Girl

Meet Samantha: She started it.
 Every blog in the AG blogosphere--and on one notable messageboard to be torn apart later--tend to carry themselves on item reviews. They will go on and on and on about AG clothing, accessories, and dolls to draw you in. This ranges from really crappy reviews that don't tell you shit to good, detailed closeups on each component. Item reviews are everywhere. Throw a rock at a PC Molly, you can find people waxing and waning about everything from her tiny lunchbox to her saddle shoes. And I do carry a lot of my blog on item reviews. However, I also pride myself on being crazy about books. What can I say, Libras love books.1 And when I say I love books, I mean it. I have, for example? Every Central Series, every short story, every paper doll, All-in-One collections for most of the ones that got em, every History Mystery, the old Craft and Cook Books...

I have so many AG books they won't fit on a shelf alone.

That's just one snapshot of my shelf. I can't get them all in one shot.
I've been meaning to add on to Magazine Monthly by adding in Book Blather, also known as Book Reviews. A few points about my reviews before we jump in:
  • You're not getting a point-by-point summary. Summaries are for the AG Wiki. Go buy the damn books or check them out from the library. This is more like liveblogging. I grab a book, read it (they take me like a half hour at most), and say how I feel, including sprinkings of lesbianism and snarky character names. You know me by now. If you've ever read BSC Snark?2 It's more like that.
  • I'm going in semi chronological order. That is, according to character release. I'm starting with Sam, Kirsten, and Molly, and then moving through the others as they arrived. This way if someone new shows up, I can add them to the end and keep going.  
  • I will do a full Central Series for a character before going into the next. It's easier that way.
  • Illustrations will be added here and there, either scanned by me or sourced by the AG Wiki.3 In the case of Sam and Addy, I will pick the one I like better. (Chances are with Addy this will be Melodye Rosales and Dahl Taylor, cause Buford Brown's art is shit.) With Sam, it will vary depending on which picture I like better.
  • I generally like the second ed book covers for the Historicals that ran from about 2000-2004. While I can't get these for anyone after Kaya, if I can find them for the others I will. 
  • I'm an adult. I look at these books like an adult. Comments that these books are aimed at children don't matter. Children don't like dumb books any more than adults do. Plus, I'm writing for people over the range. 
  • This won't just be AG books--it'll also cover other AG-style books that I have. 
On to the book.

As it has come up on the AG fandom (and like some babycakes anon tried to "inform" me on an older post, like I had no idea, hah that's cute piss off), Samantha is coming back to AG Availability this fall and she'll likely be bringing a full frontal Historical revamp with her. Might as well start with the heaviest Historical Face they've got.

Meet Samantha: An American Girl was written by Susan S. Adler. Google searches don't show any other books written by her other than Book One and Two of Samantha's Series. The first ed books were illustrated by Nancy Niles; the second release was done by Dan Andreasen. Like Sam herself, the book came out in 1986. Trivia! Until the reillustrations, the only place to see Sam's meet dress was on the cover of the book. It wasn't in the inner pictures.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Clothes Reviews: Blue Jean Basics II (1999) and the Liebster Award

More blue jean basics, now with Kanani.
While March was hit and miss for decent weather, April comes in here in the Pacific Northwest--or at least, the part I'm in--with fairly good weather. I've planted new strawberry plants in the garden,  my old one has come back from winter sleep still healthy, and I think my avocado trees are doing very well.1 I'm hoping for longer days and sunshine and continued blogging. Let's jump on that continued blogging bit and do another review--and a bonus at the end. 

By 1999,2 the American Girl Today Line was actually doing pretty well. They were on their third meet outfit, had a decent wardrobe, and while they were not the juggernaut that they are today, they had a pretty good foothold as an AG line. And after the pitiful showing of 1997, '98 and '99 were actually pretty good for clothes and accessories. One of the sets that came out was a sequel, as it were, to the recently retired Blue Jean Basics: Blue Jean Basics, Part II--also known as the Jeans, Shirt, and Shoes, because AG was fond of having double names for everything. For the same cost as before--$22--the set came with a white long sleeved top, pale jeans, purple socks, and black lace up shoes. (No belt in this set.) eBay searches will get you both the '95 set and the '99 set, with this set being a little rarer to find than the first one. Still it goes for anywhere for $20 to 30; I paid above retail at $29, with an extra $5 for the socks. Much more than that is ridiculous. And while I don't think my socks are authentic AG ones--I got mine separate--they're purple socks, and they'll do.

Kanani, like Mellie in the last review, had this set on before the holidays.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

AG Complaint Department: I'm a Mattel, I'm a PC Part 1

Marisol's a "Mattel", Josefina's a "PC". I don't care.
If you're part of the AG Fandom--and honestly, 90% of the people reading this blog are part of the AG fandom, it's a niche topic I'm talking on here--then you've probably had to deal with a lot of Pleasant Company nostalgia on message boards and among collectors. To paraphrase Douglas Adams and make a long story very short, "In 1998 Mattel bought American Girl from Pleasant T. Rowland, Founder of American Girl, for seven hundred million dollars. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded by nostalgia goggle collectors as a bad move."

Spend any time around some boards and you'll pick up the vibe. Pleasant Company love and Mattel Hate is everywhere. Many collectors will talk wistfully of  the days when Addy's Meet Accessories came with authentic gourds and Felicity's eyes were a soothing green and Samantha's hair was apparently so fresh and curly you could just fluff it all day. Many people will pay more to have a PC doll or accessory set rather than get a Mattel one. There are multiple posts around the internet telling you how to tell a PC doll from a Mattel in the same way people try to tell authentic coins, stamps, or vintage items. Some people say that PC stuff is automatically worth more than anything Mattel made. In fact, many people call dolls and items made before Mattel purchased the company PM--or "Pre-Mattel", as if the ownership by Mattel has tainted our precious 18 inch semi-historical dolls.

If a person prefers PC stuff, that's one thing. I'm not going to bitch too hard about that. But many of them shit all over Mattel's releases and turn their nose up towards anything not PC, and in the process come off wholly, willfully ignorant. I recently came across a post on a blog (I won't link) that stated the following without a hint of irony:
Let's face it, anything Pleasant Company is better quality. Those of us who collect PC can see the difference. Kit's candy making set would have had a metal not a plastic double boiler with plastic candy molds. And Kit would not wear a PINK dress, still they insisted on giving her a pink polyester chiffon dress. 
I find this hilariously stupid for the big glaring reason that Kit, released in 2000, was released wholly by Mattel. Yes, random blogger, I'm sure that the Historical Character that was never released by PC would have totes released her stuff the way you're saying.

Not everything PC has released has been better. I don't deny that Mattel has done a lot of weird, unusual, badly planned, and altogether shitty things since they got the company. But so did Pleasant Company and Pleasant Rowland in the twelve years before Mattel stepped in, and I'm not about to let the early years of the company off the hook for their actions.

This is going to be a side series--basically, I'll just go into four to five things about Pleasant Company I don't like with each post, because there's no way I can get this in one post.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Why I'm an Outsider - Part One: Finding AG Fans, or How Periods are Bad for Children

Oh, Addy, if we'd only known what was comin'.
So, I've been thinking long and hard about how to write up my story about my entrance into, time in, and hard booting out from the majority of the American Girl Fandom. It's been a touch over eight years since my first foray into the American Girl Fandom in January 2006, so I have to go back in time mentally and really think about it. Hell, back then we didn't even have smartphones, flat-screen monitors or TVs (at respectable costs), or tablets. We still had Windows XP and the Gamecube. We'd just gotten the Nintendo DS. I'd just gotten my own Nintendo DS.

It's not so much uncomfortable as it is frustrating to look back on and see the shit I went through for AG. So far it's coming out to a ten-parter that covers the two and some years. That's right, I somehow managed to make myself blacklisted on two boards in less time than it takes for a child to go from fresh-squeezed Moro-reflex making1 fleshlump to general walky-and-talky sprog. The hard thing about talking is that it honestly wasn't one or two major incidents that started the spiral down from me wanting to be part of the American Girl Fandom to throwing my hands in the air and going it alone (until recently). There's at least two big hard hits and one striking slap, but there were little things and trips that tipped me off from the start that I was dealing with no small degree of bigotry.

Now, I generally won't be using names unless I can recall them, and all names will be the e-name I have. So you know, if your bitch ass used your real name as your screen name, sucks to be you bitch, maybe next time you won't use your powers as weapons.There will be one major case where I don't use a name, but it's less out of politeness and more out of persona non grata, damnatio memoriae.

I'm sure there's a person or two that thinks that this airing out of AG Fandom's dirty laundry is cruel or unneeded. Some people believe in forgive and forget. Some people forgive but never forget. I am neither of these people. If the cut is deep enough, I neither forgive nor forget, because fuck that, that's why. The idea that I am obligated to forgive the cruelties inflicted on me because of reasons such as enough time has passed (but it's been years!) and being the "bigger person" is a load of bull shit. Redemption is a rare thing and not easily given to those who fall from my grace hard enough to leave imprints on the soil.

About the pictures: a lot of my pictures to break up the text blocks are pics that will be semi-relevant to the times covered in the post, but not exactly on topic. I don't have much in the way of screen shots from the boards at the time--partially because I no longer have access to the boards in one way or another. The internet archival of message boards that lock themselves down lest people see the shit spewed is sporadic.2 But I do have older pictures of my gang, and pictures help break up reading online. Plus you get to see how I started on my photographing of AG. I'll also be linking to new posts as they go up and editing older posts to add in links. That way, when this series is said and done, a person can start at the prologue and straight-shot through the whole thing, like a novel with a bittersweet ending.

Prologue: Not Such a Sweet Baby Face