|Marisol's a "Mattel", Josefina's a "PC". I don't care.|
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.
Fat Ass PC Bodies
Lemme tell you a short story about upcoming reviews. I managed to get my hand on Gwen's1 and Chrissa's Meet outfits, because once in a while AG sells Girl of the Year stuff as secondary extra outfits under other names and you might be able to hop on it. (Sonali, of course, came in her own.) I got Gwenni in Gwen's because the beauty of such is not lost on me, Sonali in her own, and decided to stick Tara--a PC girl--in Chrissa's. The dress fit. The bracelet--the useless bit of outfit it is--fit.
Then I tried the shoes. And Tara's fat PC feet would not fit in Chrissa's shoes. I tugged, I sighed, I attempted to stretch and pull and wheedle her into them. Nothing worked. Eventually I gave up, put her in another outfit, and wrote it off.
This hasn't been the only thing that hasn't fit Tara, Michi, or any of my few PC girls. I've come across tight arms, uncomfortably close pants, and busted elastic.
This is because PC dolls came out chunkier than Mattel dolls. They have bigger feet, thicker limbs, and are bulkier in the body. When Mattel came along, they slimmed the bodies down and redid outfit lines and shoes to match the new dimensions of the bodies. Maybe it was to make the dolls more in what they felt was good. Maybe it's because they didn't have the original drafts. Maybe they wanted the dolls to stand up a little more. Maybe like the story of the olives,2 shaving off an inch in the middle saved millions in supplies for making clothes and shoes. Either way, if you're buying clothes for most dolls, they're going to be sized for a Mattel doll--generally, everything after about 2000-2002.
Many people bitch about Mattel "slimming" down the dolls, and the suggestion of taking out a little bit of the middle fluff to get a doll to fit in an outfit has led to people whining that this is beyond the pale. Shut up. I've done it. Josefina needed to be able to fit tin the Mattel sets I buy her, so I took out maybe a poof of stuffing and squished her some around the middle. She doesn't look "anorexic" (way to compare a doll to a eating disorder, assholes) or like a Barbie.3 She still looks like an AG girl.
If you have a PC doll and she won't fit in that new pretty outfit you just picked, don't bitch and moan that Mattel is trying to ruin your life. The dolls have been "slim" since the early 2000s. While you can't shave down their arms, you can take care of those linebacker shoulders and middles and remove some stuffing. The doll won't miss it.
|Kirsten and the very pale makeup: A story in one part.|
Yes, the argument goes from some people, little girls shouldn't wear the makeups and heavy blush and lipstick makes them look too painted. But we're not dealing with actual little girls, contrary to people's ways and treatment of their collection. We're dealing with dolls. Firm blush and a slight high contrast to the lip color to make them pop are something that make a plastic doll face look more realistic and less like a doll. There's a level of blushing and tints that need to be done to avoid weirdness.
I have done a face up on BJDs and customized MLP as well as AG dolls--and while a pale blush or pale tints to lips might seem okay, the fact is that to keep a doll out of the Valley of Uncanny, you have to put more color to a very pale plastic than you would think they need.
Shitty Meet Shoes For the First Three Girls
|Phoning in the Shoes.|
And the three of them got really bad shoes.
I've bitched about Samantha's and Molly's shoes before--hideous black plastic lumps of doll shoes that they got and that Nellie was subjected to as well. (Emily escaped with respectable t-straps.) But Kirsten didn't escape shoe fail. She got stuck for twenty-plus years with soft-soled weak boots that never got a replacement. There's no way she could have walked all over the wild frontier in those soft things. No wonder she asked for and got some nice red boots in her summer set--she needed some ankle support!
Should they ever pull her out of the AG Vault, they need to give her some good respectable shoes.It's not hard to do.
White Body: The Largest Fuck Up
|Fuck, the body don't match the limbs!|
I hate this look so much. I have since I discovered that white-bodied American Girl Dolls existed. Later more outfits came out with lower necklines--not super low, but neat--and when it was and so you get that weird disconnect between limbs and body. This didn't change until about 1990-1991, when Felicity came out and it was realized that colonial fashions don't go up to the neck--they dip near down to the breasts on all the girls--and so the bodies would have to match. Thank gods this changed. If Addy had come out with a white body, I might have spit tacks. As it is, I would never pay the inflated costs for a white body doll. I realize I'm buying dolls and so there's a level of non-realism, but the white muslin bodysuit look just really pisses me off so hard.
PC Felicity: Not For Me
Before I got Felicity, I heard a lot of bad things about what had happened to her in the process of re-releasing her. Her eyes were neon and her hair wasn't the right kind of red and they had changed her meet outfit and accessories and her lashes didn't match her hair and I was going to be totally disappointed with a Mattel one--maybe new clothes wouldn't fit, but the better things outweighed the bad. And thinking that people who had been in the fandom longer than me knew a little better--something that I would learn was so wrong later on--I considered it. I looked at PC Felicity auctions, but the cost felt high just to get a doll made before 2000. Then I decided that I'd try to handle a PC Felicity if at all possible, before committing to either side.
So I volunteered to host a traveling doll4--Traveling Felicity. She arrived with her outfits and box, a notebook to log her adventures, and all those bits that I'll explain later. I let her hang amongst my gang members in the the late summer and early fall of 2006, while I was still jobless. I took her to the Space Needle because when you live in Seattle you do that with people, and I took her on a tour of Nintendo and Microsoft because Nintendo had a nice little walk in facility at the time and Microsoft was just down the road, and I spent Talk Like a Pirate Day writing up a photostory with her and Naomi, my little pirate. I had a semi-decent time playing with a doll that had been shipped to me, and shipped her off to the next person.
I discovered I didn't like her. Her skin was too pale. Her hair was messy from age. Her face was off to me, she looked a little hunchbacked, and I didn't like the shade of red for her hair. Her eyes were slightly paler, but the negatives outweighed the positives. I ordered a Felicity from Mattel along with some outfits for Giftmas from my husband, and when my Lissie the Lezzie arrived I saw her eyes were just fine, her hair color was neat, and I loved her from day one. To this day I'm glad I didn't listen to the crowd and got the doll I wanted instead of assuming PC was Best.
|Dear Traveling Felicity: You convinced me to get a Mattel.|
There shall, of course, be more bitching about Pleasant Company issues. There will be more doll bitching, natch. But I plan to complain about the books, the clothing, the false marketing, and even St. Rowland the Venerated. For now, feel free to jump in with a bitch or two about PC dolls. I don't need to hear the Mattel ones. There's been enough of them.
1 Gwen is one of the most boring dolls I've ever seen released by AG, no shit. But that is a later complaint.
2 As the tale goes, the head of American Airlines managed to save several thousand dollars by yanking one of the olives out of every salad.
3 This will be a later rant.
4 Another rant/fussing as well.