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

Monday, March 3, 2014

Clothes Reviews: McKenna's Warm-Up Outfit (2012)

Warming it up--with Mellie, not McKenna. Cause I'm cool like that.
So, back on the review train. I stated that I'd stop the holiday reviews and hold those til the next holiday season, true. But I will still be doing mad reviews, cause that's one of the major drives that led to me starting my blog in the first place.1 Honestly, most people's reviews of AG stuff falls under of "this is cute, do like" or "A+++ WOULD THROW MONEY AT AG AGAIN" without very much breakdown of the components of the outfit or good close-ups, and we need less of that. Learn how to review.

As anyone who's spent more than five seconds on this blog knows,  I really, really can't stand Isabelle, AKA WonderBread the Ballerina. But she's not the only Girl of the Year that I have had an active, twisting "fuck you" feel towards. Lemme take you back just two years to 2012, when we had, after the magnificence of Kanani, the mediocrity of McKenna Brooks, GotY for 2012. As soon as I saw her, I hated her. I hated her name because I hate names beginning with Mc. I hated her focus because I was (and still am) 100% convinced that it was to capitalize on the gymnast that was favored to win the all around at London, and then the girl didn't even make it into the competition. I hated that she was whining that she didn't care about school cause she was going to be a super famous gymnast, when you burn out on that by age 20 most of the time thanks to the compression of the sport. I hated that she was set in Seattle, because I now live in the Seattle area and I didn't want this doll associated with my region. I hated her parents. I hated her bed because it came with a tiny copy of Charlotte's Web and I wanted that book alone.2 And I snarked all over her movie, because I could. She got slapped with the nickname McSeattle--only the first in a line of Refreshing Haterade names for GotY--and I have not regretted it.

But I at least liked a good portion of her clothes, which is more than I can say for Wonderbread. Over the course of the year I got my hands on McSeattle's pajamas, school set, and umbrella and rain boots--which I proceeded to give all of them to the mods, especially Mellie. The only other outfit I liked enough was her Warm-up Outfit: a jacket, windbreaker pants, sneakers, ponytail holders, and the new hotness in McKenna's clothes sets: a card on how to do her hairstyles her sets showed, this one being #1: Fishtail Braids.  There was just one problem with trying to get my hands on it easily, and that that was that it only came with her starter collection as a bonus. And I was not about to pay $185 for a doll I hated, her starter accessories, the two books I had already, and her practice uniform just to get a single outfit.3 Instead, I patiently waited for the eBay Fates to put one up for a decent not -stupid price--and I hit it in 2013 with a cost of $34.99 plus low shipping. eBay costs have jumped, however, into the $50+ range. This is straight up bullshit, don't do it.

Naturally, since Mellie Croom has made it her life goal to look twice as good in McKenna's clothes than she ever could, she's modeling this set. Mellie is about the closest I'll ever get to a AG me, in that she has my face shape, my semi-curls, and wears glasses. I actually took these pics before Mellie changed into holiday wear. I'm skilled like that.

Jacket. How did they get me to like orange?
Jacket: The jacket--the "top" of the set--is an orange and lavender gradated zip front sweatshirt knit jacket. We're not doing any undershirts with this, just jacket zip up, up, and away! In reality McKenna would have worn this over her gymnastics uniform maybe. Or with a t-shirt. Here I'm letting it get away without a shirt because it zips up all the way. The top of the jacket is lavender purple, and it gradates down to orange at the end on the cuffs and hem. It's of a thick material--jacket quality, but not too heavy. I can see it as a good over jacket on our early April days, minus the fact that this doesn't have a hood.4

Confession time: I really don't like orange as a color. Most shades of orange are too garish or bright for my tastes, and I'm more inclined towards the cooler side of the color chart, Applejack being an awesome pony not withstanding. I more put up with orange rather than like it, and I can count on one hand the number of orange things I wear. But this shade of orange doesn't bother me. I suspect the lavender tempered it out, so it's not as overpowering. This way, it comes off less as screaming annoying orange and more like the jacket is a sunrise or sunset. That appeals to me, sunsets.

Double collar, what does it mean?
The collar is a unique double tucked style, with some decorative gathering at the front. It's the most lavender part of the whole jacket, as the shade soon starts to fade into the orange. The shoulders are standard modern seams, not dropped ones.

Zipper. Up and shut cause we can't be flashing dolly chests.
The separating zipper is orange with a silver zipper pull, on which is the AG star. Hope you didn't forget who's making these sets! Everything is sewn or topstitched on the jacket in orange thread, including the zipper. This is fine, because generally you don't want to swap colors on a single piece of clothing if you don't have to--and if done well, most people won't notice.

Pockets, for the pocketing of stuff.
At the front--and because of the design, mostly orange--are two front pockets, in the kangaroo style. They're hemmed in orange ribbing and are moderately functional for doll clothes. You could get a dolly ID or something in there. The bottom hem is orange ribbing as well, and this picture shows the bottom part of the separating zipper.

Sleeve, also gradated. Kickass.
The sleeves are mostly undecorated, but they do the same gradation down from lavender to orange and have the same orange cuffs that the hem does. This is especially neat, because it is clear that the fabric was dyed this way instead of dip dyed or airbrushed post construction. It's likely that the pieces were colored after being laid out on the fabric that was going into the jacket, and then cut out en masse. Still, attention to details.

Star because AG does that. But not the AG star.
On the right sleeve is a purple star with two lines slicing from the upper right point down to the lower left, so that they form the star with the lines themselves. It's not the AG star. I think it's to help with the whole "McSeattle's team is the Shooting Stars" bit. I don't remember that hard and I'm not in the mood to get up and get my books, this outfit isn't even in them. 

Jacket off.
With the jacket off, the gradation remains clearly visible. There was a lot of thought put into the design of the jacket to make the colors come off well.

Seams and Linings. Including the underarm.
The underlining is white, helping my theory that the fabric was paint-dyed before cut out. And like the outer seams, every seam is done in orange--in this case, many of the are overlocked or serged.

Fun fact? When sewing doll clothes or most small clothes, the sleeve is almost always set into the bodice first and then sewn closed in a seam running from the wrist under the arm and down to the hem. This is different than clothes for people, as that would be more irritating under the arm, but on doll clothes it would be very hard to properly set in a sleeve. So this is a sewing shortcut I'm highly used to.

B+. Excellently designed jacket. I can even get over the fact that it's mostly orange. 

Pants. Windbreaker style.
Pants: The pants are white windbreaker track-style pants. I personally can't deal with track style pants. I wore too many of them in the late 80s and early 90s to enjoy them, the fabric wrinkles at the move of a leg, and they "whisper" when you walk and bother me. Also, they they remind me of the track coach at my middle school that yelled at me because I wore them to school after being gifted them by a friend, only to find out said "friend" stole them from the high school track department. Le sigh. But as doll pants go, they're not too bad.

Quick waist for quick off.
The waistband is simply gathered, because we don't have time to be undoing your fly when you need to get off the bench and go for the ball, coach! The majority of the seams are done in white. You can also see that there are front wrinkles. Drop of a fucking hat, man.

Side "draw" strings and ribbon.
At the left side are a set of ankle drawstring ties. They don't actually pull, so don't go tugging on them uselessly because you'll just pop the threads. Here at the ankles the decorative stitching is done in orange, helping tie them to the jacket. Also at the front near the ankle--and half seen in this picture--is McKenna's "logo"--a ribbon and stars. The screen-print design is gradated from a dark purple to orange. I think a more lavender color would have suited the logo better. Overall a B. They work with the jacket, but could use a little improvement.

These wild and crazy5 sneakers, man!
Sneakers: McKenna completes the clothes part of the set with a pair of sneakers, because walking around barefoot or in your performance slippers isn't allowed. Or something. These are mostly white, but with lime green and purple accents. Why we busted out lime green for the shoes I have no idea, other than it being another color McKenna was prone to on all of her decorating.

Shoes off.
With the shoes off we can get a better look.  The shoes are mostly white, with white lining and white inner soles.

Laces. And overexposure in a picture.
AG, in a fit of hating tying shoes, has started to lean towards elastic laces that never untie. I can't bitch too hard cause I hate laced shoes myself, and own pull on sneakers. And man are those useful. Especially when you have to or want to kick shoes off fast. These are lime green, with a purple plastic "base." The tongue underneath is white--especially because my flash overexposed. I take a lot of pictures at 2 am, so the flash goes on.

Shoe sides.
The sides of the shoes have lime green cords that run up to the "laces" which make a cohesive look in a way. They're over a grey accented swish, that goes to the back heel where a purple reinforcement is at the top of the heel over it. These shoes are trying to do everything.

Outer Sole, with its ribbing.
The sole of the shoes have a purple and gray combination that's hard to describe. At least it's ridged so there's less bumpy bits. The sole also rises up purple at the toe and purple and grey at the heel.

B-. The shoes are really, really busy, but they are still nice shoes.

Hair ties.
Hair Ties: The set comes with two orange ponytail holders--colloquially called "scrunchies" by young girls who don't remember the 90s when Scrunchie was Queen. They're orange, so they match even if they're orange and thus my hated color. They helped me do Mellie's hair into double ponytails. Ta da! B. They don't offend me.

Hair Card: reminding me that this wasn't designed for Mellie.
Instruction Card: All of McKenna's major outfits came with a hairstyle card that showed how to recreate the hairstyle that was shown on her in the outfit. This was actually kind of neat. However, I am a little miffed that this one was #1. What if you never got the warm up outfit? Your collection of hair cards would forever be wonky. Granted, AG was banking on the idea that a girl who wanted all the outfits would mewl her way into the starter set and thus get the card.

This one shows you how to do fishtail braids. At the top is a lime green image with purple and green stars to the left and a silhouette of a gymnast on the right, and a hole at the top center reinforced with black. The top row has a purple circle with a green star accent and the admonition to collect all the cards. This ain't Pokémon AG, don't tell me what to collect. To the left is her name in lime green, and below that her logo with a purple gradated to lavender ribbon and three lime stars, the largest only an outline. To the right is McKenna displaying a wild amount of forehead and the hairstyle, and below that the card telling you there's step-by-step instructions for "pretty" hairstyles.

Funny thing: The zipper pull is plain orange, not the silver on the outfit. Prototype? Prototype.

You're going to need two ponytail holders to do this style.  How convenient that the outfit comes with just that! AG, you're on the ball with getting us to care about the hair items you toss in with the set. Mellie's hair is way too curly to attempt fishtail braids with without messing up her cute curls, but I've done them before on Kaya and Naomi. You can see them in the opening picture of the Blue Jeans Basics I review, and a better shot on my flickr account from the back. Hers are done high up because Naomi has awesome hair for styling.

Doing the Fish!
On the back with the instructions are included ads for McKenna's books, the Doll Hair Salon book, copyright shit, and how to contact AG for customer service. 

The instructions are fairly good, given that the target age is 8-12. They are as follows, retold by me to be a little clearer:

1) Part doll's hair down the center.
2) Tie off one hunk with a ponytail holder. (This is to keep it out of the way while working one side.)
3) Separate other side into two equal sections.
4) This is where the shit gets tricky--take a small piece of the hair from the far right side, and cross it over to become part of the left part.
5) Now, take a second section from the far left and cross it over to the right part.
6) Repeat steps 4 and 5 this all the way to the end of the hair, then tie it off with a ponytail holder.
7) Repeat steps 3-5 for other side.

The main thing is, you gotta hold the hair tight. Fishtails will not come out well otherwise. I generally have to take my time doing this, and when I do I don't take it down from a gang member's hair for at least two weeks. You can also steady the base of the fishtail by gathering the hair in a ponytail first and leaving it there (what I did with Naomi) which means using four ponytail holders.

The card is a really awesome inclusion and I kind of wish it hadn't been exclusive to McKenna. A.

*~*~*

Overall Feel: It's very much the epitome of the outfit sports people wear on the sidelines while getting ready to sports the sports. The jacket is put together well and with a neat color gradation that is rarely seen in outfits, and the pants being white mean that the jacket's unique style gets to be the center. I am not feeling the lime green on the shoes, mostly because it wasn't indicated in any other parts of the outfit and was just added because it was McSeattle's "color," but the shoes are well designed despite this. And hey, I actually like the orange in the set, so that's a plus. And the instruction card to do the hair? Very useful. About the only thing that would have improved it was a simple tank top underneath. And not having to buy an entire starter set for it. AG hasn't done this since, thank gods.

Cost Value: The technical value from AG was $29.90, but only if you bought $185 dollars of doll and starter set, since that was the only way to get the outfit during 2012. Some people, of course, bought the starter set and then sold off the rest. Some might have gone through the MCM sale and been bought there, but I'm out of the loop for some of that. The cost I paid was fair. $35 is a respectable price; $40 is a little high, but not too high for a set. Some people will ask you to pay $50 or more for this set. Wince away from that. If they're asking for $70 or more, pee on all the things they eat in retaliation.

Timeliness/Datedness: It's pretty modern in style and design. At most I'd take it back to the late 90s, but that's mostly because windbreaker pants didn't start being a thing before then. It does hold up as a modern outfit, though. It is only two years old, and it doesn't scream "fad" like leggings and bubble skirts are right now.6

Mix and Match Levels: Eeeeh. The jacket can go over jeans, and the shoes can go with things that most sneakers can go. The pants are really sort of set only. And the hair ties are semi-universal.

Appropriateness to Character:  Well, it was released for her, and she is a gymnast, and it doesn't look like seven layers of ugly on her like most of Enviro-Lanie's stuff did, as so much of it came off as "they swapped to a blond girl at the last minute." I still think it looks twice as good on Mellie. Also, I don't recall seeing the set in the movie or books, but I saw the movie off TV and don't want to get up to get my books, so.

Final Grade: B-. A higher grade would be earned if I hadn't needed to reach out secondhand to get the set.

--Neth

1 That and bitching about many a thing. It's the best.
2 Still hunting it down, holler at ya girl if you'll sell it to me.
3 Working it out: $105 (doll + book one) + $6.95 (book 2) + $26 (meet accessories) + $34 (practice outfit) = 171.95, which made the warm-up outfit roughly retail for $13.05. But AG stated that the whole set would have been a separate $199.95 with a savings of $14.95. Which means that the total "cost" was $214.90, which gives the outfit a value of $29.90. Math!
4 Things McSeattle's entire collection was missing for being set up here: any sort of a hoodie. Do you even Seattle, AG? 
5 No, I'm not referencing the '70s skit. I'm referencing the '90s show. 
6 Or Wonderbread's hideous meet outfit. Shit, that is going to scream fadded out in a few years. 

18 comments:

  1. Aw dammit. Am I now gonna have to go look at the wiki to see WHAT Wonderbread has as her meet outfit?

    Also, thanks for directions on how to do fish-tails. I hadn't even HEARD of those till tonight. Wonder how they'd look on Josefina.

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    1. Nope, I can sum it up (I don't think it's there):

      Pink asymmetrical hemmed top with sheer sleeve and a ballerina on the front with added tulle, gray capri "dance" pants (sort of sweatpants style) and gold sparkly shoes that have straps at the heel and lace ties at the front.

      Delete
    2. Oh yup. That meet outfit does sure qualify as hideous.

      About as hideous as some of that eBay stuff. :P

      What's a bubble skirt?

      Delete
    3. A bubble skirt is generally a skirt style where the bottom hem is gathered back in at the bottom hem so that the edge is more poofy--hence, the bubble. It's very trendy.

      Delete
    4. Well, there is one trend bandwagon I won't be jumping on. That just sounds gross.

      Also, at some point, I would love a list of all your nicknames for various A*G girls. Since I don't think I know them all. Send me one on DW or something, so that we can avoid assfaces like the one below me down there.

      Also, I have to use a spell checker on posts too.

      Delete
  2. - doesn't want mckenna associated with seattle
    - hates names that start with mc
    - gives doll a nickname that starts with mc and highlights her association with seattle

    um, ok?

    (While we're on the subject of nicknames, "Chipotle" spelled thusly. Not Chipolte.)

    While I do agree that the gymnastics theme was probably intended to capitalize on the Olympics (much as every gymnastics outfit except the most recent one and the icky RG outfit were, all having been released in Olympic years) I doubt it was after Wieber specifically. AG has stated that most of their characters spend three or more years in development before release, and while Wieber was a decently well-known junior in 2009, she was far from a secure favorite for London and didn't really become one until she won worlds in 2011. As for her not performing to the expected level... people who actually follow gymnastics knew that the best she could really hope for was bronze and maybe some EF hardware, and that Douglas was the US' only real shot at AA gold. She was only one slot shy of that on QF day- it's not really her fault that Raisman had the meet of her life that day and pipped BOTH of them. Don't believe every story the Nutjob Broadcasting Company feeds you. Their Olympic coverage is really sketchy, especially in gymnastics.

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    1. Dear Anon,

      I don't disagree with your point. But did you ever think that perhaps the misspelling of Chipotle was on purpose? Also, correcting someone's spelling on their own blog is a shitty thing to do, and a real dick move. Thank you for showing your ass.

      And unlike you, I will sign my identity to my post.

      Delete
    2. *can't stand white girl associated with Seattle*
      *White Girl's name begins with Mc*
      *Uses snarky name "McSeattle" to make her snarky point*

      AG may develop for three years, but names are not static until release. Cecile and Marie-Grace were under code-names of their authors til release. Mia had a different face mold and skin tone altogether leaked about a month or so before her reveal. Julie was called "Patsy" beforehand and had baby-doll style pajamas and an extra outfit. Companies can change names at the last minute easier than other things--the Wii was called the Revolution at the first announcements. I think it's quite likely Marketing went "Hey, this white gymnast is poised to be the All American White Girl at the Olympics and we learned this before release! Let's change the name from "Filler Name Here" to "McSomething to capitalize on her awesome!"

      I don't have to believe the news. I almost never watch NBC for the news. No, what I watched was the many, many whines online that it was unfair their fave couldn't go through because of the new rule that stated two per country and she wasn't good enough to be #2. Much like when Ashley Wagner came in 4th so they sent the best three skaters to Sochi--oh WAIT. Seems the rules should bend if it means more white mediocrity.

      Also, I have spelling issues. Like, severely to the point that I do my best to use a spell checker on almost every post I use online lest I come off poorly. Some slip through or get added to the dictionary on accident and if I don't catch it, I won't know it's wrong unless the wiggle line comes up. So fuck you for mocking something I haven't been able to control since I was eight.

      Delete
    3. This is off topic, but what were your thoughts on Ashley Wagner going to Sochi? Did you think Nagasu should have gone instead? (Always nice to find other people who watch skating!)

      Delete
    4. Okay, now you've just plain got your facts wrong. The girl who got strung up in the all-around mess was named Jordyn Wieber. McKayla Maroney, which I'm going to guess is the name you had conflated with Wieber, was a vault specialist. That was the only event she competed on in London, and she made her event final, delivered the highest-scoring vault of the quadrennium in the team finals, brought home hardware in the form of a vault silver and team gold, and repeated as World Champion on vault last year (AFTER breaking her leg in the intervening time). White she is, but mediocre she ain't. And, I mean, Wieber was a world AA champ with a legitimate medal shot who had placed 4th in qualifications and didn't get a spot due to a rule that has been highly controversial since it was introduced in 2001. It's not like she completely blew it, she just got unexpectedly downed by friendly fire from the US' perennial bridesmaid (Aly Raisman) and however much you personally don't care about that, the girl has fans and they're going to be upset about it. This shouldn't be surprising.

      I wasn't saying to believe or not believe the news; I was just saying don't believe the spin-doctoring, dramatization and narrative construction NBC does in its OLYMPIC COVERAGE. (And last time I checked, 99% of Americans who watched the Olympics were stuck with NBC because they've gone out of their way to ensure we have no other options as long as we're stateside.) NBC have gone so far as to deliberately mistranslate interviews with non-English-speaking athletes to suit their storylines; the framing of Wieber as the best hope for gold in London was, as I said above, merely another construction, and not considered realistic by those more studied in gymnastics.

      And I wasn't mocking you. You've never mentioned anything about spelling issues prior to this point, and I personally thought it was spelled chipolte until about two years ago when I took a long hard stare at the sign while walking into a burrito place and went "oh". I merely thought you were making the same mistake I had and was wanting to help you because I had felt rather silly when I realized I had been misspelling it for eighteen years. I'm genuinely sorry that I came across as making fun of you, that wasn't at all how I meant it.

      Delete
  3. Thank you so much for your modern reviews. I was very "not gonna happen" about modern stuff in general especially the DOTY but you do point out the good stuff.

    Also

    Also, they they remind me of the track coach at my middle school that yelled at me because I wore them to school after being gifted them by a friend, only to find out said "friend" stole them from the high school track department.

    I feel really bad, but I laughed at this part. I think because my high school's track pants were so horrible it's hilarious to imagine anyone *wanting* to steal them. I mean we're talking the whisper when they walk was more like a wheeze. Your school must've had really nice ones.

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    1. ETA: Don't feel bad about laughing at all. I was aiming for humor. At the time I was upset but nearly twenty years down the line it's funny.

      Delete
  4. My daughter trains at the gymnastics club where Wieber trained. The team USA coach for that year is the owner and he there working with and encouraging the kids. It is a great club and of course they have Jordyn Wieber photos and articles EVERYWHERE!

    I finally had to teach my daughter about Gabby Douglas and Dominique Dawes. Learning about them and watching youtube videos of them in the Olympics has boost her confidence and gave her a star in her sport to look up to. She loves Gabby and wants to be just like her when she grows up and she tells everyone that she gets to work with Gabby's Olympic coach!

    Her JLY #26 is currently wearing McKenna's clothes even though we have McKenna. She doesn't want McKenna to be the gymnast and I'm okay with that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/509258670334889455/

    This is awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Posting this comment is going to reveal that I found your blog and have been reading post by post through the archives...I love your style of writing and adore your gorgeous dolls.

    Yesterday I was making a 2 minute Princess Leia dress for my daughter's AG doll. And then I got to the sleeves and got stuck because I didn't know how to attach them to the dress since the arm holes wouldn't fit into the sewing machine. So I had to very poorly hand-sew them. HA. I assume that's what you're talking about here:
    _______________________
    Fun fact? When sewing doll clothes or most small clothes, the sleeve is almost always set into the bodice first and then sewn closed in a seam running from the wrist under the arm and down to the hem. This is different than clothes for people, as that would be more irritating under the arm, but on doll clothes it would be very hard to properly set in a sleeve. So this is a sewing shortcut I'm highly used to.
    ____________________

    I'm trying to picture what you're saying but am just not getting it. Is there a website or a more detailed tutorial you can point me to for that??

    ReplyDelete
  7. Posting this comment is going to reveal that I found your blog and have been reading post by post through the archives...I love your style of writing and adore your gorgeous dolls.

    Yesterday I was making a 2 minute Princess Leia dress for my daughter's AG doll. And then I got to the sleeves and got stuck because I didn't know how to attach them to the dress since the arm holes wouldn't fit into the sewing machine. So I had to very poorly hand-sew them. HA. I assume that's what you're talking about here:
    _______________________
    Fun fact? When sewing doll clothes or most small clothes, the sleeve is almost always set into the bodice first and then sewn closed in a seam running from the wrist under the arm and down to the hem. This is different than clothes for people, as that would be more irritating under the arm, but on doll clothes it would be very hard to properly set in a sleeve. So this is a sewing shortcut I'm highly used to.
    ____________________

    I'm trying to picture what you're saying but am just not getting it. Is there a website or a more detailed tutorial you can point me to for that??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This should be a good example:

      https://especiallycreativebroad.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/an-easier-way-to-sew-sleeves/

      Basically, sleeves for people clothes almost always have the sleeve put in after the bodice is all together, because the knot would irritate the underarm. But dolls aren't going to get underarm irritated, so the sleeve is put in first to the shoulder flat, and then the whole arm and side of the bodice are seamed together.

      Delete

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