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

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.