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

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