Get ready for the doll wars….

An amazing new collection of dolls just arrived called Dollie & Me from Madame Alexander. They cost $29.99 – incredible. Additional clothes are available for both the doll (and girls). The two sample dresses we received were very holiday-ish…there are also “school outfits” and pjs. The clothes range from 2T to 16.  They range from $34 to $62. They’re all are very special and much more reasonably priced than American Girl.

American Girl…homeless

F9311_main_1-1American Girl Gwen— a homeless girl is getting lots of press.  Bringing attention to homelessness is admirable — but have a doll that costs nearly $100 (with no reported portion of profits going to any support organization) seems off.  Doll play is about spinning stories…fantasy.  Having such a literal prop for homelessness just feels like one big guilt trip.  Here’s your dream doll, and by the way…she has no home and certainly no dolls.  Now enjoy!

I’m a big proponent of dolls reflecting “real” girls…but no one would suggest giving this expensive doll to homeless girls. That would be ridiculous.

Instead…how about a doll that’s part of a family that donates time to local charities? That at least gives girls a jumping off point for their own lives.

For a little more heat on the subject, read Andrea Peyser’s article.

For a review of American Girl Rebecca…who won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award this year, click here.

More on Dora the Explorer….

doraexplorer_l The reveal of the new tween Dora the Explorer was going to be a pre-holiday event-much like the way the company rolls out Elmo every year.  Alas–the silhouette release in February caused alot of upset.  Parents were concerned that the beloved character was growing up too fast.   So what’s a company to do? Release the photo and assure parents that the Dora brand has not taken a terrible turn.  While the “great” reveal has been done prematurely, I’m sure the folks at Mattel are thrilled with the extensive coverage and general positive response to the new Dora. Taking a page from the American Girl (also owned by Mattel)- the new Dora celebrates being a girl. Her story line focuses on solving mysteries with her multi-ethnic group of girl friends.  While we haven’t seen the games yet–it seems they have steered clear of boys and shopping at the mall. Although there is a fashion component (even a ecologically aware tween needs to look cool). We look forward to seeing the on-line component to the new Dora. Stay tuned.

Say Farewell to American Girl Samantha

When I told my 23 year old niece that American Girl was “retiring” Samantha (and her best friend Nellie)–she gasped. Before I started the Toy Portfolio with her grandmother, I remember the holiday season when she got her Samantha doll. It was a huge deal. My contribution was a matching nightgown for my niece (that cost more than most things I bought for myself!). I couldn’t believe the excitement that this doll and catalog generated with kids (and many of their mothers). I wasn’t much of a doll person myself so the whole experience was new to me. Of course after years now of reviewing the American Girl line I get the whole appeal. The attention to detail and the quality of both the dolls and the books were, and remain, unmatched in the industry.

I’ll miss Samantha…I wonder if she’ll be like the Disney DVD’s that come out of the vault from time to time?

Samantha now becomes an official generational marker–young women like my niece now share a part of Americana unique to their generation. American Girl is suggesting that girls (and women) can share their Samantha memories at