When I was young, I wanted desperately a Samantha doll from the American Girls collection. I saved up for her, and relatives sent me money for her at birthdays and Christmas. Then, I decided that if I was going to have the doll, I wanted all her stuff (over a thousand dollars worth), so I kept saving. Then, I decided that having the money was pretty great, too, and I never got the doll. Possibly some day I will still get Samantha...if I can get Nintendo 64 for nostalgia, a doll is not out of the question.
Today, I was perusing the American Girl catalog. They still have the historical dolls I remember, and the prices are pretty much the same. Much of the stuff has gone away, now that they have a lot more dolls, both historical and otherwise. They've had to balance the stuff with the variety of dolls. One of the cool things back in the day was that they had dresses you could wear to look like your Kirsten doll, or your Samantha doll. I always wanted Kirsten's prairie dresses and Samantha's birthday dress. Mostly they only have the nighties now, and other, less historical wear if you want to match your AG doll. But, oh lordy, have they added stuff. There are more historical dolls, for sure, but also dolls that look like you. They have one that looks like me, with light skin, brown hair, and blue eyes, but they also have a doll that has (get ready for it) light skin with freckles, blue eyes, and brown hair with HIGHLIGHTS! Highlights? Are you kidding? Sun-bleaching, natural style, I can understand, but these look dyed in. Are there eleven-year-old girls out there with dyed-in highlights? Why?
Not only that, but the pure abundance of whatnot you can get for your doll is crazy...Irish, African, or Native American dance costumes, ice skates, soccer uniforms, a whole schoolroom, canopy beds, three different horses, a brocade ballgown, fake lunch money (5 dollars! where do you go to school, American Girl?)...I thought it was pretty great when they had an accessory set for each historical doll for each book they wrote about her. Now, they've replaced that with hair salons and sleepover gear. I feel overwhelmed, but I also wonder about the state of imagination for kids today. I remember making caps and tents for My Little Ponies out of wallpaper samples and milk caps, thanks to my sister's craftiness. Do kids *make* stuff anymore? Certainly, this American Girl stuff is pretty amazing, but I have to ponder how much is too much.