• Tue, Dec 10 - 2:00 pm ET

I May Be Getting Sucked Into The Cult Of The American Girl Doll

F2718SET_main_1My kid is nine. I think it’s right about this age during the month of December when a lot of parents just throw their hands up in the air and become card carrying magazine subscribing members of the American Girl Doll cult club. These dolls weren’t around when I was growing up, so I don’t know a lot about them, except for they are very expensive.

Very expensive. Like this will be the only present from Santa under the tree expensive. A doll and book run around 110 clams. I like the fact the dolls come with a book. I like the fact that dolls look like little girls, and as far as I can tell, none of them are wearing fishnets or stilettos. I like the fact the dolls have a historical aspect to them. But what I don’t like is how any additional junk you buy for the dolls is way expensive. Take this little goat for example:

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It’s adorable! But it’s another 20 bucks. But come on, your doll needs a goat right? You basically have to have the goat. And then there’s this spa chair:

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This spa chair costs an additional 110 bucks. But how can you have a doll with NO goat and no spa chair? It’s basically unheard of. And then there’s this science lab set, and I am sorry, but I refuse to have my kid playing with her doll when she has no goat, no spa chair, and no science set. How will she conduct experiments on the goat after a relaxing day at the spa?

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Not to mention all the adorable breakfast sets and clothing and beds and everything else they carry for these dolls. Snowman sets!

This is how it happens right? One day you are contemplating a doll set and the next you are buying this doll goats to play with. And I know some of you parents have gotten sucked into this cult too, because you have second mortgages out on your house and you only eat Ramen for dinner, but your doll has its very own hair extensions, cello and 300 dollar parlor:

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OK, maybe the 300 dollar parlor is pushing it but I have no idea where your goat can receive guests without it.

(Images: American Girl Doll)

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  • Brokeass Mirror

    Your first mistake was taking your daughter there.

    You second was letting her out of the house before she turned 30

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      See, ha on you brokeass, my daughter has NOT been there. But see, idk, it’s such a thing, plus, I read this super cool fiction book called Happyland that was sort of about the whole AGD thang

    • Brokeass Mirror

      So I assume your daughter found out about American Girls Dolls through her friends then?

      I would have offered her an Android tablet in lieu thereof. Cheaper and potentially educational.

    • Kay_Sue

      Pssssh, tell that to my tablet. It’s been weeks since it’s seen anything that isn’t Candy Crush. :-P

    • Brokeass Mirror
    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      yep, all her little friends have it.

    • Brokeass Mirror

      Told you to keep her locked up till 30

    • kay

      Is 30 when it’ll be safe for me in the AG stores?

      I went to the American Girl store for the first time at 26… My husband stared around the store and went “you’re going to make me buy you a doll aren’t you…. Can I just buy you something so we can leave faster? Please?”

    • Armchair Observer

      AGD are like my crack–that and Build-a-Bear. Why couldn’t BaB have existed when I was at a socially acceptable age to make one on a regular basis.

  • Kay_Sue

    Ebay, Eve. Ebay. And knock offs for the accessories–you really can’t tell too much of a difference between real AG accessories and the Our Generation or My Girl or what-have-you at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, or Target.

    I loved American Girl growing up–I got one at 11, and one at 12, my last two Christmases (is that a word?) getting toys. I loved them and held onto them until I passed them onto my stepdaughters.

    I love some of the great things about the set–they DO look like little girls, they each have such strong stories (for the historical dolls) that are at least partially accurate while also portraying strong girl characters, and they are super inclusive–dolls come in all colors and hair types, and they even have accessories like wheelchairs, eye glasses, and hearing aids.

    It’s such a racket, and yet, my husband and I fall into it every. single. year.

    • DatNanny

      I was going to say the same things. I LOVED growing up with American Girl. My parents were pretty affluent at the time, so I had an embarrassing number of accessories. My birthdays and Christmases were always filled with AG, and what I remember even more than the presents was the fun my mom and I had going through the catalogue together. I look forward to doing the same with my daughter. The best part, by far, is how inclusive they are. Virtually any girl can have a doll just like them. They have so many great interests,,, and it’s all so well-made and realistic. Hell, hardly any of it is pink.

      BUT what I didn’t have growing up was the knock-offs, which are actually pretty great. It’s not as quality as AG but is a way more affordable way to outfit a doll.

    • Kay_Sue

      Yeah, that was the only bummer when I was growing up. I would loved to have had all of my Samantha’s accessories, but there was no way my folks could afford it. I still crazy-loved the dolls, though, and especially Samantha’s books. ;)

      The knock offs save us a ton. There are still some accessories we’ve got to invest in (Saige was a big one this year…) but on the whole, the kids don’t care.

    • Shea

      I agree. I wasn’t really a doll kind of kid, but I had an AG doll growing up, and I ADORED her. I had tons of clothes and accessories for her, mainly because my great-aunt, who had up to that point spent my childhood silently bemoaning the fact that I had no interest in dolls, pretty dresses or other stereotypically girly things, was so thrilled that she could finally buy me doll stuff that she went a little crazy every Christmas and birthday. But I took good care of that doll and her stuff, and I loved it. Now she’s carefully packed away, and I hope to pass her on to a daughter (or son, who knows) of my own one day.

  • Sarah

    I love American Girls. When I was in elementary school, I would wait impatiently for the next scholastic book order forms to come around so I could buy the newest book. I wanted a doll in the worst way, but my parents never bought me one. Both my girls have one now. I usually buy all the accessories from Target though. They have their own brand of American Girl type dolls and the accessories are much cheaper. So far, the girls haven’t caught on.

  • noelle 02

    I love American Girl dolls and you have to make it to the store someday! I took my daughter and three of her friends (because I am not made of money) to the café for lunch on her eighth birthday last year. They had such a great time and they even have seats for the dolls. The store is even better than the catalogues I loved perusing as a kid. My girl has six actual AG dolls (four passed down from her aunt and all but one bought on ebay) and another six from Target. I love dressing them up and playing as much as my daughter does. Yeah American Girl!

    • Kay_Sue

      My dream job would be to be the person that styles all the displays in store.

  • Ennis Demeter

    I didn’t have them growing up, but I love those accesories.

  • kay

    Your daughter might be too old to fall for it, but we managed to get an extra bit of time before shelling out for the big dolls with my niece by buying her the mini dolls-they’re like maybe $15 or so? And come with a mini book. Costco gets them.

    The books are awesome-it got me hooked into historical fiction as a kid, and they work really hard to make them historically accurate

  • Rachel Sea

    The dolls themselves are of a very nice quality, with full wigs instead of plugs of hair, but every other accessory can easily be purchased from a cheaper line. If your daughter has the slightest interest in learning to sew, 18″ doll clothes are a great start. I taught myself to make dresses after making myself a copy of Wednesday Addams’ Marie Antoinette doll.

    • DatNanny

      All my first sewing projects were clothes and blankets for my American Girls!

  • thefluter

    American Girl things are pretty expensive, but I think the fact that they are such positive toys for girls (for all the reasons you mention above) make it more palatable. Also, I picked up The American Girl “A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say” and “A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles” and they are fantastic for the preteen set. Not patronizing or pollyanna, but giving girls resources on how to handle things from someone who isn’t mom or dad. My 10-year-old, painfully shy, awkward self sure could have used them!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      These are good books. My daughter picked out a ton of them. And loves them.

  • Jessica

    They sell AG doll sized clothes on Etsy, and we have supplemented the doll with accessories from the Target My Generation doll. I fought the doll until last year, but now I think it’s the only thing the girls will get every year until they are 28.

  • http://carrie-murphy.com/ Carrie Murphy

    Ebay? Craigslist? My sister gave my Addy doll to some kids she babysat for a few years ago and I was mad enough about it that my mom got me a used one from Ebay. Hey, I wanted to pass it down to my own hypothetical future daughters!

  • Natasha B

    We love roughly 15 min from the 2 floor AG store in Mall da ‘Americas, so…yeahh. My sisters and I all had a doll each as girls (the originals-Felicity, Kirsten, and Samantha) which are all discontinued now, so that makes me pretty sad. We caved and Lu got one a few years ago, and a few small things for Christmas now. The dolls are excellent quality (and the doll hospital can fix anything little brother/the dog can throw at the doll. We’ve had a head replaced) buuuut honestly the clothes/accessories are juuuuunk. The books are GREAT. stick to eBay/target/JoAnns for the rest. It’s same quality, 1/2 the price. Good luck now that you’re in ;)

    • Natasha B

      *live. We LIVE 15 min lol

  • G.E. Phillips

    Maybe the doll can use the science lab set to clone the goat? Then you can sell the goat clones to other members of the American Girl Doll cult, and use the proceeds to buy the parlor. Boom. Problem solved.

  • LiteBrite

    American Girl is the reason why I’m happy I have a boy.

    But I do agree with those who are suggesting Craigslist, Ebay, and the off lines like Our Generation. Here’s my suggestion (from my boss, who has three daughters): haunt rummage sales in affluent neighborhoods (or rummage sites on the Internet). She’s been able to score a ton of AG stuff for 1/2 to 1/4 the retail price.

    • Toaster

      As long as you don’t enter the Cult of Thomas.

    • LiteBrite

      Ugh. Yeah. I narrowly avoided that cult. Just barely though.

    • JAN

      Nope, we’ve been sucked in, LOL!

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    There are aspects of the American Girl dolls that I think are great (and there are some that are problematic, just look at the story in the link below), but the price is just more than I am willing to pay for something that my kid will get bored with in a few days or weeks. I also hate the whole status symbol they represent.

    http://www.xojane.com/issues/i-secretly-hated-my-addy-american-girl-doll

  • Samiwami

    Holy crappin shit! I need a goat spa!

  • RayneofCastamere

    I loved my doll. I gave it to my cousin for her seventh birthday because I couldn’t stand the thought of it gathering dust in my closet just because I was too old for it. She loves it!

  • Alanna Jorgensen

    My daughter is only four and already asking for one. Considering her abysmal treatment of the poor Rapunzel doll we got her last year (the poor thing’s hair is like a rat’s nest of despair) I think it’ll have to wait a year or two before we enter the Dolly Big Leagues.

    • noelle 02

      I will speak on your daughter’s behalf here: the Rapunzel doll’s hair is designed to be messy in no time flat and there is no way to avoid it. My daughter got the Bitty Twins at nearly four, played with them constantly, and the girl dolls hair was still in perfect shape when she was set aside four years later. Rapunzel’s hair was messed up in less than a week. AG doll’s hair is way more manageable.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      Good to know! I’m thinking next year I may relent if she still wants one.

  • Pumplestilskin

    You haven’t joined the cult until you and your best friend plan a trip to Washington D.C. for spring break because there is an American Girl store there and your 10 year old has been begging for an American Girl doll for months and you realize that she is getting so grown up and if it’s a doll she wants a doll she shall get. So the two of you convince your husbands that it’s going to be an educational trip for all 7 kids going when all you really want to do is get the 4 girls into that store to get their dolls. I mean, so I’ve been told anyway…

  • MamaLlama

    Just wait until your daughter ruins the hair (split ends galore) and although your child doesn’t care, you contemplate sending it in for a head replacement…. I feel ashamed every time I consider spending the $60+ dollars to send it to the doll hospital.. I start thinking.. but she comes back in a hospital gown, and outfits cost a lot, so really, is it that big of a waste? Ugh, yes.. it still is..

  • SarahJesness

    A lot of the American Girl stuff is cool, but damn is it expensive!

    I know a lot of parents lament the prices, but love the variety the dolls give. I think you can even customize them now. I think it would be kind of cool if there was a Build-a-Bear style shop that offered a cheaper alternative. Once 3D printers get cheaper, let kids choose a skin tone and hair type, and then they can customize the face however they like. It gets attached to the body, and then the kid can choose from a variety of clothes and accessories. Have her be anything from a warrior, pop star, mermaid, outfits based off various historical figures (Amelia Earthart and the like) or anything else.

    Ah, if I had the time, money, and drive to run such a business…

  • FF4life

    American girl has been around for a long time… I remember that the series was very popular and in full swing during Christmas time when I was in 5th grade… In 1995. They were just as expensive then as they are now.

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  • tennismom4

    I have 3 girls and in the middle of “18 inch doll” obsession in our house. Getting sucked into the AG cult is a choice. I don’t accept from comments and from friends that they “have to ” succumb to all the high priced stuff. I gave my daughters a choice when the doll requests began. I showed them prices of one doll and looked through the catalog. Then we went to a specialty toy store and saw the Madame Alexander 18″ dolls at 1/3 the price not to mention all the accessories available @ TRU/Trget and I explained they can choose one AG doll or for the same price, she can get the Madame Alex. doll (or 2) and also x,y & z. I wanted to teach them about price comparisons, shopping smart and budgeting. One chose the AG path, the other did “off brand” They are well loved toys but I will tell you that there is much jealousy from the “AG” sister and the friends/neighbor girls who have the expensive/limited brand name stuff when they see the ton of trget/TRU/pinterest stuff that my off brand daughter has emassed by shopping smarter. The quality is comparable and I feel that it makes each doll (AG & MA) have importance that so much thought went into deciding making them apart of the family. All parents are different with different values/bank accounts/standards. We have the $$ for AG everything but I am just very careful in how we approach a spendy gift and hopefully teach that a $130 doll is not the norm and should be much appreciated….
    p.s. We just finished a few craft items from Froggy Stuff on You Tube and they absolutely love their handcrafted cardboard chairs and sofas that we made as a family.

  • Miriam

    american girl store

  • bobby

    Well kit’s x-mas outfit has fishnet stocking and her friend has fishnet socks

  • bobby

    Well kit’s x-mas outfit has fishnet stockings and her friend has fishnet socks