Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Vintage Holiday Review: 2009 Fancy Flower Outfit

It might only be November, but I am starting to bring out the holiday dresses and preparing my girls for the holiday season. The 2009 Fancy Flower Outfit is a very recent acquisition for my collection and I spent over a month scouring secondary marketplace sources to find the entire ensemble. How I absolutely adore this dress!

Lilja, otherwise known as the stunning #55, is modeling this dream of silver taffeta covered in ribbon embroidery.

The dress has a layered skirt and comes with a pair of matching embroidered taffeta shoes and a white fax-fur shrug (see below for shrug).

The ribbon embroidery is truly unique and the effect is breathtaking.

The shoes are also made of taffeta and this choice is wonderfully understated--quite different from the many faux patent leather or glittery shoes of the more recently released holiday dresses from American Girl. The shoes also have a velvety elastic band across the top.

The white faux-fur shrug is the final piece of the outfit and it adds a touch of holiday glam. I believe it is one of the more successful shrugs--it really enhances rather than distracts from the dress. In fact, I love the Fancy Flower ensemble both with and without the shrug, something I can not say for all of the recent holiday "dress + faux-fur shrug" offerings.

The only downside to this ensemble is that it more delicate than many other AG holiday dresses and may not hold up to play by young hands. The workmanship is marvelous and every detail crafted and sewn with precision, however the materials of the outfit require some extra care in use and in storage. The fabric (taffeta) shoes are wonderful, but need to be stored so that they hold their shape when not worn. The fabric flower on the faux-fur shrug is prone to ruinous fraying on the edges. And the dress itself shows wrinkles easily and the ribbon embroidery easily crushed. 

But I can not be swayed from my love of this dress. The extra care and fuss is worth it and I am satisfied to know that while this dress will likely age quicker than other AG holiday dresses, that it will likely age with grace with just a little bit of extra care.

I may have a difficult time getting Lilja to wear anything else but the Fancy Flower dress between now and the holidays! This dress was well worth the long search. It is already a classic and sure to be a perennial favorite here during the holidays.

Grade: A+ 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Waiting for Grace: Grand Tour = Grand Price Tag?

The January 1st launch of GOTY 2015: Grace Thomas is assured to be a grand event at all the American Girl Place store locations. My sister and I already have a date to be in line at AGPSF at the opening of the store on New Year's Day. Why a picture of cupcakes? Well, just around the corner from AGPSF in the Stanford Mall is my favorite cupcake store, Sprinkles, which will be visited as well that brisk morning! But it seems increasingly plausible that our Grace will be a baker, and perhaps a baker of cupcakes.

It should be a grand morning with a grand reveal--but will the final price tag of Grace's whole world including doll, clothing, and accessories finally tip over the one grand mark?

Final price tags for purchasing "whole worlds" (either as individual items or when available, as a "whole world" deal) of each of the previous GOTY dolls has trended sharply upwards. (Note that these total prices do not include mini dolls, dvds, or some of the additional volumes of their stories.)

Lindsey's Whole World - $150 ($135 as a WW deal)
Kailey's Whole World - $166 ($145 as a WW deal)
Marisol's Whole World - $260 ($249 as a WW deal)
Jess's Whole World - $298 ($265 as a WW deal)
Nicki's Whole World - $366 ($325 as a WW deal)
Mia's Whole World - $504 ($459 as a WW deal)
Chrissa's Whole World - $663 (includes friend dolls Sonali and Gwen)
Lanie's Whole World - $660 
Kanani's Whole World - $525 ($479 as a WW deal)
McKenna's Whole World - $695
Saige's Whole World - $700
Isabelle's Whole World - $856
Grace's Whole World - ????

If Grace's ultimate Big Ticket Item (BTI) is priced over $300, I believe her whole world collection could easily brush the $1,000 mark. A bakery themed/cupcake selling food truck (as I speculate about in the last post) could easily push the total collection price over the grand mark. However, a more modest bakery counter or storefront item could also be produced at much more price-point friendly $95 - $115. 

Will AG go for a "wow" BTI and a price tag to match or try to nab a larger piece of the consumer audience through a more modest offering? The overall trend has been for offering bigger and bigger BTIs:

Lanie's Scooter - $34
Kailey's Boogie Board - $20
Marisol's Performance Trunk - $49
Jess' Motor Scooter - $65
Nicki's Jackson the Horse - $65 (plus Tack Box - $34)
Mia's Bedroom Furniture - $125 (plus Accessories - $30)
Chrissa's Party Table $75 (plus Party Treats - $32)
Lanie's Camper - $295
Kanani's Shaved Ice Stand - $115
McKenna's Loft Bed - $225
Saige's Hot Air Balloon $150
Isabelle's Studio $275
Grace's BTI - ???

Perhaps 2015 will not be a block buster BTI, but GOTY is hyped as something truly unique and special. Without a breakthrough item for little girls to dream about (though few possess), the GOTY may fail to excite enough hype. AG is selling dolls, but also the dream of something perhaps not quite attainable. 

I predict a low of $115 and and a high of $349 for this year's BTI. Samantha's Ice Cream Parlor is $300 and the Winter Carriage is $275. Surely GOTY 2015: Grace Thomas will have a BTI worthy of a wow and the price tag to match. 

Waiting for Grace: "Sweet" Accessories?

My anticipation for more news on GOTY 2015: Grace Thomas only grows. What will be her major accessories? We know quite a few of her passions and activities from her book descriptions. We can probably expect...

* A puppy! Pets are now a near obligatory GOTY accessory. I am betting an adorable  black and white French bulldog.

* Travel accessories for her trip Paris. Maybe a darling vintage suitcase in one of the anticipated colors for this spring such as Pantone's delicious Strawberry Ice?

* A baking business and oodles of baking accessories. Perhaps a kitchen with a stove and oven, or maybe a bakery counter?

How will AG match the "wow" factor of a hot air balloon or a sewing studio of previous GOTY big ticket items? Grace wants to save her grandparents' failing business--how about a bakery business (cupcakes, please!) on wheels ala the new gourmet food truck trend? 

A bakery themed food truck would combine the fun of a camper on wheels (GOTY Lanie's Camper) with the high playability factor of a shop (GOTY Kanani's Shaved Ice Stand) while avoiding being too much of a repeat of newly available Ice Cream Shop (BeForever Samantha).

What do you want to see offered for Grace's bakery business?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Poppet Poses: A Winter White Outfit Review

My favorite season is winter and my favorite poppet outfits are almost inevitably wintertime inspired!

Today's poppet model is Solveig (originally known as GOTY 2014 Saige), who is modeling AG's new Winter White Outfit, a fantastic fantasy of faux fur and subtle winter sparkles.

What really sets this outfit up for success is the surprising mix of textures. The playful chop of the faux fur on the vest highlights the plush puffed fur on the cuffs and boots. Similarly, the smooth and simple cotton jersey of the shirt and leggings is set off by the woven pattern of the cable knit shorts. 

The outfit doesn't miss out on a chance at some glittery glam. The faux fur vest features a shimmering rosette in a winter ice color on one shoulder.

And the cable knit shorts are trimmed on one leg with sequins.

The plush trimming on the boots (the same material as the cuffs on the shirt sleeves) is particularly soft and luxurious.

On practical matters, each piece appeared to be well made and I had no difficulties fitting the clothing and boots on my model. The boots have a velcro back and slipped easily on her feet and the plush fur cuffs of her shirt slid easily over her hands. The vest comes with attached silvery blue ribbons to tie the vest closed in front, though I believe Solveig will opt to loosely tie them behind the vest.

Solveig is ready for a day of shopping in Aspen or just lounging around in a luxury cabin retreat. This outfit has the right mix of glam and comfort, a whimsical outfit just perfect for the winter holidays.

Overall grade: A

Monday, October 27, 2014

GOTY 2015: Grace's Color Palette

The rumors are flying and speculation about 2015 Girl of the Year is in progress! If the book listing about GOTY 2015 in the Library of Congress is to be believed, our GOTY 2015 will be named Grace.

Further, it has been revealed that the storyline of Book 1, titled "Grace," is set in the summer and has her traveling to Paris! Will Grace's Meet Outfit be a traveling outfit? Will her Meet Outfit read more American or Parisian?

Considering the summertime setting, it seems that it is likely that Grace's color palette may reflect the Pantone Spring 2015 Fashion Color Report (rather than the Fall 2014 palette). So let's take a look and speculate!

Perhaps some Breton stripes (aka "sailor" stripes) in Classic Blue for a very classic Parisian look? Or a breezy outfit combining Aquamarine and Scuba for a casual seaside outfit?

Marsala is probably the most striking and distinct color anchoring the light, natural, and oceanic color palette--so if one of Grace's outfits incorporates this rustic and earthy tone into her wardrobe I will be convinced once and for all that we can look to Pantone reports for GOTY wardrobe predictions.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Samantha's Berry-tastic Bicycle: A Beforever Treat

The Beforever bicycle for Samantha is a berry-tastic treat offering a summer bouquet of colors: raspberry red, cotton candy pink, and sunflower yellow, with a splash of white and bronze on the wheels and rims.

The bicycle is a major storyline feature in Samantha's original six books. What always confused me is that while the book illustrations and story aways indicated a two-wheeled bicycle, what was offered in the catalogs was a quaint three-wheeled contraption. While three-wheeled bicycles are historically correct for Samantha's time, so were two-wheeled bicycles. I don't blame American Girl for making this change!

Probably most impressive with this bicycle is how well it is constructed. The wheels, rim, spokes, fender and chain guard and more are all constructed like the real thing. Even the pedals rotate, though the chain does not activate--so the bike must be propelled forward by play-power, though this is quite easy to do, especially since the bike is steadied by the subtly placed extra set of tiny wheels.

The bicycle also comes with a basket and tiny bouquet of flowers. The basket is removable as it has been smartly attached with buckled straps.

I love the basket, since it gives the bicycle a whimsical flair. This leads to my thought that this bicycle would look at home with any of the modern MyAG dolls. The design and color fits a retro or vintage style that is very popular today. In fact, while driving in Palo Alto on Monday, I saw a young woman riding a bike that was almost identical in color and design (sans basket) and then later the same day I spied a another young woman with a bike in teal that was a twin to Samantha's bike--right down to the wicker basket.

The color and design coordination between Samantha's bicycle and bicycling outfit is a dream. Each is darling on its own but together they really pop.

I was able to balance Samantha on the bike with ease. I did not even need to use the elastic bands attached to the pedals for her to stay in pose. The scale between the doll and bike is perfect.

I would love to stay and rave some more about this amazing bicycle, but Samantha has donned her hat and is about to take off down the street! But in parting I must say the sturdy and realistic construction combined with a design that works both in Samantha's historical setting or for any dolls set in modern times makes this item less of an accessory and more of a necessity according to all of my "girls." Grade: A+

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Samantha Meets Samantha: Looking Back, Looking Beforever

With the addition of Beforever Samantha, we now have two Samantha dolls in our home. Our first Samantha is a Pleasant Company era doll from early 1994. She was our daughter's first Pleasant Company doll and in fact the first Pleasant Company doll of any kind in our home. Our daughter would go on to be gifted a Felicity (PC era) and then later to purchase Josefina (PC era) with her own saved money, but Samantha would always be the first.

PC Samantha has since been handed on to me after having been packed away in a box for several years. My daughter was torn about just selling her or giving her away, and was relieved to find out that Samantha could have a forever home here. She has been well played with and loved over the years.

Meet Posey and Samantha!

BF Samantha (aka Posey) and PC Samantha look related though PC Samantha is definitely showing her age. She has surprisingly tight limbs for being twenty years old, though her head tilt has become very pronounced and remains even after tightening her neck string. This will need to be addressed at some point, but not sure how to go about it yet. 

PC Samantha's skin tone is a bit darker as well as more sallow, even yellow in undertone. Again, this may be due to aging as well as being handled and played with by a little girl for many years.

I find it interesting how much the new BF Samantha Meet dress really does harken back to PC Samantha's Meet dress with the maroon waistband sash and the pink tones of the dress fabric. However, the long sleeves, studious checked pattern, black tights, high neckline and long sleeves of the Pleasant Company era dress feel very restrictive and somber compared to the Beforever Meet. Short sleeves! Open neckline! Lace! Mesh overlay! Light pink and white! Fuzzy little dots! Froth and frills!

The hair color and length are surprisingly similar. The biggest difference is the level of sheen. PC Samantha has seen a fair amount of play and her hair shows its age. Like other older Samantha dolls, her bangs are very thick--our PC Samantha's bangs are downright thick and shaggy. PC Samantha's wig is also of an older construction style with the wig tape showing around much of her hairline. I also believe her wig is a bit defective, something not noticed at the time as it was my daughter's first Pleasant Company doll. In comparison, BF Samantha's wig construction is beautiful and nearly flawless.

Their feet also look very different sized--partly because PC dolls had larger feet, but also because the particular shape of the plastic molded shoe.

I was mostly surprised to see the general effect of wave and illusion of volume is almost identical between the two dolls. I would like to presume PC Samantha's wave has relaxed over the years, but I cannot say that definitively. (Note that while PC Samantha appears taller here, much of that is due to a higher placement of her ponytail.)

PC Samantha has earned her retreat from the limelight and now spends her sunny days playing in the yard, bikcycling, and swimming at Piney Point. She is thrilled to have met BF Samantha (Posey) and wishes her twenty years of brand new adventures!