Friday, June 19, 2015

Storage Wars II: Bon Voyage Stationery Set vs Travel Case

The Bon Voyage Stationery Set for Girls offers another storage option for Grace's clothes and accessories as the stationery set is packaged in a bright red paperboard "suitcase."


The paperboard exterior of the red stationery case is sturdy and the front is embossed with an Eiffel Tower. The pebble texture of the suitcase mimics a fine leather. The suitcase also features a sturdy carry handle and the hinges of the handle and the clasp itself are made of metal. Overall, the paperboard suitcase seems as if it should hold up to gentle play and storage.


The most significant difference between the Bon Voyage Stationery Set suitcase and the Travel Case for Girls besides the materials (paperboard vs faux-leather) is their sizes. While the BVSS suitcase is as wide as the Travel Case, it is significantly narrower.


So the question of storage--how much will the paperboard suitcase hold? Below is Grace's City Outfit and Pajamas set inside of the BVSS suitcase. There is plenty of room for the two outfits and potentially room for two additional outfits.


In comparison, the zippered top compartment of the Travel Case for Girls (pictured below) also easily carries the two Grace outfits, but maxes out with three outfits in the top compartment. However, the Travel Case has a second zippered compartment which easily could fit an additional 4 - 5 outfits, which makes the Travel Case the roomier option by far.


While the Bon Voyage Stationery Set paperboard suitcase is sturdy and smart, it is limited to 3 - 4 outfits whereas the Travel Case for Girls accommodates upwards of 7 - 8 outfits. The exterior of Travel Case is made of a long lasting faux-leather vinyl which will withstand small spills and the case is much more rugged overall.


As a storage unit, I give the Bon Voyage Stationery Set a B+. The piece is well executed as a paperboard product and the handle and metal clasp are terrific. The storage capacity of the paperboard suitcase is still somewhat limited compared to the Travel Case for Girls, but the Bon Voyage case could be the perfect size for some poppet travelers.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Storage Wars: Grace's Travel Case vs. Luggage

With the newly released Travel Case for Girls there is now a bigger and better option for storing Grace's accessories. In fact, until I put the Travel Case and Luggage pieces side by side, I had not noticed how rather limited the Luggage was in terms of storage.



As noted in my previous review of Grace Thomas's Travel Case for Girls, the case fits 2 - 3 outfits on the top compartment and an additional 4 - 5 outfits in the lower compartment.


Grace's Luggage, on the other hand, is smaller than the top compartment of the case.


The Luggage almost completely fits inside the top compartment.


While the Travel Case can store a minimum of six full outfits, the Luggage can barely fit one accessory set!


Grace's Sightseeing Accessories (boots, shrug and sunglasses) fit inside of the Luggage--but just barely.


An alternative storage option is the paperboard "suitcase" from the new Bon Voyage Stationery Set for Grace Thomas. The bright red case from set is smaller than the zippered Travel Case and does not have separate storage compartments like the zippered Travel Case, but the smaller price tag could give the paperboard suitcase the edge for those looking for a more affordable storage option.


In terms of total storage, the Travel Case for Girls wins hands down in a one-on-one battle with the Grace's Luggage, though the paperboard suitcase from the Bon Voyage Stationery Set is an affordable option for those looking for a middle ground. 

Grace Thomas's Travel Case for Girls

A squee of delight for Grace Thomas's Travel Case for Girls. It is rare that I bring home items specifically made for girls, but this one was too wonderful to pass up. 


The case is made of a faux-leather, which is really just another way to say it is made of a nice and supple vinyl material. It sports two zippered compartments and a faux-leather carry handle. The teal satin bow is purely decorative and tied onto the handle.


I was drawn to the storage capabilities of the case for doll accessories rather than any use as an overnight bag for girl-sized toiletries or make-up. In fact, the case seems almost too small for heavy use as a girl-sized item and seems tailor made to accommodate items for the poppets.


The design of the case is exciting and fresh. I love the faux-leather patches.



The metal tag on the Eiffel Tower is classy and smart.


So the real question is how well does it store Grace's items!? Here is a sneak peak of that question: pictured above is the top section packed with her City Outfit and her Pajamas. The two outfits fit into the top section of the case with plenty of breathing room. In theory, a third outfit or a few small accessories could fit into this upper space as well.

Considering this top zippered section is about 1/3 of the total storage space, it seems reasonable that the bottom section could hold 4 - 5 outfits depending on how tightly one wishes to pack the clothing.

Overall, this gets a five-star cute-cute-cute-cute-cute rating! Well constructed, delightful design, and a perfect size for storing lots of doll items. A++

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WWOG: A Big Ticket Tally


Grace's midsummer release items are now searchable on American Girl's website and it looks to be a fabulous set of items, for both girls and poppets everywhere. No official word on the release date, but the most popular guess is June 25th.

So a big drumroll for Grace's Whole World price tag tally (excluding dvd, books, and items for girls):


New for Grace Thomas (upper right of infographic) will be a Sightseeing Outfit (black-and-white striped top paired with a white skirt), her Sightseeing Accessories (red shrug, black boots and blue sunglasses), and her Sweet Hairstyles Set (bows and hair pins). This is a 1-2-3 win for AG, and I anticipate bringing all three home. 

Last fall I doubt many thought Grace's Whole World would climb above $1300 (we were so naive as we can see here). And I must reiterate: this $1307 price tag tally is for just Grace Thomas, her clothing and accessories. I deliberately left out some store exclusives for Grace, such as the doll sized Chef's Hat, Bonbon Tee, and Cupcakes that can be purchased only as an add-on when booking a Party-of-6 at an American Girl Bistro. Items for girls (books, dvds, clothing for girls, jewelry for girls, etc.) not included in the tally!

And it is rumored there are some more doll sized food items, though no details or images yet.

But let's not forget the terrific items for girls--this is probably my favorite GOTY release for girls! Anticipated midsummer items for girls that are now searchable/findable on AG's website are Grace Thomas's Sparkle Bow Tee and Grace Thomas's Puppy Tee, a delightful Grace's Bracelet with travel charms, a bright pink Eiffel Tower-themed Jewelry and Photo Keeper, a new book activity kit called Baking with Grace, the Grace Stirs Up Success soundtrack and dvd, and my absolute must-have from the girl sized range, the Parisian-themed Travel Case for Girls

Yes, the Travel Case is coming home with me immediately--as soon as I can verify the release date! What is on your wish list?

Melody Ellison: BeForever 2016?


Is the newly trademarked name Melody Ellison a sneak peak at the rumored BeForever 2016 doll? American Girl officially announced many months ago that BF 2016 will be an African American doll--so do we now have her name as well?

MELODY ELLISON:  BF 2016?

The name Ellison is not without significance in African American literary history. A greatly lauded piece of literature by an AA author is the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man was published in 1952 and chronicles the struggles and frustrations of a black man in 1930s New York City who was essentially, because of the color of his skin, rendered socially "invisible".

I would like to think the choice of Ellison is a not-too-subtle nod to AA history. I do not in any way believe Melody Ellison, if she is the BF2016 doll, would be made to be actually related to AA author Ralph Ellison, but rather that the name choice would be an appropriate and interesting subtle homage to Ellison the writer as well as the AA history of struggle for "visibility."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

WWOG: Midsummer Report



So much to note about GOTY Grace this summer: her third book, her movie, rumored new clothing and accessories, and more!

On May 21, her third book Grace Makes it Great was released. 


Will the above outfit be part of an upcoming midsummer outfit for Grace? The striped top and white skirt has been seen on the grey market (Taobao.com), which makes this outfit a likely candidate. Also spotted was black boots with Grace's swooped heart design embroidered on them. Perhaps a boot-and-umbrella combo to coordinate with her Travel Coat? But when will these speculated items arrive?

How about on June 23, when her movie Grace Stirs Up Success launches?

And now the newly announced partnership with Williams-Sonoma also features Grace:  
Join Williams-Sonoma and American Girl® for a hands-on baking class inspired by Grace™—the 2015 Girl of the Year™! Each student will learn Grace’s favorite French Madeleine recipe, then finish the pastries with dark chocolate, white chocolate, and a few other toppings. We’ll also make and decorate sugar cookies from scratch. Each child will take home a special American Girl® goodie bag! $30 per child.
As for Grace's current offerings, GOTY Grace still has us waiting…as her items continue to be placed on backorder online and the in-store availability of her items also continues to fluctuate.

Since the early weeks of her release in January, we have seen many of her items bounce in and out of backorder status. As of today, four of her items once again show up on the website as temporarily out of stock:

Grace’s Travel Set – backordered until June 19
Grace’s Pajamas – backordered until June 26
Grace’s City Outfit – backordered until July 2
Grace’s French Bakery – backordered until July 10



On my last visit to AGPSF on May 23, Grace's Travel Set was out of stock and its mini display left empty. And I can't remember the last time I've seen the French Bakery displayed or available in store.

Since her debut month, almost every outfit and accessory for Grace has shown up at least once as backordered. This began in January when her big ticket item, the French Bakery was temporarily out of stock in stores and online and her Pastry Cart soon followed.

Some fans have met this ongoing backordered status of Grace's collection with skepticism—could AG be manipulating buyer purchasing behaviors by making the items seem in high demand? Or perhaps it is a matter of AG being more conservative on how much stock they manufacture, store and stock—after all, on December 31st of this year Grace officially retires and any leftover stock becomes a financial liability.


(Above: Travel Coat but no luggage!)

For myself, the constant changing status of item availability of Grace’s items has affected my purchasing timeline. With GOTY Isabelle, I did not worry about completing my collection until early December of her year. With GOTY Grace, while logically I am confident that her wardrobe and smaller accessories will remain available into the first weeks of December, I have made the majority of my purchases much earlier in the year and I may complete them when her next release of items arrive this summer (not confirmed, but highly anticipated).

Interestingly, the box Grace now comes in has a small design change. Like the new Truly Me doll boxes, her box now features a picture label on the lower right hand corner.


For fans of Grace and/or her collection, when do you plan to complete your list of GOTY 2015 related purchases this year? Are you excited about the possible new summer release items for Grace, or are you already"burnt" out on Grace's World?

And finally a question I barely dare to ask...when will we discover the first hints of GOTY 2016? Are we ready for and enthused about another round to begin sometime in the coming months?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Summer Fun: Flamingo Beach Dress

More fun beach-and-summer wear from the Truly Me debut! 


The Flamingo Beach Dress consists of a cotton halter top dress, sandals and a bracelet. The fabric for the dress features a design with flamingos, shells, and starfish.


The fabric also has tiny gold flecks (like glitter) on the surface of the fabric that is noticeable only up close. In fact, I don't think I noticed the gold flecks when viewing the dress in the store. It was only after I was home and was able to handle the dress in my hands that I noticed this fabric detail.


The bracelet consists of plastic beads and a starfish strung simply on a band of elastic.


The sandals were simple enough to slip on, but I am not a fan of the white elastic. I imagine the white elastic could look dingy and dirty in short order. Additionally the dark bronze color of the plastic, non-functional side buckle seems cheap and out of place with this shoe.


The halter top fastens behind the neck with velcro tabs. This dress reveals a lot of the cloth portion of the doll's shoulders and torso which for some customers is a downside to realistically designed summer wear, but I enjoy the greater range of design options this allows.


Astrid is cool and casual in the Flamingo Beach Dress. The dress is smart and tilts toward sophisticated with the halter top design, but the sandals are a design miss. A-