The American Girl has always sat at the absolute top of the doll food chain, coveted above Barbie, Bratz dolls or Polly Pockets. Though astronomically priced and requiring way too many accessories, American Girl dolls would have young girls begging their parents, leafing through magazine spreads and pining after a Samantha or Felicity to call their own.
American Girl has solidified themselves as a company that embraces diversity and encourages children to learn about history. The dolls in the original collection were not toys alone. Each girl came with a background, a story, accessories and a name to establish their individuality. They came from different points in American history, highlighting the cultures that have made up this country since its foundation. The company created and has continued to follow the same basic core values of embracing America’s past and celebrating the girls who contributed to it.
However, the newest release from the doll company has consumers questioning the branding of the company. On Tuesday, American Girl announced their newest doll. Logan Everett, a Nashville native, will be the first male doll sold by the company in its 31-year history, according to an article from The New York Times. The doll’s features include shaggy brown hair, a T-shirt and jeans.
This company has always released diverse dolls. A boy is simply the next addition to the collection of historic dolls, not a move that could change the entire face of the company. The name is American “Girl,” after all. At the same time, there’s also nothing wrong with this addition. It’s certainly progressive, though it doesn’t seem like American Girl is trying to appeal to boys. The mission of this doll is not to break down the gender stereotypes of childhood toys, but to let girls have the opportunity to add a boy to their collections. Even a spokesperson said to The Times that girls have tried to make their own boy dolls in the past. The company is now supplying their customers with a male friend for their already predictably large collection of overpriced dolls. American Girl is attempting to make a comeback, but considering the already dwindling popularity of the dolls, this initiative seems to lack the punch it intended.
If Barbie has Ken, why can’t American Girl have Logan? The boy doll will appeal to young girls, but will boys be inclined to purchase the toy? Ken dolls haven’t been sold to boys and for the most part, haven’t even been advertised to them. Perhaps Logan would be more attractive to more boys if he wasn’t labeled as a “doll.” Either way, American Girl is sure to make a profit from his release.
American Girl was always special because of their doll’s personal story, their connection with history and books and movies that created a timeline of their doll’s lives. Not only did it make having the doll more real, but it was educational for young girls to learn about the different eras throughout America’s history. This way American Girl was able to capitalize on a market of young girls who wanted a pretty doll and parents who wanted meaning behind playtime. They’ve retired some of the most influential, historical dolls to replace with modern dolls that are not as relevant or appealing. American Girl dolls were created to weave a story of their history and with every step to increase revenue, the company seems to be leaving what made them unique in the first place. However, if this is the start of a new line of boys throughout history, it could be a step in the right direction.
This could create an entire collection of male dolls with topical backgrounds and relevance. Logan is a safe pick for their first boy — a “hipster” boy in a band. If his sales start to soar, American Girl should take advantage to create a line of males in the same way they released the female dolls. If boy dolls really do help increase revenue, that money should be put into creating storylines, props and clothes to design even more personalities for consumers to fall in love with.