Pros: Variety of skin/eye/hair choices; American Girl quality.
Last year my daughter came home from school asking if she could have an American Girl doll. I was not too familiar with this line of dolls, but knew they were on the pricey side. I explained that these dolls were expensive and if she were to get one, it would be for a very special occasion. Every time we received a catalog in the mail, she would ask if could get one for her birthday or as a holiday gift, and my answer was always "maybe."
A few months ago we had the opportunity to take our children out of school for the day and spend the day in Manhattan, after my son received an award for participating in a calendar contest. The ceremony was at nine in the morning, and after we spent a few hours at the museum in which the ceremony was being held we let our son go nuts in the NBA store and took our daughter to visit the American Girl Store. Of course we made a purchase while there.
My daughter is seven and had read some of the American Girl books. Even though none of the characters really called out to her, but she knew she had to have one of the dolls. When we saw the display of the American Girl Just Like You dolls, we all agreed that this would be the doll to get.
Unlike the standard American Girl dolls which have a history and story behind their character, the American Girl Just Like You dolls are somewhat of a blank slate for your child to create a persona for. The dolls measure eighteen-inches tall and have a plumply stuffed torso, with hard plastic limbs and a hard plastic head with eyes that close and hair that can be brushed. While the shoulders and hips are jointed, the doll's elbows and knees are not.
Each American Girl Just Like You Doll is dressed in pink underwear, embroidered blue jeans, a white shirt with an American Girl logo on it, a pink and blue "satin" jacket, striped socks and white sneakers with light blue trim. Much of the fun of owning an American Girl doll is dressing your child like the doll, and for about one hundred dollars you can get your child a matching shirt, jeans and jacket of her own.
Even though all of these dolls come dressed alike, they are very different from each other. We chose model #GT12G, which has blond hair, light brown eyes and light skin and is the one that most closely resembles my daughter's features. Dolls are available in a variety of combinations of with and without freckles, with green, blue or brown eyes, a variety of hair colors from blond to red to brown to black, and a variety of skin tones, so that you can find the one that most closely matches the girl you are shopping for. To make our doll look even more like my daughter, we browsed through the ten styles of eye glasses available for the dolls and purchased a pair in lilac with a purple material case for $6.
Since the Just Like You dolls do not have a history like other American Girl dolls, your child needs to create a persona for her. Included with your purchase is a small spiral-bound book entitled "Friends Forever" in which your child can fill in her doll's information in response to simple questions. It begins with "The Basics" such as the doll's name (ours has been named Stephanie), birthdate and age along with a place where her family can be listed. "Her favorite" color, song, ice cream flavor, game and so on are asked for and space is left for filling in those responses. One double page spread shows pictures of nine different puppies and you are asked to choose the one your doll would like best. Near the end of the book are a few scrapbook pages where photographs can be glued in and a description can be written on the accompanying pages.
The American Girl Just Like You dolls are recommended for ages 8 and up, and that is a fairly good guideline to go by. As the price tag is $87 per doll (and much more than that if you add accessories or other outfits), you will want to make sure that the doll will be taken care of properly. While my daughter has taken better care of her American Girl Just Like You doll than any other doll she has owned, it, of course, has ended up on the floor or tossed in a corner on occasion. The good news is that it was not damaged in any way, as the doll is make from quality materials and good craftmanship.
After hoping and wishing for an American Girl doll for quite some time, my daughter finally got one of her own and has become very attached to it. She liked the idea of picking out an American Girl Just Like You doll that looked like her and enjoyed naming her Stephanie and creating a personality for the doll. After almost four months, Stephanie has become a part of the family and has joined us on vacation, sleeps with my daughter each night, and goes in the car with us on most days. Though the dolls are pricey, ours has held up wonderfully so far, and I expect many more years of loving for this doll.