Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It's Official: Farewell to Caroline

AKA...No doll is safe!
So I think almost everyone knew, at this point, that Caroline was probably retiring. She didn't receive a BeForever makeover unlike all the other dolls (even Josefina got a new meet outfit). She wasn't given a 2015 Limited Edition Outfit (neither was Josefina). A person linked to American Girl told a Facebook group that she was retiring, partially to make way for the rumored 1950s doll (more on that in a moment). I've even written in a previous post that I believed she was retiring, so hopefully you listened to my warnings.

Today, American Girl made the official announcement on their Facebook page that Caroline was retiring. Since I obviously heeded my own warning, I have been buying up Caroline's collection like crazy. I was given the actual doll with her meet accessories and her work outfit as a Christmas gift and I've been slowly building her collection (birthday outfit, calf, skiff, travel outfit, spencer and hat, travel basket, winter coat, skate set, holiday gown). Now the only things I really need are her bed, her kitten, and her nightgown and then I'll be good to go.
"But wait American Girl Liz!" says a faithful reader, wanting to save me from missing something in my collection. "You're forgetting this outfit!"

No I'm not. That outfit's hideous, and so clearly an attempt on the part of American Girl to hop on the Frozen bandwagon. Gross. I'll stick with the birthday gown it replaced. I'll also go with her original table from eBay rather than the matching banquet thing. Yes, I am a completest, but not at the expense of my standards and no...just...just no.

So my advice is to buy what you want because everything is up for sale only until supplies run out.

Now to my analysis.

I want to show you something-all the historical dolls and how long they've lasted. The dolls are listed in the order they were released.

Kirsten-released in 1986, officially retired in 2010. She was around for 24 years.

Samantha-released in 1986, retired in 2009. She was around for 23 years and has now been brought back as of 2014.

Molly-released in 1986, retired in 2013. She was out for 27 years.

Felicity-released in 1991, retired in 2010. She was out for 19 years.

Addy-released in 1993, yet to be retired. She has been out for 22 years so far.

Josefina-released in 1997, yet to be retired. She has been out for 17 years so far.

Kit-released in 2000 (the year Pleasant Rowland stepped down) yet to be retired. She has been in production for 15 years.

Kaya-released in 2002, yet to be retired. She has been in production for 13 years.

Nellie-released as the first Best Friend in 2004, retired in 2009. She was available for 5 years.

Elizabeth-released in 2005, retired in 2011. She was around for 6 years.

Emily-released in 2006, retired in 2013. She was around for 7 years.

Julie-released in 2007, yet to be retired. She has been around for 8 years.

Ivy-released in 2007, retired in 2014. She was out for 7 years.

Ruthie-released in 2008, retired in 2014. She was out for 6 years.

Rebecca-released in 2009, yet to be retired. She has been available for 6 years.

Marie Grace and Cecile-released in 2011, retired in 2014. They were around for only 3 years.

Caroline-released in 2012, retiring in 2015. She has been around for only 3 years.

The best friend dolls who were all retired in 2014. Two were dolls of color, and one was the ONLY Asian historical doll to date.

So why am I giving you this list? What could you possibly have to gain by reading this list? Well, if you notice, a lot of the newer dolls have been retired fairly quickly, whereas the older dolls such as Sam, Molly, and Kirsten were around for multiple decades. It seems to be the trend now to have a doll out for a few years and then retire them. This does a few different things:

1. It means the collections are way less extensive. However, this is made up by the fact that now all the collections are weighed down by expensive items. Since American Girl is trying to brand themselves as a luxury company, this might work for them.
2. It means that people who collect for that doll will be in a mad rush to buy all of that doll's things before they retire.
3. It makes the "who's next?" question into an intense game for people that follow the brand.

I don't know if this is good for business. It may be actually-if I think a doll could retire at any time, I'll be in a rush to buy ALL of their stuff. That has been my attitude towards a lot of my collection. I base a lot of my buying, not on what I actually want (Samantha's new mint green dress and painting set) but on who I think may retire. It creates a buying frenzy, just like for the GOTY.

The risk is that customers will get angry-the backlash has been harsh. But I doubt it-American Girl makes me angry all the time, but I still spend hundreds if not thousands on their products.

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, Caroline has been out for THREE years. That sucks, and it sucks for my wallet. Because yes, I am one of the suckers who will engage in the buying frenzy.

On the other hand, look at this quote from the American Girl Facebook page, in reply to a complaint.

It’s important to know that the top request we consistently hear from our fans is that they want new characters added to the BeForever lineup. However, space limitations in our catalogue and retail stores only allow us to effectively showcase a certain amount of characters. To that end, one of the main objectives with the new BeForever line is to introduce new historical characters to the line more frequently, while ensuring that we present each character and their world in a substantial and compelling way for our fans. In fact, we have exciting plans to introduce a brand-new historical character to the line this year! Please stay tuned to Facebook, our catalogue, and website for more information closer to launch in early fall!

Now I do NOT trust American Girl, and I think they lie all the time, but if I take what they say at face value, then I can calm down. More characters may not be a bad thing if American Girl takes the opportunity to showcase a more diverse set of viewpoints. And more characters does mean more retirements.

I do care about a POC GOTY for 2016-I really do. But I have always been a fan of the historical line up, so I really want a more diverse cast for those characters as well. I want an Asian character who has more than two freaking items in their collection and who has their own complete story line.

Three outfits and no PJs? For the only Asian historical character ever created? Three outfits and one accessory set in 7 years? BOO

(By the way, someone brought that up, and American Girl was all, "We have Asian MAGs!" No-that isn't what I asked for. I want an Asian historical character with a real collection and a six part-or three really long part-collection. And I want it now!)

If Caroline has to be the sacrificial lamb to bring in some more POC, then I can live with that.

If, however, they don't use this opportunity of a rotating cast to bring in more diverse perspectives, then this just sucks, with no redeeming parts.

For all my readers, please share pictures or stories about your Caroline doll in the comments!

P.S. How could they expect Ivy to sell well, with her two outfits and one accessory set? If I was a kid, I wouldn't want her because of her small collection. See, they shoot their DOC characters in the foot and then blame them for straggling along, giving them an excuse to retire them. Don't set a person, or a group, or even a freakin' doll up for failure and then blame them for not succeeding!


  1. Yeah I don't like the choice to only have historical characters available for such a short time. I'd already planned to get some of her stuff but now I guess I'll be getting more, maybe that was their plan all along!

    I'm excited to see who the new ones will be.

    1. Financially, I wonder if it benefits them since it makes every doll and item a limited edition by default. I hate it too though-this stuff is too expensive to collect in three short years :(