There’s a lot to like about the American Girl empire. The dolls are well-made and offer girls a wide variety of imaginative options, whether they’re into gymnastics or the history of the Great Depression. But dang, my daughter’s AG doll is bankrupting me.
How many $30 bathrobes does an 18-inch doll need? How many $35 poseable Morgan horses? My daughter has very definite opinions on these matters, and since gear for her American Girl doll is all she’s asked for on every gift-giving occasion in the last 2 years, she’s amassed a pretty good collection.
But most of what she has is not, in fact, American Girl-branded clothing or gear. A startling number of companies are attempting to eat AG’s lunch, putting out lookalike dolls as well as clothing for the dolls (and sometimes, their owners), as well as beds, horses, tents, cars, tiaras and a zillion other items sized to fit American Girl dolls and her knockoff twins.
The following sources are some of my favorites, and the list at the end contains sigh-worthy 18-inch doll finds at bargain prices.
American Girl dolls start at $115 and they’re recommended for age 8 and up. Give one to a younger girl and you’ll soon see why — though the dolls are solid, their hair tangles easily and if you brush it with a regular brush it’ll get snagged and frizzy. If what your child wants is just a doll that’s sized to use 18-inch doll gear, perhaps you’d both be happier with one of her less-expensive knockoffs.
Target puts out arguably the most popular AG knockoff, with Our Generation dolls running $25-$30. Personally, I think the OG dolls are cuter than AG — the Caucasian AG dolls have a yellow/green tone to their skin that I find a bit creepy — but the faces are still slightly expressionless for my taste.
The Toys “R” Us 18-inch doll brand, Journey Girls, prices its dolls at $40. I like the faces on these dolls and think they look more lively than AG faces. I also like that a couple of the Journey Girls appear to be (or could be taken as) biracial, a hard category of dolls to find. Journey Girl Kyla is pictured above on her bunk bed.
My Life dolls are Walmart’s answer to AG; they seem a little bit slimmer, and their butts are a bit smaller, so AG clothing may be baggy on them. Running about $28 each, the My Life dolls each come with a theme — you can buy a doll who’s supposed to be a ballerina, a nature photographer, a party planner, and so on. My Life’s line also includes boy dolls, and there are almost as many African-American dolls as Caucasian ones, and several dolls appear to be biracial. There are also a few Latina or Asian dolls in the line.
A whoooooole bunch of other companies put out 18-inch dolls of varying cuteness, size quirks and quality, like Madame Alexander ($60), Springfield Collection ($22), Carpatina ($70-$96), and Modern Girl ($27; found most frequently at Michael’s Crafts), Götz Dolls at Pottery Barn Kids ($77-$130). Shop around, you’re likely to find an AG alternative your child likes and you can live with.
Here’s where you can really save some ducats, because AG outfits typically run in the $30 range apiece (I will pause here so we can all have simultaneous heart attacks). Don’t want to pay more for Isabelle’s dance tutu than you paid for a full-size one? Read on.
Best crazy savings ever is courtesy of Springfield Collection, which hawks dozens of outfits for $9-$11 each. Ka-bang!
Our Generation outfits are pricier at $13-$18 each. However, the OG clothes typically come as complete looks in the AG mold, with shoes and often accessories like a purse, tennis racket, swim cap and the like. Plus, OG offers retro clothing lines that seem designed to draw gasps from vintage-loving moms (like me!) — check out the pictured gingham beauty above, $17.
Journey Girls clothing runs in the $20 range and each outfit comes with accessories. There are many smaller boutiques online that also have less-expensive options. Some of my favorites are Silly Monkey (outfits $13-$22, shoes $6-$9), Dori’s Doll Boutique (outfits $8-$16; shoes $5-$10), and Daydream Doll Boutique (outfits $13-$25, some including shoes).
For those who are okay with paying more for special-occasion outfits, Carpatina offers astonishing fantasy doll outfits for $20 to $40.
Does your child like to match their doll? American Girl matchy-match outfits can cost upwards of $100, but you can find less expensive options.
This Wonder Woman nightgown for girls age 4-12 comes with a matching doll gown; $14 at kohls.com.
Accessories and furniture
Before you shell out big bucks for AG accessories, always check for similar items at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Toys “R” Us, or other stores you frequent. The styling chair on the left is from American Girl and costs $60. The chair in the middle is from Target, $28, and comes with the pictured accessories. The chair with accessories on the right is from Walmart and is $20. Which one’s the best? You be the judge!
Personally, I go nuts over the Our Generation accessories, which tend to be adorably well-thought-out. My daughter bought the Sick at Home set (which no longer seems to be available online), and went absolutely nuts over the old-fashioned ice-pack, the teensy little cup of tea (with a hanging tea bag flag!), tissues, medicine, a teeny hot water bottle and a tray to go over the doll’s sick bed.
This list has my favorite OG accessory sets, as well as bargains on dolls, furniture, clothing and more.
1. The best thing about buying doll pajamas and nightgowns? In the excitement of getting her doll into night clothes, your child is more likely to get her on PJs on without struggle. This beautiful old-fashioned eyelet gown from Springfield Collection is very similar to Josefina’s $24 nightgown and comes with a matching blanket.
2. Got a dolly wardrobe that needs filling out quickly? This outfit sets gives you a lot of bang for your buck, with two tops, two pairs of pants, sunglasses, a purse, and a headband for accessorizing.
3. The American Girl Sunset Sleepover Bag is $28. For $3 less, the Our Generation 18″ Doll Camping Set has a sleeping bag, a tent, and tiny versions of a lantern, coffee pot, plate, cup, and a hot dog and marshmallow to hold over a fake fire.
4. A strong point of the Springfield Collection accessories are the super-cute shoes, which fit AG dolls beautifully. These ballet flats are $8.96, and goes-with-everything patent leather-look flats are $6.88. Compare these prices to American Girl doll shoes at $14-$20.
5. An amazing mix-and-match bargain, the Weardoll’s 33-Piece Holiday Collection is an entire doll wardrobe: two party dresses, a swimsuit, a raincoat, a tank top and pants, and dozens of accessories including an umbrella, sunglasses, jewelry, hair clips, and plastic food to share. It all comes packed in a cute kid-size backpack — with a matching doll bag for your child’s mini-friend to carry.
6. Got a doll fan who loves to do hair? Sophia’s 14-piece Hair Care Set for Dolls includes a (non-working) blow dryer, curling iron, and straightening iron, a mirror, and hair accessories.
7. Go retro with these groovy white sunglasses with pink lenses from Springfield Collection; experienced users recommend holding them on your doll’s face with a judiciously applied rubber band around the back of the doll’s head.
8. The only American Girl doll bicycle that’s currently sold is the MYAG Trail Bike, which runs a cool $149. But The New York Doll Collection makes a bike that looks almost identical and comes with a basket and handlebar streamers.
9. American Girl Doll beds are usually priced in the $100 range and are made for only one doll. But Badger Basket, which makes a bargain line of doll furniture that’s sold at many online outlets, prices its adorable two-doll bunk bed with attached storage armoire at less than half that price. It comes with bedding, curtains for the armoire, three hangers, and a ladder so dolls can scamper up to the top bunk.
10. Matching doll-and-owner outfits are sold separately at American Girl, and a paired set can run $100 or more. But Dollie & Me makes party dresses, school dresses, PJs, aprons, and accessories, for shockingly reasonable prices. This Princess Party Snuggly sleepwear set costs less than one pair of AG doll pajamas.
11. Scooters are hot, and if your child gets around on one, a matching doll scooter may be just what they’re craving. Z’s Scooter from American Girl is $50. Sophia’s scooter comes with a helmet and is less than half the price. If you don’t like the looks of this scooter, check out the Beverly Hills Doll Collection’s scooter instead.
12. One pair of 18-inch doll shoes can run you $5-$25. If you’re willing to take a bit of a chance with the selection — you’ll get 5 random pairs of shoes; you can’t pick the styles — Barwa’s 5-pair shoe lots are a really a terrific bargain.
13. For $38 you can get American Girl’s Berry Wheelchair. For $24.95, Sophia’s Doll Wheelchair Set has a wheelchair, crutches, and a couple of fasten-on casts to add to the hurt-dolly verisimilitude. Users say that the wheelchair’s front wheels swivel, just like a real chair.
14. American Girl makes jogging strollers for its Bitty Babies; they cost $70 and up. You can get doll strollers as cheap as $13, but they’re cheap umbrella strollers that look cruddy and fall apart fast. Spend a few more dollars for this great-looking, long-lasting jogging stroller from Mommy & Me Doll Collection. It folds and has an under-the-seat basket that looks just like the one on real strollers.
15. Perfect for a big brother or sister with a new baby in the house, Graco’s Room Full of Fun includes a highchair, play yard, and stroller. Everything the new baby can do, your child’s doll can do, too.
16. Backpack-style carriers sold by AG start at $30 and go up to $60 or more. This similar-looking backpack works great and it’s less than half the price.
17. American Girl doll beds cost up to $150. This oh-so-sweet Badger Basket White Rose Doll Canopy Bed looks great and can be had for just over $20.
18. For the doll fan who cares just as much about what’s underneath the clothes, this tank and undies set trimmed with lace fits AG dolls perfectly.
19. Got a little one with an injury? AG offers a “Feel Better” kit for $30, or you can spend less for Sophia’s Crutches, Casts, and Accessory Set: crutches, an arm cast, a leg cast, and a bandage for wherever it hurts.
20. One of Silly Monkey’s strong points is its huge collection of 18-inch doll shoes which go for as low as $6. These green Tom-like slip-ons are $7 ; the red ballet flats are $6.50.
21. Beverly Hills Doll Collection excels in play sets that rival those from American Girl and Our Generation, often for a few bucks less. The Hot Pink Skateboard Set comes with a skateboard that really rolls (with elastic to keep your doll’s feet on), helmet, kneepads, sneakers, and stickers to customize your board.
22. American Girl bathtubs are $40-$60. This one fits 18-inch dolls perfectly, looks great, and costs less.
23. If your 18-inch doll fan likes baking, this imagination-sparking play set includes cups, plates, a mixer, a bowl, measuring spoons and cups, a spatula, and more. You’ll be eating plastic cupcakes in no time!
24. If you aren’t looking to buy a particular outfit for a doll, the very fastest and cheapest way to fill out a miniature wardrobe is to buy doll clothing in “lots.” What you give up in choice, you gain in savings: this lot includes four doll day outfits, and one set of pajamas.
25. You spend time working on your laptop, so don’t deny your doll the same thrill. This pink plastic laptop is cheap enough to bang around a little.
Originally published April 23, 2015; updated September 19, 2017
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Source : https://blogs.babycenter.com/products_and_prizes/04232015-22-ways-to-save-on-american-girl-and-25-amazing-bargains/