American Girl's new doll: It's a boy!

NEW YORK • American Girl's newest doll is… a boy?

For the first time in its 31-year history, American Girl, a maker of pricey 18-inch dolls, is introducing a boy. His name: Logan Everett.

With his perfect boyband brown hair, hipster T-shirt and dark-wash jeans, it is perhaps no surprise that in the American Girl world, Logan plays the drums in his friend Tenney Grant's band.

But his appearance is certainly a change for the brand. The unveiling of Logan on Tuesday comes after nearly a year of rumours that the American Girl franchise was working on a boy doll.

He is the latest push by Mattel, which acquired the Wisconsin-based doll-maker for US$700 million in 1998, to create more contemporary figures and stories for American Girl, and to further diversify the line of the dolls in hopes of improving sales. Revenue was flat last year, at US$570 million (S$810.7 million), after a long period of growth.

Late last year, American Girl named its first limited edition African American Girl of the Year, Gabriela McBride. Like most American Girl dolls, Gabriela costs US$115. But Mattel has come under criticism in recent years for losing much of what made the original American Girl dolls distinctive.


PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ HEATHER SCHMELZLEN

When the line was introduced in 1986, it became a huge hit for its historically accurate clothing and furniture, and stories told through the doll's eyes of escaping slavery or living through the Depression.

Ms Pleasant Rowland, a former teacher and news anchor, imagined the line after visiting Colonial Williamsburg and coming up with the idea of teaching history through dolls. An early doll, Molly McIntire, wore braids and round glasses and was accompanied by a series of books that told of life during World War II.

Another doll, Addy Walker, was a nine-year-old born into slavery who escapes with her mother.

A number of the historical dolls have been retired or archived in recent years as Mattel introduced more contemporary figures such as Isabelle Palmer, who is studying ballet at a performing arts school, or Grace Thomas, a baker with a jaunty pink beret.

A spokesman for Mattel, in an e-mail statement, said the company remained committed to its historical characters. She said the company had introduced more historical figures in the past decade than at any other time in the company's history, including, this week, Nanea, a 1940s Hawaiian growing up around the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

As for Logan, the spokesman said customers had long been asking for a boy doll. Some parents wanted a doll for their boys to play with, while girls were simply looking to diversify and add to their collections.

"In fact, we know many girls who have created their own boy dolls from our existing lines," the spokesman wrote.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2017, with the headline 'American Girl's new doll: It's a boy!'. Print Edition | Subscribe