Doll Wars 2010
Good News for Consumers
Tags: multiracial dolls, history, consumers, price war, charity, pretend play
Posted: 2010-11-16 13:49:59 By: Joanne Oppenheim


Saving Big Bucks
        In this year of tight budgets the doll war is largely about dollars and sense. The good news is that you will need fewer dollars than ever to bring home an affordable and lovely multicultural doll. For under $30 you can find 14"-22" beauties with stylish clothes, a back story, and often a presence on the internet. The Dollie & Me Collection not only features three ethnic dolls, they have matching clothes for party and play clothes at reasonable prices. The Heart for Hearts Girls Collection features a variety of dolls from Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Laos, Belarus and even the USA, all dressed in regional outfits. Or you might want to consider the Best Friends Club Dolls, with Asian, African, and Caucasian dolls each with a book/journal girls can read and write in. For another 10 dollars you can bring home a gorgeous Corolle doll, 13" Les Cheries ($40) that come in several charming ethnic variations.

       If money is not an issue, you might also want to consider the 22" Karito Kids Dolls ($100) that come in many ethnic variations and wearing wonderful clothing and sporting a book to introduce young readers to a distant locale.  

       This is not to say that the American Girl Dolls are less good than the others. They have been and remain Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award Winners. Designed with care as play dolls of high-end quality, they introduce many young people to dollops of history along with pretend play. From Colonial times, to Civil War, the Gold Rush, the old Southwest, Lower East Side Immigrants, the 30's Great Depression and to the 1940's & World War II, they were an innovative idea, one of the few doll makers to introduce girls to the world of diversity, by creating beautiful American Girl Dolls of many ethnic backgrounds. Although this year's American Girl ($94) has taken a new direction, we trust (and hope) that the historic and innovative multicultural dolls from the past will continue in their collection.

       Like the traditional American Girl Doll, many of this season's lovely dolls come with books, but they are not of the same quality as the American Girl books that have often been created by well-known children’s authors. Oddly enough, this is the year that American Girl doll makers did not package a book with their newest doll. Instead, they have followed the trend for an online site. We hope the team at American Girl goes back to their roots and continues to offer quality books to accompany their dolls.

Online Presence
       This year's American Girl doll begins on the internet. Parent and child or parent alone, can design their own doll by choosing her skin, hair and eye colors and her clothing. In other words, you can make a doll that is a look alike for your daughter. Once the doll is designed and named your child can play games online, use their craft ideas, and listen to stories.
       American Girl is not the only doll site that hopes to get your daughter's attention with sales. Karito Kids and Heart for Hearts Girls also have websites with games and stories and crafts. They have also added a charity component to the mix. Heart For Hearts is making a contribution from the proceeds for each doll to the country it represents. Karito Kids offers contributions based on the points kids earn by playing games on their site. You will want to look at all of these secured sites to determine if you think they are worth your daughter’s time or if they are really more about shopping than valuable playing time.
       Bottom line is the doll war makes it possible for consumers with all kinds of budgets to bring home a special doll that will resemble the girls in their life and give them a memorable gift.



2010 Award
Dollie & Me Collection: Ava, Gabriella and Rachel Dolls
(Alexander Doll Company $29.99 Score: )

An amazing new collection of 18" dolls has just entered the scene and they are good news for consumers. Just look at the price! They do look a lot like the higher priced dolls. This collection of lovely dolls is available with blonde, brunette and black wavy hair. They come in several skin tones and fashionable clothes. There are three dolls in the collection: Ava, Gabriella, and Rachel. The dolls have soft torsos, sleeping eyes, jointed bodies, but solid legs and arms and each comes dressed in a school day kind of outfit plus two pairs of shoes. Ava is wearing pink clogs and Gabriella is wearing pink platform sandals, both come with a pair of gold Mary Janes. We did not see Rachel in person. Best of all, you can buy matching dresses for child and doll and they are not only special, they will not break the bank. There are also matching sports clothes, costumes, outerwear, and sleepwear. Dress sizes range from 2T to 16 depending on the style you choose and they are priced from $34 & up. Many of the dresses are perfect for holiday parties. They say 3 & up, but this is really a doll for slightly older girls.

 The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010.




2010 Award
Karito Kids Dolls Pita
(Karito Kids $100 Score: )

This gorgeous 22" doll from Mexico City is fashioned to look like an eleven year old girl and is dressed in a dark dress with a reddish jacket and brown boots. She has dark brown hair and dark eyes. Pita's back story from the book indicates that although she is from a wealthy family, she has concerns for others less fortunate than herself. Pita is one of a collection of multicultural dolls that comes packaged with a book. This purchase is not about the book. You'll find better books on our book list. This is all about the doll. Her body is soft, but her arms and legs like her head are hard and beautifully molded. This collection has a presence online, as well with games, extra outfits, and a charity that encourages kids to donate money to those more needy. These are definitely dolls for older girls who have a more worldly view and are open to learning about other countries and the dreams of girls from far away. Unlike old fashioned foreign doll collections, these were designed to be played with--not just displayed. They were also designed to encourage girls to think beyond the confines of their home base. Also in the collection are Lulu from Kenya, Zoe from New York City, Piper from Australia. 8 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on




2010 Award
Best Friends Club Dolls Calista
(MGA Entertainment $30 Score: )

Calista is from an affordable collection of 18" multicultural dolls that budget minded shoppers will appreciate. Calist's photo here does not do her justice. She is full of life and really cute. Calista appeared too late for our list last year, so we will treat her as new, although this year's entries are Yuko, an Asian beauty and Gianna a pretty doll with brunette hair. Calista, is an African American beauty who happens to wear glasses. The Best Friend Club Dolls do not have soft bodies and their joints are a little weird, but mostly covered with jeans and such. They come packaged with extra sports clothing and a book/journal that gives the reader background on the doll as well as space to write about themselves. There are plenty of accessories sold separately and an online site where there are games. 6 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on




2010 Award
My American Girl Doll
(American Girl $95 Score: )

Instead of a premade doll, this year's American Girl is one you custom designed online. You and your child decide if her hair is blonde, brunette, curly, straight. You decide her skin tone and if she has freckles or wears glasses. You and your child can go online and custom-choose all the variables and then outfit her, too. Of course, you need a wardrobe budget and if price is not a limiting factor you can order up matching clothes for child and doll, not to mention all the furniture and accessories. There's even a manicure set and chair for a pedicure with a footrest - honest! Unlike the historic dolls this comes without a book as her story is one created entirely by the child she belongs to. Instead of a book, the company has created a website with games, quizzes, and activities that girls can enter via "Innerstar University" with an access code that comes with the doll. The games are designed for very young users. We have to confess that what has always set the American Girl apart from so many others was the quality of the dolls themselves, the book connection as well as the links to history. Their stories made history come alive with books by well know writers and the period clothes and crafts were a part of the package. This stripped down design-your-own-doll will surely have appeal to many, as will the website, but we hope that American Girl will not change its long standing mission.  

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010.


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