Monday, March 27, 2017

AG's GOTY Gabriela McBride

Gabriela McBride, American Girl's 2017 Girl of the Year doll

My Gabriela McBride, American Girl’s first African American Girl of the Year (GOTY) doll, arrived in February.  She remained in her shipping box until March 10, 2017.  This is a first-look review of Gabriela with the doll still attached to box lining. 

Like all other 18-inch American Girl dolls, Gabriela is 18 inches tall with vinyl head, arms, legs, and cloth body. She has brown sleep eyes and uses the same head sculpt as Sonali, Cécile Ray, and Melody.   This head sculpt was also used for the 2016-retired Just Like You #46.

Gabriela’s signature outfit includes a teal tank top over which is worn a long-sleeve purple crop top with “dream” written in silver metallic letters.  Blue jeggings and purple and teal sneakers complete her dancer's attire.  

I was pleased her undies are removable and not the new permanent ones newer AG dolls wear.  Her pink double headband and extra clear rubber bands are inside a plastic bag, which is attached to the box lining.  Gabriela’s 208-page book, Gabriela, written by Teresa E. Harris, is attached to the lower section of the box lining. 

New American Girl Doll Box
American Girl has changed the boxes to add a full-view, front cellophane panel.  This gives owners the ability to see the doll without removing from the box.  A turquoise card stock circle on the mid left front corner of the box reads: 


This verbiage is also on both side panels of the box in white lettering.

As illustrated in the first photo in this post, in the lower right front corner of the box is an image of the front cover of Gabriela’s book.

The back of the box shows a full-length image of Gabriela.  Text in English and French to the right of the doll’s image reads:

I’m a dancer, an artist,
and a poet out to
inspire real change.

Danseuse, artiste et
poete, je suis
une source
d'inspiration qui fait
bouger les choses.

The box indicates (again in English and French):
The 18” Gabriela doll is available throughout 2017 and beyond.*   

In English to the left, and French to the right, the mid-bottom section of the box in English reads:
She has glossy brown curls that can be styled, brown eyes that can open and close, a cloth body, and a movable head and limbs made of smooth vinyl.  Includes a paperback book.

I am tempted to remove Gabriela from the box to style her hair, but for now she will only be allowed to dream of being removed.

*(Extending sales beyond one full year for a GOTY doll is a first for this collection as all others have been released on January 1st and retired by December 31st of that same year.)

Gabriela's Story
Each American Girl GOTY doll is a modern girl who has a mission.  Gabriela is a dancer, who writes poetry.  She uses spoken word to overcome her issue with stuttering.  Her goal is also to help save the local community center from demolition.

Gabriela and book retail for $115.  During February, American Girl offered 25% off purchases of $75 or more, which is when I made the purchase.

Of note, American Girl has partnered with Scholastic to create the custom curriculum, Express Yourself, which teaches 3rd through 5th grade students to use poetry as a tool of self-expression.

Prnewswire American GOTY article
American Girl Wiki

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  1. She's very pretty and I like that she's a poet and active in her community. Her mold is also one I find very appealing.
    Thank you for sharing your pictures.:-)

    1. Thanks, Maricha. I am happy about the purchase.


  2. I'm so happy you added her to your collection. I've considered adding her, but I wouldn't want to debox her either and I don't think I have the space to just have her sitting around in a box. We will see. Has it ever been mentioned that her name and gymnastics was fashioned from Gabby Douglas? That was the first thing I thought of when I saw her. I'm sure not knowing how the first AA DOTY would sell is what prompted selling her beyond. I think it was a smart marketing move.

    1. I understand your space dilemma, Vanessa, which is why Gabriela, Cécile Rey (AG's first historical doll of African descent that was not a slave), and Melody Ellison (their first modern historical AA girl from the Civil Right era) all remain in their boxes, stored in my son's former bedroom closet. I have no space in the doll room for large, still in the box dolls. I have promised myself I won't fill that closet up with boxed dolls either, but I had to have these three.

      Not knowing how well the first AA GOTY doll would sell is probably the reason AG decided to offer her beyond a year. The fact that she did not have the luxury, or collectors did not have the luxury of a new head sculpt for her, and they have been quite vocal about this to AG, probably adds to AG's uncertainty about sells. Accessory-wise, Gabriela was not introduced with very many extras either. More items are supposed to be added throughout the year. I think reluctant buyers (like me) will probably still want to add her to their collections but will wait for sale opportunities to do so.

      While she is not a gymnast, I think the doll was inspired by Gabby Douglas.


  3. Could she need to be available for longer than other DOTY because her release was paired with academic activities?
    She had to be released in the middle of a school year so there would only be 6 months of activities where she would be available for kids and parents who were first made aware of her. Then, when the 2017-2018 school year started, she would only be available for the first 4 months of that and be discontinued just as lots of parents and kids got interested in buying her.

    What a PR nightmare it would be if children still involved in poetry contests etc until June 2018 couldn't get a doll because she was retired in December 2017 like other GOTY. I can just picture crying little girls and irate parents airing their grievances against Mattel on the news.
    I just saw an episode of Blackish where Bow was protesting an AG-like company for their lack of diversity in black dolls (only one runaway slave and one sassy activist) and having even that paltry offering being only available for a short time would have literally added fuel to her fire. AG may be looking to avoid having life imitate art.

    1. Valid points, Maricha, but I believe it all boils down to their uncertainty about sales. All AG GOTY have had missions or causes they have championed and I don't believe school or other activities have ever been taken into consideration regarding the dolls' selling period.

      I enjoyed that episode of black-ish where Bow protested the themes of the two black AG-like dolls the store offered in comparison to multitude of other dolls in the line with positive themes. It was a little over the top (with the fire and all), but I am glad the show put a face and voice to this decades-long disparity in doll world.


  4. I see. I do wonder why they retire dolls in the first place. I would have assumed it was easier to produce a certain number and sell the doll until they ran out like they do with Silkstones or Blythes.
    What can Mattel do with those that don't sell by their retirement date? Take them apart and send them to the dump? Give them to charity?It seems like a weird constraint to put on yourself.

    1. They usually send out a notice in advance on the retirement date, which I am sure (as it did with me) entice those who have been on the fence about the retiring doll to purchase it. If there are any remaining dolls, I believe they do rename, redesign (rewigg, change eye color, create new fashions and themes) and sell them as a different doll (which is what many believe was done to create Gabriela after the JLY #46 doll was retired).


  5. Hi Debbie, it is so good to come back to my blogging reading list and to find out about your Gabriela doll.

    1. It's so good to have you back to blog reading, Arlette.


  6. Beautiful doll! I must be out of the dolly loop. I had never seen/heard of her. I have no space for another big doll, but this one is very tempting.

    1. There really hasn't been much fanfare about American Girl's first AA doll of the year, which is unfortunate. I really don't have the room for larger dolls either, but she was a must have because of the position she holds as the first.



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