Monday, August 6, 2018

A Mighty Girly Boy Doll! #OurGeneration #18inchDolls #ToyDesign #GenderID #IndustryNews #ModDolls

A while back, near the end of April, my doll-clothes-sewing older sister was out shopping and randomly texted a picture to me. I got the text, glanced at the photo and asked, "Is that supposed to be a boy?" to which my sister responded, "Yes." My semi intelligent response was to text, "Hair too poofy." After a bit of back and forth during which I observed that the features were too feminine and the picture looked like a short-haired girl, my sister's parting shot was to chime, "Tyler says you're a hater."

In case you're confused, "Tyler" is an Our Generation (Target's Brand) Boy Doll. A few days before this text exchange occurred, my sister and I had gotten into a discussion about the relatively newly introduced American Girl Boy Doll. At some point during our chat, she'd mentioned that Our Generation had introduced a Boy Doll to its line some time ago. (Apparently, 18" Dolls fans' desire for a Boy Doll was one of the most requested category additions over the years, since the introduction of American Girl.)
"I'm a casual hobbyist, my sister is a rabid fanatic. She keeps up with all the various 18" Doll Brands (and now, the 14" also) much better than I do. I'm still learning and playing catch-up...."
As I had not seen this mythical Boy Doll, I'd asked her what it looked like. So when my sister spotted one on a store shelf the next time she was out shopping, she texted a picture.
"Is that supposed to be a boy?"

"Tyler" is NOT what I expected. The facial mold of the doll is such that the Boy was indistinguishable from a Girl Doll to my eye ---the top heavy curly hairstyle didn't help. There wasn't anything about this doll that screamed, "It's A Boy!" to me. The doll looked like a Girl Doll with an odd, short hair cut.

In humans this is perfectly OK, but if I were going to buy a Boy Doll, an archetype thing, I wouldn't want the toy to merely look like an equivalent Girl Doll upon which the Toymaker had only slapped a short-haired wig and dressed in pants. I expected a more pronounced difference in styling. If all dolls look exactly alike, there's no reason for me to have more than one. At least American Girl (and Barbie before it) had tried to allow for some customization.

Humans come in all flavors. Why should dolls, our toy doppelgangers, all be exact rubber-stamped duplicates? It's lazy design under the guise of cost/benefits analysis ---another of my pet (engineering) peeves. Admittedly, I haven't seen the entire line of Our Generation Dolls. I'm going solely on the few I have seen, so it's possible there's more variation than I'd hereto-forth witnessed, though I doubt it. Note, I realize toys are most often mass-produced based upon standard molds, but IF each doll is supposed to be a different character then there should be more to differentiate the dolls than a haircut and a new name stamped on the box. Just saying.

Also, I recognize that Our Generation is a different "class" of Dolls vs. American Girl, which is still the 18" Dolls standard. Rating an MSRP ~$29.99 Doll next to an MSRP ~$115.00 Doll is, of course, inherently unfair. However, this is a purely aesthetic diatribe. If Our Generation bothered to introduce a Boy Doll, then its designer/s should have also bothered to put a bit more effort into it, than merely deciding to "put a wig on a Girl."

Needless to say, I did not ask my sister to buy "Tyler" on my behalf in order for me to add "him" to my small but growing Doll Collection. If I found one at an extreme sale price, say two dollars, I might get it on a lark. However, I'm aiming for an American Girl Boy Doll because those can be somewhat customized. (And as a Wolverine fan, I much prefer the name Logan to Tyler.)

I may be a hater, but "Tyler" is a design cop-out. So there! LOL!

Here's an aside which shows how peculiar a mind's workings are: Right now, I'm not very knowledgeable of the so-called "off-brands" (lower price-point American Girl competitors, pretenders to the 18" Dolls throne). I often mistakenly call Our Generation Dolls, "My Generation" due to the classic song by The Who, a British Rock band whose raucousness I thoroughly enjoy. Because there is also a competing off-brand line of dolls called My Life As... (Walmart's Brand), this mental error brain fart makes it seem as though I'm conflating these two (junior) Doll Brands, and perhaps I am, with a subconscious wink.

Lordy! Now, I've got The Who stuck on my brain. Let me tell you, listening to a wailing Roger Daltrey is not a bad way to start the morning....

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