Sunday, July 29, 2018

An #AmericanGirl #Outlet Store? Whoa! #SavvyShopper #18inchDolls #Mattel #News

Happened across a tweet from the official American Girl Twitter account that said, "Hey Hershey, Pennsylvania... American Girl Outlet will be opening at Tanger Outlets, Hershey this August." (My bold.)

Whoa! I love American Girl from my youth when the brand got its start, but thought it was too dear a price, which is why I never owned a doll as a child. (Couldn't afford a ~$100 doll back then.) Nowadays, I simply think it's a nuts amount for a "doll" even though the actual price hasn't inflated that much. I tend to only shop the sales at American Girl and mainly online at that.

But an outlet store would get my business, providing it was close enough to visit without too much hassle and actually had good deals. I'm not driving to Hershey, PA in a few days merely to check. (August is nearly upon us.) But I perhaps this means that other outlet stores will be opened --- and one could be within my shopping area. We do have Tanger Outlets within an hour's case American Girl is looking at an ongoing partnership with this particular management company for future expansion.

UPDATE: Sent a reply tweet to inquire whether other Outlet stores were planned and received the reply, "At this time, this will be our only outlet store..."

Still, it's an interesting development, because I also saw a news headline yesterday that stated Mattel (the American Girl parent company) was due to layoff 2000 odd employees. Granted, I didn't click-through to read the full article and, of course, Mattel owns quite a few brands nowadays, so who knows which ones are considered underperforming, but if your parent company is starting "massive" layoffs and your brand is opening its first outlet store, it's curious.

I hope this is not a death knell for the American Girl brand. I haven't always agreed with what Mattel has done with American Girl since the company bought out the original owner/creator, but I sorta assumed the brand would continue to exist...

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

#Repost @CastleModern #MiniMe: An #18inchDolls #DollhouseDecorators Staging Showcase #Hobbies

I've collected miniatures since I was a young child. Tiny (working) versions of actual objects have always fascinated me. I never played with these items as "toys," preferring instead to setup elaborate still life stagings of the dreamscapes in my mind. As a child who viewed much of the world around her as nonsensical and alien, collecting and later crafting my own miniatures allowed me to fashion my own world, one that was natural to me. Dolls were always secondary to the miniature landscapes, buildings, vehicles and furnishings. (Seems I was a budding home & garden enthusiast even then.)

The recent Spring Break visit of my little niece, who is absolutely gaga over all things American Girl, expanded my miniature horizons into the 18" scale. (I was rather strictly a 1" scale collector prior to our various toy bonding sessions, which included a trip to the American Girl store in a nearby town.) During our far-reaching chats, I was peppered with questions. I was asked why I had all this "little furniture" when none of it fit American Girl dolls --- as if no other toys could dare exist --- and then she inquired whether I could make "bigger" things for American Girl dolls. I'd never considered it, but then thought, why not? And so, virtually overnight I became a budding collector of 18" scale miniatures.
Toy Horse on display at the American Girl Store
As a creative side (or sub-) project to The Castle Keep blog, I'm now also developing ModDoll (as in model) Fun!, which is also all about "making a dream home" --- except in 18" scale, a sort of Castle Modern mini me, if you will. (As is often done in Architecture, in Design and in Fashion, I plan to demo some of the things I'm working on in real life at Castle Modern in miniature at ModDoll Fun!, thus, it will serve a practical purpose. However, I also plan to use ModDoll Fun! to stage whatever ideas strike my fancy.)

Overall ModDoll Fun! will showcase the latest in dollhouse decorating, employing a combination of things that I personally design & make, along with things that I buy (or otherwise acquire), exactly as in real life. It should be fun!

NOTE: I've registered Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts to get things going (and protect my extended brand), using a variant of "ModDollFun" on each platform.

This is an (edited) post from 26-Apr-17, that first appeared on The Castle Keep. As it is an explanation of what I hope ModDoll Fun! will become, I thought it appropriate to repost it here on the actual blog.

#Repost #AmericanGirl Store Event: #Alpharetta #Shopping Trip #Babysitting #18inchDolls

My sister, our niece and I spent most of the afternoon (from about 1:30p - 6:30p) roaming around Alpharetta and then made stops in Brookhaven and Buckhead. We did go to the American Girl Store at Northpoint Mall. It was cute (and unsurprisingly crowded). My niece wanted everything, of course. Meanwhile, I could only laugh at the prices they charge for mass produced plastic doll furniture.

I remember when American Girl was introduced some 31 odd years ago by the Pleasant Company and while I thought it was very expensive even then as a kid, at least the furniture was (mostly) made of real wood. The original items showed craftsmanship and attention to detail. They were things worthy of "childhood desires." The majority of the "modern" items that I saw just looked cheap and cheesy, in my opinion. A sign of the (Mattel) times, I guess. But little girls --- and some adult collectors --- are still enthralled and snap up any brand introduction. (Whereas I would only buy the stuff on extreme sale or via free deals.)

I don't like to go shopping in the real world. I will go, if I can score deals only available in-store or if it's a special occasion trip like this (going to the American Girl Store for the first time). If we were only planning to go to the one place, it would have been fine, but my sister is (oddly to me) a Brick & Mortar shopoholic. She can literally spend ALL DAY out. I agreed to go, partially because her birthday is coming up next week, and spending the afternoon together would amount to "family bonding time." Urgh! Still, I knew that I would be bored out of my mind within moments as she and our niece, who also seems to like real world shopping, happily went about. Thus, I'd planned to take advantage of a few deals during our trip in order to make the afternoon more worth my while.

Not a bad afternoon, in spite of my crazy family.

NOTE: This in an (edited) post from 03-Apr-2017, that first appeared on The Castle Keep. I am reposting it here, because this trip was part of the inspiration for my starting ModDoll Home (blog).

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Scored An #AmericanGirl Holiday Pajamas Set #Free. Thanks eBay, again! #App #Coupon Promotion #18inchDolls

My eBay purchase the other day triggered a "Thank you for coming back to eBay" email that included an offer to give me a Free $5.00 coupon, if I downloaded an installed the eBay app --- which I did.

I used this new coupon to get some authentic American Girl® clothes (used, but in very good condition) which were part of a Holiday Pajamas Set that included some adorable little slippers, a hat, a sweater and a Christmas Tree topper ornament. The vendor stated that she'd lost the pajama bottoms at some point, but the rest of the set was intact. The price being asked was $5.00 USD and this included free shipping. Needless to say, I used my coupon and picked up this nicely done American Girl® Holiday Pajamas Set for free. FTW!

It's scheduled to arrive on Friday. Not a bad haul. Thanks again, eBay!
Copyright eBay / Vendor Image
Auction Win: American Girl® Holiday Pajamas Set

Friday, July 20, 2018

American Girl Store - Atlanta: GOTY Luciana Vega Event II #18inchDolls

Handout FrontHandout Back
STEM Handout from American Girl Event

Yesterday, my sister and I took our niece to the second "Girl of the Year: Luciana Vega" Event at the American Girl Store - Atlanta. (We also took her to the first event back in April(?) of this year.) At the event girls could score an outer space themed T-Shirt for their American Girl Dolls, along with some science handouts which detailed things like phases of the moon. And there were also some science related craft stations throughout the store where girls could make things like little (paper cutout) Space Shuttles. Adults (18+) could also enter to win a Luciana Vega Doll, ostensibly on behalf of a child. But overall, this event was basically a repeat of the first event with a few add-ons. Still it was a fun afternoon.

American Girl RC Car Product Card
We also got to see a few of the newly released products in person which we'd already seen either in the latest catalog or on We all liked the new RC Sports Car which can hold two dolls. My niece tried to drive it off the pedestal, but of course it was "locked in place" to prevent this.

NOTE: While I understand that these events are currently aimed at children, American Girl should consider having adult-only events also, as the brand probably has as many adult collectors as children, so it seems nearsighted to ignore the adult market segment. (Many brands, like LEGO, recognize adult fans to their benefit.) I lusted after an American Girl Doll as a child but couldn't afford one back then. I started paying attention to the brand again, when my niece became interested in it. But I noted, sadly, that American Girl largely ignores its adult fans. Considering the market is shrinking it seems nuts not to expand "marketing" to include adult doll collectors. Just my two cents. In addition to being able to enter the contest to win a doll, adults could also get an "Event Code" which garners 10 points in the American Girl Rewards program. (Points convert to $ rewards certificates at tiered amounts.) In other words, American Girl recognizes that adults are generally making the purchases, but pretends adults are not also buying things for themselves, instead of merely for children they know.
American Girl Store Event Code (Used)

Anyway, my sister and I have both become adult collectors to some extent. She loves to sew and so mainly focuses on making and designing clothes and such. I'm an engineer who loves architecture (who also built and collected miniatures as a child), so I mainly look at the accessories and furniture to plan out miniature scenes (model staging). It's a fun way to both connect with our niece and revisit childhood passions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

eBay: #18inchDolls iPad Mini (Toy)

Toy iPad (eBay Vendor Image)
Toy iPad (eBay Vendor Image).
Yesterday, I scored a totally free 18" Doll Scale Toy iPad Mini via an eBay promotional coupon. This will be great to add realism to my room staging projects. What geeky household doesn't have mobile devices?