News Briefs: Just an American Girl

Published November 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 10

The Mattel toy company has caused a media-stir with the release earlier this year of a homeless doll. The American Girl Store released Gwen Thompson, the newest in its long line of expensive dolls—each one retails for around $95. Part of the popularity of the brand lies in the intricate back-story that accompanies each doll.

Gwen’s back-story? After her father walked out on them, Gwen and her mother fell on hard times and the two ended up living in a car. While some customers have complained on the American Girl website that Gwen doesn’t come with very many accessories, some additions, such as the violin that Gwen enjoys playing in the book that introduced her, can be purchased separately at the American Girls store. You can also purchase a sleeping bag for Gwen for $26, or just cover her with newspaper. Prospective buyers should also be aware that Gwen can easily borrow the old outfits of American Girl Dolls they already own.

The Manitou Messenger of St. Olaf College listed a full Winter Gwen ensemble concept: Patchy Socks: $16, Oversized Coat: $40, Knit Cap: $24, Hand-me-Down Boots: $30

Gwen Thompson is not the first doll to be marketed as “homeless.” In 1965, Hasbro introduced Little Miss No Name, who came with her own burlap sack dress and a removable plastic teardrop. Little Miss No Name was quickly discontinued.

-- Sarah Harvey