Paige is a writer, doll collector, and American Girl enthusiast.
What Is the American Girl 35th Anniversary Colllection?
In 2021, American Girl celebrated its 35th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, the company made the first six American Girl dolls (Samantha, Molly, Kirsten, Felicity, Addy, and Josefina) available to purchase in their original “Meet Outfits” for a limited time. This was exciting for American Girl fans because half of these dolls and their “Classic” Meet Outfits were in retirement.
Doll collectors had the opportunity to buy new Molly, Kirsten, and Felicity dolls for the first time in years. Felicity was originally retired in 2011, brought back in 2017, and retired again in 2019. Similarly, Molly was retired in 2014 but then rereleased from 2018–2019. Out of all the historical dolls, Kirsten had been retired the longest (starting in 2010). This was the first time she had been available for purchase in over a decade.
Each doll came with its original accessories and Meet book (the first book in the 6 part book series written for each doll) in the original book design. The box the anniversary dolls came in was also closely reminiscent of the original box design. Additionally, each doll in this collection was $150.
Pricing and Availability
Each doll in the collection was $150. For comparison, the dolls in the collection that were not in retirement (Samantha, Addy, and Josefina) were available for purchase for $110. This $110 price included a book, though accessories had to be purchased for an additional $24 fee.
The $150 price of the anniversary dolls included a paperback copy of each doll’s original Meet book as well as the doll’s original accessories. Unlike the current versions of the Historical Character dolls, the anniversary dolls could not be purchased without accessories for a lower price.
Samantha Parkington‘s story takes place in 1904 and explores life in American during the Edwardian area. Her books explore topics such as industrialization, class differences, and child labor. She is one of the three original 1986 American Girl dolls.
Her 35th-anniversary bundle consists of a checked taffeta dress and matching hair bow, white cotton bloomers, black tights, and Mary Jane shoes, a burgundy hat, a pink velvet purse, a white embroidered handkerchief, a gold brooch with a heart-shaped pendant, a reproduction of a coin from her time, a Meet Samantha book in its original design, and, of course, an original Samantha doll.
Molly McIntire is also one of the original 1986 American Girl dolls. Her story takes place in 1944 and gives children an insight into what life was like for Americans during World War II.
Including the Molly doll, Molly’s 35th Anniversary Collection includes a blue, red, and green argyle sweater, a navy-blue knee-length skirt, a dicky with a white Peter Pan collar meant to be worn underneath the sweater, white bloomers and ankle socks, red hairbows, round-frame metal glasses and a red felt glasses case, a navy beret, a red purse, an embroidered handkerchief, a silver heart necklace, a reproduction steel penny, and a Meet Molly paperback book in its original design.
The story of Kirsten Larson, the last of the original 1986 dolls, is set in 1854. A Swedish immigrant herself, Kirsten’s books explore European immigration during the pioneer era.
Kirsten’s Anniversary Collection includes a Kirsten doll, a blue calico dress with red flowers, a red striped apron with a pocket for her handkerchief, white pantalettes, knit socks, brown faux-leather boots, two blue hairbows (meant to be tied around her famous looped braids), a red and white checked bonnet, an embroidered spoon bag, a wooden spoon, a heart necklace, and a Meet Kirsten book in its original design.
I have recently acquired an Anniversary Kirsten doll myself and have provided a more in-depth review of her 35th Anniversary Collection at the end of this article.
Felicity Merriman, the fourth historical American Girl doll, was originally released in 1991. Her story is set in 1774 and explores the pre-Revolutionary War period. Unfortunately, she is currently in retirement and, due to her high demand, Felicity’s Anniversary Collection has already sold out.
Along with a Felicity doll, Felicity’s 35th Anniversary Collection consisted of a rose print gown with ruffle trim, a white cap, an ivory satin hair ribbon, a white cotton shift to be worn under her gown, ivory stockings, woven ribbon garters, black shoes, a lace, white cotton handkerchief, a beaded necklace, reproduction colonial money, and a Meet Felicity book in its original design.
The beauty and quality of the Felicity doll are evidenced by how quickly her Anniversary Collection sold out. Fans of Felicity (myself included) currently have no way of purchasing a new Felicity doll, so we just have to hope that her collection will be made available in some capacity in the future. Though, as always, it is possible to buy Felicity secondhand on websites like eBay.
Addy’s Anniversary Collection
Addy Walker is the fifth American Girl doll. Her 1993 release was especially significant as she is the first of the Historical Character dolls to be a person of color. Set in 1864, Addy’s story explores the time of the American Civil War and teaches children about the lives of enslaved people during this period.
Along with the Addy doll, Addy’s 35th Anniversary Collection included a pink button-up dress with white stripes, a pair of white drawers, a straw bonnet with a blue ribbon, an additional blue hair ribbon, black knee-high stockings and boots, a large kerchief which is used to hold her belongings, a water gourd, a shell necklace, a reproduction of a coin from her time period, and the Meet Addy book in its original design. Addy has pierced ears and comes wearing gold hoop earrings.
Like Felicity, Addy’s Anniversary Collection has already sold out. Fortunately, since Addy is not in retirement, it is still possible to buy her new, just with a different outfit, book, and accessories.
Josefina’s Anniversary Collection
Josefina Montoya was released in 1997 and is the first and only Hispanic Historical American Girl doll. Set in 1824, her story is unique as it takes place in New Mexico before the Mexican-American War, while this area was still under Mexican rule. The books are also a great way to introduce English-speaking readers to a second language. Josefina’s family speaks Spanish fluently, so many Spanish words and phrases are integrated and defined throughout her books.
Josefina’s 35th Anniversary Collection consists of the Josefina doll, a white short-sleeved blouse, a red skirt with black flowers, a brown sash, white cotton drawers, a blue hair ribbon, a yellow primrose to be worn in her hair, a woven shawl, a necklace with a faux garnet stone, a reproduction coin from her time period, and the Meet Josefina book in its original design. Like Addy, Josefina’s ears are pierced, and she comes wearing gold hoop earrings.
It is important to note that of the three dolls in the 35th Anniversary Collection that are not currently retired, Josefina remains the most similar to her original 1997 design. The changes that have been made to her Meet Outfit and accessories are very minor. If you are on a budget or if you just don’t mind these small changes, you may want to look into purchasing the current version of Josefina before you rush to buy the more expensive Anniversary doll.
My Review of the Collection
When I first learned of the launch of the 35th Anniversary Collection, I was extremely excited. Like many adult American Girl fans and collectors, I am nostalgic for the time when the American Girl company put more emphasis on their Historical Character dolls.
The 35th Anniversary Collection definitely met my high expectations. I was thrilled to see that they made the first six dolls available since it is actually only Samantha, Molly, and Kirsten’s 35th Anniversary. I also appreciate the measures that were taken to make the dolls as accurate to their original design as possible. Not only do the Anniversary dolls come in a box reminiscent of earlier American Girl box designs, but the dolls also have neck strings!
Up until 2016, all American Girl dolls’ heads were attached to their bodies with string. The ends of this string poked out of the back of the dolls’ necks and ran down their backs, so it was always hidden underneath the dolls’ clothing. This method of head attachment was convenient because doll owners were able to replace the string themselves if the original string got damaged or if their doll lost her head by some other means.
The company did away with these strings in 2016, replacing them with zip ties. The fact that American Girl brought back the strings just for this limited-edition collection is evidence of the care and attention to detail that went into these Anniversary dolls.
I recently acquired Kirsten’s Anniversary Collection. I was delighted to receive a Kirsten doll since I have wanted one since I was a child. This was the first time Kirsten has been available for purchase since January of 2010 (when I was only 10 years old)! She is an absolutely gorgeous doll. Her outfit and accessories were all high quality and historically accurate. Still, my favorite thing about Kirsten is definitely her iconic hairstyle.
Her loop braids really help her to stand out among the numerous other blonde hair blue-eyed AG dolls. I also noticed that her hair appears to be thicker than the hair of the newer American Girl dolls that I also own. I would definitely recommend her to American Girl enthusiasts of all ages!
That being said, I do believe that the 35th Anniversary Collection could have been even better if the company made at least one other outfit available for separate purchase for each of the dolls. Half of the fun of owning American Girl dolls, at least for me, is collecting outfits and dressing up the dolls.
Buyers of any of the Anniversary dolls will either have to keep the doll in her Meet Outfit or purchase additional outfits for the doll secondhand if they want to keep her in period-accurate clothing. Even the three dolls from the collection that are not currently in retirement do not have any other clothes available except their new Meet Outfits, which cannot be purchased separately from the current version of these dolls.
Hopefully, the popularity and praise the 35th Anniversary Collection received will entice American Girl to put more focus on their Historical Character dolls and to rerelease some of the other retired dolls and outfits in the future.
© 2021 Paige Davanzo