American Girl’s latest addition to their historical line is innovative

In late February 2023, American Girl released their newest additions to the “historical characters” line, Isabel and Nicki Hoffman from 1999. 

The dolls themselves appear older than dolls released in the past. They’ve both been given thicker eyebrows, painted-on lashes and Nicki seems to be wearing lip gloss, straying from the natural look past dolls have been given. They look almost like teenagers, though their story takes place as they transition from the age of nine to 10. This new look follows with the trend American Girl has seemed to be following the past five years or so, as they introduce trendier outfits and dyed hair. In this case, I think the customizations work very well for the girls. Giving them these new features helps differentiate their look from the many other dolls, helping to keep the historical doll line from becoming too repetitive.

These dolls are also signs of innovation from American Girl, as this is the first set of twin dolls the company has ever released. They went all out with this theme, creating opposite aesthetics for both girls. This also gave them the opportunity to explore two different 90’s styles, instead of trying to group everything into one cohesive style. 

Overall, the dolls themselves are a great addition to the historical line, offering a unique look that differentiates their time period. Their designs feel fresh while still representing American Girl. The only problem with the characters themselves is the name “Isabel”, as American Girl previously released Girl of the Year 2014, Isabelle, who happens to also have straight, blonde hair and similar green eyes.

Their collection, however, is lacking similar effort. Both of their “meet” outfits are very cute and well thought-out regarding their personalities and offer a good amount of pieces for the price. Neither of their pajama sets live up to this standard; both look much more unfinished and generic, almost as if they could be part of the modern Truly Me line. Similar to the pajamas, their bed sets lack a finished appearance and look as though they were produced by a cheaper 18 inch doll company, like Target’s Our Generation, but for twice the price. And although it is more difficult to design outfits exclusively for the 1990’s, the company’s proven they are capable of such a task with the doll’s “meet” outfits. Their activity outfits show more effort, though Isabel’s tennis outfit comes as a one-piece, meaning a person has to pay 40 dollars for a skirt and top that can’t be mixed and matched with other pieces. The star of the collection aside from the dolls is definitely Nicki’s bedroom accessories. The set is truly 90’s, even including tiny replicas of real American Girl products sold in the 90’s. The design is much more thought-out and memorable than the other pieces.

Though I’m not wowed by the new collection, I am pleased with the newest historical additions as characters and dolls. Their collection gets ⅘ stars. Perhaps American Girl will release new items in their collection to bring their quality up to par with the Isabel and Nicki dolls. They deserve better.