Alternatives to the American Girl Doll
If you know where to look there are options to buying an expensive American Girl Doll. There are many 18 inch dolls out on the market that are less expensive than the American Girl Doll but of course they all have pros and cons associated. Here is my round-up of options to consider:
Favorite Friends 18 Inch Doll
This doll is manufactured by one of our favorite doll companies - Madame Alexander. It is our favorite option to the American Girl Doll - which is why we carry it - and it's only $44.99! Each of the Favorite Friends has a different face mold. It seems that there are more Favorite Friend faces in their 10 doll collection than there are in the entire American Girl Doll line. If your daughter gets frustrated with the soft-body and arm joints of the American Girl doll showing through her favorite outfits then she will love the Favorite Friends 18 inch doll breast plate. This vinyl piece extends all the way through the next and shoulder joints. Favorite Friends have what is called an "articulated head" - this means that you can pose the head up and down and tilted instead of just the side to side movement you have with the American Girl doll. The Favorite Friends doll has "rooted" hair instead of wigs. This can sometimes by a problem in a lower cost doll as it causes the doll scalp to be exposed during hair styling. We have found that the Favorite Friend hair is full enough that it covers through every hair-styling option.
Our Generation 18 Inch Doll
This doll is the Target brand 18 inch doll. At under $20 this is definitely the cheapest 18 inch doll on the market. The problem comes with the quality. Many complain that the doll is not very pretty and the features of the doll are unattractive. There are also quality problems with the hair, it tangles and frizzes very easily, the styling is often choppy and uneven and the rotting is sparse. Lots of bald problems with this doll. The Our Generation 18 inch doll is a fabulous choice as a starter doll. If you aren't sure that your daughter can care for a more expensive doll, or if you aren't sure if her interest will last, there is a low risk in purchasing an Our Generation 18 inch doll. You could always upgrade to a more expensive doll if your daughter enjoys this 18 inch doll.
Gotz Precious Day 18 Inch Doll
Although still less expensive than American Girl these dolls are on the pricier side at around $70. Gotz is a world-renowned German Doll Maker that has been making gorgeous collector's dolls since 1950. The quality and craftsmanship is definitely comparable to American Girl Doll. The faces of these 18 inch dolls are beautiful and all very unique. I have received feedback from young girls that the faces are just too young, more like baby doll faces and less like little girl faces. Each doll comes with a gorgeous 18 inch doll outfit which is very high quality. The soft-body does not have a breast plate and does extend all the way to the neck like the American Girl Doll. The main complaint about these dolls is, again, the hair. For this price one would expect a wigged doll but the Precious Day hairs rooted. It also has a reputation for deteriorating very quickly without good care. This should not be a problem for older girls but younger ones may struggle with the upkeep.
Disney Princess 18 inch Doll
The Disney Princess line lends itself perfectly to the creation of an 18 inch doll. These dolls are priced at around $50 and come dressed in their own traditional princess outfit. A major difference for this doll is that it has an all vinyl body. The benefit of all vinyl is that it allows for six points of articulation which means that the doll can be beautifully posed. The drawback to the all vinyl body is that the doll loses much of it's "huggability" and is more difficult to carry around comfortably. The all-vinyl body always for 6 points of articulation which on the plus side makes this doll extremely posable. The Disney 18 inch doll has rooted hair instead of wigged but is said to withstand play very well.
Journey Girl 18 Inch Doll
Toys R Us has recently arrived on the 18 inch doll scene with their offering called Journeys Girls. The Journey Girls are very pretty and like the American Girl Dolls come with a related storyline. At $29.99 they are a great deal. They have very lovely faces and what we have heard so far about the rooted hair is very positive. The head is articulated like the Favorite Friends doll and the doll has the vinyl breast plate as well. It's a great price that I think must come with some sort of negative - perhaps these dolls don't hold up well in play? Only time will tell.
If you have no concerns over quality and just want a doll for fitting or for a very young child you could consider the Springfield Doll. If you don't need the ability to exchange clothes with the American Girl 18 inch doll you might also want to consider the slim-body 18 inch doll. These are the dolls that I would suggest as appropriate substitutions for the purchase of an American Girl Doll.