Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Samantha's Starter Collection

Samantha's Starter Collection

Fall 2014 Toys
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: American Girl
Price: $134.00

I first fell in love with Samantha over three decades ago. She was newly featured in a catalog of brand new, historically American-themed dolls; not only did she represent a strong girl from the turn of the century, a period of great transition for women in America, but she was pretty and cute and had every imaginable accessory. I pined for her, and I was far from alone: Samantha remained American Girl's top historical character until her retirement from the line in 2009.

Now American Girl is re-releasing the beloved Samantha as the headliner of their new "Beforever" line, which will feature many of the same historical characters as before. The books have been slightly updated to reflect the new wardrobe, and combined into two volumes instead of the original six, with a third volume to be added that will connect Samantha's story to that of a modern character.

The new Samantha's clothes are less historically accurate than before, with the accessories now featuring a plastic-framed purse (instead of the original metal frame), an anachronistic elastic lace headband replacing the hat, and a locket that no longer actually opens. The rewritten book is practically identical to the first three volumes of the original series, though in its current format it may be less approachable to younger readers than the old books were.

However, the doll is every bit as lovely and as lovable as she has always been. Samantha and her story retain great appeal; any child lucky enough to get to know her will quickly adopt her as a new best friend, a companion in all manner of real-life and imagined adventures.

Emily Crawford   ©2014 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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