I know you’re wondering whether or not you should splurge or save when it comes to buying an 18-inch doll for your child.
Hopefully I can help you make the decision.
In my household, we have both brands of doll. There are so many new manufacturers that have come on the scene in the last few years. Journey girl dolls are an option but the best two options are definitely the popular brand American Girl or the Our Generation brand, sold in Target stores.
Are American Girl dolls still popular?
American Girls are still popular because despite all of the newer brands that have started to manufacture 18-inch dolls, American Girl still remains the standard in quality. They are also very popular because many of today’s moms had American Girl dolls when they were children.
American Girl Vs Our Generation
Let’s compare the selection that you will find with both brands.
American Girl has four different categories of dolls:
- Truly Me ($220)
- The Truly Me series has 6 skin tone options, as well as a plethora of hair cut, hairstyle, eye and hair color options.
- Girl Of The Year
- Historical Characters
- According to American Girl, “Each of [their] characters brings the past to life with inspirational, girl‑sized stories.
- World By Us
- This series was developed by experts in social justice, racial identity and the environment. The goal of this series is to “open up a new world, while also opening hearts and minds.”‘
Our Generation also has four different categories of dolls:
- Deluxe- deluxe dolls come with a book and extra accessories
The selection of American Girl dolls is much more inclusive, varied and extensive. For some girls, having the chance to design a doll to look just like them is a BIG DEAL.
Winner of this category: American Girl
American Girl is widely known for the quality of their dolls, clothing and accessories.
The doll’s hair is made of high-quality fibers that don’t tangle as easily as typical doll hair.
However, I do not believe that the quality of American Girl is what it used to be. There are a lot of negative recent reviews, and the company is no longer owned by the founder of the company. American Girl is now owned by Mattell (and has been since 1998).
The quality of Our Generation is comparable, but the quality of the doll’s hair is not nearly as good.
Both have a comparable body size (with slight differences that shouldn’t matter) and posable limbs (American Girl dolls might have slightly better mobility).
However, think of every other doll that your child owns. Barbie, LOL, etc. That hair is terrible too, and your child doesn’t really care. Am I right?
Winner of this category: American Girl (just barely)
The American Girl doll store is a shopping experience for kids unlike any other. Of course a shopping trip to Target is always fun (for moms, too!), but Our Generation’s one aisle in the toy section of Target simply can’t compete with the experience you get at the American Girl store.
You can of course shop for the perfect American Girl doll and/or accessories at the store. You can also:
- visit the salon where your doll can get her hair done (your child could get her hair done to match, too).
- take your doll to the doctor
- make reservations at the cafe where your child and your child’s doll will both get a seat
There are many other experiences such as having a birthday party at the AG Store attending one of the store’s special activities, such as “Date With Dad” or “Wellie Wisher Mermaid Painting and Lunch”.
However, all of these experiences cost a pretty penny.
Winner in this category: American Girl
From clothing to shoes, camping RVs and cozy cabins, there are SO many options when it comes to accessories for your 18-inch doll.
This is the place where I say, if you can, go with Our Generation. Let’s compare:
- American Girl’s Seaside Diner is $350 and Our Generation’s Retro Diner is $110.
- The American Girl RC Sports Car is $225 and the Our Generation Retro Cruiser is $70.
- The American Girl Kitchen is $275 and the Our Generation Sweet Kitchen is $65.
You’re starting to see the pattern, right? Every single American Girl product is more than three times the price of Our Generation accessories!
In my home, we do have one American Girl accessory, a telescope set that is no longer sold. The quality of it is good, but if Our Generation had a version of it, I would have bought it and saved money.
In some cases, I think American Girl accessories are worth it (especially if there isn’t an equivalent). Also, according to the American Girl website, clothing design is coming soon. Which is pretty cool.
However, I still can’t justify paying three times the amount for what is essentially a TOY for kids (who are destructive typically).
Winner of this category: Our Generation
- Many of the American Girl dolls come with their own history and story. Many of them come with a book series that your child can read or that you can read to your child.
- Some even have movies to accompany the doll.
- This 100% increases the “playability” of the doll. My daughters love to roll play certain scenes from books and movies. It makes the American Girl dolls a little more real.
- Some of the Our Generation dolls come with books also. However, these books are far inferior to the American Girl books. We have books from both manufacturers and the American Girl books are favorites while the Our Generation books are usually overlooked.
Winner of this category: American Girl
American Girl definitely makes it a goal to teach about women’s history through some (not all) of their dolls.
For example, the story of Melody Ellison is about a 9-year old girl who grew up in Detroit in the 1960’s. She speaks up about inequality.
Your child can learn about history through the purchase of an American Girl doll, but only by purchasing certain dolls.
Our Generation dolls do not have an educational component.
I talked about the price of accessories above, but let’s have a look at the price of the actual dolls.
My children (ages 10 and 7) have an American Girl doll and a few Our Generation dolls. They call all of them “American Girl dolls” and would not be able to tell you which one is the expensive American Girl doll and which one is the knock-off version.
- A doll from the Girl of the Year, Historical Characters or the World By Us line costs $115.
- A doll from the Create Your Own line has a purchase price of $220.
- Regular dolls are $30.
- Deluxe dolls are $35.
Again, the American Girl brand is over three times more expensive than the Our Generation brand.
Both brands are great dolls!
So, let’s recap…
Are American Girl Dolls Worth It?
Here are my thoughts:
- I think it depends. If good quality is extremely important to you, than go with American Girl. Just realize that the quality might not be as high as you are expecting since American Girl is now owned by Mattel.
- If you would like to buy SOMETHING from the American Girl doll brand (but not go crazy), buy a doll. I would purchase accessories through Our Generation. We have so many accessories from them, and the quality is really pretty great! (The ice cream truck and school are seriously amazing). Then, if the doll gets played with a lot, you could make your next doll purchase an OG doll. (I bet your child will love them equally).
- If your child or young girls don’t know the difference between the two brands, or if your child’s Barbie’s look like they’ve seen better days, then going with Our Generation is FINE. There is no one who is going to say that because you bought the cheaper version, that you are somehow are terrible parent. I would say you are smart! Imagine would you could do with all that extra money.
I hope I’ve helped you make a decision! I would love to hear what you decided in the comments below!