So for the first two weeks in August, I went to New York to visit family there.
I almost didn’t go. I dragged my feet on purchasing the tickets and right up until the last minute was thinking “Maybe I should just stay home, save the money, maybe take a week or two off and just do nothing and mentally prepare myself for graduate school…” but then I received a video clip of my niece”graduating” from her little gymnastics play group. I watched her be helped across the balance beam, and as soon as she was lifted onto the ground she ran toward the camera, beaming with smiles, clapping her hands and chirping “Yaaaaaaaay!!!!!!”
I sighed, opened southwest.com, and immediately booked my flights.
I realized then that this would probably be my last chance to see them before I completed my master’s–I would be expected to work in the on campus clinic the summer of 2016–in December I won’t have the money and if I wait until after I graduate, my niece will be approaching four years of age. The last time I saw her she was six months old and hadn’t completely mastered crawling. If I didn’t watch out she was going to be entering college herself the next time I turned around.
While I was out and about in Manhattan, I just happened to walk into American Girl Place New York. (Imagine that.)
I had never been to a Place before, and I was honestly a little let down by the experience. HOWEVER, crowds make my hair stand on end AND it’s tourist season, so I am not too surprised–I kind of jumped into a situation that wouldn’t have made me comfortable to begin with, so take that with a grain of salt. The store was a lot smaller than I imagined it would be (I am sure that Fifth Avenue real estate prices are the reason for that).
I had taken my camera to take pictures but it was so packed with young girls whirling through every level of the store (I don’t blame them for being excited) that I honestly could not snap a picture without getting someone’s kid in the frame. I did manage to get a few, but not very many.
I did think, as I moved through the different floors, that if my little niece ever decides she wants an American Girl doll of her very own I am setting up an appointment with a Personal Shopper.
The lines were long for the Hair Salon and design your own clothes booth. The hair salon was the more popular of the two, and I went over to the design your own section to check it out. I eventually decided not to print out my own designed doll clothes, because for the cost I was not impressed with the quality of the clothes or the printing. Hopefully you can see here:
All of the black on this dress–the collar, the belt, and the heart–are printed ink and I did not favor that look at all. Also, the fabric for the dress was a super thin, really stretchy and inexpensive feeling polyester. All in all for me it didn’t justify the cost, BUT I can see how it would be a fun activity for target aged girls to participate in, and if my little niece wanted to do something like that, I wouldn’t mind paying for her to have that enjoyment (because I’m a pushover).
The displays for each of the historical girls was pretty small, however each one had a crowd of little girls in front of it exclaiming over each item. Caroline was still in stock. However, the only, and I mean the ONLY pet in stock was the terrier. Everything else was gone. Lots of Grace items were sold out. I was kind of surprised just how much stuff was listed as out of stock, but maybe it’s just because it’s a tourist hot spot and it’s that time of year…
I picked up New York themed items for my other niece who lives in Michigan (Purple shirt, skirt, and the Coconut New York costume) and marveled over the tiny truffles made to look like Grace’s cupcakes in the tiny canteen next to the tshirt booth. I would have loved to have gotten some of my own, but I had a feeling they wouldn’t last ten seconds before being eaten by a Treacherous Dachshund…
The PWP was Saige’s Picnic Basket for $14. Now I’m really glad I didn’t order it for full price, or when it went on sale, or kept being on the sale section of the website…
And somehow, I have no idea how, Kit’s Radio Set and Rebecca’s accessories managed to jump in my bag. Well, while I was there, I might as well pick up SOMETHING to review once I get home…
The radio is clearly the star in this set. The Robin Hood book will be familiar to anyone who owns Kit’s old Nighttime Necessities; it’s the exact same. The pennant is rather unremarkable; probably to avoid copyright licensing with the Cincinnati Reds.
Plastic case, dial, and knobs–if you look carefully, you will see a long scratch starting at about 9 o’clock on the radio dial and moving off to the left. I was plenty annoyed, but not annoyed enough to go back and return or exchange it while I was still in New York. I’m playing around with the idea of doing some texturing/painting to make it look like real wood. While I am not surprised it’s plastic, I wish it wasn’t quite as noticeable. At least have a little more wood texturing instead of a flat surface.
One dial controls the sound, the other the frequency dial. When you play a prerecorded sound clip on the radio a red light will come on, but if you are plugged in to your music device the dial will not light up.
Here is a video review with the sound clips:
NOTE: I have purposefully tried to keep ads off The Mouse Lair and its videos for now, but YouTube identified the clip of King Porter Stomp I use to demonstrate the radio and since there is a copyright claimant for that snippet, I have noticed that a Google ad will occasionally pop up on the video review for the radio–and not the one I’ve done earlier about the car–and that the radio review is now blocked in one country (Germany). I can see why the copyright claimant can ban this video in Germany but I’m a little surprised that Google ads have started popping up on that video. Nevertheless, the Mouse Lair will remain ad-free for all of the content that remains under my control.
The star of Rebecca’s Bedroom Accessories are clearly her nesting dolls.
The crochet hook is a bright colored silver plastic and it bends a bit to the touch. It also comes with a simple white doily, and a floral printed work bag. The handles are plastic textured to look like wood. MY GOODNESS, how nice it would have been to have that same texturing on the case of the radio! (side eye at AG) The inside of the work bag is lined with the same pattered fabric as the outside.
The dominos are made of an ivory colored plastic with the dots screened on. There are 28 of them. (Well, I have 27. I managed to drop one down an air vent. Oops.) If you want to balance the dominos vertically so that you can make a long line of them to knock over, it may be tricky–some of my dominos didn’t have smooth and even sides so I couldn’t line all of them up, but most of them would.
I’ve seen an incomplete set of Russian nesting dolls IRL and while these are not as ornate as some that I’ve seen, I think they look pretty good. Here they are in order of descending size:
Here is the Omnigrid Square of Scale for everything except the nesting dolls.
When it came to getting the nesting dolls on the Square of Scale, I was in a bit of a pickle. It was a windy day and it didn’t take much encouragement for the dolls to start rolling around on the board. So I had to go to a police lineup style of scale.
The backs of the dolls are flush up against the Square, which I stood up and leaned against a pillar. This is probably not as exact as laying them down flat and photographing them from above, but those darn things just would not stay still–even when I took them inside. They would all be still, and then right when I went to press the shutter one of them would start to roll on its own, purely to vex me.
Are the accessory sets worth the cost? I would feel better if they were $38…or at least a little closer to the $40 price point.
I freely admit that I have a huge blind spot when it comes to the radio since I have a real working one almost like it–so you need to take my bias into opinion as you look at these pictures. The price of the radio set was worth it to me, but old time radio was one of the earliest hobbies I got into. If you would like to look at more music and shows, check out the old swing bands–my favorite is Benny Goodman, which is why I included him in the clip–and shows like Jack Benny (Oh, how I love Phil Harris), Burns & Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Shadow, Our Miss Brooks, Fred Allen. Some of these go on into the 40s and 50s, but I think they could still work. I know my grandmother was using the old cathedral type radios well into the 1960s–as long as the vacuum tubes were still going, it was fine and money was scarce–no extra cash was lying around to buy a new device.
Oddly enough, Benny Goodman’s clarinet was actually on display in the Met while I was there.
So my favorite of the two is clearly the radio set, however I have to say I really love the detail that went into Rebecca’s set. I can see a lot of imaginative play value in Rebecca’s set in particular.
American Girl is currently running a Free Shipping over $50 promotion with code FREE815 or SHIP815. Monday is the last day of the promotion, and it looks like I’ll be ordering Grace’s Bakery at last. (I am not paying $60+ to ship that sucker.) It will probably take me awhile to get some pictures of that up, but I foresee that this bakery will get a lot of use for years to come.