American Girl debuts 80s historical doll with a scrunchie and leggings


I am, unapologetically, the Weird Doll Bitch on this site. As some of you know, I live under the thumb of my haunted doll overlord, Jessica-Gwendolyn, who, by the way, dropped a binder clip on my shoulder the other day after I’d tried a new scent of incense. I am so devoted to Barbies I use my three best ones, my Bob Mackie Celebration Barbie, my Venetian Carnivale Barbie and my Audrey Hepburn Barbie as the guardians to my altar to Hecate in my office. And let’s not even discuss the Roughneck in my garage full of perfectly nice dolls I defiled to fulfill my Haunted Dollhouse theme last Halloween. But I missed the boat on American Girl dolls, simply because I aged out of their demographic before they hit the scene (much to my mother’s checkbook’s delight). American Girl dolls, for those who don’t know, are a collection of expensive dolls who represent different periods in American history. They each have a (supposedly) historically accurate outfit and an accompanying book that tells how women and girls contributed to the American landscape during that time. It’s not a bad concept. But the American Girl factories/mega-stores with their super high-priced restaurants that have seating for your doll speak more to American priorities than any scrubbed-up history the books tell, I fear.

Yesterday, Mattel released its first new doll in three years. Ladies, push down your leg warmers and tease you hair, because American Girl has just rolled out Courtney Moore – the ‘80s doll! Courtney is a Care Bear-loving, side ponytail-sporting, arcade rat who is not afraid of neon.

American Girl has added an ’80s gamer chic to its beloved collection of historical dolls, designed to teach young people how girls and women helped shape our country by bridging the past and present.

On Tuesday, the iconic brand (a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel since 1998) introduced the world to Courtney Moore, a doll with big hair and even bigger ideas, marking the first addition to its historical collection in three years.

Courtney comes wearing a crop top, a high-waisted acid-wash jean skirt, hot pink leggings, white faux leather slouchy boots and the ultimate ’80s accessory — a scrunchie. In true American Girl fashion — the company is famous for launching dolls with fully-realized personalities and lifestyles — consumers can dress Courtney in any number of looks, as she has a 13-piece mix-and-match wardrobe with plenty of accessories.

Much like the historical characters who came before her — including Kit Kittredge, who represents the Great Depression era; Samantha Parkington, who represents the early 20th Century; and Addy Walker, who represents the Civil War era — Courtney’s corresponding book, entitled Changes the Game, encompasses some of the most defining moments of the decade.

According to an American Girl press release, Courtney will experience the cultural shift surrounding blending families and new technology, a rise in female politicians, space exploration, the popularity of music television and video games and more.
“The ‘80s are back, and we’re thrilled to celebrate this pop culture-defining decade with girls and their parents through Courtney,” Jamie Cygielman, General Manager of American Girl, said in the press release. “For nearly 35 years, American Girl’s historical characters have helped to bridge the past and present, while providing inspiring role models through immersive storytelling and imaginative play.”

She continued: “Likewise, Courtney’s story illustrates how to create positive change by standing up to fear, finding strength in every challenge, and developing empathy for others—qualities that are timeless and more important than ever.”

[From People]

Okay, let’s do this. First of all, her look – Courtney is definitely repping the 80s with her scrunched boots and plastic stacked bracelets. The hair is big, which is essential. And then there’s the acid wash denim. It’s important to address these dark periods of our history and let’s face it, our willingness to wear acid wash is one of the bleakest. I wasn’t allowed to wear crop tops, nor were my friends, so I have no idea how prevalent they were outside of Jazzercize classes, but the color scheme is right. In other shots, Court is sporting a lip balm on a cord necklace and listening to a Walkman. Her accessories include a bunk bed and a boom box, so Courtney is clearly a rich kid whose former hippie parents bought some Xerox stock and ended up voting for Reagan – whatevs. Apparently, Courtney also has her own Molly American Girl doll, which is a really cute addition, I think.

As for her story (going off photo assumption), Courtney hangs out at the local arcade, playing Pac Man and then swings by the mall to shop with friends. That’s sweet, but if Courtney were really a preteen in the 80s she’d be a latchkey kid who’s used to making her own TV dinner and wonders why all their mirrors have a light dusting of white powder.

American Girl is partnering with Girls Who Code on this launch and will match up to $50K in donations to various organizations supported by GWC. They are also offering four $5,000 scholarships to GWC members, all of which is admirable. Or, as Courtney would say – dude, that’s totally rad!


Photo credit: American Girl Instagram and Twitter

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38 Responses to “American Girl debuts 80s historical doll with a scrunchie and leggings”

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  1. manda says:

    OMG! American Girl dolls first appeared when I was in like the 5th grade, so my mom would not get me one. I coveted Samantha. I have bought all my girlfriends’ daughters (alas, I am childless) AG dolls or the baby dolls. They are expensive but I also think that the prices are similar to what they were when they first came out. I’m guessing the quality was much higher when it first came out, before they were sold to mattell (or hasbro? something like that).

    As a child of the 80s, I must say that Courtney’s bracelets would have likely been jelly rather than bangle, and she would have likely had a plastic charm necklace on. Despite that, I think I love her? She needs some madonna cosplay! Or cindy lauper! It would have been awesome if they could have made her, like, an esprit or bennetton sweatshirt. Or given her a bottle of bennetton colors! A super preppy 80s look would have been fun too.

    • Jessi says:

      I worked my pre-teen heart out to earn the $52 dollars to get my Samantha doll (my mom said if I wanted her, I had to pay half, which was a very good economics lesson now that I think about it.) I still have her and she is PRISTINE.

      We took my friend’s daughter to the American Girl Store & Cafe a few years ago for Christmas and it honestly wasn’t crazy-expensive – I think it was $25 for an adult meal and $14 for a kid (including drinks and and a little dessert). All three of us (my friend, her daughter and I) really liked it!

      I think the clothing quality has gone down a bit (the modern fabrics look much cheaper and shinier than the stuff from the 80s/90s) but it’s nice to be able to give a kid a doll that isn’t focused on body type and might encourage some questions about history.

      Apparently I have a lot more to say about American Girl than I expected!

  2. McMom says:

    My daughter and niece were into American Girl dolls when they were little, so I have been to the store AND eaten at the restaurant.

    The historical dolls were actually pretty good. Each came with her own book series written by YA authors. It was a decent way to introduce younger kids to history. They had a “just like me” series where your child could create a doll to “match” them. I basically boycotted them when I realized they eliminated the Asian prototype (but my daughter was already starting to outgrow them at that point). I’m not sure if they have added an Asian model back to their line.

    • Charlie says:

      The original dolls were created by an history teacher who didn’t like that she couldn’t find many stories of american girls in american history texts. So the attention to detail (in stories and accessories) was pretty high. Also, the original dolls were made in Germany so quality was as good as it gets. I think, not sure, that Josefina was the last Pleasant Co. doll before Mattel bought them out.

      The mini-mes, modern characters and stores were all post buy-out, and as a teacher and mom it killed me when they started phasing out the historical dolls. Mattel’s dolls are more heavily ‘painted’ and it can be tough to squeeze some of the oldest dolls into slightly smaller ‘new clothes’. Sigh. I’ve got my daughter’s dolls stashed in the attic.

  3. Flamingo says:

    I loved my American Girl dolls! I had quite a collection as a kid. My Mom still has them all nicely stored in her basement in hopes that one day she will have a granddaughter. I got one out of the box a few years ago and it is still in perfect condition. I don’t know how they’re made now, but the dolls made in the 80s and 90s were really good quality.

    • Aang says:

      My kids had Kaya, Felicity, Kirsten,Addy, Samantha, and Kit. Plus all Books, clothes and other stuff. I’m keeping it in case they have kids. We loved the books and we rewatched some of the movies in the spring. The Felicity movie is our favorite.

  4. Jekelly says:

    I grew up LOVING American girl dolls! My toddler has a bitty baby, but I’m thinking she may need Courtney so I can play with her!

  5. Escondista says:

    Awww I had a Molly doll. I loved her because my grandma was around the same age as her during WW2 and she would read the stories and then have her own or she would go get some memory photo or toy from her childhood collection to show me. My daughter is almost 4 and is now so shocked that I didn’t have a tablet and that the TV had few channels and shut off after the news at night when I was little. They need a life in the 80s series!

  6. Pixelated says:

    They just need to bring back the OG’s…Molly, Felicity, Kirsten….where did those dolls go? I just checked the website and they only have them as minis :(
    I don’t mind the new ones but as a 30 yr old with a baby girl, I’d love to show her the dolls that I loved as a kid. Their books were really great, too, and addressed some difficult topics in the history of the US.

    • Miranda says:

      The books really stuck with me. I haven’t read them in about 20 years, but I vividly remember in Addy’s introductory book, the plantation overseer punished her by forcing her to eat some sort of tobacco worm. Creeped me the hell out, but definitely did a good job of explaining the horrors of slavery to young kids.

      • Faye G says:

        I remember that part too! It was so shocking to my 8-year-old self, in fact I think I learned much more about slavery from those books than I did in all of my school years.

    • Becks1 says:

      To be nitpicky, Felicity wasn’t an OG. They introduced her after the first three.

      • Jenn says:

        @Becks1 Yeah, Felicity wasn’t one of the “core three”… but her books were written by Valerie Tripp, who also wrote Molly’s, so Felicity had that same vivacity and spunk!!

        I still read Molly’s Christmas story every Christmas and WEEP.

  7. Miranda says:

    I was a spoiled brat who had multiple AG dolls (Kaya, Felicity, Josefina, Addy, Samantha, Kit, Molly, and a “Girl of Today”), and several of the dresses. I really wish I could add to my collection. It’s helped me bond with my fiance’s 8-year-old daughter. He teased me for getting so into it when I took her to the American Girl store/restaurant, I actually brought one of my dolls along, too!

    As a side note…Addy was my first doll, I got her for Christmas when I was 6, and when I brought her to school, a couple of girls made fun of me. They were like, “why would you want a black doll?” (I’m white and Hispanic.) Um, because Addy was badass! I don’t see prissy little Samantha escaping slavery!

    • Faye G says:

      I’m also white/Latino and had the same reasoning for getting Addy! She was the only one who even faintly resembled me and my black curly hair. And the other characters didn’t seem as strong as her, her story was so dramatic and really stuck with me even after childhood.

  8. Becks1 says:

    I was the prime age for the OG American girl dolls – just Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly, none of this “just like me” nonsense lol. Then Felicity came out and then Addy came out juuuuuust as I aged out. I only had Kirsten and Samantha, I was so jealous of people who had three lol. And the OG dolls were really well done – expensive, but quality accessories and clothes, meant to be heirloom kind of things. (maybe not quite that high quality, but definitely not meant to just be something you played with for a month.) The stories were interesting and taught you a lot about history (I still remember the scene with Addy eating the bugs, ugh. Or the scene in Samantha Learns in a Lesson when Nellie talks to her about working in a factory.)

    I feel like after they sold to Mattel the quality of the items and the quality of the stories decreased. They seemed less special to me, but maybe that’s just because I was too old for them at that point.

  9. souperkay says:

    I don’t remember if it was the books that drug me into American Girl dolls or if it was the fortuitous arrival of the mail catalog unannounced, but I was obsessed with them. I read every book through the school library, I kept every catalog that arrived but I was never gifted one. I loved Molly but I secretly coveted Samantha. I really didn’t just want the dolls, I poured over their accessories. I wanted their beds and dressers and knickknacks. My daughter has never liked dolls of any kind so I didn’t get to have any American Girl doll store experiences with her.

  10. Michelle says:

    My daughter has a bunch of the AG dolls and she LOVED playing with them. She is 20 now, so they are all packed up waiting to hopefully be played with again when/if a grandchild rolls around. I may have to get the 80′s AG doll for myself!! As far as Barbie goes, my mom has bought my daughter the Holiday Barbie for her every year since she has been born so we have 20 of them sitting in the top of her closet unopened. Maybe they will be worth some money someday.

  11. JennyJenny says:

    Hecate, I love that you have Barbies! They’ve always been my go to dolls.
    I have so many of my original ones from childhood and unique outfits my Mom would make for them.

  12. Ariel says:

    Small thing. I didn’t own a scrunchie until 1990. I recall overpaying for gorgeous ones in the early 90s. But I don’t recall them being part of the 80s.

  13. Case says:

    Can’t wait for Quarantine Katie in 30 years. She wears sweats and a mask while making TikToks!

  14. Smalltown Girl says:

    My daughter is just getting into these kind of dolls and I have been eyeing an American Girl doll for her (I love dolls and coveted American Girl dolls, but they were impossible to get in Canada when I was young) and Courtney is a definite possibility because I was an 80s child.

    • Wolfie says:

      I’m Canadian and have bought my daughter an American Girl doll, having never grown up with them. Now I recommend the doll to all parents. My daughter and her friends have spent hours dressing and playing with the doll for the last couple of years. So it has been an excellent investment.

      A small tip for other Canadians, use your Air Canada points to get an Indigo gift card and you can use your points to get the doll.

  15. Hildog says:

    What?!? My first child/daughter is due in December. I was going through my old American Girl Dolls the other saying, prepping them for her arrival. This will definitely be her first American Girl Doll!

  16. Sass says:

    She’s also getting a Molly doll because the franchise itself started in 1986. It’s dollception up in here!

  17. Grant says:

    As a little gay boy growing up in the 90′s, I wanted one of these SO BADLY! My next door neighbor had, like, all of them and I was super jealous. I remember reading some of the books and finding them oddly compelling but I probably in second or third grade so who knows how they hold up now.

  18. Noodle says:

    Both my girls were AG doll lovers. They each had a “Just Like Me” doll, and one of the historical dolls. What’s funny is that my Caucasian children both chose very dark skinned dolls for their “Just Like Me” options, which was awesome. We went to the store at The Grove in LA for one of their birthdays (per their request), and it continues to be a sweet memory. When my puppy got ahold of my younger daughters doll, we sent the disembodied head to the AG “Hospital”, and she came back in a hospital gown, bracelet, and a “Get Well Soon” card from the doll hospital folks. I live that some of their newer accessories are things like hearing aids, cochlear implants, wheelchairs, and other accessibility options for children who want differently abled dolls.

  19. Karen says:

    I highly recommend the American Girls Podcast. The two hosts, Allison and Mary, are historians and are going through the books one by one. There’s also a lot of American Girl doll IG accounts that are fun to follow.

  20. lucy2 says:

    Her bang are way too flat!

  21. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    It’s VSCO Courtney!

  22. Sara says:

    That doll is exactly how I would picture Stacey from the Babysitters Club books in doll form.

  23. Geeena says:

    Wtf is this sentence trying to say, especially the binder clip part?:

    As some of you know, I live under the thumb of my haunted doll overlord, Jessica-Gwendolyn, who, by the way, dropped a binder clip on my shoulder the other day after I’d tried a new scent of incense.

    Why is there so much fluff in an already fluffy story? The writing on this site is degrading day by day

  24. Faye G says:

    I had Addy, and I remember the books and clothes were really high-quality. She’s still hanging around in my basement somewhere. I’m glad they have added more diverse dolls to the collection since the 90s but it would be nice to see more.

  25. Wit of the Staircase says:

    Oh man, didn’t realize it at the time but I was an American Girl cliche. I had the SAME high-waisted, acid-washed denim jeans and I cringe every time I see myself in old photos wearing them. For some reason I thought it was super chic to pair them with ugly white Reebok high tops that closed with Velcro strips but I just looked utterly ridiculous! I also wore neon, had a bright yellow Walkman and put my curly hair up in scrunchies. Yeah, American Girl, you got my number.

  26. Melissa says:

    Hahaha! “A latchkey kid who is used to making her own TV dinners.” Wow! That was totally me! 😂 My mom bought so many of those Banquet dinners.