Playroom Posts

Nanea Review

So I got Nanea and lots of Nanea stuff for my birthday. I was hesitant because I have Emily and my sister has Molly, and Nanea is the weird new replacement for Molly after all. Emily has real war trauma, Nanea doesn’t even come close. But I really like the Hawaiian stuff. I almost wanted Kanani for the Hawaiian stuff but I much prefer the historicals over the Girls of the Year. Nanea’s World War II experience is similar yet different from Molly. I think they could have tried harder to make her even more different from Molly like not having the threesome best friend squad. Nanea’s friend group calls themselves the 3 kittens, they’re a cuter and sweeter version of Molly, Linda, and Susan. That really irks me. And they should not have given her a teenaged older sister like Molly. Other than that, I love all the cultural Hawaiian stuff, Hula with Grandma, and of course the tragedy at Pearl Harbor. Nanea has less blind patriotism than Molly which is good, but throughout the books she’s striving to help the war effort because she thinks once the war is over her happy island life will go back to being paradise again.

So this is where my Nanea lives. Her nearest neighbor right now is the colonial Elizabeth. I got the bed last year when it was on sale and before they got rid of it. I’m so happy now that I did that.

I found this jewelry box at Savers, I think it’s a perfect dresser for Nanea. She can fit all of her clothes and tiny accessories in it.

I took the stickers from the Market and put them on construction paper and then taped them to the wall. Nothing like some World War II propaganda says home sweet home.

Nanea is such a pretty doll! I love her face mold, I love her hair, and her eyes. Her body itself is well made and quality. However, I’ve already had to sew the buttons back on her shorts because they came off. Brand new buttons should not be falling off.

I love the details in her accessories, I love the stuff that they decided to include in this set, but I hate how the necklace looks so fake and plastic. This necklace was a special present from Nanea’s grandpa who gathers special shells on a special island at sunset for each of his children and grandchildren. It should not look like plastic! I also wish the handle on the bag was a little bit longer so she could put it over her shoulder. Just a centimeter more and it would’ve been great.

Nanea is half white. Her real name is Alice, but her grandmother calls all her grandchildren by their Hawaiian middle names whether they like it or not. Nanea is one of American Girl’s most diverse dolls, and she’s 50% white. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, being mixed race is cool and wonderful, but I dislike how they can market her as 100% Hawaiian and therefore the most exotic and diverse doll ever when really that’s not the whole truth.

I love this dress. It is so pretty and looks great on her. However, I hate the strings on the shoes. I’m glad they included the hair clip and the Pearl Harbor Pin, those two objects played important roles in the story. The hair clip was a Christmas present from her brother David who goes off to war. The Pearl Harbor Pin was a present from her Dad who works the night shift at Pearl Harbor. Nanea isn’t that impacted by the tragedy. Her friends have more hardships than she does. I think they could have done better in emphasizing what really happened at Pearl Harbor, it’s disappointing how little information we learn about it through Nanea.

I regret getting the lunch box. It’s a hunk of plastic. But all my other dolls have their lunch boxes, it was on sale and I don’t want to hunt it down on ebay someday.

I love this outfit, but I wish the skirt were a little bit longer because sometimes you can see her boxer shorts underneath. Yes, Nanea gets white boxer shorts as underwear. I love what they decided to include in the birthday set because it all plays an important part in her books. The red barrettes were a present from Donna who was kicked off the island for being non-essential. (I feel like Nanea’s experience of World War II is like my experience of coronavirus, annoyed by new rules but not really impacted by any major tragedy.)

The dog skirt was a present from Hawaiian grandma, part of me really wants to buy her dog but another part of me is why get another overpriced stuffed animal? The camera was a present from her white midwestern farming grandparents. The black and white pictures that go with it are way too small to be proportional. (I read somewhere that during the war people in Hawaii were not allowed to take pictures of the beach in case it fell into enemy hands. So why does Nanea have pictures of her friends at the beach in this set?)

The purse is disappointing, the clasp is plastic not metal. I expected it to be metal like Samantha’s original meet purse but it’s too much to expect quality from American Girl these days.

I love this dress. Well worth it. I like that they made the hula implements for her, but I wish it came with a pamphlet explaining and describing how each one is used. Josefina’s rebozo came with a pamphlet describing how and why it was used, why couldn’t this set too? I also wish that they could have made it so she could actually hold the ukulele, it irks me that she cannot.

I got her bathing suit on ebay for $12. No goggles or towel, but if it’s a difference of $50 I can live without the goggles however cool they may be. They shouldn’t have stopped selling her bathing suit, the girl lives in Hawaii for crying out loud! I also wish they still sold her fishing set, important to the story, and her pajamas which are essential. WHY?

The only reason I got the family market was because it was on sale. I wouldn’t pay full price for this. It’s a complete and utter disappointing hunk of plastic. It’s so important to the story, it’s her grandparents market and she wants more than anything to work in it with them but she can’t because she’s the baby of the family. Then Pearl Harbor happens and the rest of her family is so busy helping win the war that she finally gets her wish of helping grandma in the market. Not exactly what or how she wanted it, but she does love working there. So the market is very important to the story and I’m glad they decided to make it, but quality is really lacking.

Part of me really wants the shave ice shop too, but I already have Kanani’s so it seems like a waste but Nanea’s is way cooler than Kanani’s shaved ice and I know I’ll regret it if I don’t get it while they still sell it.

The leis are a little stiff. Why not make it a couple centimeters longer so it can lay flat? Ignore Caroline in the background, she’s just chilling on her bed over there.

I don’t know how to feel about the Luau dress. Normally I hate this color combination, but it’s kinda cute? My sister absolutely hates this dress but I’m indifferent verging on liking it sometimes. The material is weird too, just feels cheap.

The Luau set is very important to Hawaiian culture and the story because they have a Luau for her brother before he goes off to war and it’s hard for the whole family. I’m glad they made it, good idea, but execution is severely lacking. The table itself is good wood, and the mat is cool. But the food is an abomination. It’s total ugly plastic. It’s Barbie food. Nanea and her poor brother who probably dies in World War II deserve better.

Again, I got it because it was on sale. Don’t waste money on this one.

And this is how Nanea’s area fits into the rest of the Playroom. Living below the homemade Seaside Diner, next to colonial Elizabeth, and next to the Addy, Kirsten, Josefina high-rise apartments. Kit’s homemade Treehouse is on the other side of the diner.

I love Nanea and her story. I think American Girl did a good job choosing important things from the story to make for her, but quality is very poor. Nanea deserves better than hunks of ugly cheap plastic and clothes made out of weird material. I love Nanea, and I want her collection to be great but it’s really disappointing. I’m used to the old Pleasant Company stuff or even the early 2000s like 2007 was my childhood. This newer stuff has the makings to be something great but they just don’t quite make it there.

Seaside Diner

I made Maryellen’s seaside diner. (with a little help from dad and the blog American Girl Ideas a.k.a. Totally Rudy on Youtube.

The tv is a butter container with toothpicks.
the booths are American Girl boxes covered in batting and vinyl held together with a lot of hot glue.
the tables are cardboard covered in paper and duct tape on a wooden dowel. I hate them, they broke already, I’ve got to figure out something better.
the floors and walls are wood that my dad screwed together after he cut the window and attached the counter. I painted it, painting tiles is soooo hard! I’m especially proud of how the sign turned out.
Totally Rudy used popsicle holders for the bar stools. Well, such a thing does not exist anymore. So my mom the nurse stole some breast pumps from work, I glued them together, add some paint, batting and vinyl, and you’d never know.
Emily the waitress. Good thing we just happened to have this car hop outfit laying around. Seriously, it’s never had a purpose until now.
Can you tell that I want Maryellen or more importantly Maryellen’s jukebox next? What 50s stop motions can I do in this diner?

Fourth of July

Felicity and Ben’s favorite holiday, Elizabeth doesn’t care for it as much but they force her to dress up anyway.
Caroline and Nanea lived through war so their patriotism is really strong too. Courtney is just along for the ride.
Kelsey is just crazy
Josefina isn’t as crazy about America as the people around her, but at least she showed up to the party unlike Kaya who refused to leave the Tepee with good reason.
Samantha and Eddie just enjoying a sweet summer holiday with their kids.
Parker grilling up some grub
Big Dolly broke her hat and Mario with the mustache is wearing a shirt as pants.
just some weirdos being weird
Emily and Smith celebrating their first wedding anniversary. They now regret getting married on fourth of July because it means crazy family get togethers like this.

Kirsten’s Vacation

I took Kirsten camping with me. Maine is such a beautiful place. Rangeley is one of my favorite places on earth.

When speed boats go by, they create waves that soak these rocks. Thankfully I pulled Kirsten out just in time.
not the greatest view of this roadside pull off, but there were too many people around and I feeling self conscious panicked and just wanting a picture of Kirsten got this shot.
very scary. If she had fallen she would have been gone forever. I don’t recommend, but it was so pretty I just had to. Thankfully Kirsten is fine. You can’t see it from this picture but this is very steep up, lots of people cling to the rail on these fences to make it up to the top to see the falls because you’re slipping on massive rocks as you go up. This isn’t even the top, that was too risky for Kirsten.
I was so afraid of dropping her in the water. But all is well. Not even the pole got wet. Only my butt did as I crouched in the water to take this photo. Sigh. The things we do for good doll photos, am I right? The lighting on these rocks drove me nuts, it was really hard to get a photo where I could see both the mountains and Kirsten’s face.
we only went to Piazza Rock, but Kirsten likes to boast that she did the whole Appalachian Trail.
This is way more impressive with a full sized human standing where Kirsten is.
we were supposed to be able to see the lake from this trail but alas nothing but trees.
our usual campsite is right on the lake, a little path through the forest, these rocks, and then the water. perfect for pictures of anyone. I love to watch sunset over these mountains. I’ve been coming to this same spot every summer for the last 8 years. Nothing changes about these sights even though I, and Kirsten, have changed a lot.

Kirsten’s Cabin

In honor of Kirsten’s birthday, I thought I would post some pictures of her newly decorated shelf.

I drew some wallpaper and put in a wood floor.

I want to crawl in there and sit by the fire with her!

Here is the before picture.

I also paint sprayed the brown boots that came with the Irish set to be her classic red boots.

Happy Birthday my sweet pioneer! Now I need to work on making her a flower crown. . . .

Josefina’s Rancho

I did some redecorating on Josefina’s shelf so it would look and feel more like home to her.

I painted the southwest.

I wove some blankets on my trusty cardboard loom.

And I even got my Dad to make this cute little nightstand.

We measured Felicity’s nightstand and then adjusted accordingly.

Isn’t she pretty?

Happy Birthday Samantha!

Her husband Eddie Ryland got up early and made her waffles, he’s definitely not putting any salt in the ice cream today. Nellie has agreed to watch baby Lydia for a couple of days so that they can go on a weekend getaway just the two of them.

Welcome Courtney

My mom gave me Courtney as a graduation present. I guess graduating isn’t too horrible if it’s an excuse to get a new doll.

Mom also gave me her bed. I was worried about the quality, but it’s actually good quality in my mind. I feared it would be flimsy, it’s rock solid. Yes, it looks like pink unicorns threw up all over it, but I kinda wanna lay down and take a nap in there.

When Courtney first came out, I was all prepared to hate her because she’s white, from the 80s, and I’m a pleasant company purist. However, I read her books and fell in love with her character.

Would she have been more powerful if she wasn’t white? Yes. But she does show you how to be an advocate for other people while your own heart is hurting. She shows you that all families have their struggles. She shows you how to take a creative risk and make something that matters. I learned more about aids and HIV than I ever knew before. She’s sort of like me in that she’s always daydreaming and off in her own head. Video games and ugly 80s clothes are not my style, but what I appreciate about these dolls is that they let you embrace an alter ego that you normally wouldn’t.

I despise Maryellen. But Courtney is not Maryellen in either looks or personality or stereotypical story lines.

Her hair is a beast. I wouldn’t give this doll to a small child. Heck, I shouldn’t even have this doll because I am going to destroy her hair. It reminds me of Cecile’s. There are differences, of course, like Cecile’s hair is textured and her curls are tighter, but the maintenance or lack thereof seems like it will be similar to me. Of course it’s not nearly as lush and pretty as all the pictures make it out to be. But I didn’t want Courtney for looks, I wanted her for her personality.

“You’re a real person??!!” says Courtney. “Nooo,” says Molly. “You’re a doll.”

I love how Courtney has a Molly doll and how they worked that into the story. I’m just a sucker for breaking the fourth wall. If you could meet any AG character in real life who would it be?

Here are all the little things it came with. The pile on the right is just some random 80s like stuff I had laying around and thought she needed. I love the mini books and everything really except the potted plant which looks ridiculously fake. Her diary seems every forced and staged, a child would not write like that, but I have to give them credit for actually writing many entries in the diary. I wish they had put the numbers and addresses of her friends in the phone book. They wrote in the diary, why not the address book? I might make up some addresses for Sarah and Kip and her Dad.

I told myself I wasn’t going to put the posters/stickers up but of course I couldn’t resist. I wish there was a way to put up the different months of the calendar but I don’t want to destroy it with tape.

In the books, Courtney sleeps on the top bunk but in my little world she gets the bottom and her groovy new roommate is Julie. Until Julie gets her own bed. They’ll be good friends, they certainly have a lot in common. I wish they had made her story less like Julie’s, they are both blond, they both have divorced parents, they both have pet rodents, and do save the environment campaigns, and they live in the same state. Come on you can be more original than that!

I prefer Courtney and my sister prefers Julie. Guess it works out for us?

(her underwear is a shiny blue nylon in case anyone is wondering)

Now there are only 4 dolls left until we own all of the historical ones. Between my sister and me together the goal is to have them all. I’m planning on Nanea and Melody while my sister wants Maryellen and Ivy. I’m excited to see how Courtney compares in looks to Maryellen. I’m even more excited for an imaginary trip to Hawaii and Motown Music.

So, here’s my Courtney’s backstory. It’s the year 1995 and 18 year old Courtney Moore is headed off to college at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Cambridge. She gets on the wrong train (actually the time travel train) and ends up in the year 2021 where she gets adopted into the Playroom family of American Girl time travelers. She finally meets her hero Molly as well as some others like Samantha, Kirsten, and Felicity and maybe still gets to go to MIT someday.