Thursday, December 27, 2007

American Girl Dolls


My granddaughter received an American Girl doll for our Winter Solstice Present Day celebration (OK, what ya’ll call Christmas). I was a little worried when it arrived because a quick online check showed that American Girl dolls, by Mattel, are not made in the US but are manufactured in China.

And while an article by CBS 11 of Dallas/Fort Worth News, dtd Dec 10, 2007 admits that American Girl dolls are manufactured in China it says that CBS had an American Girl doll (and accessories) tested for lead. They state that “experts say the doll and its toys are perfectly safe.”

I don’t know what “experts” CBS used as they do not say in the article but according to HealthyToys.org, American Girls dolls are not completely safe. They rated as MEDIUM on the safety scale. While it is true the dolls are lead-free, the one American Girl doll they tested came up positive for the chemical Chlorine.

About Chlorine, HealthyToys states the following:
“Detection of chlorine in a toy component indicates the likely use of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or vinyl, a widely used type of plastic that is of concern to the environment and public health during all phases of its life cycle.”

I won’t bore you with all the details about chlorine, PVC and vinyl but I will provide a few highlights. For example, vinyl contains phthalates [pronounced thal-ates] which are a group of industrial chemicals that add flexibility and resilience to many consumer products. Phthalates have been associated with disturbed hormonal processes, birth defects of the genitals, altered levels of reproductive hormones in male babies, an increased risk of breast cancer and asthma, among many other things. In short, PVC is NOT something you want kids playing with if you can help it.

And while the plastic and vinyl industry claim that phthalates and vinyl are “perfectly safe” (Jeeze, where have I heard that one before?)--others, lots of others, disagree. You can check out some additional scary details about vinyl on the EPA website. Eeesh!

So, yes, American Girl dolls probably don’t have high levels of lead but they are made out of vinyl which more than likely contains unhealthy and perhaps dangerous levels of phthalates.

And lastly, American Girls are not made in America, anymore.

Luckily, the doll my granddaughter received was an original version of the Kristin doll which was manufactured by the Pleasant Company in Middleton, Wisconsin in 1991. (Mattel bought out the Pleasant Company in 1998.)

My granddaughter’s other grandmother bought the doll for her on eBay. It came with clothes and accessories whose tags state they were made in Germany. So, at least the clothes are definitely safe.

I’m not really feeling too secure about the whole vinyl issue with this version of the doll but at least I’m not worrying about lead. I am hoping that perhaps the vinyl is stable now or has at least, off-gassed most of the toxins. Who knows? *sigh*

Anyway, if you’re looking for a safe American made doll check out the Stuffington Bear Factory. While they don’t have plastic dolls, they do have lots of very cute stuffed animals and outfits to dress them in. I purchased a green bunny and a couple of outfits. The little handmade clothes are so adorable and the bunny is well made. And most important of all, they are completely safe, made in the USA and my granddaughter loves them.


Stuffington Bear Factory is located in Arizona. It’s web site says they have been in business since 1959.

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the link about the USA teddy bear company. Vermont Teddy bears are also 100% USA. They are made by Vermonters.

Anonymous said...

does a american girl doll say american girl on the tag

Wendy Hlebinsky said...

The Kirsten doll you bought is probably safe. American Girl dolls manufactured under the Pleasant Company (prior to the 1998 aquisition) were manufactured by Gotz Doll Company. The dolls were manufactured in West Germany and later Hungary. There was also a Gotz plant in NY in the late 80's, 90's. Gotz currently prides itself on making phthalate free vinyl dolls. Not sure if they were free of the substance back in the late 80's though, but my guess is that the doll is safe.

Anonymous said...

My granddaughter just got an American Girl doll and lots of clothes for her for Christmas. The family started talking about things made in the USA and we checked the doll and the clothes - all made in China. If it is using the worked American, America, USA etc. - They should have to be made here. I find this use of words extremely misleading and from now on, I will check it out before buying so called American.

Amanda said...

Why are AMERICAN GIRL DOLLS made anywhere but AMERICA?!

Anonymous said...

To the grandmother concered about PVC. Check your plumbing. Most newer homes are plumbed with PVC. If it were that unhealthy, its use would be banned.

We won't allow our granddaughter to have an American Girls doll for many reasons, but mainly because it is not made In the United States.

Anonymous said...

Oh Bother. If anon- stated PVC in homes, why not go with Contraceptive's? Nobody cares what's in it...but if ppl DID do the reading to side effects from these products ..The US would be different.
But again, most don't care and the ones that do. Change their environments.

It's a sad thing they aren't made in the USA though! I mean honestly...who's buying them? We (US) are...

I think I'll go with Gotz even though they're a tad more expensive, they ARE safer! If anyone cares, they do still produce their dolls from Germany, but they also have been sourcing out to China. Just Check I guess.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I would like to say on another note however, that Christmas is not anything other than Christmas. It means celebrating Christ's birth.

Anonymous said...

Most pre-mattel dolls were made in Germany. while the vinyl chemicals are concerning I don't know why where the dolls are made is such a big deal, I would of course prefer that they were made in America but not very much is today so why the dolls are news to everyone I don't know. The only sad thing is that the only concern seems to be that the dolls aren't "American" not that these dolls along with the majority of products we enjoy are produced outside of the US where laws can't protect the workers who provide us with so many things for our ridiculously lavish lifestyle (the majority of Americans no matter how poor they may feel are blessed beyond compare with material wealth.)

Olivia Rollins said...

LOL - it's hilarious (and a bit disturbing) that people assume a vintage toy made in Europe or the USA is somehow "safer" than one made in China today. No one was making "phthalate-free" toys in the 80s and 90s. The "dangers" of phthalates hadn't been reported yet. If you're concerned about phthalates in vinyl, it's "safer" to buy a newly-made doll made in China than to buy an older one no matter where it was made.