First boy doll, Logan, joins American Girl line

Expert: Company trying to cash in on new trend

A Middleton-headquartered toymaker introduced its first boy character on its social media Tuesday.

American Girl introduced multiple new characters in a Facebook livestream Tuesday morning, including Tenney Grant and Logan Everett, two dolls in the contemporary collection who will have accompanying books and other media.

Company spokeswoman Julie Parks said in a statement that company research indicated that customers wanted a boy character, and it’s been “a top request from our fans for decades.”

Logan joins the American Girl lines as part of doll Tenney’s story, the company said. Tenney’s doll character is a Nashville singer-songwriter and Logan is her bandmate and drummer. Logan has short brown hair, gray eyes and his own drum set.

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Chistine Whelan, who teaches consumer science in the university’s School of Human Ecology, said the change is part of a trend toward making toys more gender-neutral, which she said is welcome news.

“More and more parents are open to having their sons and daughters play with dolls,” Whelan said. “It is high time that we change those gender norms that boys don’t play with dolls. They do.”

Whelan said American Girl is likely trying to cash in on this new attitude.

“I know that American Girl hopes that it’s going to mean an increase in sales,” she said. “They’ve been struggling recently and Mattel is now overseeing American Girl. I know they’re very much hoping this will be a new era for dolls and for parents wanting kids to play with dolls.”

Whelan said she expects that changing times will mean less pushback toward a doll aimed at both boys and girls than there might have been in the past.

“I feel like there are going to be many fewer naysayers about this than there would have been 10 to 15 years ago,” she said. “That’s a wonderful thing.”

American Girl said the 18-inch dolls will be available starting Thursday. Along with the dolls come a variety of different content forms that tell the characters’ stories: books, live-action specials, online videos, web series and apps.

Also introduced Tuesday were other new characters: Felicity Merriman, Gabriela McBride, Z Yang and Nanea Mitchell.

The company said that more than 29 million American Girl dolls have been sold since 1986.