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Best Friend Characters

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The Best Friend Characters are companion characters to the Historical Characters and Girls of the Year. Best Friends do not have their own unique time periods from their companions; they are considered to share the time period and stories of the characters they are paired with. Most Best Friends are prominent characters in the main series of their Best Friend; in the Historical Collections, they show a different aspect of the same time period due to differences in their backgrounds and situations. They are fully tied together with their companions and are not considered a separate collection of their own; when Samantha Parkington's collection was archived, Nellie O'Malley's collection was archived as well, when Felicity Merriman's collection was archived, Elizabeth Cole's collection was archived too, and when Chrissa Maxwell was retired at the end of 2009, Sonali Matthews and Gwen Thompson were retired.

History

The Best Friend line debuted in 2004 with Nellie O'Malley, Samantha's best friend. She was released to coincide with the first American Girl Movie, Samantha: An American Girl Holiday; as she was a main character in both the movie and Samantha's stories, it was fitting that she was chosen.

The original plan was that Nellie was going to be a limited edition doll and retired, but the popularity of the doll prompted American Girl to keep her as a permanent extension of Samantha's collection and expand the line. Except for Ivy Ling (Julie Albright's best friend), each Historical Best Friend was released as a tie-in to the movie of her companion. Best Friends have much smaller collections than Historicals, as they are marketed as being part of (and thus being able to share) the time and collection of their companion.

In 2009, Chrissa Maxwell was the first Girl of the Year to have companion characters, these being Sonali Matthews and Gwen Thompson. It is unknown if future Girls of the Year will have companions.

Some collectors are known to prefer a companion doll over the Historical Character or Girl of the Year and will purchase the Historical Character items and clothing for a Best Friend without getting her companion.

List of Historical Character Best Friends

Book: Nellie's Promise
Book: Very Funny, Elizabeth
Book: Brave Emily
Book: Good Luck, Ivy
Book: Really Truly Ruthie

List of Girls of the Year Companions

Unlike the Historical Best Friends, Gwen and Sonali do not have individual books; they instead came with a copy of Friends. They are also not referred to as best friends but simply Chrissa's friends. This could be due to the fact that Chrissa has two companions and both feature with equal prominence in her books.

Changes to the Historical Best Friend Characters

Elizabeth

In Felicity's original illustrations, Elizabeth had brown hair and eyes. In the made-for-TV movie Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, she was played by Katie Henney, who is blonde with blue eyes. The doll was made to resemble the actress and the original illustrations and texts were edited so that there were no discrepancies between them.

Several collectors, preferring the brunette version they were originally introduced to, have made custom dolls to closely resemble the original illustrations. Julie is a popular choice for custom Elizabeths. Since Julie has the matching Josefina face mold, light skin, and brown eyes, rewigging the doll with a brown wig in a colonial style will most closely resemble the Elizabeth doll with minimal customizing.

Emily

Although the line was originally marketed as "Best Friends", Emily is far from being Molly's best friend. She originally appeared in only one of Molly's books, Happy Birthday, Molly!. She was a temporary house guest seeking refuge from wartime London who was only expected to stay with Molly for a few weeks.[1] She is thus marketed by American Girl as "Molly's English Friend." It can be theorized that because Molly has two best friends (Linda Rinaldi and Susan Shapiro), a different character was chosen so that neither one could be more prominent than the other; it was only years later, after the line had spread to more characters, that Chrissa was released with more than one companion doll. Also, since Emily is from England, her story offers a different perspective from Molly's that neither Linda nor Susan could give (especially since most books feature the three as a group).

The movie Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front gave Emily a greater role and a different backstory than the books; the mystery The Light in the Cellar also gave Emily a much greater role than she had previously had and fit itself within Molly's canon chronology. Her own book, Brave Emily, made the character more stereotypically British and focused on the differences between cultures.

The illustrations of Emily in Happy Birthday, Molly! were also edited. Her hair was lengthened from a bob to shoulder-length and her clothes were changed to reflect the actual items sold for the doll.

Marie-Grace and Cécile

Marie-Grace Gardner and Cécile Rey are marketed as each other's best friend; however, they cannot be considered part of the Best Friend Characters as they are given equal prominence in their historical time period and share their Central Series.

Unreleased Best Friends

Other Historical Characters so far have not been given official Best Friend characters. With all but Rebecca and Caroline, the characters have a best friend of color. Some fans do perceive that this could be the reason that those characters have yet to be released and may not ever be. The release of Ivy Ling may or may not be a "test run" to see if these dolls would be popular or successful; her collection is small, which could be a hindrance.

With the release of the Magnetic Mini Worlds, which pair each girl with their "Best Friend," it has been theorized that the characters would have the following Best Friend companions:

Josefina does not technically have a prominent best friend; Clara is her sister and some have theorized that her friend Mariana may be chosen. Both were shown in Josefina's Paper Dolls II and Clara is marketed in her Magnetic Mini World.

Much like Emily being marketed as "Molly's English Friend", the Magnetic Mini World item list Speaking Rain and Clara as introduced as "Kaya's Sister" and "Josefina's Sister" instead of using the regular Best Friend title. Ana is Rebecca's cousin and Lydia is Caroline's; both have significant presences in the respective series.

References and Footnotes

  1. Happy Birthday, Molly!, pg. 2-3: "No, just until her aunt gets better," said Molly. "But Mom says she'd be with us for a couple of weeks at least, and that means she'll be here for my birthday."
  2. As Kirsten has now been archived, it is unknown if this would ever happen.
  3. The choice of Ana is based on Rebecca's Play Scenes and Paper Dolls and Rebecca's Fashion Design Portfolio.
  4. The choice of Lydia is based on Caroline's Play Scenes and Paper Dolls.

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