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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 are not given unique time periods and 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 showed a different aspect of the same time period due to differences in their backgrounds and/or situations. In marketing they were fully tied together with their companions and are not considered a separate collection of their own, and thus initially were subjected to the same archiving when their companions were. When Samantha Parkington's collection was archived, Nellie O'Malley and her collection were as well. This was also true for Felicity Merriman and Elizabeth Cole; Chrissa Maxwell, Sonali Matthews and Gwen Thompson; and Molly McIntire and Emily Bennett.

In 2014 American Girl announced that the remaining best friends available for purchase, Ivy Ling and Ruthie Smithens, would be be retired along with Cecile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner, effectively ending the Best Friends line.[1] One of the many official responses from American Girl was that they are seeking to return the focus of the Historical collections on the main characters themselves.

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 and currently only Girl of the Year to have companion characters with Sonali Matthews and Gwen Thompson.

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 and came with a copy of Friends. They are simply marketed as Chrissa's friends. This could be due to the fact that Chrissa has two companions and both feature with equal prominence in her books. During Chrissa's availability, she could be purchased with either Sonali or Gwen in small collections of two, but the two dolls could not be bundled together without Chrissa.

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.

Emily

Emily is not really considered Molly's best or even closest friend. She originally appeared in only one of Molly's books, Happy Birthday, Molly!, as a temporary house guest seeking refuge from wartime London and was only expected to stay with Molly for a few weeks.[2] She is thus marketed by American Girl as "Molly's English Friend." It was 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. 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 to reflect the doll's looks. Her hair was lengthened from a bob to shoulder-length and her clothes were changed to reflect actual items released.

Marie-Grace and Cécile

Marie-Grace Gardner and Cécile Rey were marketed as each other's best friend but neither can be considered part of the Best Friend Character line, since they are given equal prominence in their historical time period and share their Central Series books.

Unreleased Best Friends

Other Historical Characters were never given official Best Friend characters; with all but Rebecca and Caroline, the characters have a best friend of color. Some fans perceived that this may have been a reason these characters were not released, along with the decline of the line.

Magnetic Mini Worlds, as well as Paper Doll sets and Play Scenes and Paper Dolls paired each girl with a "Best Friend":

Josefina does not technically have a prominent best friend; Clara is her older sister and Mariana was only mentioned in one book.[5]. Both were shown in Josefina's Paper Dolls II and Clara was part of the Magnetic Mini World.

Much like Emily was marketed as "Molly's English Friend", the Magnetic Mini Worlds list Speaking Rain as "Kaya's Sister" and Clara as "Josefina's Sister." Ana is Rebecca's cousin and has significant presence in the series, as does Lydia in Caroline's.

References and Footnotes

  1. Announcement from American Girl's Facebook page
  2. 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."
  3. Based on Rebecca's Play Scenes and Paper Dolls and Rebecca's Fashion Design Portfolio.
  4. Based on Caroline's Play Scenes and Paper Dolls.
  5. While Emily was initially only in one book in Molly's Central Series, she was given further prominence in her mysteries.

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