Eye swapping is a modification where a customizer removes the original sleep eyes of a doll and places new eyes into the sockets.
Reasons for Eye Swapping
For the most part, eye-swapping is done for custom design. Collectors may want unique eye color and face mold combinations that have not been done by or are no longer available by American Girl. For example, as of right now only My AG #26 has a unique brown-amber shade, only Caroline has aquamarine eyes, and Ruthie was the last doll available with grey eyes.
If a doll has silver eye and is sent into the AG Hospital, it is possible that the entire head will be swapped out for another head; this can disturb a collector who has a Pre-Mattel doll. Even if the head is not swapped, the eyes will no longer have the soft matching lashes and come back with plastic black lashes.
If eyes are rusted or damaged, an eyeswap can replace the affected eye without having to swap the entire head through the hospital.
The size of the American Girl eyes are uniquely sized; other sizes appear too large or small in the head and may not function properly. The only way to obtain properly sized new eyes is to take them from another American Girl doll.
How to Eye Swap
The original eyes must be removed from both the donor head and the receiver. This is generally done by softening the vinyl around the eyes with a heat source such as a blow dryer or pouring hot water into the head cavity and pushing gently on the eye socket from inside. Once the eyes are out, the new ones can be placed in. It is important to put the eyes in properly weighted so that the eyes will still close properly.
If eyes are being swapped from a doll with a darker or lighter skin tone, the skin tone on the "eyelid" may need to be painted to create a match.
Doll repair locations may perform a eye swap for a fee. The TLC Doll Hospital will swap eyes but two heads must be sent in as they will not place eyes into an empty head.
Eye Swaps and the American Girl Hospital
A doll without the original eyes will not be repaired by American Girl.