Recently I went in search of an affordable 18" doll to give as a birthday gift for one of Sophie's friends. I wanted an 18" doll for less than $40.00 that the girls could play with together. Here are several doll choices I found in my area and my impressions of each.
The first one I looked at was an "Our Generation Doll" at Target. They sell for about $23.00. This is a pretty good price for a younger child who might damage an AG Doll. I felt their faces had a kind of wooden expression and they just looked cheap next to an AG Doll. I will say this for the Our Generation line, there are lots of accessories (beds, furniture, jeep, etc) that are an inexpensive alternative to AG items.
Next were the Madame Alexander Dolls at Wal-Mart. I was surprised that these dolls were really Madame Alexander. The dolls had a strange unnatural skin color (even in this picture you can see the face does not match the body) I actually could not find a price for the dolls online and wonder if Wal-mart will discontinue selling them. I do know that Madame Alexander has a higher priced 18" doll that has a very sweet face but it is closer to $50 and beyond my budget for the birthday gift I was looking for.
Next I went back to Target to check out their "Play Wonder Dolls". At around $35.00 I was not convinced that they were much of an improvement over the Our Generation Doll. Of course I was limited to just looking at all these dolls in their store packaging so had to make a judgement without ever seeing a doll unpacked. I do want to add though, that the Play Wonder doll clothes fit AG Dolls (although slightly snug) and are very well made and a great bargain as each set comes with several pieces of clothing and accessories.
After an online search I discovered that Toys R Us had a line of 18" dolls called "Journey Girls". I went to my nearest Toys R Us store to check them out and at around $33.00 I felt I had found the right doll for my daughter's friend. The dolls have very pretty faces and lovely hair. They have a nice selection of dolls. Their hair is rooted and not as nice as AG doll hair, but still very pretty, brush-able and soft.
I chose the Alana doll as she was closest in coloring to the little girl who she was intended for. And here she is wearing a matching dress with Emma on a play date at our house!
As you can see the Journey Girls are slimmer and slightly taller. The Journey Girl eyes do not shut, but their eyes are very pretty. The dolls expression is soft and appealing. The Journey Girls wear different size shoes and their clothes are a tight fit for the American Girl Dolls, but a very lovely doll and the winner in my search for a birthday gift doll under $40.00!
Addendum Oct 21, 2012
I was recently at Walmart and noticed they have new dolls called "Best Friend" Dolls. They are a huge improvement over their previous dolls judging from appearances only. Let me know if anyone has seen one after some play. I had a helpful comment about the Our Generation that their hair does not hold up to play very well.