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Thursday, October 17, 2019

In the matter of Z Yang and some other AG stuff

Two weeks 'til Halloween, kids!  I already have my candy ready to go, and one of the bags has a lot of Dots in it so I'd better darn well have trick-or-treaters because I hate Dots!  Now then, in one of my prior posts I revealed that my new American Girl resided in Seattle, and that proved to be a halfway decent hint as to who I have, as only Z Yang and McKenna Brooks hail from there (and from the same la-de-da part of Seattle, no less).  But y'all knew already that I have Z due to my klutzy fingers and a prior post, LOL!  I didn't even have to take any Nytol to get her!  Here's how she appeared in her box.
Yes, her name is Z.  According to her book and the wiki her real name is Suzanne, but that often gets shortened to "Suzie" or just plain "Z."  Z got her start on YouTube when American Girl started using her to provide tips for stop motion videos.  In the beginning Z was played by a Just Like You #40, and she was joined by a friend named "M," who was a Just Like You #44.  Yes, #44 with the beautiful brown curls, the same one that rode out the tornado in Dayton.  M never got her own special release, but Z did get her own doll for a very brief time, as a member of American Girl's short-lived Contemporary Characters.  She was joined by Taylor Swift-wannabe Tenney Grant and Tenney's bandmate Logan Everett, neither of whom I was particularly fond of.  First and foremost, I don't know why anyone would want to be like Taylor Duck-Lips Swift with her dime-a-dozen voice.  This meme, shared by my cousin out in California, sums up my feelings on the little twit.
Don't kill me for having an opinion, LOL.  But secondly, if American Girl wanted a curly-haired blonde girl then why did they archive Caroline, who'd only been available for three years before her archival?  Third and most importantly, Tenney badly stole Gabriela McBride's thunder.  Or maybe it was the other way around; no one in the AG fandom is 100% sure, but there is evidence that Tenney was supposed to be 2017's Girl of the Year instead of Gabby.  During...I think it was during Lea Clark's reign that some motormouth on the news made some comment about how there'd never been a black Girl of the Year.  AG apparently panicked, Just Like You #46 was hastily retired, and Gabby was subsequently rushed into production, possibly/probably as a redressed #46.  I don't think American Girl handled that situation well at all, considering that the gripe about the lack of diversity among GOTY is at least as old as Nicki Fleming.  One more year with a boring white doll wouldn't have hurt anything; indeed, one year would've given folks time to develop Gabby's collection a bit better.  Gabby could've subsequently gotten the five-star treatment she deserved as Girl of the Year, and then Z could've been worked in there somewhere, and then Luciana and Blaire could've followed and we'd have all been happy...or somesuch like that.  It was all unnecessarily confusing to have the Contemporary Characters line come up out of nowhere, particularly when AG already had the Girl of the Year line and the Truly Me line to fill the contemporary gap.  And what good did introducing the Contemporary Characters do???  The line was axed within two years, meaning that Z saw...I think it was eighteen months of production.  Indeed, Z has the second-shortest run for an American Girl, not counting the Girls of the Year (Marie-Grace and Cecile tie for the shortest run, by the way).

Sigh...have I lost any of y'all yet???  Based on her aforementioned short run I'm willing to bet a well-kept Z doll will be worth a pretty penny one day.  Maybe not, but you never know.  My Z won't be minty-mint since I've already deboxed her, but I'm keepin' the box!  The box is quite different from the boxes I'm familiar with; instead of the opaque lids that my old dolls came in, or the current box with a small round window for the face, this one has a full-length window.  It has accumulated some crud along the way, but Z is still plainly visible on the inside.
Peek-a-boo!  Look at these cute decorations on the box!  Little cameras!  Even Tenney didn't get a box this cute.
I guess now is a good time to note that this is my first full-sized American Girl of color.  The wiki lists Z's skin tone as "light," but nevertheless Z is Korean-American, which pleases me since Korean characters aren't as prevalent in the doll world as Japanese or Chinese characters are.  Indeed, Z is the first (and so far only) AG doll to represent Korea, and only the second to be fully Oriental after Ivy Ling (Jess, Kanani, and Sonali were all biracial or multiracial).  Since Z and Ivy are both now retired AG doesn't have an Asian representative at all, which is a mega-bummer if you're fond of Oriental dolls like I am.  AG DOES have Oriental options in the Just Like You/Truly Me and the Create Your Own lines, but nothing historical.  Anywho, now that I have Z I've got an excuse to go digging for a doll-sized hanbok (Korea's national dress).  I've always wanted a hanbok for one of my dolls, and Carpatina has a lovely one, but I'm getting waaaaay off the subject as usual.  It's been well over twenty years since I opened my first American Girl, so I'm not really sure what to expect.  Will Z have a super-tight hairnet like the dolls on YouTube?  Jeez, I hope not.  I've seen girls really struggle with those hairnets.
She's free!  No hairnet to grapple with.  I did have to undo some rubber bands, but for the most part this was a very easy box opening.  Z sends her greetings to all of y'all.
I already love this young lady's enthusiasm.  Now, before diving in, one thing worth mentioning is that Z was created when American Girls had permapanties.  Permapanties are exactly what they sound like, and they're discussed a bit further in this post by Talolili.  Most of the AG fandom (Tal and me included) was not thrilled with this change, and within a couple'a months American Girl had reverted back to panties as a separate piece.  According to the wiki all initially released Z dolls have these permapanties, meaning my doll has a very good chance of having them.  American Girl offered a free one-time body swap for anyone who wasn't happy with permanently attached skivvies, but if my Z is afflicted I'll probably just leave her as is for curiosity's sake...and because I don't want to pay shipping and handling and be separated from my new doll for two or so weeks!!!  Frankly I'm hesitant to send any doll to AG's doll hospital anyway, as Rhonda F sent her Kirsten doll for eye repairs a few years back, with the specific request that Kirsten's braids be left alone.  Kirsten returned...with an inch cut off her left braid!!!  So I'm very reluctant to send Z off for repairs.

Of course all that depends on whether Z even has permapanties.  We'll soon see, but first I want to look at her face.
Z has the Jess mold, an Asian-style mold that was introduced with my all-time favorite Girl of the Year, Jess McConnell.  Yeah, I know I once said Marisol was my favorite GOTY, but...actually I like her just as much as I do Jess.  Had I the money I would've owned both of them when they came out.  Anywho, when Z is standing alone it's hard to see the difference between her mold and the so-called "classic" head, but when I pair her with Denise the distinction is easier to see.
Hey, Z's not all that fair-skinned after all!  American Girl's wiki insists that Z has "light" skin, but when compared to Denise there's definitely a more golden tone to Z's vinyl.  Of course, Denise is an older doll and it's entirely possible that she's changed colors over the years, but these two are...definitely NOT the same color!  Now...the point of that picture was to compare head shapes rather than skin tones.  When Z and Denise are viewed side by side it's easy to see that Z's eyes are more oblong in shape, just like lovely Oriental eyes should be.  Her eyes are wider set than Denise's, and her nose is also wider as well, though as far as I can tell it's not any flatter.
One thing that NEVER changes is those full cheeks.  All American Girls have them, without fail.

Eyes now.  Z's eyes are brown like Denise's and Samantha's and quite a number of other AG dolls' eyes, but notice that they're different from Denise's.  Z's are on the top, and Denise's are on the bottom.
Hmmm...people complain about ill-placed eyes in the modern dolls, but Denise is just a smidge wall-eyed herself!  Regarding the color, as far as I know Samantha and Ivy are the only two dolls made with this unusual decal brown seen on Denise.  LOL, those decal eyes give away Denise's former identity as a Samantha doll!  The other brown-eyed dolls have pinwheel eyes.  I love the shade of brown used on these eyes. 
Please ignore the faint horizontal line running across Z's eye; that is a glitch in my phone's camera rather than a fault with my doll.  Anywho, pinwheel eyes once were bad about developing silver eye (my Molly has it, for example).  Gray eyes were the worst for some reason, but dark brown and navy blue eyes were also not immune either, as some Kit, Addy, and Just Like You #4 dolls could attest.  As far as I know silver eye is a thing of the past, so Z should be alright...but I won't guarantee that she will be!  I'll just watch her as she ages...or maybe I don't have to worry, because Z's eyes do not look like pinwheel eyes.  The brown coloration is smooth all over, with no lines or markings of any sort.  Compare that to the brown eyes of JLY #80, and to my Molly's "healthy" eye.
Blick.  I need to use some canned air on Molly's eyes.  Maybe Z's eyes are decal, but if they are they're a lot different from the brown decal eyes that I'm familiar with.

I made a bit of a to-do about eyelashes when I discussed Molly's silver eye, so let's look at those briefly.  Denise and my other girls have the softer pre-Mattel lashes (Denise is the bottom image), while Z has the more modern stiff plastic lashes (top image).  Do they look all that different to y'all???
Hmmm...at first I couldn't tell the difference unless I was touching the eyelashes, but now that I look closer I can definitely see a difference.  Denise's eyelashes are shaggier, for lack of a better term

Z's paint job is a little specialized so I'm going to discuss that briefly.  Since she's the younger doll she's got more vibrant paint than my older dolls (especially Denise).  Her cheeks are ever so slightly blushed, and her lips are a bit more pink.  She has soft pink lips plus the teeth that all American Girls have except for Kaya and the boys.
Lately these Jess heads have had...creases, I guess you could say, painted in the outer corners of the eyes.  They've been done that way ever since Ivy was a thing, and since Z is post-Ivy she has these creases.  They look a little like painted eyelashes, or maybe very subtle winged eyeliner.
Little word of advice:  Z bears a strong resemblance to JLY #30, JLY #40, and Jess.  All four dolls have left side parts and no bangs, but Z is the only one of the four with highlights painted on her eyes.  She's also the only one with a little mole on her left cheek.  Indeed, I think Z is the first American Girl to have something like this.
Rather cute, not like the hideous raised moles I have on my own body!  WHY, GOD???  Why do I have those nasty things???  LOL, anyway, I like this face, but I don't see why the outer corners of the eyes have to be painted.  American Girl apparently began doing this with Ivy's introduction, but I fail to see the reason why the corners are painted, particularly when Kanani and Jess look fine without that paint.  I like the birthmark, though.  It's nice to see dolls with freckles and moles in unusual spots on their faces, since lots of us humans are that way.  The painted eyes and the birthmark also provide a decent way to tell Z from #30, #40, and Jess, as none of them have the paint or the birthmark.  Z's eyebrows are also worthy of note...or they are for me, as they're feathered.  They WON'T provide a way to distinguish Z from her doppelgangers as they have feathered brows too, but they're a different style from what I'm used to.
Once upon a time feathered brows like these were the exception rather than the norm, as all five of my older girls have "straight" brows (Felicity is shown this time, since she has no bangs).
Felicity needs some canned air too.  Anyway, feathered brows were introduced when Kaya made her debut, and now just about all of the dolls have them, including re-released historical characters that once only had "straight" brows.  I have no opinions for or against either style of brow since both styles are delicately painted and don't look like poor Xenia's wooly worm eyebrows, but the difference is interesting.  For further comparison, here's Xenia's eyebrows...
...and my larger My Twinn, Rael's...
...and Ana Ming's...
...and Hearts for Hearts Mosi's...
...and Paola Reina Abigail's.
All of these lashes look crudely painted up close, and I'm not a big fan of Xenia's or Mosi's brows at any distance (thank goodness for Mosi's bangs), so multi-stroke eyebrows can be hit or miss.  The bigger they are, the more likely they are to look like wooly worms, so thank goodness Z's eyebrows are small.

I want to break away from Z momentarily and show y'all what I have done for Xenia.
Xenia's eyes are even worse now than they were, but I haven't plucked up the courage yet to attempt an eye swap.  Mama suggested that I cover her grape juice eyes with tinted glasses, so that is exactly what I've done.  These shades are an Etsy find and are sized for a Blythe doll, but they fit Xenia with no fuss.  Not only do they hide Xenia's discolored eyes and lack of eyelashes, but I think they also soften her angular face.  Definitely an improvement, but I still need to replace those eyelashes!

Now let's punch that elevator button and go up one floor.  I usually start a review with hair, but I gotta keep y'all a-guessing, LOL!  Perhaps I SHOULD have started here, since Heather at PennilessCaucasianRubbish got two (count 'em) TWO Z dolls (one with permapanties and one without) and they BOTH had horrid hair!  But then again this YouTuber got a doll with decent hair, so maybe, just maybe my doll dodged that bullet???  We'll soon see.  Z's hair is straight and black with subtle reddish highlights (this helps further distinguish Z from #40, as 40's hair is all black).
She usually wears her hair in two low-slung pigtails.  Sometimes I also braid it, but usually I leave it like this, with the addition of two silver ribbons.
She sports a left side part, just like her three doppelgangers do.
Before Z moved in I had two dolls (Molly and Kirsten) with a full part and three (Felicity, Samantha, and Samantha Denise) without a full part.  Z should level that playing field...but good Lord, look at this part!
Compare that to Molly's part and to Rael's (they both were meant to have a part, though Rael's isn't great)...

...and to Denise's part and Xenia's (they WEREN'T designed to have a part).  The gaps between rows of hair are not terribly obvious on Denise's wig, even though she wasn't meant to have a parted hairstyle.  The back of Xenia's wig is a fright.
Now, here's Z's part again.  It's not as bad as Xenia's, but it's also not as nice as Molly's or Kirsten's.
I don't think my doll's hair is quite as bad as Heather's dolls' hair, but this wig NEVER would've passed muster during the Pleasant Company era.  Now...I'm not in love with the part as I've established, and the fibers are a little thin, but I love the way Z's hair handles.  It's soft and shiny and smooth, it's easy to brush and put back into pigtails, and it's fairly easy to braid as well.  I say "fairly easy" because Z's hair has some subtle layers that make braids look ragged.  Not anything that would've bothered a child, but I never have liked ragged braids.  Thus I usually leave Z's hair in the style it was meant to come in.  It serves that purpose well, and overall the hair looks sleek, smooth, and cute.  I just wish the back weren't so sloppy!  No one else can see the back, but I know it's there and I wish it looked nice like Kirsten's and Molly's and Rael's wigs do.  However, it should be noted that a lot of dolls look like this in the back; this doll, seen by Miss Emily at Boston's now-defunct American Girl place, also has a wig that's thin and poorly cut in the back.  I guess that's just a thing for AG dolls nowadays.

Now that I've pounded another point into the wood, time to take off Z's cute little outfit.  I'm just going to skim the body review since if you've seen one AG body you've seen 'em all.  It should probably be obvious in this picture that my doll does indeed have permapanties.
They're pale pink and have a silver band sewn in.  Mine have a decent amount of stuffing and thus look okay, but I can see why folks felt that the doll's body was "cheapened" as the permapanties' fabric is a lot thinner than the fabric used on the rest of Z's torso.  So...no, not a big fan of the permapanties, but I don't hate them enough to send Z back to the company.  Can y'all tell I'm just a little determined NOT to send Z back?  LOL, but seriously, there are a few crucial differences between Z's body and an older body that another blogger pointed out, and I'm going to test for those.  Meg noted that her Z doll had squishy vinyl, and...well, I wouldn't call my Z's vinyl squishy like Blossom's, but I can compress it a tiny bit with my fingers.  Not enough that it can be seen on photographs, but I CAN bend Z's finger a little if I push REALLY hard.  I can't do that with my other dolls' fingers, even if I do push hard.
Meg also noted that her Z's neck is attached with a zip tie.  This is also so with my Z, and it's apparently so with all American Girls now.  It doesn't show very well, but I can feel it when I palpate the seam there.
Meg is concerned that this will make home repairs harder in the long run, and I agree that that is a concern.  If I needed to get Z's head off I'd have to first klutz around with a pair of scissors trying to get the tie cut, and then I'd have to buy some NEW TIES!!!  Compare that to Denise, who has the familiar strings hanging down her back.
I also noticed myself that Z does not have the weight that Denise and the others do. This is complicated to explain, and I can really only explain it accurately by comparing Z to both Denise and to one of my knockoff dolls.  Y'all remember Sadie, my Our Generation doll?
Of course y'all don't; it's been years since she was last in the blog.  Anyway, when I pick up Sadie she is very lightweight due to the thinner fabric on her torso and due to the cheaper plastic in her head and joints.  Denise feels heavy in my hands, like...well, like American Girl dolls should feel!  If any of y'all have ever handled an American Girl doll and an Our Generation doll at the same time then you'll know what I mean.  Sadie feels...I hate to say this because I like Our Generation dolls, but I can tell that Sadie is a lot cheaper than Denise was.  When I handle Z she feels a lot like Sadie, only with the addition of strung limbs (Our Generation dolls don't have strung limbs).  Why do I bring this up?  Because Sadie cost twenty-eight bucks and Z cost over a hundred!  For that price I'd expect Z to feel more like Denise than like a Target knockoff, but that's how Z feels when I handle her.  She feels like an Our Generation doll with better posing.

Since I've got Sadie out, let's look momentarily at her part.
Our Generation dolls have rooted hair, which must've been quite a task as hard as their heads are.  But notice how much prettier Sadie's part is than Z's.  Yep, the twenty-eight-dollar knockoff has a better part than the American Girl.  However, I will note that Z's hair is of better quality than Sadie's.  Sadie's is quite tangled, even though I've tried to take care of it over the years, and Z's probably WON'T tangle as long as I take good care of her.

With another rabbit trail out of the way, let's go back to Z's body.  I've established that Z feels lighter than her older AG sisters and she's missing the neck strings.  I've also seen several Z owners complain about puckers at the neckline, but my doll looks okay here.
A LOT of new American Girls have puckered necklines.  I don't know if that's because someone tweaked the size of the fabric at the neck, or if it's because those zip ties pull the fabric too tight, but wrinkled necklines have become a bit of a hassle.  However, Z appears to have dodged that bullet and I am very glad.  Unfortunately that doesn't mean that Z has the greatest posture in the world.  Not that Denise does either; Z leans to her left and Denise leans to her right.
Once again, both have better posture than Xenia, who has to lean forward in order to stand.

Regarding motion, Z ekes out her older friends in one crucial way:  she's very tightly strung, mostly due to being younger than my other dolls.  She can thus hold poses that Denise and the historicals have trouble holding.  The tradeoff???  C'mon, y'all knew there'd be a tradeoff!  It's hard to get Z to sit.  Her hips are so tight that I have to fight with her to get her seated, and even then she can't sit very...ladylike, shall we say. 
This problem is even worse when Z is clothed, as her tight skirt restricts her motion.  I predict/hope that as Z ages her elastic will relax and she too will grow floppy.  But maybe she won't!  Maybe Z will stay eternally stiff like Xenia!  Remember how well that went, trying to get her seated???  And please pardon the reused picture, which I nicked from Xenia's review.  I remember saying when I took this picture that it was the most awkward one I'd ever taken for a review, but it gets the point across, as Xenia can neither sit up straight nor keep her feet together when she sits.  Z can at least sit up straight. 
I don't hate Xenia, I promise!  I just think it's sad that My Twinn's products became such crap as the company approached the end of its life.  I say this because <gulp> I think American Girl may be going the same route!!!  Z is a sweet, cute doll, no question, but she has a lot more in common with Xenia and the eighteen-inch My Twinns than an American Girl should.

Oopsie, I didn't look at molding yet!  The molding is okay.  Nothing va-va-va-voom, but nothing bad either.  If there were any significant differences I'd say that maybe Denise's nails are more sharply molded than Z's.
Pardon the atrocious lighting; neither Z nor Denise are this dark in real life.
Time to talk about clothes now.  Like most American Girls Z comes with a meet outfit that is stylish and cute but rather simple.
I love the colors on her T-shirt.  The shirt itself is a deep violet-blue, and printed on the front is a very detailed camera with the word "smile" in script.
The printing is smooth and even with no cracks or major flaws, and the colors (salmon and darker orange) tie in with some of Z's accessories as we'll soon see.  The back does up with Velcro and the hems are all finished.  In other words, about par for the course for an American Girl shirt.

Even though it's acceptable and indeed common for girls to wear pants nowadays, American Girls still wear skirts and dresses quite frequently.  This is so in Z's case, though her skirt is pretty short.  It's a denim miniskirt...or I think that material might be denim.  It's a thick material with ZERO stretch, colored to look like gray washed denim.
The skirt has what appears to be a rolled up hem.  Jeez, Z, isn't it short enough WITHOUT being rolled up???
The fly and the pockets are not real, but they're also not printed on like Charlie Lake's fly and pockets were.  They're stitched in, which is more than I can say for the flies and pockets on Create Your Own clothes.
The American Girl logo is also sewn on rather than printed, in the form of this little clear plastic oval.
The back of the skirt has a panel of elastic around the waistband.  I like this better than Velcro, but it does make the skirt look a little wrinkled when it's not on the doll.
This skirt is a nice little item for a doll, though like the shirt it's a little plain.  Oh well, plain also means versatile, right?  Right!  The skirt is also little too short for my taste, but who needs to worry about a short skirt when you're wearing jeggings underneath???
Jeggings...I love 'em, I hate 'em.  The hate factor is probably sour grapes on my part, since my legs have always been too thick to wear any sort of leggings, let alone jeggings!  But like the man-bun it looks like jeggings are here to stay, and Z is wearing them.  They're made of the prerequisite denim-blue stretch-knit and the hems are all finished, as they absolutely have to be on stretch material.
When these are in place on Z they fall to capri-length (i.e. just above the ankles), and unfortunately they like to ride down, showing off Z's permapantied nether region.  I can push them back into place, but keep that in mind if you get this doll.  And for that matter, keep that in mind if any of your American Girls wear leggings, jeggings, or tights, as their chubby little bodies don't always accommodate stretchy pants well.

Sparkly slip-on shoes finish out Z's basic look.
Most of this glitter is silver, but there's a dash of pink sprinkled in there too, making for one truly unique pair of shoes.  The construction is pretty simple, free of laces and frills and any sort like that.  They're just cute little slip-on shoes that go with everything.
The soles are made out of white vinyl and have simple little treads.
Z's shoes could probably classify as "glitter barf" shoes, right along with Denise's pink Chuck Taylor-style shoes (a Hobby Lobby find) and the shoes that came with the Playful Color Block Outfit.
Some other members of AG "fandom" don't like this kind of shoe, and having just taken the Color Block shoes out of their baggie I can see why, as the glitter sheds pretty badly.  I may have to coat those shoes with some kind of glue that doesn't yellow with time.   Z's shoes do not shed at all (nor do the pink Hobby Lobby shoes), so that's another plus.  Z's shoes also feel like...well, like real little shoes, being made of fabric and rubber rather than plastic.  Again, this is how all of American Girl's doll shoes used to be.

As I said above, this little outfit is about par for the course for a modern AG meet outfit.  Stylish, colorful, simple, with separate little well-executed pieces that are good for mixing and matching.  But for once, we're not done!  Never, and I mean NEVER have I been able to get the meet accessories for these dolls before, even though I'd have given my right arm for Felicity's meet accessories when I was a kid.  One of Felicity's items was a mob cap, which colonial girls couldn't go without.  But...oh Lordy, I can hear it now.  "I'm not paying twenty bucks for a hat and some trinkets," is what Daddy always said.  Sure, Dad, let me pay FORTY bucks for them now that they're all retired!  I WILL get a sunbonnet for Kirsten though, if I have to cut and sell my hair to do it!  Yuck, I doubt anyone would want it, LOL.  Luckily Z's accessories are not that insanely expensive, and I was thus able to get a set.
Wait a minute...that jacket looks familiar!  Could it be the same one that Denise wears with the True Spirit set?  Sure looks like it!  See the buttons?
The back of the package shows how different Z looks with the accessories in place.
As with Denise and the True Spirit set, the accessories promise to make Z's ensemble pop just a bit more.  Hopefully though my pictures will be a little better than the ones AG took; the one seen above has a cute background and a cute frame, but it fails to capture the true colors of Z's meet shirt (it looks black rather than blue).  Here's my take on it.
Blah background and no frame at all, but Z looks fine...except for the glare on her glasses, that is.  I never can avoid that.  Anywho, here's the jacket.
At first glance this jacket looks EXACTLY like Denise's, but the more I looked the more differences I found.  For starters, Denise's jacket is shorter than Z's.
The sleeves are also a different length.  Denise's sleeves (on the right) stop just above her wrist, while Z's sleeves fall a little lower.
The front placket of Denise's jacket has four buttons, while Z's has five due to its longer length.
The front pockets of Z's jacket have one button apiece, and Denise's pockets do not.
Lastly, the labels are different.  Denise's label is a green cloth label on the cuff of her left sleeve...
...while Z's label is another clear plastic oval on the bottom edge of the left front.
Nope, definitely not the same jacket, but they're not far off!  I can always say that Denise used a sewing machine on hers to make it a little more fitted, LOL.  Z's jacket is certainly just as nice as Denise's, and since it's newer it's also cleaner...though I predict that'll change pretty quickly.  White things NEVER stay white when they're in my grubby little mitts.  Just for shizzles, here's how my girls look in their semi-matching jackets.  Who do y'all think wears it better?
Now to the glasses.  Interesting little tidbit:  Z is only the second character after Molly to be marketed specifically with glasses.  The glasses are not mentioned in Z's story, nor do they seem to be a prominent part of her wardrobe like Molly's glasses are, but she has them!
These are pretty different from Molly's glasses!  While Molly sports metal frames with lenses that feel like glass, Z's specs have transparent orange frames and plastic lenses.  The shape is...oh, I'd say they're kind of half-moon shaped. 
One half-moon sleeping by the creeks...ahem, I love how this shade of orange looks with Z's coloring, and I also love how it matches the camera on her shirt.
When Miss Emily bought her American Girl doll she also purchased a pair of glasses, and she noted that they felt fragile.  Not flimsy in construction, mind y'all, but delicate like a real pair of glasses.  I must say that I feel the same way about Z's glasses; the frames certainly aren't made out of metal like Molly's glasses are!  Since Z's nose is rather short her glasses sometimes like to slide off, so when I'm moving her around I take them off and hang them on her scarf.  The scarf looks like an infinity scarf, but in truth it's two loops of striped fabric that join in the back with Velcro.
The material has the same orange and peach color scheme as Z's shirt, and it matches the glasses as well.
Pretty cute!  My style was a little off the wall when I was Z's age, and thus I love this combination of colors so far.  But it gets just a smidge better, for on Z's head is her good luck charm, this purple knitted beanie.
I liked hats like this when I was a little older than Z is, and I can see why she likes this hat!  The yarn is dominantly purple in color, but there's some pink and blue mixed in there as well.
Y'all remember how Denise's True Spirit beret is the same shape all around?  Z's hat is not.  It has a gather in the back, which I like as it keeps this hat from looking like just another shapeless sock hat.
The hat sports a cluster of baubles on the left front.  There's a purple patch that looks like a raindrop, a silver star charm, and a purple faceted pony bead that holds the star in place.
I really like that.  The little decorations are like something I once would've sewn on a hat or a purse.  All in all I quite like these accessories, though the glasses need to be treated with care.  The set makes Z's ensemble look more put together.

Of course no American Girl doll is complete without a book, and indeed my girl came with hers.
The Real Z has failed to pull me in like the older historical books did; indeed, I haven't gotten any further than the third chapter.  However, the book did accomplish one thing:  it made me want to try kimchi.  I loathe raw cabbage, and I'm not too keen on it fermented either (unless it's on a hot dog), but the stuff Z and her family eat for dinner sounds heavenly.  Z describes her father's dish as a stew with pork and tofu added to the kimchi, meaning that he was likely cooking a variation of the dish called kimchi-jjigae.  Of course there's probably more to Z than kimchi and American Girl dolls, but if I stop to read the rest of the book and then give y'all a full run-down of the book we'll be here all night.  It just hasn't caught my attention like the historical books have.  And for that matter, I even enjoyed Gabriela Speaks Out and Nicki better, and I haven't even read all of either of those books yet! I liked Gabby right from the beginning, but Gabriela Speaks Out cemented my fondness for her.  As for Nicki...I must confess that reading that book completely changed my views on Nicki Fleming, who I once dismissed as "ordinary."  Oh well, just because I have the book doesn't mean that I can't make up my own backstory about Z!  Barb the Evil Genius suggested that I make Z a budding storm chaser, hungry to follow in her parents' footsteps, and I may indeed go that route.  Lovely idea, Miss Barb!  I could also do some sort of Dante's Peak rehash, which isn't as outlandish as it might sound (I now issue a tangent warning).  Z's home base in Seattle is just a stone's throw from Mount Rainier, a volcano larger and potentially more dangerous than Mount St. Helens.  Scientists think that if Mount Rainier were to erupt with the same force Mount St. Helens did, then the resulting lahars would create a disaster comparable to the incident at Armero, Columbia in 1985.  Now that's a lovely thought, innut???  All of Seattle wiped out...except for a thirteen-year-old girl with her camera, the sole survivor...okay, I doubt I'd make a story that dark.  My point is that the possibilities for a decent backstory are endless.  I still wish the book caught my attention a bit more, but then again I am not the book's target audience!

I wish I could get a group picture of all my American Girls together, but with six of them plus Rael, Sadie, Xenia, and Ana Ming I'd need a staircase or something of that stripe.  So instead of cobbling together a group pic I'll just wrap up Z's review and move on.

*Root job is pathetic compared to past American Girl wigs.  The hair looks nice and feels nice, but it is not as thick as it could/should/would have been on an older doll.
*Stiff in the joints, though I predict these will loosen up with time.
*...I can't think of anything else bad!

*Very cute, but then all American Girl dolls are.
*I've got a new face mold!
*Outfit and accessories are well-made and can be mixed and matched around.
*Can wear other American Girl outfits, but that should come as no surprise (LOL).
*...I can't think of anything else good!

Don't get me wrong, Z is a cute doll with the American Girl aesthetic intact, but she's not as high-quality as my older AG dolls or a Carpatina doll.  She's...just another doll, basically.  A lot of collectors would cite my doll's permapanties body as the most obvious symptom of American Girl's diminished quality, but I can't say that this attribute bugs me much.  I can see situations where such a body would be a pain in the neck, but my biggest reservation with Z is that hair.  It's very thin, and the fibers do not feel like kanekelon, the stuff that my older dolls have.  It feels more like modacrylic, which doesn't feel or look as nice as kanekelon does.  But worse than that, the rooting in the back is horrid.  It's nothing like past wigs that were meant to have parts.  The rest of Z is fine.  Her joints are nice and tight so she can hold a pose without toppling over (Samantha and Denise are VERY loose), and her vinyl is free of scuffs and paint marks.  Plus, NEW HEAD MOLD!!!  Or a new one for me, at least; the only one I had before was the classic mold.  Z's outfit is eclectic, colorful, and pretty conservative (that short skirt might bother some parents), and the pieces can be mixed and matched around quite a bit (always a plus).  So there are good things to be said about Z, and the good things outnumber the bad, but she still is not the doll she could have been. 

Sweeping change of subject now, time to segue into some random stuff.  I'll start with my new mini doll.  LOL, I've had a fun summer with these American Girls, haven't I???  Given my fondness for Gabby I could've gotten a mini version of her, or pretty Saige Copeland with her red hair and blue dress, but...I didn't pick either of them.  I chose Luciana Vega instead. 
I was going to review her, but Miss Emily already took care of that in a series of posts so I'm not going to bother.  Luciana is my first Girl of the Year (kinda, sorta), and I intend her as a prop for Denise.  Don't they look cute together!
I may bother with a doll for Z too in the future, probably Kit or Samantha, per Z's backstory.

Now that Z and Luciana are taken care of, I want to draw attention briefly to Kirsten, and to some recent items that I've bought for her.  On the Banks of Plum Creek would call these items "boughten," since they're sort of store-bought.  They're handmade, but I bought them, thus...boughten!  Here's Kirsten's new underthings that I briefly mentioned above. 
Don't worry, Kirsten isn't too leery about being photographed in her skivvies; Samantha would be my problem child there.  Anywho, American Girl made undergarments for the historical dolls, but I never got any of them.  I likely could've found Kirsten's underwear set on eBay, but since eBay prices for brand-name AG things can be a bit outrageous I decided to go with some handmade items on Etsy instead.  Kirsten's new stuff consists of a "camisole" and a petticoat from Doll Up My Doll.  I'm pretty sure pioneer underthings didn't tie with satin ribbons, but they won't show under Kirsten's dress so who cares!  The petticoat is trimmed with lace...
...and like most petticoats it gives Kirsten's dress some extra fullness.  By the way, the Etsy shop that I bought these items from also offers pantaloons and bonnets if your pioneer doll is missing those.  My Kirsten has her pantaloons and almost never takes them off; indeed, the only time I've ever removed them was when I put the petticoat on her (the waistband of the petticoat made the pantaloons bunch up).  But she never got her bonnet, and all good pioneer dolls wear bonnets, and I didn't want an easily dirtied white bonnet like the ones that that first shop offered.  So I got this one from Stitchified for You instead.
Stitchified offers other designs of hat, plus a handful of complete outfits for the historical girls and some scarves for dogs.  If I'd remembered that Kirsten's favorite color is pink I'd have ordered her a pink bonnet instead (the shop has one at the moment), but this off-white one will do the job just as well.  Off-white matches everything, and now my Kirsten looks like a real little pioneer.
The brim isn't quite deep enough to be a truly authentic bonnet, but doesn't Kirsten look cute!  I had been afraid that that bonnet wouldn't be deep enough to accommodate Kirsten's head (her hairstyle is quite roomy) but I needn't have worried about that bit.  The bow even fastens on the side, just as Kirsten's AG-made bonnet would have.
For the record, Addy's meet bonnet also ties on the side and looks super cute, and I think Caroline's bonnet did too.  As an aside, Kirsten has been discontinued for close to ten years now, and about two months ago (August 7th, to be exact) I wondered when I'd run into a little girl who was too young to know who Kirsten was.  Wouldn't y'all know, the very next day I ran into a child at the library who'd just turned ten.  She was familiar with Addy and Tenney, with Samantha and Gabriela and Nicki, but when I asked her if she'd seen my Kirsten doll she stared at me and asked "Who's Kirsten???"  LOL, poor Kirsten!  I think it's time she got a BeForever release, though she'd probably end up being a Costco exclusive like BeForever Molly did.  For the record, Costco Molly is adorable just like my old Molly is.

Oops, I forgot to show y'all how Kirsten looks with that new cookset that I've got!
I don't know where Z gets the patience to make stop-motion films of her dolls.  It took me fifteen minutes to get that one picture, largely because I couldn't get Kirsten balanced.  Not to mention the fact that no matter what angle I tried I couldn't keep the houses out of the background.  Alas, I have no wide open field within walking distance that could've simulated the prairie, or rural Minnesota either, for that matter.  Thus Kirsten is eternally stuck in rural modern-day Missouri, with my house and the neighbor's house looming behind her.  I love how Kirsten looks with this set though, and I can't wait to show Mama how nice it all looks together.  Kirsten really is holding that spoon, by the way.  I had to wedge it between her fingers and hold my breath, but she can hold it.

That takes care of Kirsten, so now let's take a brief look at Samantha, who also got something new during the summer.  This is the "Buster Brown" dress that she wore in Samantha Learns a Lesson.
I never really have bonded with Samantha like I have my other AG dolls, so she rarely gets new things.  Thus I felt like I owed her one, and I've always been fond of this dark gray dress so that's what she got.  The eBay seller didn't have the ribbon that went with it, but ribbons are easily replaced.  When I first got this dress for Samantha just looking at it made me sweat, as the weather was still very hot then, and the dress itself is made of flannel, not the most heat-friendly fabric!  I love the color though; this dress is charcoal gray, not a color one oft sees on American Girl clothes.
Likely that lovely dark color would make this dress even hotter to wear, since the darker an object is, the more light (and thus more heat) it absorbs.  Indeed, in the book Samantha mentions feeling too hot in this dress, particularly when combined with the long underwear that her grandmother insisted she wear from September to the end of June.  Good Lord, if I'd been her I'd have died, especially in those long sleeves!  However, the heat appears to have finally broken for good here in the Bootheel, and thus a dark flannel dress isn't that unbearable to think of now.  I need to dig out Kirsten's school gear now and take a group picture, since Samantha, Kirsten, and Molly all have their school clothes.  They'd make a very cute back-to-school display for the library.

Alrighty, I think I've talked enough.  Z Yang has some frustrating hiccups in quality, but I'm glad to have her along for the ride.  I've got plans for my historicals in the future too, if I can somehow obtain their school desks and accessories.  But for now, I'm going to give y'all a taste of what Z is wearing for Halloween.
See y'all very soon!

Much love,