I just finished reading a really interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, Attack of the Tall Dolls – Toy Companies Make Them Bigger to Keep Girls Playing With Them Longer, that talks about how the various toy companies are making dolls taller in attempt to help girls see their dolls more as companions and therefore play with them longer. As a phenomenon called “age compression” continues to occur with our society, what were activities generally enjoyed by 9-11 year olds are now the hits among 7-9 year olds. Girls are giving up baby dolls sooner – often by 7 – and hair styles, fashion and dolls with common interests are winning out with the 7-11 set.

So, what are the hot 18″ doll lines for girls ages 6-11 this Christmas?

American Girl - My American Girl doll line American Girl continues to lead the pack when it comes to “companion” dolls with its line of 18″ dolls that are meant to be a girls’ best friend. Their line of historical dolls and books are also popular with girls and Moms, alike. At $95 each, they are definitely pricey, but the dolls are high quality and can easily become keepsakes. American Girl released its online world, InnerstarU this summer as another way to keep today’s plugged in girls interested in their dolls a little longer. American Girl dolls are only available at AmericanGirl.com or at one of the nine American Girl stores.
Best Friends Club Ink, Dolls Best Friends Club, Ink dolls were introduced last fall, were a huge seller for Christmas 2009 and I fully expect the line to be a big seller again this holiday season! The BFC, Ink dolls are 18″ tall, have realistic eyes, bendable knees, wear contemporary clothes and come with a journal and a second outfit – all for a very affordable $40 (approx.) price tag. You can find the Best Friends Club dolls at major retailers such as Walmart and Target, but Amazon seems to have the most complete selection of the dolls and their accessories. (click for complete BFC collection at Amazon)
Journey Girls dolls from Toys R Us Journey Girls, a new line of 18″ dolls from Toys R Us, features four different dolls each with different talents who like to do different things. Callie, Meredith, Alana and Taryn are the four different soft-bodied dolls. There is a line of clothes and accessories that is available for each doll as well.
Disney Princess & Me Tiana Disney‘s attempt to keep doll fans playing with its products longer is its new line of Princess and Me 18″ dolls featuring its five most popular princesses – Tiana, Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella and Belle. Each doll retails for about $50 and comes with an exclusive Disney Princess and Me magazine filled with a full-color photos, princess tips, princess quiz and royal ideas and an honorary princess certificate, plus additional accessories. The dolls are available through the Disney Store and you can purchase the Disney Princess and Me dolls through Amazon, too.
Dollie and Me line from Alexander Doll Co. The Kahn Lancaster Lucas group has introduced a line of 18″ dolls along with a line of doll and matching girl sized outfits. The dolls are manufactured by the legendary Alexander Co. and the dolls look very similar to the Favorite Friend line they had last year. The Dollie & Me dolls can be purchased at Sears.com (or in stores) and the line of matching doll and girl dresses can be found at Kohls and Amazon.
Maplelea Girls are a line of 18″ dolls inspired by the girls of Canada. The collection of five dolls representing the girls from the various Canadian regions are high quality, 18? vinyl play dolls. Taryn, Brianne, Alexi, Jenna and Lรฉonie. Maplelea dolls also have a complete line of furniture, clothes and accessories that go with the girls. You can read our complete review of the Maplelea Girl dolls here.

Other doll lines that are expected to be popular this holiday season also include: