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Dolls Grow Up A Little For The Holidays

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Dolls Grow Up A Little For The Holidays

Pop Culture

Dolls Grow Up A Little For The Holidays

Dolls Grow Up A Little For The Holidays

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131853392/131926462" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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While buzzing and beeping electronic toys fill the wish lists of kids this holiday season, the humble doll still stands in quiet dignity.

But some dolls are standing taller these days. Toy-makers are increasing the size of dolls in hopes that children will play with the toy longer.

A fashion doll is typically 11 inches tall. But Wall Street Journal toy reporter Ann Zimmerman tells NPR's Renee Montagne that "manufacturers are making dolls 18 to 21 inches" tall now.

Zimmerman says popular Walt Disney princesses like Ariel and Belle are now about 7 inches taller. There is now also a line of private-label dolls at Toys "R" Us called Journey Dolls that are also 18 inches tall, as well as Dollie and Me dolls, and others, she says.

Ten years ago, manufacturers started noticing that girls were growing tired of dolls at a younger age.

"Barbie started appealing to younger and younger girls," says Zimmernan. And now, she says, girls are giving up dolls at around age 6.

It's led to a decline in doll sales. But the classic American Girl dolls have continued to sell well, even during the recession, says Zimmerman.

"These are 18-inch dolls, very expensive [at about] $100 just for the doll," Zimmerman says. "And while sale of toys weren't great, American Girl dolls went up 7 percent in 2008, which is amazing."

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A new, modern version of the original Barbie doll stands next to the original 1959 doll. Chirs Pizzello/AP hide caption

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Chirs Pizzello/AP

Zimmerman says other manufacturers started thinking American Girl dolls have "staying power," which is in part why the toy-makers started making their dolls just as tall.

Barbie: The Undisputed Queen

Barbie, however, is still at her original height. And Barbie and Barbie accessories still dominate toy best-seller lists. Zimmerman calls Barbie the "undisputed queen of the doll aisle," but she says Barbie's growth has slowed.

Young girls have left Barbie and other dolls for computer-based games and social media sites, Zimmerman says. The hope is that making dolls taller will help them appear like pre-teen and early teen dolls, instead of babies and adults.