The Maplelea Girls were debuted at the Canadian Toy Fair
in Toronto in 2003 by Avonlea Traditions, Inc. According to company
president Kathryn Morton, “Our characters are meant to be both an
inspiration to, and a reflection of, Canadian girls from coast to coast
to coast. Maplelea Girls are dolls to play with now, and to treasure
forever.” Avonlea Traditions Inc. is a Canadian owned and operated
company based in Newmarket Ontario. Founded in 1988, Avonlea began
developing products based on Canada's ever-popular storybook character,
Anne of Green Gables and has now expanded their product line to include
porcelain dolls, play dolls and decorative items.
Given the success of American Girl, it's not surprising that a
company has finally marketed a similar product for our friends to the
north. These girls are all contemporary characters, most similar to the
American Girl Today line with whom they can share clothes.
The Maplelea Girls face was modeled on a real (and really cute) little girl from
Aurora, Ontario and sculpted by a Canadian artist. I recently purchased
Jenna, the green-eyed redhead shown in the close-up above, and I find
her features very appealing in real life. It is difficult to capture her
dimples and freckles with a camera and I thought her on-line
catalog pictures made her look more "smirky" than she actually is.
The lashes on Jenna's sleep eyes are soft and fine and nicely matched to
her red hair. Her face paint is well done with realistic freckles and
eyebrows. I find the lines drawn from the corners of her eyes to be a
little dark and distracting, but the company informs me that this was
softened in the second production run of the dolls. You can tell what
year and production run a particular doll is from using the information
coded into the number(s) stamped on the back of your dolls' neck.
According to Morton, "2003-1 means that the first production run of this
character was done in 2003. Subsequent production runs of the same
character have an additional stamped number below the embossed number.
For example the second batch of Taryn dolls are stamped with 2005-2
below the embossed 2003-1, meaning the second production run (or
generation) was done in 2005. There will always be the embossed
original year of production, and the imprinted year and generation
number of that particular doll." Note that first generation dolls, like my Jenna above,
are a slightly different size than subsequent generation dolls, particularly the feet, but 90% of
American Girl clothing will still fit them.
The quality of this doll's vinyl is top notch, as is her wigged
Kanekalon hair. Her clothing is also
nicely made. I was especially
impressed with the quality of her realistic-looking athletic shoes.
The box the doll came in is very, very good quality. It is
extremely sturdy and makes a great storage box for the doll's outfits
The dolls come with a nice, loose-leaf journal and I was pleased to
see that it has both a section introducing the doll's
character and blank pages for the girl. (Some are fill-in-the-space
pages similar to the AG Today book and some are blank pages for a
diary-type journal.) You can print out additional blank journal pages
from the website and you receive more pages (blank and with content)
when you purchase outfits and accessories. The journal has pages in both
English and French, as does the website.
In 2009, Maplelea added Leonie, a girl from Quebec, to the line. That is exciting to me
since that is where my ancestors are from. I would still love to see a First Nations girl
in the future or a black Maplelea Girl. Also new are wonderful outfits like a Pioneer Quebecoise
outfit for Leonie, amazingly detailed hockey gear and helmet, also for Leonie, and an Anne of Green Gables costume for Jenna. If only shipping weren't so high from Canada, those outfits would be coming to me!
In summary, I am very pleased with the Maplelea Girls and hope they
live long and prosper. Their price is high (comparable to American
Girl) but their quality justifies the price. If you are Canadian, have
Canadian ancestry or just want a nice friend for your current 18" girls, Maplelea Girls deserve your consideration.