Continuing its strategy of introducing diverse, inspiring young female characters, Mattel’s premium brand American Girl has revealed that its 2018 Girl of the Year is 11-year-old Luciana Vega, a creative, confident aspiring astronaut of Chilean descent who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars.
Launched on January 1 at North American retail, the 18-inch Luciana doll features a range of STEM-inspired outfits that reflect the character’s Space Camp experiences. (Think flight suit and space gear.) Other accessories include Luciana’s Maker Station and Mars Habitat for science and research experiments. The first two titles in a Scholastic book series written by author Erin Teagan are available now, too.
As for school initiatives, American Girl has partnered with Scholastic, NASA and Space Camp to fund Blast Off to Discovery. The educational program is aimed to help third though fifth-grade students learn about space through Luciana-inspired content, including STEM-based lesson plans, classroom activities, videos and a game. The program will launch on www.scholastic.com beginning January 31.
American Girl and Scholastic will also host a Mission to Mars Sweepstakes where families can embark on a series of weekly missions based on Luciana’s stories. Prizes include a trip to Space Camp valued at more than US$2,000. And in a first for the American Girl brand, girls can unlock exclusive Luciana content including augmented reality, trailers, videos, space simulations, quizzes and challenges by downloading the American Girl app and scanning the character’s catalogue pages and product.
Additional Luciana initiatives include a special online section of www.play.americangirl.com, an American Girl World app that will be released later this month on the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon Kindle, and a Luciana-themed Space Camp that will launch this summer.
Despite American Girl’s progressive stance on inclusivity and diversity, the brand experienced a 30% worldwide gross sales decline in Mattel’s Q3. The toyco attributed the drop to lower licensing income and initial sales in 2016 through external distribution channels. North American gross sales also dropped by 29% to US$88 million.