A Boy Doll, as a term among fans, was originally used to describe American Girl dolls that are customized to appear as boys. With the release of Logan Everett in 2017, boy dolls became an official term.
Details and Reasons for Customization
The major reason collectors create (and continue to create) boy dolls is that until 2017, it was believed that, given the target of the company (and the very name "American Girl"), that the company would not release wide scale male dolls. This included characters such as Kit Kittredge's close friend Stirling Howard, Julie Albright's friend T.J., or Maryellen Larkin's best friend Davy Fenstermacher. Thus, collectors who wished to add male dolls to a collection before 2017 could only do so using customized dolls. Because the general doll anatomy is a gender-neutral body shape of a prepubescent child, practically any female-focused doll can be modified to another gender presentation.
Even with the release of official boy dolls, collectors continue to make their own custom boy dolls. Many collectors prefer the open-mouth smile of the standard molds, for example, or want a combination not available in the available dolls.
Official Boy Doll Releases
Initially, the only official boy dolls sold by American Girl were boy Bitty Twins, though initially Our New Baby dolls were sold with the option to purchase either masculine or feminine infant clothing.
The face molds are based on standard face molds, with slight modifications.
Methods of Customization
The easiest way to modify any doll to present masculine is to trim a long wig short, as many boys in modern Western society are assumed to keep their hair shorter than a girl's. However, since the original wigs are draped and designed for longer hair, there will likely be prominent bald spots on the back of the head or around the bangs. Rewigging is slightly more complex, but a short-haired wig will appear more natural on the doll's head. Bitty Babies, since they have short molded hair, can be made into boy dolls with changes of clothing (and will fit Bitty Twin Boy clothing).
A head swap to place a boy Bitty Twin's head on a full 18" body was possible through the life of the Bitty Twin line (and after, with the secondary market). However, this will likely appear misaligned or out of proportion as a Bitty Twin's face mold is designed with the face of a toddler; older children do not have the same round cheeks, level of "baby fat" and larger-appearing eyes of a toddler.
Most outfits are designed to be very feminine and a collector may prefer their male dolls to appear in more masculine clothing, such as t-shirts and jeans or shorts. Many collectors choose to purchase off-brand or specially commissioned outfits. However, some older My American Girl outfits are considered gender-neutral enough to present on a male-presenting doll, such as the Cargo Outfit or either set of the Blue Jeans Basics.
Bitty Twin outfits were an option during the life of the line and on the secondary market, but pants could appear cropped on the longer legs.
With the release of Logan, followed by dolls in the Truly Me Line, options for more masculine outfits again became available.
Boy Dolls and the American Girl Hospital
Logan and other official boy dolls can be repaired through the hospital. A doll with a hair cut on their original wig can be sent in to the hospital, but if any repairs are needed that require full head replacement, the head will most likely return with long hair.
As with any other heavily customized doll, a rewigged or head swapped male doll will not be repaired by American Girl.