Contemporary Characters is the semi-unofficial term for the line of modern characters that, unlike the Girls of the Year (which were initially and remain limited edition characters), were available for extended periods of time beyond a single year before any information about retirement. The line followed the stories of modern characters in modern settings much like the Girls of the Year.
The line was launched in 2017 with Tenney Grant and Logan Everett, followed shortly by Z Yang. In July 2018, American Girl announced that they would archive both Z and Tenney and their entire collections, effectively terminating the Contemporary Line for the foreseeable future.
Traits of Contemporary Characters
Contemporary characters, unlike Girls of the Year, were not given an initial end date or "retirement" date, nor a set release date. They were released with their first book of their given series.
Contemporary characters were all older than the nine (later ten) year old ages of the Historical Characters and the earlier Girls of the Year: Tenney is twelve, Logan is fourteen (currently the oldest character released) and Z is thirteen.
Books and Media
Like all books following the BeForever relaunch, contemporary character books are chapter books with no illustrations. Books were not in any specific number per character, and are staggered in release. Tenney received four books while Z received two.
As Z was initially created for the Z.Crew series of stop-motion web videos, she continued to have media distributed through American Girl's official YouTube Channel for a time after her launch.
The first special for Z, An American Girl Story: Summer Camp, Friends for Life, was released through Amazon Prime in June 2017.
Criticisms of The Contemporary Line
Overshadowing the Girls of the Year
One of the first major criticisms of the line was the line and characters overshadowing the Girl of the Year release, who is normally left prominently for upwards of half of the year before any other character dolls are released. Tenney's collection release was only a month and a half after the release of Gabriela McBride, the 2017 Girl of the Year. Store displays of Tenney and her items greatly overshadowed the release of Gabriela; images were shown last year on social media focusing on Tenney over her. She was given a larger, more elaborate collection than Gabriela (including the first released boy doll, Logan) and the large-ticket unique item that Gabriella did not receive until later. Upon her release, displays for Gabriela were minimized or downsized--a first for a Girl of the Year. Furthermore, there have been multiple implications that Tenney was initially expected to be the Girl of the Year for 2017, but this was adjusted to Gabriela late in 2016. (Examples are purchase receipts showing items in Tenney's collection labeled with the GotY designation, as well as overseas markets labeling her as such.)
Line Created to Allow the Release of Tenney
Another criticism is that the line was possibly created mostly to facilitate allowing the full release of Tenney's collection, rather than delay a doll that was in full production at the time.
Along with the fact that Tenney was released shortly after Gabriela's launch--indicating she had been in production well before release--she and Z were both announced to retire at the same time at the end of 2018, approximately two years after their release (along with Gabriela). While Gabriela had been released for two years before her retirement, Z had only been out for twenty months, shorter than any other character outside of standard Girls of the Year release patterns prior to 2017. Furthermore, no other contemporary characters were released or announced, though there were rumors of future characters.
The full retirement of both main characters of the line means the line is discontinued until further notice.
- ↑ While American Girl uses the term, it is also used to refer to Girls of the Year, which are grouped in the "Contemporary" section along with Bitty Baby and WellieWishers (and as opposed to Historical Characters).
- ↑ The exception is Logan, who is considered part of Tenney's collection and so is not packaged with a book.