Pre-Mattel Dolls (or PM Dolls) is a fandom term for the dolls that were released and available before Mattel fully owned American Girl, from the launch of the company in 1986 to 1999. These are also called PC dolls, after Pleasant Company. When Mattel purchased the company in 1998, they began to make several changes to the doll structure.
Transition Dolls--released from about 1999 to about 2002--can have traits of both Mattel and Pre-Mattel dolls.
- Faces are chubbier and many are slightly molded differently.
- Considerably paler or more washed out skin tone.
- Less face paint on cheeks and lips.
- Eyelashes are softer and match the doll's hair color closer.
- "© Pleasant Co" imprint on the back of the neck. However, this can also be on the back of Mattel Dolls as the molds were not immediately switched. The imprint is no guarantee of a doll being from the PC era, especially on dolls such as Kit and Kaya who were not available at PC/PM dolls but used or had their mold designed before then.
- Chubbier limbs. This can result in newer outfits not fitting arms and legs well.
- Larger feet. PM dolls's feet may not fit into Mattel-sized shoes.
- Softer body vinyl.
- Chubbier overall body shape. Newer outfits are shaped for Mattel dolls and can fit very tightly on a Pre-Mattel doll. Some collectors have removed the internal stuffing to slim down a PM doll to fit outfits, though the limbs may still be too tight.
- Green eyes are a less bright shade of green than in later Mattel dolls.
- Do not have the tiny "x" or star hidden in arm and leg joints, similar to the artist's mark on some dolls.
Some dolls have significant differences specific to them. Some outfits released after Mattel's purchase fit poorly on Pre-Mattel dolls.
Only six Historical Characters can be PM/PC dolls, as they were released prior to Mattel's full ownership by 2000:
Most Josefina dolls released are Mattel dolls as she was released just before the Mattel purchase.