Prev Next

Sneak Peek at the New Dora Doll. Yes, that one.

By Isabel Kallman

By Isabel Kallman, founder of Alpha Mom
new_dora_doll.pngI was able to get a in-person sneak peek at the new Dora doll. Yes, that one. The one that garnered lots of controversy when a sketch of her (called “Dora Links” or “Dora Explorer Girls”) was released to the press back in March.
So, what do I think?
Mixed feelings. I have been thinking hard about this. I don’t think I’ve thought this much about a doll since my own days playing with Barbies.
First, the new tween Dora doll doesn’t vary much from the sketch. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture to show you since I wasn’t allowed to take any and you won’t be able to see what she looks like until she’s available at retail on September 29th. The new Dora doll does NOT wear a mini-skirt- as had been speculated- but rather a tunic with leggings. Instead of ballerina slippers, she’s wearing platform sandals (which made me pause, but ultimately, I found acceptable).
original_dora.pngShe comes with lots of bells and whistles and was developed after two years of research and development including input from moms and young girls. Girls want to play with a doll’s hair, add jewelry, dress her up, etc. Moms were hoping their little girls would continue loving Dora beyond her 5-year-old original self. Kindergarten and first-grade girls find the original Dora too babyish (something I have heard firsthand). But, moms LOVE Dora and her adventurous spirit and, well, wholesomeness. Ta-da, Mattel created the new Dora doll. (The original Dora doll is not going anywhere and will continue on her backpacking adventures).
But, see this is where I am having problems embracing the new Dora doll in all her long-haired and tween glory.
The new Dora doll was created for the five-to-eight year old set, yet she is designed to be 11 years old. In fact, the new Dora doll’s body has been constructed based on the proportions of an actual 11 year-old girl’s prepubescent body (props for honest representation here).
When I look at some of the most popular dolls out there for girls in that target age group, the first that jump to mind are Barbie, American Girl, and the dreaded Bratz dolls. Originally, I thought that the new Dora doll would be a less expensive alternative to American Girl. But it’s not. The American Girls are made to portray eight-year olds for eight-year old girls. I wish they had made new Dora eight-years old, not eleven (but they didn’t ask me and it’s nt all about me either).


Even Polly Pockets have developed bodies. Do little girls need to play with teenaged dolls?

However, I do believe there is a market and will be demand for the new tween Dora doll. When I asked my Twitter buddies what alternatives there are for girls when you don’t want to buy a Bratz or Barbie, these were some of the responses:
American Girl (age-appropriate, but expensive)
Only Hearts Club (looks age appropriate and great)
Groovy Girls (love these, but they are plush dolls so no combing hair)
Corelle Les Cheries (looks a bit young, but great)
Polly Pocket (tiny dolls but with teenage bodies)
Liv Dolls (dolls look like teenagers, but not as bad Bratz; nothing is as bad as Bratz)
Yes, I think the “Dora Links” doll will be a hit, if the moms embrace it. Do I prefer some of the more age-appropriate choices listed above? Yes. But, I am also realistic and recognize that as girls push the the upper end of the target age group, they will be seeking out dolls that are more exciting. And, steering them away from the Bratz pack for as long as possible will be on moms’ minds.

On Bratz dolls, one mom told us “my daughter has enough of them now to open her own little whorehouse.” Ouch.

And, the tween Dora has some cool attributes when I look at this product through the innocent eyes of my seven-year old self. Once you connect the Dora Links doll to your computer via USB, you can make Dora’s hair grow (though the execution is clunky) and retract to different lengths, make her jewelry sparkle in a variety of colors and even change her eye color. As much as I don’t want to like these blingy features, even I squealed when I saw the eye color transformation. One thing I didn’t like was that you could apply make-up to onscreen Dora and in-person Dora Links’ cheeks would light up (ick).
These are the new Liv dolls. Better than Bratz. But still?

But overall, no matter how carefully a toy manufacturer engineers or tinkers with an existing icon, there will be some opposition to change. Even though the original Dora will still be around, it will be hard for some to embrace the tween Dora. Which honestly is not surprising. Watching our children grow up is hard enough. And now, Dora, too? Yes, life is rough.
BTW– the doll is available for pre-order right now in case you think this is something a little girl in your life would enjoy.


Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

icon icon
chat bubble icon


newest oldest most voted
Notify of
PunditMom/Joanne Bamberger

I have struggled since the beginning with what dolls would be appropriate at what age for PunditGirl, who is now a 9 1/2 year-old fourth-grader. Interestingly, she’s never been a huge doll fan and her interest in them goes in waves. She’s currently into her Polly Pockets again, as are several of her classmates. And their play tends more toward pretend/fantasy play rather than wanting dolls to dress and groom. I’m sure moms of girls will continue to struggle with this issue — even if we don’t have to contend with the extremeness of the Bratz girls! And I’m going… Read more »


I think that by the ages of 10 and 11, most girls are growing out of their doll phase. If moms and kids are saying that they want a doll that they can do its’ make-up, jewelry and such, perhaps the dolls creaters were afraid of marketing an 8-year-old make-up, jewelry toting doll? Perhaps parents would have found that even more unacceptable than an 11-year-old “dolled-up” doll. It still sounds as though the new Dora doll will not be racy and provocative, which is what counds in my book! Thanks for the thoughts and great alternative choices! __________ Isabel: Thanks,… Read more »


Moms love Dora?
I guess I missed that memo.


As a not-yet mom who remembers fondly my many years of playing with Barbies (secretly for much longer than was socially acceptable) I can understand why they would make the doll slightly older than the target age group. I had a friend who played exclusively with baby dolls, but I personally liked to “play” grownup, because I wasn’t one. I lived little girl, so I didn’t have any interest in pretending with a little girl doll. I think that mindset is pretty normal even up through your teens; you like to explore what it will be like when you get… Read more »


My daughter is 3.5 and still very much into Dora 1.0. I have a couple of American girls from my own childhood that she will inherit in a few years, but mostly she likes stuffed animals and horses. Her Dora toys all live in the bathtub. Is there a new tween Dora show coming with the new doll?
Isabel: so sweet. I asked and they said that no tween Dora show was in the works (though they didn’t rule it out) but books will be released in January 2010.


I have a little 6 1/2 year old first grader at home, very into icarly (which I find more appropriate than other tween directed shows). I for one look forward to the new Dora, she’s been 5 longer than my daughter has been born lol. I showed her to Olivia and she thought she was pretty.


I’m excited about the new Dora doll. My five-year-old daughter loves the Dora concept (i.e., learning to speak Spanish), but is definitely outgrowing the current Dora. Now, Dora is growing up a little bit with her. My daughter loves fashion dolls like Barbie and the new Hannah Montana dolls and I’ve never had a problem with them- mostly because I grew up playing with Barbies and feel now that they only enhanced my imaginative experience. The truth is that little girls want to think about what life will be like when they are older and can wear makeup and fancy… Read more »