These first photos compare a newer Just Like You American Girl doll, a Gotz Little Sisters Tess doll, and an Alexander Girlz doll, made by the Madame Alexander doll company. First, I'll show you some pics of their faces so you can see the differences.
Aren't they cute? I don't know how well you can tell, but the Gotz and Alexander dolls have much bigger heads than the American Girl doll. Now for some profile shots!
It's fun seeing the differences! The Gotz Tess has almost no nose compared to the other ones, and she has really wide cheeks compared to her friends. The Alexander Girlz doll has a much younger look to her face than the other two, almost toddler-like, at least in my opinion.
Next, I'll show you the side by side body comparisons.
I have one more picture to show you. Madame Alexander also came out with a line of dolls called Friends 4 Life that were sold at Walmart around Christmas time last year. These dolls are also very cute, but they have a different face mold than the Alexander Girlz doll. Below is a picture of my re-wigged Alexander Girlz doll, Maggie (on the right), and a Friends 4 Life doll (left).
In summary, here are some of the pros and cons I've discovered about each doll:
Gotz Little Sisters or Precious Day dolls (from 2003 or earlier):
[Just a reminder, Gotz Precious Day dolls are the same as the Little Sisters except they have rooted hair. The Little Sisters dolls also seem to have slightly bigger eyes than their Precious Day counterparts]
>They're very similar to American Girl dolls and can share most of their clothing
>They have sweet faces that provide nice variety from the toothy smile of the AG dolls
>You can usually get a decent Gotz doll on ebay for around $40 or so, making them a good choice if you don't have enough for an AG doll
>Their hair is comparable to AG dolls in silkiness and quality (at least when they're in good shape); Precious Day dolls have rooted hair that is still nice, but not quite as good as the Little Sisters' hair
>They're just so cute!!!!
>The Little Sisters dolls tend to be pigeon-toed, which can be frustrating when you're trying to get them to stand; if you're getting them for a smaller child, it might be hard for them to keep them upright. The Precious Day dolls don't have the same pigeon-toed issue.
>I've run into a pretty consistent problem of cloudy pupil with these dolls (as a side note, always ask whether the doll has cloudy pupil or not when purchasing on ebay! Some sellers don't notice this, as I found out the hard way!)
>The Gotz company is no longer making dolls, at least directly. Some Gotz dolls are being sold through a company called International Playthings. This means there's no Doll Hospital to send them to. Most fix it tips for AG dolls will work for them, though, since they have the same body style.
>My only other complaint is that they tend to look a little hunchbacked because of the way they're stuffed. It's not too noticeable when their hair's down, but if you ever put their hair up it's pretty obvious.
I'm not really going to say much about the American Girl doll, because anyone on a site like this will be pretty familiar with AGs. Let me just say they're cute and well made, but the main downside is they're really spendy for the average family!
Alexander Girlz doll:
>These dolls also have really adorable faces, and they're great for photos because you can postion their heads in all sorts of poses, unlike the Gotz or AG dolls that can only turn their heads from side to side.
>While some people may not like their vinyl shoulders, they are great for sleeveless dresses. These dolls look much more natural in a sundress! :)
>The main pro with these dolls has to be the price! They sell at Costco around Christmas time for $25. The Friends 4 Life dolls at Walmart were also sold for $25. This makes them a great starter doll for a little girl who wants an American Girl doll. We got each of our girls an Alexander Girlz doll to determine how they would treat an AG doll.
>While these dolls have great faces, their hair is horrible. It looks great at first but tangles easily and doesn't hold up to normal play. It's comparable to the Target Our Generation dolls, also known for their low-quality hair. Another thing I noticed with one of my daughter's dolls is that on her doll the hair was very thin. You could see through to the scalp the day she got her! In case you're wondering, these dolls have rooted hair. These make a great project for a re-wig, though.
>The vinyl shoulders are nice for sundresses, but the different body style does make these dolls a bit thinner than AG dolls. They can fit into most American Girl clothes, just be aware that they might hang on them a bit. Also, the clothes made for the Alexander dolls don't always fit AG or Gotz dolls. Not only are they smaller in the shoulders, they're a lot smaller in the rump, too. The other day I tried to get a pair of Madame Alexander pants on my Gotz doll and couldn't even get them up around her bottom!
>These dolls can't be fixed using all the helpful re-stringing tutorials on ebay, because you can't loosen their neck strings and take their head off to do it. I'm sure there's a way to re-string them, but it's probably a lot more labor intensive.
>You get what you pay for. While these dolls are sweet and pretty and make a good starter doll, they're not made quite as well as a Gotz or AG doll. Although I will say my daughters' Alexander dolls have lasted through almost 2 years of play, and the girls were 4 and 2 when they got them! Their hair's pretty disastrous, but they're still all in one piece.
Well, I hope this gave you some helpful information, and maybe some ideas for some alternatives to an AG doll for a younger girl. I love all three of these types of dolls. The Gotz dolls are my personal favorites, just because I love their faces! :)