Inside the World of American Girl Mania

These mini-me dolls have become a national obsession, with tea-time, hair-styling and complete wardrobes.
5:56 | 12/18/15

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Transcript for Inside the World of American Girl Mania
The American girl doll phenomenon is something of an obsession are reserve. Once you're hooked it's only a matter of time before your child is begging you for clothing, accessories, tea party visits. It can add up to a small fortune. How these dolls are big business raking in millions every year. Here's ABC's David Wright. Reporter: If you don't know any girls of a certain age you might have been spared this phenomenon. But if you do know any, girls about Madeline's age -- It's funny! Reporter: Just surrender. What are you going to tell Santa? To get grace. Reporter: Grace this year's American girl doll available for just two more weeks in stores, then she disappears onto Ebay where sold-out items like the grace doll's French bakery set are already being scalped for a caggering $4,900. For parents of little American girls, the American girl doll can become an obsession, especially this time of year. Happy? Reporter: An old-fashioned doll marketed like a collector's item like mega stores like this one on New York's fifth avenue, American girl place. The company founded in Middleton, Wisconsin, 30 years ago by a woman named pleasant Roland who sold out to mattel, the folk hot make Barbie. Barbie sales have been tumbling, down 16% last year. Mattel grossed $620 million on American girl dolls last year alone. At American girl place you can special order a doll that looks just like you, right down to the texture of her hair and the color of her eyes. Every year there's a featured doll, grace this year. Sage, Mckenna, Isabel, and others from years past. I have her. Reporter: All of them and their accessories available only for one calendar year. Even of them has an elaborate back story. In grace's case she's a kid trying to save her grandparents' bakery. There's even a movie that brings her story to life. Welcome to the new England cupcakers! Your favorite color. Reporter: The store has interactive exhibits immersing you inn your doll's life story. Here a girl can pick a mood and see herself in the past of what it would have been like in Rebecca's time. Reporter: There's a restaurant where you can treat your doll to lunch. And a hair salon to primp and pamper her. For dolls that are broken or bruised the American girl dolls have a hospital. We're going to put it to the test. These are two actual dolls open T owned by my two daughters. They have loved them a little too well. The haircuts and the makeup, they've a little something to be desired. Now we're going to see if they can be fixed. The package shipped off to Wisconsin, American girl headquarters. Very well loved dolls. Reporter: About that rehab process which in our case American girl comped. More in a moment. Most little girls treat theirs with a little more care than mine did. 11-year-old Annabella Cohen from Manhattan has been collecting them since she was 2. How many do you have here? Here is 31. But there are a couple out at my beach house. That's a lot of dolls. Reporter: She has all the accessories too. How are you? Good. How much do you think all of this cost? I'm not that good at math so -- thousands of dollars. All this stuff is very girlie. Yeah. But do you think that it's too girlie? Where's the science kit? There is. A lot of this is super, super girlie, I don't think a boy would go near it. Reporter: That's fine with her and her friends. Girl hot might otherwise be playing with Barbie dolls. I never liked Barbie dolls, they're so tiny, you can't really play with the different pieces. I would always step on them. Reporter: Each year the company tends to sell out of some deposits and that can lead to huge disappointments this time of the year. Parents like Lynn -- It puts a lot of pressure on mom. I had a very disappointed girl last Christmas. Presumably the kids are not that understanding. No. Of course not. They want what they want. Santa can sort it out? Santa makes everything happen, but sometimes mom and dad can't. Reporter: So as you can imagine, it's with some small sense of concern about the college fund that I brought my youngest, Madeline -- This one is my favorite. Reporter: -- To American girl place. Having explained that Stacy Markland, the store manager -- This is grace. Walk in and meet her. Reporter: -- Is one of Santa's elves. This is the one you like? Yes. Why? I don't know why. Actually -- Reporter: We stop to meet with the doctor to hear about those two dolls her sisters trashed. Our doctors at the doll hospital know exactly what to do. Reporter: And to pick out some outfits for them when they come back. Should we get those for your doll? Yeah. Reporter: Back at American girl headquarters, those two dolls are getting the full makeover. We're all back from surgery. And things look like they went pretty well. They went very well. These dolls look beautiful. Reporter: A miraculous transformation. She's in a hospital gown. Reporter: When they arrive back home it's like Christmas has come early. For the older two. We just got them back. Reporter: Little Madeline will just have to borrow her sisters' dolls. Thee at least for one more week. I'm David Wright for "Nightline" in New York.

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