Joss's Volkswagen Surf Bus Review (American Girl)

Joss's Volkswagen Surf Bus
What It Is

The American Girl Girl of the Year for 2020 is a California surfer girl named Joss. The doll and a surfboard accessory kit are both available, but how will Joss and her surfboard get to the beach? In Joss's Volkswagen Surf Bus! This totally cool vehicle and playset has space behind the wheel for two American Girl dolls, plus a lot of fun features and more than 60 accessories. 

There are two battery-operated features, and you'll need to provide the batteries for those. The first set of batteries powers the vehicle's sound, lights, and moving parts. Buttons for these are on the dashboard and steering wheel. Press the steering wheel button to hear a horn sound. Press the lights button to turn on the headlights. Press the sound button to hear Joss phrases, such as "The first rule of the surfer's code is that you have to give respect to get respect." Press the windshield wipers button to turn on the working wipers. When you raise or lower the blinker lever on the steering wheel, you'll turn on the vehicle's blinkers, complete with sound effects. And press the radio button to hear music. 

There are some other really cool features in the front of the vehicle, such as a moving stick shift, an opening glove box, two opening car doors, and two blue and white seats with elastic seat belts. 

The other battery-powered feature is the movie projector. It includes three pretend movie reels with images of American Girl dolls surfing, at the beach, and cheerleading. Insert one of the reels into the projector and prop the projector on top of the cooler accessory. Open up the back of the vehicle and hang the white sheet from the hooks. Then turn on the projector to see the images enlarged on the sheet. 

The back of the vehicle also reveals two drawers. One pulls out for storage, while the other pulls out to become a pop-up cooktop. Lift up the back flap for built-in cooler storage.

The Surfer Bus also has a sliding side door to give access to the vehicle's interior. There's another large drawer for storing accessories. And a top panel slides out to become a bed. Just lay down the mattress and lay out the doll's sleeping bag, blanket, and pillow. Or slide the panel back in and adjust the mattress to create a couch that can be decorated with cute throw pillows. There's also a fold-out table, and the passenger seat rotates for extra seating in the "living area" of the bus.

The playset also comes with a skateboard that an American Girl doll can really ride thanks to footstraps, and the skateboard can be hung from the hooks inside the bus. You also get a surfboard with this vehicle, and it has a footstrap and ankle strap for a doll. The surfboard gets secured to the top of the bus using two black straps. 

And for even more of a realistic play experience, the playset includes lots of accessories. There's a towel for drying off after surfing, a rug to make the bus cozy inside, and all sorts of cooking tools and utensils for pretend cooking. Speaking of cooking, there are food accessories, from bananas and raspberries to a bottle of kiwi smoothie and a bag of pretzels. There's even a bowl of dog food for Joss's dog, sold separately. There is also a Surf's Up magazine, a surfing brochure, and a Surfer's handbook for the doll to read. Five mini Polaroids let the doll remember favorite moments on her board and the cheer mat. A pretend laptop has a retractable USB cord, and two double-sided panels can be inserted into the laptop's screen to make it look like the doll is editing her latest surfing video or registering for the next cheerleading competition. And because surfing and cheerleading can lead to injury, a First Aid kit is included with hydrogen peroxide, pain reliever, antibiotic ointment, an ice pack, bandage stickers, gauze pads, scissors, and a bandage wrap. 

Not to mention the two sticker sheets that kids can use to decorate the bus or whatever they want.

Is It Fun?

The amount of detail in this set is amazing! American Girl did such a good job not just with including a lot of fun accessories but including accessories that make sense to Joss's story and will prompt creative storytelling. Because this is such a large playset, it does come at a large price, so this is not something that every 8-year-old is going to get. Your average 8-year-old will be very lucky if she does get this to play with. Instead, this is probably going to be more of a collector's piece for older American Girl fans who want to add something really special to their collections. (Has there ever been an American Girl vehicle before?) 

Who It’s For

This toy is for ages 8 and up, although the price tag makes it more of a collector's item for older fans.

What To Be Aware Of

You'll need four AA and three AAA batteries, which are not included.

Adult assembly is required.

This is meant more as a collector's piece because of the high price tag.

  • Quality

  • Collectibility

  • Assembly & Instructions

    None or Very Easy

    4 AA & 3 AAA batteries required