Cabbage Patch Kids

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Cabbage Patch Kids
Cabbage patch kids logo.gif
Type Dolls
Inventor Debbie Morehead and Xavier Roberts[1]
Company Coleco (1982-1988)
Hasbro (1988-1994)
Mattel (1994-2003)
Toys "R" Us (2003)
Play Along (2004-)
Country United States
Availability 1978–present
Official website

Cabbage Patch Kids are a line of dolls created by American art student Xavier Roberts in 1978. It was originally called "Little People". The original dolls were all cloth and sold at local craft shows, then later at Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia.[2] The doll brand went on to become one of the most popular toy fads of the 1980s and one of the longest-running doll franchises in America.[3]

Cabbage Patch universe [edit]

The Cabbage Patch Kids brand of products originally started as dolls called Little People, created by Xavier Roberts with the help of four women, and inspired by Tennessee artisan Martha Nelson.[4][5]

The name change to Cabbage Patch Kids was instigated by Roger Schlaifer before he secured the worldwide licensing rights to "Little People", and was the basis of the story co-authored in 1982 by Roger and his wife, Susanne Nance Schlaifer.[6] An abbreviated version of the story was reproduced on every Cabbage Patch Kids product from 1983 onward. Parker Brothers published the original story retitled "Xavier's Fantastic Discovery" in 1984 and their Parker Records produced a Gold Album using the characters. The characters appeared in many other Cabbage Patch merchandising products ranging from animated cartoons to board games.

Xavier Roberts was created as a ten-year-old boy who discovered the Cabbage Patch Kids by following a BunnyBee behind a waterfall into a magical valley, where he found the Cabbage Patch babies being born. To keep them from falling into the clutches of the evil Lavendar McDade (and being enslaved in her gold mine), he sought to get them adopted into the homes of loving families outside of Mount Yonah.

BunnyBees are bee-like creatures with rabbit ears they use as wings. They pollinate cabbage blossoms with the magic crystals to make Cabbage Patch babies.

Colonel Casey is a large stork who oversees Babyland General Hospital. He's the narrator of the Cabbage Patch Kids' story.

Otis Lee is the leader of the gang of Cabbage Patch Kids that befriended Xavier.

Lavendar McDade is an evil old woman who wants to enslave the Cabbage Patch Kids in her gold mine.

Cabbage Jack is a large jack rabbit, and henchman of Lavendar.

Beau Weasel is a large weasel and accomplice of Cabbage Jack.

Production history[edit]

Coleco years[edit]

The dolls attracted the attention of toy manufacturer Coleco, who began mass-production in 1982.[7] The Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids had large, round vinyl heads, (originally of a different, hard plastic), and soft fabric bodies, and were produced from 1982 to 1989, many at a factory in Gloversville, New York. After Coleco went filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy,[8] the Cabbage Patch Kids were later mass-produced by other companies, including Hasbro, Mattel, Toys R Us, and currently Play Along. Mattel started producing them after canceling production of My Child dolls.

At the peak of their popularity, the dolls were a must-have toy for Christmas.[9][10] Parents across the United States flocked to stores to try to obtain one of the Cabbage Patch Kids for their children, with fights occasionally erupting between parents over the hard-to-find dolls. In later years, Coleco introduced variants on the original Cabbage Patch Kids, and derivatives of the original line of dolls continued to be marketed.

Hasbro years[edit]

Hasbro took over the rights to produce Cabbage Patch dolls in 1988 as Coleco went bankrupt, and continued to make the dolls with various gimmicks, including dolls that played kazoos. Some of the more popular doll lines to come out under the Cabbage Patch Kids name included the "Birthday Kids", "Splash 'n' Tan Kids", and "Pretty Crimp and Curl". Hasbro gradually began making the dolls for younger children, which led to smaller and smaller dolls. Although Cabbage Patch dolls were still best selling toys, Hasbro never really revitalized the Cabbage Patch market. In 1994, Mattel purchased the rights to the dolls.

Mattel years[edit]

In 1994, Mattel took over the Cabbage Patch brand, including production.

The Mattel Cabbage Patch dolls are not limited to cloth bodies and included dolls made from vinyl, which produced a more durable play doll. The Mattel dolls are mostly sized 14" or smaller, and most variants were individualized with a gimmick to enhance their collectibility, e.g. some dolls played on water-toys, swam, ate food, or brushed their teeth.

Some memorable Mattel lines include the updated Kids line of basic cloth dolls that came with birth certificates, the OlympiKids that were made to coincide with the 1996 Olympics, and the Cabbage Patch Fairies. Additionally, to celebrate the dolls' 15th anniversary, Mattel created a line of exclusively female dolls, dressed in period outfits and packaged in collectible boxes. These were the first Mattel dolls to be 16 inches tall, the same measurement of the original Cabbage Patch Kids.

Toys "R" Us Kids[edit]

In 2001, retailer Toys "R" Us took over the Cabbage Patch brand from Mattel, producing 20-inch Kids and 18-inch babies, both with cloth bodies and vinyl heads. They were packaged in cardboard cabbage leaf seats. In 2001, the 20-inch dolls debuted in the Times Square flagship store. These were created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the line, and were available both online and in stores around the US.

Play Along Kids[edit]

The Toys "R" Us line lasted until Play Along toys obtained exclusive licensing rights to produce the Cabbage Patch Kids doll line. In 2003, Play Along started a partnership with QVC to launch each new line with a special QVC limited edition keepsake edition doll, which was only available from QVC. Their biggest project was the launch of the Cabbage Patch Kids 25th Anniversary collection, which also added Carvel Ice Cream to the mix as a marketing partner to bring the celebration aspect to the silver anniversary. To signify this synergy, a Carvel-branded ice cream cone was included in every package that symbolized the silver anniversary celebration.

Jakks Pacific[edit]

JAKKS Pacific is the master toy licensee (c2011) for the Cabbage Patch Kids and the company's new Cabbage Patch Kids Fashionality(TM) line and other Cabbage Patch Kid products. In 2013 Jakks Pacific released the limited edition Vintage Kids range celebrating the 30th Birthday of Cabbage Patch Kids. These dolls were scented with baby powder and more true in look to the original Coleco dolls..

Cabbage Patch Kids brand[edit]

The original 1982 Cabbage Patch Kids license agreement with Coleco Industries was negotiated and signed by Roger L. Schlaifer on behalf of Schlaifer Nance & Company, the exclusive worldwide licensing agency for Roberts' company.

SN&C president Roger Schlaifer was responsible for originating the name, designing all of the graphics and packaging, as well as co-authoring, with his wife Susanne Nance, "The Legend of the Cabbage Patch Kids." Following Schlaifer Nance & Company's signing of Coleco Industries, SN&C signed over one hundred and fifty licenses for branded products ranging from the first children's diapers and low-sugar cereal to clothing, backyard pools, and thousands of other children's products — generating over $2 billion in retail sales for 1984, alone. Total sales during the Schlaifers' tenure exceeded $4.5 billion. After SN&C sold its exclusive licensing rights to Roberts' company, rights to the dolls were acquired by Hasbro and a succession of other toy companies. While sales of the dolls and other licensed products declined precipitously since the sale, the dolls have become a mainstay of the toy industry, and one of the few long-running doll brands in history.

Porcelain Cabbage Patch Kids[edit]

These dolls are available by direct mail from the Danbury Mint. They have a rigid fabric body with porcelain legs, arms, and head.

Talking Cabbage Patch Kids[edit]

A notable extension to the line was the "Talking Cabbage Patch Kid", equipped with a voice chip, touch sensors, and an infrared device for communicating with other such dolls. The touch sensors enabled the toy to detect when and how the toy was being played with in response to its vocalizations, e.g. the doll might say "hold my hand" and give an appropriate speech response when the touch sensor in the hand detected pressure. A more remarkable effect occurred when one doll detected the presence of another through its IR transmitter/receiver. The dolls were programmed to signal their "awareness" of each other with a short phrase, e.g. "I think there's someone else to play with here!", and then to initiate simple conversations between the dolls themselves with enough randomness to sound somewhat natural.

The product success was limited; some reasons offered at the time[citation needed] were the high price of the item ($100 or more), the need to have multiple dolls to take advantage of the full conversational effect, for some people the spookiness of having dolls converse with each other without human intervention, and the limited play value of a talking doll over its silent counterpart.

Babyland General Hospital[edit]

Babyland General Hospital is the "birthplace" of Cabbage Patch Kids and is located in Cleveland, Georgia. Roberts converted an old clinic into a retail unit and mini theme park from which to sell his dolls, originally called "Little People". The facility is presented as a birthing, nursery, and adoption center for premium Cabbage Patch Kids. In accordance with the theme, employees dress and act the parts of the doctors and nurses caring for the dolls as if they are real neonates. Although the initial fad surrounding the dolls has largely died down, Babyland General is still heavily trafficked by diehard fans, tourists, and curiosity seekers. One recent find is a doll that wears a bathing suit and talks. The bathing suit is blue and green with the initials CPK printed on the fabric. She talks and says things like: "love to swim". She has a belly button that can be pressed to make her talk, and has two metal pieces in the foot that make her talk and laugh. The fact that so many visit Babyland each year speaks to the timeless enduring qualities of these special "kids."

Controversies and hoaxes[edit]

Cabbage Patch Kids were parodied by the Garbage Pail Kids trading cards. The parody led Xavier Roberts to sue Topps, the maker of Garbage Pail Kids, for trademark infringement.[11][12]

One line of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, the Cabbage Patch Kids Snacktime Kids, was designed to "eat" plastic snacks. The mechanism enabling this was a pair of one-way metal rollers behind a plastic slot and rubber lips, and the snacks would exit the doll's back into a backpack. They did not have an on-off switch and the mechanism was activated by putting the snacks, or potentially other objects, between the lips and into the slot.[13] They were popular during Christmas 1996. The line was voluntarily withdrawn from the market following an agreement between Mattel and the Consumer Product Safety Commission in January 1997 following several incidents where children got their fingers or hair stuck in the dolls' mouths, which led to safety warnings from Connecticut's consumer protection commissioner, Mark Shiffrin.[14]

Cabbage Patch Kids urban legends include rumors that owners sending dolls to the manufacturer for repairs are issued death certificates, and that they were designed to desensitize the public to the appearance of mutated children born in the aftermath of a nuclear war.[15]

Timeline[edit]

  • 1978 - The first "Little People Originals" were delivered by Xavier Roberts, who incorporated Original Appalachian Artworks, Inc.
  • 1981 - There was coverage of the dolls' popularity in Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and Atlanta Weekly.
  • 1982 - Original Appalachian Artworks, Inc. signed a long term licensing agreement with the licensing and creative development company Schlaifer Nance & Company to create a new brand for their Little People, soft sculpture property. Schlaifer signed Coleco Industries to produce the dolls in August 1982.
  • 1983 - Cabbage Patch Kids were introduced with great fanfare at the International Toy Fair in NYC. By October, riots were occurring in stores around the country. The dolls made the cover of Newsweek before Christmas and stories of their success were heralded around the world.
  • 1984 - Sales for Cabbage Patch Kids branded products, from toys to children's apparel, came close to the record setting $2 billion mark. The CPK record produced by the Chapin Brothers for Parker Brothers' music went Gold and Platinum.
  • 1985 - Cabbage Patch Kids low-sugar breakfast cereal and real children's diapers were introduced. The Cabbage Patch Kids Christmas Special was number one in its time slot on ABC.
  • 1986 - The first talking Cabbage Patch Kids.
  • 1988: Original Appalachian Artworks buys the licensing rights for Cabbage Patch Kids from Schlaifer Nance & Company. Cabbage Patch doll licensee, Coleco Industries, filed for bankruptcy, but dolls continued to be made, the contract going to Hasbro Industries and later to Mattel.
  • 1992 - Cabbage Patch Kids were named the official mascot of the 1992 US Olympic team and members of the team were given their own dolls to take to the games.
  • 1996 - The Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids were released.
  • 1999 - Popular vote[ambiguous] selected the dolls as one of the 15 commemorative US postage stamps representing the 1980s.
  • 2008 - All US Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates had their own Cabbage Patch Kids. Barack Obama was depicted with a blue suit. John McCain was depicted in a suit with grey hair. Joseph Biden was also depicted in a suit with his hair slicked up. Sarah Palin was depicted in a trademark suit and skirt with high heeled pumps. Also, Palin's signature hair and eyeglasses were featured.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tong, Judy (2002-12-08). "UPDATE: XAVIER ROBERTS; Bigger Kids In the Garden". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  2. ^ "Our History". Babyland General Hospital. Archived from the original on February 18, 2008. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Top 10 Toy Crazes". Time. 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  4. ^ Mondout, Patrick. "Questioning the 'Kids Ancestry". Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  5. ^ Joyce, Fay S. "Cabbage Patch Kids Spur A Battle Over Parentage." The New York Times, December 6, 1983.
  6. ^ Schlaifer, R. a. (1981). Xavier's Fantastic Discovery. Parker Bothers.
  7. ^ "Cleveland's Cabbage Patch Kids turn 25". AccessNorthGA.com. 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  8. ^ "Cabbage Patch Doll Maker Is Bankrupt". Los Angeles Times. 1988-07-12. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  9. ^ DeMott, John S.; Bureaus, Other; Byrnes, Rosemary (1984-12-10). "Booming Sales in Toyland". Time. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  10. ^ "TOYS: Trouble in the Cabbage Patch". Time. 1988-05-16. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  11. ^ "Copyrights: Trouble in the Garbage Pail". Time. 1986-03-17. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  12. ^ "AROUND THE NATION; Judge Rules in Case Of Garbage Pail Kids". The New York Times. 1986-08-30. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  13. ^ "$40 Refund Is Offered for Hair-Eating Dolls". The New York Times. 1997-01-07. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  14. ^ "Mattel and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Announce Voluntary Refund Program for Cabbage Patch Kids & Snacktime Kids Dolls". United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. 1997-01-06. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  15. ^ Urban Legends Reference Pages: Cabbage Patch Dolls
  16. ^ "Sarah Palin becomes a Cabbage Patch Kid". MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]