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An original Strawberry Shortcake poster
|Created by||Muriel Fahrion|
Strawberry Shortcake is an American brand owned by Iconix Brand Group, originally used in greeting cards and expanded to include dolls, posters, and other products. The Strawberry Shortcake properties also include a toy line of the character's friends and pets. In addition, the franchise has spawned television specials, animated television series, and films.
- 1 History
- 2 1980s
- 3 2003 relaunch
- 4 Soundtracks
- 5 2009 relaunch
- 6 DHX series
- 7 Video games
- 8 Controversy
- 9 References and footnotes
- 10 External links
The original design of Strawberry Shortcake and her cat, Custard was done in 1979 by Muriel Fahrion during her time as a greeting card illustrator at American Greetings' Juvenile & Humorous card department. Fahrion then designed a subsequent 32 characters for Those Characters From Cleveland (American Greetings' toy & licensing design division).
In 1979, toy manufacturer, Kenner Products, licensed the character and released the first Strawberry Shortcake doll. At the time, Strawberry Shortcake resembled a typical rag doll, complete with freckles, a mop of red yarn curls, and a bonnet with strawberry prints on it. Cindy Mayer Patton and Janet Jones designed the other later characters of the classic Strawberry Shortcake line. Lynn Edwards was the editor of the line and developed the personality profiles as well as the story line and philosophy. The first doll was a rag doll designed by Muriel Fahrion and created by Susan Trentel, Fahrion's sister.
The Strawberry Shortcake line of characters each had their own fruit or dessert-themed name with clothing to match, and they each had a dessert- or fruit-named pet. Like the Strawberry Shortcake doll, all the other characters' dolls had hair scented to match their dessert theme. The characters lived and played in a magical world known as Strawberryland.
During the 1980s, Strawberry Shortcake became a huge fad for young girls throughout the United States. At the time, there were many related products, such as sticker albums, clothing, a video game by Parker Bros. entitled Strawberry Shortcake Musical Match-Ups for the Atari 2600 , and numerous other products. Several TV specials were made featuring the characters, one each year between 1980 and 1985, when the fad had waned. Kenner produced no new dolls or toys thereafter.
In 1991, THQ tried reviving the franchise by producing an updated line of Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Strawberry and five of her classic friends each got a makeover with new clothes, hair, and eyes. However, the line enjoyed at best a modest success, lasting just the one year.
In 2002, the franchise was revived again, this time with a revamped look by a different designer. Many strong licensing deals were made. A television series with new DVDs and VHSs (and in some markets, particularly those in Asia, Video CDs) were released. Soundtracks for the episodes were also released on CD at various intervals. DiC Entertainment was granted rights for producing the TV series. The company sub-licensed the production of videos, DVDs and Video CDs of the Strawberry Shortcake series to 20th Century Fox Home Videos. 20th Century Fox subsequently licensed the production of these videos outside of the U.S. to various other licensees.
Bandai (along with KellyToy) was granted the manufacturing rights of the Strawberry Shortcake dolls and toys. For the first time in almost two decades, new videogames were launched, produced by The Game Factory for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Educational CD-ROMs for the PC were also produced.
In 2006, Playmates Toys picked up the rights to manufacture and sell Strawberry Shortcake figurines. The line they produced was named "A World of Friends" and the doll "Frosty Puff" debuted in this new product line. Although a good deal of shuffling and redistribution took place concerning the pets of the re-launched Strawberry Shortcake characters, very few of the new dolls were actually merchandised with their respective pets.
A full-length feature film, Strawberry Shortcake: The Sweet Dreams Movie, premiered in 2006 and was released on DVD in February 2007.
The Playmates' new product line was met with mixed reactions from the series' fans; however, the line's public reception was generally negative. As a result, Playmates Toys lost the manufacturing rights to Hasbro, who began releasing new Strawberry Shortcake themed toys beginning in the fall of 2009, after American Greetings rebooted the franchise.
Hasbro eventually lost the manufacturing rights to The Bridge Direct in early 2014.
There is a bit of "wiggle room" in a few cases, between the introduction of a character, and their release as a doll. For instance, Raspberry Tart (the character) was introduced in 1980, with the first Strawberry Shortcake TV Special, alongside Huckleberry Pie, Apple Dumplin', etc., but was not released as a doll until the next year. The same is true of Strawberry Shortcake's nemesis, The Peculiar Purple Pie Man. Plum Puddin' also debuted in 1980, but would not get a doll until 1984, by which time the character had switched genders, and was now a girl. Moreover, with the exception of Apple Dumplin', Apricot, and The Purple Pie Man, none of the other characters would come packaged with pets (nor would most of them even be known to have pets) until the 1982 releases, when all the earlier-released characters were re-issued with their animal friends. A couple of the characters weren't produced as dolls at all, namely T.N. Honey, Raisin Cane, and Baby Needs-a-Name, who was only made as a larger-sized "Blow-Kiss" baby doll. Raisin Cane was introduced as the niece of villainess Sour Grapes in Issue #1 of Star Comics' (an imprint of Marvel Comics) short-lived Strawberry Shortcake Comic Book, and, as far as is known, was never considered for any kind of commercial merchandising.
- Berry Bake Shoppe
- Snail Cart (with Escargot The Snail)
- Berry-Shaped Carry Case
- Flitter-Bit the Butterfly
- Garden House (Gazebo)
- Big Berry Trolley
- Berry Merry Worm (Philbert Wormly III)
- Berry Happy Home
- Maple Stirrup and the Oatsmobile
1980s television specials
From 1980 through 1985, annual specials featuring Strawberry Shortcake were produced.
The 1980 and 1982 specials were animated by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson and Toei Doga, while the 1983, 1984 and 1985 specials were animated by Nelvana. The 1981 special was a unique case, animated by Perpetual Motion Pictures of New York.
Characters with their pets and homes
A major revamping took place at the characters' relaunch. Both Pupcake and Custard now belong to Strawberry Shortcake. In Pupcake's place, a new pet, Shoofly Frog, was introduced as Huckleberry Pie's pet, and Apple Dumplin' was relaunched as Strawberry Shortcake's sister. Also, Strawberryland is now divided into "districts" like Cakewalk, Orange Blossom Acres, Huckleberry Briar and Cookie Corners.
The 2003 revival of the franchise introduced fillies to the franchise. Each of the fillies are tied down to a character, with the main filly, Honey Pie Pony, being the only one able to talk and have a pet. However, when Playmates took over the dolls rights from Bandai, they decided to scrap the existing fillies and introduce new ones. However, the removal has not spread beyond the scope of the toy line.
2003 TV series
In 2003, the Strawberry Shortcake franchise was revived, and with it, a Strawberry Shortcake TV series was finally produced, 19 years after the last special. The series reflected the changes in the direction of the franchise, and has the primary focus on being an educational program. 44 episodes were produced, including four 45-minute specials.
The series is produced by DiC Entertainment and 20th Century Fox.
Theatrically released feature films
In October 2006, the first Strawberry Shortcake film, The Sweet Dreams Movie, was released in select cities by Kidtoon Films. The Peculiar Purple Pie-Man of Porcupine Peak and Sour Grapes, which were notably absent from the TV series, are re-introduced in the movie. However, Sour Grapes is re-introduced as Purple Pieman's sister in materials related to the Sweet Dreams Movie. The movie was released on DVD on February 6, 2007, and has also been aired on networks and released on DVD and VideoCDs worldwide.
To date, 8 CDs have been released by Koch records since the franchise's revival in 2003. These CDs are soundtrack CDs containing music from the TV series and DVDs, as well as one for the movie. Additionally, a CD was released along with a piano book.
In June 2008, American Greetings announced that Hasbro had won the license from Playmates, and with it they would relaunch the series again. The extensive relaunch involved numerous large redesigns and a reboot of the franchise's universe. The relaunch began in Summer 2009, with the release of a CGI movie, The Sky's the Limit, with Anna Cummer voicing Strawberry Shortcake. A TV series, Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures, debuted on October 10, 2010 on Discovery Family. 65 episodes were produced.
Merchandise of the 2009 relaunch began appearing in mid-2009.
The main characters of the show are Strawberry Shortcake, Lemon Meringue, Orange Blossom, Raspberry Torte, Plum Pudding, Blueberry Muffin, and Cherry Jam. Huckleberry Pie, who was reintroduced in the third season of Berry Bitty Adventures, also visits on occasion and Sweet and Sour Grapes, and Apple Dumpling who were introduced in the fourth season.
At The New York Toy Fair in 2014, it was learned that the toy-making license for Strawberry Shortcake had passed from Hasbro to a company called The Bridge Direct, makers of Pinkie Cooper and The Jet Set Pets dolls. The product shown appears to stay with the look of the 2009 Strawberry Shortcake relaunch, including several series of dolls featuring pets, doll furniture, and musical instruments.
- Strawberry Shortcake Berry Bitty Market
- Strawberry Shortcake Berry Stylish Play set
- Strawberry Shortcake Berry Sweet Dining Set
- Strawberry Shortcake Berry Cafe Play set
- Strawberry Shortcake Berry Princess Fashion Set
- Strawberry Shortcake Berry Fruity Salon
The first Strawberry Shortcake videogame was produced in 1983 for the Atari 2600. No further games based upon the franchise were produced until 20 years later, in 2003, with Strawberry Shortcake: Amazing Cookie Party for PC. Since then, games have been published for the Game Boy Advance, Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, PC, and Mac. A standalone plug-and-play game based on Konami's Dance Dance Revolution franchise was also produced. In addition, mobile apps for the iOS and Android platforms have been released.
American McGee's Strawberry Shortcake
In 2003, webcomic Penny Arcade posted an "advertisement" for an imaginary computer game, American McGee's Strawberry Shortcake—a parody of the actual computer game American McGee's Alice, a twisted and violent take on Lewis Carroll's works. American Greetings took offense to the parody and issued a cease-and-desist letter, to which the authors begrudgingly complied - but not without making their indignation very clear. A follow-up strip by Penny Arcade themselves cite bad timing as a contributing factor to the lawsuit, Holkins and Krahulik were not aware that American Greetings was about to relaunch the Strawberry Shortcake line at that time.
Some argue that Penny Arcade's case was not covered under the fair use doctrine because the use of the characters in this case was for satire; they claim that fair use only protects the unauthorized use of copyrighted characters in parodies of the original material, and that satire and parody are totally different concepts. Others, however, take the view that parody and satire are equally protected by law.
Ironically, Penny Arcade did not intend to offend American Greetings in the comic, but instead intended to mock American McGee and Mcfarlane Toys, who collaborated to create a toy line based on a twisted version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The poster also mocked American McGee's game, American McGee's Alice, a game with a dark and twisted take on Lewis Carroll's books, Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Various TV shows, including Futurama, Drawn Together, Robot Chicken, and South Park have since also parodied or satirized Strawberry Shortcake in various ways but have met no retaliation from American Greetings.
Cookie Jar's acquisition
On June 20, 2008, Cookie Jar Entertainment announced its intention to merge with DiC Entertainment, who holds the rights to the Strawberry Shortcake animated series. The merger was completed on July 23, 2008. On the same day as the finalization of the merger, Cookie Jar Entertainment announced further intentions to acquire the Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears franchises from American Greetings itself. The deal was expected to finalize on September 30, 2008. However, up until April 2009, there was no further word on the status of the acquisition.
In March 2009, it was announced that Cookie Jar delayed the acquisition back in December 2008 due to difficulty in financing the acquisition. It was also revealed that Cookie Jar offered US$195 million for the franchise. Due to the situation, American Greetings has put the franchise back on sale. It was also announced that French company MoonScoop has expressed interest and offered US$95 million for the franchise, US$100 million less than what was offered by Cookie Jar. Cookie Jar has announced intentions to compete against MoonScoop's bid, however. Cookie Jar had until the end of April 2009 to counter MoonScoop's bid.
This had led to various lawsuits between Cookie Jar, American Greetings and MoonScoop. American Greetings emerged as the victor of the case and retained ownership of the brands. However, Iconix Group has expressed interest in buying the Strawberry Shortcake brand from American Greetings in February 2015 for US$105 million, 10 million more than that was offered by Moonscoop. The deal apparently closed successfully.
References and footnotes
- Siegel-Itzkovich, Judy (2007-11-16). "Vacuous like cotton candy". Jerusalem Post. p. 38. Retrieved 2010-08-05. (registration required (. ))
- Coopee, Todd. "Then & Now: The 35-year Evolution of Strawberry Shortcake". ToyTales.ca.
- AG Properties Press Release announcing the change of licensor
- Atkinson, Claire (3 February 2015). "Strawberry Shortcake is new 'it' girl for Iconix". New York Post. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- Associated Press (3 February 2015). "Snoopy Owner Iconix to Buy Strawberry Shortcake for $105M". ABC News. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- Reid, Regan (17 May 2016). "DHX & Iconix cook up new Strawberry Shortcake series". Kidscreen. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
- Raymundo, Neil. "iOS Gets a Strawberry Shortcake Card Maker Dress Up Game". ToonBarn. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
- Dredge, Stuart. "Strawberry Shortcake makes Berry Best Friends with iOS and Android". Retrieved 8 December 2013.
- Penny Arcade! - Tart As A Double Entendre
- Penny Arcade! - Read It Before They Take Legal Action
- Holkins, Jerry; Krahulik, Mike (June 15, 2011). "Reprise". Penny Arcade. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Penny Arcade! - Blog, 21st April 2003
- firstamendmentcenter.org: Arts & First Amendment in Speech
- Drawn Together: The One Wherein There's A Big Twist (Part 2)
- The Berry Rude skit in the Robot Chicken episode Operation: Rich In Spirit
- The Girl Toys skit in the Robot Chicken episode Moesha Poppins
- Robot Chicken episode title Squaw Bury Shortcake
- South Park episode: Imaginationland (Part 2)
- Cookie Jar Entertainment announcement of the intention of merger with DiC
- Announcement of the closure of the merger
- Cookie Jar Entertainment's announcement of the intention to buy the franchise off American Greetings
- Deal for Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears revived - BusinessWeek
- "American Greetings wins case againset Moonscoop over Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears". cleveland.com. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
- "Sweet deal: Iconix buys Strawberry Shortcake brand". kidscreen.com. Retrieved 21 April 2015.