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|Born|| October 31, 1955
|Known for||Cabbage Patch Kids|
Roberts own account of how he invented the popular "Cabbage Patch Doll" (and its "adoption" marketing success, described below) is contradicted by numerous published references alleging that Mr. Roberts essentially copied the entire physical appearance of his dolls, copied the "adopt a baby" marketing innovation and other intellectual property belonging to a rural Kentucky lady, Martha Nelson Thomas; with whom Mr. Roberts had a prior documented relationship before introducing his own dolls. A Youtube video (noted below) describes Mr. Roberts coming to a legal settlement with Ms Thomas in 1985, which indicates his agreement with the allegation Ms Thomas had something coming to her from his success.
According to one published account of the alleged appropriation of Ms Thomas' work, the pre-existing relationship was this: Mr Roberts owned a retail gift shop somewhere near the home of a Kentucky doll artist named Martha Nelson Thomas. It is alleged that Mr Roberts purchased a number of "Little Doll Babies by Martha Nelson" from some place; and began "adopting" them to his gift shop customers for (much more) money. It is alleged that when Ms Thomas found out what prices Mr Roberts was charging, she refused to do any more business with him. It is alleged that Mr. Roberts wrote Ms Thomas and said, "If I can't sell your dolls, I'll sell some just like them."
What follows is Mister Roberts version of events leading up to the doll's creation. His story begins by placing him near the American Folk art movement of the late 1970s,[ambiguous] Roberts observed techniques involving the making of dolls from various materials. Influenced by the quilts that his mother made, he began experimenting with a quilted doll. After much experimentation, Roberts created a type of doll he called "Little People". Roberts and a small group of friends began to travel from state to state in the southeastern U.S. attending various folk art exhibitions. At these exhibitions, Roberts began selling these handcrafted dolls he called "babies". Going into business as Original Appalachian Artworks, Inc., Roberts started producing Little People in his hometown of Cleveland, at a converted medical clinic, which he rechristened "Babyland General Hospital".
Roberts would later create a series of country-inspired toy bears called The Furskin Bears.
- Tong, Judy (December 8, 2002). "Update: Xavier Roberts; Bigger Kids In the Garden". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- Hoffman, William, Fantasy: The Incredible Cabbage Patch Phenomenon. ISBN 0-87833-386-X
Vice, "The secret history of cabbage patch kids" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSk84zU1RuM
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