Cabbage Patch Kids dolls
Cabbage Patch Kids dolls are a range of popular children's dolls.
Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were created in 1978 by a student named Xavier Roberts. They were based on the story of babies being born in cabbage patches who need adopting by kind families, to avoid being stolen away by evil villain Lavendar McDade (and her assistants Cabbage Jack and Beau Weasel) and made to work in her gold mine.
Their backstory states that the babies were discovered by a ten year old boy called Xavier (named after the brand creator) who found them in a valley behind a waterfall. Normal cabbages are pollinated by Bunnybees (a creature mid-way between a rabbit and a bee) who sprinkle their crystals upon the cabbages to make the kids appear.
Once sprouted the Cabbage Patch babies go to live in Babyland General hospital until they find their prospective parents. The hospital is run by a stork named Colonel Casey and assisted by Otis Lee, the leader of the Cabbage Patch Kids.
Cabbage Patch Kids begun their retail lives under the label "Little People" and were then made entirely of cloth. They were sold by Xavier Roberts and a small group of associates from 1978 onwards, primarily at art and craft fairs. The rebranding to their current name occurred in 1982 when they were purchased by toy manufacturer Coleco. The new versions included hard vinyl heads, were 16" and were produced for seven years until the company went bankrupt in 1988. Their popularity peaked during these years, particularly in America where their trademark birth certificates and the option to name the babies made them somewhat unique.
From 1988 to 1994 the dolls were produced by Hasbro. Variants were introduced which included "Pretty Crimp and Curl" and "Splash 'n Tan kids" and "Birthday Kids." One of Hasbro's marketing strategies was to aim the products at younger children and so the dolls became smaller in size.
In 1994 the dolls were produced by Mattel which brought forth many changes in the brand. Some product ranges were made entirely of vinyl and earlier versions were re-released to coincide with the dolls' 15th anniversary. Many of the dolls were themed with themes ranging from the ability to play a musical instrument to being sports-themed - the most famous of these being the "OlympiKids"; a range inspired by the 1996 Olympics.
In 2003 the brand was taken over by large retail chain Toys 'R' Us. Changes for the brand in these years included the release of the largest dolls yet, at 18" and 20". Play Along, in partnership with QVC introduced a limited edition doll available only through the QVC shopping channel and subsequent partnerships were made including one with Carvel ice cream which sold the dolls with a lickable ice cream cornet.
In addition to the actual dolls, the cabbage Patch brand has produced music, films and children's clothing. Some of the more memorable merchandising includes a range of real baby nappies in 1983, a metal lunchbox and a set of US postage stamps in 1999.
Whilst modern day dolls cannot boast the popularity gained by their earlier 80s selves, the brand is still in force and in 2003 celebrated the appointing of first black president Barrack Obama with a replica of himself. All US presidents and vice presidents have been honoured in this way and the brand has also been victim to several parodies including Lettuce Head Kids and Garbage Pail Kids. The latter produced a range of trading cards and were sued for trademark infringement.
The Babyland General Hospital mentioned in the cabbage Patch kids backstory is also a real building - an old clinic converted by creator, Xavier Roberts. It is visited by fans of the brand and babies are 'birthed' hourly; some babies requiring the need for the facility intensive care unit or for a 'cabbage section'. The hospital has since been relocated to another location in Cleveland and remains a popular, free attraction.