Cabbage Patch Kid

Cabbage Patch Kids

The Cabbage Patch kids phenomenon took the world by storm - overnight, it seemed, those strange little people were everywhere. And now, more than 30 years later, they're still popular.

It all began with a young American art student called Xavier Roberts. He had the idea of experimenting with the almost forgotten art of cloth sculpture making a three dimensional image from a flat piece of fabric.

Xavier created a series of dolls which he called 'Little People'. They were an instant success. In 1978 he formed the Original Appalachian Artworks Inc., using an old clinic in Georgia as a showroom and renaming it Babyland General Hospital.

Today this is a great tourist draw, attracting thousands of visitors who come to see the 'babies' being born - delivered from inside a mother cabbage by a uniformed .

The OAA dolls had cloth  sculptured heads and hand painted faces. Xavier realised he was onto a winner, if only he could think of a way of manufacturing his dolls more quickly and less expensively.

Obviously, the answer was to mass-produce, using vinyl for the heads (the tricky bit), and cloth for the bodies which didn't need so much sculpting.

Xavier joined forces with Coleco Industries, and by 1983 the dolls were in production, now called Cabbage Patch Kids.

With great flair for merchandising, Xavier announced that every doll was different and dreamt up the cabbage patch story line, (as opposed to the British tradition of gooseberry bushes!) Perhaps the biggest selling point was that each baby came with an adoption certificate and its own special name.

Millions of people were enthralled by the idea of owning a unique cloth baby, and little girls were enchanted to know that their doll was the only one of its kind in the whole wide world.

Cabbage Patch Kids

Today, most people know what a Cabbage Patch Kid looks like, but at the time they were revolutionary.

The Kids had transfer character eyes which came in a variety of colours including blue, grey, brown, hazel, green and black.

 Many head moulds were produced, so you could choose your ethnic group, decide whether you wanted a boy, girl or baby, and then select nose shape, dimples, freckles, eye colour, hair colour and style, teeth, and shape of mouth - the permutations were endless.

What pleased every small girl was the fact that Cabbage Patch Kids had belly buttons! Not small, neat ones, either, but satisfying round lumps.

 People fell into two schools - they either loved the dolls or loathed them; it seemed there was no middle of the road.

Some thought the quirky smiles, cuddly bodies and wide-open 'hug-me' arms endearing, but others called the faces grotesque and disliked the adoption gimmick, which they felt was a slur on children who really needed to be found homes.

Each Cabbage Patch Kid came with adoption papers, and new owners were meant to raise their right hand and say 'I promise to love my Cabbage Patch Kid with all my heart.

 I promise to be a good and kind parent. I will always remember how special my Cabbage Patch Kid is to me', in front of a witness. Later, the promise was altered to make owners remember that 'being different is what makes us so special.'

It seems that people took the promises lightly, going by the vast numbers of second-hand Cabbage Patch Kids around.

It's easy to check the date of a Cabbage Patch Kid by looking at its bottom! There you'll find the signature of Xavier Roberts, and, often, a date.

The ink colours changed each year, the earliest being black (no date). Other colours included green, blue, red, purple and aqua.

The dolls also bear labels in their sides which state details of manufacturer, because Coleco licensed other companies to make them too, such as Jesmar (Spain), Triang Pedigree (South Africa), Tsukuda (Japan) and Lily Ledi (Mexico).

 In 1989, Hasbro took over the licensing agreement from Coleco, launching several new lines. Mattel began producing and marketing the Kids in 1995, and still make the dolls today.

Amongst their creations are Face Painting, Brushin' Teeth, Haircut Magic, Splash 'n' Fun Baby, Garden Flower Fairies and the notorious Snack time models which were withdrawn following complaints that the dolls had tried to eat children's hair! Mattel have also introduced mini Cabbage Patch Kids with beanie-type  bodies.

Many of the modern dolls are all vinyl, constructed with swivel heads, arms and legs like a conventional doll, though they still have the famous navels. Cabbage Patch Babies smell deliciously of baby powder.

Clothing for the Cabbage Patch Kids either bears a logo or has the letters 'CPK' woven into the fabric, and shoes are normally marked on the soles.

The dolls are surface washable. It's probably not a good idea to wash the yarn hair unless it is really grubby, as it might tangle.

There are so many of them about, that it's best to wait until a clean, attractive doll in original Nothing comes along, rather than to corner too much about the tatty examples found in jumble boxes - though it's possible to get a great deal of pleasure from renovating these tired specimens and making them clean and tidy again.

If you prefer to buy new, then toy shops have a tremendous range of Mattel Cabbage Patch Kids, and though they will probably never be valuable, they are attractive.

Animals live in Cabbage Patch world too they are called Koosas, and include tigers, lions, dogs and cats.

Porcelain models of the dolls are available in the States, as are many other varieties which don't seem to make their way to Britain.

The Kids have a much greater following in America, which is why it's still possible - at the moment - to pick up bargains over here.

Cabbage Patch Kids
Those very first dolls made by Xavier, hand-signed, now command thousands of dollars, while many of the later, cloth-faced editions are valuable too. OAA still makes dolls with cloth faces, and Hasbro produced a special limited 10th Anniversary edition in 1992 which featured cloth heads.

Recently Beanie giant Ty introduced 'Beanie Kids', which bear a slight resemblance to Cabbage Patch dolls, though, unlike Xavier, can't boast that every one is different.beanie Kid

Worlds away from the beauty of antique porcelain dolls, Cabbage Patch Kids  have a friendly, kid-from-next-door appearance.

 If you're looking for colorful and cheerful collectible dolls, then these are for you. And just think, if every Kid is different, they must be the ultimate in limited editions!

Collectibles Coach

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