Do you know what Cabbage Patch dolls are? You might have heard of them before in conversation, mass media, or just come across listings for them online. If you’re not familiar with them, keep reading to learn a brief overview about them.
Known formally as Cabbage Patch Kids, they are a lineup of creatures soft-sculptured as toy dolls. Xavier Roberts started them up, registering them in 1978 with the United States federal copyright office.
This doll brand wound up being one of the more popular toy fads that happened in the 1980s. They went to be one of the country’s longest-running doll franchises as well. The various characters showed up in a lot of other merchandising products under the Cabbage Patch name, including board games, record albums, and animated cartoons.
Roberts was 21 years old as an art student when he developed these initially. He used quilting techniques he’d picked up from his mother, as well as the historical technique of needle molding. He initially called them The Little People. Instead of offering them for sale, anyone buying them paid an adoption fee to get the birth certificate and individual name. They were very reminiscent of soft-sculpture dolls going back to the 1800s.
The Little People first saw sales at various arts and crafts shows. Roberts and various friends that became employees wound up converting an old medical clinic into a toy store in the Georgia town of Cleveland. They named it Babyland General Hospital.
The actual name of Cabbage Patch Kids started in 1982. That was when Roberts’ company, named Original Appalachian Artworks, started licensing smaller versions of their handmade creations to Coleco. This toy manufacturer started mass production later that year, making them from 1982 up until 1989, mostly at a factory in the New York community of Amsterdam. During the peak popularity of the Coleco years, these dolls were must-haves for Christmas toys. Parents from coast to coast would flock to stores trying to find any of them, with numerous fights resulting over them.
The craze for them went international, and other companies had to step up to fulfill other markets. Jesmar Toy Company handled the market in Europe, especially West Germany, Italy, and Spain. South America and Mexico markets were covered by Lili Ledy Toy Company, whereas Triang-Pedigree Toy company made these dolls for the market of South Africa. Asian markets, notably Japan, were handled by Tsukuda Toy Company. These international dolls were all made with slight variations from one another, and to this day, even domestic collectors think international dolls are of higher value.
Coleco wound up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1988, and Hasbro assumed the rights for making Cabbage Patch dolls. They rolled out various new lines, dolls for younger kids, and smaller dolls. The dolls were still best-sellers, but in six years, Hasbro never really brought new life to this market.
In 1994, Original Appalachian Artworks gave the licensing rights for the dolls to Mattel. These started hitting the market in 1995, and they also had six years, as Toys “R” Us took over in 2001.
If you ever come across Cabbage Patch dolls at yard sales, estate auctions, or even Goodwill stores and flea markets, you might want to check them out. Verify their authenticity if you can, and then look up their prices online based on condition. You might be able to make a few bucks selling them online to the still ravenous collector base.
Now that you’ve read this article, you know what Cabbage Patch dolls are, and a bit about their history. The collector market is definitely aging, and younger generations might not even be familiar with them. However, they are still licensed and produced, with new ones hitting the retail shelves every year. You never know when you might inherit a box of them or find them deep in a basement, attic, garage, or closet. If they’re still in good to great condition, remember these are by story orphans who need and deserve good homes, so list them online if you can, as many homes are wanting to help these kids join their families where they will be cherished and preserved for many more decades to come.