Cabbage Patch Kids
Gleaned from http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/A433324
Many years ago, a young boy named Xavier happened upon an enchanted Cabbage Patch, where he found very special Little People who called themselves Cabbage Patch Kids. To help fulfil the Cabbage Patch Kids' dream of having families with whom to share their love, Xavier set about building a special place known as BabyLand General, where the Kids remain until each is chosen for adoption. Won't you adopt a Cabbage Patch Kid and fill a little heart with love?1
While Cabbage Patch Kids (CPKs) are still on the market today, most people think of them as a fad from the 1980s.
Little People - The Original Cabbage Patch Kids
The original CPKs weresoft-sculptured dolls called "Little People" first made in 1978 in Cleveland, Georgia (USA). Xavier Roberts2 and some friends formed a company called Original Appalachian Artworks, Inc., and opened Babyland General Hospital.
Each of the Little People was one-of-a-kind, and came with it's own birth certificate. Little People were "adopted" at craft fairs; at first for $30-40, later for as much as $125-300 as their popularity soared.
History of the Cabbage Patch Kid
In 1982, Coleco was licensed to mass-produce the Little People, and they were renamed as Cabbage Patch Kids. These new CPKs had vinyl heads rather than the soft-sculptured heads of the Little People, but the facial features remained similar. They were also 16 inches tall, considerably smaller than the Little People. The dolls came in a box containing an envelope with adoption papers featuring the doll's 'name' and 'birthdate', as well as an adoption oath for the proud new owner to recite. Also enclosed was an adoption registration form - if the new parent sent this in to Coleco, an adoption certificate would be received, as would a birthday card one year later.
By 1983, the Cabbage Patch Kid frenzy was in full swing - over 3 million dolls were sold that year. In 1984, Coleco added Cabbage Patch 'Preemies' and 'Koosas' to their line, and sold approximatley 20 million dolls over the course of the year. The 'Preemies' were 13 inch dolls designed to look like infants, and many of the boxes contained information on real-life preemies from theMarch of Dimes. At this point, demand was far outweighing the supply, so Coleco licensed four foreign manufacturers to produce Cabbage Patch Kids. During 1985 and 1986, Coleco produced and marketed several lines of 'specialty kids', such as the Twins, World Travelers, and Young Astronauts. By 1986, the demand had decreased, and the foreign manufacturers were no longer producing CPKs. From 1987 to 1989, Coleco tried desperately to revive the market (and their finances) with gimmicks such as talking or burping dolls. Hasbro took over the line in 1989, after buying out Coleco Industries. Hasbro continued the practice of marketing kids with gimmicks, creating CPKs like those that were poseable or could blow into a kazoo. Hasbro gradually began focusing on a younger market, leading them to produce smaller and more easily washable dolls. By 1992, the largest CPKs were 14 inches tall. While Cabbage Patch Kids were still the number one selling large doll (i.e., not Barbies) in the United States, collectors and consumers became dissastisfied with the direction Hasbro had taken the line.
In 1994,Mattel took over the Cabbage Patch license, and Mattel still makes Cabbage Patch Kids today. When Mattel released the '15th Anniversary Kid' in 1998, there was a resurgence in the Cabbage Patch collectors market, as many young adults suddenly remembered the dolls from their childhood. Mattel has also produced battery operated dolls that 'eat' or talk, and at one point was selling custom Cabbage Patch Kids on their website.
Today, Original Appalachian Artworks still makes the soft-sculptured Cabbage Patch Kids, who currently retail new for between US$200-400.
During the 'boom years' of the Cabbage Patch craze, Coleco farmed out production to several overseas companies. Some of the CPKs manufactured by non-American companies were sold in the United States, and others were sold in European or Asian countries in bilingual boxes. As the "foreign kids" were more rare, they tend to be of a higher value as collector's items. Foreign kids were also more likely to have freckles, and the freckles also tended to be darker than the freckles on American produced CPKs. Some of the French Canadian CPKs even came in fur coats!
The boxes the CPKs are sold in have also changed with the manufacturers, getting progressively smaller and more compact as time goes on.
The age, manufacturer, and authenticity of a Cabbage Patch can generally be ascertained by a quick look at the doll's left butt-cheek. There should be a signature and date, and the colour of the signature corresponds to the year/manufacturer/model:
Types of Cabbage Patch Kids
One of the features that made the Cabbage Patch kids so popular was that each doll seemed to be unique. With variations in head mold, eyes, hair colour and style, and clothing, it is extremely difficult to find two dolls who look exactly alike. Add in the fact that each doll was given a first and middle name, and it's easy to see why the dolls were considered to be unique individuals. From the beginning, Cabbage Patch Kids have been produced as white ('Caucasian') and black ('African American') dolls. In the late 1980s, Asian dolls were added by Coleco and Hasbro, and Mattel branched out to offering dolls of a wide variety of ethnicities in the 1990s.
Thehead mold dictates the facial features and expressions of the Cabbage Patch Kid. Some CPKs have dimples, or teeth, or (removable) pacifiers - all of these features are dictated by the head mold. For those CPKs manufactured by Coleco, which head mold was used can have a significant impact on the current value of the doll.
After #8, the head molds get progressivelyuglier and uglier. Not surprisingly, these dolls tend not to be worth has much as those with the earlier head molds.
Besides the variation in head molds, CPKs also came with a variety of eye sizes and colours. Some CPKs had small eyes, others had large ones. The most common eye colours were blue, green, and brown, but CPKs with violet eyes were also produced.
While some Cabbage Patch Kids are "baldies", most CPKs have yarn hair. Cabbage Patch Kids have been produced with black, brown, light brown3, blond4, red, and orange hair. Not surprisingly, there is a wider variation among hairstyles in the girl dolls than in the boys. Infant CPKs sometimes have a single tuft, rather than a full head of yarn hair. Hairstyle is another factor that can influence the value of a CPK to a collector.
Hairstyles on boy Cabbage Patch Kids have included:
Hairstyles on girl Cabbage Patch Kids have included:
The original Coleco CPKs came in one of 8 clothing styles: romper, dress with tights or matching undies, jogging suit, football uniform, bib overalls and shirt, footed sleeper, snowsuit, or windbreaker and jeans. Each of these styles of clothing came in a considerable variety of colours and fabrics. All of the CPKs also came dressed in a disposable diaper, white socks, and vinyl shoes.
After the initial success of the Cabbage Patch Kids in the early 1980s, Coleco managed to keep demand growing by producing and marketing limited editionspecialty kids. The most common were the Twins, but there were also Circus Kids, Young Astronaut kids, and World Travelers.
Cabbage Patch Animals?
Continuing to capitalise on the Cabbage Patch market, Coleco produced theKoosas and the Furskins. The Koosas actually had construction similar to that of the Cabbage Patch Kids, and mildly resembled cats, dogs, and lions. Each Koosa came with a collar and license tag, along with a certificate that could be sent in to Coleco for a free sticker with your Koosa's name on it so that the tag could be personalised. The Furskins were a countrified family of bears, and never really made much on an impact on the market. There were also the Cabbage Patch Show Ponies, which were often packaged or marketed with CPKs dressed in cowboy/cowgirl outfits.
Cabbage Patch Kids as Collectibles
Twenty years ago, Cabbage Patch Kids were simply the latest hot toy for children. While children still buy new CPKs every year, most CPKs are owned by collectors. It's not unheard of for an avid collector to haverooms and rooms filled with Cabbage Patch Kids. Many of these collectors trace their CPK roots to the early CPK crazes of the 1980s. Some were children then, and now remember their first CPK as a beloved doll. Others were parents, who quickly become more engrossed in the craze for CPKs than their children were, and realised that dolls purchased and stored without opening might be valuable decades later.
There are also many special Cabbage Patchorphanages for 'unwanted' Cabbage Patch Kids. The 'unwanted' CPKs are generally the ones that are in too poor of a condition to attract collectors, or do not have their boxes or papers. These orphanages may find their dolls at garage sales or the local Goodwill, or may receive them as donations. Most of the orphanages have a small 'doll hospital' on site, where incoming dolls are cleaned up and repaired if need be. These dolls can then be 'adopted' for a low fee (generally under US$25) by the public.
How much are they worth?
A collector might pay a few thousand dollars for a rare soft-sculptured doll, or as much as a few hundred for one of more rare types of mass market CPKs. Thevalue of a CPK depends on many things, including:
At any given moment, there are generally a couple hundred Cabbage Patch items up for auction onEbay5. The CPKs for sale on Ebay are usually accompanied by pictures, which allows the potential buyer to assess for his or herself the type and condition of the doll. Given that some of those selling the dolls have a limited understanding of 'CPK terminology', this is a good thing - it's not unusual for a doll to be advertised by a seller as having 'popcorn' hair, when it's truly a 'loops' or 'poodle' style. Some abbreviations commonly used when describing CPKs for sale to collectors are:
The Takeoff - Garbage Pail KidsGarbage Pail Kids originated as a trading card series, largely aimed at boys who were disgusted with their sisters' Cabbage Patch Kids. The cards focused on the bodily functions and other general 'grossiosities' that young boys are so excited by, with characters like 'Windy Mindy', who is shown blowing out the birthday candles with some natural gas, and 'Leaky Lindsay', a girl dripping snot down to the floor. Even now, there are still Garbage Pail Kid fans around the world.6 Frighteningly enough, the trend even spawned a movie.
For Further Reading...
For those diehard collectors who want more details on the different types of CPKs, or the art of appraising them as collector's items, many of the links above are good resources. For an offline resource, the most comprehensive books are the "Encyclopedia of Cabbage Patch Kids" books by Jan Lindenberger and Judy Morris. There are two books - one covering the 1980s and another for the 1990s. Both are excellent books with wonderful pictures and incredible amounts of detail.
1 This "story" was on the back of the box for the first Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids, and still appears on most CPK boxes today.
2 Xavier's signature is, still today, imprinted on the left butt-cheek of every Cabbage Patch doll.
3 This hair colour has been alternatively referred to as tan, butterscotch, honey, mustard, and dirty blond.
4 This hair colour is often referred to as lemon.
5 Ebay is one of the bigger online auction sites.
6 In some countries, they are referred to as the Garbage Gang, rather than as the Garbage Pail Kids.