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Cabbage Patch Kids

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Cabbage Patch Kids

 

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This one is a marketing mystery of how it became another one of the top-selling and most popular toys of the 80s; actually they were kind of a fad peaking in the1983-1985 period.The year of 1983, could be named the year of Cabbage Patch Kids craze, when people were literally fighting to get one. At their popularity peak they were a must-have toy for Christmas; and p arents across the United States flocked to stores to try to obtain one for their children, with fights occasionally erupting between parents over the hard-to-find dolls

It is probable that these characters became so popular thanks to a great marketing campaign rather than the attention the product itself created. It can be called a marketing miracle, since they appeared in many other Cabbage Patch merchandising products ranging from animated cartoons, to board games.

They were created originally as dolls called Little People by Xavier Roberts with the help of four other women and inspired by Tennessee artisan, Martha Nelson in 1978. In the beginning, they had been the subjects of an art exhibition of Roberts. He used German fabric sculpting and quilting methods to produce the so called Little People, which he'd sell at various arts and crafts fairs to substitute his art school fees.

Later Roger Schlaifer secured the worldwide licensing rights to Little People and changed their name to Cabbage Patch Kids. In 1982 they attracted the attention of toy the company Coleco, thus negotiating with Roger L. Schlaifer on behalf of Schlaifer Nance & Company, the exclusive worldwide licensing agency for Roberts' company.
who began mass-production immediately after that, giving an unexpected boost with an appearance on the reality TV show Real People in the US.

Roger Schlaifer was responsible for originating the name, designing all of the graphics and packaging. Together with his wife Susanne Nance, co-authored The Legend of the Cabbage Patch Kids. The story was reproduced, in abbreviated version, on every Cabbage Patch Kids product from 1983. Parker Brothers published the original story retitled Xavier's Fantastic Discovery in 1984 and their Parker Records produced a Gold Album using the characters.

The Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids (1982-1989) had large, round vinyl heads, (originally of a different, hard plastic), and soft fabric bodies, and were produced at a factory in Amsterdam, New York.

It was such a success that in 1984 they generated over $2 billion in retail sales. Total sales during the Schlaifers' tenure exceeded $4.5 billion. Later SN&C sold its exclusive licensing rights to Roberts' company, to Hasbro and a succession of other toy companies. Since the rights sale, the sales incomes of the dolls and other licensed products declined precipitously. However the dolls have become a one of the few long-running doll brands in history.

In 1988 Coleco Industries filed for bankruptcy but the dolls continued to be made by Hasbro and Mattel. Despite their popularity decline the Cabbage Patch Kids were named the official mascot of the 1992 US Olympic team and each member of team had a doll version. In 1999 they were selected as one of the 15 commemorative US postage stamps representing the 1980s.

Despite their popularity remains a mystery, they were also one of the symbols of 80s pop-culture.

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 Martha Nelson (Thomas) was

 Martha Nelson (Thomas) was a Kentuckian, not a Tennessean. She created, made, and sold her Doll Babies at juried craft shows and shops in various Kentucky locations, including Berea, Louisville, and Lexington. Roberts briefly sold some of her "Doll Babies" in his North Georgia craft shop - then stole and ran with her idea. Martha sued him but eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount which she later said was enough to put her children through college. Still, she never received the recognition she deserved. 

Sadly, Martha Nelson Thomas, true artist and dollmaker, passed away of ovarian cancer in 2013. There's a good documentary on YouTube, "The True Story of the Cabbage Patch Kids", about this little-known scandal.