When you look at some kid’s TV characters/toys today, it’s astounding that children don’t run away from them screaming in fright. Take for example the terrifying cast of In The Night Garden, who look like they should be locked away in a secure unit, I wonder how many parents have to soothe their distressed offspring from nightmares about Igglepiggle, Makka Pakka and the rest.
But this love for frightening visages is not restricted to today’s tots! When I cast my mind back to my own childhood, a familiar face looms into my memory – that of the Cabbage Patch Kid. Although undoubtedly one of the most popular dolls of the 80s, there’s no denying the fact that they had faces only a mother could love. With giant puffy cheeks, woolen hair, stumpy limbs and staring eyes they didn’t look like any baby I’d ever seen! But their distinctiveness certainly didn’t stop them from doing well.
During the early to mid 80s when the craze was at its peak, it was well-known for shops to completely sell out of the little critters and there were several tales of otherwise subdued women coming to blows over picking up a specific doll. This was where the Cabbage Patch Kids were clever as every one was made very slightly different so the buyer was, in effect, getting a one of a kind doll.
The other unique thing about the Cabbage Patch Kids was that rather than buying the dolls, you ‘adopted’ them! Each one came with a birth certificate with its own birthday and name which was a great idea for appealing to wannabe doll-mothers. There was also an adoption registration form for you to fill in with your details and send it back to formally adopt your new addition. And to further emphasise the fact that the Cabbage Patch Kids were real-life babies, they didn’t come from a factory, but were instead taken from the cabbage patches where they were born to the Babyland General Hospital, here they would be cared for by nurses until getting adopted!
After the initial craze had died down, surprisingly the Cabbage Patch Kids’ success was quite short-lived. The brand was taken over by a different company and lots of new features were introduced. The traditional cloth face was replaced by a vinyl one and the dolls now had a whole host of new abilities such as talking and music playing. But despite the downturn in popularity, Cabbage Patch Kids are still going strong and are available today. They’re now owned by Mattel and you can find them in most toy shops, so if you never managed to fight your way through the mobs of crazed shoppers in the 80s there’s still plenty of time to get adopting!
By Tanya Clark
As a child I always wanted to adopt a Cabbage Patch Kid, but unfortunately the closest I got to one back then was the Garbage Pail Kids stickers (based on the dolls). To be honest I don’t think I ever asked for one from my parents who were pretty good at getting stuff for me and my brothers if we really begged, even if it was saved for Christmas and birthdays. I remember a girl, a few years below me at my primary school who was always spoilt rotten, had a black boy doll with thick curly hair, jeans, a white t-shirt and trainers – he was sooooo cute!
Years later I tried to relieve the moment by buying a Cabbage patch doll for my then six-year-old niece for Christmas, I searched all over the country for a black boy doll (I guess I never really forgot the doll that girl had in primary school and secretly always wanted my own exactly like that), but to no avail. I did managed to find a girl doll with porcelain skin, rosy cheeks, her brown hair in two cute plaited pig-tails and wearing a lovely checkered dress. However, I nearly keeled over and collapsed when I went to visit her, I mean my niece a few weeks after Christmas only to find the poor thing (the doll) butt-naked and in need of a good wash! I never would have treated her like that if I was lucky enough to have her at my niece’s age! Kids these days don’t know they are born!