If you are over 30 years old, you probably remember the craze of the Cabbage Patch Dolls in the 1980’s. People waited in lines for hours just for the privilege of purchasing one of these dolls. Stores couldn’t keep them on the shelves. Some people think it was the biggest marketing gimmick of the 1980’s.
The dolls were originally designed by a man named Xavier Roberts living in Georgia. In 1982 Roberts sold the mass production rights to the Coleco Toy Company. As you might remember, each Cabbage Patch doll came with its own name and birthday, adoption papers and birth certificate. Each doll was said to be unique (just a tiny bit different).
For the first few years, It seemed that Coleco couldn’t produce these dolls fast enough. The dolls were in such short supply around Christmas time, that some stores had to call the police just to control the crowds waiting in line for the dolls. Other stores decided to hold lotteries to fairly distribute the dolls and to avoid mob-like scenes. In 1985 Coleco reported a record sales of $600 million dollars thanks to the Cabbage Patch dolls.
Obviously, like most fads, the Cabbage Patch fad didn’t last very long. Sales fell from $600 million in 1985 to just $250 million in 1986. There were scalpers and profiteers that were left with closets full of dolls that suddenly were not selling very well anymore. Coleco then tried many things to revive the market for the dolls by making the dolls “do things” such as talk. However, things went downhill from there and Coleco had to file for bankruptcy in 1988.
The Hasbro Company obtained the rights to produce the doll in 1989. They gradually began making the dolls for younger children, leading to smaller dolls. Even though Cabbage Patch dolls were one the best selling dolls. Hasbro was never able to revitalize the Cabbage Patch market. In 1994 Mattel purchased the rights to the doll.
Mattel currently still produces Cabbage patch dolls. However, the dolls no longer have cloth bodies, they continue to be all vinyl play dolls. The dolls are generally about 14 inches or smaller, and most of them come with a gimmick such as swimming eating or brushing teeth. Most of the Cabbage Patch dolls made by Mattel are still available at some mass market retailers such as Toy’s R US. The price tag is generally under $20.