Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010

Cabbage Patch Kids

Introduced in 1982 by Coleco, Cabbage Patch Kids were the doll of the decade. In their first year on the shelves, more than 2.5 million were sold — an industry record. Like any popular toy, the merchandise sparked riots and violence at malls around the U.S. (One woman had her leg broken in 1983 in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., after a crowd of 1,000 angry shoppers got out of hand.) But by 1988, interest in the dolls had waned, and Coleco faced $300 million in debt. Toy giant Hasbro bought the brand and, in an effort to revitalize sales, introduced a line of dolls whose skin darkened in the sun ("Splash 'n' Tan") and another that came with hair accessories ("Pretty Crimp and Curl"). Other incarnations included a porcelain line, a talking line and a so-called Snacktime version with battery-powered movable jaws that could "eat" plastic carrots and French fries. That bright idea was scrapped in 1996, when reports surfaced that the doll was chewing children's hair down to the scalp.