To All the Dolls I Loved Before . . . Part One

I love toys.  I’ve been collecting them, loving them, dressing them, and destroying them for years.  When I was a baby, my older brother gave me a stuffed bear and rabbit.  And then proceeded to take them for himself.  I didn’t mind at the time, as I was more interested in dust motes and my feet.  But it wasn’t long before I was paying attention to my toys, specifically my dolls.  I had all sorts of dolls, but let’s start with the most famous.

The Cabbage Patch Kids

Yes, that is a baby face sticking out of a cabbage. Why?

My mother happened to like dolls as well, so I got a lot of them.  I’m sure you remember the Cabbage Patch craze, yes?  If not, go check out Angie’s blog which will mess with your mind until you scream make it stop, make it stop!  Anyway, though at first these arguably ugly dolls were hard to come by, eventually I ended up with like a dozen of the things.  I loved those stupid dolls.  Not that I remember any of their names oh yes I do.  There were Irv, Janie, Dolly (she went to Spain!), Andrew (bald), Britney and Beth (twins!), Amber (a “preemie” with one tuft of hair in the middle of an otherwise bald head), Patti (with cornsilk hair, not yarn!), Laura (a “baby” that was somehow smaller than the “preemie”) and a few others.  I liked these dolls so much I even wrote my first stories about them when I was like eight.  They were still better than what E.L. James can write now, which is very, very sad.

OMG! Andrew, is that you?

Anyway, these dolls were special because unlike the rip-offs, they had official adoption papers so you could get your name printed on a doll birth certificate.  You could also change their names, which clearly I did, because their original names were stuff like Pukenose Prunella.  Well, except for Irv, because somehow no other name would fit that weird little doll, my very first who was acquired through a daycare center.  I have no idea why they had them.  Anyway, you could also tell they were authentic by looking at their butts.  No, really.  They had the signature of the artist (Xavier Roberts) on their behinds, which seems like an odd place to put it looking back on that now.  But still, you can bet we girls were opening up those diapers and making sure they were legit.

Who is this Roberts guy, and why is he tatooing my baby’s butt?

You can’t just have Cabbage Patch Kids and no equipment, though, are you mad?  I had a swing, a playpen, a baby snuggie, a high chair, a car seat, a stroller, and lots of diapers for invisible poop.  Now there are dolls that will make real simulated poop in their diapers, but thankfully I never had one of those.  Thing Two does have a Baby Alive doll that demands that she feed it bananas 24/7 and it annoys her to no end.  “Mommy, she always wants something!”  Yes, dear, how tiring that must be for you.  But back to me.  I was very serious about being a pretend Mommy.  I took good care of my children.  Except when I forgot them overnight in the backyard.  Or a friend drew on them.  Or I lost all of their clothes.  Or the sewing making their bottom cracks came undone (solved the diapering problem, though).

I had this. Doll baby cage! (You can never be too careful)

I also wanted to be a teacher from a young age.  Because children are stupid (no offense to teachers, but that is an incredibly hard job when the children are animate, I discovered).  My parents both worked for the school system, so I knew a lot about what teachers did.  They had grade books, and attendance books.  I created both in spiral notebooks.  I also created seating charts.  Not that I was a particularly anal child or anything like that.  I lined the dolls up in rows – sometimes you had to work hard to get them to sit up right.  Occasionally someone would get sick and I’d toss them aside and mark them absent.  My grading policy was simple.  The prettiest dolls got the best grades, and the ugly ones (like, say, those Flower Kid ripoffs) failed big time.  So you know, just like real life.

I think I’ll go pick some cabbage . . . OMG!!!!!

There were some Cabbage Patch Kids I didn’t have.  For one thing, my twins were not the “official” twins that came two to a box and for some reason cost ten times as much as just buying two dolls that looked similar.  Which is what my mother did.  I had a fascination for identical twins, so I often had two of the exact same doll which my brother thought was really dumb.  Like, what did he know?  All his GI Joes looked the same to me.  Another doll came with a stuffed horse she could ride.  I never got that one.  Again, parents weren’t feeling the love there.

I never got a real pony either.

Most of my friends also had these dolls, and they played together.  One of my friends, who goes by Ravin here because she thinks she’s a bird but can’t spell it right, was never given a Cabbage Patch Kid because her mother thought they were lame.  Which they were.  But then her younger sisters (some of those fascinating identical twins, although these twins would jump from trees like crazed ninjas and try to kick you) got Cabbage Patch dolls, and one could say she was pretty pissed.  So at 12, she bought one, even though she really wasn’t into dolls by then, just because she could.  And later one of said twins gutted it and made it into a flour baby for school.  She still hasn’t entirely forgiven that sister.

I will haunt you foreverrrrrrrrr!

My Cabbage Patch Kids are still around, up in my parent’s attic somewhere.  I think some of them might have gotten their legs chewed off by mice.  And they started making the CPKs again, in an effort to snare parents raised in the 80s, as if we’d be that dumb oh yes of course we would.  But it wasn’t the same.  For one thing, these new dolls are somehow even uglier than the ones we had as kids.  Or maybe that’s just my nostalgia talking.

So tell me about you.  Did you grow up in the 80s (or thereabouts)?  Did you have some of these stupid dolls?  Did you want one but your parents were big meanies?  Did you have another favorite?  Or were you like Thing One, who thinks baby dolls are like, yuck, cause who would want to pretend to be a mom?  That’s freaking hard.

Let me know in the comments below.

Bonus: Obama Kid and other representations of presidential candidates were apparently auctioned off for charity in 2008 according to the Seattle Times.

Yup, I won again. Deal.

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47 responses

  1. Alice,
    Have you heard of bronies? Yes, my friend, bronies. And they have nothing to do with Cabbage Patch kids.
    Le Clown

    1. Le Clown,
      Guys that like My Little Ponies? I had no idea you were a bronie, Le Clown!
      Alice

      1. Alice,
        I would have no shame admitting I was one, if it was the case. I collect Darth Vader paraphernalia, though. And yes, I have Darth Vader dolls. Yay for Vader! Woohoo!
        Le Clown

        1. Le Clown,
          Thing Two is not as afraid of you now. She loves Star Wars and Vader. She has a cuddly Vader that she puts in her doll high chair.
          Alice

  2. I saw the picture of the signatures on their butt and all I could think was tramp stamp!

    1. Miss Four Eyes, that is just WRONG and FREAKING HILARIOUS! Somebody should have put Xavier Roberts in the slammer, man.

  3. I had (and still have – in boxes) a shit-TON of cabbage patch kids! I was the hugest doll lover as a child. My very first one was a rip-off that either my mom or her friend made – probably because they were very hard to find and expensive when they first came out. I can’t remember all their names, but I had a clown, a boy one with a leather jacket and spiked red hair, twin babies, a preemie, a talking one (oh yes, a TALKING cabbage patch!), one with corn-silk hair that “grew” (her ponytail could be pulled out to make it different lengths), and a few more I can’t remember.

    Oh! and I also had a Real Baby – a doll that had the weight and size of a, well, a real baby. I never put that thing down….until eventually the very badly attached hair came off her head like a baby toupee.

    My wife wishes I would throw all of them away, but I can’t bear to do that! I should take them all out, make sure they aren’t mildewy, and at least sell them on Ebay 🙂

    Obviously I have a lot to say on this subject – sorry for hijacking your comments!

    1. Not at all! I love long comments. My grandmother made me one with a pacifier. His name was William. I have no idea why I remember all their names. I had Thing One’s name picked out when I was 12, so maybe that’s why. Love names.

      And Zomg, I remember the ones with the leather jackets and spiked red hair. I don’t remember the talking cabbage patch! How terrifying! For some reason I didn’t have that one. I had a baby that was weighted too, though the head was porcelain. I still have it. My friend (Ravin again) and I played with her so much that the beans in her body shifted and she looked kind of weird. Loved her anyway. And I have other dolls – collector dolls. But not nearly as many as my mother, who has like four or five cases of the things.

    2. Alice had a Real Baby, too, which she played with in high school and college–a much healthier way of dealing with baby cravings than, say, becoming a teenaged mom.

      1. Ha, did you see my comment? You played with her too. 😀

        1. We simul-commented. And I only played with it because it was there. Same way I feel about sex toys. Not likely to buy one myself.

          1. I never get a chance to go shopping alone, and have no disposable income to spend on myself.

          2. Hopefully you can change that soon.

      2. Heehee! That’s too funny!

  4. Saying your mom likes dolls is a bit of an understatement. And it’s spelled “Ravin” because I thought numerology was entertaining when I was 18 and picked it (it made the “name number” synch with my “birth number”). Plus the normal spelling is always taken.

      1. Unless it’s my online handle. When I get my name legally changed, I swear I’ll spell it correctly.

  5. At one point I also had several porcelain dolls which I kept on display in my barracks room, much to the bemusement of my chief petty officer. Again, it was all about channeling the desire to reproduce into something less life-altering.

      1. Like children.did Kafka in your Froot Loops?

  6. I used to watch the tv show when I was young (I was born in ’88 – so I totes was an 80s child…)
    Did you ever hear about the CPK that ate? You’d feed it fake french fries and stuff? Well, it got taken off the market cause a child went to sleep with it and it ate her hair in the night and they couldn’t detach it from her head in the morning (I think they ended up chopping the hair off). Scary stuff.
    And I LOVE that Thing One doesn’t want anything to do with being a pretend mommy! Hahaha, go girl!

    1. Roflmao – sorry, but that was funny. I’m just imagining this doll nom nomming on a kid’s hair. Talk about therapy issues! And yes, Thing One is quite a character. She heard me talking with my friends about birth stories and said “If I have kids, I’m adopting.” And in such a serious way it was even funnier.

      1. Oh I definitely giggled when I heard the story as a kid!

  7. I never really understood the whole Cabbage Patch Doll craze. They’re so ugly. Then again, I’ve never really understood the allure of dolls at all, unless one is a small child. My dolls usually only served one purpose. The were captured and in need of rescue by my brother’s GI Joes. How sexist is that? But when you grow up 11 months apart in age from your big brother, you play the boy way. 🙂

    1. My girls have no brother, yet they tie them up in all sorts of weird ways. Also, last I saw poor Troy from High School Musical, they had dressed him up in a Barbie dress. Poor guy. I took a picture of him. Never know when you’ll need a pic of a boy doll in a dress.

      1. I’m liking your girls!

  8. “Yes, dear, how tiring that must be for you. But back to me. I was very serious about being a pretend Mommy. I took good care of my children. Except when I forgot them overnight in the backyard.”

    These lines just made my day! As for the Cabbage Patch Kid dolls, I never had a single accessory. Clearly, I was quite deprived as a child.

    1. Yes, you were. You’d probably better get started on therapy, STAT. 😀

  9. Alice, I had a Baby Alive! She was alive and I loved her to pieces until her mouth became so gucky and she started to smell…but, oh, had I loved her so. I played school, too. Some of our cats were the students. We used to dress them in little outfits. Oh, how they hated that!

    1. I bet the cats skipped school as much as they could. Lol.

  10. How nostalgic! I used to have the cabbage patch kid that could eat plastic carrots and shit and it would end up in her backpack. Because that makes total sense.

    1. Wouldn’t that be great? I could eat whatever I wanted and it’d all end up in a backpack. Rather disgusting but great for weight loss!

    2. I had that same thing! Plastic peas that ended up in a sack.

      1. That is SO weird. Like a pretend colostomy bag.

  11. Born in 1980, I didn’t have much choice about growing up in the 80’s!!

    I wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid doll once, but my mother said they were ugly. I couldn’t see it at the time. I can now. There’s also a girl at one of the Morrisons Supermarket stores in the city I used to live in who looks just like a CPK. I felt for her, but I also couldn’t not laugh as soon as I was far enough away to be able to do so!

    1. That’s so sad, lol. I’ve seen people who look like those unfortunate Persian Cats.

  12. Gil Evin. Tilda Bambi. Jervis Craig. Herencia Grizelda. In that order. I try to say their names often so as never to forget them. I also have memory boxes for each of them. Okay, kidding there. Unless keeping their adoption papers counts as a form of a memory box? Then yes. I have one.

    This was fanfunkingtastic! You included things I totally overlooked in my obligatory CPK post (of course I had to write a CPK post or my entire blog would be a sham). How did I forget about those ridiculous twins? And the damn horse! Do you remember the CPK pets? Oh dear god. The bodies of children with faces like trolls.

    And why oh why did Coleco perpetuate a belief in kids that having a premature baby is a good thing? “Lookit! It’s smaller so it’s cuter!”

    1. A CPK named Bambi? That’s great. You still have an adoption paper? I might have one – up in that mysterious attic where no one wants to go. OMG, I forgotten the pets but now I remember – creepy kid faces on dogs and yikes. And the preemie thing – I was just thinking of that. Why is it cool to have a preemie? Why didn’t it come with a little incubator and tubes and stuff? Also a mini crash cart.

      I’m going to hell now.

      1. Shouldn’t a preemie cabbage patch kid just need one of those UV lamps people use for growing pot?

        1. Good point. Maybe some extra fertilizer.

      2. Yeah, I’m thinking those things got picked from the patch a wee bit too soon.

  13. My sister and I had these two very realistic dolls called Sally dolls or Something like that, but then also a homemade black cabbage patch and a store bought one. Plus this weird creature type doll that I think was meant to look like it was wearing a fuzzy pink jumper with a hood, but just looked like a pink bear with human hands, face, and tuft of hair poking out. It always sucked getting stuck with the pink fuzzy doll. The only accessories we ever had were homemade.

    On a lightly unrelated note, but sort of – because of the mention of the CPK tv show – I recently discovered the genius and horror of cartoons and marketing of the 80s. Make a toy – then create a 22 minute advertisement AKA tv show – to make kids/parents buy it. Wonderful and terrible.

    Lovely read!

    1. Somehow I had managed to forget the TV show. I do remember the Cabbage Patch Kid play we performed in elementary school. Seriously. Oy.

      And yeah, I love the toy advertisement shows. Those are still going strong, but nothing beats the campy 80s ones.

  14. I never had a Cabbage Patch. I thought they were ugly. All I wanted was a Barbie. I was all about the Barbie. I never got one. Not until I was 23. I didn’t get dollies, I got brothers instead.

    1. What a cruel, cruel world we live in Storkhunter. You must make up for it by buying lots of Barbies now. In case you have a daughter one day. You know. In case.

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