Cabbage Patch Kids: A 1983 Phenomenon

Cabbage Patch Kids: A 1983 Phenomenon

As a child who preferred playing outside with sticks and leaves, only a handful of dolls ever really captured my attention. In fact, I only recall true fondness for four dolls: Baby Tenderlove, Raggedy Ann, Darci cover girl, and my Cabbage Patch Kid—Kendall Walter Winner.

Newsweek, December 12, 1983, courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York.In 1983, at the age of 13, I wasn’t interested in Kendall as “just a doll,” I was more fascinated by the fact that he was “one-of-a-kind.” At the time I didn’t understand the mathematical algorithms and computational complexities Coleco Industries, Inc. used to generate these playthings, but I did recognize that they were in extremely high demand and relatively low supply. By the Christmas 1983 shopping season, Cabbage Patch Kids were the “must have” toy of the year, and shoppers would line up for hours just to purchase one. Mobs and brawls were reported throughout the United States as the dolls’ scarcity magnified. Ultimately, this commercial phenomenon resulted from the amalgamation of three major factors: a brand new toy concept, a manufacturer’s (Coleco Industries Inc.) underestimation of raw materials needed, and a saturated marketing campaign.

Screen-Play: Television Characters Ruin Game Night, Too

Screen-Play: Television Characters Ruin Game Night, Too

My friends and I embrace game nights: snacks, beverages, stuffed mascots, inspirational posters. Some people don’t, probably because not everyone can handle it when (not if) their true colors emerge in the throes of battle. Similarly, television series use games as plot devices to place characters in opposition to each other, draw out the best…

Of Monsters and Airplanes: The Enduring Joy of Paper Toys

Of Monsters and Airplanes: The Enduring Joy of Paper Toys

What comes to mind when you hear the term “paper toys”? Whatever you envision, chances are the idea of paper toys in our digital era doesn’t evoke quite the same level of enthusiasm as some other playthings do. Paper toys seem quiet and simple, perhaps even old-fashioned. But paper toys such as paper dolls, which…

Let Me Teach You the Game of My People: Card Games, Identity, and Finding Home Again

Let Me Teach You the Game of My People: Card Games, Identity, and Finding Home Again

What is your game? There seem to be an infinite number of games to play with one simple deck of playing cards. What game did you learn, perched on your parents’ or grandparents’ knees? What game brings you feelings of home and belonging? My family’s game was Rummy. After we had mastered Go Fish, we…

A Family of Meticulous Puzzle Cutters: Fiss Puzzles at The Strong

A Family of Meticulous Puzzle Cutters: Fiss Puzzles at The Strong

Today gamers often seem immersed in their favorite games. But serious, focused gaming is nothing new. Just after the turn of the 20th century, many Americans concentrated and deliberated in a similar manner trying to assemble the latest plaything for adults and families—jigsaw puzzles.

Lionel for Ladies?

Lionel for Ladies?

Many baby boomers and their children (and maybe their grandchildren too) admire the toy trains of the Lionel Corporation in The Strong’s collections. The toy company, founded in the early 1900s by Joshua Lionel Cowen, reigned as the premier maker of electric train sets for much of the 20th century. In the early 1950s, Lionel…

Screen-Play: Games Only Fictional Characters Could Invent

Screen-Play: Games Only Fictional Characters Could Invent

Pendulous grey clouds loom ominously to the west. Today is not an outdoor day. Salvation is in the closet, where colorful boxes of boards, cards, and tokens beckon us into other worlds. Games pass the time, make us laugh, and strengthen bonds among loved ones. The Strong is proud to preserve the history of games…

Screen-Play: Video Game Mania on Television

Screen-Play: Video Game Mania on Television

“Finish him!” “Save the princess!” “Time is running out!” Video game designers excel at creating high-stakes environments. And television has earned some laughs depicting the obsessive players who heed these calls to action. Here are some of the memorable ways television shows have turned video games into life-or-death situations. Seinfeld: “The Frogger” George holds the…

The Mighty Minion

The Mighty Minion

A new, rapidly growing species has sprouted among us: small, yellow, overall-clad creatures, helpful and hilarious, who love to sing, dance, and laugh. What are they? Minions, the lovable— often Cyclops-eyed—characters from the immensely popular films Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2. While some folks may consider the babbling and singing of minions purely nonsensical,…

Play: The Cure for the Seven-Year-Old Blues

Play: The Cure for the Seven-Year-Old Blues

“I’m running away to Australia!” This tearful statement greeted me as I entered my son’s room. He pointed to his duffel bag, packed with everything a seven-year-old boy needs to survive the wilds of the outback: his WWE wrestling figures and his well-worn Don’t Know Much About Space book. Clearly, John Cena and Pluto are…