The History of the Original Cabbage Patch Kids Dolls
Distinctively known for their bloated heads and slightly disturbing faces, yet somehow endearing with their soft appearance and huggable form, if there’s one doll that could define the ‘80s, it would hands-down be the Cabbage Patch Kids as they were the ultimate definition of a fad and its extremities in the 1980s.
Created by artist Xavier Roberts, who used quilting skills learned from his mother as well as the more historic needle modeling technique, the first Cabbage Patch Kids were simply known as The Little People. Roberts originally sold his Little People dolls at art shows. Instead of handing over a set amount of cash, interested buyers only needed to pay an adoption fee for one of his carefully made dolls. As Roberts received positive reception for his handmade dolls, he moved his operations into a former clinic, dubbing the renewed facility as Babyland General Hospital, where even today curious travelers can watch Cabbage Patch Kids be taken care of by sale employees roleplaying as nurses and medical staff. One appealing point about the dolls was that they weren’t bought, but rather, adopted, and the adopter would have to take a vow to care and love their doll. It wasn’t until 1982 when Roberts reached a licensing deal with toy production company Coleco that the Little People dolls were rebranded as the dolls we know today: Cabbage Patch Kids.
From lawsuits involving artists of similar disciplines, cross-country riots at toy stores due to shortages, and even a prank by Milwaukeean radio hosts that led locals to believe Cabbage Patch Kids would be air-dropped, Cabbage Patch Kids may not be the biggest hit today, but in the eyes of collectors and those who grew up in the ’80s, the Cabbage Patch Kids certainly left their mark on their memories as well as in history.
In this guide, we not only list the original dolls that started it all but also the most looked for dolls on the market that collectors are eyeing. While not everyone is born with a trained eye for the finer details of Cabbage Patch Kids, for your convenience, we go into detail for how to generally determine your doll’s worth as well as how to identify the key traits that highly sought after dolls have.
Determining the Worth of Your Cabbage Patch Kid
Given the fact that over 30 million dolls were sold in the 1980s, it could be considered even a miracle that some dolls are worth thousands and thousands of dollars. Admittedly, the majority of dolls you can find today on auction websites actually cost the same amount of modern-day Cabbage Patch Kids: roughly $60 or in some cases, even less. So what makes a doll a prime target for collectors and how does one go about identifying these traits?
In determining whether or not you hit the gold mine with your old Cabbage Patch Kids, here are four basic pointers to keep in mind when examining your dolls:
Every authentic Cabbage Patch Kids comes with a Xavier Roberts signature, typically on the doll’s left butt cheek. In very rare instances, the signature may be on the right butt cheek or upside down. In addition to this signature, there is also a year printed—if there is no year, the color of the signature indicates the year.
1983 – Black
1984 – Green (exceptions are Preemies and Foreign kids as they had signatures in black ink this year)
1985 – Blue
1986 – Red
1987 – Aqua
1988 – Lavender
1989 – Rose
Body tags indicate where the doll was made, both factory and country-wise. This trait is especially useful for those who want to sell and prove the authenticity of dolls made overseas. In the situation your doll does not have a body tag or the body tag becomes unreadable due to wear and tear, another way to figure out the doll’s origins is checking the copyright notice on the back of the doll’s head. However, keep your eye out if you have a doll that is embroidered—dolls with embroidered body tags were among the first of the Coleco-released dolls and are considered extremely rare.
Just like with any collector’s item, such as baseball cards and action figures, the doll’s general condition is key. Even if you did have in possession a rare doll, it may not fetch for as much money compared to a doll in better, intact condition. When evaluating the condition of your dolls, it is important to assess the state of the doll’s vinyl head. Depending on the factory, the vinyl material of the head could be suspect to growing spots, having discoloration, or becoming sticky due to contact with moisture—the former most condition is known as pox in the Cabbage Patch Kids fandom. Be especially careful when handling and storing your older dolls as in some cases even the touch of a finger could trigger pox!
Domestic vs Overseas
As the popularity of the Cabbage Patch Kids took the US by a storm, the dolls would soon be produced in overseas factories to keep up with domestic demand and eventually be sold in other countries well. Given their more limited availability, dolls sold overseas not only had design/outfit changes but also had different adoption papers, making them an understandably hot item for diehard collectors.
Xavier Robert’s Little People Pre-Coleco Dolls
While technically they aren’t Cabbage Patch Kids, these dolls were the ones that began it all for Xavier Roberts and can be considered essentially as the prototypes of our favorite Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. Many of these dolls were created between 1976 and 1982 and were sold from the Babyland General Hospital upon Robert’s more formal conception of his company at around $40, which is about $107 presently when factoring in inflation. A prime distinctive trait for these dolls is that their heads, their bodies, and even their faces were made entirely from cloth, and they also had larger thumbs. Some were even hand-signed by Xavier Roberts himself, and these hand-signed ones sell for even more cash. Given their vintage status and history, these dolls are for the ultimate Cabbage Patch Kids collectors.
Like their successors, the Little People dolls all had custom names and birthdates with complementing adoption papers and birth certificates. Little People dolls with their original paperwork or that have been hand-signed by Roberts himself tend to be on the higher end of selling prices. Since each doll is distinct and unique in their own way, rather than trying to list out dolls by their names, we’re going to list them below by their type and the highest price they go for on popular auction websites such as eBay:
Little People Girl Doll
These girl dolls come in an array of hues in terms of eye and hair color. In terms of eyes, the Little People girl dolls have been seen with starting blue eyes to a softer hazel look. The hair is typically a yarn-like material, and hair colors have come in a range of bright red to mute brown. The most common hairstyles include pigtails, curls, and ponytails. In some cases, the hairs of the dolls are adorned with accessories such as bows. Another distinctive trait of a Little People girl doll is a dusty pink blush across the body. The highest-priced girl doll on eBay is at $3,500 and is a 1979 edition. For dolls younger by a few years, such as a 1981 Little People girl doll, the fetching price is lowered to around $2,800, though 1980 Little People girl dolls have also been listed at $1000.
Little People Boy Doll
Like their gal counterparts, the Little People boy dolls come with a similar range in eye-color and also had yarn-like hair, though their available hairstyles and hair colors vary differently. Some Little People boy dolls have scooped back hair or permed hair, and their hair colors were more on the tame side from deep to light brown as well as blonde. They typically came in shirt and jeans, though the shirts have varied, including a Little People logo-ed shirt. There is even a Little People boy doll dressed as a Confederate soldier circulating on eBay for about $790. If you own a Little People boy doll, keep in mind that offers are as high as $1,200.
Little People Babies
While Cabbage Patch Kids look closer to toddlers, the Little People had dolls that had a closer resemblance to babies. Fittingly, they were more on the bald end and came in vintage baby clothes. In terms of eye color, Little People baby dolls had deep brown, blue, and green shades. A Little People baby doll can net you as much as $800 depending on the doll’s condition and whether or not it has its original paperwork.
1983 Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids
With the deal reached between Roberts and toy manufacturer Coleco, 1983 was when the Cabbage Patch Kids really began to take off. Met with much fanfare at the International Toy Fair in New York, the Cabbage Patch Kids were featured on Newsweek and mass production of them shortly began after their large debut. Compared to their original $40 price tag, the Cabbage Patch Kids from 1983 only sold for $25, which is around $65 today when factoring in inflation.
Roughly 14 to 16 inches tall, these Cabbage Patch Kids were diverse in eye color, hairstyle, and outfit. They had cloth bodies but vinyl heads, and the quality of the vinyl often depended on the factory that produced them. It should be noted that for the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids each one had a unique computer-generated name and birthday as well as matching adoption papers and birth certificate to boot. Many collectors often comment that it is rare if not impossible to find two dolls that look exactly the same.
As three million Cabbage Patch Kids were adopted by the end of 1983, figuring out which dolls can possibly rake in the most money may seem daunting. However, here are the top five types of Cabbage Patch Kids circulating the net and into the radars of newbie and veteran collectors alike:
Fall and Winter 1983 Original Cabbage Patch Kid
Why specifically fall and winter? The holiday season of 1983 saw the peak of the Cabbage Patch Kids craze as well as country-wide riots at toy stores for these highly coveted dolls. Folks waited for hours only to be turned away, and for some, this led to violence—many witnesses who lined up during those fateful days recall a stampeding, hair-grabbing frenzy that can only be matched with our present-day Black Friday. If somehow you managed to pick up a Cabbage Patch Kid doll during the Cabbage Patch riots of the 1983 holiday season and lived to tell the tale, you’re in luck—these dolls can be placed at quite a price, with one set of two dolls going for up to $11,750.
1983 5th Anniversary Champagne Edition Cabbage Patch Twins
Released in celebration of the Cabbage Patch Kids’ 5th year anniversary, the Champagne Edition dolls were produced in limited quantity—only 2,000 such sets were made ready for adoption at the Babyland General Hospital. Decked in purple and bearing striking violet eyes, the full Champagne Edition set comes with both a girl and a boy doll. While they’re not produced by Coleco, they’re hand-signed by Xavier Roberts himself. Though considered more as a Little People doll as the Champagne Edition dolls were fully made of cloth, these twin dolls are still actively sought by hardcore Cabbage Patch Kids collectors and are set at a higher selling point, priced at $5,000.
1983 Girl or Boy Cabbage Patch Kid
With the 1983 dolls, we see more diversity in terms of skin color and hair color. 1983 would see the release of black Cabbage Patch Kids and a wider range in the eye and hair color department. Compared to the original Little People, these Cabbage Patch Kids would have a blush on their vinyl cheeks but not on their bodies. The highest-priced girl Cabbage Patch Kid doll that is in good condition is roughly $7,000 on eBay while a boy Cabbage Patch Kid doll could potentially rake you $3,000.
1983 Tsukuda Cabbage Patch Kid
As a Cabbage Patch Kid sold overseas, the Tsukuda dolls were specifically made and sold in Japan. Many collectors often comment on the lovely make for the Tsukuda dolls’ faces and their distinctive differences from other Cabbage Patch Kids, such as the butterfly patterns in the eye paint. While later Tsukuda dolls would come with special costumes and in special editions as well, the 1983 Tsukuda Cabbage Patch Kids resembled the ones sold in the US save for the Japanese print of the doll’s papers and the box. 1983 Tsukuda Cabbage Patch Kids with all parts intact and in mint condition can sell as high as $800 online.
1984 Cabbage Patch Kids
The popularity of the Cabbage Patch Kids would continue to rise well into 1984, and the dolls began to expand into a franchise including a video game and a record album. 1984 would specifically see the introduction of the Preemies, which were Cabbage Patch Kids who were slightly shorter than their 1983 counterparts as well as a Couture Kids line for Canada with Cabbage Patch Kids decked in fur coats. 1984 also saw a rise in foreign-produced Cabbage Patch Kids; these particular Cabbage Patch Kids had slight variations compared to the ones sold in the US, but the most notable ones were the ones produced in Spain’s Jesmar factory. Depending on the factory, the quality of the Cabbage Patch Kid’s vinyl head would differ.
The average sale price of your Cabbage Patch Kid produced from this year could range from $40 to $8,000 depending on the quality of your doll, whether or not it has its original paperwork, and whether or not it has been signed by Roberts. However, outside of these conditions, we found that these two types of dolls below tend to have a higher price range when auctioned off online:
1984 Cabbage Patch Kid with Original Accessories
If you have sitting in your basement or attic not just a Cabbage Patch Kid but accessories such as a booster seat, baby book, and baby album, you’re in luck as this drives up the price of your Cabbage Patch Kid. Currently, a Cabbage Patch Kid with a full set of accompanying accessories can go up to $2,500 price-wise.
1984 Jesmar Cabbage Patch Kid
Jesmar Cabbage Patch Kids were primarily produced in Spain’s Jesmar factory and were distributed to a multitude of countries in their respective languages, including but not limited to France, Denmark, Finland, and Germany. The majority of these Cabbage Patch Kids had freckles and in general, were taller than other Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids. Considered an overseas Cabbage Patch Kid, putting up one for auction can net you around $250.