It was 33 years ago that crazed shoppers went nutty during “Cabbage Patch Mania.” The originally hand-crafted creation of young Xavier Roberts had been licensed for the mass market, and parents and kids just couldn’t get enough of the CABBAGE PATCH KIDS… with original manufacturer, Coleco, having a hard time meeting demand. The madness of people tackling one another, dolls flying through the air, and store managers fending off what looked like a zombie hoard with sticks (yes, it happened) went on to be the stuff of Black Friday legend, and helped to inspire movies like the perennial classic, JINGLE ALL THE WAY. In the more than three decades since, the Cabbage Patch Kids have gone through many iterations, never going away, but always riding the waves of pop culture flavors-of-the-moment as truly timeless fixtures of play for generations. For 2016, Wicked Cool Toys has issued CABBAGE PATCH KIDS Baby So Real, the first-ever truly interactive CPK experience, infusing a CPK doll with innovative technology to compliment traditional play patterns. While I first got an in-person look at the doll during the Sweet Suite ’16 portion of Blogger Bash in NYC this summer, the folks at Wicked Cool Toys sent us one for review in the Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ™. As a parent that loves Cabbage Patch Kids (I still have my original!) but tends to be cautious of too much tech, I was eager to take an in-depth look…
When it comes to interactive baby dolls, we’ve all seen the ones that poop, pee, walk, talk, etc. In recent years, toymakers have dabbled with Bluetooth and wi-fi technology, to mixed, and often terrible results, many of which are little more than glorified Bluetooth speakers. The CPK Baby So Real absolutely blows them away. It’s an incredible doll.
With a traditionally-soft body paired with realistic, baby-soft skin on its head and face, CPK Baby So Real has animated LCD eyes that emote with over 30 expressions. There’s sensors in several points, allowing kids to get reactions to their actions – rocking to sleep, burping, tickles (the feet are pretty funny), etc. When the doll’s cheeks glow red, she has a fever and must be treated with her interactive spoon. When she asks for a bottle, you can easily feed her. Keeping the classic tradition of adoption alive, this doll also comes with a birth certificate and adoption papers, which encourage children to recite an oath of adoption.
As a parent of real-life children, it’s pretty funny on the occasions when the doll needs something in repetition. Hearing our kids say that they’ve “already fed” or “just changed” the doll is amusing. Teach the kids early, right?
One of my major points of contention with many tech toys is that they’re too dependent on other people’s tech – toys that work fine now, but they’re so integrated with a particular app or third-party device that they essentially cease to function when the other tech becomes outdated or obsolete. To be timeless, a toy needs to work years down the road, and a beautiful thing with the CPK Baby So Real is that while it does have a companion app (iOS or Android), it’s a compliment to the toy and not an essential. The doll connects via Bluetooth, enabling kids to use the app much like a baby monitor, with the on-screen character (customizable to match the real-life doll) mimicking what’s happening in real-life. Kids can earn points for caring properly for the doll (feeding, changing, etc), and exchange those virtual points (which are free – no real-world money here) for items in the virtual baby store. There’s also matching games, and for parents like my wife and I (who grew up with CPK dolls), there’s a suspiciously-dated looking television in the nursery, right next to a stack of VHS tapes. Hit the play button on the TV and you’re treated to some vintage CPK videos that are straight outta the 80s! The app works great, but again – it’s a compliment, and our kids enjoy the doll just fine on its own.
Cabbage Patch Kids Baby So Real dolls are a featured pick in my 2016 Holiday Wish Guide™ here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine™, available with different hair colors and ethnicities at major retailers everywhere… in theory. While a return to those 1983 days of Cabbage Patch Mania is unlikely, the hottest holiday toys are often still hard to come by, a robust secondary market firing up every year. As of this writing (early September), Amazon.com has already sold-out of their initial shipment of at least two variations of the doll.
The bottom line: If you think that your little ones will want a Cabbage Patch Kid for the Holidays this year, definitely pick one up now.