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Uh-oh, the kids are back
1980s redux: Play Along is relaunching the yarn-haired, dimpled-cheeked Cabbage Patch Kids.
August 16, 2004: 3:12 PM EDT
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - They look the same, feel the same and come in the same big yellow-and-green boxes that barely stayed intact as parents fell over each other trying to score one.

Play Along is relaunching the Cabbage Patch Kids this week.  
Play Along is relaunching the Cabbage Patch Kids this week.

A new crop of Cabbage Patch Kids is ripe for harvest and heading to a toy store near you.

Play Along Toys, a division of toy maker Jakks Pacific (JAKK: Research, Estimates), is gearing up for a national relaunch Wednesday of the dolls that became a national phenomenon in the early '80s.

No one expects the new version to be as hot as the original -- some 3.5 million dolls were sold in 1983, and an amazing 17 million moved the following year, according to Play Along CEO Jay Foreman. But he still expects to sell 2 million new Kids by the end of the year.

Foreman promises that the plush toy with the chubby arms and yarn hair is exactly the same as the mass-produced versions

"We're introducing the original product that Coleco put out into the market in the early 80s," Foreman told CNN/Money.

"The price is the same at $29.99. The dolls have the plastic head, the same vinyl-covered soft body, each doll has its own outfit and comes with adoption papers. And just like the original, no two dolls are alike," he said.

How can Play Along guarantee that?

The company, which acquired the license for the toy, has created a matrix of six different hair colors, six different skin tones, 12 different outfits and four different eye colors, a "dimples" or "no-dimples" option, and other characteristics.

"We estimate that we can make as many as 17 to 18 million unique Cabbage Patch Kids before we run out of options," said Foreman.

Turning old to holiday gold?

As industry sales continue to flat line, toy makers are desperately trying to revive sales by digging into their playchests and recycling some of the golden oldies.

Last year saw a resurgence of the 80s, marked by the comeback of Strawberry Shortcake, Atari video games and My Little Pony.

"Toymakers are bringing back proven hits because it's less risky than betting on something new," said independent toy consultant Chris Byrne.

Jakks Pacific

Play Along had a big success with another retro hit, Care Bears, which were one of the top 10 toys in 2003. "Last year we sold over 10 million Care Bears and generated over $250 million in sales," Foreman said.

"At the end of the day, you can only bring back a truly great toy and expect it to become a success," he added. "Cabbage Patch Kids will always be a favorite with young girls because they can nurture them as well as collect them. The toys also have a nostalgic element for parents who were kids themselves in the 80s and they remember how popular they were."

However, Play Along has made at least one update to the original. "We're developing a Web site dedicated to the Cabbage Patch Kids where you can register the name or even change it. Earlier, kids would have to mail in the adoption certificate."

And yes, you'll still get a birthday card on your Kid's first birthday, only this time it will be e-mailed to you, said Foreman.  Top of page

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