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Coleco Introduces Talking Cabbage Patch Kids to Public

September 17, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Cabbage Patch Kids, once adopted by millions of adoring children but since largely orphaned by the market, are now themselves asking buyers for attention.

Talking Cabbage Patch Kids, the latest entry in the interactive doll market, went on sale Thursday at a New York store, where customers lined up around the block in an intermittent drizzle and amid balloons and streamers two hours before the store’s opening.

J. Brian Clarke, president of the manufacturer, Coleco Industries Inc., held up a doll that promptly asked for a hug, which he gave.

″Thank you,″ the doll replied.

Cabbage Patch Kids were at their peak in 1983 and 1984, but then began to decline in popularity. Coleco extended the line, creating Cabbage Twins and dressing the dolls as baseball players, astronauts and other characters, but the talking version is a major investment to restore the dolls to at least some of their previous popularity.

Coleco said the new dolls are equipped with unique microchips that allow them to recognize each other’s frequency and talk to each other.

On Thursday, two dolls carrying on separate conversations suddenly began to sing ″Row, Row Your Boat″ together and then were joined by another doll about 10 feet away.

The talking dolls were being sold initially only in New York, but Coleco President J. Brian Clarke said at a news conference that nationwide distribution was expected by late October.

The dolls are expected to sell for as much as $125, while the original Cabbage Patch Kids can be bought for under $20.

Clarke declined to say how many of the talking Cabbage Patch Kids were being manufactured.

The company, which at one point depended on Cabbage Patch Kids for more than half its revenue, saw its performance slip as sales of the dolls dropped. It has since diversified its operations, in part through acquisitions.

Coleco said in July it had returned to profitability in the second quarter following three consecutive losing quarters, earning $752,000 on sales of $146 million. For the first six months of the year, the company lost $8.15 million on sales of $270.5 million.

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