Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake Through the Years...Kenner through The Bridge Direct :)

When I first heard that The Bridge Direct had acquired the rights to Strawberry Shortcake, I was curious to learn more about the different releases of dolls through the years.  I started researching online and was surprised to discover how many different toy companies had produced the dolls.  I thought it would be fun share my findings with all of you here on the blog. :)  Hopefully, by the end of this post, you'll be an expert on Strawberry Shortcake dolls.  

Okay, maybe not an expert.  But you should at least have a basic overview of SSC doll history and how the dolls have changed from release to release. ;)  (Note:  I'll use "SSC" for "Strawberry Shortcake" frequently throughout this post...just to give you a heads up.)

I'll start with just a little disclaimer here...I'm not an expert in the field of Strawberry Shortcake dolls by any means. ;)  I just figured it would be fun to share some of the things I've discovered.  If you see a mistake or have additional information, feel free to leave it in the comments! :)


 These are the six different versions of Strawberry Shortcake dolls we'll be covering in this post. :)  (Feel free to click on the picture to see each of the dolls a little better.) :)

Here are all of my loose girls together.  (I just can't bring myself to debox Lime Chiffon!) ;)

A look at all of the dolls undressed.

Strawberry Shortcake and her friends first appeared in the late 70s and early 80s as artwork on greeting cards for American Greetings.  In 1979, the Kenner company produced the first Strawberry Shortcake dolls.  


Kenner
The Kenner company introduced several Strawberry Shortcake dolls and many of her friends.  They continued to produce the dolls until 1985.

Here is my Kenner Strawberry Shortcake doll with her pet cat Custard.  She is a doll I purchased secondhand.  I never had these particular dolls growing up, but I did have a Strawberry Shortcake "Blow Kiss" baby doll that blew strawberry-scented kisses (which my dad HATED), a Strawberry Shortcake cookbook, and a Strawberry Shortcake tricycle.  Since this is the incarnation of the character that I remember from my childhood, she will always hold a special place in my heart. :)

Kenner SSC has blue eyes with black pupils, eyelashes, a little button nose, freckles on her nose and cheeks, and a little smile painted in the same color as her freckles.  She has short, orange, rooted hair.

 Strawberry stands at just over 5" tall.  She has a simple body design.  My particular doll has a lot of mold and discoloration in her plastic.  I'm not sure if this is common to SSC dolls in particular, but I know a lot of plastic toys from the 80s suffer from mold and discoloration.  It must have been something they used in the plastic back then. :}

Her arms and legs turn at the shoulders and hips, and her head turns back and forth.

An interesting factoid: four of the first five dolls released in 1979 (Apple Dumplin', Huckleberry Pie, Blueberry Muffin, and Strawberry Shortcake) had flat hands instead of curved ones like my doll (which would be from one of the later releases, either 1980 or 1981).  The flat-handed dolls are more desirable for collectors because they are more rare.  The fifth doll released in 1979, The Purple Pieman, was a completely different mold and height, so he did not have the same flat hands.  

She has identifying marks on the back of her head ("[copyright sign] American Greetings Corp. 1979")...

...and on her back ("Made in Hong Kong").

I don't know a whole lot about these dolls, but I do enjoy collecting them and remembering my childhood. :)  Aside from the mold issues, I've noticed that their hair is very thinly rooted, so if you get one secondhand the hair can be pretty sparse or just a huge disaster.   I've also noticed that their clothing is often damaged, especially the ribbons used to tie the clothing shut in the back.  They are often either missing or badly frayed.  I think it was difficult for the kiddos who played with them to work with the ribbons and snaps. :}  

One nice thing about the SSC line is that it's not well known enough to be considered valuable by most of the general public.  As a result, you can usually find them for a good price at thrift stores and such if you keep an eye out for them. :)

Another thing I love about this line is their pets.  I've honestly considered just trying to collect all of the pets from the Kenner release!  They're so adorable! :)  I'll share a few photos of the ones I have in a later post. ;)

For an in-depth look at the Kenner dolls, be sure to check out Ghost of the Doll's SSC page HERE.  This is my favorite "go to" site for information about 80s and 90s toys, and as always, they do not disappoint. :)


Toy Headquarters (THQ)
In 1991, Toy Headquarters got the rights to the Strawberry Shortcake dolls, and produced a short-lived line that only lasted for one year.  

This is the line I know the least about, and SSC dolls from THQ seem to be the hardest to find.  I'm so glad my mom found this one at an antique store! :)

This is THQ Lime Chiffon, still in her package.  As best as I can tell through the packaging, she appears to stand at approximately 5 1/2".

As you can see, her eyes are wider and more detailed than Kenner SSC's.  She has a simpler freckle pattern (three freckles on each cheek instead of five) and the addition of tiny eyebrows, but her nose, mouth, and basic facial structure seem to be the same (although I think her cheeks are slightly slimmer).  Strawberry Shortcake from this line had blue eyes like the Kenner doll and reddish-orange hair.

I'm not able to share as many details on this particular doll since I'm keeping her in her package.  As near as I can tell, she seems to have an identical body to the Kenner doll.

I'll share more detailed pics of her packaging in a later post. :)

I really can't say much more about these dolls.  I don't have enough experience with them to know whether they have any pros or cons.  They are definitely harder to find than the Kenner dolls, and I do actually prefer the Kenner dolls a bit more overall.  Still, there are some really cute dolls from this line that would be enjoyable for a SSC fan.


Bandai
After the THQ dolls finished their run, Strawberry Shortcake dolls faded from toy shelves like a distant memory.  Then, in 2003, at a time when many toy companies were revamping old 80s toys (trying to suck in people like me who had grown up with certain characters and could now introduce them to their own children), the Bandai company released a new version of Strawberry Shortcake.

Here is my Bandai SSC with her pet cat Custard (stripes instead of spots this time around). ;)  Strawberry has a super cute face and lots of detail in her clothing and accessories.

  And that whole thing with toy companies trying to appeal to parents by bringing back their childhood characters?  It totally worked. :}  My third birthday party had a Strawberry Shortcake theme, so when these adorable SSC dolls were available around the time of Oldest Gal's third birthday, I decided it would be fun to do a Strawberry Shortcake birthday party for her, too.  I can still remember the way I decorated the table.  I had a framed picture of myself at three years old with a Kenner Strawberry Shortcake doll set up next to it, and then I had a picture of Oldest Gal at three years old with a Bandai Strawberry Shortcake doll.  It was such a cool, multi-generational thing. :)  I even had my mom make a birthday cake for Oldest Gal using the same Strawberry Shortcake cake pan she had used for my third birthday! :)  It was completely awesome.

But moving on.  This is, after all, an informative doll comparison post, not a walk down memory lane. ;)

Bandai SSC's design is a great homage to the original two releases.  Her eyes are similar to the THQ dolls, and she keeps the same simple freckle pattern.  Her eyes are brown rather than blue.  She has short, reddish-brown hair that is rooted.

The dolls in this line had all sorts of fun details, like actual socks and underwear (even though she already had painted underwear on underneath!).

Her arms are made of an extremely flexible plastic.

She stands at just over 5" tall.

Her arms, legs and head have the same simple poses as the Kenner doll, although her legs stay a bit closer together when she sits.

She has identifying marks on her back ("[copyright sign] TCFC Bandai 2002 China").

Here she is next to the original SSC.  (See, can't you just picture these two on a table for a birthday party?  It really was cool.) ;)

I think that, out of all of the newer waves of SSC dolls, the Bandai version is the closest in look and feel to the original.  She's almost exactly the same height, and she has the same sweet, little-girl-innocence about her.  

The Bandai SSC dolls are fairly easy to find on eBay for pretty decent prices.  I would recommend buying them new in the package, though.  Unfortunately, these dolls have an odd issue with their hair.  Even with normal play and handling, they go bald.  I can't even tell you how many of these dolls I've seen (Oldest Gal's included) that are completely bald.  I'm not sure if the rooting was done incorrectly, or if it was some sort of faulty glue they used, or what.  But I've made it a point to never buy deboxed Bandai SSC dolls on eBay unless I can see a good, clear picture of their heads. :{  My doll has done okay, but I purposely don't fool with her too much and try to keep her hat on as often as possible.  (I think that this was the first time I'd ever undressed her or done more than displayed her since I bought her earlier this year!)


Playmates
In 2006, Playmates Toys took over for Bandai (perhaps due in part to the hair issue?).  Playmates decided to add some height to the dolls and give them more of a young teen appearance.  They brought out several different waves of the dolls, such as "Flavor Swirl", "Candy Pop", "Berries and Blossoms", and more.  They also introduced several new characters to the lineup, with fun new scents.  This line lasted until 2008.  

Playmates Strawberry Shortcake.  This particular doll is the "Candy Pops" Strawberry Shortcake.

She has a sweet face.  Her eyes have a similar but more "grown up" design, as do her lips.  Her freckles are in a more realistic pattern rather than the very deliberate groups of three or five that the earlier versions had.  Playmates SSC also sticks with the brown eye color of Bandai SSC, although the shade is slightly different.  She has long, rooted red hair with pink highlights.

Here she is next to the Bandai Strawberry Shortcake.  She looks like Bandai SSC's older sister or babysitter. ;)

We don't have many dolls from this line, but I thought I'd share a picture of Strawberry next to Lemon Meringue, who was my latest eBay find for Oldest Gal (who collects the Playmates SSC dolls).  She has never been played with.

Here is Strawberry undressed.  She stands at approximately 7" tall.   I appreciated that even though they made her a little older, they let her keep her little girl figure.

She has the same simple articulation as the others before her, turning at the head, shoulders, and hips.

She has identifying marks on her back ("[copyright sign] TCFC 2006 Playmates Toys Inc, Made in China 16165").

These dolls used to be my least favorite of the Strawberry Shortcake releases, but they've started to grow on me.  Oldest Gal adores them and prefers them to all of the other lines.  

If you like these best of all, you'll be happy to know that these are the SSC dolls I see the most in thrift stores and at yard sales.  You can also get them for fairly decent prices on eBay.  They are still pretty easy to find and have a lot of fun characters to choose from.  They are taller and narrower than any of the other SSC dolls, so they can't share clothing or shoes with them.



Hasbro
In 2009, the Strawberry Shortcake dolls got yet another makeover, this time with the Hasbro company.  Hasbro's SSC dolls ended up with more of a trendy little girl look, maybe tweenish, but definitely younger than the Playmates versions.  Hasbro produced the dolls until just last year, in 2013. 

Here is my Hasbro Strawberry.

Her face is sweet and young looking.  Her eyes are looking slightly up and are green this time around, but are reminiscent of some of the other eye designs.  She has five freckles across her nose and soft, pink lips.  Her rooted hair is long and red.

She stands at approximately 6" tall.

Her legs move the same way as the earlier dolls, but she has more posability in her arms.

She has identifying marks on her back ("Hasbro SA #36157 C-031D").

She also has a little strawberry icon on her foot.  I'm not sure what the odd holes in her feet are for.  Perhaps a coordinating playset?

I thought I'd share a few more pics, giving a better idea of her posable arms:

The Hasbro dolls are some of my very favorites.  While Hasbro SSC still looks a bit more trendy and grown up than the original dolls, she still retains a sort of sweet innocence to her look.  I love the dolls' cute faces, colorful clothing, and light, sweet scents.

Even though Strawberry and her friends are no longer being made by Hasbro, those of you who prefer this line still have a fairly good chance of finding some of the dolls.   I've seen a few remaining leftovers of this line at my local Toys R Us, and they are also fairly easy to locate on eBay.


The Bridge Direct
Just this past year, it was announced that The Bridge Direct would be the newest toy company to bring Strawberry Shortcake to the toy shelves.  These dolls have just now started trickling into stores, and there are only a few different ones that have been released so far.  It will be interesting to see how children and collectors respond to this version of SSC, and how the line does in today's tough doll market. 

My SSC from The Bridge Direct.  I just did a review post on this doll, but for the sake of consistency, I'll share similar photos of her in this post as well.  If you missed my previous post, you can see it HERE

This Strawberry has larger, darker green eyes than the Hasbro version, but has a very similar five freckle pattern across her nose.  She has long, red hair with pink highlights that is rooted.

This doll has the shiniest hair I've seen of all of the former dolls.

Strawberry undressed.  She stands at approximately 5 1/2" tall.

Her legs bend at the hips, and her arms are even more posable than Hasbro SSC's.

She has identifying marks on the back of her head ("[copyright sign] 2014 TCFC TBD, Made in China").

Like Hasbro SSC, she has a strawberry icon on her foot.  She does not, however, have holes in the bottoms of her feet.

Again, since I included a pretty detailed comparison of the Hasbro and Bridge Direct dolls in my previous post, I won't go into it again here.  I thought I would share this picture again, though, since these two dolls are based on the same character interpretation.

I know this picture is on my header right now, but I thought it would be interesting to have a copy within this post and take another look at the faces all together to see the differences.  It's interesting seeing how things like the face shape, eyes, and freckle patterns have developed through the years. :)  You can definitely see the similarities between the first three releases and the last two.  Playmates SSC is kind of the transitional gal who doesn't really match anyone. ;)

Now that you've seen them all, which SSC release is your favorite?  I actually like them all, but Kenner, Bandai, and Hasbro are my top faves, with The Bridge Direct taking a close second. ;)

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Can't get enough Strawberry Shortcake?  Here are some links with more info on some of the different dolls:

   -Just what it says. ;)  This includes stock photos of all of the new releases so far.

   -Wikipedia has a great page on Strawberry Shortcake, giving a basic overview of the characters and the TV shows.

   -This page on this site gives a nice overview of SSC history.  While it focuses mainly on Vintage characters and toys, it has info on the dolls all the way up to 2006.

   -Another good resource for photos of vintage Kenner dolls and toys.

   -A wonderful guide to SSC dolls through the years.  This one covers Kenner to Hasbro.

   -I know I already linked to this earlier, but I figured I'd put the link here again and keep them all together. ;)  An excellent, detailed guide to the SSC releases during the Kenner era.

  -This is a fun place to stop if you want to see photos of SSC dolls from personal collections.  It appears to include all types of SSC dolls.

  -My Pinterest page dedicated to all things Strawberry Shortcake.  I decided I wanted to make a quick visual guide to as many different Strawberry Shortcake dolls and merchandise as I could find.  Eventually, I may divide it up by release, but for now, it's all clumped together. ;)  Enjoy!


Have a great link to a Strawberry Shortcake-related site?  Feel free to leave it in the comments! :) 

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I hope you enjoyed this look at the different SSC dolls that have been released! :)  Check back tomorrow for pictures of my own personal SSC doll and figure collection. :)

19 comments:

Farrah Lily said...

Wow! What an awesome breakdown. I appreciate all the time you must've put into this review and it's a great resource for someone like me who is new to doll collecting, but still loves the old versions we grew up with in the 80s. That custard the cat doll brings back memories!

Smaller Places said...

This is fantastic!

I'd been wondering last week what ever became of Strawberry Shortcake and whether there had been multiple waves like My Little Pony, but it was the sort of question I was hoping somebody else would tackle so all I had to do was read the results. And you did!

Alice said...

I think my favorite is Bandai (although it might be because those are the SSC doll I grew up with.)My least favorites (in no particular order) are Playmates and The bridge direct, mainly because I don't like the turning SSC into teenager dolls are not supposed to grow up. The Hasbro one had a softer face so I'll accept her. The same thing is happening to Dora, she's being turned into a tween, but I like her new design so...

beastsbelle said...

You're welcome, Farrah. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It did take a lot of time, and I was worried that I might forget something. :} I hope it becomes a helpful resource for my readers. :)

I love vintage Custard, too! :D She brings back a lot of memories for me as well. :)

Lol, glad I could help you, Smaller Places! :) Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Alice! I know what you mean. Sometimes it's frustrating to see a character change when you see no need for the change (to be honest, I'm feeling somewhat that way about the Lalaloopsy Girls dolls). I still personally enjoy all the SSC lines myself, but I do understand your sentiment. :}

Casey said...

I had the Blow Kiss baby doll, too. I kept her for years, in spite of the fact that she was in pretty rough condition (but her scent never left!). I still have a SSC rocking chair, sadly the paint and decal are peeling off :( The Kenner style is definitely what I remember growing up with, but I actually prefer the Bandai's face and bobbed hair. Really interesting to see all the changes over the years. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

beastsbelle said...

Hi Casey! Great to hear from you. :) Glad I could give you a little reminder of your childhood through this post. ;)

I was able to find a replacement blow kiss SSC (which I gave to my dad as a gag gift for Christmas a few years ago). Sadly, her strawberry kiss scent was gone. I think that actually relieved my dad, though. ;) My mom has the doll now, and my girls love playing with her. :)

Hope you're doing well! :)

Mark Patraw said...

I can't say that I dislike any incarnation of the Strawberry Shortcake brand (I'd probably buy any version, if they were in good condition, and the price was right), but, as I mentioned previously, like yourself, the original Kenner ones are the ones closest to my heart, as that's what I grew up with, and the classic toys and animated cartoon are always the first thing that I think of when I hear her name mentioned. I can understand that toy companies feel the need to dress/style her more "hip" for modern generations--I'm fine with that--being too much of a slave to the past can arguably be just as bad as straying too far from it.

It's also been my experience that thrift stores almost always price Strawberry Shortcake merchandise reasonably, which is great. I rarely see an SSC item marked more than two or three bucks, even playsets, and often they're much less than that. That said, I mostly see the McDonald's figurines, rather than the actual dolls, and, out of those, I favor the 2007 ones, because they have rooted hair. Speaking of which, now that Bridge Direct has the license, I wonder if they'll do a fast food promotion in the future?

I also enjoyed your story about your eldest daughter's 3rd SSC-themed birthday party and how you tied your own childhood SSC experience into it. I imagine your mother/father got just as much of a kick out of that as you did. Who knows? If Mrs. Shortcake is still around when your daughters grow up and have children of their own, perhaps one of them will choose to do the same thing, making it a triple-generational SSC blow-out (and if that wouldn't be a Guinness Book of World Records achievement, it ought to be!)

beastsbelle said...

I agree, Mark. It's fun to see our old toys updated as long as they don't stray too far and contradict the purpose and feel of the originals. :)

I have to admit, I haven't found many SSC items at the thrift store recently, but I do see a lot of the little McDonald's toys there. I'm not really a fan of the SSC ones. It will be interesting to see if McDonald's does another wave of them, though.

It was so much fun doing the SSC party for Oldest Gal...and yes, I think it was just as fun for Mom and Dad. :)

That would be so cool if we could do the triple SSC party!! :D I guess I'll have to just wait and see if one of my daughters has a child into Strawberry Shortcake and if Strawberry Shortcake is still around. :}

Anonymous said...

Hi. I loved this post! Very informative, and your pictures are great. I just bought two of the new Bridge Direct dolls, and it looks like your Bridge Direct Strawberry Shortcake isn't quite perfect. Mine have longer necks, and closer-spaced eyes. Perhaps yours was one of the first releases, and they corrected the neck problem and tweaked the eye position in later releases? The neck on yours definitely doesn't look quite right. Anyway, great post.

beastsbelle said...

Hi Anonymous! Thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post.

Thanks for letting me know about my Strawberry Shortcake. I'll be heading to a Toys R Us this weekend, so I'll be able to check out some of the other SSC dolls from Bridge Direct. I was already tempted to at least one more doll to my collection anyway. ;)

Anonymous said...

The hasbro one reminds me of Ariel!

beastsbelle said...

I can see the resemblance, Anonymous. :)

Da Boz said...

Interesting tidbit about the bandai shortcake dolls, the hair issue is because of whatever chemical they used for the scent on strawberry shortcake herself. Originally when I bought the first issue version, she smelled great... But fast forward some years and they smell like vinegar, no joke. This affects just the dolls from the first two or three lines, bandai did fix this and latter issue dolls still smell great and keep their hair. Rule of thumb if shortcake smells bad she'll loose her hair if she hasn't already, I have a few boxed ones and so long as I don't disturb them their hair will be fine... But at some point I may get later versions and replace these with those. I really like bandais line it was the only one untold bridge direct that bothered with their pets, for some dolls anyways. Though I miss all the quirky animals that used to Come with them, now they're just all dogs...:-/.

But a nice article, THQ dolls are basically just re-releases of the Kenner dolls with updated ascetics, all the molds for the dolls and shoes were the same as kenners.

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Thanks so much for this additional information, Da Boz. :) I loved researching the differences in these dolls through the years.

I sure feel bad for whoever developed the original scent for the Bandai dolls...I'm guessing they didn't keep their job. ;)

Thanks for stopping by!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Thanks so much for this additional information, Da Boz. :) I loved researching the differences in these dolls through the years.

I sure feel bad for whoever developed the original scent for the Bandai dolls...I'm guessing they didn't keep their job. ;)

Thanks for stopping by!

Richard Thompson said...

I had her friend Huckleberry pie, I remember his scent, and in this new edition he is also Strawberry scented :( I would've liked him to be huckleberry scented like in the 80's :(

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Hi Richard! Yeah, I'm pretty bummed about the scent changes, too. The crazy thing is, all of the other newer lines kept the same scents. Only Bridge Direct decided to change things up. Sigh. Why fix something that isn't broken?

Jenn said...

Thanks for the information. I'll be sharing this with my vintage collectors group on Facebook. Feel free to stop by.

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

You're welcome, Jenn. Glad to help! :) I'd love to stop by your Facebook group sometime. :)