Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 2009 Recap



Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in April 2009. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.

Transformers 1984
Strawberry Shortcake

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake (Kenner)



Strawberry Shortcake
Kenner
1979 -  1985

It's very hard to make an "action figure" line marketed towards girls - The reason being that most girls don't play with them. They're more into dolls and accessorizing, and things of that nature. Despite the odds, Kenner made repeated attempts at these types of toys geared towards young girls. For the most part they were successful, but usually only for short periods of times.


Like My Little Pony, the Strawberry Shortcake series had a small start in 1979, but didn’t take off until the early first half of the year 1980. Back then, the series didn't really have all that much going for it. There was no cartoon series based on it, and therefore kids didn't know what the concept of this new toy line was. In fact, the character was first utilized for greeting cards. Pretty much the only thing the series had going for it was its food related character names that managed to give off a scent that was supposed to resemble the food entitled in the characters name. However, this usually wasn't the case.

The initial series was rather small, including only five figures and no accessories. The characters released were; Strawberry Shortcake, Blueberry Muffin, Apple Dumpling, Huckleberry Pie, and the villain of the series; The Purple Pie Man.

Between 1980 and 1985, Strawberry Shortcake ran six cartoon specials, respectively;

Strawberry Shortcake never had a regular Saturday morning cartoon series. What she had were six cartoon specials, from 1980 to 1985:
"The World of Strawberry Shortcake" (1980)
"Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City" (1981)
"Strawberry Shortcake Pets on Parade" (1982)
"Strawberry Shortcake's Housewarming Surprise" (1983)
"Strawberry Shortcake and the Baby Without a Name" (1984)
"Strawberry Shortcake Meets the Berrykins" (1985)

(thank you to our unknown commenter for this information)

Young girls across the U.S. tuned in to see what the deal was with this scented toy line. Fortunately for Kenner, the series found a following and was able to take off.

The second series of toys produced spanned from 1980 (prior to the show's release) - 1983 with a release of over 20 characters. This series would also be the beginning for several playsets and accessories that would be released throughout the entire series.


The second series saw a re-release of all the original figures on top of several new ones (including the small sub-set - International Friends), but this time they included soft plastic pets which were packaged in with each carded character. The second series included; Strawberry Shortcake with Custard Cat, Blueberry Muffin with Cheesecake Mouse, Angle Cake with Soufflé Skunk, Raspberry Tart with Rhubarb Monkey, Orange Blossom with Marmalade Butterfly, Lemon Meringue with Frappe Frog, Lime Chiffon with Parfait Parrot, Huckleberry Pie with Pupcake Dog, Apple Dumplin with Tea Time Turtle, Apricot and Hopsalot, Butter Cookie and Jelly Bear, Cherry Cuddler with Gooseberry Goose, Almond Tea with Marza Panda, Crepe Suzette with Éclair Poodle, Mint Tulip with Marshland Mallard, Café Ole with Burrito Donkey, (the twins) Lem N Ada with Sugar Woofer, Purple Pie Man with Cackle, and Sour Grapes with Dreg Snake.

Not officially part of the second series, but still released in this same time frame were the creature/pet, Fig Boot and a Dancing Strawberry Shortcake.

FigBoot was a dinosaur that was Baby Needs A Name pet. He was produced in 1984 and is VERY hard to find.

Dancing Strawberry was produce in 1983 and had a lot of accessories that came with her! A mirror with bar, tiara, stand, and dancing cloths. Her body was jointed and she could be moved in many different positions!


In 1984 Kenner started making the ten Party Pleaser dolls. These dolls were dressed in party outfits and their pets had party hats and carried presents. Two new dolls were also issued in this line of dolls. These dolls were Peach Blush from Georgia and Plum Puddin (Who at one time was a boy!!) These two dolls in particular are very sought after by serious collectors. Plum Puddin is considered to be more valuable.

The Party Pleasers line included; Strawberry Shortcake, Orange Blossom, Apple Dumpin, Cherry Cuddler, Angel Cake, Almond Tea, Mint Tulip, and Café Ole.

A separate line of dolls were issued in 1984. Known as the Sweet Sleepers, these dolls were dressed in sleepwear and came with a sleeping bag and a sleepy pet. There were five of these dolls in total. Unlike any other dolls in the Strawberry Shortcake line, there boxes could also converted into play bedroom sets.

The characters in the Sweet Sleeper line were; Strawberry Shortcake, Orange Blossom, Blueberry Muffin, Lemon Meringue, and Raspberry Tart.

Technically the last series of the "action figure" style characters, in 1985 Kenner made the seven Berrykin dolls. These dolls were dressed in fancy party outfits and they had no pets this time, instead they had a little critter called a Berrykin. The Berrykins carried perfume pouches. A new doll was also issued in this line of dolls. This doll was Banana Twirl. All of these dolls are very sought after by serious collectors, especially Banana Twirl who is considered to be the rarest Strawberry Shortcake doll of them all.

Included in this line were; Strawberry Shortcake, Orange Blossom, Mint Tulip, Banana Twirl, Peach Blush, Plum Pudding and the 12 inch Berry Princess.

***Collector Question***

One of our readers wrote in looking for help in identifying the doll in the photo below.



This doll appears to be a vintage Strawberry Shortcake doll, and is marked "American Greeting Corp. 1979" on the back of her neck. In addition, she is also stamped, "Made in Hong Kong" on her upper back. A notable feature is her flat hands.

If you know what this doll is, please post a comment with any information you can share.

Shortly after the Berrykin doll line was released, Kenner stopped production of the "action figure" line and turned more towards producing doll style characters from the series and a new line of miniatures.

But what does one do with all the above Strawberry Shortcake figures that they have? Well, play with them in their playsets of course.

Throughout the entire series, Kenner released about a dozen separate playsets as well as a carrying case. However, in order to put all your figures in said carrying cases, you'd need to purchase quiet a few of them, as each case only held four figures and one pet.


The playsets and accessories released for Strawberry Shortcake were; Berry Happy Home, Garden House, Berry Bake Shop, Carry Case, Snail Cart, Big Berry Trolley, Maple Stirrup, Berry Worm, Flitterbit, Carousel, Berry-Cycle Tricycle, Berry baby Bassinette, and Berry Baby Buggy.

While this was the entire line of the "action figure" style characters, Strawberry Shortcake pushed on through the 80's until the series finally disappeared into the nostalgic hole that these types of things fall in. In the late 1990's, an attempt was made to breath new life into the series, but failed miserably. The remnants of that failed attempt were quickly swept under the rug in a plethora of bargain bins, and reduced for quick sale items.




Kenner made a very sly move when it came to the Berry Happy Home playset. The sold it just as a shell. All the furniture inside was sold separately, room by room. To make it even more annoying, they released three sets of each room. A deluxe, a basic, and an add on.

The deluxe set included every piece for the room, while the basic set included "the essentials", and the add on included the bare minimum (or, the rest of what was not included in the basic set). Obviously if you could get it, the deluxe was the smart way to go.


Now collector's of Strawberry Shortcake will tell you that the Berry Fancy Fun Room and Berry Bubbly Bath are the hardest sets to come by. We're going to set the record straight once and for all. THEY'RE ALL HARD TO COME BY! Just for archiving purposes, we were pulling our hair out trying to locate all these pieces.

We couldn't find a basic and add on set for the Fancy Fun Room, nor could we find a deluxe or basic set for the Berry Bubbly Bath and Berry Merry Attic. At this point with how much we've combed the Earth looking for them, we can't honestly say that they even exist. There is no reference to them on any other website, and no packaged versions to be found anywhere. If you have information or photos pertaining to these particular items, please contact us at thetoybox1138@gmail.com.


Finally, the last pieces released for the Strawberry Shortcake series were double pack clothing sets. Each set was themed differently, and allowed you to get varying outfits for your dolls. There were two different sizes, and depending on the set, you would either get clothing for the five inch dolls, or the four inch dolls.

While collectors have come to reference each outfit by name, there doesn't appear to be any official verbiage on the packages which corresponds with them.


Strawberry Shortcake fought an uphill battle from day one when Kenner decided to produce essentially an action figure line for girls. But, despite this fight, the toys have become an iconic memory to little girls all grown up now, and the series thrives on the secondary market.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

The Transformers 1984 (Hasbro)



The Transformers
Hasbro
1984

Collect vehicles and playsets, or figures? Why not both? That's what you got with the Transformers because, after all, they were more than meets the eyes.

The Transformers, or “Fight! Super Robot Life Form Transformer” if you were in Japan, started in 1984 as both a cartoon in syndication, a comic book series, and a toy line. The series followed the struggle of the Autobots against the evil Decepticons as they fought to save their planet Cybertron for their own factions control. The battle eventually leaves both groups stranded on Earth where the war continues several years later.

Hasbro had the best of both worlds in those days, what with the G.I. Joe series on top of this one. Not only that, but the shows were on back to back, so children across the U.S. couldn't help but be exposed to both. In fact, while they never did in the shows, the two were known to occasionally cross paths in the comic book world.

Transformers was certainly one of the more larger series that launched as far as quantity went. A whopping 28 characters were available upon its initial release. This helped jumpstart children's imaginations as they dueled out their own Autobot versus Decepticon battles in their rooms.

The figures were broken up into three particular groups. There were small, medium and large available. Obvious price variations would occur from this, as well as the overall quality of the figures. The smaller ones didn't maintain the quality that the larger ones did as the attention to detail was never present. While this would get a little better over the years, it wouldn't be by much. However, the larger ones were not without fault, and often times were more fragile, and susceptible to breaking off limbs than the smaller ones.

The following Autobots were released;

Optimus Prime


Bluestreak, Hound
Ironhide, Jazz


Mirage, Prowl
Ratchet, Sideswipe


Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker
Wheeljack


Two variants were produced of the smaller figures. Bumblebee and Cliffjumper were both produced in red and yellow. Between the two Bumblebee figures, the red color one is considered the rarer version. Between the two Cliffjumper figures, the yellow one is the rarer version. It is presumed, but not confirmed that the reason these characters both got different color variants was due to a quality control error by Hasbro who mixed up of which character was which during production.

Fans have come to name the yellow Cliffjumper figure - Bumblejumper, which can cause confusion to new collectors who are not aware that this is actually the variant Cliffjumper figure, and not a whole new figure.

Braun, Bumblebee, Bumblebee (red) Cliffjumper
Cliffjumper (yellow), Gears, Huffer, Windcharger


But, you can't have a bunch of heroes without villains, now can you? The following Decpticons also hit shelves in 1984;

Megatron


Soundwave and Buzzsaw (two pack)


Starscream, Thundercracker
Skywarp


There is a known miscarded version of Frenzy and Laserbeak to be in existence. The miscarded version depicts Frenzy as a red and blue cassette tape, when in fact, this is actually Rumble.

Frenzy and Laserbeak (Miscarded Rumble), Frenzy and Laserbeak
Ravage and Rumble


Each small figure was carded while the medium and large figures came in boxes stuffed with form fitting Styrofoam and/or cardboard. This ended up also making the figures a little more presentable on the shelves, and thus stood out more.

To this day Transformers figures continue to be released in various sets, though the original series officially ended in 1990. What makes this toy line stand out the most is that not only does it still continue on strong, but it's managed to do so long after the cartoon series ended. Even the original line continued on for a few years after the show was officially cancelled.

Whether you love them, hate them, or have no opinion either way, it's clear that Transformers are here to stay.

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