Circus Kids got their own horses in 1986 when the Circus Ponies came out. Did you know their saddles hide a clothing code surprise?
Another surprise addition to the clothing code matrix has been discovered.
There are several CPK horses, and they have been sold by various companies over the years. In 1985, Coleco produced and sold plush horses both with their Western Wear Kids and separately. These horses are called Show Ponies. Then, in 1986, they put out Circus Ponies as part of the Circus Kids line. They are the same plush horses and came in the same Show Pony boxes, except they had a Circus Pony sticker on the window pane. These horses came with different accessories and different birth certificates. Sometimes they came in a white windowless carton instead of the barn-shaped box.
A Circus Pony came with a bridle with head plume, reversible fringed saddle, and leg warmers. There were only two versions of the saddle produced by the CC factory.
420A: A light pink saddle with dark pink fringe and yellow stars. The reverse side is white with multicoloured polka dots (I think?) The leg warmers are light pink. [I still need pictures if you have one.]
420B: A dark pink saddle with yellow fringe and green polka dots with yellow dots. The reverse side is white with multicoloured square dots. The leg warmers are dark pink.
What’s so interesting is that the saddles are on the clothing matrix! They have the code #420. Now, it’s hard to keep track of, but there are very few items in the 400s. A few transitional Hasbro BBB outfits (400-403), 1988 regular outfits (402-405), and Furskins outfits (430s). That’s it. So, finding these in the 400s is very random.
I wonder what other 400s items we haven’t found yet. After all, we haven’t got anything with the number 440 or higher! Do you?
It is interesting that the horses were produced by the Korean WJ factory, but the saddles were made at the Chinese CC factory. No code match here! I wonder if all the pieces were made at the same factory.
This is the catalogue picture used by Coleco to advertise the Circus Ponies.
They’re mistake gives us another opportunity see behind the scenes of outfit production.
A few months ago Stephania Blum found a rather unique and interesting outfit and I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to see it. Although Coleco outfits are generally well made using good materials, sometimes weird stuff crops up.
She figures they accidentally used the beginning or end of a fabric roll to make the blouse area of this Frilly dress (4L CC).
Another collector, Laura Fulton, ran it through Google Translate.
After some research, the text seems to say the following:
Trueran – a type of poplin fabric; can be dyed White: colour Shanghai, China: location it was produced, perhaps? Shanghai is on the coast of the East China Sea and producers would have had easy access to the ports there. (Update Note: Google translate didn’t quite get it right, the word Lixi is not there. Special Thanks to Kylie Redfern for the new information)
This is a CC factory outfit so it never came on a kid. It’s just a fluke that they used the fabric in such as way that it was completely legible!
Sometimes the fabric an outfit is made out of can give you an idea about where it was made.
Do you have an outfit made from an unusual fabric? What does it mean?
From experience, I’ve noted that from 1983 to 1984, certain factories used specific fabrics for some outfits. This means that if an outfit is made from a certain fabric, you’ll have some idea of what factory/place may have made it.
I’m sorting this list in two ways; first by fabric type, second by outfit. The first group had more than one or two outfits made with it. Please note, I’m not an expert in fabrics, so if I’ve used the wrong term/label please let me know!
I believe that this fabric was only used by the OK factory for the Elephant Romper (#7), however, I have a very limited sample size. It was also used for Jesmar Preemie bunny outfits.
NOTE: Velveteen was used for other outfits too, but they are later outfits and it wasn’t factory or outfit indicative.
Heavy Canvas fabric
This fabric was used by some Jesmar factories for Swing dresses and Yoke dresses.
Striped Jogging Suit (#18) – Most of them have cotton material at the arms and legs. However, some are made with a silkier, thicker, more synthetic material. This fabric was used by the P, PMI, LF, and IJ factories (that I know of).
Correct Outfit(s): Sleeper (#2) & Cord Outfit (#5). Most frequently ‘incorrectly’ found on: Elephant rompers (#7), Kitty Track Suits (#6) It has also been found on: Ducky Dress (#11), Bib Dress (#15) (only once), Preemie Outfit #13
The Sleeper patches have a yellow and gold colour scheme, whereas the patches on the Corduroy Suit have a brown and dark beige colour scheme.
Both versions of the patch were used as ‘incorrect patches on other outfits, but I have a higher percentage of the lighter ones recorded as used in this way.
The Taiwanese factory patches also come in both light and dark, but their patches are generally much darker in colour.
Correct Outfit: Kitty Track Suits (#6), Most frequently ‘incorrectly’ found on: Ducky Dress (#11) It has also been found on: no other outfits It has NOT been found on: Sleeper (#2), Cord Suit (#5), Elephant Romper, (#7), Bib Dress (#15)
There appear to be two versions of this patch. One has a light-coloured outline and the other a dark outline. There does not seem to be any pattern as to when a factory uses the light or the dark version.
Once again, the only exception is the USA patch. Although there is a USA patches look like the others (although the face is badly rendered), another version has a green mouth, black eyes and pink whiskers and yet another version has pink eyes, green whiskers, and a black mouth.
Correct Outfit: Elephant Romper (#7) Most frequently ‘incorrectly’ found on: none stand out at this time It has also been found on: Kitty Track Suits (#6), Sleeper (#2), Cord outfit (#5) It has NOT been found on: Ducky Dress (#11), Bib Dress (#15)
UPDATE: An elephant has been found on a bib, but no details are available on if it’s original or had been added later.
Each factory seems to have produced both a light outline and a dark outline version.
There are two types of trunks, one S-shaped and one C-shaped.
The C-shaped trunk has only been found on TSU and OK outfits with the ‘incorrect’ patch (as in, not Elephant Rompers). These OK patches are also lighter than most of the other OK patches. Interestingly, they are also found on aftermarket outfits. Jump to Plentiful Patches Part 1 for more information.
Correct Outfit: Ducky Dress (#11) Most frequently ‘incorrectly’ found on: Elephant Romper (#7) & Cord outfit (#5) It has also been found on: Sleeper (#2), Bib Dress (#15) It has NOT been found on: Kitty Track Suit (#6)
There appears to be little variation in the appearance of the duck patches. The only differences I can see are in the colour of the thread used to make the feet and bill. Some thread is slightly darker than others.
Correct Outfit: Bib Dress (#15)
Most frequently ‘incorrectly’ found on: none stand out at this time It has also been found on: Kitty Track Suits (#6), Cord outfit (#5), Ducky Dress (#11), Elephant Romper (#7) It has NOT been found on: Sleeper (#2)
This patch does not seem to have been used ‘incorrectly’ very often but has been found on almost all the ‘patch’ outfits.
There do not appear to be many factory variations in the appearance of this patch. However, this is very difficult to determine, as bibs are very easy to switch from outfit to outfit. P factory giraffes may have slightly darker dots than the OK factory giraffes.
The only exceptions I’ve found are the USA patch and the TP patch. The USA patches look significantly different with gold edging, a silver tail, and red body dots versus the OK giraffes with orange edging, a yellow tail, and beige dots. The TP patches have very dark orange outlines and very dark spots. The tail is a dark golden yellow and sticks up.
As noted in Part 1, this patch is very rare. I have only recorded it on Kitty Track Suits (#5), Elephant Rompers (#7), and Ducky Dresses (#11) so far. I have seen it in yellow, red, and blue.
Other Bunny Patch (not CPK)
This patch is often confused as an official CPK patch. At this time our evidence shows that it came on aftermarket, Sunshine Kids, outfits. Like all the patches at the time, they were likely sold individually as well.
As noted in Part 1, this patch is very rare. I have only recorded it on bib dresses. I have seen it in white, yellow, and red. I have three instances of this patch on early Coleco outfits, and one (in red) on a Tsukuda outfit. At this time I have only found it being used by the OK factory.
Cotton pinafore-type sundress. The sleeves, dress hem, and peter pan collar are one colour, and the remainder of the dress is another. A line of lace runs around the bottom of the pinafore section and around the neck. There is a white satin bow in the front middle just below the collar.
Bloomers that match the colour/pattern of the sleeves.
A bonnet with a bow on top and lace around the fringe. It is the same colour/pattern as the ‘pinafore’ section of the dress.
This outfit was most likely sold only from 1984 – 1985. Some packaged versions may have sold later than that.
My goal is to find every version of every outfit that was produced. Below is a record of each version of this outfit that I have, up to the date indicated. To understand clothing codes, factories and variations, please refer to the suggested readings below.
If you have an outfit that is not recorded here or does not match my information, (e.g. you have an 8D OK that is pink with pink buds, not yellow with yellow buds) I would appreciate hearing from you. Information is best sent in the form of pictures. For details on the pictures required, jump to Taking Clothing Tag Pics.
> There are variations in the lace based on the factory. I have found that the P factory uses one lace, the OK and CC factories use another, and the FW and SS factories use another.
> I have found one example of this outfit with a velveteen bow. I am unsure if this was added later, or if it’s original. I do not have any information for it. Do you have anything similar?
> Mimic Outfit: #708 – This outfit is structurally identical to outfit #8 but doesn’t come with a bonnet. In addition, the pinafore is the coloured/patterned section, instead of the sleeves, bloomers, and collar, which are white. The pinafore section fabric has flower cutout patterns in it.
NOTE: These outfits do not have conventionally agreed-upon names. Therefore, the names used below were created by me purely for the sake of expediency to distinguish one from the other.
This series came out in 1984, with the original preemies. There are 16 outfits, and they are numbered from 1 to 16 using the same coding convention as the 1983 regular kid series.
Each outfit came with a code that consists of a letter and a number. The numbers represent the outfit type, and the letters represent a specific fabric pattern or colour combination.
With this series, certain letters seem to have been produced primarily by certain factories. I call these the Primary Factory(PF) for each letter. For example, the P factory produced the letters A to C for almost all the outfits, I think. Here are the primary factories, as proposed, at this point:
However, outfits were often produced by multiple factories, not just the Primary Factory. For example, I know that outfit 8G was produced by the primary factory SS, and by the FW factory. Below, we know that 8E was produced by two factories. Can you figure out which ones?
As you can see above, different factories often produced different versions, even if they are given the same code. (Refer to 8E above) Consequently, checking to see if I have something recorded based on the code, factory and description is superior to using just one descriptor.
We need to record all of the factories that made each outfit, as there are often differences between them, even if some aren’t drastic differences. These differences can then be used to identify an outfit’s factory, which may help to identify the possible factory of the kid wearing it or let you know if you need it for a specific kid. These differences can include but are not limited to:
Generally, the first six outfits, all gowns, came with knit booties. Outfits #7 to #14, all came with regular shoes. Outfits #15 and #16 did not come with either.
However, there seem to always be exceptions. I am aware of at least one MIB preemie that came wearing a gown and shoes. This appears to be an exception. Maybe they ran out of booties that day? Maybe it is an example of an in-store switch?
Some of the codes on these outfits start with the letter B. e.g. B10J
I have no concrete explanation for this. My theories:
These outfits were not produced until 1985, so were given B tags to match the 1985 B Series.
The B indicates that they were manufactured in 1985. In this case, 1984 was A but not labelled as such. As possible evidence, I have one outfit from the SS factory that has both a B tag and a non-B tag. Perhaps one was produced in 1984, and one was produced in 1985.
The B indicates they are the ‘second version’ of an outfit that was already being manufactured. However, using the evidence from theory two, I cannot see any major differences between the two SS outfits, so cannot understand why they would need a ‘second version’.
So far, the only B tagged outfits I have are on outfits #10 – #14, and only SS and WS factory outfits in letters G, H, J, and K. I will need more records to determine which of the theories, or another one not yet considered, is correct.
> I have one outlier letter recorded, an R. It is on a #4 outfit made by the SS factory. It is odd that all the letters between L and R are otherwise empty. Could this be a factory fluke, and they used a 4R tag from the 1983 series when they ran out of whatever it was supposed to be? Do you have any other preemie outfits with the letters L-R in their code?
> There are at least two packaged versions of every preemie outfit in this series. It appears that the CC factory, which manufactured only packaged clothing, produced at least letters D and E for each outfit, except #15 & #16, which were made by the FW factory. Other versions, made by the OK, P, and other factories, also came packaged.
> The knit outfits, #15 and #16, were only available packaged and were made by the FW factory, located in China. Interestingly, they came out the same year as the 1984 series knit outfits, which were made by the EX factory, located in Taiwan. Only two versions of each outfit were produced, letters F and G. I have no idea why they chose those letters.
> Preemie Twins and preemie twin clothing were planned, but never produced. You can see them in these catalogue photos. For more information, refer to Ref 3, p. 178.
They’ve been around the world and returned wearing wonderful outfits.
World Traveler Kids were only produced in 1985. There were six different outfits manufactured to feature five countries.
The kids came with a suitcase/bag, a World Traveler hand tag, a passport, an airline ticket, a white t-shirt, and a regular birth certificate. The passport had one of three countries on it: the United States, Canada, or Australia. The Australian version is VHTF. (Ref#5, p. 13)
World Traveler clothing tag codes are different. They have A – #. (For more information on unusual clothing codes, jump to Oddball Tags.)
World Traveler (WT) dolls and their clothes were made by the OK and PMI factories. I believe that both factories made all of the outfits, but I still need two outfits to prove this. Other CPK reference sources indicate that WT outfits also came on P kids, but these would have originally been sold on twins, not on a World Traveler. (See below)
The shoes are hard to find and difficult to keep on.
Like the outfit and the doll, the shoes are labeled with the factory. The blue fabric used for the dress can come in a variety of shades.
The Russian World Traveler was not produced as long as the others; therefore, it is harder to find. (1986 NYC Toy Fair Report, p. 2). This may have been because they were not very popular. In fact, stores at the time were reported taking them off the shelves due to lack of popularity. (Ref#5, p. 27) The shoes are also likely labeled with the factory. Thank you to Kendra for confirming this. They have been found with OK and SD factory marks.
There are two Spanish outfits. A-4 is the boy’s outfit, and A-5 is the girl’s. Both factories made both outfits. The boy’s shoes and hat can be hard to find. The girl’s veil and black lace tights are also hard to find.
Actually, there are numerous versions of the girl’s outfit. Each factory produced a long-skirted version and a short-skirted version. Then there are the white accent versions and black accent versions. Here are the combinations I have recorded so far.
There are visible differences between the details of each factory version. The boys outfits have different stitching detail on the jacket flaps, and the girl’s outfits use different fabrics, different lace, and different densities of lace.
The White T-Shirts
These were manufactured by the CC and SS factories. If either CC or SS came with a specific factory, I have not noticed yet. The CC factory shirts are made of a thinner material that is more see-through than the SS fabric.
I have recorded CC versions of all five t-shirts, but not SS. I am missing China, Spanish Girl, and Scotland.
There was a second set of World Traveler outfits announced at the 1986 New York Toy Fair, but they were never actually produced. The countries included in the new line were England, Japan, Italy, Ireland, France, and Switzerland. The prototype outfits that were used for photoshoots and at the toy show are out there, as they sold on eBay in 2005. (Leah Salt, FB post, Aug. 10, 2020; Ref #3, p. 93) For pictures of the prototypes, refer to Ref#3, page 98.
Like many of the other special editions that came out in 1985, the World Travelers did not sell well due to their higher price point. Eventually, to get rid of overstock, Coleco started putting all sorts of weird combinations together. Consequently, the outfits can be found on twin sets, some of which were Jesmar kids. Twins came out earlier in Canada, and many of the oddball twin sets are found in Canadian boxes. (Ref#5, 82) They can also be found in ‘single’ kid boxes.
Both the WT outfits and the white shirts that came with them also came out packaged separately. They can be found in a variety of packaging styles.
Butterick created a sewing pattern specifically for the World Traveler outfits.
This is the advertising picture from the 1985 Coleco Catalogue.
Why were USA outfits created? How can you identify them? Find out.
Some outfits have tags with Made in USA on them (or a tag that looks like the ones below). These outfits are structurally similar to some of the original 1983 Series outfits but have differences. No one seems to know anything about this factory. Nothing.
The predominant thought is that the clothing was licensed by Coleco, for production by a US company, to handle the surge in demand starting in 1984. Producing the outfits closer to home would reduce the amount of time to get it to customers, and in theory, cost less. (FB conversation, Jodi’s Punki Patch)
My personal theory is that, as Coleco had several manufacturing facilities in the US (Source), instead of having another company do it, they decided to utilize some of their own facilities to manufacture the outfits. However, having little experience with that kind of toy and lacking access to the right materials, the final product was substandard and did not meet the exact specifications.
I have evidence for USA clothing coming packaged in a 1984 box (although I could not find out if it was sealed), on a boxed kid in 1985 (FB Conversation, Cheyne Wilelm Gosnell, Feb. 10, 2020; Becca Billard, Feb. 10, July 2022), and on twin sets wearing Fun Furs later in 1985 or 1986. (Photo below courtesy of Sabrina Vanessa Adams). If this evidence holds, it means USA outfits are legitimate CPK brands and were sold for at least four years and were included in the mass ‘overstock’ clear out that started in 1985/86 where they began just putting anything on kids to sell them.
Other items that came with the kids (not official accessories or separately sold items made by separately granted licenses) have been found marked Made in USA as well. So far, the astronaut helmets (no matter the country) and all of the glasses that I have available to check, are marked in this fashion. Were they made at the same factory or just by a US factory that was hired to make them?
Identification and Comparison
I have identified six USA outfits; I believe there are likely more, as of yet, unidentified ones. These outfits can occasionally be identified by look, but always by the clothing tag. There are two versions of the front side, but the tags all have the same opposite side. The only difference is that one says, Made in USA, and one does not. However, they are all USA-made clothes.
UPDATE: A USA dress without a tag has been identified. (Becca Billiard, FB, Feb. 10, 2022)
The easiest way to identify a USA outfit, without looking at the clothing tag, is the silk label. The USA labels are canvas-like, larger, and off-white
In general, the material used for these outfits, especially the white fabrics, were much thinner and of lower quality. They also used a lace that is different from the Coleco lace.
So far, all the recorded outfits are made using grey heather fabric, not solid grey fabric.
One outfit has been found with two colours of trim; white and light pink. It looks like the arms and pants from one outfit were used with the trunk of another. This may be another example of substandard work.
Chinese factories use the regular label that we are all familiar with. Factories: OK, P, CC, FW, KT, LF, PMI, SS, WS
Factories from Taiwan use a larger label is that is white in colour. Factories: AX, CY, EX, FD, IC, UT, WW, HRS
Labels from the Korean factories (IJ, SY) look like the regular China labels, but they are slightly darker in colour.
Outfits from the USA factory are larger, white and made of a canvas-like material.
Jesmar outfits tend to have a slightly smaller tag, with a slightly darker green. I’ve also noticed that sometimes the stitching is done badly where it is sewn on. For more information on Jesmar outfits visit: Jesmars and J Clothing
The Casual Wear Line (CWL) was the only brand name, separately packaged clothing available for Cabbage Patch Kids in 1983.
The clothing was modelled after outfits worn by the S.S. Happiness Crew and Peanuts characters.
The S.S. Happiness Crew was a four-book series written by June Dutton between 1980 -1983. She also collaborated with Charles M. Shultz to write several Peanuts (Snoopy) books during the same period of time. Both series were published by Determined Productions, who also copyrighted the character-based stuffed animals and their accompanying outfits for both storylines. (Ref)
The original SS and Snoopy stuffed animals came in two sizes, 10″ and 14″, so the outfits came in both sizes. (Jennifer Pelfrey, Feb 24, 2021)
They made very few changes for Cabbage Patch Kids. In fact, if you look closely at the back of the Safari Suit, you can see where the tail hole should be!
Determined Productions made good use of the outfits patterns as, not only were they later used for CPK outfits, some of the S.S. Happiness Crew clothing was also used for Peanuts Characters.
If you would like to know which Casual Wear Line outfits were worn by which characters, visit here.
The earliest description of the CWL that I have found comes from an in-house CPK newsletter produced in the ’80s, called Dolling Around.
“One group of items I feel shouldn’t be overlooked are the flat packaged 1983 Casual Wear. The painter’s smock, 3 pc. white suit, green jogging shorts, red pyjamas, safari suit, and blue romper are especially good. The red checked dress isn’t great, but worth having nonetheless.”
Another early source, Patchwork by E.N. Chapman, described it as follows:
“There was a Causal Wear Line out in ’83 only, that is also very good to get. There was a painter’s smock, safari suit, boy’s white three-piece outfit, green jogging shorts with a white t-shirt, red and white checked dress, red pyjamas, a blue romper outfit, striped denim jeans, and perhaps others.”
When I first learned about the Casual Wear Line a few years ago, it seemed that most collectors felt they had the ‘entire collection’ when they had these six outfits.
However, if you look closely, there are other outfits listed in the previous quotes that are not among the six.
Green jogging shorts
Red and white checked dress
Later in one of the FB groups, a woman was selling off a very large collection of material. Many packaged outfits were displayed in each picture, and in one such picture, I saw an outfit I did not recognize. When I zoomed in, I found that it was a CWL packaged outfit . . . that was not among the six known CWL outfits AND wasn’t described in either of my references!
I asked around, and with the help of Jodi Punki Patch, I was able to confirm that it was a Casual Wear Line outfit and get a better MIB picture to prove it.
So, now I had an inkling that there were more outfits out there. I started to keep an eye out, hoping another would emerge. Keep reading in Part 2!