Our kids love to play outside, and these outfits help them join their favourite team and cheer on their siblings. Go Team CPK!
This collection started selling in 1985, along with many of the other speciality outfits. However, these outfits were originally only sold packaged. Late in 1985 and early 1986, it appears that Coleco did put them on individually packaged kids, and a small number of the Football outfits made it on twin sets . It is interesting to note that almost all of the boxed kids with these outfits on are in 1985 boxes, I have recorded only one 1986 box, so it appears they didn’t do this for long. Eventually, like all other CPK clothes produced prior to 1987, sports outfits became part of the mass ‘sell-off’ where they put all sorts of weird combinations together and sold outfits on plain boards.
There are six outfits in this collection, each of them depicting a different sport. Each outfit came with at least one accessory and striped sneakers. They were made by the Taiwanese CY and FD factories, and in some cases, there are visible differences between outfits produced by them.
NOTE: Each outfit is tagged in only one piece. I have put (tag) beside the piece with the tag.
Outfit Pieces: top (tag) and stirrup pants
Accessory: baseball helmet
Sneakers: some coloured stripes, some not)
Outfit Pieces: green sweater (tag), sateen bloomers, white and green sateen skirt
Accessory: yellow/green or Orange/green pompom
The pompom came in two different colours. I’m assuming this was either a factory difference or because of a supply problem.
Sneakers: green stripes
Outfit Pieces: sleeveless jersey, shorts (tag), headband, armbands, knee pads The 55 may represent 1955, the year Xavier Roberts was born.
Sneakers: white stripes
Outfit Pieces: jersey with padded shoulders, padded shorts (tag)
There are two possible accent colours on this outfit, blue and purple. Both factories made both colours. There are visible factory differences in the stitching of the jersey’s bottom hem and in the colour of the thread used to sew on the silk label. The FD factory used orange thread, and the CY factory used white thread. These differences are important as they allow you to determine which factory made the top, even though it is not tagged.
Accessory: hockey stick (no manufacturer marks) Sneakers: white stripes
Outfit Pieces: jersey with padded shoulders, shorts (tag)
So far, this is the only sports outfit found on sets of twins. We don’t know exactly what the 27 stands for. Here are two theories: 1) Xavier Robert’s parents were born on the 11th and the 16th, which when added together, equals 27. 2) Xavier Roberts was aged 27 when the mass market Cabbage Patch Kids were copyrighted in 1982. What is your theory?
Accessory: football helmet Note: The helmet can be fragile. Once put together, it can split apart easily, and the chin guard connections can break easily as well.
The accent trim is sewn on differently by each factory. FD is much cleaner than CY. This difference is important as it allows you to determine which factory made the dress, even though it is not tagged.
Accessory: tennis racket (has factory markings), sun visor
Sneakers: white stripes
All Stars Baseball Series – This collection came out in 1986 and is an entirely different series. (Future Post)
Hasbro Sports outfits – Two poseable Hasbro CPK outfits (1990/91) are sport related: Tennis and cheerleader.
It appears that at least the Football outfit was put onto Twins in a twin box. As far as I know, none of the others have been seen on twins.
A JCPenney Catalog picture shows the football outfit in blue; however, it was never produced. The back of the original packaging also shows the outfits, but three of the shoes depicted were never sold with the outfits.
Make way for “The Greatest Kids on Earth” and join us at the circus! These outfits have lots of bright colours and wacky hats. Which one is your favourite?
Circus kids came out in 1985 and like a lot of the specialty kids, did not sell well. Some may have been sold in 1987, but they were only manufactured in 1986. The series consists of six clown outfits (#100 – #105) and a ringmaster outfit. (see below) There are two versions of each outfit. The outfit names were created by Coleco.
Circus kids come with a distinctive box, hand tag, and birth certificate. They also came with a clown-themed poster in the box and a trading card in the birth certificate envelope. (Ref#2, p. 72) The original boxes were sort of tent-shaped but later boxes were more rectangular (see ringmaster box below). (Ref #3, p. 133)
They were made by the KT and P factories. I don’t think that each factory produced all six outfits, as I’ve only recorded one factory per outfit so far. However, different factories could produce A and B. These outfits are on the coding matrix but create a duplicate set of #100 – #105 numbers.
One reference noted that these outfits came on P, KT and OK kids. In this case, the OK kids wouldn’t match their outfits. What combination is your Circus kid? (Ref#2, p. 72)
There are several different tags from both factories. This is likely due to changing trends during the production period.
Each outfit comes with a pair of clown shoes, socks, and a head accessory. The shoes are stamped on the bottom with a factory code, and one shoe from each pair will be a squeaker. The socks are always made of brightly coloured silky material and are quite a bit longer than regular socks. In addition, the socks have no distinctive top edge.
As with all the specialty outfits, these outfits were eventually packaged and sold separately from the dolls. In addition, you can sometimes find individual pieces of these outfits in ‘lot’ packages. Leftover Jesmar stock dolls were also dressed as clowns and were sold on the Canadian Market in bilingual boxes. (Ref#2, p.72) I don’t remember seeing a clown in a ‘regular’ box, but it could have happened. Many other specialty outfits were sold this way in later years.
Do I have all the pieces?
Along with the face mask, headgear, socks, and shoes, each outfit includes the following:
Preppy Polka Dot – #100
One-piece romper with sleeves
Pointed hat with ruffle
Top with a large neck ruffle and three pom poms
White pointed hat with ruffle and pom pom
Yellow bloomers with white polka dots
Large puffy hair bow
Shirt (structured like a t-shirt)
Vest with tails
Small bow tie
Small hard vinyl top hat
Shorts with suspenders (detachable)
Shirt with collar
Large neck tie (sewn on)
Preppy Pom Pom
One piece romper with the large pom poms
Small neck ruffle
Vinyl bowler hat
The Ringmaster Outfit – #188
This outfit is the only 188 I have recorded, and for some reason, was coded separately from the clown outfits. This outfit was worn by both boy and girl dolls. The doll came in a circus box with a Circus Kid birth certificate and included a black megaphone. I am unsure if these dolls came with a poster.
The outfit includes a black bowtie, a red velveteen jacket with tails, a fancy white shirt with ruffles down the front, a gold and red vest, white satin jodhoppers, high black boots, and a large black top hat.
The boots are factory labelled on the inside rim and are easily confused with the Russian World Traveler boots. The more obvious differences are the detailing and the height. The Russian boot is shorter than the ringmaster boot.
These are the photo from the 1987 Coleco Catalogue. It looks like they used actual outfits for these pictures, which is unusual.
A Butterick sewing pattern was available to make your own clown costumes.
Coleco continued to produce Twin sets in 1986 wearing the original four outfits, but they also started to use twin sets as a dumping ground to get rid of overstock. At this time, it wasn’t unusual to find a variety of combinations in twin boxes, for example:
Especially in the Canadian market, it wasn’t unusual for the dolls wearing these non-twin outfits to be Jesmar as it was at this time that Coleco was looking to rid themselves of the remaining stock from the recently closed foreign factories. (See Jesmars and J Clothing for details.)
The dolls used for twins in 1986 weren’t always P/OK factory and weren’t always the same factory. For example, there are records of sets being OK and PMI. (Ref #4, March 1988, p. 4) This was rare, but apparently, it did happen.
They also dumped twin outfits by putting them on individually boxed regular kids and Cornsilk kids in 1986 and 1987.
Finally, in a last-ditch effort to get rid of stock, twin outfits were sold packaged separately. Often these packages didn’t come with accessories like gloves or shoes.
Other Cabbage Patch Twins
> The Tsukuda factory is the only foreign factory that manufactured Twins (Ref #3, p. 247). Their twins wear regular 1983 outfits with the word “TWIN” silkscreened on them. These sets are very highly valued by collectors.
> Preemie twins were never produced, but prototypes are visible in catalogue pictures from 1986. (Ref #3, p. 178, 192)
Many prototype outfits can be seen in catalogues from 1986. The outfits aren’t exact, but they’re pretty close! It’s too bad the white dresses were never produced, they’re very pretty.
Butterick produced only one of the twin outfits as a sewing pattern. They are numbered #390 and #3564.
Coleco kept your kid in step with the current fashions of the 80’s by offering gorgeous (and warm) fur outfits. Is yours a CPK original, or an aftermarket attempt?
If you have an ‘unidentified’ fur, there are four options:
It’s a CPK Coutour Kid fur.
It’s a CPK Fun Fur.
It’s an aftermarket fur made for CPK sized dolls, but not BY a Coleco authorized dealer.
1. Coutour Kids
This specialty line didn’t have different head moulds, hairstyles, gimmicks or anything else related to the doll that was different. The only difference was the fur outfit they wore over top of their ‘regular’ clothes and shoes.
Sold in late 1984 and into 1985, these kids were ONLY sold in Canada. They came standing up in a box with a blue liner, a regular Canadian birth certificate, and hand-tag. When they first came out, Coleco advertised them as ‘standing kids’, which they weren’t! Some collectors were rather upset at the deception. Although they sold well in the beginning, sales trailed off quickly which was ironic, as these fur outfits were one of the only truly limited edition items that Coleco ever produced! (Ref #5, p. 63) By Oct 1987, they were already considered rare by collectors. (Ref #4, p. 3)
These dolls had head moulds #1 to #5. (Ref #5, p. 83) and came wearing a regular 1983 series outfit and shoes; however, over top was a fur coat, fur booties, and either a fur headband or a fur hat. As the fur pieces are not tagged in ANY way, we have no idea which factory produced them, and they are easy to confuse with aftermarket or homemade fur outfits.
The outfits also came separately packaged, but again, they were only sold in Canada.
Eventually, like the Fun Furs below, these were found on twins when Coleco was getting rid of inventory. However, this was very rare. You’re a lot more likely to find Fun Furs on a twin set than Coutour Furs. Visit The Perfect Mismatch (Matching Pt. 2) for more details. (Ref#3, p.103)
Fun Furs started showing up on store shelves in 1985 and, originally, only came separately packaged. They were made by the SW factory in Korea.
These furs are easy to identify as they are lined with CPK Logo patterned silk and have a large label at the neck that says Fun Fur. Each outfit came with a coat and either a headband or earmuffs. These outfits were intended only for girls, none were designed for boys.
Although there are only six displayed on the back of the box, I think they produced more than that. I have recorded outfits that aren’t in the picture, and I can’t find the dark grey version that is in the picture. Here’s what I have recorded so far:
Eventually, like with so many other specialty outfits, in order to get rid of unsold inventory, Fun Furs were put on Twin sets. It is believed that most of them were sold on Canadian Twin sets. For more details on the inventory sell-off, visit The Perfect Mismatch (Matching Pt. 2).
There were a large number of CPK sized fur outfits produced by other companies during the 80s and early 90s. Some even tried to duplicate the label inside the coat. Here are some examples.
Talented seamstresses also tried their hand at creating these delightful additions to a CPK’s wardrobe. Many used Butterick pattern #374, which was later re-released as #6984.
CPK Sneakers were manufactured by Coleco throughout the entirety of their production. However, the characteristics of the shoes varied by factory and over time.
Hong Kong Shoes
For a definition of ‘Hong Kong Kids’, jump to the Glossary.
In the beginning, when production took place in Hong Kong [HK], the shoes had a very distinctive look. In general, they can have a number of these features but do not need to have them all.
The stitching is VERY prominent.
They have a thicker feel to the vinyl. In some cases, the vinyl did not mould well and may have a runny look on the inside.
Some are extremely hard vinyl. VERY hard.
Not all HK shoes have black text in the heel, but if it is black, it’s likely an HK shoe.
They tend to look less finished than other shoes. The edges look more like they’ve been cut out, or the vinyl around the edges has been trimmed.
HK shoes are more likely to discolour and get pox than later shoes.
The bottoms are ‘bumpy/textured’.
The body is bumpy (see below).
OK HK Shoes – very hard & very malleable – very prominent stitching – The tongue is not cut out (or is partially cut). It is formed as part of the shoe. – textured body and bottom – laces are thick and not very long
P HK Shoes – The text runs vertically, not horizontally, in the heel. – I have not found any P with black text. – The vinyl is very malleable.
KT HK Shoes – I am unable to comment on specifics. I don’t have any in my collection. Photo courtesy of Christy Gann.
Post HK Shoes – 1986ish shoes
After the ‘experimental’ Hong Kong period, the shoes became more uniform but still had many characteristics that varied by factory. It can be very difficult to ‘match’ shoes. You THINK they should match, but when you put them side by side, they are nothing alike! They aren’t the same shape, colour, texture, etc.
Most of the shoes have the factory indicator and the words HONG KONG stamped on the inside by the heel, on the bottom. The factory indicator can be inside a circle or not.
After production moved to China, the shoes became more uniform in appearance but continued to vary by the factory. Indeed, as more factories began production, the amount of variation increased.
Although there are quite a few colours available, many did not show up until 1988 and 1989 (Transitional period). They came on later kids and wearing outfits 800 – 815 and as separately packaged accessories.
It seems that Hasbro did not continue to produce or use sneakers.
The sneakers come in three different stripe patterns.
#1 – the most vertical #2 – slightly more angled #3 – the most angled
Some factories, like P, appear to have produced all three patterns. Others did not. For example, all the OK sneakers I have use pattern #1.
The first sneakers came in only two colours, blue and pink.
In 1985 they started producing additional colours. For example, the stripes on the All-Stars Kids sneakers often matched the colour of the uniform, so colours like red, green, black, and navy blue show up. I believe that most of these shoes were produced by the FD and IC factories. At the same time, both coloured and white striped shoes were produced for Sports Collection outfits (CY and FD) and by the UT factory. Do you have UT shoes with coloured stripes? I have only seen white.
Some colours were produced in varying shades. I believe this was caused by factory variation and changes over time. For example, the PMI factory seems to have very distinct pink and blue colours.
In some cases, the same factory produced different shades of colour. For example, these two P shoes are varying shades of pink.
Here are all the colours, and their variations, that I have owned. I know that I am missing yellow and hot pink.
Update: Brown stripes came with the Padre’s baseball outfit. Special thanks to Margaret Granato and Jennifer Pelfrey.
Some of the shoes have numbers near the factory code. I think these numbers are related to moulds, but I really don’t know. What I do know, is that there are lots of numbers and a matching pair does not have to have matching numbers. One shoe can be 1 and the other 4. Numbers are most often found in shoes produced by the Taiwanese and P factories.
Disclaimer: The following observations have been made based on my collection. I welcome any information and will not hesitate to make revisions as needed.
OK Shoes – They are thin and flexible with a tongue that is the same size as the opening. – The text is raised, comes in two font sizes, and is sometimes blurred. – They tend to discolour and become sticky more than others. – They only appear to use stripe pattern 1.
P Shoes – They tend to stay very white, and the stitching is very prominent. – The tongue is smaller than the opening. – The text is raised and very clear. It is generally vertical along the length of the shoe. Numbers used: 1, 2, 3, 4 Stripe Patterns used: 1, 2, 3
KT Shoes – They feel like OK shoes but with a very thin top edge. Some are extremely malleable. – The tongue looks to have been formed as part of the shoe and then cut out. – Some material is missing, making the tongue smaller than the hole. – The text is raised. – The bottom and inside are VERY smooth. – Some of them have the ‘Jesmar’ shape inside. Stripe pattern: 1
PMI Shoes (small sample size) – The feel and stitching are similar to OK shoes, but they tend to say while like P shoes. – The text is a large, well-spaced PMI that is generally very legible.
IC Shoes – They are rather hard, with little flexibility. – Moderately prominent stitching – The tongue is similar to P shoes. – The text is raised and very clear. They say MADE IN TAIWAN and have numbers underneath. Stripe patterns: 2, 3 Numbers: 2, 3, 5
UT Shoes (small sample size) – They feel and look like IC shoes. – Text is clear, in a small font. Numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 Stripes: 2
FD & CY Shoes – They feel and look like IC shoes. – Text can be VERY large or rather small. FD Numbers: 1, 4,3, 6,9, 12 CY Numbers: 3, 4 Stripe Pattern: 2,3
Recently, a collector showed me a pair of shoes with writing on the inside that they had never seen, and honestly, neither had I!
Inside each shoe is PRC enclosed in a rectangle. The IC and Taiwan that would normally be there are only faintly visible like they’ve been rubbed out. For some reason, they changed the shoe mould. Why?
There have been two theories put forward.
It stands for Professional Regulation Committee. They believe that this label was put on the first 50 to 100 examples of the product to denote that they are samples. (FB Conversation, Feb. 9, 2021)
This may be what PNC stands for, but I’m really not sure. I could only find references to this body in relation to legal areas in Ontario, the US, and the Philippines. None of the legal areas they deal with specifically relate to physical product samples themselves. Also, no other CPK product has this label on it that I am aware of, even though MANY different ‘specialty dolls’ were produced by Coleco. Finally, these sneakers had been out for years before these shoes came out. The only difference might be the colour of the stripe.
2. The PNC stands for the Peoples Republic of China.
The history of Taiwan is long and complex. During the 1980s, Taiwan was being held under Martial Law by the KMT government. However, in 1987, martial law was lifted, and governance started moving toward democracy. However, there was a segment of the population who wanted to unify with China, both before and after martial law was lifted. (Source) I’m not sure this is a reasonable theory either. Unless someone with these political leanings got control of one of the clothing factories for a time, I have no idea why they would change the shoe moulds like this.
Based on the scarcity of these shoes, I theorize that they were only produced at one of the Taiwanese factories, likely for a short time. As they appear to have come primarily on All-Stars Kids, that would mean they were produced sometime from mid-1984 to 1985. All-Star Kids were primarily produced by IC factories.
Do you have a theory? Or maybe some evidence to put toward one of the current theories? I’d love to hear about it!
Special thanks to Dixie McLaughlin, Patty-Fisher Sheahan, and Christie Mounce Racine for their assistance with this topic.
Almost all Coleco shoes produced between 1983 and 1986ish were labeled with the factory of manufacture inside by the heel. These shoes also said, Hong Kong, even after they were no longer manufactured there. It’s thought that they chose not to remake the molds. Specialty outfit shoes like clown shoes and cowboy boots are also factory marked.
Later, sometime around 1986 or 1987, they stopped putting the factory and HONG KONG inside the shoes. Instead, some say CHINA, some have just a number, and some are entirely blank. I believe that they showed up in that order but have no proof of it, except that the coloured toddler shoes have CHINA in them and the only coloured Mary Janes I’ve seen have nothing in them.
The numbers that can be found in the shoes are a mystery. I believe they are a mould number but again, I have no proof. A ‘pair’ of shoes do not need to have the same number.
Special Note: During the first few months of production, the kids manufactured in Hong Kong came out with shoes like those described above, but which had slightly different characteristics (at least long-time collectors think so). For details on how to identify Hong Kong Kid shoes go to each of the shoe types using the links near the top of this post. . Click here for a definition of Triple and Double Hong Kong Kids.
Starting in 1985, other footwear options became available, and three of the original four options began showing up in a rainbow of colours. The new options included:
Most of the early packaged outfits came with shoes, as did many of the packaged outfits that came with unique shoes (e.g., Western Wear). However, many packaged outfits, especially those sold after 1985, did not come with shoes included. Starting in 1985, shoes become available separately packaged with socks and other accessories. This continued until 1989.
Like with other outfits, during transitional periods or when they were trying to get rid of excess product, occasionally you can find a MIB doll with the ‘wrong’ footwear. As long as the footwear was in production before the doll was issued, it could be a possible combination.
I have even recorded one example of a transitional regular kid wearing Hasbro Kissin’ Kid shoes!
I clean shoes with a toothbrush and a bar of Sunlight Soap. Sticky shoes are cleaned with Magic Eraser or Bar Keeper’s Friend.
Marks made from markers, pens, and other such things that do not come out with regular cleaning can be treated with zit cream, just like a doll’s head.
Early shoes were made of the same type of vinyl as the doll heads. As such, they can get pox. They can be treated the same way as doll heads. (Videos about pox and treating pox are available here.)
Shoes that are yellowed or discoloured can sometimes be treated by soaking in Polident (water-soluble, not toothpaste). I’ve found it often takes multiple soakings and doesn’t always work perfectly.
25th Anniversary Shoes
The 25th Anniversary kids came with regular shoes, Mary Jane’s, and sneakers. They are easy to distinguish as they have the Cabbage Patch logo and 1893-2008 on the bottom. The preemies came with these shoes or white slippers/booties with a white bow.
Well, this isn’t candy, but they’re still sweet! Happy Halloween!
There are six costumes sleepers that were produced by Coleco.
These cute outfits came out in 1985 and were only sold separately packaged until . . .
. . . later, in 1986, as Coleco was clearing out stock, they could be found on boxed kids. (Ref#2, p. 90, Ref#4, 1986 Iss. 3, p.5)
They are two versions of each sleeper. The first set that came out had only the green Cabbage Patch Kids logo on the right breast. They were all made by the IJ factory in Korea. The second set also had an embroidered crest of their animal on the breast under the logo. These were made by the LF (China) and IJ (Taiwan) factories. The LF version of the second set is easier to find. I’m not even sure if IJ made all of the second set.
The ‘double tag’ seems to be the earliest. The square version is most likely the newer one. I am unsure why some were coded with a sticker.
The most obvious difference between the IJ and LF versions is the crest. On the IJ version, it is embroidered directly to the fabric. In the LF version, it is an applique that is glued on.
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.
A short history of Jesmars, Jesmar clothing, Jesmar Preemies. It also includes how to identify Jesmar clothing, and how you can help to track Jesmar clothing tags.
Preface and disclaimer
I promised myself that I wouldn’t record Jesmar clothing like I am the Coleco clothing. There is a lot of it, and I don’t have the same personal experience with it that I do with Coleco clothing. However, I am breaking that promise as I have been asked many questions, and there is an obvious need. Special thanks to Eve for inspiring this post.
The problem with Jesmar dolls, indeed any of the foreign factories, is that little factual data exists about their manufacture; however, there is a lot of speculation and assumption among collectors. Sometimes it is hard to separate fact from fiction. I welcome any data or primary source material that proves or disproves anything within this post.
This post is intended as an overview of Jesmar clothing. To start, I give a very basic review of the manufacture and body tags of the dolls in order to provide context to the clothing information.
A Kid referred to by the factory code ‘J’ or by the term, ‘Jesmar’ refers to dolls manufactured in a factory located in Spain, which produced the second most common mass-market CPK dolls. For a variety of reasons (that I have listed HERE), these dolls are generally highly coveted by collectors. Read on to learn more.
Jesmar S.A. was a Spanish company licensed by O.A.A. to manufacture and sell Cabbage Patch Kids within specific areas of Western Europe, starting in April 1984. For information on Jesmars sold on the Canadian market, go here. The dolls were packaged in boxes and with birth certificates, that were in the language of the country where they were distributed. In some countries, the kids were distributed by another company altogether.
Other than Canadian market Jesmars (Jump to: Jesmar in Canada), as far as I am aware, there is no way to distinguish which country your doll was sold in unless you have the birth certificate and/or that box that it came in. There is nothing on the dolls themselves that indicate which country they were distributed in.
“Some collectors, after years of observing Jesmars, feel that there are three to five different types of Jesmar Kids, which might suggest different factories made them. The information on the Jesmar production factories remains a mystery.”
In the spring of 1985, O.A.A pulled the licenses of all the foreign factories (Jesmar, Tsukuda, Triang Pedigree, and Lili Ledy). The leftover material was shipped to the remaining Coleco factories and used.
This resulted in half-in-half Kids. These Kids had heads and bodies made at different factories. “Some of these foreign combinations included Jesmar heads on Coleco bodies, Coleco heads on Jesmar bodies, and there have even been Jesmar heads on Triang-Pedigree bodies reported.” (Ref#3, p.30)
By late 1985, they were selling Jesmar dolls in regular US boxes that had the ‘Made in China’ label on the box covered by a sticker that read ‘Doll and clothes made in Spain’. The closures might also explain why Jesmar outfits in Coleco boxes were surfacing at Toys R US stores in the US around 1986 and 1987. (Ref#4, Vol 2, Issue 3, p. 2)
The dolls came with head molds #1 – #4. The bum signature, which indicates which year the doll was made, is either black or brown for 1984 and blue for 1985. For both years, the dolls produced earlier in the year have undated signatures, and those produced later in the year are dated.
A great deal of the appeal of Jesmar dolls (or any foreign doll) is the differences between them and the Coleco dolls. Some of the Kids (generally thought to be earlier), had a string holding the heads on instead of a zip tie. Some have eyes that sit higher. Jesmars tend to be a few inches taller than most Coleco Kids. One of their most popular features is their freckles. Jesmar, unlike Coleco, freckled kids with all four head moulds and the freckles come in a variety of patterns. (Ref#3, p. 198-199)
Doll Body Tags
The dolls come with one of five body tags, depending on when they were made and which market they were intended for. Based on data collected so far, I believe the tags without J or OK came after the ‘early Jesmar’ tags, but still early in 1984. They were followed by those with OK in mid- 1984. Finally, they started using the J tags quite late in 1984 and into 1985. (Refer to: Jesmar in Canada)
Leah S. has mentioned that there are Jesmar tags that say ‘Made in Hong Kong’, but I have never seen one. These are supposed to be on some of the earliest Jesmars. (Facebook group conversation, Aug. 11, 2017)
According to E.N. Chapman ofPatchwork: The Missing Piece Bok Choy Wah Way, “Jesmar’s were fairly common in Canada early on.” (Ref#5, p.32) and “Jesmars were in Canadian boxes long before they were in American Boxes.â” (Ref#4, Feb 1987, p. 4) J. Mullin mentions, “These Kids with the OK Made in Spain body tags were found in either Coleco or Canadiana boxes.” (Ref#3, p.41)
Canada was the only non-European country to have Jesmars as part of their regular distribution along with Colecos. There is no explanation of how or why Jesmar dolls came to Canada and ended up in authentic Canadian market boxes. I have two theories:
1) As the factories were shut down, they decided to funnel Jesmar Kids into the Canadian market before the American market. 2) Even before the Jesmar factory started being shut down because the dolls weren’t selling well in Western Europe, Jesmar got special permission to send them to the Canadian market. No record of such a permission exists that I am aware of.
To sell in the Canadian market, they needed to comply with Canadian language laws, meaning they needed a bilingual (English/French) side tag. However, there are two distinctive bilingual tags: one with OK factory and one with J factory.
As noted above, the OK tag likely came out around the middle of 1984, and the J tag started being used late in 1984 and then into 1985. I wonder, were these kids manufactured, and/or clothed, and/or boxed at the OK factory in China, and then sent to Canada for distribution? Is that why they have OK on them? Why did they change the OK to J?
As for their clothing, I have evidence of Canadian market Kids wearing just Jesmar-tagged clothes and Jesmar clothes without tags, but I have no evidence of these Kids wearing bilingual-tagged clothes. This seems counter-intuitive. Do you have a Kid with that combination? (Jump to: Clothing Tags)
What side tag the dolls have, what they are wearing, and which boxes they ended up in, likely depended on how and when they were manufactured or packaged for distribution. I just do not have enough data to draw any conclusions.
Interestingly, as time went on and Coleco (US) and Coleco Inc. (CAD) found themselves with an overabundance of ‘specialty’ outfits, so they started putting all sorts of wacky combinations together, and some included the remainder of the Jesmar and other foreign dolls from the recently closed foreign factories. In the Canadian market, you can find Jesmar dolls wearing World Traveler outfits, often in twin sets. In some cases, you can find Jesmar’s dressed up as a clown.
I am working on a research project to track and record Coleco Cabbage Patch Kid clothing. They are generally labelled with a letter/number code. To learn more about this project, visit my first two blog posts. (Blog#1, Blog#2) As most Jesmar outfits are also ‘numbered’ after a fashion, I have started to record this information too.
“Jesmar and other foreign clothing came in a much wider variety of colors, fabrics, designs, and even applique selection.”
Generally speaking, Jesmar produced its own version of the 1983 Series Coleco outfits. The only outfits not reproduced were the Sleeper (#2) and the Corduroy Suit (#5). Jesmar outfits were often made out of fabrics and patterns that were not used by Coleco. These differences add to the appeal of Jesmar dolls.
The Velcro on many Jesmar outfits was applied as a long thin strip, rather than the small squares used on some of their outfits and by all other factories.
A single type of Jesmar outfit could be made out of many different fabrics.
The silk CPK label might be located in an odd spot on the outfit.
Jesmar did not always match the ‘gender’ of the doll and the outfit. (Ref#4, p. 80)
Jesmar outfits are known for having many leftover threads inside the outfits. It’s like they never cut off the extra threads at all!
Jesmar outfits are generally considered to be more shoddily made than the Coleco outfits. There was little consistency in fabric, colours, patterns etc. There were also differences in size. Take these two swing dresses. One has 80 on the tag, the other is 89, but they’re definitely two different sizes.
Collectors believe that the Jesmar factory was in the first stages of producing preemies when they lost their licenses. The only part they had in production was the head. This resulted in the creation of half-in-half preemies, typically called Jesmar Preemies. These dolls have a Jesmar-produced head and a Coleco preemie body from the OK factory. They were packaged in Coleco boxes. (Ref#4, 1987, Iss.1 Vol. 2 p. 3)
These preemies should not be confused with the regular Coleco preemies that were sold in foreign boxes. Those dolls were entirely Coleco and wore Coleco clothing. (Ref #3, p. 231)
There are three outfits that are predominantly related to Jesmar Preemies, they are three velveteen versions of the terry cloth Bunny Preemie Outfit (#12). It is believed that they were the only outfits produced specifically for Jesmar Preemies. These special velveteen outfits came (in order of rarity) in navy blue (#12F), steel blue (#12E), and dark green (#12D) (Ref#2, p.96). It seems that, instead of using letters that were not already assigned to an outfit, they chose to reuse the letters D, E, and F for these outfits.
Dark green is very hard to find (FB Conversation, Jul. 7, 2020), and navy blue is the easiest to find.
They are labelled OK factory but structurally they appear Jesmar. The Velcro is typical of some Jesmar outfits and there can be extra threads everywhere, which are typical of Jesmar outfits. However, the navy blue and steel blue fabric are similar to another Coleco outfit produced in 1986, the velveteen overalls. The green is similiar to the material used in the green velveteen twin boys outfit.
These outfits only came on Jesmar Preemies, but Jesmar Preemies also came dressed in regular Coleco preemie outfits and regular Coleco preemies did come dressed in these outfits (FB Conversation, May, 22, 2010, Unboxing a Unicorn). For example, J. Mullin has examples of Jesmar Preemies wearing BSeries preemie outfits from later in 1985. (Ref#3, p.231)
Jesmar clothing appears to be tagged in one of four ways. It is the information on these tags that is the data I need for my project.
I am just beginning this research journey and need a lot more data to make any final determinations. In the case of Jesmar clothing, I also need more than just pictures of the tags. If it is available, I also need information about the doll it came on, the box it came in and, in some cases, how it was purchased. (Refer to: Taking pictures for the project)
1. Jesmar Tag Only
To date, for these tags, I have recorded various numbers between 1 and 100. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern as to which outfits have which numbers. For example, I have five outfits with the number #89. They consist of three different outfits and all five are different colours/patterns.
As other Jesmar factory dolls have similar tags, it has been suggested that they are somehow related to Jesmar operations rather than anything specific to Cabbage Patch Kids. If that is the case, then my tracking is useless. (FB Conversation, June 6, 2021.)
I speculate that outfits with only a Jesmar tag were intended for foreign markets, or for the US market (which did not require bilingual tags) after they began closing the foreign factories.
2/3. Bilingual (French/English)Tag – with & without the small Jesmar tag
As these white tags are bilingual, we can speculate that the outfits with these tags were intended for the Canadian market. Bilingual tags (French/English) are required by law in Canada. Generally, you find both a larger white tag and a small Jesmar tag on an outfit, but not always.
Side one of all the bilingual tags has one of two ‘factories’: FS or J. I have no idea what FS stands for or if it is referring to a factory at all. However, it is on the tag in the same format as all other ‘factory’ marks.
So far, all of the J tags have the codes P3A or P2A on the back, and all the FS tags have the codes P1B or P2C. (Information on Coleco clothing tag codes) Unlike the Coleco codes, I do not know what these codes refer to or why they are there. There is no pattern as to which outfits they are in. Unfortunately, I only have a small data set, so this could easily change. Over time we may find more codes, a pattern to the outfits, or something else I haven’t even considered.
I have one confirmed example of a Jesmar outfit with ONLY a bilingual tag. There is no small Jesmar tag. This situation appears to be the rarest. Why did they do this? Did they run out of tags and decide that they were unnecessary for the Canadian Market? Did they start doing this because of the closure? I just do not know.
4. No tags
Why some Jesmar outfits come without any tags at all is a complete mystery, but other foreign factories, like the Tsukuda and Triang Pedigree factories, produced most of their outfits without any tags.
Here are the differences other collectors (Ref#3) and I have observed beyond those of fabric, pattern, and construction when compared to the Coleco versions.
(The title links will take you to information on the original Coleco outfit.)
Swing Dress (#1) * The bows were made of silkier ribbon-like material. * Some of them don’t have ‘ribbons’ at all! (Lori Clark, Sept 2023) * The tights don’t fit. They are often too short and made of a thicker knitted material.
Kitty Tracksuits (#6) * They aren’t always grey. They also came in brown, red, green, etc. * They don’t always have a patch. * The patch may be located lower on the shirt or in the middle of the chest.
Elephant Romper (#7) * Some come with striped shirts; some come with solid coloured shirts. * Some have no patch or they often have a cat patch instead of an elephant patch. * The buttons didn’t actually ‘unbutton’ because the straps were sewn to the outfit through the button. * Sometimes the patch is located in the middle of the bib section. * The shirt hem is not finished.
Bubble Romper (#9) * The sleeves on the sweater are sometimes rather short. * Like every other factory, the knit pattern of the sweater and booties is unique. * The silk label may not be in the right spot.
Windbreaker (#10) * The logo looks different on the windbreaker. It is smaller than Coleco’s logo. * The shirt’s bottom hem is not finished. * The windbreaker is sometimes made from a thinner silkier material. * The pants are made of thinner cotton-like material; it’s not jean material. * The shirts can be multi-coloured stripes, not just white/colour. * The shirts may have come in ‘not striped’ patterns although I’ve only seen one example of this.
Knit Ducky Dress (#11) * Most did not come with a duck patch. * They came in more vibrant colours. * They had a different style hem at the sleeves. * They don’t open all the way down the back. * They have elastic in the waist of the bloomers. MOST Coleco do not.
Ruffled Overalls (#12) * The buttons are clear. (Coleco only used clear buttons in 1983) * The blouse has white lace, not rick-rack at the sleeves and neck. * There may have been striped knit shirts with some of them. * They don’t have velcro down the legs. * The buttons don’t ‘work’. They are sewn.
Bib dress (#15) * The bibs may be patterned, completely blank, or have a different patch. * They are physically smaller than Coleco bibs.
Denim Romper (#16) * The romper is not always made with jean fabric; it is often made of thin cotton. * The shirt has a peter pan collar and buttons at the back with a single button.
Heart dress (#17) * They didn’t always come with the heart applique. * Sometimes the heart appliques were the same colour as the dress.
Striped tracksuit (#18) * They do not have a collar at the neck. * Sometimes they don’t have stripes at the arm and legs. * Sometimes the neck and bottom hems match other accents, instead of being white. * Sometimes they don’t have any piping.
Sailor Suit (#20) * The ribbon is silkier, not cotton. * It doesn’t always have an anchor applique.
If you would like to send me information on a Jesmar outfit, please include the information listed below for each outfit. I welcome information on any outfit. Don’t worry if I have it already. We know so little that almost anything I receive at this point will provide me with information. Just have fun taking pictures one afternoon! (Instructions for taking great pictures)
> Pictures of the outfit itself (as outlined in the instructions) > Pictures of the clothing tag(s) (if any); both sides if there’s a bilingual tag > Outfit’s fabric type
If you have the original Kid it came on: > Was the Kid a boy or a girl? > Pictures of both sides of the dolls tag > What country it came from (language on BC or box), if known > Approximately when it was purchased, if known > Where it was purchased, if known