Gobot Cosplay & Those Sad Homemade Cabbage Patch Kids : Studies in Crap on the '80s Most Disappointing Toys

Categories: Studies in Crap
Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
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Doll Baby Pattern Book

Author: Martha Nelson Thomas with Marla Strecker
Date: 1984
Publisher: Fibre-Craft Materials, Niles, IL
Discovered at: Turnstyles Thrift Store, Overland Park

The Cover Promises: Your family is poor.

Children worldwide cherish the Cabbage Patch Kids, those lovable dolls made of goodness and dimples and harvested from magical loam by Xavier Roberts. Throughout the early years of the Reagan era, the most fortunate children awoke on birthdays and holidays to discover Cabbage Patch Kids of their very own, not just to own but to adopt and love and, in the case of my Kansas relatives, to re-christen the black ones "Rudy" because of The Cosby Show.

But some children weren't so lucky.

Meet the Original Doll Babies, the rare kids' toy seemingly named for a strip club. Without aggressive marketing or planned, headline-grabbing shortages to win our hearts, these home-sewn knockoffs were guaranteed to disappoint.

Imagine unwrapping a gift, expecting a Cabbage Patch. Imagine, instead, finding this potato-headed abomination . . .

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. . .decked out, for some reason, like a young Albert Brooks. Imagine realizing, for the first time, that your parents had failed, or were too broke, or just didn't love you enough to get it right. Imagine swallowing the hurt long enough to spare their feelings.

Imagine trying to figure out whether it was cocaine addiction or botched plastic surgery that resulted in a nose like this.

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I suspect that Doll Baby fans are more likely than most people to believe that random arrangements of Maritain craters just might be faces.

Speaking of strip clubs, here's a Doll Baby bouncer and dancer feeding their own little disappointment.

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These Doll Babies thought they were alone in the park, but now that they're busted they're acting like nothing happened.

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The book comes with instructions for making your own Doll Baby. This pattern dares to suggest, subtly, that people who expect to pass it off for a Cabbage Patch have their heads up their asses.

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Horrifying as they are, these Doll Babies are no less creepy than the manufacturers of the official Cabbage Patch Kids naming their line of teensier-than-usual babies "Preemies." Seriously, why not just call 'em "Tards?"

Anyway, here's our next island of misfit toys tragedy:
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Gobots: Operation Hoax

Author: Mark Sufrin, words; Dan Spiegle, art
Date: 1985
The Cover Promises: All is forgiven, Michael Bay.
Publisher: Golden

Hailing from the planet/energy drink Gobotron, the Gobots were pretty much to the Transformers what the Doll Babies were to the Cabbage Patch Kids, or what those cousins the network brought in during a contract dispute were to Bo and Luke Duke.

But instead of being stitched at home from kits, which almost excuses the Doll Babies, the Gobots came fully-made from Tonka. That isn't to say you couldn't have made some yourself. Sharpie a face on a Hot Wheel's undercarriage, then Super Glue some Lego feet, and you pretty much have a Gobot.

Even drawn in a kids' book, the Gobot action figures are stiff and tottering, more like the stilt-walking Uncle Sams in a Fourth of July parade than badass robots.

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Meet the Guardians, the good-guy Gobots. Here's Scooter, Turbo and their leader, Leader-1, apparently named by typing "Optimus Prime" into Babelfish.

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Note that Scooter, on the left, is as close as we will ever get to seeing Paul Ruebens star as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.

I mentioned parades earlier to prepare you for a most astonishing sight. After a couple pages of chases and battles concerning some "sensors" designed to control humanity, the Renegades, the bad Gobots, disguise themselves:

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Robot Tea Party is computed to save America from socialism!

Actually, the LARPers here are bad bots Cy-Kill, Cop-Tur, and Crasher. And, yes, it takes all my strength not to add a d to "Cop-Tur."

That parade turns into a chase that resolves nothing. Eventually, this happens.

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ROBOTS WHO CAN TURN INTO SPORTS CARS HOBO FOR HOURS THROUGH THE DESERT ON A PARADE FLOAT.

I'm beginning to suspect that the Gobots' battle is not truly with each other. Rather, they have teamed up to wage war on the very idea of childhood joy.

Anyway, as you probably guessed, the good Gobots scare away the bad Gobots by projecting a hologram of George Washington leading the Continental Army.

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Your Crap Archivst finds this astonishing. For a toy line utterly devoid of invention, the Gobots somehow discovered entirely fresh ways to suck.

[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice's sister paper, The Pitch.]


The mighty Studies in Crap e-mail list updates you whenever a new SiC post hits. Sign up at studiesincrap@villagevoice.com.

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1 comments
mathewignash
mathewignash

I don't' know what sort of skewed history you learned, but almost nothing you said about GoBots was true. They were the superior toy to Transformers at the same price point. Yeah, they had some silly children's books, so did every other property in the 1980s. Compare the GoBot Turbo to the Autobot Windcharger some time.

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