Friday, February 7, 2014
Xavier Roberts (born October 31, 1955, Cleveland, Georgia), the manufacturer of Cabbage Patch Kids, is an American artist and businessman. During the American Folk art movement of the late 1970's, Roberts observed several techniques involving the making of dolls from various materials, including the dolls of Martha Nelson Thomas of Louisville, KY. Influenced by the quilts that his mother, Eula, made, he began experimenting with a quilted doll. After much experimentation, Roberts created a type of doll he called "Little People". Roberts and a small group of friends began to travel from state to state in the southeastern U.S. attending various folk art exhibitions. At these exhibitions, Roberts began selling these handcrafted dolls he called "babies". Going into business as Original Appalachian Artworks, Inc., Roberts started producing Little People in his hometown of Cleveland, at a converted medical clinic, which he rechristened "Babyland General Hospital". The Little People evolved by 1982 into Cabbage Patch Kids, which quickly became a major toy fad. In 1984 alone, 20 million dolls were bought, and by 1999, 95 million had been sold worldwide. Martha Nelson Thomas, the creator of the precursor to the Cabbage Patch Kids, filed suit again Roberts in January, 1980. Mrs. Thomas met Roberts in 1976 at a fair where she was selling her dolls. He liked what he saw and asked her to supply him some for sale at a Georgia state park where he then worked. But after some of her dolls had been sold there, she says, she decided to stop supplying them because she was concerned he might take the idea away from her. When Roberts began producing his own dolls, Mrs. Thomas noticed a resemblance in design. The dolls are very similar, she says. The marketing technique also resembled hers, says her attorney, Jack Wheat, of Louisville. 'She also is unhappy with the fact that the dolls are now being mass-produced. There are too many mass-produced things. You need something personal, something hand-made, with someone who will stand behind it, she says.
Xavier Roberts Originals
Roberts would later create a series of country inspired toy bears called The Furskin Bears.