For the Love of Doll Babies
In today’s media driven society, it’s nearly impossible to copy another artist without swarms of internet martyrs for art bearing witness. However, such superior ethical eyes have not always been open, or readily available to the public. Prior to the age of 24/7 cyberspace, taking advantage of dedicated artists was far more easily done.
Take Xavier Roberts, a Georgia gift shop owner turned Doll-mogul who made millions of dollars in profit in the 1980s from selling his ‘Cabbage Patch Dolls’, a unique doll with the play pattern concept of ‘adoption’. In 2015, Vice Investigations produced a video showcasing the truth behind Roberts’ world-renowned toys: the famed designs were stolen from another doll-maker.
Kentucky-native Martha Nelson Thomas, the now-deceased artist responsible for ‘Doll Babies’, was dedicated to her artistry and devoted to the children who purchased her creations. Her original designs were decidedly produced for the joy of the craft, rather than to turn a profit.
Vice’s “The Secret History of Cabbage Patch Kids” shines a spotlight on one of the biggest artistic heists of all time. The fascinating study in appropriation and capitalism centers around the sweet, child-like face of a doll that, in 1984, easily could have sold a record-setting $2 billion in sales. How easily? So much so that another man was able to do it — with what amounts to basically the same doll.
The 16-minute feature bears witness to the friends and family of Martha Nelson Thomas. Watch “The Secret History of Cabbage Patch Kids” from Vice Investigations here: