How do you make Cabbage Patch Kids cool again? Make the doll part robot.
Manufacturer Wicked Cool Toys gave the 1980's phenomenon a high-tech makeover for a new generation. Cabbage Patch Kids Baby So Real is highly interactive, replacing the usual painted-on eyes with LCD screens that display a wide range of emotions. It goes for $100 in the US, which is roughly £80 or AU$135. Although it's not widely available in the UK or Australia, you might be able to find it online.
It's quite the talkative baby, continuously requesting things. When baby is hungry, you'll need to use her special bottle to hit just the right spot in the mouth to register being fed. She'll then ask for a pat on the back to burp, and sensors on the belly know if you changed the diaper when she needs it.
The doll's cheeks glow red when sick, so you'll need to use the special interactive spoon to give her medicine until she says she feels better. She'll also play peek-a-boo and ask for tickles with touch sensors on her feet. The only sweet relief from the demands is when she's sleepy and shuts her plastic eyelids for a nap.
With Baby So Real, maybe kids who want to play parent will get a taste of how demanding they were as a baby. (At least the doll has removable batteries and an off switch.) The toy industry is on a never-ending quest to make a more realistic baby doll for kids to care for and love. Technology is now helping with that. But high-tech can quickly become high-maintenance.
The doll has a rubber face that's easy to smudge and attracts dirt -- yet washing it with water isn't exactly easy when you could damage the electronic components. Also, the packaging has repeated warnings about how important it is to have the doll go to sleep on its own before hitting the "off" switch in the back. Otherwise, it cautions, the batteries will drain faster.
And as with all high-tech toys, moving parts mean more opportunities for things to go wrong. I accidentally dropped the doll and broke it, with its eyelids unable to open and close after the fall. A spokeswoman for Wicked Cool Toys said the company's customer service team will work to troubleshoot problems for anyone that has a similar experience, since it was designed to withstand the play of a 3-year-old toddler.
Of course, every tech toy these days also comes with a phone app, for Android and iPhone. The app isn't necessary, but the screen takes the guesswork out of what baby is demanding from you, and turns her needs into a game. The toy doll pairs to the app via Bluetooth. A cartoon version of your doll lives in the app, responding to the actions you give the physical doll. By making your toy happy, you earn points to buy accessories for your virtual baby.
Brace yourself for more interactive dolls next holiday season. Wicked Cool Toys is putting similar LCD-screen eyes into another iconic toy of the '80s:. The talkative bear is scheduled to hit stores and melt hearts in 2017.