Sunday, February 5, 2012
4302. Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Shortcake is a licensed character owned by American Greetings, originally used in greeting cards and expanded to include dolls, posters, and other products. The Strawberry Shortcake properties also include a toy line of the character's friends and pets.
The original design of Strawberry Shortcake and her cat, Custard was done in 1977 by Muriel Fahrion during her time as a greeting card illustrator at American Greetings' Juvenile & Humorous card department. After the idea was presented to Bernie Loomis of General Mills and became a licensing entity, Fahrion designed a subsequent thirty-two characters for Those Characters From Cleveland (American Greetings' toy & licensing design division).
Cindy Mayer Patton and Janet Jones designed the other later characters of the classic Strawberry Shortcake line. Lynn Edwards was the editor of the line and developed the personality profiles and the story line and philosophy. The first doll was a rag doll designed by Muriel Fahrion and created by Susan Trentel, Fahrion's sister.
The Strawberry Shortcake line of characters each had their own fruit or dessert-themed name with clothing to match, and they each had a dessert- or fruit-named pet. Like the Strawberry Shortcake doll, all the other characters' dolls had hair scented to match their dessert theme. The characters lived and played in a magical world known as Strawberryland.
During the 1980s, Strawberry Shortcake became a huge fad for young girls throughout the United States. At the time, there were many related products, such as sticker albums, clothing, a video game by Parker Bros. entitled Strawberry Shortcake Musical Match-Ups for the Atari 2600, and numerous other products. Several TV specials were made featuring the characters, one each year between 1980 and 1985, when the fad had waned. Kenner produced no new dolls or toys thereafter.
In 1991, THQ tried reviving the franchise by producing an updated line of Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Strawberry and five of her classic friends each got a makeover with new clothes, hair, and eyes. However, the line enjoyed at best a modest success, lasting just the one year.
In 2002, the franchise was revived again, this time with a revamped look by a different designer. Many strong licensing deals were made. A television series with new DVD and VHS (and in certain markets [particularly in Asia], Video CD) releases was made, with soundtracks for the episodes being put out on CDs at certain intervals. DiC Entertainment was granted rights in producing the TV series, who sub-licensed the production of videos, DVDs and Video CDs of the series to 20th Century Fox Home Videos (who subsequently licenses the production of the video outside the US to various other licensees). Bandai (along with KellyToy) was granted the rights to manufacturing the dolls and toys. For the first time in almost two decades, new videogames were launched, produced by The Game Factory for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Educational CD-ROMs for the PC were also produced.
In 2006, Playmates Toys picked up the rights to make Strawberry Shortcake figures. The line is named "A World of Friends". The doll Frosty Puff was new to this line, but, although a good deal of shuffling and re-distribution was made concerning the pets of the re-launched characters, very few of the new dolls were actually merchandised with pets. A full-length feature film, Strawberry Shortcake: The Sweet Dreams Movie, premiered in 2006 and released to videos in February 2007.
The Playmates' line was received with mixed reactions (see Criticisms section below) from the series' fans. However, overall reaction towards Playmates' line was negative. As a result, Playmates Toys lost the rights to Hasbro, who will be putting out new toys beginning fall 2009, after American Greetings reboots the franchise again.