Dan goes Cabbage Patch crazy!

Dan Knowlton with some of his 600 Cabbage Patch dolls.
Dan Knowlton with some of his 600 Cabbage Patch dolls.

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An avid Cabbage Patch Kids fan has dedicated three rooms of his flat to his collection of more than 600 dolls.

Dan Knowlton, 41, who lives in Locks Heath, has spent thousands of pounds buying the soft cloth dolls which became popular in the 1980s.

He spends several hours a week to caring for the cuddly toys - changing their outfits and dusting the beds, chairs and shelves where they perch.

Mr Knowlton stopped counting how many Cabbage Patch Kids he owned when he reached the 600 mark around five years ago.

He first bought into the American craze in 1983, aged 12, after seeing photos of the original all-cloth dolls in a newspaper.

The brand became a massive phenomenon - inspiring magazines, films, stamps and boardgames - and its dolls have become collectors’ items.

Each comes with its own birth certificate.

Mr Knowlton, who works as a freelance catering manager, said: “I loved the Cabbage Patch Kids straight away because they were something a bit different.

“I had to wait until they produced the hard-headed models in this country though before I could have one of my own.

“When they came on the market I scrimped and saved my pocket money and savings to buy my first doll, Justin David, for about 25 pounds.

“It spiralled from there - they now take up most of my home and I couldn’t say how much I have spent buying them.

“I love their individuality. As the all cloth dolls have been handstitched each one is different.”

The plastic headed dolls came in when the dolls, dreamt up by creator Xavier Roberts, were mass-produced in the early 1980s.

Single Mr Knowlton owns 205 of the soft-faced dolls, which can fit into real baby clothes.

He dresses them in his four nieces’ old babygrows and his mum, Margaret Cullen, buys the dolls outfits when she spots them in charity shops.

There are so many that the dolls, who are spread through Mr Knowlton’s bedroom, lounge and computer room, have their own wardrobe.

He said: “My Cabbage Patch Kids are my children. They’re easier to cope with.

“They have a few hand-me-down clothes from my nieces, and I’ve even made a few outfits for them over the years.

“My nieces love coming round to play with the Kids, although they know not to touch the soft-faced ones, which are more precious.

“But they like playing with the hard-headed ones - I’ve let them do it since they were babies.

“Everybody who knows me knows about my Cabbage Patch collection.”

Mr Knowlton manages an online group for collectors, and says the world of Cabbage Patch Kids devotees is a ‘very nice’ community.

Mr Knowlton has twice travelled to BabyLand General, the hospital where the Cabbage Patch Kids are ‘born’ in Georgia, US.

It’s where he adopted his favourite, Robin Linda, and 10 others.

His first trip, in 2000, was for a week-long Cabbage Patch Kids collectors’ convention.

The team of ‘doctors and nurses’, plus thousands of newborn Cabbage Patch Kids, had moved to a bigger building by his second visit.

The babies emerge from underneath the Magical Crystal Tree, following an announcement that Mother Cabbage has gone into labour.

Mr Knowlton was given one of the heads - which cannot be bought in shops - from the original magic tree at the old hospital as a gift from a friend.

Mr Knowlton said: “Visiting Babyland was brilliant - an absolutely magical experience.

“You get to walk around the long lines of cribs.

“That’s why Robin’s my favourite: she was the first one I picked out to adopt.

The whole process is more special than simply buying them.”

His oldest doll is Agness, one of the sought after Little People original editions, handmade in 1979.

The dolls, which quickly became a fad, changed their name to Cabbage Patch Kids in 1982.

Mr Knowlton’s dream purchase would be a rare, first edition ‘Helen Blue’.

They would have been made by Mr Roberts himself, his friends or family from his small initial team.

Mr Knowlton said: “There’s something about the old dolls which takes me back to my childhood.

“I’d love to own a Helen Blue but it would set me back around 15,000 dollars.

“I’ll have to win the lottery first.”