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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Throwback Thursday review: Cupcakes Beri Blue

RagingMoon1987 with something a little different this time.  Throwback Thursday reviews will be dolls that I've had lying around for awhile, or defunct doll lines that I thought were neat.  Some of the reviews will be posts I've had in Draft Limbo for God-knows-how-long, but this one is one I concocted last weekend.  Cupcakes were available from Tonka and Kenner when I was a small child.  Yep, Tonka.  When I was a little kid Tonka's slogan was "Tonka means TRUCKS!!!" so it surprised me a little to see that this doll was made by the same company.  Anyway, Cupcakes were little dolls, quite a bit smaller than Barbie dolls, that transformed into cupcakes!  Basically you had a doll who wore a large plastic hat and a long ballgown-style dress.  Instead of feet and legs under the dress, there was this rubber base that folded up and looked just like a cupcake wrapper.  The doll's hat fit down over everything and voila!  You had a little toy cupcake!  These Cupcakes came in a wide variety of colors and were apparently successful enough to have spin-off lines based on other treats like ice cream and jam (there would've been gumballs too if the line had lived longer).  I don't know whether it was my idea or my parents' idea, but I ended up with one of these little dolls during my childhood.  She was blonde with a pink dress and a yellow hat, and she was named Taffy Tammy.  As I've said before I didn't play with dolls much when I was little, but I liked my Taffy Tammy doll.  She smelled delicious and she made a surprisingly convincing toy cupcake.  As fond as I was of her I'm surprised that I gave her away...but I did.  Replacing Taffy was on my to-do list during the Great Etsy/eBay Shopping Spree last June, but I couldn't find her with all her parts so I settled for another doll from a different wave.  Meet Beri Blue, who still smells faintly of blueberry baked goods after twenty-five years.
Well, she DID smell like blueberry baked goods.  Now that I've given her a hair wash she also smells like Dawn and hair conditioner.  Anyway, Beri is a member of the Cutie Fruti series.  As was implied by the name, the Cutie Fruti dolls were fruit themed with hats that looked like whipped cream rather than icing.  Hmm...I've never really thought of blueberry as a flavor for cupcakes.  Muffins, yes, but not cupcakes.  Either way my Beri has an obvious blueberry theme, hence her blueberry smell and her blue dress.  Her hard plastic hat makes a convincing dollop of whipped cream (one of my favorite treats).  It is painted with a soft purple tint and has little blueberry clusters added on.
These dolls had rooted hair, and my Beri is no exception.  It's seen better days, but it's still very soft and though it was a mess when she got here, it was surprisingly easy to detangle.
The color is mid-blonde, and it's got a blue streak, something I wasn't expecting.
I'm used to seeing streaked hair on ball-jointed dolls and on dolls that are geared towards older children, so seeing a blue streak in this little gal's hair was a bit of a treat.  I can't remember for the life of me if Taffy had any hair streaks, but she would've looked cute with them.

Beri's face is generically cute, just like my Taffy's was.  She's got blue eyes, pink cheeks, and a dainty pink smile with teeth showing.
Her right eyebrow has a slight paint foible with this extra blob of brown at one end.  Not a huge deal now, and not something I would've minded as a child either.  What I DID notice is the tilt of her eyebrows.  Doesn't she look ever so slightly devious?  Maybe she lied about being blueberry flavored and she's actually been baked with ghost peppers?  Either way, this child looks ever so slightly mischievous.  I may have to watch her to make sure no mayhem unfolds.  LOL 

Regarding poses, Beri is minimally jointed.  Her vinyl head rotates and her harder vinyl arms move up and down.  Oddly, her arms are all one piece, so they move up and down in tandem with each other.  Beri's bodice is painted onto her torso and surprise, surprise...it's blue!  Now here is where things get interesting.  Beri's outer skirt attaches around her waist with Velcro.  It's clearly supposed to close in back, but look at this layering effect in back!
I'm sorely tempted to see how this will look in front, and since this skirt will be coming off anyway, y'all will get to see how it looks as well!  But first, the skirt.  It's really pretty.
It's made out of blue sateen and blue tulle.  The tulle is attached in three layers to make the dress look tiered and to give it a bit more fluff.  The waistband is white with cute little fruit motifs printed on.
The waistband has a bit of significance for Beri, as it depicts other fruit flavors that were available in the Cutie Fruti line.  Grape Suzette, Cherry Chip, and Suzana'nana are all depicted here.  Beri's own motif is also present, but it's on the back of my doll's waistband.

Now the lower skirt.
This is made of soft, flexible plastic and is a part of the doll.  Beri can rotate in it but it is NOT supposed to come off.  In keeping with the theme Beri's lower skirt is blue, and it's fluted to resemble the wrapper of a real cupcake.  It is this lower skirt that makes Beri's transformation from cupcake-themed doll to actual cupcake possible.  When her skirt is folded up and her hat is on right Beri looks like this.
Not bad!  As I said before, I've never associated blueberries with cupcakes, but there's a first time for everything, right?  Now let's see how Beri looks with her skirt on backwards.
Again, not bad.  However, this hides the cute design on the waistband.  It also shows the Velcro fastener in all its less-than-chic glory.  I'll probably leave the skirt the way it's supposed to be worn, but this gives me a great idea for some handmade skirts in the future.  As simple as this doll is, it would be easy to create extra outfits.  I wonder if Tonka and Kenner ever thought about that, about designing separate little skirts that kids could switch around?  Would've been worth examining, I do believe.

Usually I end a review with a summary of the bad things and good things about the doll in question, but I'm not going to do that because Beri Blue has virtually no pitfalls at all.  The gimmick is simple and user-friendly, and yet she's not a particularly fragile little doll.  I would've thought that after all these years that rubber skirt would've stiffened and started to deteriorate, but after twenty-five or so years Beri's is still in working order.  Okay, so she has one small paint gaffe...it's one that I would've overlooked as a kid and am willing to overlook now.  Maybe I'm a bit biased since I loved these Cupcakes when I was a little kid, but Beri is a delightful little doll to have.  I haven't been reunited with my childhood friend Taffy Tammy, but given my fondness for blue over pink I daresay that Beri Blue is even better!

I'm not sure how well these dolls sold when they were a new thing, but I doubt that they did the best because by 1992 the Cupcakes were out of production.  Tonka didn't even stay along for the whole ride; they produced the dolls only during 1990 before turning production over to Kenner.  Kenner is no longer in existence, being bought out by Hasbro...but that didn't occur until 2000.  So I have my doubts about the success of these Cupcakes.  If they weren't successful then that's a shame, because in all my life I've never seen an idea as original as this.  The Monster High dolls are original enough, but who would ever have thought to take a baked good and pretend that they magically became little people?  This truly was a unique little line of dolls and I think they're due for another revamp.  Or maybe not; there have already been four revamps in the past.  The revamp I'm most interested in is the second one, done in 2005 by Radica.  They released a trio of dolls based on the old Candy Sprinkles line, and another trio based on the old Cutie Fruti line.  This meant that both Taffy Tammy and Beri Blue got a revamp.  Neither the new Taffy (left) nor the new Beri (right) looked much like their predecessors.
The revamps may not look a lot like their predecessors, but they're mighty cute nonetheless.  I wonder if they smell as nice as their Tonka/Kenner sisters did?  It certainly would be interesting to find out!  As an aside, Beri's new self had a modified name.  Her name became Blueberry Bell.  Bell???  Why not Belle, I wonder???  These dolls DO look a little like stereotypical Southern Belles, after all.  Oh well, I guess "Bell" was more original.  

The other three reissues were done by Fun Source (1998), Emco (2015), and Estrela (2012 to 2015).  Estrela appears to be strictly for the foreign market, which is too bad for me because they're adorable.  Emco's line changed the name a little to "Cupcake Surprises."  This Emco line exasperates me a little, because I was in and out of the toy isles all through the year and never saw their Cupcake Surprises even ONCE!  If I had I'd have grabbed one in a New York second.  Their faces aren't as cute as the old Tonka/Kenner dolls, but the idea is still alive and well in the Emco dolls and while I'm not happy that I missed out, it's still great to see that they were available as recently as last year.  It's good to see toy companies breathing new life into a doll line as original as this, even if it's only for a year.  For me though, the oldies will always be the best!

Best wishes,


  1. How funny that you should put this post up, because Teresa just put up a post about her own Cupcakes dolls not that long ago. I'd never seen these before I read her post. I think the Radica version looks cuter myself.

    1. LOL, yeah I could've timed this post a little better! Great minds think alike, I guess; I'll have to take a gander at her post. I agree with you about the Radica girls; their little faces are softer than the original dolls.

  2. Interesting post! I'm surprised that I don't remember these! Their faces are certainly tell-take early 90s, lol. I think they are pretty cute, but you are right about Beri's eyebrows :)

    1. I didn't notice it until I started photographing her, believe it or not! Beri's eyebrows aren't so bad IRL, but in pictures she definitely looks like she's up to something!