You probably wouldn't be inclined to immediately pair STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE with THE ROCK FATHER, but this 37-year-old Dad has a long history with those deliciously-scented characters from American Greetings - a history that dates back well into the early 1980s. Indeed, I had the little Kenner figurine of Huckleberry Pie from the old "Strawberryland Miniatures" collection that Hasbro used to make (I wrote about him once before, here), and after playing with Strawberry and the gang for many years with my little sister, enjoying that world with my own daughters has been an easy thing to do. We've seen the show on the Hub Network, and own some of the DVDs from Fox, and now we've reached the point of getting into the toys as well, and not only do they still smell great - they rock, too!
For Fall 2014 comes an all-new collection of dolls/figures, playsets and accessories from The Bridge Direct, sweet-scented and ready for adventure in Berry Bitty City. By day, Strawberry Shortcake runs the Berry Cafe, but by night she fronts The Sweet Beats, a band in which she (on guitar/vocals) is joined by Cherry Jam (Guitar), Raspberry Torte (Keyboards), Plum Pudding (Drums), and Lemon Merengue (Bass). Not long ago, we received the Sweet Beats Stage playset with Strawberry Shortcake and Cherry Jam, ready for review here on our State-of-the-Art Toy Testing Facility (our house).
Right out of the box, the scent is still irresistible - slightly different than the figures we had as kids (if you smelled the originals, you know it!) - but still delightful to all. The figures/dolls themselves are detailed and follow very closely the look of the last television series, BERRY BITTY ADVENTURES, with both Strawberry and Cherry getting some additional rocked-up accents to their hair (the fronts are very styled and cut) with some cool streaks and such.
Removable clothing and shoes makes for some fun mix-and-matching, and the stage itself plays a couple of songs along with other audio clips. The front performance area fits the dolls well, well the reverse side of the set doubles as a "backstage area."
From the perspective of myself - a stickler for quality and detail along with functional design, the dolls are fantastic, and the stage is good - though there's a habit that toy designers have when making "stage" sets (we've owned a few over the years) to put flags or banners on the side - usually thin cardboard or plastic sheets attached by fragile holders... and this is no exception. While the banners are cute, they are easily knocked off and unnecessary. From the kid perspective, this set is a home-run all the way around, and having already been a fan of the show and movies, my girls have made sure that Strawberry and Cherry have seamlessly become residents of their growing world of dolls and action figures.
Strawberry Shortcake and the Sweet Beats can be ordered from (my associate) Entertainment Earth:
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality and Commentator.
He serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent), has made guest appearances as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew, was featured in the Father's Day issue of Lake County Magazine, and is a former contributor to Chicago Parent.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.