Jem and the Holograms Shirts
So the plans began. They named the doll "M", a further attempt to associate her with the MTV phenomenon. Much like other popular toys and cartoons of the time, "M" had a secret identity. The twist was that her identity swap was triggered by a pair of flashing earrings that were linked to a hologram-projecting computer. Hasbro also gave her a band, which in the brainstorming stages was to be comprised of all males. After some consideration (and perhaps to help girls further identify with the dolls) they decided on a female band instead. Her band now consisted of musicians Kimber, Aja, and Shana. The plans were really beginning to take shape, when then discovered a single letter cannot be copyrighted, so they had to forgo the idea for the name "M". Realizing this fact a bit late, production of the Kimber doll's keyboard had already begun and displayed the "M" logo. So, in order not to vary the name too much, they changed it to "Jem". The Jem doll came with two outfits -one being her stage costume, and the other a business outfit for her "day job" as Jerrica Benton. Each of the dolls also came with a cassette featuring the theme song and the band's "hit singles". A number of play sets were also available, each with a "secret identity" of its own, i.e. an amplifier that became Jem's dressing room, a keyboard that doubled as a bed, a guitar that turned into her stage (much along the lines of the "Transformers" concept). Of course, Jem was also given a boyfriend, Rio, and a rival band, The Misfits, consisting of Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer.
The Jem concept already had great potential. But Hasbro, taking it one step further, approached Marvel Productions about turning it into a cartoon as well. In 1985, Marvel launched the "Jem and the Holograms" cartoon as a segment in their weekly Super Sunday 90 minute animated block. Viewers got to learn all about how Jem and the Holograms started their band, their record label, "Starlight Music" (who also funded an orphanage, the Starlight Foundation), the Misfits rivalry with them, and other juicy tidbits about the world of the mysterious, yet truly outrageous singer. Animated music videos, similar to MTV style, were also featured, with many of the same songs that were included with the dolls. The show was so riveting and full of twists and surprises, it was almost like a children's soap opera.
Between the dolls and the cartoon, the public went crazy. Soon Jem EVERYTHING was turning up on the store shelves - sticker books, Halloween costumes, lunchboxes, backpacks, t-shirts, sweatshirts, puzzles, and a plethora of other items. Jem was hot-and America only wanted more. The Super Sunday segment spun off into its own show, and Hasbro began producing more dolls and accessories to the line. They added Raya, Danse, Video, and Synergy to the Holograms, and Jetta and Clash joined the Misfits. They even added three of the orphans from the Starlight Foundation. Little girls could now play out entire scenes from their favorite cartoon.
The Jem craze lasted about two years, and then sales started to fizzle. One theory is that Jem's size (she stood a full inch taller than Barbie) was a contributing factor in her demise. All those dolls and doll clothes got expensive, and parents couldn't see forking out all that money for items that wouldn't also fit Barbie. Or perhaps, the public couldn't comprehend a "rock and roll" doll staying in the limelight for very long. Whatever the reason, Hasbro discontinued the line in 1987. Nevertheless, Jem continues to be "Truly Outrageous" to nostalgic fans and doll collectors. View less
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