Jem and the Holograms – Truly Outrageous and Making a Comeback at New York Comic Con
If you are a child of the eighties you no doubt remember Jem. She did the whole pop star alter ego thing long before Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana. By day she was Jerrica Benton, mild mannered music company owner and all around nice girl. Thanks to some rather fetching flashing earrings and a computer called Synergy though, at night she became Jem, the truly outrageous pink haired singer of a pop band called The Holograms.
Jem dolls ceased production in 1986 but now, coinciding with a DVD release of the Jem complete series, she is back. And, besides showing up on your TV, she has made her re-debut at New York Comic Con this week.
Jem and Jerrica Take on Barbie
Like so many cartoons of the 1980s, Jem dolls and toys and the accompanying Jem and Holograms cartoons went hand in hand. The Jem doll concept was brought to the attention of Hasbro by Bill Saunders, an ad exec who thought Barbie was boring and that Jem, who was known as Misty at the time, could give Mattel a run for their money.
Once Hasbro were on board they commissioned Sunbow production to create a cartoon show about Jem and the Holograms and it began showing a full six moths before the Jem dolls debuted. Hasbro wanted to give the impression that the show came first, as toy companies were coming under fire at the time for blurring the line between advertising and entertainment with Saturday morning cartoon shows.
Christy Marks, who had written for the GI Joe cartoons was brought in to create the story of Jem/Jerrica and her crew of assorted band members, evil business rivals and of course, a hunky boyfriend, the very debonair Rio.
Jem and Holograms were a huge hit on TV and there was a great deal of excitement when the dolls were launched by Hasbro at the New York Toy Fair in February of 1986.
The original line of Jem dolls were really before their time though. They had a far more realistic body shape than Barbie did and they were what they were. Super cool rockstar dolls, not nurses, princesses or vets. They could not share clothes with Barbies and the other 11 1/2 inch dolls, something that a great many parents were unimpressed by as that made adding Jem to a doll collection a more expensive prospect in many of their eyes.
Collectors love Jem dolls these days and younger kids who can get their hands on them are fascinated by their sparkly hair and wonderfully OTT clothes. But in the Eighties, however hard they tried, Hasbro just couldn’t make the impact they had wanted to with Jem. And she and her TV show were rather unceremoniously retired just three years after her debut.
Recently the hard core Jem fans from the Eighties, who are all grown up now, have been joined by a new generation of Jem fans as the original cartoons have been airing on the HUB cable channel. You can find the old and new Jem fans congregating on Jem fan sites.
The new Jem and the Holograms DVD release has been prompted by this new interest. So it is only fitting that Jem dolls make a reappearance as well. It has been over 20 years since Hasbro gave up on Jem, but now, with a relaunch at New York Comic Con, it seems like she is in favor again.
Speaking of the NYCC, here are a few pics the Toy Spy was able to get on Thursday, opening day.
And, for those of you with the eagle eye, check out the licensed goodies at WeLoveFine.com for some Jem shirts!