Synopsis of Toy
If, as a little girl, you wanted to save the world against mean siblings or the older kids at your elementary school, it’s possible you identified with Rainbow Brite. She wanted to bring color back to the fictional Rainbowland; you wanted to make sure your brothers and sisters wouldn’t always eat the good sugar cereal and leave you with the healthy bran stuff. She had the Color Kids, each of whom represented a color of the rainbow, and the furry Sprite animals on her team; you had your aging family dog, who wasn’t, by dictionary definitions, what we’d call furry anymore. The point is, you emulated Rainbow… she had a goal, and she pursued it courageously. Just like you. And let’s face it, there aren’t many crusaders quite as cute as this one—crusaders are always, well, they’re just always so unkept.
Rainbow Brite started, like Strawberry Shortcake before her, as a greeting card charmer. She was first copyrighted by Hallmark Cards, and then in 1983 Hallmark and toy company Mattel joined forces to manufacture the original soft-bodied line of dolls, which had vinyl heads and hands.
As the mythology went, Wisp (R.B. in her pre-heroine incarnation) and her team of cuties struggled against the Dark One, who had turned the world into a gloomy, joyless festival of gray. Wisp’s furry pet Sprite was named Twink, and her transportation was Starlite, her loyal white horse. Once, taking cover from the rain inside of a cave, Wisp came upon the magic Color Belt and realized she had to save the Color Kids—who were in jeopardy, in seven different corners of the land. There was Red Butler, Canary Yellow, Patty O’Green, La La Orange, Shy Violet, Indigo, Buddy Blue and Tickled Pink, all of whom had Velcro on their hands for convenient Sprite-toting. One by one, Wisp managed to set all the Color Kids free. And for her heroism, she was christened Rainbow Brite and named the protector of all of Rainbowland.
In addition to the original ten-inch version of the doll, there were large eighteen-inch dolls and small, all-vinyl figurines, aimed at little girls with not-so-little collector ambitions. Though there wasn’t a girth of Rainbow merchandise, Ms. Brite didn’t get lonely. She had her Color Kid buddies, she had all those adorable pet Sprites, and probably most importantly of all, she had Baby Brite—and everyone in Rainbowland knows that this little Baby is really a magic creature called “the Sphere of Light,” the key to ultimately disbanding the gloom in Rainbowland.
The weather was usually very nice in Rainbowland, but when it wasn't, you could bet that Murky Dismal, Rainbow Brite’s sworn enemy, was behind the gloom. This roly-poly little man had a moustache and a green face, and a villain’s physicality just doesn’t get much ickier than that. He even carried a bag with ‘gloom’ marked right on it, so you knew he was no worshipper of the sun. Murky’s sidekick was Lurky, but a dreary duo like this was no match for Ms. Brite—she always had a way of keeping the color from fading.
Ms. Brite made her movie debut in 1985 with Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, and starred in a self-titled cartoon show in 1986. Don’t begrudge her Hollywood jaunts—she’s the reason, after all, for the blue sky and the green grass and why we have to wash our clothes with color-safe detergent. As the matron of all that’s multi-hued, she deserves the best.