Truly outrageous as ever, Jem of Jem and the Holograms fame (or Jerrica Benton, if you’re opposed to acknowledging the hologram-created alter-egos of singers/record label owners/altruistic foster home angels) remains an icon of animated coolness that transcends the '80s era she so fully embodied. The star of 65 episodes of a television show centered on friendship, music, magical earrings, romance, dudes named Rio, and synthesizers in equal measure, Jem’s popularity hasn’t waned in the near-30 years since she made her broadcast debut. Like any proper star of stage and screen, Jem’s essence has distilled down to doll size a number of times over the years, including a run of dolls in the eighties and a brand new line that’s not even two years old yet.
1. Jem/Jerrica First Edition – 1985
Photo courtesy of Pranceatron
The first Jem/Jerrica doll isn’t that impressive (a large forehead and a tendency for hair color to fade isn’t a good look for anyone), especially considering its rich source material. But the 1985 issued Hasbro doll does include two totally on-point outfits (one for Jem, one for Jerrica) and earrings that light up. While this first doll may not be the best looking of the bunch, it did come with a series of instructions on how to style her hair for maximum coolness—both in Jem fashion and for a Jerrica look.
2. Glitter ‘n Gold Jem/Jerrica – 1986
This second edition, the Glitter 'n Gold doll, was a real upgrade—it had a more refined overall look, bendy joints for dancing power, another styling guide, and appropriately star-shaped earrings to match. Known as Rock ‘n Gold Jem in France and Belgium (a name-change theme that continues to pop up in the '80s editions), the set included two different outfits to mix (one for Jem, one for Jerrica, though they were adorably interchangeable). The doll also came with a very flashy cassette tape that included three hot jams: “Glitter 'n Gold Theme Song,” “Depends on the Mood I'm In,” and “Love Is Here.”
3. Rock ‘n Curl Jem - 1986
Consider Rock n’ Curl Jem (known as Rock ‘n Roll Jem in France) a rock star doll on a budget. While she came with extra long hair (you know, for curling), the doll didn’t include a Jerrica outfit, blinky earrings, a stand, or a cassette tape for listening pleasure. She does, however, share the same face mold as both Glitter ‘n Gold Jem and Flash ‘n Sizzle Jem, so at least she fits in with the rest of the bunch.
4. Flash ‘n Sizzle Jem aka Rock ‘n Flash Jem – 1986
Reportedly the rarest of the early addition Jem dolls, Flash ‘n Sizzle Jem (or, if you’re French, Rock ‘n Flash Jem) returned the dolls to their high standards. With a Jerrica outfit, flashing earrings, a doll stand for sweet posing, and a cassette tape with three songs (“Jem Theme,” “Time Is Running Out,” and “Set Your Sails”), Flash ‘n Sizzle already came with plenty—but she also included yet another awesome hair styling guide. And, while Jem usually gets the best outfits, this time Jerrica took over, sporting a jaw-dropping yellow and pink hoodie minidress that fans would probably still wear today.
5. Rockin’ Romance Jem – 1988
Behold, the dark period of Jem dolls. Before the doll line was cancelled in 1988, a number of new editions were worked up—some even made it into Hasbro’s Pre-Toy Fair 1988 catalogue or popped up as prototypes—so while these dolls don’t actually exist, we do know what they would have looked like. A few Rockin’ Romance Jems have shown up on auction websites, but that doesn’t make them quite official. What is official about this doll is that she would have come with “the most outrageous hair ever,” a wavy and crinkled affair that featured one heck of a top ponytail. Now that’s romance!
6. American Beauty Jem – 1988
Photo courtesy of Pranceatron
The other great unreleased Jem doll, American Beauty Jem was a red, white, and blue doll. It was intended as a riff on an episode of Jem and the Holograms that featured the girls on a nationwide tour and that ultimately concluded with a big, bad, bedazzled jam about America.
7. Hollywood Jem – 2012
For fans of Jem, June 27, 2012 is a day that will live in glorious infamy, as it was the day that Integrity Toys announced that they were teaming up with Hasbro to issue a whole mess of new Jem dolls (including other characters!). The first product of that collaboration was Hollywood Jem, a Comic-Con exclusive with a limited run of just 500 dolls. Despite her hip look, Hollywood Jem does pull from a classic Jem look, including an outfit from the episode “One Jem Too Many” and a hairstyle most reflective of Jem’s actual tresses.
8. Classic Jem – 2012
Classic Jem followed Hollywood Jem just one month later—also available in a limited run (just one thousand dolls this time around). While Classic Jem is a modern gal (she is, after all, considered a collectible, not a toy), the doll features a very recognizable Jem outfit (no, really, you may recognize it from that very first edition). For added flash, this Jem comes complete with a corded microphone for rocking out—and while that might not sound so cool, it’s pretty impressive to see Jem clutching something that looks like a real microphone, not just a piece of plastic.
9. Jerrica Benton – 2012
But what about Jerrica? Neither Hollywood Jem nor Classic Jem featured a Jerrica outfit, so Integrity went ahead and made a Jerrica-only doll. Like Classic Jem, her outfit is very recognizable—both from the show and from the first edition doll. But how will this Jerrica become Jem? With included Synergy-friendly star-shaped earrings, that’s how!
10. Glitter ‘n Gold Jem – 2013
Like Classic Jem, this year’s Comic-Con exclusive from Integrity and Hasbro looked back on vintage Jem dolls for inspiration, giving fans an updated take on the 1986 Glitter ‘n Gold Jem. This time around, however, outfits for both Jem and Jerrica were included, all the way down to individual sets of tights and weirdly realistic pumps.
11. Broadway Magic Jem – 2013
The latest Jem doll is a super-exclusive only available to members of Integrity’s own W Club and with a slim run of 500 dolls. A meticulous take on Jem’s look from the “Broadway Magic” episode, her iconic dress looks so spot-on that it proves that the new Jem line is only getting better and more adherent to its source material. Her hairstyle might not exactly be canon, but that misstep is forgotten in the face of extra trinkets like tiny Broadway tickets and a fake love letter from Rio.