A brief history of Jem and the Holograms. I’m talking about the 1980s Jem, not the 2015 live action movie. Click here for the video.
The toy company Hasbro had a successful track record of launching new toy lines by promoting them with an accompanying animated series. They did this with the reboot of the G.I. Joe toy line in 1982, and then again with Transformers in 1984.
Christy Marx, a writer on the GI Joe series, was hired to create an animated series around a doll line concept about two all-female bands. The hero band came to be called Jem and the Holograms.
The band members were:
- Jem (the stage identity of Jerrica Benton, head of Starlight Music)
- Kimber Benton (Jerrica’s sister)
- Aja Leith (Bentons’ foster sister)
- Shana Elmsford (Bentons’ foster sister)
They eventually added a fifth band member named Carmen “Raya” Alonso. The band’s initial purpose was to earn money to help maintain the Benton family charity, the Starlight House, which was a foster home for girls.
Jem is actually a hologram projected by the computer entity known as Synergy, the secret technology developed by Jerrica and Kimber’s father.
Jerrica kept Synergy and the fact that she is Jem a secret from her boyfriend, Rio. This lead to an apparent love triangle, with Rio feeling torn between both Jerrica and Jem.
The Holograms’ rival band was the Misfits, who were not above committing crimes to be more successful than Jem’s group. The members of the Misfits were Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer. They eventually added a member named Jetta.
Another rival group named the Stingers appeared in later episodes. The lead singer, Riot, was a love interest for Jem. The other members were Rapture and Minx.
The real villain of the series was consistently Eric Raymond, former co-owner of Starlight Music, who went on to run the rival record label representing the Misfits, and eventually the Stingers. He was always inciting the worst in the Misfits, encouraging their destructive antics, and even hiring thugs to commit crimes against Jem and the Holograms.
The series aired from 1985-1988, and was produced by Hasbro, Sunbow Productions, and Marvel Productions. The doll line was initially launched with eight dolls:
- Jem/Jerrica (came with an outfit for each character – She had pink and blonde hair, and you were supposed to hide her top layer of pink hair under the hat that came with the Jerrica oufit)
Each doll came with a doll stand, hair pic, an accessory such as a musical instrument, a cassette tape including three songs written for the series, and a poster. New versions of Jem, the Holograms, Rio, the Misfits, new characters, and playsets were released in 1986 and 1987.
But the series was cancelled and no new dolls were released.
However, in 2012, Integrity Toys negotiated a licensing deal with Hasbro to release a adult collector doll line of Jem and The Holograms dolls. They began with Jem, Synergy and Rio. By the end of the doll line run in 2017, they had released a total of 58 different dolls, including many characters Hasbro had never released (e.g. Eric Raymond, The Stingers, Shana’s boyfriend Anthony Julian, etc…).