The Care Bear


The Care Bears

In the early 1980s, a strange new kind of teddy bear appeared in stores throughout the country. These bears had pastel-coloured fur instead of the usual brown, and they had wispy tufts of hair on their heads. They had large eyes, heart-shaped noses, and an embroidered motif on their podgy tummies. Care Bears had arrived.

Soon, most toddlers had a Care Bear of their very own - but they appealed to older kids too. And teens adored them, because the bears' names, such as Love-a-Lot,
Tenderheart and Good Luck, made them ideal message-bearing gifts. But by the early 1990s, these little bears had practically disappeared - until now.

Because suddenly Care Bears are very much in the 'Collectable Toys' department and many fans, both here and in the states, are desperately searching for them.
Care Bears didn't only come in plush.

They were also produced as a series of plastic figures. Copyrighted by the American Greetings Corporation, distributed by Palitoy and Kenner, these cute little bears came in two sizes - an all-in-one type, approximately two inches tall, and a larger, three and a half inches articulated figure.

The small bears sold at around £2 each, and the larger size £3.50 Originally, there were 36 figures in the miniatures set,comprising thirteen different bears in assorted poses, as well as the Cloudkeeper and Professor Cold 4 Heart – human type forms, one good and one bad.

The bears included Cheer, Wish, Funshine, Good Luck, Grumpy, Friend, Birthday, Bedtime, Love-a- Lot, Tenderheart, Gram's, Baby Tugs and Baby Hugs, and each little model was depicted holding balloons, paintbrush,rainbow, clovers, lemonade etc, depending on the bear's personality.
The Care Bears

They were marked AGC 1983 in tiny letters, and had a minute red heart on their bottoms.

The larger bears didn't hold anything, but they were all robustly made from good-quality plastic, with moveablelimbs and head.

Both these and the smaller figures were much brighter than the plush toys - emerald, cerise, purple, orange, ultramarine, turquoise and brown, rather than pastels.

But who were the Care Bears? According to the publicity blurbs, they were 'Roly- poly little bears who live high in a land of rainbows and fluffy clouds called Care-a-lot'. They regularly came to earth to help humans share their feelings with others - so if you were feeling cross, you'd get Grumpy bear, and if you were feeling tired, then Bedtime bear would give you a cuddle.

And if you were feeling tire^, uu n Bedtime give you a cuddle.

Naturally, the marketing propaganda soon kicked in, and we were awash with notepaper, mugs, books,T- shirts, cards and soap, all bearing the colourful bears.
More bears were introduced,including Forest Friend, Secret, Share and Champ,
and you could buy a Care- a-lot playset (a large red heart with white clouds and a blue ramp), a Cloud Mobile (toy cloud car) and a Rainbow Roller (moving cloud with a rotating rainbow), and of course,there were videos.

The 1985 movie, with a film track including songs by Carole King and John Sebastian, introduced Care Bear Cousins.

These too were soon rendered as plastic figures, in two sizes as before, and included Brave Heart Lion, Lotsa Heart Elephant, Cozy Heart Penguin, Gentle Heart Lamb, BrightHeart Raccoon and Swift Heart Rabbit.

The cousins appeared in the same bright colours as the bears. The cutest was probably the lime green lamb.

The Care Bears

Forest Friends were marked AGC 85. Care Bear Cousins lived in the Forest of Feelings, and, like the Care Bears, had motifs on their tummies. , Later, more Forest Friends came along, including Loyal Heart Dog, Proud Heart Cat, Playful Heart Monkey and Treat Heart Pig, but some of these figures appear to have been only released in the States, not the UK.

The plastic Care Bear and Care Bear Cousin models can still be found at boot sales and markets, but they are being snapped up by collectors determined to collect the whole set. Often, though, the motifs or noses A have been scratched off, so keep searching till you find good i examples. General grime, however, will easily wash off with warm water and a little soap. Rinse well afterwards to make sure that no soap residue is Left behind on the plastic. Plush Care Bears came in several sizes, but most commonly found are the 13 inch and six inch bears. In Hamleys in the 1980s, the larger model sold for £13.99 and the smaller bear, £7.99.

The plush was of good quality, in assorted pastel shades. Plush Care Bears had large, round heads, small ears and white muzzles. The plastic heart-shaped noses were various colours, and they had smiling mouths with, often, a small cloth tongue.
Eyes were printed onto flat plastic ovals, and eyebrows were embroidered.

Heads and limbs had no joints, so couldn't swivel, and the feet had heart-shaped pads.

They had small tails, and red plastic hearts on their bottoms. Each bear had a large embroidered motif set in a white furry circle on its tummy and a tuft of hair on the top of its head.

The Care Bears

Today, Care Bears in average, played-with condition, can still be found for a couple of pounds or so, though perfect examples, or rare bears, cost much more. They wash very well in warm water, and can be tumbled dry.

Brushing brings up their fur like new.

Do beware of imitations, because once Care Bears became popular, other manufacturers tried to get onto the band wagon. Genuine plush Care Bears have the red heart-shaped plastic button on their bottoms, with 'Care Bear TM' in white letters.

They also have sewn-in labels, with the details of the manufacturers, Kenner or Tonka, and the

.Reminder that they are copyrighted by the American Greetings Corp., though often these labels are unreadable due to excessive washing, or have been cut off the bear.

The Care Bears

The Care Bears

There are several internet care Bear sites, with lists of sales and wants - but many bears (and friends) were only issued in the States, and Britain didn't get all the sizes available to American collectors.

 However, it seems that some bears were issued only over here, including Tonka's Forest Friend and Day Dream. Care Bears are bright, colourful things to collect and certainly will cheer up any dark corner. And because they are so bright, they're easy to find when you're rummaging through boxes of toys in charity shops and jumble sales! 

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