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The Pink Teddy Bear and Novelty Bears November 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 8:11 pm

The pink teddy bear is considered a novelty bear simply because of its unusual coloring. And, contrary to popular belief, pink teddy bears are not reserved strictly for the birth of a baby, a christening, or a baby shower; this delightful teddy can be given and purchased for any and all occasions.

In 1965 the Merrythought Co. produced a wonderful novelty bear family called the Twisty Bear Family. Mr. And Mrs. Twisty Bear and their two children had fabric bodies. The father and son wore red overalls, while mom and daughter wore red skirts and white aprons. All the bears had large feet and an internal wire frame which allowed them to stand. With the internal wire, the bears could also be twisted and would hold a position until moved again.

From the 1920s on, novelty musical bears with clockwork or pressure-activated mechanisms were popular. Teddy manufacturers around the world had the tendency to buy their mechanisms from Swiss producers rather than making the attempt to produce them themselves. In 1928, Steiff introduced novelty musical teddies with Musik Teddy and Musik Petsy. Clothing on the bear (such as a skirt) would hide a cylinder which contained the musical movement. When the bear was pressed down, the melody would play.

Schreyer and Co., under the brand name Schuco, were one of the finest producers of novelty teddies. They introduced a wide range of automotive, miniature, and other unusual bears to the market, using many of the ingenious techniques it had developed when it produced toy cars. There was a uniformed  soldier bear produced in the 1920s which was a clockwork Bär 155 Automatic, that would march up and down when it was wound up.

In the scheme of things, the pink teddy bear is not so unusual given the different types of novelty bears that have been produced over the years. While it’s still most often given to mark an occasion associated with a little girl, the pink teddy bear, like all novelty bears, doesn’t have to have such a specific label associated with it.


Teddy Bear Plush and the New Look of Teddy Bears in the United States

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 8:05 pm

You would be hard pressed to find a child’s nursery that doesn’t have its share of teddy bear plush. What started out, in fact, as a humble nursery companion, has gone on to become a valuable collector’s item that continues to dominate the soft-toy market today. Both young and old confess to loving their teddy bear plush, and really, can you blame them?

In the 1950s, the United States got very experimental when it came to the creation of teddy bears. Any company that was going to go on and grow (and survive), embraced the latest materials and designs. They also recognized how important film and television were on the nation’s culture – many teddy bears that were the most successful during this period, had a cartoonlike appearance.

One such company that is still doing well today was the Gund Manufacturing Co. It was founded by Adolph Gund in 1898 – a German immigrant. The company was based in Connecticut before it moved to New York, where it went on to produce novelty toys. The teddy bear joined it’s range of products in 1906 but the early examples of them are very rare.

Gund’s success goes to one Jacob Swedlin. He was a Russian immigrant who joined Gund in 1909 when he was just 14 years old. Swedlin became very interested in soft toy productions and his hard work and enthusiasm were eventually rewarded. He trained in cutting, pattern-making, and design before moving on to become personal assistant to Adolph Gund. Since Gund had no children, in 1925, he sold the company for a small amount to Swedlin when he retired. Three of Swedlin’s brothers joined [the company] after its purchase and they helped manage and develop it. While they changed the company name to J. Swedlin Inc., they kept Gund as their trade name.

Following World War II, the Gund company enjoyed major success; in 1948, Walt Disney granted its exclusive rights to produce soft-toy versions of Disney animations. It went on to produce stuffed versions of King Features and Hanna Barbera cartoons such as Yogi Bear. When Yogi was introduced to U.S. television viewers in the 1960s, he was a huge success, guaranteeing sales for Gund’s merchandise. Gund was one of the first U.S. companies to produce teddy bears that had inset vinyl faces, along with Knickerbocker, Ideal, and a few lesser known companies.

Following in Gund’s footsteps, was the Ideal Toy Corporation, which was located in Brooklyn, New York. It too formed very important relationships with character bears, including Smokey the Bear in 1953 which was introduced as a soft toy. It was in 1944 that Smokey was introduced as the symbol of the U.S. Forest Fire Prevention Campaign. Ideal won the licence to manufacture Smokey the Bear models in 1953 and went on to produce hugely popular dressed bears that had vinyl faces and paws. When prompted, some of the toys even had a fire-safety message. Ideal lost the Smokey licence to Knickerbocker in 1968 and they then went on to make the bears until the late 1970s.

Teddy bear plush have come a long way since those early days with Gund and Ideal. Although, cartoonlike teddies can still be found today, all made following the popularity of movies and cartoons (including characters from Disney). Teddy bear plush, however, don’t have to be ‘famous’ to be enjoyed – they all do well no matter who they are.


Plush Teddy Bears and Characters Represented by The Teddy Bear

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 7:58 pm

What can one say about plush teddy bears that hasn’t already been said? Everyone knows they are the most popular soft toy ever created. We also know that it’s been loved by both children and adults for more than 100 years. And, we are also well aware that plush teddy bears are much more than just a soft toy but companions that share in every aspect of our lives.

Tie-ins to the toy industry became a matter of importance in the 1950s and as a result, one of the British teddy bear manufacturers – Merrythought – realized the future significance it was going to have. As was the case, in the mid ’50s, it started making soft toys representing characters found in the British cartoon Robin, which included a bear. One of these small teddies, which was dressed in a red felt jacket and was known as Mr. Whoppit, went on to become the mascot of the British car and speedboat enthusiast Donald Campbell. In a series of vehicles called Bluebird, Campbell with Mr. Whoppit along for the ride, broke a number of water and land speed records.

The Chad Valley toy company was also very keen on linking its products with stars from radio and television. In 1952, they bought the rights to produce Sooty glove puppets, named after a little bear that was on the verge of becoming very famous in Britain. Amateur magician, Harry Corbett, bought a teddy bear glove puppet in 1948 so as to amuse his children while they were on holiday in Blackpool, England. The puppet, which they named Teddy, went on to become part of Harry’s magic act. In 1952, the success on a television show called Talent Night (produced by the BBC), led to regular appearances on the children’s show Saturday Special. Teddy was given a makeover at this point – his nose and ears were made black and his name was changed to Sooty. In 1955, he was given his own show called The Sooty Show.

Chad Valley followed up its success with Sooty, by producing Toffee in 1953. He was the Teddy with a Personality whose adventures were featured on the BBC radio program called Listen with Mother.

In 1956, on Christmas Eve, a BBC cameraman by the name of Micheal Bond was shopping in a London department store for a present for his wife. He recalls “on one of the shelves, I came across a small bear looking, I thought, very sorry for himself as he was the only one that hadn’t been sold. I bought him, and because we were living near Paddington Station at the time, we christened him Paddington.” A few days later, while sitting at his typewriter trying to find inspiration for a story he was trying to write, Bond noticed the bear which inspired him to write the opening lines of a A Bear Called Paddington. Once the book was published – about a scruffy bear wearing Wellington boots and a duffle-coat – it was an instant success. The story has gone on to be translated into thirty foreign languages, and been followed by another 10 novels, two collections of short stories, numerous picture books, animated series’, and finally, soft toys. After Winnie the Pooh, today, Paddington is probably the second most famous bear in the world.

As it turns out, there is lots more to say about plush teddy bears – much more, in fact. There is so much history surrounding these lovable creatures that sometimes it can be overwhelming to take it all in. But, none of that changes that fact that plush teddy bears are forever cemented in history as valuable items that continue to dominate the soft-toy market.


Plush Jungle Toys and The Amazon Rainforest

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 7:52 pm

Plush jungle toys are made up of some of the best stuffed animals money can buy; from elephants to giraffes to tigers, to gorillas and lions, there are so many to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one. Plush jungle toys are a terrific way to begin a collection of soft toys and/or decorate a playroom or child’s bedroom. Whatever you decide to do with these delightful stuffed animals, your child won’t be disappointed.

The Amazon Jungle, or, as the Brazilians call it, “Amazonia,” is spread over 8 countries – Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname – covering 40 percent of the South America continent. It covers a total of 2,700,000 square miles which means it’s the size of 48 United States. Even though the Amazon jungle is the world’s largest rainforest, only about 65 percent of it is actually jungle; the balance of it is made up of open country, grassland, and shrub land which includes rainforests, flooded forests, savannas, seasonal forests, and deciduous forests. In addition to land mass, there is a network of some 50,000 miles of waterways that criss-cross the Amazon, with only about 14,000 of them navigable.

The second longest river in the world after the Nile, is the Amazon River. This river system is really the lifeline of the forest and in terms of the development of its rainforests, its history plays an important part. It has eleven times more volume than the Mississippi and drains an area that is equal to the size of the United States. When it’s high water season, the mouth of the Amazon river can be 300 miles wide with 500 billion feet of cubic water flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. Suspended sediment is carried by the Amazon river current (which comes from the Andes) and is what gives the water its muddy appearance.

Native to the Amazon basin are more than 60,000 species of tropical plants which make up one quarter of all the plant species on the earth. In addition, there are 4,000 species of tree that grow there. Reportedly, there are also 14,712 different types of animal life living in the Amazon with 8,000 of them being unique to that part of the planet. There are 300 species of mammal in the Amazon, most of which are made up of rodents and bats. The world’s largest rodent lives there – the capaybera – which can weigh as much as 200 pounds. Two different species of dolphin can be found living in the Amazon river along with other residents like sloths, anteaters, and armadillos – all of which live in the rainforest.

While the selection of plush jungle toys isn’t quite as diverse as the number of animals found living in the Amazon, there is still quite an impressive choice. Whether you choose just one jungle plush toy or opt for several, you won’t be disappointed in their large and lifelike design.


Lion Stuffed Animal and The Lion’s Mane

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 7:46 pm

Like the real thing, the lion stuffed animal is a very regal looking plush toy. Male lion stuffed animals are particularly stunning given their head is surrounded with a thick, plush mane. While there’s nothing wrong with a female lion plush, there’s just something about the males which sets them apart.

According to a number of scientists who studied some 300 lions in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, the lions mane is a whole lot more than just a bunch of fur framing a face; it’s a representation of how vital a lion is, what their fighting skills are like, what social status they are, and  a statement about the climate in which the lion lives.

Female lions don’t have the long fur that surrounds the males face and neck and only males can grow a mane. For a long time, it was believed that the way in which a mane was shaped on the male lion was a statement about its mating selection; males with more impressive manes were able to win over more mates and ultimately had more baby lions. It was also believed that the mane created an illusion of size on the lion, making it seem like he was much bigger and fiercer than he actually was as compared to a lion with no mane at all. The lions mane has also been explained as providing the male with protection around its neck, making it difficult to be grabbed in this area during a fight.

The University of Minnesota’s Peyton West and Craig Packer published a paper in 2002 which explored many of the factors that are direct influences to the lions mane. From the information they gathered, it was revealed that the mane actually contains an abundance of details about the lions nutrition, its ability to fight, its age and health, its testosterone levels, and the climate where it lives. Both Peyton and Packer also revealed that there are two characteristics of manes that in turn give different types of information. For example: lions with darker manes compared to those that are lighter, had better nutrition, higher survival rates of their babies, higher testosterone levels, and their reproductive life-span was longer. The length of the mane was the second characteristic; lions with longer manes were more successful when fighting than lions with shorter manes. Climate also played a factor in length and color. In warmer habitats, lions living there had lighter, shorter manes compared to lions living in areas that were cooler. In addition, as the temperature changes through the year, an individual lion’s mane can also change in color – when it’s cooler it can be much darker than when the temperature is hotter.

The lion’s mane is what makes the lion stuffed animal stand out from other plush toys. When searching for the perfect lion stuffed animal, the look and feel of it its mane should be an important factor in deciding which one is taken home. Like lions in the wild, not all manes on the lion stuffed animal look the same.


Dog Stuffed Animal and Puppy Mills

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 7:40 pm
Sometimes having a dog stuffed animal is a way to have something you love, but for a number of reasons, can’t actually have the real thing. While a dog stuffed animal can never take the place of a living, breathing pup, at the very least, it can provide a measure of comfort and companionship.

Puppy mills have been around for a long time – decades, in fact. The definition of a puppy mill is “a high-volume, sub-standard dog-breeding operation, which sells purebred or mixed breed dogs, directly or indirectly to unsuspecting buyers.” They are essentially dog factories, churning out as many puppies as they can. In so doing, dogs are forced to live in small wire cages with no human companionship, comfort, or toys. Conditions in a puppy mill are nothing short of shocking to say the least. 

When you make the choice not to visit the place you are purchasing your puppy from, you are often inadvertently supporting the puppy mill industry. Despite the fact that you are able to visit a retail store, it doesn’t mean you’re getting a healthy puppy; most stores that choose to sell puppies get them from puppy mills (often contrary to what they might tell you). The best way to ensure you are not buying a puppy mill dog is to not buy your pup from a store or an internet site. You can also refuse to buy any type of animal supplies from a retail store or internet site that that sells puppies.

With the huge number of dogs and puppies that are abandoned and given up on a daily basis to rescue groups and animal shelters, you can save a life by going through any one of these organizations to get your pet. Most of these places are non-profit and run completely by volunteers who work tirelessly to save dogs that have come from horrific conditions – puppy mills included. Their mandate is the care and welfare of the dog and/or puppy with an overall aim is to match the dog or puppy with the right owner so the animal can have a ‘forever home.’ 

A dog stuffed animal really doesn’t know how lucky it is to never have lived its ‘life’ in a puppy mill. While it may wait a while on a toy store shelf until it’s chosen to go home with someone, at the very least, it doesn’t have to endure the horrendous conditions found in puppy mills. When the right person finally does come along and chooses that dog stuffed animal, it will go on to live in the lap of luxury compared to the real thing that may have to endure a life in a place it never ‘asked’ to be.

Angeline Hope is a collector of big stuffed dog toys. You can view a selection of dog plush animals at MyBigPlush.


Unicorn Plush and Profile of the Unicorn

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 7:34 pm

Unicorn plush are popular soft toys for children. With the ‘mysterious’ history that surrounds them, children are simply fascinated by them. With unicorn plush and a little imagination, the adventure possibilities between it and its owner will no know bounds.

Unicorn, the word, comes from the Latin meaning “one-horned.” It’s an imaginary animal that has appeared in many a legend – from Chinese to Indian to European. The unicorn has been portrayed since medieval times as a horse that has a single horn that grows from its forehead. While the overall description of the animal is often different depending on the source, most, if not all, do agree on the horn.

In Chinese tradition, there were four magical creatures, one of which was the unicorn; the other three were the phoenix, dragon, and tortoise. In China,  all of them are signs of good fortune. When a unicorn would appear it would signify the birth or death of someone great; when famous wise man Confucius was born, a unicorn was said to have appeared.

The image of the unicorn in the West comes from the Hebrew Bible. When it was translated into the Greek language, the Hebrew word for “wild ox” was changed to a Greek word that became a reference for either a rhinoceros or a unicorn. Ctesias, the Greek historian, wrote in 400 B.C. , about a wild animal living in India that had a single horn and fought elephants. While the animal was likely the rhino, writers later on, developed an image that looked more like a horned horse than it did a rhino.

During the time of the Middle Ages, European people believed that unicorns really did exist and lived in remote areas of the world. There were numerous legends linked to them one of them being that water was safe for humans and animals to drink after it was touched by a unicorn’s horn. This particular legend was eventually taken even further with the idea that the powdered horn of a unicorn was able to give protection against poison and, could cure disease. Despite the fact that it was widely believed that unicorns were ferocious fighters they also represented purity. This could have been thanks to ancient Greeks and Romans who associated them with Artemis, and other goddesses.

No matter your beliefs about unicorns, you can be sure unicorn plush will eventually make their way into your home. Once a child has seen a unicorn, they can’t help but want one or want to know more about them. When they also learn about the ‘magic’ that surrounds them, they’re intrigued even further. And, what better way is there to keep the intrigue going than by ensuring unicorn plush become of the child’s life.