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The Jumbo Plush Toy and How the Teddy Bear Remained Popular December 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigstuffedanimals @ 1:09 pm

Every toy collection should have a jumbo plush toy or two in it. That’s not to say the collection is lacking without a jumbo plush toy, but it’s by no means complete.

Between the 1950’s and the 1960’s, there was a major rise in the West of living standards. This all took place at the same time that an unprecedented number of babies were being born. With more disposable income and the rise of the birth rate, it meant nothing but good news for the toy industry, however, competition was also fierce. This was the same period when Barbie (1959), G.I Joe (1964) and Action Man (1966) were all introduced. Teddy bears were already seen as a traditional toy which was loved by parents but not so much by a younger generation that was quickly becoming novelty hungry. In order to come up with a range of bears that would meet the need of the age, the industry had to react quickly and leading the way was Steiff (creator of the teddy bear) in Germany.

Steiff knew that its range of products needed to be updated if it was going to part of the economic recovery that was taking place. It started the process by moving away from the traditional designs of Richard Steiff (which are treasured today) and moving to a more modern classic teddy bear. In 1950, the new bear was registered and was offered at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. The new look of this teddy was  more like a bear cub than that of a grizzly bear. As it became evident that fewer and fewer children in the ten year old age range would admit to loving their old friend, the teddy bear had no choice but to set its sights on a younger audience. 

During the 1950’s and 1960’s, the head of the classic teddy bear became rounder and larger in proportion to the rest of its body. His muzzle also became less pronounced and its fur was cut short. Finally, his body was made fatter and younger looking and his ‘arms’ and legs’ were less exaggerated in shape and length.

In the next year, Steiff introduced Zotty whose name came from the German word zottig, which means ‘shaggy.’ Zotty had long curly brown-tipped mohair with a peach-colored bib that was set into his chest. His mouth was open and lined with felt and his paws pointed downward. A less popular version of Zotty was also designed – Sleeping or Flopping Zotty, positioned lying down with eyes closed. The idea behind this new bear was to produce a softer playmate for small children that would be an essential childhood friend that could be held and comforted, and, that could also give comfort in return. Zotty was a major success and as a result was imitated by many other German firms.

If deciding that  a jumbo plush toy will in fact make it into to a collection of stuffed animals, it can be whatever soft toy you want it to be. It goes without saying, however, that in order for the collection to truly be ‘complete,’ a jumbo plush toy teddy bear will have to be added.