If you have had the chance to read any of my past articles, then I am sure you have figured out that I grew up in the 80’s/90’s. Yes, it was a long time ago, but let me tell you it was a time like no other! Today, I am sure that many probably get a kick out of some of the outrageous clothing that was worn or listens in shock at some of the “creative” music that topped the charts back then.
However, and this is just my belief, one thing you will never be able to take away or laugh at is the fact that 80’s kids grew up with the coolest toys and cartoons. Many of those toys are still around today, just in newer and updated versions. The ones that won over my heart back then and still have my heart are The Care Bears.
In 1981, the licensing division, Those Characters From Cleveland(TCFC) from American Greetings created the Care Bears. The co-president of TCFC, Jack Chojnacki introduced the first Care Bear to 3 businessmen from American Greeting Cards and 3 from the toy company Kenner. The co-president received good responses from all 6 and he knew then what they had to do next. They contacted Muriel Fahrion who helped create Strawberry Shortcake and had her come aboard. Muriel went to work with the TCFC creative team and she designed the first 6 bears. Muriel’s sister, Susan Trentel who had designed the Strawberry Shortcake dolls designed the Care Bear plush bears and children’s illustrator Elena Kucharik became the primary artist for The Care Bears once the concept stage had finished. Elena went on to create hundreds of full colored drawings for greeting cards, licensed products, and books.
In 1983, Kenner took the bears a step further and began manufacturing the plush bears that were designed by Susan. Then from ’85-88, the Care Bears had their own TV series and would star in 3 movies. The Care Bears had taken over and stores were having trouble keeping the shelves stocked. So now you know how the Care Bears came to be, now it’s time to see what they are all about!
The Care Bears are a group of adorable little bears on a mission to teach people how to care. Each bear has a symbol on their belly that represents its personality and is called a “tummy symbol”, this name was later changed to “belly badge” in 2007. They can also use their bellies to shoot out a beam that is full of all their love and special energy. When the Care Bears use their beams all together it is known as The Care Bear Stare.
The first ten original Care Bears were Bedtime Bear, Birthday Bear, Cheer Bear, Friend Bear, Funshine Bear, Good Luck Bear, Grumpy Bear, Love-a-lot Bear, Tenderheart Bear, and Wish Bear. Later on, additional bears joined them, as well as the Cousins.
They live in a cloud-land home called Care-a-lot but sometimes they will go down to Earth to help someone if they are having a “caring” problem. When they are on earth, they try not stay long, they like to help and get back to Care-a-lot as quick as they can. You would think that when living at a place like Care-a-lot, everything would be perfect and most of the time it is pretty close to perfect for The Care Bears. However, sometimes it’s not perfect at all. Sometimes, The Care Bears have to deal with Professor Cold Heart, No Heart, Shreeky, and Beastly who are just a few of the bad guys set out on destroying them and Care-a-lot.
The Care Bear franchise still runs pretty strong today, but back in the 80’s, it was one that dominated. American Greetings sold over 70 million cards, over 45 million books about the bears were published and between 1983 and 1987, 40 million Care Bears were sold. The Care Bears franchise is one that will surely live on forever!
Here are a few fun facts about the bears:
- Many products or characters go through many “working names” before everyone comes to an agreement on a final one. The Care Bears, however, went through none! It was the first name brought up and everyone loved it.
- Two bears have actually swapped colors. When the first Care Bears were being made, someone made a mistake on Bedtime bear. His color is Blue but it got changed to Aqua which is Wish Bears color. The mistake was discovered and quickly fixed. Manufacturers hoped no one had noticed but children can be quite perceptive! Lots of children noticed the difference, so a story was made up to correct it by explaining that on a very special mission Wish Bear had to change to Bedtime’s blue color in order to get into the land of dreams.
- The legend of King Arthur was a big inspiration when creating the Care Bears story. The place Care-a-lot was a play on Camelot and Love-a-lot bear received her name based on Sir Lancelot’s name.
- Many bogus Care Bears were made but the way to tell the real bears apart is that every Care Bear has a heart-shaped button that says “Carebears” on the right hip.
- Over the years, many Care Bears have either swapped genders or changed their “belly badge” symbol. Swiftheart Rabbit was a male character but when the first movie was made he had changed to a female. Funshine Bear was originally a female but at the 2002 relaunch changed to a male. Secret Bear also started as a male character then was changed to a female, also the color was changed from tangerine to bright pink. Share Bear and Harmony Bear had their “belly badge” symbols changed and Tenderheart Bear changed from the color brown to red.
Like always, thanks so much for reading and don’t forget to check out all the other awesome articles here on The Game Of Nerds. I am going to leave you with two pictures, the one on the left is what the original Care Bears from the 80’s looked like and the one on the right is what they look like today. Which ones do you like better? Leave your answer in the comments below.