To a child, life can often be a confusing and downright cruel place. With a steady diet of playground taunts and sibling rivalry to cope with, nothing could be more welcoming at the end of a trying day than the companionship of a non-judgmental, and preferably fluffy companion. Enter the Care Bears, ready to set the world right with their never-ending affection that any kid would welcome with open arms.
Evolving from a line of greeting cards, the Care Bears were unleashed on the world by Kenner Toys in the mid-1980s. The cuddly collection of 12” bears consisted of ten unique critters, each a distinctive color, and adorably named Tenderheart, Funshine, Good Luck, Cheer, Friend, Grumpy, Wish, Bedtime, and Love-a-lot. The bear-loving folks in Canada, Australia and the UK were treated to an additional line of Forest Friend and Sea Friend bears. Common to all of the furry friends were the distinctive plastic heart embedded into every bear tush, signifying their authenticity in a world of imposters.
In later years, more inhabitants of Care-a-Lot (where the Care Bears called home) made their way onto store shelves, along with a number of related items. Multiple sizes of bear were available from the diminutive 6” bears to the formidable three-foot-tall models. And for those that just couldn’t get enough of the Care Bears, a variety of books, puzzles, bed sheets, and other goodies were ready to fill in the gaps. Ceramic and porcelain Care Bears, Hide-N-Seek Care Bears, Care Bear Cousins, and even environmentally aware versions all claimed a piece of the Care Bear pie. And like any respectable toy, the Care Bears would successfully cross over into movies and television. Mickey Rooney and Carole King lent their voice to 1985s The Care Bear Movie, which led to two animated television series, The Care Bears and The Care Bear Family.
The Care Bears were all about using the power of love to conquer any case of the blues that life had to offer. And if one chose to fend off the love of a Care Bear, they risked contending with the renowned all-powerful “Care Bear Stare”, an intervention of the entire bear community – standing side by side and focusing their collective energy on negative emotions until they melted into a pool of nothingness. Such was the power of the Care Bears, such was the love of the Care Bears, unconditional and never-ending. And to a kid, there were few things that matched the security and friendship that these compassionate critters provided.
If you were the proud owner (parent?) of a Care Bear back in your youth, or maybe even a whole closet full, we’d love to hear all of your recollections in our comments section, as we tip our hats to these memorable toys.