by Christine Duhaime and Phil Guie

toothpickLife—or childhood, at least—would have been simply un-bear-able without teddy bears, am I right? What other toy so effectively soothes us when we’re unhappy, or makes for a truer companion on picnics, tea parties, and other adventures? And since this is an industry blog, we should also point out that teddy bears are a perennial seller among audiences of all ages: Toddlers may receive them for their first toys, but so do young adults as college graduation presents; and grown-ups as birthday gifts, Valentine’s Day tokens, and souvenirs.

It’s also worth noting that teddy bears are frequently adapted for both evergreen and hot new licenses and industry trends. Given how this simple stuffed toy is such an integral part of American pop culture, no wonder there’s a day—specifically, today, September 9—dedicated to commemorating its importance. Here at The Toy Book, we’re doing our part to celebrate National Teddy Bear Day by listing some of the more unique and innovative teddy bears we’ve seen in recent months.

Now this is not meant to be an exhaustive list: Doubtless, despite cramming in as many items as possible, I’m sure we’ve “bear”-ly scratched the surface of this rich toy genre.

  • Toothpick, from Gund: This next-generation teddy has a skinny, but surprisingly sturdy body, which lets him sit up easily. He has a texture similar to traditional teddy bears.
  • Comfies Bean Bag Polar Bear, from Fiesta: This soft bear toy line includes the polar bear, the panda, and the black bear in both 7.5- and 14.5-inch sizes. They are made to be especially soft and floppy.
  • WikiBear, from Commonwealth Toy & Novelty: Available this fall, WikiBear connects to the Internet via Bluetooth and lets kids ages 3 and up ask questions, tells jokes, and have conversations. The more kids interact with WikiBear, the better WikiBear gets to know the child.
  • Sampson and Coco, from Gund and Cuipo: This plush sun bear (and coconut sidekick) is part of a recent line intended to raise awareness of endangered species. The line also features the emperor monkey, three-toed sloth, and more.
  • Rilakkuma, from Aliquantum International Inc.: Extremely popular in Japan, the brand Rilakkuma revolves around a group of plush characters, whose mission is to help the average citizen relax (Not so different from western teddy bears, one supposes). Rilakkuma stuffed bears are available in various sizes.

That’s all for now! Please enjoy the rest of National Teddy Bear Day, and thanks for “bear”-ing with us!

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