It’s a little discouraging when your childhood toys start popping up in vendor malls and labeled as vintage. I believe it was Kenner that made these jointed Care Bears figures when I was a kid in the early eighties. I still have a few. Kenner made some of the best toys of my childhood.
There were ten original bears including Funshine Bear, Good Luck Bear, Bedtime Bear and Grumpy Bear. They live together in Care-a-lot.
Care Bears we’re actually the creation of a Cleveland born illustrator named Elana Kucharik. She drew them to be used for a line of greeting cards for American Greetings. Within a couple of years they were plush toys and eventually went on to take over the toy market with all manner of merchandise. I still remember drooling over all that stuff in the sale bills and Sears Wish Book.
They also developed a line of Care Bear Cousins who were other little animals including a cat, raccoon and elephant. There was a popular Saturday morning cartoon, records and a series of movies. My poor dad even took me to the old Louvee Theater in Wellston to see the first one. It was the best day. For me at least.
As for Ms. Kucharik, she was under the employ of American Greetings when she created these iconic characters so I imagine she didn’t get rich. She’s 79 and still taking orders for custom paintings and sketches.
The Care Bears have made a resurgence in recent years and I was excited to see a collection of the small plush bears in stores at Christmas. Meanwhile, the originals are still floating around in closets and basements and, for Pete’s sake, antique malls too!
I’m sort of astonished that the Sears Wish Book was still around when you were a kid!
I just looked it up. Believe it or not, their Wish Book lasted until 2011.