Care Bears And When Your Toys Are Vintage

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!

Found Antique and Vintage Mall

Since it gets dark so early, we spent most of our Denver evenings perusing thrift stores, antique malls and bargain stores like TJ Maxx. We were pretty diligent about our retail therapy especially at Found Antique and Artisan Mall in Wheat Ridge.

They have about 65 vendors in 12,000 square feet of small rooms, nooks and crannies. It’s sort of a maze where every turn presents opportunity to find unexpected treasures like these rosettes made from old ties.

They have tons of handmade items and numerous vintage items that I had never seen before. From a mid century era baby monitor called the Baby Sitter to a sixties era Fred Flinstone/ Dino the Dinosaur toy, there are many interesting things to admire. That Flinstones toy is fabulous but comes with a $465 price tag. That was a bit out of my price range but they also have some eighties era Carebears like some I had as a child. Finding them marked vintage was a bit offputting (because I can’t possibly be old enough to call my toys vintage) but they were far more affordable than Fred.

Anyway, it’s a great store in a fantastic space and I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the Denver area. They also have a location in Wisconsin if that’s closer for you. Get the details here!