Courtesy of Dukát Photos
Even the most ardent optimists are forced to admit; the world can be complicated, challenging and sometimes cruel. The Media Education Foundation finds a significant increase in violent media today; meanwhile acts of violence have left much of the world on edge.
It should come as no surprise then, that in an uncertain modern world some of us turn to the past for light and warmth…the recent past as chance would have it.
Originally created in 1981 by American Greetings Corporation for use on greeting cards, Care Bears quickly became a multi-faceted franchise after their launch in 1983. Television specials, plush toys, and books secured the early success of the original ten bears. A year later, the Care Bear Cousins starred alongside the Care Bears in a feature film that would become the highest-grossing animated feature outside the Disney market at the time of its release.
While Uber will never be able to take you to the Kingdom of Caring, many fans of the Care Bears have found a way to bring small pieces of Care-a-lot and the Forest of Feelings – home to the Bears and the Cousins, respectively – to our modern and sometimes uncaring world.
“I've been working on a pretty hefty Care Bears merchandise collection for the past two or so years. I currently own the majority of the plush toys released in 2014 and 2015,” said Shaye, a 20-year-old fan from Napa, California. “I'm currently amassing older merchandise as well; lunchboxes, fan pulls, plush toys, blankets, you name it. When I pick out what to buy, I usually start with my favorite characters first and work my way down the list! My most recent purchase was a Cheer Bear plush that stands almost 4 feet tall.”
What is it about the Care Bears that spawns such dedicated fandom? In many ways, the Care Bears are the heroes that humanity needs today—celestial, compassionate beings tasked with making sure we mortals on earth, well, care about each other. Although they are united by a single higher cause, each Bear manages to have its own specialty, which is identified by a unique “Belly Badge.”
Shaye finds that several of the individual Bears resonate with her personally. “My favorite bear is Bedtime Bear — I see a lot of myself in him. I take as much time as possible out of my day to sleep,” adds Shaye. “A couple close runner-ups are Wish Bear and Sweet Dreams bear. I'm also really fond of Daydream Bear.”
Bedtime Bear, and his female equivalent, Sweet Dreams Bear, work tirelessly to make sure everyone gets the rest they need and have pleasant dreams.
They, along with the rest of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Caring, monitor the amount of caring and love via the Caring Meter. Should the levels of caring and joy drop on earth, the Bears and Cousins must go on missions to restore the balance of happiness, usually by harnessing the joint power of their Belly Badges through the use of the Care Bear Stare.
Although Care Bears have been parodied over the years for their quaint belly symbols and saccharine nature, they have persistently maintained a strong cultural presence in fans young and old for decades.
“I've been a fan of Care Bears since I was very little,” said Jeff, a 30-year-old fan from Seattle, Washington. “I had a Bedtime Bear plushie that I took with me anywhere that I went until I was maybe 5 or 6. I’ve always enjoyed the stories and characters, including the villains.”
With names like Professor Coldheart, Frostbite, Auntie Freeze, No Heart and Beastly, the villains of the 80’s Care Bear universe form perfect foils for the plush heroes. This rivalry between the forces of good and evil may lack subtlety, but it also seems to provide comfort for the viewers and fans who will continue feeding their Care Bears obsession for years to come.
“I don't have a tattoo but it's on the bucket list,” explained Jeff, “I'd like to get a Care Bear Heart at some point.”
Written by the CARD.com Marketing Team