Happy 35th, Care Bears!

A few years after American Greetings had a big success with Strawberry Shortcake and her friends, their artists got back to work creating more iconic cartoon characters. The Care Bears came in a variety of different colors. Each Care Bear had a different symbol on its belly that corresponded to their various tasks. I like to think of it as Tenderheart being a general practitioner and the other Care Bears being specialists. 

Here are some of my favorite Care Bears related memories: 

Cheer Bear Plush 

When their toy line first came out, my parents bought me a small plush Cheer Bear. Cheer was a favorite companion and took frequent rides in the washing machine.  Sadly, I don’t have her anymore. I hope she’s bringing another child joy.

Wish Bear Clip-On

I found this clip-on Wish Bear on a “retro” themed display at Hot Topic during the late 1990’s vintage Strawberry Shortcake/Care Bears resurgence. Like the larger version, this mini plush reproduction has a curl of hair like the kind found on vinyl dolls of the time. It also has hard plastic eyes and nose as well as the small red heart on its posterior. Wish’s freckles, smiling mouth, and shooting star symbol are all embroidered on the bear. 

Care Bears Books

I also had some Care Bears books. I got to keep two of them. One is a book of bedtime stories and poems “selected” by the characters. The other is in their usual format where a human child has a problem and some of the Care Bears come to help them. In this case, a little girl named Sally is cranky because she’s been having trouble sleeping, so Grumpy Bear and Bedtime Bear come to help her. 

Character Shirt 

I even had a shirt with all the Care Bears and their names on it. Oddly, the super strict principal at my first elementary school in Georgia considered this a dress code violation so I couldn’t wear it at school. No, we didn’t move again. When I was in fourth grade, my county built a new elementary school.

Care Bears Mousepad and Colorforms 

Back in July, around my birthday, I did a search for Care Bears merchandise online. I found a computer mousepad and a really cool Colorforms set. Unfortunately, I took the mousepad to work and forgot to take a picture of it.

The background for the Colorforms is the Care Bears home in the clouds, called Care-a-Lot. All of the original bears are there along with a couple of the newer bears like Share Bear and Champ Bear. It’s fun to move the bears around on the background, but the background isn’t quite large enough to accommodate all of the Care Bears.

Care Bears Stationary 

I prefer the design of the original Care Bears. There was a gentle softness to them, even in the marker strokes on their greeting cards or this stationary pad. I used the pages in this pad to write letters to my grandmother while we were staying in Florida. 

“Happy Honda Days “ Commercial from 2018

Technically this isn’t a merchandise item, but for several years, Honda included iconic toy characters in their holiday commercials. Stretch Armstrong, Strawberry Shortcake, Jem, and G.I. Joe all appeared in ads for Honda vehicles during the holiday season in the 2010’s. 

What appeared to be the final ad in the campaign featured Grumpy Bear pointing out the features of a Honda CR-V. Cheer Bear generally gets in Grumpy’s way throughout the commercial, but there is still affection between the cuddly characters despite Grumpy’s annoyance. 

In our cynical age, characters like Strawberry Shortcake or the Care Bears may seem simplistic. Sometimes simple is just what kids (and some adults) need. In a year where people have had to change how they celebrate special days, some advice from Birthday Bear would come in handy. Who hasn’t felt grumpy or lonely from time to time over the past several months. I know I could use Bedtime Bear’s help for a good night’s sleep and Cheer Bear or Funshine Bear to help me remember how to smile and have fun. 

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About Karen Flieger 17 Articles
I was born in the late 1970’s, spent my childhood in the 1980’s, and my pre-teen and teen years in the 1990’s. I graduated from Kennesaw State University in 2001 with a B.A. in English. I collect various forms of media (books, music, movies, and television shows) as well as plush toys, dolls, and Funko figures.