Famous Bears: The Berenstain Bears

Famous Bears: The Berenstain Bears December 14, 2023

Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear. These simplistic names became synonymous with children’s literature back in the 1960’s when Stanley and Janice Berenstain wrote their first book featuring three bears. Bears were easy to draw and since they were both artists wanting to get into the children’s book market, they figured they’d start with a bear family and see where it took them. Dr. Seuss who at the time was working for a publishing company when their first book crossed his desk coined the name The Berenstain Bears and a new book series was born. Instead of being billed as Stanley and Janice, he changed that up too, giving them the shared moniker of Stan and Jan Berenstain. It’s catchy, it’s cute and it’s something that everyone came to know. After their first book took off they wrote more and more until they had over 300 titles to their credit. All featured the bears and all have a moral or safety lesson attached.

The series of books have been criticized for being too formulaic, but kids love them and have done for generations. Each story starts with bumbling Papa Bear messing up in the advice department or giving more fear than necessary to his cubs. It is always Mama Bear who is the voice of reason, the one who makes everything alright and the one who saves the day. Likewise, it is always the cubs (and ultimately Papa Bear) that learn the lesson of the day.

The Berenstain Bears live in a tree house down a sunny dirt road. They are grizzly bears, and they wear clothes although they don’t own shoes and of course they can talk. The kids go to school, they have friends and Papa works while Mama stays home taking care of the house and cubs. The series has also been criticized for adhering to old gender roles and not keeping up with the times, but they are cartoon bears, and their target audience loves them. They became so popular that they have spawned not one but two television series so their stories can come to life in each episode.

It just goes to show that you don’t have to be popular with everyone, but as long as you are keeping your niche market happy you are doing a great job. Whether you need a custom plush for a book accompaniment, or for marketing, just a little bit of imagination can go a long way.

Famous Mascots: Fred the Red

Famous Mascots: Fred the Red November 16, 2023

When it comes to mascots, most of the ones that come to mind right off the bat are those associated with North American sports teams or North American products. Think McDonald’s, M&M’s, the Philly Phanatic, the Energizer Bunny, the Kool Aid Man; the list goes on and on. These are all easily recognizable characters that clue people in right away to what they are selling or promoting.

England’s premier soccer teams (and some not so premier) also have mascots, although they are not as widely known on this side of the Atlantic. The one that comes to mind most easily, and the one who has won Best Mascot for football clubs a few times since his reign began is Fred the Red, and he supports the popular Manchester United Football Club.

Manchester United, for those who don’t know wear red as a primary colour in their uniforms, or kit as they say in Britain. They also go by the nickname The Red Devils, so Fred the Red, obviously is a red devil of sorts, though he’s not as scary as you may presume given his name and colour, he’s actually quite appealing and somewhat fluffy to boot.

Fred the Red wears a red (what else?) Manchester United jersey with the number 55 on the back. He has a shiny red face with plush red hair, arms and legs and his main task is to dance for the rabid football fans before the games, or matches as they are called across the pond.

Like with North American mascots, Fred the Red has his likeness on everything from keychains to plush likenesses, lunch boxes, books, T shirts, posters and much, much more and he is a key marketing tool for the club.

It just takes a photo of a mascot or a drawing of what a mascot should look like for your team or club to get the ball rolling on some marketing opportunities of your own. Imagine going to your next event armed with boxes full of mascots ready to be handed out as giveaways or sold to make some money for your cause. Mascots can be anything your heart desires, any colour, any size and with any accessory you can think of, just start with a picture and let the friendly folks at Custom Plush Innovations do the rest!

Famous Mascots: Paws the Tiger

Famous Mascots: Paws the Tiger October 14, 2023

Why the Detroit Tigers are called the Tigers is open to a lot of speculation. It could have been that back in the day they wore orange striped socks with their uniforms, or it could be a tribute to a group of cavalrymen from the Detroit area who valiantly fought like tigers during the Civil War. Whatever the story behind the name, the Tigers have been playing baseball in Detroit for decades and what any great team needs is a friendly mascot to help rally the fans. Enter Paws, the cuddly and cute tiger that graces Comerica Park at each home game.

Paws is, of course a tiger complete with his orange fur and black stripes. He stands upright, doesn’t use his claws (!) and of course wears the famous Old English D on his hat and sports a Tiger’s jersey with his number 00 emblazoned on the back.

Paw’s stats, taken from the official Tigers website state that he stands 20 stripes tall, he lives at Comerica Park (where else?) and he both bats and throws using his right paw. He doesn’t have a favourite Tiger, as he loves them all equally and he was born back on May 5, 1995.

Today Paws can be seen at each Tigers home game greeting the fans signing autographs and leading the cheering section. He isn’t hard to spot, of course as he is a big fluffy tiger dressed in clothes, and he has a fan following all his own. He also does community events, visits schools and malls and can even be rented out should a fan want him to visit their wedding, birthday party or other special occasion.

Paws merchandise is also available, with his likeness on mugs, lunch boxes, T shirts and much more, there are also plenty of plush Paws’ available so his fans always have a little piece of him close to their hearts.

So if you have a mascot that you want to promote, why not have Custom Plush Innovations make a plush replica of him or her for merchandising purposes? They make great giveaways and prizes and of course are great items to generate some money for your club or team. All it takes is a photo or a sketch to get you started and then the creative team will guide you through the process until you are looking at a replica of your mascot, loveable, tactile and right there in your hand. What are you waiting for?

Famous Mascots: Ronald McDonald

Famous Mascots: Ronald McDonald September 16, 2023

Perhaps the best known mascot of all time is McDonald’s Ronald McDonald, that clown that is as synonymous with the fast food chain as the Big Mac is. He is an instant link to the restaurant that has served billions across the world and his likeness can be found in comics, in books and in animated series’ alike. He is someone that 98% of children know and can recognize with just a glance and is the brand ambassador, with the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities and Ronald McDonald Houses around the world bearing his name.

Ronald McDonald is all yellow, white and red. He has red hair and a red and white striped shirt under a yellow jumpsuit and large red clown shoes. Typical clown makeup completes the look and although he’s been around since the 1960’s he has gone through a few changes over time. Many may not know this, but Willard Scott was the first person to play Ronald McDonald and he has even gone as far as to claim it was he who invented the character in the first place. Over the years, the Ronald we know today has evolved and there are many different people who play him in appearances, all trained so that the mannerisms are the same across the board.

In a world where so many people are afraid of clowns it is amazing that he is still such a successful brand ambassador, but that he is. When you are as popular among kids as Santa Claus it seems you can do anything!

Do you have a mascot to promote your restaurant or team? Maybe you need some custom plush likenesses to use as a handout or a promotional tool or maybe you just want to sell those plush mascots to patrons. Whatever the case, Custom Plush Innovations can help you with all aspects of creating a custom plush mascot. They will guide you through choosing the right materials and help you with accessories, colours and sizes. All you need is a photo or two of your mascot or, if he or she doesn’t exist yet, a sketch of what you want and then your journey can begin.

What are you waiting for? Your mascot may just become as big as Ronald McDonald one day  but you have to start somewhere!

Famous Bears: Paddington

Famous Bears: Paddington July 15, 2023

Who has a red hat, a blue duffle coat and a battered old suitcase that is full of his favourite breakfast food, marmalade? Why, it’s Paddington bear of course and he, like so many other famous bears got his start in children’s books. He hails from ‘deepest, darkest Peru’ and is found by the Brown family at Paddington Station in London England when they are there to pick up their children from a train.

Paddington was the brainchild of Michael Bond who saw a lone teddy bear in a shop near Paddington station on Christmas Eve. He bought the bear for his wife for Christmas and it prompted him to come up with all sorts of adventures which he later turned into the classic children’s books we have come to love. His first adventure was published in 1958 so Paddington is nearing sixty years old, but he is still a charming addition to many a children’s library.

Paddington Brown is very polite. He addresses people by Mr. and Mrs. and doesn’t like to use their first names. He is an orphan bear from Peru who seems to always get into trouble and scrapes, although unwittingly so. He gets along well with his family and their housekeeper, Mrs. Bird but his nemesis is the man next door. Things of course always work out in the end and the Paddington series of books have been translated into thirty languages and sold over thirty million copies.

Paddington has also appeared on television and feature films, always portrayed as the kind-hearted, marmalade loving spectacle bear that we have grown up with.

We don’t often see Paddington without his trademark coat and hat and he always seems to be with that suitcase, complete with a secret compartment, of course and always with a stash of marmalade. He was originally illustrated by Peggy Fortnum and has changed throughout the years especially in the 2007 motion picture. His likeness can be found on many items but especially stuffed bears wearing that coat and hat—and don’t forget the wellington boots!

Paddington was once just a figment of an imagination but he grew into something that is beloved the world over, that little orphan bear that can’t help but get into trouble but always makes it right in the end

Famous Bears: Winnie the Pooh

Famous Bears: Winnie the Pooh June 15, 2023

We all know Winnie the Pooh, that lovable yellow bear in the red shirt that has an affinity for ‘hunny’ and for getting into scrapes along with his band of friends. He, along with Tigger, Owl, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and of course Christopher Robin have many adventures that were first documented in books and later in movies and television shows.

It all started back in 1926 when author A.A. Milne wrote a story about Winnie-the-Pooh, his son’s stuffed bear. The bear got the name Winnie after a Canadian black bear that he liked to visit at the London Zoo and a swan he named Pooh that he had spotted while on holiday. Winnie herself was named after Winnipeg for a truly Canadian piece to the story. Christopher Robin Milne also had other stuffed animals that ended up in the books, namely Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo. Owl came about from the senior Milne’s imagination and it wasn’t until Disney got the rights to Winnie the Pooh that other characters were added.

Several books later, all illustrated by E.H Shepard and today Winnie the Pooh or just Pooh as he is also known is still as popular as ever. Although he was always drawn with a shirt, the illustrations in the first set of books was in black and white. It wasn’t until 1932 that Pooh was drawn and coloured wearing his iconic red shirt.

Winnie the Pooh is a big ole bear that is friendly, thoughtful and not so bright. He has been called slow witted and naïve but he is also gentle and loving to his friends. He is a thinker and a poet and has come up with many sayings that people have taken to heart as the philosophy of Pooh. “Life’s a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved” and “As soon as I saw you I knew an adventure was going to happen” are just two of the many that swirl around the internet today.

Today’s marketing allow us all things Pooh. He appears on lunchboxes, crib sets, wall décor, clocks, books, puzzles and a multitude of other things and of course there are also the plush likenesses of him and his friends that come in all sizes imaginable. We not only have the Pooh we have come to regard in this generation, thanks to Disney, but we also have Classic Pooh which is a nod to how he first appeared all those years ago when he was simply a teddy bear owned by a boy who went on fine adventures…

Famous Bears: Yogi

Famous Bears: Yogi May 15, 2023

You know Yogi bear, that brown guy with the green tie and cute little hat that goes around with a little bear cub named Boo Boo and tries to steal any ‘pic-a-nic’ basket he can get his hands on. Yes, that Yogi Bear not to be confused with the famous baseball player, Yogi Berra with the very similar name.

Yogi has been with us since 1958 when he first debuted on The Huckleberry Hound Show which was a popular cartoon at the time. Turns out he was far more popular than Huckleberry Hound so by January of 1961 he had his very own show. Yogi was the first major breakout character that was created by the creative team of Hanna-Barbera, the folks who later brought us things like The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Tom and Jerry. He was based on actor Art Carney’s portrayal of Ed Norton in The Honeymooners with both his inflection and gestures incorporated into the character of Yogi.

Yogi was an interesting character because he always spoke in rhyme and had a deep voice with a slow delivery that may suggest he wasn’t the brightest light in the box. He did however have friends like Boo Boo, an orphaned bear that he took under his wing and a girlfriend named Cindy who would help him on his adventures and of course, misadventures alike.

Yogi Bear went on to star in many comic books strips, cartoons, animated television shows and also made it to the silver screen. There are Yogi Bear lunch boxes, pillows, stuffies, stickers—you name it, and of course he is also featured in many books for kids as well.

Now you may be wondering just why a bear who hangs out in Jellystone Park and steals picnic baskets for fun would need a tie and a collar when he’s not wearing anything else but a hat. Well, that’s to cut down on the number of drawings the animator would have to do to create each cartoon. If he had a collar his body could remain static and be used repeatedly, cutting down the amount of work needed to finish each episode of the show.

So Yogi is now stuck in the collective conscience of cartoon fans from coast to coast. Is your next custom plush going to get as lucky as Yogi who is, after all, ‘smarter than the average bear’? Only time will tell.

Famous Bears: Smokey the Bear

Famous Bears: Smokey the Bear April 15, 2023

We have all seen the devastation that wildfires leave in their wake and footage of the thousands of firefighters that are out trying to fight them. That is today, but back in the era of World War II, able bodied men were out fighting in Europe, which didn’t leave many at home to take on firefighter roles. This is when the United States government knew they had to step in and do something. That something was Smokey Bear. He was first created in 1944 and today the campaign to stop fires before they start is one of the most powerful public service campaigns of all time. Everyone knows who Smokey Bear is and everyone knows his message that “only YOU can prevent forest fires!”

The living symbol of the campaign to stop fires from happening in the first place was a black bear cub that had climbed a tree to flee the Capitan Gap fire in New Mexico in 1950. He was rescued and later found a home at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. He became so popular that he received 13,000 pieces of mail each week from his fans. He lived at the zoo until he died and his ashes are now buried in Smokey Bear Historical Park in New Mexico where his story began.

Smokey the Bear the animated symbol to stop forest fires was a part of the 1950’s popular culture as he was on the radio, in comic books and featured in cartoons. In 1955 the first kids’ book featuring Smokey hit the market following the 1952 release of a Smokey the Bear doll in his likeness.

In 1984 the United States Post Office issued a stamp featuring Smokey to commemorate his 40th anniversary as an icon and now Smokey Bear Days is an annual event in Capitan New Mexico. The first weekend in May each year is full of chainsaw carving contests, music contests, food, vendors, a parade and a firefighter’s muster competition all with the message that fires don’t need to happen.

Smokey’s brazen message was altered somewhat in 2001 and now reads “Only you can stop wildfires” in a push to make the public realize that grasses and places that aren’t technically classified as forests can also catch fire and wreak havoc on the environment too.

Smokey the Bear is a symbol that has changed a little bit since his first inception in the 1940’s but he has stood the test of time. Will your custom plush do the same?

What are you waiting for?

Famous Bears: Rupert

Famous Bears: Rupert December 15, 2022

Rupert Bear may not be one of the first famous bears that spring to mind, especially not to those of us who grew up in North America, but he is as famous as they come in Britain and has been since the 1920’s when he first appeared. Rupert started out as a comic strip in the Daily Express newspaper back in 1920 and it is still published daily in the same paper, although with different illustrators over the years who have taken to drawing the cute little guy.

Rupert is a white bear who wears yellow checkered pants and scarf and a bright red sweater while he goes on his adventures. He lives with his parents in a house in Nutwood which is reminiscent of a small English village and has many friends, all of them animals too who accompany him on these adventures. Bill Badger, Edward Trunk, Podgy Pig, Ferdy Fox and Ming the dragon are just some of Rupert’s nearest and dearest friends and of course there are also some human characters thrown into the comic strip and books for good measure, most notably the Professor and Tiger Lily.

Today, Rupert can be found in many books, television shows and movies. Each day the comic runs in the paper and there are Rupert Annuals (books featuring stories, activities and fun things to do based on a certain character) each year that are available too. He also has a devout following of fans that love everything about the sweet white bear in the fancy yellow pants.

Like most characters, Rupert’s stories are true to life for many young fans, yes, he gets into trouble with his friends but his parents are always there to reassure him that things will be all right. It is okay to have adventures and it is okay to not always know the right thing to do in a situation, and that is all a part of growing up. Children flock to Rupert because of his reassuring ways and childlike quality that is always wanting to find something new and exciting to explore.

Will your next custom plush be a hit like Rupert Bear? Whether you are creating something to accompany a book or comic strip or creating something special for a giveaway, Custom Plush Innovations is there to help you from concept to product. Give them a call for an instant quote today…what are you waiting for?

The World’s Oldest Teddy Bear

The World’s Oldest Teddy Bear August 15, 2022

Teddy bears have come a long way from the first renditions that looked like and in fact were modelled after real bears to the plush and cuddly ones that we know and love today. While they have changed in size, shape, plush-ness and personality, the first teddy bears have a certain charm and most certainly a history that make them something collectors all over the world clamour for.

The world’s oldest teddy bear was first introduced back in 1904. His name is Albert and he is a classic PB Rod Bear. The P stands for plush and the B for beweglich, a German word meaning movable. The rod part in the name is because Albert is fashioned from metal rods that hold him together. This, along with the fact that he is stuffed very strongly with kapok and woodwool made him much less cuddly than bears that came after and also very heavy, not a good combination when you are marketing to children.

Albert was made in gold mohair plush and has a unique head seam that runs across his head from ear to ear. The head was stuffed from the top, the seam being hand sewn afterwards. His nose is made from sealing wax and his eyes are boot buttons. He has five claws on his paws and his feet which is a characteristic of the PB Rod bear series, and his arms are curved and long so he can stand on all fours, sit down and even stand up. He is posable thanks to the rods, but this design was only used for a few years before better jointing techniques were invented. Albert is a fair size, being 11” when sitting and 16” at full length and although today he is quite threadbare he has a sweet little face and old world charm.

Of course, teddy bears today go through a much more rigorous safety process than those manufactured at the beginning of the century. We wouldn’t dream of giving a bear like Albert to a baby or young child today, and not just because he is old and worth a lot of money. Techniques today have created better fabrics, more cuddly bears and bears that come in all shapes and sizes, all with standards in place so the consumer knows they are made with safety in mind. But, a bear like Albert is a great collector item as well as being a wonderful conversation piece, as he is the world’s oldest known teddy bear and is a testament to how far the business of stuffed animals has come.