The Care Bears are a set of characters created by American Greetings in 1981 for use on greeting cards. The original artwork for the cards was painted by artist Elena Kucharik. In 1983, Kenner turned the Care Bears into plush teddy bears.
Each Care Bear comes in a different color and with a specialized insignia on its belly that represents its duty and personality known as their "tummy symbol". The latest movie, however, controversially is going to rename them "belly badges". A spin-off of the family, the "Care Bear Cousins," features a lion, a monkey, a penguin, and other such animals in the same style as the teddy bears.
The Care Bears appeared in their own television series from 1985 to 1988, in addition to three feature films: The Care Bears Movie (1985), Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation (1986), and The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland (1987).
As of 2007, Care Bears are still being marketed. The new toys offer features such as bellies that light up when pressed ,bears that do aerobics, and glow-in-the-dark bears. As part of this comeback, the Bears have appeared in their first two computer-animated movies, Journey to Joke-a-lot (2004) and the Big Wish Movie (2005), with another film, Oopsy Does It!, on the way. The 25th anniversary of the toy line was commemorated in 2007.
The "Care Bears" trademark and the copyrights in the character designs are owned by Those Characters from Cleveland, part of American Greetings.
Following the success of their first big franchise (Strawberry Shortcake) back in 1979, American Greetings introduced the Care Bear characters in late 1981 through a line of greeting cards. Children's book illustrator Elena Kucharik did the original artwork for the cards. The line was a joint development by Those Characters from Cleveland, AGC's licensing division, and MAD (Marketing and Design Service of the toy group of General Mills).
As they had done with Strawberry Shortcake back when it was called "Project I," AGC called the Care Bears franchise "Project II" as they strove to make the character program secret until advertising was ready. At the start of the franchise, Care Bears was already established as its working title.
In 1982, the Care Bears were announced as a toy line for production by Parker Brothers and Kenner the following spring, as well as pre-licensed characters and media stars. In 1983, they were introduced to the general public, and starred in their first television special, "The Land Without Feelings," which Kenner produced and sponsored.
1984 saw the release of another special, "The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine;" a miniseries based on the toys was distributed by Lexington Broadcast Services Company in syndication. A spin-off line, the Care Bear Cousins, was introduced the same year.
In 1985, the Bears and Cousins starred in their first movie, The Care Bears Movie, produced by Nelvana Limited and released by The Samuel Goldwyn Company. It became the highest-grossing animated film made outside the Disney market at the time of its release. Later that autumn, a television series from DiC Entertainment based on the characters was produced, and it ran for 22 episodes in syndication.
The following year, Nelvana took over the animation rights for the franchise with a second movie entitled Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation. Released by Columbia Pictures, the film featured a new villain, Dark Heart, and introduced more of the Care Bear cousins.
Later that fall, The Care Bears Family Storybook (also from Nelvana) premiered on the ABC network, lasting two seasons and consisting of over 70 episodes. The Bears' last theatrically-released film, The Care Bears' Adventure in Wonderland, debuted the following summer.
As with many other animated franchises of the 1980s, the Care Bears movies and TV shows were designed and created only to sell the pre-licensed characters and related merchandise. This has been noticed, more or less, by the franchise's long-time aficionados.
Over 40 million Care Bears were sold between 1983 and 1987, and during the decade, American Greetings printed over 70 million of their cards. In whole, the sales of their merchandise reached over $2 billion during the 1980s. This made them one of the most successful toy lines of its time, alongside "My Little Pony" and "Transformers."
As the decade came to an end, the Bears' popularity faded away. At the start of the 1990s, an attempt to relaunch the phenomenon came in the form of Environmental Care Bears. Only a few select Bears from the 1980s line were used, with some changes (for example, Proud Heart Cat was released as a bear, sporting the symbol of a heart-shaped American flag).
During the late 1990s, another two revivals came out, but both failed to match the success of the original toy line. In 1996, retailer ShopKo released only Tenderheart, Cheer, and Bedtime Bears, and during 1999, in an imitation of Beanie Babies, Kenner made six "beanlings" based on Tenderheart, Share, Friend, Cheer, Bedtime, and Good Luck Bears.
The same year the beanlings were made, Jay Foreman, president of current distributor, Play Along Toys, bought the rights to the Care Bears franchise for just under $1 million. Three years later, the Bears came out of hibernation to celebrate their 20th anniversary. A big event was planned for that year as Play Along began to roll out the new product lines; thus began a major trend as the toys became popular once again.
In the midst of this revival, Play Along released brand-new toys based on the newly-redesigned Bears, sold at stores such as Wal-Mart, KMart, Toys "R" Us, Target, K•B Toys, and Mervyns. The new merchandise included the Bears doing aerobics; Tenderheart Bear as a doctor; Champ Bear as a fireman; and the Care Bears themselves as Cubs. Over 70 million 13-inch plush Bears have been sold since the re-launch. In addition, Lionsgate Home Entertainment and subsidiary FHE Pictures, in association with Nelvana, have made two direct-to-DVD computer-animated films featuring the newest characters, Care Bears: Journey to Joke-a-lot and The Care Bears' Big Wish Movie.
As part of the franchise's 25th anniversary celebrations, the Bears have been redesigned by Kelly Grupczynski. The new line-up—so far consisting of Cheer, Funshine, Grumpy, Share and a new character, Oopsy—debuted on February 12, 2007 at New York's American International Toy Fair. Their brand-new theme song will be performed by former Letters to Cleo member, Kay Hanley, and the music video will premiere on FOX and Nickelodeon. In August 2007, they will appear in 20th century Fox's theatrical and DVD release of Care Bears: Oopsy Does It!. Another television series from DiC Entertainment will be launched on the CBS network the following month.
Grumpy Bear in the Nelvana episode "Home Sweet Homeless".Main articles: List of Care Bears and List of Care Bear Cousins
The franchise consists mainly of the Care Bears themselves, as well as the later additions the Care Bear Cousins. Both of them live in the Kingdom of Caring, which is made up of Care-a-lot (the home of the Care Bears proper) and the Forest of Feelings (home to the Care Bear Cousins). In the most recent variation of the franchise, reported a February 2007 issue of the Wall Street Journal, "they live in a village, centered on a big tree—with no castle in sight."
Accompanying them are the Star and Heart Buddies, who look out for the Bears and Cousins whenever they are on missions in caring; and the Birds, who are usually seen in the Forest of Feelings with the Care Bear Cousins and watch over them. A less recurring character is The Cloud Keeper, the portly gentleman who maintains Care-a-lot. He only appeared in some of the franchise's early publications and on the DiC-produced TV episodes.
The ten original Care Bears consisted of Bedtime Bear, Birthday Bear, Cheer Bear, Friend Bear, Funshine Bear, Good Luck Bear, Grumpy Bear, Love-A-Lot Bear, Tenderheart Bear and Wish Bear. Later on, additional bears joined them, as well as the Cousins.
Throughout movies and series, a variety of villains have occasionally tried to stop the Bears and Cousins on their missions. On the first two specials and DiC television series, they battled against Professor Coldheart; in Nelvana's version, they faced Wizard No Heart, his apprentice Beastly and his niece Shreeky. In the movies, they went up against Nicholas and the Evil Spirit (The Care Bears Movie), Dark Heart (Care Bears Movie II), and The Wizard, Dim, and Dumb (Adventure in Wonderland). More recently, the Bears' adversaries have included the Rat King in Care Bears Nutcracker Suite, and Sir Funnybone the rat in Journey to Joke-a-lot.
Care Bear Stare and Cousin Call
The Care Bears' ultimate "weapon" is the "Care Bear Stare," in which the collected Bears stand together and radiate light from their respective tummy symbols, combining to form a ray of love and good cheer which could bring care and joy into the target's heart. The Care Bear Stare has several different looks. One has a beam coming from the tummy being made up of several replicated images of the symbol. Another variation forms a rainbow when multiple Bears and/or Cousins are involved. A yellow beam with red hearts is sometimes seen as well. Neither of the two latest Care Bear movies (Journey to Joke-A-Lot and The Big Wish Movie) show the Care Bear Stare.
During the movies, the Care Bear Cousins call their weapon the "Cousin Call." In the second movie, the Call looks like a musical score, and the cousins, excluding Swift Heart Rabbit, use whatever animal noises is common to that animal. In the first movie, the Cousins simply make animal noises (which literally is indeed a call) since they do not have any tummy symbols; those are later given to them by the Care Bears at the end of the movie.
Shown prominently in most of the Care Bears movies and TV episodes, the Caring Meter is typically in the dead center of Care-A-Lot inside the Care Bears' main meeting hall. This meter shows how much caring there is both in Care-A-Lot and on Earth. In the latest movie, it is shown with a "raincloud" side and a "rainbow" side (originally it was an unnumbered meter but was said to be on a 0-10 scale). Ideally, the Caring Meter should be all the way towards the rainbow side. Whenever the Bears see the meter drop towards the raincloud side, they try to prevent it from getting worse by going on "caring missions" to try to get more people to care or for the Bears themselves to do caring deeds. If the meter drops near zero, Care-A-Lot will suffer disasters, such as thunderstorms, buildings and rainbows crumbling (earlier movies) or the bright colors of Care-A-Lot gradually turning into black and white (later movies). If the meter were to reach all the way to zero (there is no caring anywhere), then Care-A-Lot would be gone forever.
A gummi bear box with the new Care Bears.Apart from toys, greeting cards and animated media, the Care Bears have been featured in a lot of merchandise as well, some of which includes gummi bears (pictured right), party goods, cell phone covers, interior decoration sets, stickers, clothing accessories and many other goods.
Care Bears Gummi Bears, and Valentine Care Bears Gummi Bears, are a small candies that are shaped like bears, and come in many different colors. On the box, there are Care Bears characters. Otherwise, these are just like regular Gummi bears.
List of Care Bears books
Many children's books have been based on, and have featured, the Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins. Some notable publications include "Meet the Care Bear Cousins" (based on the first movie), "Sweet Dreams for Sally," "The Witch Down the Street," "The Trouble with Timothy," and "A Sister for Sam." All of these titles were published by toy makers Parker Brothers, who was a licensee of the characters. Over 45 million Care Bears books were sold during the 1980s. As of 2006, Scholastic Press has published books based on the Bears' first two CGI films, as well as the new toys.
List of Care Bears albums
At the height of the Care Bears craze, Kid Stuff Records released several LPs based on the franchise. These included "Introducing the Care Bears," "The Care Bears Care for You," "Adventures in Care-a-Lot," "The Care Bears' Birthday Party," and "The Care Bears' Christmas" (all from 1983), and 1986's "Friends Make Everything Better" (released as a promotion with Triaminic). They released the soundtrack albums for the first two movies. The albums based on the toys were bestsellers in children's music during their prime.
In the midst of the franchise's revival, Madacy Kids released brand new Care Bear CDs. In 2004, "Meet the Care Bears," "Care Bears Holiday Hugs," and the "Care Bears: Journey to Joke-a-lot" soundtrack album came out, as well as "Care Bears Nighty-Night" the following year.
In 2001 the first unofficial Care Bear Game was made called Care Bears Volleyball in which 2 players would play a game of volleyball as Tenderheart Bear.
In 2004, the Bears starred in their first PC game, Care-a-lot Jamboree and then again in Let's Have a Ball!. The following year, they appeared in Catch a Star (also for the PC) and Care Bears Care Quest (for the Game Boy Advance).
More recently, the Care Bears have been featured in Care Bears: A Lesson in Caring for the V.Smile educational game console.
Between November 1985 and January 1989, the Care Bears appeared in a 20-issue comic book series published by Marvel's Star Comics. The books were drawn by the famous DC Comics artist, Howard Post.
At present (2007), the classic Care Bear toys can be found at such stores as Carlton Cards, Claire's, and Spencer's Gifts stores.
Care Bears Live
Since 2005, the Care Bears have starred in their own stage show, called "Care Bears Live," organized by VEE Corp. As of 2007, it is still on tour across the United States.
Girls whose names start with a C or K that is pronounced like "care" (for example, Carol, Karen, Carrie) are sometimes nicknamed Care Bear. One notable example is that Cody nicknames Karen "Care Bear" on the sitcom Step by Step. Another example is that Carrie Underwood's fans have been known as "Carrie's Care Bears" since her American Idol days. On the NBC series Heroes, the cheerleader character, Claire Bennet, is called "Claire Bear", by her father, Mr. Bennet.
The term carebear is used to describe players of MMORPG's who never fight other players; only the computer controlled enemies.
Over the years, the Care Bears have been featured in bit parts, or had an influence, in several other films and television series. Cinematic appearances and references include, but are not limited, to, movies such as Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987), the independent South of Wawa (1991). Snow Day (2000), and Blade: Trinity.
"Care bear reppin' in the heart of this here" is a lyric in Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc."
A Care Bear appears in the popular song and Flash animation The Ultimate Showdown by Neil Cicierega and Shawn Vulliez. He uses a Care Bear Stare to defeat Jackie Chan and zombie Abraham Lincoln.
In 2005, "Care Bears" placed 7th among AOL's top ten searches for toys. The following March, they were #88 in VH1's "I Love Toys" countdown.
Most of the characters on "Happy Tree Friends" have heart shaped noses, possibly taken from the Care Bears.
Hat guy from the online webcomic xkcd uses a Multi Spectral care bear stare on another person on being invited to the social networking website, myspace.
Around the world
See the Wiktionary definition on "Care Bears" for a list of titles in other languages.
In French-speaking countries, the Care Bears are referred to as "Bisounours," roughly translating as "kiss bears," from "bisou" (kiss) and "nounours" (teddy bear). However, French-speaking Quebec knows them as "Les Calinours," or "hug bears;" the word "bizoune" is considered vulgar in the local vocabulary and is quebec slang for "penis".
In Germany, the show is called "Die Glücksbärchis," translating to "Luck Bears," the ending "chi" a slight alteration of the German diminutive "chen."
In the Netherlands, the Care Bears are known as "Troetelbeertjes," translated in English as "Cuddle Bears" or "Cuddly Bears." Professor Coldheart is translated in Dutch as "Professor Koudhart," which means literally the same as the name in English.
In Latin America, the Care Bears are referred to as "Los Ositos Cariñositos," from "ositos" (literally "little bears") and "cariño" (a non-romantic love). In Argentina, they are called "Los Ositos Cariñosos." Several different Latin American Spanish dubs of the Care Bears exist, as the movies and the TV series were dubbed in many countries by different cast members throughout the years. The movies were dubbed in Mexico; the first half of the Nelvana series was dubbed in Chile; the second half was dubbed in Venezuela, and a new dubbed version, broadcast on the Latin American version of Cartoon Network's Boomerang channel was later dubbed in Colombia.
In Brazil, (Portuguese) they are known as "Ursinhos Carinhosos," which can be translated to "caring bears" or "loving bears."
In the Swedish dubs of the various series, the Care Bears are called "Krambjörnar" ("hug bears"). For unknown reasons, the villains Dark Heart, Coldheart, and No Heart all got the same name: "Hjärtlös" ("Heartless"), although the 1980's video dub translated Coldheart to "Professor Ishjärta" (Professor Iceheart).
In Norway, the Care Bears have kept their original name for the most part, but some dubs have named them "Bergibjørner," which loosely translates to "Rescue Bears." No Heart is known as "Hjerteløs" ("Heartless"), and Professor Coldheart is called "Professor Hjerterå" ("Cruel-hearted"). In the Norwegian translation of the comics, the villains' names were, for unknown reasons, swapped, making No Heart become "Hjerterå" and Professor Coldheart "Professor Hjerteløs."
The Care Bear characters have been parodied in other animated series. On Nickelodeon's Rugrats, the Dummi Bears spoof heavily on the franchise, especially with their "Sing a Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy Song" theme.
Cartoon Network's Codename: Kids Next Door, has a parody of the Care Bears in the form of the Rainbow Monkeys (who appear in many episodes).
The cartoon Eek the Cat features recurring characters called the Squishy Bears. Like the Care Bears, the Squishy Bears were pastel colors and spread mirth.
In the "Diversity" episode of Wonder Showzen, There's a parody of the Care Bears called, The Boogie Noogie Bunch.
The Giggle Pies, similar to the Bears, appear in The Fairly OddParents episode, "So Totally Spaced Out".
The WereBears, a British toy that mimicked the Care Bears' characteristics, were first made in 1983 and sold by Hornby Toys. They were the brainchild of George Nicholas Creations.
In episode 30 of Cartoon Network's stop motion animated television series Robot Chicken, the Care Bears "ethnically cleanse" the Care Bear Cousins in a parody of Hotel Rwanda. The Cloudkeeper then punishes Care Bear Land, transforming it into the U.S. state of New Jersey. Yet another episode of the same series revolves around a man, Doug, who is reincarnated into a Huggy-time Bear (a spoof on Care Bears) when he's accidentally killed while at an archery range, and the Wheel of Reincarnation fails to land on Keira Knightley's underwear. The Huggy-time Bears' belly insignias include include a "Mom' heart tattoo, a triangular gay pride symbol, and a beer mug with a shamrock imprint. There is also a leather-clad gimp bear whom Doug is handed over to when he shoves Shamrock Bear onto a campfire.
On the Nickelodeon series Danny Phantom, a spoof of the Care Bears appears in the episodes, "The Fright Before Christmas" and "Reality Trip".
On an episode of Family Guy, Meg has a stuffed toy named Sunshine Bear who looks like Funshine Bear
In The Simpsons episode The Fat and the Furriest, Homer encounters a Care Bears parody called Intensive Care Bear who is about to beat up Homer with a crowbar.
In Lemon Demon's "The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny", Jackie Chan and Abraham Lincoln collide in mid-air, land and then get hit with a "Care Bear stare".
Garfield & Friends included a parody named the "Buddy Bears" who never disagreed with each other. Garfield disliked them due to their annoyance.
Connections with Arthurian legend
Some elements of the Care Bears franchise pay homage to the legend of King Arthur. For example, the name of the main characters' residence, Care-a-lot, is a play on King Arthur's legendary Camelot castle. The Care Bear Family sits around a heart-shaped table, similar to the Round Table used by Arthur and his knights. In addition, Sir Lancelot's name inspired that of Love-A-Lot Bear.
When the franchise was introduced in the 1980s, a mistake was made causing Bedtime Bear (blue) and Wish Bear (aqua) to swap colors. As soon as the mistake was discovered, the two bears returned into their appropriate hues, and later on a children's story was written explaining why.