The History of the Care Bears

Care Bears have such a warm place in our hearts, but have you ever wondered where it all began? Here we give you a potted history of the Care Bears. Perhaps you can spot the place in their history when your own passion for Care Bears began.

Early Days

The ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ character and her cat Custard was the starting place of the Care Bears. They proved so popular that in 1981, creators American Greetings started to add teddy-like bears to their greeting cards. Thus the Care Bears were born. The following year the original characters appeared for the first time as toys, released by Parker Brothers before making their screen debut in a brightly coloured ad lively TV special called The Land Without Feelings. The loveable bears quickly gained popularity, and the next Care Bears special, The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine was released in 1984.

Care Bears Go To Hollywood

As the popularity of the toys grew, a TV mini-series was produced and The Care Bear Cousins also arrived. They made their movie debut in The Care Bears Movie (1985). The film was a box-office.  The characters became household names in families with young children. Following the success of the movie a 22-episode TV series was created and a second film, Care Bears II: A New Generation (1986), was produced. After the second movie premiered, Nelvana created a 70-episode TV series called The Care Bears Family Storybook, for ABC that lasted two seasons. The next year featured the Care Bears’ third and final film, Adventure in Wonderland (1987).

View The Care Bears Movie Trailer Below


Can you believe that over 40 million Care Bears were sold between 1983 and 1987, and American Greetings printed over 70 million of their cards during the decade? In all, the sales of Care Bear merchandise reached over $2 billion during the 1980s. Characters from Cleveland and Kenner re-launched the franchise in 1991, involving seven bears and one of the Care Bear Cousins, Proud Heart Cat, was released as a bear. To coincide with the re-launch, Random House published two books: The Care Bears and the Big Cleanup and The Care Bears and the Whale Tale.

Despite its enormous initial success, Jay Foreman of ‘Play Along Toys’ bought the rights to the Care Bears franchise for less than $1 million in 1999.

Care Bears Re-Launched

Three years later, American Greetings re-launched the Care Bear brand as part of the Bears’ 20th anniversary celebration with a series of plush toys and new films. The artwork and design of the bears were changed for the re-launch and many other minor changes were made to the designs, mostly involving brightening up the colours of the bears and minor redesigns to the tummy symbols.
During the revival, Play Along released brand new toys based on the newly redesigned Care Bears with over 70 million of the 13-inch (330 mm) plush Bears sold since the re-launch. New versions of the various cousins were produced (with Proud Heart being changed back into a cat).

2007 saw another relaunch, first with a series of dolls, then a new movie Care Bears: Oopsy Does It! and a new TV series, Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-lot. The animation and artwork was completely different from the originals, giving the Care Bears smaller bodies and redesigned tummy symbols, which are now called belly badges.

25th Anniversary Redesign

The Bears were redesigned again by the American Greetings Properties illustration team as part of the 25th anniversary of the franchise. The line consists of fifteen of the thirty-nine bears seen in Care Bears: Oopsy Does It! Just five bears were chosen to be the focus of the franchise: Funshine Bear, Share Bear, Oopsy Bear, Cheer Bear and Grumpy Bear. Again, they achieved huge popularity with fans.

Care Power Team

In late 2009, American Greetings announced a further ‘re-imagining’ of the Bears with the launch of a new series, Care Power Team. The new look harked back to the Adventures in Care-a-lot designs, with the Care Bears sporting enhanced belly badges and taking on emergencies. Three new films quickly followed  – Care Bears: Share Bear Shines, Care Bears: The Giving Festival and finally Care Bears: To the Rescue. In June 2012, the card company premiered the franchise’s first CGI TV – Care Bears: Welcome To Care-A-Lot.
The new line of toys is much more inspired by their original 1980s appearance, but features a much wider variety. An interactive web site where children and collectors can visit to learn more about their favourite characters has been created to keep the franchise fresh for the 21st century. New additions to the Care Bear family are being created every day, but Ebay is by far the most popular choice for those who are seeking to recapture the toys of their youth from the 1980s.

About Lianne Fisher

Lianne owns Ready Teddy Go which offers it's own brand of Personalised Teddy Bears. This isn't her first business, she is also the owner of Online Gifts and Gadgets website All Things Gifts. She loves teddy bears and has a collection of over 1000 Disney Winnie the Pooh Beanies which is where her idea of starting All Things Gifts came from and from the knowledge she's gained from running this business she then setup Ready Teddy Go.
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