Famous Toys

  • These Fictional Bears Warmed Our Hearts and Our Childhoods

    At The Zoo Factory, we like to say that we’re in the business of making memories. Each of us remembers when we were young and had a stuffed animal that was our best friend. That’s what we look to recreate for children, and hope that they, too, will feel as special as we did.

    Many famous fictional bears were a crucial part of our childhood, establishing our love for teddy bears for years to come.

    Winnie the Pooh

    Why do we continue to love Winnie the Pooh so much? Maybe it’s his boyish charm, or his innate ability to love his friends (Christopher Robin, Piglet, even Eeyore) no matter what. Or maybe it’s the chance that he’ll likely fall into a jar of honey at least once while you’re watching. Since he premiered in the 1920s, Winnie the Pooh has captivated young audiences. And for good reason. In fact, a movie titled “Christopher Robin” was just released in theaters highlighting Winne the Pooh and his friends in 2018.

    Paddington Bear

    We recently found out that one day, a man named Michael Bond took shelter from the snow, and laid his eyes on a teddy bear at a store nearby Paddington Station, in London. He purchased the bear for his wife and was then inspired to write his first book featuring the character, Paddington Bear, a duffel-coat-wearing teddy who migrates from Peru to London to start a new life. He also loves marmalade sandwiches. The books written about this beloved bear eventually sold over 30 million copies.

    Yogi

    Ayyyy, Boo-Boo! A Warner Bros. classic, we had to give a mention to Yogi the Bear, who, along with his sidekick Boo-Boo, are on the hunt for picnic baskets, and fun. Yogi first appeared in 1958 on a show titled “The Huckleberry Hound Show” and his success spiraled from there. He was known to be “smarter than the average bear.”

    These are just some of the fictional bears that we’ll remember forever, many of which continue to create new audiences with feature films, cartoons, and books alike.

    At The Zoo Factory, we’re proud to offer an extensive selection of make-your-own stuffed animals. With dozens of fun, soft animals to choose from, your child can pick out his or her new favorite friend and toy.

  • The History of Raikes Bears

    If you’re a fan of teddy bears and their rich history, you’ve probably heard of the Raikes Bear. This is one of the most historical teddy bears of all times, especially known for the unique features it possesses.

    Raikes Bears are well-known for their carved, wooden faces. While they were extremely popular many years ago, they are now pretty hard to come by.

    Robert Raikes who was the creator of the Raikes Bear was well-traveled according to ThoughtCo. Raikes was born in California and lived all over the United States. He also lived in England, and after joining the military, lived in various parts of Southeast Asia.

    Raikes had a passion for carving, which resulted in the famous Raikes Bear. His earliest carvings consisted of wooden sculptures that ranged from furniture to carousel horses. In the 1970s, Raikes was asked to produce dolls. As a result, the first version of the Raikes Bears, which had a carved wooden face and cloth bodies filled with sawdust, hit the market.

    In the next few years, Raikes perfected his aesthetic and his teddy bears started to become very popular. In the 1980s, Raikes created the first Raikes Bear that most people are familiar with now.

    After selling the bears for several years, Raikes sold the licensing rights to a company called Applause. After a couple of successful years, Raikes reclaimed the rights to the unique bears, hoping to perfect them and bring a limited number to the market. With that, their value increased immensely because only a few bears were available at one time and they were being crafted by Raikes himself.

    Raikes Bears are now available in second hand shops and specialty gift stores, but they certainly come at cost. If you have one of the originals, it could now be worth hundreds.

    The Zoo Factory has dozens of fun, soft animals to choose from, your child can pick out his or her new favorite friend and toy.

  • Highlighting Antique Teddy Bears

    Here at The Zoo Factory, we love teddy bears. We also love learning and reading about rare, antique teddy bears. We recently found an article distributed by Highlighting Antique Teddy BearsAntique Trader highlighting some incredible vintage teddy bears. These bears have contributed to the history of the teddy bear brand and paved the way for teddy bears as we know them today.

    Antique Trader explained that teddy bears likely originated well before President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, although many people believe they were invented because of him.

    However, there is information that could support the existence of teddy bears as early as the 1800’s.

    Rod Bear

    Steiff (located in Germany) is often credited with creating the first ever teddy bear in 1902. The oldest Steiff bear, which can only be found today in museums and private collections, was known as the “Rod Bear.” The rod had internal iron rods that held the stuffing in place. Some of these special bears also had a button inside of their ear that had an elephant symbol on it. These bears now sell for $10,000 to $30,000 today.

    “Doll” Size Bears

    In 1907, Steiff sold about one million teddy bears on the Atlantic City boardwalk. The company created a smaller version of the “Rod Bear” that was 10 inches long. The bear was intended for little boys that had sisters who loved to play with dolls. The bear allowed boys to play with their sisters using small teddy bears instead of dolls. This bear, along with its concept, became extremely popular. They now sell today for about $500 per inch so the bigger the bear, the bigger the price tag.

    Talking Bear

    In 1912, Heinrich Mueller started his own business. He had previously worked at a toy company before deciding to branch out on his own. In 1920, he introduced the first “talking” bear. His “Schuco Yes-No” teddy bear had a mechanism that shook the bear’s head up or down. By tugging the bear’s tail, the person holding the bear could make him say “”yes” or say “no.” This bear was especially popular in schools, and librarians loved to use them in order to tell stories.

    If you’re inspired to start building your own collection of priceless teddy bears, visit The Zoo Factory today.

  • Awesome Stuffed Animals From the 80s

    80s toysSome may not choose to admit it, but most of us had a favorite stuffed animal when we were young. We slept with it, played with it, and never wanted to part from it. Stuffed animals were a huge part of children’s lives, especially for those of us who grew up in the 80’s. Many have kept their favorite fluffy babies through adulthood, or passed them on to their kids. It would be so much fun to find some of those popular stuffed animals from our childhood, and give them as gifts to our children. They could bring back some really fun memories, or they could make us happy that we’re all grown up….you decide.

    Who Are The Furskins?

     

    The Furskins were some of our favorites, at the top of the most popular stuffed toys list. The Furskins were a great combo of a country bear and a stuffable animal; which are so popular for today’s kids. It would be awesome for our kids to see what came before stuffable animals. We may not have had the luxury of customizing a Furskin, but we loved them just as they came out of the box; with its removable hat and rubber boots.

     

    Remember That Loveable Alien Alf?

     

    O.M.G!., that’s what kids would say today, if they were around when Alf came on the scene. Alf was our loveable alien stuffed animal. He was unlike any other stuffed animal. He wasn’t a bear, a dog, a bunny, or a lion; he was Alf. He came from another planet. How cool was that? He even came with his own hit tv series. Oh yes, and Alf was from Melmac; one of the greatest planets in the solar system. (wink, wink)

     

    Pound Puppies, In Some Ways…. Better Than A Real Dog?

     

    The Pound Puppies were so adorable; with their slumpy faces, and their huge droopy eyes. They made you want to cuddle with them and take care of them forever. The Pound Puppies were hugely popular in the 80’s. They came with their own registration papers, I.D. tags, and collars. Tonka’s Pound Puppies entered the stuffed animal scene right after the rage of the Cabbage Patch dolls, and were marketed to both girls and boys.

     

    Whichever nostalgic stuffed animal you choose as your favorite, it’s fun to bring these favorites from yesteryear into today. The internet and online stores and auctions, offer us the opportunity to revisit our childhood memories and to share these memories with our children.

     

    They can enjoy the wonderful stuffed animals of today, along with Alf and the Pound Puppies, we all remember so fondly from yesterday.

     

    And if you don’t have kids, you can revisit the memories of your favorite stuffed animals for yourself...shhhh, we won’t tell anyone.

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  • History & Interesting Facts about the Teddy Bear

    Teddy's Bear

    teddy bear stuffed animal birthda giftMorris Michtom might not have foreseen his invention of stuffed bears becoming a staple for our childhood, but he knew this was a great idea. Placing two bears in his store window, his toy store quickly hosted a plethora of interested customers. Mitchtom requested permission from Theodore Roosevelt to call the bears "Teddy's bears", as "Teddy" was Roosevelt's nickname. It's rumored that Michtom wanted to remind people of Roosevelt's compassion, specifically the day he decided shooting an unconscious bear (tied to a tree) was unsportsman like; he put the bear out of misery peacefully. This act gained a lot of love and respect from Americans. Now, any story that starts like that is one worth telling.

    The first teddy bear went on sale in 1903, but there's so much more to this companion than dates and facts. The teddy bear becomes special when we add our own personal experiences in with its own rich history. As the first of two Teddy Bears resides at the National Museum of American History, encourage your child to keep his or her teddy when done with it, and explain why. It may already be family tradition to pass down a Teddy, but if not, you can start now. Whatever bear style you choose, just remember to love it, and the rest will come naturally. When you pass it on to children and grandchildren, their friendship with it will fill you with an amount of love you didn't even know existed. One of the best parts of becoming a parent is sharing with your kids, the things you loved as a child.

    Interesting Teddy Bear Facts

    • The first time bears appeared in the literal sense was in the 1834 tale "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" by Robert Southey.
    • Bear toys existed, though not in stuffed form, and were called Bruins.
    • In 1924, Disney's Alice and the Three Bears was the first color-animated film about teddy bears!
    • Wendy Boston changed lives in 1954, when she invented a washable teddy bear! Go Wendy! We bet you would have loved Teddy needs a Bath!

     

     

     

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  • Three Famous Teddy Bears that Melted our Hearts

    Teddy bears bring magic and joy to a child's life, which is why they're so timeless and so priceless. The arts have used teddy bears to help tell convey childhood and immaturity in movies, TV, and books. Teddy bears can also help send a happy, positive message.

    Lancelot – Labyrinth 1986, starving David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly, told the story of a young girl venturing into womanhood. In the beginning of the movie Sarah (Jennifer) has childish toys, and she believes in fantasy, and magic, giving into a childish need to escape. She was infuriated with her baby brother Toby, who stole Lancelot, her favorite teddy bear. So she unreasonably freaked out and wished him away. The bear symbolizes her immaturity, while the journey to return home represents a journey into adulthood. Subsequently, she learns to let go of the bear and learn her mistake. By the end, she relinquishes her bear to Toby, because she realizes she no longer needs it.

     

     

    Winnie the Pooh – Pooh bear made his first appearance in 1926, in a collection of stories by A.A.  Milne. Eventually, Disney adopted the series, adding new characters and turning it into a phenomenon. Stuffed animals in the style of E.H. Shepard's version of Pooh have become popular over the years. Winnie the Pooh sends a strong message of love and family, as all of the characters, including Christopher Robin, are important to the author in real life.

     

    Corduroy – Corduroy bear is the story of a stuffed teddy bear in a department store. After closing time, he'd search to find his button, and find a home. A little girl purchased Corduroy and repaired his button. Eventually he learned that with the little girl, he had a home, and a true friend.

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