Black Teddy

Black Teddy

Plush Teddy Bears and Characters Represented by The Teddy Bear by Angeline Hope

What can one say about plush teddy bears that hasn't already been said? Everyone knows they are the most popular soft toy ever created. We also know that it's been loved by both children and adults for more than 100 years. And, we are also well aware that plush teddy bears are much more than just a soft toy but companions that share in every aspect of our lives.

Tie-ins to the toy industry became a matter of importance in the 1950s and as a result, one of the British teddy bear manufacturers †Merrythought - realized the future significance it was going to have. As was the case, in the mid '50s, it started making soft toys representing characters found in the British cartoon Robin, which included a bear. One of these small teddies, which was dressed in a red felt jacket and was known as Mr. Whoppit, went on to become the mascot of the British car and speedboat enthusiast Donald Campbell. In a series of vehicles called Bluebird, Campbell with Mr. Whoppit along for the ride, broke a number of water and land speed records.

The Chad Valley toy company was also very keen on linking its products with stars from radio and television. In 1952, they bought the rights to produce Sooty glove puppets, named after a little bear that was on the verge of becoming very famous in Britain. Amateur magician, Harry Corbett, bought a teddy bear glove puppet in 1948 so as to amuse his children while they were on holiday in Blackpool, England. The puppet, which they named Teddy, went on to become part of Harry's magic act. In 1952, the success on a television show called Talent Night (produced by the BBC), led to regular appearances on the children's show Saturday Special. Teddy was given a makeover at this point †his nose and ears were made black and his name was changed to Sooty. In 1955, he was given his own show called The Sooty Show.

Chad Valley followed up its success with Sooty, by producing Toffee in 1953. He was the Teddy with a Personality whose adventures were featured on the BBC radio program called Listen with Mother.
In 1956, on Christmas Eve, a BBC cameraman by the name of Micheal Bond was shopping in a London department store for a present for his wife. He recalls â€on one of the shelves, I came across a small bear looking, I thought, very sorry for himself as he was the only one that hadn't been sold. I bought him, and because we were living near Paddington Station at the time, we christened him Paddington.†A few days later, while sitting at his typewriter trying to find inspiration for a story he was trying to write, Bond noticed the bear which inspired him to write the opening lines of a A Bear Called Paddington. Once the book was published - about a scruffy bear wearing Wellington boots and a duffle-coat - it was an instant success. The story has gone on to be translated into thirty foreign languages, and been followed by another 10 novels, two collections of short stories, numerous picture books, animated series', and finally, soft toys. After Winnie the Pooh, today, Paddington is probably the second most famous bear in the world.

As it turns out, there is lots more to say about plush teddy bears †much more, in fact. There is so much history surrounding these lovable creatures that sometimes it can be overwhelming to take it all in. But, none of that changes that fact that plush teddy bears are forever cemented in history as valuable items that continue to dominate the soft-toy market.

Angeline Hope is a collector of plush teddy bears. You can view a selection of plush teddy bears including giant teddy bears at MyBigPlush.

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