Help me find a teddy bear clone
September 13, 2014 4:03 AM   Subscribe

So, approximately 31 and a half years ago, my lovely uncle presented me with an adorable little teddy bear. Picture of said bear. I'm trying to find out where this bear would've come from (probably the UK), and if there are similar bears available anywhere?

My cousin has just had an adorable little baby, and I think it was be nice to give her little girl a similar bear to the one her granddad gave to me many years ago. This little guy was my favourite toy (and friend!), so it'd be nice from that perspective too.

Sadly, my uncle passed away some years ago, so I can't get any information that way. He was an airline pilot, probably flying around Scottish highlands and islands routes at the time, and based in Glasgow. He gave it to me when he visited us in London, so he also might've bought it there en route.

There's no label, and I can't find any remnant of one. I don't believe this little guy came with an outfit of any kind. His arms are just extensions of his body - there aren't any mechanical joints at all. He's very soft and friendly. The only hard bits are his triangular plastic nose and glass (?) eyes.

If I can't get an exact clone, I'd like something similar. Any suggestions welcome!

Side question - can anyone recommend a teddy bear renovator, preferably in the UK? I wouldn't want to lose his character, but he does need a little love after all this time.
posted by Magnakai to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
He looks similar to my bear! Also from the UK, about 20 years ago. I know mine most likely came from a supermarket or local shop, so no help with a source, but if you're looking around for the exact same teddy, keep an eye out for bears that have long, fluffy fur- my guy was about double the size when he was new, and all the fluff is by now condensed to that pilled material yours also has. Yours might have looked quite different new, too.
posted by mymbleth at 4:42 AM on September 13, 2014

The Harrods Boy Bear comes pretty close.
posted by kinetic at 4:58 AM on September 13, 2014

How about this Gund Bear?
posted by saffry at 5:24 AM on September 13, 2014

That's a great bear. Maybe this guy is close in the important ways?
posted by 256 at 8:27 AM on September 13, 2014

Response by poster: Great suggestions guys!

The Gund bear is really nice, though a little chubby. That amigurumi bear is adorable, though I'd be concerned about how child-safe it is.

FWIW, here are a few more pics of my bear. Not sure they'll do anything the first pic won't, but it's worth a shot.
posted by Magnakai at 10:10 AM on September 13, 2014

Best answer: His eyes and nose look quite similar to my rabbit bought around the same time also in the UK (her eyes are browner in real life and the top of her nose broke off at some point). Very similar fur too. She's a bit more easily googlable, as a cowgirl bunny, and here she is on EBay. That description says Knickerbocker Animals of Distinction, which unfortunately is where the trail goes cold, as according to this, they closed in the 80s. (Sidebar, they were an American company but they must have been importing to the UK).

With that said, I've done a bit of Gooling/ebaying for Knickerbocker teddies, but I can't see your bear immediately.

For a similar bear, I think the Hamleys range (particularly Crumble) is pretty good, though the logos on the paws are a bit annoying.
posted by featherboa at 2:11 PM on September 13, 2014

Response by poster: Wow, great answer featherboa! Thank you so much for your detective work.

At the very least, they clearly made similar bears. I looked where the label is on this bear, and there's definitely a place where it could've been, so that adds some weight to the suggestion too.

I couldn't find my exact bear, but I did find this horrifying "sad bear". Warning: terrifying.
posted by Magnakai at 3:45 PM on September 13, 2014

I just called my wife in to see the photo because I thought it looked like her bear Elizabeth. I was wrong (and Elizabeth has no tags), but her reaction was "That's Snowy! Well, that one's brown when Snowy was white with a black nose. But it's Snowy!"

Unhelpfully, Snowy has now been passed to another generation, but he too would have been bought in the UK about 30 years ago.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 4:05 PM on September 13, 2014

Best answer: In my past I oversaw the sale of several thousand teddy bears. I know far less than some, but I can help a tiny bit.

The teddy community is generally very friendly and happy to answer questions and share knowledge (unless there is very rare teddy on the line). Finding a serious collector will likely answer your questions quickly, if nothing else put you very close to the answer.

Things they will look at:
- The material(I suck at identifying materials).
- The nose. Brown, plastic(molded?), triangle. Type of plastic.
- Nose stitching. None in this case.
- The muzzle/mouth.
- Eye type. Plastic, glass, ect.
- The stuffing. You can often feel it to get a general idea of what's in it. Yours is likely filled with some kind of small balls.
- Seams/stitching.
- Joints. This is a big one. None on this teddy.
- Any identification/marks. Any sort of artist almost always finds some way of identifying their work. Even if they use a hang tag there is usually a distinguishing mark of some sort.

With the lack of any type of joints and no identification and the other parts all looking very generic this teddy is highly likely to be mass produced. Probably in Asia.

Regarding the Knickerbocker, of the examples linked above, all have the vertical seams across the forehead of the teddys. This is a large argument against these samples proving it to being made by them. It could be made by them, but these samples don't mean much.

Of course, the rabbit featured in the gif does not include the vertical stickes. It does have large eyes and a neck joint which mark it as significantly different from the original teddy.

I looked through a book I own to see if anything jumped out, but I didn't get any hard hits. You might want to look into bears by Russ Berrie & Co. The only example my book gives of their's is significantly better make and construction(and has actual joints), but there are a bunch of similarities. There may have been a plastic tag in your teddy's left ear if this is true.

The UK has a nice collection of teddy shops and such. Some names(also from this book):
- Asquith's Teddy Bear Shops
- The Bear Museum
- The British Bear Collection
- Broadway Bears Museum
- Teddy Bear Club International
- Teddy Bear Scene
- British Teddy Bear Association
- Heather's Teddys
(There are lots more shops and addresses for each location, pm if you want more)

The main book that I keep on referencing: The Teddy Bear Encyclopedia

I did some digging on ebay for Russ Berrie & Co samples. I didn't find a match, but many of their teddys come rather close in various aspects. One had an identical nose(very good sign). I'm not convinced though. That elongated neck on your sample is markedly different.

Next step, I would talk to a local teddy expert. Also keep auction houses in mind, they can be a big part of the community.

Good luck on your search.
posted by Folk at 7:44 PM on September 16, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you so much Folk! That's an amazing answer, and really useful to have comments from someone with real knowledge. Damn, I love Metafilter sometimes.

The Russ Berrie theory is a good one. He does have a noticeably thicker stitch on the top of his left ear than on his right, indicating that there may have been a tag there at one point.

Just for the record:

- The material(I suck at identifying materials).
It's hard to tell, but a poly blend feels most likely. I'd love if he was wool, but I think that might be wishful thinking.

- The nose. Brown, plastic(molded?), triangle. Type of plastic.
Yup, molded brown plastic.

- Nose stitching. None in this case.
No stitching

- The muzzle/mouth.
I think he might've had a stitched mouth at one point, but it's hard to recall. Certainly no evidence of it.

- Eye type. Plastic, glass, ect.
Definitely plastic upon close inspection.

- The stuffing. You can often feel it to get a general idea of what's in it. Yours is likely filled with some kind of small balls.
It feels likes a fairly contiguous fluff. I certainly don't feel any discrete balls of any kind inside him.

- Seams/stitching.
The most obvious are on the underside of his paws, around his muzzle and ears. There's also a fairly noticeable line of stitching on the back, where his bum would be. Not sure if that's an ex-label spot or a full-on stitch. There aren't any other stitches that go up the forehead or along exposed areas of his body.

- Joints. This is a big one. None on this teddy.

- Any identification/marks. Any sort of artist almost always finds some way of identifying their work. Even if they use a hang tag there is usually a distinguishing mark of some sort.
I clearly don't know what I'm looking for, but I can't really see any distinguishing marks.

Are there any message boards that you'd recommend? If not, I'll try one of the shops shortly.

Once again, thank you very much!
posted by Magnakai at 7:52 AM on September 17, 2014

One thing that bothers me about Russ Berrie is that there should probably be a linen tag in one of the seams. Even if that tag was pulled off, I havent seen one come out without leaving evidence. It might very well be possible, but I have not seen it.

There were several companies mass producing teddys in the 80's. If it's not Russ Berrie it's still very likely in that vein.

I don't know of any online communities for teddys, but I never really looked. My interactions with the community almost always involved dealers in meatspace. With that said, a significant percentage of transactions involving teddys happen through ebay, online auctions, and live auctions.
posted by Folk at 10:20 AM on September 17, 2014

Response by poster: The more I look at Russ Berrie bears, the more likely it seems. This chap is not a million miles away in design. This one's quite different, but he does have his tag on the bottom of the of his left leg, which is where I can just about spy the remnants of a trimmed off tag on my bear. Definitely bears (hohoho) further investigation.
posted by Magnakai at 1:07 PM on September 17, 2014

"Simply Soft" by Keel Toys (a brand remembered from my childhood) looks like it might be close?

ebay search for "keel toys simply soft bear"
posted by mymbleth at 1:18 AM on September 18, 2014

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