During the July 4 holiday week—some companies are closed for extended weekends; others just for the formal one-day holiday; others seem to have shuttered their doors for six whole days in a row—it’s nice to contemplate what does the Declaration of Independence mean, and what does it have to do with teddy bears and other ursine affairs. In actuality, America has much to do with the beloved teddy bear, and even though Germany seems to be lauded as the birthplace of the cuddly bear toy (Steiff quickly springs to mind as Number One), the teddy bear concept originated in America.
I guess there is something to be said about having a face that only a mother could love, or in the case of UglyDolls, a face that only a collector (or a stuffed-animal enthusiast) could adore! Since they burst onto the scene in New Jersey—a state that has often been the punch line of a million unflattering jokes—the UglyDolls proved to be an unstoppable force. Conquering the plush-pal market—they were manufactured by GUND—the UglyDoll characters were the “brain children” of David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim. Since their debut in 2001, the UglyDolls have sprung up as huggable critters, wind-up toys, flash drives (they are very forward-thinking), and all other manner of mementoes. Now they are about to tackle their greatest challenge: a Hollywood motion picture.
The plush world is an ever-expanding one, and it embraces all forms of soft-sculpture art, high-end collectibles, adult-biased (hands-off) pieces, and huggable/holdable designs for children. Let’s face it: the plush life is a pretty spectacular one! This week I was buying some gifts for two children’s birthday parties. The kids are at that interesting age: one is on the cusp of becoming aware that he’s a child, but not for much longer (he’s turning 12); the other is delighting on finally being acknowledged as a little person in her own right (she’s 6). Both these ages are unique because they represent how different it is for young people at different spectrums of childhood. A 6-year-old is fresh out of kindergarten or first grade, realizing that there is a time to play and a time to study, a time to imagine and then a time to learn. (How lucky these beginning students are if they have a teacher who can blend all of this together in a classroom!)