Each Care Bear comes in a different color and has a specialized insignia on its belly that represents its duty and personality. This insignia was known as their "tummy symbol". The latest movie, Oopsy Does It! (2007), however, controversially renamed them "belly badges". Adding to the Care Bear family are the "Care Bear Cousins," which feature a lion, monkey, penguin, rabbit, and other such animals created in the same style as the teddy bears.
The Care Bears appeared in their own television series from 1985 to 1988, in addition to three feature films: The Care Bears Movie (1985), Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation (1986), and The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland (1987).
Also the 25th aniversery bear came out in 2007 and also showed an unseen movie
In 2002, the bears were reintroduced with new toys. Made by Play-Along Toys, the new toys offered features such as illuminated bellies upon touch, aerobic bears, and glow-in-the-dark bears. As part of this comeback, the Bears have appeared in two computer-animated movies: Journey to Joke-a-lot (2004) and Big Wish Movie (2005).
In 2007, the bears were once again relaunched. The 25th anniversary of the toy line was commemorated in 2007, and the Oopsy Does It! movie was released in commemoration of the 25th anniversary. As of 2008, Care Bears are still being marketed.
The "Care Bears" trademark and the copyrights in the character designs are currently owned by Those Characters from Cleveland, part of American Greetings. However, on July 23, 2008, American Greetings announced that the Care Bears (along with Strawberry Shortcake) would be sold to Cookie Jar Entertainment in an acquisition due to take place on September 30, 2008.
As they had done with Strawberry Shortcake back when it was called "Project I," AGC called the Care Bears franchise "Project II" as they strove to make the character program secret until advertising was ready. At the start of the franchise, Care Bears was already established as its working title.
1984 saw the release of another special, The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine (which returned Professor Coldheart and introduced his dopey assistant Frostbite); a miniseries based on the toys was distributed by Lexington Broadcast Services Company in syndication. New Care Bears named Grams Bear, Baby Hugs and Baby Tugs were also introduced. A spin-off line, the Care Bear Cousins, was introduced the same year.
In 1985, the Bears and Cousins starred in their first movie, The Care Bears Movie, produced by Nelvana Limited and released by The Samuel Goldwyn Company. It became the highest-grossing animated film made outside the Disney market at the time of its release. Later that autumn, a television series from DIC Entertainment which was co-produced by Nelvana and based on the characters was made, and it ran for 22 episodes in syndication. Professor Coldheart and Frostbite did not appear in the movie but they appeared semi-regularly in the series with a new villain named Auntie Freeze.
The following year, Nelvana completely took over the animation rights for the franchise with a second movie entitled Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation. Released by Columbia Pictures, the film featured a new villain, Dark Heart, and introduced more of the Care Bears and Care Bears Cousins, namely Harmony Bear, Noble Heart Horse and True Heart Bear.
Later that fall, The Care Bears TV Series (also from Nelvana) premiered on the ABC network, lasting two seasons and consisting of over 70 episodes, introducing a new villain; the evil wizard No Heart and his sidekick Beastly. In the second season, No Heart's niece Shreeky is introduced. The Bears' last theatrically-released film, The Care Bears' Adventure in Wonderland, debuted the following summer. The Care Bears Nutcracker Suite, the last ever Care Bears movie made in the decade (and was the last movie of the franchise right up until 2004), premiered on the Disney Channel in 1988. Originally planned to be a feature film, it was decided to launch the film as a direct-to-TV movie after the previous film flopped at the box office.
As with many other animated franchises of the 1980s, the Care Bears movies and TV shows were designed and created primarily to sell the pre-licensed characters and related merchandise. This has been noticed, more or less, by the franchise's long-time aficionados, and have also been acknowledged by the writers and producers of the shows and movies. Over 40 million Care Bears were sold between 1983 and 1987, and during the decade, American Greetings printed over 70 million of their cards. In whole, the sales of their merchandise reached over $2 billion during the 1980s. This made them one of the most successful toy lines of its time, alongside "My Little Pony" and "Transformers."
During the late 1990s, another two revivals were attempted, but both failed to match the success of the original toy line. In 1996, retailer ShopKo released only Tenderheart, Cheer, and Bedtime Bears, and during 1999, in an imitation of Beanie Babies, Kenner made six "beanlings" based on Tenderheart, Share, Friend, Cheer, Bedtime, and Good Luck Bears.
The same year the beanlings were made, Jay Foreman, president of current distributor and manufacturer of toys for the franchise, Play Along Toys, bought the rights to the Care Bears franchise for just under $1 million. Three years later, the Bears came out of hibernation to celebrate their 20th anniversary. A big event was planned for that year as Play Along began to roll out the new product lines; thus began a major trend as the toys became popular once again.
In 2002 American Greetings relaunched the Care Bear brand as part of the Bears' 20th anniversary celebration with a series of dolls, toys and movies. The artwork and design of the bears were changed for relaunch. Also, Funshine Bear's gender was changed from female to male, Champ Bear's colours were changed from tan to true blue, with his tummy symbol changed to a winner's cup with a star, and Share Bear's tummy symbol was changed from a milkshake with two straws to two lollipops crossed. The change to Share Bear's symbol stems from Play Along Toys' suggestion of the change on the grounds that sharing a milkshake may spread germs. Apart from that, many other minor changes were made to the designs, mostly involving lightening the colors of the bears and minor redesigns to the tummy symbols.
In the midst of this revival, Play Along released brand-new toys based on the newly-redesigned Bears, sold at stores such as Wal-Mart, KMart, Toys "R" Us, Target, K•B Toys, and Mervyns. The new merchandise included the Bears doing aerobics; Tenderheart Bear as a patient (casting the child that is playing with the toy as the doctor); Champ Bear as a fireman; and the Care Bears themselves as Cubs. Over 70 million 13-inch plush Bears have been sold since the re-launch. In addition, Lionsgate Home Entertainment and subsidiary FHE Pictures, in association with Nelvana, have made two direct-to-DVD computer-animated films, Care Bears: Journey to Joke-a-lot in 2004 and The Care Bears' Big Wish Movie. in 2005. Also worth noting is that the role of unofficial leader was apparently temporarily transferred from Tenderheart Bear to Champ Bear shortly before the 2005 movie, and it is unknown if the role was returned to Tenderheart after the movie. Various other music CDs featuring the bears and video games were also produced. No Care Bears movie was produced in 2006, but hints of the second revival and the upcoming movie, Oopsy Does It!, started circulating among fans in the Internet towards the end of 2006.
It is also interesting to note that an attempt to relaunch the Care Bear Cousins was made a little later after the 2002 relaunch of the bears. New versions of the various cousins were produced (with Proud Heart being changed back into a cat, albeit in a different color and with a different tummy symbol). However the revival of the line was not as successful as that of the bears' revival. The cousins were not relaunched in the 2007 relaunch of the franchise.
As part of the franchise's 25th anniversary celebrations, the Bears have been redesigned by the AG Properties illustration team, and the logo of the franchise was redesigned to provide a more whimsical feeling. The new line consists of fifteen of the thirty-nine bears (as seen in the recent film). Five of the bears were chosen to be the focus of the franchise: Oopsy (a brand new bear who debuted in Oopsy Does It!), Cheer, Funshine, Grumpy, and Share Bear. The other bears include Amigo Bear, Wish Bear, True Heart Bear, Bedtime Bear, Surprise Bear, Love-a-Lot Bear, Harmony Bear, Superstar Bear, Heartsong Bear and Hopeful Heart Bear, although the remaining 24 of the bears are also stated to have a release in the near future according to Play Along Toys.
The role of unofficial leader was re-transferred, this time permanently, to Cheer Bear. Their brand-new theme song is performed by former Letters to Cleo member, Kay Hanley, and the music video premiered on FOX and Nickelodeon. In August 2007, they appeared in 20th Century Fox's theatrical release of Care Bears: Oopsy Does It!. This was followed by the television series from DiC Entertainment, Adventures in Care-a-Lot. The series premiered on CBS' KEWLopolis block on September 15, 2007.
The Care Bears universe was rebooted upon the 2007 relaunch. Prior plot devices like the Cloudmobiles, Caring Meter, the Cloud Keeper and even Care-a-lot castle were not referred to or mentioned as of the new series (indeed, Care-a-lot castle doesn't even appear to exist after the relaunch, as seen in the aerial shots of Care-a-lot shown at various points in various episodes of Adventures in Care-a-lot). In its place is the gathering tree, which is where the Care Bears now gather to meet or hold festivities. Also, the Care Bears have, up until the point of the first direct-to-DVD release for the new franchise (Grizzle-ly Adventures), never had humans visit Care-A-Lot, and a new villain named Grizzle (who seeks to conquer Care-a-lot and nothing else) was introduced. The February 2007 issue of the Wall Street Journal states that in the new version, "they live in a village, centered on a big tree—with no castle in sight."
However, as of late, it seems that American Greetings is changing the course of their actions. A passing remark regarding the Forest of Feelings was made in the second direct-to-DVD release of the franchise, Ups and Downs, and Care-A-Lot castle reappeared in certain scenes in the new game for the V.Smile Baby Infant Development System, Play Day.
The franchise consists mainly of the Care Bears themselves, as well as the later additions the Care Bear Cousins. Both of them live in the Kingdom of Caring, which is made up of Care-a-Lot (the home of the Care Bears proper) and the Forest of Feelings (home to the Care Bear Cousins).
Accompanying them are the Star and Heart Buddies, who look out for the Bears and Cousins whenever they are on missions in caring; and the Birds, who are usually seen in the Forest of Feelings with the Care Bear Cousins and watch over them. A less recurring character is The Cloud Keeper, the portly gentleman who maintains Care-a-lot. He only appeared in some of the franchise's early publications and on the DiC-produced TV episodes.
The ten original Care Bears consisted of Bedtime Bear, Birthday Bear, Cheer Bear, Friend Bear, Funshine Bear, Good Luck Bear, Grumpy Bear, Love-A-Lot Bear, Tenderheart Bear and Wish Bear. Later on, additional bears joined them, as well as the Cousins.
For the new 2007 TV series, five of the Care Bears were chosen to be the main characters of the show. As seen on the Care Bears website, they are Share Bear, Cheer Bear, Funshine Bear, Grumpy Bear, and the new bear introduced in the movie, Oopsy Bear. However, the other Care Bears still make appearances in the series. The unofficial role of leader of the bears, as of the new series, was transferred from Tenderheart Bear to Cheer Bear, although it could be possible that the role was transferred to Champ Bear for a brief period prior to being retransferred to Cheer Bear in The Big Wish Movie as he presided over all the meetings. The cousins were not relaunched in the 2007 series.
In the original animated specials and the DiC series, the Care Bear Stare is usually initiated by the phrase "Care Bears...prepare to stare!" while in the Nelvana series and later versions it is initiated by the phrase "Care Bears Countdown!"
During the movies, the Care Bear Cousins call their weapon the "Cousin Call." In the second movie, the Call looks like a musical score, and the cousins, excluding Swift Heart Rabbit, use whatever animal noise is common to that animal. In the first movie, the Cousins simply make animal noises since they do not have any tummy symbols; those are later given to them by the Care Bears at the end of the movie.
Although commonly used on villains, the stare has also been used on the Care Bears themselves at least once in Adventures in Care-A-Lot, used to temporarily cheer Grumpy up in the episode The Tell-Tale Tummy.
In addition to the Care Bear Stare, the Care Bears can also use their tummy symbols to summon other assistance such as heart-shaped balloons, rainbow bridges and sending out a distress signal.
No mention was made of the Caring Meter in Oopsy Does It! And Adventures in Care-A-Lot. Indeed, it seems that there has been a major reboot in the franchise's 25th Anniversary that has done away with and changed various plot devices in the universe.
Apart from toys, greeting cards and animated media, the Care Bears have been featured in a lot of merchandise as well, some of which includes gummi bears (pictured right), party goods, cell phone covers, interior decoration sets, stickers, clothing accessories and many other goods.
Care Bears Gummi Bears, and Valentine Care Bears Gummi Bears, are a small candies that are shaped like bears, and come in many different colors. On the box, there are Care Bears characters. Otherwise, these are just like regular Gummi bears.
All of the albums from 1983 featured writing, production, and performance credits from Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (also known as Flo & Eddie - former Mothers of Invention from Frank Zappa's 1970-1972 period).
In the midst of the 2002 revival, Madacy Kids released brand new Care Bear CDs. In 2004, "Meet the Care Bears," "Care Bears Holiday Hugs," "Care Bears Christmas Eve," and the "Care Bears: Journey to Joke-a-lot" soundtrack album came out, as well as "Care Bears Nighty-Night" the following year.
The cover of both Care Bears Holiday Hugs and Care Bears Nighty-Night advertises another two CDs, called Care Bears Share A Smile and Care Bears Let's Be Friends. As of April 2008, Both Share A Smile and Let's Be Friends have been folded into a single album and released as a digital download from Amazon.com and Walmart.com, however it is at this date not available as a physical CD. This has caused some difficulties to international fans as Amazon.com and Walmart.com will not sell digital downloads to fans who reside outside North America.
A Care Bears game was planned for the Atari 2600 in 1983. It was preliminarily completed and ready for beta testing, but the project was cancelled before testing could begin. The beta prototype subsequently disappeared into obscurity and the only known existing prototype to date is an early alpha of the game. No other games featuring the bears were ever made during the period.
In 2001, an unofficial Care Bear Game was made called Care Bears Volleyball in which 2 players would play a game of volleyball as Tenderheart Bear. However, no official games were announced at the time.
In 2004, the Bears starred in their first official game, Care-a-lot Jamboree for the PC. A few months later, another game featuring the Care Bears for the PC, Let's Have a Ball! was released. In the same year they were featured in Care Bears: A Lesson in Caring for the V.Smile educational game console.
In 2005, they appeared in Catch a Star (also for the PC) and Care Bears: (The) Care Quests (for the Game Boy Advance).
Like the movies, no game for any systems was produced in 2006, and no new game was released in time for the 2007 relaunch. However, in August 2008, a new game, Care Bears: Play Day, was released for the V.Smile Baby Infant Development System, finally breaking the two years of silence for the franchise on the gaming front.
It should be noted, however, that the official Care Bears website has some flash-based games since its inception.
A Care Bears smart toy called Care Bears Share-A-Story was introduced by Play Along in July, 2005. The toy is based upon the same basic idea of a Teddy Ruxpin. The head, mouth and eyes of the Care Bear move around as a cartridge plays fairy tales such as Goldilocks and the Three Care Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Pigs. A hardback book version of the story comes with it so the parent and child can read along as the story plays. The toy ships with the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and additional story cartridges and books are to be purchased separately. Also, apparently only Share Bear was ever made as such a toy.
Additionally, Care Bears Sing-along pals were also introduced. These Care Bears plushes sing three different songs and could synchronize wirelessly with other singing Care Bears of the series to sing together in a group (the effective wireless coverage being three feet, although the range might deteriorate due to environmental conditions and remaining battery strength). While initially introduced in a rather large variety of designs, at the moment only the Share Bear, Cheer Bear and Funshine Bear models are still being made, with the physical appearance of the bears redesigned to match the 25th anniversary looks.
Another Care Bear smart toy is the Care Bears Tenderheart Smart Check-up. The toy comes with an interactive plush Tenderheart bear and various toy medical equipment. The interactive plush has soft-touch points throughout the body and can be fully played with without the toy medical equipment.
Lastly, there are a line of Care Bears smart toys that would play hide and seek with the owner. The line, called Hide 'N Seek Care Bears, comes in two designs: Secret Bear and Surprise Bear. Both bear comes with a wireless handpiece. To play the toy, a third party, usually the parent, must partake in the game by hiding the bear. The child then has to find the bear, with the handpiece occasionally providing hints on how close the child is to the bear through audible instructions.
In 2005, the Care Bears starred in their own stage show, called "Care Bears Live," organized by VEE Corp. The tour ended in Atlanta, Georgia in July 2006.
In French-speaking countries, the Care Bears are referred to as "Les Bisounours," roughly translating as "kiss bears," from "bisou" (kiss) and "nounours" (teddy bear). However, French-speaking Quebec knows them as "Les Calinours," or "hug bears;" the word "bizoune" is considered grammatically inappropriate in the context of the local vocabulary.
In the Netherlands, the Care Bears are known as "Troetelbeertjes," translated in English as "Cuddle Bears" or "Cuddly Bears." Professor Coldheart is translated in Dutch as "Professor Koudhart," which means literally the same as the name in English.
In Hungary, the show is called "Szíves Bocsok", can be translated as "kind bears", or "bears with hearts". The earlier movies were referred as "Gondos Bocsok" ("caring bears").
In Iceland, the show is called "Kærleiksbirnirnir", literally translating to "The Care Bears".
In Spain they were called "Los Osos Amorosos", "The Loving Bears" in English.
In Latin America, the Care Bears are referred to as "Los Ositos Cariñositos," or sometimes just "Los Cariñositos" from "ositos" (literally "little bears") and "cariño" (a non-romantic love, affection). In Argentina, they are called "Los Ositos Cariñosos" and also "Cariñositos" (a play of words joining "Ositos" and "Cariñosos"). The "Care Bear Stare" was renamed as "Cariñositos, con amor" ("Care Bears, with love" or "Bears, let's Love"). Several different Latin American Spanish dubs of the Care Bears exist, as the movies and the TV series were dubbed in many countries by different cast members throughout the years. The movies were dubbed in Mexico; the first half of the Nelvana series was dubbed in Chile; the second half was dubbed in Venezuela, and a new dubbed version, broadcast on the Latin American version of Cartoon Network's Boomerang channel was later dubbed in Colombia.
In the Swedish dubs of the various series, the Care Bears are called "Krambjörnar" ("hug bears"). For unknown reasons, the villains Dark Heart, Coldheart, and No Heart all got the same name: "Hjärtlös" ("Heartless"), although the 1980s video dub translated Coldheart to "Professor Ishjärta" (Professor Iceheart).
In Denmark, they have different names depending on who is releasing the animated series. The original VHS releases in the 80s by SalutTrefa were called "Kælebjørnene" ("the cuddle bears") while a late 90's/early 00's release on DVD under the Fox Kids brand had them named "Skybjørnene" ("The Bears in the Clouds" or "The Cloud Bears").
In Norway, the Care Bears have kept their original name for the most part, but some dubs have named them "Bergebjørner," which loosely translates to "Rescue Bears." No Heart is known as "Hjerteløs" ("Heartless"), and Professor Coldheart is called "Professor Hjerterå" ("Cruel-hearted"). In the Norwegian translation of the comics, the villains' names were, for unknown reasons, swapped, making No Heart become "Hjerterå" and Professor Coldheart "Professor Hjerteløs."
In Finland, the show is called "Halinallet" ("hug bears").
In Italy and Greece they were known mainly because of the animated series, in which they were called "(gli) Orsetti del Cuore", i.e. (the) Heart Bears (being "orsetti" diminutive of "bears", or "teddy bears" in Italian) and "Τα αρκουδάκια της αγάπης", i.e. the bears of love, respectively. In Italy, the "Care Bear Stare" was renamed as "Orsetti, Amiamo" ("Bears, we love" or "Bears, let's Love").
In Bulgaria , they are known as "Грижовните Мечета" (Grijovnite Mecheta) , which is an exact translation of "Care Bears"
In Japan, they are known as "ケアーベア" pronounced "Keā Bea" meaning "Care Bears" in a Japanese accent.