Most of us remember our very first stuffed animal; a teddy bear, a puppy, maybe a cuddly white bunny rabbit. Whatever it was, we remember what it felt like, what it smelled like, and most importantly, the feelings and emotional bond associated with it. For many middle-age adults, that first plush toy was a simple version of a basic stuffed animal. Flash forward to 2009 and see how times have changed. Margerete Steiff was a seamstress who started making toy stuffed animals back in 1880. She was confined to a wheelchair, but started making these plush toys as a hobby. The first plush toy she made was an elephant, as was designed to be a pin cushion. However, children began playing with them and in the years following, Steiff designed and made many other “stuffed animal toys” for children.
The origin of the teddy bear dates back to the early 1900’s and was a result of an infamous hunting trip taken by then U.S. President, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. From its inception, the “Teddy Bear” was an instant success in the US. So much so, that by 1906, there were numerous manufacturers making Teddy Bears, and the craze for theses adorable stuffed animals was such that ladies were carrying them, children were being photographed with them and even Teddy Roosevelt used one as a mascot in his bid for re-election.
As the years progressed, so did the Teddy Bear and other stuffed animals. They became more detailed in appearance, and manufacturers had trouble keeping up with demand. So much so, that other less common animals began emerging on the scene. The stuffed animal market was no longer limited to teddy bears, cats, and dogs as other, more unusual animals began to take their place in the plush marketplace.
In recent years, we have seen an explosion of “designer plush toys.” These are stuffed animals and unique plush toys that are typically created in limited quantities by the artist or designer. Designer plush toys can be extremely unique and distinct in nature, with each plush doll having its own specific look, feel and personality.
So what are some of these unique plush toys? Well, lets start with one that looks like a tiny microbe, only a million times its actual size. GIANTmicrobes are plush toys that are humorous, educational and fun. The GIANTmicrobes line includes The Common Cold, the Flu, Sore Throat, Stomach Ache and Kissing Disease just to name a few.
If you are looking for plush toys a little less “germy”, then consider the WorryWoos. The WooryWoo monsters, created by AndI Green, are plush dolls that help children tackle complicating feelings, from loneliness and confusion to insecurity and innocence.
If it is an unusual take on a traditional stuffed animal you seek, then look no further than Gus Fink’s Puff Dog and Stitch Kitten lines of designer plush. These creatures are extremely unique and scarily cute.
Needless to say, the evolution of the stuffed animal has provided us with a wonderful selection of unique plush toys. Whether you prefer a traditional teddy bear, a jungle cat or a plush version of the ebola virus, you will be able to find it somewhere!