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Tenderheart Bear

Care Bears
by Poe Ghostal

I admit that Tenderheart Bear may seem like a somewhat unusual choice for review. I have two reasons for it. First off, it's such a blatant example of the '80s nostalgia that is sweeping the industry, I feel a review is not only pertinent but necessary. Second, I needed to have something rate a -10 on the GotGM.

Everything old is new again, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the toy industry. This past year has seen the resurrection of the Transformers (who, admittedly, never really went away), Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and Thundercats, among other things. So it didn't surprise me when some of the more female-oriented lines began making a comeback (but where's Rainbow Brite? she kicked ass). Leading the charge are the Care Bears, one of the most blatant marketing scams of the '80s that even bullied its way into a fairly awful animated movie.

For those who don't waste valuable brain cells remembering minor toy fads from the '80s, the Care Bears are a group of lovable little bears that live in a castle in the clouds. Like the Roman gods, they often come to Earth and meddle in our affairs, firing laser rays from their stomachs to force people to care about one another.

It's all quite bizarre when you think about it. Why are they firing rays from their stomachs? I suspect this was the marketing department's plan to get the boys to buy a few Care Bears: yeah, they're cute, but like the Transformers they can blast people. The male demographic was also offered Grumpy Bear. Grumpy, who had the distinct advantage of being blue, was also the Care Bear most likely to whip out an AK-47 and start strafing the place, thus winning the hearts of violent future Doom players everywhere. While Bedtime Bear and Dumbass Bear were off sharing and caring or whatever, Grumpy was reading Nietzsche and fretting about the Iran/Contra affair.

Unfortunately, Grumpy Bear has not been brought back for this revamped line. Perhaps the makers realized his incongruousness next to names like Cheer Bear, Share Bear and Funshine Bear; or maybe they decided grumpy people don't deserve love. In any event, they have brought back Tenderheart Bear, the focus of this review. Let's see what they have to say about TB:

Tenderheart is a loving and lovable bear who knows lots about helping others share their feelings. By helping people show they care, Tenderheart Bear helps spread his love and make it grow. He wears the perfect symbol for his job on his tummy - a heart.

Now, I don't know about you, but for me the most surprising word in that little exegesis was "he." Tenderheart is a him? He's got a heart on his chest.

Actually, it's impossible to tell any of these things' gender, except of course for Grumpy who was very obviously an angry male. [or a ragging female --ed.]

So Tenderheart is a male. If I recall correctly, he was also the de facto leader of the Care Bears. Tch. Typical. Most of the Care Bears were female, but the leader has to be an alpha male.

Between this and Barbie and My Little Pony and whatnot, it's no wonder all the girls I know are submissive, demure caretaker types (that's a joke, folks).

These new figures are fairly similar to the original Care Bears toys, though not exactly the same - they're shorter, and the sculpting is a bit different. They do still have the hollow rubber head, which I think is a plus.

The sculpting is as good as it needs to be, though the eyes are just painted on. The heart is nice and shiny, and presumably ready to blast any Scrooge it finds into a full-blown communist.

The only other comment I have is on Tenderheart's butt. He's got a little heart tattoo there. Doubtlessly it was inscribed during some drunken binge with Gem or one of the Pound Puppies.

I can just see Tenderheart in some filthy tattoo parlor, bellowing his commie propaganda while a heavily-pierced, excommunicated Grumpy Bear jabs him repeatedly with a needle.

-- 11/14/02

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