May 31st, 2012
02:36 PM ET
The Care Bears turn 30 this year, and they're also preparing for a TV comeback.
Initially created as a greeting card line at American Greetings in 1982, the lovable, pastel-colored bears hit it big from 1983-1988, wherein there existed a Care Bears cartoon show on television, a full range of toys and products, and three movies.
Since 1988, however, the Care Bears have slipped in and out of vogue with various attempts to re-brand the franchise.
In 2006, the bilingual Amigo Bear was introduced as the first-ever Care Bear who was fluent in Spanish. And then there were the characters in 2005's “Care Bears: Big Wish Movie": Me Bear (a narcissist), Messy Bear (think Pig-Pen of "Peanuts" fame) and Too Loud Bear (self-explanatory).
But the 2012 re-launch, directly tied to the 30th anniversary, can be considered the most massive - and it most faithfully reflects the 1982 Care Bears we remember.
"We'd been toying with the idea of re-launching for several years," Gabrielle Oliff, vice president of brand and marketing at American Greetings, told CNN. "Now just seemed right because we had women who grew up with it. They're sort of in that sweet spot of (ages) 28-35, and they have kids that are about the age that would really like Care Bears. So from a timing perspective, it seemed like a great idea to push the brand out again."
The linchpin of the current reboot is a new CGI animated series, set to debut this weekend on The Hub Network, entitled "Care Bears: Welcome to Care-A-Lot."
Six fan favorite core characters are set to return: Tenderheart Bear; Share Bear; Cheer Bear; Harmony Bear; Grumpy Bear; and Funshine Bear. A new character will be introduced as well with Wonderheart Bear, Tenderheart's young niece that's roughly the preschool age of the average "Welcome to Care-A-Lot" viewer, although this is not explicitly stated. (It appears that Good Luck Bear didn’t make the cut.)
If the term "CGI animation" makes you cringe, or you're worried that the technology will forever ruin your treasured Care Bears memories, you need only look at pictures or videos of the 2012 Bears to realize that these guys truly are the cuddly, soft, big, huggable Care Bears you knew and loved as a child - right down to their fur.
"I really wanted to take it back to the classic bear," explained Sarah Finn, executive producer of "Care Bears: Welcome to Care-A-Lot." "The classic bear was so round and cuddly and the belly badge was so big. We just really wanted to go back to the '80s, but being able to use some of this great 3-D software that's out there, we were able to give it this cool, fresh, new look. But again, it's amazing how much we went back to the basics and sort of the DNA of the brand."
That's especially important, seeing that the Care Bears still resonate after three decades.
"We look at the brand and we think how lucky we are to have this evergreen property," Finn said. "Take it into any era, any time, and it still has the same meaning."
What about you? What are your memories of the Care Bears? Which Care Bear is your favorite?
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