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In the mid-1970s, New Yorker Barbara Isenberg searched store inventories of plush toys and found them wanting. Isenberg wanted for her own young son a teddy bear with the quality, charm, and soothing textures she recalled from her own childhood. So, she started the North American Bear Company (NABCO) to produce just such a toy. Isenberg called on a fashion-designer friend Odl Bauer to make a bear from an old sweatshirt that would be soft, cuddly, and unlike anything on the market. The toy Bauer designed evolved into Albert the Running Bear, a classic teddy bear in a jogging suit that appealed to children and adults. Isenberg oversaw the design and development of NABCO products and turned finances, sales, inventory, and order fulfillment over to her partner and brother, Paul Levy. A year after Albert the Running Bear appeared, NABCO offered a series of bears made of velour dressed and named to recall famous people and celebrities or VIBs (Very Important Bears) such as William Shakesbear, Humphrey Beargart, and Chef Bearnaise. By 1983 NABCO released a family of very active and fashionably attired bears: parents Cornelius and Alice VanderBear and their children, twins Fuzzy and his sister Fluffy. The following year, baby Muffy VanderBear joined the family necessitating the Muffy VanderBear Club for adult collectors and Muffy's Kid's Club for younger fans. The VanderBear line has changed and expanded over the years and still has devoted followers. In addition to Muffy and family, NABCO offers lines of baby toys (Flatso, Sleepyhead Bunnies, Pastel Pancakes, and Ollie Dogs), dolls and playmates (Rosy Cheeks, Fancy Prancy, and Topsy Turvy dolls), toys to engage kids in art and design (My Own Monsters and My Own Bears) and whimsical clothing, accessories, and purses .

  • Manufacturer: North American Bear Co., Inc.
  • Material: printed paper
  • Object ID: 111.7018
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