Collector Bears....... Bears for Children part one
Teddy bears are generally considered as 'soft- bodied toys'. Soft- bodied toys are normally intended for use by children, as a rule, a 'toy' is defined as "Any product or material designed or clearly intended for use in play by children under 14 years of age." But you will find in the bear making world, there are two types of bears; those for children, and then there are 'collector' bears. Both look fairly the same, but looks can deceive, and it would be dangerous to assume that 'all bears are created equal'! . They are not!.
Which Bear is which?.
All bears should be clearly labelled as suitable or un-suitable for children. All toy bears should be safe for children of any age. Bearmakers are careful of how they make bears and the fabrics used; their reputation as a bearmaker rests on their finished bears. Bears intended for children require special consideration.. There are inferior fabrics, (dye runs, fray badly, loose tufts, fibres disintergrate easily, etc) out there, one needs to be aware. Only fabrics conforming to 'Standards' of fabrics used in soft toys, should be used. Fabrics should be sourced from reputable dealers. Read the safety label on the bolt of fabric,it will clearly state suitability and usage. If in doubt, don't use it!. Bears for children require special eyes and joints: plastic safety eyes and joints, these when correctly made cannot be removed, only sawn off!. Under no circumstances should a 'collectors' bear be given to a child under 14, they are not designed or made as play things. Consider them as aloof members of the teddy bear hug, they enjoy their hugability but they don't like to get too involved, where as the toy bear loves the rough and tumble of childs play, and coverts the love from a child.
Bears designed for collectors tend to have glass eyes and toy bears have plastic eyes, but do remember, there are some Premium plastic eyes that are exceedingly glass-like in appearance. The difference is primarily in the fillings and joints. Polyfil and plastic safety joints for childrens bears, cotter pin / nut and bolt joints and various filling materials (glass beads, woodwool,etc) for collector bears.
When quality fabrics are used, when it comes down to it, you can't tell the difference between collector bears and children's toy bears. Although there is generally more 'prestige' to collector bears, and often, shamefully, toy bears are considered cheap and inferior. (Here at Guggums, our bears for children are equal to our collector bears.)
Childrens safety is paramount, when making a bear for them,take time to source the correct fabrics and supplies, and if buying a bear,if in doubt, ask the bearmaker about the bears suitability, and if they can't answer your question, shy away from the bear and its maker.
The irony is, when teddy bears were first made on 100 years ago, they were made as toys for children ; but they weren't entirely safe for children with their wired shoebutton / glass eyes, cotter pin joints, woodwool filling, and the mohair often was dyed with dubious pigments, some of which were considered possibly poisonous. Teddies weren't really to be chewed, sucked,poked, pulled,etc by adoring children, but most 'old' bears tend to be missing eyes, ears, noses frayed, have chewed arms and holey bodies; from years of childhood play...... and plenty of love. But times change, and now law requires bearmakers to label bears according to suitability for use by children, we must be aware of safety problems that can arise, and bearmakers must be responsible.