The Care Bears are a set of characters created by American Greetings in 1981 for use on greeting cards. The original artwork for the cards was painted by artist Elena Kucharik. In 1983, Kenner turned the Care Bears into plush teddy bears.
Each bear comes in a different color and has a specialized insignia on its belly that represents its duty and personality. This insignia was known as their "tummy symbol". The latest movie, Oopsy Does It! (2007), however, controversially renamed them "belly badges". Adding to the Care Bear family are the "Care Bear Cousins," which feature a lion, monkey, penguin, rabbit, and other such animals created in the same style as the teddy bears.
As with many other animated franchises of the 1980s, the Care Bears movies and TV shows were designed and created primarily to sell the pre-licensed characters and related merchandise. This has been noticed, more or less, by the franchise's long-time aficionados, and have also been acknowledged by the writers and producers of the shows and movies. Over 40 million Care Bears were sold between 1983 and 1987, and during the decade, American Greetings printed over 70 million of their cards. In whole, the sales of their merchandise reached over $2 billion during the 1980s. This made them one of the most successful toy lines of its time, alongside "My Little Pony" and "Transformers."
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