Saturday, February 3, 2018

This Steiff Honey Bear Is Certain To Sweeten Your Day!

How sweet it is to find a really unusual Steiff treasure? Especially one you've only viewed in photos or read about. So check out this amazing Honey Bear Steiffgal recently had the pleasure of handling. There's no sugar coating it - this rarity truly is the bee's knees!

Have you ever seen anything like this merry mashup before? If an anteater, raccoon, and a Teddy bear all had a love child together, Steiffgal suspects this is what the baby would probably look like. Honey Bear is 40 cm tall, unjointed, and probably designed to sit. His body is made from brown soft knitted plush. His belly is orange soft knitted plush, and his facial mask and nose area are light tan soft knitted plush. His paw pads are brown trevira velvet. His face, which only a mother could love, comes alive with a long pointed snout, brown and black pupil eyes, a peach colored trevira lined open mouth, and light brown airbrushing. He has a long, floppy, raccoon-ish tail. This item was made from 1976 to 1977 and is quite rare, despite its "relative" newness. 

Steiff's Honey Bear is based on a type of real-life animal called a "kinkajou." These mammals live in the Central and South American rain forests and are extremely nocturnal. They range in size from about 3 to 10 pounds. They really enjoy sweet fruit (that's why they are called "Honey Bears") which they eat with the help of their extra long tongues. Like Steiff's version, living kinkajous have an incredibly long tail and a prominent snout. They use their tails to hang from tree branches and as a "fifth hand." They are sometimes kept as pets, but are a bit challenging to domesticate as they dislike sun and daylight and only really go about their business at night. (The real-life one pictured here on the left is clearly only mugging for the camera in daylight conditions in the hopes of scoring a grand treat.)

So the sticky issue here is, why would Steiff ever make a Honey Bear as part of its product line? Well, that's a trick question because the company has actually made two - in 1995 they also produced a 45 cm standing, unjointed version made from woven fur. It does seem that over the years, Steiff has manufactured practically every animal on the planet. With this Honey Bear, things may have more to do with timing than anything else. Looking back, the mid-1970's seemed to be a period of great experimentation in terms of "unconventional" animal production. Other plush "uglies" of that era included the company's 25 or 35 cm "Wizzi" ferret made from imitation fur, a 14 cm "Putty" Turkey made from knitted fur, a 30 cm "Cosy Orangutan" with a plastic face and a very long crylor body, a 28 cm trevira velvet kudu, a 20 cm trevira velvet gnu, and many others. It is interesting to note that like the Honey Bear design, none of these "oddities" lasted for more than a handful of years in the line, either!

Steiffgal hopes this discussion on the company's Honey Bear has helped to sweeten your day.

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