November 6th, 2007

First there was Build-a-Bear. Then there was the (just released) Build-a-Bear game for the DS. As if that didn’t incite enough of a WTF, now apparently there’s a Build-a-Bear virtual world in the works, due out this winter. Seriously. It’s called Build-a-Bearville. And it’s “stuffed with fun.” Kill me now.

My bear-loving gut tells me this brightly-colored company is plotting some sort of world domination. You can just see their beady plastic eyes glistening with the reflected light of Club Penguin. I should have listened to my friends when they told me Build-a-Bear was evil. I should have known something was wrong the first time I stuffed an ID tag with a track-able bar code into the gaping hole in a teddy bear’s back.

Ok, before I sound like some sort of teddy bear lunatic, let me explain. I am a Build-a-Bear survivor. Yes, for one year in high school the girl who writes about sex made stuffed animals for children–and goddamn it, she liked it. At least, for a little while. Granted, it was my first (and last) retail job, but it seemed perfect. I got to work with kids. I got to work with toys. I’m a total sucker for cuteness, so both of those things work. Then, I began to see the problem with actually liking children and working for Build-a-Bear. I wanted to make kids happy, not convince them they had to make their mommies buy their bears three different pairs of shoes. No lie: I was instructed to tell them that their stuffed animals would love them more if they had accessories.

Four years later, I still haven’t totally gotten over my bear-related trauma. I see Build-a-Bears in malls and I instinctively hide. Some part of me must be thinking: what if they want me to take over a shift!? My first published article was actually something of a Marxist rant against my time among the teddy bears. Then, while I was in San Fran last year for the Sex & Games Conference, I was amazed to find The Basic Brown Bear Factory at the Cannery–the adorable, earnest little shop that Build-a-Bear had stolen its ideas from, even its color scheme. Just this September I was back at the Cannery. To my horror, the Basic Brown Bear Factory was totally empty. You could practically see the tumble weeds of teddy bear fuzz rolling past the windows.

So it’s fair to say I’m not approaching this from an objective (or probably even a reasonable) angle. The fact remains: Build-a-Bear is taking over the world. While the DS game just recreates the process of “making” a bear you’d experience in a store, the MMO “lets you bring your furry friends to life” by decorating their rooms, collecting points, and of course getting special rewards for each new one you buy. Stuffed animals rock. Kids who like stuffed animals rock. Why must this be so sucky?

Tags: Bonnie life, children, MMOs, new games

17 Responses to “Build-a-Bear Plots World Domination with DS Game, MMO, Squishiness”

  1. Anne Packrat Says:

    I’ve actually found a lot of Build a Bear stuff in thrift stores. It’s good for me since they’re high quality stuff and work well as costume accessories, but it still makes me sad knowing that kids wished on a heart and put it inside promising to love it forever.

  2. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    You’ve found Build-a-Bear animals in thrift stores, not just clothes? That’s super sad. In all fairness to the general suckiness of everyone (consumers included, not just the company), I saw tons of kids come through there who bought tons of animals, and obviously never gave adequate love to any of them. Not cool. Not cool.

  3. Anne Packrat Says:

    Yeah I’ve found three Build-a-Bear dogs in a thrift store. Two have become Black Hayate props for my and a friend’s Fullmetal Alchemist costumes and another Westie looking dog is going to a vet friend who loves Westies.

  4. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I know those Build-a-Bear Westies. They’re a particular pain to stuff because their fur is sort of soft and slick–really easy to pierce with the giant, phallic, stuffing needle machine thing. Ah…

  5. bear lover Says:

    I love those little things. shall they rule earth itself and mars and stuff.

  6. Katy Says:

    CBS News Anchor Shomari Stone interviewed 6 year old Jacob Bloom. Jacob won the 2008 Build A Bear Huggable Contest. Take a look at how he helps animals. He is the cutest kid!
    You can click on or copy and paste the following link:

  7. jodi Says:

    omg…it is a store for kids….there is no high pressure sales and no info selling…it is fun!!!!!!!!!

  8. Charlie Says:

    i love build a bear and would love them to rule the earth and i buy loads of stuff from them so whats your point ?

  9. kt Says:

    i made a bear i went to build a bear a long time ago and i still love my bear but i am a bit big for bears

  10. anon Says:

    ur suckesh 4 not likin’ BAB.and so am i

  11. s Says:

    Oh trust me, there are a lot of high pressure sales. its horrible. i work for the store

  12. Jessica Says:

    I work for them too, and it is more about the guest experience than sales. You are just taking the coaching the wrong way. Quit trying to make something negative out of a place so possitive.

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  17. carpinteyroblv Says:

    The vanity of embroidery hats
    Well,now. Something very interesting about the difference between the sexes from the minds behind Gullible Info, where they intone: Women who lie about their age shave an average 4.4 years off their age. Fewer men lie about their age than women but those who do lie shave off an average 6.2 years.
    At first, I thought this fact correlated quite smoothly with my own observation that although women tend to have more hats than men, more men than women actually wear fitted hats ie., more men are style-driven and thus vainer than women. However, that’s really not the case.

    The resurgence of both the trilby and newsboy amongst younger males first musicians and then actors seems to be part of a selected lifestyle. Women, on the other hand, make more a one-off fashion statement when they wear basketball caps, and so their decision to wear a hat is subject to daily change.

    Although I’m sure my findings are profound and may impact the worlds of both fashion and psychiatry on deep and meaningful levels, I’m a bit too distracted to study the issue further. You see, I can’t really decide if I should wear my basketball capsor my basketball caps today, and until I choose, I’m simply all a-flutter.

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