Muffy Bear and the VanderBears
Muffy VanderBear Home Page
Introduction To NABCO
In the early 1970's, Barbara Isenberg was living in New York, writing a hardware column for the New York Times and raising her three year old son, Christopher. Looking at his toys, she found them lacking in the endearing qualities she remembered of the toys of her youth.
Thus, Barbara set out to create a softer toy with an interesting design and emotional potential. She asked her fashion designer friend, Odl Bauer, to make a teddy bear out of an old sweatshirt so it would be soft and cuddly, yet different from anything that was currently avaialable in toy stores. That bear evolved into Albert the Running Bear. Barbara' friends adored Albert as much as her son did, and it was then Barbara realized the need for teddy bears in everyone's life
In 1978, after perfecting a variety of sample bears, Barbara and her brother Paul Levy, formed North American Bear Co., Inc. Their strategy was to appeal to adults as well as children with unique and high quality products people could identify with.
Odl Bauer, who sewed the first bear, joined Paul and Barbara and together they worked on developing the VIB's (Very Important Bears). Using her English literature background, Barbara experimented with a variety of names and puns for these colorful 20" velour bears. The first was Douglas Bearbanks, based on the legendary silent film star. He was followed by Scarlett O'Beara, Chef Bearnaise and Amelia Bearheart. The VIB's are all eventually retired to make room for new introductions and often increase in dramatically in value on the secondary market.
The next major line to be introduced was the VanderBear Family, created in 1983. This family of classic golden jointed teddy bears including father Cornelius, mother Alice, brother Fuzzy, sister Fluffy, and baby Muffy her friend Hoppy VanderHare, her dog Lulu and her cat Purrlie. Each member of the family was available in a variety of high quality and detailed costumes. All the family members have been retired for several years.
Muffy is still available and continues to be a runaway best seller.
More recently, North American Bear Co. has diversified into a full range of plush creations including dogs, cats, bunnies, monkeys, and pigs. Each has it's own original look and name.
Albert the Running Bear who started it all, is now the subject of three children's books published by Houghton Mifflin that Barbara co-authored.
All of the products are created by an in-house team of designers in their New York studio, while the NABCO warehouse is located in Chicago.
"Life is One Big Dress Up"
In the spring of 1984, Muffy VanderBear came to life as the fifth and littlest (7" tall) member of the VanderBear Family, which includes papa Cornelius (20" tall), mamma Alice (18"tall), twin brother and sister, Fuzzy and Fluffy (both (12" tall). Like the rest of her family, Muffy has rich golden plush fur, felt pawpads, a fully-jointed body and a hand stitched nose. Because papa Cornelius firmly believes that "clothes make the bear," Muffy and her family are always sure to be appropriately dressed for every occasion. Muffy first appeared in a delicate white Christening gown, hardly knowing that many outfits and collections would later be created for her.
Particularly fond of adventure, celebrations and world travel, the VanderBears always go in style. Their "All Paws on Deck" outfits are inspired by summery nautical garb while their "A Taste O' Honey Collection" recalls the pleasure and tradition of fun family activities. Warm holiday spirits are evoked by Norwegian customs in "The North Pole Collection". Other collections have been created around themes as varied as the "Wild West and "English High Tea". All of their outfits were designed with a unique mix of gentle humor, creativity and attention to historical detail. New collections are introduced each season while some of the earlier collections are retired. Retierd Collections are often available dressed on the bears or the outfits can be purchased separately.
Though she shares many collections with her family, Muffy has an array of imaginative, whimsical outfits and accessories, made especially for her. Muffy outfits can range from a boxed limited editions which are beautiful Muffy fantasies, while other outfits are well-suited to imaginative play in which Muffy shares her activities and hobbies with you. Many collections include artful accessories like wooden furniture, watches, stationary and figurines. Muffy also loves dressing up and playing with her friends' especially Oatsie the pony and Hoppy VanderHare (Muffy's "bosom bunny).
Muffy's charm and love for dressing up have made her a bit of a celebrity, leading to the creation of the international Muffy VanderBear Fan Club. Some of Muffy's most dramatic RETIRED outfits are found in the club exclusive limited editions. The past Muffy Butterfly and Muffy Rose were exquisite collectibles. Princess Muffy and the Pea. Wearing a beautiful nightgown, she is accompanied by a bed complete with a stack of mattresses and the dastardly pea. She truly gives charm to the classic storybook role.
New offerings are always on the way from North American Bear, and are sure to delight bear lovers, collectors and (of course) Muffy and the VanderBears for years to come.