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It all begins here…

John Hales and Christine Nicholls were eager to start their own toy business having gained considerable experience in their previous roles at the Chad Valley company. With great enthusiasm, they created Golden Bear Products Ltd which rapidly became a leading manufacturer of soft toys with the emphasis on quality, safety and reliability. The Shropshire based company swung into production with 26 employees making bespoke toys for their first 4 customers which were Mothercare, Boots, BHS and Woolworths.

The very first catalogue

In 1981 Golden Bear Toys launched their first catalogue, featuring the iconic Golden Bear soft toy on the cover.

Golden Bear Grows

These next few years saw a doubling of turnover each year and by the mid 80’s the company had moved to its third home situated in Wrockwardine Wood. A huge emphasis was placed on producing great designs and excellent quality whilst building an excellent reputation in the industry.

The Snowman

The Snowman toys were launched by Golden Bear and as its first character licensed range achieved enormous success in the early days of licensed properties.

More characters come to life

More characters were added to the portfolio such as Royal Doulton Bunnykins, Brambly Hedge and other classic characters such as Wind in the Willows.

Edd the Duck

Edd the Duck had become another successful BBC character and joined the ever-growing portfolio of licenses.

Even more exciting, Edd became the Olympic mascot for the British team.

Moving on up

Golden Bear relocated to a new purpose-built office and warehouse facility in Hortonwood. Most of the manufacturing moved to the Far East but the company continued to focus on using their design expertise in the UK to create ‘must-have’ products. The new headquarters of 68,000sq ft became the lovely new home for the creative, sales, marketing, warehouse and despatch departments.

Time for more preschool classics

More preschool classics were added this year – Bananas in Pyjamas, Noddy, Pingu, Postman Pat, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine.

New categories

The company had started to diversify into other product categories, expanding our capabilities, and achieved great success with a vehicle range called ‘My First Thomas’ based on the ever-popular Thomas the Tank Engine.

Teletubbies say “Eh-oh!”

Golden Bear signed a licensing deal with BBC Worldwide to produce the Teletubbies and the first 4 soft toys were launched the following year with great excitement.

Winners of Toy of the Year

The soft toy versions of Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po were an enormous success and Golden Bear won the coveted ‘Toy of the Year’ award. The Teletubbies range expanded considerably over the following years with more plush and plastic lines being added.

Back to the classics

A resurgence of nostalgic characters saw the introduction of characters such as Bagpuss, Clangers and Rainbow whilst classics such as Noddy and Thomas continued to do well. Many more characters joined the collection from Brum and Shaun the Sheep to Charlie & Lola and Pingu.

Olympic Mascots

Golden Bear won the ultimate accolade – the licence to make the Olympic Mascots for the London Olympics 2012. Wenlock and Mandeville were developed into an extensive range of plush and plastic toys along with keyrings, figurines, character backpacks and accessories. The Team GB mascot, Pride the Lion also launched at the same time to support the British team.

A very busy Hong Kong office

An exciting new concept called Bush Baby World was launched featuring cute characters with wiggle waggle eyes and ears. The range achieved distribution into 50+ countries which kept the Golden Bear Hong Kong office very busy with production and shipments worldwide.

Golden Bear Turns 40!

Golden Bear celebrated its 40th Anniversary and in the same year launched Bing – a wonderful preschool character to add to the portfolio.

Bing & Flop Turn Heads at the Toy Fair

The annual Toy Fair at London Olympia always creates excitement around our new product launches. On this occasion, Bing and Flop welcome visitors to the stand where all our lovely toys are showcased.

Experts in play

Golden Bear Toys are still developing innovative, creative and super-fun toys for those well-known children’s TV shows such as Hey Duggee, Bing and In The Night Garden as well as a variety of other toys and games designed with one goal in mind; fun!

Learn more about Golden Bear