Care Bears return to cuddle a new generation in The Hub’s “Welcome to Care-A-Lot”

It’s a good time to be a popular 1980s toy. With Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, The Smurfs, Pound Puppies and My Little Pony all enjoying resurgences on TV or the big screen, it was only a matter of time before the Care Bears came out of hibernation. Care Bears: Welcome to Care-A-Lot, which premieres 8am Saturday on The Hub, will transport young ones (and their nostalgia-loving moms) to a high-above-the-earth land where the belly-badge bears have all sorts of whimsical adventures.

Old friends like Harmony Bear, Cheer Bear, Funshine Bear, Tenderheart Bear, Share Bear and Grumpy Bear are back, along with the newest addition, little Wonderheart Bear. Executive Producer Sarah Finn answered some questions about the new look of the Care Bears, and why they remain so popular.

Channel Guide Magazine: Why bring back Care Bears? Why now? 
Sarah Finn: Since the Care Bears have seen several iterations over the past 30 years, almost every age group has “grown up” with the Bears — moms in their 20s and 30s, teens and tweens and now we’re excited to introduce them to kids 2-7.

CGM: Did you need to change a lot about Care Bears to increase their appeal to today’s audiences?
SF: The caring and sharing message of the brand is universal and timeless and every time the favorite characters come back in entertainment and product it’s a success. For this re-launch we were able to use the latest in CGI fur texture software to make the Bears more huggable than ever.  We also have an adorable new addition to the Care Bear team, Wonderheart , who represents the average age of our viewer.

CGM: What have you heard from the public about the idea of bringing Care Bears back? Are they excited? Worried?
SF: Excited! We have over 100 thousand fans on Facebook and response to the re-launch has been huge. Our heritage moms in particular are super-excited to be able to introduce the Care Bears to their children.

Wonderheart Bear

CGM: What I kept noticing in the pilot was how well the CG animation seemed to fit. You can now see the individual hairs on the each bear. How has the new look affected the kind of stories you can tell? 

SF: Our creative team worked hard to create a beautiful new look for Care-a-Lot. The environments look amazing, and each of the Bears’ respective homes really represent their personality traits. Now that the Bears seem even more “real” on the screen, we thought a perfect story to tell is that children from Earth get to spend a day of adventure with the Care Bears.

CGM: Speaking of which, what sort of stories and adventures can we expect in Welcome to Care-a-Lot? Who are the bad guys? 
SF: Every episode is a fun, humorous adventure in Care-a-Lot. Most of our episodes feature a child from Earth receiving a Care ‘n Share charm from Tenderheart, which becomes their passport to a day of adventure in Care-a-Lot with the Care Bears. There is a new little bad guy on the scene — Beastly. But don’t worry, he’s more of a comical [and quite cuddly looking] antagonist rather than a villain. He’s like a naughty kid on the playground — he just needs some help and guidance from the Care Bears at times.

CGM: Are you taking any inspiration from the popularity of the revival of another ’80s property, My Little Pony
SF: We are very lucky to have a solid evergreen property in the Care Bears, just as Hasbro has with My Little Pony. Consumers have been coming back to the Bears for 30 years because of the cute characters and their enduring personalities, their huggability and their timeless messages of caring and sharing. We had a great success refreshing our Strawberry Shortcake brand in 2009 and we’re sure the new Care Bears will be just as favorably received.

CGM: Tell me about Wonderheart Bear. 
SF: She’s pink, cuddly and full of joy! Our newest addition to the Care Bears family is a curious cute fur-ball who is always filled with questions. All she wants in the world is to be a part of the older bear’s adventures and her belly badge — a little heart — will gain power as she grows.

Photos: Courtesy of The Hub