I am too old to have enjoyed the first incarnation of many of the nostalgic toy brands that are still popular today, such as Care Bears, My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake. Those three things came after my time. The big girl toys of my day were Holly Hobby, old style Fisher Price (that was, gasp, made in America), and Dawn dolls, or, at least, that's what I played with. I was already growing out of the Muppets in their heyday, but I still loved them. So it came as something of a surprise when, after my daughter's well-loved and overused Care Bear plate broke, that I started to look on ebay for a replacement and realized that, like me, these characters have changed over the years. Unlike me, they are getting brighter, thinner and glossier, but also creepier. To wit:
Now, it's not on the grounds of sentimentalism that I am basing my complaints; I wasn't a fan of these characters as a child. Every redesign or new character seems to be getting thinner, while the American populace is getting fatter, and they all have huge eyes. The new versions are slicker and shinier, but less cuddly and nuanced. If you look at the left hand side of the pictures, they are warmer and more real (if babies wearing bonnets playing with cutsy animals, colorful bears playing on a cloud or rainbow-haired blue ponies could be real).
In my research, I found many people were already aware of this phenomenon; people who, I must assume, have a lot more free time than me. Some say the newer versions are sexier. I say, those of us who are finding bears, ponies, and little girls who dress like fruit sexy should perhaps find help somewhere. I just find them all more flat and artificial. I miss warm children's characters. Maybe it's just easier to make them into a figurine when they already look plastic.