Raikes Bears are a bit different from the traditional teddy bear. Instead of a soft face made of fabric and stuffing, Raikes Bears have a distinctive look with their carved wooden faces. A popular choice for many years, may be wondering why these bears can’t be found in the toy store still today. Let’s explore the history of Raikes Bears.
Robert Raikes grew up in many different parts of the U.S., and spent some time in England, toured the world on a military tour, and visited Southeast Asia during his formative years, says About.com. Raikes developed a hobby in his middle school years, and became fond of spend hours carving and whittling wood, creating intricately detailed works of art. He started with sculpture, creating items like furniture and carousel horses, and as his talents developed, he even won an award for his work. After this, he decided to turn his passion into a lifelong career.
In the 1970s, Raikes created some of his first dolls at a customer’s request. His dolls had wooden faces with cloth bodies filled with sawdust. This set the stage for his first bears, which rose to prominence in the early ‘80s, says Reference.com.
Raikes bears were unique and distinctive, combining his hand-carved wooden faces with mohair bodies, giving customers something entirely new during an era when teddy bears were really rising in popularity. After receiving such critical acclaim, Raikes approached the company Applause to see if they would license his product. Raikes and Applause came to terms in 1985, and worked together for several years. At the start of the ‘90s, Raikes dissolved this partnership and took back full ownership of his bears, seeking to return quality and consistency to his bears and committing to keeping edition numbers low. This limited number of bears being released only served to make Raikes bears more popular and sought-after, creating the market there is today for these collectible and rare teddy bears.
The company seems to have fallen inactive or closed, and with no new bears hitting the market, collectors continue to seek out those original classics that remind them of their childhood still today. At Gigi’s Dolls, we carry a small selection of Raikes teddy bears and are always happy to help our customers try to find any specific edition if we can. Check out our current Raikes inventory online, stop in and see us on North Northwestern Highway in Chicago, or call us today at 773-594-1540 to learn more.