5 fun facts about Bearbrick and tips on toy investment

SINGAPORE - The world's tallest Bearbrick 8000%, standing at 5.6 metres in height, has arrived at Raffles City. Also at the shopping mall is the all-new Raffles City Bearbrick Candy Cane 2000%, designed exclusively by ActionCity in partnership with Medicom Toy.

For those who have seen the Christmas installation of bear-like figures standing tall outside Raffles City, but are unfamiliar with Bearbrick and wish to find out more, read on!

The world's tallest Bearbrick is now at Raffles City. PHOTO: ActionCity
The world's tallest Bearbrick is now at Raffles City. PHOTO: ActionCity

Would you believe it if I told you that a plastic teddy bear could fetch hundreds and thousands of dollars in investment? Yes, Bearbrick, the collectible display toys known for being resold for multiples of their original price is rooted in reality.

Yahoo Life SEA spoke with Cheong Zhaoyong, avid art toy collector and Group Brand Director for ActionCity and Pop Mart SA, to learn more about Bearbrick and its investment value. With more than 10 years of international business, marketing and branding experience, Zhaoyong holds a strong appreciation for the Bearbrick form celebrating the beauty of artisanal materials such as pewter by Royal Selangor.

We have put together five fun facts about Bearbrick, if they are worth investing in, and where to find and own them in Singapore.

Fun fact 1: The first Bearbrick started as a freebie in Japan

Released on 27 May 2001, the first Bearbrick was a swag in the goodie bag given out to World Character Convention attendees in Tokyo, Japan. The white bear featured a Bearbrick logo in a blue bear shape with a red "@". Measuring 70mm, this marked the standard 100% size of Bearbricks.

Interestingly, Medicom was initially commissioned to produce a gift based on its Kubrick toy, a Lego-like humanoid figure named after the famous filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. However, due to the extensive order and the short turnaround time, founder Tastuhiko Akashi got creative. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of teddy bears, he morphed the Kubrick and teddy bear forms, and Bearbrick was born. The creation, Bearbrick, took the form of an anthropomorphic bear figurine with a potbelly and movable parts. It was an instant hit, and the rest is history.

Fun fact 2: Bearbricks come in different sizes and are referred to in percentages

The Bearbrick figure is based on a standard bear-shaped form comprising of nine parts with five joints and typically come in three different sizes: 100% (70 mm), 400% (280 mm) and 1000% (700 mm). You may have also seen the 50% (35mm), which usually take the form of keychains.

Fun fact 3: Bearbricks come in "Series" and "Types"

Categorised into "Series" and "Types", there are two drops a year, during summer and winter. For the uninitiated, here's a quick rundown of what's available:

Bearbrick. PHOTO: ActionCity
Bearbrick. PHOTO: ActionCity

Basic — Each figure bears a letter that spells "BE@RBRICK". There are nine designs in all.

Artist — A collaboration with an artist.

Secret — Rare, unrevealed designs that may also consist of collaborations.

Jellybean — Solid-coloured and made of translucent plastic.

Pattern — The design bears a pattern, as its name suggests.

Flag — A rendition of a nation's flag.

Horror — Based on a character in the horror genre.

SF (Science Fiction) — Inspired by a science fiction theme, usually a movie.

Cute — A cute figure.

Animal — An animal figure.

Hero — Includes superheroes from DC Comics.

Fun fact 4: There is an actual brand called 'OriginalFake'

As our research produced a number of products dubbed 'OrginalFake', we got curious and verified with the Group Brand Director, Zhaoyong. He clarified that "'OriginalFake' refers to an actual brand set up by the US artist KAWS (Brian Donnelly) with Medicom Toy and Nexus 7 in 2006, as a label for their collaborations in toys and fashion. The brand was created out of the need to combat counterfeit KAWS toys, but officially closed down in 2013 after a 7-year run."

For those who are considering purchasing a Bearbrick, he advises, "The best and only foolproof way to ensure that you are acquiring an original Bearbrick is always the source of your purchase. ActionCity is the only authorised partner for Medicom Toy in the region. Thus every Bearbrick purchase from us is guaranteed original and not a counterfeit. In fact, many resellers in the market show the authenticity of the Bearbricks they have by producing their receipts of purchase from ActionCity."

[Read] All about artist Brian Donnelly and Kaws merchandise

Fun fact 5: The most expensive Bearbrick sold for S$230,000!

But what's the value of Bearbricks? Is it just a toy? As shared by Zhaoyong, the most expensive Bearbrick 'Qiu Tu' 1000%, created by Chinese contemporary artist Yue Minjun in 2008, was auctioned for approximately S$230,000 just a few years ago.

"Another notable 'grail' piece among collectors is the Chanel 1000% Bearbrick produced in 2006, which is Bearbrick's first notable foray into the world of high fashion. Designed by Karl Lagerfeld with signature elements of Chanel with a monochrome tweed suit pearls, sunglasses and a Camellia flower, this was originally used in Chanel window displays worldwide before being gifted to VIP clients. This design was then released in 2007 in 1000% form (with a limited edition of 1000) for a charity event in Hong Kong. Despite this, the Chanel Bearbrick remains as one of most elusive and highly collectible Bearbrick on the market, with the current asking price on StockX to be upwards of S$100,000 (as of November 2021) – more than 50 times increase from the original selling price!"

Bearbricks for investment. Yes or No?

For those who are new to collectable toys, here's Zhaoyong's take, "The Bearbrick world is vast, so (it's) probably not the easiest to collect every single piece out there. Thus, as with any other passion or hobby, it is best to identify what relates most to you, and perhaps begin from there. For example, if you are a Star Wars or Marvel fan, you can consider checking out the Star Wars/Marvel x Bearbrick designs out there and their availability. Or if you have always been a fan of certain artists like Andy Warhol or Jean-Michel Basquiat, many Bearbrick designs inspired by the art pieces from these greats will definitely fit into your collection."

If you are thinking of collecting Bearbricks as a form of investment, he advises, "For new collectors, we would advise against focusing on Bearbrick as investment pieces. The core of Bearbrick is an art form celebrating pop culture. It is meant to be a source of joy and inspiration for collectors. Collecting based on trying to estimate the spike in aftermarket pricing will be more speculative than investing, and takes the joy away from toy collecting."

"We won't endorse collecting a Bearbrick solely for investment value. As with any other collection, the best way to start is really to seek out pieces which appeal to you aesthetically with emotional values."

See the world's tallest Bearbrick

The Steve Harrington Collection. PHOTO: ActionCity
The Steve Harrington Collection. PHOTO: ActionCity

In collaboration with Raffles City, ActionCity brings yuletide joys in the form of the world's tallest Bearbrick Christmas centrepiece and limited-edition Bearbrick merchandise. Check out the pop-up Bearbrick gallery, which houses a wide range of the Bearbrick figurines in 1000%. This is your chance to get started in art toy collection.

While you are at Raffles City, take some time to view The Steven Harrington collection at Raffles City level one. The special spotlight on the Los Angeles-based artist features a melange of funky art, apparel, and merchandise, including the 21st-anniversary commemorative ActionCity BearBrick designed by Steven Harrington. Instagram-worthy shots are aplenty around the mall.

The Bearbrick Candy Cane 100%, an exclusive toy collectable designed for Raffles City by ActionCity, is redeemable from 30 November onwards with a single spend of S$300 at Raffles City. In addition, shoppers who spend S$100 in a single receipt can redeem a set of Bearbrick gift wrappers, while stocks last.

The Love, BE@RBRICK Christmas Campaign runs from now till 26 December 2021.

Visit Raffles City, #01-22.

The world's tallest Bearbrick has arrived at Raffles City. PHOTO: ActionCity
The world's tallest Bearbrick has arrived at Raffles City. PHOTO: ActionCity

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