Build-A-Bear Workshop has provoked disgust, and maybe lust, with an “After Dark” collection of adults-only stuffed animals in stock for Valentine’s Day.
The online exclusive product line from the St. Louis, Mo.-based toy store features some uncomfortably suggestive stuffed animals — like a monkey dressed like a male stripper or a bear wearing a robe straight from the Playboy Mansion.
“These Valentine’s gifts are designed to delight a partner with a playfully romantic gesture, make a Galentine smile with a cheeky message, or induce a blush from your crush over a plush,” Build-A-Bear said in a news release last month announcing the collection.
|BUILD A BEAR WORKSHOP INC
“Largely an adult-to-adult giving holiday, Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to consider Build-A-Bear for a
surprising, unique statement to make your recipient ‘LOL,’” the company said.
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Featured plush toys include a stuffed lion with a “Zaddy” shirt — slang for an attractive older man — and the “You Turn Me On” teddy bear gift set.
The “After Dark” collection is age-restricted to customers 18 and older and is marketed toward “kidults,” according to Build-A-Bear.
“The increased popularity of Build-A-Bear among adults is part of the ‘kidulting’ trend in which adults lean into childhood memories and search for collectibles that appeal to the playful nature of this older consumer through rekindling their youth with nostalgic gifts,” the news release said.
But there’s plenty of adults who saw targeted ads for a sexy teddy bear on social media and were just creeped out.
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“Please excuse me whilst I be violently sick,” London-based marketing strategist Alice Waterman-Hale posted on X, formerly Twitter.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Waterman-Hale wondered aloud whether the adult toys “had been created just to upset people.”
If so, mission accomplished.
“Why am I getting BAB thirst traps,” an Instagram user commented on a Build-A-Bear post advertising a stuffed animal with the “Zaddy” shirt.
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“IS THIS NOT FOR CHILDREN???” another user wrote.
“Seriously, this is cringe,” said another.
But Kaleanne Hearn of Aiken, South Carolina, told the Journal that she couldn’t wait to get her hands on one of the adults-only push toys after seeing the outrage on social media. She ordered a pink stuffed devil-bear with a bow tie, cuffs and heart-covered boxers.
“He may be a little devious. He can be a stripper on the side,” Heard told the paper. “But he’s still cute.”
Build-A-Bear CEO Sharon Price John said the “After Dark” products are selling quickly.
“We want to be sure we’re recognizing the evolution of what people want,” she told the Journal. “Build-A-Bear’s intention is always to be an upstanding, appropriate, guest-facing brand.”
She added that Build-A-Bear is a “fun brand.”
“They’re stuffed animals.”
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