Lotso Bear is an unusual animated character in that he appears, at first glance, to be nothing but sweet and cuddly…but he’s really bitter, vengeful, even sadistic. Anyone who’s seen the film he’s featured in, 2010’s Toy Story 3, will recall how this villain imprisons and even tries to kill Buzz Lightyear and his friends.
This character runs a day care center full of toys like a dictator, and he will seek revenge on anyone who tries to cross him.
So why do so many kids want to cuddle up with Lotso Bear? (The name, by the way, is short for Lotso Huggin’.)
Maybe when kids bring Lotso Bear home they create a new personality or identity for him. Maybe they understand that he’s just an actor playing a role on screen, and that in real life he’s really as kind and cuddly as he appears.
Maybe they’re fans of Ned Beatty, who provides the character’s voice. (Beatty is famous for his roles as Rudy’s father in the Notre Dame football drama Rudy and for his performance in the movie Deliverance, which hopefully kids haven’t seen.) Or maybe kids are just attracted to the bad boy.
Whatever the appeal of Lotso Bear is, there’s no denying he has plenty of it to spare; these toys have been selling furiously since Toy Story 3 came out in the summer of 2010. (This movie was a long awaited sequel to 1995’s Toy Story and 1999’s Toy Story 2—the most popular movie of 2010 in terms of ticket sales. Lotso Bear was not featured in those earlier two films, by the way.)
These stuffed animals can cost anywhere from ten dollars to seventy dollars and up. Generally speaking, the more you pay for a Lotso Bear, the more features the bear will include; the ten dollar versions are small, soft pink bears without special features.
The more expensive stuffed animals, on the other hand, actually smell like strawberries, an attribute that the movie character brags about. Many of the more expensive versions also include the walking stick that he needs to move around—he’s advancing in age in the film.
It’s interesting to note, too, that different toys come with different facial expressions. Some are smiling brightly, with the eyes wide; those toys look delighted to see you. Other toys, however, reveal the bear’s true nature: they’re snarling, the brows furrowed in anger and frustration.
There are also small Lotso Bear plastic figurines you can buy; these often come in a playset featuring many of the other characters from Toy Story 3 as well.
It’s unclear whether or not the movie studio Pixar will release any more Toy Story films for Lotso Bear to perform in. But kids who love Toy Story 3 will enjoy creating their own adventures starring these toys at home, and this pink strawberry-scented conniver will no doubt continue acting as a cruel villain in many of those stories.