Unfortunately, Build-A-Bear’s Sex Bears Are Back to Ruin Valentine’s Day

Build-A-Bear's suggestive "After Dark" line of stuffed animals for adults is back to haunt us

Neon Sign reads "Build-A-Bear After Dark"
Build-A-Bear After Dark! Why!

Last year, I was shocked and confused to learn that Build-A-Bear, the children’s toy company that got its start conning parents into paying to let their offspring build their own stuffed animals in the saddest corners of malls around the country, now sells an “After Dark” line of bears for adults. For nearly 12 months, I’ve largely managed to repress this knowledge and avoid thinking about Build-A-Bear and its foray into pseudo-adult products. Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means that Build-A-Bear and its sex bears are back just in time to ruin the holiday.

This year, Build-A-Bear’s “After Dark” collection is protected behind a warning that shoppers are about to enter the “Bear Cave,” and must confirm that they are 18 years or older to proceed into the treasure trove of “unexpected collabs and unique plush gifts.” I can only assume that this age-verification process is tongue-in-cheek, considering none of the “adult” products actually appear to be overtly sexual. Most of the “adult” bears simply signal they are above the age of consent by sporting a bottle of champagne or rosé stitched to one paw, and sometimes wearing a cheeky T-shirt that says something like, “I love you,” or, “Not today, Cupid.” Honestly, the most suggestive thing about these bears is that their clothes come off. Build-A-Bear gives you a full-frontal view if you wave your cursor over your sex bear of choice, revealing the bears are naked under their clothes. (But then again, aren’t we all?) While this is a little disturbing, the bears don’t seem to have genitals or anything, so I’m not sure why the company felt the need to sexualize their line of “adult” products.

According to a promo on the After Dark page, these products are simply “stuffed animals for adults who are just kids at heart.” While I have some questions about what kind of adult wants a stuffed animal — I’m assuming there’s probably some overlap with Disney adults — none of this really seems overtly sexual beyond the seemingly unnecessary “Build-A-Bear After Dark” packaging. As I wrote last year, Build-A-Bear’s weird attempt to seem sexy without actually being sexual seems to represent everything that is wrong with the American sexual disposition: “a simultaneous obsession with and terror of sexuality, with a side of predatory fetishization of youth.” It’s not sex but it’s not sex! It’s for children, but it’s a sex thing for adults!

More importantly, however, stuffed animals are not a good gift for adults. I don’t care how sexy they are or how much they like their bubbly. So, once again, I find myself humbly requesting that if you want to buy your love a sexy gift for Valentine’s Day this year, please don’t get it from Build-A-Bear.

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