Be@rbricks are collectible block-style figures created by Japanese company Medicom Toy. The design concept and name are variations of another popular toy line by Medicom Toy, Kubrick. While Kubrick figures resemble a simplified human form (similar to Lego mini-figures), Be@rbricks feature the head of a bear and a teddy-like pot belly.
The very first Be@rbrick was released on 27 May 2001, it was a free gift to visitors of the World Character Convention 12 in Tokyo, Japan. The 100% design was plain white and featured a red and blue @ symbol on its chest.
More and more Be@rbricks feature some kind of added functionality. Speaker systems, aroma diffusers, USB sticks and others are proof of Medicom Toy’s drive for innovative designs.
Materials & Properties
The standard Be@rbrick is made of hard plastic and usually consists of nine parts, allowing for movement of head, waist, arms, wrists and legs. Over time new material properties and different materials have been introduced, e.g. flocked, glow in the dark and premium materials such as wood and dry carbon. The first 400% figures (as well as the hands of some 100% designs) were made of softer plastic, this changed in 2002 with the KAWS Companion 400% and 1000% figures which featured harder plastic.
There are many types of packaging, ranging from simple plastic bags to regular boxes with and without windows, blister packs, display cases and other more unique solutions.
Be@rbricks are produced in limited numbers and are usually not re-released. While retailers worldwide stock an ever growing number of Be@rbricks due to the general global appeal of the brand, there is still a big focus on the Japanese market and some releases are give-aways or promotional items only. The fact that not every Be@rbrick can be easily purchased, not even in Japan, makes these figures to highly sought-after collectibles.
A “Series” of Be@rbricks is usually released twice a year, in summer and winter. Each Series consists of four different Be@rbrick categories:
BasicsNine designs bearing an individual letter each and together spelling the word “BE@RBRICK”.
StandardsComprised of the recurring themes Jellybean, Pattern, Flag, Horror, SF, Cute, Animal and Hero.
ArtistsUsually two or three designs in close collaboration with renowned artists or brands.
SecretsUnannounced designs, often particularly rare and discovered by the community over time.
All Series are released in blind box assortments. Each box contains a single Be@rbrick and its respective product card. The content of a blind box is only revealed by purchasing and opening the box and thus buying a complete set is more challenging. Retailers usually buy so called master cases from Medicom Toy, each master case contains four cases of 24 blind boxes each. That’s a total of 96 blind boxes per master case and you would need two specific master cases for a full set. Considering that some Secret Be@rbricks have a rarity of 1/192, it is easy to see how “rare” these designs can be.
General Releases throughout the Year
Medicom Toy is releasing a large number of Be@rbricks of varying sizes throughout the year. The majority are individual releases, but some are also released in sets of two or more. Most Be@rbricks can be bought directly from stores, while others are only available through specific events or lottery systems. The designs can be seasonal (Halloween or other holidays), themed to specific events or occasions, and a big portion are collaborations with artists or brands.
Give-aways & Promotional Items
The by far most difficult to collect Be@rbricks are those which are not available for regular purchase. These might be limited give-aways in connection with a purchase, for instance a store celebrating its new clothing line or anniversary; a pre-order for cinema or concert tickets, or presents which are given to staff only during an event. Sometimes it might also be a promotional item which is sent to customers along with a greeting card or given to VIP customers only.
One of a kind
Last but not least, there are the rare one of a kind Be@rbricks which were never intended for distribution, such as exhibition pieces, items on display in stores or at events, as well as specific custom designs. The size of some of these extremely rare designs can exceed 2 metres, also known as 3000% Be@rbricks.
Sizes / Formats
- 50% The height of the smallest Be@rbrick is 35 mm and is predominantly released with an attached keychain/phone strap.
- 70% 50 mm tall, the first 70% Be@rbricks were released in 2006. While initially sold as collectible alongside products such as soft drinks, today this format is also popular as good luck charm, often featuring customizable tags or ornaments like Swarovski crystals.
- 100% The classic version stands 70 mm tall. It is the standard size and the most commonly released format (also featured in all Be@rbrick Series).
- 200% A relative recent and limited format. 200% Be@rbricks are 145 mm tall and are only released as Chogokin-style toys, constructed entirely of die-cast metal and weighing approximately 400g.
- 400% A very popular size amongst collectors and second most common format. 400% Be@rbricks are 280 mm tall and have improved dramatically in regards to material and sturdiness in comparison to early, slightly “wobbly” releases.
- 1000% These "titans" amongst Be@rbricks stand 700 mm tall. Due to their impressive size (and considerably higher price), they can easily be considered a piece of art and a rather exclusive collectible.
- Other A small selection of Be@rbricks are rather unique in size and shape and are therefore categorized as “Other”. These include the ranges “My Friend”, “Light” and “Transformers”.
Medicom Toy has collaborated with various artists, designers, brands and franchises from all over the world. Collectors can find Be@rbricks featuring designs from renowned illustrators, graffiti artists, iconic fashion labels and music bands, movies and TV series, museums, computer games, mascots, comics and many more.
Be@rbricks sometimes accompany or are accompanied by other products, for instance CDs, DVDs, books, magazines or clothing. From time to time Medicom Toy releases cross-over sets which contain Be@rbrick as well as Kubrick figures.
Medicom Toy has worked with several non-profit organizations and charity campaigns, including WWF, Kiss the Earth and Merry Green Christmas. Part of the proceeds from the sale of specific Be@rbrick collaborations have been donated to a good cause.