A stuffed toy is a toy sewn from a textile, and stuffed with a soft material. In North American English they are variously referred to as plush toys, plushies, or stuffed animals while in British English they are soft toys or cuddly toys.
Textiles commonly used include plain cloth and pile textiles like plush or terrycloth. Common stuffing materials are synthetic fiber batting, cotton, straw, wood wool, plastic pellets or beans. Stuffed toys are made in many different forms, often resembling animals, legendary creatures, cartoon characters or inanimate objects. They are often used as comfort objects, for display or collecting and given as gifts, such as for graduation, Valentine's Day or birthdays.
History and types
The first commercial concern to create stuffed toys was the German Steiff company in 1880. Steiff used new technology developed for upholstery to make their stuffed toys. In 1903 Richard Steiff designed a soft bear that differed from earlier traditional rag dolls, because it was made of plush furlike fabric. At the same time in the USA, Morris Michtom created the first teddy bear, after being inspired by a drawing of Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt with a bear cub. The character Peter Rabbit from English author Beatrix Potter was the first stuffed toy to be patented, in 1903.
Sock monkeys are a type of handmade stuffed monkeys made out of socks that first appeared in the US during the Great Depression. Amigurumi is a Japanese type of handcrafted knitted or crocheted stuffed toys. Amigurumi are typically made to look cute with oversized heads and undersized extremities.
Several brands of electronic and robotic plush toys were fads when they were first released. These include Tickle Me Elmo, a laughing and shaking plush toy based on the character Elmo from the Sesame Street television show, released in 1996, Furby, a robotic talking plush toy with its own language, released in 1998 and Zhu Zhu Pets, a line of robotic plush hamsters released in 2009.
Some brands of stuffed toys use marketing strategies to encourage the collection of a series of stuffed toys, such as Beanie Babies.
Webkinz stuffed animals were created by Ganz in 2005. Each Webkinz toy comes with a unique "Secret Code" that gives access to the Webkinz World website and a virtual version of the toy for online play. Disney's Club Penguin and Build-A-Bearville from Build-A-Bear Workshop are other online worlds with content that can be unlocked from codes found on associated stuffed toys.
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