While it may be confusing to some, there is a definite distinction between bear plush toys and teddy bear plush toys. Teddy bears are almost always referred to as teddy bears or teddy's and rarely, if ever called just bears. Bear plush toys on the other hand, are called bears and there is a design difference between the two.
When teddy bears were first created in 1902 there were modelled after bears grizzly bears, in fact. But since that time, manufacturers have drawn on other kinds of bear for inspiration, particularly the American black bear, the polar bear and the panda. Despite teddy bears initial inspiration for design, while they still look like bears today, they look much different from bear plush toys designed to look like black bears.
Teddy bears went through various design changes until the original creators hit upon a design in 1905 that had instant success. That teddy was available in white, light brown or dark brown plush and was filled with excelsior (a U.S. trade name for wood-wool), and kapok, and jointed with discs. This method of jointing, in which the slippery surfaces of two circles of card held by a cotter pin allow smooth rotation in one plane, is still used today. In 1905, customers could choose from seven sizes and this increased to fourteen in 1910. With its small round ears, black boot-button eyes (black glass eyes were introduced in around 1908 on special orders only), shaved muzzle and stitched nose, plump body and large feet, it had the kind of appeal that few children or adults could resist. In addition, some of the teddy bears came with squeeze boxes or squeakers inside that were made from coiled spring. When the teddy was squeezed in the correct place, the spring was compressed forcing air through a reed to produce a grunt.
Teddy bear plush toys in a way, more resembled dolls but had the appeal of the loveable animal they were modelled after. Bear plush toys, in comparison, do look like wild bears. While they often have movable arms and legs like teddy's do, their bodies are designed to resemble bears and as is the case, they often cannot sit or stand up like teddy's do. Instead, bear plush toys usually remain in the position we would typically see when they are in the wild walking on all fours with both front and back paws placed squarely on the ground.
Despite the slight design differences between teddy bear plush toys and bear plush toys, both are equally lovable and make wonderful companions for any child to have. While most children are provided a teddy bear shortly after their born, sometimes it's nice to change things up and give them a bear plush toy (like a polar bear) every once and while.