I don’t remember when I first had the idea to go to Build-A-Bear, but I remember it being several years ago. For some odd reason, the idea of creating my own custom stuffed animal appealed to me. Not to mention that at the time I originally had the idea there were Sanrio characters available and I already had several Hello Kitty plushes.
So at the age of 31, I decided to drag a friend along to the Lynnhaven Mall and build a bear. Here is what I learned throughout the experience.
Your Choices Are Weirdly Limited
Case in point, they had My Little Pony plushes when I went. I would have happily gotten a Pinkie Pie plush, but they didn’t have her. Instead of having the primary characters, they had one odd minor character whose main accomplishment in the show is being vaguely annoying. In other words, they didn’t have a character people would want to purchase instead hosted one that barely made it into Equestria Girls.
I opted for a Sonic the Hedgehog plush instead.
At Build-A-Bear, Everything is Separate and Costs Extra
I was prepared for this, so I knew not to take the bait. You can add a sound clip into your stuffed animal so it would talk or play music when you hugged it. That cost extra. You can add a plastic chip of some kind that would make the toy smell nice for up to a year. That cost extra.
Don’t even get me started on the clothing. Dressing your animal can easily cost more than the stuffed animal itself. I opted for my Sonic to remain naked. As nature intended. Then there was the heart. I’ll get to that later.
You Don’t Actually Stuff Your Own Bear
This was what I was seriously looking forward to, even vaguely remember seeing done before. I thought you would actually stuff the bear yourself. But due to most likely mechanical complications and the fact that kids are unsanity germ factories, the sales associate stuffs the bear while you put your foot down on a harmless pedal. I was less than pleased about this development.
So Build-A-Bear Creeped me out a Little
Okay, so the heart. After the Sonic was stuffed the sales associate asked me which heart I wanted to put inside. I could either go for a simple, fabric heart, or one that had a heartbeat. The heartbeat heart was a small dark red plastic object that the bear stuffer let us both feel alone and inside of my Sonic plushie.
I have no advice on how to prepare yourself for the sensory experience of a stuffed animal’s heart beating. It was weird. I opted to go with the fabric heart. Mainly because I was worried the toy might go off at random and I would be walking through the living room in my apartment to suddenly hear a heart beating and go all Edgar Allen Poe on the floorboards.
It was a bit anti-climactic to realize the most active thing I would be doing for this stuffed animal would be picking out its clothes. Which, really, you can do any toy store that offers this feature. There isn’t a lot of “building” going on a Build-A-Bear. More like… selecting.
I have to take my hat off to them though. I did not expect the whole creepy heartbeat aspect of the adventure. That definitely made me question life and technology and what are we doing with either or both. Considering that there are seven-year-old kids out there getting their heartbeat put into the bear without a second thought, I think that deserves a salute from me.