Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bear Family Gift Set Box

I’ve been feeling a bit unwell, the weather has been cold and wet, and every time I tune in the news it’s something upsetting: it is little surprise that all I’ve aspired to do for the past few days is hibernate.

Speaking of hibernation… here’s the not-often-seen Black Bear Family Gift Set box. I was working on my inventory earlier today and found myself stopping to admire it:

In 1973, Breyer discontinued the individual members of the Bear, Deer, and Cow Families, and reissued them the following year in Family Gift Sets. Unlike the various Horse Family Gift Sets that were also being issued at the time, the Nonhorse Gift Sets eschewed photographs and aimed for a more graphic look: they were basically very sophisticated, multicolored versions of the illustrated shipper boxes Breyer favored in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The more basic one-color illustrated shipper boxes continued to be used on bulkier items that were still shipped/sold in corrugated boxes (Wildlife and Cattle, mostly) and on some Christmas catalog items, particularly ones sold via the Sears Wishbook.

Most average/normal consumers preferred photographs to illustrations (heathens!), so this packaging experiment didn’t go far or last long. The original Bear Family Gift Set was discontinued in 1976, and the Deer and Cow Families eventually switched to more conventional boxes later in their runs.

This is a shame, because all three of those original boxes – and the Bear Family box, in particular – are really quite beautiful. If I had the time and the gumption, I’d scan them and blow them up to poster size.

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