First of all we picked out a bear for each of the boys. There’s a good range for boys to choose from. H picked the Camo Bear which seems designed with boys in mind. Meanwhile L picked the Paddington Bear. There were a number of bears (and other cuddly animals like dogs) that could easily be for either a boy or a girl.
With our Build A Bear chosen we picked up an empty bearskin. Basically this is a floppy, stuffingless version of the bear that you can see on display. I think it’s worth explaining how the process works before you get to the store, otherwise your child might be a bit perplexed about why their bear is so thin and floppy. Prices for bears start at £13.50 (at time of writing, but check before you visit), our Camo Bear was £15 and L’s Paddington was £13.50.
Next we picked out a sound for our bears. There was a good range of sounds to choose from (around 15-20). You can also choose to record your own sound. We opted for a snoring sound and L wanted a 5 in 1 sound chip with various phases on it. Sounds available included a dog, a giggle, the Paddington theme and Happy Birthday. Most of the sound chips cost £2.50. The only slight disappointment was that the Star Wars theme was unavailable. It was marked as unavailable, but that doesn’t stop a child pressing the button, hearing it and wanting it. You can pick where in your bear you want your sound chip: hand, foot or tummy.
Next we moved round onto the stuffing machine. This was great fun. We had the chance to add a scent to our bears. This costs £2.50. The strawberry, bubblegum, chocolate and cupcake all had strong smells. I found it difficult to smell the cotton candy fragrance, but this was the one that H choose. They are all pleasant scents and add an extra dimension to your bear. H and L both enjoyed stepping on the footplate to work the stuffing machine and see their bears coming to life before their eyes.
Before the bear is sewn up, you pick a heart for your bear and give it some special magic. The boys enjoyed rubbing the hearts on their heads to give the bears brains, on their arms to give the bears strength, etc. Each bear comes with a heart, but you can upgrade to a beating heart if you prefer. At this stage the staff insert a bar code which enables a bear to be reunited with its owner if it is lost. So if you lose your Build A Bear friend or find a lost one, you can contact the shop to try to reunite bear and owner.
Well there’s loads of fun to be had here. There were a wide range of outfits and accessories. You can choose from a range of night things like pyjamas and dressing gowns, which would be lovely for a bedtime bear. There are fashion sets with a wide range of sets of clothes from formal wear, through casual to workwear with firemen’s costumes and chef’s outfits. Both boys picked out costumes from films: H had Darth Vader and L had Ironman. The Ironman costume looked a little snug on the Paddington Bear, but it did fit. H’s Darth Vader Bear looked the business with his very own light sabre.
Next up was naming the bears and creating their birth certificates. I’m delighted to announce that our new additions are called Peter and Ironbaby.
Take Me Home
Our new Build A Bear friends were given their own carry case (these are included in the price) to go home in. These hold the bears nicely and are good, strong boxes. They can also be coloured in or painted at home to individualise them.
Build A Bear
Build A Bear is a fun day out. We were there for around an hour (we were pretty quick getting round), but you could easily spend quite a lot longer there. Our bears cost £31.50 and £42 respectively, but you could pick up a bear and an outfit for about £23 if you didn’t have extras. I’d suggest setting a budget and expectations before arrival. Or you could ask family and friends to buy vouchers to help spread the cost.
Also, there is a lot of choice especially for outfits and accessories, so it might be worth looking online before you go, so that you have some idea of what you want. I’d say that Build A Bear a great rainy day activity and perfect for a winter birthday treat. Inevitably, the shop will be busier in school holidays and at weekends, so you might want to choose a quieter time to visit if you have the chance. That said, we went at 11am on a day during the Easter holidays and whilst it was busy, it wasn’t too packed and it didn’t impact on our enjoyment.