2001 by Medicom Toy
The first BE@RBRICK was birthed by MediCom Toy in Japan in 2001, and no one could have anticipated the subsequent impact it would have on popular culture. The bear-like figure has attracted an impressive array of star-studded collabs, which bridges streetwear, fashion and art in a colourful flurry of desirable collectibles, and it has moved into art galleries as well as the homes of A-list celebrities. (Pharrell Williams and BAPE’s Nigo being just two stalwart fans.)
BE@RBRICKS are collectable figures comprised of nine parts — a head, torso, hips, arms, hands, and legs with joints that can move, which come in a range of materials, although most frequently plastic. They also come in different sizes: 50% (35 mm), 70% (50 mm), 100% (70 mm), 200% (145 mm), 400% (280 mm) and 1000% (700 mm), with the most common format being 100%.
The figures are sold in series with two drops a year, with the series in turn consisting of four types (basic, standard, artist and secret.) The standard category can be further sub-divided into different recurring themes, and each BE@RBRICK series and theme also has its own level of rarity. Adding to this the fact that the standard figures are sold in blind boxes, collecting a whole set becomes really tricky, which is part of the allure. Don’t mistake it for a toy, though.
The cult-declared character belongs to one of the most recognized on the planet and has moved into the art sphere much thanks to collaborations with the likes of KAWS, Warhol and Haring, with the rarer releases hammering home thousands of dollars on the re-sell market. The most expensive one being the ‘Qiu Tu’ 1000% Bearbrick (2008), a one-off design created by Chinese contemporary artist Yue Minjun, which sold for a staggering $157,000 at auction.
Embraced by the streetwear and fashion communities alike, some notable collabs include KAWS, BAPE, Star Wars, Undercover, Disney, Chanel, Supreme, Fendi, Futura, fragment design and Comme des Garçons. Below we’ve listed some (not all) notable BE@RBRICK highlights
The first BE@RBRICK is released as a gift to visitors of the World Character Convention 12 in Tokyo.
Acclaimed graphic artist Brian Donnely, AKA KAWS, is behind the KAWS “Chompers” 1000% BE@RBRICK , complete with the “X”-ed out eyes, in conjunction with the Japanese music festival a-nation. It is the first of many collabs to come.
MediCom teams up with Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market for the Comme des Garçons “Happy Ribbon” 1000% BE@RBRICK .
The Coco Chanel 1000% BE@RBRICK is released. It is designed by Karl Lagerfeld and dressed in Chanel’s signature tweed suit and pearls. Only around 1,000 pieces are made.
The one of a kind Yue Minjun ‘Qiu Tu’ 1000% BE@RBRICK sees the light of day, the most expensive Bearbrick to date. This year CLOT and Levi’s teams up with Medicom on two BE@RBRICKs – one strawberry and one watermelon.
As a part of colette’s ‘White Crystal Christmas’ the Swarovski x colette BE@RBRICK is a fact, and the bear is covered in Swarovski drip.
Having collaborated with Stussy on several occasions throughout the years, they join forces again to mark Stussy’s 35th anniversary.
Billionaire Boys Club, KITH and Dickies collaborations appear, but the most notable one is perhaps the collab in memory of late Jean-Michel Basquiat reproducing his artwork.
The Evisu x BE@RBRICK collaboration drops, along with an honorary Muhammed Ali BE@RBRICK.