Skip to main content

Gund’s latest take parents down memory lane


Gund makes much more than plush stuffed animals these days. In recent years, Gund has started to diversify its product range to include everything from colorful keep-sake dishes to giraffe-themed baby blankets, and even photo albums, picture frames and trinket boxes.

Earlier this year, the brand made its first introduction into the wooden toy category with a collection called Wood ’N Wheels, which includes wooden cars, vans, trains and airplanes. Each toy features functional wheels for active play and comes packaged in a gift box with a wood-toned base and plastic display top.

But the company is not abandoning its roots in the plush toy category. Rather, Gund feels these new product introductions are a compliment to its heritage in plush toys, according to company executives.

“The company’s new gift pieces fit beautifully alongside plush, all carrying the same warm messages and some even picturing classic Gund characters,” said Shallu Chhabra, Gund’s marketing and licensing manager.

The wooden toy line should appeal specifically to parents and grandparents, for example, who might have played with such classic items when they were children, Chhabra said.

“Gund strives to create products that foster warm, positive memories,” Chhabra said. “Gund developed Wood ’N Wheels because they recognized the fond memories that parents and grandparents have of wooden toys. Adults definitely appreciate the simplicity of wooden toys. It’s a treat for them to walk into a gift shop and see something they remember from their childhood. So, while the Wood ’N Wheels toys are, of course, lots of fun for little ones, they’re also a happy trip down memory lane for the adult relatives who are purchasing them.”

Gund already registers as a top toy brand in the mind of parents, according to the American Brands Council. The council named Gund as one of America’s top 50 most recognized brands in August 2006.

“Certainly the marketplace has changed since 1898, but something that hasn’t changed for Gund is the consumer demand for their products,” the company stated in a release announcing the honor.

In addition to manufacturing classic toys, such as the company’s classic plush teddy bears as well as its new wooden toy line, Gund has been experimenting lately with adding electronic elements to its items, creating a new category for the company called “animated plush.”

“Interesting, innovative toys that incorporate technology and have an element of interactivity are becoming increasingly popular,” Chhabra said. “Earlier this year, we introduced GundFun, our first-ever line of animated plush. The brand includes fun, cheerful characters that incorporate sound and movement, bringing a new element to traditional toy play.”

Two of the products in the collection, for example, are named Arnold the Sleeping Pig and Hip Hop Randy. Arnold the Pig snores and shakes while he sleeps, while Hip Hop Randy sings, dances and sways to hip-hop music. Arnold and Randy are both activated by touching the animal’s hoof or paw. Each requires batteries to operate.

Gund also has been successful at retail with its educational toys, Chhabra said.

“Toys with an educational focus continue to be extremely popular, items like BabyGund Playsets, activity toys and Teach Me bears, as well as GundKids puppets,” Chhabra said.

Gund is a 109-year-old company, known for the “world’s most huggable toys.” In recent years, the company has developed new brands to extend its presence and product reach in toys and other categories. These brands include GundFun, GundKids, BabyGund and BabyGund Nursery.

Gund is known for being an innovator in the toy and licensing category. Jacob Swedlin, the second owner of the company after founder Adolph Gund, introduced the concept of industry licensing with cartoon characters such as Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse, Popeye and others. Gund was also the first company to produce a musical toy that was affordably priced.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds