A reader in Boston asks, 'Whatever happened to ...?' The Care Bears

Hose effervescent, irrepressibly cheerful creatures who lived in the Kingdom of Care-A-Lot were some of the most popular cartoon characters ever created. Throughout the 1980s, the cuddly characters scored high on children's television and in toy stores.

"The Care Bears Movie" (1985), featuring the voice of Mickey Rooney and songs by Carole King and John Sebastian, is the most successful non-Disney feature cartoon made to date. (Two less-successful sequels followed, in 1986 and '87. "Prefab animation from the era of toy merchandising tie-ins," writes film critic Leonard Maltin.)

The television shows, produced mainly by the Canadian-based animation company Nelvana, aired in more than 139 countries at their peak.

But the Care Bears' day in the sun ended as their popularity faded. Cartoon production closed down in 1988, and Nelvana decided to invest in other projects. Since then, the toys and the show have taken on the distinction of being a 1980s cultural icon.

You can still catch the old cartoons on several independent TV stations across North America. The toys, licensed by Kenner, are no longer being produced. But they have become popular with collectors.

If you wonder 'Whatever happened to...' write us at: One Norway Street,

Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail: whatever@csmonitor.com

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