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Making a Pokemon at Build-A-Bear Review January 5, 2019

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Reviews.
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A friend of mine and I decided to do some post-Christmas shopping last week to seek out any Boxing Day deals we could find. The mall we visited happened to be equipped with a Build-A-Bear Workshop, not something we would usually see in the malls we visited more often. If you’re not familiar with the store, this is a place where kids and families can go to make high-quality custom teddy bears. They’ll stuff them for you on site and you can dress them with all kinds of different clothes. At some point I vaguely remembered reading that Build-A-Bear was branching out into licensed toys, and they were now offering tons of exclusive custom stuffed animals you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. This included things from Nintendo (like Yoshi and Bowser), Star Wars, and even Pokémon. As a newfound Pokémon collector, I just had to see if this was still the case. I ventured into the store and was happy to see several different stuffed Pokémon on the shelves, ready to be given new homes. This specific store was having a buy one add a second for only $10 US sale, so I decided the time was right to go in and buy two. Hopefully, I thought, my girlfriend would like at least one of them.

The first question is always going to be which Pokémon do you pick? The store was stocked with plenty of plush Pikachu and Eevee, probably due to the recent release of the Pokémon Let’s Go games on the Nintendo Switch, but they also had Meowth, Charmander and Piplup in stock. Their official website also lists they sold other Pokémon including Squirtle and Jigglypuff, but I didn’t see any in the store at the time. One of the staff members told me they used to stock Bulbasaur, but those flew off the shelves so fast they couldn’t believe it and now fetch very high prices on the resale market.

I opted for an Eevee since I thought it had a lot of good accessory options and a Charmander since it was a central Pokémon in one of my favorite episodes of the original animated series.

After selecting the plush you wanted, you had the option to add a smell and/or a voice box to your stuffed animal. The smell options didn’t appeal to me personally so I didn’t go with it, but the option for a voice box certainly did. Unfortunately, my options for voices were limited. A lot of the custom sound options were sold out at the store we visited, and I didn’t see any Pokémon-specific sound options for sale. They had other options, like real animal sounds but I was hoping for a voice box that could produce a “Pika Pika!” or “Char!”. Heck I would have even taken a match to the 8-Bit Pokémon cry. There was a custom sound box option that allowed people to record any sound they wanted, and I’m sure I could have made a custom Pokémon sound with it, had I wanted to. However, I would have preferred to have an authentic sound taken either from the video game or animated series so I didn’t add a sound to my creation.

Once you have picked out your Pokémon and filled it with everything you wanted inside of it, the store managers will stuff it on site for you. Kids love this part, because it can be turned into a special experience where they jump around and make wishes before the toy is finished.

Part of the experience of creating any plush toy over at Build-A-Bear is to dress your toy up in different clothes. They had several Pokémon themed clothing options available including Poké Ball shirts, Pajamas with Pokémon logos, and since it was just after Christmas, a few limited edition holiday-themed capes and hoods. Everything offered was designed to fit the specific plush toys perfectly, with holes for arms, legs and even ears. I grabbed Pokémon pajamas for my Eevee that fit it like a glove and a green Christmas cape for my Charmander that also fit perfectly. They cost a little extra but the clothes are exclusive to Build-A-Bear, and totally worth getting.

I was a little disappointed by the full selection of Pokémon clothing at the particular Build-A-Bear I visited. There were a few clothing options I saw on their website that my store did not have on sale. This might have been due to the fact it was just after Christmas and most of the stock had already sold out (believe me I nearly got one of the last Christmas capes in the store) but if I had chosen a Meowth I would have loved to buy a Team Rocket outfit for it. The store didn’t have anything like that on the shelves. That said, since clothing was almost completely cross compatible, there was nothing stopping me from buying clothing for my Pokémon meant for different brands like Spider-Man or Star Wars.

Once the Pokémon were stuffed and dressed, it was time to ring them up. The clerk surprised me by telling me I would get an exclusive Pokémon TCG promo card for the specific Pokémon I purchased. The cards were wrapped in plastic and had a Build-A-Bear watermark on them (just like Toys R Us would watermark promo cards they gave out) that I’m sure added to their value in some way. The promo cards were game legal and totally free of charge, making the purchases that much sweeter.

The experience of building these Pokémon aside, the question you should be asking is how good a quality are the Pokémon you can create at Build-A-Bear? Having had the chance to sample Pokémon plush from many different manufacturers including Tomy and even the Pokémon Center, you may have to sit down before you read the next sentence. The Pokémon I made at Build-A-Bear are without a doubt the highest quality plush Pokémon I’ve ever owned. I know that’s a big statement but I’m prepared to back it up with a few ideas why I feel that way.

Perhaps it is because I could control how fluffy I wanted the plush to be, or that I could fully accessorize it’s insides (at an extra price) but I would put Build-a-Bear’s Charmander up against anything I could get at Nintendo NYC. I would offer a comparison to Pokémon plushies I could get at Pokémon Center stores…but I can’t due to the fact there aren’t any Pokémon Center stores in the United States.

The plushes also passed the girlfriend test. My girlfriend loved the Eevee I made for her and she says she would visit Build-A-Bear with me again in the future. Next time we could make something new together!

Hope you enjoyed this unusual kind of review. Have you all enjoyed your Holiday season? We’ve been preparing to come back with all-new content so stay tuned!

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