There's been a lot of talk lately about Webkinz being the superior virtual world of the late 2000s.
And to that I say:
You must not remember the glory that was Build-a-Beaville.com.
Not a virtual world, but a "Friendship Adventure"
I have always been OBSESSED with Build-a-Bears. Ever since I first discovered the oddly plastic-smelling workshop at a rich girl's birthday party when I was five years old, I have always had an obsession (more like borderline ADDICTION) to Build-a-Bears. I loved everything about them. Choosing them, stuffing them, picking out the clothes, the air baths. Everything. It's difficult to even describe the joy and comfort Build-a-Bears brought me. I know I sound incredibly cheesy. I just want you to know I really loved them, okay?!
So my mom spoiled me, and by the time I was seven I had a handful of stuffed friends and an assortment of clothes and accessories. I was never a Barbie or Bratz girl. No Polly Pockets for me. You would find me shut in my room with my Build-a-Bears. (Shout-out to my first Build-a-Bear, Beary! You were my ride or die, girl.)
But then, on that fateful day in 2007, Build-a-Bearville was born. And I was ecstatic.
Bear-related puns were always aplenty.
And whoever's idea it was to build a virtual world solely devoted to Build-a-Bears, I owe you my life, sir. You are my hero. I hope you were compensated generously.
Build-a-Bearville was a way to take the furry friend you just made in-store, and not just take him home, but plug him in online too. Into a world full of music, games, and social interaction.
You have to admit, the graphics were on point.
You could make trades with other players, decorate your CubCondo, and dress your avatar and bear-- which your avatar carried around all the time in a backpack.
My avatar was never this cool.
You could unlock cool dance moves, buy coffee and snacks at the coffee shop, and explore trails, tree houses, and zoos.
This lit trading portal.
There were mini-games, talk shows, weekly newsletters, guest stars, Olympic games, and trips to the North Pole.
And your very own CubCondo!
It was the most thorough interactive virtual world of its time and paved the way for other children's aged virtual realities to come (like the beloved Webkinz, Club Penguin, ToonTown, BarbieGirl, and Pixie Hollow) while remaining wholesome, safe, entertaining, and educational. Bearville was the OG and the best of them all!
Can't forget the Boutique!
It was an outlet for creativity and a way to make new friends. My best friend Amelia and I used to talk on the phone with each other for literal HOURS while we played around Bearville with each other. (A moment of silence for all the chores we had to do to earn phone time and the brothers we had to fight for computer time.) Bearville gave us something to bond over and kept us close friends. I would still call Amelia up today if I could to play Bearville with her. It was literally one of the best parts of my childhood. It was 'home' for me.
Or the salon!
But alas, Build-a-Bearville has made its dramatic depart. The intricate interactive world was replaced with videos of talking puppets marketed towards two-year-olds in 2015. And though I can't say I'm surprised, I can say I'm disappointed.
RIP to my beloved Build-a-Bearville, and to all my furry friends you let die.
And to corporate Build-a-Bear, if any of you see this, please know that you both made, and destroyed my childhood.
So please bring Bearville back. This new generation would eat it up. And so would my generation. I'm twenty-years-old and I would absolutely sign on to BABV today if I could.
My beary-best pal.
ChloeRocks, you will always be my inspiration.
Signed, ya girl, ZoeyBanana207