After several months of hemming and hawing, my household finally acquired a Nintendo Switch this week. The reason we broke down and bought one? Super Mario Odyssey has finally been released. And perhaps unsurprisingly, a whole host of additional Mario merchandise has been rolling out in the wake of Odyssey's arrival — including a Nintendo collection at Build-A-Bear Workshop. You heard me: You can now create your very own Mario Bear at your local Build-A-Bear, complete with a sound chip that will make him play the Super Mario theme song when you squeeze him.
My not-so-inner child is so happy right now.
The Build-A-Bear Workshop Nintendo collection debuted on Dec. 13 to great fanfare (the phrase “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY” is all over Twitter right now), delighting as many “big kids” (read: grownass adults whostill have a healthy sense of fun) as small ones. “Super Mario is a classic game franchise many of our Guests know and love, and we’ve had a lot of fun bringing these characters into furry friend form," said Build-A-Bear Chief Product Officer Jennifer Ketchmar in a press release. “Like Build-A-Bear, Nintendo’s characters appeal to everyone, so we couldn’t wait to team up for the first time and offer another way for Guests to enjoy the timeless brand.”
“Bringing beloved characters like Mario, Yoshi, and Bowser to Build-A-Bear aligns our shared goal of engaging kids and families in fun and new ways,” added Tom Prata, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Nintendo America. “Now, even the youngest member of the family can interact with Nintendo by creating their own powered-up furry friend.”
The collection consists of three fully customizable stuffed animals — a Mario Bear, a Bowser, and a Yoshi — as well as one pre-stuffed additional option that simply comes as is: Toad. Several new outfit options are available, including a Luigi costume, a Princess Peach costume, and a red Super Mario hoodie, along with two new sound chip options: One featuring the Super Mario theme song, and the other a 5-in-1 device that makes Bowser noises. A wrist accessories set featuring a Red Mushroom, a Yoshi egg, and a Super Star rounds out the collection.
The 16-inch Mario Bear is really the star of the line (of course), largely due to the detail that went into his creation. He’s not just a regular Build-A-Bear creature dressed up in a separate Mario outfit; his suit and hat are built in, he’s got a logo on his paw pad, and he even comes with a Mario moustache attached to his furry little face. (The moustache is obviously the best part, because there is nothing funnier than something that is not Mario sportinga Mario ‘stache. I cackled the first time I saw Mario possess an NPC using Cappy in Odyssey; I mean, how can you not laugh at the image of a frog with a Mario ‘stache? Same deal here: Bear with Mario ‘stache = absurd and wonderful in all the right ways.)
That said, though, the fact that you can still customize Bowser and Yoshi is pretty rad. Because it is literally my job to do so, I spent some time messing around with the Nintendo collection on the Build-A-Bear website and created the Bowser to end all Bowsers — and honestly, my only regret about it is the fact that the Build-A-Bear website doesn’t have a visualizer function that lets you see your customized creations in all their completed glory before you buy them. My kingdom for the opportunity to see my customized Bowser rocking his red and gold sequined dress and jolly Santa hat.
For the curious, Mario himself debuted in 1981, although it wasn’t in a game that bore his name; indeed, he didn’t even have a name at the time. When he made his first appearance in the arcade version of Donkey Kong, he was just known as “Jumpman” — and he wasn’t a plumber, either. He was a carpenter. The name “Mario” came along in 1982’s Donkey Kong Junior, and in 1983, he finally got his own game: Mario Bros. Luigi was introduced at this time, as were several other of the franchise’s mainstays (like the POW blocks), although the gameplay was closer to Donkey Kong than the scrolling platformer style for which the Mario games would later become known. Then, Super Mario Bros., released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, came along in 1985, setting the franchise along the path it still follows today.
The full Build-A-Bear Workshop Nintendo collection is currently available online at Build-A-Bear’s website with prices ranging from $7 to the sound chips to $35 for Bowser; the Mario Bear, Yoshi, Bowser, and outfits and other accessories will start rolling out in stores in the United States, Canada, and the UK this weekend. (Note, though, that Bowser is only available in select stores.)
Still looking for the perfect gift for the Nintendo fan in your life? Here you go. Are you the Nintendo fan in your life? …Here you go. Everyone deserves to have a little fun every now and again, right?