Strange Childhood: 15 Creatively Twisted Stuffed Animals

What comes to mind when someone mentions stuffed animals? For most of us words like ‘cute’ and ‘cuddly’ or maybe ‘kids’ and ‘toys’ come to mind. For these photographers and product designers, however, words like ‘twisted’ and ‘disturbing’ or even ‘demented’ and ‘deranged’ are perhaps more fitting. Some have explored the innards of these seemingly innocuous childhood toys (more or less literally) while others have had Blair Witch Project experiences with strange, spontaneous and surreal roadside stuffed animal ‘art’ installations.

Artist Matt Kirkland had always wondered what lie beneath the fuzzy exterior of the world’s cutest stuffed animals – particularly those animated ones that sing, dance, talk or teach. He set out to discover the secrets of some of the most outwardly sweet and snuggly plus toys including Elmo, Pooh, Barney, the Care Bears and other assorted childhood favorites. In some cases the results are what one might expect while in others they are rather shocking.

These road kill stuffed animals by RoadKillToys are anything but cuddly and cute. ‘Twitch’ the raccoon and ‘Grind’ the rabbit each come complete with a toe tag and body bag. Coming soon in their toy line are Pop the Weasel (a door stopper), Fender the Fox (a bloodied bobble-head toy) and Splodge the hedgehog (as a plush toy or a mouse pad). The site advises customers to collect them all “before the maggots set in.” Unfortunately these are currently only available for purchase in the UK.

The story of these strange impaled teddy bears, photographed by WebUrbanist reader Nic Nichols, is arguably stranger than fiction. His wife spotted one stuck in a tree and when he went back to photograph it he found a total of three. After blogging about the experience a reader informed him that the practice of putting a teddy bear in a tree can be an indicator that a child passed away in that location. When he returned to the location even more teddy bears had appeared. So what had happened? A series of child deaths? As it turns out, a local farmer placed one lost teddy bear he found in a tree in hopes that its owner might find it and in the end other folks passing by took their cue from it and added their own with a strange kind of individual spontaneity.