Top 10 – Bears: Redux
We can bearly believe it’s been over four years since the release of our first Top 10 article, Top 10 Bears. Last week was our official fourth year anniversary of writing these articles and with an eBook on the way, we intend to make this year even better in the slow approach of our fifth year. So if you will let us paws for a second whilst we maul over our choices from four years ago, we’re going to, for the first time ever, do a complete redo of our original Top 10 Bears article.
10) Volibear – League of Legends
Starting off with one of the most popular games, League of Legends is renowned for having a vast variety of characters. One of the tanks of the game, Volibear is able to take on opponents with his incredible bulk. He can withstand a beating, because being a bear doesn’t make him tough enough, but being a bear in armour? Now that is a frighteningly tanky image. Plus, his nickname of “The Thunder’s Roar” is a strong moniker, for an equally strong bear.
Volibear’s skills are all pretty dangerous; his Thunder Claws can shred opponent champions to pieces. Majestic Roar allows him to roar so loud, he damages his opponents (magically…) and knocks them back. He can enter a Frenzy, giving him bonus attack speed which can stack. Rolling Thunder allows him to most faster, deal more damage and rush down opponents way faster still. Finally, when his health drops below 30%, he regenerates 30% of his health over 6 seconds.
All in all, if you’re a tank style MOBA player, then Volibear is one you do not want to pass up. What a good bear!
9) Yogi Bear
Flagship of the Hanna-Barbera fleet, Yogi is turning 60 in October which I feel is one hell of a landmark. Might have to do something to celebrate, not Yogi in particular but Hanna-Barbera in general. The dopey thieving bear and his side-kick Boo-Boo still manage to outwit the park ranger, Ranger Smith, in his pursuit of Pic-A-Nic baskets. Yogi earns a spot on the list for the sake of cultural importance, entering the common lexicon of cultural references for several generations and falling within that bracket of cartoons that truly define a century.
The well dressed brown bear has spent a staggering amount of time thumbing his nose at authority, like a surprising number of HB cartoon characters, perhaps testament to the free spirited soul of the sixties, and an indictment of the political mores of the era. His image has also been used in real American national parks like Yellowstone encouraging people – mostly kids – not to feed the bears, flying directly in the face of the attitude of the character, but hey, it’s still an important message.
8) Iorek Byrnison – Northern Lights/The Golden Compass
What do you get when you have an armoured bear? Volibear. What do you get when you have an armoured bear who was to be king? Iorek Byrnison from Northern Lights. Whilst the movie was far from perfect, it did manage to capture the personality of Iorek pretty well; powerful, loyal, but hugely sarcastic. This bear was destined to reign over Svalbard, the home of the Panserbjørne and Cliff-Ghasts.
Now, we couldn’t put Iorek too high, as really there’s not too much to say. However this bear, a Panserbjørne, was too cool to pass up. A king, a blacksmith (because, y’know, bears make great blacksmiths) and a good friend. All in all, he’s everything you could want in a companion, which both Lyra Silvertongue and Lee Scoresby were well aware of. After all, when they met Iorek, his armour had been stolen! Just as well they made friends with him, really.
7) Winnie the Pooh vs Paddington Bear
The battle for the literature classic teddy, it’s Winnie the Pooh vs Paddington Bear. Marmalade Sandwiches or Honey?
Winnie the Pooh
This chubby, little cubby who is stuffed with fluff is Winnie the Pooh! Along with friends Piglet and Tigger too, Winnie is one of the most iconic characters for children’s cartoons. There are many books involving the little yellow bear, who seems to possess an addiction when it comes to honey (often to his and his friends detriment). Nevertheless, Christopher Robin has a bunch of excellent friends, including the stubby bear.
Brits will be particularly familiar with Paddington Bear, who really likes to eat marmalade sandwiches. Paddington hails from “Darkest Peru”, which is different from what the author originally had intended. This little bear apparently came to England on a boat, sustaining himself on nothing but marmalade sandwiches and the series of books, TV shows and even films are more or less hijinks involving the little bear in wellington boots.
6) Freddy Fasbear – Five Night’s At Freddy’s
Right, hold out for a second here and let me explain why we’ve put Freddy in here. When we first wrote our original Top 10 Bears in Gaming, Five Night’s At Freddy’s was barely a concept, let alone a fully fledged franchise. As such, for Freddy Fasbear to get in, he must have made some significant impact upon the industry in a short amount of time – and if you say that he didn’t, then you’d be lying to yourself I’m afraid.
Freddy, as terrifying as the old jumpscares were, is the flagship character of a game franchise which genuinely terrified people, both young and old. The games are simple in concept, hard in practice. With different animatronics coming to jump out at you, as you sit within a confined space, Freddy has had so many different iterations, it’s hard to tell which is the real face of Fasbear’s Pizzeria.
Be very afraid, for if you hear him, it’s probably too late.
5) Baloo – The Jungle Book
Bringing home the Disney cred, name another bear from the House of Mouse more deserving than the funloving mentor to the mancub Mowgli, who taught him the bear necessities in song form. Baloo’s approach to life may have caused Mowgli to unwittingly stumble into trouble a few times, but there’s no denying that under the tutelage of the mighty beast he was more at home in the jungle than any other human could have been, Tarzan wouldn’t have stood a chance against that laid back ‘tude. When you’re so cool that the major remake has to get Bill Murray to do you justice then you know you’ve arrived on the scene.
Fun facts: Baloo is most likely a sloth bear, given the description in the Rudyard Kipling book, which also rings true with his choice of diet (ants, termites, fruits, and honey) and his general attitude; and Baloo is also a trained pilot, as we learned in TaleSpin.
4) Monzaemon (Previously #3) vs Ursaring (Previously Honourable Mention)
Tale as old as time! Pokemon versus Digimon, but let’s not base our decisions on the old rivalries, let us judge these bears on their own merits.
That’s one hell of a care bear. Complete with laser-beam eyes, hellish bombardments of loving hugs, and a welcoming and cuddly demeanour, Monzaemon is among the more terrifying threats that the digimon gang face off against early in the anime, although it’s worth noting the cameo it makes dangling from the waist of one of the series biggest villains, Etemon, the puppetmaster. Without the corruptive force of Devilmon’s black gear he’s a real sweetheart who takes care of Toytown.
Ursaring, and its former form Teddiursa, are some of the most overtly bear-like pokemon, marked with celestial patterns that glow when they search for food, like fruit or honey. They dwell in trees, although Ursaring prefers to knock trees over because climbing is just too damn hard! Well I guess if you’ve just gained about fifteen times your own body weight for hitting level thirty, climbing must seem a chore. Time has elapsed since our first list, and it feels unfair to dump Ursaring into the honourables now.
3) Kuma (Previously #8)
A major jump up in our list, Kuma goes from 8th previously all the way to number 3. Last time we said Kuma/Panda, but thinking about it, the characters are effectively skin swaps. I decided the most sensible thing to do is to think of the legacy of the characters, to which Kuma takes that medal. He’s well known, having been around since Tekken 1 and, whether you like bear characters or not, he’s cemented his place in fighting game history.
One of the reasons for Kuma’s sudden meteoric jump is the fact this list focuses on stronger, more genuine bear entries within geek fandom as a whole. Now that Tekken 7 has been released and has genuinely clicked with a lot of people, it’s fair to say that Kuma deserved this leap up. He may not be seen in many high-level tournaments, but when a Kuma player steps forward, you know you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Especially now he has his Rage Art move, where he smashes you away with a fish. Uh oh, that’s some fishy business!
Oh – and he’s still able to defeat Paul Phoenix, that conspiracy theorist!
2) Owlbears – Dungeons & Dragons (Previously #4)
Sliding up the list by virtue of the changing ways by which we evaluate our picks, the D&D legend makes it to number too-wooo! Because dammit there are too many bear puns, might as well squeeze in an owl joke.
The terrifying fusion of owl and bear, the ultimate predator of the forest, its origins are not well explored although they’re believed to be the product of mad-magic but who knows what effects magic can have on genealogy if left unchecked. Owlbears are a classic of wilderness exploration, and if an entire campaign goes by without a single owlbear it’s a campaign misspent… which… actually I don’t think my current campaign have encountered a single… y’know what, I’ll come back to you.
Being a staple of the genre, owlbears have appeared in varying forms in a few other intellectual properties, but never exactly the same
1) Po – Kung Fu Panda
We centred around games a lot last time around, those many years ago, so a lot of the incredible examples above sadly fell by the wayside. And so, taking his rightful place atop the list, The Dragon Warrior, the one creature in the world who has accepted oneness with the universe by recognising and embracing the fact that he is not special, and that makes him special. Apparently being “just some dude” and knowing that you’re “just some dude” gives you super powers, and lets you beat up mountain lions played by Ian McShane.
The lonely panda, raised by a duck to make and serve the finest noodle dishes, fantasises about and eventually becomes one of the legendary martial art warriors, the Furious Five. He makes the top spot because he is a massive geek! Action figures, obscure knowledge of his fandom, living at home, taking days off work to go to conventions; honestly Jack Black was the perfect choice for the characters, because he’s every bit the geek that Po is, complete with the enthusiasm.
Not all bears are equal and since 2014, we’ve seen many more bearly believable geek-culture related bears. Here are two more four-legged grizzlies to help or hinder you as you snout out our Top 10 Bears. Did you ever think this list could be expanded on?!
You may know this one if you’re a fan of Critical Role, this lovely little one-page RPG system features just two statistics: Bear and Criminal because you are a bear, committing criminal activities, namely nectar based larceny. Assume the role of a Retired Polar Bear, and Incompetent Grizzly, or an Unhinged Panda, or any one of a number of different bears, in which the number is six. Use spells, incantations, mauling, a collection of hats, and your bear-like wiles to make away with the greatest score of your life.
And better yet you can get the pdf for free. Right now. No, I’m not kidding, you need to play this at least once, here it is, go download it. You can also order a printed version or pick up a copy at a convention like I did. You may require a hat collection which could rack up your costs a little, fez’s aren’t all that cheap.
Bear Simulator (Prev. #10)
When we wrote the Top 10 Bears, we were really quite nice to the comedy entries. We gave number one to Enviro-Bear, we gave tenth place to the then Kickstarter campaign of Bear Simulator. Since the days of 2014, we’ve come around to see that maybe we were a bit hasty to give such high scores to genuinely small, comedy games. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a nod, however.
Bear Simulator allows you to do all that you wanted to do as a bear, sort of. You can beat up lesser creatures, you can eat lots of food, you can sleep, you can investigate local legends and so much more! All in the usual day of a bear if you ask me. If you like stupid humour, then this is definitely the game for you to check out. It’s even earned 9/10 over on Steam, so it must be doing something right! I know, you could bearly believe it.
I’m hilarious… Wait, what? What do you mean I made that joke already?
Let me muzzle my way back into your hearts, by saying thank you for being with us for four years of Top 10 articles. We’re hoping to keep on going with these, until we’ve legitimately run out of topics to talk about. We’re going to run these forever… and ever… and ever*. In the meantime, it’s now down to you to help us decide on the future of our Top 10 lists. More specifically, it’s time for us to decide what to write about next week.
As ever, we really are thankful for your time today, but as ever, we want to hear from you. Do you agree with our list, or did our unbearable puns get to you a bit? Do you agree with our list, or do you think we forgot some important bears? What do you think of all of these new additions to our old list? Is this better or worse than the old list? As ever, share your thoughts below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.
*Please note: Forever and ever and ever is as long as we can run them for before we go “Y’know what? Let’s stop.” That could be a very long time, or as short as the end of this article. Fortunately, we plan to do another Top 10 next week, so it’s not that short.