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BearBottoms 'Bear' Bottoms Originals
Ft. Bragg, NC
Posts: 2,465

Hello guys,

I am having a tough time deciding whether to enter the TOBY  because I am so new...  Part of me REEEAAALLY wants to enter, but the other part of me says, "Don't get ahead of yourself there, Kim!"

Anyone have words of encouragement, discouragement, self stories, or anyone else new and thinking about entering?  I know it never hurts to try, but I don't want to be getting ahead of myself, and I also don't know if I'm good enough...

I'd like honest answers (not to say anyone would lie, of course!!!! but I don't want any sugar coating... make sense?)  Give it to me straight...  get down to the nitty gritty.... tell me like it is.... lol

bear_wacko  bear_wacko  bear_wacko  bear_wacko  bear_wacko  bear_wacko  bear_wacko

Beary warm wishes,
Kimberly Whitlock

bearsbybeesley bears by beesley TM
Tofield Alberta Canada
Posts: 6,818

Kim I think your bears are beautiful. We all have our own styles and signatures and I think the judges of these competions do as well. It can be a costly venture but can also be a huge inspiration to us to get our creative juices flowing. We are our own worst critics. Enter!

Many Hugs Louise

NancyAndFriends Posts: 1,153

Hi Kim,

I am going to enter but have the same thoughts as you do.

However, how do we EVER get over being new and get to be known?  The only way I know how to get past that ,is to get your work and your name out there and this is the opportunity knocking on Kim's door.

  Even if we don't get any recognition or win anything this time (and you never know!)...we have let them know we are here and now they will  know our names and our work.

I know that there are artists that win a lot and rightly deserve to do so...I do feel however, that magazines and collectors are constantly looking for something new.

So, please jump in and let them know you are an artist and want to join 'the party'.
Hugs and Merry Christmas, Kim  :hug:

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor


I have very limited experience with entering contests (I entered the TOBY for 2004 with a mediocre bear and a horrible photograph, and both contests for 2005, with much better pieces, and significantly better photos.)  My personal story has a surprisingly happy outcome -- which I must assume is atypical, if enormously gratifying.  I still float when I think about it.  Really!

You'll probably read and hear all over the place that these contests -- getting nominations -- is all about who knows who, and politics, and whether or not you advertise with the magazines, and whether or not the judges can pick your work out of a lineup, and whether or not they like you and have a relationship with you they want to promote, etc.  That may, in fact, be true; who knows what goes on behind the scenes.  ???  And it may differ from one magazine/contest sponsor to another.  One may be more "corrupt," for want of a better word, than the other.

But... no one will ever know the "truth" of this, because we don't have access to what goes on behind the scenes. 

So, rather than make negative assumptions, I choose, personally, to proceed and enter with the idea that (1) competition helps me better MY work, so regardless of outcome, it's a good thing; and (2) everyone sponsoring these contests wants, first and foremost, to promote the industry, as they see best fit, which is what I want, too.

I therefore CHOOSE to believe that the contests are run as the sponsors claim they are run; using impartial judges, who review applicant teddies BLINDLY and OBJECTIVELY, without knowledge of who made what, basing nominations solely on what's in the photo, or on the judging table, in front of them ... and not on anything else at all, with zero consideration given to artist experience, name recognition, advertising dollars contributed, etc.

In my own case this is certainly true. 

At the time I entered last year, I was almost entirely an unknown entity, and at that point had NEVER been published in an editorial anywhere.  I had placed a few ads but was certainly nowhere near a "household name."   

I entered both the TOBY and GOLDEN TEDDY contests last year; the GOLDEN TEDDY for the first time.  I entered four -- yes, four -- pieces in each contest.  I got one nomination out of those eight entries... for a GOLDEN TEDDY.  I had never advertised at TEDDY BEAR REVIEW at that point; my ad dollars were tied up at TB&F prior to entering.  I don't really know ANYONE in this industry very well, because I am fairly new to it, and to selling; my first bear sold in March of 2004.

So clearly, anything political that might have worked in my favor, was NOT present in this particular situation.

Having said all that...

The competition for nominations is TREMENDOUS.  There are amazingly talented soft sculpture artists evertwhere you turn, and not nearly enough contests and nomination slots to recognize them all.  I saw Michelle Lamb's entries last year and they were, each and every one, absolutely amazing.  Yet only 1/4 of them received a nomination.  I can't explain precisely why any one piece is nominated for any one category; it probably comes down to the tastes of the particular judges; the originality of the piece; the craftsmanship.  Maybe the judges take into account the variety of bears being produced (traditional, contemporary, odd) and try to spread the nominations around, to showcase the best of what's out there in EVERY area. 

Again, who knows?

If you're willing to enter into these things ready to be passed over (I am), recognizing that there will likely be many, many "big-picture" elements behind the scenes, contributing to the nomination process (most of which most likely have little or nothing to do with how cute, well made, or fabulous your piece may be,) then I say, GO FOR IT.

I'm not sure my pieces this year will result in anything more than empty pockets, but I'm trying, anyway, because it feels like the right thing to do to push myself in that way. 

I'm not sure this was particularly helpful, but I hope so.


Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

PS  Forgot to mention that entering is a wonderful learning experience, which is always a good thing!  You'll know what it takes to get organized and prepped for this; it doesn't take five minutes, that's for sure!  It's an investment of time, energy, effort, and finances.

Dilu Posts: 8,574

Ist. I think, in her own inimitable way, Shel voiced the psychology behind the experience, that most of us have thought through to varying degrees of thoroughness. 

2nd.  I haven't ever put my work out there for a competition, mainly because I am still learning, and have only been doing this for little over what? a year maybe closer to 18 months, AND, I'm not beary organized either.


But I am entering a little challenge.


I did compete when I played Oboe and Piano.  That's how I got through college the first time, scholarships.  And it is scarry putting yourself out there.  It is also exhilarating and teaches you to evaluate your work in a different manner.

It doesn't matter if all your friends and family say your work is great or you play well.  What matters is what is seen or heard at crunch time.

Competition is good for us, it is healthy, if we have learned to take defeat in a positive manner.  If we recognize our  faults then we can improve them.

But if we take disappointments and defeats in a negative fashion; it's everyone elses fault, and we are unable to look at our work dispassionately, then it just might be better we don't compete.

At least these are my generalized caveats re: competion.

But here's the most important thing, you wont know if you don't try.

And if you don't try you will always wonder what would have happened if.....

IFs are the biggest regrets in life. 

In my mind, I always see Marlon Brando saying "I coulda been a contender...."

Well, honey, maybe this is one of your life's "IFs" moments.  Maybe you can be a contender.

Your work is lovely, you haven't anything to be ashamed of, and you wont know if you don't try. 

And you will have TeddyTalk Folks rooting you on.......because WE love to see any of US succeed....

So......go for it honey......



jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413

One thing I think about competitions in the beary world is this...that I think maybe for your money you should get an appraisal of your work...especially if you get nominated but don't win.

I used to enter, and sometimes win, hairdressing competitions all the time...and the judges would give you an idea of what made them pick someone elses and not you didn't feel disgruntled or hard done by..and even though you didn't come away with the trophy, you'd feel nearer to it because you felt that next time you'd do x, y or z to improve.

But I thoroughly agree that it certainly makes me rise to the challenge and it's always a positive experience in the end ..and you always come away with a feeling of having learned soemthing new.

I would go for it....and anyway who needs to know if you enter only need to 'tell' if you get nominated..or if you want to!!

WildThyme Wild Thyme Originals
Hudson, Ohio
Posts: 3,115

  My honest opinion... I think that if you have the slightest inkling to enter, you should just go for it!  I am also NOT an expert when it comes to these things, having never entered one of the big ones.... I just always have WAY too much on my plate at the end of the year!  I always say that I am going to, an then I just know that I don't have the time.  I think I will make that a priority for NEXT year!  Maybe....
The one I did enter... the Teddy Bear Club International miniature contest, I just did on an absolute whim!  The bookstore occassionally carries copies of this great British magazine.  I happened to buy one, happened to see the tiny little column stating the guidelines, I happened to have some actually pretty good and clear photos of a bear that met the requirements, and the biggie... It was FREE... except for the postage to get my photos to England! I also still qualified for the "new bear makers" category at the time, which I thought was a great plus!  I sent it off.  Completely forgot about it, and then found out one day that I had won!  A lovely bear making friend of mine in England was sweet enough to send me a copy of the magazine via Global Priority Mail (or its' British equivalent, actually!)  I received so many nice eMails from collectors and artists alike... I do admit, it was quite an ego boost!    Unfortunately, I believe that they are no longer running that particular contest...

Here's the link to the on line version of the article... Planet Teddy Bear is a pretty neat website to check out as well!  take a peek:

Beary truly yours,
Kim Basta
Wild Thyme Originals

I Love Teddies South Florida
Posts: 1,684

Realize that this is not coming from an artist.  bear_original

I think you should try.  Of course, since I'm not an artist, I have no idea what you have to do to enter these things (like if it costs money - which I'm guessing it does after reading the responses).  I have no idea how the winners are decided.  I know I vote for the Golden Teddys and Tobys every year, and I take my voting seriously. 

But remember that if you don't win or get nominated, it doesn't mean you don't make nice bears.  And collectors will still love them, award or not.  Most of my bears haven't won an award (I have a few that have), but I love them. 

But I think you should go for it!  You don't want to regret it later and wonder what could have happened.  Like Dilu said, us TTers will be rooting for you.  My voting will change next year - I'm going to be biased for TTers.  bear_original

Judi Luxembears
Luxemburg, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,379
Shelli wrote:

PS  Forgot to mention that entering is a wonderful learning experience, which is always a good thing!  You'll know what it takes to get organized and prepped for this; it doesn't take five minutes, that's for sure!  It's an investment of time, energy, effort, and finances.

Oh my you've got that right.

I am entering both this year.  If you don't try, you won't ever go for it.  You never know what might spark a judge.

Dilu Posts: 8,574

OK....lets be blunt here:

I have never been at a death bed where the patient said "golly I wish I had spent more time at the office and worked my butt off for an unappreciateive boss"

They do say "I wish I had had more fun, I wish I had taken more chances and done more interesting things, I wish I had spent more time with my family"

My father died several years ago, but the old guy was painting right up to the bitter end....because it was what he loved to do.  I hope he died happy knowing he did produce some beautiful paintings that are appreciated all over the world.

What on earth do you have to loose?

What is the worst that can happen?

And how many millions of us are there that don't try?

Girl go for wont know if you don't try.....and if you don't succeed this time you try again.

Yeah we know your work , we think its beautiful, because it truly is, and we love you to pieces.....


Share with the rest of the bear world!


SueAnn Past Time Bears
Double Oak, Texas
Posts: 21,744

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Kim, the ONLY thing you can lose when entering these contests is the money you spent.  The more bears you enter, the more it costs, of course, but as everyone says . . . there is absolutely NO WAY you can win if you don't enter!  Before I started entering the TOBYs and Golden Teddies, I heard more than one artist grumbling that the same people win every year - and there was a bit of truth to it.  Soooooo . . . that means that newbies need to start entering, too.  It may take a few years and it may not for you to get nominated, but you will be noticed!!  Go for it . . . it just might happen on your first year and wouldn't that be exciting!

marie Debonaire Bears
Virginia, USA
Posts: 30

Hey Kim,
Give it a go!  I am entering two entries in the Golden Teddies this year.  I have only been making bears for about two years.  I know there is a huge number of great bears entered in the competitions, and I may not have a chance at a nomination.  But why not give it a try!

bearlyart Canna Bear Paint
Posts: 749

To anyone that is considering entering contests this year or at some point in the future, I say 'more power to you!'  I started making bears in June 2004, in December of that year I entered one bear in the TOBY and Golden Teddy contests.  He got nominated for a Golden Teddy, which made me infinitely happy (and knocked me cold for a week).  So, you never know.  Here are some thoughts on the contests:

Have realistic expectations.  There are an awful lot of good bears being entered, the competition is tough.  If you enter one bear, it's not a guarantee that you'll get in.  If you enter 10 bears, it's not a guarantee that you'll get in (though in theory, you have 10x the chance!).  Enter what you are confident in and to the degree that you can afford it.  Don't set yourself up to be devastated if you don't get a nomination, even the best artists in the world (and I mean that) don't get every bear they submit nominated.

Be ORIGINAL.  Don't submit bears that look exactly like someone else's bears.  Don't submit bears that are extremely similar to last year's nominees or winners.  I also think that they do like diversity within each category, I doubt you will ever find, for example, five black-and-white panda bears nominated in the same category.  You cannot control what other people in your category enter, but the more unique your creation is, the less likely it is to be similar to others.

Get a good photo.  It doesn't even have to be a great photo, bears that get nominated sometimes don't have great photos.  BUT those photos were good enough to see the quality of the bear, and the bear was unique enough that they were willing to nominate it past a less-than-100%-wonderful photo.  They really are judging the bear, not the quality of your photography skills.  However, if your photography is so bad that it makes your bear look bad, consider having somebody else take the photos for you.

I think it really, really helps to have a bear with either a very sweet or very expressive face.  I don't think I technically astounding bear with a plain or ugly face will be likely to be nominated.  However, it is entirely possible that a bear with a wonderfully interesting face could get nominated.

Be extremely careful to follow the rules and regulations when you submit your entry.  By my understanding, flawed or inaccurate entries are disqualified.  This could be... forgetting to sign something, forgetting to include entry fees for the correct amount, entering the bear in the wrong category (entering it as a mini when it's 22" tall) or some such.  Don't eliminate yourself before they even start the judging!  I wonder how many bear makers have had this happen to them, I certainly hope it's not many.

Best of luck to anyone who enters this year, and remember to HAVE FUN!

fredbear Fred-i-Bear
Posts: 2,243

Never ever be afraid to do something. Rather live knowing you have tried it, than live with the regret of knowing  you have not tried.
One question I  have for the Toby- they say no digital pictures, this is a pain, as I have to run around trying to find a professional photographer to take pictures, which takes more time, waiting for the pictures to get developed, then its more time for me to get the pictures courried off to USA. has anyone used their digital camera for the pictures?- I would not retouch the pictures or anything like that ? and as I leave everything to the last minute everyting is running to a deadline.
bear_sad  Lynette


thumperantiques Newcastle, Ontario
Posts: 5,644

Hi Kim,
     I've been making miniature teddies for 10 years.  I was fortunate enough to to able to design nine pieces for Deb Canham, several years ago.  However, for some reason my pieces did not translate into Golden Teddy or Toby nominations until last year, even with many multiple tries, and I still have not been nominated for a "bear".   Last year I tried something new, and I managed to get a Golden Teddy nominaton in the "friends" category, along with Sue Ann and Shelli, and a few other talented artists.  I'm not saying this to discourage you - I think you should definitely try.  Your bear entries may have just that special something that catches the judges eye.   You will NEVER KNOW if you don't try.  You just  have to understand that they get thousands of entries and there are only a few nominations and be able to accept that.   I am going to enter both this year and will wait and see what happens.
      Yes, I have also heard the complaints that the same people get nominated every year, and as Shelli says, it is true to a certain extent.  But who knows how many entries they send.  I've also heard complaints that retail stores should not be allowed as judges, because they have a monetary stake in the results.  They want to make sure they nominate artists, if they sell their work.  Who knows what goes on, as Shelli says.  We all have the option of not entering, if we don't feel it's a fair competition.  I choose to be optimistic and besides, (and I think Shelli will agree) there is nothing like receiving that phone call to say you have received a nomination!  I was so stunned last year, I didn't know what to say - I must have sounded like an idiot!   Anyway - go for it!  You won't know if you don't try!  Good luck and bye for now.



BearBottoms 'Bear' Bottoms Originals
Ft. Bragg, NC
Posts: 2,465

Hello everyone,

Thank you SO much for your words of encouragement.  It really gives me a better perspective on it all. 

Yes, I agree that there is a certain amount of 'politics' involved.  What ever happened to a good old fashioned contest that was actually based on skill?  I think they have all gone by the wayside, unfortunately.  I'd almost gotten into dog showing a little while back, but shelved that idea after I realized that I wasn't about to join the ranks of rating my dog based on what others percieve as 'perfect'.  Especially when perfect so often has nothing to do with the judged at all, instead has to do with how well the people like 'the kennel your dog came' from, so to speak.  Please don't get me wrong, all you dog show-ers out there...  I've just talked to too many people and heard too many things... And the idea that people feel they can decide whether or not your dog measures up.... Who is REALLY to decide? It's all a matter of opinion, right?  And don't even get me started on showing AND breeding.... 

Anyway, I think I might give it a go... And thank you all so much for those words of enlightenment about nominations vs. no nominations....  I am, way too often, way too critical of myself and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if I entered, didn't get a nomination, and took it hard.  But that really puts it in to perspective, how many people enter.  And to hear so many of you, who I can SEE are just wonderful artists, say that you didn't get nominated or it took forever to get nominated, well that shows me that my lack of nomination wouldn't be because of lack of skill (and it also shows me just how political it just might be!)  Sooooo, I'm going to take that chance....  A bear never learns to fish if he is too scared to get in the water, right?  And the sweet taste of salmon, er victory is potentially waiting!

Gosh, it's great to have encouraging people like you!  I'm so glad I found Teddy Talk.

Kimberly W.

thumperantiques Newcastle, Ontario
Posts: 5,644

Hi Kim,
     Glad to hear you will be giving it a try!  Good luck to you ant to everyone else that is planning on entering the Tobys or the Golden Teddy Awards.  We'll all be waiting to cheer if and of us succeed!  Take care,



Dilu Posts: 8,574
Jellybelly Bears Jellybelly Bears
Posts: 4,066

I've read this topic with great interest...I'm so happy you've decided to enter Kim.  I've only entered the bear show competitions, When I first started my business in 2002 and then again last year where I won...but both times were so much fun and so exciting regardless of the outcome.
I wish you all the very best  bear_flower
hugs Sarah

Winney Winneybears and Friends
White City, Oregon
Posts: 1,103

I would but cannot afford it. I am wondering... if thousands are entered, at 70. a pop even 1000 would = seventy thousand dollars !

Does any one know what they do with all the money ? Too bad they dont make the entry fee just a little more affordable... Winney

BearBottoms 'Bear' Bottoms Originals
Ft. Bragg, NC
Posts: 2,465

Whoa, good point Winney.

I suppose there is lots of money that has to go into the space for the bears, advertising, electricity, paying people to set it up, to judge... But, at just 1000 entries, $70,000 sure is a bunch of money.  You are right about it being nice if they'd make it a bit mor affordable.

Kimberly W.

DebbieD Posts: 3,540

Perhaps making it worth more $$ for the entry fees helps people be serious about what they are entering?  (just guessing) 

For myself, I entered three bears last year for both the TOBY and the GOLDEN TEDDY....and came up empty handed.  I don't think it was anything against my bears per se...I think it was just what the judges liked.  As I hand sew, I'm incredibly slow at producing bears, and this year snuck up on me, so I'll have to sit out the contests.  However, I'm all ready planning for next years...

As for your bears....Ooooh, enter "Samuel" will you?  I think he's got the sweetest, most endearing face!  As others have said, you won't know til you try.  And I found many doors opening for me by just submitting contest entrants last year.  So just give it a go ~ you never know ...   :clap:  :hug:  :clap:  we may be applauding you in the New Year!!

BearBottoms 'Bear' Bottoms Originals
Ft. Bragg, NC
Posts: 2,465

Hi Debbie,

I'd simply LOVE to enter Samuel... I'd even more LOVE to HAVE Samuel, as he's gone to his new home, and I'm left heartbroken.  bear_cry I want to enter a bear that I actually have onhand, just in case it did win or be nominated, then I would have him with me.  Perhaps I need to make another in the same fashion as ol' Samuel.  I do love him so....  He's the bear that if I'd thought it through more, I'd have kept that big ol' boy....

Kimberly W.

Jare Hares & Bears Jare Hares & Bears
Polo, IL
Posts: 983

I would say that entering and getting the nominations has been the best thing for us. All the free publicity! Think of it as advertising expense.

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