Adventures of the Gummi Bears is an American animated television series that aired in the United States in the mid-1980s through the early 1990s. The series was the first animated production by Walt Disney Animation Television, and loosely inspired by gummi bear candies; Disney CEO Michael Eisner was struck with inspiration for the show when his son requested the candies one day. The series premiered on NBC on September 14, 1985, and aired there for four seasons. The series moved to ABC for one season from 1989 to 1990 as a part of Disney's Gummi Bears/Winnie the Pooh Hour, in which it would be paired with The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and concluded on September 6, 1991 as part of The Disney Afternoon. Of the series' 67 shows, 30 were double-features, consisting of two 11-minute cartoons, thereby bringing the series total to 97 distinct episodes overall. The show is well-remembered for its theme music, written by Michael and Patty Silversher.
The series was later rebroadcast on the syndicated Disney Afternoon block, and rerun on the Disney Afternoon through the summer of 1991. In later years, it was shown in reruns on the Disney Channel and Toon Disney, with its most recent televised airing occurring on Toon Disney on December 28, 2001. Seasons 1 to 3 of the series were released on DVD on November 14, 2006. Presently (2020) all seasons are available on Disney+.
- Main article: Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode list
The series focuses on the escapades of the eponymous "Gummi Bears," anthropomorphic bears who are the last remnants of a once-great civilization of Gummies that fled the land centuries ago when humans, jealous of the advancements and magical skills of the Gummi Bears, forced the species into exile. Now regarded by most of humankind as fairytales, the show's main cast of Gummi Bears (six in number at the outset of the series, increased to seven during the third season) live in the vast subterranean warren of Gummi Glen in the medieval kingdom of Dunwyn.
The Gummies' modern adventures begin when they are discovered by a human boy named Cavin who happens to have a Gummi Bear Medallion, found by his grandfather many years earlier. After he accidentally enters the colony's underground home of Gummi Glen, they capture and interrogate the boy as to how he gained the medallion. During the questioning, Cavin escapes after one of the bears inadvertently gives him Gummiberry Juice to drink, but refuses to cause any harm and attempts to befriend the reclusive bears. Impressed by this civilized behavior, they make him swear to keep their confidence and make him a privileged friend of the colony. The medallion helps their eldest bear to magically unlock the colony's Great Book of Gummi, an essential reference guide to the forgotten knowledge of the Gummi Bears. Inspired by its writings, the colony resolves to rediscover their heritage and help Dunwyn defend against evil. Later, another human from Dunwyn accidentally learns that the Gummi Bears are real: the young daughter of the king, Princess Calla. She also promises to keep the Gummies' existence a secret. In subsequent seasons, the Gummies would befriend or be discovered by other friendly humans.
The main antagonist of both Dunwyn and the Gummies is Duke Sigmund Igthorn, a renegade noble with an army of Ogres, from the neighboring province of Drekmore. Unfortunately, in stopping Igthorn's attempt to bombard his enemies with a grand catapult, the Gummi Bears alert him to their presence. Igthorn will stop at nothing to discover and exploit their secrets to become invincible and capture Dunwyn Castle. Chief among his primary goals is gaining a reliable supply of the Gummi Bears' vital strategic substance, Gummiberry Juice, a magic potion that endows Gummi bears with bouncing abilities, but gifts humans (or Ogres) with momentary super-strength as well as other numerous uses, including serving as fuel for machines.
In addition to combating Igthorn's ambition, the Gummies regularly encounter other evil humans and magical beings ranging from wizards to gods, all the while attempting to hide their existence from the world at large. One of the show's main recurring storylines outside of the schemes of Igthorn is the mystery of the ancient Gummies, who are now scattered all across the world, but who have left advanced technology behind, like the vast underground network of Quick Tunnels and their Quick Cars, or the Gummiscopes.
- Gummi Bears - A species of anthropomorphic bears who are mostly unknown to the world.
- Gruffi Gummi is an old-fashioned bear who prefers to do things "the Gummi way", and the leader of Gummi Glen. An extremely skilled craftsman and mechanic, he is the one that often fixes the old Gummi technology and trap doors, as well as building traps around the Glen to deal with Humans and Ogres. When it comes to building and using tools he is a perfectionist, which can be his undoing at times. However, at other times Gruffi is often the voice of stability when the other Gummies fall into despair. Voiced by Bill Scott in season 1, and Corey Burton in seasons 2-6.
- Zummi Gummi is an aged bear who is the Gummi Glen Gummies' "Keeper of Gummi Wisdom" and later the holder of the Gummi Bear Medallion, which he uses to unlock and read the Great Book of Gummi to become the group's magician. He is forgetful and clumsy, and his spells tend to backfire. He also had a fear of heights early on. Voiced by Paul Winchell in seasons 1-5, and Jim Cummings in season 6.
- Grammi Gummi is another old bear who is the matriarch of Gummi Glen. She acts as the group's mother, who cooks, cleans, and is the Gummi who prepares the Gummiberry Juice. She holds the secret recipe, and wants to pass it down to Sunni when she is of age. She has a huge rivalry with Gruffi Gummi, and tends to bicker with him over what has to be done. Voiced by June Foray.
- Tummi Gummi is an overweight, teenaged Gummi who enjoys a good meal, and would much rather be eating the gummiberries, than picking them. He has a rather relaxed and easygoing personality, which often gets him caught up in Cubbi's schemes. However in dangerous situations Tummi has shown exceptional bravery. Throughout the series he shows signs of being a talented sailor, gardener, artist and craftsman. Voiced by Lorenzo Music.
- Sunni Gummi is a preteen Gummi, who dreams about becoming a princess just like her best friend, the human Princess Calla. Sunni is the most curious about human culture and human fashion, and least concerned with Gummi history. Later in the series she is shown to have a crush on Gusto. Voiced by Katie Leigh.
- Cubbi Gummi is the youngest Gummi Glen Gummi, and dreams of becoming a great Gummi knight. He is incredibly curious and has a tendency to get distracted by the mysterious or the exciting. He sometimes dons a mask and becomes a vigilante known as the "Crimson Avenger". He is best friends with the human page Cavin. Voiced by Noelle North.
- Augustus "Gusto" Gummi is an artistic, individualist Gummi who was stranded on a deserted island for twelve years with his best friend Artie Deco, a wise-talking toucan. Tummi and Gruffi were shipwrecked on Gusto's island, just as a volcano was due to erupt and cause the island to sink into the sea. The three bears worked together and brought Gusto home with them to Gummi Glen in the season 2 finale. Gruffi tends to argue with Gusto for his outside-the-box thinking, and how much influence he is on Cubbi and Sunni. He lives by himself in a makeshift apartment behind a waterfall but lives in Gummi Glen when the weather is too harsh. Voiced by Rob Paulsen.
- Other Gummi Bears - Over the course of the series, the Glen Gummies encounter a few other Gummi Bears. Among them are brief encounters with Chummi Gummi (Jim Cummings), the Gummi Bears of Gummadoon, and the ghost of Sir Gallant (Michael Rye), as well as recurring appearances by Sir Thornberry (Walker Edmiston), Ursa (Pat Musick) and her tribe of Barbics like Gritty (Peter Cullen), Grubby (Brian Cummings), Buddy (Dana Hill), and others, who settle in the ancient Gummi city of Ursalia.
- Cavin - A teenaged page to Sir Tuxford, an ally of the Gummi Bears and one of the few people who try keeping their existence a secret from other humans. He is Cubbi's best friend, and both share the dream of becoming a knight one day. Voiced by Christian Jacobs in season 1, Brett Johnson in season 2, David Faustino in season 3, Jason Marsden in seasons 4-5, plus one episode of season 6, and R.J. Williams in the rest of season 6.
- Calla - A tomboyish, teenaged princess who despises her father's dream of her being the most 'perfect princess'. She learns about the Gummi's existence early on and tries keeping them a secret as well. She is best friends with Sunni. Voiced by Noelle North.
- King Gregor - Calla's single father, and benevolent ruler over the Kingdom of Dunwyn. Voiced by Michael Rye.
- Sir Tuxford - Cavin's Superior and Captain of the Knights of Dunwyn. Voiced by Bill Scott in season 1, Roger C. Carmel in season 2, and Brian Cummings in seasons 3-6.
- Sir Gawain - Cavin's grandfather and a former Knight of Dunwyn, who believes in the Gummi bears and often regales tales and legends from Gummi lore to anyone who will listen. Long ago, he encountered a Gummi Bear while adventuring near the Gummi city of Ursalia, and recovered a Gummi medallion the bear had dropped. Sir Gawain kept the medallion with him as a good luck charm throughout his service as a knight. When Cavin becomes a page at the beginning of the series, he entrusts the medallion to his grandson for good luck, and thus helps set the events of the series in motion. Voiced by Michael Rye.
- The White Knight - Sir Victor Igthorn, twin brother of Sigmund, and a brave and honorable roaming knight, who is admired by the citizens of Dunwyn, including Cavin, Calla, and Cubbi. Initially, he tries to keep his family connection to the series' main villain a secret, but is not held accountable once it is revealed. Voiced by Michael Rye.
- Princess Marie - The daughter of King Jean-Claude. Originally a spoiled brat, she considered Calla a rival and picked a fight with her on every occasion. After both their lives are saved by the Gummi Bears, however, she mellows considerably and becomes one of Calla's best friends. Voiced by Kath Soucie.
- Duke Sigmund Igthorn was once a knight of Dunwyn. At some point prior to the series, he was banished from the kingdom for staging a military coup against King Gregor. Afterwards, Duke Igthorn moved to Drekmore, a dangerous land bordering Dunwyn. There he took command of the native Ogres and occupies a rundown castle called Drekmore Castle and began scheming to get revenge against Dunwyn. His first attempt was through a giant catapult, which was foiled by Cavin and the Gummi Bears. However, because of the Gummi Bears' intervention, Duke Igthorn came to know of the Gummi Bears and their juice. From there on, he would frequently attempt to gain access to the potion because of the vast strength it would give humans, which would presumably assist in his schemes. Despite occasional bumbling and a slight streak of cowardice, Igthorn is a valid threat to both Gummi Glen and the Kingdom of Dunwyn. Voiced by Michael Rye.
- Toadwart "Toadie" serves as Igthorn's right hand. He is both the smallest, yet the most intelligent of the Ogres, evidenced by his extensive vocabulary, although his overall intelligence is only slightly above the others. He is often bullied because of his size, though the other Ogres do respect his skills at reading and writing. Voiced by Bill Scott in season 1, and Corey Burton in seasons 2-6.
- Ogres - The large, multicolored, low-intelligence henchmen native to Drekmore. Often commandeered by Toadie, they do Igthorn's bidding in his many schemes to take over Castle Dunwyn. Two Ogres addressed by name are Gad and Zook. In most (but not all) episode appearances, Gad is a purple Ogre wearing a metal helmet, and Zook is a green Ogre with orange hair. Voiced by Will Ryan.
- Unwin - Another page to the Knights of Dunwyn, and a slightly older bully toward Cavin. He doesn't believe in Gummi Bears, and is revealed to be a coward. Voiced by Will Ryan.
- Lady Bane - A villainous sorceress and secondary antagonist in the series. She is served by hyena-like Troggles in Victorian era clothing. Unlike Castle Drekmore, which is dirty and in disrepair, Lady Bane's Castle is clean and luxurious. She is quite vain; in one episode she not only laments her failure at being foiled by the Gummies, but also that she chipped one of her nails. She is an attractive woman with long black hair, which has gotten her the attention of Duke Igthorn. Although she does not care much for Igthorn, she does agree to a dinner date with him on the basis of forging an alliance to attack Gummi Glen. She owns the only other Gummi Bear Medallion, beside the medallion gifted to Zummi at the beginning of the series. Voiced by Tress MacNeille.
- Trolls - Foes to Castle Dunwyn and its surrounding villages, they loot and plunder. Their leader, Clutch, is the smartest of the bunch, and uses his pod shooter to scar his victims. He commandeers a gang of trolls, but his main two lackeys are Nip and Tuck.
- Carpies - Vulture-like creatures with arms and wings that live up high on Carpy Mountain, ruled by an evil king. One of the Carpies, Bobo, appears to be the only one of his species with a friendly demeanor towards Gummi Bears.
- Flint Shrubwood - A headhunter ordered by Duke Igthorn. Igthorn rejects paying him for his job after catching Cubbi. He briefly takes over Drekmore and puts Igthorn and Cubbi in jail. They break free, and Flint follows them until Igthorn pays him and Flint disappears. The character is a parody of Clint Eastwood's appearance in the Dollar-Trilogy (1964-1966), and uses the striking quote "Make My Day". Voiced by Corey Burton.
- Lord Willoughby - An arrogant, grumpy man who dislikes Sir Gawain's stories involving Gummi Bears. Voiced by Will Ryan.
- Main article: Gummiberry Juice
Gummiberry Juice is a concoction formulated using gummiberries by the Gummi Glen Gummi Bears, with the recipe being held by women such as Grammi Gummi, and later on Sunni Gummi. The juice is produced by adding 6 handfuls of red berries, then 4 orange ones, three purple, 4 blue and 3 green and a yellow berry, among other undisclosed ingredients. The recipe ends with the 3-step-stir: first stir slow to the right, then slow to the left, then bang the pot to get out the bubbles. The juice when consumed has varied effects depending on the species or race that consumes the juice.
Gummi Bears gain the ability to bounce at unusual heights for a limited amount of time. Ogres and humans both gain super strength for a similar amount of time. Drinking too much Gummiberry Juice have an unforeseen side effects on the consumer, and it appears that the abilities gained from drinking the juice only can be used once per day. Also if the juice is produced inaccurately from the recipe the results are explosive outcomes, though nothing fatal.
In the series, the Juice was used a major plot device with the main reoccurring villain Duke Igthorn trying get the juice or the recipe to create mass amounts to make a huge super strength army of Ogres. Another reoccurring theme was the Gummi Bears, or their companions, using the juice to fight off Duke Igthorn and other villains.
Home video releases
- Main article: Adventures of the Gummi Bears videography
On November 14, 2006, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears: Volume 1 on DVD in Region 1. The 3-disc set features seasons 1-3 and does not contain any bonus features.
Various countries outside of the US have released VHS copies of episodes from the series.
- ARD (see: Germany, below)
- ORF eins (original run 17 May - 30 August 2008, reruns 3 February - 9 May 2012)
- Canal 13 (1992–1995, 1999–2001)
- FR 3 (1986)
- ARD (original run 20 June – 25 July 1988 [first 21 episodes], reruns March–April 1990, original run continued as part of Disney Club: 5 January 1991 – 9 November 1991 [episode 22 to the end]; reruns June–October 1994, January–December 1995)
- Super RTL (regular reruns January 1996 – July 2001, January–May 2004, January–July 2005, January–March 2006, January–March 2007, July–August 2008, September–October 2011, April–September 2012)
- Disney Channel (pay-TV reruns 2001 – November 2013; free-TV reruns April 2014 – July 2016)
- Playhouse Disney (pay-TV reruns November 2004 – April 2010)
- Disney Junior (pay-TV reruns July 2011 – December 2015)
- Rai Uno (1986)
- Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (1987)
- WoWow (1994)
- Latin America
- Disney Channel (2000–2003)
- NCRV (1986–1988)
- Disney Junior (16 January 2012 – 22 November 2013)
- TVP1 (1990, 23 June – 15 December 1991, 17 January – 13 June 1993, 6 February – 24 December 1994, 31 January – 13 June 1999, 19 September – 25 December 1999, 2 July 2000 – 7 January 2001, 11 April 2004 – 2 January 2005, 18 March 2007 – 15 June 2008)
- Polsat (6 September 2008)
- OITV - channel Ostankino (1992)
- Disney Channel (including Playhouse Disney and Disney Junior blocks) (1 March 2003 – 14 August 2005, 1–29 February 2012, 12 March – 5 October 2012, 5–30 November 2012, 23–26 December 2012, 2–24 February 2012, 23–26 December 2013, 8 June – 14 August 2015)
- Toon Disney (6 August 2005 – 29 May 2009)
- Disney Junior (16 January 2012 – 22 November 2013)
- Playhouse Disney (2002–2011)
- SVT (1994–1995)
- United Kingdom
- ITV (1987–1998)
Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears was Disney's first major serialized animated television series (it was aired back to back with another show, The Wuzzles, which lasted only 13 episodes), and is often credited by animators and animation historians as having helped jump start the television animation boom of the mid-1980s and 1990s. This was partially because unlike competitors like Hanna-Barbera and Filmation, Disney as a multi-media conglomerate could drawn upon its considerable financial resources for a lavish production budget for television for this series, gambling that they could profit in syndication.
Consequently, it also became the forerunner to Disney's famous Disney Afternoon timeslot, which gave way to other famous serialized Disney television series, such as DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Goof Troop, Bonkers and Gargoyles. Although many of these subsequently-created shows exceeded Gummi Bears in budget and length, it is often credited as the sort of prototype to all of the subsequent animation which followed it, with DuckTales really jumpstarting the trend with competitors forced to either raise their artistic standards to compete like Hanna-Barbera or inspire new competitors of equivalent corporate size to enter the field with similar financial commitments such as Warner Bros.
Additionally, while not having the largest number of total episodes, Gummi Bears has the biggest number of seasons of any Disney animated series. Whereas other shows simply produced large numbers of episodes for each of their seasons (DuckTales, for instance, had 100 episodes over three years), Gummi Bears is unique in that it was actually annually renewed for new episodes over six consecutive years, a feat which few other children's animated series can boast even today.
The show was so successful in the United Kingdom that the episodes "A New Beginning" and "Faster Than a Speeding Tummi" were released as theatrical featurettes there in 1986 and 1987. Other appearances of Gummi Bears in other media included one appearance of Gruffi Gummi starring in a D-TV music video of the Elvis Presley song "Teddy Bear" in 1986.
The show's popularity also led to a re-theming of Disneyland's Motor Boat Cruise, along with a small part of Disneyland that became known as "Disney Afternoon Avenue." The Motor Boat Cruise became the "Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen" and plywood characters from the show made Gummiberry Juice along the waterway. The Gummi Bears, and on occasion human characters such as Duke Igthorn, Princess Calla, or King Gregor, have also been featured as meetable characters who greet guests in Disney theme parks. However, all of the characters from the show have not made any appearances for many years and are now retired.
A comic strip based on the TV show (featuring just the Gummi Bears themselves) was produced from 1986-1989. The Sunday strips would have a fun fact and activity along with the actual Sunday strip. Some of the comics would be rereleased in 2021, as part of the book Darkwing Duck: Just Us Justice Ducks: Disney Afternoon Adventures Vol. 1.
The first four seasons of the show (39 episodes) were animated by the prestigious Japanese animation studio TMS Entertainment. Animation duties for the fifth season (8.5 episodes) were passed on to Walt Disney Animation Japan, Inc.; a move that went relatively unnoticed, stylistically, as the studio itself was spun off from TMS Entertainment.
Animation production for the sixth and final season was distributed among several different studios, which resulted in noticeable style changes. While Walt Disney Animation Japan, Inc. is still credited responsible for the production of nearly half the season, those episodes were mainly animated by the South Korean studios Taesang Ind. Co., Ltd (8 episodes), and Hanho Heung-Up Co., Ltd ("Toadie the Conqueror", shared production with Taesang Ind. Co., Ltd), Brazil's Guimaraes Productions (the half-episode segment "Friar Tum"), and China's Jade Animation Productions Limited (the series finale "King Igthorn, Part II"). The episode "Thornberry to the Rescue" is credited to Walt Disney Animation Japan, Inc., but differs in style as well, likely due to the uncredited studio Big Star being involved. The remaining 8 episodes of the sixth season were animated by the studio Walt Disney Television Animation Australia.
- Season 1 Episode 14 - "The Secret of the Juice"
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears on Wikipedia
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears - Official Page on Disney Channel Germany's website
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