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The Pustefix Zauberbär or Magic Bear (or Magician-Bear) is quite possibly the ideal semi-automatic bubble-blowing apparatus. This beautiful toy is a blue, red, or yellow plastic bear, some 15cm tall, with a wide-brimmed red park ranger hat. The upper part of the hat unscrews, leaving the brim as a drip-catcher. Squeeze the bear's body, ever so gently, and—abracadabra!—the yellow bubble ring pops up out of the top of the bear's open head like a prairie dog. (Except it's a bear not a hole in the ground, and it's a little yellow ring, not a prairie dog. But that's what it looks like. I swear.) Blow gently, and a flood of bubbles ensues. It might seem that unscrewing a bear's hat, squishing the bear, and blowing through the antennae that pop out of the bear's brain might be an odd or even disturbing method of making bubbles, but any who have used the Zauberbär will attest that it is hard to imagine a more perfect soap bubble toy.

My Zauberbär cost $6 (USD) at Finnegan's Toys and Gifts, and contains 180ml of the most excellent and long-lived Pustefix bubble solution. The bear can easily be refilled from a Pustefix Nachfüllflasche (refill bottle), or, for that matter, any other brand of bubble solution (but who would want that?). The Zauberbär has a toy classification number of 869-525, and is not suitable for children younger than 3 "because of liquid".

But wait... the fun doesn't stop at the bubbles! The park ranger hat brim is removable: it's merely a red plastic ring. Take it off altogether and put the lid back on, and you have Fez Bear. Put the ring on top of the hat, and you have Guinan Bear. (thanks jasonm!) Clip the plastic ring to be square, put it on top of the hat, and you have Grad Bear. The possibilities are virtually limitless!

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