(reprinted from The Australian Apple Review - June 1987)

The caption on the box of this delightful program declares "for people of all ages' and if the widely varying age-groups attending Sydney's annual Teddy Bear's Picnic in Wentworth Park are anything to go by, it's probably true.

Everyone seems to have had a Teddy Bear at one time or another and if they've now graduated to micro-computers they could combine the two things and play with both toys at once. Either that or let the kids have the computer to them- selves for a while and let them play. This nice piece of software lets you create pictures of Teddy Bears in a variety of situations using props, backgrounds and settings in a sort of "mix and match" style, then add text to the picture either as a "speech balloon" in cartoon fashion or as a caption to the picture. Having done all this you then have the option to print the picture in several different ways: half-page picture, full-page picture, 4-page poster (you paste the pages together to form the poster) or as a standard 4" sticky label which takes the bottom half of the picture to make the label. They're good printouts and the program supports a range of popular printers.

The label option is very handy for making personalized labels for books and records etc and in the label-making mode the screen is marked off to show you the portion to be used in printing your label so that you can properly plan it.

It's a two-disk set, the second disk being a data-library of extra Teddy Bears and "clip-art" bits and pieces and the two disks together give a huge range of options. There are small Teddy Bears, medium Teddy Bears and large Teddy Bears, backgrounds for all four seasons, as well as "beach" "windy day" and "lake" settings. There are props to use in varying situations like "picnic", "beach", "outdoor" etc, and you can add grass, clouds, sidewalks etc to the picture as you build it. Then there are even more Teddy Bears in "acting" and "performing" poses, Teddy Bears in silly hats, and a further section where you can play at dressing Papa, Mama or Baby Bear in a selection of clothes provided.

The various Teddy Bears, props and other bits of clip-art are selected from actual pictures rather than descriptions, so you see exactly what you're adding to your picture. Once selected you move the item around the picture with the cursor keys and when it's in the right spot you press Return to "drop" it in place. Very easy and the younger folk will love playing with this one. You can of course erase a piece if you make a mistake and it's all very nice and creative. To round off the picture you have a choice of 10 different borders, including Butterflies, Music, Flowers and Leaves, Balloons etc, plus seven fonts in varying sizes so the combinations of actors, props, backdrops and other decorations is virtually endless.

The software is menu-driven and can be operated almost without reference to the manual when setting up the various options, although you'll use the last chapter a lot when setting up your pictures. It has around 15 pages, is called "Teddy's Graphics Quick Reference Guide", and it shows every graphic available. It also has some good suggestions for pictures, labels and signs to help you get started. In my view this is how good software should be presented, nice easy-to-follow menus with a good manual to refer to when you find it necessary. The manual helps a lot also when setting up your printer with helpful hints on such things as interfaces and linefeeds etc and takes you through the process of setting up a data disk for storage of the pictures you create so that you can use them again and again.

An especially nice touch is the facility to make what they call "an Electronic Show" which is an automatic slide-show displaying up to ten of your pictures in a sideways scrolling sequence. To make this slide-show you select "Initialize a Data Disk" from the data disk menu and the program formats the disk and puts the slide-show boot program on it too. You then create your pictures and save them to the disk as you make them, and when it's all done you sit back to watch your slide-show. This is a great feature for making animated nursery rhymes or other kid's stories and could be a great teaching aid if used in say a sequence teaching Road Safety with Teddy Bears looking both ways before crossing etc. caption at the bottom of the picture saying "The sailing bears were all at sea one sunny day, when all of a sudden . . . " This looks like a great opening shot for another nine pictures of a pirate tale which the kids would enjoy.

On top of all this you can make your own Special Artwork with a Koala Pad and save it to your data disk, to be loaded in when required and used with the existing artwork. If you do this, of course, your work is entirely your own and no one else can possibly make a picture exactly like yours.

The program originates in the USA and is published by Developmental Learning Materials of Allen, Texas (just say the title Teddy BearRels of Fun out loud to check how your American accent is coming along!) and is part of a long list of educational software packages

One of the examples in the manual shows a boatload of Teddy Bears dressed as pirates with the lookout bear saying in a speech balloon "There's land ahead, Captain" and a story-line covering Math/Problem Solving, Geography, Computer Literacy, Language Arts, Early Childhood, Creative Arts, etc. etc. It's in this last category that Teddy BearRels of Fun falls.The accompanying material says: "Just imagine the fun of creating Teddy Bear stories, pictures, posters, labels, stickers etc with this unique new software program. Children will love it, parents and teachers will too!" The program encourages creative thinking, writing and artistic skills as well as giving practice in spelling and vocabulary skills to younger folk.

As there are over 200 separate pieces of art, plus borders and a variety of fonts, there's tremendous scope for invention and creativity. Over 30 printers are supported, including the latest colour printers. Your printouts can be done either "filled in" or in "outline" only. This latter facility is great for making your own colouring-in books, handy for youngsters on those rainy days!

The leaflet also mentions a Teddy Bear-Rels of Fun Activity Booklet which shows how to make patterns for craft projects such as paper dolls, needlepoint, knitting, crocheting, applique and stencilling.

All in all it's a good-value program for almost any age-group and is available for Apple ll, llc and lle at R.R.P. $67.98 ($59.95 excluding tax where applicable) from good stockists everywhere.

Bv Eric Holroyd Teddy Bear-Rels of Fun is distributed in Australia by: Dataflow Computer Services, 134 Barcom Ave, Rushcutters Bay, NSW2011.Ph:331-6513

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