Rainbow Bondage Bear is One Direction's unofficial tour mascot. The soft toy was originally thrown on stage in Manchester by a fan during the band's 2014 Where We Are Tour. Since then, the bear has been positioned on the side of the stage at several Where We Are concerts and nearly every On The Road Again Tour concert, often posed in elaborate costuming and surrounded by props.
As of February 2016, the bears were still associated with One Direction via a Twitter account, and often tweet photos on significant days for the band. The Twitter account was deactivated on February 12, 2016, but has not been deleted, as the handle is still in use.
On May 30, 2014 a fan threw a plush rainbow bear onto the stage at a Manchester show during the Where We Are Tour. The bear appeared on the side of the stage the next day, but was covered in black tape. This led to the fan nickname Rainbow Bondage Bear, which would eventually be shortened to RBB. On August 12th, a Twitter account was made and drummer Josh Devine was the first to follow it. The bear was shown doing casual things in a hotel room such as watching Judy Garland films and drinking beer. The account was deleted on August 14, 2014 and the bear was absent at concerts until August 29th this time without the bondage tape but with red shoes. The bear did not appear again in 2014, after this concert.
On February 2, 2015 Josh Devine tweeted a photo of himself with RBB behind him as he rehearsed for the Australian leg of the On The Road Again Tour. The bear was then displayed at the vast majority of On The Road Again concerts, and the costuming/props became more elaborate as the tour progressed. For several shows, the bears were protected by a security guard.
RBB was displayed at a Babba Maal concert on January 24, 2016 and at a Little Mix concert on August 27, 2016.
Sugar Baby Bear
On June 13, 2015 at the On The Road Again concert held in Brussels, a second, smaller rainbow bear was displayed along with RBB. The fan-dubbed nickname comes from the term "sugar baby" meaning someone who dates a rich person they are financially dependent on. As RBB is often dressed in luxury outfits and uses royalty themed props, the nickname is inspired by the perceived relationship between the two bears.
After the original RBB Twitter account was deleted in August 2014, a second account was created on October 10, 2015. Josh Devine was first to follow the account and later tweeted he was not the person controlling the bears. The account often tweeted images of the bears in the same location as One Direction were at the time, and, in mid October, staged an image-based countdown leading up to the bears next concert reappearance after a short hiatus. As One Direction began playing arenas again towards the end of 2015, there was not always stage room for the bears to be displayed. It is speculated by some fans that the Twitter account was a way for the band to communicate on days where the bears could not be displayed on stage. On October 31, 2015, after the final OTRA concert, the account tweeted "Keep in touch. Back very soon. Much love & affection. Stay safe. Thanks to you all. RBB & SBB. xxxxx". The account was deactivated in February 2016.
During the final On The Road Again Tour shows, RBB and SBB were constantly displayed next to cell phones. On October 30 2015, they were displayed next to one real, working smartphone and fans were able to text messages to the number displayed. After that night's concert, the Twitter account tweeted a photo showing the phone had received over 11,000 messages.
1D Potato Rivalry
On November 18, 2015 One Direction filmed an interview and concert for Jimmy Kimmel's chat show. As part of an ongoing skit, Kimmel assigned a potato as the new official mascot for the band. He got the band to take a photo with it then started an Instagram account for the vegetable. As word spread, fans interacted with the account and Kimmel kept checking in to laugh at the fans for associating with anything related to One Direction. Fans became agitated with the prank and expressed their anger online. After the interview was aired, the RBB Twitter account posted a picture of both bears looking angry, with potato cooking utensils ready to use. It appeared to be a sign of understanding for fans who did not appreciate Kimmel's joke. On December 25, 2015, the Bears again tweeted an image of them angrily wrapping a "present" addressed to "the 1D potato" - a masher and a carving knife.
Harry and Louis Speculation
Many fans, and some media outlets, have speculated that the bears may serve as a way for the band - specifically rumoured closeted couple Harry and Louis, to communicate their situation to fans secretly. Speculation reached fever pitch when, during a September 2015 concert, the bears were displayed in wedding gear, with a framed picture of actor Larry Grayson next to them. Larry is the hybrid name given to Harry and Louis. During an October 2015 show, the bears had a blue and green spotlight shone directly onto them. Blue and green are the colors on Harry and Louis's microphones. Color coded communication isn't new to Harry and Louis speculation, after Harry wore a blue bandana during 2014 concerts where fans organised a project to wear color coded bandanas based on their favorite member. Louis's color was blue. The bears were displayed with items commonly associated with Harry and Louis such as a banana (a snack Harry often ate on stage), a skateboard (Louis often uses one), a baby bottle and a color coded microphone.
Speculation grew from the increasing amount of LGBTQ+ celebrities highlighted by the displays. RBB would often be posed with books written by or about gay entertainers, some of whom were heavily closeted. The bear was also seen reading books about celebrities who fought legal battles with their record labels, some had even clashed with One Direction's manager, Simon Cowell. The displays also featured brochures advertising drag shows, often highlighting iconic drag singer Divine.
On the Twitter account, the bears continue to highlight LGBTQ+ acts such as George Michael, Army Of Lovers and Erasure. When the account used Erasure's Andy Bell as their picture icon, Andy Bell thanked Harry and Louis for their support, despite no official word from the band as to who posted it.
In November 2015, the Twitter accounts location would change based on where the band were currently staying and, on a December 2015 day where Harry travelled back to London then Louis followed over the next 24 hours, the location changed to "Home...soon to return!". When Louis arrived in London, he tweeted the house emoji onto his official Twitter account, and the RBB location changed to "RBB Residence", which it remained as until the account was deleted in February 2016. On Louis's birthday, the account's profile picture was changed to drag singer Divine holding a birthday present. On Harry's 22nd birthday, the bears were photographed eating a cake with a number '22' candle.
In December 2015, the band was asked to comment on the bears, who said they were handled by tour crew. Fans noticed when the question was asked, Harry, Niall and Liam all immediately looked to Louis for an answer. Josh Devine was also asked to comment on the bears and he stated "It's one of the stage crew". This does not explain why the Twitter account continued to run for four months after One Direction finished touring, and two months after all album promotion concluded.
Some fans have speculated the bears may symbolise Liam at times, too, as RBB has been displayed in a batman outfit (Liam's favorite superhero) and their visual countdown also coincided with the band's October 20th concert cancellation, which was the day Liam's relationship with Sophia Smith ended. Some fans believe, like Harry and Louis, that Liam and Zayn were also a closeted couple, and Sophia was a "beard" girlfriend to make Liam appear heterosexual to female fans. The Twitter account of the bears also began a five-day countdown, leading to a break-up between Liam and Sophia exactly on the fifth day. On December 14, 2015 the Twitter account posted an image of RBB at a UK job centre. The next day Liam tweeted "Off to the job centre...hope it all wrks out". While it was an obvious reference to a famous 2010 tweet from Niall, fans wondered if there was a connection between Liam using the words "job centre" just after the RBB image was posted.
On February 12, 2016 the RBB Twitter account was deactivated. In the days leading up to this, several anonymous messages were sent to One Direction fan tumblr blogs stating it would happen. The account name - rbbsbbofficial - is still unable to be used, meaning the account was not deleted and the owners are continually renewing the account, as Twitter usually deletes deactivated accounts - freeing up the username for use - after 30 days. As of April 2017, the twitter handle is still unable to be used, meaning the owners have somehow reserved the name.