In a medium saucepan heat and stir butter or margarine, brown sugar, and corn syrup or molasses over medium heat until margarine melts and sugar dissolves. Pour into a large mixing bowl; cool 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, soda, and cloves.
Stir egg and vanilla into margarine mixture. Stir in flour mixture. Cover and chill about 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.
To make each adult bear, shape some of the dough into one 1-1/2-inch ball (for body), one 1-inch ball (for head), three 1/4-inch balls (for nose and ears), two 1-3/4-inch long by 1/2-inch-wide logs (for arms), and two 1-1/2-inch-long by 3/4-inch-wide logs (for legs). If desired, taper legs so they are slightly wider at hand and feet ends.
On an ungreased cookie sheet flatten the 1-1/2-inch ball for body to a 2-inch round. Attach the 1-inch ball for head; flatten to a 1-1/2-inch round. Attach the 1/4-inch balls to the head for nose and ear. Attach the 1-3/4-inch-long logs for arms and the 1-1/2-inch-long logs for legs. (Do not attach legs for sledding teddies; place on baking sheet and bake separately.)
To make youth bears, make balls and logs a little smaller than those for the adult bears. To make baby bears, make balls and logs a little smaller than those for the youth bears. Assemble as for adult bear, flattening the body and head. Attach nose, ears, arms, and legs. (Do not attach legs for sledding teddies; place on baking sheet and bake separately.) For bears holding hands, assemble side by side on cookie sheet. Press hands together.
To decorate all bears before baking, press in chocolate pieces, point side up, for eyes. For paws, press chocolate pieces, point side down, into ends of arms and legs. (Press into arms only if making skating bears.)
Bake in a 325 degree F oven 15 minutes for adults, 12 minutes for youths, or 8 minutes for babies or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks; cool.
In a mixing bowl beat shortening and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Beat in enough milk (about 1 tablespoon) to make a frosting of spreading consistency.
For skating bears, cut small rectangles of heavy foil; diagonally trim ends to resemble skate blades. Attach under end of bears legs with frosting, leaving the longer side of each foil "blade" showing.
For sledding teddies, make a sled by attaching 2 candy canes (for runners) to a whole graham cracker with the frosting. Attach bodies upright to the sled with the frosting. (If necessary, cut the rounded end of the body off to make it easier to attach to the sled.) Then use the frosting to attach legs to body and sled as if bear were sitting with legs out front on the sled. To have a baby bear sitting atop the larger bear, attach the baby bear's body to the larger bear with the frosting. Attach the legs with frosting to the larger bears legs.