Hi, I’m Teddy Ruxpin! Want to Play?
If you grew up in the 80s or 90s then I’m sure you remember “Teddy Ruxpin – The Original Storytelling Toy” that was creepier than Chucky from the Child’s Play movie series.
I was 3 years old when Teddy Ruxpin hit the shelves. I remember the first time I came across one I was mesmerized by this amazing technology. When I was a very young lad Teddy was one of those toys all my friends had. Instead I had a crappy talking Big Bird with a string hanging from his back.
As I got a little older the Child’s Play movies came out, and I started looking at Ruxpin a bit differently. If a bad spirit is gonna possess a teddy bear, Teddy Ruxpin is the perfect candidate.
With the jokes about him being scary as hell aside, I thought it would be fun to pay tribute to this freaky talking bear. He may have been creepy, but he was a technological marvel of his time. The 80s kids faces when they see Teddy in the following commercial might be even creepier.
Video Source – RetroStatic
About Teddy Ruxpin
Teddy Ruxpin is an animatronic children’s toy in the form of a talking bear. The bear’s mouth and eyes moved while “reading” stories that were played on an audio tape cassette deck built into its back. It was created by Ken Forsse with later assistance by Larry Larsen and John Davies, and the first version of the toy was designed by the firm RKS Design. Later versions would use a digital cartridge in place of a cassette. At the peak of his popularity, Teddy Ruxpin became the best-selling toy of 1985 and 1986, and the newest version was awarded the 2006 Animated Interactive Plush Toy of the Year by Creative Child Magazine. A cartoon based on the characters debuted in 1986.
Conventional Compact Cassettes carried two audio tracks for stereo sound reproduction. Teddy Ruxpin cassettes used the left track for audio and the right track for a control data stream. The data stream controlled servomotors that moved the eyes and mouth and could also divert the audio signal to Grubby, the companion toy, by means of a proprietary cable. This allowed the two to engage in pre-recorded interactions. Grubby only worked with the initial WOW release of Teddy Ruxpin.
If a conventional audio cassette was played in Teddy Ruxpin, this would be detected and its right audio track would be ignored. Early versions of the toy used three servo motors, but this was reduced to two in later versions.
From his debut in September 1985 various toy makers have produced Teddy Ruxpin over the years. The first was Worlds Of Wonder from 1985 until its bankruptcy in 1988. The toy’s rights were then sold to Hasbro, and produced again from 1991 to 1996. Another version debuted in 1998 by YES! Entertainment. In 2006, the latest version of Teddy Ruxpin, created by BackPack Toys, debuted.
Shortly after his debut, Teddy Ruxpin was dubbed the “Official Spokesbear for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children” in 1985.
Worlds of Wonder
Teddy Ruxpin was first produced in 1985 by toy manufacturer Worlds of Wonder. They also released the companion toy Grubby and several other non-animatronic companion toys and characters. This included two different versions of the bird-like Fobs (one orange, one purple) that were hand puppets with a sock-like, extendable neck.
Other hand puppets were the larger Wooly What’s-It, three interchangeable Anythings (This, That, The Other), Tweeg, and L.B. The Bounder. Other items produced by Worlds of Wonder for Teddy Ruxpin were the Answer Box and Picture Show.
With the strength of its line of toys, Worlds of Wonder’s fortunes rose well beyond its assets. Stock trades by company officers spooked investors. Attempting to stem the tide, WoW issued Non-Investment Grade Bonds, commonly known as junk bonds, in an effort to buoy itself.
Although there is some contention as to whether this strategy would have helped, the attempt was made moot by the 1987 stock market crash. Worlds of Wonder filed for bankruptcy protection and was liquidated in 1988. They went through a series of layoffs. The creditors continued to operate the company in receivership until finally closing its doors in late 1990.
By 1991 Worlds of Wonder had folded and the remaining assets were liquidated.The Teddy Ruxpin toy line was then picked up by Hasbro, which produced him under their Playskool line until 1996 using the redesign that had been implemented by WoW. This design was smaller and used cartridges that resembled 8-track tapes, instead of cassette tapes. Unfortunately, this cartridge system proved to be easily damaged.
Video Source – Beta MAX
In 1998, Yes! Entertainment brought Teddy Ruxpin back to stores for a third time. The toy’s size was largely the same as the Playskool version. Yes! returned to using the standard cassette tapes. This venture was short-lived, however, as Yes! Entertainment’s corporate management and financial troubles ultimately resulted in AlchemyII withdrawing the licensing for Teddy.
During this production of Teddy Ruxpin, the original Hi-Topps videos were edited and released to work alongside Teddy using the Interactive TV & Video Pack. There was also a small Beanie Baby version of the toy that came boxed with the YES! Teddy Ruxpin in an effort to capitalize on the popularity of Beanie Babies at the time.
In 2005, BackPack Toys announced a fourth version of Teddy Ruxpin, which replaced the audio tapes with digital cartridges. Although Teddy Ruxpin is no longer produced by BackPack Toys, some remaining toys and cartridges are available via online retail channels.
Wicked Cool Toys
Wicked Cool Toys announced in late 2016 that they would produce a new Teddy Ruxpin in fall of 2017. This Teddy Ruxpin will not come with physical cartridges, instead being programmed with 3 stories inside of the toy. The rest of the stories will be available for purchase on a mobile app.
Video Source – retrowhiztv
In 1986, during the height of Teddy Ruxpin’s popularity, Worlds of Wonder combined with different partners to give safety messages to children. Some of these collaborations included firefighters, as well as the United States Lifesaving Association.
Actress Joanna Kerns served as spokesperson for the toy shortly after its introduction. Kerns herself was at the height of her fame as Maggie Seaver, the family matriarch on the ABC-TV sitcom Growing Pains.
In 1987, Worlds of Wonder contracted with Wendy’s restaurants to feature a Teddy Ruxpin themed Kid’s Meal promotion. These were similar to the miniatures produced by Worlds of Wonder, except they were smaller and flocked.
Also in 1987, Teddy Ruxpin characters joined the Ice Capades program, which toured the country.
Phil Baron was the voice actor on all tapes and on the TV show, but he left the entertainment industry in the 1990s to become a cantor. Baron is currently the only voice actor officially associated with the property, as Teddy Ruxpin has been the only character in the storyline requiring updated voice recordings for new projects.
Will Ryan voiced Grubby in the 1980s and returned as Grubby in the early 1990s for a musical project. The late Tony Pope was the original voice of Newton Gimmick. Pope, as well as other voice actors who provided voice talent for AlchemyII in the 1980s, did not reprise their roles in the television series The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin because production was moved to Canada; John Stocker replaced Pope as Gimmick for this production.
Baron and Ryan have provided the voices of Teddy and Grubby, respectively, in every Teddy Ruxpin incarnation and project since 1985. Ryan also voiced the character of Tweeg in the adventure series but was replaced by John Koensgen for the television series.
Additionally, Russi Taylor and Katie Leigh did the voices of Leota the Woodsprite and Princess Aruzia, respectively, on the book-and-tapes, but when the TV series was produced in Canada, Holly Larocque and Abby Hagyard took over the roles.
The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin
The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin was a television series that ran from 1986 to 1987. In the series, Teddy Ruxpin leaves his homeland in Rillonia with his friend Grubby in search of adventure. They meet up with an inventor, named Newton Gimmick, who accompanies them on their quest for the Treasure of Grundo.
The trio unexpectedly find six crystals with different meanings and powers. These crystals, however, also can enable the Monsters and Villains Organization (MAVO) to have absolute power over the land, and their leader, Quellor, wants to make sure that an Illiop never possesses the crystals.
Elsewhere, a less pronounced threat also routinely besieged the trio: the wannabe villain Jack W. Tweeg, a greedy troll/grunge who has his eyes on joining MAVO. The sixty-five episode series unfolds gradually, as the trio meet interesting and often friendly creatures while visiting intriguing lands and going on wondrous, yet wholesome, adventures.
At least two other companies produced tapes that would work with the Teddy Ruxpin toy. Both Veritel Learning Systems and Vector Intercontinental made Teddy Ruxpin compatible tapes. Worlds of Wonder successfully sued these companies, and the courts ordered the tapes be removed from the market.
Though I though Teddy Ruxpin was super creepy, it was fun putting together this tribute post. I hope you enjoyed it. Let us know your thoughts on Teddy Ruxpin in the comment section below.
Source – Wikipedia