Toys of Yesterday: Teddy Ruxpin

3:00 PM on 11.21.2009 // Colette Bennett

I know to anyone born after 1985, the idea of a talking bear must seem like the lamest thing in the world. However, I was eight years old at the time Worlds of Wonder put Teddy Ruxpin on the market, and to me he was easily the coolest thing ever. I don't remember his exact price (I think he was about $70), but only that he was expensive — which made me think I might not get a chance to ever own one.

Lucky for me, my parents noticed me drooling over the TV commercials and decided to save up some money and surprise me at Christmas that year. It was the only gift I got, but I thought it was ten times cooler in person. You could not only play his tapes and watch him talk, but you could play regular audio tapes in him, too, and use him as a radio. As a child, I thought this was the epitome of awesome.

Hit the break for more on this fuzzy throwback from the Eighties.

Wow, just looking at the box and the books makes me feel such nostalgia! I remember paging through them over and over (but first, of course, I ripped out the cassette tape that made Teddy talk and jammed it in as quickly as possible). And it was just as good as I imagined ... in fact, even better.

Kind of creepy, isn't it? And yet at the time, I could recite the little "My name is Teddy Ruxpin ... can you and I be friends?" thing, like, pitch-perfectly. No wonder I didn't have too many friends back then. Anyway, Teddy went through quite a few incarnations, first being manufactured by Worlds of Wonder, then falling into Playskool's hands after they bankrupted.
Playskool tried to use a cartridge system instead of cassette tapes to bring Teddy to life, but they were easily damaged so that didn't last too long. He was distributed by Yes! Entertainment afterward and eventually fell into the hands of BackPack Toys, and you can in fact buy a shiny new version of him from them now.
It looks so happy and ... modern. Not that that's a bad thing, I guess. He uses digital cartridges now, too, and he's priced a little bit more moderately at $49.99. Wave of the future! Anyway, back in the day, Teddy had a friend named Grubby, who I also wanted (but did not get as one of these things was pricey enough as is).
Crappy picture quality, but hey, there they are! I recollect Ted had a few other friends too: Fobs, Wooly Whatsit, Tweeg and L.B. Bounder. I never had any of those either. I guess my parents figured one expensive-ass talking bear was plenty enough to keep me amused.
The unofficial Teddy Ruxpin FAQ advises that you can purchase one of the original Teddies mint in box for between $40-$100, but I've seen them at many a thrift store in my time, so if for some reason you want one just go hunting and I'll bet you'll bump into one. Can't promise you'll find a cassette to make him talk, but that's what eBay is for!
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Colette Bennett,
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