#5 Teddy Ruxpin?

Before I was the highly unaccomplished manchild you read before you today, I was actually a child. And like most children of the 80s and 90s and every other decade ever, I was all about some toys. If you approached me on the street this very day and asked me what my hobby was when I was seven years old, I would politely tell you, “Baseball.” But in my head, and in all honesty, I’m truly thinking, “Man, I wonder how much a good toy costs. I should go buy a toy.” However, both the federal and state governments, most insurance companies and employers, and all future romantic interests wish to classify me as an adult male. Fine. No toys. I get it.

But don’t ever say I wasn’t great at toys.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say you needed all four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Master Splinter, Metalhead, and Casey Jones relocated to the other side of the bathtub in an aquatic transport. Sure. Should April come with?

See? Maybe not the best there ever was. Granted. But a real contender in my own right.

When thinking about all the toys over the years, all the adventures, all the stories, dipping way back in the ol’ memory bank,teddy_ruxpin earlier and earlier, the retina of my mind’s eye fixes on the calm visage of a familiar friend. A friend who any little boy or girl could stay up with late into the night, almost until the break of 9:30, quietly listening to his sweet whispers in the dark. A friend indeed. Ladies and gentlemen, Teddy Ruxpin.

Our friend Teddy was, well, a teddy bear, released by toy company Worlds of Wonder (and later by Playskool, and then by Yes! Entertainment, and then again by Backpack Toys). But Teddy was not just any teddy bear, mind you. Unless your traditional stuffed animal buddy could tell you stories, sing songs, and lip the words in almost partially believable sync, which it couldn’t, all you needed was a little Teddy in your life. That’s right. Teddy. Mr. Ruxpin if you’re nasty.

Teddy Ruxpin is one of the oldest toys I can remember owning, but still one of the tops. He might possibly be the one toy to rule them all. Why? Because he was a huggable, soft, storytelling critter who was part heart, part machine. Like if the terminator was slightly more fashionably minded, infinitely cuddlier, and filled with exciting yet wholesome undertakings to speak of instead of trying to hunt you down and kill you to prevent your future baby (By the way, you’re pregnant). But how could a dumb toy tell the myriad stories I type of when drunk Uncle Ted can’t even do that correctly, you ask? The answer is simple. Magic, fool.

And by magic, I mean technology!

Here’s the deal: You put a cassette tape in Teddy’s back and push the play button. A story or song would start and Teddy would move his mouth like he was actually speaking/singing the words (I guess I’ve made this point abundantly clear by now), and the kid would sit and stare for hours. Follow that with a television series. Easy. But how did Teddy actually make it look like he was speaking; was it something with the tape, you ask again, a little more specifically this time?

Yes. Teddy actually read both sides of the Teddy Ruxpin Signature Series Audio Cassette Friendship Story Series® tapes which allowed the audio to play while the tape deck in his back read the other encoded side and interpreted the different pulses of each particular cassette into mouth movements that matched up to the audio. Yeah, that’s right. Encoding and stuff. What up?

It’s 2009, and I don’t get that. I’m not all scientifically minded and whatnot, but maybe you are and maybe your mind’s not exploded yet.

Hey nerd, if all that’s just not Johnny Mnemonic enough for ya, then how about this, four-eyes? Shortly after the release of Teddy Ruxpinteddygrubby comes Teddy’s best friend (besides you, of course), the GRUBBY! Out comes Grubby to the party complete with a cable that hooks into Teddy and a speaker that provides just the audio for the Grubby dialogue in a full-on feast-for-the-ears extreme mega story session. But what if, because of all these tapes I have to buy each week to keep my kid from crying all damn night, I can’t afford a Grubby doll, too? That’s okay, friend, because Teddy will read the Grubby stuff should no Grubby be present/hooked up. But how does Teddy know which parts of the audio not to mouth? I don’t know. Come on. I researched all that other stuff. On the net. He’s just Teddy. He waits patiently in silence for you to awake. He knows.

I realize that a lot of other rememberers of Teddy hold that he wasn’t a great toy. Not a great toy? It’s a proven statistic that, as of 2005, 30% of North America’s orphans are being raised by Teddy Ruxpin dolls. JK. Seriously though, I’ve spoken to a number of people who were “creeped out” by the doll and are still irked by his moving eyes and mouth. I must admit that I’ve preyed on this characteristic of Teddy myself. I put a regular ole audio tape into an old Teddy Ruxpin doll and played it for my much younger cousin so that Teddy would start malfunctioning (because he tried to read the other audio side as movement pulses). When the kid asked me what was happening, I told him that Teddy was telling the bad wizards to come take all his bones.

So maybe Teddy is a little creepy, but he still kept a whole bunch of kids from being lonely at night, so he gets my AWESOME TOY stamp of approval that I’m currently considering having patented. Teddy was the man. I salute him. May someone buy him for their kid at a Goodwill so that he may sing his song another day.

Teddy Ruxpin commercial! Yay!

And another:

And NOW with Grubby friend! GRUBBY!

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~ by Kevtron on May 1, 2009.

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fighting fire with unlit matches

Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches /// Recruit my army from the orphanages

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