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2011/70/1 Teddy bear, 'Teddy Ruxpin', mixed materials, Worlds of Wonder Co, Fremont, California, United States of America, 1985-1988. Click to enlarge.

'Teddy Ruxpin' animatronic teddy bear by Worlds of Wonder Co

Made
This plush toy, 'Teddy Ruxpin', is a children's talking teddy bear. It is an example of 1980s technology when toys changed from being static to interactive. The soft toy is the first commercial application of animatronics (Electronic Plush) developed by a former Disney animatronics engineer, Ken Forsse and his company Alchemy II. Teddy Ruxpin was then made commercially and marketed by Worlds of Wonder Co., of Freemont, California, USA, between 1985 and 1988.

The bear has a built-in cassette …

Summary

Object No.

2011/70/1

Object Statement

Teddy bear, 'Teddy Ruxpin', mixed materials, Worlds of Wonder Co, Fremont, California, United States of America, 1985-1988

Physical Description

Animatronic toy teddy bear with plush fur body, large head, small ears and moveable mouth. The bear is light brown in colour and wears a short sleeved orange top beneath a tan coloured tunic. The tunic has an embroidered logo with the bear's name 'Teddy Ruxpin'. The body of the bear contains a cassette tape player which can be accessed by lifting the tunic. The inserted audio cassettes synchronise the talking apparatus which control the bear's mouth with the story heard on the tape.

Marks

Embossed on back of teddy bear, 'TEDDY RUXPIN ® / © ALCHEMY II INC 1985 / WoW ™ WORLDS OF WONDER INC / FREMONT, CALIFORNIA 94538 / PATENTS PENDING'.

Dimensions

Height

530 mm

Width

350 mm

Depth

150 mm

Production

Notes

The teddy bear was made by Worlds of Wonder Co., Fremont, California, United States of America, 1985-1988.

The soft toy, Teddy Ruxpin, and the 65-espisode television series "The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin" were created by the author, producer and animatronics expert, Ken Forsse (b. 1936). The ideas and storylines behind the Teddy Ruxpin tales had begun to be conceived by Forsse as early as the 1950s. During the 1960s Forsse was an engineer working for Walt Disney in animatronics. He went on to establish his own company, Alchemy II, in the early the 1980s, creating content for his own projects and other performing and creative industries. Forsse initially employed a small group of other professionals from the entertainment industry including Leon Hefflin, Linda Pierson, Mary Becker, Larry Larsen and John Davies who helped him to develop the talking bear, Teddy Ruxpin, and create the animated television show which told of his adventures. Once the toy was perfected, Forsse contacted a former executive from the Atari Corp, Don Kingsborough, who was so engaged with the Teddy Ruxpin concept that he created a company, Worlds of Wonder (WoW), of Freemont, California, for its manufacture and marketing.

Released in 1985 the original Teddy Ruxpin talking bear, who wore a tan tunic, was an enormous success. Two slightly different versions were subsequently made, the second was the same size as the first but with a plastic tape player inside while the third was smaller and used cartridges instead of cassette tapes. Despite its success, Worlds of Wonder struggled financially and closed in 1991 due to over committing to the manufacture of too many different talking toys. The toy rights for Teddy Ruxpin were sold to Hasbro in the early 1990s and another version was made by YES! Entertainment from 1998. This comprised a smaller Teddy Ruxpin dressed in a red shirt and jeans. A Teddy Ruxpin back pack came out in 2006 made by BackPack toys.

The idea of talking toys goes back to the 1880s with dolls which cried "mama". Sharon Scott in her book "Toys and American Culture: An Encyclopaedia", outlined the history noting that the first successfully marketed talking doll was the French Bebe Phonographe with a phonograph mechanism inside. Designed by Henri Lioret in 1893 with a vocabulary of 35 words, she could sing and tell stories. Talking dolls were almost exclusively made in France until 1939 when the New York Effanbee Doll Co. released Touselhead Lovums, a doll with recording cylinders inside her torso. The first talking doll which became a mainstream toy was released in 1960. Chatty Cathy was activated by a pull-string mechanism and could "speak" 11 phrases and was said to be the most popular talking doll of the 20th century. Scott goes on to advise that talking dolls have become very sophisticated. In 2005 the Amazing Amanda Interactive Playmate Doll was released in the USA made by Playmate Toys. It is an artificial intelligence doll which uses voice recognition technology to recognise her owner and engages in a two-way conversation. She laughs and cries and is designed to act and look just like a toddler.

History

Notes

The teddy bear was purchased as a prop for 'The 80s are back' exhibition held at the Museum between 2010 and 2011. It was actively sought out by one of the curators working on the exhibition because of its technological significance involving the first commercial use of animatronics and was purchased on eBay. After the exhibition closed it was decided to acquire the toy as part of the Museum's permanent collection.

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Teddy Ruxpin' animatronic teddy bear by Worlds of Wonder Co 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 17 October 2021, <https://ma.as/417600>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/417600 |title='Teddy Ruxpin' animatronic teddy bear by Worlds of Wonder Co |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=17 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.