Teddy Ruxpin, the talking bear that was the bestselling toy in 1985 and 1986 but wasn’t successful enough to keep its manufacturer from bankruptcy, is headed for store shelves in 2017 with a digital version that can connect to smartphones.
The cuddly bear, which first appeared in stores in 1985, was a cutting-edge plaything that was hailed as the first animated talking toy. The original version was operated by a compact tape cassette that delivered audio on one track and commands to move the eyes and the mouth on the other track. The toy told stories through the audio tapes.
The new version was created by Wicked Cool Toys, whose U.S. offices are in Pennsylvania, and has a 4 gigabyte hard drive that can store 40 stories. Through a Bluetooth connection, kids can read along with the stories on their smartphones and tablets.
“Teddy Ruxpin’s play-pattern and infusion of technology was way ahead of his time back in the 80’s,” said Michael Rinzler, co-president and founding partner of Wicked Cool Toys. “With continued massive parental awareness it’s the right time to bring back this coveted brand.”
But it’s going to be a while before parents and kids get a chance to see the Teddy Ruxpin for the digital age.
Wicked Cool Toys intends to make the new talking bear available from retail outlets in the fall of 2017, presumably in time for next year’s Christmas shopping season.
Word of the new Teddy Ruxpin quickly unleashed a storm of excitement on the Wicked Cool Toys Instagram site.
“Omg are you serious! ???? You guys ARE THE BEST!!! Best toy makers EVER! TR is one of the very best quality toys, I have ever seen,” Prinnyl133 wrote on the site.
The new Teddy Ruxpin can download content. The original toy’s moving eyes have been replaced with tiny round LCD displays. Those displays show full-color animations of Teddy blinking and looking around.
This is the fifth version of Teddy Ruxpin. Fremont-based Worlds of Wonder created the original, which was a huge success. But financial woes eventually doomed Worlds of Wonder, which was founded by former Atari employees, including legendary entrepreneur Donald Kingsborough. Worlds of Wonder filed for bankruptcy in 1987, was liquidated in 1988 and went completely out of business in 1990.
“I’ve been talking about this all week to anyone who’ll listen,” CorrugatedRobot wrote about the new Teddy Ruxpin on the Instagram blog.