Here’s a little thing that debuted in 1985 and became the hottest selling toy for two years in a row, Teddy Ruxpin, an animatronic 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. He also had a friend named Grubby, which was a strange looking alien worm creature. Together they could sing songs and interact.
I never had one of these, but remember the commercial where a sad little boy brings him to class as his show and tell. Everyone in class is fidgety, bored and yawning until the bear magically comes to life saying, “My name is Teddy Ruxpin! Can you and I be friends?” Everyone in class begins to creepily and slowly nod and murmur “yes” in unison as though they had all taken the same hallucinogenic drug. It was creepy as hell, but that didn’t stop the bear from selling out everywhere.
My mother was an avid doll collector, but she felt this bear was too creepy, so she never purchased one. I was too old when it came out, but I loved the idea of a talking bear and wished I could have had one. Though I had to admit that it wasn’t the cutest quadriplegic teddy bear I’d seen and the slowly blinking eyes that return to a catatonic stare were a bit unsettling. But the fact that he could speak and tell stories still made him a pretty amazing little invention back in the day.