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What the . . . Teddy Ruxpin?

May 25, 2012

*What the…Friday? is a weekly Friday feature in which I resuscitate a video relic from the swampy pits of Pop Culture Wasteland.*

Today:  What the Teddy Ruxpin?

I missed Teddy Ruxpin.

No, I don’t mean I miss him.  Although of course I do.

I mean I missed him.

I mean, by the time that ol’ Teddyatronic train passed through Toytown, I had already left the station.

I mean, by the time he hit the malls, I was gone.

I mean, by his prime of 1986, I had moved on from gateway electronic dabbling to tripping on full-blown video games.

Which is tragic, really.  I mean, the part about narrowly missing a chance to have Teddy Ruxpin in my life.

In my life for 10 easy installments of $14.95, plus tax.  [2012 Inflation Adjustment:  $2,588.32]

I think I know how my parents must’ve felt, just narrowly missing the invention of the childhood polio vaccine.  Or maybe that was my grandparents.  Or maybe that was FDR.  Or maybe that was Helen Keller.  I don’t know much about science.

But I do know that had the technology existed sooner to allow me my own personal-sized animatronic theme park animal — golly gee whiz! — things would’ve been different.

Sure, to you he looked like this:

But really he was more like this:

We could’ve eaten pizza together on Saturday nights.  Just like this.  And we could’ve talked.  Well, right after I loaded a cassette tape into his spinal column.  After that, the sky was the limit.  We could’ve talked books, we could’ve talked more books, we could’ve sang songs — so long as they were all available on cassette tape and properly loaded into his spinal column.

Just look at the commercial, it speaks for itself.  He speaks for himself!

The poor kid in this Teddy Ruxpin commercial — he can’t even handle his own show-and-tell.  The kid is a loser, and he’s headed nowhere fast.  He’ll no doubt play video games in his parents’ basement for the next forty years.  Until they die.  From there he’ll preserve their bodies in a vat of Spaghetti-Os while continuing to accept their Social Security checks until he is arrested and sentenced to life in a Turkish prison.

But that doesn’t happen.  Because Teddy Ruxpin takes over show-and-tell and changes the kid’s life.  He changes everything.

What I would’ve given to have Teddy Ruxpin take over for me during my 6th grade oral report on Ghana.

It’s an African country.  Well, now I’m going to turn it over to my good friend Teddy Ruxpin who will tell you a little about Ghana’s chief exports.  

He would’ve been a friend to the end, even seeing me through to my senior graduation speech.

Guys, it’s been real.  Well, now I’m going to turn it over to my good friend Teddy Ruxpin who will tell you a little about the road less traveled.  

That is, assuming Robert Frost is available on cassette tape — that is, assuming it could load into Teddy’s spinal column.

87 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2012 6:07 am

    Oh, Angie,

    Don’t you know it would have been too hard on Teddy to live in your shadow. Sometimes things happen for a reason.

    I think you’ll like this post (and this movie): http://maureenholland.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/ill-take-the-laughs-where-i-can-get-them-and-this-made-me-laugh/

    • May 25, 2012 9:20 pm

      I’ve actually seen this movie preview — what in the hell, seriously. I’m probably going to watch it, secretly love it and then bash on it every chance I get. Yep, that’s my plan.

      Fantastic comparison.

      • May 25, 2012 9:32 pm

        I think it looks pretty hilarious. I will wait for the DVD though so I can drink copious amounts to get the full benefit of it

  2. May 25, 2012 6:18 am

    I was just a bit too old, too. My cousin had one, and believe me. You didn’t miss much.

    • May 25, 2012 9:23 pm

      I didn’t miss much except a Teddy-coated robot who could read books to me, c’mon! No, you’re right. I know you’re right.

  3. May 25, 2012 6:47 am

    I was more than a bit too old for Teddy Ruxpin. My talking Mrs. Beasley is now a collectable antique, but that’s a whole other issue. Every night I pulled the little string in her back and waited until she said “Would you like a drink of water?” That was incredible to me – a string, and a cycle of 5 endlessly repeated sentences.It was incredible watching Teddy Ruxpin’s video. Those kids snapped into rapt attention en masse on a dime. Did you see their pupils? It brought to mind ideas about population control through brainwashing.

    • May 25, 2012 9:24 pm

      I loved Mrs. Beasley and Family Affair.

      I think those kids are robots too.

  4. May 25, 2012 6:50 am

    Now I want a Teddy Ruxpin. Did you see how those kids looked like they were in a trance when he began talking? Teddy could have requested them to do anything, and they would have done it. I felt like I was watching a robotic Jim Jones.

    • May 25, 2012 9:56 pm

      Yes, Teddy Ruxpin, Jim Jones, Ryan Seacrest…all cult leaders to some degree. Teddy Ruxpin is a bit more attractive but otherwise they’re basically cut from the same cloth.

  5. May 25, 2012 6:57 am

    My cousin had one. and he was her favorite toy. It freaked me the hell out. I am still distrustful of Teddy today.

    • May 25, 2012 9:34 am

      I’m with you. I think Teddy’s creepiness is probably responsible for a lot of adults who have to sleep with the light on to this day.

    • May 25, 2012 11:54 am

      Am I the only one surprised that the Middlest Sister used the word hell?

    • May 25, 2012 9:59 pm

      Chrissy has taken over your WordPress account and is writing comments with words like “freaked” and “hell”. I thought you should know, Nicki. I hope you get this message.

  6. May 25, 2012 7:10 am

    I still sometimes secretly played with my Cabbage Patch Doll in 1986. Teddy Ruxpin just couldn’t compete with that no matter what he said. Maybe if he’d had cute outfits to change into.

    • May 25, 2012 10:21 pm

      I have an embarrassing confession that I now feel I have to make. In 1984 I was in 3rd grade and brought my Cabbage Patch Kids to church with me one Sunday. I am completely baffled by what I was thinking (or not thinking). Today I can’t imagine seeing a 9-year-old carrying a large doll with her out in public.

  7. May 25, 2012 7:38 am

    Teddy looks scary! I’m sure some of those things were possessed!

    • May 25, 2012 10:22 pm

      Yep, I’m certain of it too. I probably would’ve stored him in my closet with a windbreaker over his face, much like how my poor China doll Phoebe spent her nights.

  8. May 25, 2012 8:16 am

    Teddy gives me nightmares, Angie. I cannot look at him! Do NOT make eye contact,

    Showbiz pizza. Now THAT was the place. Way better than Chucky and his Cheese.

    • May 25, 2012 10:25 pm

      Do not make eye contact with him, do not taunt him, do not feed him after midnight either. All good things to remember.

      ShowBiz Pizza was too soon forgotten. I miss its animatronic band led by a giant gorilla — and I hope they get back together for a tour soon.

      • beck16 permalink
        May 29, 2012 12:35 pm

        hahahah!!! that’s awesome!!! i dont know why, but i completely forgot about the mechanical band. I used to stand in front of it amazed at how they were playing such great music yet hardly moving!
        a reunion tour would be terrific!

      • May 30, 2012 9:43 am

        I’m sure like most reunion tours, the band members would just rehash the same old issues they dealt with before and the fights would break out and the late night drinking would start again. I don’t know, maybe it’s not such a great idea.

  9. May 25, 2012 9:35 am

    I’m sorry you missed the Teddy train, but so glad you got a frequent-flyer pass on the “I mean” express. I mean, how do you do with “like” nowadays?

  10. May 25, 2012 11:07 am

    I always heard the stories that you could put anthrax cassettes in and he would headbang right along, but sadly my boyfriends were never that cool. We used to have a surgical tech at work of a portly nature that realy looked like Teddy in his strange radiology/dental jacket- why was he wearing a weird bulletproof vest thing? Did the manufacturers know we’d feel violently toward him?

    • May 25, 2012 10:28 pm

      Holy crap! In my original draft of this post, I’m not kidding, I included a bit about how he might be a covert CIA operative, apparent by his bulletproof vest. Why is he wearing a bulletproof vest and/or radiology/dental jacket? This is just one of many reasons why he should probably not be trusted alone with children.

      I think that surgical tech might be my brand new fantasy boyfriend.

  11. Jesse permalink
    May 25, 2012 1:17 pm

    Teddy R has grown up! He is now rooming with mark wahlberg, check out he “unedited ” movie trailer on you tube for TED

    • May 25, 2012 10:31 pm

      You are the second person here that mentioned this movie. I’ve seen it previewed already (I thought it was a joke at first), and the comparison never even crossed my mind when I wrote this. Why am I not consulting with you all before I write? I really need to, starting now.

  12. May 25, 2012 1:57 pm

    I was already in my mid-thirties, but my friends were having children and they tended to be either lovers or haters of Teddy. One friend really stands out. She was over forty and expecting her first child (and so by definition, NUTS). She went all over the state looking for her Teddy before the baby came, because he just had to be there in the nursery waiting for baby to be born. This same woman’s 80-year-old mother came to visit from out of state when the baby was about 5 months old. Mommy sent Grandma home after three days because Baby didn’t like Grandma. I tried to convince Mommy that Baby will get used to Grandma. But no dice. Teddy Yes. Grandma No.

    • May 25, 2012 10:32 pm

      What a fantastic story! Grandma go, Teddy stay. Perfect. That just about tells me everything I need to know about your friend. Is her child grown and in prison now?

      • May 26, 2012 3:06 pm

        I’m not sure why, but we drifted apart. It may have had something to do with the look of repulsion on my face when she sent her mother home. But I’m not sure. It’s possible she didn’t notice.
        (Her kid is probably running for President)

      • May 30, 2012 9:23 am

        Mitt Romney had a Teddy Ruxpin? Get outta town!

  13. May 25, 2012 2:00 pm

    And to think that the kids of my generation replaced Teddy Ruxpin with Digi Pets… Sad, sad day. All that we missed out on!

  14. May 25, 2012 2:57 pm

    Our kids had a talkng Big Bird until someone held his beak closed and then he talked like BIg Bird Stroke Victim.
    Anything from China that uses forty DD batteries HAS to be good for society.

    • May 25, 2012 10:35 pm

      Big Bird Stroke Victim. Sounds like a “very special episode” of Sesame Street.

  15. May 25, 2012 3:26 pm

    Like, OMG, I like, totally have something to tell you!

    I heard, from my sister’s best friend’s cousin’s boyfriend’s neighbor that Teddy Ruxpin one time tried to chew some little kid’s hair off their scalp…Like, I mean, they were just hanging out one day, and the kid innocently tried to cuddle Teddy, but then Teddy just went ballistic, and like, just took their hair in his mouth and started CHEWING it!!!! Ewww! Gag me with a spoon! That’s so gross!

    And like, other people say that it’s totally a myth, but I saw this on wikipedia—-and I just thought you ought to know…like, seriously…Wikipedia is like, so totally legit, soo…you know…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3ATeddy_Ruxpin#Hair_Chewing_Danger

    ;)

    • May 25, 2012 10:37 pm

      How much of a geek am I? I had the best time reading this and all the other Teddy Ruxpin information on this page. Including whether or not Teddy could play “ordinary” cassette tapes. Fascinating. I should’ve used this for research.

      Chewing off kids’ hair. I’d buy that.

      • May 26, 2012 12:20 am

        Wikipedia rocks! Are you gonna post something about My Buddy & Kid Sister next??

        You think you’re geeky…right after I saw the ad you posted about showbiz pizza, I went and googled it–and YouTubed it so I can sing along with the jingle…Gahh!

        I love your blogs. :)

      • May 30, 2012 9:15 am

        Yes, those two! I forgot about those two hooligans! I never had them as I was in junior high by then…but the commercial for My Buddy was definitely a fixture in my past life. I think everyone in my class knew the words to that song and had at least three other made-up variations to sing.

  16. May 25, 2012 8:24 pm

    Yeah, I’m with the others. Be glad you never had one. The second your head hit the pillow, you’d know you’d find him standing over you with tiny knives.

    Also, I am overjoyed that you mentioned FDR in this post. You are on a presidential roll! Speaking of that, did he ever get stuck in a tub?

    • May 25, 2012 10:38 pm

      I don’t know that FDR took baths, did he? Weren’t they in a depression and simultaneously a dust bowl and therefore preserving water? Or was that money? Or maybe soup?

  17. May 26, 2012 8:39 am

    Wow. I missed Teddy Ruxpin completely. That is truly creepy to no end. If I was a mother then and saw how quickly those kids were turned into zombies, I would have to have bought the cassettes labeled “Do Your Chores” and “Quit Hounding Your Mother” to complete the set. I would have saved the whole package for my future self.

  18. May 26, 2012 9:11 am

    I always liked to imagine follow-up Teddy Ruxpin ads. The kid gets picked on out on the playground, them Teddy intervenes… the kid get lost and Teddy shows up to guide him home… the kid is trapped in a burning car and Teddy pulls him free a moment before the explosion… etc.

    Ad guys. So short-sighted.

    • May 30, 2012 9:20 am

      The plotlines you’re coming up with here are beautiful. This plays right to my gut feeling that Teddy Ruxpin is something of a teddy bear MacGyver. He’s just never been given the chance to prove himself.

  19. May 26, 2012 10:24 am

    I feel your pain Angie, for I too missed the Teddy Ruxpin gravy boat. I had nothing but a lousy Etch a Sketch and Rubik’s Cube to console me.

    And the Cube was defective. Once I’d taken it apart, I couldn’t put it back together again. *Weeps*.

    Outstanding work as always. Delightful. :)

    • May 30, 2012 9:21 am

      I never had an Etch a Sketch! I always wanted one. And I was an arty kind of kid so I could’ve really rocked an Etch a Sketch.

      I think there were two kinds of kids: those who took apart their Rubik’s Cubes and those who didn’t and used them as paperweights.

  20. May 26, 2012 11:19 pm

    I think we had Teddy in the UK… I would’ve liked to have heard Teddy read Philip K. Dick’s “A Scanner Darkly” or, at the very least, one of Dick’s frequent short story forays into the paranoid parallel world of post-nuclear holocaust 1950’s America. :P

    (Okay, that’s enough alliteration for one night…)

    • May 30, 2012 9:24 am

      Whoa, you went so deep here that I headed right to a coffee shop and took up smoking. And I think you just raised the required IQ level for reading this post. For that, I applaud you.

  21. May 27, 2012 8:10 am

    You have no idea the role Teddy Ruxpin played in my life. And yet somehow I still wound up at the Geek Table by middle school.

    I LOVE that kid’s Joisey accent. “He tawks, he tells stories…”

    • May 27, 2012 8:11 am

      P.S. – You REALLY got me with: “From there he’ll preserve their bodies in a vat of Spaghetti-Os while continuing to accept their Social Security checks until he is arrested and sentenced to life in a Turkish prison.”

      • May 30, 2012 9:29 am

        Thank goodness Teddy Ruxpin saved the day! Turkish prisons would be a whole lot emptier if there were more Teddys in the world.

        And yes, I totally got that accent too. It sounds so odd to hear Joe Pesci’s voice coming from a little kid.

    • May 30, 2012 9:26 am

      Why am I not surprised that you had a Teddy Ruxpin? How in the world did that detail alone not win you friends (and this is not even taking into account your winning personality)?

  22. russelllindsey permalink
    May 27, 2012 1:03 pm

    Oh! Teddy Ruxpin and ShowBiz Pizza all in one post! I was at the perfect age for both. While I never did have Teddy Ruxpin, I had Cricket instead. She was a cute pig-tailed blonde girly version of Teddy Ruxpin. She too had the tape recorder in her back. I spent many an hour reading along with her

    As for ShowBiz…. WOW. I had my birthday party there at age 8. My Dad was stuck taking taking 8 screaming 8 year-old girls to the place by himself as my Mom was in the hospital at the time. I remember the horror on my Dad’s face when we all ran to use the bathroom before heading home. :D

    Good times.

    Lindsey

    • May 30, 2012 9:31 am

      I forgot about Cricket. Now I’m going to have to go dig up that commercial.

      I only got to go to ShowBiz Pizza once and I about passed out from the visual stimulation of it all. I don’t remember “pizza” even being a part of it.

  23. russelllindsey permalink
    May 27, 2012 1:05 pm

    By the way, I don’t remember the ShowBiz characters looking so dang creepy. They turned the ShowBiz I knew as a kid into a Chuck E. Cheese. It still stands. Sadly there have been several fights there in the last few years. It is located in Saginaw, MI, which has a pretty bad reputation for a reason. It wasn’t so when I was a kid.

    Lindsey

    • May 30, 2012 9:32 am

      Yes, they turned parks into parking lots and ShowBiz Pizzas into Chuck E. Cheeses. Tragic all around.

  24. russelllindsey permalink
    May 27, 2012 1:16 pm

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde and commented:
    Once again I find myself compelled to reblog Angie Z. Her pairing of Teddy Ruxpin and ShowBiz Pizza is another 80s classic.

  25. May 27, 2012 11:55 pm

    And this is why my generation is messed up. When kids couldn’t learn to make friends the normal way, they bought them. Or cried until their parents bought them.

    • May 30, 2012 9:37 am

      Don’t think we didn’t try the same. Our friends were Cabbage Patch Kids and they just didn’t talk back. Well, they did but not so that normal people could hear them.

  26. May 28, 2012 8:28 am

    never heard of him … had paddington and pooh though … oh and loved yogi

    • May 30, 2012 9:39 am

      Yes, Paddington Bear! I loved Paddington Bear.

      • May 30, 2012 9:42 am

        me too, and his little suitcase and hat

      • May 30, 2012 9:45 am

        I only ever saw the old cartoon/claymation bit that was played during Romper Room. I longed for a Paddington of my own, but that never happened.

      • May 30, 2012 10:39 am

        he was very popular over here in Ireland … but I never owned one either always wanted one

      • May 30, 2012 10:44 am

        Now I have to ask you if you ever saw the Simon chalk-drawing boy cartoon? I always watched it as a kid and I know it came out of the U.K. One of my blog readers from England doesn’t remember it, which is a travesty since it came straight from his homeland and his era. It makes me wonder if only us American kids enjoyed it because of the novelty of it being a foreign import.

      • May 30, 2012 10:57 am

        I have a vague idea of a little boy with a stripy shirt? but I have to say I think it may be before my time … came to Ireland from South Africa 75 and I was only one so I think I may be few years to young

      • May 30, 2012 10:59 am

        I was born in ’75.

        Check this out: http://youtu.be/gvVhLHPTUpY

      • May 30, 2012 11:30 am

        no he was an English thing sure we only had RTE1 and 2 till the 80s and he wasn’t here in Ireland maybe up north ?

      • May 30, 2012 11:34 am

        Sad! I think all the children of the world needed Simon. Although, I was ticked when my own chalk drawings didn’t come alive like this.

      • May 30, 2012 11:41 am

        i know like looking into every wardrobe and never fining narnia

  27. beck16 permalink
    May 29, 2012 12:29 pm

    Oh how I loved my teddy ruxpin!! :)
    what wonderful memories you have brought back with this post! Altho, I never got to take mine to show-and-tell. My life would probably be alot more successful if I had.

    • May 30, 2012 9:42 am

      What happened to your Teddy Ruxpin? Please tell me he didn’t end up in a trash dump somewhere. I can’t stand of the thought of him in a trash dump somewhere.

      • beck16 permalink
        May 30, 2012 1:03 pm

        As I got older my parents boxed up my stuff and moved it out to our storage barn. Maybe one day I’ll get to go out there and look thru to see if I still have him. What joy if he’s sitting in a box waiting for me! Altho, he’ll probably be mad at me for leaving him for so long and refuse to read to me.

      • May 31, 2012 12:57 pm

        If he’s not mad at you for that, I might be.

      • beck16 permalink
        June 1, 2012 4:30 pm

        whoopsie!

  28. May 30, 2012 8:02 am

    I was a mom already when Teddy burst onto the scene. Coming from a simpler time I preferred my toys non-electric/digital/mechanical so I didn’t get one for the kids. Probably a good thing for them cuz every time I saw one jabbering away in the grocery store I had this insane desire to furtively replace the tape with one of my own making. It was a toss up between Frank Zappa “…call any vegetable.” or subliminal messages on cleaning your plate. I think I was a tad bit conflicted about being a parent….

    • May 31, 2012 2:08 pm

      I’m right there with you. Simpler time. No electric/digital/mechanical toys. My children could relate well to Laura Ingalls. I’m sure your kids were much better off without the talking fur-covered zombie.

  29. June 3, 2012 3:05 pm

    Oh my gosh. My older sister had one and I loved him! By the time I got the hand-me-down Teddy, he didn’t really talk much (my sister decided to drop him repeatedly down the stairs).
    Although looking back, Teddy was quite creepy (Chucky anyone?). But if we only knew then that he would be the precursor to Furbies. Which were truly terrifying.

    • June 3, 2012 8:20 pm

      Yes! He is like Chucky! Why didn’t I ever see this before? That’s exactly how Teddy likes it, I bet. So cute and innocent. Until your back is turned…

  30. September 9, 2013 8:04 am

    In 2015 will be Teddy Ruxpin 30th birthday. We hope there be Teddy Ruxpin movie. CGI.

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