Born in 1985, the storytelling bear was the world's first animatronic toy. Seven million Teddy Ruxpins found their way into children's bedrooms (including mine), his soft voice serenading us with lullabies about the far-off land of Grundo.
Teddy was a bulky toy. Three servo motors in his head moved the eyes and mouth, but the bear's brains were in the cassette tapes you inserted in the player in his back. The same magnetic strip that played the audio also delivered the commands telling Teddy to move his eyes and mouth in sync with his narration. As kids flipped through picture books, Teddy read from one of his 60 story tapes (he could speak 13 languages).
The bear was a smash hit as soon as he landed on toy shelves, pulling in $93 million his first year -- unheard of for a new toy. Parents shelled out a whopping $70 for Teddy, the equivalent of $159 today. Teddy had a live-action movie and a cartoon TV series. There were Teddy bed sheets. Teddy wallpaper. Teddy picnic baskets. Teddy beach balls.
Teddy remained a best-seller -- until the magic ran out in 1987. That's when the Silicon Valley firm that funded Teddy went bankrupt, silencing his voice.
But not forever. After a long hibernation, the talking bear is returning for the holiday season, and with an updated look: LCD screen eyes, push-button paws and a Bluetooth-connected app. He retails for $100.