Almost everyone who was a child in the 80's knows about Teddy Ruxpin. The little robotic bear, creepy as it might be, had a major effect on the expectations American children have of toys. Suddenly, it wasn't enough for a toy to be soft and cuddly. It had to talk, and tell stories, and most importantly move it's mouth and blink while it did so.
What most people don't know, though, is that Teddy Ruxpin had a cousin. At some point in the 90's, the Tomy company took the beloved Teddy Ruxpin to a whole new level when they created TV Teddy. The concept was similar (an "interactive" bear) but was changed quite a bit to fit the new generation of kids it was supposed to entertain.
article image
TV Teddy came in a box with the following: the bear itself, an instruction booklet, some of those annoying red/yellow/white tipped wires, a transmittor, and a video cassette. The parent simply plugged the transmittor into the family's VCR, and popped in the video. As the video played, a special invisible control track sent signals to the transmittor which then sent signals to the bear, causing him to respond to what was on the tv.
To a seven year old child, this was the most miraculous thing in the world. Sure, Teddy Ruxpin could tell stories, but TV Teddy had actual conversations with the characters on your screen. He was the perfect toy for a generation of kids that had watched more tv by the time they entered 3rd or 4th grade than most of them would ever spend in school. Now, we didn't have to stop watching TV to play with our other toys (Toy Story had made us feel a bit guilty, you know...), the toy simply watched TV with us! And provided cute commentary to boot.
article image
Of course, you could get a little bored watching that one video over and over again. But don't worry! Tomy was determined to milk the most out of this franchise. You could buy many more videos, all with a different control track, for you and your furry, robotic pal to watch together. From classics like "Peter Rabbit" to "Bearenstin Bears" adventures, TV Teddy covered it all.
Looking back, however, it's obvious that TV Teddy was far less than the miricle my seven-year-old mind thought him to be. While his 80's counterpart told stories and talked to the child, TV Teddy talked to cartoon characters. The child just watched, giggled at the conversations, and was completely passive. I had almost all of the TV Teddy videos (sadly, they've all gone to VHS heaven in this DVD world) and not once do I remember TV Teddy trying to strike up a conversation with me. Instead, he talked to his buddy on the tape, whose lines were perfectly cued up to match the timing of TV Teddy's soundtrack.
TV Teddy: He was cute, but like his 80's cousin, it's the creepy that people will remember.