Exactly 30 years ago, lazy parents that didn’t want to read to their kids before bedtime received a godsend: Teddy Ruxpin. That name should ring a bell to anyone that still has clear memories of the 1980s, but if you don’t, all you need to know is that it’s a teddy bear that reads stories. He’s not some sort of cyborg bear from a distant future, but rather a standard teddy bear with a cassette recorder in its belly. To complete the effect, its mouth moved along with the story. Kids were easier to impress before the Internet.
As we await the release of Ted 2, we decided to take a look back at this vintage Teddy Ruxpin commercial. It opens with a kid with severe confidence issues showing off Teddy at show and tell. To put it mildly, the kids aren’t impressed. “Another teddy bear?” a future mean girl dressed like Vicki from Small Wonder snickers to a friend. A little boy with a Dee Dee Ramone haircut can’t even hold in a yawn as he hears about Teddy’s many virtues. Quite frankly, we can’t blame him. The kid is an absolutely horrible public speaker. He’s got a talking teddy bear, but he’s just not selling it.
Things take a dramatic turn when a cassette is popped into Teddy’s back and he introduces himself. Every trace of cynicism and boredom is instantly wiped off everyone’s face, replaced by shock, awe and pure delight. Show and tell is saved, and this is just the basic Teddy Ruxpin. Imagine how delighted they’d be if they met Teddy’s friend Grubby or his many outfits, including a tuxedo, raincoat and even pajamas.
The Teddy Ruxpin character was so popular that he got his own cartoon show in 1987 and Wendy’s even had a children’s meal connected to it. Teddy-mania fizzed out by the 1990s, though in 2005 BackPack Toys brought it back into toy stores, though today’s kids didn’t quite embrace it like their 1980s predecessors. Ted dolls, however, have become pretty popular since the original movie came out in 2012. Some of them even talk, through the R-rated one says things like “Fuck you thunder/You can suck my dick.” That would probably be an even bigger hit at show and tell.