Nearly every one of us over the age of 30 that grew up in Canada probably remembers Teddy Ruxpin. With his cassette player filled, Teddy would move his eyes and speak whatever adventurous tale of his you were lucky to own. That was the right way to use Teddy Ruxpin. Most kids you speak to about Teddy Ruxpin remember the other side of the bear. The one where you played mom and dad’s KISS or AC/DC cassette instead of a storybook and got a kick out of doing that. Teddy’s eyes and mouth still did move after all right?
Teddy also branched out into a 65 episode TV series featuring his pals Newton Gimmick and Grubby which featured the memorable theme song “Come dream with me tonight.” Some 30 years after we all dreamt along with Teddy Ruxpin (except me because I had a talking Mother Goose instead) and scaled the land of Grundo, he’s now back in a revived form.
Teddy Ruxpin: What’s old is new again
When Teddy Ruxpin arrived in the box at my doorstep, I have to admit I was pretty excited. While 3 year old Matt never got to cuddle a Teddy Ruxpin, my 3 year old daughter certainly wanted to and cuddle she did! One of the benefits that Teddy has taken full advantage of is technology. Back in the 80s, Teddy was a bottom heavy bear that had a full sized cassette player and lots of moving parts and pieces. While Teddy was a storyteller at heart, the robotic noises blended in with his tales of whimsy.
Unfortunately, we lost Teddy’s creator Ken Forsse back in 2014 and he didn’t get to see his vision through, but they paid homage to him by emblazoning Teddy’s foot with his signature. This Teddy is dressed a little differently, but he still has that same feeling when you take him out of the box. Teddy is 14 inches tall and is light enough that a 2 year old could comfortably carry him around in a giant toddler hug. I’d say that he probably only weighs around 2 pounds at most, so he’s really manageable.
New Teddy is much quieter too. He doesn’t have the loud motors keeping him going anymore. His eyes are LCDs capable of over 40 different emotions. Gone is the bulky tape player in favour of a more svelte hard drive. Perhaps the only throwback left from old times is the fact that he still takes normal batteries. He does require 4 AA batteries, but the manufacturer says they can last for years at a time with the right care. We were able to use Teddy quite easily for bedtime stories.
Operating Teddy Ruxpin
Using the 21st century edition Teddy is pretty easy. It’s not “stick in a cassette and press play” easy, but it’s a very simple download of the free app followed by a Bluetooth sync up. Teddy has an on/off switch and a volume knob in his battery casing. The casing itself WILL require a screwdriver, but it’s better for your child’s safety that they don’t access the batteries.
Teddy and the mobile app are both outfitted with preloaded content. Chances are your 2 or 3 year old won’t notice and will want the same stories again and again (we were about to cross over into consecutive night 9 of “Scarecrow’s wedding” by Julia Donaldson before I used Teddy as a bedtime diversion) but your 4 or 5 year old will probably want more. I’ll get to that later on since you have some choices. Out of the box, you get access to 3 stories and 7 songs. Different actions lead to different effects. Teddy sings if you squeeze his left paw and tells one of his stories if you follow the directions from the mobile app while squeezing his right paw. You can then pause with his left paw. If you press the logo on his chest, you can skip pages too. Unfortunately, I did find skipping pages to be a bit buggy. The app and Teddy both crashed a couple of times, causing us to have to restart the story and get to where we were again. This is important to know because there’s no buffer for sensitivity on the button pushes. Once the button is pushed, it moves on to the next story.
Teddy can tell his stories without the app if your child isn’t allowed screen time. The stories are essentially the 80s books in digitized form, so you’ll hear all of the familiar voices you did again. It’d been a long time since I’d heard Grubby’s voice and it was a total trip down memory lane.
At bedtime, you can pull a sleep mask out of Teddy’s back pocket and place it around his eyes, signifying time to sleep. With the on/off switch safe (and a bit of parental trust in your child,) they can curl up together for a good night’s sleep. I’d really recommend putting the sleep mask on. Teddy looks a bit…creepy when he’s turned off and is staring at you with his black glassy eyes.
Building on the Teddy Ruxpin story library
One of the marvels of modern technology is the fact that you don’t have to go out to the store to buy a book and cassette any longer. Since everything is managed electronically, you just have to load up your app store and expand your library. No need to fight the rigors of 80s wrap rage either. Everything is delivered to you electronically at a lower cost than most kids’ storybooks nowadays in the time your little ones are brushing their teeth.
This new edition stays true to the Teddy Ruxpin brand. Parents (or grandparents,) you’ll remember some of the names he interacts with for sure. As a child of the 80s, and one that never turns down good nostalgia, I was absolutely enthralled by this blast from the past.
Perhaps one of the most refreshing things about new Teddy is that he doesn’t need new technology to thrive. Anybody with iOS 8 or Android 4.3 can use him, meaning that those of you as far back as the iPhone 4S generation can use him. That’s a good news story considering you’ll probably have your little one operating all of this and it’s a bit dangerous to stick them with your brand new iPhone or iPad in case they drop and crack it (although, keep in mind that Best Buy sells good phone cases to help prevent just this thing too.)
Come dream with me tonight
My daughter and I both enjoyed Teddy Ruxpin, and I think it’s something that’s going on her Christmas list now that she’s had some time with him. I suspect that this will be a hot gift this holiday season, given the excitement I’ve seen around this revival. Your children from ages 2 and up will definitely enjoy Teddy too, whether he’s used as just a storytelling bear, or one that will help your child learn to read. The new Teddy Ruxpin is finally available in Canada and you can get one now exclusively at Best Buy. Goodbye from the land of Grundo. Until we climb aboard the airship and meet again!